Who were Aryans?
Meaning of Veda
यः समिधा य आहुती यो वेदेन ददाश मर्तो अग्नये | यो नमसा सवध्वरः ||
The above Shloka from Rig-Veda 8.19.5 was translated by many scholars. The first translation was done by Griffith (1888). It literally means:
“The mortal who hath ministered to Agni with oblation, fuel, ritual lore, and reverence, skilled in sacrifice.”
Griffith translated वेदेन as “ritual lore”. Veda means to know. Veda means knowledge. In Sanskrit Vidya is Knowledge and it derived from Veda. Veda does not mean to be the mantras or samhitas or sholkas only. It is knowledge and conscience. Avesta which is the oldest Zoroastrian Text has shown some similarity with Rig Veda.
Aryans a Linguistic Group
It was initially proposed by the German scholar Max Muller that Aryans belonged to a race. However, he later detracted and declared emphatically that the term Aryans, in scientific language, is utterly inapplicable to race. Aryan means language and nothing but language. It is now accepted that Aryan was not a race but was basically a linguistic group.
Sanskrit was the language of Aryans
In 1786, Sir William Jones, in his famous address to the Asiatic society of Bengal, tried to prove definite relation between the Vedic Sanskrit and some of the principle languages of Europe and Asia such as Greek, Latin, Gothic, Celtic, Lithuanian, German , Persian, etc. The scholars have given a common name Indo-European to this group of languages and the people speaking them were known as the Indo-Europeans or Indo-Aryans.
On this basis it has been surmised that Aryans spoke the common language and shared the common home, dispersed or emigrated to various parts of the world, including India.
The Aryan migration of India is recorded in no written document, and it cannot yet be traced archaeologically, although recently some advance have been achieved in this respect too, but it is nevertheless firmly established as a historical fact on the basis of comparative philogy.
Sanskrit and Indo-European Languages
The Indo-European languages of which Sanskrit in its Vedic form; is one of the oldest members, originated outside India, and the only possible way by which a language belonging to this family could be carried all the way to India was the migration of the people speaking it.
Sanskrit as a Scheduled Language and Classical Language
Sanskrit is one of the 22 languages of India included in the 8th schedule. In 2005, Sanskrit was made India’s official classical language. The first classical language was Tamil, which was given this status in 2004. India has 4 official classical languages “Tamil (2004), Sanskrit (2005), Kannada & Telugu (2008). Sanskrit is primary literary language of Hinduism and early texts of Buddhism The Classical Sanskrit is recorded dating back to 4th century BC (Panini’s Grammar). The Pre Classical Sanskrit is Vedic Sanskrit in which the oldest literature dates back to as old as 1500 BC. Sanskrit is a descendent of Proto Indo-European languages. Avesta which is the oldest Zoroastrian Text has shown some similarity with Rig Veda.