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For Hindu, Zoroastrian, and other spiritual interpretations see Arya. For the Bollywood movie called Aryan, see Aryan (movie).

Aryan (/ɑːrjən/) is an English language word derived from the Sanskrit and Iranian terms ārya-, the extended form aryāna-, ari- and/or arya- (Sanskrit: आर्य, Persian: آریا). Beyond its use as the ethnic self-designation of the Proto-Indo-Iranians, the meaning "noble/spiritual" has been attached to it in Sanskrit and Persian. In linguistics, it is sometimes still used in reference to the Indo-Iranian language family, but it is primarily restricted to the compound Indo-Aryan, the Indic subgroup of the Indo-Iranian branch.


[edit] Etymology

Indo-Iranian ar-ya- descends from Proto-Indo-European (PIE) *ar-yo-, a yo-adjective to a root *ar "to assemble skillfully", present in Greek harma "chariot", Greek aristos, (as in "aristocracy"), Latin ars "art", etc. Proto-Indo-Iranian *ar-ta- was a related concept of "properly joined" expressing a religious concept of cosmic order.

The adjective *aryo- was suggested as ascending to Proto-Indo-European times as the self-designation of the speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language itself. It was suggested that other words such as Éire, the Irish name of Ireland, and Ehre (German for "honour") were related to it, but these are now widely regarded as untenable, and while *ar-yo- is certainly a well-formed PIE adjective, there is no evidence that it was used as an ethnic self-designation outside the Indo-Iranian branch. In the 1850s Max Müller theorized that the word originated as a denotation of farming populations, since he thought it likely that it was related to the root *arh3, meaning "to plough". Other 19th century writers, such as Charles Morris, repeated this idea, linking the expansion of PIE speakers to the spread of agriculturalists. Most linguists now consider *arh3 to be unrelated.

The Old Persian form of *Aryāna- appears as Æryānam Väejāh "Aryan Expanse" in Avestan, in Middle Persian as Ērān, and in Modern Persian as Īrān. Similarly, Northern India was referred to by the tatpurusha Aryavarta "Arya-abode" in ancient times.

[edit] Indo-Iranian

Main article: Indo-Iranians

The most probable date for Proto-Indo-Iranian unity is roughly around 2500 BC. In this sense of the word Aryan, the Aryans were an ancient culture preceding both the Vedic and Avestan cultures. Candidates for an archaeological identification of this Indoiranian culture are the Andronovo and/or Srubnaya Archaeological Complexes.

In linguistics, the term Aryan currently may be used to refer to the Indo-Iranian language family. To prevent confusion because of its several meanings, the linguistic term is often avoided today. It has been replaced by the unambiguous terms Proto-Indo-European, Proto-Indo-Iranian, Indo-Iranian, Iranian and Indo-Aryan.

The Proto-Indo-Iranian language evolved into the family of Indo-Iranian languages, of which the oldest-known members are Vedic Sanskrit, Avestan and another Indo-Iranian languages, known only from loan-words found in the Mitanni language.

[edit] Indo-Aryan

There is evidence of speakers of Indo-Aryan in Mesopotamia around 1500 BC in the form of loanwords in the Mitanni dialect of Hurrian, the speakers of which, it is speculated, may have once had an Indo-Aryan ruling class. At around the same time, the Indo-Aryans associated with the Vedic civilization, which dates back to the same period. They are sometimes called Vedic Aryans because it is believed that they brought Hinduism to the Indian Subcontinent after the Indo-Aryan migration. In ancient India, the term Aryavarta, meaning "Land of the Aryans", was used to refer to the northern Indian subcontinent.

Contemporary speakers of Indo-Aryan languages are spread over most of the northern Indian Subcontinent. Indo-Aryan speakers exist outside the Indian Subcontinent including Romani, the language of the Roma people, often known as "Gypsies". In addition to Romani, Parya is spoken in Tajikistan, Jataki in Ukraine, and Domari throughout the Middle East.

The term "Aryan" is also commonly used as a boy's name in various Iranian and Indic languages . Whilst the surname Arya is categorized into the Arora community (see List of Arora last names). The terms "Aryan" and "Iranian" are sometimes used interchangeably, as in the Iranian bank chain, Aryan Bank.

[edit] Iranian

Since ancient times, Persians have used the term Aryan as a racial designation in an ethnic sense to describe their lineage and their language, and this tradition has continued into the present day amongst modern Persians (Iranians) (Encyclopedia Iranica, p. 681, Arya). In fact, the name Iran is a cognate of Aryan and means "Land of the Aryans." <ref>The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, 2000</ref> <ref></ref> <ref></ref>

Darius the Great

Darius the Great, King of Persia (521486 BC), in an inscription in Naqsh-e Rustam (near Shiraz in present-day Iran), proclaims: "I am Darius the great King… A Persian, son of a Persian, an Aryan, having Aryan lineage...". He also calls his language the "Aryan language," commonly known today as Old Persian. According to the Encyclopedia Iranica, "the same ethnic concept was held in the later centuries" and was associated with "nobility and lordship." (p. 681)

The word has become a technical term in the theologies of Zoroastrianism, but has always been used by Iranians in the ethnic sense as well. In 1967, Iran's Pahlavi dynasty (overthrown in the 1979 Iranian revolution) added the title Āryāmehr "Light of the Aryans" to those of the monarch, known at the time as the Shahanshah (King of Kings). Afghanistan's national airline is Ariana Airlines in reference to Airyanem Vaejah, the land of the original Iranian peoples.

The term also remains a frequent element in modern Persian personal names, including Arya and Aryan (boy's and girl's name), Aryana (a common surname), Dokhtareh-Ironi (Aryan daughter, a girl's name), "Aryanzai" (son of an Aryan - in Pashto), Aryanpour (or Aryanpur, a surname), Aryamane, Ary among many others.

[edit] Semantics of Sanskrit arya

Main article: Arya

According to Paul Thieme (1938), the Vedic term arya- in its earliest attestations has a meaning of "stranger", but "stranger" in the sense of "potential guest" as opposed to "barbarian" (mleccha, dasa), taking this to indicate that arya was originally the ethnic self-designation of the Indo-Iranians. Arya directly contrasts with Dasa or Dasyu in the Rigveda (e.g. RV 1.51.8, ví jānīhy âryān yé ca dásyavaḥ "Discern thou well Aryas and Dasyus"). This situation is directly comparable to the term Hellene in Ancient Greece. The Middle Indic interjection arē!, rē! "you there!" is derived from the vocative arí! "stranger!".

The Sanskrit lexicon Amarakosha (c. AD 450) defines Arya as mahākula kulīnārya "being of a noble family", sabhya "having gentle or refined behavior and demeanor", sajjana "being well-born and respectable", and sādhava "being virtuous, honourable, or righteous". In Hinduism, the religiously initiated Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishyas were arya, a title of honor and respect given to certain people for noble behaviour. According to some sources, in the Vedas, the word Arya or Aryan, has never been used in an ethnic or racial sense. This word is still used by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Zoroastrians to mean noble or spiritual <ref>[1]</ref>. Sandoria

[edit] Indo-European

Max Müller and other 19th century linguists theorized that the term *arya was used as the self-description of the Proto-Indo-Europeans, who were often referred to at this time as the "primitive Aryans". By extension, the word came to be used in the West for the Indo-European speaking peoples as a whole. Besides Müller for example H. Chavée in 1867 uses the term in this sense (aryaque), but this never saw frequent use in linguistics, precisely for being reserved for "Indo-Iranian" already. G. I. Ascoli in 1854 used arioeuropeo, viz. a compound "Aryo-European" with the same rationale as "Indo-European", the term now current, which has been in frequent use since the 1830s. Nevertheless, the use of Aryan as a synonym for Indo-European became widespread in non-linguistic and popular usage by the end of the nineteenth century.

Use of "Aryan" for "Indo-European" in academia was obsolete by the 1910s: B. W. Leist in 1888 still titles Alt-Arisches Jus Gentium ("Old Aryan [meaning Indo-European, not Indo-Iranian] Ius Gentium"). P. v. Bradke in 1890 titles Methode und Ergebnisse der arischen (indogermanischen) Altterthumswissenschaft, still using "Aryan", but inserting an explanatory bracket. Otto Schrader in 1918 in his Reallexikon der indogermanischen Altertumskunde under the entry Arier matter-of-factly discusses the Indo-Iranians, without any reference to a possible wider meaning of the term.

According to Michael Witzel in his paper Autochthonous Aryans? The Evidence from Old Indian and Iranian Texts, "the use of the word Arya or Aryan to designate the speakers of all Indo-European (IE) languages or as the designation of a particular race is an aberration of many writers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and should be avoided." <ref>Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies</ref>

[edit] Racialist connotations

Image:Hart aryan.gif
Movie poster from 1916 portraying William S. Hart as an "Aryan" (here meaning "Anglo-Saxon") whose instinct for racial solidarity leads him to protect a threatened woman "of my people".
Main article: Aryan race

Because of ethnolinguistic arguments about connections between peoples and cultural values, "Aryan" peoples were often considered to be distinct from Semitic peoples. By the end of the nineteenth century this usage was so common that "Aryan" was often used as a synonym for "gentile", and this popular usage persisted even after academic authors had ceased to use the term in any other meaning than "Indo-Iranian". Among White supremacists the term still sometimes functions as a synonym for non-Jewish "white person."

The Aryan race was a term used in the early 20th century by European racial theorists who believed strongly in the division of humanity into biologically distinct races with differing characteristics. Such writers took the view that the Proto-Indo-Europeans constituted a specific race that had expanded across Europe, Iran and India. This meaning was, and still is, common in theories of racial superiority which were embraced by Nazi Germany. This usage tends to merge the Avestan/Sanskrit meaning of "noble" or "elevated" with the idea of distinctive behavioral and ancestral ethnicity marked by language distribution. In this interpretation, the Aryan Race is both the highest representative of mankind and the purest descendent of the Proto-Indo-European population.

From the late 19th century, a number of writers had argued that the Proto-Indo-Europeans had originated in Europe. Their opinion was received critically at first, but was widely accepted by the end of the nineteenth century. By 1905 Hermann Hirt in his Die Indogermanen (incidentally consistently using Indogermanen, not Arier to refer to the Indo-Europeans) claimed that the scales had tilted in favour of the hypothesis, in particular claiming the plains of northern Germany as the Urheimat (p. 197) and connecting the "blond type" (p. 192) with the core population of the early, "pure" Indo-Europeans. The identification of the Indo-Europeans with the north German Corded Ware culture was first proposed by Gustaf Kossinna in 1902, and gained in currency over the following two decades, until V. Gordon Childe who in his 1926 The Aryans: a study of Indo-European origins concluded that "the Nordics' superiority in physique fitted them to be the vehicles of a superior language" (a view which he later regretted having expressed).

The idea became a matter of national pride in learned circles of Germany, and was taken up by the Nazis. According to Alfred Rosenberg's ideology the "Aryan-Nordic" (arisch-nordisch) or "Nordic-Atlantean" (nordisch-atlantisch) race was thus a master race, at the top of a racial hierarchy, pitted against a "Jewish-Semitic" (jüdisch-semitisch) race, deemed to be a racial threat to Germany's homogeneous Aryan civilization, thus rationalizing Nazi anti-Semitism. Nazism portrayed their interpretation of an "Aryan race" as the only race capable of, or with an interest in, creating and maintaining culture and civilizations, while other races are merely capable of conversion, or destruction of culture. These arguments derived from late nineteenth century racial hierarchies. Some Nazis were also influenced by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine (1888) where she postulates "Aryans" as the fifth of her "Root Races", dating them to about a million years ago, tracing them to Atlantis, an idea also repeated by Rosenberg, and held as doctrine by the Thule Society. Such theories were used to justify the introduction of the so-called "Aryan laws" by the Nazis, depriving "non-Aryans" of citizenship and employment rights, and prohibiting marriage between Aryans and non-Aryans. Though Mussolini's fascism was not originally characterised by explicit anti-Semitism, he too eventually introduced laws pressed upon him by Hitler, prohibiting mixed-race marriages between "Aryans" and Jews.

Nazi use of the term "Aryan" was wildly inconsistent with the claimed meaning. Gypsies, of Indian descent and language, were classified non-Aryan, while the Japanese were made honorary Aryans during World War II. In effect, "non-Aryan" ended up very nearly meaning, "insufficiently nationalistic".

Because of historical racist use of Aryan, and especially use of Aryan race in connection with the propaganda of Nazism, the word is sometimes avoided in the West as being tainted, in the same manner as the swastika symbol. In the English language, the word "Aryan" is no longer in technical use to refer to an ethnic group or race, and the popular use of the term to mean "white person" fell out of favour during the 1930s when the obvious obsession of the Nazis with the word became a matter of ridicule in Britain and North America. In the USA, the established and less contentious term "Caucasian" became dominant in official usage.

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes


[edit] References

  • Paul Thieme, Der Fremdling im Rigveda. Eine Studie über die Bedeutung der Worte ari, arya, aryaman und aarya, Leipzig (1938).

[edit] Further reading

  • Arvidsson, Stefan (2006), Aryan Idols: Indo-European Mythology as Ideology and Science, translated by Sonia Wichmann, Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Poliakov, Leon (1974). The Aryan Myth: A History of Racist and Nationalistic Ideas In Europe. Translation of Le mythe aryen, 1971.

[edit] External links

Look up Aryan in
Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

de:Arier es:Raza aria fa:آریایی fr:Aryens hi:आर्यन kn: ಆರ್ಯರು nl:Ariër ja:アーリア人 pl:Ariowie pt:Ariano ro:Arian ru:Арийцы sa:आर्यन fi:Arjalaiset sv:Arier ur:آریایی zh:雅利安人


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