My beliefs by Swami Dayanand Saraswati

  • By Swami Dayanand Saraswati
  • February 2003

Courtesy & copyright Sarvadeshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha.

This is an extract from Swami Dayanand Saraswati’s book, Satyarth Prakash or Light of Truth. It has 51 paras ending with the Ten Principles of the Arya Samaj.

“I believe in a religion based on universal and all-embracing principles which have always been accepted as true by mankind, and will continue to command the allegiance of mankind in the ages to come. Hence it is that the religion in question is called the primeval eternal religion, which means that it is above the hostility of all human creeds whatsoever. Whatever is believed in by those who are steeped in ignorance or have been led astray by sectaries is not worthy of being accepted by the wise. That faith alone is really true and worthy of acceptance which is followed by Aptas i.e., those who are true in word, deed and thought promote public good and are impartial and learned; but all that is discarded by such men must be considered as unworthy of belief and false.

My conception of God and all other objects in the universe is founded on the teachings of Veda and other true Shastras, and is in conformity with the beliefs of all the sages, from Brahma down to Jaimini. I offer a statement of these beliefs for the acceptance of all good men. That alone I hold to be acceptable which is worthy of being believed by all men in all ages. I do not entertain the least idea of founding a new religion or sect. My sole aim is to believe in truth and help others to believe in it, to reject falsehood and help others to do the same. Had I been biased, I would have championed any one of the religions prevailing in India. But I have not done so. On the contrary, I do not approve of what is objectionable and false in the institutions of this or any other country, nor do I reject what is good and in harmony with the dictates of true religion, nor have I any desire to do so, since a contrary conduct is wholly unworthy of man. He alone is entitled to be called a man who possesses a thoughtful nature and feels for others in the same way as he does for his own self, does not fear the unjust however powerful but fears the truly virtuous, however weak. Moreover, he should always exert himself to his utmost to protect the righteous, and advance their good, and conduct himself worthily towards them even though they may be extremely poor and weak and destitute of material resources.

On the other hand, he should constantly strive to destroy, humble, and oppose the wicked sovereign rulers of the whole earth and men of great influence and power though they be. It other words, a man should, as far as it lies in his power, constantly endeavor to undermine the power of the unjust and to strengthen that of the just. He may have to bear any amount of terrible suffering, he may have even to quaff the bitter cup of death in the performance of this duty, which devolves on him on account of being a man, but he should not shirk it.”

King Bhartri Hari and other wise men have composed verses on the subjects, which I subjoin with the hope that they will prove useful: -

(1) “The worldly-wise may praise one or censure him; fortune may smile on him or from on him; death may overtake him immediately or he may live for ages, but a wise man, does not swerve from the path of justice.”

(2) “Let a man never renounce Dharma (righteousness) either through lust or though fear, or through greed or even to save his life, since Dharma is imperishable, while pleasure or pain is perishable, the soul is immortal, while the body is mortal.

(3) “There is only one true friend that accompanies one even after death. All others desert one as soon as death has overtaken him.

(4) “It is truth that conquers, not error. It is the path of rectitude alone that men of learning and piety have trodden, and it is by following this path that the great sages of righteous desire have reached the highest citadel of truth-God.”

(5) “Verily there is no virtue higher than truth; no sin blacker than falsehood. Verily there is no Knowledge higher than truth; let a man, therefore, always follow truth.”

Let all men have the same kind of firm faith (in the power of truth and justice) as has been expressed by great souls (in the above verses).

Now I give below a brief summary of my beliefs. Their detailed exposition has been given in this book in its proper place.

1. He Who is called Brahma or the most High; who is Paramatma or the Supreme Spirit Who permeates the whole universe; Who is a true personification of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss; Whose nature, attributes and characteristics are Holy; Who is Omniscient Formless, All-pervading, Unborn, Infinite, Almighty, Just and Merciful; Who is the author of the universe and sustains and dissolves it: Who awards all souls the fruits of their deeds in strict accordance with the requirements of absolute justice and is possessed of the like attributes, even Him I believe to be the great God.

2. I hold that the four Vedas - the repository of Knowledge and Religious Truths-are the Word of God. They comprise what is known as the Sanhita-Mantra portion only. They are absolutely free from error, and are an authority unto themselves. In other words, they do not stand in need of any other book to uphold their authority. Just as the sun (or a lamp) by its light, reveals its own nature as well as that of other objects of the universe, such as the earth-even so are the Vedas.

The commentaries on the four Vedas, viz., the Brahmanas, the six Angas, the six Upangas, the four Up-Vedas, and the eleven hundred and twenty-seven Shakhas, which are expositions of the Vedic texts by Brahma and other great Rishis - I look upon as works of a dependent character. In other words, they are hold to be authoritative in so far as they conform to the teachings of the Vedas. Whatever passages in these works are opposed to the Vedic injunctions I reject them entirely.

3. The practice of equitable justice together with that of truthfulness in word, deed and thought and the like (virtues) - in a word, that which is in conformity with the Will of God, as embodied in the Vedas - even that I call Dharma (right). But the practice of that which is not free from partiality and injustice as well as that of untruthfulness in word, deed and thought, - in a word, that which is opposed to the Will of God, as embodied in the Vedas - even that I term Adharma (wrong).

4. The immortal, eternal Principle which is endowed with attraction and repulsion, feelings of pleasure and pain, and consciousness, and whose capacity for knowledge is limited - even that I believe to be the soul.

5. “God and the soul are two distinct entities by virtues of being different in nature and of being possessed of dissimilar attributes and characteristics. They are, however, inseparable one from the other, being related to each other as the pervader and the pervaded and have certain attributes in common. Just as a material object has always been and shall always be, distinct from the space in which it exists and as the two have never been, nor shall ever be one and the same, even so are God and the soul to each other. Their mutual relation is that of the pervader and the pervaded, of father and son and the like.

6. I hold three things to be beginningless, namely, God the soul, and prakriti - the material cause of the universe. These are also known as the eternal substrata. Being eternal, their essential nature, their attributes and their characteristics, are also eternal.

7. Substances, properties, and characteristics, which result from combination, cease to exist on the dissolution of that compound. But the power or force, by virtue of which one substance unites with another, or separates from it, is eternally inherent in that substance, and this power will compel it to seek similar unions and disunions in the future. Unions and disunions, Creation and Dissolution (of the world) [and birth and death of the soul] have eternally followed each other in succession.

8. That which results from the combination of different elementary substances in an intelligent manner and in the right proportion and other, - even that, in all its infinite variety, is called Creation.

9. The purpose of Creation is the essential and natural exercise of the creative energy of the Deity. A person one asked another “What is the use of the eyes?” “To see with to be sure,” was the reply. The same is the case here. God’s creative energy can be exercised and the souls can reap the fruits of their deeds only when the world is created.

10. The world is created. Its Creator is the aforesaid God. The existence of design in the universe as well as the fact that the dead inert matter is incapable of molding itself into different ordered forms, such as seeds, proves that it must have a Creator.

11. “The earthly bondage (of the soul) has a cause. This cause is ignorance which is the source of sin, as among other things it leads man to worship objects other than God, obscures his intellectual faculties, whereof pain and suffering is the result. Bondage is termed so, because no one desires it but has to undergo it.

12. The emancipation of the soul from pain and suffering of every description and a subsequent career of freedom in the All-pervading God and His immense Creation for a fixed period of time and its resumption of earthly life after the expiration of that period constitute Salvation.

13. The means of salvation are the worship of God, in other words, the practice of yoga, the performance of righteous deeds, the acquisition of true knowledge by the practice of Brahmacharya, the society of the wise and the learned, love of true knowledge, purity of thought, a life of activity and so on.

14. The righteously acquired wealth alone constitutes Artha, while that which is acquired by foul means is called Anarth.

15. The enjoyment of legitimate desires with the helps of honestly acquired wealth constitutes Kama.

16. The Class and Order of an individual should be determined by his merits.

17. He alone deserves the title of a king who is endowed with excellent qualities and a noble disposition, and bears an exalted character, who follows the dictates of equitable justice, who loves and treats his subjects as a father does his own offspring and is ever engaged in promoting their happiness and furthering their advancement.

18. He alone deserves to be called a subject who is possessed of excellent qualities, a noble disposition and a good character, is free from partiality follows the behests of justice, righteousness, and is ever engaged in furthering the happiness of the fellow-subjects as well as that of his sovereign whom he regards in the light of a parent, and is ever loyal.

19. He who always thinks well (before he acts) is ever ready to embrace truth and reject falsehood, who puts down the unjust and helps the just, feels for others in the same way as he does for his own self - even him I call just.

20. Devas are those who are wise and learned: asuras are those who are foolish and ignorant; rakshas are those who are wicked and love sin; and pishachas are those who are filthy in their habits.

21. Devapuja consists in showing honor to the wise and the learned, to one’s father, mother and preceptor, to the itinerant preachers of truth, to a just ruler, to those who lead righteous lives, to whom who are chaste and faithful to their husbands, to men who are devoted and loyal to their wives. The opposite of this is called Adevapuja. The worship of the above named persons I hold to be right, while the worship of the dead, inert objects I hold to be wrong.

22. Education (Shiksha) is that which helps one to acquire knowledge, culture, righteousness, self-control and the like virtues; and eradicates ignorance and evil habits.

23. The Puranas are the Brahmana books, such as Aitreya Brahmana written by the great Rishis like Brahma. They are also called Itihas, Kalpa, Gatha, and Narashansi. The Bhagvat and other books of that sort are not true (real) Puranas.

24. Tirtha is that by means of which the ‘ocean of misery’ is crossed. It consists in the practice of truthfulness in speech, in the acquisition of true knowledge, in cultivating the society of the wise and the good, in the practice of yamas and (other stages) of yoga in leading a life of activity, in the diffusion of knowledge and in the performance of the like good works. So - called sacred places on land and water are not tirthas.

25. Activity is superior to Destiny, since the former begets the latter, and also because if the activity is well directed, ends well; but if it is wrongly directed, all goes wrong.

26. I hold that it is commendable for man to feel for others in the same way as he does for his own self, to sympathies with them in their sorrows and losses and to rejoice in their joys and gains; and that it is reprehensible to do otherwise.

27. Sanskar is that which contributes to the physical, mental and spiritual improvement of man. From Conception to Cremation there are sixteen sanskars altogether. I hold their due and proper observance is obligatory on all. Nothing should be done for the departed after the remains have been cremated.

28. I hold that the performance of yajna is most commendable. It consists in showing due respect to the wise and the learned, in the proper applications of the principles of chemistry and of physical and mechanical sciences to the affairs of life, in the dissemination of knowledge and culture, in the performance of Agnihotra which, by contributing to the purification of air and water, rain and vegetables, directly promotes the well-being of all sentient creatures.

29. Gentlemen are called Aryas, while rogues are called Dasyus.

30. This country is called Aryavara because it has been the abode of the Aryas from the very dawn of Creation. It is bounded on the north by the Himalayas, on the south by the Vindhyachala mountains, on the west by the Attok (Indus), and on the east by the Brahmaputra. The land included within these limits is Aryavarta and those that have been living in it from times immemorial are also called Aryas.

31. An Acharya is one who teaches the sciences of the Vedas as well as their Angas and Upangas, who helps (his pupils) to live righteous lives and keep aloof from bad habits and vices.

32. He alone is a Shishya (pupil) who has the capacity for acquiring knowledge and true culture. Whose moral character is unimpeachable, who is eager to learn, and is devoted to his teacher.

33. By the term Guru is meant father or mother. It also applies to one through whose instrumentality one’s mind is grounded in truth and weaned from falsehood.

34. He is a Prohita who wishes well to his Yajaman, and always preaches truth to him.

35. An Upadhyaya (Professor) is one who can teach certain portions of the Vedas or of the Angas.

36. Shishtachar consists in leading a virtuous life, in acquiring knowledge during the period of Brahmacharya in sifting truth from error by the help of (the eight kinds of) evidence, such as direct cognition and then embracing truth and rejecting error. He who practices shishtachar is called a shishta (gentleman).

37. I believe in the eight kinds of evidence such as direct cognition.

38. I call him alone an Apt who always speaks the truth, is just and upright and labours for the good of all.

39. There are five tests: -

(1) The nature, attributes and characteristics of God, and the teachings of the Veda. (2) Eight kinds of evidence such as Direct Cognition. (3) Laws of nature. (4) The practice of Aptas. (5) The purity and conviction of one’s own soul.

It behoves all men to sift truth from error with the help of these five tests and to embrace truth and reject error.

40. Propkar (philanthropy) is that which helps to wean all men from their vices and alleviate their sufferings, promote the practice of virtue among them and increase their happiness.

41. The Soul is a free agent to do deeds, but is subservient to God for reaping the fruits thereof. Likewise, God is free to do His good works.

42. Swarga (Heaven) is the enjoyment of extreme happiness and the attainment of the means thereof.

43. Narka (Hell) is another name for undergoing extreme suffering and possession of the means thereof.

44. Janma (birth), which consists in the soul’s assumption of the gross, visible body, viewed in relation to time is three-fold, viz., past, present and future.
45. Birth is another name for the union of the soul with the body, and death is the dissolution of the link.

46. The acceptance of the hand, through mutual consent, of a person of the opposite sex in a public manner and in accordance with the laws (laid down by the Vedas and Shastras) is called Marriage.

47. Niyoga is the temporary union of a person with another of the opposite sex, both parties may belong to the same Class or the male may belong to a Class higher, for the raising of issue, when marriage has failed to fulfil its legitimate purpose. It is resorted to in extreme cases, either on the death of one’s consort, or when protracted disease has destroyed reproductive power in the husband or in the wife.

48. Stuti (Glorification) consists in praising Divine attributes and power or in hearing them being praised, with the view to fix them in our mind and realize their meaning. Among other things it inspires us with love towards God.

49. Prarthana (Prayer) is praying to God, after one has done his utmost for the gift of highest knowledge and similar (other blessings), which result from union with Him. It creates humility, etc., (in the mind of the devotee).

50. Upasana (Communion) consists in conforming ourselves, as far as possible, in purity and holiness to the Divine Spirit, and in feeling the presence of the Deity in our heart by the realization of His All-pervading nature through the practice of Yoga which enables one to have direct cognition of God. Upasana serves to extend the bounds of our knowledge.

51. Sagun Stuti consists in praising God as possessed of specific attributes which are inherent in Him; while Nirgun Stuti consists in praising God as devoid of attributes which are foreign to His nature.

Sagun Prarthana consists in praying to God for the attainment of virtuous qualities; while Nirgun Prarthana consists in imploring the Deity to rid us of all our faults. Sagun Upasana consists in resigning oneself to God and His Will realizing Him as possessed of attributes that are in harmony with His nature; while Nirgun Upasana consists in resigning oneself to God and His Will realizing Him as devoid of attributes that are foreign to his nature.

I have briefly explained my beliefs here; their detailed exposition is to be found in this very book in its proper place as well as in my other works such as “An Introduction to the Exposition of the Vedas.”

In other words I believe what is worthy of belief in the eyes of all, such as veracity in speech; while I do not believe what is considered wrong by all, such untruthfulness. I do not approve of the mutual wrangling of the sectaries since they have by propagating their creeds, led the people astray and turned them each other’s enemy. The sole aim of my life, which I have also endeavored to achieve is to help to put an end to this mutual wrangling, preach universal truths, bring all men into the fold of one religion whereby they may cease to hate each other and, instead, may firmly love one another, live in peace and work for their common weal. May this doctrine, through the grace and help of God, and with the support of all truthful, honest and learned men who are devoted to the cause of humanity (Aptas) reach every nook and corner of this earth so that all may acquire righteousness, wealth, gratify legitimate desires and attain salvation and thereby elevate themselves and live in happiness. This alone is the chief object (of my life).


[“ Mayest Thou (AOM) O God, Who art (Mitra), Friend of all, (Varun) Holiest of all, and (Aryama) Controller of the Universe, be merciful unto us. Mayest Thou (Indra) O God Almighty, (Vrihaspati) Lord of the Universe, Support of all, endow us with knowledge and power. Mayest Thou (Vishnu) O Omnipresent and (Kurukrama) Omnipotent Being, shower Thy blessing all around us.”]   

Ten Principles of Arya Samaj

1. God is the primary source of true knowledge and of all that is known by its means.

2. God is Existent, Conscious, All betitude Formless. Almighty Just Merciful, Unbegotten, Infinite, Unchangeable, beginningless Income, Parable the support of all the lord of all. All pervading Omniscient and Controller of all from-within Evermature. Imperishable Fearless. Eternal Holy and Creator of Universe. To him alone is worship due.

3. The Vedas are the scriptures of all true knowledge. It is the paramount duty of all Aryans to read them to teach them (others) and to hear them read to recite them (others).

4. All persons should be ever ready to accept truth and renounce untruth

5. All acts ought to be performed in conformity to Dharma i.e., after due consideration of right and wrong.

6. The prime object of Arya Samaj is to do good to the world i.e., to ameliorate physical, spiritual and social standards of all men.

7. All ought to be treated with love justice righteousness and due regard to their merits.

8. Ignorance ought to be dispelled and knowledge be disseminated.

9. No one should remain content with his or her own well being but on the contrary should regard his or her well being in consonance with the well-being of others.

10. In matters affecting well - being of the society (all others) an individual should subordinate his or her personal liking while in matters affecting him or her alone he or she could enjoy freedom of action.

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