The Aryan Civilization

Who were these Aryans? Most historians believe that the Aryans related to people who migrated into Iran, Irak, Ireland and other parts of Europe. In many ways, the Aryans were different from what we know about the Indus Valley dwellers. First, they were no highly organized. The Aryans were nomads rather than settled down agriculturalists.

Unlike the dwellers of the Indus Valley, the Aryans used horses and chariots. It is clear that the Aryans brought with them to India different gods, different rituals and a different language. The Aryan language evolved into Sanskrit, the official language of the Hindu tradition.

The word Aryan is derived from the Sanskrit word Arya, which means “noble one”. The Aryans loved their language. Sanskrit means “well formed”, and the Aryans believed it to be the perfect linguistic embodiment of the nature of reality. Some Western scholars have even believed that Sanskrit was the original language of humanity.

Sanskrit is closely connected to many European languages. Linguists speak of the Indo-European language family. We can see the similarities in many words. For example, the Sanskrit word for god is “deiva”, akin to the English word divine or deity, or the Latin word deus.

The Aryans and the Vedas

Since the Aryans were migratory, they left in the way of archeological evidence. Almost everything we know about them is based in what is now a collection of writings called the Vedas. This is the oldest and most sacred of Hindu scriptures. Originally and for thousand of years the Vedas existed only in oral tradition, preserved by special memorization techniques by Aryan priests.

The Vedas were never intended to be written. The oral word as contrasted with the written word is considered extremely powerful and potentially dangerous. Only the priests were competent enough to recite the Vedas effectively without causing a great danger. Old Hindu law even stated that if a lower cast person were to hear the Vedas, his ears should be filled with melted lead.

Initially horrible punishments were also prescribed for the priests who manifested its contents to outsiders. The Vedas was finally put in writing by the priestly cast after the arrival of the Muslims in India in the early modern period. Still, priests were not persuaded to show the contents of the Vedas until the late 18th and 19th centuries.

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