Maharishi Dayanand Sarswati (1824-1883), the iconic founder of the Vedic socio-religious organization, the Arya Samaj, was born in 1824, Kathiawar Gujarat in a Brahmin family with moderate means. He was a rebel against the orthodox Indian society and in opposition to all odds, he broke through the shackles of his conservative religious background. Virajnanda, Dayanand’s guru, imbibed into him his lifelong goals: to usher in the mythical golden Vedic age, peace and prosperity on the people of Aryavrta, a reign of the true religion and abandonment of the pseudo doctrines embedded in the Puranas and post-Vedic Indian religious literature.

The life Maharishi Dayanand has been a source of inspiration and guidance to a large number person of our country. He was one of the greatest scholar, philosopher, reformer and saint of the nineteenth century. His clarion call was ‘Go back to the Vedas’. According to him, Vedic society was perfect in which there was egalitarian rule and the system was efficient. He linked the present with the past and suggested the ways and means for a good future for Indian society. His magnum opus was in Hindi titled Satyarth Parkash (1875) translated into English as The Light of Truth.

Maharishi Dayanand Sarswati endeavored to purge the Indian Hindu society of all evils and corrupt practices like child marriage, sati, polygamy, “Purdah” system, untouchability, caste system, priestly domination and animal sacrifices. He sought inspiration from the Vedas. He believed in the upliftment of all the sections of society. He was of the opinion, “I am not anxious about my salvation: I am particularly anxious for the salvation of those lakhs of people who are poor, weak and suffering. I do not mind if I may have to take birth again and again. I will attain salvation when these people will attain it”.

Maharishi Dayanand Sarswati had spoken and written on social and religious issues boldly and authoritatively. His opposition to absolutism was a clear indication that he believed in democracy. He criticized the customary birth-based caste system. He called it the prevailing disease of the society and wrote extensively to counter discrimination against the depressed castes. He promoted education to all the sections of society. Dayanand advocated women’s education and made efforts to improve their social status in society.

Dayanand put forth political ideas that were far ahead of his time. India was then under the British Rule. He gave the idea of ‘government by assemblies’ headed by an elected president. For Dayanand, the ruler was always an elected president of the Assembly. He was of the view that the ruler should never be entrusted with absolute authority since uncounseled one man was seldom capable of coming to right decision.

Maharishi Dayanand Sarswati and his Arya Samaj worked for social awakening under the British rule in India. Britishers were alarmed and found that Arya Samaj was a dangerous movement as it combined “an appeal to national feeling with a tendency to elevate the low castes and the women education was taken up by them”.

The thoughts of Maharishi Dayanand Sarswati are still relevant to modern times. Romain Rolland says, “Indian religious thought raised a purely Indian Samaj, and at its head was a personality of the highest order, Dayanand Sarswati. This man with the nature of a lion is one of those whom Europe is too apt to forget when she judges India. He was that rare combination, a thinker of action with a genius for leadership”.

The objective of the Chair

Maharishi Dayanand Chair has been established by University Grants Commission at the Central University of Jammu, Rahya-Suchani (Bagla)-181143, Jammu for the research on Dayanand’s role as a social reformer and as social awakener. The chair is to publish article/research papers/reports/books/monograms Seminars/Workshops/Summer Schools and research projects would also be undertaken by the chair. The chair professor will contribute and participate in such activities organized by other Universities/Research Institutes/Chairs throughout the country.

Chair Professor:

Dr. Raj Kumar Mahajan

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