What is the Aryan race?

What Does Aryan race Mean

We explain what the Aryan race is, the origin of this concept, the controversy of its use and its relationship with Nazism in history.

Contrary to the Nazi discourse, the descendants of the Aryans are also the Indo-Europeans.

What is the Aryan race?

The term Aryan race is quite controversial today, due to its use in different racist discourses throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. However, to know exactly what he refers to, we must first know where the term Aryan or Aryan comes from.


It is a word belonging to one of the oldest known Indo-European languages , the classical language of India, Sanskrit . It is related to the Airya voices of Avestan and Ariya of ancient Persian, two languages of the Proto-Indo-Iranian people, that is, of the easternmost branch of the Indo-European language family, which are typical of the primitive peoples of Europe , the Middle East and the India.

That is why many linguists and anthropologists who studied antiquity in the 19th and 20th centuries , assumed that "Aryans" was the name by which the ancient peoples who inhabited the region of India and Mesopotamia, that is, the Indo-Aryans and the Iranians, called themselves.

This idea was reinforced by the fact that, from ancient times, the ancient practitioners of the religion of Zoroastrianism, the ancient Persians, called themselves Aryans . In fact, the name Iran does not mean anything other than "land of the Aryans." There is also evidence of the use of this term in ancient India, associated with the Vedic civilization of around 1500 BC. C.

Much of this was learned in the 19th century, when linguists demonstrated that all modern European languages and a good number of Middle Eastern and Indian languages have a common root, the remote Indo-European language. Thus also arose the idea that the Aryans had been an ethnically pure and original people , from which the different white races would come.

It can serve you: Cultural identity

The "Aryan race" in history

This theory provided remote scientific support to the idea of the difference and superiority of human races , which was widespread at the time. Thus, it gave rise to numerous racist, nationalist and imperialist modes of thought. There were those who claimed that the Aryans came from the Russian steppes, Scandinavia or even Germany.

This last version was of particular interest to the fascist regime of Adolf Hitler in the first third of the 20th century, in which he defended through a political interpretation of Darwin's evolutionary theories , the superiority of the Aryan race over the others, and therefore their right to exterminate them.

But the Nazis weren't the only ones to use the term to their advantage. For example, in the British Raj in India, the colonial order was able to be maintained because the British allied themselves with the higher castes of Indian society , largely by appealing to a supposed sense of ancestral ethnicity, that is, the fact of supposedly descended from the ancient Aryans.

Much more recent studies insist that, if there were any real descendants of the Aryans, it would be the Indo - European peoples of the territories of present-day Iran, Afghanistan and Kurdistan. These discoveries were possible in free investigations of the colonialist or imperialist culture of the time.

In other words, they would not be exclusively the Germanic peoples, as the Nazis proposed. But since the Aryans lacked writing, it is impossible to know for sure what they called themselves before dividing into different cultural families.

However, thanks to the association of this word with racism and Nazism, it is currently quite discredited. Its use is no longer common even within academic studies of the Indo-European language. The same happened with the swastika, an ancient symbol of the Aryan peoples, but today associated with intolerance , racist fanaticism and xenophobia .

Go up