MAHARSHI DAYANAND - MAN AND HIS MISSION
Maharshi Dayanand Saraswathi (1824-1883) was one of the greatest leaders of Hindu renaissance and the founder of the Arya Samaj, the Socio-Religious Movement established in 1875. He was a renowned Vedic scholar who believed in the infallible authority of the Vedas.
Mool Shankar (which was his childhood name) was born at Tankara in Kathiavar province of Gujarat as the son of a Tax Collector, Pandit Krishnaji Tiwari. A few incidents such as, happened to see a mouse eating the offerings in the Shiva temple on Shivrathri night before Shiva's idol and untimely deaths of his sister and uncle, etc provoked him a great desire to search the real Shiva (God) and truth of life. He left home in this search and travelled all over India right from the caves of Vindhyachal to Himalayan peaks. On his way, he met several Yogis and highly literate people. It took him a long 15 tiring years to finally meet an old monk (sanyasi) at Mathura (Uttar Pradesh) who satisfied his desire and quenched his thirst. The old enlightened monk Swami Virajanand who was blind taught Mool Shankar for about two and a half years. Mool Shankar learnt the Vedic Traditions, the deeper meaning of Vedas, and the real meaning of truth of life from him. Now Mool Shankar was an enlightened person and was named Rishi Dayanand by his Guru Swami Virajanand. Rishi Dayanand with the blessings of his Guru traveled again all over India to spread the ideals of Vedas and real meaning of truth of life. He briskly started reforming the society and preached the people through three weapons i.e. Speech, Discourse and Writings. He went through villages, towns and cities and delivered the message of Vedas and truth. He debated (Shasthrarth) with different religious scholars and in presence of thousands of people made them speechless. He wrote many books. Some of his famous works are Sathyarth Prakash (The Light of Truth), Rigvedadi Bhashya Bhoomica (Introduction to the commentary on Vedas), Rig-Veda & Yajurveda Bhashyas. In his book ‘Sanskar Vidhi’ Rishi Dayanand has explained the sixteen different rituals (Shodasa kriyas) to be performed by all with its meanings according to Vedic traditions.
Maharshi Dayanand founded Arya Samaj in 1875 at Mumbai to make an organized movement for Vedic propagation. The orthodox people were against the liberal ideology of Maharshi Dayanand and they feared that with the spread of his strong views they will loose their prominence. Eventually through consistent assaults he was killed by a deadly poison on Diwali Day on 30th October 1883.
Among Swami Dayananda's immense contributions is his championing of the equal rights of women - such as their right to education and reading of Indian scriptures - and his translation of the Vedas from Sanskrit to Hindi so that the common man may be able to read the Vedas. The Arya Samaj is rare in Hinduism in its acceptance of women as leaders in prayer meetings and preaching. Considering his contributions to the reformation and revival of Hinduism, all Hindus are indebted to this great soul forever.
He was also the first to proclaim India for Indians. His revolutionary book SATHYARTH PRAKASH much contributed to the freedom struggle by inspiring the freedom fighters. On the basis of these facts Sri. Pattabhi Sitharamayya has rightly said that Swami Dayanand deserves to be called as Grand Father of the Indian Nation. The ‘Shivrathri’ day is observed as ‘Rishi Bodhotsav’ through out the world by Arya Samaj. Let us also salute this great Rishi and get inspiration from him for ‘veda prachar’
Om krinvantho vishwamaryam!