THE ARYA SAMAJ AS A MOVEMENT
Every religious movement aims at not only initiating a spiritual awakening but also reforming the contemporary society by trying to remove ignorance,superstitions,doubts and dogmas from the minds of people,thus ushering in a new kind of religious renaissance.In this respect,the Arya Samaj,as a religious movement,did not fall far behind,as it made a dynamic impact upon the Indians,forming a interesting and conspicuous chapter in the modern Hindu thought.Through the preaching of Vedic ideals,it succeeded to a great extent,in reforming the then Indian society,inculcating in the people the moral values of life.In this chapter,we shall attempt to throw light on how the Arya Samaj as a movement was able to achieve its desired goalof revitalising the Indians from their stupor of lethargy and ignorance,initiating them to learn the invaluable greatness of the Vedic ideals and making them understand and accept these ideals as a way of life.To be precise,the Arya Samaj tried its best to remove the social ills such as untouchability,cow-slaughter,forced widowhood,child-marriage and bringing above reforms through female educastion,permission for going abroad for higher learning,reconversion to Hinduism,and many other philanthropic work to inject a new life and vigour into the then morbid socio-religious enviromentof the Indian society. The major thrust of the movement was in the field of religion.The religious scene among the Hindus in the nineteenth century had become morbid.Many religious beliefs and practices prevailed among the Hindu society which were not an essential inseparable part of true Hinduism.The puranik Hinduism had practically usurpesd the rightful place of the Vedas and the Upanishads.Hinduism had evolved many sects like Saivism,Vaisnavism,Saktism,Tantrism,the Swaminarayan and others.Religion degenerated intothe performance of religious worship of idol and rigid rituals and its spiritualism began to be clouded and confused.Religion began to be equated with temple going ,the observance of shradha ceremony,pilgrimage to the holy places,observance of vratas and fasts in the expectation of fantastic earthly rewards,and beliefs in astrology. They did not know much about their holy books.They believed that anything written in Sanskrit was sacred.They often read books in Sanskrit which were not really good,only a few of them read Gita which was supposed to be composed by Lord Krishna:some read the Ramayana and the Mahabharata,the two great epics of India;but very few of them knew anything about the four Vedas,the sacred books of Hindus.As a matter of fact the so called religious leaders of Hinduism,the members of the preistly...
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