The use of the term aryan however is still under much

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The use of the term Aryan, however, is still under much debate among scholars of Indian History. Derived from arya, a Sanskrit term which means “noble” or “pure,” the word Aryan is loaded with the notion of superiority over the indigenous non-Aryan people. Originally, these new immigrants used the term in their sacred hymns, which mentioned victorious aryawho successfully subjugated their enemies.19This established the first association between these people and the term, and hence, it has been accepted in Western literature to use the term Aryan when referring to the Aryan-speaking groups during this time of Indian history. The more cautious historians, especially those in India, suggest some modified terms for these people, such as Indo-Aryan or Vedic-Aryan. The latter derives from the word Veda, which refers to the sacred books of Indo-Aryan people.Similarly, the origin of the Indo-Aryans is also in much debate among scholars of Indian history, and so are the actual dates of their immigration to India. Some suggest the Aryans who had migrated K11155_Jin_Ch03.indd 348/16/12 4:03 PM
Chapter 3: Ancient India 35from Central Asia may have had direct contact with the local Indus people and may even have con-quered the Harappan cities and settlements in northern India, whereas others insist on a native Hindu identity of these Aryans—the newly immigrated groups were assimilated into the more refined Indus tradition.20The latter view is especially popular among the historians in India.21In this sense, the Aryans continued the Hindu tradition that had developed during the early Indus River Civilization.In either case, whether by migration or infusion, the political and cultural dominance of the Indo-Aryans and their culture became obvious around 1000 BCE. The Aryan-speaking groups became politically privileged elites. Their culture, represented by a vast body of their sacred texts known col-lectively as the Vedas, prevailed in northern India. The texts of the Vedasare an invaluable source for our understanding of the era, and the word Vedic, an adjective form of Veda, is used to refer to both the people and the era. Although it is in dispute whether the introduction of horses, spiked wheels, chariots, and metal-tipped weapons were exclusive to the Vedicperiod, few would argue against the importance of Sanskrit, an Indo-Aryan language, and its representative literature, the Vedas, to the political and cultural development of India.Unlike the study of the Indus Valley Civilization, which relied heavily on the excavation of the remains of ancient sites, our understanding of the Vedic period essentially relies on the interpretation of the sacred texts of the Vedas. Different interpretations gave rise to different theories. For example, some believe that these Vedasactually tell the story of Aryan victories over their enemies, whose cities they conquered and destroyed. The Aryan gods, riding in a chariot drawn by two or three horses,

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