Friday, 24 February 2017

The Aryan: A Socio-linguistic Phenomenon

It's still a mystery where did the Aryans come from. Though Bal Gangadhar Tilak tried to explain this phenomenon in his seminal work 'The Aryan', written in the Mandley gaol, Burma, he missed quite a few relevant points. John Marshall, Rakhaldas Banerjee and Dayaram Sahni, who excavated Mohanjodaro and Harappa civilizations (now in Larkana, Sindh, Pakistan) in 1921, believed that Aryans came from Iran (Aryan does sound phonetically same) almost 6500 years back and got naturalised in India (please read, Rakhaldas Banerjee's ' The Aryan Presence in the sub-continent,' now out of print). He completely rejected the notion that the Aryans came from the Arctic region.

Interestingly, pre-medieval German and Pehalvi (classical Persian) had words 'Argane' and 'Arzaan' respectively. Both the words connoted 'Tall, fair with a straight (acquiline/ Grecian) nose', the distinct features Aryans are associated with. The Germans and the unadulterated Iranians are known for their well-built and sharp noses. German 'ubermensch' (an ideal human being imbued with all the conceivable attributes) or Nietzche and India's Aurobindo's 'superman' theory has Aryan elements. In a French essay, Aurobindo argues that the very concept of 'Aryan' as a race or community coming from outside India or already existing here is fallacious. Here he quotes the British historian Sir Arnold Toynbee, " The root of Aryan is in the classical language of India: Sanskrit. The 'Arya Satya' (roughly Gospel truth or oracular truth) or 'Arya Putra' (worthy son of a very father: chip off the old block) are not indicative of a person, persona or province. 'Arya' is a concept of ultimate refinement and evolution. " In Vedas you get to read:Tasmin Ist Aryam Ucchang Avrittam (Rigveda, shlok: 7/12)-Arya is the highest evolution.

Here, I've no desire to call Indian civilization to be the supreme or ultimate but linguistically as well as anthropologically, very many things that already existed here, were erroneously thought to have come from outside. There's a theory in socio-linguistics, ' Repetitive Inculcation'. The word 'Arya' from Sanskrit began its travel to so many continents and civilizations and got inculcated in the linguistic consciousness of many languages and their speakers. The 'Repetitive Inculcation' helped retain its essence as the 'very best' but other socio-geographical elements also crept in with the passage of time.


That's the reason, we still associate Aryans with a particular race or a people. In Prakrit 'Aryam Anijham' means the 'supreme (resides) in you'. And in Pali, 'Arya' means 'A born enlightened'. Even Buddha doesn't deserve to be called 'Arya' as he wasn't born with enlightenment! I therefore believe that 'Aryan' is predominantly a socio- linguistic and abstract implication, rather than a concrete and tangible phenomenon. 

                                        -----Sumit Paul
   
  

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