The founder of Arya Samaj (the Society of Nobles), Swami Dayanand Saraswati was one of the greatest religious leaders ever born in India He advocated for the equal right of women and condemned practices such as untouchability, animal sacrifice, idol worship, etc.
Swami Dayanand Saraswati was born as Mool Shankar Tiwari to a pious Gujarati couple in 1824, Mool Shankar had an inquisitive mind, and a compassionate nature from his childhood. Once on a Shivaratri festival day, which is observed by fasting and keeping awake the whole night in obedience to Lord Shiva, he saw a mouse dancing on the Shivalinga idol. He tried to find out from elders why this "God Almighty" could not defend himself against the menace of a petty mouse, for which he was rebuked! The sudden death of a favorite uncle, and his beloved sister caused much turmoil in Mool Shankar. He became quite detached from the world, and one day left home, in search of a guru.
The search was long and arduous. Finally, at the age of thirty-six he found his mentor in Virajananda Saraswati, who was blind, but was a master of the ancient lore. The training was rigorous, and the guru was ruthless. But here was a disciple of a lifetime. As the teacher's fee (gurudakshina) he wanted his student to devote his life for the revival of Hinduism. The guru called him Dayananda.
Dayananda Saraswathi believed thet the Vedas were perfect and infalliable. He advocated the doctrine of Karma, skepticism in dogma, and emphasised the ideals of brahmacharya (celibacy and devotion to God).
Arya Samaj or the 'Society of Nobles' is a Hindu reform movement, founded by Swami Dayanand Saraswati in the year 1875. The main principles, on which Arya Samaj is based, are as follows:
- Ancestor worship
- Animal sacrifices
- Caste system
- Child marriages
- Discrimination against women
- Idol worship