An Arya is any person who believes in and worships the one true
God, who lives according to the teachings of the Vedas, who follows
the dictates of Dharma, and who strives to spread the Light of Truth
to all people. Being an Arya is a spiritual and moral condition of an
individual, and is in no way determined by external factors such as
race or nationality. An Arya is a person who is, above all else,
devoted to Truth.
An Arya worships and communes with the one true God daily
through the performance of Sandhya and Agnihotra and lives according
to the 10 Principles of Dharma (righteousness), namely: steadfastness
(dritih), tolerance (kshamaa), contentment (damah), non-covetousness
(asteyam), cleanliness (showcham), restraint of the senses (indriya
nigrahah), practice (dheeh), knowledge (vidyaa), truth (satyam) and
benevolence (akrodhah). An Arya does not consume meat, use intoxicants
or recreational drugs of any kind, or indulge in sex outside of
God Soul And Nature
According to Vaidika Dharma, God (OM), the Soul (Purusha) and
Nature (Prakriti) are the 3 Eternal Noumena, meaning that they have
always existed and will forever continue to exist. Though later
thinkers developed a number of varying metaphysical positions, the
philosophy of the Vedas, the original Divine Revelation, clearly
posits the beginningless existence of God, the Soul and Nature - an
eternal truth that has come to be referred to as Traita or Traitavada,
meaning the 'Wisdom of the Three'.
However, though God, the Soul and Nature are three distinct
entities, they are at no time completely separate from one another.
The relationship between God and Creation is that between the Pervader
and that which is pervaded, respectively. God fills and pervades every
corner of existence, including the eternal Soul of man.
The relationship between God and man, therefore, is more
intimate than any other relationship an individual shall ever
experience. Indeed, God knows all our thoughts and desires, our hopes
and dreams, our fears and worries. He is our Eternal Father, our
Highest Master, our True Friend, Teacher and Guide in one.
The Purusharthas (पुरुषार्थ): The Ends of Noble Society
The Purusharthas are the goals of earthly life. It is towards
these ends that any noble society strives. They are four in number:
- Dharma or Duty: This is the state in which one's
actions, serving the good of all, are in accordance with one's own
nature. Thus, to practice Dharma is to establish congruence and
harmony between one's inner and outer life.
Swami Dayanand on Dharma: "The practice of
equitable justice together with that of truthfulness in word, deed
and thought and the like (virtues) - in a word, that which is in
conformity with the Will of God, as embodied in the Vedas - even
that I call Dharma (righteousness). But the practice of that which
is not free from partiality and injustice as well as of
untruthfulness in word, deed and thought, - in a word, that which is
opposed to the Will of God, as embodied in the Vedas - even that I
term Adharma (unrighteousness)." (Satyarth Prakash 726) Dharma is
the fundament of the Purusharthas, for without it, none of the others
can be attained with righteousness. And a good attained without
righteousness is paramount to a positive evil.
- Artha or Wealth: This is the attainment of wealth in
any form (material or spiritual) through righteous means and the
avoidance of goods gained through ignoble means.
Swami Dayanand on Artha: "Righteously
acquired wealth alone constitutes Artha, while that which is
acquired by foul means is called Anarth." (Satyarth Prakash 728)
- Kaama or Enjoyment: This is the attainment of
satisfaction of one's noble and righteous desires and the pleasure
Swami Dayanand on Kaama: "The enjoyment of
legitimate desires with the help of honestly-acquired wealth (Artha)
constitutes Kaama." (Satyarth Prakash 728)
- Moksha or Salvation: This is the attainment of freedom
from the bonds of ignorance and its result, pain.
Swami Dayanand on Moksha: "The emancipation
of the soul from pain and suffering of every description and a
subsequent career of freedom in the All-pervading God and His
immense Creation for a fixed period of time and its resumption of
earthly life after the expiration of that period constitute Moksha
or salvation. The means of salvation are the worship of God, i.e.,
the practice of yoga, the performance of righteous deeds, the
acquisition of true knowledge by the practice of Brahmacharya, the
society of the wise and the learned, love of true knowledge, purity
of thought, a life of activity and so on." (Satyarth Prakash 727)
Just as Dharma is the foundation of the Purusharthas, so, too,
is Moksha the pinnacle of the same. To attain Moksha is to reach
life's ultimate goal, which goes beyond even the bounds of earthly
life, and leads one into a state of unbroken communion (Upaasanaa)
It is important to note that Vedic Wisdom does not entail a
life of mendicancy or severity. As long as one follows the dictates
of Dharma, one is encouraged to enjoy the good things of this
earthly life. God, in His Infinite Wisdom, has seen it fit to grant
us the ability to experience great happiness and pleasure while on
this earth, and we are encouraged to seek it out through righteous
Ashrama: The 4 Phases of Life
Vedic Wisdom teaches that each individual goes through certain phases
during the course of life, and that each of these phases should provide
the opportunity to master the knowledge and skills required for making
real progress toward the attainment of the Purusharthas. The systematic
organization of these phases, known as Ashrama, foresees three main
segments in the life of man.
- Brahmacharya or Student Life: This is the stage of
life in which the child receives a solid education in Vaidika Dharma,
including the sciences and the arts. It entails living a celibate and
simple life, free from the distractions of sensuality and
materialism, hearing and studying the Vedas, and developing virtuous
qualities such as discipline, purity in thought, word and deed,
cleanliness, humility, etc.
Swami Dayanand on the purpose of
Brahmacharya: "Brahmacharya (or the 1st stage of life) is meant for
perfecting one's body and acquiring knowledge and culture."
(Satyarth Prakash 159) Brahmacharya is the foundation of the noble
life, for it imparts the knowledge of one's proper place and function
in society and in God's creation, as well as training in skills one
will make use of in all the subsequent stages of life.
- Grihastha or Household Life: This is the stage of
life in which the individual learns and practices a profession suited
to their nature, i.e., their natural gifts and talents. It is also
the stage in which a person usually gets married and starts a family,
and entails the careful observance of prescribed duties and Yajnas or
Swami Dayanand on the purpose of Grihastha:
"Grihastha (or the 2nd stage of life) is for the pursuit of useful
occupation and professions, marriage, etc." (Satyarth Prakash 159)
In many ways, Grihastha is the pillar of all the other phases of
life, as Householders are the ones who support both children and the
elderly on the one hand, as well as temples and priests on the other.
- Vaanaprastha or Retired Life: This is the stage of
life in which the individual, having fulfilled his duties to his
children and his community, withdraws from his professional role in
society, making way for the next generation, and turns his attention
inward, devoting himself more fully to the practice of yoga and the
search for divine wisdom.
Swami Dayanand on the purpose of
Vaanaprastha: "Vaanaprastha (or the 3rd stage of life) is for
meditation, concentration of the mind on abstruse subjects, the
perfection of one's character and the acquisition of divine
knowledge." (Satyarth Prakash 159) For most people, this stage
represents the culmination of all their efforts. They have the
freedom to spend the remainder of their days absorbed in the
contemplation and worship of God and in altruistic actions. However,
for Braahmanas, there is one additional stage which can be taken as
- Sanyaasa or Renounced Life: This is the stage of life
in which the individual renounces all ties to worldly existence,
focusing all his energy upon the propagation of Vedic Wisdom and the
teaching of the same to others.
Swami Dayanand on the purpose of Sanyaasa:
"Sanyaasa (or the 4th stage of life) is meant for disseminating
knowledge of the Veda and the Shaastras, practicing virtue and
renouncing vice, preaching the gospel of truth and dispelling doubts
and ignorance of the people. ... Therefore, it behooves Sanyaasis to
devote themselves assiduously to the preaching of Truth and
enlightening the minds of the people who are in doubt, to the
studies of the Vedas and the Shaastras and the propagation of the
Vedic religion, thereby promote the good (physical, social, mental
and spiritual) of the whole world." (Satyarth Prakash 159)
Braahmanas may also go directly from Brahmacharya to Sanyaasa, as
they are alone qualified through knowledge and piety to execute the
duties of a true Sanyaasi, and as it is sometimes the case that they
have little if anything left to learn from the stages of Grihastha
Varna: The Classes of Society
Vedic Wisdom teaches that every individual is unique in their
constellation of strengths and weaknesses, making them suited for a
particular type of work and a certain position in society. Vedic
Society is divided into four classes or Varnas.
- Shudras: These are the artisans and manual laborers.
They are gifted with dexterity, endurance and great skill in
producing manual works of all sorts which are necessary for the
healthy functioning of any society. Shudras enjoy greater freedom of
movement and employment than the other classes, as they are not
required to be financially self-sufficient and are allowed to take on
work from others as they choose.
- Vaishyas: These are the farmers, merchants and
business owners. It is their duty to make sure that society is
supplied with all of the goods it requires for it's proper
functioning. Though they often have more wealth than members of other
classes, Vaishyas are faced with the responsibility of maintaining
their businesses and taking care of their employees. However, a
Vaishyas is gifted with business savvy and enjoys the challenges
running a successful enterprise entails.
- Kshatriyas: These are the soldiers, police officers
and public administrators. It is their duty to ensure the safety and
smooth running of society. Though granted political power, they have
the responsibility of using that power wisely and fairly, making sure
that justice and the rule of law prevails. Kshatriyas are gifted with
great strength and determination in order to execute their duties as
the protectors of society, and they are not infrequently called upon
to make the greatest sacrifice - that of their own life for the good
- Braahmanas: These are the intellectuals, teachers and
priests. It is their duty to ensure that society as a whole is headed
in the right direction - towards the fulfillment of the Purusharthas.
To do this, they are required to study and teach the Vedas, to
perform sacrifices for the benefit of all, and to live a simple and
frugal life, devoted to preaching the Truth.
It is absolutely vital to recognize that Varna is not based upon birth
or heredity, but on the nature and merits of the individual. Swami
Dayanand proclaims: "The Class and Order of an individual should be
determined by his merits alone." (Satyarth Prakash 728) The caste
system as it is known in India today is a perversion of Varna, and
should be denounced by all noble individuals as the source of grave
The Sanskars: The 16 Sacraments of Life
In the Vedic Tradition, there are sixteen religious ceremonies known as
Sanskars or the Sacraments of Life. The Sanskars are performed for the
physical, social, and spiritual development of the individual. These
Performed shortly after the conception of a child, to ensure a
healthy beginning for the new life.
- Punsavana: Performed
during the second or third month of pregnancy, to ensure the healthy
development of all the extremities and vital organs of the fetus.
Performed during the last phases of pregnancy, to ensure the correct
functioning of all the sensory organs and to bring the development of
the fetus to a successful close.
- Jatakarma Performed
after the birth of the child, to welcome the newborn as a new member
- Namakarana Performed
on the 11th or 12th day after birth, to give the child the name he or
she will forthwith be known by.
- Niskramana Performed
when the child is 2 to 4 months old, to invoke God's protection and
blessings as the child leaves the home for the first time.
Performed when the child is 4 to 6 months old, to celebrate the
child's first consumption of solid food.
- Chudakarma: Performed
when the child is 1 year old, to support the development of
self-awareness and autonomy in the child.
- Karnavedha Performed
when the child is 3 to 5 years old, to support the development of
self-esteem and self-respect.
Performed when the child is 5 to 7 years old, to celebrate the
entrance of the child into the institution of formal education and
the investment with the sacred thread, signalling the beginning of
Brahmacharya or Student Life. Also known as Yajnopaveet.
Performed when the child is 5 to 7 years old, to solidify the
commitment of the child to receiving a good education.
Performed upon the completion of studies, to welcome the young adult
as a valued member of society, ready to embark on the next stage of
life, known as Grihastha or
- Vivaha: The marriage
ceremony (usually undertaken around 25 years of age), to celebrate
the happy union of the individual with a spouse of their choice who
is suited to their nature and ready to embark upon Household Life.
- Vaanaprastha Ashram:
Undertaken upon retiring from one's chosen profession (usually
between 50 and 75 years of age), to celebrate the completion of the
duties of Household Life and the entrance into the phase of
reflection and meditation known as Vaanaprastha Ashram.
- Sanyaasa Ashram:
Undertaken either after the completion of Brahmacharya (Student Life)
or Vaanaprastha (Retired Life), to celebrate the renunciation of all
worldly desires and absolute dedication to the service of mankind
through spreading Vedic Wisdom.
- Antyesti: Performed
upon the death of the individual, when the body is consumed by fire
and it's constituent elements are returned to Nature. This is the
last ceremony. Also known as Antyesti, Naramedha and Purusmedha.
Pancha Mahayajnas: The 5 Great Daily Duties
Aryas are enjoined to perform 5 duties on a daily basis. The
performance of the 5 Great Daily Duties (Pancha Mahayajnas) ensures
that the individual maintains a righteous relationship to all those he
or she comes into contact with. These are:
- Brahma Yajna: The contemplation of and communion with
God (Sandhya) twice daily, morning and evening.
- Deva Yajna: The burning of Samagree (odoriferous,
nutritive, sweet, curative, and similar other substances) with Ghee
(clarified butter) in the sacred fire, also called Homa, or the
- Pitri Yajna: The ministering to the comfort of the
elders, the wise and the learned, as well as serving the same
individuals with love and faith.
- Balivaishva Yajna: The feeding and support of poor and
destitute individuals, as well as that of wild animals.
- Atithi Yajna: The discharge of hospitality to guests,
especially towards individuals who are wise and learned, whose time
of arrival and departure is unknown.