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Arya Samaj

(Ārya Samāj) A reforming sect of Hinduism founded in 1875. Its members follow the teachings of Swami DAYANAND SARASWATI (1824-83). The members of this sect distance themselves from orthodox Brahmanism and accept the Vedas as their scriptural text, holding that later writings may be corruptions of the earlier ones.

The Arya Samaj opposes the existing caste system which is based on birth, holding that it is not based on the Vedas, believing that caste should be based on merit. Its members have worked to abolish child marriage and untouchability. It has established many schools and colleges in India.

There was some dialogue between Helena P. Blavatsky and members of Arya Samaj regarding the similarities and differences of belief between it and the Theosophical Society (see The Dekkan Star, Poona, March 30, 1879). In June 1878 an article by Blavatsky announced that the Theosophical Society was in organized affiliation with the Arya Samaj and was its Western Representative, notionally under the orders of its chiefs (CW I:381). The relationship was terminated by Blavatsky in 1882 following sharp disagreement between her and Dayanand (CW IV:93).


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