Aryam : Some considerations

published on October 23, 2013

Krinvanto vishwam aryam (Make the world noble , Rig Veda, 9.63.5)

In a previous article ‘ Proto-African-Indian Sanskrit and the word Aryam’ (Haindava Keralam, 27/09/2013 ) the present writer had spoken about the misuse and abuse of the word Aryam by Western scholarship, thus leading to the act of evil by Hitler, and hence the urgent responsibility for the Hindus of India and elsewhere, to reclaim this word.

The word Aryam, like the ancient Hindu symbol of the swastika( also horribly misused), symbolised that which was universal, the world view which was Vishwam. Scholars have noted that the word sarvam and vishwam have related but not identical meaning. Sarvam is an undifferentiated whole, while Vishwam is a whole whose parts are differentiated although connected with each other. It was this latter Rig Vedic ideal of Vishwam that distinguised Hindu India from other ancient civilisations which emphasised Sarvam.

The word Aryam/Aryata/Aryatva continued to be used by Hindu scholars down the ages and signified the Rig Vedic call to make a noble world based on Rtam and the social practice of Dharma. It had no racial connotations. For contemporary Hindus it might be useful to also be aware of the linguistic practice of the word Aryam wherever it occurs in the scholarly exegetical tradition. It can be approached at 4 different levels, singly or jointly. This has been pointed out by Dr.BVK Sastry in an important essay (Scholarship on Sanskrit,Tamil,Prakrits – A key prerequisite for understanding Hindu Traditions’ DANAM conference, 2004).

1. level of grammar (vyakarana) 2. level of vocabulary (kosha) 3. level of the specific discipline (vyavahara-paribhasha) 4. state of consciousness of the speaker (chaitanya avastha)

The Rig Vedic hymns were composed in the Chandas metre and they come under the category of sacred speech. Hence, the fourth condition ‘the state of consciousness of the speaker’ is of overwhelming concern for our enquiry, even though the Rishis were careful to compose their utterances in well defined metres. They were not simple spontaneous outpourings but measured expressions invoking the measured realm of the universal cosmos, the Rtam, which is both dynamic and existing in perpetuity as the expression of Sat (Being-Truth). The Devas and Devatas (gods and goddesses) invoked in these hymns are part of that Sat (Being).The linguistic rules of these metres also predate Paninian grammar (the oldest system of grammar in the world) which is the source of the above mentioned 4 items. However, according to scholar Dr. Sastry, Sanskrit (Samskrutam) is covered by rule formulation in the Paninian tradition.

Chandas is the technical name for the language of the Vedas, Generate Bhashaa is the technical name for the crafting of a true and perfect expression. Chandas is sacred and Bhashaa is technically perfected expression. Both are not at par with social language, social historical languages like prakrutham, mleccha , jati-bhasha etc. (private email from Dr. Sastry, Oct.11, 2013).

This would indicate that the Paninian tradition was a continuation of an already sophisticated language grammar that existed during the time of the Rig Vedic rishis. This fact is not surprising since as pointed out by Dr. N.S. Rajaram, the creation of Sanskrit was a well thought out construction by the Rishis (see his second article in the 3 part series ‘Indo-Europeans 2: Natural History of Languages’, Folks Magazine, Dec.18,2012). Dr. Rajaram has also argued that Sanskrit is a proto African Indian language created by that group of our ancestors that left Africa and travelled to India some 65,000 years ago. His articles in Folk Magazine are a preview of his forthcoming book Gene Times and the birth of History. He bases himself on genetics and population studies.

The significance of this thesis (although Aryam per se is not his central concern) is that the word Aryam, firmly embedded in Vedic culture, is also of proto African Indian origin and not from the proto – Indo European construct set up by Western scholars. The forthcoming book, the fourth edition of Vedic Aryans(Rajaram &David Frawley) examines critically the history of the Aryan Invasion theory and related topics.

Dr. Sastry provides a good overview of the linguistic history of the word Aryam as embedded in Indian history:

” Both Chandas and Bhashaa have several centuries of history before Panini, with several documents preserved along with the history in Indian traditions. The word ‘Arya’ figures in this hoary past of Indian languages and grammar deliberations. How many times ‘Arya’ would figure in pre-Paninian literature can be an interesting search and useful data. Buddhists and Jains also used this word in Prakrit and other language flavours. Prior to Panini, more than sixty four grammarians, several Nirukta-karas, and other Darshana Shastrakaaras have deliberated on these topics. Much of this prepaninian resources are to be seriously researched, before making any preferential views favouring either side”(private email from Dr.Sastry, Oct.11, 2013).

The scope of such an enquiry would enlarge our understanding of the Rig Vedic world view than has hitherto been possible.

In our own enquiry (‘Proto-African-Indian Sanskrit and the word Aryam’) the focus has been on the sacred speech of the Rig Veda and the line ‘Krinvanto vishwam Aryam’ (RV,9.63.5) which has been translated as : Make the world noble. This Vedic injunction contains within itself the word Aryam as a package deal of many of the central concepts of the Vedic moral and spiritual world view : Rtam, Yajna, Dharma, Satya. Scholar and historian Prof.Shivaji Singh speaks about these as being the central concepts of the Rig Veda (‘Vedic Culture and its Continuity : New Paradigms and Dimensions’, 2010).

An ongoing continuous unpacking of these central concepts , with emphasis on Dharma as social practice, would be useful in understanding what the message of the Vedic world view is and its contemporary relevance. That has already begun in the work of scholar Dr. Shrinivas Tilak in his book Reawakening to a secular Hindu Nation, 2008 (For a brief account see my previous article ‘Proto-African-Indian Sanskrit and the word Aryam, Haindava Keralam, 27/09/2013).

(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university).

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