Maharishi Dayananda Saraswati (स्वामी दयानन्द सरस्वती) (February 12, 1824 – October 31, 1883) was an important Hindu religious scholar and the founder of the Arya Samaj, "Society of Nobles", a Hindu reform movement, founded in 1875.He was the first man who gave the call for Swarajay in 1876 which was later furthered by Lokmanya Tilak.
One of his notable disciples was Shyamji Krishna Varma who founded India House in London and guided other revolutionaries like Madam Cama, Veer Sawarkar, Lala Hardyal, Madan Lal Dhingra, Bhagat Singh and others. His other disciples were Swami Shradhanad, Lala Lajpat Rai and others who got their inspiration from his writings.
His book Satyarth Prakash contributed to the freedom struggle by inspiring the freedom fighters. On the basis of these facts some believe that Maharishi Dayanand rightfully deserves to be called as Rashtrapitamah (Grandfather of the Indian Nation).
Dayananda advocated the doctrine of karma, skepticism in dogma, and emphasised the ideals of brahmacharya (celibacy and devotion to God). The Theosophical Society and the Arya Samaj were united for a certain time under the name Theosophical Society of the Arya Samaj.
Among Maharishi Dayananda's immense contributions is his championing of the equal rights of women - such as their right to education and reading of Indian scriptures - and his translation of the Vedas from Sanskrit to Hindi so that the common man may be able to read the Vedas. The Arya Samaj is rare in Hinduism in its acceptance of women as leaders in prayer meetings and preaching.