Aryan, Arya and Ayyanar

Aryan, Arya and Ayyanar



The word Arya confused many scholars. It might just be a compound word in Telugu [a Dravidian language] that is formed from Ari + Aiya = Arya which in Tamil and Malayalam [Dravidian languages] becomes Aryan. Ari means the outer limit or boundary and Aiya is a suffix to names. Arya thus means the man who guards the boundary of a village.


The words Arya and Aryans are enigmatic in that the clear meaning of these words is elusive. These words are used in the Rig Veda and other Hindu scriptures which are composed /written in Sanskrit an Indo-European language. Sanskrit and the Vedas are contemporary to Harappan culture [Indus Valley Civilization] and its times. But there is a problem. Vedic people appear to be nomadic rural people where as Harappan cities and the technologies suggest that Harappans are Urban. Vedas praise the Sindhu and Saraswati Rivers which are in the Harappan region.


Asko Purpola and Iravatham Mahadevan the experts on Harappan studies think that Harappans are essentially Dravidian and interpret the Harappan script and symbols in terms of Tamil language which is the most ancient language of India. The burial practice of Harappans and the Tali Bottu [mangala sutram] corroborate the view that Harappans are Dravidians. Excavations at Nagipatnam [or Nagapatnam] in South India show pot shreds that are similar to those found in Harappan cities. Further the fact that some people in Baluchistan and Afghanistan [the core area of Harappan culture] still speak in Brahui a Dravidian language.


At the peak of Harappan culture it is estimated that around five million people lived there in the region of Indus Valley. Two corpses are found in Lothal a Harappan city in Gujarat of which one is identified as Egyptian and the other as Syrian. The fire worship [Yagya] of Vedas indicates that Persians were also participants in the Harappan civilization. The word Hindu is used by Persians for Sindhu in a similar way they pronounce Asura as Ahura. Maga Brahmins of India are from Persia. It must be remembered that Agriculture in the Harappan region started around 8000 BCE, pottery was developed between 5500 BCE to 3300 BCE and metallurgy was developed between 3300 BCE to 2000 BCE. Harappan culture developed in phases and several tribes other than Dravidians might have settled in the Harappan region, some tribes permanently.


The recent studies on the genetics of caste by Bamshad and his team indicate that Brahmins carry European genes via Y-Chromosomes where as mtDNA of all the castes studied are proto Asian. It means that some European males might have migrated to India and settled with Dravidian [proto Asian] women. When did they migrate? The clue comes from Sanskrit a refined Indo-European language as the word itself means. From which language Sanskrit is refined? Sanskrit is refined from Prakrit which means a natural language. The languages spoken in North India and particularly in North West India are branches of Prakrit. Sanskrit contains both Dravidian and European words and is built on Tamil lexicon. As prakrit is also oldest language it is reasonable to assume that some Europeans might have migrated to Harappa. Europeans were just hunter/gatherers during 8000 BCE to 5500 BCE. Thus the Europeans who migrated to Harappa should be male migrant labors who worked in Agriculture that is in the rural settlements of Harappa where they might have communicated in a mixed language with local Dravidians thus evolving Prakrit and later Sanskrit.


In the initial tribal societies marriages were not there and the tribes are headed by women and that too are ferocious women. They define the outer limits of a settlement/ agricultural lands and guard them. Some of these women are deified and worshiped. The female deities Poleramma, Yellamma etc are such deities who are worshiped even today in Andhra Pradesh. In fact both the words Poli and Yella mean the limit or the boundary in Telugu. Female village deities are popular through out India and particularly in South India whose temples are just out side the village at the boundary of the village.


The words Aiya, Ayya, Iah have the same meaning in Telugu a Dravidian language which is used as a suffix to male names as a mark of respect and or affection for example Subbayya or Subbaiah. Amma is suffixed to females as equivalent to Ayya. Ayya actually means father and Amma means mother. What is the meaning of the word Arya in terms of Telugu? The Telugu word Ari has the same meaning as that of Poli or Yella meaning the outer boundary limit generally with reference to a village boundary. Now Ari + Aiya becomes the compound word Ariya or simply Arya meaning that the male guard of the outer boundary of a village. This also means that male guards replaced female guards of village boundaries at some time during the development of Indus Valley Civilization that is Harappan culture. In Tamil language [and also in Malayalam] some words particularly names end with the alphabet N. Thus the name or title Raja in Telugu is same as Rajan in Tamil or Malayam. Thus the Telugu word Arya becomes Aryan in Tamil and Malayalam.


The Telugu words Garu or Varu are also added to other words as a mark of respect. For example the word for father Ayya [in Tamil or Malayalam the equivalent will be Ayyan] may be compounded with Gaaru or Vaaru. Ayyan + Garu becomes Ayyangaru or Ayyangar. Ayya + Vaaru becomes Ayyoru cognate with Ayyer or Aiyar. Ayyangar and Ayyar are the names of two sects of Brahmins in Tamil Nadu. Ayyan + Vaaru becomes the Ayyanvar or simply Ayyanar.


Ayyanar worship is known in Tamil Nadu. Wikipedia describes,” Ayyanar or Sathanar worship is a very ancient ancestral clan based worship system linked to nature and fertility worship. The festivals of Ayyanars are celebrated in sacred groves during spring season by all related clan. Ayyanar shrines are usually located at the peripheries or boundaries of rural villages and the deity is seen riding a horse with a sword. Most officiating priests are non-Brahmins and derive from local lineages that had initiated the cult centers generations ago……. Aiyanar worship represents a non-Brahminical form of Vedic worship. The Ayyanar temple preists are often from the Velar caste; the potters of Tamil Nadu…….. Aiyanar is often pictured riding on a white horse, fighting against demons and evils Gods that are threatening the village…… Aiyanar is a family Deity to many Vadama Brahmins a sub sect of the Iyer community.


It now appears clear that Arya and Ayyanar are one and the same people who were the guards of the village boundaries during ancient times probably the times since the pottery is developed. Aryan in Tamil and Malayalam is same as Arya in Telugu. The use of Sanskrit an Indo-European language by Ayyar and Ayyangar Brahmins suggests that Aryan, Ayyar, Ayyangars are Indo- European people. Thus the Vedic Aryans are Indo-European people of Harappa who are essentially rural and nomadic. They might have acquired horses around 2000 BCE from other nomadic tribes from Central Asia or Arabia which made them superior to their masters viz Asura  whom Vedas describe as Demons. It may be noted that Asura people are the original Brahmins as per Rig Veda for example the Vedic story of Vrittasura. Horse riding Aryans or Ayyanars are conspicuous by their absence in the Harappan figurines and amulets which suggests that they were not prominent in the urban culture of Harappa. Migration of Ayyanars [or Aryans] to the present day Tamil Nadu from North West might have taken centuries.


Thus Aryans might be just the guards of the boundaries of the rural areas of Harappa.



[6] Narasimha Reddy, P, “ Polysemous Dictionary in Telugu”, Pratibha Publications, Hyderabad, 2006.

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