The Arya Samaj
Arya Samaj founded by Swami Dayanand Saraswati on April 10, 1875 in Bombay (now Mumbai), with an objective to eliminate the ills prevalent within the Hindu society at that time. Contrary to some misconceptions, it is not a new religion or a new sect in Hinduism.
Arya Samaj aims to eradicate Ignorance (Agyan), Indigence (Abhav) and Injustice (Anyaya) and, thus, promote love, justice and righteousness towards all, irrespective of race, caste or creed. Arya Samaj follows the principles espoused in the Vedas, which are universally true for all of mankind, to meet the stated objectives. Arya Samaj believes in one Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Merciful, eternal reality called Om, which is the source of all intelligence, justice and bliss.
One of the main missions of the Arya Samaj has been education with an special emphasis of imparting it to the women. Arya Samaj is currently one of the largest providers of education in India, from pre-school to graduate level.
As Indians moved away from the borders of India to settle in other lands, several carried with them the principles of Arya Samaj. They established branches of Arya Samaj in their adopted countries in order to continue the good work, to educate their offspring about the rich history, cultural heritage and traditions of India, and to inspire them to carry on the beliefs and practices of Arya Samaj.
In North America, a number of Arya Samaj organizations have been formed since the 1970s. They gradually become an essential part of the Hindu Community and serve as houses of worship as well as community centers. In the year 1991, they came together to form the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha America, a congress of Arya Samajs in North America.
Arya Samaj of New Jersey
The seed for Arya Samaj in New Jersey was planted in January, 1982 when Rajinder and Jyoti Gandhi invited the members of Arya Samaj of Suburban Nrew York for havan at their home in Ridgewood. Arya Samaj of New Jersey (initially called Arya Samaj of Bergen County) had its first public gathering on August 1, 1982 at 113 Cottage Place, Ridgewood. Nearly four decades later, the Samaj continues to serve as a welcoming and compassionate extended family, offering weekly havan satsangs as well as children and youth classes. Annual cultural events are held to celebrate Hindu holidays and festivals. The credit for nurturing, sustaining and lifting this venerable and vibrant institution to greater heights, goes to the continuous, selfless and untiring efforts of all volunteers and generous donors.
History of Arya Samaj
Among all the movements that have taken place in India to reform Hinduism, Arya Samaj is one of the most successful movement. It has over 5000 branches all over India and in many countries around the world.
Arya Samaj was founded on 10th of April,1875 at Bombay, by Swami Dayanand Saraswati, one of the greatest Hindu religious reformer of all times. Its mission was to revive and propagate the teachings of Vedas, the four (4) most ancient books of revealed knowledge.
Swami Dayanand Saraswati was born in 1824, in the small village of Tankara, in Gujarat, India. At the age of fourteen, he lost faith in religious worship followed by his family during a Shivratri festival. Some years later, he left home in search of truth and God. For the next fifteen years, he searched for a guru who would teach him the ultimate truth. Finally, in Mathura, he met Swami Virjanand, who revealed to Dayanand the truth contained in the Vedas. After completing his studies, Swami Dayanand devoted his life preaching Vedic knowledge to people throughout India.
To combat the poverty, misery and hypocrisy he saw in the Hindu society, Swamiji started a strong movement of religious, social and political reforms. A brave and fearless leader, and a great orator, he attracted large gatherings at his lectures and discourses. His powerful speeches and writings, which preached the authority of the Vedas and criticized the meaningless religious customs and social injustices, won him both friends and enemies. He survived several attempts on his life, but finally succumbed to a lethal poison. He died on the night of Deepawali, October 30, 1883. Through their dedicated efforts, Swami Dayanand’s followers continued his work, under the banner of Arya Samaj.
This great organization has been largely responsible for the many reforms that have taken place in recent history. It tried to unite the diverse forms of worship by stressing the authority of the Vedas which are the basis of Hinduism. It taught the Vedic truth of one all-pervading, omniscient, eternal and formless God. It condemned blind faith and superstitious beliefs. It revived the Vedic samskaras (sacraments) and the yajna (havan) ceremonies. The Arya Samaj fought against social injustices and discriminations based on birth, race, sex, color or creed. It fought to end to the prevalent custom of child marriage and encouraged the remarriage of widows. In the political arena, the Arya Samaj was foremost in India’s struggle for independence from foreign rule.
Arya Samaj in North America
In North America, a number of Arya Samaj organizations have been formed since the nineteen-seventies. In the year 1991, they came together to form the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha America, a congress of Arya Samajs in North America. They have become an essential part of the Hindu Community and serve as houses of worship as well as community centers.
Arya Samaj of New Jersey (formerly known as Arya Samaj of Bergen County) was formed in August, 1982. It has grown into a large religious and cultural congregation with members from various counties in New Jersey and New York. It is committed to promote the mission and principles of Arya Samaj. It teaches Vedic religion, conducts yoga classes to adults and children. It conducts weekly havan/satsangs and religion and Hindi classes for children. It also participates in various social and humanitarian activities including active participation in the Interfaith Brotherhood/Sisterhood Committee.
Arya Samaj is based on the basic teachings of Vedas. These teachings are summarized in 10 basic principles
God is the efficient cause of all true knowledge and all that is known through knowledge.
God is existent, intelligent and blissful. He is formless, omniscient, just, merciful, unborn, endless, unchangeable, beginning-less, unequalled, the support of all, the master of all, omnipresent, immanent, un-aging, immortal, fearless, eternal and holy, and the maker of all. He alone is worthy of being worshiped.
The Vedas are the scriptures of all true knowledge. It is the paramount duty of all Aryas to read them, teach them , recite them and to hear them being read.
One should always be ready to accept truth and to renounce untruth.
All acts should be performed in accordance with Dharma that is, after deliberating what is right and wrong.
The prime object of the Arya Samaj is to do good to the world, that is, to promote physical, spiritual and social good of everyone.
Our conduct towards all should be guided by love, righteousness and justice.
We should dispel Avidya (ignorance) and promote Vidya (knowledge).
No one should be content with promoting his/her good only; on the contrary, one should look for his/her good in promoting the good of all.
One should regard oneself under restriction to follow the rules of society calculated to promote the well being of all, while in following the rules of individual welfare all should be free.
Om bhur bhuvah swah,tatsavitur
varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yo nah prachodayat
O God, the Giver of life, Remover of pains and sorrows, Bestower of happiness, and
Creator of the Universe, You are most luminous, pure and adorable. We meditate on You. May You inspire and guide our intellect in the path of righteousness.
Om vishwani deva savitar duritani parasuva
Yad bhadram tanna asuva
O Lord, The Creator of the Universe, remove all forms of vice and sorrow from us.
Give us those qualities that are ennobling.
Om agne naya supatha raye asman viswani deva vayunani vidwan.
Yuyo dhasma jjuhurana meno bhuyishthante nama uktim vidhema.
O luminous God! Lead us to the noble path of thy devotion and grace.
Lord! You know all our deeds. Remove all vices and sins from us.
We offer in every way our homage and salutations to You.
Om asato ma sad gamaya,
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya,
Mrityorma ‘mritam gamaya.
O Lord, Lead us from untruth to truth.
Lead us from darkness to light
Lead us from death to immortality.
Sarve bhavantu sukhinah,
Sarve santu niramayah.
Sarve bhadrani pashyantu,
Ma kashchit dukha bhavayt.
O Lord, In You may all be happy. May all be free from misery.
May all realize goodness, and may no one suffer pain.