It was started by Arya Samaj
in early 20th century to bring back those Hindu people back to their religion, who had converted themselves to Islam
. Dayananda Saraswati claimed to be rejecting all non-Vedic beliefs altogether. Hence the Arya Samaj unequivocally condemned idolatry, animal sacrifices, ancestor worship, pilgrimages, priestcraft, offerings made in temples, the caste system, untouchability and child marriages, on the grounds that all these lacked Vedic sanction. It aimed to be a universal church based on the authority of the Vedas
The nature of scriptural authority in Hinduism
is different from Islam and Christianity in the sense these two world religions claimed more or less exclusive divine authority for their books, the Veda never put up any such claim. Hinduism thus suffered from the universal character of their scriptures. Dayananda was aware of this disadvantage and was moved by the evalengical spirit of Christianity & Islam to create a similar militancy in Hinduism itself. He therefore, moved to give the Vedas the same degree of supernatural authority, which was claimed by the Koran and Bible
By doing so Dayananda made a departure from the line of ancient Hindu fathers, but by doing so he rendered an immense service to the new nationalist movement in India. He saw these world religions making deep inroads into India and realized that unless action was taken, India would in course of time ceased to be the land of the Hindus. Dayananda was impressed by the credal universalism of Christianity and Islam that he wanted to seek it for his own religion. Thus the logic behind statement on the Infallibility of the Vedas was that he wanted to build Hindu society and Hindu nation.
The process of reconverting Hindus, who had embraced Islam known as Shuddhi, was accompanied by a Sanghathan movement, which was launched to unify the Hindus and organize them in self-defence. Literally speaking Shuddhi means purification but when used by the Arya Samajists, it means reconversion. The Samaj being a Vedic church received a considerable success in reconverting Hindus.
But this provoked the Muslims. "How could the Arya Samaj break their 1200-year-old monopoly", this though led to the murder of Lala Ram Chandra in Kashmir in 1923. This was followed by the foul murder of Swami Shraddhananada. The Swami was the founder of the Gurukul at Kangri, a unique educational institution, respected by the Hindus and Muslims during the Non-Cooperation Movement. He was also arrested during the Khilafat movement.
After his release he found that Muslims were harassing Hindus, converting them. He launched the Shuddhi movement. Because of his saintly character, courage and moving oration more than 18,000 Muslims returned to Hindu fold in some parts of U.P. alone. They also succeeded in reconverting a number of Hindus who had been forcibly converted to Islam during the Moplah rebellion in Kerala
in 1920. The Muslims were upset, oddly though some Hindu Congress leaders joined the Muslim chorus in denouncing the Swami.
The Swami narrated one more incident in his journal Liberator "As regards the removal of untouchability, it has been authoritatively ruled several times that is the duty of Hindus to expiate for their past sins and non-Hindus must have nothing to do with it. But the Muslims and Christian Congressmen have openly revolted against this dictum. Even such a unbiased leader such as Shri Yakub Hassan, openly called upon Muslims the duty of converting all the untouchables in India to Islam".
India`s first President Dr Rajendra Prasad
exposed the double standards adopted by the critics of the Swami. "It is difficult to understand how Christians and Muslims can object to the Shuddhi movement on its merits. The Hindus must have the same rights as propagating as others have".
On 23 December 1926, when the Swami, after a serious attack of pneumonia, was lying in his bed, a Muslim by the name Abdul Rashid came to see him, asked for a glass of water and when the attendant went in, took out his revolver and shot at the Swami four times. When Rashid was caught and charge sheeted the Muslims collected a large fund for his defence.
Quoting Pattabhi Sitaramayya at the Gauhati Congress session of 1926 "Gandhi expounded what true religion was and explained the causes that led to the murder. Now you will perhaps understand why I have called Abdul Rashid a brother and I repeat it. I do not regard him as guilty of Swami`s murder. Guilty indeed are those who excited feelings of hatred against one another".