Arya Samaj

From Theosophy Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Arya Samaj (Sanskrit ārya samāja आर्य समाज, Punjabi: ਆਰੀਆ ਸਮਾਜ "Noble Society") is a reform movement in Hinduism founded on April 7, 1875. It was established by Swami Dayānand Sarasvatī in Bombay, and continues to operate temples and schools in India, Africa, North America, and other locations.


The Arya Samaj advocates that Hindus follow the Vedas as authoritative in values, culture, and religious practice. Later texts are thought to be adulterated. Among the reforms supported are eradication of child marriage and untouchability; reform of the caste system to be based on merit rather than birth; opposition to idol worship, animal sacrifice, and temple offerings; and equality of women. Adherents believe in one supreme being of whom Aum is the proper name, and in the equality of all human beings.

Involvement with Theosophical Society

In 1877, through Mûlji Thackersey, Colonel Olcott began correspondence with Hurrychand Chintamon, the President of the Bombay Branch of the Arya Samaj, which had then been in existence for two years. To Olcott it seemed that the Bombay group was a Hindu version of the Theosophical Society, and he began work toward forming an alliance. He sent diplomas to Hurrychand and to Swami Dayānand. Thackersey received a charter to form a Bombay branch of the Theosophical Society. On May 22, 1878, officers of the TS voted to unite with Arya Samaj; they changed the organization's name to "The Theosophical Society of the Arya Samaj of India" and recognized the Swami as Director and Chief.

Proposals were publicly discussed to build Aryan temples in New York and elsewhere. Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott wrote letters to newspapers in the United States and India, embracing the Arya Samaj while making statements rejecting Christianity. This very public correspondence contributed to an adverse reception by Christian missionaries in India when the Founders moved there.

The Arya Samaj published rules that were too sectarian for the Society to accept, so the union between the two organizations was revised. There were to be the Theosophical Society (i.e. the Parent Society), the Arya Samaj, and a "link-Society" between them. By 1880 the link died out, leaving its two parents as separate entities. Hurrychand ran off with funds of the Arya Samaj and was expelled from both organizations.[1]

Separation from Theosophical Society

As Dayānand learned more about the Theosophical Society, he disapproved of the members' interest in phenomena. He also became incensed that Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott became Buddhists. In May of 1882, Dayānand suddenly attacked the Founders in print. [2] One of the Mahatmas, the Rishi Agastya, wrote an article for The Theosophist, which he demonstrated how attitudes in Pandit Dayanand's journal The Arya showed a complete reversal from April to May, 1882.[3] Mary K. Neff compiled these excerpts:[4]

Arya of April, 1882. Arya of May, 1882.
The Founders of the Society (our esteemed Brothers and Allies) are the first and staunchest champions of the Vedas and the ancient philosophy of Aryavarta. The alliance between the Arya Samaj and the Theosophical Society has been broken off because the head Theosophists are now converts to Buddhism and no more for the Vedas.
The Society is the most powerful ally that the Aryan religion and science have at the present time in the West. They came to India as students, but have set themselves up as teachers, by establishing a Society of their own which has proved of no practical good to India.
Therefore the case of the Theosophical Society is the cause of the Arya Samaj, and every insult offered to the former (our esteemed Brothers and allies, the Founders of the T.S.) is equally painful to the latter. The reader should also know that Swamiji was never a Fellow the T.S. nor ever expressed a desire to be one. The only relation which he suffered to have been made consisted in his accepting to be their Instructor in the Vedas.

Relations between the two organizations were severed.

Additional resources


  1. Josephine Ransom, A Short History of the Theosophical Society (Adyar, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1938), 115-122.
  2. Josephine Ransom, A Short History of the Theosophical Society (Adyar, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1938), 115-122.
  3. The Supplement to The Theosophist (June, 1882), 6-8. It is dated "Tiruvallam Hills, May 17," and signed "One of the Hindu Founders of the Parent Theosophical Society.
  4. Mary K. Neff, The "Brothers" of Madame Blavatsky (Adyar, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1932), 37-38.