Pujya Sri Swami Dayananda Saraswati
Pujya Sri Swami Dayananda Saraswati (1930-2015) designed and taught 10 intensive residential 3-year programs in Vedanta & Sanskrit in India and the USA, including 3 in the Chinmaya Mission. Through these courses he created hundreds of teachers (more than 400) in his life time. These teachers are continuing the teaching tradition in various places around the world.
In addition to carrying forward the teaching tradition Swamiji also contributed towards the preservation and revival of Indian culture and heritage in a variety of ways. He was instrumental in conceiving and creating the HIndu Dharma Acharya Sabha, a collective voice for Hindu consciousness. As part of this effort he brought together more than 150 traditional acharyas from all corners of India under one umbrella to represent and address the problems of the Hindu community.
Swamiji vociferously talked and campaigned against the menace of religious conversions. He started the All India Movement (AIM) for Seva in the year 2000 in response to the clarion call of the catholic Pope to plant the cross in Asia in the third millennium. Swamiji decided that if we are to tackle this menace then the solution would be to make the Hindu community feel wanted and cared for so that the incentives provided by other religions do not hold any attraction for them. AIM for Seva, in just about 15 years, now runs more that 115 student homes all over India, in about 15 states, providing free boarding, lodging and education for children between the ages of 8 and 15. Promising students are also provided help for continuing their education if they wish to.
Swamiji took up the responsibility of reviving the chariot festival of Sri Mahalingaswami temple, Thiruvidaimaruthur in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu. This involved building the main chariot along with many other smaller ones after a gap of about 75 years. In addition to helping preserve the customs and traditions it also helped in reviving the artistic traditions and artisans involved in the whole process like chariot makers, sculptors etc.
Swamiji founded and guided the growth of the Dharma Rakshana Samiti - an organisation for the preservation of hindu culture, traditions and customs in rural Tamil Nadu. The organisation also contributed towards reviving temples and festivals around the state in a big way.
Swamiji was a connoisseur of South Indian classical music. He gave awards to recognise eminent classical musicians & dancers. Many accomplished musicians & dancers like Late Sri. Lalgudi Jayaraman. Padma Subramanian etc have been privileged recipients of this award.
Swamiji also contributed towards the temple singing tradition of Tamil Nadu (oduvars) by supporting the singers and reviving the culture of singing tamil devotional hymns in many temples around Tamil Nadu.
In addition to all of the above Swamiji worked tirelessly throughout his life for the preservation and growth of Hindu Dharma, in many other ways.
True to his name (Dayananda meaning one who revels in being compassionate) Swamiji was also an ocean of compassion. Any one seeking help of any kind was hardly allowed to leave empty handed.