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 Mission and Vision
The Arya Samaj of Chicagoland is a non-profit community organization, incorporated in 1988, under the laws of the State of Illinois, located at 700 Hillview Avenue, West Chicago, IL 60185. The main mission of the Arya Samaj is to share the profound knowledge and values that Vedas, the oldest religious texts, have given to the world, most notably the message of universal peace and love for all living things, as well as practices such as community upliftment, family values and independent thinking that are promoted. Arya Samaj of Chicagoland is granted exemption from Illinois Income taxation, and recognized as exempt under Section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
The temple is an authentic and traditional Hindu temple following the Vedas, a vast body of religions and philosophical literature. Hinduism is the world’s oldest extant religion, with a billion followers, which makes it the world’s third largest religion. Hinduism is a conglomeration of religious, philosophical, and cultural ideas and practices that originated in India, characterized by the belief in reincarnation, one absolute being of multiple manifestations, the law of cause and effect, following the path of righteousness, and the desire for liberation from the cycle of births and deaths.
Temple services include weekly Havan Ceremony (sacred fire ritual) as well as Vedic talks, community discussion, cultural programs, and singing of Vedic hymns. In addition to Sunday services, Arya Samaj of Chicagoland celebrates special Hindu festivals like Diwali, Holi, Makar Sankranti, Vaisakhi, Lohri, Janmashtami, etc. We also host a 3-day annual Mahasammelan (conference) in July where scholars and priests from around the world come and deliver special lectures and offer discourses on the Vedas.
For the congregation who adhere to the Hindu Vedic traditions, life events are celebrated with religious ceremonies and blessings. These ceremonies invoke blessings from before birth to the end-of-life rituals for salvation and peace for the departed soul. Highly rich Vedic hymns form a central part of these celebrations.
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.