Arya Samaj


Arya Samaj
Reform sect of Hinduism, founded in 1875 by Dayananda Sarasvati, in order to reestablish the Vedas as revealed and infallible truth.

The Arya Samaj opposes idolatry, ancestor worship, animal sacrifice, a caste system based on birth rather than merit, untouchability (see untouchable), child marriage, pilgrimages, and temple offerings. It upholds the sanctity of the cow, samskaras, oblations to fire, and social reform, including the education of women. Strongest in western and northern India, it is governed by representatives elected to samajas ("societies") at the local, provincial, and national levels, and it played an important role in the growth of Indian nationalism.

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▪ religious sect, India
SanskritSociety of NoblesEnglish  Society of Aryans 

      vigorous reform sect of modern Hinduism, founded in 1875 by Dayananda Sarasvati (q.v.), whose aim was to reestablish the Vedas, the earliest Hindu scriptures, as revealed truth. He rejected all later accretions to the Vedas as degenerate but, in his own interpretation, included much post-Vedic thought, such as the doctrines of karman (effect of past deeds) and of rebirth.

      The Arya Samaj has always had its largest following in West and North India. It is organized in local samājas (“societies”) that send representatives to provincial samājas and to an all-India samāja. Each local samāja elects its own officers in a democratic manner.

      The Arya Samaj opposes idolatry, animal sacrifice, ancestor worship, a caste system based on birth rather than on merit, untouchability, child marriage, pilgrimages, priestly craft, and temple offerings. It upholds the infallibility of the Vedas, the doctrines of karman and rebirth, the sanctity of the cow, the importance of the individual sacraments (saṃskāras), the efficacy of Vedic oblations to the fire, and programs of social reform. It has worked to further female education and intercaste marriages, has built missions, orphanages, and homes for widows, and has undertaken famine relief and medical work. It has also established a network of schools and colleges. From its beginning it was an important factor in the growth of nationalism. It has been criticized, however, as overly dogmatic and militant on occasion and as having exhibited an aggressive intolerance toward both Christianity and Islām.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Arya Samaj — /ärˈyä sä mäjˈ/ noun A reformed Hindu religious body or school, founded by Dayananda Saraswati (1824–83), based on the Vedas, and opposing idolatry, caste, and child marriage ORIGIN: Hindi ārya samāj noble association …   Useful english dictionary

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