The Arya Samaj is the second great theistic movement in India. It was started in 1875 by Swami Dayanand Saraswati (1824-1883), a Brahmin monk of a very powerful personality and a great Sanskrit learning. He was the Luther of modern India. He held trenchant controversies with renowned orthodox Pandits and ruthlessly refused the authority of all the Hindu scriptures except the original four Vedas, on which he exclusively based all his teachings about the one spiritual Godhead. He insisted on one particular school of Vedic interpretation. viz. of Yaska(about 500 B. C.) as the true one, and fearlessly exposed the later corruptions of Hinduism. Although the Aryas by which name the followers of Dayanand call themselves, still a here to the infallibility of the Vedas, they so ingeniously interpret the texts as to bring them into complete harmony with modern thought, which is virtually, a more dominating element in their faith than the texts. In condemning idolatry, maintaining the purity of the doctrine of the Godhead and promoting social reform in all its aspects, the Aryas are as strong and sincere as the Brahmans. Nay, in spite of their exclusive regard for the Vedas, the enthusiasm of the Aryas, many times, glows almost to the white head of the Universal Religion, as is manifest in the words of one their exponents, Lalla Rala Ram.
“The Christianity as embodied in the high ideals of the Christ but not the Christianity of the Church dogmas, it (Arya Samaj) claims as its own; the Islam not of fire and sword but of peace and goodwill to true believers, and of the submission to the will of God, it recognises as its own truth; the personal purity, the resignation and the ethical loftness of Buddhism are indeed its inherited treasure. (From the theistic Directory by V. R. Shinde, published in 1912, pages 74 and 75) The Arya Samaj accordingly preaches the Dharma of Universal Brotherhood and Fatherhood of God.
Even in their peculiar attitude to the Vedas, the Aryas do a great service, viz. of drawing the national attention to a fresh and thorough going study of the long neglected ancient scriptures. During the short period of 25 years, they have made a marvellous progress in thought, organisation and propagation. They make converts even from Christianity and Islam.
Dr. Kalyandas J. Deasai, B.A., L.M &S., Vice President of the Arya Samaj of Bombay sends the following facts:-
“The Arya Samajes of the different provinces are under the Government of their separate Prahtinidhi Sabhas whose accunt I sent in a tabular form on the next page. Many Samajes have their own independent preachers. There are many Honorary preachers and Sanyasis doing work not under the control of the Pratinidhi Sabhas.”
Yours sincerely,
Arya Samaj Mandir, Girgaon, Bombay. 29th November 1912.