The Cyrus Cylinder: Asserted by scholars to be the world’s first human rights edict, the Cyrus cylinder was enshrined into law by Achaemenid Emperor Cyrus the Great of Iran
The Arya were a pastoral people who lived in Bronze Age Asia, who migrated amongst places as distant as the steppes of Iran and the inner mainland of China, the foothills of the Ural Mountains in present day Russia, and the vast expanses of present day India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. They are best known as expert horse riders and charioteers, and although they were illiterate, they had an extensive oral tradition of memorising and reciting texts such as the literature of the Vedas and the Avesta, a tradition which has survived in some places to this day. Even as time passed and they relinquished their Central Asian pastoralism for an urban lifestyle, the great Iranian King of Kings, Darius I, still referred to the language spoken by him and his people as ‘Arya’ in the Behistun Inscriptions. This language is now referred to simply as ‘Old Persian’. The kings of the Vedic Civilisation in the early first millenium BC referred to India as Aryavarta, ‘Land of the Arya’. Today their descendants consist of the Indo-Aryans of India and Pakistan, as well as the Iranian and Nuristani peoples.
The word ‘Aryan’ was derived from Vedic Sanskrit arya, ‘noble’, and was what the speakers of the Indo-Iranian languages used to refer to themselves in Sanskrit and Avestan recitations. However recently it was misused, and its meaning was twisted into a racial denomination in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It has been abused and pejorative in the western world ever since, being used to promote separation and violence.
To this day, from China to the Middle East to the Indian Subcontinent, in Kurdistan, Kashmir, Balochistan, in the Indo-Pakistan conflict, the war in Afghanistan, we have seen enough separation and violence. We are divided by religion and politics, and when that is not enough we look for reasons in ethnicity, sects and castes. This blog tries to not only be an academic journal but also is an attempt at finding the common roots of our people – that we may have different religions, we may be Hindu, Muslim, Shia or Sunni, Zoroastrian, Christian or Sikh, and we may speak different languages, Dogri, Kashmiri, Punjabi, Sindhi, Gujarati, Urdu, Pashto, Kurdish, Persian, Ossetian and so on, but at the core of our differences lies the lost Aryan heart; the most noble character of all, of striving for tolerance, peace and friendship.
30 September 2016