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On Arya , Aryan , Sarasvathi and other issues

01 Sep

This was initially written in response to comments from Mr. Kushwaha concerning a number of issues arising out of Bharatha_Varsha and Bharathas. I am posting this at the suggestion of riverine , to invite further comments from others on the Forum.

I suggest, read Bharatha_Varsha and Bharathas before proceeding with this post.

Please read on..

1. Aryan

The question of race, particularly the Aryan race is a messy one. It is one of those famous “False problems”. Let us start from the other end and clear the deck.

Aryan is an English word derived from the Vedic Sanskrit and Iranian Avestan terms ari-, arya-, arya-, and it’s another form aryana. The Sanskrit and Old Persian languages both pronounced the word as arya. The term came widely into use (misuse) early in 19th century. How it came to be developed and later how the British and others hijacked it is an interesting story.

Aryan theory was, initially, developed by Danish and German scholars of the romanticism era, like R. Rask and F. Bopp (1816) . The German linguists such as the Leipzig Junggrammatiker school members further developed it. The theoryof an immigration into or invasion of South Asia by speakers of Indo Aryan language based on the familiar concept of the Hunnic and Germanic invasions of the Roman empire, emerged late in the 19th century.

The British latched on to the theory of an invasion by superior Indo Aryan speaking Āryas (‘‘Aryan invasion theory’’) as a means to justify British policy and their own intrusion into India and their subsequent colonial rule. In both cases (Hunnic/Germanic and British), a ‘white race’ was subduing the local darker-colored population. In a single stroke  AIT  negated the legacy and traditions of entire subcontinent; and  told them they lived on borrowed glory.

Further, the British also employed it, as a tool of their “divide and rule” policy, to drive a wedge between the various groups in the Indian people, by propagating that theAryan invaders from Central Asia destroyed the native civilization and enslaved the native population. The strategy was to set one class / region against another and let them fight it out. The then Viceroy of India Lord Curzon called this policy “furniture of the Empire.” Sir Winston Churchill opposed any policy tending towards decolonization on the ground: “We have as much right to be in India as anyone there, except perhaps for the Depressed Classes who are the native stock”. The British trick/strategy did work and many groups within India supported the British on both the counts and stated quarrelling among themselves. Since then the debate on the racial character of the term “Aryan” gathered pace and chugged along.

During the early thirties, the “Aryan” found unexpected supporters in the form of Nazis who employed it as a racial term designating the purest segment of the White race. Nazis put the theory into a highly destructive operation . The holocaust that followed is rather too well known to be recounted here.

The Nazis pointed out to the British that Nazis were doing exactly the thing they (British) themselves were doing in India, subjugating an inferior race. Nazi schoolbooks included lessons on British rule in India .This caught the British on wrong foot. British were embarrassed to find themselves bracketed with Nazis. The British spin-doctors then came up with an explanation that that the Indians were “brown Aryans” and there was no subjugation of Indian people. The British thereafter soft peddled the Aryan theory and slowly receded from it.

In the mean time, things came to a full circle in Persia. An off shoot of this debate was that Persia woke up to its history and decided in March 1935 to call itself Iran , derived from “arya” “āriyā “.We may recall that Darius the Great, King of Persia (521-486 BC), , proclaimed: “I am Darius the great King… A Persian,  son of a Persian, an Aryan, having Aryan lineage.”

Having re- discovered his roots the then Sha warmed up to his newfound brethren, the other Aryans, the Nazis. The British were not amused with this blossoming camaraderie and promptly snubbed Iran. Later in 1959, Iran came up with a statement that names Iran and Persia could be used interchangeably. However,since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the official name of the country is “Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Because of its association with Nazi propaganda and the stigma that stuck to it, the word “Aryan” is no longer in technical use. Presently, white people go under the label Caucasian. Even in Linguistics, “Indo-European” replaces Aryan.

Now, the infamous AIT – the Aryan Invasion theory stands largely discarded. Let us leave it at that.

2. Race

The term Arya, either in Sanskrit or Avesthan, has always meant “noble”. Amara_Kosha, the Sanskrit lexicon, explains the term as “sabhya” “sajjana” – meaning a gentleman. Arya is a term used by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis, to mean noble or spiritual. The Vedic Aryans called themselvesArya in the Rig-Veda. Besides Iran, the Éire, the Irish name of Ireland; and ehre (German for “honor”) are related to the term Arya. The Afghan airline is Aryana, named after the original name of that country. Many children in Iran are named Iran-dokht, Aryan pour etc. based on the term Arya. Similarly the South Indian names like, Ponna_iah, Subba_iah or Ayya_sami etc. carry its cognate iah to assign respect to the name. The term, obviously, is employed in the context of culture than race

In all these cases, the people of those countries, belonging to various ethnic groups , preferred to associate with the term Arya to signify that they were a noble and a respected people . There were no racial tags attached to it.

Some say Rig-Veda too does not employ the term in a racial sense. According to Shrikant Talageri, among the tribes mentioned, most of whom of same race; Rig Veda refers to Purus and especially to Bharathas as Aryans. It is, therefore, a matter of regard and respect than of race.

I learn that in Manu Smrithi even Chinese were called Aryans. The South Indian Kings called themselves Aryans and those of whom that established kingdoms in South East Asia also called themselves Aryans.(to check with azygos)

Sri Aurobindo did not like the use of the term race in this context. He said, ““I prefer not to use the term race, for race is a thing much more difficult to determine than is usually imagined.”

According to Michel Wetzel, designation of a particular race to people speaking a language is an aberration of the 19th and 20th century

Eva Nthoki Mwanika while commenting on the race of the Egyptian people said, ”The Egyptians did not recognize “race” with in the same context or definition in which modern society recognizes it and that, the division of humankind into races as understood in the modern sense is a recent phenomenon.” She went on to say, we are trying to impose a modern term “race” on an ancient people who had a non-racial self-perception and a different worldview.

I presume we can safely echo the views of Ms. Mwanika in the Aryan context as well.

As regards the Buddha,  he used the term ariya any number of times. Sometimes he used the term to imply, “one who strives upward”, and that is to say the noble ones. He used the term anariya to mean ignoble or vulgarFor instance he called extreme indulgence or extreme austerity as anariya and anatta samhita (futile).   Most other times the term “ariya” was used to mean “noble”. For instance ariya sacchani (noble truths) and ariya patha (eightfold aryan path or the noble path).

 

In the later forms of Buddhism, the path to enlightenment is graduated into four stages. The arahat (the fourth stage of realization) is a fully enlightened being, having extinguished all defilements. The sotapanna (first stage of realization, also sotapatti-magga-nana) has uprooted wrong view but still has other defilements. The sakadagami and anagami are at the second and third stage of realization, respectively. All four are called ariyas, that is, noble.

There is a section in the pali cannon (tipitaka) in which the Buddha talks about himself. That section is titled ariya_pariyesana sutta. Similarly, in the Buddhist traditions of Burma and Sri Lanka , the future Buddha is generally referred to as ariya metteyya, the noble metteyya.

In the context I mentioned above, both the terms arya and aryan were  exclusively psychological terms or adjectives  denoting  noble or virtuous , and having very little to do with birth, race, or nationality.

 

3. Sarasvathi

As you mentioned, itis generally accepted that the SarasvatI represents the geographical heartland of the Vedic Aryan civilization. You are echoing the often-repeated statementthat while Rig Veda mentions the Ganga only once, it lauds the great Sarasvati fifty times. Yes, I agree, it is so.

As I mentioned in my post, the Rig Veda has a certain geographical horizon. It projects a land of seven great rivers bounded by ocean and many mountains. This mainly represents the geographical sphere of the Bharatas and their neighbors. Rig Veda is not talking about entire Bharatha Varsha. The geographical horizon of Rig Veda is confined to the Sarasvathi valley, the heartland of Puru/Bharatha country.

Further, the Purus and especially the Bharathas are the protagonists of Rig Veda. It extols their relations, their rituals, their Gods, their battles and their victories etc. The geography of the of the Rig Veda is therefore limited to the Sapta Sindhu region, the land of thePurus\Bharathas ,who are the real Aryans of the Rig Veda.

In short, Rig Veda is mainly the story of Purus/Bharathas. Naturally, Rig Veda speaks all the while about their land, their rivers, their mountains etc. It does not mean that the other parts of Bharatha Varsha (as you mentioned, the Ganga and others) did not exist. Those regions just did not figure in the Puru/Bharatha story. In fact, some of the Purus of Rig Veda hailed from what is now the U.P. region (e.g.Sudyumna).Rig Veda frequently refers to the Puru clan as children of Nahusha. This Nahusha was the father of Yayathi and ruled the in the Gangetic region. (Interestingly, Nahash in old Hebrew means serpent. I am not suggesting any connection).

That is the reason, why there are not many references to the Ganga in Rig Veda. The position as explained, I presume, answers your question.

The range of the Puranas, on the other hand, is much wider .They speak of other regions of Jambu_dvipa/Bharatha Varsha, other Kings, their histories, as well. The Puranas are part history and part epic. The style of their narration is more relaxed and elaborate.

****

Earlier we spoke of migration from North West into the Punjab region. Now, let us look at the, migration that might probably have taken place in the other direction.

The slow death and eventual disappearance of the mighty Sarasvathi also signified the end of the civilization associated with the Sarasvathi valley. The geo physical surveys and other studies suggest that around 1600 BC a massive draught struck the Sarasvathi region. That, and possible shift in the land lead to disappearance of the Sarasvathi. It was perhaps a part of a wider phenomenon that swept the other regions too. The people of the Sarasvathi valley, naturally, migrated to other regions. From a throbbing account of living generations, Rig Veda turned into memories of a lost heartland. A Camelot lost.

The disappearance of Sarasvathi valley civilization is a very important landmark in the history of Bharatha Varsha.

The presence of the Indo Aryan kings of the Mittani and the Kassite dynasties, who worshipped Vedic deities, in the Babylonian region , during 1600to 1300 BC , points to the possibility of migration of Vedic people from the plains of Punjab, following the collapse of the Sarasvathi valley civilization.

It is evident from the names of some of the Miittani and Kassite Kings and Generals (Kart-ashura,Biry-ashura,Sim-ashura,Kalm-ashura etc.) that they belonged to the early Rig Vedic times when the Asuras were the older set of gods; and when the sharp distinction between Asurasand Devas had not yet come into being ; and when the Asuraswere not yet a denigrated lot in the Vedic texts.

It is also evident that the Indo –Aryan kings were a minority among a population who spoke a different language.

It is remarkable how in the distant past , the Vedic people migrated from Punjab to the regions of Mesopotamia and Egypt .(There is theory that suggests , Nefertiti (c.1400 BC) married to Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep IV was a Mittani princess , daughter of an Indo Aryan King)

(For more on Mittani and Kassite kingdoms and Rig Veda , Gathas ; please view-

“Rig Veda and Gathas re visited”@

http://ssubbanna.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/05/rig-veda-and-gathas-revisited.htm )

 

4. Bharatha_Varsha/Arya_Vartha

I think you got into knots over the Bharatha_Varsha and Arya_Vartha . Let me clarify.

As discussed in the post the name Bharatha_Varsha came into vogue at the time of the Emperor Bharatha who was fifth or sixth in line from Swayabhuva Manu, the first Manu. The various Purans and texts have described the extent of Bharatha _Varsha as extending from the ocean in the South to the snowy mountains.

As regards Arya_vartha, the term might have come into use, at best, in Vedic times, inmanvantar of Vaivaswata Manu, the seventh Manu. There is, therefore, a huge time gap between the two occurrences. I do not even hazard a guess to measure the gap.

At times, it is used to refer to the Rig Vedic geography and at other times to the GangaValley. Sometimes, it amorphously referred to what we call India.

Bharatha Varsha, even in the times of Mauryas was larger in area than the present India . Kautila called it Chakravarthi Kshetra. It was before Asoka’s time.

Bharatha _Varsha has always been a nation even from the epic times overwhelming the political subdivisions.

Thank you

Regards

Sources:

http://koenraadelst.bharatvani.org/downloads/books/aid.htm

http://voiceofdharma.org/books/rig/ch5.htm

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurya_Empire)

 

 
15 Comments

Posted by on September 1, 2012 in History

 

Tags: , , ,

15 responses to “On Arya , Aryan , Sarasvathi and other issues

  1. sreenivasaraos

    March 21, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    dear sir:

    enlightening blog post. i don’t know if you have already read the book “in search of the cradle of civilization” co-authored by georg feuerstein, subhash kak and david frawley. the book showcases new archeological and textual evidence on the indus (saraswathi) valley cilivilization. it is ground breaking and turns a lot of theories upside down. the pictures of excavations from the sites are revealing. there is a particular picture of a clay model of a priest from those times; the figurine sports a ‘kudumi’ and the front of the head has been shaved off, very much like modern day south indian priests and vadhyars.

    we have to shed all the baggage of history as we have studied in text books and start looking at our history in new light.

    keep writing!

    regards,

    melody queen

     
    • sreenivasaraos

      March 21, 2015 at 4:00 pm

      dear melody

      thank you

      i have not read the book ” in search of the cradle of civilization” you mentioned.i will look for it on the net and hope some extracts would be there.
      some others have also written about the sarasvathi. i saw an article where a reference was made to kayana sundaram’s work. i have not seen that either. i think i need to update my information.

      just as i was reading your comment i received one from maddss123 referring to a survey . there he mentions the disappearence of sarasvathi as between 300 to 5000 bc. i read in an another article by mr. kak where accoring a geo physical survey the disappearence of sarasvathi is placed around 1500 to 1600 bc. that looks plausible. it would also offer an explantion for the presence of indo arya kings in the mesopotamian region around the same time.the other evidences also seem to support that view.
      i wrote about that in rig veda and gathas. revisited.

      now , how do you find reading all this stuff about 1500 , 1600 bc , exotic names of kings and regions .

      keep in touch

      regards

       
  2. sreenivasaraos

    March 21, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    dear srinivas, something i read before:

    hyderabad july 28, 2002. india’s remote sensing satellites have traced the buried course of saraswati, the mythical himalayan river, kindling hopes of finding drinking water under the hot sands of the thar desert in rajasthan.

    mentioned in the rig veda, the hindu scripture, and other ancient literature, the river is believed to have once flowed, parallel to the indus, through what is now desert before falling into the arabian sea.
    according to published literature, the river disappeared between 5000 bc and 3000 bc due to tectonic events in the himalayas, that cut off the water supply, and climatic changes that converted what was once a lush green rajasthan into an arid zone. past attempts to accurately trace the lost river and reconstruct its drainage system did not succeed.

    “recent advancements in space-based sensors and in data processing technologies made it possible”, says j. r. sharma of the jodhpur-based remote sensing service centre of the indian space research organisation (isro). he and his colleagues, a. k. gupta and g. sreenivasan have mapped the “palaeo channels” relics of the river and its tributaries using data from three different sensors on board indian satellites.

    mr. sharma said over telephone that 13 borewells drilled along the predicted river course have yielded water at a depth of 35 to 40 metres. the size of the palaeo channels, as estimated from satellite data, was huge, about 15 to 40 metres thick, implying that there was plenty of water out there. “the government of rajasthan is planning to increase the number of borewells to 50 in two months and has earmarked rs. 40 million for the project,” he said, adding, “chemical analysis indicates these palaeo channels could form a source for good quality ground water.”

    regards

    Maddss123

     
    • sreenivasaraos

      March 21, 2015 at 4:00 pm

      for maddss123

      dear sir

      thanks for the comment.
      i was just referring to your comment in my response to melody queen.
      i mentioned there about the survey you mentioned particlarly about the approximate time of the disappearence of sarsvathi.
      kindly see my reply to her
      thank you

      regards

       
  3. sreenivasaraos

    March 21, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    dear sir,

    i have a related question. the accepted date for the drying up of the sarasvati is stated to be 1900 bc. the probable date given for the mahabharata is 3100 bc. it follows that the mahabharata pre-dates the drying up of sarasvati by 1200 years. so, did the mahabharata happen when the sarasvati was still flowing? i have read that the mahabharata mentions the river sarasvati as having dried up in the desert. is there any other reference to the sarasvati in the mahabharata? what is the importance accorded to sarasvati’s reference in the mahabharata?

    the river system central to the mahabharata is yamuna/ganga. is it possible that there was an eastward migration of the civilization in/around 3100 bc, even before the sarasvati dried up in 1900 bc?

    or is it possible that the date of 5000bc to 3000 bc for the drying up of the sarasvati as given in the news report quoted by maddds is correct? would that mean we have to move the rig veda to an even earlier date than the current acceptance of 3700 bc? in this scenario, the mahabharata date of 3100 bc is tenable.

    maybe more research will throw more light on the date conflict.

    i had tried to post this comment earlier, but for some reason, it didn’t post. so, i am reposting my question.

    Melody Queen

     
    • sreenivasaraos

      March 21, 2015 at 4:02 pm

      dear melody
      wow! you are really into it.

      let us start with mahabharata.

      yes, there are references to the sarasvathi in mahabharata.

      to start with, azygos in his comments started talking about this but had to leave for his collage

      (http://azygos.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/06/the-theism-of-the-vedas/comments.htm)

      (incidentally, azygos is truly something. he is thorough meticulous and voluminous. i admire him.)

      -sarasvathi was to the north of kurukshetra where the war took place. (3.81.115),
      – during the mahabharata period the river saraswati was drying up
      – in vana parva, lomasa remarks that the saraswati goers underground at vinasana and remerges at chamshodbheda.( section cxxx) -ganguly’s translation.

      -in bhishma parva, sanjay the narrator of the war tells dhritarashtra the blind king “as regards the saraswati, in some parts (of her course) she becomes visible and in some parts not so”.( section vi )

      -balarama, krishna’s brother, sent on tour (or detour) during the war visited a number of holy places. during his tour, balaram visited vinasana, the place where the sarasvati disappears in the desert. as azygos mentioned, he remarked sarasvathi was drying up. (mbh. 3.80.118; 9.36.1; 3.130.4).

      – mahabharata states that the sarasvati, after having disappeared in the desert, reappears in some places. (mbh. 3.80.118).

      -mahabharata also states saraswati disappears in the sands at vinasana and not into the sea.

      ****
      therefore at the time of mahabharata sarasvathi was growing weaker, but she was still there flowing intermittently, perhaps. no single reason is given for the disappearance of the river saraswati.

      ***
      rig-veda describes how saraswati supported inland and marine trade and travel. it is likely there was continuous flow of the river say possibly, up to even the little rann

      ****
      sarasvathi a mighty river in early rig veda gradually grew weaker and by mahabharata, time was not fully flowing into the sea but was drying up in the desert.

      my surmise is (not that it matters), the decline set in sometime about 3000 bc and by 1500 bc the river may have disappeared. the westward movement might have taken place around 1800-1700bc)

      ***

      now this date is significant for many reasons; but mainly to determine (a) date of mahabharata war and (b) the rig veda period. tomes are written on these subjects.
      *rig veda mentions the saraswati a number of times (50?). if the river grew weaker, let us say, by 2000 bc that means that rig veda was composed far before that time.
      *the book “in search of the cradle of civilization” by george feuerstein, subhash kak and david frawley clearly demonstrates that the indus-saraswathi civilization is in fact early vedic civilization with the help of evidences from archaeology, satellite surveys, literature etc. it is a very interesting read and rejects the aryan invasion theory altogether
      ***

      it is also likely, as you suggested, a eastward migration took place took place with the weakening of the sarasvathi. the westward movement (mitanni etc.) is also explained by this phenomenon.

      now, a study concludes sarasvathi herself moved east .the “late quaternary drainage disorganization, and migration and extinction of the vedic saraswati study by a. b. roy and s. r. jakhar states,“ we fully agree that the riveryamuna ‘pirated’ the saraswati waters when it changed its course from southwesterly to easterly, to become a part

      of the ganges river system.” well then, triveni, after all, was not a myth! http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/nov102001/1188.pdf

      ***

      please visit this site on sarasvathi. it is informative. srasvathi – ancient river lost in desert http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/oct25/articles20.htm

      ***

      now that you are fully armed, i have to be on guard.

      i am not sure i have answered all your questions.

      thanks for asking.

      regards.

       
      • sreenivasaraos

        March 21, 2015 at 4:03 pm

        dear sir,
        finally i got to read all the references and links given by you in your comment. they are enligtening read. (i didn’t want to comment without studying them). thank you for giving my questions a serious thought. i also dug up a very old india today link from the january 26, 1998 issue. the article also references to the archeological survey of india’s excavations under ravindra singh bisht. i have given the link below for interested readers. maddssji, you may also want to read this.

        http://www.india-today.com/itoday/26011998/indus.html

        here is another link to slide show of photographs from the indus/saraswathi sites. there are about 90 pictures in all. pictures 39 and 40 of particular interest. picture 40 sports something similar to the kudumi of modern day south indian priests i had referred to in my earlier comment.

        http://www.harappa.com/indus

        now the billion dollar question: what would it take for the government of india to rewrite our textbooks ? how many voices is it going to take to accord saraswathi its rightful place?

        incidentally, i also read a few of azygos’ posts. he is phenomenal, as you have rightly remarked.

        rao sir: thank you for letting me take up so much of your blog space.

        regards,
        melody

         
  4. sreenivasaraos

    March 21, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    sreenivasarao

    i remember commenting in one of your previous blogs abt. egyptian civilisation reg. the simillarities in their temples and ours…i am visiting your site after a long time.
    ..
    a thoroughly researched article and this and the article of azygos should be read to our children-i mean the adults should detoxify themselves , clear all false hood from their systems and let their children know they are neither aryans or dravidians but proud inheritors of the culture of bharat…
    i have to reread the article and melody queen’s comment and maddss info…a lot of info that has to be saved.
    ..
    swami vivekananda in one of his speeches in chennai told people about the falsehood that was the ait theory that had reared its head then…but a hundred years later its unfortunate that the seeds of that falsehood is a fruit bearing tree benefiting the power ful ones -the brown “aryans”…
    i think we should be glad for the internet and websites like tis one-we are members of that brigade called “the voiceless millions”…

    hoping atleast our children would be able to get out of this falsehood that is govt. sponsored history lessons and walk with their heads held high as proud sons and daughters of bharata…
    regards

    Narensomu

     
    • sreenivasaraos

      March 21, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      for narensomu

      madam

      thank you.

      arya aryan.. was written in response to comments on the post
      bharatha_varsha and bharathas ..you may perhaps gain a better perspective of the issues if you read the original post.(i have since added a link).

      melody queen has posted comments and additional information on the subject.i am yet to read them.

      i agree that the text books and other school materials badly need to be updated.

      thanks to internet technology , as you mentioned , we are able to acess information on our history , culture etc. i wish we find an effective way to put that information to good use.

      pl keep talking

      regards

       
      • sreenivasaraos

        March 21, 2015 at 4:06 pm

        for melody queen

        dear melody

        i agree with madss123 .there is a wealth of information particularly on the indus civilization. i had not seen a more comprehensive coverage on the subject, rich with slides, scripts and write up. thanks for posting the link (http://www.harappa.com/indus/).

        narensomu made a point about the school curriculum on indian history. i agree. we are now able to assess an ocean of information on our history, culture etc. thanks to the internet technology. .is there a way we can put that to good use, especially for the benefit of the young ones?

        incidentally, any views on the findings of the study regarding the shift of the saraswathi to the east, dragged by the yamuna? did you come across similar views/findings?

        thanks again

         
  5. sreenivasaraos

    March 21, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    dear sp,
    thanks for digging out a forgotten blog. your pithy comment rises a number of issues.
    i agree with you that the vedic aryans were not a bunch nomads who strayed into the land of seven rivers; but were an indigenous stock of people who lived and flourished in this land for ages. rig veda represented a mature stage of an already existing culture. it was a composite and a pluralistic society too.
    you remarked about the varna and karma too . this is a rather slippery ground for me . i am not sure i know the right answers . let me try to put it across as i understand the issue. i could be wrong too.

    it is difficult to pin point when this caste system entered the indian society . there is also some confusion about the varna and caste systems.

    the rig veda does not mention any castes .the word brahman or br occurs more than a hundred times in the rig-veda. in only one place, the purusha s occurring in the tenth mandala, a relatively late composition, it uses the term br to signify a caste. in all other places, br has nothing to do with caste. again, brahman of the rig-veda is not the brahman, para brahman of the upanishads, the highest principle of existence. brahman used in the rig veda is a term for a high divinity or an another name for agni.

    rig veda does not also employ the term kshatriya anywhere. rajanya is the term to indicate the power of governance of the king or any other power. it appears to me the rig vedic society consisted two types of political orders – one based on kingship and the other based on power of ganas ( rule by groups of people). the term rajanya was not used to signify a caste. in regard to vaisyas and sudras , these terms appear only once in rig veda at its late stage , as i mentioned earlier. the term vaisya , i understand , was used to represent common people of the ganas. the caste system as we know it did not exist in the vedic era.

    satha_ patha _brahmana, taittarya and chandogya upanishads speak of three divisions of society . the sudras as they came to be called later were perhaps craftsmen or artisans spread over the other layers of the society. no man or woman was locked into a trade by birth. members of the same family took to different crafts and trades. the rig veda (ix, 112) says: “a bard i am, my father a leech,/ and my mother is a grinder of corn,/ diverse in means, but all wishing wealth,/ equally we strive for cattle.”

    the braghus were carpenters, makers of chariot-bodies. even among gods, ribhus, were architects, sculptures and carpenters. these seers and saints belonged to all classes of society.

    the society in the buddha’s time speak of three broad division of the society. i think it was only in the later dharma shastras around the second or the third century bce that the partition of the society took some shape. . the texts viewed the society not as a collection of individuals but as a community of communities. it was articulated into specific castes, each with its economic functions and a place in the social hierarchy. an individual’s dharma was derived from the caste of his birth. one of the purposes of the texts seemed to be to keep the members of the society within their assigned roles. it was unfortunate that the varna system was twisted into a grotesque form of oppression and intolerance.

    some scholars say that many tribes unfamiliar to the ancient indians people were called sudras. therefore the sudra-abhiras, the dardas, the kasmiras, and the pattis; the kshatriyas,, the stanaposhikas, the poshakas, the kalingas, and diverse tribes of kiratas; the tomaras, the hansamargas, and the karamanjakas among the kingdoms of bharata varsha were generally called sudras (though they were of a military (kshatriya like) class. similar was the case with yavanas , sakas and others.

    the hindu religion itself became more and more insecure as a result of series of invasions and the threat of foreign religions . some historians say that caste system stabilized around 10th century with the introduction of caste based taxation jizya under which muslims were totally exempt along with some brahmins’ and buddhist monks. the sudras more and more came to be understood as farmers, potters, cobblers etc that formed a support system for the society and were taxed and exploited.

    the theory of karma – whereby one’s status was predetermined by one’s conduct in the past life and could improve in subsequent lives by one’s conduct in the current life – somehow became a rational explanation for the caste system . and it strangely appeared to provide better prospects in the life hereafter.

    it is good the concept is disappearing fast ; though not in the way it should .in any case the entire issue is redundant and irrelevant now.

    thanks for asking.

    regards

     
  6. sreenivasaraos

    March 21, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    dear srinivasrao ji,

    extreamly informative blog , actually the term aryan is gradually relaced with indo europian in last few decades due to different reasosn to refer to set of people speaking similar languages such as vedic indians , avestan iranians later day sakas and kushans ( yu zi in chinese ) and tocharians.

    but in indian school history everyone is lumped together as aryans who inavded india and established caste system without any archiological proof or any such invasion being recorded in texts of that time. this simplification and fossalized minds is root cause of lot many social frictions.

    regards

    Limo

     
    • sreenivasaraos

      March 21, 2015 at 4:14 pm

      ear limo

      thank you for the comments.

      yes, , because of its association with nazi propaganda and the stigma that stuck to it, the word “aryan” is no longer in technical use. presently, white people go under the label caucasian. even in linguistics, “indo-european” replaces aryan.

      as regards writing of text books on indian history and teaching it in indian schools , it is pathetic. there are plenty of other problems related to teaching of indian history to indian children in schools of usa.

      sometime we had a detailed debate on these and the general aspects of history ; and also on the relevance of the book invading the sacred .

      please see oh history ! my history !

      please keep talking

      regards

       
  7. sreenivasaraos

    March 21, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    dear sreenivasa rao sb.

    i read your articles on vedic aryans with interest. but this is
    an exhaustive study. have you published this work some where?
    i am planning to work through the articles again. i think you
    should give summary or conclusions at the end separately. i
    think you concluded as follows.

    the word arya used in rig veda represents a group of people
    purus in general and bharatas a sub group within purus in
    particular. hence purus and bharatas are vedic aryans.
    the word arya used in rig veda is not directly related to the
    aryan race as it is generally believed.

    further while people of aryan race are white skinned, people
    addressed as arya in rig veda are not necessarily white skinned
    for example veda vyasa, dravpati, kunti, satyavati, lord
    sri krishna etc.

    vedic aryans were fighting among themselves and also fought
    with another group of people mentioned as dasa or dasyu who
    were living in aryavarta and adjacent places. also there are
    instances when some dasyu people helped arya group in their
    fight against others.

    the word arya was also used in rig veda to mean noble
    [ sajjana] people apart from being meant to represent purus.
    sir, is my understanding of your articles correct?

    dmr sekhar.

     
    • sreenivasaraos

      March 21, 2015 at 4:17 pm

      dear shri sekhar,

      please excuse me fore the delay in responding to your comment. i have not been keeping well, lately. my visits to sulekha have also grown sparse. i noticed your comment and note just yesterday. sorry.

      yes, you are right;

      it could have been structured in a better fashion. i agree. the post on arya, aryan etc. came about as a response to a comment posted by shri. kushwaha (i think).it was therefore in the nature of explanation of certain issues and not as a self-contained comprehensive note. there were also related comments posted on that and other pages. thanks for taking the trouble to read them together. those could perhaps be put in one place as you suggested; but am not sure if it would serve any purpose.

      as regards publishing, i think the subject deserves a much more detailed and a professional treatment. it would carry some credibility if task is attempted and published by an academic. i am not a scholar by any stretch of imagination. history, philosophy, literature, management of change, management of conflict etc. have been my interests. i cannot claim proficiency in those subjects.
      yes sir, you got it right. it could be viewed that way.

      as regards dasyus, i think the battle of ten kings (dasha rajanya) described in rig veda was between the descendents of yayathi. yadu and turvasu were his sons through devayani, while dhruyu, anu and puru were also his sons through sharmista. it was an intra_clan conflict. both were aryans.

      further the buddha used the term ariya any number of times. sometimes he used the term to imply, “one who strives upward”, and that is to say the noble ones. he used the term anariya to mean ignoble or vulgar. for instance he called extreme indulgence or extreme austerity as anariya and anatta samhita (futile). most other times the term “ariya” was used to mean “noble”. for instance ariya sacchani (noble truths) and ariya patha (eightfold aryan path or the noble path).

      in the later forms of buddhism, the path to enlightenment is graduated into four stages. the arahat (the fourth stage of realization) is a fully enlightened being, having extinguished all defilements. the sotapanna (first stage of realization, also sotapatti-magga-nana) has uprooted wrong view but still has other defilements. the sakadagami and anagami are at the second and third stage of realization, respectively. all four are called ariyas, that is, noble.

      there is a section in the pali cannon (tipitaka) in which the buddha talks about himself. that section is titled ariya_pariyesana sutta. similarly, in the buddhist traditions of burma and sri lanka, the future buddha is generally referred to as ariya metteyya, the noble metteyya.

      i think, in the context i mentioned above, both the terms arya and aryan were exclusively psychological terms or adjectives denoting noble or virtuous , and having very little to do with birth, race, or nationality.

      as you said the theme could be expanded.

      sorry for the delay.

      regards

      p;s: regarding the second law of thermodynamics ; and randomness , probability and self correcting dna that you discussed the other day , i read quite extensively the discussions that i could come across on the net about the subject . it makes an extremely interesting reading. i made few notes too. i am not sure if i am up to the task of posting a worthwhile comment on the issue. let me see if i can make a feeble attempt after i recover fully. sorry to disappoint you.

       

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