The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

The Arya Samaj in Colonial North India

This lecture series is presented by Dr. Richa Raj, Assistant Professor, Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi. Read more about her research here.


Part 1: Founding of the Arya Samaj and its Beliefs

About the lecture

Arising during a tumultuous period in the history of colonial India, the Arya Samaj was an important social and religious reform movement that, although originating in Northern India, had profound impact in the social, religious, and political functioning of the entire sub-continent in the 19th and 20th centuries. 

In this segment, Dr. Richa Raj talks about the origins of the movement under its founder and most impactful leader, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, and the various tenets, aims, and ideals, that this belief propagated among its followers. While doing so, Dr. Raj also establishes a firm geographical context in which Arya Samaj continued to disseminate and flourish throughout these centuries. 


Part 2: Organization of the Arya Samaj

About the lecture

Taking the discussion further on the Arya Samaj as an emerging and nascent religious order in the 19th century, Dr. Raj focuses on the organization itself in this lecture. Focusing on the various sabhas, or assemblies that became a part of the functioning of the religion, she comments on how a democratized set up was ensured by Swami Dayanand Saraswati. More than being set up for controlling various Samaj bodies scattered across the country, these sabhas or assemblies were also responsible for dissemination of Vedic and religious knowledge, philanthropy, and other such activities. 


Part 3: Impact of the Arya Samaj

About the lecture

In this segment, Dr. Richa Raj encapsulates the varied socio-political impact that the Arya Samaj had during a period of colonial oppression in the late 19th century. With it’s radical, revivalist, and at the same time modernist ideology which focused not only on the emancipation of the most underprivileged sections of the society but also supported and established institutions for the education of women, Arya Samaj also had profound impact in rejuvenating a spirit of self-help and self-reliance among the masses in colonial North India. 

Although there exist—and rightly so—various strands of debates in the nature and magnitude of these ventures of the Samaj, Dr Raj strives to provide a objective account of the same.