Such occurrences abound. Needless to say, the ancient Iranians were proud that they were Aryans. They named their country “Iran” after the word (the ancient name of India too is AryaVarta or land of the Aryans. So too for Ireland). The Iranian kings inscribed on stone, “I am an Aryan, son of an Aryan.” It was one of these Aryan kings, Cyrus the great, who worshipped at the temples of his diverse subjects and taught the world the true meaning of the words *multi-culturalism* and *tolerance*. The West recognizes that Cyrus’s empire was the first true multi-cultural empire in recorded history – that too at a time when the Greeks used to look down with evident hatred on other races as “barbarians”. Lastly but not least, the word “Arya” is linked to the word “Ereta” or righteousness in Avestan, “Rita” in Vedic Sanskrit. This meant the great law of righteousness, and an Aryan was one who followed the law. “Ritu” in Sanskrit meant the cycle of seasons which was an integral part of that moral, physical and spiritual law of God. A “Rishi” was one who explained the law, in Avestan the word “Ratu” was a spiritual teacher of the law of righteousness. The very word “Right” in English could be derived from “Ereta” or “Rita”. As such, being an Aryan in both Iran and India, meant following the path of Righteousness as well as being a proud member of the Aryan people.
The term Aryan (“noble”, “spiritual”) originates with the Indo-Iranian self-designation arya, attested in the ancient texts of Hinduism. Under the British Empire, the British rulers exploited that idea in order to ally British power with the Indian caste system. It was widely claimed that the Aryans were white people who had invaded India in ancient times, subordinating the darker skinned native Dravidian peoples, who were pushed to the south.
Thus the foundation of Hinduism was ascribed to northern invaders who had established themselves as the dominant castes, and who were supposed to have created the sophisticated Vedic texts. Much of these theories were conjectures fueled by European imperialism. This styling of an “Aryan invasion” by British colonial fantasies of racial supremacy lies at the origin of the fact that all discussion of historical Indo-Aryan migrations or Aryan and Dravidian “races” remains highly controversial in India to this day, and does continue to affect political and religious debate.
The Theosophical movement of Helena Blavatsky took inspiration from that Indian culture The Theosophical movement – an early kind of New Age philosophy – founded by Helena Blavatsky , took inspiration from that Indian culture. Blavatsky argued that humanity had descended from a series of “Root Races”, naming the fifth root race (out of seven) the “Aryan” Race. She thought that the Aryans originally came from Atlantis and described the Aryan races with the following words:
“The Aryan races, for instance, now varying from dark brown, almost black, red-brown-yellow, down to the whitest creamy colour, are yet all of one and the same stock — the Fifth Root-Race — and spring from one single progenitor, (…) who is said to have lived over 18,000,000 years ago, and also 850,000 years ago — at the time of the sinking of the last remnants of the great continent of Atlantis.”
Ar·y·an (âr-n, r-)
1. Indo-Iranian. No longer in technical use.
2. A member of the people who spoke the parent language of the Indo-European languages. No longer in technical use.
3. A member of any people speaking an Indo-European language. No longer in technical use.
4. In Nazism and neo-Nazism, a non-Jewish Caucasian, especially one of Nordic type, supposed to be part of a master race.
[From Sanskrit rya-, noble, Aryan.]
Word History: It is one of the ironies of history that Aryan, a word nowadays referring to the blond-haired, blue-eyed physical ideal of Nazi Germany, originally referred to a people who looked vastly different. Its history starts with the ancient Indo-Iranians, Indo-European peoples who inhabited parts of what are now Iran, Afghanistan, and India. Their tribal self-designation was a word reconstructed as *arya- or *rya-. The first of these is the form found in Iranian, as ultimately in the name of Iran itself (from Middle Persian rn (ahr), “(Land) of the Iranians,” from the genitive plural of r, “Iranian”). The variant *rya- is found unchanged in Sanskrit, where it referred to the upper crust of ancient Indian society. These words became known to European scholars in the 18th century. The shifting of meaning that eventually led to the present-day sense started in the 1830s, when Friedrich Schlegel, a German scholar who was an important early Indo-Europeanist, came up with a theory that linked the Indo-Iranian words with the German word Ehre, “honor,” and older Germanic names containing the element ario-, such as the Swiss warrior Ariovistus who was written about by Julius Caesar. Schlegel theorized that far from being just a designation of the Indo-Iranians, the word *arya- had in fact been what the Indo-Europeans called themselves, meaning something like “the honorable people.” (This theory has since been called into question.) Thus “Aryan” came to be synonymous with “Indo-European,” and in this sense entered the general scholarly consciousness of the day. Not much later, it was proposed that the original homeland of the Indo-Europeans had been in northern Europe. From this theory, it was but a small leap to think of the Aryans as having had a northern European physiotype. While these theories were playing themselves out, certain anti-Semitic scholars in Germany took to viewing the Jews in Germany as the main non-Aryan people because of their Semitic roots; a distinction thus arose in their minds between Jews and the “true Aryan” Germans, a distinction that later furnished unfortunate fodder for the racial theories of the Nazis.