Dayananda Sarasvati

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Sarasvati, Dayananda


Born 1824, in Tankara, Gujarat; died Oct. 30, 1883, in Ajmer. Indian religious reformer and enlightener. Gujarati by nationality.

Sarasvati believed the renewal of Indian society could be achieved through religious and social reforms. He attacked caste restrictions and child marriages and advocated the spread of education and equal rights for men and women. He saw the reform of Hinduism as a return to the religion of the ancient Aryans, as reflected in the sacred Vedas. In order to disseminate his teachings, Sarasvati founded the Arya Samaj society in 1875. He founded a college in Lahore, where the teaching of modern disciplines of the humanities and natural sciences was combined with classical Indian learning. Without openly attacking the British colonial authorities, Sarasvati declared that foreign rule could not ensure the well-being of the people.