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A 2000 stamp dedicated to Arya Samaj
Make the world noble!
|Formation||10 April 1875|
Bombay, Bombay Presidency, British India (present-day Mumbai, Maharashtra, India)
|Purpose||Educational, Religious studies, Spirituality, Social Reforms|
|Headquarters||New Delhi, Delhi, India|
|श्रीमती परोपकारिणी सभा – Shreemati Paropkarini Sabha|
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Arya Samaj (Sanskrit: ārya samājaआर्य समाज "Noble Society", Hindi: आर्य समाज, Bengali: আর্য সমাজ, Punjabi: ਆਰੀਆ ਸਮਾਜ, Gujarati: આર્ય સમાજ, Marathi: आर्य समाज, Nepali: आर्य समाज) is a monotheistic Indian Hindu reform movement that promotes values and practices based on the belief in the infallible authority of the Vedas. The samaj was founded by the sannyasi (ascetic) Dayanand Saraswati on 10 April 1875. Members of the Arya Samaj believe in one God and reject the worship of idols.
Sanskrit is a language of ancient India with a 3,500-year history. It is the primary liturgical language of Hinduism and the predominant language of most works of Hindu philosophy as well as some of the principal texts of Buddhism and Jainism. Sanskrit, in its variants and numerous dialects, was the lingua franca of ancient and medieval India. In the early 1st millennium CE, along with Buddhism and Hinduism, Sanskrit migrated to Southeast Asia, parts of East Asia and Central Asia, emerging as a language of high culture and of local ruling elites in these regions.
Bengali, also known by its endonym Bangla, is an Indo-Aryan language primarily spoken by the Bengalis in South Asia. It is the official and most widely spoken language of Bangladesh and second most widely spoken of the 22 scheduled languages of India, behind Hindi. In 2015, 160 million speakers were reported for Bangladesh, and the 2011 Indian census counted another 100 million. With approximately 260–300 million total speakers worldwide, Bengali is the 6th most spoken language by number of native speakers and 7th most spoken language by total number of speakers in the world.
Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language with more than 100 million native speakers in the Indian subcontinent and around the world. It is the native language of the Punjabi people, an ethnolinguistic group of the cultural region called the Punjab, which encompasses northwest India and eastern Pakistan.
Arya Samaj was the first Hindu organization to introduce proselytization in Hinduism.
Proselytism is the act or fact of religious conversion, or actions inviting this. The word proselytize is derived from the Greek language prefix προσ- and the verb ἔρχομαι in the form of προσήλυτος. Historically in the Koine Greek Septuagint and New Testament, the word proselyte denoted a Gentile who was considering conversion to Judaism. Though the word proselytism originally referred to Judaism, it now refers to the attempt of any religion or religious individuals to convert people to their beliefs, or any attempt to convert people to a different point of view, religious or not. Proselytism is illegal in some countries. However, the right to convert to another religion and to manifest religion is enshrined in Article 18 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. The term is generally understood as pejorative, by contrast with evangelism which is viewed as a term of approval. The World Council of Churches has indicated that, used pejoratively, proselytism refers to attempts at conversion by 'unjust means that violate the conscience of the human person', such as by coercion or bribery.
The Arya Samaj was established in Bombay on 7 April 1875 by Dayananda Saraswati (born "Mool Shankar" in Kathiawar, Gujarat 1824 – died Ajmer, 1883)
Kathiawar is a peninsula on the Indian west coast of about 61,000 km2 (23,500 sq mi) bordering the Arabian Sea. It is bounded by the Gulf of Kutch in the northwest and by the Gulf of Khambhat in the east. In the northeast, it is connected to mainland Gujarat. It is crossed by two belts of hill country and nine leading streams. Kathiawar ports were flourishing centres of trade and commerce since at least the 16th century.
Gujarat is a state on the western coast of India with a coastline of 1,600 km (990 mi) – most of which lies on the Kathiawar peninsula – and a population in excess of 60 million. It is the fifth largest Indian state by area and the ninth largest state by population. Gujarat is bordered by Rajasthan to the northeast, Daman and Diu to the south, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Maharashtra to the southeast, Madhya Pradesh to the east, and the Arabian Sea and the Pakistani province of Sindh to the west. Its capital city is Gandhinagar, while its largest city is Ahmedabad. The Gujarati-speaking people of India are indigenous to the state. The economy of Gujarat is the fifth-largest state economy in India with 17.02 lakh crore or US $251 billion in gross domestic product and a per capita GDP of 2,83,000 Rs or $4,100. Gujarat ranks fifteenth among Indian states in human development index.
An alternative date for the foundation of the samaj is 24 June 1877 because it was then, in Lahore when the samaj became more than just a regional movement based in Punjab.
Lahore is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab. Lahore is the country's second-most populous city and is one of Pakistan's wealthiest cities, with an estimated GDP of $58.14 billion (PPP) as of 2015. Lahore is the largest city, and historic cultural centre of the Punjab region, and one of Pakistan's most socially liberal, progressive, and cosmopolitan cities.
Between 1869 and 1873, Dayanand began his efforts to reform orthodox Hinduism in India. He established Gurukul (Vedic schools) which emphasised Vedic values, culture, Satya (virtue) and Sanatana Dharma (the essence of living). The schools gave separate educations to boys and girls based on ancient Vedic principles. The Vedic school system was also to relieve Indians from the pattern of a British education.
Hinduism is an Indian religion and dharma, or way of life, widely practised in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, and some practitioners and scholars refer to it as Sanātana Dharma, "the eternal tradition", or the "eternal way", beyond human history. Scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no founder. This "Hindu synthesis" started to develop between 500 BCE and 300 CE, after the end of the Vedic period, and flourished in the medieval period, with the decline of Buddhism in India.
The Vedas are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. Hindus consider the Vedas to be apauruṣeya, which means "not of a man, superhuman" and "impersonal, authorless".
Satya is the Sanskrit word for truth. It also refers to a virtue in Indian religions, referring to being truthful in one's thought, speech and action. In Yoga, satya is one of five yamas, the virtuous restraint from falsehood and distortion of reality in one's expressions and actions.
The first Vedic school was established at Farrukhabad in 1869.Fifty students were enrolled in its first year. This success led to the founding of schools at Mirzapur (1870), Kasganj (1870), Chhalesar (Aligarh) (1870) and Varanasi (1873).
Farrukhabad is a city in the state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India. Farrukhabad district is named after this city.
Kasganj is a city and the district headquarters of Kasganj district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh
At the schools, students received all meals, lodging, clothing and books free of charge. Discipline was strict. Students were not allowed to perform murti puja (worship of sculpted stone idols). Rather, they performed Sandhyavandanam (meditative prayer using Vedic mantras with divine sound) and agnihotra (making a heated milk offering twice daily).
The study of Sanskrit scriptural texts which accepted the authority of the Vedas were taught. They included the Vedas , Upanishads , Aranyaka , Kashika, Nirukta , Mahabhasya , Ashtadhyayi , Darshanas. The teaching was open to girls and to children who were not of the Brahmins class.
Dayanand had difficulty finding qualified teachers who agreed with his views on religious reform, since, he was criticized for plagiarising Abrahamic texts and juxtaposing Hindu philosophy in them. There were few textbooks which he considered suitable. Funding was sporadic, attendance fluctuated and students did not achieve desired standards and so some schools closed soon after opening. The last remaining school at Farrukhabad closed in 1876.
After visiting Calcutta, Dayanand's work changed. He began lecturing in Hindi rather than in Sanskrit. Although Sanskrit garnered respect, in Hindi, Dayanand reached a much larger audience. His ideas of reform began to reach the poorest people.
In Varanasi, after hearing Dayanand speak, a local government official called Jaikishen Das encouraged Dayanand to publish a book about his ideas. From June to September 1874, Dayanand dictated a series of lectures to his scribe, Bhimsen Sharma. The lectures recorded Dayanand's views on a wide range of subjects. They were published in 1875 in Varanasi with the title Satyarth Prakash ("the light of truth").
While his manuscript for Satyarth Prakash was being edited in Varanasi, Dayanand received an invitation to travel to Bombay. There, he was to debate representatives of the Vallabhacharya sect. On 20 October 1874, Dayanand arrived in Bombay. The debate, though well publicized, never took place. Nonetheless, two members of the Prarthana Samaj approached Dayanand and invited him to speak at one of their gatherings. He did so and was well received. They recognized Dayanand's desire to uplift the Hindu community and protect Hindus from the pressures to convert to Christianity or Islam. Dayanand spent over one month in Bombay and attracted sixty people to his cause. They proposed founding a new samaj with Dayanand's ideas as its spiritual and intellectual basis.
On 11 December 1874, Dayanand arrived in Ahmedabad, Gujarat on the invitation of Gopal Hari Deshmukh. There, he debated with interested parties.
On 31 December 1874, Dayanand arrived in Rajkot, Gujarat, on the invitation of Hargovind Das Dvarkadas, the secretary of the local Prarthana Samaj. He invited topics of discourse from the audience and spoke on eight. Again, Dayanand was well received and the Rajkot group elected to join his cause. The Samaj was renamed Arya Samaj (Society of Nobles). Dayanand published a list of twenty-eight rules and regulations for the followers. After leaving Rajkot, Dayanand went to Ahmedabad but his audience at a meeting on 27 January 1875, did not elect to form a new Arya Samaj. Meanwhile, the Rajkot group had become in a political row.
On his return to Bombay, Dayanand began a membership drive for a local Arya samaj and received one hundred enrollees. On 7 April 1875, the Bombay Arya Samaj was established. Dayanand himself enrolled as a member rather than the leader of the Bombay group. The Samaj began to grow.
Dayanand died in 1883. The Arya Samaj continued to grow, especially in Punjab. The early leaders of the Samaj were Pandit Lekh Ram (1858 – 1897) and Swami Shraddhanand (Mahatma Munshi Ram Vij) (1856 – 1926). Some authors claim that the activities of the Samaj led to increased antagonism between Muslims and Hindus. Shraddhanand led the Shuddhi movement that aimed to bring Hindus who had converted to other religions back to Hinduism.
In 1893, the Arya Samaj members of Punjab were divided on the question of vegetarianism. The group that refrained from eating meat were called the "Mahatma" group and the other group, the "Cultured Party".
In the early 1900s, the Samaj (or organizations inspired by it such as Jat Pat Todak Mandal) campaigned against caste discrimination.They also campaigned for widow remarriage and women's education. The samaj also established chapters in British colonies with an Indian diaspora such as South Africa, Fiji, Mauritius, Suriname, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.
Prominent Indian Nationalists such as Lala Lajpat Rai belonged to Arya Samaj and were active in its campaigning.The British colonial government in the early part of 20th century viewed the Samaj as a political body. Some Samajis in government service were dismissed for belonging to the Samaj
In the 1930s, when the Hindu Nationalist group, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh grew in prominence in Northern India, they found support in the Arya Samaj of Punjab.
In Punjab, the Arya Samaj was opposed by the Ahmadiyya movement which provided the Samaj one of its most aggressive opponenets from among the various Muslim groups and whose founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was extensively involved in theological disputations with Samaj leaders, most notably with Pandit Lekh Ram.It was also opposed by the Sikh dominated Singh Sabha, the forerunner of the Akali Dal.
The Arya Samaj of Gujarat members were missionaries from Punjab who had been encouraged to move to Gujarat to carry out educational work amongst the untouchable castes by the maharaja, Sayajirao Gaekwad III. The Gujarat Samaj opened orphanages. In 1915, the samaj lost its following to Mahatma Gandhi.
In 1921, during a rebellion by the Muslim Moplah community of Malabar Indian newspapers reported that a number of Hindus were forcibly converted to Islam. The Arya Samaj extended its efforts to the region to reconvert these people back to Hinduism through Shuddhi ceremonies. p.141–152:
The then Shankaracharya of Badrinath math in 1939 in a letter to the archbishop of Canterbury, called Arya Samajis Un-Hindu. He also criticized the samaj efforts at converting Christians and Muslims.
A branch of Arya Samaj was established at Dharur in Beed district of Hyderabad state, the largest princely state during British colonial rule. Keshavrao Koratkar was the president of the organization until 1932. During his tenure, the Samaj, established schools and libraries throughout the state. Although a social and religious organization, the Samaj activities assumed a great political role in resisting the government of the Nizam during 1930s. In 1938-1939, Arya Samaj teamed up with the Hindu Mahasabha to resist the government through Satyagraha. The Nizam government responded by raiding and desecrating Arya samaj mandirs. The Samaj, in turn, criticized Islam and the Islamic rulers of the state. This widely increased the gulf between the Hindu and Muslim population of the state.
Arya Samaj promoted the use of Hindi in Punjab and discouraged the use of Punjabi. This was a serious point of difference between the Sikhs, represented by the Shiromani Akali Dal group and the Arya Samaj. The difference was marked during the period immediately following the independence of India and the time of the Punjabi Suba movement (demand for a Punjabi speaking state).
Arya Samaj was a charitable organisation. For example, donations were made to victims of the 1905 Kangra earthquake. The samaj campaigned for women's right to vote, and for the protection of widows.
Arya Samaj schools and temples are found in almost all major cities and as well as in rural areas (esp in North region) of India. Some are authorised to conduct weddings. The Samaj is associated with the Dayanand Anglo Vedic (DAV) schools which number over two hundred.
The former Indian prime minister Charan Singh, as a young man, was a member of Arya Samaj in Ghaziabad.
A branch of Arya Samaj was established in 2015 in Angul district in the state of Odisha
Arya Samaj is active in countries including Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Fiji, Australia,South Africa, Kenya, Mauritius and other countries where a significant Hindu diaspora is present.
Immigrants to Canada and the United States from South Asia, Eastern Africa, South Africa, and the Caribbean countries form Arya Samaj temples in their communities.Most major metropolitan areas of United States have chapters of Arya Samaj.
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Members of the Arya Samaj believe in one almighty creator referred to with the syllable Aum as mentioned in the Yajur Veda (40:17). They believe the Vedas is an infallible authority. The Arya Samaj members reject other Hindu religious texts because they are not "revealed" works. For instance, they believe books like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are legends of historical figures, and rejects them as reference to supreme beings and avatars. The members of Arya Samaj reject other scriptural works such as the Puranas, The Upanishads, the Bible, and the Quran.They reject the worship of idols. The Arya Samaj promotes the equality of all human beings and the empowerment of women.
The core beliefs of Arya Samaj are postulated below:
The Arya Samaj members consider the Gayatri Mantra, [ citation needed ]as the most holy mantra and chants it peridically, do the meditation known as 'Sandhya' and make offering to the holy fire '('havan). The havan can be performed with a priest for special occasions or without a priest for personal worship. The havan is performed as per the havan pustika, usually a simplified guide to do havan, having mantras for general or special occasions. The priest is generally a Vedic scholar from the local Arya Samaj Mandir or Gurukul. Sometimes elder members of family or neighbours can also perform the havan acting as a purohit. The host is known as the 'Yajmana'. The priest can be called an 'Acharya', 'Swami ji' or 'Pandit Ji' depending upon his scholer status and local reputation. It is customary to give a nominal 'dakshina' to the priest after havan, although in Arya Samaj it is more symbolic and the priest doesn't state any sum. The sum is decided by the host's capability and status but is still a small amount.
Members celebrate Holi (the start of spring) and Diwali (a harvest festival and the victory of good over evil).
Arya Samaj advocates a lacto-vegetarian diet and in particular, the eating of beef is strictly prohibited.
After a death, Arya Samaj will often conduct a haven and collect the ashes on the fourth day.
The Arya Samaj celebration of Diwali is typified by the celebration in Suriname. The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil. A vegetarian fast is kept. The Gayatri mantra is spoken while oil lamps are lit. One Diya lamp, which is of larger size has two wicks crossed to produce four lights, one in each direction and is lit first. The smaller lamp has one wick. The recitation of the Gayatri mantra occurs in front of a fire altar lit with sandalwood. A lamp is kept in every room except the bathroom and restroom. More lamps can be lit, which can be placed arbitrarily in the yard, living room and so on.
Holi is celebrated as the conclusion of winter and the start of spring to sow the land and hope for a good harvest. This day is marked by colors and song (Chautal). It does not require specific prayer or fasting, however, some people keep a vegetarian fast on this day. The Arya Samaj does not associate Holi with a particular deity such as Vishnu or Shiva and in comparison to some interpretations of the festival, the Arya Samaj version in more sober and is as per the 4 Vedas.
Several contemporary groups, collectively termed Hindu reform movements or Hindu revivalism, strive to introduce regeneration and reform to Hinduism, both in a religious or spiritual and in a societal sense. The movements started appearing during the Bengali Renaissance.
Shuddhi is Sanskrit for purification. It is a term used for reconverting those that are deemed to have converted away from Hinduism back to Hinduism.
Punjabi Hindus are a group of people that adhere to Hinduism and have their roots and origin in the Punjab region of the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. Most Punjabi Hindus are concentrated in the Indian states of Punjab and Delhi, and in the union territory of Chandigarh, with additional populations in parts of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and some parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat. They also have significant presence in Jammu, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.
The Arya Samaj was the first religious, cultural and educational Fiji Indian organisation established in Fiji. From its inception, in 1904, it attracted the young, educated and progressive Hindus into its fold. During the first three decades of the twentieth century, it was the sole voice of the Indian community in Fiji and as Fiji Indians won political rights, it was not surprising that first Indian members of the Legislative Council were all Arya Samajis. The influence of Arya Samaj over the Indians in Fiji gradually waned as other organisations representing Indians were established but it remained the dominant force in politics until 1959. The modern day Arya Samaj in Fiji still speaks out on issues affecting its members and its activities are visible through the numerous educational institutions that it manages.
The Theosophical Society of Aryavarta, also sometimes called Theosophical Society of India, and abbreviated as Theosophical Society was a Theosophical Society from May 22, 1878 until March 1882.
Suriname has possibly the highest proportion of Hindus who are Arya Samajis, compared to any other country. In Suriname, the Hindu population had split, with roughly 20% following the teachings of Swami Dayanand Saraswati, founder of the Ārya Samāj, and 80% following the Sanatan Dharm. Today the number of Ārya Samājĩs is probably some 29,300. The arrival of Arya Samaj preachers in Suriname, in 1929, caused a rift in the Hindu community, between the followers of Sanatan Dharm and the Ārya Samāj.
Arya Samaj is a Hindu reform movement in South Africa. Like other parts of the world where people of Indian origin are settled, the teachings of Swami Dayananda Saraswati, founder of the Arya Samaj, made their way to South Africa during the beginning of the twentieth century. The Arya Samaj encouraged Indian South Africans to take pride in their heritage and culture and promoted education and social reform.
Arya Samaj has existed in Singapore since 1927 and runs Hindi classes at its premises through the Dayanand Anglo-Vedic Schools System.
Arya Samaj is a Hindu reform movement in Mauritius. Established in 1911, the Arya Paropkarini Sabha was officially registered in 1913. Since its creation Arya Samaj has had a great influence on the religious, social, educational and political lives of the people of Indian origin on the island. It has endeavoured to uphold the principles and ideals set forth by Maharishi Dayanand and his reformist movement. Some of the more notable ideals are women parity and free access to education. It has provided Hindus with a choice of progressive Hinduism, has promoted education with particular emphasis on Hindi and established orphanages, primary schools, colleges and tertiary institution.
The availability of Satyarth Prakash, inspired some people of Indian origin in Bangkok to follow the teachings of Swami Dayanand Saraswati and form the Vedic Dharam Pracharni Sabha on 5 May 1920. Weekly gatherings were held for the propagation of Vedic religion. Land was purchased and a Vedic mandir (temple) constructed. A library was also established. In 1922 the name of the Sabha (organisation) was changed to Arya Samaj and in 1923 it was affiliated with the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Uttar Pradesh in India. Although a small organisation, the Sabha has raised funds for relief fund for natural disasters in India. It also organises the celebration of Hindu festivals.
Satyarth Prakash is a 1875 book written originally in Hindi by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati, a renowned religious and social reformer and the founder of Arya Samaj. It is considered one of his major scholarly works. The book was subsequently revised by Swami Dayanand Saraswati in 1882 and has now been translated into more than 20 languages including Sanskrit and several foreign languages like English, French, German, Swahili, Arabic and Chinese. The major portion of the book is dedicated to laying down the reformist advocacy of Swami Dayanand with the last three chapters making a case for comparative study of different religious faiths. Satlok Ashram leader Rampal criticized sections of the book in 2006 which led to clashes between followers of Arya Samaj and Satlok Ashram and one person died in that violence.
Swami Shraddhanand, also known as Mahatma Munshi Ram Vij, was an Indian educationist and an Arya Samaj missionary who propagated the teachings of Dayananda Saraswati. This included the establishment of educational institutions, like the Gurukul Kangri University, and played a key role on the Sangathan and the Shuddhi (re-conversion), a Hindu reform movement in the 1920s.
Adi Dharm refers to the religion of Adi Brahmo Samaj the first development of Brahmoism and includes those Sadharan Brahmo Samajists who were reintegrated into Brahmoism after the 2nd schism of 1878 at the instance of Hemendranath Tagore. This was the first organised casteless movement in British India and reverberated from its heart of Bengal to Assam, Bombay State, Punjab and Madras, Hyderabad, and Bangalore.
Pundit Ganga Prasad Upadhyaya (1871-1968) was an Arya Samaji writer. He served as professor of Meerut College at Allahabad University and as chief judge at Tehri, Garhwal District, from which post he retired to serve the Arya Samaj full-time. . He was the father of Swami Satya Prakash Saraswati, another notable Arya Samaji author.
Lala Hansraj also known as Mahatama Hansraj, was an Indian educationist and a follower of Arya Samaj movement founder, Swami Dayanand. He founded, with Gurudatta Vidhyarthi, the Dayanand Anglo-Vedic Schools System (D.A.V.) in Lahore in 1886, where the first D.A.V. school was set up in memory of Dayanand who had died three years earlier.
Sanātanī (सनातनी) is a term used within Hinduism to describe a person who follows Sanātana dharma or a person who believes in eternal, i.e., never beginning nor ending. The term is used to contrast with reformist denominations of Hinduism, which often reject previously long-established socio-religious systems based on fundamentalist interpretations of specific scriptures, or with unorthodox sectarian followers of an individual sant (saint). The phrase dharma sanātana does occur in classical Sanskrit literature, e.g. in the Manusmrti (4-138) and in the Bhagavata Purana, in a sense akin to "cosmic order". The term was popularized by Gandhi in 1921.
Pandit Lekh Ram was the leader of the radical wing of the Arya Samaj, an Indian Hindu reform movement, who was active as an anti-Islamic writer. He is known particularly for his encounters with Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiyya movement, and as a subject of his death prophecy. His assassination by an unidentified assailant on March 6, 1897 is believed by Ahmadi Muslims to have occurred in accordance with Ahmad's prophecy concerning him.
Chhalesar is a village in the block and nagar panchayat of Jawan Sikandarpur, Aligarh district in Northern India. It is also known for being the location of the fourth Vedic school ("gurukul") founded in 1870 by the Arya Samaj reform movement. Swami Dayanand also visited here with Thakur Bopal Singh and Thakur Manna Singh.
Below is a timeline of Adi Dharm or Adi Brahmo Samaj.
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