Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati

Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati

News: Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently addressed a gathering on the occasion of the 200th birth anniversary of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati.
 The Prime Minister said that path shown by Swami Dayanand Saraswati instills hope in crores of people at a time when the 21st century is unstable due to numerous conflicts.

Who was Dayanand Saraswati?
 Swami Dayanand Saraswati was born on 12th February 1824 in Tankara, Gujarat in a Brahmin family.
 He was earlier named Mool Shankar Tiwari as he was born during Mool Nakshatra.
 He wandered as an ascetic for fifteen years (1845-60) in search of truth.
 His views were published in his famous work, Satyarth Prakash (The True Exposition).
 He was an Indian philosopher, social leader and founder of the Arya Samaj.

What were his contributions?

Education
 He was one of the first to advocate for education of Women in India. He encouraged the use of Sanskrit language as a medium of instruction.
 The DAV (Dayanand Anglo Vedic) schools came into existence in 1886 to realize the vision of Swami Dayanand Saraswati.

Social reformer
 He sought to promote the values of the Vedas in modern society.
 His vision of India included a classless and casteless society, a united India (religiously, socially and nationally)
 He worked to eliminate practices such as child marriage and sati.

Nationalism
 He was the first to give the call for Swaraj as India for Indian in 1876.
 He believed in the power of India to reclaim its status as Great civilization.
 He encouraged the study of Indian history and culture and emphasized on Indians to be proud of their rich heritage.
 As quoted by the PM, Swami Dayanand Saraswati kindled patriotism in the hearts of many freedom fighters. Lakhs of them were inspired by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati.

Scientific thought
 He vouched for critical examination of religious texts and beliefs and sought to promote a rational and scientific approach to religion.

Environmentalist
 He encouraged planting of trees, protection of wildlife and conservation of natural resources.

What was the role and philosophy of Arya Samaj?
 It aimed to reestablish the Vedas, the earliest Hindu scriptures, as revealed truth.
 The Samaj opposed worship of murtis (images), animal sacrifice, shraddha (rituals on behalf of ancestors), basing caste upon birth rather than upon merit, untouchability, child marriage, pilgrimages, priestly craft, and temple offerings.
 It upholds the infallibility of the Vedas, the doctrines of karma (the accumulated effect of past deeds) and samsara (the process of death and rebirth), the sanctity of the cow, the importance of the samskaras (individual sacraments), the efficacy of Vedic oblations to the fire, and programs of social reform.
 It has worked to further female education and inter-caste marriage, has built missions, orphanages, and homes for widows, has established a network of schools and colleges, and has undertaken famine relief and medical work. 

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