1902 Encyclopedia > Aryan


ARYAN, a technical term, applied to one of the great families of language, which extends from India to Europe, and which, for that reason, is called also Indo-European. Friedrich Schlegel, who first recognised the family rela-tionship of these languages {Die Sprache und Weisheit der Jndier, 1808), assigned to them the name of Indo-Germanic, a name still used by preference by many scholars in Germany (Pott, Benfey, <fcc.) Bopp (Vergleichsnde Gram-matik, vol. i. p. xxiv.) decided in favour of Indo-European as a more appropriate name for that large family of speech. Other scholars have used the names Japhetic, Sanskritic (W. von Humboldt), and Mediterranean (Ewald).

The objection to Indo-Germanic as the technical name of the whole family is that it is too long, and yet not sufficiently extensive. If the family is to be distinguished by the names of its two extreme members, the name ought to be Indo-Celtic, rather than Indo-Germanic; if by its most important members, then, as remarked by Bopp, the name should be Indo-Classic. Indo-European is an equally cumbersome name, and less correct even than Indo-Ger-manic, considering that there are many languages spoken both in India and Europe which do not belong to that family. Sanskritic would be a misleading name, as coun-tenancing the idea that all the members of this family are derived from Sanskrit. Japhetic seems to revive the Jewish conception of the three ancestors of the human race, Shem, Ham and Japhet and would, from the strictly Hebrew point of view, comprehend many tribes in the north of Asia and Europe who speak Turanian languages. Ewald, who suggested the name of Mediterranean, distin-guishes, besides the Mediterranean, three other families of speech, the Northern, commonly called North Turanian or Altaic, the Semitic, and the Copto-African. He explains the name of Mediterranean by saying, that "the races speaking these languages inhabited the large central circle, surrounded by Semitic, South-Indian, Chinese, Turko-Tataric, and Bask languages" (Lehrbuch der Hebräischen Sprache, p. 17, note). The reason why this name has not been accepted, seems to be that locality has little to do with the essential character of languages, and that the central position once occupied by the people who spoke these tongues belongs to them no longer.

Aryan, as a name for a whole family of languages, has the advantage of being short, and, being a word of foreign origin, of lending itself more easily to any technical defini-tion that may be assigned to it. It has been accepted by many writers in England, France, and India. In Ger-many, too, it is used in this wide sense by Lassen and others, while some scholars have used the term in the more restricted sense of Indo-Iranian,—i.e., as compre-hending the languages of India and Persia, which consti-tute the south-eastern as distinct from the north-western (Greek, Latin, Celtic, Teutonic, Slavonic) branch of the family.

Origin of the Word.—Aryan, as a technical term, has been borrowed from the Sanskrit arya or ärya, the Zend airya. In the later Sanskrit ärya means, of a good family. It is used as a complimentary address. Originally, how-ever, it was used as a national name, and even as late as the time of the Laws of Manu, India is still called Arya-ävarta, i.e., the abode of the Aryas. In the Veda, Arya is the name by which the believers in the gods of the Veda call themselves, in opposition to their enemies, who are called Däsas or Dasyus. The distinction appears in pas-sages such as the following :—

I. 51, 8. " Distinguish, Indra, the Aryas and those who are Dasyus " (vi gäxahi äryän ye ka. däsyavaA). _ X. 86, 19. "I, Indra, distinguishing the Ddsa and the Arya " (viMnvan däsam ä'ryam).

We frequently read of the gods protecting the Arya and destroying his enemies.
III. 34, 9. " Indra, having killed the Dasyus, protected
the Aryan colour" (hatvi dasyün pra äryam värream
ävat). This looks like an ethnological distinction of colour
between Aryas and Dasyus.
X. 49, 3. " I (Indra) who do not give over the Aryan name to the Dasyu " (nä yaA rare äryam näma dasyäve).
In X. 11, 4, we read of Aryan clans, aryäA visar-
I. 103, 3. "Indra, increase the Aryan power" (äryam sahaA vardhaya).
VIII. 103, 1. "Agni, the increaser of the Ärya" (äryasya värdhanam).
VII. 18, 7. "Indra, the companion of the Ärya" (sadhamäVt äryasya).
I. 130,8. "Indra protected in battles the Aryan sacri-ficer" (I'ndraA samätsu ya^amänani äryam pra ävat).
The gods, it is said, bring light for the Arya.
I. 59, 2. "Agni is made a light for the Ärya" (tarn tvä deväsaA agranayanta devam vaisvänara pydtiA ft äryäya); or, " Agni creates broad light for the Arya, driving the Dasyus from the house " (VII. 5, 6). _ II. 11, 18. "He (Indra) uncovered the light for the Arya, the Dasyu was left on the left hand " (äpa avrireoA gybtih äryäya ni' savyataA sädi dasyuA indra).
IV. 26, 2. " I gave the earth to the Ärya, and rain to
the liberal mortal" (Aham bhumim adadäm äryäya aham
vrishrfm däsüshe martyäya).
L 117, 21. "The two Asvins have made the light wide for the Arya " (uni yy6tiA &akrathuA Sryaya).
That light itself, the light of the day or the daily light and life, are called the Aryan light, X. 43, 4, and some of the gods too are addressed by the name oiArya. In V. 34, 6, we read of Indra, " that he, the Arya, leads the Dasa, according to his will" (yathavasam nayati da'sam ftryaA). In X. 138, 3, too, Indra seems to be called by that name.
Most frequently, no doubt, the Arya is conceived as the worshipper of the gods. He was called so in I. 130, 8; again in I. 156, 5, Arya and Yagamdna, sacrificer, are mentioned together.
In IX. 63, 5, the Arya is opposed to the dravan, the enemy, the man who offers no sacrifices; and L 51, 8, the same distinction is drawn between the barhishmat, the sacrificer or Arya, and the avratd, the lawless, the Dasyu.
But the enemies of the poets and their friends are not only among the Dasyus, but also among the Aryas, and in their tribal feuds one Arya speaks of the other as adeva, godless, in the original sense of the word. Thus we read:—
X. 102, 3. " Turn away the weapon of the Dasa or the Arya " (d&sasya va, maghavan a!ryasya va, sanutaA yavaya vadham).
X. 83, 1. " Let us withstand the Dasa, the Arya, with thee as helper " (sahySma da'sam aryam tvaya yu^fS).
VI. 33, 3. " Thou, O hero, struckest these two enemies, the Dasa fiends and the Arya " (tvam tan indra ubhayan amitran dcfaa, v>-itr^»i arya k& sura vadhlA).
VI. 60, 6. " They (Indra and Agni) kill the Arya fiends, they kill the Dasa fiends, they strike off all haters (fern.)" (hataA vritrarei aYya, hataA dasani satpatl hataA visvaA apa dvishaA).
Similar passages, mentioning Arya and Dasa enemies, occur, VI. 22, 10; VII. 83, 1; X. 69, 6, <fcc. In VIII. 24, 27, the Arya enemy is contrasted with the riksha, lite-rally, the bear.
The Arya enemy is called godless in X. 38, 3, " What-ever Dasa or godless Arya means to fight us" (yaA naA dSsaA SryaA va, purustuta adevaA indra yudhaya iiketati).
Lastly, Arya means in some passages what befits or belongs to an Arya, what is proper and right.
X. 65, 11. "The gods spread all over the earth the Aryan laws" (sudanavaA, Irya, vrati! vi sri^antaA adhi kshami).
In IX. 63, 14, the sacred receptacles of the Soma are called arya (ete dhamani aVya, sukr&h ritasya dhaxaya va^am g6mantam aksharan).

It is clear from these passages that Arya is one of the oldest names by which people belonging to this great family of speech called themselves in distinct opposition to their enemies. It is admitted also that the Veda, in which this name occurs, surpasses in antiquity every other literary docu-ment belonging to the same race, and it would be difficult, therefore, to find another name better adapted to serve as a technical term for the whole Aryan family of lan-guages.

As Arya had become a proper name as early as the poems of the Veda, its original and etymological meaning would be of little consequence, had it not been used as an additional argument both in favour of and against the technical use of Arya. Professor Bopp derived ftrya from the root ar, to go, or even from ar&, to venerate. The former etymology would give no adequate sense, the latter is impossible. Lassen explains Srya as adeundus, like a&arya, teacher. But in explaining &rya, it must be remembered that it cannot be separated from arya with a short a, and that in consequence no etymology of arya can be entertained which does not at the same time account for arya. This word is used in the Yajrurveda in exactly the same sense as arya in the Rig-veda. Thus we read, Vajrasaneyi-Sanhita, 20, 17, " Whatever sin we have com-mitted against an Arya, or against a ^udra " (yai Mudre yad arye yad enas fakrima' vayam).

Here Arya is used in opposition to ^iidra, as Arya was used in the Rig-veda in opposition to Dasa. In the Rig-veda, too, we find at least some traces of arya, used in the sense of arya, and in opposition to dasa, viz., in the com-pound arya-patm, having an Arya as husband, as opposed to dasa-patnl, having a Dasa as husband.

There can be no doubt, therefore, that Srya, the word which, as soon as the system of the four castes became more firmly established, took the technical meaning of " belonging to the three upper castes," viz., the Brahmaraas, Kshatriyas, and Vaisyas, came from arya, and that in arya must be discovered the original etymological mean-ing of the word.
Here it is of great importance to observe, that arya is not only used as a comprehensive title of the three upper castes, but also as the special name of one of them, viz., the third caste, the householders or cultivators of the soil.

In Va^-SamAita, XXVI. 2, itcan mean nothing butVaisya, a man of the third class, for it is used together with Brahman, Ra^ranya, and £udra. It is therefore not the commentator only, as Dr Roth says, who here gives the meaning of Vaisya to the word arya, but, from the context itself, it can have no other meaning in that passage. This meaning is still clearer in a passage from the Latyayana Sutras, IV. 3, 6. Here it is said that some sacrificial^ act should be performed, primarily byjin Arya, but if no Arya is forthcoming, then by any Arya, i.e., either by a Brahmaraa or Kshatriya (Aryabhave yaA kas £aryo varraaA. Comment, yadi vaisyo na labhyate yaA kas iaryo varnaA syat, brahmarao va kshatriyo va).

Pacini (III. 1, 103) distinctly ascribes to arya the meaning of Vaisya and master; in IV. 1, 49, the th Varttika distinguishes between Arya and Kshatriya; and what is still more important, both the author of a Varttika to Paw., III. 1,103, and the author of the Phi<-sutras, state that when arya means Vaisya, it has the accent on the first syllable, like aYya.

Having thus traced the connection of arya and arya, both in form and meaning, we have now to consider how arya came to mean Vaisya. Vafsya, is formed from vis, house, settlement, like arya and arya, from ar. We have also vesyam in the Veda, meaning, as it seems, family or clan. Vaisya, meant a householder, and vis also, plural visaA, is frequently used in the Veda as a name for people. Other old names for people in the Veda are kshiti, a dwelling and a dweller, from kshi, to dwell; Greek, KTI in apfa-KTIOVVS ; or krishri ploughing or ploughers.

If, therefore, there was a Sanskrit word ar, meaning earth, then arya, in the sense of landholder, or country-man, would have been formed regularly like Kshamya, xOovios, from ksham, x&uv, earth; like gavya, from go, cow, narya, from nar, man. Now ar, in the sense of earth, does not occur in Sanskrit; but that such a word existed is proved by its derivatives. The Greek ipa in epa£e would correspond to a Sanskrit ira, which ira, again stands to ir, like kshudha, hunger, to kshudh. Finally, ir must be traced back to a radical ar, the change of a to i being analogous to that of Sk. pitar, father, as compared with iranjp, pater, Goth, fadar.
The question now arises, whether ira or ir ever occurs in Sanskrit as a name of earth. The native dictionaries, such as the Amarakosha, assign that meaning to ira, and to ila, and the latter form occurs in the famous name of Ilavnta (explained as ila pr-ithivl vrita, yena), the district of lid, the centre of yambudvfpa or India, jrambudvipa itself being the centre of the seven great continents of the world (Vishreu-Purana, B. II. cap. 2).

In the Rig-veda ira occurs but once, and there, V. 83, 4, it has the meaning of food springing from the earth. " Food is produced for every being, when Par^anya quickens the earth with seed" (ira, visvasmai bhuvanaya grayate yat pargranyaA prithivlm retasa avati).
Here ira. cannot mean simply " a liquid, a draught, feast, particularly a draught of milk;" for the simile shows that the rain is taken as seed, and that from it the food (ira) is supposed to spring (grayate).

In another passage in the Atharva-veda, IV. 11, 10, ira may mean earth, but the sense is doubtful. If it be asked how ira, originally meaning earth, could take the meaning of food, we must remember the tendency of ancient lan-guage to mix up cause and effect, the producer and the produced. Ira, meaning originally earth, would be used in many circumstances as the food and sustenance supplied by the earth, just as gauA, cow, in the Veda is used, not only for milk, but even for leather.

The adjective iravat means possessed of nourishment, nourishing. Anira means without food, and anira amiva seems to be a name for famine. In one place, Rig-veda, IX. 97, 17, iiavat stands for iravat; vrishrfm naA arsha divyam (ngatmim fZavatlm, " Give us the heavenly, streaming, fruitful rain."

Considering the antiquity of the name arya, we may refer its origin to a period in the history of the Aryan language, when the primitive substantive ar was still used instead of the later *ara, ira, epa. As from ^a/ta^e we should be justified in postulating the former existence not only of xa<u.5, earth, but even of a more primitive substan-tive xa/"-> which is actually preserved in \6div, so from foa£e, we conclude the former existence not only of epa, but also of a substantive lp, Sk. ar.

Whether arya means born of the earth, or holding, cul-tivating, possessing the earth, in either case such a name finds ample analogies in the names by which the early dwellers on the earth spoke of themselves. It is not in modern languages only that people call those of their own country, Landsmann, countryman, but in Greek, too, ynmys is used in that sense, while ydr-uiv, equally derived from yrj, means neighbour. The Latin vicinus, neighbour, is derived from vicus, the Greek, OIKOS, the Sanskrit, vesa ; all connected with the Sanskrit vis, dwelling or dweller, the synonym of arya in Sanskrit. In Gothic, gaujan, a countryman, is derived from gauja, land, probably con-nected with ^ap, in ^ap-a-le. Connected with this same ^a/i (\0wv, x^a/iaAos) is the Gothic guma(n), man; Lithuanian, zm6n-es, plur., men ; and the Latin, hemones (ne-hemo = nemo), and homines, men, not derived from humus, hut from an older nominal base, ham, hem, or horn.

Mythology also supplies several instances showing that man was conceived as born of the earth, the son and then the lord of the earth, made of dust, and meant to "tillthe ground from whence he was taken." Erechtheus or Erichthonios (both chtheus and chthonios point to xalJL)t the national hero of the Athenians, worshipped in the oldest shrine on the Acropolis, was represented as yr/yei'ijs or aiToX6W (Her., VIII. 55), while Homer (II, II. 548) says of him that the Earth bore him (T£KE Se £ei8<opos apovpa). Hellen is the son of Pyrrha, and Pyrrha, the red, was the oldest name of Thessaly. The Germans derive their race from Mannus, who was the son of Tuisco, the heavenly, who was the son of the Earth.

The root ar, which as a substantive supplied the oldest names for earth, took in its verbal application the meaning of ploughing, at least among the members of the north-western branch, Gr., dpo-rpov, apo-r^p, apo-io; Lat., ar-a-re, ar-a, trum, ar-a-tor ; Goth., ar-jan. to ear; Lith., ar-ti, to plough; Old Slav., oralo, plough; Irish, airim, 1 plough, arathar, plough. In the south-eastern branch it took the technical meaning of ploughing the sea, Sanskrit, ari-tram, meaning rudder, never plough (cf. Kv/xara repvetv and apovpav Tepveiv). Yet the meaning of moving, stirring up, belonged to the root ar from the beginning, and though we ought not to derive *ar, *ara, ira, epa, from a root ar, to plough, as little as homo from humus, we may well under-stand how ar, as the broken, reclaimed, arable land could be used, even before the Aryan separation, as one of the names of earth.

The common etymology which would assign to arya the meaning of " belonging to the faithful" (Roth) is unten-able, because arya, with the short a and accent on the last syllable, does not mean faithful or devoted, and it is ex-tremely doubtful whether arl, from which arya is said to be derived, occurs anywhere in the Veda with the meaning of desirous, devoted, or faithful. But even if it did, it would be impossible to leave out of consideration the name arya, meaning simply landholder, Vaisya, without any admixture of the meaning of faithful or devoted. The national name, arya, comes directly from this arya, landholder, and arya, landholder, comes from ar, land, not from ari, which means enemy. To distinguish arya, as a term of honour, in the sense of lord or master, from arya, the mere appellative, a change of accent was admitted, which is recognised by the earliest grammarians who mention arya, lord, as distin-guished from arya, landlord, while no native authority ever assigns to arya, still less to ari, the meaning of faithful.

Arya and Arya, as national names, can be traced from India to Persia. In the Avesta, airya means venerable, and is at the same time the name of the people. The first country created by Ormuzd or Ahuramazda is called in the Avesta, Airyanem vae^ro, Arianum semen. The whole extent of country occupied by the worshippers of Ormuzd is also called Airya. As opposed to the Aryan clans (airyao dainhavo), we hear in the Avesta of the un-Aryan clans (anairyao dainhavo), and the same name is contained in the 'Avapia/cat of Strabo, a people and town on the frontiers of Hyrcania. Greek geographers use the name of Ariana in a wider sense than the Avesta. All the country between the Indian Ocean in the south and the Indus on the east, the Hindu-Kush and Paropamisus in the north, the Caspian gates, Karamania, and the mouth of the Persian Gulf in the west, is included by Strabo under the name of Ariana; Bactria is called by him the ornament of the whole of Ariana. As the Zoroastrian religion spread westward, Persia, Elymais, and Media, all claimed the Aryan title.

Hellanicus, who wrote before Herodotus, gives Aria as a name of Persia. Herodotus attests that the Medians were called Arii; and even for the northernmost part of Media, Atropatene, the name of Ariania has been preserved by Stephanus Byzantinus. Even Elymais has been supposed to be derived from Ailama, a modification of Airyama. That airya was considered a name of honour we see from the cuneiform inscriptions. There Darius calls himself Ariya and AriyaMtra, an Aryan, and of Aryan descent. The same element enters into many historical Persian names, Ariaramnes, Ariobarzanes, Arc. When after centuries of foreign invasion and occupation Persia rose again under the sceptre of the Sassanians to the rank of a national kingdom, the kings, the worshippers of Masdanes, called themselves again in their inscriptions, Kings of the Aryan and un-Aryan races, Iran va Aniran, 'hpiavuiv KOI Avapidvaiv. Hence the modern name of Persia, Iran.

In the name of Armenia the same element of arya has been supposed to exist. The old name of the country is Armina, and its etymology is doubtful. In the language of Armenia, however, ari exists, used in the widest sense for Aryan or Iranian, and also with the meaning of brave.

More westward still traces of the name have been dis-covered in Aghovan, the name of the Albanians on the border of the Caspian Sea, the gh being the representation of an original r or 1. In the Caucasus itself the only class speaking an Iranian language, the Os of Ossethi, call themselves Iron.

Along the Caspian and in the country washed by the Oxus and Yaxartes, Aryan and non-Aryan tribes were mingled together. Their wars find their poetical record in the Persian epic, the Shahnameh, describing the feuds and friendships between Iran and Turan. Many Scythian names, preserved by Greek writers, have an Aryan character. Beyond the Oxus, in Transoxiana, too, people are mentioned under the name of Ariacae and Antariani. Here, however, all certain traces of the word, as a geo-graphical term, vanish. We have indeed Aria as an old name of Thrace, and on the Vistula we meet a German tribe called Arii; but nothing is known of the origin of these names, and no conclusions should be built on them.
It should be mentioned that some scholars (Curtius) connect the Greek apio-ros with Sanskrit arya, though deriving it from a different root; while others (Pictet) recognise arya in the Irish er, good, brave, hero. (F. M. M.)

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