Dayananda Saraswati was born on the 10th day of waning moon in the month of Purnimanta Falguna (either the 12 or 24 February, 1824) on the tithi to a Hindu family in Tankara, Kathiawad region (now Rajkot district of Gujarat.) His original name was Mul Shankar because he was born in Dhanu Rashi and Mul Nakshatra. His father was Karshanji Lalji Tiwari, a wealthy tax collector, and mother Yashodabai. His father also served as the head of an eminent Hindu family of the village. As such Dayanand led a comfortable early life, learning Sanskrit and studying the Vedas and other religious texts.
When he was eight years old, his Yajnopavita Sanskara ceremony was performed, marking his entry into formal education. His father was a follower of Shiva and taught him the ways to impress Shiva. He was also taught the importance of keeping fasts. On the occasion of Shivratri, Dayananda sat awake the whole night in obedience to Shiva. On one of these fasts, he saw a mouse eating the offerings and running over the idol’s body. After seeing this, he questioned that if Shiva could not defend himself against a mouse, then how could he be the savior of the massive world.
The deaths of his younger sister and his uncle from cholera caused Dayananda to ponder the meaning of life and death. He began asking questions which worried his parents. He was engaged in his early teens, but he decided marriage was not for him ran away from home in 1846.
Dayananda Saraswati spent nearly twenty-five years, from 1845 to 1869, as a wandering ascetic, searching for religious truth. He gave up material goods and lived a life of self-denial, devoting himself to spiritual pursuits in forests, retreats in the Himalayan Mountains, and pilgrimage sites in northern India. During these years he practiced various forms of yoga and became a disciple of a religious teacher named Virajanand Dandeesha. Virajanand believed that Hinduism had strayed from its historical roots and that many of its practices had become impure. Dayananda Sarasvati promised Virajanand that he would devote his life to restoring the rightful place of the Vedas in the Hindu faith.