Aryan

self-designation used by ancient Indo-Iranian peoples

Aryan or Arya (Indo-Iranian: *arya) was originally an endonym used by the prehistoric Indo-Iranian speakers of the Eurasian Steppe. In the Indian subcontinent, the term appears in the sacred texts of the Vedic practitioners whose ancestors migrated from parts of what is now Iran to the Indus River valley about 1500 BC. In the Avesta scriptures, ancient Iranian peoples similarly used the term Airya.

In the 19th century, Aryan was adopted as a race category by some Western anthropologists and historians, including Arthur de Gobineau, Richard Wagner, and Houston Stewart Chamberlain, and some of their views influenced Nazi racial ideology.

Quotes

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Children of Arya are led by light.
Rigveda, VII, 33, 7
 
For the deed proclaims the hero from the man of spacious lies,
Marks the true and upright Arya from the scheming worldly-wise!
Ramayana, II, 109
  • Children of Arya are led by light.
    • Rigveda, VII, 33, 7, as quoted in N. S. Rajaram, Sarasvati River and the Vedic Civilization (2006), p. 40
  • Armed with the thunderbolt, and confident in his strength, he has gone on destroying the cities of the Dasyus. Thunderer, acknowledging (the praises of thy worshipper), cast, for his sake, thy shaft against the Dasyu, and augment the strength and glory of the A′rya.
  • The lords of men had hastened forth
    From east and west and south and north,
    Áryan and stranger, those who dwell
    In the wild wood and on the fell,
    And as the Gods to Indra, they
    Showed honour to the king that day.
    • Ramayana, II, 3, as translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith (1870–74)
  • For the deed proclaims the hero from the man of spacious lies,
    Marks the true and upright Arya from the scheming worldly-wise!
  • Wretch, thou shall be the king of those whose practices and precepts are impure, amongst whom men of inferior blood procreate children upon women of blue blood, who live on meat, who are mean, who hesitate not to appropriate the wives of their superiors, whose practices are those of birds and beasts, who are sinful, and non-Aryan.
  • He is the Aryan, who is born through prayer.
  • An Arya is one who hails from a noble family, of gentle behavior and demeanor, good-natured and of righteous conduct.
    • From the Amarakosha, a Sanskrit lexicon (c. 450 AD), as quoted in N. S. Rajaram, Sarasvati River and the Vedic Civilization (2006), p. 40
  • Unto her did the Maker Ahura Mazda offer up a sacrifice in the Airyana Vaegah, by the good river Daitya; with the Haoma and meat, with the baresma, with the wisdom of the tongue, with the holy spells, with the speech, with the deeds, with the libations, and with the rightly-spoken words.
    • From the Avesta, as translated by James Darmesteter (1882), who notes: "This is the heavenly prototype of the Mazdean sacrifice as later shown to mankind by Zarathustra."
  • The loom of the fabric of Aryan civilisation is a vast, warm, level country, interspersed with broad, navigable rivers. The cotton of this cloth is composed of highly civilised, semi-civilised, and barbarian tribes, mostly Aryan. Its warp is Varnashramachara, and its woof, the conquest of strife and competition in nature.
    • Swami Vivekananda, "The East and the West" (Translated from Bengali), Complete Works, vol. 5 (7th ed., 1959), p. 536
  • Let the Pundits fight among themselves; it is the Hindus who have all along called themselves Aryas. Whether of pure or mixed blood, the Hindus are Aryas; there it rests. If the Europeans do not like us, Aryas, because we are dark, let them take another name for themselves—what is that to us?
    • Swami Vivekananda, "The East and the West" (Translated from Bengali), Complete Works, vol. 5 (7th ed., 1959), p. 466
  • The object of the peoples of Europe is to exterminate all in order to live themselves. The aim of the Aryans is to raise all up to their own level, nay, even to a higher level than themselves.
    • Swami Vivekananda, "The East and the West" (Translated from Bengali), Complete Works, vol. 5 (7th ed., 1959), p. 537
  • The distinction between Aryan and un-Aryan on which so much has been built seems on the mass of evidence to indicate a cultural rather than a racial difference.
    • Sri Aurobindo, The Secret of the Veda (1971), quoted in E. F. Bryant, The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture (Oxford University Press, 2001), ch. 2
  • [T]he Rigveda and Avesta agreed that the essence of their shared parental Indo-Iranian identity was linguistic and ritual, not racial. If a person sacrificed to the right gods in the right way using the correct forms of the traditional hymns and poems, that person was an Aryan.
    • David W. Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World (Princeton University Press, 2007), p. 408
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