Arya Samaj

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A meeting of the Arya Samāj for investing boys with the sacred thread

Arya Samaj (Sanskrit: ārya samāja आर्य समाज "Noble Society" Hindi: आर्य समाज, Bengali: আর্য সমাজ, Punjabi: ਆਰੀਆ ਸਮਾਜ, Gujarati: આર્ય સમાજ) is an Indian Hindu reform movement that promotes values and practices based on the belief in the infallible authority of the Vedas. The samaj was founded by the sannyasi (ascetic) Dayanand Saraswati on 10 April 1875. Members of the Arya Samaj believe in one God and reject the worship of idols.


  • In the Arya Samaj, girls get the complete Vedic initiation, as apparently they used to in the Vedic age itself.
    • Elst, Koenraad (2001). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p.14-15
  • The only component of the current [of Hindu revivalism] which could be called 'fundamentalist', i.e. seeking to revive Scripture as normative for today's society and attacking those co-religionists who have allegedly deviated from scriptural purity, is the Arya Samaj ... still standing out as a progressive movement. In the case of Hinduism, it so happens that many of the traditional inequalities, injustices and unwholesome customs of Hindu society are not attested in Vedic scripture, and even less so in the Arya Samaj's own understanding of it. This made it possible to present a programme of social equality as a return to the Vedas.
    • Elst, Koenraad (2001). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p.14-15
  • The Arya Samaj was the first Hindu movement to take up a bold stand in this context. Maharshi Dayanand himself had showed up Muhammad for the sort of man he was. Soon after, however, the Arya Samaj was silenced effectively by a series of murders, notably that of Pandit Lekhram and Swami Shraddhananda. The British were inclined to permit fair criticism, particularly that which was based on Islamic sources. But they could not prevent Muslim assassins from taking the law in their own hands.
    • Goel, Sita Ram (editor) (1998). Freedom of expression: Secular theocracy versus liberal democracy. [1] Ch. 6
  • It is a notorious fact that many prominent Hindus who had offended the religious susceptibilities of the Muslims either by their writings or by their part in the Shudhi movement have been murdered by some fanatic Musalmans... This was followed by the murder of Lala Nanakchand, a prominent Arya Samajist of Delhi. Rajpal, the author of the Rangila Rasool, was stabbed by llamdin on 6th April 1929 while he was sitting in his shop. Nathuramal Sharma was murdered by Abdul Qayum in September 1934. It was an act of great daring. For Sharma was stabbed to death in the Court of the Judicial Commissioner of Sind where he was seated awaiting the hearing of his appeal against his conviction under Section 195, 1. P. C., for the publication of a pamphlet on the history of Islam. .... This is, of course, a very short list and could be easily expanded. But whether the number of prominent Hindus killed by fanatic Muslims is large or small matters little. What matters is the attitude of those who count towards these murderers. The murderers paid the penalty of law where law is enforced. The leading Moslems, however, never condemned theses criminals. On the contrary, they were hailed as religious martyrs and agitation was carried on for clemency being shown to them. As an illustration of this attitude, one may refer to Mr. Barkat Ali, a Barrister of Lahore, who argued the appeal of Abdul Qayum. He went to the length of saying that Qayum was not guilty of murder of Nathuramal because his act was justifiable by the law of the Koran. This attitude of the Moslems is quite understandable. What is not understandable is the attitude of Mr. Gandhi. (p. 157)
  • The [Arya Samajs'] defiant stand against Islam was increasingly reaping the whirlwind... A pamphlet of the local Sanatana Dharma Sabha... contained an anti-Islamic poem. Frightened by the first Muslim protests, the Hindu minority convened and passed a resolution "regretting their error and requesting pardon". To appease the Muslim protesters, the authorities arrested Jiwan Das... Nevertheless, on 9 and 10 September 1924, Muslim mobs raided the Hindu neighbourhood, killing dozens of Hindus... The most outstanding Arya Samaji of the twentieth century, Swami Shraddananda, was killed by one Abdul Rashid.... When Abdul Rashid was hanged... Muslim clerics all over India held prayer-meetings for his martyred soul. Dr. Ambedkar testifies: "The leading Muslims, however, never condemned these criminals. On the contrary, they were hailed as religious martyrs."... In 1933, another Arya Samaji, Nathuramal Sharma, was taken to court for publishing a similar pamphlet as Lekh Ram's... in the courthouse itself he was murdered by one Abdul Qayum.
    • Dr B. R. Ambedkar cited by Elst, K. Elst, Koenraad (2001). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. pp 112-13
  • Indians may recall that such death sentences against people who have insulted the Prophet, have been carried out earlier this century: against Arya Samaj propagandists Swami Shraddhananda and Pandit Lekh Ram, and against Rajpal, the writer of the Rangila Rasool (more or less Playboy Mohammed). This was a book on the sex life of the Prophet and his wives, certainly insulting, and as a criticism of Islam rather beside the point, but understandable as a reaction against a similar vilifying Muslim pamphlet about Sita. These murders had the desired effect, for the Arya Samaj became less straightforward in its criticism of the Prophet.
    • Elst, Koenraad (1991). Ayodhya and after: Issues before Hindu society.
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