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Friday, September 25, 2020

The Vedic Arya and Anarya

The word “aryan” has acquired geopolitical ramifications in the last hundred years. This word is probably derived from the words “arya’ and “anarya,” which occur frequently in the four Vedas (and other ancient Hindu literature: the Puranas, the Mahabharata). Since the first Veda, the Rigveda, is placed by scholars between the 12th and 5th centuries BC, it might be argued that the notion that the “aryan" is a better man originated in the Indian subcontinent. No sense of racial and ethnic bias can be perceived in the Vedic usage of “arya’ and “anarya”—the two words are used to express moral, social, and spiritual status. Arya is a man who enjoys high social status because he is moral and spiritual. Anarya is a man who is immoral and unspiritual. The Rigveda contains stories of battles between kingdoms and clans. The enemies are often called “dasyu” (demon) and “dasa” (slave), but these two words are free of racial and ethnic prejudices. In many instances, the people who are described as “dasyu” and “dasa” are the progeny of the clans which have become rebellious due to religious, political, or any other reasons.

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