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Modern History / Socio-religious Reform Movements

History of Arya Samaj

    The history of Arya Samaj dates back to 1875 when Mula Shankar (a Gujarati Brahmin) popularly known as Swami Dayananda Saraswati, the founder of Arya Samaj, established it in Bombay. The Arya Samaj headquarters was later shifted from Bombay to Lahore.

    Swami Dayanand Saraswati and Arya Samaj

    • Swami Dayanand Saraswati interpreted Vedas as monotheistic in nature and he was against idolatry. Dayananda Saraswati's slogan was "Go back to Vedas".

    • Arya Samaj fought against caste discrimination. It says Vedas did not have caste discrimination and untouchability and it also says birth should not be the criteria for caste system but virtue should be criteria for caste system. It also states that Puranas and Dharmasastras perverted the religion.

    • Dayananda Saraswati wrote three books, (i) Satyarth Prakash in Hindi, (ii) Veda Bhashya in Sanskrit (Commentary on Rigveda and Yajurveda) and (iii) Rigvedadi Bhashya Bhumika

    • Just before his death in 1882, two controversial movements were started, (i) Cow Protection Movement (Opposed by Muslims) and (ii) Shuddhi Programme (Reconversion programme). Even today these principles are followed in Arya Samaj.

    • In 1892, there was a split in Arya Samaj into Gurukul Group of Arya Samaj (conservative) and College Group of Arya Samaj (radical). The leader of the conservative wing was Swami Shraddhanad and the leader of the radical wing was Lala Hansraj.

    • The split in Arya Samaj was due to two issues, (i) Kind of education that is to be promoted, Conservatives wanted Gurukuls and Radicals wanted college education and (ii) Kind of food to be followed, Conservatives wanted every Hindu to be purely vegetarian and Radicals wanted non-vegetarian food.

    • Swami Shraddhanand founded a Gurukul at Haridwar, which became the headquarters of Gurukul group of educational wing and Lala Hansraj started DAV college at Lahore. English education along with Vedas was taught in this college.