Arya Samaj was a Hindu reform movement founded in 1875 by Swami Dayananda Sarasvati. It has largest following in western and Northern part of India. The Arya Samaj opposes worship of images, animal sacrifice, performing rituals on behalf of ancestors, basing caste upon birth rather than upon merit, untouchability, child marriage, pilgrimages, priestly craft, and temple offerings.
Arya Samaj has worked to improve female education and intercaste marriage. It has built missions, orphanages, and homes for widows; has established a network of schools and colleges and has also undertaken famine relief and medical work. From its beginning, Arya Samaj has been an important factor in the growth of Indian nationalism.
Basing its beliefs on the Vedas, Arya Samaj beliefs are as follows
- It believes in three external existences, god, soul and nature. These three existences are different from each other.
- God is formless and does not take birth in any form. Therefore, Arya Samaj does not believe in idol worship and incarnation of god.
- It believes that the four Vedas are not depended on any verbal authority for authenticity as they are self evident. It also believes in Brahmanas relating to the four Vedas, six branches of the Vedas, eleven Upanishads to the extent they are in agreement with the Vedas.
- It believes that Dharma is that which is just, true, free from bias and not opposed to the laws of God. Adharma is that which is untrue, biased and opposed to God’s laws.