What is Arya Samaj?
Founded by Swami Dayananda on April 7, 1875, the Arya Samaj is a movement that stood against any and all discriminatory practices such as idol worship and rituals created by the Brahmins to dominate society, social stigma such as as casteism and untouchability, child marriage and forced widowhood, which were prevalent in the 19th century, all the way to the struggle for India’s independence. A long list of revolutionaries has been behind the Arya Samaj movement from all parts of India (Punjab, Maharashtra, Gujarat) including Subhash Chandra Bose, Lala Lajpat Rai, Swami Shraddhanand, Pandit Lekh Ram, Sardar Vallabhai Patel. Swami Dayanand believed that going back to the roots of the Hindu faith – the Vedas – Hindus could improve their social, political, and economic conditions. Arya Samaj and its founder, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, especially championed the cause for the advancement of girls and women to progress in society at a time when a number of backward practices for women existed (non-education of the girl child, ill-treatment of widows, sati, etc).
Back to the Vedas
Arya Samaj is a reform movement to revitalize the roots of Hinduism and the Vedas. In order to re-energize Vedic knowledge of the four Vedas – Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, and Atharva Veda – Swami Dayanand wrote and published a number of religious books, including Satyartha Prakash, Rig-Vedaadi, Bhasya-Bhoomika, and Sanskar Vidhi. The Vedas date back to the beginning of Indian civilization and are the earliest literary records of the Aryan race. Passed orally for over 100,000 years and in written form about 6,000 years ago, the Vedas lay the foundations of the earliest sciences including medicine, mathematics, yoga and astronomy.
Our Vision Going Forward
Hindus today are spread in a wide diaspora across the world from Asia, Africa to the Americas. We have broken across barriers of culture, economics, religious sects, language and color, yet the focus has shifted away from our roots once again – families and community. Once again, a revitalizing movement is needed to come together around universal principles of truth, spirituality, community and faith. We urge you at this important juncture in time, to get involved and especially involve our youth in the basic principles of Hinduism so that as new generations grow and rise, the values and principles of the Vedas that have survived thousands of years, may serve and support future generations as well.
I encourage each of you to play a role in building this shared community through (i) becoming a lifetime member; (ii) one time financial contribution; and (iii) sponsoring future projects (hindi classes, Vedic classes, senior citizen community center, etc). But most importantly I urge each of you to dedicate one Sunday of this upcoming year where you personally invite all of your family and friends to attend the Arya Samaj so that we may expose more members of our community towards higher thinking, higher living.
Ten Principles of Arya Samaj
- God is the efficient cause of all true knowledge and all that is known through knowledge.
- God is existent, intelligent and blissful. He is formless, omniscient, just, merciful, unborn, endless, unchangeable, beginning-less, unequaled, the support of all, the master of all, omnipresent, immanent, un-aging, immortal, fearless, eternal and holy, and the maker of all. He alone is worthy of being worshiped.
- The Vedas are the scriptures of all true knowledge. It is the paramount duty of all Aryas to read them, teach them, recite them and to hear them being read.
- One should always be ready to accept truth and to renounce untruth.
- All acts should be performed in accordance with Dharma that is, after deliberating what is right and wrong.
- The prime object of the Arya Samaj is to do good to the world, that is, to promote physical, spiritual and social good of everyone.
- Our conduct towards all should be guided by love, righteousness and justice.
- We should dispel Avidya (ignorance) and promote Vidya (knowledge).
- No one should be content with promoting his/her good only; on the contrary, one should look for his/her good in promoting the good of all.
- One should regard oneself under restriction to follow the rules of society calculated to promote the well being of all, while in following the rules of individual welfare all should be free.