Dayananda Saraswati (Swamiji) expounded the Vedanta Philosophy and is the renowned founder of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam. Oover five decades Swamiji taught Advaita Vedanta in India and other different nations of the world. Swamiji, a great Sanskrit scholar was revered as a monk (sadhu) of the Hindu monastic order.
Swamiji’s art of reaching out to people of both traditional and modern thought gained him immense popularity. His mode of teaching was unusual as he assimilated Vedantic thoughts with the contemporary milieu to provide subtle, yet divine, resolutions to his disciples.
Birth and Early life
Swami Dayananda Saraswati was born as Natarajan to Shri. Gopala Iyer (father) and Smt. Valambal (mother) on August 15, 1930. He was born at Manjakkudi, Thiruvarur District, in Tamil Nadu.
Natarajan lost his father at the tender age of eight. Since Natarajan was the eldest of the four brothers, he had to shoulder the responsibility of running their household. Hence, along with studying, he started working for earning a livelihood. After completion of his education, he left for Chennai and started working as a journalist at Dharmika Hindu, owned by T. K. Jagannathacharya. Later, he also joined the erstwhile Volkart Brothers, currently called Voltas Limited. In fact, Natarajan also aspired to become a fighter pilot and joined the Indian Air Force, but being unable to cope with the strict regimen he left the training within six months of joining.
Initiation into Spiritual Life and Joining The Chinmaya Mission
In the year 1952-53, Natarajan got introduced to Vedanta Philosophy after regularly attending the discourses of Swami Chinmayananda. Gradually, he became an active volunteer at the Chinmaya Mission and also became its Secretary within the first year of his joining. Here, he also got the opportunity to learn Sanskrit under the guidance of P.S. Subramania Iyer. Meanwhile, Natarajan also fulfilled the dream of Swami Chinmayananda of setting up the Mission’s branch at Madurai. When Natarajan accompanied Swami Chinmayananda to Uttarakasi for accomplishing a special task of preparing Gita manuscripts, Natarajan met Swami Tapovan Maharaj who asked him to stay back at Uttarakasi and meditate upon god for spiritual g upliftment of his own soul. However, Natarajan left Uttarakasi promising Swami Tapovan Maharaj that he would definitely return after a year.
After returning to Madras, he took up the editorship of Chinmaya Mission’s fortnightly magazine Tyagi. In the year 1956, Natarajan shifted his base to Bangalore and the office of Tyagi also moved to Bangalore. Here, he also got the opportunity of studying at Sanskrit College in Chamrajpet and making one on one discourse with Prof. Veeraraghavachariar. With the permission of Swami Chinmayananda, Natarajan also started taking special classes under Swami Pranavananda at Gudivada. Natarajan’s Vedantic wisdom reached zenith from here as Swami Pranavananda helped him strengthen his basic understandings of the scriptures. Pranavananda taught him how, rather than a ‘System’, Vedanta is more of a ‘Pramana’ or ‘Means of knowledge’ which helps one identify the truth of the Self.
Natarajan’s interactions with Swami Pranavananda changed his views on Vedantic studies and he went on restudying the Shastras with Shankara’s commentaries after which there was no looking back for him.
What followed in the succeeding years is mentioned chronologically in a pointwise manner –
1962 – He took Sannyasa from Swami Chinmayananda who gave him the name Swami Dayananda Saraswati.
1963 – He took up editorship of Chinmaya Mission’s Tapovan Prasad magazine at the mission’s newly inaugurated Sandeepany Sadhanalaya. At Sandeepany, he also taught chanting Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita
slokas to the students.
1963 – He went on a study-tour at Rishikesh and spent three years studying Brahma Sutras under Swami Tarananda Giri at the Kailash Ashram.
1967 – At the request of the Chinmaya Mission authorities, he took up the task of delivering lectures and conducting public talks owing to the deteriorating health of Swami Chinmayananda.
1967-1970 – He went on a spiritual mission across India for disseminating the tradition of Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita.
1971 – He planned and conducted a long-term study program on Vedanta at Sandeepany Sadhanalaya.
1972-1979 – He successfully completed two three-year residential Vedanta programs.
1979 – A three-year study program conducted and completed successfully at Sandeepany West, in Piercy, California.
1982 – He came back to India and started disseminating the Upanishadic teaching and values through various spiritual lectures and discourses.
1986 – He founded Arsha Vidya Gurukulam at Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania in the U.S. and also successfully completed teaching a three-year residential course.
23rd September 2015- Attained Samadi
Arsha Vidya Gurukulam Centers
Swami Dayananda first founded the four main Arsha Vidya Gurukulam centers and then many more across the world in order to spread the teachings of Vedanta, Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Brahma Sutras and also to spread the awareness of Sanskrit as the prime Hindu language. All his institutes are better known as ‘Arsha Vidya’ or ‘Arsha Vijnana’, i.e. ‘Knowledge of the Rishis’.
The four prime ‘Arsha Vidya’ centers established by Swami Dayananda Saraswati are –
- Arsha Vidya Peetam, Swami Dayananda Ashram, Rishikesh 249201, Uttaranchal, India
- Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Saylorsburg, P.O. Box 1059, PA 18353, U.S.A
- Arsha Vijnana Gurukulam, Amaravathi Road, Nagpur, Maharashtra, 410 033, India
- Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Anaikatti, Coimbatore – 641108, Tamil Nadu, India
People from all walks of life are welcome to study at Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, irrespective of their caste, creed, religion, nationality etc. Currently, along with the above four centers there are sixty other centers in India and abroad that conduct Vedantic courses under the flagship of Arsha Vidya.
Other philanthropic initiatives taken by Swami Dayananda Saraswati that today stand as successful organizations are as follows –
All India Movement for Seva (AIM for Seva) – For rural healthcare and child education
Contributions to Global Spiritual Harmony – For understanding religious and spiritual pursuits
Inter-Religious Dialogue – For strengthening harmony between different religions
Restoration of Temple Practices and Worship – For preserving age-old ancient culture, and spiritual and religious practices of India.
Centers of learning of Vedas – For saving and preserving Indian Scriptures like Vedas and Agamas from their near extinction.
List of Books Authored by Swami Dayananda –
o Action and Reaction
o Bhagavadgita Home Study (His magnum opus running into 3000 pages, now in 4th Edition)
o Can We? (Essays: 6)
o Conversion Is Violence
o Crisis Management
o Danam (Essays: 4)
o Dialogues With Swami Dayananda
o Discourses on Important Topics
o Discovering Love
o Do all Religions have the same goal? (Essays: 1)
o Eight Significant Verses of Bhagavad Gita
o Exploring Vedanta (Sraddha- Bhakti-dhyana-yogad avaihi & Atmanam ced vijaniyat)
o Freedom from Sadness
o Friendship (The Essence of Vedic Marriage)
o Gurupurnima (Essays: 3)
o In the Vision of Vedanta
o Introduction to Vedanta – Understanding The Fundamental Problem
o Knowledge and Action – The Two Fold Commitment
o Living Intelligently
o Living Versus Getting On
o Mahavakya Vichara
o Mandukya Upanishad
o Moments with Krishna (Essays: 7)
o Morning Meditation Prayers
o Mundakopanisad – (2 Vol. Set) Bhasya and Tika unfolded
o Need for Cognitive Change
o Need for Personal Reorganisation
o Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
o Personal Re-engineering in Management
o Personnel Management
o Prayer Guide
o Problem Is You, The Solution Is You, The
o Public Talks-2: Discovering Love & Successful Living
o Purnamadah Purnamidam
o Purpose of Prayer, The
o Satyam and Mithya
o Sri Rudram
o Stressfree Living
o Successful Living
o Surrender and Freedom
o Talks and Essays (Vol.I)
o Talks and Essays (Vol.II) of
o Talks on “Who Am I ?”
o Talks on Meditation
o Talks on Sri Rudram
o Teaching of the Bhagavad Gita, The
o Teaching Tradition of Advaita Vedanta
o Ten Essential Verses of Bhagavad Gita
o Understanding Between Parents and Children
o Value of Values, The
o Vedanta 24 x 7
o Vedic View and Way of Life
o Visnusahasranama (with translation and commentary)
o Vivekacudamani (Talks on 108 Selected Verses)
o Wedding Ceremony Based on Hindu Concepts
o What is Meditation? Meditation Series: 2
o What You Love Is The Pleased Self
o Yoga of Objectivity
o You Are the Whole
Arsha Vidya Gurukulam
Anaikatti P.O., Coimbatore
Tamil Nadu 641 108, India.
Phone: 91-422-2657001, 91-9442646701 (Reception)
Manager: 91-9442646702 (Sri Sairam – Manager)