Dayanand Saraswati Biography
Founder of the Arya Samaj, Dayanand Saraswati preached egalitarianism as opposed to the widespread casteism prevalent in the society during his lifetime. Born as Mool Shankar Tiwari in 1824 in Tankara, Gujarat, he was brought up in a conservative household.
Once his father had taken him to a temple to pay obeisance to Lord Shiva. When Dayanand saw a rat nibbling at the offerings made to Lord Shiva, he was flummoxed and wondered as to why the Lord Almighty could not defend himself from am ordinary mice. This incident was to shake Daya Nand Saraswati’s faith in idol worship and religious rites.
He fled from home at the age of nineteen. Though he was caught, he fled again in 1845. He wandered here and there till he found a guru in Swami Virjanand Saraswati at Mathura. It was Virjanand Saraswati who gave him the name Dayanand. He hit the roads once again, giving speeches in which he criticized the caste system, idol worship, animal sacrifice, ancestor worship, discrimination against women and child marriages. He founded the Arya Samaj in 1875 and encouraged the study of the sciences and technology. The Arya Samaj promoted the equality of all men, whether rich or poor, men or women and rejected the oppressive caste system. He preached his teaching through his book “Satyarth Prakash” (The Light of Truth). He quoted the vedas and other religious texts while preaching that salvation was not the only motto of a Hindu or Arya. According to Dayanand Saraswati, it was important to lead a worldly life and work for a noble cause.
The Theosophical Society and the Arya Samaj came together under the name Theosophical Society of the Arya Samaj. He was an advocate of the right of women to education and reading the scriptures. He translated the Vedas from Sanskrit to Hindi for the benefit of the common man. He challenged the Hindu scholars and priests during those times with his sound arguments.
He was critical of other religions like Islam and Christianity. He elucidated his concept of Dharma in his Beliefs and Disbeliefs. He propagated the idea of self-determination or Swaraj for India. His thoughts and actions won him many enemies. He was poisoned to death during a visit to the Maharaja of Jodhpur in 1883 during Deepavali.