Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati Ji has written several books and was also able to translate Yajurveda in its entirety and the Rigveda only up to mandal six before he was taken away from us. He started translating both Yajurveda and Rigveda in Vikram Samwat 1934 or Gregorian year 1877, which was six years prior to his fatal poisoning in 1883. He gave priority to the translation of Yajurveda but he had other priorities before continuing the translation of Rigveda and that is why its translation was not completed.
His well-known publications are three: Satyarth Prakash (the light of truth), Sanskar Vidhi (the book of 16 sacraments), and Rigvedadi Bhashya Bhoomika (introduction to the Vedas). His other publications are small and are Aryabhivinay, Kaashi shaastrath, Satya dharm vichaar, Ved virudha mat khandanam, Bhranti ivarana, Vyavahar bhanu, Aryo-ddesh ratnamala, and his biography , or Aatma katha.
The book Introduction to the Vedas consists of several chapters.
The first chapter deals with the subject of God. He clearly declares that anyone, who does not worship all knowing, all pervading, and all-powerful formless God, who has never taken birth nor will take birth cannot benefit from the prayer. Swami Ji stresses on the principles of selfless service, detachment (living with a feeling of renunciation), and complete surrender to God. He also says that God has both positive and negative attributes. Examples of positive attributes are that God is pure, all knowing, and ever present. The negative qualities are those attributes which God does not have. Examples include that he does not take birth, nor die, does not create sin, and is formless. He guides us in our entire lives. Whether we listen to his guidance is a different story. God has equipped us with the capability of having the highest level of intellect, or medha bhuddi. It is this intellect, which if utilized appropriately in life, can lead to everlasting peace, and happiness and the absence of which can have horrible results. While reciting gayatri mantra, we ask “dhi yoyo nah pracho dayat”. One should never ask God for fulfillment of wrongful desires, such as asking God to harm others, or asking for powers to rule over others. Swami Ji says that we should do Sandhya and dhyaan, i.e. “meditate upon God on a daily basis”, even if it for a few minutes a day. He even goes as far as saying that one who does not meditate upon the qualities of God or does not seek those qualities is selfish, thankless, and probably a fool.
Swami Ji had experienced God through samadhi, since he was a Sampoorna Rishi and Yog. His guidance and teaching are profound and real. Swami Ji has stressed that we should ask for togetherness and welfare of all. The Mantra “Vishvani Deva Savitur Duritani Parasuvah” was his favourite which we ask God for removal of all our “dhuk, durgan, aur durvyasan”, or harmful quialites and then give us good qualities. Swami Ji says that we should pray for peace that exists in this universe, and that all our thoughts and actions be peaceful. He reminds us about the immense power that human mind has. Through the appropriate use and control of our mind, a lot can be achieved in life and by its misuse, the results can be catastrophic. Through the 6 mantras in the 34th chapter of Yajurveda collectively called the shiv sankalpa mantras, Swami Ji says our mind wanders while we are awake as well as in our sleep. By controlling this powerful mind, our sages and scientists have reached to the heights. May this mind of auspicious thoughts(tanme manah shiv sankalpam astu).
In the second chapter, Swami Ji deals with the origin of Vedas. In essence, he says the Vedas are four, and were revealed to 4 chosen rishis while they were in deep state of meditation in coded form, which was encoded by them and further propagated to disciple Brahma, who then passed this knowledge on subsequently through the oral tradition for long long time before finally it was put on written form. It is because of this oral tradition, the Vedas are called Shruti. He clearly states that Vedas are not a human creation. This is a knowledge which is eternal, was there before this creation, and will always be there. He further states that God has no gender and both our mother and father. Even without having any body parts, God has given us this knowledge through the media of chosen rishis as explained above.
In the third and fourth chapters, he further states that Vedis knowledge has existed eternally and have by excreated by God for human welfare. Vedas are like the manual which comes with any equipment which we buy. He also says that Vedas are self proof or Swatah Praman. In fifth chapter , Swami Ji describes that there are three things in the universe, The God, Soul and the Nature or Prakriti and Vedas have knowledge about all of these. He has described in depth about our day-to-day code of conduct, need and form of worship, and meditation. Interestingly, in Vedas and Upanishads, knowledge of God and soul has been referred to as Vidya, and knowledge of nature has been interestingly called Avidyaa, These two terms have also been called apara and para vidhya. While talking about rituals and code of conduct, Swami Ji, through the medium of Vedic hymns, reminds us and guides us about our duties to ourselves, and other souls. He says that both individualism and socialism are equally necessary. He says that there are living Gods (parents and elders), and nonliving gods such as the sun and other elements such as water, air etc. which give us life. Swami Ji stresses on doing daily Dev Yajya or havan for the purification of atmosphere. He differentiates between the Devata and Eeshwar. Swami Ji describes that the word Devata could be of three different types: These are: those who donates( not necessary just the money), those who guide us appropriately, and those who teach honesty and are honest in their teachings(practice what they preach). The ultimate one who has all these qualities in their most perfect form is God as described above. Other examples of these Devata are, human beings, specially our parents, teachers, guests, all our senses, and mind. Through the medium of the hymns, or mantra, from the first chapter of Rigveda, Swami Ji says that God is our lord, friend, sustainer, and the ultimate truth. Although God has so many attributes with different names for different attributes or qualities his/her main or personal names is “om”.
The next topic dealt by Swami Ji in this fine book is how to achieve salvation. He says that one can remove various forms of sorrows in life by being able to know all the true nature and purpose of all that exists around us. Only then we can achieve the state of Ananda or the eternal bliss and then the salvation. Swami Ji says that things which we see visibly around us are not eternal. This includes all material thing. Even our body is not eternal. Only God, soul, and the nature in its invisible and original form are eternal. He teaches us that there are several doors to hell. Examples of these are: ego, greed, attachment, anger, and fear of death. Pretty much similar message was given by lord Krishna to Arjun in the second chapter of Gita when Arjun was put in a tough situation of having to fight war with his loved ones and respectables. In the next chapter, Swami Ji deals with the subject or rebirth or Punarjanma. He says that when one dies, soul departs along the subtle and causal body, taking with it all the sanchit karma to the next life. So one can see that only the physical body changes in the next birth. The next birth of a person could be in the form of human, or any other being. The phenomenon of rebirth has been dealt in Nirukta, Yoga Darshaan, and many other scriptures as well.
Some of the other teachings are the stress on the need for unity, comradeship, honesty, respect for others, and tapa or hard work, and honesty in our thoughts, speech, and action. Swami Ji strongly suggests that although all are essential, the National and Social interests should take precedence over those of the individuals themselves. This is clearly stated in the 10 principles of Arya Samaj as well.
In the next chapter, Swami Ji summarizes the four varnaas or groups is the societ., These are Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudrhra. These should be based on what they can do and not by brith as unfortunately is system of many centuries and has been called the caste system. He quotes from Manusmraati that we are all born as Shudra and only by an improved code of conduct we can elevate ourselves to a level of other three varnas. In the next chapter, Swami Ji talks about the four stages of life. These are: student life(Brahmacharyashram), family life(Grihasthashram), detached life(Vanprastha) and finally the Sanyas Ashram. He gets into the detail of these different stages of life, responsibilities and necessities. Same is the message in the second, third, fourth, and fifth chapters of Satyarth Prakaash. In the next chapter, Swami Ji talks about the five Yajyas: Brahma yajya, Deva yajya, Pitra Yajya, Athithi yajya, and Baliveshwadeva Yajya. That is, Sandhya, havan, respect and duty towards parents, elders, other souls, and nature. The next chapter deals with the subject of rulers, or kings. He gets into the qualifications of a ruler, the details of governance, governing bodies, coronation, and how to make a nation stable and prosper. The next chapter deals with the creation. He also reveals that Vedas give details about science as well in the formula form. There are details about different metals, machinery, how to build a plane, instruments etc. Knowledge of Aayurveda has come from Vedas as well. Of course the art, music and dances have their roots in Vedas as well. Actually according to him, Vedas have the basic formulas about all that is needed in life.
I am convinced and humbly wish to say that all the Vedic teaching have been beautifully summarized in this book by the great Swami Dayanand Saraswati.
I could not have written this article without the help of my parents. I want to acknowledge that they have been guiding me all along in my understanding of Arya Samaj, Hindu dharma, and religion as a whole. I still have a lot more to learn yet in this necessary field.