S sw mi maharaj dayananda saraswati
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S ŗ Swāmi Maharaj Dayananda Saraswati. 1824 - 1883. Early influences. Born Moolshankar Dayaram in Gujarat to a Wealthy Brahmin Family. Received classic Brahmin education, but was a gifted scholar. Both father & uncle were Śaivites, and encouraged him in Śaivite bhakti. Ś ivaratri.

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S sw mi maharaj dayananda saraswati

Sŗ Swāmi MaharajDayananda Saraswati

1824 - 1883

Early influences
Early influences

  • Born Moolshankar Dayaram in Gujarat to a Wealthy Brahmin Family.

  • Received classic Brahmin education, but was a gifted scholar.

  • Both father & uncle were Śaivites, and encouraged him in Śaivite bhakti.


  • At the festival of Śivaratri, he visited the Śiva temple with his father, for a night vigil before the linga. Everyone fell asleep, except the boy who saw mice stealing the offerings to Śiva

S sw mi maharaj dayananda saraswati

  • Moolshankar was convinced that this meant the image of Śiva had no power, and should not be worshipped.

  • His own studies in the Vedas had convinced him that there was no reason to worship “idols”, and that God was without form, and could be worshipped anywhere.

  • He soon left home, and became a sannyasin (aged 21), taking the name Dayananda Saraswati.

Key features

Primacy of the vedas.

God is formless, and should be the centre of personal & national life.

National identity based upon Vedic Hinduism.

Education for all.


Hindi as national language.

Arya Samaj.

Armed struggle against oppression.

Social equality.


Primacy of the vedas
Primacy of the Vedas.

  • The Vedas are the prime holy text of Hinduism containing;

  • Methods of reaching God

  • Ideal structure of society

  • Rules for living.

God is formless
God is formless

  • Influenced by western (anglicist) critics of Hindu “Idol Worship”, he found that the Vedas did not mention the use of images, and stressed a universal, formless divine being; accessible to all through Vedic worship.

National identity based upon vedic hinduism
National identity based upon Vedic Hinduism.

  • India (Bharat) is the homeland of the Indian civilisation. This civilisation is corrupt, but was once based upon the ethical and religious principles of the Vedas; he sought a return to this golden age.

    Indian = Hindu

Education for all
Education for all.

  • He believed that education was the way that people would flourish & return to the Vedic way of life.

  • Founded Gurukulas, where students were taught both Vedic theology & modern science & economics.

  • Emphasised the place of scientific knowledge in overcoming ignorance.


  • He invented “Vedic” rituals to bring back into the Varna system those who were outside it; usually applied to converts to other religions, but also sometimes to untouchables.

  • Populist; appealed to the disenfranchised.

  • Critic of untouchability.

Hindi as national language
Hindi as national language

  • English was the Lingua Franca of India, Urdu (a persian based language) the language of the upper levels of society. He sought to educate people in Hindi; the Indian language that he wanted for his vision of an Hindu \ Indian state.

Armed struggle against oppression
Armed struggle against oppression.

  • Advocated the armed struggle against the British. (Indian Mutiny still within living memory; 1857).

  • Sent agents to France for training in insurgency & terrorism.

  • Used historical \ mythical warriors as examples; Rāma, Śivaji.

Social equality
Social equality.

  • Advocated equality for women. End to forced marriage.

  • Advocated inclusion of untouchables; not out of any great fellow feeling, but out of political expediency. (Majority of population!)

Arya samaj
Arya Samaj

  • Founded the Arya Samaj; “Noble Society”, to expand his ideas, and to fight for Hindu identity within India.

  • Great influence upon the RSS & BJP, as well as other right –wing groups.

  • Encouraged a “western” idea of regular, congregational worship, and reliance upon reading the vedas. (Not like Brahmo Samaj; founded by Ram Mohan Roy).