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Respected Guruji , Sat-Sat Pranam and  Namaskar

 

We feel glad ,proud and previliged to have blessing on us and to have a place in your feet .

With Warm regards

Sukhvir Sangwan and Rakesh Kumar from India


By Dr.Satish Prakash


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Aryasamajtoday is under the spiritual leadership of Satish Prakash, PhD., Vyakaranacharya. He is the Founder and Executive Director of Maharishi Dayananda Gurukula, NA, Inc. He can be reached at satishprakash@yahoo.com
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The Evolving Priorities of the Arya Samaj – What should I expect from my local Arya Samaj Mandir and the world-wide body of Arya Samaj? What does the Arya Samaj need to do in the near term to reclaim relevance in the next generation?   
April 20, 2010 by Shruti B Prakash

The Evolving Priorities of the Arya Samaj – What should I expect from my local Arya Samaj Mandir and the world-wide body of Arya Samaj?  What does the Arya Samaj need to do in the near term to reclaim relevance in the next generation?

April 20,2010 By Shruti Bhushan Prakash

Preamble:

April 10, 2010 marks 135 years since the establishment of the Arya Samaj. In Summer of 2010, Guyana will celebrate 100 years since Arya Samaj was introduced in the then British Guiana.

The following are some questions:

·         Why was the Arya Samaj created? It is not a separate religion - this we know. It is widely published that Swami Dayananda had mixed feelings regarding the establishment of yet another "group" - his fear being that it would lead to yet another divisive sect of Hinduism.

·         What is the Job of the Arya Samaj? What anticipated "projects" did Swami Dayananda have in mind - meaning what kinds of things did he wish to see solve by the Arya Samaj?

·         Has the Arya Samaj delivered on these solutions?

·         What are the current projects, activities and priorities of the Arya Samaj - local Mandir and global organization? Are these priorities reflective of the evolved needs of the Community in the 21st century?

In this Blog Entry, I wish to explore these questions and provide some perspective. Clearly, this medium can only address a part of the total picture. I urge your input as appropriate

At the time Swami Dayananda was on the scene in India - approx 1870 - India was fraught with the following structured maladies among others:

·         Foreign rule

·         Caste System domination leading to deep social injustices

·         Loss of Vedic Doctrinal Understanding (polytheism, animal sacrifice, human gods, etc)

·         Strong Christianization of the Hindu public

·         Gender inequality (violence against women - Sati system etc)

·         Poverty - financial inequality

·         Weak ( non-existent) central government - the country was a collection of states ruled by Kings without central unity. The central influence was that of England.

A quick review of the history of the Arya Samaj will show that many activities/projects were directed at solving these structured societal problems such as

·         preaching to eradicate the Caste System

·         awareness for India's self rule

·         condemnation of blind faith

·         revival of the Vedas

·         revision of Sacraments and religious rites

·         Improving the doctrinal understanding of the Hindu to stave off religious conversion

·         improving the status of women

·         opposition to the sati system

·         various charity efforts - orphanages, soup kitchens

·         education for children - gurukula and massive education effort for the young such as the famous DAV colleges

Fast forward 100+ years and let's examine what has changed.

The table below is making the case that the Social and Political Agenda of the Arya Samaj needs to be silenced.

Why?

·         It was VERY relevant and necessary in 1875 for the Arya Samaj to be in a leadership role in rectifying structural failures in Indian Society

·         While much progress has been made in these areas, admittedly not all the social ills are resolved.

·         However, the emergence of India 100+ years later has given rise to a strong constitution, strong central government, adequately funded Government and NGOs with direct responsibility for items (1), (2), (3), (4), (5) of the table below – not to mention World Government Initiatives.

·         The Arya Samaj needs to re-prioritize its meager resources in order to make significant impact with respect to the issues of item (6) and (7) of the table below.

 

1875 - India

General Conditions

2010 - India:

Evolved Conditions

2010 - Outside of India

Evolved Conditions

(1)

Foreign Rule

 

Strong focus of the Arya Samaj 100 years ago

Indian Independence - 1947

Governments in other countries are free and independent

(2)

Caste System domination leading to deep social injustices

 

 

Strong focus of the Arya Samaj 100 years ago

·         Caste system still prevalent.

·         Constitution in India guarantees equal opportunities for all

·         Government and Non-Government Organizations ( NGOs) are charged with the direct and funded responsibilities to eradicate social injustices in India

 

Conclusion: this should no longer be a focus for the Arya Samaj today.

·         The influence of the Caste system is minimized outside of India

·         Social injustices are either deemed illegal or is otherwise not tolerated in western democracies

 

 

Conclusion: this should no longer be a focus for the Arya Samaj today.

(3)

Gender inequality (violence against women - Sati system etc)

 

Strong focus of the Arya Samaj 100 years ago

·         Tremendous progress has been made in India with respect to equality of women - contributions made by the Arya Samaj no doubt and other reformist efforts over the past 100 years.

·         More needs to be done

·         This is a direct responsibility of  Governments at all levels

·         There are funded NGOs charged with this responsibility

Conclusion: this should no longer be a focus for the Arya Samaj today.

Gender equality is a right provided for by laws properly enforced in western democracies - same as in India.

 

Conclusion: this should no longer be a focus for the Arya Samaj today.

(4)

Poverty - financial inequality

 

Strong focus of the Arya Samaj 100 years ago

·         India is one of the fastest economies in the World.

·         The middle class is rapidly expanding

·         Abject Poverty is on the decline - rapidly

·         This is a direct responsibility of  Governments at all levels

·         There are funded NGOs charged with this responsibility

 

Conclusion: this should no longer be a focus for the Arya Samaj today.

This issue is not relevant in western democracies

 

The middle class is at approx 80 % of the population.

 

There is no abject poverty of the masses

 

 

 

Conclusion: this should no longer be a focus for the Arya Samaj today.

(5)

Weak (non-existent) central government - the country was a collection of states ruled by Kings without central unity. The central influence was that of England.

 

Strong focus of the Arya Samaj 100 years ago

This issue is no longer relevant.

India is the largest democracy in the world with excellent strength in Central Government

 

Conclusion: this should no longer be a focus for the Arya Samaj today.

Not relevant outside of India

 

Conclusion: this should no longer be a focus for the Arya Samaj today.

(6)

Loss of Vedic Doctrinal Understanding (polytheism, animal sacrifice, human gods, etc)

 

Strong focus of the Arya Samaj

·         There is increased awareness of Vedic Doctrinal Concepts

·         However there is still rampant practices indicative of only a small degree of progress by the Arya Samaj in this area

·         Doctrinal Clarity and singularity of Belief System among Hindu Sects have not improved over the past 100 years

 

Conclusion: this should continue to be a focus of the Arya Samaj. In fact this needs to be a HIGH focus of the Arya Samaj

 

The same is true in regions of the Hindu World outside of India.

 

Conclusion: this should continue to be a focus of the Arya Samaj

 

(7)

Strong Christianization of the Hindu public

 

Strong focus of the Arya Samaj

·         This activity is still rampant within the borders of India

·         Christian evangelism and the Catholic Church have not reduced the expansionist agenda - rather it is increased and they have long since targeted the 800 million Hindus in India

·         Refer to the following resources

http://www.iblministries.com

 

The Toronto Star – daily newspaper. Click here – the new bible wears a bindi

 

Conclusion: this should continue to be a focus of the Arya Samaj. Progress in item (6) will yield progress in this area also.

 

While Christianity is a diminishing force within western democracies, it is expanding in regions such as Asia, Africa,  South America, Guyana etc.

 

Conclusion: this should continue to be a focus of the Arya Samaj

 

 

 

If as suggested above, the Social and Political Agenda of the Arya Samaj is put to an end, then what should be the initiatives of the Arya Samaj (Global Body and Local/Regional Mandirs)? How best should the Arya Samaj put its meager resources (collective financial, personnel, scholastic resources) to use?

 Global Initiatives: Let’s look at Items 6 and 7 above

a)      Global  Initiative: Educate, Educate, Educate – Item 6.

 

o   Books, Media ( TV, Internet, Video, Radio)

Why is education important? Can the average Arya Samajist locate a book in their personal library published by the Global Arya Samaj Organization within the last:

·         1 year?

·         2 years?

·         5 years?

·         7 years?

·         10 years?

I personally cannot and I consider myself an average member of the Arya Samaj Community.

Swami Dayananda attempted to put in place a new vision of Hinduism:

·         A religion of doctrine – thru the re-introduction of the Vedas

·         From this perspective, the Arya Samaj gets a D+ grade from this writer.

 See some additional inputs on education from Dr Vivek Arya - Guest comments on AST site - http://www.aryasamajtoday.com/Guest.aspx?Act=0. Note the urgency in his words.

b)      Global Initiative: Re-energize the Program of the Arya Samaj Missionaries – Item 6

 

o   How did the Arya Samaj get to the far lands outside of India? Thru the Vedic Missionaries Program 100 years ago.

o   This program is now almost defunct.

o   There has been a smattering of Vedic Priests from India to the US/Canada over the recent years. This almost always resulted in personnel who lack the personality/communication skills and doctrinal strength to influence the people

 

c)       Global Initiative: Promote and Centralize the Biographies of Specialists/Intellectuals within the World-wide Ranks of the Arya Samaj  – Item 6

 

o   Who are the specialists within the Global Arya Samaj Family? – for example: I am a local Samaj Leader and I wish to hold a 2 day seminar on the Upanishads. Who can I call? Who are the best that the Arya Samaj can provide me? What are their contact details? Is there a sample of their work? What have they published?

o   In the absence of this database, the Local Samaj Leadership invariably solicits a “less than scholarly person” to promote Vedicism and such teachings invariably are opposed to the Arya Samaj – much to the oblivion of the attending public.

o   Swami Dayananda would not be proud to see this sad state of the once glorious scholarship of the Arya Samaj 100 years ago.

o   This writer gives the Arya Samaj a solid grade F in this regard.

 

d)      Global Initiative: Work towards the removal of the perception that the Arya Samaj is another  “Hindu Sect”

 

o   When the Arya Samaj was being created 135 years ago, Swami Dayananda was concerned that the Arya Samaj would eventually become one of the many sects of Hinduism.

o   Look at us today. We struggle to define ourselves as Hindus.

o   There is chronic separation of the “Arya Samajist” individual and the “Hindu” individual. This is prevalent organizationally also.

o   Outside of the “death” of major international/local personalities, what are the items of “inter-organizational” programs?

o   Do the Scholars of the Arya Samaj pervasively “speak, promote learning” at Hindu Mandirs and functions?

o   Is the Arya Samaj pervasively preaching only to its own members? Is this what the Great Rishi envisioned?

o   When Swami Dayananda approved the creation of the Arya Samaj, he envisioned a growing, vibrant team of Scholars – doctrinally astute – to educate and doctrinally protect Hinduism, to engage the masses in re-kindling the knowledge of the Vedas and the ancient culture and value system of India.

o   This was indeed so for many years. We have now evolved to a doctrinally stagnant group of leadership/members, satisfied with “frequently singing and occasionally preaching to the choir” per se.

o   There is no coordinated reaching out to the larger Hindu population.

o   This is the meaning of “a sect” – click here for the meaning of the word sect.

o   Yes, the cardinal fear of Swami Dayananda has been realized for some time now.

 

What are some Local Initiatives of the Local/Regional Mandirs?

A Local Mandir serves the following needs of the Society:

·         A place to worship – a psychological requirement for every society

 

·         A social structure to meet and interact in a religious and culturally appropriate environment

 

·         A medium to express one’s self culturally and religiously – performance of Vedic rites, singing of bhajans, wearing cultural garments, consuming culturally and religiously appropriate meals

 

·         In so doing, a local Arya Samaj Mandir is a place to promote excellence and preserve standards in the presentation of Vedic rites, singing of geets/bhajans, display of garments/fashionable clothing, celebration of festivals and other festivities such as weddings, birthdays, wedding and death anniversaries.

 

·         A place to aggressively promote Vedic Learning beyond its core membership – in order to accelerate the transformation of its core/extended community members from a “Social Member of the Hindu Community” to a “Doctrinally Strong Member of the Hindu Community”

 

·         A doctrinally strong community is safer from Item 7 – the determined and pervasive expansionism of Christianity with the objective of Christianization of the 1 billion Hindus in the world. The Christians have not eased up on this objective. Arya Samaj should not go limp on this defense only a mere 135 years after it was given a direct mandate from the Great Rishi.

How is your local Mandir serving these needs?

 

Summary:

This Blog Entry promotes the idea that the Social and Political Agenda of the Arya Samaj needs to be silenced. It further indicates that the Arya Samaj while it was very impactful 100 years ago in these projects is now overshadowed by the progressive evolution of the World Stage – democracy, civil liberties, strong governments, human rights, rule of law, funded agencies ( govt and NGOs), WHO, UN.

If the Arya Samaj does not refocus on its core mission of Vedic Doctrinal Education, it will cease to be relevant in the next Generation.

Indeed, without a doctrinal core in the leadership of the Arya Samaj, the stage is set for the Arya Samaj to be swallowed up (made invisible) by the larger Hindu presence.

I encourage a discussion on this subject – please post a reply below.

 

Shruti Bhushan Prakash is a member of the Arya Samaj Community. He is the author of this Blog entry and his views do not necessarily represent the views of MDG NA Inc.

 

 

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