Dayananda was born in Gujarat, into a rich Brahmin family who worshipped Shiva. He was invested with the sacred thread at the age of eight. Three years later, when he was keeping vigil in a Shiva temple at night, he saw that rats appeared from the holes in the walls and began to eat the food offered to Shiva. He began to doubt the deity's power and formed a dislike for image worship. When his parents arranged his marriage he left home. From the age of 20 he travelled widely to meet holy men to widen his knowledge of religion and philosophy. He studied the Vedas for three years at Mathura until 1863. When his studies were completed, his teacher charged him with the duty of spreading the Vedic faith.
In 1875 Dayananda founded the Arya Samaj (Society of Aryans). He claimed the Vedas to be eternal, infallible, and a complete revelation of God. He accepted the doctrines of karma and rebirth, but opposed image worship, polytheism, animal sacrifice, caste based on birth, untouchability, pilgrimages, and ritual bathing. He condemned child marriage and the segregation of women, but opposed the remarriage of widows.
He introduced "purification rites" to reconvert those Hindus who had been converted to Christianity or Islam. Arya Samaj followers worship on Sundays. They make offerings to Agni (fire) while reciting the Gayatri Hymn from the Rig-Veda, and read, preach and teach the Vedas. There is no image worship. The Samaj is a democratic organization without regular priests. Every member is required to practise austerity, truth, and devotion to God.
The Arya Samaj was founded by Swami Dayanand Saraswati who was a Hindu revivalist he wanted to reform Hinduism on the basis of the Vedas. Born in an orthodox Brahmin Family of Gujarat, he became a sanyasi. He was a scholar of Sanskrit and the Vedas. He believed that the Vedic religion was the only true religion in the world. He wanted to revive the old Vedic religion by removing from it all corrupt practices. His famous book Satyarth Prakash, which contains his teachings, is written in Hindi.
Swami Dayanand was perhaps the first to preach about the spirit of Swadeshi and to claim the principle of 'India for the Indians'. After his death in 1883, his work was carried on by such great man as Mahatma Lekh Raj, Swami Shradhananda, Mahatma Hans Raj and Lala Lajpat Rai.
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