Biography of Swami Dayananda Saraswati
In the 19th century, India had forgotten her glorious heritage and was over-run by foreign powers. During this time, Swami Dayananda Saraswati came to the fore and established the Arya Samaj. He coined the slogan “Back to the Vedas” to promote interest in India’s hoary history of vedic knowledge. Dayananda Saraswati also started reforms against outdated and illogical social practices such as child marriage and the caste system. This article details the
biography of Swami Dayananda Saraswati.
Swami Dayanand was born Moolshankar in February, 1824, in the state of Gujarat. His father, Karsanji Trivedi, sought to instill vedic knowledge into the young child. Moolshankar mastered the vedic scriptures at a young age. One particular incident, disillusioned young Moolshankar about idol worship. One day, he was sitting in the sanctum of a Shiva temple. He noticed a mouse taking the offering left before the idol. This made him think about the usefulness of image worship.
Another important event in Moolshankar’s childhood set him on the path of asceticim. He lost his uncle, who had loved him dearly. Young Moolshankar realized that earthly attractions were transient. Therefore, he left home even though his marriage had been arranged, and became an ascetic.
Belief in One God
Swami Dayand wandered all over India leading a simple lifestyle. He adopted Swami Virajanand as his guru and received spiritual knowledge from him. Swami Dayanand started preaching against negative social customs such as casteism, blind idol worship and the ban imposed on women from studying vedas. He believed in a formless God, and was against polytheism.
The Arya Samaj
Swami Dayanand founded the Arya Samaj in 1875 in Bombay. His aim was to reform Hindu society. Swami Dayanand supported inter-caste marriages and claimed everyone could study the vedas, not just Brahmins. He also laid stress on reconverting those who had converted to Christianity or Islam. The Arya Samaj not only reformed Hinduism, but also gave an impetus to the freedom movement.
A Lasting Legacy
Swami Dayanand’s untiring efforts to reform Hindu society earned him the wrath of some orthodox Hindus. They tried to poison him umpteen times. Swami Dayanand escaped many attempts on his life, but finally succumbed to one such attempt to poison him. His legacy has been kept alive by the Arya Samaj, and a number of Dayananda Anglo Vedic (DAV) schools, community halls, libraries and hospitals.