SWAMI DAYANAND SARASWATI
Shri Aurobindo Ghose stated that “Among the great company of remarkable figures at the head of the Indian Renaissance one stands out by himself with the peculiar and solitary distinctness, one unique in his type as he is unique in his work. It is as if one were to work for a long time amid a range of hills rising to a greater or lesser altitude, but all with sweeping contours, green-clad, flattering the eye even in their most bold and striking elevation . But amidst them all, one hill stands apart, piled up in sheer strength, a mass of bare and puissant granite, with verdure on its summit, solitary pine jutting out into the blue , a great cascade of pure vigorous and fertilizing water gushing out from its strength as a very fountain of life and health to the valley, such is the impression created on my mind by Dayananda.”
Dayanand Saraswati was born on 12, February, 1824 in Tankara, Gujrat. His original name was Mool Shankar. His father was a jamindar, prosperous and influential person. He was the head of an eminent Brahmin family of the village.
When Dayanand was fourteen years old, his sister died. He was so shocked by the sudden demise of his sister that he began to look upon death as a challenge. He also ran away from home to know the secret of death. In search of the answer, Dayanand wandered all over the country for around twenty years. During his course, Dayanand visited temples and sacred places of religious devotion. He met Yogis living in the mountains and forests but nobody had the perfect answer Dayanand was seeking for.
Lastly in 1846, Dayanand Saraswati went to Mathura where he found Swami Vrijananda and became his disciple. He introduced Dayanand to the Vedas and Shastras, which revolutionized his thinking. After completing his Vedic-education, Dayanand realized that his purpose of learning the "secret of death" has been satisfied. On the day Dayanand was to leave from the ashram, Swami Vrijananda called him and asked to spread the knowledge of Vedas in the society. He denounced evils and vulgarities spread by the vested interest in the name of religion, with an almost divine passion. He challenged the Hindu orthodox establishment to justify on their basis polytheism, pantheism, idol worship, casteism, untouchability, infant marriages, forced widowhood, sati, infanticide and many other superstitions degenerating Hinduism, Besides these social reforms Dayanand also gave serious thought to these main problems of that time namely, illiteracy, economic poverty and slavery. To eradicate the problem of illiteracy, he gave the idea of free and compulsory education and started Pathshalas at Lahore, Kashganj, Farukabad, Lukhnow, Chhaliesar, Banaras Mirzapur. He advocated girl education also. He gave the idea of swaraj to the countrymen through his great book Satyarth Prakash and gave a call ‘ Back to Vedas’ and narrated “All education that has spread in the world sprang originally from India. Then it went to Egypt from Egypt to Greece, from Greece to Turkey and then to Europe, From Europe it went to America and other countries.”
He felt that he would not be able to accomplish his gigantic task effectively single handed, so he founded an organization The Arya Samaj at Bombay on 10 April 1875. It was a Hindu reforms movement, meaning "society of the nobles". The purpose of the samaj was to move the Hindu religion away from the fictitious beliefs. 'Krinvanto Vishvam Aryam" was the motto of the samaj, which means, "Make this world noble". Anyone can join it but he has to follow the ten principles of Arya Samaj. His vedic philosophy given in Satyarth Prakash made him very popular among the common people of India. His contribution in making India free from british rule is remarkable. This great soul left for heavenly abade on 30 October, 1883 at Ajmer. Today, the Arya Samaj organization is very active not only in India but also in various parts of the world.
The good work of Dayanand Saraswati was carried on by his followers. Thay set up the Dayanand Anglo Vedic School at Lahore. Soon, this school developed into a famous collegeand idea of DAV Indtitutions became a movement throughout the country. A number of DAV educational institutions were established to provide modern education. At present thousands of DAV schools and colleges, Arya Samajes are working to propagate the vedic philosophy of Swami Dayanand Saraswati.
A famous historian, Dr.J.N.Sarkar says “He is a true statesman” ,“who can legislate for the future, who can set a force at work which will go on influencing the lives and thoughts of unborn generations. When the history of India’s growth comes to be written that high rank will be adjudged to the ‘naked Fakir’, “Dayanand Saraswati.”