Airyanem Vaejah (Old Iranian: *aryānām waiǰah, Avestan: airyanəm vaēǰō, Middle Persian: ērānwēz, New Persian: irānwēj, Parthian: aryānwēžan, approximately “expanse of the Aryans”, i.e. Iranians) is the homeland of the early Iranians and a reference in the Zoroastrian Avesta (Vendidad, Farg. 1) to one of Ahura Mazda's "sixteen perfect lands." Its actual location remains uncertain.
- Significantly, Iranian traditions record the earliest homeland of the Iranians as Airyana Vaējah, a land characterized by extreme cold. Gnoli, one of the greatest Avestan scholars, suggests that this land, mentioned in the list of the sixteen Iranian lands in the Avesta in Vendidād I, should be ―left out of the discussion since ―"the country is characterized, in the Vd.I context, by an advanced state of mythicization".
- Gnoli, quoted in Talageri, S. The Rigveda and the Avesta (2008)
- However, it is clear that the list of sixteen Iranian lands is arranged in rough geographical order, in an anti-clockwise direction which leads back close to the starting point; and the fact that the sixteen evils created by Angra Mainyu in the sixteen lands created by Ahura Mazda start out with ―severe winter‖ in the first land Airyana Vaējah, move through a variety of other evils (including various sinful proclivities, obnoxious insects, evil spirits and physical ailments), and end again with ―severe winter‖ in the sixteenth land, Raηhā, shows that the sixteenth land is close to the first one. And since Gnoli identifies the sixteenth land, Raηhā, as an ―eastern mountainous area, Indian or Indo-Iranian, hit by intense cold in winter, it is clear that Airyana Vaējah is also likely to be an eastern, mountainous, Indian area.
- Gnoli, cited in Talageri, S. The Rigveda and the Avesta (2008)
- Also, Airyanam Vaejo, mentioned ibidem, is a bit of a mystery to iranologists, but one serious candidate is certainly Kashmir, where summer does indeed last only two months, in conformity with the description given.
- Elst, Koenraad (2007). Asterisk in bharopiyasthan: Minor writings on the Aryan invasion debate.
- “Given its very Oriental horizon, this list must be pre-Achaemenid; on the other hand, the remarkable extendedness of the territories concerned recommends situating them in a period much later than the Zoroastrian origins. (…) one or several centuries later than Zarathuštra’s preaching.”
- (Gnoli 1985:25), quoted in Elst, Koenraad (2018). Still no trace of an Aryan invasion: A collection on Indo-European origins. About the list of 16 countries in the first chapter of the Vendidād.