The Christian, as a follower of Jesus, does not have the option of racism. Jesus was no racist. He told His followers to love enemies--not to kill them. He sought to "draw all men" to Himself (John 12:32). "He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth" (Acts 17:26).
The "Aryan race" is a concept in European culture that was influential in the period of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It derives from the idea that the original speakers of the Indo-European languages constitute a distinctive race. In its best-known incarnation, under Nazism, it was argued that the earliest Aryans were identical to Nordic people. Belief in the superiority of the "Aryan race" is sometimes referred to as Aryanism. This should not be confused with the unrelated Christian religious belief known as Arianism.
Origin and background of the concept
Houston Stewart Chamberlain
In Sanskrit, the term Aryan means "noble" as it applied within the context of Hinduism. The word Aryan is derived from arya, which meant "exalted" or "noble one" in the Indian and Persian languages. Arya appears in the ancient texts of Hinduism and Zoroastrianism, known as the Rigveda and Gathas, respectively. The term is also found in Old Persian inscriptions and other Persian sources from approximately 500 BCE onwards. The word Iran, literally "Land of the Aryans", is derived from Aryanam as well (see also: Airyanem Vaejah). Seventy percent of those living in modern Iran are native speakers of Iranian/Aryan dialects. India is also referred to as Aryavarta, which means "Abode of the Aryans". Indo-Aryan speaking people form majority of the population of northern India.
Since, in the 19th century, the Indo-Iranians were the most ancient known speakers of "Indo-European" languages, the word Aryan was adopted to refer not only to the Indo-Iranian people, but also to Indo-European speakers as a whole, including the Romans, Greeks, the Germans, Balts, Celts and Slavs. It was argued that all of these languages originated from a common root - now known as Proto-Indo-European - spoken by an ancient people who must have been the original ancestors of the European, Iranian, and Indo-Aryan peoples.
The ethnic group composed of the Proto-Indo Europeans and their modern descendants was termed the Aryans. This usage was common in the late 19th and early 20th century. An example of an influential best-selling book that reflects this usage is the 1920 book The Outline of History by H.G. Wells. In it he also wrote of the accomplishments of the Aryan people, stating how they "learned methods of civilization" while "Sargon II and Sardanapalus were ruling in Assyria and fighting with Babylonia and Syria and Egypt". As such, Wells suggested that the Aryans had eventually "subjugated the whole ancient world, Semitic, Aegean and Egyptian alike".
It should be noted that the usage of Aryan to mean "all Indo-Europeans" is now regarded by most people as "obsolete", though it is still seen occasionally and some people continue this usage. In today's English, "Aryan", if used at all, is normally synonymous to Indo-Iranian, or in particular Proto-Indo-Iranian. The idea that the north Europeans were the "purest" of these people was later theorised by the Comte de Gobineau and by other writers, most notably his disciple Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who wrote of an "Aryan race" – those who spoke Indo-European languages and were claimed to be the "noblest" of people.
Contemporary anthropologists who believe in the existence of an ancient Aryan "race" generally have the opinion that its closest descendants today are the Iranic-peoples and the North Indian peoples, (those who speak Iranian or Indo-Aryan languages and are of Iranic stock), not the Europeans or the Germans; so possibly the Ossetes and Slavs, but not the Nordic race with which they were equated in Nazi ideology. Modern Iranians ethnicity and stock are considered "Aryan", and many north Indians are considered to be "Aryans". However, genetic testings shows that Iranians cluster much more closely with Danish and Italians rather than with Indians. The Aryan race is mentioned in Old Persian sources from around 500 BC onwards. During the Persian empire and under the ancient Persian rulers all peoples as well as their customs and beliefs were tolerated and respected. It should also be noted that Islamic Iran as well as India have not used racial policies in similair ways like Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler, as Aryan has the meaning of noble, exalted or spiritual one in these languages. However Because of its association with racism, the words Aryan and Aryan race today carry extremely negative connotations.
Gene clusters from Cavalli-Sforza.
Interpretations of the term
Movie poster from 1916 portraying William S. Hart as an "Aryan" (here meaning "Anglo-Saxon") whose instinct for racial solidarity leads him to protect a threatened woman because "she is of my people".
During the 19th century, it was commonly believed that the Aryan race originated in the southwestern steppes of present-day Russia, and including the Caucasus Mountains. The Steppe theory of Aryan origins was not the only one circulating during the nineteenth century, however. Many British, American and German scholars argued that the Aryans originated in ancient Germany or Scandinavia, or at least that in those countries the original Aryan ethnicity had been preserved. This idea was widespread in both intellectual and popular culture by the early twentieth century.
In India, under the British Empire, the British rulers also used the idea of a distinct Aryan race in order to ally British power with the Indian caste system. It was widely claimed that the Aryans were white people who had invaded India in ancient times, subordinating the darker skinned native Dravidian peoples, who were pushed to the south. Thus the foundation of Hinduism was ascribed to northern invaders who had established themselves as the dominant castes, and who were supposed to have created the sophisticated Vedic texts. Much of these theories were simply conjecture fuelled by European imperialism (see white man's burden). This styling of an "Aryan invasion" by British colonial fantasies of racial supremacy lies at the origin of the fact that all discussion of historical Indo-Aryan migrations or Aryan and Dravidian "races" remains highly controversial in India to this day, and does continue to affect political and religious debate. Some Dravidians, and supporters of the Dalit movement, most commonly Tamils, claim that the worship of Shiva is a distinct Dravidian religion, to be distinguished from Brahminical "Aryan" Hinduism. In contrast, the Indian nationalist Hindutva movement argues that no Aryan invasion or migration ever occurred, asserting that Vedic beliefs emerged from the Indus Valley Civilisation, which pre-dated the supposed advent of the Indo-Aryans in India, and is identified as a likely candidate for a Proto-Dravidian culture.
These debates were addressed within the Theosophical movement founded by Helena Blavatsky and Henry Olcott at the end of the nineteenth century. This was an early kind of New Age philosophy, that took inspiration from Indian culture, in particular from the Hindu reform movement the Arya Samaj founded by Swami Dayananda.
Blavatsky argued that humanity had descended from a series of "Root Races", naming the fifth root race (out of seven) the "Aryan" Race. She thought that the Aryans originally came from Atlantis and described the Aryan races with the following words: "The Aryan races, for instance, now varying from dark brown, almost black, red-brown-yellow, down to the whitest creamy colour, are yet all of one and the same stock -- the Fifth Root-Race -- and spring from one single progenitor, (...) who is said to have lived over 18,000,000 years ago, and also 850,000 years ago -- at the time of the sinking of the last remnants of the great continent of Atlantis.".
Blavatsky used "Root Race" as a technical term to describe human evolution over the large time periods in her cosmology. However, she also claimed that there were modern non-Aryan peoples who were inferior to Aryans. She regularly contrasts "Aryan" with "Semitic" culture, to the detriment of the latter, asserting that Semitic peoples are an offshoot of Aryans who have become "degenerate in spirituality and perfected in materiality.". She also states that some peoples are "semi-animal creatures". These latter include "the Tasmanians, a portion of the Australians and a mountain tribe in China." There are also "considerable numbers of the mixed Lemuro-Atlantean peoples produced by various crossings with such semi-human stocks -- e.g., the wild men of Borneo, the Veddhas of Ceylon, classed by Prof. Flower among Aryans (!), most of the remaining Australians, Bushmen, Negritos, Andaman Islanders, etc.".
Despite this, Blavatsky's admirers claim that her thinking was not connected to fascist or racialist ideas, asserting that she believed in a Universal Brotherhood of humanity and wrote that "all men have spiritually and physically the same origin" and that "mankind is essentially of one and the same essence". On the other hand, in The Secret Doctrine, Blavatsky states: "Verily mankind is 'of one blood,' but not of the same essence."
Blavatsky connects physical race with spiritual attributes constantly throughout her works:
"Esoteric history teaches that idols and their worship died out with the Fourth Race, until the survivors of the hybrid races of the latter (Chinamen, African negroes, &c.) gradually brought the worship back. The Vedas countenance no idols; all the modern Hindu writings do".
"The intellectual difference between the Aryan and other civilized nations and such savages as the South Sea Islanders, is inexplicable on any other grounds. No amount of culture, nor generations of training amid civilization, could raise such human specimens as the Bushmen, the Veddhas of Ceylon, and some African tribes, to the same intellectual level as the Aryans, the Semites, and the Turanians so called. The 'sacred spark' is missing in them and it is they who are the only inferior races on the globe, now happily -- owing to the wise adjustment of nature which ever works in that direction -- fast dying out. Verily mankind is 'of one blood,' but not of the same essence. We are the hot-house, artificially quickened plants in nature, having in us a spark, which in them is latent".
According to Blavatsky, "the MONADS of the lowest specimens of humanity (the "narrow-brained" savage South-Sea Islander, the African, the Australian) had no Karma to work out when first born as men, as their more favoured brethren in intelligence had".
She also prophecies of the destruction of the racial "failures of nature" as the future "higher race" ascends:
"Thus will mankind, race after race, perform its appointed cycle-pilgrimage. Climates will, and have already begun, to change, each tropical year after the other dropping one sub-race, but only to beget another higher race on the ascending cycle; while a series of other less favoured groups -- the failures of nature -- will, like some individual men, vanish from the human family without even leaving a trace behind".
Guido von List (and his followers such as Lanz von Liebenfels) later took up some of Blavatsky's ideas, mixing her ideology with nationalistic and fascist ideas; this system of thought became known as Ariosophy. Such views also fed into the development of Nazi ideology. However, the theosophical publications such as The Aryan Path were strongly opposed to the Nazi usage, attacking racialism.
The theory of the Northern origins of the Aryans was particularly influential in Germany. It was widely believed that the Vedic Aryans were ethnically identical to the Goths, Vandals and other ancient Germanic peoples of the Völkerwanderung. This idea was often intertwined with anti-Semitic ideas. The distinctions between the "Aryan" and "Semitic" peoples were based on the linguistic and ethnic history described above. In this way Semitic peoples came to be seen as a foreign presence within "Aryan" societies, and the Semitic peoples were often pointed to as the cause of conversion and destruction of social order and values leading to culture and civilization's downfall by Nazi and Pre-Nazi theorists such as Alfred Rosenberg, Arthur de Gobineau and Houston Stewart Chamberlain. According to the proto-Nazi and Nazi ideologists adherent to Ariosophy, the Aryan was a master race that built a civilization that dominated the world from Atlantis about ten thousand years ago. This alleged civilization declined when other parts of the world were colonized after the 8,000 BC destruction of Atlantis because the inferior races mixed with the Aryans but it left traces of their civilization in Tibet (via Buddhism), and even in Central America, South America, and Ancient Egypt. (The date of 8,000 BC for the destruction of Atlantis in Ariosophy is 2,000 years later than the date of 10,000 BC given for this event in Theosophy.)
A 1941 poster by Boris Efimov, portraying Goebbels as a mouse-like figure, countering Nazi propaganda about the Aryan race
A complete, and highly speculative and racist theory of Aryan and anti-Semitic history can be found in Alfred Rosenberg's publication, Race and Race History. Rosenberg's account of ancient history is very well researched, but his conclusions require great leaps in logic. But the seemingly scholarly nature of such works was very effective in spreading Aryan supremacist theories among German intellectuals in the early 20th century, especially after the first World War. These and other ideas evolved into the Nazi use of the term "Aryan race" to refer to what they saw as being a "master race" of people of northern European descent, going to extreme and violent lengths to "maintain the purity" of this race through a far-reaching eugenics program (including anti-miscegenation legislation, compulsory sterilization of the mentally ill and the mentally deficient, the execution of the institutionalized mentally ill as part of a euthanasia program, and eventually the systematic targeting of Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals in the Holocaust). This usage now has nearly no meaning outside of Nazi ideology.
It is noteworthy that Heinrich Himmler, the person ordered by Adolf Hitler to implement the final solution (Holocaust), carried a copy of the ancient Aryan scripture, the Bhagavad Gita.
Since the military defeat of Nazi Germany by the Allies in 1945, Neo-Nazi ideologues have expanded their concept of the "Aryan Race" from the Nazi concept that the purest Aryans were the Teutonics or Nordics of Northern Europe to the idea that the true Aryans are everyone descended from the Western or European branch of the Indo-European peoples. This is sometimes referred to as "pan-Aryanism". The degree of inclusivity varies between factions. This usage totally inverts the meaning of "Aryan" from the way it is used by most non-Neo-Nazis today, i.e., to refer to the Eastern or Asian (Indo-Iranian) branch of the Indo-European peoples. However, as noted above and below in the references, some people still use the term Aryan in its original sense as denoting all Indo-Europeans.
Many Neo-Nazis view their political work as being directed towards the establishment of an autocratic state to be called "The Western Imperium". This proposed autocratic state would be led by a Führer-like figure and include all areas inhabited by the "Aryan Race" (defined as non-Jews of European ancestry) i.e. Europe, Russia, Anglo-America, Australia and New Zealand, and southern South America. This concept is based on a 1947 book called Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics by Francis Parker Yockey. It is envisioned that after the "Western Imperium" is established, all Jews and non-white illegal immigrants would be expelled from its territory. Only those of the "Aryan Race" would be full citizens of the State. Miscegenation would be outlawed. Television would be used extensively for propaganda. There would be strict environmental protection and animal rights laws (see Ecofascism). It is usually envisioned that the flag of the "Western Imperium" would be like the red Nazi flag, except within the white disc would be a black-colored nationalistic stylized Celtic cross rather than a black swastika.
The Nazi beliefs of the superiority of a Nordic Aryan Race is heavily contested by Indians in general and has been heavily opposed by the Hindutva parties of the Sangh Parivar. According to these beliefs, the Aryan race originated in India, with the Indus Valley Civilization and then, through superior technological and military methods, spread their influence to the Middle East and Europe in hyperpower fashion. They point to linguistic evidence in order to prove their point. The belief presented by Hindutva organizations is that Vedic Traditions and the concept of Hinduism originated in North India and the original language of the Aryans was Sanskrit, this language evolved as it spread to Europe and formed the collection of Indo-European languages.
I have declared again and again that if I say Aryans, I mean neither blood nor bones, nor hair nor skull; I mean simply those who speak an Aryan language… To me an ethnologist who speaks of Aryan race, Aryan blood, Aryan eyes and hair, is as great a sinner as a linguist who speaks of a dolichocephalic dictionary or a brachycephalic grammar." --Max Müller
"Many names have been used to denote this [racial] type, but the usefulness of most of them has been spoilt through their application to denote linguistic groups (e.g. Indo-Germanic, Aryan), and by the false assumption that linguistic groups are racial groups." --psychologist William McDougall
I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects." --J. R. R. Tolkien, responding to a German publisher who was inquiring about the possibility of printing a German translation of The Hobbit
In Latin malus ... could indicate the common man as the dark one, especially as the black-haired one, as the pre-Aryan dweller of the Italian soil which distinguished itself most clearly through his colour from blonds who became their masters, namely the Aryan conquering race. ... Who can say whether modern democracy, even more modern anarchism and especially that inclination for the “commune”, for the most primitive form of society, which is now shared by all the socialists of Europe, does not signify in the main a tremendous counterattack —and that the conqueror and master race, the Aryan, is not succumbing physiologically, too?” --Friedrich Nietzsche The Genealogy of Morals
It is quite in order that we possess no religion of oppressed Aryan races, for that is a contradiction: a master race is either on top or it is destroyed. (The Will to Power, 145)
The primal savage or ape merely looks about his native forest to find a mate; the exalted Aryan should lift his eyes to the worlds of space and consider his relation to infinity!!!! H.P. Lovecraft, letter of Jan. 23, 1920
The ancient empires fall, the dark-skinned peoples fade and even the Demons of antiquity gasp their last, but over all stand the Aryan barbarian, white-skinned, cold-eyed, dominant, the supreme fighting man of the earth. Robert E. Howard, Wings In The Night
I am Darius the Great King, King of Kings, King of countries containing all kinds of men, King in this great earth far and wide, son of Hystaspes, an Achaemenian, a Persian, son of a Persian, an Aryan, having Aryan lineage." --Darius the Great (549 BC - 486 BC) of the Persian Empire