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Who was Dayanand Saraswati, whose 200th birth anniversary is being celebrated this year?

GS-1: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

 On February 12, the Prime Minister paid tribute to Dayanand Saraswati on his 200thbirth anniversary, praising his efforts in fighting against social discrimination and untouchability


Dayanand Saraswati

  • Dayanand Saraswati (1824-1883) was one of the most influential figuresin 19thcentury India. 
  • He believed in the supremacy of the Vedas and founded the Arya Samaj in 1875, initiating a reform movement within Hinduism. 
  • He rejected idol worship, excessive rituals, and advocated for women's education, ending child marriage and fighting against untouchability
  • His masterpiece, "Satyarth Prakash" (1875), focused on reviving the Vedic principles he believed had been lost over time. 
  • The book used religious revivalism language to create a modern religious philosophy and organization, aimed at countering the influence of Christian missionaries.

Date of Birth: February 12, 1824

Place of Birth: Tankara, Gujarat

Movement: Arya Samaj, Shuddhi Movement, Back to the Vedas.


Satyarth Prakash (1875 & 1884); Sanskarvidhi (1877 & 1884); YajurvedBhashyam (1878 to1889)

Death: October 30, 1883

Place of death: Ajmer, Rajasthan

Spiritual Beliefs

  • Maharishi Dayanand was a devout Hindu who believed in the pure principles outlined in the Vedas. 
  • He emphasized the importance of preserving the faith's purity and upheld the concept of Dharma, which he saw as impartial truth. 
  • He rejected Adharma, which he defined as anything unjust or opposed to the teachings of the Vedas. 
  • He believed in the sanctity of human life and advocated for non-violence
  • He encouraged his followers to work towards the betterment of humanity and reject unnecessary rituals
  • He was against idol worship and other corrupt practices, such as superstitions and caste segregation
  • He also advocated for a free country (Swarajya) free of foreign influence and built on fairness and justice.


Hinduism under 19thcentury colonial rule

  • In the 19thcentury, British colonial rule in India brought with itsChristian missionaries as part of the "civilizing mission". The success of these missionaries was due to the corrupt nature of native beliefs at the time. 
  • Hindus had strayed from the teachings of the Vedas, leading to practices like idol worship, untouchability, and caste segregation.
  • These "regressive practices" made the population more susceptible to the message of the missionaries and provided justification for their mission. 
  • The spread of Christianity was both a result of the imperial project and a means of perpetuating subservience to the Empire.


The Formation of Arya Samaj

  • Dayanand Saraswati aimed to revive the "true Sanatan Dharma" by preaching the superiority of the Vedas. 
  • He believed that the brahmans had distorted Hinduism for their own gain and sought to address the fragmented nature of Hindu society. 
  • He toured India to spread his message, gathering a following and eventually founded the Arya Samaj in Bombay on April 7, 1875. 
  • The movement aimed to reform Hinduism and promote the noble principles of the religion, as outlined in the motto "Make this world noble" (Krinvan to VishvamAryam). 
  • The ten tenets of the Arya Samaj are as follows:
  1. The source of all genuine knowledge is God.
  2. God is described as existing, wise, and blissful; formless, all-knowing, fair, compassionate, unborn, endless, unchanging, without beginning, unparalleled, the support of all, the ruler of all, everywhere present, inherent, ageless, immortal, fearless, eternal, and holy. He is the creator of all and is the only entity deserving of worship.
  3. The Vedas contain all true knowledge and it is the foremost obligation of members of the Arya Samaj to study, teach, recite, and listen to them.
  4. It is essential to embrace truth and reject falsehood.
  5. Decisions on right and wrong should guide all actions, in accordance with Dharma.
  6. The main aim of the Arya Samaj is to better the world by promoting physical, spiritual, and social well-being for all.
  7. Interactions with others should be guided by love, fairness, and justice.
  8. Ignorance should be dispelled and knowledge should be encouraged.
  9. Rather than seeking personal gain, one should aim to promote the well-being of all.
  10. One should follow societal rules that benefit the general welfare, while also being free to pursue individual well-being.
  • The Samaj condemned practices like idol worship, animal sacrifices, and priesthood
  • It encouraged followers to question existing beliefs and rituals instead of blindly following them.
  • The Arya Samaj also worked towards addressing social issues such as widow remarriage and women's education. 
  • It launched programs to support widow remarriage in the 1880s and emphasized the importance of educating girls. 
  • Maharishi Dayanand believed that an educated man needed an educated wife for the betterment of society. 
  • These efforts to reform Hinduism and address societal issues were rooted in the belief that return to the original, undiluted teachings of the Vedas.


Educational Reforms

  • Even before the establishment of the Arya Samaj, Dayanand Saraswatiestablished multiple Vedic schools.
  • These Gurukuls was modelled on popular missionary schools, provided an Indian alternative to people and aimed to break the monopoly ofbrahmans on Vedic knowledge by promoting principles based on the Vedas.
  • Following his death in 1883, his disciples established the Dayanand Anglo Vedic College Trust and Management Society to carry on his legacy. 
  • The first DAV High School was opened in Lahore on June 1, 1886, with Lala Hans Raj as its headmaster.

Shuddhi Movement

  • The Shuddhi Movement was founded by Dayanand Saraswatito bring back individuals who had either voluntarily or involuntarily converted to other religions such as Islam or Christianity, back to Hinduism. 
  • Through the process of purification, known as Shuddhi, individuals who sought to return to Hinduism were provided with guidance and support from the Samaj. 
  • The movement was successful in reaching various levels of society, including the depressed classes.


  • Dayanand Saraswatifaced opposition due to his unconventional views and ideas
  • In 1883, during a visit to the palace of Maharaja of Jodhpur, Jaswant Singh II, on the occasion of Diwali, Dayanand's blunt advice to the King to abandon a court dancer and pursue a life of Dharma caused offense. 
  • It is said that the dancer conspired with the cook to poison Dayanand's milk, which led to his death on October 30, 1883, at Ajmer, on the day of Diwali.
  • There have been speculations that he was poisoned by the Maharaja's cook but no proof was ever presented in court. 
  • Nevertheless, the widely accepted story suggests that the killer confessed to Dayanand and was forgiven by him before he passed away.



  • Dayanand Saraswati's impact on modern India was significant. 
  • He popularized the term "swaraj" (self-rule)which would later be picked up by the likes of Lokmanya Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi
  • He criticized British rule from a religious viewpoint. 
  • He also aimed to consolidate Hinduism through the Shuddhi Movement, which aimed to bring back converts to Hinduism. The movement became popular, especially among lower caste converts who were given a higher status under the more equal Arya Samaji philosophy. 
  • The legacy of Dayanand Saraswati continues through the widely spread Arya Samaj centers and the Dayanand Anglo Vedic schools and colleges. The schools provide quality education and have become popular over time. 
  • The influence of Dayanand and the Arya Samaj can also be seen in important figures of Indian independence, such as Lala Lajpat Rai, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Madam Cama, Ram Prasad Bismil, Mahadev Govind Ranade, Madan Lal Dhingra and Subhash Chandra Bose. 
  • Shaheed BhagatSingh was educated at the D.A.V. School in Lahore.
  • Dayanand was revered by many, including the American Spiritualist Andrew Jackson Davis who called him "Son of God".


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Fact File

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  • The theme of Aero India Show 2023 is "The runway to a billion opportunities," highlighting growth and development in the aerospace and defence industries.
  • The first Aero India Show was held in 1996.
  • The show will showcase the latest advancements in the aerospace and defence industries and provide opportunities for national and international companies to showcase their products and technology. 
  • The show will attract industry experts, government officials, military personnel, and aerospace enthusiasts. 
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What is the ERCP, the Rajasthan rivers project that CM Gehlot has urged PM Modi to decide on?

  • The Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP) aims to utilize excess water from rivers in southern Rajasthan, such as the Chambal, Kunnu, Parvati, and Kalisindh, during the rainy season in water-deficient southeastern districts of the state. 
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  • Only the Chambal river basin has surplus water, but this water source is not accessible due to the Kota barrage area being designated as a crocodile sanctuary. 
  • The project plans to establish a network of water channels through the construction of diversion structures, intra-basin water transferslinking channels, and main feeder channels for pumping
  • This network will reach 23.67% of the state's area and 41.13% of its population.


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