Aryan
   In the VEDAS, the earliest Indian texts, the SAN-SKRIT word Arya had the sense of noble or worthy person. It was used by the tribes or peoples who recited the Vedas to distinguish themselves from other peoples. Sometimes, in early Sanskrit the term was used to refer to the “respectable” upper three classes of the Indian tradition, to distinguish them from the disreputable classes such as the SHUDRAS and those below them, the untouchables. Most Brahmins still refer to themselves as Aryas, as do all Buddhists and Jains (see JAINISM).
   The earliest text of the Vedic tradition, the RIG VEDA, which is set in ancient India, has been dated to around 1500 B.C.E. This rough estimate refers to the time the text was compiled as an anthology. Parts of the text may thus date back some centu-ries earlier, an indication that the Aryas were in India as early as c. 2000 B.C.E.
   Vedic references to the Aryas are thus syn-chronous with the theoretical migration of Indo-European-speaking peoples into India from the northwest. Much scholarship and speculation have been focused on this issue since at least the 18th century, when it was discovered that Sanskrit was an Indo-European language related to Latin and Greek, while the languages of southern India seemed unrelated. The term Arya also appears in ancient Persian texts (it is reflected in the name of the country Iran), and in Hittite inscriptions from the Middle East around 1500 B.C.E. The name Ireland may also reflect the word, which would be evidence for a simultaneous Aryan migration to Europe. Recent attempts have been made in India to refute the notion that the Aryans arrived from outside the country. It is prudent to say that the issue is not yet settled.
   Within India itself there are various different understandings of the nature of the Aryans. The linguistic term Dravidian, referring to the tongues spoken in South India, was sometimes used in the 20th century to designate a people or race differ-ent and distinct from the Aryans of the north. The term Aryan was taken up in Europe in the 20th century by the Nazis to designate a person of a “superrace.”
   Further reading: Edwin F. Bryant, The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001); Mad-hav Deshpande and Peter Edwin Hook, eds., Aryan and Non-Aryan in India (Ann Arbor: Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Michigan, 1979); George Erdosy, ed., The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia: Language, Material Culture and Ethnicity (Berlin: Walter De Guyter, 1995); J. P. Malory, In Search of the Indo-European Language, Archaeology and Myth (Lon-don: Thames & Hudson, 1991); Colin Renfrew, Archae-ology and Language: The Puzzle of Indo-European Origins (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Aryan — Ar yan ([aum]r yan or [a^]r [i^]*an), a. Of or pertaining to the people called Aryans; Indo European; Indo Germanic; as, the Aryan stock, the Aryan languages. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Aryan — ► NOUN 1) a member of a people speaking an Indo European language who spread into northern India in the 2nd millennium BC. 2) the language of this people. 3) (in Nazi ideology) a person of Caucasian race not of Jewish descent. ► ADJECTIVE ▪… …   English terms dictionary

  • Aryan — [ar′ē ən, er′ē ən] adj. [< Sans āzya , noble (used as tribal name to distinguish from indigenous races) > Avestan airya nam, IRAN1; ? akin to Gr aristos, best or Hittite arawa , free] 1. Obs. designating or of the Indo European language… …   English World dictionary

  • Aryan — Ar yan ([aum]r yan or [a^]r [i^]*an), n. [Skr. [=a]rya excellent, honorable; akin to the name of the country Iran, and perh. to Erin, Ireland, and the early name of this people, at least in Asia.] 1. One of a primitive people supposed to have… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Aryan — c.1600, as a term in classical history, from L. Arianus, Ariana, from Gk. Aria, Areia, names applied in classical times to the eastern part of ancient Persia and to its inhabitants. Ancient Persians used the name in reference to themselves… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Aryan — This article is about the English language loanword. For other uses, see Aryan (disambiguation). Aryan /ˈɛərjən/ is an English language loanword derived from Sanskrit ārya ( Noble )[1][2][ …   Wikipedia

  • Aryan — /air ee euhn, air yeuhn, ar /, n. 1. Ethnol. a member or descendant of the prehistoric people who spoke Indo European. 2. (in Nazi doctrine) a non Jewish Caucasian, esp. of Nordic stock. 3. (formerly) Indo European. 4. (formerly) Indo Iranian.… …   Universalium

  • Aryan — 1. noun /ˈɛɹ.i.ən/ a) A member of an (alleged) master race comprised of non Jewish Caucasians, especially those of Nordic or Germanic descent. This short sketch of the changes that take place among those races that are only the depositories of a… …   Wiktionary

  • Aryan — Ar•y•an [[t]ˈɛər i ən, yən, ˈær , ˈɑr yən[/t]] n. 1) a) peo a speaker of the languages ancestral to the Indo Aryan or the Indo Iranian languages b) peo (formerly) a speaker of Proto Indo European; an Indo European 2) peo (formerly) a) Indo Aryan… …   From formal English to slang

  • Aryan — Ar·y·an (âr’ē ən, ăr’ ) n. 1. Indo Iranian. 2. A member of the people who spoke the parent language of the Indo European languages. No longer in technical use. 3. A member of any people speaking an Indo European language. No longer in technical… …   Word Histories

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