Love in the Aryan Caste Culture

In scholarly literature, the term “Aryan culture” has frequently referred to the “Indo-European” cultures of the past associated with ancient Indo-Iranian languages. These prehistoric cultures existed many centuries ago. The Indo-Aryan migration occurred approximately between 2000 and 1500 BCE. The early Aryans were nomad warriors who colonized northern India around 1500 BCE. These ancient people with fair skin settled in Iran and northern India in those times. Initially, the Aryans were hunter-gatherers. As they migrated to India, they learned agriculture and constructed settlements and cities, thereby initiating the Aryan civilization. Literature, religion, and social structure have had a significant impact on Indian culture.

Through the centuries, the Aryan cultures have experienced a very long history of cultural evolution. This evolution has been reflected in social and personal relationships between people. At various epochs of Aryan culture in India, gender relations and the position of women differed greatly, and the attitudes towards love varied substantially.

The Transition of Aryan Culture to Brahminism

The Aryan culture during the period of Indo-Aryan migration in the 2000s–1500s BCE was very conducive to free interpersonal relationships and love in the modern sense. Prior to the introduction of Brahminism, women were held in high regard, granted various privileges, and permitted to engage in free social relations with men. For many Aryans, monogamy was the accepted form of marriage.

However, during the Late Vedic Period (c. 1100-500 BCE), Brahmanism developed as a belief system, asserting that Brahman is the supreme being. Since then, Brahmanism has continued to have a significant impact on Hinduism. The various tenets of Brahmanism influenced the development of Hinduism in India. Brahmanism encouraged inequality and supported the brutalization of the lower classes. They emphasized the elite position of Brahmins. They introduced and maintained the caste system in Indian society.

The Aryan Caste Culture

In Ancient India, the caste system was a very important aspect of the Aryan culture of that period. According to Brahmanism, it was believed that people were born into their caste for the rest of their lives. Their caste determined the work they did, the man or woman they could marry, and the people they could eat with.

 The importance of cleanliness and purity was also emphasized. Those deemed the most impure due to their work as butchers, gravediggers, and trash collectors lived outside the caste structure. They were dubbed “untouchables” because even their presence jeopardized the ritual purity of others. They had no rights and were unable to advance or marry outside of their caste.

According to Schweiger Lerchenfeld (1846–1910), the Austrian scholar familiar with world history, instead of the monogamy of previous centuries, the Brahmins introduced polygamy. They set an example when a person sometimes married an entire family, “old and young, daughters, aunts, sisters, and cousins.” One Brahmin was known to have had 120 wives. In such cultural conditions, a man or a woman subordinated family feelings to caste considerations.

The Strange Cultural Beliefs of Brahmanism on Conjugal Love

The Brahmins also introduced the custom of “Suttee”, the burning alive of widows on the funeral pyre of the deceased husband. It was performed through a sophisticated interpretation of ancient laws. This practice was sometimes viewed as the apogee of conjugal love. However, actually it was merely what modern psychology calls an “epidemic delusion.” This cultural belief represented the poor women who were willing to sacrifice themselves and die in this manner particularly meritorious and voluptuous. On the other hand, those who refused to be immolated were treated as social outcasts. They were not permitted to marry again or adorn themselves in any way.

The Poor Status of Women in the Laws of Manu

The way the laws of Manu, or the Manusmṛiti, also known as the Mānava-Dharmaśāstra describe the roles of women in society demonstrates how badly they were thought of in Indian society of that cultural period. Here are some of the sayings that this book presents:

“A woman is the cause of dishonor, the cause of hatred, and the cause of a boring life. Because of this, women should be avoided. “

“A girl, a young woman, or a wife must never do anything on her own, not even in her own home.”

“A woman should serve her husband her whole life and stay true to him even after she dies. Even if he lies to her, loves someone else, or has no good qualities, a good wife should still respect him as if he were a god, and she shouldn’t do anything to make him unhappy, either in life or after she dies. “

According to the text, the women’s lives got so bad that Indian mothers “often drowned their female children in the sacred streams of India” to protect them from what life had in store for them.

(cited by H. Finck, 1887/2019, p. 77).

As Charles LeTourneau, the 19th century sociologist and ethnographer of Indian culture, commented,

“Hindu laws and manners have been based on the sacred precepts right up to the present day.”

It wasn’t proper for a woman to be able to read or dance. The Bayadere, an Indian courtesan, was to fulfill these futile social duties.

(cited by H. Finck, 1887/2019, p. 77).

How Romantic Was the Ancient Aryan Love?

The term “Aryan culture” refers to the ancient cultural civilizations that existed many centuries ago. The word “Aryan” was often used interchangeably with “Indo-European” to mean Indo-Iranian languages.

Here I will talk about Aryan love.

Who Were the Aryans?

In the past, the word “Aryan” was used to refer to the people who spoke the old Indo-European languages. Those prehistoric Aryans were nomad warriors who colonized northern India around 1500 BCE, 500 years after the Indus River Valley collapsed. These fair-skinned ancient people settled in Iran and northern India.

The Aryans were hunter-herders at first. When they migrated to India, they learned agriculture and built settlements and cities, beginning Aryan civilization. Literature, religion, and social structure have substantially influenced Indian culture.

The Ancient Aryan Culture Was Favorable for Love

Before the introduction of Brahminism in India in the early 1st millennium BCE, the Aryan culture was greatly different. Women were held in high regard. They had many rights and enjoyed a variety of privileges. They had opportunities for free communication and social interaction with men. The cultural conditions of the Aryan culture in that historic period entertained the ideas of “romantic love”. Nevertheless, Aryans favored monogamous marital relationships. Monogamous marriage was the typical mode of marriage and family formation.

All these cultural factors were conducive to love. At that time—about 1200 or 1500 years ago, at least some of the Indian population had experienced many of the feelings and emotions that are associated with the modern understanding of love.

Here Are the Ancient Hindoo Love Maxims

The Seven Hundred Maxims of Hala were published in India no later than in the 3rd century of our era. This collection of Aryan poetic utterances represented interesting and valuable descriptions of cultural ideas of love that educated and entertained people during those times. They are written in Prakrit, which is a language that is closely related to Sanskrit.

The structure of the words suggests that they were meant to be sung. The Bayaderes, the Indian female dancers, who were often clothed in loose Eastern costumes, presumably sang some of those maxims. Others were sung by dancing girls from Buddhist temples. Their singing appealed to emancipate women from the domestic and educational constraints placed on them. They also sought to fascinate men with their wit, love, and aesthetic accomplishments.

The majority of the maxims are feminine utterances, and often of dubious moral character. Some of these early Aryan love revelations might have an unpleasant aftertaste.

Nevertheless, they are still extremely interesting and demonstrate how “romantic love” is dependent on a woman’s freedom as well as on corresponding intellectual and aesthetic culture.

What the Hindoo Love Maxims Tell Us About The maxims of Halâ indicate that the beautiful overtones of love, joyful adoration, and poetic hyperbole depicted in its romantic expressions were present in Aryan culture of the far past. That was a unique cultural phenomenon that love scholars have not yet come across elsewhere. What can be more contemporary than these quotes?

“Although all my possessions were burnt in the village fire, yet is my heart delighted, since he took the buckets from me when they were passed from hand to hand.”

Or this one:

“O thou who art skilled in cookery, restrain thy anger! The reason why the fire refuses to burn, and only smokes, is that it may the longer drink in the breath of your mouth, fragrant as the red potato-blossoms.”

The following two examples illustrate how Aryans appreciated personal beauty:

“He sees nothing but her face, and she too is quite intoxicated by his looks. Both, satisfied with each other, act as if in the whole world there were no other women or men.”

“Other beauties likewise have in their faces beautiful, wide black eyes, with long lashes,—but no one else understands as she does how to use them.”

The following quotes illustrate how love established its monopoly in the Aryan heart and mind, leaving no room for any other thoughts:

“She stares without a (visible) object, draws a deep sigh, laughs into empty space, mutters unintelligible words—forsooth, there must be something on her heart.”

“Love departs when lovers are separated; it departs when they see too much of each other; it departs in consequence of malicious gossip; aye, it departs also without these causes.”

It appears that Aryans clearly comprehended the nature of coyness, as the lover was admonished in this way:

“My son, such is the nature of love, suddenly to get angry, to make up again in a moment, to dissemble its language, to tease immoderately.”

The loving poet believes it necessary to tell a sweetheart that:

“By forgiving him at first sight, you foolish girl, you deprived yourself of many pleasures,—of his prostration at your feet [a trace of Gallantry], of a kiss passionately stolen.”

A voice was also given to the anguish that comes from being apart:

“As is sickness without a physician; as living with relatives when one is poor,—as the sight of an enemy’s prosperity,—so is it difficult to endure separation from you.”

Thus, one can see that many of the defining characteristics of contemporary romantic ardor can be found in ancient Aryan love.

(H. Finck, 1887/2019, p. 75).

It seems that those were the times when romantic love was real.

Did Love Exist in Ancient Aryan Culture?

The cultural connotations of the word “Aryan” can be different.

Many of us might recall the popular modern name “Aryan.”

Some may think of the word in association with the notion of white racial superiority, which is incorrect.

However, few people are aware that Aryan culture was among the ancient cultures of the past centuries. The references to the cultures associated with Indo-European languages are the most frequent and adequate in this context. Here we talk about true ancient Aryan culture.

What Is Aryan Culture?

“Aryan” is the name originally given to a people who spoke an archaic Indo-European language.

The linguistic origin of the word was in the Sanskrit term “arya” (meaning “noble” or “distinguished”). The word had a social rather than an ethnic meaning. The term “Aryan” was used interchangeably with “Indo-European” and frequently in the meaning of referring to the Indo-Iranian languages.

The Aryan people presumably settled in ancient Iran and the northern Indian subcontinent during prehistoric times. Around 1500 BCE, roughly 500 years after the collapse of the Indus River Valley civilization, Aryan nomad warriors began colonizing northern India. The likely fair-skinned Aryans were the invaders and conquerors of ancient India from the northern territories.

Originally, the Aryans were hunters and herders. When they migrated to the Indian subcontinent, they learned agriculture and began constructing settlements and cities, marking the beginning of Aryan civilization in India. Their literature, religion, and social organization subsequently shaped the development of Indian culture.

What Was the Meaning of Love in Aryan Culture? 

Modern love has bloomed most beautifully among the Aryan or “Indo-Germanic” races in European and American cultures. Therefore, it is intriguing to learn about its prevalence among the Asiatic peoples. They appear to be the closest modern representatives of our distant Aryan ancestors.

Somewhere between 1200 and 1500 years ago, there was a time in Indian history when culture entertained the idea of romantic love.

The Seven Hundred Maxims of Hala is a collection of poetic utterances written by various authors. The texts date back to no further than the 3rd century of our era. It included as many as 16 authors of the female persuasion. They are written in Prakrit, which is a language that is closely related to Sanscrit, and the structure of the words suggests that they were meant to be sung.

This evidence is contained in the Seven Hundred Maxims of Hâla, a collection of poetic utterances dating back not further than the third century of our era and comprising productions by various authors, including as many as sixteen of the female persuasion. They are written in Prâkrit, a sister-language of Sanscrit. Their form indicates that they were intended to be sung. A German indologist, Albrecht Weber (1825–1901), who studied the history of India, commented on this collection in the Deutsche Rundschau, a literary and political periodical of the 19th century:

 “At the very beginning of our acquaintance with Sanscrit literature, towards the end of the last century, it was noticed, and was claimed forthwith as an eloquent proof of antique relationship, that Indian poetry, especially of the amatory kind, is in character remarkably allied to our own modern poetry. The sentimental qualities of modern verse, in one word, were traced in Indian poetry in a much higher degree than they had been found in Greek and Roman literature; and this discovery awakened at once, notably in Germany, a sympathetic interest in a country whose poets spoke a language so well known to our hearts, as though they had been born among ourselves.”

(cited by Henry Finck (1887/2019, p. 74).