The First Principle
The Second Principle
The Third Principle
The Fourth Principle
The Fifth Principle
The Sixth Principle
The Seventh Principle
The Eighth Principle
The Ninth Principle
The Tenth Principle
THE FIRST PRINCIPLE OF THE ARYA SAMAJ
The first principle is:
‘God is the efficient cause of all true knowledge and all that is known through knowledge.’
This is the first principle out of the ten principles of the Arya Samaj movement. This principle throws light on the fact that all true knowledge and whatever is capable of being known through knowledge originates from God. For all doubtless knowledge concerning God and soul, other living beings and matter, the efficient cause is God and none else. This comprehensive knowledge known as the Vedas meaning knowledge (Rigved, Yajurved, Samved and Atharvaved) was enlightened by God in the souls (atma) of four sages, namely Agni, Vayu, Adittya and Angira.
In the words of the great Manu, “All knowledge emerges from the Vedas and the Vedas are full of knowledge.”
Sarvesham tu sa nama ni karmani va prithak prithak.
Ved shabdebhya yevadau prithak sansthashch nirmame.
Meaning:- The names of all the materials and their various purposes have been formulated from the Vedas since the beginning of creation.
The meaning of ‘Ved’ is true knowledge. God is the efficient cause of this knowledge because human beings have limited knowledge and this leads them into doubt, untruth, miseries and other problems.
Just as God gave the human body five senses namely eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin, similarly He gave the knowledge of the Vedas to us so that we are able to use our senses in the right manner. After knowing that great God, the whole creation can be known and there is nothing else to be known.
The objective of the second portion of the first principle, “all that is known through knowledge” is to say that whatever is visible or not visible, from the sun to the earth, is all created and operated by God.
To follow the first principle, the followers of the Vedas must think about the principles of the world and have full faith that God is the creator of the world.
This first principle is the foundation of the other nine principles. This is why it has been placed first. It is the paramount duty of every noble person to think about this principle and having firm faith in God, build one’s life according to His instructions.
THE SECOND PRINCIPLE OF THE ARYA SAMAJ
In the first principle of Arya Samaj it has been explained that, “God is the efficient cause of all true knowledge and all that is known through knowledge.” It is God who gives the true knowledge to the world. He is the efficient cause of all true knowledge and what ever is known through knowledge. Without His enlightenment human beings would be lost into darkness of ignorance.
The second principle of the Arya Samaj is very much related to the first principle. In this principle the attributes of God are explained very well in a broader sense.
The second principle is :-
‘God is existent, conscious, and blissful. He is formless, omnipotent, just, merciful, unborn, endless, unchangeable, beginningless, unequalled, the support of all, the master of all, omnipresent, omniscient, unaging, immortal, fearless, eternal, and holy, and the maker of all. He alone is worthy of being worshipped.’
According to the Vedic philosophy there are three beginningless entities - God, Soul and Matter. God exists, is conscious and blissful. No intelligent person can reject the existence of God. God has been there ever since and will remain to do so. He is truth, has limitless storehouse of knowledge and the souls receive their knowledge from Him. He is the preceptor of the ancient saints, sages and rishis (seers). Time has no influence on God.
According to the Vedas God is formless, meaning He does not have physical form i.e. He does not have a body like us. To govern the whole world, God has to be present everywhere at all times. This would be impossible if He takes a physical body because a person having such a body can only be at a certain place at one time. Further, this will reduce the all-powerful God to one having very limited power. If God takes a physical form then He has to undergo the process of reproduction like the humans. He has to go through childhood, teenage, youth, adulthood, old age and then death. If He has a body, He will be affected by sicknesses, diseases, hunger, thirst, tiredness, natural disasters such as hurricane and floods. He can even be injured and killed. Anybody having a physical body has to face these challenges in life. Thus, if God is occupied in His own problems, how can He be of service to us? The truth is that God is totally free from the bonds of the world. This is only possible if He is not confined to a physical body.
God is omnipotent, meaning He is all-powerful. He is the Lord of all the powers, but this does not mean that He can do anything that He wants to do. God also has a set of principles for Himself that He has to follow. On this subject, give a thought to what Swami Dayanand writes. He writes, “Is it so that the one who can do the impossible, is known as A/mighty?” So without a reason can God create another God and Himself perish, be unjust, impure, sinner, evil doer etc? The natural laws such as fire has heat and water has coolness cannot be altered by God. God cannot make fire produce coolness or the water produce heat. If He does so then the question is why did He change? Did He make an error before and is trying to correct it? If He does that then it means that God is not perfect. So in very simple terms Almighty means that God is capable of doing all His work Himself, without the help of anyone.
God is just because He gives the fruits of our good and evil actions. For the good deeds He rewards us and for the evil and wrongful actions He punishes us. This is His justice. The word just also means that whatever the souls are rewarded or punished for is the result of their own actions. The Vedic principle says ‘As you sow so shall you reap’ which means, as one shall do so shall one pay.
God is merciful and compassionate. Every soul in the world is worthy of His mercy. Merciful does not mean that God forgives our sins. If we accept the fact that God forgives one’s sins, then we cannot accept Him as being fair. Say for example a person hurts someone and then asks God for His forgiveness and He forgives. Now the person who was hurt expects justice from God, in other words the person would like the wrong doer to be punished. When God forgives a wrong doer, then God is not doing justice. He has not done justice either to the wrong doer or the victim. To be fair, God has to give the results of all the actions either good or evil. This should satisfy both the parties, the one who hurt somebody and the one who was hurt. Merciful simply means that God gives out the results to the souls for their actions accordingly, so that it can do spiritual upliftment and progress in life.
The question arises how can these two qualities namely kindness and justice exist in God at the same time? The words of Swami Dayanand Saraswati in this regard are worth noting. “There is only subtle difference between the two words because the end result of both is the same. The reason for punishment is that a person is stopped from doing wrong and thus prevent himself/herself from further suffering. This is called kindness, namely removing the suffering of others. A person should be punished according to the seriousness of the offence. If the offender is not punished then kindness is destroyed, because by setting free a wrong doer, thousands of innocent people will suffer at the hands of the wrong doer. By putting him/her into prison etc., the wrong doer is being deterred from further wrong doings or sinful activities; thereby kindness is also bestowed upon thousands of people.”
A doctor treats the illness of a patient by giving him/her more pain such as operations etc. It is not possible for the doctor to remedy the problem without giving pain to the patient. Although anesthetics are used during the treatment, in the latter stages the pain is still experienced. Similarly God removes our evils through punishment. Forgiveness encourages a person to repeat the sins. This act of God namely giving out the results to the individuals for their actions is a very kind gesture.
God is unborn. He has been there ever since and will remain to do so. Just because He is never born, He is endless, unchangeable, beginningless and unequalled. There is no limit to His greatness and powers. There are no faults in Him. God is the support of all the creatures from the tiniest to the largest. All depend on God. God is omnipresent. He is present everywhere, in each atom and also resides in the hearts of all. He is unaging meaning, He never gets old. He is immortal i.e. He never dies. He is fearless that is He is steadfast in His principles and is not afraid of anything or anyone. He is eternal that is He is everlasting. God is Holy and the Creator of all. He is the Creator, Operator and Destroyer of the world.
That is why we all should try our best to worship and meditate to God. We should assimilate His attributes of truth, justice, strength and other qualities in our lives and make the present and the future life a prosperous one.
THE THIRD PRINCIPLE OF THE ARYA SAMAJ
The third principle is:
‘The Vedas are the scriptures of all true knowledge. It is the paramount duty of all Aryas to read them, teach them, recite them and hear them being read.’
After throwing light on the attributes of God in the second principle, Swami Dayanand portrays the greatness of the Vedas, in the third principle. The message of the Vedas is given to the entire human race for their benefit by God at the beginning of the human creation. The knowledge expressed in the Vedas are all true facts, which means this knowledge never changes. The Vedas are the source of all true knowledge of the world namely, God, soul, matter, science, mathematics, biology, sociology, mechanical etc. There is no history in the Vedas. The Vedas direct us to worship only one God.
In fact the Vedas contain all the knowledge for human existence, upliftment and salvation.
THERE ARE FOUR BENEFITS OF STUDYING THE VEDAS:-
o True knowledge is obtained.
o One becomes a learned person.
o Those who practice the teachings of the Vedas achieve happiness in life.
o One is able to differentiate the truth from untruth.
All true knowledge in the world is obtained from the Vedas. So it is necessary that one studies and teaches the Vedas to others, listens and makes others listen to the Vedas being read and practices and makes others practice the teachings of the Vedas in life.
THE FOURTH PRINCIPLE OF THE ARYA SAMAJ
In the first three principles of Arya Samaj, the source of all of true knowledge, the attributes of God and the significance of the Vedas have been highlighted. Now in the fourth principle, emphasis has been placed on the purity of behaviour and the purity of individual life.
The fourth principle is:
‘One should always be ready to accept truth and renounce untruth.’
It is the duty of every person to remain firm on truth and even be prepared to give one’s life for truth. The question arises, what is truth and what is untruth? What is the basis of truth and untruth? The answer is very simple. ‘To know, believe and follow in thought, word and deed a thing as it really is and has been proved to be so scientifically on the basis of observation, reasoning and authority, is known as Truth.’ For example, someone says that the sun rises from the west and sets in the east and the sun rotates around the earth. Because these statements are against the law of nature and also contrary to the Vedic principles, they cannot be regarded as true.
We should have the power of accepting the truth in our hearts. For this to happen, one’s thoughts, words and actions should be the same. In other words, whatever we have in the mind, we should speak the same and act accordingly. The great philosophers have also stated the difference between the good and evil saying:- A person whose thoughts, words and actions differ from one another is regarded as an evil soul and a person whose thoughts, words and actions are same is regarded as a great soul.
Truth remains the same everywhere, for example two plus two equals four. This truth remains true at all times, the past, present and the future and is accepted by all types of people. Similarly truth in respect of all matters are also accepted everywhere. One must accept truth from wherever it is available. One should never try to undermine truth.
This principle also teaches us that we should not be stubborn and argue unnecessarily. Just as we should be ready to accept the truth, we should be ready to give up untruth. One should not think that irrespective of whether it is true or false, one’s idea is correct. Even if a child proves with reasoning that one is wrong, then one must accept one’s mistake without hesitation. The one who longs for truth should be also humble.
THE FIFTH PRINCIPLE OF THE ARYA SAMAJ
The fifth principle is: -
‘All acts should be performed in accordance with Dharm (righteousness) that is after deliberating what is right and wrong.’
The noble people i.e. those persons who have good personality, righteousness, are benevolent and devoted to truth have always regarded righteousness as paramount in all their activities. In ‘Gita’ It is clearly stated that destroyer of the righteousness is also destroyed and whoever protects righteousness is also protected by righteousness. The Vedas and other philosophical texts give supremacy to righteousness. One of the sages has even stated that it is righteousness only that differentiates the human beings from animals. The qualities of eating, sleeping, being fearful and reproduction are found to be similar both in humans and in animals. A person who has a righteous conduct is regarded as a human being and one who does not have such conduct is regarded as an animal.
A question arises in the mind as to what is a righteous path and what is not? The righteous path is the one through which one achieves happiness both materially and spiritually in this world as well as in the next life and until salvation. In Manusmriti Manu Maharaj has stated that people are kept under control, taken care of and protected by righteousness. Righteousness is of such importance. This is why one should do everything according to righteousness. In every deed of ours righteousness must be paramount. Truth and untruth are very much connected to righteousness. Righteousness is that which is able to distinguish between truth and untruth. Righteousness has only truth in it. The fifth principle of Arya Samaj has been formulated so that the people do not become followers of blind faith. Their behaviour should not be like that of sheep, which follow each other without thinking.
The following story very clearly explains what is meant by blind faith. Once a saint left for pilgrimage. Seeing a very big crowd at the place of pilgrimage, he concealed his container that he was carrying, in the soil and for identification purposes he made a little soil mound on top of it. He then left. The people following the saint did not see the saint putting the container under the soil. They only saw him making the mound. They wondered why the saint had done this? There must be secret in this. They did not ask the saint for an explanation.
What next? They also started making soil mounds all over the place and this act was copied by whoever came by. When the saint returned to the place where he had concealed his container, to his surprise he saw many soil mounds all over the place. His container was lost amongst so many mounds. Then with regret he said “The people are like the sheep, they do things by just copying others and not trying to find out the truth.”
The lesson from this story is that every right thinking person must leave the attitude of doing things without thinking but rather, doing things after knowing what is true and untrue. The Vedas are the source of all true knowledge and everyone should try to follow the teachings of the Vedas.
THE SIXTH PRINCIPLE OF THE ARYA SAMAJ
In the first five principles of Arya Samaj the teachings in respect of the source of all true knowledge, the attributes of God, the significance of the Vedas, following the path of truth and righteousness, have been covered. When a person assimilates these principles in one’s life or a society starts to put them into practice, then one is capable of doing good to the world. That is why the sixth principle of Arya Samaj states:
‘The prime object of the Arya Samaj is to do good to the world, that is, to promote physical, spiritual and social good of everyone.’
All organizations and societies established in this world have certain aims and objectives. Most organizations are established for the progress of their own people only. Thus the whole world can not benefit from such organizations. They work within a very limited area. However Swami Dayanand established an organization, the objective of which is the general welfare of the world. This is a great objective. The question is, how can this objective be achieved? What is the meaning of welfare?
Swami Dayanand has very clearly answered this in the second part of the sixth principle. Welfare means physical, spiritual and social development of all. A person who wants to do good to the world has to first be physically healthy and strong. A sick person cannot even take care of oneself, leave alone the world. Good health is a basic requirement to the fulfillment of righteousness, wealth, desires and salvation. That is why wise people give first attention to physical fitness. An unfit person provides no hope for a society or a country. Physical fitness is one of the means to the achievement of the four aims of life, namely righteousness, wealth, desires and salvation. That is why it is our first duty to keep the body fit through exercise etc. Every part of the body should be developed into strong and healthy condition so that one can put it to use for at least a hundred years.
After the physical development, the spiritual development has to be taken care of. Only physical development is not enough, one has to give attention towards spiritual development as well. Just as exercise, beneficial food, good medicine etc. are necessary for the body, similarly study of good scriptures, penance, worship of God, good company etc. are necessary for the strength of the soul. The real nature of the soul is pure but once it gets attached to the worldly pleasures and to the material world it becomes impure. It takes a lot of effort and non-attachment to remove the impurity. That is why it is necessary to develop the body together with the soul.
After physical and spiritual development it is then necessary to develop the society. It is not sufficient to progress oneself only, rather it is our duty to develop the entire society. Through unity, togetherness and by helping others we can help the society to progress. Those who desire to progress themselves only become selfish. One has the responsibility of taking care of the neighbours as well. At times one has to even give one’s life for the protection and upliftment of the nation and its people. Every citizen should be ready to do so.
For social progress we must remove the feelings of privileged and underprivileged, rich and poor etc. and move forward having love for all in the heart. The Vedas very clearly state that we must see each other with a friendly eye. Therefore while developing physically, spiritually and socially, every person should devote his/her life to the service of the world. This is the objective of the sixth principle.
THE SEVENTH PRINCIPLE OF THE ARYA SAMAJ
Now the question arises that while doing service to the world, how should we interact with each other? Such a question arises because in this vast world there are good people as well as evil ones. There are religious saints as well as sinners and wrong doers. That is why the seventh principle of the Arya Samaj has been formulated, which is as follows:
‘Our conduct towards all should be guided by love, righteousness and justice.’
Firstly, being humans it is our duty to interact with each other with love and care. One should not speak harsh words, should not create the feelings of high class and low class and should never hate anyone. If we have enmity with others then they are also likely to have enmity with us. Every living being wants happiness. Nobody likes pain and grief. For this reason we should never give pain and grief to others. But this does not mean that we should engage in flattery or be cheated through temptation. For example some people are lured by astrologers and lose their riches into the hands of the astrologers. The astrologers lure them into believing that the problems we have are due to the stars and the planets getting angry on us. They say that the only way to overcome these problems is to offer certain items that will please the stars and the planets. In doing so, the people are robbed off their wealth by these con-men. The fact is that the stars and planets are lifeless objects.
The second message in the seventh principle is that our interaction with others must be according to righteousness.
One should only put into practice whatever is right according to the Vedas or the wise people and is full of logic and is practical. By following the righteous path one achieves happiness. However if one follows non-righteous path one suffers only pain and grief. It is only proper that we keep this principle in mind when dealing with others. But this does not mean that we treat all, young and adult, good and evil in the same way. That is why in this principle the third message is that our behaviour towards others should be as they deserve. This means that one must see if the person is junior or senior, learned or foolish, good or evil and then treat them accordingly. To punish the evil people or wrong doers is the duty of the ruler. In this way the good people can be protected. It is only proper to punish an evil person or wrong doer through firm action. Although every person in the kingdom is equal in the eyes of the ruler, it is his/her responsibility to do justice and punish the evil people and wrong doers. Similarly while maintaining a loving relationship amongst all the family members one has to treat each one young and old according to what they deserve. We must remember this seventh principle in our day to day life.
THE EIGHTH PRINCIPLE OF THE ARYA SAMAJ
How one should behave with others while living in this world has been explained in the seventh principle. Looking at the eighth principle Swami Dayanand draws our attention towards the propagation of knowledge. He states:
“We should dispel “avidya” = ignorance and promote “vidya” = knowledge.”
Wrong knowledge, false information or understanding is known as ignorance. There are four types of ignorance. Firstly, believing impermanent and perishable items to be everlasting. Secondly, having the feeling of purity in impure things. Thirdly, having the feeling of pleasure in materials which cause pain and grief and finally believing that life exists in inanimate objects.
In worldly terms there are two types of ignorance, one concerning the present life and the other concerning the next life. The first refers to not knowing the correct behavioural norms of the society in the present world or having the wrong knowledge of this. For example not trying to uplift the family life (grihasth ashram), which is paramount in the four stages of life or trying to degrade the family life, suffering from believing in blind faith such as ghosts, witchcraft, superstition, being attached to baseless social beliefs such as untouchability, caste system, dowry system, not being engaged in study, good company or righteous path, rather being involved with bad company, are various types of ignorance which fall in the first category.
Ignorance concerning the next life means: - not following the path of righteousness and not believing in God in the present life, regarding the present life as everything and following the path of drink, dine, dance and be merry and believing that nothing is above materialism and putting all these beliefs into practice. Such people, only engage themselves in fulfillment of their selfish motives without knowing what to do and what not to do, what is righteousness and what is not, what is truth and what is untruth etc. One may say I will always remain the same, the house, car, wife, husband, children etc. will go with me to the next life, I am the most intelligent person and there is no limit to my powers. Having such thoughts is ignorance. A wise person always tries to overcome any such ignorance.
One should not be satisfied by the fact that he/she has overcome ignorance and hence one’s duty is over. One should also make an effort to propagate true knowledge so that others may overcome ignorance as well. In his commentary on the Yajurved, in particular reference to verse 1:6 of Yajurved, Swami Dayanand has stated very clearly that “After studying all types of knowledge, it must be preached in all places.”
Knowledge and science have no limits. True knowledge is a precious possession and it cannot be stolen by anyone. Passing knowledge to others increases one’s own knowledge.
Therefore, it is the duty of noble and learned persons to ensure that everyone around them receives proper education and knowledge. This has to be so because ignorance is the root cause of all pain and grief in the world. So one should always be ready to dispel ignorance and propagate knowledge.
THE NINTH PRINCIPLE OF THE ARYA SAMAJ
After stating in the eighth principle about propagation of knowledge and dispelling of ignorance, Swami Dayanand draws our attention towards social progress. He states:
“No one should be content with promoting his/her good only; on the contrary, one should look for his/her good in promoting the good of all.”
Personal progress only is not sufficient to ensure the progress of the whole society. Developing only oneself shows that one is selfish. A nation only progresses if everyone in the society makes progress. Noble and benevolent people devote their lives for welfare of all.
Everything in this world is in motion. Even if one atom becomes motionless then there will be scenes of destruction. Every material undergoes two types of motion, breakdown or development. The same rule applies to the society as well. Therefore, a society that wants to be happy and live with prestige must always be willing to move forward in life. The Vedas state, “Charaiveti charaiveti” meaning, “Move on, move on.”
However if only few people make progress then this is not good enough. The progress of all is the ideal progress. If there is only one powerful person in a community and the rest are weak, then such a person is most likely to cause harm to others. Unity is strength.
One of the causes of downfall of India was that the Brahmans thought that they were the only ones entitled to study and teach the Vedas. The women and the shudras (people who were regarded as low class by the Brahmans) were not allowed to read them. What ever the Brahmans said was to be regarded as true. Due to this the propagation of the Vedas came to a stand still.
In the Vedas God states, “Yathemam vacham kalyani mavadani janebhyah,” meaning, “I am giving the word of Vedas for the welfare of all.” Just because of few selfish people, the progress of the nation came to a standstill. Therefore after knowing the essence of this principle, we must all see that everybody is progressing.
THE TENTH PRINCIPLE OF THE ARYA SAMAJ
The tenth principle of the Arya Samaj is in regards to social progress. Swami Dayanand states the tenth and the last principle as follows: -
“One should regard oneself under restriction to follow the rules of society calculated to promote the well being of all, while in following the rules of individual welfare all should be free.”
This principle emphasizes that every person irrespective of his/her belief must follow the rules formulated for the good of the society. However in so far as rules concerning one’s personal good he or she is free to follow whatever is beneficial and has no harmful effects.
In this principle the limits of freedom and restriction of the actions of the people have been laid out. It is very difficult to say which actions one is free to do as an individual and actions in which one is bound by the rules of the society. Therefore for the social good of everyone well tested principles for freedom and restriction of actions have been formulated.
Bathing is important for a person. If one chooses not to have a bath then one has freedom of such choice. However by not having a bath, one is doing harm to oneself as well others around him or her through unpleasant smell. Similar principles apply to eating, drinking and other personal habits. Therefore before taking any action one has to think carefully whether such action is beneficial to him/her and how it may affect the wider society. For this reason one has to follow the rules calculated for the welfare of all, even though one may not like it. There is no freedom of choice individually, when a society is involved. In practical terms such a rule is beneficial. If it is not followed, there will be misconduct in the society.
Actions of a person which may tarnish the reputation of a society, religion etc. are not to be carried out. Similarly those actions which are beneficial to an individual only but are harmful to many and not in favour of the country and its people, are not to be practised. For example, a person uses an organisation’s money for personal use. Although that person benefits through this wrongful action for a short while, the members of the organisation and others suffer.
Therefore, one must leave ignorance, find what is true and what is untrue and knowing the importance of this principle, practise it strictly in life.
Adapted from ‘Dharmic Shiksha (Vedic Religious Knowledge) – Form Five’, Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji, 2001.
Copyright: Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji