Teachings of Arya Samaj

Teachings of Dayanand

He hath paid sacrifice, toiled in worship, and offered gifts to wealth-increasing Agni, him the displeasure of the mighty moves not, outrage and scorn effect not such a mortal. (R.vi.3,2). Given below are his beliefs in the order in which he recorded them.

Dayanand attacked the unquestioned authority of the Brahman by birth. They pretended to know the Vedas when most of them did not know it in full or in a substantial part. He called upon all people, regardless of caste and creed to study the Vedas, and conceded to every human being the right of personal interpretation of the Vedas. This was a revolution as for centuries only the Brahmans were vested with the authority to read study and recite the Vedas. His knowledge of Vedic literature was almost unsurpassed amongst these contemporaries, so he was able to substantiate his sayings with quotes from sacred literature, the Brahmans, the Upanishads and the Sutras. Back to the Vedas was D’s cry; he unlocked the treasures in them.

Excerpts from his book Satya Prakash (The True Exposition) – “My concept of God and all other objects in the universe is founded on the teachings of the Veda and other true Shastras and is in conformity with the beliefs of all sages from Brahma down to Jamini. I offer a statement of these beliefs for the acceptance of all good men. I do not entertain the least idea of founding a new sect or religion. My sole aim to believe in the truth and help others to believe in it, to reject falsehood and to help others do the same”.

1. He, who is called Brahm or the most High; who is Parmatma, or the Spirit who permeates the whole universe; who is Truth, Intelligence, and Happiness; 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, sustains and dissolves it; Who awards all souls the fruits of their deeds in strict accordance with the requirements of absolute justice; and Who is possessed of other like attributes – even Him I believe to be the Lord of creation.

2. The four Vedas, the repository of Knowledge and Religious Truth, are Word of God. They comprise what is known as the Samhita – Mantra Bhag only. They are absolutely free from error, and the supreme and independent authority in all things. They require no other book to bear witness to their Divine origin. Even as the sun or a lamp is, by its own light, an absolute and independent manifested of its own existence – yea, it reveals the existence of things other than itself 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, their authority is to be followed only so far as they conform to the teachings of the Vedas. Whatever passages in these works are opposed to the Vedic teaching, I reject them entirely.

3. That which inculcates justice and equity, which teaches truthfulness in thought, speech and deed – in a word, that which is in conformity with the Will of God, as embodied in the Vedas, even that I call Dharma. But that which is intermixed with what is partial, which sanctions injustice, which teaches untruthfulness of thought, speech or deed – in brief that which is in antagonism to the Will of God, as embodied in the Vedas, that I term Adharma.

4. The immortal, eternal Principle which is endowed with thought and judgment, with desire and hate, which is susceptible of pleasure and pain, whose capacity for knowledge is limited – even that is ‘Soul’.

5. God and Soul are two distinct entities. Each has certain attributes, which are not and cannot be predicable of the other, and each performs certain functions which the other does not and cannot perform. 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. Even as a material object is, was and shall always be, distinct from the space in which it exists and as the two cannot, were not, and shall never be, one and the same, even so God and the Soul are to each other. Their mutual relation is that of the pervader and the pervaded, of father and son. This worships and that is worshipped.

6. Three things are eternal, namely God, Soul, and Prakriti-the material cause of the universe. These are also known as the eternal substances. Being eternal, their essential qualities, their functions, and their natures are essentially the same.

7. Substances, properties, and functions, which result from combination, cease to exist on dissolution. But the power or force, by virtue of which a substance unites with another or separates from it, is eternally inherent in the substance, and this power will compel it to seek similar unions and disunion’s in future. The unions and disunion’s, as well as the power by virtue of which they take place, are also eternal, in consequence of the regularity of their succession.

8. That which results from a combination of primary elements, compounded together consistently with a through and complete knowledge of the distinctive properties of every separate element and with all the perfection of design – 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 once asked some one: “what is the purpose of the eyes?’ ‘Why’ to see with, to be sure,’ was the reply. The same is the case here. God’s creative energy must have play, and the souls must reap the fruits of their karma.

10. The creation has a Creator. The existence of a design in the universe as well as the fact that dead unconscious matter is incapable of forming itself into seed or any other thing endowed with life and vitality shows 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 things other than the Creator and obscures his intellectual faculties, whereof pain and suffering is the result. Ignorance is termed bondage, as it involves the Soul in pain, which everybody wants to escape, but which he must suffer if he is ignorant.

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, is termed Salvation. Salvation lasts for a period only, on the expiration of which the saved soul again assumes a body.

13. The means of salvation are the worship of God or the contemplation of His nature and attributes with concentrated attention, the practice of virtue, the acquisition of true knowledge by the practice of Brahmcharya, the company of the wise and learned, the love of true knowledge, purity of thought, active benevolence, and so on.

16. The ‘caste, of an individual is determined by merit and sterling worth only ………..

20. Devas (gods) are those who are wise and learned, asuras, those who are foolish and ignorant; rakshas, those who are wicked and sin loving; and pishachas, those whose mode of life is filthy and debasing.

21. Devapuja (or the worship of the gods) consists in showing honour and respect to the wise and learned, to one’s father, mother and preceptor, to the preachers of the true doctrine, to a just and impartial sovereign, to lovers of righteousness, to chaste men and women.

23. The Puranas (ancient commentaries on the Vedas and other works on theology) are the Aitreva Brahmanas and similar compositions by the great Rishis like Brahma and others. In Itihas or history I include Kalpa, Gatha, and Narashansi. The Bhagwat and other books of that sort are not the Puranas.

25. An energetic and active life is preferable to passive acquiescence in the decrees of fate, inasmuch as destiny is the consequence of acts. A life of virtuous activity will secure the soul a good destiny, as a life of wickedness will produce the opposite result. Hence acts, being the makers of destiny, virtuous activity are superior to passive resignation.

26. The most approved behavior of one man towards his fellow-creatures lies in his treating everyone according to his worth, in his treating him as he would wish himself to be treated by others, in sympathizing with him, from the core of his heart, in his joys and sorrows, in his losses and gains.

27. Sanskar, or sacrament, is that which contributes to man’s physical, mental and spiritual improvement. The sanskars are sixteen in number. Their due and proper observance is obligatory on all. Nothing should be done for the departed after the remains have been cremated.

28. The performance of yajna is most commendable. It consists in showing honor and respect to the wise and learned, in the proper application of the principles of chemistry and other physical sciences to the affairs of life, in the dissemination of knowledge, in the performance of Agnihotra, which by contributing to the purification of the air and water, and the healthy growth of vegetables, directly tends to promote the well-being of all sentient creatures.

39. All truth must satisfy five tests: (1) It must not militate against the nature and attributes of God; (2) it must not be opposed to the teaching of the Vedas; (3) it must stand the test of the well-known eight kinds of proofs based on natural laws; (4) it must have the sanction of ‘apt purshas’ (i.e. men learned, true and holy); and lastly (5) it must be in consonance with the dictates of one’s own conscience. Every doctrine must be subjected to these five tests, and accepted if it fulfils them ……………

41. The soul is a free agent-at liberty to act as it pleases, but it is dependent on God’s grace for the enjoyment of the fruit of its actions. God is free as well as just.

42. Swarga (heaven) represents the state of happiness.

43. Narka (hell) represents pain and suffering.

46. When, according to the rules prescribed by the Shastras, a person bestows, as the result of reciprocal affection, his or her hand upon of the opposite sex and in a public manner, he or she is said to contract marriage.

48. Stuti (or praise) is the enumeration of Divine attributes and qualities, with a view to fix them in the mind and realize their meaning. Among other things it inspires us with love towards God.

49. Prarthana is praying to God for the gift of knowledge and similar other blessings which result from a communion with Him. Its principal fruit is humility and serenity of mind. Prayer does not dispense with effort.

50. Upasna is conforming, as far as possible, in purity and holiness to the Divine Spirit. It is feeling the presence of the Deity in the Soul by the realization of His all-pervading nature. Upasna extends the bounds of our knowledge.

51. Sagun Stuti is praising God by the enumeration of the qualities and attributes which He possesses, but Nirgun Stuti is praising God by those qualities and attributes which are foreign to His nature.

“Sagun Prarthana is praying to God for virtuous qualities; but Nirgun Prarthana is imploring the Deity to cast out from us that which is evil.

“Sagun Upasna is the realization, in the soul, of the presence of God as possessing the attributes which are inherent in Him, while Nirgun upasna is the realization, in the soul, of the presence of God as distinct from what is foreign to His nature.” We have omitted some articles as unimportant, or because they were included elsewhere.

But Swami Dayanand was something more than a religious propagandist, a social reformer and a true patriot. There is a point of view that seeming rigidity of D’s teachings really imparted to the Arya Samaj a character and drive which made it a powerful national force.

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