Arya: Race or a Linguistic Group?

The term Aryan denotes a linguistic group and not a race. Their language Vedic Sanskrit has definite relationship with major languages of Europe and Asia. Scholars call this group of languages as Indo-European and the people speaking these languages as Indo-Europeans or Indo-Aryans. On this basis, it is postulated that Aryans spoke common language, shared a common home and dispersed in all directions including India. However, there are no written / archaeological evidences on Aryan migration and this historical fact has been established on the basis of comparative philology only.

Vedic Sanskrit is thus one of the oldest languages, originated outside India and gradually became the primary literary language of the Hinduism. The oldest Sanskrit literature dates back to 1500 BC, while classical Sanskrit language dates back to 4th century BC (Panini’s Grammar).

We note here that there are 6000 languages in the world spoken today. They have been classified into various language family groups. The dominant language family of northern part of Indian sub-continent is Indo-Aryan which is a sister branch of the Iranian family. Both these branches are considered to belong to the larger family of families called Indo-European. Sanskrit is the longest established language of this entire family.

The above discussion makes it clear that Aryans were not some sort of people belonging to a superior race. The Nazis grossly misappropriated the term “Aryan” for a race for a sinister objective. Hitler segregated the population of Germany on the basis of whether they were superior Aryans or inferior Jews or Gypsies. His pseudo-scientific belief that the Aryan race of Germanic stock had been endowed with extraordinary mind and beauty led to holocaust finally.

The question is- What was the basis of such belief?

The key reason of this historic distortion was the writings of the European scholars of 19th century who were too much fascinated with the term “Aryan”. They lived at a time when European imperialism dominated the world. They were obsessed with the desire to explain to the world that the Europeans were superior people, and this superiority of mind, body and their scientific prowess owed to their Aryan origin. This coupled with some important linguistic research in India during late 18th century gave rise to a misconception about the racial superiority of the Aryans and the intellectuals of both India and Europe were preoccupied with the glory of Aryans. In this way, the holocaust by Hitler is nothing but a manifestation of the power of poisonous intellectualism of a misguided generation.

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