The Stem-land of the Aryans. The problem of the cradle of the Aryan race will probably never be solved with' certainty. Airyana-vaejah, 'the stem-land of the Aryans,' is spoken of as the first of the good lands created by Ahura Mazda.1 It had a mild and genial climate, with long, pleasant summers and short winters. Unlike Indian Yama, who chose the realm of the dead and established his suzerainty in the heavenly world, Yima was the illustrious king who ruled over men and beasts and converted his kingdom into a veritable paradise upon earth. Animals and mankind prospered and grew in such large numbers in his memorable reign, which tradition has subsequently regarded as the Golden Age of Iran, that the country could no longer hold them. Ahura Mazda, thereupon, bade him to lead his overflowing population to migrate southwards, on the way of the sun. Yima carried out the divine behest and yet the difficulty was not solved, for the numbers kept on increasing steadily. The king organized a second migration again towards the south and still a third in the same direction.2 Moreover, the happy home of the Aryans was destined to be further disturbed, Ahura Mazda knew this through his omniscience and he called a conference of the angels and summoned Yima to attend it with the best of his men.3 He then warned the king that Angra Mainyu, the enemy of God and men, contemplated invasion of Airyana-vaejah. He would cause evil winter to fall that would bring fierce, deadly frost. Such dense desolation would follow the icy deluge that every vestige of human habitation would disappear and it would be a wonder if even a footprint of a sheep could be seen.4 Angra Mainyu did invade the happy home of the Aryans and plagued it with a deluge of snow and ice. Forewarned by Ahura Mazda, the mighty king took timely measures, and before Angra Mainyu <9> cause destruction and death, through deadly deluge, or, in the language of geology, before the glacial cataclysm rendered the primeval Aryan home unfit for habitation, he led a further successful migration towards the hospitable south.
The Indo-Europeans. This virile race, white in colour and fair of complexion, called itself Aryan or noble. It was the parent of the Indo-European peoples of history, These members of the Aryan family lived long as a homogeneous people speaking the same language with dialectic differences and shared many beliefs and practices in common.
Pressure of growing population, thirst for adventure, sharp divisions caused by the fermentation going on in the minds of thinking persons over religious beliefs and practices continued to disintegrate them. During the early part of the second millennium B.C., nomad tribes left their home and turned westwards and reached the Aegean lands or turned southwards in successive waves from the steppes of the Caspian Sea. Scattered tribes passed by the chain of Caucasus, entered Armenia and spread southwards. Some of the more virile tribes succeeded in founding small Aryan kingdoms. They have left traces of their Aryan beliefs and practices. The Kassites, who rose to power in the Zagros in 1700 B.C., designated godhead by the Indo-European term bugash, Av. baga, Skt. bhaga, Slav. bogu, Phrygian, bagaios, and worshipped Suryash, Skt. surya, the sun, as their chief god. The Mitannis, who founded an Aryan empire between the Euphrates and the Tigris, have left behind them the record of their own names, such as Dushratta, Artatama, and the names of the Aryan divinities Mitra, Indra, Varuna, and Nasatya in an inscription dating 14th century B.C. at Boghaz-Keui. The trend of migration continued until We see the Aryan Medes at a later date facing the Semitic Assyrians as their immediate neighbours.
The Indo-Iranians. The other migratory wave extended earlier towards the Elburz
Of the various sections of the Aryan family, the ancestors of those that later became known in history as the Indians and the Iranians lived longest and closest together in eastern Iran. They sacrificed to the same gods and entertained the same view of life upon earth. They separated at a later period and a group turned towards the south, crossed the Hindukush and entered the Panjaub by about 2000 B.C.
The great Aryan family thus dispersed during several generations and the members sought out for themselves new settlements in Asia and Europe. Of the various groups that separated from the main stock at different times, the Iranian group preserved most faithfully the original name of the primeval home of the Aryans. The place of residence had changed, the surroundings had altered beyond recognition, and the communities that lived and shared life with them had gone. But the deeply cherished name Airyana-vaejah had been indelibly imprinted on their minds. The veneration for the stem-land lived, the memory of its paradisaic condition still lingered, the auspicious name Airyana-vaejah continued still to be passionately loved, and the Iranians resolved that their latest settlement should be known for ever by no other name than Airyana vaejah of happy memory.