From Academic Kids

This article is about the Sanskrit term Arya. For the English term Aryan, see Aryan. For linguistic uses, see Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Iranian languages and Indo-European languages.

Arya (árya-) is a Sanskrit term used by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and others. It means "master, lord" or can refer to any Vaishya. In Avestan, the cognate word is an n-stem, airyan-.

The honorific term -ji (which is used for example in Ghandhji), is derived from Arya (through the Pali aya or aja and Apabhramsa aje).

The important Sanskrit lexicon Amarakosha (ca. 450 AD) defines Aryan as: "An Arya is one who hails from a noble family, of gentle behavior and demeanor, good-natured and of righteous conduct. (mahakula kulinarya sabhya sajjana sadhavah.)"

Arya is also a term that has been used by Indians to refer to themselves. The Sanskrit texts use the word Arya (not Hindu) for Indians. The more common term Hindu (from Sindhu-river), on the other hand, was first used by foreigners to designate Indians. Central and North India was at one time called Aryavarta ("land of Aryas"). Vivekananda remarked: " is the Hindus who have all along called themselves Aryas. Whether of pure or mixed blood, the Hindus are Aryas; there it rests." (Vivekananda, Complete Works vol.5)

Aryasanga is the name of a Buddhist philosopher and author ([1] (, and Aryabhata is the name of an Indian mathematician.

Religious and spiritual uses

The term Arya is often used in Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Zoroastrian texts. In the spiritual context it can be applied to Rishis or to someone who has has mastered the four noble truths and entered upon the spiritual path. The religions of India are sometimes called collectively "Arya Dharma", a term that includes the religions that originated in India (e.g. Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma), Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism). The term Aryan can also be applied to an approach to religion or to religious systems that are similar to Hinduism or Buddhism (e.g. Taoism, Paganism, Zoroastrianism). Swami Dayananda founded the religious organisation Arya Samaj in 1875. In Buddhism, the four noble truths are called the Arya Satyani (catvAri-Arya-satyAni), the noble eightfold path is called the Aryamarga (Arya-ashtANgika-mArga, in Pali:Ariyamagga).

The Ramayana describes Rama as: arya sarva samascaiva sadaiva priyadarsanah "Arya, who worked for the equality of all and was dear to everyone."

According to Swami Vivekananda, "A child materially born is not an Aryan; the child born in spirituality is an Aryan.” He further elaborated, referring to the Manu Smriti: "Says our great law-giver, Manu, giving the definition of an Aryan, "He is the Aryan, who is born through prayer". Every child not born through prayer is illegitimate, according to the great law-giver. The child must be prayed for. Those children that come with curses, that slip into the world, just in a moment of inadvertence, because that could not be prevented - what can we expect of such progeny?..."(Swami Vivekananda, Complete Works vol.8)

The term Arya is used 36 times in 34 hymns in the Rig Veda. According to Talageri (2000, The Rig Veda-A historical analysis) "the particular Vedic Aryans of the Rigveda were one section among these Purus, who called themselves Bharatas." Thus it is possible, according to Talageri, that at one point of time Arya did refer to a specific tribe.

See also


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