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Arya Samaj : Socio – Religious Movement in Colonial India

Updated on December 27, 2013
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IRSHAD. CV has completed graduation. History was one of his optional course. He is interested in Indian history.


Arya Samaj was one of the famous socio – religious movement in India in the second half of the 19th century. The Arya Samaj founded in 1875. during this era, was a stage of freedom struggle. In this period many reforms and revolts were conducted against British domination on India. The major cause for the foundation of Arya Samaj was the impact of British rule. Along with the British policy, they tried to modernize India through introducing modern form of education in India. At the same time Arya Samaj denied British policy and focused on traditional knowledge.


Arya Samaj considered as one of the social – religious reforms or movements in colonial India during the period of second half of the 19th century. Arya Samaj founded in1875 by Mulshanker (1824 – 83), he popularly known as Swami Dayanad Saraswathi. His father was very expert in Hindu religion and its scriptures. It enabled Mulshanker to learn religious thoughts at very yearly time of his life. His family was a Brahmin family. Further he was very expert in Yoga practices.

The Arya Samaj established at Bombay, later this headquarters changed in to Lahore. Since Dayanand Saraswathi educated traditionally, he hardly believed in Vedas and scriptures and rejected western thoughts and ideas introduced by British. So, most of the followers of the movement were traditionally educated persons. Bit later they supported modern education.

Dayanand Saraswathi advocated his followers to go back to traditional Indian culture, Vedas and scriptures. Because he believed that, Vedas provides all knowledge about past, present, and future. He opposed against the alterations in Vedas by some persons. He wrote a book ‘Sathyartha Prakash’ ( The True exposition), it considered as the book of Arya Samaj. But unfortunately the book banned by the British government. By ‘go back to Vedas’ he believed it will help Indian to ensure nationalism.

Moreover, he was also against many other social evils practiced in Indian society like child marriage, widow remarriage, caste system, idol worship, untouchability among people on the basis of color and caste, women discrimination, Brahmin domination in the Hindu society etc. The Arya Samaj worked for the gender equality and was against the male domination in the society.


From the beginning stage of Arya Samaj, they acted against the introduction of modern form of education by the British. Because almost all the followers of the Arya Samaj movement were educated traditionally. But later they understand the importance of modern education and they advocated for that. And they argued for education for all irrespective of caste, gender, color etc. As a part of educational activities they started schools and colleges (Dayanand Anglo Vedic Schools and Colleges) at Lahore in 1886. along with learning modern education they argued to teach the western thoughts and ideas with special reference of Vedas. Since they believed and argued for traditional living they were not allowed co-education as practiced traditionally.

Arya Samaj was a great energy to the Hindu society. The movement enable them to acquire self confidence and self reliance. When compared Arya Samaj movement with other movements, it created a wide impact in India, since the activities of the movement was not constrained in a small area, but arrived throughout India, especially northern Indian states. The movement actively reached at Punjab, Hariyana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan etc.

Another sub movement of Arya Samaj was ‘Shudhi Movement’. Shudhi Movement’ means conversion of non-Hindus in to Hinduism. The main slogan of Dayanand Saraswathi was ‘ India fr the Indians’. Along with Dayanad Saraswathi the movement produced many other leaders like Lala Hans Raj, Pandit Guru Datt and Lala Lajpat Rai. But gradually the movement lost its popularity. The main reason for the losing of it’s popularity was the movement argued highly for traditional things.


In short Arya Samaj movement was one of the popular movement arose in India during the second half of the 19th century. The movement help Indians to boost their confidence and provided energy to argue against colonial powers.


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      IRSHAD CV 2 years ago from India, Kerala

      Thanks Dr Pran Rangan for readimg and leaving your valuable comment

    • Dr Pran Rangan profile image

      Dr Pran Rangan 2 years ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Thanks for a good hub about Arya Samaj. I hope that we will interact more in future through hubs.