Go back to the Vedas’ was the quintessence of Swami Dayananda Sarasvati’s timeless message. He said ‘I hold the four Vedas (the divine revealed knowledge and religious truth comprising the Samhita or Mantras) as infallible and as authority by their very nature’. He clearly stated in his Satyarth Prakash that the Veda contains the truths of science as well as of religion. Sri Aurobindo endorsed this approach of Swami Dayanand Sarasvati when he said
‘There is then nothing fantastical in Swami Dayananda’s idea that the Veda contains the truths of science. I will even add my own conviction that the Veda contains other truths of science which the modern world does not at all possess, and, in that case, Swami Dayananda has rather under-stated than over-stated the depth and rage of the Vedic Wisdom. Immediately after the character of the Veda is fixed in the sense Swami Dayananda gave to it, the merely ritual, mythological, polytheistic interpretation of Sanayacharya collapses, and the merely mateological and materialistic European interpretation collapses. We have, instead, a real scripture, one of the World’s sacred books, and the divine word of a lofty and noble religion’.
Swami Dayananda advocated Vedic Education for all the castes and communities, including the Sudras, Ati-Sudras and also those below the Mudras. Thus Swami Dayananda laid the foundation for the amelioration of the depressed classes. As per those Hindu lower classes and other Hindus who have been converted to Islam or Christianity, through force or inducement, he advocated ‘shuddhi’ or ‘re-conversion’. Out of the shuddhi movement there logically develop about the beginning of the twentieth century a campaign to recruit low castes and untouchables, with a ceremony evolve to invest the new recruits with the sacred thread, thus making them equal with the high-caste Hindus.
I fully endorse the view of Sandhya Jain:
‘The lasting legacy of Swami Dayanand Saraswati (1825-1883), for which he deserves the undying gratitude of succeeding generations, is that he told an enslaved and demoralised Hindu society to seek inspiration and rejuvenation in its Vedic civilisational roots. Whatever the merits of his own rather literal style of interpreting religious texts, the call to return to the Vedic Gangotri was an act of sheer genius’.
The political views and ideals of Swami Dayananda have received less recognition than his social and religious views. He did not approve of foreign rule over India and asked foreigners, ‘not to live here as rulers’, long before the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi on the Indian Political scene in 1915. Thus the Arya Samaj established by Swami Dayananada promoted nationalism along with Hindu revivals. It is no accident that one of the leading disciples of Swami Dayananda, Swami Sraddananda was assassinated by a Muslim in the middle 1920s. Another disciple of Swami Dayananda, Lala Lajput Rai died after he was badly beaten up during a lathi charge against a procession of protest which he was leading against the Simon Commission in Lahore in 1928. Swami Dayananda was a staunch advocate of indigenous rule (Swadeshi Raj) as opposed to foreign rule (Videshi Raj) and harked back to the Universal and presumably golden rule of Vedic Age.