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Dayanand Saraswati

This article is about the founder of the Arya Samaj. For other uses, see Swami Dayananda (disambiguation).

Dayananda Saraswati
Born Mul Shankar Tiwari or Mulshankar Karasandas Tiwari /Shuddha Chaitanya as Brahmachari
(1824-02-12)12 February 1824
Tankara, Gujarat
Died 30 October 1883(1883-10-30) (aged 59)
Ajmer, Rajasthan
Nationality Indian
Titles/honours Sindhi Marhu
Guru Swami Virajananda Dandi
Philosophy Traitvad vedic philosophy based on Samhita of four Vedas and its theory derived on Nighantu and Nirukta with six Darshanas supported by Paniniya Vyakaran.
Literary works Satyarth Prakash (1875)
Quotation "Om vishwani dev savitar duritani parasuv yad bhadram tanna aasuva."

Dayanand Saraswati

One of his notable disciples was Shyamji Krishna Varma, who founded India House in London and guided other revolutionaries. Others who were influenced by and followed him included Madam Cama, Pandit Guru Dutt Vidyarthi,[7] Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Lala Hardayal, Madan Lal Dhingra, Ram Prasad Bismil, Bhagat Singh, Mahadev Govind Ranade[8] Swami Shraddhanand, Mahatma Hansraj, Lala Lajpat Rai[9][10] and others. One of his most influential works is the book Satyarth Prakash, which contributed to the Indian independence movement. He was a sanyasi (ascetic) from boyhood, and a scholar, who believed in the infallible authority of the Vedas.

Maharshi Dayananda advocated the doctrine of Karma (Karmasiddhanta in Hinduism) and Reincarnation (Punarjanma in Hinduism). He emphasized the Vedic ideals of brahmacharya (celibacy) and devotion to God. The Theosophical Society and the Arya Samaj were united from 1878 to 1882, becoming the Theosophical Society of the Arya Samaj.[11] Among Maharshi Dayananda's contributions are his promoting of the equal rights for women, such as the right to education and reading of Indian scriptures, and his intuitive commentary on the Vedas from Vedic Sanskrit in Sanskrit as well as Hindi so that the common man might be able to read them. Dayanand was the first to give the word of Swadeshi long before Mahatma Gandhi.[12]

Early life

Dayanand Saraswati was born on 10, February, 1824 in Tankara, near Morvi in the Kathiawad region (now Rajkot district of Gujarat). His original name was Mool Shankar. His father's name was Karshanji Lalji Tiwari and mother's name was Yashodabai. Theirs was a Brahmin family. A tax collector, his father was a rich, prosperous and influential person. He was the head of an eminent Brahmin family of the village. When Mool Shankar was eight years old, Yajnopavita Sanskara, or the investiture with thread of the "twice-born" were performed. His father was a follower of Shiva and taught Dayanand Saraswati the ways to impress the Lord. Dayanand was also told the importance of keeping fasts. On the occasion of Shivratri, Dayanand had to sit awake the whole night in obedience to Lord Shiva. One such night, he saw a mouse eating the offerings to the God and running over the idol's body. After seeing this, he questioned himself, if the God could not defend himself against a little mouse then how could he be the savior of the massive world.

Since he was born under Mul Nakshatra, he was named "Moolshankar", and led a comfortable early life, studying Sanskrit, the Vedas and other religious texts to prepare himself for a future as a Hindu priest.[13][14]

The deaths of his younger sister and his uncle from cholera caused Dayananda to ponder the meaning of life and death and he started asking questions which worried his parents. He was to be married in his early teens, as was common in nineteenth-century India, but he decided marriage was not for him and in 1846 ran away from home.[15][16]

Dayananda Sarasvati spent nearly twenty-five years, from 1845 to 1869, as a wandering ascetic, searching for religious truth. An ascetic is someone who gives up material goods and lives a life of self-denial, devoted to spiritual matters. He lived in jungles, in retreats in the Himalayan Mountains, and at a number of pilgrimage sites in northern India. During these years Dayananda Sarasvati practiced various forms of yoga. He became a disciple, or follower, of a well-known religious teacher, Virajanand Dandeesha (sometimes spelled Birajananda). Virajanand believed that Hinduism had strayed from its historical roots and that many of its practices had become impure. Dayananda Sarasvati promised Virajanand that he would devote his life to restoring the rightful place of the Vedas in the Hindu faith.[17]

Dayanand's mission

Dayananda mission was not to start or set up any new religion but to tell the humankind for Universal Brotherhood through nobility as spelt out in Vedas. For that mission he founded Arya Samaj enunciating the Ten Universal Principles as a code for Universalism Krinvanto Vishwaryam meaning the whole world be an abode for Nobles (Aryas). His next step was to take up the difficult task of reforming Hinduism with dedication despite multiple repeated attempts on his personal life. He traveled the country challenging religious scholars and priests to discussions and won repeatedly on the strength of his arguments based on his knowledge of Sanskrit and Vedas.[18] He believed that Hinduism had been corrupted by divergence from the founding principles of the Vedas and that Hindus had been misled by the priesthood for the priests' self-aggrandizement. Hindu priests discouraged the laity from reading Vedic scriptures and encouraged rituals, such as bathing in the Ganges River and feeding of priests on anniversaries, which Dayananda pronounced as superstitions or self-serving practices. By exhorting the nation to reject such superstitious notions, his aim was to educate the nation to Go back to the Vedas. He wanted the people who followed Hinduism to go back to its roots and to follow the Vedic life, which he pointed out. He exhorted the Hindu nation to accept social reforms like the abolition of untouchability, sati, and dowry, Education of women, Swadeshi and importance of Cows for national prosperity as well as the adoption of Hindi as the national language for national integration. Through his daily life and practice of yoga and asanas, teachings, preachings, sermons and writings, he inspired the Hindu nation to aspire to Swarajya (self governance), nationalism, and spiritualism. He advocated the equal rights and respects to women and advocated the education of a girl child like the males.

Swami Dayanand did logical, scientific and critical analyses of all faiths i.e. Christianity & Islam as well as of other Indian faiths like Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. In addition to denouncing idolatry in Hinduism, as may be seen in his book Satyarth Prakash.[19] He was against what he considered to be the corruption of the true and pure faith in his own country. Unlike many other reform movements of his times within Hinduism, the Arya Samaj's appeal was addressed not only to the educated few in India, but to the world as a whole as evidenced in the sixth principle of the Arya Samaj.In fact his teachings professed universalism for the all living beings and not for any particular sect, faith, community or nation.

Arya Samaj allows and encourages converts to Hinduism. Dayananda’s concept of dharma is stated in the "Beliefs and Disbeliefs" section of Satyartha Prakash. He said:

"I accept as Dharma whatever is in full conformity with impartial justice, truthfulness and the like; that which is not opposed to the teachings of God as embodied in the Vedas. Whatever is not free from partiality and is unjust, partaking of untruth and the like, and opposed to the teachings of God as embodied in the Vedas—that I hold as adharma"

He also said:
"He, who after careful thinking, is ever ready to accept truth and reject falsehood; who counts the happiness of others as he does that of his own self, him I call just."

Satyarth Prakash

Dayananda's Vedic message was to emphasize respect and reverence for other human beings, supported by the Vedic notion of the divine nature of the individual–divine because the body was the temple where the human essence (soul or "atma") had the possibility to interface with the creator ("Paramatma"). In the ten principles of the Arya Samaj, he enshrined the idea that "All actions should be performed with the prime objective of benefiting mankind", as opposed to following dogmatic rituals or revering idols and symbols. The first five principles speak of Truth and the other five of a society with nobility, civics, co-living and disciplined life. In his own life, he interpreted moksha to be a lower calling (due to its benefit to one individual) than the calling to emancipate others.

Dayananda's "back to the Vedas" message influenced many thinkers and philosophers the world over.[20]

Arya Samaj

Main article: Arya Samaj

Swami Dayananda's creations, the Arya Samaj, unequivocally condemns idol worship, animal sacrifice, ancestor worship, pilgrimages, priest craft, offerings made in temples, the caste system, untouchability, child marriages and discrimination against women on the grounds that all these lacked Vedic sanction. The Arya Samaj discourages dogma and symbolism and encourages skepticism in beliefs that run contrary to common sense and logic. To many people, the Arya Samaj aims to be a "universal society" based on the authority of the Vedas. However, in popular culture, it is considered a short cut way of getting married for runaway lovers. Marriage certificate issued by Arya samaj is valid for 60 days after which it needs to be ratified by the concerned Registrar of marriages which, in turn, issues the formal certificate of marriage.[21]

However, Swami Dayananand showed extreme rationalism and paradoxically made many assumptions while interpreting the Veda. Thus, he posited that Brahman could be the only God, and denied the existence of the lower gods. He also partially accepted the authority of the Shastras and the commentaries of Sayana.

The Shastras, much like the Vedas according to the Sanatana dharma, are correct because of the yogaja pramana of the rishis. The gods cannot either be discovered by the senses or by reason.

Death

Dayananda was subjected to many unsuccessful attempts on his life because of his efforts to reform the Hindu society such as killing dangerous snakes worshiped in temples across India.[22] In 1883 Dayananda was invited by the Maharaja of Jodhpur to stay at his palace. The Maharaja was eager to become his disciple and learn his teachings. One day Dayananda went to the Maharaja's rest room and saw him with a dance girl named Nanhi Jan. Dayananda boldly asked the Maharaja to forsake the girl and all unethical acts and follow dharma like a true Aryan. Dayananda's suggestion offended the dance girl and she decided to take revenge.[1] She bribed Dayananda's cook to poison him. At bedtime, the cook brought him a glass of milk containing poison and powdered glass. Dayananda drank the milk and went to sleep only to wake up later with a burning sensation. He immediately realized that he had been poisoned and attempted to purge his digestive system of the poisonous substance, but it was too late. The poison had already entered his bloodstream. Dayananda was bedridden and suffered excruciating pain. Many doctors came to treat him but all was in vain. His body was covered all over with large bleeding sores. On seeing Dayananda's suffering the cook was overcome with unbearable guilt and remorse. He confessed his crime to Dayananda. On his deathbed, Dayananda forgave him and gave him a bag of money and told him to flee the kingdom lest he be found out and executed by the Maharaja's men.[1]

"A man of spirit has passed away from India. Pandit Dayananda Saraswati is gone, the irrepressible, energetic reformer, whose mighty voice and passionate eloquence for the last few years raised thousands of people in India from, lethargic, indifference and stupor into active patriotism is no more." – Col Henry Steel Olcott.[23]
"Swami Dayananda Saraswati is certainly one of the most powerful personalities who has shaped modern India and is responsible for its moral regeneration and religious revival". – Subhas Chandra Bose.[24]

Works

Dayananda Saraswati wrote more than 60 works in all, including a 16 volume explanation of the six Vedangas, an incomplete commentary on the Ashtadhyayi (Panini's grammar), several small tracts on ethics and morality, Vedic rituals and sacraments and on criticism of rival doctrines (such as Advaita Vedanta, Islam and Christianity). Some of his major works are Satyarth Prakash, Sanskarvidhi, RigvedadiBhashyaBhumika, Rigved Bhashyam (up to 7/61/2)and Yajurved Bhashyam. The Paropakarini Sabha located in the Indian city of Ajmer was founded by the Swami himself to publish and preach his works and Vedic texts.

Complete list of his works

References

Further reading

  • Dayananda Saraswati, Founder of Arya Samaj, by Arjan Singh Bawa. Published by Ess Ess Publications, 1979 (1st edition:1901).
  • Swami Dayanand Saraswati, by Dhanpati Pandey. Published by Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India, 1985.
  • , Ganga Ram Garg. Concept Publishing Company. 1986.
  • Indian Political Tradition, by D.K Mohanty. Published by Anmol Publications PVT. LTD. ISBN 81-261-2033-9. Chapter 4: Dayananda Saraswati Page 92.
  • Rashtra Pitamah Swami Dayanand Saraswati by Rajender Sethi (M R Sethi Educational Trust Chandigarh 2006)
  • Aurobindo Ghosh, in Bankim Tilak Dayanand (Calcutta 1947 p 1, 39)
  • Arya Samaj And The Freedom Movement by K C Yadav & K S Arya -Manohar Publications Delhi 1988
  • ISBN 1425484840)

Footnotes

  • [2]
  • R̥gvedādi-bhāṣya-bhūmikā / An Introduction to the Commentary on the Vedas. ed. B. Ghasi Ram, Meerut (1925). reprints 1981, 1984 [4]
  • Glorious Thoughts of Swami Dayananda. ed. New Book Society of India, 1966 [5]
  • An introduction to the commentary on the Vedas. Jan Gyan-Prakashan, 1973.Flipkart.com: An Introduction To The Commentary On The VEDAS: Dayananda (9788170771296)
  • Autobiography, ed. Kripal Chandra Yadav, New Delhi : Manohar, 1978.ISBN 0685196682
  • Yajurvēda bhāṣyam : Samskr̥tabhāṣyaṃ, Āndhraṭīkātātparyaṃ, Āṅglabhāvārthasahitaṅgā, ed. Mar̲r̲i Kr̥ṣṇāreḍḍi, Haidarābād : Vaidika Sāhitya Pracāra Samiti, 2005.
  • The philosophy of religion in India, Delhi : Bharatiya Kala Prakashan, 2005, ISBN 81-8090-079-7
  • Dr.'Krant'M.L.Verma Swadhinta Sangram Ke Krantikari Sahitya Ka Itihas (3 Volumes) 2006 Praveen Prakashan 4760-61 23 Ansari Road Daryaganj New Delhi 110002 ISBN 81-7783-122-4 (Set)
  • Prem Lata, Swami Dayananda Sarasvati (1990) [6]
  • Autobiography of Swami Dayanand Saraswati (1976) [7]
  • M. Ruthven, Fundamentalism: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, USA (2007), ISBN 978-0-19-921270-5.
  • N. A. Salmond, Hindu Iconoclasts: Rammohun Roy, Dayananda Sarasvati and nineteenth-century polemics against Idolatry (2004) [8]

External links

  • All about Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati
  • Satyarth Prakash – THE "LIGHT OF TRUTH" by Swami Dayanand Online book
  • Read Satyarth Prakash Online
  • For date of birth 12-2-1824 forged by British Islamic India , who made the Arya Samaj Act of 1937 to sabotage the 13th Samskara of Hindu marriages.
  • Dayanand Saraswati (1824-1883)
  • Life and Teaching of Swami Dayanand

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