तत्पदं दर्शितं येन 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 guru-s one can count Swami Dayananda Saraswati.
He was a teacher who followed the tradition of Vedantic teaching (Śrotriya, श्रोत्रिय) and yet brought a great understanding of modern times with 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.
His guru aptly named him Dayananda. He was a fount of compassion and love for all jīvā's. His students were special to him. He showed great patience in teaching them and clearing their doubts & queries.
Over a half century of teaching, Swamiji created many teachers, over 200 of who have taken sannyasa. Many of who have set up teaching centers in different parts of India and the world under the Arsha Parampara banner. The ashrams Swamiji founded include Arsha Vidya Pitham in Rishikesh, Arsha Vidya Gurukulam at Anakatti, near Coimbatore and Arsha Vidya 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 Ācāryas of many Hindu Saṃpradāya to talk in one voice under Hindu Dharma Ācārya Sabhā.
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 privileged 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 Cātrālayas (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 & financing oduvars in Siva temples and starting several Veda Pāṭaśālās to continue the learning of Vedas and Āgamas.
In 2012, he was awarded the first Ādi Śañkarācarya Award by H. H. Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji, the Mahasannidhanam of Sri Sringeri Sharada peetham in recognition of the exemplary service rendered for the sustenance and propagation of Sanātana Dharma, Advaita vedanta, the Hindu Cause & the welfare of mankind.
In 2016, Swamiji was posthumously conferred Padmabhushan Award by the Government of India, after he had attained mahāsamādhi on September 23, 2015
“A scholar even in his pūrvāśrama (he has over 30 research and other publications in Indian and International journals and magazines), Swamiji has had the best of formal education and has held high positions in the corporate world. Not finding the answers to the fundamental questions of life, he threw up all the trappings of the world to join Poojya Swami Dayananda Saraswati at Arsha Vidya Gurukulam to learn Advaita Vedanta. He stayed there for three-and-a-half years. He combines his knowledge of the modern world with his understanding of Vedanta. He is a regular invited speaker in various fora and contributes articles of interest to printed and web-based media. Swamiji teaches Vedanta from different angles, particularly for people engaged in stressful lifestyles.”
“Gitama, as she is known to her students, brings her extensive experience in corporate training for all levels — from Directors on the Board to shop-floor workers — to the teaching of Vedanta to different levels of people. She teaches children, housewives and other seekers, covering areas of prayers, Īśvara, and the vision of Vedanta through Bhagavad Gītā, Upaniṣad-s and other vedic texts. She has a special place in her heart for children who, in turn, adore her. She lived in Arsha Vidya Gurukulam between 2010 and 2013, and learnt the reality of self, the jagat and īśvara from one of the foremost teachers in modern times, Poojya Swami Dayanandaji.”