The Arya Samaj and its Motives
of the Victoria Arya Samaj, Australia
More than a century ago, Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati founded a new religious and social reform movement. A movement that strived to revive the Vedic Way of Life. A movement that preached love, justice and righteousness towards all without distinction to race, cast or creed. A movement whose main goal was to make this world noble. The 10th of April 1875 saw the foundation of the first ever Arya Samaj – a Samaj that was primarily formed on the basis of intellectual thinking and differentiating Truth from Untruth.
So what does Arya Samaj mean? The word Arya means 'noble' – a person who has good qualities such as righteousness, benevolence, a good personality, someone who is devoted to Truth. Samaj, as we all know, means 'society'. Hence Arya Samaj means a 'society of noble people'. The goal of Arya Samaj has always been Krinvanto Vishvam Aryam – 'make this world noble and spread the light of knowledge and truth'. The primary mission of the Arya Samaj is to eradicate ignorance, poverty and injustice. This mission is enshrined in the 10 niyams or principles of the Samaj. It practices the teachings of the 4 Vedas – the Rigved, Yajurved, Samved and Atharved. Arya Samaj believes in one God, known by the name OM – who is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. It does not preach nor believe in idol worship, animal sacrifice or any other fictitious beliefs.
Prior to establishing the Arya Samaj, Dayanand discovered that under the British rule, the people of India were losing the valuable aspects of their culture, history and religion. The society was permeated with blind faith and hypocrisy. The Hindu society had abandoned the principle of the religious unity and consequently the entire social structure was fragmented. Social fragmentation was heightened by the unfair caste system and untouchability. For these reasons it was essential to establish a Samaj whose aim would be to rebuild the lost faith amongst the Indians. By removing superstition and meaningless customs and practices, Arya Samaj showed the path of worship, sacraments and sanskars. Thus taking the Vedas as the foundation, Arya Samaj awakened the true form of the Vedic dharma, which had been shattered and lost in the numerous faiths and customs that existed then.
At such a time, western education based on western ideas was also having an enormous influence on the Hindu religion and culture. In such an atmosphere of westernisation, Arya Samaj that was not influenced by English education assimilated the spirit of dignity and restored the value of the Vedic Dharma. And so the Arya Samaj moved the Hindu Dharma away from fictitious beliefs and took it back to the teachings of the Vedas. Not only this, but the Samaj has also showed to the whole world that it is the fountainhead of all religions.
One of the main missions of the Arya Samaj has been education. It especially emphasizes the education of women. Educational institutions like the DAV schools and colleges, various Gurukuls and Arya Kanya Pathshalas, the Samaj stills stays strong in maintaining its immense support towards education. Having attended DAV primary and Arya Kanya Pathshala myself, I have been lucky in learning about Arya Samaj and its rich history and our cultural heritage and traditions. This has greatly inspired me to carry on the beliefs, traditions and practices of the Arya Samaj.
The Samaj does not only hold strong ground in Fiji or Australia, but it has in fact gained huge momentum in other African, European, American and Asian states. It has branches in countries like Guyana, Surinam, Mexico, Netherlands, and Malawi – just to name a few where men and women of Indian origin with an Aryan bent of mind have settled for education, business and other human occupation. Aryan pioneers in overseas countries held the flag of the Arya Samaj aloft and kept it flying despite numerous odds that they faced. They had one dilemma. A problem that we immigrant Indians have. Are we to pay attention to the country of our birth or to the country of our adoption? The pioneer Arya Samajees had to profess and demonstrate their loyalty to the country where they earned their bread and butter and at the same time had to inwardly remain attached to the country where their forefathers were born and where the Arya Samaj was founded. I am sure a majority of you would be thinking the same. Indeed, some of us feel tormented whereas some others have taken it in our normal stride of life. Without violating the law of the land of adoption, we have kept our conscience and our Vedic Dharma in a complete form. Having to live away from the country of their origin, our predecessors and their successors have done a good job in maintaining our culture and have been effective in instilling the good values that Arya Samaj preaches to the younger generation. Talking closer to home, we have been successful in instituting and maintaining the Victoria Arya Samaj. By starting the monthly family gathering where we met to perform the traditional Vedic Hawan, this is sure to inspire our Australian born children to carry on the beliefs, practices and family values of the Arya Samaj. So let us all make the Arya Samaj motto our own - Krinvanto Vishvam Aryam – let us make this world noble.