The Arya Samaj founded by Swami Dayanand Saraswati in 1875 undertook the task of reforming Hindu religion in North India. He considered Vedas to be infallible and the foundation of all knowledge. He rejected all those religious thoughts which were in conflict with the Vedas.
He believed that every person had the right to have direct access to God. It started the Shuddhi Movement to bring back those Hindus who had converted to Islam and Christianity. Satyarth Prakash was his most important book.
Arya Samaj advocated social reform and worked to improve the condition of women. It fought untouchability and the rigidities of the hereditary caste system and promoted social equality. The use of Hindi language in which he wrote and preached made his ideas accessible to the people of Northern India. Arya Samaj also had a major role to play in the national movement as it inculcated a spirit of self respect and self reliance among the people.
The role of Arya Samaj was commendable in promoting education among the masses. Some of Swami Dayanand’s followers later started a network of schools and colleges called D.A.V. (Dayanand Anglo Vedic) in the country to impart education on western lines without compromising on the Vedic teachings. They encouraged teaching of English and modern science along with Sanskrit and Vedic education.