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Authorized Edition 




It is undoubtedly a surprising fact that down to the pre- 
sent time no history of Sanskrit literature as a whole 
has been written in English. For not only does that 
literature possess much intrinsic merit, but the light it 
sheds on the life and thought of the population of our 
Indian Empire ought to have a peculiar interest for the 
British nation. Owing chiefly to the lack of an adequate 
account of the subject, few, even of the young men 
who leave these shores every year to be its future rulers, 
possess any connected information about the litera- 
ture in which the civilisation of Modern India can be 
traced to its sources, and without which that civilisation 
cannot be fully understood. It was, therefore, with the 
greatest pleasure that I accepted Mr. Gosse's invitation 
to contribute a volume to this series of Literatures of 
the World; for this appeared to me to be a peculiarly 
good opportunity for diffusing information on a subject 
in which more than twenty years of continuous study 
and teaching had instilled into me an ever-deepening 

Professor Max Miiller's valuable History of Ancient 
Sanskrit Literature is limited in its scope to the Vedic 
period. It has long been out of print; and Vedic re- 
search has necessarily made great strides in the forty 
years which have elapsed since its publication. 

The only book accessible to the English reader on 


the history of Sanskrit literature in general has hitherto 
been the translation of Professor Weber's Academical 
Lectures on Indian Literature, as delivered nearly half a 
century ago at Berlin. The numerous and often very 
lengthy notes in this work supply the results of research 
during the next twenty-five years ; but as these notes often 
modify, or even cancel, the statements of the unaltered 
original text of 1852, the result is bewildering to the 
student. Much new light has been thrown on various 
branches of Sanskrit literature since 1878, when the last 
notes were added to this translation, which, moreover, is 
not in any way adapted to the wants of the general reader. 
The only work on the subject appealing to the latter is the 
late Sir M. Monier-Williams's Indian Wisdom. That book, 
however, although it furnishes, in addition to the trans- 
lated specimens, some account of the chief departments 
of Sanskrit literature, is not a history. There is thus 
distinctly a twofold demand in this country for a history 
of Sanskrit literature. The student is in want of a guide 
setting forth in a clear and trustworthy manner the 
results of research down to the present time, and the 
cultivated English reader looks for a book presenting in 
an intelligible and attractive form information which 
must have a special interest to us owing to our close 
relations with India. 

To lack of space, no less than to the scope of the 
present series, is due the exclusion of a full account of 
the technical literature of law, science, and art, which 
contains much that would interest even the general 
reader ; but the brief epitome given in the Appendix 
will, I hope, suffice to direct the student to all the most 
important authorities. 

As to the bibliographical notes, I trust that, though 


necessarily restricted in extent, they will enable the 
student to find all further information he may want on 
matters of detail ; for instance, the evidence for approxi- 
mate dates, which had occasionally to be summarily 
stated even in the text. 

In writing this history of Sanskrit literature, I have 
dwelt more on the life and thought of Ancient India, 
which that literature embodies, than would perhaps have 
appeared necessary in the case of a European literature. 
This I have done partly because Sanskrit literature, as 
representing an independent civilisation entirely different 
from that of the West, requires more explanation than 
most others ; and partly because, owing to the remark- 
able continuity of Indian culture, the religious and social 
institutions of Modern India are constantly illustrated by 
those of the past. 

Besides the above-mentioned works of Professors Max 
Miiller and Weber, I have made considerable use of 
Professor L. von Schroeder's excellent Indiens Litera- 
tur und Cultur (1887). I have further consulted in one 
way or another nearly all the books and monographs 
mentioned in the bibliographical notes. Much of what 
I have written is also based on my own studies of San- 
skrit literature. 

All the quotations which I have given by way of illus- 
tration I have myself carefully selected from the original 
works. Excepting the short extracts on page 333 from 
Cowell and Thomas's excellent translation of the Harsha- 
charita, all the renderings of these are my own. In my 
versions of Rigvedic stanzas I have, however, occasionally 
borrowed a line or phrase from Griffith. Nearly all my 
renderings are as close as the use of metre permits. I 
have endeavoured to reproduce, as far as possible, the 


measures of the original, except in the quotations from 
the dramas, where I have always employed blank verse. 
I have throughout refrained from rhyme, as misrepre- 
senting the original Sanskrit. 

In the transliteration of Sanskrit words I have been 
guided by the desire to avoid the use of letters which 
might mislead those who do not know Sanskrit. I have 
therefore departed in a few particulars from the system 
on which Sanskrit scholars are now almost unanimously 
agreed, and which I otherwise follow myself. Hence for c 
and ch I have written ch and chh respectively, though in the 
rare cases where these two appear in combination I have 
retained cch (instead of chckk). I further use sh for the 
lingual s, and c for the palatal /, and ri for the vowel r. 
J have not thought it necessary to distinguish the guttural 
h and the palatal ft by diacritical marks, simply printing, 
for instance, anga and pancha. The reader who is un- 
acquainted with Sanskrit will thus pronounce all words 
correctly by simply treating all the consonants as in 
English ; remembering only that the vowels should be 
sounded as in Italian, and that e and o are always long. 

I am indebted for some suggestions to my friend Mr. 
F. C. S. Schiller, Fellow and Tutor of Corpus Christi 
College, who looked through the final proof of the 
chapter on Philosophy. To my pupil Mr. A. B. Keith, 
Boden Sanskrit scholar and Classical scholar of Balliol, 
who has read all the final proofs with great care, I owe 
not only the removal of a number of errors of the press, 
but also several valuable criticisms regarding matters 
of fact. 

107 Banbury Road, Oxford, 
December 1, 1899. 




























Since the Renaissance there has been no event of such 
world-wide significance in the history of culture as the 
discovery of Sanskrit literature in the latter part of 
the eighteenth century. After Alexander's invasion, the 
Greeks became to some extent acquainted with the 
learning of the Indians ; the Arabs, in the Middle Ages, 
introduced the knowledge of Indian science to the 
West ; a few European missionaries, from the sixteenth 
century onwards, were not only aware of the existence 
of, but also acquired some familiarity with, the ancient 
language of India ; and Abraham Roger even translated 
the Sanskrit poet Bhartrihari into Dutch as early as 
165 1. Nevertheless, till about a hundred and twenty 
years ago there was no authentic information in 
Europe about the existence of Sanskrit literature, but 
only vague surmise, finding expression in stories about 
the wisdom of the Indians. The enthusiasm with which 
Voltaire in his Essai sur les Mceurs et TEsprit des 
Nations greeted the lore of the Ezour Vedam, a work 


brought from India and introduced to his notice in 
the middle of the last century, was premature. For 
this work was later proved to be a forgery made in 
the seventeenth century by a Jesuit missionary. The 
scepticism justified by this fabrication, and indulged in 
when the discovery of the genuine Sanskrit literature 
was announced, survived far into the present century. 
Thus, Dugald Stewart, the philosopher, wrote an essay 
in which he endeavoured to prove that not only 
Sanskrit literature, but also the Sanskrit language, was 
a forgery made by the crafty Brahmans on the model 
of Greek after Alexander's conquest. Indeed, this view 
was elaborately defended by a professor at Dublin as 
late as the year 1838. 

The first impulse to the study of Sanskrit was given 
by the practical administrative needs of our Indian 
possessions. Warren Hastings, at that time Governor- 
General, clearly seeing the advantage of ruling the 
Hindus as far as possible according to their own laws 
and customs, caused a number of Brahmans to prepare 
a digest based on the best ancient Indian legal autho- 
rities. An English version of this Sanskrit compilation, 
made through the medium of a Persian translation, 
was published in 1776. The introduction to this work, 
besides giving specimens of the Sanskrit script, for the 
first time supplied some trustworthy information about 
the ancient Indian language and literature. The earliest 
step, however, towards making Europe acquainted with 
actual Sanskrit writings was taken by Charles Wilkins, 
who, having, at the instigation of Warren Hastings, 
acquired a considerable knowledge of Sanskrit at 
Benares, published in 1785 a translation of the Bhaga- 
vad-gita, or The Song of the Adorable One, and two years 


later, a version of the well-known collection of fables 
entitled Hitopadeca, or Friendly Advice. 

Sir William Jones (1746-94) was, however, the 
pioneer of Sanskrit studies in the West. It was this 
brilliant and many-sided Orientalist who, during his 
too brief career of eleven years in India, first aroused 
a keen interest in the study of Indian antiquity by his 
unwearied literary activity and by the foundation of the 
Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1784. Having rapidly ac- 
quired an accurate knowledge of Sanskrit, he published in 
1789 a translation of akuntald y the finest Sanskrit drama, 
which was greeted with enthusiasm by such judges as 
Herder and Goethe. This was followed by a trans- 
lation of the Code of Manu y the most important of the 
Sanskrit law-books. To Sir William Jones also belongs 
the credit of having been the first man who ever printed 
an edition of a Sanskrit text. This was a short lyrical 
poem entitled Ritusamhdra, or Cycle of the Seasons, pub- 
lished in 1792. 

We next come to the great name of Henry Thomas 
Colebrooke (1765-1837), a man of extraordinary in- 
dustry, combined with rare clearness of intellect and 
sobriety of judgment. The first to handle the Sanskrit 
language and literature on scientific principles, he pub- 
lished many texts, translations, and essays dealing with 
almost every branch of Sanskrit learning, thus laying 
the solid foundations on which later scholars have 

While Colebrooke was beginning his literary career 
in India during the opening years of the century, the 
romance of war led to the practical knowledge of Sans- 
krit being introduced on the Continent of Europe. 
Alexander Hamilton (1765-1824), an Englishman who 


had acquired a good knowledge of Sanskrit in India, 
happened to be passing through France on his way home 
in 1802. Hostilities breaking out afresh just then, a 
decree of Napoleon, directed against all Englishmen in 
the country, kept Hamilton a prisoner in Paris. Dur- 
ing his long involuntary stay in that city he taught Sans- 
krit to some French scholars, and especially to the 
German romantic poet Friedrich Schlegel. One of 
the results of these studies was the publication by 
Schlegel of his work On the Language and Wisdom of 
the Indians (1808). This book produced nothing less than 
a revolution in the science of language by the introduc- 
tion of the comparative and the historical method. It 
led to the foundation of the science of comparative 
philology by Franz Bopp in his treatise on the conjuga- 
tional system of Sanskrit in comparison with that of 
Greek, Latin, Persian, and German (1816). Schlegel's 
work, moreover, aroused so much zeal for the study of 
Sanskrit in Germany, that the vast progress made since 
his day in this branch of learning has been mainly due to 
the labours of his countrymen. 

In the early days of Sanskrit studies Europeans 
became acquainted only with that later phase of the 
ancient language of India which is familiar to the Pan- 
dits, and is commonly called Classical. Sanskrit. So it 
came about that the literature composed in this dialect 
engaged the attention of scholars almost exclusively 
down to the middle of the century. Colebrooke had, 
it is true, supplied as early as 1805 valuable information 
about the literature of the older period in his essay On 
the Vedas. Nearly a quarter of a century later, F. Rosen, 
a German scholar, had conceived the plan of making this 
more ancient literature known to Europe from the rich 


collection of manuscripts at the East India House ; and 
his edition of the first eighth of the Rigveda was actually 
brought out in 1838, shortly after his premature death. 
But it was not till Rudolf Roth (1821-95), the founder 
of Vedic philology, published his epoch-making little 
book On the Literature and History of the^Veda in 1846, 
that the studies of Sankritists received a lasting impulse 
in the direction of the earlier and more important litera- 
ture of the Veda^. These studies have since been pro- 
secuted with such zeal, that nearly all the most valu- 
able works of the Vedic, as well as the later period, 
have within the last fifty years been made accessible in 
thoroughly trustworthy editions. 

In judging of the magnitude of the work thus accom- 
plished, it should be borne in mind that the workers 
have been far fewer in this than in other analogous fields, 
while the literature of the Vedas at least equals in extent 
what survives of the writings of ancient Greece. Thus 
in the course of a century the whole range of Sanskrit 
literature, which in quantity exceeds that of Greece and 
Rome put together, has been explored. The great bulk 
of it has been edited, and most of its valuable productions 
have been translated, by competent hands. There has 
long been at the service of scholars a Sanskrit dictionary, 
larger and more scientific than any either of the classi- 
cal languages yet possesses. The detailed investigations 
in every department of Sanskrit literature are now so 
numerous, that a comprehensive work embodying the 
results of all these researches has become a necessity. 
An encyclopaedia covering the whole domain of Indo- 
Aryan antiquity has accordingly been planned on a more 
extensive scale than that of any similar undertaking, and 
is now being published at Strasburg in parts, contributed 


to by about thirty specialists of various nationalities. By 
the tragic death, in April 1898, of its eminent editor, 
Professor Buhler of Vienna, Sanskrit scholarship has 
sustained an irreparable loss. The work begun by 
him is being completed by another veiy distinguished 
Indianist, Professor Kielhorn of Gottingen. 

Although so much of Sanskrit literature has already 
been published, an examination of the catalogues of 
Sanskrit manuscripts, of which an enormous number are 
preserved in European and Indian libraries, proves 
that there are still many minor works awaiting, and 
likely to repay, the labours of an editor. 

The study of Sanskrit literature deserves far more 
attention than it has yet received in this country. For 
in that ancient heritage the languages, the religious and 
intellectual life and thought, in short, the whole civilisa- 
tion of the Hindus, who form the vast majority of the 
inhabitants of our Indian Empire, have their roots. 
Among all the ancient literatures, that of India is, more- 
over, undoubtedly in intrinsic value and aesthetic merit 
second Ulllji lu ttpat uf Glt'Lue* To the latter it is, as a 
source for the study of human evolution, even superior. 
Its earliest period, being much older than any product of 
Greek literature, presents a more primitive form of belief, 
and therefore gives a clearer picture of the development 
of religious ideas than any other literary monument of 
the world. Hence it came about that, just as the dis- 
covery of the Sanskrit language led to the foundation of 
the science of Comparative Philology, an acquaintance 
with the literature of the Vedas resulted in the foundation 
of the science of Comparative Mythology by Adalbert 
Kuhn and Max Muller. 

Though it has touched excellence in most of its 


branches, Sanskrit literature has mainly achieved great- 
ness in religion and philosophy. The Indians are the 
only division of the Indo-European family which has 
created a great national religion Brahmanism and a 
great world-religion Buddhism ; while all the rest, far 
from displaying originality in this sphere, have long since ^f^k . 
adopted a foreign faith. The intellectual life of the 
Indians has, in fact, all along been more dominated by 
religious thought than that of any other race. The 
Indians, moreover, developed independently several 
systems of philosophy which bear evidence of high 
speculative powers. The great interest, however, which 
these two subjects must have for us lies, not so much in 
the results they attained, as in the fact that every step in 
the evolution of religion and philosophy can be traced in 
Sanskrit literature. 

The importance of ancient Indian literature as a 
whole largely consists in its originality. Naturally 
isolated by its gigantic mountain barrier in the north, 
the Indian peninsula has ever since the Aryan invasion 
formed a world apart, over which a unique form of 
Aryan civilisation rapidly spread, and has ever since 
prevailed. When the Greeks, towards the end of the y~ 
fourth century B.C., invaded the North-West, the Indians 
had already fully worked out a national culture of their 
own, unaffected by foreign influences. And, in spite of 
successive waves of invasion and conquest by Persians, 
Greeks, Scythians, Muhammadans, the national develop- 
ment of the life and literature of the Indo-Aryan race 
remained practically unchecked and unmodified from 
without down to the era of British occupation. No 
other branch of the Indo-European stock has experienced 
an isolated evolution like this. No other country except 




China can trace back its language and literature, its reli- 
gious beliefs and rites, its domestic and social customs, 
through an uninterrupted development of more than 
three thousand years. JLj^C^uu^- 

A few examples will serve to illustrate this remark- 
able continuity in Indian civilisation. Sanskrit is still 
spoken as the tongue of the learned by thousands of 
Brahmans, as it was centuries before our era. Nor has 
it ceased to be used for literary purposes, for many 
books and journals written in the ancient language are 
still produced. The copying of Sanskrit manuscripts 
is still continued in hundreds of libraries in India, unin- 
terrupted even by the introduction of printing during 
the present century. The Vedas are still learnt by 
heart as they were long before the invasion of Alex- 
ander, and could even now be restored from the lips of 
religious teachers if every manuscript or printed copy 
of them were destroyed. A Vedic stanza of immemorial 
antiquity, addressed to the sun-god Savitri, is still recited 
in the daily worship of the Hindus. The god Vishnu, 
adored more than 3000 years ago, has countless votaries 
in India at the present day. Fire is still produced for 
sacrificial purposes by means of two sticks, as it was in 
ages even more remote. The wedding ceremony of the 
modern Hindu, to single out but one social custom, is 
essentially the same as it was long before the Christian 

The history of ancient Indian literature naturally 
falls into two main periods. The first is the Vedic, which 
beginning perhaps as early as 1500 B.C., extends in its 
latest phase to about 200 B.C. In the former half of the 
Vedic age the character of its literature was creative and 
poetical, while the centre of culture lay in the territory 


of the Indus and its tributaries, the modern Panjab ; in 
the latter half, literature was theologically speculative in 
matter and prosaic in form, while the centre of intellec- 
tual life had shifted to the valley of the Ganges. Thus 
in the course of the Vedic age Aryan civilisation had 
overspread the whole of Hindustan Proper, the vast tract 
extending from the mouths of the Indus to those of the 
Ganges, bounded on the north by the Himalaya, and on 
the south by the Vindhya range. The second period, con- 
current with the final offshoots of Vedic literature and 
closing with the Muhammadan conquest after 1000 A.D., 
is the Sanskrit period strictly speaking. In a certain 
sense, owing to the continued literary use of Sanskrit, 
mainly for the composition of commentaries, this period 
may be regarded as coming down to the present day. 
During this second epoch Brahmanic culture was intro- 
duced into and overspread the southern portion of the 
continent called the Dekhan or "the South." In the 
course of these two periods taken together, Indian 
literature attained noteworthy results in nearly every 
department. The Vedic age, which, unlike the earlier 
epoch of Greece, produced only religious works, reached 
a high standard of merit in lyric poetry, and later made 
some advance towards the formation of a prose style. 

The Sanskrit period .embracing in general secular 
subjects, achieved distinction in many branches of litera- 
ture, in national as well as court epic, in lyric and 
especially didactic poetry, in the drama, in fairy tales, 
fables, and romances. Everywhere we find much true 
poetry, the beauty of which is, however, marred by 
obscurity of style and the ever-increasing taint of artifi- 
ciality. But this period produced few works which, 
regarded as a whole, are dominated by a sense of 


harmony and proportion. Such considerations have had 
little influence on the aesthetic notions of India. The 
tendency has been rather towards exaggeration, mani- 
festing itself in all directions. The almost incredible 
development of detail in ritual observance ; the extra- 
ordinary excesses of asceticism ; the grotesque represen- 
tations of mythology in art ; the frequent employment 
of vast numbers in description ; the immense bulk of the 
epics ; the unparalleled conciseness of one of the forms 
of prose ; the huge compounds habitually employed in 
the later style, are among the more striking manifesta- 
tions of this defect of the Indian mind. 

In various branches of scientific literature, in phone- 
tics, grammar, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, and 
law, the Indians also achieved notable results. In some 
of these subjects their attainments are, indeed, far in 
advance of what was accomplished by the Greeks. 

History is the one weak spot in Indian literature. It 
is, in fact, non-existent. The total lack of the historical 
sense is so characteristic, that the whole course of 
Sanskrit literature is darkened by the shadow of this 
defect, suffering as it does from an entire absence of 
exact chronology. So true is this, that the very date 
of Kalidasa, the greatest of Indian poets, was long a 
matter of controversy within the limits of a thousand 
years, and is even now doubtful to the extent of a century 
or two. Thus the dates of Sanskrit authors are in the 
vast majority of cases only known approximately, having 
been inferred from the indirect evidence of interdepen- 
dence, quotation or allusion, development of language or 
style. As to the events of their lives, we usually know 
nothing at all, and only in a few cases one or two 
general facts. Two causes seem to have combined to 


bring about this remarkable result. In the first place, 
early India wrote no history because it never made any. 
The ancient Indians never went through a struggle for 
life, like the Greeks in the Persian and the Romans in the 
Punic wars, such as would have welded their tribes into 
a nation and developed political greatness. Secondly, 
the Brahmans, whose task it would naturally have been 
to record great deeds, had early embraced the doctrine 
that all action and existence are a positive evil, and could 
therefore have felt but little inclination to chronicle his- 
torical events. 

Such being the case, definite dates do not begin to 
appear in Indian literary history till about 500 A.D, The 
chronology of the Vedic period is altogether conjectural, 
being based entirely on internal evidence. Three main 
literary strata can be clearly distinguished in it by dif- 
ferences in language and style, as well as in religious 
and social views. For the development of each of these 
strata a reasonable length of time must be allowed ; but 
all we can here hope to do is to approximate to the 
truth by centuries. The lower limit of the second Vedic 
stratum cannot, however, be fixed later that 500 B.C., 
because its latest doctrines are presupposed by Buddhism, 
and the date of the death of Buddha has been with a 
high degree of probability calculated, from the recorded 
dates of the various Buddhist councils, to be 480 B.C. 
With regard to the commencement of the Vedic age, 
there seems to have been a decided tendency among 
Sanskrit scholars to place it too high. 2000 B.C. is 
commonly represented as its starting-point. Supposing 
this to be correct, the truly vast period of 1500 years is 
required to account for a development of language and 
thought hardly greater than that between the Homeric 



and the Attic age of Greece. Professor Max Muller's 
earlier estimate of 1200 B.C., formed forty years ago, 
appears to be much nearer the mark. A lapse of three 
centuries, say from 1 300-1000 B.C., would amply account 
for the difference between what is oldest and newest in 
Vedic hymn poetry. Considering that the affinity of the 
oldest form of the Avestan language with the dialect of 
the Vedas is already so great that, by the mere applica- 
tion of phonetic laws, whole Avestan stanzas may be 
translated word for word into Vedic, so as to produce 
verses correct not only in form but in poetic spirit ; con- 
sidering further, that if we knew the Avestan language at 
as early a stage as we know the Vedic, the former would 
necessarily be almost identical with the latter, it is im- 
possible to avoid the conclusion that the Indian branch 
must have separated from the Iranian only a very 
short time before the beginnings of Vedic literature, and 
can therefore have hardly entered the North-West of 
India even as early as 1500 B.C. All previous estimates 
of the antiquity of the Vedic period have been outdone 
by the recent theory of Professor Jacobi of Bonn, who 
supposes that period goes back to at least 4000 B.C. This 
theory is based on astronomical calculations connected 
with a change in the beginning of the seasons, which 
Professor Jacobi thinks has taken place since the time 
of the Rigveda, The whole estimate is, however, in- 
validated by the assumption of a doubtful, and even 
improbable, meaning in a Vedic word, which forms the 
very starting-point of the theory. Meanwhile we must 
rest content with the certainty that Vedic literature in 
any case is of considerably higher antiquity than that 
of Greece. 

For the post- Vedic period we have, in addition to the 


results of internal evidence, a few landmarks of general 
chronological importance in the visits of foreigners. The 
earliest date of this kind is that of the invasion of India 
by Alexander in 326 B.C. This was followed by the 
sojourn in India of various Greeks, of whom the most 
notable was Megasthenes. He resided for some years 
about 300 B.C. at the court of Pataliputra (the modern 
Patna), and has left a valuable though fragmentary 
account of the contemporary state of Indian society. 
Many centuries later India was visited by three Chinese 
Buddhist pilgrims, Fa Hi an (399 A.D.), HiOUEN Thsang 
(630-645), and I Tsing (671-695). The records of their 
travels, which have been preserved, and are all now trans- 
lated into English, shed much light on the social con- 
ditions, the religious thought, and the Buddhist antiquities 
of India in their day. Some general and specific facts 
about Indian literature also can be gathered from them. 
Hiouen Thsang especially supplies some important state- 
ments about contemporary Sanskrit poets. It is not till 
his time that we can say of any Sanskrit writer that he 
was alive in any particular year, excepting only the three 
Indian astronomers, whose exact dates in the fifth and 
sixth centuries have been recorded by themslves. It was 
only the information supplied by the two earlier Chinese 
writers that made possible the greatest archaeological 
discovery of the present century in India, that of the 
site of Buddha's birthplace, Kapila-vastu, identified in v 
December 1896. At the close of our period we have the 
very valuable account of the country at the time of the 
Muhammadan conquest by the Arabic author AlberunT, 
who wrote his India in 1030 A.D. 

It is evident from what has been said, that before. 
500 A.D. literary chronology, even in the Sanskrit period, 


is almost entirely relative, priority or posteriority being 
determined by such criteria as development of style or 
thought, the mention of earlier authors by name, stray 
political references as to the Greeks or to some well- 
known dynasty, and allusions to astronomical facts which 
cannot have been known before a certain epoch. Recent 
research, owing to increased specialisation, has made 
considerable progress towards greater chronological de- 
finiteness. More light will doubtless in course of time 
come from the political history of early India, which 
is being reconstructed, with great industry and ability, 
by various distinguished scholars from the evidence of 
coins, copper-plate grants, and rock or pillar inscrip- 
tions. These have been or are being published in the 
Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum y the Epigraphia Indica, 
and various journals devoted to the study of Indian 
antiquities. The rise in the study of epigraphy during 
the last twenty years has, indeed, already yielded some 
direct information of importance about the literary and 
religious history of India, by fixing the date of some 
of the later poets as well as by throwing light on 
religious systems and whole classes of literature. Thus 
some metrical inscriptions of considerable length have 
been deciphered, which prove the existence of court 
poetry in Sanskrit and vernacular dialects from the first 
century of our era onwards. No direct evidence of this 
fact had previously been known. 

The older inscriptions are also important in con- 
nection with Sanskrit literature as illustrating both the 
early history of Indian writing and the state of the 
language at the time. The oldest of them are the rock 
and pillar inscriptions, dating from the middle of the 
third century B.C., of the great Buddhist king AgOKA, 


who ruled over Northern India from 259 to 222 B.C., 
and during whose reign was held the third Buddhist 
council, at which the canon of the Buddhist scriptures 
was probably fixed. The importance of these inscrip- 
tions can hardly be over-rated for the value of the in- 
formation to be derived from them about the political, 
religious, and linguistic conditions of the age. Found 
scattered all over India, from Girnar (Giri-nagara) in 
Kathiawar to Dhauli in Orissa, from Kapur-di-Giri, north 
of the Kabul river, to Khalsi, they have been reproduced, 
deciphered, and translated. One of them, engraved on 
a pillar erected by Acoka to commemorate the actual 
birthplace of Buddha, was discovered only at the close 
of 1896. 

These Acoka inscriptions are the earliest records 
of Indian writing. The question of the origin and age 
of writing in India, long involved in doubt and contro- 
versy, has been greatly cleared up by the recent palaeo- 
graphical researches of Professor Buhler. That great 
scholar has shown, that of the two kinds of script known 
in ancient India, the one called Kharoshthi, employed 
in the country of Gandhara (Eastern Afghanistan and 
Northern Panjab) from the fourth century B.C. to 
200 A.D., was borrowed from the Aramaic type of 
Semitic writing in use during the fifth century B.C. It 
was always written from right to left, like its original. 
The other ancient Indian script, called Brdhmi y is, as 
Buhler shows, the true national writing of India, because 
all later Indian alphabets are descended from it, however 
dissimilar many of them may appear at the present day. 
It was regularly written from left to right ; but that this 
was not its original direction is indicated by a coin of 
the fourth century B.C., the inscription on which runs 


from right to left. Dr. Buhler has shown that this 
writing is based on the oldest Northern Semitic or 
Phoenician type, represented on Assyrian weights and 
on the Moabite stone, which dates from about 890 B.C. 
He argues, with much probability, that it was introduced 
about 800 B.C. into India by traders coming by way of 

References to writing in ancient Indian literature are, 
it is true, very rare and late ; in no case, perhaps, earlier 
than the fourth century B.C., or not very long before the 
date of the Acoka inscriptions. Little weight, however, 
can be attached to the argumentum ex silentio in this 
instance. For though writing has now been extensively 
in use for an immense period, the native learning of the 
modern Indian is still based on oral tradition. The 
sacred scriptures as well as the sciences can only be 
acquired from the lips of a teacher, not from a manu- 
script ; and as only memorial knowledge is accounted 
of value, writing and MSS. are rarely mentioned. Even 
modern poets do not wish to be read, but cherish the 
hope that their works may be recited. This immemorial 
practice, indeed, shows that the beginnings of Indian 
poetry and science go back to a time when writing was 
unknown, and a system of oral tradition, such as is 
referred to in the Rigveda, was developed before writing 
was introduced. The latter could, therefore, have been 
in use long before it began to be mentioned. The palaeo- 
graphical evidence of the Acoka inscriptions, in any case, 
clearly shows that writing was no recent invention in the 
third century B.C., for most of the letters have several, 
often very divergent forms, sometimes as many as nine 
or ten. A considerable length of time was, moreover, 
needed to elaborate- from the twenty-two borrowed 


Semitic symbols the full Brdhml alphabet of forty-six 
letters. This complete alphabet, which was evidently 
worked out by learned Brahmans on phonetic principles, 
must have existed by 500 B.C., according to the strong 
arguments adduced by Professor Buhler. This is the 
alphabet which is recognised in Panini's great Sanskrit 
grammar of about the fourth century B.C., and has re- 
mained unmodified ever since. It not only represents all 
the sounds of the Sanskrit language, but is arranged on a 
thoroughly scientific method, the simple vowels (short 
and long) coming first, then the diphthongs, and lastly 
the consonants in uniform groups according to the 
organs of speech with which they are pronounced. Thus 
the dental consonants appear together as t, t/i, d, dh, n y 
and the labials as/, ph, b, bh } m. We Europeans, on the 
other hand, 2500 years later, and in a scientific age, still 
employ an alphabet which is not only inadequate to 
represent all the sounds of our languages, but even pre- 
serves the random order in which vowels and consonants 
are jumbled up as they were in the Greek adaptation ol 
the primitive Semitic arrangement of 3000 years ago. 

In the inscriptions of the third century B.C. two types, 
the Northern and the Southern, may be distinguished in 
the Brdhml writing. From the former is descended the 
group of Northern scripts which gradually prevailed in 
all the Aryan dialects of India. The most important of 
them is the Ndgarl (also called Devandgari), in which 
Sanskrit MSS. are usually written, and Sanskrit as well as 
Marathi and Hind! books are regularly printed. It is 
recognisable by the characteristic horizontal line at the 
top of the letters. The oldest inscription engraved en- 
tirely in Ndgarl belongs to the eighth, and the oldest MS. 
written in it to the eleventh century. From the Southern 


variety of the Brdhml writing are descended five types of 
script, all in use south of the Vindhya range. Among 
them are the characters employed in the Canarese and 
the Telugu country. 

Owing to the perishability of the material on which 
they are written, Sanskrit MSS. older than the fourteenth 
century A.D. are rare. The two ancient materials used 
in India were strips of birch bark and palm leaves. The 
employment of the former, beginning in the North-West 
of India, where extensive birch forests clothe the slopes 
of the Himalaya, gradually spread to Central, Eastern, 
and Western India. The oldest known Sanskrit MS. 
written on birch bark dates from the fifth century A.D., 
and a Pali MS. in Kharoshthi, which became known in 
1897, is still older, but the use of this material doubtless 
goes back to far earlier days. Thus we have the state- 
ment of Quintus Curtius that the Indians employed it for 
writing on at the time of Alexander. The testimony of 
classical Sanskrit authors, as well as of AlberunI, shows 
that leaves of birch bark {bhurja-pattrd) were also regularly 
used for letter-writing in early mediaeval India. 

The first example of a palm leaf Sanskrit MS. belongs 
to the sixth century A.D. It is preserved in Japan, but 
there is a facsimile of it in the Bodleian Library. Accord- 
ing to the Chinese pilgrim Hiouen Thsang, the use of the 
palm leaf was common all over India in the seventh cen- 
tury ; but that it was known many centuries earlier is 
proved by the fact that an inscribed copper-plate, dating 
from the first century A.D. at the latest, imitates a palm 
leaf in shape. 

Paper was introduced by the Muhammadan conquest, 
and has been very extensively used since that time for 
the writing of MSS. The oldest known example of a 


paper Sanskrit MS. written in India is one from Gujarat, 
belonging to the early part of the thirteenth century. In 
Northern India, where ink was employed for writing, 
palm leaves went out of use after the introduction of 
paper. But in the South, where a stilus has always been 
employed for scratching in the character, palm leaves 
are still common for writing both MSS. and letters. The 
birch bark and palm leaf MSS. are held together by a 
cord drawn through a single hole in the middle, or 
through two placed some distance apart. This explains 
how the Sanskrit word for " knot," grantha, came to 
acquire the sense of "book." 

Leather or parchment has never been utilised in 
India for MSS., owing to the ritual impurity of animal 
materials. For inscriptions copper-plates were early 
and frequently employed. They regularly imitate the 
shape of either palm leaves or strips of birch bark. 

The actual use of ink (the oldest Indian name of 
which is mashi) is proved for the second century B.C. by 
an inscription from a Buddhist relic mound, and is 
rendered very probable for the fourth century B.C. by 
the statements of Nearchos and Quintus Curtius. 

All the old palm leaf, birch bark, and paper Sanskrit 
MSS. have been written with ink and a reed pen, usually 
called kalama (a term borrowed from the Greek kalamos). 
In Southern India, on the other hand, it has always been 
the practice to scratch the writing on palm leaves with a 
stilus, the characters being subsequently blackened by 
soot or charcoal being rubbed into them. 

Sanskrit MSS. of every kind are usually kept between 
thin strips of wood with cords wound round them, 
and wrapped up in coloured, sometimes embroidered, 
cloths. They have been, and still are, preserved in the 


libraries of temples, monasteries, colleges, the courts of 
princes, as well as private houses. A famous library was 
owned by King Bhoja of Dhar in the eleventh century. 
That considerable private libraries existed in fairly early 
times is shown by the fact that the Sanskrit author Bana 
(about 620 A.D.) had in his employment a reader of 
manuscripts. Even at the present day there are many 
excellent libraries of Sanskrit MSS. in the possession of 
Brahmans all over India. 

The ancient Indian language, like the literature com- 
posed in it, falls into the two main divisions of Vedic and 
Sanskrit. The former differs from the latter on the 
whole about as much as Homeric from classical Greek, 
or the Latin of the Salic hymns from that of Varro. 
Within the Vedic language, in which the sacred literature 
of India is written, several stages can be distinguished. 
In its transitions from one to the other it gradually grows 
more modern till it is ultimately merged in Sanskrit. 
Even in its earliest phase Vedic cannot be regarded as 
a popular tongue, but is rather an artificially archaic 
dialect, handed down from one generation to the other 
within the class of priestly singers. Of this the language 
itself supplies several indications. One of them is the 
employment side by side of forms belonging to different 
linguistic periods, a practice in which, however, the Vedic 
does not go so far as the Homeric dialect. The spoken 
language of the Vedic priests probably differed from this 
dialect of the hymns only in the absence of poetical con- 
structions and archaisms. There was, in fact, even in the 
earlier Vedic age, a caste language, such as is to be found 
more or less wherever a literature has grown up ; but in 
India it has been more strongly marked than in any other 


If, however, Vedic was no longer a natural tongue, 
but was already the scholastic dialect of a class, how 
much truer is this of the language of the later litera- 
ture ! Sanskrit differs from Vedic, but not in conformity 
with the natural development which appears in living 
languages. The phonetic condition of Sanskrit remains 
almost exactly the same as that of the earliest Vedic. 
In the matter of grammatical forms, too, the language 
shows itself to be almost stationary ; for hardly any 
new formations or inflexions have made their appear- 
ance. Yet even from a grammatical point of view the 
later language has become very different from the 
earlier. This change was therefore brought about, not 
by new creations, but by successive losses. The most 
notable of these were the disappearance of the sub- 
junctive mood and the reduction of a dozen infinitives 
to a single one. In declension the change consisted 
chiefly in the dropping of a number of synonymous by- 
forms. It is probable that the spoken Vedic, more 
modern and less complex than that of the hymns, to 
some extent affected the later literary language in the 
direction of simplification. But the changes in the 
language were mainly due to the regulating efforts of 
the grammarians, which were more powerful in India 
than anywhere else, owing to the early and exceptional 
development of grammatical studies in that country. 
Their influence alone can explain the elaborate nature 
of the phonetic combinations (called Sandhi) between 
the finals and initials of words in the Sanskrit sentence. 

It is, however, the vocabulary of the language that 
has undergone the greatest modifications, as is indeed 
the case in all literary dialects ; for it is beyond the 
power of grammarians to control change in this direc- 


tion. Thus we find that the vocabulary has been greatly 
extended by derivation and composition according to 
recognised types. At the same time there are numerous 
words which, though old, seem to be new only because 
they happen by accident not to occur in the Vedic 
literature. Many really new words have, however, come 
in through continual borrowings from a lower stratum 
of language, while already existing words have under- 
gone great changes of meaning. 

This later phase of the ancient language of India 
was stereotyped by the great grammarian Panini to- 
wards the end of the fourth century B.C. It came to 
be called Sanskrit, the " refined " or " elaborate " (sam- 
skri-ta y literally "put together"), a term not found in 
the older grammarians, but occurring in the earliest 
epic, the Rdmdyana. The name is meant to be opposed 
to that of the popular dialects called Prdkrita, and is 
so opposed, for instance, in the Kdvyddarca, or Mirror 
of Poetry ', a work of the sixth century A.D. The older 
grammarians themselves, from Yaska (fifth century B.C.) 
onwards, speak of this classical dialect as Bhdshd, "the 
speech," in distinction from Vedic. The remarks they 
make about it point to a spoken language. Thus one 
of them, Patanjali, refers to it as used " in the world," 
and designates the words of his Sanskrit as " current 
in the world." Panini himself gives many rules which 
have no significance except in connection with living 
speech ; as when he describes the accent or the lengthen- 
ing of vowels in calling from a distance, in salutation, 
or in question and answer. Again, Sanskrit cannot 
have been a mere literary and school language, because 
there are early traces of its having had dialectic varia- 
tions. Thus Yaska and Panini mention the peculiarities 


of the "Easterns" and "Northerners," Katyayana re- 
fers to local divergences, and Patanjali specifies words 
occurring in single districts only. There is, indeed, no 
doubt that in the second century B.C. Sanskrit was 
actually spoken in the whole country called by Sanskrit 
writers Aryavarta, or " Land of the Aryans," which lies 
between the Himalaya and the Vindhya range. But 
who spoke it there ? Brahmans certainly did ; for 
Patanjali speaks of them as the "instructed" (gishta), 
the employers of correct speech. Its use, however, ex- 
tended beyond the Brahmans ; for we read in Patanjali 
about a head-groom disputing with a grammarian as 
to the etymology of the Sanskrit word for "charioteer" 
(suta). This agrees with the distribution of the dialects 
in the Indian drama, a distribution doubtless based on 
a tradition much older than the plays themselves. Here 
the king and those of superior rank speak Sanskrit, 
while the various forms of the popular dialect are 
assigned to women and to men of the people. The 
dramas also show that whoever did not speak Sanskrit 
at any rate understood it, for Sanskrit is there employed 
in conversation with speakers of Prakrit. The theatri- 
cal public, and that before which, as we know from 
frequent references in the literature, the epics were 
recited, must also have understood Sanskrit. Thus, 
though classical Sanskrit was from the beginning a 
literary and, in a sense, an artificial dialect, it would 
be erroneous to deny to it altogether the character of 
a colloquial language. It is indeed, as has already been 
mentioned, even now actually spoken in India by 
learned Brahmans, as well as written by them, for 
every-day purposes. The position of Sanskrit, in short, 
has all along been, and still is, much like that of 


Hebrew among the Jews or of Latin in the Middle 

Whoever was familiar with Sanskrit at the same time 
spoke one popular language or more. The question as 
to what these popular languages were brings us to the 
relation of Sanskrit to the vernaculars of India. The 
linguistic importance of the ancient literary speech for 
the India of to-day w T ill become apparent when it is 
pointed out that all the modern dialects excepting those 
of a few isolated aboriginal hill tribes spoken over the 
whole vast territory between the mouths of the Indus 
and those of the Ganges, between the Himalaya and the 
Vindhya range, besides the Bombay Presidency as far 
south as the Portuguese settlement of Goa, are descended 
from the oldest form of Sanskrit. Starting from their 
ancient source in the north-west, they have overflowed 
in more and more diverging streams the whole peninsula 
except the extreme south-east. The beginnings of these 
popular dialects go back to a period of great antiquity. 
Even at the time when the Vedic hymns were com- 
posed, there must have existed a popular language which 
already differed widely in its phonetic aspect from the 
literary dialect. For the Vedic hymns contain several 
words of a phonetic type which can only be explained 
by borrowings on the part of their composers from 
popular speech. 

We further know that in the sixth century B.C., Buddha 
preached his gospel in the language of the people, as 
opposed to that of the learned, in order that all might 
understand him. Thus all the oldest Buddhist literature 
dating from the fourth or fifth century B.C. was composed 
in the vernacular, originally doubtless in the dialect of 
Magadha (the modern Behar), the birthplace of Bud- 


dhism. Like Italian, as compared with Latin, this early 
popular speech is characterised by the avoidance of 
conjunct consonants and by fondness for final vowels. 
Thus the Sanskrit sutra, " thread/' and d/iarma, M duty," 
become sutta and dhamma respectively, while vidyut, 
" lightning," is transformed into vijju. The particular 
form of the popular language which became the sacred 
idiom of Southern Buddhism is known by the name of 
Pali. Its original home is still uncertain, but its existence 
as early as the third century B.C. is proved beyond the 
range of doubt by the numerous rock and pillar inscrip- 
tions of Acoka. This dialect was in the third century 
B.C. introduced into Ceylon, and became the basis of 
Singhalese, the modern language of the island. It was 
through the influence of Buddhism that, from Agoka's 
time onwards, the official decrees and documents pre- 
served in inscriptions were for centuries composed 
exclusively in Middle Indian (Prakrit) dialects. Sanskrit 
was not familiar to the chanceries during these centuries, 
though the introduction of Sanskrit verses in Prakrit 
inscriptions shows that Sanskrit was alive during this 
period, and proves its continuity for literary purposes. 
The older tradition of both the Buddhist and the Jain 
religion, in fact, ignored Sanskrit entirely, using only the 
popular dialects for all purposes. 

But in course of time both the Buddhists and the 
Jains endeavoured to acquire a knowledge of Sanskrit. 
This led to the formation of an idiom which, being in the 
main Prakrit, was made to resemble the old language by 
receiving Sanskrit endings and undergoing other adapta- 
tions. It is therefore decidedly wrong to consider this 
artificial dialect an intermediate stage between Sans- 
krit and Pali. This peculiar type of language is most 


pronounced in the poetical pieces called gathd or 
"song," which occur in the canonical works of the Nor- 
thern Buddhists, especially in the Lalzta-vistara, a life 
of Buddha. Hence it was formerly called the Gatha 
dialect. The term is, however, inaccurate, as Bud- 
dhist prose works have also been written in this mixed 

The testimony of the inscriptions is instructive in 
showing the gradual encroachment of Sanskrit on the 
popular dialects used by the two non-Brahmanical reli- 
gions. Thus in the Jain inscriptions of Mathura (now 
Muttra), an almost pure Prakrit prevails down to the first 
century A.D. After that Sanskritisms become more and 
more frequent, till at last simple Sanskrit is written. 
Similarly in Buddhist inscriptions pure Prakrit is relieved 
by the mixed dialect, the latter by Sanskrit. Thus in the 
inscriptions of Nasik, in Western India, the mixed dialect 
extends into the third, while Sanskrit first begins in the 
second century A.D. From the sixth century onwards 
Sanskrit prevails exclusively (except among the Jains) in 
inscriptions, though Prakritisms often occur in them. 
Even in the literature of Buddhism the mixed dialect 
was gradually supplanted by Sanskrit. Hence most of 
the Northern Buddhist texts have come down to us in 
Sanskrit, which, however, diverges widely in vocabulary 
from that of the sacred texts of the Brahmans, as well as 
from that of the classical literature, since they are full of 
Prakrit words. It is expressly attested by the Chinese 
pilgrim, Hiouen Thsang, that in the seventh century the 
Buddhists used Sanskrit even in oral theological discus- 
sions. The Jains finally did the same, though without 
entirely giving up Prakrit. Thus by the time of the 
Muhammadan conquest Sanskrit was almost the only 


written language of India. But while Sanskrit was re- 
covering its ancient supremacy, the Prakrits had exer- 
cised a lasting influence upon it in two respects. They 
had supplied its vocabulary with a number of new words, 
and had transformed into a stress accent the old musical 
accent which still prevailed after the days of Panini. 

In the oldest period of Prakrit, that of the Pali A$oka 
inscriptions and the early Buddhistic and Jain literature, 
two main dialects, the Western and the Eastern, may be 
distinguished. Between the beginning of our era and 
about 1000 A.D., mediaeval Prakrit, which is still synthetic 
in character, is divided into four chief dialects. In the 
west we find Apabhrain^a (" decadent ") in the valley of 
the Indus, and aurasenl in the Doab, with Mathura as 
its centre. Subdivisions of the latter were Gaurjarl 
(Gujaratt), Avanti (Western Rajputdni), and Mahdrdshtrl 
(Eastern Rdjputdnt). The Eastern Prakrit now appears 
as Mdgadhl, the dialect of Magadha, now Behar, and 
Ardha- Mdgadhl (Half - Magadhi), with Benares as its 
centre. These mediaeval Prakrits are important in con- 
nection with Sanskrit literature, as they are the verna- 
culars employed by the uneducated classes in the Sans- 
krit drama. 

They are the sources of all the Aryan languages of 
modern India. From the Apabhramqa are derived Sindhl, 
Western Panjabl } and Kashmiri; from aurasenl come 
Eastern Pa?ijabl and Hindi (the old Avanti) , as well as 
Gujaratl ; while from the two forms of Mdgadhl are 
descended Mardthl on the one hand, and the various 
dialects of Bengal on the other. These modern vernacu- 
lars, which began to develop from about 1000 A.D., are 
no longer inflexional languages, but are analytical like 
English, forming an interesting parallel in their develop- 


ment from ancient Sanskrit to the Romance dialects in 
their derivation from Latin. They have developed litera- 
tures of their own, which are based entirely on that of 
Sanskrit. The non-Aryan languages of the Dekhan, the 
Dravidian group, including Telugu, Canarese, Malaya- 
lam, and Tamil, have not indeed been ousted by Aryan 
tongues, but they are full of words borrowed from San- 
skrit, while their literature is dominated by Sanskrit 



On the very threshold of Indian literature more than 
three thousand years ago, we are confronted with a body 
of lyrical poetry which, although far older than the lite- 
rary monuments of any other branch of the Indo-Euro- 
pean family, is already distinguished by refinement and 
beauty of thought, as well as by skill in the handling of 
language and metre. From this point, for a period of 
more than a thousand years, Indian literature b ears__ 
^smj^ygjiisively religions sfonrpj. even those latest produc- 
tions of the Vedic age which cannot be called directly 
religious are yet meant to further religious ends. This 
is, indeed, implied by the term u Vedic." For veda, 
primarily signifying " knowledge " (from vid y " to know "), 
designates " sacred lore," as a branch of literature. Be- 
sides this general sense, the word has also the restric- 
ted meaning of "sacred book." 

In the Vedic period three well-defined literary strata 
are to be distinguished. The first is that of the four * 
Vedas, the outcome of a creative and poetic age, in 
which hymns and prayers were composed chiefly to 
accompany the pressing and offering of the Soma juice 
or the oblation of melted butter (ghrita) to the gods. The 
four Vedas are " collections," called samhitd, of hymns 
and prayers made for different ritual purposes. They 
are of varying age and significance. By far the most 


important as well as the oldest for it is the very founda- 
tion of all Vedic literature is the Rigveda, the "Veda 
of verses" (from rich, "a laudatory stanza"), consisting 
entirely of lyrics, mainly in praise of different gods. It 
may, therefore, be described as the book of hymns or 
psalms. The Sama-veda has practically no independent 
value, for it consists entirely of stanzas (excepting only 
75) taken from the Rigveda and arranged solely with refer- 
ence to their place in the Soma sacrifice. Being meant 
to be sung to certain fixed melodies, it may be called the 
book of chants {saman). The Yajur-veda differs in one 
essential respect from the Sama-veda. It consists not 
only of stanzas {rich), mostly borrowed from the Rigveda, 
but also of original prose formulas. It resembles the 
Sama-veda, however, in having its contents arranged in 
the order in which it was actually employed in various 
sacrifices. It is, therefore, a book of sacrificial prayers 
(yajus). The matter of this Veda has been handed down 
in two forms. In the one, the sacrificial formulas only 
are given ; in the other, these are to a certain extent 
intermingled with their explanations. These three Vedas 
alone were at first recognised as canonical scriptures, 
being in the next stage of Vedic literature comprehen- 
sively spoken of as "the threefold knowledge" {trayi 

The fourth collection, the Atharva-veda, attained to 
this position only after a long struggle. Judged both 
by its language and by that portion of its matter which is 
analogous to the contents of the Rigveda, the Atharva- 
veda came into existence considerably later than that 
Veda. In form it is similar to the Rigveda, consisting 
for the most part of metrical hymns, many of which are 
taken from the last book of the older collection. In 


spirit, however, it is not only entirely different from the 
Rigveda, but represents a much more primitive stage of 
thought. While the Rigveda deals almost exclusively 
with the higher gods as conceived by a comparatively 
advanced and refined sacerdotal class, the Atharva-veda 
is, in the main, a book of spells and incantations appeal- 
ing to the demon world, and teems with notions about 
witchcraft current among the lower grades of the popu- 
lation, and derived from an immemorial antiquity. 
These two, thus complementary to each other in con- 
tents, are obviously the most important of the four Vedas. 
As representing religious ideas at an earlier stage than 
any other literary monuments of the ancient world, they 
are of inestimable value to those who study the evolution 
of religious beliefs. 

The creative period of the Vedas at length came 
to an end. It was followed by an epoch in which there 
no longer seemed any need to offer up new prayers to 
the gods, but it appeared more meritorious to repeat 
those made by the holy seers of bygone generations, 
and handed down from father to son in various priestly 
families. The old hymns thus came to be successively 
gathered together in the Vedic collections already men- 
tioned, and in this form acquired an ever-increasing 
sanctity. Havin g ceased_to_px oduce p oetry^ the prie st- 
hood trans ferred jheir crea tive energies to the_elaboration 

of the sacrificial ceremonial. The result was a ritual 

system far surpassing in complexity of detail anything 
the world has elsewhere known. The main importance 
of the old Vedic hymns and formulas now came to 
be their application to the innumerable details of the 
sacrifice. Around this combination of sacred verse and 
rite a new body of doctrine grew up in sacerdotal tradi- 



tion, and finally assumed definite shape in the guise of 
distinct theological treatises entitled Brahmanas, " books 
dealing with devotion or prayer " (brahman). They evi- 
dently did not come into being till a time when the 
hymns were already deemed ancient and sacred revela- 
tions, the priestly custodians of which no longer fully 
understood their meaning owing to the change undergone 
by the language. They are written in prose throughout, 
and are in some cases accented, like the Vedas them- 
selves. They are thus notable as representing the oldest 
prose writing of the Indo-European family. Their style 
is, indeed, cumbrous, rambling, and disjointed, but dis- 
tinct progress towards greater facility is observable 
within this literary period. 

The chief purpose of the Brahmanas is to explain the 
mutual relation of the sacred text and the ceremonial, 
as well as their symbolical meaning with reference 
to each other. With the exception of the occasional 
legends and striking thoughts which occur in them, 
they cannot be said to be at all attractive as literary 
productions. To support their explanations of the 
ceremonial, they interweave exegetical, linguistic, and 
etymological observations, and introduce myths and philo- 
sophical speculations in confirmation of their cosmogonic 
and theosophic theories. They form an aggregate of 
shallow and pedantic discussions, full of sacerdotal con- 
ceits, and fanciful, or even absurd, identifications, such 
as is doubtless unparalleled anywhere else. Yet, as the 
oldest treatises on ritual practices extant in any literature, 
they are of great interest to the student of the history 
of religions in general, besides furnishing much im- 
portant material to the student of Indian antiquity in 


It results from what has been said that the contrasts 
between the two older phases of Vedic literature are 
strongly marked. The Vedas are poetical in matter and 
form ; the Brahmanas are prosaic and written in prose. 
The thought of the Vedas is on the whole natural and 
concrete ; that of the Brahmanas artificial and abstract. 
The chief significance of the Vedas lies in their mytho; 
logy ; that of the Brahmanas in their ritual. 

The subject-matter of the Brahmanas which are 
attached to the various Vedas, differs according to the 
divergent duties performed by the kind of priest con- 
nected with each Veda. The Brahmanas of the Rigveda, 
in explaining the ritual, usually limit themselves to the 
duties of the priest called hotri or " reciter," on whom 
it was incumbent to form the canon (castra) for each 
particular rite, by selecting from the hymns the verses 
applicable to it. The Brahmanas of the Sdma-veda are 
concerned only with the duties of the udgatriox "chanter" 
of the Samans ; the Brahmanas of the Yajur-veda with 
those of the adhvaryu, or the priest who is the actual 
sacrificer. Again, the Brahmanas of the Rigveda more 
or less follow the order of the ritual, quite irrespectively 
of the succession of the hymns in the Veda itself. The 
Brahmanas of the Sdma- and the Yajur-veda, on the 
other hand, follow the order of their respective Vedas, 
which are already arranged in the ritual sequence. The 
Brahmana of the Sdma-veda, however, rarely explains 
individual verses, while that of the Yajur-veda practically 
forms a running commentary on all the verses of the 

The period of the Brahmanas is a very important 
one in the history of Indian society. For in it the 
system of the four castes assumed definite shape, fur- 



nishing the frame within which the highly complex 
network of the castes of to-day has been developed. 
In that system the priesthood, who even in the first 
Vedic period had occupied an influential position, secured 
for themselves the dominant power which they have 
maintained ever since. The life of no other people has 
been so saturated with sacerdotal influence as that of the 
Hindus, among whom sacred learning is still the mono- 
poly of the hereditary priestly caste. While in other 
early societies the chief power remained in the hands of 
princes and warrior nobles, the domination of the priest- 
hood became possible in India as soon as the energetic 
life of conquest during the early Vedic times in the 
north-west was followed by a period of physical in- 
activity or indolence in the plains. Such altered con- 
ditions enabled the cultured class, who alone held the 
secret of the all-powerful sacrifice, to gain the supremacy 
of intellect over physical force. 

The Brahmanas in course of time themselves ac- 
quired a sacred character, and came in the following 
period to be classed along with the hymns as qruti or 
"hearing," that which was directly heard by or, as we 
should say, revealed to, the holy sages of old. In the 
sphere of revelation are included the later portions of 
the Brahmanas, which form treatises of a specially 
theosophic character, and being meant to be imparted or 
studied in the solitude of the forest, are called Aranyakas 
or " Forest-books." The final part of these, again, are 
philosophical books named Upanishads, which belong 
to the latest stage of Brahmana literature. The pan- 
theistic groundwork of their doctrine was later developed 
into the Vedanta system, which is still the favourite 
philosophy of the modern Hindus. 


Works of Vedic " revelation " were deemed of higher 
authority in cases of doubt than the later works on 
religious and oivil usage, called smriti or " memory," 
as embodying only the tradition derived from ancient 

We have now arrived at the third and last stage ot 
Vedic literature, that of the Sutras. These are com- 
pendious treatises dealing with Vedic ritual on the one 
hand, and with customary law on the other. The rise of 
this class of writings was due to the need of reducing 
the vast and growing mass of details in ritual and 
custom, preserved in the Brahmanas and in floating 
tradition, to a systematic shape, and of compressing 
them within a compass which did not impose too great 
a burden on the memory, the vehicle of all teaching and 
learning. The main object of the Sutras is, therefore, 
to supply a short survey of the sum of these scattered 
details. They are not concerned with the interpretation 
of ceremonial or custom, but aim at giving a plain 
and methodical account of The whole course of the 

rites or practices with which they deal. For this pur- 
pose the utmost brevity was needed, a requirement 
which was certainly met in a manner unparalleled else- 
where. The very name of this class of literature, stitra y 
" thread" or "clue" (from siv y "to sew"), points to its 
main characteristic and chief object extreme con- 
ciseness. The prose in which these works are composed 
is so compressed that the wording of the most laconic 
telegram would often appear diffuse compared with it. 
Some of the Sutras attain to an almost algebraic mode 
of expression, the formulas of which cannot be under- 
stood without the help of detailed commentaries. A 
characteristic aphorism has been preserved, which 


illustrates this straining after brevity. According to it, 
the composers of grammatical Sutras delight as much 
in the saving of a short vowel as in the birth of a 
son. The full force of this remark can only be under- 
stood when it is remembered that a Brahman is deemed 
incapable of gaining heaven without a son to perform 
his funeral rites. 

Though the works comprised in each class of Sutras 
are essentially the same in character, it is natural to 
suppose that their composition extended over some 
length of time, and that those which are more concise 
and precise in their wording are the more recent ; for 
the evolution of their style is obviously in the direction 
of increased succinctness. Research, it is true, has 
hitherto failed to arrive at any definite result as to the 
date of their composition. Linguistic investigations, 
however, tend to show that the Sutras are closely 
connected in time with the grammarian Panini, some 
of them appearing to be considerably anterior to him. 
We shall, therefore, probably not go very far wrong 
in assigning 500 and 200 B.C. as the chronological limits 
within which the Sutra literature was developed. 

The tradition of the Vedic ritual was handed down in 
two forms. The one class, called Qrauta Siltras y because 
based on qruti or revelation (by which in this case the 
Brahmanas are chiefly meant), deal with the ritual of the 
greater sacrifices, for the performance of which three or 
more sacred fires, as well as the ministrations of priests, 
are necessary. Not one of them presents a complete 
picture of the sacrifice, because each of them, like the 
Brahmanas, describes only the duties of one or other 
of the three kinds of priests attached to the respective 
Vedas. In order to obtain a full description of each 


ritual ceremony, it is therefore needful to supplement 
the account given by one frauta Sutra from that 
furnished by the rest. 

The other division of the ritual Sutras is based on 
smriti or tradition. These are the Grihya Sutras, or 
" House Aphorisms," which deal with the household 
ceremonies, or the rites to be performed with the 
domestic fire in daily life. As a rule, these rites are not 
performed by a priest, but by the householder himself 
in company with his wife. For this reason there is, 
apart from deviations in arrangement and expression, 
omission or addition, no essential difference between the 
various Grihya Sutras, except that the verses to be re- 
peated which they contain are taken from the Veda to 
which they belong. Each Grihya Sutra, besides being 
attached to and referring to the Crauta Sutra of the same 
school, presupposes a knowledge of it. But though thus 
connected, the two do not form a unity. 

The second class of Sutras, which deal with social and 
legal usage, is, like the Grihya Sutras, also based on 
smriti or tradition. These are the Dharma Sutras, which 
are in general the oldest sources of Indian law. As is 
implied by the term dlia-mia, " religion and morality," 
their point of view is chiefly a religious one. The)' - are 
closely connected with the Veda, which they quote, and 
which the later law-books regard as the first and highest 
source of dharma. 

From the intensely crabbed and unintelligible nature 
of their style, and the studied baldness with which they 
present their subjects, it is evident that the Sutras are 
inferior even to the Brahmanas as literary productions. 
Judged, however, with regard to its matter, this strange 
phase of literature has considerable value. In all other 


ancient literatures knowledge of sacrificial rites can only 
be gained by collecting stray references. But in the 
ritual Sutras we possess the ancient manuals which the 
priests used as the foundation of their sacrificial lore. 
Their statements are so systematic and detailed that it 
is possible to reconstruct from them various sacrifices 
without having seen them performed. They are thus of 
great importance for the history of religious institutions, 
But the Sutras have a further value. For, as the life of 
the Hindu, more than that of any other nation, was, even 
in the Vedic age, surrounded with a network of religious 
forms, both in its daily course and in its more important 
divisions, the domestic ritual as well as the legal Sutras 
are our most important sources for the study of the 
social conditions of ancient India. They are the oldest 
Indian records of all that is included under custom. 

Besides these ritual and legal compendia, the Sutra 
period produced several classes of works composed in 
this style, which, though not religious in character, had a 
religious origin. They arose from the study of the 
Vedas, which was prompted by the increasing difficulty 
of understanding the hymns, and of reciting them 
correctly, in consequence of the changes undergone by 
the language. Their chief object was to ensure the right 
recitation and interpretation of the sacred text. One of 
the most important classes of this ancillary literature 
comprises the Prdtiqakhya Sutras, which, dealing with 
accentuation, pronunciation, metre, and other matters, 
are chiefly concerned with the phonetic changes under- 
gone by Vedic words when combined in a sentence. 
They contain a number of minute observations, such 
as have only been made over again by the phone- 
ticians of the present day in Europe. A still more 



important branch of this subsidiary literature is grammar, 
in which the results attained by the Indians in the 
systematic analysis of language surpass those arrived at 
by any other nation. Little has been preserved of the 
earliest attempts in this direction, for all that had been 
previously done was superseded by the great Sutra work 
of Panini. Though belonging probably to the middle 
of the Sutra period, Panini must be regarded as the 
starting-point of the Sanskrit age, the literature of which 
is almost entirely dominated by the linguistic standard 
stereotyped by him. 

In the Sutra period also arose a class of works 
specially designed for preserving the text of the Vedas 
from loss or change. These are the Anukramanis or 
" Indices," which quote the first words of each hymn, 
its author, the deity celebrated in it, the number of 
verses it contains, and the metre in which it is composed. 
One of them states the total number of hymns, verses, 
words, and even syllables, contained in the Rigveda, 
besides supplying other details. 

From this general survey of the Vedic period we 
now turn to a more detailed consideration of the dif- 
ferent phases of the literature it produced. 



In the dim twilight preceding the dawn of Indian litera- 
ture the historical imagination can perceive the forms of 
Aryan warriors, the first Western conquerors of Hindu- 
stan, issuing from those passes in the north-west through 
which the tide of invasion has in successive ages rolled 
to sweep over the plains of India. The earliest poetry 
of this invading race, whose language and culture ulti- 
mately overspread the whole continent, was composed 
while its tribes still occupied the territories on both sides 
of the Indus now known as Eastern Kabulistan and the 
Pan jab. That ancient poetry has come cjown to us in 
the fonn_eLL-^^-c r>ITprtinn nf hymrre-f^4W 4- tfrg Rigveda. 
The cause which gathered the poems it contains into a 
single book was not practical, as in the case of the Sdma- 
and Yajur-veda, but scientific and historical. For its 
ancient editors were undoubtedly impelled by the 
motive of guarding this heritage of olden time from 
change and destruction. The number of hymns com- 
prised in the Rigveda, in the only recension which has 
been preserved, that of the (^akala school, is 1017, or, 
if the eleven supplementary hymns (called Valakhilya) 
which are inserted in the middle of the eighth book 
are added, 1028. These hymns are grouped in ten 
books, called mandalas y or "cycles," which vary in 
length, except that the tenth contains the same number 


of hymns as the first. In bulk the hymns of the Rig- 
veda equal, it has been calculated, the surviving poems 
of Homer. 

The general character of the ten books is not identical 
in all cases. Six of them (ii.-vii.) are homogeneous. Each 
of these, in the first place, is the work of a different seer or 
his descendants according to the ancient tradition, which 
is borne out by internal evidence. They were doubtless 
long handed down separately in the families to which 
they owed their being. Moreover, the hymns contained 
in these " family books," as they are usually called, are 
arranged on a uniform plan differing from that of the 
rest. The first, eighth, and tenth books are not the pro- 
ductions of a single family of seers respectively, but 
consist of a number of groups based on identity of 
authorship. The arrangement of the ninth book is in 
no way connected with its composers ; its unity is due 
to all its hymns being addressed to the single deity Soma, 
while its groups depend on identity of metre. The 
family books also contain groups ; but each of these 
is formed of hymns addressed to one and the same 

Turning to the principle on which the entire books of 
the Rigveda are arranged in relation to one another, we 
find that Books II.-VII., if allowance is made for later 
additions, form a series of collections which contain a 
successively increasing number of hymns. This fact, 
combined with the uniformity of these books in general 
character and internal arrangement, renders it probable 
that they formed the nucleus of the Rigveda, to which 
the remaining books were successively added. It further 
seems likely that the nine shorter collections, which form 
the second part of Book I., as being similarly based on 


identity of authorship, were subsequently combined and 
prefixed to the family books, which served as the model 
for their internal arrangement. 

I The hymns of the eighth book in general show a 
mutual affinity hardly less pronounced than that to be 
/found in the family books. For they are connected by 
numerous repetitions of similar phrases and lines running 
through the whole book. The latter, however, does not 
form a parallel to the family books. For though a single 
family, that of the Kanvas, at least predominates among 
its authors, the prevalence in it of the strophic form of 
composition impresses upon it a character of its own. 
Moreover, the fact that the eighth book contains fewer 
hymns than the seventh, in itself shows that the former 
did not constitute one of the family series. 

The first part (1-50) of Book I. has considerable affi- 
nities with the eighth, more than half its hymns being attri- 
buted to members of the Kanva family, while in the hymns 
composed by some of these Kanvas the favourite strophic 
metre of the eighth book reappears. There are, more- 
over, numerous parallel and directly identical passages in 
the two collections. It is, however, at present impossible 
to decide which of the two is the earlier, or why it is that, 
though so nearly related, they should have been sepa- 
rated. Certain it is that they were respectively added at 
the beginning and the end of a previously existing collec- 
tion, whether they were divided for chronological reasons 
or because composed by different branches of the Kanva 

As to the ninth book, it cannot be doubted that it 
came into being as a collection after the first eight books 
had been combined into a whole. Its formation was in 
fact the direct result of that combination. The hymns to 


Soma Pavamana ("the clearly flowing") are composed 
by authors of the same families as produced Books 
II. VII., a fact, apart from other evidence, sufficiently 
indicated by their having the characteristic refrains of 
those families. The Pavamana hymns have affinities to 
the first and eighth books also. When the hymns of the 
different families were combined into books, and clearly 
not till then, all their Pavamana hymns were taken out 
and gathered into a single collection. This of course 
does not imply that the Pavamana hymns themselves 
were of recent origin. On the contrary, though some of 
them may date from the time when the tenth book came 
into existence, there is good reason to suppose that the 
poetry of the Soma hymns, which has many points in 
common with the Avesta, and deals with a ritual going 
back to the Indo-Iranian period, reached its conclusion 
as a whole in early times among the Vedic singers. Differ- 
ences of age in the hymns of the ninth book have been 
almost entirely effaced ; at any rate, research has as yet 
hardly succeeded in distinguishing chronological stages 
in this collection. 

With regard to the tenth book, there can be no doubt 
that its hymns came into being at a time when the first 
nine already existed. Its composers grew up in the 
knowledge of the older books, with which they betray 
their familiarity at every turn. The fact that the author 
of one of its groups (20-26) begins with the opening 
words (agnim lie) of the first stanza of the Rigveda, is 
probably an indication that Books I.-IX. already existed 
in his day even as a combined collection. That the 
tenth book is indeed an aggregate of supplementary 
hymns is shown by its position after the Soma book, and 
by the number of its hymns being made up to that of 


the first book (191). The unity which connects its 
poetry is chronological ; for it is the book of recent 
groups and recent single hymns. Nevertheless the 
supplements collected in it appear for the most part to 
be older than the additions which occur in the earlier 

There are many criteria, derived from its matter 
as well as its form, showing the recent origin of the 
tenth book. With regard to mythology, we find the 
earlier gods beginning to lose their hold on the imagi- 
nation of these later singers. Some of them seem to 
be disappearing, like the goddess of Dawn, while only 
deities of widely established popularity, such as Indra 
and Agni, maintain their position. The comprehensive 
group of the Vigve devds, or "All gods," has alone 
increased in prominence. On the other hand, an 
altogether new type, the deification of purely abstract 
ideas, such as " Wrath " and " Faith," now appears for 
the first time. Here, too, a number of hymns are found 
dealing with subjects foreign to the earlier books, such 
as cosmogony and philosophical speculation, wedding 
and burial rites, spells and incantations, which give to 
this book a distinctive ^character besides indicating its 
recent origin. 

Linguistically, also, the tenth book is clearly dis- 
tinguished as later than the other books, forming in 
many respects a transition to the other Vedas. A few 
examples will here suffice to show this. Vowel con- 
tractions occur much more frequently, while the hiatus 
has grown rarer. The use of the letter /, as com- 
pared with r, is, in agreement with later Sanskrit, 
strikingly on the increase. In inflexion the employment 
of the Vedic nominative plural in dsas is on the decline. 


With regard to the vocabulary, many old words are 
going out of use, while others are becoming commoner. 
Thus the particle sim, occurring fifty times in the rest of 
the Rigveda, is found only once in the tenth book. A 
number of words common in the later language are 
only to be met with in this book ; for instance, labh, " to 
take," kala, "time," lakshmi, "fortune," evam, "thus." 
Here, too, a number of conscious archaisms can be 
pointed out. 

Thus the tenth book represents a definitely later 
stratum of composition in the Rigveda. Individual 
hymns in the earlier books have also been proved by 
various recognised criteria to be of later origin than 
others, and some advance has been made towards 
assigning them to three or even five literary epochs. 
Research has, however, not yet arrived at any certain 
results as to the age of whole groups in the earlier 
books. For it must be borne in mind that posteriority 
of collection and incorporation does not necessarily 
prove a later date of composition. 

Some hundreds of years must have been needed 
for all the hymns found in the Rigveda to come into 
being. There was also, doubtless, after the separation 
of the Indians from the Iranians, an intermediate 
period, though it was probably of no great length. In 
this transitional age must have been composed the 
more ancient poems which are lost, and in which the 
style of the earliest preserved hymns, already composed 
with much skill, was developed. The poets of the 
older part of the Rigveda themselves mention pre- 
decessors, in whose wise they sing, whose songs they 
desire to renew, and speak of ancestral hymns pro- 
duced in clays of yore. As far as linguistic evidence 


is concerned, it affords little help in discriminating 
periods within the Rigveda except with regard to the 
tenth book. For throughout the hymns, in spite of 
the number of authors, essentially the same language 
prevails. It is quite possible to distinguish differences 
of thought, style, and poetical ability, but hardly any 
differences of dialect. Nevertheless, patient and minute 
linguistic research, combined with the indications de- 
rived from arrangement, metre, and subject-matter, is 
beginning to yield evidence which may lead to the 
recognition of chronological strata in the older books 
of the Rigveda, 

Though the aid of MSS. for this early period 
entirely fails, we yet happily possess for the Rigveda 
an abundant mass of various readings over 2000 years 
old. These are contained in the other Vedas, which 
are largely composed of hymns, stanzas, and lines 
borrowed from the Rigveda. The other Vedas are, 
in fact, for the criticism of the Rigveda } what manu- 
scripts are for other literary monuments. We are 
thus enabled to collate with the text of the Rigveda 
directly handed down, various readings considerably 
older than even the testimony of Yaska and of the 

The comparison of the various readings supplied 
by the later Vedas leads to the conclusion that the 
text of the Rigveda existed, with comparatively few 
exceptions, in its present form, and not in a possibly 
different recension, at the time when the text of the 
Sdma-veda, the oldest form of the Yajur-veda, and the 
Atharva-veda was constituted. The number of cases is 
infinitesimal in which the Rigveda shows a corruption 
from which the others are free. Thus it appears that 


the kernel of Vedic tradition, as represented by the 
Rigveda, has come down to us, with a high degree 
of fixity and remarkable care for verbal integrity, 
from a* period which can hardly be less remote than 
1000 B.C. 

It is only natural that a sacred collection of poetry, 
historical in its origin, and the heritage of oral tradi- 
tion .before the other Vedas were composed and the 
details of the later ritual practice were fixed, should 
have continued to be preserved more accurately than 
texts formed mainly by borrowing from it hymns which 
were arbitrarily cut up into groups of verses or into 
single verses, solely in order to meet new liturgical 
needs. For those who removed verses of the Rigveda 
from their context and mixed them up with their own 
new creations would not feel bound to guard such 
verses from change as strictly as those who did nothing 
but continue to hand down, without any break, the 
ancient text in its connected form. The control of 
tradition would be wanting where quite a new tradition 
was being formed. 

The criticism of the text of the Rigveda itself is 
concerned with two periods. The first is that in which 
it existed alone before the other Vedas came into being ; 
the second is that in which it appears in the phonetically 
modified form called the Samhita text, due to the labours 
of grammatical editors. Being handed down in the 
older period exclusively by oral tradition, it was not 
preserved in quite authentic form down to the time of 
its final redaction. It did not entirely escape the fate 
suffered by all works which, coming down from remote 
antiquity, survive into an age of changed linguistic 
conditions. Though there are undeniable corruptions 


in detail. belonging to the older period, the text main- 
tained a remarkably high level of authenticity till such 
modifications as it had undergone reached their con- 
clusion in the Samhita text. This text differs in hundreds 
of places from that of the composers of the hymns ; 
but its actual words are nearly always the same as those 
used by the ancient seers. Thus there would be no 
uncertainty as to whether the right word, for instance, 
was sumnam or dyumnam. The difference lies almost 
entirely in the phonetic changes which the words have 
undergone according to the rules of Sandhi prevailing 
in the classical language. Thus what was formerly 
pronounced as tuani hi ague now appears as tvaiu hy 
agne. The modernisation of the text thereby produced is, 
however, only partial, and is often inconsistently applied. 
The euphonic combinations introduced in the Samhita 
text have interfered with the metre. Hence by reading 
according to the latter the older text can be restored. 
At the same time the Samhita text has preserved the 
smallest minutia? of detail most liable to corruption, 
and the slightest difference in the matter of accent and 
alternative forms, which might have been removed with 
the greatest ease. Such points furnish an additional 
proof that the extreme care with which the verbal 
integrity of the text was guarded goes back to the 
earlier period itself. Excepting single mistakes of tradi- 
tion in the first, and those due to grammatical theories 
in the second period, the old text of the Rigveda thus 
shows itself to have been preserved from a very remote 
antiquity with marvellous accuracy even in the smallest 

From the explanatory discussions of the Brahmanas 
in connection with the Rigveda, it results that the text 


of the latter must have been essentially fixed in their 
time, and that too in quite a special manner, more, for 
instance, than the prose formulas of the Yajurveda. For 
the Qatapatha Brdhmana, while speaking of the possibility 
of varying some of these formulas, rejects the notion of 
changing the text of a certain Rigvedic verse, proposed 
by some teachers, as something not to be thought of. 
The Brahmanas further often mention the fact that 
such and such a hymn or liturgical group contains a 
particular number of verses. All such numerical 
statements appear to agree with the extant text of 
the Rigveda. On the other hand, transpositions and 
omissions of Rigvedic verses are to be found in the 
Brahmanas. These, however, are only connected with 
the ritual form of those verses, and in no way show 
that the text from which they were taken was different 
from ours. 

The Sutras also contain altered forms of Rigvedic 
verses, but these are, as in the case of the Brahmanas, 
to be explained not from an older recension of the text, 
but from the necessity of adapting them to new ritual 
technicalities. On the other hand, they contain many 
statements which confirm our present text. Thus all 
that the Sutra of (Jankhayana says about the position 
occupied by verses in a hymn, or the total number of 
verses contained in groups of hymns, appears invariably 
to agree with our text. 

We have yet to answer the question as to when the 
Samhita text, which finally fixed the canonical form of 
the Rigveda, was constituted. Now the Brahmanas con- 
tain a number of direct statements as to the number of 
syllables in a word or a group of words, which are at 
variance with the Samhita text owing to the vowel con- 


tractions made in the latter. Moreover, the old part of 
the Brahmana literature shows hardly any traces of 
speculations about phonetic questions connected with 
the Vedic text. The conclusion may therefore be drawn 
that the Samhita text did not come into existence till 
afterthe completion of the Brahmanas. With regard to 
the Aranyakas and Upanishads, which form supplements 
to the Brahmanas, the case is different. These works 
not only mention technical grammatical terms for certain 
groups of letters, but contain detailed doctrines about 
the phonetic treatment of the Vedic text. Here, too, 
occur for the first time the names of certain theological 
grammarians, headed by (^akalya and Mandukeya, who 
are also recognised as authorities in the Pratigakhyas. 
The Aranyakas and Upanishads accordingly form a transi- 
tion, with reference to the treatment of grammatical ques- 
tions, between the age of the Brahmanas and that of 
Yaska and the Pratigakhyas. The Samhita text must 
have been created in this intermediate period, say about 
600 B.C. 

This work being completed, extraordinary precautions 
soon began to be taken to guard the canonical text thus 
fixed against the possibility of any change or loss. The 
result has been its preservation with a faithfulness unique 
in literary history. The first step taken in this direction 
was the constitution of the Pada, or "word" text, which 
being an analysis of the Samhita, gives each separate 
word in its independent form, and thus to a consider- 
able extent restores the Samhita text to an older stage. 
That the Pada text was not quite contemporaneous in 
origin with the other is shown by its containing some 
undoubted misinterpretations and misunderstandings. 
Its composition can, however, only be separated by a 


short interval from that of the Samhita, for it appears 
to have been known to the writer of the Aitareya 
Aranyaka, while its author, (^akalya, is older than both 
Yaska, who quotes him, and (^aunaka, composer of 
the Rigveda Praticdkhya, which is based on the Pada 

The importance of the latter as a criterion of the 
authenticity of verses in the Rigveda is indicated by the 
following fact. There are six verses in the Rigveda 1 not 
analysed in the Pada text, but only given there over 
again in the Samhita form. This shows that Cakalya did 
not acknowledge them as truly Rigvedic, a view justified 
by internal evidence. This group of six, which is doubt- 
less exhaustive, stands midway between old additions 
which (Jakalya recognised as canonical, and the new 
appendages called Khilas, which never gained admission 
into the Pada text in any form. 

A further measure for preserving the sacred text from 
alteration with still greater certainty was soon taken in 
the form of the Krama-patha, or "step-text." This is 
old, for it, like the Pada-patha, is already known to the 
author of the Aitareya Aranyaka, Here every word of 
the Pada text occurs twice, being connected both with 
that which precedes and that which follows. Thus the 
first four words, if represented by a, b, e, d, would be read 
as ab, be, ed. The Jata-patha, or " woven-text," in its turn 
based on the Krama-patha, states each of its combina- 
tions three times, the second time in reversed order {ab, 
ba f ab; be, cb, be). The climax of complication is reached 
in the Ghana-patha, in which the order is ab, ba, abc, cba, 
abc ; be, cb, bed, &c. 

The Praticakhyas may also be regarded as safeguards 


of the text, having been composed for the purpose of 
exhibiting exactly all the changes necessary for turning 
the Pada into the Samhita text. 

Finally, the class of supplementary works called 
Anukramanls, or " Indices," aimed at preserving the Rig- 
veda intact by registering its contents from various points 
of view, besides furnishing calculations of the number of 
hymns, verses, words, and even syllables, contained in 
the sacred book. 

The text of the Rigveda has come down to us in a 
single recension only ; but is there any evidence that 
other recensions of it existed in former times ? 

The Charana-vyuha, or " Exposition of Schools," a sup- 
plementary work of the Sutra period, mentions as the five 
cdkhds or " branches " of the Rigveda, the Cakalas, the 
Vashkalas, the Acvalayanas, the (^ankhayanas, and the 
Mandukeyas. The third and fourth of these schools, 
however, do not represent different recensions of the 
text, the sole distinction between them and the Cakalas 
having been that the Acvalayanas recognised as canoni- 
cal the group of the eleven Vdlakhilya or supplementary 
hymns, and the (^ankhayanas admitted the same group, 
diminished only by a few verses. Hence the tradition of 
the Puranas, or later legendary works, mentions only the 
three schools of (Jakalas, Vashkalas, and Mandukas. If 
the latter ever possessed a recension of an independent 
character, all traces of it were lost at an early period in 
ancient India, for no information of any kind about it 
has been preserved. Thus only the two schools of the 
(Jakalas and the Vashkalas come into consideration. The 
subsidiary Vedic writings contain sufficient evidence to 
show that the text of the Vashkalas differed from that of 
the (Jakalas only in admitting eight additional hymns, and 


in assigning another position to a group of the first book. 
But in these respects it compares unfavourably with the 
extant text. Thus it is evident that the (^akalas not only 
possessed the best "radition of the text of the Rigveda y 
but handed down the only recension, in the true sense, 
which, as far as we can tell, ever existed. 

The text of the Rigveda y like that of the other Sam- 
hitas, as well as of two of the Brahmanas (the Qatapatha 
and the Taittirlya, together with its Aranyaka), has come 
down t o us in an accented form. The peculiarly sacred 
character of the text rendered the accent very important 
for correct and efficacious recitation. Analogously the 
accent was marked by the Greeks in learned and model 
editions only. The nature of the Vedic accent was 
musical, depending on the pitch of the voice, like that 
of the ancient Greeks. This remained the character of 
the Sanskrit accent till later than the time of Panini. But 
just as the old Greek music al accent, after the beginning 
of our ejr^i, was transformed into a stress accent, so by 
the seventh century~XDT(afKi probably long before) the 
Sanskrit accent had undergone a similar change. While, 
however, in modern Greek the stress accent has remained, 
owing to the high pitch of the old acute, on the same 
syllable as bore the musical accent in the ancient lan- 
guage, the modern pronunciation of Sanskrit has no 
connection with the Vedic accent, but is dependent on 
the quantity of the last two or three syllables, much the 
same as in Latin. Thus the penultimate, if long, is 
accented, e.g. Kdlidasa y or the antepenultimate, if long 
and followed by a short syllable, e.g. brdhmana or Hima- 
laya ("abode of snow"). This change of accent in 
Sanskrit was brought about by the influence of Prakrit, 
in which, as there is evidence to show, the stress accent 




is very old, going back several centuries before the be* 
ginning of our era. 

There are three accents in the Rigveda as well as the 
other sacred texts. The most important of these is the 
rising accent, called ud-dtta ("raised"), which corresponds 
to the Greek acute. Comparative philology shows that 
in Sanskrit it rests on the same syllable as bore it in the 
proto- Aryan language. In Greek it is generally on the 
same syllable as in Sanskrit, except when interfered with 
by the specifically Greek law restricting the accent to 
one of the last three syllables. Thus the Greek heptd 
corresponds to the Vedic saptd, " seven." The low- 
pitch accent, which precedes the acute, is called the an- 
uddtta ("not raised"). The third is the falling accent, 
which usually follows the acute, and is called svarita 

Of the four different systems of marking the accent in 
Vedic texts, that of the Rigveda is most commonly em- 
ployed. Here the acute is not marked at all, while the 
low-pitch anuddtta is indicated by a horizontal stroke 
below the syllable bearing it, and the svarita by a vertical 
stroke above. Thus yajnasy d (" of sacrifice ") would mean 
that the second syllable has the acute and the third the 
svarita (yajndsyd). The reason why the acute is not 
marked is because it is regarded as the middle tone 
between the other two. 1 

The hymns of the Rigveda consist of stanzas ranging 
in number from three to fifty-eight, but usually not 

1 The other three systems are : (i) that of the MaitrayanT and Kdihaka 
Samhitas (two recensions of the Black Yajurveda), which mark the acute 
with a vertical stroke above ; (2) that of the Catapatha Brahmana, which 
marks the acute with a horizontal stroke below ; and (3) that of the Sama- 
veda, which indicates the three accents with the numerals 1, 2, 3, to distinguish 
three degrees of pitch, the acute (1) here being the highest. 


exceeding ten or twelve. These stanzas (often loosely 
called verses) are composed in some fifteen different 
metres, only seven of which, however, are at all frequent. 
Three of them are by far the commonest, claiming 
together about four-fifths of the total number of stanzas 
in the Rigveda. 

There is an essential difference between Greek and 
Vedic prosody. Whereas the metrical unit of the forme_r 
system is the foot7m~trie~tatteT it is the line (or verse)^ 
feeFnot being distinguished. Curiously enough, how- 
ever, the Vedic metrical unit is also called pdda, or 

"foot, y H5uTfof a very different reason ; for the word has_ 
here really the figurative sense of " quarter " (from the_ 
foot of a quadruped), because the most usual kind of 
stanza has touT ~Iines~Tfie"" ordinary padas consist of 
eight, eleven, or twelve syllables. A_ stanza or rich is 
"generally formed of thr ee or four l ines of the same kind. 
Four or five of the rarer types of stanza are, however, 
made up of a co mbination, of different lines. ___ 

It is to be noted that the Vedic metres have a certain 
elasticity to which we are unaccustomed in Greek pro- 
sody, and which recalls the irregularities of the Latin 
Saturnian verse. Only the rhythm of the last four or / 
five syllables is determined, the first part of the line Xv 
not being subject to rule. Regarded in their historical - / ^ 
connection, the Vedic metres, which are the foundation 
of the entire prosody of the later literature, occupy a 
position midway between the system of the Indo-Iranian 
period and that of classical Sanskrit. For the evidenc e 
of the Avesta, with its eight and eleven syllable lines, 
which ignore quantity, but are combined Into stanzas 
oth erwise tne sar neas~lhose of the Rigveda, indicates 
that the metricalpractice~of the periocTwhen Persians * 


and Indians were still one people, depended on no other 
principle than the counting of syllables. In the Sanskrit 
period, on the other hand, the quantity of every syllable 
in the line was determined in all metres, with the sole 
exception of the loose measure (called cloka) employed 
in epic poetry. The metrical regulation of the line, 
starting from its end, thus finally extended to the whole. 
The fixed rhythm at the end of the Vedic line is called 
vritta, literally " turn " (from vrit, Lat. vert-ere), which 
corresponds etymologically to the Latin versus. 

The eight-syllable line usually ends in two iambics, 
the first four syllables, though not exactly determined, 
having a tendency to be iambic also. This verse is 
therefore the almost exact equivalent of the Greek iambic 

Three of these lines combine to form the gdyatrl 
metre, in which nearly one-fourth (2450) of the total 
number of stanzas in the Rigveda is composed. An 
example of it is the first stanza of the Rigveda, which 
runs as follows : 

Agnim ile purohitam 
Yaj?idsya devdm ritvijam 
Hotdram ratnadhdtamam. 

It may be closely rendered thus in lines imitating the 
rhythm of the original : 

I praise Agni, domestic priest, 
God, minister of sacrifice, 
Herald, most prodigal of wealth. 

Four of these eight-syllable lines combine to form 
the anushtubh stanza, in which the first two and the last 
two are more closely connected. In the Rigveda the 
number of stanzas in this measure amounts to only 


about one-third of those in the gdyatrl. This relation 
is gradually reversed, till we reach the post-Vedic period, 
when the gdyatrl is found to have disappeared, and the 
anushtubh (now generally called cloka) to have become 
the predominant measure of Sanskrit poetry. A develop- 
ment in the character of this metre may be observed 
within the Rigveda itself. All its verses in the oldest 
hymns are the same, being iambic in rhythm. In later 
hymns, however, a tendency to differentiate the first and 
third from the second and fourth lines, by making the 
former non-iambic, begins to show itself. Finally, in 
the latest hymns of the tenth book the prevalence of the 
iambic rhythm disappears in the odd lines. Here every 
possible combination of quantity in the last four syllables 
is found, but the commonest variation, nearly equalling 

the iambic in frequency, is w w. The latter is the 

regular ending of the first and third line in the post- 
Vedic cloka. 

The twelve-syllable line 4 ends thus : ^. Four 
of these together form the jagatl stanza. The trishtubh 
stanza consists of four lines of eleven syllables, which 
are practically catalectic jagatls y as they end ~ ~. 
These two verses being so closely allied and having 
the same cadence, are often found mixed in the same 
stanza. The trishtubh is by far the commonest metre, 
about two-fifths of the Rigveda being composed in it. 

Speaking generally, a hymn of the Rigveda consists 
entirely of stanzas in the same metre. The regular 
and typical deviation from this rule is to conclude a 
hymn with a single stanza in a metre different from 
that of the rest, this being a natural method of dis- 
tinctly marking its close. 

A certain number of hymns of the Rigveda consist 


not merely of a succession of single stanzas, but of 
equal groups of stanzas. The group consists either of 
three stanzas in the same simple metre, generally 
gdyatrly or of the combination of two stanzas in different 
mixed metres. The latter strophic type goes by the 
name of Pragdtha, and is found chiefly in the eighth 
book of the Rigveda* 



Before we turn to describe the world of thought 
revealed in the hymns of the Rigveda, the question 
may naturally be asked, to what extent is it possible 
to understand the true meaning of a book occupying 
so isolated a position in the remotest age of Indian 
literature ? The answer to this question depends on 
the recognition of the right method of interpretation 
applicable to that ancient body of poetry. When the 
Rigveda first became known, European scholars, as 
yet only acquainted with the language and literature 
of classical Sanskrit, found that the Vedic hymns were 
composed in an ancient dialect and embodied a world 
of ideas far removed from that with which they had 
made themselves familiar. The interpretation of these 
hymns was therefore at the outset barred by almost 
insurmountable difficulties. Fortunately, however, a 
voluminous commentary on the Rigveda, which ex- 
plains or paraphrases every word of its hymns, was 
found to exist. This was the work of the great Vedic 
scholar Sayana, who lived in the latter half of the four- 
teenth century A.D. at Vijayanagara ("City of Victory"), 
the ruins of which lie near Bellary in Southern India. 
As his commentary constantly referred to ancient 
authorities, it was thought to have preserved the true 
meaning of the Rigveda in a traditional interpretation 


going back to the most ancient times. Nothing further 
seemed to be necessary than to ascertain the explana- 
tion of the original text which prevailed in India 
five centuries ago, and is laid down in Sayana's work. 

I This view is represented by the translation of the 
Rigveda begun in 1850 by H. H. Wilson, the first 

^professor of Sanskrit at Oxford. 

Another line was taken by the late Professor Roth,^ 
the founder of Vedic philology. This great scholar 
propounded the view that the aim of Vedic interpre- 
tation was not to ascertain the meaning which Sayana, 
or even Yaska, who lived eighteen centuries earlier, 
attributed to the Vedic hymns, but the meaning which 
the ancient poets themselves intended. Such an end 
could not be attained by simply following the lead of 
the commentators. For the latter, though valuable 
guides towards the understanding of the later theolo- 
gical and ritual literature, with the notions and prac- 
tice of which they were familiar, showed no con- 
tinuity of tradition from the time of the poets ; for 
the tradition supplied by them was solely that which 
was handed down among interpreters, and only began 
when the meaning of the hymns was no longer fully 
comprehended. There could, in fact, be no other 
tradition ; interpretation only arising when the hymns 
had become obscure. The commentators, therefore, 
simply preserved attempts at the solution of difficulties, 
while showing a distinct tendency towards misinterpret- 
ing the language as well as the religious, mythological, 
and cosmical ideas of a vanished age by the scholastic 
notions prevalent in their own. 

It is clear from what Yaska says that some important 
discrepancies in opinion prevailed among the older expo- 


sitors and the different schools of interpretation which 
flourished before his time. He gives the names of no 
fewer than seventeen predecessors, whose explanations of 
the Veda are often conflicting. Thus one of them inter- 
prets the word Ndsatyau, an epithet of the Vedic Dios- 
kouroi, as " true, not false ; " another takes it to mean 
"leaders of truth," while Yaska himself thinks it might 
mean " nose-born " ! The gap between the poets and 
the early interpreters was indeed so great that one of 
Yaska's predecessors, named Kautsa, actually had the 
audacity to assert that the science of Vedic exposition 
was useless, as the Vedic hymns and formulas were 
obscure, unmeaning, or mutually contradictory. Such 
criticisms Yaska meets by replying that it was not the 
fault of the rafter if the blind man did not see it. Yaska 
himself interprets only a very small portion of the hymns 
of the Rigveda. In what he does attempt to explain, he 
largely depends on etymological considerations for the 
sense he assigns. He often gives two or more alternative 
or optional senses to the same word. The fact that he 
offers a choice of meanings shows that he had no earlier 
authority for his guide, and that his renderings are simply 
conjectural ; for no one can suppose that the authors of 
the hymns had more than one meaning in their minds. 
It is, however, highly probable that Yaska, with all the 
appliances at his command, was able to ascertain the 
sense of many words which scholars who, like Sayana, 
lived nearly two thousand years later, had no means of 
discovering. Nevertheless Sayana is sometimes found 
to depart from Yaska. Thus we arrive at the dilemma 
that either the old interpreter is wrong or the later one 
does not follow the tradition. There are also many 
instances in which Sayana, independently of Yaska, gives 


a variety of inconsistent explanations of a word, both in 
interpreting a single passage or in commenting on dif- 
ferent passages. (Thus cdrada, " autumnal/' he explains 
in one place as " fortified for a year/' in another as 
u new or fortified for a year/' and in a third as " be- 
longing to a demon called (Jarad." One of the defects of 
Sayana is, in fact, that he limits his view in most cases 
to the single verse he has before him. A detailed exa- 
mination of his explanations, as well as those of Yaska, 
has shown that there is in the Rigveda a large number 
of the most difficult words, about the proper sense 
of which neither scholar had any certain information 
from either tradition or etymology. We are there- 
fore justified in saying about them that there is in 
the hymns no unusual or difficult word or obscure 
text in regard to which the authority of the com- 
mentators should be received as final, unless it is 
supported by probability, by the context, or by paral- 
lel passages. Thus no translation of the Rigveda based 
exclusively on Sayana's commentary can possibly be 
satisfactory. It would, in fact, be as unreasonable to 
take him for our sole guide as to make our under- 
standing of the Hebrew books of the Old Testament 
dependent on the Talmud and the Rabbis. It must, 
indeed, be admitted that from a large proportion of 
Sayana's interpretations most material help can be de- 
rived, and that he has been of the greatest service in 
facilitating and accelerating the comprehension of the 
Veda. But there is little information of value to be 
derived from him, that, with our knowledge of later 
Sanskrit, with the other remains of ancient Indian litera- 
ture, and with our various philological appliances, we 
might not sooner or later have found out for ourselves. 


Roth, then, rejected the commentators as our chief 
guides in interpreting the Rigveda y which, as the earliest 
literary monument of the Indian, and indeed of the 
Aryan race, stands quite by itself, high up on an isolated 
peak of remote antiquity. As regards its more peculiar 
and difficult portions, it must therefore be interpreted 
mainly through itself ; or, to apply in another sense the 
words of an Indian commentator, it must shine by its 
own light and be self-demonstrating. Roth further ex- 
pressed the view that a qualified European is better able 
to arrive at the true meaning of the Rigveda than a 
Brahman interpreter. The judgment of the former is 
unfettered by theological bias ; he possesses the his- 
torical faculty, and he has also a far wider intellectual 
horizon, equipped as he is with all the resources of 
scientific scholarship. Roth therefore set himself to 
compare carefully all passages parallel in form and 
matter, with due regard to considerations of context, 
grammar, and etymology, while consulting, though, per- 
haps, with insufficient attention, the traditional inter- 
pretations. He thus subjected the Rigveda to a historical 
treatment within the range of Sanskrit itself. He further 
called in the assistance rendered from without by the 
comparative method, utilising the help afforded not only 
by the Avesta, which is so closely allied to the Rigveda 
in language and matter, but also by the results of com- 
parative philology, resources unknown to the traditional 

By thus ascertaining the meaning of single words, 
the foundations of the scientific interpretation of the 
Vedas were laid in the great Sanskrit Dictionary, in 
seven volumes, published by Roth in collaboration with 
Bohtlingk between 1852 and 1875. Roth's method is 


now accepted by every scientific student of the Veda. 
Native tradition is, however, being more fully exploited 
than was done by Roth himself, for it is now more clearly 
recognised that no aid to be derived from extant Indian 
scholarship ought to be neglected. Under the guidance 
of such principles the, progress already made in solving 
many important problems presented by Vedic literature 
has been surprising, when we consider the shortness of 
the time and the fewness of the labourers, of whom only 
two or three have been natives of this country. As a 
general result, the historical sense has succeeded in 
grasping the spirit of Indian antiquity, long obscured 
by native misinterpretation. Much, of course, still re- 
mains to be done by future generations of scholars, 
especially in detailed and minute investigation. This 
could not be otherwise when we remember that Vedic 
research is only the product of the last fifty years, and 
that, notwithstanding the labours of very numerous 
Hebrew scholars during several centuries, there are, in 
the Psalms and the Prophetic Books of the Old Testa- 
ment, still many passages which remain obscure and 
disputed. There can be no doubt that many problems 
at present insoluble will in the end be solved by that 
modern scholarship which has already deciphered the 
cuneiform writings of Persia as well as the rock inscrip- 
tions of India, and has discovered the languages which 
lay hidden under these mysterious characters. 

Having thus arrived at the threshold of the world 
of Vedic thought, we may now enter through the portals 
opened by the golden key of scholarship. By far the 
greater part of the poetry of the Rigveda consists of 
religious lyrics, only the tenth book containing some 
secular poems. N Its hymns are mainly addressed to the 


various gods of the Vedic pantheon, praising their mighty 
deeds, their greatness, and their beneficence, or be- 
seeching them for wealth in cattle, numerous offspring, 
prosperity, long life, and victory. The Rigveda is not a 
collection of primitive popular poetry, as it was apt to be 
described at an earlier period of Sanskrit studies. It is 
rather a body of skilfully composed hymns, produced by 
a sacerdotal class and meant' to accompany the Soma 
oblation and the fire sacrifice of melted butter, which 
were offered according to a ritual by no means so simple 
as was at one time supposed, though undoubtedly much 
simpler than the elaborate system of the Brahmana 
period. Its poetry is consequently marred by frequent 
references to the sacrifice, especially when the two 
great ritual deities, Agni and Soma, are the objects of 
praise. At the same time it is on the whole much more 
natural than might under these conditions be expected. 
For the gods who are invoked are nearly all personifica- 
tions of the phenomena of Nature, and thus give occasion 
for the employment of much beautiful and even noble 
imagery. The diction of the hymns is, generally speak- 
ing, simple and unaffected. Compound words are 
sparingly used, and are limited to two members, in 
marked contrast with the frequency and length of com- 
pounds in classical Sanskrit. The thought, too, is usually 
artless and direct, excep t in the hymns to the ritual 
deities, where it becomes involved in conceit and mystical 
obscurity. THe very limited nature of the theme, in 
ffiese cases, Inust have forced the minds of the priestly 
singers to strive after variety by giving utterance to the 
same idea in enigmatical phraseology. 

^Here^itien, we~already find the beginnings of that 
fondness for subtlety and difficult modes of expression 


which is so prevalent in the later literature, and which is 
betrayed even in the earlier period by the saying in one 
of the Brahmanas that the gods love the recondite. In 
some hymns, too, there appears that tendency to play 
with words which was carried to inordinate lengths in late 
Sanskrit poems and romances. The hymns of the Rigveda y 
of course, vary much in literary merit, as is naturally to 
be expected in the productions of many poets extend- 
ng over some centuries. Many display a high order of 
poetical excellence, while others consist of commonplace 
and mechanical verse. The degree of skill in composi- 
tion is on the average remarkably high, especially when 
we consider that here we have by far the oldest poetry 
of the Aryan race. The art which these early seers feel 
is needed to produce a hymn acceptable to the gods 
is often alluded to, generally in the closing stanza. The 
poet usually compares his work to a car wrought and 
put together by a deft craftsman. One Rishi also likens 
his prayers to fair and well-woven garments ; another 
speaks of having adorned his song of praise like a bride 
for her lover. Poets laud the gods according to know- 
ledge and ability (vi. 21, 6), and give utterance to the 
emotions of their hearts (x. 39, 15). Various individual 
gods are, it is true, in a general way said to have 
granted seers the gift of song, but of the later doctrine 
of revelation the Rigvedic poets know nothing. 

The remark which has often been made that mono- 
tony prevails in the Vedic hymns contains truth. But 
the impression is produced by the hymns to the same 
deity being commonly grouped together in each book. 
A similar effect would probably arise from reading in 
succession twenty or thirty lyrics on Spring, even in an 
anthology of the best modern poetry. When we con- 


sider that nearly five hundred hymns of the Rigveda are 
addressed to two deities alone, it is surprising that so 
many variations of the same theme should be possible. 

The hymns of the Rigveda being mainly invocations 
of the gods, their contents are largely mythological. 
Special interest attaches to this mythology, because it 
represents an earlier stage of thought than is to be found 
in any other literature. It is sufficiently primitive to 
enable us to see clearly the process of personification by 
which natural phenomena developed into gods. Never 
observing, in his ordinary life, action or movement not 
caused by an acting or moving person, the Vedic Indian, 
like man in a much less advanced state, still refers 
such occurrences in Nature to personal agents, which to 
him are inherent in the phenomena. He still looks out 
upon the workings of Nature with childlike astonishment. 
One poet asks why the sun does not fall from the sky ; 
another wonders where the stars go by day ; while a 
third marvels that the waters of all rivers constantly 
flowing into it never fill the ocean. The unvarying re- 
gularity of sun and moon, and the unfailing recurrence 
of the dawn, however, suggested to these ancient singers 
the idea of the unchanging order that prevails in Nature, 
he notion of this general law, recognised under the 
name rita (properly the " course " of things), we find in 
the Rigveda extended first to the fixed rules of the 
sacrifice (rite), and then to those of morality (right). 
Though the mythological phase presented by the Rigveda 
is comparatively primitive, it yet contains many con- 
ceptions inherited from previous ages. The parallels of 
the Avesta show that several of the Vedic deities go back 
to the time when the ancestors of Persians and Indians 
were still one people. Among these may be mentioned 



Yama, god of the dead, identical with Yima, ruler of 
paradise, and especially Mitra, the cult of whose Persian 
counterpart, Mithra, obtained from 200-400 A.D. a world- 
wide diffusion in the Roman Empire, and came nearer to 
monotheism than the cult of any other god in paganism. 

Various religious practices can also be traced back to 
that early age, such as the worship of fire and the cult of 
the plant Soma (the Avestan Haomd). The veneration 
of the cow, too, dates from that time. A religious hymn 
poetry must have existed even then, for stanzas of four 
eleven-syllable (the Vedic trishtubli) and of four or three 
eight-syllable lines (anushtubh and gayatri) were already 
known, as is proved by the agreement of the Avesta with 
the Rigveda. 

From the still earlier Indo-European period had come 
down the general conception of " god " (deva-s, Lat. deu-s) 
and that of heaven as a divine father (Dyaus pita, Gr. Zeus 
pater, Lat. Jupiter). Probably from an even remoter anti- 
quity is derived the notion of heaven and earth as primeval 
and universal parents, as well as many magical beliefs. 

The. universe appeared to the poets of the Rigveda to 
be divided into the three domains of earth, air, and 
heaven, a division perhaps also known to the early Greeks. 
This is the favourite triad of the Rigveda, constantly 
mentioned expressly or by implication. The solar phe- 
nomena are referred to heaven, while those of light- 
ning, rain, and wind belong to the air. In the three 
worlds the various gods perform their actions, though 
they are supposed to dwell only in the third, the home of 
light. The air is often called a sea, as the abode of the 
celestial waters, while the great rainless clouds are con- 
ceived sometimes as rocks or mountains, sometimes as 
the castles of demons who w T ar against the gods. The 


thundering rain-clouds become lowing cows, whose milk 
is shed and bestows fatness upon the earth. 

The higher gods of the Rigveda are almost entirely 
personifications of natural phenomena, such as Sun, 
Dawni Fire, Wind. Excepting a few deities surviving 
from an older period, the gods are, for the most part, 
more or less clearly connected with their physical founda- 
tion. The personifications being therefore but slightly 
developed, lack definiteness of outline and individua- 
lity of character. Moreover, the phenomena themselves 
which are behind the personifications have few distinc- 
tive traits, while they share some attributes with other 
phenomena belonging to the same domain. Thus Dawn, 
Sun, Fire have the common features of being luminous, 
dispelling darkness, appearing in the morning. Hence 
the character of each god is made up of only a few 
essential qualities combined with many others which are 
common to all the gods, such as brilliance, power, bene- 
ficence, and wisdom. These common attributes tend to 
obscure those which are distinctive, because in hymns of 
prayer and praise the former naturally assume special 
importance. Again, gods belonging to different depart- 
ments of nature, but having striking features in common, 
are apt to grow more like each other. Assimilation of 
this kind is encouraged by a peculiar practice of the 
Vedic poets the invocation of deities in pairs. Such 
combinations result in attributes peculiar to the one god 
attaching themselves to the other, even when the latter 
appears alone. Thus when the Fire-god, invoked by 
himself, is called a slayer of the demon Vritra, he re- 
ceives an attribute distinctive of the thunder-god Indra, 
with whom he is often coupled. The possibility of 
assigning nearly every power to every god rendered the 


identification of one deity with another an easy matter. 
Such identifications are frequent enough in the Rigveda. 
For example, a poet addressing the fire-god exclaims: 
" Thou at thy birth, O Agni, art Varuna ; when kindled 
thou becomest Mitra ; in thee, O Son of Might, all gods 
are centred ; thou art Indra to the worshipper" (v. 3, 1). 

Moreover, mystical speculations on the nature of 
Agni, so important a god in the eyes of a priesthood 
devoted to a fire-cult, on his many manifestations as indi- 
vidual fires on earth, and on his other aspects as atmos- 
pheric fire in lightning and as celestial fire in the sun 
aspects which the Vedic poets are fond of alluding to in 
riddles would suggest the idea that various deities are 
but different forms of a single divine being. This idea is 
found in more than one passage of the later hymns of the 
Rigveda. Thus the composer of a recent hymn (164) 
of the first book says : " The one being priests speak of 
in many ways ; they call it Agni, Yama, Mataricvan." 
Similarly, a seer of the last book (x. 114) remarks: 
" Priests and poets with words make into many the 
bird {i.e. the sun) which is but one." Utterances like 
these show that by the end of the Rigvedic period the 
polytheism of the Rishis had received a monotheistic tinge. 

Occasionally we even find shadowed forth the pan- 
theistic idea of a deity representing not only all the gods, 
but Nature as well. Thus the goddess Aditi is identified 
with all the deities, with men, with all that has been and 
shall be born, with air, and heaven (i. 89) ; and in a cos- 
mogonic hymn (x. 121) the Creator is not only described 
as the one god above all gods, but is said 1 to embrace all 
things. This germ of pantheism developed through the 
later Vedic literature till it assumed its final shape in the 

1 In verse 10, which is a late addition ; see p. 51, footnote. 


Vedanta philosophy, still the most popular system of the 

The practice of the poets, even in the older parts 
of the Rigveda y of invoking different gods as if each 
of them were paramount, gave rise to Professor Max 
Muller's theory of Henotheism or Kathenotheism, ac- 
cording to which the seers held "the belief in indi- 
vidual gods alternately regarded as the highest," and 
for the moment treated the god addressed as if he 
were an absolutely independent and supreme deity, 
alone present to the mind. In reality, however, the 
practice of the poets of the Rigveda hardly amounts 
to more than the exaggeration to be found in the 
Homeric hymns also with which a singer would natu- 
rally magnify the particular god whom he is invoking. 
For the Rishis well knew the exact position of each god 
in the Soma ritual, in which nearly every member of the 
pantheon found a place. 

The gods, in the view of the Vedic poets, had a 
beginning ; for they are described as the offspring of 
"heaven and earth, or sometimes of other gods. This 
in itself implies different generations, but earlier gods 
are also expressly referred to in several passages. Nor 
were the gods regarded as originally immortal ; for im- 
mortality is said to have been bestowed upon them 
by individual deities, such as Agni and Savitri, or to 
have been acquired by drinking soma. India and 
other gods are spoken of as unaging, but whether their 
immortality was regarded by the poets as absolute there 
is no evidence to show. In the post- Vedic view it was 
only relative, being limited to a cosmic age. 

The physical aspect of the Vedic gods is anthropo- 
morphic. Thus head, face, eyes, arms, hands, fee , 


and other portions of the human frame are ascribed 
to them. But their forms are shadowy and their limbs 
or parts are often simply meant figuratively to de- 
scribe their activities. Thus the tongue and limbs of 
the fire-god are merely his flames ; the arms of the 
sun-god are simply his rays, while his eye only re- 
presents the solar orb. Since the outward shape of 
the gods was thus vaguely conceived, while their con- 
nection with natural phenomena was in many instances 
still evident, it is easy to understand why no mention 
is made in the Rigveda of images of the gods, still less 
of temples, which imply the existence of images. Idols 
first begin to be referred to in the Sutras. 

Some of the gods appear equipped as warriors, 
wearing coats of mail and helmets, and armed with 
spears, battle-axes, bows and arrows. They all drive 
through the air in luminous cars, generally drawn by 
horses, but in some cases by kine, goats, or deer. In 
their cars the gods come to seat themselves at the sacrifice, 
which, however, is also conveyed to them in heaven by 
Agni. They are on the whole conceived as dwelling to- 
gether in harmony ; the only one who ever introduces a 
note of discord being the warlike and overbearing Indra. 
( To the successful and therefore optimistic Vedic 
Indian, the gods seemed almost exclusively beneficent 
beings, bestowers of long life and prosperity. Indeed, 
the only deity in whom injurious features are at all promi- 
nent is Rudra. The lesser evils closely connected with 
human life, such as disease, proceed from minor demons, 
while the greater evils manifested in Nature, such as 
drought and darkness, are produced by powerful demons 
like Vritra. The conquest of these demons brings out all 
the more strikingly the beneficent nature of the gods. 


The character of the Vedic gods is also moral. 
They are " true " and " not deceitful/' being through- 
out the friends and guardians of honesty and virtue. 
But the divine morality only reflects the ethical stan- 
dard of an early civilisation. Thus even the alliance of 
Varuna, the most moral of the gods, with righteousness 
is not such as to prevent him from employing craft 
against the hostile and the deceitful man. Moral eleva- 
tion is, on the whole, a less prominent characteristic of 
the gods than greatness and power. 

The relation of the worshipper to the gods in the 
Rigveda is in general one of dependence on their will, 
prayers and sacrifices being offered to win their favour 
or forgiveness. The expectation of something in return 
for the offering is, however, frequently apparent, and 
the keynote of many a hymn is, " I give to thee that 
thou mayst give to me." The idea is also often ex- 
pressed that the might and valour -of the gods is pro- 
duced by hymns, sacrifices, and especially offerings of 
soma. Here we find the germs of sacerdotal pre- 
tensions which gradually increased during the Vedic 
age. Thus the statement occurs in the White Yajur- 
veda that the Brahman who possesses correct know- 
ledge has the gods in his power. The Brahmanas go 
a step farther in saying that there are two kinds of 
gods, the Devas and the Brahmans, the latter of whom 
are to be held as deities among men. In the Brahmanas, 
too, the sacrifice is represented as all-powerful, con- 
trolling not only the gods, but the very processes of 

The number of the gods is stated in the Rigveda 
itself to be thirty-three, several times expressed as thrice 
eleven, when each group is regarded as corresponding 


to one of the divisions of the threefold universe. This 
aggregate could not always have been deemed exhaus- 
tive, for sometimes other gods are mentioned in addition 
to the thirty-three. Nor can this number, of course, 
include various groups, such as the storm-gods. 

There are, however, hardly twenty individual deities 
important enough in the Rigveda to have at least three 
entire hymns addressed to them. The most prominent 
of these are Indra, the thunder-god, with at least 250 
hymns, Agni with about 200, and Soma with over 100 ; 
while Parjanya, god of rain, and Yama, god of the 
dead, are invoked in only three each. The rest occupy 
various positions between these two extremes. It is 
somewhat remarkable that the two great deities of 
modern Hinduism, Vishnu and (Jiva, who are equal 
in importance, should have been on the same level, 
though far below (he leading deities, three thousand 
years ago, as Vishnu and Rudra (the earlier form of 
(Jiva) in the Rigveda. Even then they show the same 
general characteristics as now, Vishnu being specially 
benevolent and Rudra terrible. 

The oldest among the gods of heaven is Dyaus (identi- 
cal with the Greek Zeus). This personification of the sky 
as a god never w 7 ent beyond a rudimentary stage in the 
Rigveda, being almost entirely limited to the idea of 
paternity. Dyaus is generally coupled with Prithivl, 
Earth, the pair being celebrated in six hymns as universal 
parents. In a few passages Dyaus is called a bull, ruddy 
and bellowing downwards, with reference to the fertilis- 
ing power of rain no less than to the lightning and 
thundering heavens. He is also once compared with a 
black steed decked with pearls, in obvious allusion to the 
nocturnal star-spangled sky. One poet describes this god 


as furnished with a bolt, while another speaks of him as 
"Dyaus smiling through the clouds/' meaning the lighten- 
ing sky. In several other passages of the Rigveda the 
verb "to smile" (smi) alludes to lightning, just as in 
classical Sanskrit a smile is constantly compared with 
objects of dazzling whiteness. 

A much more important deity of the sky is Varuna t in 
whom the personification has proceeded so far that the 
natural phenomenon which underlies it can only be 
inferred from traits in his character. This obscurity of 
origin arises partly from his not being a creation of 
Indian mythology, but a heritage from an earlier age, and 
partly from his name not at the same time designating a 
natural phenomenon, like that of Dyaus. The word 
varuna-s seems to have originally meant the "encom- 
passing" sky 2 and is probably the same word as the 
Greek Ouranos, though the identification presents some 
phonetic difficulties. , Varuna is invoked in far fewer 
hymns than Indra, Agni, or Soma, but he is undoubtedly 
the greatest of the Vedic gods by the side of Indra. 
While Indra is the great warrior, Varuna is the great 
upholder of physical and moral order {ritd). The hymns 
addressed to him are more ethical and devout in tone 
than any others. They form the most exalted portion 
of the Veda, often resembling in character the Hebrew 
psalms. The peaceful sway of Varuna is explained by 
his connection with the regularly recurring celestial 
phenomena, the course of the heavenly bodies seen in 
the sky ; Indra's warlike and occasionally capricious 
nature is accounted for by the variable and uncertain 
strife of the elements in the thunderstorm. The charac- 
ter and power of Varuna may be sketched as nearly as 
possible in the words of the Vedic poets themselves as 


follows. By the law of Varuna heaven and earth are 
held apart. He made the golden swing (the sun) to 
shine in heaven. He has made a wide path for the sun. 
The wind which resounds through the air is Varuna's 
breath. By his ordinances the moon shining brightly 
moves at night, and the stars placed up on high are seen 
at night but disappear by day. He causes the rivers to 
flow ; they stream unceasingly according to his ordi- 
nance. By his occult power the rivers swiftly pouring 
into the ocean do not fill it with water. He makes the 
inverted cask to pour its waters and to moisten the 
ground, while the mountains are wrapt in cloud. It is 
chiefly with these aerial waters that he is connected, 
very rarely with the sea. 

Varuna's omniscience is often dwelt on. He knows 
the flight of the birds in the sky, the path of ships in the 
ocean, the course of the far-travelling wind. JHe beholds 
all the secret things that have been or shall be done. He 
witnesses men's truth and falsehood. No creature can 
even wink without him. As a moral governor Varuna 
stands far above any other deity. His wrath is roused 
by sin, which is the infringement of his ordinances, and 
which he severely punishes. The fetters with which he 
binds sinners are often mentioned. A dispeller, hater, 
and punisher of falsehood, he is gracious to the penitent. 
He releases men not only from the sins which they 
themselves commit, but from those committed by their 
fathers. He spares the suppliant who daily transgresses 
his laws, and is gracious to those who have broken his 
ordinances by thoughtlessness. There is, in fact, no 
hymn to Varuna in which the prayer for forgiveness of 
guilt does not occur, as in the hymns to other deities 
the prayer for worldly goods. 


With the growth of, the conception of the creator, 
Prajapati, as a supreme deity, the characteristics of 
Varuna as a sovereign god naturally faded away, and the 
dominion of waters, only a part of his original sphere, 
alone remained. This is already partly the case in the 
Atharva-veda y and in post-Vedic mythology he is only an 
Indian Neptune, god of the sea. 

The following stanzas from a hymn to Varuna (vii. 
89) will illustrate the spirit of the prayers addressed to 
him : 

May I not yet, King Varuna, 
Go down into the house of day : 
Have mercy, spare me, mighty Lord. 

Thirst has come on thy worshipper 
Though standing in the water J midst : x 
Have mercy, spare me, mighty Lord. 

O Varuna, whatever the offence may be 
That we as men commit against the heavenly folk 
When through our want of thought we violate thy laws, 
Chastise us not, O God, for that iniquity. 

There are in the Rigveda five solar deities, differen- 
tiated as representing various aspects of the activity of 
the sun. One of the oldest of these, Mitra, the " Friend," 
seems to have been conceived as the beneficent side of 
the sun's power. Going back to the Indo-Iranian period, 
he has in the Rigveda almost entirely lost his individuality, 
which is practically merged in that of Varuna. With the 
latter he is constantly invoked, while only one single 
hymn (iii. 59) is addressed to him alone. 

Surya (cognate in name to the Greek Helios) is the 
most concrete of the solar deities. For as his name also 
designates the luminary itself, his connection with the 

1 A reference to dropsy, with which Varuna is thought to afflict sinners. 


latter is never lost sight of. The eye of Surya is often 
mentioned, and Dawn is said to bring the eye of the 
gods. All-seeing, he is the spy of the whole world, 
beholding all beings and the good or bad deeds of 
mortals. Aroused by Surya, men pursue their objects 
and perform their work. He is the soul or guardian of 
all that moves and is fixed. He rides in a car, which is 
generally described as drawn by seven steeds. These he 
unyokes at sunset : 

When he has loosed his coursers from their station, 
Straightway Night over all spreads out her garment (i. 1 1 5, 4). 

Surya rolls up the darkness like a skin, and the stars 
slink away like thieves. He shines forth from the lap 
of the dawns. He is also spoken of as the husband 
of Dawn. As a form of Agni, the gods placed him 
in heaven. He is often described as a bird or eagle 
traversing space. He measures the days and prolongs 
life. He drives away disease and evil dreams. At his 
rising he is prayed to declare men sinless to Mitra and 
Varuna. All beings depend on Surya, and so he is called 

Eleven hymns, or about the same number as to 
Surya, are addressed to another solar deity, Savitri, the 
" Stimulates," who represents the quickening activity of 
the sun. He is pre-eminently a golden deity, with golden 
hands and arms and a golden car. He raises aloft his 
strong golden arms, with which he blesses and arouses 
all beings, and which extend to the ends of the earth. 
He moves in his golden car, seeing all creatures, on a 
downward and an upward path. He shines after the 
path of the dawn. Beaming with the rays of the sun, 
yellow-haired, Savitri raises up his light continually from 


the east. He removes evil dreams and drives away 
demons and sorcerers. He bestows immortality on the 
gods as well as length of life on man. He also -conducts 
the departed spirit to where the righteous dwell. The 
other gods follow Savitri's lead ; no being, not even the 
most powerful gods, Indra and Varuna, can resist his 
will and independent sway. Savitri is not infrequently 
connected with the evening, being in oq,e hymn (ii. 38) 
extolled as the setting sun : 

Borne by swift coursers, he will now unyoke them : 
The speeding chariot he has stayed from going. 
He checks the speed of them that glide like serpents : 
Night has come on by Savitri's commandment. 
The weaver rolls her outstretched web together, 
The skilled lay down their work in midst of toiling^ 
The birds all seek their nests, their shed the cattle : 
Each to his lodging Savitri disperses. 

To this god is addressed the most famous stanza of 
the Rigveda, with which, as the Stimulator, he was in 
ancient times invoked at the beginning of Vedic study, 
and which is still repeated by every orthodox Hindu in 
his morning prayers. From the name of the deity it is 
called the Savitri , but it is also often referred to as " the 
Gdyatrl" from the metre in which it is composed : 

May we attain that excellent 

Glory of Savitri the god, 

That he may stimulate our thoughts (iii. 62, 10). 

A peculiarity of the hymns to Savitri is the perpetual 
play on his name with forms of the root su t "to stimu- 
late," from which it is derived. 

Pushan is invoked in some eight hymns of the 
Rigveda. His name means " Prosperer," and the con- 


ception underlying his character seems to be the bene- 
ficent power of the sun, manifested chiefly as a pastoral 
deity. His car is drawn by goats and he carries a goad. 
Knowing the ways of heaven, he conducts the dead 
on the far path to the fathers. He is also a guardian 
of roads, protecting cattle and guiding them with his 
goad. The welfare which he bestows results from the 
protection he extends to men and cattle on earth, and 
from his guidance of mortals to the abodes of bliss in 
the next world. 

Judged by a statistical standard, Vishnu is only a deity 
of the fourth rank, less frequently invoked than Surya, 
Savitri, and Ptishan in the Rigveda, but historically he 
is the most important of the solar deities. For he is one 
of the two great gods of modern Hinduism. The 
essential feature of his character is that he takes three 
strides, which doubtless represent the course of the sun 
through the three divisions of the universe. His highest 
step is heaven, where the gods and the fathers dwell. 
For this abode the poet expresses his longing in the 
following words (i. 154, 5) : 

May I attain to that, his well-loved dwelling, 
Where me?i devoted to the gods are blessed: 

In Vis/mu's highest step he is our kinsman, 
Of mighty stride there is a spring of nectar. 

Vishnu seems to have been originally conceived as 
the sun, not in his general character, but as the per- 
sonified swiftly moving luminary which with vast strides 
traverses the three worlds. He is in several passages 
said to have taken his three steps for the benefit of 

To this feature may be traced the myth of the 


Brahmanas in which Vishnu appears in the form of a 
dwarf as an artifice to recover the earth, now in the 
possession of demons, by taking his three strides. His 
character for benevolence was in post-Vedic mytho- 
logy developed in the doctrine of the Avatars (" descents " 
to earth) or incarnations which he assumed for the good 
of humanity. 

Ushas, goddess of dawn, is almost the only female 
deity to whom entire hymns are addressed, and the only 
one invoked with any frequency. She, however, is cele- 
brated in some twenty hymns. The name, meaning the 
"Shining One," is cognate to the Latin Aurora and 
the Greek Eos. When the goddess is addressed, the 
physical phenomenon of dawn is never absent from 
the poet's mind. The fondness with which the thoughts 
of these priestly singers turned to her alone among 
the goddesses, though she received no share in the 
offering of soma like the other gods, seems to show 
that the glories of the dawn, more splendid in Northern 
India than those we are wont to see, deeply impressed 
the minds of these early poets. In any case, she is 
their most graceful creation, the charm of which is 
unsurpassed in the descriptive religious lyrics of any 
other literature. Here there are no priestly subtleties 
to obscure the brightness of her form, and few allu- 
sions to the sacrifice to mar the natural beauty of the 

To enable the reader to estimate the merit of this 
poetry I will string together some utterances about 
the Dawn goddess, culled from various hymns, and 
expressed as nearly as possible in the words of their 
composers. Ushas is a radiant maiden, born in the 
sky, daughter of Dyaus. She is the bright sister of 


dark Night. She shines with the light of her lover, 
with the light of Surya, who beams after her path and 
follows her as a young man a maiden. She is borne on 
a brilliant car, drawn by ruddy steeds or kine. Arraying 
herself in gay attire like a dancer, she displays her bosom. 
Clothed upon with light, the maiden appears in the east 
and unveils her charms. Rising resplendent as from 
a bath, she shows her form. Effulgent in peerless 
beauty, she withholds her light from neither small nor 
great. She opens wide the gates of heaven ; she opens 
the doors of darkness, as the cows (issue from) their 
stall. Her radiant beams appear like herds of cattle. 
She removes the black robe of night, warding off evil 
spirits and the hated darkness. She awakens creatures 
that have feet, and makes the birds fly up : she is 
the breath and life of everything. When Ushas shines 
forth, the birds fly up from their nests and men seek 
nourishment. She is the radiant mover of sweet, sounds, 
the leader of the charm of pleasant voices. Day by 
day appearing at the appointed place, she never in- 
fringes the rule of order and of the gods ; she goes 
straight along the path of order; knowing the way, 
she never loses her direction. , As she shone in former 
days, so she shines now and will shine in future, never 
aging, immortal. 

The solitude and stillness of the early morning some- 
times suggested pensive thoughts about the fleeting 
nature of human life in contrast with the unending 
recurrence of the dawn. Thus one poet exclaims : 

Gone are the mortals who informer ages 
Beheld the flushing of the earlier morning. 
We living men now look upo?i her shining; 
They are coming who shall in future see her (i. 113, 11). 


In a similar strain another Rishi sings : 

Again and again newly born though ancient, 

Decking her beauty with the self-same colours, 

The goddess wastes away the life of mortals, 

Like wealth diminished by the skilful player (i. 92, 10). 

The following stanzas from one of the finest hymns 
to Dawn (i. 113) furnish a more general picture of this 
fairest creation of Vedic poetry : 

This light has come, of all the lights the fairest, 
The brilliant brightness has been born, far-shining. 
Urged onward for god SavitrPs uprising, 
Night now has yielded up her place to Morning. 

The sisters'' pathway is the same, unending : 
Taught by the gods, alternately they tread it. 
Fair-shaped, of differe?it forms and yet one-minded^ 
Night and Morning clash not, nor do they linger. 

Bright leader of glad sounds, she shines effulgent : 
Widely she has unclosed for us her portals. 
Arousing all the world, she shows us riches : 
Daw7i has awakened every living creature. 

There Heaven's Daughter has appeared before us, 
The maiden flushing in her brilliant garments. 
Thou sovran lady of all earthly treasure, 
Auspicious Dawn, flush here to-day upon us. 

In the sky 's framework she has shone with splendour j 
The goddess has cast off the robe of darkness. 
Wakening up the world with ruddy horses, 
Upon her well-yoked chariot Daw?i is coming. 

Bringing upon it many bounteous blessings, 
Brightly shining, she spreads her brilliant lustre. 
Last of the countless mornings that have go?ie by, 
First of bright ?norns to come has Dawn arisen. 

Arise ! the breath, the life, again has reached us : 
Darkness has gone away and light is coming. 
She leaves a pathway for the sun to travel : 
We have arrived where men prolong existence. 


Among the deities of celestial light, those most fre- 
quently invoked are the twin gods of morning named 
Acvins. They are the sons of Heaven, eternally young 
and handsome. They ride on a car, on which they are 
accompanied by the sun-maiden Surya. This car is 
bright and sunlike, and all its parts are golden. The 
time when these gods appear is the early dawn, when 
" darkness still stands among the ruddy cows." At the 
yoking of their car Ushas is born. 

Many myths are told about the Acvins as succour- 
ing divinities. They deliver from distress in general, 
especially rescuing from the ocean in a ship or ships. 
They are characteristically divine physicians, who give 
sight to the blind and make the lame to walk. One 
very curious myth is that of the maiden Vi^pala, who 
having had her leg cut off in some conflict, was at 
once furnished by the Acvins with an iron limb. They 
agree in many respects with the two famous horsemen 
of Greek mythology, the Dioskouroi, sons of Zeus and 
brothers of Helen. The two most probable theories 
as to the origin of these twin deities are, that they 
represent either the twilight, half dark, half light, or the 
morning and evening star. 

In the realm of y air Indra is the dominant deity. He 
is, indeed, the favourite and national god of the Vedic 
Indian. His importance is sufficiently indicated by the 
fact that more than one-fourth of the Rigveda is devoted 
to his praise. Handed down from a bygone age, Indra 
has become more anthropomorphic and surrounded by 
mythological imagery than any other Vedic god. The 
significance of his character is nevertheless sufficiently 
clear. He is primarily the thunder-god, the conquest 
of the demon of drought or darkness named Vritra, the 


" Obstructor," and the consequent liberation of the waters 
or the winning of light, forming his mythological essence. 
This myth furnishes the Rishis with an ever-recurring 
theme. Armed with his thunderbolt, exhilarated by 
copious draughts of soma, and generally escorted by 
the Maruts or Storm-gods, Indra enters upon the fray. 
The conflict is terrible. Heaven and earth tremble 
with fear when Indra smites Vritra like a tree with his 
bolt. He is described as constantly repeating the combat. 
This obviously corresponds to the perpetual renewal 
of the natural phenomena underlying the myth. The 
physical elements in the thunderstorm are seldom directly 
mentioned by the poets when describing the exploits 
of Indra. He is rarely said to shed rain, but constantly 
to release the pent-up waters or rivers. The lightning 
is regularly the " bolt," while thunder is the lowing of 
the cows or the roaring of the dragon. The clouds are 
designated by various names, such as cow, udder, spring, 
cask, or pail. They are also rocks (adri), which en- 
compass the cows set free by Indra. They are further 
mountains from which Indra casts down the demons 
dwelling upon them. They thus often become fortresses 
(pur) of the demons, which are ninety, ninety-nine, or 
a hundred in number, and are variously described as 
" moving," " autumnal," " made of iron or stone." One 
stanza (x. 89, 7) thus brings together the various features 
of the myth : " Indra slew Vritra, broke the castles, made 
a channel for the rivers, pierced the mountain, and 
delivered over the cows to his friends." Owing to the 
importance of the Vritra myth, the chief and specific 
epithet of Indra is Vritrahan, "slayer of Vritra." The 
following stanzas are from one of the most graphic of the 


hymns which celebrate the conflict of Indra with the 
demon (i. 32) : 

I will proclaim the manly deeds of Indra, 
The first that he performed, the lightning-wielder. 
He sinote the dragon, then discharged the waters, 
And clef t the caverns of the lofty mountains. 

Impetuous as a bull, he chose the soma, 

And drank in threefold vessels of its juices. 

The Bowiteous god grasped lightning for his missile, 

He struck down dead that Jirst-bor?i of the dragons. 

Him lightning then availed naught, nor thunder, 
Nor mist nor hailstorm which he spread around hi?n ; 
When Indra and the dragon strove in battle, 
The Bounteous god gained victory for ever. 

Plunged in the miast of never-ceasing torrents, 
That stand not still but ever hasten 07tward, 
The waters bear off Vritrds hidden body : 
Indrds fierce foe sank down to lasting darkness. 


With the liberation of the waters is connected the 
winning of light and the sun. Thus we read that when 
Indra had slain the dragon Vritra with his bolt, releasing 
the waters for man, he placed the sun visibly in the 
heavens, or that the sun shone forth when Indra blew 
the dragon from the air. 

Indra naturally became the god of battle, and is more 
frequently invoked than any other deity as a helper in 
conflicts with earthly enemies. In the words of one poet, 
he protects the Aryan colour (yarnd) and subjects the 
black skin ; while another extols him for having dis- 
persed 50,000 of the black race and rent their citadels. 
His combats are frequently called gavishti, "desire of 
cows," his gifts being considered the result of victories. 

The following stanzas (ii. 12, 2 and 13) will serve as a 


specimen of the way in which the greatness of Indra 
is celebrated : 

Who made the widespread earth when quaking steadfast^ 
Who brought to rest the agitated mountains, 
Who measured out air's intermediate spaces, 
Who gave the sky support : he, men, is Indra. 

Heaven and earth themselves bow down before him, 
Before his might the very mountains tremble. 
Who, known as Soma-drinker, aj-med with lightning, 
Is wielder of the bolt : he, men, is Indra. 

To the more advanced anthropomorphism of Indra's 
nature are due the occasional immoral traits which ap- 
pear in his character. Thus he sometimes indulges in 
acts of capricious violence, such as the slaughter of 
his father or the destruction of the car of Dawn. He is 
especially addicted to soma, of which he is described as 
drinking enormous quantities to stimulate him in the 
performance of his warlike exploits. One entire hymn 
(x. 119) consists of a monologue in which Indra, in- 
ebriated with soma, boasts of his greatness and power. 
Though of little poetic merit, this piece has a special 
interest as being by far the earliest literary description 
of the mental effects, braggadocio in particular, pro- 
duced by intoxication. In estimating the morality of 
Indra's excesses, it should not be forgotten that the ex- 
hilaration of soma partook of a religious character in 
the eyes of the Vedic poets. 

Indra's name is found in the Avesta as that of a 
demon. His distinctive Vedic epithet, Vritrahan, also 
occurs there in the form of verethraghna, as a designa- 
tion of the god of victory. Hence there was probably 
in the Indo-Iranian period a god approaching to the 
Vedic form of the Vritra-slaying and victorious Indra. 


In comparing historically Varuna and Indra, whose 
importance was about equal in the earlier period of the 
Rigveda y it seems clear that Varuna was greater in the 
Indo-Iranian period, but became inferior to Indra in 
later Vedic times. Indra, on the other hand, became in 
the Brahmanas and Epics the chief of the Indian heaven, 
and even maintained this position under the Puranic 
triad, Brahma-Vishnu-iva, though of course subordi- 
nate to them. 

At least three of the lesser deities of the air are con- 
nected with lightning. One of these is the somewhat 
obscure god Trita, who is only mentioned in detached 
verses of the Rigveda, The name appears to designate 
the " third " (Greek, trito-s) } as the lightning form of fire. 
His frequent epithet, Aptya y seems to mean the " watery." 
This god goes back to the Indo-Iranian period, as both 
his name and his epithet are found in the Avesta. But 
he was gradually ousted by Indra as being originally 
almost identical in character with the latter. Another 
deity of rare occurrence in the Rigveda, and also dating 
from the Indo-Iranian period, is Apam napat, the " Son 
of Waters." He is described as clothed in lightning and 
shining without fuel in the waters. There can, therefore, 
be little doubt that he represents fire as produced from 
the rain-clouds in the form of lightning. Mataricvan, 
seldom mentioned in the Rigveda, is a divine being de- 
scribed as having, like the Greek Prometheus, brought 
down the hidden fire from heaven to earth. He most 
probably represents the personification of a celestial 
form of Agni, god of fire, with whom he is in some 
passages actually identified. In the later Vedas, the 
Brahmanas, and the subsequent literature, the name 
has become simply a designation of wind. 


The position occupied by the god Rudra in the 
Rigveda is very different from that of his historical suc- 
cessor in a later age. He is celebrated ill only three 
or four hymns, while his name is mentioned slightly less 
often than that of Vishnu. He is usually said to be 
armed with bow and arrows, but a lightning shaft and 
a thunderbolt are also occasionally assigned to him. He 
is described as fierce and destructive like a wild beast, 
and is called "the ruddy boar of heaven." The hymns 
addressed to him chiefly express fear of his terrible 
shafts and deprecation of his wrath. His malevolence 
is still more prominent in the later Vedic literature. The 
euphemistic epithet zva, "auspicious," already applied 
to him in the Rigveda, and more frequently, though not 
exclusively, in the younger Vedas, became his regular 
name in the post- Vedic period. Rudra is, of course, not 
purely malevolent like a demon. He is besought not 
only to preserve from calamity but to bestow blessings 
and produce welfare for man and beast. His healing 
powers are mentioned with especial frequency, and he 
is lauded as the greatest of physicians. 

Prominent among the gods of the Rigveda are the 
Maruts or Storm-gods, who form a group of thrice 
seven or thrice sixty. They are the sons of Rudra 
and the mottled cloud-cow Pricni. At birth they are 
compared with fires, and are once addressed as "born 
from the laughter of lightning." They are a troop of 
youthful warriors armed with spears or battle-axes and 
wearing helmets upon their heads. They are decked 
with golden ornaments, chiefly in the form of armlets 
or of anklets : 

They gleam with armlets as the heavens are decked with stars; 
Like cloud- born lightnings shine the torrents of their rain (ii. 34, 2). 


They ride on golden cars which gleam with lightning, 
while they hold fiery lightnings in their hands : 

The lightnings smile upon the earth below them 
What time the Maruts sprinkle forth their fatness. 

(i. 1 68, 8). 

They drive with coursers which are often described as 
spotted, and they are once said to have yoked the 
winds as steeds to their pole. 

The Maruts are fierce and terrible, like lions or 
wild boars. With the fellies of their car they rend 
the hills : 

The Maruts spread the mist abroad, 

And make the mountains rock and reel, 

When with the winds they go their way (viii. 7, 4). 

They shatter the lords of the forest and like wild 
elephants devour the woods : 

Before you, fierce ones, even woods bow down in fear, 
The earth herself, the very ?nountain trembles (v. 60, 2). 

One of their main functions is to shed rain. They 
are clad in a robe of rain, and cover the eye of the 
sun with showers. They bedew the earth with milk ; 
they shed fatness (ghee) ; they milk the thundering, 
the never-failing spring; they wet the earth with mead; 
they pour out the heavenly pail : 

The rivers echo to their chariot fellies 

What time they utter forth the voice of rain-clouds. 

(i. 168, 8). 

In allusion to the sound of the winds the Maruts 
are often called singers, and as such aid Indra in his 
fight with the demon. They are, indeed, his constant 
associates in all his celestial conflicts. 

The God of Wind, called Vayu or Vata, is not a 


prominent deity in the Rigveda, having only three entire 
hymns addressed to him. The personification is more 
developed under the name of. Vayu, who is mostly 
associated with India, while Vata is coupled only with 
the^ li^, anthropomorphic rain-god, Parjanya. Vayu is 
swift as thought and^tfias roaring velocity. He has 
a shining car drawn by a team or a. .pair of ruddy 
steeds. On this car, which has a golden seat and 
touches the sky, Indra is his companion. Vata, as also 
the ordinary designation of wind, is celebrated in a 
more concrete manner. His name is often connected 
with the verb vd f "to blow," from which it is derived. 
Like Rudra, he wafts healing and prolongs life ; for he 
has the treasure of immortality in his house. The poet 
of a short hynm (x. 168) devoted to his praise thus 
describes him : 

Of Vdta's car I now will praise the greatness : 
Crashing it speeds alo?igj its noise is thunder. 
Touching the sky, it goes on causing lightnings j 
Scattering the dust of ea7'th it hurries forward. 

In air upon his pathways hastening onward, 

Never on any day he tarries resting. 

The first-born order-loving friend of waters, 

Where, pray, was he bor?i ? say, whence came he hither? 

The soul of gods, and of the world the offspring, 
This god according to his liki?ig wanders. 
His sound is heard, but ne^er is see?i his figure. 
This Vata let us now with offerings worship. 

Another deity of air is Parjanya, god of rain, who 
is invoked in but three hymns, and is only mentioned 
some thirty times in the Rigveda. The name in several 
passages still means simply "rain-cloud." The per- 
sonification is therefore always closely connected with 


the phenomenon of the rain-storm, in which the rain- 
cloud itself becomes an udder, a pail, or a water-skin. 
Often likened to a bull, Parjanya is characteristically a 
shedder of rain. His activity is described in very vivid 
strains (v. 83) : 

The trees he strikes to earth atid smites the demon crew : 
The whole world fears the wielder of the mighty bolt 
The guiltless man himself flees fro?n the potent god, 
What time Parjanya thundering smites the iniscreant. 

Like a car- driver urging on his steeds with whips, 
He causes to bound forth the messengers of rain. 
From far away the liorfs roar reverberates, 
What time Parjanya fills the atmosphere with rain. 

Forth blow the winds, to earth the lightning flashes fall, 
Up shoot the herbs, the realm of light with moisture streams j 
Nourishment in abundance springs for all the world, 
What time Parjanya quickeneth the earth with seed. 

Thunder and roar : the vital germ deposit / 
With water-bearing chariot fly around us / 
Thy water-skin unloosed to earth draw downward : 
With moisture make the heights and hollows equal ! 

The Waters are praised as goddesses in four hymns of 
the Rigveda. The personification, however, hardly goes 
beyond representing them as mothers, young wives, and 
goddesses who bestow boons and come to the sacrifice. 
As mothers they produce Agni, whose lightning form is, as 
we have seen, called Apam Napat, " Son of Waters." The 
divine waters bear away defilement, and are even invoked 
to cleanse from moral guilt, the sins of violence, cursing, 
and lying. They bestow remedies, healing, long life, and 
immortality. Soma delights in the waters as a young 
man in lovely maidens ; he approaches them as a lover ; 
they are maidens who bow down before the youth. 

Several rivers are personified and invoked as deities 


in the Rigveda. One hymn (x. 75) celebrates the Sindhu 
or Indus, while another (iii. 33) sings the praises of the 
sister streams Vipac and Cutudri. SarasvatI is, however, 
the most important river goddess, being lauded in three 
entire hymns as well as in many detached verses. The 
personification here goes much further than in the case 
of other streams ; but the poets never lose sight of the 
connection of the goddess with the river. She is the 
best of mothers, of rivers, and of goddesses. Her unfail- 
ing breast yields riches of every kind, and she bestows 
wealth, plenty, nourishment, and offspring. One poet 
prays that he may not be removed from her to fields 
which are strange. She is invoked to descend from the 
sky, from the great mountain, to the sacrifice. Such 
expressions may have suggested the notion of the 
celestial origin and descent of the Ganges, familiar to 
post-Vedic mythology. Though simply a river deity in 
the Rigveda, SarasvatI is in the Brahmanas identified 
with Vach, goddess of speech, and has in post-Vedic 
mythology become the goddess of eloquence and wisdom, 
invoked as a muse, and regarded as the wife of Brahma. 
Earth, Prithivl, the Broad One, hardly ever dissoci- 
ated from Dyaus, is celebrated alone in only one short 
hymn of three stanzas (v. 84). Even here the poet can- 
not refrain from introducing references to her heavenly 
spouse as he addresses the goddess, 

Who, firmly fixt, the forest trees 
With might supportest in the ground: 
When from the lightning of thy cloud 
The rain-floods of the sky pour down. 

The personification is only rudimentary, the attributes 
of the goddess being chiefly those of the physical earth. 
The most important of the terrestrial deities is Agni, 


god of fire. Next to Indra he is the most prominent 
of the Vedic gods, being celebrated in more than 200 
hymns. It is only natural that the personification of 
the sacrificial fire, the centre around which the ritual 
poetry of the Veda moves, should engross so much of 
the attention of the Rishis. Agni being also the regular 
name of the element (Latin, ignis), the anthropomorphism 
of the deity is but slight. The bodily parts of the god 
have a clear connection with the phenomena of terres- 
trial fire mainly in its sacrificial aspect. In allusion to 
the oblation of ghee cast in the fire, Agni is "butter- 
backed," u butter-faced," or " butter-haired." He is 
also "flame-haired," and has a tawny beard. He has 
sharp, shining, golden, or iron teeth and burning jaws. 
Mention is also often made of his tongue or tongues. 
He is frequently compared with or directly called a 
steed, being yoked to the pole of the rite in order to waft 
the sacrifice to the gods. He is also often likened to a 
bird, being winged and darting with rapid flight to the 
gods. He eats and chews the forest with sharp tooth. 
His lustre is like the rays of dawn or of the sun, and 
resembles the lightnings of the rain-cloud ; but his track 
and his fellies are black, and his steeds make black 
furrows. Driven by the wind, he rushes through the 
wood. He invades the forests and shears the hairs of 
the earth, shaving it as a barber a beard. His flames are 
like the roaring waves of the sea. He bellows like a bull 
when he invades the forest trees ; the birds are terri- 
fied at the noise when his grass-devouring sparks arise. 
Like the erector of a pillar, he supports the sky with his 
smoke ; and one of his distinctive epithets is " smoke- 
bannered." He is borne on a brilliant car, drawn by 
two or more steeds, which are ruddy or tawny and wind- 


impelled. He yokes them to summon the gods, for he 
is the charioted" of the sacrifice. 

The poets love to dwell on his various births, forms, 
and abodes. They often refer to the daily generation of 
Agni by friction from the two fire-sticks. These are his 
parents, producing him as a new-born infant who is hard 
to catch. From the dry wood the god is born living ; 
the child as soon as born devours his parents. The ten 
maidens said to produce him are the ten fingers used in 
twirling the upright fire-drill. Agni is called "Son of 
strength " because of the powerful friction necessary in 
kindling a flame. As the fire is lit every morning for the 
sacrifice, Agni is described as "waking at dawn." Hence, 
too, he is the " youngest " of the gods ; but he is also 
old, for he conducted the first sacrifice. Thus he comes 
to be paradoxically called both "ancient" and "very 
young " in the same passage. 

Agni also springs from the aerial waters, and is often 
said to have been brought from heaven. Born on earth, 
in air, in heaven, Agni is frequently regarded as having 
a triple character. The gods made him threefold, his 
births are three, and he has three abodes or dwellings. 
" From heaven first Agni was born, the second time from 
us {i.e. men), thirdly in the waters." This earliest Indian 
trinity is important as the basis of much of the mysti- 
cal speculation of the Vedic age. It was probably the 
prototype not only of the later Rigvedic triad, Sun, Wind, 
Fire, spoken of as distributed in the three worlds, but 
also of the triad Sun, Indra, Fire, which, though not 
Rigvedic, is still ancient. It is most likely also the 
historical progenitor of the later Hindu trinity of 
Brahma, Vishnu, Civa. This triad of fires may have 
suggested and would explain the division of a single 


sacrificial fire into the three which form an essential 
feature of the cult of the Brahmanas. * 

Owing to the multiplicity of terrestrial fires, Agni is 
also said to have many births ; for he abides in every 
family, house, or dwelling. Kindled in many spots, he 
is but one ; scattered in many places, he is one and the 
same king. Other fires are attached to him as branches 
to a tree. He assumes various divine forms, and has 
many names ; but in him are comprehended all the 
gods, whom he surrounds as a felly the spokes. Thus 
we find the speculations about Agni's various forms 
leading to the monotheistic notion of a unity pervading 
the many manifestations of the divine. 

Agni is an immortal who has taken up his abode 
among mortals; he is constantly called a "guest" in 
human dwellings ; and is the only god to whom the fre- 
quent epithet grihapati, "lord of the house," is applied. 

As the conductor of sacrifice, Agni is repeatedly 
called both a u messenger " who moves between heaven 
and earth and a priest. He is indeed the great priest, 
just as Indra is the great warrior. 

Agni is, moreover, a mighty benefactor of his wor- 
shippers. With a thousand eyes he watches over the 
man who offers him oblations ; but consumes his wor- 
shippers' enemies like dry bushes, and strikes down the 
malevolent like a tree destroyed by lightning. All bless- 
ings issue from him as branches from a tree. All 
treasures are collected in him, and he opens the door 
of wealth. He gives rain from heaven and is like a 
spring in the desert. The boons which he confers are, 
however, chiefly domestic welfare, offspring, and general 
prosperity, while Indra for the most part grants victory, 
booty, power, and glory. 

SOMA 97 

Probably the oldest function of fire in regard to its 
cult is that of burning and dispelling evil spirits and 
hostile magic. It still survives in the Rigveda from 
an earlier age, Agni being said to drive away the 
goblins with his light and receiving the epithet raksho- 
han } " goblin-slayer." This activity is at any rate more 
characteristic of Agni than of any other deity, both in 
the hymns and in the ritual of the Vedas. 

Since the soma sacrifice, beside the cult of fire, 
forms a main feature in the ritual of the Rigveda y the 
god Soma is naturally one of its chief deities. The 
whole of the. ninth book, in addition to a few scattered 
hymns elsewhere, is devoted to his praise. Thus, 
judged by the standard of frequency of mention, Soma 
comes third in order of importance among the Vedic 
gods. The constant presence of the soma plant and 
its juice before their eyes set limits to the imagination 
of the poets who describe its personification. Hence 
little is said of Soma's human form or action. The 
ninth book mainly consists of incantations sung over 
the soma while it is pressed by the stones and flows 
through the woollen strainer into the wooden vats, 
in which it is finally offered as a beverage to the gods 
on a litter of grass. The poets are chiefly concerned 
with these processes, overlaying them with chaotic 
imagery and mystical fancies of almost infinite variety. 
When Soma is described as being purified by the 
ten maidens who are sisters, or by the daughters of 
Vivasvat (the rising sun), the ten fingers are meant. 
The stones used in pounding the shoots on a skin 
" chew him on the hide of a cow." The flowing of the 
juice into jars or vats after passing through the filter 
of sheep's wool is described in various ways. The 


streams of soma rush to the forest of the vats like 
buffaloes. The god flies like a bird to settle in the vats. 
The Tawny One settles in the bowls like a bird sitting 
on a tree. The juice being mixed with water in the 
vat, Soma is said to rush into the lap of the waters like 
a roaring bull on the herd. Clothing himself in waters, 
he rushes around the vat, impelled by the singers. 
Playing in the wood, he is cleansed by the ten maidens. 
He is the embryo or child of waters, which are called 
his mothers. When the priests add milk to soma " they 
clothe him in cow-garments." 

The sound made by the soma juice flowing into 
the vats or bowls is often referred to in hyperbolical 
language. Thus a poet says that "the sweet drop flows 
over the filter like the din of combatants." This sound 
is constantly described as roaring, bellowing, or occa- 
sionally even thundering. In such passages Soma is 
commonly compared with or called a bull, and the 
waters, with or without milk, are termed cows. 

Owing to the yellow colour of the juice, the physical 
quality of Soma mainly dwelt upon by the poets is his 
brilliance. His rays are often referred to, and he is 
frequently assimilated to the sun. 

The exhilarating and invigorating action of soma 
led to its being regarded as a divine drink that bestows 
everlasting life. Hence it is called amrita, the "immor- 
tal" draught (allied to the Greek ambrosia). Soma is 
the stimulant which conferred immortality upon the 
gods. Soma also places his worshipper in the imperish- 
able world where there is eternal light and glory, 
making him immortal where King Yama dwells. Thus 
soma naturally has medicinal power also. It is medi- 
cine for a sick man, and the god Soma heals what- 

SOMA 99 

ever is sick, making the blind to see and the lame to 

Soma when imbibed stimulates the voice, which it 
impels as the rower his boat. Soma also awakens eager 
thought, and the worshippers of the god exclaim, " We 
have drunk soma, we have become immortal, we have 
entered into light, we have known the gods." The in- 
toxicating power of soma is chiefly, and very frequently, 
dwelt on in connection with Indra, whom it stimulates 
in his conflict with the hostile demons of the air. 

Being the most important of herbs, soma is spoken 
of as lord of plants or their king, receiving also the 
epithet vanaspati, " lord of the forest." 

Soma is several times described as dwelling or grow- 
ing on the mountains, in accordance with the statements 
of the Avesta about Haoma. Its true origin and abode 
is regarded as heaven, whence it has been brought down 
to earth. This belief is most frequently embodied in the 
myth of the soma-bringing eagle {gyena), which is pro- 
bably only the mythological account of the simple 
phenomenon of the descent of lightning and the simul- 
taneous fall of rain. 

In some of the latest hymns of the Rigveda Soma 
begins to be somewhat obscurely identified with the 
moon. In the Atharva-veda Soma several times means 
the moon, and in the Yajurveda Soma is spoken of as 
having the lunar mansions for his wives. The identifica- 
tion is a commonplace in the Brahmanas, which explain 
the waning of the moon as due to the gods and fathers 
eating up the ambrosia of which it consists. In one of 
the Upanishads, moreover, the statement occurs that the 
moon is King Soma, the food of the gods, and is drunk 
up by them. Finally, in post-Vedic literature Soma is 


a regular name of the moon, which is regarded as being 
consumed by the gods, and consequently waning till it 
is filled up again by the sun. This somewhat remark- 
able coalescence of Soma with the moon doubtless 
sprang from the hyperbolical terms in which the poets 
of the Rigveda dwell on Soma's celestial nature and 
brilliance, which they describe as dispelling darkness. 
They sometimes speak of it as swelling in the waters, 
and often refer to the sap as a "drop" (indu). Com- 
parisons with the moon would thus easily suggest them- 
selves. In one passage of the Rigveda, for instance, 
Soma in the bowls is said to appear like the moon in the 
waters. The mystical speculations with which the Soma 
poetry teems would soon complete the symbolism. 

A comparison of the Avesta with the Rigveda shows 
clearly that soma was already an important feature ixi 
the mythology and cult of the Indo-Iranian age. In 
both it is described as growing on the mountains, 
whence it is brought by birds ; in both it is king of 
plants ; in both a medicine bestowing long life and re- 
moving death. In both the sap was pressed and mixed 
with milk ; in both its mythical home is heaven, whence 
it comes down to earth ; in both the draught has be- 
come a mighty god ; in both the celestial Soma is dis- 
tinguished from the terrestrial, the god from the beverage. 
The similarity goes so far that Soma and Haoma have 
even some individual epithets in common. 

The evolution of thought in the Rigvedic period 
shows a tendency to advance from the concrete to the 
abstract. One result of this tendency is the creation of 
abstract deities, which, however, are still rare, occurring 
for the most part in the last book only. A few of them 
are deifications of abstract nouns, such as raddha 


"Faith," invoked in one short hymn, and Manyu, "Wrath," 
in two. These abstractions grow more numerous in the 
later Vedas. Thus Kama, " Desire," first appears in the 
Atharva-veda, where the arrows with which he pierces 
hearts are already referred to ; he is the forerunner of 
the flower-arrowed god of love, familiar in classical 
literature. More numerous is the class of abstractions 
comprising deities whose names denote an agent, such as 
Dhatriy "Creator," or an attribute, such as Prajapati, 
" Lord of Creatures." These do not appear to be direct 
abstractions, but seem to be derived from epithets de- 
signating a particular aspect of activity or character, 
which at first applying to one or more of the older 
deities, finally acquired an independent value. Thus 
Prajdpati, originally an epithet of such gods as Savitri 
and Soma, occurs in a late verse of the last book as a 
distinct deity possessing the attribute of a creator. This 
god is in the Atharva-veda and the Vdjasaneyi-Samhitd 
often, and in the Brahmanas regularly, recognised as the 
chief deity, the father of the gods. In the Sutras, Praja- 
pati is identified with Brahma, his successor in the post- 
Vedic age. 

A hymn of the tenth book furnishes an interesting 
illustration of the curious way in which such abstrac- 
tions sometimes come into being. Here is one of the 
stanzas : 

By whom the mighty sky, the earth so steadfast. 

The realm of light, heaveris vault, has been established, 

Who in the air the boundless space traverses : 

What god should we with sacrifices worship ? 

The fourth line here is the refrain of nine successive 
stanzas, in which the creator is referred to as unknown, 
with the interrogative pronoun ka, " what ? " This ka in 


the later Vedic literature came to be employed not only 
as an epithet of the creator Prajapati, but even as an 
independent name of the supreme god. 

A deity of an abstract character occurring in the 
oldest as well as the latest parts of the Rigveda is 
Brihaspati, " Lord of Prayer." Roth and other dis- 
tinguished Vedic scholars regard him as a direct per- 
sonification of devotion. In the opinion of the present 
writer, however, he is only an indirect deification of the 
sacrificial activity of Agni, a god with whom he has 
undoubtedly much in common. Thus the most pro- 
minent feature of his character is his priesthood. Like 
Agni, he has been drawn into and has obtained a firm 
footing in the Indra myth. Thus he is often described 
as driving out the cows after vanquishing the demon 
Vala. As the divine brahmd priest, Brihaspati seems 
to have been the prototype of the god Brahma, chief 
of the later Hindu trinity. But the name Brihaspati 
itself survived in post-Vedic mythology as the desig- 
nation of a sage, the teacher of the gods, and regent 
of the planet Jupiter. 

Another abstraction, and one of a very peculiar 
kind, is the goddess Aditi. Though not the subject of 
any separate hymn, she is often incidentally celebrated. 
She has two, and only two, prominent characteristics. 
She is, in the first place, the mother of the small group 
of gods called Adityas, of whom Varuna is the chief. 
Secondly, she has, like her son Varuna, the power of 
releasing from the bonds of physical suffering and 
moral guilt. With the latter trait her name, which 
means "unbinding," " freedom," is clearly connected. 
The unpersonified sense seems to survive in a few 
passages of the Rigveda. Thus a poet prays for the 


"secure and unlimited gift of aditi." The origin of 
the abstraction is probably to be explained as follows. 
The expression "sons of Aditi," which is several times 
applied to the Adityas, when first used in all likelihood 
meant " sons of liberation," to emphasise a salient trait 
of their character, according to a turn of language 
common in the Rigveda. The feminine word "libera- 
tion " {aditi) used in this connection would then have 
become personified by a process which has more than 
one parallel in Sanskrit. Thus Aditi, a goddess of 
Indian origin, is historically younger than some at least 
of her sons, who can be traced back to a pre-Indian 

Goddesses, as a whole, occupy a very subordinate 
position in Vedic belief. They play hardly any part 
as rulers of the world. The only one of any conse- 
quence is Ushas. The next in importance, SarasvatI, 
ranks only with the least prominent of the male gods. 
One of the few, besides Prithivl, to whom an entire 
hymn is addressed, is Ratrl, Night. Like her sister 
Dawn, with whom she is often coupled, she is ad- 
dressed as a daughter of the sky. She is conceived 
not as the dark, but as the bright starlit night. Thus, 
in contrasting the twin goddesses, a poet says, "One 
decks herself with stars, with sunlight the other." The 
following stanzas are from the hymn addressed to Night 
(x. 127) : 

Night coming on, the goddess shines 
In many places with her eyes : 
All-glorious she has decked herself. 

Immortal goddess, far and wide 
She fills the valleys and the heights ; 
Darkness with light she overcomes. 


And now the goddess coming on 
Has driven away her sister Dawn ; 
Far off the darkness hastes away. 

Thus, goddess, come to us to-day, 

At whose approach we seek our homes, 

As birds tip on the tree their nest. 

The villagers have gone to rest, 

Beasts, too, with feet and birds with wings; 

The hungry hawk himself is still. 

Ward off the she-wolf and the wolf 
Ward off the robber, goddess Night : 
And take us safe across the gloom. 

Goddesses, as wives of the great gods, play a still 
more insignificant part, being entirely devoid of inde- 
pendent character. Indeed, hardly anything about 
them is mentioned but their names, which are simply 
formed from those of their male consorts by means of 
feminine suffixes. 

A peculiar feature of Vedic mythology is the invo- 
cation in couples of a number of deities whose names 
are combined in the form of dual compounds. About 
a dozen such pairs are celebrated in entire hymns, 
and some half-dozen others in detached stanzas. By far 
the greatest number of such hymns is addressed to 
Mitra-Varuna, but the names most often found combined 
in this way are those of Heaven and Earth {Dydvd- 
prithivt). There can be little doubt that the latter 
couple furnished the analogy for this favourite forma- 
tion. For the association of this pair, traceable as far 
back as the Indo-European period, appeared to early 
thought so intimate in nature, that the myth of their 
conjugal union is found widely diffused among primitive 


Besides these pairs of deities there is a certain 
number of more or less definite groups of divine 
beings generally associated with some particular 
god. The largest and most important of these are the 
Maruts or Storm-gods, who, as we have seen, con- 
stantly attend Indra on his warlike exploits. The same 
group, under the name of Rudras, is occasionally associ- 
ated with their father Rudra. The smaller group of 
the Adityas is constantly mentioned in company with 
their mother Aditi, or their chief Varuna. Their num- 
ber in two passages of the Rigveda is stated as seven 
or eight, while in the Brahmanas and later it is regularly 
twelve. Some eight or ten hymns of the Rigveda are 
addressed to them collectively. The following lines 
are taken from one (viii. 47) in which their aid and 
protection is specially invoked : 

As birds extend their sheltering wings, 
Spread your protectioii over us. 

As charioteers avoid ill roads, 
May dangers always pass us by. 

Resting in you, O gods, we are 
Like men thatjight in coats of mail. 

Look down on us, O Adityas, 
Like spies observing from the bank : 

Lead us to paths of pleasantness, 
Like horses to an easy ford. 

A third and much less important group is that of the 
Vasus, mostly associated with Indra in the Rigveda, 
though in later Vedic texts Agni becomes their leader. 
They are a vague group, for they are not character- 
ised, having neither individual names nor any definite 
number. The Brahmanas, however, mention eight of 


them. Finally, there are the Vicvedevas or All-gods, to 
whom some sixty hymns are addressed. It is a factitious 
sacrificial group meant to embrace the whole pantheon 
in order that none should be excluded in invocations 
intended to be addressed to all. Strange to say, the 
All-gods are sometimes conceived as a narrower group, 
which is invoked with others like the Vasus and Adityas. 
Besides the' higher gods the Rigveda knows a number 
of mythical beings not regarded as possessing the divine 
nature to the full extent and from the beginning. The 
most important of these are the Ribhus who form a 
triad, and are addressed in eleven hymns. Character- 
istically deft-handed, they are often said to have acquired 
the rank of deities by their marvellous skill. Among the 
five great feats of dexterity whereby they became gods, 
the greatest in which they appear as successful rivals of 
Tvashtri, the artificer god consists in their having trans- 
formed his bowl, the drinking vessel of the gods, into 
four shining cups. This bowl perhaps represents the 
moon, the four cups being its phases. It has also been 
interpreted as the year with its division into seasons. 
The Ribhus are further said to have renewed the youth of 
their parents, by whom Heaven and Earth seem to have 
been meant. With this miraculous deed another myth 
told about them appears to be specially connected. 
They rested for twelve days in the house of the sun, 
Agohya ("who cannot be concealed"). This sojourn of 
the Ribhus in the house of the sun in all probability 
alludes to the winter solstice, the twelve days being the 
addition which was necessary to bring the lunar year of 
354 into harmony with the solar year of nearly 366 
days, and was intercalated before the days begin to grow 
perceptibly longer. On the whole, it seems likely that 


the Ribhus were originally terrestrial or aerial elves, 
whose dexterity gradually attracted to them various 
myths illustrative of marvellous skill. 

In a few passages of the Rigveda mention is made of 
a celestial water-nymph called Apsaras (" moving in the 
waters "), who is regarded as the spouse of a correspon- 
ding male genius called Gandharva. The Apsaras, in the 
words of the poet, smiles at her beloved in the highest 
heaven. More Apsarases than one are occasionally 
spoken of. Their abode is in the later Vedas extended 
to the earth, where they especially frequent trees, which 
resound with the music of their lutes and cymbals. The 
Brahmanas describe them as distinguished by great 
beauty and devoted to dance, song, and play. In the 
post-Vedic period they become the courtesans of Indra's 
heaven. The Apsarases are loved not only by the 
Gandharvas but occasionally even by men. Such an one 
was UrvacJ. A dialogue between her and her earthly 
spouse, Pururavas, is contained in a somewhat obscure 
hymn of the Rigveda (x. 95). The nymph is here made 
to say : 

Among mortals in other form I wandered, 

And dwelt for many nights throughout four autumns. 

Her lover implores her to return ; but, though his re- 
quest is refused, he (like Tithonus) receives the promise of 
immortality. The ^atapatha Brdhmana tells the story in 
a more connected and detailed form. UrvagI is joined 
with Pururavas in an alliance, the permanence of which 
depends on a condition. When this is broken by a 
stratagem of the Gandharvas, the nymph immediately 
vanishes from the sight of her lover. Pururavas, dis- 
tracted, roams in search of her, till at last he observes 


her swimming in a lotus lake with other Apsarases in the 
form of an aquatic bird. UrvacI discovers herself to 
him, and in response to his entreaties, consents to return 
for once after the lapse of a year. This myth in the 
post-Vedic age furnished the theme of Kalidasa's play 

Gandharva appears to have been conceived originally 
as a single being. For in the Rigveda the name nearly 
^ always occurs in the singular, and in the Avesta, where 
it is found a few times in the form of Gandarewa, only 
in the singular. According to the Rigveda, this genius, 
the lover of the water-nymph, dwells in the fathom- 
less spaces of air, and stands erect on the vault of 
heaven. He is also a guardian of the celestial soma, 
and is sometimes, as in the Avesta, connected with the 
waters. In the later Vedas the Gandharvas form a class, 
their association with the Apsarases being so frequent as 
to amount to a stereotyped phrase. In the post-Vedic 
age they have become celestial singers, and the notion of 
their home being in the realm of air survives in the 
expression "City of the Gandharvas" as one of the 
Sanskrit names for "mirage." 

Among the numerous ancient priests and heroes of 
the Rigveda the most important is Manu, the first sacri- 
ficer and the ancestor of the human race. The poets 
refer to him as " our father," and speak of sacrificers as 
" the people of Manu." The ^atapatha Brahinana makes 
Manu play the part of a Noah in the history of human 

A group of ancient priests are the Angirases, who are 
closely associated with Indra in the myth of the capture 
of the cows. Another ancient race of mythical priests are 
the Bhrigus, to whom the Indian Prometheus, Mataricvan, 


brought the hidden Agni from heaven, and whose func- 
tion was the establishment and diffusion of the sacrificial 
fire on earth. 

A numerically definite group of ancestral priests, 
rarely mentioned in the Rigveda, are the seven Rishis or 
seers. In the Brahmanas they came to be regarded as 
the seven stars in the constellation of the Great Bear, 
and are said to have been bears in the beginning. This 
curious identification was doubtless brought about partly 
by the sameness of the number in the two cases, and 
partly by the similarity of sound between rishi, u seer," 
and riksha, which in the Rigveda means both "star" 
and " bear." 

Animals play a considerable part in the mythological 
and religious conceptions of the Veda. Among them 
the horse is conspicuous as drawing the cars of the gods, 
and in particular as representing the sun under various 
names. In the Vedic ritual the horse was regarded as 
symbolical of the sun and of fire. Two hymns of the 
Rigveda (i. 162-163) which deal with the subject, further 
show that horse-sacrifice was practised in the earliest age 
of Indian antiquity. 

The cow, however, is the animal which figures most 
largely in the Rigveda. This is undoubtedly due to the 
important position, resulting from its pre-eminent utility, 
occupied by this animal even in the remotest period of 
Indian life. The beams of dawn and the clouds are 
cows. The rain-cloud, personified under the name of 
Pricni, " the speckled one," is a cow, the mother of the 
Storm-gods. The bountiful clouds on which all wealth 
in India depended, were doubtless the prototypes of the 
many-coloured cows which yield all desires in the heaven 
of the blest described by the Atharva-veda, and which are 


the forerunners of the " Cow of Plenty " (Kdmaduh) so 
familiar to post-Vedic poetry. The earth itself is often 
spoken of by the poets of the Rigveda as a cow. That 
this animal already possessed a sacred character is shown 
by the fact that one Rishi addresses a cow as Aditi and 
a goddess, impressing upon his hearers that she should 
not be slain. Aghnya ("not to be killed"), a frequent 
designation of the cow in the Rigveda, points in the 
same direction. ' Indeed the evidence of the Avesta 
proves that the sanctity of this animal goes back even 
to the Indo-Iranian period. In the Atharva-veda the 
worship of the cow is fully recognised, while the ata- 
patha Brdhmana emphasises the evil consequences of 
eating beef. The sanctity of the cow has not only sur- 
vived in India down to the present day, but has even 
gathered strength with the lapse of time. The part 
played by the greased cartridges in the Indian Mutiny 
is sufficient to prove this statement. To no other animal 
has mankind owed so much, and the debt has been richly 
repaid in India with a veneration unknown in other 
lands. So important a factor has the cow proved in 
Indian life and thought, that an exhaustive account of 
her influence from the earliest times would form a note- 
worthy chapter in the history of civilisation. 

Among the noxious animals of the Rigveda the ser- 
pent is the most prominent. This is the form which 
the powerful demon, the foe of Indra, is believed to 
possess. The serpent also appears as a divine being 
in the form of the rarely mentioned Ahi budhnya, "the 
Dragon of the Deep," supposed to dwell in the fathom- 
less depths of the aerial ocean, and probably represent- 
ing the beneficent side of the character of the serpent 
Vritra. In the later Vedas the serpents are mentioned 


as a class of semi-divine beings along witli the Gan- 
dharvas and others ; and in the Sutras offerings to them 
are prescribed. In the latter works we meet for the first 
time with the Nagas, in reality serpents, and human only 
in form. In post-Vedic times serpent-worship is found 
all over India. Since there is no trace of it in the Rigveda, 
while it prevails widely among the non-Aryan Indians, 
there is reason to believe that when the Aryans spread 
over India, the land of serpents, they found the cult dif- 
fused among the aborigines and borrowed it from them. 
Plants are frequently invoked as divinities, chiefly 
in enumerations along with waters, rivers, mountains, 
heaven, and earth. One entire hymn (x. 97) is, how- 
ever, devoted to the praise of plants ipshadhi) alone, 
mainly with regard to their healing powers. Later Vedic 
texts mention offerings made to plants and the adoration 
paid to large trees passed in marriage processions. One 
hymn of the Rigveda (x. 146) celebrates the forest as a 
whole, personified as AranyanI, the mocking genius of 
the woods. The weird sights and sounds of the gloam- 
ing are here described with a fine perception of nature. 
In the dark solitudes of the jungle 

Sounds as of grazing cows are heard, 
A dwelling-house appears to loom, 
And AranyanI, Forest-nymph, 
Creaks like a cart at eventide. 

Here some one calls his cow to him t 
Another there is felling wood; 
Who tarries in the forest-glade 
7 hinks to hwiself, " / heard a cry." 

Never does Aranyani hurt 

Unless one goes too near to her : 

When she has eaten of sweet fruit 
At her own will she goes to rest. 


Sweet-scented, redolent of balm, 
Replete with food, yet tilli?ig not, 
Mother of beasts, the Forest-nymph, 
Her I have magnified with praise. 

On the whole, however, the part played by plant, 
tree, and forest deities is a very insignificant one in the 

A strange religious feature pointing to a remote 
antiquity is the occasional deification and worship even 
of objects fashioned by the hand of man, when regarded 
as useful to him. These are chiefly sacrificial imple- 
ments. Thus in one hymn (iii. 8) the sacrificial post 
(called "lord of the forest") is invoked, while three 
hymns of the tenth book celebrate the pressing stones 
used in preparing soma. The plough is invoked in a 
few stanzas ; and an entire hymn (vi. 75) is devoted to 
the praise of various implements of war, while one in 
the Atharva-veda (v. 20) glorifies the drum. 

The demons so frequently mentioned in the Rigveda 
are of two classes. The one consists of the aerial 
adversaries of the gods. The older view is that of a 
conflict waged between a single god and a single demon. 
This gradually developed into the notion of the gods 
and the demons in general being arrayed against each 
other as two opposing hosts. The Brahmanas regularly 
represent the antagonism thus. Asura is the ordinary 
name of the aerial foes of the gods. This word has a 
remarkable history. In the Rigveda it is predominantly 
a designation of the gods, and in the Avesta it denotes, 
in the form of Ahura, the highest god of Zoroastrianism. 
In the later parts of the Rigveda, however, asura, when 
used by itself, also signifies u demon," and this is its only 
sense in the Atharva-veda. A somewhat unsuccessful 


attempt has been made to explain how a word signify- 
ing " god" came to mean " devil," as the result of national 
conflicts, the Asuras or gods of extra- Vedic tribes be- 
coming demons to the Vedic Indian, just as the devas or 
gods of the Veda are demons in the Avesta. There is 
no traditional evidence in support of this view, and it is 
opposed by the fact that to the Rigvedic Indian asura 
not only in general meant a divine being, but was 
especially appropriate to Varuna, the most exalted of 
the gods. The word must therefore have changed its 
meaning in course of time within the Veda itself. Here 
it seems from the beginning to have had the sense of 
"possessor of occult power," and hence to have been 
potentially applicable to hostile beings. Thus in one 
hymn of the Rigveda (x. 124) both senses seem to occur. 
Towards the end of the Rigvedic period the application 
of the word to the gods began to fall into abeyance. 
This tendency was in all likelihood accelerated by the 
need of a word denoting the hostile demoniac powers 
generally, as well as by an incipient popular etymology, 
which saw a negative {a-surd) in the word and led to 
the invention of sura, "god," a term first found in the 

A group of aerial demons, primarily foes of Indra, are 
the Panis. The proper meaning of the word is "niggard," 
especially in regard to sacrificial gifts. From this significa- 
tion it developed the mythological sense of demons 
resembling those originally conceived as withholding the 
treasures of heaven. vJThe term dasa or dasyu, properly 
the designation of the dark aborigines of India contrasted 
with their fair Aryan conquerors, is frequently used in 
the sense of demons or fiends. 

By far the most conspicuous of the individual aerial 


demons of the Rigveda, is Vritra, who has the form of 
a serpent, and whose name means " encompasser." 
Another demon mentioned with some frequency is 
Vala, the personification of the mythical cave in 
which the celestial cows are confined. In post-Vedic 
literature these two demons are frequently mentioned 
together and are regarded as brothers slain by Indra. 
The most often named among the remaining adver- 
saries of Indra is Cushna, the "hisser" or "scorcher." A 
rarely-mentioned demon is Svarbhanu, who is described 
as eclipsing the sun with darkness. His successor in 
Sanskrit literature was Rahu, regarded as causing eclipses 
by swallowing the sun or moon. 

The second class of demons consists of goblins 
supposed to infest the earth, enemies of mankind as 
the Asuras are of the gods. By far the most common 
generic name for this class is Rakshas. They are 
hardly ever mentioned except in connection with some 
god who is invoked to destroy or is praised for having 
destroyed them. These goblins are conceived as having 
the shapes of various animals as well as of men. 
Their appearance is more fully described by the Atharva- 
veda, in which they are also spoken of as deformed 
or as being blue, yellow, or green in colour. According 
to the Rigveda they are fond of the flesh of men and 
horses, whom they attack by entering into them in order 
to satisfy their greed. They are supposed to prowl 
about at night and to make the sacrifice the special 
object of their attacks. The belief that the Rakshases 
actively interfere with the performance of sacrificial rites 
remains familiar in the post-Vedic period. A species of 
goblin scarcely referred to in the Rigveda, but often 
mentioned in the later Vedas, are the Picachas, described 


as devouring corpses and closely connected with the 

Few references to death and the future life are to 
be found in the hymns of the Rigveda, as the optimistic 
and active Vedic Indian, unlike his descendants in later 
centuries, seems to have given little thought to the other 
world. Most of the information to be gained about their 
views of the next life are to be found in the funeral 
hymns of the last book. The belief here expressed is 
that fire or the grave destroys the body only, while the 
real personality of the deceased is imperishable. The 
soul is thought to be separable from the body, not only 
after death, but even during unconsciousness (x. 58). 
There is no indication here, or even in the later Vedas, 
of the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, though it 
was already firmly established in the sixth century B.C. 
when Buddhism arose. One passage of the Rigveda, 
however, in which the soul is spoken of as departing 
to the waters or the plants, may contain the germs of the 



ACCORDING to the Vedic view, the spirit of the 
deceased proceeded to the realm of eternal light on 
the path trodden by the fathers, whom he finds in 
the highest heaven revelling with Yama, king of the 
dead, and feasting with the gods. 

In one of the funeral hymns (x. 14, 7) the dead man 
is thus addressed : 

Go forth, go forth along those ancient pathways 
To where our early ancestors departed. 
There thou shall see rejoicing in libations 
The two kings, Varuna the god and Yama. 

Here a tree spreads its branches, in the shade of 
which Yama drinks soma with the gods, and the sound 
of the flute and of songs is heard. The life in heaven 
is free from imperfections or bodily frailties, and is 
altogether delectable. It is a glorified life of material 
joys as conceived by the imagination, not of warriors, 
but of priests. Heaven is gained as a reward by heroes 
who risk their lives in battle, but above all by those 
who bestow liberal sacrificial gifts on priests. 

Though the Atharva-veda undoubtedly shows a belief 
in a place of future punishment, the utmost that can 
be inferred with regard to the Rigvcda from the scanty 

evidence we possess, is the notion that unbelievers were 



consigned to an underground darkness after death. 
So little, indeed, do the Rishis say on this subject, and 
so vague is the little they do say, that Roth held 
the total annihilation of the wicked by death to be 
their belief. The early Indian notions about future 
punishment gradually developed, till, in the post-Vedic 
period, a complicated system of hells had been ela- 

Some passages of the Rigveda distinguish the path 
of the fathers or dead ancestors from the path of 
the gods, doubtless because cremation appeared as a 
different process from sacrifice. In the Brahmanas the 
fathers and the gods are thought to dwell in distinct 
abodes, for the " heavenly world " is contrasted with 
the " world of the fathers." 

The chief of the blessed dead is Yama, to whom 
three entire hymns are addressed. He is spoken of as 
a king who rules the departed and as a gatherer of the 
people, who gives the deceased a resting-place and 
prepares an abode for him. Yama it was who first 
discovered the way to the other world : 

Him who along the mighty heights departed. 

Him who searched and spied out the path for many, 

Son of Vivasvat, gatherer of the people, 

Yama the king, with sacrifices woiship. (x. 14, 1). 

Though death is the path of Yama, and he must 
consequently have been regarded with a certain amount 
of fear, he is not yet in the Rigveda, as in the Atharva- 
veda and the later mythology, a god of death. The owl 
and pigeon are occasionally mentioned as emissaries 
of Yama, but his regular messengers are two dogs 
which guard the path trodden by the dead proceeding 
to the other world. 


With reference to them the deceased man is thus 
addressed in one of the funeral hymns (x. 14) : 

Run on thy path straight forward past the two dogs, 
The sons of Sarama, four-eyed a7id brindled, 
Draw near thereafter to the bounteous fathers, 
Who revel on in company with Yama. 

Broad-nosed and brown, the messengers of Yama, 
Greedy of lives, wander among the people : 
May they give back to us a life auspicious 
Here and to-day, that we may see the sunlight. 

The name of Yama is sometimes used in the Rigveda 
in its primary sense of "twin," and the chief of the 
dead actually occurs in this character throughout a 
hymn (x. 10) of much poetic beauty, consisting of a 
dialogue between him and his sister Yaml. She en- 
deavours to win his love, but he repels her advances 
with these words : 

The spies sent by the gods here ever wander, 
They stand not still, nor close their eyes in slumber : 
Another man thine arms shall clasp, Yami, 
Tightly as twines around the tree the creeper. 

The incestuous union which forms the main theme 
of the poem, though rejected as contrary to the higher 
ethical standard of the Rigveda, was doubtless the sur- 
vival of an already existing myth of the descent of 
mankind from primeval " twins." This myth, indeed, 
seems to have been handed down from the Indo-Iranian 
period, for the later Avestan literature makes mention of 
Yimeh as a sister of Yima. Even the name of Yama's 
father goes back to that period, for Yima is the son of 
Vivanhvant in the. Avesta as Yama is of Vivasvat in the 

The great bulk of the Rigvedic poems comprises in- 


vocations of gods or deified objects as described in 
the foregoing pages. Scattered among them are to 
be found, chiefly in the tenth book, about a dozen 
mythological pieces consisting of dialogues which, in 
a vague and fragmentary way, indicate the course of 
the action and refer to past events. In all likelihood 
they were originally accompanied by a narrative set- 
ting in prose, which explained the situation more fully 
to the audience, but was lost after these poems were 
incorporated among the collected hymns of the Rig- 
veda. One of this class (iv. 42) is a colloquy between 
Indra and Varuna, in which each of these leading gods 
puts forward his claims to pre-eminence. Another, 
which shows considerable poetic merit and presents 
the situation clearly, is a dialogue in alternate verses 
between Varuna and Agni (x. 51), followed by a second 
(x. 52) between the gods and Agni, who has grown 
weary of his sacrificial office, but finally agrees to con- 
tinue the performance of his duties. 

A curious but prosaic and obscure hymn (x. 86), 
consists of a dialogue between Indra and his wife IndranI 
on the subject of a monkey which has incurred the 
anger of the latter. The circumstances are much more 
clearly presented in a poem of great beauty (x. 108), in 
which Sarama, the messenger of Indra, having tracked 
the stolen cows, demands them back from the Panis. 
Another already referred to (p. 107) treats the myth of 
UrvacI and Pururavas. The dialogue takes place at the 
moment when the nymph is about to quit her mortal 
lover for ever. A good deal of interest attaches to this 
myth, not only as the oldest Indo-European love-story, 
but as one which has had a long history in Indian 
literature. The dialogue of Yama and YamI (x. 10) is, 


as we have seen, based on a still older myth. These 
mythological ballads, if I may use the expression, 
foreshadow the dramatic and epic poetry of a later 

A very small number, hardly more than thirty 
altogether, of the hymns of the Rigveda are not 
addressed to the gods or deified objects. About a 
dozen poems, occurring almost exclusively in the tenth 
book, are concerned with magical notions, and therefore 
belong rather to the domain of the Atharva-veda. Two 
short ones (ii. 42-43) belong to the sphere of augury, 
certain birds of omen being invoked to utter auspicious 
cries. Two others consist of spells directed against 
poisonous vermin (i. 191), and the disease called yaks/ima 
(x. 163). Two are incantations to preserve the life of 
one lying at the point of death (x. 58; 60, 7-12). A 
couple of stanzas from one of the latter may serve as a 
specimen : 

Just as a yoke with leathern thong 
They fasten on that it may hold : 
So have I now held fast thy soul, 
That thou mayst live and mayst not die, 
Anon to be unhurt and well. 

Downward is blown the blast of wind, 
Downward the burning sunbeams shoot, 
A down the milk streams fro?n the cow : 
So downward may thy ailmoit go. 

Here is a stanza from a poem intended as a charm 
to induce slumber (v. 55) : 

The man who sits and he who walks, 
And he who sees us with his gaze : 
Of these we now close up the eyes, 
Just as we shut this dwelling-house. 


The first three stanzas of this lullaby end with the 
refrain, " Fall fast asleep " (ni shu shvapd). 

The purpose of one incantation (x. 183) is to procure 
children, while another (x. 162) is directed against the 
demon that destroys offspring. There is also a spell 
(x. 166) aiming at the destruction of enemies. We 
further find the incantation (x. 145) of a woman desir- 
ing to oust her rival wives from the affections of her 
husband. A sequel to it is formed by the song of 
triumph (x. 159) of one who has succeeded in this 
object : 

Up has arisen there the sun, 
So too my fortunes now arise : 
With craft victorious I have gained 
Over my lord this victory. 

My sons now mighty warriors are. 
My daughter is a princess now, 
And I myself have gained the day : 
My name stands highest with my lord. 

Vanquished have I these rival wives, 
Rising superior to them all, 
That over this heroic man 
And all this people I may rule. 

With regard to a late hymn (vii. 103), which is entirely 
secular in style, there is some doubt as to its original 
purpose. The awakening of the frogs at the 'beginning 
of the rainy season is here described with a graphic 
power which will doubtless be appreciated best by those 
who have lived in India. The poet compares the din of 
their croaking with the chants of priests exhilarated by 
soma, and with the clamour of pupils at school repeating 
the words of their teacher : 

Resting in silence for a year, 
As Brah?nans practising a vow, 


The frogs have lifted up their voice, 
Excited when Parjanya comes. 

When one repeats the uttera?ice of the other 
Like those who learn the lesson of their teacher , 
Then every limb of yours seems to be swelling, 
As eloquent ye prate upon the waters. 

As Brahmans at the mighty soma offeri?ig 

Sit round the large and brimming vessel talking, 

So throng ye round the pool to hallow 

This day of all the year that brings the rain-time. 

These Brahmans with their soma raise their voices, 
Performing punctually their yearly worship ; 
And these Adhvaryus, sweating with their kettles, 
These priests come forth to view, and none are hidden. 

The twelvemonth's god-sent order they have guarded, 
And ?iever do these me?i neglect the season. 
When in the year the rai?iy tinie commences, 
Those who were heated kettles gain deliverance. 

This poem has usually been interpreted as a satire 
upon the Brahmans. If such be indeed its purport, we 
find it difficult to conceive how it could have gained 
admittance into a collection like the Rzgveda, which, if 
not entirely composed, was certainly edited, by priests. 
The Brahmans cannot have been ignorant of the real 
significance of the poem. On the other hand, the com- 
parison of frogs with Brahmans would not necessarily 
imply satire to the Vedic Indian. Students familiar with 
the style of the Rigveda know that many similes which, 
if used by ourselves, would involve contempt or ridicule, 
were employed by the ancient Indian poets only for the 
sake of graphic effect. As the frogs are in the last stanza 
besought to grant wealth and length of days, it is much 
more likely that we have here a panegyric of frogs be- 
lieved to have the magical power of bringing rain. 


There remain about twenty poems the subject-matter 
of which is of a more or less secular character. They 
deal with social customs, the liberality of patrons, 
ethical questions, riddles, and cosmogonic speculations. 
Several of them are of high importance for the history of 
Indian thought and civilisation. As social usages have 
always been dominated by religion in India, it is natural 
that the poems dealing with them should have a religious 
and mythological colouring. The most notable poem 
of this kind is the long wedding-hymn (x. 85) of forty- 
seven stanzas. Lacking in poetic unity, it consists of 
groups of verses relating to the marriage ceremonial 
loosely strung together. The opening stanzas (1-5), in 
which the identity of the celestial soma and of the moon 
is expressed in veiled terms, are followed by others 
(6-17) relating the myth of the wedding of Soma the 
moon with the sun-maiden Surya. The Acvins, else- 
where her spouses, here appear in the inferior capacity 
of groomsmen, who, on behalf of Soma, sue for the 
hand of Surya from her father, the sun-god. Savitri 
consents, and sends his daughter, a willing bride, to 
her husband's house on a two-wheeled car made of the 
wood of the calmali or silk-cotton tree, decked with 
red kimguka flowers, and drawn by two white bulls. 

Then sun and moon, the prototype of human mar- 
riage, are described as an inseparable pair (18-19) : 

They move alternately with mystic power ; 
Like children playing they go round the sacrifice : 
0?ie of the two surveys all living beings, 
The other, seasons meting out, is born again. 

Ever a?iew, being born again, he rises, 
He goes in front of dawns as daylighfs token. 
He, coming, to the gods their share apportions ; 
The moon extends the length of marts existence. 


Blessings are then invoked on the wedding proces- 
sion, an$J a wish expressed that the newly-married couple 
may have many children and enjoy prosperity, long life, 
and freedom from disease (20-33). 

The next two stanzas (34-35), containing some obscure 
references to the bridal garments, are followed by six 
others (36-41) pronounced at the wedding rite, which is 
again brought into connection with the marriage of Surya. 
The bridegroom here thus addresses the bride : 

\I grasp thy hand that I may gam good fortune, 
That thou mafst reach old age with me thy husband. 
Bhaga, Aryai?ian, Savitri, Puramdhi, 
The gods have given thee to share my household. 

The god of fire is at the same time invoked : 

To thee, O Agni,first they led 
Bright Surya with the bridal throng : 
So in thy turn to husbands give 
A wife alotig with progeny. 

The concluding verses (42-47) are benedictions pro- 
nounced on the newly- wedded couple after the bride has 
arrived at her future home : 

Here abide; be not divided; 
Complete life's whole allotted span, 
Playing with your sons and grandsons, 
Rejoicing in your own abode. 

The last stanza of all is spoken by the bridegroom : 

May all the gods us two unite, 
May Waters now our hearts entwine; 
May Mdtaricvan and Dhatri, 
May Deshtri us together -join. 

There are five hymns, all in the last book (x. 14-18), 
which are more or less concerned with funeral rites. 


All but one of them, however, consist chiefly of invoca- 
tions of gods connected with the future life. The first 
(14) is addressed to Yama, the next to the Fathers, the 
third to Agni, and the fourth to Pushan, as well as 
Sarasvatl. Only the last (18) is a funeral hymn in the 
true sense. It is secular in style as well as in matter, 
being almost free from references to any of the gods. 
Grave and elevated in tone, it is distinguished by great 
beauty of language. It also yields more information 
about the funeral usages of those early days than any 
of the rest. 

From this group of hymns it appears that burial was 
practised as well as cremation by the Vedic Indians. 
The composer of a hymn addressed to Varuna in Book 
VII. also mentions "the house of clay" in connection 
with death. Cremation was, however, the usual manner 
of disposing of the dead, and the later Vedic ritual 
practically knew this method alone, sanctioning only 
the burial of ascetics and children under two years of 
age. With the rite of cremation, too, the mythological 
notions about the future life were specially connected. 
Thus Agni conducts the corpse to the other world, where 
the gods and Fathers dwell. A goat was sacrificed when 
the corpse was burned, and this goat, according to the 
Atharva-veda (ix. 5, 1 and 3), preceded and announced the 
deceased to the fathers, just as in the Rigveda the goat 
immolated with the sacrificial horse goes before to 
announce the offering to the gods (i. 162-163). In the 
later Vedic ritual a goat or cow was sacrificed as the 
body was cremated. 

In conformity with a custom of remotest antiquity 
still surviving in India, the dead man was provided 
with ornaments and clothing for use in the future life. 


The fact that in the funeral obsequies of the Rigveda 
the widow lies down beside the body of her deceased 
husband and his bow is removed from the dead man's 
hand, shows that both were in earlier times burnt with 
his body to accompany him to the next world, and a 
verse of the Atharva-veda calls the dying of the widow 
with her husband an old custom. The evidence of 
anthropology shows that this was a very primitive prac- 
tice widely prevailing at the funerals of military chiefs, 
and it can be proved to go back to the Indo-European 

The following stanza (8) from the last funeral hymn 
(x. 1 8) is addressed to the widow, who is called upon to 
rise from the pyre and take the hand of her new husband, 
doubtless a brother of the deceased, in accordance with 
an ancient marriage custom : 

Rise up j come to the wo?- id of life, O woman; 
Thou liest here by one whose soul has left him. 
Come : thou hast now entered upon the wifehood 
Of this thy lord who takes thy hand and woos thee. 

The speaker then, turning to the deceased man, 
exclaims : 

From the dead hand I take the bow he wielded, 
To gain for us dominion, might, and glory. 
Thou there, we here, rich in heroic offspring, 
Will vanquish all assaults of every foeman. 

Approach the bosom of the earth, the mother, 
This earth extending far and most propitious : 
Young, soft as wool to bounteous givers, may she 
Preserve thee from the lap of 'dissolution. 

Open wide, O earth, press not heavily on him, 
Be easy of approach, hail him with kindly aid; 
As with a robe a mother hides 
Her son, so shroud this man^ earth. 


Referring to the bystanders he continues : 

These living ones are from the dead divided : 

Our calling on the gods is now auspicious. 

We have come fo?'th prepared for dance and laughter. 

Till future days prolonging our existence. 

As days in order follow otie another, 
As seasons duly alternate with seasons, 
As the later never forsakes the earlier, 
So fashion thou the lives of these, Ordainer. 

A few of the secular poems contain various his- 
torical references. These are the so-called Ddnastutis 
or " Praises , of Gifts/' panegyrics commemorating the 
liberality of princes towards the priestly singers em- 
ployed by them. They possess little poetic merit, and 
are of late date, occurring chiefly in the first and tenth 
books, or among the Vdlakhilya (supplementary) hymns 
of the eighth. A number of encomia of this type, 
generally consisting of only two or three stanzas, are 
appended to ordinary hymns in the eighth book and, 
much less commonly, in most of the other books. Chiefly 
concerned in describing the kind and the amount of 
the gifts bestowed on them, the composers of these 
panegyrics incidentally furnish historical data about the 
families and genealogies of themselves and their patrons, 
as well as about the names and homes of the Vedic 
tribes. The amount of the presents bestowed for in- 
stance, 60,000 cows is sometimes enormously exagge- 
rated. We may, however, safely conclude that it was 
often considerable, and that the Vedic chiefs possessed 
very large herds of cattle. 

Four of the secular poems are didactic in character. 
One of these (x. 34), " The Lament of the Gambler," strikes 
a pathetic note. Considering that it is the oldest com- 


position of the kind in existence, we cannot but regard 
this poem as a most remarkable literary product. The 
gambler deplores his inability to throw off the spell of 
the dice, though he sees the ruin they are bringing on 
him and his household : 

Downward they fall, then nimbly leaping up7vard, 
They overpower the man with hands, though handless. 
Cast on the board like magic bits of charcoal, 
Though cold themselves, they burn the heart to ashes. 

It pains the gambler when he sees a woman, 
Another* s wife, and their well-ordered household : 
He yokes these brown steeds early in the morning, 
And, when the fire is low, sinks down an outcast. 

" Play not with dice, but cultivate thy cornfield; 
Rejoice in thy goods, deeming them abundant : 
There are thy cows, there is thy wife, gambler? 
This counsel Savitri the kindly gives me. 

We learn here that the dice (akshd) were made of the 
nut of the Vibhldaka tree {Terminalia bellericd) y which 
is still used for the purpose in India. 

The other three poems of this group may be re- 
garded as the forerunners of the sententious poetry 
which flourished so luxuriantly in Sanskrit literature. 
One of them, consisting only of four stanzas (ix. 112), 
describes in a moralising strain of mild humour how 
men follow after gain in various ways : 

The thoughts of men are manifold, 
Their callings are of diverse kinds; 
The carpenter desires a rift, 
The leech a fracture wants to cure. 

A poet I j my dad's a leech j 
Mama the upper millstone grinds : 
With various minds we strive for wealth, 
As ever seeking after kine. 


Another of these poems (x. 117) consists of a collec- 
tion of maxims inculcating the duty of well-doing and 
charity : 

Who has the power should give unto the needy, 
Regarding well the course of life hereafter : 
Fortune, like two chariot wheels revolving, 
Now to one ma?i comes nigh, now to another. 

Ploughing the soil, the share produces ?iurturej 
He who bestirs his feet performs his journey J 
A priest who speaks earns more than one who's silent; 
A friend who gives is better than the niggard. 

The fourth of these poems (x. 71) is composed in 
praise of wise speech. Here are four of its eleven 
stanzas : 

Where clever men their words with wisdom utter, 
And sift them as with flail the corn is winnowed, 
There friends may recognise each other 's friendship : 
A goodly stamp is on their speech imprinted. 

Whoever his congenial friend abandons, 
In that man's speech there is not any blessing. 
For what he hears he hears without advantage : 
He has no knowledge of the path of virtue. 

When Brahma7i friends unite to offer worship, 
In hymns by the heart's impulse swiftly fashioned. 
Then not a few are left behind in wisdom, 
While others win their way as gifted Brahmans. 

The one sits putting forth rich bloom of verses, 
Another sings a song in skilful numbers, 
A third as teacher states the laws of 'being, 
A fourth metes out the sacrifice's measure. 

Even in the ordinary hymns are to be found a few 
moralising remarks of a cynical nature about wealth 
and women, such as frequently occur in the ethical 
literature of the post - Vedic age. Thus one poet 


exclaims : " How many a maiden is an object of 
affection to her wooer for the sake of her admirable 
wealth!" (x. 27, 12); while another addresses the kine 
he desires with the words : " Ye cows make even the 
lean man fat, even the ugly man ye make of goodly 
countenance " (vi. 28, 6). A third observes : " Indra 
himself said this, 'The mind of woman is hard to in- 
struct, and her intelligence is small'" (viii. 33, 17); and 
a fourth complains: " There are no friendships with 
women; their hearts are those of hyenas" (x. 95, 15). 
One, however, admits that " many a woman is better than 
the godless and niggardly man " (v. 61, 6). 

Allied to the didactic poems are the riddles, of which 
there are at least two collections in the Rigveda. In 
their simplest form they are found in a poem (29) of the 
eighth book. In each of its ten stanzas a different deity 
is described by his characteristic marks, but without 
being mentioned, the hearer being left to guess his 
name. Vishnu, for instance, is thus alluded to : 

Another with his mighty stride has made three steps 
To where the gods rejoice in bliss. 

A far more difficult collection, consisting of fifty-two 
stanzas, occurs in the first book (164). Nothing here is 
directly described, the language being always symbolical 
and mystical. The allusions in several cases are so 
obscurely expressed that it is now impossible to divine 
the meaning. Sometimes the riddle is put in the form of 
a question, and in one case the answer itself is also given. 
Occasionally the poet propounds a riddle of which he 
himself evidently does not know the solution. In general 
these problems are stated as enigmas. The subject of 
about one-fourth of them is the sun. Six or seven deal 


with clouds, lightning, and the production of rain ; three 
or four with Agni and his various forms ; about the same 
number with the year and its divisions ; two with the 
origin of the world and the One Being. The dawn, 
heaven and earth, the metres, speech, and some other 
subjects which can hardly even be conjectured, are dealt 
with in one or two stanzas respectively. One of the 
more clearly expressed of these enigmas is the following, 
which treats of the wheel of the year with its twelve 
months and three hundred and sixty days : 

Provided with twelve spokes and undecaying, 
The wheel of order rolls around the heavens; 
Within it stand, O Agni, joined in couples, 
Together seven hundred sons and twenty. 

The thirteenth or intercalary month, contrasted with 
the twelve others conceived as pairs, is thus darkly 
alluded to : " Of the co-born they call the seventh single- 
born ; sages call the six twin pairs god-born." The 
latter expression probably alludes to the intercalary 
month being an artificial creation of man. In the later 
Vedic age it became a practice to propound such enig- 
mas, called " theological problems " {brahmodya) y in con- 
tests for intellectual pre-eminence when kings instituted 
great sacrifices or Brahmans were otherwise assembled 

Closely allied to these poetical riddles is the philoso- 
phical poetry contained in the six or seven cosmogonic 
hymns of the Rigveda. The question of the origin of 
the world here treated is of course largely mixed with 
mythological and theological notions. Though betraying 
much confusion of ideas, these early speculations are 
of great interest as the sources from which flow various 
streams of later thought. Most of these hymns handle 


the subject of the origin of the world in a theological, 
and only one in a purely philosophical spirit. In the 
view of the older Rishis, the gods in general, or various 
individual deities, " generated " the world. This view con- 
flicts with the frequently expressed notion that heaven 
and earth are the parents of the gods. The poets thus 
involve themselves in the paradox that the children 
produce their own parents. Indra, for instance, is de- 
scribed in so many words as having begotten his father 
and mother from his own body (x. 54, 3). This conceit 
evidently pleased the fancy of a priesthood becoming 
more and more addicted to far-fetched speculations ; 
for in the cosmogonic hymns we find reciprocal genera- 
tion more than once introduced in the stages of crea- 
tion. Thus Daksha is said to have sprung from Aditi, 
and Aditi from Daksha (x. 72, 4). 

The evolution of religious thought in the Rigveda led 
to the conception of a creator distinct from any of the 
chief deities and superior to all the gods. He appears 
under the various names of Purusha, Vicvakarman, 
Hiranyagarbha, or Prajapati in the cosmogonic hymns. 
Whereas creation, according to the earlier view, is 
regularly referred to as an act of natural generation with 
some form of the verb jan, "to beget," these cosmogonic 
poems speak of it as the manufacture or evolution from 
some original material. In one of them (x. 90), the 
well-known Hymn of Man (purusha-sukta), the gods are 
still the agents, but the material out of which the world 
is made consists of the body of a primeval giant, Purusha 
(man), who being thousand-headed and thousand-footed, 
extends even beyond the earth, as he covers it. The 
fundamental idea of the world being created from the 
body of a giant is, indeed, very ancient, being met with 


in several primitive mythologies. But the manner in 
which the idea is here worked out is sufficiently late. 
Quite in the spirit of the Brahmanas, where Vishnu is 
identified with the sacrifice, the act of creation is treated 
as a sacrificial rite, the original man being conceived as 
a victim, the parts of which when cut up become portions 
of the universe. His head, we are told, became the sky, 
his navel the air, his feet the earth, while from his mind 
sprang the moon, from his eye the sun, from his breath 
the wind. " Thus they (the gods) fashioned the worlds." 
Another sign of the lateness of the hymn is its pantheistic 
colouring ; for it is here said that u Purusha is all this 
world, what has been and shall be," and " one-fourth 
of him is all creatures, and three-fourths are the world 
of the immortals in heaven." In the Brahmanas, Purusha 
is the same as the creator, Prajapati, and in the 
Upanishads he is identified with the universe. Still 
later, in the dualistic Sankhya philosophy, Purusha be- 
comes the name of " soul " as opposed to " matter." In 
the Hymn of Man a being called Viraj is mentioned 
as produced from Purusha. This in the later Vedanta 
philosophy is a name of the personal creator as con- 
trasted with Brahma, the universal soul. The Purusha 
hymn, then, may be regarded as the oldest product 
of the pantheistic literature of India. It is at the same 
time one of the very latest poems of the Rigvedic age ; 
for it presupposes a knowledge of the three oldest 
Vedas, to which it refers together by name. It also for 
the first and only time in the Rigveda mentions the four 
castes ; for it is here said that Purusha's mouth became 
the Brahman, his arms the Rajanya (warrior), his thighs 
the Vaigya (agriculturist), and his feet the (^udra (serf). 
In nearly all the other poems dealing with the origin 


of the world, not the gods collectively but an individual 
creator is the actor. Various passages in other hymns 
show that the sun was regarded as an important agent 
of generation by the Rishis. Thus he is described as 
"the soul of all that moves and stands" (i. 115, 1), and is 
said to be "called by many names though one " (i. 164, 46). 
Such statements indicate that the sun was in process 
of being abstracted to the character of a creator. This 
is probably the origin of Vicvakarman, "the all-creating," 
to whom two cosmogonic hymns (x. 81-82) are addressed. 
Three of the seven stanzas of the first deserve to be 
quoted : 

What was the place on which he gained a footing 1 ? 
Where found he anything, or how, to hold by, 
What time, the earth creating, Vicvakarma?i, 
All-seeing, with his inight disclosed the heavens ? 

Who has his eyes and mouth in every quarter, 
Whose arms and feet are turned in all directions, 
The one god, when the earth and heaven creating, 
With his two arms and wings together welds them. 

What was the wood, and what the tree, pray tell us, 
From which they fashioned forth the earth and heaven ? 
Ye sages, in your mind, pray make i?iquiry, 
Whereon he stood, when he the woi'lds supported 1 ? 

It is an interesting coincidence that " wood/' the term 
here used, was regularly employed in Greek philosophy 
to express " original matter " {hule). 

In the next hymn (x. 82), the theory is advanced 
that the waters produced the first germ of things, the 
source of the universe and the gods. 

Who is our father, parent, and disposer, 
Who knows all habitations and all beings, 
Who only to the gods their names apportions ; 
To him all other beings turn inqtdring t 


What germ primeval did the waters cherish, 
Wherein the gods all saw themselves together, 
Which is beyond the earth, beyond that heaven, 
Beyond the mighty gods' mysterious dwelling ? 

That germ primeval did the waters cherish, 
Wherein the gods together all assembled, 
The One that in the goafs 1 source is established, 
Within which all the worlds are comprehended. 

Ye cannot find him who these worlds created: 
That which comes nearer to you is another. 

In a cosmogonic poem (x. 121) of considerable 
beauty the creator further appears under the name of 
Hiranyagarbha, " germ of gold/' a notion doubtless 
suggested by the rising sun. Here, too, the waters 
are, in producing Agni, regarded as bearing the germ 
of all life. 

The Germ of Gold at first came into being, 
Produced as the one lord of all existence. 
The earth he has supported and this heaven : 
What god shall we with sacrifices worship ? 

Who gives the breath of life and vital power, 
To whose commands the gods all render homage, 
Whose shade is death and life immortal : 
What god shall we with sacrifices worship? 

What time the mighty waters came containing 
All germs of life and generating Agni, 
Then was produced the gods' one vital spirit : 
What god shall we with sacrifices worship ? 

Who with his mighty power surveyed the waters 
That intellect and sacrifice engendered, 
The one god over all the gods exalted : 
What god shall we with sacrifices worship ? 

1 The sun is probably meant. 


The refrain receives its answer in a tenth stanza 
(added to the poem at a later time), which proclaims 
the unknown god to be Prajapati. 

Two other cosmogonic poems explain the origin of 
the world philosophically as the evolution of the existent 
{sat) from the non-existent (asat). In the somewhat 
confused account given in one of them (x. 72), three 
stages of creation may be distinguished : first the world 
is produced, then the gods, and lastly the sun. The 
theory of evolution is here still combined with that of 
creation : 

Even as a smith, the Lord of Prayer, 

Together forged this universe : 

In earliest ages of the gods 

Fro?n what was not arose what is. 

A far finer composition than this is the Song of 
Creation (x. 129) : 

Non-being then existed not, nor being: 

There was no air, nor heaven which is beyond it. 

What motion was there ? Where? By whom directed! 

Was water there, and fathomless abysses ? 

Death then existed not, nor life immortal; 

Of neither night nor day was any semblance. 

The One breathed calm and windless by self-impulse : 

There was not any other thing beyond it. 

Darkness at first was covered up by darkness; 
This universe was indistinct and fluid. 
The empty space that by the void was hidden, 
That One was by the force of heat engendered. 

Desire then at the first arose within it, 
Desire, which was the earliest seed of spirit. 
The bond of being in non-being sages 
Discovered searching in their hearts with wisdom. 


Who knows it truly ? who can here declare it ? 
Whence was it born ? whence issued this creation ? 
And did the gods appear with its production ? 
But then who knows from whence it has arisen ? 

This world- creation, whence it has arisen, 
Or whether it has been produced or has not, 
He who surveys it in the highest heaven, 
He only knows, or ev'n he does not know it. 

Apart from its high literary merit, this poem is most 
noteworthy for the daring speculations which find 
utterance in so remote an age. But even here may be 
traced some of the main defects of Indian philosophy 
lack of clearness and consistency, with a tendency to 
make reasoning depend on mere words. Being the only 
piece of sustained speculation in the Rigveda, it is the 
starting-point of the natural philosophy which assumed 
shape in the evolutionary Sankhya system. It will, 
moreover, always retain a general interest as the earliest 
specimen of Aryan philosophic thought. With the 
theory of the Song of Creation, that after the non- 
existent had developed into the existent, water came 
first, and then intelligence was evolved from it by heat, 
the cosmogonic accounts of the Brahmanas substantially 
agree. Here, too, the non-existent becomes the existent, 
of which the first form is the waters. On these floats 
Hiranyagarbha, the cosmic golden egg, whence is pro- 
duced the spirit that desires and creates the universe. 
Always requiring the agency of the creator Prajapati at 
an earlier or a later stage, the Brahmanas in some of their 
accounts place him first, in others the waters. This 
fundamental contradiction, due to mixing up the theory of 
creation with that of evolution, is removed in the Sankhya 
system by causing Purusha, or soul, to play the part of a 


passive spectator, while Prakriti, or primordial matter, 
undergoes successive stages of development. The cos- 
mogonic hymns of the Rigveda are not only thus the 
precursors of Indian philosophy, but also of the Puranas, 
one of the main objects of which is to describe the 
origin of the world. 



The survey of the poetry of the Rigveda presented in 
the foregoing pages will perhaps suffice to show that 
this unique monument of a long-vanished age contains, 
apart from its historical interest, much of aesthetic value, 
and well deserves to be read, at least in selections, by 
every lover of literature. The completeness of the 
picture it supplies of early religious thought has no 
parallel. Moreover, though its purely secular poems are 
so few, the incidental references contained in the whole 
collection are sufficiently numerous to afford material 
for a tolerably detailed description of the social con- 
dition of the earliest Aryans in India. Here, then, we 
have an additional reason for attaching great importance 
to the Rigveda in the history of civilisation. 

In the first place, the home of the Vedic tribes is 
revealed to us by the geographical data which the 
hymns yield. From these we may conclude with cer- 
tainty that the Aryan invaders, after having descended 
into the plains, in all probability through the western 
passes of the Hindu Kush, had already occupied the 
north-western corner of India which is now called by 
the Persian name of Panjab, or " Land of Five Rivers." l 
Mention is made in the hymns of some twenty-five 

1 The component parts of this name are in Sanskrit pancha, five, and dp, 



streams, all but two or three of which belong to the Indus 
river system. Among them are the five which water the 
territory of the Pan jab, and, after uniting in a single 
stream, flow into the Indus. They are the Vitasta (now 
Jhelum), the Asikni (Chenab), the ParushnI (later called 
IravatI, "the refreshing," whence its present name, 
Ravi), the Vipac (Beas), ^and the largest and most 
easterly, the Cutudrl (Sutlej). Some of the Vedic 
tribes, however, still remained on the farther side of 
the Indus, occupying the valleys of its western tribu- 
taries, from the Kubha (Kabul), with its main affluent 
to the north, the Suvastu, river "of fair dwellings" 
(now Swat), to the Krumu (Kurum) and GomatT, 
"abounding in cows" (now Gomal), farther south. 

Few of the rivers of the Rigveda are mentioned more 
than two or three times in the hymns, and several of them 
not more than once. The only names of frequent 
occurrence are those of the Indus and the Sarasvatl. 
One entire hymn (x. 75) is devoted to its laudation, 
but eighteen other streams, mostly its tributaries, share 
its praises in two stanzas. The mighty river seems to 
have made a deep impression on the mind of the poet. 
He speaks of her as the swiftest of the swift, surpassing 
all other streams in volume of water. Other rivers flow to 
her as lowing cows hasten to their calf. The roar and rush 
of her waters are described in enthusiastic strains : 

From earth the sullen roar swells upward to the sky, 
With brilliant spray she dashes up unending surge; 

As when the streams of rain pour thundering from the cloud, 
The Sindhu onward rushes like a bellowing bull. 

The Sindhu (now Sindh), which in Sanskrit simply 
means the "river," as the western boundary of the 
Aryan settlements, suggested to the nations of antiquity 


which first came into contact with them in that quarter 
a name for the whole peninsula. Adopted in the form 
of Indos, the word gave rise to the Greek appellation 
India as the country of the Indus. It was borrowed 
by the ancient Persians as Hindu, which is used in the 
Avesta as a name of the country itself. More accurate 
is the modern Persian designation Hindustan, " land of 
the Indus," a name properly applying only to that part 
of the peninsula which lies between the Himalaya and 
Vindhya ranges. 

Mention is often made in the Rigveda of the sapta 
sindhavahy or "seven rivers," which in one passage at 
least is synonymous with the country inhabited by the 
Aryan Indians. It is interesting to note that the same 
expression hapta hindu occurs in the Avesta, though 
it is there restricted to mean only that part of the 
Indian territory which lay in Eastern Kabulistan. If 
"seven" is here intended for a definite number, the 
"seven rivers" must originally have meant the Kabul, 
the Indus, and the five rivers of the Pan jab, though 
later the SarasvatI may have been substituted for the 
Kabul. For the SarasvatI is the sacred river of the 
Rigveda, more frequently mentioned, generally as a 
goddess, and lauded with more fervour than any other 
stream. The poet's descriptions are often only appli- 
cable to a large river. Hence Roth and other distin- 
guished scholars concluded that SarasvatI is generally 
used by the poets of the Rigveda simply as a sacred 
designation of the Indus. On the other hand, the name 
in a few passages undoubtedly means the small river 
midway between the Sutlej and the Jumna, which at 
a later period formed, with the DrishadvatI, the eastern 
boundary of the sacred region called Brahmavarta, 


lying to the south of Ambala, and commencing some 
sixty miles south of Simla. 

This small river now loses itself in the sands of the 
desert, but the evidence of ancient river-beds appears to 
favour the conclusion that it was originally a tributary of 
the ^utudrl (Sutlej). It is therefore not improbable that 
in Vedic times it reached the sea, and was considerably 
larger than it is now. Considering, too, the special 
sanctity which it had already acquired, the laudations sup- 
posed to be compatible only with the magnitude of the 
Indus may not have seemed too exaggerated when applied 
to the lesser stream. It is to be noted that the Dri- 
shadvatl, the " stony " (now Ghogra or Ghugger), in the 
only passage in which the name occurs in the Rigveda, is 
associated with the SarasvatI, Agni being invoked to 
flame on the banks of these rivers. This is perhaps 
an indication that even in the age of the Rigveda the 
most easterly limit of the Indus river system had already 
acquired a certain sanctity as the region in which the 
sacrificial ritual and the art of sacred poetry were prac- 
tised in the greatest perfection. There are indications 
showing that by the end at least of the Rigvedic period 
some of the Aryan invaders had passed beyond this 
region and had reached the western limit of the Gan- 
getic river system. For the Yamuna (now Jumna), 
the most westerly tributary of the Ganges in the north, 
is mentioned in three passages, two of which prove 
that the Aryan settlements already extended to its banks. 
The Ganges itself is already known, for its name is 
mentioned directly in one passage of the Rigveda and 
indirectly in another. It is, however, a noteworthy fact 
that the name of the Ganges is not to be found in any 
of the other Vedas. 


The southward migration of the Aryan invaders does 
not appear to have extended, at the time when the hymns 
of the Rigveda were composed, much beyond the point 
where the united waters of the Pan jab flow into the 
Indus. The ocean was probably known only from hear- 
say, for no mention is made of the numerous mouths 
of the Indus, and fishing, one of the main occupations on 
the banks of the Lower Indus at the present day, is quite 
ignored. The word for fish (inatsyd), indeed, only 
occurs once, though various kinds of animals, birds, and 
insects are so frequently mentioned. This accords with 
the character of the rivers of the Pan jab and Eastern 
Kabulistan, which are poor in fish, while it contrasts 
with the intimate knowledge of fishing betrayed by the 
Yajurveda, which was composed when the Aryans had 
spread much farther to the east, and, doubtless, also to 
the south. The word which later is the regular name for 
" ocean " (sam-udra) y seems therefore, in agreement with 
its etymological sense (" collection of waters "), to mean 
in the Rigveda only the lower course of the Indus, 
which, after receiving the waters of the Pan jab, is so wide 
that a boat in mid-stream is invisible from the bank. It 
has been noted in recent times that the natives in this 
region speak of the river as the " sea of Sindh ; " and 
indeed the word sindhu (" river ") itself in several pas- 
sages of the Rigveda has practically the sense of " sea." 
Metaphors such as would be used by a people familiar 
with the ocean are lacking in the Rigveda. All references 
to navigation point only to the crossing of rivers in boats 
impelled by oars, the main object being to reach the other 
bank {para). This action suggested a favourite figure, 
which remained familiar throughout Sanskrit literature. 
Thus one of the poets of the Rigveda invokes Agni with 


the words, "Take us across all woes and dangers as 
across the river (sindhii) in a boat ; " and in the later litera- 
ture one who has accomplished his purpose or mastered 
his subject is very frequently described as " having 
reached the farther shore " (pdraga). The Atharva-veda, 
on the other hand, contains some passages showing that 
its composers were acquainted with the ocean. 

Mountains are constantly mentioned in the Rigveda, 
and rivers are described as flowing from them. The 
Himalaya ("abode of snow") range in general is evi- 
dently meant by the "snowy" (himavantaK) mountains 
which are in the keeping of the Creator. But no indi- 
vidual peak is mentioned with the exception of Mujavat, 
which is indirectly referred to as the home of Soma. 
This peak, it is to be inferred from later Vedic literature, 
was situated close to the Kabul Valley, and was probably 
one of the mountains to the south-west of Kashmir. The 
Atharva-veda also mentions two other mountains of the 
Himalaya. One of these is called Trikakud, the " three- 
peaked" (in the later literature Trikuta, and even now 
Trikota), through the valley at the foot of which flows 
the Asiknl (Chenab). The other is Navaprabhramcana 
("sinking of the ship"), doubtless identical with the 
Naubandhana ("binding of the ship") of the epic and 
the Manoravasarpana of the ^atapatha Brahmana, on 
which the ship of Manu is said to have rested when the 
deluge subsided. The Rigveda knows nothing of the 
Vindhya range, which divides Northern India from the 
southern triangle of the peninsula called the Dekhan; 1 
nor does it mention the Narmada River (now Nerbudda), 

1 From the Sanskrit dakskina, south, literally " right," because the Indians 
faced the rising sun when naming the cardinal points. 


which flows immediately south of and parallel to that 

From these data it may safely be concluded that the 
Aryans, when the hymns of the Rigveda were composed, 
had overspread that portion of the north-west which ap- 
pears on the map as a fan-shaped territory, bounded on 
the west by the Indus, on the east by the Sutlej, and on 
the north by the Himalaya, with a fringe of settlements 
extending beyond those limits to the east and the west. 
Now the Pan jab of the present day is a vast arid plain, 
from which, except in the north-west corner at Rawal 
Pindi, no mountains are visible, and over which no mon- 
soon storms break. Here there are no grand displays of 
the strife of the elements, but only gentle showers fall 
during the rainy season, while the phenomena of dawn 
are far more gorgeous than elsewhere in the north. 
There is, therefore, some probability in the contention of 
Professor Hopkins, that only the older hymns, such as 
those to Varuna and Ushas, were composed in the Pan- 
jab itself, while the rest arose in the sacred region near 
the Sarasvati, south of the modern Ambala, where all the 
conditions required by the Rigveda are found. This is 
more likely than the assumption that the climate of the 
Panjab has radically changed since the age of the Vedic 

That the home of the Aryans in the age of the Rigveda 
was the region indicated is further borne out by the 
information the poems yield about the products of the 
country, its flora and fauna. Thus the soma, the most im- 
portant plant of the Rigveda, is described as growing on 
the mountains, and must have been easily obtainable, as 
its juice was used in large quantities for the daily ritual. 
In the period of the Brahmanas it was brought from long 


distances, or substitutes had to be used on account of its 
rarity. Thus the identity of the original plant came to 
be lost in India. The plant which is now commonly 
used is evidently quite another, for its juice when drunk 
produces a nauseating effect, widely different from the 
feeling of exhilaration dwelt on by the poets of the Rig- 
veda. Nor can the plant which the Parsis still import 
from Persia for the Haoma rite be identical with the old 
soma. Again, rice, which is familiar to the later Vedas 
and regarded in them as one of the necessaries of life, is 
not mentioned in the Rigveda at all. Its natural habitat 
is in the south-east, the regular monsoon area, where the 
rainfall is very abundant. Hence it probably did not 
exist in the region of the Indus river system when the 
Rigveda was composed, though, in later times, with the 
practice of irrigation, its cultivation spread to all parts 
of India. Corn (yavd) was grown by the tillers of the 
Rigveda, but the term is probably not restricted, as later, 
to the sense of barley. 

Among large trees mentioned in the Rigveda, the most 
important is the Acvattha ("horse-stand") or sacred fig- 
tree {Ficus religiosa). Its fruit {pippala) is described as 
sweet and the food of birds. Its sacredness is at least 
incipient, for its wood was used for soma vessels, and, as 
we learn from the Atharva-veda, also for the drill (later- 
called pramanthd) employed in producing the sacred fire. 
The latter Veda further tells us that the gods are seated 
in the third heaven under an Acvattha, which may indeed 
have been intended in the Rigveda itself by the "tree 
with fair foliage," in whose shade the blessed revel with 
Yama. This tree, now called Peepal, is still considered 
so sacred that a Hindu would be afraid to utter a false- 
hood beside it. But the Rigveda does not mention at 


all, and the Atharva-veda only twice, the tree which is 
most characteristic of India, and shades with its wide- 
spreading foliage a larger area than any other tree on the 
face of the earth the Nyagrodha (" growing down- 
wards") or banyan (Ficus indicd). With its lofty dome 
of foliage impenetrable to the rays of the sun and sup- 
ported by many lesser trunks as by columns, this great 
tree resembles a vast temple of verdure fashioned by the 
hand of Nature. What the village oak is in England, that 
and much more is the banyan to the dwellers in the 
innumerable hamlets which overspread the face of agri- 
cultural India. 

Among wild animals, one of the most familiar to the 
poets of the Rigveda is the lion (simhd). They describe 
him as living in wooded mountains and as caught with 
snares, but the characteristic on which they chiefly dwell 
is his roaring. In the vast desert to the east of the Lower 
Sutlej and of the Indus, the only part of India suited for 
its natural habitat, the lion was in ancient times no doubt 
frequent, but he now survives only in the wooded hills 
to the south of the peninsula of Gujarat. The king of 
beasts has, however, remained conventionally familiar 
in Indian literature, and his old Sanskrit designation 
is still common in Hindu names in the form of Singh. 

The tiger is not mentioned in the Rigveda at all, its 
natural home being the swampy jungles of Bengal, 
though he is now found in all the jungly parts of India. 
But in the other Vedas he has decidedly taken the place 
of the lion, which is, however, still known. His dangerous 
character as a beast of prey is here often referred to. 
Thus the White Ydjurveda compares a peculiarly 
hazardous undertaking with waking a sleeping tiger ; 
and the Atharva-veda describes the animal as "man 


eating" (purushdd). The relation of the tiger to the 
lion in the Vedas therefore furnishes peculiarly interest- 
ing evidence of the eastward migration of the Aryans 
during the Vedic period. 

Somewhat similar is the position of the elephant. It 
is explicitly referred to in only two passages of the Rig- 
veda, and the form of the name applied to it, " the beast 
(inrigd) with a hand (hastin)" shows that the Rishis still 
regarded it as a strange creature. One passage seems to 
indicate that by the end of the Rigvedic period attempts 
were made to catch the animal. That the capture of 
wild elephants had in any case become a regular practice 
by 300 B.C. is proved by the evidence of Megasthenes. 
To the Atharva- and the Yajur-vedas the elephant is 
quite familiar, for it is not only frequently mentioned, 
but the adjective hastin, " possessing a hand" (i.e. trunk), 
has become sufficiently distinctive to be used by itself to 
designate the animal. The regular home of the elephant 
in Northern India is the Terai or lowland jungle at the 
foot of the Himalaya, extending eastward from about the 
longitude of Cawnpore. 

The wolf [vrikd) is mentioned more frequently in the 
Rigveda than the lion himself, and there are many refer- 
ences to the boar (yardhd), which was hunted with dogs. 
The buffalo (inahishd), in the tame as well as the wild 
state, was evidently very familiar to the poets, who 
several times allude to its flesh being cooked and eaten. 
There is only one reference to the bear (fiksha). The 
monkey (kapi) is only mentioned in a late hymn (x. 86), 
but in such a way as to show that the animal had already 
been tamed. The later and ordinary Sanskrit name for 
monkey, vdnara ("forest-animal"), has survived in the 
modern vernaculars, and is known to readers of Mr. 


Rudyard Kipling in the form of Bunder-log (" monkey- 

Among the domestic animals known to the Rigveda 
those of lesser importance are sheep, goats, asses, and 
dogs. The latter, it may be gathered, were used for 
hunting, guarding, and tracking cattle, as well as for 
keeping watch at night. Cattle, however, occupy the 
chief place. Cows were the chief form of wealth, and 
the name of the sacrificial " fee," Y dakshind, is properly an 
adjective meaning "right," "valuable," with the ellipse 
of go y " cow." No sight gladdened the eye of the Vedic 
Indian more than the cow returning from the pasture 
and licking her calf fastened by a cord ; no sound was more 
musical to his ear than the lowing of milch kine. To 
him therefore there was nothing grotesque in the poet 
exclaiming, "As cows low to their calves near the stalls, 
so we will praise Indra with our hymns," or " Like 
unmilked kine we have called aloud (lowed) to thee, O 
hero (Indra)." For greater security cows were, after 
returning from pasture, kept in stalls during the night 
and let out again in the morning. Though the cow- 
killer is in the White Yajurveda already said to be 
punishable with death, the Rigveda does not express an 
absolute prohibition, for the v/edding-hymn shows that 
even the cow was slaughtered on specially solemn occa- 
sions, while bulls are several times described as sacrificed 
to Indra in large numbers. Whilst the cows were out 
at pasture, bulls and oxen were regularly used for the 
purpose of ploughing and drawing carts. 

Horses came next in value to cattle, for wealth in 
steeds is constantly prayed for along with abundance of 
cows. To a people so frequently engaged in battle, 

1 German, vieh ; Latin, peats t from which pecicnia^ "money." 


the horse was of essential value in drawing the war- 
car ; he was also indispensable in the chariot-race, to 
which the Vedic Indian was devoted. He was, however, 
not yet used for riding. The horse-sacrifice, moreover, 
was regarded as the most important and efficacious of 
animal sacrifices. 

Of the birds of the Rigveda I need only mention 
those which have some historical or literary interest. 
The wild goose or swan (Jiamsa), so familiar to the 
classical poets, is frequently referred to, being said to 
swim in the water and to fly in a line. The curious 
power of separating soma from water is attributed to 
it in the White Yajurveda, as that of extracting milk 
from water is in the later poetry. The latter faculty 
belongs to the curlew (krunch), according to the same 

The chakravdka or ruddy goose, on the fidelity of 
which the post- Vedic poets so often dwell, is mentioned 
once in the Rigveda y the Acvins being said to come in 
the morning like a couple of these birds, while the 
Atharva-veda already refers to them as models of con- 
jugal love. Peahens (mayuri) are spoken of in the 
Rigveda as removing poison, and parrots (cuka) are 
alluded to as yellow. By the time of the Yajurveda 
the latter bird had been tamed, for it is there described 
as " uttering human speech." 

A good illustration of the dangers of the argumen- 
tum ex silentio is furnished by the fact that salt, the 
most necessary of minerals, is never once mentioned in 
the Rigveda, And yet the Northern Pan jab is the very 
part of India where it most abounds. It occurs in the 
salt range between the Indus and the Jhelum in such 
quantities that the Greek companions of Alexander, 

METALS i 5 i 

according to Strabo, asserted the supply to be sufficient 
for the wants of the whole of India. 

Among the metals, gold is the one most frequently 
mentioned in the Rigveda. It was probably for the 
most part obtained from the rivers of the north-west, 
which even at the present day are said to yield con- 
siderable quantities of the precious metal. Thus the 
Indus is spoken of by the poets as "golden" or 
"having a golden bed." There are indications that 
kings possessed gold in abundance. Thus one poet 
praises his royal benefactor for bestowing ten nuggets of 
gold upon him besides other bountiful gifts. Gold orna- 
ments of various kinds, such as ear-rings and armlets, 
are often mentioned. 

The metal which is most often referred to in the 
Rigveda next to gold is called ayas (Latin, aes). It is 
a matter of no slight historical interest to decide whether 
this signifies "iron" or not. In most passages where it 
occurs the word appears to mean simply "metal." In 
the few cases where it designates a particular metal, 
the evidence is not very conclusive ; but the inference 
which may be drawn as to its colour is decidedly in 
favour of its having been reddish, which points to 
bronze and not iron. The fact that the Atharva-veda 
distinguishes between "dark" ayas and "red," seems to 
indicate that the distinction between iron and copper or 
bronze had only recently been drawn. It is, moreover, 
well known that in the progress of civilisation the use 
of bronze always precedes that of iron. Yet it would 
be rash to assert that iron was altogether unknown 
even to the earlier Vedic age. It seems quite likely 
that the Aryans of that period were unacquainted with 
silver, for its name is not mentioned in the Rigveda, 


and the knowledge of silver goes hand in hand with 
that of iron, owing to the manner in which these 
metals are intermingled in the ore which produces 
them. These two metals, moreover, are not found in 
any quantity in the north-west of India. 

The evidence of the topography, the climate, and 
the products of the country thus shows that the people 
by whose poets the Rigveda was composed were settled 
in the north-west of India, from the Kabul to the 
Jumna. But they were still engaged in conflict with 
the aborigines, for many victories over them are re- 
ferred to. Thus Indra is said to have bound iooo or 
slain 30,000 of them for his allies. That the conquerors 
were bent on acquiring new territory appears from the 
rivers being frequently mentioned as obstacles to farther 
advance. The invaders, though split up into many 
tribes, were conscious of a unity of race and religion. 
They styled themselves Aryas or " kinsmen," as opposed 
to the aborigines, to whom they gave the name of 
Dasyu or Ddsa, "fiends," in later times also called 
anarya y or non-Aryans. The characteristic physical 
difference between the two races was that of colour 
(varna), the aborigines being described as " black " 
(krishnd) or " black-skins," and as the " Dasa colour," 
in contrast with the " Aryan colour" or "our colour." 
This contrast undoubtedly formed the original basis of 
caste, the regular name for which in Sanskrit is " colour." 

Those of the conquered race who did not escape to 
the hills and were captured became slaves. Thus one 
singer receives from his royal patron a hundred asses, 
a hundred sheep, and a hundred Dasas. The latter 
word in later Sanskrit regularly means servant or slave, 
much in the same way as " captive Slav" to the German 


came to mean "slave/' When thoroughly subjected, 
the original inhabitants, ceasing to be called Dasyus, 
became the fourth caste under the later name of (Judras. 
The Dasyus are described in the Rigveda as non-sacri- 
ficing, unbelieving, and impious. They are also doubt- 
less meant by the phallus-worshippers mentioned in 
two passages. The Aryans in course of time came to 
adopt this form of cult. There are several passages in 
the Mahdbhdrata showing that (^iva was already vene- 
rated under the emblem of the phallus when that epic 
was composed. Phallus-worship is widely diffused in 
India at the present day, but is most prevalent in the 
south. The Dasyus appear to have been a pastoral race, 
for they possessed large herds, which were captured 
by the victorious Aryans. They fortified themselves in 
strongholds (called pur), which must have been nume- 
rous, as Indra is sometimes said to have destroyed as 
many as a hundred of them for his allies. 

The Rigveda mentions many tribes among the Aryans. 
The most north-westerly of these are the Gandharis, 
who, judged by the way they are referred to, must have 
been breeders of sheep. They were later well known 
as Gandharas or Gandharas. The Atkarva-veda men- 
tions as contiguous to the Gandharis the Mujavats, a 
tribe doubtless settled close to Mount Mujavat ; evidently 
regarding these two as the extreme limit of the Aryan 
settlements to the north-west. 

The most important part, if not the whole, of the 
Indian Aryans is meant by the " five tribes^ an ex- 
pression of frequent occurrence in the Rigveda. It is 
not improbable that by this term were meant five tribes 
which are enumerated together in two passages, the 
\Purus, Turvacas, Yadus, Anus, and Druhyus. These 


are often mentioned as engaged in intertribal conflicts. 
Four of them, along with some other clans, are named 
as having formed a coalition under ten kings against 
Sudas, chief of the Tritsus. The opposing forces met 
on the banks of the ParushnI, where the great " battle 
of the ten kings" was fought. The coalition, in their 
endeavours to cross the stream and to deflect its course, 
were repulsed with heavy loss by the Tritsus. 

The Purus are described as living on both banks of 
the Sarasvatl. A part of them must, however, have 
remained behind farther west, as they were found on 
the ParushnI in Alexander's time. The Rigveda often 
mentions their king, Trasadasyu, son of Purukutsa, and 
speaks of his descendant Trikshi as a powerful prince. 
The Turvacas are one of the most frequently named 
of the tribes. With them are generally associated the 
Yadus, among whom the priestly family of the Kanvas 
seems to have lived. It is to be inferred from one passage 
of the Rigveda that the Anus were settled on the ParushnI, 
and the priestly family of the Bhrigus, it would appear, 
belonged to them. Their relations to the Druhyus seem 
to have been particularly close. The Matsyas, mentioned 
only in one passage of the Rigveda, were also foes of 
the Tritsus. In the Mahabharata we find them located 
on the western bank of the Yamuna. 

A more important name among the enemies of Sudas 
is that of the Bharatas. One hymn (iii. 33) describes 
them as coming to the rivers Vipac and Cutudrl accom- 
panied by Vicvamitra, who, as we learn from another 
hymn (iii. 53), had formerly been the chief priest of 
Sudas, and who now made the waters fordable for the 
Bharatas by his prayers. This is probably the occasion 
on which, according to another hymn (vii. 33), the 


Bharatas were defeated by Sudas and his Tritsus, who 
were aided by the invocations of Vasishtha, the successor 
and rival of Vicvamitra. The Bharatas appear to be 
specially connected with sacrificial rites in the Rigveda ; 
for Agni receives the epithet Bhdrata, "belonging to the 
Bharatas," and the ritual goddess Bharatl, frequently 
associated with SarasvatI, derives her name from them. 
In a hymn to Agni (iii. 23), mention is made of two 
Bharatas named Devacravas and Devavata who kindled 
the sacred fire on the Drishadvatl, the Apaya, and the 
SarasvatI, the very region which is later celebrated as 
the holy land of Brahmanism under the names of Brahma- 
varta and Kurukshetra. The family of the Kucikas, to 
whom Vicvamitra belonged, was closely connected with 
the Bharatas. 

The Tritsus appear to have been settled somewhere 
to the east of the ParushnI, on the left bank of which 
Sudas may be supposed to have drawn up his forces 
to resist the coalition of the ten kings attempting to 
cross the stream from the west. Five tribes, whose 
names do not occur later, are mentioned as allied with 
Sudas in the great battle. The Srinjayas were probably 
also confederates of the Tritsus, being, like the latter, 
described as enemies of the Turvacas. 

Of some tribes we learn nothing from the Rigveda 
but the name, which, however, survives till later times. 
Thus the Uclnaras, mentioned only once, were, at the 
period when the Aitareya Brdhmana was composed, 
located in the middle of Northern India ; and the Chedis, 
also referred to only once, are found in the epic age 
settled in Magadha (Southern Behar). Krivi, as a tribal 
name connected with the Indus and Asiknl, points to 
the north-west. In the Qatapatha Brdhmana it is stated 


to be the old name of the Panchalas, who inhabited the 
country to the north of the modern Delhi. 

The Atharva-veda mentions as remote tribes not only 
the Gandharis and Mujavats, but also the Magadhas 
(Behar) and the Angas (Bengal). We may therefore 
conclude that by the time that Veda was completed the 
Aryans had already spread to the Delta of the Ganges. 

The Panchalas are not mentioned in either Veda, and 
the name of the Kurus is only found there indirectly 
in two or three compounds or derivatives. They are 
first referred to in the White Yajurveda ; yet they are the 
two most prominent peoples of the Brahmana period. 
On the other hand, the names of a number of the most 
important of the Rigvedic tribes, such as the Purus, 
Turvacas, Yadus, Tritsus, and others, have entirely or 
practically disappeared from the Brahmanas. Even the 
Bharatas, though held in high regard by the composers 
of the Brahmanas, and set up by them as models of 
correct conduct, appear to have ceased to represent a 
political entity, for there are no longer any references 
to them in that sense, as to other peoples of the day. 
Their name, moreover, does not occur in the tribal 
enumerations of the Aitareya Brahmana and of Manu y 
while it is practically altogether ignored in the Buddhistic 

Such being the case, it is natural to suppose that the 
numerous Vedic tribes, under the altered conditions of 
life in vast plains, coalesced into nations with new names. 
Thus the Bharatas, to whom belonged the royal race of 
the Kurus in the epic, and from whom the very name 
of the Mahabharata } which describes the great war of the 
Kurus, is derived, were doubtless absorbed in what came 
to be called the Kuru nation. In the genealogical 


system of the Mahdbhdrata the Purus are brought into 
close connection with the Kurus. This is probably an 
indication that they too had amalgamated with the latter 
people. It is not unlikely that the Tritsus, whose name 
disappears after the Rigveda, also furnished one of the 
elements of the Kuru nation. 

As to the Panchalas, we have seen that they represent 
the old Krivis. It is, however, likely that the latter com- 
bined with several small tribes to make up the later 
nation. A Brahmana passage contains an indication that 
the Turvacas may have been one of these. Perhaps 
the Yadus, generally associated with the Turvacas in 
the Rigveda, were also one of them. The epic still pre- 
serves the name, in the patronymic form of Yadava, as 
that of the race in which Krishna was born. The name 
of the Panchalas itself (derived from pancha, five) seems 
to indicate that this people consisted of an aggregate of 
five elements. 

Some of the tribes mentioned in the Rigveda, how- 
ever, maintained their individual identity under their 
old names down to the epic period. These were the 
Uclnaras, Srinjayas, Matsyas, and Chedis. 

It is interesting to note that the Rigveda refers to a 
rich and powerful prince called Ikshvaku. In the epic 
this name recurs as that of a mighty king who ruled to 
the east of the Ganges in the city of Ayodhya (Oudh) 
and was the founder of the Solar race. 

It is clear from what has been said that the.Vedic 
Aryans were split up into numerous tribes, which, though 
conscious of their unity in race, language, and religion, 
had no political cohesion. They occasionally formed 
coalitions, it is true, but were just as often at war with 
one another. The tribe, in fact, was the political unit, 


organised much in the same way as the Afghans are at 
the present day, or the Germans were in the time of 
Tacitus. The tribe (jand) consisted of a number of 
settlements (vig) y which again were formed of an aggre- 
gate of villages (grama). The fighting organisation of 
the tribe appears to have been based on these divisions. 
The houses forming the village seem to have been built 
entirely of wood, as they still were in the time of 
Megasthenes. In the midst of each house the domestic 
fire burnt. For protection against foes or inundations, 
fortified enclosures (called pur) were made on emi- 
nences. They consisted of earthworks strengthened 
with a stockade, or occasionally with stone. There is 
nothing to show that they were inhabited, much less 
that pur ever meant a town or city, as it did in later 

The basis of Vedic society being the patriarchal 
family, the government of the tribe was naturally 
monarchical. The king (raja) was often hereditary. 
Thus several successive members of the same family are 
mentioned as rulers of the Tritsus and of the Purus. 
Occasionally, however, the king was elected by the 
districts (vig) of the tribe ; but whether the choice was 
then limited to members of the royal race, or was 
extended to certain noble families, does not appear. In 
times of peace the main duty of the king was to ensure 
the protection of his people. In return they rendered 
him obedience, and supplied him with voluntary gifts 
not fixed taxes for his maintenance. His power was by 
no means absolute, being limited by the will of the 
people expressed in the tribal assembly (samiti). As to 
the constitution and functions of the latter, we have 
unfortunately little or no information. In war, the king 


of course held the chief command. On important occa- 
sions, such as the eve of a battle, it was also his duty to 
offer sacrifice on behalf of his tribe, either performing 
the rites himself, or employing a priest to do so. 

Every tribe doubtless possessed a family of singers 
who attended the king, praising his deeds as well as 
composing hymns to accompany the sacrifice in honour 
of the gods. Depending on the liberality of their 
patrons, these poets naturally did not neglect to lay 
stress on the efficacy of their invocations, and on the 
importance of rewarding them well for their services. 
The priest whom a king appointed to officiate for him 
was called a purohita or domestic chaplain. Vasishtha 
occupied that position in the employ of King Sudas ; and 
in one of his hymns (vii. 33) he does not fail to point out 
that the victory of the Tritsus was due to his prayers. 
The panegyrics on liberal patrons contain manifest 
exaggerations, partly, no doubt, intended to act as an in- 
centive to other princes. Nevertheless, the gifts in gold, 
cows, horses, chariots, and garments bestowed by kings on 
their chief priests must often have been considerable, 
especially after important victories. Under the later 
Brahmanic hierarchy liberality to the priestly caste be- 
came a duty, while the amount of the sacrificial fee 
was fixed for each particular rite. 

The employment of Purohitas by kings as their sub- 
stitutes in the performance of sacrificial functions is to 
be regarded as the beginning and the oldest form of the 
priesthood in India. It became the starting-point of the 
historically unique hierarchical order in which the sacer- 
dotal caste occupied the supreme position in society, 
and the State was completely merged in the Church. 
Such, indeed, was the ideal of the Catholic Church in the 


West during the Middle Ages, but it never became an 
accomplished fact in Europe, as it did in India. No 
sooner had the priesthood become hereditary than the 
development of a caste system began, which has had no 
parallel in any other country. But during the period 
represented by Sudas and Vasishtha, in which the older 
portion of the Rigveda was composed, the priesthood 
was not yet hereditary, still less had the warrior and 
sacerdotal classes became transformed into castes among 
the Aryan tribes settled in the Panjab. This is confirmed 
by the fact that in the epic age the inhabitants of 
Madhyadega or Mid-land, where the Brahmanic caste 
system grew up, regarded the people of the north-west 
as semi-barbarians. 

In the simple social organisation of the Vedic tribes 
of this region, where occupations were but little diffe- 
rentiated, every man was a soldier as well a civilian, 
much as among the Afghans of to-day. As they moved 
farther to the east, society became more complex, and 
vocations tended to become hereditary. The popula- 
tion being now spread over wider tracts of territory, the 
necessity arose for something in the nature of a standing 
army to repel sudden attacks or quell risings of the 
subject aborigines. The nucleus would have been sup- 
plied by the families of the chiefs of lesser tribes which 
had amalgamated under some military leader. The agri- 
cultural 3nd industrial part of the population were thus 
left to follow their pursuits without interruption. Mean- 
while the religious ceremonial was increasing in com- 
plexity ; its success was growing more dependent on 
correct performance, while the preservation of the 
ancient hymns was becoming more urgent. The priests 
had, therefore, to devote all their time and energies 


to the carrying out of their religious duties and the 
handing down of the sacred tradition in their families. 

Owing to these causes, the three main classes of 
Aryan society became more and more separated. But 
how were they transformed into castes or social strata 
divided from one another by the impassable barriers 
of heredity and the prohibition of intermarrying or 
eating together ? This rigid mutual exclusiveness must 
have started, in the first instance, from the treatment of 
the conquered aborigines, who, on accepting the Aryan 
belief, were suffered to form a part of the Aryan polity 
in the capacity of a servile class. The gulf between the 
two races need not have been wider than that which at 
the present day, in the United States, divides the whites 
from the negroes. When the latter are described as 
men of " colour," the identical term is used which, in 
India, came to mean "caste." Having become heredi- 
tary, the sacerdotal class succeeded in securing a position 
of sanctity and inviolability which raised them above the 
rest of the Aryans as the latter were raised above the 
Dasas. When their supremacy was established, they 
proceeded to organise the remaining classes in the state 
on similar lines of exclusiveness. To the time when the 
system of the three Aryan castes, with the (Judras added 
as a fourth, already existed in its fundamental principles, 
belong the greater part of the independent portions of 
the Yajurveda, a considerable part of the Atharva-veda 
(most of books viii. to xiii.), but of the Rigveda, besides 
the one (x. 90) which distinctly refers to the four castes 
by name, only a few of the latest hymns of the first, 
eighth, and tenth books. The word brahmana, the 
regular name for " man of the first caste," is still rare in 
the Rigveda, occurring only eight times, while brahman. 


which simply means sage or officiating priest, is found 
forty-six times. 

We may now pass on to sketch rapidly the social 
conditions which prevailed in the period of the Rigveda. 
The family, in which such relationships as a wife's brother 
and a husband's brother or sister had special names, was 
clearly the foundation of society. The father was at its 
head as " lord of the house " (grihapati). Permission to 
marry a daughter was asked from him by the suitor 
through the mediation of an intimate friend. The wed- 
ding was celebrated in the house of the bride's parents, 
whither the bridegroom, his relatives, and friends came 
in procession. Here they were entertained with the 
flesh of cows slain in honour of the occasion. Here, 
too, the bridegroom took the bride's hand and led her 
round the nuptial fire. The Atliarva-veda adds that he 
set down a stone on the ground, asking the bride to step 
upon it for the obtainment of offspring. On the con- 
clusion of the wedding festivities, the bride, anointed and 
in festal array, mounted with her husband a car adorned 
with red flowers and drawn by two white bulls. On this 
she was conducted in procession to her new home. The 
main features of this nuptial ceremony of 3000 years 
ago> still survive in India. 
j Though the wife, like the children, was subject to the 
will of her husband, she occupied a position of greater 
honour in the age of the Rigveda than in that of the 
Brahmanas, for she participated with her husband in 
the offering of sacrifice. She was mistress of the 
house (grihapatnt) , sharing the control not only of 
servants and slaves, but also of the unmarried brothers 
and sisters of her husband. From the Yajurveda we 
learn that it was customary for sons and daughters 


to marry in the order of their age, but the Rigveda 
more than once speaks of girls who remained un- 
married and grew old in their father's house. As the 
family could only be continued in the male line, abun- 
dance of sons is constantly prayed for, along with wealth 
in cattle and land, and the newly wedded husband hopes 
that his bride may become a mother of heroes. Lack of 
sons was placed on the same level as poverty, and adop- 
tion was regarded as a mere makeshift. No desire for 
the birth of daughters is ever expressed in the Rigveda ; 
their birth is deprecated in the Atharva-veda, and the 
Yajurveda speaks of girls being exposed when born. 
Fathers, even in the earliest Vedic times, would doubtless 
have sympathised with the sentiment of the Aitareya 
Brahmana, that "to have a daughter is a misery." This 
prejudice survives in India to the present day with un- 
abated force. 

That the standard of morality was comparatively 
high may be inferred from the fact that adultery and 
rape were counted among the most serious offences, 
and illegitimate births were concealed. 

One or two passages indicate that the practice of 
exposing old men, found among many primitive peoples, 
was not unknown to the Rigveda. 

Among crimes, the commonest appears to have been 
robbery, which generally took the form of cattle-lifting, 
mostly practised at night. Thieves and robbers are often 
mentioned, and the Rigveda contains many prayers for 
protection at home, abroad, and on journeys. Such 
criminals, when caught, were punished by being tied to 
stakes with cords. Debts {rind) were often incurred, 
chiefly, it would seem, at play, and the Rigveda even 
speaks of paying them off by instalments. 


From the references to dress which the Rigveda 
contains we may gather that a lower garment and a 
cloak were worn. Clothes were woven of sheep's wool, 
were often variegated, and sometimes adorned with 
gold. Necklets, bracelets, anklets, and ear-rings are 
mentioned in the way of ornaments. The hair was 
anointed and combed. The Atharva-veda even men- 
tions a comb with a hundred teeth, and also speaks 
of remedies which strengthened or restored the growth 
of the hair. Women plaited their hair, while men occa- 
sionally wore it braided and wound like a shell. The 
gods Rudra and Pushan are described as being thus 
adorned ; and the Vasishthas, we learn, wore their hair 
braided on the right side of the head. On festive 
occasions wreaths were worn by men. Beards were 
usual, but shaving was occasionally practised. The 
Atharva-veda relates how, when the ceremony of shaving 
off his beard was performed on King Soma, Vayu 
brought the hot water and Savitri skilfully wielded the 

The chief article of food was milk, which was either 
drunk as it came from the cow or was used for cooking 
grain as well as mixing with soma. Next in importance 
came clarified butter (ghrita y no\v ghee) y which, as a favourite 
food of men, was also offered to the gods. Grain was 
eaten after being parched, or, ground to flour between 
millstones, was made into cakes with milk or butter. 
Various kinds of vegetables and fruit also formed part 
of the daily fare of the Vedic Indian. Flesh was eaten 
only on ceremonial occasions, when animals were sacri- 
ficed. Bulls being the chief offerings to the gods, beef 
was probably the kind of meat most frequently eaten. 
Horse-flesh must have been less commonly used, owing 


to the comparative rarity of the horse-sacrifice. Meat 
was either roasted on spits or cooked in pots. The 
latter were made of metal or earthenware ; but drinking- 
vessels were usually of wood. 

The Indians of the Rigveda were acquainted with 
at least two kinds of spirituous liquor. Soma was 
the principal one. Its use was, however, restricted to 
occasions of a religious character, such as sacrifices 
and festivals. The genuine soma plant from which 
it was made also became increasingly difficult to 
obtain as the Aryans moved farther away from the 
mountains. The spirit in ordinary use was called surd. 
The knowledge of it goes back to a remote period, for 
its name, like that of soma, is found in the Avesta in 
the form of hura. It was doubtless prepared from some 
kind of grain, like the liquor made from rice at the 
present day in India. Indulgence in surd went hand 
in hand with gambling. One poet mentions anger, dice, 
and surd as the causes of various sins ; while another 
speaks of men made arrogant with surd reviling the 
gods. Its use must have been common, for by the 
time of the Vdjasaneyi Samhitd y the occupation of a 
" maker of sura " (surdkdra) or distiller had become a 

One of the chief occupations of the Vedic Indians 
was of course warfare. They fought either on foot or 
on chariots. The latter had two occupants, the fighter 
and the driver. This was still the case in the Mahd- 
bhdrata f where we find Krishna acting as charioteer to 
Arjuna. Cavalry is nowhere mentioned, and probably 
came into use at a considerably later period. By the 
time of Alexander's invasion, however, it formed one 
of the regular four divisions of the Indian army. There 


are some indications that riding on horseback was at 
least known to the Rigveda, and distinct references to 
it occur in the Atharva- and the Yajur-vedas. The Vedic 
warriors were protected with coats of mail and helmets 
of metal. The principal weapons were the bow and 
arrow, the latter being tipped with poisoned horn or 
with a metal point. Spears and axes are also frequently 

The principal means of livelihood to the Vedic 
Indian was cattle-breeding. His great desire was to 
possess large herds ; and in the numerous prayers for 
protection, health, and prosperity, cattle are nearly 
always mentioned first. 

The Vedic Aryans were, however, not merely a 
pastoral people. They had brought with them from 
beyond the valleys of Afghanistan at least a primitive 
knowledge of agriculture, as is shown by the Indians 
and Iranians having such terms as " to plough " (krish) 
in common. This had, indeed, by the time of the 
Rigveda, become an industry second only to cattle- 
breeding in importance. The plough, which we learn 
from the Atharva-veda had a metal share, was used for 
making furrows in the fields, and was drawn by bulls. 
When the earth was thus prepared, seed was strewn 
over the soil. Irrigation seems not to have been un- 
known, as dug-out channels for water are mentioned. 
When ripe, the corn (yava) was cut with a sickle. It 
was then laid in bundles on the threshing-floor, where 
it was threshed out and finally sifted by winnowing. 

Though the Vedic Indians were already a pastoral 
and agricultural people, they still practised hunting to 
a considerable extent. The hunter pursued his game 
with bow and arrow, or used traps and snares. Birds 


were usually caught with toils or nets spread on the 
ground. Lions were taken in snares, antelopes secured 
in pits, and boars hunted with dogs. 

Navigation in Rigvedic times was, as we have already 
seen, limited to the crossing of rivers. The boats (called 
nau-s y Greek nau : s) were propelled by what were doubt- 
less paddles (aritra), and must have been of the most 
primitive type, probably dug-out tree-trunks. No men- 
tion is made of rudder or anchor, masts, or sails. 

Trade in those days consisted in barter, the cow 
being the pecuniary standard by which the value of 
everything was measured. The transition to coinage 
was made by the use of gold ornaments and jewelry 
as a form of reward or payment, as was the case among 
the ancient Germans. Thus nishka, which in the Rig* 
veda means a necklet, in later times became the name of 
a coin. 

Though the requirements of life in early Vedic times 
were still primitive enough to enable every man more 
or less to supply his own wants, the beginnings of vari- 
ous trades and industries can be clearly traced in the Rig- 
veda. References are particularly frequent to the labour 
of the worker in wood, who was still carpenter, joiner, 
and wheelwright in one. As the construction of chariots 
and carts required peculiar skill, we find that certain 
men already devoted themselves to it as a special art, 
and worked at it for pay. Hence felicity in the com- 
position of hymns is often compared with the dexterity 
of the wheelwright. Mention is also sometimes made 
of the smith who smelts the ore in a forge, using the 
wing of a bird instead of a bellows to produce a draught. 
He is described as making kettles as well as other 
domestic utensils of metal. The Rigveda also refers to 


tanners and the skins of animals prepared by them. 
Women, it appears, were acquainted with sewing and 
with the plaiting of mats from grass or reeds. An art 
much more frequently alluded to in metaphors and 
similes is that of weaving, but the references are so 
brief that we obtain no insight into the process. The 
Atharva-veda, however, gives some details in a passage 
which describes how Night and Day, personified as two 
sisters, weave the web of the year alternately with 
threads that never break or come to an end. The 
division of labour had been greatly developed by the 
time of the White Yajurveda, in which a great many 
trades and vocations are enumerated. Among these 
we find the rope-maker, the jeweller, the elephant- 
keeper, and the actor. 

Among the active and warlike Vedic Aryans the 
chariot-race was a favourite amusement, as is shown 
by the very metaphors which are borrowed from this 
form of sport. Though skilful driving was still a 
highly esteemed art in the epic period, the use of the 
chariot both for war and for racing gradually died out in 
Hindustan, partly perhaps owing to the enervating in- 
fluence of the climate, and partly to the scarcity of 
horses, which had to be brought from the region of 
the Indus. 

The chief social recreation of men when they met 
together was gambling with dice. The irresistible fasci- 
nation exercised, and the ruin often entailed by this 
amusement, we have already found described in the 
Gambler's Lament. Some haunted the gaming-hall to 
such an extent that we find them jocularly described 
in the Yajurveda as " pillars of the playhouse" {sabhd- 
sthdnii). No certain information can be gathered from 


the Rigveda as to how the game was played. We 
know, however, from one passage that four dice were 
used. The Yajurveda mentions a game played with 
five, each of which has a name. Cheating at play 
appears in the Rigveda as one of the most frequent of 
crimes ; and one poet speaks of dice as one of the 
chief sources of sinning against the ordinances of 
Varuna. Hence the word used in the Rigveda for 
" gamester" (kitavd) in classical Sanskrit came to mean 
"cheat," and a later word for "rogue" (dhurta) is used 
as a synonym of " gamester." 

Another amusement was dancing, which seems to have 
been indulged in by men as well as women. But when 
the sex of the dancers is distinctly referred to, they are 
nearly always maidens. Thus the Goddess of Dawn is 
compared to a dancer decked in gay attire. That 
dancing took place in the open air may be gathered 
from the line (x. 76, 6), " thick dust arose as from men 
who dance " {nrityatani). 

Various references in the Rigveda show that even 
in that early age the Indians were acquainted with dif- 
ferent kinds of music. For we find the three main 
types of percussion, wind, and stringed instruments 
there represented by the drum (dundubhi), the flute 
(vdna), and the lute (vznd). The latter has ever since 
been the favourite musical instrument of the Indians 
down to the present day. That the Vedic Indians were 
fond of instrumental music may be inferred from the 
statement of a Rishi that the sound of the flute is 
heard in the abode of Yama, where the blessed 
dwell. From one of the Sutras we learn that instru- 
mental music was performed at some religious rites, 
the vmd being played at the sacrifice to the Manes. 


By the time of the Yajurveda several kinds of profes- 
sional musicians appear to have arisen, for lute-players, 
drummers, flute-players, and conch-blowers are enume- 
rated in its list of callings. Singing is, of course, very 
often mentioned in the Rigveda. That vocal music had 
already got beyond the most primitive stage may be 
concluded from the somewhat complicated method of 
chanting the Sdmaveda, a method which was probably 
very ancient, as the Soma ritual goes back to the Indo- 
Iranian age. 



F the three later Vedas, the Sdmaveda is much the 
most closely connected with the Rigveda. Historically 
it is of little importance, for it contains hardly any inde- 
pendent matter, all its verses except seventy-five being 
taken directly from the Rigveda. Its contents are derived 
chiefly from the eighth and especially the ninth, the Soma 
book. The Sdmaveda resembles the Yajurveda in having 
been compiled exclusively for ritual application ; for the 
verses of which it consists are all meant to be chanted 
at the ceremonies of the soma sacrifice. Removed from 
their context in the Rigveda y they are strung together 
without internal connection, their significance depend- 
ing solely on their relation to particular rites. In form 
these stanzas appear in the text of the Sdmaveda as 
if they were to be spoken or recited, differing from 
those of the Rigveda only in the way of marking the 
accent. (The Sdmaveda is, therefore, only the book 
of words employed by the special class of Ugatri priests 
at the soma sacrifice.) Its stanzas assume their proper 
character of musical Sdmans or chants only in the 
various song-books called gdnas, which indicate the 
prolongation, the repetition, and the interpolation of 
syllables necessary in singing, just as is often done in 
European publications when the words are given below 
the musical notation. There are four of these song- 


books in existence, two belonging to each division of 
the Veda. The number of Sdmaiis here given of course 
admitted of being indefinitely increased, as each verse 
could be sung to many melodies. 

The Sdmaveda consists of 1549 stanzas, distributed in 
two books called drchikas or collections of rich verses. 
The principle of arrangement in these two books is dif- 
ferent. The first is divided into six lessons (firapdthaka), 
each of which contains ten decades (dagai) of stanzas, ex- 
cept the sixth, which has only nine. The verses of the first 
twelve decades are addressed to Agni, those of the last 
eleven to Soma, while those of the intermediate thirty- 
six are chiefly invocations of Indra, the great soma- 
drinker. The second book contains nine lessons, each of 
which is divided into two, and sometimes three sections. 
It consists throughout of small groups of stanzas, which, 
generally three in number, are closely connected, the 
first in the group being usually found in the first book 
also. That the second book is both later in date and 
secondary in character is indicated by its repeating 
stanzas from the first book as well as by its deviating 
much less from the text of the Rigveda. It is also a 
significant fact in this connection that the verses of the 
first book which recur in the second agree more closely 
with the readings of the Rigveda than the other verses by 
which they are surrounded. This can only be accounted 
for by the supposition that they were consciously altered 
in order to accord with the same verses in the second 
book which were directly influenced by the Rigveda, 
while the readings of the first book had diverged more 
widely because that book had been handed down, since 
the original borrowing, by an independent tradition. 

We know from statements of the ^atapatha Brdhmana 


that the divisions of the first book of the Sdmaveda 
existed at least as early as the period when the second 
part of that Brahmana was composed. There is, more- 
over, some reason to believe that the Sdmaveda as a 
collection is older than at least the Taittirlya and the 
Vdjasaneyi recensions of the Yajurveda. For the latter 
contain verses, used also as Sdman chants, in a form which 
shows the variations of the Sdmaveda in contrast with 
the Rigveda. This is all the more striking as the Vaja- 
saneyi text has an undoubted tendency to adhere to the 
readings of the Rigveda. On the other hand, the view 
expressed by Professor Weber that numerous variants in 
verses of the Sdmaveda contain archaic forms as com- 
pared with the Rigveda, and were therefore borrowed at 
a time before the existing redaction of the Rigveda took 
place, has been shown to be untenable. The various 
readings of the Sdmaveda are really due in part to 
inferior tradition, and in part to arbitrary alterations 
made in order to adapt verses detached from their 
context to the ritual purpose to which they were applied. 
Two schools of the Sdmaveda are known the 
Kauthumas and the Ranayanlyas, the former of whom 
are said still to exist in Gujarat, while the latter, at one 
time settled mainly in the Mahratta country, are said to 
survive in Eastern Hyderabad. Their recensions of the 
text appear to have differed but little from each other. 
That of the Ranayanlyas has been published more than 
once. The earliest edition, brought out by a missionary 
named Stevenson in 1842, was entirely superseded by the 
valuable work of Benfey, which, containing a German 
translation and glossary besides the text, came out in 
1848. The Sdmaveda was thus the first of the Vedas to be 
edited in its entirety. The text of this Veda, according to 


the recension of the same school, together with the com- 
mentary of Sayana, was subsequently edited in India. 
Of the Kauthuma recension nothing has been preserved 
excepting the seventh prapdthaka, which, in the Naigeya 
subdivision of this school, forms an addition to the first 
drchika, and was edited in 1868. Two indices of the 
deities and composers of the Sdmaveda according to 
the Naigeya school have also been preserved, and 
indirectly supply information about the text of the 
Kauthuma recension. 

(The Yajurveda introduces us not only to a geogra- 
phical area different from that of the Rigveda, but also 
to a new epoch of religious and social life in India>) The 
centre of Vedic civilisation is now found to lie farther to 
the east. We hear no more of the Indus and its tribu- 
taries ; for the geographical data of all the recensions of the 
Yajurveda point to the territory in the middle of Northern 
India occupied by the neighbouring peoples of the Kurus 
and Panchalas. The country of the former, called Kuru- 
kshetra, is specifically the holy land of the Yajui'vedas 
and of the Brahmanas attached to them. It lay in the 
plain between the Sutlej and the Jumna, beginning with 
the tract bounded by the two small rivers DrishadvatI 
and SarasvatI, and extending south-eastwards to the 
Jumna. It corresponds to the modern district of 
Sirhind. Closely connected with, and eastward of this 
region, was situated the land of the Panchalas, which, 
running south-east from the Meerut district to Allahabad, 
embraces the territory between the Jumna and the 
Ganges called the Doab ("Two Waters"). Kurukshetra 
was the country in which the Brahmanic religious and 
social system was developed, and from which it spread 
over the rest of India. It claims a further historical 


interest as being in later times the scene of the conflict, 
described in the Mahdbhdrata, between the Panchalas 
and Matsyas on the one hand, and the Kurus, including 
the ancient Bharatas, on the other. In the famous law- 
book of Manu the land of the Kurus is still regarded 
with veneration as the special home of Brahmanism, and 
as such is designated Brahmavarta. Together with the 
country of the Panchalas, and that of their neighbours 
to the south of the Jumna, the Matsyas (with Mathura, 
now Muttra, as their capital) and the (Jurasenas, it is 
spoken of as the land of Brahman sages, where the 
bravest warriors and the most pious priests live, and the 
customs and usages of which are authoritative. 

Here the adherents of the Yajurveda split up into 
several schools, which gradually spread over other parts 
of India, the Kathas, with their subdivision the Kapi- 
shthalas, being in the time of the Greeks located in the 
Panjab, and later in Kashmir also. The Kathas are now 
to be found in Kashmir only, while the Kapishthalas have 
entirely disappeared. The Maitrayanlyas, originally called 
Kalapas, appear at one time to have occupied the region 
around the lower course of the Narmada for a distance 
of some two hundred miles from the sea, extending to the 
south of its mouth more than a hundred miles, as far as 
Nasik, and northwards beyond the modern city of Baroda. 
There are now only a few remnants of this school to the 
north of the Narmada in Gujarat, chiefly at Ahmedabad, 
and farther west at Morvi. Before the beginning of our 
era these two ancient schools must have been very 
widely diffused in India. For the grammarian Patanjali 
speaks of the Kathas and Kalapas as the universally 
known' schools of the Yajurveda, whose doctrines were 
proclaimed in every village. From the Rdmdyana, more- 


over, we learn that these two schools were highly hon- 
oured in Ayodhya (Oudh) also. They were, however, 
gradually ousted by the two younger schools of the 
Yajurveda. Of these, the Taittiriyas have been found 
only to the south of the Narmada, where they can be 
traced as far back as the fourth century A.D. Their most 
important subdivision, that of the Apastambas, still sur- 
vives in the territory of the Godavarl, while another, the 
Hiranyakeeins, are found still farther south. The school 
of the Vajasaneyins spread towards the south-east, down 
the Ganges Valley. At the present day they occupy a 
wide area, embracing North-East and Central India. 

Each of these four schools has preserved one or two 
recensions of the Yajurveda. The text of the Maitra- 
yanl Samhita, which consists of four books (kdnda), sub- 
divided into fifty-four lessons (prapathaka), has been 
edited by Professor L. v. Schroeder (1881-86). The 
same scholar is preparing an edition of the Kathaka 
Samhita, the recension of the Katha school. These two 
recensions are nearly related in language, having many 
forms in common which are not found elsewhere. Of 
the K apis hthala- Katha Samhita only somewhat corrupt 
fragments have hitherto come to light, and it is very 
doubtful whether sufficient manuscript material will ever 
be discovered to render an edition of this text possible. 
The Taittirlya Samhita, which comprises seven books, 
and is subdivided into forty-four lessons, is somewhat 
later in origin than the above-mentioned recensions. It 
was edited by Professor A. Weber in 1871-72. These 
texts of the Yajurveda form a closely connected group, 
for they are essentially the same in character. Their 
agreement is often even verbal, especially in th verses 
and formulas for recitation which they contain. They 


also agree in arranging their matter according to a 
similar principle, which is different from that of the 
Vdjasaneyi recension. 

The Samhitd of the latter consists entirely of the verses 
and formulas to be recited at the sacrifice, and is there- 
fore clear (cukla), that is to say, separated from the ex- 
planatory matter which is collected in the Brahmana. 
Hence it is called the White (cukla) Yajurveda, while the 
others, under the general name of Black (krishnd) Yajur- 
veda y are contrasted with it, as containing both kinds of 
matter mixed up in the Samhitd. The text of the Vaja- 
saneyins has been preserved in two recensions, that of 
the Madhyamdinas and of the Kanvas. These are almost 
identical in their subject-matter as well as its arrange- 
ment. Their divergences hardly go beyond varieties of 
reading, which, moreover, appear only in their prose 
formulas, not in their verses. Agreeing thus closely, they 
cannot be separated in their origin by any wide interval 
of time. Their discrepancies probably arose rather from 
geographical separation, since each has its own peculiari- 
ties of spelling. The White Yajurveda in both these re- 
censions has been edited by Professor Weber (1849-52). 

It is divided into forty chapters, called adhydyas. 
That it originally consisted of the first eighteen alone 
is indicated by external as well as internal evidence. 
This is the only portion containing verses and prose 
formulas (both having the common name of mantras) 
which recur in the Taittirlya Samhitd } the sole exceptions 
being a few passages relating to the horse-sacrifice in 
chapters 22-25. Otherwise the contents of the last 
twenty-two chapters are found again only in the Brah- 
mana and the Aranyaka belonging to the Taittirlya 
Samhitd. Moreover, it is only the mantras of the first 


eighteen chapters of the Vdjasaneyi Samhitd which are 
quoted and explained word by word in the first nine 
books of its own Brahmana, while merely a few mantras 
from the following seventeen chapters are mentioned in 
that work. According to the further testimony of an 
ancient index of the White Yajurveda, attributed to 
Katyayana, the ten chapters 26-35 fo rm a supplement 

The internal evidence of the Vdjasaneyi Samhitd 
leads to similar conclusions. The fact that chapters 
26-29 contain mantras relating to ceremonies dealt 
with in previous chapters and requiring to be applied 
to those ceremonies, is a clear indication of their sup- 
plementary character. The next ten chapters (30-39) 
are concerned with altogether new ceremonies, such 
as the human sacrifice, the universal sacrifice, and the 
sacrifice to the Manes. Lastly, the 40th chapter must 
be a late addition, for it stands in no direct relation to 
the ritual and bears the character of an Upanishad. Dif- 
ferent parts of the Samhitd, moreover, furnish some data 
pointing to different periods of religious and social 
development. In the 16th chapter the god Rudra is 
described by a large number of epithets which are 
subsequently peculiar to (Jiva. Two, however, which 
are particularly significant, Icdna, " Ruler," and Mahd- 
deva, ' Great God," are absent here, but are added in 
the 39th chapter. These, as indicating a special wor- 
ship of the god, represent a later development. Again, 
the 30th chapter specifies most of the Indian mixed 
castes, while the 16th mentions only a few of them. 
Hence, it is likely that at least some which are known 
to the former chapter did not as yet exist when the 
latter was composed. 


On these grounds four chronological strata may be 
distinguished in the White Yajurveda. To the funda- 
mental portion, comprising chapters 1-18, the next 
seven must first have been added, for these two parts 
deal with the general sacrificial ceremonial. The deve- 
lopment of the ritual led to the compilation of the next 
fourteen chapters, which are concerned with ceremonies 
already treated (26-29) or entirely new (30-39). The 
last chapter apparently dates from a period when the 
excessive growth of ritual practices led to a reaction. 
It does not supply sacrificial mantras, but aims at estab- 
lishing a mean between exclusive devotion to and total 
neglect of the sacrificial ceremonies. 

(_Even the original portion of the White Yajurveda 
must have assumed shape somewhat later than any of 
the recensions of the BlacE>> For the systematic and 
orderly distribution of matter by which the mantras are 
collected in the Sainhitd, while their dogmatic explana- 
tion is entirely relegated to a Brahmana, can hardly 
be as old as the confused arrangement in which both 
parts are largely mixed up. 

The two most important portions of the Yajurvedas 
deal with the new and full moon sacrifices, as well as 
the soma sacrifice, on the one hand, and with the con- 
struction of the fire-altar on the other. Chapters 1-1 
of the White Yajurveda contain the mantras for the 
former, chapters 11-18 those for the latter part of the 
ceremonial. The corresponding ritual explanations are 
to be found in books 1-5 and 6-9 respectively of the 
Qatapatha Brahmana. In these fundamental portions 
even the Black Yajurveda does not intermingle the 
mantras with their explanations. The first book of the 
Taittiriya Samhitd contains in its first four lessons 


nothing but the verses and formulas to be recited at the 
fortnightly and the soma sacrifices ; the fourth book, no- 
thing but those employed in the fire-altar ritual. These 
books follow the same order as, and in fact furnish a 
parallel recension of, the corresponding parts of the 
Vdjasaneyi Samhitd. On the other hand, the Taittiriya 
Samhitd contains within itself, but in a different part, 
the two corresponding Brahmanas, which, on the whole, 
are free from admixture with mantras. The fifth book 
is the Brahmana of the fire ritual, and the sixth is that 
of the soma sacrifice ; but the dogmatic explanation of 
the new and full moon sacrifice is altogether omitted 
here, being found in the third book of the Taittiriya 
Brahmana. In the Maitrdyani Samhitd the distribu- 
tion of the corresponding material is similar. The first 
three lessons of the first book contain the mantras only 
for the fortnightly and the soma sacrifices ; the latter 
half of the second book (lessons 7-13), the mantras only 
for the fire ritual. The corresponding Brahmanas begin 
with the sixth and the first lesson respectively of the 
third book. It is only in the additions to these funda- 
mental parts of the Black Yajurveda that the separation 
of Mantra and Brahmana is not carried out. The main 
difference, then, between the Black and the White con- 
sists in the former combining within the same collection 
Brahmana as well as Mantra matter. As to its chief 
and fundamental parts, there is no reason to suppose 
that these two kinds of matter, which are kept separate 
and unmixed, are either chronologically or essentially 
more nearly related than are the Vdjasaneyi Samhitd and 
the (^atapatha Brahmana. 

The Yajurveda resembles the Sdmaveda in having 
been compiled for application to sacrificial rites only. 


But while the Sdmaveda deals solely with one part of 
the ritual, the soma sacrifice, the Yajurveda supplies 
the formulas for the whole sacrificial ceremonial. Like 
the Sdmaveda, it is also connec1%d with the Rigveda; 
but while the former is practically altogether extracted 
from the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, though borrowing 
many of its verses from the same source, is largely an 
original production. Thus somewhat more than one- 
fourth only of the Vajasaneyi Samhita is derived from the 
Rigveda. One half of this collection consists of verses 
(rich) most of which (upwards of 700) are found in the 
Rigveda; the other half is made up of prose formulas 
(yajus). The latter, as well as the verses not borrowed 
from the Rigveda, are the independent creation of the 
composers of the Yajurveda. This partial originality was 
indeed a necessary result of the growth of entirely new 
ceremonies and the extraordinary development of ritual 
detail. It became impossible to obtain from the Rigveda 
even approximately suitable verses for these novel re- 

The language of the Mantra portion of the Yajur- 
veda, though distinctly representing a later stage, yet 
on the whole agrees with that of the Rigveda, while 
separated from that of classical Sanskrit by a consider- 
able interval. 

(On its mythological side the religion of the Yajur- 
veda does not differ essentially from that of the older 
Veda ; for the pantheon is still the same. Some impor- 
tant modifications in detail are, however, apparent. The 
figure of Prajapati, only foreshadowed in the latest hymns 
of the Rigveda, comes more and more into the fore- 
ground as the chief of the godsXThe Rudra of the 
Rigveda has begun to appear on the > scene as Civa, being 


several times mentioned by that name as well as by other 
epithets later peculiar to (^iva, such as (Jankara and 
Mahadeva. Vishnu now occupies a somewhat more 
prominent position thh in the Rigveda. A new feature 
is his constant identification with the sacrifice. The 
demons, now regularly called Asuras, perpetually appear 
as a group of evil beings opposed to the good gods. 
Their conflicts with the latter play a considerable part in 
the myths of the Yajurveda. The Apsarases, who, as a 
class of celestial nymphs endowed with all the seductive 
charms of female beauty, occupy so important a place 
in post-Vedic mythology, but are very rarely mentioned 
in the Rigveda, begin to be more prominent in the 
Yajurveda, in which many of them are referred to by 
individual names. ^ 

Certain religious conceptions have, moreover, been 
modified and new rites introduced. Thus the word 
brahma, which in the Rigveda meant simply " devo- 
tion," has come to signify the essence of prayer and 
holiness, an advance towards its ultimate sense in 
the Upanishads. Again, snake-worship, which is un- 
known to the Rigveda, now appears as an element 
in Indian religion. That, however, which impresses 
on the Yajurveda the stamp of a new epoch is the 
character of the worship which it represents. The 
relative importance of the gods and of the sacrifice in 
the older religion has now become inverted. In the 
Rigveda the object of devotion was the gods, for the 
power of bestowing benefits on mankind was believed to 
lie in their hands alone, while the sacrifice was only a 
means of influencing their will in favour of the offerer. 
In the Yajuweda the sacrifice itself has become the 
centre of thought and desire, its correct performance in 


every detail being all-important, (its power is now so 
great that it not merely influences, but compels the gods 
to do the will of the officiating priest^) By means of it 
the Brahmans may, in fact, be said to hold the gods in 
their hands. 

The religion of the Yajurveda may be described 
as a kind of mechanical sacerdotalism. A crowd of 
priests conducts a vast and complicated system of 
external ceremonies, to which symbolical significance 
is attributed, and to the smallest minutiae of which 
the greatest weight is attached. In this stifling atmos- 
phere of perpetual sacrifice and ritual, the truly religious 
spirit of the Rigveda could not possibly survive. Adora- 
tion of the power and beneficence of the gods, as well 
as the consciousness of guilt, is entirely lacking, every 
prayer being coupled with some particular rite and 
aiming solely at securing material advantages. As a 
natural result, the formulas of the Yajurveda are full of 
dreary repetitions or variations of the same idea, and 
abound with half or wholly unintelligible interjections, 
particularly the syllable om. The following quotation 
from the Maitrdyani Samhitd is a good example : 
Nidhdyo vd nidhdyo vd om vd om vd om vd e ai om 
svarnajyotih. Here only the last word, which means 
"golden light," is translatable. 

Thus the ritual could not fail to become more 
and more of a mystery to all who did not belong 
to the Brahman caste. To its formulas, no less than 
to the sacrifice itself, control over Nature as well as 
the supernatural powers is attributed. Thus there are 
certain formulas for the obtainment of victory ; by 
means of these, it is said, Indra constantly vanquished 
the demons. Again, we learn that, if the priest pro- 


nounces a formula for rain while mixing a certain 
offering, he causes the rain to stream down. Hence 
the formulas are regarded as having a kind of magical 
effect by exercising compulsion. Similar miraculous 
powers later came to be attached to penance and asceti- 
cism among the Brahmans, and to holiness among the 
Buddhists. The formulas of the Yajurveda have not, as 
a rule, the form of prayers addressed to the gods, but 
on the whole and characteristically consist of statements 
about the result of employing particular rites and 
mantras. Together with the corresponding ritual they 
furnish a complex mass of appliances ready to hand 
for the obtainment of material welfare in general as 
well as all sorts of special objects, such as cattle or a 
village. The presence of a priest capable of using the 
necessary forms correctly is of course always presup- 
posed. The desires which several rites are meant to 
fulfil amount to nothing more than childish absurdity. 
Thus some of them aim at the obtainment of the year. 
Formulas to secure possession of the moon would have 
had equal practical value. 

Hand in hand with the elaboration of the sacrificial 
ceremonial went the growth and consolidation of the 
caste system, in which the Brahmans secured the social 
as well as the religious supremacy, and which has held 
India enchained for more than two thousand five hundred 
years. Not only do we find the four castes firmly 
established as the main divisions of Indian society in 
the Yajurveda y but, as one of the later books of the 
Vajasaneyi Samhitd shows, most of the mixed castes 
known in later times are already found to exist. The 
social as well as the religious conditions of the Indian 
people, therefore, now wear an aspect essentially dif- 


fering from those revealed to us in the hymns of the 

The Rig-, Sdma- 1 and Yajur-vedas alone were origin- 
ally recognised as canonical collections. For they only 
were concerned with the great sacrificial ceremonial. 
(The A tharva-veda, w ith the exception of the last book, 
which was obviously added in order to connect it with 
that ceremonial, is essentially unconnected with iO 
The ceremonial to which its hymns were practically 
applied is, with few exceptions, that with which the 
Grihya Sutras deal, being domestic rites such as those 
of birth, marriage, and death, or the political rites re- 
lating to the inauguration of kings. Taken as a whole, 
it is a heterogeneous collection of spells. Its most 
salient teaching is sorcery, for it is mainly directed 
against hostile agencies, such as diseases, noxious 
animals, demons, wizards, foes, oppressors of Brah- 
mans. But it also contains many spells of an auspi- 
cious character, such as charms to secure harmony in 
family and village life, reconciliation of enemies, long 
life, health, and prosperity, besides prayers for protection 
on journeys, and for luck in gambling. (Thus it has a 
double aspect, being meant to appease cTnd bless as 
,well as to curse^ 

In its main contents the Atharva-veda is more 
superstitious than the Rigveda, (For it does not re- 
present the more advanced religious beliefs of the 
priestly class, but is a collection of the most popular 
spells current among the masseV who always preserve 
more primitive notions with regard to demoniac powers. 
The spirit which breathes in it is that of a prehistoric 
age. A few of its actual charms probably date with 
little modification from the Indo-European period; 


for, as Adalbert Kuhn has shown, some of its spells 
for curing bodily ailments agree in purpose and con- 
tent, as well as to some extent even in form, with 
certain old German, Lettic, and Russian charms. But 
with regard to the higher religious ideas relating to 
the gods, it represents a more recent and advanced 
stage than the Rigveda. It contains, indeed, more 
theosophic matter than any of the other Samhitas. For 
the history of civilisation it is on the whole more in- 
teresting and important than the Rigveda itself. 

The Atharva-veda is extant in the recensions of two 
different schools. That of the Paippaladas is, however, 
known in a single birch-bark manuscript, which is 
ancient but inaccurate and mostly unaccented. It was 
discovered by Professor Biihler in Kashmir, and has 
been described by Professor Roth in his tract Der 
Atharuaveda in Kaschmir (1875). It will probably soon 
be accessible to scholars in the form of a photogra- 
phic reproduction published by Professor Bloomfield. 
This recension is doubtless meant by the " Paippalada 
Mantras " mentioned in one of the Paricishtas or supple- 
mentary writings of the Atharva-veda. 

The printed text, edited by Roth and Whitney in 
1856, gives the recension of the (^aunaka school. Nearly 
the whole of Sayana's commentary to the Atharva-veda 
has been edited in India. Its chief interest lies in the 
large number of readings supplied by it which differ 
from those of the printed edition of this Veda. 

This Samhita is divided into twenty books, contain- 
ing 730 hymns and about 6000 stanzas. Some 1200 of 
the latter are derived from the Rigveda, chiefly from 
the tenth, first, and eighth books, a few also from each 
of the other books. Of the 143 hymns of Book XX., 


all but twelve are taken bodily from the established 
text of the Rigveda without any change. The matter 
borrowed from the Rigveda in the other books shows 
considerable varieties of reading, but these, as in the 
other Samhitas, are of inferior value compared with the 
text of the Rigveda. As is the case in the Yajurveda, 
a considerable part of the Atharva (about one-sixth) con- 
sists of prose. Upwards of fifty hymns, comprising the 
whole of the fifteenth and sixteenth, besides some thirty 
hymns scattered in the other books, are entirely un- 
metrical. Parts or single stanzas of over a hundred 
other hymns are of a similar character. 

That the Atharva-veda originally consisted of its first 
thirteen books only is shown both by its arrangement 
and by its subject-matter. The contents of Books I- 
VII. are distributed according to the number of stanzas 
contained in the hymns. In Book I. they have on the 
average four stanzas, in II. five, in III. six, in IV. seven, 
in V. eight to eighteen, in VI. three ; and in VII. about 
half the hymns have only one stanza each. Books 
VIII. XIII. contain longer pieces. The contents of all 
these thirteen books are indiscriminately intermingled. 

The following five books, on the contrary, are arranged 
according to uniformity of subject-matter. Book XIV. 
contains the stanzas relating to the wedding rite, which 
consist largely of mantras from the tenth book of the 
Rigveda. Book XV. is a glorification of the Supreme 
Being under the name of Vratya, while XVI. and XVII. 
contain certain conjurations. The whole of XV. and 
nearly the whole of XVI., moreover, are composed in 
prose of the type found in the Brahmanas. Both XVI. 
and XVII. are very short, the former containing nine 
hymns occupying four printed pages, the latter consist- 


ing of only a single hymn, which extends to little more 
than two pages. Book XVIII. deals with burial and 
the Manes. Like XIV., it derives most of its stanzas 
from the tenth book of the Rigveda. Both these books 
are, therefore, not specifically Atharvan in character. 

The last two books are manifestly late additions. 
Book XIX. consists of a mixture of supplementary 
pieces, part of the text of which is rather corrupt. 
Book XX., with a slight exception, contains only com- 
plete hymns addressed to Indra, which are borrowed 
directly and without any variation from the Rigveda. 
The fact that its readings are identical with those of 
the Rigveda would alone suffice to show that it is of 
later date than the original books, the readings of 
which show considerable divergences from those of the 
older Veda. There is, however, more convincing proof 
of the lateness of this book. Its matter relates to 
the Soma ritual, and is entirely foreign to the spirit 
of the Atharva-veda. It was undoubtedly added to 
establish the claim of the Atharva to the position of a 
fourth Veda, by bringing it into connection with the 
recognised sacrificial ceremonial of the three old Vedas. 
This book, again, as well . as the nineteenth, is not 
noticed in the Praticakhya of the Atharva-veda. Both 
of them must, therefore, have been added after that 
work was composed. Excepting two prose pieces (48 
and 49) the only original part of Book XX. is the 
so-called kuntapa hymns (127-136). These are allied to 
the ddnastutis of the Rigveda, those panegyrics of liberal 
kings or sacrificers which were the forerunners of epic 
narratives in praise of warlike princes and heroes. 

The existence of the Atharva y as a collection of 
some kind, when the last books of the Qatapatha Brah- 


mana (xi., xiii., xiv.), the Taittirlya Brdhmana, and the 
Chhdndogya Upanishad were composed, is proved by the 
references to it in those works. In Patanjali's Mahd- 
bJidshya the Atharva had already attained to such an 
assured position that it is even cited at the head of the 
Vedas, and occasionally as their only representative. 

The oldest name of this Veda is Atharvdngirasah, a 
designation occurring in the text of the Atharva-veda, 
and found at the beginning of its MSS. themselves. This 
word is a compound formed of the names of two ancient 
families of priests, the Atharvans and Angirases. In the 
opinion of Professor Bloomneld the former term is here 
synonymous with " holy charms/' as referring to auspi- 
cious practices, while the latter is an equivalent of 
" witchcraft charms." The term atharvan and its deriva- 
tives, though representing only its benevolent side, would 
thus have come to designate the fourth Veda as a whole. 
In its plural form {atharvdnaJt) the word in this sense is 
found several times in the Brahmanas, but in the singular 
it seems first to occur in an Upanishad. The adjective 
dtharvana, first found as a neuter plural with the sense 
of "Atharvan hymns" in the Atharva-veda itself (Book 
XIX.), is common from that time onwards. The name 
atharva-veda first appears in Sutras about as early as 
rigveda and similar designations of the other Samhitas. 
There are besides two other names of the Atharva-veda, 
the use of which is practically limited to the ritual texts 
of this Veda. In one of these, Bhrigu-angirasah, the 
name of another ancient family of fire-priests, the 
Bhrigus, takes the place of that of the Angirases. The 
other, brahma-veda y has outside the Atharvan literature 
only been found once, and that in a Grihya Sutra of the 


A considerable time elapsed before the Atharva-veda, 
owing to the general character of its contents, attained 
to the rank of a canonical book. There is no evidence 
that even at the latest period of the Rigveda the charms 
constituting the Atharva-veda were formally recognised 
as a separate literary category. For the Purusha hymn, 
while mentioning the three sacrificial Vedas by the names 
of Rik, Saman, and Yajus, makes no reference to the 
spells of the Atharva-veda. Yet the Rigveda, though it 
is mainly concerned with praises of the gods in con- 
nection with the sacrifice, contains hymns showing 
that sorcery was bound up with domestic practices from 
the earliest times in India. The only reference to the 
spells of the Atharva-veda as a class in the Yajurvedas 
is found in the Taittirlya Samhita, where they are alluded 
to under the name of angirasah by the side of Rik, 
Saman, and Yajus, which it elsewhere mentions alone. 
Yet the formulas of the Yajur-veda are often pervaded 
by the spirit of the Atharva-veda, and are sometimes 
Atharvan even in their wording. In fact, the difference 
between the Rigveda and Yajurveda on the one hand, 
and the Atharva on the other, as regards sorcery, lies 
solely in the degree of its applicability and prominence. 

The Atharva-veda itself only once mentions its own 
literary type directly (as atharvangirasaJi) and once in- 
directly (as bheshaja or "auspicious spells"), by the side 
of the other three Vedas, while the latter in a consider- 
able number of passages are referred to alone. This' 
shows that as yet there was no feeling of antagonism 
between the adherents of this Veda and those of the 
older ones. 

Turning to the Brahmanas, we find that those of the 
Rigveda do not mention the Atharva-veda at all, while 


the Taittirlya Brdhmana (like the Taittiriya Aranyakd) 
refers to it twice. In the ^atapatha Brdhmana it appears 
more frequently, occupying a more defined position, 
though not that of a Veda. This work very often 
mentions the three old Vedas alone, either explicitly as 
Rik y Sdman y Yajus, or as trayl vidyd, "the threefold 
knowledge." In several passages they are also mentioned 
along with other literary types, such as itihdsa (story), 
purdna (ancient legend) gdthd (song), siitra, and upani- 
shad. In these enumerations the Atharva-veda regularly 
occupies the fourth place, coming immediately after the 
three Vedas, while the rest follow in varying order. The 
Upanishads in general treat the Atharva-veda in the same 
way ; the Upanishads of the Atharva itself, however, 
sometimes tacitly add its name after the three Vedas, 
even without mentioning other literary types. With 
regard to the (^rauta or sacrificial Sutras, we find no 
reference to the Atharva in those of Katyayana {White 
Yajurvedd) or Latyayana {Sdmaveda) } and only one each 
in those of (Jankhayana and Acvalayana {Rigvedd). 

In all this sacrificial literature there is no evidence of 
repugnance to the Atharva, or of exclusiveness towards 
it on the part of followers of the other Vedas. Such 
an attitude could indeed hardly be expected. For though 
the sphere of the Vedic sacrificial ritual was different 
from that of regular magical rites, it is impossible to 
draw a distinct line of demarcation between sacrifice and 
sorcery in the Vedic religion, of which witchcraft is, in 
fact, an essential element. The adherents of the three 
sacrificial Vedas would thus naturally recognise a work 
which was a repository of witchcraft. Thus the ^atapatha 
Brdhmana, though characterising yatu or sorcery as 
devilish doubtless because it may be dangerous to those 


who practise it places yatuvidah or sorcerers by the side 
of bahvrichas or men skilled in Rigvedic verses. Just as 
the Rigveda contains very few hymns directly connected 
with the practice of sorcery, so the Atharva originally 
included only matters incidental and subsidiary to the 
sacrificial ritual. Thus it contains a series of formulas 
(vi. 47-48) which have no meaning except in connection 
with the three daily pressings (savana) of soma. We also 
find in it hymns {e.g. vi. 114) which evidently consist of 
formulas of expiation for faults committed at the sacrifice. 
We must therefore conclude that the followers of the 
Atharva to some extent knew and practised the sacrificial 
ceremonial before the conclusion of the present redaction 
of their hymns. The relation of the Atharva to the 
crauta rites was, however, originally so slight, that it 
became necessary, in order to establish a direct connec- 
tion with it, to add the twentieth book, which was 
compiled from the Rigveda for the purposes of the 
sacrificial ceremonial. 

The conspicuous way in which crauta works ignore 
the Atharva is therefore due to its being almost entirely 
unconnected with the subject-matter of the sacrifice, 
not to any pronounced disapproval or refusal to re- 
cognise its value in its own sphere. With the Grihya 
or Domestic Sutras, which contain many elements of 
sorcery practice (vz'dhdna), we should expect the 
Atharva to betray a closer connection. This is, indeed, 
to some extent the case ; for many verses quoted in 
these Sutras are identical with or variants of those 
contained in the Atharva f even though the Domestic, 
like the Sacrificial, Sutras endeavoured to borrow their 
verses as far as possible from the particular Veda to 
which they were attached. Otherwise, however, their 


references to the Atharva betray no greater regard for 
it than those in the Sacrificial Sutras do. Such refer- 
ences to the fourth Veda are here, it is true, more 
frequent and formulaic ; but this appears to mean 
nothing more than that the Grihya Sutras belong to a 
later date. 

In the sphere, too, of law (dharmd), as dealing with 
popular usage and custom, the practices of the Atharva 
maintained a certain place ; for the indispensable 
sciences of medicine and astrology were distinctively 
Atharvan, and the king's domestic chaplain (purohita), 
believed capable of rendering great services in the 
injury and overthrow of enemies by sorcery, seems 
usually to have been an Atharvan priest. At the same 
time it is only natural that we should first meet with 
censures of the practices of the Atharva in the legal 
literature, because such practices were thought to 
enable one man to harm another. The verdict of the 
law treatises on the whole is, that as incantations of 
various kinds are injurious, the Atharva-veda is inferior 
and its practices impure. This inferiority is directly 
expressed in the Dharma Sutra of Apastamba ; and 
the later legal treatise (smriti) of Vishnu classes the 
reciter of a deadly incantation from the Atharva among 
the seven kinds of assassins. Physicians and astro- 
logers are pronounced impure ; practices with roots 
are prohibited ; sorceries and imprecations are punished 
with severe penances. In certain cases, however, the 
Atharva-veda is stated to be useful. Thus the Lawbook 
of Manu recommends it as the natural weapon of the 
Brahman against his enemies. 

In the Mahabharata we find the importance and the 
canonical character of the Atharva fully recognised. 


The four Vedas are often mentioned, the gods Brahma 
and Vishnu being in several passages described as 
having created them. The Atharva is here often also 
referred to alone, and spoken of with approbation. 
Its practices are well known and seldom criticised ad- 
versely, magic and sorcery being, as a rule, regarded as 

Finally, the Puranas not only regularly speak of the 
fourfold Veda, but assign to the Atharva the advanced 
position claimed for it by its own ritual literature. 
Thus the Vishnu Purana connects the Atharva with 
the fourth priest (the brahman) of the sacrificial ritual. 

Nevertheless a certain prejudice has prevailed against 
the Atharva from the time of the Dharma Sutras. This 
appears from the fact that, even at the present day, 
according to Burnell, the most influential Brahmans of 
Southern India still refuse to accept the authority of 
the fourth Veda, and deny its genuineness. A similar 
conclusion may be drawn from occasional state- 
ments in classical texts, and especially from the efforts 
of the later Atharvan writings themselves to vindicate 
the character of their Veda. (These ritual texts not 
only never enumerate the Vedas without including the 
Atharva, but even sometimes place it at the head of 
the four Vedas>v Under a sense of the exclusion of their 
Veda from the sphere of the sacrificial ritual, they lay 
claim to the fourth priest (the brahman), who in the 
Vedic religion was not attached to any of the three 
Vedas, but being required to have a knowledge of all 
three and of their sacrificial application, acted as super- 
intendent or director of the sacrificial ceremonial. In- 
geniously availing themselves of the fact that he was 
unconnected with any of the three Vedas, they put 


forward the claim of the fourth Veda as the special 
sphere of the fourth priest. That priest, moreover, was 
the most important as possessing a universal knowledge 
of religious lore {brahma\ the comprehensive esoteric 
understanding of the nature of the gods and of the 
mystery of the sacrifice. Hence the Gopatha Brahmana 
exalts the Atharva as the highest religious lore (brahmd)^ 
and calls it the Brahmaveda. The claim to the latter 
designation was doubtless helped by the word brahma 
often occurring in the Atharva-veda itself with the sense 
of " charm," and by the fact that the Veda contains a 
larger amount of theosophic matter {brahmavidya) than 
any other Samhita. The texts belonging to the other 
Vedas never suggest that the Atharva is the sphere of 
the fourth priest, some Brahmana passages expressly de- 
claring that any one equipped with the requisite know- 
ledge maybe ^brahman. The ritual texts of the Atharva 
further energetically urged that the Purohita, or domestic 
chaplain, should be a follower of the Atharva-veda. 
They appear to have finally succeeded in their claim 
to this office, doubtless because kings attached great 
value to a special knowledge of witchcraft. 

The geographical data contained in the Atharva are 
but few, and furnish no certain evidence as to the 
region in which its hymns were composed. One hymn 
of its older portion (v. 22) makes mention of the 
Gandharis, Mujavats, Mahavrishas, and Balhikas (in 
the north-west), and the Magadhas and Angas (in the 
east) ; but they are referred to in such a way that no 
safe conclusions can be drawn as to the country in 
which the composer of the hymn in question lived. 

The Atharva also contains a few astronomical data, 
the lunar mansions being enumerated in the nineteenth 


book. The names here given deviate considerably from 
those mentioned in the Taittirlya Samhita, appearing 
mostly in a later form. The passage in which this list 
is found is, however, a late addition. 

The language of the Atharva is, from a grammatical 
point of view, decidedly later than that of the Rigveda, 
but earlier than that of the Brahmanas. In voca- 
bulary it is chiefly remarkable for the large number of 
popular words which it contains, and which from lack 
of opportunity do not appear elsewhere. 

It seems probable that the hymns of the Atharva, 
though some of them must be very old, were not edited 
till after the Brahmanas of the Rigveda were composed. 

On examining the contents of the Atharva-veda more 
in detail, we find that the hostile charms it contains 
are directed largely against various diseases or the 
demons which are supposed to cause them. There are 
spells to cure fever (takman), leprosy, jaundice, dropsy, 
scrofula, cough, ophthalmia, baldness, lack of vital 
power ; fractures and wounds ; the bite of snakes or 
injurious insects, and poison in general ; mania and 
other ailments. These charms are accompanied by the 
employment of appropriate herbs. Hence the Atharva 
is the oldest literary monument of Indian medicine. 

The following is a specimen of a charm against cough 
(vi. 105) : 

Just as the sold with soul-desires 
Swift to a dista?ice flies away, 
So even thou, O cough, fly forth 
Along the souPs qidck-darting course. 

Just as the arrow, sharpened well, 
Swift to a dista?ice flies away, 
So even thou, O cough, fly forth 
Along the broad expanse of earth. 


Just as the sun-god's shooting rays 
Swift to a distance fly away, 
So even thou, O cough, fly forth 
Along the ocean\s surging flood. 

Here is a spell for the cure of leprosy by means of 
a dark-coloured plant : 

Born in the night art thou, herb, 
Dark-coloured, sable, black of hue : 
Rich-thited, tinge this leprosy, 
And stain away its spots of grey ! (i. 23, 1). 

A large number of imprecations are directed against 
demons, sorcerers, and enemies. The following two 
stanzas deal with the latter two classes respectively : 

Bend round and pass us by, O curse, 

Even as a burning fire a lake. 

Here strike him down that curses us, 

As heaverfs lightning smites the tree (vi. 37, 2). 

As, rising in the east, the sun 

The stars' bright lustre takes away, 

So both of wo?nen and of men, 

My foes, the strength I take away (vii. 13, 1). 

A considerable group of spells consists of imprecations 
directed against the oppressors of Brahmans and those 
who withhold from them their rightful rewards. The 
following is one of the threats held out against such evil- 
doers : 

Water with which they bathe the dead, 
And that with which they wet his beard, 
The gods assigned thee as thy share, 
Oppressor of the Brahman priest (v. 19, 14). 

Another group of charms is concerned with women, 
being intended to secure their love with the aid of 


various potent herbs. Some of them are of a hostile 
character, being meant to injure rivals. The following 
two stanzas belong to the former class : 

As round this heaven and earth the sun 

Goes day by day, encircling them, 

So do I go around thy mind, 

That, woman, thou shalt love me well, 

And shalt not turn away from me (vi. 8, 3). 

' Tis winged with longing, barbed with love, 

Its shaft is forrfied of fixed desire : 

With this his arrow levelled well 

Shall Kama pierce thee to the heart (iii. 25, 2). 

Among the auspicious charms of the Atharva there 
are many prayers for long life and health, for exemption 
from disease and death : 

If life in him declines or has departed, 

If on the very brink of death he totters, 

I snatch him from the lap of Dissolution, 

I free him now to live a hundred autumns (iii. II, 2). 

Rise upfront hence, O man, and straightway casting 
Death's fetters from thy feet, depart not downward; 
Frotn life upon this earth be not yet sundered, 
Nor from the sight of Ag?ii and the sunlight (viii. I, 4). 

Another class of hymns includes prayers for pro- 
tection from dangers and calamities, or for prosperity 
in the house or field, in cattle, trade, and even gambling. 
Here are two spells meant to secure luck at play : 

As at all times the lightning stroke 
Smites irresistibly the tree : 
So gamesters with the dice would I 
Beat irresistibly to-day (vii. 5, 1). 


O dice, give play that profit brings, 

Like cows that yield abundant milk : 

Attach me to a streak of gain, 

As with a string the bow is bound (vii. 5, 9). 

A certain number of hymns contain charms to secure 
harmony, to allay anger, strife, and discord, or to pro- 
cure ascendency in the assembly. The following one is 
intended for the latter purpose : 

O assembly, we know thy name, 

" Frolic" 1 truly by name thou art : 

May all who meet and sit in thee 

Be in their speech at one with me (vii. 1 2, 2). 

A few hymns consist of formulas for the expiation 
of sins, such as offering imperfect sacrifices and marry- 
ing before an elder brother, or contain charms for re- 
moving the defilement caused by ominous birds, and for 
banishing evil dreams. 

If waking, if asleep, I have 

Committed sin, to sin inclined, 

May what has been and what shall be 

Loose me as from a wooden post (vi. 115, 2). 

A short hymn (vi. 120), praying for the remission of 
sins, concludes with this stanza : , 

In heaven, where our righteous friends are blessed, 
Having cast off diseases from their bodies, 
From lameness free and not defotmed in mernbers, 
There may we see our parents and our children. 

Another group of hymns has the person of the king 
as its centre. They contain charms to be used at a 
royal election or consecration, for the restoration of an 

1 The word "frolic " alludes to the assembly -house (sab/id) being a place 
of social entertainment, especially of gambling. 


exiled king, for the attainment of lustre and glory, and 
in particular for victory in battle. The following is a 
specimen of spells intended to strike terror into the 
enemy : 

Arise and arm, ye spectral forms, 

Followed by meteoric flames ; 

Ye serpents, spirits of the deep, 

Demons of night, pursue the foe / (xi. 10, i). 

Here is a stanza from a hymn (v. 21, 6) to the battle- 
drum meant to serve the same purpose : 

As birds start back affrighted at the eagle's cry, 
As day and night they tre7nble at the lion 7 s roar: 
So thou, drum, shout out against our enemies, 
Scare them away in terror and confound their minds. 

Among the cosmogonic and theosophic hymns the 
finest is a long one of sixty-three stanzas addressed to 
the earth (xii. 1). I translate a few lines to give some 
idea of its style and contents : 

The earth, on whom, with clamour loud, 

Men that are mortal sing and dance, 

On whom they fight in battle fierce : 

This earth shall drive away from us our foemen, 

And she shall make us free froni all our rivals. 

In secret places holding treasure manifold, 

The earth shall riches give, and gems and gold to me ; 

Gra?iting wealth lavishly, the kindly goddess 

Shall goods abundantly bestow upon us. 

The four hymns of Book XIII. are devoted to the 
praise of Rohita, the " Red " Sun, as a cosmogonic 
pow r er. In another (xi. 5) the sun is glorified as a 
primeval principle under the guise of a Brahman dis- 
ciple (brahtnachdriri). Hn others Prana or Breath (xi. 4), 
Kama or Love (ix. 2), and Kala or Time (xix. 53-54), 


are personified as primordial powersV There is one hymn 
(xi. 7) in which even Ucchishta -(the remnant of the 
sacrifice) is deified as the Supreme Being ; except for 
its metrical form it belongs to the Brahmana type of 

In concluding this survey of the Atharva-veda y I 
would draw attention to a hymn to Varuna (iv. 16), 
which, though its last two stanzas are ordinary Atharvan 
spells for binding enemies with the fetters of that deity, 
in its remaining verses exalts divine omniscience in a 
strain unequalled in any other Vedic poem. The follow- 
ing three stanzas are perhaps the best : 

This earth is all King Varuna 's dominion, 
And that broad sky whose boundaries are distant. 
The loins of Varuna are these two oceans, 
Yet in this drop of water he is hidden. 

He that should flee afar beyond the heaven 
Would not escape. King Varuna 's attention : 
His spies come hither, from the sky descending, 
With all their thousand eyes the earth surveying. 

King Varuna discerns all that's existent 
Between the earth and sky, and all beyond them; 
The winkings of 'men's eyes by him are counted j 
As gamesters dice, so he lays, down his statutes. 



{Circa 800-500 B.C.) 

The period in which the poetry of the Vedic Samhitas 
arose was followed by one which produced a totally 
different literary type the theological treatises called 
Brahmanas. It is characteristic of the form of these 
works that they are composed in prose, and of their 
matter that they deal with the sacrificial ceremonial. 
Their main object being to explain the sacred signi- 
ficance of the ritual to those who are already familiar 
with the sacrifice, the descriptions they give of it are not 
exhaustive, much being stated only in outline or omitted 
altogether. They are ritual text-books, which, however, 
in no way aim at furnishing a complete survey of the 
sacrificial ceremonial to those who do not know it 
already. Their contents may be classified under the 
three heads of practical sacrificial directions (yidhi), ex- 
planations (arthavdda), exegetical, mythological, or pole- 
mical, and theological or philosophical speculations on 
the nature of things {upanishad). Even those which 
have been preserved form quite an extensive literature 
by themselves ; yet many others must have been lost, 
as appears from the numerous names of and quotations 
from Brahmanas unknown to us occurring in those which 
are extant. They reflect the spirit of an age in which 


all intellectual activity is concentrated on the sacrifice, 
describing its ceremonies, discussing its value, speculat- 
ing on its origin and significance. It is only reasonable 
to suppose that an epoch like this, which produced 
no other literary monuments, lasted for a considerable 
time. For though the Brahmanas are on the whole 
uniform in character, differences of age are traceable 
in them. Next to the prose portions of the Yajurvedas y 
the Panchavimca and the Taittiriya are proved by their 
syntax and vocabulary to be the most archaic of the 
regular Brahmanas. This conclusion is confirmed by 
the fact that the latter is, and the former is known to have 
been, accented. A more recent group is formed by the 
Jaiminlya, the Kaushitaki, and the Aitareya Brahmanas, 
The first of these is probably the oldest, while the third 
seems, on linguistic grounds at least, to be the latest of 
the three. The Qatapatha Brdhmana, again, is posterior 
to these. For it shows a distinct advance in matter; 
its use of the narrative tenses is later than that of the 
Aitareya; and its style is decidedly developed in com- 
parison with all the above-mentioned Brahmanas. It 
is, indeed, accented, but in a way which differs entirely 
from the regular Vedic method. Latest of all are the 
Gopatha Brakmana of the Atharva and the short Brah- 
manas of the Samaveda. 

In language the Brahmanas are considerably more 
limited in the use of forms than the Rigveda. The sub- 
junctive is, however, still employed, as well as a good 
many of the old infinitives. Their syntax, indeed, repre- 
sents the oldest Indian stage even better than the Rig- 
veda, chiefly of course owing to the restrictions imposed 
by metre on the style of the latter. The Brahmanas 
contain some metrical pieces (gdthds), which differ from 


the prose in which they are imbedded by certain pecu- 
liarities of their own and by a more archaic character. 
Allied to these is a remarkable poem of this period, the 
SuparnddJiydya y an attempt, after the age of living Vedic 
poetry had come to an end, to compose in the style of 
the Vedic hymns. It contains many Vedic forms, and 
is accented, but it betrays its true character not only by 
its many modern forms, but by numerous monstrosities 
due to unsuccessful imitation of the Vedic language. 

A further development are the Aranyakas or %i Forest 
Treatises," the later age of which is indicated both by the 
position they occupy at the end of the Brahmanas and 
by their theosophical character. These works are gene- 
rally represented as meant for the use of pious men 
who have retired to the forest and no longer perform 
sacrifices. According to the view of Professor Olden- 
berg, they are, however, rather treatises which, owing to 
the superior mystic sanctity of their contents, were in- 
tended to be communicated to the pupil by his teacher 
in the solitude of the forest instead of in the village. 

In tone and content the Aranyakas form a transition 
to the Upanishads, which are either imbedded in them, 
or more usually form their concluding portion. The 
word upa-ni-shad (literally "sitting down beside") having 
first doubtless meant " confidential session," came to sig- 
nify " secret or esoteric doctrine," because these works 
were taught to select pupils (probably towards the end of 
their apprenticeship) in lectures from which the wider 
circle was excluded. Being entirely devoted to theological 
and philosophical speculations on the nature of things, 
the Upanishads mark the last stage of development in 
the Brahmana literature. As they generally come at 
the end of the Brahmanas, they are also called Veddnta 


("end of the Veda"), a term later interpreted to mean 
" final goal of the Veda." " Revelation " {gruti) was 
regarded as including them, while the Sutras belonged 
to the sphere of tradition (smriti). The subject-matter 
of all the old Upanishads is essentially the same the 
doctrine of the nature of the Atman or Brahma (the 
supreme soul). This fundamental theme was expounded 
in various ways by the different Vedic schools, of which 
the Upanishads were originally the dogmatic text-books, 
just as the Brahmanas were their ritual text-books. 

The Aranyakas and Upanishads represent a phase 
of language which on the whole closely approaches to 
classical Sanskrit, the oldest Upanishads occupying a 
position linguistically midway between the Brahmanas 
and the Sutras. 

Of the two Brahmanas attached to the Rigveda, the 
more important is the Aitareya. The extant text con- 
sists of forty chapters (adhydya) divided into eight books 
called panchikds or "pentads," because containing five 
chapters each. That its last ten chapters were a later 
addition appears likely both from internal evidence and 
from the fact that the closely related dnkhdyana Brdh- 
mana contains nothing corresponding to their subject- 
matter, which is dealt with in the ^dnkhdyana Sutra. 
The last three books would further appear to have 
been composed at a later date than the first five, since 
the perfect in the former is used as a narrative tense, 
while in the latter it still has its original present force, 
as in the oldest Brahmanas. The essential part of this 
Brahmana deals with the soma sacrifice. It treats first 
(1-16) of the soma rite called Agnishtoma y which lasts 
one day, then (17-18) of that called Gavdmayana y which 
lasts 360 days, and thirdly (19-24) of the Dvddaqdha 


or "twelve days' rite." The next part (25-32), which 
is concerned with the Agnihotra or " fire sacrifice " and 
other matters, has the character of a supplement. The 
last portion (33-40), dealing with the ceremonies of the 
inauguration of the king and with the position of his 
domestic priest, bears similar signs of lateness. 

The other Brahmana of the Rigveda, which goes 
by the name of Kaushltaki as well as dnkhdyana, con- 
sists of thirty chapters. Its subject-matter is, on the 
whole, the same as that of the original part of the 
Aitareya (i.-v.), but is wider. For in its opening chap- 
ters it goes through the setting up of the sacred fire 
(agni-ddhdna), the daily morning and evening sacrifice 
{agnihotra), the new and full moon ritual, and the four- 
monthly sacrifices. The Soma sacrifice, however, occu- 
pies the chief position even here. The more definite 
and methodical treatment of the ritual in the Kaushltaki 
would seem to indicate that this Brahmana was com- 
posed at a later date than the first five books of the 
Aitareya. Such a conclusion is, however, not altogether 
borne out by a comparison of the linguistic data of these 
two works. Professor Weber argues from the occur- 
rence in one passage of Icana and Mahadeva as desig- 
nations of the god who was later exclusively called (Jiva, 
that the Kaushltaki Brahmana was composed at about 
the same time as the latest books of the White Yajur- 
veda and those parts of the Atharva-veda and of the 
^atapatha Brahmana in which these appellations of the 
same god are found. 

These Brahmanas contain very few geographical 
data. From the way, however, in which the Aitareya 
mentions the Indian tribes, it may be safely inferred 
that this work had its origin in the country of the 


Kuru-Panchalas, in which, as we have seen, the Vedic 
ritual must have been developed, and the hymns of 
the Rigveda were probably collected in the existing 
Samhita. From the Kaushltaki we learn that the study 
of language was specially cultivated in the north of 
India, and that students who returned from there were 
regarded as authorities on linguistic questions. 

The chief human interest of these Brahmanas lies 
in the numerous myths and legends which they con- 
tain. The longest and most remarkable of those found 
in the Aitareya is the story of (Junahcepa (Dog's-Tail), 
which forms the third chapter of Book VII. The child- 
less King Haricchandra vowed, if he should have a son, 
to sacrifice him to Varuna. But when his son Rohita 
was born, he kept putting off the fulfilment of his 
promise. At length, when the boy was grown up, his 
father, pressed by Varuna, prepared to perform the 
sacrifice. Rohita, however, escaped to the forest, where 
he wandered for six years, while his father was afflicted 
with dropsy by Varuna. At last he fell in with a starving 
Brahman, who consented to sell to him for a hundred 
cows his son (Junahcepa as a substitute. Varuna agreed, 
saying, "A Brahman is worth more than a Kshatriya." 
(Junahcepa was accordingly bound to the stake, and 
the sacrifice was about to proceed, when the victim 
prayed to various gods in succession. As he repeated 
one verse after the other, the fetters of Varuna began 
to fall off and the dropsical swelling of the king to 
diminish, till finally (Junahgepa was released and Haric- 
chandra was restored to health again. 

The style of the prose in which the Aitareya is com- 
posed is crude, clumsy, abrupt, and elliptical. The fol- 
lowing quotation from the stanzas interspersed in the 


story of (Junahcepa may serve as a specimen of the 
gdthds found in the Brahmanas. These verses are 
addressed by a sage named Narada to King Haric- 
chandra on the importance of having a son : 

In him a father pays a debt 
And reaches immortality, 
When he beholds the countenance 
Of a son born to him alive. 

Than all the joy which living things 
Jn waters feel, in earth and fire, 
The happiness that in his son 
A father feels is greater far. 

At all times fathers by a son 

Much darkness, too, have passed beyond: 

In him the father's self is born, 

He wafts him to the other shore. 

Food is marts life and clothes afford protection, 
Gold gives him beauty, marriages bring cattle; 
His wife's a friend, his daughter causes pity : 
A son is like a light in highest heaven. 

To the Aitareya Brdhmana belongs the Aitareya 
Aranyaka. It consists of eighteen chapters, distributed 
unequally among five books. The last two books are 
composed in the Sutra style, and are really to be regarded 
as belonging to the Sutra literature. Four parts can be 
clearly distinguished in the first three books. Book I. 
deals with various liturgies of the Soma sacrifice from a 
purely ritual point of view. The first three chapters of 
Book II., on the other hand, are theosophical in character, 
containing speculations about the world-soul under the 
names of Prana and Purusha. It is allied in matter to 
the Upanishads, some of its more valuable thoughts 
recurring, occasionally even word for word, in . the 


Kaushltaki Upanishad. The third part consists of the re- 
maining four sections of Book II., which form the regular 
Aitareya Upanishad. Finally, Book III. deals with the 
mystic and allegorical meaning of the three principal 
modes in which the Veda is recited in the Samhitd, Pada 
and Krama Pdthas, and of the various letters of the 

To the Kaushltaki Brahmana is attached the Kaushl- 
taki Aranyaka. It consists of fifteen chapters. The first 
two of these correspond to Books I. and V. of the Aitareya 
Aranyaka, the seventh and eighth to Book III., while the 
intervening four chapters (3-6) form the Kaushltaki 
Upanishad. The latter is a long and very interesting 
Upanishad. It seems not improbably to have been added 
as an independent treatise to the completed Aranyaka, as 
it is not always found in the same part of the latter work 
in the manuscripts. 

Brahmanas belonging to two independent schools of 
the Sdmaveda have been preserved, those of the Tandins 
and of the Talavakaras or Jaiminlyas. Though several 
other works here claim the title of ritual text-books, only 
three are in reality Brahmanas. The Brahmana of the 
Talavakaras, which for the most part is still unpublished, 
seems to consist of five books. The first three (unpub- 
lished) are mainly concerned with various parts of the 
sacrificial ceremonial. The fourth book, called the 
Upanishad Brahmana (probably " the Brahmana of 
mystic meanings "), besides all kinds of allegories of the 
Aranyaka order, two lists of teachers, a section about 
the origin of the vital airs (prdna) and about the sdvitri 
stanza, contains the brief but important Kena Upanishad. 
Book V., entitled Arsheya-Brdhmana, is a short enumera- 
tion of the composers of the Sdmaveda. 


To the school of the Tandins belongs the Panchavimqa 
(" twenty-five fold"), also called Tandy a or Praudha, Brah- 
mana, which, as the first name implies, consists of twenty- 
five books. It is concerned with the Soma sacrifices in 
general, ranging from the minor offerings to those which 
lasted a hundred days, or even several years. Besides 
many legends, it contains a minute description of sacri- 
fices performed on the SarasvatI and Drishadvatl. Though 
Kurukshetra is known to it, other geographical data 
which it contains point to the home of this Brahmana. 
having lain farther east. Noteworthy among its contents 
are . the so-called Vr aty a- Stomas, which are sacrifices 
meant to enable Aryan but non-Brahmanical Indians to 
enter the Brahmanical order. A point of interest in this 
Brahmana is the bitter hostility which it displays towards 
the school of the Kaushltakins. The Shadvirnca Brah- 
mana, though nominally an independent work, is in 
reality a supplement to the Panchavimca, of which, as its 
name implies, it forms the twenty-sixth book. The last 
of its six chapters is called the Adbhuta Brahmana, which 
is intended to obviate the evil effects of various extraordi- 
nary events or portents. Among such phenomena are 
mentioned images of the gods when they laugh, cry, sing, 
dance, perspire, crack, and so forth. 

The other Brahmana of this school, the Chhandogya 
Brahmana, is only to a slight extent a ritual text-book. 
It does not deal with the Soma sacrifice at all, but only 
with ceremonies relating to birth and marriage or prayers 
addressed to divine beings. These are the contents of 
only the first two "lessons" of this Brahmana of the 
Sama theologians. The remaining eight lessons consti- 
tute the Chhandogya Upanishad. 

There are four other short works which, though bear- 


ing the name, are not really Brahmanas. These are the 
Sdmavidhdna Brdhmatia, a treatise on the employment of 
chants for all kinds of superstitious purposes ; the Deva- 
tddhydya Brahmana, containing some statements about 
the deities of the various chants of the Sdmaveda ; the 
Vamca Brahmana, which furnishes a genealogy of the 
teachers of the Sdmaveda ; and, finally, the Samhito- 
panishad, which, like the third book of the Aitareya 
Aranyaka, treats of the way in which the Veda should 
be recited. 

The Brahmanas of the Sdmaveda are distinguished by 
the exaggerated and fantastic character of their mystical 
speculations. A prominent feature in them is the con- 
stant identification of various kinds of Sdmans or chants 
with all kinds of terrestrial and celestial objects. At the 
same time they contain much matter that is interesting 
from a historical point of view. 

In the Black Yajurveda the prose portions of the 
various Samhitas form the only Brahmanas in the Katha 
and the Maitrayanlya schools. In the Taittiriya school 
they form the oldest and most important Brahmana. 
Here we have also the Taittiriya Brahmana as an inde- 
pendent work in three books. This, however, hardly 
differs in character from the Taittiriya Samhitd, being 
rather a continuation. It forms a supplement concerned 
with a few sacrifices omitted in the Samhita, or handles, 
with greater fulness of detail, matters already dealt with. 
There is also a Taittiriya Aranyaka, which in its turn 
forms a supplement to the Brahmana. The last four of 
its ten sections constitute the two Upanishads of this 
school, vii.-ix. forming the Taittiriya Upanishad, and x. 
the Mahd-Ndrdyana Upanishad, also called the Ydjniki 
Upanishad. Excepting these four sections, the title of 


Brahmana or Aranyaka does not indicate a difference 
of content as compared with the Samhita, but is due to 
late and artificial imitation of the other Vedas. 

The last three sections of Book III. of the Brahmana, 
as well as the first two books of the Aranyaka, originally 
belonged to the school of the Kathas, though they have 
not been preserved as part of the tradition of that school. 
The different origin of these parts is indicated by the 
absence of the change of y and v to iy and uv respectively, 
which otherwise prevails in the Taittirlya Brahmana and 
Aranyaka. In one of these Kathaka sections (Taitt. Br. 
iii. n), by way of illustrating the significance of the par- 
ticular fire called ndchiketa, the story is told of a boy, 
Nachiketas, who, on visiting the House of Death, was 
granted the fulfilment of three wishes by the god of the 
dead. On this story is based the Kathaka Upanishad. 

Though the Maitrayani Samhita has no independent 
Brahmana, its fourth book, as consisting of explanations 
and supplements to the first three, is a kind of special 
Brahmana. Connected with this Samhita, and in the 
manuscripts sometimes forming its second or its fifth 
book, is the Maitrayana (also called Maitrayaniya and 
Maitri) Upanishad. 

The ritual explanation of the White Yajurveda is to 
be found in extraordinary fulness in the ^atapatha Brah- 
mana, the u Brahmana of the Hundred Paths," so called 
because it consists of one hundred lectures (adhydyd). 
This work is, next to the Rigveda, the most important 
production in the whole range of Vedic literature. Its 
text has come down in two recensions, those of the 
Madhyamdina school, edited by Professor Weber, and of 
the Kanva school, which is in process of being edited by 
Professor Eggeling. The Madhyamdina recension con- 


sists of fourteen books, while the Kanva has seventeen. 
The first nine of the former, corresponding to the original 
eighteen books of the Vdjasaneyi Samhitd, doubtless form 
the oldest part. The fact that Book XII. is called 
madhyama y or "middle one," shows that the last five 
books (or possibly only X.-XIII.) were at one time re- 
garded as a separate part of the Brahmana. Book X. 
treats of the mystery of the fire-altar {agnirahasya), XI. 
is a sort of recapitulation of the preceding ritual, while 
XII. and XIII. deal with various supplementary matters. 
The last book forms the Aranyaka, the six concluding 
chapters of which are the Brihaddranyaka Upanishad. 

Books VI. -X. of the ^atapatha Brahmana occupy a 
peculiar position. Treating of the construction of the 
fire-altar, they recognise the teaching of Candilya as their 
highest authority, Yajnavalkya not even being mentioned; 
while the peoples who are named, the Gandharas, Salvas, 
Kekayas, belong to the north-west. In the other books 
Yajnavalkya is the highest authority, while hardly any 
but Eastern peoples, or those of the middle of Hindustan, 
the Kuru-Panchalas, Kosalas, Videhas, Srinjayas, are 
named. That the original authorship of the five Candilya 
books was different from that of the others is indicated 
by a number of linguistic differences, which the hand of 
a later editor failed to remove. Thus the use of the per- 
fect as a narrative tense is unknown to the (Jandilya 
books (as well as to XIII.). 

The geographical data of the QatapatJia Brahmana 
point to the land of the Kuru-Panchalas being still the 
centre of Brahmanical culture. Janamejaya is here cele- 
brated as a king of the Kurus, and the most renowned 
Brahmanical teacher of the age, Aruni, is expressly stated 
to have been a Panchala. Nevertheless, it is clear that 


the Brahmanical system had by this time spread to the 
countries to the east of Madhyadeca, to Kosala, with its 
capital, Ayodhya(Oudh), and Videha (Tirhut or Northern 
Behar), with its capital, Mithila. The court of King 
Janaka of Videha was thronged with Brahmans from 
the Kuru-Panchala country. The tournaments of argu- 
ment which were here held form a prominent feature in 
the later books of the ^atapatha Brdhmana, The hero of 
these is Yajnavalkya, who, himself a pupil of Aruni, is 
regarded as the chief spiritual authority in the Brahmana 
(excepting Books VI.-X.). Certain passages of the Brah- 
mana render it highly probable that Yajnavalkya was a 
native of Videha. The fact that its leading authority, 
who thus appears to have belonged to this Eastern 
country, is represented as vanquishing the most distin- 
guished teachers of the West in argument, points to the 
redaction of the White Yajurveda having taken place in 
this eastern region. 

The ^atapatha Brdhmana contains reminiscences of 
the days when the country of Videha was not as yet 
Brahmanised. Thus Book I. relates a legend in which 
three stages in the eastward migration of the Aryans can 
be clearly distinguished. Mathava, the king of Videgha 
(the 'older form of Videha), whose family priest was 
Gotama Rahugana, was at one time on the Sarasvati. 
Agni Vaicvanara (here typical of Brahmanical culture) 
thence went burning along this earth towards the east, 
followed by Mathava and his priest, till he came to the 
river Sadanlra (probably the modern Gandak, a tributary 
running into the Ganges near Patna), which flows from 
the northern mountain, and which he did not burn over. 
This river Brahmans did not cross in former times, 
thinking "it has not been burnt over by Agni Vaicva- 


nara.*' At that time the land to the eastward was very 
uncultivated and marshy, but now many Brahmans are 
there, and it is highly cultivated, for the Brahmans have 
caused Agni to taste it through sacrifices. Mathava the 
Videgha then said to Agni, " Where am I to abide ? " 
"To the east of this river be thy abode," he replied. 
Even now, the writer adds, this river forms the boundary 
between the Kosalas (Oudh) and the Videhas (Tirhut). 

The Vajasaneyi school of the White Yajurveda evi- 
dently felt a sense of the superiority of their sacrificial 
lore, which grew up in these eastern countries. Blame 
is frequently expressed in the Qatapatha Brahmana of 
the Adhvaryu priests of the Charaka school. The latter 
is meant as a comprehensive term embracing the three 
older schools of the Black Yajurveda, the Kathas, the 
Kapishthalas, and the Maitrayanlyas. 

As Buddhism first obtained a firm footing in Kosala 
and Videha, it is interesting to inquire in what relation 
the ^atapatha Brahmaiia stands to the beginnings of that 
doctrine. In this connection it is to be noted that the 
words Arhaty Qramana y and Pratibuddha occur here for 
the first time, but as yet without the technical sense which 
they have in Buddhistic literature. Again, in the lists of 
teachers given in the Brahmana mention is made with 
special frequency of the Gautamas, a family name used 
by the (Jakyas of Kapilavastu, among whom Buddha was 
born. Certain allusions are also suggestive of the begin- 
nings of the Sankhya doctrine ; for mention is several 
times made of a teacher called Asuri, and according to 
tradition Asuri is the name of a leading authority for the 
Sankhya system. If we inquire as to how far the legends 
of our Brahmana contain the germs of the later epic 
tales, we find that there is indeed some slight connection* 


Janamejaya, the celebrated king of the Kurus in the 
Mahdbhdrata, is mentioned here for the first time. The 
Pandus, however, who proved victorious in the epic 
war, are not to be met with in this any more than in the 
other Brahmanas ; and Arjuna, the name of their chief, 
is still an appellation of Indra. But as the epic Arjuna is 
a son of Indra, his origin is doubtless to be traced to this 
epithet of Indra. Janaka, the famous king of Videha, is 
in all probability identical with the father of Slta, the 
heroine of the Rdmdyana. 

Of two legends which furnished the classical poet 
Kalidasa with the plots of two of his most famous 
dramas, one is told in detail, and the other is at least 
alluded to. The' story of the love and separation of 
Pururavas and UrvacI, already dimly shadowed forth in 
a hymn of the Rigveda, is here related with much more 
fulness ; while Bharata, son of Duhshanta and of the 
nymph Cakuntala, also appears on the scene in this 

A most interesting legend which reappears in the 
Mahdbhdrata y that of the Deluge, is here told for the 
first time in Indian literature, though it seems to be 
alluded to in the Atharva-veda, while it is known even 
to the Avesta. This myth is generally regarded as 
derived from a Semitic source. It tells how Manu 
once came into possession of a small fish, which asked 
him to rear it, and promised to save him from the 
coming flood. Having built a ship in accordance with 
the fish's advice, he entered it when the deluge arose, 
and was finally guided to the Northern Mountain by 
the fish, to whose horn he had tied his ship. Manu sub- 
sequently became the progenitor of mankind through 
his daughter. 


v The (^atapatha Brahmana is thus a mine of important 
data and noteworthy narratives. Internal evidence shows 
it to belong to a late period of the Brahmana age. Its 
style, as compared with the earlier works of the same 
class, displays some progress towards facility and clear- 
ness. Its treatment of the sacrificial ceremonial, which 
is essentially the same in the Brahmana portions of 
the Black Yajurveda, is throughout more lucid and 
systematic. On the theosophic side, too, we find the 
idea of the unity in the universe more fully developed 
than in any other Brahmana work, while its Upanishad 
is the finest product of Vedic philosophy. 

To the Atharva-veda is attached the Gopatlia BrdJi- 
mana, though it has no particular connection with that 
Samhita. This Brahmana consists of two books, the 
first containing -five chapters, the second six. Both parts 
are very late, for they were composed after the Vaitdna 
Sutra and practically without any Atharvan tradition. 
The matter of the former half, while not corresponding 
or following the order of the sacrifice in any ritual 
text, is to a considerable extent original, the rest being 
borrowed from Books XI. and XII. of the Qatapatha 
Brahmana, besides a few passages from the Aitareya. 
The main motive of this portion is the glorification of 
the Atharva-veda and of the fourth or brahman priest. 
The mention of the god Civa points to its belonging to 
the post-Vedic rather than to the Brahmana period. Its 
presupposing the Atharva-veda in twenty books, and con- 
taining grammatical matters of a very advanced type, are 
other signs of lateness. The latter half bears more the 
stamp of a regular Brahmana, being a fairly connected 
account of the ritual in the sacrificial order of the 
Vaitdna Qrauta Sutra; but it is for the most part a 


compilation. The ordinary historical relation of Brah- 
mana and Sutra is here reversed, the second book of the 
Gopatha Brdhmana being based on the Vaitdna Sutra, 
which stands to it practically in the relation of a Samhita. 
About two-thirds of its matter have already been shown 
to be taken from older texts. The Aitareya and Kaushi- 
taki Brdhmanas have been chiefly exploited, and to a 
less extent the Maitrdyanl and Taittirlya Samhitds. A 
few passages are derived from the Qatapatha, and even 
the Panchavimca Brdhmana. 

Though the Upanishads generally form a part of the 
Brahmanas, being a continuation of their speculative side 
{jndna-kdndd), they really represent a new religion, 
which is in virtual opposition to the ritual or practical 
side (karma-kdnda). Their aim is no longer the obtain- 
ment of earthly happiness and afterwards bliss in the 
abode of Yama by sacrificing correctly to the gods, but 
r elease f rom m undane existence by the absorptio nof the 
individual soul in the world-soul through correct know- 
ledge. Here, therefore, th e sacrificial ceremonial JK JS 
become useless and speculative kno wl edge j dl-importan t. 

The essential theme of the Upanishads is the nature 
of the world-soul. Their conception of it represents 
the final stage in the development from the world-man, 
Purusha, of the Rigveda to the world-soul, Atman ; from 
the personal creator, Prajapati, to the impersonal source 
of all being, Brahma. Atman in the Rigveda means no 
more than U breath " ; wind, for instance, being spoken 
of as the atman of Varuna. In the Brahmanas it came 
to mean "soul" or "self." In one of their speculations 
the prdnas or " vital airs," which are supposed to be 
based on the atman, are identified with the gods, and 
so an atman comes to be attributed to the universe. 


In one of the later books of the atapatha Brahmana 
(X. vi. 3) this dtmatiy which has already arrived at 
a high degree of abstraction, is said to "pervade this 
universe." Brahma (neuter) in the Rigveda signified 
nothing more than " prayer " or " devotion." But 
even in the oldest Brahmanas it has come to have the 
sense of "universal holiness/' as manifested in prayer, 
priest, and sacrifice. In the Upanishads it is the holy 
principle which animates nature. Having a long sub- 
sequent history, this word is a very epitome of the 
evolution of religious thought in India. These two 
conceptions, Atman and Brahma, are commonly treated 
as synonymous in the Upanishads. But, strictly speaking, 
Brahma, the older term, represents the cosmical prin- 
ciple which pervades the universe, Atman the psychi- 
cal principle manifested in man ; and the latter, as the 
known, is used to explain the former as the- unknown. 
The Atman under the name of the Eternal {aksha- 
ram) is thus described in the Brihadaranyaka Upani- 
shad (III. viii. 8, 11) : 

" It is not large y and not minute ; not short, not long ; 
without blood, without fat ; without shadow, without dark- 
ness ; without wind, without ether ; not adhesive, not tan- 
gible ; without smelly without taste; without eyes y ears y 
voice, or mind; without heaty breathy or mouth; without 
personal or family name ; unagingy undying y without fear ', 
immortal, dustless, not uncovered or covered ; with nothing 
before } nothing behind, nothing within. It consumes no one 
and is consumed by no one. It is the unseen seer y the un- 
heard hearer y the unthought thinker , the unknown knower. 
TJiere is no other seer, no other hearer, no other thinkery 
no other knower. That is the Eternal in which space (akaca) 
is woven and which is interwoven with it." 


Here, for the first time in the history of human 
thought, we find the Absolute grasped and proclaimed. 

A poetical account of the nature of the Atman is 
given by the Kathaka Upanishad in the following 

stanzas : 

That whence the suris orb rises up, 
And that in which it sinks again : 
In it the gods are all contained. 
Beyond it none can ever pass (iv. 9). 

Its form can never be to sight apparent, 

Not any one may with his eye behold it : 

By heart and mind and soul alone they grasp it, 

And those who know it thus become immortal (vi. 9). 

Since not by speech and not by thought, 
Not by the eye can it be reached : 
How else may it be understood 
But only when one says "it is" f (vi. 12). 

The place of the more personal Prajapati is taken 
in the Upanishads by the Atman as a creative power. 
Thus the Brihadaranyaka (I. iv.) relates that in the 
beginning the Atman or the Brahma was this universe. 
It was afraid in its loneliness and felt no pleasure. 
Desiring a second being, it became man and woman, 
whence the human race was produced. It then pro- 
ceeded to produce male and female animals in a 
similar way ; finally creating water, lire, the gods, and 
so forth. The author then proceeds in a more exalted 
strain : 

u It {the At mart) is here all-pervading dozvn to the tips 
of the nails. One does not see it any more than a razor 
hidden in its case or fire in its receptacle. For it does not 
appear as a whole. When it breathes, it is called breath ; 
when it speaks, voice ; when it hears, ear ; when it thinks, 
mind. These are merely the names of its activities. He 



who worships the one or the other of these, has not {correct) 
knowledge. . . . One should worship it as the Self. For in 
it all these {breath, etc.) become one" 

In one of the later Upanishads, the Qvetacvatara 
(iv. 10), the notion, so prominent in the later Vedanta 
system, that the material world is an illusion {mdyd), is 
first met -with. The world is here explained as an illusion 
produced by Brahma as a conjuror {mdyin). This notion 
is, however, inherent even in the oldest Upanishads. 
It is virtually identical with the teaching of Plato that 
the things of experience are only the shadow of the real 
things, and with the teaching of Kant, that they are 
only phenomena of the thing in itself. 

The great fundamental doctrine of the Upanishads is 
the identity of the individual atman with the world Atman. 
It is most forcibly expressed in a frequently repeated 
sentence of the Chhandogya Upanishad (vi. 8-16) : " This 
whole world consists of it : that is the Real, that is the Soul, 
that art thou, O Qvetaketu" In that famous formula, 
" That art thou " {tat tvam asi), all the teachings of the 
Upanishads are summed up. The Brihaddranyaka (I. 
iv. 6) expresses the same doctrine thus : " Whoever knows 
this, * I am brahma' (aham brahma asmi), becomes the All. 
Even the gods are not able to prevent him from becoming it. 
For he becomes their Self (atman)." k 

This identity was already recognised in the atapatha 
Brahmana (X. vi. 3) : " Even as the smallest granule of 
millet, so is this golden Purusha in the heart. . . . That self 
of the spirit is my self: on passing from hence I shall obtain 
that Self." 

v We find everywhere in these treatises a restless striv- 
ing to grasp the true nature of the pantheistic Self, now 
through one metaphor, now through another. Thus 


(Brih. Up. II. iv.) the wise Yajnavalkya, about to renounce 
the world and retire to the forest, replies to the question 
of his wife, Maitreyl, with the words : " As a lump of salt 
thrown into the water would dissolve and could not be taken 
out again, while the water, wherever tasted, would be salt, so 
is this great being endless, unlimited, simply co7npacted of 
cognition. A rising out of these elements, it disappears again 
in them. After death there is no consciousness ; " for, as he 
further explains, when the duality on which conscious- 
ness is based disappears, consciousness must necessarily 

In another passage of the same Upanishad (II. i. 20) 
we read : "Just as the spider goes out of itself by means of 
its thread, as tiny sparks leap out of the fire, so from the 
Atman issue all vital airs, all worlds, all gods, all beings." 

Here, again, is a stanza from the Mundaka (III. ii. 8) : 

As rivers flow and disappear at last 
In ocean 's waters, name and form renouncing, 
So, too, the sage, released from name and form, 
Is merged in the divine and highest spirit. 

In a passage of the Brihaddranyaka (III. vii.) Yajna- 
valkya describes the Atman as the " inner guide " {antar- 
ydmin) : " Who is in all beings, different from all beings, who 
guides all beings within, that is thy Self, the inward guide, 

The same Upanishad contains an interesting conversa- 
tion, in which King Ajatacatru of Kagi (Benares) instructs 
the Brahman, Balaki Gargya, that Brahma is not the 
spirit (purusha) which is in sun, moon, wind, and other 
natural phenomena, or even in the (waking) soul {atman), 
but is either the dreaming soul, which is creative, assum- 
ing any form at pleasure, or, in the highest stage, the 


soul in dreamless sleep, for here all phenomena have dis- 
appeared. This is the first and the last condition of 
Brahma, in which no world exists, all material existence 
being only the phantasms of the dreaming world-soul. 

Of somewhat similar purport is a passage of the 
Chhdndogya (viii. 7-12), where Prajapati is represented as 
teaching the nature of the Atman in three stages. The 
soul in the body as reflected in a mirror or water is first 
identified with Brahma, then the dreaming soul, and, 
lastly, the soul in dreamless sleep. 

How generally accepted the pantheistic theory must 
have become by the time the disputations at the court of 
King Janaka took place, is indicated by the form in which 
questions are put. Thus two different sages in the 
Brihadaranyaka (iii. 4, 5) successively ask Yajnavalkya 
in the same words : " Explain to us the Brahma which is 
manifest and not hidden y the Atman that dwells in every- 

With the doctrine that true knowledge led to supreme 
bliss by the absorption of the individual soul in Brahma 
went hand in hand the theory of transmigration (sam- 
sard). That theory is developed in the oldest tlpani- 
shads ; it must have been firmly established by the 
time Buddhism arose, for Buddha accepted it without 
question. Its earliest form is found in the atapatha 
Brahmana } where the notion of being born again after 
death and dying repeatedly is coupled with that of retri- 
bution. Thus it is here said that those who have correct 
knowledge and perform a certain sacrifice are born again 
* after death for immortality, while those who have not 
such knowledge and do not perform this sacrifice are 
reborn again and again, becoming the prey of Death. 
The notion here expressed does not go beyond repeated 


births and deaths in the next world. It is transformed 
to the doctrine of transmigration in the Upanishads by 
supposing rebirth to take place in this world. In the 
Brihaddranyaka we further meet with the beginnings of the 
doctrine of karma, or u action," which regulates the new 
birth, and makes it depend on a man's own deeds. When 
the body returns to the elements, nothing of the indi- 
viduality is here said to remain but the karma, according 
to which a man becomes good or bad. This is, perhaps, 
the germ of the Buddhistic doctrine, which, though deny- 
ing the existence of soul altogether, allows karma to 
continue after death and to determine the next birth. 

The most important and detailed account of the 
theory of transmigration which we possess from Vedic 
times is supplied by the Chhdndogya Upanishad. The 
forest ascetic possessed of knowledge and faith, it is here 
said, after death enters the devaydna, the "path of the 
gods," which leads to absorption in Brahma, while the 
householder who has performed sacrifice and good works 
goes by the pitriydna or u path of the Fathers " to the 
moon, where he remains till the consequences of his actions 
are exhausted. He then returns to earth, being first born 
again as a plant and afterwards as a man of one of the 
three highest castes. Here we have a double retribution, 
first in the next world, then by transmigration in this. 
The former is a survival of the old Vedic belief about the 
future life. The wicked are born again as outcasts 
(ckandalas), dogs or swine. 

The account of the Brihaddranyaka (VI. ii. 15-16) is 
similar. Those who have true knowledge and faith pass 
through the world of the gods and the sun to the world 
of Brahma, whence there is no return. Those who prac- 
tise sacrifice and good works pass through the world of 


the Fathers to the moon, whence they return to earth, 
being born again as men. Others become birds, beasts, 
and reptiles. 

The view of the Kaushitaki Upanishad (i. 2-3) is 
somewhat different. Here all who die go to the moon, 
whence some go by the "path of the Fathers" to 
Brahma, while others return to various forms of earthly 
existence, ranging from man to worm, according to the 
quality of their works and the degree of their knowledge. 

The Kdthaka, one of the most remarkable and 
beautiful of the Upanishads, treats the question of life 
after death in the form of a legend. Nachiketas, a young 
Brahman, visits the realm of Yama, who offers him the 
choice of three boons. For the third he chooses the 
answer to the question, whether man exists after death 
or no. Death replies : " Even the gods have doubted 
about this ; it is a subtle point ; choose another boon." 
After vain efforts to evade the question by offering 
Nachiketas earthly power and riches, Yama at last yields 
to his persistence and reveals the secret. Life and death, 
he explains, are only different phases of development. 
True knowledge, which consists in recognising the 
identity of the individual soul with the world soul, raises 
its possessor beyond the reach of death : 

When every passion vanishes 

That nestles in the human heart, 

Then man gains immortality, 

Then Brah?na is obtained by him (vi. 14). 

The story of the temptation of Nachiketas to choose 
the goods of this world in preference to the highest 
knowledge is probably the prototype of the legend of 
the temptation of Buddha by Mara or Death. Both by 
resisting the temptation obtain enlightenment. 


It must not of course be supposed that the Upani- 
shads, either as a whole or individually, offer a complete 
and consistent conception of the world logically de- 
veloped. They are rather a mixture of half-poetical, 
half-philosophical fancies, of dialogues and disputations 
dealing tentatively with metaphysical questions. Their 
speculations were only later reduced to a system in the 
Vedanta philosophy. The earliest of them can hardly 
be dated later than about 600 B.C., since some important 
doctrines first met with in them are presupposed by 
Buddhism. They may be divided chronologically, on 
internal evidence, into four classes. The oldest group, 
consisting, in chronological order, of the Brihaddranyaka, 
Chhdndogya, Taittirlya y Aitareya, Kaushitaki, is written 
in prose which still suffers from the awkwardness of 
the Brahmana style. A transition is formed by the 
Kena, which is partly in verse and partly in prose, to 
a decidedly later class, the Kdthaka, led, (^vetdevatara, 
Mundaka, Mahdndrdyana y which are metrical, and in 
which the Upanishad doctrine is no longer developing, 
but has become fixed. These are more attractive from 
the literary point of view. Even those of the older class 
acquire a peculiar charm from their liveliness, enthu- 
siasm, and freedom from pedantry, while their language 
often rises to the level of eloquence. The third class, 
comprising the Pracna } Maitrdyanlya, and Mdiidukya, 
reverts to the use of prose, which is, however, of a 
much less archaic type than that of the first class, and 
approaches that of classical Sanskrit writers. The fourth 
class consists of the later Atharvan Upanishads, some 
of which are composed in prose, others in verse. 

The Aitareya y one of the shortest of the Upanishads 
(extending to only about four octavo pages), consists of 


three chapters. The first represents the world as a 
creation of the Atman (also called Brahma), and man as 
its highest manifestation. It is based on the Purusha 
hymn of the Rigveda, but the primeval man is in the 
Upanishad described as having been produced by the 
Atman from the waters which it created. The Atman 
is here said to occupy three abodes in man, the senses, 
mind, and heart, to which respectively correspond the 
three conditions of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. 
The second chapter treats of the threefold birth of the 
Atman. The end of transmigration is salvation, which 
is represented as an immortal existence in heaven. The 
last chapter dealing with the nature of the Atman states 
that " consciousness (prajna) is Brahma." 

The Kaushitaki Upanishad is a treatise of considerable 
length divided into four chapters. The first deals with 
the two paths traversed by souls after death in connec- 
tion with transmigration ; the second with Prana or life 
as a symbol of the Atman. The last two, while discussing 
the doctrine of Brahma, contain a disquisition about the 
dependence of the objects of sense on the organs of 
sense, and of the latter on unconscious life {prana) and 
conscious life {prajnatma). Those who aim at redeeming 
knowledge are therefore admonished not to seek after 
objects or subjective faculties, but only the subject of 
cognition and action, which is described with much 
power as the highest god, and at the same time as the 
Atman within us. 

The Upanishads of the Samaveda start from the 
saman or chant, just as those of the Rigveda from the 
uktha or hymn recited by the Hotri priest, in order, by 
interpreting it allegorically, to arrive at a knowledge of 
the Atman or Brahma. The fact that the Upanishads 


have the same basis, which is, moreover, largely treated 
in a similar manner, leads to the conclusion that the 
various Vedic schools found a common body of oral 
tradition which they shaped into dogmatic texts-books 
or Upanishads in their own way. 

Thus the Chhdndogya y which is equal in importance, 
and only slightly inferior in extent, to the Brihaddranyaka, 
bears clear traces, like the latter, of being made up of 
collections of floating materials. Each of its eight chap- 
ters forms an independent whole, followed by supple- 
mentary pieces often but slightly connected with the 
main subject-matter. 

The first two chapters consist of mystical interpreta- 
tions of the sdman and its chief part, called Udgltha 
("loud song"). A supplement to the second chapter 
treats, among other subjects, of the or.igin of the syllable 
om y and of the three stages of religious life, those of the 
Brahman pupil, the householder, and the ascetic (to 
which later the religious mendicant was added as a 
fourth). The third chapter in the main deals with 
Brahma as the sun of the universe, the natural sun 
being its manifestation. The infinite Brahma is further 
described as dwelling, whole and undivided, in the heart 
of man. The way in which Brahma is to be attained 
is then described, and the great fundamental dogma 
of the identity of Brahma with the Atman (or, as we 
might say, of God and Soul) is declared. The chapter 
concludes with a myth which forms a connecting link 
between the cosmogonic conceptions of the Rigveda and 
those of the law-book of Manu. The fourth chapter, 
containing discussions about wind, breath, and other 
phenomena connected with Brahma, also teaches how 
the soul makes its way to Brahma after death. 


The first half of chapter v. is almost identical with 
the beginning of chapter vi. of the Brihadaranyaka. It 
is chiefly noteworthy for the theory of transmigration 
which it contains. The second half of the chapter is 
important as the earliest statement of the doctrine that 
the manifold world is unreal. The sat by desire pro- 
duced from itself the three primary elements, heat, water, 
food (the later number being five ether, air, fire, water, 
earth). As individual soul (jiva-dtman) it entered into 
these, which, by certain partial combinations called 
" triplication," became various products (vikdrd) or phe- 
nomena. But the latter are a mere name. Sat is the 
only reality, it is the Atman : " Thou art that." Chapter 
vii. enumerates sixteen forms in which Brahma may 
be adored, rising by gradation from naman f "name," 
to b human y " infinity," which is the all-in-all and the 
Atman within us. The first half of the last chapter dis- 
cusses the Atman in the heart and the universe, as well as 
how to attain it. The concluding portion of the chapter 
distinguishes the false from the true Atman, illustrated 
by the three stages in which it appears in the material 
body, in dreaming, and in sound sleep. In the latter 
stage we have the true Atman, in which the distinction 
between subject and object has disappeared. 

To the Sdmaveda also belongs a very short treatise 
which was long called the Talavakara Upanishad, from the 
school to which it was attached, but later, when it became 
separated from that school, received the name of Kena, 
from its initial word. It consists of two distinct parts. 
The second, composed in prose and much older, de- 
scribes the relation of the Vedic gods to Brahma, repre- 
senting them as deriving their power from and entirely 
dependent on the latter. The first part, which is metrical 


and belongs to the period of fully developed Vedanta 
doctrine, distinguishes from the qualified Brahma, which 
is an object of worship, the unqualified Brahma, which 
is unknowable : 

To it no eye can penetrate, 
Nor speech nor thought can ever reach : 
It rests unknown; we ca?mot see 
How any one may teach it us. 

The various Upanishads of the Black Yajurveda all 
bear the stamp of lateness. The Maitrayana is a prose 
work of considerable extent, in which occasional stanzas 
are interspersed. It consists of seven chapters, the 
seventh and the concluding eight sections of the sixth 
forming a supplement. The fact that it retains the 
orthographical and euphonic peculiarities of the Maitra- 
yana school, gives this Upanishad an archaic appear- 
ance. But its many quotations from other Upanishads, 
the occurrence of several late t words, the developed 
Sankhya doctrine presupposed by it, distinct references 
to anti-Vedic heretical schools, all combine to render the 
late character of this work undoubted. It is, in fact, a 
summing up of the old Upanishad doctrines with an 
admixture of ideas derived from the Sankhya system 
and from Buddhism. The main body of the treatise 
expounds the nature of the Atman, communicated to 
King Brihadratha of the race of Ikshvaku (probably 
identical with the king of that name mentioned in the 
Rdmdyana), who declaims at some length on the misery 
and transitoriness of earthly existence. Though pessi- 
mism is not unknown to the old Upanishads, it is much 
more pronounced here, doubtless in consequence of 
Sankhya and Buddhistic influence. 

The subject is treated in the form of three ques tions. 


The answer to the first, how the Atman enters the body, 
is that Prajapati enters in the form of the five vital airs in 
order to animate the lifeless bodies created by him. The 
second question is, How does the supreme soul become 
the individual soul (bhutdtman) ? This is answered rather 
in accordance with the Sankhya than the Vedanta 
doctrine. Overcome by the three qualities of matter 
(prakriti), the Atman, forgetting its real nature, becomes 
involved in self-consciousness and transmigration. The 
third question is, How is deliverance from this state 
of misery possible ? This is answered in conformity 
with neither Vedanta nor Sankhya doctrine, but in a 
reactionary spirit. Only those who observe the old 
requirements of Brahmanism, the rules of caste and 
the religious orders (dcramas), are declared capable of 
attaining salvation by knowledge, penance, and medi- 
tation on Brahma. The chief gods, that is to say, 
the triad of the Brahmana period, Fire, Wind, San, 
the three abstractions, Time, Breath, Food, and the three 
popular gods, Brahma, Rudra (i.e. (Jiva), and Vishnu are 
explained as manifestations of Brahma. 

The remainder of this Upanishad is supplementary, 
but contains several passages of considerable interest. 
We have here a cosmogonic myth, like those of the 
Brahmanas, in which the three qualities of matter, Tamas, 
Rajas, Sattva, are connected with Rudra, Brahma, and 
Vishnu, and which is in other respects very remarkable 
as a connecting link between the philosophy of the 
Rigveda and the later Sankhya system. The sun is fur- 
ther represented as the external, and prdna (breath) as 
the internal, symbol of the Atman, their worship being 
recommended by means of the sacred syllable om, the 

three "utterances" {vydhritis) bhur, bhuvah, svar t and the 


famous Sdvitri stanza. As a means of attaining Brahma 
we find a recommendation of Yoga or the ascetic prac- 
tices leading to a state of mental concentration and 
bordering on trance. The information we here receive 
of these practices is still undeveloped compared with 
the later system. In addition to the three conditions 
of Brahma, waking, dreaming, and deep sleep, mention 
is made of a fourth (turiyd) and highest stage. The 
Upanishad concludes with the declaration that the Atman 
entered the world of duality because it wished to taste 
both truth and illusion. 

Older than the Maitrdyana, which borrows from 
them, are two other Upanishads of the Black Yajur- 
veda y the Kdthaka and the (^vetdcvatara. The former 
contains some 120 and the latter some no stanzas. 

The Kdthaka deals with the legend of Nachiketas, 
which is told in the Kathaka portion of the Taittiriya 
Brdhmana, and a knowledge of which it presupposes. 
This is indicated by the fact that it begins with the 
same words as the Brahmana story. The treatise 
appears to have consisted originally of the first only 
of its two chapters. For the second, with its more 
developed notions about Yoga and its much more pro- 
nounced view as to the unreality of phenomena, looks 
like a later addition. The first contains an introductory 
narrative, an account of the Atman, of its embodiment 
and final return by means of Yoga, The second chap- 
ter, though less well arranged, on the whole corresponds 
in matter with the first. Its fourth section, while dis- 
cussing the nature of the Atman, identifies both soul 
{purusha) and matter (prakriti) with it. The fifth sec- 
tion deals with the manifestation of the Atman in the 
world, and especially in man. The way in which it at 


the same time remains outside them in its full integrity 
and is not affected by the suffering of living beings, is 
strikingly illustrated by the analogy of both light and 
air, which pervade space and yet embrace every object, 
and of the sun, the eye of the universe, which remains 
free from the blemishes of all other eyes outside of it. 
In the last section Yoga is taught to be the means 
of attaining the highest goal. The gradation of mental 
faculties here described is of great interest for the history 
of the Sankhya and Yoga system. An unconscious con- 
tradiction runs through this discussion, inasmuch as 
though the Atman is regarded as the all-in-all, a sharp 
contrast is drawn between soul and matter. It is the 
contradiction between the later Vedanta and the Sankhya- 
Yoga systems of philosphy. 

According to its own statement, the Qvetacvatara 
Upanishad derives its name from an individual author, 
and the tradition which attributes it to one of the 
schools of the Black Yajurveda hardly seems to have 
a sufficient foundation. Its confused arrangement, the 
irregularities and arbitrary changes of its metres, the 
number of interpolated quotations which it contains, 
make the assumption likely that the work in its pre- 
sent form is not the work of a single author. In its 
present form it is certainly later than the Kdthaka f since 
it contains several passages which must be referred to 
that work, besides many stanzas borrowed from it 
with or without variation. Its lateness is further indi- 
cated by the developed theory of Yoga which it contains, 
besides the more or less definite form in which it ex- 
hibits various Vedanta doctrines either unknown to or 
only foreshadowed in the earlier Upanishads. Among 
these may be mentioned the destruction of the world 


by Brahma at the end of a cosmic age {kalpa) y 
as well as its periodic renewal out of Brahma, and 
especially the explanation of the world as an illusion 
(mdya) produced by Brahma. At the same time the 
author shows a strange predilection for the personified 
forms of Brahma as Savitri, Icana, or Rudra. Though 
(^iva has not yet become the name of Rudra, its frequent 
use as an adjective connected with the latter shows 
that it is in course of becoming fixed as the proper 
name of the highest god. In this Upanishad we meet 
with a number of the terms and fundamental notions 
of the Sankhya, though the point of view is thoroughly 
Vedantist ; matter (prakriti), for instance, being repre- 
sented as an illusion produced by Brahma. 

To the White Yajurveda is attached the longest, and, 
beside the Chhdndogya, the most important of the Upani- 
shads. It bears even clearer traces than that work of 
being a conglomerate of what must originally have been 
separate treatises. It is divided into three parts, each 
containing two chapters. The last part is designated, 
even in the tradition of the commentaries, as a supple- 
ment (Khila~kdnda) y a statement fully borne out by the 
contents. That the first and second parts were also 
originally independent of each other is sufficiently 
proved by both containing the legend of Yajnavalkya 
and his two wives in almost identical words throughout. 
To each of these parts (as well as to Book x. of the 
(^atapatha Brdhmand) a successive list {vamcd) of teachers 
is attached. A comparison of these lists seems to justify 
the conclusion that the first part (called Madhukdndd) 
and the second ( Ydjnavalkya-kd?idd) existed during nine 
generations as independent Upanishads within the school 
of the White Yajurveda, and were then combined by a 


teacher named Agnivecya; the third part, which con- 
sists of all kinds of supplementary matter, being subse- 
quently added. These lists further make the conclusion 
probable that the leading teachers of the ritual tradition 
(Brahmanas) were different from those of the philoso- 
phical tradition (Upanishads). 

Beginning with an allegorical interpretation of the 
most important sacrifice, the Agvamedha (horse-sacrifice), 
as the universe, the first chapter proceeds to deal with 
prdna (breath) as a symbol of soul, and then with the 
creation of the world out of the Atman or Brahma, 
insisting on the dependence of all existence on the Su- 
preme Soul, which appears in every individual as his self. 
The polemical attitude adopted against the worship of 
the gods is characteristic, showing that the passage be- 
longs to an early period, in which the doctrine of the 
superiority of the Atman to the gods was still asserting 
itself. The next chapter deals with the nature of the Atman 
and its manifestations, purusJia and prdna. 

The second part of the Upanishad consists of four 
philosophical discussions, in which Yajnavalkya is the 
chief speaker. The first (iii. 1-9) is a great disputation, 
in which the sage proves his superiority to nine suc- 
cessive interlocutors. One of the most interesting con- 
clusions here arrived at is that Brahma is theoretically 
unknowable, but can be comprehended practically. The 
second discourse is a dialogue between King Janaka and 
Yajnavalkya, in which the latter shows the untenable- 
ness of six definitions set up by other teachers as to the 
nature of Brahma ; for , instance, that it is identical 
with Breath or Mind. He finally declares that the 
Atman can only be described negatively, being intangible, 
indestructible, independent, immovable. 


The third discourse (iv. 3-4) is another dialogue 
between Janaka and Yajnavalkya. It presents a picture 
of the soul in the conditions of waking, dreaming, deep 
sleep, dying, transmigration, and salvation. For wealth 
of illustration, fervour of conviction, beauty and elevation 
of thought, this piece is unequalled in the Upanishads 
or any other work of Indian literature. Its literary 
effect is heightened by the numerous stanzas with which 
it is interspersed. These are, however, doubtless later 
additions. The dreaming soul is thus described : 

Leaving its lower nest in breattts protection, 
And upward from that nest, immortal, soaring, 
Where'er it lists it roves about immortal, 
The golden-pinioned only swan of spirit (IV. iii. 13). 

// roves in dream condition up and downward, 
Divinely many shapes and forms assuming (ib. 14). 

Then follows an account of the dreamless state of the 
soul : 

As a falcon or an eagle, having flown about in the air, 
exhausted folds together its wings and prepares to alight, so 
the spirit hastes to that condition in which, asleep, it feels no 
desire and sees no dream (19). 

This is its essential form, in which it rises above desire, 
is free from evil and without fear. For as one embraced by 
a beloved woman wots not of anything without or within, 
so also the soul embraced by the cognitional Self wots not of 
anything without or within (21). 

With regard to the souls of those who are not saved, 
the view of the writer appears to be that after death 
they enter a new body immediately and without any 
intervening retribution in the other world, in exact 
accordance with their intellectual and moral quality. 


As a caterpillar, when it has reached the point of a leaf, 
makes a new beginning and draws itself across, so the soul, 
after casting off the body and letting go ignorance, makes a 
new beginning and draivs itself across (IV. iv. 3). 

As a goldsmith takes the material of an image and 
hammers out of it another newer and more beautiful form, 
so also the soul after casting off the body and letting go 
ignorance, creates for itself another newer and more beautiful 
form, either that of the Fathers or the Gandharvas or the 
Gods, or Prajapati or Brahma, or other beings (IV. iv. 4). 

But the vital airs of him who is saved, who knows 
himself to be identical with Brahma, do not depart, for 
he is absorbed in Brahma and is Brahma. 

As a serpent's skin, dead and cast off, lies upon an ant- 
hill, so his body then lies ; but that which is bodiless and 
immortal, the life, is pure Brahma, is pure light (IV. iv. 7). 

The fourth discourse is a dialogue between Yajna- 
valkya and his wife Maitreyl, before the former, about 
to renounce the world, retires to the solitude of the 
forest. There are several indications that it is a secon- 
dary recension of the same conversation occurring in a 
previous chapter (II. iv.). 

The first chapter of the third or supplementary 
part consists of fifteen sections, which are often quite 
short, are mostly unconnected in matter, and appear to 
be of very different age. The second chapter, however, 
forms a long and important treatise (identical with that 
found in the Chhandogyd) on the doctrine of transmigration. 
The views here expressed are so much at variance with 
those of Yajnavalkya that this text must have originated 
in another Vedic school, and have been loosely attached 
to this Upanishad owing to the peculiar importance of 


its contents. The preceding and following section, which 
are connected with it, and are also found in the Chhdn- 
dogya, must have been added at the same time. 

. Not only is the longest Upanishad attached to the 
White Yajurveda, but also one of the very shortest, 
consisting of only eighteen stanzas. This is the led, 
which is so called from its initial word. Though form- 
ing the last chapter of the Vdjasaneyi Samhitd, it belongs 
to a rather late period. It is about contemporaneous 
with the latest parts of the Brihaddrariyaka, is more 
developed in many points than the Kathaka, but seems 
to be older than the Qvetdcvatara. Its leading motive 
is to contrast him who knows himself to be the same 
as the Atman with him who does not possess true 
knowledge. It affords an excellent survey of the funda- 
mental doctrines of the Vedanta philosophy. 

A large and indefinite number of Upanishads is attri- 
buted to the Atharva-veda, but the most authoritative 
list recognises twenty-seven altogether. They are for 
the most part of very late origin, being post-Vedic, and, 
all but three, contemporaneous with the Puranas. One 
of them is actually a Muhammadan treatise entitled the 
Alia Upanishad ! The older Upanishads which belong to 
the first three Vedas were, with a few exceptions like the 
vetdcvatara, the dogmatic text-books of actual Vedic 
schools, and received their names from those schools, 
being connected with and supplementary to the ritual 
Brahmanas. The Upanishads of the Atharva-veda, on the 
other hand, are with few exceptions like the Mandukya 
and the Jdbala, no longer connected with Vedic schools, 
but derive their names from their subject-matter or 
some other circumstance. They appear for the most 
part to represent the views of theosophic, mystic, ascetic, 


or sectarian associations, who wished to have an Upani- 
shad of their own in imitation of the old Vedic schools. 
They became attached to the A tharva-ve da not from any 
internal connection, but partly because the followers of 
the Atharva-veda desired to become possessed of dog- 
matic text-books of their own, and partly because the 
fourth Veda was not protected from the intrusion of 
foreign elements by the watchfulness of religious guilds 
like the old Vedic schools. 

The fundamental doctrine common to all the Upani- 
shads of the Atharva-veda is developed by most of 
them in various special directions. They may accord- 
ingly be divided into four categories which run chro- 
nologically parallel with one another, each containing 
relatively old and late productions. The first group, 
as directly investigating the nature of the Atman, has 
a scope similar to that of the Upanishads of the other 
Vedas, and goes no further than the latter in develop- 
ing its main thesis. The next group, taking the funda- 
mental doctrine for granted, treats of absorption in the 
Atman through ascetic meditation {yoga) based on the 
component parts of the sacred syllable om. These 
Upanishads are almost without exception composed 
in verse and are quite short, consisting on the average 
of about twenty stanzas. In the third category the 
life of the religious mendicant (sannyasiri), as a practical 
consequence of the Upanishad doctrine, is recommended 
and described. These Upanishads, too, are short, but 
are written in prose, though with an admixture of verse. 
The last group is sectarian in character, interpreting 
the popular gods (Jiva (under various names, such as 
Igana, Mahegvara, Mahadeva) and Vishnu (as Nara- 
yana and Nrisimha or " Man-lion") as personifications 


of the Atman. The different Avatars of Vishnu are 
here regarded as human manifestations of the Atman. 

The oldest and most important of these Atharvan 
Upanishads, as representing the Vedanta doctrine most 
faithfully, are the Munddka, the Pracna, and to a less 
degree the Mandukya. The first two come nearest to 
the Upanishads of the older Vedas, and are much 
quoted by Badarayana and (^ankara, the great authori- 
ties of the later Vedanta philosophy. They are the only 
original and legitimate Upanishads of the Atharva. The 
Mundaka derives its name from being the Upanishad 
of the tonsured (munda), an association of ascetics who 
shaved their heads, as the Buddhist monks did later. 
It is one of the most popular of the Upanishads, not 
owing to the originality of its contents, which are for the 
most part derived from older texts, but owing to the purity 
with which it reproduces the old Vedanta doctrine, and 
the beauty of the stanzas in which it is composed. It 
presupposes, above all, the Chhdndogya Upanishad, and in 
all probability the Brihadaranyaka, the Taittirlya, and the 
Kathaka. Having several important passages in common 
with the ^vetacvatara and the Brihanndrdyana of the Black 
Yajurveda, it probably belongs to the same epoch, 
coming between the two in order of time. It consists 
of three parts, which, speaking generally, deal respec- 
tively with the preparations for the knowledge of 
Brahma, the doctrine of Brahma, and the way to 

The Pragna Upanishad, written in prose and appa- 
rently belonging to the Pippalada recension of the 
Atharva-veda, is so called because it treats, in the form 
of questions (pracnd) addressed by six students of 
Brahma to the sage Pippalada, six main points of the 


Vedanta doctrine. These questions concern the origin 
of matter and life {prdna) from Prajapati ; the supe- 
riority of life {prdna) above the other vital powers ; the 
nature and divisions of the vital powers ; dreaming and 
dreamless sleep ; meditation on the syllable 0111 ; and 
the sixteen parts of man. 

The Mdndukya is a very short prose Upanishad, 
which would hardly fill two pages of the present book. 
Though bearing the name of a half-forgotten school 
of the Rigveda, it is reckoned among the Upanishads 
of the Atharva-veda. It must date from a considerably 
later time than the prose Upanishads of the three older 
Vedas, with the unmethodical treatment and prolixity 
of which its precision and conciseness are in marked 
contrast. It has many points of contact with the 
Maitrdyana Upanishad, to which it seems to be pos- 
terior. It appears, however, to be older than the rest 
of the treatises which form the fourth class of the 
Upanishads of the Atharva-veda. Thus it distinguishes 
only three morae in the syllable am, and not yet three 
and a half. The fundamental idea of this Upanishad 
is that the sacred syllable is an expression of the uni- 
verse. It is somewhat remarkable that this work is 
not quoted by (^ankara ; nevertheless, it not only exer- 
cised a great influence on several Upanishads of the 
Atharva-veda y but was used more than any other Upa- 
nishad by the author of the well-known later epitome 
of the Vedanta doctrine, the Veddnta-sdra. 

It is, however, chiefly important as having given 
rise to one of the most remarkable products of Indian 
philosophy, the Kdrikd of Gaudapada. This work con- 
sists of more than 200 stanzas divided into four parts, 
the first of which includes the Mdndukya Upanishad, 


The esteem in which the Kdrikd was held is indicated by 
the fact that its parts are reckoned as four Upanishads. 
There is much probability in the assumption that its 
author is identical with Gaudapada, the teacher of 
Govinda, whose pupil was the great Vedantist com- 
mentator, (^ANKARA (800 A.D.). The point of view of 
the latter is the same essentially as that of the author 
of the Kdrikd, and many of the thoughts and figures 
which begin to appear in the earlier work are in 
common use in Cankara's commentaries. (^ankara 
may, in fact, be said to have reduced the doctrines of 
Gaudapada to a system, as did Plato those of Par- 
menides. Indeed, the two leading ideas which pervade 
the Indian poem, viz., that there is no duality (advaitd) 
and no becoming (ajdti) y are, as Professor Deussen 
points out, identical with those of the Greek philosopher. 

The first part of the Kdrikd is practically a metrical 
paraphrase of the Mdndukya Upomishad. Peculiar to 
it is the statement that the world is not an illusion or 
a development in any sense, but the very nature or 
essence (svablidvd) of Brahma, just as the rays, which 
are all the same (i.e. light), are not different from the 
sun. The remainder of the poem is independent of 
the Upanishad and goes far beyond its doctrines. The 
second part has the special title of Vaitathya or the 
"Falseness" of the doctrine of reality. Just as a rope 
is in the dark mistaken for a snake, so the Atman in 
the darkness of ignorance is mistaken for the world. 
Every attempt to imagine the Atman under empirical 
forms is futile, for every one's idea of it is dependent 
on his experience of the world. 

The third part is entitled Advaita, "Non-duality." 
The identity of the Supreme Soul (Atman) with the 


individual soul (jiva) is illustrated by comparison with 
space, and that part of it which is contained in a jar. 
Arguing against the theory of genesis and plurality, 
the poet lays down the axiom that nothing can be- 
come different from its own nature. The production 
of the existent (sato janmd) is impossible, for that would 
be produced which already exists. The production of 
the non-existent {asato janmd) is also impossible, for 
the non-existent is never produced, any more than the 
son of a barren woman. The last part is entitled A lata- 
ganti, or " Extinction of the firebrand (circle)," so called 
from an ingenious comparison made to explain how 
plurality and genesis seem to exist in the world. If 
a stick which is glowing at one end is waved about, fiery 
lines or circles are produced without anything being 
added to or issuing from the single burning point. The 
fiery line or circle exists only in the consciousness 
(yijnana). So, too, the many phenomena of the world 
are merely the vibrations of the consciousness, which 
is one. 


{Circa 500-200 B.C.) 

As the Upanishads were a development of the specu- 
lative side of the Brahmanas and constituted the text- 
books of Vedic dogma, so the (Jrauta Sutras form the 
continuation of their ritual side, though they are not, 
like the Upanishads, regarded as a part of revela- 
tion. A sacred character was never attributed to 
them, probably because they were felt to be treatises 
compiled, with the help of oral priestly tradition, from 
the contents of the Brahmanas solely to meet practical 
needs. The oldest of them seem to go back to about 
the time when Buddhism came into being. Indeed it 
is quite possible that the rise of the rival religion gave 
the first impetus to the composition of systematic 
manuals of Brahmanic worship. The Buddhists in 
their turn must have come to regard Sutras as the type 
of treatise best adapted for, the expression of religious 
doctrine, for the earliest Pali texts are works of this 
character. The term Kalpa Sutra is used to designate 
the whole body of Sutras concerned with religion which 
belonged to a particular Vedic school. Where such a 
complete collection has been preserved, the (Jrauta Sutra 
forms its first and most extensive portion. 

To the Rigveda belong the ^rauta manuals of two 



Sutra schools (charanas), the (Jankhayanas and the 
Acvalayanas, the former of whom were in later times 
settled in Northern Gujarat, the latter in the South 
between the Godavarl and the Krishna. The ritual is 
described in much the same order by both, but the 
account of the great royal sacrifices is much more de- 
tailed in the ^dnkhdyana Qrauta Sutra. The latter, which 
is closely connected with the ^dnkhdyana Brdhmana y 
seems to be the older of the two, on the ground both 
of its matter and of its style, which in many parts 
resembles that of the Brahmanas. It consists of 
eighteen books, the last two of which were added later, 
and correspond to the first two books of the Kaushltaki 
Aranyaka. The Crauta Sutra of AgvALAYANA, which 
consists of twelve books, is related to the Aitareya 
Brdhmana. Acvalayana is also known as the author 
of the fourth book of the Aitareya Araiiyaka y and was 
according to tradition the pupil of (^aunaka. 

Three (Jrauta Sutras to the Sdmaveda have been pre- 
served. The oldest, that of Ma^aka, also called Arsheya- 
kalpa } is nothing more than an enumeration of the 
prayers belonging to the various ceremonies of the Soma 
sacrifice in the order of the Panchavimca Brdhmana, 
The (^rauta Sutra composed by Latyayana, became the 
accepted manual of the Kauthuma school. This Sutra, 
like that of Macaka, which it quotes, is closely connected 
with the Panchavimca Brdhmana. The (Jrauta Sutra of 
Drahyayana, which differs but little from that of Latya- 
yana, belongs to the Ranayanlya branch of the Sdma- 

To the White Yajurveda belongs the (Jrauta Sutra of 
Katyayana. This manual, which consists of twenty-six 
chapters, on the whole strictly follows the sacrificial 


order of the Qatapatha Brahmana. Three of its chapters 
(xxii.-xxiv.), however, relate to the ceremonial of the 
Sdmaveda. Owing to the enigmatical character of its 
style, it appears to be one of the later productions of 
the Sutra period. 

No less than six (Jrauta Sutras belonging to the Black 
Yajurveda have been preserved, but only two of them 
have as yet been published. Four of these form a very 
closely connected group, being part of the Kalpa Sutras 
of four subdivisions of the Taittirlya (Jakha, which repre- 
sented the later sutra schools (ckaranas) not claiming a 
special revelation of Veda or Brahmana. The (Jrauta 
Sutra of Apastamba forms the first twenty-four of the 
thirty chapters (pracnas) into which his Kalpa Sutra is 
divided; and that of Hiranyake^in, an offshoot of 
the Apastambas, the first eighteen of the twenty-nine 
chapters of his Kalpa Sutra. The Sutra of Baudhayana, 
who is older than Apastamba, as well as that of Bharad- 
vaja, has not yet been published. 

Connected with the Maitrdyani Samhitd is the Mdnava 
Qrauta Sutra. It belongs to the Manavas, who w T ere a 
subdivision of the Maitrayaniyas, and to whom the law- 
book of Manu probably traces its origin. It seems to be 
one of the oldest. It has a descriptive character, re- 
sembling the Brahmana parts of the Yajurveda } and 
differing from them only in simply describing the course 
of the sacrifice, to the exclusion of legends, speculations, 
or discussions of any kind. There is also a Vaikhdnasa 
Qrauta Sutra attached to the Black Yajurveda, but it is 
known only in a few MSS. 

The (^rauta Sutra of the Atharva-veda is the Vaitdna 
Sutra. It is neither old nor original, but was un- 
doubtedly compiled in order to supply the Atharva, like 


the other Vedas, with a Sutra of its own. It probably 
received its name from the word with which it begins, 
since the term vaitdna (" relating to the three sacrificial 
fires") is equally applicable to all (Jrauta Sutras. It 
agrees to a considerable extent with the Gopatha Brdh- 
mana, though it distinctly follows the Sutra of Katyayana 
to the White Yajurveda. One indication of its lateness 
is the fact that whereas in other cases a Grihya regularly 
presupposes the (Jrauta Sutra, the Vaitdna is dependent 
on the domestic sutra of the Atharva-veda. 

Though the (Jrauta Sutras are indispensable for the 
right understanding of the sacrificial ritual, they are, from 
any other point of view, a most unattractive form of litera- 
ture. It will, therefore, suffice to mention in briefest out- 
line the ceremonies with which they deal. It is important 
to remember, in the first place, that these rites are never 
congregational, but are always performed on behalf of a 
single individual, the so-called Yajamdna or sacrificer, 
who takes but little part in them. The officiators are 
Brahman priests, whose number varies from one to 
sixteen, according to the nature of the ceremony. In all 
these rites an important part is played by the three sacred 
fires which surround the vedi, a slightly excavated spot 
covered with a litter of grass for the reception of offer- 
ings to the gods. The first ceremony of all is the setting 
up of the sacred fires (agni-ddheya), which are kindled 
by the sacrificer and his wife with the firesticks, and are 
thereafter to be regularly maintained. 

The (Jrauta rites, fourteen in number, are divided into 
the two main groups of seven oblation {havis) sacrifices 
and seven soma sacrifices. Different forms of the animal 
sacrifice are classed with each group. The havis sacri- 
fices consist of offerings of milk, ghee, porridge, grain, 


cakes, and so forth. The commonest is the Agnihotra, 
the daily morning and evening oblation of milk to the 
three fires. The most important of the others are the 
new and full moon sacrifices (dar^apurna-mdsd) and 
those offered at the beginning of the three seasons 
{chdturmdsyd). Besides some other recurrent sacrifices, 
there are very many which are to be offered on some 
particular occasion, or for the attainment of some special 

The various kinds of Soma sacrifices were much 
more complicated. Even the simplest and fundamental 
form, the Agnishtoma ("praise of Agni") required the 
ministrations of sixteen priests. This rite occupied only 
one day, with three pressings of soma, at morning, noon, 
and evening ; but this day was preceded by very detailed 
preparatory ceremonies, one of which was the initiation 
(diksha) of the sacrificer and his wife. Other soma 
sacrifices lasted for several days up to twelve; while 
another class, called sattras or " sessions," extended to 
a year or more. 

A very sacred ceremony that can be connected with 
the soma sacrifice is the Agnichayana y or " Piling of the 
fire-altar," which lasts for a year. It begins with a sacri- 
fice of five animals. Then a long time is occupied in 
preparing the earthenware vessel, called ukhd, in which 
fire is to be maintained for a year. Very elaborate rules 
are given both as to the ingredients, such as the hair of a 
black antelope, with which the clay is to be mixed, and 
as to how it is to be shaped, and finally burnt. Then 
the bricks, which have different and particular sizes, have 
to be built up in prescribed order. The lowest of the 
five strata must have 1950, all of them together, a total 
of 10,800 bricks. Many of these have their special name 


and significance. Thus the altar is gradually built up, 
as its bricks are placed in position, to the accompani- 
ment of appropriate rites and verses, by a formidable 
array of priests. These are but some of the main points 
in the ceremony ; but they will probably give some faint 
idea of the enormous complexity and the vast mass of 
detail, where the smallest of minutiae are of importance, 
in the Brahman ritual. No other religion has ever known 
its like. 

As the domestic ritual is almost entirely excluded 
from the Brahmanas, the authors of the Grihya Sutras 
had only the authority of popular tradition to rely on 
when they systematised the observances of daily life. 
As a type, the Grihya manuals must be somewhat later 
than the (Jrauta, for they regularly presuppose a know- 
ledge of the latter. 

To the Rigvcda belongs in the first place the dn- 
khdyana Grihya Sutra, It consists of six books, but 
only the first four form the original portion of the 
work, and even these contain interpolations. Closely 
connected with this work is the Qdmbavya Grihya, which 
also belongs to the school of the Kaushltakins, and is 
as yet known only in manuscript. Though borrowing 
largely from (^ankhayana, it is not identical with that 
work. It knows nothing of the last two books, nor 
even a number of ceremonies described in the third 
and fourth, while having a book of its own concerning 
the sacrifice to the Manes. Connected with the Aitareya 
Brahmana is the Grihya Sutra of Acvalayana, which its 
author in the first aphorism gives us to understand is 
a continuation of his (^rauta Sutra. It consists of four 
books, and, like the latter work, ends with the words 
" adoration to aunaka." 


The chief Grihya Sutra of the Sdmaveda is that 
of Gobhila, which is one of the oldest, completest, and 
most interesting works of this class. Its seems to have 
been used by both the schools of its Veda. Besides 
the text of the Sdmaveda it presupposes the Mantra 
Brdhmana. The latter is a collection, in the ritual order, 
of the mantras (except those occurring in the Sdmaveda 
itself), which are quoted by Gobhila in an abbreviated 
form. The Grihya Sutra of Khadira, belonging to the 
Drahyayana school and used by the Ranayanlya branch 
of the Sdmaveda, is little more than Gobhila remodelled 
in a more succinct form. 

The Grihya Sutra of the White Yajurveda is that 
of PARASKARA, also called the Kdtiya or Vdjasaneya 
Grihya Sutra. It is so closely connected with the 
(Jrauta Sutra of Katyayana, that it is often quoted 
under the name of that author. The later law-book of 
Yajnavalkya bears evidence of the influence of Para- 
skara's work. 

Of the seven Grihya Sutras of the Black Yajurveda 
only three have as yet been published. The Grihya 
of Apastamba forms two books (26-27) f ms Kalpa 
Sutra. The first of these two books is the Manfra- 
pdtha, which is a collection of the formulas accompanying 
the ceremonies. The Grihya Sutra, in the strict sense, 
is the second book, which presupposes the Mantrapdtha. 
Books XIX. and XX. of Hiranyakecin's Kalpa Sutra 
form his Grihya Sutra. About Baudhayana's Grihya 
not much is known, still less about that of Bharadvaja. 
The Mdnava Grihya Sutra is closely connected with 
the (Jrauta, repeating many of the statements of the 
latter verbally. It is interesting as containing a cere- 
mony unknown to other Grihya Sutras, the worship 


of the Vinayakas. The passage reappears in a versified 
form in Yajnavalkya's law-book, where the four Vina- 
yakas are transformed into the one Vinayaka, the god 
Ganeea. With the Mdnava is clearly connected the 
Kdthaka Grihya Sutra, not only in the principle of 
its arrangement, but even in the wording of many 
passages. It is nearly related to the law-book of Vishnu. 
The Vaikhdnasa Grihya Sutra is an extensive work 
bearing traces of a late origin, and partly treating 
of subjects otherwise relegated to works of a supple- 
mentary character. 

To the Atharva-veda belongs the important Kaucika 
Siitra, It is not a mere Grihya Sutra, for besides 
giving the more important rules of the domestic ritual, 
it deals with the magical and other practices specially 
connected with its Veda. By its extensive references 
to these subjects it supplies much material unknown 
to other Vedic schools. It is a composite work, appa- 
rently made up of four or five different treatises. In 
combination with the Atharva-veda it supplies an almost 
complete picture of the ordinary life of the Vedic 

The Grihya Sutras give the rules for the numerous 
ceremonies applicable to the domestic life of a man 
and his family from birth to the grave. For the per- 
formance of their ritual only the domestic (avasathya 
or vaivdhikd) fire was required, as contrasted with the 
three sacrificial fires of the Crauta Sutras. They de- 
scribe forty consecrations or sacraments (samskdras) 
which are performed at various important epochs in 
the life of the individual. The first eighteen, extending 
from conception to marriage, are called " bodily sacra- 
ments." The remaining twenty-two are sacrifices. Eight 


of these, the five daily sacrifices (inahayajnd) and some 
other " baked offerings " (pakayajna), form part of the 
Grihya ceremonies, the rest belonging to the (^rauta 

The first of the sacraments is the pumsavana or 
ceremony aiming at the obtainment of a son. The 
most common expedient prescribed is the pounded 
shoot of a banyan tree placed in the wife's right nostril. 
After the birth-rites (jdta - karma), the ceremony of 
giving the child its names {ndma-karand) takes place, 
generally on the tenth day after birth. Two are given, 
one being the " secret name," known only to the parents, 
as a protection against witchcraft, the other for com- 
mon use. Minute directions are given as to the quality 
of the name ; for instance, that it should contain an 
even number of syllables, begin with a soft letter, and 
have a semi-vowel in the middle ; that for a Brahman 
it should end in -qarman, for a Kshatriya in -varman y 
and a Vaicya in -gupta. Generally in the third year 
takes place the ceremony of tonsure (chuda-karand), 
when the boy's hair was cut, one or more tufts being 
left on the top, so that his hair might be worn after 
the fashion prevailing in his family. In the sixteenth 
year the rite of shaving the beard was performed. Its 
name, go-ddna, or "gift of cows," is due to the fee usually 
having been a couple of cattle. 

By far the most important ceremony of boyhood 
was that of apprenticeship to a teacher or initiation 
(upanayand), which in the case of a Brahman may take 
place between the eighth and sixteenth year, but a 
few years later in the case of the Kshatriya and the 
Vaicya. On this occasion the youth receives a staff, 
a garment, a girdle, and a cord worn over one shoulder 


and under the other arm. The first is made of different 
wood, the others of different materials according to 
caste. The sacred cord is the outward token of the 
Arya or member of one of the three highest castes, 
and by investiture with it he attains his second birth, 
being thenceforward a " twice-born " man {dvi-jd). The 
spiritual significance of this initiation is the right to 
study the Veda, and especially to recite the most sacred 
of prayers, the Sdvitrl. In this ceremony the teacher 
{achdryd) who initiates the young Brahman is regarded 
as his spiritual father, and the Sdvitri as his mother. 

The rite of upanayana is still practised in India. It 
is based on a very old custom. The Avestan ceremony 
of investing the boy of fifteen with a sacred cord upon 
his admission into the Zoroastrian community shows 
that it goes back to Indo-Iranian times. The preva- 
lence among primitive races all over the world of a rite 
of initiation, regarded as a second birth, upon the 
attainment of manhood, indicates that it was a still 
older custom, which in the Brahman system became 
transformed into a ceremony of admission to Vedic 

Besides his studies, the course of which is regulated 
by detailed rules, the constant duties of the pupil are 
the collection of fuel, the performance of devotions at 
morning and evening twilight, begging food, sleeping 
on the ground, and obedience to his teacher. 

At the conclusion of religious studentship {brahma- 
charya)> which lasted for twelve years, or till the pupil 
had mastered his Veda, he performs the rite of return 
{samdvartana), the principal part of which is a bath, 
with which he symbolically washes off his apprentice- 
ship. He is now a sndtaka ("one who has bathed"), 


and soon proceeds to the most important sacrament 
of his life, marriage. The main elements of this cere- 
mony doubtless go back to the Indo-European period, 
and belong rather to the sphere of witchcraft than of 
the sacrificial cult. The taking of her hand placed 
the bride in the power of her husband. The stone on 
which she stepped was to give her firmness. The seven 
steps which she took with her husband, and the sacri- 
ficial food which she shared with him, were to inaugurate 
friendship and community. Future abundance and 
male offspring were prognosticated when she had been 
conducted to her husband's house, by seating her on 
the hide of a red bull and placing upon her lap the 
son of a woman who had only borne living male 
children. The god most closely connected with the 
rite was Agni ; for the husband led his bride three 
times round the nuptial fire whence the Sanskrit name 
for wedding, pari-naya, " leading round " and the newly 
kindled domestic fire was to accompany the couple 
throughout life. Offerings are made to it and Vedic 
formulas pronounced. After sunset the husband leads 
out his bride, and as he points to the pole-star and 
the star ArundhatI, they exhort each other to be con- 
stant and undivided for ever. These wedding ceremonies, 
preserved much as they are described in the Sutras, 
are still widely prevalent in the India of to-day. 

All the above-mentioned sacraments are exclusively 
meant for males, the only one in which girls had a share 
being marriage (yivdha). About twelve of these Sam- 
skdras are still practised in India, investiture being still 
the most important next to marriage. Some of the 
ceremonies only survive in a symbolical form, as those 
connected with religious studentship. 


Among the most important duties of the new house- 
holder is the regular daily offering of the five great 
sacrifices (mahd-yajna) f which are the sacrifice to the 
Veda [brahma-yajnd], or Vedic recitation ; the offering 
to the gods (deva-yajna) of melted butter in fire (Jiomd) ; 
the libation (tarpana) to the Manes (pitri-yajna) ; offer- 
ings (called bait) deposited in various places on the 
ground to demons and all beings {bhuta-yajna) ; and the 
sacrifice to men (manushya-yajna), consisting in hospi- 
tality, especially to Brahman mendicants. The first is 
regarded as by far the highest ; the recitation of the 
sdvitrly in particular, at morning and evening worship, 
is as meritorious as having studied the Veda. All these 
five daily sacrifices are still in partial use among orthodox 

There are other sacrifices which occur periodically. 
Such are the new and full moon sacrifices, in which, 
according to the Grihya ritual, a baked offering {pdka- 
yajna) is made, while, according to the (^rauta ceremony, 
cakes (j>urodd$a) are offered. There is, further, at the 
beginning of the rains an offering made to serpents, 
when the use of a raised bed is enjoined, owing to the 
danger from snakes at that time. Various ceremonies 
are connected with the building and entering of a new 
house. Detailed rules are given about the site as well 
as the construction. A door on the west is, for instance, 
forbidden. On the completion of the house, which is 
built of wood and bamboo, an animal is sacrificed. 
Other ceremonies are concerned with cattle ; for in- 
stance, the release of a young bull for the benefit of 
the community. Then there are agricultural ceremonies, 
such as the offering of the first-fruits and rites con- 
nected with ploughing. Mention is also made of offer- 


ings to monuments (chaityas) erected to the memory of 
teachers. There are, moreover, directions as to what is 
to be done in case of evil dreams, bad omens, and 

Finally, one of. the most interesting subjects with 
which the Grihya Sutras deal is that of funeral rites 
(antyeshti) and the worship of the Manes. All but 
children under two years of age are to be cremated. 
The dead man's hair and beard are cut off and his nails 
trimmed, the body being anointed with nard and a 
wreath being placed on the head. Before being burnt 
the corpse is laid on a black antelope skin. In the case 
of a Kshatriya, his bow (in that of a Brahman his staff, 
of a Vaicya his goad) is taken from his hand, broken, 
and cast on the pyre, while a cow or a goat is burnt 
with the corpse. Afterwards a purifying ablution is per- 
formed by all relations to the seventh or tenth degree. 
They then sit down on a grassy spot and listen to old 
stories or a sermon on the transitoriness of life till the 
stars appear. At last, without looking round, they return 
in procession to their homes, where various observances 
are gone through. A death is followed by a period of 
impurity, generally lasting three days, during which the 
relatives are required, among other things, to sleep on 
the ground and refrain from eating flesh. On the night 
after the death a cake is offered to the deceased, and a 
libation of water is poured out ; a vessel with milk and 
water is also placed in the open air, and the dead man is 
called upon to bathe in it. Generally after the tenth day 
the bones are collected and placed in an urn, which is 
buried to the accompaniment of the Rigvedic verse, 
a Approach thy mother earth" (x. 18, 10). 

The soul is supposed to remain separated from the 


Manes for a time as a preta or " ghost." A qrdddha, or 
" offering given with faith " (graddhd), of which it is the 
special object (ekoddishta), is presented to it in this state, 
the idea being that it would otherwise return and dis- 
quiet the relatives. Before the expiry of a year he is 
admitted to the circle of the Manes by a rite which 
makes him their sapinda (" united by the funeral cake "). 
After the lapse of a year or more another elaborate 
ceremony (called pitri-medha) takes place in connection 
with the erection of a monument, when the bones are 
taken out of the urn and buried in a suitable place. 
There are further various general offerings to the Manes, 
or grdddhasj which take place at fixed periods, such as 
that on the day of new moon (pdrvana $rdddha) y while 
others are only occasional and optional. These rites 
still play an important part in India, well-to-do families 
in Bengal spending not less than 5000 to 6000 rupees 
on their first grdddha. 

From all these offerings of the Grihya ritual are to 
be distinguished the two regular sacrifices of the Crauta 
ritual, the one called Pinda-pitri-yajna immediately pre- 
ceding the new-moon sacrifice, the other being con- 
nected with the third of the four-monthly sacrifices. 

The ceremonial of ancestor-worship was especially 
elaborated, and developed a special literature of its own, 
extending from the Vedic period to the legal Compendia 
of the Middle Ages. The Qrdddha-kalpa of Hemadri 
comprises upwards of 1700 pages in the edition of the 
Bibliotheca Indica. 

The above is the briefest possible sketch of the 
abundant material of the Grihya Sutras, illustrating the 
daily domestic life of ancient India. Perhaps, how- 
ever, enough has been said to show that they have 


much human interest, and that they occupy an im- 
portant place in the history of civilisation. 

The second branch of the Sutra literature, based on 
tradition or Smriti, are the Dharma Sutras, which deal 
with the customs of everyday life (sdmayachdrikd). They 
are the earliest Indian works on law, treating fully of its 
religious, but only partially and briefly of its secular, 
aspect. The term Dharma Sutra is, strictly speaking, 
applied to those collections of legal aphorisms which 
form part of the body of Sutras belonging to a particular 
branch (cdkhd) of the Veda. In this sense only three 
have been preserved, all of them attached to the Tait- 
tirlya division of the Black Yajurveda. But there is good 
reason to suppose that other works of the same kind 
which have been preserved, or are known to have existed, 
were originally also attached to individual Vedic schools. 
That Sutras on Dharma were composed at a very early 
period is shown by the fact that Yaska, who dates from 
near the beginning of the Sutra age, quotes legal rules 
in the Sutra style. Indeed, one or two of those extant 
must go back to about his time. 

The Dharma Sutra which has been best preserved, 
and has remained free from the influence of sectarians 
or modern editors, is that of the Apastambas. It forms 
two (28-29) f *h e thirty sections of the great Apastamba 
Kalpa Sutra, or body of aphorisms concerning the per- 
formance of sacrifices and the duties of the three upper 
classes. It deals chiefly with the duties of the Vedic 
student and of the householder, with forbidden food, 
purifications, and penances, while, on the secular side, 
it touches upon the law of marriage, inheritance, and 
crime only. From the disapprobation which the author 
expresses for a certain practice of the people of the North, 


it may be inferred that he belonged to the South, where 
his school is known to have been settled in later times. 
Owing to the pre-Paninean character of its language 
and other criteria, Biihler has assigned this Dharma 
Sutra to about 400 B.C. 

Very closely connected with this work is the Dharma 
Sutra of Hiranyakecin ; for the differences between the 
two do not go much beyond varieties of reading. In 
keeping with this relationship is the tradition that Hiran- 
yakecin branched off from the Apastambas and founded 
a new school in the Konkan country on the south-west 
(about Goa). The lower limit for this separation from 
the Apastambas is about 500 A.D., when a Hiranyakecin 
Brahman is mentioned in an inscription. The main 
importance of this Sutra lies in its confirming, by the 
parallelism of its text, the genuineness of by far the 
greatest part of Apastamba's work. It forms two (26-27) 
of the twenty-nine chapters of the Kalpa Sutra belong- 
ing to the school of Hiranyakecin. 

The third Dharma Sutra, generally styled a dharma- 
castra in the MSS., is that of Baudhayana. Its position, 
however, within the Kalpa Sutra of its school is not so 
fixed as in the two previous cases. Its subject-matter, 
when compared with that of Apastamba's Dharma 
Sutra, indicates that it is the older of the two, just as 
the more archaic and awkward style of Baudhayana' s 
Grihya Sutra shows the latter to be earlier than the 
corresponding work of Apastamba. The Baudhayana 
school cannot be traced at the present day, but it 
appears to have belonged to Southern India, where 
the famous Vedic commentator Sayana was a member 
of it in the fourteenth century. The subjects dealt 
with in their Dharma Sutra are multifarious, including 


the duties of the four religious orders, the mixed castes, 
various kinds of sacrifice, purification, penance, auspi- 
cious ceremonies, duties of kings, criminal justice, exa- 
mination of witnesses, law of inheritance and marriage, 
the position of women. The fourth section, which is 
almost entirely composed in qlokas, is probably a 
modern addition, and even the third is of somewhat 
doubtful age. 

With the above works must be classed the well- 
preserved law-book of Gautama. Though it does not 
form part of a Kalpa Sutra, it must at one time have 
been connected with a Vedic school ; for the Gautamas 
are mentioned as a subdivision of the Ranayanlya 
branch of the Sdmaveda ) and Rumania's statement that 
Gautama's treatise originally belonged to that Veda is 
confirmed by the fact that its twenty-sixth section is 
taken word for word from the Sdmavidhdna Brdhmana, 
Though entitled a Dharma (^astra, it is in style and 
character a regular Dharma Sutra. It is composed 
entirely in prose aphorisms, without any admixture of 
verse, as in the other works of this class. Its varied 
contents resemble and are treated much in the same 
way as those of the Dharma Sutra of Baudhayana. 
The latter has indeed been shown to contain passages 
based on or borrowed from Gautama's work, which 
is therefore the oldest Dharma Sutra that has been 
preserved, or at least published, and can hardly date 
from later than about 500 B.C. 

Another work of the Sutra type, and belonging to 
the Vedic period, is the Dharma Castra of Vasishtha. 
It has survived only in inferior MSS., and without the 
preserving influence of a commentary. It contains thirty 
chapters (ad/iydyas), of which the last five appear to 


consist for the most part of late additions. Many of 
the Sutras, not only here, but even in the older portions, 
are hopelessly corrupt. The prose aphorisms of the 
work are intermingled with verse, the archaic trishtubh 
metre being frequently employed instead of the later 
clokas of Manu and others. The contents, which bear 
the Dharma Sutra stamp, produce the impression of 
antiquity in various respects. Thus here, as in the 
Dharma Sutra of Apastamba, only six forms of marriage 
are recognised, instead of the orthodox eight. Kumarila 
states that in his time Vasishtha's law-book, while ac- 
knowledged to have general authority, was studied by 
followers of the Rigveda only. That he meant the pre- 
sent work and no other, is proved by the quotations 
from it which he gives, and which are found in the 
published text. As Vasishtha, in citing Vedic Samhitas 
and Sutras, shows a predilection for works belonging 
to the North of India, it is to be inferred that he or his 
school belonged to that part. Vasishtha gives a quotation 
from Gautama which appears to refer to a passage in 
the extant text of the latter. His various quotations 
from Manu are derived, not from the later famous 
law-book, but evidently from a legal Sutra related to 
our Manu. On the other hand, the extant text of 
Manu contains a quotation from Vasishtha which 
actually occurs in the published edition of the latter. 
Hence Vasishtha's work must be later than that of 
Gautama, and earlier than that of Manu. It is further 
probable that the original part of the Sutra of a school 
connected with the Rigveda and belonging to the North 
dates from a period some centuries before our era. 

Some Dharma Sutras are known from quotations 
only, the oldest being those mentioned in other Dharma 


Sutras. Particular interest attaches to one of these, the 
Sutra of Manu, or the Manavas, because of its relation- 
ship to the famous Mdnava dharma - cdstr a. Of the 
numerous quotations from it in Vasishtha, six are found 
unaltered or but slightly modified in our text of Manu. 
One passage cited in Vasishtha is composed partly in 
prose and partly in verse, the latter portion recurring in 
Manu. The metrical quotations show a mixture of 
trishtubh and cloka verses, like other Dharma Sutras. 
These quoted fragments probably represent a Mdnava 
dharma-sutra which supplied the basis of our Mdnava 
dharma-cdstra or Code of Manu, 

Fragments of a legal treatise in prose and verse, 
attributed to the brothers (^ankha and Likhita, who 
became proverbial for justice, have been similarly pre- 
served. This work, which must have been extensive, 
and dealt with all branches of law, is already quoted as 
authoritative by Paracara. The statement of Kumarila 
(700 A.D.) that it was connected with the Vajasaneyin 
school of the White Yajurveda is borne out by the 
quotations from it which have survived. 

Sutras need not necessarily go back to the oldest 
period of Indian law, as this style of composition was 
never entirely superseded by the use of metre. Thus 
there is a Vaikhdnasa dharma-sutra in lour pracnas, which, 
as internal evidence shows, cannot be earlier than the 
third century A.D. It refers to the cult of Narayana 
(Vishnu), and mentions Wednesday by the name of 
budha-vdra, "day of Mercury." It is not a regular 
Dharma Sutra, for it contains nothing connected with 
law in the strict sense, but is only a treatise on domestic 
law (grihya-dharma). It deals with the religious duties 
of the four orders (dcramas), especially with those of the 


forest hermit. For it is with the latter order that the 
Vaikhanasas, or followers of Vikhanas, are specially con- 
nected. They seem to have been one of the youngest 
offshoots of the Taittiiiya school. 

Looking back on the vast mass of ritual and usage 
regulated by the Sutras, we are tempted to conclude 
that it was entirely the conscious work of an idle 
priesthood, invented to enslave and maintain in spiritual 
servitude the minds of the Hindu people. But the pro- 
gress of research tends to show that the basis even of the 
sacerdotal ritual of the Brahmans was popular religious 
observances. Otherwise it would be hard to understand 
how Brahmanism acquired and retained such a hold on 
the population of India. The originality of the Brah- 
mans consisted in elaborating and systematising ob- 
servances which they already found in existence. This 
they certainly succeeded in doing to an extent unknown 

Comparative studies have shown that many ritual 
practices go back to the period when the Indians and 
Persians were still one people. Thus the sacrifice was 
even then the centre of a developed ceremonial, and was 
tended by a priestly class. Many terms of the Vedic 
ritual already existed then, especially soma, which was 
pressed, purified through a sieve, mixed with milk, and 
offered as the main libation. Investiture with a sacred 
cord was, as we have seen, also known, and was in its 
turn based on the still older ceremony of the initiation 
of youths on entering manhood. The offering of gifts 
to the gods in fire is Indo-European, as is shown by the 
agreement of the Greeks, Romans, and Indians. Indo- 
European also is that part of the marriage ritual in which 
the newly wedded couple walk round the nuptial fire, 


the bridegroom presenting a burnt offering and the 
bride an offering of grain ; for among the Romans also 
the young pair walked round the altar from left to right 
before offering bread {far) in the fire. Indo-European, 
too, must be the practice of scattering rice or grain (as a 
symbol of fertility) over the bride and bridegroom, as 
prescribed in the Sutras ; for it is widely diffused among 
peoples who cannot have borrowed it. Still older is the 
Indian ceremony of producing the sacrificial fire by the 
friction of two pieces of wood. Similarly the practice in 
the construction of the Indian fire-altar of walling up in 
the lowest layer of bricks the heads of five different 
victims, including that of a man, goes back to an ancient 
belief that a building can only be firmly erected when a 
man or an animal is buried with its foundations. 

Finally, we have as a division of the Sutras, concerned 
with religious practice, the (^ulva Sutras. The thirtieth 
and last praqna of the great Kalpa Sutra of Apastamba is 
a treatise of this class. These are practical manuals 
giving the measurements necessary for the construction 
of the vedi y of the altars, and so forth. They show quite 
an advanced knowledge of geometry, and constitute the 
oldest Indian mathematical works. 

The whole body of Vedic works composed in the 
Sutra style, is according to the Indian traditional view, 
divided into six classes called Vedangas ("members of 
the Veda "). These are qikshd, or phonetics ; chhandas, 
or metre ; vydkaraiia, or grammar ; nirukta y or etymology ; 
kalpa, or religious practice ; and jyotisha, or astronomy. 
The first four were meant as aids to the correct reciting 
and understanding of the sacred texts ; the last two deal 
with religious rites or duties, and their proper seasons. 
They all have their origin in the exigencies of religion, 


and the last four furnish the beginnings or (in one case) 
the full development of five branches of science that 
flourished in the post-Vedic period. In the fourth and 
sixth group the name of the class has been applied to 
designate a particular work representing it. 

Of kalpa we have already treated at length above. 
No work representing astronomy has survived from the 
Vedic period ; for the Vedic calendar, called jyotisha, the 
two recensions of which profess to belong to the Rigveda 
and Yajurveda respectively, dates from far on in the 
post-Vedic age. 

The Taittirlya Aranyaka (vii. 1) already mentions 
qikshdy or phonetics, a subject which even then appears 
to have dealt with letters, accents, quantity, pronuncia- 
tion, and euphonic rules. Several works bearing the 
title of qikshd have been preserved, but they are only 
late supplements of Vedic literature. They are short 
manuals containing directions for Vedic recitation and 
correct pronunciation. The earliest surviving results 
of phonetic studies are of course the Samhita texts of 
the various Vedas, which were edited in accordance with 
euphonic rules. A further advance was made by the 
constitution of the pada-pdtha y or word-text of the Vedas, 
which, by resolving the euphonic combinations and 
giving each word (even the parts of compounds) separ- 
ately, in its original form unmodified by phonetic rules, 
furnished a basis for all subsequent studies. Yaska, 
Panini, and other grammarians do not always accept 
the analyses of the Padapdthas when they think they 
understand a Vedic form better. Patanjali even directly 
contests their authoritativeness. The treatises really 
representative of Vedic phonetics are the Praticakhyas, 
which are directly connected with the Samhita and 


Padapdtha. It is their object to determine the relation of 
these to each other. In so doing they furnish a systematic 
account of Vedic euphonic combination, besides adding 
phonetic discussions to secure the correct recitation of 
the sacred texts. They are generally regarded as anterior 
to Panini, who shows unmistakable points of contact 
with them. It is perhaps more correct to suppose that 
Panini used the present Praticakhyas in an older form, 
as, whenever he touches on Vedic sandhi y he is always 
less complete in his statements than they are, while the 
Praticakhyas, especially that of the Atharva-veda y are de- 
pendent on the terminology of the grammarians. Four 
of these treatises have been preserved and published. 
One belongs to the Rigveda, another to the Atharva-, and 
two to the Yajur-veda, being attached to the Vdjasaneyi 
and the Taittirlya Samhitd respectively. They are so 
called because intended for the use of each respective 
branch (cdkha) of the Vedas. 

The Prdticdkhya Sutra of the Rigveda is an extensive 
metrical work in three books, traditionally attributed to 
(^aunaka, the teacher of Acvalayana ; it may, however, 
in its present form only be a production of the school of 
(^aunaka. This Praticakhya was later epitomised, with 
the addition of some supplementary matter, in a short 
treatise entitled Upalekha. The Taittirlya Praticakhya is 
particularly interesting owing to the various peculiar 
names of teachers occurring among the twenty which it 
mentions. The Vdjasaneyi Prdticdkhya y 'm eight chapters, 
names Katyayana as its author, and mentions (Jaunaka 
among other predecessors. The Atharva-veda Prdti- 
cdkhya, in four chapters, belonging to the school of the 
(Jaunakas, is more grammatical than the other works of 
this class. 


Metre, to which there are many scattered references 
in the Brahmanas, is separately treated in a section of 
the ^dnkhdyana ^rauta Sutra (7, 27), in the last three sec- 
tions (patalas) of the Rigveda Prdticdkhya y and especially 
in the Niddna Sutra, which belongs to the Sdmaveda, A 
part of the Chhandah Sutra of Pingala also deals with 
Vedic metres ; but though it claims to be a Vedanga, it 
is in reality a late supplement, dealing chiefly with post- 
Vedic prosody, on which, indeed, it is the standard 

Finally, Katyayana's two Anukramanis or indices, 
mentioned below, each contains a section, varying but 
slightly from the other, on Vedic metres. These sec- 
tions are, however, almost identical in matter with the 
sixteenth patala of the Rigveda Prdticdkhya y and may 
possibly be older than the corresponding passage in 
the Prdticdkhya y though the latter work as a whole is 
doubtless anterior to the Anukratnanu 

The Padapdthas show that their authors had not only 
made investigations as to pronunciation and Sandhi, but 
already knew a good deal about the grammatical analysis 
of words ; for they separate both the parts of compounds 
and the prefixes of verbs, as well as certain suffixes and 
terminations of nouns. They had doubtless already dis- 
tinguished the four parts of speech (jpadajdtdni), though 
these are first mentioned by Yaska as ndman y or " noun " 
(including sarva-ndman y "representing all nouns" or 
" pronouns"), dkhydta y "predicate," i.e. "verb"; upa- 
sarga y " supplement," i.e. " preposition " ; ' nipdta y " inci- 
dental addition," i.e. " particle." It is perhaps to the 
separation of these categories that the name for gram- 
mar, vydkarana y originally referred, rather than to the 
analysis of words. Even the Brahmanas bear evidence 


of linguistic investigations, for they mention various 
grammatical terms, such as "letter" (varna), " mascu- 
line" (vrishari), "number" (vachana), "case-form" {vi- 
bhakti). Still more such references are to be found in 
the Aranyakas, the Upanishads, and the Sutras. But the 
most important information we have of pre-Paninean 
grammar is that found in Yaska's work. 

Grammatical studies must have been cultivated to a 
considerable extent before Yaska's time, for he dis- 
tinguishes a Northern and an Eastern school, besides 
mentioning nearly twenty predecessors, among whom 
Cakatayana, Gargya, and (Jakalya are the most important. 
By the time of Yaska grammarians had learned to dis- 
tinguish clearly between the stem and the formative 
elements of words; recognising the personal terminations 
and the tense affixes of the verb on the one hand, and 
primary (krii) or secondary {taddhitd) nominal suffixes on 
the other. Yaska has an interesting discussion on the 
theory of Cakatayana, which he himself follows, that nouns 
are derived from verbs. Gargya and some other gram- 
marians, he shows, admit this theory in a general way, 
but deny that it is applicable to all nouns. He criti- 
cises their objections, and finally dismisses them as 
untenable. On (^akatayana's theory of the verbal origin 
of nouns the whole system of Panini is founded. The 
sutra of that grammarian contains hundreds of rules 
dealing with Vedic forms ; but these are of the nature 
of exceptions to the main body of his rules, which are 
meant to describe the Sanskrit language. His work 
aimost entirely dominates the subsequent literature. 
Though belonging to the middle of the Sutra period, 
it must be regarded as the definite starting-point of the 
post-Vedic age. Coming to be regarded as an infallible 


authority, Panini superseded all his predecessors, whose 
works have consequently perished. Yaska alone survives, 
and that only because he was not directly a grammarian ; 
for his work represents, and alone represents, the Vedanga 

Yaska's Nirukta is in reality a Vedic commentary, 
and is older by some centuries than any other exegetical 
work preserved in Sanskrit. Its bases are the Nighantus, 
collections of rare or obscure Vedic words, arranged for 
the use of teachers. Yaska had before him five such 
collections. The first three contain groups of synonyms, 
the fourth specially difficult words, and the fifth a classi- 
fication of the Vedic gods. These Yaska explained for 
the most part in the twelve books of his commentary 
(to which two others were added later). In so doing 
he adduces as examples a large number of verses, chiefly 
from the Rigveda, which he interprets with many etymo- 
logical remarks. 

The first book is an introduction, dealing with the 
principles of grammar and exegesis. The second and 
third elucidate certain points in the synonymous nighan- 
tus ; Books IV.-VI. comment on the fourth section, and 
VII.-XII. on the fifth. The Nirukta, besides being very 
important from the point of view of exegesis and gram- 
mar, is highly interesting as the earliest specimen of 
Sanskrit prose of the classical type, considerably earlier 
than Panini himself. Yaska already uses essentially the 
same grammatical terminology as Panini, employing, 
for instance, the same words for root (d/zdtu), primary, 
and secondary suffixes. But he must have lived a long 
time before Panini ; for a considerable number of impor- 
tant grammarians' names are mentioned between them. 
Yaska must, therefore, go back to the fifth century, and 


undoubtedly belongs to the beginning of the Sutra 

One point of very great importance proved by the 
Nirukta is that the Rigveda had a very fixed form in 
Yaska's time, and was essentially identical with our text. 
His deviations are very insignificant. Thus in one pas- 
sage (X. 29. 1) he reads vdyo as one word, against vd yd 
as two words in (^akalya's Pada text. Yaska's para- 
phrases show that he also occasionally differed from 
the Samhita text, though the quotations themselves 
from the Rigveda have been corrected so as to agree 
absolutely with the traditional text. But these slight 
variations are probably due to mistakes in the Nirukta 
rather than to varieties of reading in the Rigveda, There 
are a few insignificant deviations of this kind even in 
Sayana, but they are always manifestly oversights on the 
part of the commentator. 

To the Sutras is attached a very extensive literature 
of Paricishtas or "supplements," which seem to have 
existed in all the' Vedic schools. They contain details 
on matters only touched upon in the Sutras, or supple- 
mentary information about subjects not dealt with at all 
by them. Thus, there is the Acvaldyana Grihya-paricishta, 
in four chapters, connected with the Rigveda. The Go- 
bhila samgraha-paricishta is a compendium of Grihya prac- 
tices in general, with a special leaning towards magical 
rites, which came to be attached to the Sdmaveda. Closely 
related to, and probably later than this work, is the 
Karma-pradlpa ("lamp of rites"), also variously called 
sdma-grihya- or chhandogyagrihya-paricishta, chhandoga- 
paricishta, Gobhila-smriti, attributed to the Katyayana 
of the White Yajurveda or to Gobhila. It deals with 
the same subjects, though independently, as the Grihya 


samgraha } with which it occasionally agrees in whole 

Of great importance for the understanding of the 
sacrificial ceremonial are the Prayogas (" Manuals") and 
Paddhatis (" Guides ") f of which a vast number exist in 
manuscript. These works represent both the (Jrauta 
and the Grihya ritual according to the various schools. 
The Prayogas describe the course of each sacrifice and 
the functions of the different groups of priests, solely 
from the point of view of practical performance, while 
the Paddhatis rather follow the systematic accounts of 
the Sutras and sketch their contents. There are also 
versified accounts of the ritual called Kdrikds, which 
are directly attached to Sutras or to Paddhatis. The 
oldest of them appears to be the Kdrikd of Kumarila 
(c. 700 A.D.). 

Of a supplementary character are also the class of 
writings called Anukramanls or Vedic Indices, which 
give lists of the hymns, the authors, the metres, and 
the deities in the order in which they occur in the 
various Samhitas. To the Rigveda belonged seven of 
these works, all attributed to (^aunaka, and composed 
in the mixture of the cloka and trishtubh metre, which 
is also found in (^aunaka's Rigveda Prdticdkhya. There 
is also a General Index or Sarvdnukramani which is 
attributed to Katyayana, and epitomises in the Sutra style 
the contents of the metrical indices. Of the metrical 
indices five have been preserved. The Arshdnukramani, 
containing rather less than 300 c/okas, gives a list of 
the Rishis or authors of the Rigveda. Its present text 
represents a modernised form of that which was known 
to the commentator Shadgurucjshya in the twelfth 
century. The Chhandonukramani, which is of almost 


exactly the same length, enumerates the metres in 
which the hymns of the Rigveda are composed. It 
also states for each book the number of verses in 
each metre as well as the aggregate in all metres. The 
Anuvdkdnukramani is a short index containing only 
about forty verses. It states the initial words of each of 
the eighty-five anuvdkas or lessons into which the Rig- 
veda is divided, and the number of hymns contained in 
these anuvdkas. It further states that the Rigveda con- 
tains 1017 hymns (or 1025 according to the Vashkala 
recension), 10,580! verses, 153,826 words, 432,000 
syllables, besides some other statistical details. The 
number of verses given does not exactly tally with 
various calculations that have recently been made, but 
the differences are only slight, and may be due to the 
way in which certain repeated verses were counted by 
the author of the index. 

There is another short index, known as yet only in 
two MSS., called the Pdddnukramam, or "index of lines" 
(flddas), and composed in the same mixed metre as the 
others. The Suktdnukramani y which has not survived, 
and is only known by name, probably consisted only 
of the initial words {pratikas) of the hymns. It probably 
perished because the Sarvdnukramanl would have ren- 
dered such a work superfluous. No MS. of the Devatdnu- 
kramanl or " Index of gods " exists, but ten quotations 
from it have been preserved by the commentator 
Shadgurugishya. It must have been superseded by the 
Brihaddevatd, an index of the "many gods," a much 
more extensive work than any of the other Anukramanls, 
as it contains about 1200 clokas interspersed with occa- 
sional trishtubhs. It is divided into eight adhydyas cor- 
responding to the ashfakas of the Rigveda. Following 


the order of the Rigveda, its main object is to state the 
deity for each verse. But as it contains a large number 
of illustrative myths and legends, it is of great value as 
an early collection of stories. It is to a considerable 
extent based on Yaska's Nirukta. Besides Yaska himself 
and other teachers named by that scholar, it also men- 
tions Bhaguri and Acvalayana as well as the Niddna 
Sutra. A peculiarity of this work is that it refers to a 
number of supplementary hymns (kkilas) which do not 
form part of the canonical text of the Rigveda. 

Later, at least, than the original form of these 
metrical Anukramanls, is the Sarvdnukramanfoi KAtya- 
yana, which combines the data contained in them within 
the compass of a single work. Composed in the Sutra 
style, it is of considerable length, occupying about forty- 
six pages in the printed edition. For every hymn in 
the Rigveda it states the initial word or words, the 
number of its verses, as well as the author, the deity, 
and the metre, even for single verses. There is an in- 
troduction in twelve sections, nine of which form a 
short treatise on Vedic metres corresponding to the 
last three sections of the Rigveda Prdticdkhya. The 
author begins with the statement that he is going to 
supply an index of the pratlkas and so forth of the 
Rigveda according to the authorities (yathopadecam), 
because without such knowledge the (^rauta and Smarta 
rites cannot be accomplished. These authorities are 
doubtless the metrical indices described above. For 
the text of the Sarvdnukramani, which is composed in 
a concise Sutra style, not only contains some metrical 
lines (pddas), but also a number of passages either 
directly taken from the Arshdnukramani and the Brihad- 
devatd, or with their metrical wording but slightly 


altered. Another metrical work attributed to (Jaunaka 
is the Rigvidhdna y which describes the magical effects 
produced by the recitation of hymns or single verses 
of the Rigveda. 

To the Paricishtas of the Sdmaveda belong the two 
indices called Arsha and Daivata, enumerating respec- 
tively the Rishis and deities of the text of the Naigeya 
branch of the Sdmaveda, They quote Yaska, (^aunaka, 
and Ac^valayana among others. There are also two 
Anukramanls attached to the Black Yajurveda. That of 
the Atreya school consists of two parts, the first of 
which is in prose, and the second in clokas. It contains 
little more than an enumeration of names referring to 
the contents of its Samhita. The Anukramani of the 
Charayaniya school of the Kdthaka is an index of the 
authors of the various sections and verses. Its state- 
ments regarding passages derived from the Rigveda differ 
much from those of the Sarv anukramani of the Rigveda y 
giving a number of totally new names. It claims to be 
the work of Atri, who communicated it to Laugakshi. 
The Anukramani of the White Yajurveda in the Ma- 
dhyamdina recension, attributed to Katyayana, consists of 
five sections. The first four are an index of authors, 
deities, and metres. The authors of verses taken from 
the Rigveda generally agree with those in the Sarvauu- 
kratnanu There are, however, a good many exceptions, 
several new names belonging to a later period, some 
even to that of the Qatapatha Brahmana. The fifth section 
gives a summary account of the metres occurring in the 
text. It is identical with the corresponding portion of 
the introduction to the Sarvdnukramani y which was pro- 
bably the original position of the section. There are 
many other Paricishtas of the White Yajurveda, all attri- 


buted to Katyayana. Only three of these need be 
mentioned here. The Nigama-pariqishta, a glossary of 
synonymous words occurring in the White Yajurveda, 
has a lexicographical interest. The Pravarddhydya y or 
u Chapter on Ancestors/' is a list of Brahman families 
drawn up for the purpose of determining the forbidden 
degrees of relationship in marriage, and of indicating the 
priests suitable for the performance of sacrifice. The 
Charana-vyiiha, or " Exposition of the Schools " of the 
various Vedas, is a very late work of little importance, 
giving a far less complete enumeration of the Vedic 
schools than certain sections of the Vishnu- and the 
Vdyu-Purana. There is also a Charana-vyiiha among 
the Paricishtas of the Atkarva-veda, which number up- 
wards of seventy. This work makes the statement that 
the Atharva contains 2000 hymns and 12,380 verses. 

In concluding this account of Vedic literature, I 
cannot omit to say a few words about Sayana, the great 
mediaeval Vedic scholar, to whom or to whose initiation 
we owe a number of valuable commentaries on the Rig- 
vedciy the Aitareya Brdhmana and Aranyaka, as well as 
the Taittiriya Samhitd, Brdhmana, and Aranyaka, besides 
a number of other works. His comments on the two 
Samhitas would appear to have been only partially com- 
posed by himself and to have been completed by his pupils. 
He died in 1387, having written his works under Bukka I. 
(1350-79), whose teacher and minister he calls himself, 
and his successor, Harihara (1379-99). These princes 
belonged to a family which, throwing off the Muham- 
madan yoke in the earlier half of the fourteenth century, 
founded the dynasty of Vijayanagara ("city of victory"), 
now Hampi, on the Tungabhadra, in the Bellary district. 
Sayana's elder brother, Madhava, was minister of King 


Bukka, and died as abbot of the monastery of (fringed, 
under the name of Vidyaranyasvamin. Not only did he 
too produce works of his own, but Sayana's com- 
mentaries, as composed under his patronage, were 
dedicated to him as mddhavlya f or (" influenced by 
Madhava "). By an interesting coincidence Professor 
Max M tiller's second edition of the Rigveda, with the 
commentary of Sayana, was brought out under the 
auspices of a Maharaja of Vijayanagara. The latter city 
has, however, nothing to do with that from which King 
Bukka derived his title. 


(Circa 500-50 B.C.) 

In turning from the Vedic to the Sanskrit period, we 

are confronted with a literature which is essentially 

different from that of the earlier age in matter, spirit, 

and form. Vedic literature is essentially religious ; 

Sanskrit literature, abundantly developed in every other 

direction, is profane. But, doubtless as a result of the 

speculative tendencies of the Upanishads, a moralising 

spirit at the same time breathes through it as a whole. 

The religion itself which now prevails is very different 

from that of the Vedic age. For in the new period 

the three great gods, Brahma, Vishnu, and (^iva are 

the chief objects of worship. The important deities 

of the Veda have sunk to a subordinate position, though 

Indra is still relatively prominent as the chief of a warrior's 

heaven. Some new gods of lesser rank have arisen, such 

as Kubera, god of wealth ; Ganeca, god of learning ; 

Karttikeya, god of war ; (Jrl or Lakshml, goddess of 

beauty and fortune ; Durga or Parvati, the terrible 

spouse of (^iva ; besides the serpent deities and several 

classes of demigods and demons. 

While the spirit of Vedic literature, at least in its 

earlier phase, is optimistic, Sanskrit poetry is pervaded 

by Weltschmerz, resulting from the now universally 



accepted doctrine of transmigration. To that doctrine, 
according to which beings pass by gradations from 
Brahma through men and animals to the lowest forms 
of existence, is doubtless also largely due the fantastic 
element characteristic of this later poetry. Here, for 
instance, we read of Vishnu coming down to earth in 
the shape of animals, of sages and saints wandering 
between heaven and earth, of human kings visiting 
Indra in heaven. 

Hand in hand with this fondness for introducing the 
marvellous and supernatural into the description of human 
events goes a tendency to exaggeration. Thus King 
Vicvamitra, we are told, practised penance for thousands 
of years in succession; and the power of asceticism is 
described as so great as to cause even the worlds and 
the gods to tremble. The very bulk of the Mahdbhdrata, 
consisting as it does of more than 200,000 lines, is a con- 
crete illustration of this defective sense of proportion. J 

As regards the form in which it is presented to' us, 
Sanskrit literature contrasts with that of both the earlier 
and the later Vedic period. While prose was employed 
in the Yajurvedas and the Brahmanas, and finally attained 
to a certain degree of development, it almost disappears in 
Sanskrit, nearly every branch of literature being treated 
in verse, often much to the detriment of the subject, as 
in the case of law. The only departments almost entirely 
restricted to the use of prose are grammar and philosophy, 
but the cramped and enigmatical style in which these 
subjects are treated hardly deserves the name of prose 
at all. Literary prose is found only in fables, fairy tales, 
romances, and partially in the drama. In consequence 
of this neglect, the prose of the later period compares 
unfavourably with that of the Brahmanas. Even the 


style of the romances or prose kdvyas, subject as it is to 
the strict rules of poetics, is as clumsy as that of the 
grammatical commentaries; for the use of immense com- 
pounds, like those of the Sutras, is one of its essential 

Sanskrit literature, then, resembles that of the earlier 
Vedic age in being almost entirely metrical. But the 
metres in which it is written, though nearly all based 
on those of the Veda, are different. The bulk of the 
literature is composed in the qloka, a development of 
the Vedic anushtubh stanza of four octosyllabic lines ; 
but while all four lines ended iambically in the proto- 
type, the first and third line have in the qloka acquired 
a trochaic rhythm. The numerous other metres em- 
ployed in the classical poetry have become much more 
elaborate than their Vedic originals by having the 
quantity of every syllable in the line strictly determined. 

The style, too, excepting the two old epics, is In 
Sanskrit poetry made more artificial by the frequent 
use of long compounds, as well as by the application 
of the elaborate rules of poetics, while the language is 
regulated by the grammar of Panini. Thus classical 
Sanskrit literature, teeming as it does with fantastic 
and exaggerated ideas, while bound by the strictest 
rules of form, is like a tropical garden full of luxuriant 
and rank growth, in which, however, many a fair flower 
of true poetry may be culled. ^_ 

It is impossible even for the Sanskrit scholar who 
has not lived in India to appreciate fully the merits of 
this later poetry, much more so for those who can only 
become acquainted with it in translations. For, in the 
first place, the metres, artificial and elaborate though 
they are, have a beauty of their own which cannot 


be reproduced in other languages. ^\gain, to under- 
stand it thoroughly, the reader must have seen the tropical 
plains and forests of Hindustan steeped in intense sun- 
shine or bathed in brilliant moonlight ; he must have 
viewed the silent ascetic seated at the foot of the sacred 
fig-tree ; he must have experienced the feelings inspired 
by the approach of the monsoon ; he must have watched 
beast and bird disporting themselves in tank and river ; 
he must know the varying aspects of Nature in the 
different seasons ; in short, he must be acquainted with 
all the sights and sounds of an Indian landscape, the 
mere allusion to one of which may call up some familiar 
scene or touch some chord of sentiment. Otherwise, 
for instance, the mango-tree, the red Acoka, the orange 
Kadamba, the various creepers, the different kinds of 
lotus, the mention of each of which should convey a 
vivid picture, are but empty names. Without a know- 
ledge, moreover, of the habits, modes of thought, and 
traditions of the people, much must remain meaningless. 
But those who are properly equipped can see many 
beauties in classical Sanskrit poetry which are entirely 
lost to others. Thus a distinguished scholar known to 
the present writer has entered so fully into the spirit 
of that poetry, that he is unable to derive pleasure from 
any other. 

It would be a mistake to suppose that Sanskrit 
literature came into being only at the close of the Vedic 
period, or that it merely forms its continuation and de- 
velopment. As a profane literature, it must, in its earliest 
phases, which are lost, have been contemporaneous with 
the religious literature of the Vedas. Beside the produc- 
tions of the latest Vedic period, that of the Upanishads 
and Sutras, there grew up, on the one hand, the rich 


Pali literature of Buddhis^n, and, on the other, the 
earliest form of Sanskrit poetry in the shape of epic 
tales. We have seen that even the Rigveda contains 
some hymns of a narrative character. Later we find 
in the Brahmanas a number of short legends, mostly 
in prose, but sometimes partly metrical, as the story of 
(Junahcepa in the Aitareya. Again, the Nirukta, which 
must date from the fifth century B.C., contains many 
prose tales, and the oldest existing collection of Vedic 
legend, the metrical Brihaddevatd, cannot belong to a 
much later time. 

(Sanskrit epic poetry falls into two main classes. 
That which comprises old stories goes by the name of 
Itihdsa, " legend," Akhydna, " narrative," or Purdna, 
" ancient tale," while the other is called Kdvya or arti- 
ficial epic. The Mahdbhd7'ata is the chief and oldest 
representative of the former group, the Rdmdyana of 
the latter. j)Both these great epics are composed in the 
same form of the qloka metre as- that employed in 
classical Sanskrit poetry. The Mahdbhdrata, however, 
also contains, as remnants of an older phase, archaic 
verses in the upajdti and vamqastlia (developments of 
the Vedic trishtubh and jagatt) metres, besides preserving 
some old prose stories in what is otherwise an entirely 
metrical work. It further differs from the sister epic 
in introducing speeches with words, such as " Brihadacva 
spake," which do not form part of the verse, and which 
may be survivals of prose narrative connecting old epic 
songs./ The Rdmdyana, again, is, in the main, the work 
of a single poet, homogeneous in plan and execution, 
composed in the east of India. The Mahdbhdrata, arising 
in the western half of the country, is a congeries of parts, 
the only unity about which is the connectedness of the 


epic cycle with which they xleal ; its epic kernel, more- 
over, which forms only about one-fifth of the whole 
work, has become so overgrown with didactic matter, 
that in its final shape it is not an epic at all, but an 
encyclopaedia of moral teaching. 

The Mahdbhdrata, which in its present form consists 
of over 100,000 qlokasy equal to about eight times as 
much as the Iliad and Odyssey put together, is by far 
the longest poem known to literary history. It is a 
conglomerate of epic and didactic matter divided into 
eighteen books called parvan, with a nineteenth, the 
Harivamga, as a supplement. The books vary very con- 
siderably in length, the twelfth being the longest, with 
nearly 14,000, the seventeenth the shortest, with only 
312 g/okas. All the eighteen books, excepting the eighth 
and the last three, are divided into subordinate parvans ; 
each book is also cut up into chapters (adkydyas). 

No European edition of the whole epic has yet 
been undertaken. This remains one of the great tasks 
reserved for the future of Sanskrit philology, and can 
only be accomplished by the collaboration of several 
scholars. There are complete MSS. of the Mahdbhdrata 
in London, Oxford, Paris, and Berlin, besides many 
others in different parts of India ; while the number 
of MSS. containing only parts of the poem can hardly 
be counted. 

Three main editions of the epic have appeared in India. 
The editio princeps, including the Harivamga, but without 
any commentary, was published in four volumes at 
Calcutta in 1834-39. Another and better edition, which 
has subsequently been reproduced several times, was 
printed at Bombay in 1863. This edition, though not 
including the supplementary book, contains the com- 


mentary of Nllakantha. These two editions do not 
on the whole differ considerably. Being derived from 
a common source, they represent one and the same 
recension. The Bombay edition, however, generally 
has the better readings. It contains about 200 glokas 
more than the Calcutta edition, but thes^ additions are 
of no importance. 

A third edition, printed in Telugu characters, was 
published in four volumes at Madras in 1855-60. It 
includes the Harivamga and extracts from Nllakantha' s 
commentary. This edition represents a distinct South 
Indian recension, which seems to differ from that of 
the North about as much as the three recensions of the 
Rdmayana do from one another. Both recensions are 
of about equal length, omissions in the first being com- 
pensated by others in the second. Sometimes one has 
the better text, sometimes the other. 

The epic kernel of the Mahdbhdrata, or the "Great 
Battle of the descendants of Bharata," consisting of 
about 20,000 qlokas y describes the eighteen days' fight 
between Duryodhana, leader of the Kurus, and Yudhi- 
shthira, chief of the Pandus, who were cousins, both 
descended from King Bharata, son of (^akuntala. Within 
this narrative frame has come to be included a vast 
number of old legends about gods, kings, and sages ; 
accounts of cosmogony and theogony ; disquisitions on 
philosophy, law, religion, and the duties of the military 
caste. These lengthy and heterogeneous interpolations 
render it very difficult to follow the thread of the 
narrative. Entire works are sometimes inserted to 
illustrate a particular statement. Thus, while the two 
armies are drawn up prepared for battle, a whole 
philosophical poem, in eighteen cantos, the Bhagavad- 


gitd, is recited to the hero Arjuna, who hesitates to 
advance and fight against his kinT) Hence the Maha- 
bhdrata claims to be not only a heroic poem {kdvya\ 
but a compendium teaching, in accordance with the 
Veda, the fourfold end of human existence (spiritual 
merit, wealth, pleasure, and salvation), a smriti or work 
of sacred tradition, which expounds the whole duty of 
man, and is intended for the religious instruction of all 
Hindus. Thus, in one (I. lxii. 35) of many similar pas- 
sages, it makes the statement about itself that "this 
collection of all sacred texts, in which the greatness of 
cows and Brahmans is exalted, must be listened to by 
virtuous-minded men." Its title, Kdrshna Veda, or 
" Veda of Krishna " (a form of Vishnu), the occurrence 
of a famous invocation of Narayana and Nara (names 
of Vishnu) and SarasvatI (Vishnu's wife) at the beginning 
of each of its larger sections, and the prevalence of 
Vishnuite doctrines throughout the work, prove it to 
have been a smriti of the ancient Vishnuite sect of the 

Thus it is clear that the Mahdbhdrata in its present 
shape contains an epic nucleus, that it favours the 
worship of Vishnu, and that it has become a compre- 
hensive didactic work. We further find in Book I. the 
direct statements that the poem at one time contained 
24,000 qlokas before the episodes {itpdkhydnd) were added, 
that it originally consisted of only 8800 g/okas, and that 
it has three beginnings. These data render it probable 
that the epic underwent three stages of development 
from the time it first assumed definite shape ; and this 
conclusion is corroborated by various internal and 
external arguments. 

There can be little doubt that the original kernel of 


the epic has as a historical background an ancient con- 
flict between the two neighbouring tribes of the Kurus 
and Panchalas, who finally coalesced into a single 
people. In the Yajurvedas these two tribes already 
appear united, and in the Kdthaka King Dhritarashtra 
Vaichitravlrya, one of the chief figures of the Mahd- 
bhdratdj is mentioned as a well-known person. Hence 
the historical germ of the great epic is to be traced to 
a very early period, which cannot well be later than the 
tenth century B.C. Old songs about the ancient feud 
and the heroes who played a part in it, must have been 
handed down by word of mouth and recited in popular 
assemblies or at great public sacrifices. 

These disconnected battle - songs were, we must 
assume, worked up by some poetic genius into a com- 
paratively short epic, describing the tragic fate of the 
Kuru race, who, with justice and virtue on their side, 
perished through the treachery of the victorious sons 
of Pandu, with Krishna at their head. To the period 
of this original epic doubtless belong the traces the 
Mahdbhdrata has preserved unchanged of the heroic 
spirit and the customs of ancient times, so different 
from the later state of things which the Mahdbhdrata 
as a whole reflects. To this period also belongs the 
figure of Brahma as the highest god. The evidence of 
Pali literature shows that Brahma already occupied that 
position in Buddha's time. | We may, then, perhaps 
assume that the original form of our epic came into 
being about the fifth century B.C. /The oldest evidence 
we have for the existence of tYTe^Mahdbhdrata in some 
shape or other is to be found in Acvalayana's Grihya 
Sutra, where a Bhdrata and Mahdbhdrata are mentioned. 
This would also point to about the fifth century B.C. 


To the next stage, in which the epic, handed down 
by rhapsodists, swelled to a length of about 20,000 qlokas, 
belongs the representation of the victorious Pandus 
in a favourable light, and the introduction on a level 
with Brahma of the two other great gods, (Jiva, and 
especially Vishnu, of whom Krishna appears as an in- 

We gather from the account of Megasthenes that 
about 300 B.C., these two gods were already prominent, 
and the people were divided into (Jivaites and Vish- 
nuites. Moreover, the Yavanas or Greeks are men- 
tioned in the Mahabharata as allies of the Kurus, and 
even the (Jakas (Scythians) and Pahlavas (Parthians) 
are named along with them ; Hindu temples are also 
referred to as well as Buddhist relic mounds. Thus 
an extension of the original epic must have taken place 
after 300 B.C. and by the beginning of our era. 

The Brahmans knew how to utilise the great influence 
of the old epic tradition by gradually incorporating didac- 
tic matter calculated to impress upon the people, and 
especially on kings, the doctrines of the priestly caste. 
It thus at last assumed the character of a vast treatise 
on duty (dhartnd), in which the divine origin and im- 
mutability of Brahman institutions, the eternity of the 
caste system, and the subordination of all to the priests, 
are laid down. When the Mahabharata attributes its 
origin to Vyasa, it implies a belief in a final redaction,, 
for the name simply means "Arranger." Dahlmann 
has recently put forward the theory that the great epic 
was a didactic work from the very outset ; this view, 
however, appears to be quite irreconcilable with the data 
of the poem, and is not likely to find any support 
among scholars. 


What evidence have we as to when the Mahdbharata 
attained to the form in which we possess it ? There is 
an inscription in a land grant dating from 462 A.D. or' 
at the latest 532 A.D., which proves incontrovertibly that 
the epic about 500 A.D. was practically of exactly the same 
length as it is stated to have in the survey of contents 
(anukramanika) given in Book I., and as it actually has 
now ; for it contains the following words : " It has been 
declared in the Mahdbharata, the compilation embracing 
100,000 verses, by the highest sage, Vyasa, the Vyasa of 
the Vedas, the son of Paracara." This quotation at the 
same time proves that the epic at that date included 
the very long 12th and 13th, as well as the extensive 
supplementary book, the Harivamqa, without any one 
of which it would have been impossible to speak even 
approximately of 100,000 verses. There are also several 
land grants, dated between 450 and 500 A.D., and found 
in various parts of India, which quote the Mahdbharata 
as an authority teaching the rewards of pious donors 
and the punishments of impious despoilers. This shows 
that in the middle of the fifth century it already pos- 
sessed the same character as at present, that of a Smriti 
or Dharmacastra. It is only reasonable to suppose that 
it had acquired this character at least a century earlier, 
or by about 350 A.D. Further research in the writ- 
ings of the Northern Buddhists and their dated Chinese 
translations will probably enable us to put this date 
back by some centuries. We are already justified in 
considering it likely that the great epic had become 
a didactic compendium before the beginning of our 
era. In any case, the present state of our knowledge 
entirely disproves the suggestions put forward by Prof. 
Holtzmann in his work on the Mahdbharata, that the 


epic was turned into a Dharmacastra by the Brahmans 
after 900 A.D., and that whole books were added at this 
late period. 

The literary evidence of Sanskrit authors from about 
600 to 1 100 A.D. supplies us with a considerable amount 
of information as to the state of the great epic during 
those five centuries. An examination of the works of 
Bana, and of his predecessor Subandhu, shows that these 
authors, who belong to the beginning of the seventh 
century, not only studied and made use of legends from 
every one of the eighteen books of the Mahdbhdrata for 
the poetical embellishment of their works, but were even 
acquainted with the Harivamqa. We also know that in 
Bana's time the Bhagavadgltd was included in the great 
epic. The same writer mentions that the Mahdbhdrata 
was recited in the temple of Mahakala at Ujjain. That 
such recitation was already a widespread practice at 
that time is corroborated by an inscription of about 
600 A.D. from the remote Indian colony of Kamboja, 
which states that copies of the Mahdbhdrata f as well 
as of the Rdmdyana and of an unnamed Purana, were 
presented to a temple there, and that the donor had 
made arrangements to ensure their daily recitation in 
perpetuity. This evidence shows that the Mahdbhdrata 
cannot have been a mere heroic poem, but must have 
borne the character of a Smriti work of long-established 
authority. Even at the present day both public and 
private recitations of the Epics and Puranas are common 
in India, and are always instituted for the edification and 
religious instruction of worshippers in temples or of 
members of the family. As a rule, the Sanskrit texts are 
not only declaimed, but also explained in the vernacular 
tongue for the benefit both of women, and of such males 


as belong to classes unacquainted with the learned 
language of the Brahmans. 

We next come to the eminent Mlmamsa philosopher 
Kumarila, who has been proved to have flourished in the 
first half of the eighth century A.D. In the small portion 
of his great commentary, entitled Tantra-vdrttika f which 
has been examined, no fewer than ten of the eighteen 
books of the Mahdbhdrata are named, quoted, or referred 
to. It is clear that the epic as known to him not only 
included the first book (adiparvan), but that that book in 
his time closely resembled the form of its text which we 
possess. It even appears to have contained the first 
section, called anukramanikd or " Survey of contents," and 
the second, entitled parva-samgraha or "Synopsis of sec- 
tions." Kumarila also knew Books XII. and XIII., which 
have frequently been pronounced to be of late origin, as 
well as XIX. It is evident from his treatment of the 
epic that he regarded it as a work of sacred tradition 
and of great antiquity, intended from the beginning for 
the instruction of all the four castes. To him it is not 
an account of the great war between the Kauravas and 
Pandus ; the descriptions of battles were only used for 
the purpose of rousing the martial instincts of the warrior 

The great Vedantist philosopher (Jankaracharya, who 
wrote his commentary in 804 A.D., often quotes the 
Mahdbhdrata as a Smriti, and in discussing a verse from 
Book XII. expressly states that the Mahdbhdrata was 
intended for the religious instruction of those classes 
who by their position are debarred from studying the 
Vedas and the Vedanta. 

From the middle of the eleventh century A.D. we 
have the oldest known abstract of the Mahdbhdrata y 


the work of the Kashmirian poet Kshemendra, entitled 
Bhdrata-Manjari. This condensation is specially impor- 
tant, because it enables the scholar to determine the state 
of the text in detail at that time. Professor Biihler's care- 
ful comparison of the MSS. of this work with the great 
epic has led him to the conclusion that Kshemendra's 
original did not differ from the Mahdbhdrata as we have 
it at present in any other way than two classes of MSS. 
differ from each other. This poetical epitome shows 
several omissions, but these are on the whole of such a 
nature as is to be expected in any similar abridgment. 
It is, however, likely that twelve chapters (342-353) of 
Book XII., treating of Narayana, which the abbreviator 
passes over, did not exist in the original known to him. 
There can, moreover, be no doubt that the forms of 
several proper names found in the Manjarl are better and 
older than those given by the editions of the Mahdbhd- 
rata, Though the division of the original into eighteen 
books is found in the abridgment also, it is made up 
by turning the third section (gadd-parvan) of Book IX. 
^alya-parvan) into a separate book, while combining 
Books XII. and XIII. into a single one. This variation 
probably represents an old division, as it occurs in many 
MSS. of the Mahdbhdrata. 

Another work of importance in determining the state 
of the Mahdbhdrata is a Javanese translation of the epic, 
also dating from the eleventh century. 

The best-known commentator of the Mahdbhdrata is 
NIlakantha, who lived at Kurpara, to the west of the 
Godavarl, in Maharashtra, and, according to Burnell, 
belongs to the sixteenth century. Older than NIlakantha, 
who quotes him, is Arjuna Ml^RA, whose commentary, 
along with that of NIlakantha, appears in an edition of 


the Mahdbharata begun at Calcutta in 1875. The earliest 
extant commentator of the great epic is Sarvajna Nara- 
YANA, large fragments of whose notes have been pre- 
served, and who cannot have written later than in the 
second half of the fourteenth century, but may be 
somewhat older. (^^ 

The main story of the Mahdbharata in the briefest 
possible outline is as follows: In the country of the 
Bharatas, which, from the name of the ruling race, had 
come to be called Kurukshetra, or " Land of the Kurus," 
there lived at Hastinapura, fifty-seven miles north-east 
of the modern Delhi, two princes named Dhritarashtra 
and Pandu. The elder of these brothers being blind, 
Pandu succeeded to the throne and reigned gloriously. 
He had five sons called Pandavas, the chief of whom were 
Yudhishthira, Bhlma, and Arjuna. Dhritarashtra had a 
hundred sons, usually called Kauravas, or Kuru princes, 
the most prominent of whom was Duryodhana. On the 
premature death of Pandu, Dhritarashtra took over the 
reins of government, and receiving his five nephews into 
his palace, had them brought up with his own sons. As 
the Pandus distinguished themselves greatly in feats of 
arms and helped him to victory, the king appointed his 
eldest nephew, Yudhishthira, to be heir-apparent. The_ 
Pandu princes, however, soon found it necessary to 
escape from the plots their cousins now began to set on 
foot against them. They made their way to the king of 
Panchala, whose daughter Draupadl was won, in a con- 
test between many kings and heroes, by Arjuna, who 
alone was able to bend the king's great bow and to hit a 
certain mark. In order to avoid strife, Draupadl con- 
sented to become the common wife of the five princes. 
At Draupadl's svayamvara (public choice of a husband) 


the Pandus made acquaintance with Krishna, the hero 
of the Yadavas, who from this time onward became 
their fast friend and adviser. Dhritarashtra, thinking 
it best to conciliate the Pandavas in view of their double 
alliance with the Panchalas and Yadavas, now divided 
his kingdom, giving Hastinapura to his sons, and to his 
nephews a district where they built the city of Indra- 
prastha, the modern Delhi (L). 

Here the Pandavas ruled wisely and prospered 
greatly. Duryodhana's jealousy being aroused, he re- 
solved to ruin his cousins, with the aid of his uncle 
(Jakuni, a skilful gamester. Dhritarashtra was accord- 
ingly induced to invite the Pandus to Hastinapura. 
Here Yudhishthira, accepting the challenge to play at 
dice with Duryodhana, lost everything, his kingdom, his 
wealth, his army, his brothers, and finally Draupadl. In 
the end a compromise was made by which the Pandavas 
agreed to go into banishment for twelve years, and to 
remain incognito for a thirteenth, after which they might 
return and regain their kingdom (ii.). 

With Draupadl they accordingly departed to the 
Kamyaka forest on the Sarasvatl. The account of their 
twelve years' life here, and the many legends told to 
console them in their exile, constitute the vana-parvan 
or " Forest book," one of the longest in the poem (iii.). 

The thirteenth year they spent in disguise as servants 
of Virata, king of the Matsyas. At this time the Kurus, 
in alliance with another king, invaded the country of the 
Matsyas, causing much distress. Then the Pandus arose, 
put the enemy to flight, and restored the king. They now 
made themselves known, and entered into an alliance 
with the king (iv.). 

Their message demanding back their possessions 


receiving no answer, they prepared for war. The rival 
armies met in the sacred region of Kurukshetra, with 
numerous allies on both sides. Joined with the Kurus 
were, among others, the people of Kosala, Videha, Anga, 
Banga (Bengal), Kalinga on the east, and those of Sin- 
dhu, Gandhara, Bahllka (Balk), together with the (Jakas 
and Yavanas on the west. The Pandus, on the other 
hand, were aided by the Panchalas, the Matsyas, part 
of the Yadavas under Krishna, besides the kings of Kaci 
(Benares), Chedi, Magadha, and others (v.). 

The battle raged for eighteen days, till all the Kurus 
were destroyed, and only the Pandavas and Krishna with 
his charioteer escaped alive. The account of it extends 
over five books (vi.-x.). Then follows a description of 
the obsequies of the dead (xi.). In the next two books, 
Bhlma, the leader of the Kurus, on his deathbed, 
instructs Yudhishthira for about 20,000 qlokas on the 
duties of kings and other topics. 

The Pandus having been reconciled to the old king 
Dhritarashtra, Yudhishthira was crownecl king in Has- 
tinapura, and instituted a great horse - sacrifice (xiv.). 
Dhritarashtra having remained at Hastinapura for fifteen 
years, at length retired, with his wife Gandharl, to the 
jungle, where they perished in a forest conflagration 
(xv.). Among the Yadavas, who had taken different 
sides in the great war, an internecine conflict broke out, 
which resulted in the annihilation of this people. 
Krishna sadly withdrew to the wilderness, where he 
was accidentally shot dead by a hunter (xvi.). 

i The Pandus themselves, at last weary of life, leaving 
the young prince Parlkshit, grandson of Arjuna, to rule 
over Hastiniipura, retired to the forest, and dying as 
they wandered towards Meru, the mountain of the 


gods (xvii.) ; ascended to heaven with their faithful spouse 

Here the framework of the great epic, which begins 
at the commencement of the first book, comes to an end. 
King Parlkshit having died of snake-bite, his son Janam- 
ejaya instituted a great sacrifice to the serpents. At that 
sacrifice the epic was recited by Vaicampayana, who had 
learnt it from Vyasa. The latter, we are told, after 
arranging the four Vedas, composed the Mahdbhdrata, 
which treats of the excellence of the Pandus, the great- 
ness of Krishna, and the wickedness of the sons of 

The supplementary book, the Harivamga, or " Family 
of Vishnu," is concerned only with Krishna. It contains 
more than 16,000 glokas, and is divided into three sec- 
tions. The first of these describes the history of Krishna's 
ancestors down to the time of Vishnu's incarnation in 
him ; the second gives an account of Krishna's exploits ; 
the third treats of the future corruptions of the Kali, or 
fourth age of trie world. 

The episodes of the Mahdbhdrata are numerous and 
often very extensive, constituting, as we have seen, about 
four-fifths of the whole poem. Many of them are inte- 
resting for various reasons, and some are distinguished 
by considerable poetic beauty. One of them, the story 
of Qakuntala (occurring in Book I.), supplied Kalidasa 
with the subject of his famous play. Episodes are 
specially plentiful in Book III., being related to while 
away the time of the exiled Pandus. Here is found the 
Matsyopakhydna, or " Episode of the fish," being the story 
of the flood, narrated with more diffuseness than the 
simple story told in the Qatapatha Brdhmana. The 
fish here declares itself to be Brahma, Lord of creatures., 


and not yet Vishnu, as in the Bhdgavata Purdna. 
Manu no longer appears as the progenitor of mankind, 
but as a creator who produces all beings and worlds 
anew by means of his ascetic power. 

Another episode is the history of Rama, interesting 
in its relation to Valmlki's Rdmdyana, which deals with 
the same subject at much greater length. The myth of 
the descent of the Ganges from heaven to earth, here 
narrated, is told in the Rdmdyana also. 

Another legend is that of the sage Ricya-cringa, who 
having produced rain in the country of Lomapada, king 
of the Angas, was rewarded with the hand of the princess 
(Janta, and performed that sacrifice for King Dacaratha 
which brought about the birth of Rama. This episode 
is peculiarly important from a critical point of view, as 
the legend recurs not only in the Rdmdyana, but also in 
the Padma Purdna, the Skanda Purdna, and a number of 
other sources. 

Of special interest is the story of King Uclnara, son 
of Cibi, who sacrificed his life to save a pigeon from a 
hawk. It is told again in another part of Book III. 
about Cibi himself, as well as in Book XIII. about 
Vrishadarbha, son of (Jibi. Distinctly Buddhistic in 
origin and character, the story is famous in Pali as 
well as Sanskrit literature, and spread beyond the limits 
of India. 

The story of the abduction of Draupadl forms an 

episode of her life while she dwelt with the Pandus in 

the Kamyaka forest. Accidentally seen when alone by 

King Jayadratha of Sindhu, who was passing with a 

great army, and fell in love with her at first sight, she 

was forcibly carried off, and only rescued after a terrible 

fight, in which the Pandus annihilated Jayadratha's host. 


Interesting as an illustration of the mythological 
ideas of the age is the episode which describes the 
journey of Arjuna to Indra's heaven. Here we see 
the mighty warrior-god of the Vedas transformed into 
a glorified king of later times, living a life of ease amid 
the splendours of his celestial court, where the ear is 
lulled by strains of music, while the eye is ravished by 
the graceful dancing and exquisite beauty of heavenly 

In the story of Savitrl we have one of the finest of the 
many ideal female characters which the older epic poetry 
of India has created. Savitrl, daughter of A$vapati, king 
of Madra, chooses as her husband Satyavat, the hand- 
some and noble son of a blind and exiled king, who 
dwells in a forest hermitage. Though warned by the 
sage Narada that the prince is fated to live but a single 
year, she persists in her choice, and after the wedding 
departs with her husband to his father's forest retreat. 
Here she lives happily till she begins to be tortured with 
anxiety on the approach of the fatal day. When it 
arrives, she follows her husband on his way to cut wood 
in the forest. After a time he lies down exhausted. 
Yama, the god of death, appears, and taking his soul, 
departs. As Savitrl persistently follows him, Yama grants 
her various boons, always excepting the life of her 
husband ; but yielding at last to her importunities, he 
restores the soul to the lifeless body. " Satyavat recovers, 
and lives happily for many years with his faithful Savitrl. 

One of the oldest and most beautiful stories inserted 
in the MahdbJiarata is the Nalopdkhyana, or il Episode of 
Nala." It is one of the least corrupted of the episodes, 
its great popularity having prevented the transforming 
hand of an editor from introducing (^iva and Vishnu, or 


from effacing the simplicity of the manners it depicts 
the prince, for instance, cooks his own food or from 
changing the character of Indra, and other old traits. 
The poem is pervaded by a high tone of morality, 
manifested above all in the heroic devotion and fidelity 
of DamayantI, its leading character. It also contains 
many passages distinguished by tender pathos. 

The story is told by the wise Brihadacva to the exiled 
Yudhishthira, in order to console him for the loss of 
the kingdom he has forfeited at play. Nala, prince of 
Nishada, chosen from among many competitors for her 
hand by DamayantI, princess of Vidarbha, passes several 
years of happy married life with her. Then, possessed 
by the demon Kali, and indulging in gambling, he loses 
his kingdom and all his possessions. Wandering half 
naked in the forest with DamayantI, he abandons her in 
his frenzy. Very pathetic is the scene describing how 
he repeatedly returns to the spot where his wife lies 
asleep on the ground before he finally deserts her. 
Equally touching are the accounts of her terror on 
awaking to find herself alone in the forest, and of her 
lamentations as she roams in search of her husband, and 
calls out to him 

Hero, valiant, knowing duty, 

To honour faithful, lord of earth, 
If thou art within this forest, 

Then show thee in thy proper form. 
Shall I hear the voice of Nala, 

Sweet as the draught of Amrita, 
With its deep and gentle accent, 

Like rumble of the thunder-cloud, 
Saying " Daughter of Vidarbha ! " 

To me with clear and blessed sound, 
Rich, like Vedas murmured flowing. 

At once destroying all my grief? 


There are graphic descriptions of the beauties and 
terrors of the tropical forest in which Damayanti wanders. 
At last she finds her way back to her father's court at 
Kundina.J} Many and striking are the similes with which 
the poet dwells on the grief and wasted form of the 
princess in her separation from her husband. She is 

Like the young moon's slender crescent 
Obscured by black clouds in the sky; 

Like the lotus-flower uprooted, 

All parched and withered by the sun; 

Like the pallid night, when Rahu 
Has swallowed up the darkened moon. 

Nala, meanwhile, transformed into a dwarf, has be- 
come charioteer to the king of Oudh. Damayanti at 
last hears news leading her to suspect her husband's 
whereabouts. She accordingly holds out hopes of her 
hand to the king of Oudh, on condition of his driving 
the distance of 500 miles to Kundina in a single day. 
Nala, acting as his charioteer, accomplishes the feat, and 
is rewarded by the king with the secret of the highest 
skill in dicing. Recognised by his wife in spite of his 
disguise, he regains his true form. He plays again, and 
wins back his lost kingdom. Thus after years of adven- 
ture, sorrow, and humiliation he is at last reunited with 
Damayanti, with whom he spends the rest of his days in 

Though several supernatural and miraculous features 
like those which occur in fairy tales are found in the 
episode of Nala, they are not sufficient to mar the spirit 
of true poetry which pervades the story as a whole. 


The Puranas. 

^Closely connected with the Mahdonarata is a distinct 
class of eighteen epic works, didactic in character and 
sectarian in purpose, going by the name of Purana. 
The term purana is already found in the Brahinanas 
designating cosmogonic inquiries generally. It is also 
used in the Mahdbharata somewhat vaguely to express 
"ancient legendary lore/' implying didactic as well as 
narrative matter, and pointing to an old collection of 
epic stories. One passage of the epic (I. v. 1) describes 
purana as containing stories of the gods and genealogies 
of the sages. In Book XVIII., as well as in the Hari- 
vamga, mention is even made of eighteen Puranas, which, 
however, have not been preserved ; for those known 
to us are all, on the whole, later than the Mahdbharata, 
and for the most part derive their legends of ancient 
days from the great epic itself. Nevertheless they 
contain much that is old ; and it is not always possible 
to assume that the passages they have in common with 
the Mahdbharata and Manu have been borrowed from 
those works. They are connected by many threads 
with the old law-books {smritis) and the Vedas, repre- 
senting probably a development of older works of the 
same class. In that part of their contents which is 
peculiar to them, the Puranas agree so closely, being 
often verbally identical for pages, that they must be 
{derived from some older collection as a common source. 
\Most of them are introduced in exactly the same way 
as the Mahdbharata, Ugracravas, the son of Lomahar- 
shana, being represented as relating their contents to 
(Jaunaka on the occasion of a sacrifice in the Naimisha 
forest. The object of most of these legendary compila- 


tions is to recommend the sectarian cult of Vishnu, 
though some of them favour the worship of (Jiva. 

Besides cosmogony, they deal with mythical descrip- 
tions of the earth, the doctrine of the cosmic ages, the 
exploits of ancient gods, saints, and heroes, accounts 
of the Avatars of Vishnu, the genealogies of the Solar 
and Lunar race of kings, and enumerations of the 
thousand names of Vishnu or of (^iva. They also con- 
tain rules about the worship of the gods by means of 
prayers, fastings, votive offerings, festivals, and pilgrim- 

The Garuddy as well as the late and unimportant 
Agni Purdiia y practically constitute abstracts of the 
Mahdbhdrata and the Harivamqa. 

The VdyUy which appears to be one of the oldest, 
coincides in part of its matter with the Mahdbhdrata, 
but is more closely connected with the Harivamqa, the 
passage which deals with the creation of the world 
often agreeing verbatim with the corresponding part 
of the latter poem. 

The relationship of the Matsya Purdna to the great 
epic and its supplementary book as sources is similarly 
intimate. It is introduced with the story of Manu and 
the Fish {Matsya). The Kurma y besides giving an 
account of the various Avatars of Vishnu (of which 
the tortoise or kurrna is one), of the genealogies of gods 
and kings, as well as other matters, contains an extensive 
account of the world in accordance with the accepted 
cosmological notions of the Mahdbhdrata and of the 
Puranas in general. The world is here represented 
as consisting of seven concentric islands separated by 
different oceans. The central island, with Mount Meru 
in the middle, is Jambu-dvipa, of which Bhdrata-varsha, 


the "kingdom of the Bharatas," or India, is the main 

The Mdrkaiideya y which expressly recognises the 
priority of the Mahdbhdrata, is so called because it is 
related by the sage Markandeya to explain difficulties 
suggested by the epic, such as, How could Krishna 
become a man ? Its leading feature is narrative and 
it is the least sectarian of the Puranas. 

The extensive Padma Purdna, which contains a great 
many stories agreeing with those of the Mahdbhdrata, is, 
on the other hand, strongly Vishnuite in tone. Yet this, 
as well as the Mdrka7tdeya, expressly states the doctrine 
of the Tri-murti or Trinity, that Brahma, Vishnu, and 
Civa are only one being. This doctrine, already to be 
found in the Harivamqa, is not so prominent in post- 
Vedic literature as is commonly supposed. It is in- 
teresting to note that the story of Rama, as told in 
the Padma Purdna, follows not only the Rdmdyana but 
also Kalidasa's account in the Raghuvamga, with which 
it often agrees literally. Again, the story of (Jakuntala 
is related, not in accordance with the Mahdbhdrata, but 
with Kalidasa's drama. 

The Brahma-vaivarta Purdna is also strongly sectarian 
in favour of Vishnu in the form of Krishna. It is to 
be noted that both here and in the Padma Purdna an 
important part is played by Krishna's mistress Radha, 
who is unknown to the Harivamqa, the Vishnu, and even 
the Bhdgavata Purdna. 

The Vishnu Purdna, which very often agrees with the 
Mahdbhdrata in its subject-matter, corresponds most 
closely to the Indian definition of a Purana, as treat- 
ing of the five topics of primary creation, secondary 
creation, genealogies of gods and patriarchs, reigns of 


various Manus, and the history of the old dynasties 
of kings. 

The Bhdgavata Purana, which consists of about 
18,000 qlokas, derives its name from being dedicated to 
the glorification of Bhagavata or Vishnu. It is later than 
the' Vishnu, which it presupposes, probably dating from 
the thirteenth century. It exercises a more powerful 
influence in India than any other Purana. The most 
popular part is the tenth book, which narrates in detail 
the history of Krishna, and has been translated into per- 
haps every one of the vernacular languages of India. 

Other Vishnuite Puranas of a late date are the 
Brahma, the Ndradlya, the Vdmana, and the Vardha, 
the latter two called after the Dwarf and the Boar 
incarnations of Vishnu. 

Those which specially favour the cult of (Jiva are 
the Skanda, the Qiva, the Linga, and the Bhavishya or 
Bhavishyat Puranas. The latter two contain little narra- 
tive matter, being rather ritual in character. A Bhavishyat 
Purana is already mentioned in the Apastamba Dharma 

Besides these eighteen Puranas there is also an 
equal number of secondary works of the same class 
called Upa-purdnas, in which the epic matter has become 
entirely subordinate to the ritual element. 

The Ramayana. 

Though there is, as we shall see, good reason for 
supposing that the original part of the Ramayana assumed 
shape at a time when the Mahdbhdrata was still in a state 
of flux, we have deferred describing it on account of its 
connection with the subsequent development of epic 
poetry in Sanskrit literature. 



/ Recensions of the ramAyana 303 

In its present form the Rdmdyana consists of about / 
24,000 qlokas, and is divided into seven books. It has / 
been preserved in three distinct recensions, the West 
Indian (A), the Bengal (B), and the Bombay (C). About 
one-third of the glokas in each recension occurs in neither 
of the other two. The Bombay recension has in most 
cases preserved the oldest form of the text ; for, as the 
other two arose in the centres of classical Sanskrit litera- 
ture, where the Gauda and the Vaidarbha styles of com- 
position respectively flourished, the irregularities of the 
epic language have been removed in them. The Rdmd- 
yana was here treated as a regular kdvya or artificial epic, 
a fate which the Mahdbhdrata escaped because it early 
lost its original character, and came to be regarded as 
a didactic work. These two later recensions must not, 
however, be looked upon as mere revisions of the 
Bombay text. The variations of all three are of such a 
kind that they can for the most part be accounted for 
only by the fluctuations of oral tradition among the pro- 
fessional reciters of the epic, at the time when the three 
recensions assumed definite shape in different parts 
of the country by being committed to writing. After 
having been thus fixed, the fate of each of these recen- 
sions was of course similar to that of any other text. 
They appear to go back to comparatively early times. 
For quotations from the Rdmdyana occurring in works 
that belong to the eighth and ninth centuries A.D. show 
that a recension allied to the present C, and probably 
another allied to the present A, existed at that period. 
Moreover, Kshemendra's poetical abstract of the epic, the 
Rdmdyana- kathdsdra-manjari, which follows the contents 
of the original step by step, proves that its author used A, 
and perhaps B also, in the middle of the eleventh century. 


Bhoja, the composer of another epitome, the Rdmdyana- 
champu, probably used C in the same century. 

The careful investigations of Professor Jacobi have 
shown that the Rdmdyana originally consisted of five books 
only (ii.-vi.). The seventh is undoubtedly a later addition, 
for the conclusion of the sixth was evidently at one time 
the end of the whole poem. Again, the first book has 
several passages which conflict with statements in the 
later books. It further contains two tables of contents 
(in cantos i. and iii.) which were clearly made at different 
times ; for one of them takes no notice of the first and 
last books, and must, therefore, have been made before 
these were added. What was obviously a part of the 
commencement of the original poem has been separated 
from its continuation at the opening of Book II., and 
now forms the beginning of the fifth canto of Book I. 
Some cantos have also been interpolated in the genuine 
books. As Professor Jacobi shows, all these additions to 
the original body of the epic have been for the most 
part so loosely attached that the junctures are easy to 
recognise. They are, however, pervaded by the same 
spirit as the older part. There is, therefore, no reason 
for the supposition that they are due to a Brahman 
revision intended to transform a poem originally meant 
for the warrior caste. They seem rather to owe their 
origin simply to the desire of professional rhapsodists to 
meet the demands of the popular taste. We are told in 
the Rdmdyana itself that the poem was either recited by 
professional minstrels or sung to the accompaniment of 
a stringed instrument, being handed down orally, in the 
first place by Rama's two sons Kuca and Lava. These 
names are nothing more than the inventions of popular 
etymology meant to explain the Sanskrit word ku$ilava y 


"bard" or "actor." The new parts were incorporated 
before the three recensions which have come down to us 
arose, but a considerable time must have elapsed between 
the composition of the original poem and that of the 
additions. For the tribal hero of the former has in the 
latter been transformed into a national hero, the moral 
ideal of the people ; and the human hero (like Krishna 
in the Mahdbhdratd) of the five genuine books (excepting 
a few interpolations) has in the first and last become 
deified and identified with the god Vishnu, his divine 
nature in these additions being always present to the 
minds of their authors. Here, too, Valmiki, the composer 
of the Rdmdyana y appears as a contemporary of Rama, 
and is already regarded as a seer. A long interval of 
time must have been necessary for such transformations 
as these. 

As to the place of its origin, there is good reason for 
believing that the Rdmdyana arose in Kosala, the country 
ruled by the race of Ikshvaku in Ayodhya (Oudh). For 
we are told in the seventh book (canto 45) that the 
hermitage of Valmiki lay on the south bank of the Ganges; 
the poet must further have been connected with the royal 
house of Ayodhya, as the banished Slta took refuge in his 
hermitage, where her twin sons were born, brought up, 
and later learnt the epic from his lips ; and lastly, the 
statement is made in the first book (canto 5) that the 
Rdmdyana arose in the family of the Ikshvakus. In 
Ayodhya, then, there must have been current among the 
court bards {siltd) a number of epic tales narrating the 
fortunes of the Ikshvaku hero Rama. Such legends, we 
may assume, Valmiki worked up into a single homo- 
geneous production, which, as the earliest epic of impor- 
tance conforming to the rules of poetics, justly received 


the name of ddi-kdvya, or " first artificial poem," from its 
author's successors. This work was then learnt by pro- 
fessional rhapsodists (kugilava) and recited by them in 
public as they -wandered about the country. 

The original part of the Rdmdyana appears to have 
been completed at a time when the epic kernel of the 
Mahdbhdrata had not as yet assumed definite shape. For 
while the heroes of the latter are not mentioned in the 
Rdmdyana, the story of Rama is often referred to in the 
longer epic. Again, in a passage of Book VII. of the 
Mahdbhdrata, which cannot be regarded as a later 
addition, two lines are quoted as Valmlki's that occur 
unaltered in Book VI. of the Rdmdyana. The poem of 
Valmiki must, therefore, have been generally known as 
an old work before the Mahdbhdrata assumed a coherent 
form. In Book III. (cantos 277-291) of the latter epic, 
moreover, there is a Rdmopdkhydna or "Episode of 
Rama," which seems to be based on the Rdmdyana, as 
it contains several verses agreeing more or less with 
Valmlki's lines, and its author presupposes on the part 
of his audience a knowledge of the Rdmdyana as repre- 
sented by the Bombay recension. 

A further question of importance in determining 
the age of the Rdmdyana is its relation to Buddhistic 
literature. Now, the story of Rama is found in a some- 
what altered form in one of the Pali Birth-Stories, the 
Daqaratha Jdtaka. As this version confines itself to the 
first part of Rama's adventures, his sojourn in the forest, 
it might at first sight seem to be the older of the two. 
There is, however, at least an indication that the second 
part of the story, the expedition to Lanka, was also 
known to the author of the Jdtaka ; for while Valmlki's 
poem concludes with the reunion of Rama and Slta, the 


Jdtaka is made to end with the marriage of the couple 
after the manner of fairy tales, there being at the same 
time traces that they were wedded all along in the 
original source of the legend. Moreover, a verse from 
the old part of the Rdmdyana (vi. 128) actually occurs 
in a Pali form embedded in the prose of this Jdtaka. 

It might, indeed, be inferred from the greater freedom 
with which they handle the cloka metre that the canoni- 
cal Buddhistic writings are older than the Rdmdyana, in 
which the cloka is of the classical Sanskrit type. But, 
as a matter of fact, these Pali works on the whole 
observe the laws of the classical gloka, their metrical 
irregularities being most probably caused by the recent 
application of Pali to literary purposes as well as by the 
inferior preservation of Pali works. On the other hand, 
Buddhistic literature early made use of the Aryd metre, 
which, though so popular in classical Sanskrit poetry, 
is not yet to be found in the Sanskrit epics. 

The only mention of Buddha in the Rdmdyana occurs 
in a passage which is evidently interpolated. Hence the 
balance of the evidence in relation to Buddhism seems 
to favour the pre-Buddhistic origin of the genuine 

The question whether the Greeks were known to the 
author of our epic is, of course, also of chronological 
moment. An examination of the poem shows that the 
Yavanas (Greeks) are only mentioned twice, once in 
Book I. and once in a canto of Book IV., which Professor 
Jacobi shows to be an interpolation. The only conclu- 
sion to be drawn from this is that the additions to the 
original poem were made some time after 300 B.C. 
Professor Weber's assumption of Greek influence in 
the story of the Rdmdyana seems to lack foundation. 


For the tale of the abduction of Slta and the expedition 
to Lanka for her recovery has no real correspondence 
with that of the rape of Helen and the Trojan war. 
Nor is there any sufficient reason to suppose that the 
account of Rama bending a powerful bow in order to 
win Slta was borrowed from the adventures of Ulysses. 
Stories of similar feats of strength for a like object are 
to be found in the poetry of other nations besides the 
Greeks, and could easily have arisen independently. 

The political aspect of Eastern India as revealed by 
the Rdmdyana sheds some additional light on the age of 
the epic. In the first place, no mention is made of the 
city of Pataliputra (Patna), which was founded by King 
Kalacoka (under whom the second Buddhist council 
was held at Vaicall about 380 B.C.), and which by the 
time of Megasthenes (300 B.C.) had become the capital 
of India. Yet Rama is in Book I. (canto 35) described 
as passing the very spot where that city stood, and the 
poet makes a point (in cantos 32-33) of referring to the 
foundation of a number of cities in Eastern Hindustan, 
such as KaucambI, Kanyakubja, and Kampilya, in order 
to show how far the fame of the Rdmdyana spread beyond 
the confines of Kosala, the land of its origin. Had 
Pataliputra existed at the time, it could not have failed 
to be mentioned. 

It is further a noteworthy fact that the capital of 
Kosala is in the original Rdmdyana regularly called 
Ayodhya, while the Buddhists, Jains, Greeks, and Patan- 
jali always give it the name of Saketa. Now in the last 
book of the Rdmdyana we are told that Rama's son, 
Lava, fixed the seat of his government at (^ravasti, a city 
not mentioned at all in the old part of the epic ; and in 
Buddha's time King Prasenajit of Kosala is known to have 


reigned at (^ravastT. All this points to the conclusion 
that the original Rdmdyana was composed when the 
ancient Ayodhya had not yet been deserted, but was 
still the chief city of Kosala, when its new name of 
Saketa was still unknown, and before the seat of govern- 
ment was transferred to (Jravastl. 

Again, in the old part of Book I., Mithila and Vicala 
are spoken of as twin cities under separate rulers, while 
we know that by Buddha's time they had coalesced to 
the famous city of Vaicall, which was then ruled by an 

The political conditions described in the Rdmdyana 
indicate the patriarchal rule of kings possessing only a 
small territory, and never point to the existence of more 
complex states ; while the references of the poets of the 
Mahdbhdrata to the dominions in Eastern India ruled by 
a powerful king, Jarasandha, and embracing many lands 
besides Magadha, reflect the political conditions of the 
fourth century B.C. The cumulative evidence of the 
above arguments makes it difficult to avoid the con- 
clusion that the kernel of the Rdmdyana was composed i 
before 500 B.C., while the more recent portions were 
probably not added till the second century B.C. and 

This conclusion does not at first sight seem to be 
borne out by the linguistic evidence of the Rdmdyana. 
For the epic (drsha) dialect of the Bombay recension, 
which is practically the same as that of the Mahdbhdrata, 
both betrays a stage of development decidedly later 
than that of Panini, and is taken no notice of by that 
grammarian. But it is, for all that, not necessarily later 
in date. For Panini deals only with the refined Sanskrit 
of the cultured ($ishta) f that is to say, of the Brahmans, 


which would be more archaic than the popular dialect of 
wandering rhapsodists; and he would naturally have 
ignored the latter. Now at the time of the Acoka in- 
scriptions, or hardly more than half a century later 
than Panini, Prakrit was the language of the people 
in the part of India where the Rdmdyana was com- 
posed. It is, therefore, not at all likely that the 
Rdmdyana, which aimed at popularity, should have 
been composed as late as the time of Panini, when 
it could not have been generally understood. If the 
language of the epic is later than Panini, it is difficult 
to see how it escaped the dominating influence of his 
grammar. It is more likely that the popular Sanskrit 
of the epics received general currency at a much earlier 
date by the composition of a poem like that of Valmlki. 
A searching comparative investigation of the classical 
Kavyas will probably show that they are linguistically 
more closely connected with the old epic poetry, and 
that they deviate more from the Paninean standard than 
is usually supposed. 

In style the Rdmdyana is already far removed from 
the naive popular epic, in which the story is the chief 
thing, and not its form. Valmlki is rich in similes, 
which he often cumulates ; he not infrequently uses the 
cognate figure called rupaka or "identification" (e.g. " foot- 
lotus ") with much skill, and also occasionally employs 
other ornaments familiar to the classical poets, besides 
approximating to them in the style of his descriptions. 
The Rdmdyana, in fact, represents the dawn of the later 
artificial poetry (kdvya), which was in all probability the 
direct continuation and development of the art handed 
down by the rhapsodists who recited Valmiki's work. 
Such a relationship is distinctly recognised by the authors 


of the great classical epics (inahdkavis) when they refer 
to him as the ddi-kavi or " first poet." 
/The story of the Rdmdyana, as narrated in the five 
genuine books, consists of two distinct parts. The first 
describes the events at the court of King Dacaratha at 
Ayodhya and their consequences. Here we have a 
purely human and natural account of the intrigues of a 
queen to set her son upon the throne. There is nothing 
fantastic in the narrative, nor has it any mythological 
background. If the epic ended with the return of 
Rama's brother, Bharata, to the capital, after the old 
king's death, it might pass for a historical saga. For 
Ikshvaku, Dacaratha, and Rama are the names of cele- 
brated and mighty kings, mentioned even in the Rigveda, 
though not there connected with one another in any way. 
The character of the second part is entirely different. 
Based on a foundation of myths, it is full of the marvel- 
lous and fantastic. The oldest theory as to the signifi- 
cance of the story was that of Lassen, who held that 
it was intended to represent allegorically the first attempt 
of the Aryans to conquer the South. But Rama is no- 
where described as founding an Aryan realm in the 
Dekhan, nor is any such intention on his part indicated 
anywhere in the epic. Weber subsequently expressed 
the same view in a somewhat modified form. According 
to him, the Rdmdyaria was meant to account for the 
spread of Aryan culture to the South and to Ceylon. 
But this form of the allegorical theory also lacks any 
confirmation from the statements of the epic itself ; for 
Rama's expedition is nowhere represented as producing 
any change or improvement in the civilisation of the 
South. The poet knows nothing about the Dekhan 
beyond the fact that Brahman hermitages are to be 


found there. Otherwise it is a region haunted by the 
monsters and fabulous beings with which an Indian 
imagination would people an unknown land. 

There is much more probability in the opinion of 
Jacobi, that the Rdmdyana contains no allegory at all, but 
is based on Indian mythology. The foundation of the 
second part would thus be a celestial myth of the Veda 
transformed into a narrative of earthly adventures ac- 
cording to a not uncommon development. Slta can be 
traced to the Rigveda, where she appears as the Furrow 
personified and invoked as a goddess. In some of the 
Grihya Sutras she again appears as a genius of the 
ploughed field, is praised as a being of great beauty, 
and is accounted the wife of Indra or Parjanya, the rain- 
god. There are traces of this origin in the Rdmdyana 
itself. For Slta is represented (i. 66) as having emerged 
from the earth when her father Janaka was once plough- 
ing, and at last she disappears underground in the arms 
of the goddess Earth (vii. 97). Her husband, Rama, 
would be no other than Indra, and his conflict with 
Ravana, chief of the demons, would represent the Indra- 
Vritra myth of the Rigveda. This identification is con- 
firmed by the name of Ravana's son being Indrajit, 
"Conqueror of Indra," or Indracatru, " Foe of Indra," 
the latter being actually an epithet of Vritra in the Rig- 
veda. Ravana's most notable feat, the rape of Slta, has 
its prototype in the stealing of the cows recovered by 
Indra. Hanumat, the chief of the monkeys and Rama's 
ally in the recovery of Slta, is the son of the wind-god, 
with the patronymic Maruti, and is described as flying 
hundreds of leagues through the air to find Slta. Hence 
in his figure perhaps survives a reminiscence of Indra's 
alliance with the Maruts in his conflict with Vritra, and 


of the dog Sarama, who, as Indra's messenger, crosses 
the waters of the Rasa and tracks the cows. Sarama 
recurs as the name of a demoness who consoles Slta in 
her captivity. The name of Hanumat being Sanskrit, the 
character is probably not borrowed from the aborigines. 
As Hanumat is at the present day the tutelary deity of 
village settlements all over India, Prof. Jacobi's surmise 
that he must have been connected with agriculture, 
and may have been a genius of the monsoon, has some 

The main story of theRdmayana begins with an account " 
of the city of Ayodhya under the rule of the mighty 
King Dacaratha, the sons of whose three wives, Kaucalya, 
Kaikeyl, and Sumitra, are Rama, Bharata, and Laksh- 
mana respectively. Rama is married to Slta, daughter 
of Janaka, king of Videha. Dacaratha, feeling the 
approach of old age, one day announces in a great 
assembly that he desires to make Rama heir-apparent, 
an announcement received with general rejoicing be- 
cause of Rama's great popularity. Kaikeyl, meanwhile, 
wishing her son Bharata to succeed, reminds the king 
that he had once offered her the choice of two boons, 
of which she had as yet not availed herself. When 
Dacaratha at last promises to fulfil whatever she may 
desire, Kaikeyl requests him to appoint Bharata his 
successor, and to banish Rama for fourteen years. The 
king, having in vain implored her to retract, passes a 
sleepless night. Next day, when the solemn consecra- 
tion of Rama is to take place, Dacaratha sends for his 
son and informs him of his fate. Rama receives the 
news calmly and prepares to obey his father's com- 
mand as his highest duty. Slta and Lakshmana resolve 
on sharing his fortunes, and accompany him in his exile. 


The aged king, overcome with grief at parting from his 
son, withdraws from Kaikeyl, and passing the remainder 
of his days with Rama's mother, Kaucalya, finally dies 
lamenting for his banished son. Rama has meanwhile 
lived peacefully and happily with Sita and his brother in 
the wild forest of Dandaka. On the death of the- old 
king, Bharata, who in the interval has lived with the 
parents of his mother, is summoned to the throne. Re- 
fusing the succession with noble indignation, he sets out 
for the forest in order to bring Rama back to Ayodhya. 
Rama, though much moved by his brother's request, 
declines to return because he must fulfil his vow of exile. 
Taking off his gold-embroidered shoes, he gives them to 
Bharata as a sign that he hands over his inheritance to 
him. Bharata returning to Ayodhya, places Rama's shoes 
on the throne, and keeping the royal umbrella over them, 
holds council and dispenses justice by their side. 

Rama now sets about the task of combating the 
formidable giants that infest the Dandaka forest and 
are a terror to the pious hermits settled there. Having, 
by the advice of the sage Agastya, procured the weapons 
of India, he begins a successful conflict, in which he 
slays many thousands of demons. Their chief, Ravana, 
enraged and determined on revenge, turns one of his 
followers into a golden deer, which appears to Sita. 
While Rama and Lakshmana are engaged, at her re- 
quest, in pursuit of it, Ravana in the guise of an ascetic 
approaches Sita, carries her off by force, and wounds 
the vulture Jatayu, which guards her abode. Rama on 
his return is seized with grief and despair; but, as he 
is burning the remains of the vulture, a voice from 
the pyre proclaims to him how he can conquer his 
foes and recover his wife. He now proceeds to con- 


elude a solemn alliance with the chiefs of the monkeys, 
Hanumat and Sugrlva. With the help of the latter, 
Rama slays the terrible giant Bali. Hanumat mean- 
while crosses from the mainland to the island of Lanka, 
the abode of Ravana, in search of Slta. Here he finds 
her wandering sadly in a grove and announces to her 
that deliverance is at hand. After slaying a number of 
demons, he returns and reports his discovery to Rama. 
A plan of campaign is now arranged. The monkeys 
having miraculously built a bridge from the continent 
to Lanka with the aid of the god of the sea, Rama 
leads his army across, slays Ravana, and wins back Slta. 
After she has purified herself from the suspicion of in- 
fidelity by the ordeal of fire, Rama joyfully returns with 
her to Ayodhya, where he reigns gloriously in associa- 
tion with his faithful brother Bharata, and gladdens his 
subjects with a new golden age. 

Such in bare outline is the main story of the Rdma- 
yana. By the addition of the first and last books Val- 
miki's epic has in the following way been transformed 
into a poem meant to glorify the god Vishnu. Ravana, 
having obtained from Brahma the boon of being in- 
vulnerable to gods, demigods, and demons, abuses his 
immunity in so terrible a manner that the gods are re- 
duced to despair. Bethinking themselves at last that 
Ravana had in his arrogance forgotten to ask that he 
should not be wounded by men, they implore Vishnu 
to allow himself to be born as a man for the destruction 
of the demon. Vishnu, consenting, is born as Rama, 
and accomplishes the task. At the end of the seventh 
book Brahma and the other gods come to Rama, pay 
homage to him, and proclaim that he is really Vishnu, 
"the glorious lord of the discus." The belief here ex- 


pressed that Rama is an incarnation of Vishnu, the 
highest god, has secured to the hero of our epic the 
worship of the Hindus down to the present day. That 
belief, forming the fundamental doctrine of the religious 
system of Ramanuja in the twelfth and of Ramananda 
in the fourteenth century, has done much to counteract 
the spread of the degrading superstitions and impurities 
of ^ivaism both in the South and in the North of India. 

The Rdmdyana contains several interesting episodes, 
though, of course, far fewer than the Mahdbhdrata. One 
of them, a thoroughly Indian story, full of exaggera- 
tions and impossibilities, is the legend, told in Book I., 
of the descent of the Ganges. It relates how the sacred 
river was brought down from heaven to earth in order 
to purify the remains of the 60,000 sons of King Sagara, 
who were reduced to ashes by the sage Kapila when 
his devotions were disturbed by them. 

Another episode (i. 52-65) is that of Vicvamitra, a 
powerful king, who comes into conflict with the great sage 
Vasishtha by endeavouring to take away his miraculous 
cow by force. Vicvamitra then engages in mighty pen- 
ances, in which he resists the seductions of beautiful 
nymphs, and which extend over thousands of years, 
till he finally attains Brahmanhood, and is reconciled 
with his rival, Vasishtha. 

The short episode which relates the origin of the 
qloka metre is one of the most attractive and poetical. 
Valmlki in his forest hermitage is preparing to describe 
worthily the fortunes of Rama. While he is watching 
a fond pair of birds on the bank of the river, the male 
is suddenly shot by a hunter, and falls dead on the 
ground, weltering in his blood. Valmlki, deeply touched 
by the grief of the bereaved female, involuntarily utters 


words lamenting the death of her mate and threatening 
vengeance on the wicked murderer. But, strange to 
tell, his utterance is no ordinary speech and flows in 
a melodious stream. As he wanders, lost in thought, 
towards his hut, Brahma appears and announces to the 
poet that he has unconsciously created the rhythm of 
the qloka metre. The deity then bids him compose in 
this measure the divine poem on the life and deeds of 
Rama. This story may have a historical significance, 
for it indicates with some probability that the classical 
form of the gloka was first fixed by Valmlki, the author 
of the original part of the Rdmdyana. 

The epic contains the following verse foretelling its 
everlasting fame : 

As long as mountain ranges stand 
And rivers flow upon the earth : 
So long will this Rdmdyana 
Survive upon the lips of men. 

This prophecy has been perhaps even more abun- 
dantly fulfilled than the well-known prediction of 
Horace. No product of Sanskrit literature has enjoyed 
a greater popularity in India down to the present day 
than the Rdmdyana. Its story furnishes the subject of 
many other Sanskrit poems as well as plays, and still 
delights, from the lips of reciters, the hearts of myriads 
of the Indian people, as at the great annual Rama 
festival held at Benares. It has been translated into 
many Indian vernaculars. Above all, it inspired the 
greatest poet of mediaeval Hindustan, Tulsl Das, to com- 
pose in Hindi his version of the epic entitled Ram 
Charit Manas, which, with its ideal standard of virtue 
and purity, is a kind of bible to a hundred millions of 
the people of Northern India. 



{Circa 200 B.C.-noo A.D.) 

The real history of the Kavya, or artificial epic poetry of 
India, does not begin till the first half of the seventh cen- 
tury A.D., with the reign of King Harsha-vardhana of Than- 
ecar and Kanauj (606-648), who ruled over the whole of 
Northern India, and under whose patronage Bana wrote 
his historical romance, Harsha-charita, and other works. 
The date of no Kavya before this landmark has as yet 
been fixed with certainty. One work, however, which 
is dominated by the Kavya style, the Brihatsamhitd of 
the astronomer Varahamihira, can without hesitation be 
assigned to the middle of the sixth century. But as to 
the date of the most famous classical poets, Kalidasa, 
Subandhu, Bharavi, Gunadhya, and others, we have no 
historical authority. The most definite statement that 
can be made about them is that their fame was widely 
diffused by about 600 A.D., as is attested by the way in 
which their names are mentioned in Bana and in an 
inscription of 634 A.D. Some of them, moreover, like 
Gunadhya, to whose work Subandhu repeatedly alludes, 
must certainly belong to a much earlier time. The 
scanty materials supplied by the poets themselves, which 
might help to determine their dates, are difficult to utilise, 

because the history of India, both political and social, 



during the first five centuries of our era, is still involved 
in obscurity. 

With regard to the age of court poetry in general, 
we have the important literary evidence of the quota- 
tions in Patanjali's Mahdbhdshya, which show that Kavya 
flourished in his day, and must have been developed 
before the beginning of our era. Several of these quoted 
verses are composed in the artificial metres of the 
classical poetry, while the heroic anushtubh qlokas agree 
in matter as well as form, not with the popular, but with 
the court epics. 

We further know that Acvaghosha's Buddha-charita, 
or " Doings of Buddha," was translated into Chinese 
between 414 and 421 A.D. This work not only calls 
itself a mahdkdvya, or " great court epic," but is actually 
written in the Kavya style. Acvaghosha was, accord- 
ing to the Buddhist tradition, a contemporary of King 
Kanishka, and would thus belong to the first century 
A.D. In any case, it is evident that his poem could not 
have been composed later than between 350 and 400 
A.D. The mere fact, too, that a Buddhist monk thus 
early conceived the plan of writing the legend of Buddha 
according to the rules of the classical Sanskrit epic 
shows how popular the Brahmanical artificial poetry 
must have become, at any rate by the fourth century 
A.D., and probably long before. 

The progress of epigraphic research during the last 
quarter of a century has begun to shed considerable light 
on the history of court poetry during the dark age em- 
bracing the first five centuries of our era. Mr. Fleet's 
third volume of the Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum con- 
tains no fewer than eighteen inscriptions of importance 
in this respect. These are written mostly in verse, but 


partly also in elevated prose. They cover a period of 
two centuries, from about 350 to 550 A.D. Most of them 
employ the Gupta era, beginning A.D. 319, and first used 
by Chandragupta II., named Vikramaditya, whose in- 
scriptions and coins range from A.D. 400 to 413. A few 
of them employ the Malava era, the earlier name of the 
Vikrama era, which dates from 57 B.C. Several of these 
inscriptions are praqastis or panegyrics on kings. An 
examination of them proves that the poetical style pre- 
vailing in the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries did not 
differ from that of the classical Kavyas which have been 
preserved. Samudragupta, the second of the Gupta line, 
who belongs to the second half of the fourth century, 
was, we learn, himself a poet, as well as a supporter of 
poets. Among the latter was at least one, by name 
Harishena, who in his panegyric on his royal patron, 
which consists of some thirty lines (nine stanzas) of 
poetry and about an equal number of lines of prose, 
shows a mastery of style rivalling that of Kalidasa and 
Dandin. In agreement with the rule of all the Sanskrit 
treatises on poetics, his prose is full of inordinately long 
compounds, one of them containing more than 120 
syllables. In his poetry he, like Kalidasa and others, 
follows the Vidarbha style, in which the avoidance of 
long compounds is a leading characteristic. In this 
style, which must have been fully developed by a.d. 300, 
is also written an inscription by Virasena, the minister 
of Chandragupta II., Samudragupta's successor. 

A very important inscription dates from the year 529 
of the Malava (Vikrama) era, or A.D. 473. It consists of 
a poem of no fewer than forty-four stanzas (containing 
150 metrical lines), composed by a poet named Vat- 
sabhatti, to commemorate the consecration of a temple 


of the sun at Dacapura (now Mandasor). A detailed 
examination of this inscription not only leads to the con- 
clusion that in the fifth century a rich Kavya literature 
must have existed, but in particular shows that the poem 
has several affinities with Kalidasa's writings. The latter 
fact renders it probable that Vatsabhatti, a man of 
inferior poetic talent, who professes to have produced 
his work with effort, knew and utilised the poems of 
Kalidasa. The reign of Chandragupta Vikramaditya II., 
at the beginning of the fifth century A.D., therefore 
seems in the meantime the most probable approximate 
date for India's greatest poet. 

Besides the epigraphic evidence of the Gupta period, 
we have two important literary prose inscriptions of con- 
siderable length, one from Girnar and the other from 
Nasik, both belonging to the second century A.D. They 
show that even then there existed a prose Kavya style 
which, in general character and in many details, re- 
sembled that of the classical tales and romances. For 
they not only employ long and frequent compounds, but 
also the ornaments of alliteration and various kinds of 
simile and metaphor. Their use of poetical figures is, 
however, much less frequent and elaborate, occasionally 
not going beyond the simplicity of the popular epic. 
They are altogether less artificial than the prose parts 
of Harishena's Kavya, and a fortiori than the works of 
Dandin, Subandhu, and Bana. From the Girnar in- 
scription it appears that its author must have been ac- 
quainted with a theory of poetics, that metrical Kavyas 
conforming to the rules of the Vidarbha style were com- 
posed in his day, and that poetry of this kind was culti- 
vated at the courts of princes then as in later times. It 
cannot be supposed that Kavya literature was a new inven- 


tion of the second century ; it must, on the contrary, have 
passed through a lengthened development before that 
time. Thus epigraphy not merely confirms the evidence 
of the Mahabhdshya that artificial court poetry originated 
before the commencement of our era, but shows that 
that poetry continued to be cultivated throughout the 
succeeding centuries. 

These results of the researches of the late Professor 
Biihler and of Mr. Fleet render untenable Professor Max 
Miiller's well-known theory of the renaissance of Sanskrit 
literature in the sixth century, which was set forth by 
that scholar with his usual brilliance in India, what can 
it Teach us? and which held the field for several years. 

Professor Max Miiller's preliminary assertion that the 
Indians, in consequence of the incursions of the (^akas 
(Scythians) and other foreigners, ceased from literary 
activity during the first two centuries A.D., is refuted by 
the evidence of the last two inscriptions mentioned above. 
Any such interruption of intellectual life during that 
period is, even apart from epigraphical testimony, ren- 
dered highly improbable by other considerations. The 
Scythians, in the first place, permanently subjugated 
only about one-fifth of India ; for their dominion, which 
does not appear to have extended farther east than 
Mathura (Muttra), was limited to the Panjab, Sindh, 
Gujarat, Rajputana, and the Central Indian Agency. 
The conquerors, moreover, rapidly became Hinduised. 
Most of them already had Indian names in the second 
generation. One of them, Ushabhadata (the Sanskrit 
Rishabhadatta), described his exploits in an inscrip- 
tion composed in a mixture of Sanskrit and Prakrit. 
Kanishka himself (78 A.D.), as well as his successors, 
was a patron of Buddhism ; and national Indian archi- 


tecture and sculpture attained a high development at 
Mathura under these rulers. When the invaders thus 
rapidly acquired the civilisation of the comparatively 
small portion of India they conquered, there is no 
reason to assume the suppression of literary activity in 
that part of the country, much less in India as a whole. 

The main thesis of Professor Max Miiller is, that in 
the middle of the sixth century A.D. the reign of a King 
Vikramaditya of Ujjain, with whom tradition connected 
the names of Kalidasa and other distinguished authors, 
was the golden age of Indian court poetry. This 
renaissance theory is based on Fergusson's ingenious 
chronological hypothesis that a supposed King Vikrama 
of Ujjain, having expelled the Scythians from India, 
in commemoration of his victory founded the Vikrama 
era in 544 A.D., dating its commencement back 600 
years to 57 B.C. The epigraphical researches Of Mr. 
Fleet have destroyed Fergusson's hypothesis. From 
these researches it results that the Vikrama era of 57 B.C., 
far from having been founded in 544 A.D., had already 
been in use for more than a century previously under 
the name of the Malava era (which came to be called 
the Vikrama era about 800 A.D.). It further appears 
that no ^akas (Scythians) could have been driven out 
of Western India in the middle of the sixth century, 
because that country had already been conquered by 
the Guptas more than a hundred years before. Lastly, 
it turns out that, though other foreign conquerors, the 
Hunas, were actually expelled from Western India in 
the first half of the sixth century, they were driven out, 
not by a Vikramaditya, but by a king named Yaeo- 
dharman Vishnuvardhana. 

Thus the great King Vikramaditya vanishes from 


the historical ground of the sixth century into the 
realm of myth. With Vikramaditya an often-quoted 
but ill-authenticated verse occurring in a work of the 
sixteenth century associates Dhanvantari, Kshapanaka, 
Amarasimha, Varahamihira, and Vararuchi as among 
the " nine gems " of his court. With the disappearance 
of Vikrama from the sixth century A.D. this verse has 
lost all chronological validity with reference to the 
date of the authors it enumerates ; it is even inad- 
missible to conclude from such legendary testimony 
that they were contemporaries. Even though one of 
them, Varahamihira, actually does belong to the sixth 
century, each of them can now only be placed in 
the sixth century separately and by other arguments. 
Apart from the mythical Vikramaditya, there is now 
no reason to suppose that court poetry attained a 
special development in that century, for Harishena's 
paneygyric, and some other epigraphic poems of the 
Gupta period, show that it flourished greatly at least 
two hundred years earlier. 

None of the other arguments by which it has 
been attempted to place Kalidasa separately in the 
sixth century have any cogency. One of the chief 
of these is derived from the explanation given by 
the fourteenth - century commentator, Mallinatha, of 
the word digndga, " world-elephant," occurring in the 
14th stanza of Kalidasa's Meghaduta. He sees in it 
a punning allusion to Dignaga, a hated rival of the 
poet. This explanation, to begin with, is extremely 
dubious in itself. Then it is uncertain whether Malli- 
natha means the Buddhist teacher Dignaga. Thirdly, 
little weight can be attached to the Buddhistic tradition 
that Dignaga was a pupil of Vasubandhu, for this 


statement is not found till the sixteenth century. 
Fourthly, the assertion that Vasubandhu belongs to 
the sixth century depends chiefly on the Vikramaditya 
theory, and is opposed to Chinese evidence, which in- 
dicates that works of Vasubandhu were translated in 
A.D. 404. Thus every link in the chain of this argument 
is very weak. 

The other main argument is that Kalidasa must have 
lived after Aryabhata (A.D. 499), because he shows a 
knowledge of the scientific astronomy borrowed from 
the Greeks. But it has been shown by Dr. Thibaut 
that an Indian astronomical treatise, undoubtedly 
written under Greek influence, the Romaka Siddhdnta, 
is older than Aryabhata, and cannot be placed later 
than A.D. 400. It may be added that a passage of 
Kalidasa's Raghuvamga (xiv. 40) has been erroneously 
adduced in support of the astronomical argument, as 
implying that eclipses of the moon are due to the 
shadow of the earth : it really refers only to the spots 
in the moon as caused, in accordance with the doctrine 
of the Puranas, by a reflection of the earth. 

Thus there is, in the present state of our knowledge, 
good reason to suppose that Kalidasa lived not in the 
sixth, but in the beginning of the fifth century A.D. 
The question of his age, however, is not likely to be 
definitely solved till the language, the style, and the 
poetical technique of each of his works have been 
minutely investigated, in comparison with datable epi- 
graphic documents, as well as with the rules given by 
the oldest Sanskrit treatises on poetics. 

As the popular epic poetry of the Mahdbhdrata 
was the chief source of the Puranas, so the Rdmdyani 
the earliest artificial epic, was succeeded, though after 


a long interval of time, by a number of Kavyas rang- 
ing from the fifth to the twelfth century. While in the 
old epic poetry form is subordinated to matter, it is of 
primary importance in the Kavyas, the matter becom- 
ing more and more merely a means for the display of 
tricks of style. The later the author of a Kavya is, the 
more he seeks to win the admiration of his audience 
by the cleverness of his conceits and the ingenuity of 
his diction, appealing always to the head rather than 
the heart. Even the very best of the Kavyas were com- 
posed in more strict conformity, with fixed rules than 
the poetry of any other country. For not only is the 
language dominated by the grammatical rules of Panini, 
but the style is regulated by the elaborate laws about 
various forms of alliteration and figures of speech laid 
down in the treatises on poetics. 

The two most important Kavyas are Kalidasa's Raghu- 
vamqa and Kumdra - sambhava y both distinguished by 
independence of treatment as well as considerable 
poetical beauty. They have several stanzas in com- 
mon, many others which offer but slight variations, and 
a large number of passages which, though differing in 
expression, are strikingly analogous in thought. In 
both poems, too, the same metre is employed to de- 
scribe the same situation. In both poems each canto 
is, as a rule, composed in one metre, but changes with 
the beginning of the new canto. The prevailing metres 
are the classical form of the anushtubh and the upajdti, 
a development of the Vedic trishtubh. 
^c The Raghuvam$a, or " Race of Raghu," which consists 
of nineteen cantos, describes the life of Rama together 
with an account of his forefathers and successors. The 
first nine cantos deal with his nearest four ancestors, 


beginning with Dillpa and his son Raghu. The story 
of Rama occupies the next six (x.-xv.), and agrees pretty 
closely with that in the Ramdyana of Valmlki, whom 
Kalidasa here (xv. 41) speaks of as "the first poet." 
The following two cantos are concerned with the 
three nearest descendants of Rama, while the last two 
run through the remainder of twenty-four kings who 
reigned in Ayodhya as his descendants, ending rather 
abruptly with the death of the voluptuous King Agni- 
varna. The names of these successors of Rama agree 
closely with those in the list given in the Vishnu-pur ana. 
The narrative in the Raghuvamca moves with some 
rapidity, not being too much impeded by long de- 
scriptions. It abounds with apt and striking similes 
and contains much genuine poetry, while the style, 
for a Kavya, is simple, though many passages are un- 
doubtedly too artificial for the European taste. The 
following stanza, sung by a bard whose duty it is to 
waken the king in the morning (v. 75), may serve as a 

The flowers to thee presented droop and fade, 
The lamps have lost the wreath of rays they shed, 
Thy sweet-voiced parrot, in his cage confined, 
Repeats the call we sound to waken thee. 

More than twenty commentaries on the Raghuvamca 
are known. The most famous is the Samjlvani of 
Mallinatha, who explains every word of the text, and 
who has the great merit of endeavouring to find out 
and preserve the readings of the poet himself. He knew 
a number of earlier commentaries, among which he 
names with approval those of Dakshinavarta and Natha. 
The latter no longer exist. Among the other extant 
commentaries may be mentioned the Subodhini, com- 


posed by Dinakara Micra in 1385, and the iguhitatshin& 9 
by a Jain named Charitravardhana, <ff which Dinakara's 
work appears to be an epitome. 

The Kumara-sambhava, or the " Birth of the War- 
god," consists, when complete, of seventeen cantos. 
The first ^seven are entirely devoted to the court- 
ship and wedding of the god (Jiva and of ParvatI, 
daughter of Himalaya, the parents of the youthful god. 
This fact in itself indicates that description is the 
prevailing characteristic of the poem. It abounds in 
that poetical miniature painting in which lies the chief 
literary strength of the Indian. Affording the poet free 
scope for the indulgence of his rich and original imagina- 
tive powers, it is conspicuous for wealth of illustration. 
The following rendering of a stanza in the Viyoginl metre 
(in which lines of ten and eleven syllables ending iambi- 
cally alternate) may serve as a specimen. The poet 
shows how the duty of a wife following her husband in 
death is exemplified even by objects in Nature poetically 
conceived as spouses 

After the Lord of Night the moonlight goes, 
Along with the cloud the lightning is dissolved : 
Wives ever follow in their husbands' path j 
Even things bereft of sense obey this law. 

Usually the first seven cantos only are to be found in 
the printed editions, owing to the excessively erotic 
character of the remaining ten. The poem concludes 
with an account of the destruction of the demon Taraka, 
the object for which the god of war was born. 

More than twenty commentaries on the Kumara- 
sambJiava have been preserved. Several of them are by 
the same authors, notably Mallinatha, as those on the 


The subject-matter of the later Kavyas, which is 
derived from the two great epics, becomes more and 
more mixed up with lyric, erotic, and didactic elements. 
It is increasingly regarded as a means for the display of 
elaborate conceits, till at last nothing remains but bom- 
bast and verbal jugglery. The Bhatti-kdvya, written 
in Valabhl under King (^rldharasena, probably in the 
seventh century, and ascribed by various commentators 
to the poet and grammarian Bhartrihari (died 651 A.D.), 
deals in 22 cantos with the story of Rama, but only with 
the object of illustrating the forms of Sanskrit grammar. 

The Kirdtdrjiinlya describes, in eighteen cantos, the 
combat, first narrated in the Mahdbhdrata, between (Jiva, 
in the guise of a Kirdta or mountaineer, and Arjuna. It 
cannot have been composed later than the sixth century, 
as its author, Bharavi, is mentioned in an inscription of 
634 A.D. The fifteenth canto of this poem contains 
a number of stanzas illustrating all kinds of verbal 
tricks like those described in Dandin's Kdvyddarqa. Thus 
one stanza (14) contains no consonant but n (excepting 
a / at the end) ; 1 while each half-line in a subsequent 
one (25), if its syllables be read backwards, is identical 
with the other half. 2 

The iqupdla-vadha y or " Death of (^icupala," describes, 
in twenty cantos, how that prince, son of a king of Chedi, 
and cousin of Krishna, was slain by Vishnu. Having 
been composed by the poet Magha, it also goes by the 
name of Mdgha-kdvya. It probably dates from the ninth, 
and must undoubtedly have been composed before the 
end of the tenth century. The nineteenth canto is full 

1 Na nonanunno nunnono nana ndnanand nanu 
Nunno 'nunno nanunneno ndnend nunnanunnanut. 
2 Devdkanini kdvdde, &c. 


of metrical puzzles, some of a highly complex character 
(e.g. 29). It contains an example of a stanza (34) which, 
if read backwards, is identical with the preceding one 
read in the ordinary way. At the same time this Kavya 
is, as a whole, by no means lacking in poetical beauties 
and striking thoughts. 

The Naishadhlya (also called Naishadha-charita), in 
twenty-two cantos, deals with the story of Nala, king of 
Nishada, the well-known episode of the Mahdbhdrata. 
It was composed by Criharsha, who belongs to the latter 
half of the twelfth century. 

These six artificial epics are recognised as Mahd- 
kdvyas, or " Great Poems," and have all been commented 
on by Mallinatha. The characteristics of this higher class 
are set forth by Dandin in his Kdvyddarga, or " Mirror 
of Poetry " (i. 14-19). Their subjects must be derived r 
from epic story (itihdsd), they should be extensive, and 
ought to be embellished with descriptions of cities, seas, 
mountains, seasons, sunrise, weddings, battles fought by 
the hero, and so forth. 

An extensive Mahakavya, in fifty cantos, is the Hara- 
vijaya, or " Victory of (Jiva," by a Kashmirian poet named 
Ratnakara, who belongs to the ninth century. 

Another late epic, narrating the fortunes of the same 
hero as the Naishadlfiya, is the Nalodaya, or " Rise of 
Nala," which describes the restoration to power of King 
Nala after he had lost his all. Though attributed to 
Kalidasa, it is unmistakably the product of a much later 
age. The chief aim of the author is to show off his 
skill in the manipulation of the most varied and artificial 
metres, as well as all the elaborate tricks of style exhibited 
in the latest Kavyas. Rhyme even is introduced, and that, 
too, not only at the end of, but within metrical lines. 


The really epic material is but scantily treated, narrative 
making way for long descriptions and lyrical effusions. 
Thus the second and longest of the four cantos of the 
poem is purely lyrical, describing only the bliss of the 
newly-wedded pair, with all kinds of irrelevant additions. 

The culmination of artificiality is attained by the 
Rdghava-pdndaviya, a poem composed by Kaviraja, who 
perhaps flourished about A.D. 800. It celebrates simul- 
taneously the actions of Raghava or Rama and of the 
Pandava princes. The composition is so arranged that by 
the use of ambiguous words and phrases the story of 
the Rdmdyana and the Mahdbhdrata is told at one and the 
same time. The same words, according to the sense in 
which they are understood, narrate the events of each 
epic. A tour de force of this kind is doubtless unique 
in the literatures of the world. Kaviraja has, however, 
found imitators in India itself. 

A Mahakavya which is as yet only known in MS. is 
the Navasdhasdnka-charita, a poem celebrating the doings 
of Navasahasanka, otherwise Sindhuraja, a king of Mal- 
ava, and composed by a poet named Padmagupta, who 
lived about 1000 A.D. It consists of eighteen cantos, 
containing over 1500 stanzas in nineteen different 
metres. The poet refrains from the employment of 
metrical tricks ; but he greatly impedes the progress of 
the narrative by introducing interminable speeches and 
long-winded descriptions. 

We may mention, in conclusion, that there is also an 
epic in Prakrit which is attributed to Kalidasa. This is 
the Setu-bandha y " Building of the Bridge," or Rdvana- 
vadha y " Death of Ravana," which relates the story of 
Rama. It is supposed to have been composed by the 
poet to commemorate the building of a bridge of boats 



across the Vitasta (Jhelum) by King Pravarasena of 

There are a few prose romances dating from the 
sixth and seventh centuries, which being classed as 
Kavyas by the Sanskrit writers on poetics, may be men- 
tioned in this place. The abundant use of immense 
compounds, which of course makes them very difficult 
reading, is an essential characteristic of the style of these 
works. As to their matter, they contain but little action, 
consisting largely of scenes which are strung together by 
a meagre thread of narrative, and are made the occasion 
of lengthy descriptions full of long strings of compari- 
sons and often teeming with puns. In spite, however, 
of their highly artificial and involved style, many really 
poetical thoughts may be found embedded in what to the 
European taste is an unattractive setting. 

The Daga-kumdra-charita, or " Adventures of the Ten 
Princes," contains stories of common life and reflects a 
corrupt state of society. It is by Dandin, and probably 
dates from the sixth century A.D. Vdsavadattd, by 
Subandhu, relates the popular story of the heroine 
Vasavadatta, princess of Ujjayini, and Udayana, king of 
Vatsa. It was probably written quite at the beginning of 
the seventh century. Slightly later is Bana's Kddambarf, 
a poetical romance narrating the fortunes of a princess 
of that name. Another work of a somewhat similar charac- 
ter by the same author is the Harsha-charita, a romance 
in eight chapters, in which Bana attempts to give some 
account of the life of King Harshavardhana of Kanauj. 
There is, however, but little narrative. Thus in twenty-five 
pages of the eighth chapter there are to be found five' 
long descriptions, extending on the average to two pages, 
to say nothing of shorter ones. There is, for instance, 


a long disquisition, covering four pages, and full of 
strings of comparisons, about the miseries of servitude. 
A servant, " like a painted bow, is for ever bent in the one 
act of distending a string of imaginary virtues, but there 
is no force in him ; like a heap of dust-sweepings 
gathered by a broom, he carries off toilet-leavings ; 
like the meal offered to the Divine Mothers, he is cast 
out into space even at night ; like a pumping machine, 
he has left all weight behind him and bends even for 
water," and so on. Soon after comes a description, cover- 
ing two pages, of the trees in a forest. This is immedi- 
ately followed by another page enumerating the various 
kinds of students thronging the wood in order to avail 
themselves of the teaching of a great Buddhist sage ; 
they even include monkeys busily engaged in ritual 
ceremonies, devout parrots expounding a Buddhist dic- 
tionary, owls lecturing on the various births of Buddha, 
and tigers who have given up eating flesh under the 
calming influence of Buddhist teaching. Next comes a 
page describing the sage himself. " He was clad in a 
very soft red cloth, as if he were the eastern quarter of 
the sky bathed in the morning sunshine, teaching the 
other quarters to assume the red Buddhist attire, while 
they were flushed with the pure red glow of his body like 
a ruby freshly cut." Soon after comes a long account, 
bristling with puns, of a disconsolate princess lying pros- 
trate in the wood "lost in the forest and in thought, 
bent upon death and the root of a tree, fallen upon 
calamity and her nurse's bosom, parted from her hus- 
band and happiness, burned with the fierce sunshine 
and the woes of widowhood, her mouth closed with 
silence as well as by her hand, and held fast by her com- 
panions as well as by grief. I saw her with her kindred 


and her graces all gone, her ears and her soul left bare, 
her ornaments and her aims abandoned, her bracelets 
and her hopes broken, her companions and the needle- 
like grass-spears clinging round her feet, her eye and her 
beloved fixed within her bosom, her sighs and her hair 
long, her limbs and her merits exhausted, her aged atten- 
dants and her streaming tears falling down at her feet," 
and so forth. 



(Circa 400-1100 A.D.) 

Sanskrit lyrical poetry has not produced many works 
of any considerable length. But among these are in- 
cluded two of the most perfect creations of Kalidasa, a 
writer distinguished no less in this field than as an epic 
and a dramatic author. His lyrical talent is, indeed, also 
sufficiently prominent in his plays. 

Kalidasa's Meghadiita, or " Cloud Messenger/' is a 
lyrical gem which won the admiration of Goethe. It 
consists of 115 stanzas composed in the Manddkrdnta 
metre of four lines of seventeen syllables. The theme 
is a message which an exile sends by a cloud to his 
wife dwelling far away. The idea is applied by Schiller 
in his Maria Stuart y where the captive Queen of Scots 
calls on the clouds as they fly southwards to greet the 
land of her youth (act hi. sc. 1). The exile is a Yaksha 
or attendant of Kubera, the god of wealth, who for 
neglect of his duty has been banished to the groves on 
the slopes of Ramagiri in Central India. Emaciated 
and melancholy, he sees, at the approach of the rainy 
season, a dark cloud moving northwards. The sight fills 
his heart with yearning, and impels him to address to the 
cloud a request to convey a message of hope to his wife 
in the remote Himalaya. In the first half of the poem the 
Yaksha describes with much power and beauty the various 

scenes the cloud must traverse on its northward course : 



Mount Amrakuta, on whose peak it will rest after 
quenching with showers the forest fires ; the Narmada, 
winding at the foot of the Vindhya hills ; the town of 
Vidica (Bhilsa), and the stream of the VetravatI (Betwah) ; 
the city of UjjayinI (Ujjain) in the land of Avanti ; the 
sacred region of Kurukshetra ; the Ganges and the 
mountains from which she sprang, white with snowfields, 
till Alaka on Mount Kailasa is finally reached. 

In the second half of the poem the Yaksha first de- 
scribes the beauties of this city and his own dwelling 
there. Going on to paint in glowing colours the charms of 
his wife, her surroundings, and her occupations, he ima- 
gines her tossing on her couch, sleepless and emaciated, 
through the watches of the night. Then, when her eye 
rests on the window, the cloud shall proclaim to her with 
thunder-sound her husband's message, that he is still 
alive and ever longs to behold her : 

In creepers I discern thy form, in eyes of startled hinds thy glances, 
And in the moon thy lovely face, in peacocks' plumes thy shining 

The sportive frown upon thy brow in flowing waters' tiny ripples: 
But never in one place combined can I, alas / behold thy likeness. 

But courage, he says ; our sorrow will end at last we 
shall be re-united 

And then we will our hearts' desire, grown more intense by 

Enjoy in nights all glorioles and bright, with full-orbed autmnn 


Then begging the cloud, after delivering his message, 
to return with reassuring news, the exile finally dismisses 
him with the hope that he may never, even for a moment, 
be divided from his lightning spouse. 


Besides the expression of emotion, the descriptive 
element is very prominent in this fine poem. This is 
still more true of Kalidasa's Ritusamhdra, or "Cycle of 
the Seasons." That little work, which consists of 
153 stanzas in six cantos, and is composed in various 
metres, is a highly poetical description of the six 
seasons into which classical Sanskrit poets usually 
divide the Indian year. With glowing descriptions 
of the beauties of Nature, in which erotic scenes 
are interspersed, the poet adroitly interweaves the 
expression of human emotions. Perhaps no other work 
of Kalidasa's manifests so strikingly the poet's deep 
sympathy with Nature, his keen powers of observation, 
and his skill in depicting an Indian landscape in vivid 

The poem opens with an account of summer. If the 
glow of the sun is then too great during the day, the 
moonlit nights are all the more delightful to lovers. The 
moon, beholding the face of beauteous maidens, is beside 
itself with jealousy ; then, too, it is that the heart of the 
wanderer is burnt by the fire of separation. Next follows 
a brilliant description of the effects of the heat : the thirst 
or lethargy it produces in serpent, lion, elephant, buffalo, 
boar, gazelle, peacock, crane, frogs, and fishes ; the 
devastation caused by the forest fire which devours trees 
and shrubs, and drives before it crowds of terror-stricken 

The close heat is succeeded by the rains, which are 
announced by the approach of the dark heavy clouds 
with their banner of lightning and drum of thunder. 
Slowly they move accompanied by chdtaka birds, fabled 
to live exclusively on raindrops, till at length they dis- 
charge their water. The wild streams, like wanton girls, 


grasp in a trice the tottering trees upon their banks, as 
they rush onwards to the sea. The earth becomes 
covered with young blades of grass, and the forests clothe 
themselves with golden buds 

The mountains fill the soul with yearning thoughts of love, 
When rain-charged clouds bend down to kiss the towering rocks, 
When all around upon their slopes the streams gush down, 
And throngs of peacocks that begin to dance are seen. 

Next comes the autumn, beauteous as a newly- wedded 
bride, with face of full-blown lotuses, with robe of sugar- 
cane and ripening rice, with the cry of flamingoes repre- 
senting the tinkling of her anklets. The graceful creepers 
vie with the arms of lovely women, and the jasmine, 
showing through the crimson acoka blossoms, rivals the 
dazzling teeth and red lips of smiling maidens. 

Winter follows, when the rice ripens, while the lotus 
fades and the fields in the morning are covered with 

Then the Priyangu creeper, reaching ripeness, 

Buffeted constantly by chilling breezes, 

Grows, O Beloved, ever pale and paler, 

Like lonely ?naiden fro?n her lover parted. 

This is the time dear to lovers, whose joys the poet 
describes in glowing colours. 

In the cold season a fire and the mild rays of the 
sun are pleasant. The night does not attract lovers 
now, for the moonbeams are cold and the light of the 
stars is pale. 

The poet dwells longest on the delights of spring, the 
last of the six seasons. It is then that maidens, with 
karnikara flowers on their ears, with red aqoka blossoms 
and sprays of jasmine in their locks, go to meet their 
lovers. Then the hum of intoxicated bees is heard, and 


the note of the Indian cuckoo ; then the blossoms of the 
mango-tree are seen : these are the sharp arrows where- 
with the god of the flowery bow enflames the hearts of 
maidens to love. 

A lyric poem of a very artificial character, and con- 
sisting of only twenty-two stanzas, is the Ghata-karpara, 
or " Potsherd," called after the author's name, which is 
worked into the last verse. The date of the poet is 
unknown. He is mentioned as one of the " nine gems " 
at the court of the mythical Vikramaditya in the verse 
already mentioned. 

The Chaura-panchdqikd, or "Fifty Stanzas of the Thief," 
is a lyrical poem which contains many beauties. Its 
author was the Kashmirian Bilhana, who belongs to the 
later half of the eleventh century. According to the 
romantic tradition, this poet secretly enjoyed the love of 
a princess, and w T hen found out was condemned to death. 
He thereupon composed fifty stanzas, each beginning 
with the words " Even now I remember," in which he 
describes with glowing enthusiasm the joys of love he 
had experienced. Their effect on the king was so great 
that he forgave the poet and bestowed on him the hand 
of his daughter. 

The main bulk of the lyrical creations of mediaeval 
India are not connected poems of considerable length, 
but consist of that miniature painting which, as with a few 
strokes, depicts an amatory situation or sentiment in 
a single stanza of four lines. These lyrics are in many 
respects cognate to the sententious poetry which the 
Indians cultivated with such eminent success. Bearing 
evidence of great wealth of observation and depth 
of feeling, they are often drawn by a master-hand. 
Many of them are in matter and form gems of perfect 


beauty. Some of their charm is, however, lost in trans- 
lation owing to the impossibility of reproducing the 
elaborate metres employed in the original. Several 
Sanskrit poets composed collections of these miniature 

The most eminent of these authors is Bhartrihari, 
grammarian, philosopher, and poet in one. Only the 
literary training of India could make such a combina- 
tion possible, and even there it has hardly a parallel. 
Bhartrihari lived in the first half of the seventh century. 
The Chinese traveller I Tsing, who spent more than 
twenty years in India at the end of that century, re- 
cords that, having turned Buddhist monk, the poet 
again became a layman, and fluctuated altogether seven 
times between the monastery and the world. Bhartrihari 
blamed himself for, but could not overcome, his incon- 
stancy. He wrote three centuries of detached stanzas. 
Of the first and last, which are sententious in character, 
there will be occasion to say something later. Only 
the second, entitled (^ringdra-qataka, or "Century of 
Love," deals with erotic sentiment. Here Bhartrihari, in 
graceful and meditative verse, shows himself to be well 
acquainted both with the charms of women and with 
the arts by which they captivate the hearts of men. 
Who, he asks in one of these miniature poems, is not 
filled with yearning thoughts of love in spring, when 
the air swoons with the scent of the mango blossom 
and is filled with the hum of bees intoxicated with 
honey? In another he avers that none can resist the 
charms of lotus-eyed maidens, not even learned men, 
whose utterances about renouncing love are mere idle 
words. The poet himself laments that, when his beloved 
is away, the brightness goes out of his life 


Beside the lamp, the flaming hearth, 
In light of sun or moon and stars, 
Without my dear one's lustrous eyes 
This world is wholly dark to me. 

At the same time he warns the unwary against reflecting 
over-much on female beauty 

Let not thy thoughts, O Wanderer, 
Roam in that forest, woman's form : 
For there a robber ever lurks, 
Ready to strike the God of Love. 

In another stanza the Indian Cupid appears as a 
fisherman, who, casting on the ocean of this world a 
hook called woman, quickly catches men as fishes eager 
for the bait of ruddy lips, and bakes them in the fire of 

Strange are the contradictions in which the poet 
finds himself involved by loving a maiden 

Remembered she but causes pain ; 
At sight of her my madness grows; 
When touched, she makes my senses reel : 
How, pray, can such an one be loved? 

So towards the end of the Century the poet's heart 
begins to turn from the allurements of love. "Cease, 
maiden," he exclaims, " to cast thy glances on me : thy 
trouble is in vain. I am an altered man ; youth has 
gone by and my thoughts are bent on the forest ; my 
infatuation is over, and the whole world I now account 
but as a wisp of straw." Thus Bhartrihari prepares 
the way for his third collection, the "Century of 

A short but charming treasury of detached erotic 
verses is the Qringdra-tilaka y which tradition attributes 


to Kalidasa. In its twenty-three stanzas occur some 
highly imaginative analogies, worked out with much 
originality. In one of them, for instance, the poet asks 
how it comes that a maiden, whose features and limbs 
resemble various tender flowers, should have a heart 
of stone. In another he compares his mistress to a 

This maiden like a huntsman is; 
Her brow is like the bow he bends; 
Her sidelong glances are his darts; 
My heart's the antelope she slays. 

The most important lyrical work of this kind is the 
Amaru-cataka, or u Hundred stanzas of Amaru." The 
author is a master in the art of painting lovers in all 
their moods, bliss and dejection, anger and devotion. 
He is especially skilful in depicting the various stages 
of estrangement and reconciliation. It is remarkable 
how, with a subject so limited, in situations and emo- 
tions so similar, the poet succeeds in arresting the 
attention with surprising turns of thought, and with 
subtle touches which are ever new. The love which 
Amaru as well as other Indian lyrists portrays is not 
of the romantic and ideal, but rather of the sensuous 
type. Nevertheless his work often shows delicacy of feel- 
ing and refinement of thought. Such, for instance, is 
the case when he describes a wife watching in the 
gloaming for the return of her absent husband. 

Many lyrical gems are to be found preserved in the 
Sanskrit treatises on poetics. One such is a stanza on 
the red acoka. In this the poet asks the tree to say 
whither his mistress has gone ; it need not shake its 
head in the wind, as if to say it did not know ; for how 


could it be flowering so brilliantly had it not been 
touched by the foot of his beloved ? 1 

In all this lyrical poetry the plant and animal world 
plays an important part and is treated with much charm. 
Of flowers, the lotus is the most conspicuous. One of 
these stanzas, for example, describes the day-lotuses as 
closing their calyx-eyes in the evening, because unwilling 
to see the sun, their spouse and benefactor, sink down 
bereft of his rays. Another describes with pathetic 
beauty the dream of a bee : "The night will pass, the 
fair dawn will come, the sun will rise, the lotuses will 
laugh ; " while a bee thus mused within the calyx, an 
elephant, alas ! tore up the lotus plant. 

Various birds to which poetical myths are attached 
are frequently introduced as furnishing analogies to 
human life and love. The chdtaka y which would rather 
die of thirst than drink aught but the raindrops from 
the cloud, affords an illustration of pride. The chakora, 
supposed to imbibe the rays of the moon, affords a par- 
allel to the lover who with his eyes drinks in the beams 
of his beloved's face. The chakravaka, which, fabled to 
be condemned to nocturnal separation from his mate, 
calls to her with plaintive cry during the watches of the 
night, serves as an emblem of conjugal fidelity. 

In all this lyric poetry the bright eyes and beauty 
of Indian girls find a setting in scenes brilliant with 
blossoming trees, fragrant with flowers, gay with the 
plumage and vocal with the song of birds, diversified 
with lotus ponds steeped in tropical sunshine and with 
large-eyed gazelles reclining in the shade. Some of its 
gems are well worthy of having inspired the genius of 

1 Referring to the poetical belief that the aqolca only blossoms when 
struck by the loot of a beautiful girl. 


Heine to produce such lyrics as Die Lotosblume and 
Auf Fliigeln des Gesanges. 

A considerable amount of lyrical poetry of the same 
type has also been produced in Prakrit, especially in 
the extensive anthology entitled Saptacataka, or " Seven 
Centuries," of the poet Hala, who probably lived before 
A.D. iooo. It contains many beauties, and is altogether 
a rich treasury of popular Indian lyrical poetry. It must 
suffice here to refer to but one of the stanzas contained 
in this collection. In this little poem the moon is de- 
scribed as a white swan sailing on the pure nocturnal 
lake of the heavens, studded with starry lotuses. 
^The transitional stage between pure lyric and pure 
drama is represented by the Gltagovinda, or " Cowherd 
in Song," a lyrical drama, which, though dating from 
the twelfth century, is the earliest literary specimen of 
a primitive type of play that still survives in Bengal, 
and must have preceded the regular dramas. The 
poem contains no dialogue in the proper sense, for 
its three characters only engage in a kind of lyrical 
monologue, of which one of the other two is sup- 
posed to be an auditor, sometimes even no one at all. 
The subject of the poem is the love of Krishna for 
the beautiful cowherdess Radha, the estrangement of 
the lovers, and their final reconciliation. It is taken 
from that episode of Krishna's life in which he himself 
was a herdsman (go-vinda), living on the banks of the 
Yamuna, and enjoying to the full the love of the cow- 
herdesses. The only three characters of the poem are 
Krishna, Radha, and a confidante of the latter. 

Its author, Jayadeva, was probably a native of Ben- 
gal, having been a contemporary of a Bengal king 
named Lakshmanasena. It is probable that he took 


as his model popular plays representing incidents from 
the life of Krishna, as the modern ydtrds in Bengal still 
do. The latter festival plays even now consist chiefly 
of lyrical stanzas, partly recited and partly sung, the 
dialogue being but scanty, and to a considerable extent 
left to improvisation. On such a basis Jayadeva created 
his highly artificial poem. The great perfection of form 
he has here attained, by combining grace of diction 
with ease in handling the most difficult metres, has not 
failed to win the admiration of all who are capable of 
reading the original Sanskrit. Making abundant use 
of alliteration and the most complex rhymes occurring, 
as in the Nalodaya, not only at the end, but in the 
middle of metrical lines, 1 the poet has adapted the most 
varied and melodious measures to the expression of 
exuberant erotic emotions, with a skill which could not 
be surpassed. It seems impossible to reproduce Jaya- 
deva's verse adequately in an English garb. The German 
poet Riickert, has, however, come as near to the highly 
artificial beauty of the original, both in form and matter, 
as is feasible in any translation. 

It is somewhat strange that a poem which describes 
the transports of sensual love with all the exuberance 
of an Oriental fancy should, in the present instance, 
and not for the first time, have received an allegorical 
explanation in a mystical religious sense. According 
to Indian interpreters, the separation of Krishna and 
Radha, their seeking for each other, and their final re- 
conciliation represent the relation of the supreme deity 
to the human soul. This may possibly have been the 
intention of Jayadeva, though only as a leading idea, 
not to be followed out in detail. 

1 E.g. amala-kamala-dala-lochana bhava-mochana. 


{Circa 400-1000 A.D.) 

To the European mind the history of the Indian drama 
cannot but be a source of abundant interest ; for here 
we have an important branch of literature which has 
had a full and varied national development, quite inde- 
pendent of Western influence, and which throws much 
light on Hindu social customs during the five or six 
centuries preceding the Muhammadan conquest. 

The earliest forms of dramatic literature in India 
are represented by those hymns of the Rigveda which 
contain dialogues, such as those of Sarama and the 
Panis, Yama and Yarn!, Pururavas and UrvacI, the latter, 
indeed, being the foundation of a regular play composed 
much more than a thousand years later by the greatest 
dramatist of India. The origin of the acted drama is, 
however, wrapt in obscurity. Nevertheless, the evidence 
of tradition and of language suffice to direct us with 
considerable probability to its source. 

The words for actor (natd) and play {ndtakd) are 

derived from the verb nat, the Prakrit or vernacular 

form of the Sanskrit nrit, "to dance." The name is 

familiar to English ears in the form of nautch, the 

Indian dancing of the present day. The latter, indeed, 

probably represents the beginnings of the Indian drama. 

It must at first have consisted only of rude pantomime, 



in which the dancing movements of the body were 
accompanied by mute mimicking gestures of hand and 
face. Songs, doubtless, also early formed an ingredient 
in such performances. Thus Bharata, the name of the 
mythical inventor of the drama, which in Sanskrit also 
means "actor," in several of the vernaculars signifies 
"singer," as in the Gujarat! Bharot. The addition of 
dialogue was the last step in the development, which 
was thus much the same in India and in Greece. This 
primitive stage is represented by the Bengal ydtrds and 
the Gltagovinda. These form the transition to the fully- 
developed Sanskrit play in which lyrics and dialogue 
are blended. 

The earliest references to the acted drama are to be 
found in the Mahabhdshya y which mentions representa- 
tions of the Kamsavadhdy the " Slaying of Kamsa," and the 
Balibandhdj or "Binding of Bali," episodes in the history 
of Krishna. Indian tradition describes Bharata as having 
caused to be acted before the gods a play representing 
the svayamvara of Lakshml, wife of Vishnu. Tradition 
further makes Krishna and his cowherdesses the starting- 
point of the samglta, a representation consisting of a 
mixture of song, music, and dancing. The Gltagovinda 
is concerned with Krishna, and the modern ydtrds gener- 
ally represent scenes from the life of that deity. From 
all this it seems likely that the Indian drama was deve- 
loped in connection with the cult of Vishnu-Krishna, and 
that the earliest acted representations were therefore, 
like the mysteries of the Christian Middle Ages, a kind of 
religious plays, in which scenes from the legend of the 
god were enacted mainly with the aid of song and 
dance, supplemented with prose dialogue improvised by 
the performers. 


The drama has had a rich and varied development 
in India, as is shown not only by the numerous plays 
that have been preserved, but by the native treatises on 
poetics which contain elaborate rules for the construc- 
tion and style of plays. Thus the Sdhitya-darpaiia, or 
" Mirror of Rhetoric," divides Sanskrit dramas into two 
main classes, a higher (rupaka) and a lower (uparupaka), 
and distinguishes no fewer than ten species of the former 
and eighteen of the latter. 

The characteristic features of the Indian drama which 
strike the Western student are the entire absence of 
tragedy, the interchange of lyrical stanzas with prose 
dialogue, and the use of Sanskrit for some characters 
and of Prakrit for others. 

The Sanskrit drama is a mixed composition, in which 
joy is mingled with sorrow, in which the jester usually 
plays a prominent part, while the hero and heroine are 
often in the depths of despair. But it never has a sad 
ending. The emotions of terror, grief, or pity, with 
which the audience are inspired, are therefore always 
tranquillised by the happy termination of the story. 
Nor may any deeply tragic incident take place in the 
course of the play ; for death is never allowed to be 
represented on the stage. Indeed nothing considered 
indecorous, whether of a serious or comic character, is 
allowed to be enacted in the sight or hearing of the 
spectators, such as the utterance of a curse, degradation, 
banishment, national calamity, biting, scratching, kiss- 
ing, eating, or sleeping. 

Sanskrit plays are full of lyrical passages describing 
scenes or persons presented to view, or containing re- 
flections suggested by the incidents that occur. They 
usually consist of four-line stanzas, gakuntald contains 


nearly two hundred such, representing something like 
one half of the whole play. These lyrical passages are 
composed in a great many different metres. Thus the 
first thirty-four stanzas of ^akuntald exhibit no fewer 
than eleven varieties of verse. It is not possible, as in 
the case of the simple Vedic metres, to imitate in 
English the almost infinite resources of the complicated 
and entirely quantitative classical Sanskrit measures. 
The spirit of the lyrical passages is, therefore, probably 
best reproduced by using blank verse as the familiar 
metre of our drama. The prose of the dialogue in the 
plays is often very commonplace, serving only as an 
introduction to the lofty sentiment of the poetry that 

In accordance with their social position, the various 
characters in a Sanskrit play speak different .dialects. 
Sanskrit is employed only by heroes, kings, Brahmans, 
and men of high rank ; Prakrit by all women and by men 
of the lower orders. Distinctions are further made in 
the use of Prakrit itself. Thus women of high position 
employ Maharashtrl in lyrical passages, but otherwise 
they, as well as children and the better class of servants, 
speak Caurasenl. Magadhl is used, for instance, by 
attendants in the royal palace, Avanti by rogues or 
gamblers, Abhlrl by cowherds, Paicachi by charcoal- 
burners, and Apabhramca by the lowest and most de- 
spised people as well as barbarians. 

The Sanskrit dramatists show considerable skill in 
weaving the incidents of the plot and in the portrayal 
of individual character, but do not show much fertility 
of invention, commonly borrowing the story of their 
plays from history or epic legend. Love is the subject 
of most Indian dramas. The hero, usually a king, 


already the husband of one or more wives, is smitten 
at first sight with the charms of some fair maiden. The 
heroine, equally susceptible, at once reciprocates his 
affection, but concealing her passion, keeps her lover 
in agonies of suspense. Harassed by doubts, obstacles, 
and delays, both are reduced to a melancholy and 
emaciated condition. The somewhat doleful effect 
produced by their plight is relieved by the animated 
doings of the heroine's confidantes, but especially by 
the proceedings of the court -jester {vidushaka), the 
constant companion of the hero. He excites ridicule 
by his bodily defects no less than his clumsy interfer- 
ence with the course of the hero's affairs. His attempts 
at wit are, however, not of a high order. It is somewhat 
strange that a character occupying the position of a 
universal, butt should always be a Brahman. 

While the Indian drama shows some affinities with 
Greek comedy, it affords more striking points of resem- 
blance to the productions of the Elizabethan playwrights, 
and in particular of Shakespeare. The aim of the Indian 
dramatists is not to portray types of character, but 
individual persons ; nor do they observe the rule of 
unity of time or place. They are given to introducing 
romantic and fabulous elements ; they mix prose with 
verse ; they blend the comic with the serious, and in- 
troduce puns and comic distortions of words. The 
character of the vidushaka, too, is a close parallel to 
the fool in Shakespeare. Common to both are also 
several contrivances intended to further the action of 
the drama, such as the writing of letters, the introduc- 
tion of a play within a play, the restoration of the dead 
to life, and the use of intoxication on the stage as a 
humorous device. Such a series of coincidences, in a 



case where influence or borrowing is absolutely out of 
the question, is an instructive instance of how similar 
developments can arise independently. 

Every Sanskrit play begins with a prologue or in- 
troduction, which regularly opens with a prayer or 
benediction (ndndt) invoking the national deity in favour 
of the audience. Then generally follows a dialogue 
between the stage-manager and one or two actors, 
which refers to the play and its author, seeks to win 
public favour by paying a complimentary tribute to 
the critical acumen of the spectators, mentions past 
events and present circumstances elucidating the plot, 
and invariably ends by adroitly introducing one of the 
characters of the actual play. A Sanskrit drama is 
divided into scenes and acts. The former are marked 
by the entrance of one character and the exit of another. 
The stage is never left vacant till the end of the act, nor 
does any change of locality take place till then. Before 
a new act an interlude (called vishkambha or praveqakd), 
consisting of a monologue or dialogue, is often intro- 
duced. In this scene allusion is made to events supposed 
to have occurred in the interval, and the audience are 
prepared for what is about to take place. The whole 
piece closes with a prayer for national prosperity, which 
is addressed to the favourite deity and is spoken by one 
of the principal characters. 

The number of acts in a play varies from one to ten ; 
but, while fluctuating somewhat, is determined by the 
character of the drama. Thus the species called ndtikd 
has four acts and the farcical prahasana only one. 

The duration of the events is supposed to be identical 
with the time occupied in performing them on the stage, 
or, at most, a day ; and a night is assumed to elapse 


between each act and that which follows. Occasionally, 
however, the interval is much longer. Thus in Kalidasa's 
gakuntald and Urvacl several years pass between the first 
and the last act; while in Bhavabhuti's Uttara-rdmacharita 
no less than twelve years elapse between the first and 
the second act. 

Nor is unity of place observed ; for the scene may 
be transferred from one part of the earth to another, or 
even to the aerial regions. Change of locality sometimes 
occurs even within the same act ; as when a journey is 
supposed to be performed through the air in a celestial 
car. It is somewhat curious that while there are many 
and minute stage directions about dress and decorations 
no less than about the actions of the players, nothing is 
said in this way as to change of scene. As regards the 
number of characters appearing in a play, no limit of 
any kind is imposed. 

There were no special theatres in the Indian Middle 
Ages, and plays seem to have been performed in the 
concert-room (samglta-gdld) of royal palaces. A curtain 
divided in the middle was a necessary part of the stage 
arrangement ; it did not, however, separate the audience 
from the stage, as in the Roman theatre, but formed the 
background of the stage. Behind the curtain was the 
tiring-room (nepathyd), whence the actors came on the 
stage. When they were intended to enter hurriedly, 
they were directed to do so " with a toss of the curtain." 
The stage scenery and decorations were of a very simple 
order, much being left to the imagination of the spectator, 
as in the Shakespearian drama. Weapons, seats, thrones, 
and chariots appeared on the stage ; but it is highly im- 
probable that the latter were drawn by the living animals 
supposed to be attached to them. Owing to the very 


frequent intercourse between the inhabitants of heaven 
and earth, there may have been some kind of aerial con- 
trivance to represent celestial chariots ; but owing to 
the repeated occurrence of the stage direction " gesticu- 
lating " (ndtayitva) in this connection, it is to be supposed 
that the impression of motion and speed was produced 
on the audience simply by the gestures of the actors. 

The best productions of the Indian drama are nearly 
a dozen in number, and date from a period embracing 
something like four hundred years, from about the 
beginning of the fifth to the end of the eighth century 
a.d. These plays are the compositions of the great 
dramatists Kalidasa and Bhavabhuti, or have come 
down under the names of the royal patrons (^udraka 
and (Jrlharsha, to whom their real authors attributed 

The greatest of all is Kalidasa, already known to us 
as the author of several of the best Kavyas. Three of 
his plays have been preserved, akuntald, Vikramorvaqi, 
and Mdlavikdgnimitra. The richness of creative fancy 
which he displays in these, and his skill in the expression 
of tender feeling, assign him a high place among the 
dramatists of the world. The harmony of the poetic 
sentiment is nowhere disturbed by anything violent or 
terrifying. Every passion is softened without being 
enfeebled. The ardour of love never goes beyond 
aesthetic bounds ; it never maddens to wild jealousy or 
hate. The torments of sorrow are toned down to a 
profound and touching melancholy. It was here at 
last that the Indian genius found the law of moderation 
in poetry, which it hardly knew elsewhere, and thus 
produced works of enduring beauty. Hence it was 
that ^akuntald exercised so great a fascination on the 



calm intellect of Goethe, who at the same time was 
so strongly repelled by the extravagances of Hindu 
mythological art. 

In comparison with the Greek and the modern 
drama, Nature occupies a much more important place 
in Sanskrit plays. The characters are surrounded by 
Nature, with which they are in constant communion. 
The mango and other trees, creepers, lotuses, and pale- 
red trumpet-flowers, gazelles, flamingoes, bright-hued 
parrots, and Indian cuckoos, in the midst of which 
they move, are often addressed by them and form an 
essential part of their lives. Hence the influence of 
Nature on the minds of lovers is much dwelt on. Pro- 
minent everywhere in classical Sanskrit poetry, these 
elements of Nature luxuriate most of all in the drama. 

The finest of Kalidasa's works are, it cannot be 
denied, defective as stage-plays. The very delicacy of 
the sentiment, combined with a certain want of action, 
renders them incapable of producing a powerful effect 
on an audience. The best representatives of the 
romantic drama of India are Qakuntald and Vikramor- 
vaql. Dealing with the love adventures of two famous 
kings of ancient epic legend, they represent scenes far 
removed from reality, in which heaven and earth are not 
separated, and men, demigods, nymphs, and saints are 
intermingled. Mdlavikdgnimitra, on the other hand, 
not concerned with the heroic or divine, is a palace-and- 
harem drama, a story of contemporary love and intrigue. 

The plot of ^akuntald is derived from the first book 
of the Mahdbhdrata. The hero is Dushyanta, a celebrated 
king of ancient days, the heroine, ^akuntala, the daughter 
of a celestial nymph, Menaka, and of the sage Vicvamitra ; 
while their son, Bharata, became the founder of a famous 


race. The piece consists of seven acts, and belongs to the 
class of drama by native writers on poetics styled ndtaka, 
or " the play." In this the plot must be taken from my- 
thology or history, the characters must be heroic or 
divine ; it should be written in elaborate style, and full 
of noble sentiments, with five acts at least, and not more 
than ten. 

After the prelude, in which an actress sings a charm- 
ing lyric on the beauties of summer-time, King Dushyanta 
appears pursuing a gazelle in the sacred grove of the sage 
Kanva. Here he catches sight of (Jakuntala, who, accom- 
panied by her two maiden friends, is engaged in watering 
her favourite trees. Struck by her beauty, he exclaims 

Her lip is ruddy as an opening 1 

Her graceful arms resemble te7tder shoots : 

Attractive as the bloom upon the tree, 

The glow of youth is spread on all her limbs. 

Seizing an opportunity of addressing her, he soon feels 
that it is impossible for him to return to his capital 

My limbs move forward, while my heart flies back, 
Like silken standard borne against the breeze. 

In the second act the comic element is introduced with 
the jester Mathavya, who is as much disgusted with. his 
master's love-lorn condition as with his fondness for the 
chase. In the third act, the love-sick (Jakuntala is dis- 
covered lying on a bed of flowers in an arbour. The 
king overhears her conversation with her two friends, 
shows himself, and offers to wed the heroine. An inter- 
lude explains how a choleric ascetic, named Durvasa, 
enraged at not being greeted by (Jakuntala with due 
courtesy, owing to her pre-occupied state, had pro- 


nounced a curse which should cause her to be entirely 
forgotten by her lover, who could recognise her only by 
means of a ring. 

The king having meanwhile married (Jakuntala and 
returned home, the sage Kanva has resolved to send her 
to her husband. The way in which (^akuntala takes 
leave of the sacred grove in which she has been brought 
up, of her flowers, her gazelles, and her friends, is charm- 
ingly described in the fourth act. This is the act which 
contains the most obvious beauties ; for here the poet 
displays to the full the richness of his fancy, his abundant 
sympathy with Nature, and a profound knowledge of the 
human heart. 

A young Brahman pupil thus describes the dawning 
of the day on which (^akuntala is to leave the forest 

On yonder side the moon, the Lord of Plants, 
Sinks down behind the western mountain's crest ; 
On this, the sun preceded by the dawn 
Appears : the setting and the rise at once 
Of these two orbs the symbols are of man's 
Own fluctuating fortunes in the world. 

Then he continues 

The moon has gone; the lilies on the lake, 
t Whose beauty lingers in the memory, 

No more delight my gaze : they droop and fade; 
Deep is their sorrow for their absent lord. 

The aged hermit of the grove thus expresses his 
feelings at the approaching loss of Cakuntala 

My heart is touched with sadness at the thought 
" (^akuntala must go to-day" ; my throat 
Is choked with flow of tears repressed; my si<rht 
Is dimmed with pensiveness ; but if the grief 


Of an old forest hermit is so great, 
How keen must be the pang a father feels 
When freshly parted from a cherished child / 

Then calling on the trees to give her a kindly fare- 
well, he exclaims 

The trees, the kins?nen of her forest home, 
Now to Cakuntala give leave to go : 
They with the Kokilds melodious cry 
Their answer make. 

Thereupon the following good wishes are uttered by 
voices in the air 

Thy journey be auspicious ; may the breeze, 
Gentle a?id soothing, fan thy cheek; may lakes 
A II bright with lily cups delight thine eye; 
The sunbeams' heat be cooled by shady trees; 
The dust beneath thy feet the pollen be 
Of lotuses. 

The fifth act, in which (Jakuntala appears before her 
husband, is deeply moving. The king fails to recognise 
her, and, though treating her not unkindly, refuses to 
acknowledge her as his wife. As a last resource, Cakun- 
tala bethinks herself of the ring given her by her husband, 
but on discovering that it is lost, abandons hope. She is 
then borne off to heaven by celestial agency. 

In the following interlude we see a fisherman dragged 
along by constables for having in his possession the royal 
signet-ring, which he professes to have found inside a fish. 
The king, however, causes him to be set free, rewarding 
him handsomely for his find. Recollection of his former 
love now returns to Dushyanta. While he is indulging 
in sorrow at his repudiation of Cakuntala, Matali, India's 
charioteer, appears on the scene to ask the king's aid in 
vanquishing the demons. 


In the last act Dushyanta is seen driving in Indra's 
car to Hemakuta, the mountain of the Gandharvas. 
Here he sees a young boy playing with a lion cub. 
Taking his hand, without knowing him to be his own 
son, he exclaims 

If ?iow the touch of but a stranger's child 
Thus sends a thrill of joy through all my limbs, 
What tra?isports must he waken in the soul 
Of that blest father from whose loins he sprang! 

Soon after he finds and recognises (Jakuntala, with 
whom he is at length happily reunited. 

Kalidasa's play has come down to us in two main 
recensions. The so-called Devanagarl one, shorter and 
more concise, is probably the older and better. The 
more diffuse Bengal recension became known first 
through the translation of Sir William Jones. 

Vikramorvaci, or " UrvacI won by Valour," is a play 
in five acts, belonging to the class called Trotaka, which 
is described as representing events partly terrestrial and 
partly celestial, and as consisting of five, seven, eight, or 
nine acts. Its plot is briefly as follows. King Purura- 
vas, hearing from nymphs that their companion, UrvacI, 
has been carried off by demons, goes to the rescue and 
brings her back on his car. He is enraptured by the 
beauty of the nymph, no less than she is captivated by 
her deliverer. UrvacI being summoned before the 
throne of Indra, the lovers are soon obliged to part. 

In the second act UrvacI appears for a short time to 
the king as he disconsolately wanders in the garden. A 
letter, in which she had written a confession of her love, 
is discovered by the queen, who refuses to be pacified. 

In the third act we learn that UrvacI had been 
acting before Indra in a play representing the betrothal 


of Lakshml, and had, when asked on whom her heart 
was set, named Pururavas instead of Purushottama (i.e. 
Vishnu). She is consequently cursed by her teacher, 
Bharata, but is forgiven by Indra, who allows her to 
be united with Pururavas till the latter sees his offspring. 
The fourth act is peculiar in being almost entirely 
lyrical. The lovers are wandering near Kailasa, the 
divine mountain, when UrvacI, in a fit of jealousy, enters 
the grove of Kumara, god of war, which is forbidden to all 
females. In consequence of Bharata's curse, she is in- 
stantly transformed into a creeper. The king, beside 
himself with grief at her loss, seeks her everywhere. 
He apostrophises various insects, birds, beasts, and even 
a mountain peak, to tell him where she is. At last he 
thinks he sees her in the mountain stream : 

The rippling wave is like her frown; the row 
Of tossing birds her girdle ; streaks of foam 
, Her fluttering garment as she speeds along j 

The current, her devious and stumbliiig gait : * 
' Tis she turned in her wrath into a stream. 

Finally, under the influence of a magic stone, which has 
come into his possession, he clasps a creeper, which is 
transformed into UrvacI in his arms. 

Between the fourth and fifth acts several years elapse. 
Then Pururavas, by accident, discovers his son Ayus, 
whom UrvacI had secretly borne, and had caused to be 
brought up in a hermitage. UrvacI must therefore return 
to heaven. Indra, however, in return for Pururavas' 
services against the demons, makes a new concession, 
and allows the nymph to remain with the king for good. 

There are two recensions of this play also, one of 
them belonging to Southern India. 

The doubts long entertained, on the ground of its 


inferiority and different character, astowhether Malavik- 
dgnimitra y or " Malavika and Agnimitra," is really the 
work of Kalidasa, who is mentioned in the prologue as 
the author, are hardly justified. The piece has been 
shown by Weber to agree pretty closely in thought and 
diction with the two other plays of the poet ; and though 
certainly not equal to' the latter in poetic merit, it pos- 
sesses many beauties. The subject is not heroic or 
divine, the plot being derived from the ordinary palace 
life of Indian princes, and thus supplying a peculiarly 
good picture of the social conditions of the times. The 
hero is a historical king of the dynasty of the (Jungas, 
who reigned at Vidica (Bhilsa) in the second century B.C. 
The play describes the loves of this king Agnimitra and 
of Malavika, one of the attendants of the queen, who 
jealously keeps her out of the king's sight on account of 
her great beauty. The various endeavours of the king 
to see and converse with Malavika give rise to numerous 
little intrigues. In the course of these Agnimitra nowhere 
appears as a despot, but acts with much delicate consider- 
ation for the feelings of his spouses. It finally turns out 
that Malavika is by birth a princess, who had only come 
to be an attendant at Agnimitra's court through having 
fallen into the hands of robbers. There being now no 
objection to her union with the king, all ends happily. 

While Kalidasa stands highest in poetical refinement, 
in tenderness, and depth of feeling, the author of the 
Mricchakatikd, or "Clay Cart," is pre-eminent among 
Indian playwrights for the distinctively dramatic quali- 
ties of vigour, life, and action, no less than sharpness of 
characterisation, being thus allied in genius to Shake- 
speare. This play is also marked by originality and good 
sense. Attributed to a king named (Judraka, who is 


panegyrised in the prologue, it is probably the work 
of a poet patronised by him, perhaps Dandin, as Pro- 
fessor Pischel thinks. In any case, it not improbably 
belongs to the sixth century. It is divided into ten acts, 
and belongs to the dramatic class called prakarana. The 
name has little to do with the play, being derived from 
an unimportant episode of the sixth act. The scene is 
laid in UjjayinI and its neighbourhood. The number of 
characters appearing on the stage is very considerable. 
The chief among them are Charudatta, a Brahman 
merchant who has lost all his property by excessive 
liberality, and Vasantasena, a rich courtesan who loves 
the poor but noble Charudatta, and ultimately becomes 
his wife. The third act contains a humorous account of 
a burglary, in which stealing is treated as a fine art. In 
the fourth act there is a detailed description of the 
splendours of Vasantasena's palace. Though containing 
much exaggeration, it furnishes an interesting picture of 
the kind of luxury that prevailed in those days. Alto- 
gether this play abounds in comic situations, besides 
containing many serious scenes, some of which even 
border on the tragic. 

To the first half of the seventh century belong the two 
dramas attributed to the famous King (Jrlharsha or Har- 
shadeva, a patron of poets, whom we already know as 
Harshavardhana of Thanecar and Kanauj. Ratnavali y or 
H The Pearl Necklace," reflecting the court and harem life 
of the age, has many points of similarity with Kalidasa's 
Mdiavikdgnimitra, by which, indeed, its plot was probably 
suggested. It is the story of the loves of Udayana, king 
of Vatsa, and of Sagarika, an attendant of his queen 
Vasavadatta. The heroine ultimately turns out to be 
Ratnavall, princess of Ceylon, who had found her way to 


Udayana's court after suffering shipwreck. The plot is 
unconnected with mythology, but is based on an historical 
or epic tradition, which recurs in a somewhat different 
form in Somadeva's Kathdsaritsdgara. As concerned 
with the second marriage of the king, it forms a sequel to 
the popular love-story of Vasavadatta. It is impossible 
to say whether the poet modified the main outlines of the 
traditional story, but the character of the magician who 
conjures up a vision of the gods and a conflagration, is 
his invention, as well as the incidents, which are of an 
entirely domestic nature. The real author was doubtless 
some poet resident at (Jrlharsha's court, possibly Bana, 
who also wrote a play entitled Pdrvatipaririaya. 

Altogether, Ratndvall is an agreeable play, with well- 
drawn characters and many poetical beauties. Of the 
latter the following lines, in which the king describes the 
pale light in the east heralding the rise of the moon, may 
serve as a specimen : 

Our minds intent upon the festival, 
We saw not that the twilight passed away : 
Behold, the east proclaims the lord of night 
Still hidden by the mountain where he rises, 
Even as a maiden by her pale face shows 
That in her inmost heart a lover dwells. 

Another play of considerable merit attributed to 
(Jnharsha is Ndgdnanda. It is a sensational piece with 
a Buddhistic colouring, the hero being a Buddhist and 
Buddha being praised in the introductory benediction. 
For this reason its author was probably different from 
that of Ratndvaliy and may have been Dhavaka,who, like 
Bana, is known to have lived at the court of Crlharsha. 

The dramatist Bhavabhuti was a Brahman of the 
Taittirlya school of the Yajurveda and belonged, as we 



learn from his prologues, to Vidarbha (now Berar) in 
Southern India. He knew the city of UjjayinI well, and 
probably spent at least a part of his life there. His patron 
was King Yacovarman of Kanyakijbja (Kanauj), who 
ruled during the first half of the eighth century. 

Three plays by this poet, all abounding in poetic 
beauties, have come down to us. They contrast in two 
or three respects with the works of the earlier dramatists. 
The absence of the character of the jester is characteristic 
of them, the comic and witty element entering into them 
only to a slight extent. While other Indian poets dwell 
on the delicate and mild beauties of Nature, Bhavabhuti 
loves to depict her grand and sublime aspects, doubtless 
owing to the influence on his mind of the southern 
mountains of his native land. He is, moreover, skilful 
not only in drawing characters inspired by tender and 
noble sentiment, but in giving effective expression to 
depth and force of passion. 

The best known and most popular of Bhavabhuti's 
plays is Mdlati-mddhava, a prakarana in ten acts. The 
scene is laid in UjjayinI, and the subject is the love-story 
of MalatI, daughter of a minister of the country, and 
Madhava, a young scholar studying in the city, and son 
of the minister of another state. Skilfully interwoven 
with this main story are the fortunes of Makaranda, a 
friend of Madhava, and Madayantika, a sister of the 
king's favourite. MalatI and Madhava meet and fall in 
love ; but the king has determined that the heroine shall 
marry his favourite, whom she detests. This plan is 
frustrated by Makaranda, who, personating MalatI, goes 
through the wedding ceremony with the bridegroom. 
The lovers, aided in their projects by two amiable 
Buddhist nuns, are finally united. The piece is a sort of 


Indian Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending, the part 
played by the nun Kamandakl being analogous to that 
of Friar Laurence in Shakespeare's drama. The con- 
trast produced by scenes of tender love, and the horrible 
doings of the priestess of the dread goddess Durga, is 
certainly effective, but perhaps too violent. The use 
made of swoons, from which the recovery is, however, 
very rapid, is rather too common in this play. 

The ninth act contains several fine passages describing 
the scenery of the Vindhya range. The following is a 
translation of one of them : 

This mountain with its towering rocks delights 

The eye : its peaks grow dark with gatheritig clouds ; 

Its groves are thronged with peacocks eloquent 

In joy j the trees upon its slopes are bright 

With birds that flit about their nests ; the caves 

Reverberate the growl of bears j the scent 

Of incense-trees is wafted, sharp and cool, 

From branches broken off by elephants. 

The other two dramas of Bhavabhuti represent the 
fortunes of the same national hero, Rama. The plot of 
the Mahdvira-charita y or "The Fortunes of the Great 
Hero," varies but slightly from the story told in the 
Rdmdyana. The play, which is divided into seven acts 
and is crowded with characters, concludes with the coro- 
nation of Rama. The last act illustrates well how much 
is left to the imagination of the spectator. It represents 
the journey of Rama in an aerial car from Ceylon all the 
way to Ayodhya (Oudh) in Northern India, the scenes 
traversed being described by one of the company. 

The Uttara-rdma-charita y or "The Later Fortunes of 
Rama/' is a romantic piece containing many fine pas- 
sages. Owing to lack of action, however, it is rather a 


dramatic poem than a play. The description of the 
tender love of Rama and Slta, purified by sorrow, 
exhibits more genuine pathos than appears perhaps 
in any other Indian drama. The play begins with 
the banishment of Slta and ends with her restoration, 
after twelve years of grievous solitude, to the throne 
of Ayodhya amid popular acclamations > Her two sons, 
born after her banishment and reared in the wilderness 
by the sage Valmlki, without any knowledge of their 
royal descent, furnish a striking parallel to the two 
princes Guiderius and Arviragus who are brought up by 
the hermit Belarius in Shakespeare's Cymbeline. The 
scene in which their meeting with their father Rama is 
described reaches a high degree of poetic merit. 

Among the works of other dramatists, VigAKHADATTA's 
Mudrd-rdkshasa y or " Rakshasa and. the Seal," deserves 
special mention because of its unique character. For, 
unlike all the other dramas hitherto described, it-is a play 
of political intrigue, composed, moreover, with much 
dramatic talent, being full of life, action, and sustained 
interest. Nothing more definite can be said as to its 
date than that it was probably written not later than 
about 800 a.d. The action of the piece takes place 
in the time of Chandragupta, who, soon after Alex- 
ander's invasion of India, founded a new dynasty at 
Pataliputra by deposing the last king of the Nanda line. 
Rakshasa, the minister of the latter, refusing to recog- 
nise the usurper, endeavours to be avenged on him for 
the ruin of his late master. The plot turns on the efforts 
of the Brahman Chanakya, the minister of Chandra- 
gupta, to win over the noble Rakshasa to his master's 
cause. In this he is ultimately successful. 

Bhatta Naray ANA'S Venlsamhdra, or "Binding of the 


braid of hair/' is a play in six acts, deriving its plot from 
the Mahdbhdrata. Its action turns on the incident of 
Draupadl being dragge4 by the hair of her head into the 
assembly by one of the brothers of Duryodhana. Its age 
is known from its author having been the grantee of a 
copperplate dated 840 A.D. Though not conspicuous for 
poetic merit, it has long been a great favourite in India 
owing to its express partiality for the cult of Krishna. 

To about 900 A.D. belongs the poet Raja^ekhara, the 
distinguishing feature of whose dramas are lightness 
and grace of diction. Four of his plays have survived, 
and are entitled Viddha-qdlabhanjikd, Karpura-manjari, 
Bdla-rdmdyana y and Prachanda-pdndava or Bdla-bhdrata. 

The poet Kshemicvara, who probably lived in the 
tenth century A.D. at Kanyakubja under King Mahlpala, 
is the author of a play named Chandakauqika, or "The 
Angry Kaucika." 

In the eleventh century Damodara Mi^ra composed 
the Hanuman-ndtaka, "The Play of Hanumat," also 
called Mahd-ndtaka y or "The Great Play." According 
to tradition, he lived at the court of Bhoja, king of 
Malava, who resided at Dhara (now Dhar) and UjjayinI 
(Ujjain) in the early part of the eleventh century. It is a 
piece of little merit, dealing with the story of Rama in 
connection with his ally Hanumat, the monkey chief. 
It consists of fourteen acts, lacking coherence, and pro- 
ducing the impression of fragments patched together. 

KRISHNA Mi^RA's Prabodha-chandrodaya, or " Rise of 
the Moon of Knowledge," a play in six acts, dating from 
about the end of the eleventh century, deserves special 
attention as one of the most remarkable products of 
Indian literature. Though an allegorical piece of theo- 
logico-philosophical purport, in which practically only 


abstract notions and symbolical figures act as persons, 
it is remarkable for dramatic life and vigour. It aims at 
glorifying orthodox Brahmanism in the Vishnuite sense, 
just as the allegorical plays of the Spanish poet Calderon 
were intended to exalt the Catholic faith. The Indian 
poet has succeeded in the difficult task of creating an 
attractive play with abstractions like Revelation, Will, 
Reason, Religion, by transforming them into living 
beings of flesh and blood. The evil King Error appears 
on the scene as ruler of Benares, surrounded by his 
faithful adherents, the Follies and Vices, while Religion 
and the noble King Reason, accompanied by all the 
Virtues, have been banished. There is, however, a 
prophecy that Reason will some day be re-united with 
Revelation ; the fruit of the union will be True Know- 
ledge, which will destroy the reign of Error. The 
struggle for this union and its consummation, followed 
by the final triumph of the good party, forms the plot of 
the piece. 

A large number of Sanskrit plays have been written 
since the twelfth century x down to modern times, their 
plots being generally derived from the Mahabhdrata and 
the Rdmdyana. Besides these, there are farces in one or 
more acts, mostly of a coarse type, in which various 
vices, such as hypocrisy, are satirised. These later pro- 
ductions reach a much lower level of art than the works 
of the early Indian dramatists, 

1 It is interesting to note that two Sanskrit plays, composed in the twelfth 
century, and not as yet known in manuscript form, have been partially pre- 
served in inscriptions found at Ajmere (see Kielhorn, in Appendix to Epi- 
graphia Indica, vol. v. p. 20, No. 134. Calcutta, 1899). 



{Circa 400-1100 A.D.) 

The didactic and sententious note which prevails in 
classical Sanskrit literature cannot fail to strike the 
student. It is, however, specially pronounced in the 
fairy tales and fables, where the abundant introduction 
of ethical reflections and proverbial philosophy is char- 
acteristic. The apologue with its moral is peculiarly 
subject to this method of treatment. 

A distinguishing feature of the Sanskrit collections 
of fairy tales and fables, which are to a considerable 
extent found mixed together/js the insertion of a num- 
ber of different stories within the framework of a single 
narrative.) The characters of the main story in turn 
relate various tales to edify one another or to prove 
the correctness of their own special views. As within 
the limits of a minor story a second one can be simi- 
larly introduced and the process further repeated, the 
construction of the whole work comes to resemble that 
of a set of Chinese boxes. This style of narration was 
borrowed from India by the neighbouring Oriental 
peoples of Persia and Arabia, who employed it in com- 
posing independent works. The most notable instance 
is, of course, the Arabian Nights. 

The Panchatantra, so called because it is divided 



into five books, is, from the literary point of view, the 
most important and interesting work in this branch of 
Indian literature. It consists for the most part of 
fables, which are written in prose with an admixture 
of illustrative aphoristic verse. At what time this col- 
lection first assumed definite shape, it is impossible to 
say. We know, however, that it existed in the first 
half of the sixth century A.D., since it was translated by 
order of King Khosru Anushlrvan (531-79) into Pehlevi, 
the literary language of Persia at that time. We may, 
indeed, assume that it was known in the fifth century ; 
for a considerable time must have elapsed before it be- 
came so famous that a foreign king desired its translation. 
If not actually a Buddhistic work, the Panchatantra 
must be derived from Buddhistic sources. This follows 
from the fact that a number of its fables can be traced 
to Buddhistic writings, and from the internal evidence 
of the book itself. Apologues and fables were current 
among the Buddhists from the earliest times. They 
were ascribed to Buddha, and their sanctity increased 
by identifying the best character in any story with 
Buddha himself in a previous birth. Hence such tales 
were called Jatakas, or M Birth Stories." There is evi- 
dence that a collection of stories under that name existed 
as early as the Council of Vesall, about 380 B.C. ; and 
in the fifth century A.D. they assumed the shape they 
now have in the Pali Sutta-pitaka. Moreover, two 
Chinese encylopasdias, the older of which was com- 
pleted in 668 A.D., contain a large number of Indian 
fables translated into Chinese, and cite no fewer than 
202 Buddhist works as their sources. In its present 
form, however, the Panchatantra is the production of 
Brahmans, who, though they transformed or omitted 


such parts as betrayed animus against Brahmanism, 
have nevertheless left uneffaced many traces of the Bud- 
dhistic origin of the collection. Though now divided 
into only five books, it is shown by the evidence of 
the oldest translation to have at one time embraced 
twelve. What its original name was we cannot say, 
but it may not improbably have been called after the 
two jackals, Karataka and Damanaka, who play a pro- 
minent part in the first book ; for the title of the old 
Syriac version is Kalilag and Damnag, and that of the 
Arabic translation Kalllah and Dimnah, 

^Originally the Panchatantra was probably intended 
to be a manual for the instruction of the sons of kings 
in the principles of conduct {nzti), a kind of " Mirror 
of Princes." For it is introduced with the story of 
King AmaraCakti of Mahilaropya, a city of the south, 
who wishes to discover a scholar capable of training 
his three stupid and idle sons. He at last finds a 
Brahman who undertakes to teach the princes in six 
months enough to make them surpass all others in 
knowledge of moral science. This object he duly ac- 
complishes by composing the Panchatanfra and reciting 
\ it to the young princes. 

The framework of the first book, entitled u Se para- 

\ tion of Friends," is the story of a bull and a lion, who 
are introduced to one another in the forest by two 
jackals and become fast friends. One of the jackals, 
feeling himsetf neglected, starts an intrigue by telling 
both the lion and the bull that each is plotting against 
the other. As a result the bull is killed in battle with 
the lion, and the jackal, as prime minister of the latter, 
enjoys the fruits of his machinations. The main story 

*) of the second book, which is called "Acquisition 



of Friends," deals with the adventures of a tortoise, a 
deer, a cfOW, and a mouse. It is meant to illustrate the 
advantages of judicious friendships. The third book, or 
" The War of the Crows and the Owl s," points out the 
danger of friendship concluded between those who are 
old enemies. The fourth book, entitled " Loss of what 
h as been Acquired ," illustrates, by the main story of the 
monkey and the crocodile, how fools can be made by 
flattery to part with their possessions. The fifth book, 
entitled " Inconsiderate Action," contains a number of 
stories connected with the experiences of a barber, who 
came to grief through failing to take all the circumstances 
of the case into consideration. 

The book is pervaded by a quaint humour which 
transfers, to the animal kingdom all sorts of human 
action. (Thus animals devote themselves to the study 
of the Vedas and to the practice of religious rites ; they 
engage in disquisitions about gods, saints, and heroes ; 
or exchange views regarding subtle rules of ethics ; but 
suddenly their fierce animal nature breaks outN A pious |l * 
cat, for instance, called upon to act as umpire in a 
dispute between a sparrow and a monkey, inspires such 
confidence in the litigants, by a long discourse on the 
vanity of life and the supreme importance of virtue, 
that they come close up in order to hear better the 
words of wisdom. In an instant he seizes one of the 
disputants with his claws, the other with his teeth, and 
devours them both. Very humorous is the story of 
the conceited musical donkey. Trespassing one moon- 
light night in a cucumber field, he feels impelled to sing, 
and answers the objections of his friend the jackal by a 
lecture on the charms of music. He then begins to bray, 
arouses the watchmen, and receives a sound drubbing. 


With abundant irony and satire the most various 
human vices are exposed, among others the hypocrisy 
and avarice of Brahmans, the intriguing character of 
courtiers, and the faithlessness of women. A vigorous 
popular spirit of reaction against Brahman pretensions 
here finds expression, and altogether a sound and healthy 
view of life prevails, forming a refreshing contrast to 
the exaggeration found in many branches of Indian 

The following translation of a short fable from the 
first book may serve as a specimen of the style of the 

"There was in a certain forest region a herd of 
monkeys. Once in the winter season, when their bodies 
were shivering from contact with the cold wind, and 
were buffeted with torrents of rain, they could find no 
rest. So some of the monkeys, collecting gunja berries, 
which are like sparks, stood round blowing in order 
to obtain a fire. Now a bird named Needlebeak, 
seeing this vain endeavour of theirs, exclaimed, l Ho, 
you are all great fools ; these are not sparks of fire, 
they are gunja berries. Why, therefore, this vain en- 
deavour ? You will never protect yourselves against 
the cold in this way. You had better look for a spot 
in the forest which is sheltered from the wind, or a 
cave, or a cleft in the mountains. Even now mighty 
rain clouds are appearing/ Thereupon an old monkey 
among them said, l Ho, what business of yours is this ? 
Be off. There is a saying 

A man of judgment who desires 
His own success should not accost 
One constantly disturbed in work 
Or gamblers who have lost at flay. 


And another 

Who joins in conversation with 
A hunter who has chased in vain, 
Or with a fool who has become 
Involved in ruin, co?nes to grief. 

" The bird, however, without paying any attention to 
him, continually said to the monkeys, ' Ho, why this 
vain endeavour ? ' So, as he did not for a moment cease 
to chatter, one of the monkeys, enraged at their futile 
efforts, seized him by the wings and dashed him against 
a stone. And so he (de)ceased. 

u Hence I say 

Unbending wood cannot be bent, 
A razor cannot cut a stone: 
Mark this, O Needlebeak ! Try not 
To lecture him who will not learn" 

(k similar collection of fables is the celebrated Hito- 
paaeca, or "Salutary Advice, j which, owing to its intrinsic 
merit, is one of the best known and most popular works 
of Sanskrit literature in India, and which, because of its 
suitability for teaching purposes, is read by nearly all 
beginners of Sanskrit in England. It is based chiefly on 
the Panchatantra, in which twenty-five of its forty-three 
fables are found. The first three books of the older col- 
lection have been, in the main, drawn upon ; for there is 
but one story, that of the ass in the tiger's skin, taken 
from Book IV., and only three from Book V. The intro- 
duction is similar to that of the Panchatantra, but the 
father of the ignorant and vicious princes is here called 
Sudarcana of Pataliputra (Patna). The Hitopadeca is 
divided into four books. The framework and titles of 
the first two agree with the first two of the Panchatantra, 
bat in inverted order. (The third and fourth books are 


called "War" and " Peace" respectively, the main story 
describing the conflict and reconciliation of the Geese 
and the Peacocks. 

The sententious element is here much more pro- 
minent than in the Panchatantra y and the number of 
verses introduced is often so great as to seriously impede 
the progress of the prose narrative. These verses, how- 
ever, abound in wise maxims and fine thoughts. The 
stanzas dealing with the transitoriness of human life 
near the end of Book IV. have a peculiarly pensive 
beauty of their own. The following two may serve as 
specimens : 

As on the mighty ocean's waves 
Two floating logs together come. 
And, having met, for ever part : 
So briefly joined are living things. 

As streams of rivers onward flow, 
And never more return again : 
So day and night still bear away 
The life oj every mortal man. 

It is uncertain who was the author of the Hitopadeqa ; 
nor can anything more definite be said about the date of 
this compilation than that it is more than 500 years old, 
as the earliest known MS. of it was written in 1373 A.D. 

As both the Panchatantra and the Hitopadega were 
originally intended as manuals for the instruction of 
kings in domestic and foreign policy, they belong to 
the class of literature which the Hindus call nlti-c-dstra, 
or " Science of Political Ethics." A purely metrical 
treatise, dealing directly with the principles of policy, 
is the Niti-sara, or " Essence of Conduct," of Kaman- 
daka, which is one of the sources of the maxims intro- 
duced by the author of the Hitopadeqa, 


A collection of pretty and ingenious fairy tales, with 
a highly Oriental colouring, is the Vetala-panchavimcati *, 
or " Twenty-five Tales of the Vetala " (a demon supposed 
to occupy corpses). The framework of Jthis collection is 
briefly as follows. King Vikrama of UjjayinI is directed 
by an ascetic (yogin) to take down from a tree and convey 
a corpse, without uttering a single word, to a spot in 
a graveyard where certain rites for the attainment of 
high magical powers are to take place. As the king is 
carrying the corpse along on his shoulders, a Vetala, 
which has entered it, begins to speak and tells him a 
fairy tale. On the king inadvertently replying to a 
question, the corpse at once disappears and is found 
hanging on the tree again. The king goes back to fetch 
it, and the same process is repeated till the Vetala has 
told twenty-five tales. Each of these is so constructed 
as to end in a subtle problem, on which the king is 
asked to express his opinion. The stories contained in 
this work are known to many English readers under the 
title of Vikram and the Vampire. 

Another collection of fairy tales is the Simhdsana- 
dvatrimcikdy or "Thirty-two Stories of the Lion-seat " {i.e. 
throne), which also goes by the name of Vikrama-charita y 
or " Adventures of Vikrama." Here it is the throne of 
King Vikrama that tells the tales. Both this and the 
preceding collection are of Buddhistic origin. 

A third work of the same kind is the uka-saptati y or 
"Seventy Stories of a Parrot." Here a wife, whose 
husband is travelling abroad, and who is inclined to 
run after other men, turns to her husband's clever 
parrot for advice. The bird, while seeming to approve 
of her plans, warns her of the risks she runs, and makes 
her promise not to go and meet any paramour unless 


she can extricate herself from difficulties as So-and-so 
did. Requested to tell the story, he does so, but only 
as far as the dilemma, when he asks the woman what 
course the person concerned should take. As she can- 
not guess, the parrot promises to tell her if she stays 
at home that night. Seventy days pass in the same 
way, till the husband returns. 

These three collections of fairy tales are all written 
in prose and are comparatively short. There is, how- 
ever, another of special importance, which is composed 
in verse and is of very considerable length. For it con- 
tains no less than 22,000 qlokas, equal to nearly one- 
fourth of the Mahdbhdrata, or to almost twice as much 
as the Iliad and Odyssey put together. This is the 
Kathd-sarit-sdgara, or " Ocean of Rivers of Stories." It 
is divided into 124 chapters, called tarangas, or " waves," 
to be in keeping with the title of the work. Independent 
of these is another division into eighteen books called 

The author was Somadeva, a Kashmirian poet, who 
composed his work about 1070 A.D. Though he himself 
was a Brahman, his work contains not only many traces 
of the Buddhistic character of his sources, but even direct 
allusions to Buddhist Birth Stories. He states the real 
basis of his work to have been the Brihat-kathd, or " Great 
Narration," which Bana mentions, by the poet Gunadhya, 
who is quoted by Dandin. This original must, in the 
opinion of Biihler, go back to the first or second cen- 
tury A.D. 

A somewhat earlier recast of this work was made 
about A.D. 1037 by a contemporary of Somadeva's named 
Kshemendra Vyasadasa. It is entitled Brihat-kathd- 
manjari, and is only about one-third as long as the Kathd- 



sarit-sdgara. Kshemendra and Somadeva worked inde- 
pendently of each other, and both state that the original 
from which they translated was written in the pai$achi 
bhdshd or " Goblin language/' a term applied to a number 
of Low Prakrit dialects spoken by the most ignorant and 
degraded classes. The Kathd-sarit-sdgara also contains 
( Tarangas 60-64) a recast of the first three books of the 
Panchatantra y which books, it is interesting to find, had 
the same form in Somadeva's time as when they were 
translated into Pehlevi (about 570 A.D.). 

Somadeva's work contains many most entertaining 
stories ; for instance, that of the king who, through 
ignorance of the phonetic rules of Sanskrit grammar, 
misunderstood a remark made by his wife, and over- 
come with shame, determined to become a good Sanskrit 
scholar or die in the attempt. One of the most famous 
tales it contains is that of King (Jibi, who offered up his 
life to save a pigeon from a hawk. It is a Jdtaka y and is 
often represented on Buddhist sculptures ; for example, 
on the tope of AmaravatI, which dates from about the 
beginning of our era. It also occurs in a Chinese as 
well as a Muhammadan form. 

Ethical Poetry. 

The proneness of the Indian mind to reflection not 
only produced important results in religion, philosophy, 
and science ; it also found a more abundant expression 
in poetry than the literature of any other nation can 
boast. Scattered throughout the most various depart- 
ments of Sanskrit literature are innumerable apophthegms 
in which wise and noble, striking and original thoughts 
often appear in a highly finished and poetical garb. 


These are plentiful in the law-books ; in the epic and 
the drama they are frequently on the lips of heroes, sages, 
and gods ; and in fables are constantly uttered by tigers, 
jackals, cats, and other animals. Above all, the Mahd- 
bhdrata, which, to the pious Hindu, constitutes a moral 
encyclopaedia, is an inexhaustible mine of proverbial 
philosophy. It is, however, natural that ethical maxims 
should be introduced in greatest abundance into works 
which, like the Panchatantra and Hitopadeca, were in- 
tended to be handbooks of practical moral philosophy. 

Owing to the universality of this mode of expression 
in Sanskrit literature, there are but few works consisting 
exclusively of poetical aphorisms. The most important 
are the two collections by the highly-gifted Bhartrihari, 
entitled respectively Niticataka, or " Century of Con- 
duct," and Vairdgya-cataka, or " Century of Renuncia- 
tion." Others are the Qdnti-cataka y or "Century of 
Tranquillity," by a Kashmirian poet named ^ilhana ; the 
Moha-mudgara y or " Hammer of Folly," a short poem 
commending the relinquishment of worldly desires, and 
wrongly attributed to (^ankaracharya ; and the Chdnakya- 
cataka, the " Centuries of Chanakya," the reputed author 
of which was famous in India as a master of diplomacy, 
and is the leading character in the political drama Mudrd- 
rdkshasa. The Niti-manjari y or " Cluster of Blossoms of 
Conduct," which has not yet been published, is a collec- 
tion of a peculiar kind. The moral maxims which it 
contains are illustrated by stories, and these are taken 
exclusively from the Rigveda. It consists of about 200 
clokas, and was composed by an author named Dya Dvi- 
veda who accompanied his work with a commentary. In 
the latter he quotes largely from the Brihaddevatd, Sayana 
on the Rigveda, and other authors. 


There are also some modern anthologies of Sanskrit 
gnomic poetry. One of these is (Jrldharadasa's Sadukti- 
karndmrita y or " Ear-nectar of Good Maxims/' containing 
quotations from 446 poets, mostly of Bengal, and com- 
piled in 1205 A.D. The (^drngadhara-paddhati, or "An- 
thology of (Jarngadhara," dating from the fourteenth 
century, comprises about 6000 stanzas culled from 264 
authors. The Subhdshiidvall, or " Series of Fine Sayings," 
compiled by Vallabhadeva, contains some 3500 stanzas 
taken from about 350 poets. All that is best in Sanskrit 
sententious poetry has been collected by Dr. Bohtlingk, 
the Nestor of Indianists, in his Indische Spruche. This 
work contains the text, critically edited and accompanied 
by a prose German translation, of nearly 8000 stanzas, 
which are culled from the whole field of classical Sanskrit 
literature and arranged according to the alphabetical 
order of the initial word. 

Though composed in Pali, the Dhammapada may 
perhaps be mentioned here. It is a collection of 
aphorisms representing the most beautiful, profound, 
and poetical thoughts in Buddhist literature. 

The keynote prevailing in all this poetry is the doctrine 
of the vanity of human life, which was developed before 
the rise of Buddhism in the sixth century B.C., and has 
dominated Indian thought ever since. There is no true 
happiness, we are here taught, but in the abandonment 
of desire and retirement from the world. The poet sees 
the luxuriant beauties of nature spread before his eyes, 
and feels their charm ; but he turns from them sad and 
disappointed to seek mental calm and lasting happiness 
in the solitude of the forest. Hence the picture of a 
pious anchorite living in contemplation is often painted 
with enthusiasm. Free from all desires, he is as happy 


as a king, when the earth is his couch, his arms his 
pillow, the sky his tent, the moon his lamp, when renun- 
ciation is his spouse, and the cardinal points are the 
maidens that fan him with winds. No Indian poet 
inculcates renunciation more forcibly than Bhartri- 
hari ; the humorous and ironical touches which he occa- 
sionally introduces are doubtless due to the character of 
this remarkable man, who wavered between the spiritual 
and the worldly life throughout his career. 

Renunciation is not, however, the only goal to which 
the transitoriness of worldly goods leads the gnomic 
poets of India. The necessity of pursuing virtue is the 
practical lesson which they also draw from the vanity 
of mundane existence, and which finds expression in 
many noble admonitions : 

Transient indeed is human life, 

Like the moorts disc in waters seen : 

Knowing how true this is, a man 

Should ever practise what is good {Hit. iv. 133). 

It is often said that when a man dies and leaves all 
his loved ones behind, his good works alone can accom- 
pany him on his journey to his next life. Nor should 
sin ever be committed in this life when there is none to 
see, for it is always witnessed by the u old hermit dwel- 
ling in the heart," as the conscience is picturesquely 

That spirit of universal tolerance and love of mankind 
which enabled Buddhism to overstep the bounds not 
only of caste but of nationality, and thus to become the 
earliest world-religion, breathes throughout this poetry. 
Even the Mahdbhdrata, though a work of the Brahmans, 
contains such liberal sentiments as this : 


Men of high rank win no esteem 

If lacking in good qualities; 

A Cudra even deserves respect 

Who knows and does, his duty well (xiii. 2610). 

The following stanza shows how cosmopolitan Bhar- 
trihari was in his views : 

" This marts our own, a stranger that" : 
Thus narrow-minded people think. 
However, noble-ininded men 
Regard the whole world as their kin. 

But these poets go even beyond the limits of humanity 
and inculcate sympathy with the joys and sorrows of all 
creatures : 

To harm no living thing in deed, 

In thought or word, to exercise 

Benevolence and charity : 

Virtue's eternal law is this (Mahdbh. xii. 5997). 

Gentleness and forbearance towards good and bad 
alike are thus recommended in the Hitopadeqa : 

Even to beings destitute , >r<~^ 

Of virtue good men pity show : 

The moon does not her light withdraw 

Even from the pariah's abode (i. 63). 

The Panchatantraj again, dissuades thus from thoughts 
of revenge ; 


Devise no ill at any time 
To injure those that do thee harm : 
They of themselves will some day fall, 
Like trees that grow on river banks. 

The good qualities of the virtuous are often described 
and contrasted with the characteristics of evil-doers. 


This, for instance, is how Bhartrihari illustrates the 
humility of the benevolent : 

The trees bend downward with the burden of their fruit, 
The clouds bow low, heavy with waters they will shed : 
The noble hold not high their heads through pride of 'wealth j 
Thus those behave who are on others' good intent (i. 71). 

Many fine thoughts about true friendship and the 
value of intercourse with good men are found here, often 
exemplified in a truly poetical spirit. This, for instance, 
is from the Panchatantra : 

Who is not made a better man 

By contact with a noble friend? 

A water-drop on lotus-leaves 

Assumes the splendour of a pearl (iii. 61). 

It is perhaps natural that poetry with a strong pes- 
simistic colouring should contain many bitter sayings 
about women and their character. Here is an example 
of how they are often described : 

The love of women but a moment lasts, 
Like colours of the dawn or evening red j 
Their aims are crooked like a river's course; 
Inconstant are they as the lightning flash ; 
. Like serpents, they deserve no confidence {Kathas. xxxvii. 143). 

At the same time there are several passages in which 
female character is represented in a more favourable 
light, and others sing the praise of faithful wives. 

Here, too, we meet with many pithy sayings about 
the misery of poverty and the degradation of servitude ; 
while the power of money to invest the worthless man 
with the appearance of every talent and virtue is de- 
scribed with bitter irony and scathing sarcasm. 

As might be expected, true knowledge receives fre- 


quent and high appreciation in Sanskrit ethical poetry. 
It is compared with a rich treasure which cannot be 
divided among relations, which no thief can steal, and 
which is never diminished by being imparted to others. 
Contempt, on the other hand, is poured on pedantry 
and spurious learning. Those who have read many 
books, without understanding their sense, are likened to 
an ass laden with sandal wood, who feels only the 
weight, but knows nothing of the value of his burden. 

As the belief in transmigration has cast its shadow 
over Indian thought from pre-Buddhistic times, it is 
only natural that the conception of fate should be 
prominent in Sanskrit moral poetry. Here, indeed, we 
often read that no one can escape from the operation of 
destiny, but at the same time we find constant admoni- 
tions not to let this fact paralyse human effort. For, 
as is shown in the Hitopadeqa and elsewhere, fate is 
nothing else than the result of action done in a former 
birth. Hence every man can by right conduct shape his 
future fate, just as a potter can mould a lump of clay 
into whatever form he desires. Human action is thus 
a necessary complement to fate ; the latter cannot pro- 
ceed without the former any more than a cart, as the 
Hitopadeqa expresses it, can move with only one wheel. 
This doctrine is inculcated with many apt illustrations. 
Thus in one stanza of the Hitopadega it is pointed out 
that " antelopes do not enter into the mouth of the 
sleeping lion " ; in another the question is asked, " Who 
without work could obtain oil from sesamum seeds ? " 
Or, as the Mahdbharata once puts it, fate without human 
action cannot be fulfilled, just as seed sown outside the 
field bears no fruit. 

For those who are suffering from the assaults of 


adverse fate there are many exhortations to firmness 
and constancy. The following is a stanza of this kind 
from the Panchatantra : 

In fortune and calamity 
The great ever remain the same ; 
The sun is at its rising red, 
Red also when about to set. 

Collected in the ethico-didactic works which have 
been described in this chapter, and scattered through- 
out the rest of the literature, the notions held by the 
Brahmans in the sphere of moral philosophy have never 
received a methodical treatment, as in the Pali literature 
of Buddhism. In the orthodox systems of Hindu philo- 
sophy, to which we now turn, they find no place. 



The beginnings of Indian philosophy, which are to be 
found in the latest hymns of the Rigveda and in the 
Atharvaveda, are concerned with speculations on the 
origin of the world and on the eternal principle by 
which it is created and maintained. The Yajui~veda 
further contains fantastic cosmogonic legends describ- 
ing how the Creator produces all things by means of the 
omnipotent sacrifice. With these Vedic ideas are inti- 
mately connected, and indeed largely identical, those of 
the earlier Upanishads. This philosophy is essentially 
pantheistic and idealistic. By the side of it grew up an 
atheistic and empirical school of thought, which in the 
sixth century B.C. furnished the foundation of the two 
great unorthodox religious systems of Buddhism and 

The Upanishad philosophy is in a chaotic condition, 
but the speculations of this and of other schools of 
thought were gradually reduced to order and systema- 
tised in manuals from about the first century of our 
era onwards. Altogether nine systems may be distin- 
guished, some of which must in their origin go back 
to the beginning of the sixth century B.C. at least. Of 
the six systems which are accounted orthodox no less 
than four were originally atheistic, and one remained 
so throughout. The strangeness of this fact disappears 



when we reflect that the only conditions of orthodoxy 
in India were the recognition of the class privileges of 
the Brahman caste and a nominal acknowledgment of 
the infallibility of the Veda, neither full agreement with 
Vedic doctrines nor the confession of a belief in the 
existence of God being required. With these two limi- 
tations the utmost freedom of thought prevailed in 
Brahmanism. Hence the boldest philosophical specula- 
tion and conformity with the popular religion went hand 
and hand, to a degree which has never been equalled in 
any other country. Of the orthodox systems, by far the 
most important are the pantheistic Vedanta, which, as 
continuing the doctrines of the Upanishads, has been 
the dominant philosophy of Brahmanism since the end 
of the Vedic period, and the atheistic Sankhya, which, 
for the first time in the history of the world, asserted 
the complete independence of the human mind and 
attempted to solve its problems solely by the aid of 

On the Sankhya were based the two heterodox re- 
ligious systems of Buddhism and Jainism, which denied 
the authority of the Veda, and opposed the Brahman 
caste system and ceremonial. Still more heterodox was 
the Materialist philosophy of Charvaka, which went 
further and denied even the fundamental doctrines 
common to all other schools of Indian thought, orthodox 
and unorthodox, the belief in transmigration dependent 
on retribution, and the belief in salvation or release from 

The theory that every individual passes after death into 
a series of new existences in heavens or hells, or in the 
bodies of men and animals, or in plants on earth, where 
it is rewarded or punished for all deeds committed in a 


former life, was already so firmly established in the sixth 
century B.C., that Buddha received it without question 
into his religious system ; and it has dominated the belief 
of the Indian people from those early times down to the 
present day. There is, perhaps, no more remarkable 
fact in the history of the human mind than that this 
strange doctrine, never philosophically demonstrated, 
should have been regarded as self-evident for 2500 years 
by every philosophical school or religious sect in India, 
excepting only the Materialists. By the acceptance ot 
this doctrine the Vedic optimism, which looked forward 
to a life of eternal happiness in heaven, was transformed 
into the gloomy prospect of an interminable series of 
miserable existences leading from one death to another. 
The transition to the developed view of the Upanishads 
is to be found in the ^atapatha Brahmana (above, p. 

How is the origin of the momentous doctrine which 
produced this change to be accounted for ? The 
Rigveda contains no traces of it beyond a couple of 
passages in the last book which speak of the soul of 
a dead man as going to the waters or plants. It seems 
hardly likely that so far-reaching a theory should have 
been developed from the stray fancies of one or two 
later Vedic poets. It seems more probable that the Aryan 
settlers received the first impulse in this direction from 
the aboriginal inhabitants of India. As is well known, 
there is among half-savage tribes a wide-spread belief 
that the soul after death passes into the trunks of trees 
and the -bodies of animals. Thus the Sonthals of India 
are said even at the present day to hold that the souls of 
the good enter into fruit-bearing trees. But among such 
races the notion of transmigration does not go beyond a 


belief in the continuance of human existence in animals 
and trees. If, therefore, the Aryan Indians borrowed the 
idea from the aborigines, they certainly deserve the credit 
of having elaborated out of it the theory of an unbroken 
chain of existences, intimately connected with the moral 
principle of requital. The immovable hold it acquired on 
Indian thought is doubtless due to the satisfactory ex- 
planation it offered of the misfortune or prosperity which 
is often clearly caused by no action done in this life. 
Indeed, the Indian doctrine of transmigration, fantastic 
though it may appear to us, has the twofold merit of 
satisfying the requirement of justice in the moral govern- 
ment of the world, and at the same time inculcating a 
valuable ethical principle which makes every man the 
architect of his own fate. For, as every bad deed done 
in this existence must be expiated, so every good deed 
will be rewarded in the next existence. From the enjoy- 
ment of the fruits of actions already done there is no 
escape ; for, in the words of the Mahabhdrata y " as among 
a thousand cows a calf finds its mother, so the deed 
previously done follows after the doer." 

The cycle of existences (samsdrd) is regarded as 
having no beginning, for as every event of the present 
life is the result of an action done in a past one, the 
same must hold true of each preceding existence ad 
infinitum. The subsequent effectiveness of guilt and of 
merit, commonly called adrishta or "the unseen," but 
often also simply karma, "deed or work," is believed 
to regulate not only the life of the individual, but the 
origin and development of everything in the world ; for 
whatever takes place cannot but affect some creature, 
and must therefore, by the law of retribution, be due 
to some previous act of that creature. In other words, 


the operations of nature are also the results of the 
good or bad deeds of living beings. There is thus no 
room for independent divine rule by the side of the 
power of karma, which governs everything with iron 
necessity. Hence, even the systems which acknowledge 
a God can only assign to him the function of guiding the 
world and the life of creatures in strict accordance with 
the law of retribution, which even he cannot break. The 
periodic destruction and renewal of the universe, an 
application of the theory on a grand scale, forms part of 
the doctrine of samsara or cycle of existence. 

Common to all the systems of philosophy, and as old 
as that of transmigration, is the doctrine of salvation, 
which puts an end to transmigration. All action is brought 
about by desire, which, in its turn is based on avidya, a 
sort of "ignorance," that mistakes the true nature of 
things, and is the ultimate source of transmigration. 
Originally having only the negative sense of non-know- 
ledge (a-vidyd), the word here came to have the positive 
sense of " false knowledge." Such ignorance is dispelled 
by saving knowledge, which, according to every philo- 
sophical school of India, consists in some special form 
of cognition. This universal knowledge, which is not 
the result of merit, but breaks into life independently, 
destroys, the subsequent effect of works which would 
otherwise bear fruit in future existences, and thus puts 
an end to transmigration. It cannot, however, influence 
those works the fruit of which has already begun to 
ripen. Hence, the present life continues from the 
moment of enlightenment till definite salvation at death, 
just as the potter's wheel goes on revolving for a time 
after the completion of the pot. But no merit or de- 
merit results from acts done after enlightenment (or 


" conversion " as we should say), because all desire for 
the objects of the world is at an end. 

The popular beliefs about heavens and hells, gods, 
demi-gods, and demons, were retained in Buddhism and 
Jainism, as well as in the orthodox systems. But these 
higher and more fortunate beings were considered to be 
also subject to the law of transmigration, and, unless they 
obtained saving knowledge, to be on a lower level than 
the man who had obtained such knowledge. 

The monistic theory of the early Upanishads, which 
identified the individual soul with Brahma, aroused the 
opposition of the rationalistic founder of the Sankhya 
system, Kapila, who, according to Buddhist legends, 
was pre-Buddhistic, and whose doctrines Buddha fol- 
lowed and elaborated. His teaching is entirely dual- 
istic, admitting only two things, both without beginning 
and end, but essentially different, matter on the one 
hand, and an infinite plurality of individual souls on 
the other. An account of the nature and the mutual 
relation of these two, forms the main i content of the 
system. Kapila was, indeed, the first who drew a sharp 
line of demarcation between the two domains of matter 
and soul. The saving knowledge which delivers from 
the misery of transmigration consists, according to the 
Sankhya system, in recognising the absolute distinction 
between soul and matter. 

The existence of a supreme god who creates and 
rules the universe is denied, and would be irreconcilable 
with the system. For according to its doctrine the un- 
conscious matter of Nature originally contains within 
itself the power of evolution (in the interest of souls, 
which are entirely passive during the process), while 
karma alone determines the course of that evolution. 


The adherents of the system defend their atheism 
by maintaining that the origin of misery presents an 
insoluble problem to the theist, for a god who has 
created and rules the world could not possibly escape 
from the reproach of cruelty and partiality. Much stress 
is laid by this school in general on the absence of any 
cogent proof for the existence of God. 

The world is maintained to be real, and that from 
all eternity ; for the existent can only be produced from 
the existent. The reality of an object is regarded as 
resulting simply from perception, always supposing the 
senses of the perceiver to be sound. The world is 
described as developing according to certain laws out 
of primitive matter (prakriti or pradhdnd). The genuine 
philosophic spirit of its method of rising from the known 
elements of experience to the unknown by logical de- 
monstration till the ultimate cause is reached, must 
give this system a special interest in the eyes of evolu- 
tionists whose views are founded on the results of 
modern physical science. 

The evolution and diversity of the world are ex- 
plained by primaeval matter, although uniform and 
indivisible, consisting of three different substances called 
gunas or constituents (originally "strands" of a rope). 
By the combination of these in varying proportions the 
diverse material products were supposed to have arisen. 
The constituent, called sattva, distinguished by the 
qualities of luminousness and lightness in the object, and 
by virtue, benevolence, and other pleasing attributes in 
the subject, is associated with the feeling of joy; rajas , 
distinguished by activity and various hurtful qualities, 
is associated with pain ; and tamas, distinguished by 
heaviness, rigidity, and darkness on the one hand, and 


fear, unconsciousness, and so forth, on the other, is 
associated with apathy. At the end of a cosmic period 
all things are supposed to be dissolved into primitive 
matter, the alternations of evolution, existence, and dis- 
solution having neither beginning nor end. 

The psychology of the Sankhya system is specially 
important. Peculiarly interesting is its doctrine that 
all mental operations, such as perception, thinking, 
willing, are not performed by the soul, but are merely 
mechanical processes of the internal organs, that is to 
say, of matter. The soul itself possesses no attributes 
or qualities, and can only be described negatively. 
There being no qualitative difference between souls, 
the principle of personality and identity is supplied by 
the subtile or internal body, which, chiefly formed of 
the inner organs and the senses, surrounds and is made 
conscious by the soul. This internal body, being the 
vehicle of merit and demerit, which are the basis of 
transmigration, accompanies the soul on its wanderings 
from one gross body to another, whether the latter be 
that of a god, a man, an animal, or a tree. Conscious 
life is bondage to pain, in which pleasure is included 
by this peculiarly pessimistic system. When salvation, 
which is the absolute cessation of pain, is obtained, the 
internal body is dissolved into its material elements, and 
the soul, becoming finally isolated, continues to exist 
individually, but in absolute unconsciousness. 

The name of the system, which only begins to be 
mentioned in the later Upanishads, and more frequently 
in the Mahdbhdrata, is derived from sanikhyd, il number." 
There is, however, some doubt as to whether it origi- 
nally meant u enumeration," from the twenty-five tattvas 
or principles which it sets forth, or " inferential or 


discriminative " doctrine, from the method which it 

Kapila, the founder of the system, whose teaching is 
presupposed by Buddhism, and whom Buddhistic legend 
connects with Kapila-vastu, the birthplace of Buddha, 
must have lived before the middle of the sixth century. 
No work of his, if he ever committed his system to 
writing, has been preserved. Indeed, the very existence 
of such a person as Kapila has been doubted, in spite 
of the unanimity with which Indian tradition designates 
a man of this name as the founder of the system. The 
second leading authority of the Sankhya philosophy 
was Panchacikha, who may have lived about the be- 
ginning of our era. The oldest systematic manual 
which has been preserved is the Sankhya - karika 
of I^VARA-KRISHNA. As it was translated into Chinese 
between 557 and 583 A.D., it cannot belong to a later 
century than the fifth, and may be still older. This 
work deals very concisely and methodically with the 
doctrines of the Sankhya in sixty-nine stanzas (com- 
posed in the complicated Arya metre), to which three 
others were subsequently added. It appears to have 
superseded the Sutras of Panchacikha, who is mentioned 
in it as* the chief disseminator of the system. There 
are two excellent commentaries on the Sdnkkya-kdrikd, 
the one composed about 700 A.D. by Gaudapada, and 
the other soon after 1100 A.D. by Vachaspati Micra. 

The Sankhya Sutras, long regarded as the oldest 
manual of the system, and attributed to Kapila, were 
probably not composed till about 1400 A.D. The author 
of this work, which also goes by the name of Sankhya- 
pravachana, endeavours in vain to show that there is 
no difference between the doctrines of the Sankhya and 


of the Upanishads. He is also much influenced by the 
ideas of the Yoga as well as the Vedanta system. In 
the oldest commentary on this work, that of Aniruddha, 
composed about 1500 A.D., the objectiveness of the 
treatment is particularly useful. Much more detailed, 
but far less objective, is the commentary of Vijnana- 
bhikshu, entitled Sankhya - pravachana - bhdshya, and 
written in the second half of the sixteenth century. 
The author's point of view being theistic, he effaces 
the characteristic features of the different systems in 
the endeavour to show that all the six orthodox systems 
contain the absolute truth in their main doctrines. 

From the beginning of our era down to recent times 
the Sankhya doctrines have exercised considerable in- 
fluence on the religious and philosophical life of India, 
though to a much less extent than the Vedanta. Some 
of its individual teachings, such as that of the three 
gunas y have become the common property of the whole 
of Sanskrit literature. At the time of the great Vedan- 
tist, (Jankara (800 A.D.), the Sankhya system was held 
in high honour. The law book of Manu followed this 
doctrine, though with an admixture of the theistic 
notions of the Mlmamsa and Vedanta systems as well 
as of popular mythology. The Mahabharata, especially 
Book XII., is full of Sankhya doctrines; indeed almost 
every detail of the teachings of this system is to be 
found somewhere in the great epic. Its numerous 
deviations from the regular Sankhya text-books are only 
secondary, as Professor Garbe thinks, even though the 
Mahdbhdrata is our oldest actual source for the system. 
Nearly half the Puranas follow the cosmogony of the 
Sankhya, and even those which are Vedantic are largely 
influenced by its doctrines. The purity of the Sankhya 


notions are, however, everywhere in the Puranas" ob- 
scured by Vedanta doctrines, especially that of cos- 
mical illusion. A peculiarity of the Puranic Sankhya is 
the conception of Spirit or Purusha as the male, and 
Matter or Prakriti as the female, principle in creation. 

On the Sankhya system are based the two philoso- 
phical religions of Buddhism and Jainism in all their 
main outlines. Their fundamental doctrine is that life 
is nothing but suffering. The cause of suffering is the 
desire, based on ignorance, to live and enjoy the world. 
The aim of both is to redeem mankind from the misery 
of mundane existence by the annihilation of desire, with 
the aid of renunciation of the world and the practice of 
unbounded kindness towards all creatures. These two 
pessimistic religions are so extremely similar that the 
Jainas, or adherents of Jina, were long looked upon as 
a Buddhist sect. Research has, however, led to the dis- 
covery that the founders of both systems were contem- 
poraries, the most eminent of the many teachers who 
in the sixth century opposed the Brahman ceremonial 
and caste pretensions in Northern Central India. Both 
religions, while acknowledging the lower and ephemeral 
gods of Brahmanism, deny, like the Sankhya, the exist- 
ence of an eternal supreme Deity. As they developed, 
they diverged in various respects from the system to 
which they owed their philosophical notions. Hence it 
came about that Sankhya writers stoutly opposed some 
of their teachings, particularly the Buddhist denial of 
soul, the doctrine that all things have only a momentary 
existence, and that salvation is an annihilation of self. 
Here, however, it should be noted that Buddha^ himself 
refused to decide the question whether nirvana is com- 
plete extinction or an unending state of unconscious bliss. 


The latter view was doubtless a concession to the 
Vedantic conception of Brahma, in which the individual 
soul is merged on attaining salvation. 

The importance of these systems lies not in their 
metaphysical speculations, which occupy but a sub- 
ordinate position, but in their high development of 
moral principles, which are almost entirely neglected 
in the orthodox systems of Indian philosophy. The fate 
of the two religions has been strangely different. Jain- 
ism has survived as an insignificant sect in India alone ; 
Buddhism has long since vanished from the land of its 
birth, but has become a world religion counting more 
adherents than any other faith. 

The Sankhya philosophy, with the addition of a 
peculiar form of mental asceticism as the most effec- 
tive means of acquiring saving knowledge, appears to 
have assumed definite shape in a manual at an earlier 
period than any of the other orthodox systems. This is 
the Yoga philosophy founded by Patanjali and ex- 
pounded in the Yoga Sutras, The priority of this text- 
book is rendered highly probable by the fact that it is 
the only philosophical Sutra work which contains no 
polemics against the others. There seems, moreover, to 
be no sufficient ground to doubt the correctness of the 
native tradition identifying the founder of the Yoga 
system with the grammarian Patanjali. The Yoga 
Sutras therefore probably date from the second century 
B.C. This work also goes by the name of Sankhya-pra- 
vachana, the same as that given to the later Sankhya 
Sutras, a sufficiently clear proof of its close connection 
with Kapila's philosophy. In the Mahabharata the two 
systems are actually spoken of as one and the same. 

In order to make his system more acceptable, Patan- 



jali introduced into it the doctrine of a personal god, 
but in so loose a way as not to affect the system as a 
whole. Indeed, the parts of the Sutras dealing with the 
person of God are not only unconnected with the other 
parts of the treatise, but even contradict the foundations 
of the system. For the final aim of man is here repre- 
sented as the absolute isolation (kaivafya) of the soul 
from matter, just as in the Sankhya system, and not 
union with or absorption in God. Nor are the indivi- 
dual souls here derived from the u special soul " or God, 
but are like the latter without a beginning. 

The really distinctive part of the system is the 
establishment of the views prevailing in Patanjali's time 
with regard to asceticism and the mysterious powers 
to be acquired by its practice. Yoga, or " yoking " the 
mind, means mental concentration on a particular 
object. The belief that fasting and other penances 
produce supernatural powers goes back to remote pre- 
historic times, and still prevails among savage races. 
Bodily asceticism of this kind is known to the Vedas 
under the name of tapas. From this, with the advance 
of intellectual life in India, was developed the practice 
of mental asceticism called yoga, which must have been 
known and practised several centuries before Patanjali's 
time. For recent investigations have shown that Bud- 
dhism started not only from the theoretical Sankhya 
but from the practical Yoga doctrine ; and the condition 
of ecstatic abstraction was from the beginning held 
in high esteem among the Buddhists. Patanjali only 
elaborated the doctrine, describing at length the means 
of attaining concentration and carrying it to the highest 
pitch. In his system the methodical practice of Yoga 
acquired a special importance ; for, in addition to con- 


ferring supernatural powers, it here becomes the chief 
means of salvation. His Sutras consist of four chapters 
dealing with deep meditation (samddki), the means for 
obtaining it {sddhana), the miraculous powers {vibhuti) 
it confers, and the isolation (kaivalyd) of the redeemed 
soul. The oldest and best commentary on this work 
is that of Vyasa, dating from the seventh century A.D. 

Many of the later Upanishads are largely concerned 
with the Yoga doctrine. The lawbook of Manu in 
Book VI. refers to various details of Yoga practice. 
Indeed, it seems likely, owing to the theistic point of 
view of that work, that its Sankhya notions were de- 
rived from the Yoga system. The MahdbJidrata treats 
of Yoga in considerable detail, especially in Book XII. 
It is particularly prominent in the Bhagavadgltd, which 
is even designated a yoga-qdstra. Belief in the efficacy 
of Yoga still prevails in India, and its practice survives. 
But its adherents, the Yogis, are at the present day 
often nothing more than conjurers and jugglers. 

The exercises of mental concentration are in the 
later commentaries distinguished by the name of rdja- 
yoga or " chief Yoga." The external expedients are 
called kriyd-yoga, or " practical Yoga." The more in- 
tense form of the latter, in later works called hatha- 
yoga, or " forcible Yoga," and dealing for the most 
part with suppression of the breath, is very often con- 
trasted with rdja-yoga. 

Among the eight branches of Yoga practice the 
sitting posture (dsana), as not only conducive to con- 
centration, but of therapeutic value, is considered im- 
portant. In describing its various forms later writers 
positively revelled, eighty-four being frequently stated' 
to be their normal number. In the Jiatha-yoga there 


are also a number of other postures and contortions 
of the limbs designated mudrd. The best-known mudrd, 
called khecharl, consists in turning the tongue back 
towards the throat and keeping the gaze fixed on a 
point between the eyebrows. Such practices, in con- 
junction with the suppression of breath, were capable 
of producing a condition of trance. There is at least 
the one well-authenticated case of a Yogi named Haridas 
who in the thirties wandered about in Rajputana and 
Lahore, allowing himself to be buried for money when 
in the cataleptic condition. The burial of the Master 
of Ballantrae by the Indian Secundra Dass in Stevenson's 
novel was doubtless suggested by an account of this 

In contrast with the two older and intimately con- 
nected dualistic schools of the Sankhya and Yoga, there 
arose about the beginning of our era the only two, even 
of the six orthodox systems of philosophy, which were 
theistic from the outset. One of them, being based on 
the Vedas and the Brahmanas, is concerned with the 
practical side of Vedic religion ; while the other, alone 
among the philosophical systems, represents a methodi- 
cal development of the fundamental non-dualistic specu- 
lations of the Upanishads. The former, which has only 
been accounted a philosophical system at all because 
of its close connection with the latter, is the Purva- 
mimdmsd or " First Inquiry," also called Karma-mlmdinsd 
or (i Inquiry concerning Works," but usually simply 
Mimdmsd. Founded by Jaimini, and set forth in the 
Karma-mimdmsd Sutras, this system discusses the sacred 
ceremonies and the rewards resulting from their per- 
formance. Holding the Veda to be uncreated and 
existent from all eternity, it lays special stress on the 


proposition that articulate sounds are eternal, and on 
the consequent doctrine that the connection of a word 
with its sense is not due to convention, but is by nature 
inherent in the word itself. Owing to its lack of philo- 
sophical interest, this system has not as yet much 
occupied the attention of European scholars. 

The oldest commentary in existence on the Mimamsd 
Sutras is the bhdshya of (^abara Svamin, which in its turn 
was commented on about 700 A.D. by the great Mlmam- 
sist Kumarila in his Tantra-vdrttika and in his loka- 
vdrttika, the latter a metrical paraphrase of (Jabara's 
exposition of the first aphorism of Patanjali. Among 
the later commentaries on the Mimamsd Sutras the most 
important is the J r aiminlya-nydya-mdld-vistara of Madhava 
(fourteenth century). 

Far more deserving of attention is the theoretical 
system of the Uttara-mlmdmsdy or u Second Inquiry." 
For it not only-systematises the doctrines of the Upani- 
shads therefore usually termed Veddnta, or " End of 
the Veda " but also represents the philosophical views 
of the Indian thinkers of to-day. In the words of 
Professor Deussen, its relation to the earlier Upani- 
shads resembles that of Christian dogmatics to the New 
Testament. Its fundamental doctrine, expressed in the 
famous formula tat tvam asz, " thou art that," is the 
identity of the individual soul with God (brahma). 
Hence it is also called the Brahma- or driraka-mim- 
dmsdy " Inquiry concerning Brahma or the embodied 
soul." The eternal and infinite Brahma not being made 
up of parts or liable to change, the individual soul, 
it is here laid down, cannot be a part or emanation 
of it, but is the whole indivisible Brahma. As there 
is no other existence but Brahma, the Vedanta is styled 


the advaita-vdda, or "doctrine of non-duality/' being, 
in other words, an idealistic monism. The evidence of 
experience, which shows a multiplicity of phenomena, 
and the statements of the Veda, which teach a multi- 
plicity of souls, are brushed aside as the phantasms of 
a dream which are only true till waking takes place. 

The ultimate cause of all such false impressions is 
avidyd or innate ignorance, which this, like the other 
systems, simply postulates, but does not in any way 
seek to account for. It is this ignorance which prevents 
the soul from recognising that the empirical world is 
mere mdyd or illusion. Thus to the Vedantist the uni- 
verse is like a mirage, which the soul under the influence 
of desire {trishnd or " thirst ") 'fancies it perceives, just 
as the panting hart sees before it sheets of water in 
the fata morgana (picturesquely called mriga-trishnd or 
"deer-thirst" in Sanskrit). The illusion vanishes as if 
by magic, when the scales fall from the eyes, on the 
acquisition of true knowledge. Then the semblance of 
any distinction between the soul and God disappears, 
and salvation (inoksha), the chief end of man, is attained. 

Saving knowledge cannot of course be acquired by 
worldly experience, but is revealed in the theoretical 
part (jndna-kdnda) of the Vedas, that is to say, in the 
Upanishads. By this correct knowledge the illusion 
of the multiplicity of phenomena is dispelled, just as 
the illusion of a snake when there is only a rope. 
Two forms of knowledge are, however, distinguished in 
the Vedanta, a higher {para) and a lower (apard). The 
former is concerned with the higher and impersonal 
Brahma (neuter), which is without form or attributes, 
while the latter deals with the lower and personal Brahma 
(masculine), who is the soul of the universe, the Lord 


(i$vara) who has created the world and grants salvation. 
The contradiction resulting from one and the same 
thing having form and no form, attributes and no attri- 
butes, is solved by the explanation that the lower 
Brahma has no reality, but is merely an illusory form 
of the higher and only Brahma, produced by ignorance. 

The doctrines of the Vedanta are laid down in the 
Brahma-sutras of Badarayana. This text -book, the 
meaning of which is not intelligible without the aid of 
a commentary, was expounded in his bhdshya by the 
famous Vedantist philosopher (^ANKARA, whose name 
is intimately connected with the revival of Brahmanism. 
He was born in 788 A.D., became an ascetic in 820, 
and probably lived to an advanced age. There is 
every likelihood that his expositions agree in all essentials 
with the meaning of the Brahma-sutras. The full ela- 
boration of the doctrine of Maya, or cosmic illusion, 
is, however, due to him. An excellent epitome of the 
teachings of the Vedanta, as set forth by Cankara, is 
the Vedanta-sara of Sadananda Yoglndra. Its author 
departs from (Jankara's views only in a few particulars, 
which show an admixture of Sankhya doctrine. 

Among the many commentaries on the Brahma- 
sutras subsequent to (Jankara, the most important is 
that of Ramanuja, who lived in the earlier half of the 
twelfth century. This writer gives expression to the 
views of the Pancharatras or Bhagavatas, an old Vish- 
nuite sect, whose doctrine, closely allied to Christian 
ideas, is expounded in the Bhagavadglta and the Bhdga- 
vata-purdna, as well as in the special text-books of the 
sect. The tenets of the Bhagavatas, as set forth by Rama- 
nuja, diverge considerably from those of the Brahma- 
sutras on which he is commenting. For, according 


to him, individual souls are not identical with God ; 
they suffer from innate unbelief, not ignorance, while 
belief or the love of God (bhakti), not knowledge, is the 
means of salvation or union with God. 

The last two orthodox systems of philosophy, the 
Vaiceshika and the Nyaya, form a closely-connected 
pair, since a strict classification of ideas, as well as the 
explanation of the origin of the world from atoms, is 
cHmmon to both. Much the older of the two is the 
Vaiceshika, which is already assailed in the Brahma- 
sutras. It is there described as undeserving of attention, 
because it had no adherents. This was certainly not 
the case in later times, when this system became very 
popular. It received its name from the category of 
"particularity" (yiqeshd) on which great stress is laid 
in its theory of atoms. The memory of its founder is 
only preserved in his nickname Kanada (also Kanabhuj 
or Kana-bhaksha), which means " atom-eater." 

The main importance of the system lies in the logical 
categories which it set up and under which it classed 
all phenomena. The six which it originally set up are 
substance, quality, motion, generality, particularity, and 
inherence. They are rigorously defined and further 
subdivided. The most interesting is that of inherence or 
inseparable connection (samavdya), which, being clearly 
distinguished from that of accident or separable con- 
nection (samyogd), is described as the relation between 
a thing and its properties, the whole and its parts, genus 
and species, motion and the object in motion. Later 
was added a seventh, that of non-existence (abhdva), 
which, by affording special facilities for the display of 
subtlety, has had a momentous influence on Indian 
logic. This category was further subdivided into prior 


and posterior non-existence (which we should respec- 
tively call future and past existence), mutual non- 
existence (as between a jar and cloth), and absolute 
non-existence (as fire in water). 

Though largely concerned with these categories, the 
Vaiceshika system aimed at attaining a comprehensive 
philosophic view in connection with them. Thus while 
dealing with the category of "substance," it develops 
its theory of the origin of the world from atoms. The 
consideration of the category of "quality" similarly 
leads to its treatment of psychology, which is remark- 
able and has analogies with that of the Sankhya. Soul 
is here regarded as without beginning or end, and all- 
pervading, subject to the limitations of neither time nor 
space. Intimately connected with soul is "mind" 
(inanas), the internal organ of thought, which alone 
enables the soul to know not only external objects but 
its own qualities. As this organ is, in contrast with 
soul, an atom, it can only comprehend a single object 
at any given moment. This is the explanation why the 
soul cannot be conscious of all objects simultaneously. 

The Nyaya system is only a development and com- 
plement of that of Kanada, its metaphysics and psy- 
chology being the same. Its specific character consists 
in its being a very detailed and acute exposition of 
formal logic. As such it has remained the foundation 
of philosophical studies in India down to the present 
day. Besides dealing fully with the means of knowledge, 
which it states to be perception, inference, analogy, and 
trustworthy evidence, it treats exhaustively of syllogisms 
and fallacies. It is interesting to note that the Indian 
mind here independently arrived at an exposition of the 
syllogism as the form of deductive reasoning. The 


text-book of this system is the Nydya-siUra of Gotama. 
The importance here attached to logic appears from the 
very first aphorism, which enumerates sixteen logical 
notions with the remark that salvation depends on a 
correct knowledge of their nature. 

Neither the Vaiqeshika nor the Nydya-siitras ori- 
ginally accepted the existence of God ; and though both 
schools later became theistic, they never went so far 
as to assume a creator of matter. Their theology is 
first found developed in Udayanacharya's Kusumdnjali, 
which was written about 1200 A.D., and in works which 
deal with the two systems conjointly. Here God is 
regarded as a "special" soul, which differs from all 
other individual eternal souls by exemption from all 
qualities connected with transmigration, and by the 
possession of the power and knowledge qualifying him 
to be a regulator of the universe. 

Of the eclectic movement combining Sankhya, Yoga, 
and Vedanta doctrines, the oldest literary representative 
is the Qvetdgvatara Upanishad. More famous is the 
Bhagavadgitdy in which the Supreme Being incarnate as 
Krishna expounds to Arjuna his doctrines in this sense. 
The burden of his teaching is that the zealous perform- 
ance of his duty is a man's most important task, to what- 
ever caste he may belong. The beauty and the power 
of the language in which this doctrine is inculcated, is 
unsurpassed in any other work of Indian literature. 

By the side of the orthodox systems and the two non- 
Brahmanical religions, flourished the lokdyata (" directed 
to the world of sense "), or materialistic school, usually 
called that of the Charvakas from the name of the 
founder of the doctrine. It was regarded as peculiarly 
heretical, for it not only rejected the authority of the 


Vedas and Brahmanic ceremonial, but denied the doc- 
trines of transmigration and salvation accepted by all 
other systems. Materialistic teachings may be traced 
even before the time of Buddha, and they have had many 
secret followers in India down to the present day. The 
system, however, seems never to have had more than 
one text-book, the lost Sutras of Brihaspati, its mythical 
founder. Our knowledge of it is derived partly from the 
polemics of other schools, but especially from the Sarva- 
dar^ana-samgraha, or " Compendium of all the Philoso- 
phical Systems," composed in the fourteenth century by 
the well-known Vedantist Madhavacharya, brother of 
Sayana. The strong scepticism of the Charvakas showed 
itself in the rejection of all the means of knowledge 
accepted by other schools, excepting perception. To 
them matter was the only realitVj Soul they regarded as 
nothing but the body with the attribute of intelligence. 
They held it to be created when the body is formed by 
the combination of elements, just as the power of intoxi- 
cation arises from the mixture of certain ingredients. 
Hence with the annihilation of the body the soul also is 
annihilated. Not transmigration, they affirm, but the 
true nature of things, is the cause from which phenomena 
proceed. The existence of all that transcends the senses 
they deny, sometimes with an admixture of irony. Thus 
the highest being, they say, is the king of the land, whose 
existence is proved by the perception of the whole world ; 
hell is earthly pain produced by earthly causes ; and 
salvation is the dissolution of the body. Even in the 
attribution of their text-book to Brihaspati, the name of 
the preceptor of the gods, a touch of irony is to be de- 
tected. The religion of the Brahmans receives a severe 
handling. The Vedas, say the Charvakas, are only the 


incoherent rhapsodies of knaves, and are tainted with the 
three blemishes of falsehood, self-contradiction, and tauto- 
logy ; Vedic teachers are impostors, whose doctrines are 
mutually destructive ; and the ritual of the Brahmans is 
useful only as a means of livelihood. " If," they ask, "an 
animal sacrificed reaches heaven, why does the sacrificer 
not rather offer his own father ? " 

On the moral side the system is pure hedonism. 
For the only end of man is here stated to be sensual 
pleasure, which is to be enjoyed by neglecting as far as 
possible the pains connected with it, just as a man who 
desires fish takes the scales and bones into the bargain. 
" While life remains, let a man live happily, let him feed 
on ghee even though he run into debt ; when once the 
body becomes ashes, how can it ever return again ? " 

The author of the Sarvadarqana-samgraha y placing 
himself with remarkable mental detachment in the posi- 
tion of an adherent in each case, describes altogether 
sixteen systems. The six which have not been sketched 
above, besides being of little importance, are not purely 
philosophic. Five of these are sectarian, one Vishnuite 
and four Civite, all of them being strongly tinctured 
with Sankhya and Vedanta doctrines. The sixth, the 
system of Panini, is classed by Madhava among the 
philosophies, simply because the Indian grammarians 
accepted the Mlmamsa, dogma of the eternity of sound, 
and philosophically developed the Yoga theory of the 
sphuta, or the imperceptible and eternal element inherent 
in every word as the vehicle of its sense. 




Want of space makes it impossible for me to give even 
the briefest account of the numerous and, in many cases, 
important legal and scientific works written in Sanskrit. 
But I cannot conclude this survey of Sanskrit literature 
as an embodiment of Indian culture without sketching 
rapidly the influence which it has received from and 
exercised upon the nations of the West. An adequate 
treatment of this highly interesting theme cou4d only be 
presented in a special volume. 

The oldest trace of contact between the Indians and 
the peoples of the West is to be found in the history of 
Indian writing, which, as we have already seen (p. 16) 
was derived from a Semitic source, probably as early as 
800 B.C. 

The Aryans having conquered Hindustan in pre- 
historic times, began themselves to fall under foreign 
domination from an early period. The extreme north- 
west became subject to Persian sway from about 500 to 
331 B.C. under the Achaemenid dynasty. Cyrus the First 
made tributary the Indian tribes of the Gandharas and 
Acvakas. The old Persian inscriptions of Behistun and 
Persepolis show that his successor, Darius Hystaspis, ruled 
over not only the Gandharians, but also the people of the 
Indus. Herodotus also states that this monarch had 

subjected the " Northern Indians." At the command of 



the same Darius, a Greek named Skylax is said to have 
travelled in India, and to have navigated the Indus in 
509 B.C. From his account various Greek writers, among 
them Herodotus, derived their information about India. 
In the army which Xerxes led against Greece in 480 B.C. 
there were divisions of Gandharians and Indians, whose 
dress and equipment are described by Herodotus. That 
historian also makes the statement that the satrapy of 
India furnished the heaviest tribute in the Persian empire, 
adding that the gold with which it was paid was brought 
from a desert in the east, where it was dug up by ants 
larger than foxes. 

At the beginning of the fourth century B.C., the Greek 
physician Ktesias, who resided at the court of Artaxerxes 
II., learnt much from the Persians about India, and was 
personally acquainted with wise Indians. Little useful 
information can, however, be derived from the account 
of India which he wrote after his return in 398 B.C., as it 
has been very imperfectly preserved, and his reputation 
for veracity did not stand high among his countrymen. 

The destruction of the Persian empire by Alexander 
the Great led to a new invasion of India, which fixes the 
first absolutely certain date in Indian history. In 327 B.C. 
Alexander passed over the Hindu Kush with an army of 
120,000 infantry and 30,000 cavalry. After taking the 
town of PushkalavatI (the Greek Peukelaotis) at the 
confluence of the Kabul and Indus, and subduing the 
Acvakas (variously called Assakanoi, Aspasioi, Hippasioi, 
by Greek writers) on the north and the Gandharas on the 
south of the Kabul River, he crossed the Indus early in 
326. At Takshacila(Greek Taxiles), between the Indus and 
the Jhelum (Hydaspes), the Greeks for the first time saw 
Brahman Yogis, or " the wise men of the Indians," as 


they called them, and were astonished at their asceticism 
and strange doctrines. 

Between the Jhelum and the Chenab (Akesines) lay 
the kingdom of the Pauravas or Pauras, whose prince, 
called Porus by the Greeks from the name of his people, 
led out an army of 50,000 infantry, 4000 cavalry, 200 
elephants, and 400 chariots to check the advance of the 
invader. Then on the banks of. the Jhelum was fought 
the great historic battle, in which Alexander, after a severe 
struggle, finally won the day by superior numbers and 
force of genius. He continued his victorious march 
eastwards till he reached the Sutlej (Greek Zadadres). 
But here his further progress towards the Ganges was 
arrested by the opposition of his Macedonians, intimidated 
by the accounts they heard of the great power of the 
king of the Prasioi (Sanskrit Prachyas, or " Easterns "). 
Hence, after appointing satraps of the Panjab and of 
Sindh, he sailed down to the mouths of the Indus and 
returned to Persia by Gedrosia. Of the writings of those 
who accompanied Alexander, nothing has been preserved 
except statements from them in later authors. 

After Alexander's death the assassination of the old 
king Porus by Eudemus, the satrap of the Panjab, led 
to a rebellion in which the Indians cast off the Greek 
yoke under the leadership of a young adventurer named 
Chandragupta (the Sandrakottos or Sandrokyptos of the 
Greeks). Having gained possession of the Indus territory 
in 317, and dethroned the king of Pataliputra in 315 B.C., 
he became master of the whole Ganges Valley as well. 
The Maurya dynasty, which he thus founded, lasted for 
137 years (315-178 B.C.). His empire was the largest 
hitherto known in India, as it embraced the whole 
territory between the Himalaya and the Vindhya from 


the mouths of the Ganges to the Indus, including 

Seleucus, who had founded a kingdom in Media and 
Persia, feeling himself unable to vanquish Chandragupta, 
sent a Greek named Megasthenes to reside at his court at 
Pataliputfa. This ambassador thus lived for several years 
in the heart of India between 311 and 302 B.C., and wrote 
a work entitled Ta Indika, which is particularly valuable 
as the earliest direct record of his visit by a foreigner who 
knew the country himself. Megasthenes furnishes par- 
ticulars about the strength of Chandragupta's army and 
the administration of the state. He mentions forest 
ascetics {Hylobioi), and distinguishes Brachmdnes and 
Sarmanai as two classes of philosophers, meaning, doubt- 
less, Brahmans and Buddhists (gramanas). He tells us 
that the Indians worshipped the rain-bringing Zeus 
(Indra) as well as the Ganges, which must, therefore, 
have already been a sacred river. By his description of 
the god Dionysus, whom they worshipped in the moun- 
tains, (Jiva must be intended, and by Herakles, adored 
in the plains, especially among the (Jurasenas on the 
Yamuna and in the city of Methora, no other can be 
meant than Vishnu and his incarnation Krishna, the 
chief city of whose tribe of Yadavas was Mathura 
(Muttra). These statements seem to justify the conclu- 
sion that (Jiva and Vishnu were already prominent as 
highest gods, the former in the mountains, the latter in 
the Ganges Valley. Krishna would also seem to have been 
regarded as an Avatar of Vishnu, though it is to be noted 
that Krishna is not yet mentioned in the old Buddhist 
Sutras. We also learn from Megasthenes that the doc- 
trine of the four ages of the world (yugas) was fully 
developed in India by his time. 


Chandragupta's grandson, the famous Acoka, not only 
maintained his national Indian empire, but extended it in 
every direction. Having adopted Buddhism as the state 
religion, he did much to spread its doctrines, especially 
to Ceylon, which since then has remained the most 
faithful guardian of Buddhist tradition. 

After Acoka's death the Graeco-Bactrian princes began 
about 200 B.C. to conquer Western India, and ruled 
there for about eighty years. Euthydemos extended his 
dominions to the Jhelum. His son Demetrios (early in the 
second century B.C.) appears to have held sway over the 
Lower Indus, Malava, Gujarat, and probably also Kashmir. 
He is called " King of the Indians," and was the first to 
introduce a bilingual coinage by adding an Indian inscrip- 
tion in Kharoshthl characters on the reverse to the Greek 
on the obverse. Eukratides (190-160 B.C.), who rebelled 
against Demetrios, subjected the Pan jab as far east as 
the Beas. After the reign of Heliokles (160-120 B.C.), 
the Greek princes in India ceased to be connected with 
Bactria. The most prominent among these Grseco- 
Indians was Menander (c. 150 B.C.), who, under the name 
of Milinda, is well known in Buddhist writings. The last 
vestige of Greek domination in India disappeared about 
20 B.C., having lasted nearly two centuries. It is a re- 
markable fact that no Greek monumental inscriptions 
have ever been found in India. 

With the beginning of the Graeco-Indian period also 
commenced the incursions of the Scythic tribes, who are 
called Indo-Scythians by the Greeks, and by the Indians 
^akas, the Persian designation of Scythians in general. 
Of these so-called Scythians the Jats of the Panjab are 
supposed to be the descendants. The rule of these (Jaka 
kings, the earliest of whom is Maues or Moa (c. 120 B.C.), 


endured down to 178 A.D., or about three centuries. 
Their memory is preserved in India by the (Jaka era, 
which is still in use, and dates from 78 A.D., the 
inaugural year of Kanishka, the only famous king of 
this race. His dominions, which included Kanyakubja 
(Kanauj) on the Ganges, extended beyond the confines 
of India to parts of Central Asia. A zealous adherent of 
Buddhism, he made Gandhara and Kashmir the chief 
seat of that religion, and held the fourth Buddhist 
council in the latter country. 

About 20 B.C. the (^akas were followed into India by 
the Kushanas, who were one of the five tribes of the 
Yueh-chi from Central Asia, and who subsequently con- 
quered the whole of Northern India. 

After having been again united into a single empire 
almost as great as that of Chandragupta under the 
national dynasty of the Guptas, from 319 to 480 A.D., 
Northern India, partly owing to the attacks of the 
Hunas, was split up into several kingdoms, some under 
the later Guptas, till 606 A.D., when Harshavardhana 
of Kanauj gained paramount power over the whole of 
Northern India. During his reign the poet Bana flour- 
ished, and the celebrated Chinese pilgrim Hiouen Thsang 
visited India. 

With the Muhammadan conquest about 1000 A.D. 
the country again fell under a foreign yoke. As after 
Alexander's invasion, we have the good fortune to pos- 
sess in Alberunl's India (c. 1030 A.D.) the valuable work 
of a cultivated foreigner, giving a detailed account of the 
civilisation of India at this new era in its history. 

This repeated contact of the Indians with foreign in- 
vaders from the West naturally led to mutual influences 
in various branches of literature. 


With regard to the Epics, we find the statement of 
the Greek rhetorician Dio Chrysostomos (50-117 A.D.) 
that the Indians sang in their own language the poetry 
of Homer, the sorrows of Priam, the laments of Andro- 
mache and Hecuba, the valour of Achilles and Hector. 
The similarity of some of the leading characters of the 
Mahdbhdrata, to which the Greek writer evidently alludes, 
caused him to suppose that the Indian epic was a trans- 
lation of the Iliad. There is, however, no connection of 
of any kind between the two poems. Nor does Professor 
Weber's assumption of Greek influence on the Rdmd- 
yana appear to have any sufficient basis (p. 307). 

The view has been held that the worship of Krishna, 
who, as we have seen, plays an important part in the 
Mahdbhdrata, arose under the influence of Christianity, 
with which it certainly has some rather striking points 
of resemblance. This theory is, however, rendered im- 
probable, at least as far as the origin of the cult of 
Krishna is concerned, by the conclusions at which we 
have arrived regarding the age of the Mahdbhdrata (pp. 
286-287), as well as by the statements of Megasthenes, 
which indicate that Krishna was deified and worshipped 
some centuries before the beginning of our era. We 
know, moreover, from the Mahdbhdshya that the story of 
Krishna was the subject of dramatic representations in 
the second or, at latest, the first century before the birth 
of Christ. 

It is an interesting question whether the Indian drama 
has any genetic connection with that of Greece. It 
must be admitted that opportunities for such a con- 
nection may have existed during the first three centuries 
preceding our era. On his expedition to India, Alex- 
ander was accompanied by numerous artists, among 


whom there may have been actors. Seleucus gave his 
daughter in marriage to Chandragupta, and both that 
ruler and Ptolemy II. maintained relations with the 
court of Pataliputra by means of ambassadors. Greek 
dynasties ruled in Western India for nearly two centuries. 
Alexandria was connected by a lively commerce with 
the town called by the Greeks Barygaza (now Broach), 
at the mouth of the Narmada (Nerbudda) in Gujarat ; 
with the latter town was united by a trade route the city 
of UjjayinI (Greek Ozene), which in consequence reached 
a high pitch of prosperity. Philostratus (second century 
A.D.), not it is true a very trustworthy authority, states 
in his Life of Apollonius of Tyana, who visited India 
about 50 A.D., that Greek literature was held in high 
esteem by the Brahmans. Indian inscriptions mention 
Yavana or Greek girls sent to India as tribute, and 
Sanskrit authors, especially Kalidasa, describe Indian 
princes as waited on by them. Professor Weber has 
even conjectured that the Indian god of love, Kama, 
bears a dolphin {inakard) in his banner, like the Greek 
Eros, through the influence of Greek courtesans. 

The existence of such conditions has induced Pro- 
fessor Weber to believe that the representations of 
Greek plays, which must have taken place at the courts 
of Greek princes in Bactria, in the Panjab, and in Gujarat, 
suggested the drama to the Indians as a subject for imi- 
tation. This theory is supported by the fact that the 
curtain of the Indian stage is called yavanikd or the 
" Greek partition." Weber at the same time admits that 
there is no internal connection between the Indian and 
the Greek drama. 

Professor Windisch, however, went further, and main- 
tained such internal connection. It was, indeed, impos- 


sible for him to point out any affinity to the Greek 
tragedy, but he thought he could trace in the Mriccha- 
katika the influence of the new Attic comedy, which 
reached its zenith with Menander about 300 B.C. The 
points in which that play resembles this later Greek 
comedy are fewer and slighter in other Sanskrit dramas, 
and can easily be explained as independently developed 
in India. The improbability of the theory is emphasised 
by the still greater affinity of the Indian drama to that 
of Shakespeare. It is doubtful whether Greek plays 
were ever actually performed in India ; at any rate, no 
references to such performances have been preserved. 
The earliest Sanskrit plays extant are, moreover, sepa- 
rated from the Greek period by at least four hundred 
years. The Indian drama has had a thoroughly national 
development, and even its origin, though obscure, easily 
admits of an indigenous explanation. The name of the 
curtain, yavanikd, may, indeed, be a reminiscence ot 
Greek plays actually seen in India ; but it is uncertain 
whether the Greek theatre had a curtain at all ; in any 
case, it did not form the background of the stage. 

It is a fact worth noting, that the beginning of one 
of the most famous of modern European dramas has 
been modelled on that of a celebrated Sanskrit play. 
The prelude of ^akuntald suggested to Goethe the plan 
of the prologue on the stage in Faust, where the stage- 
manager, the merryandrew, and the poet converse 
regarding the play about to be performed (cf. p. 351). 
Forster's German translation of Kalidasa's masterpiece 
appeared in 1791, and the profound impression it pro- 
duced on Goethe is proved by the well-known epigram 
he composed on ^akuntald in the same year. The im- 
pression was a lasting one ; for the theatre prologue 


of Faust was not written till 1797, and as late as 1830 
the poet thought of adapting the Indian play for the 
Weimar stage. 

If in epic and dramatic poetry hardly any definite 
influences can be traced between India and the West, 
how different is the case in the domain of fables and 
fairy tales \ The story of the migration of these from 
India certainly forms the most romantic chapter in the 
literary history of the world. 

We know that in the sixth century A.D. there existed 
in India a Buddhist collection of fables, in which ani- 
mals play the part of human beings (cf. p. 369). By the 
command of the Sassanian king, Khosru Anushlrvan 
(531-579), this work was translated by a Persian 
physician named Barzoi into Pehlevi. Both this ver- 
sion and the unmodified original have been lost, but two 
early and notable translations from the Pehlevi have 
been preserved. The Syriac one was made about 570 
A.D., and called Kalilag and Damnag. A manuscript of 
it was found by chance in 1870, and, becoming known 
to scholars by a wonderful chapter of lucky accidents, 
was published in 1876. The Arabic translation from 
the Pehlevi, entitled Kalllah and Dimnah, or " Fables of 
Pilpay," was made in the eighth century by a Persian 
convert to Islam, who died about 760 A.D. In this trans- 
lation a wicked king is represented to be reclaimed to 
virtue by a Brahman philosopher named Bidbah, a word 
which has been satisfactorily traced through Pehlevi 
to the Sanskrit vidyapati, " master of sciences," " chief 
scholar." From this bidbah is derived the modern 
Bidpai or Pilpay, which is thus not a proper name 
at all. 

This Arabic version is of great importance, as the 


source of other versions which exercised very great 
influence in shaping the literature of the Middle Ages 
in Europe. These versions of it were the later Syriac 
(c. iooo A.D.), the Greek (1180), the Persian (c. 1130), 
recast later (c. 1494) under the title of Anvdr-i-Suhaili, 
or "Lights of Canopus," the old Spanish (1251), and the 
Hebrew one made about 1250. 

The fourth stratum of translation is represented by 
John of Capua's rendering of the Hebrew version into 
Latin [c. 1270), entitled Dii'ectorium Humance Vitce y which 
was printed about 1480. 

From John of Capua's work was made, at the in- 
stance of Duke Eberhardt of Wurtemberg, the famous 
German version, Das Buck der Byspel der alten Wysen, or 
" Book of Apologues of the Ancient Sages," first printed 
about 1481. The fact that four dated editions appeared 
at Ulm between 1483 and 1485, and thirteen more down 
to 1592, is a sufficiently eloquent proof of the importance 
of this work as a means of instruction and amusement 
during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Direc- 
torium was also the source of the Italian version, printed 
at Venice in 1552, from which came the English transla- 
tion of Sir Thomas North (1570). The latter was thus 
separated from the Indian original by five intervening 
translations and a thousand years of time. 

It is interesting to note the changes which tales 
undergo in the course of such wanderings. In the 
second edition of his Fables (1678), La Fontaine acknow- 
ledges his indebtedness for a large part of his work to 
the Indian sage Pilpay. A well-known story in the 
French writer is that of the milkmaid, who, while carry- 
ing a pail of milk on her head to market, and building 
all kinds of castles in the air with the future proceeds 


of the sale of the milk, suddenly gives a jump of joy at 
the prospect of her approaching fortune, and thereby 
shatters the pail to pieces on the ground. This is only 
a transformation of a story still preserved in *the Pancha- 
tantra. Here it is a Brahman who, having filled an 
alms-bowl with the remnants of some rice-pap he has 
begged, hangs it up on a nail in the wall above his 
bed. He dreams of the money he will procure by 
selling the rice when a famine breaks out. Then he 
will gradually acquire cattle, buy a fine house, and 
marry a beautiful girl with a rich dowry. One day 
when he calls to his wife to take away his son who is 
playing about, and she does not hear, he will rise up 
to give her a kick. As this thought passes through his 
mind, his foot shatters the alms-bowl, the contents of 
which are spilt all over him. 

Another Panchatantra story recurring in La Fontaine 
is that of the too avaricious jackal. Finding the dead 
bodies of a boar and a hunter, besides the bow of the 
latter, he resolves on devouring the bowstring first. As 
soon as he begins to gnaw, the bow starts asunder, 
pierces his head, and kills him. In La Fontaine the 
jackal has become a wolf, and the latter is killed by 
the arrow shot off as he touches the bow. 

Nothing, perhaps, in the history of the migration 
of Indian tales is more remarkable than the story of 
Barlaam and Josaphat. At the court of Khalif Almansur 
(753-774), under whom Kalllah and Dimnah was trans- 
lated into Arabic, there lived a Christian known as 
John of Damascus, who wrote in Greek the story of 
Barlaam and Josaphat as a manual of Christian theology. 
This became one of the most popular books of the 
Middle Ages, being translated into many Oriental as 


well as European languages. It is enlivened by a 
number of fables and parables, most of which have 
been traced to Indian sources. The very hero of the 
story, Prince Josaphat, has an Indian origin, being, 
in fact, no other than Buddha. The name has been 
shown to be a corruption of Bodhisattva, a well-known 
designation of the Indian reformer. Josaphat rose to 
the rank of a saint both in the Greek and the Roman 
Church, his day in the former being August 26, in the 
latter November 27. That the founder of an atheistic 
Oriental religion should have developed into a Christian 
saint is one of the most astounding facts in religious 

Though Europe was thus undoubtedly indebted to 
India for its mediaeval literature of fairy tales and fables, 
the Indian claim to priority of origin in ancient times is 
somewhat Rubious. A certain number of apologues found 
in the collections of ^Esop and Babrius are distinctly 
related to Indian fables. The Indian claim is supported 
by the argument that the relation of the jackal to the 
lion is a natural one in the Indian fable, while the 
connection of the fox and the lion in Greece has no 
basis in fact. On the other side it has been urged 
that animals and birds which are peculiar to India 
play but a minor part in Indian fables, while there 
exists a Greek representation of the ^Esopian fable of 
the fox and the raven, dating from the sixth century 
B.C. Weber and Benfey both conclude that the Indians 
borrowed a few fables from the Greeks, admitting at 
the same time that the Indians had independent fables 
of their own before. Rudimentary fables are found 
even in the Chhdndogya Upanishad y and the transmigra- 
tion theory would have favoured the development of this 


form of tale ; indeed Buddha himself in the old Jdtaka 
stories appears in the form of various animals. 

Contemporaneously with the fable literature, the 
most intellectual game the world has known began 
its westward migration from India. Chess in Sanskrit 
is called chatur-anga> or the " four-limbed army," 
because it represents a kriegspiel, in which two armies, 
consisting of infantry, cavalry, chariots, and elephants, 
each led by a king and his councillor, are opposed. 
The earliest direct mention of the game in Sanskrit 
literature is found in the works of Bana, and the Kdv- 
ydlamkdra of Rudrata, a Kashmirian poet of the ninth 
century, contains a metrical puzzle illustrating the 
moves of the chariot, the elephant, and the horse. 
Introduced into Persia in the sixth century, chess was 
brought by the Arabs to Europe, where it was generally 
known by 1100 A.D. It has left its maris on medi- 
aeval poetry, on the idioms of European languages 
{e.g. " check," from the Persian shah y " king "), on the 
science of arithmetic in the calculation of progressions 
with the chessboard, and even in heraldry, where the 
"rook" often figures in coats of arms. Beside the fable 
literature of India, this Indian game served to while 
away the tedious life of myriads during the Middle Ages 
in Europe. 

Turning to Philosophical Literature, we find that the 
early Greek and Indian philosophers have many points 
in common. Some of the leading doctrines of the 
Eleatics, that God and the universe are one, that every- 
thing existing in multiplicity has no reality, that think- 
ing and being are identical, are all to be found in the 
philosophy of the Upanishads and the Vedanta system, 
which is its outcome. Again, the doctrine of Empe- 


docles, that nothing can arise which has not existed 
before, and that nothing existing can be annihilated, 
has its exact parallel in the characteristic doctrine of 
the Sankhya system about the eternity and indestructi- 
bility of matter. According to Greek tradition, Thales, 
Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Democritus, and others under- 
took journeys to Oriental countries in order to study 
philosophy. Hence there is at least the historical pos- 
sibility of the Greeks having been influenced by Indian 
thought through Persia. 

Whatever may be the truth in the cases just men- 
tioned, the dependence of Pythagoras on Indian philo- 
sophy and science certainly seems to have a high degree 
of probability. Almost all the doctrines ascribed to him, 
religious, philosophical, mathematical, were known in 
India in the sixth century B.C. The coincidences are 
so numerous that their cumulative force becomes con- 
siderable. The transmigration theory, the assumption 
of five elements, the Pythagorean theorem in geometry, 
the prohibition as to eating beans, the religio-philoso- 
phical character of the Pythagorean fraternity, and the 
mystical speculations of the Pythagorean school, all 
have their close parallels in ancient India. The doctrine 
of metempsychosis in the case of Pythagoras appears 
without any connection or explanatory background, 
and was regarded by the Greeks as of foreign origin. He 
could not have derived it from Egypt, as it was not 
known to the ancient Egyptians. In spite, however, of 
the later tradition, it seems impossible that Pythagoras 
should have made his way to India at so early a date, 
but he could quite well have met Indians in Persia. 

Coming to later centuries, we find indications that the 
Neo-Platonist philosophy may have been influenced by 


the Sankhya system, which flourished in the first cen- 
turies of our era, and could easily have become known 
at Alexandria owing to the lively intercourse between 
that city and India at the time. From this source 
Plotinus (204-269 A.D.), chief of the Neo-Platonists, may 
have derived his doctrine that soul is free from suffering, 
which belongs only to matter, his identification of soul 
with light, and his illustrative use of the mirror, in 
which the reflections of objects appear, for the pur- 
pose of explaining the phenomena of consciousness. 
The influence of the Yoga system on Plotinus is sug- 
gested by his requirement that man should renounce the 
world of sense and strive after truth by contemplation. 
Connection with Sankhya ideas is still more likely 
in the case of Plotinus'^ most eminent pupil, Porphyry 
(232-304 A.D.), who lays particular stress on the differ- 
ence between soul and matter, on the omnipresence of 
soul when freed from the bonds of matter, and on the 
doctrine that the world has no beginning. It is also 
noteworthy that he rejects sacrifice and prohibits the 
killing of animals. 

The influence of Indian philosophy on Christian 
Gnosticism in the second and third centuries seems at 
any rate undoubted. The Gnostic doctrine of the oppo- 
sition between soul and matter, of the personal exist- 
ence of intellect, will, and so forth, the identification of 
soul and light, are derived from the Sankhya system. 
The division, peculiar to several Gnostics, of men into 
the three classes of pneumatikoi, psychikoi, and hylikoi, is 
also based on the Sankhya doctrine of the three gunas. 
Again, Bardesanes, a Gnostic of the Syrian school, who 
obtained information about India from Indian philoso- 
phers, assumed the existence of a subtle ethereal body 


which is identical with the linga-qarlra of the Sankhya 
system. Finally, the many heavens of the Gnostics are 
evidently derived from the fantastic cosmogony of later 

With regard to the present century, the influence of 
Indian thought on the pessimistic philosophy of Schopen- 
hauer and Von Hartmann is well known. How great 
an impression the Upanishads produced on the former, 
even in a second-hand Latin translation, may be in- 
ferred from his writing that they were his consolation 
in life and would be so in death. 

In Science, too, the debt of Europe to India has been 
considerable. There is, in the first place, the great fact 
that the Indians invented the numerical figures used all 
over the world. The influence which the decimal system 
of reckoning dependent on those figures has had not only 
on mathematics, but on the progress of civilisation in 
general, can hardly be over-estimated. During the eighth 
and ninth centuries the Indians became the teachers in 
arithmetic and algebra of the Arabs, and through them of 
the nations of the West. Thus, though we call the latter 
science by an Arabic name, it is a gift we owe to India. 

In Geometry the points of contact between the Culva 
Sutras and the work of the Greeks are so considerable, 
that, according to Cantor, the historian of mathematics, 
borrowing must have taken place on one side or the 
other. In the opinion of that authority, the (Julva Sutras 
were influenced by the Alexandrian geometry of Hero 
(215 B.C.), which, he thinks, came to India after 100 B.C. 
The (^ulva Sutras are, however, probably far earlier than 
that date, for they form an integral portion of the (Jrauta 
Sutras, and their geometry is a part of the Brahmanical 
theology, having taken its rise in India from practical 


motives as much as the science of grammar. The prose 
parts of the Yajurvedas and the Brahmanas constantly 
speak of the arrangement of the sacrificial ground and 
the construction of altars according to very strict rules, 
the slightest deviation from which might cause the 
greatest disaster. It is not likely that the exclusive Brah- 
mans should have been willing to borrow anything^ 
closely connected with their religion from foreigners. 

Of Astronomy the ancient Indians had but slight 
independent knowledge. It is probable that they derived 
their early acquaintance with the twenty-eight divisions 
of the moon's orbit from the Chaldeans through their 
commercial relations with the Phoenicians. Indian 
astronomy did not really begin to flourish till it was 
affected by that of Greece ; it is indeed the one science 
in which undoubtedly strong Greek influence can be 
proved. The debt which the native astronomers always 
acknowledge they owe to the Yavanas is sufficiently 
obvious from the numerous Greek terms in Indian astro- 
nomical writings. Thus, in Varaha Mihira's Hora-cdstra 
the signs of the zodiac are enumerated either by Sans- 
krit names translated from the Greek or by the original 
Greek names, as Ara for Ares y Heli for Helios , Jyau for 
Zeus. Many technical terms were directly borrowed from 
Greek works, as kendra for kentron, jdmitra for diame- 
tron. Some of the very names of the oldest astronomi- 
cal treatises of the Indians indicate their Western origin. 
Thus the Romaka-siddhd7ita means the "Roman manual." 
The title of Varaha Mihira's Hord-cdstra contains the 
Greek word hord. 

In a few respects, however, the Indians independently 
advanced astronomical science further than the Greeks 
themselves, and at a later period they in their turn 


influenced the West even in astronomy. For in the 
eighth and ninth centuries they became the teachers of 
the Arabs in this science also. The siddhdntas (Arabic 
Sind Hind) y the writings of Aryabhata (called Arjehlr), 
and the Ahargana (Arkand), attributed to Brahmagupta, 
were translated or adapted by the Arabs, and Khalifs of 
Bagdad repeatedly summoned Indian astronomers to 
their court to supervise this work. Through the Arabs, 
Indian astronomy then migrated to Europe, which in 
this case only received back in a roundabout way what 
it had given long before. Thus the Sanskrit word uchcha, 
"apex of a planet's orbit," was borrowed in the form 
of aux (gen. aug-is) in Latin translations of Arabic 

After Bhaskara (twelfth century), Hindu astronomy, 
ceasing to make further progress, became once more 
merged in the astrology from which it had sprung. It 
was now the turn of the Arabs, and, by a strange inver- 
sion of things, an Arabic writer of the ninth century who 
had written on Indian astronomy and arithmetic, in this 
period became an object of study to the Hindus. The 
old Greek terms remained, but new Arabic ones were 
added as the necessity for them arose. 

The question as to whether Indian Medical Science 
in its earlier period was affected by that of the Greeks 
cannot yet be answered with certainty, the two systems 
not having hitherto been compared with sufficient care. 
Recently, however, some close parallels have been dis- 
covered between the works of Hippocrates and Charaka 
(according to a Chinese authority, the official physician 
of King Kanishka), which render Greek influence before 
the beginning of our era likely. 

On the other hand, the effect of Hindu medical 


science upon the Arabs after about 700 A.D. was con- 
siderable, for the Khalifs of Bagdad caused several books 
on the subject to be translated. The works of Charaka 
and Sucruta (probably not later than the fourth century 
A.D.) were rendered into Arabic at the close of the 
eighth century, and are quoted as authorities by the cele- 
brated Arabic physician Al-Razi, who died in 932 A.D. 
Arabic medicine in its turn became the chief authority, 
down to the seventeenth century, of European physi- 
cians. By the latter Indian medical authors must have 
been thought highly of, for Charaka is repeatedly men- 
tioned in the Latin translations of the Arab writers 
Avicenna (Ibn Slna), Rhazes (Al-Razi), and Serapion (Ibn 
Sarafyun). In modern days European surgery has bor- 
rowed the operation of rhinoplasty, or the formation of 
artificial noses, from India, where Englishmen became 
acquainted with the art in the last century. 

We have already seen that the discovery of the 
Sanskrit language and literature led, in the present 
century, to the foundation of the two new sciences of 
Comparative Mythology and Comparative Philology. 
Through the latter it has even affected the practical 
school-teaching of the classical languages in Europe. 
The interest in Buddhism has already produced an 
immense literature in Europe. Some of the finest lyrics 
of Heine, and works like Sir Edwin Arnold's Light of 
Asia, to mention only a few instances, have drawn their 
inspiration from Sanskrit poetry. The intellectual debt 
of Europe to Sanskrit literature has thus been un- 
deniably great ; it may perhaps become greater still in 
the years that are to come. 



On Sanskrit legal literature in general, consult the very 
valuable work of Jolly, Recht und Sitte, in Biihler's Ency- 
clopedia, 1896 (complete bibliography). There are several 
secondary Dharma Sutras of the post-Vedic period. The 
most important of these is the Vaishnava Dharma fdstra 
or Vishnu Smriti (closely connected with the Kathaka 
Grihya Siitra), not earlier than 200 A.D. in its final redac- 
tion (ed. by Jolly, Calcutta, 1881, trans, by him in the Sacred 
Books of the East, Oxford, 1880). The regular post-Vedic 
lawbooks are metrical (mostly in clokas). They are much 
wider in scope than the Dharma Sutras, which are limited 
to matters connected with religion. The most impor- 
tant and earliest of the metrical Smritis is the Manava 
Dharma fdstra, or Code of Manu, not improbably based 
on a Manava Dharma Sutra, It is closely connected 
with the Mahabharata, of which three books alone (iii., 
xii., xvi.) contain as many as 260 of its 2684 clokas. It 
probably assumed its present shape not much later than 
200 A.D. It was ed. by Jolly, London, 1887 ; trans, by 
Biihler, with valuable introd., in the Sacred Books, Oxford, 
1886 ; also trans, by Burnell (ed. by Hopkins), London, 
1884; text ed., with seven comm., by Mandlik, Bombay, 
1886 ; text, with Kulluka's comm., Bombay, 1888, better 
than Nirn. Sag. Pr., ed. 1887. Next comes the Yajnavalkya 
Dharma fdstra, which is much more concise (1009 clokas). 

It was probably based on a Dharma Sutra of the White 



Yajurveda ; its third section resembles the Pdraskara 
Grihya Sutra, but it is unmistakably connected with the 
Mdnava Grihya Sutra of the Black Yajurveda. Its ap- 
proximate date seems to be about 350 a.d. Its author 
probably belonged to Mithila, capital of Videha (Tirhut). 
Ydjnavalkya, ed. and trans, by- Stenzler, Berlin, 1849 ; 
with comm. Mitdkshard, 3rd ed., Bombay, 1892. The 
Ndrada Smriti is the first to limit dharma to law in the 
strict sense. It contains more than 12,000 clokas, and 
appears to have been founded chiefly on Manu. Bana 
mentions a Ndradiya Dharma fdstra, and Narada was 
annotated by one of the earliest legal commentators in 
the eighth century. His date is probably about 500 A.D. 
Ndrada } ed. by Jolly, Calcutta, 1885, trans, by him in 
Sacred Books, vol. xxxiii. 1889. A late lawbook is the 
Pardcara Smriti (anterior to 1300 A.D.), ed. in Bombay 
Sansk. Series, 1893 ; trans. Bibl. Ind., 1887. The second 
stage of post-Vedic legal literature is formed by the com- 
mentaries. The oldest one preserved is that of Medha- 
tithi on Manu ; he dates from about 900 A.D. The most 
famous comm. on Manu is that of Kulluka-bhatta, com- 
posed at Benares in the fifteenth century, but it is nothing 
more than a plagiarism of Govindaraja, a commentator 
of the twelfth century. The most celebrated comm. on 
Ydjnavalkya is the Mitdkshard of Vijnanecvara, com- 
posed about 1 100 A.D. It early attained to the position 
of a standard work, not only in the Dekhan, but even 
in Benares and a great part of Northern India. In the 
present century it acquired the greatest importance in 
the practice of the Anglo-Indian law-courts through 
Colebrooke's translation of the section which it contains 
on the law of inheritance. From about 1000 A.D. 
onwards, an innumerable multitude of legal compendia, 
called Dharma-nibandhas, was produced in India. The 
most imposing of them is the voluminous work in five 


parts entitled Chaturvarga-chintdmani, composed by 
Hemadri about 1300 a.d. It hardly treats of law at 
all, but is a perfect mine of interesting quotations from 
the Smritis and the Puranas ; it has been edited in the 
Bibl. Ind. The Dha7'maratna of Jimutavahana (probably 
fifteenth century) may here be mentioned, because part of 
it is the famous treatise on the law of inheritance entitled 
Ddyabhdga, which is the chief work of the Bengal School 
on the subject, and was translated by Colebrooke. It 
should be noted that the Indian Smritis are not on the 
same footing as the lawbooks of other nations, but are 
works of private individuals ; they were also written by 
Brahmans for Brahmans, whose caste pretensions they 
consequently exaggerate. It is therefore important to 
check their statements by outside evidence. 


No work of a directly historical character is met 
with in Sanskrit literature till after the Muhammadan 
conquest. This is the Rdjatarangini, or " River of 
Kings," a chronicle of the kings of Kashmir, begun by 
its author, Kalhana, in 1148 A.D. It contains nearly 8000 
qlokas. The early part of the work is legendary in 
character. The poet does not become historical till he 
approaches his own times. This work (ed. M. A. Stein, 
Bombay, 1892 ; trans, by Y. C. Datta, Calc, 1898) is of 
considerable value for the archaeology and chronology 
of Kashmir. 


On the native grammatical literature see especially 
Wackernagel, Altindische Grammatik y vol. i. p. lix. sqq. 
The oldest grammar preserved is that of Panini, who, 
however, mentions no fewer than sixty-four predeces- 


sors. He belonged to the extreme north-west of India, 
and probably flourished about 300 B.C. His work con- 
sists of nearly 4000 sutras divided into eight chapters ; 
text with German trans., ed. by Bohtlingk, Leipsic, 1887. 
Panini had before him a list of irregularly formed words, 
which survives, in a somewhat modified form, as the 
Unddi Sutra (ed. by Aufrecht, with Ujjvaladatta's comm., 
Bonn, 1859). There are also two appendixes to which 
Panini refers : one is the Dhatupdtha, u List of Verbal 
Roots," containing some 2000 roots, of which only about 
800 have been found in Sanskrit literature, and from 
which about fifty Vedic verbs are omitted ; the second 
is the Ganapdtha, or " List of Word-Groups," to which 
certain rules apply. These ganas were metrically ar- 
ranged in the Ganaratna-mahodadhi, composed by Vardha- 
mana im 1140 A.D. (ed. by Eggeling, London, 1879). 
Among the earliest attempts to explain Panini was the 
formulation of rules of interpretation or paribhdshds ; a 
collection of these was made in the last, century by Nago- 
jibhatta in his Paribhdshenduqekhara (ed. by Kielhorn, 
Bombay Sansk. Sen, 1868 and 1871). Next we have 
the Vdrttikas or " Notes " of Katyayana (probably third 
century B.C.) on 1245 of Panini's rules, and, somewhat 
later, numerous grammatical Kdrikds or comments in 
metrical form : all this critical work was collected by 
Patanjali in his Mahdbhdshya or " Great Commentary," 
with supplementary comments of his own (ed. Kielhorn, 
3 vols., Bombay). He deals with 1713 rules of Panini. 
He probably lived in the later half of the second cen- 
tury B.C., and in any case not later than the beginning 
of our era. The Mahdbhdshya was commented on in 
the seventh century by Bhartrihari in his Vdkyapadzya 
(ed. in Benares Sansk. Ser.), which is concerned with 
the philosophy of grammar, and by Kaiyata (probably 
thirteenth century). About 650 A.D. was composed the 


first complete comm. on Panini, the Kdgikd Vritti or 
" Benares Commentary," by Jayaditya and Vamana 
(2nd ed. Benares, 1898). In the fifteenth century Rama- 
chandra, in his Prakriyd-kaumudl y or " Moonlight of 
Method," endeavoured to make Panini's grammar easier 
by a more practical arrangement of its matter. Bhattoji's 
Siddhdnta-kaumudl (seventeenth century) has a similar 
aim (ed. Nirnaya Sagara Press, Bombay, 1894); an 
abridgment of this work, the Laghu-kaumudl y by Vara- 
daraja (ed. Ballantyne, with English trans., 4th ed., 
Benares, '1891), is commonly used as an introduction to 
the native system of grammar. Among non-Paninean 
grammarians may be mentioned Chandra (about 600 
A.D.), the pseudo-Cakatayana (later than the Kdgikd), 
and, the most important, Hemachandra (12th cent.), 
author of a Prakrit grammar (ed. and trans, by- Pischel, 
two vols., Halle, 1877-80), and of the Unadigana Sutra 
(ed. Kirste, Vienna, 1895). The Kdtantra of (Jarvavar- 
man (ed. Eggeling, BibL Ind.) seems to have been the 
most influential of the later grammars. Vararuchi's Prd- 
krita-prakdqa is a Prakrit grammar (ed. by Cowell, 2nd 
ed., 1868). The Mugdhabodha (13th cent.) of Vopa- 
deva is the Sanskrit grammar chiefly used in Bengal. 
The Phit Sutra (later than Patanjali) gives rules for the 
accentuation of nouns (ed. Kielhorn, 1866) ; Hemachan- 
dra's Lingdnuqdsana is a treatise on gender (ed. Franke, 
Gottingen, 1886). Among European grammars that of 
Whitney was the first to attempt a historical treatment 
of the Vedic and Sanskrit language. The first grammar 
treating Sanskrit from the comparative point of view is 
the excellent work of Wackernagel, of which, however, 
only the first part (phonology) has yet appeared. The 
present writer's abridgment (London, 1886) of Max 
Muller's Sanskrit Grammar is a practical work for the 
use of beginners of Classical Sanskrit. 



Zachariae in Die indischen Worterbiicher (in Biihler's 
Encyclopedia, 1897) deals with the subject as a whole 
(complete bibliography). The Sanskrit dictionaries or 
kocas are collections of rare words or significations for 
the use of poets. They are all versified ; alphabetical 
order is entirely absent in the synonymous and only in- 
cipient in the homonymous class. The Amarakoca (ed. 
with Mahecvara's comm., Bombay), occupies the same 
dominant position in lexicography as Panini in grammar, 
not improbably composed about 500 A.D. A supplement 
to it is the Trikdnda-cesha by Purushottamadeva (per- 
haps as late as 1300 A.D.). (^acvata's Anekdrtha-samuch- 
chaya (ed. Zachariae, 1882) is possibly older than Amara. 
Halayudha's Abhidhdnaratnamdld dates from about 950 
A.D. (ed. Aufrecht, London, 1861). About a century 
later is Yadavaprakaga's Vaijayantl (ed. Oppert, Madras, 
1893). The Vicvaprakaca of Mahecvara Kavi dates from 
in 1 A.D. The Mankha-koca (ed. Zachariae, Bombay, 
1897) was composed in Kashmir about 1150 A.D. Hema- 
chandra (1088-1172 A.D.) composed four dictionaries: 
Abhidhdna-chintdmani, synonyms (ed. Bohtlingk and 
Rieu, St. Petersburg, 1847); Anekdrtlia - samgraha, 
homonyms (ed. Zachariae, Vienna, 1893) ; Declndma- 
mdldy 2. Prakrit dictionary (ed. Pischel, Bombay, 1880) ; 
and Nighaiitu-cesha y a botanical glossary, which forms a 
supplement to his synonymous koca. 


Cf. Sylvain Levi, Theatre Indien, pp. 1-2 1 ; Regnaud, 
La Rhetorique Sanskrite, Paris, 1884 ; Jacob, Notes on 
Alamkara Literature, in Journal of the Roy. As. Sac, 1897, 


1898. The oldest and most important work on poetics 
is the Natya fdstra of Bharata, which probably goes 
back to the sixth century A.D. (ed. in Kdvyamdla, No. 
42, Bombay, 1894; ed. by Grosset, Lyons, 1897). Dan- 
din's Kavyadarca (end of sixth century) contains about 
650 clokas (ed. with trans, by Bohtlingk, Leipsic, 1890). 
Vamana's Kdvyalamkaravritti, probably eighth century 
(ed. Cappeller, Jena, 1875). ^ringara-tilaka, or " Orna- 
ment of Erotics," by Rudrabhata (ninth century), ed. by 
Pischel, Kiel, 1886 (cf. J ournal of German Or. Soc. } 1888, 
p. 296 If., 425 ff. ; Vienna Or, Journal, ii. p. 151 ff.). 
Rudrata (^atananda's Kdvyalamkara (ed. in Kdvyamdla) 
belongs to the ninth century. Dhanamjaya's Dacarupa, 
on the ten kinds of drama, belongs to the tenth century 
(ed. Hall, 1865; with comm. Nirnaya Sagara Press, 
Bombay, 1897). The Kavyaprakaca by Mammata and 
Alata dates from about 1100 (ed. in the Pandit, 1897). 
The Sdhityadarpana was composed in Eastern Bengal 
about 1450 A.D., by Vigvanatha Kaviraja (ed. ]. Vidyasa- 
gara, Calcutta, 1895 ; trans, by Ballantyne in Bibl. Ind.). 

Mathematics and Astronomy. 

The only work dealing with this subject as a whole 
is Thibaut's Astronomie, Astrologie und Mathematik, in 
Buhler-Kielhorn's Encyclopedia, 1899 (full bibliography). 
See also Cantor, Geschichte der Mathematik, pp. 505-562, 
Leipsic, 1880. Mathematics are dealt with in special chap- / 
ters of the works of the early Indian astronomers. In 
algebra they attained an eminence far exceeding anything 
ever achieved by the Greeks. The earliest works of scien- - 
tine Indian astronomy (after about 300 A.D.) were four 
treatises called Siddhdntas ; only one, the Suryasiddhdnta 
(ed. and trans, by Whitney, Journ. Am. Or. Soc, vol. vi.), 
has survived. The doctrines of such early works were 


reduced to a more concise and practical form by Arya- 
bhata, born, as he tells us himself, at Pataliputra in 
476 A.D. He maintained the rotation of the earth round 
its axis (a doctrine not unknown to the Greeks), and 
explained the cause of eclipses of the sun and moon. 
Mathematics are treated in the third section of his work, 
the Aryabhatiya (ed. with comm. by Kern, Leyden, 1874; 
math, section trans, by Rodet, Journal Asiatique, 1879). 
Varaha Mihira, born near Ujjain, began his calcula- 
tions about 505 A.D., and, according to one of his com- 
mentators, died in 587 A.D. He composed four works, 
written for the most part in the Aryd metre ; three are 
astrological : the Brihat-samhitd (ed. Kern, BibL Ind., 
1864, 1865, trans, in Journ. As. Soc, vol. iv. ; new ed. 
with comm. of Bhattotpala by S. Dvivedl, Benares, 
1895-97), the Brihaj-jdtaka (or Hord-qdstra, trans, by C. 
Jyer, Madras, 1885), and the Laghu-jdtaka (partly trans. 
by Weber, Ind. Stud., vol. ii., and by Jacobi, 1872). His 
Pancha-siddhdntikd (ed. and for the most part trans, by 
Thibaut and S. Dvivedl, Benares, 1889), based on five 
siddhdntasy is a karana or practical astronomical treatise. 
Another distinguished astronomer was Brahmagupta, 
who, born in 598 A.D., wrote, besides a karana, his 
Brahma Sphuta-siddhanta when thirty years old (chaps, 
xii. and xviii. are mathematical). The last eminent 
Indian astronomer was Bhaskaracharya, born in 11 14 
A.D. His Siddhdnta-giromani has enjoyed more autho- 
rity in India than any other astronomical work except 
the Surya-siddhdnta. 


Indian medical science must have begun to develop 
before the beginning of our era, for one of its chief 
authorities, Charaka, was, according to the Chinese 


translation of the Buddhist Tripitaka, the official physi- 
cian of King Kanishka in the first century A.D. His 
work, the Charaka-samhitd, has been edited several times : 
by J. Vidyasagara, 2nd ed., Calcutta, 1896, by Gupta, 
Calcutta, 1897, witn comrn. by C. Dutta, Calcutta, 1892- 
1893 ; trans, by A. C. Kaviratna, Calcutta, 1897. Sugruta, 
the next great authority, seems to have lived not later 
than the fourth century A.D., as the Bower MS. (probably 
fifth century A.D.) contains passages not only parallel 
to, but verbally agreeing with, passages in the works of 
Charaka and Sugruta. (The Sucruta-samhitd, ed. by J. 
Vidyasagara, Calcutta, 3rd ed., 1889 ; A. C. Kaviratna, 
Calcutta, 1888-95 ; trans, by Dutta, 1883, Chattopa- 
dhyaya, 1891, Hoernle, 1897, Calcutta.) The next best 
known medical writer is Vagbhata, author of the Ash- 
tanga- hriday a (ed., with comm. of Arunadatta, by A. M. 
Kunte, Bombay, Nir. Sag. Press, 1891). Cf. also articles 
by Haas in vols, xxx., xxxi., and by A. M tiller in xxxiv. of 
Jour, of Germ. Or. Soc. ; P. Cordier, Etudes sur la Mede- 
cine Hindoue } Paris, 1894 ; Vagbhata et V Astdngahridaya- 
samhitd, Besanc,on, 1896 ; Lietard, Le Medecin Charaka , 
&c, in Bull, de !Ac. de Me'decine, May 11, 1897. 


On Indian music see Raja Sir Sourindro Mohun 
Tagore, Hindu Music from various Authors , Calcutta, 
1875 ; Ambros, Geschichte der Musik, vol. i. pp. 41-80 ; 
Day, The Music and Musical Instruments of Southern 
India and the Deccan, Edinburgh, 1891 ; (^arngadeva's 
Samgltaratnakara y ed. Telang, Anand. Sansk. Ser., 1897 ; 
Somanatha's Ragavibodha, ed. with comm. by P. G. 
Gharpure (parts i.-v.), Poona, 1895. 

On painting and sculpture see E. Moor, The Hindu 
Pantheon, London, 18 10 ; Burgess, Notes on the Bauddha 


Rock Temples of Ajanta, Bombay, 1879; Griffiths Paint- 
ings of the Buddhist Cave Temples of Ajanta, 2 vols., Lon- 
don, 1896-97 ; Burgess, The Gandhdra Sculptures (with 
100 plates), London, 1895 ; Fergusson, Tree and Serpent 
Worship (illustrations of mythology and art in India in 
the first and fourth centuries after Christ), London, 1868 ; 
Cunningham's Reports, i. and iii. (Reliefs from Buddha 
Gay a) ; Griinwedel, Buddhistiche Kunst in Indien, Berlin, 
1893 ; Kern, Manual of Buddhism, in Biihler's Encyclo- 
pcedia, pp. 91-96, Strasburg, 1896; H. H.Wilson, Ariana 
Antiqua, London, 1841. 

On Indian architecture see Fergusson, History of 
Indian and Eastern Architecture, London, 1876 ; The 
Rock- Cut Temples of India, 1864 ; Cunningham, The 
Bhilsa Topes, or Buddhist Monuments of Central India t 
London, 1854; Reports of the Archaeological Survey of 
India, Calcutta, since 1871 ; Mahdbodhi, or the great 
Buddhist Temple under the Bodhi tree at Buddha 
Gaya, London, 1892 ; Burgess, Archaeological Survey 
of Western India and of Southern India ; Daniell, 
Antiquities of India, London, 1800 ; Hindu Excavations 
in the Mountain of El lor a, London, 1816 ; R. Mitra, The 
Antiquities of Orissa, Calcutta, 1875. 

On Technical Arts see fournal of Indian Art and 
Industry (London, begun in 1884). 



On the history of Sanskrit studies see especially Benfey, 
Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft, Munich, 1869. A very valu- 
able work for Sanskrit Bibliography is the annual Orientalische 
Bibliographies Berlin (begun in 1888). Page 1 : Some inaccurate 
information about the religious ideas of the Brahmans may be 
found in Purchas, His Pilgrimage, or Relations of the World and 
the Religions observed in all Ages, 2nd ed., London, 16 14; and 
Lord, A Discoverie of the Sect of the Banians [Hindus], London, 
1630. Abraham Roger, Open Deure, 1631 (contains trans, of 
two centuries of Bhartrihari). Page 2, Dugald Stewart, Philosophy 
of the Human Mind, part 2, chap. i. sect. 6 (conjectures concern- 
ing the origin of Sanskrit). C. W. Wall, D.D., An Essay on the 
Nature, Age, and Origin of the Sanskrit Writing and Language, 
Dublin, 1838. Halhed, A Code of Gentoo [Hindu] Law, or 
Ordinations of the Pandits, from a Persian translation, made from 
the original written in the Shanscrit language, 1776. Page 4: 
F. Schlegel, Ueber die Sprache und Weisheit der Lnder, Heidel- 
berg, 1808. Bopp, Conjugationssystem, Frankfort, 18 16. Cole- 
brooke, On the Vedas, in Asiatic Researches, Calcutta, 1805. P. 
5: Roth, Zur Literatur und Geschichte des Veda, Stuttgart, 1846. 
Bohtlingk and Roth's Sanskrit-German Dictionary, 7 vols., St. 
Petersburg, 1852-75. Biihler's Encyclopcedia of Indo- Aryan 
Research, Strasburg (the parts, some German, some English, 
began to appear in 1896). Page 6 : See especially Aufrecht's 
Catalogus Catalogorum (Leipsic, 1891 ; Supplement, 1896), which 
gives a list of Sanskrit MSS. in the alphabetical order of works 
and authors. Adalbert Kuhn, Herabkunft des Feuers, 1849; 

2nd ed., Giitersloh, 1886. Page n : A valuable book on Indian 



chronology (based on epigraphic and numismatic sources) is 
Duffs The Chronology of India, London, 1899. On the date of 
Buddha's death, cf Oldenberg, Buddha, Berlin, 3rd ed., 1897. 
Page 13: Fa Hian, trans, by Legge, Oxford, 1886; Hiouen 
Thsang, trans, by Beal, Si-yu-ki, London, 1884; / Tsing, trans, by 
Takakusu, Oxford, 1896. Fiihrer, Monograph on Buddha Sakya- 
muni's Birthplace, Arch. Surv. of India, vol. xxvi., Allahabad, 
1897; Alberuni's India, trans, into English by Sachau, London, 
1885. Page 14: Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, vol. i., 1877, 
vol. iii., 1888, Calcutta. Epigraphia Indica, Calcutta, from 1888. 
Important Oriental journals are : Indian Antiquary, Bombay ; 
Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenldndischen Gesellschaft, Leipsic; 
Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, London (with a Bengal 
branch at Calcutta and another at Bombay) ; Journal Asiatique, 
Paris ; Vienna Oriental Journal, Vienna ; Journal of the Ameri- 
can Oriental Society, New Haven, Conn. On the origin of Indian 
writing (pp. 14-20), see Biihler, Indische Falceographie, Stras- 
burg, 1896, and On the Origin of the Indian Brahma Alphabet, 
Strasburg, 1898. Page 18 : The oldest known Sanskrit MSS., now 
in the Bodleian Library, has been reproduced in facsimile by Dr. 
R. Hoernle, The Bower Manuscript, Calcutta, 1897. The Pali 
Kharoshthl &IS. is a Prakrit recension of the Dhammapada, 
found near Khotan ; see Senart, Journal Asiatique, 1898, pp. 
193-304. Page 27: The account here given of the Prakrit 
dialects is based mainly on a monograph of Dr. G. A. Grierson 
(who is now engaged on a linguistic survey of India), The 
Geographical Distribution and Mutual Affinities of the Indo- 
Aryan Vernaculars. On Pali literature, see Rhys Davids, Bud- 
dhism, its History and Literature, London, 1896. On Prakrit 
literature, see Grierson, The Mediceval Vernacular Literature of 
Hindustan,- trans, of 7th Oriental Congress, Vienna, 1888, and 
The Modern Vernacular Literature of Hindustan, Calcutta, 1889. 


On the text and metres of the Rigveda see especially Olden- 
berg, Die Hymnen des Rigveda, vol. i., Prolegomena, Berlin, 


1SS8; on the accent, Wackernagel, Altindische Grammatik, 
vol. i. pp. 281-300 (full bibliography), Gottingen, 1896; on the 
A'igveda in general, Kaegi, The Rigveda, English translation by 
Arrowsmith, Boston, 1886. Editions: Samhita text, ed. Max 
Miiller, London, 1873; Pada text, 1877; Samhita text (in 
Roman characters), ed. Aufrecht, Bonn, 1877 (2nd ed.); Sam- 
hita and Pada text with Sayana's commentary, 2nd ed., 4 vols., 
by Max Miiller, London, 1890-92. Selections in Lanman's 
Sanskrit deader (full notes and vocabulary) ; Peterson's Hymns 
from the Rigveda (Bombay Sanskrit Series) ; A Bergaigne and 
V. Henry's Manuel pour etudier le Sanskrit Vedique, Paris, 
1890; Windisch, Zwblf Hymnen des Rigveda, Leipzig, 1883; 
Hillebrandt, Vedachrestomathie, Berlin, 1885; Bohtlingk, Sans- 
krit- Chrestomathie, 3rd ed., Leipsic, 1897. Translations; R. H. 
T. Griffith, The Rigveda metrically translated into English, 2 vols., 
Benares, 1896-97; Max Miiller, Vedic Hymns (to the Maruts, 
Rudra, Vayu, Vata : prose), in Sacred Books of the East, vol. xxxii., 
Oxford, 1 89 1 ; Oldenberg, Vedic Hymns (to Agni in Books i.-v. : 
prose), ibid., vol. xlvi., 1897 ; A. Ludwig (German prose), 6 
vols., Prag, 1876-88 (introduction, commentary, index). Lexico- 
graphy : Grassmann, Worterbuch zum Rigveda, Leipsic, 1873; 
the Vedic portion of Bohtlingk and Roth's Lexicoil and of Boht- 
lingk's smaller St. Petersburg Dictionary (Leipsic, 1879-89); 
Monier- Williams, Sanskrit- English Dictionary, 2nd ed., Oxford, 
1899; Macdonell, Sanskrit- English Dictionary (for selected 
hymns), London, 1893. Grammar: Whitney, Sanskrit Gram- 
mar, 3rd ed., Leipzig, 1896; Wackernagel, op. cit., vol. i. 
(phonology); Delbriick, Altindische Syntax (vol. v. of Syntak- 
tische Forschungen), Halle, 1888; Speijer, Vedische und Sanskrit 
Syntax in Biihler's Encyclopedia, Strasburg, 1896. 


Consult especially Macdonell, Vedic Mythology, in Biihler's 
Encyclopaedia, vol. iii. part 1 (complete bibliography), 1897 ; also 
Kaegi, op. cit. ; Muir, Original Sanskrit Texts, vol. v., 3rd ed., 


London, 1884; Barth, The Religions of India , English trans., 
London, 1882; Hopkins, The Religions of India, Boston, 1895; 
Oldenberg, Die Religion des Veda, Berlin, 1894; Bergaigne, la 
Religion Vedique, 3 vols., Paris, 1878-83; Pischel and Geldner, 
Vedische Studien, 2 vols., Stuttgart, 1889-92 ; Deussen, Allge- 
meine Geschichte der Philosophic, vol. i. part 1 : Philosophie des 
Veda, Leipsic, 1894. On method of interpretation (pp. 59-64), 
cf. Muir, The Interpretation of the Veda, in the Journal of the Roy. 
As. Soc, 1866. Page 68 : On the modification of the threefold 
division of the universe among the Greeks, cf Kaegi, op. cit., 
note 118. P. 128 : On dice in India and the Vibhidaka tree, cf 
Roth in Gurupujdkaumudl, pp. 1-4, Leipsic, 1896. 


Consult especially Zimmer, Altindisches leben, Berlin, 1879. 
On the home. of the Rigvedic Aryans (p. 145) cf. Hopkins, The 
Panjdb and the Rig- Veda, Journal of the Am. Or. Soc, 1898, 
p. 19 ff. On the Hamsa (p. 150) cf. Lanman, The Milk-drink- 
ing Hahsas of Sanskrit Poetry, ibid., p. 151 ff. On the Vedic 
tribes (pp. 153-157), cf Excursus I. in Oldenberg's Buddha, Berlin, 
1897. On the origin of the castes (p. 160) cf. Oldenberg, Journal 
of the Germ. Or. Soc, 1897, pp. 267-290; R. Fick, Die Sociale 
Gliederung im nordostlichen Indien zu Buddha's Zeit, Kiel, 1897. 


Samaveda : text with German trans, and glossary, ed. by Benfey, 
Leipsic, 1848; by Satyavrata Samagrami, Calcutta, 1873 (Bibl. 
7^/.), trans, by Griffith, Benares, 1893. Yajurveda: i.Vdjasaneyi 
Samhitd, ed. Weber, with the comm. of Mahldhara, London, Ber- 
lin, 1852 ; trans, by Griffith, Benares, 1899 ; 2. Taittirtya Samhitd, 
ed. (in Roman characters) Weber, Berlin, 1871-72 (vols, xi.-xii. of 
Jndische Studien) ; also edited with the comm. of Madhava in the 
Bibl. Ind. ; 3. Maitrdyani Samhitd, ed. (with introduction) by L v. 
Schroeder, Leipsic, 1881-86; 4. Kdthaka Samhitd, ed. in pre- 


paration by the same scholar. Atharvaveda : text ed. Roth and 
Whitney, Berlin, 1856 {index verborum in the Journal of the Am. 
Or. Soc, vol. xii.) j trans, into English verse by Griffith, 2 vols., 
Benares, 1897, and (with the omission of less important hymns) 
by Bloomfield into English prose, with copious notes, vol. xlii. of 
the Sacred Books of the East. Subject-matter : Bloomfield, The 
Atharvaveda in Biihler's Encyclopedia, Strasburg, 1899. 


Aitareya Brahmana, ed. Aufrecht, Bonn, 1879 (best edition); 
ed. and trans, by Haug, 2 vols., Bombay, 1863; Kaushltaki or 
fdnkhdyana Brahmana, ed. Lindner, Jena, 1887; Aitareya 
Aranyaka, ed. R. Mitra, Calcutta, 1876 {Bib I. Ind.) ; Kaushltaki 
Aranyaka, unedited; Tdndya Mahdbrdhmana or Panchavimca 
Brahmana, ed. A. Vedantavagica, Calcutta, 1869-74 (Bib/. Ind.); 
Shadvimca Brahmana, ed. J. Vidyasagara, 1881 ; ed. with 
trans, by Klemm, Giitersloh, 1894; Samavidhdna Brahmana, 
ed. Burnell, London, 1873, trans, by Konow, Halle, 1893 ; 
Vamca Brahmana, ed. Weber, Indische Studien, vol. iv. pp. 
371 ff., and by Burnell, Mangalore, 1873. Burnell also edited 
the Devatddhydya Br., 1873, the Arsheya Br., 1876, Samhitd 
Upanishad Br., 1877; Mantra Br., ed. S. SamacramI, Calc, 
1890; Jaiminiya or Talavakdra Br., ed. in part by Burnell, 
1878, and by Oertel, with trans, and notes, in the Journal of the 
Am. Or. Soc, vol. xvi. pp. 79-260; Taittirlya Br., ed. R. Mitra, 
1855-70 (Bibl. Ind.), N. Godabole, Anand. Ser., 1898 ; Taittirlya 
Aranyaka, ed. H. N. Apte, Anand. Ser, Poona, 1898 ; atapatha 
Br., ed. Weber, Berlin, London, 1859; trans, by Eggeling in Sacred 
Books, 5 vols. ; Gopatha Br., ed. R. Mitra and H. Vidyabhushana, 
1872 {Bibl. Ind.), fully described in Bloomfield's Atharva- 
veda, pp. 101-124, in Biihler's Encyclopaedia, 1899. The most 
important work on the Upanishads in general is Deussen, Die 
Philosophie der Upanishads, Leipsic, 1899; trans, of several 
Upanishads by Max Muller, Sacred Books, vols. i. and xv. ; 
Deussen, Sechzig Upanishad 's (trans, with valuable introductions), 


Leipsic, 1897; a very useful book is Jacob, A Concordance to 
the Principal Upanishads and Bhagavadgltd (Bombay Sanskrit 
Series), 1891. P. 226 : Thirty-two Upanishads, ed. with comm. in 
Anandagrama Series, Poona, 1895; Aitareya Upanishad, ed. 
Roer, 1850 (Bid/. Ind.), also ed. in Anandagrama Series, 1889 ; 
Kaushltaki Brdhmana Upanishad, ed. Cowell, Calc., 1861 (Bid/. 
Ind.); Chhdndogya Up., ed. with trans, by Bohtlingk, Leipsic, 
1889; also in Anand. Ser., 1890. P. 229 : Kena or Ta/avakdra, ed. 
Roer, Calc, 1850; also in Anand. Ser., 1889; Maitri Up., ed. 
Cowell, 1870 (Bib/. Ind.); Cvetdfvatara, ed. Roer, 1850, Anand. 
Ser. 1890; Kdthaka Up., ed. Roer, 1850, ed. with comm. by 
Apte, Poona, 1889, by Jacob, 1891; Taittiriya Up., ed. Roer, 
1850, Anand. Ser., 1889 ; Brihaddranyaka Up., ed. and trans, 
by Bohtlingk, Leipzig, 1889, also ed. in Anand. Ser., 1891 ; ffd 
Up., ed. in Anand. Ser., 1888; Mundaka Up., ed. Roer, 1850, 
Apte, Anand. Ser., 1889, Jacob, 1891 ; Pracna Up., Anand. 
Ser., 1889, Jacob, 1891 ; Mdndukya, Up., Anand. Ser., 1890, 
Jacob, 1 891; ed. with Eng. trans, and notes, Bombay, 1895; 
Mahdndrayana Up., ed. by Jacob, with comm., Bombay Sansk. Ser., 
1888; Nrisimhatdpanlya Up., Anand. Ser., 1895. P. 242: The 
parallelism of ankara and Plato is rather overstated ; for Plato, 
on the one hand, did not get rid of Duality, and, on the other, 
only said that Becoming is not true Being. 


On the sutras in general consult Hillebrandt, Rituai-Litteratur, 
in Biihler's Encyrfopadia, 1897 ; Afua/ayana Qrauta Sutra, ed. 
R. Vidyaratna, Calc, 1864-74 (Bib/. Ind.) ; fdnhhdyana frauta, 
ed. Hillebrandt, 1885-99 (Bib/. Ind.); Idtyayana frauta, ed. A 
Vagiga, Calc, 1870-72 (Bib/. Ind.); Macaka and Drdhydyana 
Crauta, unedited/ Kdtydyana frauta, ed. Weber, London, 
Berlin, 1855; Apastamba Crauta, in part ed. by Hillebrandt, 
Calc, 1882-97 (Bib/. Ind.); Vaiidna Sutra, ed. Garbe, London, 
1878; trans, by Garbe, Strasburg, 1878. Afoa/dyana Grihya 
Sutra, ed. with trans, by Stenzler, Leipsic, 1864-65; ed. with 


comm. and notes, Bombay, 1895 ; trans, in Sacred Books, 
vol. xxix. ; dnkhdyana Grihya, ed. and trans, into German by 
Oldenberg, Jndische Studien, vol. xv. ; Eng. trans, in Sacred 
Books, vol. xxix. ; Gobhila Grihya, ed. with comm. by Ch. 
Tarkalamkara, Calc., 1880 (Bid/. Ind); ed. by Knauer, Dorpat, 
1884; trans, by Knauer, Dorpat, 1887; trans, in Sacred Books, 
vol. xxx. j Fdraskara Grihya, ed. and trans, by Stenzler, Leipsic, 
1876; trans, in Sacred Books, vol. xxix.; Apastamba Grihya, 
ed. Winternitz, Vienna, 1887; trans, in Sacred Books, vol. xxx. ; 
Hiranyakefi Grihya,ed. Kirste, Vienna, 1889; trans. Sacred Books, 
vol. xxx. ; Mantrapdtha, ed. Winternitz, Oxford, 1897 ; Manava 
Grihya, ed. Knauer, Leipsic, 1897 ; Kanaka Sutra, ed. Bloomfield, 
New Haven, 1890 ; Pitrimedha Sutras of Baudhayana, Hiranya- 
kec,in, Gautama, ed. Caland, Leipsic, 1896. Apastamba Dharma 
Sutra, ed. Biihler, Bombay Sansk. Ser., two parts, 1892 and 1894; 
Baudhayana Dh. S., ed. Hultzsch, Leipsic, 1884; Gauta?na 
Dharma fastra, ed. Stenzler, London, 1876; Vasishtha Dharma 
Cdstra, ed. Fiihrer, Bombay, 1883; Hiranyakefi Dharma Sutra, 
unedited ; Vaikhdnasa Dharma Sutra, described by Bloch, 
Vienna, 1896; Apastamba, Gautama, Vasishtha, Baudhayana, 
trans, by Biihler, Sacred Books, 2nd ed., Oxford, 1897. Rigveda 
Prdtifdkhya, ed. with German trans, by Max Miiller, Leipsic, 1856- 
69 ; ed. withUvata's comm., Benares, 1894; Riktantravydkarana 
(Sdma Pr.), ed., trans. Burnell, Mangalore, 1879; Taittiriya Prat., 
ed. Whitney, Journ. of the Am. Or. Soc, vol. ix., 187 1 ; Vdjasaneyi 
Prat., ed. with comm. of Uvata, Benares Sansk. Series, 1888 ; 
Atharvaveda Prat., ed. Whitney, Journal Am. Or. Soc, vols. vii. and 
x. The Culva Sutra of Baudhayana, ed. and trans, by Thibaut, in 
the Pandit, vol. ix. j cf. his article on the fu/vasutras in the Jour, 
of As. Soc. Bengal, vol. xliv., Calc. 1875. Six Vedangas, Sanskrit 
text, Bombay, 1892; Yaska's JSirukta, ed. R. Roth, Gottingen, 
1852 ; ed. with comm. by S. Samacrami (Bibl. Ind.) ; Sarvdnu- 
kramanl, ed. Macdonell, Oxford, 1886 (together with Anuvd- 
kanukratnanl and Shadguruc,ishya's comm.) ; Arshdnukramani, 
Chhandonukramani, Brihaddevatd, ed. R. Mitra, 1892 (Bibl. 
Ind.); Pingala's Chhandah Sutra, ed. in Bibl. Ind., 1874; in 
Weber's Indische Studien, vol. viii. (which is important as treat- 


ing of Sanskrit metres in general) ; Nidana Sutra, partly edited, 
ibid. ; Sarvdnukrama Sutras of White Yajurveda, ed. by Weber 
in his ed. of that Veda; ed. with comm., Benares Sansk. Ser., 
1893-94; Charanavyiiha, ed. Weber, Ind. Stud., vol. iii. On 
Madhava see Klemm in Gurupujdkaumudl, Leipsic, 1896. 


On the Mahabharata in general, consult especially Holtzmann, 
Das Mahabharata, 4 vols., Kiel, 1892-95 ; Biihler, Indian Studies, 
No. II., Trans, of Imp. Vienna Academy, 1892 ; cf. also Jacobi in 
Gdttinger Gelehrte Anzeigen, vol. viii. 659 ff. ; W'mtemiiz, Journal 
of the Roy. As. Soc, 1897, p. 713 ff. ; Indian Antiquary, vol. 
xxvii. Editions: 5 vols., Bombay, 1888, Calc, 1894; trans, into 
Eng. prose at the expense of Pratapa Chandra Ray, Calc, 1896 ; 
literal trans, into Eng. by M. N. Dutt, 5 vols., Calc, 1896. 
Episode of Sdvitrl, ed. Kellner, with introd. and notes, Leipsic, 
1888; Nala, text in Blihler's Third Book of Sanskrit, Bombay, 
1877 ; text, notes, vocabulary, Kellner, 1885 ; text, trans., vocab., 
Monier- Williams, Oxford, 1876. On the Puranas in general, con- 
sult introd. of H. H. Wilson's trans, of the Vishi.iu P., 5 vols., 
ed. Fitzedward Hall, 1864-70; Holtzmann, op. at., vol. iv. pp. 
29-58; Garuda P., ed. Bombay, 1888; ed. Vidyasagara, Calc, 
1 89 1 ; Agni, ed. R. Mitra, Bibl. Ind., 1870-79, J. Vidyasagara, 
Calc, 1882; Vdyu, ed. R. Mitra, Bibl. Ind., 1888; Bombay, 
1895 ; Matsya, Bombay, 1895; Kur??ia, Bibl. Ind., 1890; Mar- 
kandeya, ed. Bibl. Ind., 1855-62 ; trans, by Pargiter, Bibl. Ind., 
1888-99, by C. C. Mukharji, Calc, 1894; Padma, ed. V. N. 
Mandlik, 4 vols., Anand. Ser., 1894; Vishnu, ed. with comm., 
Bombay, 1887 ; five parts, Calc, 1888; prose trans, by M. N. Dutt., 
Calc, 1894 ; Wilson, op. cit. ; Bhdgavata, ed. with three comm., 
3 vols., Bombay, 1887 ; 2 vols., Nirnaya Sagara Press, Bombay, 
1894; ed. and trans, by Burnouf, 4 vols., Paris, 1840-47, 1884; 
Brahma, ed. Anand. Ser., 1895; Vardha, Bibl. Ind., 1887-93.^ 
On the Rdmdyana in general, consult Jacobi, Das Rdmdyana 
Bonn, 1893 ; also Journal of the Germ. Or Soc, vol. xlviii. 


p. 407 ff., vol. li. p. 605 ff. Ludwig, Ueber das Rd?ndyai.ia, 
Prag, 1894; Baumgartner, Das Rdmdyana, Freiburg i B., 1894; 
Bombay recension, ed. Gorresio, Turin, 1843-67 \ with three 
comm., 3 vols., Bombay, 1895 ; Bengal recension, Calc, 1859-60 ; 
trans, by Griffith into Eng. verse, Benares, 1895 ; into Eng. prose, 
M. N. Dutt, Calc, 1894. 


On the age of Kavya poetry consult especially Biihler, Die 
indischen Jnschriften und das Alter der indischen Kunstpoesie, 
in Trans, of the Imp. Vienna Academy, Vienna, 1890; Fleet, 
Corpus Inscr. I//d., vol. iii., Calcutta, 1888. On the Vikrama 
era see Kielhorn, Gotti?iger Nachrichten, 1891, pp. 179-182, and 
on the Malava era, Ind. Ant, xix. p. 316; on the chronology 
of Kalidasa, Huth, Die Zeit des Kdliddsa, Berlin, 1890. Buddha- 
charita, ed. Cowell, Oxford, 1893 ; trans, by Cowell, Sacred 
Books, vol. xlix. Raghuvam$a, ed. Stenzler, with Latin trans., 
London, 1832 j ed. with Mallinatha's comm., by S. P. Pandit, 
Bombay Sansk. Ser. ; text with Eng. trans, by Jvalaprasad, 
Bombay, 1895 j ed. K. P. Parab, with Mallinatha, Nirnaya Sagara 
Pr., Bombay, 1892 j i.-vii., with Eng. trans., notes, comm. of Mal- 
linatha, and extracts from comm. of Bhatta Hemadri, Charitra- 
vardhana, Vallabha, by G. R. Nangargika, Poona, 1896. Kumdra- 
samfr/iava, ed. with Latin trans, by Stenzler, London, 1838; 
cantos i.-vi., ed. with Eng. trans, and comm. of Mallinatha, by 
S. G. Despande, Poona, 1887 ; second part, with full comm., ed. 
by J. Vidyasagara, 4th ed., Calc, 1887 \ ed. with comm. of 
Mallinatha (i.-vii.) and of Sltaram (viii.-xvii.), 3rd ed., Nirnaya 
Sagara Press, Bombay, 1893; ed. with three commentaries, 
Bombay, 1898; trans, by Griffith, London, 1879. Bhattikdvya, 
ed. Calc, 1628 ; cantos i.-v., with comm. of Jayamangala, 
English trans., notes, glossary, by M. R. Kale, Bombay, 
1897 ; with comm. of Mallinatha and notes by K. P. Trivedi, 
Bombay Sansk. Ser., 2 vols., 1898; German trans, of xviii.-xxii., 
by Schiitz, Bielefeld, 1837. Kirdtdrjuniya, ed. by J. Vidyasagara, 


Calc, 1875 ; with Mallinatha's comm., Nirnaya Sagara Press, 
Bombay, 1885; cantos i.-ii., trans, by Schiitz, Bielefeld, 1843. 
icupdlavadha, ed. with Mallinatha's comm., by Vidyasagara, 
1884 ; also at Benares, 1883 ; German trans, by Schiitz, cantos 
i.-ix;, Bielefeld, 1843. Naishadhlya-charita, ed. with comm. of 
Narayana, by Pandit Sivadatta, Bombay, 1894. Aalodaya, ed. 
Vidyasagara, Calc, 1873 ; German trans, by Shack, in Stimmen 
vom Ganges ; 2nd ed., 1877; Rdg/iavapdndaviya, ed. with comm. 
in the Kdvyamdld, No. 62. Dhanamjaya's Rdghavapdndaviya, 
quoted in Ganaratnamahodadhi, a.d. 1140, is an imitation of 
Kaviraja's work : cf. Zachariae in Biihler's Encyclopedia, pp. 27-28. 
For a modern Sanskrit drama constructed on a similar princi- 
ple see Scherman's Orientalische Bibliographies vol. ix., 1896, p. 
258, No. 4605. Haravijaya, ed. in Kdvyamdld, 1890 ; see Biihler, 
Detailed Report, p. 43, Bombay,' 1877. Navasahasdnkacharita, ed. 
Bombay Sansk. Series, 1895 ; see Biihler and Zacharise in Trans. 
of Vienna Acad., 1888. Setubandha (in the Maharashtri dialect), 
ed. with trans, by S. Goldschmidt, 1884; ed. in Kdvyamdld, 
No. 47, Bombay, 1895. Vdsavadatta, ed. with introd. by Fitz- 
edward Hall, Bibl. Ind., 1859 ; ed. with comm. by J. Vidyasagara, 
Calc, 1874. Kddambart, ed. P. Peterson, Bomb. Sansk. Ser., 1889; 
ed. with comm. in Nirnaya Sagara Press, Bombay, 1896; with 
comm. and notes by M. R. Kale, Poona, 1896; trans., with 
occasional omissions, by C. M. Ridding, Royal As. Soc, 
London, 1896. Harshacharita, ed. by J. Vidyasagara, Calc, 
1883 ; ed. with comm., Jammu, 1S79 ; Bombay, 1892 ; trans, by 
Cowell and Thomas, Roy. As. Soc. London, 1897. Dafakumdra- 
charita, Part i., ed. Biihler, Bomb. Sansk. Ser., 2nd ed., 1888; 
Part ii., P. Peterson, ibid., 1891 ; ed. P. Banerji, Calc, 1888. 


Meghaduta, ed. with vocab. by Stenzler, Breslau, 1874; with 
comm. of Mallinatha, Nirnaya Sagara Press, Bombay, 1894; ed. 
by K. B. Pathak, Poona, 1894. Eng. verse trans, by Wilson, 3rd 
ed., London, 1867 j by T. Clark, London, 1882; into German by 


Max Miiller, Konigsberg, 1847, by Schiitz, Bielefield, 1859, Fritze, 
Chemnitz, 1879. Ritusamhara, ed. with Latin and German 
trans, by P. v. Bohlen, Leipsic, 1840 ; with notes and Eng. trans, 
by Sitaram Ayyar, Bombay, 1897. Ghataharpara, ed. Brockhaus, 
1 84 1, trans, into German by Hofer (in Indische Gedichte, vol. ii.). 
Chaurapanchdfika, ed. and trans, into German by Solf, Kiel, 
1886; trans, by Edwin Arnold, London, 1896. Bhartrihari's 
Centuries, ed. with comm., Bombay, 1884, trans, into Eng. verse 
by Tawney, Calc., 1877 ; fringdra-fataha, ed. Calc. 1888. 
Cringdratilaka, ed. Gildemeister, Bonn, 1841. Amarufataka, ed. 
R. Simon, Kiel, 1893. Saptacataka of Hala, ed. with prose 
German trans, by Weber, Leipsic, 1881 (in Abhandlungen filr 
die Kunde des Morgenlandes, vol. viii., No. 4). Mayura's Surya- 
fataha, or Hundred Stanzas in praise of the Sun, ed. in 
Kdvya?ndld i 1889. Gltagovinda, ed. J. Vidyasagara, Calc, 1882 ; 
Bombay, Nir. Sag. Pr., 1899 ; trans, into German by Riickert, 
vol. i. o( Abhandlungen filr die Kunde des Morgenlandes, Leipsic. 


On the Sanskrit drama in general, consult especially H. H. 
Wilson, Select Specimens of the Theatre of the Hindus, 2 vols., 
3rd ed., London, 1871; Sylvain Levi, Le Theatre Indien, Paris, 
1890. Cahuntald, Bengal recension, ed. by Pischel, Kiel, 1877; 
Devanagarl, recension, Monier-Williams, 2nd ed., Oxford, 1876 ; M. 
R. Kale, Bombay, 1898; trans, by Monier-Williams, 6th ed., Lon- 
don, 1894 ; into German by Riickert, Leipsic, 1876 ; Fritze, 1876 ; 
Lobedanz, 7th ed., Leipsic, 1884; there are also a South Indian 
and a Kashmir recension (cf Biihler, Report, p. lxxxv). Vikramor- 
vafl, ed. S. P. Pandit, Bombay, 1879 ; Vaidya, 1895 ; South Indian 
recension, ed. Pischel, 1875 ; trans. Wilson, op. cit.; Cowell, Hert- 
ford, 185 1 ; Fritze, Leipsic, 1880. Mdlavikdgnimitra, ed. Bollensen, 
Leipsic, 1879; S. P. Pandit, Bombay, 1869, S. S. Ayyar, Poona, 
1896; trans, by Tawney, 2nd ed., Calc, 1891 ; into German by 
Weber, Berlin, 1856; Fritze, Leipsic, 1881. Mricchakatikd, ed. 
Stenzler, Bonn, 1847; J. Vidyasagara, 2nd ed., Calc, 1891 ; 


trans, by Wilson, op. cit. ; into German by Bohtlingk, St. Peters- 
burg, 1877 ; by Fritze, Chemnitz, 1879. Ratndvali, ed. Cappeller, 
in Bohtlingk's Sanskrit- Chrestomathie, 1897; with comm. Nir. Sag. 
Pr., Bombay, 1895 J trans, by Wilson, op. cit. ; into German by Fritze, 
Chemnitz, 1878. Ndgdnanda, ed. J. Vidyasagara, Calc., 1873; 
ed. Poona, 1893 ; trans, by Palmer Boyd, with preface by Cowell, 
London, 1872. Bana's Pdrvatiparinaya, ed. with trans, by 
T. R. R. Aiyar, Kumbakonam, 1898; Germ, by Glaser, Trieste, 
1886. Mdlatimddhava, ed. R. G. Bhandarkar, Bombay, 1876; 
trans, by Wilson, op. cit.; by Fritze, Leipsic, 1884. Mahavira- 
charita, ed. Trithen, London, 1848; K. P. Parab, Bombay, 1892 ; 
trans, by J. Pickford, London, 187 1. Uttararamacharita, ed. 
with comm. and trans., Nagpur, 1895 ; ed. with comm. by Aiyar 
and Parab, Nirnaya Sagara Press, 1899 ; trans, by Wilson, op. cit. 
Mudrdrdkshasa, ed. Telang, Bombay, 1893; trans, by Wilson, 
op. cit.; into German by Fritze, Leipsic, 1887. Venlsamhdra, 
ed. K. P. Parab, Nirnaya Sagara Press, Bombay, 1898; 
N. B. Godabale, Poona, 1895; Grill, Leipsic, 187 1; trans, 
into English by S. M. Tagore, Calc, 1880. Viddha$dlabhan- 
jika, ed. J. Vidyasagara, Calc, 1883. Karpuramanjarl, ed. in 
vol. vii. of The Pandit, Benares. B alar dmdy ana, ed. Govinda 
Deva astri, Benares, 1869; J. Vidyasagara, Calc, 1884. 
Prachandapdndava, ed. Cappeller, Strasburg, 1885. (On Raja- 
^ekhara, cf. Kielhorn, Epigr. Ind., part iv. 1889; Fleet in Jnd. 
Antiq., vol. xvi. pp. 175-178 ; Jacobi in Vienna Or. Journal, vol. ii. 
pp. 212-216). Chandakau$ika, ed. J. Vidyasagara, Calcutta, 
1884 ; trans, by Fritze (Kaufika's Zorn). Prabodhachandrodaya, 
ed. Nir. Sag. Pr., Bombay, 1898 ; trans, into German by Gold- 
stiicker, with preface by Rosenkranz, Konigsberg, 1842 ; also 
trans, by Hirzel, Zurich, 1846; Taylor, Bombay, 1886. 


Panchatantra, ed. Kosegarten, Bonn, 1848 ; by Kielhorn and 
Buhler in Bomb. Sansk. Ser.; these two editions represent two con- 
siderably divergent recensions ; trans, with very valuable introd. 
by Benfey, 2 vols., Leipsic, 1859 ; English trans., Trichinopoli, 


1887; German by Fritze, Leipsic, 1884. The abstract of the 
Panchatantra in Kshemendra's Brihatkathamanjarl, introd, 
text, trans., notes, by Mankowski, Leipsic, 1892. Hitopade$a, 
ed. F. Johnson, London, 1884 ; P. Peterson in Bomb. Sansk. 
Ser. Kamandaklya Nttisdra, ed. with trans, and notes, Madras, 
1895 ; text ed. by R. Mitra, Bibl. Jnd. Calc, 1884. Civadasa's 
VetalapancJiavim$atika, ed. H. Uhle (in Abhandlungen der 
deuischen morgenl. Gescll. vol. viii., No. 1), Leipsic, 1881. Sir R. 
F. Burton, Vikram and the Vampire, new ed., London, 1893. 
Simhdsana-dvatrimfikd, ed. (Dwalringshat puttalika), J. Vidya- 
sagara, Calc, 1881. fukasaptaii, ed. R. Schmidt, Leipsic, 1893 
(Abh. f. d. Kunde d. Morgenlandes), Munich, 1898; trans., Kiel, 
1894; Stuttgart, 1898. Kathdsaritsdgara,ed. Brockhaus, 
Leipsic (Books i.-v.) 1839, (vi.-xviii.) 1862-66; ed. Bomb., 1889; 
trans, by Tawney in Bibl. Ind., 1880-87. Brihatkathamanjarl, 
chaps, i. viii., ed. and trans, by Sylvain Levi in Journal Asiatique, 
1886. Jdtaka-mala, ed. Kern, Boston, 1891 ; trans, by Speijer 
in Sacred Books of the Buddhists, vol. i., London, 1895. Katha- 
hofa, trans, by C. H. Tawney from Sanskrit MSS., Royal As. 
Soc, London, 1895. Pali Jatakas, ed. by Fausboll, London, 
(completed) 1897 ; three vols, of trans, under supervision of 
Cowell have appeared, I. by Chalmers, Cambridge, 1895 ; II. by 
Rouse, 1895 ; III. by Francis and Neil, 1897. Warren, Buddhism 
in Translations, Harvard, 1896. Bhartrihari's Nlti and Vairdgya 
(jatakas, ed. and trans., Bombay, 1898 (on Bhartrihari and 
Kumarila see Pathak vajourn. of Bombay Branch of Roy. As. Soc., 
xviii. pp. 213-238). Mohamudgara, trans, by U. K. Banerji', 
Bhawanipur, Bengal, 1892. Chdnakya Calakas, ed. Klatt, 1873. 
On the Nitimanjari cf. Kielhorn, Gbttinger Aachrichten, 1 891, pp. 
182-186 ; A. B. Keith, Journ. Roy. As. Soc. 1900. arngadhara- 
paddhati t ed. Peterson, Bombay, 1888. Subhdshitavall, ed. 
Peterson and Durgaprasada, Bombay, 1886. Bohtlingk's In- 
dische Spriiche, 2nd edition, 2 vols., St. Petersburg, 1870-73 ; 
index by Blau, Leipsic, 1893. Dhdmmapada, trans, by Max 
Miiller in Sacred Books of the East, vol. x., 2nd revised edition, 
Oxford, 1898. 



On Indian philosophy in general see Garbe's useful little book, 
Philosophy of Ancient India, Chicago, 1897 ; F. Max Miiller, Six 
Systems of Indian Philosophy \ London, 1899. Garbe, Sankhya 
Philosophies Leipsic, 1894; Sankhya und Yoga in Biihler's En- 
cyclopaedia, Strasburg, 1896 (complete bibliography); Sankhya- 
karika, text with comm. of Gaudapada, ed. and trans, by Cole- 
brooke and Wilson, Oxford, 1837, reprinted Bombay, 1887 ; ed. 
in Benares Sansk. Ser., 1883; trans. Ballantyne (Bib/. Ind.) ; 
Sdnkhyapravachana-bhdshya, ed. by Garbe, Harvard, 1895, 
trans, into German, Leipsic, 1889; Aniruddha's comm. on 
Sankhya Sutras, trans, by Garbe, Bibl. Ind., Calc, 1888-92; 
Sdnkhya-tattva-kaumudJ, ed. with Eng. trans., Bombay, 1896, 
trans, by Garbe, Munich, 1892; ankara's Rdjayogabhashya, 
trans. Madras, 1896; Svatmarama's Hathayogapradipa, trans, by 
Walther, Munich, 1893; Hathayoga Gheranda Sanhita, trans. 
Bombay, 1895. On fragments of Panchacikha cf. Garbe in 
Festgruss an Roth, p. 74 if., Stuttgart, 1893 ; Jacobi on Sankhya- 
Yoga as foundation of Buddhism, Journ. of Germ. Or. Soc, 
1898, pp. 1-15 ; Oldenberg, Buddha, 3rd ed. Mlmamsa- 
dar$ana, ed. with comm. of abara Svamin {Bibl. Ind.), Calc, 
1887; Tantravarttika, ed. Benares, 1890; lokavarttika, fasc. 
i., ii., ed. with comm., Benares, 189S; Jaiminiya-nydya-mald- 
vistara, ed. in Anand. Ser. 1892. Arthasamgraha, as introd. to 
Mimamsa, ed. and trans, by Thibaut, Benares, 1882. Most im- 
portant book on Vedanta : Deussen, System des Vedanta, Leipsic, 
1883; Deussen, Die Sutrds des Vedanta, text with trans, of 
Sutras and complete comm. of ankara, Leipsic, 1887. Brahma 
Sutras, with ankara's comm., ed. in Anand. Ser., 1890-91 ; 
Vedanta Sutras, trans, by Thibaut in Sacred Books, vol. xxxiv., 
Oxford, 1890, and xxxviii., 1896. Panchadafi, ed. with Eng. 
trans., Bombay, 1895. On date of ankara cf Fleet in Ind. Ant., 
xvi. 41-42. Veddnta-siddhdnta-muktdvall, ed. with Eng. trans, by 
Venis, Benares, 1890. Veddntasdra, ed. Jacob, with comm. and 
notes, Bombay, 1894, trans. 3rd ed., London, 1892. Bhagavad- 


glta with ankara's comm., Anand. Ser., 1897, trans, in Sacred 
Books, vol. viii., 2nd ed., Oxford, 1898; by Davies, 3rd ed., 1894. 
Nyaya Sutras in Vizianagram Sansk. Ser., vol. ix., Benares, 
1896. Nyayakandali of rldhara, ibid., vol. iv., 1895. Nyaya- 
kusumanjali (Bib/. 2nd.), Calc, 1895. Vai^eshika-darfana, ed. 
with comm., Calc., 1887. Saptapadarthl, ed. with comm., 
Benares, 1893; text with Latin trans, by Winter, Leipsic, 1893. 
Tarkasamgraha, ed. J. Vidyasagara, Calc, 1897; ed. with comm., 
Bombay Sansk. Ser., 1897; text an( 3 trans, by Ballantyne, Alla- 
habad, 1850. Sarvadarfana-samgraha, ed. by T. Tarkavachaspati, 
Calc, 1872; trans, by Cowell and Gough, 2nd ed., London, 


M'Crindle, Ancient India as Described by Classical Authors, 5 
vols., especially vol. v., Invasion of India by Alexander, London, 
1896. Weber, Die Griechen in Indien, in Transactions (Sitzungs- 
berichte) of the Roy. Prussian Acad., Berlin, 1890.. oylvain Levi, 
Quid de Gratis veterum Indorum monumenta tradiderint, Paris, 
1890 ; also La Grece et Vlnde (in Revue des Etudes Grecques), Paris, 
1 89 1. Goblet dAlviella, Ce que Vlnde doit a la Grece, Paris, 
1897 ; also Les Grecs dans Vlnde, and Des Influences Classiques 
dans la Culture Scientifique et Litter aire de Vlnde, in vols, xxxiii., 
xxxiv. (1897) of Bulletin de VAcademie Roy ale de Belgique. L. de 
la Vallee Poussin, La Grece et Vlnde, in Musee Beige, vol. ii. 
pp. 126-152. Vincent A. Smith, Grceco-Roman Influence on the 
Civilisation of Ancient India in Journal of As. Soc. of Bengal, 
1889-92. O. Franke, Beziehungen der Inder zum Westen, 
Journ. of Germ. Or. Soc, 1893, pp. 595-609. M. A. Stein 
in Indian Antiquary, vol. xvii. p. 89. On foreign elements in 
Indian art see Cunningham, Archaeological Survey of India, 
vol. v. pp. 185 ff ' ; Grunwedel, Buddhistische Kunst, Berlin, 
1893 ; E. Curtius, Griechische Kunst in Indien, pp. 235-243 in 
vol. ii. of Gesammelte Abhandlungen, Berlin, 1894; W. Simpson, 
The Classical Influence in the Architecture of the Indus Region 
and Afghanistan, in the, Journal of the Royal Institution of British 


Architects, vol. i. (1894), pp. 93-115. P. 413 : On the akas and 
Kushanas, see Rapson, Indian Coins, pp. 7 and 16, in Biihler's 
Encyclopaedia, Strasburg, 1898. On the relation of Indian 
to Greek fables, cf. Weber in Indische Studien, vol. iii. p. 327 ff. 
Through the medium of Indian fables and fairy tales, which were 
so popular in the Middle Ages, the magic mirror and ointment, 
the seven-league boots, the invisible cap, and the purse of 
Fortunatus {cf. Burnell, Sdmavidhana Frdhmana, preface, p. 
xxxv), found their way into Western literature. For possible 
Greek influence on Indian drama, cf. Windisch, in Trans, of 
the Fifth Oriental Congress, part ii., Berlin, 1882. On chess in 
Sanskrit literature, cf. Macdonell, Origin and Early History of 
Chess, in Jonrn. Roy. As. Soc, 1898. On Indian influence on 
Greek philosophy, cf Garbe in Sdnkhya und Yoga, p. 4. 
L. von Schroeder, Buddhismus und Christenthwn, Reval, 2nd 
ed., 1898. P. 422-23: It seems quite possible to account for 
the ideas of the Neo-Platonists from purely Hellenic sources, 
without assuming Indian influence. On the relation of Cakuntald 
to Schiller (Alpenjager) and Goethe (Faust), cf. Sauer, in Korre- 
spondenzblatt fiir die Gelehrten und Realschulen Wurttembergs, vol. 
xl. pp. 297-304; W. von Biedermann, Goetheforschungen, Frankfurt 
a/M., 1879, pp. 54 ff. (Cakuntald and Faust). On Sanskrit 
literature and modern poets (Heine, Matthew Arnold), cf Max 
M tiller, Coincidences, in the Fortnightly Review, New Series, vol. 
lxiv. (July 1898), pp. 157-162. 





Abhidhdna-chintdmani, 433 
Abhidhdna-ratnamdld, 433 
Aborigines, 113, 152, 161, 387 
Absolute, the, 220 
Abstract deities, 1 00- 1 02 
Accent, Vedic, 53-54 
Achaemenid dynasty in India, 408 
Agoka, 310, 412 ; inscriptions of, 14, 

Actors, Greek, 414 
Acvaghosha, 319 
Acvakas, 408, 409 
Acvalayana, 52, 191, 274; his Crauta 

Sutra, 245 ; Grihya Sutra, 249 
Acvins, 84, 123, 150 
Adbhuta Brdhmana, 2IO 
Aditi, 70, 102, 103, 105, 132 
Adityas, 102, 103, 105 
^Esop, 420 
Agni, 70, 71, 74, 93-97, 102, 105, 

124, 125, 135, 172, 214 
Agohya, 106 
Agriculture, 166 
Ahargana, 426 
Ahi budhnya, HO 
Ahura, 1 12 
Aitareya Aranyaka, 51, 208, 211 ; 

Brdhmana, 155, 156, 163, 203, 

205 ; Upanishad, 209, 226-227 
Ajatagatru, 222 
Alata, 434 

Alberuni, 13, 18, 413 
Alexander the Great, I, 2, 8, 13, 18, 

150, 154, 165, 365, 410, 413, 4H 
Alexandria, 415, 423 

Algebra, Indian, 424, 434 

Allegorical play, 367 

Alphabet, arrangement of the Sans- 
krit, 17 

Al-Razi, 427 

Amara-lco^a, 433 

Amara simha, 324, 433 

Amaru, 342 

Anaxagoras, 422 

Ancestor worship, 257 

Anehdrtha-samgrahq, 433 

Anekdrtha-samuchchaya, 433 

Angas, 156, 195 

Angirases, 108, 189, 190 

Animals, domestic, 149 ; mytholo- 
gical, 109 

Aniruddha, 394 

Anthologies, 379 

Anthropology, 126 

Anthropomorphism, 71, 72, 84, 86, 

Anuddtta accent, 54 
Anukramanis, 39, 52, 267, 271-272, 

Anus, 153, 154 
Anushtubh metre, 56, 68 
Anvdr-i-Suhaili, 418 
Apabhramca dialect, 27, 349 
Apam napat, 88, 92 
Apastamba, 246, 258-259, 302 ; his 

Crauta Sutra, 246 ; Grihya Sutra, 

250 ; Dharma Sutra, 258 ; Kalpa 

Sutra, 258 
Apastambas, 176 
Apollonius of Tyana, 415 



Apsaras, 107 ; Apsarases, 182 

Arabian Nights, 368 

Arabs, 1, 421, 424, 425, 426, 427 

Aranyakas, 34, 50, 204 

AranyanI, III 

Architecture, 158, 437 

Ardha-magadhi, 27 

Argumentum ex silentio, 16, 150 

Arithmetic, Indian, 424 

Arjuna, 165, 2 1 6, 296, 405 

Arjuna Miora, 290 

Army, divisions of, 165 

Arnold, Sir Edwin, 427 

Arsheya Brahmana, 209 

Arsheya- Jcalpa, 245 

Art, Indian, 436-437 

Aruni, 213, 214 

Aryd metre, 307, 393, 435 

Aryabhata, 325, 426, 435 

Aryabhat'iya, 435 

Aryan civilisation, 9 ; invasion of 

India, 40, 408 
Aryans, home of Rigvedic, 145 
Aryas, 152 
Aryavarta, 23 
Asat, 136 

Asceticism, 184, 397, 410 
Ashtdngahridaya, 436 
Asiatic Society of Bengal, 3 
Asikni, 140, 144, 155 
Astronomers, Indian, 13, 425, 426, 

434-435 J Arab > 426 
Astronomical data, 195, 325 
Astronomy, Greek and Indian, 425 
Asura, 112, 1 13 
Asuras, 182 
Asuri, 215 
Atharvaveda, 30, 31, 185-201, 2c6 ; 

various readings of, 187 ; Upani- 

shads of, 238-243 
Atharvdnyirasah, 189 
Atharvans, 189 
Atman, 205, 218-222 
Aufrecht, T., 431, 433 

Augury, 120, 222-223 

Avanti dialect, 27 

Avatars, 81, 30c, 411 

Avesta, 12, 43, 55, 63, 67, 68, 87, 88, 

99, 100, 108, no, 112, 113, 118, 

141, 165, 216, 253 
Avicenna, 427 
Avidyd, 389, 401 
Ayodhya (Oudh), 157, 176, 214, 305, 


Babrius, 420 

Badarayana, 240, 402 

Balaki Gargya, 222 

Balhikas, 195 

Balibandha, 347 

Bana, 20, 288, 318, 321, 332, 362, 

413* 421, 429 
Banyan, 147 
Bardesanes, 423 

Barlaam and Josaphat, 419, 420 
Barley, 145 
Barygaza, 415 
Barzol, 417 

Battle of ten kings, 154 
Baudhayana, 246, 259 ; Crauta Sutra, 

246 ; Grihya Sutra, 250 ; Dharma 

Sutra, 259 ; Kalpa Sutra, 259 
Bear, 148 
Beef, no, 164 
Benares, 27, 222 
Benfey, Prof. Theodor, 173, 420 
Bhagavadgitd, 2, 283, 288, 405 
Bhdgavata Purdna, 402 ; popularity 

of, 302 
Bhtigavatas, 402 
Bhaguri, 273 
Bhahti, 403 
Bharadvaja, his Crauta Sutra, 246 ; 

Grihya Sutra, 250 
Bharata, 216, 347 
Bhdrata-manjarl, 290 
Bharatas, 154, 155, 156, 175 
Bharati, 155 




Bharavi, 318, 329 

Bhartrihari, I, 329, 340, 378, 381, 

382, 431 
BhdsJid, 22 
Bhaskaracharya, 435 
Bhatta Narayana, 365 
Bhattikdvya, 329 
Bhattoji, 432 
Bhattotpala, 435 
Bhavabhuti, 352^ 353, 362-365 
Bhoja, 20, 304, 366 
Bhrigus, 108, 154, 189 
Bidpai, fables of, 417 
Bilhana, 339 
Birch bark MSS., iS 
Black Yajurveda, 177, 179, 180 
Blackskins, 152 

Bloomfield, Professor, 186, 189 
Boar, 148, 302 
Boats, 167 
Bodleian Library, 18 
Bohtlingk, Otto von, 379, 431, 433, 

434 ; and Roth's Dictionary, 63 
Bopp, Franz, 4 

Brahma, 133, 205, 219, 220, 223 
Brahma, 32, 182, 195, 401, 402 
Brahma, 93, 101, 102, 194, 285, 401, 

Brahma (priest), 102, 161, 194, 195, 

Brahmachdrin, 200 
Brahmagupta, 426, 435 
Brahma-mimdmsd, 400 
Brahmans, 17, 23, 73, 122, 183, 197, 

409, 411, 415, 425,430 
Brdhmana, 161 
Brahmanas, 31, 32, 33, 48, 49, 73, 81, 

88, 93, 96, 99, 101, 105, 107, 112, 

1 17. 133, 145. *5 6 , 162, 189, 190, 

195, I9 6 202-218 
Brahmanism, 7 

Brahma Sphuta-siddhdnta, 435 
Bi'ahma-sutras, 402, 403 
Brahmavarta, 141, 155, 175 

Brahma-veda, 1S9, 195 

Brahma-vidyd, 195 

Brdhml writing, 15, 17, 18 

Brahmodya, 131 

Brihaddranyaka Upaniahad, 213, 

219, 221, 222, 223, 224, 234-238 
Brlli addevata, 272, 273, 281, 378 
Brihadratha, 230 
Brihajjdtaka, 435 
Brihaspati, 102; sutras of, 406 
Brihatkathd, 376 
Brihatkathd-mavjarl, 376 
Brihatsamhitd, 318, 435 
Broach (town), 415 
Bronze, 151 
Buddha, II, 13, 15, 24, 215, 225, 

38, 309, 362, 387, 406, 421 ; as a 

Christian saint, 420 
Buddhacharita, 319 
Buddhism, 7, II, 25, 115,215,223, 

230, 322, 369, 386, 390, 395-396, 

397, 412, 414, 427 
Buddhist councils, 15, 308, 369, 413 ; 

influence, 375 ; literature, 156, 295, 

3c 5 , 37, 369, 379, 384,411,412, 

436 ; pilgrims, 13 ; sculptures, 377, 

Buddhists, 184, 286, 287, 308, 41 1 
Biihler, Professor, 6, 15, 16, 1 7, 186, 

259, 290, 322, 376 
Bunder-log, 149 
Burial, 125 
Burnell, A. C, 194, 290, 428' 

Cabara Svamin, 400 
Cacvata, 433 
Caka era, 413 
Cakalas, 52, 53 
^akalya, 50, 51, 268, 270 
Cakas ; 286, 322, 323, 412, 413 
Cakatayana, 268 ; pseudo-, 432 
Qakuntald, 3, 216, 283, 301, 348, 350, 

352, 353, 354-358, 416 
Cakyas, 215 



Calderon, 367 

Cdmbavya, Sutra, 249 

Canarese, 18, 28 

Candilya, 213 

Qankara, 240, 242, 289, 394, 402 ; 

(Civa) 182 
Cankha and Likhita, 262 
Cdnkhdyana Brdhrnana, 205, 206 ; 

Sutra, 49, 191, 205, 245, 249 
Cankhayanas, 252 
(Jdntiqataka, 378 
Cantor, 424, 434 
Carngadhara's Paddhati, 379 
Carvavarman, 432 
Caste, 20, 21, 33, 34, 133, 152, 160, 

161, 184 
Catalogues of MSS., 6 
Qatapatha Brdhrnana, 49, 53, 54 

w., 107, 108, no, 144, 155, 172, 

179, 180, 188, 191, 203, 206, 212- 

Categories, logical, 403, 404 
Cattle, 127, 147, 166 
Caunaka, 51, 186, 271, 274 
QaurasenI dialect, 27 
Ceylon, 25, 361, 412 
Chakravdka, 150, 343 
Chdnakya-gataka, 378 
Chanda-kaugika, 366 
Chandra, 432 
Chandragupta, 365, 410, 411, 412, 

413, 415 
Charaka, medical writer, 426, 427, 

43 5> 436 
Charaka school, 215 
Charaka -sarnhitd, 436 
Charana-vyuha, 52, 275 
Charanas, 245 
Chariot race, 150, 168 
Charitravardhana, 328 
Charvaka, 86, 405-407 
Chaturvarga-chintdmani, 430 
Chaurapanchdqikd, 339 
Chedis, 155, 157 

Chhandas (metre), 264 
Chhdndogya Brdhrnana, 210 
Chhdndogya Upanishad, 189, 210, 

221, 223, 224, 228, 229, 420 
Chinese works, 369 ; pilgrims, 13 
Christianity, 414 

Chronological strata, 179, 188, 203 
Chronology, absence of, 10; Vedic, 

Ciqupdlavadha, 320 
Cilhana, 378 
Civa, 74, 89, 153, 178, 181, 182,217, 

234, 300, 41 1 
Cloka metre, 56, 57, 279, 317 
Cloka-vdrttika, 400 
Clouds, 68, 69, 85, 109 
Coinage, transition to, 167 
Colebrooke, H. T., 3, 4, 429, 430 
Colour (caste), 86, 152, 161 
Comparative mythology, 6, 427 
Comparative philology, 6, 427 
Compound words, 65, 332 
Copperplate inscriptions, 18, 19 
Corn, 145 
Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, 14, 

Cosmical illusion (mdyd), 221, 395, 

401, 402 
Cosmogonic hymns, 135-137, 200 
Cosmogony, 132 
Cosmology, 300 
Cow, 68, 85, 98, 102, 108, 109, no, 

125, 149, 167 
Cowell, Prof. E. B., 432 
Cowkiller, 149 
Qraddha, 100 
iQraddha-kalpa, 257 
Qramana, 215, 41 1 
Crauta ritual, 192, 247-249 
Crauta Sutras, 36, 191, 244-249, 

QravastI, 309 

Creation, song of, 136-137 
Creator, 70, 132 



Cremation, 117, 125 

Cridharadasa, 379 

Qiiharsha, 330 

Crime, 163 

Qringdra-gataJca, 340-341 

(Jringdra-tilaka, 342, 434 

gruti, 34, 36, 205 

Cudraka, 361 

Cudras, 133, 153, 16 r 

Qukasaptati, 375-376 

Qulva Sutras, 264, 424 

Cunahgepa, legend of, 207 

Curasenas, 175, 411 

Curlew, 150 

Curtain, stage, 352, 415, 416 

Curtius, Quintus, 18, 19 

Qushna, 114 

Cutudri (Sutlej), 93, 140, 142, 154 

Qvetdqvatara Upanishad, 221, 233- 

234, 405 
Cyrus, 408 

Daqakumdra-charita, 332 

Dagarupa, 434 

Dahlmann, J., 286 

Daksha, 132 

Dakshind, 149 

Damodara Micra, 366 

Ddnastuti, 127, 188 

Dancing, 169 

Dandin, 320, 321, 329, 330, 332, 361, 

Darius, 408, 409 
Dasas, 113, 152, 161 
Dasyus, 113, 152, 153 
Daughters, undesirable, 163, 208 
Dawn, 78, 81-83, 169 
Ddyabhdga, 430 
Debt, 163 
DegindmamcUd, 433 
Dekhan, 9, 28, 144, 429 
Deluge, 216, 294 
Demetrios, 412 
Demigods, 106-108 

Democritus, 422 

Demons, 68, 72, 85, 112, 113 

Deussen, Professor, 242, 400 

Deva, 68 

Devaeravas, 155 

Devandgarl, 17 

Devatddhydya Brdhmana, 211 

Devavata, 155 

Devaydna, 224 

Dhammapada, 379 

Dhanamjaya, 434 

Dhanvantari, 324 

Dharma, 37, 193 

Dharma-nibandhas, 429 

Dltarma-ratna, 430 

Dharma Sutras, 37, 193, 194, 258- 
262, 428 

Dhatri, 101 

Dhdtupdtha, 431 

Dhavaka, 362 

Dialects of Sanskrit, 22, 23 ; of 
modern India, 24 ; of Prakrit, 27 

Dialogues in Rigveda, 1 19 

Dice, 128, 169 

Didactic hymns, 127-129 

Dignaga, 324 

Dinakara Micra, 328 

Dio Chrysostomos, 414 

Dioskouroi, 84 

Directorium humance vitce, 417 

Diseases, 196 

Distillers, 165 

Doab, 27, 174 

Dogmatic textbooks, 205 

Dogs of Yama, 117 

Drahyayana, his Crauta Sutra, 245 

Drama, arrangement of, 351-352 ; 
character of, 348-350 ; classes of, 
368 ; dialects in, 23 ; Greek, 350, 
414, 415, 416; origin of, 346-347* 

Draupadl, episode of, 295 

Dravidian dialects, 28 

Dress, 164 



Drishadvati, 141, 142, 155, 174, 210 

Dropsy, Jj, 207 

Druhyus, 153, 154 

Drum deified, 1 1 2, 200 

Dual deities, 69, 104, 194 

Duhsha^n ta. 216, 354 

Dwarf (Vishnu\ 81, 302 

Dya Dviveda, 378 

Dyaus, 68, 74, 81, 93 

D.ydv dprithivl, 104 

Eagle, 78, 99 

East India House, 5 

Eastward migration, 214 

Eclecticism, 405 

Eclipse, 114, 325 

Eggeling, Professor, 212, 431, 432, 

433. 434, 437 

Elephant, 148 

Elizabethan drama, 350 

Empedocles, 421, 422 

Encyclopaedia of Indo- Aryan Re- 
search, 5, 6, 428 

Enigmas, 131 

Epics, 88, 281, 414 

Epigraphia lndica, 14 

Epigraphy, importance of, 14, 15 

Ethical poetry, 377~3 8 4 

Etymology, 264 

Eudemos, 410 

Eukratides, 412 

Euthydemos, 412 

Evolution, 136, 137 

Exaggeration, 278 

Ezour Vedam, I 

Fables, style of, 368 
Ea Hian, 13 
Faust, 416, 417 
Fee, sacrificial, 149 
Eergusson, James, 323 
Fetters of Varuna, 76, 207 
Filter of sheep'u wool, 97 
Fire-sticks, 8, 95, 146 

Fish, 143, 216, 295 

Five Tribes, 153, 155 

Fleet, Mr. J. F., 319, 322, 323 

Flood, legend of, 216, 294 

Food, 164, 165 

Foreign visitors of India, 13 

Forest nymph, III 

Franke, Professor O., 432 

Frog-hymn, 121, 122 

Funeral hymns, 116, 1 18, 124-127 

Funeral rites, 256-257 

Future life, 1 1 5 

Gambler's lament, 127-128 
Gambling, 168 
Ganapdtha, 431 
Ganaratna-mahodadhi, 431 
Gdnas, 171 
Gandarewa, 108 
Gandhara, 15, 413 
Gandharas, 153, 213, 408, 409 
Gandharis, 153, 156, 195 
Gandharva, 107, 108 ; Gandharvas 

Ganeca, 251 
Ganges, 9, 24, 93, 142, 156, 157, 

174, 176, 295, 316, 410, 411, 

Gargya, 268 
Gatha dialect, 26 
Gdthas, 191, 203, 208 
Gauda style, 303 
Gaudapada, 241-243, 393 
Gaurjarl dialect, 27 
Gautama's Dharma Castra, 260-261 
Gautamas, 215 
Gdyatrl, 56, 68, 79 
Generation, reciprocal, 132 
Geographical data in RJgveda, 139- 

Geometry, Greek and Indian, 424- 

Ghanapdtha, 51 
Ghatakarpara, 339 



Girnar, 15, 321 
Gltagovinda, 344, 347 
Gnostics, 423, 424 
Goat, sacrificial, 125 
Goats of Pushan, 80 
Gobhila Sutra, 250 
Goblins, 97 
Goddesses, 103, 104 
Gods, character of, 72, 73 ; equip- 
ment of, 72 ; groups of, 105, 106 ; 

number of, 73, 74 
Goethe, 3, 354, 416 
Gold, 151 

GomatI (Gomal), 140 
Gopatha Brdhmana, 195, 203, 217- 

Gotama, 405 
Gotama Rahugana, 214 
Govindaraja, 429 
Graeco-Bactrian kings, 412, 415 
Graeco-Indian period, 412 
Grammar, 39, 50, 264, 267, 26S, 430- 

Grammarians, influence of, 21 
Grantha (book), 19 
Great Bear, 109 
Greeks, 5, 6, 7, 10, II, 13, 14, 286, 

307, 308, 325 ; in India, 409-412, 

415, 416 
Grihya ritual, 251-257 
Grihya Sutras, 37, 185, 1S9, 192- 

193, 249-251 
Gujarat, 19, 147, 173, 175, 411, 412, 

Guradhya, 318, 376 
Gupta era, 320 
Guptas, 323, 413 

Hala, 344 
Halayudha, 433 
Hamilton, Alexander, 3, 4 
llanuman-ndtaka, 366 
Hanumat, 312 
Haoma, 68, 99, 100 

Haravijaya, 330 

Haricchandra, 207, 20S 

Haridas, 399 

Harishena, 320, 321, 324 

Harivam^a, 282, 283, 287, 288, 294, 
299, 300, 301 

Harshacharita, 318, 332, 334, 362 

Harshavardhana, 318, 361, 413 

Hartmann, E. von, 424 

Hastings, Warren, 2 

Hathayoga, 398 

Heaven, 116 

Heaven and earth, 104, 106, 132 

Heavens and hells, 390 

Heine, Heinrich, 344, 427 

Heliokles, 412 

Hells, 117 

Hemachandra, 432, 433 

Hemadri, 257, 430 

Henotheism, 71 

Herbs and charms, 196 

Herder, 3 

Hero (geometrician), 424 

Herodotus, 408, 409 

Himalaya, 9, 18, 23, 24, 141, 144, 
145, 148, 410 

Hindi dialect, 17, 27 

Hindu, 95, 141 

Hindu Kush, 139. 

Hindustan, 141 

Hiouen Thsang, 13, 18, 26, 413 

Hippokrates, 426 

Hiranyagarbha, 132, 135, 137 

Hiranyakecin, 259 ; his Crauta Su- 
tra, 246 ; his Grihya Sutra, 250 ; 
school of, 176 

History, 430 ; lack of, io, 1 1 

Uitopade^a, 3, 373~374, 378, 380, 
381, 382 

Holtzmann, Prof. Adolf, 287 

Homer, 414 

Homeric age, 12; Greek, 20 

Hopkins, Professor, 145, 428 

Uorcqdstra, 425, 435 



Horse, 109, 149; sacrifice, 109, 150, 

House of clay, 77, 125 
Hunas, 323 
Hunting, 166 
Hymn of Man, 132, 133 

I TSING, 13, 34O 

I<*a Upanishad, 238 

Icana (Civa), 178, 206 

Icvara Krishna, 393 

Identifications of gods, 70 

Ikshvaku, 157, 230, 305, 311 

Iliad, 414 

Images of gods, 72, 210 

Immortality, acquired, 71, 98, 99; 

relative, 71. 
Incantations, 121 
India of Alberuni, 418 
Indices, Vedic, 39, 274 
Indika of Megasthenes, 411 
Indische Spriiche, 379 
Indo-European period, 104, 126, 185, 

Indo- Iranian period, 43, 87, 100, no, 

118, 170, 253, 263 

Indra, 74, 84-87, 99, 105, 108, 114, 

119, 152, 153, 172, 183, 411; a 
warrior, 86, 96 ; and Maruts, 90 ; 
and Varuna, 75, 88, 119; his 
heaven, 107, 296 

Indrani, 1 19 

Indus, 9, 24, 140, 141, 142, 143, 147, 

151, 155, 174, 409, 410, 411, 

Industries, 167 
Initiation, rite of, 252-253 
Ink, 19 
Inscriptions, 14 ; importance of, 319 ; 

style of, 321 
Interpretation, Vedic, 59-64 
Intoxication, 87, 99 
IravatI (Ravi), 140 
Iron, 151 ; leg of Vicpala, 84 

Irrigation, 166 
Itihdxa, 191, 281 

Jacobi, Professor, 12, 304, 307, 312, 

Jagatl metre, 57 
Jaimini, 399 

JaiminJya Brahmana, 203 
Jaiminlya-nyaya-mala-vistara, 400 
Jaiminlyas, 209 
Jain inscriptions, 26 
Jainism, 25, 386, 390, 395, 396 
Janaka, 214, 216, 223 
Janamejaya, 213, 216 
Jatalcas, 306-307, 369, 376, 377, 

Jatdpatha, 51 
Javanese translation of Mahdbhdrata, 

Jayadeva, 344, 345 
Jayaditya, 432 
Jester, 350, 363, 416 
Jimutavahana, 430 
Jina, 395 

Jolly, Professor J., 428 
John of Capua, 418 
John of Damascus, 419 
Jones, Sir W., 3, 358 
Jumna, 141, 152, 174 
Jupiter, 68, 102 
Jyotisha, 264 

Ka (a god), 101 

Kabul (river), 141, 144, 152 

Kabulistan, Eastern, 141, 143 

Kaci (Benares), 222 

Kacikd Vritti, 432 

Kadambari, 332 

Kaiyata, 431 

Kala, 200 

Kalacoka, 308 

Kalapas, 175 

Kalhana, 430 

Kalidasa, 108, 216, 301, 318, 320, 



321, 330, 33i, 335. 337, 342, 353, 
415, 416 ; date of, 10, 324-325 

Kalllag and Damnaf/, 370, 417 

Kalilah and Dimnah, 370, 417, 419 

Kalpa, 264 

Kalpa Sutras, 244 

Kama, 101, 200, 415 ; his arrows, 
101, 198 

Kdmaduh, no 

Kamandaka, 374 

Kamsavadha, 347 

Kanada, 403, 404 

Kanishka, 319, 322, 426, 436 

Kant, 221 

Kan va school, 177, 212 

Kanvas, 42, 154 

Kapila, 390, 393 

Kapilavastu, 13, 215, 393 

Kapixhthala-Katha-Samhitd, 1 76 

Kapishthalas, 175, 215 

Karana, 435 

Kdrikds, (ritual) 271, (grammatical) 

Karma, 224, 388 
Karmapradlpa, 270 
Kashmir, 144, 175, 186, 412, 413, 430, 

Kashmiri dialect, 27 
Katantra, 432 

Katha school, 175, 176, 212, 215 
Kdthaka section of Taittirlya Brali- 

mana, 212 
Kdthaka Samhitd, 54 n., 176, 285 ; 

Upanishad, 212, 220, 225, 232-233; 

Sutra, 251 
Kathdsaritsdgara, 362, 376, 377> 

Kathenotheism, 71 
Katlya Sutra, 250 
Katyayana, 23, 178, 191, 267, 273, 

274, 275, 431 ; his Crauta Sutra, 

Kaugika Sutra, 251 
Kaushitaki Aranyaka, 209 ; Brdh- 

mana, 203, 206, 207 ; Upanishad, 

209, 225, 227 
Kaushitakins, 210 
Kauthumas, 173, 174 
Kautsa, 61 
Kaviraja, 331 

Kdvyddar^a, 22, 329, 330, 434 
Kdvydlamkdra, 421, 434 
Kavyalamkdra-vritti, 434 
Kdvya-prakdc ( a, 434 
Kavyas, 278, 281, 310, 318 ; age of, 

319; style of, 326; prose, 321, 

Kekayas, 213 
Kena Upanishad, 209, 229 
Khddira Sutra, 250 
Kharoshthl writing, 15, 1 8 
KhUas in the Rigveda, 51 
Kielhorn, Professor, 6, 367, 431, 432 
Kings, 158; inauguration of, 199 
Kipling, Mr. Rudyard, 149 
Kirdtdrjuniya, 329 
Kosalas, 213, 214, 215 
Kramapdtha, 51, 209 
Krishna, 157, 165, 301-302,405, 411, 

Krishna Migra, 366 
Krivis, 155, 157 
Kriyayoga, 398 
Krumu (Kurum), 140 
Kshapanaka, 324 

Kshemendra Vyasadasa, 290, 376-377 
Kshemigvara, 366 
Ktesias, 409 
Kubha (Kabul), 140 
Kugikas, 1 55 
Kuhn, Adalbert, 6, 186 
Kulluka, 428, 429 
Kumdra-sambhava, 326, 328 
Kumarila, 260, 261, 262, 271, 289, 

Kuntdpa hymns, 188 
Kurukshetra, 155, 174, 210 
Kuru-Panchalas, 174, 207, 213, 214 



Kurus, 156, 157, 175, 216, 283, 285 
Kushanas, 413 
Kusumdnjali, 405 

La Fontaine, 418 

Laghujdtaka, 435 

Laghu-Jcaumudl, 432 

Lalitavistara, 26 

Language of the Brahman as, 203 ; of 

the Aranyakas and Upanishads, 

Lassen, Prof. Christian, 311 
Latyayana, his Crauta Sutra, 191, 

Law-books, 428-430 
Legends in Brahmanas, 207 
Levi, Sylvain, 433 
Lexicography, 433 
Libraries, Sanskrit, 20 
Light of Asia, 427 
Lightning, 74, 85, 90, 96, 99, 328, 

336 ; deities, 88-89 ; compared 

with laughter, 75, 89 
Lingdnuc ( dmna, 432 
Lion, 147, 148 
Liquor, 165 
Love, god of, 101 
Love-story, oldest Indo-European, 

Lullaby, 120 

Lunar mansions, 99, 195, 425 
Lute, 169 
Lyrics in drama, 350 

Macaka, his Crauta Sutra, 245 

Madhava, 275, 276, 400, 406, 407 

Madhyadeca, 160, 214 

Madhyamdinas, 177, 212 

Magadha, 24, 155 

Magadhas, 156, 195 

Magsdhl dialect, 27 

Magha, 329 

Magic, 97 

Magical hymns, 1 20 

Mahdbhdrata, 153, 154, 156, 157, 165, 
175, 193, 216, 278, 281,282-298, 
299, 300, 301, 303, 309, 325, 354, 
367. 378, 380, 383, 39^, 394, 396, 
398 ; its date, 287 ; its episodes, 
294-298, 414 ; its main story, 291- 
294 ; its nucleus, 284, 285 ; its 
recensions, 283 ; recited now, 288 ; 
a smriti, 284, 287, 288, 289 

Malidbhdshya, 189, 322, 347, 414, 431 va, 178, 182, 206 

Mahakavyas, 330 

Mahdndrdyana Upanishad, 211 

Maharashtri dialect, 27 

Maltdvlracharita, 364 

Mahavrishas, 195 

Mahecvara, 433 

Maitrdyana UpanisUad, 212, 230, 

Maitrdyanl Samhitd, 54 n., 176, 180, 
183, 212 

Maitrayaniyas, 175, 215 

Maitreyi, 222 

Mdlatlmddhava, 363 

Malava era, 320, 323 

Mdlavikdgnimitra, 353, 354, 360 

Malayalam, 28 

Mallinatha, 324, 327, 328, 330 

Mammata, 434 

Mdnava Qrauta Sutra, 246 ; Dharma 
Sutra, 262, 428 ; Grihya Sutra, 
250, 429 ; Dharma^dstra, 428 

Mandukas, 52 

Mandukeyas, 50, 52 

Mandukya, 241 

Man-eating tiger, 148 

Manes, 125, 169 

Manlcha-ko$a, 433 

Manoravasarpana, 144 

Mantra and Brahma na, 180 

Manira-brdhmana, 250 

Mantrapdtha, 250 

Mantras, 177-180, 187 

Manu, 108, 156, 175, 216, 261, 262, 



295 299> 394, 398 5 code of, 3, 193, 
428 ; ship of, 144 ; and fish, 300 
Manyu, 101 
Mara, 225 

MarathI dialect, 17, 27 
Marriage ritual, 162, 254, 263-264 
Maruts, 85, 87-90, 105 
Mashi (ink), 19 
Matari^van, 70, 88, 108 
Materialists, 405-407 
Mathava, 214, 215 
Mathematics, 434-435 
Mathura, 26, 27, 175, 322, 323, 41 1 
Matsya (fish), 143, 300 
Matsyas, 154, 157, 175 
Maues (Moa), 412 
Maury a dynasty, 410 
Max Muller, Professor, 6, 12, 276, 

322, 323 
Mechanical formulas, 183 
Medhatithi, 429 

Medicine, Greek and Indian, 426- 
427 ; Indian, 435-436 ; in the 
Atharvaveda, 196 

Megasthenes, 13, 148, 158, 286, 308, 
411, 416 

Meghaduta, 324, 335-336 

Menander, 412 (king), 416 (poet) 

Metre, 267 ; in drama, 349 ; Vedic, 
55 ; post-Vedic, 279, 281 

Milinda, 412 

Milk and soma, 98 

Mlmamsa system, 399-400, 407 

Mirage, 108, 401 

Mitdkshard, 424 

Mithila, 214 

Mithra, 68 

Mitra, 68, 78 

Mitra-Varuna, 1 04 

Mixed castes, 184 

Moabite stone, 16 

Mohamudgara, 378 

Monkey, 1 1 9, 148 

Monotheistic tendency, 70, 96 

Moon (Soma), 100 

Moral philosophy, 384 

Morality, 163 ; divine, 73 

Mountains, 1 14 

Mricchakatikd, 360-361, 416 

Mudrd, 399 

Mudrd-rdkshasa, 365, 378 

Mugdha-bodha, 432 

Muhammadan conquest, 9, 13, 18, 26, 

413. 430 
Muhammadans, 7 
Mujavat, 144 
Mujavats, 153, 156, 195 
Mundaka Upanishad, 222, 240 
Music, 169, 436-437 
Musicians, 170 
Mutiny, Indian, no 
Mythology of Rigveda, 6"] ; of Yajur- 

veda, 181 

Nachiketas, story of, 212, 225, 232 

Ndgdnanda, 362 

Ndgarl, 17 

Nagas, in 

Nagojibhatta, 431 

Naigeya school, 174 

Naishadhlya, 330 

Nala, episode of, 296-298 

Nalodaya, 330, 345 

Narada, 208 

Ndrada-smriti, 429 

Narmada, (Nerbudda), 144, 176, 177, 

Ndsatyau, 61 
Nasik, 26, 175 
Natha, 327 
Nature in the drama, 354 ; in lyric 

poetry, 343 
Ndtya-qdstra, 433 
Naubandhana, 144 
Navaprabhramcana, 144 
Navasdhasdnka-charita, 331 
Navigation, 143, 167 
Nearchos, 19 



Neo-Platonists, 422, 423 

Niddna Sutra, 273 

JVigama-pariqishta, 275 

Nighantu-qesha, 433 

Nilakantha, 283, 290 

Nirukta of Yaska, 269-270, 273, 281 

Nirvana, 395 

Nishka, 167 

Niti$ataka, 378 

Nitiqastra, 374 

Nltimanjarl, 378 

Nitisara, 374 

North, Sir Thomas, 418 

Northern Buddhists, 26 

Nyaya system, 403-405 

Nydya-sutra, 405 

Oldenberg, Professor, 204 

One Being, 131 

Oral tradition, 122 ; its importance 

in India, 16 
Ornaments, 164 
Orthodoxy, 386 
Oshadhi, in 
Owl, 117 

Pad a text, 50, 51, 52 

Pada (metrical unit), 55 

Padapdtha, 51, 209 

Paddhatis, 271 

Padmagupta, 331 

Padmapurdna, 295 

Paippalada recension of Atharvaveda, 

Pahlavas, 286 
Pali, 25 ; literature, 280, 283, 295, 

37> 379 J manuscript, 18 
Palm-leaf MSS., 18 
Panchacikha, 393 
Panchalas, 156, 157, 175, 285 
Pancharatras, 402 
Pancha-siddhdntikd, 435 
Panchatantra, 368-373, 377, 378, 

381, 382, 384, 419 

Panchavimqa Brahmana, 203, 2IO 

Pandus, 216, 283 

Panegyrics, 127 

Panini, 17, 22, 36, 39, 265, 268, 269, 

279, 309, 3IO. 326, 407, 430 431, 

Panis, 113, 119, 346 
Panjab, 9, 139, 140, 143, 145, 150, 

160, 175, 410, 415 
Panjabi dialect, 27 
Pantheism, 7c, 133, 221 
Paper MSS., 18 
Paragara, 262 
Pardqara-smriti, 429 
Paradox, 132 

Pdraskara Grihya Sutra, 250, 429 
Parchment, 19 
Paribhashendu-gekhara, 431 
Parifishtas, 186, 270, 274, 275 
Parjanya, 74, 91, 92 
Parrots, 150 
Parsis and Haoma, 146 
ParushnI (Ravi), 140, 154, 155 
Pataliputra (Patna), 13, 308, 410, 

Patanjali, 22, 23, 175, 189, 265, 308, 

396, 397, 400, 431 
Path of the fathers and of the gods, 

Pauravas, 410 
Pavamana hymns, 43 
Peahens, 150 
Peepul tree, 146 
PehlevI, 369, 377, 417 
Persians, 7 

Personification, 67, 69 
Pessimism, n, 230, 392, 424 
Phallus worship, 153 
Philosophical poems, 131-138 
Philosophy, Greek and Indian, 421- 

Philostratus, 415 
Phit-Sutras, 432 
Phonetics, 50, 264-265 



Pigachas, 114 

Pigeon, 117 

Pilpay, fables of, 417, 418 

Pingala, 267 

Pippalada, 240 

Pischel, Professor, 361, 432, 434 

Pitriydna, 224, 225 

Plants deified, 1 1 1 

Plays in inscriptions, 367 

Plotinus, 423 

Plough deified, 1 12 

Poetical skill in Rigveda, 66 

Poetics, 433-434 

Political organisation, 158 

Popular spells, 185 

Porphyry, 423 

Porus, 410 

Prabodha-chandrodaya, 366, 367 

Praqna [fpanishad, 240 

Pragdtha metres, 58 

Prajapati, 77, 101, 102, 132, 133, 136, 

137, 181 
Prakrit, 22, 23, 25, 310, 322 ; accent, 

53 ; dialects, 27 ; in plays, 27, 348, 

350; in lyrics, 344 
Prdkrita-prakdqa, 432 
Prakriti, 138, 391 
Prakriyd-kaumudl, 432 
Prana, 200 
Praticakhyas, 38, 46, 50, 51, 188, 265, 

Praudha Brdhmana, 210 
Pravarddhydya, 275 
Prayogas, 271 
Prigni, 89, 109 

Priest, domestic, 159, 193, 195 
Priesthood, 34, 159, 160 
Prithivi, 74, 93, 103 
Prometheus, Indian, 108 
Prose, 187, 202, 203, 207, 278 ; oldest, 

32 ; in drama, 350 
Psychology, 392, 404 
Ptolemy II., 415 
Punishment, future, 116 

Purdna, 191, 281 

Puranas, 52, 138, 194, 281,299-302 

325, 3 8 8, 394, 395, 43 
Purohita, 193, 195 
Purukutsa, 154 
Pururavas, 107, 119, 216, 346 
Purus, 153, 154, 156, 157 158 
Purusha, 132, 133, 137, 222 
Purusha hjmn, 132, 190 
Purushottamadeva, 433 
Pushan, 79-80, 125, 164 
Pythagoras, 422 

Rdghavapdndaviya, 33 1 

Raghuvamqa, 30 1, 325, 26, 

Rahu, 114 

Rain, 90 

Rain-cloud, 91, 92 

Rain-god, 91 

Rajagekhara, 366 

Rdjatarangini, 430 

Rajayoga, 398 

Rakshases, 114 

Raksliohan (Agni), 97 

Ram Charit Manas, 317 

Rama, 312 ; episode of, 295, 301, 

Ramachandra, 432 

Ramananda, 316 

Ramanuja, 316, 402 

Rdmdyana, 22, 133, 175, 216, 230, 
281, 288, 295, 302-317, 325, 327, 
414 ; allegorical theory about, 31 1 ; 
date of, 306-310 ; episodes of, 316 ; 
first Kavya, 306, 31 1 ; language of, 
309-310 ; main story of, 313-315 ; 
origin of, 304-305 ; popularity of, 
317 ; recensions of, 303 ; two parts 
of, 311; Vishnuite redaction of, 

Ramdyana-champu, 304 

Rdmdyana-kathdsdra-rnanjari, 303 

Ranayanlyas, 173 

Ratnakara, 330 



Ratndvall, 361-362 

Ratrl, 103, 104 

Havana, 312 

Rdvanavadha, 331 

Renaissance theory, 323 

Rhazes, medical writer, 427 

Rhinoplasty, 427 

Rhyme, 330, 345 

Ribhus, 106, 107 

Rice, 145 

Rich, 30 

Ricyacringa, legend of, 295 

Riddles, 130-131 

Riding, 150, 166 

Rigveda, 5, 16, 30 ; age of, 12, 46, 47; 
arrangement of, 40, 41 ; character 
of, 65 ; chronological strata in, 45, 
46 ; nucleus of, 41 ; origin of, 40 ; 
recension of, 53 ; text of, 47, 48 ; 
various readings in other Vedas, 
46 ; verses not analysed in Pada 
text, 51 n. ; family books, 41; 
Books I. and VIII., 42 ; Book IX., 
42-43. 97 ; Book X., 43-44 

Rigveda Prdticdkhya, 5 1 

Rigvidhdna, 274 

Riksha ("star " and " bear "), 109 

Rishis, seven, 109 

Rita, 67, 75 

Ritual, 31 ; deities, 65; text-books, 

Ritusamhdra, 3, 337-339 

Rivers deified, 92, 93 

Roger, Abraham, 1 

Rohita, 200, 207 

Romaka-siddhdnta, 325, 425 

Romans, 11 

Rosen, F., 4 

Roth, Rudolf von, 5, 60, 6^, 64, 102, 
117, 141, 186 

Riickert, 345 

Rudra, 72, 74, 89,91, 105, 164, 178, 

Rudrabhata, 434 

Rudras, 105 
Rudrata, 421, 434 

Sacerdotalism, 183 

Sacraments, 251 

Sacred cord, 253 

Sacrifice, 159, 407; power of, 73, 183 ; 
growing importance of, 182* 

Sacrificial fee, 159; horse, 125; im- 
plements, 112; post, 112 

Sadananda Yogindra, 402 

Sadanira (river), 214 

Sadukti-karndmrita, 379 

Sdhitya-darpana, 348, 434 

Saketa, 308 

Salt, 150 

Salvas, 213 

Salvation, doctrine of, 389, 406 

Sdmaveda, 30, 170, 1 71-174; accent 
of, 54*1. ; various readings of, 173 

Sdmavidhdna Brdhmana, 21 1 

Samhitd, 29 ; text, 47, 48, 49, 50 

Samhitd-pdtha, 209 

Samhitopanishad, 211 

Sandhi, 21, 48 

Sankhya system, 133, 137, 215, 230, 
231. 234, 390-395, 404, 405, 407, 
422, 423, 424 

Sankhya -kdrikd, 393 

Sdnkhya-prarachana, 393, 396 

Sankhya Sutras, 393, 396 

Sanskrit, 21 ; classical, 4 ; meaning 
of, 22 ; as a spoken language, 8, 
22-23 > Buddhist texts, 26 ; in 
Germany, 4 

Sanskrit dictionary, 5 ; epic, 309-3 10 ; 
inscriptions, 26 ; manuscripts, 8, 
18, 19, 20; period, 9, 10, 39; 
studies, 2, 3, 4 

Sanskrit literature, character of, 277- 
280 ; continuity of, 7, 8, 25 ; dis- 
covery of, 1-2 ; defects of, 10 ; 
extent of, 5 ; importance of, 6, 7, 
10 ; originality of, 7 ; periods of, 8 



Saptaqataka, 344 

SarasvatI, 93, 103, 119, 125, 140, 

141, 145, 155, 174, 210, 214 
Sarvadarqana-samgraha, 406, 407 
Sarvajna Narayana, 291 
Sarvdnukramani, 271-272 
Sat, 136 

Savitri, 8, 71, 78-79, 101, 164 
Savitri stanza, 19, 209, 232 
Savitri, episode of, 253-255, 296 
Sayana, 59, 61, 62, 174, 186, 259, 

270, 275-276, 378, 406 
Schiller, Friedrich, 335 
Schlegel, Friedrich, 4 
Schopenhauer, Arthur, 424 
Schroeder, Professor L. v., 1 76 
Scythians, 7, 322, 323, 412 
Sea, 68, 77, 143, 144 
Second birth, 253 
Sectarian systems, 407 
Secular hymns, 123 
Seleucus, 411, 415 
Semitic writing, 16 
Sententious tone, 368 
Serapion, 427 
Serpent, no; worship, III, 

Setubandha, 331 
Shadgurucishya, 271, 272 
Shadvimga Brdhmana, 210 
Shakespeare, 350, 364, 365, 416 
Shaving, 164 
Siddhdnta-giromani, 435 
Siddhdnta-kaumudl, 432 
Siddhantas, 426, 434 
Silver, 151, 152 
Simha, 147 

Simhdsana-dvdtrimqikd, 375 
Sindhi dialect, 27 
Sindhu, 93, 140, 143, 144 
Singers, 159 
Singing, 170 
Singhalese, 25 
Slta, 216, 305, 312 

Skanda Purdna, 295 

Skylax, 409 

Slaves, 152 

Smile, whiteness of, 75 

Smriti, 35, 37, 193, 205 

Solar deities, 77-81 

Solar race, 157 

Solstice, winter, 106 

Soma, 29, 30, 65, 68, 71, 74, 87, 92, 

97-100, 101, 123, 144, 145, 146, 

164, 165, 192, 205, 248 
Somadeva, 376 
Sons, importance of, 36, 208 
Sorcery, 185, 190, 191 
Soul, 19, 115, 222, 390, 391, 395, 404, 

Southern Buddhism, 25 
Sphuta, 407 

Srinjayas, 155, 157, 213 
Star, morning and evening, 85 
Stein, Dr. M. A., 430 
Stevenson, missionary, 173 
Stevenson, Mr. R. L., 399 
Stewart, Dugald, 2 
Stilus, 19 
Strabo, 151 
Strophic metre, 158 
Studentship, 253 
Style of Vedic poetry, 65 
Subandhu, 288, 321, 332, 379 
Subtilty, fondness for, 65 
Sugruta, 436 
Suqruta-samhitd, 436 
Sudas, 154, 155, 159, 169 
Sun, 78, 123, 134 
Suparnddhydya, 204 
Sura, 113 
Surd, 165 
Surya, 77, 78, 82 
Stirya, 84, 1 23, 124 
Surya-siddhdnta, 434 
Sutlej, 141, 145, 147, 174 
Sutras, 35, 36, 37, 38, 49j IOI, III 



169, 189, 191, 205, 208; subsi- 
diary, 38-39 

Suttapitaka, 369 

Suvastu (Swat), 140 

Svarbhanu, 114 

Svarita accent, 54 

Swan, wild, 150 

Syllogism, 404 

Taittiriya Aranyaka, i88,J2li ; Brdh- 

mana, 53, 180, 191, 203, 211 ; 

Samhita, 176, 177, 179, 190, 196, 

211 ; Upanishad, 211 
Taittiriyas, 176 
Takshacila, 409 
Talavakdra Upanishad, 229 
Talavakiiras, 209 
Tamil, 28 
Tandins, 209 
Tandy a Brdhmana, 210 
Tantravdrttika, 289, 400 
Telugu, 18, 28 
Thales, 422 
Theosophy, 186 
Thibaut, Dr., 325, 434, 435 
Three constituents of matter, 231, 

391 ; fires, 95 ; strides of Vishnu, 

80 ; Vedas, 133 ; worlds, 68 
Thunder, 85 
Tiger, 147, 148 
Towns, 158 
Trade, 167, 168 
Transmigration, 115, 223, 224, 225, 

277-278, 383. 387-389, 406, 422 
Trasadasyu, 154 
Trayl vidyd, 30, 191 
Tree, celestial, 116; deified, III 
Tribes, Aryan, 152-158 
Trikdnda-cesha, 433 
Trikuta, 144 
Trinity, earliest Vedic, 95 ; Hindu, 

88, 95, 102, 231, 277, 286, 301 
Trishtubh metre, 57, 68 
Trita Aptya, 88 

Tritsus, 154, 155, 156, 157, 158, 159 

Tulsl Das, 317 

Turvacas, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157 

Tvashtri, 106 

Twins, primeval, 118 

Ucchishta, 201 

Ucinaras, 155, 157 

Uddtta accent, 54 

Udayanacharya, 405 

Udgdtri priest, 33 

Ujjayini, 415, 421, 424 

Ujjvaladatta, 431 

Unddi-sutra, 431 

Unddigana-sutra, 432 

Upanishad Brdhmana, 209 

Upanishads, 34, 50, 99, 133, 178, 182, 

189, 191, 202, 204, 208, 218-243, 

385 ; chronology of, 226 
Urvagl, 107, 108, 1 19, 216, 346, 352 
Ushabhadata, 322 
Ushas, 81-83, 84, 103, 145 
Uttarardmacharita, 352, 364-365 

Vach, 93 

Vachaspati Micra, 393 

Vagbhata, 436 

Vaicall, 309 

Vaigeshika system, 403-405 

Vaicya, 133 

Vaidarbha style, 303 

Vaijayantl, 433 

Vaikhdnasa Qrauta Sutra, 246 ; 

Dharma Sutra, 262 ; Grihya Sutra, 

Vairdgya-qataka, 378 
Vaishnava Bharma-gdstra, 428 
Vaitana (jrauta Sutra, 217, 218, 

Vdjasaneya Sutra, 250 
Vdjasaneyi Samhita, IOI, I77~i79 

181, 184 
Vfijasaneyins, 176, 21 5 
Vakyapadlya, 431 



Vala, 102, 114 

Vdlakhilya hymns, 52, 127 

Vallabhadeva, 379 

Valmiki, 295, 305, 306, 310, 316, 

317, 327 
Vamana, 432 (gram.), 434 (rhetorician) 
Vamca Brdhmana, 2 1 1 
Varadaraja, 432 

Varaha Mihira, 318, 324, 425, 435 
Vararuchi, 324 
Vardhamana, 431 
Varna, 86 
Vdrttikas, 431 
Varuna, 70, 75, 76, 77, 78, 102, 105, 

113, 119, 125, 145, 169, 201, 207 
Vasishtha, 155, 159, 160 
Vasishtha Dharmacdstra, 260-261 
Vasishthas, 164 
Vdsavadattd, 332 
Vashkalas, 52 
Vasubandhu, 325 
Vasus, 105 
Vata, 90, 91 
Vatsabhatti, 320 
Vayu, 90, 91, 164 
Veda, 29 
Vedas and Brahmanas, 33 ; character 

of, 29-30 ; study of, 4, 5 ; learnt 

by heart, 8 
Vedangas, 264-267 
Vedanta, 34, 71, 133, 204, 221, 226, 

230, 238, 240, 241, 400-402, 405, 

407, 421 
Veddnta-sdra, 241 
Vedic, 29 ; language, 20 ; literature, 

5, 12; period, 8, II, 29; and 

Sanskrit, 20 
Venlsamhdra, 365-366 
Vernacular languages, 24 ; words in 

Vedic, 24 
Vetdlapanchavimcati, 375 
Vibhidaka tree, 128 
Vicakhadatta, 365 
Vicpala, myth of, 84 

Vicvakarman, 132, 134 

Vicvamitra, 154, 155 

Vicvanatha Kaviraja, 434 

Vicvaprakd^a, 433 

Vigvedevas, 106 

Vidarbha style, 303, 320, 321 

Videgha, 214, 215 

Videha, 213, 214, 215 

Vidhdna, 192 

Vijayanagara, 59, 275-276 

Vijnana-bhikshu, 394 

Vijnanegvara, 429 

Vikram and the Vampire, 375 

Vikrama, 320 

Vikramaditya, 320, 323, 324, 325, 

Vikramorvaci, 108, 353, 354, 358- 

Villages, 158 
Vina, 169 
Vinayakas, 251 
Vindhya range, 9, 18, 23, 141, 144, 

Vipag (Beas), 93, 140, 154 
Vishnu, 8, 74, 80-8 r, 89, 182, 194, 

411 ; avatars of, 300; cult of, 299, 

347 ; and sacrifice, 133 
Vishnu Purdna, 194 
Vishnu Smriti, 428 
Vitasta (Jhelum), 140 
Vivas vat, 97, 118 
Vocabulary of Atharvaveda, 196 
Voltaire, 1 
Vopadeva, 432 
Vratya, 187 ; Stomas, 210 
Vritra, 72, 84, 85, 86, no, 114, 312 
Vritrahan, 85 
Vritta (rhythm), 56 

Wackernagkl, Prof. J., 430, 432 
Warfare, 165-166. 
Waters deified, 92 
Wealth, 129, 130 
Weaving, 168 



Weber, Professor, 176, 177, 206, 212, 

307, 311, 360, 414, 415. 420 
Wedding ceremony, 8; hymn, 123- 

124, 149 
Wednesday (budhavdra), 262 
White Yajurveda, 177, 179, 206 
Whitney, Professor W. D., 186 
Widow, 126; burning, 126 
Wife, position of, 162 
Wilkins, Charles, 2 
Wilson, Prof. Horace Hayman, 60 
Windisch, Prof. E., 415 
Witchcraft, 31, 191, 192 
Wolf, 148 
Women, 129, 1 30 
Wood (original matter), 134 
World, origin of, 132 
World-giant, 132, 133 
Worshippers and gods, 73 
Writing, age of, 16 ; beginnings of, 

15, 408; two kinds, 15 ; materials, 

18, 19 

Yddava-prakdca, 433 
Yadavas, 157, 411 
Yadus, 153, 154, 156, 157 

Yajnavalkya, 213, 214, 222, 223 ; his 

Dharma Castra, 428 
Ydjnikl Upanishad, 21 1 
Yajurveda, 30, 73, 156, 174-184; 

schools of, 175 
Yama, 68, 70, 74, 98, 116, 117, 118, 

125, 146, 169, 218, 225 ; and Yaml, 

"9, 346 
Yaml, 117 

Yamuna (Jumna), 142, 154, 411 
Yaska, 22, 46, 50, 60, 61, 62, 258, 

265, 267, 268, 269, 273, 274 
Ydtrds, 244, 345, 347 
Yavanas, 415, 425 
Yavanikd, 415, 416 
Year, enigma of, 131; lunar and 

solar, 106 
Yima, 68, 118 
Yimeh, 1 18 

Yoga, 232, 396-399, 405 407. 423 
Yoga Sutras, 396, 398 
Yueh-chi tribes, 413 

Zacharle, Prof. T., 433 
Zeus, 68, 74, 75, 411, 425 
Zoroastrian devas, 113 ; rite, 253 




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Cloth, $2.50. 

The Rise and Growth of the English Nation. 

With Special Reference to Epochs and Crises. A History of 
and for the People. By W. H. S. Aubrey, LL. D. In three 
volumes. izmo. Cloth, $4.50. 

Bancroft's History of the United States, 

From the Discovery of the Continent to the Establishment of 
the Constitution in 1789. (Also Edition de Luxe y on large 
paper, limited to one hundred sets, numbered.) Complete in 
six volumes, with a Portrait of the Author. 8vo. Cloth, uncut, 
gilt top, $ 1 5.00 ; half calf or half morocco, $27.00 ; tree calf, 




Edited by W. Douglas Morrison. 

JDOLITICAL CRIME. By Louis Proal. With an 

* Introduction by Prof. F. H. Giddings, of Columbia University. 

i2mo. Cloth, $1.50. 

"With the spirit of his work it is impossible to disagree. M. Proal's aim is to 
show that the successes of political immorality are fleeting ; that principle is superior to 
expediency ; that audacity is dangerous ; that unprincipled politics are pagan politics, 
and detrimental to progress of society; that a return to principles and moral beliefs and 
the substitution of ideas for appetites are the true remedy of that hideous malady 
political corruption. ... A careful reading leaves the reader convinced of the truth of 
the proposition, that the only successful policy in the art of government is a moral 
policy. ' ' Independent. 

^S las Morrison, author of "Jews under the Romans," etc. 
i2mo. Cloth, $1.50. 

"An admirable work on one of the most vital questions of the day. ... By scien- 
tists, as well as by all others who are interested in the welfare of humanity, it will be 
welcomed as a most valuable and a most timely contribution to the all-important sci- 
ence of criminology." New York Herald. 

" Of real value to scientific literature. In its pages humanitarians will find much to 
arrest their attention and direct their energies in the interest of those of the young who 
have gone astray." Boston Daily Globe. 

i2mo. Cloth, $1.50. 

" A most valuable book. It is suggestive of reforms and remedies, it is reasonable 
and temperate, and it contains a world of information and well-arranged facts for those 
interested in or merely observant of one of the great questions of the day." Phila- 
delphia Public Ledger. 

"The scientist, the humanitarian, and the student will find much to indorse and to 
adopt, while the layman will wonder why such a book was not written years ago." 
Newark A dvertiser. 

y^HE FEMALE OFFENDER. By Professor Lom- 
J- BROSO. Illustrated. i2mo. Cloth, $1.50. 

" ' The Female Offender ' must be considered as a very valuable addition to scien- 
tific literature. ... It is not alone to the scientist that the work will recommend itself. 
The humanitarian, anxious for the reform of the habitual criminal, will find in its pages 
many valuable suggestions." Philadelphia Item. 

" This work will undoubtedly be a valuable addition to the works on criminology, 
and may also prove of inestimable help in the prevention of crime." Detroit Free 

"The book is a very valuable one, and admirably adapted for general reading." 
Boston Home yournal. 

" There is no book of recent issue that bears such important relation to the great 
subject of criminology as this book." New Haven Leader. 


QRIME A SOCIAL STUDY. By Professor Joly. 


Oom Paul's People. 

By Howard C. Hillegas. With Illustrations. 
i2mo. Cloth, #1.50. 

" He [the author] has written a plain, straightforward nar- 
rative of what he himself saw and learned during his recent visit 
to South Africa. . . . The only criticism of it will be that which 
Sam Weller passed on his own love letter, that the reader * will 
wish there was more of it' which is the great art of letter- writ- 
ing and of book- writing." New York World. 

"The first systematic and categorical exposition of the merits 
of the whole case and its origins written by a disinterested observer. 
. . . An informing book, and a well- written one." New York 

Mail and Express. 

" Gives precisely the information necessary to those who 
desire to follow intelligently the progress of events at the present 
time." New York Commercial Advertiser. 

"A most satisfactory and timely book." Chicago Times- 

"A most interesting and timely book." Boston Herald. 

Has all the timeliness of an up-to-date newspaper article ; 
in fact, some portions of it read almost like a cablegram from the 
Transvaal." New York Sunday World. 

"A book on the Boer troubles that is free from British 
prejudices and misrepresentations. ... It is the best book of 
the hour in its unbiased presentation of the Boer side of the con- 
troversy." Chicago Tribune. 



Each, small 8vo, half leather, $2*00* 
The History of the World, 

From the Earliest Historical Time to the Year 1898. By 
Edgar Sanderson, M. A., author of "A History of the British 
Empire," etc. 

The Historical Reference-Book. 

Comprising a Chronological Table of Universal History, a 
Chronological Dictionary of Universal History, and a Biograph- 
ical Dictionary. With Geographical Notes. For the use of 
Students, Teachers, and Readers. By Louis Heilprin. Fifth 
edition, revised to 1898. 

Natural History. 

By R. Lydekker, B. A.; W. F. Kirby, F. L. S. ; B. B. Wood- 
ward, F. L. S. ; R. KlRKPATRICK ; R. I. POCOCK ; R. BOWDLER 

Sharpe, LL. D.; W. Garstang, M. A.; F. A. Bather, M. A., 
and H. M. Bernard, M. A. Nearly 800 pages, and 500 
Illustrations drawn especially for this work. 


Fully illustrated. By Agnes M. Clerke, A. Fowler, F.R.A.S., 
Demonstrator of Astronomical Physics of the Royal College of 
Science, and J. Ellard Gore, F. R. A. S. 


The Races of Europe, 

A Sociological Study. By William Z. Ripley, 
Ph. D., Assistant Professor of Sociology, Massa- 
chusetts Institute of Technology ; Lecturer in An- 
thropology at Columbia University, in the City of 
New York. Crown 8vo, cloth; 650 pages, with 85 Maps 
and 235 Portrait Types. With a Supplementary Bibliography of 
nearly 2,000 Titles, separately bound in cloth, issued by the 
Boston Public Library. 178 pages. - - - - Price, $6.00 

' One of the most fascinating sociological and anthropo- 
logical studies that have been offered of late to the public. . . . 
The book is one to be studied with care, and it is a pleasure 
to commend it as most helpful to sociological students.' ' 

Chicago Evening Post. 

"Will win the approval of all thoughtful readers; and the 
care, patience, skill, and knowledge with which it is planned, 
and the highly satisfactory manner in which the plan is car- 
ried out, call for the very highest praise." 

Boston Saturday Evening Gazette. 

" One of the most important works of the year." 

New York Mail and Express. 

'* A valuable and interesting book. . . . Will attract the 
attention of all students of anthropology and all its kindred 
subjects. While it will most deeply interest advanced schol- 
arly readers, it at the same time abounds in value for those 
not among the learned classes." Chicago Inter-Ocean. 

"An important work in the domain of anthropology and a 
book of supreme interest at the present moment." 

Chicago Times-Herald. 

'* Not only a profound sociological study but a scholarly 
contribution to the science of anthropology and ethnology by 
an eminent authority." Philadelphia Press. 


Bird Studies with a Camera. 

With Introductory Chapters on the Outfit and Methods of the 
Bird Photographer. By Frank M. Chapman, Assistant Curator 
of Vertebrate Zoology in the American Museum of Natural 
History ; Author of " Handbook of Birds of Eastern North 
America' * and " Bird- Life." Illustrated with over ioo Photo- 
graphs from Nature by the Author. i2mo. Cloth, $1.75. 

Bird students and photographers will find that this book possesses for them a unique 
interest and value. It contains fascinating accounts of the habits of some of our com- 
mon birds and descriptions of the largest bird colonies existing in eastern North Amer- 
ica; while its Suthor's phenomenal success in photographing birds in Nature not only 
lends to the illustrations the charm of realism, but makes the book a record of surpris- 
ing achievements with the camera Several of these illustrations have been described 
by experts as " the most remarkable photographs of wild life we have ever seen.'* The 
book is practical as well as descriptive, and in the opening chapters the questions of 
camera, lens, plates, blinds, decoys, and other pertinent matters are fully discussed. 


A Guide to the Study of our Common Birds. With 75 full-page 
uncolored plates and 25 drawings in the text, by Ernest Seton 
Thompson. Library Edition. 1 zmo. Cloth, #1.75. 

The Same, with lithographic plates in colors. 8vo. Cloth, $5.00. 

TEACHERS' EDITION. Same as Library Edition, but con- 
taining an Appendix with new matter designed for the use of 
teachers, and including lists of birds for each month of the year. 
i2mo. Cloth, $2.00. 

TEACHERS' MANUAL. To accompany Portfolios of Colored 
Plates of Bird-Life. Contains the same text as the Teachers* 
t Edition of "Bird-Life," but is without the 75 uncolored plates. 
Sold only with the Portfolios, as follows : 

Portfolio No. I. Permanent Residents and Winter Visitants. 32 

Portfolio No. II. March and April Migrants. 34 plates. 
Portfolio No. III. May Migrants, Types of Birds' Eggs, Types of 

Birds' Nests from Photographs from Nature. 34 plates. 

Price of Portfolios, each, $1.25; with Manual, $2.00. The 

three Portfolios with Manual, $4.00. 

Handbook of Birds of Eastern North America. 

With nearly 200 Illustrations. 1 2mo. Library Edition, cloth, 
$3.00 ; Pocket Edition, flexible morocco, $3.50. 


RETURN TO the circulation desk ot any 
University of California Library 
or to the 
Bldg. 400, Richmond Field Station 
University of California 
Richmond, CA 94804-4698 


2-month loans may be renewed by calling 

1-year loans may be recharged by bringing 
books to NRLF 

Renewals and recharges may be made 4 
days prior to due date. 


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