“God has neither form nor color. He is incorporeal and immense. Whatever is seen in the world describes his greatness.”
– Swami Dayanand Saraswati
(February 12, 1824 – October 30, 1883)
According to the Hindu calendar, the birth anniversary of Swami Dayanand Saraswati – one of the greatest religious leaders of India, and the founder of Arya Samaj – falls on the tenth day of Krishna Pasha, in the month of Falgun, and is being celebrated on February 28 this year. Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati Jayanti is celebrated across India to remember and revere the Hindu monk, who was also a renowned scholar. On this day his devotees recall his preachings, principles and his good deeds. On this occasion, let’s acquaint ourselves with a few facts about Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati.
- Also called the maker of Modern India, Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati devoted his life to the political, religious and cultural emancipation of the country. He was a scholar who was purely guided by reason. He took Hinduism back to the Vedic foundations.
- Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati was born at Tankara, currently the Morbi district of Gujarat state.
- Saraswati’s original name was Mul Shankar and his father’s name was Karshanji Lalji Kapadi, and his mother name was Amrutbai.
- His early life was spent studying Sanskrit, the Vedas and other religious texts to prepare himself as a Hindu priest.
- The demise of his younger sister and his uncle due to cholera made Saraswati to ponder the meaning of life and death.
- Though his parents wanted him to tie the knot in his teenage itself, Saraswati revolted and then ran away from home in 1846.
- Saraswati spent 25 years of his life as a wandering ascetic to get a deeper perspective about life and its meaning.
- Saraswati founded the Arya Samaj — a Hindu reform movement of the Vedic tradition in 1875. He founded the samaj with one vision in mind, universal brotherhood.
- Saraswati believed that all actions should be performed with the prime objective of benefiting mankind.
- Saraswati was a renowned scholar of the Vedic knowledge. And hence to revitalise the Vedic knowledge, Swami Dayanand published many religious books that include the Rig-Vedaadi, Bhasyya-Bhoomika, and Sanskar Vidhi.
- He penned down the ten principles of the Arya Samaj. The first five principles speak of Truth and the other five of a society with nobility, civics, co-living and disciplined life.
- Saraswati opposed the prevalent social evils such as animal sacrifice, caste system, child marriage and discrimination against women. He is also said to have condemned idol worship and pilgrimages.
- Saraswati urged people to stop practising polytheism, pantheism, untouchability, child marriages, forced widowhood, and many other practices which he strongly felt were wrong.
- According to certain sources, Saraswati was poisoned on a few occasions; he miraculously survived such heinous attempts, but could not survive the last attempt of assassination.
- Saraswati died in 1883. The Arya Samaj continued to grow, especially in Punjab.
- One of the main missions of the Arya Samaj has been education and especially women’s education.