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Title: India: What can it teach us? - A Course of Lectures Delivered before the University Of Cambridge
Author: Müller, F. Max (Friedrich Max), 1823-1900
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "India: What can it teach us? - A Course of Lectures Delivered before the University Of Cambridge" ***

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                        WHAT CAN IT TEACH US?

                         A Course of Lectures



                         F. MAX MÜLLER, K.M.

                   _TEXT AND FOOT-NOTES COMPLETE._


                     PROF. ALEXANDER WILDER, M.D.

                              NEW YORK:

                     FUNK & WAGNALLS, PUBLISHERS,

                        10 AND 12 DEY STREET.

       *       *       *       *       *


This volume contains the entire text of the English edition, also all
the footnotes. Those portions of the Appendix which serve to
illustrate the text are inserted in their appropriate places as
footnotes. That part of the Appendix which is of special interest only
to the Sanscrit scholar is omitted.

Professor Max Müller writes in this book not as a theologian but as a
scholar, not intending either to attack or defend Christian theology.
His style is charming, because he always writes with freedom and
animation. In some passages possibly his language might be
misunderstood. We have thought it best to add a few notes. The notes
of the American editor are signed "A.W.;" ours, "Am. Pubs."

       *       *       *       *       *






       *       *       *       *       *

MY DEAR COWELL: As these Lectures would never have been written or
delivered but for your hearty encouragement, I hope you will now allow
me to dedicate them to you, not only as a token of my sincere
admiration of your great achievements as an Oriental scholar, but also
as a memorial of our friendship, now more than thirty years old, a
friendship which has grown from year to year, has weathered many a
storm, and will last, I trust, for what to both of us may remain of
our short passage from shore to shore.

I must add, however, that in dedicating these Lectures to you, I do
not wish to throw upon you any responsibility for the views which I
have put forward in them. I know that you do not agree with some of my
views on the ancient religion and literature of India, and I am well
aware that with regard to the recent date which I have assigned to the
whole of what is commonly called the Classical Sanskrit Literature, I
stand almost alone. No, if friendship can claim any voice in the
courts of science and literature, let me assure you that I shall
consider your outspoken criticism of my Lectures as the very best
proof of your true and honest friendship. I have through life
considered it the greatest honor if real scholars, I mean men not only
of learning, but of judgment and character, have considered my
writings worthy of a severe and searching criticism; and I have cared
far more for the production of one single new fact, though it spoke
against me, than for any amount of empty praise or empty abuse.
Sincere devotion to his studies and an unswerving love of truth ought
to furnish the true scholar with an armor impermeable to flattery or
abuse, and with a visor that shuts out no ray of light, from whatever
quarter it may come. More light, more truth, more facts, more
combination of facts, these are his quest. And if in that quest he
fails, as many have failed before him, he knows that in the search for
truth failures are sometimes the condition of victory, and the true
conquerors often those whom the world calls the vanquished.

You know better than anybody else the present state of Sanskrit
scholarship. You know that at present and for some time to come
Sanskrit scholarship means discovery and conquest. Every one of your
own works marks a real advance, and a permanent occupation of new
ground. But you know also how small a strip has as yet been explored
of the vast continent of Sanskrit literature, and how much still
remains _terra incognita_. No doubt this exploring work is
troublesome, and often disappointing, but young students must learn
the truth of a remark lately made by a distinguished member of the
Indian Civil Service, whose death we all deplore, Dr. Burnell, "that
no trouble is thrown away which saves trouble to others." We want men
who will work hard, even at the risk of seeing their labors
unrequited; we want strong and bold men who are not afraid of storms
and shipwrecks. The worst sailors are not those who suffer shipwreck,
but those who only dabble in puddles and are afraid of wetting their

It is easy now to criticise the labors of Sir William Jones, Thomas
Colebrooke, and Horace Hayman Wilson, but what would have become of
Sanskrit scholarship if they had not rushed in where even now so many
fear to tread? and what will become of Sanskrit scholarship if their
conquests are forever to mark the limits of our knowledge? You know
best that there is more to be discovered in Sanskrit literature than
Nalas and _S_akuntalâs, and surely the young men who every year go out
to India are not deficient in the spirit of enterprise, or even of
adventure? Why, then, should it be said that the race of bold
explorers, who once rendered the name of the Indian Civil Service
illustrious over the whole world, has well-nigh become extinct, and
that England, which offers the strongest incentives and the most
brilliant opportunities for the study of the ancient language,
literature, and history of India, is no longer in the van of Sanskrit

If some of the young candidates for the Indian Civil Service who
listened to my Lectures, quietly made up their minds that such a
reproach shall be wiped out, if a few of them at least determined to
follow in the footsteps of Sir William Jones, and to show to the world
that Englishmen who have been able to achieve by pluck, by
perseverance, and by real political genius the material conquest of
India, do not mean to leave the laurels of its intellectual conquest
entirely to other countries, then I shall indeed rejoice, and feel
that I have paid back, in however small a degree, the large debt of
gratitude which I owe to my adopted country and to some of its
greatest statesmen, who have given me the opportunity which I could
find nowhere else of realizing the dreams of my life--the publication
of the text and commentary of the Rig-Veda, the most ancient book of
Sanskrit, aye of Aryan literature, and now the edition of the
translations of the "Sacred Books of the East."

I have left my Lectures very much as I delivered them at Cambridge. I
am fond of the form of Lectures, because it seems to me the most natural
form which in our age didactic composition ought to take. As in ancient
Greece the dialogue reflected most truly the intellectual life of the
people, and as in the Middle Ages learned literature naturally assumed
with the recluse in his monastic cell the form of a long monologue, so
with us the lecture places the writer most readily in that position in
which he is accustomed to deal with his fellow-men, and to communicate
his knowledge to others. It has no doubt certain disadvantages. In a
lecture which is meant to be didactic, we have, for the sake of
completeness, to say and to repeat certain things which must be familiar
to some of our readers, while we are also forced to leave out
information which, even in its imperfect form, we should probably not
hesitate to submit to our fellow-students, but which we feel we have not
yet sufficiently mastered and matured to enable us to place it clearly
and simply before a larger public.

But the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. A lecture, by keeping a
critical audience constantly before our eyes, forces us to condense
our subject, to discriminate between what is important and what is
not, and often to deny ourselves the pleasure of displaying what may
have cost us the greatest labor, but is of little consequence to other
scholars. In lecturing we are constantly reminded of what students are
so apt to forget, that their knowledge is meant not for themselves
only, but for others, and that to know well means to be able to teach
well. I confess I can never write unless I think of somebody for whom
I write, and I should never wish for a better audience to have before
my mind than the learned, brilliant, and kind-hearted assembly by
which I was greeted in your University.

Still I must confess that I did not succeed in bringing all I wished
to say, and more particularly the evidence on which some of my
statements rested, up to the higher level of a lecture; and I have
therefore added a number of notes containing the less-organized matter
which resisted as yet that treatment which is necessary before our
studies can realize their highest purpose, that of feeding,
invigorating, and inspiriting the minds of others.

Yours affectionately,


OXFORD, December, 1882.

       *       *       *       *       *











       *       *       *       *       *


Professor Max Müller has been so long and widely known in the world of
letters as to render any formal introduction unnecessary. He has been
from his early youth an assiduous student of philology, justly
regarding it as an important key to history and an invaluable
auxiliary to intellectual progress. A glance at his personal career
will show the ground upon which his reputation is established.

Friedrich Maximilian Müller, the son of Wilhelm Müller, the Saxon
poet, was born at Dessau, December 6th, 1823. He matriculated at
Leipzig in his eighteenth year, giving his principal attention to
classical philology, and receiving his degree in 1843. He immediately
began a course of Oriental studies, chiefly Sanskrit, under the
supervision of Professor Brockhaus, and in 1844 engaged in his
translation of the "Hitopadesa." He removed from Leipzig to Berlin,
and attended the lectures of Bopp, Rücker, and Schelling. The next
year he went to Paris to listen to Eugene Burnouf at the Collége de
France. He now began the collecting of material for his great quarto
edition of the "Rig-Veda Sanhita" and the "Commentary of
Ságanadránja." He visited England for this purpose to examine the
manuscripts in the Bodleian Library and at the Indian House. At the
recommendation of H. H. Wilson, the Orientalist, he was commissioned
by the East India Company to publish his edition in England at their
expense. The first volume appeared in 1849, and five others followed
during the next few years.

In 1850 he delivered a course of "Lectures on Comparative Philology"
at Oxford, and the next year was made member of Christ Church,
curator, etc., and appointed Taylorian Professor of Modern European
Languages and Literature. He received also numerous other marks of
distinction from universities, and was made one of the eight foreign
members of the Institute of France. The Volney prize was awarded him
by the French Academy for his "Essay on the Comparative Philology of
Indo-European Languages and its Bearing on the Early Civilization of

His writings have been numerous. Besides editing the translations of
the "Sacred Books of the Principal Religions," he has published a
"Handbook for the Study of Sanskrit," a "Sanskrit-English Dictionary
and Grammar," "Lectures upon the Science of Language," "An
Introduction to the Science of Religion," "Essays on Mythology,"
"Chips from a German Workshop," etc. He seems to have no intermission,
but penetrates where others would not have ventured, or have faltered
from utter weariness. In the field of philology he has few peers,
while in early Sanskrit learning he has virtually taken the part of an
innovator. While reverently following after Sir William Jones,
Colebrooke, Windischmann, Bopp, and others of equal distinction, he
sets aside the received views in regard to chronology and historical
occurrences. The era of Vikramâditya and the Golden Age of Sanskrit
literature, bearing a date almost simultaneous with the Augustan
period at the West, are postponed by him to a later century. It may be
that he has overlooked some canon of interpretation that would have
modified his results. Those, however, who hesitate to accept his
conclusions freely acknowledge his scholarly enthusiasm, persistent
energy, and great erudition.

Sanskrit in his judgment constitutes an essential element of a liberal
education. While heartily admiring the employment of some of the best
talent and noblest genius of our age in the study of development in
the outward world, from the first growth of the earth and the
beginning of organic life to the highest stages, he pleads earnestly
that there is an inward and intellectual world also to be studied in
its historical development in strict analogy with the other, leading
up to the beginning of rational thought in its steady progress from
the lowest to the highest stages. In that study of the history of the
human mind, in that study of ourselves, our true selves, India
occupies a place which is second to no other country. Whatever sphere
of the human mind may be selected for special study, whether language,
religion, mythology, or philosophy, whether laws, customs, primitive
art or primitive science, we must go to India, because some of the
most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are
treasured up there, and there only. He inveighs most eloquently
against the narrowing of our horizon to the history of Greeks and
Romans, Saxons and Celts, with a dim background of Palestine, Egypt,
and Babylon, leaving out of sight our nearest intellectual relatives,
the Aryans of India, the framers of that most wonderful language the
Sanskrit, the fellow-workers in the construction of our fundamental
concepts, the fathers of the most natural of natural religions, the
makers of the most transparent of mythologies, the inventors of the
most subtle philosophy, and the givers of the most elaborate laws. It
is the purpose of historical study to enable each generation to
profit from the experience of those who came before, and advance
toward higher aims, without being obliged to start anew from the same
point as its ancestors after the manner of every race of brutes. He
who knows little of those who preceded is very likely to care little
for those coming after. "Life would be to him a chain of sand, while
it ought to be a kind of electric chain that makes our hearts tremble
and vibrate with the most ancient thoughts of the Past, as well as
with the most distant hopes of the Future."

In no just sense is this an exaggeration. Deep as science and research
have explored, extensive as is the field which genius and art have
occupied, they have an Herculean labor yet to perform before India
will have yielded up all her opulence of learning. The literature of
the world in all ages has been richly furnished, if not actually
inspired, from that fountain. The Wisdom of the Ancients, so much
lauded in the earlier writings of Hebrews, Greeks, and Phoenicians,
was abundantly represented in the lore of these Wise Men of the East.

The first Ionian sages lighted the torch of philosophy at the altar of
Zoroaster. The conquest of Asia Minor by the Persians brought Thales,
Anaximenes, and Herakleïtos into contact with the Eranian dogmas. The
leaven thus imparted had a potent influence upon the entire mass of
Grecian thought. We find it easy to trace its action upon opinions in
later periods and among the newer nations. Kant, Hegel, Stewart, and
Hamilton, as well as Platô, Zenô, and Aristotle, had their prototypes
in the world and antiquity beyond. Even the first Zarathustra was an
exponent and not the originator of the Religion and Science of Light.
We are thus carried by this route back to the ancient Aryan Home for
the sources from which so many golden streams have issued. In the
Sanskrit books and mantras we must look for the treasures that make
human souls rich. Perhaps we have been too much disposed to regard
that former world as a wonderland, a repertory of folk-lore, or a
theatre of gross and revolting superstition. We are now required by
candor and justice to revise such notions. These primeval peoples, in
their way and in a language akin to ours, adored the Father in heaven,
and contemplated the future of the soul with a sure and certain hope.

Nor did they, while observing the myriads of races intervening between
man and the monad, regard the world beyond as waste and void.
Intelligences of every grade were believed to people the region
between mortals and the Infinite. The angels and archangels, and the
spirits of the just made perfect--_devas_ and _pitris_ they called
them--ministered about the throne of the Supreme Being, and abode in
the various spheres of universal space. Much of the difference between
our thought and theirs consists in the names and not in the substance
of our beliefs.

We may thus be prepared to receive what India can teach us. In her
classic dialect, the Sanskrit, we may read with what success the
children of the men who journeyed from the ancient Aryan Home into the
Punjâb and Aryavartta have ventured "to look inward upon themselves,
upward to something not themselves, and to see whether they could not
understand a little of the true purport of that mystery which we call
life upon earth." It was perfectly natural, as well as perfectly
right, that as the beholder caught a glance of the Infinite Beyond,
the image impressed itself upon his sensorium, as would be the case
from looking at the sun, and he would as a result perceive that
Infinite in all that he looked upon. Thus to the Sanskrit-speaking
Aryan, as to the enlightened mind of to-day, not to see it was utter
blindness. What we call science, law, morality, religion, was in his
view pervaded alike throughout by this concept of Divine presence, or
else it would have been less than a dream that had not come to the
awaking. He was a follower of the light, not from the senses or the
logical understanding, but from the eternal world. Let us not dwell on
any darker shade of the picture. Clouds are dark to those who are
beneath them; but on the upper side, where the sun shines, they glow
with golden splendor. Let us be willing to contemplate India
fraternally, and upon that side where the radiance of the Divine sheds
a refulgent illumination.


NEWARK, N. J., May 14th, 1883.

       *       *       *       *       *




When I received from the Board of Historical Studies at Cambridge the
invitation to deliver a course of lectures, specially intended for the
candidates for the Indian Civil Service, I hesitated for some time,
feeling extremely doubtful whether in a few public discourses I could
say anything that would be of real use to them in passing their
examinations. To enable young men to pass their examinations seems now
to have become the chief, if not the only object of the universities;
and to no class of students is it of greater importance to pass their
examinations, and to pass them well, than to the candidates for the
Indian Civil Service.

But although I was afraid that attendance on a few public lectures,
such as I could give, would hardly benefit a candidate who was not
already fully prepared to pass through the fiery ordeal of the three
London examinations, I could not on the other hand shut my eyes
completely to the fact that, after all, universities were not meant
entirely, or even chiefly, as stepping-stones to an examination, but
that there is something else which universities can teach and ought to
teach--nay, which I feel quite sure they were originally meant to
teach--something that may not have a marketable value before a Board
of Examiners, but which has a permanent value for the whole of our
life, and that is a real interest in our work, and, more than that, a
love of our work, and, more than that, a true joy and happiness in our
work. If a university can teach that, if it can engraft that one small
living germ in the minds of the young men who come here to study and
to prepare themselves for the battle of life, and, for what is still
more difficult to encounter, the daily dull drudgery of life, then, I
feel convinced, a university has done more, and conferred a more
lasting benefit on its pupils than by helping them to pass the most
difficult examinations, and to take the highest place among Senior
Wranglers or First-Class men.

Unfortunately, that kind of work which is now required for passing one
examination after another, that process of cramming and crowding which
has of late been brought to the highest pitch of perfection, has often
the very opposite effect, and instead of exciting an appetite for
work, it is apt to produce an indifference, if not a kind of
intellectual nausea, that may last for life.

And nowhere is this so much to be feared as in the case of candidates
for the Indian Civil Service. After they have passed their first
examination for admission to the Indian Civil Service, and given proof
that they have received the benefits of a liberal education, and
acquired that general information in classics, history, and
mathematics, which is provided at our public schools, and forms no
doubt the best and surest foundation for all more special and
professional studies in later life, they suddenly find themselves torn
away from their old studies and their old friends, and compelled to
take up new subjects which to many of them seem strange, outlandish,
if not repulsive. Strange alphabets, strange languages, strange names,
strange literatures and laws have to be faced, "to be got up" as it is
called, not from choice, but from dire necessity. The whole course of
study during two years is determined for them, the subjects fixed, the
books prescribed, the examinations regulated, and there is no time to
look either right or left, if a candidate wishes to make sure of
taking each successive fence in good style, and without an accident.

I know quite well that this cannot be helped. I am not speaking
against the system of examinations in general, if only they are
intelligently conducted; nay, as an old examiner myself, I feel bound
to say that the amount of knowledge produced ready-made at these
examinations is to my mind perfectly astounding. But while the answers
are there on paper, strings of dates, lists of royal names and
battles, irregular verbs, statistical figures and whatever else you
like, how seldom do we find that the heart of the candidates is in the
work which they have to do. The results produced are certainly most
ample and voluminous, but they rarely contain a spark of original
thought, or even a clever mistake. It is work done from necessity, or,
let us be just, from a sense of duty, but it is seldom, or hardly
ever, a labor of love.

Now why should that be? Why should a study of Greek or Latin--of the
poetry, the philosophy, the laws and the art of Greece and Italy--seem
congenial to us, why should it excite even a certain enthusiasm, and
command general respect, while a study of Sanskrit, and of the ancient
poetry, the philosophy, the laws, and the art of India is looked upon,
in the best case, as curious, but is considered by most people as
useless, tedious, if not absurd?

And, strange to say, this feeling exists in England more than in any
other country. In France, Germany, and Italy, even in Denmark, Sweden,
and Russia, there is a vague charm connected with the name of India.
One of the most beautiful poems in the German language is the
_Weisheit der Brahmanen_, the "Wisdom of the Brahmans," by Rückert, to
my mind more rich in thought and more perfect in form than even
Goethe's _West-östlicher Divan_. A scholar who studies Sanskrit in
Germany is supposed to be initiated in the deep and dark mysteries of
ancient wisdom, and a man who has travelled in India, even if he has
only discovered Calcutta, or Bombay, or Madras, is listened to like
another Marco Polo. In England a student of Sanskrit is generally
considered a bore, and an old Indian civil servant, if he begins to
describe the marvels of Elephanta or the Towers of Silence, runs the
risk of producing a count-out.

There are indeed a few Oriental scholars whose works are read, and who
have acquired a certain celebrity in England, because they were really
men of uncommon genius, and would have ranked among the great glories
of the country, but for the misfortune that their energies were
devoted to Indian literature--I mean Sir William Jones, "one of the
most enlightened of the sons of men," as Dr. Johnson called him, and
Thomas Colebrooke. But the names of others who have done good work in
their day also, men such as Ballantyne, Buchanan, Carey, Crawfurd,
Davis, Elliot, Ellis, Houghton, Leyden, Mackenzie, Marsden, Muir,
Prinsep, Rennell, Turnour, Upham, Wallich, Warren, Wilkins, Wilson,
and many others, are hardly known beyond the small circle of Oriental
scholars; and their works are looked for in vain in libraries which
profess to represent with a certain completeness the principal
branches of scholarship and science in England.

How many times, when I advised young men, candidates for the Indian
Civil Service, to devote themselves before all things to a study of
Sanskrit, have I been told, "What is the use of our studying Sanskrit?
There are translations of _S_akuntalâ, Manu, and the Hitopade_s_a, and
what else is there in that literature that is worth reading? Kâlidâsa
may be very pretty, and the Laws of Manu are very curious, and the
fables of the Hitopade_s_a are very quaint; but you would not compare
Sanskrit literature with Greek, or recommend us to waste our time in
copying and editing Sanskrit texts which either teach us nothing that
we do not know already, or teach us something which we do not care to

This seems to me a most unhappy misconception, and it will be the
chief object of my lectures to try to remove it, or at all events to
modify it, as much as possible. I shall not attempt to prove that
Sanskrit literature is as good as Greek literature. Why should we
always compare? A study of Greek literature has its own purpose, and a
study of Sanskrit literature has its own purpose; but what I feel
convinced of, and hope to convince you of, is that Sanskrit
literature, if studied only in a right spirit, is full of human
interests, full of lessons which even Greek could never teach us, a
subject worthy to occupy the leisure, and more than the leisure, of
every Indian civil servant; and certainly the best means of making any
young man who has to spend five-and-twenty years of his life in India,
feel at home among the Indians, as a fellow-worker among
fellow-workers, and not as an alien among aliens. There will be
abundance of useful and most interesting work for him to do, if only
he cares to do it, work such as he would look for in vain, whether in
Italy or in Greece, or even among the pyramids of Egypt or the palaces
of Babylon.

You will now understand why I have chosen as the title of my lectures,
"What can India teach us?" True, there are many things which India has
to learn from us; but there are other things, and, in one sense, very
important things, which we too may learn from India.

If I were to look over the whole world to find out the country most
richly endowed with all the wealth, power, and beauty that nature can
bestow--in some parts a very paradise on earth--I should point to
India. If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most full
developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the
greatest problems of life, and has found solutions of some of them
which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato
and Kant--I should point to India. And if I were to ask myself from
what literature we, here in Europe, we who have been nurtured almost
exclusively on the thoughts of Greeks and Romans, and of one Semitic
race, the Jewish, may draw that corrective which is most wanted in
order to make our inner life more perfect, more comprehensive, more
universal, in fact more truly human, a life, not for this life only,
but a transfigured and eternal life--again I should point to India.

I know you will be surprised to hear me say this. I know that more
particularly those who have spent many years of active life in
Calcutta, or Bombay, or Madras, will be horror-struck at the idea that
the humanity they meet with there, whether in the bazaars or in the
courts of justice, or in so-called native society, should be able to
teach _us_ any lessons.

Let me therefore explain at once to my friends who may have lived in
India for years, as civil servants, or officers, or missionaries, or
merchants, and who ought to know a great deal more of that country
than one who has never set foot on the soil of Âryâvarta, that we are
speaking of two very different Indias. I am thinking chiefly of India
such as it was a thousand, two thousand, it may be three thousand
years ago; they think of the India of to-day. And again, when thinking
of the India of to-day, they remember chiefly the India of Calcutta,
Bombay, or Madras, the India of the towns. I look to the India of the
village communities, the true India of the Indians.

What I wish to show to you, I mean more especially the candidates for
the Indian Civil Service, is that this India of a thousand, or two
thousand, or three thousand years ago, ay the India of to-day also, if
only you know where to look for it, is full of problems, the solution
of which concerns all of us, even us in this Europe of the nineteenth

If you have acquired any special tastes here in England, you will find
plenty to satisfy them in India; and whoever has learned to take an
interest in any of the great problems that occupy the best thinkers
and workers at home, need certainly not be afraid of India proving to
him an intellectual exile.

If you care for geology, there is work for you from the Himalayas to

If you are fond of botany, there is a flora rich enough for many

If you are a zoologist, think of Haeckel, who is just now rushing
through Indian forests and dredging in Indian seas, and to whom his
stay in India is like the realization of the brightest dream of his

If you are interested in ethnology, why India is like a living
ethnological museum.

If you are fond of archæology, if you have ever assisted at the
opening of a barrow in England, and know the delight of finding a
fibula, or a knife, or a flint in a heap of rubbish, read only General
Cunningham's "Annual Reports of the Archæological Survey of India,"
and you will be impatient for the time when you can take your spade
and bring to light the ancient Vihâras or colleges built by the
Buddhist monarchs of India.

If ever you amused yourselves with collecting coins, why the soil of
India teems with coins, Persian, Carian, Thracian, Parthian, Greek,
Macedonian, Scythian, Roman,[1] and Mohammedan. When Warren Hastings
was Governor-General, an earthen pot was found on the bank of a river
in the province of Benares, containing one hundred and seventy-two
gold darics.[2] Warren Hastings considered himself as making the most
munificent present to his masters that he might ever have it in his
power to send them, by presenting those ancient coins to the Court of
Directors. The story is that they were sent to the melting-pot. At all
events they had disappeared when Warren Hastings returned to England.
It rests with you to prevent the revival of such vandalism.

In one of the last numbers of the _Asiatic Journal of Bengal_ you may
read of the discovery of a treasure as rich in gold almost as some of
the tombs opened by Dr. Schliemann at Mykenæ, nay, I should add,
perhaps, not quite unconnected with some of the treasures found at
Mykenæ; yet hardly any one has taken notice of it in England![3]

The study of Mythology has assumed an entirely new character, chiefly
owing to the light that has been thrown on it by the ancient Vedic
Mythology of India. But though the foundation of a true Science of
Mythology has been laid, all the detail has still to be worked out,
and could be worked out nowhere better than in India.

Even the study of fables owes its new life to India, from whence the
various migrations of fables have been traced at various times and
through various channels from East to West.[4] Buddhism is now known
to have been the principal source of our legends and parables. But
here, too, many problems still wait for their solution. Think, for
instance, of the allusion to the fable of the donkey in the lion's
skin, which occurs in Plato's Cratylus.[5] Was that borrowed from the
East? Or take the fable of the weasel changed by Aphroditê into a
woman who, when she saw a mouse, could not refrain from making a
spring at it. This, too, is very like a Sanskrit fable; but how then
could it have been brought into Greece early enough to appear in one
of the comedies of Strattis, about 400 B.C.?[6] Here, too, there is
still plenty of work to do.

We may go back even farther into antiquity, and still find strange
coincidences between the legends of India and the legends of the West,
without as yet being able to say how they travelled, whether from East
to West, or from West to East. That at the time of Solomon there was a
channel of communication open between India and Syria and Palestine is
established beyond doubt, I believe, by certain Sanskrit words which
occur in the Bible as names of articles of export from Ophir, articles
such as ivory, apes, peacocks, and sandalwood, which, taken together,
could not have been exported from any country but India.[7] Nor is
there any reason to suppose that the commercial intercourse between
India, the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean was ever
completely interrupted, even at the time when the Book of Kings is
supposed to have been written.

Now you remember the judgment of Solomon, which has always been
admired as a proof of great legal wisdom among the Jews.[8] I must
confess that, not having a legal mind, I never could suppress a
certain shudder[9] when reading the decision of Solomon: "Divide the
living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other."

Let me now tell you the same story as it is told by the Buddhists,
whose sacred Canon is full of such legends and parables. In the
Kanjur, which is the Tibetan translation of the Buddhist Tripi_t_aka,
we likewise read of two women who claimed each to be the mother of the
same child. The king, after listening to their quarrels for a long
time, gave it up as hopeless to settle who was the real mother. Upon
this Vi_s_âkhâ stepped forward and said: "What is the use of examining
and cross-examining these women? Let them take the boy and settle it
among themselves." Thereupon both women fell on the child, and when
the fight became violent the child was hurt and began to cry. Then one
of them let him go, because she could not bear to hear the child cry.

That settled the question. The king gave the child to the true mother,
and had the other beaten with a rod.

This seems to me, if not the more primitive, yet the more natural form
of the story--showing a deeper knowledge of human nature and more
wisdom than even the wisdom of Solomon.[10]

Many of you may have studied not only languages, but also the Science
of Language, and is there any country in which some of the most
important problems of that science, say only the growth and decay of
dialects, or the possible mixture of languages, with regard not only
to words, but to grammatical elements also, can be studied to greater
advantage than among the Aryan, the Dravidian, and the Mu_n_da
inhabitants of India, when brought in contact with their various
invaders and conquerors, the Greeks, the Yue-tchi, the Arabs, the
Persians, the Moguls, and lastly the English?

Again, if you are a student of Jurisprudence, there is a history of
law to be explored in India, very different from what is known of the
history of law in Greece, in Rome, and in Germany, yet both by its
contrasts and by its similarities full of suggestions to the student
of Comparative Jurisprudence. New materials are being discovered every
year, as, for instance, the so-called Dharma or Samayâ_k_ârika Sûtras,
which have supplied the materials for the later metrical law-books,
such as the famous Laws of Manu. What was once called "The Code of
Laws of Manu," and confidently referred to 1200, or at least 500 B.C.,
is now hesitatingly referred to perhaps the fourth century A.D., and
called neither a Code, nor a Code of Laws, least of all, the Code of
Laws of Manu.

If you have learned to appreciate the value of recent researches into
the antecedents of all law, namely the foundation and growth of the
simplest political communities--and nowhere could you have had better
opportunities for it than here at Cambridge--you will find a field of
observation opened before you in the still-existing village estates in
India that will amply repay careful research.

And take that which, after all, whether we confess or deny it, we care
for more in this life than for anything else--nay, which is often far
more cared for by those who deny than by those who confess--take that
which supports, pervades, and directs all our acts and thoughts and
hopes--without which there can be neither village-community nor empire,
neither custom nor law, neither right nor wrong--take that which, next
to language, has most firmly fixed the specific and permanent barrier
between man and beast--which alone has made life possible and bearable,
and which, as it is the deepest, though often-hidden spring of
individual life, is also the foundation of all national life--the
history of all histories, and yet the mystery of all mysteries--take
religion, and where can you study its true origin,[11] its natural
growth, and its inevitable decay better than in India, the home of
Brahmanism, the birthplace of Buddhism, and the refuge of
Zoroastrianism, even now the mother of new superstitions--and why not,
in the future, the regenerate child of the purest faith, if only
purified from the dust of nineteen centuries?

You will find yourselves everywhere in India between an immense past
and an immense future, with opportunities such as the old world could
but seldom, if ever, offer you. Take any of the burning questions of
the day--popular education, higher education, parliamentary
representation, codification of laws, finance, emigration, poor-law;
and whether you have anything to teach and to try, or anything to
observe and to learn, India will supply you with a laboratory such as
exists nowhere else. That very Sanskrit, the study of which may at
first seem so tedious to you and so useless, if only you will carry it
on, as you may carry it on here at Cambridge better than anywhere
else, will open before you large layers of literature, as yet almost
unknown and unexplored, and allow you an insight into strata of
thought deeper than any you have known before, and rich in lessons
that appeal to the deepest sympathies of the human heart.

Depend upon it, if only you can make leisure, you will find plenty of
work in India for your leisure hours.

India is not, as you may imagine, a distant, strange, or, at the very
utmost, a curious country. India for the future belongs to Europe, it
has its place in the Indo-European world, it has its place in our own
history, and in what is the very life of history, the history of the
human mind.

You know how some of the best talent and the noblest genius of our age
has been devoted to the study of the development of the outward or
material world, the growth of the earth, the first appearance of
living cells, their combination and differentiation, leading up to the
beginning of organic life, and its steady progress from the lowest to
the highest stages. Is there not an inward and intellectual world also
which has to be studied in its historical development, from the first
appearance of predicative and demonstrative roots, their combination
and differentiation, leading up to the beginning of rational thought
in its steady progress from the lowest to the highest stages? And in
that study of the history of the human mind, in that study of
ourselves, of our true selves, India occupies a place second to no
other country. Whatever sphere of the human mind you may select for
your special study, whether it be language, or religion, or mythology,
or philosophy, whether it be laws or customs, primitive art or
primitive science, everywhere, you have to go to India, whether you
like it or not, because some of the most valuable and most instructive
materials in the history of man are treasured up in India, and in
India only.

And while thus trying to explain to those whose lot will soon be cast
in India the true position which that wonderful country holds or ought
to hold in universal history, I may perhaps be able at the same time
to appeal to the sympathies of other members of this University, by
showing them how imperfect our knowledge of universal history, our
insight into the development of the human intellect, must always
remain, if we narrow our horizon to the history of Greeks and Romans,
Saxons and Celts, with a dim background of Palestine, Egypt, and
Babylon,[12] and leave out of sight our nearest intellectual
relatives, the Aryans of India, the framers of the most wonderful
language, the Sanskrit, the fellow-workers in the construction of our
fundamental concepts, the fathers of the most natural of natural
religions, the makers of the most transparent of mythologies, the
inventors of the most subtle philosophy, and the givers of the most
elaborate laws.

There are many things which we think essential in a liberal education,
whole chapters of history which we teach in our schools and
universities, that cannot for one moment compare with the chapter
relating to India, if only properly understood and freely interpreted.

In our time, when the study of history threatens to become almost an
impossibility--such is the mass of details which historians collect in
archives and pour out before us in monographs--it seems to me more
than ever the duty of the true historian to find out the real
proportion of things, to arrange his materials according to the
strictest rules of artistic perspective, and to keep completely out of
sight all that may be rightly ignored by us in our own passage across
the historical stage of the world. It is this power of discovering
what is really important that distinguishes the true historian from
the mere chronicler, in whose eyes everything is important,
particularly if he has discovered it himself. I think it was Frederick
the Great who, when sighing for a true historian of his reign,
complained bitterly that those who wrote the history of Prussia never
forgot to describe the buttons on his uniform. And it is probably of
such historical works that Carlyle was thinking when he said that he
had waded through them all, but that nothing should ever induce him to
hand even their names and titles down to posterity. And yet how much
is there even in Carlyle's histories that might safely be consigned to

Why do we want to know history? Why does history form a recognized
part of our liberal education? Simply because all of us, and every one
of us, ought to know how we have come to be what we are, so that each
generation need not start again from the same point and toil over the
same ground, but, profiting by the experience of those who came
before, may advance toward higher points and nobler aims. As a child
when growing up might ask his father or grandfather _who_ had built
the house they lived in, or who had cleared the field that yielded
them their food, we ask the historian whence we came, and how we came
into possession of what we call our own. History may tell us afterward
many useful and amusing things, gossip, such as a child might like to
hear from his mother or grandmother; but what history has to teach us
before all and everything, is our own antecedents, our own ancestors,
our own descent.

Now our principal intellectual ancestors are, no doubt, the _Jews_,
the _Greeks_, the _Romans_, and the _Saxons_, and we, here in Europe,
should not call a man educated or enlightened who was ignorant of the
debt which he owes to his intellectual ancestors in Palestine, Greece,
Rome, and Germany. The whole past history of the world would be
darkness to him, and not knowing what those who came before him had
done for him, he would probably care little to do anything for those
who are to come after him. Life would be to him a chain of sand, while
it ought to be a kind of electric chain that makes our hearts tremble
and vibrate with the most ancient thoughts of the past, as well as
with the most distant hopes of the future.

Let us begin with our religion. No one can understand even the
historical possibility of the Christian religion without knowing
something of the Jewish race, which must be studied chiefly in the
pages of the Old Testament. And in order to appreciate the true
relation of the Jews to the rest of the ancient world, and to
understand what ideas were peculiarly their own, and what ideas they
shared in common with the other members of the Semitic stock, or what
moral and religious impulses they received from their historical
contact with other nations of antiquity, it is absolutely necessary
that we should pay some attention to the history of Babylon, Nineveh,
Phoenicia, and Persia. These may seem distant countries and
forgotten people, and many might feel inclined to say, "Let the dead
bury their dead; what are those mummies to us?" Still, such is the
marvellous continuity of history, that I could easily show you many
things which we, even we who are here assembled, owe to Babylon, to
Nineveh, to Egypt, Phoenicia, and Persia.

Every one who carries a watch owes to the Babylonians the division of
the hour into sixty minutes. It may be a very bad division, yet such
as it is, it has come to us from the Greeks and Romans, and it came to
them from Babylon. The sexagesimal division is peculiarly Babylonian.
Hipparchos, 150 B.C., adopted it from Babylon, Ptolemy, 150 A.D., gave
it wider currency, and the French, when they decimated everything
else, respected the dial-plates of our watches, and left them with
their sixty Babylonian minutes.

Every one who writes a letter owes his alphabet to the Romans and
Greeks; the Greeks owed their alphabet to the Phoenicians, and the
Phoenicians learned it in Egypt. It may be a very imperfect
alphabet--as all the students of phonetics will tell you--yet, such as
it is and has been, we owe it to the old Phoenicians and Egyptians,
and in every letter we trace, there lies imbedded the mummy of an
ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic.

What do we owe to the Persians? It does not seem to be much, for they
were not a very inventive race, and what they knew they had chiefly
learned from their neighbors, the Babylonians and Assyrians. Still,
we owe them something. First of all, we owe them a large debt of
gratitude for having allowed themselves to be beaten by the Greeks;
for think what the world would have been if the Persians had beaten
the Greeks at Marathon, and had enslaved--that means, annihilated--the
genius of ancient Greece. However, this may be called rather an
involuntary contribution to the progress of humanity, and I mention it
only in order to show how narrowly, not only Greeks and Romans, but
Saxons and Anglo-Saxons too, escaped becoming Parsis or

But I can mention at least one voluntary gift which came to us from
Persia, and that is the relation of silver to gold in our bi-metallic
currency. That relation was, no doubt, first determined in Babylonia,
but it assumed its practical and historical importance in the Persian
empire, and spread from there to the Greek colonies in Asia, and
thence to Europe, where it has maintained itself with slight variation
to the present day.

A _talent_[13] was divided into sixty _minæ_, a mina into sixty
_shekels_. Here we have again the Babylonian sexagesimal system, a
system which owes its origin and popularity, I believe, to the fact
that _sixty_ has the greatest number of divisors. Shekel was
translated into Greek by _Stater_, and an Athenian gold stater, like
the Persian gold stater, down to the times of Croesus, Darius, and
Alexander, was the sixtieth part of a mina of gold, not very far
therefore from our sovereign. The proportion of silver to gold was
fixed as thirteen or thirteen and a third to one; and if the weight of
a silver shekel was made as thirteen to ten, such a coin would
correspond very nearly to our florin.[14] Half a silver shekel was a
_drachma_, and this was therefore the true ancestor of our shilling.

Again you may say that any attempt at fixing the relative value of
silver and gold is, and always has been, a great mistake. Still it
shows how closely the world is held together, and how, for good or for
evil, we are what we are, not so much by ourselves as by the toil and
moil of those who came before us, our true intellectual ancestors,
whatever the blood may have been composed of that ran through their
veins, or the bones which formed the rafters of their skulls.

And if it is true, with regard to religion, that no one could
understand it and appreciate its full purport without knowing its
origin and growth, that is, without knowing something of what the
cuneiform inscriptions of Mesopotamia, the hieroglyphic and hieratic
texts of Egypt, and the historical monuments of Phoenicia and Persia
can alone reveal to us, it is equally true with regard to all the
other elements that constitute the whole of our intellectual life. If
we are Jewish or Semitic in our religion, we are _Greek_ in our
philosophy, _Roman_ in our politics, and _Saxon_ in our morality; and
it follows that a knowledge of the history of the Greeks, Romans, and
Saxons, or of the flow of civilization from Greece to Italy, and
through Germany to these isles, forms an essential element in what is
called a liberal, that is, an historical and rational education.

But then it might be said, Let this be enough. Let us know by all
means all that deserves to be known about our real spiritual ancestors
in the great historical kingdoms of the world; let us be grateful for
all we have inherited from Egyptians, Babylonians, Phoenicians,
Jews, Greeks, Romans, and Saxons. But why bring in India? Why add a
new burden to what every man has to bear already, before he can call
himself fairly educated? What have we inherited from the dark dwellers
on the Indus and the Ganges, that we should have to add their royal
names and dates and deeds to the archives of our already overburdened

There is some justice in this complaint. The ancient inhabitants of
India are not our intellectual ancestors in the same direct way as
Jews, Greeks, Romans, and Saxons are; but they represent,
nevertheless, a collateral branch of that family to which we belong by
language, that is, by thought, and their historical records extend in
some respects so far beyond all other records and have been preserved
to us in such perfect and such legible documents, that we can learn
from them lessons which we can learn nowhere else, and supply missing
links in our intellectual ancestry far more important than that
missing link (which we can well afford to miss), the link between Ape
and Man.

I am not speaking as yet of the literature of India as it is, but of
something far more ancient, the language of India, or Sanskrit. No one
supposes any longer that Sanskrit was the common source of Greek,
Latin, and Anglo-Saxon. This used to be said, but it has long been
shown that Sanskrit is only a collateral branch of the same stem from
which spring Greek, Latin, and Anglo-Saxon; and not only these, but
all the Teutonic, all the Celtic, all the Slavonic languages, nay, the
languages of Persia and Armenia also.

What, then, is it that gives to Sanskrit its claim on our attention,
and its supreme importance in the eyes of the historian?

First of all, its antiquity--for we know Sanskrit at an earlier period
than Greek. But what is far more important than its merely
chronological antiquity is the antique state of preservation in which
that Aryan language has been handed down to us. The world had known
Latin and Greek for centuries, and it was felt, no doubt, that there
was some kind of similarity between the two. But how was that
similarity to be explained? Sometimes Latin was supposed to give the
key to the formation of a Greek word, sometimes Greek seemed to betray
the secret of the origin of a Latin word. Afterward, when the ancient
Teutonic languages, such as Gothic and Anglo-Saxon, and the ancient
Celtic and Slavonic languages too, came to be studied, no one could
help seeing a certain family likeness among them all. But how such a
likeness between these languages came to be, and how, what is far more
difficult to explain, such striking differences too between these
languages came to be, remained a mystery, and gave rise to the most
gratuitous theories, most of them, as you know, devoid of all
scientific foundation. As soon, however, as Sanskrit stepped into the
midst of these languages, there came light and warmth and mutual
recognition. They all ceased to be strangers, and each fell of its own
accord into its right place. Sanskrit was the eldest sister of them
all, and could tell of many things which the other members of the
family had quite forgotten. Still, the other languages too had each
their own tale to tell; and it is out of all their tales together that
a chapter in the human mind has been put together which, in some
respects, is more important to us than any of the other chapters, the
Jewish, the Greek, the Latin, or the Saxon.

The process by which that ancient chapter of history was recovered is
very simple. Take the words which occur in the same form and with the
same meaning in all the seven branches of the Aryan family, and you
have in them the most genuine and trustworthy records in which to read
the thoughts of our true ancestors, before they had become Hindus, or
Persians, or Greeks, or Romans, or Celts, or Teutons, or Slaves. Of
course, some of these ancient charters may have been lost in one or
other of these seven branches of the Aryan family, but even then, if
they are found in six, or five, or four, or three, or even two only of
its original branches, the probability remains, unless we can prove a
later historical contact between these languages, that these words
existed before the great _Aryan Separation_. If we find _agni_,
meaning fire, in Sanskrit, and _ignis_, meaning fire, in Latin, we may
safely conclude that _fire_ was known to the undivided Aryans, even if
no trace of the same name of fire occurred anywhere else. And why?
Because there is no indication that Latin remained longer united with
Sanskrit than any of the other Aryan languages, or that Latin could
have borrowed such a word from Sanskrit, after these two languages had
once become distinct. We have, however, the Lithuanian _ugnìs_, and
the Scottish _ingle_, to show that the Slavonic and possibly the
Teutonic languages also, knew the same word for fire, though they
replaced it in time by other words. Words, like all other things, will
die, and why they should live on in one soil and wither away and
perish in another, is not always easy to say. What has become of
_ignis_, for instance, in all the Romance languages? It has withered
away and perished, probably because, after losing its final
unaccentuated syllable, it became awkward to pronounce; and another
word, _focus_, which in Latin meant fireplace, hearth, altar, has
taken its place.

Suppose we wanted to know whether the ancient Aryans before their
separation knew the mouse: we should only have to consult the principal
Aryan dictionaries, and we should find in Sanskrit _mûsh_, in Greek
_μῦς_, in Latin _mus_, in Old Slavonic _my̌se_, in Old High German
_mûs_, enabling us to say that, at a time so distant from us that we
feel inclined to measure it by Indian rather than by our own chronology,
the mouse was known, that is, was named, was conceived and recognized as
a species of its own, not to be confounded with any other vermin.

And if we were to ask whether the enemy of the mouse, the _cat_, was
known at the same distant time, we should feel justified in saying
decidedly, No. The cat is called in Sanskrit mâr_g_âra and vi_d_âla. In
Greek and Latin the words usually given as names of the cat, _γαλἑη_ and
αιλουρος, _mustella_ and _feles_, did not originally signify the tame
cat, but the weasel or marten. The name for the real cat in Greek was
κἁττα, in Latin _catus_, and these words have supplied the names for cat
in all the Teutonic, Slavonic, and Celtic languages. The animal itself,
so far as we know at present, came to Europe from Egypt, where it had
been worshipped for centuries and tamed; and as this arrival probably
dates from the fourth century A.D., we can well understand that no
common name for it could have existed when the Aryan nations

In this way a more or lees complete picture of the state of
civilization, previous to the Aryan Separation, can be and has been
reconstructed, like a mosaic put together with the fragments of
ancient stones; and I doubt whether, in tracing the history of the
human mind, we shall ever reach to a lower stratum than that which is
revealed to us by the converging rays of the different Aryan

Nor is that all; for even that Proto-Aryan language, as it has been
reconstructed from the ruins scattered about in India, Greece, Italy,
and Germany, is clearly the result of a long, long process of thought.
One shrinks from chronological limitations when looking into such
distant periods of life. But if we find Sanskrit as a perfect literary
language, totally different from Greek and Latin, 1500 B.C., where can
those streams of Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin meet, as we trace them
back to their common source? And then, when we have followed these
mighty national streams back to their common meeting-point, even then
that common language looks like a rock washed down and smoothed for
ages by the ebb and flow of thought. We find in that language such a
compound, for instance, as _asmi_, I am, Greek ὲσμι.
What would other languages give for such a pure concept as _I am_?
They may say, _I stand_, or _I live_, or _I grow_, or _I turn_, but it
is given to few languages only to be able to say _I am_. To us nothing
seems more natural than the auxiliary verb _I am_; but, in reality, no
work of art has required greater efforts than this little word _I am_.
And all those efforts lie beneath the level of the common Proto-Aryan
speech. Many different ways were open, were tried, too, in order to
arrive at such a compound as _asmi_, and such a concept as _I am_. But
all were given up, and this one alone remained, and was preserved
forever in all the languages and all the dialects of the Aryan family.
In _as-mi_, _as_ is the root, and in the compound _as-mi_, the
predicative root _as_, to be, is predicated of _mi_, I. But no
language could ever produce at once so empty, or, if you like, so
general a root as _as_, to be. _As_ meant originally _to breathe_, and
from it we have _asu_, breath, spirit, life, also _âs_ the mouth,
Latin _ôs_, _ôris_. By constant wear and tear this root _as_, to
breathe, had first to lose all signs of its original material
character, before it could convey that purely abstract meaning of
existence, without any qualification, which has rendered to the higher
operations of thought the same service which the nought, likewise the
invention of Indian genius, has to render in arithmetic. Who will say
how long the friction lasted which changed _as_, to breathe, into
_as_, to be? And even a root _as_, to breathe, was an Aryan root, not
Semitic, not Turanian. It possessed an historical individuality--it
was the work of our forefathers, and represents a thread which unites
us in our thoughts and words with those who first thought for us, with
those who first spoke for us, and whose thoughts and words men are
still thinking and speaking, though divided from them by thousands, it
may be by hundreds of thousands of years.

This is what I call _history_ in the true sense of the word, something
really worth knowing, far more so than the scandals of courts, or the
butcheries of nations, which fill so many pages of our Manuals of
History. And all this work is only beginning, and whoever likes to
labor in these the most ancient of historical archives will find
plenty of discoveries to make--and yet people ask, What is the use of
learning Sanskrit?

We get accustomed to everything, and cease to wonder at what would
have startled our fathers and upset all their stratified notions,
like a sudden earthquake. Every child now learns at school that
English is an Aryan or Indo-European language, that it belongs to the
Teutonic branch, and that this branch, together with the Italic,
Greek, Celtic, Slavonic, Iranic, and Indic branches, all spring from
the same stock, and form together the great Aryan or Indo-European
family of speech.

But this, though it is taught now in our elementary schools, was
really, but fifty years ago, like the opening of a new horizon of the
world of the intellect, and the extension of a feeling of closest
fraternity that made us feel at home where before we had been
strangers, and changed millions of so-called barbarians into our own
kith and kin. To speak the same language constitutes a closer union
than to have drunk the same milk; and Sanskrit, the ancient language
of India, is substantially the same language as Greek, Latin, and
Anglo-Saxon. This is a lesson which we should never have learned but
from a study of Indian language and literature, and if India had
taught us nothing else, it would have taught us more than almost any
other language ever did.

It is quite amusing, though instructive also, to read what was written
by scholars and philosophers when this new light first dawned on the
world. They would not have it, they would not believe that there could
be any community of origin between the people of Athens and Rome, and
the so-called Niggers of India. The classical scholar scouted the
idea, and I myself still remember the time, when I was a student at
Leipzig, and began to study Sanskrit, with what contempt any remarks
on Sanskrit or comparative grammar were treated by my teachers, men
such as Gottfried Hermann, Haupt, Westermann, Stallbaum, and others.
No one ever was for a time so completely laughed down as Professor
Bopp, when he first published his Comparative Grammar of Sanskrit,
Zend, Greek, Latin, and Gothic. All hands were against him; and if in
comparing Greek and Latin with Sanskrit, Gothic, Celtic, Slavonic, or
Persian, he happened to have placed one single accent wrong, the
shouts of those who knew nothing but Greek and Latin, and probably
looked in their Greek dictionaries to be quite sure of their accents,
would never end. Dugald Stewart, rather than admit a relationship
between Hindus and Scots, would rather believe that the whole Sanskrit
language and the whole of Sanskrit literature--mind, a literature
extending over three thousand years and larger than the ancient
literature of either Greece or Rome--was a forgery of those wily
priests, the Brahmans. I remember too how, when I was at school at
Leipzig (and a very good school it was, with such masters as Nobbe,
Forbiger, Funkhaenel, and Palm--an old school too, which could boast
of Leibnitz among its former pupils) I remember, I say, one of our
masters (Dr. Klee) telling us one afternoon, when it was too hot to do
any serious work, that there was a language spoken in India, which was
much the same as Greek and Latin, nay, as German and Russian. At first
we thought it was a joke, but when one saw the parallel columns of
numerals, pronouns, and verbs in Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin written on
the blackboard, one felt in the presence of facts, before which one
had to bow. All one's ideas of Adam and Eve, and the Paradise, and the
tower of Babel, and Shem, Ham, and Japhet, with Homer and Æneas and
Virgil too, seemed to be whirling round and round, till at last one
picked up the fragments and tried to build up a new world, and to live
with a new historical consciousness.

Here you will see why I consider a certain knowledge of India an
essential portion of a liberal or an historical education. The concept
of the European man has been changed and widely extended by our
acquaintance with India, and we know now that we are something
different from what we thought we were. Suppose the Americans, owing
to some cataclysmal events, had forgotten their English origin, and
after two or three thousand years found themselves in possession of a
language and of ideas which they could trace back historically to a
certain date, but which, at that date, seemed, as it were, fallen from
the sky, without any explanation of their origin and previous growth,
what would they say if suddenly the existence of an English language
and literature were revealed to them, such as they existed in the
eighteenth century--explaining all that seemed before almost
miraculous, and solving almost every question that could be asked?
Well, this is much the same as what the discovery of Sanskrit has done
for us. It has added a new period to our historical consciousness, and
revived the recollections of our childhood, which seemed to have
vanished forever.

Whatever else we may have been, it is quite clear now that, many
thousands of years ago, we were something that had not yet developed
into an Englishman, or a Saxon, or a Greek, or a Hindu either, yet
contained in itself the germs of all these characters. A strange
being, you may say. Yes, but for all that a very real being, and an
ancestor too of whom we must learn to be proud, far more than of any
such modern ancestors, as Normans, Saxons, Celts, and all the rest.

And this is not all yet that a study of Sanskrit and the other Aryan
languages has done for us. It has not only widened our views of man,
and taught us to embrace millions of strangers and barbarians as
members of one family, but it has imparted to the whole ancient
history of man a reality which it never possessed before.

We speak and write a great deal about antiquities, and if we can lay
hold of a Greek statue or an Egyptian Sphinx or a Babylonian Bull, our
heart rejoices, and we build museums grander than any royal palaces to
receive the treasures of the past. This is quite right. But are you
aware that every one of us possesses what may be called the richest
and most wonderful Museum of Antiquities, older than any statues,
sphinxes, or bulls? And where? Why, in our own language. When I use
such words as _father_ or _mother_, _heart_ or _tear_, _one_, _two_,
_three_, _here_ and _there_, I am handling coins or counters that were
current before there was one single Greek statue, one single
Babylonian Bull, one single Egyptian Sphinx. Yes, each of us carries
about with him the richest and most wonderful Museum of Antiquities;
and if he only knows how to treat those treasures, how to rub and
polish them till they become translucent again, how to arrange them
and read them, they will tell him marvels more marvellous than all
hieroglyphics and cuneiform inscriptions put together. The stories
they have told us are beginning to be old stories now. Many of you
have heard them before. But do not let them cease to be marvels, like
so many things which cease to be marvels because they happen every
day. And do not think that there is nothing left for you to do. There
are more marvels still to be discovered in language than have ever
been revealed to us; nay, there is no word, however common, if only
you know how to take it to pieces, like a cunningly contrived work of
art, fitted together thousands of years ago by the most cunning of
artists, the human mind, that will not make you listen and marvel more
than any chapter of the Arabian Nights.

But I must not allow myself to be carried away from my proper subject.
All I wish to impress on you by way of introduction is that the
results of the Science of Language, which, without the aid of
Sanskrit, would never have been obtained, form an essential element of
what we call a liberal, that is an historical education--an education
which will enable a man to do what the French call _s'orienter_, that
is, "to find his East," "his true East," and thus to determine his
real place in the world; to know, in fact, the port whence man
started, the course he has followed, and the port toward which he has
to steer.

We all come from the East--all that we value most has come to us from
the East, and in going to the East, not only those who have received a
special Oriental training, but everybody who has enjoyed the
advantages of a liberal, that is, of a truly historical education,
ought to feel that he is going to his "old home," full of memories, if
only he can read them. Instead of feeling your hearts sink within you,
when next year you approach the shores of India, I wish that every one
of you could feel what Sir William Jones felt, when, just one hundred
years ago, he came to the end of his long voyage from England, and saw
the shores of India rising on the horizon. At that time, young men
going to the wonderland of India were not ashamed of dreaming dreams
and seeing visions; and this was the dream dreamed and the vision seen
by Sir William Jones, then simple Mr. Jones:

    "When I was at sea last August (that is in August, 1783), on
    my last voyage to this country (India) I had long and
    ardently desired to visit, I found one evening, on inspecting
    the observations of the day, that _India_ lay before us,
    _Persia_ on our left, while a breeze from _Arabia_ blew
    nearly on our stern. A situation so pleasing in itself and to
    me so new, could not fail to awaken a train of reflections in
    a mind which had early been accustomed to contemplate with
    delight the eventful histories and agreeable fictions of this
    Eastern world. It gave me inexpressible pleasure to find
    myself in the midst of so noble an amphitheatre, almost
    encircled by the vast regions of Asia, which has ever been
    esteemed the nurse of sciences, the inventress of delightful
    and useful arts, the scene of glorious actions, fertile in
    the productions of human genius, and infinitely diversified
    in the forms of religion and government, in the laws,
    manners, customs, and languages, as well as in the features
    and complexions of men. I could not help remarking how
    important and extensive a field was yet unexplored, and how
    many solid advantages unimproved."

India wants more such dreamers as that young Mr. Jones, standing alone
on the deck of his vessel and watching the sun diving into the
sea--with the memories of England behind and the hopes of India before
him, feeling the presence of Persia and its ancient monarchs, and
breathing the breezes of Arabia and its glowing poetry. Such dreamers
know how to make their dreams come true, and how to change their
visions into realities.

And as it was a hundred years ago, so it is now; or at least, so it
may be now. There are many bright dreams to be dreamed about India,
and many bright deeds to be done in India, if only you will do them.
Though many great and glorious conquests have been made in the history
and literature of the East, since the days when Sir William Jones[16]
landed at Calcutta, depend upon it, no young Alexander here need
despair because there are no kingdoms left for him to conquer on the
ancient shores of the Indus and the Ganges.


[Footnote 1: Pliny (VI. 26) tells us that in his day the annual drain
of bullion into India, in return for her valuable produce, reached the
immense amount of "five hundred and fifty millions of sesterces." See
E. Thomas, "The Indian Balhará," p. 13.]

[Footnote 2: Cunningham, in the "Journal of the Asiatic Society of
Bengal," 1881, p. 184.]

[Footnote 3: General Cunningham describes this treasure in the
"Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal" as having been found on the
northern bank of the Oxus in 1877, and containing coins from Darius
down to Antiochus the Great, and Euthydemus, King of Baktria. This
would seem to indicate that it had been buried there in 208 B.C., when
Baktria was invaded by Antiochus and Euthydemus defeated. The coins,
figures, and ornaments, many of them, were manifestly Persian, and
doubtless had been brought into that country and kept by the
victorious generals of Alexander. Some of the works of art unearthed
by Dr. Schliemann at Mykenæ are either Persian or Assyrian in
character, and are like those found on the Oxus. Professor Forchhammer
very plausibly supposes that they were spoils from the Persian camp
which had been awarded to Mykenæ as her share after the overthrow of
Mardonius.--A. W.]

[Footnote 4: See "Selected Essays," vol. i., p. 500, "The Migration of

[Footnote 5: Cratylus, 411 A. "Still, as I have put on the lion's
skin, I must not be faint-hearted." Possibly, however, this may refer
to Hercules, and not to the fable of the donkey in the lion's or the
tiger's skin. In the Hitopade_s_a, a donkey, being nearly starved, is
sent by his master into a corn-field to feed. In order to shield him
he puts a tiger's skin on him. All goes well till a watchman
approaches, hiding himself under his gray coat, and trying to shoot
the tiger. The donkey thinks it is a gray female donkey, begins to
bray, and is killed. On a similar fable in Æsop, see Benfey,
"Pantschatantra," vol. i., p. 463; M. M., "Selected Essays," vol. i.,
p. 513.]

[Footnote 6: See "Fragmenta Comic" (Didot), p. 302; Benfey, l. c. vol.
i., p. 374.]

[Footnote 7: "Lectures on the Science of Language," vol. i., p. 231.

The names employed in the Hebrew text of the Bible are said to be
Tamil.--A. W.]

[Footnote 8: 1 Kings 3:25.]

[Footnote 9: The Bible story is dramatic; the other is not. The
"shudder" is a tribute to the dramatic power of the Bible narrative.
The child was in no danger of being cut in twain. In the Buddhist
version the child _is_ injured. Why does not Prof. Müller shudder when
the child is hurt and cries? The Solomonic child is not hurt and does
not cry. Is not the Bible story the more humane, the more dignified,
the more dramatic? And no canon of criticism requires us to believe
that a poor version of a story is the more primitive.--AM. PUBS.]

[Footnote 10: See some excellent remarks on this subject in Rhys
Davids, "Buddhist Birth-Stories," vol. i., pp. xiii. and xliv. The
learned scholar gives another version of the story from a Singhalese
translation of the _G_âtaka, dating from the fourteenth century, and
he expresses a hope that Dr. Fausböll will soon publish the Pâli

[Footnote 11: This is true of what theologians call natural religion,
which is assumed to be a growth out of human consciousness; but the
Christian religion is not a natural religion.--AM. PUBS.]

[Footnote 12: There are traces of Aryan occupation at Babylon,
Rawlinson assures us, about twenty centuries B.C. This would suggest a
possible interchange of religious ideas between the earlier Aryan and
Akkado-Chaldean peoples.--A. W.]

[Footnote 13: See Cunningham, "Journal of the Asiatic Society of
Bengal," 1881, pp. 162-168.]

[Footnote 14: _Sîm_, the Persian word for silver, has also the meaning
of one thirteenth; see Cunningham, l. c. p. 165.]

[Footnote 15: The common domestic cat is first mentioned by Cæsarius,
the physician, brother of Gregory of Nazianus, about the middle of the
fourth century. It came from Egypt, where it was regarded as sacred.
Herodotus denominates it αιλουρος, which was also
the designation of the weasel and marten. Kallimachus employs the same
title, which his commentator explains as κἁττος. In
later times this name of uncertain etymology has superseded every
other. The earlier Sanskrit writers appear to have had no knowledge of
the animal; but the mar_g_ara is named by Manu, and the vi_d_ala by
Pa_n_ini.--A. W.]

[Footnote 16: Sir William Jones was thirty-seven years of age when he
sailed for India. He received the honor of knighthood in March, 1783,
on his appointment as Judge of the Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort
William, at Bengal.--A. W.]



In my first Lecture I endeavored to remove the prejudice that
everything in India is strange, and so different from the intellectual
life which we are accustomed to in England, that the twenty or
twenty-five years which a civil servant has to spend in the East seem
often to him a kind of exile that he must bear as well as he can, but
that severs him completely from all those higher pursuits by which
life is made enjoyable at home. This need not be so and ought not to
be so, if only it is clearly seen how almost every one of the higher
interests that make life worth living here in England, may find as
ample scope in India as in England.

To-day I shall have to grapple with another prejudice which is even
more mischievous, because it forms a kind of icy barrier between the
Hindus and their rulers, and makes anything like a feeling of true
fellowship between the two utterly impossible.

That prejudice consists in looking upon our stay in India as a kind of
_moral_ exile, and in regarding the Hindus as an inferior race,
totally different from ourselves in their moral character, and, more
particularly in what forms the very foundation of the English
character, respect for truth.

I believe there is nothing more disheartening to any high-minded young
man than the idea that he will have to spend his life among human
beings whom he can never respect or love--natives, as they are called,
not to use even more offensive names--men whom he is taught to
consider as not amenable to the recognized principles of self-respect,
uprightness, and veracity, and with whom therefore any community of
interests and action, much more any real friendship, is supposed to be
out of the question.

So often has that charge of untruthfulness been repeated, and so
generally is it now accepted, that it seems almost Quixotic to try to
fight against it.

Nor should I venture to fight this almost hopeless battle, if I were
not convinced that such a charge, like all charges brought against a
whole nation, rests on the most flimsy induction, and that it has
done, is doing, and will continue to do more mischief than anything
that even the bitterest enemy of English dominion in India could have
invented. If a young man who goes to India as a civil servant or as a
military officer, goes there fully convinced that the people whom he
is to meet with are all liars, liars by nature or by national
instinct, never restrained in their dealings by any regard for truth,
never to be trusted on their word, need we wonder at the feelings of
disgust with which he thinks of the Hindus, even before he has seen
them; the feelings of distrust with which he approaches them, and the
contemptuous way in which he treats them when brought into contact
with them for the transaction of public or private business? When such
tares have once been sown by the enemy, it will be difficult to gather
them up. It has become almost an article of faith with every Indian
civil servant that all Indians are liars; nay, I know I shall never be
forgiven for my heresy in venturing to doubt it.

Now, quite apart from India, I feel most strongly that every one of
these international condemnations is to be deprecated, not only for
the sake of the self-conceited and uncharitable state of mind from
which they spring, and which they serve to strengthen and confirm, but
for purely logical reasons also, namely for the reckless and slovenly
character of the induction on which such conclusions rest. Because a
man has travelled in Greece and has been cheated by his dragoman, or
been carried off by brigands, does it follow that all Greeks, ancient
as well as modern, are cheats and robbers, or that they approve of
cheating and robbery? And because in Calcutta, or Bombay, or Madras,
Indians who are brought before judges, or who hang about the
law-courts and the bazaars, are not distinguished by an unreasoning
and uncompromising love of truth, is it not a very vicious induction
to say, in these days of careful reasoning, that all Hindus are
liars--particularly if you bear in mind that, according to the latest
census, the number of inhabitants of that vast country amounts to two
hundred and fifty-three millions. Are all these two hundred and
fifty-three millions of human beings to be set down as liars, because
some hundreds, say even some thousands of Indians, when they are
brought to an English court of law, on suspicion of having committed a
theft or a murder, do not speak the truth, the whole truth, and
nothing but the truth? Would an English sailor, if brought before a
dark-skinned judge, who spoke English with a strange accent, bow down
before him and confess at once any misdeed that he may have committed;
and would all his mates rush forward and eagerly bear witness against
him, when he had got himself into trouble?

The rules of induction are general, but they depend on the subjects to
which they are applied. We may, to follow an Indian proverb, judge of
a whole field of rice by tasting one or two grains only, but if we
apply this rule to human beings, we are sure to fall into the same
mistake as the English chaplain who had once, on board an English
vessel, christened a French child, and who remained fully convinced
for the rest of his life that all French babies had very long noses.

I can hardly think of anything that you could safely predicate of
_all_ the inhabitants of India, and I confess to a little nervous
tremor whenever I see a sentence beginning with "The people of India,"
or even with "All the Brahmans," or "All the Buddhists." What follows
is almost invariably wrong. There is a greater difference between an
Afghan, a Sikh, a Hindustani, a Bengalese, and a Dravidian than
between an Englishman, a Frenchman, a German, and a Russian--yet all
are classed as Hindus, and all are supposed to fall under the same
sweeping condemnation.

Let me read you what Sir John Malcolm says about the diversity of
character to be observed by any one who has eyes to observe, among the
different races whom we promiscuously call Hindus, and whom we
promiscuously condemn as Hindus. After describing the people of Bengal
as weak in body and timid in mind, and those below Calcutta as the
lowest of our Hindu subjects, both in character and appearance, he
continues: "But from the moment you enter the district of Behar, the
Hindu inhabitants are a race of men, generally speaking, not more
distinguished by their lofty stature and robust frame than they are
for some of the finest qualities of the mind. They are brave,
generous, humane, and their truth is as remarkable as their courage."

But because I feel bound to protest against the indiscriminating abuse
that has been heaped on the people of India from the Himâlaya to
Ceylon, do not suppose that it is my wish or intention to draw an
ideal picture of India, leaving out all the dark shades, and giving
you nothing hut "sweetness and light." Having never been in India
myself, I can only claim for myself the right and duty of every
historian, namely, the right of collecting as much information as
possible, and the duty to sift it according to the recognized rules of
historical criticism. My chief sources of information with regard to
the national character of the Indians in ancient times will be the
works of Greek writers and the literature of the ancient Indians
themselves. For later times we must depend on the statements of the
various conquerors of India, who are not always the most lenient
judges of those whom they may find it more difficult to rule than to
conquer. For the last century to the present day, I shall have to
appeal, partly to the authority of those who, after spending an active
life in India and among the Indians, have given us the benefit of
their experience in published works, partly to the testimony of a
number of distinguished civil servants and of Indian gentlemen also,
whose personal acquaintance I have enjoyed in England, in France, and
in Germany.

As I have chiefly to address myself to those who will themselves be
the rulers and administrators of India in the future, allow me to
begin with the opinions which some of the most eminent, and, I
believe, the most judicious among the Indian civil servants of the
past have formed and deliberately expressed on the point which we are
to-day discussing, namely, the veracity or want of veracity among the

And here I must begin with a remark which has been made by others
also, namely, that the civil servants who went to India in the
beginning of this century, and under the auspices of the old East
India Company, many of whom I had the honor and pleasure of knowing
when I first came to England, seemed to have seen a great deal more of
native life, native manners, and native character than those whom I
had to examine five-and-twenty years ago, and who are now, after a
distinguished career, coming back to England. India is no longer the
distant island which it was, where each Crusoe had to make a home for
himself as best he could. With the short and easy voyages from England
to India and from India to England, with the frequent mails, and the
telegrams, and the Anglo-Indian newspapers, official life in India has
assumed the character of a temporary exile rather, which even English
ladies are now more ready to share than fifty years ago. This is a
difficulty which cannot be removed, but must be met, and which, I
believe, can best be met by inspiring the new civil servants with new
and higher interests during their stay in India.

I knew the late Professor Wilson, our Boden Professor of Sanskrit at
Oxford, for many years, and often listened with deep interest to his
Indian reminiscences.

Let me read you what he, Professor Wilson, says of his native friends,
associates, and servants:[17]

    "I lived, both from necessity and choice, very much among the
    Hindus, and had opportunities of becoming acquainted with
    them in a greater variety of situations than those in which
    they usually come under the observation of Europeans. In the
    Calcutta mint, for instance, I was in daily personal
    communication with a numerous body of artificers, mechanics,
    and laborers, and always found among them cheerful and
    unwearied industry, good-humored compliance with the will of
    their superiors, and a readiness to make whatever exertions
    were demanded from them; there was among them no drunkenness,
    no disorderly conduct, no insubordination. It would not be
    true to say that there was _no_ dishonesty, but it was
    comparatively rare, invariably petty, and much less
    formidable than, I believe, it is necessary to guard against
    in other mints in other countries. There was considerable
    skill and ready docility. So far from there being any
    servility, there was extreme frankness, and I should say that
    where there is confidence without fear, frankness is one of
    the most universal features in the Indian character. Let the
    people feel sure of the temper and good-will of their
    superiors, and there is an end of reserve and timidity,
    without the slightest departure from respect...."

Then, speaking of the much-abused Indian Pandits, he says: "The
studies which engaged my leisure brought me into connection with the
men of learning, and in them I found the similar merits of industry,
intelligence, cheerfulness, frankness, with others peculiar to their
avocation. A very common characteristic of these men, and of the
Hindus especially, was a simplicity truly childish, and a total
unacquaintance with the business and manners of life. Where that
feature was lost, it was chiefly by those who had been long familiar
with Europeans. Among the Pandits or the learned Hindus there
prevailed great ignorance and great dread of the European character.
There is, indeed, very little intercourse between any class of
Europeans and Hindu scholars, and it is not wonderful, therefore, that
mutual misapprehension should prevail."

Speaking, lastly, of the higher classes in Calcutta and elsewhere,
Professor Wilson says that he witnessed among them "polished manners,
clearness and comprehensiveness of understanding, liberality of
feeling, and independence of principle that would have stamped them
gentlemen in any country in the world." "With some of this class," he
adds, "I formed friendships which I trust to enjoy through life."

I have often heard Professor Wilson speak in the same, and in even
stronger terms of his old friends in India, and his correspondence
with Ram Comul Sen, the grandfather of Keshub Chunder Sen,[18] a most
orthodox, not to say bigoted, Hindu, which has lately been published,
shows on what intimate terms Englishmen and Hindus may be, if only the
advances are made on the English side.

There is another Professor of Sanskrit, of whom your University may
well be proud, and who could speak on this subject with far greater
authority than I can. He too will tell you, and I have no doubt has
often told you, that if only you look out for friends among the
Hindus, you will find them, and you may trust them.

There is one book which for many years I have been in the habit of
recommending, and another against which I have always been warning
those of the candidates for the Indian Civil Service whom I happened
to see at Oxford; and I believe both the advice and the warning have
in several cases borne the very best fruit. The book which I consider
most mischievous, nay, which I hold responsible for some of the
greatest misfortunes that have happened to India, is Mill's "History
of British India," even with the antidote against its poison, which is
supplied by Professor Wilson's notes. The book which I recommend, and
which I wish might be published again in a cheaper form, so as to
make it more generally accessible, is Colonel Sleeman's "Rambles and
Recollections of an Indian Official," published in 1844, but written
originally in 1835-1836.

Mill's "History," no doubt, you all know, particularly the candidates
for the Indian Civil Service, who, I am sorry to say, are recommended
to read it, and are examined in it. Still, in order to substantiate my
strong condemnation of the book, I shall have to give a few proofs:

Mill in his estimate of the Hindu character is chiefly guided by
Dubois, a French missionary, and by Orme and Buchanan, Tennant, and
Ward, all of them neither very competent nor very unprejudiced judges.
Mill,[19] however, picks out all that is most unfavorable from their
works, and omits the qualifications which even these writers felt
bound to give to their wholesale condemnation of the Hindus. He quotes
as serious, for instance, what was said in joke,[20] namely, that "a
Brahman is an ant's nest of lies and impostures." Next to the charge
of untruthfulness, Mill upbraids the Hindus for what he calls their
litigiousness. He writes:[21] "As often as courage fails them in
seeking more daring gratification to their hatred and revenge, their
malignity finds a vent in the channel of litigation." Without imputing
dishonorable motives, as Mill does, the same fact might be stated in a
different way, by saying, "As often as their conscience and respect of
law keep them from seeking more daring gratification to their hatred
and revenge, say by murder or poisoning, their trust in English
justice leads them to appeal to our courts of law." Dr. Robertson, in
his "Historical Disquisitions concerning India,"[22] seems to have
considered the litigious subtlety of the Hindus as a sign of high
civilization rather than of barbarism, but he is sharply corrected by
Mr. Mill, who tells him that "nowhere is this subtlety carried higher
than among the wildest of the Irish." That courts of justice, like the
English, in which a verdict was not to be obtained, as formerly in
Mohammedan courts, by bribes and corruption, should at first have
proved very attractive to the Hindus, need not surprise us. But is it
really true that the Hindus are more fond of litigation than other
nations? If we consult Sir Thomas Munro, the eminent Governor of
Madras, and the powerful advocate of the Ryotwar settlements, he tells
us in so many words:[23] "I have had ample opportunity of observing
the Hindus in every situation, and I can affirm, that they are not

But Mill goes further still, and in one place he actually assures his
readers[25] that a "Brahman may put a man to death when he lists." In
fact, he represents the Hindus as such a monstrous mass of all vices,
that, as Colonel Vans Kennedy[26] remarked, society could not have
held together if it had really consisted of such reprobates only. Nor
does he seem to see the full bearing of his remarks. Surely, if a
Brahman might, as he says, put a man to death whenever he lists, it
would be the strongest testimony in their favor that you hardly ever
hear of their availing themselves of such a privilege, to say nothing
of the fact--and a fact it is--that, according to statistics, the
number of capital sentences was one in every 10,000 in England, but
only one in every million in Bengal.[27]

Colonel Sleeman's "Rambles" are less known than they deserve to be. To
give you an idea of the man, I must read you some extracts from the

His sketches being originally addressed to his sister, this is how he
writes to her:

     "MY DEAR SISTER: Were any one to ask your countrymen in
     India, what had been their greatest source of pleasure while
     there, perhaps nine in ten would say the letters which they
     receive from their sisters at home.... And while thus
     contributing so much to our happiness, they no doubt tend to
     make us better citizens of the world and servants of
     government than we should otherwise be; for in our
     'struggles through life' in India, we have all, more or
     less, an eye to the approbation of those circles which our
     kind sisters represent, who may therefore be considered in
     the exalted light of a valuable species of _unpaid
     magistracy_ to the government of India."

There is a touch of the old English chivalry even in these few words
addressed to a sister whose approbation he values, and with whom he
hoped to spend the winter of his days. Having been, as he confesses,
idle in answering letters, or rather, too busy to find time for long
letters, he made use of his enforced leisure, while on his way from
the Nerbuddah River to the Himmaleh Mountains, in search of health, to
give to his sister a full account of his impressions and experiences
in India.

Though what he wrote was intended at first "to interest and amuse his
sister only and the other members of his family at home," he adds, in
a more serious tone: "Of one thing I must beg you to be assured, that
I have nowhere indulged in fiction, either in the narrative, the
recollections, or the conversations. What I relate on the testimony of
others, I believe to be true; and what I relate on my own, you may
rely upon as being so."

When placing his volumes before the public at large in 1844, he
expresses a hope that they may "tend to make the people of India
better understood by those of our countrymen whose destinies are cast
among them, and inspire more kindly feelings toward them."

You may ask why I consider Colonel Sleeman so trustworthy an authority
on the Indian character, more trustworthy, for instance, than even so
accurate and unprejudiced an observer as Professor Wilson. My answer
is--because Wilson lived chiefly in Calcutta, while Colonel Sleeman
saw India, where alone the true India can be seen, namely, in the
village-communities. For many years he was employed as Commissioner
for the suppression of Thuggee. The Thugs were professional assassins,
who committed their murders under a kind of religious sanction. They
were originally "all Mohammedans, but for a long time past Mohammedans
and Hindus had been indiscriminately associated in the gangs, the
former class, however, still predominating."[28]

In order to hunt up these gangs, Colonel Sleeman had constantly to
live among the people in the country, to gain their confidence, and to
watch the good as well as the bad features in their character.

Now what Colonel Sleeman continually insists on is that no one knows
the Indians who does not know them in their village-communities--what
we should now call their _communes_. It is that village-life which in
India has given its peculiar impress to the Indian character, more so
than in any other country we know. When in Indian history we hear so
much of kings and emperors, of râjahs and mahârâjahs, we are apt to
think of India as an Eastern monarchy, ruled by a central power, and
without any trace of that self-government which forms the pride of
England. But those who have most carefully studied the political life
of India tell you the very opposite.

The political unit, or the social cell in India has always been, and, in
spite of repeated foreign conquests, is still the village-community.
Some of these political units will occasionally combine or be combined
for common purposes (such a confederacy being called a grâma_g_âla), but
each is perfect in itself. When we read in the Laws of Manu[29] of
officers appointed to rule over ten, twenty, a hundred, or a thousand of
these villages, that means no more than that they were responsible for
the collection of taxes, and generally for the good behavior of these
villages. And when, in later times, we hear of circles of eighty-four
villages, the so-called Chourasees (_K_atura_s_îti[30]), and of three
hundred and sixty villages, this too seems to refer to fiscal
arrangements only. To the ordinary Hindu, I mean to ninety-nine in every
hundred, the village was his world, and the sphere of public opinion,
with its beneficial influences on individuals, seldom extended beyond
the horizon of his village.[31]

Colonel Sleeman was one of the first who called attention to the
existence of these village-communities in India, and their importance
in the social fabric of the whole country both in ancient and in
modern times; and though they have since become far better known and
celebrated through the writings of Sir Henry Maine, it is still both
interesting and instructive to read Colonel Sleeman's account. He
writes as a mere observer, and uninfluenced as yet by any theories on
the development of early social and political life among the Aryan
nations in general.

I do not mean to say that Colonel Sleeman was the first who pointed
out the palpable fact that the whole of India is parcelled out into
estates of villages. Even so early an observer as Megasthenes[32]
seems to have been struck by the same fact when he says that "in India
the husbandmen with their wives and children live in the country, and
entirely avoid going into town." What Colonel Sleeman was the first to
point out was that all the native virtues of the Hindus are
intimately connected with their village-life.

That village-life, however, is naturally the least known to English
officials, nay, the very presence of an English official is often said to
be sufficient to drive away those native virtues which distinguish both
the private life and the public administration of justice and equity in an
Indian village.[33] Take a man out of his village-community, and you
remove him from all the restraints of society. He is out of his element,
and, under temptation, is more likely to go wrong than to remain true to
the traditions of his home-life. Even between village and village the
usual restraints of public morality are not always recognized. What would
be called theft or robbery at home is called a successful raid or conquest
if directed against distant villages; and what would be falsehood or
trickery in private life is honored by the name of policy and diplomacy if
successful against strangers. On the other hand, the rules of hospitality
applied only to people of other villages, and a man of the same village
could never claim the right of an _Atithi_, or guest.[34]

Let us hear now what Colonel Sleeman tells us about the moral
character of the members of these village-communities,[35] and let us
not forget that the Commissioner for the suppression of Thuggee had
ample opportunities of seeing the dark as well as the bright side of
the Indian character.

He assures us that falsehood or lying between members of the same
village is almost unknown. Speaking of some of the most savage tribes,
the Gonds, for instance, he maintains that nothing would induce them
to tell a lie, though they would think nothing of lifting a herd of
cattle from a neighboring plain.

Of these men it might perhaps be said that they have not yet learned
the value of a lie; yet even such blissful ignorance ought to count in
a nation's character. But I am not pleading here for Gonds, or Bhils,
or Santhals, and other non-Aryan tribes. I am speaking of the Aryan
and more or less civilized inhabitants of India. Now among them, where
rights, duties, and interests begin to clash in one and the same
village, public opinion, in its limited sphere, seems strong enough
to deter even an evil-disposed person from telling a falsehood. The
fear of the gods also has not yet lost its power.[36] In most villages
there is a sacred tree, a pipal-tree (Ficus Indica), and the gods are
supposed to delight to sit among its leaves, and listen to the music
of their rustling. The deponent takes one of these leaves in his hand,
and invokes the god, who sits above him, to crush him, or those dear
to him, as he crushes the leaf in his hand, if he speaks anything but
the truth. He then plucks and crushes the leaf, and states what he has
to say.

The pipal-tree is generally supposed to be occupied by one of the
Hindu deities, while the large cotton-tree, particularly among the
wilder tribes, is supposed to be the abode of local gods, all the more
terrible because entrusted with the police of a small settlement only.
In their puncháyets, Sleeman tells us, men adhere habitually and
religiously to the truth, and "I have had before me hundreds of
cases," he says, "in which a man's property, liberty, and life has
depended upon his telling a lie, and he has refused to tell it."

Could many an English judge say the same?

In their own tribunals under the pipal-tree or cotton-tree,
imagination commonly did what the deities, who were supposed to
preside, had the credit of doing. If the deponent told a lie, he
believed that the god who sat on his sylvan throne above him, and
searched the heart of man, must know it; and from that moment he knew
no rest, he was always in dread of his vengeance. If any accident
happened to him, or to those dear to him, it was attributed to this
offended deity; and if no accident happened, some evil was brought
about by his own disordered imagination.[37] It was an excellent
superstition, inculcated in the ancient law-books, that the ancestors
watched the answer of a witness, because, according as it was true or
false, they themselves would go to heaven or to hell.[38]

Allow me to read you the abstract of a conversation between an English
official and a native law-officer as reported by Colonel Sleeman. The
native lawyer was asked what he thought would be the effect of an act
to dispense with oaths on the Koran and Ganges-water, and to
substitute a solemn declaration made in the name of God, and under the
same penal liabilities as if the Koran or Ganges-water had been in the
deponent's hand.

"I have practiced in the courts," the native said, "for thirty years,
and during that time I have found only three kinds of witnesses--two
of whom would, by such an act, be left precisely where they were,
while the third would be released by it from a very salutary check."

"And, pray, what are the three classes into which you divide the
witnesses in our courts?"

"First, Sir, are those who will always tell the truth, whether they
are required to state what they know in the form of an oath or not."

"Do you think this a large class?"

"Yes, I think it is; and I have found among them many whom nothing on
earth could make to swerve from the truth. Do what you please, you
could never frighten or bribe them into a deliberate falsehood.

"The second are those who will not hesitate to tell a lie when they
have a motive for it, and are not restrained by an oath. In taking an
oath, they are afraid of two things, the anger of God and the odium of

"Only three days ago," he continued, "I required a power of attorney
from a lady of rank, to enable me to act for her in a case pending
before the court in this town. It was given to me by her brother, and
two witnesses came to declare that she had given it. 'Now,' said I,
'this lady is known to live under the curtain, and you will be asked
by the judge whether you saw her give this paper: what will you say?'
They both replied: 'If the judge asks us the question without an oath,
we will say "_Yes_;" it will save much trouble, and we know that she
_did_ give the paper, though we did not really _see_ her give it; but
if he puts the Koran into our hands, we must say "_No_," for we should
otherwise be pointed at by all the town as perjured wretches--our
enemies would soon tell everybody that we had taken a false oath.'

"Now," the native lawyer went on, "the form of an oath is a great
check on this sort of persons.

"The third class consists of men who will tell lies whenever they have
a sufficient motive, whether they have the Koran or Ganges-water in
their hand or not. Nothing will ever prevent their doing so; and the
declaration which you propose would be just as well as any other for

"Which class do you consider the most numerous of the three?"

"I consider the second the most numerous, and wish the oath to be
retained for them."

"That is, of all the men you see examined in our courts, you think the
most come under the class of those who will, under the influence of
strong motives, tell lies, if they have not the Koran or Ganges-water
in their hands?"


"But do not a great many of those whom you consider to be included
among the second class come from the village-communities--the
peasantry of the country?"


"And do you not think that the greatest part of those men who will
tell lies in the court, under the influence of strong motives, unless
they have the Koran or Ganges-water in their hands, would refuse to
tell lies, if questioned before the people of their villages, among
the circle in which they live?"

"Of course I do; three-fourths of those who do not scruple to lie in
the courts, would be ashamed to lie before their neighbors, or the
elders of their village."

"You think that the people of the village-communities are more ashamed
to tell lies before their neighbors than the people of towns?"

"Much more--there is no comparison."

"And the people of towns and cities bear in India but a small
proportion to the people of the village-communities?"

"I should think a very small proportion indeed."

"Then you think that in the mass of the population of India, _out of
our courts_, the first class, or those who speak truth, whether they
have the Koran or Ganges-water in their hands or not, would be found
more numerous than the other two?"

"Certainly I do; if they were always to be questioned before their
neighbors or elders, so that they could feel that their neighbors and
elders could know what they say."

It was from a simple sense of justice that I felt bound to quote this
testimony of Colonel Sleeman as to the truthful character of the
natives of India, when _left to themselves_. My interest lies
altogether with the people of India, _when left to themselves_, and
historically I should like to draw a line after the year one thousand
after Christ. When you read the atrocities committed by the Mohammedan
conquerors of India from that time to the time when England stepped in
and, whatever may be said by her envious critics, made, at all events,
the broad principles of our common humanity respected once more in
India, the wonder, to my mind, is how any nation could have survived
such an _Inferno_ without being turned into devils themselves.

Now, it is quite true that during the two thousand years which precede
the time of Mahmud of Gazni, India has had but few foreign visitors,
and few foreign critics; still it is surely extremely strange that
whenever, either in Greek, or in Chinese, or in Persian, or in Arab
writings, we meet with any attempts at describing the distinguishing
features in the national character of the Indians, regard for truth
and justice should always be mentioned first.

_Ktesias_, the famous Greek physician of Artaxerxes Mnemon (present at
the battle of Cunaxa, 404 B.C.), the first Greek writer who tells us
anything about the character of the Indians, such as he heard it
described at the Persian court, has a special chapter "On the Justice
of the Indians."[39]

_Megasthenes_,[40] the ambassador of Seleucus Nicator at the court of
Sandrocottus in Palibothra (Pâ_t_aliputra, the modern Patna), states
that thefts were extremely rare, and that they honored truth and

_Arrian_ (in the second century, the pupil of Epictetus), when
speaking of the public overseers or superintendents in India,
says:[42] "They oversee what goes on in the country or towns, and
report everything to the king, where the people have a king, and to
the magistrates, where the people are self-governed, and it is against
use and wont for these to give in a false report; _but indeed no
Indian is accused of lying_."[43]

The Chinese, who come next in order of time, bear the same, I believe,
unanimous testimony in favor of the honesty and veracity of the
Hindus. [The earliest witness is Su-we, a relative of Fan-chen, King
of Siam, who between 222 and 227 A.D. sailed round the whole of India,
till he reached the mouth of the Indus, and then explored the country.
After his return to Sinto, he received four Yueh-chi horses, sent by a
king of India as a present to the King of Siam and his ambassador. At
the time when these horses arrived in Siam (it took them four years to
travel there), there was staying at the court of Siam an ambassador of
the Emperor of China, Khang-thai, and this is the account which he
received of the kingdom of India: "It is a kingdom in which the
religion of Buddha flourishes. The inhabitants are straightforward and
honest, and the soil is very fertile. The king is called Meu-lun, and
his capital is surrounded by walls," etc. This was in about 231 A.D.
In 605 we hear again of the Emperor Yang-ti sending an ambassador,
Fei-tu, to India, and this is what among other things he points out as
peculiar to the Hindus: "They believe in solemn oaths."][44] Let me
quote Hiouen-thsang, the most famous of the Chinese Buddhist
pilgrims, who visited India in the seventh century.[45] "Though the
Indians," he writes, "are of a light temperament, they are
distinguished by the straightforwardness and honesty of their
character. With regard to riches, they never take anything unjustly;
with regard to justice, they make even excessive concessions....
Straightforwardness is the distinguishing feature of their

If we turn to the accounts given by the Mohammedan conquerors of
India, we find Idrisi, in his Geography (written in the eleventh
century), summing up their opinion of the Indians in the following

    "The Indians are naturally inclined to justice, and never
    depart from it in their actions. Their good faith, honesty,
    and fidelity to their engagements are well known, and they
    are so famous for these qualities that people flock to their
    country from every side."

Again, in the thirteenth century, Shems-ed-din Abu Abdallah quotes the
following judgment of Bedi ezr Zenân: "The Indians are innumerable,
like grains of sand, free from all deceit and violence. They fear
neither death nor life."[47]

In the thirteenth century we have the testimony of Marco Polo,[48]who
thus speaks of the _Abraiaman_, a name by which he seems to mean the
Brahmans who, though, not traders by profession, might well have been
employed for great commercial transactions by the king. This was
particularly the case during times which the Brahmans would call
times of distress, when many things were allowed which at other times
were forbidden by the laws. "You must know," Marco Polo says, "that
these Abraiaman are the best merchants in the world, and the most
truthful, for they would not tell a lie for anything on earth."

In the fourteenth century we have Friar Jordanus, who goes out of his
way to tell us that the people of Lesser India (South and Western
India) are true in speech and eminent in justice.[49]

In the fifteenth century, Kamal-eddin Abd-errazak Samarkandi
(1413-1482), who went as ambassador of the Khakan to the prince of
Kalikut and to the King of Vidyânagara (about 1440-1445), bears
testimony to the perfect security which merchants enjoy in that

In the sixteenth century, Abu Fazl, the minister of the Emperor Akbar,
says in his Ayin Akbari: "The Hindus are religious, affable, cheerful,
lovers of justice, given to retirement, able in business, admirers of
truth, grateful and of unbounded fidelity; and their soldiers know not
what it is to fly from the field of battle."[51]

And even in quite modern times the Mohammedans seem willing to admit
that the Hindus, at all events in their dealings with Hindus, are more
straightforward than Mohammedans in their dealings with Mohammedans.

Thus Meer Sulamut Ali, a venerable old Mussulman, and, as Colonel
Sleeman says, a most valuable public servant, was obliged to admit
that "a Hindu may feel himself authorized to take in a Mussulman, and
might even think it meritorious to do so; but he would never think it
meritorious to take in one of his own religion. There are no less than
seventy-two sects of Mohammedans; and every one of these sects would
not only take in the followers of every other religion on earth, but
every member of every one of the other seventy-one sects; and the
nearer that sect is to his own, the greater the merit of taking in its

So I could go on quoting from book after book, and again and again we
should see how it was love of truth that struck all the people who
came in contact with India, as the prominent feature in the national
character of its inhabitants. No one ever accused them of falsehood.
There must surely be some ground for this, for it is not a remark that
is frequently made by travellers in foreign countries, even in our
time, that their inhabitants invariably speak the truth. Read the
accounts of English travellers in France, and you will find very
little said about French honesty and veracity, while French accounts
of England are seldom without a fling at _Perfide Albion_!

But if all this is true, how is it, you may well ask, that public
opinion in England is so decidedly unfriendly to the people of India;
at the utmost tolerates and patronizes them, but will never trust
them, never treat them on terms of equality?

I have already hinted at some of the reasons. Public opinion with
regard to India is made up in England chiefly by those who have spent
their lives in Calcutta, Bombay, Madras, or some other of the
principal towns in India. The native element in such towns contains
mostly the most unfavorable specimens of the Indian population. An
insight into the domestic life of the more respectable classes, even
in towns, is difficult to obtain; and, when it is obtained, it is
extremely difficult to judge of their manners according to our
standard of what is proper, respectable, or gentlemanlike. The
misunderstandings are frequent and often most grotesque; and such, we
must confess, is human nature, that when we hear the different and
often most conflicting accounts of the character of the Hindus, we are
naturally skeptical with regard to unsuspected virtues among them,
while we are quite disposed to accept unfavorable accounts of their

Lest I should seem to be pleading too much on the native side of the
question, and to exaggerate the difficulty of forming a correct estimate
of the character of the Hindus, let me appeal to one of the most
distinguished, learned, and judicious members of the Indian Civil
Service, the author of the "History of India," Mountstuart Elphinstone.
"Englishmen in India,"[53] he says, "have less opportunity than might be
expected of forming opinions of the native character. Even in England,
few know much of the people beyond their own class, and what they do
know, they learn from newspapers and publications of a description which
does not exist in India. In that country also, religion and manners put
bars to our intimacy with the natives, and limit the number of
transactions as well as the free communication of opinions. We know
nothing of the interior of families but by report, and have no share in
those numerous occurrences of life in which the amiable parts of
character are most exhibited." "Missionaries of a different
religion,[54] judges, police-magistrates, officers of revenue or
customs, and even diplomatists, do not see the most virtuous portion of
a nation, nor any portion, unless when influenced by passion, or
occupied by some personal interest. What we _do_ see we judge by our own
standard. We conclude that a man who cries like a child on slight
occasions must always be incapable of acting or suffering with dignity;
and that one who allows himself to be called a liar would not be ashamed
of any baseness. Our writers also confound the distinctions of time and
place; they combine in one character the Maratta and the Bengalese, and
tax the present generation with the crimes of the heroes of the
Mahâbhârata. It might be argued, in opposition to many unfavorable
testimonies, that those who have known the Indians longest have always
the best opinion of them; but this is rather a compliment to human
nature than to them, since it is true of every other people. It is more
in point, that all persons who have retired from India think better of
the people they have left, after comparing them with others, even of the
most justly-admired nations."

But what is still more extraordinary than the ready acceptance of
judgments unfavorable to the character of the Hindus, is the
determined way in which public opinion, swayed by the statements of
certain unfavorable critics, has persistently ignored the evidence
which members of the Civil Service, officers and statesmen--men of the
highest authority--have given again and again, in direct opposition to
these unfavorable opinions.

Here, too, I must ask to be allowed to quote at least a few of these
witnesses on the other side.

Warren Hastings thus speaks of the Hindus in general: "They are gentle
and benevolent, more susceptible of gratitude for kindness shown them,
and less prompted to vengeance for wrongs inflicted than any people on
the face of the earth; faithful, affectionate, submissive to legal

Bishop Heber said: "The Hindus are brave, courteous, intelligent, most
eager for knowledge and improvement; sober, industrious, dutiful to
parents, affectionate to their children, uniformly gentle and patient,
and more easily affected by kindness and attention to their wants and
feelings than any people I ever met with."[55]

Elphinstone states: "No set of people among the Hindus are so depraved
as the dregs of our own great towns. The villagers are everywhere
amiable, affectionate to their families, kind to their neighbors, and
toward all but the government honest and sincere. Including the Thugs
and Dacoits, the mass of crime is less in India than in England. The
Thugs are almost a separate nation, and the Dacoits are desperate
ruffians in gangs. The Hindus are mild and gentle people, more
merciful to prisoners than any other Asiatics. Their freedom from
gross debauchery is the point in which they appear to most advantage;
and their superiority in purity of manners is not flattering to our

Yet Elphinstone can be most severe on the real faults of the people of
India. He states that, at present, want of veracity is one of their
prominent vices, but he adds[57] "that such deceit is most common in
people connected with government, a class which spreads far in India,
as, from the nature of the land-revenue, the lowest villager is often
obliged to resist force by fraud."[58]

Sir John Malcolm writes:[59] "I have hardly ever known where a person
did understand the language, or where a calm communication was made to
a native of India, through a well-informed and trustworthy medium,
that the result did not prove, that what had at first been stated as
falsehood had either proceeded from fear or from misapprehension. I by
no means wish to state that our Indian subjects are more free from
this vice than other nations that occupy a nearly equal position in
society, but I am positive that they are not more addicted to

Sir Thomas Munro bears even stronger testimony. He writes:[60] "If a
good system of agriculture, unrivalled manufacturing skill, a capacity
to produce whatever can contribute to either convenience or luxury,
schools established in every village for teaching reading, writing,
and arithmetic,[61] the general practice of hospitality and charity
among each other, and, above all, a treatment of the female sex full
of confidence, respect, and delicacy, are among the signs which
denote a civilized people--then the Hindus are not inferior to the
nations of Europe--and if civilization is to become an article of
trade between England and India, I am convinced that England will gain
by the import cargo."

My own experience with regard to the native character has been, of
course, very limited. Those Hindus whom I have had the pleasure to
know personally in Europe may be looked upon as exceptional, as the
best specimens, it may be, that India could produce. Also, my
intercourse with them has naturally been such that it could hardly
have brought out the darker sides of human nature. During the last
twenty years, however, I have had some excellent opportunities of
watching a number of native scholars under circumstances where it is
not difficult to detect a man's true character--I mean in literary
work and, more particularly, in literary controversy. I have watched
them carrying on such controversies both among themselves and with
certain European scholars, and I feel bound to say that, with hardly
one exception, they have displayed a far greater respect for truth and
a far more manly and generous spirit than we are accustomed to even in
Europe and America. They have shown strength, but no rudeness; nay, I
know that nothing has surprised them so much as the coarse invective
to which certain Sanskrit scholars have condescended, rudeness of
speech being, according to their view of human nature, a safe sign not
only of bad breeding, but of want of knowledge. When they were wrong,
they have readily admitted their mistakes; when they were right, they
have never sneered at their European adversaries. There has been,
with few exceptions, no quibbling, no special pleading, no
untruthfulness on their part, and certainly none of that low cunning
of the scholar who writes down and publishes what he knows perfectly
well to be false, and snaps his fingers at those who still value truth
and self-respect more highly than victory or applause at any price.
Here, too, we might possibly gain by the import cargo.

Let me add that I have been repeatedly told by English merchants that
commercial honor stands higher in India than in any other country, and
that a dishonored bill is hardly known there.

I have left to the last the witnesses who might otherwise have been
suspected--I mean the Hindus themselves. The whole of their literature
from one end to the other is pervaded by expressions of love and
reverence for truth. Their very word for truth is full of meaning. It
is s a t or s a t y a, s a t being the participle of the verb _as_, to be.
True, therefore, was with them simply _that which is_. The English
_sooth_ is connected with sat, also the Greek ον for εσον,
and the Latin _sens_, in _præsens_.

We are all very apt to consider truth to be what is trowed by others,
or believed in by large majorities. That kind of truth is easy to
accept. But whoever has once stood alone, surrounded by noisy
assertions, and overwhelmed by the clamor of those who ought to know
better, or perhaps who did know better--call him Galileo or Darwin,
Colenso or Stanley, or any other name--he knows what a real delight it
is to feel in his heart of hearts, this is true--this is--this is
s a t--whatever daily, weekly, or quarterly papers, whatever bishops,
archbishops, or popes, may say to the contrary.

Another name for truth is the Sanskrit _r i_t a, which originally seems
to have meant _straight_, _direct_, while a n_r i_t a is untrue, false.

Now one of the highest praises bestowed upon the gods in the Veda is
that they are s a t y a, true, truthful, trustworthy;[62] and it is well
known that both in modern and ancient times, men always ascribe to God
or to their gods those qualities which they value most in themselves.

Other words applied to the gods as truthful beings are, a d r o g h a,
lit. not deceiving.[63] A d r o g h a-v â _k_ means, he whose word is
never broken. Thus Indra, the Vedic Jupiter, is said to have been
praised by the fathers[64] "as reaching the enemy, overcoming him,
standing on the summit, _true of speech_, most powerful in thought."

D r o g h a v â _k_,[65] on the contrary, is used for deceitful men. Thus
Vasish_th_a, one of the great Vedic poets, says: "If I had worshipped
false gods, or if I believed in the gods vainly--but why art thou
angry with us, O _G_âtavedas? May liars go to destruction!"

S a t y a m, as a neuter, is often used as an abstract, and is then
rightly translated by truth. But it also means that which is, the true,
the real; and there are several passages in the Rig-Veda where, instead
of _truth_, I think we ought simply to translate s a t y a m by the
true, that is, the real, τὸ οντως ον.[66] It sounds, no doubt, very well
to translate Satyena uttabhitâ bhûmi_h_ by "the earth is founded on
truth;" and I believe every translator has taken s a t y a in that sense
here. Ludwig translates, "Von der Wahrheit ist die Erde gestützt." But
such an idea, if it conveys any tangible meaning at all, is far too
abstract for those early poets and philosophers. They meant to say "the
earth, such as we see it, is held up, that is, rests on something real,
though we may not see it, on something which they called the Real,[67]
and to which, in course of time, they gave many more names, such as _R
i_ t a, the right, B r a h m a n," etc.

Of course where there is that strong reverence for truth, there must
also be the sense of guilt arising from untruth. And thus we hear one
poet pray that the waters may wash him clean, and carry off all his
sins and all untruth:

    "Carry away, ye waters,[68] whatever evil there is in me,
    wherever I may have deceived, or may have cursed, and also
    all untruth (an_ri_tam)."[69]

Or again, in the Atharva-Veda IV. 16:

    "May all thy fatal snares, which stand spread out seven by
    seven and threefold, catch the man who tells a lie, may they
    pass by him who tells the truth!"

From the Brâhma_n_as, or theological treatises of the Brahmans, I
shall quote a few passages only:

    "Whosoever[70] speaks the truth, makes the fire on his own
    altar blaze up, as if he poured butter into the lighted fire.
    His own light grows larger, and from to-morrow to to-morrow
    he becomes better. But whosoever speaks untruth, he quenches
    the fire on his altar, as if he poured water into the lighted
    fire; his own light grows smaller and smaller, and from
    to-morrow to to-morrow he becomes more wicked. Let man
    therefore speak truth only."[71]

And again:[72] "A man becomes impure by uttering falsehood."

And again:[73] "As a man who steps on the edge of a sword placed over
a pit cries out, I shall slip, I shall slip into the pit, so let a man
guard himself from falsehood (or sin)."

In later times we see the respect for truth carried to such an
extreme, that even a promise, unwittingly made, is considered to be

In the Ka_th_a-Upanishad, for instance, a father is introduced
offering what is called an _All_-sacrifice, where everything is
supposed to be given up. His son, who is standing by, taunts his
father with not having altogether fulfilled his vow, because he has
not sacrificed his son. Upon this, the father, though angry and
against his will, is obliged to sacrifice his son. Again, when the son
arrives in the lower world, he is allowed by the Judge of the Dead to
ask for three favors. He then asks to be restored to life, to be
taught some sacrificial mysteries, and, as the third boon, he asks to
know what becomes of man after he is dead. Yama, the lord of the
Departed, tries in vain to be let off from answering this last
question. But he, too, is bound by his promise, and then follows a
discourse on life after death, or immortal life, which forms one of
the most beautiful chapters in the ancient literature of India.

The whole plot of one of the great epic poems, the Râmâya_n_a, rests
on a rash promise given by Da_s_aratha, king of Ayodhyâ, to his second
wife, Kaikeyî, that he would grant her two boons. In order to secure
the succession to her own son, she asks that Râma, the eldest son by
the king's other wife, should be banished for fourteen years. Much as
the king repents his promise, Râma, his eldest son, would on no
account let his father break his word, and he leaves his kingdom to
wander in the forest with his wife Sitâ and his brother Lakshma_n_a.
After the father's death, the son of the second wife declines the
throne, and comes to Râma to persuade him to accept the kingdom of his
father. But all in vain. Râma will keep his exile for fourteen years,
and never disown his father's promise. Here follows a curious dialogue
between a Brâhman _G_âbâli and Prince Râma, of which I shall give some

    "The Brâhman, who is a priest and courtier, says, 'Well,
    descendant of Raghu, do not thou, so noble in sentiments, and
    austere in character, entertain, like a common man, this
    useless thought. What man is a kinsman of any other? What
    relationship has any one with another? A man is born alone
    and dies alone. Hence he who is attached to any one as his
    father or his mother, is to be regarded as if he were insane,
    for no one belongs to another. Thou oughtest not to abandon
    thy father's kingdom and stay here in a sad and miserable
    abode, attended with many trials. Let thyself be inaugurated
    king in the wealthy Ayodhyâ. Da_s_aratha, thy father is
    nothing to thee, or thou to him; the king is one, and thou
    another, do therefore what is said.... Then offer oblations
    to the departed spirits (of thy forefathers) on prescribed
    days; but see what a waste of food! For what can a dead man
    eat? If what is eaten by one here enters into the body of
    another (viz., of the departed), let _S_râddhas be offered to
    those who are travelling; they need not then get food to eat
    on their journey. These books (the Vedas), (which enjoin men
    to) sacrifice, give, consecrate themselves, practise
    austerities, and forsake the world, are composed by clever
    men to induce others to bestow gifts. Authoritative words do
    not fall from heaven. Let me, and others like yourselves,
    embrace whatever assertion is supported by reason. Adhere to
    what is apparent to the senses, and reject what is
    invisible.... _This world is the next world_; do thou
    therefore enjoy pleasure, for every virtuous man does not
    gain it. Virtuous men are greatly distressed, while the
    unrighteous are seen to be happy.'"

These positivist sentiments sound strange, particularly from the mouth
of a Brâhman. But the poet evidently wishes to represent a Brâhman
living at court, who has an argument ready for anything and everything
that is likely to please his king.

But what does Râma answer? "The words," he says, "which you have
addressed to me, though they recommend what _seems_ to be right and
salutary, advise, in fact, the contrary. The sinful transgressor, who
lives according to the rules of heretical systems, obtains no esteem
from good men. It is good conduct that marks a man to be noble or
ignoble, heroic or a pretender to manliness, pure or impure. Truth and
mercy are immemorial characteristics of a king's conduct. Hence royal
rule is in its essence _truth_. On truth the word is based. Both sages
and gods have esteemed truth. The man who speaks truth in this world
attains the highest imperishable state. Men shrink with fear and
horror from a liar as from a serpent. In this world the chief element
in virtue is truth; it is called the basis of everything. Truth is
lord in the world; virtue always rests on truth. All things are
founded on truth; nothing is higher than it. Why, then, should I not
be true to my promise, and faithfully observe the truthful injunction
given by my father? Neither through covetousness, nor delusion, nor
ignorance, will I, overpowered by darkness, break through the barrier
of truth, but remain true to my promise to my father. How shall I,
having promised to him that I would thus reside in the forests,
transgress his injunction, and do what Bharata recommends?"

The other epic poem too, the Mahâbhârata, is full of episodes showing
a profound regard for truth and an almost slavish submission to a
pledge once given. The death of Bhîshma, one of the most important
events in the story of the Mahâbhârata, is due to his vow never to
hurt a woman. He is thus killed by _S_ikhandin, whom he takes to be a

Were I to quote from all the law-books, and from still later works,
everywhere you would hear the same key-note of truthfulness vibrating
through them all.

We must not, however, suppress the fact that, under certain
circumstances, a lie was allowed, or, at all events, excused by Indian
lawgivers. Thus Gautama says:[76] "An untruth spoken by people under
the influence of anger, excessive joy, fear, pain, or grief, by
infants, by very old men, by persons laboring under a delusion, being
under the influence of drink, or by madmen, does not cause the speaker
to fall, or, as we should say, is a venial, not a mortal sin."[77]

This is a large admission, yet even in that open admission there is a
certain amount of honesty. Again and again in the Mahâbhârata is this
excuse pleaded.[78] Nay, there is in the Mahâbhârata[79] the
well-known story of Kau_s_ika, called Satyavâdin, the Truth-speaker,
who goes to hell for having spoken the truth. He once saw men flying
into the forest before robbers (dasyu). The robbers came up soon after
them, and asked Kau_s_ika, which way the fugitives had taken. He told
them the truth, and the men were caught by the robbers and killed.
But Kau_s_ika, we are told, went to hell for having spoken the truth.

The Hindus may seem to have been a priest-ridden race, and their
devotion to sacrifice and ceremonial is well known. Yet this is what
the poet of the Mahâbhârata dares to say:

    "Let a thousand sacrifices (of a horse) and truth be weighed
    in the balance--truth will exceed the thousand

These are words addressed by _S_akuntalâ, the deserted wife, to King
Dushyanta, when he declined to recognize her and his son. And when he
refuses to listen to her appeal, what does she appeal to as the
highest authority?--_The voice of conscience._

"If you think I am alone," she says to the king, "you do not know that
wise man within your heart. He knows of your evil deed--in _his_ sight
you commit sin. A man who has committed sin may think that no one
knows it. The gods know it and the old man within."[81]

This must suffice. I say once more that I do not wish to represent the
people of India as two hundred and fifty-three millions of angels, but
I do wish it to be understood and to be accepted as a fact, that the
damaging charge of untruthfulness brought against that people is
utterly unfounded with regard to ancient times. It is not only not
true, but the very opposite of the truth. As to modern times, and I
date them from about 1000 after Christ, I can only say that, after
reading the accounts of the terrors and horrors of Mohammedan rule, my
wonder is that so much of native virtue and truthfulness should have
survived. You might as well expect a mouse to speak the truth before a
cat, as a Hindu before a Mohammedan judge.[82] If you frighten a
child, that child will tell a lie; if you terrorize millions, you must
not be surprised if they try to escape from your fangs. Truthfulness
is a luxury, perhaps the greatest, and let me assure you, the most
expensive luxury in our life--and happy the man who has been able to
enjoy it from his very childhood. It may be easy enough in our days
and in a free country, like England, never to tell a lie--but the
older we grow, the harder we find it to be always true, to speak the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The Hindus too had
made that discovery. They too knew how hard, nay how impossible it is,
always to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
There is a short story in the _S_atapatha Brâhma_n_a, to my mind full
of deep meaning, and pervaded by the real sense of truth, the real
sense of the difficulty of truth. His kinsman said to Aru_n_a
Aupave_s_i, "Thou art advanced in years, establish thou the
sacrificial fires." He replied: "Thereby you tell me henceforth to
keep silence. For he who has established the fires must not speak an
untruth, and only by not speaking at all, one speaks no untruth. To
that extent the service of the sacrificial fires consists in

I doubt whether in any other of the ancient literatures of the world
you will find traces of that extreme sensitiveness of conscience which
despairs of our ever speaking the truth, and which declares silence
gold, and speech silver, though, in a much higher sense than our

What I should wish to impress on those who will soon find themselves
the rulers of millions of human beings in India, is the duty to shake
off national prejudices, which are apt to degenerate into a kind of
madness. I have known people with a brown skin whom I could look up to
as my betters. Look for them in India, and you will find them, and if
you meet with disappointments, as no doubt you will, think of the
people with white skins whom you have trusted, and whom you can trust
no more. We are all apt to be Pharisees in international judgments. I
read only a few days ago in a pamphlet written by an enlightened
politician, the following words:

    "Experience only can teach that nothing is so truly
    astonishing to a morally depraved people as the phenomenon of
    a race of men in whose word perfect confidence may be
    placed[84].... The natives are conscious of their inferiority
    in nothing so much as in this. They require to be taught
    rectitude of conduct much more than literature and science."

If you approach the Hindus with such feelings, you will teach them
neither rectitude, nor science, nor literature. Nay, they might appeal
to their own literature, even to their law-books, to teach us at least
one lesson of truthfulness, truthfulness to ourselves, or, in other
words, humility.

What does Yâ_gñ_avalkya say?[85]

    "It is not our hermitage," he says--our religion we might
    say--"still less the color of our skin, that produces virtue;
    virtue must be practiced. Therefore let no one do to others
    what he would not have done to himself."

And the laws of the Mânavas, which were so much abused by Mill, what
do they teach?[86]

    "Evil-doers think indeed that no one sees them; but the gods
    see them, and the old man within."

    "Self is the witness of Self, Self is the refuge of Self. Do
    not despise thy own Self, the highest witness of men."[87]

    "If, friend, thou thinkest thou art self-alone, remember
    there is the silent thinker (the Highest Self) always within
    thy heart, and _he_ sees what is good and what is evil."[88]

    "O friend, whatever good thou mayest have done from thy very
    birth, all will go to the dogs, if thou speak an untruth."

Or in Vasish_th_a, XXX. 1:

    "Practice righteousness, not unrighteousness; speak truth,
    not untruth; look far, not near; look up toward the highest,
    not toward anything low."

No doubt there is moral depravity in India, and where is there no
moral depravity in this world? But to appeal to international
statistics would be, I believe, a dangerous game. Nor must we forget
that our standards of morality differ, and, on some points, differ
considerably from those recognized in India; and we must not wonder if
sons do not at once condemn as criminal what their fathers and
grandfathers considered right. Let us hold by all means to _our_ sense
of what is right and what is wrong; but in judging others, whether in
public or in private life, whether as historians or politicians, let
us not forget that a kindly spirit will never do any harm. Certainly
I can imagine nothing more mischievous, more dangerous, more fatal to
the permanence of English rule in India, than for the young civil
servants to go to that country with the idea that it is a sink of
moral depravity, an ants' nest of lies; for no one is so sure to go
wrong, whether in public or in private life, as he who says in his
haste: "All men are liars."


[Footnote 17: Mill's "History of British India," ed. Wilson, vol. i.,
p. 375.]

[Footnote 18: Keshub Chunder Sen is the present spiritual director of
the Brahmo Sama_g_, the theistic organization founded by the late
Rammohun Roy.--A. W.]

[Footnote 19: Mill's "History," ed. Wilson, vol. i., p. 368.]

[Footnote 20: L. c. p. 325.]

[Footnote 21: L. c. p. 329.]

[Footnote 22: P. 217.]

[Footnote 23: Mill's "History," vol. i., p. 329.]

[Footnote 24: Manu, VIII. 43, says: "Neither a King himself nor his
officers must ever promote litigation; nor ever neglect a lawsuit
instituted by others."]

[Footnote 25: Mill's "History," vol. i., p. 327.]

[Footnote 26: L. c. p. 368.]

[Footnote 27: See Elphinstone, "History of India," ed. Cowell, p. 219,
note. "Of the 232 sentences of death 64 only were carried out in
England, while the 59 sentences of death in Bengal were all carried

[Footnote 28: Sir Ch. Trevelyan, Christianity and Hinduism, 1882, p.

This will be news to many. It has been quite common to include the
Thugs with the worshippers of Bhavani, the consort of Siva. The word
signifies a deceiver, which eliminates it from every religious
association.--A. W.]

[Footnote 29: Manu VII. 115.]

[Footnote 30: H. M. Elliot, "Supplement to the Glossary of Indian
Terms," p. 151.]

[Footnote 31: I see from Dr. Hunter's latest statistical tables that
the whole number of towns and villages in British India amounts to
493,429. Out of this number 448,320 have less than 1000 inhabitants,
and may be called villages. In Bengal, where the growth of towns has
been most encouraged through Government establishments, the total
number of homesteads is 117,042, and more than half of these contain
less than 200 inhabitants. Only 10,077 towns in Bengal have more than
1000 inhabitants, that is, no more than about a seventeenth part of
all the settlements are anything but what we should call substantial
villages. In the North-Western Provinces the last census gives us
105,124 villages, against 297 towns. See London _Times_, 14th Aug.

[Footnote 32: "Ancient India as described by Megasthenes and Arrian,"
by McCrindle, p. 42.]

[Footnote 33: "Perjury seems to be committed by the meanest and
encouraged by some of the better sort among the Hindus and Mussulmans,
with as little remorse as if it were a proof of ingenuity, or even a
merit."--Sir W. Jones, Address to Grand Jury at Calcutta, in Mill's
"History of India," vol. i., p. 324. "The longer we possess a
province, the more common and grave does perjury become."--Sir G.
Campbell, quoted by Rev. Samuel Johnson, "Oriental Religions, India,"
p. 288.]

[Footnote 34: Vasish_th_a, translated by Bühler, VIII. 8.]

[Footnote 35: Mr. J. D. Baldwin, author of "Prehistoric Nations,"
declares that this system of village-communities existed in India long
before the Aryan conquest. He attributes it to Cushite or Æthiopic
influence, and with great plausibility. Nevertheless, the same system
flourished in prehistoric Greece, even till the Roman conquests. Mr.
Palgrave observed it existing in Arabia. "Oman is less a kingdom than
an aggregation of municipalities," he remarks; "each town, each
village has its separate existence and corporation, while towns and
villages, in their turn, are subjected to one or other of the
ancestral chiefs." The Ionian and Phoenician cities existed by a
similar tenure, as did also the Free Cities of Europe. It appears,
indeed, to have been the earlier form of rule. Megasthenes noticed it
in India. "The village-communities," says Sir Charles Metcalf, "are
little republics, having everything they want within themselves, and
almost independent of any foreign relations. They seem to last where
nothing else lasts." These villages usually consist of the holders of
the land, those who farm and cultivate it, the established
village-servants, priest, blacksmith, carpenter, accountant,
washerman, potter, barber, watchman, shoemaker, etc. The tenure and
law of inheritance varies with the different native races, but
tenantship for a specific period seems to be the most common.--A. W.]

[Footnote 36: "Sleeman," vol. ii., p. 111.]

[Footnote 37: Sleeman, "Rambles," vol. ii., p. 116.]

[Footnote 38: Vasish_th_a XVI. 32.]

[Footnote 39: Ktesiæ Fragmenta (ed. Didot), p. 81.]

[Footnote 40: See "Indian Antiquary," 1876, p. 333.]

[Footnote 41: Megasthenis Fragmenta (ed. Didot) in "Fragm. Histor.
Graec." vol. ii., p. 426 b: 'Αλήθειἁν τε ὑμοἱως καὶ ἁρετὴν ὰποδεχονται.

[Footnote 42: Indica, cap. xii. 6.]

[Footnote 43: See McCrindle in. "Indian Antiquary," 1876, p. 92.]

[Footnote 44: See Stanislas Julien, _Journal Asiatique_, 1847, Août,
pp. 98, 105.]

[Footnote 45: Vol. ii., p. 83.]

[Footnote 46: Elliot, "History of India," vol. i., p. 88.]

[Footnote 47: See Mehren: "Manuel de la Cosmographie du moyen âge,
traduction de l'ouvrage de Shems-ed-din Abou Abdallah de Damas."
Paris: Leroux, 1874, p. 371.]

[Footnote 48: "Marco Polo," ed. H. Yule, vol. ii., p. 350.]

[Footnote 49: "Marco Polo," vol. ii., p. 354.]

[Footnote 50: "Notices des Manuscrits," tom. xiv., p. 436. He seems to
have been one of the first to state that the Persian text of the
Kalilah and Dimna was derived from the wise people of India.]

[Footnote 51: Samuel Johnson, "India," p. 294.]

[Footnote 52: Sleeman, "Rambles," vol. i., p. 63.]

[Footnote 53: Elphinstone's "History of India," ed. Cowell, p. 213.]

[Footnote 54: This statement may well be doubted. The missionary staff
in India is very large and has been for years past. There is no reason
to doubt that many of its members are well informed respecting Hindoo
character in all grades of society.--AM. PUBS.]

[Footnote 55: Samuel Johnson, "India," p. 293.]

[Footnote 56: See "History of India," pp. 375-381.]

[Footnote 57: L. c., p. 215.]

[Footnote 58: "History of India," p. 218.]

[Footnote 59: Mill's "History of India," ed. Wilson, vol. i., p. 370.]

[Footnote 60: L. c., p. 371.]

[Footnote 61: Sir Thomas Munro estimated the children educated at
public schools in the Madras presidency as less than one in three. But
low as it was, it was, as he justly remarked, a higher rate than
existed till very lately in most countries of Europe.--Elphinstone,
"Hist. of India," p. 205.

In Bengal there existed no less than 80,000 native schools, though,
doubtless, for the most part, of a poor quality. According to a
Government Report of 1835, there was a village-school for every 400
persons.--"Missionary Intelligencer," IX. 183-193.

Ludlow ("British India," I. 62) writes: "In every Hindu village which
has retained its old form I am assured that the children generally are
able to read, write, and cipher; but where we have swept away the
village-system, as in Bengal, there the village-school has also

[Footnote 62: Rig-Veda I. 87, 4; 145, 5; 174, 1; V. 23, 2.]

[Footnote 63: Rig-Veda III. 32, 9; VI. 5, 1.]

[Footnote 64: Rig-Veda VI. 22, 2.]

[Footnote 65: Rig-Veda III. 14, 6.]

[Footnote 66: This is the favorite expression of Plato for the Divine,
which Cary, Davis, and others render "Real Being."--A. W.]

[Footnote 67: Sometimes they trace even this S a t y a or _R i_ t a, the
Real or Right, to a still higher cause, and say (Rig-Veda X. 190, 1):

"The Right and Real was born from the Lighted Heat; from thence was
born Night, and thence the billowy sea. From the sea was born
Sa_m_vatsara, the year, he who ordereth day and night, the Lord of all
that moves (winks). The Maker (dhât_ri_) shaped Sun and Moon in order;
he shaped the sky, the earth, the welkin, and the highest heaven."]

[Footnote 68: Rig-Veda I. 23, 22.]

[Footnote 69: Or it may mean, "Wherever I may have deceived, or sworn

[Footnote 70: _S_atapatha Brâhma_n_a II. 2, 3, 19.]

[Footnote 71: Cf. Muir, "Metrical Translations," p. 268.]

[Footnote 72: _S_at. Br. III. 1, 2, 10.]

[Footnote 73: Taitt. Âra_n_yaka X. 9.]

[Footnote 74: Muir, "Metrical Translations," p. 218.]

[Footnote 75: Holtzmann, "Das alte indische Epos," p. 21, note 83.]

[Footnote 76: V. 24.]

[Footnote 77: This permission to prevaricate was still further
extended. The following five untruths are enumerated by various
writers as not constituting mortal sins--namely, at the time of
marriage, during dalliance, when life is in danger, when the loss of
property is threatened, and for the sake of a Brahma_n_a. Again,
another writer cites the declaration that an untruth is venial if it
is spoken at the time of marriage, during dalliance, in jest, or while
suffering great pain. It is evident that Venus laughed at lovers'
oaths in India as well as elsewhere; and that false testimony
extracted by torture was excused. Manu declared that in some cases the
giver of false evidence from a pious motive would not lose his seat in
heaven; indeed, that whenever the death of a man of any of the four
castes would be occasioned by true evidence, falsehood was even better
than truth. He gives as the primeval rule, to say what is true and
what is pleasant, but not what is true and unpleasant, or what is
pleasant and not true. The Vish_n_u-pura_n_a gives like counsel,
adding the following aphorism: "A considerate man will always
cultivate, in act, thought, and speech, that which is good for living
beings, both in this world and in the next." About the same license
appears to be used in this country and winked at.--A. W.]

[Footnote 78: I. 3412; III. 13844; VII. 8742; VIII. 3436, 3464.]

[Footnote 79: Mahâbhârata VIII. 3448.]

[Footnote 80: Muir, l. c. p. 268; Mahâbhârata I. 3095.]

[Footnote 81: Mahâbhârata I. 3015-16.]

[Footnote 82: This explains satisfactorily how the Hindoos became
liars, and of course admits that they did become so.--AM. PUBS.]

[Footnote 83: _S_atapatha Brâhma_n_a, translated by Eggeling, "Sacred
Books of the East," vol. xii., p. 313, § 20.]

[Footnote 84: Sir Charles Trevelyan, "Christianity and Hinduism," p.

[Footnote 85: IV. 65.]

[Footnote 86: VIII. 85.]

[Footnote 87: VIII. 90.]

[Footnote 88: VIII. 92.]



My first lecture was intended to remove the prejudice that India is
and always must be a strange country to us, and that those who have to
live there will find themselves stranded, and far away from that
living stream of thoughts and interests which carries us along in
England and in other countries of Europe.

My second lecture was directed against another prejudice, namely, that
the people of India with whom the young civil servants will have to
pass the best years of their life are a race so depraved morally, and
more particularly so devoid of any regard for truth, that they _must_
always remain strangers to us, and that any real fellowship or
friendship with them is quite out of the question.

To-day I shall have to grapple with a third prejudice, namely, that
the literature of India, and more especially the classical Sanskrit
literature, whatever may be its interest to the scholar and the
antiquarian, has little to teach us which we cannot learn better from
other sources, and that at all events it is of little practical use to
young civilians. If only they learn to express themselves in
Hindustani or Tamil, that is considered quite enough; nay, as they
have to deal with men and with the ordinary affairs of life, and as,
before everything else, they are to be men of the world and men of
business, it is even supposed to be dangerous, if they allowed
themselves to become absorbed in questions of abstruse scholarship or
in researches on ancient religion, mythology, and philosophy.

I take the very opposite opinion, and I should advise every young man
who wishes to enjoy his life in India, and to spend his years there
with profit to himself and to others, to learn Sanskrit, and to learn
it well.

I know it will be said, What can be the use of Sanskrit at the present
day? Is not Sanskrit a dead language? And are not the Hindus
themselves ashamed of their ancient literature? Do they not learn
English, and do they not prefer Locke, and Hume, and Mill to their
ancient poets and philosophers?

No doubt Sanskrit, in one sense, is a dead language. It was, I
believe, a dead language more than two thousand years ago. Buddha,
about 500 B.C., commanded his disciples to preach in the dialects of
the people; and King A_s_oka, in the third century B.C., when he put
up his Edicts, which were intended to be read, or at least to be
understood by the people, had them engraved on rocks and pillars in
the various local dialects from Cabul[89] in the north to Ballabhi in
the south, from the sources of the Ganges and the Jumnah to Allahabad
and Patna, nay even down to Orissa. These various dialects are as
different from Sanskrit as Italian is from Latin, and we have
therefore good reason to suppose that, in the third century B.C., if
not earlier, Sanskrit had ceased to be the spoken language of the
people at large.

There is an interesting passage in the _K_ullavagga, where we are told
that, even during Buddha's lifetime, some of his pupils, who were
Brâhmans by birth, complained that people spoiled the words of Buddha
by every one repeating them in his own dialect (nirutti). They
proposed to translate his words into Sanskrit; but he declined, and
commanded that each man should learn his doctrine in his own

And there is another passage, quoted by Hardy in his Manual of
Buddhism, p. 186, where we read that at the time of Buddha's first
preaching each of the countless listeners thought that the sage was
looking toward him, and was speaking to him in his own tongue, though
the language used was Mâgadhi.[91]

Sanskrit, therefore, as a language spoken by the people at large, had
ceased to exist in the third century B.C.

Yet such is the marvellous continuity between the past and the present
in India, that in spite of repeated social convulsions, religious
reforms, and foreign invasions, Sanskrit may be said to be still the
only language that is spoken over the whole extent of that vast

Though the Buddhist sovereigns published their edicts in the
vernaculars, public inscriptions and private official documents
continued to be composed in Sanskrit during the last two thousand
years. And though the language of the sacred writings of Buddhists and
_G_ainas was borrowed from the vulgar dialects, the literature of
India never ceased to be written in Pâ_n_inean Sanskrit, while the few
exceptions, as, for instance, the use of Prâkrit by women and inferior
characters in the plays of Kâlidâsa and others, are themselves not
without an important historical significance.

Even at the present moment, after a century of English rule and
English teaching, I believe that Sanskrit is more widely understood in
India than Latin was in Europe at the time of Dante.

Whenever I receive a letter from a learned man in India, it is written
in Sanskrit. Whenever there is a controversy on questions of law and
religion, the pamphlets published in India are written in Sanskrit.
There are journals written in Sanskrit which must entirely depend for
their support on readers who prefer that classical language to the
vulgar dialects. There is _The Pandit_, published at Benares,
containing not only editions of ancient texts, but treatises on modern
subjects, reviews of books published in England, and controversial
articles, all in Sanskrit.

Another paper of the same kind is the _Pratna-Kamra-nandinî_, "the
Delight of lovers of old things," published likewise at Benares, and
full of valuable materials.

There is also the _Vidyodaya_, "the Rise of Knowledge," a Sanskrit
journal published at Calcutta, which sometimes contains important
articles. There are probably others, which I do not know.

There is a monthly serial published at Bombay, by M. Moreshwar Kunte,
called the _Shad-darshana-Chintanikâ_, or "Studies in Indian
Philosophy," giving the text of the ancient systems of philosophy,
with commentaries and treatises, written in Sanskrit, though in this
case accompanied by a Marathi and an English translation.

Of the Rig-Veda, the most ancient of Sanskrit books, two editions are
now coming out in monthly numbers, the one published at Bombay, by
what may be called the liberal party, the other at Prayâga (Allahabad)
by Dayânanda Sarasvatî, the representative of Indian orthodoxy. The
former gives a paraphrase in Sanskrit, and a Marathi and an English
translation; the latter a full explanation in Sanskrit, followed by a
vernacular commentary. These books are published by subscription, and
the list of subscribers among the natives of India is very

There are other journals, which are chiefly written in the spoken
dialects, such as Bengali, Marathi, or Hindi; but they contain occasional
articles in Sanskrit, as, for instance, the Hari_sk_andra_k_andrikâ,
published at Benares, the _Tattvabodhinî_, published at Calcutta, and
several more.

It was only the other day that I saw in the _Liberal_, the journal of
Keshub Chunder Sen's party,[92] an account of a meeting between
Brahmavrata Samadhyayi, a Vedic scholar of Nuddea, and Kashinath
Trimbak Telang, a M.A. of the University of Bombay. The one came from
the east, the other from the west, yet both could converse fluently in

Still more extraordinary is the number of Sanskrit texts, issuing from
native presses, for which there seems to be a large demand, for if we
write for copies to be sent to England, we often find that, after a
year or two, all the copies have been bought up in India itself. That
would not be the case with Anglo-Saxon texts in England, or with Latin
texts in Italy!

But more than this, we are told that the ancient epic poems of the
Mahâbhârata and Râmâya_n_a are still recited in the temples for the
benefit of visitors, and that in the villages large crowds assemble
around the Kâthaka, the reader of these ancient Sanskrit poems, often
interrupting his recitations with tears and sighs, when the hero of
the poem is sent into banishment, while when he returns to his
kingdom, the houses of the village are adorned with lamps and
garlands. Such a recitation of the whole of the Mahâbhârata is said to
occupy ninety days, or sometimes half a year.[94] The people at large
require, no doubt, that the Brahman narrator (Kâthaka) should
interpret the old poem, but there must be some few people present who
understand, or imagine they understand, the old poetry of Vyâsa and

There are thousands of Brahmans[95] even now, when so little
inducement exists for Vedic studies, who know the whole of the
Rig-Veda by heart and can repeat it; and what applies to the Rig-Veda
applies to many other books.

But even if Sanskrit were more of a dead language than it really is,
all the living languages of India, both Aryan and Dravidian, draw
their very life and soul from Sanskrit.[96] On this point, and on the
great help that even a limited knowledge of Sanskrit would render in
the acquisition of the vernaculars, I, and others better qualified
than I am, have spoken so often, though without any practical effect,
that I need not speak again. Any candidate who knows but the elements
of Sanskrit grammar will well understand what I mean, whether his
special vernacular may be Bengali, Hindustani, or even Tamil. To a
classical scholar I can only say that between a civil servant who
knows Sanskrit and Hindustani, and another who knows Hindustani only,
there is about the same difference in their power of forming an
intelligent appreciation of India and its inhabitants, as there is
between a traveller who visits Italy with a knowledge of Latin, and a
party personally conducted to Rome by Messrs. Cook & Co.

Let us examine, however, the objection that Sanskrit literature is a
dead or an artificial literature, a little more carefully, in order to
see whether there is not some kind of truth in it. Some people hold
that the literary works which we possess in Sanskrit never had any
real life at all, that they were altogether scholastic productions,
and that therefore they can teach us nothing of what we really care
for, namely, the historical growth of the Hindu mind. Others maintain
that at the present moment, at all events, and after a century of
English rule, Sanskrit literature has ceased to be a motive power in
India, and that it can teach us nothing of what is passing now through
the Hindu mind and influencing it for good or for evil.

Let us look at the facts. Sanskrit literature is a wide and a vague
term. If the Vedas, such as we now have them, were composed about 1500
B.C., and if it is a fact that considerable works continue to be
written in Sanskrit even now, we have before us a stream of literary
activity extending over three thousand four hundred years. With the
exception of China there is nothing like this in the whole world.

It is difficult to give an idea of the enormous extent and variety of
that literature. We are only gradually becoming acquainted with the
untold treasures which still exist in manuscripts, and with the titles
of that still larger number of works which must have existed formerly,
some of them being still quoted by writers of the last three or four

The Indian Government has of late years ordered a kind of
bibliographical survey of India to be made, and has sent some learned
Sanskrit scholars, both European and native, to places where
collections of Sanskrit MSS. are known to exist, in order to examine
and catalogue them. Some of these catalogues have been published, and
we learn from them that the number of separate works in Sanskrit, of
which mss. are still in existence, amounts to about 10,000.[98] This
is more, I believe, than the whole classical literature of Greece and
Italy put together. Much of it, no doubt, will be called mere rubbish;
but then you know that even in our days the writings of a very eminent
philosopher have been called "mere rubbish." What I wish you to see is
this, that there runs through the whole history of India, through its
three or four thousand years, a high road, or, it is perhaps more
accurate to say, a high mountain-path of literature. It may be remote
from the turmoil of the plain, hardly visible perhaps to the millions
of human beings in their daily struggle of life. It may have been
trodden by a few solitary wanderers only. But to the historian of the
human race, to the student of the development of the human mind, those
few solitary wanderers are after all the true representatives of India
from age to age. Do not let us be deceived. The true history of the
world must always be the history of the few; and as we measure the
Himâlaya by the height of Mount Everest, we must take the true measure
of India from the poets of the Veda, the sages of the Upanishads, the
founders of the Vedânta and Sânkhya philosophies, and the authors of
the oldest law-books, and not from the millions who are born and die
in their villages, and who have never for one moment been roused out
of their drowsy dream of life.

To large multitudes in India, no doubt, Sanskrit literature was not
merely a dead literature, it was simply non-existent; but the same
might be said of almost every literature, and more particularly of the
literatures of the ancient world.

Still, even beyond this, I am quite prepared to acknowledge to a
certain extent the truth of the statement, that a great portion of
Sanskrit literature has never been living and national, in the same
sense in which the Greek and Roman literatures reflected at times the
life of a whole nation; and it is quite true besides, that the
Sanskrit books which are best known to the public at large, belong to
what might correctly be called the Renaissance period of Indian
literature, when those who wrote Sanskrit had themselves to learn the
language, as we learn Latin, and were conscious that they were writing
for a learned and cultivated public only, and not for the people at

This will require a fuller explanation.

We may divide the whole of Sanskrit literature, beginning with the
Rig-Veda and ending with Dayânanda's Introduction to his edition of
the Rig-Veda, his by no means uninteresting Rig-Veda-bhûmikâ, into two
great periods: that preceding the great Turanian invasion, and that
following it.

The former comprises the Vedic literature and the ancient literature
of Buddhism, the latter all the rest.

If I call the invasion which is generally called the invasion of the
_S_akas, or the Scythians, or Indo-Scythians, or Turushkas, the
_Turanian[99] invasion_, it is simply because I do not as yet wish to
commit myself more than I can help as to the nationality of the tribes
who took possession of India, or, at least, of the government of
India, from about the first century B.C. to the third century A.D.

They are best known by the name of _Yueh-chi_, this being the name by
which they are called in Chinese chronicles. These Chinese chronicles
form the principal source from which we derive our knowledge of these
tribes, both before and after their invasion of India. Many theories
have been started as to their relationship with other races. They are
described as of pink and white complexion and as shooting from
horseback; and as there was some similarity between their Chinese name
_Yueh-chi_ and the _Gothi_ or _Goths_, they were identified by
Remusat[100] with those German tribes, and by others with the _Getae_,
the neighbors of the Goths. Tod went even a step farther, and traced
the _G_âts in India and the Rajputs back to the _Yueh-chi_ and
_Getæ_.[101] Some light may come in time out of all this darkness, but
for the present we must be satisfied with the fact that, between the
first century before and the third century after our era, the greatest
political revolution took place in India owing to the repeated inroads
of Turanian, or, to use a still less objectionable term, of Northern
tribes. Their presence in India, recorded by Chinese historians, is
fully confirmed by coins, by inscriptions, and by the traditional
history of the country, such as it is; but to my mind nothing attests
the presence of these foreign invaders more clearly than the break,
or, I could almost say, the blank in the Brahmanical literature of
India from the first century before to the third century after our

If we consider the political and social state of that country, we can
easily understand what would happen in a case of invasion and conquest
by a warlike race. The invaders would take possession of the
strongholds or castles, and either remove the old Rajahs, or make them
their vassals and agents. Everything else would then go on exactly as
before. The rents would be paid, the taxes collected, and the life of
the villagers, that is, of the great majority of the people of India,
would go on almost undisturbed by the change of government. The only
people who might suffer would be, or, at all events, might be the
priestly caste, unless they should come to terms with the new
conquerors. The priestly caste, however, was also to a great extent
the literary caste, and the absence of their old patrons, the native
Rajahs, might well produce for a time a complete cessation of literary
activity. The rise of Buddhism and its formal adoption by King Asoka
had already considerably shaken the power and influence of the old
Brahmanic hierarchy. The Northern conquerors, whatever their religion
may have been, were certainly not believers in the Veda. They seem to
have made a kind of compromise with Buddhism, and it is probably due
to that compromise, or to an amalgamation of _S_aka legends with
Buddhist doctrines, that we owe the so-called Mahâyâna form of
Buddhism--and more particularly the Amitâbha worship--which was
finally settled at the Council under Kanishka, one of the Turanian
rulers of India in the first century A.D.

If then we divide the whole of Sanskrit literature into these two
periods, the one anterior to the great Turanian invasion, the other
posterior to it, we may call the literature of the former period
_ancient_ and _natural_, that of the latter _modern_ and _artificial_.

Of the former period we possess, _first_, what has been called the
_Veda_, _i.e._, Knowledge, in the widest sense of the word--a
considerable mass of literature, yet evidently a wreck only, saved out
of a general deluge; _secondly_, the works collected in the Buddhist
Tripi_t_aka, now known to us chiefly in what is called the Pâli
dialect, the Gâthâ dialects, and Sanskrit, and probably much added to
in later times.

The second period of Sanskrit literature comprehends everything else.
Both periods may be subdivided again, but this does not concern us at

Now I am quite willing to admit that the literature of the second
period, the modern Sanskrit literature, never was a living or national
literature. It here and there contains remnants of earlier times,
adapted to the literary, religious, and moral tastes of a later
period; and whenever we are able to disentangle those ancient
elements, they may serve to throw light on the past, and, to a certain
extent, supplement what has been lost in the literature of the Vedic
times. The metrical Law-books, for instance, contain old materials
which existed during the Vedic period, partly in prose, as Sûtras,
partly in more ancient metres, as Gâthâs. The Epic poems, the
Mahâbhârata and Râmâya_n_a, have taken the place of the old Itihâsas
and Âkhyânas. The Purâ_n_as, even, may contain materials, though much
altered, of what was called in Vedic literature the Purâ_n_a.[103]

But the great mass of that later literature is artificial or
scholastic, full of interesting compositions, and by no means devoid
of originality and occasional beauty; yet with all that, curious only,
and appealing to the interests of the Oriental scholar far more than
the broad human sympathies of the historian and the philosopher.

It is different with the ancient literature of India, the literature
dominated by the Vedic and the Buddhistic religions. That literature
opens to us a chapter in what has been called the Education of the
Human Race, to which we can find no parallel anywhere else. Whoever
cares for the historical growth of our language, that is, of our
thoughts; whoever cares for the first intelligible development of
religion and mythology; whoever cares for the first foundation of what
in later times we call the sciences of astronomy, metronomy, grammar,
and etymology; whoever cares for the first intimations of
philosophical thought, for the first attempts at regulating family
life, village life, and state life, as founded on religion,
ceremonial, tradition and contract (samaya)--must in future pay the
same attention to the literature of the Vedic period as to the
literatures of Greece and Rome and Germany.

As to the lessons which the early literature of Buddhism may teach us,
I need not dwell on them at present. If I may judge from the numerous
questions that are addressed to me with regard to that religion and
its striking coincidences with Christianity, Buddhism has already
become a subject of general interest, and will and ought to become so
more and more.[104] On that whole class of literature, however, it is
not my intention to dwell in this short course of Lectures, which can
hardly suffice even for a general survey of Vedic literature, and for
an elucidation of the principal lessons which, I think, we may learn
from the Hymns, the Brâhma_n_as, the Upanishads, and the Sûtras.

It was a real misfortune that Sanskrit literature became first known
to the learned public in Europe through specimens belonging to the
second, or, what I called, the Renaissance period. The Bhagavadgîtâ,
the plays of Kâlidâsa, such as _S_akuntalâ or Urva_s_î, a few episodes
from the Mahâbhârata and Râmâya_n_a, such as those of Nala and the
Ya_gñ_adattabadha, the fables of the Hitopadesa, and the sentences of
Bhart_ri_hari are, no doubt, extremely curious; and as, at the time
when they first became known in Europe, they were represented to be of
extreme antiquity, and the work of a people formerly supposed to be
quite incapable of high literary efforts, they naturally attracted the
attention of men such as Sir William Jones in England, Herder and
Goethe in Germany, who were pleased to speak of them in terms of
highest admiration. It was the fashion at that time to speak of
Kâlidâsa, as, for instance, Alexander von Humboldt did even in so
recent a work as his Kosmos, as "the great contemporary of Virgil and
Horace, who lived at the splendid court of Vikramâditya," this
Vikramâditya being supposed to be the founder of the Samvat era, 56
B.C. But all this is now changed. Whoever the Vikramâditya was who is
supposed to have defeated the _S_akas, and to have founded another
era, the Samvat era, 56 B.C., he certainly did not live in the first
century B.C. Nor are the Indians looked upon any longer as an
illiterate race, and their poetry as popular and artless. On the
contrary, they are judged now by the same standards as Persians and
Arabs, Italians or French; and, measured by that standard, such works
as Kâlidâsa's plays are not superior to many plays that have long been
allowed to rest in dust and peace on the shelves of our libraries.
Their antiquity is no longer believed in by any critical Sanskrit
scholar. Kâlidâsa is mentioned with Bhâravi as a famous poet in an
inscription[105] dated A.D. 585-6 (507 _S_aka era), and for the
present I see no reason to place him much earlier. As to the Laws of
Manu, which used to be assigned to a fabulous antiquity,[106] and are
so still sometimes by those who write at random or at second-hand, I
doubt whether, in their present form, they can be older than the
fourth century of our era, nay I am quite prepared to see an even
later date assigned to them. I know this will seem heresy to many
Sanskrit scholars, but we must try to be honest to ourselves. Is there
any evidence to constrain us to assign the Mânava-dharma-_s_âstra,
such as we now possess it, written in continuous _S_lokas, to any date
anterior to 300 A.D.? And if there is not, why should we not openly
state it, challenge opposition, and feel grateful if our doubts can be

That Manu was a name of high legal authority before that time, and
that Manu and the Mânavam are frequently quoted in the ancient legal
Sûtras, is quite true; but this serves only to confirm the conviction
that the literature which succeeded the Turanian invasion is full of
wrecks saved from the intervening deluge. If what we call the _Laws of
Manu_ had really existed as a code of laws, like the Code of
Justinian, during previous centuries, is it likely that it should
nowhere have been quoted and appealed to?

Varâhamihira (who died 587 A.D.) refers to Manu several times, but not
to a Mânava-dharma-_s_âstra; and the only time where he seems actually
to quote a number of verses from Manu, these verses are not to be met
with in our text.[107]

I believe it will be found that the century in which Varâhamihara
lived and wrote was the age of the literary Renaissance in India.[108]
That Kâlidâsa and Bhâravi were famous at that time, we know from the
evidence of inscriptions. We also know that during that century the
fame of Indian literature had reached Persia, and that the King of
Persia, Khosru Nushirvan, sent his physician, Barzôî, to India, in
order to translate the fables of the Pa_ñk_atantra, or rather their
original, from Sanskrit into Pahlavi. The famous "Nine Gems," or
"the nine classics," as we should say, have been referred, at least in
part, to the same age,[109] and I doubt whether we shall be able to
assign a much earlier date to anything we possess of Sanskrit
literature, excepting always the Vedic and Buddhistic writings.

Although the specimens of this modern Sanskrit literature, when they
first became known, served to arouse a general interest, and serve
even now to keep alive a certain superficial sympathy for Indian
literature, more serious students had soon disposed of these
compositions, and while gladly admitting their claim to be called
pretty and attractive, could not think of allowing to Sanskrit
literature a place among the world-literatures, a place by the side of
Greek and Latin, Italian, French, English, or German.

There was indeed a time when people began to imagine that all that was
worth knowing about Indian literature was known, and that the only
ground on which Sanskrit could claim a place among the recognized
branches of learning in a university was its usefulness for the study
of the Science of Language.

At that very time, however, now about forty years ago, a new start was
made, which has given to Sanskrit scholarship an entirely new
character. The chief author of that movement was Burnouf, then
professor at the _Collège de France_ in Paris, an excellent scholar,
but at the same time a man of wide views and true historical
instincts, and the last man to waste his life on mere Nalas and
_S_akuntalâs. Being brought up in the old traditions of the classical
school in France (his father was the author of the well-known Greek
Grammar), then for a time a promising young barrister, with
influential friends such as Guizot, Thiers, Mignet, Villemain, at his
side, and with a brilliant future before him, he was not likely to
spend his life on pretty Sanskrit ditties. What he wanted when he
threw himself on Sanskrit was history, human history, world-history,
and with an unerring grasp he laid hold of Vedic literature and
Buddhist literature, as the two stepping-stones in the slough of
Indian literature. He died young, and has left a few arches only of
the building he wished to rear. But his spirit lived on in his pupils
and his friends, and few would deny that the first impulse, directly
or indirectly, to all that has been accomplished since by the students
of Vedic and Buddhist literature, was given by Burnouf and his
lectures at the _Collège de France_.

What then, you may ask, do we find in that ancient Sanskrit literature
and cannot find anywhere else? My answer is: We find there the Aryan
man, whom we know in his various characters, as Greek, Roman, German,
Celt, and Slave, in an entirely new character. Whereas in his
migrations northward his active and political energies are called out
and brought to their highest perfection, we find the other side of the
human character, the passive and meditative, carried to its fullest
growth in India. In some of the hymns of the Rig-Veda we can still
watch an earlier phase. We see the Aryan tribes taking possession of
the land, and under the guidance of such warlike gods as Indra and the
Maruts, defending their new homes against the assaults of the
black-skinned aborigines as well as against the inroads of later Aryan
colonists. But that period of war soon came to an end, and when the
great mass of the people had once settled down in their homesteads,
the military and political duties seem to have been monopolized by
what we call a _caste_,[110] that is by a small aristocracy, while the
great majority of the people were satisfied with spending their days
within the narrow spheres of their villages, little concerned about
the outside world, and content with the gifts that nature bestowed on
them, without much labor. We read in the Mahâbhârata (XIII. 22):

    "There is fruit on the trees in every forest, which every one
    who likes may pluck without trouble. There is cool and sweet
    water in the pure rivers here and there. There is a soft bed
    made of the twigs of beautiful creepers. And yet wretched
    people suffer pain at the door of the rich!"

At first sight we may feel inclined to call this quiet enjoyment of
life, this mere looking on, a degeneracy rather than a growth. It
seems so different from what _we_ think life ought to be. Yet, from a
higher point of view it may appear that those Southern Aryans have
chosen the good part, or at least the part good for them, while we,
Northern Aryans, have been careful and troubled about many things.

It is at all events a problem worth considering whether, as there is
in nature a South and a North, there are not two hemispheres also in
human nature, both worth developing--the active, combative, and
political on one side, the passive, meditative, and philosophical on
the other; and for the solution of that problem no literature
furnishes such ample materials as that of the Veda, beginning with the
Hymns and ending with the Upanishads. We enter into a new world--not
always an attractive one, least of all to us; but it possesses one
charm, it is real, it is of natural growth, and like everything of
natural growth, I believe it had a hidden purpose, and was intended to
teach us some kind of lesson that is worth learning, and that
certainly we could learn nowhere else. We are not called upon either
to admire or to despise that ancient Vedic literature; we have simply
to study and to try to understand it.

There have been silly persons who have represented the development of
the Indian mind as superior to any other, nay, who would make us go
back to the Veda or to the sacred writings of the Buddhists in order
to find there a truer religion, a purer morality, and a more sublime
philosophy than our own. I shall not even mention the names of these
writers or the titles of their works. But I feel equally impatient
when I see other scholars criticising the ancient literature of India
as if it were the work of the nineteenth century, as if it represented
an enemy that must be defeated, and that can claim no mercy at our
hands. That the Veda is full of childish, silly, even to our minds
monstrous conceptions, who would deny? But even these monstrosities
are interesting and instructive; nay, many of them, if we can but make
allowance for different ways of thought and language, contain germs of
truth and rays of light, all the more striking because breaking upon
us through the veil of the darkest night.

Here lies the general, the truly human interest which the _ancient_
literature of India possesses, and which gives it a claim on the
attention, not only of Oriental scholars or of students of ancient
history, but of every educated man and woman.

There are problems which we may put aside for a time, ay, which we
must put aside while engaged each in our own hard struggle for life,
but which will recur for all that, and which, whenever they do recur,
will stir us more deeply than we like to confess to others, or even to
ourselves. It is true that with us one day only out of seven is set
apart for rest and meditation, and for the consideration of what the
Greeks called τὰ μἑγιστα--"the greatest things."
It is true that that seventh day also is passed by many of us either
in mere church-going routine or in thoughtless rest. But whether on
week-days or on Sundays, whether in youth or in old age, there are
moments, rare though they be, yet for all that the most critical
moments of our life, when the old simple questions of humanity return
to us in all their intensity, and we ask ourselves, What are we? What
is this life on earth meant for? Are we to have no rest here, but to
be always toiling and building up our own happiness out of the ruins
of the happiness of our neighbors? And when we have made our home on
earth as comfortable as it can be made with steam and gas and
electricity, are we really so much happier than the Hindu in his
primitive homestead?

With us, as I said just now, in these Northern climates, where life is
and always must be a struggle, and a hard struggle too, and where
accumulation of wealth has become almost a necessity to guard against
the uncertainties of old age or the accidents inevitable in our
complicated social life--with us, I say, and in our society, hours of
rest and meditation are but few and far between. It was the same as
long as we know the history of the Teutonic races; it was the same
even with Romans and Greeks. The European climate, with its long cold
winters, in many places also the difficulty of cultivating the soil,
the conflict of interests between small communities, has developed the
instinct of self-preservation (not to say self-indulgence) to such an
extent that most of the virtues and most of the vices of European
society can be traced back to that source. Our own character was
formed under these influences, by inheritance, by education, by
necessity. We all lead a fighting-life; our highest ideal of life is a
fighting-life. We work till we can work no longer, and are proud, like
old horses, to die in harness. We point with inward satisfaction to
what we and our ancestors have achieved by hard work, in founding a
family or a business, a town or a state. We point to the marvels of
what we call civilization--our splendid cities, our high-roads and
bridges, our ships, our railways, our telegraphs, our electric light,
our pictures, our statues, our music, our theatres. We imagine we have
made life on earth quite perfect--in some cases so perfect that we are
almost sorry to leave it again. But the lesson which both Brahmans and
Buddhists are never tired of teaching is that this life is but a
journey from one village to another, and not a resting-place. Thus we

    "As a man journeying to another village may enjoy a night's
    rest in the open air, but, after leaving his resting-place,
    proceeds again on his journey the next day, thus father,
    mother, wife, and wealth are all but like a night's rest to
    us--wise people do not cling to them forever."

Instead of simply despising this Indian view of life, might we not
pause for a moment and consider whether their philosophy of life is
entirely wrong, and ours entirely right; whether this earth was really
meant for work only (for with us pleasure also has been changed into
work), for constant hurry and flurry; or whether we, sturdy Northern
Aryans, might not have been satisfied with a little less of work, and
a little less of so-called pleasure, but with a little more of thought
and a little more of rest. For, short as our life is, we are not mere
may-flies, that are born in the morning to die at night. We have a
past to look back to and a future to look forward to, and it may be
that some of the riddles of the future find their solution in the
wisdom of the past.

Then why should we always fix our eyes on the present only? Why should
we always be racing, whether for wealth or for power or for fame? Why
should we never rest and be thankful?

I do not deny that the manly vigor, the silent endurance, the public
spirit, and the private virtues too, of the citizens of European
states represent one side, it may be a very important side, of the
destiny which man has to fulfil on earth.

But there is surely another side of our nature, and possibly another
destiny open to man in his journey across this life, which should not
be entirely ignored. If we turn our eyes to the East, and particularly
to India, where life is, or at all events was, no very severe
struggle, where the climate was mild, the soil fertile, where
vegetable food in small quantities sufficed to keep the body in health
and strength, where the simplest hut or cave in a forest was all the
shelter required, and where social life never assumed the gigantic, ay
monstrous proportions of a London or Paris, but fulfilled itself
within the narrow boundaries of village-communities--was it not, I
say, natural there, or, if you like, was it not _intended_ there, that
another side of human nature should be developed--not the active, the
combative, and acquisitive, but the passive, the meditative, and
reflective? Can we wonder that the Aryans, who stepped as strangers
into some of the happy fields and valleys along the Indus or the
Ganges, should have looked upon life as a perpetual Sunday or holiday,
or a kind of long vacation, delightful so long as it lasts, but which
must come to an end sooner or later? Why should they have accumulated
wealth? why should they have built palaces? why should they have
toiled day and night? After having provided from day to day for the
small necessities of the body, they thought they had the right, it may
be the duty, to look round upon this strange exile, to look inward
upon themselves, upward to something not themselves, and to see
whether they could not understand a little of the true purport of that
mystery which we call life on earth.

Of course _we_ should call such notions of life dreamy, unreal,
unpractical, but may not _they_ look upon our notions of life as
short-sighted, fussy, and, in the end, most unpractical, because
involving a sacrifice of life for the sake of life?

No doubt these are both extreme views, and they have hardly ever been held
or realized in that extreme form by any nation, whether in the East or in
the West. We are not always plodding--we sometimes allow ourselves an hour
of rest and peace and thought--nor were the ancient people of India always
dreaming and meditating on τὰ μἑγιστα, on the great problems of life, but,
when called upon, we know that they too could fight like heroes, and that,
without machinery, they could by patient toil raise even the meanest
handiwork into a work of art, a real joy to the maker and to the buyer.

All then that I wish to put clearly before you is this, that the Aryan
man, who had to fulfil his mission in India, might naturally be
deficient in many of the practical and fighting virtues, which were
developed in the Northern Aryans by the very struggle without which
they could not have survived, but that his life on earth had not
therefore been entirely wasted. His very view of life, though we
cannot adopt it in this Northern climate, may yet act as a lesson and
a warning to us, not, for the sake of life, to sacrifice the highest
objects of life.

The greatest conqueror of antiquity stood in silent wonderment before
the Indian Gymnosophists, regretting that he could not communicate
with them in their own language, and that their wisdom could not reach
him except through the contaminating channels of sundry interpreters.

That need not be so at present. Sanskrit is no longer a difficult
language, and I can assure every young Indian civil servant that if he
will but go to the fountain-head of Indian wisdom, he will find there,
among much that is strange and useless, some lessons of life which are
worth learning, and which we in our haste are too apt to forget or to

Let me read you a few sayings only, which you may still hear repeated
in India when, after the heat of the day, the old and the young
assemble together under the shadow of their village tree--sayings
which to them seem truth; to us, I fear, mere truism!

    "As all have to sleep together laid low in the earth, why do
    foolish people wish to injure one another?[112]

    "A man seeking for eternal happiness (moksha) might obtain it
    by a hundredth part of the sufferings which a foolish man
    endures in the pursuit of riches.[113]

    "Poor men eat more excellent bread than the rich: for hunger
    gives it sweetness.[114]

    "Our body is like the foam of the sea, our life like a bird,
    our company with those whom we love does not last forever;
    why then sleepest thou, my son?[115]

    "As two logs of wood meet upon the ocean and then separate
    again, thus do living creatures meet.[116]

    "Our meeting with wives, relations, and friends occurs on our
    journey. Let a man therefore see clearly where he is, whither
    he will go, what he is, why tarrying here, and why grieving
    for anything.[117]

    "Family, wife, children, our very body and our wealth, they
    all pass away. They do not belong to us. What then is ours?
    Our good and our evil deeds.[118]

    "When thou goest away from here, no one will follow thee.
    Only thy good and thy evil deeds, they will follow thee
    wherever thou goest.[119]

    "Whatever act, good or bad, a man performs, of that by
    necessity he receives the recompense.[120]

    "According to the Veda[121] the soul (life) is eternal, but
    the body of all creatures is perishable. When the body is
    destroyed, the soul departs elsewhere, fettered by the bonds
    of our works.

    "If I know that my own body is not mine, and yet that the
    whole earth is mine, and again that it is both mine and
    thine, no harm can happen then.[122]

    "As a man puts on new garments in this world, throwing aside
    those which he formerly wore, even so the Self[123] of man
    puts on new bodies which are in accordance with his

    "No weapons will hurt the Self of man, no fire will burn it,
    no water moisten it, no wind will dry it up.

    "It is not to be hurt, not to be burnt, not to be moistened,
    not to be dried up. It is imperishable, unchanging,
    immovable, without beginning.

    "It is said to be immaterial, passing all understanding, and
    unchangeable. If you know the Self of man to be all this,
    grieve not.

    "There is nothing higher than the attainment of the knowledge
    of the Self.[125]

    "All living creatures are the dwelling of the Self who lies
    enveloped in matter, who is immortal, and spotless. Those who
    worship the Self, the immovable, living in a movable
    dwelling, become immortal.

    "Despising everything else, a wise man should strive after
    the knowledge of the Self."

We shall have to return to this subject again, for this knowledge of
the Self is really the _Vedânta_, that is, the end, the highest goal
of the Veda. The highest wisdom of Greece was "to know ourselves;" the
highest wisdom of India is "to know our Self."

If I were asked to indicate by one word the distinguishing feature of
the Indian character, as I have here tried to sketch it, I should say
it was _transcendent_, using that word, not in its strict technical
sense, as fixed by Kant, but in its more general acceptation, as
denoting a mind bent on transcending the limits of empirical
knowledge. There are minds perfectly satisfied with empirical
knowledge, a knowledge of facts, well ascertained, well classified,
and well labelled. Such knowledge may assume very vast proportions,
and, if knowledge is power, it may impart great power, real
intellectual power to the man who can wield and utilize it. Our own
age is proud of that kind of knowledge, and to be content with it, and
never to attempt to look beyond it, is, I believe, one of the happiest
states of mind to be in.[126]

But, for all that, there is a Beyond, and he who has once caught a
glance of it, is like a man who has gazed at the sun--wherever he
looks, everywhere he sees the image of the sun. Speak to him of finite
things, and he will tell you that the Finite is impossible and
meaningless without the Infinite. Speak to him of death, and he will
call it birth; speak to him of time, and he will call it the mere
shadow of eternity. To us the senses seem to be the organs, the tools,
the most powerful engines of knowledge; to him they are, if not
actually deceivers, at all events heavy fetters, checking the flight
of the spirit. To us this earth, this life, all that we see, and hear,
and touch is certain. Here, we feel, is our home, here lie our duties,
here our pleasures. To him this earth is a thing that once was not,
and that again will cease to be; this life is a short dream from which
we shall soon awake. Of nothing he professes greater ignorance than of
what to others seems to be most certain, namely what we see, and hear,
and touch; and as to our home, wherever that may be, he knows that
certainly it is not here.

Do not suppose that such men are mere dreamers. Far from it! And if we
can only bring ourselves to be quite honest to ourselves, we shall
have to confess that at times we all have been visited by these
transcendental aspirations, and have been able to understand what
Wordsworth meant when he spoke of those

              "Obstinate questionings
    Of sense and outward things,
    Fallings from us, vanishings;
    Blank misgivings of a creature
    Moving about in worlds not realized."

The transcendent temperament acquired no doubt a more complete
supremacy in the Indian character than anywhere else; but no nation,
and no individual, is entirely without that "yearning beyond;" indeed
we all know it under a more familiar name--namely, _Religion_.

It is necessary, however, to distinguish between religion and _a_
religion, quite as much as in another branch of philosophy we have to
distinguish between language and _a_ language or many languages. A man
may accept _a_ religion, he may be converted to the Christian
religion, and he may change his own particular religion from time to
time, just as he may speak different languages. But in order to have
_a_ religion, a man must have religion. He must once _at least_ in his
life have looked beyond the horizon of this world, and carried away in
his mind an impression of the Infinite, which will never leave him
again. A being satisfied with the world of sense, unconscious of its
finite nature, undisturbed by the limited or negative character of all
perceptions of the senses, would be incapable of any religious
concepts. Only when the finite character of all human knowledge has
been received is it possible for the human mind to conceive that which
is beyond the Finite, call it what you like, the Beyond, the Unseen,
the Infinite, the Supernatural, or the Divine. That step must have
been taken before religion of any kind becomes possible. What kind of
religion it will be, depends on the character of the race which
elaborates it, its surroundings in nature, and its experience in

Now we may seem to know a great many religions--I speak here, of
course, of ancient religions only, of what are sometimes called
national or autochthonous religions--not of those founded in later
times by individual prophets or reformers.

Yet, among those ancient religions we seldom know, what after all is
the most important point, their origin and their gradual growth. The
Jewish religion is represented to us as perfect and complete from the
very first, and it is with great difficulty that we can discover its
real beginnings and its historical growth. And take the Greek and the
Roman religions, take the religions of the Teutonic, Slavonic, or
Celtic tribes, and you will find that their period of growth has
always passed, long before we know them, and that from the time we
know them, all their changes are purely _metamorphic_--changes in form
of substances ready at hand. Now let us look to the ancient
inhabitants of India. With them, first of all, religion was not only
_one_ interest by the side of many. It was the all-absorbing interest;
it embraced not only worship and prayer, but what we call philosophy,
morality, law, and government--all was pervaded by religion. Their
whole life was to them a religion--everything else was, as it were, a
mere concession made to the ephemeral requirements of this life.

What then can we learn from the ancient religious literature of India,
or from the Veda?

It requires no very profound knowledge of Greek religion and Greek
language to discover in the Greek deities the original outlines of
certain physical phenomena. Every schoolboy knows that in _Zeus_ there
is something of the sky, in _Poseidon_ of the sea, in _Hades_ of the
lower world, in _Apollo_ of the sun, in _Artemis_ of the moon, in
_Hephæstos_ of the fire. But for all that, there is, from a Greek
point of view, a very considerable difference between _Zeus_ and the
sky, between _Poseidon_ and the sea, between _Apollo_ and the sun,
between _Artemis_ and the moon.

Now what do we find in the Veda? No doubt here and there a few
philosophical hymns which have been quoted so often that people have
begun to imagine that the Veda is a kind of collection of Orphic
hymns. We also find some purely mythological hymns, in which the Devas
or gods have assumed nearly as much dramatic personality as in the
Homeric hymns.

But the great majority of Vedic hymns consists in simple invocations
of the fire, the water, the sky, the sun, and the storms, often under
the same names which afterward became the proper names of Hindu
deities, but as yet nearly free from all that can be called irrational
or mythological. There is nothing irrational, nothing I mean we cannot
enter into or sympathize with, in people imploring the storms to
cease, or the sky to rain, or the sun to shine. I say there is nothing
irrational in it, though perhaps it might be more accurate to say
that there is nothing in it that would surprise anybody who is
acquainted with the growth of human reason, or at all events, of
childish reason. It does not matter how we call the tendency of the
childish mind to confound the manifestation with that which manifests
itself, effect with cause, act with agent. Call it Animism,
Personification, Metaphor, or Poetry, we all know what is meant by it,
in the most general sense of all these names; we all know that it
exists, and the youngest child who beats the chair against which he
has fallen, or who scolds his dog, or who sings: "Rain, rain, go to
Spain," can teach us that, however irrational all this may seem to us,
it is perfectly rational, natural, ay inevitable in the first periods,
or the childish age of the human mind.

Now it is exactly this period in the growth of ancient religion, which
was always presupposed or postulated, but was absent everywhere else,
that is clearly put before us in the hymns of the Rig-Veda. It is this
ancient chapter in the history of the human mind which has been
preserved to us in Indian literature, while we look for it in vain in
Greece or Rome or elsewhere.

It has been a favorite idea of those who call themselves "students of
man," or anthropologists, that in order to know the earliest or
so-called prehistoric phases in the growth of man, we should study the
life of savage nations, as we may watch it still in some parts of
Asia, Africa, Polynesia, and America.

There is much truth in this, and nothing can be more useful than the
observations which we find collected in the works of such students as
Waitz, Tylor, Lubbock, and many others. But let us be honest, and
confess, first of all, that the materials on which we have here to
depend are often extremely untrustworthy.

Nor is this all. What do we know of savage tribes beyond the last
chapter of their history? Do we ever get an insight into their
antecedents? Can we understand, what after all is everywhere the most
important and the most instructive lesson to learn, how they have come
to be what they are? There is indeed their language, and in it we see
traces of growth that point to distant ages, quite as much as the
Greek of Homer or the Sanskrit of the Vedas. Their language proves
indeed that these so-called heathens, with their complicated systems
of mythology, their artificial customs, their unintelligible whims and
savageries, are not the creatures of to-day or yesterday. Unless we
admit a special creation for these savages, they must be as old as the
Hindus, the Greeks and Romans, as old as we ourselves. We may assume,
of course, if we like, that their life has been stationary, and that
they are to-day what the Hindus were no longer 3000 years ago. But
that is a mere guess, and is contradicted by the facts of their
language. They may have passed through ever so many vicissitudes, and
what we consider as primitive may be, for all we know, a relapse into
savagery, or a corruption of something that was more rational and
intelligible in former stages. Think only of the rules that determine
marriage among the lowest of savage tribes. Their complication passes
all understanding, all seems a chaos of prejudice, superstition,
pride, vanity, and stupidity. And yet we catch a glimpse here and
there that there was some reason in most of that unreason; we see how
sense dwindled away into nonsense, custom into ceremony, ceremony into
farce. Why then should this surface of savage life represent to us the
lowest stratum of human life, the very beginnings of civilization,
simply because we cannot dig beyond that surface?

Now, I do not wish to be misunderstood. I do not claim for the
ancient Indian literature any more than I should willingly concede to
the fables and traditions and songs of savage nations, such as we can
study at present in what we call a state of nature. Both are important
documents to the student of the Science of Man. I simply say that in
the Veda we have a nearer approach to a beginning, and an intelligible
beginning, than in the wild invocations of Hottentots or Bushmen. But
when I speak of a beginning, I do not mean an absolute beginning, a
beginning of all things. Again and again the question has been asked
whether we could bring ourselves to believe that man, as soon as he
could stand on his legs, instead of crawling on all fours, as he is
supposed to have done, burst forth into singing Vedic hymns? But who
has ever maintained this? Surely whoever has eyes to see can see in
every Vedic hymn, ay, in every Vedic word, as many rings within rings
as are in the oldest tree that was ever hewn down in the forest.

I shall say even more, and I have said it before, namely, that
supposing that the Vedic hymns were composed between 1500 and 1000
B.C., we can hardly understand how, at so early a date, the Indians
had developed ideas which to us sound decidedly modern. I should give
anything if I could escape from the conclusion that the collection of
the Vedic Hymns, a collection in ten books, existed at least 1000
B.C., that is, about 500 years before the rise of Buddhism. I do not
mean to say that something may not be discovered hereafter to enable
us to refer that collection to a later date. All I say is that, so far
as we know _at present_, so far as all honest Sanskrit scholars know
_at present_, we cannot well bring our pre-Buddhistic literature into
narrower limits than five hundred years.

What then is to be done? We must simply keep our preconceived notions
of what people call primitive humanity in abeyance for a time, and if
we find that people three thousand years ago were familiar with ideas
that seem novel and nineteenth-century-like to us, well, we must
somewhat modify our conceptions of the primitive savage, and remember
that things hid from the wise and prudent have sometimes been revealed
to babes.

I maintain then that for a study of man, or, if you like, for a study
of Aryan humanity, there is nothing in the world equal in importance
with the Veda. I maintain that to everybody who cares for himself, for
his ancestors, for his history, or for his intellectual development, a
study of Vedic literature is indispensable; and that, as an element of
liberal education, it is far more important and far more improving
than the reigns of Babylonian and Persian kings.

It is curious to observe the reluctance with which these facts are
accepted, particularly by those to whom they ought to be most welcome,
I mean the students of anthropology. Instead of devoting all their
energy to the study of these documents, which have come upon us like a
miracle, they seem only bent on inventing excuses why they need not be
studied. Let it not be supposed that, because there are several
translations of the Rig-Veda in English, French and German, therefore
all that the Veda can teach us has been learned. Far from it. Every
one of these translations has been put forward as tentative only. I
myself, though during the last thirty years I have given translations
of a number of the more important hymns, have only ventured to publish
a specimen of what I think a translation of the Veda ought to be; and
that translation, that _traduction raisonnée_ as I ventured to call
it, of twelve hymns only, fills a whole volume. We are still on the
mere surface of Vedic literature, and yet our critics are ready with
ever so many arguments why the Veda can teach us nothing as to a
primitive state of man. If they mean by primitive that which came
absolutely first, then they ask for something which they will never
get, not even if they discovered the private correspondence of Adam
and Eve, or of the first _Homo_ and _Femina sapiens_. We mean by
primitive the earliest state of man of which, from the nature of the
case, we can hope to gain any knowledge; and here, next to the
archives hidden away in the secret drawers of language, in the
treasury of words common to all the Aryan tribes, and in the radical
elements of which each word is compounded, there is no literary relic
more full of lessons to the true anthropologist, to the true student
of mankind, than the Rig-Veda.


[Footnote 89: See Cunningham, "Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum," vol.
i., 1877.]

[Footnote 90: _K_ulavagga V. 33, 1. The expression used is _Kh_andaso

[Footnote 91: See Rhys Davids, Buddhist Suttas, "Sacred Books of the
East," vol. xi., p. 142.]

[Footnote 92: The Brahmo-Samaj, a theistic school.--A. W.]

[Footnote 93: The _Liberal_, March 12, 1882.]

[Footnote 94: See R. G. Bhandarkar, Consideration of the date of the
Mahâbhârata, _Journal of the R. A. S. of Bombay_, 1872; Talboys
Wheeler, "History of India," ii. 365, 572; Holtzmann, "Über das alte
indische Epos," 1881, p. 1; Phear, "The Aryan Village in India and
Ceylon," p. 19. That the Mahâbhârata was publicly read in the seventh
century A.D., we learn from Bâ_n_a; see _Journal of the Royal Asiatic
Society_, Bombay, vol. x., p. 87, note.--A. W.]

[Footnote 95: "Hibbert Lectures," p. 157.]

[Footnote 96: "Every person acquainted with the spoken speech of India
knows perfectly well that its elevation to the dignity and usefulness
of written speech has depended, and must still depend, upon its
borrowing largely from its parent or kindred source; that no man who
is ignorant of Arabic or Sanskrit can write Hindustani or Bengali with
elegance, or purity, or precision, and that the condemnation of the
classical languages to oblivion would consign the dialects to utter
helplessness and irretrievable barbarism."--H. H. Wilson, _Asiatic
Journal_, Jan., 1836; vol xix., p. 15.]

[Footnote 97: It would be a most useful work for any young scholar to
draw up a list of Sanskrit books which are quoted by later writers,
but have not yet been met with in Indian libraries.]

[Footnote 98: "Hibbert Lectures," p. 133.]

[Footnote 99: This vague term, _Turanian_, so much used in the Parsi
Scriptures, is used here in the sense of unclassified ethnically.--A.

[Footnote 100: "Recherches sur les langues Tartares," 1820, vol. i.,
p. 327; "Lassen," I. A., vol. ii., p. 359.]

[Footnote 101: Lassen, who at first rejected the identification of
_G_âts and Yueh-chi, was afterward inclined to accept it.]

[Footnote 102: The Yueh-chi appear to have begun their invasion about
130 B.C. At this period the Grecian kingdom of Bactria, after a
brilliant existence of a century, had fallen before the Tochari, a
Scythian people. The new invaders, called 'Εφθαλὶται by the Greeks,
had been driven out of their old abodes and now occupied the country
lying between Parthia at the west, the Oxus and Surkhâb, and extending
into Little Thibet. They were herdsmen and nomads. At this time India
was governed by the descendants of Asoka, the great propagandist of
Buddhism. About twenty years before the Christian era, or probably
earlier, the Yueh-chi, under Karranos, crossed the Indus and conquered
the country, which remained subject to them for three centuries. The
Chinese historians Sze-ma Tsien and Han-yo, give these accounts, which
are however confirmed by numismatic and other evidence.--A. W.]

[Footnote 103: "Hibbert Lectures," p. 154, note.]

[Footnote 104: In June, 1882, a Conference on Buddhism was held at
Sion College, to discuss the real or apparent coincidences between the
religions of Buddha and Christ. Professor Müller addressed two letters
to the secretary, which were afterward published, declaring such a
discussion in general terms almost an impossibility. "The name of
Buddhism," he says, "is applied to religious opinions, not only of the
most varying, but of a decidedly opposite character, held by people on
the highest and lowest stages of civilization, divided into endless
sects, nay, founded on two distinct codes of canonical writings." Two
Buddhist priests who were reading Sanskrit with him would hardly
recognize the Buddhism now practiced in Ceylon as their own religion.

He also acknowledged the startling coincidences between Buddhism and
Christianity, and that Buddhism existed at least 400 years before
Christianity. He would go farther, and feel extremely grateful if
anybody would point out to him the historical channels through which
Buddhism had influenced early Christianity. "I have been looking for
such channels all my life," says he, "but hitherto I have found none.
What I have found is that for some of the most startling coincidences
there are historical antecedents on both sides; and if we knew these
antecedents, the coincidences become far less startling. If I do find
in certain Buddhist works doctrines identically the same as in
Christianity, so far from being frightened, I feel delighted, for
surely truth is not the less true because it is believed by the
majority of the human race.

"I believe we have made some progress during the last thirty years. I
still remember the time when all heathen religions were looked upon as
the work of the devil.(A1) We know now that they are stages in a
growth, and in a growth not determined by an accidental environment
only, but by an original purpose, a purpose to be realized in the
history of the human race as a whole. Even missionaries have begun to
approach the heathen in a new and better spirit. They look for what
may safely be preserved in the religion of their pupils, and on that
common ground they try to erect a purer faith and a better worship,
instead of attempting to destroy the sacred foundations of religion,
which, I believe, exist, or at least, existed, in every human heart."

He also states that the publishing of the "Rig-Veda and Commentary,"
his life-work, had produced a complete revolution both in our views of
ancient religions and in the religious life of the Hindus themselves;
and this not so much on the surface as in its deepest foundations.--A.

A1: We have no knowledge of such a belief. The common Christian theory
is that Christianity is as old as the garden of Eden, and that truth
in other religions is the result of contact, somewhere, at some time,
with Christianity.--AM. PUBS.]

[Footnote 105: Published by Fleet in the "Indian Antiquary," 1876, pp.
68-73, and first mentioned by Dr. Bhao Daji, Journal Asiatic Society,
Bombay Branch, vol. ix.]

[Footnote 106: Sir William Jones fixed their date at 1280 B.C.;
Elphinstone as 900 B.C. It has recently been stated that they could
not reasonably be placed later than the fifth century B.C.]

[Footnote 107: A very useful indication of the age of the
Dharma-sûtras, as compared with the metrical Dharma-_s_âstras or
Sa_m_hitâs, is to be found in the presence or absence in them of any
reference to written documents. Such written documents, if they
existed, could hardly be passed over in silence in law-books,
particularly when the nature of witnesses is discussed in support of
loans, pledges, etc. Now, we see that in treating of the law of debt
and debtors,(A1) the Dharma-sûtras of Gautama, Baudhâyana, and
Âpastamba never mention evidence in writing. Vasish_th_a only refers
to written evidence, but in a passage which may be interpolated,(A2)
considering that in other respects his treatment of the law of debt is
very crude. Manu's metrical code shows here again its usual character.
It is evidently based on ancient originals, and when it simply
reproduces them, gives us the impression of great antiquity. But it
freely admits more modern ingredients, and does so in our case. It
speaks of witnesses, fixes their minimum number at three, and
discusses very minutely their qualifications and disqualifications,
without saying a word about written documents. But in one place (VIII.
168) it speaks of the valuelessness of written agreements obtained by
force, thus recognizing the practical employment of writing for
commercial transactions. Professor Jolly,(A3) it is true, suggests
that this verse may be a later addition, particularly as it occurs
_totidem verbis_ in Nârada (IV. 55); but the final composition of
Manu's Sa_m_hitâ, such as we possess it, can hardly be referred to a
period when writing was not yet used, at all events for commercial
purposes. Manu's "Law-book" is older than Yâ_gñ_avalkya's, in which
writing has become a familiar subject. Vishnu often agrees literally
with Yâ_gñ_avalkya, while Nârada, as showing the fullest development
of the law of debt, is most likely the latest.(A4)

See Brihatsa_m_hitâ, ed. Kern, pref., p. 43; _Journal of the R. A.
S._, 1875, p. 106.

A1: "Über das Indische Schuldrecht von J. Jolly," p. 291.

A2: Jolly, l. c., p. 322.

A3: L. c., p. 290.

A4: Jolly, l. c., p. 322. He places Kâtyâyana and B_ri_haspati after
Nârada, possibly Vyâsa and Hârîta also. See also Stenzler, Z. d D. M.
G. ix. 664.]

[Footnote 108: Professor Müller rejects the theory of the Samvat era
and the Renaissance of Sanskrit literature in the first century.
Instead, he acknowledges the existence of a _S_aka era, bearing date
with the coronation of Kanishka, 78 A.D. Although this monarch was a
patron of the Buddhists, and the third collection of their sacred
books was made under his auspices, our author considers the period of
_S_aka or Yuen-chi domination from 24 B.C. till 178 A.D. as a literary
interregnum. He is not willing to suggest any date for the Mahâbhârata
or Râmâya_n_a, which appear to have been then extant. He exonerates
Indian epic poetry, however, from any imputation of Greek influence.
Not so with astronomy. Âryabha_t_a, the elder, who described the
motion of the earth very accurately, he considers to have had no
predecessors; and also cites other Indian authors who described the
twelve signs of the zodiac with Greek names or their equivalents, and
assigned each to a region in the body of the Creator, as we now see it
marked out in our almanacs. In this matter he is certainly plausible.

The period of the Renaissance and the reign and proper era of
Vikramâditya are set down at about 550 A.D. He follows Dr. Bhao Daji,
and is sustained by Mr. Fergusson, author of "Tree and Serpent
Worship," and other works on religious architecture. It was the period
of learned and literary men, as well as of active religious
controversy. "Believers in Buddha and believers in the Veda lived
together at this time," he remarks, "very much as Protestants and
Roman Catholics do at the present day--fighting when there is an
opportunity or necessity for it, but otherwise sharing the same air as
fellow-creatures." Among a crowd of others we may instance Dignâga, a
Buddhist, Kâlidâsa, a Siva worshipper, and Mânatunga, a _G_aina, as
frequenting the royal court. Vasubandhu, to whom the revival of
Buddhist literature was largely due, was the son of a Brahman and a
student of the Nyâya philosophy; as, indeed, Hiouen-thsang, the
Chinese traveller, also studied logic under a Brahma_n_a teacher.

Vikramâditya oscillated between all parties. Having quarrelled with
the King of Ka_s_mira and Manorhita, the great Buddhist teacher at the
convent near Peshawer, he called an assembly of Sâstrikas and
_S_ramanas, at which the latter were denounced. He also placed
Matrigupta (Kalidasa?) over that country. At his death, however, the
regal authority was surrendered to the legitimate king, who in his
turn reinstated _S_îlâditya, the successor of Vikrama, on the throne.
This king also called an assembly of divines, and the Buddhists were
restored to their former position. As they seem to have constituted
the principal men of learning, I am disposed to believe that they were
the actual restorers of the golden period to India. The "Nine Gems,"
Professor Müller is very confident, belong to this period. He declares
that the philosophical Sûtras have no ascertained date prior to 300

According to him, we need not refer many famous authors to a period
anterior to the fifth century. Kalidasa, from being the contemporary
of Augustus, becomes the contemporary of Justinian, and the very books
which were most admired by Sanskrit students as specimens of ancient
Indian poetry and wisdom find their rightful place in the period of
literary renaissance, coinciding with an age of renewed literary
activity in Persia, soon to be followed there, as later in India, by
the great Mohammedan conquests. It appears to me that he is altogether
too iconoclastic. It is more than probable that the apparent lateness
of date is due to the destruction of books when the Buddhists were
driven out of India. It would be as logical, it seems to me, to assign
a post-Christian date to the _Vendidad_ and _Yasna_ because they had
been lost and were collected anew under the auspices of a Sassanid
king. We are told in the second book of the Maccabees that Antiochus
Epiphanes burned the Hebrew Scriptures, and that Judas Makkabæus made
a new collection; yet nobody pretends that they ought to be assigned
to the second century B.C. In fact, we must in due sincerity give some
room to faith.

Astronomy was also studied. Âryabhatta the elder had described the
earth as making a revolution which produced the daily rising and
setting of the sun. Professor Müller thinks he had no predecessors.
Varâhamihira wrote during the reign of Vikramâditya, and employs the
Yuga in opposition to the Saka era. It is apparent, however, that the
Greek zodiac was employed. Bâdarâya_n_a describes the pictorial
representations of the Twelve Signs and their relation to the body of
Brahman or the Creator:

"The Ram is the head; the face of the Creator is the Bull; the breast
would be the Man-pair; the heart, the Crab; the Lion, the stomach; the
Maid, the hip; the Balance-bearer, the belly; the eighth (Scorpion),
the membrum; the Archer, his pair of thighs; the Makara, his pair of
knees; the Pot, his pair of legs; the Fish-pair, his two feet."
Another writer gives them in like series as the members of Kala or
Time. Other evidence seems even more conclusive; Varâhamihira giving
the actual Greek names in a Sanskrit dress.--A. W.]

[Footnote 109: Kern, Preface to "B_ri_hatsa_m_âhitâ," p. 20.]

[Footnote 110: During times of conquest and migration, such as are
represented to us in the hymns of the Rig-Veda, the system of castes,
as it is described, for instance, in the Laws of Manu, would have been
a simple impossibility. It is doubtful whether such a system was ever
more than a social ideal, but even for such an ideal the materials
would have been wanting during the period when the Aryas were first
taking possession of the land of the Seven Rivers. On the other hand,
even during that early period, there must have been a division of
labor, and hence we expect to find and do find in the grâmas of the
Five Nations, _warriors_, sometimes called nobles, leaders, kings;
_counsellors_, sometimes called priests, prophets, judges; and
_working men_, whether ploughers, or builders, or road-makers. These
three divisions we can clearly perceive even in the early hymns of the

[Footnote 111: Boehtlingk, Sprüche, 5101.]

[Footnote 112: Mahâbh. XI. 121.]

[Footnote 113: Pa_ñk_at. II. 127 (117).]

[Footnote 114: Mahâbh. V. 1144.]

[Footnote 115: L. c. XII. 12050.]

[Footnote 116: L. c. XII. 869.]

[Footnote 117: L. c. XII. 872.]

[Footnote 118: L. c. XII. 12453.]

[Footnote 119: L. c. XII. 12456.]

[Footnote 120: L. c. III. 13846 (239).]

[Footnote 121: L. c. III. 13864.]

[Footnote 122: Kâm. Nîtis, 1, 23 (Boehtlingk, 918).]

[Footnote 123: _Âtman_, see Lecture VII.--A. W.]

[Footnote 124: Vish_n_u-sûtras XX. 50-53.]

[Footnote 125: Âpastamba Dharma-sûtras I. 8, 22.]

[Footnote 126: Can a state be justly regarded as one of happiness, in
which the essential being is overlooked and not regarded; whereas that
subtler essence is the reality which gives life, energy, and purity to
all our motives? Is to be "of the earth, earthy," a greater felicity
than to acknowledge that which is from heaven? I trow not.--A. W.]



It may be quite true that controversy often does more harm than good,
that it encourages the worst of all talents, that of plausibility, not
to say dishonesty, and generally leaves the world at large worse
confounded than it was before. It has been said that no clever lawyer
would shrink from taking a brief to prove that the earth forms the
centre of the world, and, with all respect for English juries, it is
not impossible that even in our days he might gain a verdict against
Galileo. Nor do I deny that there is a power and vitality in truth
which in the end overcomes and survives all opposition, as shown by
the very doctrine of Galileo which at present is held by hundreds and
thousands who would find it extremely difficult to advance one single
argument in its support. I am ready to admit also that those who have
done the best work, and have contributed most largely toward the
advancement of knowledge and the progress of truth, have seldom wasted
their time in controversy, but have marched on straight, little
concerned either about applause on the right or abuse on the left. All
this is true, perfectly true, and yet I feel that I cannot escape from
devoting the whole of a lecture to the answering of certain objections
which have been raised against the views which I have put forward with
regard to the character and the historical importance of Vedic
literature. We must not forget that the whole subject is new, the
number of competent judges small, and mistakes not only possible, but
almost inevitable. Besides, there are mistakes and mistakes, and the
errors of able men are often instructive, nay one might say sometimes
almost indispensable for the discovery of truth. There are criticisms
which may be safely ignored, criticisms for the sake of criticism, if
not inspired by meaner motives. But there are doubts and difficulties
which suggest themselves naturally, objections which have a right to
be heard, and the very removal of which forms the best approach to the
stronghold of truth. Nowhere has this principle been so fully
recognized and been acted on as in Indian literature. Whatever subject
is started, the rule is that the argument should begin with the
pûrvapaksha, with all that can be said against a certain opinion.
Every possible objection is welcome, if only it is not altogether
frivolous and absurd, and then only follows the uttarapaksha, with all
that can be said against these objections and in support of the
original opinion. Only when this process has been fully gone through
is it allowed to represent an opinion as siddhânta, or established.

Therefore, before opening the pages of the Veda, and giving you a
description of the poetry, the religion, and philosophy of the ancient
inhabitants of India, I thought it right and necessary to establish,
first of all, certain points without which it would be impossible to
form a right appreciation of the historical value of the Vedic hymns,
and of their importance even to us who live at so great a distance
from those early poets.

The _first_ point was purely preliminary, namely that the Hindus in
ancient, and in modern times also, are a nation deserving of our
interest and sympathy, worthy also of our confidence, and by no means
guilty of the charge so recklessly brought against them--the charge
of an habitual disregard of truth.

_Secondly_, that the ancient literature of India is not to be
considered simply as a curiosity and to be handed over to the good
pleasure of Oriental scholars, but that, both by its language, the
Sanskrit, and by its most ancient literary documents, the Vedas, it
can teach us lessons which nothing else can teach, as to the origin of
our own language, the first formation of our own concepts, and the
true natural germs of all that is comprehended under the name of
civilization, at least the civilization of the Aryan race, that race
to which we and all the greatest nations of the world--the Hindus, the
Persians, the Greeks and Romans, the Slaves, the Celts, and last, not
least, the Teutons, belong. A man may be a good and useful ploughman
without being a geologist, without knowing the stratum on which he
takes his stand, or the strata beneath that give support to the soil
on which he lives and works, and from which he draws his nourishment.
And a man may be a good and useful citizen, without being an
historian, without knowing how the world in which he lives came about,
and how many phases mankind had to pass through in language, religion,
and philosophy, before it could supply him with that intellectual soil
on which he lives and works, and from which he draws his best

But there must always be an aristocracy of those who know, and who can
trace back the best which we possess, not merely to a Norman count, or
a Scandinavian viking, or a Saxon earl, but to far older ancestors and
benefactors, who thousands of years ago were toiling for us in the
sweat of their face, and without whom we should never be what we
are--the ancestors of the whole Aryan race, the first framers of our
words, the first poets of our thoughts, the first givers of our laws,
the first prophets of our gods, and of Him who is God above all gods.

That aristocracy of those who know--_di color che sanno_--or try to
know, is open to all who are willing to enter, to all who have a
feeling for the past, an interest in the genealogy of our thoughts,
and a reverence for the ancestry of our intellect, who are in fact
historians in the true sense of the word, _i.e._ inquirers into that
which is past, but not lost.

_Thirdly_, having explained to you why the ancient literature of
India, the really ancient literature of that country, I mean that of
the Vedic period, deserves the careful attention, not of Oriental
scholars only, but of every educated man and woman who wishes to know
how we, even we here in England and in this nineteenth century of
ours, came to be what we are, I tried to explain to you the
difference, and the natural and inevitable difference, between the
development of the human character in such different climates as those
of India and Europe. And while admitting that the Hindus were
deficient in many of those manly virtues and practical achievements
which we value most, I wished to point out that there was another
sphere of intellectual activity in which the Hindus excelled--the
meditative and transcendent--and that here we might learn from them
some lessons of life which we ourselves are but too apt to ignore or
to despise.

_Fourthly_, fearing that I might have raised too high expectations of
the ancient wisdom, the religion and philosophy of the Vedic Indians,
I felt it my duty to state that, though primitive in one sense, we
must not expect the Vedic religion to be primitive in the
anthropological sense of the word, as containing the utterances of
beings who had just broken their shells, and were wonderingly looking
out for the first time upon this strange world. The Veda may be called
primitive, because there is no other literary document more primitive
than it; but the language, the mythology, the religion and philosophy
that meet us in the Veda open vistas of the past which no one would
venture to measure in years. Nay, they contain, by the side of simple,
natural, childish thoughts, many ideas which to us sound modern, or
secondary and tertiary, as I called them, but which nevertheless are
older than any other literary document, and give us trustworthy
information of a period in the history of human thought of which we
knew absolutely nothing before the discovery of the Vedas.[127]

But even thus our path is not yet clear. Other objections have been
raised against the Veda as an historical document. Some of them are
important; and I have at times shared them myself. Others are at least
instructive, and will give us an opportunity of testing the foundation
on which we stand.

The first objection then against our treating the Veda as an
historical document is that it is not truly national in its character,
and does not represent the thoughts of the whole of the population of
India, but only of a small minority, namely of the Brahmans, and not
even of the whole class of Brahmans, but only of a small minority of
them, namely of the professional priests.

Objections should not be based on demands which, from the nature of
the case, are unreasonable. Have those who maintain that the Vedic
hymns do not represent the whole of India, that is the whole of its
ancient population, in the same manner as they say that the Bible
represents the Jews or Homer the Greeks, considered what they are
asking for? So far from denying that the Vedic hymns represent only a
small and, it may be, a priestly minority of the ancient population of
India, the true historian would probably feel inclined to urge the
same cautions against the Old Testament and the Homeric poems also.

No doubt, after the books which compose the Old Testament had been
collected as a Sacred Canon, they were known to the majority of the
Jews. But when we speak of the primitive state of the Jews, of their
moral, intellectual, and religious status while in Mesopotamia or
Canaan or Egypt, we should find that the different books of the Old
Testament teach us as little of the whole Jewish race, with all its
local characteristics and social distinctions, as the Homeric poems do
of all the Greek tribes, or the Vedic hymns of all the inhabitants of
India. Surely, even when we speak of the history of the Greeks or the
Romans, we know that we shall not find there a complete picture of the
social, intellectual, and religious life of a whole nation. We know
very little of the intellectual life of a whole nation, even during
the Middle Ages, ay, even at the present day. We may know something of
the generals, of the commanders-in-chief, but of the privates, of the
millions, we know next to nothing. And what we do know of kings or
generals or ministers is mostly no more than what was thought of them
by a few Greek poets or Jewish prophets, men who were one in a million
among their contemporaries.

But it might be said that though the writers were few, the readers
were many. Is that so? I believe you would be surprised to hear how
small the number of readers is even in modern times, while in ancient
times reading was restricted to the very smallest class of privileged
persons. There may have been listeners at public and private
festivals, at sacrifices, and later on in theatres, but readers, in
our sense of the word, are a very modern invention.

There never has been so much reading, reading spread over so large an
area, as in our times. But if you asked publishers as to the number of
copies sold of books which are supposed to have been read by
everybody, say Macaulay's History of England, the Life of the Prince
Consort, or Darwin's Origin of Species, you would find that out of a
population of thirty-two millions not one million has possessed itself
of a copy of these works. The book which of late has probably had the
largest sale is the Revised Version of the New Testament; and yet the
whole number of copies sold among the eighty millions of
English-speaking people is probably not more than four millions. Of
ordinary books which are called books of the season, and which are
supposed to have had a great success, an edition of three or four
thousand copies is not considered unsatisfactory by publishers or
authors in England. But if you look to other countries, such, for
instance, as Russia, it would be very difficult indeed to name books
that could be considered as representative of the whole nation, or as
even known by more than a very small minority.

And if we turn our thoughts back to the ancient nations of Greece and
Italy, or of Persia and Babylonia, what book is there, with the
exception perhaps of the Homeric poems, of which we could say that it
had been read or even heard of by more than a few thousand people? We
think of Greeks and Romans as literary people, and so no doubt they
were, but in a very different sense from what we mean by this. What we
call Greeks and Romans are chiefly the citizens of Athens and Rome,
and here again those who could produce or who could read such works as
the Dialogues of Plato or the Epistles of Horace constituted a very
small intellectual aristocracy indeed. What we call history--the
memory of the past--has always been the work of minorities. Millions
and millions pass away unheeded, and the few only to whom has been
given the gift of fusing speech and thought into forms of beauty
remain as witnesses of the past.

If then we speak of times so distant as those represented by the
Rig-Veda, and of a country so disintegrated, or rather as yet so
little integrated as India was three thousand years ago, surely it
requires but little reflection to know that what we see in the Vedic
poems are but a few snow-clad peaks, representing to us, from a far
distance, the whole mountain-range of a nation, completely lost beyond
the horizon of history. When we speak of the Vedic hymns as
representing the religion, the thoughts and customs of India three
thousand years ago, we cannot mean by India more than some unknown
quantity of which the poets of the Veda are the only spokesmen left.
When we now speak of India, we think of 250 millions, a sixth part of
the whole human race, peopling the vast peninsula from the Himalayan
mountains between the arms of the Indus and the Ganges, down to Cape
Comorin and Ceylon, an extent of country nearly as large as Europe. In
the Veda the stage on which the life of the ancient kings and poets is
acted, is the valley of the Indus and the Punjab, as it is now called,
the Sapta Sindhasa_h_, the Seven Rivers of the Vedic poets. The land
watered by the Ganges is hardly known, and the whole of the Dekkan
seems not yet to have been discovered.

Then again, when these Vedic hymns are called the lucubrations of a
few priests, not the outpourings of the genius of a whole nation, what
does that mean? We may no doubt call these ancient Vedic poets
priests, if we like, and no one would deny that their poetry is
pervaded not only by religious, mythological, and philosophical, but
likewise by sacrificial and ceremonial conceits. Still a priest, if we
trace him back far enough, is only a _presbyteros_ or an elder, and,
as such, those Vedic poets had a perfect right to speak in the name of
a whole class, or of the village community to which they belonged.
Call Vasish_th_a a priest by all means, only do not let us imagine
that he was therefore very like Cardinal Manning.

After we have made every possible concession to arguments, most of
which are purely hypothetical, there remains this great fact that
here, in the Rig-Veda, we have poems, composed in perfect language, in
elaborate metre, telling us about gods and men, about sacrifices and
battles, about the varying aspects of nature and the changing
conditions of society, about duty and pleasure, philosophy and
morality--articulate voices reaching us from a distance from which we
never heard before the faintest whisper; and instead of thrilling with
delight at this almost miraculous discovery, some critics stand aloof
and can do nothing but find fault, because these songs do not
represent to us primitive men exactly as they think they ought to have
been; not like Papúas or Bushmen, with arboraceous habits and
half-animal clicks, not as worshipping stocks or stones, or believing
in fetiches, as according to Comte's inner consciousness they ought to
have done, but rather, I must confess, as beings whom we can
understand, with whom to a certain extent we can sympathize, and to
whom, in the historical progress of the human intellect, we may assign
a place not very far behind the ancient Jews and Greeks.

Once more then, if we mean by primitive, people who inhabited this
earth as soon as the vanishing of the glacial period made this earth
inhabitable, the Vedic poets were certainly not primitive. If we mean
by primitive, people who were without a knowledge of fire, who used
unpolished flints, and ate raw flesh, the Vedic poets were not
primitive. If we mean by primitive, people who did not cultivate the
soil, had no fixed abodes, no kings, no sacrifices, no laws, again, I
say, the Vedic poets were not primitive. But if we mean by primitive
the people who have been the first of the Aryan race to leave behind
literary relics of their existence on earth, then I say the Vedic
poets are primitive, the Vedic language is primitive, the Vedic
religion is primitive, and, taken as a whole, more primitive than
anything else that we are ever likely to recover in the whole history
of our race.

When all these objections had failed, a last trump was played. The
ancient Vedic poetry was said to be, if not of foreign origin, at
least very much infected by foreign, and more particularly by Semitic
influences. It had always been urged by Sanskrit scholars as one of
the chief attractions of Vedic literature that it not only allowed us
an insight into a very early phase of religious thought, but that the
Vedic religion was the only one the development of which took place
without any extraneous influences, and could be watched through a
longer series of centuries than any other religion. Now with regard to
the first point, we know how perplexing it is in the religion of
ancient Rome to distinguish between Italian and Greek ingredients, to
say nothing of Etruscan and Phoenician influences. We know the
difficulty of finding out in the religion of the Greeks what is purely
home-grown, and what is taken over from Egypt, Phoenicia, it may be
from Scythia; or at all events, slightly colored by those foreign rays
of thought. Even in the religion of the Hebrews, Babylonian,
Phoenician, and at a later time Persian influences have been
discovered, and the more we advance toward modern times, the more
extensive becomes the mixture of thought, and the more difficult the
task of assigning to each nation the share which it contributed to the
common intellectual currency of the world. In India alone, and more
particularly in Vedic India, we see a plant entirely grown on native
soil, and entirely nurtured by native air. For this reason, because
the religion of the Veda was so completely guarded from all strange
infections, it is full of lessons which the student of religion could
learn nowhere else.

Now what have the critics of the Veda to say against this? They say
that the Vedic poems show clear traces of _Babylonian_ influences.

I must enter into some details, because, small as they seem, you can
see that they involve very wide consequences.

There is one verse in the Rig-Veda, VIII. 78, 2,[128] which has been
translated as follows: "Oh Indra, bring to us a brilliant jewel, a
cow, a horse, an ornament, together with a golden Manâ."[129]

Now what is a golden Manâ? The word does not occur again by itself,
either in the Veda or anywhere else, and it has been identified by
Vedic scholars with the Latin _mina_, the Greek μνᾶ, the
Phoenician _manah_ (מָנֶה),[130] the well-known weight
which we actually possess now among the treasures brought from Babylon
and Nineveh to the British Museum.[131]

If this were so, it would be irrefragable evidence of at all events a
commercial intercourse between Babylon and India at a very early time,
though it would in no way prove a real influence of Semitic on Indian
thought. But is it so? If we translate sa_k_â manâ hira_n_yayâ by
"with a mina of gold," we must take manâ hira_n_yayâ as instrumental
cases. But sa_k_â never governs an instrumental case. This translation
therefore is impossible, and although the passage is difficult,
because manâ does not occur again in the Rig-Veda, I should think we
might take manâ hira_n_yayâ for a dual, and translate, "Give us also
two golden armlets." To suppose that the Vedic poets should have
borrowed this one word and this one measure from the Babylonians,
would be against all the rules of historical criticism. The word manâ
never occurs again in the whole of Sanskrit literature, no other
Babylonian weight occurs again in the whole of Sanskrit literature,
and it is not likely that a poet who asks for a cow and a horse, would
ask in the same breath for a foreign weight of gold, that is, for
about sixty sovereigns.

But this is not the only loan that India has been supposed to have
negotiated in Babylon. The twenty-seven Nakshatras, or the
twenty-seven constellations, which were chosen in India as a kind of
lunar Zodiac, were supposed to have come from Babylon. Now the
Babylonian Zodiac was solar, and, in spite of repeated researches, no
trace of a lunar Zodiac has been found, where so many things have been
found, in the cuneiform inscriptions. But supposing even that a lunar
Zodiac had been discovered in Babylon, no one acquainted with Vedic
literature and with the ancient Vedic ceremonial would easily allow
himself to be persuaded that the Hindus had borrowed that simple
division of the sky from the Babylonians. It is well known that most
of the Vedic sacrifices depend on the moon, far more than on the
sun.[132] As the Psalmist says, "He appointed the moon for seasons;
the sun knoweth his going down," we read in the Rig-Veda X. 85, 18, in
a verse addressed to sun and moon, "They walk by their own power, one
after the other (or from east to west), as playing children they go
round the sacrifice. The one looks upon all the worlds, the other is
born again and again, determining the seasons."

    "He becomes new and new, when he is born; as the herald of
    the days, he goes before the dawns. By his approach he
    determines their share for the gods, the moon increases a
    long life."

The moon, then, determines the seasons, the _ri_tus, the moon fixes
the share, that is, the sacrificial oblation for all the gods. The
seasons and the sacrifices were in fact so intimately connected
together in the thoughts of the ancient Hindus, that one of the
commonest names for priest was _ri_tv-i_g_, literally, the

Besides the rites which have to be performed every day, such as the
five Mahâya_gñ_as, and the Agnihotra in the morning and the evening,
the important sacrifices in Vedic times were the Full and New-moon
sacrifices (darsapûr_n_amâsa); the Season-sacrifices (_k_âturmâsya),
each season consisting of four months;[133] and the Half-yearly
sacrifices, at the two solstices. There are other sacrifices
(âgraya_n_a, etc.) to be performed in autumn and summer, others in
winter and spring, whenever rice and barley are ripening.[134]

The regulation of the seasons, as one of the fundamental conditions of
an incipient society, seems in fact to have been so intimately
connected with the worship of the gods, as the guardians of the
seasons and the protectors of law and order, that it is sometimes
difficult to say whether in their stated sacrifices the maintenance of
the calendar or the maintenance of the worship of the gods was more
prominent in the minds of the old Vedic priests.

The twenty-seven Nakshatras then were clearly suggested by the moon's
passage.[135] Nothing was more natural for the sake of counting days,
months, or seasons than to observe the twenty-seven places which the
moon occupied in her passage from any point of the sky back to the
same point. It was far easier than to determine the sun's position
either from day to day, or from month to month; for the stars, being
hardly visible at the actual rising and setting of the sun, the idea
of the sun's conjunction with certain stars could not suggest itself
to a listless observer. The moon, on the contrary, progressing from
night to night, and coming successively in contact with certain stars,
was like the finger of a clock, moving round a circle, and coming in
contact with one figure after another on the dial-plate of the sky.
Nor would the portion of about one third of a lunation in addition to
the twenty-seven stars from new moon to new moon, create much
confusion in the minds of the rough-and-ready reckoners of those early
times. All they were concerned with were the twenty-seven celestial
stations which, after being once traced out by the moon, were fixed,
like so many mile-stones, for determining the course of all the
celestial travellers that could be of any interest for signs and for
seasons, and for days and for years. A circle divided into
twenty-seven sections, or any twenty-seven poles planted in a circle
at equal distances round a house, would answer the purpose of a
primitive Vedic observatory. All that was wanted to be known was
between which pair of poles the moon, or afterward the sun also, was
visible at their rising or setting, the observer occupying the same
central position on every day.

Our notions of astronomy cannot in fact be too crude and too imperfect
if we wish to understand the first beginnings in the reckoning of days
and seasons and years. We cannot expect in those days more than what
any shepherd would know at present of the sun and moon, the stars and
seasons. Nor can we expect any observations of heavenly phenomena
unless they had some bearing on the practical wants of primitive

If then we can watch in India the natural, nay inevitable, growth of
the division of the heaven into twenty-seven equal divisions, each
division marked by stars, which may have been observed and named long
before they were used for this new purpose--if, on the other hand, we
could hardly understand the growth and development of the Indian
ceremonial except as determined by a knowledge of the lunar asterisms,
the lunar months, and the lunar seasons, surely it would be a
senseless hypothesis to imagine that the Vedic shepherds or priests
went to Babylonia in search of a knowledge which every shepherd might
have acquired on the banks of the Indus, and that, after their return
from that country only, where a language was spoken which no Hindu
could understand, they set to work to compose their sacred hymns and
arrange their simple ceremonial. We must never forget that what is
natural in one place is natural in other places also, and we may sum
up without fear of serious contradiction, that no case has been made
out in favor of a foreign origin of the elementary astronomical
notions of the Hindus as found or presupposed in the Vedic hymns.[136]

The Arabs, as is well known, have twenty-eight lunar stations, the
_Manzil_, and I can see no reason why Mohammed and his Bedouins in the
desert should not have made the same observation as the Vedic poets in
India, though I must admit at the same time that Colebrooke has
brought forward very cogent arguments to prove that, in their
scientific employment at least, the Arabic Manzil were really borrowed
from an Indian source.[137]

The Chinese, too, have their famous lunar stations, _the Sieu_,
originally twenty-four in number, and afterward raised to
twenty-eight.[138] But here again there is no necessity whatever for
admitting, with Biot, Lassen, and others, that the Hindus went to
China to gain their simplest elementary notions of lunar chrononomy.
First of all, the Chinese began with twenty-four, and raised them to
twenty-eight; the Hindus began with twenty-seven, and raised them to
twenty-eight. Secondly, out of these twenty-eight asterisms, there are
seventeen only which can really be identified with the Hindu stars
(târâs). Now if a scientific system is borrowed, it is borrowed
complete. But, in our case, I see really no possible channel through
which Chinese astronomical knowledge could have been conducted to
India so early as 1000 before our era. In Chinese literature India is
never mentioned before the middle of the second century before Christ;
and if the _K_înas in the later Sanskrit literature are meant for
Chinese, which is doubtful, it is important to observe that that name
never occurs in Vedic literature.[139]

When therefore the impossibility of so early a communication between
China and India had at last been recognized, a new theory was formed,
namely, "that the knowledge of Chinese astronomy was not imported
straight from China to India, but was carried, together with the
Chinese system of division of the heavens into twenty-eight mansions,
into Western Asia, at a period not much later than 1100 B.C., and was
then adopted by some Western people, either Semitic or Iranian. In
their hands it was supposed to have received a new form, such as
adapted it to a ruder and less scientific method of observation, the
limiting stars of the mansions being converted into zodiacal groups or
constellations, and in some instances altered in position, so as to be
brought nearer to the general planetary path of the ecliptic. In this
changed form, having become a means of roughly determining and
describing the places and movements of the planets, it was believed to
have passed into the keeping of the Hindus, very probably along with
the first knowledge of the planets themselves, and entered upon an
independent career of history in India. It still maintained itself in
its old seat, leaving its traces later in the Bundahash; and made its
way so far westward as finally to become known and adopted by the
Arabs." With due respect for the astronomical knowledge of those who
hold this view, all I can say is that this is a novel, and nothing
but a novel, without any facts to support it, and that the few facts
which are known to us do not enable a careful reasoner to go beyond
the conclusions stated many years ago by Colebrooke, that the "Hindus
had undoubtedly made some progress at an early period in the astronomy
cultivated by them for the regulation of time. Their calendar, both
civil and religious, was governed chiefly, not exclusively, by the
moon and the sun; and the motions of these luminaries were carefully
observed by them, and with such success that their determination of
the moon's synodical revolution, which was what they were principally
concerned with, is a much more correct one than the Greeks ever
achieved. They had a division of the ecliptic into twenty-seven and
twenty-eight parts, suggested evidently by the moon's period in days,
and seemingly their own; it was certainly borrowed by the Arabians."

There is one more argument which has been adduced in support of a
Babylonian, or, at all events, a Semitic influence to be discovered in
Vedic literature which we must shortly examine. It refers to the story
of the _Deluge_.

That story, as you know, has been traced in the traditions of many
races, which could not well have borrowed it from one another; and it
was rather a surprise that no allusion even to a local deluge should
occur in any of the Vedic hymns, particularly as very elaborate
accounts of different kinds of deluges are found in the later Epic
poems, and in the still later Purâ_n_as, and form in fact a very
familiar subject in the religious traditions of the people of India.

Three of the _Avatâras_ or incarnations of Vish_n_u are connected with
a deluge, that of the _Fish_, that of the _Tortoise_, and that of the
_Boar_, Vish_n_u in each case rescuing mankind from destruction by
water, by assuming the form of a fish, or a tortoise, or a boar.

This being so, it seemed a very natural conclusion to make that, as
there was no mention of a deluge in the most ancient literature of
India, that legend had penetrated into India from without at a later

When, however, the Vedic literature became more generally known,
stories of a deluge were discovered, if not in the hymns, at least in
the prose writings, belonging to the second period, commonly called
the Brâhma_n_a period. Not only the story of Manu and the _Fish_, but
the stories of the _Tortoise_ and of the _Boar_ also, were met with
there in a more or less complete form, and with this discovery the
idea of a foreign importation lost much of its plausibility. I shall
read you at least one of these accounts of a Deluge which is found in
the _S_atapatha Brâhma_n_a, and you can then judge for yourselves
whether the similarities between it and the account in Genesis are
really such as to require, nay as to admit, the hypothesis that the
Hindus borrowed their account of the Deluge from their nearest Semitic

We read in the _S_atapatha Brâhma_n_a I. 8, 1:

    "In the morning they brought water to Manu for washing, as
    they bring it even now for washing our hands.

    "While he was thus washing, a fish came into his hands.

    "2. The fish spoke this word to Manu: 'Keep me, and I shall
    save thee.'

    "Manu said: 'From what wilt thou save me?'

    "The fish said: 'A flood will carry away all these creatures,
    and I shall save thee from it.'

    "Manu said: 'How canst thou be kept?'

    "3. The fish said: 'So long as we are small, there is much
    destruction for us, for fish swallows fish. Keep me therefore
    first in a jar. When I outgrow that, dig a hole and keep me
    in it. When I outgrow that, take me to the sea, and I shall
    then be beyond the reach of destruction.'

    "4. He became soon a large fish (_gh_asha), for such a fish
    grows largest. The fish said: 'In such and such a year the
    flood will come. Therefore when thou hast built a ship, thou
    shalt meditate on me. And when the flood has risen, thou
    shalt enter into the ship, and I will save thee from the

    "5. Having thus kept the fish, Manu took him to the sea. Then
    in the same year which the fish had pointed out, Manu, having
    built the ship, meditated on the fish. And when the flood had
    risen, Manu entered into the ship. Then the fish swam toward
    him, and Manu fastened the rope of the ship to the fish's
    horn, and he thus hastened toward[140] the Northern Mountain.

    "6. The fish said: 'I have saved thee; bind the ship to a
    tree. May the water not cut thee off, while thou art on the
    mountain. As the water subsides, do thou gradually slide down
    with it.' Manu then slid down gradually with the water, and
    therefore this is called 'the Slope of Manu' on the Northern
    Mountain. Now the flood had carried away all these creatures,
    and thus Manu was left there alone.

    "7. Then Manu went about singing praises and toiling, wishing
    for offspring. And he sacrificed there also with a
    Pâka-sacrifice. He poured clarified butter, thickened milk,
    whey, and curds in the water as a libation. In one year a
    woman arose from it. She came forth as if dripping, and
    clarified butter gathered on her step. Mitra and Varu_n_a
    came to meet her.

    "8. They said to her: 'Who art thou?' She said: 'The daughter
    of Manu.' They rejoined: 'Say that thou art ours.' 'No,' she
    said, 'he who has begotten me, his I am.'

    "Then they wished her to be their sister, and she half agreed
    and half did not agree, but went away, and came to Manu.

    "9. Manu said to her: 'Who art thou?' She said: 'I am thy
    daughter.' 'How, lady, art thou my daughter?' he asked.

    "She replied: 'The libations which thou hast poured into the
    water, clarified butter, thickened milk, whey and curds, by
    them thou hast begotten me. I am a benediction--perform (me)
    this benediction at the sacrifices. If thou perform (me) it
    at the sacrifice, thou wilt be rich in offspring and cattle.
    And whatever blessing thou wilt ask by me, will always accrue
    to thee.' He therefore performed that benediction in the
    middle of the sacrifice, for the middle of the sacrifice is
    that which comes between the introductory and the final

    "10. Then Manu went about with her, singing praises and
    toiling, wishing for offspring. And with her he begat that
    offspring which is called the offspring of Manu; and whatever
    blessing he asked with her, always accrued to him. She is
    indeed I_d_â, and whosoever, knowing this, goes about
    (sacrifices) with I_d_â, begets the same offspring which Manu
    begat, and whatever blessing he asks with her, always accrues
    to him."

This, no doubt, is the account of a deluge, and Manu acts in some
respects the same part which is assigned to Noah in the Old Testament.
But if there are similarities, think of the dissimilarities, and how
they are to be explained. It is quite clear that, if this story was
borrowed from a Semitic source, it was not borrowed from the Old
Testament, for in that case it would really seem impossible to account
for the differences between the two stories. That it may have been
borrowed[141] from some unknown Semitic source cannot, of course, be
disproved, because no tangible proof has ever been produced that would
admit of being disproved. But if it were, it would be the only Semitic
loan in ancient Sanskrit literature--and that alone ought to make us

The story of the boar and the tortoise too, can be traced back to the
Vedic literature. For we read in the Taittirîya Sa_m_hitâ:[142]

    "At first this was water, fluid. Pra_g_âpati, the lord of
    creatures, having become wind, moved on it. He saw this
    earth, and becoming a boar, he took it up. Becoming
    Vi_s_vakarman, the maker of all things, he cleaned it. It
    spread and became the widespread Earth, and this is why the
    Earth is called P_ri_thivî, the widespread."

And we find in the _S_atapatha Brâhma_n_a[143] the following slight
allusion at least to the tortoise myth:

    "Pra_g_âpati, assuming the form of a tortoise (Kûrma),
    brought forth all creatures. In so far as he brought them
    forth, he made them (akarot), and because he made them he was
    (called) tortoise (Kûrma). A tortoise is (called) Kâ_s_yapa,
    and therefore all creatures are called Kâ_s_yapa,
    tortoise-like. He who was this tortoise (Kûrma) was really
    Âditya (the sun)."

One other allusion to something like a deluge,[144] important chiefly
on account of the name of Manu occurring in it, has been pointed out
in the Kâ_th_aka (XI. 2), where this short sentence occurs: "The
waters cleaned this, Manu alone remained."

All this shows that ideas of a deluge, that is, of a submersion of the
earth by water and of its rescue through divine aid, were not
altogether unknown in the early traditions of India, while in later
times they were embodied in several of the Avâtaras of Vish_n_u.

When we examine the numerous accounts of a deluge among different
nations in almost every part of the world, we can easily perceive that
they do not refer to one single historical event, but to a natural
phenomenon repeated every year, namely, the deluge or flood of the
rainy season or the winter.[145]

This is nowhere clearer than in Babylon. Sir Henry Rawlinson was the
first to point out that the twelve cantos of the poem of Izdubar or
Nimrod refer to the twelve months of the year and the twelve
representative signs of the Zodiac. Dr. Haupt afterward pointed out
that Êabânî, the wise bull-man in the second canto, corresponds to the
second month, Ijjar, April-May, represented in the Zodiac by the bull;
that the union between Êabânî and Nimrod in the third canto
corresponds to the third month, Sivan, May-June, represented in the
Zodiac by the twins; that the sickness of Nimrod in the seventh canto
corresponds to the seventh month, Tishri, September-October, when the
sun begins to wane; and that the flood in the eleventh canto
corresponds to the eleventh month, Shaba_t_u, dedicated to the
storm-god Rimmôn,[146] represented in the Zodiac by the waterman.[147]

If that is so, we have surely a right to claim the same natural origin
for the story of the Deluge in India which we are bound to admit in
other countries. And even if it could be proved that in the form in
which these legends have reached us in India they show traces of
foreign influences,[148] the fact would still remain that such
influences have been perceived in comparatively modern treatises only,
and not in the ancient hymns of the Rig-Veda.

Other conjectures have been made with even less foundation than that
which would place the ancient poets of India under the influence of
Babylon. China has been appealed to, nay even Persia, Parthia, and
Bactria, countries beyond the reach of India at that early time of
which we are here speaking, and probably not even then consolidated
into independent nations or kingdoms. I only wonder that traces of the
lost Jewish tribes have not been discovered in the Vedas, considering
that Afghanistan has so often been pointed out as one of their
favorite retreats.

After having thus carefully examined all the traces of supposed
foreign influences that have been brought forward by various scholars,
I think I may say that there really is no trace whatever of any
foreign influence in the language, the religion, or the ceremonial of
the ancient Vedic literature of India. As it stands before us now, so
it has grown up, protected by the mountain ramparts in the north, the
Indus and the Desert in the west, the Indus or what was called the sea
in the south, and the Ganges in the east. It presents us with a
home-grown poetry and a home-grown religion; and history has preserved
to us at least this one relic, in order to teach us what the human
mind can achieve if left to itself, surrounded by a scenery and by
conditions of life that might have made man's life on earth a
paradise, if man did not possess the strange art of turning even a
paradise into a place of misery.[149]


[Footnote 127: If we applied the name of literature to the cylinders
of Babylon and the papyri of Egypt, we should have to admit that some
of these documents are more ancient than any date we dare as yet
assign to the hymns collected in the ten books of the Rig-Veda.]

[Footnote 128: Ã na_h_ bhara vyá_ñg_anam gãm á_s_vam abhyá_ñg_anam
Sá_k_â manã hira_n_yáyâ.]

[Footnote 129: Grassman translates, "Zugleich mit goldenem Geräth;"
Ludwig, "Zusammt mit goldenem Zierrath;" Zimmer, "Und eine Manâ gold."
The Petersburg Dictionary explains manâ by "ein bestimmtes Geräth oder
Gewicht" (Gold).]

[Footnote 130: According to Dr. Haupt, Die Sumerisch-akkadische
Sprache, p. 272, mana is an Akkadian word.]

[Footnote 131: According to the weights of the lions and ducks
preserved in the British Museum, an Assyrian mina was = 7747 grains.
The same difference is still preserved to the present day, as the
_man_ of Shiraz and Bagdâd is just double that of Tabraz and Bushir,
the average of the former being 14.0 and that of the latter only
6.985. See Cunningham, "Journal of the Asiatic Society," Calcutta,
1881, p. 163.]

[Footnote 132: Preface to the fourth volume of my edition of the
Rig-Veda, p. li.]

[Footnote 133: Vai_s_vadevam on the full-moon of Phalguna,
Varu_n_apraghâsâ_h_ on the full-moon of Ashâ_dh_a, Sâkamedhâ_h_ on the
full-moon of K_ri_ttikâ, see Boehtlingk, Dictionary, s. v.]

[Footnote 134: See Vish_n_u-sm_ri_ti, ed. Jolly LIX. 4; Ãryabha_t_a,

[Footnote 135: See Preface to vol. iv. of Rig-Veda, p. li. (1862).]

[Footnote 136: See Zimmer, Altindisches Leben, pp. 352-357.]

[Footnote 137: L. c. p. lxx.]

[Footnote 138: See Zimmer, Altindisches Leben, p. xlvii.]

[Footnote 139: In the Mahâbhârata and elsewhere the _K_înas are
mentioned among the Dasyus or non-Aryan races in the north and in the
east of India. King Bhagadatta is said to have had an army of _K_înas
and Kirâtas,(B1) and the Pâ_nd_avas are said to reach the town of the
King of the Kulindas, after having passed through the countries of
_K_înas, Tukhâras, and Daradas. All this is as vague as ethnological
indications generally are in the late epic poetry of India. The only
possibly real element is that Kirâta and _K_îna soldiers are called
kâ_ñk_ana, gold or yellow colored,(B2) and compared to a forest of
Kar_n_ikâras, which were trees with yellow flowers.(B3) In Mahâbh. VI.
9, v. 373, vol. ii., p. 344, the _K_înas occur in company with
Kambo_g_as and Yavanas, which again conveys nothing definite.

B1: Lassen, i. p. 1029; Mahâbh. III. 117, v. 12,350; vol. i. p. 619.

B2: Mahâbh. V. 18, v. 584; vol. ii. p. 106.

B3: See Vâ_k_aspatya s. v.; Ka_sk_it Kar_n_ikâragaura_h_.

Chinese scholars tell us that the name of China is of modern origin,
and only dates from the Thsin dynasty or from the famous Emperor Shi
hoang-ti, 247 B.C. But the name itself, though in a more restricted
sense, occurs in earlier documents, and may, as Lassen thinks,(B4)
have become known to the Western neighbors of China. It is certainly
strange that the _Sinim_ too, mentioned in Isaiah xlix. 12, have been
taken by the old commentators for people of China, visiting Babylon as
merchants and travellers.

B4: Lassen, vol. i. p. 1029, n. 2.]

[Footnote 140: I prefer now the reading of the Kâ_n_va-_s_âkhâ,
abhidudrâva, instead of atidudrâva or adhidudrâva of the other MSS.
See Weber, Ind. Streifen, i. p. 11.]

[Footnote 141: It is not necessary to establish literary borrowing;
for on the theory of Bible inspiration and trustworthiness we must
assume that the Aryans as well as the Semites were saved in the ark.
The story of _a_ flood supports the story of _the_ flood to a certain
extent.--AM. PUBS.]

[Footnote 142: VII. 1, 5, 1 seq.; Muir, i. p. 52; Colebrooke, Essays,
i. 75.]

[Footnote 143: VII. 5, 1, 5; Muir, "Original Sanskrit Texts," i. p.

[Footnote 144: Weber, "Indische Streifen," i. p. 11.]

[Footnote 145: See Lecture V. p. 172.]

[Footnote 146: More accurately Ramanu, the Vul or storm-god of George
Smith; and the god of the Mind and higher intellect at Babylon. His
arcane name is said to have been Yav, יהו or Ιἁω.--A. W.]

[Footnote 147: See Haupt, "Der Keilinschriftliche Sintfluthbericht,
1881," p. 10.]

[Footnote 148: See M. M., "Genesis and Avesta" (German translation),
i. p. 148.]

[Footnote 149: No one is more competent than the learned author to
give a verdict on all the evidence which has been gathered; but we are
only at the beginning of research into the intercourse of mankind in
remote times, and much that was once thought home-grown has already
been traced to distant points. It is in the general line of progress
in research that more evidence may be expected to connect Vedic
thought with other cultures.--AM. PUBS.]



Although there is hardly any department of learning which has not
received new light and new life from the ancient literature of India,
yet nowhere is the light that comes to us from India so important, so
novel, and so rich as in the study of religion and mythology. It is to
this subject therefore that I mean to devote the remaining lectures of
this course. I do so, partly because I feel myself most at home in
that ancient world of Vedic literature in which the germs of Aryan
religion have to be studied, partly because I believe that for a
proper understanding of the deepest convictions, or, if you like, the
strongest prejudices of the modern Hindus, nothing is so useful as a
knowledge of the Veda. It is perfectly true that nothing would give a
falser impression of the actual Brahmanical religion than the ancient
Vedic literature, supposing we were to imagine that three thousand
years could have passed over India without producing any change. Such
a mistake would be nearly as absurd as to deny any difference between
the Vedic Sanskrit and the spoken Bengali. But no one will gain a
scholarlike knowledge or a true insight into the secret springs of
Bengali who is ignorant of the grammar of Sanskrit; and no one will
ever understand the present religious, philosophical, legal, and
social opinions of the Hindus who is unable to trace them back to
their true sources in the Veda.

I still remember how, many years ago, when I began to publish for the
first time the text and the commentary of the Rig-Veda, it was argued
by a certain, perhaps not quite disinterested party, that the Veda was
perfectly useless; that no man in India, however learned, could read
it, and that it was of no use either for missionaries or for any one
else who wished to study and to influence the native mind. It was said
that we ought to study the later Sanskrit, the Laws of Manu, the epic
poems, and, more particularly, the Purâ_n_as. The Veda might do very
well for German students, but not for Englishmen.

There was no excuse for such ignorant assertions even thirty years
ago, for in these very books, in the Laws of Manu, in the Mahâbhârata,
and in the Purâ_n_as, the Veda is everywhere proclaimed as the highest
authority in all matters of religion.[150] "A Brahman," says Manu,
"unlearned in holy writ, is extinguished in an instant like dry grass
on fire." "A twice-born man (that is, a Brâhma_n_a, a Kshatriya, and a
Vai_s_ya) not having studied the Veda, soon falls, even when living,
to the condition of a _S_ûdra, and his descendants after him."

How far this license of ignorant assertion may be carried is shown by
the same authorities who denied the importance of the Veda for a
historical study of Indian thought, boldly charging those wily
priests, the Brahmans, with having withheld their sacred literature
from any but their own caste. Now, so far from withholding it, the
Brahmans have always been striving, and often striving in vain, to
make the study of their sacred literature obligatory on all castes
except the _S_ûdras, and the passages just quoted from Manu show what
penalties were threatened if children of the second and third castes,
the Kshatriyas and Vai_s_yas, were not instructed in the sacred
literature of the Brahmans.

At present the Brahmans themselves have spoken, and the reception they
have accorded to my edition of the Rig-Veda[151] and its native
commentary, the zeal with which they have themselves taken up the
study of Vedic literature, and the earnestness with which different
sects are still discussing the proper use that should be made of their
ancient religious writings, show abundantly that a Sanskrit scholar
ignorant of, or, I should rather say, determined to ignore the Veda,
would be not much better than a Hebrew scholar ignorant of the Old

I shall now proceed to give you some characteristic specimens of the
religion and poetry of the Rig-Veda. They can only be few, and as
there is nothing like system or unity of plan in that collection of
1017 hymns, which we call the Sa_m_hitâ of the Rig-Veda, I cannot
promise that they will give you a complete panoramic view of that
intellectual world in which our Vedic ancestors passed their life on

I could not even answer the question, if you were to ask it whether
the religion of the Veda was _polytheistic_ or _monotheistic_.
Monotheistic, in the usual sense of that word, it is decidedly not,
though there are hymns that assert the unity of the Divine as
fearlessly as any passage of the Old Testament, or the New Testament,
or the Koran. Thus one poet says (Rig-Veda I. 164, 46): "That which is
_one_, sages name it in various ways--they call it Agni, Yama,

Another poet says: "The wise poets represent by their words Him who is
one with beautiful wings, in many ways."[152]

And again we hear of a being called Hira_n_yagarbha, the golden germ
(whatever the original of that name may have been), of whom the poet
says:[153] "In the beginning there arose Hira_n_yagarbha; he was the one
born lord of all this. He established the earth and this sky. Who is the
god to whom we shall offer our sacrifice?" That Hira_n_yagarbha, the poet
says, "is alone God above all gods" (ya_h_ deveshu adhi deva_h_ eka_h_
âsît)--an assertion of the unity of the Divine which could hardly be
exceeded in strength by any passage from the Old Testament.

But by the side of such passages, which are few in number, there are
thousands in which ever so many divine beings are praised and prayed
to. Even their number is sometimes given as "thrice eleven"[154] or
thirty-three, and one poet assigns eleven gods to the sky, eleven to
the earth, and eleven to the waters,[155] the waters here intended
being those of the atmosphere and the clouds. These thirty-three gods
have even wives apportioned to them,[156] though few of these only
have as yet attained to the honor of a name.[157]

These thirty-three gods, however, by no means include all the Vedic
gods, for such important deities as Agni, the fire, Soma, the rain,
the Maruts or Storm-gods, the A_s_vins, the gods of Morning and
Evening, the Waters, the Dawn, the Sun are mentioned separately; and
there are not wanting passages in which the poet is carried away into
exaggerations, till he proclaims the number of his gods to be, not
only thirty-three, but three thousand three hundred and

If therefore there must be a name for the religion of the Rig-Veda,
polytheism would seem at first sight the most appropriate. Polytheism,
however, has assumed with us a meaning which renders it totally
inapplicable to the Vedic religion.

Our ideas of polytheism being chiefly derived from Greece and Rome, we
understand by it a certain more or less organized system of gods,
different in power and rank, and all subordinate to a supreme God, a
Zeus or Jupiter. The Vedic polytheism differs from the Greek and Roman
polytheism, and, I may add, likewise from the polytheism of the
Ural-Altaic, the Polynesian, the American, and most of the African
races, in the same manner as a confederacy of village communities
differs from a monarchy. There are traces of an earlier stage of
village-community life to be discovered in the later republican and
monarchical constitutions, and in the same manner nothing can be
clearer, particularly in Greece, than that the monarchy of Zeus was
preceded by what may be called the septarchy of several of the great
gods of Greece. The same remark applies to the mythology of the
Teutonic nations also.[159] In the Veda, however, the gods worshipped
as supreme by each sept stand still side by side. No one is first
always, no one is last always. Even gods of a decidedly inferior and
limited character assume occasionally in the eyes of a devoted poet a
supreme place above all other gods.[160] It was necessary, therefore,
for the purpose of accurate reasoning, to have a name, different from
_polytheism_, to signify this worship of single gods, each occupying
for a time a supreme position, and I proposed for it the name of
_Kathenotheism_, that is, a worship of one god after another, or of
_Henotheism_, the worship of single gods. This shorter name of
_Henotheism_ has found more general acceptance, as conveying more
definitely the opposition between _Monotheism_, the worship of one
only God, and _Henotheism_, the worship of single gods; and, if but
properly defined, it will answer its purpose very well. However, in
researches of this kind we cannot be too much on our guard against
technical terms. They are inevitable, I know; but they are almost
always misleading. There is, for instance, a hymn addressed to the
_Indus_ and the rivers that fall into it, of which I hope to read you
a translation, because it determines very accurately the geographical
scene on which the poets of the Veda passed their life. Now native
scholars call these rivers d e v a t â s or deities, and European
translators too speak of them as gods and goddesses. But in the
language used by the poet with regard to the Indus and the other
rivers, there is nothing to justify us in saying that he considered
these rivers as _gods_ and _goddesses_, unless we mean by _gods_ and
_goddesses_ something very different from what the Greeks called
River-gods and River-goddesses, Nymphs, Najades, or even Muses.

And what applies to these rivers applies more or less to all the
objects of Vedic worship. They all are still oscillating between what
is seen by the senses, what is created by fancy, and what is
postulated by the understanding; they are things, persons, causes,
according to the varying disposition of the poets; and if we call them
gods or goddesses, we must remember the remark of an ancient native
theologian, who reminds us that by d e v a t â or deity he means no more
than the object celebrated in a hymn, while _R i_ s h i or seer means no
more than the subject or the author of a hymn.

It is difficult to treat of the so-called gods celebrated in the Veda
according to any system, for the simple reason that the concepts of
these gods and the hymns addressed to them sprang up spontaneously and
without any pre-established plan. It is best perhaps for our purpose
to follow an ancient Brahmanical writer, who is supposed to have lived
about 400 B.C. He tells us of students of the Veda, before his time,
who admitted three deities only, viz., A g n i or fire, whose place is on
the earth; V â y u or I n d r a, the wind and the god of the thunderstorm,
whose place is in the air; and S û r y a, the sun, whose place is in the
sky. These deities, they maintained, received severally many
appellations, in consequence of their greatness, or of the diversity
of their functions, just as a priest, according to the functions which
he performs at various sacrifices, receives various names.

This is _one_ view of the Vedic gods, and, though too narrow, it
cannot be denied that there is some truth in it. A very useful
division of the Vedic gods might be made, and has been made by Yâska,
into _terrestrial_, _aërial_, and _celestial_, and if the old Hindu
theologians meant no more than that all the manifestations of divine
power in nature might be traced back to three centres of force, one in
the sky, one in the air, and one on the earth, he deserves great
credit for his sagacity.

But he himself perceived evidently that this generalization was not
quite applicable to all the gods, and he goes on to say: "Or, it may
be, these gods are all distinct beings, for the praises addressed to
them are distinct, and their appellations also." This is quite right.
It is the very object of most of these divine names to impart distinct
individuality to the manifestations of the powers of nature; and
though the philosopher or the inspired poet might perceive that these
numerous names were but names, while that which was named was _one_
and _one_ only, this was certainly not the idea of most of the Vedic
_Ri_shis themselves, still less of the people who listened to their
songs at fairs and festivals. It is the peculiar character of that
phase of religious thought which we have to study in the Veda, that in
it the Divine is conceived and represented as manifold, and that many
functions are shared in common by various gods, no attempt having yet
been made at organizing the whole body of the gods, sharply
separating one from the other, and subordinating all of them to
several or, in the end, to one supreme head.

Availing ourselves of the division of the Vedic gods into terrestrial,
aërial, and celestial, as proposed by some of the earliest Indian
theologians, we should have to begin with the gods connected with the

Before we examine them, however, we have first to consider one of the
earliest objects of worship and adoration, namely _Earth and Heaven_,
or _Heaven and Earth_, conceived as a divine couple. Not only in
India, but among many other nations, both savage, half-savage, or
civilized, we meet with Heaven and Earth as one of the earliest
objects, pondered on, transfigured, and animated by the early poets,
and more or less clearly conceived by early philosophers. It is
surprising that it should be so, for the conception of the Earth as an
independent being, and of Heaven as an independent being, and then of
both together as a divine couple embracing the whole universe,
requires a considerable effort of abstraction, far more than the
concepts of other divine powers, such as the Fire, the Rain, the
Lightning, or the Sun.

Still so it is, and as it may help us to understand the ideas about
Heaven and Earth, as we find them in the Veda, and show us at the same
time the strong contrast between the mythology of the Aryans and that
of real savages (a contrast of great importance, though I admit very
difficult to explain), I shall read you first some extracts from a
book, published by a friend of mine, the Rev. William Wyatt Gill, for
many years an active and most successful missionary in Mangaia, one of
those Polynesian islands that form a girdle round one quarter of our
globe,[161] and all share in the same language, the same religion,
the same mythology, and the same customs. The book is called "Myths
and Songs from the South Pacific,"[162] and it is full of interest to
the student of mythology and religion.

The story, as told him by the natives of Mangaia, runs as

    "The sky is built of solid blue stone. At one time it almost
    touched the earth; resting upon the stout broad leaves of the
    t e v e (which attains the height of about six feet) and the
    delicate indigenous arrow-root (whose slender stem rarely
    exceeds three feet).... In this narrow space between earth
    and sky the inhabitants of this world were pent up. Ru, whose
    usual residence was in Avaiki, or the shades, had come up for
    a time to this world of ours. Pitying the wretched confined
    residence of the inhabitants, he employed himself in
    endeavoring to raise the sky a little. For this purpose he
    cut a number of strong stakes of different kinds of trees,
    and firmly planted them in the ground at Rangimotia, the
    centre of the island, and with him the centre of the world.
    This was a considerable improvement, as mortals were thereby
    enabled to stand erect and to walk about without
    inconvenience. Hence Ru was named 'The sky-supporter.'
    Wherefore Teka sings (1794):

        'Force up the sky, O Ru,
        And let the space be clear!'

    "One day when the old man was surveying his work, his
    graceless son Mâui contemptuously asked him what he was doing
    there. Ru replied: 'Who told youngsters to talk? Take care of
    yourself, or I will hurl you out of existence.'

    "'Do it, then,' shouted Mâui.

    "Ru was as good as his word, and forthwith seized Mâui, who
    was small of stature, and threw him to a great height. In
    falling Mâui assumed the form of a bird, and lightly touched
    the ground, perfectly unharmed. Mâui, now thirsting for
    revenge, in a moment resumed his natural form, but
    exaggerated to gigantic proportions, and ran to his father,

        'Ru, who supportest the many heavens,
        The third, even to the highest, ascend!'

    "Inserting his head between the old man's legs, he exerted all
    his prodigious strength, and hurled poor Ru, sky and all, to
    a tremendous height--so high, indeed, that the blue sky could
    never get back again. Unluckily, however, for the
    sky-supporting Ru, his head and shoulders got entangled among
    the stars. He struggled hard, but fruitlessly, to extricate
    himself. Mâui walked off well pleased with having raised the
    sky to its present height, but left half his father's body
    and both his legs ingloriously suspended between heaven and
    earth. Thus perished Ru. His body rotted away, and his bones
    came tumbling down from time to time, and were shivered on
    the earth into countless fragments. These shivered bones of
    Ru are scattered over every hill and valley of Mangaia, to
    the very edge of the sea."

What the natives call "the bones of Ru" (t e  i v i o  R u) are pieces of

Now let us consider, first of all, whether this story, which with
slight variations is told all over the Polynesian islands,[164] is
pure nonsense, or whether there was originally some sense in it. My
conviction is that nonsense is everywhere the child of sense, only
that unfortunately many children, like that youngster Mâui, consider
themselves much wiser than their fathers, and occasionally succeed in
hurling them out of existence.

It is a peculiarity of many of the ancient myths that they represent
events which happen every day, or every year, as having happened once
upon a time.[165] The daily battle between day and night, the yearly
battle between winter and spring, are represented almost like
historical events, and some of the episodes and touches belonging
originally to these constant battles of nature, have certainly been
transferred into and mixed up with battles that took place at a
certain time, such as, for instance, the siege of Troy. When
historical recollections failed, legendary accounts of the ancient
battles between Night and Morning, Winter and Spring, were always at
hand; and, as in modern times we constantly hear "good stories," which
we have known from our childhood, told again and again of any man whom
they seem to fit, in the same manner, in ancient times, any act of
prowess, or daring, or mischief, originally told of the sun, "the
orient Conqueror of gloomy Night," was readily transferred to and
believed of any local hero who might seem to be a second Jupiter, or
Mars, or Hercules.

I have little doubt therefore that as the accounts of a deluge, for
instance, which we find almost everywhere, are originally
recollections of the annual torrents of rain or snow that covered the
little worlds within the ken of the ancient village-bards,[166] this
tearing asunder of heaven and earth too was originally no more than a
description of what might be seen every morning. During a dark night
the sky seemed to cover the earth; the two seemed to be one, and could
not be distinguished one from the other.[167] Then came the Dawn,
which with its bright rays lifted the covering of the dark night to a
certain point, till at last Mâui appeared, small in stature, a mere
child, that is, the sun of the morning--thrown up suddenly, as it
were, when his first rays shot through the sky from beneath the
horizon, then falling back to the earth, like a bird, and rising in
gigantic form on the morning sky. The dawn now was hurled away, and
the sky was seen lifted high above the earth; and Mâui, the sun,
marched on well pleased with having raised the sky to its present

Why pumice-stone should be called the bones of Ru, we cannot tell,
without knowing a great deal more of the language of Mangaia than we
do at present. It is most likely an independent saying, and was
afterward united with the story of Ru and Mâui.

Now I must quote at least a few extracts from a Maori legend as
written down by Judge Manning:[168]

     "This is the Genesis of the New Zealanders:

     "The Heavens which are above us, and the Earth which lies
     beneath us, are the progenitors of men, and the origin of
     all things.

     "Formerly the Heaven lay upon the Earth, and all was

     "And the children of Heaven and Earth sought to discover the
     difference between light and darkness, between day and

     "So the sons of Rangi (Heaven) and of Papa (Earth) consulted
     together, and said, 'Let us seek means whereby to destroy
     Heaven and Earth, or to separate them from each other.'

     "Then said Tumatauenga (the God of War), 'Let us destroy
     them both.'

     "Then said Tane-Mahuta (the Forest God), 'Not so; let them
     be separated. Let one of them go upward and become a
     stranger to us; let the other remain below and be a parent
     for us.'

     "Then four of the gods tried to separate Heaven and Earth,
     but did not succeed, while the fifth, Tane, succeeded.

     "After Heaven and Earth had been separated, great storms
     arose, or, as the poet expresses it, one of their sons,
     Tawhiri-Matea, the god of the winds, tried to revenge the
     outrage committed on his parents by his brothers. Then
     follow dismal dusky days, and dripping chilly skies, and
     arid scorching blasts. All the gods fight, till at last Tu
     only remains, the god of war, who had devoured all his
     brothers, except the Storm. More fights follow, in which the
     greater part of the earth was overwhelmed by the waters, and
     but a small portion remained dry. After that, light
     continued to increase, and as the light increased, so also
     the people who had been hidden between Heaven and Earth
     increased.... And so generation was added to generation
     down to the time of Mâui-Potiki, he who brought death into
     the world.

     "Now in these latter days Heaven remains far removed from
     his wife, the Earth; but the love of the wife rises upward
     in sighs toward her husband. These are the mists which fly
     upward from the mountain-tops; and the tears of Heaven fall
     downward on his wife; behold the dew-drops!"

So far the Maori Genesis.

Let us now return to the Veda, and compare these crude and somewhat
grotesque legends with the language of the ancient Aryan poets. In the
hymns of the Rig-Veda the separating and keeping apart of Heaven and
Earth is several times alluded to, and here too it is represented as
the work of the most valiant gods. In I. 67, 3 it is Agni, fire, who
holds the earth and supports the heaven; in X. 89, 4 it is Indra who
keeps them apart; in IX. 101, 15 Soma is celebrated for the same deed,
and in III. 31, 12 other gods too share the same honor.[169]

In the Aitareya Brâhma_n_a we read:[170] "These two worlds (Heaven and
Earth) were once joined together. They went asunder. Then it did not
rain, nor did the sun shine. And the five tribes did not agree with
one another. The gods then brought the two (Heaven and Earth)
together, and when they came together they formed a wedding of the

Here we have in a shorter form the same fundamental ideas: first, that
formerly Heaven and Earth were together; that afterward they were
separated; that when they were thus separated there was war throughout
nature, and neither rain nor sunshine; that, lastly, Heaven and Earth
were conciliated, and that then a great wedding took place.

Now I need hardly remind those who are acquainted with Greek and Roman
literature, how familiar these and similar conceptions about a
marriage between Heaven and earth were in Greece and Italy. They seem
to possess there a more special reference to the annual reconciliation
between Heaven and Earth, which takes place in spring, and to their
former estrangement during winter. But the first cosmological
separation of the two always points to the want of light and the
impossibility of distinction during the night, and the gradual lifting
up of the blue sky through the rising of the sun.[171]

In the Homeric hymns[172] the Earth is addressed as

    "Mother of gods, the wife of the starry Heaven;"[173]

and the Heaven or Æther is often called the father. Their marriage too
is described, as, for instance, by Euripides, when he says:

    "There is the mighty Earth, Jove's Æther:
      He (the Æther) is the creator of men and gods;
    The earth receiving the moist drops of rain,
            Bears mortals,
    Bears food, and the tribes of animals.
      Hence she is not unjustly regarded
        As the mother of all."[174]

And what is more curious still is that we have evidence that
Euripides received this doctrine from his teacher, the philosopher
Anaxagoras. For Dionysius of Halicarnassus[175] tells us that
Euripides frequented the lectures of Anaxagoras. Now, it was the
theory of that philosopher that originally all things were in all
things, but that afterward they became separated. Euripides later in
life associated with Sokrates, and became doubtful regarding that
theory. He accordingly propounds the ancient doctrine by the mouth of
another, namely Melanippê, who says:

    "This saying (myth) is not mine, but came from my mother,
    that formerly Heaven and Earth were one shape; but when they
    were separated from each other, they gave birth and brought
    all things into the light, trees, birds, beasts, and the
    fishes whom the sea feeds, and the race of mortals."

Thus we have met with the same idea of the original union, of a
separation, and of a subsequent reunion of Heaven and Earth in Greece,
in India, and in the Polynesian islands.

Let us now see how the poets of the Veda address these two beings,
Heaven and Earth.

They are mostly addressed in the dual, as two beings forming but one
concept. We meet, however, with verses which are addressed to the Earth
by herself, and which speak of her as "kind, without thorns, and
pleasant to dwell on,"[176] while there are clear traces in some of the
hymns that at one time Dyaus, the sky, was the supreme deity.[177] When
invoked together they are called D y â v â - p_ r i_ t h i v y a u,
from d y u, the sky, and p _r i_ t h i v î, the broad earth.

If we examine their epithets, we find that many of them reflect simply
the physical aspects of Heaven and Earth. Thus they are called u r u,
wide; u r u v y a _k_ a s, widely expanded, d û r e - a n t e, with
limits far apart, g a b h î r a, deep; g h _r i_ t a v a t, giving fat;
m a d h u d u g h a, yielding honey or dew; p a y a s v a t, full of
milk; b h û r i - r e t a s, rich in seed.

Another class of epithets represents them already as endowed with
certain human and superhuman qualities, such as a s a _s k_ a t, never
tiring, a _g_ a r a, not decaying, which brings us very near to
immortal; a d r u h, not injuring, or not deceiving, p r a _k_ e t a s,
provident, and then pitâ-mâta, father and mother, devaputra, having the
gods for their sons, _r i_ t a - v_ r i_ d h and _r i_ t a v a t,
protectors of the _Ri_ta, of what is right, guardians of eternal laws.

Here you see what is so interesting in the Veda, the gradual advance
from the material to the spiritual, from the sensuous to the
supersensuous, from the human to the superhuman and the divine. Heaven
and Earth were seen, and, according to our notions, they might simply
be classed as visible and finite beings. But the ancient poets were
more honest to themselves. They could see Heaven and Earth, but they
never saw them in their entirety. They felt that there was something
beyond the purely finite aspect of these beings, and therefore they
thought of them, not as they would think of a stone, or a tree, or a
dog, but as something not-finite, not altogether visible or knowable,
yet as something important to themselves, powerful, strong to bless,
but also strong to hurt. Whatever was between Heaven and Earth seemed
to be theirs, their property, their realm, their dominion. They held
and embraced all; they seemed to have produced all. The Devas or
bright beings, the sun, the dawn, the fire, the wind, the rain, were
all theirs, and were called therefore the offspring of Heaven and
Earth. Thus Heaven and Earth became the Universal Father and Mother.

Then we ask at once: "Were then these Heaven and Earth gods?" But gods
in what sense? In our sense of God? Why, in our sense, God is
altogether incapable of a plural. Then in the Greek sense of the word?
No, certainly not; for what the Greeks called gods was the result of
an intellectual growth totally independent of the Veda or of India. We
must never forget that what we call gods in ancient mythologies are
not substantial, living, individual beings, of whom we can predicate
this or that. D e v a, which we translate by god, is nothing but an
adjective, expressive of a quality shared by heaven and earth, by the
sun and the stars and the dawn and the sea, namely _brightness_; and
the idea of god, at that early time, contains neither more nor less
than what is shared in common by all these bright beings. That is to
say, the idea of god is not an idea ready-made, which could be applied
in its abstract purity to heaven and earth and other such like beings;
but it is an idea, growing out of the concepts of heaven and earth and
of the other bright beings, slowly separating itself from them, but
never containing more than what was contained, though confusedly, in
the objects to which it was successively applied.

Nor must it be supposed that heaven and earth, having once been raised
to the rank of undecaying or immortal beings, of divine parents, of
guardians of the laws, were thus permanently settled in the religious
consciousness of the people. Far from it. When the ideas of other
gods, and of more active and more distinctly personal gods had been
elaborated, the Vedic _Ri_shis asked without hesitation: Who then has
made heaven and earth? not exactly Heaven and Earth, as conceived
before, but heaven and earth as seen every day, as a part of what
began to be called Nature or the Universe.

Thus one poet says:[178]

    "He was indeed among the gods the cleverest workman who
    produced the two brilliant ones (heaven and earth), that
    gladden all things; he who measured out the two bright ones
    (heaven and earth) by his wisdom, and established them on
    everlasting supports."

And again:[179] "He was a good workman who produced heaven and earth;
the wise, who by his might brought together these two (heaven and
earth), the wide, the deep, the well-fashioned in the bottomless

Very soon this great work of making heaven and earth was ascribed,
like other mighty works, to the mightiest of their gods, to Indra. At
first we read that Indra, originally only a kind of _Jupiter pluvius_,
or god of rain, stretched out heaven and earth, like a hide;[180] that
he held them in his hand,[181] that he upholds heaven and earth,[182]
and that he grants heaven and earth to his worshippers.[183] But very
soon Indra is praised for having made Heaven and Earth;[184] and then,
when the poet remembers that Heaven and Earth had been praised
elsewhere as the parents of the gods, and more especially as the
parents of Indra, he does not hesitate for a moment, but says:[185]
"What poets living before us have reached the end of all thy
greatness? for thou hast indeed begotten thy father and thy mother
together[186] from thy own body!"

That is a strong measure, and a god who once could do that, was no
doubt capable of anything afterward. The same idea, namely that Indra
is greater than heaven and earth, is expressed in a less outrageous
way by another poet, who says[187] that Indra is greater than heaven
and earth, and that both together are only a half of Indra. Or
again:[188] "The divine Dyaus bowed before Indra, before Indra the
great Earth bowed with her wide spaces." "At the birth of thy splendor
Dyaus trembled, the Earth trembled for fear of thy anger."[189]

Thus, from one point of view, Heaven and Earth were the greatest gods,
they were the parents of everything, and therefore of the gods also,
such as Indra and others.

But, from another point of view, every god that was considered as
supreme at one time or other, must necessarily have made heaven and
earth, must at all events be greater than heaven and earth, and thus
the child became greater than the father, ay, became the father of his
father. Indra was not the only god that created heaven and earth. In
one hymn[190] that creation is ascribed to Soma and Pûshan, by no
means very prominent characters; in another[191] to Hira_n_yagarbha
(the golden germ); in another again to a god who is simply called
Dhat_ri_, the Creator,[192] or Vi_s_vakarman,[193] the maker of all
things. Other gods, such as Mitra and Savit_ri_, names of the sun, are
praised for upholding Heaven and Earth, and the same task is sometimes
performed by the old god Varu_n_a[194] also.

What I wish you to observe in all this is the perfect freedom with
which these so-called gods or Devas are handled, and particularly the
ease and naturalness with which now the one, now the other emerges as
supreme out of this chaotic theogony. This is the peculiar character
of the ancient Vedic religion, totally different both from the
Polytheism and from the Monotheism as we see it in the Greek and the
Jewish religions; and if the Veda had taught us nothing else but this
_henotheistic_ phase, which must everywhere have preceded the more
highly-organized phase of Polytheism which we see in Greece, in Rome,
and elsewhere, the study of the Veda would not have been in vain.

It may be quite true that the poetry of the Veda is neither beautiful,
in our sense of the word, nor very profound; but it is instructive.
When we see those two giant spectres of Heaven and Earth on the
background of the Vedic religion, exerting their influence for a time,
and then vanishing before the light of younger and more active gods,
we learn a lesson which it is well to learn, and which we can hardly
learn anywhere else--the lesson _how gods were made and unmade_--how
the Beyond or the Infinite was named by different names in order to
bring it near to the mind of man, to make it for a time
comprehensible, until, when name after name had proved of no avail, a
nameless God was felt to answer best the restless cravings of the
human heart.

I shall next translate to you the hymn to which I referred before as
addressed to the Rivers. If the Rivers are to be called deities at
all, they belong to the class of terrestrial deities. But the reason
why I single out this hymn is not so much because it throws new light
on the theogonic process, but because it may help to impart some
reality to the vague conceptions which we form to ourselves of the
ancient Vedic poets and their surroundings. The rivers invoked are, as
we shall see, the real rivers of the Punjâb, and the poem shows a much
wider geographical horizon than we should expect from a mere

    1. "Let the poet declare, O Waters, your exceeding greatness,
    here in the seat of Vivasvat.[196] By seven and seven they
    have come forth in three courses, but the Sindhu (the Indus)
    exceeds all the other wandering rivers by her strength.

    2. "Varu_n_a dug out paths for thee to walk on, when thou
    rannest to the race.[197] Thou proceedest on a precipitous
    ridge of the earth, when thou art lord in the van of all the
    moving streams.

    3. "The sound rises up to heaven above the earth; she stirs
    up with splendor her endless power.[198] As from a cloud, the
    showers thunder forth, when the Sindhu comes, roaring like a

    4. "To thee, O Sindhu, they (the other rivers) come as lowing
    mother-cows (run) to their young with their milk.[199] Like a
    king in battle thou leadest the two wings, when thou reachest
    the front of these down-rushing rivers.

    5. "Accept, O Gangâ (Ganges), Yamunâ (Jumna), Sarasvatî
    (Sursûti), _S_utudri (Sutlej), Parush_n_î (Irâvâtî, Ravi),
    my praise![200] With the Asiknî (Akesines) listen, O
    Marudv_ri_dhâ,[201] and with the Vitastâ (Hydaspes, Behat); O
    Âr_g_îkîyâ,[202] listen with the Sushomâ.[203]

    6. "First thou goest united with the T_ri_sh_t_amâ on thy
    journey, with the Susartu, the Rasâ (Râ_m_hâ, Araxes?[204]),
    and the _S_vetî--O Sindhu, with the Kubhâ (Kophen, Cabul
    river) to the Gomatî (Gomal), with the Mehatnu to the Krumu
    (Kurum)--with whom thou proceedest together.

    7. "Sparkling, bright, with mighty splendor she carries the
    waters across the plains--the unconquered Sindhu, the
    quickest of the quick, like a beautiful mare--a sight to see.

    8. "Rich in horses, in chariots, in garments, in gold, in
    booty,[205] in wool,[206] and in straw,[207] the Sindhu,
    handsome and young, clothes herself in sweet flowers.[208]

    9. "The Sindhu has yoked her easy chariot with horses; may
    she conquer prizes for us in the race. The greatness of her
    chariot is praised as truly great--that chariot which is
    irresistible, which has its own glory, and abundant

This hymn does not sound perhaps very poetical, in our sense of the
word; yet if you will try to realize the thoughts of the poet who
composed it, you will perceive that it is not without some bold and
powerful conceptions.

Take the modern peasants, living in their villages by the side of the
Thames, and you must admit that he would be a remarkable man who could
bring himself to look on the Thames as a kind of a general, riding at
the head of many English rivers, and leading them on to a race or a
battle. Yet it is easier to travel in England, and to gain a
commanding view of the river-system of the country, than it was three
thousand years ago to travel over India, even over that part of India
which the poet of our hymn commands. He takes in at one swoop three
great river-systems, or, as he calls them, three great armies of
rivers--those flowing from the north-west into the Indus, those
joining it from the north-east, and, in the distance, the Ganges and
the Jumnah with their tributaries. Look on the map and you will see
how well these three armies are determined; but our poet had no
map--he had nothing but high mountains and sharp eyes to carry out his
trigonometrical survey. Now I call a man, who for the first time
could _see_ those three marching armies of rivers, a poet.

The next thing that strikes one in that hymn--if hymn we must call
it--is the fact that all these rivers, large and small, have their own
proper names. That shows a considerable advance in civilized life, and
it proves no small degree of coherence, or what the French call
_solidarity_, between the tribes who had taken possession of Northern
India. Most settlers call the river on whose banks they settle "_the
river_." Of course there are many names for river. It may be called
the runner,[210] the fertilizer, the roarer--or, with a little
poetical metaphor, the arrow, the horse, the cow, the father, the
mother, the watchman, the child of the mountains. Many rivers had many
names in different parts of their course, and it was only when
communication between different settlements became more frequent, and
a fixed terminology was felt to be a matter of necessity, that the
rivers of a country were properly baptized and registered. All this
had been gone through in India before our hymn became possible.

And now we have to consider another, to my mind most startling fact.
We here have a number of names of the rivers of India, as they were
known to one single poet, say about 1000 B.C. We then hear nothing of
India till we come to the days of Alexander, and when we look at the
names of the Indian rivers, represented as well as they could be by
Alexander's companions, mere strangers in India, and by means of a
strange language and a strange alphabet, we recognize, without much
difficulty, nearly all of the old Vedic names.

In this respect the names of rivers have a great advantage over the
names of towns in India. What we now call _Dilli_ or _Delhi_[211] was
in ancient times called Indraprastha, in later times _Shahjahânabâd_.
_Oude_ is Ayodhyâ, but the old name of Saketa is forgotten. The town
of Pa_t_aliputra, known to the Greeks as _Palimbothra_, is now called

Now I can assure you this persistency of the Vedic river-names was to
my mind something so startling that I often said to myself, This
cannot be--there must be something wrong here. I do not wonder so much
at the names of the _Indus_ and the _Ganges_ being the same. The Indus
was known to early traders, whether by sea or by land. Skylax sailed
from the country of the Paktys, _i.e._ the Pushtus, as the Afghans
still call themselves, down to the mouth of the Indus. That was under
Darius Hystaspes (521-486). Even before that time India and the
Indians were known by their name, which was derived from _Sindhu_, the
name of their frontier river. The neighboring tribes who spoke Iranic
languages all pronounced, like the Persian, the _s_ as an _h_.[213]
Thus Sindhu became Hindhu (Hidhu), and, as h's were dropped even at
that early time, Hindhu became Indu. Thus the river was called
_Indos_, the people _Indoi_ by the Greeks, who first heard of India
from the Persians.

_Sindhu_ probably meant originally the divider, keeper, and defender,
from sidh, to keep off. It was a masculine, before it became a
feminine. No more telling name could have been given to a broad river,
which guarded peaceful settlers both against the inroads of hostile
tribes and the attacks of wild animals. A common name for the ancient
settlements of the Aryans in India was "the Seven Rivers," "Sapta
Sindhava_h_." But though sindhu was used as an appellative noun for
river in general (cf. Rig-Veda VI. 19, 5, samudré ná síndhava_h_
yâdamânâ_h_, "like rivers longing for the sea"), it remained
throughout the whole history of India the name of its powerful
guardian river, the Indus.

In some passages of the Rig-Veda it has been pointed out that sindhu
might better be translated by "sea," a change of meaning, if so it can
be called, fully explained by the geographical conditions of the
country. There are places where people could swim across the Indus,
there are others where no eye could tell whether the boundless expanse
of water should be called river or sea. The two run into each other,
as every sailor knows, and naturally the meaning of sindhu, river,
runs into the meaning of sindhu, sea.

But besides the two great rivers, the Indus and the Ganges--in
Sanskrit the Gangâ, literally the Go-go--we have the smaller rivers,
and many of their names also agree with the names preserved to us by
the companions of Alexander.[214]

The Yamunâ, the Jumna, was known to Ptolemy as Διἁμουνα,[215] to Pliny
as Jomanes, to Arrian, somewhat corrupted, as Jôbares.[216]

The _S_utudrî, or, as it was afterward called, _S_atadru, meaning
"running in a hundred streams," was known to Ptolemy as Ζαδἁρδης or
Ζἁραδος; Pliny called it Sydrus; and Megasthenes, too, was probably
acquainted with it as Ζαδἁρδης. In the Veda[217] it formed with the
Vipa_s_ the frontier of the Punjâb, and we hear of fierce battles
fought at that time, it may be on the same spot where in 1846 the
battle of the Sutledge was fought by Sir Hugh Gough and Sir Henry
Hardinge. It was probably on the Vipâ_s_ (later Vipâ_s_â), a
north-western tributary of the Sutledge, that Alexander's army turned
back. The river was then called Hyphasis; Pliny calls it Hypasis,[218]
a very fair approximation to the Vedic Vipâ_s_, which means
"unfettered." Its modern name is Bias or Bejah.

The next river on the west is the Vedic Parush_n_î, better known as
Irâvatî,[219] which Strabo calls Hyarotis, while Arrian gives it a
more Greek appearance by calling it Hydraotes. It is the modern Rawi.
It was this river which the Ten Kings when attacking the T_ri_tsus
under Sudâs tried to cross from the west by cutting off its water. But
their stratagem failed, and they perished in the river (Rig-Veda VII.
18, 8-9).

We then come to the Asiknî, which means "black." That river had
another name also, _K_andrabhâga, which means "streak of the moon."
The Greeks, however, pronounced that Σανδαροφἁγος, and this had the
unlucky meaning of "the devourer of Alexander." Hesychius tells us
that in order to avert the bad omen Alexander changed the name of
that river into Ακεσἱνης, which would mean "the Healer;" but he does
not tell, what the Veda tells us, that this name Ακεσἱνης was a Greek
adaptation of another name of the same river, namely Asiknî, which had
evidently supplied to Alexander the idea of calling the Asiknî
Ακεσἱνης. It is the modern Chinâb.

Next to the Akesines we have the Vedic Vitastâ, the last of the rivers
of the Punjâb, changed in Greek into Hydaspes. It was to this river
that Alexander retired, before sending his fleet down the Indus and
leading his army back to Babylon. It is the modern Behat or Jilam.

I could identify still more of these Vedic rivers, such as, for
instance, the Kubhâ, the Greek Cophen, the modern Kabul river;[220]
but the names which I have traced from the Veda to Alexander, and in
many cases from Alexander again to our own time, seem to me sufficient
to impress upon us the real and historical character of the Veda.
Suppose the Veda were a forgery--suppose at least that it had been put
together after the time of Alexander--how could we explain these
names? They are names that have mostly a meaning in Sanskrit, they are
names corresponding very closely to their Greek corruptions, as
pronounced and written down by people who did not know Sanskrit. How
is a forgery possible here?

I selected this hymn for two reasons. First, because it shows us the
widest geographical horizon of the Vedic poets, confined by the snowy
mountains in the north, the Indus and the range of the Suleiman
mountains in the west, the Indus or the seas in the south, and the
valley of the Jumna and Ganges in the east. Beyond that, the world,
though open, was unknown to the Vedic poets. Secondly, because the
same hymn gives us also a kind of historical background to the Vedic
age. These rivers, as we may see them to-day, as they were seen by
Alexander and his Macedonians, were seen also by the Vedic poets. Here
we have an historical continuity--almost living witnesses, to tell us
that the people whose songs have been so strangely, ay, you may almost
say, so miraculously preserved to us, were real people, lairds with
their clans, priests, or rather, servants of their gods, shepherds
with their flocks, dotted about on the hills and valleys, with
inclosures or palisades here and there, with a few strongholds, too,
in case of need--living their short life on earth, as at that time
life might be lived by men, without much pushing and crowding and
trampling on each other--spring, summer, and winter leading them on
from year to year, and the sun in his rising and setting lifting up
their thoughts from their meadows and groves which they loved, to a
world in the East, from which they had come, or to a world in the
West, to which they were gladly hastening on. They had what I call
religion, though it was very simple, and hardly reduced as yet to the
form of a creed. "There is a Beyond," that was all they felt and knew,
though they tried, as well as they could, to give names to that
Beyond, and thus to change religion into _a_ religion. They had not as
yet a name for God--certainly not in our sense of the word--or even a
general name for the gods; but they invented name after name to enable
them to grasp and comprehend by some outward and visible tokens powers
whose presence they felt in nature, though their true and full essence
was to them, as it is to us, invisible and incomprehensible.


[Footnote 150: Wilson, Lectures, p. 9.]

[Footnote 151: As it has been doubted, and even denied, that the
publication of the Rig-Veda and its native commentary has had some
important bearing on the resuscitation of the religious life of India,
I feel bound to give at least one from the many testimonials which I
have received from India. It comes from the Âdi Brahma Samâj, founded
by Ram Mohun Roy, and now represented by its three branches, the Âdi
Brahma Samâj, the Brahma Samâj of India, and the Sadhârano Brahma
Samâj. "The Committee of the Âdi Brahma Samâj beg to offer you their
hearty congratulations on the completion of the gigantic task which
has occupied you for the last quarter of a century. By publishing the
Rig-Veda at a time when Vedic learning has by some sad fatality become
almost extinct in the land of its birth, you have conferred a boon
upon us Hindus, for which we cannot but be eternally grateful."]

[Footnote 152: Rig-Veda X. 114, 5.]

[Footnote 153: Rig-Veda X. 121.]

[Footnote 154: Muir, iv. 9.]

[Footnote 155: Rig-Veda I. 139, 11.]

[Footnote 156: Rig-Veda III. 6, 9.]

[Footnote 157: The following names of Devapatnîs or wives of the gods
are given in the Vaitâna Sûtra XV. 3 (ed. Garbe): P_ri_thivî, the wife
of Agni, Vâ_k_ of Vâta, Senâ of Indra, Dhenâ of B_ri_haspati, Pathyâ
of Pûshan, Gâyatrî of Vasu, Trish_t_ubh of Rudra, _G_agati of Âditya,
Anush_t_ubh of Mitra, Virâ_g_ of Varu_n_a, Pankti of Vish_n_u, Dîkshâ
of Soma.]

[Footnote 158: Rig-Veda III. 9, 9.]

[Footnote 159: Grimm showed that Thôrr is sometimes the supreme god,
while at other times he is the son of Ôdinn. This, as Professor Zimmer
truly remarks, need not be regarded as the result of a revolution, or
even of gradual decay, as in the case of Dyaus and Tŷr, but simply
as inherent in the character of a nascent polytheism. See Zeitschrift
für D. A., vol. xii. p. 174.]

[Footnote 160: "Among not yet civilized races prayers are addressed to
a god with a special object, and to that god who is supposed to be
most powerful in a special domain. He becomes for the moment the
highest god to whom all others must give place. He may be invoked as
the highest and the only god, without any slight being intended for
the other gods."--Zimmer, l. c. p. 175.]

[Footnote 161: "Es handelt sich hier nicht um amerikanische oder
afrikanische Zersplitterung, sondern eine überraschende
Gleichartigkeit dehnt sich durch die Weite und Breite des Stillen
Oceans, und wenn wir Oceanien in der vollen Auffassung nehmen mit
Einschluss Mikro-und Mela-nesiens (bis Malaya), selbst weiter. Es
lässt sich sagen, dass ein einheitlicher Gedankenbau, in etwa 120
Längen und 70 Breitegraden, ein Viertel unsers Erdglobus
überwölbt."--Bastian, Die Heilige Sage der Polynesier, p. 57.]

[Footnote 162: Henry S. King & Co., London, 1876.]

[Footnote 163: P. 58.]

[Footnote 164: There is a second version of the story even in the
small island of Mangaia; see "Myths and Songs," p. 71.]

[Footnote 165: See before, p. 158.]

[Footnote 166: This explanation is considered altogether inadequate by
many scholars. It is, of course, not altogether a question of
learning, but also one of judgment.--AM. PUBS.]

[Footnote 167: "The Sacred Books of the East," vol. i. p. 249: "The first
half is the earth, the second half the heaven, their uniting the rain, the
uniter Par_g_anya." And so it is when it (Par_g_anya) rains thus
strongly--without ceasing, day and night together--then they say also,
"Heaven and earth have come together."--From the Aitareya-Âra_n_yaka, III.
2, 2.--A. W.]

[Footnote 168: Bastian, Heilige Sage der Polynesier, p. 36.]

[Footnote 169: Bergaigne, "La Religion Védique," p. 240.]

[Footnote 170: Ait. Br. IV. 27; Muir, iv. p. 23.]

[Footnote 171: See Muir, iv. p. 24.]

[Footnote 172: Homer, Hymn xxx. 17.]

[Footnote 173: Χαἱρε θεῶν μἡτηρ, ἁλοχ' Ονρανον ἁστερὁεντος.]

[Footnote 174: Euripides, Chrysippus, fragm. 6 (edit. Didot, p. 824):

    Γαῖα μεγἱστη καὶ Διὸς αὶθἡρ,
    ό μὲν ὰνθρὡπων καὶ θεῶν γενἑτωρ,
    ἡ δ' ὑγροβόλους σταγόνας νοτἱους
    παραδεξαμἑνη τἱκτει θνατοὑς,
    τἱκτει δὲ βορὰν, φῦλἁ τε θηρῶν,
    ὁθεν οὺκ ἁδἱκως
    μἡτηρ πἁντων νενόμισται.]

[Footnote 175: Dionysius Halic., vol. v. p. 355; Muir, v. p. 27.]

[Footnote 176: Rig-Veda I. 22, 15.]

[Footnote 177: See "Lectures on the Science of Language," vol. ii. p.

[Footnote 178: Rig-Veda I. 160, 4.]

[Footnote 179: L. c. IV. 56, 3.]

[Footnote 180: L. c. VIII. 6, 5.]

[Footnote 181: L. c. III. 30, 5.]

[Footnote 182: L. c. III. 34, 8.]

[Footnote 183: L. c. III. 34, 8.]

[Footnote 184: L. c. VIII. 36, 4.]

[Footnote 185: L. c. X. 54, 3.]

[Footnote 186: Cf. IV. 17, 4, where Dyaus is the father of Indra; see
however Muir, iv. 31, note.]

[Footnote 187: Rig-Veda VI. 30, 1.]

[Footnote 188: L. c. I. 131, 1.]

[Footnote 189: L. c. IV. 17, 2.]

[Footnote 190: L. c. II. 40, 1.]

[Footnote 191: L. c. X. 121, 9.]

[Footnote 192: L. c. X. 190, 3.]

[Footnote 193: L. c. X. 81, 2.]

[Footnote 194: Rig-Veda VI. 70, 1.]

[Footnote 195: Rig-Veda X. 75. See Hibbert Lectures, Lect. iv.]

[Footnote 196: Vivasvat is a name of the sun, and the seat or home of
Vivasvat can hardly be anything but the earth, as the home of the sun,
or, in a more special sense, the place where a sacrifice is offered.]

[Footnote 197: I formerly translated yát vã_g_ân abhí ádrava_h_ tvám
by "when thou rannest for the prizes." Grassman had translated
similarly, "When thou, O Sindhu, rannest to the prize of the battle,"
while Ludwig wrote, "When thou, O Sindhu, wast flowing on to greater
powers." Vâ_g_a, connected with vegeo, vigeo, vigil, wacker (see
Curtius, Grundzüge, No. 159), is one of the many difficult words in
the Veda the general meaning of which may be guessed, but in many
places cannot yet be determined with certainty. Vâ_g_a occurs very
frequently, both in the singular and the plural, and some of its
meanings are clear enough. The Petersburg Dictionary gives the
following list of them--swiftness, race, prize of race, gain,
treasure, race-horse, etc. Here we perceive at once the difficulty of
tracing all these meanings back to a common source, though it might be
possible to begin with the meanings of strength, strife, contest,
race, whether friendly or warlike, then to proceed to what is won in a
race or in war, viz. booty, treasure, and lastly to take vâgâ_h_ in
the more general sense of acquisitions, goods, even goods bestowed as
gifts. We have a similar transition of meaning in the Greek ἁθλος,
contest, contest for a prize, and ἁθλον, the prize of contest, reward,
gift, while in the plural τἁ ἁθλα stands again for contest, or even
the place of combat. The Vedic vâ_g_ambhara may in fact be rendered by
ἁθλοφὑρος, vâ_g_asâti by ἁθλοσὑνη.

The transition from fight to prize is seen in passages such as:

Rig-Veda VI. 45, 12, vã_g_ân indra _s_ravãyyân tváyâ _g_eshna hitám
dhánam, "May we with thy help, O Indra, win the glorious fights, the
offered prize" (cf. ἁθλοθἑτης).

Rig-Veda VIII. 19, 18, té it vã_g_ebhi_h_ _g_igyu_h_ mahát dhánam,
"They won great-wealth by battles."

What we want for a proper understanding of our verse, are passages
where we have, as here, a movement toward vâ_g_as in the plural. Such
passages are few; for instance: X. 53, 8, átra _g_ahâma yé ásan
á_s_evâh _s_ivãn vayám út tarema abhí vâ_g_ân, "Let us leave here
those who were unlucky (the dead), and let us get up to lucky toils."
No more is probably meant here when the Sindhu is said to run toward
her vâ_g_as, that is, her struggles, her fights, her race across the
mountains with the other rivers.]

[Footnote 198: On _s_ushma, strength, see Rig-Veda, translation, vol.
i. p. 105. We find _s_ubhrám _s_ūshmam II. 11, 4; and iyarti with
_s_ūshmam IV. 17, 12.]

[Footnote 199: See Muir, Santkrit Texts, v. p. 344.]

[Footnote 200: "O Marudv_ri_dhâ with Asiknî, Vitastâ; O Âr_g_îkîyâ,
listen with the Sushomâ," _Ludwig_. "Asiknî and Vitastâ and
Marudv_ri_dhâ, with the Sushomâ, hear us, O Âr_g_îkîyâ," _Grassman._]

[Footnote 201: Marudv_ri_dhâ, a general name for river. According to
Roth the combined course of the Akesines and Hydaspes, _before_ the
junction with the Hydraotes; according to Ludwig, the river _after_
the junction with Hydraotes. Zimmer (Altindisches Leben, p. 12) adopts
Roth's, Kiepert in his maps follows Ludwig's opinion.]

[Footnote 202: According to Yâska, the Âr_g_îkîyâ is the Vipâ_s_.
Vivien de Saint-Martin takes it for the country watered by the Suwan,
the Soanos of Megasthenes.]

[Footnote 203: According to Yâska the Sushomâ is the Indus. Vivien de
Saint-Martin identifies it with the Suwan. Zimmer (l. c. p. 14) points
out that in Arrian, Indica, iv. 12, there is a various reading Soamos
for Soanos.]

[Footnote 204: "Chips from a German Workshop," vol. i. p. 157.]

[Footnote 205: Vâ_g_inîvatî is by no means an easy word. Hence all
translators vary, and none settles the meaning. Muir translates,
"yielding nutriment;" Zimmer, "having plenty of quick horses;" Ludwig,
"like a strong mare." Va_g_in, no doubt, means a strong horse, a
racer, but va_g_inî never occurs in the Rig-Veda in the sense of a
mare, and the text is not va_g_inîvat, but va_g_inîvatî. If vâ_g_inî
meant mare, we might translate rich in mares, but that would be a mere
repetition after sva_s_vâ, possessed of good horses. Va_g_inîvatî is
chiefly applied to Ushas, Sarasvatî, and here to the river Sindhu. It
is joined with va_g_ebhi_h_, Rig-Veda I. 3, 10, which, if vâ_g_inî
meant mare, would mean "rich in mares through horses." We also read,
Rig-Veda I. 48, 16, sám (na_h_ mimikshvá) vã_g_ai_h_ vâ_g_inîvati,
which we can hardly translate by "give us horses, thou who art
possessed of mares;" nor, Rig-Veda I. 92, 15, yúkshva hí vâ_g_inîvati
á_s_vân, "harness the horses, thou who art rich in mares." In most of
the passages where vâ_g_inîvatî occurs, the goddess thus addressed is
represented as rich, and asked to bestow wealth, and I should
therefore prefer to take vâ_g_ínî, as a collective abstract noun, like
tretínî, in the sense of wealth, originally booty, and to translate
vâ_g_inîvatî simply by rich, a meaning well adapted to every passage
where the word occurs.]

[Footnote 206: Ur_n_âvatî, rich in wool, probably refers to the flocks
of sheep for which the North-West of India was famous. See Rig-Veda I.
126, 7.]

[Footnote 207: Sîlamâvatî does not occur again in the Rig-Veda. Muir
translates, "rich in plants;" Zimmer, "rich in water;" Ludwig takes it
as a proper name. Sâya_n_a states that sîlamâ is a plant which is made
into ropes. That the meaning of sîlamâvatî was forgotten at an early
time we see by the Atharva-Veda III. 12, 2, substituting
sûn_ri_tâvatî, for sîlamâvatî, as preserved in the _S_ânkhâyana
G_ri_hya-sûtras, 3, 3. I think sîlamâ means straw, from whatever plant
it may be taken, and this would be equally applicable to a _s_âla, a
house, a sthû_n_a, a post, and to the river Indus. It may have been,
as Ludwig conjectures, an old local name, and in that case it may
possibly account for the name given in later times to the Suleiman

[Footnote 208: Madhuv_ri_dh is likewise a word which does not occur
again in the Rig-Veda. Sãya_n_a explains it by nirgu_n_di and similar
plants, but it is doubtful what plant is meant. Gu_n_da is the name of a
grass, madhuv_ri_dh therefore may have been a plant such as sugar-cane,
that yielded a sweet juice, the Upper Indus being famous for sugar-cane;
see Hiouen-thsang, II. p. 105. I take adhivaste with Roth in the sense
"she dresses herself," as we might say "the river is dressed in
heather." Muir translates, "she traverses a land yielding sweetness;"
Zimmer, "she clothes herself in Madhuv_ri_dh;" Ludwig, "the Sîlamâvatî
throws herself into the increaser of the honey-sweet dew." All this
shows how little progress can be made in Vedic scholarship by merely
translating either words or verses, without giving at the same time a
full justification of the meaning assigned to every single word.]

[Footnote 209: See Petersburg Dictionary, s. v. virap_s_in.]

[Footnote 210: "Among the Hottentots, the Kunene, Okavango, and Orange
rivers, all have the name of Garib, _i.e._ the Runner."--Dr. Theoph.
Hahn, _Cape Times_, July 11, 1882.]

[Footnote 211: _Deh_li, not _Del_-high.--A. W.]

[Footnote 212: Cunningham, "Archæological Survey of India," vol. xii.
p. 113.]

[Footnote 213: Pliny, Hist. Nat. vi. 20, 71: "Indus incolis Sindus

[Footnote 214: The history of these names has been treated by
Professor Lassen, in his "Indische Alterthumskunde," and more lately
by Professor Kaegi, in his very careful essay, "Der Rig-Veda," pp.
146, 147.]

[Footnote 215: Ptol. vii. 1, 29.]

[Footnote 216: Arrian, Indica, viii. 5.]

[Footnote 217: Rig-Veda III. 33, 1: "From the lap of the mountains
Vipâ_s_ and _S_utudrî rush forth with their water like two lusty mares
neighing, freed from their tethers, like two bright mother-cows
licking (their calf).

"Ordered by Indra and waiting his bidding you run toward the sea like
two charioteers; running together, as your waters rise, the one goes
into the other, you bright ones."]

[Footnote 218: Other classical names are Hypanis, Bipasis, and
Bibasis. Yâska identifies it with the Âr_g_îkîyâ.]

[Footnote 219: Cf. Nirukta IX. 26.]

[Footnote 220: "The first tributaries which join the Indus before its
meeting with the Kubhâ or the Kabul river cannot be determined. All
travellers in these northern countries complain of the continual
changes in the names of the rivers, and we can hardly hope to find
traces of the Vedic names in existence there after the lapse of three
or four thousand years. The rivers intended may be the Shauyook,
Ladak, Abba Seen, and Burrindu, and one of the four rivers, the Rasâ,
has assumed an almost fabulous character in the Veda. After the Indus
has joined the Kubhâ or the Kabul river, two names occur, the Gomatî
and Krumu, which I believe I was the first to identify with the modern
rivers the Gomal and Kurrum. (Roth, Nirukta, Erläuterungen, p. 43,
Anm.) The Gomal falls into the Indus, between Dera Ismael Khan and
Paharpore, and although Elphinstone calls it a river only during the
rainy season, Klaproth (Foe-koue-ki, p. 23) describes its upper course
as far more considerable, and adds: 'Un peu à l'est de Sirmágha, le
Gomal traverse la chaîne de montagnes de Solimán, passe devant Raghzi,
et fertilise le pays habité par les tribus de Dauletkhail et de
Gandehpour. Il se dessèche au défilé de Pezou, et son lit ne se
remplit plus d'eau que dans la saison des pluies; alors seulement il
rejoint la droite de l'Indus, au sud-est de bourg de Paharpour.' The
Kurrum falls into the Indus north of the Gomal, while, according to
the poet, we should expect it south. It might be urged that poets are
not bound by the same rules as geographers, as we see, for instance,
in the verse immediately preceding. But if it should be taken as a
serious objection, it will be better to give up the Gomatî than the
Krumu, the latter being the larger of the two, and we might then take
Gomatî, 'rich in cattle,' as an adjective belonging to Krumu."--From a
review of General Cunningham's "Ancient Geography of India," in
_Nature_, 1871, Sept. 14.]



The next important phenomenon of nature which was represented in the
Veda as a terrestrial deity is Fire, in Sanskrit Agni, in Latin
_ignis_. In the worship which is paid to the Fire and in the high
praises bestowed on Agni we can clearly perceive the traces of a
period in the history of man in which not only the most essential
comforts of life, but life itself, depended on the knowledge of
producing fire. To us fire has become so familiar that we can hardly
form an idea of what life would be without it. But how did the ancient
dwellers on earth get command and possession of fire? The Vedic poets
tell us that fire first came to them from the sky, in the form of
lightning, but that it disappeared again, and that then Mâtari_s_van,
a being to a certain extent like Prometheus, brought it back and
confided it to the safe keeping of the clan of the Bh_r_igus

In other poems we hear of the mystery of fire being produced by
rubbing pieces of wood; and here it is a curious fact that the name of
the wood thus used for rubbing is in Sanskrit Pramantha, a word which,
as Kuhn has shown, would in Greek come very near to the name of
Prometheus. The possession of fire, whether by preserving it as sacred
on the hearth, or by producing it at pleasure with the fire-drill,
represents an enormous step in early civilization. It enabled people
to cook their meat instead of eating it raw; it gave them the power of
carrying on their work by night; and in colder climates it really
preserved them from being frozen to death. No wonder, therefore, that
the fire should have been praised and worshipped as the best and
kindest of gods, the only god who had come down from heaven to live on
earth, the friend of man, the messenger of the gods, the mediator
between gods and men, the immortal among mortals. He, it is said,
protects the settlements of the Aryans, and frightens away the
black-skinned enemies.

Soon, however, fire was conceived by the Vedic poets under the more
general character of light and warmth, and then the presence of Agni was
perceived, not only on the hearth and the altar, but in the Dawn, in the
Sun, and in the world beyond the Sun, while at the same time his power was
recognized as ripening, or as they called it, as cooking, the fruits of
the earth, and as supporting also the warmth and the life of the human
body. From that point of view Agni, like other powers, rose to the rank of
a Supreme God.[222] He is said to have stretched out heaven and
earth--naturally, because without his light heaven and earth would have
been invisible and undistinguishable. The next poet says that Agni held
heaven aloft by his light, that he kept the two worlds asunder; and in the
end Agni is said to be the progenitor and father of heaven and earth, and
the maker of all that flies, or walks, or stands, or moves on earth.

Here we have once more the same process before our eyes. The human
mind begins with being startled by a single or repeated event, such as
the lightning striking a tree and devouring a whole forest, or a
spark of fire breaking forth from wood being rubbed against wood,
whether in a forest, or in the wheel of a carriage, or at last in a
fire-drill, devised on purpose. Man then begins to wonder at what to
him is a miracle, none the less so because it is a fact, a simple,
natural fact. He sees the effects of a power, but he can only guess at
its cause, and if he is to speak of it, he can only do so by speaking
of it as an agent, or as something like a human agent, and, if in some
respects not quite human, in others more than human or superhuman.
Thus the concept of Fire grew; and while it became more and more
generalized, it also became more sublime, more incomprehensible, more
divine. Without Agni, without fire, light, and warmth, life would have
been impossible. Hence he became the author and giver of life, of the
life of plants and animals and of men; and his favor having once been
implored for "light and life and all things," what wonder that in the
minds of some poets, and in the traditions of this or that
village-community he should have been raised to the rank of a supreme
ruler, a god above all gods, their own true god!

       *       *       *       *       *

We now proceed to consider the powers which the ancient poets might
have discovered in the air, in the clouds, and, more particularly, in
those meteoric conflicts which by thunder, lightning, darkness,
storms, and showers of rain must have taught man that very important
lesson that he was not alone in this world. Many philosophers, as you
know, believe that all religion arose from fear or terror, and that
without thunder and lightning to teach us, we should never have
believed in any gods or god. This is a one-sided and exaggerated view.
Thunderstorms, no doubt, had a large share in arousing feelings of
awe and terror, and in making man conscious of his weakness and
dependence. Even in the Veda, Indra is introduced as saying: "Yes,
when I send thunder and lightning, then you believe in me." But what
we call religion would never have sprung from fear and terror alone.
_Religion is trust_, and that trust arose in the beginning from the
impressions made on the mind and heart of man by the order and wisdom
of nature, and more particularly by those regularly recurring events,
the return of the sun, the revival of the moon, the order of the
seasons, the law of cause and effect, gradually discovered in all
things, and traced back in the end to a cause of all causes, by
whatever name we choose to call it.

Still the meteoric phenomena had, no doubt, their important share in
the production of ancient deities; and in the poems of the Vedic
Rishis they naturally occupy a very prominent place. If we were asked
who was the principal god of the Vedic period, we should probably,
judging from the remains of that poetry which we possess, say it was
Indra, the god of the blue sky, the Indian Zeus, the gatherer of the
clouds, the giver of rain, the wielder of the thunder-bolt, the
conqueror of darkness, and of all the powers of darkness, the bringer
of light, the source of freshness, vigor, and life, the ruler and lord
of the whole world. Indra is this, and much more in the Veda. He is
supreme in the hymns of many poets, and may have been so in the
prayers addressed to him by many of the ancient septs or village
communities in India. Compared with him the other gods are said to be
decrepit old men. Heaven, the old Heaven or Dyaus, formerly the father
of all the gods, nay the father of Indra himself, bows before him, and
the Earth trembles at his approach. Yet Indra never commanded the
permanent allegiance of all the other gods, like Zeus and Jupiter;
nay, we know from the Veda itself that there were skeptics, even at
that early time, who denied that there was any such thing as

By the side of Indra, and associated with him in his battles, and
sometimes hardly distinguishable from him, we find the representatives
of the wind, called Vâta or Vâyu, and the more terrible storm-gods,
the Maruts, literally the Smashers.

When speaking of the Wind, a poet says:[224] "Where was he born?
Whence did he spring? the life of the gods, the germ of the world!
That god moves about where he listeth, his voices are heard, but he is
not to be seen."

The Maruts are more terrible than Vâta, the wind. They are clearly the
representatives of such storms as are known in India, when the air is
darkened by dust and clouds, when in a moment the trees are stripped
of their foliage, their branches shivered, their stems snapped, when
the earth seems to reel and the mountains to shake, and the rivers are
lashed into foam and fury. Then the poet sees the Maruts approaching
with golden helmets, with spotted skins on their shoulders,
brandishing golden spears, whirling their axes, shooting fiery arrows,
and cracking their whips amid thunder and lightning. They are the
comrades of Indra, sometimes, like Indra, the sons of Dyaus or the
sky, but also the sons of another terrible god, called Rudra, or the
Howler, a fighting god, to whom many hymns are addressed. In him a new
character is evolved, that of a healer and saviour--a very natural
transition in India, where nothing is so powerful for dispelling
miasmas, restoring health, and imparting fresh vigor to man and
beast, as a thunderstorm, following after weeks of heat and drought.

All these and several others, such as Par_g_anya and the _Ri_bhus, are
the gods of mid-air, the most active and dramatic gods, ever present
to the fancy of the ancient poets, and in several cases the prototypes
of later heroes, celebrated in the epic poems of India. In battles,
more particularly, these fighting gods of the sky were constantly
invoked.[225] Indra is the leader in battles, the protector of the
bright Aryans, the destroyer of the black aboriginal inhabitants of
India. "He has thrown down fifty thousand black fellows," the poet
says, "and their strongholds crumbled away like an old rag." Strange
to say, Indra is praised for having saved his people from their
enemies, much as Jehovah was praised by the Jewish prophets. Thus we
read in one hymn that when Sudâs, the pious king of the T_ri_tsus, was
pressed hard in his battle with the ten kings, Indra changed the flood
into an easy ford, and thus saved Sudâs.

In another hymn we read:[226] "Thou hast restrained the great river
for the sake of Turvîtî Vâyya: the flood moved in obedience to thee,
and thou madest the rivers easy to cross." This is not very different
from the Psalmist (78:13): "He divided the sea, and caused them to
pass through; and he made the waters to stand as an heap."

And there are other passages which have reminded some students of the
Veda of Joshua's battle,[227] when the sun stood still and the moon
stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies.
For we read in the Veda also, as Professor Kaegi has pointed out (l.
c. p. 63), that "Indra lengthened the days into the night," and that
"the Sun unharnessed its chariot in the middle of the day."[228]

In some of the hymns addressed to Indra his original connection with
the sky and the thunderstorm seems quite forgotten. He has become a
spiritual god, the only king of all worlds and all people,[229] who
sees and hears everything,[230] nay, who inspires men with their best
thoughts. No one is equal to him, no one excels him.

The name of Indra is peculiar to India, and must have been formed after
the separation of the great Aryan family had taken place, for we find it
neither in Greek, nor in Latin, nor in German. There are Vedic gods, as
I mentioned before, whose names must have been framed before that
separation, and which occur therefore, though greatly modified in
character, sometimes in Greek, sometimes in Latin, sometimes in the
Celtic, Teutonic, and Slavonic dialects. D y a u s, for instance, is the
same word as Zeus or Jupiter, U s h a s is Eos, N a k t â is Nyx, S û r
y a is Helios, A g n i is ignis, B h a g a is Baga in Old Persian, B o g
ǔ in Old Slavonic, V a r u _n_ a is Uranos, V â t a is Wotan, V â _k_ is
vox, and in the name of the _Maruts_, or the storm-gods, the germs of
the Italic god of war, Mars, have been discovered. Besides these direct
coincidences, some indirect relations have been established between
Hermes and S â r a m e y a, Dionysos and D y u n i _s_ y a, Prometheus
and p r a m a n t h a, Orpheus and _R i_ b h u, Erinnys and S â r a _n_
y u, Pân and P a v a ṇ a.[231]

But while the name of Indra as the god of the sky, also as the god of
the thunderstorm, and the giver of rain, is unknown among the
north-western members of the Aryan family, the name of another god who
sometimes acts the part of Indra (Indra_h_ Par_g_anyâtmâ), but is much
less prominent in the Veda, I mean Par_g_anya, must have existed
before that of Indra, because two at least of the Aryan languages have
carried it, as we shall see, to Germany, and to the very shores of the

Sometimes this Par_g_anya stands in the place of Dyaus, the sky. Thus
we read in the Atharva-Veda, XII. 1, 12:[232] "The Earth is the
mother, and I am the son of the Earth. Par_g_anya is the father; may
he help us!"

In another place (XII. 1, 42) the Earth, instead of being the wife of
Heaven or Dyaus, is called the wife of Par_g_anya.

Now who or what is this Par_g_anya? There have been long controversies
about him,[233] as to whether he is the same as Dyaus, Heaven, or the
same as Indra, the successor of Dyaus, whether he is the god of the
sky, of the cloud, or of the rain.

To me it seems that this very expression, god of the sky, god of the
cloud, is so entire an anachronism that we could not even translate it
into Vedic Sanskrit without committing a solecism. It is true, no doubt,
we must use our modern ways of speaking when we wish to represent the
thoughts of the ancient world; but we cannot be too much on our guard
against accepting the dictionary representative of an ancient word for
its real counterpart. Deva, no doubt, means "gods" and "god," and P a r
_g_ a n y a means "cloud," but no one could say in Sanskrit p a r _g_ a
n y a s y a d e v a _h_, "the god of the cloud." The god, or the divine,
or transcendental element, does not come from without, to be added to
the cloud or to the sky or to the earth, but it springs from the cloud
and the sky and the earth, and is slowly elaborated into an independent
concept. As many words in ancient languages have an undefined meaning,
and lend themselves to various purposes according to the various
intentions of the speakers, the names of the gods also share in this
elastic and plastic character of ancient speech. There are passages
where Par_g_anya means cloud, there are passages where it means rain.
There are passages where Par_g_anya takes the place which elsewhere is
filled by Dyaus, the sky, or by Indra, the active god of the atmosphere.
This may seem very wrong and very unscientific to the scientific
mythologist. But it cannot be helped. It is the nature of ancient
thought and ancient language to be unscientific, and we must learn to
master it as well as we can, instead of finding fault with it, and
complaining that our forefathers did not reason exactly as we do.

There are passages in the Vedic hymns where Par_g_anya appears as a
supreme god. He is called father, like Dyaus, the sky. He is called
a s u r a, the living or life-giving god, a name peculiar to the oldest
and the greatest gods. One poet says,[234] "He rules as god over the
whole world; all creatures rest in him; he is the life (âtmâ) of all
that moves and rests."

Surely it is difficult to say more of a supreme god than what is here
said of Par_g_anya. Yet in other hymns he is represented as performing
his office, namely that of sending rain upon the earth, under the
control of Mitra and Varu_n_, who are then considered as the highest
lords, the mightiest rulers of heaven and earth.[235]

There are other verses, again, where par_g_anya occurs with hardly any
traces of personality, but simply as a name of cloud or rain.

Thus we read:[236] "Even by day the Maruts (the storm-gods) produce
darkness with the cloud that carries water, when they moisten the
earth." Here cloud is par_g_anya, and it is evidently used as an
appellative, and not as a proper name. The same word occurs in the
plural also, and we read of many par_g_anyas or clouds vivifying the

When Devapi prays for rain in favor of his brother, he says:[238] "O
lord of my prayer (B_ri_haâpati), whether thou be Mitra or Varu_n_a or
Pûshan, come to my sacrifice! Whether thou be together with the
Âdityas, the Vasus or the Maruts, let the cloud (par_g_anya) rain for

And again: "Stir up the rainy cloud" (par_g_anya).

In several places it makes no difference whether we translate
par_g_anya by cloud or by rain, for those who pray for rain, pray for
the cloud, and whatever may be the benefits of the rain, they may
nearly all be called the benefits of the cloud. There is a curious
hymn, for instance, addressed to the frogs who, at the beginning of
the rains, come forth from the dry ponds, and embrace each other and
chatter together, and whom the poet compares to priests singing at a
sacrifice, a not very complimentary remark from a poet who is himself
supposed to have been a priest. Their voice is said to have been
revived by par_g_anya, which we shall naturally translate "by rain,"
though, no doubt, the poet may have meant, for all we know, either a
cloud, or even the god Par_g_anya himself.

I shall try to translate one of the hymns addressed to Par_g_anya,
when conceived as a god, or at least as so much of a god as it was
possible to be at that stage in the intellectual growth of the human

     1. "Invoke the strong god with these songs! praise
     Par_g_anya, worship him with veneration! for he, the roaring
     bull, scattering drops, gives seed-fruit to plants.

     2. "He cuts the trees asunder, he kills evil spirits; the
     whole world trembles before his mighty weapon. Even the
     guiltless flees before the powerful, when Par_g_anya
     thundering strikes down the evil-doers.

     3. "Like a charioteer, striking his horses with a whip, he
     puts forths his messenger of rain. From afar arise the
     roarings of the lion, when Par_g_anya makes the sky full of

     4. "The winds blow, the lightnings[240] fly, plants spring
     up, the sky pours. Food is produced for the whole world,
     when Par_g_anya blesses the earth with his seed.

     5. "O Par_g_anya, thou at whose work the earth bows down,
     thou at whose work hoofed animals are scattered, thou at
     whose work the plants assume all forms, grant thou to us thy
     great protection!

     6. "O, Maruts, give us the rain of heaven, make the streams
     of the strong horse run down! And come thou hither with thy
     thunder, pouring out water, for thou (O Par_g_anya) art the
     living god, thou art our father.

     7. "Do thou roar, and thunder, and give fruitfulness! Fly
     around us with thy chariot full of water! Draw forth thy
     water-skin, when it has been opened and turned downward, and
     let the high and the low places become level!

     8. "Draw up the large bucket, and pour it out; let the
     streams pour forth freely! Soak heaven and earth with
     fatness! and let there be a good draught for the cows!

     9. "O Par_g_anya, when roaring and thundering thou killest
     the evil-doers, then everything rejoices, whatever lives on

     10. "Thou hast sent rain, stop now! Thou hast made the
     deserts passable, thou hast made plants grow for food, and
     thou hast obtained praise from men."

This is a Vedic hymn, and a very fair specimen of what these ancient
hymns are. There is nothing very grand and poetical about them, and
yet, I say, take thousands and thousands of people living in our
villages, and depending on rain for their very life, and not many of
them will be able to compose such a prayer for rain, even though three
thousand years have passed over our heads since Par_g_anya was first
invoked in India. Nor are these verses entirely without poetical
conceptions and descriptions. Whoever has watched a real thunderstorm
in a hot climate will recognize the truth of those quick sentences:
"the winds blow, the lightnings fly, plants spring up, the hoofed
cattle are scattered." Nor is the idea without a certain drastic
reality, that Par_g_anya draws a bucket of water from his well in
heaven, and pours out skin after skin (in which water was then
carried) down upon the earth.

There is even a moral sentiment perceptible in this hymn. "When the
storms roar, and the lightnings flash and the rain pours down, even
the guiltless trembles, and evil-doers are struck down." Here we
clearly see that the poet did not look upon the storm simply as an
outbreak of the violence of nature, but that he had a presentiment of
a higher will and power which even the guiltless fears; for who, he
seems to say, is entirely free from guilt?

If now we ask again, Who is Par_g_anya? or What is Par_g_anya? we can
answer that par_g_anya was meant originally for the cloud, so far as
it gives rain; but as soon as the idea of a giver arose, the visible
cloud became the outward appearance only, or the body of that giver,
and the giver himself was somewhere else, we know not where. In some
verses Par_g_anya seems to step into the place of Dyaus, the sky, and
P_ri_thivî, the earth, is his wife. In other places,[241] however, he
is the son of Dyaus or the sky, though no thought is given in that
early stage to the fact that thus Par_g_anya might seem to be the
husband of his mother. We saw that even the idea of Indra being the
father of his own father did not startle the ancient poets beyond an
exclamation that it was a very wonderful thing indeed.

Sometimes Par_g_anya does the work of Indra,[242] the Jupiter Pluvius
of the Veda; sometimes of Vâyu, the wind, sometimes of Soma, the giver
of rain. Yet with all this he is not Dyaus, nor Indra, nor the Maruts,
nor Vâyu, nor Soma. He stands by himself, a separate person, a
separate god, as we should say--nay, one of the oldest of all the
Aryan gods.

His name, par_g_anya, is derived from a root par_g_, which, like its
parallel forms pars and parsh, must (I think) have had the meaning of
sprinkling, irrigating, moistening. An interchange between final _g_,
_s_, and sh, may, no doubt, seem unusual, but it is not without parallel
in Sanskrit. We have, for instance, the roots pi_ñg_, pingere; pish, to
rub; pi_s_, to adorn (as in pe_s_as, ποικἱλος, etc.); m_rig_, to rub,
m_ri_sh, to rub out, to forget; m_ris_, mulcere.

This very root m_rig_ forms its participle as m_ri_sh-_t_a, like
ya_g_, ish_t_a, and vi_s_, vish_t_a; nay there are roots, such as
druh, which optionally take a final lingual or guttural, such as
dhru_t_ and dhruk.[243]

We may therefore compare par_g_ in par_g_anya with such words as
p_ri_shata, p_ri_shatî, speckled, drop of water;[244] also par_s_u,
cloud, p_ris_ni, speckled, cloud, earth; and in Greek πρόξ(ω),
περκνός, etc.[245]

If derived from par_g_, to sprinkle, Par_g_anya would have meant
originally "he who irrigates or gives rain."[246]

When the different members of the Aryan family dispersed, they might
all of them, Hindus as well as Greeks and Celts, and Teutons and
Slaves, have carried that name for cloud with them. But you know that
it happened very often that out of the commonwealth of their ancient
language, one and the same word was preserved, as the case might be,
not by all, but by only six, or five, or four, or three, or two, or
even by one only of the seven principal heirs; and yet, as we know
that there was no historical contact between them, after they had once
parted from each other, long before the beginning of what we call
history, the fact that two of the Aryan languages have preserved the
same finished word with the same finished meaning, is proof sufficient
that it belonged to the most ancient treasure of Aryan thought.

Now there is no trace, at least no very clear trace, of Par_g_anya, in
Greek, or Latin, or Celtic, or even in Teutonic. In Slavonic, too, we
look in vain, till we come to that almost forgotten side-branch called
the _Lettic_, comprising the spoken _Lituanian_ and _Lettish_, and the
now extinct _Old Prussian_. Lituania is no longer an independent
state, but it was once, not more than six centuries ago, a Grand
Duchy, independent both of Russia and Poland. Its first Grand Duke was
Ringold, who ruled from 1235, and his successors made successful
conquests against the Russians. In 1368 these grand dukes became kings
of Poland, and in 1569 the two countries were united. When Poland was
divided between Russia and Prussia, part of Lituania fell to the
former, part to the latter. There are still about one million and a
half of people who speak Lituanian in Russia and Prussia, while
Lettish is spoken by about one million in Curland and Livonia.

The Lituanian language even as it is now spoken by the common people,
contains some extremely primitive grammatical forms--in some cases
almost identical with Sanskrit. These forms are all the more curious,
because they are but few in number, and the rest of the language has
suffered much from the wear and tear of centuries.

Now in that remote Lituanian language we find that our old friend
Par_g_anya has taken refuge. There he lives to the present day, while
even in India he is almost forgotten, at least in the spoken
languages; and there, in Lituania, not many centuries back might be
heard among a Christianized or nearly Christianized people, prayers
for rain, not very different from that which I translated to you from
the Rig-Veda. In Lituanian the god of thunder was called
_Perkúnas_,[247] and the same word is still used in the sense of
thunder. In Old Prussian, thunder was _percunos_, and in Lettish to
the present day _pérkons_ is thunder, god of thunder.[248]

It was, I believe, Grimm who for the first time identified the Vedic
Par_g_anya with the Old Slavonic Perûn, the Polish Piorun, the
Bohemian Peraun. These words had formerly been derived by Dobrovsky
and others from the root peru, I strike. Grimm ("Teutonic Mythology,"
Engl. transl., p. 171) showed that the fuller forms Perkunas,
Pehrkons, and Perkunos existed in Lituanian, Lettish, Old Prussian,
and that even the Mordvinians had adopted the name Porguini as that of
their thunder-god.

Simon Grunau, who finished his chronicle in 1521, speaks of three
gods, as worshipped by the Old Prussians, Patollo, Patrimpo, and
Perkuno, and he states that Perkuno was invoked "for storm's sake,
that they might have rain and fair weather at the proper time, and
thunder and lightning should not injure them."[249]

The following Lituanian prayer has been preserved to us by

     "Check thyself, O Percuna, and do not send misfortune on my
     field! and I shall give thee this flitch."

Among the neighbors of the Lets, the Esthonians, who, though un-Aryan
in language, have evidently learned much from their Aryan neighbors,
the following prayer was heard,[251] addressed by an old peasant to
their god _Picker_ or _Picken_, the god of thunder and rain, as late
as the seventeenth century.[252]

     "Dear Thunder (woda Picker), we offer to thee an ox that has
     two horns and four cloven hoofs; we would pray thee for our
     ploughing and sowing, that our straw be copper-red, our
     grain golden-yellow. Push elsewhere all the thick black
     clouds, over great fens, high forests, and wildernesses. But
     unto us, ploughers and sowers, give a fruitful season and
     sweet rain. Holy Thunder (pöha Picken), guard our
     seed-field, that it bear good straw below, good ears above,
     and good grain within."[253]

Now, I say again, I do not wish you to admire this primitive poetry,
primitive, whether it is repeated in the Esthonian fens in the
seventeenth century of our era, or sung in the valley of the Indus in
the seventeenth century before our era. Let æsthetic critics say what
they like about these uncouth poems. I only ask you, Is it not worth a
great many poems, to have established this fact, that the same god
Par_g_anya, the god of clouds and thunder and lightning and rain, who
was invoked in India a thousand years before India was discovered by
Alexander, should have been remembered and believed in by Lituanian
peasants on the frontier between East Prussia and Russia, not more
than two hundred years ago, and should have retained its old name
Par_g_anya, which in Sanskrit meant "showering," under the form of
_Perkuna_, which in Lituanian is a name and a name only, without any
etymological meaning at all; nay, should live on, as some scholars
assure us, in an abbreviated form in most Slavonic dialects, namely,
in Old Slavonic as _Perun_, in Polish as _Piorun_, in Bohemian as
_Peraun_, all meaning thunder or thunderstorm?[254]

Such facts strike me as if we saw the blood suddenly beginning to flow
again through the veins of old mummies; or as if the Egyptian statues
of black granite were suddenly to begin to speak again. Touched by the
rays of modern science the old words--call them mummies or
statues--begin indeed to live again, the old names of gods and heroes
begin indeed to speak again.

All that is old becomes new, all that is new becomes old, and that one
word, Par_g_anya, seems, like a charm, to open before our eyes the
cave or cottage in which the fathers of the Aryan race, our own
fathers--whether we live on the Baltic or on the Indian Ocean--are
seen gathered together, taking refuge from the buckets of Par_g_anya,
and saying, "Stop now, Par_g_anya; thou hast sent rain; thou hast made
the deserts passable, and hast made the plants to grow; and thou hast
obtained praise from man."

       *       *       *       *       *

We have still to consider the third class of gods, in addition to the
gods of the earth and the sky, namely the gods of the highest heaven,
more serene in their character than the active and fighting gods of
the air and the clouds, and more remote from the eyes of man, and
therefore more mysterious in the exercise of their power than the gods
of the earth or the air.

The principal deity is here no doubt the bright sky itself, the old
_Dyaus_, worshipped as we know by the Aryans before they broke up into
separate people and languages, and surviving in Greece as Zeus, in
Italy as Jupiter, Heaven-father, and among the Teutonic tribes as
_Tŷr_ and _Tiu_. In the Veda we saw him chiefly invoked in
connection with the earth, as Dyâvâ-p_ri_thivî, Heaven and Earth. He
is invoked by himself also, but he is a vanishing god, and his place
is taken in most of the Vedic poems by the younger and more active
god, _Indra_.

Another representative of the highest heaven, as covering, embracing,
and shielding all things, is Varu_n_a, a name derived from the root
var, to cover, and identical with the Greek _Ouranos_. This god is one
of the most interesting creations of the Hindu mind, because though
we can still perceive the physical background from which he rises, the
vast, starry, brilliant expanse above, his features, more than those
of any of the Vedic gods, have become completely transfigured, and he
stands before us as a god who watches over the world, punishes the
evil-doer, and even forgives the sins of those who implore his pardon.

I shall read you one of the hymns addressed to him:[255]

     "Let us be blessed in thy service, O Varu_n_a, for we always
     think of thee and praise thee, greeting thee day by day,
     like the fires lighted on the altar, at the approach of the
     rich dawns."    2.

     "O Varu_n_a, our guide, let us stand in thy keeping, thou
     who art rich in heroes and praised far and wide! And you,
     unconquered sons of Aditi, deign to accept us as your
     friends, O gods!"    3.

     "Âditya, the ruler, sent forth these rivers; they follow the
     law of Varu_n_a. They tire not, they cease not; like birds
     they fly quickly everywhere."    4.

     "Take from me my sin, like a fetter, and we shall increase,
     O Varu_n_a, the spring of thy law. Let not the thread be cut
     while I weave my song! Let not the form of the workman break
     before the time!    5.

     "Take far away from me this terror, O Varu_n_a; Thou, O
     righteous king, have mercy on me! Like as a rope from a
     calf, remove from me my sin; for away from thee I am not
     master even of the twinkling of an eye."    6.

     "Do not strike us, Varu_n_a, with weapons which at thy will
     hurt the evil-doer. Let us not go where the light has
     vanished! Scatter our enemies, that we may live."    7.

     "We did formerly, O Varu_n_a, and do now, and shall in
     future also, sing praises to thee, O mighty one! For on
     thee, unconquerable hero, rest all statutes, immovable, as
     if established on a rock."    8.

     "Move far away from me all self-committed guilt, and may I
     not, O king, suffer for what others have committed! Many
     dawns have not yet dawned; grant us to live in them, O
     Varu_n_a."    9.

You may have observed that in several verses of this hymn Varu_n_a was
called Âditya, or son of Aditi. Now Aditi means _infinitude_, from
_dita_, bound, and _a_, not, that is, not bound, not limited,
absolute, infinite. Aditi itself is now and then invoked in the Veda,
as the Beyond, as what is beyond the earth and the sky, and the sun
and the dawn--a most surprising conception in that early period of
religious thought. More frequently, however, than Aditi, we meet with
the Âdityas, literally the sons of Aditi, or the gods beyond the
visible earth and sky--in one sense, the infinite gods. One of them is
Varu_n_a, others Mitra and Aryaman (Bhaga, Daksha, A_ms_a), most of
them abstract names, though pointing to heaven and the solar light of
heaven as their first, though almost forgotten source.

When Mitra and Varu_n_a are invoked together, we can still perceive
dimly that they were meant originally for day and night, light and
darkness. But in their more personal and so to say dramatic aspect,
day and night appear in the Vedic mythology as the two A_s_vins, the
two horsemen.

Aditi, too, the infinite, still shows a few traces of her being
originally connected with the boundless Dawn; but again, in her more
personal and dramatic character, the Dawn is praised by the Vedic
poets as Ushas, the Greek Eos, the beautiful maid of the morning,
loved by the A_s_vins, loved by the sun, but vanishing before him at
the very moment when he tries to embrace her with his golden rays. The
sun himself, whom we saw reflected several times before in some of the
divine personifications of the air and the sky and even of the earth,
appears once more in his full personality, as the sun of the sky,
under the names of Sûrya (Helios), Savit_ri_, Pûshan, and Vish_n_u,
and many more.

You see from all this how great a mistake it would be to attempt to
reduce the whole of Aryan mythology to solar concepts, and to solar
concepts only. We have seen how largely the earth, the air, and the
sky have each contributed their share to the earliest religious and
mythological treasury of the Vedic Aryans. Nevertheless, the Sun
occupied in that ancient collection of Aryan thought, which we call
Mythology, the same central and commanding position which, under
different names, it still holds in our own thoughts.

What we call the Morning, the ancient Aryans called the Sun or the
Dawn; "and there is no solemnity so deep to a rightly-thinking
creature as that of the Dawn." (These are not my words, but the words
of one of our greatest poets, one of the truest worshippers of
Nature--John Ruskin.) What we call Noon, and Evening, and Night, what
we call Spring and Winter, what we call Year, and Time, and Life, and
Eternity--all this the ancient Aryans called _Sun_. And yet wise
people wonder and say, How curious that the ancient Aryans should have
had so many solar myths. Why, every time we say "Good-morning," we
commit a solar myth. Every poet who sings about "the May driving the
Winter from the field again" commits a solar myth. Every "Christmas
number" of our newspapers--ringing out the old year and ringing in the
new--is brimful of solar myths. Be not afraid of solar myths, but
whenever in ancient mythology you meet with a name that, according to
the strictest phonetic rules (for this is a _sine qua non_), can be
traced back to a word meaning sun, or dawn, or morning, or night, or
spring or winter, accept it for what it was meant to be, and do not be
greatly surprised, if a story told of a solar eponymos was originally
a solar myth.

No one has more strongly protested against the extravagances of
comparative mythologists in changing everything into solar legends,
than I have; but if I read some of the arguments brought forward
against this new science, I confess they remind me of nothing so much
as of the arguments brought forward, centuries ago, against the
existence of Antipodes! People then appealed to what is called Common
Sense, which ought to teach everybody that Antipodes could not
possibly exist, because they would tumble off. The best answer that
astronomers could give, was, "Go and see." And I can give no better
answer to those learned skeptics who try to ridicule the Science of
Comparative Mythology--"Go and see!" that is, go and read the Veda,
and before you have finished the first Ma_nd_ala, I can promise you,
you will no longer shake your wise heads at solar myths, whether in
India, or in Greece, or in Italy, or even in England, where we see so
little of the sun, and talk all the more about the weather--that is,
about a solar myth.

We have thus seen from the hymns and prayers preserved to us in the
Rig-Veda, how a large number of so-called Devas, bright and sunny
beings, or gods, were called into existence, how the whole world was
peopled with them, and every act of nature, whether on the earth or in
the air or in the highest heaven, ascribed to their agency. When we
say _it_ thunders, they said Indra thunders; when we say, _it_ rains,
they said Par_g_anya pours out his buckets; when we say, _it_ dawns,
they said the beautiful Ushas appears like a dancer, displaying her
splendor; when we say; _it_ grows dark, they said Sûrya unharnesses
his steeds. The whole of nature was alive to the poets of the Veda,
the presence of the gods was felt everywhere, and in that sentiment of
the presence of the gods there was a germ of religious morality,
sufficiently strong, it would seem, to restrain people from committing
as it were before the eyes of their gods what they were ashamed to
commit before the eyes of men. When speaking of Varu_n_a, the old god
of the sky, one poet says:[256]

    "Varu_n_a, the great lord of these worlds, sees as if he were
    near. If a man stands or walks or hides, if he goes to lie
    down or to get up, what two people sitting together whisper
    to each other, King Varu_n_a knows it, he is there as the
    third.[257] This earth too belongs to Varu_n_a, the King, and
    this wide sky with its ends far apart. The two seas (the sky
    and the ocean) are Varu_n_a's loins; he is also contained in
    this small drop of water. He who should flee far beyond the
    sky, even he would not be rid of Varu_n_a, the King.[258] His
    spies proceed from heaven toward this world; with thousand
    eyes they overlook this earth. King Varu_n_a sees all this,
    what is between heaven and earth, and what is beyond. He has
    counted the twinklings of the eyes of men. As a player throws
    down the dice, he settles all things (irrevocably). May all
    thy fatal snares which stand spread out seven by seven and
    threefold, catch the man who tells a lie, may they pass by
    him who speaks the truth."

You see this is as beautiful, and in some respects as true, as
anything in the Psalms. And yet we know that there never was such a
Deva, or god, or such a thing as Varu_n_a. We know it is a mere name,
meaning originally "covering or all-embracing," which was applied to
the visible starry sky, and afterward, by a process perfectly
intelligible, developed into the name of a Being, endowed with human
and superhuman qualities.

And what applies to Varu_n_a applies to all the other gods of the Veda
and the Vedic religion, whether three in number, or thirty-three, or,
as one poet said, "three thousand three hundred and thirty-nine
gods."[259] They are all but names, quite as much as Jupiter and
Apollo and Minerva; in fact, quite as much as all the gods of every
religion who are called by such appellative titles.

Possibly, if any one had said this during the Vedic age in India, or
even during the Periklean age in Greece, he would have been called,
like Sokrates, a blasphemer or an atheist. And yet nothing can be
clearer or truer, and we shall see that some of the poets of the Veda
too, and, still more, the later Vedântic philosopher, had a clear
insight that it was so.

Only let us be careful in the use of that phrase "it is a mere name."
No name is a mere name. Every name was originally meant for something;
only it often failed to express what it was meant to express, and then
became a weak or an empty name, or what we then call "a mere name." So
it was with these names of the Vedic gods. They were all meant to
express the _Beyond_, the Invisible behind the Visible, the Infinite
within the Finite, the Supernatural above the Natural, the Divine,
omnipresent, and omnipotent. They failed in expressing what, by its
very nature, must always remain inexpressible. But that Inexpressible
itself remained, and in spite of all these failures, it never
succumbed, or vanished from the mind of the ancient thinkers and
poets, but always called for new and better names, nay calls for them
even now, and will call for them to the very end of man's existence
upon earth.


[Footnote 221: Muir, iv. p. 209]

[Footnote 222: Muir, iv. p. 214.]

[Footnote 223: Hibbert Lectures, p. 307.]

[Footnote 224: X. 168, 3, 4.]

[Footnote 225: See Kaegi, Rig-Veda, p. 61.]

[Footnote 226: Rig-Veda II. 13, 12; IV. 19, 6.]

[Footnote 227: Joshua x. 13.]

[Footnote 228: Rig-Veda IV. 30, 3; X. 138, 3.]

[Footnote 229: L. c. VIII. 37, 3.]

[Footnote 230: L. c. VIII. 78, 5.]

[Footnote 231: I am very strongly inclined to regard these names as
Kushite or Semitic; Hermes, from חרם, the sun; Dionysos,
from _dyan_, the judge, and _nisi_, mankind; Orpheus, from _Orfa_, the
Arabic name of Edessa; Prometheus, from _pro_ and _manthanô_, to
learn.--A. W.]

[Footnote 232: Muir, iv. p. 23.]

[Footnote 233: Ibid. p. 142. An excellent paper on Par_g_anya was
published by Bühler in 1862, "Orient und Occident," vol. i. p. 214.]

[Footnote 234: Rig-Veda VII. 101, 6.]

[Footnote 235: Rig-Veda V. 63, 3-6.]

[Footnote 236: L. c. I. 38, 9.]

[Footnote 237: L. c. I. 164, 51.]

[Footnote 238: L. c. X. 98, 1.]

[Footnote 239: Rig-Veda V. 83. See Bühler, "Orient und Occident," vol.
i. p. 214; Zimmer, "Altindisches Leben," p. 43.]

[Footnote 240: Both Bühler ("Orient und Occident," vol. i, p. 224) and
Zimmer (Z. f. D. A. vii. p. 169) say that the lightning is represented
as the son of Par_g_anya in Rig-Veda VII. 101, 1. This seems

[Footnote 241: Rig-Veda VII. 102, 1.]

[Footnote 242: L. c. VIII. 6, 1.]

[Footnote 243: See Max Müller, Sanskrit Grammar, § 174, 10.]

[Footnote 244: Cf. Gobh. G_ri_hyà S. III. 3, 15,

[Footnote 245: U_gg_valadatta, in his commentary on the
U_n_âdi-sûtras, iii. 103. admits the same transition of sh into _g_ in
the verb p_ri_sh, as the etymon of par_g_anya.]

[Footnote 246: For different etymologies, see Bühler, "Orient und
Occident," i. p. 214; Muir, "Original Sanskrit Texts," v. p. 140;
Grassmann, in his Dictionary to the Rig-Veda, s. v.; Zimmer,
"Zeitscrift für Deutsches Alterthum, Neue Folge," vii. p. 164.]

[Footnote 247: In order to identify Perkunas with Par_g_anya, we must
go another step backward, and look upon _g_ or g, in the root parg, as
a weakening of an original k in park. This, however, is a frequent
phonetic process. See Bühler, in Benfey's "Orient und Occident," ii.
p. 717.]

[Footnote 248: Lituanian perkun-kulke, thunder-bolt, perkuno gaisis,
storm. See Voelkel, "Die lettischen Sprachreste," 1879, p. 23.]

[Footnote 249: "Perkuno, war der dritte Abgott und man ihn anruffte
um's Gewitters willen, damit sie Regen hätten und schön wetter zu
seiner Zeit, und ihn der Donner und blix kein schaden thett." Cf.
"Gottesides bei den alten Preussen," Berlin, 1870, p. 23. The triad of
the gods is called Triburti, Tryboze; l. c. p. 29.]

[Footnote 250: Grimm, "Teutonic Mythology," p. 175; and Lasitzki
(Lasicius) "Joannes De Russorum, Moscovitarum et Tartarorum religione,
sacrificiis, nuptiarum et funerum ritu, Spiræ Nemetum," 1582; idem De
Diis Samagitarum.]

[Footnote 251: Grimm, l. c. p. 176, quoting from Joh. Gutslaff,
"Kurzer Bericht und Unterricht von der falsch heilig genannten Bäche
in Liefland Wöhhanda," Dorpat, 1644, pp. 362-364.]

[Footnote 252: In modern Esthonian Pitkne, the Finnish Pitcainen(?).]

[Footnote 253: On foreign influences in Esthonian stories, see
"Ehstniche Märchen," von T. Kreutzwald, 1869, Vorwort (by Schiefner),
p. iv.]

[Footnote 254: Grimm suggests in his "Teutonic Mythology" that
Par_g_anya should be identified with the Gothic fairguni, or mountain.
He imagines that from being regarded as the abode of the god it had
finally been called by his name. Ferg_unn_a and V_ir_gu_n_ià, two
names of mountains in Germany, are relics of the name. The name of the
god, if preserved in the Gothic, would have been Fairguneis; and
indeed in the Old Norse language Fiörgynn is the father of Frigg, the
wife of Odin, and Fiörgynnior, the Earth-goddess, is mother of Thor.
Professor Zimmer takes the same view. Grimm thinks that the Greeks and
Romans, by changing _f_ into _h_, represented Fergunni by Hercynia,
and, in fine, he traces the words _ber_g and _bur_g back to
Parganya.--A. W.]

[Footnote 255: Rig-Veda II. 28.]

[Footnote 256: Atharva-Veda IV. 16.]

[Footnote 257: Psalm cxxxix. 1, 2, "O Lord, thou hast searched me and
known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou
understandest my thought afar off."]

[Footnote 258: Psalm cxxxix. 9, "If I take the wings of the morning,
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand
lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me."]

[Footnote 259: Rig-veda III. 9, 9; X. 52, 6.]



I do not wonder that I should have been asked by some of my hearers to
devote part of my last lecture to answering the question, how the
Vedic literature could have been composed and preserved, if writing
was unknown in India before 500 B.C., while the hymns of the Rig-Veda
are said to date from 1500 B.C. Classical scholars naturally ask what
is the date of our oldest MSS. of the Rig-Veda, and what is the
evidence on which so high an antiquity is assigned to its contents. I
shall try to answer this question as well as I can, and I shall begin
with a humble confession that the oldest MSS. of the Rig-Veda, known
to us at present, date not from 1500 B.C., but from about 1500 A.D.

We have therefore a gap of three thousand years, which it will require
a strong arch of argument to bridge over.

But that is not all.

You may know how, in the beginning of this century, when the age of
the Homeric poems was discussed, a German scholar, Frederick August
Wolf, asked two momentous questions:

     1. At what time did the Greeks first become acquainted with
     the alphabet and use it for inscriptions on public
     monuments, coins, shields, and for contracts, both public
     and private?[260]

     2. At what time did the Greeks first think of using writing
     for literary purposes, and what materials did they employ
     for that purpose?

These two questions and the answers they elicited threw quite a new
light on the nebulous periods of Greek literature. A fact more firmly
established than any other in the ancient history of Greece is that
the Ionians learned the alphabet from the Phenicians. The Ionians
always called their letters Phenician letters,[261] and the very name
of Alphabet was a Phenician word. We can well understand that the
Phenicians should have taught the Ionians in Asia Minor a knowledge of
the alphabet, partly for commercial purposes, _i.e._ for making
contracts, partly for enabling them to use those useful little sheets,
called _Periplus_, or _Circumnavigations_, which at that time were as
precious to sailors as maps were to the adventurous seamen of the
middle ages. But from that to a written literature, in our sense of
the word, there is still a wide step. It is well known that the
Germans, particularly in the North, had their Runes for inscriptions
on tombs, goblets, public monuments, but not for literary
purposes.[262] Even if a few Ionians at Miletus and other centres of
political and commercial life acquired the art of writing, where could
they find writing materials? and still more important, where could
they find readers? The Ionians, when they began to write, had to be
satisfied with a hide or pieces of leather, which they called
_diphthera_, and until that was brought to the perfection of vellum
or parchment, the occupation of an author cannot have been very

So far as we know at present the Ionians began to write about the
middle of the sixth century B.C.; and, whatever may have been said to
the contrary, Wolf's _dictum_ still holds good that with them the
beginning of a written literature was the same as the beginning of
prose writing.

Writing at that time was an effort, and such an effort was made for
some great purpose only. Hence the first written skins were what we
should call Murray's Handbooks, called _Periegesis_ or _Periodos_, or,
if treating of sea-voyages, _Periplus_, that is, guide-books, books to
lead travellers round a country or round a town. Connected with these
itineraries were the accounts of the foundations of cities, the
_Ktisis_. Such books existed in Asia Minor during the sixth and fifth
centuries, and their writers were called by a general term,
_Logographi_, or λόγιοι or λογοποιοἱ,[264] as opposed to ὰοιδοἱ, the
poets. They were the forerunners of the Greek historians, and
Herodotus (443 B.C.), the so-called father of history, made frequent
use of their works.

The whole of this incipient literary activity belonged to Asia Minor.
From "Guides through towns and countries," literature seems to have
spread at an early time to Guides through life, or philosophical
dicta, such as are ascribed to Anaximander the Ionian (610-547
B.C.[265]), and Pherekydes the Syrian (540 B.C.). These names carry us
into the broad daylight of history, for Anaximander was the teacher of
Anaximenes, Anaximenes of Anaxagoras, and Anaxagoras of Perikles. At
that time writing was a recognized art, and its cultivation had been
rendered possible chiefly through trade with Egypt and the importation
of _papyros_. In the time of Æschylos (500 B.C.) the idea of writing
had become so familiar that he could use it again and again in
poetical metaphors,[266] and there seems little reason why we should
doubt that both Peisistratos (528 B.C.) and Polykrates of Samos (523
B.C.) were among the first collectors of Greek manuscripts.

In this manner the simple questions asked by Wolf helped to reduce the
history of ancient Greek literature to some kind of order,
particularly with reference to its first beginnings.

It would therefore seem but reasonable that the two first questions to
be asked by the students of Sanskrit literature should have been:

     1. At what time did the people of India become acquainted
     with an alphabet?

     2. At what time did they first use such alphabet for
     literary purposes?

Curiously enough, however, these questions remained in abeyance for a
long time, and, as a consequence, it was impossible to introduce even
the first elements of order into the chaos of ancient Sanskrit

I can here state a few facts only. There are no inscriptions to be
found anywhere in India before the middle of the third century B.C.
These inscriptions are Buddhist, put up during the reign of A_s_oka,
the grandson of _K_andragupta, who was the contemporary of Seleucus,
and at whose court in Patalibothra Megasthenes lived as ambassador of
Seleucus. Here, as you see, we are on historical ground. In fact,
there is little doubt that A_s_oka, the king who put up these
inscriptions in several parts of his vast kingdom, reigned from
259-222 B.C.

These inscriptions are written in two alphabets--one written from
right to left, and clearly derived from an Aramaæan, that is, a
Semitic alphabet; the other written from left to right, and clearly an
adaptation, and an artificial or systematic adaptation, of a Semitic
alphabet to the requirements of an Indian language. That second
alphabet became the source of all Indian alphabets, and of many
alphabets carried chiefly by Buddhist teachers far beyond the limits
of India, though it is possible that the earliest Tamil alphabet may
have been directly derived from the same Semitic source which supplied
both the _dextrorsum_ and the _sinistrorsum_ alphabets of India.

Here then we have the first fact--viz. that writing, even for
monumental purposes, was unknown in India before the third century

But writing for commercial purposes was known in India before that
time. Megasthenes was no doubt quite right when he said that the
Indians did not know letters,[268] that their laws were not written,
and that they administered justice from memory. But Nearchus, the
admiral of Alexander the Great, who sailed down the Indus (325 B.C.),
and was therefore brought in contact with the merchants frequenting
the maritime stations of India, was probably equally right in
declaring that "the Indians wrote letters on cotton that had been well
beaten together." These were no doubt commercial documents, contracts,
it may be, with Phenician or Egyptian captains, and they would prove
nothing as to the existence in India at that time of what we mean by a
written literature. In fact, Nearchus himself affirms what Megasthenes
said after him, namely that "the laws of the sophists in India were
not written." If, at the same time, the Greek travellers in India
speak of mile-stones, and of cattle marked by the Indians with various
signs and also with numbers, all this would perfectly agree with what
we know from other sources, that though the art of writing may have
reached India before the time of Alexander's conquest, its employment
for literary purposes cannot date from a much earlier time.

Here then we are brought face to face with a most startling fact.
Writing was unknown in India before the fourth century before Christ,
and yet we are asked to believe that the Vedic literature in its three
well-defined periods, the Mantra, Brâhma_n_a, and Sûtra periods, goes
back to at least a thousand years before our era.

Now the Rig-Veda alone, which contains a collection of ten books of
hymns addressed to various deities, consists of 1017 (1028) poems,
10,580 verses, and about 153,826 words.[269] How were these poems
composed--for they are composed in very perfect metre--and how, after
having been composed, were they handed down from 1500 before Christ to
1500 after Christ, the time to which most of our best Sanskrit MSS.

_Entirely by memory._[270] This may sound startling, but--what will
sound still more startling, and yet is a fact that can easily be
ascertained by anybody who doubts it--at the present moment, if every
MS. of the Rig-Veda were lost, we should be able to recover the whole
of it--from the memory of the _S_rotriyas in India. These native
students learn the Veda by heart, and they learn it from the mouth of
their Guru, never from a MS., still less from my printed edition--and
after a time they teach it again to their pupils.

I have had such students in my room at Oxford, who not only could
repeat these hymns, but who repeated them with the proper accents (for
the Vedic Sanskrit has accents like Greek), nay, who, when looking
through my printed edition of the Rig-Veda, could point out a misprint
without the slightest hesitation.

I can tell you more. There are hardly any various readings in our MSS.
of the Rig-Veda, but various schools in India have their own readings
of certain passages, and they hand down those readings with great
care. So, instead of collating MSS., as we do in Greek and Latin, I
have asked some friends of mine to collate those Vedic students, who
carry their own Rig-Veda in their memory, and to let me have the
various readings from these living authorities.

Here then we are not dealing with theories, but with facts, which
anybody may verify. The whole of the Rig-Veda, and a great deal more,
still exists at the present moment in the oral tradition of a number
of scholars who, if they liked, could write down every letter, and
every accent, exactly as we find them in our old MSS. Of course, this
learning by heart is carried on under a strict discipline; it is, in
fact, considered as a sacred duty. A native friend of mine, himself a
very distinguished Vedic scholar, tells me that a boy, who is to be
brought up as a student of the Rig-Veda, has to spend about eight
years in the house of his teacher. He has to learn ten books: first,
the hymns of the Rig-Veda; then a prose treatise on sacrifices, called
the Brâhma_n_a; then the so-called Forest-book or Âra_n_yaka; then the
rules on domestic ceremonies; and lastly, six treatises on
pronunciation, grammar, etymology, metre, astronomy, and ceremonial.

These ten books, it has been calculated, contain nearly 30,000 lines,
each line reckoned as thirty-two syllables.

A pupil studies every day during the eight years of his theological
apprenticeship, except on the holidays, which are called "non-reading
days." There being 360 days in a lunar year, the eight years would
give him 2880 days. Deduct from this 384 holidays, and you get 2496
working days during the eight years. If you divide the number of
lines, 30,000, by the number of working days, you get about twelve
lines to be learned each day, though much time is taken up, in
addition, for practising and rehearsing what has been learned before.

Now this is the state of things at present, though I doubt whether it
will last much longer, and I always impress on my friends in India,
and therefore impress on those also who will soon be settled as civil
servants in India, the duty of trying to learn all that can still be
learned from those living libraries. Much ancient Sanskrit lore will
be lost forever when that race of _S_rotriyas becomes extinct.

But now let us look back. About a thousand years ago a Chinese of the
name of I-tsing, a Buddhist, went to India to learn Sanskrit, in order
to be able to translate some of the sacred books of his own religion,
which were originally written in Sanskrit, into Chinese. He left China
in 671, arrived at Tâmralipti in India in 673, and went to the great
College and Monastery of Nâlanda, where he studied Sanskrit. He
returned to China in 695, and died in 703.[271]

In one of his works which we still possess in Chinese, he gives an
account of what he saw in India, not only among his own
co-religionists, the Buddhists, but likewise among the Brâhmans.[272]

Of the Buddhist priests he says that after they have learned to recite
the five and the ten precepts, they are taught the 400 hymns of
Mât_rik_eta, and afterward the 150 hymns of the same poet. When they
are able to recite these, they begin the study of the Sûtras of their
Sacred Canon. They also learn by heart the _G_âtakamâlâ,[273] which
gives an account of Buddha in former states of existence. Speaking of
what he calls the islands of the Southern Sea, which he visited after
leaving India, I-tsing says: "There are more than ten islands in the
South Sea. There both priests and laymen recite the _G_âtakamâlâ, as
they recite the hymns mentioned before; but it has not yet been
translated into Chinese."

One of these stories, he proceeds to say, was versified by a king
(_K_ié-zhih) and set to music, and was performed before the public
with a band and dancing--evidently a Buddhist mystery play.

I-tsing then gives a short account of the system of education.
Children, he says, learn the forty-nine letters and the 10,000
compound letters when they are six years old, and generally finish
them in half a year. This corresponds to about 300 verses, each
_s_loka of thirty-two syllables. It was originally taught by
Mahe_s_vara. At eight years, children begin to learn the grammar of
Pâ_n_ini, and know it after about eight months. It consists of 1000
_s_lokas, called Sûtras.

Then follows the list of roots (dhâtu) and the three appendices
(khila), consisting again of 1000 _s_lokas. Boys begin the three
appendices when they are ten years old, and finish them in three

When they have reached the age of fifteen, they begin to study a
commentary on the grammar (Sûtra), and spend five years on learning
it. And here I-tsing gives the following advice to his countrymen,
many of whom came to India to learn Sanskrit, but seem to have learned
it very imperfectly. "If men of China," he writes, "go to India,
wishing to study there, they should first of all learn these
grammatical works, and then only other subjects; if not, they will
merely waste their labor. These works should be learned by heart. But
this is suited for men of high quality only.... They should study hard
day and night, without letting a moment pass for idle repose. They
should be like Confucius, through whose hard study the binding of his
Yih-king was three times cut asunder, being worn away; and like
Sui-shih, who used to read a book repeatedly one hundred times." Then
follows a remark, more intelligible in Chinese than in English: "The
hairs of a bull are counted by thousands, the horn of a unicorn is
only one."

I-tsing then speaks of the high degree of perfection to which the
memory of these students attained, both among Buddhists and heretics.
"Such men," he says, "could commit to memory the contents of two
volumes, learning them only once."

And then turning to the _heretics_, or what we should call the
orthodox Brahmans, he says: "The Brâhma_n_as are regarded throughout
the five divisions of India as the most respectable. They do not walk
with the other three castes, and other mixed classes of people are
still further dissociated from them. They revere their Scriptures, the
four Vedas, containing about 100,000 verses.... The Vedas are handed
down from mouth to mouth, not written on paper. There are in every
generation some intelligent Brâhmans who can recite those 100,000
verses.... I myself saw such men."

Here then we have an eye-witness who, in the seventh century after
Christ, visited India, learned Sanskrit, and spent about twenty years
in different monasteries--a man who had no theories of his own about
oral tradition, but who, on the contrary, as coming from China, was
quite familiar with the idea of a written, nay, of a printed
literature: and yet what does he say? "The Vedas are not written on
paper, but handed down from mouth to mouth."

Now, I do not quite agree here with I-tsing. At all events, we must
not conclude from what he says that there existed no Sanskrit MSS. at
all at his time. We know they existed. We know that in the first
century of our era Sanskrit MSS. were carried from India to China,
and translated there. Most likely therefore there were MSS. of the
Veda also in existence. But I-tsing, for all that, was right in
supposing that these MSS. were not allowed to be used by students, and
that they had always to learn the Veda by heart and from the mouth of
a properly qualified teacher. The very fact that in the later
law-books severe punishments are threatened against persons who copy
the Veda or learn it from a MSS., shows that MSS. existed, and that
their existence interfered seriously with the ancient privileges of
the Brâhmans, as the only legitimate teachers of their sacred

If now, after having heard this account of I-tsing, we go back for
about another thousand years, we shall feel less skeptical in
accepting the evidence which we find in the so-called Prâti_s_âkhyas,
that is, collections of rules which, so far as we know at present, go
back to the fifth century before our era, and which tell us almost
exactly the same as what we can see in India at the present moment,
namely that the education of children of the three twice-born castes,
the Brâhma_n_as, Kshatriyas, and Vai_s_yas, consisted in their passing
at least eight years in the house of a Guru, and learning by heart the
ancient Vedic hymns.

The art of teaching had even at that early time been reduced to a
perfect system, and at that time certainly there is not the slightest
trace of anything, such as a book, or skin, or parchment, a sheet of
paper, pen or ink, being known even by name to the people of India;
while every expression connected with what we should call literature,
points to a literature (we cannot help using that word) existing in
memory only, and being handed down with the most scrupulous care by
means of oral tradition.

I had to enter into these details because I know that, with our ideas
of literature, it requires an effort to imagine the bare possibility
of a large amount of poetry, and still more of prose, existing in any
but a written form. And yet here too we only see what we see
elsewhere, namely that man, before the great discoveries of
civilization were made, was able by greater individual efforts to
achieve what to us, accustomed to easier contrivances, seems almost
impossible. So-called savages were able to chip flints, to get fire by
rubbing sticks of wood, which baffles our handiest workmen. Are we to
suppose that, if they wished to preserve some songs which, as they
believed, had once secured them the favor of their gods, had brought
rain from heaven, or led them on to victory, they would have found no
means of doing so? We have only to read such accounts as, for
instance, Mr. William Wyatt Gill has given us in his "Historical
Sketches of Savage Life in Polynesia,"[274] to see how anxious even
savages are to preserve the records of their ancient heroes, kings,
and gods, particularly when the dignity or nobility of certain
families depends on these songs, or when they contain what might be
called the title-deeds to large estates. And that the Vedic Indians
were not the only savages of antiquity who discovered the means of
preserving a large literature by means of oral tradition, we may learn
from Cæsar,[275] not a very credulous witness, who tells us that the
"Druids were said to know a large number of verses by heart; that some
of them spent twenty years in learning them, and that they considered
it wrong to commit them to writing"--exactly the same story which we
hear in India.

We must return once more to the question of dates. We have traced the
existence of the Veda, as handed down by oral tradition, from our days
to the days of I-tsing in the seventh century after Christ, and again
to the period of the Prâti_s_âkhyas, in the fifth century before

In that fifth century B.C. took place the rise of Buddhism, a religion
built up on the ruins of the Vedic religion, and founded, so to say,
on the denial of the divine authority ascribed to the Veda by all
orthodox Brâhmans.

Whatever exists, therefore, of Vedic literature must be accommodated
within the centuries preceding the rise of Buddhism, and if I tell you
that there are three periods of Vedic literature to be accommodated,
the third presupposing the second, and the second the first, and that
even that first period presents us with a collection, and a systematic
collection of Vedic hymns, I think you will agree with me that it is
from no desire for an extreme antiquity, but simply from a respect for
facts, that students of the Veda have come to the conclusion that
these hymns, of which the MSS. do not carry us back beyond the
fifteenth century after Christ, took their origin in the fifteenth
century before Christ.

       *       *       *       *       *

One fact I must mention once more, because I think it may carry
conviction even against the stoutest skepticism.

I mentioned that the earliest inscriptions discovered in India belong
to the reign of King A_s_oka, the grandson of _K_andragupta, who
reigned from 259-222 before Christ. What is the language of those
inscriptions? Is it the Sanskrit of the Vedic hymns? Certainly not. Is
it the later Sanskrit of the Brâhma_n_as and Sûtras? Certainly not.
These inscriptions are written in the local dialects as then spoken in
India, and these local dialects differ from the grammatical Sanskrit
about as much as Italian does from Latin.

What follows from this? First, that the archaic Sanskrit of the Veda
had ceased to be spoken before the third century B.C. Secondly, that
even the later grammatical Sanskrit was no longer spoken and
understood by the people at large; that Sanskrit therefore had ceased,
nay, we may say, had long ceased to be the spoken language of the
country when Buddhism arose, and that therefore the youth and manhood
of the ancient Vedic language lie far beyond the period that gave
birth to the teaching of Buddha, who, though he may have known
Sanskrit, and even Vedic Sanskrit, insisted again and again on the
duty that his disciples should preach his doctrines in the language of
the people whom they wished to benefit.

       *       *       *       *       *

And now, when the time allotted to me is nearly at an end, I find, as
it always happens, that I have not been able to say one half of what I
hoped to say as to the lessons to be learned by us in India, even with
regard to this one branch of human knowledge only, the study of the
origin of religion. I hope, however, I may have succeeded in showing
you the entirely new aspect which the old problem of the _theogony_,
or the origin and growth of the Devas or gods, assumes from the light
thrown upon it by the Veda. Instead of positive theories, we now have
positive facts, such as you look for in vain anywhere else; and though
there is still a considerable interval between the Devas of the Veda,
even in their highest form, and such concepts as Zeus, Apollon, and
Athene, yet the chief riddle is solved, and we know now at last what
stuff the gods of the ancient world were made of.

But this theogonic process is but one side of the ancient Vedic
religion, and there are two other sides of at least the same
importance and of even a deeper interest to us.

There are in fact three religions in the Veda, or, if I may say so,
three naves in one great temple, reared, as it were, before our eyes
by poets, prophets, and philosophers. Here too we can watch the work
and the workmen. We have not to deal with hard formulas only, with
unintelligible ceremonies, or petrified fetiches. We can see how the
human mind arrives by a perfectly rational process at all its later
irrationalities. This is what distinguishes the Veda from all other
Sacred Books. Much, no doubt, in the Veda also, and in the Vedic
ceremonial, is already old and unintelligible, hard, and petrified.
But in many cases the development of names and concepts, their
transition from the natural to the supernatural, from the individual
to the general, is still going on, and it is for that very reason that
we find it so difficult, nay almost impossible, to translate the
growing thoughts of the Veda into the full-grown and more than
full-grown language of our time.

Let us take one of the oldest words for god in the Veda, such as d e v a,
the Latin _deus_. The dictionaries tell you that d e v a means god and
gods, and so, no doubt, it does. But if we always translated d e v a in
the Vedic hymns by god, we should not be translating, but completely
transforming the thoughts of the Vedic poets. I do not mean only that
_our_ idea of God is totally different from the idea that was intended
to be expressed by d e v a; but even the Greek and Roman concept of gods
would be totally inadequate to convey the thoughts imbedded in the
Vedic d e v a. D e v a meant originally bright, and nothing else. Meaning
bright, it was constantly used of the sky, the stars, the sun, the
dawn, the day, the spring, the rivers, the earth; and when a poet
wished to speak of all of these by one and the same word--by what we
should call a general term--he called them D e v a s. When that had been
done, D e v a did no longer mean "the Bright ones," but the name
comprehended all the qualities which the sky and the sun and the dawn
shared in common, excluding only those that were peculiar to each.

Here you see how, by the simplest process, the D e v a s, the bright ones,
might become and did become the D e v a s, the heavenly, the kind, the
powerful, the invisible, the immortal--and, in the end, something very
like the θεοἱ (or _dii_) of Greeks and Romans.

In this way one Beyond, the Beyond of Nature, was built up in the
ancient religion of the Veda, and peopled with Devas, and Asuras, and
Vasus, and Âdityas, all names for the bright solar, celestial,
diurnal, and vernal powers of nature, without altogether excluding,
however, even the dark and unfriendly powers, those of the night, of
the dark clouds, or of winter, capable of mischief, but always
destined in the end to succumb to the valor and strength of their
bright antagonists.

       *       *       *       *       *

We now come to the second nave of the Vedic temple, the second
_Beyond_ that was dimly perceived, and grasped and named by the
ancient Rishis, namely the world of the Departed Spirits.[276]

There was in India, as elsewhere, another very early faith, springing
up naturally in the hearts of the people, that their fathers and
mothers, when they departed this life, departed to a Beyond, wherever
it might be, either in the East from whence all the bright Devas
seemed to come, or more commonly in the West, the land to which they
seemed to go, called in the Veda the realm of Yama or the setting sun.
The idea that beings which once had been, could ever cease to be, had
not yet entered their minds; and from the belief that their fathers
existed somewhere, though they could see them no more, there arose the
belief in another Beyond, and the germs of another religion.

Nor was the actual power of the fathers quite imperceptible or extinct
even after their death. Their presence continued to be felt in the
ancient laws and customs of the family, most of which rested on their
will and their authority. While their fathers were alive and strong,
their will was law; and when, after their death, doubts or disputes
arose on points of law or custom, it was but natural that the memory
and the authority of the fathers should be appealed to to settle such
points--that the law should still be their will.

Thus Manu says (IV. 178): "On the path on which his fathers and
grandfathers have walked, on that path of good men let him walk, and
he will not go wrong."

In the same manner then in which, out of the bright powers of nature,
the Devas or gods had arisen, there arose out of predicates shared in
common by the departed, such as p i t _r i_ s, fathers, p r e t a, gone
away, another general concept, what we should call _Manes_, the kind
ones, _Ancestors_, _Shades_, _Spirits_, or _Ghosts_, whose worship was
nowhere more fully developed than in India. That common name, P i t _r
i_ s or _Fathers_, gradually attracted toward itself all that the
fathers shared in common. It came to mean not only fathers, but
invisible, kind, powerful, immortal, heavenly beings, and we can watch
in the Veda, better perhaps than anywhere else, the inevitable, yet most
touching metamorphosis of ancient thought--the love of the child for
father and mother becoming transfigured into an instinctive belief in
the immortality of the soul.

It is strange, and really more than strange, that not only should this
important and prominent side of the ancient religion of the Hindus
have been ignored, but that of late its very existence should have
been doubted. I feel obliged, therefore, to add a few words in support
of what I have said just now of the supreme importance of this belief
in and this worship of ancestral spirits in India from the most
ancient to the most modern times. Mr. Herbert Spencer, who has done so
much in calling attention to ancestorship as a natural ingredient of
religion among all savage nations, declares in the most emphatic
manner,[277] "that he has seen it implied, that he has heard it in
conversation, and that he now has it before him in print, that no
Indo-European or Semitic nation, so far as we know, seems to have
made a religion of the worship of the dead." I do not doubt his words,
but I think that on so important a point, Mr. Herbert Spencer ought to
have named his authorities. It seems to me almost impossible that
anybody who has ever opened a book on India should have made such a
statement. There are hymns in the Rig-Veda addressed to the Fathers.
There are full descriptions of the worship due to the Fathers in the
Brâhma_n_as and Sûtras. The epic poems, the law books, the Purâ_n_as,
all are brimful of allusions to ancestral offerings. The whole social
fabric of India, with its laws of inheritance and marriage,[278] rests
on a belief in the Manes--and yet we are told that no Indo-European
nation seems to have made a religion of the worship of the dead.

The Persians had their Fravashis, the Greeks their εἲδωλα, or rather
their θεοὶ πατρῷοι and their δαἱμονες,

    ὲσθλοὶ, ὲπιχθόνιοι, φὑλακες θνητῶν ὰνθρὡπων;
    ὁἳ ῥα φυλἁσσουσἱν τε δἱκας καὶ σχἑτλια ἔργα,
    ὴἑρα ἑσσἁμενοι πἁντη φοιτῶντες επ' αἷαν,
    πλουτοδόται (Hesiodi Opera et Dies, vv. 122-126);[279]

while among the Romans the _Lares familiares_ and the _Divi Manes_
were worshipped more zealously than any other gods.[280] Manu goes so
far as to tell us in one place (III. 203): "An oblation by Brâhmans
to their ancestor transcends an oblation to the deities;" and yet we
are told that no Indo-European nation seems to have made a religion of
the worship of the dead.

Such things ought really not to be, if there is to be any progress in
historical research, and I cannot help thinking that what Mr. Herbert
Spencer meant was probably no more than that some scholars did not
admit that the worship of the dead formed the whole of the religion of
any of the Indo-European nations. That, no doubt, is perfectly true,
but it would be equally true, I believe, of almost any other religion.
And on this point again the students of anthropology will learn more,
I believe, from the Veda than from any other book.

In the Veda the Pit_ri_s, or fathers, are invoked together with the
Devas, or gods, but they are not confounded with them. The Devas never
become Pit_ri_s, and though such adjectives as d e v a are sometimes
applied to the Pit_ri_s, and they are raised to the rank of the older
classes of Devas (Manu III. 192, 284, Yâ_gñ_avalkya I. 268), it is
easy to see that the Pit_ri_s and Devas had each their independent
origin, and that they represent two totally distinct phases of the
human mind in the creation of its objects of worship. This is a lesson
which ought never to be forgotten.

We read in the Rig-Veda, VI. 52, 4: "May the rising Dawns protect me,
may the flowing Rivers protect me, may the firm Mountains protect me,
may the Fathers protect me at this invocation of the gods." Here
nothing can be clearer than the separate existence of the Fathers,
apart from the Dawns, the Rivers, and the Mountains, though they are
included in one common Devahûti, however, or invocation of the gods.

We must distinguish, however, from the very first, between two
classes, or rather between two concepts of Fathers, the one comprising
the distant, half-forgotten, and almost mythical ancestors of certain
families or of what would have been to the poets of the Veda, the
whole human race, the other consisting of the fathers who had but
lately departed, and who were still, as it were, personally remembered
and revered.

The old ancestors in general approach more nearly to the gods. They
are often represented as having gone to the abode of Yama, the ruler
of the departed, and to live there in company with some of the Devas
(Rig-Veda VII. 76, 4, devânâ_m_ sadhamâda_h_; Rig-Veda X. 16, 1,
devânâ_m_ va_s_anî_h_).

We sometimes read of the great-grandfathers being in heaven, the
grandfathers in the sky, the fathers on the earth, the first in
company with the Âdityas, the second with the Rudras, the last with
the Vasus. All these are individual poetical conceptions.[281]

Yama himself is sometimes invoked as if he were one of the Fathers,
the first of mortals that died or that trod the path of the Fathers
(the pit_ri_yâ_n_a, X. 2, 7) leading to the common sunset in the
West.[282] Still his real Deva-like nature is never completely lost,
and, as the god of the setting sun, he is indeed the leader of the
Fathers, but not one of the Fathers himself.[283]

Many of the benefits which men enjoyed on earth were referred to the
Fathers, as having first been procured and first enjoyed by them.
They performed the first sacrifices, and secured the benefits arising
from them. Even the great events in nature, such as the rising of the
sun, the light of the day and the darkness of the night, were
sometimes referred to them, and they were praised for having broken
open the dark stable of the morning and having brought out the cows,
that is, the days (X. 68, 11).[284] They were even praised for having
adorned the night with stars, while in later writing the stars are
said to be the lights of the good people who have entered into
heaven.[285] Similar ideas, we know, prevailed among the ancient
Persians, Greeks, and Romans. The Fathers are called in the Veda
truthful (satyá), wise (suvidátra), righteous (_ri_távat), poets
(kaví), leaders (pathik_rí_t), and one of their most frequent epithets
is somya, delighting in Soma, Soma being the ancient intoxicating
beverage of the Vedic _Ri_shis, which was believed to bestow
immortality,[286] but which had been lost, or at all events had become
difficult to obtain by the Aryans, after their migration into the

The families of the Bh_ri_gus, the Angiras, the Atharvans[288] all
have their Pit_ri_s or Fathers, who are invoked to sit down on the
grass and to accept the offerings placed there for them. Even the name
of Pit_ri_ya_gñ_a, sacrifice of the Fathers, occurs already in the
hymns of the Rig-Veda.[289]

The following is one of the hymns of the Rig-Veda by which those
ancient Fathers were invited to come to their sacrifice (Rig-veda X.

     1. "May the Soma-loving Fathers, the lowest, the highest,
     and the middle, arise. May the gentle and righteous Fathers
     who have come to life (again), protect us in these

     2. "May this salutation be for the Fathers to-day, for those
     who have departed before or after; whether they now dwell in
     the sky above the earth, or among the blessed people.

     3. "I invited the wise Fathers ... may they come hither
     quickly, and sitting on the grass readily partake of the
     poured-out draught!

     4. "Come hither to us with your help, you Fathers who sit on
     the grass! We have prepared these libations for you, accept
     them! Come hither with your most blessed protection, and
     give us health and wealth without fail!

     5. "The Soma-loving Fathers have been called hither to their
     dear viands which are placed on the grass. Let them
     approach, let them listen, let them bless, let them protect

     6. "Bending your knee and sitting on my right, accept all
     this sacrifice. Do not hurt us, O Fathers, for any wrong
     that we may have committed against you, men as we are.

     7. "When you sit down on the lap of the red dawns, grant
     wealth to the generous mortal! O Fathers, give of your
     treasure to the sons of this man here, and bestow vigor here
     on us!

     8. "May Yama, as a friend with friends, consume the
     offerings according to his wish, united with those old
     Soma-loving Fathers of ours, the Vasish_th_as, who arranged
     the Soma draught.

     9. "Come hither, O Agni, with those wise and truthful
     Fathers who like to sit down near the hearth, who thirsted
     when yearning for the gods, who knew the sacrifice, and who
     were strong in praise with their songs.

     10. "Come, O Agni, with those ancient fathers who like to
     sit down near the hearth, who forever praise the gods, the
     truthful, who eat and drink our oblations, making company
     with Indra and the gods.

     11. "O Fathers, you who have been consumed by Agni, come
     here, sit down on your seats, you kind guides! Eat of the
     offerings which we have placed on the turf, and then grant
     us wealth and strong offspring!

     12. "O Agni, O _G_âtavedas,[291] at our request thou hast
     carried the offerings, having first rendered them sweet.
     Thou gavest them to the Fathers, and they fed on their
     share. Eat also, O god, the proffered oblations!

     13. "The Fathers who are here, and the Fathers who are not
     here, those whom we know, and those whom we know not, thou
     _G_âtavedas, knowest how many they are, accept the well-made
     sacrifice with the sacrificial portions!

     14. "To those who, whether burned by fire or not burned by
     fire, rejoice in their share in the midst of heaven, grant
     thou, O King, that their body may take that life which they
     wish for!"[292]

Distinct from the worship offered to these primitive ancestors, is
the reverence which from an early time was felt to be due by children
to their departed father, soon also to their grandfather, and
great-grandfather. The ceremonies in which these more personal
feelings found expression were of a more domestic character, and
allowed therefore of greater local variety.

It would be quite impossible to give here even an abstract only of the
minute regulations which have been preserved to us in the Brâhma_n_as,
the _S_rauta, G_ri_hya, and Sâmayâ_k_ârika Sûtras, the Law-books, and
a mass of later manuals on the performance of endless rites, all
intended to honor the Departed. Such are the minute prescriptions as
to times and seasons, as to altars and offerings, as to the number and
shape of the sacrificial vessels, as to the proper postures of the
sacrificers, and the different arrangements of the vessels, that it is
extremely difficult to catch hold of what we really care for, namely,
the thoughts and intentions of those who first devised all these
intricacies. Much has been written on this class of sacrifices by
European scholars also, beginning with Colebrooke's excellent essays
on "The Religious Ceremonies of the Hindus," first published in the
"Asiatic Researches," vol. v. Calcutta, 1798. But when we ask the
simple question, What was the thought from whence all this outward
ceremonial sprang, and what was the natural craving of the human heart
which it seemed to satisfy, we hardly get an intelligible answer
anywhere. It is true that _S_râddhas continue to be performed all over
India to the present day, but we know how widely the modern ceremonial
has diverged from the rules laid down in the old _S_âstras, and it is
quite clear from the descriptions given to us by recent travellers
that no one can understand the purport even of these survivals of the
old ceremonial, unless he understands Sanskrit and can read the old
Sûtras. We are indeed told in full detail how the cakes were made
which the Spirits wore supposed to eat, how many stalks of grass were
to be used on which they had to be offered, how long each stalk ought
to be, and in what direction it should be held. All the things which
teach us nothing are explained to us in abundance, but the few things
which the true scholar really cares for are passed over, as if they
had no interest to us at all, and have to be discovered under heaps of

In order to gain a little light, I think we ought to distinguish

     1. The daily ancestral sacrifice, the Pit_ri_ya_gñ_a, as one
     of the five Great Sacrifices (Mahâya_gñ_as);

     2. The monthly ancestral sacrifice, the
     Pi_nd_a-pit_ri_-ya_gñ_a, as part of the New and Full-moon

     3. The funeral ceremonies on the death of a householder;

     4. The Agapes, or feasts of love and charity, commonly
     called _S_râddhas, at which food and other charitable gifts
     were bestowed on deserving persons in memory of the deceased
     ancestors. The name of _S_râddha belongs properly to this
     last class only, but it has been transferred to the second
     and third class of sacrifices also, because _S_râddha formed
     an important part in them.

The daily Pit_ri_ya_gñ_a or Ancestor-worship is one of the five
sacrifices, sometimes called the Great Sacrifices,[293] which every
married man ought to perform day by day. They are mentioned in the
G_ri_hya-sûtras (Â_s_v. III. 1), as Devaya_gñ_a, for the Devas,
Bhûtaya_gñ_a, for animals, etc., Pit_ri_ya_gñ_a, for the Fathers,
Brahmaya_gñ_a, for Brahman, _i.e._ study of the Veda, and
Manushyaya_gñ_a, for men, _i.e._ hospitality, etc.

Manu (III. 70) tells us the same, namely, that a married man has five
great religious duties to perform:

     1. The Brahma-sacrifice, _i.e._ the studying and teaching of
     the Veda (sometimes called Ahuta).

     2. The Pit_ri_-sacrifice, _i.e._ the offering of cakes and
     water to the Manes (sometimes called Prâ_s_ita).

     3. The Deva-sacrifice, _i.e._ the offering of oblations to
     the gods (sometimes called Huta).

     4. The Bhûta-sacrifice, _i.e._ the giving of food to living
     creatures (sometimes called Prahuta).

     5. The Manushya-sacrifice, _i.e._ the receiving of guests
     with hospitality (sometimes called Brâhmya huta).[294]

The performance of this daily Pit_ri_ya_gñ_a, seems to have been
extremely simple. The householder had to put his sacred cord on the
right shoulder, to say "Svadhâ to the Fathers," and to throw the
remains of certain offerings toward the south.[295]

The human impulse to this sacrifice, if sacrifice it can be called, is
clear enough. The five "great sacrifices" comprehended in early times
the whole duty of man from day to day. They were connected with his
daily meal.[296] When this meal was preparing, and before he could
touch it himself, he was to offer something to the gods, a
Vai_s_vadeva offering,[297] in which the chief deities were Agni,
fire, Soma the Vi_s_ve Devas, Dhanvantari, the kind of Æsculapius,
Kuhû and Anumati (phases of the moon), Pra_g_âpati, lord of creatures,
Dyâvâ-p_ri_thivî, Heaven and Earth, and Svish_t_ak_ri_t, the fire on
the hearth.[298]

After having thus satisfied the gods in the four quarters, the
householder had to throw some oblations into the open air, which were
intended for animals, and in some cases for invisible beings, ghosts
and such like. Then he was to remember the Departed, the Pit_ri_s,
with some offerings; but even after having done this he was not yet to
begin his own repast, unless he had also given something to strangers

When all this had been fulfilled, and when, besides, the householder,
as we should say, had said his daily prayers, or repeated what he had
learned of the Veda, then and then only was he in harmony with the
world that surrounded him, the five Great Sacrifices had been
performed by him, and he was free from all the sins arising from a
thoughtless and selfish life.

This Pit_ri_ya_gñ_a, as one of the five daily sacrifices, is described
in the Brâhma_n_as, the G_ri_hya and Sâmayâ_k_ârika Sûtras, and, of
course, in the legal Sa_m_hitâs. Rajendralâl Mitra[299] informs us
that "orthodox Brâhmans to this day profess to observe all these five
ceremonies, but that in reality only the offerings to the gods and
manes are strictly observed, while the reading is completed by the
repetition of the Gâyatrî only, and charity and feeding of animals are
casual and uncertain."

Quite different from this simple daily ancestral offering is the
Pit_ri_ya_gñ_a or Pi_nd_a-pit_ri_ya_gñ_a, which forms part of many of
the statutable sacrifices, and, first of all, of the New and Full-moon
sacrifice. Here again the human motive is intelligible enough. It was
the contemplation of the regular course of nature, the discovery of
order in the coming and going of the heavenly bodies, the growing
confidence in some ruling power of the world which lifted man's
thoughts from his daily work to higher regions, and filled his heart
with a desire to approach these higher powers with praise,
thanksgiving, and offerings. And it was at such moments as the waning
of the moon that his thoughts would most naturally turn to those whose
life had waned, whose bright faces were no longer visible on earth,
his fathers or ancestors. Therefore at the very beginning of the
New-moon sacrifice, we are told in the Brâhma_n_as[300] and in the
_S_rauta-sûtras, that a Pit_ri_ya_gñ_a, a sacrifice to the Fathers, has
to be performed. A _K_aru or pie had to be prepared in the
Dakshi_n_âgni, the southern fire, and the offerings, consisting of
water and round cakes (pi_nd_as), were specially dedicated to father,
grandfather, and great-grandfather, while the wife of the sacrificer,
if she wished for a son, was allowed to eat one of the cakes.[301]

Similar ancestral offerings took place during other sacrifices too, of
which the New and Full-moon sacrifices form the general type.

It may be quite true that these two kinds of ancestral sacrifices have
the same object and share the same name, but their character is
different; and if, as has often been the case, they are mixed up
together, we lose the most important lessons which a study of the
ancient ceremonial should teach us. I cannot describe the difference
between these two Pit_ri_ya_gñ_as more decisively than by pointing out
that the former was performed by the father of a family, or, if we may
say so, by a layman, the latter by a regular priest, or a class of
priests, selected by the sacrificer to act in his behalf. As the
Hindus themselves would put it, the former is a g_ri_hya, a domestic,
the latter a _s_rauta, a priestly ceremony.[302]

We now come to a third class of ceremonies which are likewise domestic
and personal, but which differ from the two preceding ceremonies by
their occasional character, I mean the funeral, as distinct from the
ancestral ceremonies. In one respect these funeral ceremonies may
represent an earlier phase of worship than the daily and monthly
ancestral sacrifices. They lead up to them, and, as it were, prepare
the departed for their future dignity as Pit_ri_s or Ancestors. On the
other hand, the conception of Ancestors in general must have existed
before any departed person could have been raised to that rank, and I
therefore preferred to describe the ancestral sacrifices first.

Nor need I enter here very fully into the character of the special
funeral ceremonies of India. I described them in a special paper, "On
Sepulture and Sacrificial Customs in the Veda," nearly thirty years
ago.[303] Their spirit is the same as that of the funeral ceremonies
of Greeks, Romans, Slavonic, and Teutonic nations, and the
coincidences between them all are often most surprising.

In Vedic times the people in India both burned and buried their dead,
and they did this with a certain solemnity, and, after a time,
according to fixed rules. Their ideas about the status of the
departed, after their body had been burned and their ashes buried,
varied considerably, but in the main they seem to have believed in a
life to come, not very different from our life on earth, and in the
power of the departed to confer blessings on their descendants. It
soon therefore became the interest of the survivors to secure the
favor of their departed friends by observances and offerings which, at
first, were the spontaneous manifestation of human feelings, but which
soon became traditional, technical, in fact, ritual.

On the day on which the corpse had been burned, the relatives
(samânodakas) bathed and poured out a handful of water to the
deceased, pronouncing his name and that of his family.[304] At sunset
they returned home, and, as was but natural, they were told to cook
nothing during the first night, and to observe certain rules during
the next day up to ten days, according to the character of the
deceased. These were days of mourning, or, as they were afterward
called, days of impurity, when the mourners withdrew from contact with
the world, and shrank by a natural impulse from the ordinary
occupations and pleasures of life.[305]

Then followed the collecting of the ashes on the 11th, 13th, or 15th
day of the dark half of the moon. On returning from thence they
bathed, and then offered what was called a _S_râddha to the departed.

This word _S_râddha, which meets us here for the first time, is full
of interesting lessons, if only properly understood. First of all it
should be noted that it is absent, not only from the hymns, but, so
far as we know at present, even from the ancient Brâhma_n_as. It seems
therefore a word of a more modern origin. There is a passage in
Âpastamba's Dharma-sûtras which betrays, on the part of the author, a
consciousness of the more modern origin of the _S_râddhas:[306]

    "Formerly men and gods lived together in this world. Then the
    gods in reward of their sacrifices went to heaven, but men
    were left behind. Those men who perform sacrifices in the
    same manner as the gods did, dwelt (after death) with the
    gods and Brahman in heaven. Now (seeing men left behind) Manu
    revealed this ceremony which is designated by the word

_S_râddha has assumed many[307] meanings, and Manu,[308] for instance,
uses it almost synonymously with pit_ri_ya_gñ_a. But its original
meaning seems to have been "that which is given with _s_raddhâ or
faith," _i.e._ charity bestowed on deserving persons, and, more
particularly, on Brâhma_n_as. The gift was called _s_râddha, but the
act itself also was called by the same name. The word is best
explained by Nârâya_n_a in his commentary on the G_ri_hya-sûtras of
Â_s_valâyana (IV. 7), "_S_râddha is that which is given in faith to
Brâhmans for the sake of the Fathers."[309]

Such charitable gifts flowed most naturally and abundantly at the time
of a man's death, or whenever his memory was revived by happy or
unhappy events in a family, and hence _S_râddha has become the general
name for ever so many sacred acts commemorative of the departed. We
hear of _S_râddhas not only at funerals, but at joyous events also,
when presents were bestowed in the name of the family, and therefore
in the name of the ancestors also, on all who had a right to that

It is a mistake therefore to look upon _S_râddhas simply as offerings
of water or cakes to the Fathers. An offering to the Fathers was, no
doubt, a symbolic part of each _S_râddha, but its more important
character was charity bestowed in memory of the Fathers.

This, in time, gave rise to much abuse, like the alms bestowed on the
Church during the Middle Ages. But in the beginning the motive was
excellent. It was simply a wish to benefit others, arising from the
conviction, felt more strongly in the presence of death than at any
other time, that as we can carry nothing out of this world, we ought
to do as much good as possible in the world with our worldly goods. At
_S_râddhas the Brâhma_n_as were said to represent the sacrificial fire
into which the gifts should be thrown.[310] If we translate here
Brâhma_n_as by priests, we can easily understand why there should have
been in later times so strong a feeling against _S_râddhas. But priest
is a very bad rendering of Brâhma_n_a. The Brâhma_n_as were, socially
and intellectually, a class of men of high breeding. They were a
recognized and, no doubt, a most essential element in the ancient
society of India. As they lived for others, and were excluded from
most of the lucrative pursuits of life, it was a social, and it soon
became a religious duty, that they should be supported by the
community at large. Great care was taken that the recipients of such
bounty as was bestowed at _S_râddhas should be strangers, neither
friends nor enemies, and in no way related to the family. Thus
Âpastamba says:[311] "The food eaten (at a _S_râddha) by persons
related to the giver is a gift offered to goblins. It reaches neither
the Manes nor the Gods." A man who tried to curry favor by bestowing
_S_râddhika gifts, was called by an opprobrious name, a

Without denying therefore that in later times the system of
_S_râddhas may have degenerated, I think we can perceive that it
sprang from a pure source, and, what for our present purpose is even
more important, from an intelligible source.

Let us now return to the passage in the G_ri_hya-sûtras of Â_s_valâyana,
where we met for the first time with the name of _S_râddha.[313] It was
the _S_râddha to be given for the sake of the Departed, after his ashes
had been collected in an urn and buried. This _S_râddha is called
ekoddish_t_a,[314] or, as we should say, personal. It was meant for one
person only, not for the three ancestors, nor for all the ancestors. Its
object was in fact to raise the departed to the rank of a Pit_ri_, and
this had to be achieved by _S_râddha offerings continued during a whole
year. This at least is the general, and, most likely, the original rule.
Âpastamba says that the _S_râddha for a deceased relative should be
performed every day during the year, and that after that a monthly
_S_râddha only should be performed or none at all, that is, no more
personal _S_râddha,[315] because the departed shares henceforth in the
regular Pârva_n_a-_s_râddhas.[316] _S_ânkhâyana says the same,[317] namely
that the personal _S_râddha lasts for a year, and that then "the Fourth"
is dropped, _i.e._ the great-grandfather was dropped, the grandfather
became the great-grandfather, the father the grandfather, while the
lately Departed occupied the father's place among the three principal
Pit_ris_.[318] This was called the Sapi_nd_îkara_n_a, _i.e._ the elevating
of the departed to the rank of an ancestor.

There are here, as elsewhere, many exceptions. Gobhila allows six
months instead of a year, or even a Tripaksha,[319] _i.e._ three
half-months; and lastly, any auspicious event (v_ri_ddhi) may become
the occasion of the Sapi_nd_îkara_n_a.[320]

The full number of _S_râddhas necessary for the Sapi_nd_ana is
sometimes given as sixteen, viz., the first, then one in each of the
twelve months, then two semestral ones, and lastly the Sapi_nd_ana.
But here too much variety is allowed, though, if the Sapi_nd_ana takes
place before the end of the year, the number of sixteen _S_râddhas has
still to be made up.[321]

When the _S_râddha is offered on account of an auspicious event, such
as a birth or a marriage, the fathers invoked are not the father,
grandfather, and great-grandfather, who are sometimes called
a_s_rumukha, with tearful faces, but the ancestors before them, and
they are called nândîmukha, or joyful.[322]

Colebrooke,[323] to whom we owe an excellent description of what a
_S_râddha is in modern times, took evidently the same view. "The first
set of funeral ceremonies," he writes, "is adapted to effect, by means
of oblations, the re-embodying of the soul of the deceased, after
burning his corpse. The apparent scope of the second set is to raise
his shade from this world, where it would else, according to the
notions of the Hindus, continue to roam among demons and evil spirits,
up to heaven, and then deify him, as it were, among the manes of
departed ancestors. For this end, a _S_râddha should regularly be
offered to the deceased on the day after the mourning expires; twelve
other _S_râddhas _singly_ to the deceased in twelve successive months;
similar obsequies at the end of the third fortnight, and also in the
sixth month, and in the twelfth; and the oblation called Sapi_nd_ana
on the first anniversary of his decease.[324] At this Sapi_nd_ana
_S_râddha, which is the last of the ekoddish_t_a _s_râddhas, four
funeral cakes are offered to the deceased and his three ancestors,
that consecrated to the deceased being divided into three portions and
mixed with the other three cakes. The portion retained is often
offered to the deceased, and the act of union and fellowship becomes

When this system of _S_râddhas had once been started, it seems to have
spread very rapidly. We soon hear of the monthly _S_râddha, not only
in memory of one person lately deceased, but as part of the
Pit_ri_ya_gñ_a, and as obligatory, not only on householders (agnimat),
but on other persons also, and, not only on the three upper castes,
but even, without hymns, on _S_ûdras,[326] and as to be performed, not
only on the day of New-Moon, but on other days also,[327] whenever
there was an opportunity. Gobhila seems to look upon the
Pi_nd_apit_ri_ya_gñ_a, as itself a _S_râddha,[328] and the commentator
holds that, even if there are no pi_nd_as or cakes, the Brâhmans ought
still to be fed. This _S_râddha, however, is distinguished from the
other, the true _S_râddha, called Anvâhârya, which follows it,[329]
and which is properly known by the name of Pârva_n_a _S_râddha.

The same difficulties which confront us when we try to form a clear
conception of the character of the various ancestral ceremonies, were
felt by the Brâhmans themselves, as may be seen from the long
discussions in the commentary on the _S_râddha-kalpa[330] and from the
abusive language used by _K_andrakânta Tarkâlankâra against
Raghunandana. The question with them assumes the form of what is
pradhâna (primary) and what is anga (secondary) in these sacrifices,
and the final result arrived at is that sometimes the offering of
cakes is pradhâna, as in the Pi_nd_apit_ri_ya_gñ_a, sometimes the
feeding of Brâhmans only, as in the Nitya-_s_râddha, sometimes both,
as in the Sapi_nd_ikara_n_a.

We may safely say, therefore, that not a day passed in the life of the
ancient people of India on which they were not reminded of their
ancestors, both near and distant, and showed their respect for them,
partly by symbolic offerings to the Manes, partly by charitable gifts
to deserving persons, chiefly Brâhmans. These offertories varied from
the simplest, such as milk and fruits, to the costliest, such as gold
and jewels. The feasts given to those who were invited to officiate or
assist at a _S_râddha seem in some cases to have been very
sumptuous,[331] and what is very important, the eating of meat, which
in later times was strictly forbidden in many sects, must, when the
Sûtras were written, have been fully recognized at these feasts, even
to the killing and eating of a cow.[332]

This shows that these _S_râddhas, though, possibly of later date than
the Pit_ri_ya_gñ_as, belong nevertheless to a very early phase of
Indian life. And though much may have been changed in the outward form
of these ancient ancestral sacrifices, their original solemn character
has remained unchanged. Even at present, when the worship of the
ancient Devas is ridiculed by many who still take part in it, the
worship of the ancestors and the offering of _S_râddhas have
maintained much of their old sacred character. They have sometimes
been compared to the "communion" in the Christian Church, and it is
certainly true that many natives speak of their funeral and ancestral
ceremonies with a hushed voice and with real reverence. They alone
seem still to impart to their life on earth a deeper significance and
a higher prospect. I could go even a step further and express my
belief, that the absence of such services for the dead and of
ancestral commemorations is a real loss in our own religion. Almost
every religion recognizes them as tokens of a loving memory offered to
a father, to a mother, or even to a child, and though in many
countries they may have proved a source of superstition, there runs
through them all a deep well of living human faith that ought never to
be allowed to perish. The early Christian Church had to sanction the
ancient prayers for the Souls of the Departed, and in more southern
countries the services on All Saints' and on All Souls' Day continue
to satisfy a craving of the human heart which must be satisfied in
every religion.[333] We, in the North, shrink from these open
manifestations of grief, but our hearts know often a deeper
bitterness; nay, there would seem to be a higher truth than we at
first imagine in the belief of the ancients that the souls of our
beloved ones leave us no rest, unless they are appeased by daily
prayers, or, better still, by daily acts of goodness in remembrance of

But there is still another Beyond that found expression in the
ancient religion of India. Besides the Devas or Gods, and besides the
Pit_ri_s or Fathers, there was a third world, without which the
ancient religion of India could not have become what we see it in the
Veda. That third Beyond was what the poets of the Veda call the
_R i_ t a, and which I believe meant originally no more than "the
straight line." It is applied to the straight line of the sun in its
daily course, to the straight line followed by day and night, to the
straight line that regulates the seasons, to the straight line which,
in spite of many momentary deviations, was discovered to run through
the whole realm of nature. We call that _Ri_ta, that straight, direct,
or right line, when we apply it in a more general sense, _the Law of
Nature_; and when we apply it to the moral world, we try to express
the same idea again by speaking of the _Moral Law_, the law on which
our life is founded, the eternal Law of Right and Reason, or, it may
be, "that which makes for righteousness" both within us and

And thus, as a thoughtful look on nature led to the first perception
of bright gods, and in the end of a God of light, as love of our
parents was transfigured into piety and a belief in immortality, a
recognition of the straight lines in the world without, and in the
world within, was raised into the highest faith, a faith in a law that
underlies everything, a law in which we may trust, whatever befall, a
law which speaks within us with the divine voice of conscience, and
tells us "this is _ri_ta," "this is right," "this is true," whatever
the statutes of our ancestors, or even the voices of our bright gods,
may say to the contrary.[336]

These three Beyonds are the three revelations of antiquity; and it is
due almost entirely to the discovery of the Veda that we, in this
nineteenth century of ours, have been allowed to watch again these
early phases of thought and religion, which had passed away long
before the beginnings of other literatures.[337] In the Veda an
ancient city has been laid bare before our eyes which, in the history
of all other religions, is filled up with rubbish, and built over by
new architects. Some of the earliest and most instructive scenes of
our distant childhood have risen once more above the horizon of our
memory which, until thirty or forty years ago, seemed to have
vanished forever.

       *       *       *       *       *

Only a few words more to indicate at least how this religious growth
in India contained at the same time the germs of Indian philosophy.
Philosophy in India is, what it ought to be, not the denial, but the
fulfilment of religion; it is the highest religion, and the oldest
name of the oldest system of philosophy in India is V e d â n t a, that is,
the end, the goal, the highest object of the Veda.

Let us return once more to that ancient theologian who lived in the
fifth century B.C., and who told us that, even before his time, all
the gods had been discovered to be but three gods, the gods of the
_Earth_, the gods of the _Air_, and the gods of the _Sky_, invoked
under various names. The same writer tells us that in reality there is
but _one_ God, but he does not call him the Lord, or the Highest God,
the Creator, Ruler, and Preserver of all things, but he calls him
 t m a n, THE SELF. The one Âtman or Self, he says, is praised in many
ways owing to the greatness of the godhead. And then he goes on to
say: "The other gods are but so many members of the one Âtman, Self,
and thus it has been said that the poets compose their praises
according to the multiplicity of the natures of the beings whom they

It is true, no doubt, that this is the language of a philosophical
theologian, not of an ancient poet. Yet these philosophical
reflections belong to the fifth century before our era, if not to an
earlier date; and the first germs of such thoughts may be discovered
in some of the Vedic hymns also. I have quoted already from the hymns
such passages as[338]--"They speak of Mitra, Varu_n_a, Agni; then he
is the heavenly bird Garutmat; _that which is and is one_ the poets
call in various ways; they speak of Yama, Agni, Mâtari_s_van."

In another hymn, in which the sun is likened to a bird, we read: "Wise
poets represent by their words the bird who is one, in many

All this is still tinged with mythology; but there are other passages
from which a purer light beams upon us, as when one poet asks:[340]

    "Who saw him when he was first born, when he who has no bones
    bore him who has bones? Where was the breath, the blood, the
    Self of the world? Who went to ask this from any that knew

Here, too, the expression is still helpless, but though the flesh is
weak, the spirit is very willing. The expression, "He who has bones"
is meant for that which has assumed consistency and form, the Visible,
as opposed to that which has no bones, no body, no form, the
Invisible, while "breath, blood, and self of the world" are but so
many attempts at finding names and concepts for what is by necessity
inconceivable, and therefore unnamable.

In the second period of Vedic literature, in the so-called
Brâhma_n_as, and more particularly in what is called the Upanishads,
or the Vedânta portion, these thoughts advance to perfect clearness
and definiteness. Here the development of religious thought, which
took its beginning in the hymns, attains to its fulfilment. The circle
becomes complete. Instead of comprehending the One by many names, the
many names are now comprehended to be the One. The old names are
openly discarded; even such titles as Pra_g_âpati, lord of creatures,
Vi_s_vakarman, maker of all things, Dhât_ri_, creator, are put aside
as inadequate. The name now used is an expression of nothing but the
purest and highest subjectiveness--it is  t m a n, the Self, far more
abstract than our E g o--the Self of all things, the Self of all the old
mythological gods--for they were not _mere_ names, but names intended
for something--lastly, the Self in which each individual self must
find rest, must come to himself, must find his own true Self.

You may remember that I spoke to you in my first lecture of a boy who
insisted on being sacrificed by his father, and who, when he came to
Yama, the ruler of the departed, was granted three boons, and who then
requested, as his third boon, that Yama should tell him what became of
man after death. That dialogue forms part of one of the Upanishads, it
belongs to the Vedânta, the end of the Veda, the highest aim of the
Veda. I shall read you a few extracts from it.

Yama, the King of the Departed, says:

    "Men who are fools, dwelling in ignorance, though wise in
    their own sight, and puffed up with vain knowledge, go round
    and round, staggering to and fro, like blind led by the

    "The future never rises before the eyes of the careless
    child, deluded by the delusions of wealth. _This_ is the
    world, he thinks; there is no other; thus he falls again and
    again under my sway (the sway of death).

    "The wise, who by means of meditating on his _Self_,
    recognizes the Old (the old man within) who is difficult to
    see, who has entered into darkness, who is hidden in the
    cave, who dwells in the abyss, as God, he indeed leaves joy
    and sorrow far behind.

    "That Self, the Knower, is not born, it dies not; it came
    from nothing, it never became anything. The Old man is
    unborn, from everlasting to everlasting; he is not killed,
    though the body be killed.

    "That Self is smaller than small, greater than great; hidden
    in the heart of the creature. A man who has no more desires
    and no more griefs, sees the majesty of the Self by the grace
    of the creator.

    "Though sitting still, he walks far; though lying down, he
    goes everywhere. Who save myself is able to know that God,
    who rejoices, and rejoices not?

    "That Self cannot be gained by the Veda; nor by the
    understanding, nor by much learning. He whom the Self
    chooses, by him alone the Self can be gained.

    "The Self chooses him as his own. But he who has not first
    turned away from his wickedness, who is not calm and subdued,
    or whose mind is not at rest, he can never obtain the Self,
    even by knowledge.

    "No mortal lives by the breath that goes up and by the breath
    that goes down. We live by another, in whom both repose.

    "Well then, I shall tell thee this mystery, the eternal word
    (Brahman), and what happens to the _Self_, after reaching

    "Some are born again, as living beings, others enter into
    stocks and stones, according to their work, and according to
    their knowledge.

    "But he, the Highest Person, who wakes in us while we are
    asleep, shaping one lovely sight after another, he indeed is
    called the Light, he is called Brahman, he alone is called
    the Immortal. All worlds are founded on it, and no one goes
    beyond. _This is that._

    "As the one fire, after it has entered the world, though one,
    becomes different according to what it burns, thus the One
    Self within all things, becomes different, according to
    whatever it enters, but it exists also apart.

    "As the sun, the eye of the world, is not contaminated by the
    external impurities seen by the eye, thus the One Self within
    all things is never contaminated by the sufferings of the
    world, being himself apart.

    "There is one eternal thinker, thinking non-eternal thoughts;
    he, though one, fulfils the desires of many. The wise who
    perceive Him within their Self, to them belongs eternal life,
    eternal peace.[341]

    "Whatever there is, the whole world, when gone forth (from
    Brahman), trembles in his breath. That Brahman is a great
    terror, like a drawn sword. Those who know it, become

    "He (Brahman) cannot be reached by speech, by mind, or by the
    eye. He cannot be apprehended, except by him who says, _He

    "When all desires that dwell in the heart cease, then the
    mortal becomes immortal, and obtains Brahman.

    "When all the fetters of the heart here on earth are broken,
    when all that binds us to this life is undone, then the
    mortal becomes immortal--here my teaching ends."

This is what is called Vedânta, the Veda-end, the end of the Veda, and
this is the religion or the philosophy, whichever you like to call it,
that has lived on from about 500 B.C. to the present day. If the
people of India can be said to have now any system of religion at
all--apart from their ancestral sacrifices and their _S_râddhas, and
apart from mere caste-observances--it is to be found in the Vedânta
philosophy, the leading tenets of which are known, to some extent in
every village.[342] That great revival of religion, which was
inaugurated some fifty years ago by Ram-Mohun Roy, and is now known as
the Brahma-Samâ_g_, under the leadership of my noble friend Keshub
Chunder Sen, was chiefly founded on the Upanishads, and was Vedântic
in spirit. There is, in fact, an unbroken continuity between the most
modern and the most ancient phases of Hindu thought, extending over
more than three thousand years.

To the present day India acknowledges no higher authority in matters
of religion, ceremonial, customs, and law than the _Veda_, and so long
as India is India, nothing will extinguish that ancient spirit of
Vedântism which is breathed by every Hindu from his earliest youth,
and pervades in various forms the prayers even of the idolater, the
speculations of the philosopher, and the proverbs of the beggar.

For purely practical reasons therefore--I mean for the very practical
object of knowing something of the secret springs which determine the
character, the thoughts and deeds of the lowest as well as of the
highest among the people in India--an acquaintance with their
religion, which is founded on the Veda, and with their philosophy,
which is founded on the Vedânta, is highly desirable.

It is easy to make light of this, and to ask, as some statesmen have
asked, even in Europe, What has religion, or what has philosophy, to
do with politics? In India, in spite of all appearances to the
contrary, and notwithstanding the indifference on religious matters so
often paraded before the world by the Indians themselves, religion,
and philosophy too, are great powers still. Read the account that has
lately been published of two native statesmen, the administrators of
two first-class states in Saurâsh_t_ra, Junâgadh, and Bhavnagar,
Gokulaji and Gauri_s_ankara,[343] and you will see whether the Vedânta
is still a moral and a political power in India or not.

But I claim even more for the Vedânta, and I recommend its study, not
only to the candidates for the Indian Civil Service, but to all true
students of philosophy. It will bring before them a view of life,
different from all other views of life which are placed before us in
the History of Philosophy. You saw how behind all the Devas or gods,
the authors of the Upanishads discovered the Âtman or Self. Of that
Self they predicated three things only, that it is, that it perceives,
and that it enjoys eternal bliss. All other predicates were negative:
it is not this, it is not that--it is beyond anything that we can
conceive or name.

But that Self, that Highest Self, the Paramâtman, could be discovered
after a severe moral and intellectual discipline only, and those who
had not yet discovered it were allowed to worship lower gods, and to
employ more poetical names to satisfy their human wants. Those who
knew the other gods to be but names or persons--_personae_ or masks,
in the true sense of the word--pratîkas, as they call them in
Sanskrit--knew also that those who worshipped these names or persons,
worshipped in truth the Highest Self, though ignorantly. This is a
most characteristic feature in the religious history of India. Even in
the Bhagavadgîtâ, a rather popular and exoteric exposition of Vedântic
doctrines, the Supreme Lord or Bhagavat himself is introduced as
saying: "Even those who worship idols, worship me."[344]

But that was not all. As behind the names of Agni, Indra, and
Pra_g_âpati, and behind all the mythology of nature, the ancient sages
of India had discovered the Âtman--let us call it the objective
Self--they perceived also behind the veil of the body, behind the
senses, behind the mind, and behind our reason (in fact behind the
mythology of the soul, which we often call psychology), another
Âtman, or the subjective Self. That Self too was to be discovered by a
severe moral and intellectual discipline only, and those who wished to
find it, who wished to know, not themselves, but their Self, had to
cut far deeper than the senses, or the mind, or the reason, or the
ordinary Ego. All these too were Devas, bright apparitions--mere
names--yet names meant for something. Much that was most dear, that
had seemed for a time their very self, had to be surrendered, before
they could find the Self of Selves, the Old Man, the Looker-on, a
subject independent of all personality, an existence independent of
all life.

When that point had been reached, then the highest knowledge began to
dawn, the Self within (the Pratyagâtman) was drawn toward the Highest
Self (the Paramâtman), it found its true self in the Highest Self, and
the oneness of the subjective with the objective Self was recognized
as underlying all reality, as the dim dream of religion--as the pure
light of philosophy.

This fundamental idea is worked out with systematic completeness in
the Vedânta philosophy, and no one who can appreciate the lessons
contained in Berkeley's philosophy, will read the Upanishads and the
Brahmasûtras, and their commentaries without feeling a richer and a
wiser man.

I admit that it requires patience, discrimination, and a certain
amount of self-denial before we can discover the grains of solid gold
in the dark mines of Eastern philosophy. It is far easier and far more
amusing for shallow critics to point out what is absurd and ridiculous
in the religion and philosophy of the ancient world than for the
earnest student to discover truth and wisdom under strange disguises.
Some progress, however, has been made, even during the short span of
life that we can remember. The Sacred Books of the East are no longer
a mere butt for the invectives of missionaries or the sarcasms of
philosophers. They have at last been recognized as historical
documents, ay, as the most ancient documents in the history of the
human mind, and as palæontological records of an evolution that begins
to elicit wider and deeper sympathies than the nebular formation of
the planet on which we dwell for a season, or the organic development
of that chrysalis which we call man.

If you think that I exaggerate, let me read you in conclusion what one
of the greatest philosophical critics[345]--and certainly not a man
given to admiring the thoughts of others--says of the Vedânta, and
more particularly of the Upanishads. Schopenhauer writes:

    "In the whole world there is no study so beneficial and so
    elevating as that of the Upanishads. It has been the solace
    of my life--it will be the solace of my death."[346]

       *       *       *       *       *

I have thus tried, so far as it was possible in one course of
lectures, to give you some idea of ancient India, of its ancient
literature, and, more particularly, of its ancient religion. My object
was, not merely to place names and facts before you, these you can
find in many published books, but, if possible, to make you see and
feel the general human interests that are involved in that ancient
chapter of the history of the human race. I wished that the Veda and
its religion and philosophy should not only seem to you curious or
strange, but that you should feel that there was in them something
that concerns ourselves, something of our own intellectual growth,
some recollections, as it were, of our own childhood, or at least of
the childhood of our own race. I feel convinced that, placed as we are
here in this life, we have lessons to learn from the Veda, quite as
important as the lessons we learn at school from Homer and Virgil, and
lessons from the Vedânta quite as instructive as the systems of Plato
or Spinoza.

I do not mean to say that everybody who wishes to know how the human
race came to be what it is, how language came to be what it is, how
religion came to be what it is, how manners, customs, laws, and forms
of government came to be what they are, how we ourselves came to be
what we are, must learn Sanskrit, and must study Vedic Sanskrit. But I
_do_ believe that not to know what a study of Sanskrit, and
particularly a study of the Veda, has already done for illuminating
the darkest passages in the history of the human mind, of that mind on
which we ourselves are feeding and living, is a misfortune, or, at all
events, a loss, just as I should count it a loss to have passed
through life without knowing something, however little, of the
geological formation of the earth, or of the sun, and the moon, and
the stars--and of the thought, or the will, or the law, that govern
their movements.


[Footnote 260: On the early use of letters for public inscriptions,
see Hayman, _Journal of Philology_, 1879, pp. 141, 142, 150; Hicks,
"Manual of Greek Historical Inscriptions," pp. 1 seqq.]

[Footnote 261: Herod, (v. 59) says: "I saw Phenician letters on
certain tripods in a temple of the Ismenian Apollo at Thebes in
Boeotia, the most of them like the Ionian letters."]

[Footnote 262: Munch, "Die Nordisch Germanischen Völker," p. 240.]

[Footnote 263: Herod. (v. 58) says: "The Ionians from of old call
βὑβλος διφθἑραι, because once, in default of the former, they used to
employ the latter. And even down to my own time, many of the
barbarians write on such diphtheræ."]

[Footnote 264: Hekatæos and Kadmos of Miletos (520 B.C.), Charon of
Lampsakos (504 B.C.), Xanthos the Lydian (463 B.C.), Pherekydes of
Leros (480 B.C.), Hellanikos of Mitylene (450 B.C.), etc.]

[Footnote 265: Lewis, "Astronomy," p. 92.]

[Footnote 266: See Hayman, _Journal of Philology_, 1879, p. 139.]

[Footnote 267: See M. M., "History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature,"
pp. 497 seqq., "On the Introduction of Writing in India."]

[Footnote 268: M. M., "History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature," p.

[Footnote 269: M. M., "Hibbert Lectures," p. 153.]

[Footnote 270: Learning was anciently preserved by memory. The Jewish,
or rather Chaldaic _Kabala_, or Tradition was not written for many
centuries. The Druids of ancient Britain preserved their litanies in
the same way, and to a Bard a good memory was indispensable, or he
would have been refused initiation.--A. W.]

[Footnote 271: See my article on the date of the Kâ_s_ikâ in the
_Indian Antiquary_, 1880, p. 305.]

[Footnote 272: The translation of the most important passages in
I-tsing's work was made for me by one of my Japanese pupils, K.

[Footnote 273: See Bunyiu Nanjio's "Catalogue of the Chinese
Tripi_t_aka," p. 372, where Ârya_s_ûra, who must have lived before 434
A.D., is mentioned as the author of the "_G_âtakamâlâ."]

[Footnote 274: Wellington, 1880.]

[Footnote 275: De Bello Gall. vi. 14; "History of Ancient Sanskrit
Literature," p. 506.]

[Footnote 276: See De Coulanges, "The Ancient City," Book I. II. "We
find this worship of the dead among the Hellenes, among the Latins,
among the Sabines, among the Etruscans; we also find it among the
Aryas of India. Mention is made of it in the hymns of the Rig-Veda. It
is spoken of in the Laws of Manu as the most ancient worship among
men.... Before men had any notion of Indra or of Zeus, they adored the
dead; they feared them, and addressed them prayers. It seems that the
religious sentiment began in this way. It was perhaps while looking
upon the dead that man first conceived the idea of the supernatural,
and to have a hope beyond what he saw. Death was the first mystery,
and it placed man on the track of other mysteries. It raised his
thoughts from the visible to the invisible, from the transitory to the
eternal, from the human to the divine."

The sacred fire represented the ancestors, and therefore was revered
and kept carefully from profanation by the presence of a stranger.--A.

[Footnote 277: "Principles of Sociology," p. 313.]

[Footnote 278: "The Hindu Law of Inheritance is based upon the Hindu
religion, and we must be cautious that in administering Hindu law we
do not, by acting upon our notions derived from English law,
inadvertently wound or offend the religious feelings of those who may
be affected by our decisions."--Bengal Law Reports, 103.]

[Footnote 279:

    "Earth-wandering demons, they their charge began,
    The ministers of good and guards of man;
    Veiled with a mantle of aërial light,
    O'er Earth's wide space they wing their hovering flight."]

[Footnote 280: Cicero, "De Leg." II. 9, 22, "Deorum manium jura sancta
sunto; nos leto datos divos habento."]

[Footnote 281: See Atharva-Veda XVIII. 2, 49.]

[Footnote 282: Rig-Veda X. 14, 1-2. He is called Vaivasvata, the solar
(X. 58, 1), and even the son of Vivasvat (X. 14, 5). In a later phase
of religious thought Yama is conceived as the first man (Atharva-Veda
XVIII. 3, 13, as compared with Rig-Veda X. 14, 1).]

[Footnote 283: Rig-Veda X. 14.]

[Footnote 284: In the Avesta many of these things are done by
Ahura-Mazda with the help of the Fravashis.]

[Footnote 285: See _S_atapatha Brâhma_n_a I. 9, 3, 10; VI. 5, 4, 8.]

[Footnote 286: Rig-Veda VIII. 48, 3: "We drank Soma, we became
immortal, we went to the light, we found the gods;" VIII. 48, 12.]

[Footnote 287: Rig-Veda IX. 97, 39.]

[Footnote 288: L. c. X. 14, 6.]

[Footnote 289: L. c. X. 16, 10.]

[Footnote 290: A translation considerably differing from my own is
given by Sarvâdhikâri in his "Tagore Lectures for 1880," p. 34.]

[Footnote 291: Cf. Max Müller, Rig-Veda, transl. vol. i. p. 24.]

[Footnote 292: In a previous note will be found the statement by
Professor De Coulanges, of Strasburg, that in India, as in other
countries, a belief in the ancestral spirits came first, and a belief
in divinities afterward. Professor Müller cites other arguments which
might be employed in support of such a theory. The name of the oldest
and greatest among the Devas, for instance, is not simply Dyaus, but
Dyaush-pitâ, Heaven-Father; and there are several names of the same
character, not only in Sanskrit, but in Greek and Latin also. Jupiter
and Zeus Pater are forms of the appellation mentioned, and mean the
Father in Heaven. It does certainly look as though Dyaus, the sky, had
become personal and worshipped only after he had been raised to the
category of a Pitri, a father; and that this predicate of Father must
have been elaborated first before it could have been used, to
comprehend Dyaus, the sky, Varu_n_a, and other Devas. Professor
Müller, however, denies that this is the whole truth in the case. The
Vedic poets, he remarks, believed in Devas--gods, if we must so call
them--literally, the bright ones; Pit_ri_s, fathers; and Manushyas,
men, mortals. (Atharva-Veda, X. 6, 32.) Who came first and who came
after it is difficult to say; but as soon as the three were placed
side by side, the Devas certainly stood the highest, then followed the
Pit_ri_s, and last came the mortals. Ancient thought did not
comprehend the three under one concept, but it paved the way to it.
The mortals after passing through death became Fathers, and the
Fathers became the companions of the Devas.

In Manu there is an advance beyond this point. The world, all that
moves and rests, we are told (Manu III., 201), has been made by the
Devas; but the Devas and Danavas were born of the Pit_ri_s, and the
Pit_ri_s of the _R_ishis. Originally the _R_ishis were the poets of
the Vedas, seven in number; and we are not told how they came to be
placed above the Devas and Pit_ri_s. It does not, however, appear
utterly beyond the power to solve. The Vedas were the production of
the _R_ishis, and the Pit_ri_s, being perpetuated thus to human
memory, became by a figure of speech their offspring. The Devas sprung
from the Pit_ri_s, because it was usual to apotheosize the dead. "Our
ancestors desired," says Cicero, "that the men who had quitted this
life should be counted in the number of gods." Again, the conception
of patrons or Pit_ri_s to each family and tribe naturally led to the
idea of a Providence over all; and so the Pit_ri_ begat the Deva. This
religion preceded and has outlasted the other.--A. W.]

[Footnote 293: _S_atapatha Brâhma_n_a XI. 5, 6, 1; Taitt. Âr. II. 11,
10; Â_s_valâyana G_ri_hya-sûtras III. 1, 1; Pâraskara G_ri_hya-sûtras
II. 9, 1; Âpastamba, Dharma-sûtras, translated by Bühler, pp. 47 seq.]

[Footnote 294: In the _S_ânkhâyana G_ri_hya (I. 5) four Pâka-ya_gñ_as
are mentioned, called Huta, ahuta, prahuta, prâ_s_ita.]

[Footnote 295: Â_s_v. G_ri_hya-sûtras I. 3, 10.]

[Footnote 296: Manu III. 117-118.]

[Footnote 297: L. c. III. 85.]

[Footnote 298: See Des Coulanges, "Ancient City," I. 3. "Especially
were the meals of the family religions acts. The god [the sacred fire]
presided there. He had cooked the bread and prepared the food; a
prayer, therefore, was due at the beginning and end of the repast.
Before eating, they placed upon the altar the first fruits of the
food; before drinking, they poured out a libation of wine. This was
the god's portion. No one doubted that he was present, that he ate and
drank; for did they not see the flame increase as if it had been
nourished by the provisions offered? Thus the meal was divided between
the man and the god. It was a sacred ceremony, by which they held
communion with each other.... The religion of the sacred fire dates
from the distant and dim epoch when there were yet no Greeks, no
Italians, no Hindus, when there were only Aryas. When the tribes
separated they carried this worship with them, some to the banks of
the Ganges, others to the shores of the Mediterranean.... Each group
chose its own gods, but all preserved as an ancient legacy the first
religion which they had known and practiced in the common cradle of
their race."

The fire in the house denoted the ancestor, or pit_ri_, and in turn
the serpent was revered as a living fire, and so an appropriate symbol
of the First Father.--A. W.]

[Footnote 299: "Taittirîyâra_n_yaka," Preface, p. 23.]

[Footnote 300: Mâsi mâsi vo 'sanam iti _s_rute_h_; Gobhilîya G_ri_hya
sûtras, p. 1055.]

[Footnote 301: See "Pi_nd_apit_ri_ya_gñ_a," von Dr. O. Donner, 1870.
The restriction to three ancestors, father, grandfather, and
great-grandfather, occurs in the Vâ_g_asaneyi-sa_m_hitâ, XIX. 36-37.]

[Footnote 302: There is, however, great variety in these matters,
according to different _s_âkhâs. Thus, according to the Gobhila-_s_âkhâ,
the Pi_nd_a Pit_ri_ya_gñ_a is to be considered as smârta, not as _s_rauta
(pi_nd_a-pit_ri_ya_gñ_ah khalv asma_kkh_âkhâyâ_m_ nâsti); while others
maintain that an agnimat should perform the smârta, a _s_rautâgnimat the
_s_rauta Pit_ri_ya_gñ_a; see Gobhilîya G_ri_hya-sûtras, p. 671. On page
667 we read: anagner amâvasyâ_s_raddhâ, nânvâhâryam ity âdara_n_iyam.]

[Footnote 303: "Über Todtenbestattung und Opfergebräuche im Veda," in
"Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft," vol. ix.

[Footnote 304: A_s_valâyana G_ri_hya-sûtras IV. 4, 10.]

[Footnote 305: Manu V. 64-65.]

[Footnote 306: Bühler, Âpastamba, "Sacred Books of the East," vol.
ii., p. 138; also "_S_râddhâkalpa," p. 890. Though the _S_râddha is
prescribed in the "Gobhilîya G_ri_hya-sûtras," IV. 4, 2-3, it is not
described there, but in a separate treatise, the _S_râddha-kalpa.]

[Footnote 307: As meaning the food, _s_râddha occurs in
_s_râddhabhu_g_ and similar words. As meaning the sacrificial act, it
is explained, yatraita_k_ _kh_raddhayâ dîyate tad eva karma
_s_râddha_s_abdâbhidheyam. Pretam pit_rîms_ _k_a nirdi_s_ya
bho_g_ya_m_ yat priyam âtmana_h_ _s_raddhayâ dîyate yatra ta_k_
_kh_râddham parikîrtitam. "Gobhilîya G_ri_hya-sûtras," p. 892. We also
read _s_raddhânvita_h_ _s_râddha_m_ kurvîta, "let a man perform the
_s_râddha with faith;" "Gobhilîya G_ri_hya-sûtras," p. 1053.]

[Footnote 308: Manu III. 82.]

[Footnote 309: Pit_rî_n uddi_s_ya yad dîyate brâhma_n_ebhya_h_
_s_raddhayâ ta_k_ _kh_râdd ham.]

[Footnote 310: Âpastamba II. 16, 3, Brâhma_n_âs tv âhavanîyârthe.]

[Footnote 311: L. c. p. 142.]

[Footnote 312: Manu III. 138, 140.]

[Footnote 313: "Â_s_v. G_ri_hya-sûtras" IV. 5, 8.]

[Footnote 314: It is described as a vik_ri_ti of the
Pârva_n_a-_s_râddha in "Gobhilîya G_ri_hya-sûtras," p. 1011.]

[Footnote 315: One of the differences between the acts before and after
the Sapi_nd_îkara_n_a is noted by Sâlankâyana:--Sapi_nd_îkara_n_am yâvad
_rig_udarbhai_h_ pit_ri_kriyâ Sapi_nd_îkara_n_âd ûrdhva_m_ dvigu_n_air
vidhivad bhavet. "Gobhilîya G_ri_hya-sûtras," p. 930.]

[Footnote 316: "Gobhilîya G_ri_hya-sûtras," p. 1023.]

[Footnote 317: "G_ri_hya-sûtras," ed. Oldenberg, p. 83.]

[Footnote 318: A pratyâbdikam ekoddish_t_am on the anniversary of the
deceased is mentioned by Gobhilîya, l. c. p. 1011.]

[Footnote 319: "Gobhilîya G_ri_hya-sûtras," p. 1039.]

[Footnote 320: "_S_ânkh. G_ri_hya," p. 83; "Gobh. G_ri_hya," p. 1024.
According to some authorities the ekoddish_t_a is called nava, new,
during ten days; navami_s_ra, mixed, for six months; and purâ_n_a,
old, afterward. "Gobhilîya G_ri_hya-sûtras," p. 1020.]

[Footnote 321: "Gobhilîya," l. c. p. 1032.]

[Footnote 322: "Gobhilîya," l. c. p. 1047.]

[Footnote 323: "Life and Essays," ii. p. 195.]

[Footnote 324: Colebrooke adds that in most provinces the periods for
these sixteen ceremonies, and for the concluding obsequies entitled
Sapi_nd_ana, are anticipated, and the whole is completed on the second
or third day; after which they are again performed at the proper
times, but in honor of the whole set of progenitors instead of the
deceased singly. It is this which Dr. Donner, in his learned paper on
the "Pi_nd_apit_ri_ya_gñ_a" (p. 11), takes as the general rule.]

[Footnote 325: See this subject most exhaustively treated,
particularly in its bearings on the law of inheritance, in Rajkumar
Sarvâdhikâri's "Tagore Law Lectures for 1880," p. 93.]

[Footnote 326: "Gobhilîya G_ri_hya-sûtras," p. 892.]

[Footnote 327: L. c. p. 897.]

[Footnote 328: See p. 666, and p. 1008. G_ri_hyakâra_h_
pi_nd_apit_ri_ya_gñ_asya _s_râddhatvam âha.]

[Footnote 329: Gobhila IV. 4, 3, itarad anvâhâryam. But the
commentators add anagner amâvasyâ_s_râddham, nânvâhâryam. According to
Gobhila there ought to be the Vai_s_vadeva offering and the Bali
offering at the end of each Pârva_n_a-_s_râddha; see "Gobhilîya
G_ri_hya-sûtras," p. 1005, but no Vai_s_vadeva at an ekoddish_t_a
_s_râddha, l. c. p. 1020.]

[Footnote 330: L. c. pp. 1005-1010; "Nirnayasindhu," p. 270.]

[Footnote 331: See Burnell, "The Law of Partition," p. 31.]

[Footnote 332: Kalau tâvad gavâlambho mâ_m_sadâna_m_ _k_a _s_râddhe
nishiddham, Gobhilena tu madhyamâsh_t_akâyâ_m_ vâstukarma_n_i _k_a
gavâlambho vihita_h_, mâ_m_sa_k_aru_s_ _k_ânvash_t_akya_s_râddhe;
Gobhilîya G_ri_hya-sûtra, ed. "_K_andrakânta Tarkâlankâra,
Vi_gñ_apti," p. 8.]

[Footnote 333: It may be seriously doubted whether prayers _to_ the
dead or _for_ the dead satisfy any craving of the human heart. With us
in "the North," a shrinking from "open manifestations of grief" has
nothing whatever to do with the matter. Those who refuse to engage in
such worship believe and teach that the dead are not gods and cannot
be helped by our prayers. Reason, not feeling, prevents such
worship.--AM. PUBS.]

[Footnote 334: A deeper idea than affection inspired this custom.
Every kinsman was always such, living or dead; and hence the service
of the dead was sacred and essential. The _S_râddhas were adopted as
the performance of such offices. There were twelve forms of this
service: 1. The daily offering to ancestors. 2. The _s_râddha for a
person lately deceased, and not yet included with the pit_ri_s. 3. The
_s_râddha offered for a specific object. 4. The offering made on
occasions of rejoicing. 5. The _s_râddha performed when the
recently-departed has been incorporated among the Pit_ri_s. 6. The
_s_râddha performed on a parvan-day, _i.e._, new moon, the eighth day,
fourteenth day, and full moon. 7. The _s_râddha performed in a house
of assembly for the benefit of learned men. 8. Expiatory. 9. Part of
some other ceremony. 10. Offered for the sake of the Devas. 11.
Performed before going on a journey. 12. _S_râddha for the sake of
wealth. The _s_râddhas may be performed in one's own house, or in some
secluded and pure place. The number performed each year by those who
can afford it varies considerably; but ninety-six appears to be the
more common. The most fervent are the twelve new-moon rites; four Yuga
and fourteen Manu rites; twelve corresponding to the passages of the
sun into the zodiacal mansions, etc.--A. W.]

[Footnote 335: See "Hibbert Lectures," new ed. pp. 243-255.]

[Footnote 336: The same concept is found in the Platonic Dialogue
between Sokrates and Euthyphrôn. The philosopher asks the diviner to
tell what is holy and what impiety. "That which is pleasing to the
gods is holy, and that which is not pleasing to them is impious"
promptly replies the mantis, "To be holy is to be just," said
Sokrates; "Is the thing holy because they love it, or do they love it
because it is holy?" Euthyphrôn hurried away in alarm. He had
acknowledged unwittingly that holiness or justice was supreme above
all gods; and this highest concept, this highest faith, he dared not
entertain.--A. W.]

[Footnote 337: In Chinese we find that the same three aspects of
religion and their intimate relationship were recognized, as, for
instance, when Confucius says to the Prince of Sung: "Honor the sky
(worship of Devas), reverence the Manes (worship of Pit_ri_s); if you
do this, sun and moon will keep their appointed time (_Ri_ta)."
Happel, "Altchinesische Reichsreligion," p. 11.]

[Footnote 338: Rig-Veda I. 164, 46; "Hibbert Lectures," p. 311.]

[Footnote 339: Rig-Veda X. 114, 5; "Hibbert Lectures," p. 313.]

[Footnote 340: Rig-Veda I. 164, 4.]

[Footnote 341: Τὺ δὲ φρόνημα τοῦ πνεὺματος ζωὴ καὶ εὶρἡνη. See also
Ruskin, "Sesame," p. 63.]

[Footnote 342: Major Jacob, "Manual of Hindu Pantheism," Preface.]

[Footnote 343: "Life and Letters of Gokulaji Sampattirâma Zâlâ and his
views of the Vedânta, by Manassukharâma Sûryarâma Tripâ_th_î." Bombay,

As a young man Gokulaji, the son of a good family, learned Persian and
Sanskrit. His chief interest in life, in the midst of a most
successful political career, was the "Vedânta." A little insight, we
are told, into this knowledge turned his heart to higher objects,
promising him freedom from grief, and blessedness, the highest aim of
all. This was the turning-point of his inner life. When the celebrated
Vedânti anchorite, Râma Bâvâ, visited Junâgadh, Gokulaji became his
pupil. When another anchorite, Paramahansa Sa_kk_idânanda, passed
through Junâgadh on a pilgrimage to Girnar, Gokulaji was regularly
initiated in the secrets of the Vedânta. He soon became highly
proficient in it, and through the whole course of his life, whether in
power or in disgrace, his belief in the doctrines of the Vedânta
supported him, and made him, in the opinion of English statesmen, the
model of what a native statesman ought to be.]

[Footnote 344: Professor Kuenen discovers a similar idea in the words
placed in the mouth of Jehovah by the prophet Malachi, i. 14: "For I
am a great King, and my name is feared among the heathen." "The
reference," he says, "is distinctly to the adoration already offered
to Yahweh by the people, whenever they serve their own gods with true
reverence and honest zeal.(A1) Even in Deuteronomy the adoration of
these other gods by the nations is represented as a dispensation of
Yahweh. Malachi goes a step further, and accepts their worship as a
tribute which in reality falls to Yahweh--to Him, the Only True. Thus
the opposition between Yahweh and the other gods, and afterward
between the one true God and the imaginary gods, makes room here for
the still higher conception that the adoration of Yahweh is the
essence and the truth of all religion." "Hibbert Lectures," p. 181.

A1: There is, we believe, not the slightest authority for reading
Malachi in this way; any reader of the Old Testament is competent to
judge for himself.--AM. PUBS.]

[Footnote 345: The author's enthusiasm has carried him beyond bounds.
The weight to be given to Schopenhauer's opinion touching any
religious subject may be measured by the following quotation: "The
happiest moment of life is the completest forgetfulness of self in
sleep, and the wretchedest is the most wakeful and conscious."--AM.

[Footnote 346: "Sacred Books of the East," vol. i, "The Upanishads,"
translated by M. M.; Introduction, p. lxi.]

       *       *       *       *       *



ABBA Seen river, 192.


ABU FAZL, on the Hindus, 75.

ACTIVE side of human nature in Europe, 120.

ADITI, meaning of, 215.

ÂDITYA, 158.




  inhabitants of, 189.

AGNI, god of fire, 167.

AGNI-IGNIS, fire, 41;
  as a terrestrial deity, 195.

AITAREYA BRÂHMANA, on heaven and earth, 175.

  changes the name of a river, 191.


ALPHABET, the, whence derived, 86;
  Ionian and Phoenician, 222;
  two used  in Asoka's inscription, 225.

AMITÂBHA worship, 106.

ANAXAGORAS, his doctrine, 177.

ANCESTORS, spirits of, 238;
  worship of, 239.



ARCHÆOLOGICAL survey of India, 26.

ARRIAN, on the Hindus, 73;
  rivers known to, 191.

ARYANS, the, our intellectual relatives, 33;
  seven branches of, 41;
  found in Sanskrit literature, 116;
  religion of, 161.

ASMI, I am, 43.

ASOKA, king, 96;
  adopts Buddhism, 106;
  author of the first inscriptions, 225;
  language of the same, 234.

ASTRONOMY, ancient, in India, 114;
  in the Veda, 150;
  in China, 151.

ÂTMAN, the Self, 265.

AVATÂRAS of Vishnu, three, 153.


BABYLONIAN division of time, 36;
  influences on Vedic poems, 145;
  on Vedic astronomy, 147;
  zodiac, 158.

BARZÔI, 114.

BASTIAN, on the Polynesian myths, 169.

BENGAL, the people of, 55;
  villages of, 65;
  schools in, 80.



BHAGAVAT, supreme lord, 272.

BIMETALLIC currency, 37.

BHÎSHMA, death of, 83.

BIBLE, the, Sanskrit words in, 28;
  and the Jewish race, 140.

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL survey of India, 102.

BOOKS read by ancient nations compared with modern, 137.

BOPP, his comparative grammar, 46.

BRAHMA sacrifice, 249.

BRAHMA Samâj, of india, 163.


BRÂHMANAS, on truth, 84;
  as a class, 256.

BUDDHA and the popular dialects, 96.

BUDDHISM, chief source of our fables, 27;
  striking coincidences with Christianity, 108;
  its rise, 234.



CABUL river, 192.

CÆSAR, on the Druids and their memorizing, 233.

CANAAN, 140.

CARLYLE, his opinion of historical works, 16.

CASTE, origin of, 117;
  in the laws of Manu, 117;
  in the Rig-Veda, 117.

CAT, the domestic, its original home, 42.

CHINA, origin of the name, 151;
  chronicles of, 104;
  lunar stations of, 150;
  aspects of religion, 264.

CHRISTIAN religion, the, and the Jewish race, 35.

CIVIL service examinations, Indian, 20.

CLIMATIC influences on morals and social life, 120.

COINS of India, 26.

COLEBROOKE'S religious ceremonies, 247.

COMMERCIAL honor in India, 82.

COMMERCE between India and Syria in Solomon's time, 28.

COMMERCIAL writing, 225.

CONFUCIUS, a hard student, 230.

CONQUERORS of India, 30.

COULANGES, Professor, his opinion on religious beliefs, 245.

CUNNINGHAM'S Ancient Geography of India, 192.

CYLINDERS of Babylon, 139.



DARWIN, 141.

DAWN, the, 173.

DAYÂNANDA'S introduction to the Rig-Veda, 104.

DELUGE, the, 153;
  in Hindu literature, 154;
  not borrowed from the Old Testament, 157;
  its natural origin, 159.

DEPARTED spirits, 237;
  honors paid to, 240;
  ceremonies to, 246.

DEVA, 159;
  the meaning of, 236.

DEVAPATNÎS, wives of the gods, 164.

DEVÂPI'S prayer for rain, 204.

DEVELOPMENT of human character in India and Europe, 118.

DIALECTS in Asoka's time, 106.


DIVI Manes, 240.

DONKEY, in the lion's skin, 27;
  in the tiger's skin, 28.

DRUIDS, their memory, 233.

DYAUS and Zeus, 213.


ÊABÂNÎ, 158.

EAST, the, our original home, 49.

ECLIPTIC, Indian, 153.

EDUCATION of the human race, 107.

EDUCATION in India, by training the memory, 232.

EGYPTIAN hieroglyphics preserved in the alphabet, 36.

ELPHINSTONE, Mountstuart, his opinion of the Hindus, 77.

ENGLISH officers in India, 69.

ENGLISH oriental scholars, a list of, 22.

EOS and Ushas, 201.

ESTHONIAN prayer to Picker, the god of thunder, 211.

EURIPIDES, on the marriage of heaven and earth, 177.

EXAMINATIONS, work produced at, 20.


FABLES, migration of, 27.

FALSEHOOD, no mortal sin, five cases of, 89.

FATHERS, Hymn to the, 241.

FINITE, the, impossible without the infinite, 126.

FIRE, names for, 41;
  as a civilizer, 195;
  a terrestrial deity, 195;
  why worshipped, 196.

FIVE nations, the, 117.

FIVE sacrifices, religious duties, 249.

FRAVASHIS, in Persia, 240.

FREDERICK the Great, 34.

FRIAR Jordanus, opinion of Hindu character, 75.

FUNERAL ceremonies, 248;
  an earlier worship, 252;
  striking coincidences, 253;
  burial and cremation, 253.


GAINAS, language of, 97.

GALILEO, his theory, 135.

GANGES, sources of, 96;
  its tributaries, 187.


GÂTHÂS, 107.

GAUTAMA allows a lie, 88.

GERMANY, study of Sanskrit in, 22.

GEMS, the nine, 114.

GILL, Rev. W., myths and songs of the South Pacific, 169;
  savage life in Polynesia, 233.

GODS in the Veda, their testimony for truth, 83;
  the number of, 164;
  river gods and goddesses, 167;
  made and unmade by men, 182;
  growth of a divine conception in the human mind, 198.

GOLDEN RULE, the, 92.

GOETHE'S West-östlicher Divan, 22.

GOKULAJI, the model native statesman, 271.

GRASSMAN, translation of Sanskrit words, 183.

GREEK alphabet, age of, 221.

GREEK literature, its study and use, 23;
  when first written, 222.

GREEK deities, their physical origin, 129.

GREEK philosophy our model, 38.

GREEK and Latin, similarity between, 40.

GRIMM, identification of Parganya and Perûn, 210.

GROWTH of ancient religions, 128.

GRUNAU on old Prussian gods, 210.

GUIDE-BOOKS, Greek, 223.



HARDY, his Manual of Buddhism, 97.

HASTINGS, Warren, and the Darics, 216;
  opinion of Hindu character, 79.

HEBREW religion, foreign influences in, 145.

HEBER, Bishop, opinion of the Hindus, 79.

HEAVEN and Earth, 169;
  Mâori legend of, 173;
  Vedic legends of, 175;
  Greek legends of, 176;
  epithets for, in Veda, 178;
  as seen by Vedic poets, 178.



HINDUS, truthful character of, 52;
  the charge of their untruthfulness refuted, 53;
  origin of the charge, 54;
  different races and characteristics of, 55;
  testimony of trustworthy witnesses, 55;
  their litigiousness, 60;
  their treatment by Mohammedan conquerors, 72;
  reason for unfavorable opinion of, 76;
  their commercial honor, 82;
  their real character transcendent, 126;
  their religion, 127;
  sacrifices and priestly rites, 148;
  knowledge of astronomy, 153;
  first acquainted with an alphabet, 224.



HISTORY, its object and study, 34;
  its true sense, 44.

HITOPADESA, fables of, 110.

HOTTENTOT river names, 188.

  heaven and earth in the, 176.

HUMAN Mind, study of, India important for, 33.

HUMBOLDT Alexander von, on Kâlidâsa, 110.


HYDRAOTIS, or Hyarotis, 191.

HYPASIS, or Hyphasis, 191.


IDÂ, 156.

IDRISI, on the Hindus, 74.

IJJAR, April-May, 158.

INDIA, what it can teach us, 19;
  a paradise, 24;
  its literature a corrective, 24;
  past and present aspects of, 25;
  its scientific treasures, 25;
  a laboratory for all students, 32;
  its population and vast extent, 142.

INDRA, god of the wind, the Vedic Jupiter, 83;
  the Aryan guide, 116;
  the god of the thunderstorm, 168;
  as creator, 180;
  the principal god of the Veda, 198;
  peculiar to India, 201.

INDUS, The river, 167.

INFINITE, The, 126.

INNER Life, Influence of Indian literature upon our, 24.

INSCRIPTIONS in India, 225.

IONIANS, The, their alphabet, 222;
  first writing, 223.

I-TSING, his visit to India, 229;
  his account of Buddhist priests, 229;
  of education, 230;
  of perfection of memory, 231;
  of Brahmans, 231.

IZDUBAR, or Nimrod, the poem of, 158.



JEWS, The, as a race, 36;
  their religion as related to Oriental religions, 36;
  necessary to a study of the Christian religion, 35;
  the beginning and growth of their religion, 128.

JONES, Sir William, his voyage to India, 49;
  his dreams become realities, 50.

JOSHUA'S battle, 200.

JOURNALS, Sanskrit, now published in India, 98.

JUDGMENT of Solomon, 30.



JUMNA, the river, 190.


JUSTICE of the Indians, 74.


KÂLIDÂSA, the poet, his age, 110;
  plays of, 111.

KAMAL-EDDIN Abd-errazak, on the Hindus, 75.

KAUSIKA, punished for truthfulness, 89.

KANISHKA, the Saka king, 106.

KANJUR, the women and the child in the, 29.

KÂTHAKA, or reader, 158.


KESHUB Chunder Sen, his grandfather, 59.

KÎNAS, or Chinese, 151.

KORAN, oaths on, 70.

KRUMU, 185.


KTESIAS, on the justice of the Indians, 72.

KTISIS, 223.

KUBHÂ, 185.

KULLAVAGGA, quotation from the, 96.

KUENEN, Professor, on worship of Yahweh, 272.


LADAK, 192.


LARES familiares in Rome, 240.

LASSEN, 151.

LAW books of India, 30.

LIFE, Indian and European views of, 121;
  beautiful sentiments of, from Hindu writings, 124;
  a journey, 120.

LAW of Nature, 263.

LAWS of Manu, 111.

LIBERAL, The, Keshub Chunder Sen's organ, 99.

LIBERAL education, the elements of, 38.

LIGHTNING, son of Parganya, 205.

LITERATURE, written, 224.

  its language, 209;
  its god of rain, 210;
  prayer to the same, 211.


LOST Tribes, The, of Israel, 159.

LUDLOW on village schools in India, 80.

LUDWIG, translation of Sanskrit words, 187.

LUNAR stations, 150.

LUNAR zodiac, 147.


MAHÂBHÂRATA, an epic poem, speaks for the truth, 88;
  yet recited, 99.

MAHMUD of Gazni, 72.

MAINE, Sir Henry, 65.

MALCOLM, Sir John, on the Hindus, 55.

MANÂ, A golden, 146.

MÂNAVAS, The laws of, on evil-doers, 93.


MANNING, Judge, 173.

MANU, his code of laws, 30;
  their true age, 111;
  his connection with the deluge, 155.

MANUSCRIPTS, the first collectors of, 224.

MÂORI Genesis, 173.

MARUTS, the storm-gods, 199.

MÂUI, son of Ru, 171;
  legend of, 171;
  its origin, 173.

MEGASTHENES on village life, 65;
  on Hindu honesty, 72.


MEMORY, power of, 232.

METAMORPHIC changes in religions, 128.

MILL, History of India, 59;
  estimate of Hindu character, 60.

MINA, its weight, 125.

MITRA, 156;
  invoked, 215.

MODERN Sanskrit literature, 107.

MOHAMMEDANS, their opinion of the Hindus, 75;
  the number of sects, 76;
  treatment of Hindus, 90.

MONOTHEISM in the Veda, 164.

MORALITY, our, Saxon, 38.

MORAL depravity in India, 93.

MUNRO, Thomas, Sir, opinion of Hindus, 61.

MÜLLER, Max, his teachers, 45;
  intercourse with Hindus, 81;
  opinion of their character, 82.


NAKSHATRAS, The twenty-seven, 148.

NAKTÂ and Nyx, 201.

NALA, 110.

NATIVE scholars, 81.


NEW and Full-Moon Sacrifices, 252.

NEW Testament, Revised Edition, 141.

NEWSPAPERS, Sanskrit, 98.

NINE gems or classics, 115.

NORTHERN conquerors, 106.

NUMERALS in Sanskrit, 46.


OATH, Taking an, in village communities, 68;
  its understanding by the Hindus, 69;
  fear of punishment connected with, 70.

OLD Testament, 140.

OPHIR, 28.

ORANGE River, 188.

ORIENTAL SCHOLARS, names and work hardly known, 22.


ORME, 60.

ORPHEUS and Ribhu, 201.

ÔS, ôris, 44.

OUDE, 189.



PAHLAVI, translation of the Pañkatantra into, 115.


PÂLI dialect, 107.

  Professor Wilson on the, 58.

PANINI, 230.



  hymn to, 205;
  derivation of name, 207.

PÂRVANA Srâddha, 260.



PERIPLUS, or circumnavigations, 222.

PERJURY, common in India, 71.

PÉRKONS, thunder, 210.


PERKUNAS, Lituanian god of thunder, 210.


PERSIANS, what we owe to, 36.

PETERSBURGH Dictionary, 183.

PHOENICIANS, what we owe to, 36;
  their letters, 222.


PIPAL tree, 50.

PITRIS, the fathers, 239;
  invoked, 241.


PLATO, 142.

PLINY, Indian rivers known to, 191.

POLITICAL communities, 31.

POLYTHEISM, the kind of, in the Veda, 165.

POSITIVIST sentiments of a Brâhman, 87.

PRIMITIVE man, 133.

PRAYERS for rain, 205;
  for the dead, 262.

PROMETHEUS and Pramantha, 195.

PROTO-ARYAN language, 43.



PUNJAB, the, rivers of the, 183.



RAGHU, 86.

RAJENDRALÂL Mitra, on sacrifices, 251.

RÂMA, on truth, 87.

RÂMA BÂVÂ, the anchorite, 271.

RÂMÂYANA, the plot of, 86;
  yet recited, 99.

RAWLINSON, Sir Henry, 158.

READERS not numerous in ancient or modern times, 141.

RECITATION of the old epics in India, 99.

RELIGION, its home in India, 31;
  our debt to Oriental religions, 36;
  its transcendent character, 126;
  metamorphic changes in, 128;
  began in trust, not in fear, 197.

RÉMUSAT on the Goths, 104.

RENAISSANCE period in India, 110.

REVIVAL of religion in India, 270.

RIBHU and Orpheus, 201.

RIG-VEDA, editions of, now publishing, 98;
  known by heart, 99;
  a treasure to the anthropologist, 134;
  character of its poems, 143;
  its religion primitive, 144;
  compliment to the author for his edition of, 163;
  the number of hymns in, 163;
  age of the oldest manuscripts, 221;
  total number of words in, 228;
  how transmitted, 231.

RINGOLD, Duke of Lituania, 209.

RISHIS, The Vedic, 168;
  question of earth's origin, 180;
  their intoxicating beverage, 243.

RITA, the third Beyond, 263.

RIVERS, as deities, 182;
  hymn to, 183;
  names of, in India, 185.

RIVER systems of Upper India, 188.

ROBERTSON'S Historical Disquisitions, 60.

RU, the sky-supporter, 170;
  his bones, 171;
  why pumice-stone, 173.

RÜCKERT'S Weisheit der Brahmanen, 22.

RUDRA, the howler, 199.


S, pronounced as h, in Iranic languages, 189.

SACRIFICES, priestly, 148;
  daily and monthly, 248.

SAKAS, invasion of the, 104.

SAKUNTALÂ, her appeal to conscience, 90.

SANSKRIT language, its study differently appreciated, 21;
  use of studying, 23;
  its supreme importance, 39;
  its antiquity, 40;
  its family relations, 40;
  its study ridiculed, 45;
  its linguistic influence, 46;
  its moral influence, 47;
  a dead language, 96;
  early dialects of, 96;
  still influential, 97;
  scholars' use of, 98;
  journals in, 96;
  all living languages in India draw their life from, 100.

SANSKRIT literature, human interest of, 95;
  the literature of India, 99;
  manuscripts existing, 102;
  divisions of, 104;
  character of the ancient and the modern, 107;
  known in Persia, 113;
  a new start in, 115;
  its study very profitable, 275.

SATAPATHA Brâhmana, 91.

SCHOPENHAUER, on the Upanishads, 273.

SEASONS, how regulated, 148.

SELF-KNOWLEDGE, the highest goal of the Veda, 125.

SINDHU, the Indus river, 183;
  address to, 184;
  meaning of, 189.

SLEEMAN, Colonel, his rambles and recollections, 60;
  his life in village communities, 63;
  his opinion of Hindus, 67.

SOLAR myths, 216.

SOLOMON'S judgment compared, 29.

SPENCER, Herbert, on ancestor worship, 239;
  his misstatement corrected, 240.

SRÂDDHAS, or Love Feasts, 248;
  to the departed, 254;
  their source, 257;
  their number, 258;
  striking resemblance, 261.

SUDÂS, 200.

SUN, the central thought in Aryan mythology, 216.

SÛRYA, god of the sun, 168.


TAMIL, 95.

TANE-MAHUTA, forest-god, 174.

TÂRÂS, the stars, 151.

TERRESTRIAL gods, 169.

TEUTONIC mythology, 166.


THÔRR, 166.

THREE beyonds, 220.

THSIN dynasty, 152.

THUGS, 63.

TORTOISE, the story of the, 154.

TOWERS of Silence, 22.

TOWNS, names of, in India, 189.

TROY, siege of, 172.

TRUTH, root meaning in Sanskrit, 82.

TRUTHFULNESS, a luxury, 91.

TURANIAN invasion, 104.

TWO women and child, story of, 29.

TŶR and Tin, 213.


UGVIS, Lithuanian, 41.

UNIVERSITIES, the object of their teaching, 19.

UNTRUTHFULNESS of the Hindus, 53.

  their beauty, 273.

URANOS and Varuna, 201.

URVASI, 110.

USHAS and Eos, 202.



VAGA, 183;
  as plural, 184.

VAISVADEVA, offering, 249.

VAISYA, a, 162.

VAK, wife of Vata, 165.

VÂLMÎKI, the poet, 100.


VARUNA, 156;
  hymns to, 204.

VASISHTHA, on righteousness, 93.

VATA, the wind, 200;
  and Wotan, 201.

VEDA, their antiquity, 101;
  silly conceptions, 118;
  religion of, 129;
  necessary to the study of man, 133;
  objections to, 135;
  native character of, 159;
  lessons of, 161;
  use of their study, 162;
  character of their poetry, 182;
  knowledge of God progressive in, 194;
  their hymns, a specimen, 205;
  their gods, number of, 219;
  meaning of their names, 220;
  three periods in their literature, 234;
  three religions in, 236.

VEDIC Mythology, its influence, 27;
  contrasts, 169.

VEDA-END, 267.

VEDÂNTA philosophy, 265;
  the present religion in India, 269;
  its prevalence, 270;
  commended to students, 271;
  its highest knowledge, 273.

VIDÂLA, cat, 42.

VIHÂRAS, or colleges, the ancient, 26.

  his varied experience, 113.

VILLAGE communities in India, 64;
  large number of, 65;
  morality in, 67.


VYÂSA, the poet, 100.


WARRIORS, native and foreign, 116.

WATERS, divers gods of the, 167.

WEASEL and the woman, 28.

WILSON, Prof., on the Hindus, 57.

WITNESSES, three classes of, 69.

WOLF, F. A., his questions, 221;
  his dictum, 223.


WORSHIP of the dead, 240.

WOTAN and Vata, 201.

WRITING unknown in ancient India, 226.


XANTHOS, the Lydian, 223.


YAG, ishta, 208.


YÂGÑAVALKYA, on virtue, 92.

YAHWEH, worship of, 272.

YAMA, lord of the departed, 85;
  on immortality, 86;
  invoked, 242;
  as the first man, 242;
  dialogue on death, 267.

YÂSKA, division of the Vedic gods, 168.

YUEH-CHI, The, and the Goths, 104.


ZEUS, 129;
  the survivor of Dyaus, 213;
  the interval between, 235.

ZEUS, Dyaus, and Jupiter, 198.

ZIMMER, Prof., on polytheism, 166;
  translation of Sanskrit words, 185.

ZODIACAL signs, known to Sanskrit astronomers, 114.

ZODIAC, The Babylonian, 147.


       *       *       *       *       *






Life of Cromwell.


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Science in Short Chapters.


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Young's Analytical Concordance



Dr. Young cannot endure to have this, the great work of his life,
judged by the unauthorized editions with which the American market is
flooded. These editions, he feels, do his work and the American public
great injustice.

That Americans may be able to see the work as printed under his eye
and from his own plates, he will sell some thousands of copies at

A Great Pecuniary Sacrifice.

The sale at the reduced prices will begin March 1, 1883, and will
continue until the thousands of copies set apart for this sale are
exhausted. This is the authorized, latest revised and unabridged
edition--in every respect the same type, paper, binding, etc., as we
have sold at the higher prices.

It is a burning shame that the great life-work of one of the most
eminent scholars, a work pronounced in both Europe and America as one
of the most laborious and important that this century has produced,
embracing nearly 1100 large quarto pages, each larger and containing
more matter than Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, should prove a great
financial loss to its author!

This great work is selling in England at $9, and is now imported and
sold in America at $2.50!!

Orders will be filled in the order received up to the time of the
exhaustion of the stock.

Young's Great Concordance.


There is but one _authorized and correct_ edition of Young's
Concordance sold in America. _Every copy of this edition has on the
title-page_ the words "Authorized Edition," and at the bottom of the
page the imprint


All copies, no matter by whom sold, that have not these words printed
on the title-page are printed on the bungling plates made by the late
_American Book Exchange_.

Dr. YOUNG says: "This unauthorized American edition is an outrage on
the American public, and on me, containing gross errors."


"Dr. Robert Young's Analytical Concordance is worthy of the lifetime
of labor he has spent upon it. I deeply regret that his natural and
just expectation of some return from its sale on this side of the
ocean is not realized; and I hope the sense of justice to a most
painstaking author will lead to the choice by many purchasers of the
edition which Dr. Young approves--that of Messrs. FUNK & WAGNALLS,
with whom Dr. Young cooperates in bringing out here the best edition.



Do not be deceived by misrepresentations. Insist that your bookseller
furnish you the Authorized edition.


1100 quarto pages (each larger than a page in Webster's Unabridged
Dictionary), Cloth,                                             $2 50

Sheep                                                            4 00

French im. morocco                                               4 50

_Sent post-free._

FUNK & WAGNALLS, 10 & 12 Dey Street, New York.

       *       *       *       *       *

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