The Root of the Word Aryan in Pashto


Abdul Hai Habibi


About 3000 years ago Aryan tribesman left their original abode and came to Pashtunkhwa. Some migrated to India while others went to Iran but some stayed in the lands of Pashtunkhwa. Aryan is the name of an important human race which spread civilization and structured important governments.

Since the people of this race spread from the lands of Pashtunkhwa it is possible their original language remains here or the languages of this area are close to that original language. Gustave Le Bon names this original language in History of Indian Civilization Arik. Here I would like to provide some research on the word Aryan. This ancient word has an old root in Pashto. Contemporary researchers and historians say that when the Aryans arrived to India they called themselves Aryan meaning pure and noble and they called the original settles of India Dasu, whom they expelled from the land. These two names have been mentioned in Rig Veda, the ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns.[i]

W. Hinter, a historian on India, writes: the Aryans considered themselves noble and purebred and they regarded the alien tribes Dasyu and Dasht which means enemy.[ii]

Rig Veda states the Aryans were at war with the Dasyu for a long period of time and in the hymns of Rig Veda they ask for the destruction of Dasyu several times.[iii] It is clear from Rig Veda they called themselves Aryans.[iv] It is also mentioned in Avesta that God created the land of the Aryans and its race.[v] In Avesta the land of the Aryans is known as Aryana Veja and it mentions the 16 nations of this race. Avesta states Aryana Veja was a country which had good water, good air and fertile land.[vi]

Earlier I had written in Tuloo Afghan, that the old word veja, which dates back to the Avesta period, is still in use in the Pashto language and is commonly used in Kandahar. The people of Kandahar say: you will not let me on the aveja of God i.e. the land of God. The present aveja of Pashto is the ancient Aryan word veja which lives in its former form. The word dasu, dasyu, or dasht, which we see in Rig Veda, is dusman in Pashto and dushman in Dari. I believe these words are remnants of the original word in these languages. This word has also been used in Pashto as dasan, dasna and dasney. Khushal Khan says:

      He who is the enemy (dasna) of my children and followers

      I will vanquish his roots and his tribe.


      If there is infighting among the enemy (dasno)

      Stay relaxed and continue with your hunting.

Dasman, dasan, and dasna are all words derived from the same root which in Rig Veda also meant an enemy or antagonist and still has the same meaning.

Let us now go to the main topic. As stated before the people of the Avestian period called themselves Aryans. Ancient historians also refer to them by the same name. Herodotus also talks about the oldness of this word[vii] and Strabon, the Greek historian, mentions Arena.

William Geiger, who is a German historian of the ancient Aryan culture writes: Aryna has been extracted from aar and in Sanskrit aar is still used to mean original. Arya means noble, and the name has been used to describe those who are chaste, noble and righteous.[viii]

The word ara still exists in Pashto and certain tribes used it to mean original.[ix] Formerly this word was very common in Pashto and was used in its literature and its usage and meaning can be seen and explained in the following references. For example  Mullah Alif Hotak, who wrote Bahar-al-Iman in 1610 A.D. states:[x]

      He was distinguished from the beginning

      Even though he was afflicted with grief.

Another Pashto writer, Akbar, whose date of lifespan is not known to me writes:[xi]

      Her original grief has set in my heart

      She revels when she smiles to may rival.

Hence ara has been used in speech and literature and the meaning provided by Geiger is applicable. I do not claim that the word Aryan has been constructed based on the principles of Pashto grammar but it corroborates with present day Pashto grammatical structure. The suffix een is a stretched attribute of Pashto which is used commonly such as zher - zhereen (yellow) and if at the end of the word the letter hay is extracted the word khawra becomes khawreen (earth).

It is possible that my historical remarks, based on knowledge of words and historical documents, may be close to reality and will be beneficial to the historical research of our language. Two other historical researchers, Hinter and Max Mueller state that the word arya has been derived from the infinitive verb of aar and in ancient Sanskrit it was used to mean agriculture, hence arya means farmer.

This view corresponds to what Geiger has said that Aryan means noble and original. From Rig Veda and Avesta it is clear early Aryans considered agriculture to be a noble vocation. For example it is stated in Veda: A knowledgeable and bright person works with a yoke and engages in agriculture.[xii] This shows that among earlier Aryans agriculture was considered a prestigious work. Avesta provides good practices for agriculture and every farmer was considered noble and every noble person a farmer, therefore farming and nobleness were related. This necessity added the meaning of farmer to the word Aryan which originally meant noble. This nearness of usage of the word is a result of the agricultural spirit of the Aryans and it corresponds with the writings of historical researchers.[xiii]














[i] The ancient history of India, K.M. Panika, Vol. 1, p. 4.

[ii] The ancient history of the people of India. W.. Hinter.

[iii] Panika’s old history of India, p. 5.

[iv] Rig Veda, Vol. 3-207.

[v] Yasht, Chapter 9, para 56; Chapter 10, para 4,13; Chapter 13, para 87.

[vi] The history of Iran, p. 11.

[vii] Herodotus, Vol. 5, p. 62.

[viii] Civilization of eastern Aryans. Vol. 1, p. 65.

[ix] Pure Pashto, p. 42 and Pashto Dictionary.

[x] Handwritten manuscript of Mullah Alif Hotak.

[xi] Handwritten pages of Akbar’s poetry.

[xii] Yajir Veda, Chapter 12, part 67, 69 and 70.

[xiii] Toloo Afghan, 1940, First issue of 17th year, p. 50.