On April 10th, 1875, the organisation called "Arya Samaj" was formally registered in Bombay (Mumbai), India. Arya Samaj, as the name signifies, is a Samaj (Organisation) of Aryas (people who are noble). Further clarified, the Arya Samaj is a Society of Noble People, who follow the Veda (the Word of God handed down to mankind in the begining) and try to behave in accordance with the teachings of the Veda.
The Arya Samaj was founded by Maharishi Swami Dayananda Saraswati, a sanyasin (renouncer) who believed in the infallible authority of the Vedas. He advocated the doctrine of karma and reincarnation, and emphasised the ideals of brahmacharya (chastity) and sanyasa (renunciation). The motto of the Arya Samaj taken from the Vedas is "Krinvanto Vishwam Aaryam" (Rig Veda 9.63.5) - Make all men Aarya (noble and cultured)." A similar echo from the Atharva Veda 2.13.4 states "Krinvantu vishwe deva". Another text quotes: "Aano Bradrh: Vishvam Aaryam" which means "Let noble thoughts come from all quarters." Hence, by being a part of a Noble Society (Arya Samaj), you enjoin with a commitment to becoming an Aarya (Noble Person), who gathers in religious assemblies to propagate the teachings of the Vedas so that you can ennoble (make noble) those who aren't noble - Making the Universe Noble.
Swami Dayananda rejected all non-Vedic beliefs altogether. Hence the Arya Samaj unequivocally condemns idolatry, animal sacrifices, ancestor worship, priestcraft, the caste system, the sati system for widows, inequality of women, untouchability and child marriages, on the grounds that all these lacked Vedic sanction. It aims to be a universal organisation based on the authority of the Vedas. The Arya Samaj has set up schools and missionary organisations, extending its activities outside India. It now has branches around the world.
Ten Principals of Arya Samaj:
1. God is the primary source of all true knowledge and of all that can be known through it.
2. God is Existent , Intelligent and Blissful. He is Formless, Almighty, just Merciful, Unborn, Infinite, Unchallengeable, Beginning less, Incomparable, the Support and Lord of all, Omniscient, Imperishable, Immortal, Fearless, Eternal, Holy and the Maker of the universe. To Him alone worship is due.
3. The Vedas are scriptures of true knowledge. It is the duty of all Aryas to read them, hear them being read and recite them to others.
4. We should always be ready to accept truth and give up untruth.
5. All actions should be performed in conformity with Dharma, that is, after due consideration of right and wrong.
6. The primary aim of the Arya Samaj is to do good for all, that is to promote their physical, spiritual and social well-being.
7. We should treat all people with love, fairness and due regards for their merit.
8. We should aim at dispelling ignorance and promoting knowledge.
9. One should not only be content with one's own welfare, but should look for it in the welfare of others also.
10. One should regard oneself under restriction to follow altruistic rulings of the society, while all should be free in following the rules of individual welfare.
The Arya Samaj is NOT a Religion. This society, was formed, not as a new religion, but as a coming together of noble minded people who believe in Vaidik Satya Sanatana Dharma (commonly called "Hinduism"). As was said by Maharishi Swami Dayanand: "I have not come to preach a new dogma or religion, nor to establish a new religious order, nor to be proclaimed a new messiah or pontiff. I have only brought before the people, the light of Vedic Wisdom which has been hidden during the centuries of India's thraldom."
Apart from purifying the untouchables and readmitting the converted into Hinduism, the Aryas were also active to achieve a few other objectives. They were supporters of women education and they established a girls` school, named the Arya Kanya Pathshala to provide education that is safe from missionary influence. They also founded the Kanya Ashram or women`s hostel. They further established the Kanya Mahavidyalaya on 14th June, 1896 to provide higher education to the women. This institution was established with inspiration from the success of Kanya Pathshala. Besides educating the women, the Aryas also actively supported the movement for widow remarriage. They launched societies to support such marriages and also to put these ideals into practice.