Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati (स्वामी दयानंद सरस्वती) has been the greatest Vedic scholar of Modern India. He was born on February 12, 1824 in Tankara into a wealthy Brahmin family in Gujarat- a part of western India. At the age of 19, he left his family and undertook a long period of rigorous and ascetic study of the ancient Vedas – the oldest core of the Hindu Dharama. A little boy named as Mool Shankar, later became Swami Dayanand Saraswati, got enlightenment on the day of Maha Shivratri and preached about self-awakening and individual consciousness. He stressed upon for not following idol worship blindly. His translation of four Vedas from Sanskrit to Hindi was a greatest pride for all Hindus which facilitated the common man to read and understand the Vedas. He had contributed a lot in making a wider and general acceptance of women as leaders in prayer meetings.
Swami Dayanand Saraswati concluded that then religious beliefs and social institutions were completely corrupt. With this conviction, he began to preach an aggressive reforming doctrine which urged a return to the pristine Vedic tradition. Throughout his life, he preached against many of then Hindu traditions, which he felt were dogmatic and oppressive. He was one of finest social reformers, great champion of women education, advocated for their rights to reading of Indian scriptures and their equal rights in each and every walk of social and family life. He further advocated for more radical reforms such as the abolition of child marriages and hereditary caste privileges. He is considered to be one of the greatest leaders of Hindu revivalism and founded Arya Samaj in the same context on April 7, 1875 in Mumbai, India. He emphasized the great role of Yajna in purity of individual and social life. Arya Samaj was kept open to all men and women on the basis of personal interest and commitment. His disciples perused the Vedas in minute details. Arya Samaj was one of the most influential movements of the early modern period in India. It contributed to the rise of Indian nationalism by installing a sense of pride in the integrity of the most unique and ancient traditions of Indian heritage. He underlined that Vedas are the only source of Indian science and mathematics, which later contributed to the modern development of the whole world. He made Hindus to feel proud of their scientific life style and great Vedic culture.
He propagated ten principles of Arya Samaj. He was pioneer in preaching the policy of ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam’, which means all human beings on the earth are members of one family. He raised the slogan of ‘Krinvanto Vishvam Aryam’, means all humans should be made noble and should lead a good cultured and ethical life. His book Satyarth Prakash contributed to the freedom struggle by inspiring the freedom fighters. On the basis of these facts some believe that Swami Dayanand rightfully deserves to be called as Grandfather of the Indian Nation. His outspoken criticism of then tradition and his reforming interests provoked the hatred of many orthodox and conservative circles. Numerous attempts were made on his life, and he was finally poisoned on October 30, 1883. Swami Dayanand’s personality and purifying reforms earned him the title of “the Luther of India.”