अनेकजन्मप्राप्तकर्मबन्धविदाहिने। आत्मज्ञानप्रदानेन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः॥
Anyone who teaches anything is commonly referred to as guru. However, one who releases the student from the bondage of karma by showing the truth of the self is what Vedanta calls a guru. Among the foremost of such gurus one can count Swami Dayananda Saraswati.
He was a teacher who followed the tradition of vedantic teaching (srotriya, श्रोत्रिय) and yet brought a great understanding of modern times and brought in current-day examples to drive home the very subtle vision of vedanta. He not only gave the students the knowledge, but also taught the teaching methodology, so the correct teaching tradition could be carried forward by the many teachers he created.
Swamiji’s grasp of the prasthana traya (Bhagawad Gita, Upanisads and Brahma Sutra) and many related prakarana granathas was so good that he could pick up the thread from anywhere and reveal the truth of the self to a discerning body of students. For one who was steeped in the intense study and relentless teaching of vedanta for many decades, he showed an uncanny ability to relatr to te latest thinking in the sciences.
His guru aptly named him Dayananda. He was a fount of compassion and love for all jivas. His students were special to him and he showed great patience in teaching them and clearing their doubts and queries.
Over a half century of teaching, Swamiji created many teachers, over 200 of who have taken sannyasa. Many have set up teaching centres in different parts of India and the world. The ashrams Swamiji founded include Arsha Vidya Peetham in Rishikesh, Arshavidya Gurukulam at Anakatti, near Coimbatore and Arshavidya Gurukulam at Sailorsburg, Pennsylvania.
His public talks and addresses at national and International conventions, including UNESCO and the UN are very popular. He pinpoints day-to-day issues of most people face, and deals with them within the framework of Vedanta.
In addition to teaching the wisdom of Vedanta, Swami Dayananda also helped bring together Acaryas of many Hindu Sampradayaa to talk in one voice under Hindu Dharma Acarya Sabha. He initiated several Inter-faith meetings to foster greater inter-religious understanding and respect.
He also started various social, educational and community projects to help the less priveleged and to bring in greater harmony in society. AIM for Seva is one such project that addresses education concerns of tribal and remote villages. Today, AIM for Seva runs over 100 Chatralayas (Student Homes) across India and has helped more than 3000 students gain access to formal education as well as value education.
Swamiji was aware that many traditional temple practices and worship were declining. He undertook to restore many of these in several temples, including restoration of chariots, appointing and financing oduvars in Siva temples, starting several veda patashalas to continue the learning of vedas and agamas.
In 2012, he was awarded the first Adi Shankaracharya Award by HH Sri Bharata Theerta Mahaswamiji, the then peethadhipati of Sri Sringeri Sharada Mutt in recognition of the exemplary service rendered for the sustenance and propagation of Sanatana Dharma, Advaita philosophy, the Hindu Cause & the welfare of mankind.
In 2016, Swamiji was posthumously conferred Padmabhushan award by the Government of India, after he had attained Mahasamadhi on September 23, 2015.