About

Arya Samaj (Sanskrit ārya samāja आर्य समाज “Noble Society” Hindi ) is an Indian religious movement that promotes values and practices based on the infallibility of the Vedas. The samaj was founded by Swami Dayananda Saraswati, on 7 April 1875 (141 years ago )

It was established in Bombay on 7 April 1875 by Dayanand Saraswati, but others note that he was in Ludhiana in April 1877 and say that the formal founding took place at Lahore on 24 June 1877 when it became more than just a regional movement based in Punjab.

Dayanand died in 1883. Arya Samaj grew after his death, mainly in Punjab. Early leaders of the Samaj were Pandit Lekh Ram and Lala Munshi Ram (better known as Swami Shraddhanand after his Sanyas). The activities and the opposition Arya Samaj encountered in Punjab was credited with the formation of the rival Sikh dominated Singh Sabha, the forerunner of the Akali Dal. Shraddhanand led the Shuddhi movement that worked towards bringing Converted Hindus back into the fold.

Arya Samaj split into two in Punjab after 1893 on the question of eating meat. The group that refrained from meat was called the Mahatma group and the one favoring consumption of meat as the “Cultured Party”.

During the early part of the 20th century, the Samaj or organizations inspired by it such as Jat Pat Todak Mandal were active in campaigning against caste discrimination. Other activities the samaj engaged in was that of widow remarriage and women’s education.

During the early parts of the 20th century, the Samaj established chapters in British colonies where there was a sizeable Indian diaspora such as South Africa, Fiji, Mauritius, Surinam and Guyana.

Prominent Indian Nationalists such as Lala Lajpat Rai belonged to Arya Samaj and were active in propagating the message of Samaj.