Ārya is a Sanskrit (आर्य) and Avestan word used by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Zoroastrians, and has a variety of positive meanings, usually in religious contexts. It is not to be confused with the derived English adjective "Aryan", which in its socio-linguistic meaning refers to Indo-Iranians regardless of religion or spirituality.
Etymology and derived words
"Arya" can also be spelled in the form of any of the following Sanskrit words:
Arya was thought to be related to the Indo-European word for "Aristocracy" for example the German word 'Ehre'. But 20th century linguists have given up the connection between Indo-iranian word arya with Ehre or Aristo and such other words for 'noble' in other Indo-european languages. In fact, outside Indian and ancient Iranian language, the word arya has no cognatesIn Sanskrit, later this term came to signify anyone of good and noble character.
- aryá- or aryà- is an adjective meaning "kind", "favorable", or "devoted".
- aryáḥ or áryaḥ is a noun meaning "master" or "lord".
- ā´rya- is an adjective derived from the second of the above meaning "respectable", "honorable", or "noble"; also "belonging to the brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, or vaiśya varṇas."
- ā´ryaḥ is a noun corresponding to the adjective above, meaning "an honorable or respectable man", "a master", "an owner", "a member of the three highest varṇas" (named above), or particularly "a Vaiśya."
The two last forms are the most common, and are the subject of this article.
The important Sanskrit lexicon Amarakośa (ca. 450 AD) defines ārya thus: "An ārya is one who hails from a noble family, of gentle behavior and demeanor, good-natured and of righteous conduct. (mahākula kulinārya sabhya sajjana sadhavah.)"
In Pāli and other Prakrits, ārya developed various forms such as ariya, ayya, ajja, and aje. The last of these gave rise to the honorific term -ji, which is used following a proper name, for example in Gandhiji.
Ārya- was also frequently used as a prefix of honor attached to names, and sometimes as an integral part of a person's name. E.g., Āryāsaṅga is the name of a Buddhist philosopher and author , and Āryabhaṭa is the name of an Indian mathematician.
ārya is in general either a term of approbation or refers to one's standing in the varṇa system: an arya is a free man and not a member of a lower caste or a slave. Roughly, 'arya' is a follower of vedic traditions and take vedas as the nodal point of their religious and social identity. At an early period, the cultural area where the varna system was used, along with the linguistic area where Indic languages were spoken, would have been nearly the same. This region (northern and central India; the Indus and Ganges plains) was called Āryāvarta, meaning "abode of the noble people". At present, these cultural and linguistic spheres overlap but are quite distinct from each other. That is how 'aryavarta' is defined in manusmriti. Later the vedic culture spread through much of the Indian subcontinent and the word has come to mean Bharat in general
The Western interpretation of ārya as the name of a particular race became known in India in the 19th century and was generally accepted by Hindus and Hindu nationalists, though combined with religious self-identification. This shows the success of western cultural imperialism which defines the Hindu-selfdefinition of 'arya' as something different taken out of it's historical and social context. Vivekananda remarked: "...it is the Hindus who have all along called themselves Aryas. Whether of pure or mixed blood, the Hindus are Aryas; there it rests." (Vivekananda, Complete Works vol.5).
The interpretation of the Sanskrit words in Europe was influenced by the cognate words in Avestan:
- airya meaning "nobly born" and "respectable", but also "Iranian"
- airyana or "Iranian"
"Iranian", as used above, refers to all Iranian peoples, at the time not yet differentiated from each other at the time of the composition of the Zoroastrian Yashts texts, where Zarathustra is described to have lived in Airyanem Vaejah meaning "Expansion of Aryans". The word "Iran" (Ērān) itself comes from Proto-Iranian *Aryānām "(land) of the Aryas (Iranian)". Airya was distinguished from anairya, non-Iranian, and is clearly to be understood as the name of a self-identified nation, ethnic group, or linguistic group. The word and concept of Airyanem Vaejah is present in the name of the country Iran (lit. Land of Aryans) which is a modern-Persian form of the word "Aryana" (lit. Country of Aryans). 
The word "arya" (in the form āriyā, آریا), in the modern Persian language, also means "noble", "Aryan", or "Iranian" The word is both related to language and ethnicity and is found in various forms of boys' and girls' names. "Aryan" is also commonly used as a boy's name in various Indic languages.
The term ārya is often found in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain texts. In the Indian spiritual context it can be applied to Rishis or to someone who has mastered the four noble truths and entered upon the spiritual path. The religions of India are sometimes called collectively ārya dharma, a term that includes the religions that originated in India (e.g. Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma), Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism).
In Sanskrit and related Indic languages, ārya means "one who does noble deeds; a noble one". The title ārya was used with various modifications throughout the Indian Subcontinent. Kharavela, the Emperor of Kalinga of around 1 BCE, is referred to as an ārya in the Hathigumpha inscriptions of the Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The Gurjara-Pratihara rulers in the tenth century were titled "Maharajadhiraja of Āryāvarta". Various Indian religions, chiefly Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, use the term ārya as an epithet of honour; a similar usage is found in the name of Arya Samaj.
In the Vedas
The term Arya is used 36 times in 34 hymns in the Rig Veda. According to Talageri (2000, The Rig Veda-A historical analysis) "the particular Vedic Aryans of the Rigveda were one section among these Purus, who called themselves Bharatas." Thus it is possible, according to Talageri, that at one point Arya did refer to a specific tribe.
The evidence for Arya� used in the Rg-Veda in the sense of compatriot� is given at length in Talageri's latest two books, "The Rg-Veda, a Historical Analysis" and "The Rg-Veda and the Avesta, the Final Evidence". He arrived at his conclusions without any knowledge of the linguists' findings. What he shows is that the Paurava tribe, in which (particularly, in whose Bharata clan) the Veda hymns were composed, referred to its own members as Arya. All others, including Iranians (Dasa�, Dasyu�, Asura�, Pani�) and non-Paurava Indians (Yadava, Aikshvaku et al.), were counted as Anarya. Contrary to Arya Samaji and other modern-moralistic interpretations, Arya does not mean good� nor Anarya bad�: even a hostile reference to a traitorous fellow-Paurava calls him Arya, even non-Paurava friends whose virtues are praised remain Anarya. It is only when Paurava Vedic tradition become normative for the neighboring tribes that Arya� gradually loses its Paurava exclusiveness and acquires the non-ethnic meaning of Vedic�, partaking of Vedic tradition�, civilized�, noble�; and Anarya� becomes barbarian�.
The term Arya is used 36 times in 34 hymns in the Rigveda. According to Talageri (2000, The Rig Veda. A Historical Analysis) "the particular Vedic Aryans of the Rigveda were one section among these Purus, who called themselves Bharatas." Thus it is possible, according to Talageri, that at one point Arya did refer to a specific tribe.
While the word may ultimately derive from a tribal name, already in the Rigveda it appears as a religious distinction, separating those who sacrifice "properly" from those who do not belong to the historical Vedic religion, presaging the usage in later Hinduism where the term comes to denote religious righteousness or piety. In RV 9.63.5, ârya "noble, pious, righteous" is used as contrasting with árāvan "not liberal, envious, hostile":
- índraṃ várdhanto aptúraḥ kṛṇvánto víśvam âryam apaghnánto árāvṇaḥ
- "[the Soma-drops], performing every noble work, active, augmenting Indra's strength, driving away the godless ones." (trans. Griffith)
Talageri shows that the word Arya is used 36 times in 34 hymns in the Rigveda:
- I.51.8; 59.2; 103.3; 117.21; 130.8; 156.5;
- II.11.18, 19;
- IV.26.2; 30.18;
- VI.18.3; 22.10; 25.2; 33.3; 60.6;
- VII.5.6; 18.7; 33.7; 83.1;
- VIII.24.27; 51.9; 103.1;
- IX.63.5, 14;
- X.11.4; 38.3; 43.3; 49.3; 65.11; 69.6; 83.1; 86.19; 102.3; 138.3.
Most significant of all is the use of the word ārya (which everyone acknowledges as the word by which the Vedic people referred to themselves) in the Rigveda in the sense of "belonging to our community/tribe". It is used only in reference to Bharata kings like Sudās and Divodāsa, never in reference to non-Pūru kings. Non-Pūru patrons (mainly of the Atri and Kaṇva rishis) are never called ārya. Even when non-Pūru kings like Mandhāta, Purukutsa and Trasadasyu are praised to the skies (Trasadasyu is even called a "demi-god" or "ardha-deva" in IV.42.8-9), it is only because of the help rendered by them to the Pūru-s (referred to in I.63.7; IV.38.1, VI.20.10; VII.19.3), and they are never called ārya. And the Rigveda even clearly specifies that ārya means Pūru, in I.59.2 (vis-a-vis I.59.6) and VII.5.6 (vis-a-vis VII.5.3). The word ārya is found in 34 hymns, of which 28 are composed by composers belong to the Bharata family and the two families directly affiliated to them, the Angiras-es and Vasiṣṭha-s, and 2 more by the Viśvamitra-s who were also affiliated to the Bharata king Sudās before being supplanted by the Vasiṣṭha-s. One more within the Family Books is by the Gṛtsamada-s (note that the Gṛtsamada-s are descended from an Angiras rishi). Only 3 hymns are by rishis not affiliated to the Bharata-s, and the references to āryas in those three hymns are interesting as they show the neutrality of the composers vis-à-vis the Bharata Pūru-s: One hymn (IX.63) is by a composer from the most neutral and apolitical family of rishis in the Rigveda, the Kaśyapa-s, and the word ārya is used twice in the hymn in the only case in the whole of the Rigveda where the word has a purely abstract rather than personal or tribal meaning. The other two hymns are by Kaṇva-s, who (alongwith the Atri-s) are politically active rishis not affiliated solely to the Vedic Aryans (Bharata-s and Pūru-s) but closely associated with other tribes as well. In one (VIII.51.9), the composer expresses (his) neutrality between ārya-s and dāsa-s, and in the other (even) this unaffiliated composer uses the word ārya only in reference to the Bharata king Divodāsa. Most interesting of all: i) Nine (IV.30, VI.22,33,60, VII.83, X.38,69,83,102) of the above 34 hymns refer to ārya-s as enemies (8 of them jointly to ārya and dāsa enemies)! All the nine hymns are by Bharata-s or the two families of rishis closely affiliated to them, the Angiras-es and Vasiṣṭha-s. ii) Further, 7 more hymns (I.100,111, IV.4, VI.19,25,44, X.69) refer to jāmi (kinsmen) and ajāmi (non-kinsmen) enemies, all 7 being composed by Bharata-s and Angiras-es. iii) And one more (X.133), by a Bharata composer, refers to sanābhi (kinsmen) and niṣṭya (non-kinsmen) enemies. In addition, one more (VI.75), by an Angiras, likewise refers to sva araṇa (hostile kinsmen) and niṣṭya (non-kinsmen) enemies. This has no logical explanation in AIT interpretation except to say that the Aryans must "also have fought amongst themselves". But the pattern of references makes the actual explanation clear: it is Bharata Pūru-s as the Vedic āryas fighting against non-Bharata Pūru-s as the enemy āryas. Finally, the Rigveda itself makes this clear when it tells us in the Viśvamitra hymn III.53 (which records the aśvamedha performed by Sudās on the eastern banks of the Sarasvati, after which he is described as expanding his kingdom in all directions) that the Bharata-s, when they set out to do battle, do not differentiate between those who are close to them (i.e. kinsmen) and those who are distant from them (non-kinsmen). Note: There are only 19 hymns in the Rigveda (out of a total of 1028 hymns) composed by composers from the Bharata family. But 3 out of 34 hymns in the Rigveda which use the word ārya, 2 out of 9 hymns in the Rigveda which refer to "both ārya and dāsa enemies", 1 out of 7 hymns in the Rigveda which refer to "jāmi and ajāmi enemies", and the only hymn which refers to "sanābhi and niṣṭya enemies", are by Bharata composers. The evidence is very clear: The Pūru-s ̶ and only the Pūru-s ̶ and particularly the Bharata Pūru-s from among them, are the "Vedic Aryans", composers of the Rigveda and speakers of the Vedic dialect (the "Indo-Aryan" of the linguists). 
In the Epics
Arya and Anarya are primarily used in the moral sense in the Hindu Epics. People are usually called Arya or Anarya based on their behaviour. Arya is typically one who follows the Dharma. This is historically applicable for any person living anywhere in Bharata Varsha or vast India.
In the Ramayana, the term Arya can also apply to Raksasas or to Ravana. In several instances, the Vanaras and Raksasas called themselves Arya. The vanara's king Sugriva is called an Arya (Ram: 505102712) and he also speaks of his brother Bali as an Arya (Ram: 402402434). In another instance in the Ramayana, Ravana regards himself and his ministers as Aryas (Ram: A logical explanation is that, Ravana and his ministers belonged to the highest varna (Ravana being a Brahmin), and Brahmins were generally considered 'noble' of deed and hence called Arya (noble). Thus, while Ravana was considered Arya (and regarded himself as such), he was really an Arya because he was noble of deeds. So, he is widely considered by Hindus as Arya(Noble Man).
In the Ramayana, the term Arya can also apply to Raksasas or to Ravana, if their behaviour was "Aryan". In several instances, the Vanaras and Raksasas called themselves Arya. The monkey king Surgriva is called an Arya (Ram: 505102712) and he also speaks of his brother Valin as an Arya (Ram: 402402434). In another instance in the Ramayana, Ravana regards himself and his ministers as Aryas (Ram: 600600512).
In the Mahabharata, the terms Arya or Anarya are often applied to people according to their behaviour. Dushasana, who tried to disrobe Draupadi in the Kaurava court, is called an "Anarya" (Mbh:0020600253). Vidura, the son of a Dasi born from Vyasa, was the only person in the assembly whose behaviour is called "Arya", because he was the only one who openly protested when Draupadi was being disrobed by Dushasana. The Pandavas called themselves "Anarya" in the Mahabharata (0071670471) when they killed Drona through deception.
Uses in Hinduism
The word ārya is often found in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain texts. In the Indian spiritual context it can be applied to Rishis or to someone who has mastered the four noble truths and entered upon the spiritual path. According to Nehru, the religions of India may be called collectively ārya dharma, a term that includes the religions that originated in India (e.g. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and possibly Sikhism).
According to Swami Vivekananda, "A child materially born is not an Aryan; the child born in spirituality is an Aryan.” He further elaborated, referring to the Manu Smriti: "Says our great law-giver, Manu, giving the definition of an Aryan, "He is the Aryan, who is born through prayer". Every child not born through prayer is illegitimate, according to the great law-giver: "The child must be prayed for. Those children that come with curses, that slip into the world, just in a moment of inadvertence, because that could not be prevented - what can we expect of such progeny?..."(Swami Vivekananda, Complete Works vol.8)
"O my Lord, a person who is chanting Your holy name, although born of a low family like that of a Chandala, is situated on the highest platform of self-realization. Such a person must have performed all kinds of penances and sacrifices according to Vedic literatures many, many times after taking bath in all the holy places of pilgrimage. Such a person is considered to be the best of the Arya family" (Bhagavata Purana 3.33.7).
"My dear Lord, one’s occupational duty is instructed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and Bhagavad-gītā according to Your point of view, which never deviates from the highest goal of life. Those who follow their occupational duties under Your supervision, being equal to all living entities, moving and nonmoving, and not considering high and low, are called Āryans. Such Āryans worship You, the Supreme Personality of Godhead." (Bhagavata Purana 6.16.43).
According to Swami Vivekananda, "A child materially born is not an Arya; the child born in spirituality is an Arya." He further elaborated, referring to the Manu Smriti: "Says our great law-giver, Manu, giving the definition of an Arya, 'He is the Arya, who is born through prayer.' Every child not born through prayer is illegitimate, according to the great law-giver: "The child must be prayed for. Those children that come with curses, that slip into the world, just in a moment of inadvertence, because that could not be prevented – what can we expect of such progeny?..."(Swami Vivekananda, Complete Works vol.8)
Vivekananda: Then there is the other idea that the Shudra caste are surely the aborigines. What are they? They are slaves. They say history repeats itself. The Americans, English, Dutch, and the Portuguese got hold of the poor Africans and made them work hard while they lived, and their children of mixed birth were born in slavery and kept in that condition for a long period. From that wonderful example, the mind jumps back several thousand years and fancies that the same thing happened here, and our archaeologist dreams of India being full of dark-eyed aborigines, and the bright Aryan came from - the Lord knows where. According to some, they came from Central Tibet, others will have it that they came from Central Asia. There are patriotic Englishmen who think that the Aryans were all red-haired. Others, according to their idea, think that they were all black-haired. If the writer happens to be a black-haired man, the Aryans were all black-haired. Of late, there was an attempt made to prove that the Aryans lived on the Swiss lakes. I should not be sorry if they had been all drowned there, theory and all. Some say now that they lived at the North Pole. Lord bless the Aryans and their habitations! As for the truth of these theories, there is not one word in our scriptures, not one, to prove that the Aryan ever came from anywhere outside of India, and in ancient India was included Afghanistan. There it ends. Swami Vivekananda, Complete Works
- We stick, in spite of Western theories, to that definition of the word "Arya" which we find in our sacred books, and which includes only the multitude we now call Hindus. This Aryan race, itself a mixture of two great races, Sanskrit-speaking and Tamil-speaking, applies to all Hindus alike. That the Shudras have in some Smritis been excluded from this epithet means nothing, for the Shudras were and still are only the waiting Aryas - Aryas in novitiate.
- Swami Vivekananda, Quoted in "The Indispensable Vivekananda: An Anthology for Our Times"
- Says our great law-giver, Manu, giving the definition of an Aryan, "He is the Aryan, who is born through prayer". Every child not born through prayer is illegitimate, according to the great law-giver. The child must be prayed for. Those children that come with curses, that slip into the world, just in a moment of inadvertence, because that could not be prevented - what can we expect of such progeny? Mothers of America, think of that! Think in the heart of your hearts, are you ready to be women? Not any question of race or country, or that false sentiment of national pride. Who dares to be proud in this mortal life of ours, in this world of woes and miseries? What are we before this infinite force of God? But I ask you the question tonight: Do you all pray for the children to come? Are you thankful to be mothers, or not? Do you think that you are sanctified by motherhood, or not? Ask that of your minds. If you do not, your marriage is a lie, your womanhood is false, your education is superstition, and your children, if they come without prayer, will prove a curse to humanity.
- Swami Vivekananda, Complete Works
- And in passing I may remark that According to Manu a child who is born of lust is not an Aryan. The child whose very conception and whose death is according to the rules of the Vedas, such is an Aryan. Yes, and less of these Aryan children are being produced in every country, and the result is the mass of evil which we call Kali Yuga.
- Swami Vivekananda, Complete Works
- Western Philology has converted it into a racial term, an unknown ethnological quantity on which different speculations fix different values. Now, even among the philologists, some are beginning to recognise that the word in its original use expressed not a difference of race, but a difference of culture. For in the Veda the Aryan peoples are those who had accepted a particular type of self-culture, of inward and outward practice, of ideality, of aspiration. The Aryan gods were the supraphysical powers who assisted the mortal in his struggle towards the nature of the godhead. All the highest aspirations of the early human race, its noblest religious temper, its most idealistic velleities of thought are summed up in this single vocable. In later times, the word Arya expressed a particular ethical and social ideal, an ideal of well-governed life, candour, courtesy, nobility, straight dealing, courage, gentleness, purity, humanity, compassion, protection of the weak, liberality, observance of social duty, eagerness of knowledge, respect for the wise and learned, the social accomplishments. It was the combined ideal of the Brahmana and the Kshatriya. Everything that departed from this ideal, everything that tended towards the ignoble, mean, obscure, rude, cruel or false, was termed un-Aryan or anarya (colloq. anari). There is no word in human speech that has a nobler history. 
Arya (Sanskrit, also ārya; Pāli: ariya) is a term frequently used in Buddhism that can be translated as "noble", "not ordinary", "valuable", "precious",[lower-alpha 1] "pure", etc. Arya in the sense of "noble" or "exalted" is frequently used in Buddhist texts to designate a spiritual warrior or hero.
In Buddhism, those who spiritually attain to at least "stream entry" and better are considered Arya Pudgala, or the Arya people.
The word ārya (Pāli: ariya), in the sense "noble" or "exalted", is very frequently used in Buddhist texts to designate a spiritual warrior or hero, which use this term much more often than Hindu or Jain texts. Buddha's Dharma and Vinaya are the ariyassa dhammavinayo. The Four Noble Truths are called the catvāry āryasatyāni (Sanskrit) or cattāri ariyasaccāni (Pali). The Noble Eightfold Path is called the āryamārga (Sanskrit, also āryāṣṭāṅgikamārga) or ariyamagga (Pāli). Buddhists themselves are called ariyapuggalas (Arya persons). In Buddhist texts, the āryas are those who have the Buddhist śīla (Pāli sīla, meaning "virtue") and follow the Buddhist path. Those who despise Buddhism are often called "anāryas".
The word ārya (Pāli: ariya), in the sense "noble" or "exalted", is very frequently used in Buddhist texts to designate a spiritual warrior or hero, which use this term much more often than Hindu or Jain texts. Buddha's Dharma and Vinaya are the ariyassa dhammavinayo. The four noble truths are called the catvāry āryasatyāni (Sanskrit) or cattāri ariyasaccāni (Pali). The noble eightfold path is called the āryamārga (Sanskrit, also āryāṣṭāṅgikamārga) or ariyamagga (Pāli). Buddhists themselves are called ariyapuggalas (Arya persons). In Buddhist texts, the āryas are those who have the Buddhist śīla (Pāli sīla, meaning "virtue") and follow the Buddhist path. Those who despise Buddhism are often called "anāryas".
The spiritual character of the use of the term ārya in Buddhist texts can also be seen in the Mahavibhasa and in the Yogacarabhumi. The Mahāvibhasa  states that only the noble ones (āryas) realize all four of the four noble truths (āryasatyāni) and that only a noble wisdom understands them fully. The same text also describes the āryas as the ones who "have understood and realized about the [truth of] suffering, (impermanence, emptiness, and no-self)" and who "understand things as they are". . In another text, the Yogācārabhūmi (Taishō 1579, vol. xx, 364b10-15), the āryas are described as being free from the viparyāsas (misconceptions).
Several Buddhist texts show that the ārya dharma was taught to everybody, including the āryas, Dasyus, Devas, Gandharvas and Asuras. The Bhaiṣajyavastu (from the Mūlasarvāstivādavinaya) describes a story of Buddha teaching his Dharma to the Four Heavenly Kings (Catvāraḥ Mahārājāḥ) of the four directions. In this story, the guardians of the east (Dhṛtarāṣṭra) and the south (Virūḍhaka) are āryajatiya (āryas) who speak Sanskrit, while the guardians of the west (Virūpākṣa) and the north (Vaiśravaṇa) are dasyujatiya (Dasyus) who speak Dasyu languages. In order to teach his Dharma, Buddha has to deliver his discourse in Aryan and Dasyu languages. This story describes Buddha teaching his Dharma to the āryas and Dasyus alike. The Karaṇḍavyūha (a Mahāyāna sūtra) describes how Avalokiteśvara taught the ārya Dharma to the asuras, yakṣas and rakṣasas. 
The Buddha spoke of the Arya 4 truths and 8-fold path. However, we must take into account the possibility that he used it in the sense of Vedic�, broadly conceived. That after vedic tradition got carried away into what he deemed non-essentials, he intended to restore what he conceived as the original Vedic spirit. After all, the anti-Vedicism and anti-Brahmanism now routinely attributed to him, are largely in the eye of the modern beholder. Though later Brahmin-born Buddhist thinkers polemicized against Brahmin institutions and the idolizing of the Veda, the Buddha himself didn't mind attributing to the gods Indra and Brahma his recognition as the Buddha and his mission to teach; and when predicting the future Buddha Maitreya, had him born in a Brahmin family; and had over 40% Brahmins among his ordained disciples.
The term is used in the following contexts:
- The Four Noble Truths are called the catvāry ārya satyāni (Sanskrit) or cattāri ariya saccāni (Pali).
- The Noble Eightfold Path is called the ārya mārga (Sanskrit, also āryāṣṭāṅgikamārga) or ariya magga (Pāli).
- Buddha's Dharma and Vinaya are the ariyassa dhammavinayo.
- In Buddhist texts, the āryas are those who have the Buddhist śīla (Pāli sīla, meaning "virtue") and follow the Buddhist path.
- Buddhists who have attained one of the four levels of awakening (stream-entry, once-returner, non-returner, arahant) are themselves are called ariya puggalas (Arya persons).
In the context of the four noble truths (Sanskrit: arya satya; Pali: ariya sacca), contemporary scholars explain the meaning of arya as follows:
- Paul Williams states: "The Aryas are the noble ones, the saints, those who have attained 'the fruits of the path', 'that middle path the Tathagata has comprehended which promotes sight and knowledge, and which tends to peace, higher wisdom, enlightenment, and Nibbana' (Narada 1980: 50).
- Geshe Tashi Tsering states: "The modifier noble [i.e. arya] means truth as perceived by arya beings, those beings who have had a direct realization of emptiness or selflessness. Noble means something seen by arya beings as it really is, and in this case it is four recognitions—suffering, origin, cessation, and path. Arya beings see all types of suffering—physical and mental, gross and subtle—exactly as they are, as suffering. For people like us, who do not have the direct realization of emptiness, although we may understand certain levels of physical and mental experiences as suffering, it is impossible for us to see all the levels of suffering for what they are. Instead we may see some things as desirable when in truth they are suffering."
Bhikkhu Bodhi explains:[web 1]
- The word "noble," or ariya, is used by the Buddha to designate a particular type of person, the type of person which it is the aim of his teaching to create. In the discourses the Buddha classifies human beings into two broad categories. On one side there are the puthujjanas, the worldlings, those belonging to the multitude, whose eyes are still covered with the dust of defilements and delusion. On the other side there are the ariyans, the noble ones, the spiritual elite, who obtain this status not from birth, social station or ecclesiastical authority but from their inward nobility of character.
- These two general types are not separated from each other by an impassable chasm, each confined to a tightly sealed compartment. A series of gradations can be discerned rising up from the darkest level of the blind worldling trapped in the dungeon of egotism and self-assertion, through the stage of the virtuous worldling in whom the seeds of wisdom are beginning to sprout, and further through the intermediate stages of noble disciples to the perfected individual at the apex of the entire scale of human development. This is the Arahant, the liberated one, who has absorbed the purifying vision of truth so deeply that all his defilements have been extinguished, and with them, all liability to suffering.
The spiritual character of the use of the term ārya in Buddhist texts can also be seen in the Mahavibhasa and in the Yogacarabhumi. The Mahāvibhasa  states that only the noble ones (āryas) realize all four of the four noble truths (āryasatyāni) and that only a noble wisdom understands them fully. The same text also describes the āryas as the ones who "have understood and realized about the [truth of] suffering, (impermanence, emptiness, and no-self)" and who "understand things as they are". In another text, the Yogācārabhūmi (Taishō 1579, vol. xx, 364b10-15), the āryas are described as being free from the viparyāsas.
Several Buddhist texts show that the ārya dharma was taught to everybody, including the āryas, Dasyus, Devas, Gandharvas and Asuras. The Bhaiṣajyavastu (from the Mūlasarvāstivādavinaya) describes a story of Buddha teaching his dharma to the Four Heavenly Kings (Catvāraḥ Mahārājāḥ) of the four directions. In this story, the guardians of the east (Dhṛtarāṣṭra) and the south (Virūḍhaka) are āryajatiya (āryas) who speak Sanskrit, while the guardians of the west (Virūpākṣa) and the north (Vaiśravaṇa) are dasyujatiya (Dasyus) who speak Dasyu languages. In order to teach his Dharma, Buddha has to deliver his discourse in Aryan and Dasyu languages. This story describes Buddha teaching his Dharma to the āryas and Dasyus alike. The Karaṇḍavyūha (a Mahāyāna sūtra) describes how Avalokiteśvara taught the ārya Dharma to the asuras, yakṣas and rakṣasas.
In many parts of the South India, if somebody (new) is supposed to be addressed respectably, the prefix "Ayya", derived from "Arya" is used. South Indians used to call them "Arya" which is now transformed to "Ayya". This term is used even today.
- It is in the sense of "noble" that the Buddha spoke of the Arya 4 truths and 8-fold path. However, we must take into account the possibility that he used it in the implied sense of “Vedic”, broadly conceived. That after Vedic tradition got carried away into what he deemed non-essentials, he intended to restore what he conceived as the original Vedic spirit. After all, the anti-Vedicism and anti-Brahmanism now routinely attributed to him, are largely in the eye of the modern beholder. Though later Brahmin-born Buddhist thinkers polemicized against Brahmin institutions and the idolizing of the Veda, the Buddha himself didn’t mind attributing to the gods Indra and Brahma his recognition as the Buddha and his mission to teach; and when predicting the future Buddha Maitreya, had him born in a Brahmin family; and had over 40% Brahmins among his ordained disciples. (Elst 2018)
- As Luis Gómez [1999: “Noble lineage and august demeanour. Religious and social meanings of Aryan virtue”, in Bronkhorst & Deshpande: Aryan and Non-Aryan in South Asia, Harvard, p.132-133] points out, the Buddhist usage of Ārya is subject to “ambiguities”, e.g. in the Mahāvibhāsā: “The Buddha said, ‘What the noble ones say is the truth, what the other say is not true. And why is this? The noble ones […] understand things as they are, the common folk do not understand. […] Furthermore, they are called noble truths because they are possessed by those who own the wealth and assets of the noble ones. Furthermore, they are called noble truths because they are possessed by those who are conceived in the womb of a noble person.’” (Elst 2018)
- The meaning “noble”, well-known internationally for being mentioned by the Buddha in the “four noble truths” and in the “noble eightfold path”, can be interpreted both as “Vedic” (since the Buddha himself had considered his own teachings as a revival of the Vedic seers’ original instructions before they got corrupted by the priestly class, a less literal way of going “back to the Vedas”);
-  Elst 2018
- We do find such a reason in the alternative sinification of the same foreign word. Then pronounced very similarly to the character Xia 夏, it is now pronounced Hua and written 華. This character is a self-designation of the Chinese both internally and abroad, e.g. the Chinese minority in Vietnam is known as the Hoa. Its basic meaning is “civilized, elite” (apart from “flower”, with the same character), the opposite meaning of “barbarian”.... The origin of the words Xia 夏 and Hua 華 is the collective self-designation of the inhabitants of Bactria, a country of which the Greeks rendered the Iranian name as Ariana....The same word came to designate the ethnic specificity of Afghanistan, Iran, North India and China. The unexpected commonality between India and China is reflected in Tibetan. There, the word for the Chinese is Rgya, from Hua, from Ᾱrya; for India it is Rgyagar, apparently from Ᾱryavarta. At any rate, most of Asia called itself Ᾱrya at one time.
Here we are reminded of the Manu Smṛti, in which it is said that even the Greeks and the Chinese (both of whom the Indians met in Bactria) had once been Ᾱrya, but had lapsed from that status due to a lapse from Dharmic norms, a barbarian-type conduct.
-  Elst 2018
- One resultant semantic development is "upper-caste", meaning those people who received the Vedic initiation. Since Kshatriyas and Brahmins had their own more specific titulature, the general honorific Arya often designated the Vaishya. It is also used as a form of address to any honoured person, which is probably the origin of the present-day honorific suffix -ji, evolved through the Prakrit forms ayya, ajja, 'jje. In South India, the term Arya designated the Northern immigarnts who described themselves as such: Buddhist and Jaina preachers and Brahmin settlers. They latter's caste names Aiyar and Aiyangar are evolutes of Arya. (Elst 2018)
- In early Vedic literature, the term Āryāvarta (Sanskrit: आर्यावर्त, abode of the Aryans) was the name given to northern India, where the Indo-Aryan culture was based. The Manusmṛti (2.22) gives the name Āryāvarta to "the tract between the Himalaya and the Vindhya ranges, from the Eastern (Bay of Bengal) to the Western Sea (Arabian Sea)". Āryāvarta "abode of the āryas" is a common name for North India in Sanskrit literature. Manusmṛti (2.22) gives the name to "the tract between the Himalaya and the Vindhya ranges, from the Eastern Sea to the Western Sea".
- "IRAN." LoveToKnow 1911 Online Encyclopedia. © 2003, 2004 LoveToKnow. 
- Wink, André (2002). Al-Hind: Early medieval India and the expansion of Islam, 7th–11th centuries. BRILL. p. 284. ISBN 0391041738, ISBN 978-0-391-04173-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- DASarAjña hymns
- DASarAjña hymns
- DASarAjña hymns
- refers to DivodAsas father VadhryaSva
- (Deshpande/ Gomez in Bronkhorst & Deshpande 1999)
- (Mbh: tasyam samsadi sarvasyam ksatttaram pujayamy aham/ vrttena hi bhavaty aryo na dhanena na vidyaya. 0050880521)
- Deshpande/ Gomez in Bronkhorst & Deshpande 1999 Cite error: Invalid
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- Kumar, Priya (2012). Elisabeth Weber (ed.). Beyond tolerance and hospitality: Muslims as strangers and minor subjects in Hindu nationalist and Indian nationalist discourse. Living Together: Jacques Derrida's Communities of Violence and Peace. Fordham University Press. p. 96. ISBN 9780823249923.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- http://intyoga.online.fr/signif.htm in "The Supramental Manifestation and Other Writings"SABCL, Volume 16published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram - Pondicherrydiffusion by SABDAalso pages 411-414 of the US-Edition at Lotus Light Publications
- Ajahn Sucitto 2010, Kindle Location 122.
- Mingyur Rinpoche 2007, p. 70.
- (Taisho 1545, vol. xxvii, 401c29-402a12, 402b5-6, and 402a27-b6)
- (Deshpande/ Gomez in Bronkhorst & Deshpande 1999)
- Bronkhorst & Deshpande 1999
- Bronkhorst & Deshpande 1999
- Williams 2002, p. 52.
- Geshe Tashi Tsering 2005, Kindle Locations 349-350.
- (Taisho 1545, vol. xxvii, 401c29-402a12, 402b5-6, and 402a27-b6)
- Bronkhorst & Deshpande 1999
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Gopal 1990 70
- Michael Cook (2014), Ancient Religions, Modern Politics: The Islamic Case in Comparative Perspective, Princeton University Press, p.68: "Aryavarta [...] is defined by Manu as extending from the Himalayas in the north to the Vindhyas of Central India in the south and from the sea in the west to the sea in the east."
- The Sacred Books of the East, Volume 14, p. 2
- Indians in Southeast-Asia were never known as 'Hindu', but the Arabs, Turks, Mongolians and other northern and western foreigners adopted the Persian name as their own word for 'India' and 'Indians', e.g. Arabic Hind, Turkish Hindistan. Xuan Zang ... notes in so many words that the name Xin-du (regular Chinese rendering of Persian Hindu)1 or, as he corrects it, Yin-du, is used outside India but is unknown within the country, because the natives call it Aryadesh or Brahmarashtra.
- Elst, Koenraad, Who is a Hindu, (2001)
- In Swami Dayananda's view, the term Arya was not coterminous with the term Hindu. The classical meaning of the word Arya is 'noble'. It is used as an honorific term of address, used in addressing the honoured ones in ancient Indian parlance. The term Hindu is reluctantly accepted as a descriptive term for the contemporary Hindu society and all its varied beliefs and practices, while the term Arya is normative and designates Hinduism as it ought to be. ... Elsewhere in Hindu society, 'Arya' was and is considered a synonym for 'Hindu', except that it may be broader, viz. by unambiguously including Buddhism and Jainism. Thus, the Constitution of the 'independent, indivisible and sovereign monarchical Hindu kingdom' (Art.3:1) of Nepal take care to include the Buddhist minority by ordaining the king to uphold 'Aryan culture and Hindu religion' (Art.20: 1). ... The Arya Samaj's misgivings about the term Hindu already arose in tempore non suspecto, long before it became a dirty Word under Jawaharlal Nehru and a cause of legal disadvantage under the 1950 Constitution. Swami Dayananda Saraswati rightly objected that the term had been given by foreigners (who, moreover, gave all kinds of derogatory meanings to it) and considered that dependence on an exonym is a bit sub-standard for a highly literate and self-expressive civilization. This argument retains a certain validity: the self-identification of Hindus as 'Hindu' can never be more than a second-best option. On the other hand, it is the most practical choice in the short run, and most Hindus don't seem to pine for an alternative.
- Elst, Koenraad, Who is a Hindu, (2001)
- The much-maligned Manusmriti, a number of peoples and tribes, both white and non-white (including the Greeks and the Chinese), are described as non-Arya on the ground that they had abandoned Arya culture....
- Elst, K. The Saffron Swastika
- Vedic civilization acknowledges among its greatest spokesmen members of "backward" (or what Savitri Devi would call "un-Aryan") communities such as the Mahabharata's author Vyasa, the Ramayana's author Valmiki or the Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar. Its understanding of "Arya" is not as a racial nor even a linguistic term, but as a cultural term, a synonym for "Vedic", neither more nor less. Elst, Koenraad. Return of the Swastika: Hate and Hysteria versus Hindu Sanity (2007)
- For at least two thousand years, the word Ârya has meant: ‘noble’, ‘gentleman’, ‘civilized’, and in particular ‘member of the Vedic civilization’. The Manu Smrti uses it in this sense and emphatically not in either of the two meanings which ‘Aryan’ received in 19th century Europe, viz. the linguistic sense of ‘Indo-European’ and the racial sense of ‘white’ or ‘Nordic’. Thus, MS 10.45 says that those outside the caste system, ‘whether they speak barbarian languages or Ârya languages, are regarded as aliens’, indicating that some people spoke the same language as the Ârya-s but didn’t have their status of Ârya. As for race, the Manu Smrti (10.43f.) claims that the Greeks and the Chinese had originally been Ârya-s too but that they had lapsed from Ârya standards and therefore lost the status of Ârya. So, non-Indians and non-whites could be Ârya, on condition of observing certain cultural standards, viz. those laid down in the MS itself. The term Ârya was culturally defined: conforming to Vedic tradition. Elst K. Manu as a weapon against egalitarianism: Nietzsche and Hindu political philosophy
- If the word arya had not become tainted by the colonial and racist use of its Europeanized form Aryan/Arier, chances are that by now it would have replaced the word Hindu (which many Hindus resent as a Persian exonym unknown to Hindu scripture) as the standard term of Hindu self-reference. Elst K. Manu as a weapon against egalitarianism: Nietzsche and Hindu political philosophy
- Against the association of the anglicised form ‘Aryan’ with colonial and Nazi racism, modern Hindus always insist that the term only means ‘Vedic’ or ‘noble’ and has no racial or ethnic connotation. This purely moral, non-ethnic meaning is in evidence in the Buddhist notions of the ‘four noble truths’ (chatvâri-ârya-satyâni) and the ‘noble eightfold path’ (ârya-ashtângika-mârga). So, the meaning ‘noble’ applies for recent centuries and as far back as the Buddha’s age (ca.500 BC), but not for the Vedic age (beyond 1000 BC), especially its earliest phase. Back then, against a background of struggle between the Vedic Indians and the proto-Iranian tribes, the Dâsa-s and Dasyu-s, we see the Indians referring to themselves, but not to the Iranians, as Ârya; and conversely, the Iranians referring to themselves, but not to the Indians, as Airya (whence Airyânâm Xshathra, ‘empire of the Aryans’, i.e. Iran). And if we look more closely, we see the Vedic Indians, i.e. the Paurava nation, refer to themselves but not to other Indians as Ârya. So at that point it did have a self-referential ethnic meaning (Talageri 2000 154 ff.). Elst K. Manu as a weapon against egalitarianism: Nietzsche and Hindu political philosophy
- Like the swastika, the term Arya, which is rather central in Hindu tradition and more so in Nazism, is in need of rehabilitation. ... When Buddha gives a short formulation of his teachings, he calls it the Arya Satyani, the four Noble Truths. While the term Arya is used only a few times in the Vedas, it was used a lot by the Buddhists and Jains. Today, everybody uses it all the time, though perhaps unknowingly : the honorific - ji, as in Gandhiji, is an evolved form, through Pali aya or aja and Apabhramsa aje, from Sanskrit arya.
- Elst, K. Ayodhya and After. 1992.
- It is in this (by that time definitely the usual) sense that the Buddha used the term Arya, as in the catvAri-Arya-satyAni, “the four noble truths”, and the Arya-ashtANgika-mArga, “the noble eightfold path”, meaning that his way (more than the petty magic with which many Veda-reciting priests made a living) fulfilled the old ideals of Vedic civilization. It is with a similar intention that the modern Veda revivalists of the Arya Samaj chose the name of their organization. While conceptions may differ concerning what the real essence of the Vedic worldview was, there has been a wide pan-Indian agreement for at least 3,000 years that Arya means a standard of civilization, regardless of language, race or even ethnicity.
- Elst 1999
- If the word Ārya had not become tainted by the colonial and racist use of its Europeanized form Aryan, chances are that by now it would have replaced the word Hindu (which many Hindus resent as a Persian exonym unknown to Hindu scripture) as the standard term of Hindu self-reference. 
- As Baidyanath Barat stated in the Preface to his Arya- D11rpan: A.dhyalMilt Aitihtuilt Up11ny11S, written in 1877: 'Wherever you find the word Hindu in this book please understand it to mean Aryan'.
- Bhaisajavasta in Mulasarvastivadavinaavastu. In Gilgit Mansuscripts, Vol. III, Part I. Edited by Nalinaksha Dutt. The Kashmir Series of Texts & Studies, No. LXXI (E). 1947. Srinagar: Research Departement.
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- Though not a pandit or philologist, Dalit leader Dr. Ambedkar took the trouble of verifying the meaning and context, in every single instance, of the Vedic terms which Western scholars often mentioned as proof of a conflict between white Aryan invaders and dark non-Aryan aboriginals.65 His line of argument has been elaborated further by V.S. Pathak and Shrikant Talageri.66
- 65Dr. B.R. Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches, vol.1, p.16-22 (from his Caste in India), p.49 (from his Annihilation of Caste); p.74-85 (from his Who Were the Shudras?), p.301-303 (from his The Untouchables). I have discussed these passages in K. Elst: Dr. Ambedkar, a True Aryan, Voice of India, Delhi 1994, p.15-23.
- 66V.S. Pathak: “Semantics of Arya: Its Historical Implications”, in S.B. Deo and Suryanath Kamath: The Aryan Problem, p.86-99; S. Talageri: Aryan Invasion Theory, p.226-254.
- Elst 1999
- 'Arya': Its Significance (Aurobindo in 'Arya', September 1914)
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- Indira Chowdhury - The Frail Hero and Virile History_ Gender and the Politics of Culture in Colonial Bengal-Oxford University Press (1998) page 45