Swami Dayananda Saraswati / स्वामी दयानन्द सरस्वती
- Swami Dayananda Saraswati (February 12, 1824 - October 31, 1883) was an important Hindu religious scholar and the founder of the Arya Samaj, "Society of Nobles", a Hindu reform movement, founded in 1875.
- He was a sanyasi (renunciate) from his boyhood, and a scholar, who believed in the infallible authority of the Vedas. Dayananda advocated the doctrine of karma, skepticism in dogma, and emphasised the ideals of brahmacharya (celibacy and devotion to God).
- The Theosophical Society and the Arya Samaj were united for a certain time under the name Theosophical Society of the Arya Samaj.
- Swami Dayananda's creation, the Arya Samaj, is a unique component in Hinduism. The Arya Samaj unequivocally condemns idol-worship, animal sacrifices, ancestor worship, pilgrimages, priestcraft, offerings made in temples, the caste system, untouchability, child marriages and discrimination against women on the grounds that all these lacked Vedic sanction.
- The Arya Samaj discourages dogma and symbolism and encourages skepticism in beliefs that run contrary to common sense and logic. To many people, the Arya Samaj aims to be a "universal church" based on the authority of the Vedas.
- Among Swami Dayananda's immense contributions is his championing of the equal rights of women- such as their right to education and reading of Indian scriptures-and his translation of the Vedas from Sanskrit to Hindi so that the common man may be able to read the Vedas.
- The Arya Samaj is rare in Hinduism in its acceptance of women as leaders in prayer meetings and preaching.