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K\y^ a, a,Svv/eei: 

IbanOboofts on tbc Ibistorg of IRcUgions 


Religions of India 



Ph.D. (Leip.sic) 

professor of sanskrit and comparative philology in 
bryn mawk college 

" This holy mystery I declare unto you : 
There is nothing nobler ihaii htnnanityP 

The Mahabharata. 

Boston, U.S.A., and London 





Copyright, 1895, by 




muiiam H)wiQbt mbitnei^ 






The growing interest both in this country and abroad in the 
historical study of reUgions is one of the noticeable features 
in the intellectual phases of the past decades. The more gen- 
eral indications of this interest may be seen in such foundations 
as the Hibbert and Gifford Lectureships in England, and the 
recent organization of an American committee to arrange in 
various cities for lectures on the history of religions, in the 
establishment of a special department for the subject at the 
University of Paris, in the organization of the Muse'e Gui- 
met at Paris, in the publication of a journal — the Re7'ue de 
r Histoire des Religio7is — under the auspices of this Museum, 
and in the creation of chairs at the College de France, at the 
Universities of Holland, and in this country at Cornell Univer- 
sity and the University of Chicago,^ with the prospect of others 
to follow in the near future. For the more special indications 
we must turn to the splendid labors of a large array of scholars 
toiling in the various departments of ancient culture — India, 
Babylonia, Assyria, Egypt, Palestine, Arabia, Phoenicia, China, 
Greece, and Rome — with the result of securing a firm basis 
for the study of the religions flourishing in those countries — 

1 In an article by the writer published in the Biblical World (University of 
Chicago Press) for January, 1893, there will be found an account of the present 
status of the Historical Study of Religions in this country. 


a result due mainly to the discovery of fresh sources and to the 
increase of the latter brought about by exploration and incessant 
research. The detailed study of the facts of religion every- 
where, both in primitive society and in advancing civilization, 
and the emphasis laid upon gathering and understanding these 
facts prior to making one's deductions, has succeeded in set- 
ting aside the speculations and generalizations that until the 
beginning of this century paraded under the name of "Philos- 
ophy of Religion." 

Such has been the scholarly activity displayed and the fer- 
tility resulting, that it seems both desirable and timely to focus, 
as it were, the array of facts connected with the religions of 
the ancient world in such a manner that the summary resulting 
may serve as the point of departure for further investigations. 

This has been the leading thought which has suggested the 
series of Handbooks on the History of Religions. The treat- 
ment of the religions included in the series differs from pre- 
vious attempts in the aim to bring together the ascertained 
results of scholarship rather than to make an additional con- 
tribution, though the character of the scholars whose coopera- 
tion has been secured justifies the hope that their productions 
will also mark an advance in the interpretation of the subject 
assigned to each. In accord with this general aim, mere dis- 
cussion has been limited to a minimum, while the chief stress 
has been laid upon the clear and full presentation of the data 
connected with each religion. 

A uniform plan has been drawn up by the editor for the 
order of treatment in the various volumes, by following which it 
is hoped that the continuous character of the series will be se- 


cured. In this plan the needs of the general reader, as well 
as those of the student, for whom, in the first place, the series 
is designed, have been kept in view. After the introduction, 
which in the case of each volume is to be devoted to a setting 
forth of the sources and the method of study, a chapter follows 
on the land and the people, presenting those ethnographical 
and geographical considerations, together with a brief histori- 
cal sketch of the people in question, so essential to an under- 
standing of intellectual and religious life everywhere. 

In the third section, which may be denominated the kernel of 
the book, the subdivisions and order of presentation necessarily 
vary, the division into periods being best adapted to one reli- 
gion, the geographical order for another, the grouping of themes 
in a logical sequence for a third ; but in every case, the range 
covered will be the same, namely, the beliefs, including the 
pantheon, the relation to the gods, views of life and death, the 
rites — both the official ones and the popular customs — the reli- 
gious literature and architecture. A fourth section will furnish 
a general estimate of the religion, its history, and the relation 
it bears to others. Each volume will conclude with a full bib- 
liography, index, and necessary maps, with illustrations intro- 
duced into the text as called for. The Editor has been fortu- 
nate in securing the services of distinguished specialists whose 
past labors and thorough understanding of the plan and pur- 
pose of the series furnish a guarantee for the successful 
execution of their task. 

It is the hope of the Editor to produce in this way a series 
of manuals that may serve as text-books for the historical 
study of religions in our universities and seminaries. In ad- 


dition to supplying this want, the arrangement of the manuals 
will, it is expected, meet the requirements of reliable reference- 
books for ascertaining the present status of our knowledge of 
the religions of antiquity, while the popular manner of presenta- 
tion, which it will be the aim of the writers to carry out, justi- 
fies the hope that the general reader will find the volumes no 
less attractive and interesting. 

University of Pennsylvania. 



IT has been said somewhere by Lowell that " an illustration 
is worth more than any amount of discourse," and, if we 
were asked to specify in which regard we thought that this 
manual, when compared with the only other book that covers 
the same ground, was likely to be useful, we should reply 
that, whereas Barth in his admirable handbook (the out- 
growth of an article in the Encyclopedie des Sciences Religieiises) 
aimed at making his reader know all about the religions of 
India, we have sought to make our reader know those religions. 
We have tried to show the lines on which developed the various 
theological and moral conceptions of the Hindus, not only by 
furnishing, from the point of view of a foreign critic, an anno- 
tated narrative of the growth of these conceptions, but also and 
chiefly by taking the reader step by step through the literature 
that contains the records of India's dosfmas. The scheme of 
Earth's Religions excludes all illustrative matter. His reader 
must take as authoritative the word of some modern scholar, 
or he must look up for himself the texts to which occasional 
reference is made. By omitting all quotations the author was 
enabled, in the compass of a small volume, to give an account, 
extraordinarily compact and complete, of every ramification of 
Hindu belief, and his book deserves all the praise that it 
has won. It is invaluable as exegesis. But it presents the 
religions of India as Bernhardy exhibits the literature of 
Greece, or as the daylight lecturer describes invisible stars. 
If one desire to orient himself in respect of any point of the 
Hindu creeds, if he v/ish a reliable sketch of those creeds, he 

xii , PREFACE. 

will obtain from Barth the information he is seeking, and find 
a survey not only traced in detail, but at the same time dis- 
cussed in so masterly a way as to make superfluous for long 
any new 7'esmne of the sort, withal despite the fact that in 
some regards Earth's views have become obnoxious to later 
criticism. But it is not to criticise Barth that this book was 
written. It is to reveal the religions of India by causing them 
to reveal themselves, and to elucidate them by commenting on 
them as they appear before the reader, traverse his field of 
vision, and finally leave his sight. We admit that it behooves 
whoever writes under the same title with that of the French 
savant, to show cause why he does so ; but we think that to 
open up the religions of India from within, and in orderly suc- 
cession to explain them as they display themselves, will not be 
otiose if there be any students ignorant of Sanskrit who yet 
desire independently to examine and to make their own the 
very words of the Hindu sages. 

In accordance with this plan of teaching Hindu religions we 
have been more prone to ignore than to collect such results 
of modern scholarship as tend to blur the picture we would 
show. For a first view of Greek theology Homer is more use- 
ful than Preller, and the same is true elsewhere. Above all, 
as we have said in the Introduction, in regard to many a recent 
' interpretation ' of Hindu deities, w^e are content to be con- 
servative. We doubt the historical value of most of these 
expositions, and, since we are not of those scholars that try 
to keep abreast of the times by swallowing every new idea, 
we have not been inclined to broach unsatisfactory theories 
without a good deal of provocation, which existed for us only 
in the case of one or two Vedic divinities, where the religious 
significance of new interpretations compelled attention. 

In regard to the great length at which we have reviewed the 
gods of the earlier period, we have not forgotten what differ- 
ence exists between mythology and religion, but we believe 

PREFACE. xiii 

that the reader will see, before he gets to the end of the 
book, that such amplitude of treatment as we have permitted 
ourselves was not alien to our proper subject-matter. 

We scarcely can hope that the professional Indologian will 
see much that is valuable to him in this work, which is in- 
tended only for students, although we think that our view of 
the relation of Vedic belief to that of the ' primitive Aryans ' 
is one that some scholars of the day might substitute with 
advantage for their own. But our more especial field of inves- 
tigation has lain along the lines marked by the two chapters 
on Hinduism, and these such Sanskrit scholars as have not 
made particular study of the Hindu epic perhaps may find to 
be readable. 

Although we have quoted Hindu works more often than we 
have referred to those of European scholars, yet have we 
endeavored to make the notes sufficiently copious to put the 
reader au courant with the most important studies of the 
present time. 

As to the method of writing Sanskrit words, being unable to 

adopt the unpleasant characters of the Sacred Books, and 

knowing no other system that is satisfactory both to English 

eye and to linguistic sense, we have employed the simplest 

transcription, ignoring, in fact, all Unguals save the sibilant, 

which alone can be rendered by English letters, and which 

usage has long made familiar. 

E. W. H. 

Brvn Mawr, Penna., July, i8g4. 


Chapter Page 

I. Introductfon I 

11. People and Land ........ 26 

III. The Rig Veda. — The Upper Gods .... 37 

IV. The Rig Veda (continued). — The Middle Gods . . 87 

V. The Rig Veda (continued). — The Lower Gods . 105 

VI. The Rig Veda (concluded). — Yama and Other Gods, 

Vedic Pantheism, Eschatology . . . .127 

VII. The Religion of the Atharva Veda . . . 151 

VIII. Early Hindu Divinities Compared with Those of 

Other Aryans 161 

IX. Brahmanism 176 

X. Brahmanic Pantheism. — The Upanishads . . 216 

VXI. The Popular Brahmanic Faith 242 

XII. Jainism 280 

XIII. Buddhism 298 

XIV. Early Hinduism 348 

XV. Hinduism (continued). — Vishnu and Qiva . . . 3S8 

XVI. The Puranas. — Early Sects, Festivals, the Trinity 434 

XVII. Modern Hindu Sects 472 

XVIII. Religious Traits of the Wild Tribes . . . 524 

^XIX. India and the West 542 

Addenda 572 

BiBLIOGRAPi.v ^73 


AIL Zimmer's Altindisches Leben. 

AMG Annales du Musee Guimet. 

AJP American Journal of Philology. 

AR Asiatick Researches. 

ASL Miillers Ancient Sanskrit Literature. 

BB Bezzenberger"s Beitriige. 

BOR Babylonian and Oriental Record. 

LA.. ..... Indian Antiquary. 

IF Indogermanische Forschungen. 

IS Weber's Indische Studien. 

JA Journal Asiatique. 

JAO.S Journal of the American Oriental Society. 

JRAS. . . . Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. 

KZ Kuhn's Zeitschrift flir vergleichende Sprachforschung. 

OLS Whitney's Oriental and Linguistic Studies. 

00 Benfey's Orient und Occident. 

OST Muir's Original Sanskrit Texts. 

PAOS. . . . Proceedings of the American Oriental Society. 

SEE Sacred Books of the East. 

WZKiSI. . . . Wiener Zeitschrift fiir die Kunde des Morgenlandes. 

VS Pischel's and Geldner's V'edische Studien. 

ZDA Ilaupt's Zeitschrift fiir Deutsches Alterthum. 

ZDMG. . . . Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft. 


Scai.k of Miles 


lOJ 200 *iO 4''lO 








India always has been a land of religions. In the earliest 
Vedic literature are found not only hymns in praise of the 
accepted gods, but also doubts in regard to the worth of 
these gods ; the beginnings of a new religion incorporated 
into the earliest records of the old. And later, when, about 
300 B.C., Megasthenes was in India, the descendants of those 
first theosophists are still discussing, albeit in more modern 
fashion, the questions that lie at the root of all religion. 
" Of the philosophers, those that are most estimable he 
terms Brahmans (/3pax/xavas). These discuss with many words 
concerning death. For they regard death as being, for the 
wise, a birth into real life — into the happy life. And in many 
things they hold the same opinions with the Greeks : saying 
that the universe was begotten and will be destroyed, and that 
the world is a sphere, which the god who made and owns it 
pervades throughout ; that there are different beginnings of 
all things, but water is the beginning of world-making, while, 
in addition to the four elements, there is, as fifth, a kind of 
nature, whence came the sky and the stars, . . . And concern- 
ing the seed of things and the soul they have much to say also, 


whereby they weave in myths, just as does Plato, in regard to 
the soul's immortality, judgment in hell, and such things."^ 

And as India conspicuously is a country of creeds, so is its 
literature preeminently priestly and religious. From the first 
Veda to the last Purana, religion forms either the subject-matter 
of the most important works, or, as in the case of the epics," 
the basis of didactic excursions and sectarian interpolations, 
which impart to worldly themes a tone peculiarly theological. 
History and oratory are unknown in Indian literature. The 
early poetry consists of hymns and religious poems ; the early 
prose, of liturgies, linguistics, "law," theology, sacred legends 
and other works, all of which are intended to supplement the 
knowledge of the Veda, to explain ceremonies, or to inculcate 
religious principles. At a later date, formal grammar and sys- 
tems of philosophy, fables and commicntaries are added to 
the prose; epics, secular lyric, drama, the Puranas and such 
writings to the poetry. But in all this great mass, till that time 
which Miiller has called the Renaissance — that is to say, till 
after the Hindus were come into close contact with foreign 
nations, notably the Greek, from which has been borrowed, 
perhaps, the classical Hindu drama,' — there is no real litera- 
ture that was not religious originally, or, at least, so apt for 
priestly use as to become chiefly moral and theosophic ; while 
the most popular w'orks of modern times are sectarian tracts, 
Puranas, Tantras and remodelled worldly poetry. The sources, 
then, from which is to be drawn the knowledge of Hindu 
religions are the best possible — the original texts. The infor- 

1 ISIegasthenes, Fr. XLI, ed. Schwanbeck. 

2 Epic literature springs from lower castes than that of the priest, but it lias been 
worked over by sacerdotal revisers till there is more theology than epic poetry in it. 

3 See Weber, Sansk7-it Literature, p. 224 ; Windisch, Greek Influence on Indian 
Drama ; and Levi, Le theatre indien. The date of the Renaissance is given as 
"from the first century B.C. to at least the third century a.d.'' {hidia, p. 2S1). 
Extant Hindu drama dates only from the fifth century a.d. We exclude, of course, 
from " real literature ■' all technical hand-books and commentaries. 

DA TES. 3 

mation furnished by foreigners, from tlie times of Ktesias and 
Megasthenes to that of Mandelslo, is considerable; but one is 
warranted in assuming that what little in it is novel is inaccu- 
rate, since otherwise the information would have been furnished 
by the Hindus themselves; and that, conversely, an outsider's 
statements, although presumably correct, often may give an 
inexact impression through lack of completeness; as when — to 
take an example that one can control — Ktesias tells half the 
truth in regard to ordeals. His account is true, but he gives 
no notion of the number or elaborate character of these inter- 
esting ceremonies. 

The sources to which we shall have occasion to refer will be, 
then, the two most important collections of Vedic hymns — the 
Rig Veda and the Atharva Veda ; the Brahmanic literature, 
with the supplementary Upanishads, and the Sutras or mne- 
monic abridgments of religious and ceremonial rules ; the 
legal texts, and the religious and theological portions of the 
epic ; and the later sectarian writings, called Puranas. The 
great heresies, again, have their own special writings. Thus 
far we shall draw on the native literature. Only for some of 
the modern sects, and for the religions of the wild tribes which 
have no literature, shall we have to depend on the accounts 
of European writers. 


For none of the native religious works has one a certain 
date. Nor is there for any one of the earlier compositions 
the certainty that it belongs, as a whole, to any one time. 
The Rig Veda was composed by successive generations ; the 
Atharvan represents different ages ; each Brahmana appears to 
belong in part to one era, in part to another; the earliest 
Sutras (manuals of law, etc.) have been interpolated ; the 
earliest metrical code is a composite ; the great epic is the 
work of centuries ; and not only do the Upanishads and Puranas 


represent collectively many different periods, but exactly to 
which period each individually is to be assigned remains always 
doubtful. Only in the case of the Buddhistic writings is there 
a satisfactorily approximate terminus a quo, and even here 
approximate means merely within the limit of centuries. 

Nevertheless, criteria fortunately are not lacking to enable 
one to assign the general bulk of any one work to a certain 
period in the literary development ; and as these periods are, 
if not sharply, yet plainly distinguishable, one is not in so 
desperate a case as he might have expected to be, considering 
that it is impossible to date with certainty any Hindu book or 
writer before the Christian era. For, first, there exists a differ- 
ence in language, demarcating the most important periods ; 
and, secondly, the development of the literature has been upon 
such lines that it is easy to say, from content and method of 
treatment, whether a given class of writings is a product of 
the Vedic, early Brahmanic, or late Brahmanic epochs. Usu- 
ally, indeed, one is unable to tell whether a later Upanishad 
was made first in the early or late Brahmanic period, but it is 
known that the Upanishads, as a whole, i.e., the literary form 
and philosophical material which characterize Upanishads, 
were earlier than the latest Brahmanic period and subsequent 
to the early Brahmanic period ; that they arose at the close of 
the latter and before the rise of the former. So the Brah- 
manas, as a whole, are subsequent to the Vedic age, although 
some of the Vedic hymns appear to have been made up in the 
same period with that of the early Brahmanas. Again, the 
Puranas can be placed with safety after the late Brahmanic 
age; and, consequently, subsequent to the Upanishads, al- 
though it is probable that many Upanishads were written after 
the first Puranas. The general compass of this enormous 
literature is from an indefinite antiquity to about 1500 a.d. 
A liberal margin of possible error must be allowed in the 
assumption of any specific dates. The received opinion is that 

DA TES. 5 

the Rig Veda goes back to about 2000 B.C., yet are some 
scholars inclined rather to accept 3000 B.C. as the time that 
represents this era. Weber, in his Lectures on Saiiskrit Litera- 
ture {^. 7), rightly says that to seek for an exact date is fruitless 
labor; while Whitney compares Hindu dates to ninepins — set 
up only to be bowled down again. Schroeder, in his Lndiens 
Literatur und Cultur^ suggests that the prior limit may be "a few 
centuries earlier than 1500," agreeing with Weber's preferred 
reckoning ; but Whitney, Grassmann, and Benfey provisionally 
assume 2000 B.C. as the starting point of Hindu literature. 
The lowest possible limit for this event Miiller now places at 
about 1500, which is recognized as a very cautious view; 
most scholars thinking that Miiller's estimate gives too little 
time for the development of the literary periods, which, in their 
opinion, require, linguistically and otherwise, a greater number 
of years. Brunnhofer more recently has suggested 2800 B.C. 
as the terminus ; while the last writers on the subject (Tilak 
and Jacobi) claim to have discovered that the period from 
3500 to 2500 represents the Vedic age. Their conclusions, 
however, are not very convincing, and have been disputed 
vigorously.^ Without the hope of persuading such scholars 
as are wedded to a terminus of three or four thousand years 
ago that we are right, we add, in all deference to others, our 
own opinion on this vexed question. Buddhism gives the first 
semblance of a date in Hindu literature. Buddha lived in the 
sixth century, and died probably about 480, possibly (Wester- 
gaard's extreme opinion) as late as 368.- Before this time 
arise the Sutras, back of which lie the earliest Upanishads, the 
bulk of the Brahmanas, and all the Vedic poems. Now it is 
probable that the Brahmanic literature itself extends to the 

1 Jacobi, in Roth's Festgriiss^ pp. 72, 'j'l^ (1893); Whitney, Proceed. A. O. S., 1S94, 
p. Ixxxii ; Perry, Pushan. in the Drisler Alemorial ; Weber, Vedische Bcitrlige. 

2 Westergaard, Uebcr Buddha's Todesjahr. The prevalent opinion is that 
Buddha died in 477 or 480 B.C. 


time of Buddha and perhaps beyond it. For the rest of pre- 
Buddhistic literature it seems to us incredible that it is neces- 
sary to require, either from the point of vi^w of linguistic or 
of social and religious development, the enormous period of 
two thousand years. There are no other grounds on which 
to base a reckoning except those of Jacobi and his Hindu 
rival, who build on Vedic data results that hardly support the 
superstructure they have erected. Jacobi's starting-point is 
from a mock-serious hymn, which appears to be late and does 
not establish, to whatever date it be assigned, the point of 
departure from which proceeds his whole argument, as Whitney 
has shown very well. One is driven back to the needs of 
a literature in respect of time sufficient for it to mature. 
What changes take place in language, even with a written 
literature, in the space of a few centuries, may be seen in 
Persian, Greek, Latin, and German. No two thousand years 
are required to bridge the linguistic extremes of the Vedic 
and classical Sanskrit language.^ But in content it will be 
seen that the flower of the later literature is budding already in 
the Vedic age. We are unable to admit that either in lan- 
guage or social development, or in literary or religious growth, 
more than a few centuries are necessary to account for the 
whole development of Hindu literature (meaning thereby com- 
positions, whether v.-ritten or not) up to the time of Buddha. 
Moreover, if one compare the period at which arise the earliest 
forms of literature among other Aryan peoples, it will seem 
very strange that, whereas in the case of the Romans, Greeks, 
and Persians, one thousand years B.C. is the extreme limit 
of such literary activity as has produced durable works, the 
Hindus two or three thousand years B.C. were creating 

1 It must not be forgotten in estimating the broad mass of Brahmanas and Sutras 
that each as a school represents almost the whole length of its period, and hence one 
school alone should measure the time from end to end, which reduces to very moderate 
dimensions the literature to be accounted for in time. 

DA TES. 7 

poetry so finished, so refined, and, from a metaphysical 
point of view, so advanced as is that of the Rig Veda. 
If, as is generally assumed, the (prospective) Hindus and 
Persians were last to leave the common Aryan habitat, and 
came together to the south-east, the difficulty is increased ; 
especially in the light of modern opinion in regard to the ficti- 
tious antiquity of Persian (Iranian) literature. For if Darme- 
steter be correct in holding the time of the latter to be 
at most a century before our era, the incongruity between 
that oldest date of Persian literature and the " two or three 
thousand years before Christ," which are claimed in the case 
of the Rig Veda, becomes so great as to make the latter as- 
sumption more dubious than ever. 

We think in a word, without wishing to be dogmatic, that 
the date of the Rig Veda is about on a par, historically, with 
that of ' Homer,' that is to say, the Collection^ represents a 
long period, which was completed perhaps two hundred years 
after looo B.C., while again its earliest beginnings precede that 
date possibly by five centuries ; but we would assign the bulk 
of the Rig Veda to about looo B.C. With conscious imitation 
of older speech a good deal of archaic linguistic effect doubt- 
less was produced by the latest poets, who really belong to the 
Brahmanic age. The Brahmanic age in turn ends, as we 
opine, about 500 B.C., overlapping the Sutra period as well as 
that of the first Upanishads. The former class of writings 
(after 500 b.c. one may talk of writings) is represented by 
dates that reach from circa 600-500 B.C. nearly to our era. 
Buddhism's floruit is from 500 B.C. to 500 a.d., and epic 
Hinduism covers nearly the same centuries. From 500 to 1000 
Buddhism is in a state of decadence ; and through this time 
extend the dramatic and older Puranic writings ; while other 

1 ' Rig Veda Collection ' is the native name for that which in the Occident is called 
Rig Veda, the latter term embracing, to the Hindu, all the works (Brahmanas, Siitras, 
etc.) that go to explain the ' Collection ' (of hymns). 




Puranas are as late as 1500, at which time arises the great 
modern reforming sect of the Sikhs. In the matter of the earUer 
termini a century may be added or subtracted here and there, 
but these convenient divisions of five hundreds will be found 
on the whole to be sufficiently accurate.-^ 


At the outset of his undertaking a double problem presents 
itself to one that w^ould give, even in compact form, a view of 
Hindu religions. This problem consists in explaining, and, in 
so far as is possible, reconciling opposed opinions in regard 
not only to the nature of these religions but also to the 
method of interpreting the Vedic hymns. 

That the Vedic religion was naturalistic and mytho-poetic is 
doubted by few. The Vedic hymns laud the powers of nature 
and natural phenomena as personified gods, or even as imper- 
sonal phenomena. They praise also as distinct powers the 
departed fathers. In the Rig Veda I. 168, occur some verses 
in honor of the storm-gods called Maruts : " Self-yoked are 
they come lightly from the sky. The immortals urge them- 
selves on with the goad. Dustless, born of power, with shining 
spears the Maruts overthrow the strongholds. Who is it, O 
Maruts, ye that have lightning-spears, that impels you within ? 
. . . The streams roar from the tires, when thev send out their 
cloud-voices," etc. Nothing would seem more justifiable, in view 
of this hymn and of many like it, than to assume with Miiller 
and other Indologians, that the Marut-gods are personifications 
of natural phenomena. As clearly do Indra and the Dawn 
appear to be natural phenomena. But no less an authority than 
Herbert Spencer has attacked this view : " Facts imply that 

1 Schroeder, /^^/Vwi^ Literatiir uiid Cn/hir, -p. 2gi, gives: Rig- Veda, 2000-1000 
B.C.; older Brahmanas, looo-Soo; later Brahmanas and Upanishads, 800-600 j 
Sutras, 600-400 or 300. 


the conception of the dawn as a person results from the giving 
of dawn as a birth-name." ^ 'And again : '' If, then, Dawn [in 
New Zealand and elsewhere] is an actual name for a person, 
if where there prevails this mode of distinguishing children, it 
has probably often been given to those born early in the morn- 
ing; the traditions concerning one of such who became noted, 
would, in the mind of the uncritical savage . . . lead to identi- 
fication with the dawn."- In another passage: " The primi- 
tive god is the superior man . . . propitiated during his life 
and still more after his death." ^ Summing up, Spencer thus 
concludes : " Instead of seeing in the common character of 
so-called myths, that they describe combats of beings using 
w^eapons, evidence that they arose out of human transactions ; 
mythologists assume that the order of Nature presents itself 
to the undeveloped mind in terms of victories and defeats."^ 
Moreover (a posteriorly^ " It is not true that the primitive man 
looks at the powers of Nature with awe. It is not true that 
he speculates about their characters and causes." ^ If Spencer 
had not included in his criticism the mythologists that have 
written on Vedic religion, there would be no occasion to take 
his opinion into consideration. But since he claims by the 
light of his comparative studies to have shown that in the Rig 
Veda the "so-called nature gods," "^ were not the oldest, and 
explains Dawn here exactly as he does in New Zealand, it 
becomes necessary to point out, that apart from the question 
of the origin of religions in general, Spencer has made a fatal 
error in assuming that he is dealing in the Rig Veda with 
primitive religion, uncritical savages, and undeveloped minds. 
And furthermore, as the poet of the Rig Veda is not primitive, 
or savage, or undeveloped, so when he worships Dyaus pitar 
(Zevs rrarrip) as the ' sky-father,' he not only makes it evident 

1 Principles of Sociology, I. p. 448 (Appleton, 1S82). 

2 lb. p. 398. 3 lb. p. 427. 4 lb. p. 824. 
5 lb. 6 lb. p. 821. 


to every reader that he really is worshipping the visible sky 
above ; but in his descriptions of gods such as Indra, the 
Dawn, and some other new gods he invents from time to time, 
long after he has passed the savage, primitive, and undeveloped 
state, he makes it no less clear that he worships phenomena 
as they stand before him (rain, cloud, lightning, etc.), so that 
by analogy with what is apparent in the case of later divinities, 
one is led inevitably to predicate the same origin as theirs in 
the case of the older gods. 

But it is unnecessary to spend time on this point. It is im- 
possible for any sober scholar to read the Rig Veda and believe 
that the Vedic poets are not worshipping natural phenomena ; 
or that the phenomena so worshipped were not the original 
forms of these gods. Whether at a more remote time there 
was ever a period when the pre-historic Hindu, or his pre- 
Indic ancestor, worshipped the Manes exclusively is another 
question, and one with which at present we have nothing to 
do. The history of Hindu religions begins with the Rig Veda, 
and in this period the worship of Manes and that of natural 
phenomena were distinct, nor are there any indications that 
the latter was ever developed from the former. It is not 
denied that the Hindus made gods of departed men. They 
did this long after the Vedic period. But there is no proof 
that all the Vedic gods, as claims Spencer, were the worshipped 
souls of the dead. No argumentum a fcro can show in a Vedic 
dawn-hymn anything other than a hymn to personified Dawai, 
or make it probable that this dawn was ever a mortal's name. 

In respect of that which precedes all tradition we, whose 
task is not to speculate in regard to primitive religious con- 
ceptions, but to give the history of one people's religious prog- 
ress, may be pardoned for expressing no opinion. But without 
abandoning history (/.f., tradition) we would revert for a moment 
to the pre-Indian period and point out that Zarathustra's re- 
jection of the dacvas^ which must be the same devas that ars 


worshipped in India, proves that deva-^ox'i\\v^ is the immediate 
predecessor of the Hindu religion. As far back as one can 
scrutinize tiie Aryan past he finds, as the earUest known objects 
of reverence, 'sun' and 'sky,' besides and beside the blessed 
Manes. A word here regarding the priority of monotheism or 
of polytheism. The tradition is in favor of the latter, while on 
a priori grounds whoever thinks that the more primitive the race 
the more apt it is for monotheism will postulate, with some of 
the older scholars, an assumed monotheism as the pre-historic 
religion of the Hindus ; while whosoever opines that man has 
gradually risen from a less intellectual stage will see in the 
early gods of the Hindus only another illustration of one uni- 
versal fact, and posit even Aryan polytheism as an advance 
on the religion which it is probable that the remoter ancestors 
of the Aryans once acknowledged. 

A word perhaps should be said, also, in order to a better 
understanding between the ethnologists as represented by 
Andrew Lang, and the unfortunate philologists whom it de- 
lights him to pommel. Lang's clever attacks on the myth- 
makers, whom he persistently describes as the philologists — 
and they do indeed form part of that camp — have had the 
effect of bringing 'philological theories' into sad disrepute 
with sciolists and ' common-sense ' people. But the sun-myths 
and dawn-myths that the myth-makers discover in Cinderella 
and Red Riding Hood, ought not to be fathered upon all 
philologists. On the other hand, who will deny that in India 
certain mythological figures are eoian or solar in origin ? Can 
any one question that Vivasvant the ' wide gleaming ' is sun 
or bright sky, as he is represented in the Avesta and Rig 
Veda ? Yet is a very anthropomorphic, nay, earthly figure, 
made out of this god. Or is Mr. Lang ignorant that the god 
Yima became Jemshid, and that Feridun is only the god Trita ? 
It undoubtedly is correct to illuminate the past with other light 
than that of sun or dawn, yet that these lights have shone and 


have been quenched in certain personahties may be granted 
without doing violence to scientific principles. All purely 
etymological mythology is precarious, but one may recognize 
sun-myths without building a system on the basis of a Dawn- 
Helen, and without referring Ilium to the Vedic bila. Again, 
myths about gods, heroes, and fairies are to be segregated. 
Even in India, which teems with it, there is little, if any, folk- 
lore that can be traced to solar or dawn-born myths. Mr. Lang 
represents a healthy reaction against too much sun-myth, but 
we think that there are sun-myths still, and that despite his 
protests all religion is not grown from one seed. 

There remains the consideration of the second part of the 
double problem which was formulated above — the method of 
interpretation. The native method is to believe the scholiasts' 
explanations, which often are fanciful and, in all important 
points, totally unreliable ; since the Hindu commentators lived 
so long after the period of the literature they expound that 
the tradition they follow is useful only in petty details. From 
a modern point of view the question of interpretation depends 
mainly on whether one regard the Rig Veda as but an Indie 
growth, the product of the Hindu mind alone, or as a work 
that still retains from an older age ideas which, having once 
been common to Hindu and Iranian, should be compared with 
those in the Persian Avesta and be illustrated by them. Again, 
if this latter hypothesis be correct, how is one to interpret an 
apparent likeness, here and there, between Indie and foreign 
notions, — is it possible that the hymns were composed, in 
part, before the advent of the authors into India, and is it for 
this reason that in the Rig Veda are contained certain names, 
ideas, and legends, which do not seem to be native to India? 
On the other hand, if one adopt the theory that the Rig Veda 
is wholly a native work, in how far is he to suppose that it is 
separable from Brahmanic formalism ? Were the hymns made 
independently of any ritual, as their own excuse for being, or 


were they composed expressly for the sacrifice, as part of a 
formal cult ? 

Here are views diverse enough, but each has its advocate or 
advocates. According to the earlier European writers the Vedic 
poets are fountains of primitive thought, streams unsullied 
by any tributaries, and in reading them one quaffs a fresh 
draught, the gush of unsophisticated herdsmen, in whose re- 
ligion there is to be seen a childlike belief in natural phenomena 
as divine forces, over which forces stands the Heaven-god as 
the highest power. So in 1869 Pfleiderer speaks of the "pri- 
meval childlike naive prayer" of Rig Veda vi. 51. 5 ("Father 
sk}^ mother earth," etc.);^ while Pictet, in his work Les Ori- 
gines Lido-Etiropeejines., maintains that the Aryans had a primi- 
tive monotheism, although it was vague and rudimentary ; for 
he regards both Iranian dualism and Hindu polytheism as 
being developments of one earlier monism (claiming that 
Iranian dualism is really monotheistic). Pictet's argument is 
that the human mind must have advanced from the simple to 
the complex ! Even Roth believes in an originally " supreme 
deity" of the Aryans.- Opposed to this, the 'naive' school of 
such older scholars as Roth, Miiller,'^ and Grassmann, who see 
in the Rig Veda an ingenuous expression of ' primitive ' ideas, 
stand the theories of Bergaigne, who interprets everything 
allegorically; and of Pischel and Geldner, realists, whose gen- 
eral opinions may thus be formulated : The poets of the Rig 
Veda are not childlike and naive ; they represent a compara- 
tively late period of culture, a society not only civilized, but 
even sophisticated ; a mode of thought philosophical and scep- 

1 Compare Muir, Original Sanskrit Texts ^ V. p. 412 ff., where are given the 
opinions of Pfleiderer, Pictet, Roth, Scherer, and others. 

^ ZDMG., vi. "]"]■. " Ein alter gemeinsam arischer [indo-iranic], ja vielleicht ge- 
meinsam indo-germanischer oberster Gott, Varuna-Ormuzd-Uranos." 

3 In his Science of Language^ Miiller speaks of the early poets who " strove in 
their childish way to pierce beyond the limits of this finite world." Approvingly 
cited, SBE. xxxii. p, 243 (1891). ^ 


tical ; a religion not only ceremonious but absolutely stereotyped. 
In regard to the Aryanhood of the hymns, the stand taken 
by these latter critics, who renounce even Bergaigne's slight 
hold on mythology, is that the Rig Veda is thoroughly Indie. 
It is to be explained by the light of the formal Hindu ritual- 
ism, and even by epic worldliness, its fresh factors being lewd 
gods, harlots, and race-horses. Bloomfield, w]io does not go 
so far as this, claims that the 'Vedic' age really is a Brahmanic 
age ; that Vedic religion is saturated wdth Brahmanic ideas 
and Brahmanic formalism, so that the Rig Veda ought to be 
looked upon as made for the ritual, not the ritual regarded 
as ancillary to the Rig Veda.-^ This scholar maintains that 
there is scarcely any chronological distinction between the 
hymns of the Rig Veda and the Brahmana, both forms having 
probably existed together "from earliest times"; and that 
not a single Vedic hymn " was ever composed without 
reference to ritual application"; nay, all the hymns were 
"liturgical from the very start." ^ This is a plain advance 
even on Bergaigne's opinion, who finally regarded all the 
family-books of the Rig Veda as composed to subserve the 

In the Rig Veda occur hymns of an entirely worldly charac- 
ter, the lament of a gambler, a humorous description of frogs 
croaking like priests, a funny picture of contemporary morals 
(describing how every one lusts after wealth), and so forth. 
From these alone it becomes evident that the ritualistic view 
must be regarded as one somewhat exaggerated. But if the 
liturgical extremist appears to have stepped a little beyond 
the boundary of probability, he yet in daring remains far 

1 The older view may be seen in Miiller's Lecture on the Vedas (Chips, I. p. 9) : 
" A collection made for its own sake, and not for the sake of any sacrificial per- 
formance." For Pischel's view, compare Vedische Sttidien, I. Preface. 

2 Bloomfield, JAOS., xv. p. 144. 

3 Compare Barth (Preface): "A literature preeminently sacerdotal. . . . The poetry 
„ . . of a singularly refined character, . . . full of . . . pretensions to mysticism," etc. 


behind Bergaigne's disciple Regnaud, who has a mystical 
'system,' which is, indeed, the outcome of Bergaigne's great 
work, though it is very improbable that the latter would have 
looked with favor upon his follower's results. In Le Rig Veda 
(Paris, 1892) Paul Regnaud, emphasizing again the connec- 
tion between the liturgy and the hymns, refers every word of 
the Rig Veda to the sacrifice in its simplest form, the oblation. 
According to this author the Hindus had forgotten the mean- 
ing of their commonest words, or consistently employed them 
in their hymns in a meaning different to that in ordinary use. 
The very word for god, deva (deus), no longer means the 'shin- 
ing one' (the god), but the 'burning oblation'; the common 
word for mountain, giri, also means oblation, and so on. This 
is Bergaigne's allegorical mysticism run mad. 

At such perversion of reasonable criticism is the exegesis of 
the Veda arrived in one direction. But in another it is gone 
astray no less, as misdirected by its clever German leader. 
In three volumes ^ Brunnhofer has endeavored to prove that 
far from being a Brahmanic product, the Rig Veda is not even 
the work of Hindus ; that it was composed near the Caspian 
Sea long before the Aryans descended into India. Brunn- 
hofer's books are a mine of ingenious conjectures, as sugges- 
tive in detail as on the whole they are unconvincing. His 
fundamental error is the fancy that names and ideas which 
might be Iranian or Turanian would prove, if such they really 
could be shown to be, that the work in which they are con- 
tained must be Iranian or Turanian. He relies in great meas- 
ure on passages that always have been thought to be late, either 
whole late hymns or tags added to old hymns, and on the most 
daring changes in the text, changes which he makes in order 
to prove his hypothesis, although there is no necessity for 
making them. The truth that underlies Brunnhofer's extrava- 

1 Iran nnd Tiiran, 1889 ; Vom Pontiis bis ziim Indus^ 1S90; Vom Aral bis zur 
Gangd, 1S92. 


gance is that there are foreign names in the Rig Veda, and 
this is all that he has proved thus far. 

In regard to the relation between the Veda and the Avesta 
the difference of views is too individual to have formed systems 
of interpretation on that basis alone. Every competent 
scholar recognizes a close affinity between the Iranian Yima 
and the Hindu Yama, between the soi7ia-Q.\A\. and the Jiaoj7ia- 
cult, but in how far the thoughts and forms that have clustered 
about one development are to be compared with those of the 
other there is no general agreement and there can be none. 
The usual practice, however, is to call the Iranian Yima., haoma., 
etc., to one's aid if they subserve one's own view of Ya7na, 
sojna, and other Hindu parallels, and to discard analogous 
features as an independent growth if they do not. This pro- 
cedure is based as well on the conditions of the problem as on 
the conditions of human judgment, and must not be criticized 
too severelv ; for in fact the two relisfions here and there touch 
each other so nearly that to deny a relation between them is 
impossible, while in detail they diverge so widely that it is 
always questionable whether a coincidence of ritual or belief 
be accidental or imply historical connection. 

It is scarcely advisable in a concise review of several reli- 
gions to enter upon detailed criticism of the methods of inter- 
pretation that affect for the most part only the earliest of them. 
But on one point, the reciprocal relations between the Vedic 
and Brahmanic periods, it is necessary to say a few words. 
Why is it that well-informed Y^edic scholars differ so widely 
in regard to the ritualistic share in the making of the Veda.'' 
Because the extremists on either side in formulating the prin- 
ciples of their system forget a fact that probably no one of 
them if questioned would fail to acknowledge. The Rig Veda 
is not a homogeneous whole. It is a work which successive 
generations have produced, and in which are represented differ- 
ent views, of local or sectarian origin ; while the hymns from a 


literary point of view are of varying value. The latter is a fact 
which has been ignored frequently, but it is more important 
than any other. For one has almost no criteria, with which to 
discover whether the hymns precede or follow the ritual, other 
than the linguistic posteriority of the ritualistic literature, and 
the knowledge that there were priests with a ritual when some 
of the hymns were composed. The bare fact that hymns are 
found rubricated in the later literature is surely no reason for 
believing that such hymns were made for the ritual. Now 
while it can be shown that a large number of hymns are 
formal, conventional, and mechanical in expression, and while 
it may be argued with plausibility that these were composed to 
serve the purpose of an established cult, this is very far from 
being the case with many which, on other grounds, may be sup- 
posed to belong severally to the older and later part of the 
Rig Veda. Yet does the new school, in estimating the hymns, 
never admit this. The poems always are spoken of as ' sacer- 
dotal,' 'ritualistic,' without the slightest attempt to see whether 
this be true of all or of some alone. We claim that it is not 
historical, it is not judicious from a literary point of view, to 
fling indiscriminately together the hymns that are evidently 
ritualistic and those of other value ; for, finally, it is a sober 
literary judgment that is the court of appeals in regard to 
whether poetry be poetry or not. Now let one take a hymn 
containing, to make it an unexceptionable example, nothing 
very profound or very beautiful. It is this well-known 

Hymn to the Sun {Rig Veda, I. 50). 

Aloft this all-wise^ shining god 
His beams of light are bearing now, 
That every one the sun may see. 

1 Or "all-possessing" (Whitney). The metre of the translation retains the num- 
ber of feet in the original. Four (later added) stanzas are here omitteds. 


Apart, as were they thieves, yon stars, 
Together with the night, ^ withdraw 
Before the sun, who seeth all. 

His beams of light have been beheld 
Afar, among (all) creatures ; rays 
Splendid as were they (blazing) fiies. 

Impetuous-swift, beheld of all, 
Of light the maker, thou, O Sun, 
Thou all the gleaming (sky) illum'st. 

Before the folk of shining gods 
Thou risest up, and men before, 
'Fore all — to be as light beheld ; 

(To be) thine eye, O pure bright Heaven, 
"Wherewith amid (all) creatures born 
Thou gazest down on busy (man). 

Thou goest across the sky's broad place, 
Meting with rays, O Sun, the days, 
And watching generations pass. 

The steeds are seven that at thy car 
Bear up the god whose hair is flame 
O shining god, O Sun far-seen ! 

Yoked hath he now his seven fair steeds. 
The daughters of the sun-god's car, 
Yoked but by him ; "^ with these he comes. 

For some thousands of years these verses have been the 
daily prayer of the Hindu. They have been incorporated into 
the ritual in this form. They are rubricated, and the nine 
stanzas form part of a prescribed service. But, surely, it were 
a literary hysteron-proteron to conclude for this reason that 
they were made only to fill a part in an established ceremony. 

1 So P.W. Possibly "by reason of (the sun^s) rays"; ?>., the stars fear the sun 
as thieves fear light. For ' Heaven,' here and below, see the third chapter. 

- Yoked only by him ; literally, '• self-yoked." Seven is used in the Rig Veda in 
the general sense of "many," as in Shakespeare's "a vile thief this seven years." 


The praise is neither perfunctory nor lacking in a really religious 
tone. It has a directness and a simplicity, without affectation, 
which would incline one to believe that it was not made 
mechanically, but composed with a devotional spirit that gave 
voice to genuine feeling. 

We will now translate another poem (carefully preserving all 
the tautological phraseology), a hymn 

To Dawn {Rig Veda, VI. 64). 

Aloft the lights of Dawn, for beauty gleaming, 
Have risen resplendent, like to waves of water ; 
She makes fair paths, (makes) all accessible ; 
And good is she, munificent and kindly. 

Thou lovely lookest, through wide spaces shin'st thou, 
Up fly thy fiery shining beams to heaven ; 
Thy bosom thou reveals't, thyself adorning, 
Aurora, goddess gleaming bright in greatness. 

The ruddy kine (the clouds) resplendent bear her, 
The Blessed One, who far and wide extendeth. 
As routs his foes a hero armed with arrows, 
As driver swift, so she compels the darkness. 

Thy ways are fair ; thy paths, upon the mountains ; 

In calm, self-shining one, thou cross'st the waters. ' 

O thou whose paths are wide, to us, thou lofty 

Daughter of Heaven, bring wealth for our subsistence. 

Bring (wealth), thou Dawn, who, with the kine, untroubled 
Dost bring us good commensurate with pleasure. 
Daughter of Heaven, who, though thou art a goddess, 
Didst aye at morning-call come bright and early. 

Aloft the birds fly ever from their dwelling. 
And men, who seek for food, at thy clear dawning. 
E'en though a mortal stay at home and serve thee. 
Much joy to him. Dawn, goddess (bright), thou bringest. 

The " morning call " might, indeed, suggest the ritual, but 
it proves only a morning prayer or offering. Is this poem 


of a "singularly refined character," or "preeminently sacer- 
dotal " in appearance ? One other example (in still a different 
metre) may be examined, to see if it bear on its face evidence 
of having been made with "reference to ritual application," or 
of being " liturgical from the very start." 

To Indra {Rig Veda, I. ii). 

'Tis Indra all (our) songs extol, 
Him huge as ocean in extent ; 
Of warriors chiefest warrior he, 
Lord, truest lord for booty's gain. 

In friendship, Indra, strong as thine 
Naught will we fear, O lord of strength; 
To thee we our laudations sing. 
The conqueror unconquered.^ 

The gifts of Indra many are. 
And inexhaustible his help 
Whene'er to them that praise he gives 
The gift of booty rich in kine. 

A fortress-render, youthful, wise, 
Immeasurably strong was born 
Indra, the doer of every deed. 
The lightning-holder, far renowned. 

'Twas thou, Bolt-holder, rent'st the cave 
Of Val, who held the (heavenly) kine ; ^ 
Thee helped the (shining) gods, when roused 
(To courage) by the fearless one.^ 

1 Jetdrmn aparajitam. 2 The rain, see next note. 

3 After this stanza two interpolated stanzas are here omitted. Grassman and 
Ludwig give the epithet " fearless •' to the gods and to Vala, respectively. But com- 
pare 1. 6. 7, where the same word is used of Indra. For the oft-mentioned act of 
cleaving the cave, where the dragon Val or Vritra (the restrainer or envelopper) had 
coralled the kine {i.e., without metaphor, for the act of freeing the clouds and letting 
loose the rain), compare I. 32. 2, where of Indra it is said: ''He slew the snake that 
lay upon the mountains . . . like bellowing kine the waters, swiftly flowing, descended 
to the sea"; and verse 11 : "Watched by the snake the waters stood . . . the waters' 
covered cave he opened wide, vvh::t time he Vritra slew." 


Indra, who lords it by his strength, 
Our praises now have loud proclaimed ; 
His generous gifts a thousand are, 
Aye, even more than this are they. 

This is poetry. Not great poetry perhaps, but certainly not 
ground out to order, as some of the hymns appear to have 
been. Yet, it may be said, why could not a poetic hymn have 
been written in a ritualistic environment ? But it is on the 
hymns themselves that one is forced to depend for the belief 
in the existence of ritualism, and we claim that such hymns as 
these, which we have translated as literally as possible, show 
rather that they were composed without reference to ritual 
application. It must not be forgotten that the ritual, as it is 
known in the Brahmanas, without the slightest doubt, from the 
point of view of language, social conditions, and theology, 
represents an age that is very different to that illustrated by 
the mass of the hymns. Such hymns, therefore, and only 
such as can be proved to have a ritualistic setting can be 
referred to a ritualistic age. There is no convincing reason 
why one should not take the fully justified view that some of 
the hymns represent a freer and more natural (less priest- 
bound) age, as they represent a spirit freer and less mechanical 
than that of other hymns. As to the question which hymns, 
early or late, be due to poetic feeling, and which to ritualistic 
mechanism or servile imitation, this can indeed be decided 
by a judgment based only on the literary quality, never on the 
accident of subsequent rubrication. 

We hold, therefore, in this regard, that the new school, valu- 
able and suggestive as its work has been, is gone already 
farther than is judicious. The Rig Veda in part is synchro- 
nous with an advanced ritualism, subjected to it, and in some 
cases derived from it ; but in part the hymns are " made for 
their own sake and not for the sake of any sacrificial perform- 
ance," as said Miiller of the whole ; going in this too far, but 


not into greater error than are gone they that confuse the 
natural with the artificial, the poetical with the mechanical, 
gold with dross. It may be true that the books of the Rig 
Veda are chiefly family-books for the so7na-Q.v\\.^ but even were 
it true it would in no wise impugn the poetic character of some 
of the hymns contained in these books. The drag-net has 
scooped up old and new, good and bad, together. The Rig 
Veda is not of one period or of one sort. It is a ' Collection,' 
as says its name. It is essentially impossible that any sweep- 
ing statement in regard to its character should be true if that 
character be regarded as uniform. To say that the Rig Veda 
represents an age of childlike thought, a period before the 
priestly ritual began its spiritual blight, is incorrect. But no 
less incorrect is it to assert that the Rig Veda represents a 
period when hymns are made only for rubrication by priests that 
sing only for baksheesh. Scholars are too prone to-day to 
speak of the Rig Veda in the same way as the Greeks spoke of 
Homer. It is to be hoped that the time may soon come when 
critics will no longer talk about the Collection as if it were all 
made in the same circumstances and at the same time ; above 
all is it desirable that the literary quality of the hymns may re- 
ceive due attention, and that there may be less of those universal 
asseverations which treat the productions of generations of 
poets as if they were the work of a single author. 

In respect of the method of reading into the Rig Veda what is 
found in parallel passages in the Atharva Veda and Brahmanas, 
a practice much favored by Ludwig and others, the results of 
its application have been singularly futile in passages of im- 
portance. Often a varied reading will make clearer a doubtful 
verse, but it by no means follows that the better reading is the 
truer. There always remains the lurking suspicion that the 
reason the variant is more intelligible is that its inventor did 
not understand the original. As to real elucidation of other 
sort by the later texts, in the minutiae of the outer world, in 


details of priestcraft, one may trust early tradition tentatively, 
just as one does late commentators, but in respect of ideas 
tradition is as apt to mislead as to lead well. The cleft be- 
tween the theology of the Rig Veda and that of the Brah- 
manas, even from the point of view of the mass of hymns that 
comprise the former, is too great to allow us with any content 
to explain the conceptions of the one by those of the other. 
A tradition always is useful when nothing else offers itself, but 
traditional beliefs are so apt to take the color of new eras that 
they should be employed only in the last emergency, and then 
with the understanding that they are of very hypothetical value. 
In conclusion a practical question remains to be answered. 
In the few cases where the physical basis of a Rig Vedic deity 
is matter of doubt, is it advisable to present such a deity in the 
form in which he stands in the text or to endeavor historically 
to elucidate the figure by searching for his physical prototype ? 
We have chosen the former alternative, partly because we 
think the latter method unsuitable to a handbook, since it 
involves many critical discussions of theories of doubtful value. 
But this is not the chief reason. Granted that the object of 
study is simply to know the Rig Veda, rightly to grasp the 
views held by the poets, and so to place oneself upon their 
plane of thought, it becomes obvious that the farther the 
student gets from their point of view the less he understands 
them. Nay, more, every bit of information, real as well as 
fancied, which in regard to the poets' own divinities furnishes 
one with more than the poets themselves knew or imagined, 
is prejudicial to a true knowledge of Vedic beliefs. Here 
if anywhere is applicable that test of desirable knowledge 
formulated as das E7'kenneii dcs Erkajinten. To set oneself in 
the mental sphere of the Vedic seers, as far as possible to 
think their thoughts, to love, fear, and admire with them — 
this is the necessary beginning of intimacy, which precedes 
the appreciation that gives understanding. 



After the next chapter, which deals with the people and 
land, we shall begin the examination of Hindu religions with 
the study of the beliefs and religious notions to be found in 
the Rig Veda. Next to the Rig Veda in time stands the 
Atharva Veda, which represents a growing demonology in con- 
trast with >s-6';;/^z- worship and theology ; sufficiently so at least 
to deserve a special chapter. These two Vedic Collections 
naturally form the first period of Hindu religion. 

The Vedic period is followed by what is usually termed 
Brahmanism, the religion that is inculcated in the rituals 
called Brahmana and its later development in the Upanishads. 
These two classes of works, together with the Yajur Veda, will 
make the next divisions of the whole subject. The formal 
religion of Brahmanism, as laid down for popular use and 
instruction in the law-books, is a side of Brahmanic religion 
that scarcely has been noticed, but it seems to deserve all the 
space allotted to it in the chapter on ' The Popular Brahmanic 
Faith.' We shall then review Jainism and Buddhism, the two 
chief heresies. Brahmanism penetrates the great epic poem 
which, however, in its present form is sectarian in tendency, and 
should be separated as a growth of Hinduism from the literature 
of pure Brahmanism. Nevertheless, so intricate and perplexing 
would be the task of unraveling the theologic threads that 
together make the yarn of the epic, and in many cases it would 
be so doubtful whether any one thread led to Brahmanism or 
to the wider and more catholic religion called Hinduism, that 
we should have preferred to give up the latter name altogether, 
as one that was for the most part idle, and in some degree 
misleading. Feeling, however, that a mere manual should not 
take the initiative in coining titles, we have admitted this un- 
satisfactory word ' Hinduism ' as the title of a chapter which 
undertakes to give a comprehensive view of the religions 


endorsed by the many-centuried epic, and to explain theii 
mutual relations. As in the case of the 'Popular Faith,' we 
have had here no models to go upon, and the mass of matter 
which it was necessary to handle — the great epic is about 
eight times as long as the Iliad and Odyssey put together — 
must be our excuse for many imperfections of treatment in this 
part of the work. The reader will gain at least a view of the 
religious development as it is exhibited in the literature, and 
therefore, as far as possible, in chronological order. The 
modern sects and the religions of the hill tribes of India form 
almost a necessary supplement to these nobler religions of the 
classical literature ; the former because they are the logical as 
well as historical continuation of the great Hindu sectarian 
schisms, the latter because they give the solution of some 
problems connected with Qivaism, and, on the other hand, 
offer useful un-Aryan parallels to a few traits which have been 
preserved in the earliest period of the Aryans.^ 

1 Aryan, Sanskrit aryci, arya, Avestan airya, appears to mean the loyal or the 
good, and may be the original national designation, just as the Medes were long 
called "Apioi. In late Sanskrit drya is simply ' noble.' The word survives, perhaps, 
in dpLCTTos, and is found in proper names, Persian Ariobarzanes, Teutonic Ariovistus ; 
as well as in tlie names of people and countries, Vedic Aryas, Iran, Iranian ; (doubt- 
ful) Airem, Erin, Ireland. Compare Zimmer, BB. iii. p. 137 ; Kaegi, Dcr Rig Veda, 
p. 144 (Arrowsmith's translation, p. 109). In the Rig Veda there is a god Aryaman, 
* the true,' who forms with Mitra and Varuna a triad (see below). Windisch ques- 
tions the propriety of identifying Iran with Erin, and Schrader (p. 5S4-) doubts 
whether the Indo-Europeans as a body ever called themselves Aryans. We employ 
the latter name because it is short. 



The Aryan Hindus, whose religions we describe in this 
volume,^ formed one of the Aryan or so-called Indo-European 
peoples. To the other peoples of this stock, Persians, Ar- 
menians, Greeks, Italians, Kelts, Teutons, Slavs, the Hindus 
were related closely by language, but very remotely from the 
point of view of their primitive religion. Into India the Aryans 
brought little that was retained in their religious systems, A 
few waning gods, the worship of ancestors, and some simple 
rites are common to them and their western relations ; but 
with the exception of the Iranians (Persians), their religious 
connection with cis-Indic peoples is of the slightest. With 
the Iranians, the Hindus (that were to be) appear to have 
lived longest in common after the other members of the Aryan 
host were dispersed to west and south.- They stand in closer 
religious touch with these, their nearest neighbors, and in the 
time of the Rig Veda (the Hindus' earliest literature) there 
are traces of a connection comparatively recent between the 
pantheons of the two nations. 

According to their own, rather uncertain, testimony, the 
Aryans of the Rig Veda appear to have consisted of five tribal 
groups.^ These groups, j'anas, Latin gens, are subdivided into 

1 We take this opportunity of stating that by the religions of the Aryan Hindus 
we mean the religions of a people who, undoubtedly, were full-blooded Ai-yans at 
first, however much their blood may have been diluted later by un-Aryan admixture. 
Till the time of Buddhism the religious literature is fairly Aryan. In the period 
of " Hinduism" neither people nor religion can claim to be quite Aryan. 

~ If, as thinks Schrader, the Aryans' original seat was on the Volga, then one 
must imagine the Indo-Iranians to have kept together in a south-eastern emigration. 

3 That is to say, frequent reference is made to ' five tribes.' Some scholars deny 
that the tribes are Aryan alone, and claim that ' five,' like seven, means ' many.' 


vi f as *lj2itin vicus, and these, again, into gramas. The names, 
however, are not employed with strictness, and jana, etymo- 
logically gens but politically tribus, sometimes is used as a 
synonym of grdma.^ Of the ten books of the Rig- Veda seven 
are ascribed to various priestly families. In the main, these 
books are rituals of song as inculcated for the same rites by 
different family priests and their descendants. Besides these 
there are books which are ascribed to no family, and consist, 
in part, of more general material. The distinction of priestly 
family-books was one, possibly, coextensive with political de- 
marcation. Each of the family-books represents a priestly 
family, but it may represent, also, a political family. In at 
least one case it represents a political body.^ 

These great political groups, which, perhaps, are represented 
by family rituals, were essentially alike in language, custom 
and religion (although minor ritualistic differences probably 
obtained, as well as tribal preference for particular cults); 
while in all these respects, as well as in color and other racial 
peculiarities, the Aryans were distinguished from the dark- 
skinned aborigines, with whom, until the end of the Rig Vedic 
period, they were perpetually at war. At the close of this 
period the immigrant Aryans had reduced to slavery many of 
their unbelieving and barbarian enemies, and formally incor- 
porated them into the state organization, where, as captives, 
slaves, or sons of slaves, the latter formed the "fourth caste." 
But while admitting these slaves into the body politic, the 
priestly Aryans debarred them from the religious congregation. 
Between the Aryans themselves there is in this period a loosely 
defined distinction of classes, but no system of caste is known 
before the close of the first Vedic Collection. Nevertheless, 
the emphasis in this statement lies strongly upon system, and 

1 RV. III. 33. II ; 53. 12. Zimmer, Altindisches Lebeii, p. 160, incorrectly identi- 
fies vie with tribus (Leist, RechtsgcschicJite^ p. 105). 

2 Vigvamitra. A few of the hymns are not ascribed to priests at all (some were 
made by women; some by 'royal-seers,' i.c.^ kings, or, at least, not priests). 


it may not be quite idle to say at the outset that the general 
caste-distinctions not only are as old as the Indo-Iranian unity 
(among the Persians the same division of priest, warrior and 
husbandman obtains), but, in all probability, they are much 
older. For so long as there is a cult, even if it be of spirits 
and devils, there are priests ; and if there are chieftains there 
is a nobility, such as one finds among the Teutons, nay, even 
among the American Indians, where also is known the inevita- 
ble division into priests, chiefs and commons, sometimes heredi- 
tary, sometimes not. There must have been, then, from the 
beginning of kingship and religious service, a division among 
the Aryans into royalty, priests, and people, i.e.^ whoever were 
not acting as priests or chieftains. When the people becomes 
agricultural, the difference tends to become permanent, and 
a caste system begins. Now, the Vedic Aryans appear in 
history at just the period when they are on the move south- 
wards into India ; but they are no irrupting host. The battles 
led the warriors on, but the folk, as a folk, moved slowly, not 
all abandoning the country which they had gained, but settling 
there, and sending onwards only a part of the people. There 
was no fixed line of demarcation between the classes. The 
king or another might act as his own priest — yet were there 
priestly families. The cow-boys might fight — yet were there 
those of the people that were especially 'kingsmen,' i-ajanyas^ 
and these were, already, practically a class, if not a caste. -^ 
These natural and necessary social divisions, which in early 
times were anything but rigid, soon formed inviolable groups, 
and then the caste system was complete. In the perfected 
legal scheme what was usage becomes duty. The warrior may 

1 Caste, at first, means ' pure,' and signifies that there is a moral barrier between 
the caste and outcast. The word now practically means class, even impure class. 
The native word means * color,' and the first formal distinction was national, (white) 
Aryan and ' black-man.' The precedent class-distinctions among the Aryans them- 
selves became fixed in course of time, and the lines between Aryans, in some regards, 
were drawn almost as sharply as between Aryan and slave. 


not be a public priest ; the priest may not serve as warrior or 
husbandman. The farmer ' people ' were the result of eliminat- 
ing first the priestly, and then the fighting factors from the 
whole body politic. But these castes were all Aryans, and as 
such distinguished most sharply, from a religious point of view, 
from the " fourth caste " ; whereas among themselves they were, 
in religion, equals. But they w^ere practically divided by inter- 
ests that strongly affected the development of their original 
litanies. For both priest and warrior looked down on the 
'people,' but priest and warrior feared and respected each 
other. To these the third estate was necessary as a base of 
supplies, and together they guarded it from foes divine and 
mortal. But to each other they were necessary for wealth and 
glory, respectively. So it was that even in the earliest period 
the religious litany, to a great extent, is the book of worship 
of a warrior-class as prepared for it by the priest. Priest and 
king — these are the main factors in the making of the hymns 
of the Rig Veda, and the gods lauded are chiefly the gods 
patronized by these classes. The third estate had its favorite 
gods, but these were little regarded, and were in a state of 
decadence. The slaves, too, may have had their own gods, but 
of these nothing is known, and one can only surmise that here 
and there in certain traits, which seem to be un-Aryan, may 
lie an unacknowledged loan from the aborigines. 

Between the Rig Veda and the formation or completion of 
the next Veda, called the Atharvan, the interval appears to have 
been considerable, and the inherent value of the religion incul- 
cated in the latter can be estimated aright only when this is 
weighed together with the fact, that, as is learned from the 
Atharvan's own statements, the Aryans were now advanced 
further southwards and eastwards, had discovered a new land, 
made new gods, and were now more permanently established, 
the last a factor of some moment in the religious development. 
Indications of the* difference in time may be seen in the 


geographical and physical limitations of the older period as 
compared with those of the later Atharvan. When first the 
Aryans are found in India, at the time of the Rig Veda, they 
are located, for the most part, near the upper Indus (Sindhu). 
The Ganges, mentioned but twice, is barely known. On the 
west the Aryans lingered in East Kabulistan (possibly in Kash- 
meer in the north) ; and even Kandahar appears, at least, to 
be known as Aryan. That is to say, the ' Hindus ' were still 
in Afghanistan, although the greater mass of the people had 
already crossed the Indus and were progressed some distance 
to the east of the Punjab. That the race was still migrating 
may be seen from the hymns of the Rig Veda itself.^ Their 
journey-was to the south-east, and both before and after they 
reached the Indus they left settlements, chiefly about the Indus 
and in the Punjab (a post-Vedic group), not in the southern 
but in the northern part of this district.^ 

The Vedic Aryans of this first period were acquainted with 
the Indus, Sutlej ((Jutudri), Beas (Vipa^, "Y^ao-ts), Ravi (Paru- 
shni or Iravati); the pair of rivers that unite and flow into the 
Indus, viz. : Jhelum (Vitasta, Behat), and Chinab (Asikni,^ 
Akesines) ; and knew the remoter Kubha (Kco^tJv, Kabul) and 
the northern Suvastu (Swat) ; while they appear to have had a 
legendary remembrance of the Rasa, Avestan Rahha (Rangha), 
supposed by some to be identical with the Araxes or Yaxartes, 
but probably (see below) only a vague 'stream,' the old name 
travelling with them on their wanderings ; for one would err if 
he regarded similarity or even identity of appellation as a proof 
of real identitv."^ West of the Indus the Kurum and Gonial 
appear to be known also. Many rivers are mentioned of which 

1 Compare RV. iii. y^^ and in I. 131. 5, the words: ' God Indra, thou didst help 
thy suppHants ; one river after another they gained who pursued glory.' 

2 Thomas, Rivers of the Vedas (JRAS. xv. 357 ff. ; Zimmer, loc. cit. cap. i). 

3 Later called the Candrabhaga. For the Jumna and Sarayu see below. 

4 This is the error into which falls Brunnhofer, whose theory that the Vedic 
Aryans were still settled near the Caspian has been criticised above (p. 15). 


the names are given, but their location is not established. It 
is from the district west of the Indus that the most famous San- 
skrit grammarian comes, and long after the Vedas an Indie 
people are known in the Kandahar district, while Kashmeer 
was a late home of culture. The Sarasvati river, the name of 
which is transferred at least once in historical times, may have 
been originally one with the Arghandab (on which is Kandahar), 
for the Persian name of this river {s becomes h) is Harahvati 
(Arachotos, Arachosia), and it is possible that it was really this 
river, and not the Indus which was first lauded as the Saras- 
vati. In that case there- would be a perfect parallel to what 
has probably happened in the case of the Rasa, the name — 
in both cases meaning only ' the stream ' (like Rhine, Arno, 
etc.) — being transferred to a new river. But since the Iranian 
Harahvati fixes the first river of this name, there is here a 
stronger proof of Indo-Iranian community than is furnished 
by other examples.^ 

These facts or suggestive parallels of names are of exceed- 
ing importance. They indicate between the Vedic Aryans 
and the Iranians a connection much closer than usually has 
been assumed. The bearings of such a connection on the 
religious ideas of the two peoples are self-evident, and will 
often have to be touched upon in the course of this history. 
It is of less importance, from the present point of view, to say 
how the Aryans entered India, but since this question is also 
connected with that of the religious environment of the first 
Hindu poets, it will be well to state that, although, as some 
scholars maintain, and as we believe, the Hindus may have 
come with the Iranians through the open pass of Herat (Haraiva, 
Haroyu), it is possible that they parted from the latter south of 
the Hindukush^ (descending through the Kohistan passes from 
the north), and that the two peoples thence diverged south-east 

1 Compare Geiger, Ostiranische Citltur, p. 8i. See also Muir, OST. ii. p. 355. 

2 Lassen, I. p. 616, decided in favor of tlie western passes of the Hindukush. 


and south-west respectively. Neither assumption would pre- 
vent the country lying between the Harahvati and Vitasta ^ from 
being, for generations, a common camping-ground for both 
peoples, who were united still, but gradually diverging. This 
seems, at least, to be the most reasonable explanation of the fact 
that these two rivers are to each people their farthest known 
western and eastern limits respectively. With the exception of 
the vague and uncertain Rasa, the Vedic Hindu's geographical 
knowledge is limited by Kandahar in the west, as is the 
Iranian's in the east by the Vitasta." North of the Vitasta 
Mount Tricota (Trikakud, ' three peaks ') is venerated, and 
this together with a Mount Miijavat, of which the situation is 
probably in the north, is the extent of modern knowledge in 
respect of the natural boundaries of the Vedic people. One 
hears, to be sure, at a later time, of 'northern Kurus,' whose 
felicity is proverbial; and it is very tempting to find in this name 
a connection with the Iranian Kur, but the Kurus, like the Rasa 
and Sarasvati, are re-located once (near Delhi), and no similar- 
ity of name can assure one of a true connection. If not coinci- 
dences, such likenesses are too vague to be valuable historically.^ 
Another much disputed point must be spoken of in connec- 
tion with this subject. In the Veda and in the Avesta there is 
mentioned the land of the ' seven rivers.' Now seven rivers 
are often spoken of in the Rig Veda, but only once does this 
term mean the country, while in the ' Hymn to the Rivers ' no 

1 From Kandahar in Afghanistan to a point a little west of Lahore. In the 
former district, according to the Avesta, the dead are buried (an early Indian custom, 
not Iranian). 

2 Geiger identifies the Vitaguhaiti or Vitanghvati with the Oxus, but this is im- 
probable. It lies in the extreme east and forms the boundary between the true 
believers and the 'demon-worshippers ' (Vasht, 5, "j^; Geiger, loc. cit. p. 131, note 5). 
The Persian name is the same with Vitasta, which is located in the Punjab. 

3 On the Kurus compare Zimmer (loc. cit.), who thinks Kashmeer is meant, and 
Geiger, loc. cit. p. 39. Other geographical reminiscences may lie in Vedic and Brah- 
manic allusions to Bactria, Balkh (AV.) ; to the Derbiker (around Merv ? RV.), and 
to Manu's mountain, whence he descended after the flood (Naubandhana) : Cata- 
patha DrdJunana. I. S. i, 6, ' Manu's descent '). 


less than twenty-one streams are enumerated (RV. X. 75). In 
order to make out the ' seven rivers ' scholars have made different 
combinations, that most in favor being Miiller's, the' five rivers 
of the Punjab together with the Kabul and (Swat or) Saras- 
vatl. But in point of fact ' seven ' quite as often means many, 
as it does an exact number, and this, the older use, may well be 
applied here. It is quite impossible to identify the seven, and 
it is probable that no Vedic poet ever imagined them to be a 
group of this precise number. It would be far easier to select 
a group of seven conspicuous rivers, if anywhere, on the west 
of the Indus. A very natural group from the Iranian side 
would be the Herirud, Hilmund, Arghandab, Kurum, Kabul, 
Indus, and Vitasta. Against this, however, can be urged that 
the term ' seven rivers ' may be Bactrian, older than the Vedic 
period ; and that, in particular, the Avesta distinguishes Vai- 
kerta, Urva, and other districts from the ' seven rivers.' It is 
best to remain uncertain in so doubtful a matter, bearing in 
mind that even Kurukshetra, the 'holy land,' is said to-day to 
be watered by ' seven streams,' although some say nine ; apropos 
of which fact Cunningham remarks, giving modern examples, 

that "the Hindus invariably assign seven branches to all their 

?) 1 
rivers. ^ 

Within the Punjab, the Vedic Aryans, now at last really 
* Hindus,' having extended themselves to the Qutudri (Qatadru, 
Sutlej), a formidable barrier, and eventually having crossed 
even this, the last tributary of the Indus, descended to the 
Jumna (Yamuna), over the little stream called 'the Rocky' 
(Drishadvati) and the lesser Sarasvati, southeast from Lahore 
and near Delhi, in the region Kurukshetra, afterwards famed as 
the seat of the great epic war, and always regarded as holy in 
the highest degree. 

Not till the time of the Atharva Veda do the Aryans appear 
as far east as Benares (Varanasi, on the ' Varanavati'.?), though 

i Arch. Survey^ yiv. p. 89 ; Thomas, loc. cit. p. 363. 


the Sarayu is mentioned in the Rik. But this scarcely is the 
tributary of the Ganges, Gogra, for the name seems to refer to 
a more western stream, since it is associated with the Gomati 
(Gomal). One may surmise that in the time of the Rig Veda 
the Aryans knew only by name the country east of Lucknow. 
It is in the Punjab and a little to the west and east of it (how 
far it is impossible to state with accuracy) where lies the real 
theatre of activity of the Rig Vedic people. 

Some scholars believe that this people had already heard of 
the two oceans. This point again is doubtful in the extreme. 
No descriptions imply a knowledge of ocean, and the word for 
ocean means merely a ' confluence ' of waters, or in general a 
great oceanic body of water like the air. As the Indus is too 
wide to be seen across, the name may apply in most cases to this 
river. An allusion to ' eastern and western floods,' ^ which is 
held by some to be conclusive evidence for a knowledge of the 
two seas, is taken by others to apply to the air-oceans. The 
expression may apply simply to rivers, for it is said that the 
Vipag and ^utudri empty into the ' ocean ', z>., the Indus or 
the Qutudri's continuation.^ One late verse alone speaks of 
the Sarasvati pouring into the ocean, and this would indicate 
the Arabian Sea.^ Whether the Bay of Bengal was known, 
even by hearsay and in the latest time of this period, remains 
uncertain. As a body the Aryans of the Rig Veda were cer- 
tainly not acquainted with either ocean. Some straggling 
adventurers probably pushed down the Indus, but Zimmer 
doubtless is correct in asserting that the popular emigration 
did not extend further south than the junction of the Indus 
and the Pancanada (the united five rivers).'* The extreme 
south-eastern geographical limit of the Rig Vedic people may 

1 RV. X. 136. 5. 2 RV. iii. ^y 2. 

3 RV. vii. 95. 2. Here the Sarasvati can be only the Indus. 

4 Panca-nada, Punjnud, Persian ' Punjab,' the five streams, Vitasta, AsiknT, Iravatl, ^ 
Vipag, Cutudrl. The Punjnud point is slowly moving up stream; Vyse, JRAS. 
X. 323. The Sarayu may be the Herlrud, Geiger, loc. cit. p. 72. 


be reckoned (not, however, in Oldenberg's opinion, with any 
great certainty) as being in Northern Behar (Magadha). The 
great desert, Marusthala, formed an impassable southern ob- 
stacle for the first immigrants.-^ 

On the other hand, the two oceans are well known to the 
Atharva Veda, while the geographical (and hence chronologi- 
cal) difference between the Rik and the Atharvan is furthermore 
illustrated by the following facts : in the Rig Veda wolf and 
lion are the most formidable beasts ; the tiger is unknown and 
the elephant seldom alluded to ; while in the Atharvan the tiger 
has taken the lion's place and the elephant is a more familiar 
figure. Now the tiger has his domicile in the swampy land 
about Benares, to which point is come the Atharvan Aryan, 
but not the Rig Vedic people. Here too, in the Atharvan, the 
panther is first mentioned, and for the first time silver and iron 
are certainly referred to. In the Rig Veda the metals are 
bronze and gold, silver and iron being unknown.^ Not less sig- 
nificant are the trees. The ficus religiosa, the tree later called 
the ' tree of the gods ' (jieva-sadajia, afvatfha), under which 
are fabled to sit the divinities in heaven, is scarcely known 
in the Rig Veda, but is well known in the Atharvan ; while 
India's grandest tree, the 7iyagrod/ia, ficus indica, is known to 
the Atharvan and Brahmanic period, but is utterly foreign to 
the Rig Veda. Zimmer deems it no less significant that fishes 
are spoken of in the Atharvan and are mentioned only once in 
the Rig Veda, but this may indicate a geographical difference 
less than one of custom. In only one doubtful passage is the 
north-east monsoon alluded to. The storm so vividly described 
in the Rig Veda is the south-west monsoon which is felt in the 
northern Punjab. The north-east monsoon is felt to the south- 

1 Muir, OST. ii. 351 ; Zimmer, loc. cit. p. 31 identifies the Klkatas of RV. iii. 53. 14 
with the inhabitants of Northern Behar. Marusthala is called simply ' the desert.' 

2 The earlier ayas^ Latin aes, means bronze not iron, as Zimmer has shown, 
loc. cit. p. 51. Pischel, Vedische Stndien, I, shows that elephants are mentioned 
more often than was supposed (but rarely in family-books). 


east of the Punjab, possibly another indication of geographical 
extension, withal within the limits of the Rig Veda itself. 

The seat of culture shifts in the Brahmanic period, which 
follows that of the Vedic poems, and is found partly in the 
'holy land ' of the west, and partly in the east (Behar, Tirhut).^ 
The literature of this period comes from Aryans that have 
passed out of the Punjab. Probably, as we have said, settle- 
ments were left all along the line of progress. Even before 
the wider knowledge of the post- Alexandrine imperial age (at 
which time there was a north-western military retrogression), 
and, from the Vedic point of view, as late as the end of the 
Brahmanic period, in the time of the Upanishads, the north- 
west seems still to have been familiarly known. '-^ 

1 Weber, hidische Stiiditm, I. p. 228 ; Oldenberg, Bitddha^ pp. 399 ff., 410. 

■- Very lately (1893) Franke has sought to show that the Pali dialect of India is in 
part referable to the western districts (Kandahar), and has made out an interesting 
case for his novel theory (ZDMG. xlvii. p, 595). 



The hymns of the Rig Veda may be divided into three 
classes, those in which are. especially lauded the older divini- 
ties, those in which appear as most prominent the sacrificial 
gods, and those in which a long-weakened polytheism is giving 
place to the light of a clearer pantheism. In each category 
there are hymns of different age and quality, for neither did 
the more ancient with the growth of new divinities cease to be 
revered, nor did pantheism inhibit the formal acknowledgment 
of the primitive pantheon. The cult once established persisted, 
and even when, at a later time, all the gods had been reduced 
to nominal fractions of the All-god, their ritualistic individuality 
still was preserved. The chief reason for this lies in the 
nature of these gods and in the attitude of the worshipper. 
No matter how much the cult of later gods might prevail, the 
other gods, who represented the daily phenomena of nature, 
were still visible, awe-inspiring, divine. The firmest pantheist 
questioned not the advisability of propitiating the sun-god, 
however much he might regard this god as but a part of one 
that was greater. Belief in India was never so philosophical 
that the believer did not dread the lightning, and seek to avert 
it by praying to the special god that wielded' it. But active 
veneration in later times was extended in fact only to the 
strong Powers, while the more passive divinities, although they 
were kept as a matter of form in the ceremonial, yet had in 
reality only tongue-worshippers. 

With some few exceptions, however, it will be found impossible 
to say whether any one deity belonged to the first pantheon. 


The best one can do is to separate the mass of gods from those 
that become the popular gods, and endeavor to learn what was 
the character of each, and what were the conceptions of the 
poets in regard both to his nature, and to his relations with 
man. A different grouping of the gods (that indicated below) 
will be followed, therefore, in our exposition. 

After w^hat has been said in the introductory chapter con- 
cerning the necessity of distinguishing between good and bad 
poetry, it may be regarded as incumbent upon us to seek to 
make such a division of the hymns as shall illustrate our words. 
But we shall not attempt to do this here, because the distinc- 
tion between late mechanical and poetic hymns is either very 
evident, and it would be superfluous to burden the pages with 
the trash contained in the former,^ or the distinction is one 
liable to reversion at the hands of those critics whose judgment 
differs from ours, for there are of course some hymns that to 
one may seem poetical and to another, artificial. Moreover, 
we admit that hymns of true feeling may be composed late 
as well as early, while as to beauty of style the chances are 
that the best literary production will be found among the latest 
rather than among the earliest hymns. 

It would, indeed, be admissible, if one had any certainty in 
regard to the age of the different parts of the Rig Veda, simply 
to divide the hymns into early, middle, and late, as they are 
sometimes divided in philological works, but here one rests on 
the weakest of all supports for historical judgment, a linguistic 
and metrical basis, when one is ignorant alike of what may have 
been accomplished by imitation, and of the work of those later 
priests who remade the poems of their ancestors. 

Best then, because least hazardous, appears to be the method 
which we have followed, namely, to take up group by group 

1 Such for instance as the hymn to the Agvins, RV. ii. 39. Compare verses 3-4 : 
'Come (ye pair of Agvins) Uke two horns; Uke two hoofs; Uke two geese; Hke two 
wheels ; like two ships ; like two spans ' ; etc. This is the content of the whole hymn. 


the most important deities arranged in the order of their rela- 
tive importance, and by studying each to arrive at a fair under- 
standing of the pantheon as a whole. The Hindus themselves 
divided their gods into highest, middle, and lowest, or those of 
the upper sky, the atmosphere, and the earth. This division, 
from the point of view of one who would enter into the spirit 
of the seers and at the same time keep in mind the changes to 
which that spirit gradually was subjected, is an excellent one. 
For, as will be seen, although the earlier order of regard may 
have been from below upwards, this order does not apply to 
the literary monuments. These show on the contrary a wor- 
ship which steadily tends from above earthwards ; and the 
three periods into which may be divided all Vedic theology 
are first that of the special worship of sky-gods, when less 
attention is paid to others ; then that of the atmospheric and 
meteorological divinities ; and finally that of terrestrial powers, 
each later group absorbing, so to speak, the earlier, and there- 
with preparing the developing Hindu intelligence for the recep- 
tion of the universal god with whom closes the series. 

Other factors than those of an inward development undoubt- 
edly were at work in the formation of this growth. Espe- 
cially prominent is the amalgamation of the gods of the lower 
classes with those of the priest-hood. Climatic environment, too, 
conditioned theological evolution, if not spiritual advance. The 
cult of the mid-sphere god, Indra, was partly the result of the 
changing atmospheric surroundings of the Hindus as they ad- 
vanced into India. The storms and the sun were not those of 
old. The tempests were more terrific, the display of divine power 
was more concentrated in the rage of the elements ; while 
appreciation of the goodness of the sun became tinged with 
apprehension of evil, and he became a deadly power as well as 
one beneficent. Then the relief of rain after drought gave to 
Indra the character of a benign god as well as of a fearful one. 
Nor were lacking in the social condition certain alterations 


which worked together with climatic changes. The segregated 
mass of the original people, the braves that hung about the 
king, a warrior-class rapidly becoming a caste, and politically 
the most important caste, took the god of thunder and lightning 
for their god of battle. The fighting race naturally exalted to 
the highest the fighting god. Then came into prominence the 
priestly caste, which gradually taught the warrior that mind 
was stronger than muscle. But this caste was one of thinkers. 
Their divinity was the product of reflection. Indra remained, 
but yielded to a higher power, and the god thought out by the 
priests became God. Yet it must not be supposed that 1^he 
cogitative energy of the Brahman descended upon the people's 
gods and suddenly produced a religious revolution. In India 
no intellectual advance is made suddenly. The older divini- 
ties show one by one the transformation that they suffered at 
the hands of theosophic thinkers. Before the establishment 
of a general Father-god, and long before that of the pantheistic 
All-god, the philosophical leaven was actively at work. It will 
be seen operative at once in the case of the sun-god, and, 
indeed, there were few of the older divinities that were un- 
touched by it. It worked silently and at first esoterically. 
One reads of the gods' ' secret names,' of secrets in theology, 
which 'are not to be revealed,' till at last the disguise is with- 
drawn, and it is discovered that all the mystery of former 
generations has been leading up to the declaration now made 
public : 'all these gods are but names of the One.' 


The hymn which was translated in the first chapter gives 
an epitome of the simpler conceptions voiced in the few whole 
hymns to the sun. But there is a lower and a higher view of 
this god. He is the shining god par excellence, the deva, siirya^ 

1 Dex'a is ' shining' (deus), and Surya (sol, -tjXios) nieans the same. 


the red ball in the sky. But he is also an active force, the 
power that wakens, rouses, enlivens, and as such it is he that 
gives all good things to mortals and to gods. As the god that 
gives life he (with others) ^ is the author of birth, and is prayed 
to for children. From above he looks down upon earth, and as 
with his one or many steeds he drives over the firmament he 
observes all that is passing below. He has these, the physical 
side and the spiritual side, under two names, the glowing one, 
Surya, and the enlivener, Savitar ;^ but he is also the good god 
who bestows benefits, and as such he was known, probably 
locally, by the name of Bhaga. Again, as a herdsman's god, 
possibly at first also a local deity, he is Pushan (the meaning is 
almost the same with that of Savitar). As the 'mighty one' 
he is Vishnu, who measures heaven in three strides. In gen- 
eral, the conception of the sun as a physical phenomenon will 
be found voiced chiefly in the family-books : " The sightly 
form rises on the slope of the sky as the swift-going steed 
carries him . . . seven sister steeds carry him." " This is the 
prevailing utterance. Sometimes the sun is depicted under a 
medley of metaphors : " A bull, a flood, a red bird, he has 
entered his father's place ; a variegated stone he is set in the 
midst of the sky ; he has advanced and guards the two ends of 
space." * One after the other the god appears to the poets as 
a bull, a bird,^ a steed, a stone, a jewel, a flood, a torch-holder,° 
or as a gleaming car set in heaven. Nor is the sun indepen- 
dent. As in the last image of a chariot," so, without symbolism, 
the poet speaks of the sun as made to rise by Varuna and 
Mitra : " On their wonted path go Varuna and ]\Iitra when in 

1 Let the reader note at the outset that there is scarcely an activity considered as 
divine wliich does not belong to several gods (see below). 

2 From sti^ sat', enliven, beget, etc. In RV. iv. 53. 6 and vii. 63. 2, prasaziiar. 

3 RV. VII. 66. 14-15; compare X. 17S. i. In the notes immediately following 
the numbers all refer to the Rig Veda. 

^ V. 47. 3 ; compare vs. 7, and X. 1S9. 1-2. 

5 Compare X. 177. r. c x. 37. 9. 

■^ V. 63. 7. Varuna and Mitra set the sun's car in heaven. 


the sky they cause to rise Surya, whom they made to avert 
darkness"; where, also, the sun, under another image, is the 
"support of the sky."^ Nay, in this simpler view, the sun is 
no more than the "eye of Mitra Varuna," ^ a conception for- 
mally retained even when the sun in the same breath is spoken 
of as pursuing Dawn like a lover, and as being the * soul of 
the universe' (I. 115. 1-2). In the older passages the later 
moral element is almost lacking, nor is there maintained the 
same physical relation between Sun and Dawn. In the earlier 
hymns the Dawn is the Sun's mother, from whom he proceeds.^ 
It is the "Dawns produced the Sun," in still more natural 
language ; ^ whereas, the idea of the lover-Sun following the 
Dawn scarcely occurs in the family-books/ Distinctly late, 
also, is the identification of the sun with the all-spirit {atuid^ 
I. 115. i), and the following prayer: "Remove, O sun, all 
weakness, illness, and bad dreams." In this hymn, X. 37. 14, 
Surya is the son of the sky, but he is evidently one with Savitar, 
who in V. 82. 4, removes bad dreams, as in X. 100. 8, he 
removes sickness. Men are rendered ' sinless ' by the sun 
(IV. 54. 3 ; X. 37. 9) exactly as they are by the other gods, 
Indra, Varuna, etc. In a passage that refers to the important 
triad of sun, wind and fire, X. 158. i ff., the sun is invoked to 
'save from the sky,' i.e.^ from all evils that may come from the 
upper regions ; while in the same book the sun, like Indra, is 
represented as the slayer of demons {asiiras) and dragons ; as 
the slayer, also, of the poet's rivals ; as giving long life to the 
worshipper, and as himself drinking sweet so7na. This is one 
of the poems that seem to be at once late and of a forced and 
artificial character (X. 170). 

1 IV. 13. 2-5; X. 37. 4; 85, I. But ib. 149. I Savitar holds the sky 'without 

2 VII. 63. I ; I. 115. I ; X. 37. I. 

3III. 61.4; VII. 63. 3. 4VII. 78. 3. ' 

5 I. 56. 4; IX. 84. 2 ; Compare I. 92. 11 ; 115, 2 ; 123. 10-12. V. 44. 7, and per- 
haps 47. 6, are late. VII. 75. 5, is an exception (or late). 


Although Surya is differentiated explicitly from Savitar 
(V. 8 1. 4, "Savitar, thou joyest in Surya's rays"), yet do many 
of the hymns make no distinction between them. The Enlivener 
is naturally extolled in fitting phrase, to tally with his title : 
" The shining-god, the Enlivener, is ascended to enliven the 
world " ; " He gives protection, wealth and children " (II. 2i'^. i ; 
IV. 53. 6-7). The later hymns seem, as one might expect, to 
show greater confusion between the attributes of the physical 
and spiritual sun. But what higher power under either name 
is ascribed to the sun in the later hymns is not due to a 
higher or more developed homage of the sun as such. On the 
contrary, as with many other deities, the more the praise the 
less the individual worship. It is as something more than the 
sun that the god later receives more fulsome devotion. And, 
in fact, paradoxical as it seems, it is a decline in sun-worship 
proper that is here registered. The altar-fire becomes more 
important, and is revered in the sun, whose hymns, at most, 
are few, and in part mechanical. 

Bergaigne in his great work. La Religion Vedique, has laid 
much stress on sexual antithesis as an element in Vedic wor- 
ship. It seems to us that this has been much exaggerated. 
The sun is masculine ; the dawn, feminine. But there is no 
indication of a primitive antithesis of male and female in their 
relations. What occurs appears to be of adventitious char- 
acter. For though sun and dawn are often connected, the 
latter is represented first as his mother and afterwards as his 
* wife ' or mistress. Even in the later hymns, where the marital 
relation is recognized, it is not insisted upon. But Bergaigne ^ 
is right in saying that in the Rig Veda the sun does not play 
the part of an evil power, and it is a good illustration of the 
difference between Rik and Atharvan, when Ehni cites, to 
prove that the sun is like death, only passages from the Athar- 
van and the later Brahmanic literature.^ 

1 La Religion Vcdiqiie, I. 6 ; II. 2. 2 Ehni, Yama, p. 134, 


When, later, the Hindus got into a region where the sun was 
deadly, they said, "Yon burning sun-god is death," but in the 
Rig Veda they said, "Yon sun is the source of life,"^ and no 
other conception of the sun is to be found in the Rig A^eda. 

There are about a dozen hymns to Siirya, and as many to 
Savitar, in the Rig Veda.^ It is noteworthy that in the family- 
books the hymns to Savitar largely prevail, while those to 
Surya are chiefly late in position or content. Thus, in the 
family-books, where are found eight or nine of the dozen 
hymns to .Savitar, there are to Surya but three or four, and of 
these the first is really to Savitar and the A^vins ; the second 
is an imitation of the first ; the third appears to be late ; and 
the fourth is a fragment of somewhat doubtful antiquity. The 
first runs as follows : " The altar-fire has seen well-pleased the 
dawns' beginning and the offering to the gleaming ones ; come, 
O ye horsemen (A^vins), to the house of the pious man ; the 
sun (Surya), the shining-god, rises with light. The shining-god 
Savitar has elevated his beams, swinging his banner like a good 
(hero) raiding for cattle. According to rule go Varuna and 
Mitra when they make rise in the sky the sun (Surya) whom 
they have created to dissipate darkness, being (gods) sure of 
their habitation and unswerving in intent. Seven yellow swift- 
steeds bear this Surya, the seer of all that moves. Thou 
comest with swiftest steeds unspinning the web, separating, O 
shining-god, the black robe. The rays of Siirya swinging 
(his banner) have laid darkness like a skin in the waters. 
Unconnected, unsupported, downward extending, why does 
not this (god) fall down ? With what nature goes he, who 
knows (literally, * who has seen ') ? As a support he touches 
and guards the vault of the sky" (IV. 13). 

There is here, no more than in the early hymn from the first 
book, translated in the first chapter, any worship of material 

1 RV., IV. 54. 2. Here the sun gives life even to the gods. 

2 Ten hundred and twenty-eight hymns are contained in the ' Rig Veda Collection.' 


phenomena. Siirya is worshipped as Savitar, either expressly 
so called, or with all the attributes of the spiritual. The hj^mn 
that follows this ^ is a bald imitation. In V. 47 there are 
more or less certain signs of lateness, e.g.^ in the fourth stanza 
("four carry him, . . . and ten give the child to drink that he 
may go," etc.) there is the juggling with unexplained numbers, 
which is the delight of the later priesthood. Moreover, this 
hymn is addressed formally to Mitra-Varuna and Agni, and 
not to the sun-god, who is mentioned only in metaphor ; while 
the final words ndfjio dive., 'obeisance to heaven,' show that 
the sun is only indirectly addressed. One cannot regard 
hymns addressed to Mitra-Varuna and Surya (with other gods) 
as primarily intended for Surya, who in these hymns is looked 
upon as the subject of Mitra and Varuna, as in vii. 62 ; or as 
the "eye" of the two other gods, and 'like Savitar' in vii. 63. 
So in vii. 66. 14-16, a mere fragment of a hymn is devoted 
exclusively to Surya as " lord of all that stands and goes." 
But in these hymns there are some very interesting touches. 
Thus in vii. 60. 1, the sun does not make sinless, but he 
announces to Mitra and Varuna that the mortal is sinless. 
There are no other hymns than these addressed to Surya, save 
those in the first and tenth books, of which nine stanzas of 
I. 50 (see above) may be reckoned early, while I. 115, where 
the sun is the soul of the universe, and at the same time the 
eye of Mitra-Varuna, is probably late ; and I. 163 is certainly 
so, wherein the sun is identified with Yama, Trita, etc.; is 'like 
Varuna ' ; and is himself a steed, described as having three 
connections in the sky, three in the waters, three in the sea. 
In one of the hymns in the tenth book, also a mystical song, 
the sun is the ' bird ' of the sky, a metaphor which soon gives 
another figure to the pantheon in the form of Garutman, the 
sun-bird, of whose exploits are told strange tales in the epic, 
where he survives as Garuda. In other hymns Surya averts 

1 iv. 14. 


carelessness at the sacrifice, guards the worshipper, and slays 
demons. A mechanical little hymn describes him as measur- 
ing the ' thirty stations.' Not one of these hymns has literary 
freshness or beauty of any kind. They all belong to the class 
of stereotyped productions, which differ in origin and content 
from the hymns first mentioned.^ 


Turning to Savitar one finds, of course, many of the same 
descriptive traits as in the praise of Surya, his more material 
self. But with the increased spirituality come new features. 
Savitar is not alone the sun that rises ; he is also the sun that 
sets ; and is extolled as such. There are other indications 
that most of the hymns composed for him are to accompany 
the sacrifice, either of the morning or of the evening. In II. 
38, an evening song to Savitar, there are inner signs that the 
hymn was made for rubrication, but here some fine verses 
occur : " The god extends his vast hand, his arms above there 
— and all here obeys him; to his command the waters move, 
and even the winds' blowing ceases on all sides." Again : 
"Neither Indra, Varuna, Mitra, Aryaman, Rudra, nor the 
demons, impair his law." We call attention here to the fact 
that the Rig Veda contains a stong current of demonology, 
much stronger than has been pointed out b^* scholars intent on 
proving the primitive loftiness of the Vedic religion. 

In III. 62. 7-9 there are some verses to Pushan, following 
which is the most holy couplet of the Rig Veda, to repeat 
which is essentially to repeat the Veda. It is the famous 
Gayatri or Savitri hymnlet (10-12): 

Of Savitar, the heavenly, that longed-for glory may we win, 
And may himself inspire our prayers.^ 

1 X, 37; 158; 170; 177; 189, Each has its own mark of lateness. In I'j^ the 
dream; in 158, the triad ; in 170, the sun as asttraha ; in 177, the mystic tone and 
the bird-sun (compare Garutnian, I. 164 ; X. 149) ; in 189, the thirty stations. 

2 See Whitney in Colebrooke' s Essays, revised edition, ii. p. iii. 


Whitney {loc. cit.) says of this hymn that it is not remarkable 
in any way and that no good reason has ever been given for its 
fame. The good reason for this fame, in our opinion, is that 
the longed-for glory was interpreted later as a revealed indica- 
tion of primitive pantheism, and the verses were understood to 
express the desire of absorption into the sun, which, as will be 
seen, was one of the first divine bodies to be accepted as the 
type of the All-god. This is also the intent of the stanzas 
added to I. 50 (above, p. 17), where Siirya is "the highest 
light, the god among gods," mystic words, taken by later 
philosophers, and quite rightly, to be an expression of pan- 
theism. The esoteric meaning of the Gayatri presumably made 
it popular among the enlightened. Exoterically the sun was 
only the goal of the soul, or, in pure pantheism, of the sight. 
In the following ^ the sin-forgiving side of Savitar is developed, 
whereby he comes into connection with Varuna : 

God Savitar deserveth now a song from us; 
To-day, with guiding word, let men direct him here. 
He who distributes gifts unto the sons of men, 
Shall here on us bestow whatever thing is best ; 
For thou, O Savitar, dost first upon the gods 
Who sacrifice deserve, lay immortality. 
The highest gift, and then to mortals dost extend 
As their apportionment a long enduring life. 
Whatever thoughtless thing against the race of gods 
We do in foolishness and human insolence, 
Do thou from that, O Savitar, mid gods and men 
Make us here sinless, etc. 

But if this song smacks of the sacrifice, still more so does 
V. 81, where Savitar is the 'priest's priest,' the 'arranger of 
sacrifice,' and is one with Pushan. He is here the swift horse 
(see above) and more famous as the divider of time than any- 
thing else. In fact this was the first ritualistic glory of Savitar, 
that he divides the time for sacrifice. But he receives more in 

1 iv. 54. 


the light of being the type of other luminous divinities. In 
the next hymn, another late effort (v. 82 ; see the dream in 
vs. 4), there may be an imitation of the Gayatri. Savitar is 
here the All-god and true lord, and frees from sin. There is 
nothing new or striking in the hymns vi. 71 ; vii. 38 and 45. 
The same golden hands, and references to the sacrifice occur 
here. Allusions to the Dragon of the Deep, who is called 
upon with Savitar (vii. 38. 5), and the identification of Savitar 
with Bhaga (ib. 6) are the most important items to be gleaned 
from these rather stupid hymns. In other hymns not in the 
family-books (ii.-viii.), there is a fragment, X. 139. 1-3, and 
another, I. 22. 5-8. In the latter, Agni's (Fire's) title, 'son 
of waters,' is given to Savitar, who is virtually identified with 
Agni in the last part of the Rig Veda ; and in the former 
hymn there is an interesting discrimination made between 
Savitar and Pushan, who obeys him. The last hymn in the 
collection to Savitar, X. 149, although late and plainly intended 
for the sacrifice (vs. 5), is interesting as showing how the phil- 
osophical speculation worked about Savitar as a centre. ' He 
alone, he the son of the waters, knows the origin of water, 
whence arose the world.' This is one of the early speculations 
which recur so frequently in the Brahmanic period, wherein 
the origin of ' all this ' (the universe) is referred to water, A 
hymn to Savitar in the first book contains as excellent a song 
as is given to the sun under this name. It is neither a morn- 
ing nor an evening song in its original state, but mentions all 
the god's functions, without the later moral traits so prominent 
elsewhere, and with the old threefold division instead of thrice- 
three heavens. 

TO SAVITAR (I. 35). 

I call on Agni first (the god of fire) for weal ; 
I call on Mitra-Varuna to aid me here ; 
I call upon the Night, who quiets all that moves; 
On Savitar, the shining god, I call for help. 


After this introductory invocation begins the real song in 
a different metre. 

Through space of darkness wending comes he hither, 

Who puts to rest th' immortal and the mortal, 

On golden car existent things beholding, 

The god that rouses, Savitar, the shining ; 

Comes he, the shining one, comes forward, upward, 

Comes with two yellow steeds, the god revered, 

Comes shining Savitar from out the distance, 

All difficulties far away compelling. 

His pearl-adorned, high, variegated chariot. 

Of which the pole is golden, he, revered, 

Hath mounted, Savitar, whose beams are brilliant, 

Against the darksome spaces strength assuming. 

Among the people gaze the brown white-footed 

(Steeds) that the chariot drag whose pole is golden. 

All peoples stand, and all things made, forever. 

Within the lap of Savitar, the heavenly. 

[There are three heavens of Savitar, two low ones,l 
One, men-restraining, in the realm of Yama. 
As on (his) chariot-pole - stand all immortals, 
Let him declare it who has understood it !] 

Across air-spaces gazes he, the eagle. 
Who moves in secret, th' Asura,-^ well-guiding. 
Where is (bright) Surya now? who understands it .»* 
And through which sky is now his ray extending .'' 

He looks across the earth's eight elevations,'* 
The desert stations three, and the seven rivers. 
The gold-eyed shining god is come, th' Arouser, 
To him that worships giving wealth and blessings. 

1 Two 'laps' below, besides that above, the word meaning 'middle' but also 
' under-place.' The explanation of this much-disputed passage will be found by 
comparing i. 154. 5 and vii. 99. i. The sun"s three places are where he appears on 
both horizons and in the zenith. The last is the abode of the dead where Vama 
reigns. Compare iv. 53. The bracketed verses are probably a late puzzle attached 
to the word ' lap ' of the preceding verse. - Doubtful. 

3 The Spirit, later of evil spirits, demons (as above, the astir aha). Compare 

■1 A numerical conception not paralleled in the Rig ^'eda, though mountains are 
called protuberances (' elevations ') in other places. 


The golden-handed Savitar, the active one, 
Goes earth and heaven between, compels demoniac powers, 
To Surya gives assistance, and through darksome space 
Extends to heaven, etc.^ 


With Pushan, the 'bestower of prosperity,' appears an ancient 
side of sun-worship. While under his other names the sun has 
lost, to a great extent, the attributes of a bucolic solar deity, in 
the case of Pushan he appears still as a god whose characteris- 
tics are bucolic, war-like, and priestly, that is to say, even as 
he is venerated by the three masses of the folk. It will not 
do, of course, to distinguish too sharply between the first two 
divisions, but one can very well compare Pushan in these roles 
with Helios guiding his herds, and Apollo swaying armed hosts. 
It is customary to regard Pushan as too bucolic a deity, but 
this is only one side of him. He apparently is the sun, as 
herdsmen look upon him, and in this figure is the object of 
ridicule with the warrior-class who, especially in one family or 
tribe, take a more exalted view of him. Consequently, as in 
the case of Varuna, one need not read into the hymns more 
than they offer to see that, not to speak of the priestly view, 
there are at least two Pushans, in the Rig Veda itself.^ 

As the god 'with braided hair,' and as the 'guardian of 
cattle,' Pushan offers, perhaps, in these particulars, the original 
of Rudra's characteristics, who, in the Vedic period, and later 
as Rudra-^iva, is also a ' guardian of cattle ' and has the 
' braided hair.' 

Bergaigne identifies Pushan with Soma, with whom the poets 
were apt to identify many other deities, but there seems to be 
little similarity originally.^ It is only in the wider circles of 

1 The last stanza is in the metre of the first ; two more follow without significant 

2 The texts are translated by Muir, OST, v. p. 171 ff. 

3 La Religion Vcdique, ii. p. 42S. Compare Hillebrandt, Sovta, p, 456. 


each god's activity that the two approach each other. Both 
gods, it is true, wed Surya (the female sun-power), and Soma, 
like Pushan, finds lost cattle. But it must be recognized once 
for all that identical attributes are not enough to identify 
Vedic gods. Who gives wealth ? Indra, Soma, Agni, Heaven 
and Earth, Wind, Sun, the Maruts, etc. Who forgives sins ? 
Agni, Varuna, Indra, the Sun, etc. Who helps in war .^ Agni, 
Pushan, Indra, Soma, etc. Who sends rain ? Indra, Parjan3-a, 
Soma, the Maruts, Pushan, etc. Who weds Dawn ? The 
A^vins, the Sun, etc. The attributes must be functional or 
the identification is left incomplete. 

The great disparity in descriptions of Pushan may be illus- 
trated by setting vi. 48. 19 beside x. 92. 13. The former 
passage merely declares that Pushan is a war-leader " over 
mortals, and like the gods in glory " ; the latter, that he is 
" distinguished by all divine attributes " ; that is to say, what 
has happened in the case of Savitar has happened here also. 
The individuality of Pushan dies out, but the vaguer he 
becomes the more grandiloquently is he praised and asso- 
ciated with other powers ; while for lack of definite laudation 
general glory is ascribed to him. The true position of Pushan 
in the eyes of the warrior is given unintentionally by one who 
says,-*^ " I do not scorn thee, O Piishan," /.<?., as do most people, 
on account of thv ridiculous attributes. For PCishan does not 
drink soma like Indra, but eats mush. So another devout 
believer says : " Pushan is not described by them that call 
him an eater of mush." ^ The fact that he was so called 
speaks louder than the pious protest. Again, Pushan is simply 
bucolic. He uses the goad, which, however, according to Ber- 
gaigne, is the thunderbolt ! So, too, the cows that Pushan 
is described as guiding have been interpreted as clouds or 
'dawns.' But they may be taken without 'interpretation' as 

1 i. 138. 4. 

2 vi. 56. I. 


real cows.^ Pushan drives the cows, he is armed with a goad, 
and eats mush ; bucolic throughout, yet a sun-god. It is on 
these lines that his finding-qualities are to be interpreted. 
He finds lost cattle,^ a proper business for such a god ; but 
Bergaigne will see in this a transfer from Pushan's finding of 
rain and of so7na? Pushan, too, directs the furrow.^ 

Together with Vishnu and Bhaga this god is invoked at 
sacrifices, (a fact that says little against or for his original sun- 
ship), ° and he is intimately connected with Indra. His sister 
is his mistress, and his mother is his wife (Dawn and Night ?) 
according to the meagre accounts given in vi. 55. 4-5." As a 
god of increase he is invoked in the marriage-rite, X. 85. 37. 

As Savitar and all sun-gods are at once luminous and dark, 
so Pushan has a clear and again a revered (terrible) appear- 
ance ; he is like day and night, like Dyaus (the sky) ; at one 
time bright, at another, plunged in darkness, vi. 58. i. Quite 
like Savitar he is the shining god who " looks upon all beings 
and sees them all together" ; he is the "lord of the path,'' the 
god of travellers ; he is invoked to drive away evil spirits, 
thieves, footpads, and all workers of evil ; he makes paths for 
the winning of wealth ; he herds the stars and directs all with 
so77ia. He carries a golden axe or sword, and is borne through 
air and water on golden ships ; and it is he that lets down the 
sun's golden wheel. These simpler attributes appear for the 
most part in the early hymns. In what seem to be later hymns, 
he is the mighty one who '' carries the thoughts of all " ; he is 

1 In i. 2^. 13-15 Pushan is said to bring king (soma), "whom he found like a lost 
herd of cattle."' The fragment is late if, as is probable, the ' six" of vs. 15 are the six 
seasons. Compare vi. 54. 5, '' may Pushan go after our kine." 

- Compare vi. 54. 

3 He is the 'son of freeing,' from darkness.'' vi. 55. i. 

4 iv. 57. 7. 

" vi. 17. Ti; 48. II ff. ; iv. 30. 24 ff. He is called like a war-god with the 
Maruts in vi. 48. 

6 So, too, Bhaga is Dawn's b/other, I. 123. 5. Pushan is Indra's brother in vi. 
55. 5. Gubernatis interprets Pushan as 'the setting sun.' 


like sojna (the drink), and attends to the filter ; he is " lord of 
the pure " ; the " one born of old," and is especially called 
upon to help the poets' hymns. ^ It is here, in the last part of 
the Rig Veda, that he appears as i//x;;(07ro/x7ro?, who "goes and 
returns," escorting the souls of the dead to heaven. He is 
the sun's messenger, and is differentiated from Savitar in X. 
139. \} Apparently he was a god affected most by the 
Bharadvaja family (to which is ascribed the sixth book of the 
Rig Veda) where his worship was extended more broadly. 
He seems to have become the special war-god of this family, 
and is consequently invoked with Indra and the Maruts 
(though this may have been merely in his role as sun). The 
goats, his steeds, are also an attribute of the Scandinavian 
war-god Thor (Kaegi, Rig Veda., note 210), so that his bucolic 
character rests more in his goad, food, and plough. 

Bhaga is recognized as an Aditya (luminous deity) and was 
perhaps a sun-god of some class, possibly of all, as the name 
in Slavic is still kept in the meaning ' god,' literally ' giver.' 
In the Rig Veda the word means, also, simply god, as in 
bhdgabhakta, ' given by gods ' ; but as a name it is well known, 
and when thus called Bhaga is still the giver, ' the bestower ' 
{indha?'ta). As bhaga is also an epithet of Savitar, the name 
may not stand for an originally distinct personality. Bhaga 
has but one hymn.^ There is in fact no reason why Bhaga 
should be regarded as a sun-god, except for the formal identifi- 

1 Contrast I. 42, and X. 26 (with i. 138. i). In the first hymn Pushan leads the 
way and drives away danger, wolves, thieves, and helps to booty and pasturage. In 
the last he is a war-god, who helps in battle, a 'far-ruler,' embracing the thoughts of 
all (as in III. 62. 9). 

2 For the traits just cited compare iv. 57. 7 ; vi. 17. 11 ; 48. 15 ; 53 ; 55 ; 36. 1-3 ; 
57. 3-4; 58. 2-4; 11.40; X. 17. 3 ff.; 26. 3-8; I. 23. 14; all of I. 42, and 138; 
viii. 4, 15-1S ; III. 57. 2. In X. 17. 4, Savitar, too, guides the souls of the dead. 

3 That is to say, one hymn is addressed to Bhaga with various other gods, vii. 41. 
Here he seems to be personified good-luck (" of whom even the king says, ' I would 
have thee,"" vs. 2). In the Brahmanas 'Bhaga is bUnd,' which applies better to 
Fortune than to the Sun. 


cation of him as an Aditya, that is as the son of Aditi (Bound- 
lessness, see below); but neither Surya nor Savitar is originally 
an Aditya, and in Iranic bagha is only an epithet of Ormuzd. 


To PusHAN (vi. 56). 

The man who Pushan designates 
"With words like these, * mush-eater he,' 
By him the god is not described. 

With Pushan joined in unison 
That best of warriors, truest lord, 
Indra, the evil demons slays. 

'T is he, the best of warriors, drives 
The golden chariot of the sun 
Among the speckled kine (the clouds). 

Whate'er we ask of thee to-day, 
O w'onder-worker, praised and wise, 
Accomplish thou for us that prayer. 

And this our band, which hunts for kine,i 
Successful make for booty's gain ; 
Afar, O Pushan, art thou praised. 

We seek of thee success, which far 
From ill, and near to wealth shall be ; 
For full prosperity to-day; 
And full prosperity the morn.^ 

To Bhaga (vii. 41). 

Early on Agni call we, early Indra call ; 
Early call Mitra, Varuna, the Horsemen twain ; 
Early, too, Bhaga, Pushan, and the Lord of Strength ; 
And early Soma will we call, and Rudra too. 

1 The hymn is sung before setting out on a forray for cattle. Let one observe 
how unsupported is the assumption of the ritualists as applied to this hymn, that it 
must have been " composed for rubrication." 

2 After Muir, V. p. i ']'$>. The clouds and cattle are both called gas^ ' wanderers,' 
which helped in the poetic identification of the two. 


This stanza has been prefixed to the hymn by virtue of the 
catch-word ' early ' (in the morning), with whicli really begins 
this prosaic poem (in different metre) : 

The early-conquering mighty Ehaga call we, 
The son of Boundlessness, the gift-besto\ver,i 
Whom weak and strong, and e'en the king, regarding, 
Cry bhdgam bhakshi, 'give to me the giver.' ^ 

O Bhaga, leader Bhaga, true bestower, 
O Bhaga, help this prayer, to us give (riches), 
O Bhaga, make us grow in kine and horses, 
O Bhaga, eke in men, men-wealthy be we ! 

And now may we be rich, be (^//a^cz-holders,^ 
Both at the (day's) approach, and eke at midday, 
And at the sun's departure, generous giver. 
The favor of the gods may we abide in. 

O gods, (to us) be Bhaga really bhaga,^ 
By means of him may we be bhaga-\\o\^Q.x^. 
As such an one do all, O Bhaga, call thee. 
As such, O Bhaga, be to-day our leader. 

May dawns approach the sacrifice, the holy 

Place, like to Dadhikra,° like horses active, 

Which bring a chariot near ; so, leading Bhaga, 

Who finds good things, may they approach, and bring him. 

As this is the only hymn addressed to Bhaga, and as it 
proves itself to have been made for altar service (in style as 
well as in special mention of the ceremony), it is evident that 
Bhaga, although called Aditi's son, is but a god of wealth and 
(like An^a, the Apportion er) very remotely connected with 

1 Compare ix. 97. 55, " Thou art Bhaga, giver of gifts." 

2 Bhagaiit bhakshi! Compare baksheesh. The word as 'god' is both Avestan, 
bagha, and Slavic, bogii (also meaning 'rich'). It may be an epithet of other gods 
also, and here it means only luck. 

3 Literally ' possessed of bhaga^ i.e., wealth. 

4 May Bhaga be bhdgavan, z.e., a true b/iaga-ho\der. Here and below a pun on 
the name (as above). 

5 Mythical being, possibly the sun-horse. According to Pischel a real earthly 


physical functions. But tlie hymn appears to be so late that 
it cannot throw much light on the original conception of the 
deity. We rather incline to doubt whether Bhaga was ever, 
strictly speaking, a sun-god, and think that he was made so 
merely because the sun (Savitar) was called bhaga. A (Zeus) 
Bagaios was worshipped by the Phrygians, while in the Avesta 
and as a Slavic god Bhaga has no especial connection with the 
sun. It must be acknowledged, however, that every form of 
the sun-god is especially lauded for generosity. 


In the person of Vishnu the sun is extolled under another 
name, which in the period of the Rig Veda was still in the 
dawn of its glory. The hymns to Vishnu are few ; his fame 
rests chiefly on the three strides with which he crosses heaven, 
on his making fast the earth, and on his munificence.-^ He, 
too, leads in battle and is revered under the title Qipivishta,^ 
of unknown significance, but meaning literally 'bald.' Like 
Savitar he has three spaces, two called earthly, and one, the 
highest, known only to himself. His greatness is inconceiv- 
able, and he is especially praised with Indra, the two being 
looked upon as masters of the world.^ His highest place is 
the realm of the departed spirits.* The hymns to him appear 
to be late (thus I. 155. 6, where, as the year, he has four 
seasons of ninety days each). Like Pushan (his neighbor in 
many lauds) he is associated in a late hymn with the Maruts 
(V. 87). His later popularity lies in the importance of his 
' highest place ' (or step) being the home of the departed 
spirits, where he himself dwells, inscrutable. This led to the 
spirit's union with the sun, which, as we have said, is one of 

1 I. 22. 17, etc. ; 154 ff. ; vii. loo. 

2 vii, 100, 5-6. Vishnu (may be the epithet of Indra in I. 6i. 7) means winner (?). 

3 vi. 69; vii. 99. But Vishnu is ordered about by Indra (iv, 18. 11 j viii. 89. 12). 

4 I. 154. 5. In II. I. 3, Vishnu is one with Fire (Agni). 


the first phases of the pantheistic doctrine. In the family- 
books Vishnu gets but two hymns, both in the same collection, 
and shares one more with Indra (vii, 99-100 ; vi. 69). In 
some of the family-collections, notably in that of the Vicva- 
mitras, he is, if not unknown, almost ignored. As Indra's 
friend he is most popular wdth the Kanva family, but even here 
he has no special hymn. 

None born, God Vishnu, and none born hereafter 

E'er reaches to the Hmit of thy greatness ; 

'Twas thou establish'st yon high vault of heaven, 

Thou madest fast the earth's extremest mountain, (vii. 99. 2.) 

Three steps he made, the herdsman sure, 

Vishnu, and stepped across (the world). (I. 22. 18.) 

The mighty deeds will I proclaim of Vishnu, 
Who measured out the earth's extremest spaces, 
And fastened firm the highest habitation. 
Thrice stepping out with step all-powerful. 

O would that I might reach his path beloved. 

Where joy the men who hold the gods in honor. (I. 154. i, 5.) 

Under all these names and images the sun is worshipped. 
And it is necessary to review them all to see how deeply the 
worship is ingrained. The sun is one of the most venerable 
as he is the most enduring of India's nature-gods.-^ In no 
early passage is the sun a malignant god. He comes " as kine 
to the village, as a hero to his steed, as a calf to the cow, as a 
husband to his wife."" He is the 'giver,' the 'generous one,' 
and as such he is Mitra, 'the friend,' who with Varuna, the 
encompassing heaven, is, indeed, in the Rig Veda, a personality 
subordinated to his greater comrade ; yet is this, perhaps, the 
sun's oldest name of those that are not descriptive of purely 
physical characteristics. For Mithra in Persian keeps the 

1 Thus, for example, Vishnu in the Hindu trinity, the separate worship of the 
sun in modern sects, and in the cult of the hill-men. 

2 X. 149. 


proof that this title was given to the Indo-Iranic god before 
the separation of the two peoples. It is therefore (perhaps 
with Bhaga ?) one of the most ancient personal designations of 
the sun, — one, perhaps, developed from a mere name into 
a separate deity. 


Not only as identical with the chief god of the Greeks, but 
also from a native Indie point of view, it might have been 
expected that Dyaus (Zeus), the 'shining sky,' would play an 
important role in the Hindu pantheon. But such is not the 
case. There is not a single hymn addressed independently to 
Dyaus, nor is there any hint of especial preeminence of Dyaus 
in the half-dozen hymns that are sung to Heaven and Earth 
together. The word dyaus is used hundreds of times, but gen- 
erally in the meaning sky (without personification). There is, 
to be sure, a formal acknowledgment of the fatherhood of 
Dyaus (among gods he is father particularly of Dawn, the 
Agvins, and Indra), as there is of the motherhood of Earth, 
but there is no further exaltation. No exaggeration — the 
sign of Hindu enthusiasm — is displayed in the laudation, and 
the epithet 'father' is given to half a dozen Vedic gods, as in 
Rome ]Ma(r)spiter stands beside Jup(p)iter. Certain functions 
are ascribed to Heaven and Earth, but they are of secondary 
origin. Thus they bring to the gods the sacrifice/ as does 
Agni, and one whole hymn may thus be epitomized : ' By the 
ordinance of Varuna made firm, O Heaven and Earth, give us 
blessings. Blest with children and wealth is he that adores 
you twain. Give us sweet food, glory and strength of heroes, 
ye who are our father and mother.' " 

The praise is vague and the benevolence is the usual 
' bestowal of blessings ' expected of all the gods in return for 

1 II. 41. 20. 2 vi. 70. 


praise. Other hymns add to this something, from which one 
sees that these deities are not regarded as self-created; for the 
seers of old, or, according to one poet, some wonderful divine 
artisan, " most wondrous worker of the wonder-working gods," 
created them. Their chief office is to exercise benign pro- 
tection and bestow wealth. Once they are invited to come to 
the sacrifice "with the gods," but this, of course, is not meant 
to exclude them from the list of gods.^ 

The antithesis of male and female, to Bergaigne's insistence 
on which reference was made above (p. 43), even here in this 
most obvious of forms, common to so many religions, shows 
itself so faintly that it fails utterly to support that basis of 
sexual dualism on which the French scholar lays so much 
stress. Dyaus does, indeed, occasionally take the place of 
Indra, and as a bellowing bull impregnate earth, but this is 
wholly incidental and not found at all in the hymns directly 
lauding Heaven and Earth. Moreover, instead of "father and 
mother" Heaven and Earth often are spoken of as "the two 
mothers," the significance of which cannot be nullified by the 
explanation that to the Hindu 'two mothers' meant two parents, 
and of two parents one must be male, — Bergaigne's explana- 
tion. For not only is Dyaus one of the 'two mothers,' but 
when independently used the word Dyaus is male or female 
indifferently. Thus in X. 93. i : " O Heaven and Earth be 
wide outstretched for us, (be) like two young women." The 
position of Heaven and Earth in relation to other divinities 
varies with the fancy of the poet that extols them. They are 
either created, or they create gods, as well as create men. In 
accordance with the physical reach of these deities they are 
exhorted to give strength whereby the worshipper shall " over- 
reach all peoples "; and, as parents, to be the " nearest of the 
gods," to be "like father and mother in kindness." (I. 159 ; 
160. 2, 5.) 

1 I. 160.4; iv. 56- 1-3; vii. 53. 2. 


One more attribute remains to be noticed, which connects 
Dyaus morally as well as physically with Savitar and Varuna. 
The verse in which this attribute is spoken of is also not with- 
out interest from a sociological point of view : " Whatsoever 
sin we have committed against the gods, or against a friend, 
or against the chief of the clan (family) ^ may this hymn to 
Heaven and Earth avert it." It was shown above that Savi- 
tar removes sin. Here, as in later times, it is the hymn that 
does this. The mystery of these gods' origin puzzles the seer : 
" Which was first and which came later, how were they begot- 
ten, who knows, O ye wise seers ? Whatever exists, that they 
carry." ^ But all that they do they do under the command of 

The most significant fact in connection with the hymns to 
Heaven and Earth is that most of them are expressly for 
sacrificial intent. " With sacrifices I praise Heaven and 
Earth" (I. 159. i); "For the sake of the sacrifice are ye come 
down (to us)" (iv. 56. 7). In vi. 70 they are addressed in 
sacrificial metaphors; in vii. 53. i the poet says: ''I invoke 
Heaven and Earth with sacrifices," etc. The passivity of the 
two gods makes them yield in importance to their son, the 
active Savitar, who goes between the two parents. None of 
these hymns bears the impress of active religious feeling or has 
poetic value. They all seem to be reflective, studied, more or 
less mechanical, and to belong to a period of theological 
philosophy. To Earth alone without Heaven are addressed one 
uninspired h3nTin and a fragment of the same character : " O 
Earth be kindly to us, full of dwellings and painless, and give 
us protection."* In the burial service the dead are exhorted 
to ''go into kindly mother earth" who will be "wool-soft, like 
a maiden." ^ The one hymn to Earth should perhaps be placed 

1 I. 1S5. 8 {Jdspati). The expiatory power of the hymn occurs again in I. 159. 

2 I. 1S5. I. 3 iv. 56. 7. 4 I. 22. 15. 
5 X. iS. 10 (or: "like a wool-soft maiden"). 

V A RUN A. 61 

parallel with similar meditative and perfunctory laudations in 
the Homeric hymns : 

To Earth (v. S4). 

In truth, O broad extended earthy 
Thou bear'st the render of the hills, ^ 
Thou who, O mighty mourrtainous one, 
Quickenest created things with might. 
Thee praise, O thou that wander'st far, 
The hymns which light accompany, 
Thee who, O shining one, dost send 
Like eager steeds the gushing rain. 
Thou mighty art, who holdest up 
With strength on earth the forest trees. 
When rain the rains that from thy clouds 
And Dyaus' far-gleaming lightning come.^ 

On the bearing of these facts, especially in regard to the 
secondary greatness of Dyaus, we shall touch below. He is 
a god exalted more by modern writers than by the Hindus ! 


Varuna has been referred to already in connection with the 
sun-god and with Heaven and Earth. It is by Varuna's power 
that they stand firm. He has established the sun ' like a tree,' 
?>., like a support, and Mnade a path for it.' ^ He has a thou- 
sand remedies for ills ; to his realm not even the birds can 
ascend, nor wind or swift waters attain. It is in accordance 
with the changeless order ^ of Varuna that the stars and the 
moon go their regular course ; he gives long life and releases 
from harm, from WTong, and from sin."* 

1 The lightning. In I. 31. 4, 10 "(Father) Fire makes Dyaus bellow" like "a 
bull " (v. 36. 5). Dyaus " roars '' in vi. 72. 3. Nowhere else is he a thunderer. 
- I. 24. 7-S. The change in metaphor is not unusual. 

3 This word means either order or orders (law) ; literally the ' way ' or ' course.' 

4 I. 24 (epitomized). 


Varuna is the most exalted of those gods whose origin is 
physical. His realm is all above us ; the sun and stars are his 
eyes ; he sits above upon his golden throne and sees all that 
passes below, even the thoughts of men. He is, above all, the 
moral controller of the universe. 

To Varuna (i. 25). 

Howe'er we, who thy people are, 
O Varuna, thou shining god, 
Thy order injure, day by day. 
Yet give us over nor to death. 
Nor to the blow of angry (foe), 
Nor to the wrath of (foe) incensed.^ 
Thy mind for mercy we release — 
As charioteer, a fast-bound steed — 
By means of song, O Varuna. 

('T is Varuna) who knows the track 
Of birds that fly within the air. 
And knows the ships upon the flood; ^ 
Knows, too, the (god) of order firm. 
The twelve months with their progeny, 
And e'en which month is later born ; ^ 
Knows, too, the pathway of the wind. 
The wide, the high, the mighty (wind). 
And knows who sit above (the wind). 

(God) of firm order, Varuna 
His place hath ta'en within (his) home 
For lordship, he, the very strong.* 
Thence all the things that are concealed 
He looks upon, considering 
Whate'er is done and to be done. 
May he, the Son of Boundlessness, 
The very strong, through every day 
Make good our paths, prolong our life. 

1 Perhaps better with Ludwig " of (thee) in anger, of (thee) incensed." 

2 Or: " Being (himself) in the (heavenly) flood he knows the ships." (Ludwig.) 

3 An intercalated month is meant (not the primitive ' twelve days '). 

4 Or 'very wise,' of mental strength. 

VAJ^UiVA. 63 

Bearing a garment all of gold, 
In jewels clothed, is Varuna, 
And round about him sit his spies ; 
A god whom injurers injure not, 
Nor cheaters cheat among the folk, 
Nor any plotters plot against ; 
Who for himself 'mid (other) men 
Glory unequalled gained, and gains 
(Such glory) also 'mid ourselves. 

Far go my thoughts (to him), as go 
The eager cows that meadows seek. 
Desiring (him), the wide-eyed (god). 
Together let us talk again. 
Since now th'e offering sweet I bring. 
By thee beloved, and like a priest 
Thou eat'st. 

I see the wide-eyed (god)! 
I see his chariot on the earth, 
My song with joy hath he received. 

Hear this my call, O Varuna, 

Be merciful to me today, 

For thee, desiring help, I yearn. 

Thou, wise one, art of everything. 
The sky and earth alike, the king ; 
As such upon thy way give ear, 
And loose from us the (threefold) bond ; 
The upper bond, the middle, break. 
The lower, too, that we may live. 

In the portrait of such a god as this one comes very near to 
monotheism. The conception of an ahnost soHtary deity, 
recognized as watcher of wrong, guardian of right, and primi- 
tive creator, approaches more closely to unitarianism than does 
the idea of any physical power in the Rig Veda. 

To the poet of the Rig Veda Varuna is the enveloping 
heaven ; ^ that is, in distinction from Dyaus, from whom he 

1 viii. 41. 7 ; vii. 82. 6 (Bergaigne) ; X. 132, 4. 


differs ioto cae/o, so to speak, the invisible world, which em- 
braces the visible sky. His home is there where lives the 
Unborn, whose place is unique, above the highest heaven,^ 

But it is exactly this loftiness of character that should make 
one shy of interpreting Varuna as being originally the god 
that is presented here. Can this god, 'most august of Vedic 
deities,' as Bergaigne and others have called him, have be- 
lons^ed as such to the earliest stratum of Arvan belief ? 

There are some twelve hymns in the Rig Veda in Varuna's 
honor. ♦Of these, one in the tenth book celebrates Indra as 
opposed to Varuna, and generally it is considered late, in 
virtue of its content. Of the hvmns in the eisrhth book the 
second appears to be a later imitation of the first, and the first 
appears, from several indications, to be of comparatively recent 
origin.^ In the seventh book (vii. 86-89) ^^^^ short final hymn 
contains a distinctly late trait in invoking Varuna to cure 
dropsy ; the one preceding this is />/ majorem gloriajn of the 
poet Vasistha, fitly following the one that appears to be as 
new, where not only the mysticism but the juggling with 
" thrice-seven," shows the character of the hymn to be 
recent.^ In the first hymn of this book the late doctrine of 
inherited sin stands prominently forth (vii. 86. 5) as an indi- 
cation of the time in which it was composed. The fourth 
and sixth books have no separate hymns to Varuna. In the 
fifth book the position of the one hymn to Varuna is one 
favorable to spurious additions, but the hymn is not otherwise 
obnoxious to the criticism of lateness. Of the two hymns in 
the second book, the first is addressed only indirectly to 
Varuna, nor is he here very prominent ; the second (ii. 28) is 
the only song which stands on a par with the hymn already 

1 Compare Bergaigne, La Religion Vediqiie, iii. pp. 116-118. 

2 The insistence on the holy seven, the ' secret names " of dawn, the confusion of 
Varuna with Trita. Compare, also, the refrain, viii. 39-42. For X. 124, see below. 

'^ Compare Hillebrandt's Varuna and Mitra. p. 5 ; and see our essay on the Holy 
Numbers of the Rig \'eda (in the Oriental Studies). 

VARUiVA. 65 

translated. There remain the hymns cited above from the 
first, not a family-book. It is, moreover, noteworthy that in 
ii. 28, apart from the ascription of general greatness, almost 
all that is said of Varuna is that he is a priest, that he causes 
rivers to flow, and loosens the bond of sin.-^ The finest hymn 
to Varuna, from a literary point of view, is the one translated 
above, and it is mainly on the basis of this hymn that the lofty 
character of Varuna has been interpreted by occidental writers. 
To our mind this hymn belongs to the close of the first 
epoch of the three which the hymns represent. That it can- 
not be very early is evident from the mention of the inter- 
calated month, not to speak of the image of Varuna eating 
the sweet oblation ' like a priest.' Its elevated language is in 
sharp contrast to that of almost all the other Varuna hymns. 
As these are all the hymns where Varuna is praised alone by 
himself, it becomes of chief importance to study him here, and 
not where, as in iii. 62, iv. 41, vi. 51, 67, 68, and elsewhere, he 
is lauded as part of a combination of gods (Mitra or Indra 
united with Varuna). In the last book of the Rig Veda there 
is no hymn to Varum," a time when pantheistic monotheism 
was changing into pantheism, so that, in the last stage of the 
Rig Veda, Varuna is descended from the height. Thereafter 
he is god and husband of waters, and punisher of secret sin 
(as in ii. 28). Important in contrast to the hymn translated 
above is v. 85. . ^ 

To Varuna. 

" I will sing forth unto the universal king a high deep 
prayer, dear to renowned Varuna, who, as a butcher a hide, 
has struck earth apart (from the sky) for the sun. Varuna has 

1 Varuna's forgiving of sins may be explained as a washing out of sin, just as fire 
burns it out, and so loosens therewith the imagined bond, V. 2. 7. Thus, quite apart 
from Varuna in a hymn addressed to the ' Waters,' is found the prayer, " O waters, 
carry off whatever sin is in me . . . and untruth," I. 23. 22. 

- But as in iv. 42, so in x. 124 he shares glory with Indra. 


extended air in trees, strength in horses, milk in cows, and has 
laid wisdom in hearts ; lire in water ; the sun in the sky ; soma 
in the stone. Varuna has inverted his- water-barrel and let the 
two worlds with the space between, flow (with rain). With this 
(heavenly water-barrel) he, the king of every created thing, 
wets the whole world, as a rain does a meadow. He wets the 
world, both earth and heaven, when he, Varuna, chooses to 
milk out (rain) — and then do the mountains clothe themselves 
with cloud, and even the strongest men grow weak. Yet 
another great and marvellous power of the renowned spirit 
(Asura) will I proclaim, this, that standing in mid-air he has 
measured earth with the sun, as if with a measuring rod. (It 
is due to) the marvellous power of the wisest god, which none 
ever resisted, that into the one confluence run the rivers, and 
pour into it, and fill it not. O Varuna, loosen whatever sin we 
have committed to bosom-friend, comrade, or brother ; to our 
own house, or to the stranger ; what (we) have sinned like 
gamblers at play, real (sin), or what we have not known. 
Make loose, as it were, all these things, O god Varuna, and 
may we be dear to thee hereafter." 

In this hymn Varuna is a water-god, who stands in mid-air 
and directs the rain ; who, after the rain, reinstates the sun ; 
who releases from sin (as water does from dirt ?). According 
to this conception it would seem that Varuna were the 
'coverer' rather than the ' encompasser.' It might seem 
probable even that Varuna first stood to Dyaus as cloud and 
rain and night to shining day, and that his counterpart, 
Oupavos, stood in the same relation to Zei;? ; that Oupavos were 
connected with oupew and Varuna wdth varl, river, vdri, water.^ 

1 Later, Varuna's water-office is his only physical side. Compare Ait. Ar. ii. i. 7. 7, 
' water and Varuna, children of mind.' Compare with vdri, ovpd = vara, and var'i, 
an old word for rivers, vars^ (= far + j-), 'rain.' The etymology is very doubtful 
on account of the number of -'^T-roots. Perhaps dew (^ip<xa) and rain first as 
' coverer.' Even var = vas ' shine,' has been suggested (ZDMG. xxii. 603). 


It is possible, but it is not provable. But no interpretation of 
Varuna that ignores his rainy side can be correct. And this is 
fully recognized by Hillebrandt. On account of his " thousand 
spies," i.e., eyes, he has been looked upon by some as exclu- 
sively a night-god. But this is too one-sided an interpretation, 
and passes over the all-important fact that it is only in con- 
junction with the sun (Mitra), where there is a strong antithesis, 
that the night-side of the god is exclusively displayed. Wholly 
a day-god he cannot be, because he rules night and rain. He 
is par excellence the Asura, and, like Ahura jMazdao, has the 
sun for an eye, i.e.., he is heaven. But there is no Varuna in 
Iranian worship and Ahura is a sectarian specialization. With- 
out this name may one ascribe to India what is found in Iran?-^ 
It has been suggested by Bergaigne that Varuna and Vritra, 
the rain-holding demon, were developments from the same idea, 
one revered as a god, the other, a demon ; and that the word 
means ' restrainer,' rather than ' encompasser.' 

From all this it will be evident that to claim an original 
monotheism as still surviving in the person of Varuna, is im- 
possible ; and this is the one point we would make. Every one 
must admire the fine hymn in which he is praised, but what 
there is in it does not make it seem verv old, and the inter- 
calated month is decisive evidence, for here alone in the Rig 
Veda is mentioned this month, which implies the five-year 
cyclus, but this belongs to the Brahmanic period (Weber, 
Vedische Beitrdge, p. 38). Every explanation of the original 
nature of Varuna must take into consideration that he is a 
rain-god, a day-god, and a night-god in turn, and that where he 
is praised in the most elevated language the rain-side disap- 
pears, although it was fundamental, as may be seen by compar- 
ing many passages, where Varuna is exhorted to give rain, 
where his title is ' lord of streams,' his position that of ' lord 

1 The old comparison of Varcna cathrttgaosha turns out to be " the town of 
Varna with four gates " ! 


of waters,' The decrease of Varuna worship in favor of Indra 
results partly from the more peaceful god of rain appearing" less 
admirable than the monsoon-god, who overpowers with storm 
and lightning, as well as ' wets the earth.' 

The most valuable contribution to the studv of Varuna is 
Hillebrandt's 'Varuna and iNIitra.' This author has succeeded 
in completely overthrowing the old error that Varuna is exclu- 
sively a night-god/ Quite as definitively he proves that A'aruna 
is not exclusively a day-god. 

Bergaigne, on the other hand, claims an especially tenebrous 
character for Varuna.- iNIuch has been written on luminous 
deities bv scholars that fail to reco2:nize the fact that the 
Hindus regard the night both as light and as dark. But to 
the Vedic poet the night, star-illumined, was bright. Even 
Hillebrandt speaks of "the bright heaven " of day as "opposed 
to the dark night-heaven in which Varuna also shows himself."^ 

In the Rig Veda, as it stands, with all the different views of 
Varuna side by side, Varuna is a universal encompasser, moral 
as well as physical. As such his physical side is almost gone. 
But the conception of him as a moral watcher and sole lord of 
the universe is in so sharp contrast to the figure of the rain- 
god, who, like Parjanya, stands in mid-air and upsets a water- 
barrel, that one must discriminate even between the Vedic 
views in regard to him.'* 

It is Varuna who lets rivers flow ; with Indra he is besought 
not to let his weapons fall on the sinner ; wind is his breath.^ 

1 In India: What Can it Teach ns, pp. 197, 200, Muller tacitly recognizes in 
the physical Varuna only the ' starry ' night-side. 

2 Loc. cit. Ill, 119, Bergaigne admits Varuna as god of waters, but sees in him 
identity with Vritra a ' restrainer of waters.' He thinks the ' luminous side ' of 
Varuna to be antique also (III. 117-119), Varuna's cord, according to Bergaigne, 
comes from 'tying up' the waters; 'night's fetters,' according to Hillebrandt. 

3 Loc. cit. p. 13. 

4 One of the chief objections to Bergaigne's conception of Varuna as water- 
restrainer is that it does not explain the antique union with IMitra. 

5 II. 28. 4, 7 ; vii. 82. 1, 2 ; 87. 2. 

V A RUN A. 69 

On the other hand he is practically identified with the sun.^ 
How ill this last agrees with the image of a god who ' lives by 
the spring of rivers,' ' covers earth as with a garment,' and 'rises 
like a secret sea (in fog) to heaven ' ! - Even when invoked 
with the sun, Mitra, Varuna still gives rain : " To whomsoever 
ye two are kindly disposed comes sweet rain from heaven ; we 
beseech you for rain . . . you, the thunderers who go through 
earth and heaven " (v. 63), — a strange prayer to be addressed 
to a monotheistic god of light ! " Ye make the lightning flash, 
ye send the rain ; ye hide the sky in cloud and rain " {ib^. In 
the hymn preceding we read : " Ye make firm heaven and 
earth, ye give growth to plants, milk to cows ; O ye that give 
rain, pour down rain ! " In the same group another short 
hymn declares: "They are universal kings, who have ghee 
(rain) in their laps ; they are lords of the rain " (v. 68). In 
the next hymn : " Your clouds (cows) give nourishment, your 
streams are sweet." Thus the twain keep the order of the 
seasons (i. 2. 7-8) and protect men by the regular return of 
the rainy season. Their weapons are always lightning (above, 
i. 152. 2, and elsewhere). A short invocation in a family-book 
gives this prayer: "O ]\Iitra -Varuna, wet our meadows with 
ghee; wet all places with the sweet drink" (iii. 62. 16). 

The interpretation given above of the office of Varuna as 
regards the sun's path, is supported by a verse where is made 
an allusion to the time "when they release the sun's horses," 
i.e.^ when after two or three months of rain the sun shines 
again (v. 62. i). In another verse one reads: "Ye direct 
the waters, sustenance of earth and heaven, richly let come 
your rains " (viii. 25. 6). 

Now there is nothing startling in this view. In opposition 
to the unsatisfactory attempts of modern scholars, it is the 

1 vii. Sj. 6 ; 88. 2. 

2 viii. 41. 2, 7, S. So Varuna gives soma, rain. As a rain-god he surpasses 
Dyaus, who, ultimately, is also a rain-god (above), as in Greece. 


traditional interpretation of Mitra and Varuna that Mitra is 
the god of day (/>., the sun), and Varuna the god of night {i.e., 
covering),^ while native belief regularly attributes to him the 
lordship of water.^ The ' thousand eyes ' of A'^aruna are the 
result of this view. The other light-side of Varuna as special 
lord of day (excluding the all-heaven idea with the sun as his 
' eye ') is elsewhere scarcely referred to, save in late hymns 
and viii. 41.^ In conjunction wdth the storm-god, Indra, the 
wrath-side of Varuna is further developed. The prayer for 
release is from ' long darkness,' i.e., from death ; in other 
words, may the light of life be restored (ii. 27. 14-15 ; ii. 
28. 7). Grassmann, who believes that in Varuna there is an 
early monotheistic deity, enumerates all his offices and omits 
the giving of rain from the list ; ^ while Ludwig derives his 
name from var (=velle) and defines him as the lofty god who 
wills ! 

Varuna's highest development ushers in the middle period 
of the Rig Veda ; before the rise of the later All-father, and 
even before the great elevation of Indra. But when Surya and 
Dawn were chief, then Varuna was chiefest. There is no 
monotheism in the worship of a god who is regularly asso- 
ciated as one of a pair with another god. Nor is there in 
Varuna any religious grandeur which, so far as it exceeds that 
of other divinities, is not evolved from his old physical side. 
One cannot personify heaven and write a descriptive poem 
about him without becoming elevated in style, as compared 
with the tone of one that praises a rain-cloud or even the more 
confined personality of the sun. There is a stylistic but not a 
metaphysical descent from this earlier period in the ' lords of 
the atmosphere,' for, as we shall show, the elevation of Indra 

1 Compare Cat. Br. v. 2. 5. 17, " whatever is dark is Varuna's." 

2 In ii. 38. 8 varuna means 'fish,' and 'water' in i. 1S4. 3. 

3 V. 62. I, 8 ; 64. 7 ; 64. 5 ; 65. 2 ; 67. 2 ; 69. i ; vi. 51. i ; 67. 5. In viii. 47. 11 
the Adityas are themselves spies. 

4 Introduction to Grassmann, ii. 27 ; iv. 42. Lex. s. v. 


and Agni denotes a philosophical conception yet more advanced 
than the almost monotheistic greatness attained by Varuna. 
But one must find the background to this earlier period ; and 
in it Varuna is not monotheistic. He is the covering sky 
united with the sun, or he whose covering is rain and dew. 
Indra treats Varuna as Savitar treats Mitra, supplants him ; 
and for the same reason, because each represents the same 
priestly philosophy. 

In the one extant hymn to Mitra (who is Indo-Iranian) it is 
Mitra that 'watches men,' and 'bears earth and heaven.' He 
is here (iii. 59) the kindly sun, his name (Mitra, 'friend') 
being frequently punned upon. 

The point of view taken by Barth deserves comment. He 
says •} "It has sometimes been maintained that the Varuna of 
the hymns is a god in a state of decadence. In this view we 
can by no means concur ; ... an appeal to these few hymns 
is enough to prove that in the consciousness of their authors 
the divinity of Varuna stood still intact." If, instead of ' still 
intact,' the author had said, ''on the increase, till undermined 
by still later philosophical speculation,' the true position, in 
our opinion, would have been given. But a distinction must 
be made between decadence of greatness and decadence of 
popularity. It has happened in the case of some of the Vedic 
inherited gods that exactly in proportion as their popularity 
decreased their greatness increased ; that is to say, as they 
became more vague and less individual to the folk they were 
expanded into wider circles of relationship by the theosophist, 
and absorbed other gods' majesty. Varuna is no longer a 
popular god in the Rig Veda. He is already a god of specu- 
lation, only the speculation did not go far enough to suit the 
later seers of Indra-Savitar-hood. Most certainly his worship, 
when compared in popularity with that of Agni and Indra, is 
unequal. But this is because he is too remote to be popular. 

1 Religions of htdia, p. 1 7. 


What made tlie popular gods was a union of near physical 
force to please the vulgar, with philosophical mysticism to 
please the priest, and Indra and Agni fulfilled the conditions, 
while awful, but distant, Varuna did not. 

In stating that the great hymn to Varuna is not typical of 
the earliest stage of religious belief among the Vedic Aryans, 
we should add one word in explanation. Varuna's traits, as 
shown in other parts of the Rig Veda^ are so persistent that 
they must be characteristic of his original function. It does 
not follow, however, that any one hymn in which he is lauded 
is necessarily older than the hymn cited from the first book. 
The earliest stage of religious development precedes the 
entrance into the Punjab. It may even be admitted that at 
the time when the Vedic Aryans became Hindus, that is, when 
they settled about the Indus, Varuna was the great god we see 
him in the great hymn to his honor. But while the relation 
of the Adityas to the spirits of Ahura in Zoroaster's system 
points to this, yet it is absurd to assume this epoch as the start- 
ing point of Vedic belief. Back of this period lies one in 
which Varuna was by no means a monotheistic deity, nor even 
the greatest divinity among the gods. The fact, noticed by 
Hillebrandt, that the Vasishtha family are the chief praisers of 
Varuna, may also indicate that his special elevation was due 
to the theological conceptions of one clan, rather than of the 
whole people, since in the other family books he is worshipped 
more as one of a pair, Varuna and Mitra, heaven and sun. 


The mother of Varuna and the luminous gods is the 'mother 
of kings,' Boundlessness (aditi)^ a product of priestly theoso- 
phy. Aditi makes, perhaps, the first approach to formal pan- 

1 The Rik kno^YS, also, a Diti, but merely as antithesis to Aditi — the 'confined 
and unconfined.' Aditi is prayed to (for protection and to remove sin) in sporadic 
verses of several hymns addressed to other gods, but she has no hymn. 

DA WN. 73 

theism in India, for all gods, men, and things are identified 
with her (i. 89. 10). Seven children of Aditi are mentioned, 
to whom is added an eighth (in one hymn).' The chief of 
these, who \s par excellence the Aditya (son of Aditi), is Varuna. 
Most of the others are divinities of the sun (x. 72). With 
Varuna stands Mitra, and besides this pair are found ' the 
true friend ' Aryaman, Savitar, Bhaga, and, later, Indra, as 
sun (?). Daksha and An^a are also reckoned as Adityas, and 
Siirya is enumerated among them as a divinity distinct from 
Savitar. But the word ^7 c////, 'unbound,' is often a mere epithet, 
of Fire, Sky, etc. Moreover, in one passage, at least, adi/i 
simply means 'freedom' (i. 24. i), less boundlessness than 
'un-bondage' ; so, probably, in i. 185. 3, 'the gift of freedom.' 
Anga seems to have much the same meaning with Bhaga, zv's., 
the sharer, giver. Daksha may, perhaps, be the ' clever,' 
' strong ' one (Se^'to?), abstract Strength ; as another name of 
the sun Q). Aditi herself (according to Miiller, Infinity; accord- 
ing to Hillebrandt, Eternity) is an abstraction that is born later 
than her chief sons. Sun and Varuna." Zarathustra (Zoroaster, 
not earlier than the close of the first Vedic period) took the 
seven Adityas and reformed them into one monotheistic (dual- 
istic) Spirit (Ahura), with a circle of six moral attendants, 
thereby dynamically destroying every physical conception of 


We have devoted considerable space to Varuna because of 
the theological importance with wdiich is invested his personal- 
ity. If one admit that a monotheistic Varuna is the 7/r-Varuna, 
if one see in him a sign that the Hindus originally worshipped 
one universally great superior god, whose image effaced that 

1 Miiller (loc. cit, below) thinks that the ' sons of Aditi ' were first eight and were 
then reduced to seven, in which opinion as in his whole interpretation of Aditi as a 
primitive dawn-infinity we regret that we cannot agree with him. 

2 See Hillebrandt, Die Gbiiin Aditi ; and IVIuller, SBE., xxxii., p. 241, 252. 


of all the others/ then the attempt to trace any orderly devel- 
opment in Hindu theology may as well be renounced ; and one 
must imagine that this peculiar people, starting with monothe- 
ism descended to polytheism, and then leapt again into the 
conception of that Father-god whose form, in the end of the 
Rig Vedic period, out-varunas Yaruna as encompasser and lord 
of all. If, on the other hand, one see in Yaruna a god who, 
from the ' covering,' heaven and cloud and rain, from earliest 
time has been associated with the sun as a pair, and recognize 
in Varuna's loftier form the product of that gradual elevation 
to which were liable all the gods at the hands of the Hindu 
priests ; if one see in him at this stage the highest god which 
a theology, based on the worship of natural phenomena, was 
able to evolve ; then, for the reception of those gods who over- 
threw him from his supremacy, because of their greater free- 
dom from physical restraints, there is opened a logical and 
historical path — until that god comes who in turn follows 
these half-embodied ones, and stands as the first immaterial 
author of the universe — and so one may walk straight from 
the physical beginning of the Rig Yedic religion to its spiritual 
Brahmanic end. 

We turn now to one or two phenomena-deities that were 
never much tampered with by priestly speculation ; their forms 
being still as bright and clear as when the first A'edic wor- 
shipper, waiting to salute the rising sun, beheld in all her 
beauty, and thus praised 

The Dawn.2 

As comes a bride hath she approached us, gleaming ; 
All things that live she rouses now to action. 
A fire is born that shines for human beings ; 
Light liath slie made, and driven away the darkness. 

1 That is to say, if one believe that the ' primitive Aryans ' were innoculated with 
Zoroaster's teaching. This is the sort of Yaruna that Roth believes to have existed 
among the aboriginal Aryan tribes (above, p. 13. note 2). - vii. 77. 


Wide-reaching hath she risen, to all approaching, 

And shone forth clothed in garments white and glistening, 

Of gold her color, fair to see her look is. 

Mother of kine,i leader of days she gleameth. 

Bearing the gods' eye, she, the gracious maiden, 

— Leading along the white and sightly charger- — 
Aurora, now is seen, revealed in glory. 

With shining guerdons unto all appearing. 

O near and dear one, light far off our foes, and 
Make safe to us our kines' \nde pasture-places. 
Keep from us hatred ; what is good, that bring us, 
And send the singer wealth, O generous maiden. 

With thy best beams for us do thou beam widely, 
Aurora, goddess bright, our life extending; 
And food bestow, O thou all goods possessing. 
Wealth, too, bestowing, kine and steeds and war-cars 

Thou whom Vasistha's ^ sons extol with praises, 
Fair-born Aurora, daughter of Dyaus, the bright one, 
On us bestow thou riches high and mighty, 

— O all ye gods with weal forever guard us. 

In the laudation of Varuna the fancy of the poet exhausts 
itself in lofty imagery, and reaches the topmost height of Vedic 
religious lyric. In the praise of Dawn it descends not lower 
than to interweave beauty with dignity of utterance. Nothing 
in religious poetry more graceful or delicate than the Vedic 
Dawn-hymns has ever been written. In the daily vision of 
Dawn following her sister Night the poet sees his fairest god- 
dess, and in his worship of her there is love and admiration, 
such as is evoked by the sight of no other deity. " She comes 
like a fair young maiden, awakening all to labor, with an hun- 
dred chariots comes she, and brings the shining light ; gleam 
forth, O Dawn, and give us thy blessing this day ; for in thee 
is the life of every living creature. Even as thou hast rewarded 
the singers of old, so now reward our song" (i. 48). 

1 Clouds. 2 The sun. 

3 The priest to whom, and to whose family, is ascribed the seventh book. 


The kine of Dawn are the bright clouds that, like red cattle, 
wander in droves upon the horizon. Sometimes the rays of 
light, which stretch across the heaven, are intended by this 
image, for the cattle-herding poets employed their flocks as 
figures for various ends. 

The inevitable selfish pessimism of unripe reflection is also 
woven into the later Dawn-hymns : " How long will it be ere 
this Dawn, too, shall join the Dawns departed ? Vanished are 
now the men that saw the Dawns of old ; w^e here see her now ; 
there will follow others who will see her hereafter ; but, O 
Dawn, beam here thy fairest ; rich in blessings, true art thou 
to friend and right. Bring hither (to the morning sacrifice) 
the gods " (i. 113). 

Since the metre (here ignored) of the following hymn is not 
all of one model, it is probable that after the fourth verse a 
new hymn began, which was distinct from the first ; but the 
argument from metre is unconvincing, and in any event both 
songs are worth citing, since they show how varied were the 
images and fancies of the poets : " The Dawns are like heroes 
with golden weapons ; like red kine of the morning on the field 
of heaven ; shining they weave their webs of light, like women 
active at work ; food they bring to the pious w^orshipper. Like 
a dancing girl is the Dawn adorned, and opens freely her 
bosom ; as a cow gives milk, as a cow comes forth from its 
stall, so opens she her breast, so comes she out of the darkness 
(verses 1-4) . . . She is the ever new, born again and again, 
adorned always with the same color. As a player conceals the 
dice, so keeps she concealed the days of a man ; daughter of 
Heaven she wakes and drives away her sister (Night). Like 
kine, like the waves of a flood, with sunbeams she appears. 
O rich Dawn, bring us wealth ; harness thy red horses, and 
bring to us success " (i. 92). The homage to Dawn is natur- 
ally divided at times with that to the sun : " Fair shines the 
light of morning ; the sun awakens us to toil ; along the path 

DA WN. 77 

of order goes Dawn arrayed in light. She extendeth herself in 
the east, and gleameth till she fills the sky and earth " ; and 
again : " Dawn is the great work of Varuna and Mitra ; 
through the sun is she awakened" (i. 124; iii. 61. 6-7). In 
the ritualistic period Dawn is still mechanically lauded, and her 
beams "rise in the east like pillars of sacrifice" (iv. 51. 2); 
but otherwise the imagery of the selections given above is that 
which is usually employed. The ' three dawns ' occasionally 
referred to are, as we have shown elsewhere,-' the three dawn- 
lights, white, red, and yellow, as they are seen by both the 
Vedic poet and the Florentine. 

Dawn becomes common and trite after awhile, as do all the 
gods, and is invoked more to give than to please. ' Wake us,' 
cries a later poet, ' Wake us to wealth, O Dawn ; give to us, 
give to us ; wake up, lest the sun burn thee with his light ' — 
a passage (v. 79) which has caused much learned nonsense 
to be written on the inimical relations of Sun and Dawn as 
portrayed here. The dull idea is that Dawn is lazy, and had 
better get up before Surya catches her asleep. The poet is 
not in the least worried because his image does not express a 
suitable relationship between the dawn and the sun, nor need 
others be disturbed at it. The hymn is late, and only import- 
ant in showing the new carelessness as regards the old gods.^ 
Some other traits appear in vii. 75. i ff., where Dawn is 'queen 
of the world,' and banishes the d?'u/is, or evil spirit. She here 
is daughter of Heaven, and wife of the sun (4, 5); ib. 76. i, 
she is the eye of the world; and ib. 81. 4, she is invoked as 
' mother.' 

There is, at times, so close a resemblance between Dawn- 
hymns and Sun-hymns that the imagery employed in one is 

1 JAOS., XV. 270. 

^ Much theosophy, and even history (!), has been read into ii. i;, and iv. 30, 
where poets speak of Indra slaying Dawn ; but there is nothing remarkable in these 
passages. Poetry is not creed. The monsoon (here Indra) does awav with dawns 
for a time, and that is what the poet says in his own way. 


used in the other. Thus the hymn vi. 64 begins : " The 
beams of Dawn have arisen, shining as shine the waters' 
gleaming waves. She makes good paths, . . . she banislies 
darkness as a warrior drives away a foe (so of the sun, iv. 
13. 2 ; X, 37. 4; 170. 2). Beautiful are thy paths upon the 
mountains, and across the waters thou shinest, self-gleaming " 
(also of the sun). With the last expression may be compared 
that in vi. 65. 5 : " Dawn, whose seat is upon the hills." 

Dawn is intimately connected not only with Agni but with 
the Twin Horsemen, the A^vins (equites) — if not so intimately 
connected as is Helen with the Dioskouroi, ^^\\o^ pace Pischel, 
are the A9vins of Hellas. This relationship is more empha- 
sized in the hymns to the latter gods, but occasionally occurs 
in Dawn-hymns, of which another is here translated in full. 

To Dawn (iv. 52). 

The Daughter of Heaven, this beauteous maid, 
Resplendent leaves her sister (Night), 
And now before (our sight) appears. 

Red glows she like a shining mare, 
Mother of kine, who timely comes- — 
, The Horsemen's friend Aurora is. 

Both friend art thou of the Horsemen twain, 
And mother art thou of the kine, 
And thou, Aurora, rulest wealth. 

We wake thee with our praise as one 
"Who foes removes ; such thought is ours, 
O thou that art possesst of joy. 

Thv radiant beams beneficent 
Like herds of cattle now appear ; 
Aurora fills the wide expanse. 

With light hast thou the dark removed, 
Filling (the world), O brilliant one. 
Aurora, help us as thou us'st. 

With rays thou stretchest through the heaven 
And through the fair wide space between, 
O Dawn, with thy refulgent light. 

DA WN. 79 

It was seen that Savitar (Pushan) is the rising and setting 
sun. So, antithetic to Dawn, stands the Abendroth with her 
sister, Night. This last, generally, as in the hymn just trans- 
lated, is lauded only in connection with Dawn, and for herself 
alone gets but one hymn, and that is not in a family-book. 
She is to be regarded, therefore, less as a goddess of the pan- 
theon than as a quasi-goddess, the result of a poet's meditative 
imagination, rather than one of the folk's primitive objects of 
adoration; somewhat as the English poets personify "Ye clouds, 
that far above me float and pause, ye ocean-waves ... ye 
woods, that listen to the might-bird's singing, O ye loud waves, 
and O ye forests high, and O ye clouds that far above me 
soared; thou rising sun, thou blue rejoicing sky!" — and 
as in Greek poetry, that which before has been conceived 
of vaguely as divine suddenly is invested with a divine person- 
ality. The later poet exalts these aspects of nature, and 
endows those that were before only half recognized with a 
little special praise. So, whereas Night was divine at first 
merely as the sister of divine Dawn, in the tenth book one 
poet thus gives her praise : 

Hymn to Night (x. 127). 

Night, shining goddess, comes, who now 
Looks out afar with many eyes. 
And putteth all her beauties on. 

Immortal shining goddess, she 

The depths and heights alike hath filled, 

And drives with light the dark away. 

To me she comes, adorned well, 

A darkness black now sightly made; 

Pay then thy debt, O Dawn, and go.^ 

1 Transferred by Roth from the penultimate position where it stands in the 
original. Dawn here pays Night for the latter's matutinal withdrawing by withdraw- 
ing herself. Strictly speaking, the Dawn is, of course, the sunset light conceived of 
as identical with that preceding the sunrise {iisas, -fj'M, 'east' as 'glow'). 


The bright one coming put aside 
Her sister Dawn (the sunset light), 
And lo ! the darkness hastes away. 

So (kind art thou) to us ; at whose 

Appearing we retire to rest, 

As birds fly homeward to the tree. 

To rest are come the throngs of men ; 
To rest, the beasts ; to rest, the birds ; 
And e'en the greedy eagles rest. 

Keep off the she-wolf and the wolf, 
Keep, off the thief, O billowy Night, 
Be thou to us a saviour now. 

To thee, O Night, as 'twere an herd, 

To a conqueror (brought), bring I an hymn 

Daughter of Heaven, accept (the gift).^ 


The Agvins who are, as was said above, the ' Horsemen,' 
parallel to the Greek Dioskouroi, are twins, sons of Dyaus, 
husbands, perhaps brothers of the Dawn. They have been 
variously 'interpreted,' yet in point of fact one knows no more 
now what was the original conception of the twain than was 
known before Occidental scholars began to study them.- Even 
the ancients made mere guesses : the A^vins came before the 
Dawn, and are so-called because they ride on horses (afz-a, 
equos)\ they represent either Heaven and Earth, or Day and 

1 Late as seems this hymn to be, it is interesting in revealing the fact that \Yolves 
(not tigers or panthers) are the poet's most dreaded foes of niglit. It must, therefore 
have been composed in the northlands, where woh-es are the herdsman's worst 

2 Myriantheus, Die A(yms ; Muir, OST. v, p. 234 ; Bergaigne, Religioji Vcdigue, 
ii. p. 431 ; Miiller, Lectures, 2d series, p. 508; Weber, I)id. St. v. p. 234. Sayana 
on i. 180. 2, interprets the ' sister of the Agvins" as Dawn. 


Night, or Sun and Moon, or two earthly kings — such is the 
unsatisfactory information given by the Hindus themselves.^ 

Much the same language with that in the Dawn-hymns is 
naturally employed in praising the Twin Brothers. They, like 
the Dioskouroi, are said to have been incorporated gradually 
into the pantheon, on an equality with the other gods,- not 
because they were at first human beings, but because they, 
like Night, were adjuncts of Dawn, and got their divinity 
through her as leader.^ In the last book of the Rig Veda they 
are the sons of Saranyu and Vivasvant, but it is not certain 
whether Saranyu means dawn or not ; in the first book they 
are born of the flood (in the sky)."^ They are sons of Dyaus, 
but this, too, only in the last and first books, while in the 
latter they are separated once, so that only one is called the 
Son of the Sky.^ They follow Dawn 'like men' (viii. 5. 2) 
and are in Brahmanic literature the 'youngest of the gods.' ^ 

The twin gods are the physicians of heaven, while to men 
they bring all medicines and help in times of danger. They 
w'ere apparently at first only 'wonder-workers,' for the original 
legends seem to have been few. Yet the striking similarity 
in these aspects with the brothers of Helen must offset the 
fact that so much in connection with them seems to have been 
added in books one and ten. Thev restore the blind and 
decrepit, impart strength and speed, and give the power and 
seed of life ; even causing waters to flow, fire to burn, and 
trees to grow. As such they assist lovers and aid in producing 

The Agvins are brilliantly described. Their bird-drawn 
chariot and all its appurtenances are of gold ; they are swift 

1 Muir, loc. cit. Weber regards them as the (stars) Gemini. 

2 Weber, however, thinks that Dawn and Acvins are equally old divinities, the 
oldest Hindu divinities in his estimation. 

3 In the Epic (see below) they are called the lowest caste of gods (Ciidras). 

4 X. 17. 2 ; i. 46. 2. 5 i. iSi. ^ (Roth, ZDMG. iv. 425). 
6 Taitt. S. vii. 2. 7. 2 ; Muir, loc. cit. p. 235. 


as thought, agile, young, and beautiful. Thrice they come to 
the sacrifice, morning, noon, and eve ; at the yoking of their 
car, the dawn' is born. When the 'banner before dawn' 
appears, the invocation to the Acvins begins ; they ' accom- 
pany dawn.' Some variation of fancy is naturally to be looked 
for. Thus, though, as said above. Dawn is born at the 
Acvins yoking, yet Dawn is herself invoked to wake the 
Agvins ; while again the sun starts their chariot before Dawn ; 
and as sons of Zeus they are invoked " when darkness still 
stands among the shining clouds (cows)." ^ 

Husbands or brothers or children of Dawn, the Horsemen 
are also Siirya's husbands, and she is the sun's daughter 
(Dawn ?) or the sun as female. But this myth is not without 
contradictions, for Surya elsewhere weds Soma, and the Acvins 
are the bridegroom's friends ; whom Pdshan chose on this 
occasion as his parents ; he who (unless one with Soma) was 
the prior bridegroom of the same much-married damsel. - 

The current explanation of the Acvins is that they represent 
two periods between darkness and dawn, the darker period 
being nearer night, the other nearer day. But they probably, 
as inseparable twins, are the twinlights or twilight, before 
dav/n, half dark and half bright. In this light it may well be 
said of them that one alone is the son of bright Dyaus, that 
both v/ed Dawn, or are her brothers. They always come to- 
gether. Their duality represents, then, not successive stages 
but one stage in day's approach, when light is dark and dark 
is light. In comparing the Acvins to other pairs " this dual 
nature is frequently referred to ; but no less is there a triality 
in connection with them which often in describing thenj has 
been ignored. This is that threefold light which opens day ; 
and, as in many cases they join with Dawn, so their color is 

1 vii. 67. 2 ; viii. 5.2; x. 39. 12 ; viii. 9. 17 ; i- 34. 10 ; x. 61. 4. Muir, loc. cit. 
238-9. Compare ib. 234, 256. 

2 Muir. loc. cit. p. 237. RV. vi. 5S. 4; x. 85. 9 ff . 

3 They are compared to two ships, two birds, etc. 


inseparable. Strictly speaking, the break of red is the dawn 
and the white and yellow lights precede this.^ Thus in v. 
73. 5 : '' Red birds flew round you as Surya stepped upon your 
chariot"; so that it is quite impossible, in accordance with the 
poets themselves, to limit the A^vins to the twilight. They 
are a variegated growth from a black and white seed. The 
chief function of the Acvins, as originally conceived, was the 
finding and restoring of vanished light. Hence they are 
invoked as finders and aid-gods in general (the myths are 
given in Myriantheus). 

Some very amusing and some silly legends have been col- 
lected and told by the Vedic poets in regard to the preserva- 
tion and resuscitating power of the Agvins — how an old man 
was rejuvenated by them (this is also done by the three Rib- 
hus, master-workmen of the gods) ; how brides are provided 
by them ; how they rescued Bhujyu and others from the dangers 
of the deep (as in the classical legends) ; how they replaced 
a woman's leg with an iron one ; restored a saint's eye-sight ; 
drew a seer out of a well, etc., etc. Many scholars follow Ber- 
gaigne in imagining all these miracles to be anthropomorphized 
forms of solar phenomena, the healing of the blind represent- 
ing the bringing out of the sun from darkness, etc. To us 
such interpretation often seems fatuous. No less unconvinc- 
ing is the claim that one of the Agvins represents the fire 
of heaven and the other the fire of the altar. The Twins are 
called Jidsatyd, the 'savers' (or 'not untrue ones'); ^ explained 
by some as meaning ' gods with good noses. 

> 3 

1 In Cat. Br. v. 5. 4. i, to the A§vins a red-white goat is sacrificed, because 
' Agvins are red-white.' 

- Perhaps best with Brunnhofer, 'the savers' from Jias as in nasjan (AG. p. 99). 

3 La Religion Vedique, ii. p. 434. That ndsatya means 'with good noses' is an 
epic notion, ndsatyadasrdu sutiasdu, Mbha. i. 3. 5S, and for this reason, if for no 
other (though idea is older), the etymology is probably false ! The epithet is also 
Iranian. Twinned and especially paired gods are characteristic of the Rig Veda. 
Thus Vama and YamI are twins; and of pairs Indra-Agni, Indra-Vayu, besides the 
older Mitra-Varuna, Heaven-Earth, are common. 


Hymn to the Horsemen. 

Whether ye rest on far-extended earth, or on the sea in house upon it 
made, come hither thence, O ye that ride the steeds. If ever for man ye 
mix the sacrifice, then notice now the Kanva [poet who sings]. I call upon 
the gods [Indra, Vishnu] ^ and the swift-going Horsemen.'-^ These Horse- 
men I call now that they work wonders, to seize the works (of sacrifice), 
whose friendship is preeminently ours, and relationship among all the gods ; 
in reference to whom arise sacrifices ... If, to-day, O Horsemen, West 
or East ye stand, ye of good steeds, whether at Druhyn's, Ann's, Turva9a's, 
or Yadu's, I call ye ; come to me. If ye fly in the air, O givers of great 
joy; or if through the two worlds; or if, according to your pleasure, ye 
mount the car, — thence come hither, O Horsemen. 

From the hy^mn preceding this, the following verses : " 

Whatever manliness is in the aether, in the sky, and among the five 
peoples, grant us that, O Horsemen . . . this hot .r^wa-drink of yours with 
laudation is poured out ; this soma sweet through which ye discovered 
Vritra . . . Ascend the swift-rolling chariot, O Horsemen ; hither let these 
my praises bring ye, like a cloud . . . Come as guardians of homes ; 
guardians of our bodies. Come to the house for (to give) children and 
offspring. Whether ye ride on the same car with Indra, or be in the same 
house with the Wind; whether united with the Sons of Boundlessness or 
the Ribhus, or stand on Vishnu's wide steps (come to us). This is the best 
help of the horsemen, if to-day I should entice them to get booty, or call 
them as my strength to conquer in battle. . . . Whatever medicine (y€ 
have) far or near, with this now, O wise ones, grant protection. . . . Awake, 
O Dawn, the Horsemen, goddess, kind and great. . . . When, O Dawn, 
thou goest in light and shinest \\ith the Sun, then hither comes the Horse- 
men's chariot, to the house men have to protect. When the swollen soma- 
stalks are milked like cows with udders, and when the choric songs are 
sung, then they that adore the Horsemen are preeminent. . . . 

Here the A^vins are associated with Indra, and even find 
the evil demon ; but, probably, at this stage Indra is more than 
god of storms. 

1 Perhaps to be omitted. 

2 Pischel, Ved. St. i. p. 4S. As swift-going gods they are called ' Indra-like.' 

3 viii. 9 and 10. 


Some of the expanded myths and legends of the Agvins 
may be found in i. ii8, 119, 158; x. 40. Here follows one 
with legends in moderate number (vii. 71): 

Before the Dawn her sister, Night, withdraweth ; 
The black one leaves the ruddy one a pathway. 
Ye that have kine and horses, you invoke we ; 
By day, at night, keep far from us your arrow. 

Come hither, now, and meet the pious mortal. 

And on your car, O Horsemen, bring him good things; 

Keep off from us the dry destroying sickness, 

By day, at night, O sweetest pair, protect us. 

Your chariot may the joy-desiring chargers. 
The virile stallions, bring at Dawn's first coming ; 
That car whose reins are rays, and wealth upon it ; 
Come with the steeds that keep the season's order. 

Upon the car, three-seated, full of riches. 
The helping car, that has a path all golden. 
On this approach, O lords of heroes, true ones, 
Let this food-bringing car of yours approach us. 

Ye freed from his old age the man Cyavana ; 
Ye brought and gave the charger swift to Pedu ; 
Ye two from darkness' anguish rescued Atri; 
Ye set Jahusha down, released from fetters. ^ 

This prayer, O Horsemen, and this song is uttered ; 
Accept the skilful poem, manly heroes. 
These prayers, to you belonging, have ascended, 
O all ye gods protect us aye with blessings ! ^ 

The sweets which the A^vins bring are either on their 
chariot, or, as is often related, in a bag ; or they burst forth 
from the hoof of their steed. Pegasus' spring in Helicon has 
been compared with this. Their vehicles are variously pictured 

1 Doubtful. 

2 The last verse is not peculiar to this hymn, but is the sign of the book (family) 
in which it was composed. 


as birds, horses, ships, etc. It is to be noticed that in no one 
of their attributes are the A9vins unique. Other gods bring 
sweets, help, protect, give offspring, give healing medicines, 
and, in short, do all that the Agvins do. But, as Bergaigne 
points out, they do all this pacifically, while Indra, who per- 
forms some of their wonders, does so by storm. He protects 
by not injuring, and helps by destroying foes. Yet is this 
again true only in general, and the lines between warlike, 
peaceful, and ' sovereign ' gods are often crossed. 



Only one of the great atmospheric deities, the gods that 
preeminently govern the middle sphere between sky and earth, 
can claim an Aryan lineage. One of the minor gods of the 
same sphere, the ancient rain-god, also has this antique dig- 
nity, but in his case the dignity already is impaired by the 
strength of a new and greater rival. In the case of the wind- 
god, on the other hand, there is preserved a deity who was one 
of the primitive pantheon, belonging, perhaps, not only to the 
Iranians, but to the Teutons, for Vata, Wind, may be the Scan- 
dinavian Woden. The later mythologists on Indian soil make 
a distinction between Vata, wind, and Vayu (from the same 
root ; as in German weheji), and in this distinction one 
discovers that the old Vata, who must have been once the 
wind-god, is now reduced to physical (though sentient) wind, 
while the newer name represents the higher side of wind as 
a power lying back of phenomena ; and it is this latter con- 
ception alone that is utilized in the formation of the Vedic 
triad of wind, fire, and sun. In short, in the use and appli- 
cation of the two names, there is an exact paralfel to the 
double terminology employed to designate the sun as Siirya 
and Savitar. Just as Surya is the older ijAto? and sol (ac- 
knowledged as a god, yet palpably the physical red body in 
the sky) contrasted with the interpretation which, by a newer 
name (Savitar), seeks to differentiate the (sentient) physical 
from the spiritual, so is Vata, Woden, replaced and lowered 
by the loftier conception of Vayu. But, again, just as, when 
the conception of Savitar is formed, the spiritualizing ten- 
dency reverts to Surya, and makes of him, too, a figure 


reclothed in the more modern garb of speech, which is in- 
vented for Savitar alone ; so the retroactive theosophic fancy, 
after creating Vayu as a divine power underlying phenomenal 
Vata, reinvests Vata also with the garments of Vayu. Thus, 
finally, the two, who are the result of intellectual differentia- 
tion, are again united from a new point of view, and Surya 
or Savitar, Vayu or Vata, are indifferently used to express 
respectively the whole completed interpretation of the divinity, 
which is now visible and invisible, sun and sun-god, wind and 
wind-god. In these pairs there is, as it were, a perspective 
of Hindu theosophy, and one can trace the god, as a spiritual 
entity including the physical, back to the physical prototype 
4;hat once was worshipped as such alone. 

In the Rig Veda there are three complete hymns to Wind, 
none of these being in the family books. In x. i86, the poet 
calls on Wind to bring health to the worshipper, and to pro- 
long his life. He addresses Wind as ' father and brother and 
friend,' asking the power that blows to bring him ambrosia, 
of which Wind has a store. These are rather pretty verses 
without special theological intent, addressed more to Wind as 
such than to a spiritual power. The other hymn from the 
same book is directed to Vata also,, not to Vayu, and though 
it is loftier in tone and even speaks of Vata as the soul of the 
gods, yet is it evident that no consistent mythology has worked 
upon the purely poetic phraseology, which is occupied merely 
with describing the rushing of a mighty wind (x. i68). Never- 
theless, Vata is worshipped, as is Vayu, with oblations. 

Hymn to Wind (Vata). 

Now Vata's chariot's greatness ! Breaking goes it, 
And thundering is its noise ; to heaven it touches, 
Goes o'er the earth, cloud ^ making, dust up-rearing; 

1 Compare i. 134. 3. 


Then rush together all the forms of Vata ; 

To him they come as women to a meeting. 

With them conjoint, on the same chariot going, 

Is born the god, the king of all creation. 

Ne'er sleepeth he when, on his pathway wandering, 

He goes through air. The friend is he of waters ; 

First-born and holy, — where was he created. 

And whence arose he ? Spirit of gods is Vata, 

Source of creation, goeth where he listeth ; 

Whose sound is heard, but not his form. This Vata 

Let us with our oblations duly honor. 

In times later than the Rig Veda, Vayu interchanges with 
Indra as representative of the middle sphere ; and in the Rig 
Veda all the hymns of the family books associate him with 
Indra (vii. 90-92 ; iv. 47-4S). In the first book he is associ- 
ated thus in the second hymn; while, ib. 134, he has the only 
remaining complete hymn, though fragments of songs occa- 
sionally are found. All of these hymns except the first two 
simply invite Vayu to come with Indra to the sacrifice. It is 
Vayu who with Indra obtains the first drink of soma (i. 134. 6). 
He is spoken of as the artificer's, Tvashtar's, son-in-law, but 
the allusion is unexplained (viii. 26. 22); he in turn begets 
the storm-gods (i. 134. 4). 

With Vayu is joined Indra, one of the popular gods. These 
divinities, which are partly of the middle and partly of the 
lower sphere, may be called the popular gods, yet were the 
title 'new gods ' neither wholly amiss nor quite correct. For, 
though the popular deities in general, when compared with 
many for whom a greater antiquity may be claimed, such as 
the Sun, Varuna, Dyaus, etc., are of more recent growth in 
dignity, yet there remains a considerable number of divinities, 
the hymns in whose honor, dating from the latest period, seem 
to show that the power they celebrate had been but lately 
admitted into the category of those gods that deserved special 
worship. Consequently new gods would be a misleading term, 


as it should be applied to the plainer products of theological 
speculation and abstraction rather than to Indra and his peers, 
not to speak of those newest pantheistic gods, as yet unknown. 
The designation popular must be understood, then, to apply to 
the gods most frequently, most enthusiastically revered (for in 
a stricter sense the sun was also a popular god); and reference 
is had in using this word to the greater power and influence 
of these gods, which is indicated by the fact that the hymns 
to Agni and Indra precede all others in the family books, 
while the Soma-hymns are collected for the most part into one 
whole book bv themselves. 

But there is another factor that necessitates a division 
between the divinities of sun and heaven and the atmos- 
pheric and earthly gods which are honored so greatly; and this 
factor is explanatory of the popularity of these gods. In the 
case of the older divinities it is the spiritualization of a sole 
material appearance that is revered; in the case of the popular 
gods, the material phenomenon is reduced to a minimum, the 
spirituality behind the phenomenon is exalted, and that spiritu- 
ality stands not in and for itself, but as a part of a union of 
spiritualities. Applying this test to the earlier gods the union 
will be found to be lacking. The sun's spiritual power is 
united with Indra's, but the sun is as much a physical phenome- 
non as a spirituality, and always remains so. On the other hand, 
the equation of Varunic power with Indraic never amalgamated 
the two ; and these are the best instances that can be chosen 
of the older gods. For in the case of others it is self-evident. 
Dyaus and Dawn are but material phenomena, slightly spiritual- 
ized, but not joined with the spirit-power of others. 

Many have been the vain attempts to go behind the returns 
of Vedic hymnology and reduce Indra, Agni, and Soma to 
terms of a purely naturalistic religion. It cannot be done. 
Indra is neither sun, lightning, nor storm ; Agni is neither 
hearth-fire nor celestial fire ; Soma is neither planet nor moon. 

IiYDRA. 91 

Each is the transient manifestation of a spirituality lying 
behind and extending beyond this manifestation. Here alone 
is the latch-key of the newer, more popular religion. Not 
merely because Indra was a 'warrior god,' but because Indra 
and Fire were one ; because of the mystery, not because of the 
appearance, was he made great at the hands of the priests. It 
is true, as has been said above, that the idol of the warriors 
was magnified because he was such ; but the true cause of the 
greatness ascribed to him in the hymns lay in the secret of his 
nature, as it was lauded by the priest, not in his form, as it 
was seen by the multitude. Neither came first, both worked 
together; but had it not been for the esoteric wisdom held by 
the priests in connection with his nature, Indra would have 
gone the way of other meteorological gods ; whereas he became 
chiefest of the gods, and, as lord of strength, for a time came 
nearest to the supreme power. 


Indra has been identified with ' storm,' with the ' sky,' with the 
'year'; also with 'sun' and with 'fire' in general.^ But if he 
be taken as he is found in the hymns, it will be noticed at once 
that he is too stormv to be the sun ; too luminous to be the 
storm ; too near to the phenomena of the monsoon to be the 
year or the sky ; too rainy to be fire ; too alien from every one 
thing to be any one thing. He is too celestial to be wholly 
atmospheric ; too atmospheric to be celestial ; too earthly to 
be either. A most tempting solution is that offered by 
Bergaigne, who sees in Indra sun or lightning. Yet does this 
explanation not explain all, and it is more satisfactory than 
others only because it is broader ; while it is not yet broad 
enough. Indra, in Bergaigne's opinion, stands, however, nearer 

1 For the different views, see Perry, JAOS. xi. p. 119; Muir, OST. v. p. ']']. 


to fire than to sim.^ But the savant does not rest content with 
his own explanation : " Indra est peut-etre, de tons les dieux 
vediques, celui qui resiste le plus longtemps a un genre 
d'analyse qui, applique a la plupart des autres, les resout plus 
ou moins vite en des personnifications des elements, soit des 
phe'nomenes naturels, soit du culte " {ibid. p. 167). 

Dyaus' son, Indra, who rides upon the storm and hurls the 
lisfhtnin^is with his hands ; who ' crashes down from heaven ' 
and ' destroys the strongholds ' of heaven and earth ; whose 
greatness 'fills heaven and earth'; whose 'steeds are of red and 
gold'; who 'speaks in thunder,' and 'is born of waters and 
cloud'; behind whom ride the storm-gods ; with whom Agni 
(fire) is inseparably connected ; who ' frees the waters of 
heaven from the demon,' and 'gives rain-blessings ard wealth' 
to man — such a god, granted the necessity of a naturalistic 
interpretation, may well be thought to have been lightning 
itself originally, which the hymns now represent the god as 
carrying. But in identifying Indra with the sun there is more 
difficulty. In none of the early hymns is this suggested, and 
the texts on which Bergaigne relies besides being late are not 
always conclusive. " Indra clothes himself with the glory of 
the sun"; he "sees with the eye of the sun" — such texts 
prove little when one remembers that the sun is the eye of all 
the gods, and that to clothe ones'self with solar glory is far from 
being one with the sun. In one other, albeit a late verse, the 
expression 'Indra, a sun,' is used ; and, relying on such texts, 
Bergaigne claims that Indra is the sun. But it is evident that 
this is but one of many passages where Indra by implication 
is compared to the sun ; and comparisons do not indicate 
allotropy. So, in ii. 11. 20, which Bergaigne gives as a 
parallel, the words say expressly " Indra [did so and so] like a 
sun.'''' ^ To rest a building so important on a basis so frail is 

1 La Religion Vediqne, ii. pp. 159, 161, 166, 187. 

2 Tiie chief texts are ii. 30. i ; iv. 26. i ; vii. 98. 6 ; viii. 93. i, 4 ; x. S9. 2 ; x. 1 12. 3. 

INDRA. 93 

fortunately rare with Bergaigne. It happens here because he 
is arguing from the assumption that Indra primitively was a 
general luminary. Hence, instead of building up Indra from 
early texts, he claims a few late phrases as precious confir- 
mation of his theory.^ What was Indra may be seen by com- 
paring a few citations such as might easily be amplified from 
every book in the Rig Veda. 

According to the varying fancies of the poets, Indra is 
armed with stones, clubs, arrows, or the thunderbolt (made for 
him by the artificer, Tvashtar), of brass or of gold, with many 
edges and points. Upon a golden chariot he rides to battle, 
driving two or many red or yellow steeds ; he is like the sun 
in brilliancy, and like the dawn in beauty; he is multiform, 
and cannot really be described ; his divine name is secret; in 
appearance he is vigorous, huge ; he is wise and true and kind; 
all treasures are his, and he is a wealth-holder, vast as four 
seas ; neither his greatness nor his generosity can be compre- 
hended ; mightiest of gods is he, filling the universe ; the 
heavens rest upon his head ; earth cannot hold him ; earth and 
heaven tremble at his breath ; he is king of all ; the mountains 
are to him as valleys ; he goes forth a bull, raging, and rushes 
through the air, whirling up the dust ; he breaks open the 
rain-containing clouds, and lets the rain pour down ; as the 
A^vins restore the light, so he restores the rain ; he is (like) 
fire born in three places ; as the giver of rain which feeds, he 
creates the plants ; he restores or begets Sun and Dawn (after 
the storm has passed) ; " he creates (in the same way) all things, 
even heaven and earth; he is associated with Vishnu and Pushan 
(the sun-gods), with the A^vins, with the Maruts (storm-gods) 
as his especial followers, and with the artisan Ribhus. With 
Varuna he is an Aditya, but he is also associated with another 

1 Other citations given by Bergaigne in connection with this point are all of the 
simile class. Only as All-god is Indra the sun. 

2 i. 51. 4 : " After slaying Vritra, thou did'st make the sun climb in the sky." 


group of gods, the Vasus (x. 66. 3), as Vasupati, or 'lord of 
the Vasus.' He goes with many forms (vi. 47. 18).^ 

The luminous character^ of Indra, which has caused him to 
be identified with light-gods, can be understood only when one 
remembers that in India the rainy season is ushered in by such 
displays of lightning that the heavens are often illuminated in 
every direction at once ; and not with a succession of flashes, 
but with contemporaneous ubiquitous sheets of light, so that it 
appears as if on all sides of the sky there was one lining of 
united dazzling flame. When it is said that Indra 'placed light 
in light,' one is not to understand, with Bergaigne, that Indra 
is identical with the sun, but that in day (light) Indra puts 
lightning (x. 54. 6 ; Bergaigne ii. p. 187). 

Since Indra's lightning^ is a form of fire, there is found in 
this union the first mvstic dualism of tw^o distinct 2:ods as one. 
This comes out more in Agni-worship than in Indra-worship, 
and will be treated below. The snake or dra2:on killed bv 
Indra is Vritra, the restrainer, who catches and keeps in the 
clouds the rain that is falling to earth. He often is called 
simply the snake, and as the Budhnya Snake, or snake of the 
cloud-depths, is possibly the Python (= Budh-nya)."* There is 
here a touch of primitive belief in an old enemy of man — the 
serpent ! But the Budhnya Snake has been developed in 
opposite ways, and has contradictory functions.^ 

Indra, however, is no more the lightning than he is the sun. 
One poet says that he is like the sun ; ^ another, that he is 
like the lightning (viii. 93. 9), w^hich he carries in his arms 

1 Aditya, only vii. 85. 4 ; Val. 4. 7. For other references, see Perry (loc. cit.), 

2 Bergaigne. ii. 160. 1S7. 

3 Indra finds and begets Agni, iii. 31. 15. 

4 Unless the Python be, rather, the Demon of Putrefaction, as in Iranian belief. 

5 Demons of every sort oppose Indra; Vala, Vritra, the 'holding' snake {dhi = 
6Xis), Cushna ('drought '), etc. 

c So he finds and directs the sun and causes it to shine, as explained above (viii, 
3. 6; iii. 44. 4 ; i. 56. 4 ; iii. 30. 12). He is praised with Vishnu (vi. 69) in one hymn, 
as distinct from him. 

INDRA. 95 

(viii, 12. 7) ; another, that he is like the light of dawn (x. 89. 
12). So various are the activities, so many the phenomena, 
that with him first the seer is obliged to look back of all these 
phenomena and find in them one person ; and thus he is the 
most anthropomorphized of the Vedic gods. He is born of 
heaven or born of clouds (iv. iS), but that his mother is Aditi 
is not certain. As the most powerful god Indra is again re- 
garded as the All-god (viii. 98. 1-2). With this final suprem- 
acy, that distinction between battle-gods and gods sovereign, 
which Bergaigne insists upon — the sovereign gods belonging 
to une cojiception iinitaire de Vonh-e du vionde (iii. p. 3 ; ii. 
p. 167) — fades away. As Varuna became gradually greatest, 
so did Indra in turn. But Varuna was a philosopher's god, 
not a warrior's ; and Varuna was not double and mvstical. So 
even the priest (Agni) leaves Varuna, and with the warrior 
takes more pleasure in his twin Indra ; of him making an All- 
god, a greatest god. Varuna is passive ; Indra is energetic ; 
but Indra does not struggle for his lordship. Inspired by so77ia^ 
he smites, triumphs, punishes. Victor already, he descends upon 
his enemies and with a blow destroys them. It is rarely that 
he feels the effect of battle ; he never doubts its issue. 

There is evidence that this supremacy was not gained with- 
out contradiction, and the novelty of the last extravagant Indra- 
worship may be deduced, perhaps, from such passages as viii. 
96. 15 ; and 100. 3, where are expressed doubts in regard 
to the existence of a real Indra. How late is the worship of 
the popular Indra, and that it is not originality that causes his 
hymns to be placed early in each collection, may be judged 
from the fact that only of Indra (and Agni ?) are there idols : 
viii. 1-5; iv. 24. 10: "Who gives ten cows for my Indra .'^ 
When he has slain his foe let (the purchaser) give him to me 
again." -^ Thus it happens that one rarely fmds such poems 

1 Bollensen would see an allusion to idols in i. 145. 4-5 (to Agni), but this is very 
doubtful (ZDMG. xlvii. p. 586). Agni, however, is on a par with Indra, so that the 
exception would have no significance. See Kaegi, Rig Veda, note 79 a. 


to Indra as to Dawn and to other earlier deities, but almost 
always stereotyped descriptions of prowess, and mechanical 
invitations to come to the altar and reward the hymn-maker. 
There are few of Indra's many hymns that do not smack of 
soma and sacrifice. He is a warrior's god exploited by priests ; 
as popularly conceived, a sensual giant, friend, brother, helper 
of man. One example of poetry, instead of ritualistic verse- 
making to Indra, has been translated in the introductory 
chapter. Another, which, if not very inspiring, is at least free 
from obvious ^<9;;/^7-worship — which results in Indra being in- 
voked chiefly to come and drink — is as follows (vi. 30) : 

Great hath he grown, Indra, for deeds heroic ; 

Ageless is he alone, alone gives riches ; 

Beyond the heaven and earth hath Indra stretched him, 

The half of him against both worlds together ! 

So high and great I deem his godly nature ; 

What he hath stablished there is none impairs it. 

Day after day a sun is he conspicuous, 

And, wisely strong, divides the wide dominions. 

To-day and now (thou makest) the work of rivers, 

In that, O Indra, thou hast hewn them pathway. 

The hills have bowed them down as were they comrades ; 

By thee, O wisely strong, are spaces fastened. 

'T is true, like thee, O Indra, is no other, 

Nor god nor mortal is more venerable. 

Thou slew'st the dragon that the flood encompassed. 

Thou didst let out the waters to the ocean. 

Thou didst the waters free, the doors wide opening, 

Thou, Indra, brak'st the stronghold of the mountains, 

Becamest king of all that goes and moveth. 

Begetting sun and heaven and dawn together. 


These gods, the constant followers of Indra, from the present 
point of view are not of great importance, except as showing 
an unadulterated type of nature-gods, worshipped without much 


esoteric wisdom (although there is a certain amount of mystery 
in connection with their birth). There is something of the 
same pleasure in singing to them as is discernible in the hymns 
to Dawn. They are the real storm-gods, following Rudra, their 
father, and accompanying the great storm-bringer, Indra. Their 
mother is the variegated cow Pricni, the mother cloud. Their 
name means the shining, gleaming ones. 

Hymn to the Maruts (vii. 56. i-io). 

Who, sooth, are the gleaming related heroes, 

the glory of Rudra, on beauteous chargers ? 
For of them the birthplace no man hath witnessed ; 

they only know it, their mutual birthplace. 
With wings expanded they sweep each other,i 

and strive together, the wind-loud falcons. 
Wise he that knoweth this secret knowledge, 

that Pri9ni the great one to them was mother.^ 
This folk the Maruts shall make heroic, 

victorious ever, increased in manhood ; 
In speed the swiftest, in light the lightest, 

with grace united and fierce in power — 
Your power fierce is ; your strength, enduring ; 

and hence with the Maruts this folk is mighty. 
Your fury fair is, your hearts are wrothful, 

like maniacs wild is your band courageous. 
From us keep wholly the gleaming lightning ; 

let not your anger come here to meet us. 
Your names of strong ones endeared invoke I, 

that these delighted may joy, O Maruts. 

What little reflection or moral siR:nificance is in the Marut 
hymns is illustrated by i. '^'$>. 1-9, thus translated by Miiller : 

What then now ? When will ye take us as a dear father takes his son 
by both hands, O ye gods, for whom the sacred grass has been trimmed .-* 

1 Or 'pluck with beaks,' as Miiller translates, SBE. xxxii. p. -i^']-}^. 

2 " Bore them " (gave an udder). In v. 52. 16 Rudra is father and Pri§ni, mother. 
Compare viii. 94. i : " The cow . . . the mother of the Maruts, sends milk (rain)." 
In X. 7S. 6 the Maruts are sons of Sindhu (Indus). 


Where now ? On what errand of yours are you going, in heaven, not on 
earth? Where are your cows sporting ? Where are your newest favors, 
O Maruts ? Where are blessings ? Where all delights ? If you, sons of 
Pricni, were mortals and your praiser an immortal, then never should your 
praiser be unwelcome, like a deer in pasture grass, nor should he go on the 
path of Yama.i Let not one sin after another, difficult to be conquered, 
overcome us ; may it depart, together with greed. Truly they are terrible 
and powerful ; even to the desert the Rudriyas bring rain that is never 
dried up. The lightning lows like a cow, it follows as a mother follows 
after her young, when the shower has been let loose. Even by day the 
Maruts create darkness with the water-bearing cloud, when they drench the 
earth, etc. 

The number of the Maruts was originally seven, afterwards 
raised to thrice seven, and then given variously,' sometimes 
as high as thrice sixty. They are the servants, the bulls of 
Dyaus, the glory of Rudra (or perhaps the 'boys of Rudra '), 
divine, bright as suns, blameless and pure. They cover them- 
selves with shining adornment, chains of gold, gems, and tur- 
bans. On their heads are helmets of gold, and in their hands 
gleam arrows and daggers. Like heroes rushing to battle, 
they stream onward. They are fair as deer ; their roar is like 
that of lions. The mountains bow before them, thinkins: them- 
selves to be valleys, and the hills bow down. Good warriors 
and good steeds are their gifts. They smite, they kill, they 
rend the rocks, they strip the trees like caterpillars ; they rise 
together, and, like spokes in a wheel, are united in strength. 
Their female companion is Rodasi (lightning, from the same 
root as ?-udra, the 'red'). They are like wild boars, and (like 
the sun) they have metallic jaws. On their chariots are 
speckled hides ; like birds they spread their wings ; they strive 
in flight with each other. Before them the earth sways like 
a ship. They dance upon their path. Upon their chests for 
beauty's sake they bind gold armor. From the heavenly udder 

1 /.^., die. 

2 The number is not twenty-seven, as Muir accidentally states, OST. v. p. 147. 

RUBRA. 99 

they milk clown rain. '' Through whose wisdom, through whose 
design do they come ? " cries the poet. They have no real ad- 
versary. The kings of the forest they tear asunder, and make 
tremble even the rocks. Their music is heard on every side.-^ 


The father of the ]\Iaruts, Rudra, is ' the ruddy one,' par 
excellence., and so to him is ascribed paternity of the ' ruddy 
ones.' But while Indra has a plurality of hymns, Rudra has 
but few, and these it is not of special importance to cite. The 
features in each case are the same. The Maruts remain as 
gods whose function causes them to be invoked chiefly that they 
may spare from the fury of the tempest. This idea is in Rudra's 
case carried out further, and he is specially called on to avert 
(not only ' cow-slaying ' and ' man-slaying ' by lightning," but 
also) disease, pestilence, etc. Hence is he preeminently, on 
the one hand, the kindly god who averts disease, and, on the 
other, of destruction in every form. From him Father Manu 
got wealth and health, and he is the fairest of beings, but, 
more, he is the strongest god (ii, ■^^. 3, 10). From such a 
prototype comes the later god of healing and woe — Rudra, 
who becomes Qiva.^ 


There is one rather mechanical hymn directed to the Waters 
themselves as goddesses, where Indra is the god who gives 
them passage. But in the unique hymn to the Rivers it is 
Varuna who, as general god of v/ater, is represented as their 
patron. In the first hymn the rain-water is meant."* A descrip- 

1 V. 58. 4, 5 ; i. 88. I ; 88. 5 ; v, 54. 11 ; viii. 7. 25 ; i. 166. 10 ; i. 39. i ; 64. 2-8; 
V. 54. 6 ; i. 85. 8 ; viii. 7. 34 ; v. 59. 2. 

- He carries lightnings and medicines together in vii. 46. 3. 

3 Civa is later identified with Rudra. For the latter in RV. compare i. 43; 114, 
1-5, ID ; ii. 33. 2-13. 4 vii. 47, and x. 75. 


tion in somewhat jovial vein of the joy produced by the rain 
after long drought forms the subject matter of another lyric 
(less an hymn than a poem), which serves to illustrate the posi- 
tion of the priests at the end of this Vedic collection. The 
frogs are jocosely compared to priests that have fulfilled their 
vow of silence ; and their quacking is likened to the noise of 
students learning the Veda. Parjanya is the god that, in dis- 
tinction from Indra as the first cause, actually pours down the 

The Frogs.i 

As priests that have their vows fulfilled, 

Reposing for a year complete, 
The frogs have now begun to talk, — 

Parjanya has their voice aroused. 

When down the heavenly waters come upon him. 

Who like a dry bag lay within the river. 
Then, like the cows' loud lowing (cows that calves have), 

The vocal sound of frogs comes all together. 

When on the longing, thirsty ones it raineth, 
(The rainy season having come upon them), 

Then akkala !- they cry; and one the other 

Greets with his speech, as sons address a father. 

The one the other welcomes, and together 

They both rejoice at falling of the waters ; 
The spotted frog hops when the rain has wet him, 

And with his yellow comrade joins his utterance. 

When one of these the other's voice repeateth, 

Just as a student imitates his teacher, 
Then like united members \^^th fair voices, 

They all together sing among the waters. 

1 vii. 103. 

2 Akhkhala is like Latin eccere^ a shout of joy and wonder {Am. J. Phil. XIV. 
p. i:). 

RAIiX-GODS, 101 

One like an ox doth bellow, goat-like one bleats ; 

Spotted is one, and one of them is yellow ; 
Alike in name, but in appearance different, 

In many ways the voice they, speaking, vary. 

As priests about th' intoxicating i soma 

Talk as they stand before the well-filled vessel, 

So stand ye round about this day once yearly, 
On which, O frogs, the time of rain approaches. 

(Like) priests who soma have, they raise their voices. 
And pray the prayer that once a year is uttered ; 

(Like) heated priests who sweat at sacrifices, 
They all come out, concealed of them is no one. 

The sacred order of the (year) twelve-membered, 
These heroes guard, and never do neglect it ; 

When every year, the rainy season coming, 
The burning heat receiveth its dismission.^ 

In one hymn no less than four gods are especially invoked 
for rain — Agni, Brihaspati, Indra, and Parjanya. The two 
first are sacrificially potent ; Brihaspati, especially, gives to the 
priest the song that has power to bring rain ; he comes either 
'as Mitra-Varuna or Pushan,' and 'lets Parjanya rain'; while 
in the same breath Indra is exhorted to send a flood of rain, — 
rains which are here kept back by the gods," — and Agni is 
immediately afterwards asked to perform the same favor, appar- 
ently as an analogue to the streams of oblation which the priest 
pours on the fire. Of these gods, the pluvius is Parjanya: 

1 Literally, ' that has stood over-night,' i.e.. fermented. 

- To this hymn is added, in imitation of tlie laudations of generous benefactors, 
which are sometimes suffixed to an older hymn, words ascribing gifts to the frogs. 
Bergaigne regards the frogs as meteorological phenomena ! It is from this hymn 
as a starting-point proceed the latter-day arguments of Jacobi, who would prove the 
'period of the Rig Veda' to have begun about 3500 B.C. One might as well date 
Homer by an appeal to the Batrachomyomachia. 

3 X. 9S. 6. 


Parjanya loud extol in song, 

The fructifying son of heaven ; 

May he provide us pasturage ! 

He who the fruitful seed of plants, 

Of cows and mares and women forms, 

He is the god Parjanya. 

For him the melted butter pour 

In (Agni's) mouth, — a honeyed sweet, — 

And may he constant food bestow ! ^ 

This god is the rain-cloud personified,- but he is scarcely to 
be distinguished, in other places, from Indra ; although the 
latter, as the greater, newer god, is represented rather as 
causing the rain to flow, while Parjanya pours it down. Like 
Varuna, Parjanya also upsets a water-barrel, and wets the 
earth. He is identical with the Slavic Perkuna. 

For natural expression, vividness, energy, and beauty, the 
following hymn is unsurpassed. As a god unjustly driven out 
of the pantheon, it is, perhaps, only just that he should be 
exhibited, in contrast to the tone of the sacrificial hymnlet 
above, in his true light. Occasionally he is paired with Wind; 
and in the curious tendency of the poets to dualize their divini- 
ties, the two become a compound, Farjanyavdtd (" Parjanya 
and Vata"). There is, also, vii. loi, one mystic hymn to 
Parjanya. The following, v. 83, breathes quite a different 
spirit : ^ 

Greet him, the mighty one, with these laudations, 
Parjanya praise, and call him humbly hither; 

With roar and rattle pours the bull his waters, 
And lays his seed in all the plants, a foetus. 

He smites the trees, and smites the evil demons, too; 
While every creature fears before his mighty blow. 
E'en he that hath not sinned, from this strong god retreats. 
When smites Parjanya, thundering, those that evil do, 

1 vii. 102, 2 Compare Blihler, Orient and Occident, i. p. 222. 

3 This hymn is another of those that contradict the first assumption of the ritual- 
ists. From internal evidence it is not likely that it was made for baksheesh. 

RAIN-GODS.  103 

As when a charioteer with wliip his horses strikes, 

So drives he to the fore his messengers of rain ; 

Afar a lion's roar is raised abroad, whene'er 

Parjanya doth create the rain-containing cloud. 

Now forward rush the winds, now gleaming lightnings fall ; 

Up spring the plants, and thick becomes the shining sky. 

For every living thing refreshment is begot. 

Whene'er Parjanya's seed makes quick the womb of earth. 

Beneath whose course the earth hath bent and bowed her, 

Beneath whose course the (kine) behoofed bestir them, 

Beneath whose course the plants stand multifarious, 

He — thou, Parjanya — grant us great protection ! 

Bestow Dyaus' rain upon us, O ye Maruts ! 

Make thick the stream that comes from that strong stallion ! 

With this thy thunder come thou onward, hither, 

Thy waters pouring, a spirit and our father.^ 

Roar forth and thunder ! Give the seed of increase ! 

Drive with thy chariot full of water round us ; 

The water-bag drag forward, loosed, turned downward ; 

Let hills and valleys equal be before thee ! 

Up with the mighty keg! then pour it under! 

Let all the loosened streams flow swiftly forward ; 

Wet heaven and earth with this thy holy fluid ; ^ 

And fair drink may it be for all our cattle ! 

When thou with rattle and with roar, 
Parjanya, thundering, sinners slayest, 
Then all before thee do rejoice, 
Whatever creatures live on earth. 

Rain hast thou rained, and now do thou restrain it ; 
The desert, too, hast thou made fit for travel ; 
The plants hast thou begotten for enjoyment ; 
And wisdom hast thou found for thy descendants. 

The different meters may point to a collection of small 
hymns. It is to be observed that Parjanya is here the father- 

1 Asuras, pita nas. 

- Literally, * with gkce ' ; the rain is like the ghee, or sacrificial oil (melted butter). 


god (of men) ; he is the Asura, the Spirit ; and rain comes 
from the Shining Sky (Dyaus). How like Varuna ! 

The rain, to tlie poet, descends from the sky, and is liable 
to be caught by the demon, Vritra, whose rain-swollen belly 
Indra opens with a stroke, and lets fall the rain ; or, in the 
older view just presented, Parjanya makes the cloud that gives 
the rain — a viev/ united with the descent of rain from the sky 
(Dyaus). With Parjanya as an Ar3^an rain-god may be men- 
tioned Trita, who, apparently, was a water-god, Aptya, in gen- 
eral ; and some of whose functions Indra has taken. He appears 
to be the same with the Persian Thraetaona Athwya ; but 
in the Rig Veda he is interesting mainly as a dim survival 
of the past.-^ The washing out of sins, which appears to be 
the original conception of Varuna's sin-forgiving,- finds an 
analogue in the fact that sins are cast off upon the innocent 
waters and upon Trita — also a water-god, and once identified 
with Varuna (viii. 41. 6). But this notion is so unique and 
late (only in viii. 47) that Bloomfield is perhaps right in imput- 
ing it to the [later] moralizing age of the Brahmanas, with 
which the third period of the Rig Veda is quite in touch. 

1 Some suppose even Indra to be one with the Avestan Andra, a demon, which is 

2 Otherwise it is the ' bonds of sin ' which are broken or loosed, as in the last verse 
of the first Varuna hymn, translated above. But the two views may be of equal 
antiquity (above, p. 65, note). On Trita compare JRAS. 1893, p. 419; PAOS. 1894 




Great are the heavenly gods, but greater is Indra, god of 
the atmosphere. Greatest are Agni and Soma, the gods of earth. 

Agni is the altar-lire. Originally fire, Agni, in distinction 
from sun and lightning, is the fire of sacrifice ; and as such is 
he great. One reads in v. 3. 1-2, that this Agni is Varuna, 
Indra ; that in him are all the gods. This is, indeed, formally 
a late view, and can be paralleled only by a few passages of a 
comparatively recent period. Thus, in the late hymn i. 164. 
46 : " Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni, they say ; he is the sun (the 
bird in the sky); that which is but one they call variously," etc. 
So X. 114. 5 and the late passage iii. 38. 7, have reference to 
various forms of Agni. 

Indra had a twofold nature in producing the union of light- 
ning and Agni ; and this made him mysteriously great. But 
in Agni is found the first triality, which, philosophically, 
is interpreted as a trinity. The fire of the altar is one with 
the lightning, and, again, one with the sun. This is Agni's 
threefold birth ; and all the holy character of three is 
exhausted in application where he is concerned. It is the 
highest mystery until the very end of the Vedic age. This 
Agni it is that is the real Agni of the Rig Veda — the new 
Agni ; for there was probably an Agni cult (as simple fire) long 
before the soma cult. Indra and Agni are one, and both are 
called the slayers of the demons.-^ They are both united as an 
indissoluble pair (iii. 12, etc.). Agni, with, perhaps, the 

1 viii. 38. 4; i. 108. 3; Bergaigne, ii. 295. 


exception of Soma, is the most important god in the Rig Veda; 
and it is no chance that gives him the first place in each family 
hymn-book ; for in him are found, only in more fortunate 
circumstances, exactly the same conditions as obtain in the case 
of Indra. He appealed to man as the best friend among divine 
beings ; he was not far off, to be wondered at ; if terrible, to be 
propitiated. He was near and kind to friends. And as he 
seemed to the vulgar so he appealed to the theosophy which 
permeates the spirit of the poets ; for he is mysterious ; a 
mediator between god and man (in carrying to heaven the 
offerings) ; a threefold unity, typical of earth, atmosphere, and 
heaven. From this point of view, as in the case of Indra, so 
in the case of Agni, only to a greater extent, it becomes impos- 
sible to interpret Agni as one element, one phenomenon. 
There is, when a distinction is made, an agni which is single, 
the altar-fire, separate from other fires ; but it is seldom that 
Agni is not felt as the threefold one. 

And now for the interpretation of the modern ritualists. 
The Hindu ritual had ' the three fires,' which everv orthodox 
believer was taught to keep up. The later literature of the 
Hindus themselves very correctly took these three fires as 
types of the three forms of Agni known in the Rig Veda. But 
to the ritualists the historical precedence is inverted, and 
they would show that the whole Vedic mythological view of an 
Agni triad is the result of identifying Agni with the three fires 
of the ritual. From this crass method of interpretation it 
would result that all Vedic mythology was the child of the 

1 On this point Bergaigne deprecates the appHcation of the ritualistic method, 
and says in words that cannot be too emphasized : " ]\Iais qui ne voit que de telles 
expUcations n'expUquent rien. ou phitot que le detail du ritucl ne pent trouver son 
explication que dans le mythe, bien loin de pouvoir servir lui-menies a expliquer le 
mythe ? . . . Ni le ciel seul ni la terre seule, mais la terre et le ciel etroitement unis 
et presque confondus, voila le vrai domaine de la mythologie vedique, mythologie 
dont le rituel n'est que la reproduction" (i. p. 24). 

AGiVL 107 

As earthly fire Agni is first ignis :^ "Driven by the wind, 
he hastens through the forest with roaring tongues. . . . 
black is thy path, O bright immortal ! " " He mows down, as 
no herd can do, the green fields ; bright his tooth, and golden 
his beard." " He devours like a steer that one has tied up." 
This is common fire, divine, but not of the altar. The latter 
Agni is of every hymn. For instance, the first stanza of the 
Rig Veda : " Agni, the family priest, I worship ; the divine 
priest of sacrifice ; the oblation priest, who bestows riches," 
where he is invoked under the names of different priests. But 
Agni is even more than this ; he is the fire (heat) that causes 
production and reproduction, visibly manifest in the sun. This 
dual Agni, it is to be noticed, is at times the only Agni recog- 
nized. The third form is then added, lightning, and there- 
with Agni is begotten of Indra, and is, therefore, one with 
Indra: "There is only one fire lighted in many places" (Val. 
lo. 2). As a poetical expression, Agni in the last form is the 
* Son of Waters,' an epithet not without significance in philo- 
sophical speculation ; for water, through all periods, was re- 
garded as the material origin of the universe. 

Agni is one with the sun, with lightning (and thunder), and 
descends into the plants." To man he is house-priest and 
friend. It is he that has " grouped men in dwelling-places " 
(iii. I. 17) like Prometheus, in whose dialectic name, Proman- 
theus, lingers still the fire-creator, the twirling {inatJi) sticks 
which make fire in the wood. He is man's guest and best 
friend (Mitra, iv. i. 9; above). 

An hymn or two entire will show what was Agni to the 
Vedic poet. In the following, the Rig Veda's first hymn, he is 
addressed, in the opening stanza, under the names of house- 
priest, the chief sacrificial priest, and the priest that pours obla- 
tions. In the second stanza he is extolled as the messenger 

li. 5S. 4; V. 7. 7; vi. 3.4. 

2 iii. 14. 4 ; i. 71. 9 ; vi. 3. 7 ; 6. 2 ; iv. i. 9. 


who brings the gods to the sacrifice, himself rising up in 
sacrificial flames, and forming a link between earth and 
heaven. In a later stanza he is called the Messenger (Angiras 
= ayyeA.os?), — one of his ordinary titles : 

To Agni (i. i). 

I worship Agni ; house-priest, he, 

And priest divine of sacrifice, 

Th' oblation priest, who giveth wealth. 

Agni, by seers of old adored, 
To be adored by those to-day — 
May he the gods bring here to us. 

Through Agni can one wealth acquire. 
Prosperity from day to day. 
And fame of heroes excellent. 

O, Agni ! whatsoe'er the rite 

That thou surround'st on every side, 

That sacrifice attains the gods. 

May Agni, who oblation gives — 

The wisest, true, most famous priest — 

This god with (all) the gods approach ! 

Thou doest good to every man 
That serves thee, Agni ; even this 
Is thy true virtue, Angiras. 

To thee, O Agni, day by day. 

Do we with prayer at eve and dawn, 

Come, bringing lowly reverence ; 

To thee, the lord of sacrifice, 
And shining guardian of the rite,^ 
In thine own dwelling magnified. 

As if a father to his son, 

Be easy of access to us. 

And lead us onward to our weal. 

1 Or of time or order. 

AGNI. 109 

This is mechanical enough to have been made for an estab- 
lished ritual, as doubtless it was. But it is significant that the 
ritualistic gods are such that to give their true character 
hymns of this sort must be cited. Such is not the case with 
the older gods of the pantheon. Ritualistic as it is, however, 
it is simple. Over against it may be set the following (vi. 8) : 
" Now will I praise the strength of the variegated red bull 
(Agni), the feasts of the Knower-of-beings -^ (Agni) ; to Agni, 
the friend of all men, is poured out a new song, sweet to him 
as clear soma. As soon as he was born in highest heaven, 
Agni began to protect laws, for he is a guardian of law (or 
order). Great in strength, he, the friend of all men, measured 
out the space between heaven and earth, and in greatness 
touched the zenith ; he, the marvellous friend, placed apart 
heaven and earth ; with light removed darkness ; separated 
the two worlds like skins. Friend of all men, he took all might 
to himself. ... In the waters' lap the mighty ones (gods) 
took him, and people established him king. Matari^van, mes- 
senger of the all-shining one, bore him from afar, friend of all 
men. Age by age, O Agni, give to poets new glorious wealth 
for feasts. O ever-youthful king, as if with a ploughshare, 
rend the sinner ; destroy him with thy flame, like a tree ! But 
among our lords bring, O Agni, power unbent, endless strength 
of heroes ; and may we, through thy assistance, conquer wealth 
an hundredfold, a thousandfold, O Agni, thou friend of all ; 
with thy sure protection protect our royal lords, O helper, thou 
who hast three habitations ; guard for us the host of them 
that have been generous, and let them live on, friend of all, 
now that thou art lauded." 

Aryan, as Kuhn " has shown, is at least the conception if not 
the particular form of the legend alluded to in this hymn, of 
fire brought from the sky to earth, which Promethean act is 

1 Or ' Finder-of-beings.' 

2 Herabkunft des Fetters nttd des G'dttertrankes. 


attributed elsewhere to the fire-priest.^ Agni is here Mitra, 
the friend, as sun-god, and as such takes all the celestials' 
activities on himself. Like Indra he also gives personal 
strength : " Fair is thy face, O Agni, to the mortal that de- 
sires strength ; — they whom thou dost assist overcome their 
enemies all their lives" (vi. i6. 25, 27). Agni is drawn down 
to earth by means of the twirling-sticks, one the father, one 
the mother.^ "The bountiful wood bore the fair variegated 
son of waters and plants ; " the gods united in mind, and payed 
homage to the glorious mighty child when he was born " (iii. 
I. 13). As the son of waters, Agni loves wood but retreats to 
water, and he is so identified with Indra that he ' thunder's ' 
and 'gives rain' (as lightning; ii. 6. 5; iii. 9. 2). 

The deeper significance of Agni-worship is found not alone 
in the fact that he is the god in whom are the other gods, 
nor in that he is the sun alone, but that " I am Agni, immor- 
tality is in my mouth ; threefold my light, eternal fire, my 
name the oblation (fire)," iii, 26. 7. He is felt as a mysterious 
trinity. As a sun he lights earth ; and gives life, sustenance, 
children, and wealth (iii. 3. 7) ; as lightning he destroys, as 
fire he befriends ; like Indra he gives victory (iii. 16. i) ; like 
Varuna he releases the bonds of sin ; he is Varuna's brother 
(v. 2. 7; vi. 3. i; iv. I. 2); his 'many names' are often 
alluded to (iii. 20. 3, and above). The ritualistic interpreta- 
tion of the priest is that the sun is only a sacrificial fire above 
lighted by the gods as soon as the corresponding fire is 
lighted on earth by men (vi. 2.3). He is all threefold ; three 
his tongues, his births, his places ; thrice led about the sacri- 
fice given thrice a day (iii. 2. 9 ; 17. i ; 20. 2 ; iv. 15. 2 ; 

1 R\'. vi. 16. 13 : " Thee, Agni, from out the sky Atharvan twirled," 7itr amaiithata 
(cf. Promantheus). In x. 462 the Bhrigus, 0\e7i;at, discover fire. 

2 Compare v. 2. i. Sometimes Agni is "born with the fingers," which twirl the 
sticks (iii. 26. 3 ; iv. 6. 8). 

3 Compare ii. i : " born in flame from water, cloud, and plants . . . thou art the 

AGNI. Ill 

I. 7; 12. i). He is the upholder of the religious order, the 
guest of mortals, found by the gods in the heavenly waters ; he 
is near and dear ; but he also becomes dreadful to the foe 
(iii. 1.3-6; 6. 5 ; vi. 7. i ; 8. 2 ; iii. i. 23 ; 22. 5 ; vi. 3. 7; iii. 
18. I ; iv. 4. 4 ; 1.6). 

It is easy to see that in such a conception of a triune god, 
who is fearful yet kind, whose real name is unknown, while 
his visible manifestations are in earth, air, and heaven, whose 
being contains all the gods, there is an idea destined to over- 
throw, as it surpasses, the simpler conceptions of the natural- 
ism that precedes it. Agni as the one divine power of creation 
is in fact the origin of the human race : " From thee come 
singers and heroes" (vi. 7. 3). The less weight is, therefore, 
to be laid on Bergaigne's ' fire origin of man ' ; it is not as 
simple fire, but as universal creator that Agni creates man ; it 
is not the ' fire-principle ' ^ philosophically elicited from con- 
nection of fire and water, but as god-princijole, all-creative, 
that Agni gets this praise. 

Several hymns are dedicated to ludragm, Indra united with 
Agni ; and the latter even is identified with Dyaus (iv. i. 10), 
this obsolescent god reviving merely to be absorbed into Agni. 
As water purifies from dirt and sin (Varuna), so fire purifies 
(iv. 12. 4). It has been suggested on account of v. 12. 5 : 
'Those that were yours have spoken lies and left thee,' that 
there is a decrease in Agni worship. As this never really 
happened, and as the words are merely those of a penitent 
who has lied and seeks forgiveness at the hands of the god of 

1 Bergaigne, i. p. 32 ff. The question of priestly names (loc. cit. pp. 47-50), should 
start with Bharata as Tvpcpopos, a common title of Agni (ii, 7; vi. 16. 19-21). So 
Bhrigu is the 'shining' one; and Vasishtha is the 'most shining' (compare Vasus, 
not good but shining gods). The priests got their names from their god, like Jesuits. 
Compare Gritsamada in the Bhrigu family (book ii.) ; Vigva-mitra, 'friend of all,' in 
the Bharata family (book iii.) ; Gautama Vamadeva belonging to Angirasas (book iv.); 
Atri 'Eater,' epithet of Agni in RV. (book v.); Bharadvaja 'bearing food' (book 
vi.) ; Vasishtha (book vii.) ; and besides these Jamadagni and Kagyapa, ' black- 
toothed (Agni).' 


truth, the suggestion is not very acceptable. Agni comprehends 
not only all naturalistic gods, but such later femininities as Rever- 
ence, Mercy, and other abstractions, including Boundlessness. 

Of how great importance was the triune god Agni may be 
seen by comparing his three lights with the later sectarian 
trinity, where Vishnu, originally the sun, and (Rudra) ^iva, 
the lightning, are the preserver and destroyer. 

We fear the reader may have thought that we were develop- 
ing rather a system of mythology than a history of religion. 
With the close of the Vedic period we shall have less to say 
from a mythological point of view, but we think that it will 
have become patent now for what purpose was intended the 
mythological basis of our study. Without this it would have 
been impossible to trace the gradual growth in the higher 
metaphysical interpretation of nature which goes hand in hand 
with the deeper religious sense. With this object we have 
proceeded from the simpler to the more complex divinities. 
We have now to take up a side of religion which lies more 
apart from speculation, but it is concerned very closely with 
man's religious instincts — the worship of Bacchic character, 
the reverence for and fear of the death-god, and the eschato- 
logical fancies of the poets, together with those first attempts 
at creating a new theosophy which close the period of the 
Rig Veda. 


Inseparably connected with the worship of Indra and Agni 
is that of the 'moon-plant,' soma^ the intoxicating personified 
drink to whose deification must be assigned a date earlier than 
that of the Vedas themselves. For the soma of the Hindus is 
etymologically identified with the haoma of the Persians (the 
o,a(o/x.t of Plutarch),^ and the cultus at least was begun before 

1 De Isid. et Osir. 46. Compare Windischmann, Ueber den Sontaciiltiis der 
Arte}- (1846), and Muir, Original Sanskrit Texts, vol. ii. p. 471. Hillebrandt, 
Vedische Mytholoqie, i. p. 450. believes Jiaonia to mean the moon, as does soma in 
some hymns of the Rig Veda (see below). 

S0JL4. 113 

the separation of the two nations, since in each the plant is 
regarded as a god. The inspiring effect of intoxication seemed 
to be due to the inherent divinity of the plant that produced 
it ; the plant was, therefore, regarded as divine, and the 
preparation of the draught was looked upon as a sacred 

This offering of the juice of the so7;ia--p\ant in India was 
performed thrice daily. It is said in the Rig Veda that soma 
grows upon the mountain Miijavat, that its or his father is 
Parjanya, the rain-god, and that the waters are his sisters." 
From this mountain, or from the sky, accounts differ, soma 
was brought by a hawk." He is himself represented in other 
places as a bird ; and as a divinity he shares in the praise 
given to Indra, "who helped Indra to slay Vritra," the demon 
that keeps back the rain. Indra, intoxicated by soma, does 
his great deeds, and indeed all the gods depend on soma for 
immortalit}'. Divine, a weapon-bearing god, he often simply 
takes the place of Indra and other gods in Vedic eulogy. It 
is the god Soma himself who slays Vritra, Soma who over- 
throws cities, Soma who begets the gods, creates the sun, up- 
holds the sky, prolongs life, sees all things, and is the one best 
friend of god and man, the divine drop {jndii), the friend of 

As a god he is associated not only with Indra, but also with 
Agni, Rudra, and Piishan. A few passages in the later portion 
of the Rig Veda show that so7na already was identified with the 
moon before the end of this period. After this the lunar yellow 

1 Compare Kuhn, Hcrabkinift dcs Fcjicrs laid des Gottcrtra7ikcs (1859) ; Ber- 
gaigne, La Religion Vcdiqiic, i. 14S ff. ; Haug's Aitarcya BrdJimana, Introduction, 
p. 62 ; Whitney in Join-. Am. Or. Soc. iii. 299 ; Muir, Original Sanskrit Texts., vol. 
V. p. 258 iT., where other literature is cited. 

2 RV. X. 34. 1 ; ix. 98. 9 ; 82. 3. The Vedic plant is unknown (not the sarcostemma 

3 RV. iii. 43. 7 ; iv. 26. 6 (other references in I\Iuir. lo:. cit. p. 262. Perhaps rain 
as soma released by lightning as a hawk (Bloomfield). 

4 See the passages cited in Muir, loc. cit. 


god regularly was regarded as the visible and divine Soma of 
heaven, represented on earth by the plant. ^ 

From the fact that Soma is the moon in later literature, and 
undoubtedly is recognized as such in a small number of the 
latest passages of the Rig Veda, the not unnatural inference 
has been drawn by some Vedic scholars that Soma, in hymns 
still earlier, means the moon ; wherever, in fact, epithets 
hitherto supposed to refer to the plant may be looked upon as 
not incompatible with a description of the moon, there these 
epithets are to be referred directly to Soma as the moon-god, 
not to soma., the mere plant. Thus, with Rig Veda, x. 85 (a 
late hymn, which speaks of Soma as the moon " in the lap 
of the stars," and as "the days' banner") is to be compared 
vi. 39. 3, where it is said that the drop {soma) lights up the 
dark nights, and is the day's banner. Although this expression, 
at first view, would seem to refer to the moon alone, yet it may 
possibly be regarded as on a par with the extravagant praise 
given elsewhere to the so7na-'^\?iX\X, and not be so significant of 
the moon as it appears to be. Thus, in another passage of the 
same book, the so77ia, in similar language, is said to " lay light 
in the sun," a phrase scarcely compatible with the moon's 
sphere of activity." 

The decision in regard to this question of interpretation is 
not to be reached so easily as one might suppose, considering 
that a whole book, the ninth, of the Rig Veda is dedicated to 
Soma, and that in addition to this there are many hymns 
addressed to him in the other books. For in the greater num- 
ber of passages which may be cited for and against this theory 
the objector may argue that the generally extravagant praise 
bestowed upon Soma through the Veda is in any one case 

1 A complete account of soma as given by the Vedic texts will be found in Hille- 
brandt's Vedische Mythologie, vol. i., where are described the different ways of fer- 
menting the juice of the plant. 

2 Although so interpreted by Hillebrandt, loc. cit. p. 312. The passage is found in 
RV. vi. 44. 23. 

SOMA. 115 

merely particularized, and that it is not incongruous to say of 
the divine j'cw/^z-plant, "he lights the dark nights," when one 
reads in general that he creates all things, including the gods. 
On the other hand, the advocate of the theory may reply that 
everything which does not apply to the moon-god Soma may 
be used metaphorically of him. Thus, where it is said, '• Soma 
goes through the purifying sieve," by analogy with the drink 
of the plant soma passing through the sieve the poet may be 
supposed to imagine the moon passing through the sieve-like 
clouds ; and even when this sieve is expressly called the 
' sheep's-tail sieve' and 'wool-sieve,' this may still be, meta- 
phorically, the cloud-sieve (as, without the analogy, one speaks 
to-day of woolly clouds and the 'mare's tail '). 

So it happens that, with an hundred hymns addressed to 
Soma, it remains still a matter of discussion whether the so/zia 
addressed be the plant or the moon. Alfred Hillebrandt, to 
whom is due the problem in its present form, declares that 
everywhere-^ in the Rig Veda Soma means the moon. No 
better hymn can be found to illustrate the difficulty under 
which labors the soma-exegete than ix. 15, from which Hille- 
brandt takes the fourth verse as conclusive evidence that by 
soma only the moon is meant. In that case, as will be seen 
from the 'pails,' it must be supposed that the poet leaps from 
Soma to soma without warning. Hillebrandt does not include 
the mention of the pails in his citation ; but in this, as in other 
doubtful cases, it seems to us better to give a whole passage 
than to argue on one or two verses torn from their proper 
position : 

Hymn to Soma (ix. 15). 

Query : Is the hymn addressed to the plant as it is pressed out into the pails, or 
to the moon ? 

I. This one, by means of prayer (or intelligence), comes through the fine 
(sieve), the hero, with swift car, going to the meeting with Indra. 

1 Loc. cit. pp. 340, 450. 


2. Phis one thinks much for the sublime assembly of gods, where sit 


3. This one is despatched and led upon a shining path, when the active 

ones urge (him).i 

4. This one, shaking his horns, sharpens (them), the bull of the herd, 

doing heroic deeds forcibly. 

5. This one hastens, the strong steed, with bright golden beams, becoming 

of streams the lord. 

6. This one, pressing surely through the knotty (sieve .'') to good things, 

comes down into the vessels. 

7. This one, fit to be prepared, the active ones prepare in the pails, as he 

creates great food. 

8. Him, this one, who has good weapons, who is most intoxicating, ten 

fingers and seven (or many) prayers prepare. 

Here, as in ix. 70, Hillebrandt assumes that the poet turns 
suddenly from the moon to the plant. Against this might be 
urged the use of the same pronoun throughout the hymn. 
It must be confessed that at first sight it is almost as difficult 
to have the plant, undoubtedly meant in verses 7 and 8, repre- 
sented by the moon in the preceding verses, as it is not to see 
the moon in the expression ' shaking his horns.' This phrase 
occurs in another hymn, where Hillebrandt, with the same 
certainty as he does here, claims it for the moon, though the 
first part of this hymn as plainly refers to the plant, ix. 70. 
I, 4, Here the plant is a steer roaring like the noise of the 
Maruts (5-6), and then (as above, after the term steer is 
applied to the plant), it is said that he 'sharpens his horns,' 
and is 'sightly,' and further, 'he sits down in the fair place 
... on the wooly back,' etc., which bring one to still ah- 
other hymn where are to be found like expressions, used, evi- 
dently, not of the moon, but of the plant, viz.^ to ix. 37, a 
hymn not cited by Hillebrandt : 

1 Compare ix. 7'9. 5, where the same verb is used of striking, urging out the soma- 
juice, rasa. 

SOMA, 117 

This strong (virile) soma, pressed for drink, flows into the purifying 
vessel ; this sightly (as above, where Hillebrandt says it is epithet of the 
moon), yellow, fiery one, is flowing into the purifying vessel ; roaring into 
its own place (as above). This strong one, clear, shining (or purifying 
itself), runs through the shining places of the sky, slaying evil demons, 
through the sheep-hair-sieve. On the back of Trita this one shining (or 
purifying itself) made bright the sun with (his) sisters.^ This one, slaying 
Vritra, strong, pressed out, finding good things (as above), uninjured, soma, 
went as if for booty. This god, sent forth by seers, runs into the vessels, 
the drop {indii) for Indra, quickly (or willingly). 

So far as we can judge, after comparing these and the other 
passages that are cited by Hillebrandt as decisive for a lunar 
interpretation of so7na, it seems quite as probable that the 
epithets and expressions used are employed of the plant meta- 
phorically as that tne poet leaps thus lightly from plant to 
moon. And there is a number of cases which plainly enough 
are indicative of the plant alone to make it improbable that 
Hillebrandt is correct in taking Soma as the moon 'every- 
where in the Rig Veda.' It may be that the moon-cult is 
somewhat older than has been supposed, and that the language 
is consciously veiled in the ninth book to cover the worship 
of a deity as yet only partly acknowledged as such. But it is 
almost inconceivable that an hundred hymns should praise 
the moon ; and all the native commentators, bred as they were 
in the belief of their day that so77ia and the moon were one, 
should not know that sovia in tlie Rig Veda (as well as later) 
means the lunar deity. It seems, therefore, safer to abide by 
the belief that so7na usually means what it was understood to 
mean, and what the general descriptions in the j-<9;;/<^-hymns 
more or less clearly indicate, 7nz., the intoxicating plant, con- 
ceived of as itself divine, stimulating Indra, and, therefore, 
the causa 77iove7is of the demon's death, Indra being the causa 
efficie7is. Even the allusions to so77ia being in the sky is not 

1 Compare ix. 32. 2, where " Trita's maidens urge on the golden steed with the 
press-stones, indii as a drink for Indra." 


incompatible with this. For he is carried thence from the 
place of sacrifice. Thus too in 83. 1-2 : " O lord of prayer/ thy 
purifier (the sieve) is extended. Prevailing thou enterest its 
limbs on all sides. Raw {soma)., that has not been cooked (with 
milk) does not enter into it. Only the cooked {sofnd)^ goi^ig 
through, enters it. The sieve of the hot drink is extended in 
the place of the sky. Its gleaming threads extend on all sides. 
This {sojna's) swift (streams) preserve the man that purifies 
them, and wisely ascend to the back of the sky." In this, 
as in many hymns, the drink soma is clearly addressed ; yet 
expressions are used which, if detached, easily might be thought 
to imply the moon (or the sun, as with Bergaigne) — a fact 
that should make one employ other expressions of the same 
sort with great circumspection. 

Or, let one compare, with the preparation by the ten fingers, 
85. 7 : "Ten fingers rub clean (prepare) the steed in the 
vessels ; uprise the songs of the priests. The intoxicating 
drops, as they purify themselves, meet the song of praise and 
enter Indra." Exactly the same images as are found above 
may be noted in ix. 87, where not the moon, but the plant, 
is conspicuously the subject of the hymn : " Run into the pail, 
purified by men go unto booty. They lead thee like a swift 
horse with reins to the sacrificial straw, preparing (or rubbing) 
thee. With good weapons shines the divine (shining) drop 
(i7tdii), slaying evil-doers, guarding the assembly ; the father 
of the gods, the clever begetter, the support of the sky, the 
holder of earth. . . . This one, the so?fia (plant) on being 
pressed out, ran swiftly into the purifier like a stream let out, 
sharpening his two sharp horns like a buffalo ; like a true 
hero hunting for cows ; he is come from the highest press- 
stone," etc. It is the noise of so?na dropping that is compared 
with 'roaring.' The strength given by (him) the drink, makes 

1 On account of the position and content of this hymn, Hillebrandt regards it as 
addressed to Soma ^= Brihaspati. 

SOMA. 119 

him appear as the 'virile one,' of which force is the activity, 
and the bull the type. Given, therefore, the image of the bull, 
the rest follows easily to elaborate the metaphor. If one add 
that so7?ia is luminous (yellow), and that all luminous divinities 
are 'horned bulls,' ^ then it will be unnecessary to see the 
crescent moon in sojua. Moreover, if so??ta be the same with 
Brihaspati, as thinks Hillebrandt, why are there three horns in 
V. 43. 13 ? Again, that the expression ' sharpening his horns ' 
does not refer necessarily to the moon may be concluded from 
X. 86. 15, where it is stated expressly that the dri/ik is a sharp- 
horned steer : " Like a sharp-horned steer is thy brewed drink, 
O Indra," probably referring to the taste. The sun, Agni, 
and Indra are all, to the Vedic poet, 'sharp-horned steers,'^ 
and the sojfia plant, being luminous and strong (bull-like), gets 
the same epithet. 

The identity is rather with Indra than with the moon, if one 
be content to give up brilliant theorizing, and simply follow 
the poets : "The one that purifies himself yoked the sun's swift 
steed over man that he might go through the atmosphere, and 
these ten steeds of the sun he yoked to go, saying Indra is the 
drop (/;/(///)." ^ When had ever the moon the power to start the 
sun ? What part in the pantheon is played by the moon when 
it is called by its natural name (not by the priestly name, soma) ? 
Is 7?ids or cajidramas (moon) a power of strength, a great god .'' 
The words scarcely occur, except in late hymns, and the moon, 
by his own folk-name, is hardly praised except in mechanical 
conjunction with the sun. The floods of which so?7ia is lord 
are explained in ix. 86. 24-25 : "The hawk (or eagle) brought 
thee from the sky, O drop {mdu), . . . seven milk-streams 
sing to the yellow one as he purifies himself with the wave in 
the sieve of sheep's wool. The active strong ones have sent 

1 So the sun in i. 163. 9, 11. 'Sharpening his horns' is used of fire in i. 140. 6; 
V. 2. 9. 2 vi, 16. 39; vii. ig. i ; viii. 60. 13. 

3 ix. 63. 8-9 ; 5. 9. Soma is identified with lightning in ix. 47. 3. 


forth the wise seer in the lap of the waters." If one wishes 
to clear his mind in respect of what the Hindu attributes to 
the divine drink (expressly drink, and not moon), let him read 
ix. 104, where he will find that "the twice powerful god-rejoic- 
ing intoxicating drink" finds goods, finds a path for his friends, 
puts away every harmful spirit and every devouring spirit, averts 
the false godless one and all oppression ; and read also ix. 
21. 1-4 : "These j-^;;/<7-drops for Indra flow rejoicing, madden- 
ing, light- (or heaven-) finding, averting attackers, finding 
desirable things for the presser, making life for the singer. 
Like waves the drops flow into one vessel, playing as they 
will. These j-^^w^z-drops, let out like steeds (attached) to a 
car, as they purify themselves, attain all desirable things." 
According to ix. 97. 41 ^ and ib. 37. 4 (and other like passages, 
too lightly explained, p. 387, by Hillebrandt), it is soma that 
"produced the light in the sun" and "makes the sun rise," 
statements incompatible with the (lunar) Soma's functions, but 
quite in accordance with the magic power which the poets 
attribute to the divine drink. Soma is ' king over treasure.' 
Soma is brought by the eagle that all may ",see light" (ix. 48. 
3-4). He traverses the sky, and guards order — but not 
necessarily is he here the moon, for soDia, the drink, as a 
"galloping steed," "a brilliant steer," a "stream of pressed 
so7na,^' " a dear sweet," " a helper of gods," is here poured forth ; 
after him "flow great water-floods"; and he "purifies himself 
in the sieve, he the supporter, holder of the sky"; he "shines 
with the sun," "roars," and "looks like Alitra"; being here both 
"the intoxicating draught," and at the same time "the giver of 
kine, giver of men, giver of horses, giver of strength, the soul 
of sacrifice" (ix. 2). 

Soma is even older than the Vedic Indra as slayer of Vritra 
and snakes. Several Indo-Iranian epithets survive (of sojna 
and /iao7fm, respectively), and among those of Iran is the title 
* Vritra-slayer,' applied to hao7?ia, the others being 'strong' and 

SOMA. 121 

'heaven-winning,' just as in the Veda.-^ All three of them are 
contained in one of the most lunar-like of the hymns to Soma, 
which, for this reason, and because it is one of the few to this 
deity that seem to be not entirely mechanical, is given here 
nearly in full, with the original shift of metre in the middle of 
the hymn (which may possibly indicate that two hymns have 
been united). 

To Soma (i. 91). 

Thou, Soma, wisest art in understanding ; 

Thou guidest (us) along tlie straightest pathway; 
'Tis through thy guidance that our pious '-^ fathers 

Among the gods got happiness, O Indu. 

Thou, Soma, didst become in wisdom wisest; 

In skill 3 most skilful, thou, obtaining all things. 
A bull in virile strength, thou, and in greatness; 

In splendor wast thou splendid, man-beholder. 

Thine, now, the laws of kingly Varuna;* 

Both high and deep the place of thee, O Soma. 

Thou brilliant art as Mitra, the beloved, ^ 
Like Aryaman, deserving service, art thou. 

Whate'er thy places be in earth or heaven, 

Whate'er in mountains, or in plants and waters, 

In all of these, well-minded, not injurious. 

King Soma, our oblations meeting, take thou. 

Thou, Soma, art the real lord, , 

Thou king and Vritra-slayer, too ; 
Thou art the strength that gives success. 

1 Hukhratiis, vereihrajao, Jivaresa. ~ Or : wise. 

3 Or: strength. Above, 'shared riches,' perhaps, for 'got happiness.' 

4 Or : thine, indeed, are the laws of King Varuna. 

5 Or: brilliant and beloved as Mitra (Mitra means friend) ; Aryaman is translated 
'bosom-friend ' — both are Adityas. 


And, Soma, let it be thy will 
For us to live, nor let us die ; ^ 
, Thou lord of plants,- who lovest praise. 


Thou, Soma, bliss upon the old. 
And on the young and pious man 
Ability to live, bestowest. 

Do thou, O Soma, on all sides 
Protect us, king, from him that sins. 
No harm touch friend of such as thou. 

"Whatever the enjoyments be 
Thou hast, to help thy worshipper, 
With these our benefactor be. 

This sacrifice, this song, do thou, 
Well-pleased, accept ; come unto us ; 
Make for our weal, O Soma, thou. 

In songs we, conversant with words, 
O Soma, thee do magnify; 
Be merciful and come to us. 

*^ ^ -^ ^ ^ ^ % 
^I^ *^ *V^ ^T* 'T^ ^T* O 

All saps unite in thee and all strong powers, 

All virile force that overcomes detraction ; 
Filled full, for immortality, O Soma, 

Take to thyself the highest praise in heaven. 
The sacrifice shall all embrace — whatever 

Places thou hast, revered with poured oblations. 
Home-aider, Soma, furtherer with good heroes, 

Not hurting heroes, to our houses come thou. 
Soma the cow gives ; Soma, the swift charger ; 

Soma, the hero that can much accomplish 
(Useful at home, in feast, and in assembly 

His father's glory) — gives, to him that worships. 

1 Or : an thou wiliest for us to live we shall not die. 

2 Or : lordly plant, but not the moon. 

3 Some unessential verses in the above metre are here omitted. 

SOMA. 123 

In war unharmed ; in battle still a saviour ; 

Winner of heaven and waters, town-defender, 
Born mid loud joy, and fair of home and glory, 

A conqueror, thou ; in thee may we be happy. 
Thou hast, O Soma, every plant begotten ; 

The waters, thou; and thou, the cows; and thou hast 
Woven the wide space 'twixt the earth and heaven ; 

Thou hast with light put far away the darkness. 
With mind divine, O Soma, thou divine ^ one, 

A share of riches win for us, O hero ; 
Let none restrain thee, thou art lord of valor ; 

Show thyself foremost to both sides in battle.'^ 

Of more popular songs, Hillebrandt cites as sung to Soma(!) 
viii. 69. 8-10 : 

Sing loud to him, sing loud to him ; 
Priyamedhas, oh, sing to him. 
And sing to him the children, too; 
Extol him as a sure defence. . . . 
To Indra is the prayer up-raised. 

The three daily i-^;;z(^-oblations are made chiefly to Indra and 
Vayu ; to Indra at mid-day ; to the Ribhus, artisans of the 
gods, at evening ; and to Agni in the morning. 

Unmistakable references to Soma as the moon, as, for instance, 
in X. 85. 3 : " No one eats of that so??ia which the priests know," 
seem rather to indicate that the identification of moon and 
Soma was something esoteric and new rather than the received 
belief of pre-Vedic times, as will Hillebrandt. This moon- 
so7na is distinguished from the " j<?;?M-plant which they crush." 

The floods of scmia are likened to, or, rather, identified with, 
the rain-floods which the lightning frees, and, as it were, brings 
to earth with him. A whole series of myths depending on this 
natural phenomenon has been evolved, wherein the lightning- 

1 Or: shining. 

2 The same ideas are prominent in viii. 4S, where Soma is invoked as ' so7}ia that 
has been drunk,' i.e., the juice of the ('three days fermented') plant. 


fire as an eagle brings down SLW2a to man, that is, the heavenly 
drink. Since Agni is threefold and the Gayatri metre is three- 
fold, they interchange, and in the legends it is again the metre 
which brings the soina^ or an archer, as is stated in one doubt- 
ful passage.^ 

What stands out most clearly in j-^w^-laudations is that the 
j<7w^-hymns are not only quite mechanical, but that they presup- 
pose a very complete and elaborate ritual, with the employment 
of a number of priests, of whom the hotars (one of the various 
sets of priests) alone number five in the early and seven in the 
late books ; with a complicated service ; with certain divinities 
honored at certain hours ; and other paraphernalia of sacer- 
dotal ceremony ; while Indra, most honored with Soma, and 
Agni, most closely connected with the execution of sacrifice, 
not only receive the most hymns, but these hymns are, for the 
most part, palpably made for ritualistic purposes. It is this 
truth that the ritualists have seized upon and too sweepingly 
applied. For in every family book, besides this baksheesh 
verse, occur the older, purer hymns that have been retained 
after the worship for which they were composed had become 
changed into a trite making of phrases. 

Hillebrandt has failed to show that the Iranian haonia is 
the moon, so that as a starting-point there still is plant and 
drink-worship, not moon-worship. At what precise time, there- 
fore, the soma was referred to the moon is not so important. 
Since drink- worship stands at one end of the series, and moon- 
worship at the other, it is antecedently probable that here and 
there there may be a doubt as to which of the two was 
intended. Some of the examples cited by Hillebrandt may 
indeed be referable to the latter end of the series rather than 
to the former ; but that the author, despite the learning and 

1 In the fourth book, iv. 27. 3. On this myth, with its reasonable explanation as 
deduced from the ritual, see Bloomfield, JAOS. xvi. i ff. Compare also Muir and 
Hillebrandt, loc. cit. 

SOMA. 125 

ingenuity of his work, has proved his point definitively, we are 
far from believing. It is just like the later Hindu speculation 
to think out a subtle connection between moon and j'6'w^7-plant 
because each was yellow, and swelled, and went through a sieve 
(cloud), etc. But there is a further connecting link in that 
the divinity ascribed to the intoxicant led to a supposition 
that it was brought from the sky, the home of the gods ; above 
all, of the luminous gods, which the yellow soma resembled. 
Such was the Hindu belief, and from this as a starting-point 
appears to have come the gradual identification of soma with 
the moon, now called Soma. For the moon, even under the 
name of Gandharva, is not the object of especial worship. • ' 

The question so ably discussed by Hillebrandt is, however, 
one of considerable importance from the point of view of the 
religious development. If soma from the beginning was the 
moon, then there is only one more god of nature to add to 
the pantheon. But if, as we believe in the light of the Avesta 
and Veda itself, sojua., like haoma, was originally the drink- 
plant (the root sii., press, from which comes so?na, implies the 
plant), then two important facts follow. First, in the identifi- 
cation of yellow soma-^\2.wt witb yellow moon in the latter stage 
of the Rig Veda (which coincides with the beginning of the 
Brahmanic period) there is a striking illustration of the gradual 
mystical elevation of religion at the hands of the priests, to 
whom it appeared indecent that mere drink should be exalted 
thus ; and secondly, there is the significant fact that in the 
Indie and Iranian cult there was a direct worship of deified 
liquor, analogous to Dionysiac rites, a worship which is not 
unparalleled in other communities. Again, the surprising iden- 
tity of worship in Avesta and Veda, and the fact that hymns 
to the earlier deities. Dawn, Parjanya, etc., are frequently 
devoid of any relation to the soj?m-c\\\t, not only show that 
Bergaigne's opinion that the whole Rig Veda is but a collec- 
tion of hymns for i-f^w^-worship as handed down in different 


families must be modified ; but also that, as we have explained 
apropos of Varuna, the Iranian cult must have branched off 
from the Vedic cult (whether, as Haug thought, on account 
of a religious schism or not); that the hymns to the less popu- 
lar deities (as we have defined the word) make the first period 
of Vedic cult ; and that the special liquor-cult, common to Iran 
and India, arose after the first period of Vedic worship, when, 
for example, Wind, Parjanya, and Varuna were at their height, 
and before the priests had exalted mystically Agni or Soma, 
and even Indra was as yet undeveloped. 




In the last chapter we have traced the character of two 
great" gods of earth, the altar-fire and the personified kind of 
beer which was the Vedic poets' chief drink till the end of this 
period. With the discovery of surd^ Iiuinor ex hnrdeo (oryzaque ; 
Weber, Vdjapeya, p. 19), and the difficulty of obtaining the 
original soma-'p^2ir\t (for the plant used later for so7Jia, the ascle- 
pias acida, or sarcostemina viminale, does not grow in the Punjab 
region, and cannot have been the original somd)^ the status of 
soma became changed. While surd became the drink of the 
people, so7na, despite the fact that it was not now so agreeable 
a liquor, became reserved, from its old associations, as the 
priests' (gods') drink, a sacrosanct beverage, not for the vulgar, 
and not esteemed by the priest, except as it kept up the rite. 

It has been shown that these gods, earthly in habitation, 
absorbed the powers of the older and physically higher divini- 
ties. The ideas that clustered about the latter were transferred 
to the former. The altar-fire, Agni, is at once earth-fire, light- 
ning, and sun. The drink soma is identified with the heavenly 
drink that refreshes the earth, and from its color is taken at 
last to be the terrestrial form of its aqueous prototype, the 
moon, which is not only yellow, but even goes through cloud- 
meshes just as so7na goes through the sieve, with all the other 
points of comparison that priestly ingenuity can devise. 

Of different sort altogether from these gods is the ancient 
Indo-Iranian figure that now claims attention. The older 
religion had at least one object of devotion very difficult to 
reduce to terms of a nature-religion. 



Exactly as the Hindu had a half-divine ancestor, Manu, who 
by the later priests is regarded as of solar origin, while more 
probably he is only the abstract Adam (man), the progenitor 
of the race; so in Yama the Hindu saw the primitive "first 
of mortals." While, however, Mitra, Dyaus, and other older 
nature-gods, pass into a state of negative or almost forgotten 
activity, Yama, even in the later epic period, still remains a 
potent sovereign — the king of the dead. 

In the Avesta Yima is the son of the ' wide-o^leaminsr ' Vivan2:h- 
vant, the sun, and here it is the sun that first prepares the 
soma (Jiaoma) for man. And so, too, in the Rig Veda it is 
Yama the son of Vivasvant (x. 58. i ; 60. 10) who first "ex- 
tends the web" of {soma) sacrifice (vii. t^-^. 9, 12). The Vedic 
poet, not influenced by later methods of interpretation, saw 
in Yama neither sun nor moon, nor any other natural phe- 
nomenon, for thus he sings, differentiating Yama from them 
all : " I praise with a song Agni, Pushan, Sun and Moon, 
Yama in heaven, Trita, Wind, Dawn, the Ray of Light, the 
Twin Horsemen " (x. 64. 3); and again : " Deserving of lauda- 
tion are Heaven and Earth, the four-limbed Agni, Yama, 
Aditi," etc. (x. 92. 11). 

Yama is regarded as a god, although in the Rig Veda he is 
called only 'king' (x. 14. i, 11); but later he is expressly a 
god, and this is implied, as Ehni shows, even in the Rig Veda : 
'a god found Agni' and 'Yama found Agni' (x. 51. i if.). 
His primitive nature was that of the 'first mortal that died,' in 
the words of the Atharva Veda. It is true, indeed, that at a 
later period even gods are spoken of as originally 'mortal,'^ 
but this is a conception alien from the early notions of the 
Veda, where 'mortal' signifies no more than 'man.' Yama 

1 Compare Taitt. S. vii. 4. 2. i. The gods win immortality by means of ' sacrifice ' 
in this later priest-ridden period. 

VAMA. 129 

was the first mortal, and he lives in the sky, in the home that 
"holds heroes," Le., his abode is ^vhere dead heroes congregate 
(i. 35. 6; X. 64. 3).^ The fathers that died of old are cared 
for by him as he sits drinking with the gods beneath a fair 
tree (x. 135. 1-7). The fire that devours the corpse is invoked 
to depart thither (x. 16. 9). This place is not very definitely 
located, but since, according to one prevalent view, the saints 
guard the sun, and since Yama's abode in the sky is compar- 
able with the sun in one or two passages, it is probable that 
the general idea was that the departed entered the sun and 
there Yama received him (i. 105. 9, * my home is there where 
are the sun's rays'; x. 154. 4-5, 'the dead shall go, O Yama, 
to the fathers, the seers that guard the sun '). ' Yama's abode ' 
is the same v.ith 'sky' (x, 123. 6); and when it is said, 'may 
the fathers hold up the pillar (in the grave), and may Yama 
build a seat for thee there' (x. 18. 13), this refers, not to the 
grave, but to heaven. And it is said that ' Yama's seat is what 
is called the gods' home' (x. 135. 7).^ But Yama does not 
remain in the sky. He comes, as do other Powers, to the 
sacrifice, and is invited to seat himself ' with Angirasas and the 
fathers' at the feast, where he rejoices with them (x. 14. 3-4; 
15. 8). And either because Agni devours corpses for Yama, 
or because of Agni's part in the sacrifice which Yama so joy- 
fully attends, therefore Agni is especially mentioned as Yama's 
friend (x. 21. 5), or even his priest (/^. 52. 3). Yama stands 
in his relation to the dead so near to death that ' to go on 
Yama's path ' is to go on the path of death ; and battle is called 
'Yama's strife.' It is even possible that in one passage Yama 
is directly identified with death (x. 165. 4, 'to Yama be rever- 
ence, to death'; i. 38. 5; i7>. 116. 2).'" There is always a close 

1 Ludwig (iv. p. 134) wrongly understands a hell here. 

2 ' Yama's seat' is here what it is in the epic, not a chapel (Pischel), but a home. 

3 This may mean 'to Yama (and) to death.' In the Atharva Veda, v. 24. 13-14, 
it is said that Death is the lord of men ; Yama, of the Manes. 


connection between Varuna and Yama, and perhaps it is owing 
to this that parallel to ' Varuna"s fetters' is found also ' Yama's 
fetter,' /.<?., death (x. 97. 16). 

As Yama was the first to die, so was he the first to teach 
man the road to immortality, which lies through sacrifice, 
whereby man attains to heaven and to immortality. Hence 
the poet says, 'we revere the immortality born of Yama' 
(i. 83, 5). This, too, is the meaning of the mystic verse which 
speaks of the sun as the heavenly courser 'given by Yama,' 
for, in giving the way to immortality, Yama gives also the sun- 
abode to them that become immortal. In the same hymn the 
sun is identified with Yama as he is with Trita (i. 163. 3). 
This particular identification is due, however, rather to the 
developed pantheistic idea which obtains in the later hymns. 
A parallel is found in the next hymn: "They speak of Indra, 
]Mitra, Varuna, Agni . . . that which is one, the priests speak 
of in many ways, and call him Agni, Yama, Fire " (or Wind, 
i. 164. 46). 

Despite the fact that one Vedic poet speaks of Yama's name 
as 'easy to^mderstand ' (x. 12. 6), no little ingenuity has been 
spent on it, as well as on the primitive conception underlying 
his personality. Etymologically, his name means Twin, and 
this is probably the real meaning, for his twin sister Yami is 
also a Vedic personage. The later age, regarding Yama as a 
restrainer and punisher of the wicked, derived the name from 
yajH^ the restrainer or punisher, but such an idea is quite out 
of place in the province of Vedic thought. The Iranian Yima 
also has a sister of like name, although she does not appear 
till late in the literature. 

That Yama's father is the sun, Vivasvant (Savitar, 'the arti- 
ficer,' Tvashtar, x. 10. 4-5),^ is clearly enough stated in the 

1 It is here said, also, that the * Gandharva in the waters and tlie water-woman ' 
are the ties of consanguinity between Yama and Yami, which means, apparently, that 
their parents were ^Nloon and Water; a late idea, as in viii, 4S, 13 (unique). 

VAM.^.. 131 

Rik ; and that he was the first mortal, in the Atharvan, Men 
come from Yama, and Yama comes from the sun as 'creator,' 
just as men elsewhere come from Adam and Adam comes from 
the Creator. But instead of an Hebraic Adam and Eve there 
are in India a Yama and Yami, brother and sister (wife), who, 
in the one h3aTin in which the latter is introduced (Av. r//.), 
indulge in a moral conversation on the propriety of wedlock 
between brother and sister. This hymn is evidently a protest 
against a union that was unobjectionable to an older genera- 
tion. In the Yajur Yeda Yami is wife and sister both. But 
sometimes, in the varying fancies of the Y'edic poets, the arti- 
ficer Tvashtar is differentiated from Vivasvant, the sun ; as 
he is in another passage, where Tvashtar gives to Y^ivasvant 
his daughter, and she is the mother of Yama.^ 

That men are the children of Yama is seen in x. 13. 4, where 
it is said, ' Yama averted death for the gods ; he did not avert 
death for (his) posterity.' In the Brahmanic tradition men 
derive from the sun (Taitt. S. vi. 5. 6. 2).- So, in the Iranian 
belief, Yima is looked upon, according to some scholars, as the 
first man. The funeral hymn to Yama is as follows : 

Him who once went over the great mountains ^ and spied out a path for 
many, the son of Vivasvant, who collects men, King Yama, revere ye with 
oblations. Yama the first found us a way . . . There where our old fathers 
are departed. . . . Yama is magnified with the Angirasas. . . . Sit here, O 
Yama, with the Angirasas and with the fathers. . . . Rejoice, O king, in this 
oblation. Come, O Yama, with the venerable Angirasas. I call thy father, 
Vivasvant, sit down at this sacrifice. 

And then, turning to the departed soul : 

Go forth, go forth on the old paths where are gone our old fathers; 
thou shalt see both joyous kings, Yama and God Varuna. Unite with the 

1 The passage, X. 17. 1-2, is perhaps meant as a riddle, as Bloomfield suggests 
(JAOS. XV. p. 172). At any rate, it is still a dubious passage. Compare Hille- 
brandt. Vcdische MytJiolcgic^ i. p. 503. 

- Cited by Scherman, Vzsioiislitteratitr, p. 147. 

3 Possibly, '■ streams.' 


fathers, with Yama, with the satisfaction of desires, in highest heaven. . . . 
Yama will give a resting place to this spirit. Run past, on a good path, 
the two dogs of Sarama, the four-eyed, spotted ones ; go unto the fathers 
who rejoice with Yama. 

Several things are here noteworthy. In the first place, the 
Atharva Veda reads, "who first of mortals died,''-^ and this is 
the meaning of the Rig Veda version, although, as was said 
above, the mere fact that Varuna is called a god and Yama a 
king proves nothing." But it is clearly implied here that he 
who crossed the mountains and 'collected men,' as does Yima 
in the Iranian legend, is an ancient king, as it is also implied 
that he led the way to heaven. The dogs of Yama are 
described in such a way as to remind one of the dogs that 
guard the path the dead have to pass in the Iranian legend, 
and of Kerberus, with whose very name the adjective 'spotted' 
has been compared.^ The dogs are elsewhere described as 
white and brown and as barking (vii. 55. 2), and in further 
verses of the hymn just quoted (x. 14) they are called "thy 
guardian dogs, O Yama, the four-eyed ones who guard the path, 
v/ho look on men . . . broad-nosed, dark messengers of Yama, 
who run among the people." 

These dogs are due to the same fantasy that creates a Ker- 
berus, the Iranian dogs,^ or other guardians of the road that 
leads to heaven. The description is too minute to make it 
probable that the Vedic poet understood them to be 'sun and 
moon,' as the later Brahmanical ingenuity explains them, and 
as they have been explained by modern scholarship. It is not 
possible that the poet, had he had in mind any connection 

1 AV. xviii. 3. 13. 

2 Compare AV. vi. SS. 2 : •' King \'aruna and God Brihaspati," where both are 

3 K^p^epos (= Cabala) = Cdn'ara. Sarama is storm or dawn, or something else 
that means ' runner.' 

■t Here the fiend is expelled by a four-eyed dog or a white one which has yellow 
ears. See the Sacred Books of the East. iv. p. Ixxxvii. 

VAA/A. 133 

between the dogs and the sun and moon (or 'night and day'), 
would have described them as ' barking ' or as ' broad-nosed and 
dark'; and all interpretation of Yama's dogs must rest on the 
interpretation of Yama himself.-^ 

Yama is not mentioned elsew^here ^ in the Rig Veda, except 
in the statement that 'metres rest on Yama,' and in the closing 
verses of the burial hymn : " For Yama press the soma, for 
Yama pour oblation ; the sacrifice goes to Yama ; he shall 
extend for us a long life among the gods," where the pun on 
Yama (yamad a ), in the sense of 'stretch out,' shows that as 
yet no thought of 'restrainer' was in the poet's mind, although 
the sense of ' twin ' is lost from the name. 

In recent years Hillebrandt argues that because the Manes 
are connected with Soma (as the moon), and because Yama 
was the first to die, therefore Yama was the moon. Ehni, on 
the other hand, together with Bergaigne and some other 
scholars, takes Yama to be the sun. Miiller calls him the 
'setting-sun.'"" The argument from the Manes applies better 
to the sun than to the moon, but it is not conclusive. The 
Hindus in the Vedic age, as later, thought of the Manes living 
in stars, moon, sun, and air ; and, if they were not good Manes 
but dead sinners, in the outer edge of the universe or under 
ground. In short, they are located in every conceivable place.^ 

The Yama, 'who collects people,' has been rightly compared 
with the Yima, who 'made a gathering of the people,' but it 
is doubtful whether one should see in this an Aryan trait ; for 
"AiSt/s 'Ayy;crtAao5 is not early and popular, but late (Aeschylean), 

1 Scherman proposes an easy solution, namely to cut the description in two, and 
maks only part of it refer to the dogs ! (/oc. cit. p. 130). 

^ The dogs may be meant in i. 29. 3, but compare ii. 31. 5. Doubtful is i. 66. 8, 
according to Bergaigne, applied to Yama as fire. 

3 India, p. 224. 

•i Barth, p. 23, cites i. 125. 6 ; x. 107. 2 ; 82. 2, to prove that stars are souls of dead 
men. These passages do not prove the point, but it may be inferred from x. 68. 11. 
Later on it is a received belief. A moon-heaven is found only in viii. 48. 


and the expression may easily have arisen independently in the 
mind of the Greek poet. From a comparative point of view, 
in the reconstruction of Yama there is no conclusive evidence 
which will permit one to identify his original character either 
with sun or moon. Much rather he appears to be as he is in 
the Rig Veda, a primitive king, not historically so, but poeti- 
cally, the first man, fathered of the sun, to whom he returns, 
and in whose abode he collects his offspring after their inevita- 
ble death on earth. In fact, in Yama there is the ideal side 
of ancestor-worship. He is a poetic image, the first of all 
fathers, and hence their type and king. Yama's name is un- 
known outside of the Indo-Iranian circle, and though Ehni 
seeks to find traces of him in Greece and elsewhere,^ this 
scholar's identifications fail, because he fails to note that 
similar ideas in myths are no proof of their common origin. 

It has been suggested that in the paradise of Yama over the 
mountains there is a companion-piece to the hyperboreans, 
whose felicity is described by Pindar. The nations that came 
from the north still kept in legend a recollection of the land 
from whence they came. This suggestion cannot, of course, 
be proved, but it is the most probable explanation yet given 
of the first paradise to which the dead revert. In the late 
Vedic period, when the souls of the dead were not supposed 
to linger on earth with such pleasure as in the sky, Yama's 
abode is raised to heaven. Later still, when to the Hindu the 
south was the land of death, Yama's hall of judgment is again 
brought down to earth and transferred to the 'southern district.' 

The careful investigation of Scherman" leads essentially to 
the same conception of Yama as that we have advocated. 
Scherman believ^es that Yama was first a human figure, and 
was then elevated to, if not identified with, the sun. Scher- 
man's only error is in disputing the generally-received opinion, 

1 Especially with Ymir in Scandinavian mythology. 

2 Visionslitteratit7-. 1S92. 


VAJ/A. 135 

one that is on the whole correct, that Yama in the early period 
is a kindly sovereign, and in later times becomes the dread 
king of horrible hells. Despite some testimony to the con- 
trary, part of which is late interpolation in the epic, this is 
the antithesis which exists in the works of the respective 

The most important gods of the era of the Rig Veda we 
now have reviewed. But before passing on to the next period 
it should be noticed that no small number of beings remains 
who are of the air, devilish, or of the earth, earthy. Like the 
demons that injure man by restraining the rain in the clouds, 
so there are bhuts^ ghosts, spooks, and other lower powers, 
some malevolent, some good-natured, who inhabit earth ; whence 
demonology. There is, furthermore, a certain chrematheism, 
as we have elsewhere ^ ventured to call it, which pervades the 
Rig Veda, the worship of more or less personified things, dif- 
fering from pantheism in this,- that whereas pantheism assumes 
a like divinity in all things, this kind of theism assumes that 
everything (or anything) has a separate divinity, usually that 
which is useful to the worshipper, as, the plough, the furrow, 
etc. In later hymns these objects are generally of sacrificial 
nature, and the stones with which soma is pressed are divine 
like the, plant. Yet often there is no sacrificial observance to 
cause this veneration. Hymns are addressed to weapons, to 
the war-car, as to divine beings. Sorcery and incantation is 
not looked upon favorably, but nevertheless it is found. 

Another class of divinities includes abstractions, generally 
female, such as Infinity, Piety, Abundance, with the barely-men- 
tioned Gungu, Raka, etc. (which may be moon-phases). The 

1 Henotheism in the Rig Veda, p. 8i. 

2 This religious phase is often confounded loosely with pantheism, but the dis- 
tinction should be observed. Parkman speaks of (American) Indian 'pantheism ' ; 
and Barth speaks of rituahstic ' pantheism,' meaning thereby the deification of differ- 
ent objects used in sacrifice Cp. 37, note). But chrematheism is as distinct from 
pantheism as it is from fetishism. 


most important of these abstractions ^ is ' the lord of strength,' a 
priestly interpretation of Indra, interpreted as religious strength 
or prayer, to whom are accredited all of Indra's special acts. 
Hillebrandt interprets this god, Brahmanaspati or Brihaspati, as 
the moon ; Miiller, somewhat doubtfully, as fire ; while Roth 
will not allow that Brihaspati has anything to do with natural 
phenomena, but considers him to have been from the beginning 
' lord of prayer.' With this view we partly concur, but we would 
make the important modification that the god was lord of prayer 
only as priestly abstraction of Indra in his higher development. 
It is from this god is come probably the head of the later trinity, 
Brahma, through personified bra/wia, power, prayer, with its 
philosophical development into the Absolute. Noteworthy is 
the fact that some of the Vedic Aryans, despite his high pre- 
tensions, do not quite like Brihaspati, and look on him as a 
suspicious novelty. If one study Brihaspati in the hymns, it 
will be difficult not to see in him simply a sacerdotal Indra. 
He breaks the demon's power ; crushes the foes of man ; con- 
sumes the demons with a sharp bolt ; disperses darkness ; 
drives forth the 'cows'; gives offspring and riches ; helps in 
battle ; discovers Dawn and Agni ; has a band (like Maruts) 
singing about him ; he is red and golden, and is identified with 
fire. Although 'father of gods,' he is begotten of Tvashtar, 
the artificer.- 

Weber has suggested (Vajapeya Sacrifice, p. 15), that Brihas- 
pati takes Indra's place, and this seems to be the true solution, 
Indra as interpreted mystically by priests. In RV. i. 190, Bri- 
haspati is looked upon by 'sinners' as a new god of little value. 
Other minor deities can be mentioned only briefly, chiefly that 
the extent of the pantheon may be seen. For the history of 

1 Some seem to be old ; thus Aramati, piety, has an Iranian representative, Ar- 
maiti. As mascuUne abstractions are to be added Anger, Death, etc. 

2 Compare iv. 50; ii. 23 and 24; v. 43. 12; x. 68. 9: ii. 26. 3 : 23. 17; x. 97. 15. 
For interpretation compare Hillebrandt, Ved. Myth. i. 409-420 ; Bergaigne, La Rcl. 
Ved. i. 304 ; Muir, OST. v. 272 ff. (with previous literature). 

YAMA. 137 

religion they are of only collective importance. The All-gods 
play an important part in the sacrifice, a group of 'all the 
gods,' a priestly manufacture to the end that no god may be 
omitted in laudations that would embrace all the gods. The 
later priests attempt to identify these gods with the clans, ' the 
All-gods are the clans' i^Cat. Br. v. 5. i. 10), on the basis of a 
theological pun, the clans, vicas, being equated with the word 
for all, 2nfve. Some modern scholars follow these later priests, 
but without reason. Had these been special clan-gods, they 
would have had special names, and would not have appeared 
in a group alone. 

The later epic has a good deal to say about some lovely 
nymphs called the Apsarasas, of whom it mentions six as chief 
(Urva^i, Menaka, etc.).-^ They fall somewhat in the epic from 
their Vedic estate, but they are never more than secondary 
figures, love-goddesses, beloved of the Gandharvas who later 
are the singing guardians of the moon, and, like the lunar 
stations, twenty-seven in number. The Rik knows at first but 
one Gandharva (an inferior genius, mentioned in but one 
family-book), who guards Soma's path, and, when Soma be- 
comes the moon, is identified with him, ix. 86. 36. As in the 
Avesta, Gandharva is (the moon as) an evil spirit also ; but 
always as a second-rate power, to whom are ascribed magic 
(and madness, later). He has virtually no cult except in sofna- 
hymns, and shows clearly the first Aryan conception of the 
moon as a demoniac power, potent over women, and associated 
wdth waters. 

Mountains, and especially rivers, are holy, and of course 
are deified. Primitive belief generally deifies rivers. But in 
the great river-hymn in the Rig Veda there is probably as much 
pure poetry as prayer. The Vedic poet half believed in the 
rivers' divinity, and sings how they 'rush forth like armies,' 
but it will not do to inquire too strictly in regard to his belief. 

1 Mbhd. i. 74. 6S. Compare Holtzmann, ZDMG. xxxiii. 631 ff. 


He was a poet, and did not expect to be catechized. Of 
female divinities there are several of which the nature is doubt- 
ful. As Dawn or Storm have been interpreted Sarama and 
Saranyu, both meaning 'runner.' The former is Indra's dog, 
and her litter is the dogs of Yama. One little poem, rather 
than hymn, celebrates the ' wood-goddess ' in pretty verses of 
playful and descriptive character. 

Long before there was any formal recognition of the dogma 
that all gods are one, various gods had been identified by the 
Vedic poets. Especially, as most naturally, was this the case 
when diverse gods having different names were similar in any 
way, such as Indra and Agni, whose glory is fire ; or Varuna 
and Mitra, whose seat is the skv. From this casual union of 
like pairs comes the peculiar custom of invoking two gods as 
one. But even in the case of gods not so radically connected, 
if their functions were mutually approximate, each in turn 
became credited with his neighbor's acts. If the traits were 
similar which characterized each, if the circles of activity over- 
lapped at all, then those divinities that originally were tangent 
to each other gradually became concentric, and eventually 
were united. And so the lines between the gods were wiped 
out, as it were, by their conceptions crowding upon one an- 
other. There was another factor, however, in the development 
of this unconscious, or, at least, unacknowledged, pantheism. 
Aided by the likeness or identity of attributes in Indra, Savitar, 
Agni, Mitra, and other gods, many of which were virtually the 
same under a different designation, the priests, ever prone to 
extravagance of word, soon began to attribute, regardless of 
strict propriety, every power to every god. With the exception 
of some of the older divinities, whose forms, as they are less 
complex, retain throughout the simplicity of their primitive 
character, few gods escaped this adoration, which tended to 
make them all universally supreme, each being endowed with 
all the attributes of godhead. One might think that no better 

VAA/A. 139 

fate could happen to a god than thus to be magnified. But 
when each god in the pantheon was equally glorified, the effect 
on the whole was disastrous. In fact, it was the death of the 
gods whom it was the intention of the seers to exalt. And 
the reason is plain. From this universal praise it resulted 
that the individuality of each god became less distinct ; every 
god was become, so to speak, any god, so far as his peculiar 
attributes made him a god at all, so that out of the very praise 
that was given to him and his confreres alike there arose the 
idea of the abstract godhead, the god who was all the gods, 
the one god. As a pure abstraction one finds thus Aditi, 
as equivalent to 'all the gods,'^ and then the more personal 
idea of the god that is father of all, which soon becomes 
the purely personal All-god. It is at this stage where begins 
conscious premeditated pantheism, which in its first begin- 
nings is more like monotheism, although in India there is no 
monotheism which does not include devout polytheism, as will 
bs seen in the review of the formal philosophical systems of 

It is thus that we have attempted elsewhere ^ to explain that 
phase of Hindu religion which Miiller calls henotheism. 

Miiller, indeed, would make of henotheism a new religion, but 
this, the worshipping of each divinity in turn as if it were the 
greatest and even the only god recognized, is rather the result 
of the general tendency to exaltation, united with pantheistic 
beginnings. Granting that pure polytheism is found in a few 
hymns, one may yet say that this polytheism, with an accom- 
paniment of half-acknowledged chrematheism, passed soon into 
the belief that several divinities were ultimately and essentially 
but one, which may be described as homoiotheism ; and that 
the poets of the Rig Veda were unquestionably esoterically 

1 i. 89. 10: "Aditi is all the gods and men; Aditi is whatever has been born; 
Aditi is whatever will be born."' 

2 Henotheism in the Rig Veda (Drisler Memorial), 


unitarians to a much greater extent and in an earlier period 
than has generally been acknowledged, ^lost of the hymns 
of the Rig Veda were composed under the influence of that 
unification of deities and tendency to a quasi-monotheism, 
w^hich eventually results both in philosophical pantheism, and 
in the recognition at the same time of a personal first cause. 
To express the difference between Hellenic polytheism and 
the polytheism of the Rig Veda the latter should be called, if 
by any new term, rather by a name like pantheistic polytheism, 
than by the somewhat misleading word henotheism. What is 
novel in it is that it represents the fading of pure polytheism 
and the engrafting, upon a polytheistic stock, of a speculative 
homoiousian tendency soon to bud out as philosophic pan- 

The admission that other gods exist does not nullify the 
attitude of tentative monotheism. " Who is like unto thee, O 
Lord, among the gods ? " asks Moses, and his father-in-law, 
when converted to the new belief, says : " Now I know that 
the Lord is greater than all gods."^ But this is not the quasi- 
monotheism of the Hindu, to whom the other gods were real 
and potent factors, individually distinct from the one supreme 
god, who represents the All-god, but is at once abstract and 

Pantheism in the Rig Veda comes out clearly onl}" in one or 
two passages : " The priests represent in many ways the (sun) 
bird that is one"; and (cited above) "They speak of him as 
Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni, . . . that which is but one they 
call variously." So, too, in the Atharvan it is said that Varuna 
(here a pantheistic god) is "in the little drop of water,"- as 
in the Rik the spark of material fire is identified with the sun. 

The new belief is voiced chiefly in that portion of the Rig 
Veda which appears to be latest and most Brahmanic in tone. 

1 Ex. XV. II ; xviii. ii. 

2 RV. X. 114. 5 ; i. 164. 46; AV. iv. 16. 3. 

VAA/A. 141 

Here a supreme god is described under the name of " Lord 
of Beings," the "All-maker," "The Golden Garm," the "God 
over gods, the spirit of their being" (x. 121). The last, a 
famous hymn, Miiller entitles " To the Unknown God." It 
may have been intended, as has been suggested, for a theo- 
logical puzzle,^ but its language evinces that in whatever form 
it is couched — each verse ends with the refrain, 'To what god 
shall we offer sacrifice ? ' till the last verse answers the ques- 
tion, saying, 'the Lord of beings' — it is meant to raise the 
question of a supreme deity and leave it unanswered in terms 
of a nature-religion, though the germ is at bottom fire : " In 
the beginning arose the Golden Germ ; as soon as born he 
became the Lord of All. He established earth and heaven — 
to what god shall we offer sacrifice ? He who gives breath, 
strength, whose command the shining gods obey ; whose shadow 
is life and death. . . . When the great waters went everywhere 
holding the germ and generating light, then arose from them 
the one spirit (breath) of the gods. . . . May he not hurt us, 
he the begetter of earth, the holy one who begot heaven . . . 
Lord of beings, thou alone embracest all things . . ." 

In this closing period of the Rig Veda — a period which in 
many ways, the sudden completeness of caste, the recognition 
of several Vedas, etc., is much farther removed from the begin- 
ning of the work than it is from the period of Brahmanic specu- 
lation — philosophy is hard at work upon the problems of the 
origin of gods and of being. As in the last hymn, water is the 
origin of all things ; out of this springs fire, and the wind which 
is the breath of god. So in the great hymn of creation : " There 
was then neither not-being nor being ; there was no atmosphere, 
no sky. What hid (it) ? Where and in the protection of what ? 
Was it w^ater, deep darkness ? There was no death nor immor- 
tality. There was no difference between night and day. That 
One breathed . . . nothing other than this or above it existed. 

1 Bloomfiel4, JAOS. xv. 1S4. 


Darkness was concealed in darkness in the beginning. Undif- 
f2rentiated water was all this (universe)." Creation is then 
declared to have arisen by virtue of desire, which, in the 
be^rinnino^ was the ori^rin of mind;-^ and "the o-ods," it is said 
further, "were created after this." Whether entity springs 
from non-entity or vice versa is discussed in another hymn of 
the same book.'-^ The most celebrated of the pantheistic 
hymns is that in which the universe is regarded as portions of 
the deity conceived as the primal Person: "Purusha (the Male 
Person) is this all, what has been and will be . . . all created 
things are a fourth of him ; that which is immortal in the sky 
is three-fourths of him." The hymn is too well known to be 
quoted entire. All the castes, all gods, all animals, and the 
three (or four) Vedas are parts of him.^ 

Such is the mental height to which the seers have raised 
themselves before the end of the Rig Veda. The figure of 
the Father-god, Prajapati, ' lord of beings,' begins here ; at 
first an epithet of Savitar, and finally the type of the head of a 
pantheon, such as one finds him to be in the Brahmanas. In 
one hymn only (x. 121) is Prajapati found as the personal 
Father-god and All-god. At a time when philosophy created 
the one Universal Male Person, the popular religion, keeping 
pace, as far as it could, with philosophy, invented the more 
anthropomorphized, more human. Father-god — whose name is 
ultimately interpreted as an interrogation, God Who ? This trait 
lasts from now on through all speculation. The philosopher 
conceived of a first source. The vulgar made it a personal god. 

One of the most remarkable hymns of this epoch is that on 
Vac, Speech, or The W^ord. Weber has sought in this the 
prototype of the Logos doctrine (below). The Word, Vac 
(feminine) is introduced as speaking (x. 125): 

1 " Desire, the primal seed of mind," x. 129. 4. 

2 X. 72 (contains also the origin of the gods from Aditi). 

3 X. 90. Here chatiddinsi, carmina, is probably the Atharvan. 

MANES. 143 

I wander with the Rudras, with the Vasus,^ with the Adityas, and with 
all the gods ; I support Mitra, Varuna, Indra-Agni, and the twin A9vins. . . . 
I give wealth to him that gives sacritice, to him that presses the so??ia. I 
am the queen, the best of those worthy of sacrifice. . . . The gods have 
put me in many places. ... I am that through which one eats, breathes, 
sees, and hears. . . . Him that I love I make strong, to be a priest, a seer, 
a wise man. 'Tis I bend Rudra's bow to hit the unbeliever; I prepare war 
for the people ; I am entered into heaven and earth. I beget the father of 
this (all) on the height ; my place is in the waters, the sea ; thence I extend 
myself among all creatures and touch heaven with my crown. Even I blow 
like the wind, encompassing all creatures. Above heaven and above earth, 
so great am I grown in majesty. 

This is almost Vedantic pantheism with the Vishnuite doc- 
trine of ' special grace ' included. 

The moral tone of this period — if period it may be called — • 
may best be examined after one has studied the idea which the 
Vedic Hindu has formed of the life hereafter. The happiness 
of heaven will be typical of what he regards as best here. 
Bliss beyond the grave depends in turn upon the existence of 
the spirit after death, and, that the reader may understand this, 
we must say a few words in regard to the Manes, or fathers 
dead. " Father Manu," as he is called," was the first ' Man.' 
Subsequently he is the secondary parent as a kind of Noah ; 
but Yama, in later tradition his brother, has taken his place 
as norm of the departed fathers, Pitaras. 

These Fathers (Manes), although of different sort than the 
gods, are yet divine and have many godly powers, granting 
prayers and lending aid, as may be seen from this invocation : 
" O Fathers, may the sky-people grant us life ; may we follow 
the course of the living" (x. 57. 5). One whole hymn is 
addressed to these quasi-divinities (x. 15): 

1 Rudras. Vasus, and Adityas, the three famous groups of gods. The Vasus are 
in Indra's train, the 'shining,' or, perhaps, 'good' gods. 

- ii. -^T,. 13; X. 100. 5, etc. If the idea of manus = bonus be rejected, the Latin 
manes may be referred to manavas, the children of INIanu. 


Arise may the loAvest, the highest, the middlemost Fathers, those worthy 
of the soma, who without harm have entered into the spirit (-world) ; may 
these Fathers, knowing the seasons, aid us at our call. This reverence be 
to-day to the Fathers, who of old and afterwards departed ; those who have 
settled in an earthly sphere, ^ or among peoples living in fair places (the 
gods?). I have found the gracious Fathers, the descendant(s) and the 
wide-step - of Vishnu ; those who, sitting on the sacrificial straw, willingly 
partake of the pressed drink, these are most apt to come hither. . . . Come 
hither with blessings, O Fathers; may they come hither, hear us, address 
and bless us. . . . May ye not injure us for whatever impiety we have as 
men committed. . . . With those who are our former Fathers, those worthy 
of soma, who are come to the so)}ia drink, the best (fathers), may Yama 
rejoicing, willingly with them that are willing, eat the oblations as much as 
is agreeable (to them). Come running, O Agni, with these (fathers), who 
thirsted among the gods and hastened hither, finding oblations and praised 
with songs. These gracious ones, the real poets, the P^athers that seat 
themselves at the sacrificial heat ; who are real eaters of oblation ; drinkers 
of oblation ; and are set together on one chariot with Indra and the gods. 
Come, O Agni, with these, a thousand, honored like gods, the ancient, the 
original Fathers who seat themselves at the sacrificial heat. . . . Thou, Agni, 
didst give the oblations to the Fathers, that eat according to their custom ; 
do thou (too) eat, O god, the oblation offered (to thee). Thou knowest, 
O thou knower (or finder) of beings, how many are the Fathers — those 
who are here, and who are not here, of whom we know, and of whom we 
know not. According to custom eat thou the well-made sacrifice. With 
those who, burned in fire or not burned, (noAv) enjoy themselves according 
to custom in the middle of the sky, do thou, being the lord, form (for us) 
a spirit life, a body according to (our) wishes.^ 

Often the Fathers are invoked in similar language in the 
hymn to the " All-gods " mentioned above, and occasionally 
no distinction is to be noticed between the powers and attri- 
butes of the Fathers and those of the gods. The Fathers, like 
the luminous gods, "give light" (x. 107. i). Exactly like the 
gods, they are called upon to aid the living, and even ' not to 

1 Or : " in an earthly place, in the atmosphere, or," etc. 

" That is where the Fathers live. This is the only place where the Fathers are 
said to be napdt (descendants) of Vishnu, and here the sense may be " I have discov- 
ered Ncipdt (fire?) "' But in i. 154. 5 Vishnu's worshippers rejoice in his home. 

3 Or : '• form as thou wilt this body (of a corpse) to spirit life," 

HE A VEN. 145 

harm' (iii. 55. 2; x. 15. 6). x\ccording to one verse, the 
Fathers have not attained the greatness of the gods, who 
impart strength only to the gods.^ 

The Fathers are kept distinct from the gods. When the 
laudations bestowed upon the former are of unequivocal char- 
acter there is no confusion between the two.' 

The good dead, to get to the paradise awaiting them, pass 
over water (X. 63. 10), and a bridge (ix. 41. 2). Here, by the 
gift of the gods, not by inherent capacity, they obtain immor- 
tality. He that believes on Agni, sings : " Thou puttest the 
mortal in highest immortality, O Agni"; and, accordingly, 
there is no suggestion that heavenly joys may cease ; nor is 
there in this age any notion of a Gdtterddm7nerimg. Immortality 
is described as "continuing life in the highest sky," another 
proof that when formulated the doctrine was that the soul of 
the dead lives in heaven or in the sun.^ 

Other cases of immortality granted by different gods are 
recorded by Muir and Zimmer. Yet in one passage the words, 
"two paths I have heard of the Fathers (exist), of the gods 
and of mortals," may mean that the Fathers go the way of 
mortals or that of gods, rather than, as is the usual interpreta- 
tion, that mortals have two paths, one of the Fathers and one 
of the gocis,** for the dead may live on earth or in the air as 
well as in heaven. When a good man dies his breath, it is 
said, goes to the wind, his eye to the sun, etc.^ — each part to 
its appropriate prototype — while the "unborn part" is carried 

1 x. 56. 4 ; otherwise, Grassmann. 

2 vi. 75. 9 refers to ancestors on earth, not in heaven. 

3 Compare Muir, OST. v. 285, where i. 125. 5 is compared with x. 107. 2: 
'•The gift-giver becomes immortal; the gift-giver lives in the sky; he that gives 
horses lives in the sun." Compare Zimmer, Altind. Lcben, p. 409; Geiger. Ostiraii. 
Cicliur, p. 290. 

4 X. 88. 15, word for word : "two paths heard of the Fathers I, of the gods and of 
mortals." Cited as a mystery. Brih. Aran. Up. vi. 2. 2. 

5 X. 16. 3 : '"if thou wilt go to the waters or to the plants," is added after this (in 
addressing the soul of the dead man). Plant-souls occur again in x. 58. 7. 


"to the world of the righteous," after having been burned and 
heated by the funeral fire. All these parts are restored to the 
soul, however, and Agni and Soma return to it what has been 
injured. With this Muir compares a passage in the Atharva 
Veda where it is said that the Manes in heaven rejoice with all 
their limbs." We dissent, therefore, wholly from Barth, who 
declares that the dead are conceived of as " restins: forever in 
the tomb, the narrow house of clay." The only passage cited 
to prove this is x. i8. 10-13, where are the words (addressed to 
the dead man at the burial) : " Go now to mother earth . . . she 
shall guard thee from destruction's lap. . . , Open wide, O earth, 
be easy of access ; as a mother her son cover this man, O earth," 
etc. Ending with the verse quoted above : " May the Fathers 
hold the pillar and Yam a there build thee a seat." ^ The fol- 
lowing is also found in the Rig Veda bearing on this point : the 
prayer that one may meet his parents after death ; the state- 
ment that a generous man goes to the gods ; and a suggestion 
of the later belief that one wins immortality by means of 
a son.'"^ 

The joys of paradise are those of earth ; and heaven is thus 
described, albeit in a late hymn :^ "Where is light inexhaust- 
ible ; in the world where is placed the shining sky ; set me 
in this immortal, unending world, O thou that purifiest thyself 
(Soma) ; where is king (Yama), the son of Vivasvant, and the 
paradise of the sky ; ^ where are the flowing waters ; there 
make me immortal. Where one can go as he will ; in the 
third heaven, the third vault of the skv: where are worlds full 
of light, there make me immortal ; where are wishes and desires 

1 AV. xviii. 4. 64 ; Muir, loc. cit. p. 298. A passage of the Atharvan suggests that 
the dead may have been exposed as in Iran, but there is no trace of this in the Rig 
Veda (Zimmer, loc. cit. p. 402). 

'^ Barth, Vedic Religions, p. 23; ib.. the narrow 'house of clay.' RV. vii, 89. i. 

3 i. 24. I ; i. 125. 6; vii. 56. 24 ; cited by Miiller, Chips, i. p. 45, 

4 ix. 113. 7 ff. 

5 Avarodhanain divas, ' enclosure of the sky.' 

HELL. 147 

and the red (sun)'s highest place ; where one can follow his 
own habits^ and have satisfaction ; there make me immortal ; 
where exist delight, joy, rejoicing, and joyance ; where wishes 
are obtained, there make me immort'al."- Here, as above, 
the saints join the Fathers, -who guard the sun.' 

There is a ' bottomless darkness ' occasionally referred to 
as a place where evil spirits are to be sent by the gods ; and 
a ' deep place ' is mentioned as the portion of ' evil, false, un- 
truthful men'; w^iile Soma casts into 'a hole' (abyss) those 
that are irreligious.^ 

As darkness is hell to the Hindu, and as in all later time 
the demons are spirits of darkness, it is rather forced not to 
see in these allusions a misty hell, without torture indeed, but 
a place for the bad either 'far away,' as it is sometimes said 
(/c7;mYf//), or 'deep down,' 'under three earths,' exactly as the 
Greek has a hell below and one on the edge of the earth. 
Ordinarily, however, the gods are requested simply to annihilate 
offenders. It is plain, as Zimmer says, from the office of Yama's 
dogs, that they kept out of paradise unworthy souls ; so that the 
annihilation cannot have been imagined to be purely corporeal. 
But heaven is not often described, and hell never, in this period. 
Yet, when the paradise desired is described, it is a place where 
earthly joys are prolonged and intensified. Zimmer argues 
that a race which believes in good for the good hereafter must 
logically believe in punishment for the wicked, and Scherman, 
strangely enough, agrees with this pedantic opinion."* If either 
of these scholars had looked away from India to the western 
Indians he would have seen that, whereas almost all American 

1 Literally, 'where custom' (obtains), i.e., where the old usages still hold, 

2 The last words are to be understood as of sensual pleasures (^Ivivijoc. at. p. 307, 
notes 462, 463). 

3 RV. ii. 29. 6 ; vii. 104. 3. 17 ; iv. 5. 5 ; ix. "jt,. 8, Compare I\Iuir, loc. cit. pp. 311- 
312 ; and Zimmer, loc. cit. pp. 40S, 418. Yama's 'hero-holding abode' is not a hell, 
as Ludwig thinks, but, as usual, the top vault of heaven. 

•i Loc. cit. p. 123. 


Indians believe in a happy hereafter for good warriors, only 
a very few tribes have any belief in punishment for the bad. 
At most a Niflheim awaits the coward. Weber thinks the 
Aryans already believed in a personal immortality, and we 
agree with him. Whitney's belief that hell was not known 
before the Upanishad period (in his translations of the Katha 
Upanishad) is correct only if by hell torture is meant, and if 
the Atharvan is later than this Upanishad, which is im- 

The good dead in the Rig Veda return wdth Yama to the 
sacrifice to enjoy the sojna and viands prepared for them by 
their descendants. Hence the whole belief in the necessity 
of a son in order to the obtaining of a joyful hereafter. What 
the rite of burial was to the Greek, a son was to the Hindu, 
a means of bliss in heaven. Roth apparently thinks that the 
Rig Veda's heaven is one that can best be described in Dr. 

Watt's hymn : 

There is a land of pure delight 
Where saints immortal reign, 
Eternal day excludes the night, 
And pleasures banish pain ; 

and that especial stress should be laid on the w^ord ' pure.' But 
there is very little teaching of personal purity in the Veda, and 
the poet who hopes for a heaven where he is to find ' longing 
women,' 'desire and its fulfillment' has in mind, in all proba- 
bility, purely impure delights. It is not to be assumed that the 
earlier morality surpassed that of the later day, when, even in 
the epic, the hero's really desired heaven is one of drunken- 
ness and women ad libitum. Of the ' good man ' in the Rig 
Veda are demanded piety toward gods and manes and liberality 
to priests ; truthfulness and courage ; and in the end of the 
work there is a su2:2:estion of ascetic 's^oodness' bv means of 
tapas, austerity.^ Grassman cites one hymn as dedicated to 

1 X, 154. 2 ; 107. 2. Compare the mad ascetic, imhii^ viii. 17. 14. 



' Mercy.' It is really (not a hymn and) not on mercy, but a 
poem praising generosity. This generosity, however (and in 
general this is true of the whole peoplej, is not general gene- 
rosity, but liberality to the priests.-^ The blessings asked for 
are wealth (cattle, horses, gold, etc.), virile power, male children 
(' heroic offspring ') and immortality, with its accompanying 
joys. Once there is a tirade against the friend that is false to 
his friend (truth in act as well as in word) ; ^ once only, a poem 
on concord, which seems to partake of the nature of an 

Incantations are rare in the Rig Veda, and appear to be 
looked upon as objectionable. So in vii. 104 the charge of a 
' magician ' is furiously repudiated ; yet do an incantation 
against a rival wife, a mocking hymn of exultation after subdu- 
ing rivals, and a few other hymns of like sort show that magical 
practices were well known. ^ 

The sacrifice occupies a high place in the religion of the 
Rig Veda, but it is not all-important, as it is later. Neverthe- 
less, the same presumptuous assumption that the gods depend 
on earthly sacrifice is often made ; the result of which, even 
before the collection was complete (iv. 50), was to teach that 
gods and men depended on the will of the wise men who knew 
how properly to conduct a sacrifice, the key-note of religious 
pride in the Brahmanic period. 

Indra depends on the sacrificial soma to accomplish his great 
works. The gods first got power through the sacrificial fire 
and so??ta} That images of the gods were supposed to be 

1 X. 117. This is clearly seen in the seventh verse, where is praised the ' Brahman 
who talks,' i.e., can speak in behalf of the giver to the gods (compare verse three). 

2 X. 71. 6. 

*J Compare x. 145 ; 159. In x. 184 there is a prayer addressed to the goddesses 
Sinivali and SarasvatI (in conjunction with Vishnu, Tvashtar, the Creator, Prajapati, 
and the Horsemen) to make a woman fruitful. 

^ ii. 15. 2 ; X. 6. 7 (Barth, loc. cit. p. 36). The sacrifice of animals, cattle, horses, 
goats, is customary; that of man, legendary ; but it is implied in x. iS. 8 (Hillebrandt, 
ZDMG. xl. p. 70S), and is ritualized in the next period (below). 


powerful may be inferred from the late verses, "who buys 
this Indra," etc. (above), but allusions to idolatry are else- 
where extremely doubtful.^ 

1 Phallic worship may be alluded to in that of the ' tail-gods,' as Garbe thinks, but 
it is deprecated. One verse, however, which seems to have crept in by mistake, is 
apparently due to phallic influence (viii. i. 34), though such a cult was not openly 
acknowledged till Civa-worship began, and is no part of Brahmanism. 



The hymns of the Rig Veda inextricably confused ; the 
deities of an earlier era confounded, and again merged together 
in a pantheism now complete ; the introduction of strange 
gods ; recognition of a hell of torture ; instead of many divini- 
ties the One that represents all the gods, and nature as well ; 
incantations for evil purposes and charms for a worthy pur- 
pose ; formulae of malediction to be directed against ' those 
whom I hate and w^ho hate me'; magical verses to obtain 
children, to prolong life, to dispel ' evil magic,' to guard against 
poison and other ills ; the paralyzing extreme of ritualistic 
reverence indicated by the exaltation to godhead of the ' rem- 
nant ' of sacrifice ; hymns to snakes, to diseases, to sleep, time, 
and the stars ; curses on the ' priest-plaguer ' — such, in general 
outline, is the impression produced by a perusal of the Atharvan 
after that of the Rig Veda. How much of this is new } 

The Risf Veda is not lackins: in incantations, in witchcraft 
practices, in hymns to inanimate things, in indications of 
pantheism. But the general impression is produced, both by 
the tone of such hymns as these and by their place in the col- 
lection, that they are an addition to the original work. On 
the other hand, in reading the Atharvan hymns the collective 
impression is decidedly this, that what to the Rig is adventi- 
tious is essential to the Atharvan. 

- It has often been pointed out, however, that not only the 
practices involved, but the hymns themselves, in the Atharvan, 
may have existed long before they were collected, and that, 
while the Atharvan collection, as a whole, takes historical place 


after the Rig Veda, there yet may be comprised in the former 
much which is as old as any part of the latter work. It is also 
customary to assume that such hymns as betoken a lower wor- 
ship (incantations, magical formulae, etc.) were omitted pur- 
posely from the Rig Veda to be collected in the Atharvan. 
That which eventually can neither be proved nor disproved is, 
perhaps, best left undiscussed, and it is vain to seek scientific 
proof where only historic probabilities are obtainable. Yet, if 
a closer approach to truth be attractive, even a greater proba- 
bility wdll be a gain, and it becomes worth while to consider the 
problem a little with only this hope in view. 

Those portions of the Rig Veda which seem to be Atharvan- 
like are, in general, to be found in the later books (or places) 
of the collection. But it would be presumptuous to conclude 
that a work, although almost entirely given up to what in the 
Rig Veda appears to be late, should itself be late in origin. 
By analogy, in a nature-religion such as was that of India, the 
practice of demonology, witchcraft, etc., must have been an 
early factor. But, while this is true, it is clearly impossible to 
postulate therefrom that the hymns recording all this array of 
cursing, deviltry, and witchcraft are themselves early. The 
further forward one advances into the labyrinth of Hindu 
religions the more superstitions, the more devils, demons, 
magic, witchcraft, and uncanny things generally, does he find. 
Hence, while any one superstitious practice may be antique, 
there is small probability for assuming a contemporaneous 
origin of the hymns of the two collections. The many verses 
cited, apparently pell-mell, from the Rig Veda, might, it is 
true, revert to a version older than that in which they are 
found in the Rig Veda, but there is nothing to show that they 
were not taken from the Rig Veda, and re-dressed in a form 
that rendered them in many cases more intelligible ; so that 
often what is respectfully spoken of as a ' better varied reading ' 
of the Atharvan may be better, as we have said in the intro- 


ductory chapter, only in lucidity ; and the lucidity be due 
to tampering with a text old and unintelligible. Classical 
examples abound in illustrations. 

Nevertheless, although an antiquity equal to that of the 
whole Rig Veda can by no means be claimed for the Atharvan 
collection (which, at least in its tone, belongs to the Brahmanic 
period), yet is the mass represented by the latter, if not con- 
temporaneous, at any rate so venerable, that it safely may be 
assigned to a period as old as that in which were composed the 
later hymns of the Rik itself. But in distinction from the 
hymns themselves the weird religion they represent is doubtless 
as old, if not older, than that of the Rig Veda. For, while the 
Rig Vedic so7na-Q.v\\. is Indo-Iranian, the original Atharvan (fire) 
cult is even more primitive, and the basis of the work, from 
this point of view, may have preceded the composition of Rik 
hymns. This Atharvan religion — if it may be called so — is, 
therefore, of exceeding importance. It opens wide the door 
which the Rik puts ajar, and shows a world of religious and 
mystical ideas which without it could scarcely have been sus- 
pected. Here magic eclipses Soma and reigns supreme. The 
wizard is greater than the gods ; his herbs and amulets are 
sovereign remedies. Religion is seen on its lowest side. It 
is true that there is ' bad magic ' and ' good magic ' (the exist- 
ence of the former is substantiated by the maledictions against 
it), but what has been received into the collection is apparently 
the best. To heal the sick and procure desirable things is the 
object of most of the charms and incantations - — but some of 
the desirable things are disease and death of one's foes. On 
the higher side of religion, from a metaphysical point of 
view, the Atharvan is pantheistic. It knows also the import- 
ance of the ' breaths,'^ the vital forces ; it puts side by side the 
different gods and says that each 'is lord.' It does not lack 
philosophical speculation which, although most of it is puerile, 

1 XV, 15. 


sometimes raises questions of wider scope, as when the sage in- 
quires who made the body with its wonderful parts — implying, 
but not stating the argument, from design, in its oldest form.-^ 
Of magical verses there are many, but the content is seldom 
more than "do thou, O plant, preserve from harm," etc. 
Harmless enough, if somewhat weak, are also many other 
hymns calculated to procure blessings : 

Blessings blow to us the wind, 
Blessings glow to us the sun, 
Blessings be to us the day, 
Blest to us the night appear, 
Blest to us the dawn shall shine, 

is a fair specimen of this innocuous sort of verse.- Another 
example maybe seen in this hymn to a king: "Firm is the 
sky ; firm is the earth ; firm, all creation ; firm, these hills ; 
firm the king of the people (shall be)," etc.^ In another hymn 
there is an incantation to release from possible ill coming from 
a foe and from inherited ill or sin."* A free spirit of doubt 
and atheism, already foreshadowed in the Rig Veda, is implied 
in the prayer that the god will be merciful to the cattle of that 
man "whose creed is 'Gods exist.'" ^ Serpent-worship is not 
only known, but prevalent." The old gods still hold, as always, 
their nominal places, albeit the system is pantheistic, so that 
Varuna is god of waters ; and Mitra with Varuna, gods of 
rain."^ As a starting-point of philosophy the dictum of the 
Rig Veda is repeated : ' Desire is the seed of mind,' and ' love, 
i.e., desire, was born first.' Here Aditi is defined anew as the 

1 X. 2. 2 vii. 69. Compare RV, vii. 35, and the epic (below). 3 x. 173. 

4 V. 30. 5 xi. 2. 2S. 6 xi. 9 ; viii. 6 and 7, with tree-worship. 

■^ V. 24. 4-5. On 'the one god' compare x. 8. 28; xiii. 4. 15. Indra as Surj'a, 
in vii. II ; cf. xiii. 4; xvii. i. 24. Pantheism in x. 7. 14, 25. Of charms, compare 
ii. 9, to restore life ; iii. 6, a curse against 'whom I hate ' ; iii. 23, to obtain offspring. 
On the stars and night, see hymn at xix. 8 and 47. In v. 13, a guard against poison; 
ib. 21, a hymn to a drum; ib. 31, a charm to dispel evil magic: vi. 133, magic to 
produce long life; v. 23, against worms, etc., etc. Aditi, vii. 6. 1-4 (partly Rik). 



one in whose lap is the wide atmosphere — she is parent and 
child, gods and men, all in all — ' may she extend to us a 
triple shelter.' As an example of curse against curse may be 
compared ii. 7 : 

The sin-hated, god-born plant, that frees from the curse as waters (wash 
out) the spot, has washed away all curses, the curse of my rival and of my 
sister ; (that) which the Brahman in anger cursed, all this lies under my 
feet. . . . With this plant protect this (wife), protect my child, protect our 
property. . . . May the curse return to the curser. . . . We smite even 
the ribs of the foe with the evil (viantra) eye. 

A love-charm in the same book (ii. 30) will remind the clas- 
sical student of Theocritus' second idyl : 'As the wind twirls 
around grass upon the ground, so I twirl thy mind about, that 
thou mayst become loving, that thou mayst not depart from 
me,' etc. In the following verses the Horsemen gods are 
invoked to unite the lovers. Characteristic among bucolic 
passages is the cow-song in ii. 26, the whole intent of which 
is to ensure a safe return to the cows on their wanderings : 
' Hither mav thev come, the cattle that have wandered far 
away,' etc. 

The view that there are different conditions of Manes is 
clearly taught in xviii. 2. 48-49, w^here it is said that there 
are three heavens, in the highest of which reside the Manes ; 
while a distinction is made at the same time between 'fathers' 
and 'grandfathers,' the fathers' fathers, 'who have entered air, 
who inhabit earth and heaven.' Here appears nascent the 
doctrine of 'elevating the Fathers,' which is expressly taught 
in the next era. The performance of rites in honor of the 
Manes causes them to ascend from a low state to a higher 
one In fact, if the offerings are not given at all, the spirits 
do not go to heaven. In general the older generations of 
Manes go up highest and are happiest. The personal offering 
is only to the immediate fathers. 


If, as was shown in the introductory chapter, the Atharvan 
represents a geographical advance on the part of the Vedic 
Aryans, this fact cannot be ignored in estimating the primi- 
tiveness of the collection. Geographical advance, acquaintance 
with other flora and fauna than those of the Ris: Veda, means 
— although the argument of silence must not be exaggerated — 
a temporal advance also. And not less significant are the 
points of view to which one is led in the useful little work 
of Scherman on the philosophical hymns of the Atharvan. 
Scherman wishes to show the connection between the Upan- 
ishads and Vedas. But the bearing of his collection is toward 
a closer union of the two bodies of works, and especially of 
the Atharvan, not to the greater gain in age of the Upanishads 
so much as to the depreciation in venerableness of the former. 
If the Atharvan has much more in common with the Brahmanas 
and Upanishads than has the Rig Veda, it is because the 
Atharvan stands, in many respects, midway in time between 
the era of Vedic hymnology and the thought of the philosophi- 
cal period. The terminology is that of the Brahmanas, rather 
than that of the Rig Veda. The latter knows the great person ; 
the Atharvan, and the former know the original great person, ?>., 
the causa niovais under the causa efficiens^ etc. In the Atharvan 
appears first the worship of Time, Love, ' Support ' (Skambha), 
and the 'highest bf-aJuna.'' The cult of the holy cow is fully 
recognized (xii. 4 and 5). The late ritualistic terms, as well 
as linguistic evidence, confirm the fact indicated by the geo- 
graphical advance. The country is known from western Balkh 
to eastern Behar, the latter familiarly.^ In a word, one may 
conclude that on its his/her side the Atharvan is later than 
the Rig Veda, while on its lower side of demonology one may 
recognize the religion of the lower classes as compared with 
that of the two upper classes — for the latter the Rig Veda, 
for the superstitious people at large the Atharvan, a collection 

1 Compare Muir, OST. ii. 447 ff. 


of which the origin agrees with its appHcation. For, if it at 
first was devoted to the unholy side of tire-cult, and if the fire- 
cult is older than the soma-Q.\\\\.^ then this is the cult that one 
would expect to see most affected by the conservative vulgar, 
who in India hold fast to what the' cultured have long dropped 
as superstition, or, at least, pretended to drop ; though the 
house-ritual keeps some magic in its fire-cult. 

In that case, it may be asked, why not begin the history of 
Hindu religion with the Atharvan, rather than with the Rig 
Veda ? Because the Atharvan, as a whole, in its language, 
social conditions, geography, 'remnant' worship, etc., shows 
that this literary collection is posterior to the Rik collection. 
As to individual hymns, especially those imbued with the tone 
of fetishism and witchcraft, any one of them, either in its pres- 
ent or original form, may outrank the whole Rik in antiquit}^, 
as do its superstitions the religion of the Rik — if it is right 
to make a distinction between superstition and religion, mean- 
ing by the former a lower, and by the latter a more elevated 
form of belief in the supernatural. 

The difference between the Rik-worshipper and Atharvan- 
worshipper is somewhat like that which existed at a later age 
between the philosophical Qivaite and Durgaite. The former 
revered Qiva, but did not deny the power of a host of lesser 
mights, whom he was ashamed to worship too much ; the latter 
granted the all-god-head of Qiva, but paid attention almost 
exclusively to some demoniac divinity. 

Superstition, perhaps, always precedes theology; but as 
surely does superstition outlive any one form of its protean 
rival. And the simple reason is that a theology is the real 
belief of few, and varies with their changing intellectual point 
of view ; while superstition is the belief unacknowledged of 
the few and acknowledged of the many, nor does it materially 
change from age to age. The rites employed among the clam- 
diggers on the New York coast, the witch-charms they use, the 


incantations, cutting of flesh, fire-oblations, meaningless formu- 
lae, united with sacrosanct expressions of the church, are all 
on a par with the religion of the lower classes as depicted in 
Theocritus and the Atharvan. If these mummeries and this 
hocus-pocus were collected into a volume, and set out with 
elegant extracts from the Bible, there would be a nineteenth 
century Atharva Veda. What are the necessary equipment of 
a Long Island witch ? First, " a good hot fire," and then 
formulae such as this : ^ 

" If a man is attacked by wicked people and how to banish 
them : 

" Bedgoblin and all ye evil spirits, I, N. N., forbid you my 
bedstead, my couch ; I, N. N., forbid you in the name of God 
my house and home ; I forbid you in the name of the Holy 
Trinity my blood and flesh, my body and soul ; I forbid you 
all the nail-holes in my house and home, till you have travelled 
over every hill, waded through every water, have counted all 
the leaves of every tree, and counted all the stars in the sky, 
until the dav arrives when the mother of God shall bare her 
second son." 

If this formula be repeated three times, with the baptismal 
name of the person, it will succeed ! 

" To make one's self invisible : 

'' Obtain the ear of a black cat, boil it in the milk of a black 
cow, wear it on the thumb, and no one will see you." 

This is the Atharvan, or fire- and witch-craft of to-day — not 
differing much from the ancient. It is the unchanging founda- 
tion of the many lofty buildings of faith that are erected, 
removed, and rebuilt upon it — the belief in the supernatural at 
its lowest, a belief which, in its higher stages, is always level 
with the general intellect of those that abide in it. 

The latest book of the Atharvan is especially for the war- 
rior-caste, but the mass of it is for the folk at large. It was 

1 This old charm is still used among the clam-diggers of Canarsie, N. Y. 


long before it was recognized as a legitimate Veda. It never 
stands, in the older period of Brahmanism, on a par with the 
Saman and Rik. In the epic period good and bad magic are 
carefully differentiated, and even to-day the Atharvan is repu- 
diated by southern Brahmans. But there is no doubt that 
sub rosa^ the silliest practices inculcated and formulated in the 
Atharvan were the stronghold of a certain class of priests, or 
that such priests were feared and employed by the laity, openly 
by the low classes, secretly by the intelligent. 

In respect of the name the magical cult was referred, histori- 
cally with justice, to the fire-priests, Atharvan and Angiras, 
though little application to fire, other than in ^'o'w^-w^orship, 
is apparent. Yet was this undoubtedly the source of the cult 
(the fire-cult is still distinctly associated with the Atharva 
Veda in the epic), and the name is due neither to accident 
nor to a desire to invoke the names of great seers, as will 
Weber.^ The other name of Brahmaveda may have connection 
with the ' false science of Brihaspati,' alluded to in a Upanishad.^ 
This seer is not over-orthodox, and later he is the patron of 
the unorthodox Carvakas. It was seen above that the god 
Brihaspati is also a novelty not altogether relished by the 
Vedic Aryans. 

From an Aryan point of view how much weight is to be placed 
on comparisons of the formulae in the Atharvan of India with 
those of other Aryan nations? Kuhn has compared^ an old 
German magic formula of healing with one in the Atharvan, and 
because each says ' limb to limb ' he thinks that they are of 
the same origin, particularly since the formula is found in 
Russian. The comparison is interesting, but it is far from con- 
vincing. Such formulae spring up independently all over 
the earth. 

1 Ind. Lit? p. 164. 

2 Mdit. Up. vii. 9. He is ' the gods' Brahma ' (Rik.) 

3 Indische iind germanische Scgensspriiche ; KZ. xiii, 49. 



Finally, it is to be observed that in this Veda first occurs 
the implication of the story of the flood (xix. 39. 8), and the 
saving of Father Manu, who, however, is known by this title 
in the Rik. The supposition that the story of the flood is 
derived from Babylon, seems, therefore, to be an unnecessary 
(although a permissible) hypothesis, as the tale is old enough 
in India to warrant a belief in its indigenous origin.^ 

1 One long hymn, xii. i, of the Atharvan is to earth and fire (19-20). In the Rik, 
dtharvan is fire-priest and bringer of fire from heaven ; while once the word may 
mean fire itself (viii. 9, 7), The name Brahmaveda is perhaps best referred to 
braJwia as fire (whence 'fervor,' 'prayer,' and again 'energy,' 'force'). In distinction 
from the great jowm-sacrifices, the fire-cult always remains the chief thing in the 
domestic ritual. The present Atharvan formulae have for the most part no visible 
application to fire, but the name still shows the original connection. 




Nothing is more usual than to attempt a reconstruction of 
Aryan ideas in manners, customs, laws, and religious concep- 
tions, by placing side by side similar traits of individual Aryan 
nations, and stating or insinuating that the result of the com- 
parison shows that one is handling primitive characteristics of 
the whole Aryan body. It is of special importance, therefore, 
to see in how far the views and practices of peoples not Aryan 
may be found to be identical with those of yVryms. The 
division of the army into clans, as in the Iliad and the Veda ; 
the love of gambling, as shown by Greeks, Teutons, and 
Hindus ; the separation of captains and princes, as is illus- 
trated by Teuton and Hindu ; the belief in a flood, common 
to Iranian, Greek, and Hindu ; in the place of departed spirits, 
with the journey over a river (Iranian, Hindu, Scandinavian, 
Greek); in the after-felicity of warriors who die on the field 
of battle (Scandinavian, Greek, and Hindu); in the reverence 
paid to the wind-god (Hindu, Iranian, and Teutonic, Vata- 
Wotan); these and many other traits at different times, by 
various writers, have been united and compared to illustrate 
primitive Aryan belief and religion. 

The traits of the Five Nations of the Veda for this reason 
may be compared very advantageously with the traits of the 
Five Nations of the Iroquois Indians, the most united and 
intelligent of American native tribes. Their institutions are not 
yet extinct, and they have been described by missionaries of 
the 17 th century and by some modern writers, to whom can 


be imputed no hankering after Aryan primitive ideas. -^ It is 
but a few years back since tlie last avatar of the Iroquois' 
incarnate god Uved in Onondaga, N. Y. 

First, as an illustration of the extraordinary development of 
memory among rhapsodes, Vedic students, and other Aryans ; 
among the Iroquois " memory was tasked to the utmost, and 
developed to an extraordinary degree," says Parkman, who 
adds that they could repeat point by point with precision any 
address made to them.- Murder was compromised for by 
We/irgeid, as among the Vedic, Iranic, and Teutonic peoples. 
The Iroquois, like all Indians, was a great gambler, staking 
all his property^ (like the Teutons and Hindus). In religion 
" A mysterious and inexplicable power resides in inanimate 
things. . . . Lakes, rivers, and waterfalls [as conspicuously 
in India] are sometimes the dwelling-place of spirits ; but more 
frequently they are themselves living beings, to be propitiated 
by pra3'ers and offerings." ^ The greatest spirit among the 
Algonquins is the descendant of the moon, and son of the 
west-wind (personified). After the deluge (thus the Hindus, 
etc.) this great spirit (Manabozho, inana is Manu?) restored 
the world ; some asserting that he created the world out of 
water. But others say that the supreme spirit is the sun 
(Le J3une, Relation, 1633). The Algonquins, besides a belief 
in a good spirit {inanitoii), had also a belief in a malignant 
ma7iitou, in whom the missionaries recognized the devil (why 
not Ormuzd and Ahriman ?). One tribe invokes the ' Maker 
of Heaven,' the 'god of waters,' and also the 'seven spirits of 
the wind ' (so, too, seven is a holy number in the Veda, etc.). 

1 Compare the accounts of Lafitau ; of the native Iroquois, baptized as IMorgan ; 
and the works of Schoolcraft and Pari<man. 

'^ Jesuits in North America, Introduction, p. Ixi, 

3 "Like other Indians, the Hurons were desperate gamblers, staking their all, — 
ornaments, clothing, canoes, pipes, weapons, and wives," loc. cit. p. xxxvi. Compare 
Palfrey, of Massachusetts Indians. The same is true of all savages. 

4 lb. p. Ixvii. 


The Iroquois, like the Hindu (later), believe that the earth 
rests on the back of a turtle or tortoise,^ and that this is ruled 
over by the sun and moon, the first being a good spirit ; the 
second, malignant. The good spirit interposes between the 
malice of the moon and mankind, and it is he who makes 
rivers ; for when the earth was parched, all the water being 
held back from earth under the armpit of a monster frog, he 
pierced the armpit and let out the water (exactly as Indra lets 
out the water held back by the demon). According to some, 
this great spirit created mankind, but in the third generation a 
deluge destroyed his posterity.'-^ The good spirit among the 
Iroquois is the one that gives good luck (perhaps Bhaga). 
These Indians believe in the immortality of the soul. Skillful 
hunters, brave warriors, go, after death, to the happy hunting- 
grounds (as in India and Scandinavia); the cowardly and 
weak are doomed to live in dreary regions of mist and dark- 
ness (compare Niflheim and the Iranian eschatology T). To 
pass over other religious correspondences, the sacrifice of ani- 
mals, use of amulets, love-charms, magic, and sorcery, which 
are all like those of Aryans (to compare, also, are the burying 
or exposing of the dead and the Hurons' funeral games), let 
one take this as a good illustration of the value of ' compar- 
ative Aryan mythology ' : 

According to the Aryan belief the soul of the dead passes 
over a stream, across a bridge, past a dog or two, which guard 
the gate of paradise. The Hindu, Iranian, Greek, and Scan- 
dinavian, all have the dog, and much emphasis has been laid 
on the ' Aryan ' character of this creed. The native Iroquois 
Indians believed that "the spirits on their journey (to heaven) 
were beset with difficulties and perils. There was a swift river 

1 Compare Cat. Br. vi. i. i, 12 ; vii. 5.1,2 sq., for the Hindu tortoise in its first 
form. The totem-form of the tortoise is well known in America. (Brintonj Mytlis 
of the New World, p. 85.) " 

2 Charlevoix ap. Parkman, 


to be crossed on a log that shook beneath the feet, while a 
ferocious dog opposed their passage,"^ Here is the Persians' 
narrow bridge, and even Kerberos himself ! 

It is also interesting to note that, as the Hindus identify 
with the sun so many of their great gods, so the Iroquois 
'' sacrifices to some superior spirit, or to the sun, with which 
the superior spirits were constantly confounded by the primi- 
tive Indian."' " 

Weber holds that because Greek and Hindu gave the name 
'bear' to a constellation, therefore this is the "primitive Indo- 
Germanic name of the star.'" ^ But the Massachusetts Indians 
"gave their own name for bear to the Ursa major" (Williams' 
' Key,' cited Palfrey, I. p. 36 ; so Lafitau, further west). 

Again, three, seven, and even ' thrice-seven,' are holy not 
only in India but in America. 

In this new world are found, to go further, the analogues of 
Varuna in the monotheistic god Viracocha of the Peruvians, to 
whom is addressed this prayer: "Cause of all things! ever 
present, helper, creator, ever near, ever fortunate one ! Thou 
incorporeal one above the sun, infinite, and beneficent";^ of 
the Vedic Snake of the Deep, in the Mexican Cloud-serpent ; 
of the Vedic Lightning-bird, who brings fire from heaven, in 
the Indian Thunder-bird, who brings fire from heaven ; ^ of the 
preservation of one individual from a flood (in the epic, Manu's 
' Seven Seers ') in the same American myth, even including 
the holy mountain, which is still shown ; ^ of the belief that the 
sun is the home of departed spirits, in the same belief all over 

1 Parkman, loc. cit. p. Ixxxii ; Brinton, Myths of the New World, p. 24S. A 
good instance of bad comparison in eschatolog}' will be found in Geiger, Ostir. Cult. 
pp. 274-275. 

- Parkman, loc. cit. p. Ixxxvl. 3 Sitz. Berl. Akad. 1891. p. 15. 

4 Brinton, American Hero Myths, p. 174. The first worship was Sun-worship, 
then Viracocha-worship arose, which kept Sun-worship while it predicated a 'power 

Brinton, Myths of the A'cu> World, pp. S5, 205. G //;. pp. 55. 202. 


America ; ^ of the belief that stars are the souls of the dead, in 
the same belief held by the Pampas ; ^ and even of the late 
Brahman ic custom of sacrificing the widow (suttee), in the 
practice of the Natchez Indians, and in Guatemala, of burning 
the widow on the pyre of the dead husband.^ The storm wind 
(Odin) as highest god is found among the Choctaws ; while 
' Master of Breath ' is the Creeks' name for this divinity. 
Huraka (hurricane, ouragon, ourage) is the chief god in Hayti.* 
An exact parallel to the vague idea of hell at the close of the 
Vedic period, with the gradual increase of the idea, alternating 
with a theory of reincarnation, may be found in the fact that, 
in general, there is no notion of punishment after death among 
the Indians of the New World ; but that, while the good are 
assisted and cared for after death by the ' Master of Breath,' 
the Creeks believe that the liar, the coward, and the niggard 
(Vedic smnQxs par excellence f) are left to shift for themselves in 
darkness ; whereas the Aztecs believed in a hell surrounded 
by the water called 'Nine Rivers,' guarded by a dog and a 
dragon; and the great Eastern American tribes believe that 
after the soul has been for a while in heaven it can, if it chooses, 
return to earth and be born again as a man, utilizing its old 
bones (which are, therefore, carefully preserved by the surviv- 
ing members of the family) as a basis for a new body/ 

To turn to another foreign religion, how tempting would it be 
to see in Nutar the ' abstract power ' of the Egyptian, an ana- 
logue of brahma and the other ' power ' abstractions of India ; 
to recognize Brahma in El ; and in Nu, sky, and expanse of 
waters, to see Varuna ; especially when one compares the boat- 
journey of the Vedic seer with Ra's boat in Egypt. Or, again, 
in the twin children of Ra to see the A^vins ; and to associate 

1 Brinton, Myths of the New VVor/d, p. 243. The American Indians "uniformly 
regard the sun as heaven, the soul goes to the sun." 

2 //-. p. 245, 3 /!>. p. 239-40. 4 /i>. p. 50, 51. 
5 Id. pp. 242, 248, 255 ; Schoolcraft, iii. 229. 


the mundane egg of the Egyptians with that of the Brahmans.^ 
Certainly, had the Egyptians been one of the Aryan famiUes, 
all these conceptions had been referred long ago to the cate- 
gory of 'primitive Aryan ideas.' But how primitive is a certain 
rehgious idea will not be shown by simple com.parison of Aryan 
parallels. It will appear more often that it is not ' primitive,' 
but, so to speak, per-primitive, aboriginal with no one race, but 
with the race of man. When we come to describe the religions 
of the wild tribes of India it will be seen that among them also 
are found traits common, on the one hand, to the Hindu, and 
on the other to the wild tribes of America. With this w^arning 
in mind one may inquire at last in how far a conservative 
judgment can find among the Aryans themselves an identity 
of original conception in the different forms of divinities and 
religious rites. Foremost stand the universal chrematheism, 
worship of inanimate objects regarded as usefully divine, and 
the cult of the departed dead. This latter is almost universal, 
perhaps pan-Aryan, and Weber is probably right in assuming 
that the primitive Aryans believed in a future life. But 
Benfey's identification of Tartaras wdth the Sanskrit Talatala, 
the name of a special hell in very late systems of cosmogony, 
is decidedly without the bearing he would put upon it. The 
Sanskrit word may be taken directly from the Greek, but of 
an Aryan source for both there is not the remotest historical 

When, however, one comes to the Lord of the Dead he finds 
himself already in a narrower circle. Yama is the Persian 
Yima, and the name of Kerberos may have been once an 
adjective applied to the dog that guarded the path to paradise ; 
but other particular conceptions that gather about each god 
point only to a period of Indo-Iranian unity. 

Of the great nature-gods the sun is more than Aryan, but 
doubtless was Aryan, for Surya is Helios, but Savitar is a 

1 Renouf, Religion of Anciait Egypt., pp. 103, 113 ff. 


development especially Indian. Dyaiis-pitar is Z^iis-pater, 
Jupiter.^ Trita, scarcely Triton, is the Persian Thraetaona who 
conquers Vritra, as does Indra in India. The last, on the 
other hand, is to be referred only hesitatingly to the demon 
Aiidra of the Avesta. Varuna, despite phonetic difficulties, 
probably is Ouranos ; ]jut Asura (Asen .'') is a title of many 
gods in India's first period, while the corresponding Ahura is 
restricted to the good spirit, K(xr l^oyy]v. The seven Adityas 
are reflected in the Ames/ia Cpeiitas of Zoroastrian Puritanism, 
but these are mere imitations, spiritualized and moralized into 
abstractions. Bhaga is Slavic Bogu and Persian Bagha ; Mitra 
is Persian Mithra. The Acvins are all but in name the Greek 
gods Dioskouroi, and correspond closely in detail (riding on 
horses, healing and helping, originally twins of twilight). Taci- 
tus gives a parallel Teutonic pair (Germ. 43). Ushas, on the 
other hand, while etymologically corresponding to Aurora, Eos, 
is a specially Indian development, as Eos has no cult. Vata, 
Wind, is an aboriginal god, and may perhaps be Wotan, Odin.^ 
Parjanya, the rain-god, a^ Biihler has shown, is one with 
Lithuanian Perkiina, and with the northern Fiogyu. The 
'fashioner,' Tvashtar (sun) is only Indo-Iranian ; Thwasha 
probably being the same word. 

Of lesser mights, Angiras, name of fire, may be Persian aii- 
garos, 'fire-messenger' (compare ayyeAos), perhaps originally one 
with Sk. ajigara, ' coal.' ^ Hebe has been identified with. yavya, 
young w^oman, but this word is enough to show that Hebe has 
naught to do with the Indian pantheon. The Gandharva, 
moon, is certainly one wdth the Persian Gandarewa, but can 
hardly be identical with the Centaur. Sarama seems to have, 
together wdth Sarameya, a Grecian parallel development in 

1 Teutonic Tuisco is doubtful, as the identity with Dyaus has lately been con- 
tested on phonetic grounds. 

2 Vata, ventus, does not agree very well with Wotan. 

3 Ait. Br. iii. 34. ayyapov irvp is really tautological, but beacon fires gave way 
to couriers and ayyapos lost the sense of fire, as did dyyeXos. 


Helena (a goddess in Sparta), Selene, Hermes ; and Saranyu 
may be the same with Erinnys, but these are not Aryan 
figures in the form of their respective developments, though 
they appear to be so in origin. It is scarcely possible that 
Earth is an Aryan deity with a cult, though different Aryan 
(and un-Aryan) nations regarded her as divine. The Maruts 
are especially Indian and have no primitive identity as gods 
with Mars, though the names may be radically connected. 
The fire-priests, Bhrigus, are supposed to be one with the 
4>/\eyuat. The fact that the fate of each in later myth is to 
visit hell would presuppose, however, an Aryan notion of a 
torture-hell, of which the Rig Veda has no conception. The 
Aryan identity of the two myths is thereby made uncertain, 
if not implausible. The special development in India of 
the fire-priest that brings down fire from heaven, when com- 
pared with the personification of the ' twirler ' (Promantheus) 
in Greece, shows that no detailed myth was current in primi- 
tive times. ^ The name of the fire-priest, /i'/'-^/z;;^^^;/ = fla(g)men(?), 
is an indication of the primitive fire-cult in antithesis to the 
^<?;;/<!7-cult, which latter belongs to the narrower circle of the 
Hindus and Persians. Here, however, in the identity of names 
for sacrifice (^yajTia, yacna) and of ba?'his, the sacrificial straw, 
of S07na = haoma., together with many other liturgical similari- 
ties, as in the case of the metres, one must recognize a fully 
developed so7Jia-Q.\AX. prior to the separation of the Hindus and 

Of demigods of evil type the Ydtus are both Hindu and 
Iranian, but the priest-names of the one religion are evil names 
in the other, as the devas, gods, of one are the daevas, demons, 
of the other.^ There are no other identifications that seem at 

1 But the general belief that fire (Agni, ignis, Slavic ogni) was first brought to 
earth from heaven by a half-divine personality is (at least) Aryan, as Kuhn has shown. 

2 Compare the kavis and itcijs (poets and priests) of the Veda with the evil spirits 
of the same names in the Avesta, like daeva = dcva. Compare, besides, the Indo- 
Iranian feasts, medha, that accompany this Bacchanalian liquor-worship. 


all certain in tlie strict province of religion, although in myth 
the form of Manus, who is the Hindu Noah, has been associ- 
ated with Teutonic Mannus, and Greek Minos, noted in Thu- 
cydides for his sea-faring. He is to Yama (later regarded 
as his brother) as is Noah to Adam. 

We do not lay stress on lack of equation in proper names, 
but, as Schrader shows (p. 596 ff.), very few comparisons on 
this line have a solid phonetic foundation. Minos, Manu ; 
Ouranos, Varuna ; Wotan, Vata, are dubious ; and some equate 
flamen with blotan, sacrifice. 

Other wider or narrower comparisons, such as Neptunus 
from nctpat apavi^ seem to us too daring to be believed. Apollo 
(saparj), Aphrodite (Apsaras), Artamis (non-existent rfa7?id/), 
Pan (^pava/ia), have been cleverly compared, but the identity 
of forms has scarcely been proved. Nor is it important for 
the comparative mythologist that Okeanus is ' lying around ' 
(acdydnd). More than that is necessary to connect Ocean 
mythologically with the demon that surrounds (swallows) the 
waters of the sky. The Vedic parallel is rather Rasa, the far- 
off great 'stream.' It is rarely that one finds Aryan equivalents 
in the land of fairies and fays. Yet are the Hindu clever 
artizan Ribhus^ our 'elves,' who, even to this day, are distinct 
from fairies in their dexterity and cleverness, as every wise 
child knows. 

But animism, as simple spiritism, fetishism, perhaps an- 
cestor-worship, and polytheism, with the polydaemonism that 
may be called chrematheism, exists from the beginning of the 
religious history, undisturbed by the proximity of theism, 
pantheism, or atheism ; exactly as to-day in the Occident, be- 
side theism and atheism, exist spiritism and fetishism (with 
their inherent magic), and even ancestor-worship, as implied 
by the reputed after-effect of parental curses. 

1 Ludwig interprets the three Ribhus as the three seasons personified. Etymo- 
logically connected is Orpheus, perhaps. 


When the circle is narrowed to that of the Indo-Iranian 
connection the similarity in religion between the Veda and 
Avesta becomes much more striking than in any other group, 
as has been shown. It is here that the greatest discrepancy 
in opinion obtains among modern scholars. ' Some are inclined 
to refer all that smacks of Persia to a remote period of Indo- 
Iranian unity, and, in consequence, to connect all tokens of 
contact with the west with far-away regions out of India. It 
is scarcely possible that such can be the case. But, on the 
other hand, it is unhistorical to connect, as do some scholars, 
the worship of so7na and Varuna with a remote period of unity, 
and then with a jump to admit a close connection between 
Veda and Avesta in the Vedic period. The Vedic Aryans 
appear to have lived, so to speak, hand in glove with the 
Iranians for a period long enough for the latter to share in 
that advance of Varuna-worship from polytheism to quasi- 
monotheism w^hich is seen in the Rig Veda. This worship of 
Varuna as a superior god, with his former equals ranged under 
him in a ^roup, chiefly obtains in that family (be it of priest 
or tribe, or be the two essentially one from a religious point 
of view) which has least to do with pure j"^;;/^-worship, the 
inherited Indo-Iranian cult ; and the Persian Ahura, with the 
six spiritualized equivalents of the old Vedic Adityas, can have 
come into existence only as a direct transformation of the 
latter cult, which in turn is later than the cult that developed 
in one direction as chief of gods a Zeus ; in another, a Bhaga ; 
in a third, an Odin. On the other hand, in the gradual change 
in India of Iranic gods to devils, asuras, there is an exact coun- 
terpart to the Iranian change of meaning from dcz'a to daeva. 
But if this be the connection, it is impossible to assume a long 
break between India and the west, and then such a sudden 
tie as is indicated by the allusions in the Rig Veda to the 
Persians and other western lands. The most reasonable view, 
therefore, appears to be that the Vedic and Iranian Aryans 


were for a long time in contact, that the contact began to cease 
as the two peoples separated to east and west, but that after 
the two peoples separated communication was sporadically 
kept up between them by individuals in the way of trade or 
otherwise. This explains the still surviving relationship as it 
is found in later hymns and in thank-offerings apparently 
involving Iranian personages. 

They that believe in a monotheistic Varuna-cult preceding 
the Vedic polytheism must then ignore the following facts : The 
Slavic equivalent of Bhaga and the Teutonic equivalent of 
Vata are to these respective peoples their highest gods. They 
had no Varuna. ^^loreover, there is not the slightest proof 
that Ouranos in Greece ^ w^as ever a god worshipped as a great 
god before Zeus, nor is there any probability that to the Hindu 
Dyaus Pitar was ever a great god, in the sense that he ever 
had a special cult as supreme deity. He is ph3^sically great, 
and physically he is father, as is Earth mother, but he is reli- 
giously great only in the Hellenic-Italic circle, where exists no 
Uranos-cult.'- Rather is it apparent that the Greek raised Zeus, 
as did the Slav Bhaga, to his first head of the pantheon. 
Now when one sees that in the Vedic period Varuna is the 
tj'pe of Adityas, to which belong Bhaga and Mitra as distinctly 
less important personages, it is plain that this can mean only 
that Varuna has gradually been exalted to his position at the 
expense of the other gods. Nor is there perfect uniformity 
between Persian and Hindu conceptions. Asura in the Veda 
is not applied to Varuna alone. But in the Avesta, Ahura is 
the one great spirit, and his six spirits are plainly a protestant 
copy and modification of Varuna and his six underlings. This, 
then, can mean — which stands in concordance with the other 

1 6 5^ XoXk^os da(pa\is aiev eSos /le'vet ovpavbs, Pind. X. vi. 5 ; compare Preller'*, 
p. 40. 

- Wahrscheinlich sind Uranos und Kronos erst aus dem Culte des Zeus abstrahirt 
worden. Preller-^. p. 43. 


parallels between the two religions — only that Zarathustra 
borrows the Ahura idea from the Vedic Aryans at a time when 
Varuna was become superior to the other gods, and when the 
Vedic cult is established in its second phase. ^ To this fact 
points also the evidence that shows how near together geo- 
graphically were once the Hindus and Persians. Whether 
one puts the place of separation at the Kabul or further to 
the north-west is a matter of indifference. The Persians 
borrow the idea of Varuna Asura, whose eye is the sun. 
They spiritualize this, and create an Asura unknown to other 

Of von Bradke's attempt to prove an original Dyaus Asura 
we have said nothing, because the attempt has failed signally. 
He imagines that the epithet Asura was given to Dyaus in the 
Indo-Iranian period, and that from a Dyaus Pitar Asura the 
Iranians made an abstract Asura, while the Hindus raised 
the other gods and depressed Dyaus Pitar Asura ; whereas it 
is quite certain that Varuna (Asura) grew up, out, and over 
the other Asuras, his former equals. 

And yet it is almost a pity to spend time to demonstrate 
that Varuna-worship was not monotheistic originally. We 
gladly admit that, even if not a primitive monotheistic deity, 
Varuna yet is a god that belongs to a very old period of Hindu 
literature. And, for a worship so antique, how noble is the 
idea, how exalted is the completed conception of him 1 Truly, 
the Hindus and Persians alone of Aryans mount nearest to 
the high level of Hebraic thought. For Varuna beside the 
loftiest figure in the Hellenic pantheon stands like a god 
beside a man. The Greeks had, indeed, a surpassing aesthetic 
taste, but in grandeur of religious ideas even the daring of 
Aeschylus becomes but. hesitating bravado when compared with 
the serene boldness of the Vedic seers, who, first of their race, 
out of many gods imagined God. 

1 When Aryan deities are decadent, Trita, Mitra, etc. 


In regard to eschatology, as in regard to myths, it has been 
shown that the utmost caution in identification is called for. 
It may be surmised that such or such a belief or legend is 
in origin one with a like faith or tale of other peoples. But 
the question whether it be one in historical origin or in 
universal mythopoetic fancy, and this latter be the only com- 
mon origin, must remain in almost every case unanswered.^ 
This is by far not so entertaining, nor so picturesque a solu- 
tion as is the explanation of a common historical basis for any 
two legends, with its inspiring 'open sesame' to the door of the 
locked past. But which is truer ? Which accords more with 
the facts as they are collected from a wider field ? As man 
in the process of development, in whatever quarter of earth 
he be located, makes for himself independently clothes, lan- 
guage, and gods, so he makes myths that are more or less like 
those of other peoples, and it is only when names coincide 
and traits that are unknown elsewhere are strikingly similar 
in any two mythologies that one has a right to argue a prob- 
able community of origin. 

But even if the legend of the flood were Babylonian, and 
the Asuras as devils were due to Iranian influence — which can 
neither be proved nor disproved — the fact remains that the 
Indian religion in its main features is of a purely native 

As the most prominent features of the Vedic religion must 
be regarded the worship of sfl77ia^ of nature-gods that are in 
part already more than this, of spirits, and of the Manes ; the 
acknowledgment of a moral law and a belief in a life hereafter. 
There is also a vaguer nascent belief in a creator apart from 

1 Spiegel holds that the whole idea of future punishment is derived from Persia 
(Eranische Alterthitmskunde, i. p, 458), but his point of view is naturally prejudiced. 
The allusion to the supposed Babylonian coin, mand, in RV. viii. ']'$>. 2, would indi- 
cate that the relation with Babylon is one of trade, as with Aeg}-pt. The account 
of the flood may be drawn thence, so may the story of Deucalion, but both Hindu 
and Hellenic versions may be as native as is that of the American redskins. 


any natural phenomenon, but the creed for the most part is 
poetically, indefinitely, stated: ' ^Nlost wonder-working of the 
wonder-working gods, who made heaven and earth ' (as above). 
The corresponding Power is Cerus in Cerus-Creator (Kronos ?), 
although when a name is given, the Maker, Dhatar, is employed ; 
while Tvashtar, the artificer, is more an epithet of the sun than 
of the unknown creator. The personification of Dhatar as cre- 
ator of the sun, etc., belongs to later Vedic times, and foreruns 
the Father-god of the last Vedic period. Not till the classical 
age (below) is found a formal identification of the Vedic 
nature-gods with the departed Fathers (Manes). Indra, for 
example, is invoked in the Rig Veda to 'be a friend, be a 
father, be more fatherly than the fathers';^ but this implies 
no patristic side in Indra, who is called in the same hymn 
(vs. 4) the son of Dyaus (his father); and Dyaus Pitar no 
more im.plies, as say some sciolists, that Dyaus was regarded 
as a human ancestor than does 'Mother Earth' imply a belief 
that Eirth is the ghost of a dead woman. 

In the Veda there is a nature-religion and an ancestor-religion. 
These approach, but do not unite : they are felt as sundered 
beliefs. Sun-myths, though by some denied in toto, appear 
plainly in the Vedic hymns. Dead heroes may be gods, but 
gods, too, are natural phenomena, and, again, they are abstrac- 
tions. He that denies any one of these sources of godhead 
is ignorant of India. 

Miiller, in his Ancient Sansk?'it Literature, has divided Vedic 
literature into four periods, that of c/iandjis, songs ; 7nantras, 
texts ; braJimanas ; and sutras. The mantras are in distinc- 
tion from c/ia?idas, the later hymns to the earlier gods.- The 
latter distinction can, however, be established only on subjec- 
tive grounds, and, though generally unimpeachable, is some- 
times liable to reversion. Thus, Miiller looks upon RV. 
viii. 30 as ' simxple and primitive,' while others see in this 

1 iv. 17. 17. 2 Loc. c'U. pp. 70, 4S0. 


hymn a late mantra. Between the Rig Veda and the Brah- 
manas, which are in prose, hes a period filled out in part 
by the present form of the Atharva Veda, which, as has been 
shown, is a Veda of the low cult that is almost ignored by 
the Rig Veda, while it contains at the same time much that 
is later than the Rig Veda, and consists of old and new 
* together in a manner entirely conformable to the state of 
every other Hindu work of early times. After this epoch 
there is found in the liturgical period, into which extend 
the later portions of the Rig Veda (noticeably parts of the 
first, fourth, eighth, and tenth books), a religion which, in 
spiritual tone, in metaphysical speculation, and even in the 
interpretation of some of the natural divinities, differs not more 
from the bulk of the Risf Veda than does the social status of 
the time from that of the earlier text. Religion has become, 
in so far as the gods are concerned, a ritual. But, except in 
the building up of a Father-god, theology is at bottom not much 
altered, and the eschatological conceptions remain about as 
they were, despite a preliminary sign of the doctrine of metem- 
psychosis. In the Atharva Veda, for the first time, hell is 
known by its later name (xii. 4. 36), and perhaps its tortures ; 
but the idea of future punishment appears plainly first in the 
Brahmanic period. Both the doctrine of re-birth and that of 
hell appear in the earliest Sutras, and consequently the assump- 
tion that these dogmas come from Buddhism does not appear 
to be well founded ; for it is to be presumed whatever religious 
belief is established in legal literature will have preceded that 
literature by a considerable period, certainly by a greater 
length of time than that which divides the first Brahmanic law 
from Buddhism. 



Besides the Rig Veda and the Atharva Veda there are two 
others, called respectively the Sama Veda and the Yajur Veda.-^ 
The former consists of a small collection of verses, which are 
taken chiefly from the eighth and ninth books of the Rig 
Veda, and are arranged for singing. It has a few more verses 
than are contained in the corresponding parts of the Rik, but 
the whole is of no added importance from the present point of 
view. It is of course made entirely for the ritual. Also made 
for the ritual is the Yajur Veda, the Veda of sacrificial for- 
mulae. But this Veda is far more important. With it one is 
brought into a new land, and into a world of ideas that are 
strange to the Rik. The period represented by it is a sort 
of bridge between the Rik and the Brahmanas. The Yajus is 
later than Rik or Atharvan, belonging in its entirety more 
to the age of the liturgy than to the older Vedic era. With the 
Brahmanas not only is the tone changed from that of the Rig 
Veda ; the whole moral atmosphere is now surcharged with 
hocus-pocus, mysticism, religiosity, instead of the cheerful, real 
religion which, however formal, is the soul of the Rik. In the 
Brahmanas there is no freshness, no poetry. There is in some 
regards a more scrupulous outward morality, but for the rest 
there is only cynicism, bigotry, and dullness. It is true that 
each of these traits may be found in certain parts of the Rig 

1 In A if. Br. i. 22, there is an unexplained antithesis of Rik, Yajus, Saman, Veda, 
and Brahma ; vvhere the commentator takes Yeda. to be Atharva \'eda. The priests, 
belonging respectively to the first three Vedas. are for the Rig Veda, the Hotar priest, 
who recites; for the Saman, the Udgatar, 'the singer'; for the Yajus. the Adhvaryu. 
who attends to the erection of the altar, etc. Compare Miiller, ASL. p. 46S. 


Veda, but it is not true that they represent there the spirit of 
the age, as they do in the Brahmanic period. Of this Brahmanic 
stoa, to which we now turn, the Yajur Veda forms the fitting 
entrance. Here the priest is as much lord as he is in the 
Bralimanas. Here the sacrifice is only the act, the sacrificial 
forms (^yajus), without the spirit. 

In distinction from the verse- Veda (the Rik), the Yajur Veda 
contains the special formulae which the priest that attends to 
the erection of the altar has to speak, with explanatory remarks 
added thereto. This of course stamps the collection as mechan- 
ical ; but -the wonder is that this collection, with the similar 
Brahmana scriptures that follow it, should be the only new 
literature which centuries have to show.-^ As explanatory of 
the sacrifice there is found, indeed, a good deal of legendary 
stufi^, which sometimes has a literary character. But nothing 
is for itself ; everything is for the correct performance of the 

The geographical centre is now changed, and instead of the 
Punjab, the ' middle district ' becomes the seat of culture. 
Nor is there much difference between the district to which can 
be referred the rise of the Yajur Veda and that of the Brah- 
manas. No less altered is the religion. All is now symbolical, 
and the gods, though in general they are the gods of the Rig 
Veda, are not the same as of old. The priests have become 
gods. The old appellation of ' spirit,' asiira, is confined to 
evil spirits. There is no longer any such ' henotheism ' as that 
of the Rig Veda. The Father-god, ' lord of beings,' or simply 
' the father,' is the chief god. The last thought of the Rig 

1 It is the only literature of its time except (an important exception) those fore- 
runners of later Sutra and epic which one may suppose to be in process of forma- 
tion long before they come to the front. 

2 There are several schools of tliis Veda, of which the chief are the Vajasaneyi. or 
' White Yajus,' collection; the TaittirTya collection; and the MaitrayanT collection; 
the first named being the latest though the most popular, the last two being the fore- 
most representatives of the ' Black Yajus.' 


Veda is the first thought of the Yajur Veda. /Other changes 
have taken place. The demigods of the older period, the 
water-nymphs of the Rik, here become seductive goddesses, 
whose increase of power in this art agrees with the decline of 
the warrior spirit that is shown too in the whole mode of think- 
ing, / ]\Iost important is the gradual rise of Vishnu and the first 
appearance of Qiva. Here brahma, which in the Rik has the 
meaning ' prayer ' alone, is no longer mere prayer, but, as in 
later literature, holiness.-/ In short, before the Brahmanas are 
reached they are perceptible in the near distance, in the Veda 
of Formulae, the Yajus ;^ for between the Yajur Veda and the 
Brahmanas there is no essential dift'erence. The latter consist 
of explanations of the sacrificial liturgy, interspersed with 
legends, bits of history, philosophical explanations, and other 
matter more or less related to the subject. They are completed 
by the Forest Books, Aranyakas, which contain the speculations 
of the later theosophy, the Upanishads (below). It is with 
the Yajur Veda and its nearly related literature, the Brah- 
manas, that Brahmanism really begins. Of these latter the 
most important in age and content are the Brahmanas (of the 
Rig Veda and Yajur Veda), called Aitareya and Qata-patha, 
the former representing the western district, the latter, in great 
part, a more eastern region. 

Although the ' Northerners ' are still respectfully referred to, 
yet, as we have just said, the people among whom arose the 
Brahmanas are not settled in the Punjab, but in the country 
called the ' middle district,' round about the modern Delhi. 
For the most part the Punjab is abandoned ; or rather, the 
literature of this period does not emanate from the Aryans 
that remained in the Punjab, but from the still emigrating 
descendants of the old Vedic people that used to live there. 
Some stay behind and keep the older practices, not in all 

1 The different traits here recorded are given with many illustrative examples by 
Schroeder, in his Literatiir tind Ctiltur, p. 90 ff. 


regards looked upon as orthodox by their more advanced 
brethren, who have pushed east and now live in the country 
called the land of the Kurus and Pahcalas.-^ They are spread 
farther east, along the banks of the Jumna and Ganges, south 
of Nepal ; while some are still about and south of the holy 
Kurukshetra or 'plain of Kurus.' Eist of the middle district 
the Kosalas and Videhas form, in opposition to the Kurus and 
Pancalas, the second great tribe (Tirhut). There are now two 
S3t3 of ' Seven Rivers,' and the holiness of the western group 
is perceptibly lessened. Here for the first time are found the 
F>'^/)'<7-hymns, intended to initiate into the Brahmanic order 
Aryans who have not conformed to it, and speak a dialectic 
language.^ From the point of view of language and geography, 
no less than from that of the social and spiritual conditions, it 
is evident that quite a period has elapsed since the body of 
the Rig Veda was composed. The revealed texts are now 
ancient storehouses of wisdom. Religion has apparently be- 
come a form ; in some regards it is a farce. 

" There are two kinds of gods ; for the gods are gods, and 
priests that are learned in the Veda and teach it are human 
gods." This sentence, from one of the most important Hindu 
prose works,^ is the key to the religion of the period which it 
represents ; and it is fitly followed by the further statement, 
that like sacrifice to the gods are the fees paid to the human 
gods the priests.^ Yet with this dictum, so important for the 

1 Compare Weber, Ind. Strcifcn. ii. 197. 2 Web2r, Lit. p. "ji. 

3 The Cata-fatlia Brdhviaiia (or " Brahmana of the hundred paths "') ii. 2. 2. 6 ; 
4. 3. 14. 

^ The chief family priest, it is said in the Cat. Br. ii. 4. 4. 5, is a man of great in- 
fluence. Sometimes one priest becomes religious head of two clans (an extraordinary 
event, however ; only one name is reported) and then how exalted is his position. 
Probably, as in the later age of the drama, the chief priest was often at the same time 
practically prime minister. It is said in another part of the same book that although 
the whole earth is divine, yet it is the priest that makes holy the place of sacrifice 
(iii. I. I. 4). In this period murder is defined as killing a priest; other cases are not 
called murder. Weber, IS. x. 66. 


understanding of the religion of tlie age, must be joined an- 
other, if one would do that age full justice: 'The sacrifice is 
like a ship sailing heavenward ; if there be a sinful priest in 
it, that one priest would make it sink' {Cat. Br. iv. 2. 5. 10), 
For although the time is one in which ritualism had, indeed, 
become more important than religion, and the priest more 
important than the gods, yet is there no lack of reverential 
feeling, nor is morality regarded as unimportant. The first 
impression, however, which is gained from the literature of 
this period is that the sacrifice is all in all ; that the endless 
details of its course, and the petty questions in regard to its 
arrangement, are not only the principal objects of care and of 
chief moment, but even of so cardinal importance that the 
whole religious spirit swings upon them. But such is not 
altogether the case. It is the truth, yet is it not the whole 
truth, that in these Brahmanas religion is an appearance, not 
a reality. (^The sacrifice is indeed represented to be the only 
door to prosperity on earth and to future bliss ; but there is a 
quiet yet persistent belief that at bottom a moral and religious 
life is quite as essential as are -the ritualistic observances with 
which worship is accompanied. \ 

To describe Brahmanism as implying a religion that is purely 
one of ceremonies, one composed entirely of observances, is 
therefore not altogether correct. In reading a liturgical work 
it must not be forgotten for what the work was intended. If 
its object be simply to inculcate a special rite, one cannot 
demand that it should show breadth of view or elevation of 
sentiment. Composed of observances every work must be of 
which the aim is to explain observances. In point of fact, 
religion (faith and moral behavior) is here assumed, and so 
entirely is it taken for granted that a statement emphasizing 
the necessity of godliness is seldom found. 

Nevertheless, having called attention to the religious spirit 
that lies latent in the pedantic Brahmanas, we are willing to 


admit that the age is overcast, not only with a thick cloud of 
ritualism, but also with an unpleasant mask of phariseeism. 
There cannot have been quite so much attention paid to the 
outside of the platter without neglect of the inside. And it is 
true that the priests of this period strive more for the comple- 
tion of their rites than for the perfection of themselves. It is 
true, also, that occasionally there is a revolting contempt for 
those people who are not of especial service to the priest. 
There are now two godlike aristocrats, the priest and the noble. 
The 'people' are regarded as only ht to be the "food of the 
nobility." In the symbolical language of the time the bricks 
of the altar, which are consecrated, are the warrior caste ; the 
fillings, in the space between the bricks, are not consecrated; and 
these "fillers of space " are "the people" {Cat. Br. vi. i. 2. 25). 
Yet is religion in these books not dead, but sleeping ; to 
wake again in the Upanishads with a fuller spiritual life than 
is found in any other pre-Christian system. Although the sub- 
ject matter of the Brahmanas is the cult, yet are there found in 
them numerous legends, moral teachings, philosophical fancies, 
historical items, etymologies and other adventitious matter, all 
of which are helpful in giving a better understanding of the 
intelligence of the people to whom is due all the extant litera- 
ture of the period. Long citations from these ritualistic pro- 
ductions would have a certain value, in showing in native form 
the character of the works, but thev would make unendurable 
reading ; and we have thought it better to arrange the multi- 
farious contents of the chief Brahmanas in a sort of order, 
although it is difficult always to decide where theology ends 
and moral teachings begin, the two are here so interwoven. 


\Yhile in general the pantheon of the Rig Yeda and Atharva 
Yeda is that of the Brahmanas, some of the older gods are 


now reduced in importance, and, on the other hand, as in the 
Yajur Veda, some gods are seen to be growing in importance. 
'Time,' deified in the Atharvan, is a great god, but beside him 
still stand the old rustic divinities ; and chrematheism, which 
antedates even the Rig Veda, is still recognized. To the 
' ploughshare ' and the ' plough ' the Rig Veda has an hymn 
(iv. 57. 5-8), and so the ritual gives them a cake at the sacri- 
fice {Cujiaclrya., Cat. Br. ii. 6. 3. 5). The number of the gods, 
in the Rig Veda estimated as thirty-three, or, at the end of this 
period, as thousands, remains as doubtful as ever ; but, in 
general, all groups of deities become greater in number. 
Thus, in TS. i. 4. 11. i, the Rudras alone are counted as 
thirty-three instead of eleven; and, ib. v. 5. 2. 5, the eight 
Vasus become three hundred and thirty-three ; but it is 
elsewhere hinted that the number of the gods stands in the 
same relation to that of men as that in which men stand to 
the beasts ; that is, there are not quite so many gods as men 
(Cat. B}'. ii, 3. 2. 18), 

Of more importance than the addition of new deities is the 
subdivision of the old. As one finds in Greece a Zeus Kara- 
■)(B6vio<i beside a Zevs ^cVtos, so in the Yajur Veda and Brah- 
manas are found (an extreme instance) hail ' to Kaya,' and 
hail 'to Kasmai,' that is, the god Ka is differentiated into tv/o 
divinities, according as he is declined as a noun or as a pro- 
noun ; for this is the god " Who ? " as the dull Brahmanas 
interpreted that verse of the Rig Veda which asks ' to whom 
(which, as) god shall we offer sacrifice?' (Mait. S. iii. 12. 5.) 
But ordinarily one divinity like Agni is subdivided, according 
to his functions, as 'lord of food,' 'lord of prayer,' etc.-^ 

In the Brahmanas different names are given to the chief 
god, but he is most often called the Father-god (Prajapati, 
' lord of creatures,' or the Father, pita). His earlier Vedic type 
is Brihaspati, the lord of strength, and, from another point of 

1 Barth, loc. cit. p. 42. 


view, the All-god,-^ The other gods fall into various groups, 
the most significant being the triad of Fire, Wind, and Sun.''^ 
Not much weight is to be laid on the theological speculations 
of the time as indicative of primitive conceptions, although 
they may occasionally hit true. For out of the number of 
inane fancies it is reasonable to suppose that some might coin- 
cide with historic facts. Thus the All-gods of the Rig Veda, 
by implication, are of later origin than the other gods, and this, 
very likely, was the case ; but it is a mere guess on the part of 
the priest. The Catapatka, iii. 6.'i. 28, speaks of the All-gods 
as gods that gained immortality on a certain occasion, i.e., be- 
came immortal like other gods. So the Adityas go to heaven 
before the Angirasas (Ait. Br. iv. 17), but this has no such 
historical importance as some scholars are inclined to think. 
The lesser gods are in part carefully grouped and numbered, 
in a manner somewhat contradictory to what must have been 
the earlier belief. Thus the ' three kinds of gods ' are now 
Vasus, of earth, Rudras, of air, and Adityas, of sky, and the 
daily offerings are divided between them ; the morning offering 
belonging only to the Vasus, the mid-day one only to (Indra 
and) the Rudras, the third to the Adityas with the Vasus and 
Rudras together.^ Again, the morning and mid-day pressing 
belong to the gods alone, and strict rule is observed in dis- 
tinguishing their portion from that of the Manes {Qat. Br. iv. 
4. 22). The difference of sex is quite ignored, so that the 
' universal Agni ' is identified with (mother) earth ; as is also, 
once or twice, Piishan {ib. iii. 8. 5. 4 ; 2. 4. 19 ; ii. 5. 4. 7). As 
the 'progenitor,' Agni facilitates connubial union, and is called 
" the head god, the progenitor among gods, the lord of beings " 
(/^. iii. 4. 3. 4; iii. 9. i. 6). Pushan is interpreted to mean 

1 He has analogy with Agni in being made of 'seven persons (males),' Cat. Br. 
X. 2. 2. T. 

2 Compare Mait. S. iv. 2. 12, ' sons of Prajapati, Agni, Vayu, SHrya.' 

3 Cat. Br. i. 3. 4. 12 ; iv. 3. 5. i. 


cattle, and Brihaspati is the priestly caste {ih. iii. 9. i. 10 ff.). 
The base of comparison is usually easy to find. ' The earth 
nourishes,' and ' Pushan nourishes,' hence Pushan is the earth; 
or 'the earth belongs to all' and Agni is called 'belonging to 
all ' (universal), hence the two are identified. The All-gods, 
merely on account of their name, are now the All ; Aditi is the 
'unbounded' earth {Jb. iii. 9. i. 13; iv. i. i. 23; i. i. 4. 5 ; iii. 
2. 3. 6). Agni represents all the gods, and he is the dearest, 
the closest, and the surest of all the gods (//'. i. 6. 2. 8 fi.). 
It is said that man on earth fathers the fire (that is, protects it), 
and when he dies the fire that he has made his son on earth 
becomes his father, causing him to be reborn in heaven {ib. ii. 

3- 3- 3-5 ; ^'i- I- 2. 26). 

The wdves of the gods {lievlinam patnlr yajati), occasionally 
mentioned in the Rig Veda, have now an established place and 
cult apart from that of the gods {ib. i. 9. 2. 11). The fire on 
the hearth is god Agni in person, and is not a divine or mystic 
type ; but he is prayed to as a heavenly friend. Some of these 
traits are old, but they are exaggerated as compared with the 
more ancient theology. When one goes on a journey or 
returns from one, ' even if a king were in his house ' he should 
not greet him till he makes homage to his hearth-fires, either 
with spoken words or with silent obeisance. For Agni and 
Prajapati are one, they are son and father (//». ii. 4. i. 3, 10; 
vi. I. 2. 26). The gods have mystic names, and these 'who 
will dare to speak?' Thus, Indra's mystic name is Arjuna 
(//'. ii. I. 2. 11). In the early period of the Rig Veda the 
priest dares to speak. The pantheism of the end of the Rig 
Veda is here decided and plain-spoken, as it is in the Atharvan. 
As it burns bri2:htlv or not the fire is in turn identified with 
different gods, Rudra, Varuna, Indra, and ]Mitra (Jb. ii. 3. 2. 9 ff.). 
Agni is all the gods and the gods are in men (ib. iii. i. 3. 1 ; 
4. I. 19; ii. 3. 2. I : Indra and King Yama dwell in men). 
And, again, the Father (Prajapati) is the All; he is the year 


of twelve months and five seasons (Jb. i. 3. 5. 10), Then fol- 
lows a characteristic bit. Seventeen verses are to be recited 
to correspond to the ' seventeenfold ' Prajapati. But 'some 
say ' twenty-one verses ; and he may recite twenty-one, for if 
' the three worlds ' are added to the above seventeen one gets 
twenty, and the sun (yja csa tapati^ makes the twenty-first ! As 
to the number of worlds, it is said {jb. i. 2. 4. 11, 20-21) that 
there are three worlds, and possibly a fourth. 

Soma is now the moon, but as being one half of Vritra, the 
evil demon. The other half became the belly of creatures 
{ib. i. 6. 3. lyj. Slightly different is the statement that Soma 
was Vritra, iv. 2, 5. 15. In Ait. Br. i. 27, King Soma is bought 
of the Gandharvas by Vac, ' speech,' as a cow.^ With phases of 
the moon Indra and Agni are identified. One is the deity 
of the new : the other, of the full moon ; v»'hile Mitra is the 
waning, and Varuna the waxing moon {Cat. Br. ii. 4. 4. 17-18). 
This opposition of deities is more fully expressed in the at- 
tempt to make antithetic the relations of the gods and the 
Manes, thus : ' The gods are represented by spring, summer, 
and rains ; the Fathers, by autumn, winter, and the dewy 
season ; the gods, by the waxing ; the Fathers, by the waning 
moon ; the gods, by day ; the Fathers, by night ; the gods, by 
morning; the Fathers, by afternoon' {Cat. Br. ii. i. 31; ib. ii. 
4. 2. iff.: 'The sun is the light of the gods; the moon, of 
the Fathers ; fire, of men'). Between morning and afternoon, 
as representative of gods and Manes respectively, stands mid- 
day, which, according to the same authority (ii. 4. 2. 8), repre- 
sents men. The passage first cited continues thus : ' The 
seasons are gods and Fathers ; gods are immortal ; the Fathers 

1 Interesting is the fact that only priests may eat sacrificial food and drink soma 
at this period. When even the king should drink soma^ he is made to drink some 
transubstantiated liquor which, the priests inform him, has been • made into sotna ' 
for him by magic, for the latter is too holy for any warrior really to drink (vii. 19 ; 
viii. 20). But in the more popular feasts there are indications that this rule is often 
broken. Compare Weber, Rdjasilya p. 98. 


are mortal.' In regard to the relation between spring and the 
other seasons, the fifth section of this passage may be com- 
pared : ' Spring is the priesthood ; summer, the warrior-caste ; 
the rains are the {j'tc) people.' ^ 

Among the conspicuous divine forms of this period is the 
Queen of Serpents, v/hose verses are chanted over lire ; but she 
is the earth, according to some passages {Ait. Br. v. 23 ; Cat. 
Br. ii. I. 4. 30 ; iv, 6. 9. 17). In their divine origin there is, 
indeed, according to the theology now current, no difference 
between the powers of light and of darkness, between the gods 
and the ' spirits,' a suras, i.e., evil spirits. Many tales begin with 
the formula : ' The gods and evil spirits, both born of the 
Father-god' {Cat. Br. i. 2. 4. 8). Weber thinks that this 
implies close acquaintance with Persian worship, a sort of tit- 
for-tat ; for the Hindu would in that case call the holy spirit, 
ahura, of the Persian a devil, just as the Persian makes an 
evil spirit, daeva, out of the Hindu god, dcva. But the rela- 
tions between Hindu and Persian in this period are still very 
uncertain. It is interesting to follow out some of the Brah- 
manic legends, if only to see what was the conception of the 
evil spirits. In one such theological legend the gods and the 
(evil) spirits, both being sons of the Father-god, inherited 
from him, respectively, mind and speech ; hence the gods got 
the sacrifice and heaven, while the evil spirits got this earth. 
Again, the two entered on the inheritance of their father in 
time, and so the gods have the waxing moon, and the evil 
spirits, the waning moon {Jb. iii. 2. i. 18 ; i. 7. 2. 22). 

But what these Asuras or (evil) spirits really are may be 
read easily from the texts. The gods are the spirits of light ; 
the Asuras are the spirits of darkness. Therewith is indis- 
solubly connected the idea that sin and darkness are of the 
same nature. So one reads that when the sun rises it frees 

1 For the relations of the different castes at this period, see Weber, in the tenth 
volume of the bidische Stiidicn. 


itself 'from darkness, from sin,' as a snake from its slough 
ijb. ii. 3. I. 6). And in another passage it is said that dark- 
ness and illusion were given to the Asuras as their portion by 
the Father-god {ib, ii. 4. 2. 5). With this may be compared also 
the frequent grouping of the Asuras or Rakshas with darkness 
(c.g.^ ib. iii. S. 2. 15 ; iv. 3. 4. 21). As to the nature of the gods 
the evidence is contradictory. Both gods and evil spirits were 
originally soulless and mortal. Agni (Fire) alone was immortal, 
and it was onlv throuiih him that the others continued to live. 
They became immortal by putting in their inmost being the 
holy (immortal j fire {ib. ii. 2. 2. 8). On the other hand, it is 
said that Agni was originally without brightness ; and Indra, 
identified with the sun, was originally dark {ib. iv. 5. 4. 3 ; iii. 4. 
2. 15). The belief in an originally human condition of the 
gods (even the Father-god was originally mortal) is exemplified 
in a further passage, where it is said that the gods used to 
live on earth, but they grew tired of man's endless petitions 
and fled ; also in another place, where it is stated that the 
gods used to drink together with men visibly, but now they 
do so invisibly {ib. ii. 3. 4. 4 ; iii. 6. 2. 26). How did such gods 
obtain their supremacy ? The answer is simple, ' by sacrifice ' 
{Cat. Br. iii. i. 4. 3 ; Ait. Br. ii. i. i). So now they live by 
sacrifice : * The sun would not rise if the priest did not make 
sacrifice' {Cat. Br. ii. 3. i. 5). Even the order of things would 
change if the order of ceremonial were varied : Night would 
be eternal if the priests did so and so ; the months would not 
pass, one following the other, if the priests walked out or 
entered together, etc. {ib. iv. 3. i. 9-10). It is by a knowledge 
of the Vedas that one conquers all things, and the sacrifice 
is part and application of this knowledge, which in one passage 
is thus reconditely subdivided : 'Threefold is knowledge, the 
Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, and the Sama Veda.^ The Rig 
Veda, i.e., the verses sung, are the earth ; the Yajus is air ; the 

1 The Atharvan is not yet recognized as a \'ed.a. 


Saman is the sky. He conquers earth, air, and sky respectively 
by these three Vedas, The Rik and Saman are Indra and are 
speech ; the Yajus is Vishnu and mind' (//'. iv. 6. 7. i it.). An 
item follows that touches on a modern philosophical question. 
Apropos of speech and mind : 'Where speech (alone) existed 
everything was accomplished and known ; but where mind 
(alone) existed nothing was accomplished or known ' ijb. i. 4. 
4. 3-4, 7). Mind and speech are male and female, and as 
yoke-fellows bear sacrifice to the gods ; to be compared is 
the interesting dispute between mind and speech {ib. 5. 8). 
As dependent as is man on what is given by the gods, so 
dependent are the gods on what is offered to them by men 
{Till ft. Br. ii. 2, 7. 3 ; Cat. Br. i. 2. 5. 24). Even the gods 
are now not native to heaven. They wan heaven by sacrifice, 
by metres, etc. {Cat. Br. iv. 3. 2. 5). 

What, then, is the sacrifice ? A means to enter into the 
godhead of the gods, and even to control the gods : a cere- 
mony where every word was pregnant with consequences ; ^ 
every movement momentous. There are indications, however, 
that the priests themselves understood that much in the cere- 
monial was pure hocus-pocus, and not of such importance as 
it was reputed to be. But such faint traces as survive of a 
freer spirit objecting to ceremonial absurdities only mark more 
clearly the level plain of unintelligent superstition which was 
the feeding-ground of the ordinary priests. 

Some of the cases of revolted common-sense are worth 
citing. Conspicuous as an authority on the sacrifice, and at 
the same time as a somewhat recalcitrant priest, is Yaj naval kya, 
author and critic, one of the greatest names in Hindu ecclesi- 
astical history. It was he who, apropos of the new rule in 

1 And even the pronunciation of a word or the accent is fateful. The famous 
godly example of this is where Tvashtar, the artificer, in anger mispronounced indra- 
Qcctrii 2i?, indracaf7'u, whereby \he. meaning was changed from ' conqueror of Indra' 
to ' Indra-conquered,' with unexpected result {^ai. Br. i. 6. 3. 8 ; Tdiit. S. ii. 4. 12. i). 


ethics, so strongly insisted upon after the Vedic age and al- 
ready beginning to obtain, the rule that no one should eat the 
flesh of the (sacred) cow (' Let no one eat beef. . . . Whoever 
eats it would be reborn (on earth) as a man of ill fame ') said 
bluntly : 'As for me I eat (beef) if it is good (firm).'^ It cer- 
tainly required courage to say this, with the especial warning 
against beef, the meat of an animal peculiarly holy {Cat. Br. 
iii. I. 2. 2i). It was, again, Yajnavalkya {Cat. Br. i. 3. i. 26), 
who protested against the priests' new demand that the benefit 
of the sacrifice should accrue in part to the priest ; v.'hereas 
it had previously been understood that not the sacrificial priest 
but the sacrificer (the worshipper, the man who hired the priest 
and paid the expenses) got all the benefit of the ceremony. 
Against the priests' novel and unjustifiable claim Yajnavalkya 
axclaims : ' How can people have faith in this ? Whatever be 
the blessing for which the priests pra}^, this blessing is for the 
worshipper (sacrificer) alone.' ^ It was Yajnavalkya, too, who 
rebutted some new superstition involving the sacrificer's wife, 
with the sneer, 'who cares whether the wife,' etc. {kas tad 
adriveta, ib. 21). These protestations are naively recorded, 
though it is once suggested that in some of his utterances 
Yajnavalkya was not in earnest {jb. iv. 2. i. 7). The high 
mind of this great priest is contrasted with the mundane views 
of his contemporaries in the prayers of himself and of another 
priest ; for it is recorded that whereas Yajnavalkya's prayer to 
the Sun was 'give me light' (or 'glory,' %'arco me dc/ii^, that 
of Aupoditeya was 'give me cows' {ib. i. 9. 3. 16). The 
chronicler adds, after citing these prayers, that one obtains 

1 The word is m'nsala, strong, or 'from the shoulder' (?). In iii. 4. i. 2 one cooks 
an ox or a goat for a very distinguished guest, as a sort of guest-sacrifice. So the 
guest is called 'cow-killer' (Weber, Ved. Beitriige, p. 36). 

2 Compare il>. i. 9. i. 21, "let the priest not say ' guard me (or us),' but 'guard 
this worshipper (sacrificer),' for if he says 'me' he induces no blessing at all; the 
blessing is not for the priest, but for the sacrificer." In both passages, most emphati- 
cally, yaja7nanasyaiva, ' for the sacrificer alone.' 


whatever he prays for, either illumination or wealth.^ . Yajna- 
valkya, however, is not the only protestant. In another pas- 
sage, ib. ii. 6. 3. 14-17, the sacrificer is told to shave his head 
all around, so as to be like the sun ; this will ensure his being 
able to ' consume (his foes) on all sides like the sun,' and it 
is added : But Asuri said, ' What on earth has it to do with 
his head ? Let him not shave.' ^ 

* Eternal holiness' is won by him that offers the sacrifice of 
the seasons. Characteristic is the explanation, ' for such an 
one wins the year, and a year is a complete whole, and a 
complete whole is indestructible (eternal) ; hence his holiness 
is indestructible, and he thereby becomes a part of a year and 
goes to the gods ; but as there is no destruction in the gods, 
his holiness is therefore indestructible' {ib. ii. 6. 3. i). 

Not only a man's self but also his Manes are benefited by 
means of sacrifice." He gives the Manes pleasure with his 
offering, but he also ra'ises their estate, and sends them up to 
live in a higher world."* The cosmological position of the 
Manes are the a7'anta?'adi^as, that is, between the four quarters; 
though, according to some, there are three kinds of them, so?na- 
Manes, sacrifice-Manes (?klanes of the sacrificial straw), and 
the burnt, i.e., the spirits of those that have been consumed in 
fire. They are, again, identified with the seasons, and are 
expressly mentioned as the guardians of houses, so that the 
Brahmanic Manes are at once Penates, Lares, and Manes.^ 

1 Yant kdviain kamayatc so ^svtdt kdmah samrdhyate, 

2 Asuri's name as a theologian is important, since the Sankhya philosophy is 
intimately connected with him ; if this Asuri be not another man with the same 
name (compare Weber, Lit. p. 152). 

3 The regular sacrifices to the. Manes are daily and monthly ; funerals and ' faith- 
feasts ' crdddha, are occasional additions. 

^ Each generation of Manes rises to a better (higher) state if the offerings con- 
tinue. As a matter of ceremonial this means that the remoter generations of fathers 
are put indefinitely far off, while the immediate predecessors of a man are the real 
beneficiaries ; they climb up to the sky on the offering. 

5 Compare Qat. Br. i. 8. i. 40 ; ii. 6. i. 3, 7, 10, 42 ; ii. 4. 2. 24 ; v. 5. 4. 28. 


The sacrifice is by no means meant as an aid to the acquire- 
ment of heavenly bliss alone. Many of the great sacrifices are 
for the gaining of good things on earth. In one passage there 
is described a ceremony, the result of which is to be that the 
warrior, who is the sacrificer, may say to a man of the people 
"fetch out and give me your store " {ib. i. 3. 2. 15; iv. 3. 3. 10). 
Everybody sacrifices, even the beasts erect altars and fires ! ^ 
That one should sacrifice without the ulterior motive of gain is 
unknown. Brahmanic India knows no thank-offering. Ordi- 
narily the gain is represented as a compensating gift from the 
divinity, whom the sacrificer pleases with his sacrifice. Very 
plainly is this expressed. " He offers the sacrifice to the god 
with this text : ' Do thou give to me (andj I (will) give to thee ; 
do thou bestow on me (and) I (will) bestow on thee' " i^Vaj. S. 
iii. 50 ; Cat. Br. ii. 5, 3. 19). But other ends are accomplished. 
By the sacrifice he may injure his enemy, but in offering it, if 
he leaves too much over, that part accrues to the good of his 
foe (Cat. Br. i. 2. i. 7; 9. i. 18). 

The sacrifice is throughout symbolical. The sacrificial 
»straw represents the world; the metre used represents all 
living creatures, etc., — a symbolism frequently suggested 
by a mere pun, but often as ridiculously expounded with- 
out such aid. The altar's measure is the measure of 
metres. The cord of regeneration (badge of the twice-born, 
the holy cord of the high castes) is triple, because food is 
threefold, or because the father and mother with the child 
make three {Cat. Br. iii. 5. i. 7 ff. ; 2. i. 12); the jagati > 
metre contains the living world, because this is called jagat 
{ib. i. 8. 2. 11). 

Out of the varied mass of rules, speculations, and fancies, a 
few of general character may find place here, that the reader* 

1 This passage {ib. ii. 1.2, 7) is preceded by a typical argument for setting up the 
fires under the Pleiades, the wives of the Great Bear stars. He may do or he may 
not do so — the reasons contradict other, and all of them are incredibly silly. 


may gain a collective impression of the religious literature of 
the time. 

The fee for the sacrifice is mentioned in one place as one 
thousand cows. These must be presented in groups of three 
hundred and thirty-three each, three times, with an odd one of 
three colors. This is on account of the holy character of the 
numeral three. ' But Asuri (apparently fearful that this rule 
would limit the fee) said "he may give more "' {Cat. Br. iv. 5. 
8. 14). As to the fee, the rules are precise and their pro- 
pounders are unblushing. The priest performs the sacrifice 
for the fee alone, and it must consist of valuable garments, 
kine, horses,^ or gold — when each is to be given is carefully 
stated. Gold is coveted most, for this is 'immortality,' 'the 
seed of Agni,' and therefore peculiarly agreeable to the pious 
priest.^ For his greed, which goes so far that he proclaims 
that he who gives a thousand kine obtains all things of heaven 
{ib. iv. 5. I. 11), the priest has good precept to cite, for the 
gods of heaven, in all the tales told of them, ever demand a 
reward from each other when they help their neighbor-gods. 
Nay, even the gods require a witness and a vow, lest they, 
injure each other. Discord arose among them when once they 
performed the guest-offering ; they divided into different parties, 
Agni with the Vasus, Soma with the Rudras, Varuna with the 
Adityas, and Indra with the Maruts. But with discord came 
weakness, and the evil spirits got the better of them. So they 
made a covenant with each other, and took \\'ind as witness 
that they would not deceive each other. This famous covenant 
of the gods is the prototype of that significant covenant made 
by the priest, that he would not, while pretending to beseech 

1 This last fee is not so common. For an oblation to Surya the fee is a white 
horse or a white bull ; either of them representing the proper form of the sun 
{^Qat. Br. ii. 6. 3. 9) ; but another authority specifies twelve oxen and a plough 
(Taitt. S. i. 8. 7). 

2 (^at. Br. ii. I. I. 5 ; 2. 3. 28 ; iv. 3. 4. 14 ; 5. i. 15 ; four kinds of fees. ib. iv, 3. 4. 
6, 7, 24 ff. (Milk is also ' Agni's seed,' ib. ii. 2. 4. 15). 


good for the sacrificer,^ secretly do him harm (as he could by 
altering the ceremonial).'^ The theory of the fee, in so far as 
it affects the sacrifices, is that the gods, the A'lanes, and men 
all exist by what is sacrificed. Even the gods seek rewards ; 
hence the priests do the same.^ The sacrificer sacrifices to get 
a place in dei'aloka (the world of the gods). The sacrifice goes 
up to the world of gods, and after it goes the fee which the 
sacrificer (the patronj gives ; the sacrificer follows by catching 
hold of the fee given to the priests (//''. i. 9. 3. 1). It is to be 
noted, moreover, that sacrificing for a fee is recognized as a 
profession. The work (sacrifice is work, 'work is sacrifice,' it 
is somewhere said) is regarded as a matter of business. There 
are three means of livelihood occasionallv referred to, tellinsr 
stories, singing songs, and reciting the Veda at a sacrifice 
{Cat. Br. iii. 2. \. 16). 

As an example of the absurdities given as ' the ways of 
knowledge ' (absurdities which are necessary to know in order 
to a full understanding of the mental state under consideration) 
may be cited Qat. Br. iv. 5. 8. 11, where it is said that if the 
sacrificial cow goes east the sacrificer wins a good world here- 
after ; if north, he becomes more glorious on earth ; if west, 
rich in people and crops; if south, he dies; 'such are the 
ways of knowledge.' In the same spirit it is said that the sun 
rises east because the priest repeats certain verses {Ait. Br. i. 

7. 4). No little stress is laid on geographical position. The 
east is the quarter of the gods ; the north, of men ; the south, 
of the dead (Manes; Cat. Br. i. 2. 5. 17); while the west is 
the region of snakes, according to ib. iii. i. i. 7. On account 
of the godly nature of the east ("from the east came the gods 

1 Yet in Ait. Br. iii. 19, the priest is coolly informed how he may be able to slay 
his patron by making a little change in the invocations. Elsewhere such conduct is 

- For other covenants, see the epic (chapter on Hinduism). 

3 Cat. Br. iii. 4. 2. i ff . ; iii. 6. 2. 25 ; iv. 3. 5. 5 ; iv. 4. i. 17 ; 6. 6. 5 ; 7. 6, etc.; iii. 

8. 2. 27 ; 3. 26 ; Ait. Br. i. 24. 


westward to men," ib. ii. 6. i, ii) the sacrificial building, like 
occidental churches, is built east and west, not north and 
south. The cardinal points are elsewhere given to certain 
gods ; thus the north is Rudra's.^ 

It has been said that the theological ideas are not clear. 
This was inevitable, owing to the tendency to identify various 
divinities. Especially noticeable is the identification of new or 
local gods with others better accredited, Rudra and Agni, etc, 
Rudra is the god of cattle, and when the other gods went to 
heaven by means of sacrifice he remained on earth ; his local 
names are Qarva, Bhava, 'Beast-lord,' Rudra, Agni {Cat. Br. i. 
7. 3. 8; ]\Iait. S. i. 6. 6). Indra is the Vasu of the gods. The 
gods are occasionally thirty-four in number, eight Vasus, eleven 
Rudras, twelve Adityas, heaven and earth, and Prajapati as 
the thirty-fourth ; but this Prajapati is the All and Everything 
{Cat. B?'. i. 6. 4. 2 ; iv. 5.7.2 ff.). Of these gods, who at first 
were all alike and good, three became superior, Agni, Indra, 
and Surya. But, again, the Sun is death, and Agni is head of 
all the gods. ^Moreover, the Sun is now Indra ; the Manes 
are the seasons, and Varuna, too, is the seasons, as being the 
year {Cat. Br. iv. 5. 4. i ; i. 6. 4. iS ; iv. 4, 5. 18). Aditi, as we 
have said, is the Earth ; the fee for an offering to her is a 
cow. Why ? Because Earth is a cow and Aditi is Earth ; 
Earth is a mother and a cow is a mother. Hence the fee 
is a cow." 

The tales of the gods, for the most part, are foolish. But 
they show well what conception the priests had of their divini- 

1 //'. ii. 6. 2. 5. Here Rudra (compare (^iva and Hekate of the cross-roads) is said 
to go upon ' cross-roads ' ; so that his sacrifice is on cross-roads — one of the new teacli- 
ings since the time of the Rig Veda. Rudra's sister, Ambika, ib. 9, is another new 
creation, the genius of autumnal sickness. 

2 (^at. Br. ii. 2. 1. 21. How much non-serious fancy there may be here it is diffi- 
cult to determine. It seems impossible that such as follows can have been meant in 
earnest : " The sacrifice, prayaja, is victory, jaya, because yoja =^Jaya. With this 
knowledge one gets the victory over his rivals" (ib. i. 5. 3. 3, 10). 


ties. Man's original skin was put by the gods upon the cow; 
hence a cow runs away from a man because she thinks he is 
trying to get back his skin. The gods cluster about at an 
oblation, each crying out ' My name,' i.e.^ each is anxious to 
get it. The gods, with the evil spirits — 'both sons of the 
Father' — attract to themselves the plants; Varuna gets the 
barley by a pun. They build castles to defend themselves 
from the evil spirits. Five gods are picked out as worthy of 
offerings: Aditi, Speech, Agni, Soma, the Sun (five, because 
the seasons are five and the regions are five). Indra and Wind 
have a dispute of possession; Prajapati, the Father, decides it. 
The heavenly singers, called the Gandharvas, recited the Veda 
to entice (the divine female) Speech to come to them ; while 
the gods, for the same purpose, created the lute, and sang and 
played to her. She came to the gods; hence the weakness of 
women in regard to such things. Indra is the god of sacrifice; 
the stake of the sacrifice is Vishnu's ; Vayu (Wind) is the 
leader of beasts ; Bhaga is blind ; ^ Pushan (because he eats 
mush) is toothless. The gods run a race to see who shall get 
first to the sacrifice, and Indra and A2;ni win ; thev are the 
warrior-caste among the gods, and the All-gods are the people 
(i'i(ve, z'/f.). Yet, again, the Maruts are the people, and Varuna 
is the warrior-caste ; and, again, Soma is the warrior-caste. 
The Father-god first created birds, then reptiles and snakes. 
As these all died he created mammalia; these survived because 
they had food in themselves; hence the Vedic poet says 'three 
generations have passed away.' 



1 Although Bhaga is here {(^ai. Br. i. -. 4. 6-7, aiidho bhagas) interpreted as the 
Sun, he is evidently the same with Good Luck {•• TV(p\6s yap 6 UXovtos'-) or -wealth. 

- CMt. Br. iii. i. 2. 13 ft'.; i. i. 2. iS ; iii. 6. i. 8 ff. ; ii. 5. 2. i; iv. 2. i. 11; iii. 4. 4. 
3 ff. ; 2. 3. 6-12, 13-14; iv. 5. 5. 12 : I. 3. 13 ff. ; iii. 2. 4. 5-6 ; 3. 2. S ; 7. i. 17 ; iv. 2. 
5. 17; 4. I. 15 ; i. 7. 4. 6-7 ; ii. 4. 3. 4 ff. : ii. 5. 2. 34 : 5. i. 12 ; 5. i. i ff. ; RV. viii. loi. 
14. The reader must distinguish, in the name of Brahma, the god from the priest, 
and this from brahmd, prayer. The first step is brahma — force, power, prayer; 
then this is, as a masculine Brahma, the one who prays, that is, pray-er, the Brahman 


Varuna is now quite the god of niglit and god of purification, 
as a water-god. Water is the ' essence (sap) of immortality,' 
and the bath of purification at the end of tlie sacrifice {ava- 
hhrihd) stands in direct relation to Varuna. The formula to 
be repeated is : "With the gods' help may I wash out sin 
against the gods; with the help of men the sin against men" 
{(^at. Br. iv. 4. 3. 15; ii. 5. 2. 47). Tvlitra and Varuna are, 
respectively, intelligence and will, priest and warrior ; and 
while the former may exist without the latter, the latter cannot 
live without the former, ' but they are perfect only when they 
cooperate' {ih. iv. i. 4. i). 

Of the divine legends some are old, some new. One speaks 
of the sacrifice as having been at first human, subsequently 
changing to beast sacrifice, eventually to a rice offering, 
which last now represents the original sacrificial animal, man.-^ 
Famous, too, is the legend of the flood and Father Manu's 
escape from it {Celt. Br. i. 8. i. i ff.). Again,- the Vedic myth 
is retold, recounting the rape of soma by the metrical equiva- 
lent of fire {Taitt. Br. i. i. 3. 10; Cat. Br. i. 8. 2. 10). An- 
other tale takes up anew the old story of Cupid and Psyche 
(Pururavas and Urva^i); and another that of the Hindu Pro- 
metheus story, wherein Matari^van fetches fire from heaven, 
and gives it to mortals {Taitt. Br. iii. 2. 3. 2 ; Cat. Br. xi. 5. i. 
I ; i. 7. I. 11)." 

Interesting, also, is the tale of Vishnu having been a dwarf, 
and the tortoise avatar, not of Vishnu, but of Prajapati ; also 
the attempt of the evil spirits to climb to heaven, and the trick 
with which Indra outwitted them.'^ For it is noticeable that 

priest, as, in the Rig Veda, x. 141. 3, Brihaspati is the ' Brahma of gods.' The next 
(Brahmanic) step is deified bra/vna, the personal Brahma as god, called also Father- 
god (Prajapati) or simply The Father {pita). 

1 Compare Mdit. S. iii. lo. 2 ; Ait. Br. ii. 8 ; (^at. Br. i. 2. 3. 5 ; vi. 2. i. 39: 3. i. 
24 ; ii. ;. 2. 16, a ram and ewe ' made of barley.' On human sacrifices, compare 
Miiller, A.SL. p. 419; Weber, ZD]\IG. xviii. 262 (seethe Bibliography); Strcifen, i. 54. 

2 Weber has translated some of these legends, hid. Strcifeii. i. 9 ff. 

3 Tditt. Br. iii. 2. 9. 7 ; (Jat. Br. i. 2. 5. 5 ; ii. i. 2. 13 ff. ; vii. 5. i. 6. ^ 


the evil spirits are as strong by nature as are the gods, and it 
is only by craft that the latter prevail.^ 

Seldom are the tales of the gods indecent. The story of 
Prajapati's incest with his daughter is a remnant of nature 
worship which survives, in more or less anthropomorphic form, 
from the time of the Rig Veda (x. 6i.) to that of mediaeval 
literature,^ and is found in full in the epic, as in the Brahmanic 
period ; but the story always ends wdth the horror of the gods 
at the act/' 

Old legends are varied. The victory over Vritra is now 
expounded thus : Indra, who slays Vritra, is the sun. Vritra 
is the moon, who swims into the sun's mouth on the night of 
the new moon. The sun rises after swallowing him, and the 
moon is invisible because he is swallowed (" he who knows 
this swallows his foes "). The sun vomits out the moon, and 
the latter is then seen in the west, and increases again, to 
serve the sun as food. In another passage it is said that when 
the moon is invisible he is hiding in plants and waters (^Qat. 
Br. i. 6. 3. 17; 4. iS-20). 


When the sacrifice is completed the priest returns, as it were, 
to earth, and becomes human. He formally puts off his sacri- 
ficial vow, and rehabilitates himself with humanity, saying, "I 
am even he that I am."'* As such a man, through service to 
the gods become a divine offering, and no longer human, was 
doubtless considered the creature that first served as the 

^ Compare Mdit. S. i. 9. 8 ; (^at. Br. i. 6. i. i ff. The seasons desert the gods, 
and the demons thrive. In (^at. Br.A. 5. 4. 6-1 1, the Asuras and Indra contend with 
numbers. ~ Miiller, ASL. p. 529. 

3 Mdit. S. iv. 2. 12 ; ^at. Br. i. 7. 4. i; ii. i. 2. 9 ; vi. i. 3. 8 ; Ait. Br. iii. 33. Com- 
pare Muir, OST. iv. p. 45. At a later period there are frequently found indecent tales 
of the gods, and the Brahmanas themselves are vulgar enough, but they exhibit no 
special lubricity on the part of the priests. 

4 Idam aham ya ci'd'snii so asmi, (^at. Br. i. i. 1.6; 9, 3. 23. 


sacrificial animal. Despite protestant legends such as that just 
recorded, despite formal disclaimers, human sacrifice existed 
long after the period of the Rig Veda, where it is alluded to ; 
a period when even old men are exposed to die.-^ The 
anaddhapurusha is not a fiction ; for that, on certain occasions, 
instead of this 'man of straw' a real victim was offered, is 
shown by the ritual manuals and by Brahmanic texts.- Thus, 
in Cat. Br. vi. 2. i. 18: "He kills a man first. . . . The cord 
that holds the man is the longest." It is noteworthy that also 
among the American Indians the death of a human victim by 
fire was regarded as a religious ceremony, and that, just as in 
India the man to be sacrificed was allowed almost all his 
desires for a year, so the victim of the Indian was first greeted 
as brother and presented with gifts, even with a wife.'" 

But this, the terrible barbaric side of religious w^orship, is 
now distinctly yielding to a more humane religion. The 'barley 
ewe ' ^ is taking the place of a bloodier offering. It has been 
urged that the humanity^ and the accompanying silliness of 
the Brahmanic period as compared with the more robust char- 
acter of the earlier age are due to the w^eakening and softening 
effects of the climate. But we doubt whether the climate of 
the Punjab differs as much from that of Delhi and Patna as 
does the character of the Rig Veda from that of the Brahmanas. 
We shall protest again when we come to the subject of 

1 RV. viii. 51. 2 ; Zimmer, loc. cit. p. 328. 

2 Compare Weber, Episch. in Vedisch. Ritual^ p. ']']'] (and above). The man who 
is slaughtered must be neither a priest nor a slave, but a warrior or a man of the 
third caste (Weber, loc. cit. above). 

3 Le Mercier^ 1637, ap. Parkman, loc. cit. p. 80. The current notion that the 
American Indian burns his victims at the stake merely for pleasure is not incorrect. 
He frequently did so, as he does so to-day, but- in the seventeenth century this act 
often is part of a religious ceremony. He probably would have burned his captive, 
anyway, but he gladly utilized his pleasure as a means of propitiating his gods. In 
India it was just the other way. 

^ Substitutes of metal or of earthen victims are also mentioned. 
. 5 That the'Vedic rite of killing the sacrificial beast (by beating and smothering) 
was very cruel may be seen in the description, Ait. Br. ii. 6. 


Buddhism against the too great influence which has been 
claimed for climate. Politics and society, in our opinion, had 
more to do with altering the religions of India than had a 
higher temperature and miasma'. As a result of ease and sloth 
— for the Brahmans are now the divine pampered servants of 
established kings, not the energetic peers of a changing popu- 
lation of warriors — the priests had lost the inspiration that 
came from action ; they now made no new hymns ; they only 
formulated new rules of sacrifice. They became intellectually 
debauched and altogether weakened in character. Synchro- 
nous with this universal degradation and lack of fibre, is found 
the occasional substitution of barley and rice sacrifices for 
those of blood ; and it may be that a sort of selfish charity was 
at work here, and the priest saved the beast to spare himself. 
But there is no very early evidence of a humane view of sacri- 
fice influencing the priests. 

The Brahman is no Jain. One must read far to hear a note 
of the approaching ahimsd doctrine of 'non-injury.' At most 
one finds a contemptuous allusion, as in a pitying strain, to the 
poor plants and animals that follow after man in reaping some 
sacrificial benefit from a ceremony.^ It does not seem to us 
that a recognized respect for animal life or kindness to dumb 
creatures lies at the root of proxy sacrifice, though it doubtless 
came in play. But still less does it appear probable that, as is 
often said, aversion to beast-sacrilice . is due to the doctrine of 
karma^ and re-birth in animal form. /The karma notion begins 
to appear in the Brahmanas, but U'Ot in the sainsai-a shape of 
transmigration. It was surely not because the Hindu was 
afraid of eating his deceased grandmother that he first abstained 
from meat. For, long after the doctrine of ka?'77ia and sainsara'^ 
is established, animal sacrifices are not only permitted but 

1 Cat. Br. \. 5. 2. 4. 

2 Samsdra is transmigration ; ka7-}}ia, ' act,' implies that the change of abode is 
conditioned by the acts of a former life. Each may exclude the other ; but in common 
parlance each implies the other. 


enjoined ; and the epic characters shoot deer and even eat 
cows. We think, in short, that the cliange began as a sump- 
tuary measure only. In the case of human sacrifice tliere is 
doubtless a civilized repugnance to the act, which is clearly 
seen in many passages where the slaughter of man is made 
purely symbolical. The only wonder is that it should have 
obtained so long after the age of the Rig Veda. But like the 
stone knife of sacrifice among the Romans it is received custom, 
and hard to do away with, for priests are conservative. Human 
sacrifice must have been peculiarly horrible from the fact that 
the sacrificer not only had to kill the man but to eat him, as is 
attested by the formal statement of the liturgical works. -^ But 
in the case of other animals (there are five sacrificial animals, 
of which man is first) we think it was a question of expense on 
the part of the laity. When the soma became rare and expen- 
sive, substitutes were permitted and enjoined. So with the 
great sacrifices. The priests had built up a great complex of 
forms, where at every turn fees were demanded. The whole 
expense, falling on the one individual to whose benefit accrued 
the sacrifice, must have been enormous ; in the case of ordinary 
people impossible. But the priests then permitted the sacrifice 
of substitutes, for their fees still remained; and even in the 
case of human sacrifice some such caution may have worked, 
for ordinarily it cost 'one thousand cattle' to buy a man to be 
sacrificed. A proof of this lies in the fact that animal sacrifices 
were not forbidden at any time, only smaller (cheaper) animals 
took the place of cattle. In the completed Brahmanic code the 
rule is that animals ought not to be killed except at sacrifice, 
and practically the smaller creatures were substituted for cattle, 
just as the latter had gradually taken the place of the old horse 
(and man) sacrifice. 

If advancins: civilization results in an as^reeable chancre of 
morality in many regards, it is yet accompanied with wretched 

1 Weber, IndlscJie Strcifcn, i. p. 72. 


traits in others. The whole silliness of superstition exceeds 
belief. Because Bhallabheya once broke his arm on changing 
the metre of certain formulae, it is evident to the priest that it 
is wrong to trifle with received metres, and hence "let no one 
do this hereafter." There is a compensation on reading such 
trash in the thought that all this superstition has kept for us 
a carefully preserved text, but that is an accident of priestly 
foolishness, and the priest can be credited only with the folly. 
Why is ' horse-grass ' used in the sacrifice ? Because the sacri- 
fice once ran away and "became a horse," Again one is 
thankful for the historical side-light on the horse-sacrifice ; 
but the witlessness of the unconscious historian can but bring 
him into contempt.^ Charms that are said against one are of 
course cast out by other charms. If one is not prosperous 
with one name he takes another. If the cart creaks at the 
sacrifice it is the voice of evil spirits ; and a formula must 
avert the omen. ^(?;;/<^z-husks are liable to turn into snakes ; 
a formula must avert this catastrophe. Everything done at 
the sacrifice is godly ; crgo.^ everything human is to be done 
in an inhuman manner, and, since in human practice one cuts 
his left finger-nails first and combs the left side of the beard 
first, at the sacrifice he must cut nails and beard first on the 
other side, for "whatever is human at a sacrifice is useless" 
(jiyrddham vai tad yajnasya yad manusani). Of religious puns 
we have given instances already. Agni says: "prop me on 
the propper for that is proper " (Jiitd)^ etc., etc.- One of these 
examples of depraved superstition is of a more dangerous 
nature. The effect of the sacrifice is covert as well as overt. 

1 Cat. Br. i. 7. 3. 19; iii. 4. i. 17. 

- (^'at. Dr. iii. 5. 4. 10 ; 6. 2. 24 ; 5. 3. 17 (compare 6. 4. 23-24 ; 3. 4. 11 ; 2. i. 12) ; 
iii. I. 2. 4; 3. 14; i. 7. 2. 9: vi. I. 2. 14. The cliange of name is interesting. There 
is a remark in another part of tlie same work to the effect tiiat wlien a man prospers 
in Ufe they give his name also to his son, grandson, aiid to his father and grand- 
father (vi. I. 2. 13). On the other hand, ft was the custom of the Indian kings in 
later ages to assume the names of their prosperous grandfathers (JRAS. iv. S5). 


The word is as potent as the act. Consequently if the sacrificer 
during the sacrifice merely mutter the words "let such an one 
die," he must die; for the sacrifice is holy, godl}' ; the words 
are divine, and cannot be frustrated {Cat. Br. iii. i. 4. i ; 
iv. I. I. 26). 

All this superstition would be pardonable if it were primitive. 
But that it comes long after the Vedic poets have sung reveals 
a continuance of stupidity which is marvellous. Doubtless 
those same poets were just as superstitious, but one would 
think that with all the great literature behind them, and the 
thoughts of the philosophers just rising among them, these later 
priests might show a higher level of intelligence. But in this 
regard they are to India what were the monks of mediaeval 
times to Europe. 

We turn now to the ethical side of religion. But, before 
leaving the sacrifice, one point should be explained clearly. 
The Hindu sacrifice can be performed only by the priest, 
and he must be of the highest caste. No other might or could 
perform it. For he alone understood the ancient texts, which 
to the laity were already only half intelligible. Again, as Barth 
has pointed out, the Hindu sacrifice is performed only for one 
individual or his family. It was an expensive rite (for the 
gaining of one object), addressed to many gods for the benefit 
of one man. To ofi^set this, however, one must remember that 
there w^ere popular fetes and sacrifices of a more general nature, 
to which tnan}^ were invited and in which even the lower castes 
took part; and these were also of remote antiquity. 

Already current in the Brahmanas is the phrase 'man's 
debts.' Either three or four of such moral obligations were 
recognized, debts to the gods, to the seers, to the ]\Ianes, and 
to men. Whoever pays these debts, it is said, has discharged 
all his duties, and by him all is obtained, all is won. And 
what are these duties ? To the gods he owes sacrifices ; to the 
seers, study of the Vedas ; to the Mayes, oiTspring ; to man, 


hospitality {Cat. B?-. i. 7. 2. iff.; in Taitt. Br. vi. 3. 10. 5, the 
last fails). Translated into modern equivalents this means 
that man must have faith and good works. But more really is 
demanded than is stated here. First and foremost is the duty 
of truthfulness. Agni is the lord of vows among the gods 
(RV. viii. II. I ; Cat. Br. iii. 2. 2. 24), and speech is a divinity 
(Sarasvati is personified speech, Cat. Br. iii. i. 4. 9, etc.). 
Truth is a religious as well as moral duty. " This (All) is 
two-fold, there is no third; all is either truth or untruth ; now 
truth alone is the gods {satyatn eva devds) and untruth is man.'" -^ 
Moreover, ''one law the gods observe, truth" {Qat. Br. i. i. i. 
4; iii. 3. 2. 2 ; 4. 2. 8). There is another passage upon this 
subject : '• To serve the sacred fire means truth ; he who speaks 
truth feeds the hre ; he who speaks lies pours water on it ; in 
the one case he strengthens his vital (spiritual) energy, and 
becomes better ; in the other he weakens it and becomes 
w^orse " (//''. ii, 2. 2. 19). The second sin, expressly named 
and reprobated as such, is adultery. This is a sin against 
Varuna.' In connection with this there is an interestinof 
passage implying a priestly confessional. At the sacrifice 
the sacrificer's wife is formally asked by the priest whether 
she is faithful to her husband. She is asked this that she 
may not sacrifice with guilt on her soul, for "when confessed 
the guilt becomes less."^ If it is asked what other moral virtues 
are especially inculcated besides truth and purity the answer is 
that the acts commonly cited as self-evidently sins are murder, 
theft, and abortion ; incidentally, gluttony, anger, and procras- 

1 Were it not for the first clause it would be more natural to render the original 
' The gods are truth alone, and men are untruth.' 

2 In (^at. Br. ii. 4. 2. 5-6 it is said that the Father-god gives certain rules of eating 
to gods. Manes, men, and beasts: '• Neither gods, Manes, nor beasts transgress the 
Father's law. only some men do." 

3 Cat. Br. ii. ;. 2. 20. "\''aruna seizes on her paramour, when she confesses. Tditt. 
Br. i. 6. 5. 2. The guilt confessed becomes less "because it thereby becomes truth" 


tination.-^ As to the moral virtue of observing days, certain 
times are allowed and certain times are not allowed for worldly 
acts. But every day is in part a holy-day to the Hindu. The 
list of virtues is about the same, therefore, as that of the deca- 
logue — the worship of the right divinity ; the observance of 
certain seasons for prayer and sacrifice ; honor to the parents ; 
abstinence from theft, murder, adultery. Envy alone is omitted.^ 

What eschatological conceptions are strewn through the 
literature of this era are vao;ue and often contradictorv. The 
souls of the departed are at one time spoken of as the stars 
{Taitt. S. V. 4. I. 3) ; at another, as uniting with gods and 
living in the world of the gods {Cat. Br. ii. 6. 4. 8). 

The principle of kai'ina., if not the theory, is already known, 
but the very thing that the completed philosopher abhors is 
looked upon as a blessing, viz., rebirth, body and all, even on 
earth. "^ Thus in one passage, as a reward for knowing some 
divine mystery (as often happens, this mystery is of little im- 
portance, only that ' spring is born again out of winter '), the 
savant is to be 'born again in this world ' {piuiar ha vTi \is7)i'ni 
loke hhavati^ Cat. Br. i. 5. 3. 14). The esoteric wisdom is 
here the transfer of the doctrine of metempsychosis to spring. 
]\Ian has no hope of immortal life (on earth) ; "* but, by estab- 

1 See (^at. Br. ii. 4. 2. 6; 4. i. 14; i. 3. 9; 3. i. 28: "Who knows man's morrow? 
Then let one not procrastinate." " Today is self, this alone is certain, uncertain is 
the morrow."' 

" Some little rules are interesting. The Pythagorean abstinence from viashs, 
beans, for instance, is enjoined ; though this rule is opposed by Barku Varshna, 
(^at. Br. i. i. i. lo, on the ground that no offering to the gods is made of beans; 
" hence he said ' cook beans for me.' " 

3 Animals may represent gods. " The bull is a form of Indra," and so if the bull 
can be made to roar {Cat. Br. ii. 5. 3. iS), then one may know that Indra is come to 
the sacrifice. " Man is born into (whatever) world is made (by his acts in a previous 
existence)," is a short formula {(^af. Br. vi. 2. 2. 27), which represents the karma 
doctrine in its essential principle, though the ' world ' is here not this world, but 
the next. Compare Weber, ZDIMG. ix. 237 ff. ; Muir, OST. v. 314 ff. 

4 Though youth may be restored to him by the Agvins, ^at. Br. iv. i. 5. i ff. 
Here the Horsemen are identified with Heaven and Earth (16). 


lishing the holy fires, and especially by establishing in his 
inmost soul the immortal element of fire, he lives the full 
desirable length of life {ib. ii. 2. 2. 14. To the later sage, 
length of life is undesirable). But in yonder world, where the 
sun itself is death, the soul dies again and again. All those 
on the other side of the sun, the gods, are immortal ; but all 
those on this side are exposed to this death. When the sun 
wishes, he draws out the vitality of any one, and then that one 
dies ; not once, but, being drawn up by the sun, which is 
death, into the very realm of death (how different to the con- 
ception of the sun in the Rig Veda !) he dies over and over 
again. ^ But in another passage it is said that when the sac- 
rificer is consecrated he ' becomes one of the deities ' ; and 
one even finds the doctrine that one obtains ' union with 
Brahma,' which is quite in the strain of the Upanishads ; but 
here such a saying can refer only to the upper castes, for " the 
gods talk only to the upper castes " {Cat. Br. xi. 4. 4. i ; iii. 
I. I. 8-10). The dead man is elsewhere represented as going 
to heaven ' with his whole body,' and, according to one passage, 
when he gets to the next world his good and evil are weighed 
in a balance. There are, then, quite diverse views in regard 
to the fate of a man after death, and not less various are the 
opinions in regard to his reward and punishment. According 
to the common belief the dead, on leaving this world, pass 
between two fires, agiikikhe, raging on either side of his path. 
These fires burn the one that ought to be burned (the wicked), 
and let the good pass by. Then the spirit (or the man him- 

1 Cat. Br. ii. 3. 3. 7. Apropos of the Brahmanic sun it may be mentioned that, 
according to Ait. Br. iii. 44, the sun never really sets. " People think that he sets, 
but in truth he only turns round after reaching the end of the day, and makes night 
below, day above; and when they think he rises in the morning, he. having come to 
the end of the night, turns round, and makes day below, niglit above. He never 
really sets. Whoever knows this of him, that he never sets, obtains union and like- 
ness of form with the sun. and the same abode as the sun's." Compare Muir, OST. 
V. 321. This may be the real reason why the Rig Veda speaks of a dark and 
light sun. 


self in body) is represented as going up on one of two paths. 
Either he goes to the Manes on a path which, according to 
later teaching, passes southeast tlirough the moon, or he goes 
northeast (the gods' direction) to the sun, which is his 'course 
and stay.' In the same chapter one is informed that the rays 
of the sun are the good (dead), and that every brightest light 
is the Father-god. The general conception here is that the 
sun or the stars are the destination of the pious. On the other 
hand it is said that one will enjoy the fruit of his acts here on 
earth, in a new birth ; or that he will 'go to the next world'; 
or that he will suffer for his sins in hell. The last is told in 
legendary form, and appears to us to be not an early view 
retained in folk-lore, but a late modification of an old legend. 
Varuna sends his son Bhrigu to hell to find out what happens 
after death, and he finds people suffering torture, and, again, 
avenging themselves on those that have wronged them. But, 
despite the resemblance between this and Grecian myth, the 
fact that in the whole compass of the Rik (in the Atharvan 
perhaps in v. 19) there is not the slightest allusion to torture 
in hell, precludes, to our mind, the possibility of this phase 
having been an ancient inherited belief.^ 

Annihilation or a life in under darkness is the first (Rik) 
hell. The general antithesis of light (as good) and darkness 
(as bad) is here plainly revealed again. Sometimes a little 
variation occurs. Thus, according to Cat. Br. vi. 5. 4. 8, the 
stars are women-souls, perhaps, as elsewhere, men also. The 

1 Qat. Br. i. 4. 3. 11-22 ('The sinner shall suffer and go quickly to yonder 
world') ; xi. 6. i (compare Weber, loc. cit. p. 20 if.; ZDMG. ix. 237), the Bhrigu 
story, of which a more modern form is found in the Upanishad period. For the 
course of the sun, the fires on either side of the way, the departure to heaven ' with 
the whole body,' compare (^at. Br. i. 9. 3. 2-15 ; iv. 5. i. i ; vi. 6. 2. 4 ; xi. 2. 7. il '1 
Weber, /£)<:. clt.: ]kluir, loc. cit. v. p. 314. Not to have all one's bones in the next 
world is a disgrace, as Muir says, and for that reason they are collected at burial. 
Compare the custom as described by the French missionaries here. The American 
Indian has to have all his bones for future use, and the burying of the skeleton is an 
annual religious ceremony. 


converse notion that darkness is the abode of evil appears at 
a very early date : " Indra brought down the heathen, dasyns, 
into the lowest darkness," it is said in the Atharva Veda 

(ix. 2. 1^)} 

In the later part of the great ' Brahman a of the hundred 
paths ' there seems to be a more modern view inculcated in 
regard to the fate of the dead. Thus, in \\. i. 2. 36, the 
opinion of ' some,' that the fire on the altar is to bear the 
worshipper to the sky, is objected to, and it is explained that 
he becomes immortal ; which antithesis is in purely Upani- 
shadic style, as will be seen below. 


In Vedic polytheism, with its strain of pantheism, the act of 
creating the world" is variously attributed to dift'erent gods. At 
the end of this period theosophy invented the god of the 
golden germ, the great Person (known also by other titles), 
who is the one (pantheistic) god, in whom all things are con- 
tained, and who himself is contained in even the smallest 
thing. The Atharvan transfers the same idea in its delinea- 
tion of the pantheistic image to Varuna, that Varuna who is 
the seas and yet is contained "in the drop of water" (iv. 16), 
a Varuna as different to the Varuna of the Rik as is the 

1 Compare RV. iv. 28. 4 : ' Thou Indra madest lowest the heathen.' Weber has 
shown, loc. cif.. that the general notion of the Brahmanas is that all are born again 
in the next world, where they are rewarded or punished according as they are good 
or bad ; whereas in the Rig Veda the good rejoice in heaven, and the bad are anni- 
hilated. This general view is to be modified, however, by such side-theories as those 
just mentioned, that the good (or wise) may be reborn on earth, or be united with 
gods, or become sunlight or stars (the latter are 'watery' to the Hindu, and this 
may explain the statement that the soul is ' in the midst of waters '). 

- There is in this age no notion of the repeated creations found in later literature. 
On the contrary, it is expressly said in the Rig \'eda, vi. 4S. 22, that heaven and 
earth are created but once : " Only once was heaven created, only once was earth 
created," Zimmer, AIL, 40S. 


Atharvan Indra to his older prototype. Philosophically the 
Rik, at its close, declares that "desire is the seed of mind,*' 
and that '* being arises from not-being." 

In the Brahmanas the creator is the All-god in more anthropo- 
morphic form. The Father-god, Prajapati, or Brahma (per- 
sonal equivalent of b?'ahma) is not only the father of gods, 
men, and devils, but he is the All. This Father-god of uni- 
versal sovereignty, Brahma, remains to the end the personal 
creator. It is he who will serve as creator for the Puranic 
Sankhya philosophy, and even after the rise of the Hindu 
sects he will still be regarded in this light, although his activity 
wall be conditioned by the will of Vishnu or Civa. In pure 
philosophy there will be an abstract First Cause ; but as there 
is no religion in the acknowledgment of a First Cause, this too 
will soon be anthropomorphized. 

The Brahmanas themselves present no clear picture of crea- 
tion. All the accounts of a personal creator are based merely 
on anthropomorphized versions of the text 'desire is the seed.' 
Prajapati wishes offspring, and creates. There is, on the 
other hand, a philosophy of creation which reverts to the tale 
of the 'golden germ.'-*^ The world was at first water; thereon 
floated a cosmic golden egg (the principle of fire). Out of 
this came Spirit that desired ; and by desire he begat the 
worlds and all things. It is improbable that in this somewhat 
Orphic mystery there lies any pre-Vedic myth. The notion 
comes up first in the golden germ and egg-born bird (sun) of 
the Rik. It is not specially Aryan, and is found even among 
the American Indians.^ It is this Spirit with which the Father- 
god is identified. But guess-work philosophy then asks what 

1 When the principle of life is explained it is in terms of sun or fire. Thus 
Prajapati, Lord of beings, or Father-god, is first an epithet of Savitar, R\'. iv. 53. 2 ; 
and the golden germ must be fire. 

2 Schoolcraft, Historical afid Statistical hifonnation. i. 32. As examples of the 
many passages where 'water is the beginning' may be cited Cat. B-r. vi. 7. i. 17; 
xi. 1.6. I. The sun, born as Aditi's eighth son, is the bird, ' egg-born,' R\'. x. ']2. S. 


upheld this god, and answers that a support upheld all things. 
So Support becomes a god in his turn, and, since he must 
reach through time and space, this Support, Skambha, becomes 
the All-god also ; and to him as to a great divinity the Atharv^an 
sings some of its wildest strains. When once speculation is 
set going in the Brahmanas, the result of its travel is to land 
its followers in intellectual chaos. -^ The gods create the Father- 
god in one passage, and in another the Father-god creates the 
gods. The Father creates the waters, whence rises the golden 
^2,%. But, again, the waters create the ^g^, and out of the &gg is 
born the Father. A farrago of contradictions is all that these tales 
amount to, nor are they redeemed even by a poetical garb." 

In the period immediately following the Brahmanas, or 
toward the end of the Brahmanic period, as one will, there is a 
famous distinction made between the gods. Some gods, it is 
said, are spirit-gods ; some are work-gods. They are born of 
spirit and of works, respectively. The difference, however, is 
not essential, but functional ; so that one may conclude from 
this authority, the Nirukta (a grammatical and epexigetical 
work), that all the gods have a like nature ; and that the spirit- 
gods, who are the older, differ only in lack of specific functions 
from the work-gods. A not uninteresting debate follows this 
passage in regard to the true nature of the gods. Some people 
say they are anthropomorphic : others deny this. " And cer- 
tainly what is seen of the gods is not anthropomorphic ; for 
example, the sun, the earth, etc."" In such a period of theo- 
logical advance it is matter of indifference to which of a group 
of gods, all essentially one, is laid the task of creation. And, 
indeed, from the Vedic period until the completed systems of 
philosophy, all creation to the philosopher is but emanation ; 
and stories of specific acts of creation are not regarded by him 

1 Among the new creators of Atharvan origin are, for instance, the sun under the 
name of Rohita, Desire (Love), etc.. etc. 

- Ilkistrations of these contradictions may be found in plenty apicd Muir iv. 
p. 20 ff. 3 Xirukta, vii. 4 ; Muir, loc. cit. p. 131 and v. 17. 


as detracting from the creative faculty of the First Cause. The 
actual creator is for him the factor and agent of the real god. 
On the other hand, the vulgar worshipper of every era believed 
only in reproduction on the part of an anthropomorphic god ; 
and that god's own origin he satisfactorily explained by the 
myth of the golden egg. The view depended in each case not 
on the age but on the man. 

If in these many pages devoted to the Brahmanas we have 
produced the impression that the religious literature of this 
period is a confused jumble, where unite descriptions of cere- 
monies, formulae, mysticism, superstitions, and all the output 
of active bigotry ; an olla podrida which contains, indeed, odds 
and ends of sound morality, while it presents, on the whole, a 
sad view of the latter-day saints, who devoted their lives to 
making it what it is ; we have offered a fairly correct view of 
the age and its priests, and the rather dreary series of illustra- 
tions will not have been collected in vain. We have given, 
however, no notion at all of the chief object of this class of 
writings, the liturgical details of the sacrifices themselves. 
Even a re'sunne' of one comparatively short ceremony would be 
so long and tedious that the explication of the intricate formali- 
ties would scarcely be a sufficient reward. AVith Hillebrandt's 
patient analysis of the New- and Full-Moon sacrifice,^ of which 
a sketch is given by von Schroeder in his Literatur luid Cu/tiir, 
the curious reader will be able to satisfy himself that a minute 
description of these ceremonies would do little to further his 
knowledge of the religion, when once he grasps the fact that 
the sacrifice is but show. Svmbolism without folk-lore, onlv 
with the imbecile imaginings of a daft mysticism, is the soul of 
it; and its outer form is a certain number of formulae, mechani- 
cal movements, oblations, and slaughterings. 

1 Neil- Jind Vollnio)ids Offc)-, iSSo. The Dlks/ia, or initir.tion, has been described 
by Lindner ; the RTyasfiya and Vajapcya, by Weber. 


But we ought not to close the account of the era without 
giving counter-illustrations of the legendary aspect of this 
religion ; for which purpose we select two of the best-known 
tales, one from the end of the Brahinana that is called the 
Aitareya ; the other from the beginning of the Qatapatha ; 
the former in abstract, the 1-atter in full. 


Hari^candra, a king born in the great race of Ikshvaku, had 
no son. A sage told him what blessings are his who has a 
son : ' He that has no son has no place in the world ; in the 
person of a son a man is reborn, a second self is begotten.' 
Then the king desired a son, and the sage instructed him to 
pray to Varuna for one, and to offer to sacrifice him to the god. 
This he did, and a son, Rohita, at last was born to him. God 
Varuna demanded the sacrifice. But the king said : ' He is not 
fit to be sacrificed, so young as he is ; wait till he is ten days 
old.' The god waited ten days, and demanded the sacrifice. 
But the king said : ' Wait till his teeth come.' The god waited, 
and then demanded the sacrifice. But the king said : ' Wait 
till his teeth fall out ' ; and when the god had waited, and 
again demanded the sacrifice, the father said : ' Wait till his 
new teeth come.' But, when his teeth were come and he was 
demanded, the father said : ' A warrior is not fit to be sacrificed 
till he has received his armor ' (i.e., until he is knighted). So 
the god waited till the boy had received his armor, and then 
he demanded the sacrifice. Thereupon, the king called his 
son, and said unto him : ' I will sacrifice thee to the god who 
gave thee to me.' But the son said, ' No, no," and took his 
bow and fled into the desert. Then Varuna caused the king 
to be afflicted with dropsy.^ When Rohita heard of this he 

1 The water-sickness already imputed to tliis god in the Rig Veda. This tale and 
that of Bhrigu (referred to above) show an ancient trait in the position of Varuna, as 
chief god. 


was about to return, but Indra, disguised as a priest, met him, 
and said : ' Wander on, for the foot of a wanderer is like a 
riower ; his spirit grows, and reaps fruit, and all his sins are 
forgiven in the fatigue of wandering.' ■■• So Rohita, thinking 
that a priest had commanded him, wandered ; and every year, 
as he would return, Indra met him, and told him still to wander. 
On one of these occasions Indra inspires him to continue on 
his journey by telling him that the krita was now auspicious ; 
using the names of dice afterwards applied to the four ages.^* 
Finally, after six years, Rohita resolved to purchase a substi- 
tute for sacrifice. He meets a starving seer, and offers to buy 
one of his sons (to serve as sacrifice), the price to be one hun- 
dred cows. The seer has three sons, and agrees to the bargain ; 
but "the father said, ' Do not take the oldest,' and the mother 
said, ' Do not take the youngest,' so Rohita took the middle 
son, Dogstail." Varuna immediately agrees to this substitu- 
tion of Dogstail for Rohita, " since a priest is of more value 
than a warrior." 

The sacrifice is made ready, and Vigvamitra (the Vedic seer) 
is the officiating priest. But no one would bind the boy to 
the post. ' If thou wilt give me another hundred cows I will 
bind him,' says the father of Dogstail. But then no one 
would kill the boy. ' If thou wilt give me another hundred 
cows I will kill him,' says the father. The Apri verses '"' are 
said, and the fire is carried around the boy. He is about to 
be slain. Then Dogstail prays to 'the first of gods,' the 
Father-god, for protection. But the Father-god tells him to 
pray to Agni, 'the nearest of the gods.' Agni sends him to 
another, and he to another, till at last, when the boy has 
prayed to all the gods, including the All-gods, his fetters drop 

1 This is the germ of the pilgrimage-doctrine (see Jjelow). 

2 Perhaps (M. ix. 301) interpolated; or the first allusion to the Four Ages. 

3 These (compare afi-i, 'blessing." in the Avesta) are verses in the Rig \'eda 
introducing the sacrifice. They are meant as propitiations, and appear to be an 
ancient part of the ritual. 


off ; Hari^xandra's dropsy ceases, and all ends well.^ Only, 
\vhen the avaricious father demands his son back, he is refused, 
and Vi^vamitra adopts the boy, even dispossessing his own 
protesting sons. For fifty of the latter agree to the exaltation 
of Dogstail ; but fifty revolt, and are cursed by Vi^'vamitra, 
that their sons' sons should become barbarians, the Andhras, 
Pundras, Cabaras, Pulindas, and Mutibas, savage races (of this 
time), one of which can be located on the southeast coast. 
The conclusion, and the matter that follows close on this tale, 
is significant of the time, and of the priest's authority. For it 
is said that ' if a king hears this story he is made free of sin,' 
but he can hear it only from a. priest, who is to be rewarded 
for telling it by a gift of one thousand cows, and other rich 

The matter following, to which we have alluded, is the use 
of sacrificial formulae to defeat the king's foes, the description 
of a royal inauguration, and, at this ceremony, the oath which 
the king has to swear ere the priest will anoint him (he is 
anointed with milk, honey, butter, and water, ' for water is 
immortalitv ') : "I swear that thou mavst take from me what- 
ever good works I do to the day of my death, together with 
my life and children, if ever I should do thee harm." ^ 

When the priest is secretly told how he may ruin the king 
by a false invocation at the sacrifice, and the king is made to 
swear that if ever he hurts the priest the latter may rob him of 
earthly and heavenly felicity, the respective positions of the 
two, and the contrast between this era and that of the early 
hymns, become strikingly evident. It is not from such an age 
as this that one can explain the spirit of the Rig Veda. 

1 A group of h} mns in the first book of the Rig Veda are attributed to Dogstail. 
At any rate, they do allude to him, and so prove a moderate antiquity (probably the 
middle period of the Rik) for the tale. The name, in Sanskrit Qunasgepa, has been 
ingeniously starred by Weber as Cynosoura : the last part of each compound having 
the same meaning, and the first part being even phonetically the same {^ii}ias, kxjvos). 

2 Ait. Br. viii. lo, 15, 20. 


The nsxt selection is the famous story of the flood, which 
we translate literally in its older form/ The object of the 
legend in the Brahmana is to explain the importance of the 
Ida (or Ilaj ceremony, which is identified with Ida, Manu's 

" In the morning they brought water to Manu to wash with, 
even as they bring it to-day to wash hands with. While he 
was washing a fish came into his hands. The fish said, ' Keep 
me, and I will save thee.' 'What wilt thou save me from?' 
' A flood will sweep away all creatures on earth. I will save 
thee from that.' ' How am I to keep thee .'" ' As long as we 
are small,' said he (the fish), '\ye are subject to much destruc- 
tion ; fish eats fish. Thou shalt keep me first in a jar. When 
I outgrow that, thou shalt dig a hole, and keep me in it. 
When I outgrow that, thou shalt take me down to the sea, 
for there I shall be beyond destruction.' 

" It soon became a (great horned fish called a) Jhasha, for 
this grows the largest, and then it said : ' The flood will come 
this summer (or in such a year). Look out for (or worship) 
me, and build a ship. When the flood rises, enter into the 
ship, and I will save thee.' After he had kept it he took it 
down to the sea. And the same summer (year) as the fish 
had told him he looked out for (or worshipped) the fish ; and 
built a ship. And when the flood rose he entered into the 
ship. Then up swam the fish, and Manu tied the ship's rope 
to the horn of the fish ; and thus he sailed swiftly up toward 
the mountain of the north. ' I have saved thee ' said he (the 
fish). ' Fasten the ship to a tree. But let not the water leave 
thee stranded while thou art on the mountain (top). Descend 
slowly as the water goes down.' So he descended slowly, 
and that descent of the mountain of the north is called the 

1 The epic has a later version. This earlier form is found in (^at. BrA. 8. i. For 
the story of the flood among the American Indians compare Schoolcraft {Historical 
and Statistical Information), i. 17. 


'Descent of Manu.' The flood then swept oft all the creatures 
of the earth, and Manu here remained alone. Desirous of 
posterity, he worshipped and performed austerities. While he 
was performing a sacrifice, he offered up in the waters clarified 
butter, sour milk, whey and curds. Out of these in a year was 
produced a woman. She arose when she was solid, and clari- 
fied butter collected where she trod. Mitra and Varuna met 
her, and said : ' Who art thou.'' ' ' Manu's daughter,' said she. 
'Say ours,' said they. 'No,' said she; 'I am my father's.' 
They wanted part in her. She agreed to this, and she did 
not agree ; but she went by them and came to Manu. Said 
Manu: 'Who art thou?' 'Thy daughter,' said she. 'How 
my daughter, glorious woman ? ' She said : ' Thou hast 
begotten me of the offering, which thou madest in the water, 
clarified butter, sour milk, whey, and curds. I am a blessing ; 
use me at the sacrifice. If thou usest me at the sacrifice, thou 
shaft become rich in children and cattle. Whatever blessing 
thou invokest through me, all shall be granted to thee.' So 
he used her as the blessing in the middle of the sacrifice. 
For what is between the introductory and final offerings is the 
middle of the sacrifice. With her he went on worshipping and 
performing austerities, wishing for offspring. Through her he 
begot the race of men on earth, the race of Manu ; and 
whatever the blessing he invoked through her, all was granted 
unto him. 

" Now she is the same with the Ida ceremony ; and whoever, 
knowing this, performiS sacrifice with the Ida, he begets the 
race that Manu generated ; and whatever blessing he invokes 
through her, all is granted unto him." 

There is one of the earliest avatar stories in this tale. 
Later writers, of course, identify the fish with Brahma and 
with Vishnu. In other early Brahmanas the avatars of a 
god as a tortoise and a boar were known long before they 
were appropriated by the Vishnuites. 



In the A'^edic hymns man fears the gods, and imagines God. 
In the Brahmanas man subdues the gods, and fears God. In 
the Upanishads man ignores the gods, and becomes God.y 

Such in a word is the theosophic relations between the 
three periods represented by tlie first Vedic Collection, the 
ritualistic Brahmanas, and the philosophical treatises called 
Upanishads. Yet if one took these three strata of thought 
to be quite independent of each other he would go amiss. 
Rather is it true that the Brahmanas logically continue what 
the hymns begin ; that the Upanishads logically carry on the 
thought of the Brahmanas. And more, for in the oldest 
Upanishads are traits that connect this class of writings (if 
they were written) directly, and even closely with the Vedic 
hymns themselves ; so that one may safely assume that the 
time of the first Upanishads is not much posterior to that of 
the latest additions made to the Vedic collections, though this 
indicates only that these additions were composed at a much 
later period than is generally supposed," In India no literary 
period subsides with the rise of its eventually ' succeeding ' 
period. All the works overlap. Parts of the Brahmanas suc- 
ceed, sometimes with the addition of whole books, their proper 

1 Compare (^at. Br. ii. 4. 2. 1-6, where the Father-god gives laws of conduct ; and 
Kaushltaki Brahmana Upanishad, 3. S : '' This spirit (breath) is guardian of the 
world, the lord of the world ; he is my spirit "' (or, myself), sa ma at ma. The Brah- 
manic priest teaches that he is a god like other gods, and goes so far as to say that 
he may be united with a god after death. The Upanishad philosopher says ' I am 

2 Compare Scherman, Philosophische Hymneii, p. 93 ; above, p. 156. 



literary successors, the Upanishads. Vedic hymns are com- 
posed in the Brahmanic period.-^ The prose Sutras, which, in 
general, are earlier, sometimes post-date metrical Qastra-rules. 
Thus it is highly probable that, whereas the Upanishads began 
before the time of Buddha, the Qatapatha Brahmana (if not 
others of this class) continued to within two or three centuries 
of our era ; that the legal Sutras were, therefore, contemporary 
with part of the Brahmanic period ; " and^ that, in short, the 
end of the Vedic period is so knit with the beginning of the 
Brahmanic, while the Brahmanic period is so knit with the rise 
of the Upanishads, Sutras, epics, and Buddhism, that one can- 
not say of any one: 'this is later,' 'this is earlier'; but each 
must be taken only for a phase of indefinitely dated thought, 
exhibited on certain lines. It must also be remembered that 
by the same class of works a wide geographical area may be 
represented ; by the Brahmanas, west and east ; by the Sutras, 
north and south ; by the Vedic poems, northwest and east 
to Benares (AV.); by the epics, all India, centred about the ' 
holy middle land near Delhi. 

The meaning of Upanishad as used in the compositions 
themselves, is either, as it is used to-day, the tirle of a 
philosophical work ; that of knowledge derived from esoteric 
teaching ; or the esoteric teaching itself. Thus bf-aJuna 
jipanis/iad is the secret doctrine of bra/ima, and ' whoever 
follows this upanishad^ means whoever follows this doc- 
trine. This seems, however, to be a meaning derived from 
the nature of the- Upanishads themselves, and we are almost 
inclined to think that the true sisinificance of the word was 
originally that in which alone occurs, in the early period, the 
combination itpa-ni-sad, and this is purely external : " he makes 

1 Or, in other words, the thought of the Brahmanic period (not necessarily of 
extant Brahmanas) is synchronous witli part of the Vedic collection. 

- The last additions to this class of literature would, of course, conform in 
language to their models, just as the late Vedic Mantras conform as well as their 
com.posers can make them to the older song or chandas style. 


the common people upa-zii-sadin,''^ i.e., 'sitting below' or 'sub- 
ject,' it is said in Qat. Br. ix. 4. 3. 3 (from the literal meaning 
of 'sitting below ').^ Instead, therefore, of seeing in upanisad, 
Upanishad, the idea of a session, of pupils sitting down to 
hear instruction (the prepositions and verb are never used in 
this sense), it may be that the Upanishad s were at first sub- 
sidiary works of the ritualistic Brahmanas contained in the 
Aranyakas or Forest Books, that is, appendices to the Brah- 
mana, ostensibly intended for the use of pious forest-hermits 
(who had passed beyond the need of sacrifice) ; and this, in 
point of fact, is just what they were ; till their growth resulted 
in their becoming an independent branch of literature. The 
usual explanation of ' Upanishad,' however, is that it represents 
the instruction given to the pupil ' sitting under ' the teacher. 

Although at present between two and three hundred Upani- 
shads are known, at least by name, to exist, yet scarcely a 
dozen appear to be of great antiquity. Some of these are 
integral parts of Brahmanas, and apparently were added to the 
ritualistic works at an early period.^ 

While man's chief effort in the Brahmanic period seems to 
be by sacrifice and penance to attain happiness hereafter, and 
to get the upper hand of divine powers ; while he recognizes a 
God, who, though supreme, has yet, like the priest himself, 
attained his supremacy by sacrifice and penance ; while he 
dreams of a life hereafter in heavenly worlds, in the realm of 
light, though hardly seeking to avoid a continuation of earthly 
re-births ; nevertheless he frees himself at times from ritualistic 
observances sufficiently to continue the questioning asked by 
his Vedic ancestors, and to wonder whither his immortal part 
is definitively going, and whether that spirit of his will live 
independentl}', or be united with some higher power, such 
as the sun or Brahma. 

1 Cited by Miiller in SBE. i. Introd. p. Ixxxii. 

2 Compare Weber, Ind. Lit. p. 171 ; Miiller, loc. cit. p. Ixviii. 


The philosophical writings called Upanishads ^ take up this 
question in earnest, but the answer is already assured, and the 
philosophers, or poets, of this period seek less to prove the 
truth than to expound it. The soul of man will not only join 
a heavenly Power. It is part of that Power. Man's spirit 
(self) is the world-spirit. And what is this ? While all the 
Upanishads are at one in answering the first question, they are 
not at one in the method by which they arrive at the same 
result. There is no systematic philosophy ; but a tentative, 
and more or less dogmatic, logic. In regard to the second 
question they are still less at one ; but in general their answer 
is that the world-spirit is All, and everything is a part of It or 
Him. Yet, whether that All is personal or impersonal, and 
what is the relation between spirit and matter, this is still an 
unsettled point. 

The methods and results of this half-philosophical literature 
will most easily be understood by a few examples. But, before 
these are given, it will be necessary to emphasize the colloquial 
' and scrappy nature of the teaching. Legend, parable, ritual- 
istic absurdities, belief in gods, denial of gods, belief in heaven, 
denial of heaven, are all mingled, and for a purpose. For 
some men are able, and some are unable, to receive the true 
light of knowledge. But man's fate depends on his knowledge. 
The wise man becomes hereafter what his knowledge has pre- 
pared him to be. Not every spirit is fitted for imm.ortality, but 
only the spirit of them that have wisely desired it, or, rather, 

1 The relation between the Brahmanas (ritual works discussed in the last chapter) 
and the early Upanishads will be seen better with the help of a concrete example. 
As has been explained before, Rig Veda means to the Hindu not only the ' Collec- 
tion ' of hymns, but all the library connected with this collection ; for instance, the 
two Brahmanas (of the Rig Veda), namely, the Aitareya and the Kaushltaki (or 
Qankhayana). Now. each of these Brahmanas concludes with an Aranyaka, that 
is, a Forest-Book (araJtya, forest, solitude); and in each Forest Book is an Upa- 
nishad. For example, the third book of the Kaushltaki Aranyaka is the Kaushftaki 
Upanishad. So the Chandogya and Brihad Aranyaka belong respectively to the 
Saman and Yajus. 



not desired it ; for every desire must .have been extinguished 
before one is fitted for this end. Hence, with advancing 
beUef in absorption and pantheism, there still lingers, and 
I not as a mere superfluity, the use of sacrifice and penance. 
Rites and the paraphernalia of religion are essential till one 
learns that they are unessential. Desire will be gratified till 
one learns that the most desirable thing is lack of desire. But 
so Ions: as one desires even the lack of desire he is still in the 
ifetters of desire. The way is long to the extinction of emotion, 
but its attainment results in happiness that is greater than 
delight ; in peace that surpasses joy. 

In the exposition of this doctrine the old gods are retained 
as figures. They are not real gods. But they are existent 
forms of God. They are portions of the absolute, a form of 
the Eternal, even as man is a form of the same. ' Absolute 
being, again, is described as anthropomorphic. ' This is that ' 
under a certain form. Incessantly made is the attempt to 
explain the identity of the absolute with phenomena. The 
powder (J^ra/u?ia), which is originally applied to prayer, is now 
taken as absolute being, and this, again, must be equated with 
the personal spirit (ego, self, atina). One finds himself back 
in the age of Vedic speculation when he reads of prayer (or 
penance) and power as one. For, as was shown above, the 
Rig Veda already recognizes that prayer is power. There the 
word for power, b?'a/u?ia, is used only as equivalent of prayer, 
and Brihaspati or Brahmanaspati is literally the 'god of power,' 
as he is interpreted by the priests. The significance of the 
other great word of this period, namely afma., is not at all 
uncertain, but to translate it is difficult. It is breath, spirit, 
self, soul. Yet, since in its original sense it corresponds to 
spiritus (comparable to athmen), the word spirit, which also 
signifies the real person, perhaps represents it best. We shall 
then render brahma and aima by the absolute and the ego or 
spirit, respectively ; or leave them, which is perhaps the best 


way, in their native form. The physical breath, prana, is occa- 
sionally used just like atmd. Thus it is said that all the gods 
are one god, and this is prana, identical with braJwia (Brihad 
Aranyaka Upanishad, 3. 9. 9); ox prana is so used as to be the 
same with spirit, though, on the other hand, ' breath is born of 
spirit' (Pracna Up. 3. 3), just as in the Rig Veda (above) it is 
said that all comes from the breath of God. 

One of the most instructive of the older Upanishads is the 
Chandogya. A sketch of its doctrines will give a clearer idea 
of Upanishad philosophy than a chapter of disconnected 
excerpts : 

All this (universe) is brah??ia. Man has intelligent force (or 
will). He, after death, will exist in accordance with his will 
in life. This spirit in (my) heart is that mind-making, breath- 
bodied, light-formed, truth-thoughted, ether-spirited One, of 
whom are all works, all desires, all smells, and all tastes ; who 
comprehends the universe, who speaks not and is not moved ; 
smaller than a rice-corn, smaller than a mustard-seed. . . . 
greater than earth, greater than heaven. This (universal 
being) is my ego, spirit, and is braJwia., force (absolute being). 
After death I shall enter into him (3. 14).-^ This all is breath 
(= spirit in 3. 15. 4). 

After this epitome of pantheism follows a ritualistic bit : 

Man is sacrifice. Four and twenty years are the morning 
libation; the next four and forty, the mid-day libation; the 
next eight and forty, the evening libation. The son of Itara, 
knowing this, lived one hundred and sixteen years. He who 
knows this lives one hundred and sixteen years (3. 16). 

Then, for the abolition of all sacrifice, follows a chapter 
which explains that man may sacrifice symbolically, so that, 

1 This teaching is ascribed to Qandilya, to whose heresy, as opposed to the pure 
Vedantic doctrine of (^ankara, we shall have to revert in a later chapter. The heresy 
consists, in a word, in regarding the individual spirit as at any time distinct from 
the Supreme Spirit, though (^andilya teaches that it is ultimately absorbed into the 


for example, gifts to the priests (a necessary adjunct of a real 
sacrifice) here become penance, liberality, rectitude, non-injury, 
truth-speaking {Jb. 17. 4). There follows then the 'identifica- 
tion of brahma with mind, sun, breath, cardinal points, ether, 
etc., even puns being brought into requisition, Ka is K/ia and 
Kha is Ka (4. 10. 5);^ earth, fire, food, sun, water, stars, man, 
are brahma^ and bj'ahma is the man seen in the moon (4. 12. i). 
And now comes the identity of the impersonal braJwia with the 
personal spirit. The man seen in the eye is the spirit ; this is 
the immortal, unfearing brahma (4. 15. i==S. 7. 4). He that 
knows this goes after death to light, thence to day, thence to 
the light moon, thence to the season, thence to the year, thence 
to the sun, thence to the moon, thence to lightning ; thus he 
becomes divine, and enters bra/i7?ia. They that go on this 
path of the gods that conducts to bra/ima do not return to 
human conditions {ib. 15. 6). 

But the Father-god of the Brahmanas is still a temporary 
creator, and thus he appears now {ib. 17): The Father-god 
brooded over- the worlds, and from them extracted essences, 
fire from earth, wind from air, sun from sky. These three 
divinities (the triad, fire, wind, and sun) he brooded over, and 
from them extracted essences, the Rig Veda from fire, the 
Yajur Veda from wind, the Sama Veda from sun. In the 
preceding the northern path of them that know the absolute 
{braJuna^ has been described, and it was said that they return 
no more to earth. Now follows the southern path of them 
that only partly know braJwia : 

" He that knows the oldest, 7J't'.f///(Tw, and the best, crcstha??:, 
becomes the oldest and the best. Now breath is oldest and 
best" (then follows the famous parable of the senses and 
breath, 5. i. 1). This (found elsewhere) is evidently regarded 

1 " God '■ Who ' is air, air (space) is God ' Who,' " as if one said ' either is aether.' 
-' Did penance over,' as one doing penance remains in meditation. 'Brooded' 
is Miiller's apt word for this abhi-tap. 


as a new doctrine, for, after the deduction has been made 
that, because a creature can Uve without senses, and even 
without mind, but cannot live without breath, therefore the 
breath is the 'oldest and best,' the text continues, 'if one told 
this to a dry stick, branches would be produced and leaves 
put forth' (5, 2. 3).^ The path of him that partly knows the 
bralwia which is expressed in breath, etc., is as follows : He 
goes to the moon, and, when his good works are used up, he 
(ultimately mist) rains down, becoming seed, and begins life 
over again on earth, to become like the people who eat him 
(5. 10. 6); they that are good become priests, warriors, or 
members of the third estate ; while the bad become dogs, hogs, 
or members of the low castes." A story is now told, instructive 
as illustrating the time. Five great doctors of the law came 
together to discuss what is Spirit, what is braJima. In the 
end they are taught by a king that the universal Spirit is 
one's own spirit (5. 18. i). 

It is interesting to see that, although the Rig Veda distinctly 
says that ' being was born of not-being ' {asatas sad ajdyata, x. 
72. 3),^ yet not-being is here derived quite as emphatically 
from being. For in the philosophical explanation of the uni- 
verse given in 6. 2. i ff. one reads : " Being alone existed in 
the beginning, one, and without a second. Others say 'not- 
being alone ' . . . but how could being be born of not-being ? 
Being: alone existed in the beo-inning:."^ This beins: is then 
represented as sentient. _" It saw (and desired), 'may I be 
mmy,' and sent forth fire (or heat); fire (or heat) desired and 
produced water ; water, food (earth) ; with the living spirit the 

1 Compare Brihad Aran. Up. 6. 3. 7. 

2 This is the karma or sainsara doctrine. 

3 In J. U. B. alone have we noticed the formula asserting that 'both being and not- 
being existed in the beginning' (i. 53. i ; JAOS. xvi. 130). 

■1 Opposed is 3. 19. i and Taitt. Up. 2. 7. i \Br. ii. 2. 9. i, 10): "Not-being was 
here in the beginning. From it arose being." And so C'at. Br. vi. i. i. i (though in 
word only, for here not-being is the seven spirits of God !) 


divinity entered fire, water, and earth" (6. 3). As mind comes 
from food, breath from water, and speech from fire, all that 
makes a man is thus derived from the (true) being (6. 7. 6); and 
when one dies his speech is absorbed into mind, his mind into 
breath, his breath into fire (heat), and heat into the highest 
godhead (6. 8. 7). This is the subtile spirit, that is the Spirit, 
that is the True, and this is the spirit of man. Xow comes 
the grand conclusion of the Chandogya. He who knows the 
ego escapes grief. What is the ego ? The Vedas are names, 
and he that sees brahma in the Vedas is indeed (partly) wise : 
but speech is better than a name ; mind is better than speech ; 
will is better than mind ; meditation, better than will ; reflec- 
tion, than meditation ; understanding, than reflection ; power, 
than understanding ; food, than power ; water, than food ; heat 
(fire), than water ; ether, than heat ; memory, than ether ; hope, 
than memory ; breath (= spirit), than hope. In each let one 
see braJwia ; ego in All. Who knows this is supreme in knowl- 
edge ; but more supreme in knowledge is he that knows that 
in true (being) is the highest being. True being is happiness ; 
true being is ego ; ego is all ; ego is the absolute.-^ 

The relativity of divinity is the discovery of the Upanishads. 
And the relativity of happiness hereafter is the key-note of 
their religious philosophy. Pious men are of three classes, 
according to the completed system. Some are good men, but 
they do not know enough to appreciate, intellectually or spiritu- 
ally, the highest. Let this class meditate on the Vedas. They 
desire wealth, not freedom. The second class wish, indeed, 
to emancipate themselves ; but to do so step by step ; not to 
reach absolute bra/nfta, but to live in bliss hereafter. Let these 
worship the Spirit as physical life. They will attain to the 

1 As the Vedic notion of not-being existing before being is refuted, so the Atharvan 
homage to Time as Lord is also derided {(^vet. 6) in the Upanishads. The supreme 
being is above time, as he is without parts (ib). In this later Upanishad wisdom, 
penance, and the grace of God are requisite to know bi-ahma. 


bliss of the realm of light, the realm of the personal creator. 
But the highest class, they that wish to emancipate themselves 
at once, know that physical life is but a form of spiritual life ; 
that the personal creator is but a form of the Spirit ; that 
the Spirit is absolute bra/ima ; and that in reaching this they 
attain to immortality. These, then, are to meditate on spirit 
as the highest Spirit, that is. the absolute. To fear heaven as 
much as hell, to know that knowledge is, after all, the key to 
braJuna ; that hi'aJuna is knowledge ; this is the way to emanci- 
pation. The gods are ; but they are forms of the ego, and 
their heaven is mortal. It is false to denv the 2:ods. Indra 
and the Father-god exist, just as men exist, as transient forms 
of bj'alwia. Therefore, according to the weakness or strength 
of a man's mind and heart (desire) is he fitted to ignore gods 
and sacrifice. To obtain braJwia his desires must be weak, 
his knowledge strong ; but sacrifice is not to be put away as 
useless. The disciplinary teaching of the sacrifice is a neces- 
sary preparation for highest wisdom. It is here that the Upan- 
ishads, which otherwise are to a great extent on the highway 
to Buddhism, practically contrast with it. Buddhism ignores 
the sacrifice and the stadia in a priest's life. The Upanishads 
retain them, but only to throw them over at the end when one 
has learned not to need them. Philosophically there is no 
place for the ritual in the Upanishad doctrine ; but their 
teachers stood too much under the dominion of the Brahmanas 
to ignore the ritual. They kept it as a means of perfecting 
the knowled2:e of what was essential. 

So 'by wisdom' it is said 'one gets immortality.' The 
Spirit develops gradually in man ; by means of the mortal he 
desires the immortal ; whereas other animals have only 
hunger and thirst as a kind of understanding, and they are 
reborn according to their knowledge as beasts again. Such 
is the teaching of another of the Upanishads, the Aitareya 


This Upanishad contains some rather striking passages: 
" Whatever man attains, he desires to go beyond it ; if he 
should reach heaven itself he would desire to go beyond it " 
(2. 3. 3. 1). "-BraJwia is the A, thither goes the ego" (2. 3. 
8. 7). "A is the whole of Speech, and Speech is Truth, and 
Truth is Spirit" (2. 3. 6. 5-14).^ "The Spirit brooded over 
the water, and form (matter) was born" (2. 4. 3. i 11.); so 
physically w^ater is the origin of all things" (2. i. 8. i).- 
" Whatever belongs to the father belongs to the son, whatever 
belongs to the son belongs to the father" (//a). "Man has 
three births : he is born of his mother, reborn in the person 
of his son, and finds his highest birth in death" (2. 5). 

In the exposition of these two Upanishads one gets at once 
the sum of them all. The methods, the illustrations, even the 
doctrines, differ in detail ; but in the chief end and object of 
the Upanishads, and in the principle of knowledge as a means 
of attaining b?'a/i7na, they are united. This it is that causes 
the refutation of the Vedic ' being from not-being.' It is even 
said in the Aitareya that the gods worshipped breath (the 
spirit) as being and so became gods (great); while devils wor- 
shipped spirit as not-being, and hence became (inferior) devils 
(2. I. 8. 6). 

It was noticed above that a king instructed priests. This 
interchange of the roles of the two castes is not unique. In 
the Kaushitaki Upanishad (4. 19), occurs another instance of a 
warrior teaching a Brahman. This, with the familiar illustra- 
tion of a Gandhara (Kandahar) man, the song of the Kurus, 
and the absence of Brahmanic literature as such in the list of 

1 This Vedic X670S doctrine is conspicuous in the Brahmana. Compare ^at. Br. 
vii. 5. 2. 21 : '-Wlc (\670s) is the Unborn one; from Vac the all-maker made crea- 
tures."' See Weber, ///(/. Stud. ix. 477 ft. 

- Compare J. U. B. i. 56. i, ' Water (alone) existed in the beginning.' This is the 
oldest and latest Hindu explanation of the matter of the phj-sical universe. From 
the time of the Vedas to mediaeval times, as is recorded by the Greek travellers, 
water is regarded as the original element. 


works, cited vii. i, would indicate that the Chandogya was at 
least as old as the Brahmana literature.^ 

In their present form several differences remain to be pointed 
out between the Vedic period and that of the Upanishads. 
The goal of the soul, the two paths of gods and of braJwia, have 
been indicated. As already explained, the road to the abso- 
lute braJwia lies beyond the path to the conditioned brahvia. 
Opposed to this is the path that leads to the world of heaven, 
whence, when good works have been exhausted, the spirit 
descends to a new birth on earth. The course of this second 
path is conceived to be the dark half of the moon, and so 
back to man. Both roads lead first to the moon, then one 
goes on to bra/wia, the other returns to earth. It will be seen 
that good works are regarded as buoying a man up for a time, 
till, like gas in a balloon, they lose their force, and he sinks 
down again. What then becomes of the virtue of a man who 
enters the absolute brahvia, and descends no more ? He him- 
self goes to the world where there is "no sorrow and no snow," 
where he lives forever {Brihad Aran. 5. 10); but "his beloved 
relations get his virtue, and the relations he does not love get 
his evil'' {Kaiish'it. Cp. i. 4). In this Upanishad fire, sun, 
moon, and lightning die out, and reappear as braJnna. This 
is the doctrine of the Gotterddmrneriing, and succession of 
aeons with their divinities (2. 12). Here again is it distinctly 
stated that prdna, breath, is brahma ; that is, spirit is the 
absolute (2. 13). 

What becomes of them that die ignorant of the ego ? They 
go either to the worlds of evil spirits, which are covered with 
darkness — the same antithesis of light and darkness, as good 
and evil, that was seen in the Brahmanas — or are reborn on 
earth again like the wicked {led, 3). 

It is to be noted that at times all the parts of a man are 

1 The Gandhara might indicate a late geographical expansion as well as an early 
heritage, so that this is not conclusive. 


said to become immortal. For just as different rivers enter 
the ocean and their names and forms are lost in it, so the 
sixteen parts of a man sink into the godhead and he becomes 
without parts and immortal {Fraaia Up. 6. 5) ; a purely pan- 
theistic view of absorption, in distinction from the Vedic view 
of heaven, which latter, in the form of immortal joy hereafter, 
still lingers in the earlier Upanishads. 

It is further to be observed as the crowning point of these 
speculations that, just as the bliss of emancipation must not 
be desired, although it is desirable, so too, though knowledge is 
the fundamental condition of emancipation, yet is delight in the 
true a fatal error : " They that revere what is not knowledge 
enter into blind darkness ; thev that delii^ht in knowled2:e come 
as it were into still greater darkness " (/^^, 9). Here, what is 
not real knowledge means good works, sacrifice, etc. But the 
sacrifice is not discarded. To those people capable only of 
attaining to rectitude, sacrifices, and belief in gods there is 
given some bliss hereafter ; but to him that is risen above this, 
who knows the ego (Spirit) and real being, such bliss is no 
bliss. His bliss is union with the Spirit. 

This is the completion of Upanishad philosophy. Before it 
is a stage where bliss alone, not absorption, is taught.^ But 
what is the ego, spirit or self {atma) ? First of all it is con- 
scious ; next it is not tRe Person, for the Person is produced 
by the dtvid. Since this Person is the type of the personal 
god, it is evident that the ego is regarded as lying back of 
personality. Nevertheless, the teachers sometimes stop with 
the latter. The developed view is that the immortality of the 
personal creator is commensurate only with that of the world 
which he creates. It is for this reason that in the Mundaka 
(i. 2. 10) it is said that fools regard fulfillment of desire in 

1 Gough, Philosophy of the Ufanishads, has sought to show that the pure 
Vedantism of C^ankara is the only beHef taught in tlie Upanishads, ignoring the 
weight of those passages that oppose his (in our view) too sweeping assertion. 


heavenly happiness as the best thing ; for although they have 
their reward in tlie top of heaven, yet, when the elevation 
caused by their good works ends, as it will end, when the 
buoyant power of good works is exhausted, then they drop 
dowai to earth again. Hence, to worship the creator as the 
dt?nd is indeed productive of temporary pleasure, but no more. 
'• If a man worship another divinity, devata, with the idea that 
he and the god are different, he does not know" (Brikad 
Aran. Up. i. 4. 10). " Without passion and without parts" is 
the brahma {Alund. 2. 2. 9). The further doctrine, therefore, 
that all except braJwia is delusion is implied here, and the 
"extinction of gods in brahma''' is once or twice formulated.-^ 
The fatal error of judgment is to imagine that there is in 
absolute being anything separate from man's being. When 
personified, this being appears as the supreme Person, identical 
with the ego, who is lord of what has been and wdiat will be. 
By perceiving this controlling spirit in one's own spirit (or 
self) one obtains eternal bliss ; " when desires cease, the 
mortal becomes immortal ; he attains brahma here " in life 
{Katha Up. 2. 5. 12; 6. 14; Br. Aran. Up. 4. 4. 7). 

How inconsistent are the teachings of the Upanishads in 
regard to cosmogonic and eschatological matters will be evident 
if one contrast the statements of the different tracts not only 
with those of other writings of the same sort, but even wdth 
other statements in the same Upanishads. Thus the Mundaka 
teaches first that Brahma, the personal creator, made the 
world and explained brahma (i. i. i). It then defines brahma 
as the Imperishable, which, like a spider, sends out a web of 
being and draws it in again {ib. 6, 7). It states with all dis- 
tinctness that the (neuter) brahma comes from The (masculine) 

1 See the Parimara described, Ait. Br. viii. 28. Here brahma is wind, around 
which die five divinities — lightning in rain, rain in moon, moon in sun, sun in fire, 
fire in wind — and they are reborn in reverse order. The • dying' is used as a curse. 
The king shall say, • When fire dies in wind then may my foe die,' and he will die ; 
so when any of the other gods dies around brahma. 


One who is all-wise, all-knowing {ih. 9). This heavenly Person 
is the imperishable ego ; it is without form ; higher than the 
imperishable (i. 2. 10 if.; 2. i. 2); greater than the great 
(3. 2. 8). Against this is then set (2. 2. 9) the great being 
b7'aJi7}ia^ without passions or parts, i.e., without intelligence such 
as was predicated of the atma ; and (3. i. 3) then follows the 
doctrine of the personal 'Lord, who is the maker, the Person, 
who has his birth in hraJuna ' (purusho bj-aJunayonis). That this 
Upanishad is pantheistic is plain from 3. 2, 6, where Vedanta 
and Yoga are named. According to this tract the wise go to 
In-aJwia or to ego (3. 2. 9 and i. 2. 11), while fools go to 
heaven and return again. 

On the same plane stands the I^a, where atma., ego, Spirit, is 
the True, the Lord, and is in the sun. Opposed to each other 
here are 'darkness' and 'immortality,' as fruit, respectively, of 
ignorance and wisdom. 

In the Kaushitaki Upanishad, taken with the meaning put 
into it by the commentators, the wise man goes to a very 
different sort of hraJuna — one where he is met by nymphs, 
and rejoices in a kind of heaven. This braJwia is of two 
sorts, absolute and conditioned ; but it is ultimately defined 
as 'breath.' Whenever it is convenient, 'breath' is regarded 
by the commentators as ego, 'spirit'; but one can scarcely 
escape the conviction that in many passages ' breath ' was 
meant by the speaker to be taken at its face value. It is the 
vital power. With this vital power (breath or spirit) one in 
dreamless sleep unites. Indra has nothing higher to say than 
that he is breath (spirit), conscious and immortal. Eventually 
the soul after death comes to Indra, or gains the bright heaven. 
But here too the doctrine of the dying out of the gods is known 
(as in Taitt. 3. 10. 4). Cosmogonically all here springs from 
water (i. 4, 6, 7 ; 2. i, 12 ; 3. i, 2 ; 4. 20). 

Most striking are the contradictions in the Brihad Aranyaka: 
^' In the beginning there was only nothing ; this (world) was 


covered with death, that is hunger;^ he desired," etc. (i. 2. i). 
" In the beginning there was only ego (atmd).^^ Atind articu- 
lated " I am," and (tinding himself lonely and unhappy) 
divided himself into male and female,"^ whence arose men, etc. 
(i. 4. i). Again : "In the beginning there was only bi'ahma ; 
this (neuter) knew dtmd . . . Irrahma was the one and only 
. . . it created" (i. 4. lo-ii); followed immediately by "he 
created" (12). And after this, in 17, one is brought back to 
"in the beginning there was only dt??ia ; he desired 'let me 
have a wife.' " 

In 2. 3. I ff. the explicitness of the differences in brahma 
makes the account of unusual value. It appears that there are 
two forms of bra/wta, one is mortal, with form ; the other is 
immortal, without form. Whatever is other than air and the 
space between (heaven and earth) is mortal and with form. 
This is being, its essence is in the sun. On the other hand, 
the essence of the immortal is the person in the circle (of the 
sun). In man's body breath and ether are the immortal, the 
essence of which is the person in the eye. There is a visible 
and invisible brahtna {dtjna) ; the real brahma is incompre- 
hensible and is described only by negations (3. 4. i ; 9. 26). 
The highest is the Imperishable (jieuter), but this sees, hears, 
and knows. It is in this that ether (as above) is woven 
(3. 8. 11). After death the wise man goes to the world of 
the gods (i. 5. 16) ; he becomes the at7Jid of all beings, just 
like that deity (i. 5. 20) ; he becomes identical ('how can one 
know the knower?' I'ljudtar) in 2. 4. 12-13 5 ^^'^i according to 
3. 2. 13, the doctrine of samsd7'a is extolled ("they talked of 
kar?na, extolled karvia^ secretly"), as something too secret to 
be divulged easily, even to priests. 

That different views are recognized is evident from Tditf. 
2. 6: "If one know*:: braJima as asat he becomes only asat 

1 Compare sterben, starve. 

2 The androgynous creator of the Brahmanas. 


(non-existence); if he knows that '■ b?'a/i7?m is' (J.e., a sad 
brahma), people know him as thence existing." Personal dt7fia 
is here insisted on (" He washed 'may I be many' "); and from 
af7ua, the conscious b?-a/wia, in highest heaven, came the ether 
(2. I, 6). Yet, immediately afterwards: "In the beginning 
was the non-existent; thence arose the existent; and That 
made for himself an ego (spirit, conscious life, dtiiui; tad 
dtmanam svayam akuruta, 2. 7). In man braJima is the sun- 
brahma. Here too one finds the braluiiaiiaJi pariina?-as (3. 10. 4 
= Kaushit. 2. 12, ddiva), or extinction of gods in brahma. But 
what that braJuiia is, except that it is bliss, and that man after 
death reaches 'the bliss-making ^/;;^<r?,' it is impossible to say 
(3. 6; 2. 8). Especially as the departed soul 'eats and sits 
down singing' in heaven (3. 10. 5). 

The greatest discrepancies in eschatology occur perhaps in 
the Aitareya Aranyaka. After death one either "gets b?'ahma " 
(i. 3. I. 2), "comes near to the immortal spirit" (i. 3. 8. 14), 
or goes to the " heavenly world." Knowledge here expressly 
conditions the hereafter ; so much so that it is represented not 
(as above) that fools go to heaven and return, but that all, save 
the very highest, are to recognize a personal creator (Prajapati) 
in breath (^ ego^ brah7?ia), and then they will "go to the 
heavenly world" (2. 3. 8. 5), "become the sun" (2. i. 8. 14), 
or "go to gods" (2. 2. 4. 6). Moreover after the highest 
wisdom has been revealed, and the second class of men has 
been disposed of, the author still returns to the 'shining 
sky,' svarga, as the best promise (3). Sinners are born again 
(2. I. I. 5) on earth, although hell is mentioned (2. 3. 2. 5). 
The origin of world is water, as usual (2. i. 8. i). The highest 
teaching is that all was dhnd, who sent forth worlds {lokdn 
asrjafa), and formed the Person (as guardian of worlds), taking 
him from, waters. Hence dfmd, Prajapati (of the second-class 
thinkers), and braJwia are the same. Knowledge is brahma 
(2. 4- I- I ; 6. I. 5-7). 


In the Kena, where the best that can be said in regard to 
hrahma is that he is tadvana, the one that 'likes this' (or, 
perhaps, is Mike this'), there is no absorption into a world- 
spirit. The wise ' become immortal ' ; ' by knowledge one 
gets immortality'; 'who knows this stands in heaven' (i. 2 ; 
2.4; 4. 9). The general results are about those formulated by 
Whitney in regard to the Katha: knowledge gives continuation 
of happiness in heaven ; the punishment of the unworthy is to 
continue samsdra, the round of rebirths. Hell is not mentioned 
in the Aitareya Upanishad itself but in the Aranyaka^ (2.3. 2. 5). 
That, however, a union with the universal dtmd (as well as 
heaven) is desired, would seem to be the case from several of 
the passages cited above, notably Brihad x\ran,, i. 5. 20 {sa 
evamvit san'esdm hJmtdnam dtmd bhavati^ yathiasd devatdivani 
sa) ; 'he that knows this becomes the dt??td of all creatures, as 
is that divinity so is he ' ; though this is doubtless the dnanda- 
viaya dtmd^ or joy-making Spirit (Taitt. 2. 8). 

Again two forms of brahma are explained (Mait. Up. 6. 15 ff.) : 
There are two forms of bi'ahma., time and not-time. That which 
was before the sun is not-time and has no parts. Time and 
parts begin with the sun. Time is the Father-god, the Spirit. 
Time makes and dissolves all in the Spirit. He knows the 
Veda who knows into what Time itself is dissolved. This 
manifest time is the ocean of creatures. But brahma exists 
before and after time." 

As an example of the best style of the Upanishads we will 
cite a favorite passage (given no less than four times in various 
versions) where the doctrine of absorption is most distinctly 
taught under the form of a tale. It is the famous 

1 We cannot, however, quite agree with Whitney who, loc. cit. p. 92, and Journal, 
xiii, p. ciii ff., implies that belief in hell comes later than this period. This is not so 
late a teaching. Hell is Vedic and Brahmanic. 

- This, in pantheistic style, is expressed thus ((^vet. 4) : '• When the light has 
arisen there is no day no night, neither being nor not-teing; the Blessed One alone 
exists there. There is no likeness of him whose name is Great Glory." 



Yajnavalkya had two wives, Maitreyi and Katyayani. 
Now Maitreyi was versed in holy knowledge {brahmd)., but 
Katyayani had only such knowledge as women have. But 
when Yajiiavalkya was about to go away into the forest (to 
become a hermit), he said : ' Maitreyi, I am going away from 
this place. Behold, I will make a settlement between thee and 
that Katyayani.' Then said Maitreyi: 'Lord, if this whole 
earth filled with wealth were mine, how then ? should I be 
immortal by reason of this wealth 1 ' ' Nay,' said Yajiiavalkya. 
' Even as is the life of the rich would be thy life ; by reason of 
w^ealth one has no hope of immortality.' Then said ^laitreyi : 
'With what I cannot be immortal, what can I do with that? 
whatever my Lord knows even that tell me.' And Yajnavalkya 
said: 'Dear to me thou art, indeed, and fondly speakest. 
Therefore I will explain to thee and do thou regard me as I 
explain.' And he said : ' Not for the husband's sake is a 
husband dear, but for the ego's sake is the husband dear. 
Not for the wife's sake is a wife dear ; but for the ego's sake 
is a wife dear ; not for the son's sake are sons dear, but for the 
ego's sake are sons dear ; not for wealth's sake is wealth dear, 
but for the ego's sake is wealth dear ; not for the sake of the 
Brahman caste is the Brahman caste dear, but for the sake of 
the ego is the Brahman caste dear ; not for the sake of the 
Warrior caste is the Warrior caste dear, but for love of the ego 
is the Warrior caste dear ; not for the sake of the worlds are 
worlds dear, but for the sake of the ego are worlds dear ; not 
for the sake of gods are gods dear, but for the ego's sake are 
gods dear ; not for the sake of hhuts (spirits) are hhuts dear, 
but for the ego's sake are hhuts dear ; not for the sake of 
anything is anything dear, but for love of one's self (ego) 
is anything (everything) dear ; the ego (self) must be seen, 

1 Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad, 2. 4 ; 4. 5. 


heard, apprehended, regarded, Maitreyi, for with the seeing, 
hearing, apprehending, and regarding of the ego the All is 
known. . . . Even as smoke pours out of a fire lighted with 
damp kindling wood, even so out of the Great Being is blown 
out all that which is, Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, 
Atharva (-Angiras) Veda, Stories, Tales, Sciences, Upani- 
shads, food, drink, sacrifices ; all creatures that exist are blown 
(breathedj out of this one (Great Spirit) alone. As in the 
ocean all the waters have their meeting-place ; as the skin is the 
meeting-place of all touches ; the tongue, of all tastes ; the nose, 
of all smells ; the mind, of all precepts ; the heart, of all knowl- 
edges ; ... as salt cast into water is dissolved so that one 
cannot seize it, but wherever one tastes it is salty, so this Great 
Being, endless, limitless, is a mass of knowledge. It arises 
out of the elements and then disappears in them. After death 
there is no more consciousness.-^ I have spoken.' Thus said 
Yajhavalkya. Then said Maitreyi : ' Truly my Lord has 
bewildered me in saying that after death there is no more con- 
sciousness.' And Yajnavalkya said: 'I say nothing bewilder- 
ing, but what suffices for understanding. For where there 
is as it were duality {livditani)., there one sees, smells, hears, 
addresses, notices, knows another; but when all the universe 
has become mere ego, with what should one smell, see, hear, 
address, notice, know any one (else) ? How can one know him 
through whom he knows this all, how can he know the knower 
(as something different) 1 The ego is to be described by 
negations alone, the incomprehensible, imperishable, un- 
attached, unfettered ; the ego neither suffers nor fails. 
Thus, Maitreyi, hast thou been instructed. So much for 
immortality.' And having spoken thus Yajnavalkya went 
away (into the forest). 

Returning to the Upanishad, of which an outline w^as given 
in the beginning of this chapter, one finds a state of things 

1 Na pretya sainjha 'sti. 


■which, in general, may be said to be characteristic of the whole 
Upanishad period. The same vague views in regard to cos- 
mogony and eschatology obtain in all save the outspoken 
sectarian tracts, and the same uncertainty in regard to man's 
future fate prevails in this whole cycle. -^ A few extracts wall 
show this. According to the Chandogya (4. 17. i), a personal 
creator, the old Father-god of the Brahmanas, Prajapati, made 
the elements proceed from the worlds he had ' brooded ' over 
(or had done penance over, abhyatapat). In 3. 19. i, not-being 
was first ; this became being (with the mundane tgg, etc.). In 
sharp contradiction (6. 2. i) : 'being was the first thing, it 
willed,' etc., a conscious divinity, as is seen in ib. 3. 2, where 
it is a 'deity,' producing elements as 'deities' {ib. 8. 6) which 
it enters 'with the living dtma,^ and so develops names and 
forms (so Tditf. 2. 7). The latter is the prevailing view^ of the 
Upanishad. In i. 7. 5 ff. the df7na is the same with the uni- 
versal dtmd ; in 3. 12. 7, the brahma is the same with ether 
without and wdthin, unchanging; in 3. 13. 7, the 'light above 
heaven' is identical wath the light in man ; in 3. 14. i, all is 
braJima (neuter), and this is an intelligent universal spirit. 
Like the ether is the dtvid in the heart, this is hraJuna (Jb. 2 ff.); 
in 4. 3, air and breath are the tw^o ends (so in the argument 
above, these are immortal as distinguished from all else) ; in 4. 
10. 5 yad Tdvd kai'n tad eva kha7n {l)raJnna is ether) ; in 4. 15. 
I, the ego is brahma ; in 5. 18. i the universal ^go is identified 
with the particular ego {atvia) ; in 6. 8 the ego is the True, 
with which one unites in dreamless sleep; in 6. 15. i, into /^7/'^ 
devatd or 'highest divinity' enters man's spirit, like salt in 
water {ib. 13). In 7. 15-26, a view but half correct is stated 
to be that ' breath ' is all, but it is better to know that yo bliumd 

1 Some of the Upanishads have been tampered with, so that all of the contradictions 
may not be due to the composers. Nevertheless, as the uneertainty of opinion in 
regard to cosmogony is quite as great as that in respect of absorption, all the vague- 
ness cannot properly be attributed to the efforts of later systematizers to bring the 
Upanishads into their more or less orthodox Vedantism. 


tad a7n7'tam, the immortal (all) is infinity, which rests in its own 
greatness, with a corrective ' but perhaps it doesn't ' (^yadi vd 
no). This infinity is ego and dtnid} 

What is the reward for knowing this ? One obtains worlds, 
unchanging happiness, braJima; or, with some circumnaviga- 
tion, one goes to the moon, and eventually reaches braJwia 
or obtains the worlds of the blessed (5. 10. 10). The round 
of existence, sa77isdra, is indicated at 6. 16, and expressly stated 
in 5. 10. 7 (insects have here a third path). Immortality is 
forcibly claimed: 'The living one dies not' (6. 11. 3). He 
who knows the sections 7. 15 to 26 becomes dt77id7ia7ida and 
"lord of all worlds" ; whereas an incorrect view gives perish- 
able worlds. In one Upanishad there is a verse {Cvet. 4. 5) 
which would indicate a formal duality like that of the 
Sankhyas;^ but in general one may say that the Upanishads 
are simply pantheistic, only the absorption into a world-soul 
is as yet scarcely formulated. On the other hand, some of the 
older Upanishads show traces of an atheistic and materialistic 
(asad) philosophy, which is swallowed up in the growing 
inclination to personif}^ the creative principle, and ultimately 
is lost in the erection of a personal Lord, as in the latest 
Upanishads. This tendency to personify, with the increase of 
special sectarian gods, will lead again, after centuries, to the 
rehabilitation of a triad of gods, the t7'i77iU7'ti, where unite 
Vishnu, Qiva, and, with these, who are more powerful, Brahma, 
the Prajapati of the Veda, as the All-god of purely pantheistic 
systems. In the purer, older form recorded above, the pU7'ttsha 
(Person) is sprung from the dt77ia. There is no distinction 
between matter and spirit. Conscious being (sat) wills, and 
so produces all. Or dt77ia comes first; and this is conscious 

1 In 4. 10. 5 kain is pleasure, one with ether as Irahina, not as wrongly above, 
p. 222, the god Ka. 

2 This Upanishad appears to be sectarian, perhaps an early Qivaite tract (dual- 
istic), if the allusion to Rudra ^iva, below, be accepted as original. 


sat, and the cause of the worlds ; which atmd eventually 
becomes the Lord. The at7na in man, owing to his environ- 
ment, cannot see whole, and needs the Yoga discipline of 
asceticism to enable him to do so. But he is the same ego 
which is the All. 

The relation between the absolute and the ego is through 
will. "This (neuter) brahma willed, 'May I be many,' and 
created" {Chdjid., above). Sometimes the impersonal, and 
sometimes the personal "spirit willed" {Taitt. 2. 6). And 
when it is said, in Brihad Aran. i. 4. i, that "In the beginning 
ego, spirit, atma, alone existed," one finds this spirit (self) to be 
a form of brahma {ib. lo-i i). Personified in a sectarian sense, 
this spirit becomes the divinity Rudra Qiva, the Blessed One 
{Cvetdcvatara, 3. 5, n).'^ 

In short, the teachers of the Upanishads not only do not 
declare clearly what they believed in regard to cosmogonic and 
eschatological matters, but many of them probably did not 
know clearly what they believed. Their great discovery was 
that man's spirit was not particular and mortal, but part of the 
immortal universal. Whether this universal was a beins: aiive 
and a personal dtmd, or whether this personal being was but a 
transient form of impersonal, imperishable being; ^ and whether 
the union with being, brahma, would result in a survival of 
individual consciousness, — these are evidently points they were 
not agreed upon, and, in all probability, no one of the sages was 
certain in re2:ard to them. Crass identifications of the vital 

1 As is foreshadowed in the doctrine of grace by Vac in the Rig Veda, in the 
Qvet., the Katha, and the Mund. Upanishads (K. 2. 23 ; AI. 3. 2. 3), but nowheie 
else, there enters, with the sectarian phase, that radical subversion of the Upanishad 
doctrine which becomes so powerful at a later date, the teaching that salvation is a 
gift of God. " This Spirit is not got by wisdom ; the Spirit chooses as his own the 
body of that man whom He chooses." 

■^ See above. As descriptive of the immortal conscious Spirit, there is the famous 
verse : " If the slayer thinks to slay, if the slain thinks he is slain ; they both under- 
stand not; this one (the Spirit) slays not, and is not slain" {Kaiha, 2. 19) ; loosely 
rendered by Emerson, ' If the red slayer think he slays,' etc. 


principle with breath, as one with ether, which is twice 
emphasized as one of the two immortal things, were provision- 
ally accepted. Then breath and immortal spirit were made one. 
Matter had energy from the beginning, brahma; or was chaos, 
asat., without being. But when asat becomes sat., that sat 
becomes brahma., energized being, and to asat there is no 
return. In eschatology the real (spirit, or self) part of man 
(ego) either rejoices forever as a conscious part of the 
conscious world-self, or exists immortal in brahma — imperish- 
able being, conceived as more or less conscious.^ 

The teachers recognize the limitations of understanding : 
" The gods are in Indra, Indra is in the Father-god, the Father- 
god (the Spirit) is in brahma'" — "But in what is brahma V 
And the answer is, " Ask not too much " (Brihad. Aran. Up. 

3. 6). 

These problems will be those of the future formal philoso- 
phy. Even the Upanishads do not furnish a philosophy alto- 
gether new. Their doctrine of kanna, their identification 
of particular ego and universal ego, is not original. The 
'breaths,' the 'nine doors,' the 'three qualities,' X\\^ piirusha as 
identical with ego, are older even than the Brahmanas (Scher- 
man, loc. cit. p. 62). 

It is not a new philosophy, it is a new religion that the 
Upanishads offer." This is no religion of rites and ceremonies, 
although the cult is retained as helpful in disciplining and teach- 
ing ; it is a religion for sorrowing humanity. It is a religion 
that comforts the afflicted, and gives to the soul ' that peace 
which the world cannot give.' In the sectarian Upanishads 
this bliss of religion is ever present. " Through knowing Him 
who is more subtile than subtile, who is creator of everything^ 

1 The fact remarked by Thibaut that radically different systems of philosophy are 
built upon the Upanishads is enough to show how ambiguous are the declarations of 
the latter. 

2 Compare Barth, Religions^ p. 76. 


who has many forms, who embraces everything, the Blessed 
Lord — one attains to peace without end"' {Cvet. 4. 14-15). 
These teachers, who enjoin the highest raoraUty (' self-restraint, 
generosity, and mercy ' are God's commandments in Brihad 
Aran. 5. 2) refuse to be satisfied with virtue's reward, and, 
being able to obtain heaven, ' seek for something beyond.' 
And this they do not from mere pessimism, but from a convic- 
tion that they will find a joy greater than that of heaven, and 
more enduring, in that world where is " the light beyond the 
darkness " [C^'et. 3. 8); "where shines neither sun, moon, stars, 
lightning, nor fire, but all shines after Him that shines alone, 
and through His light the universe is lighted" {Mund. 2. 2. 10). 
This, moreover, is not a future joy. It is one that frees from 
perturbation in this life, and gives relief from sorrow. In the 
Chandogya (7. 1.3) a man in grief comes seeking this new 
knowledge of the universal Spirit; ''For," says he, "I have 
heard it said that he who knows the Spirit passes beyond 
grief." So in the I^a, though this is a late sectarian work, it 
is asked, " What sorrow can there be for him to whom Spirit 
alone has become all things?" (7). Again, " He that knows 
the joy of h-a/wia, whence speech with mind turns away with- 
out apprehending it, fears not" {Taitt. 2. 4); for "fear comes 
only from a second" {Brihad Aran. Up. i. 4. 2), and when one 
recognizes that all is one he no longer fears death {ib. 4. 4. 

Such is the religion of these teachers. In the quiet assump- 
tion that life is not worth living, they are as pessimistic as was 
Buddha. But if. as seems to be the case, the Buddhist be- 
lieved in the eventual extinction of his individuality, their 
pessimism is of a different sort. For the teacher of the 
Upanishads believes that he will attain to unending joy ; not 
the rude happiness of ' heaven-seekers,' but the unchanging 
bliss of immortal peace. For him that wished it, there was 
heaven and the gods. These were not denied ; they were as 


real as the "fool'' that desired them. But for him that con- 
quered passion, and knew the truth, there was existence 
without the pain of desire, life without end, freedom from 
rebirth. The spirit of the sage becomes one with the Eternal; 
man becomes God. 



For a long time after the Vedic age there is little that gives 
one an insight into the views of the people. It may be pre- 
sumed, since the orthodox systems never dispensed with the 
established cult, that the form of the old Vedic creed was kept 
intact. Yet, since the real belief changed, and the cult became 
more and more the practice of a formality, it becomes neces- 
sary to seek, apart from the inherited ritual, the faith which 
formed the actual religion of the people. Inasmuch as this 
phase of Hindu belief has scarcely been touched upon else- 
where, it may be well to state more fully the object of the 
present chapter. 

We have shown above that the theology of the Vedic period 
had resulted, before its close, in a form of pantheism, which 
accompanied, as is attested by the Atharva Veda, with a demon- 
ology and witch-craft religion, the latter presumably of high 
antiquity. Immediately after this come the esoteric Brahmanas, 
in which the gods are, more or less, figures in the eyes of the 
priests, and the form of a Father-god rises into chief prom- 
inence, being sometimes regarded as the creative force, but at 
all times as the moral authority in the world. At the end of 
this period, however, and probably even before this period 
ended, there is for the first time, in the Upanishads, a new 
religion, that, in some regards, is esoteric. Hitherto the secrets 
of religious mysteries had been treated as hidden priestly wis- 
dom, not to be revealed. But, for the most part, this wisdom 
is really nonsense ; and v.hen it is said in the Brahmanas, at 
the end of a bit of theological mystery, that it is a secret, or 


that 'the gods love that which is secret,' one is not persuaded 
by the examples given that this esoteric knowledge is intellec- 
tually valuable. But with the Upanishads there comes the 
antithesis of inherited belief and ri^rht belief. The latter is 
public property, though it is not taught carelessly. The 
student is not initiated into the higher wisdom till he is drilled 
in the lowTr. The most unexpected characters appear in the 
role of instructors of priests, Aamely, women, kings, and mem- 
bers of the third caste, whose deeper wisdom is promulgated 
oftentimes as something quite new, and sometimes is whis- 
pered in secret. Pantheism, sanisara^ and the eternal bliss of 
the individual spirit when eventually it is freed from further 
transmigration, - — these three fundamental traits of the new 
religion are discussed in such a way as to show that they had 
no hold upon the general public, but they were the intellectual 
wealth of a few. Some of the Upanishads hide behind a veil 
of mystery; yet many of them, as Windisch has said, are, in a 
way, popular; that is, they are intended for a general public, 
not for priests alone. This is especially the case with the 
pantheistic Upanishads in their more pronounced form. But 
still it is only the very wise that can accept the teaching. It 
is not the faith of the people. 

Epic literature, wdiich is the next living literature of the 
Brahmans, after the Upanishads, takes one, in a trice, from the 
beginnings of a formal pantheism, to a pantheism already dis- 
integrated by the newer worship of sectaries. Here the imper- 
sonal atnia., or nameless Lord, is not only an anthropomorphic 
Civa, as in the late Upanishads, where the philosophic bi-ahma 
is equated with a long recognized type of divinity, but atma is 
identified with the figure of a theomorphic man. 

1 Literan3% transmigration, the doctrine of metempsychosis, successive births ; 
first, as in Plato: /j.eTa[3o\rj tls rvyxo-vei oZ'aa Kal fxeToiKTjais t^ '>pvxv '''^^ towov 
Tov ivOevde €is aWov tottov ; then vietabole. from ' the other place,' back to earth ; 
then, with advancing speculation, fresh mctabole again, and so on ; a theory more or 
less clumsily united with the hell-doctrine. V 


Is there, then, nothing with which to bridge this gulf? 

In our opinion the religion of the law-books, as a legitimate 
phase of Hindu religion, has been too much ignored. The 
religion of Upanishad and Vedanta, with its attractive analo- 
gies with modern speculation, has been taken as illustrative 
of the religion of a vast period, to the discrediting of the 
belief represented in the manuals of law. To these certainly 
the name of literature can scarcely be applied, but in their 
rapport with ordinary life they will be found more apt than are 
the profounder speculations of the philosophers to reflect the 
religious belief taught to the masses and accepted by them. 

The study of these books casts a broad light upon that 
interval between the Vedic and epic periods wherein it is 
customary to imagine religion as being, in the main, cult or 
philosophy. Nor does the interest cease with the yield of 
necessarily scanty yet very significant facts in regard to escha- 
tological and cosmogonic views. The gods themselves are 
not what they are in the rites of the cunning priests or in the 
dogmas of the sages. In the Hindu law there is a reversion 
to Vedic belief ; or rather not a reversion, but here one sees 
again, through the froth of rites and the murk of philosophy, 
the under-stream of faith that still flows from the old fount, 
if somewhat discolored, and waters the heart of the people. 

At just what time was elaborated the stupendous system of 
rites, which are already traditional in the Brahmanas, can 
never be known. Some of these rites have to do with special 
ceremonies, such as the royal inauguration, some are stated 
i'i'W/^-sacrifices.-^ Opposed to these >f6'w<7-feasts is the simpler 
and older fire-cult, which persists in the house-rituals. All of 
these together make up a sightly array of sacrifices.^ The 

1 Weber has lately published two monographs on the sacrifices, the Rajasuya and 
the Vajapeya rites, both full of interesting details and popular features. 

- The traditional sacrifices are twenty-one in number, divided into three classes 
of seven each. The formal divisions are (i) oblations of butter, milk. corn, etc.; 
(2) s:ii:a sacrifices ; (3) animal sacrifices, regarded as part of the first two. The 


soma-x\{.wA is developed in tlie Brahmanas. But with this 
class of works there must have been from ancient times an- 
other which treated of the fire-ritual, and of which the more 
modern representatives are the extant Sutras. It is with 
Sutras that legal literature begins, but these differ from the 
ritualistic Siitras. Yet both are full of religious meat. In 
these collections, even in the more special, there is no arrange- 
,ment that corresponds to western ideas of order. In a com- 
pleted code, for example, there is a rough distribution of 
subjects under different heads, but the attempt is only tenta- 
tive, and each work presents the appearance of a heterogeneous 
mass of regulations and laws, from which one must pick out 
the law for which he is seeking. The earlier legal works were 
in prose ; the later evolved codes, of which there is a large 
number, in metre. It is in these two classes of house-ritual 
and law-ritual, which together constitute what is called Smriti, 
tradition-ritual (in distinction from the so-called Cruti, revela- 
tion-ritual), that one may expect to find the religion of the 
time ; not as inculcated by the promoters of mystery, nor yet 
as disclosed by the philosopher, but as taught (through the 
priest) to the people, and as accepted by them for their daily 
guidance in matters of every-day observance. We glance first 
at the religious observances, for here, as in the case of the 
great sacrifices, a detailed examination would be of no more 
value than a collective impression ; unless, indeed, one were 
hunting for folk-lore superstitions, of which we can treat now 
only in the mass. It is sufficient to understand that, accord- 
ing to the house-ritual {grhya-sutra) and the law-ritual {dharma- 
sutra, and dhanna-castra),^ for every change in life there was 
an appropriate ceremony and a religious observance ; for 
every day, oblations (three at least); for every fortnight and 

sacrifice of the new and full moon is to be repeated on each occasion for thirty years. 
A sattra^ session, is a long sacrifice which may last a year or more. 
1 The latter are the metrical codes, a part of Smriti (smrti). 


season, a sacrifice. Religious formulae were said over the 
child yet unborn. From the moment of birth he was sur- 
rounded with observances.-^ At such and such a time the 
child's head was shaved ; he was taken out to look at the sun ; 
made to eat from a golden spoon ; invested with the sacred 
cord, etc., etc. When grown up, a certain number of years 
Vv^ere passed with a Guru, or tutor, who taught the boy his 
Veda; and to whom he acted as body-servant (a study and. 
office often cut short in the case of Aryans who were not 
priests). Of the sacraments alone, such as the observances to 
which we have just alluded, there are no less than forty accord- 
ing to Gautama's laws (the name-rite, eating-rite, etc.). The 
pious householder who had once set up his own fire, that is, 
got married, must have spent most of his time, if he followed 
directions, in attending to some religious ceremony. He had 
several little rites to attend to even before he might say his 
prayers in the morning ; and since even to-day most of these 
personal regulations are dutifully observed, one may assume 
that in the full power of Brahmanhood they were very straitly 

It is, therefore, important to know what these works, so closely 
in touch with the general public, have to say in regard to religion. 
What they inculcate will be the popular theology of completed 
Brahmanism. For these books are intended to give instruction 
to all the Aryan castes, and, though this instruction filtrates 
through the hands of the priest, one may be sure that the 
understanding between king and priest was such as to make 
the code the real norm of justice and arbiter of religious 
opinions. For instance, when one reads that the king is a prime 

1 The Five Paramount Sacrifices (Observances) are, according to Manu iii. 70, 
study of the Veda (or teaching it) ; sacrifice to the Manes and to the gods; offerings 
of foods to gliosts (or spirits) ; and hospitality. 

2 In the report of the Or. Congress for 1880, p. 158 ff., Williams has a very inter- 
esting account of the daily rites of the modern orthodox Hindu i!^ Rig Veda in Reli- 
gious Service^). 


divinity, and that, quid pro quo, the priest may be banished, 
but never may be punished corporally by the king, because the 
former is a still greater divinity, it may be taken for granted 
that such was received opinion. When we come to take up 
the Hinduism of the epic we shall point out that that work 
contains a religion more popular even than that of the legal 
literature, for one knows that this latter phase of religion was 
at first not taught at all, but grew up in the face of opposi- 
tion. But for the present, before the rise of epic ' Hinduism,' 
and before taking up the heretical writings, it is a great gain 
to be able to scan a side of religion that m,ay be called popular 
in so far as it evidently is the faith which not only was taught 
to the masses, but which, as is universally assumed in the law, 
the masses accept ; whereas philosophers alone accept the 
atjjici religion of the Upanishads, and the Brahmanas are not 
intended for the public at all, but only for initiated priests. 

What, then, is the religious belief and the moral position of 
the Hindu law-books ? In how far has philosophy affected 
public religion, and in what way has a reconciliation been 
affected between the contradictory beliefs in regard to the 
gods ; in regard to the value of works on the one hand, and 
of knowledge on the other ; in regard to hell as a means of 
punishment for sin on the one hand, and reincarnation {sa77i- 
sdrd) on the other; in regard to heaven as a reward of good 
deeds on the one hand, and absorption into God on the other; 
in regard to a pei'sonal creator on the one hand, and a First 
Cause without personal attributes on the other ? 

For the philosophical treatises are known and referred to in 
the early codes ; so that, although the completed systems post- 
dated the Sutras, the cosmical and theological speculations of 
the earlier Upanishads were familiar to the authors of the 
legal systems. 

The first general impression produced by a perusal of the 
law-books is that the popular religion has remained unaffected 


by philosophy. And this is correct in so far as that it must 
be put first in describing the codes, which, in the main, in 
keeping the ancient observances, retiect the inherited faith. 
When, therefore, one says that pantheism^ succeeded poly- 
theism in India, he must qualify the assertion. The philos- 
ophers are pantheists, but what of the vulgar ? Do they give 
up polytheism ; are they inclined to do so, or are they taught 
to do so ? No. For there is no formal abatement in the rigor 
of the older creed. Whatever the wise man thought, and 
whatever in his philosophy was the instruction which he im- 
parted to his peers, when he dealt with the world about him 
he taught his intellectual inferiors a scarcely modified form of 
the creed of their fathers. How in his own mind this wise 
man reconciled the two sets of opinion has been shown above. 
The works of sacrifice, with all the inherited belief implied by 
them, w-ere for him preparatory studies. The elasticity of his 
philosophy admitted the whole world of gods, as a temporary 
reality, into his pantheistic scheme. It was, therefore, neither 
the hypocrisy of the Roman augur, nor the fear of results that 
in his teaching held him to the inheritance he had received. 
Gods, ghosts, demons, and consequently sacrifices, rites, ordeals, 
and formulae were not incongruous wdth his philosophical 
opinions. He himself believed in these spiritual powers and 
in the usefulness of serving them. It is true that he believed 
in their eventual doom, but so far as man was concerned they 
were practically real. There was, therefore, not only no reason 
why the sage should not inculcate the old rites, but there was 
every reason why he should. Especially in the case of pious 
but ignorant people, whose wisdom was not yet developed to a 
full appreciation of divine relativity, w'as it incumbent on 
him to keep them, the lower castes, to the one religion that 
they could comprehend. 

1 We ignore here the later distinction between the Vedanta and Sankhya systems. 
Properly speaking, the latter is dualistic. 


It is thus that the apparent inconsistency in exoteric and 
esoteric beliefs explains itself. For the two are not contra- 
dictory. They do not exclude each other. Hindu pantheism 
includes polytheism with its attendant patrolatry, demonology, 
and consequent ritualism.^ 

With rare exceptions it was only the grosser religion that 
the vulgar could understand ; it was only this that they were 
taught and believed. 

Thus the old Vedic gods are revered and worshipped by 
name. The Sun, Indra, and all the divinities embalmed in 
ritual, are placated and ' satiated ' with offerings, just as they 
had been satiated from time immemorial. But no hint is given 
that this is a form; or that the Vedic gods are of less account 
than they had been. Moreover, it is not in the inherited 
formulae of the ritual alone that this view is upheld. To be 
sure, w^hen philosophical speculation is introduced, the Father- 
god comes to the fore; Brahma- sits aloft, indulgently advising 
his children, as he does in the intermediate stage of the 
Brahmanas ; and atma {l)7'ahmd) too is recognized to be the 
real being of Brahma, as in the Upanishads.^ But none of this 
touches the practice of the common law, where the ordinary 
man is admonished to fear Yama's hell and Varuna's bonds, as 
he would have been admonished before the philosopher grew 
wiser than the Vedic seers. Only personified Right, Dharma, 
take3 his seat with shadowy Brahma among the other gods.* 

1 At a later date Buddha himself is admitted into the Brahmanic pantheon as an 
avatar of the All-god I 

2 Sometimes regarded as one with Prajapati, and sometimes treated as distinct 
from him. 

3 Thus (for the priestly ascetic alone) in M. vi. 79 : ' Leaving his good deeds to 
his loved ones and liis evil deeds to his enemies, by force of meditation he goes to the 
eternal brahma.- Here brahma; but in Gautama perhaps Brahma. 

4 That is, when the latter are grouped as in the following list. Our point is that, 
despite new^ faith and new gods. Vedic polytheism is taught not as a form but as a 
reality, and that in this period the people still believe as of old in the old gods, 
though they also acknowledge new ones (below). 


What is the speech which the judge on the bench is ordered 
to repeat to the witnesses? Thus says tlie law-giver Manu: 
"When the witnesses are collected together in the court, in 
the presence of the plaintiff and defendant, the (Brahman) 
judge should call upon them to speak, kindly addressing them 
in the following manner: 'Whatever you know has been done 
in this affair . . . declare it all. A witness who in testifying 
speaks the truth reaches the worlds where all is plenty . . . 
such testimony is honored by Brahma. One who in testifying 
speaks an untruth is, all unwilling, bound fast by the cords of 
Varuna,^ till an hundred births are passed.' . . . (Then, 
speaking to one witness) : ' Spirit (soul) is the witness for the 
Spirit, and the Spirit is likewise the refuge of the Spirit. 
Despise not, therefore, thine own spirit (or soul), the highest 
witness of man. Verily, the wicked think ' no one sees us,' 
but the gods are looking at them, and also the person within 
(conscience). Dyaus, Earth, the Waters, (the person in the) 
heart, Moon, Sun, Fire, Yama, Wind, Alight, the twin Twilights, 
and Dharma know the conduct of all corporeal beings. . . . 
Although, O good man, thou regardest thyself, thinking, ' I am 
alone,' yet the holy one (saint) who sees the evil and the good, 
stands ever in thy heart. It is in truth god Yama, the son of 
Vivasvant, who resideth in thy heart ; if thou beest not at 
variance with him (thou needest) not (to) go to the Ganges 
and to the (holy land of) the Kurus (to be purified).' " 

Here there is no abatement in Vedic polytheism, although 
it is circled round with a thin mist from later teachings. In 
the same way the ordinary man is taught that at death his 
spirit (soul) will pass as a manikin out of his body and go to 
Yama to be judged; while the feasts to the Manes, of course, 
imply always the belief in the individual activity of dead 
ancestors. Such expressions as ' The seven daughters of 

1 Compare Manu. ix. 245: "Varuna is the lord of punishment and holdeth a 
sceptre (punishment) even over kings."' 


Varima ' {sapta rdnni'ir hnds, A^v. G?'i/i. S. 2. 3. 3) show that 
even in detail the old views are still retained. There is no 
advance, except in superstitions/ on the main features of the 
old religion. So the same old fear of words is found, resulting 
in new euphemisms. One must not say ' scull,' kapdla, but 
call it bhagdia, 'lucky' (Gaut. 9. 21); a factor in the making 
of African languages also, according to modern travellers. 
Images of the gods are now over-recognized by the priest, for 
they must be revered like the gods themselves {ib. 12; Par, 
Gi'ih. S. 3. 14. 8. etc.). Among the developed objects of the 
cult serpents now occupy a prominent place. They are 
mentioned as worshipful in the Brahmanas. In the Sutra 
period offerings are made to snakes of earth, air, and heaven; 
the serpents are ' satiated ' along with gods, plants, demons, 
etc. (Cankh. 4. 9. 3 ; 15. 4; A^v. 2. i. 9; 3. 4. i; Parask. 2. 
14. 9) and blood is poured out to them (Agv. 4. 8. 27).- But 
other later divinities than those of the earliest Veda, such as 
Wealth (Kubera), and Dharma, have crept into the ritual. With 
the Vedic gods appears as a divinity in Khad. i. 5. 31 the love- 
god Kama, of the Atharvan; while on the other hand Rudra the 
beast-lord (Pacupati, Lord of Cattle), the 'kindly' Qiva, appears 
as 'great god,' whose names are Qankara, Prishataka, Bhava, 
Qarva, Ugra, Icana (Lord); who has all names and greatness, 
while he yet is described in the words of the older text as ' the 
god that desires to kill ' (A^v. 2. 2. 2; 4. 8. 9, 19,'^ 29, 32; A/L 
Br. 3. 34). On the other hand Vishnu is also adored, and 
that in connection with the Aoyo?, or Vac {jb. 3. 3. 4). Quite 
in Upanishad manner — for it is necessary to show that these 

1 In new rites, for instance. Thus in Parask. Grih. S. t,- 7 a silly and dirty rite 
' prevents a slave from running away ' ; and there is an ordeal for girls before becom- 
ing engaged (below). 

- Blood is poured out to the demons in order that they may take this and no 
other part of the sacrifice. AtL Br. ii, 7. i. 

3 Here, 4. S. 19, Qiva's names are Hara, Mrida, Qarva, (^iva, Bhava, Mahadeva, 
Ugra, Bhima, Pacupati, Rudra, Qankara, Igana. 


were then really known — is the formula 'thou art a student 
Qip7'ana (Breath,) and art given over to Ka ' {ib. i. 20. 8.), or 
'■whomV In A9valayana no Upanishads are given in the 
list of literature, which includes the ' Eulogies of men,' Itihasas, 
Puranas, and even the Mahabharata (3. 3. i; 4- 4)- But in 
I. 13. I, Upanishad-7'ites (and that of a very domestic nature) 
are recognized, which would corroborate the explanation of 
Upanishad given above, as being at first a subsidiary work, 
dealing with minor points.^ Something of the sciolism of the 
Upanishads seems to lie in the prayer that of the four paths 
on which walk the gods the mortal may be led in that which 
bestows 'freedom from death' (Par. 3. i. 2): and many of the 
teachers famous in the Upanishads are now revered by name 
like gods (A^v. 3. 4. 4, etc.). 

On turning from these domestic Sutras to the legal Sutras it 
becomes evident that the pantheistic doctrine of the Upan- 
ishads, and in part the Upanishads themselves, were already 
familiar to the law-makers, and that they influenced, in some 
degree, the doctrines of the law, despite the retention of the 
older forms. Not only is samsara the accepted doctrine, but 
the atmd, as if in a veritable Upanishad, is the object of relig- 
ious devotion. Here, however, this quest is permitted only 
to the ascetic, who presumably has performed all ritualistic 
duties and passed through the stadia that legally precede 
his own. 

Of all the legal Sutra-writers Gautama is oldest, and perhaps 
is pre-buddhistic. Turning to his work one notices first that the 
Mimamsist is omitted in the list of learned men (28. 49);" but 
since the Upanishads and Vedanta are expressly mentioned, it 
is evident that the author of even the oldest Sutra was 

1 These rites are described in 6. 4. 24 of the Brihad Aranyaka Upaitishad which 
consists both of metaphysics and of ceremonial rules. 

- Especially mentioned in the later Vasistha (see below) ; on viimamsd a 
branch of the Vedanta system see below. 


acquainted ^vith whatever then corresponded to these works, -^ 
The opposed teaching of hell versus savisara is found in 
Gautama. But there is rather an interesting attempt to unite 
them. Ordinarily it is to hell and heaven that reference is 
made, e.g.., ' the one that knows the law obtains the heavenly 
world' (28. 52); 'if one speak untruth to a teacher, even in 
thought, even in respect to little things, he slays seven men 
after and before him ' (seven descendants and seven ancestors, 
23. 31). So in the case of witnesses: 'heaven (is the fruit) for 
speaking the truth; otherwise hell ' (13. 7); 'for stealing (land) 
hell' (is the punishment, ib. 17). Now and then comes the 
philosophical doctrine: 'one does not fall from the world of 
Brahma' (9. 74); 'one enters into union and into the same 
world with Brahma ' (8. 25). 

But in 21, 4-6 there occurs the following statement: 'To be 
an outcast is to be deprived of the works of the twice-born, 
and hereafter to be deprived of happiness; this some (call) 
hell.' It is evident here that the expression asiddhis (depriva- 
tion of success or happiness) is placed optionally beside 
naraka (hell) as the view of one set of theologians compared 
with that of another ; ' lack of obtaining success, i.e., reward ' 
stands parallel to 'hell.' In the same chapter, where Manu 
says that he who assaults a Brahman " obtains hell for one 
hundred years" (AI. xi. 207), Gautama (21. 20) says "for one 
hundred years, lack of heaven " (as7'argya77i), which may mean 
hell or the deprivation of the result of merit, /.<?., one hundred 
years will be deducted from his heavenly life. In this case 
not a new and better birth but heaven is assumed to be the 
reward of good acts. Now if one turns to 11. 29-30 he finds 
both views combined. In the parallel passage in Apastamba 

1 The commentator here (19. 12, cited by Biihler) defines Vedanta as the part of 
the Aranyakas which are not Upanishads, that is. apparently as a local ' Veda-end' 
{veda-ajita), though this meaning is not admitted by some scholars, who will see in 
a}ita only the meaning 'goal, aim.' 


only better or worse re-births are promised as a reward for 
good or evil (2. 5. 11. lo-ii); but here it is said: "The castes 
and orders that remain by their duty, having died, having en- 
joyed the fruits of their acts, with the remnant of their (merit) 
obtain re-birth, having an excellent country, caste, and family; 
having long life, learning, good conduct, wealth, happiness, and 
wisdom. They of different sort are destroyed in various 
ways." Here, heavenly joys (such as are implied by 
nihcreyasam in 26) are to be enjoyed first, and a good birth 
afterwards, and by implication one probably has to interpret 
the next sentence to mean 'they are sent to hell and then 
re-born in various low births.' This, too, is ]\Ianu's rule 
(below). At this time the sacred places which purify are in 
great vogue, and in Gautama a list of them is given (19. 14), 
viz.: "all mountains, all rivers, holy pools, places of pilgrimage 
(/>., river-fords, ti?-thani), homes of saints, cow-pens, and 
altars." Of these the tlrthas are particularly interesting, as 
they later become of great importance, thousands of verses in 
the epic being devoted to their enumeration and praise. 

Gautama says also that ascetics, according to some teachers, 
need not be householders first (3. i), and that the Brahman 
ascetic stays at home during the rainy season, like the heretic 
monks (Jb. 13). If one examine the relative importance of the 
forms and spirit of religion as taught in this, the oldest dharma- 
sutra,^ he will be impressed at first with the tremendous weight 
laid on the former as compared with the latter. But, as was 
said apropos of the Brahmanic literature, one errs who fails to 
appreciate the fact that these works are intended not to give 
a summary of religious conduct, but to inculcate ceremonial 
rules. Of the more importance, therefore, is the occasional 
pause which is made to insist, beyond peradventure, on the 
superiority of moral rules. A very good instance of this is 
found in Gautama. He has a list of venial sins. Since lying 

1 The Rudra (Civa) invocation at 26. 12 ff. is interpolated, according to BUhler. 


is one of the most heinous oiYences to a Hindu lawgiver, and 
the penances are severe, all the treatises state formally that an 
untruth uttered in fun, or when one is in danger, or an oath of 
the sort imiplied by Plato : d^poStViov o/okov ov <^a<jiv eTvat, —  
all these are venial, and so are lies told to benefit a (holy) 
cow, or to aid a priest ; or told from religious motives of 
any sort without self-interest. This is alm.ost the only 
example of looseness in morals as taught in the law. But the 
following case shows most plainly the importance of morality 
as opposed to formal righteousness. After all the forty sacra- 
ments (to which allusion was made above), have been re- 
counted, there are given 'eight good qualities of the soul,' 
viz., mercy, forbearance, freedom from envy, purity, calmness, 
correct behavior, freedom from greed and from covetousness. 
Then follows : " He that has (performed) the forty sacraments 
but has not the eight good qualities enters not into union with 
Brahma, nor into the heaven of Brahma.-^ But he that has 
(performed) only a part of the forty sacraments and has the 
eight good qualities enters into union with Brahma, and into 
the heaven of Brahma."' This is as near to heresy as pre- 
buddhistic Brahmanism permitted itself to come. 

In the later legal Sutra of the northern Vasistha^ occurs a 
rule which, while it distinctly explains what is meant by liber- 
ality, viz., gifts to a priest, also recognizes the 'heavenly reward': 
" If gifts are given to a man that does not know the Veda the 
divinities are not satisfied" (3, 8). In the same work (6. i) 
' destruction ' is the fate of the sinner that lives without ob- 

1 Here there is plainly an allusion to the two states of felicity of the Upanishads. 
Whether the law-giver believes that the spirit will lie united with Brahma or simply 
live in his heaven he does not say. 

2 Gautama, too, is probably a Northerner. The SiJtra. it should be observed, are 
not so individual as would be implied by the name of the teachers to whom they are 
credited. They were each texts of a school, car ana, but they are attributed uni- 
formly to a special teacher, who represents the car ana ^ as has been shown by Miiller. 
For what is known in regard to the early ' Sutra-makers' see Buhler's Introductions 
to volumes ii. and xiv. of the Sacred Books. 


servance of good custom ; yet is it said in the same chapter 
(27) : " If a twice-born man dies with the food of a Qudra (lowest 
caste) in his belly, he would become a village pig, or he is 
born again in that (Qudra's) family"; and, in respect to sons 
begotten when he has in him such food : " Of whom the food, 
of him are these sons ; and he himself would not mount to 
heaven ... he does not find the upward path " (29, 28). In 
ib. 8. 17 the Brahman that observes all the rules 'does not fall 
from braJwialoka,^ /.<?., the locality of Brahma. Further, in 
10. 4 : "Let (an ascetic) do away with all (sacrificial) works; 
but let him not do away with one thing, the Veda ; for from 
doing away with the Veda (one becomes) a Cudra." But, in 
the same chapter : " Let (the ascetic) live at the end of a vil- 
lage, in a temple ('god's house'), in a deserted house, or at 
the root of a tree ; there in his mind studying the knowledge 
(of the attna) ... so they cite (verses) : ' Sure is the freedom 
from re-birth in the case of one that lives in the wood with 
passions subdued . . . and meditates on the supreme spirit ' 
. . . Let him not be confined to any custom . . . and in regard 
to this (freedom from wordly pursuits) they cite these verses : 
' There is no salvation (literally ' rslease ') for a philologist {71a 
^abdacdstrabhiratasya 7?iokshas), nor for one that delights in 
catching (men) in the world, nor for one addicted to food and 
dress, nor for one pleased with a fine house. By means of 
prodigies, omens, astrology, palmistry, teaching, and talking 
let him not seek alms ... he best knows salvation who (cares 
for naught)' . . . (such are the verses). Let him neither harm 
nor do good to anything. . . . Avoidance of disagreeable con- 
duct, jealousy, presumption, selfishness, lack of belief, lack of 
uprightness, self-praise, blame of others, harm, greed, distrac- 
tion, wrath, and envy, is a rule that applies to all the stadia of 
life. The Brahman that is pure, and wears the girdle, and 
carries the gourd in his hand, and av'oids the food of low castes 
fails not of obtaining the world of Brahma" {ib. 10. 18 ft".). Yama, 


the Manes, and evil spirits {tism'Tis) are referred to in the fol- 
lowing chapter (20, 25); and hell in the same chapter is 
declared to be the portion of such ascetics as will not eat meat 
when requested to do so at a feast to the ^Manes or gods 
(11. 34), — rather an interesting verse, for in Manu's code the 
corresponding threat is that, instead of going to hell 'for as 
long, />., as many years, as the beast has hairs,' as here, one 
shall experience 'twenty-one rebirths,' i.c.^ the hell-doctrine in 
terms of sajusara : while the same image occurs in ^lanu in 
the form ' he that slaughters beasts unlawfully obtains as many 
rebirths as there are hairs on the beast' (v. 35,38). The 
passive attitude sometimes ascribed to the jManes is denied ; 
they rejoice over a virtuous descendant (11. 41); a bad one 
deprives them of the heaven they stand in (16. 36). The 
authorities on morals are here, as elsewhere, Manu and other 
seers, the Vedas, and the Father-god, who with Yama gives 
directions to man in regard to lawful food, etc. (14. 30). The 
moral side of the code, apart from ritual impurities, is given, 
as usual, by a list of good and bad qualities (above), while 
formal laws in regard to theft, murder (especially of a priest), 
adultery and drunkenness (20. 44 ; i. 20), with violation of 
caste-regulations by intercourse with outcasts, are ' great crimes.' 
Though older than Apastamba, who mentions the Purva-mi- 
mamsa, Vasistha, too, knows the Vedanta (3. 17), and the 
Mimamsa {jnkalpiii^^ tarkiii^ 3. 20, M. xii. iii 

From the Sutras of Baudhayana's probably southern school 
something of additional interest is to be gained. Here ' dark- 
ness' takes the place of hell (2. 3. 5. 9), which, however, by a 
citation is explained (in 2. 2. 3. 34) as ' Yama's hall.' A verse is 
cited to show that the greatest sin is lack of faith (i. 5. 10. 6) 
and not going to heaven is the reward of folly i^ib. 7) ; while the 
reward of virtue is to live in heaven for long (4. 8. 7). The 
same freedom in regard to ascetics as occurs in other Sutra 
w^orks is to be found in this author, not in the more suspicious 


final chapters, but in that part of the work which is accepted as 
oldest/ and agrees with the data found in the Brahmanas, where 
the pre-buddhistic monk is called Bhikshu, 'beggar,' or Sannyasin 
'he that renounces,' just as these terms are employed in the he- 
retical writings. As among the Jains (and Buddhists), the Brah- 
manic ascetic carries a few simple utensils, and wanders about 
from house to house and village to village, begging food. Some 
authorities (among the Brahmans) say that one may become 
an ascetic as soon as he has completed his study, though ordi- 
narily this may be done only after passing through the house- 
holder stadium. On becoming an ascetic the beggar takes the 
vow not to injure any living thing (Baudh. ii. lo. 17. 2. 11, 29), 
exactly as the Jain ascetic takes the vow of non-injury. More 
than this, as will be seen below, the details of the Brahman 
ascetic's vows are almost identical with those of the Jain 
ascetic. He vows not to injure living beings, not to lie, not 
to steal, to be continent, to be liberal ; with the five minor 
vows, not to get angry, to obey the Teacher, not to be rash, 
to be cleanly and pure in eating." To this ascetic order in 
the Brahman priesthood may be traced the origin of the 
heretical monks. Even in the Brahmanas occur the termini 
technici of the Buddhist priesthood, notably the (Jramana or 
ascetic monk, and the word budd/ia, ' awakened ' (^pratibudJi). 
The ' four orders ' are those enumerated as the householder, 
student, ascetic, and forest-hermit. If one live in all four 
orders according to rule, and be serene, he will come to peace, 
that is, salvation (Apastamba, 2. 9. 21. i, 2). 

According to this later legal writer, who belongs to Southern 
India,^ it is only after one has passed through all the preceding 

1 Compare Biihler's Introduction, p. xxxv. SBE, vol. xiv. 

- Baudh. ii. iS. r-3. Compare Jacobi"s Introduction, p. xxiii ff. of SBE. vol. xxii. 

3 Biihler (Introduction, p. xxxi) gives as the district of the Apastamblya school 
parts of the Bombay Presidency, the greater parts of the Nizam's possessions, and parts 
of the Madras Presidency. Apastamba himself refers to Northerners as if they were 
foreigners {loc. cit.). 


Stadia that he may give up works (sacrifice, etc.) and devote 
himself to seeking the cT/wcT, 'wandering about, without caring for 
earth or heaven, renouncing truth and falsehood, pleasure and 
pain ' ijb. lo, 13). There follows this passage one sig^iificant of 
the opposition between purely Upanishad-ideas and those of 
the law-givers : 'Acquirement of peace (salvation) depends, it is 
said, on knowledge ; this is opposed by the codes. If on knowl- 
edge (depended) acquirement of peace, even here (in this world) 
one would escape grief' (Jb. 14-16). Further, in describing the 
forest-hermit's austerities {ib. 23. 4 ff.), verses from a Purana are 
cited which are virtually Upanishadic : ' The eight and eighty 
thousand seers who desired offspring (went) south on Arya- 
man's path, and obtained (as their reward) graves ; (but) the 
eight and eighty thousand who did not desire offspring (went) 
north on Aryaman's path and make for themselves immor- 
tality,' that is to say 'abandon desire for offspring; and of the 
two paths (which, as the commentator observes, are mentioned 
in the Chandogya Upanishad), that which gives immortality 
instead of death (graves) will be yours.' It is admitted that 
such ascetics have miraculous powers ; but the law-maker 
emphatically protests in the following Siitra against the sup- 
position that a rule which stands opposed to the received rites 
(marriage, sacrifice, etc.) is of any power, and asserts that for 
the future life an endless reward ('fruit'), called in revelation 
'heavenly,' is appointed (/7a8-ii). The next chapter, how- 
ever, limits, as it were, this dogma, for it is stated that immor- 
tality is the re-birth of one's self in the body of one's son, and 
a verse is cited : ' Thou procreatest progeny, and that's thy 
immortality, O mortal,' with other verses, which teach that 
sons that attend to the Vedic rites magnify the fame and 
heaven of their ancestors, who ' live in heaven until the de- 
struction of creation' {a bhutasamplavat, 2. 9. 24. 5). But 
' according to the Bhavishyat-Purana ' after this destruction of 
creation ' they exist again in heaven as the cause of seed ' 


{ib. 6). And then follows a quotation from the Father-god : 
' We live with those people who do these (following) things : 
(attend to) the three Vedas, live as students, create children, 
sacritice to the Manes, do penance, make sacrifice to the gods, 
practice liberality ; he that extols anything else becomes air 
(or dust) and perishes ' {ib. 8) ; and further : ' only they that 
commit sin perish ' (not their ancestors). 

The animus of this whole passage is apparent. The law- 
maker has to contend with them that would reject the neces- 
sity of following in order the traditional stadia of a priest's 
life ; that imagine that by becoming ascetics without first 
having passed through the preliminary stadia they can by 
knowledge alone attain the bliss that is obtained by union with 
bra/wia (or Brahma). In other words the jurist has to con- 
tend with a trait eminently anti-brahmanistic, even Buddhistic. 
He denies this value of knowledge, and therewith shows that 
what he wishes to have inculcated is a belief in the temporary 
personal existence of the Manes; in heaven till the end of the 
world-order; and the annihilation of the wicked; while he has 
a confused or mixed opinion in regard to one's own personal 
immortality, believing on the one hand that there is a future 
existence in heaven with the gods, and on the other (rather a 
materialistic view) that immortality is nothing but continued 
existence in the person of one's descendants, who are virtually 
one's self in another body: dehatvam evcCnyat., "only the body 
is different " {ib. 2). As to cosmogony it is stated to be (not 
the emanation of an atma) but the "emission (creation) of the 
Father-god and of the seers " (the latter being visible as stars, 
ib. 13, 14). In this there is plainly a received popular opinion, 
which reflects the Vedic and Brahmanic stage, and is opposed 
to the philosophical views of the Upanishads, in other words 
of the first Vedantic philosophy ; while it is mixed up with the 
late doctrine of the cataclysms, which ruin each succeedins; 
creation. The equal annihilation of the wicked {dhvamsanti^ 


and unorthodox {dhvafnsate) is to be noticed. They are here 
subject neither to hell nor to rebirth, but they "become dust 
and perish " {ib. 8, 9). 

Throughout the whole legal literature one will find this same 
antithesis of views in regard to the fate of good and bad, 
although it is seldom that annihilation is predicated of the 
latter. Usually hell or rebirth are their fate — two views, 
which no one can really reconcile. They are put side by side; 
exactly as in priestly discussion in India and Europe it still 
remains an unsettled question as to when the soul becomes 
immortal.^ Occidental experience teaches how easy it is for 
such views to stand together unattacked, although they are 
the object of speculation. This passage is perhaps, histor- 
ically, the most satisfactory (as it is philosophically unsatis- 
factory) that can be cited in answer to the questions that were 
posed above. But from other parts of legal literature a few 
more statements may be culled, to illustrate still further the 
lack of uniformity not only in popular belief, but in the ' 
teaching provided for the public. First from the same work 
of Apastamba, in 2. 11. 29. 9-10 it is said that if a witness in 
court perjure himself he shall be punished by the king, "and 
further, in passing to the next world, hell" (is his portion); 
whereas " (the reward) for truth is heaven, and praise on the 
part of all creatures." Now, let one compare first ib. 2. 5. 11. 
lo-ii : "Men of low castes are reborn in higher castes in suc- 
cessive births, and men of high castes in low castes, if they 
respectively perform and neglect their duties." And then this 
Vedantic passage of the same author (i. 8. 22 £f.): "Let one 
(as penance for sin) devote himself to the Yoga (mental disci- 
pline) which has to do with the highest at7?ia. . . . Nothing 
is known higher than the acquisition of at7nd. We shall (now) 

1 In India the latter question is : does the soul immediately at death unite with 
the dtmd or does it travel to it. In Europe : does the soul wait for the Last Day, or 
get to heaven immediately ? Compare Maine, Early Law and Custom, P- 7i- 


cite some ^7/;;z^?-acquisition-verses, viz.: All living creatures 
(are) the citadel of him that rests in secret, the indestructible 
one, the immaculate one. Immortal they that devote them- 
selves to the moveless one who has a movable dwelling . . . 
the great one whose body is light, universal, free . . . the 
eternal (part) in all creatures, the wise, immortal, unchanging 
one, limbless, voiceless, formless, touchless, purest, the highest 
goal. He that everywhere devotes himself to Him (afma as 
Lord), and always lives accordingly ; that by virtue of Yoga 
recognizes Him, the subtile one, shall rejoice in the top of 
heaven. . . . He, atma, comprehends all, embraces all, more 
subtile than a lotus-thread and huger than the earth. . . . 
From him are created all bodies; he is the root, he the Ever- 
lasting, the Eternal One." 

This discipline it will be observed is enjoined as penance 
and to get rid of faults, that is, to subdue the passions. As 
the same chapter contains a list of the faults which are to be 
•overcome before one " arrives at peace " (salvation) they may 
be cited here : "Anger, joy, wrath, greed, distraction, injury, 
threats, lying, over-eating, calumny, envy, sexual desire, and 
hate, lack of studying afma., lack of Yoga — the destruction of 
these (faults) is based on Yoga " (mental concentration). On 
the other hand : " He that devotes himself, in accordance with 
the law, to avoiding anger, joy, wrath, greed, distraction, in- 
jury, threats, lies, over-eating, calumny and envy; and practices 
liberality, renunciation, uprightness, kindness, subduing (of 
the passions), self-control ; and is at peace with all creatures ; 
and practices Yoga ; and acts in an Aryan (noble) way ; and 
does not hurt anything ; and has contentment — qualities 
which, it is agreed, appertain to all the (four) stadia — he 
becomes sarvagmiiin^' {ih. 23. 6), that is 'one belonging to the 
all-pervading' (All-soul). There appears to be a contradiction 
between the former passage, where Yoga is enjoined on 
ascetics alone; and this, where Yoga is part of the discipline 


of all four stadia. But what was in the author's mind was 
probably that all these vices and moral virtues are enumerated 
as such for all ; and he slips in mental concentration as a virtue 
for the ascetic, meaning to include all the virtues he knows. 

A few further illustrations from that special code which has 
won for itself a preeminent name, 'the law-book of Manu,' ^ 
will give in epitome the popular religion as taught to the 
masses ; withal even better than this is taught in the Sutras. 
For Father Manu's law-book, as the Hindus call it, is a 
popular Castra or metrical- composite of law and religion, which 
reflects the opinion of Brahmanism in its geographical strong- 
hold, whereas the Sutras emanate from various localities, north 
and south. To Manu there is but one Holy Land, the Kurus' 
plain and the region round-about it (near Delhi). 

The work takes us forward in time beyond even the latest 
Sutras, but the content is such as to show that formal Brah- 
manism in this latest stage still keeps to its old norm and to 
Brahmanic models. 

It deserves therefore to be examined with care from several 
points of view if one would escape from the belief of the phil- 
osopher to the more general teaching. In this popular religion 
all morality is conditioned by the castes," which is true also to 
a certain degree of the earlier Sutras, but the evil fruit of this 
plant is not there quite so ripe as it is in the later code. The 
enormity of all crimes depends on who commits them, and 
against whom they are committed. The three upper castes 

1 Thought by some scholars to have been developed out of the code of the 
Manavas ; but ascribed by the Hindus to Father Manu, as are many other verses of 
legal character contained in the epic and elsewhere. 

2 Although Sutras may be metrical too in part, yet is the complete metrical form, 
as in the case of still later <^astra, evidence that the work is intended for the general 

^ The priest alone, in the post-Vedic age, has the right to teach the sacred texts ; 
he has immunity from bodily punishment ; the right to receive gifts, and other special 
privileges. The three upper castes have each the right and duty of studying the 
sacred texts for a number of years. 


alone have religious privileges. The lowest caste, outcasts, 
women, and diseased persons are not allowed to hear the holy 
texts or take part in ceremonies.^ As to the rites, they are 
the inherited ones, sacrifices to gods, offerings to Manes and 
spirits, and all the ceremonies of house and individual, as 
explained above ; with especial and very minute rules of ob- 
servance for each of the four stadia of a priest's life.- There 
is no hint in any of this of the importance of the knowledge of 
the at}na. But in their proper place the rules of morality and 
the higher philosophical views are taught. The doctrine of 
re-birth is formally stated, and the attainment of the world of 
Brahma {braJwia) by union of ceremonies and knowledge is in- 
culcated. The ascetic should seek, by meditation, to go to 
Brahma (or braJuna) for w^hen he is utterly indifferent, then, both 
here and after death, he gains everlasting happiness. There- 
fore he should study the Vedas, but especially the teachings in 
regard to the Supreme Spirit, and the Upanishads ; studying 
the Vedanta is a regular part of his final discipline (vi. 74-94). 
In another part of the work the distinction made in the 
Upanishads is upheld, that religious acts are of two sorts, one 
designed to procure bliss, and cause a good man to reach 
equality with the gods ; the other performed without selfish 
motive ; by which latter " even the five elements are overcome," 
that is, the absorption into hraJuiia is effected. For "among all 
virtuous acts the knowledge of the spirit, dt?fia, is highest ; 
through this is obtained even immortality. One that sees 
spirit in all things and all things in spirit sacrifices to spirit 
and enters Brahma (or braJwid).'" "The spirit (or self) is all 

1 Weber has shown, loc. cit., that the Qudras did attend some of the more popular 
ceremonies, and at first apparently even took a part in them. 

2 The ' four orders ' or stadia of a priest's life, student, householder, hermit, ascetic, 
must not be confused with the 'four (political) orders' (castes), priest, warrior, 
farmer, slave — to which, from time to time, were added many ' mixed castes,' as well 
as ' outcasts,' and natural pariahs. At the time of Manu's code there were already 
many of these half-assimilated groups. 


divinities; the All is based on spirit.'' And in Upanishadic 
vein the Person is then proclaimed as lord of gods, whom 
'• some call nre, some call Manu, some call Indra, some call 
air, and some call eternal braJimay But though this be the 
view of the closing verses, yet in the beginning of the work is 
this Person represented as being produced from a First Cause. 
It would be out of place here to analyse the conflicting philo- 
sophical views of the Manu code. Even his commentators 
are uncertain whether he belonged to the pantheistic Vedanta 
or dualistic Sankhya school. For them that believe in no 
Manu the solution is simpler. Although Manu is usually called 
a Puranic Sankhyan, yet are both schools represented, and 
that without regard to incongruous teaching. Manu is no 
more Sankhyan than Vedantic, Indeed in the main part of 
the work the teaching is clearly more Vedantic. But it 
suffices here to point out that the ^/W(?-philosophy and religion 
is not ignored : it is taught as essential. Nevertheless, it is 
not taught in such a way as to indicate that it is requisite for 
the vulgar. On the contrary, it is only when one becomes an 
ascetic that he is told to devote himself to the pursuit of the 
knowledge of atma. In one passage there is evidence that two 
replies were given to this fundamental question in regard to 
works and knowledge. For after enumerating a list of good 
acts, among which are knowledge and Vedic ceremonies, it is 
asked which among them most tends to deliverance. The 
answer is vital. Or it should be, but it is given in an ambig- 
uous form (xii. 85-6): "Amid all these acts the knowledge 
of self, dtmii, is the highest, for it produces immortality. 
Amid all these acts the one most productive of happiness, both 
after death and in this life, is the Vedic ceremony." 

Knowledge gives real immortality ; rites give temporary bliss. 
The Upanishads teach that the latter is lower than the former, 
but each answers the question. There were tv.^o answers, and 
Manu gives both. That is the secret of many discrepancies 


in Hindu rules. The law-giver cannot admit absolutely and once 
for all that the Vedic ceremony is of no abiding use, as it can 
be of no use to one that accepts the higher teaching. He 
keeps it as a training and allows only the ascetic to be a phi- 
losopher indeed. But at the same time he gives as a sort of 
peroration to his treatise some ' elegant extracts ' from philo- 
sophical works, which he believes theoretically, although prac- 
tically he will not allow them to influence his ritualism. He 
is a true Brahman priest. 

It is this that is always so annoying in Brahmanic philos- 
ophy. For the slavery of tradition is everywhere. Not only 
does the ritualist, while admitting the force of the philosopher's 
reasons, remain by Vedic tradition, and in consequence refuse 
to supplant ' revelation ' with the higher wisdom and better 
religion, which he sees while he will not follow it ; but even 
the philosopher must needs be 'orthodox,' and, since the scrip- 
tures themselves are self-contradictory, he is obliged to use 
his energies not in discovering truth, but in reconciling his 
ancestors' dogmas, in order to the creation of a philosophical 
system which shall agree with everything that has been said 
in the Vedas and Upanishads. When one sees what subtlety 
and logical acumen these philosophers possessed, he is moved 
to wonder what miijht have been the outcome had their minds 
been as free as those of more liberal Hellas, But unfortu- 
nately they were bound to argue within limits, and were as 
much handicapped in the race of thought as were they that 
had to conform to the teachinj^s of Rome. For thouo'h India 
had no church, it had an inquisitorial priestly caste, and the 
unbeliever was an outcast. What is said of custom is true of 
faith : " Let one walk in the path of good men, the path in 
which his father walked, in which his grandfathers walked ; 
walking in that path one does no wrong" (Manu iv. 178). Real 
philosophy, unhampered by tradition, is found only among the 
heretics and in the sects of a later time. 


The gods of old are accepted by the orthodox as a matter 
of course, although theoretically they are born of the All-god, 
who is without the need of ceremonial rites. To the other 
castes the active and most terrible deity is represented as being 
the priest himself. He not only symbolizes the hre-god, to 
whom is offered the sacrifice, but he actually is the divinity in 
person. Hence there is no greater merit than in giving gifts 
to priests. As to eschatology, opinions are not contrasted any 
more. They are put side by side. In morality truth, purity, 
and harmlessness are chiefly inculcated. But the last (ascribed 
by some scholars to Buddhistic influence) is not permitted to 
interfere with animal sacrifices. 

Some of the rules for the life of a householder will show in 
brief the moral excellence and theoretical uncertainty of Manu's 
law-code. The following extracts are from the fourth, the Ten 
Commandments from the sixth, and the description of the 
hells (twenty-two in all) ^ from the fourth and twelfth books of 
Manu's code. These rules may be accepted as a true reflexion 
of what was taught to the people by stringent Brahmanism as 
yet holding aloof from Hinduism. 

A householder must live without giving any pain (to living 
creatures). He must perform daily the ceremonies ordained 
in the Veda. In this way he obtains heaven. Let him never 
neglect the offerings to seers, gods, spirits (sprites), men, and 
Manes. Some oft'er sacrifice only in their organs of sense (not 
in external offerings); some by knowledge alone. Let him 
not explain law and rites to the Qudra (slave) caste ; if he does 
so, he sinks into the hell Boundless. Let him not take presents 
from an avaricious king who disobeys the law-codes ; if he 
does so, he goes to twenty-one hells (called Darkness, Dense- 
darkness, Frightful, Hell, Thread of Death, Great Hell, Burn- 
ing, Place of Spikes, Frying-pan, River of Hell, etc., etc., etc.). 
Let him never despise a warrior, a snake, or a priest. Let 

1 Theoretically, twenty-one; but an extra one has slipped in by mistake. 


him never despise himself. Let him say what is true and what 
is agreeable, but not disagreeable truth or agreeable false- 
hood. Let him not dispute with anybody, but let him sa}' 
* very well.' Let him not insult anybody. Remembering his 
former births, and studying the Veda again and again, he gets 
endless happiness. Let him avoid unbelief and censure of the 
Vedas, reviling of gods, hatred, pride, anger, and cruelty. He 
that even threatens a priest will go to the hell Darkness for 
one hundred years ; if he strikes him he will be born in twenty- 
one sinful rebirths (according to another passage in the 
eleventh book he o:oes to hell for a thousand vears for the 
latter offence). Priests rule the v;orld of gods. But deceitful, 
hypocritical priests go to hell. Let the householder give gifts, 
and he will be rewarded. One that gives a garment gets a 
place in the moon ; a giver of grain gets eternal happiness ; 
a giver of the Veda gets union with Brahma ibraJuna ; these 
gifts, of course, are all to priests). He that gives respectfully 
and he that receives respectfully go to heaven ; otherwise both 
go to hell. Let him, without giving pain to any creature, 
slowly pile up virtue, as does an ant its house, that he may 
have a companion in the next world. For after death neither 
father, nor mother, nor son. nor wife, nor relations are his com- 
panions ; his virtue alone remains with him. The relations 
leave the dead body, but its virtue follows the spirit ; with his 
virtue as his companion he will traverse the darkness that is 
hard to cross ; and virtue will lead him to the other world with 
a luminous form and etherial body. A priest that makes low 
connections is reborn as a slave. The Father-god permits a 
priest to accept alms even from a bad man. For fifteen years 
the Manes refuse to accept food from one that despises a free 
gift. A priest that sins should be punished (that is, mulcted, 
a priest may not be punished corporally), more than an ordi- 
nary man, for the greater the wisdom the greater the offence. 
They that commit the Five Great Sins live many years in hells, 


and afterwards obtain vile births ; the slayer of a priest be- 
comes in turn a dog, a pig, an ass, a camel, a cow, a goat, a 
sheep, etc., etc. A priest that drinks intoxicating liquor be- 
comes various insects, one after another. A priest that steals 
becomes a spider, snake, etc., etc. By repeating sinful acts men 
are reborn in painful and base births, and are hurled about in 
hells ; where are sword-leaved trees, etc., and where they are 
eaten, burned, spitted, and boiled ; and they receive births 
in despicable wombs ; rebirth to age, sorrow, and unquench- 
able death. But to secure supreme bliss a priest must study 
the Veda, practice austerity, seek knowledge, subdue the 
senses, abstain from injury, and serve his Teacher. Which of 
these gives highest bliss .'' The knowledge of the spirit is the 
highest and foremost, for it gives immortality. The perform- 
ance of Vedic ceremonies is the most productive of happi- 
ness here and hereafter. The Ten Commandments for the 
twice-born are : Contentment, patience, self-control, not to steal, 
purity, control of passions, devotion (or wisdom), knowledge, 
truthfulness, and freedom from anger. These are concisely 
summarized again in the following : ' Manu declared the con- 
densed rule of duty for (all) the four castes to be : not to injure 
a living thing ; to speak the truth ; not to steal ; to be pure ; 
to control the passions' (vi. 92 ; x. 63). The 'non-injury' rule 
does not apply, of course, to sacrifice {ib. iii. 268). In the 
epic the commandments are given sometimes as ten, some- 
times as eight. 

In order to give a completed exposition of Brahmanism we 
have passed beyond the period of the great heresies, to which 
we must soon revert. But, before leaving the present division 
of the subject, we select from the mass of Brahmanic domestic 
rites, the details of which offer in general little that is worth 
noting, two or three ceremonies which possess a more human 
interest, the marriage rite, the funeral rite, and those strange 
trials, known among so many other peoples, the ordeals. We 


sketch these briefly, wishing merely to illustrate the religious 
side of each ceremony, as it appears in one or more of its 


Traces of exogamy may be suspected in the bridegroom's 
driving off with his bride, but no such custom, of course, is 
recognized in the law. On the contrary, the groom is supposed 
to belong to the same village, and special rites are enjoined 
' if he be from another village,' But again, in the early rule 
there is no trace of that taint of family which the totem-scholars 
bf to-day cite so loosely from Hindu law. The girl is not pre- 
cluded because she belongs to the same family within certain 
degrees. The only restriction in the House-rituals is that she 
shall have had "on the mother's and father's side" wise, pious, 
and honorable ancestors for ten generations (A^vl. i. 5). Then 
comes the legal restriction, which some scholars call 'primitive,' 
that the wife must not be too nearly related. The girl has her 
own ordeal (not generally mentioned among ordeals !) : The 
wooer that thus selects his bride (this he does if one has not 
been found already either by his parents or by his own incli- 
nation) makes eight balls of earth and calls on the girl to choose 
one (' may she get that to which she is born '). If she select a 
ball made from the earth of a field that bears two crops, she 
(or her child) will be rich in grain ; if from the cow-stall, rich 
in cattle; if from the place of sacrifice, godly; if from a pool 
that does not dry, gifted ; if from the gambler's court, devot-ed 
to 2:amblin2; ; if from cross-roads, unfaithful ; if from a barren 
field, poor in grain ; if from the burying-ground, destructful of 
her husband. There are several forms of making a choice, but 
we confine ourselves to the marriage.^ In village-life the bride- 

1 The girl is given or bought, or may make her own choice among different 
suitors. Buying a wife is reprehended by the early law-givers (therefore, customary). 
The rite of marriage presupposes a grown girl, but child-marriages also were known 
to the earlv law. 


groom is escorted to the girl's house by young women who 
tease him. The bridegroom presents presents to the bride, 
and receives a cow. The bridegroom takes the bride's hand, 
saying 'I take thy hand for weal' (Rig Veda, x. 85. 36), and 
leads her to a certain stone, on which she steps first with the 
right foot (toe). Then three times they circumambulate the 
fire, keeping it to the right, an old Aryan custom for many 
rites, as in the deisel of the Kelts ; the bride herself offer- 
ing grain in the fire, and the groom repeating more Vedic 
verses. They then take together the seven solemn steps (with 
verses),^ and so they are married. The groom, if of another 
village, now drives away with the bride, and has ready Vedic 
verses for every stage of the journey. After sun-down the 
groom points out the north star, and admonishes the bride to 
be no less constant and faithful. Three or twelve days they 
remain chaste, some say one night ; others say, only if he be 
from another village. The new husband must now see to the 
house-fire, which he keeps ever burning, the sign of his being 
a householder. 


Roth has an article in the Journal of the German Oriental 
Society (viii. 467) which is at once a description of one of the 
funeral hymns of the Rig Veda (x. 18) with the later ritual, 
and a criticism of the bearing of the latter on the former." 
He show^s here that the ritual, so far from having induced the 
hymn, totally changes it. The hymn was written for a burial 
ceremony. The later ritual knows only cremation. The ritual, 

1 The groom ' releases her from Varuna's fetter,' by symbolically loosening the 
hair. They step northeast, and he says : ' One step for sap ; two for strength ; three 
for riches ; four for luck; five for children ; six for the seasons; seven for friendship. 
Be true to me ; may vi'e have many long-lived sons." 

2 There is another funeral hymn, x. 16, in which the Fire is invoked to burn the 
dead, and bear him to the fathers ; his corporeal parts being distributed ' eye to the 
sun, breath to the wind,' etc. 


therefore, forces the hymn into its service, and makes it a cre- 
mation-hymn. This is a very good (though very extreme) ex- 
ample of the difference in age between the early hymns of the 
Rig Veda and the more modern ritual. Mliller, ib. ix. p. I (i"/V), 
has given a thorough account of the later ritual and ritualistic 
paraphernalia. We confine ourselves here to the older cere- 

The scene of the Vedic hymn is as follows : The friends 
and relatives stand alDOut the corpse of a married man. By 
the side of the corpse sits the widow. The hymn begins: 
" Depart, O Death, upon some other pathway, upon thy path, 
which differs from the path of gods . . . harm not our children, 
nor our heroes. . . . These living ones are separated from the 
dead; successful to-day was our call to the gods. (This man 
is dead, but) we go back to dancing and to laughter, extending 
further our still lengthened lives." Then the priest puts a 
stone between the dead and living: "I set up a wall for the 
living, may no one of these come to this goal ; may they live 
an hundred full harvests, and hide death with this stone. . . .'' 

The matrons assembled are now bid to advance without 
tears, and make their offerings to the fire, while the widow is 
separated from the corpse of her husband and told to enter 
again into the world of the living. The priest removes the 
dead warrior's bow from his hand : " Let the women, not 
widows, advance with the ointment and holy butter : and with- 
out tears, happy, adorned, let them, to begin with, mount to 
the altar (verse 7, p. 274, below). Raise thyself, woman, to the 
world of the living ; his breath is gone by whom thou liest ; 
come hither ; of the taker of thy hand (in marriage), of thy 
wooer thou art become the wife ^ (verse 8). I take the bow 
from the hand of the dead for our (own) lordship, glory, and 
strength." Then he addresses the dead : " Thou art there, 
and we are here ; we will slay every foe and every attacker (with 

1 See below. 


the power got from thee). Go thou now to iMother Earth, who 
is wide opened, favorable, a wool-soft maiden to the good man ; 
may she guard thee from the lap of destruction. Open, O earth, 
be not oppressive to him ; let him enter easily ; may he fasten 
close to thee. Cover him like a mother, who wraps her child 
in her garment. Roomy and firm be the earth, supported by 
a thousand pillars ; from this time on thou (man) hast thy 
home and happiness yonder ; may a sure place remain to him 
forever. I make firm the earth about thee ; may I not be 
harmed in laying the clod here ; may the fathers hold this 
pillar for thee, and Yama make thee a home yonder." 

In the Atharva Veda mention is made of a cofiiin, but none 
is noticed here. 

Hillebrandt {Joe. cit. xl. 711) has made it probable that 
the eighth verse belongs to a still older ritual, according to 
which this verse is one for human sacrifice, which is here 
ignored, though the text is kept.^ Just so the later ritual 
keeps all this text, but twists it into a crematory rite. For in 
the later period only young children are buried. Of burial 
there was nothing for adults but the collection of bones and 
ashes. At this time too the ritual consists of three parts, cre- 
mation, collection of ashes, expiation. How are these to be 
reconciled with this hymn ? Very simply. The rite is de- 
scribed and verses from the hymn are injected into it without 
the slightest logical connection. That is the essence of all 
the Brahmanic ritualism. The later rite is as follows : Three 
altars are erected, northwest, southwest, and southeast of a 
mound of earth. In the fourth corner is the corpse ; at whose 
feet, the widow. The brother of the dead man, or an old 
servant, takes the widow's hand and causes her to rise while 
the priest says " Raise thyself, woman, to the world of the 

1 Compare Weber, Strcifen, 1. 66 ; The king's first wife lies with a dead victim, and 
is bid to come back again to Ufe. Levirate marriage is known to all the codes, but 
it is reprehended by the same code that enjoins it. (M. ix. 65.) 


living." Then follows the removal of the bow ; or the break- 
ing of it, in the case of a slave. The body is now burned, 
while the priest says " These living ones are separated from 
the dead"; and the mourners depart without looking around, 
and must at once perform their ablutions of lustration. After 
a time the collection of bones is made with the verse "Go 
thou now to Mother Earth" and "Open, O earth." Dust is 
flung on the bones with the words " Roomy and firm be the 
earth"; and the skull is laid on top with the verse "I make 
firm the earth about thee." In other words the original hymn 
is fitted to the ritual only by displacement of verses from their 
proper order and by a forced application of the words. After 
all this comes the ceremony of expiation with the use of the 
verse " I set up a wall " without application of any sort. 
Further ceremonies, with further senseless use of ftther verses, 
follow in course of time. These are all explained minutely in 
the essay of Roth, whose clear demonstration of the modern- 
ness of the ritual, as compared with the antiquity of the hymn 
should be read complete. 

The seventh verse (above) has a special literature of its 
own, since the words " let them, to begin with, mount the 
altar," have been changed by the advocates of suttee, widow- 
burning, to mean 'to the place of fire'; which change, how- 
ever, is quite recent. The burning of widows begins rather 
late in India, and probably was confined at first to the pet wife 
of royal persons. It was then claimed as an honor by the first 
wife, and eventually without real authority, and in fact against 
early law, became the rule and sign of a devoted wife. The 
practice was abolished by the English in 1829; but, consider- 
ing the widow's present horrible existence, it is questionable 
whether it would not be a mercy to her and to her family to 
restore the right of dying and the hope of heaven, in the 
place of the living death and actual hell on earth in which 
she is entombed to-day. 




Fire and water are the means employed in India to test 
guilt in the earlier period. Then comes the oath with judg- 
ment indicated by subsequent misfortune. All other forms of 
ordeals are first recognized in late law-books. We speak first 
of the ordeals that have been thought to be primitive Aryan. 
The Fire-ordeal : (i) Seven fig-leaves are tied seven times 
upon the hands after rice has been rubbed upon the palms ; 
and the judge then lays a red-hot ball upon them; the accused, 
or the judge himself, invoking the god (Fire) to indicate the 
innocence or the guilt of the accused. The latter then walks 
a certain distance, ' slowl)^ through seven circles, each circle 
sixteen fingers broad, and the space between the circles being 
of the same extent,' according to some jurists ; but other 
dimensions, and eight or nine circles are given by other 
authorities. If the accused drop the ball he must repeat the 
test. The burning of the hands indicates guilt. The Teutonic 
laws give a different measurement, and state that the hand is 
to be sealed for three days (manus sub sigillo triduum tegatur) 
before inspection. This sealing for three days is paralleled by 
modern Indie practice, but not by ancient law. In Greece 
there is the simple fxv8pov<; alpav x^P^lv (Ant. 264) to be com- 
pared. The German sealing of the hand is not reported till 
the ninth century. - 

(2) Walking on Fire : There is no ordeal in India to corre- 
spond to the Teutonic walking over six, nine, or twelve hot 
ploughshares. To lick a hot ploughshare, to sit on or handle 

1 The ordeal is called divyam {praindJiavi) ' Gottesurtheil.' This means of in- 
formation is employed especially in a disputed debt and deposit, and according to the 
formal code is to be applied only in the absence of witnesses. The code also restricts 
the use of fire, water, and poison to the slaves (Yaj. ii. 98). 

2 Kaegi, Alter und Herkiinft dcs Gcrmanischeii Gottesiirtheils, p. 50. ^^'e call 
especial attention to the fact that the most striking coincidences in details of practice 
are not early either in India or Germany. 


hot iron, and to take a short walk over coals is late Indie, 
The German practice also according to Schlagintweit " war 
erst in spaterer Zeit aufgekommen." ^ • 

(3) Walking through Fire: This is a Teutonic ordeal, and 
(like the conflict-ordeal) an Indie custom not formally legalized. 
The accused walks directly into the fire. So irvp hUpireiv Hoc. 

Water-ordeals: (i) May better be reckoned to fire-ordeals. 
The innocent plunges his hand into boiling water and fetches 
out a stone (Anglo-Saxon law) or a coin (Indie law) without 
injury to his hand. Sometimes (in both practices) the plunge 
alone is demanded. The depth to which the hand must be 
inserted is defined by Hindu jurists. 

(2) The Floating-ordeal. The victim is cast into water. If 
he floats he is guilty; if he drowns he is innocent. According 
to some Indie authorities an arrow is shot off at the moment 
the accused is dropped into the water, and a ' swift runner ' 
goes after and fetches it back. " If at his return he find the 
body of the accused still under water, the latter shall be 
declared to be innocent." - According to Kaegi this ordeal 
would appear to be unknown in Europe before the ninth cen- 
tury. In both countries Water (in India, Varuna) is invoked 
not to keep the body of a guilty man but to reject it (make it 

Food-ordeal: Some Hindu law-books prescribe that in the 
case of suspected theft the accused shall eat consecrated rice. 
If the gums be not hurt, no blood appear on spitting, and the 
man do not tremble, he will be innocent. This is also a 

1 Schlagintweit, Die Gottesurfhcile der Indicr, p. 24. 

- This is the earliest formula. Later law-books describe the length and strength 
of the bow. and some even give the measure of distance to which the arrow must be 
shot. Two runners, one to go and one to return, are sometimes allowed. There is 
another water-ordeal " for religious men." The accused is to drink consecrated 
water. If in fourteen (or more or less) days no calamity happen to him he will be 
innocent. The same tsst is made in the case of the oath and of poison (below). 


Teutonic test, but it is to be observed that the older laws in 
India do not mention it. 

On the basis of these examples (not chosen in historical 
sequence) Kaegi has concluded, while admitting that ordeals 
with a general similarity to these have arisen quite apart 
from Arj^an influence, that there is here a bit of primitive' 
Aryan law; and that even the minutiae of the various trials 
described above are ^//--Aryan. This w^e do not believe. 
But before stating our objections we must mention another 

The Oath: While fire and water are the usual means of 
testing crime in India, a simple oath is also permitted, which 
may inv^olve either the accused alone or his whole family. If 
misfortune within a certain time (at once, in seven days, in a 
fortnight, or even half a year) happen to the one that has 
sworn, he will be guilty. This oath-test is also employed in 
the case of witnesses at court, perjury being indicated by the 
subsequent misfortune (Manu, viii. io8).^ 

Our objections to seeing primitive Aryan law in the minutiae 
of ordeals is based on the gradual evolution of these ordeals 
and of their minutiae in India itself. The earlier law of the 
Sutras barely mentions ordeals ; the first ' tradition law ' of 
Manu has only fire, water, and the oath. All others, and all 
special descriptions and restrictions, are mentioned in later 
books alone. Moreover, the earliest (pre-legal) notice of 
ordeals in India describes the carrying of hot iron (in the test 
of theft) as simply "bearing a hot axe," while still earlier 
there is only walking through fire.""^ 

1 In the case of witnesses Manu gives seven days as the limit. When one adopts 
the oath as an ordeal the misfortune of the guilty is supposed to come ' quickly.' 
As an ordeal this is not found in the later law. It is one of the Greek tests 
(loc. cit.). When swearing the Hindu holds water or holy-grass. 

2 AV. ii. 12 is not a certain case of this, but it is at least Brahmanic. The carrying 
of the axe is alluded to in the Chandogya Upanishad (Schlagintweit, Die Goitesuriheile 
der Indier, p. 6). 


To the tests by oath, fire, and water of the code of Manu 
are soon added in later law those of consecrated water, poison, 
and the balance. Restrictions increase and new trials are 
described as one descends the series of law-books (the con- 
secrated food, the hot-water test, the licking of the plough- 
share, and the lot). Some of these later forms have already 
been described. The further later tests we will now sketch 

Poison: The earliest poison-test, in the code of Yajnavalkya 
(the next after Manu), is an application of aconite-root, and as 
the poison is very deadly, the accused is pretty sure to die. 
Other laws give other poisons and very minute restrictions, 
tending to ease the severity of the trial. 

The Balance-test : This is the opposite of the floating-test. 
The man ^ stands in one scale and is placed in equilibrium 
with a weight of stone in the other scale. He then gets out 
and prays, and gets in again. If the balance sinks, he is 
guilty ; if it rises, he is innocent. 

The Lot-ordeal : This consists in drawing out of a vessel one 
of two lots, equivalent respectively to dharma and adkarma, 
right and wrong. Although Tacitus mentions the same ordeal 
among the Germans, it is not early Indie law, not being known 
to any of the ancient legal codes. 

One may claim without proof or disproof that these are all 
' primitive Aryan ' ; but to us it appears most probable that 
only the idea of the ordeal, or at most its application in the 
simplest forms of water and fire (and perhaps oath) is primi- 
tive Aryan, and that all else (including ordeal by conflict) is of 
secondary growth among the different nations. 

As an offset to the later Indie tendency to lighten the sever- 
ity of the ordeal may be mentioned the description of the 
floating-test as seen by a Chinese traveller in India in the 

1 Yajnavalkya {loc. cit.) restricts this test to women, children, priests, the old, 
blind, lame, and sick. On phdla for ag}ii, ib. ii. 99, see ZDMG, ix. 677. 


seventh century a.d. : ^ " The accused is put into a sack and a 
stone is put into another sack. The two sacks are connected 
by a cord and flung into deep water. If the sack with the 
man sinks and the sack with the stone floats the accused is 
declared to be innocent." 

1 Schlagintweit, loc. cit. p. 26 (Hiouen Thsang). 



One cannot read the Upanishads without feeling that he is 
already facing an intellectual revolt. Not only in the later 
tracts, which are inspired with devotion to a supreme and uni- 
versal Lord, but even in the oldest of these works the atmos- 
phere, as compared with that of the earlier Brahmanic period, is 
essentially different. The close and stifling air of ritualism 
has been charged with an electrical current of thought that 
must soon produce a storm. 

That storm reached a head in Buddhism, but its premonitory 
signs appear in the Upanishads, and its first outbreak preceded 
the advent of Gautama. Were it possible to draw a line of 
demarcation between the Upanishads that come before and 
after Buddhism, it w^ould be historically more correct to review 
the two great schisms, Jainism and Buddhism, before referring 
to the sectarian Upanishads. For these latter in their present 
form are posterior to the rise of the two great heresies. But, 
since such a division is practically uncertain in its application, 
we have thought it better in our sketch of the Upanishads and 
legal literature to follow to the end the course of that agitated 
thought, which, starting with the great identification oijiva, the 

1 We retain here and in Buddhism the usual terminology. Strictly speaking, 
Jainism is to Jina (the reformer's title) as is Bauddhism to Buddha, so that one 
should say Jinism, Buddhism, or Jainism, Bauddhism. Both titles, Jina and Buddha 
('victor' and 'awakened'), were given to each leader; as in general many other 
mutual titles of honor were applied by each sect to its own head, Jina, Arhat ('ven- 
erable'), Mahavira (' great hero ') , Buddha, etc. One of these titles was used, how- 
ever, as a title of honor by the Jains, but to designate heretics by the Buddhists, viz., 
Tirthakara, 'prophet' (see Jacobi, SBE. xxii. Introd. p. xx). 


individual spirit, and atma, the world-spirit, the All, continues 
till it loses itself in a multiplication of sectarian dogmas, where 
the All becomes the god that has been elected by one com- 
munion of devotees.^ 

The external characteristics of Upanishad thought are those 
of a religion that has replaced formal acts by formal introspec- 
tion. The Yogin devotee, who by mystic communion desires 
absorption into the world-spirit, replaces the Sannyasin and 
Yati ascetics, who would accomplish the same end by renunci- 
ation and severe self-mortification. This is a fresh figure on 
the stage of thought, where before were mad Munis, beggars, 
and miracle-mongers. On this stage stands beside the ascetic 
the theoretical theosophist who has succeeded in identifying 
himself, soberly, not in frenzy, with God.^ What were the 
practical results of this teaching has been indicated in part 
already. The futility of the stereotyped religious oftices was 
recognized. But these offices could not be discarded by the 
orthodox. With the lame and illogical excuse that they were 
useful as discipline, though unessential in reality, they were 
retained by the Brahman priest. Not so by the Jain ; still less 
so by the Buddhist. 

In the era in which arose the public revolt against the dog- 
matic teaching of the Brahman there were more sects than one 
that have now passed away forgotten. The eastern part of 
India, to which appertain the later part of the ^atapatha Brah- 
mana and the schismatic heresies, was full of religious and 
philosophical controversy. The great heretics were not inno- 
vators in heresy. The Brahmans permitted, encouraged, and 
shared in theoretical controversy. There was nothing in the 

1 It is possible, however, on the other hand, that both Vishnuite and Qivaite sects 
(or, less anglicized. Vaishnavas, Qaivas, if one will also say Vaidic for Vedic). were 
formed before the end of the sixth century B.C. Not long after this the divinities 
Qiva and Vishnu receive especial honor. 

2 The Beggar (Qramana, Bhikshu), the Renunciator (Sannyasin), the Ascetic 
(Yati), are Brahmanic terms as well as sectarian. 


tenets of Jainism or of Buddhism that from a philosophical 
point of view need have caused a rupture with the Brahmans. 

But the heresies, nevertheless, do not represent the priestly 
caste, so much as the caste most apt to rival and to disregard 
the claim of the Brahman, viz., the warrior-caste. They were 
supported by kings, who gladly stood against priests. To a 
great extent both Jainism and Buddhism owed their success 
(amid other rival heresies with no less claim to good protest- 
antism) to the politics of the day. The kings of the East 
were impatient of the Western church ; th.y were pleased to 
throw it over. The leaders in the ' reformation ' were the 
younger sons of noble blood. The church received many of 
these younger sons as priests. Both Buddha and Mahavira 
wer^ in fact, revolting adherents of the Brahmanic faith, but 
they were princes and had royalty to back them. 

Nor in the Brahmanhood of Benares was Brahmanhood at 
its strongest. The seat of the Vedic cult lay to the westward, 
where it arose, in the 'holy land,' which received the Vedic 
Aryans after they had crossed out of the Punjab. With the 
eastward course of conquest the character of the people and 
the very orthodoxy of the priests were relaxed. The country 
that gave rise to the first heresies was one not consecrated to 
the ancient rites. Very slowly had these rites marched thither, 
and they were, so to speak, far from their religious base of 
supplies. The West was more conservative than the East. It 
was the home of the rites it favored.. The East was but a 
foster-father. New tribes, new land, new growth, socially and 
intellectually, — all these contributed in the new seat of Brah- 
manhood to weaken the hold of the priests upon their specu- 
lative and now recalcitrant laity. So before Buddha there were 
heretics and even Buddhas, for the title was Buddha's only by 
adoption. But of most of these earlier sects one knows little. 
Three or four names of reformers have been handed down ; 
half a dozen opponents or rivals of Buddha existed and vied 


with him. Most important of these, both on account of his 
probable priority and because of the lasting character of his 
school, was the founder or reformer of Jainism, ]\lahavira Jna- 
triputra,^ who with his eleven chief disciples may be regarded 
as the tirst open seceders from Brahmanism, unless one assign 
the same date to the revolt of Buddha. The two schisms have 
so much in common, especially in outward features, that for 
long it was thought that Jainism was a sub-sect of Buddhism. 
In their legends, in the localities in which they flourished, and 
in many minutiae of observances they are alike. Nevertheless, 
their differences are as great as the resemblance between them, 
and what Jainism at first appeared to have got of Buddhism 
seems now to be rather the common loan made by each sect 
from Brahmanism. It is safest, perhaps, to rest in the assu- 
rance that the two heresies were contemporaries of the sixth 
century B.C., and leave unanswered the question w^hich Master 
preceded the other, though we incline to the opinion that the 
founder of Jainism, be he Mahavira or his own reputed master, 
Parcvanatha, had founded his sect before Gautama became 
Buddha. But there is one good reason for treating of Jainism 
before Buddhism,- and that is, that the former represents a 
theological mean between Brahmanism and Buddhism. 

Mahavira, the reputed founder of his sect, was, like Buddha 

1 The three great reformers of this period are Mahavira, Buddha, and Gosala. 
The last was first a pupil and then a rival of Mahavira. The latter's nephew, Jamali, 
also founded a distinct sect and became his uncle's opponent, the speculative sectarian 
tendency teing as pronounced as it was about the same time in Hellas. Gosala appears 
to have had quite a following, and his sect existed for a long time, but now it is 
utterly perished. An account of this reformer and of Jamali will be found in Leu- 
mann"s essay, Indischc Sftidien. xvii. p. 98 ff. and in the appendix to Rockhiirs Life 
of BmidJia. 

2 The Xirgranthas (Jains) are never referred to by the Buddhists as being a new 
sect, nor is their reputed founder, Xataputta, spoken of as their founder ; whence 
Jacobi plausibly argues that their real founder was older than Mahavira, and that 
the sect preceded that of Buddha. Tassen and Weber have claimed, on the contrary, 
that Jainism is a revolt against Buddhism. The identification of Xataputta (Jnatri- 
putra) with Mahavira is due to Biihler and Jacobi (Kalpasutra, Introd, p. 6). 


and perhaps his other rivals, of aristocratic birth. His father 
is called king, but he was probably hereditary chief of a district 
incorporated as a suburb of the capital city of Videha, while 
by marriage he was related to the king of Videha, and to 
the ruling house of Magadha. His family name was Jnatri- 
putra, or, in his own Prakrit (Ardhamagadhi) dialect, Nata- 
putta ; but by his sect he was entitled the Great Hero, Maha- 
vira ; the Conqueror, Jina ; the Great One, Vardahmana, etc. 
His sect was that of the Nirgranthas (Nigganthas), i.e., 'with- 
out bonds,' perhaps the oldest name of the whole body. Later 
there are found no less than seven sub-sects, to which come 
as eighth the Digambaras, in contradistinction to all the seven 
Cvetambara sects. These two names represent the two present 
bodies of the church, one body being the Cvetambaras, or 
' white-attire ' faction, who are in the north and west . the 
other, the Digambaras, or 'sky-attire,' /.<?., naked devotees of 
the south. The latter split off from the main body about two 
hundred years after Mahavira's death ; as has been thought 
by some, because the Qvetambaras refused to follow the Di- 
gambaras in insisting upon nakedness as the rule for ascetics.-^ 
The earlier writings show that nakedness was recommended, 
but was not compulsory.- Other designations of the main 
sects, as of the sub-sects, are found. Thus, from the practice 
of pulling out the hairs of their body, the Jains were derisively 
termed Luncitakegas, or ' hair-pluckers.' The naked devotees 

1 According to Jacobi, ZDMG. xxxviii. 17, the split in the party arose in this way. 
About 350 B.C. some Jain monks under the leadership of Bhadrabahu went south, 
and they followed stricter rules of asceticism than did their fellows in the north. Both 
sects are modifications of the original type, and their differences did not result in 
sectarian separation till about the time of our era, at which epoch arose the differenti- 
ating titles of sects that had not previously separated into formal divisions, but had 
drifted apart geographically. 

2 Compare Jacobi, loc. cit., and Leumann's account of the seven sects of the Qve- 
tambaras in the essay in the Indische Studien referred to above. At the present day 
the Jains are found to the number of about a million in the northwest (Qvetambaras), 
and south (Digambaras) of India. The original seat of the whole body in its first 
form was, as we have said, near Benares, where also arose and flourished Buddhism. 

JAINISM. ^j 2S5 

of this school are probably the gymnosophists of the Greek 
historians, although this general term may have been used in 
describing other sects, as the practice of dispensing with attire 
is common even to-day with many Hindu devotees.^ 

An account of the Jain absurdities in the way of speculation 
would indeed give some idea of their intellectual frailty, 
but, as in the case of the Buddhists, such an account has but 
little to do with their religion. It will suffice to state that the 
' ages ' of the Brahmans from whom Jain and Buddhist derived 
their general conceptions of the ages, are here reckoned quite 
differently; and that the first Jina of the long series of pre- 
historic prophets lived more than eight million years and was 
five hundred bow-lengths in height. Monks and laymen now 
appear at large in India, a division which originated neither 
with Jain nor Buddhist," though these orders are more clearly 
divided among the heretics, from whom, again, was borrowed 
by the Hindu sects, the monastic institution, in the ninth 
century (a.d.), in all the older heretical completeness. Al- 
though atheistic the Jain worshipped the Teacher, and paid 
some regard to the Brahmanical divinities, just as he worships 
the Hindu gods to-day, for the atheistical systems admitted 
gods as demi-gods or dummy gods, and in point of fact became 
very superstitious. Yet are both founder-worship and super- 
stition rather the growth of later generations than the original 
practice. The atheism of the Jain means denial of a divine 
creative Spirit.^ 

1 Hemacandra's Yogagastra, edited by Windisch, ZDMG. xxviii. 185 flf. (iii. 133). 
The Jain's hate of women did not prevent his worshipping goddesses as the female 
energy Hke the later Hindu sects. The Jains are divided in regard to the possibility 
of woman's salvation. The Yogagastra alludes to women as ' the lamps that burn on 
the road that leads to the gate of hell,' ii. 87. The Digambaras do not admit women 
into the order, as do the (^vetambaras. 

- Die Bharata-sage, Leumann, ZDMG. xlviii. p. 65. See also above in the Sutras. 
With the Jains there is less of the monastic side of religion than with the Buddhists. 

3 Jains are sometimes called Arhats on account of their veneration for the Arhat 
or chief Jina (whence Jain). Their only real gods are their chiefs or Teacheis, whose 



Though at times in conflict with the Brahmans the Jains 
never departed from India as did the Buddhists, and even 
Brahmanic priests in some parts of India serve to-day in Jain 

In metaphysics as in religion the Jain differs radically from 
the Buddhist. He believes in a dualism not unlike that of the 
Sankhyas, whereas Buddhistic philosophy has no close connec- 
tion with this Brahmanic system. To the Jain eternal matter 
stands opposed to eternal spirits, for (opposed to pantheism) 
every material entity (even water) has its own individual spirit. 
The Jain's Nirvana, as Barth has said, is escape from the 
body, not escape from existence.^ Like the Buddhist the 
Jain believes in reincarnation, eight births, after one has 
started on the right road, being necessary to the completion of 
perfection. Both sects, with the Brahmans, insist on the non- 
injury doctrine, but in this regard the Jain exceeds his Brah- 
manical teacher's practice. Both heretical sects claim that 
their reputed founders were the last of twenty-four or twenty- 
five prophets who preceded the real founder, each successively 
having become less monstrous (more human) in form. 

The Jain literature left to us is quite large - and enough has 
been published already to make it necessary to revise the old 
belief in regard to the relation between Jainism and Buddhism. 

We have said that Jainism stands nearer to Brahmanism 
(with which, however, it frequently had quarrels) than does 

idols are worshipped in the temples. Thus, like the Buddhist and some Hindu sects 
of modern times, they have given up God to worship man. Rather have they adopted 
an idolatry of man and worship of womanhood, for they also revere the female energy. 
Positivism has ancient models ! 

1 The Jain sub-sects did not differ much among themselves in philosophical spec- 
ulation. Their differences were rather of a practical sort. 

2:See the list of the BerUn MSS. ; Weber, Berlin MSS. vo\. ii. 1S92 ; and the 
thirty-third volume of the German Oriental Journal, pp. 47S, 693. For an account of 
the literature see also Jacobi's introduction to the SBE. vol. xxii ; and Weber, Ucber 
die heiligoi Schriftcn der Jaina in vols, xvi, xvii of the Indische Stiidieji (translated 
by Smyth in the Indian Antiquary) ; and the Bibliography (below). 


Buddhism.^ The most striking outward sign of this is the 
weight laid on asceticism, which is common to Brahmanism and 
Jainism but is repudiated by Buddhism. Twelve years of asceti- 
cism are necessary to salvation, as thinks the Jain, and this 
self-mortification is of the most stringent sort. But it is not in 
their different conception of a Nirvana of release rather than 
of annihilation, nor in the Sankhya-like - duality they affect, 
nor yet in the prominence given to self-mortification that the 
Jains differ most from the Buddhists. The contrast will appear 
more clearlv when we come to deal with the latter sect. At 
present we take up the Jain doctrine for itself. 

The ' three gems ' which, according to the Jains,^ result in 
the spirit's attainment of deliverance are knowledge, faith, and 
virtue, or literally ' right knowledge, right intuition, and right 
practices.' Right knowledge is a true knowledge of the rela- 
tion of spirit and non-spirit (the world consists of two classes, 
spirit and non-spirit), the latter being immortal like the former. 
Rio^ht intuition is absolute faith in the word of the Master and 
the declarations of the Agamas, or sacred texts. Right prac- 
tices or virtue consists, according to the Yogacastra, in the 
correct fivefold conduct of one that has "knowledge and faith: 
(i) Non-injury, (2) kindness and speaking what is true (in so 
far as the truth is pleasant to the hearer),* (3) honorable con- 
duct, typified by ' not stealing,' (4) chastity in word, thought, 
and deed, (5) renunciation of earthly interests. 

The doctrine of non-injury found but modified approval 
among the Brahmans. They limited its application in the case of 

1 A case of connection in legends between Buddhist and Jain is mentioned below. 
Another is the history of king Paesi, elaborated in Buddhistic literature (Tripitaka) 
and in the second Jain Upanga alike, as has been shown by Leumann. 

'^ The Jain's spirit, however, is not a world-spirit. He does not believe in an 
All-Spirit, but in a plurality of eternal spirits, fire-spirits, wind-spirits, plant- 
spirits, etc. 

■^ Compare Colebrooke's Essays, vol. ii. pp. 404, 444, and the Yogacastra cited 
above. ^ This is not in the earlier form of the vow (see below). 


sacrifice, and for this reason were bitterly taunted by the Jains 
as ' murderers.' " Viler than unbelievers," says the Yogagastra, 
quoting a law of Manu to the effect that animals may be slain 
for sacrifice, " are those cruel ones who make the law that 
teaches killing."^ For this reason the Jain is far more partic- 
ular in his respect for life than is the Buddhist. Lest animate 
things, even plants and animalculae, be destroyed, he sweeps 
the ground before him as he goes, walks veiled lest he inhale 
a living organism, strains water, and rejects not only meat but 
even honey, together with various fruits that are supposed to 
contain worms ; not because of his distaste for worms but 
because of his regard for life. Other arguments which, logic- 
ally, should not be allowed to influence him are admitted, how- 
ever, in order to terrify the hearer. Thus the first argument 
against the use of honey is that it destroys life ; then follows 
the argument that honey is 'spit out by bees ' and therefore it 
is nasty. ^ 

The Jain differs from the Buddhist still more in ascetic 
practices. He is a forerunner, in fact, of the horrible modern 
devotee whose practices we shall describe below. The older 
view of seven hells in opposition to the legal Brahmanic num- 
ber of thrice seven is found (as it is in the Markandeya 
Purana), but whether this be the rule we cannot say.'^ It is 
interesting to see that hell is preserved with metempsychosis 
exactly as it is among the Brahmans.^ Reincarnation on 

1 ii. '})'] and 41. Although the Brahman ascetic took the vow not to kill, yet is he 
permitted to do so for sacrifice, and he may eat flesh of animals killed by other ani- 
mals (Gautama, 3. 31). 

2 Loc. cit. iii. 37-38. The evening and night are not times to eat, and for the 
same reason " The Gods eat in the morning, the Seers at noon, the Fathers in the 
afternoon, the devils at tv^ilight and night'' {ib. 58). For at night one might eat a 
a living thing by mistake. 3 [^qc. cit. ii. 27. 

•1 The pun ttzduisa, " Me eat will be hereafter whose meat I eat in this life " (Lan- 
man), shows that Jain and Brahman believed in a hell where the injured avenged 
themselves (Manu, v. 55 ; HYf . iii. 26), just as is related in the Bhrigu story 


earth and punishment in hells between reincarnation seems to 
be the usual belief. The salvation which is attained by the 
practice of knowledge, faith, and five-fold virtue, is not imme- 
diate, but it will come after successive reincarnations ; and 
this salvation is the freeing of the eternal spirit from the bonds 
of eternal matter ; in other words, it is much more like the 
' release ' of the Brahman than it is like the Buddhistic 
Nirvana, though, of course, there is no ' absorption,' each spirit 
remainins: sinsrle. In the order of the Ratnatrava or ' three 
gems ' Cankara appears to lay the greatest weight on faith, but 
in Hemacandra's schedule knowledge ^ holds the first place. 
This is part of that Yoga, asceticism, which is the most im- 
portant element in attaining salvation. - 

Another division of right practices is cited by the Yogacastra 
(i. 2)Z ff-) : Some saints say that virtue is divided into five kinds 
of care and three kinds of control, to wit, proper care in walk- 
ing, talking, begging for food, sitting, and performing natural 
functions of the body — these constitute the five kinds of care, 
and the kinds of control are those of thought, speech, and act. 
This teaching it is stated, is for the monks. The practice of the 
laity is to accord with the custom of their country. 

The chief general rules for the laity consist in vows of obe- 
dience to the true god, to the law, and to the (present) Teacher : 
which are somewhat like the vows of the Buddhist. God here 
is the Arhat, the 'venerable' founder of the sect. The laic has 
also five lesser vows : not to kill, not to lie, not to steal, not to 
commit adultery or fornication, to be content with little. 

According to the Qastra already cited the laic must rise 
early in the morning, worship the god's idol at home, go to the 
temple and circumambulate the Jina idol three times, strewing 
flowers, and sinfrins: hvmns, and then read the Pratvakhvana 
(an old Piirva, gospel).^ Further rules of prayer and practice 

1 By intuition or instruction. - Loc. cit. i. 15 ff. 

^ Loc.cit.\\\. 121 ff. Wilson, ^'jj'iT^'i-, 1. 3 19, gives a description of the simple Jain ritual 


guide him through his day. And by following this rule he ex- 
pects to obtain spiritual ' freedom ' hereafter ; but for his life 
on earth he is ''without praise or blame for this world or the 
next, for life or for death, having meditation as his one pure 
wife " (iii. 150). He will become a god in heaven, be reborn 
again on earth, and so, after eight successive existences (the 
Buddhistic number), at last obtain salvation, release (from 
bodies) for his eternal soul (153). 

As in the Upanishads, the gods, like men, are a part of the 
system of the universe. The wise man goes to them (becomes 
a god) only to return to earth again. All systems thus unite 
hell and heaven with the karma doctrine. But in this Jain 
work, as in so many of the orthodox wTitings, the weight is 
laid more on hell as a punishment than on rebirth. Prob- 
ably the first Jains did not acknowledge gods at all, for it is 
an early rule with them not to say ' God rains,' or use any such 
expression, but to say 'the cloud rains '; and in other ways they 
avoid to employ a terminology which admits even implicitly 
the existence of divinities. Yet do they use a god not infre- 
quently as an agent of glorification of Mahavira, saying in 
later writings that Indra transformed himself, to do the Teacher 
honor ; and often they speak of the gods and goddesses as if 
these were regarded as spirits. Demons and inferior beings 
are also utilized in the same way, as when it is said that at the 
Teacher's birth the demons (spirits) showered gold upon the 

The religious orders of the (Jvetambara sect contained nuns 
as well as monks, although, as we have said, women are not 
esteemed very favorably : " The w^orld is greatly troubled by 
women. People say that women are vessels of pleasure. But 
this leads them to pain, to delusion, to death, to hell, to 
birth as hell-beings or brute-beasts." Such is the decision in 
the Acaranga Siitra, or book of usages for the Jain monk and 
nun. From the same work we extract a few rules to illustrate 


the practices of the Jains. This Uterature is the most tedious 
in the world, and to give the gist of the heretic law-maker's 
manual will suffice. 

Asceticism should be practiced by monk and nun, if possible. 
But if one finds that he cannot resist his passions, or is dis- 
abled and cannot endure austerities, he may commit suicide; 
although this release is sometimes reprehended, and is not 
allowable till one has striven against yielding to such a means. 
But when the twelve years of asceticism are passed one has 
assurance of reaching Nirvana, and so may kill himself. Of 
Nirvana there is no description. It is release, salvation, but 
it is of such sort that in regard to it 'speculation has no place,' 
and ' the mind cannot conceive of it ' (copied from the 
Upanishads). In other regards, in contrast to the nihilistic 
Buddhist, the Jain assumes a doubtful attitude, so that he is 
termed the 'may-be philosopher,' rjv?^/z'^^//;/,^ in opposition to 
the Buddhist, the philosopher of 'the void.' 

But if the Jain may kill himself, he may not kill or injure 
anything else. Not even food prepared over a fire is accept- 
able, lest he hurt the 'fire-beings,' for as he believes in 
w^ater-beings, so he believes in fire-beings, wind-beings, etc. 
Every plant and seed is holy w4th the sacredness of life. He 
may not hurt or drive away the insects that torment his naked 
flesh. ' Patience is the highest good,' he declares, and the 
rules for sitting and lying conclude with the statement that 
not to move at all, not to stir, is the best rule. To lie naked, 
bitten by vermin, and not to disturb them, is religion. Like 
a true Puritan, the Jain regards pleasure in itself as sinful. 
"What is discontent, and what is pleasure? One should live 
subject to neither. Giving up all gaiety, circumspect, restrained, 
one should lead a religious life. Man ! Thou art thine own 
friend; why longest thou for a friend beyond thyself? . . . 
First troubles, then pleasures ; first pleasures, then troubles. 

1 Who says " may be." 


These are the cause of quarrels." And again, " Let one think, 
' I am I,' " i.e., let one be dependent on himself alone. When 
a Jain monk or nun hears that there is to be a festival (per- 
haps to the gods, to Indra, Skanda, Rudra, Vishnu,^ or the 
demons, as in Acaranga Sutra, ii. 1.2) he must not go thither ; 
he must keep himself from all frivolities and entertainments. 
During the four months of the rainy season he is to remain in 
one place,- but at other times, either naked or attired in a few 
garments, he is to wander about begging. In going on his 
begging tour he is not to answer questions, nor to retort if 
reviled. He is to speak politely (the formulae for polite 
address and rude address are given), beg modestly, and not 
render himself liable to suspicion on account of his behavior 
when in the house of one of the faithful. Whatever be the 
quality of the food he must eat it, if it be not a wrong sort. 
Rice and beans are especially recommended to him. The 
great Teacher Jnatriputra (Mahavira), it is said, never went to 
shows, pantomines, boxing-matches, and the like ; but, remain- 
ing in his parents' house till their death, that he might not 
grieve his mother, at the age of twenty-eight renounced the 
world with the consent of the government, and betook himself 
to asceticism ; travelling naked (after a year of clothes) into 
barbarous lands, but always converting and enduring the re- 
proach of the wicked. He was beaten and set upon by sinful 
men, yet was he never moved to anger. Thus it was that he 
became the Arhat, the Jina, the Kevalin (perfect sage).' It 

1 Mukunda. 

2 This ' keeping vasso' is also a Brahmanic custom, as Biihler has pointed out. 
But it is said somewhere that at that season the roads are impassible, so that there 
is not so much a conscious copying as a physical necessity in keeping z'rtj-jt?; perhaps 
also a moral touch, owing to the increase of life and danger of killing. 

3 In the lives of the Jinas it is said that Jiiatriputra's (Nataputta's) parents wor- 
shipped the ' people's favorite,' Pargva, and were followers of the (^ramanas (ascetics). 
In the same work (which contains nothing further for our purpose) it is said that 
Arhats. Cakravarts. Baladevas, and Vasudevas, present, past, and future, are aristo- 
crats, born in noble families. The heresies and sectaries certainly claim as much. 


is sad to have to add, however, that Mahavira is traditionally- 
said to have died in a fit of apoplectic rage. 

The equipment of a monk are his clothes (or, better, none), 
his alms-bowl, broom, and veil. He is ' unfettered,' in being 
without desires and without injury to others. ' Some say that 
all sorts of living beings may be slain, or abused, or tormented, 
or driven away — the doctrine of the unworthy. The righteous 
man does not kill nor cause others to kill. He should not 
cause the same punishment for himself.' 

The last clause is significant. What he does to another 
living being will be done to him. He will suffer as he has 
caused others to suffer. The chain from emotion to hell — 
the avoidance of the former is on account of the fear of the 
latter — is thus connected : He who knows wrath knows pride ; 
he who knows pride knows deceit ; he who knows deceit knows 
greed (and so on ; thus one advances) from greed to love, from 
love to hate, from hate to delusion, from delusion to concep- 
tion, from conception to birth, from birth to death, from death 
to hell, from hell to animal existence, ' and he who knows ani- 
mal existence knows pain.' 

The five great vows, which have been thought by some 
scholars to be copies of the Buddhistic rules, whereas they 
are really modifications of the old Brahmanic rules for 
ascetics as explained in pre-Buddhistic literature, are in detail 
as follows : ^ 

The First vow : I renounce all killing of living beings, whether 
subtile or gross, whether movable or immovable. Nor shall I 
myself kill living beings nor cause others to do it, nor consent 
to it. As long as I live I confess and blame, repent and exempt 
myself of these sins in the thrice threefold way,^ in mind, speech, 
and body. 

1 Acaranga S. ii. 15. We give Jacobi's translation, as in the verses already cited 
from this work. 

2 Acting, commanding, consenting, past, present, or future (Jacobi). 


The five 'clauses' that explain this vow are: (i) the 
Niggantha (Jain) is careful in walking ; (2) he does not allow 
his mind to act in a way to suggest injury of living beings ; 
(3) he does not allow his speech to incite to injury; (4) he is 
careful in laying down his utensils ; (5) he inspects his food 
and drink lest he hurt living beings. 

The Second Vow : I renounce all vices of lying speech aris- 
ing from anger, or greed, or fear, or mirth. I confess (etc., as 
in the first vow). 

The five clauses here explain that the Niggantha speaks 
only after deliberation ; does not get angry ; renounces greed ; 
renounces fear; renounces mirth- — lest through any of these 
he be moved to lie. 

The Third Vow : I renounce all taking of anything not 
given, either in a village, or a town, or a wood, either of little 
or much, or small or great, of living or lifeless things. I shall 
neither take myself what is not given nor cause others to take 
it, nor consent to their taking it. As long as I live I confess 
(etc., as in the first vow). 

The clauses here explain that the Niggantha must avoid 
different possibilities of stealing, such as taking food without 
permission of his superior. One clause states that he may take 
only a limited ground for a limited time, ?>., he may not settle 
down indefinitely on a wide area, for he may not hold land 
absolutely. Another clause insists on his having his grant to 
the land renewed frequently. 

The Fourth Vow : I renounce all sexual pleasures, either 
with gods, or men, or animals. I shall not give way to sensu- 
ality (etc.). 

The clauses here forbid the Niggantha to discuss topics 
relating to women, to contemplate the forms of women, to 
recall the pleasures and amusements he used to have with 
women, to eat and drink too highly seasoned viands, to lie 
near women. 


The Fifth Vow : I renounce all attachments, whether little 
or much, small or great, living or lifeless ; neither shall I my- 
self form such attachments, nor cause others to do so, nor 
consent to their doing so (etc.). 

The five clauses particularize the dangerous attachments 
formed by ears, eyes, smell, taste, touch. 

It has been shown above (following Jacobi's telling com- 
parison of the heretical vows with those of the early Brahman 
ascetic) that these vows are taken not from Buddhism but from 
Brahmanism. Jacobi opines that the Jains took the four first 
and that the reformer Mahavira added the fifth as an offset to 
the Brahmanical vow of liberality.-^ The same writer shows 
that certain minor rules of the Jain sect are derived from the 
same Brahmanical source. 

The main differences between the two Jain sects have been 
catalogued in an interesting sketch by Williams,- who mentions 
as the chief Jain stations of the north Delhi (where there is an 
annual gathering), Jeypur, and Ajmir. To these Mathura on 
the Jumna should be added.^ The Cvetambaras had forty-five 
or forty-six Agamas, eleven or twelve Angas, twelve Upangas, 
and other scriptures of the third or fourth century B.C., as they 
claim. They do not go naked (even their idols are clothed), 
and they admit women into the order. The Digambaras do 
not admit women, go naked, and have for sacred texts later 
works of the fifth century a.d. The latter of course assert 
that the scriptures of the former sect are spurious.* 

1 SBE. xxii. Introd. p. xxiv. 

■^ JRAS. XX. 279. 

3 See Biihler, the last volume of the Epigraphica Indica, and his other articles in 
the WZKM. V, 59, 175. Jeypur, according to Williams, is the stronghold of the 
Digambara Jains. Compare Thomas, JRAS. ix. 155, Early Faith of A^oka. 

^ The redaction of the Jain canon took place, according to tradition, in 454 or 467 
A.D. (possibly 527). "The origin of the extant Jaina literature cannot be placed 
earlier than about 300 B.C." (Jacobi, Introduction to Jain Siltras, pp. xxxvii, xliii). 
The present Angas (' divisions ') were preceded by Purvas, of which there are said to 
have been at first fourteen. On the number of the scriptures see Weber, loc. cit. 


In distinction from the Buddhists the Jains of to-day keep 
up caste. Some of them are Brahmans. They have, of course, 
a different prayer-formula, and have no Stupas or Dagobas (to 
hold relics) ; and, besides the metaphysical difference spoken 
of above, they differ from the Buddhists in assuming that 
metempsychosis does not stop at animal existence, but includes 
inanimate things (as these are regarded by others). According 
to one of their own sect of to-day, a/ihnsd para??io d/iar7nas,''th.Q 
highest law of duty is not to hurt a living creature.' ^ 

The most striking absurdity of the Jain reverence for life has 
frequently been commented upon. Almost every city of west- 
ern India, where they are found, has its beast-hospital, where 
animals are kept and fed. An amusing account of such an 
hospital, called Pinjra Pol, at Saurarashtra, Surat, is given in 
the first number of the Joiwtial of the Royal Asiatic Society} 
Five thousand rats were supported in such a temple-hospital 
in Kutch.^ 

Of all the great religious sects of India that of Nataputta is 
perhaps the least interesting, and has apparently the least ex- 
cuse for being.* The Jains offered to the world but one great 
moral truth, withal a negative truth, ' not to harm,' nor was 
this verity invented by them. Indeed, what to the Jain is 
the great truth is only a grotesque exaggeration of what 
other sects recognized in a reasonable form. Of all the sects 
the Jains are the most colorless, the most insipid. They have 

1 Williams, loc. cit. The prayer-formula is : ' Reverence to Arhats, saints, teachers, 
sub-teachers, and all good men.' 

2 ' A place which is appropriated for the reception of old, worn-out, lame, or dis- 
abled animals. At that time (1823) they chiefly consisted of buffaloes and cows, but 
there were also goats and sheep, and even cocks and hens,' and also ' hosts of 

3 JRAS. 1S34, p. 96. The town was taxed to provide the food for the rats. 

4 Because the Jains have reverted to idolatry, demonology, and man-worship. But 
at the outset they appear to have had two great principles, one, that there is no 
divine power higher than man ; the other, that all life is sacred. One of these is now 
practically given up, and the other was always taken too seriously. 


no literature worthy of the name. They were not original 
enough to give up many orthodox features, so that they seem 
like a weakened rill of Brahmanism, cut off from the source, 
yet devoid of all independent character. A religion in which 
the chief points insisted upon are that one should deny God, 
worship man, and nourish vermin, has indeed no right to exist ; 
nor has it had as a system much influence on the history of 
thought. As in the case of Buddhism, the refined Jain meta- 
physics are probably a late growth. Historically these sectaries 
served a purpose as early protestants against ritualistic and 
polytheistic Brahmanism ; but their real affinity with the latter 
faith is so great that at heart they soon became Brahmanic 
again. Their position geographically would make it seem 
probable that they, and not the Buddhists, had a hand in the 
making of the ethics of the later epic. 



While the pantheistic believer proceeded to anthropomor- 
phize in a still greater degree the atina of his fathers, and 
eventually landed in heretical sectarianism; while the orthodox 
Brahman simply added to his pantheon (in Manu and other 
law-codes) the Brahmanic figure of the Creator, Brahma : the 
truth-seeker that followed the lines of the earlier philosophical 
thought arrived at atheism, and in consequence became either 
stoic or hedonist. The latter school, the Carvakas, the so- 
called disciples of Brihaspati, have, indeed, a philosophy without 
religion. They simply say that the gods do not exist, the priests 
are hypocrites ; the Vedas, humbug ; and the only thing worth 
living for, in view of the fact that there are no gods, no heaven, 
and no soul, is pleasure : ' While life remains let a man live 
happily ; let him not go without butter (literally ghee) even 
though he run into debt,' etc.-^ Of sterner stuff was the man 
who invented a new religion as a solace for sorrow and a refuse 
from the nihilism in which he believed. 

Whether Jainism or Buddhism be the older heresy, and it is 
not probable that any definitive answer to this question will 
ever be given, one thing has become clear in the light of 
recent studies, namely, the fact already shown, that to Brah- 
manism are due some of the most marked traits of both the 
heretical sects. The founder of Buddhism did not strike out a , 
new system of morals; he was not a democrat; he did not / 
originate a plot to overthrow the Brahmanic priesthood ; he 

1 Compare Colebrooke's Essays, vol. ii. 460; and Muir. OST, iv, 296 


did not invent the order of monks. -^ There is, perhaps, no 
person in history in regard to whom have arisen so many 
opinions that are either wholly false or half false." 

We shall not canvass in detail views that would be mentioned 
only to be rejected. Even the brilliant study of Senart,^ in 
which the figure of Buddha is resolved into a solar type and 
the history of the reformer becomes a sun-myth, deserves only 
to be mentioned and laid aside. Since the publication of the 
canonical books of the southern Buddhists there is no longer 
any question in regard to the human reality of the great knight 
who illumined, albeit with anything but heavenly light, the 
darkness of Brahmanical belief. Oldenberg^ has taken Senart 
seriously, and seriously answered him. But Napoleon and 
]\Iax Miiller have each been treated as sun-myths, and Senart's 
essay is as convincing as either yV/^ d' esprit. 

In Nepal, far from the site of Vedic culture, and generations 
after the period of the Vedic hymns, was born a son to the 
noble family of the Cakyas. A warrior prince, he made at last 
exclusively his own the lofty title that was craved by many of 
his psers, Buddha, the truly wise, the 'Awakened.' 

The Cakyas' land extended along the southern border of 
Nepal and the northeast part of Oude (Oudh), between the 
Iravati (Rapti) river on the west and south, and the Rohini on 
\\it east : the district which lies around the present Gorakhpur, 
about one hundred miles north-northeast of Benares. The 
personal history of the later Buddha is interwoven with legend 
from which it is not always easy to disentangle the threads of 
truth. In the accounts preserved in regard to the Master, one 
has first to distinguish the Pali records of the Southern 
Buddhists from the Sanskrit tales of the Northerners ; and 
again, it is necessary to discriminate between the earlier and 

1 Compare Oldenberg, Buddha., p. 155. 

2 Especially Koppen views Buddha as a democratic reformer .and liberator. 
8 Emile Senart, Essai siir la Icgende du Buddha. 1875. 

^Buddha (1881), p. 73 ff. 


later traditions of the Southerners, who have kept in general 
the older history as compared with the extravagant tradition 
preserved in the Lalita Vistara, the Lotus of the Law. and the 
other works of the North. What little seems to be authentic 
history is easily told ; nor are, for our present purpose, of 
much value the legends, which mangonize the life of Buddha. 
They will be found in every book that treats of the subject, 
and some of the more famous are translated in the article on 
Buddha in the Encyclopcedia Brittanica. We content ourselves 
with the simplest and oldest account, giving such facts as help 
to explain the religious significance of Buddha's life and work 
anions: his countrvmen. Several of these facts, Buddha's 
place in society, and the geographical centre of Buddhistic 
activity, are essential to a true understanding of the relations 
between Buddhism and Brahmanism. 

Whether Buddha's father was king or no has rightly been 
questioned. The oldest texts do not refer to him as a king's 
son, and this indicates that his father, who governed the 
^akya-land, of which the limits have just been specified,-^ was 
rather a feudal baron or head of a small clan, than an actual 
king. The Qakya power was overthrown and absorbed into 
that of the king of Oude (Kosala) either in Buddha's own life- 
time or immediately afterwards. It is only the newer tradition 
that extols the power and wealth which the Master gave up on 
renouncins: worldlv ties, a trait characteristic of all the later 
accounts, on the principle that the greater was the sacrifice i^jk 
greater was the glory. Whether kings or mere chieftains, tflo 
Qakyas were noted as a family that cared little to honor the 
Brahmanic priests. They themselves claimed descent from 
Ikshvaku, the ancient seer-king, son of Manu. and traditionally 
first king of Ayodha (Oude). They assumed the name of 

1 The exact position of Kapilavastu, the capital of the Qakyas. is not known, 
although it must have been near to the position assigned to it on Kiepert's map of 
India (just north of Gorakhpur). The town is unknown in Brahmanic literature. 


Gautama, one of the Vedic seers, and it was by the name of 
' the Ascetic Gautama ' that Buddha was known to his contem- 
poraries ; but his personal name was Siddhartha ' he that 
succeeds in his aim,' prophetic of his life ! His mother's 
name Maya (illusion) has furnished Senart with material for 
his sun-theory of Buddha ; but the same name is handed down 
as that of a city, and perhaps means in this sense ' the won- 
derful.' She is said to have died when her son was still a boy. 
The boy Siddhartha, then, was a warrior rajpiit by birth, and 
possibly had a very indifferent training in Vedic literature, 
since he is never spoken of as Veda-wise.^ The future Buddha 
was twentv-nine when he resolved to renounce the world. He 
was already married and had a son (Rahula, according to later 
tradition). The legends of later growth here begin to thicken, 
telling how, when the future Buddha heard of the birth of his 
son, he simply said ' a new bond has been forged to hold me 
to the world'; and how his mind was first awakened to appre- 
ciation of sorrow by seeing loathy examples of age, sickness, 
and death presented to him as he drove abroad. Despite his 
father's tears and protests Siddhartha, or as one may call him 
now by his patronymic, the man Gautama, left his home and 
family, gave up all possessions, and devoted himself to self- 
mortification and Yoga discipline of concentration of thought, 
following in this the model set by all previous ascetics. He 
says himself, according to tradition, that it was a practical 
pessimism which drove him to take this step. He was • not 
pleased with life, and the pleasures of society had no charm for 
him. When he saw the old man, the sick man, the dead man, 
he became disgusted to think that he^too would be, subject to 
age, sickness, and death :." I 'felt ' disgust at old age; all 
pleasure then forsook me." In becoming an ascetic Gautama 

1 This is Oldenberg's opinion, for the reason here stated. On the other hand it 
may be questioned whether this negative evidence be conclusive, and whether it be 
not more probable that a young nobleman would have been well educated. 


simply endeavored to discover some means by which he might 
avoid a recurrence of life, of which the disagreeable side in his 
estimation outweighed the joy. He too had already answered 
negatively the question Is life worth living ? 

We must pause here to point out that this oldest and 
simplest account of Gautama's resolve shows two things. It 
makes clear that Gautama at first had no plan for the uni- 
versal salvation of his race. He was alert to 'save his own 
soul,' nothing more. We shall show presently that this is 
confirmed by subsequent ' events in his career. The next 
point is that this narration in itself is a complete refutation 
of the opinion of those scholars who believe that the doctrine 
of karma and reincarnation arose first in Buddhism, and 
that the Upanishads that preach this doctrine are not of the 
pre-Buddhistic period. The last part of this statement of 
opinion is, of course, not touched by the story of Gautama's 
renunciation, but the first assumption wrecks on it. Why 
should Gautama have so given himself to Yoga discipline ? 
Did he expect to escape age, sickness, death, in this life 
by thit means ? No. The assumption from the beginning 
is the belief in the doctrine of reincarnation. It was in order 
to free himself from future returns of these ills that Gautama 
renounced his home. But nothing whatever is said of his dis- 
covering; or inventing^ the doctrine of reincarnation. Both hell 
and karma are taken for granted throughout the whole early 
Bud-dhistic literature. Buddha discovered neither of them, any 
more than he discovered a new system of morality, or a new 
system of religious life ; although more credit accrues to him 
in regard to the last because his order was opposed to that 
then prevalent ; yet even here he had antique authority for his 

Tq return to Gautama's ^ life. Legend tells how he fled 

1 Siddhartha, the boy, Gautama by his family cognomen, the (^akya-son by his 
clan-name, was known also as the (^akya-sage, the hermit, Samana ((^ramana) ; the 

BUDDHISM. ^ 303 

away on his horse Kanthaka, in search of solitude and the 
means of salvation, far from his home to the abode of ascetics, 
for he thought : " Whence comes peace t ■. When the fire of 
desire is extinguished, when the fire ol '^te is extinguished, 
when the fire of illusion is extin^i^uished/ leu all sins and all 
sorrows are extinguished, then comes peace." And the only 
means to this end was the renunciation of desire, the discipline 
of Yoga concentration, where the mind fixed on one point loses 
all else from its horizon, and feels no drawing aside to worldly 

What then has Gautama done from the point of view of the 
Brahman ? He has given up his home to become an ascetic. 
But this was permitted by usage, for, although the strict 
western code allowed it only to the priest, yet it was customary 
among the other twice-born castes at an earlier day, and in this 
part of India it awakened no surprise that one of the military 
caste should take up the life of a philosopher. For the 
historian of Indie religions this fact is of great significance, 
since such practice is the entering wedge which was to split 
the castes. One step more and not only the military caste 
but the lower, nay the lowest castes, might become ascetics. 
But, again, all ascetics were looked upon, in that religious 
society, as equal to the priests. In fact, where Gautama 
lived there was rather more respect paid to the ascetic 
than to the priest as a member of the caste. Gautama 
was most fortunate in his birth and birth-place. An aristocrat, 
he became an ascetic in a land where the priests were particu- 
larly disregarded. He had no public opinion to contend 
against when later he declared that Brahman birth and Brah- 
man wisdom had no value. On the contrary, he spoke to 

venerable, Arhat (a general title of perfected saints); Tathagata ' who is arrived like' 
(the preceding Buddhas, at perfection); and also by many other names common to 
other sects, Buddha, Jina, The Blessed One (Bhagavat), The Great Hero, etc. The 
Buddhist disciple may be a layman, qravaka ; a moxik, bhikshti ; a perfected saint, 
arhat ; a saintly doctor of the law, bodhisattva ; etc. 


glad hearers, who heard repeated loudly now as a religious 
truth what often they had said to themselves despitefuUy in 

Gautama journeyed as a 7?timi, or silent ascetic sage, till 
after seven years he abandoned his teachers (for he had be- 
come a disciple of professed masters), and discontentedly 
wandered about in Magadha (Behar), ' the cradle of Buddhism,' 
till he came to Uruvela, Bodhi Gaya.-^ Here, having found 
that concentration of mind. Yoga-discipline, availed nothing, 
he undertook another method of asceticism, self-torture. This 
he practiced for some time. But it succeeded as poorly as 
his first plan, and he had nearly starved himself to death when 
it occurred to him that he was no wiser than before. There- 
upon he gave up starvation as a means of wisdom and began 
to eat. Five other ascetics, who had been much impressed by 
his endurance and were quite ready to declare themselves his 
disciples, now deserted him, thinking that as he had relaxed 
his discipline he must be weaker than themselves. But 
Gautama sat beneath the sacred fig-tree" and lo ! he became 
illumined. In a moment he saw the Great Truths. He was 
now the Awakened. He became Buddha. 

The later tradition here recoi'ds how he was tempted of 
Satan. For Mara (Death), ' the Evil One ' as he is called by 
the Buddhists, knowing that Buddha had found the way of 
salvation, tempted him to enter into Nirvana at once, lest by 
converting others Buddha should rob Mara of his power and 
dominion. This and the legend of storms attacking him and 
his being protected by the king of snakes, Mucalinda, is lack- 
ing in the earlier tradition. 

Buddha remains under the bo-tT&e fasting, for four times 
seven days, or seven times seven, as says the later report. At 

1 South of the present Patna. Less correct is the Buddha Gaya form. 

2 The famous bo or Bodhi-tree, ficus roXigioss.. pippala, at Bodhi Gaya, said to be 
the most venerable and certainly the most venerated tree in the world. 


first he resolves to be a 'Buddha for himself,'^ that is to save 
only himself, not to be ' the universal Buddha/ who converts 
and saves the world. But the God Brahma comes down from 
heaven and persuades him out of pity for the world to preach 
salvation. In this legend stands out clearly the same fact we 
have animadverted upon already. Buddha had at first no 
intention of helping his fellows. He found his own road to 
salvation. That sufficed. But eventually he was moved 
through pity for his kind to give others the same knowledge 
with which he had been enlightened.^ 

Here is to be noticed with what suddenness Gautama be- 
comes Buddha. It is an earlv case of the same absence of 
study or intellectual preparation for belief that is rampant in 
the idea of ictic conversion. In a moment Gautama's eyes are 
opened. In ecstacy he becomes illuminated with the light of 
knowledge. This idea is totally foreign to Brahmanism. It 
is not so strange at an earlier stage, for the Vedic poet often 
' sees ' his hymn,^ that is, he is inspired or illumined. But no 
Brahman priest was ever ' enlightened ' with sudden wisdom, 
for his knowledge was his wisdom, and this consisted in learn- 
ins: interminable trifles. But the wisdom of Buddha was this : 

I. Birth is sorrow, age is sorrow, sickness is sorrow, death — 
is sorrow, clinging to earthly things is sorrow. 

II. Birth and re-birth, the chain of reincarnations, result - 
from the thirst for life together with passion and desire. I j 

III. The only escape from this thirst is the annihilation of 

IV. The only way of escape from this thirst is by following 
the Eightfold Path : Right belief, right resolve, right word, 

1 K pacceka Buddha (Oldenberg, Buddha, p. 122). 

2 '^ Then be the door of salvation opened ! 
He that hath ears to hear let him hear. 
I thought of my own sorrow only, and, therefore, 
Have not revealed the Word to the world."' 

3 He sometimes, however, quite prosaically ' makes' or ' manufactures ' it. 


right act, right life, right effort, right thinking, right medi- 

But Buddha is said to have seen more than these, the Four 
Great Truths, and the Eightfold Path, for he was enlightened 
at the same time (after several days of fasting) in regard to 
the whole chain of causality which is elaborated in the later 

The general result of this teaching may be formulated thus, 
that most people are foolishly optimistic and that the great 
awakening is to become a pessimist. One must believe not 
only that pain is inseparable from existence, but that the 
pleasures of life are only a part of its pain. When one has got 
so far along the path of knowledge he traverses the next stage 
and gets rid of desire, which is the root of life, — this is a 
Vedic utterance, — till by casting off desire, ignorance, doubt, 
and heresy, as add some of the texts," one has removed far 
away all unkindness and vexation of soul, feeling good-will 
to all. 

Not only in this scheme but also in other less formal decla- 
rations of Buddha does one find the key-note of that which 
makes his method of salvation different alike to that of Jain or 
Brahman. Knowledge is wisdom* to the Brahman ; asceticism 
is wisdom to the Jain ; purity and love is the first wisdom to the 
Buddhist. We do not mean that the Brahman does not reach 
theoretically a plane that puts him on the same level with 
Buddhism. We have pointed out above a passage in the work 
of the old law-giver Gautama which might almost have been 

1 Dhaiu7nacakkaffa-i.attaiia. Rhj's Davids in his introduction to this siiifa gives 
and explains the eight as follows (SBE. xi. p. 144): i, Right views; freedom from 
superstition or delusion. 2, Right aims, high and worthy of the intelligent, earnest 
man. 3, Right speech, kindly, open, truthful. 4, Right conduct, peaceful, honest, 
pure. ;. Right livelihood, bringing hurt to no living thing. 6, Right effort in self- 
training and in self-control. 7, Right mindfulness, the active watchful mind. 
S, Right contemplation, earnest thought on the deep mysteries of life. 

2 Hardy, Mamial, p. 496. 

^ BUDDHISM. 307 

uttered by Gautama Buddha: "He that has performed all the 
forty sacraments and has not the eight good qualities enters 
not into union with Brahma nor into the heaven of Brahma ; 
but he that has performed only a part of the forty sacraments 
and has the eight good qualities, enters into union with 
Brahma and into the heaven of Brahma"; and these eight 
good qualities are mercy, forbearance, freedom from envy, 
purity, calmness, correct behavior, freedom from greed and 
from covetousness. Nevertheless with the Brahman this is 
adventitious, with the Buddhist it is essential. 

These Four Great Truths are given to the world first at 
Benares, whither Buddha went in order to preach to the five 
ascetics that had deserted him. His conversation with them 
shows us another side of Buddhistic ethics. The five monks, 
when they saw Buddha approaching, jeered, and said : " Here 
is the one that failed in his austerities." Buddha tells them to 
acknowledge him as their master, and that he is the Enlightened 
One. "How," they ask, "if you could not succeed in be- 
coming a Buddha by asceticism, can we suppose that you 
become one by indulgence ? " Buddha tells them that neither 
voluptuousness nor asceticism is the road that leads to 
Nirvana ; that he, Buddha, has found the middle path between 
the two extremes, the note is struck that is neither too high 
nor too low. The five monks are converted when they hear 
the Four Great Truths and the Eightfold Path, and there are 
now six holy ones on earth, Buddha and his five disciples. 

Significant also is the social status of Buddha's first conver- 
sion. It is ' the rich youth ' of Benares that flock about him,^ 
of whom sixty soon are counted, and these are sent out into 
all the lands to preach the gospel, each to speak in his own 
tongue, for religion was from this time on no longer to be hid 
behind the veil of an unintelligible language. And it is not 

1 " A decided predilection for the aristocracy appears to have Hngered as an heir- 
loom of the past in the older Buddhism,'' Oldenberg, Buddha, p. 157. 


only the aristocracy of wealth that attaches itself to the new 
teacher and embraces his doctrines with enthusiasm. The next 
converts are a thousand Brahman priests, who constituted a 
religious body under the leadership of three ascetic Brahmans. 
It is described in the old writings how these priests were still 
performing their Vedic rites when Buddha came again to 
Bodhi Gaya and found them there. They were overcome 
with astonishment as they saw his power over the King of 
Snakes that lived among them. The gods — for Buddhism, if 
not Buddha, has much to do with the gods — descend from 
heaven to hear him, and other marvels take place. The Brah- 
mans are all converted. The miracles and the numbers may 
be stripped off, but thus denuded the truth still remains as 
important as it is plain. Priests of Brahman caste were 
among the first to adopt Buddhism. The popular effect of the 
teaching must have been great, for one reads how, when 
Buddha, after this great conversion, begins his victorious 
wanderings in Behar (Magadha), he converted so many of the 
young nobles that — since conversion led to the immediate 
result of renunciation — the people murmured, saying that 
Gautama (Gotama) was robbing them of their youth. -^ 

From this time on Buddha's life was spent in wandering 
about and preaching the new creed mainly to the people of 
Behar and Oude (Ka^i-Kosala, the realm of Benares-Oude), 
his course extending from the (IravatI) Rapti river in the 
north to Rajagriha {ga/ia, now Rajgir) south of Behar, while 
he spent the 7'asso or rainy season in one of the parks, many 
of which were donated to him by wealthy members of the 

Wherever he went he was accompanied with a considerable 
number of followers, and one reads of pilgrims from distant 

1 Mahdvagga, i. 24. On the name (Gautama) Gotam.a, see Weber, IS. i. iSo. 

2 The parks of Veluvana and Jetavana were especially affected by Buddha. Com- 
pare Oldenberg, Buddha, p. 145. 


places coming to see and converse with him. The number of 
his followers appears to have been somewhat exaggerated by 
the later writers, since Buddha himself, when prophesying of 
the next Buddha, the "Buddha of love" (jMaitreya) says that, 
whereas he himself has hundreds of followers, the next Buddha 
will lead hundreds of thousands. 

Although, theoretically, all the castes give up their name, 
and, when united in the Buddhistic brotherhood, become "like 
rivers that give up their identity and unite in the one ocean," 
yet were most of the early recruits, as has been said, from 
influential and powerful families ; and it is a tenet of Buddhism 
in regard to the numerous Buddhas, which have been born ^ 
and are still to be born on earth, that no Buddha can be born 
in a low caste. 

/rhe reason for this lies as much as anything in the nature 
of the Buddhistic system which is expressly declared to be | 
"for the wise, not for the foolish." It was not a system based 
as such on love or on any democratic sentiment. It was a 
philosophical exposition of the causal nexus of birth and 
freedom from re-birth. The common man, untrained in logic, 
might adopt the teaching, but he could not understand it. 
The " Congregation of the son of the Qakyas " — such was the 
earliest name for the Buddhistic brotherhood — were required 
only to renounce their family, put on the yellow robe, assume 
the tonsure and other outward signs, and be chaste and high- 
minded. But the teachers were instructed in the subtleties of 
the ' Path,' and it needed no little training to follow the 
leader's thought to its logical conclusion. 

Of Buddha's life, besides the circumstances already narrated 
little is known. Of his disciples the best beloved was Ananda, 
his own cousin, whose brother was the Judas of Buddhism. 
The latter, Devadatta by name, conspired to kill Buddha in 
order that he himself might get the post of honor. But hell 

1 Like the Jains the Buddhists postulate twenty-four (five) precoJent Buddhas. 


opened and swallowed him up. He appears to have had con- 
victions of Jain tendency, for before his intrigue he preached 
against Buddha, and formulated reactionary propositions which 
inculcated a stricter asceticism than that taught by the 

It has been denied that the early church contained lay mem- 
bers as well as monks, but Oldenberg appears to have set the 
matter right (p. 165) in showing that the laity, from the begin- 
ning, were a recognized part of the general church. The 
monk {bhiks/iu, bhikkii) was formally enrolled as a disciple, 
wore the gown and tonsure, etc. The lay brother, ' reverer ' 
{jipasakii), was one that assented to the doctrine and treated 
the monks kindly. There were, at first, only men in the con- 
gregation, for Buddhism took a view as unfavorable to woman 
as did Jainism. But at his foster-mother's request Buddha 
finally admitted nuns as well as monks into his fold. When 
Ananda asks how a monk should act in presence of a woman 
Buddha says 'avoid to look at her'; but if it be necessary to 
look, 'do not speak to her'; but if it be necessary to speak, 
'then keep wide awake, Ananda.'" 

Buddha died in the fifth century. Rhys Davids, who puts 
the date later than most scholars, gives, as the time of the 
great Nirvana, the second decade from the end of the fourth 
century. On the other hand, Biihler and Miiller reckon the 
year as 477, while Oldenberg says 'about 480.'^ From 
Buddha's own words, as reported by tradition, he was eighty 

1 Buddha's general discipline as compared with that of the Jains was much more 
lax, for instance, in the eating of meat. Buddha himself died of dysentery brought 
on by eating pork. The later Buddhism interprets much more strictly the rule of 
' non-injury'; and as we have shown, Buddha entirely renounced austerities, choosing 
the mean between laxity and asceticism. 

2 Or 'take care of yourself ; Mahaparinibbdna. v. 23. 

3 The chief Buddhistic dates are given by Miiller (introduction to Dhammapada^ 
SBE. vol. X.) as follows: 557. Buddha's birth; 477, Buddha's death and the First 
Council at Rajagriha ; t^jj, the Second Council at Vaigall ; 259, Agoka's coronation ; 
242, Third Council at Pataliputta ; 222, Agoka's death. These dates are only tenta- 


years old at the time of his death, and if one allots him thirty- 
six years as his age when he became independent of masters, 
his active life would be one of forty-four years. It was proba- 
bly less than this, however, for some years must be added to 
the first seven of ascetic practices before he took the field as a 

The story of Buddha's death is told simply and clearly. He 
crossed the Ganges, where at that time was building the town 
of Patna (Pataliputta, ' Palibothra '), and prophesied its future 
greatness (it was the chief city of India for centuries after); 
then, going north from Rajagriha, in Behar, and Vaicall, he 
proceeded to a point east of Gorukhpur (Kasia). Tradition 
thus makes him wander over the most familiar places till he 
comes back almost to his own country. There, in the region 
known to him as a youth, weighed down with years and ill- 
health, but surrounded by his most faithful disciples, he died. 
Not unaffecting is the final scene. ^ 

' Now the venerable Ananda (Buddha's beloved disciple) 
w^ent into the cloister-building, and stood leaning against the 
lintel of the door and weeping at the thought : " Alas ! I 
remain still but a learner, one who has yet to work out his own 
perfection. And the IMaster is about to pass away from me — he 
Vv'ho is so kind." Then the Blessed One called the brethren 
and said: "Where then, brethren, is Ananda.^" "The vener- 
able Ananda (they replied) has gone into the cloister-building 
and stands leaning against the lintel of the door, weeping." . . . 
And the Blessed One called a certain brother, and said " Go 

tive, but they give the time nearly enough to serve as a gtiide. From the Buddhists 
(Ceylon account) it is known that the Council at Vaigali was held one hundred years 
after Buddha's death (one hundred and eighteen years before the coronation of 
Agoka, whose grandfather, Candragupta, was Alexanders contemporary). The in- 
terval between Nirvana and Agoka, two hundred and eighteen years, is the only cer- 
tain date according to Koppen, p. 20S, and despite much argument since he wrote, the 
remark still holds. 

^ Englished by Rhys Davids, Mahaparinibbdna-sutta (SBE. xi. 95 ff.). 


now, brother, and call Ananda in my name and say, 'Brother 
Ananda, thy Master calls for thee.'" "Even so, Lord," said 
that brother, and he went up to where Ananda was, and said to 
the venerable Ananda: "Brother Ananda, thy Master calls for 
thee." "It is well, brother," said the venerable Ananda, and 
he went to the place where Buddha was. And when he was 
come thither he bowed down before the Blessed One, and took 
his seat on one side. Then the Blessed One said to the vener- 
able Ananda, as he sat there by his side : " Enough, Ananda, 
let not thyself be troubled ; weep not. Have I not told thee 
already that we must divide ourselves from all that is nearest 
and dearest .'' How can it be possible that a being born to die 
should not die 1 For a long time, Ananda, hast thou been very 
near to me by acts of love that is kind and good and never 
varies, and is beyond all measure. (This Buddha repeats three 
times.) Thou hast done well. Be earnest in effort. Thou, too, 
shalt soon be free." . . . When he had thus spoken, the vener- 
able Ananda said to the Blessed One: "Let not the Blessed 
One die in this little wattle and daub town, a town in the midst 
of the jungle, in this branch township. For, Lord, there are 
other great cities such as Benares (and others). Let the 
Blessed One die in one of them." ' 

This request is refused by Buddha. Ananda then goes to 
the tow^n and tells the citizens that Buddha is dying. ' Now, 
when they had heard this saying, they, with their young men 
and maidens and wives were grieved, and sad, and afflicted at 
heart. And some of them wept, dishevelling their hair, and' 
stretched forth their arms, and wept, fell prostrate on the 
ground and rolled to and fro, in anguish at the thought " Too 
soon will the Blessed One die ! Too soon will the Happy One 
pass away ! Full soon will the Light of the world vanish 
away ! " ' . . . When Buddha is alone again with his disci- 
ples, 'then the Blessed One addressed the brethren and said 
" It may be, brethren, that there may be doubt or misgiving in 



the mind of some brother as to the Buddha, the truth, the path 
or the way. Inquire, brethren, freely. Do noi have to re- 
proach yourselves afterwards with this thought: 'Our Teacher 
was face to face with us, and we could not bring ourselves to 
inquire of the Blessed One when we were face to face with 
him.' " And when he had thus spoken they sat silent. Then 
(after repeating these words and receiving no reply) the 
Blessed One addressed the brethren and said, " It may be that 
you put no questions out of reverence for the Teacher. Let 
one friend communicate with another."' And when he had 
thus spoken the brethren sat silent. And the venerable 
Ananda said: "How wonderful a thing, Lord, and how mar- 
vellous. Verily, in this whole assembly, there is not one 
brother who has doubt or misgiving as to Buddha, the truth, 
the path or the way." Then Buddha said: "It is out of the 
fullness of thy faith that thou hast spoken, Ananda. But I 
know it for certain." . . . Then the Blessed One addressed 
the brethren saying: "Behold, brethren, I exhort you saying, 
transitory are all component things ; toil without ceasing." 
And these were the last words of Buddha.' 

It is necessary here to make pause for a moment and survey 
the temporal and geographical circumstances of Buddha's life. 
His lifetime covered the period of greatest intellectual growth 
in Athens. If, as some think, the great book of doubt ^ was 
written by the Hebrew in 450, there would be in three lands, 
at least, about the same time the same earnestly scornful 
skepticism in regard to the worn-out teachings of the fathers. 
But at a time when, in Greece, the greatest minds were still 
veiling infidelity as best they could, in India atheism was 
already formulated. 

It has been questioned, and the question has been answered 
both affirmatively and negatively, whether the climatic con- 
ditions of Buddha's home were in part responsible for the 

1 Ecclcsiastes. 


pessimistic tone of his philosophy. If one compare the geo- 
graphical relation of Buddhism to Brahmanism and to Vedism 
respectively with a more familiar geography nearer home, he 
will be better able to judge in how far these conditions may 
have influenced the mental and relig^ious tone. Takine: Kabul 
and Kashmeer as the northern limit of the period of the Rig 
Veda, there are three geographical centres. The latitude of 
the Vedic poets corresponds to about the southern boundary of 
Tennessee and North Carolina. The entire tract covered by 
the southern migration to the time of Buddhism, extending 
from Kabul to a point that corresponds to Benares (35° is a 
little north of Kabul and 25° is a little south of Behar), would 
be represented loosely in the United States by the difference 
between the northern line of Mississippi and Key West. The 
extent of Georgia about represents in latitude the Vedic prov- 
ince (35° to 30°), while Florida (30° to 25^) roughly shows the 
southern progress from the seat of old Brahmanism to the cradle 
of young Buddhism. These are the extreme limits of Vedism, 
Brahmanism and proto-Buddhisra. South of this the country 
was known to Brahmanism only to be called savage, and not 
before the late Sutras (c. 300 b.c.) is one brought as far south 
as Bombav in the West. The Aitareva Brahmana. which 
represents the old centre of Brahmanism around Delhi, 
knows of the Andhras, south of the Godavarl river in the 
southeast (about the latitude of Bombay and Hayti), only as 
outer ^Barbarians.' It is quite conceivable that a race of hardy 
mountaineers, in shifting their home through generations from 
the hills of Georgia and Tennessee to the sub-tropical region 
of Key \\'est (to Cuba), in the course of many centuries might 
become morallv affected. But it seems to us, althouo-h the 
miasmatic plains of Bengal may perhaps present even a sharper 
contrast to the Vedic region than do Key West and Cuba to 
Georgia, that the climate in effecting a moral degradation (if 
pessimism be immoral) must have produced also the effect of 


mental debility. Now to our mind there is not the slightest 
proof for the asseveration, which has been repeated so often 
that it is accepted by many nowadays as a truism, that 
Buddhism or even post-Buddhistic literature shows any trace 
of mental decay. ^ There certainly is mental weakness in the 
Brahmanas, but these cannot all be accredited to the miasms 
of Bengal. They are the bones of a religion already dead, 
kept for instruction in a cabinet ; dry, dusty, lifeless, but awful 
to the beholder and useful to the owner. Again, does Bud- 
dhism lose in the comparison from an intellectual point of 
view when set beside the mazy gropings of the Upanishads 1 
We have shown that dogma was the base of primal pantheism ; 
of real logic there is not a whit. We admire the spirit of the 
teachers in the Upanishads, but we have very little respect for 
the logical ability of any early Hindu teachers; that is to say, 
there is very little of it to admire. The doctors of the Upani- 
shad philosophy were poets, not dialecticians. Poetry indeed 
waned in the extreme south, and no spirited or powerful litera- 
ture ever was produced there, unless it was due to foreign 
influence, such as the religious poetry of Ramaism and the 
Tamil Sitta?-s. But in secondary subtlety and in the marking of 
distinctions, in classifying and analyzing on dogmatic premises, 
as well as in the acceptance of hearsay truths as ultimate 
verities — we do not see any fundamental disparity in these 
rerards between the mind of the Northwest and that of the 
Southeast ; and what superficial difference exists goes to the 
credit of Buddhism. For if one must have dogma it is something 
to have system, and while precedent theosophy was based on 
the former it knew nothing of the latter. Moreover, in Bud- 
dhism there is a greater intellectual vigor than in any phase of 

' The common view is thus expressed by Oldenberg: " In dem schwiilen, feuchten, 
von der Natur mit Reichthiimern uppig gesegneten Tropenlande des Ganges hat das 
Volk. das in frischer Jugendkraft steht, als es vom Norden her eindringt, bald aufge- 
hort jung und stark zu sein. Menschen und Volker reifen in jenem Lande . . • 
schnell heran, um ebenso schnell an Leib und Seele zu erschlaffen " {loc, cit. p. ii). 


Brahmanism (as distinct from Vedism). To cast off not only 
gods but soul, and more, to deny the moral efficacy of asceti- 
cism, this was a leap into the void, to appreciate the daring of 
which one has but to read himself into the priestly literature of 
Buddha's rivals, both heterodox and orthodox. We see then 
in Buddhism neither a debauched moral type, nor a weakened 
intellectuality. The pessimism of Buddhism, so far as it con- 
cerns earth, is not only the same pessimism that underlies the 
religious motive qf Brahmanic pantheism, but it is the same 
pessimism that pervades Christianity and even Hebraism. 
This world is a sorry place, living is suffering ; do thou escape 
from it. The pleasures of life are vanity ; do thou renounce 
them. ''To die is gain," says the apostle; and the Preacher: 
" I have seen all the works that are done under the sun and 
behold all is vanity and vexation of spirit. He that increaseth 
knowleds^e increaseth sorrow. For what hath man of all his 
labor and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured 
under the sun ? For all his days are sorrows and his travail 
grief. That which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts ; 
even one thing befalleth them : as the one dieth so dieth 
the other ; yea, they have all one breath ; so that a man 
hath no preeminence above a beast : for all is vanity. All go 
unto one place ; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. 
Who knoweth the spirit of man whether it goeth upward? I 
praised the dead which are already dead more than the living 
which are yet alive. The dead know not anything, their love 
and their hatred and their envy is now perished ; neither have 
they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under 
the sun. The wandering of the desire, this also is vanity." 

The Preacher is a fairly good Buddhist. 

If pessimism be the conviction that life on earth is not worth 
living, this view is shared alike by the greatest of earth's 
religions. If pessimism be the view that all beauty ends with 
life and that bevond it there is nothins: for which it is worth 


while to live, then India has no parallel to this Homeric belief. 
If, however, pessimism mean that to have done with existence 
on earth is the best that can happen to a man, but that there 
is bliss be3'ond, then this is the opinion of Brahmanism, 
Jainism, and Christianity. Buddhism alone teaches that to 
live on earth is weariness, that there is no bliss beyond, and 
that one should yet be calm, pure, loving, and wise. 

How could such a religion inspire enthusiasm ? How could 
it send forth jubilant disciples to preach the gospel of joy.? 
Yet did Buddhism do even this. Not less happy and blissful 
than were they that received the first comfort of pantheism 
were the apostles of Buddha. His progress was a triumph of 
gladness. They that believed in him rejoiced and hastened 
to their fellows with the good tidings. Was it then a new 
morality, a new ethical code, that thus inspired them.? Let 
one but look at the vows and commandments respectively 
taken by and given to the Buddhist monk, and he will see 
that in Buddhism there is no new morality. 

The Ten Vows are as follows : 

I take the vow not to kill ; not to steal ; to abstain from impurity ; not 
to lie ; to abstain from intoxicating drinks which hinder progress and 
virtue ; not to eat at forbidden times ; to abstain from dancing, singing, 
music and stage plays ; not to use garlands, scenfs', unguents, or ornaments ; 
not to use a high or broad bed ; not to receive gold or silver. 

The Eight Commandments are as follows : 

Do not kill ; do not steal ; do not lie ; do not drink intoxicating drinks; 
do not commit fornication or adultery ; do not eat unseasonable food at 
night ; do not wear garlands or use perfumes ; sleep on a mat spread on 
the ground. 

The first five of these commands are given to every Buddhist, 

monk, or layman; the last three are binding only on the monk.-^ 

These laws and rules were, however, as we have indicated in 

1 Rhys Davids, Buddhism^ pp. i6o, 139. 



the chapter on Jainism, the common property, with some unim- 
portant variations and exceptions, of the Brahman ascetic, the 
Jain, and the Buddhist. There was surely nothing here to 
rouse especial interest. No. But there was one side of Bud- 
dhism that was new, not absolutely new, for it formed part of 
the moral possession of that early band which we may call the 
congregation of the Spirit. The Brahman theoretically had 
done away with penance and with prayer, with the Vedic gods 
and with the Vedic rites. Yet was it impossible for him prac- 
tically to absolve the folk of these. The priest might admit 
that he knew a better way to salvation, but he still led the 
people over the hard old road, and he himself went that way 
also, because it was the way of the fathers, because it was the 
only way for them that were unwise, and perhaps, too, because 
it was the only way in which the priest could keep his place as 
guide and leader of the people. 

Jainism smote down some of the obstacles that the Brahman 
had built and kept. Mahavira made the way to salvation 
shorter, but he did not make it easier for the masses. Asceti- 
cism, self-miortification, starvation, torture, — this was his 
means of gaining happiness hereafter. 

But Buddha cut down all obstacles. He made the lowest 
equal with the highest. It is true that he was no democrat. 
It is true that his success depended, in great part, on political 
influence, on the conversion of kings and nobles, men of his 
own class. It is true also that Buddha at hrst, like every other 
Hindu theosophist, sought no salvation for the world around 
him, but only for himself. But he was moved with pity for the 
multitude. And why? The sages among them knew no path 
to happiness save through life-long torture ; the common peo- 
ple knew only a religion of rites in which they took no interest, 
the very words of which were unintelligible ; and its priests in 
their eyes, if not contemptible, at least were unsympathetic. 
And at the same time the old caste-system oppressed and in- 


suited them. It is evident that the times were ripe for a more 
humane religion and a new distribution of social privileges. 

Then Buddha arose and said: "He that is pure in heart is 
the true priest, not he that knows the Veda. Like unto one 
that standeth where a king hath stood and spoken, and stand- 
ing and speaking there deems himself for this a king, seems 
to me the man that repeateth the hymns, which the wise men 
of old have spoken, and standing in their place and speaking, 
deems himself for this a sage. The Vedas are nothing, the 
priests are of no account, save as they be morally of repute. 
Again, what use to mortify the flesh ,'' Asceticism is of no 
value. Be pure, be good ; this is the foundation of wisdom — 
to restrain desire, to be satisfied with little. He is a holy man 
who doeth this. Knowledge follows this." 

Here is the essence of Buddhism, here is its power ; and 
when one reflects that Buddha added: "Go into all lands and 
preach this gospel ; tell them that the poor and lowly, the rich 
and high, are all one, and that all castes unite in this religion, 
as unite the rivers in the sea" — he will understand what key 
was used to open the hearts of Buddha's kinsmen and people. 

But, it will be said, there is nothing in this of that extreme 
pessimism, of which mention has just been made. True. And 
this, again, is an important point to bear in mind, that whereas 
the logic of his own system led Buddha into a formal and com- 
plete pessimism, which denies an after-life to the man that 
finds no happiness in this, he yet never insists upon this. He 
not only does not insist, but in his talks with his questioners and 
disciples he uses all means to evade direct inquiry in regard to 
the fate of man after death. He believed that Nirvana (extinc- 
tion of lust) led to cessation of being; he did not believe in 
an immortal soul. But he urged no such negative doctrine 
as this. What he urged repeatedly was that every one accept- 
ing the undisputed doctrine of ka?'ma or re-birth in its full ex- 
tent {i.e., that for every sin here, punishment followed in the 


next existence), should endeavor to escape, if possible, from 
such an endless course of painful re-births, and that to accom- 
plish this it was necessary first to be sober and good, then to 
be learned, but not to be an ascetic. On the other hand the 
doctrine, in its logical fullness, was a teaching only for the wise, 
not for fools. He imparted it only to the wise. What is one 
to understand from this ? Clearly, that Bud-dha regarded the 
mass of his disciples as standing in need merely of the Four 
Great Truths, the confession of vvhrch was the sign of be- 
coming a disciple ; while to the strong and wise he reserved 
the logical pessimism, which resulted from his first denials and 
the premises of causality on which was erected his compli- 
cated system. Only thus can one comprehend the importance 
of Buddhism to his own time and people, only in this light 
reconcile the discrepancy between the accounts of a religion 
which roused multitudes to enthusiasm and joy, while on the 
other hand it stood on the cold basis of complete nihilism. 
Formally there was not an esoteric ^ and exoteric Buddhism, 
but practically what the apostles taught, what Buddha himself 
taught to the mass of his hearers was a release from the bond- 
age of the law and the freedom of a high moral code as the 
one thing needful. But he never taught that sacrifice was a 
bad thing ; he never either took the priest's place himself or 
cast scorn upon the Brahman caste : " Better even than a 
harmless - sacrifice is liberality " he says, " better than liberal- 
ity is faith and kindness (non-injury) and truth, better than 
faith, kindness, and truth is renunciation of the world and the 
search for peace ; best of all, the highest sacrifice and greatest 
good, is when one enters Nirvana, saying " I shall not return 
again to earth." This is to be an Arhat (Perfect Sage). 

1 Buddha taught, of course, nothing related to the thaumaturgy of that folly which 
calls itself to-day ' Esoteric Buddhism.' 

2 That is a sacrifice where no cattle are slain, and no injury is done to living 




These are Buddha's own words as he spoke with a Brahman 
priest,^ who was converted thereby and replied at once with 
the Buddhist's confession of faith : " I take refuge in Buddha, 
in the doctrine, in the church." 

A significant conversation ! In many ways these words 
should be corrective of much that is hazarded today in regard 
to Buddhism. There is here no elaborate system of meta- 
physics. Wisdom consists in the truth as it is in Buddha ; 
and before truth stand, as antecedently essential, faith and 
kindness ; for so may one render the passive non-injury of the 
Brahman as taught by the Buddhist. To have faith and good 
works, to renounce the pomps and vanities of life, to show 
kindness to every living thing, to seek for salvation, to under- 
stand, and so finally to leave no second self behind to suffer 
again, this is Buddha's doctrine. 

We have avoided thus far to define Nirvana. It has three 
distinct meanings, eternal blissful repose (such was the Nir- / 
vana of the Jains and in part of Buddhism), extinction and 
absolute annihilation (such was the Nirvana of some Bud- 
dhists), and the Nirvana of Buddha himself. Nirvana meant 
to Buddha the extinction of lust, anger, and ignorance. He 
adopted the term, he did not invent it. He was often ques- 
tioned, but persistently refused to say whether he believed 
that Nirvana implied extinction of being or not. We believe that 
in this refusal to speak on so vital a point lies the evidence 
that he himself regarded the ' extinction ' or ' blowing out ' (this 
is what the word means literally) as resulting in annihilation. 
Had he believed otherwise we think he would not have hesi- 
tated to say so, for it would have strengthened his influence 
among them to w^hom annihilation was not a pleasing thought. 

But one has no right to ' go behind the returns ' as these are 
given by Buddha. The later church says distinctly that Buddha 
himself did not teach whether he himself, his ego, was to live 

1 Kutadania-szitta, Oldenberg, Buddha^ p. 175. 


after death or not ; or whether a permanent &go exists. It is 
useless, therefore, to inquire whether Buddha's Nirvana be a 
completion, as Midler defines it, or annihilation. To one 
Buddhistic party it was the one ; to the other, the other ; to 
Buddha himself it was what may be inferred from his refusal 
to make any declaration in regard to it. 

The second point of interest is not more easily disposed of. 
What to the Buddhist is the spirit, the soul of man t It cer- 
tainly is not an eternal spirit, such as was the spirit of Brah- 
manic philosophy, or that of the Jain. But, on the other hand, 
it is clear that something survived after death till one was 
reborn for the last time, and then entered Nirvana. The 
part that animates the material complex is to the Buddhist an 
individuality which depends on the nature of its former com- 
plex, home, and is destined to project itself upon futurity till 
the house which it has built ceases to exist, a home rebuilt no 
more to be its tabernacle. When a man dies the component 
parts of his material personality fall apart, and a new complex 
is formed, of which the individuality is the effect of the kai-ma 
of the preceding complex. The new person is one's karmic 
self, but it is not one's identical ego. There appears, therefore, 
even in the doctrine of Nirvana, to lie something of that altruism 
so conspicuous in the insistence on kindness and conversion of 
others. It is to save from sorrow this son of one's acts that 
one should seek to find the end. But there is no soul to 

We cannot insist too often on the fact that the religion of 
Buddha was not less practical than human. He practiced, as 
he taught, that the more one worked for others, was devoted to 
others, the less he cared for himself, the less was he the victim 
of desire. Hence he says that a true Nirvana may come even 
in one's own lifetime — the utter surrender of one's self is 
Nirvana,^ while the act of dying only draws the curtain after 

1 Sometimes distinguished ixom pari-ntrvd7ia as absolute annihilation. 


the tragedy has ended. "Except," Buddha says, "for birth, 
age, and death, there would be no need of Buddha.'' 

A review of Buddha's system of metaphysics is, therefore, 
doubly unnecessary for our present purpose.-^ In the first 
place we believe that most of the categories and metaphysical 
niceties of Buddhism, as handed down, are of secondary origin ; 
and, were this not so, it is still evident that they were but the 
unimportant, intellectual appendage of a religion that was based 
on anything but metaphysical subtleties. Buddha, like every 
other teacher of his time, had to have a 'system,' though 
whether the system handed down as his reverts to him it is 
impossible to say. But Buddha's recondite doctrine was only 
for the wise. " It is hard to learn for an ordinary person," says 
Buddha himself. But it was the ordinary person that Buddhism 
took to its bosom. The reason can be only the one we have 
given. For the last stage before Arhat-ship Buddha had 
ready a complicate system. But he did not inflict it on the 
ordinary person.^ It was not an essential but the completing 
of his teaching ; in his own eyes truth as represented by the 
Four Great Truths was the real doctrine. 

The religion of Buddha, for the mass of people, lies 
in the Four Great Truths and their practical application to 
others, which implies kindness and love of humanity. For 
Buddha, whatever may have been the reluctance with which he 


Ci'Some scholars think that the doctrine of Buddha resembles closely that of the 
Sankhya philosophy (so Barth, p. ii6), but Miiller, Oldenberg, and others, appear to 
be right in denying this. The Sankhyan ' spirit ' has, for instance, nothing correspond- 
ing to it in Buddha's system. 

- The twelve Nidanas are dogmatic, and withal not very logical. " From ignorance 
arise forms, from forms arises consciousness, from consciousness arise name and bodi- 
ness; from name and bodiness arise the six senses (including understanding as the 
sixtK) and their objects ; from these arises contact ; from this, feeling ; from this, 
thirst ; from this, clinging ; from clinging arises becoming ; from becoming arises 
birth; from birth arise age and sorrow."' One must gradually free himself from the 
ten fetters that bind to life, and so do away with the first of these twelve Nidanas, 
ignorance. . 


began to preach, shows in all his teachings and dealings with 
men an enduring patience under their rebuffs, a brotherly sym- 
pathy with their weakness, and a divine pity for their sorrows. 
Something, too, of divine anger with the pettiness and mean- 
ness of the unworthy ones among his followers, as when, after 
preaching with parable and exhortation to the wrangling 
brothers of the monastery of Kosambi, he left them, saying, 
" ' Truly these fools are infatuate ; it is no easy task to admin- 
ister instruction to them,' and,"' it is added simply, " he rose 
from his seat and went away^" -^ 

The significance of the church organization in the develop- 
ment of Buddhism should not be under-estimated. Contrasted 
with the lack of an organized ecclesiastical corporation among 
the Brahmans the Buddhistic synod, or congregation, Sangha, 
exerted a great influence. In different places there would be 
a park set apart for the Buddhist monks. Here they had their 
monastery buildings, here they lived during the rainy season, 
from this place out as a centre the monks radiated through the 
country, not as lone mendicants, but as members of a power- 
ful fraternity. To this monastery came gifts, receipts of all 
kinds that never would have been bestowed upon individuals. 
Undoubtedly organization did much for the spread of Buddhism. 
Yet we think its influence has been emphasized almost too 
much by some scholars, or rather the effect has been repre- 
sented as too radical. For the monasteries, as represented by 
tradition, with their immense wealth and political importance 
as allies of the heretical kings of the East, are plainly of sec- 
ondary growth. If one limit their national and political impor- 
tance to a period one or two hundred years after the Master's 
time, he will not err in attributing to this cause, as does Barth^ 
the reason for the rapid rise and supremacy of Buddhism over 
India. But the first beginnings of the institution were small, 
and what is to be sought in the beginning of Buddhism is rather 

1 Mahavagga, x. 3 (SBE. xvii. 306). 


the reason why the monasteries became popular, and what was 
the hold which Buddha had upon the masses, and which 
induced the formation of this great engine of religious war. 
And when this first question is raised the answer must still be 
that the banding together of the monks was not the cause but 
the effect of the popularity of Buddhism. The first monas' 
teries, as Barth well says, were only assemblies of pious men 
who formed a spiritual band of religious thinkers, of men who 
united themselves into one body to the end that they might 
study righteousness, learning together how to imitate the 
Master in holiness of living. But the members converted soon 
became so many that formal assemblies became a necessity to 
settle the practical disputes and theoretical questions which 
were raised by the new multitude of believers, some of whom 
were more factious than devout. Brahmanism had no need of 
this. The Brahman priest had his law in tradition ; his life and 
conduct were regulated by immemorial law. The corporations 
-^ of these priests were but temporary organizations for specific 
^ ^purposes. They made no attempt to proselytize. Their mem- 
bers never exceeded the bounds of the caste. The cause, 
then, of the rapid spread of Buddhism at the beginning of its 
career lies only in the conditions of its teaching and the influ- 
ential backing of its founder. It was the individual Buddha 
that captivated men ; it was the teaching that emanated from 
him that fired enthusiasm ; it was his position as an aristocrat 
that made him acceptable to the aristocracy, his magnetism 
that made him the idol of the people. From every page 
stands out the strong, attractive personality of this teacher and 
winner of hearts. No man ever lived so godless yet so godlike. 
Anogating to himself no divinity, despairing of future bliss, but 
without fear as without hope, leader of thought but despising 
lovingly the folly of the world, exalted but adored, the universal 
brother, he wandered among men, simply, serenely ; with gentle 
irony subduing them that opposed him, to congregation after 


congregation speaking with majestic sweetness, the master to 
each, the friend of all. His voice was singularly vibrant and elo- 
quent ; ^ his very tones convinced the hearer, his looks inspired 
awe. From the tradition it appears that he must have been 
one of those whose personality alone suffices to make a man 
not only a leader but a god to the hearts of his fellows. When 
such an one speaks he obtains hearers. It matters little what 
he says, for he influences the emotions, and bends whoever 
listens to his will. But if added to this personality, if encom- 
passing it, there be the feeling in the minds of others that what 
this man teaches is not only a verity, but the very hope of 
their salvation ; if for the first time they recognize in his words 
the truth that makes of slaves free men, of classes a brother- 
hood, then it is not difficult to see wherein lies the lightning- 
like speed with which the electric current passes from heart to 
heart. Such a man was Buddha, such was the essential of his 
teaching ; and such was the inevitable rapidity of Buddhistic 
expansion, and the profound influence of the shock that was 
produced by the new faith upon the moral consciousness of 
Buddha's people. 

The literature of earlv Buddhism consists of a number of 
historical works embodying the life and teaching of the master, 
some of more didactic and epigrammatic intent, and, in the 
writings of the Northern Buddhists, some that have given up 
the verbose simplicity of the first tracts in favor of tasteless 
and extravagant recitals more stagey than impressive. The 
final collection of the sacred books (earlier is the Suttanta 
division into Nikayas) is called Tripitaka, ' the three baskets,' 
one containing the tracts on discipline ; one, the talks of 
Buddha ; and one, partly metaphysical ; called respectively 
Vinaya, Sutta, and Abhidhamma. The Southern ^ Pali 

1 Compare Kern, the Lotus, iii. 21, and Fausboll, Parayana-sttita, 9 (i 131), the 
"deep and lovely voice of Buddha." (SBE. xxi. 64, and x. 210.) 

" As Southern Buddhists are reckoned those of Ceylon, Burmah, Siam, etc. 



redaction — for the writings of the Northern ^ Buddhists 
are in Sanskrit -^ — was commented upon in the fifth cen- 
tury of this era by Buddha-gosha (' Buddha's glory '), and ap- 
pears to be older than the Sanskrit version of Nepal. Some 
of the writings go back as far as the Second Council, and their 
content, so far as it concerns Buddha's own words, in many 
cases is doubtless a tradition that one should accept as author- 
itative. The works on discipline, instead of being as dull as 
one might reasonably expect of books that deal with the petty 
details of a monastery, are of exceeding interest (although 
whole chapters conform to the reasonable expectation), for 
they contain fragments of the work and words of Buddha 
which give a clearer idea of his personality and teaching than 
do his more extended and perhaps less original discourses. 
They throw a strong light also on the early church, its recalci- 
trant as well as its obedient members, the quarrels and schisms 
that appear to have arisen even before Buddha's death. Thus 
in the Mahdvagga (ch. x) there is found an account of the 
schism caused by the expulsion of some unworthy members. 
The brethren are not only schismatic, some taking the side of 
those expelled, but they are even insolent to Buddha ; and 
when he entreats them for the sake of the effect on the outer 
world to heal their differences,^ they tell him to his face that 
they will take the responsibility, and that he need not concern 
himself with the matter. It is on this occasion that Buddha 
says, "Truly, these fools are infatuate," leaves them, and goes 
into solitude, rejoicing to be free from souls so quarrelsome 
and contentious. Again these tracts give a picture of how they 
should live that are truly Buddha's disciples. Buddha finds 
three disciples living in perfect harmony, and asks them how 

1 As Northern Buddhists are reckoned those of Nepal, Tibet, China, Corea, 
Japan, Java, Sumatra, Annam, and Cambodia. 

2 '• Let your light so shine before the world, that you, having embraced the religious 
life according to so well-taught a doctrine and discipline, may be seen to be forbear- 
ing and mild." (SEE. xvii. 305, David's and Oldenberg's translation.) 


they live together so peaceably and lovingly. In quaint and 
yet dignified language they reply, and tell him that they serve 
each other. He that rises first prepares the meal, he that 
returns last at night puts the room in order, etc. {ib. 4). Occa- 
sionally in the account of unruly brothers it is evident that 
tradition must be anticipating, or that many joined the Bud- 
dhist fraternity as an excuse from restraint. The Cullavagga 
opens with the story of two notorious renegades, ' makers of 
strife, quarrelsome, makers of dispute, given to idle talk, and 
raisers of legal questions in the congregation.' Such were the 
infamous followers of Panduka and Lohitaka. Of a different 
sort. Epicurean or rather frivolous, were the adherents of 
Assaji and Punabbasu, who, according to another chapter of 
the Cullavagga (i. 13), 'cut fiowers, planted cuttings of flowers, 
used ointment and scents, danced, wore garlands, and revelled 
wickedly.' A list of the amusements in which indulged these 
flighty monks includes ' games played with six and ten pieces, 
tossing up, hopping over diagrams, dice, jackstraws,^ ball, 
sketching, racing, marbles, wrestling,' etc.; to which a like list 
{Tevijja^ ii) adds chess or checkers ('playing with a board of 
sixty-four squares or one hundred squares '), ghost stories, and 
unseemly wrangling in regard to belief ("I am orthodox, you 
are heterodox "), earning a living by prognostication, by taking 
omens ' from a mirror ' or otherwise, by quack medicines, and 
by 'pretending to understand the language of beasts.' It is 
gratifying to learn that the scented offenders described in the 
first-mentioned work were banished from the order. According 
to the regular procedure, they were first warned, then reminded, 
then charged ; then the matter was laid before the congrega- 
tion, and they were obliged to leave the order. Even the 
detail of Subhadda's insolence is not wanting in these records 
{CuU. xi. I. and elsewhere). No sooner was Buddha dead than 

1 ' Removing pieces from a pile without moving the remainder ' must, we presume, 
be jackstraws. 


the traitor Subhadda cries out : " We are well rid of him ; he 
gave us too many rules. Now we may do as we like." On 
which the assembly proceeded to declare in force all the rules 
that Euddha had given, although he had left it to them to dis- 
card them when they would. The Confessional (Patimokkha), 
out of which have been evolved in narrative form the Vinaya 
texts that contain it, concerns graded offences, matters of 
expiation, rules regarding decency, directions concerning robes, 
rugs, bowls, and other rather uninteresting topics, all discussed 
in the form of a confession.^ The church-reader goes over the 
rules in the presence of the congregation, and asks at the end 
of each section whether any one is guilty of having broken this 
rule. If at the third repetition no one responds, he says, ' They 
are declared innocent by their silence.' This was the first 
public confessional, although, as we have shown above, the 
idea of a partial remission of sin by means of confession to 
the priest is found in Brahmanic literature." The confession 
extends to very small matters, but one sees from other texts 
that the earlv cono^regation laid a great deal of weight on 
details, such as dress, as the sign of a sober life. Thus in 
Mahdvagga^ v. 2 il., certain Buddhists dress in a worldly way. 
At one time one is informed of the color of their heretical slip- 
pers, at another of the make of their wicked gowns. All this 
is monastic, even in the discipline which 'sets back' a badly 
behaved monk, gives him probation, forces him to be subordi- 
nate. In Ciilhuagga^ i. 9, there is an account of stupid Sey- 
yasaka, who was dull and indiscreet, and was always getting 
'set back' by the brethren. Finally they grow weary of pro- 
bating him and carry out the nissaya against him, obliging him 

1 For instance, rules for eating, drinking (liquor), and for bathing. The Buddhist 
monk, except in summer, bathed once a fortnight only. 

- No one is so holy that sin does not hurt him, according to Buddhistic belief. 
The Brahman, on the contrary, was liable to become so holy that he could commit 
any sin and it did not affect his virtue, which he stored up in a heap by cumulative 


to remain under the superintendence of others. For, according 
to Buddha's rule, a wise novice was kept under surveillance, 
or rather under the authority of others, for live years ; a stupid 
uninformed monk, forever. Buddha's relations with society 
are plainly set forth. One reads how his devoted friend, King 
Seniya Bimbisara, four years younger than Buddha, and his 
protector (for he was King of Magadha), gives him a park, 
perhaps the first donation of this sort, the origin of all the 
monastic foundations : " The King of Magadha, Bimbisara, 
thought "here is this bamboo forest Veluvana, my pleasure- 
garden, which is neither too near to the town nor too far from 
it. . . . \Miat if I were to give it to the fraternity ? ' . . . 
And he took a golden vessel (of water) and dedicated the gar- 
den to Buddha, saying, ' I give up the park to the fraternity 
with Buddha at its head.' And the Blessed One accepted the 
park" (^Mahdvagga, i. 22).^ Another such park Buddha ac- 
cepts from the courtezan, Ambapali, whose conversation with 
Buddha and dinner-party to him forms a favorite story with 
the monks {JMahai'. v. 30 ; Cull. ii). The protection offered 
by Bimbisara made the order a fine retreat for rogues. In 
Mahav. i. 41 ff. one reads that King Seniya Bimbisara made 
a decree : " No one is .to do any harm to those ordained 
among the Cakya-son's monks. ^ Well taught is their doctrine. 
Let them lead a holy life for the sake of complete extinction of 
suffering." But robbers and runaway slaves immediately took 
advantage of this decree, and by joining the order put the 
pwlice at defiance. Even debtors escaped, became monks, 
and mocked their creditors. Buddha, therefore, made it a 
rule that no robber, runaway slave, or other person liable to 
arrest should be admitted into the order. He ordained further 

1 The offering and reception of gifts is always accompanied with water, both in 
Buddhistic and Brahmanic circles. Whether this was a religious act or a legal sign 
of surrender we have not been able to discover. Perhaps it arose simply from water 
always being offered as refreshment to a guest (with fruit), as a sign of guest-friend- 
ship. - Sakyaputtiya Samanas, i.e., Buddhists. 


that no son might join the order without his parents' consent 
{lb. 54j. Still another motive of false disciples had to be com- 
bated. The parents of Upali thought to themselves : "What 
shall we teach Upali that he may earn his living? If we teach 
him writing his fingers will be sore ; if we teach him arithmetic 
his mind will be sore ; if we teach him money-changing his 
eyes will be sore. There are those Buddhist monks ; they live 
an easy life ; they have enough to eat and shelter from the 
rain ; we will make him a monk." Buddha, hearing of this, 
ordained that no one should be admitted into the order under 
twenty (with some exceptions). 

The monks' lives were simple. They went out by day to 
beg, were locked in their cells at night {Mahdv. i. <^Ty^^ were 
probated for light offences, and expelled for very severe ones.^ 
The people are represented as murmuring against the practices 
of the monks at first, till the latter were brought to more 
modest behavior. It is perhaps only Buddhist animosity that 
makes the narrator say: "They did not behave modestly at 
table. . . . Then the people murmured and said, ' These 
Buddhist monks make a riot at their meals, /hey act Just like 
the Bra/wian priests.' " {Mahdv. i. 25 ; cf. i. 70.) 

We turn from the Discipline to the Sermons. Here one finds 
everything, from moral exhortations to a book of Revelations.^ 
pjuddha sometimes is represented as entering upon a dramatic 
dialogue with those whom he wishes to reform, and the talk is 
narrated. With what soft irony he questions, with what 
apparent simplicity he argues ! In the Tevijja^ the scene opens 
with a young Brahman. He is a pious and religious youth, 

1 In the case of a monk having carnal connection with a nun the penalty was 
instant expulsion 'ib. 60). The nuns were subject to the monks and kept strictly in 
hand, obliged always to greet the monks first, to go to lessons once a fortnight, and 
so forth. 

2 Mahasudassana, the great King of Glory whose city is described with its four 
gates, one of gold, one of silver, one of jade and one of crystal, etc. The earlier 
Buddha had as ' king of glory' S4.000 wives and other comforts quite as remarkable. 

'^ Translated by Davids, Buddhist Suttas and Hibbert Lectures. 


and tells Buddha that although he yearns for ' union with 
Brahma,'^ he does not know which of the different paths 
proposed by Brahman priests lead to Brahma. Do they all 
lead to union with Brahma ? Buddha answers : ' Let us see ; 
has any one of these Brahmans ever seen Brahma?' 'No, 
indeed, Gautama.' 'Or did any one of their ancestors 
ever see Brahma?' 'No, Gautama.' 'Well, did the most 
ancient seers ever say that they knew where is Brahma?' 
'No, Gautama.' 'Then if neither the present Brahmans know, 
nor the old Brahmans knew where is Brahma, the present 
Brahmans say in point of fact, "We can show the way to union 
with what we know not and have never seen ; this is the 
straight path, this is the direct way which leads to Brahma" — 
and is this foolish talk?' 'It is foolish talk.' 'Then, as to 
yearning for union with Brahma, suppose a man should say, 
" How I long for, how I love the most beautiful woman in this 
land," and the people should ask, "Do you know whether that 
beautiful woman is a noble lady, or a Brahman woman, or of 
the trader class, or a slave?" and he should say, "No"; and 
the people should say, "What is her name, is she tall or short, 
in what place does she live?" and he should say, "I know 
not," and the people should say, "Whom you know not, neither 
have seen, her you love and long for?" and he should say, 
"Yes," — would not that be foolish?' Then, after this is 
assented to, Buddha suggests another parallel. 'A man builds 
a staircase, and the people ask, "Do you know^ where is the 
mansion to which this staircase leads?" "I do not know." 
"Are vou makins: a staircase to lead to somethino;, takino- it for 
a mansion, which you know not and have never seen ? " "Yes." 
Would not this be foolish talk? . . . Now what think you, is 
Brahma in possession of wives and wealth?' 'He is not.' 

1 What we have several times had to call attention to is shown again by the side 
light of Buddhism to be the case in Brahmanic circles, namely, that even in Buddha's 
day while Brahma is the god of the thinkers Indra is the god of the people (together 
with Vishnu and (^iva, if the texts are as old as they pretend to be). 


'Is his mind full of anger or free from anger? Is his mind full 
of malice or free from malice?' 'Free from anger and malice.' 
'Is his mind depraved or pure?' 'Pure.' 'Has he self- 
mastery?' ,'Yes.' 'Now what think you, are the Brahmans in 
possession of wives and wealth, do they have anger in their 
hearts, do they bear malice, are they impure in heart, are they 
without self-mastery?' 'Yes.' 'Can there then be likeness 
between the Brahmans and Brahma?' 'No.' 'Will they then 
after death become united to Brahma who is not at all like 
them?' Then Buddha points out the path of purity and love. 
Here is no negative 'non-injury,' but something very different 
to anything that had been preached before in India. When 
the novice puts away hate, passion, wrong-doing, sinfulness of 
every kind, then : 'He lets his mind pervade the whole wide 
world, above, below, around and everywhere, with a heart of 
love, far-reaching, grown great, and beyond measure. And he 
lets his mind pervade the whole world with a heart of pity, 
sympathy, and equanimity, far-reaching, grown great, and 
beyond measure.' Buddha concludes (adopting for effect the 
Brahma of his convert) : 'That the monk who is free from 
anger, free from malice, pure in mind, and master of himself 
should after death, when the body is dissolved, become united 
to Brahma who is the same — such a condition of things is 
quite possible.' Here is no metaphysics, only a new religion 
based on morality and intense humanity, yet is the young man 
moved to say, speaking for himself and the friend wdth him : 
'Lord, excellent are the words of thy mouth. As if one were 
to bring a lamp into the darkness, just so, Lord, has the truth 
been made known to us in many a figure by the Blessed One. 
And we come to Buddha as our refuge, to the doctrine and to 
the church. May the Blessed One accept us as disciples, as 
true believers, from this day forth, as long as life endures.' 

The god Brahma of this dialogue is for the time being play- 
fully accepted by Buddha as the All-god. To the Buddhist 


himself Brahma and all the Vedic gods are not exactly non- 
existent, but they are dim figures that are more like demi-gods, 
fairies, or as some English scholars call them, 'angels.' 
Whether Buddha himself really believed in them, cannot be 
asserted or denied. This belief is attributed to him, and his 
church is ver}^ superstitious. Probably Buddha did not think 
it worth while to discuss the question. He neither knew nor 
cared whether cloud-beings existed. It was enough to deny 
a Creator, or to leave no place for him. Thaumaturgical 
powers are indeed credited to the earliest belief, but there cer- 
tainly is nothing in harmony with Buddha's usual attitude in 
the extraordinary discourse called Aka?ik/ieyya, wherein Buddha 
is represented as ascribing to monks miraculous powers, only 
hinted at in a vague * shaking of the earth ' in more sober 
speech.^ From the following let the ' Esoteric Buddhists ' of 
to-day take comfort, for it shows at least that they share an 
ancient folly, although Buddha can scarcely be held responsible 
for it : " If a monk should desire to become multiform, to 
become visible or invisible, to go through a wall, a fence, or a 
mountain as if through air ; to penetrate up or down through 
solid ground as if through water ... to traverse the sky, to 
touch the moon ... let him fulfil all righteousness, let him 
be devoted to that quietude of heart which springs from within 
. . . let him look through things, let him be much alone." 
That is to say, let him aim for the very tricks of the Yogis, 
which Buddha had discarded. Is there not here perhaps a 
little irony ? Buddha does not say that the monk will be able 
to do this — he says if the monk wishes to do this, let him be 
quiet and meditate and learn righteousness, then perhaps — 
but he will at least have learned righteousness ! 

The little tract called Cetokhila contains a sermon which has 
not lost entirely its usefulness or application, and it is charac- 
teristic of the way in which Buddha treated eschatological 

1 Mahafarmibbana iii, to which Rhys Davids refers, is scarcely a fair parallel. 


conundrums : ' If a brother has adopted the reUgious Hfe in 
the hope of belonging to some one of the angel (divine) hosts, 
thinking to himself, "by this morality or by this observance or 
by this austerity or by this religious life I shall become an 
angel," his mind does not incline to zeal, exertion, persever- 
ance and struggle, and he has not succeeded in his religious 
life ' (has not broken through the bonds). And, continuing, 
Buddha says that just as a hen might sit carefully brooding 
over her well- watched eggs, and might torment herself with the 
wish, ' O that this ^gg would let out the chick,' but all the time 
there is no need of this torment, for the chicks will hatch if 
she keeps watch and ward over them, so a man, if he does not 
think what is to be, but keeps watch and ward of his words, 
thoughts, and acts, will ' come forth into the light.' ^ 

The questions in regard to Buddha's view of soul, immortal- 
ity, and religion are answered to our mind as clearly in the 
following passages as Buddha desired they should be. ' Un- 
wisely does one consider : " Have I existed in ages past . . . 
shall I exist in ages yet to be, do I exist at all, am I, how am I ? 
This is a being, whence is it come, whither will it go ? " Con- 
sideration such as this is walking in the jungle of delusion. 
These are the things one should consider : " This is suffering, 
this is the origin of suffering, this is the cessation of suffering, 
this is the way that leads to the cessation of suffering." From 
him that considers thus his fetters fall away ' {Sabbasavd). In 
the Vangisa-siitta Buddha is asked directly : " Has this good 
man's life been vain to him, has he been extinguished, or is he 
still left with some elements of existence ; and how was he 
liberated ? " and he replies : " He has cut off desire for name 
and form in this world. He has crossed completely the stream 
of birth and death." In the Salla-siitta it is said : " Without 
cause and unknown is the life of mortals in this world, 

1 The imitation of the original play on words is Rhys Davids', who has translated 
these Suttas in SBE. vol. xi. For the following see Fausboll, ib, vol. x. 


troubled, brief, combined with pain. ... As earthen vessels 
made by the potter end in being broken, so is the life of mor- 
tals." One should compare the still stronger image, which 
gives the very name of nir-va7ia ('blowing out') in the Upasiva- 
7naJiavapucchd : " As a flame blown about by wind goes out 
and cannot be reckoned as existing, so a sage delivered from 
name and body disappears, and cannot be reckoned as exist- 
ing." To this Upasiva replies : " But has he only disappeared, 
or does he not exist, or is he only free from sickness ? " To 
which Buddha : " For him there is no form, and that by which 
they say he is exists for him no longer." One would think 
that this were plain enough. 

Yet must one always remember that this is the Arhat's death, 
the death of him that has perfected himself.^ Buddha, like 
the Brahmans, taught hell for the bad, and re-birth for them 
that were not perfected. So in the Kokdliya-sutta a list of 
hells is given, and an estimate is made of the duration of the 
sinner's suffering in them. Here, as if in a Brahman code, is 
it taught that 'he who lies goes to hell,' etc. Even the names 
of the Brahmanic hells are taken over into the Buddhist system, 
and several of those in Manu's list of hells are found here. 

On the other hand, Buddha teaches, if one may trust tradi- 
tion, that a good man may go to heaven. ' On the dissolution 
of the body after death the well-doer is re-born in some happy 
state in heaven ' {Mahdparimbbdfia, i. 24).^ This, like hell, is a 
temporary state, of course, before re-birth begins again on earth. 
In fact, Buddhist and Brahmanic pantheists agree in their atti- 
tude toward the respective questions of hell, heaven, and karma. 
It is only the emancipated Arhat that goes to Nirvana.^ 

1 After one enters on the stream of holiness there are only seven more possible 
births on earth, with one in heaven ; then he becomes arhat, venerable, perfected, 
and enters Nirvana. 

2 Compare the fairies and spirits in ib. v. 10; and in i. 31, 'give gifts to the gods.' 
^ We agree with Rhys Davids, Buddhism, pp. in, 207, that Buddha himself was 

an atheist ; but to the statement that Nirvana was " the extinction of that sinful, 


When it is said that Buddha preaches to a new convert 'in 
due course,' it means always that he gave him first a lecture 
on morality and religion, and then possibly, but not necessarily, 
on the ' system.' And Buddha has no narrow-minded aversion 
to Brahmans; he accepts 'Brahman ' as he accepts ' Brahma,' 
only he wants it to be understood what is a real Brahman : 
'A certain Brahman once asked Buddha how one becomes a 
Brahman, — what are the characteristics that make a man a 
Brahman. And the Blessed One said : " The Brahman who 
has removed all sinfulness, who is free from haughtiness, free 
from impurity, self-restrained, who is an accomplished master 
of knowledge, who has fulfilled the duties of holiness, — such 
a Brahman justly calls himself a Brahman." '^ The Mahdvagga^ 
from which this is taken, is full of such sentiments. As here, 
in i. 2, so in I. 7: "The Blessed One preached to Yasa, the 
noble youth, 'in due course,'" that is to say, "he talked about 
the merit obtained by alms-giving, the duties of morality, about 
heaven, about the evils of vanity and sinfulness of desire," 
and when the Blessed One saw that the mind df Yasa, the 
noble youth, was prepared, " then he preached the principal 
doctrine of the Buddhists, namely, suffering, the cause of suf- 
fering, the cessation of suffering, the Path;" and "just as a 
clean cloth takes the dye, thus Yasa, the noble youth, even 
while sitting there, obtained the knowledge that whatsoever 
is subject to birth is also subject to death." - 

The " spirit and not the letter of the law " is expressed in 
the formula {^Mahdvagga, i. 23) : " Of all conditions that proceed 

grasping condition of mind and heart which would otherwise be the cause of renewed 
individual existences" should in our opinion be added "and therewith the extinction 
of individuality.-' Compare Rhys Davids' Hibbc7-t Lectures ., p. 233. 

1 Compare the definition of an ' outcast ' in the Vasala-sittta : '•' Pie that gets angry 
and feels hatred, a wicked man, a hypocrite, lie that embraces wrong views and is 
deceitful, such an one is an outcast, and he that has no compassion for living 

- Compare ib. 5. 36 : " In due course he spoke, of charity, morality, heaven, pleas- 
ure, and the advantage of renunciation." 


from a cause, Buddha has explained the cause, and he has 
explained their cessation." This is the Buddhist's credo. 

In several of the sermons the whole gist is comprised in the 
admonition not to meddle with philosophy, nor to have any 
' views,' for " philosophy purifies no one ; peace alone purifies." ^ 

Buddha does not ignore the fact that fools will not desire 
salvation as explained by him : " What fools call pleasure the 
noble say is pain ; this is a thing difftcult to understand ; the 
cessation of the existing body is regarded as pleasure by 
the noble, but those wise in this world hold the opposite 
opinion " {Dvayataiiup. suffn^ 38).^ But to him the truly wise 
is the truly pure : " Not by birth is one a Brahman, not by birth 
is one an outcast ; by deeds is one a Brahman, by deeds is 
one an outcast" (^Vasala-siittd)\ and not alone in virtue of 
kartna of old, for : " The man who knows in this world the de- 
struction of pain, who lays aside the burden and is liberated, 
him I call a Brahman ; whosoever in this world has overcome 
good and evil, both ties, who is free from grief and defilement, 
and is pure, — him I call a Brahman; the ignorant say that 
one is a Brahman by birth, but one is a Brahman by penance, 
by religious life, by self-restraint, and by temperance " ( Vasettha- 

The penance here alluded to is not the vague penance of 
austerities, but submission to the discipline of the monastery 
when exercised for a specific fault. 

Later Buddhism made of Buddha a god. Even less exalta- 
tion than this is met by Buddha thus : Sariputta says to him, 
" Such faith have I, Lord, that methinks there never was and 
never will be either monk or Brahman who is greater and wiser 
than thou," and Buddha responds : "Grand and bold are the 
words of thy mouth ; behold, thou hast burst forth into ecstatic 

1 See especially the Nandavian., Paramatthaka, Magatidiya, and Suddhatthaka 
Stittas, translated by Fausboll, SBE. vol. x. 

2 Fausboll, in SBE. vol. x, Suttanipata. 


song. Come, hast thou, then, known all the Buddhas that 
were ? " '' No, Lord." " Hast thou known all the Buddhas 
that will be 1 " " No, Lord." " But, at least, thou knowest 
me, my conduct, my mind, my wisdom, my life, my salvation 
(/>., thou knowest me as well as I know myself) ? " " No, 
Lord." "Thou seest that thou knowest not the venerable 
Buddhas of the past and of the future ; why, then, are thy 
words so grand and bold ? " {Alahaparmibbana ^ 

]\Ietaphysically the human ego to the Buddhist is only a col- 
lection of five skajidhas (form, sensations, ideas, faculties of 
mind, and reason) that vanishes when the collection is dis- 
persed, but the factors of the collection re-form again, and the 
new ego is the result of their re-formation. The Northern 
Buddhists, who turn Buddha into a god, make of this an im- 
mortal soul, but this is Buddhism in one phase, not Buddha's 
own belief. The strength of Northern Buddhism lies not, as 
some say, in its greater religious zeal, but in its grosser animism, 
the delight of the vulgar. 

It will not be necessary, interesting as would be the com- 
parison, to study the Buddhism of the North after this review 
of the older and simpler chronicles. In Hardy's Manual of 
Buddhis77i (p. 138 ff.) and Rockhill's Life of Buddha will be 
found the weird and silly legends of Northern Buddhism, to- 
gether with a full sketch of Buddhistic ethics and ontology 
(Hardy, pp. 460, 387). The most famous of the Northern 
books, the Lotus of the Law and the Lalita Vistara, give a 
good idea of the extravagance and supernaturalism that already 
have begun to disfigure the purer faith. According to Kern, 
who has translated the former work again (after Burnouf), the 
whole intent of the Lotus is to represent Buddha as the su- 
preme, eternal God. The works, treating of piety, philosophy, 
and philanthropy, contain ancient elements, but in general are 
of later form. To this asre belonsfs also the whole collection 
of Jatakas, or 'birth-stories,' of the Buddhas that were before 


Gautama, some of the tales of which are historically important, 
as they have given rise to Western fables.^ These birth-stories 
represent Buddha (often as Indra) as some god or mortal, and 
tell what he did in such or such a form. It is in a future form 
that, like Vishnu, who is to come in the ai'atar of Kalki, the 
next Buddha will appear as Maitreya, or the 'Buddha of love.'- 
Some of the stories are very silly ; some, again, are beautiful 
at heart, but ugly in their bizarre appearance. They are all, 
perhaps, later than our era.^ 

The history of Buddhism after the Master's death has a 
certain analogy with that of Mohammedanism. That is to say 
it was largely a political growth. Further than this, of course, 
the comparison fails. The religion was affected by heretical 
kings, and by noiroeaux riches^ for it admitted them all into its 
community on equal terms — no slight privilege to the haughty 
nabob or proud king who, if a believer and follower of Brah- 
man orthodoxy, would have been obliged to bend the head, 
yield the path, and fear the slightest frown of any beggar priest 
that came in his way. 

The Maurya monarch Agoka adopted Buddhism as a state 
religion in the third century b.c, and taught it unto all his people, 
so that, according to his own account, he changed the creed of 
the country from Brahmanism to Buddhism.^ He was king 
over all northern India, from Kabul to the eastern ocean, from 
the northern limit of Brahmanic civilization to its southern 
boundary. Buddhist missionaries were now spread over India 

1 The distinction between the Northern and Southern doctrine is indicated by 
the terms ' Great Vehicle ' and ' Little Vehicle " respectively, the former the works of 
Nagarjuna's school (see below). 

- As Maitrakanyaka Buddha came once to earth " to redeem the sins of men.'- 

8 Of historic interest is the rapport between Brahmanic, Jain, and Buddhist tales. 
A case of this sort has been carefully worked out by Leumann. Die Legeiide von 
Citta und Sambhftta, WZKM. v. iii ; vi. i. 

4 " The gods who were worshipped as true divinities in India have been rendered 
false ... by my zeal"; inscription cited by Barth, p. 135. But Agoka was a very 
tolerant prince. Earth's notion of Buddhistic persecution can hardly be correct. 


and beyond it. And here again, even in this later age, one 
sees how Httle had the people to do with Buddha's metaphysi- 
cal system. Like the simple confession ' I take refuge in 
Buddha, in the doctrine, and in the church ' was the only 
credo demanded, that cited above : " Buddha has explained 
the cause of whatever conditions proceed from a cause, and he 
has declared their cessation." In this credo, which is en- 
graved all over India, everything is left in confidence to 
Buddha. However he explained the reason, that creed is to be 
accepted without inquiry. The convert took the patent facts 
of life, believing that Buddha had explained all, and based his 
own belief not on understanding but on faith. 

With the council of Patna, 242 B.C., begins at the hands of 
the missionaries the geographical separation of the church, 
which results in Southern and Northern Buddhism.^ 

It is at this period that the monastic bodies become influen- 
tial. The original Sangha, congregation, is defined as consist- 
ing of three or more brethren. The later monastery is a business 
corporation as well as a religious body. The great emperors 
that now ruled India (not the petty clan-kings of the centuries 
before) were no longer of pure birth, and some heresy was 
the only religion that would receive them with due honor. They 
affected Buddhism, endowed the monasteries, in every way en- 
riched the church, built for it great temples, and in turn were 
upheld by their thankful co-religionists. Among the six - rival 
heresies that of Buddha was predominant, and chiefly because 
of royal influence. The Buddhist head of the Ceylon church 
was Agoka's own son. Still more important for Buddhism was 
its adoption by the migratory Turanians in the centuries fol- 
lowing. Tibet and China were opened up to it through the 
influence of these foreign kings, who at least pretended to 

1 Koppen, Die Religion des Btiddha. p. 198. 

2 Not to be confused with the seventeen heresies and sixty-three different philo- 
sophical systems in the church itself. 


adopt the faith of Buddha.^ But as it was adopted by them, 
and as it extended beyond the limits of India, just so much 
weaker it became at home, where its strongest antagonists 
were the sectarian pantheistic parties not so heterodox as 

Buddhism lingered in India till the twelfth or thirteenth 
century, although in the seventh it was already decadent, as 
appears from the account of Hiouen-Thsang, the Chinese pil- 
grim. It is found to-day in Tibet, Ceylon, China, Japan, 
and other outlying regions, but it is quite vanished from its old 
home. The cause of its extinction is obvious. The Buddhist 
victorious was not the modest and devout mendicant of the early 
church. The fire of hate, lighted if at all by Buddhism,- smoul- 
dered till Brahmanism, in the form of Hinduism, had begotten 
a religion as popular as Buddhism, or rather far more popular, 
and for two reasons. Buddhism had no such picturesque tales 
as those that enveloped with poetry the history of the man-god 
Krishna. Again, Buddhism in its monastic development had 
separated itself more and more from the people. Not mendi- 
cant monks, urging to a pure life, but opulent churches with 
fat priests ; not simple discourses calculated to av/aken the 
moral and religious consciousness, but subtle arguments on 
discipline and metaphysics were now what Buddhism repre- 
sented. This religion was become, indeed, as much a skeleton 
as was the Brahmanism of the sixth century. As the Brah- 
manic belief had decomposed into spiritless rites, so Buddhism, 

1 For more details see Barth, loc. cit., p. 130 ff. According to tradition Buddhism 
was introduced into Tibet in the fourth century, a.d., the first missionaries coming 
from Nepal (Rockhill, p. 210). 

2 Barth justly discredits the tale of Buddhism having been persecuted out of India. 
In this sketch of later Buddhism we can but follow this author's admirable summary 
of the causes of Buddhistic decline, especially agreeing with him in assigning the first 

•place to the torpidity of the later church in matters of religion. It was become a 
great machine, its spiritual enthusiasm had been exhausted ; it had nothing poetical 
or beautiful save the legend of Buddha, and this had lost its freshness ; for Buddha 
was now, in fact, only a grinning idol. 


changed into dialectic and idolatry (for in lieu of a god the later 
church worshipped Buddha), had lost now all hold upon the 
people. The love of man, the spirit of Buddhism, was dead, 
and Buddhism crumbled into the dust. Vital and energetic 
was the sectarian ' love of God ' alone (Hinduism), and this 
now became triumphant. Where Buddhism has succeeded is 
not where the man-gods, objects of love and fear, have entered; 
but where, without rivalry from more sympathetic beliefs, it 
has itself evolved a system of idolatry and superstition ; where 
all that was scorned by the Master is regarded as holiest, and 
all that he insisted upon as vital is disregarded.^ One speaks 
of the millions of Buddhists in the world as one speaks of the 
millions of Christians; but while there are some Christians that 
have renounced the bigotry and idolatry of the church, and 
hold to the truth as it is in the words of Christ, there are still 
fewer Buddhists who know that their Buddhism would have 
been rebuked scornfully by its founder. 

The geographical growth of formal Buddhism is easily 
sketched. After the first entrance into Kashmeer and Ceylon, 
in the third century B.C., the progress of the cult, as it now 
may be called, was steadily away from India proper. In the 
fiith century a.d., it was adopted in Burmah,^ and in the 
seventh in Siam. The Northern school kept in general to the 
'void ' doctrine of Nagarjuna, whose chief texts are the Lotus 
and the Lalita Vistara, standard works of the Great Vehicle.^ 
In Tibet Lamaism is the last result of this hierarchical state- 
church.^ , We have thought it much more important to give a 

1 Here are developed fully the stories of hells, angels, and all supernatural para- 
phernalia, together with theism, idolatry, and the completed monastic system ; magic, 
fable, absurd calculations in regard to nothings, and spiritual emptiness. 

■2 At the same time the Ceylon canon was fixed by the commentary of Bud- 

3 I,ater it follows the mystical school. Both schools have been affected by Brah- 
manism. The Great V^ehicle, founded by Nagarjuna, was recognized at a fourth 
council in Kashmeer about the time of the Christian era. Compare Koppen, p. 199. 

^ On the Lamaistic hierarchy and system of succession see Mayers, JRAS. iv. 284. 


fuller account of early Buddhism, that of Buddha, than a full 
account of a later growth in regions that, for the most part, are 
not Indie, in the belief that the Pali books of Ceylon give a 
truer picture of the early church than do those of Kashmeer 
and Nepal, with their Qivaite and Brahmanic admixture. For 
in truth the Buddhism of China and Tibet has no place in 
the history of Indie religions. It may have been introduced 
by Hindu missionaries, but it has been re-made to suit a 
foreign people. This does not apply, of course, to the canon- 
ical books, the Great Vehicle, of the North, which is essentially 
native, if not Buddhistic. Yet of the simple narrative and the 
adulterated mystery-play, if one has to choose, the former must 
take precedence. From the point of view of history, Northern 
Buddhism, however old its elements, can be regarded only as 
an admixture of Buddhistic and Brahmanic ideas. For this 
reason we take a little more space, not to cite from the Lotus 
or the grotesque Lalita Vistara,^ but to illustrate Buddhism at 
its best. Fausboll, who has translated the dialogue that 
follows, thinks that in the Suttas of the Sutta-nipata there is a 
reminiscence of a stage of Buddhism before the institution of 
monasteries, while as yet the disciples lived as hermits. The 
collection is at least very primitive, although we doubt whether 
the Buddhist disciples ever lived formally as individual her- 
mits. All the Samanas are in groups, little 'congregations,' 
which afterwards grew into monasteries. 

This is a poetical (amcebic) contest between the herdsman 
Dhaniya and Buddha, with which Fausboll^ compares St. Luke, 
xii. 1 6, but which, on the other hand reminds one of a spirit- 
ualized Theocritus, with whom its author was, perhaps, con- 

1 For the same reason we do not enter upon the outer form of Buddhism as ex- 
pressed in demonology, snake-worship (JRAS. xii. 2S6) and symbolism {ib. OS. xiii. 

7i» "4)- 

2 SBE. vol. X, part ii, p. 3. 


I have boiled the rice, I have milked the kine — so said the herdsman 
Dhaniya — I am living with my comrades near the banks of the (great) Mahl 
river ; the house is roofed, the fire is lit — then rain if thou wilt, O sky ! 

I am free from anger, free from stubbornness — so said the Blessed One 

— I am abiding for one night near the banks of the (great) Mahi river; my 
house has no cover, the fire (of passion) is extinguished — then rain if thou 
wilt, O sky ! 

Here are no gad-flies — so said the herdsman Dhaniya — the cows are 
roaming in meadows full of grass, and they can endure the rain — then rain 
if thou vvilt, O sky ! 

I have made a well-built raft — so said the Blessed One — I have crossed 
over, I have reached the further bank, I have overcome the torrent (of 
passions) ; I need the raft no more — then rain if thou wilt, O sky ! 

My wife is obedient, she is not wanton — so said the herdsman Dhaniya 

— she has lived with me long and is winning ; no wickedness have I heard 
of her — then rain if thou wilt, O sky ! 

My mind is obedient, delivered (from evil) — so said the Blessed One — 
it has been cultivated long and is well-subdued ; there is no longer anything 
wicked in me — then rain if thou wilt, O sky ! 

I support myself by my own earnings — so said the herdsman Dhaniya 

— and my children are around me and healthy; I hear no wickedness of 
them — then rain if thou wilt, O sky ! 

I am the servant of none — so said the Blessed One — with what I have 
gained I wander about in all the world ; I have no need to serve — then rain 
if thou wilt, O sky ! 

I have cows, I have calves — so said the herdsman Dhaniya — cows in 
calf and heifers also ; and I have a bull as lord over the cows — then rain 
if thou wilt, O sky ! 

I have no cows, I have no calves — so said the Blessed One — no cows 
in calf, and no heifers; and I have no bull as a lord over the cows — then 
rain if thou wilt. O sky ! 

The stakes are driven in and cannot be shaken — so said the herdsman 
Dhaniya — the ropes are made of holy-grass, new and well-made; the cows 
will not be able to break them — then rain if thou wilt, O sky ! 

Like a bull I have rent the bonds — so said the Blessed One — like an 
elephant I have broken through the ropes, I shall not be born again — then 
rain if thou wilt, O sky ! 

Then the rain poured down and filled both sea and land. And hearing the 
sky raining, Dhaniya said : Not small to us the gain in that we have seen 
the Blessed Lord ; in thee we take refuge, thou endowed with (wisdom's) 
eye ; be thou our master, O great sage ! My wife and myself are obedient 


to thee. If we lead a pure life we shall overcome birth and death, and put 
an end to pain. 

He that has sons has delight in sons — so said the Evil One — he that 
has cows has delight in cows, for substance is the delight of man, but he 
that has no substance has no delight. 

He that has sons has care with his sons — so said the Blessed One — he 
that has cows has likewise care with his cows, for substance is (the cause 
of) care, but he that has no substance has no care. 

From Buddha's sermons choice extracts were gathered at an 
early date, which, as well as the few longer discourses, that 
have been preserved in their entirety, do more to tell us what 
was the original Buddha, before he was enwrapped in the 
scholastic mysticism of a later age, than pages of general 

Thus in the Mahapai'inibbdiia casual allusion is made to 
assemblies of men and of angels (divine bfeings), of the great 
thirty-three gods. Death the Evil One and Brahma (iii. 21). 
Buddha, as we have said, does not. deny the existence of 
spiritual beings ; he denies only their power to affect the per- 
fect man and their controlling part in the universe. In the 
same sermon the refuge of the disciple is declared to be truth 
and himself (ii. 2)Z) • " ^^ Y^ lamps unto yourselves. Betake 
yourselves to no external refuge. Hold fast to the truth as to 
a lamp." 

And from the famous 'Path of Duty' or 'Collection of truths':^ 

All that we are is the result of what we have thought : it is founded on 
our thoughts ; it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts 
with an evil thought pain follows him as the wheel follows the foot of the 
ox that draws the carriage, (but) if a man speaks or acts with a pure 
thought happiness follows him like a shadow that never leaves him. 

Earnestness is the path that leads to escape from death, thoughtlessness 
is the path that leads to death. Those who are in earnest do not die;'^ 

1 Dhammapada (Franke, ZDISIG. xlvi. 731). In Sanskrit one has dharmapatha 
with the same sense. The text in the main is as translated by Mliller, separately, 
1872, and in SBE., vol. x. It was translated by Weber, Streifoi. i. 112. in 1S60. 

2 That is, they die no more ; they are free from the chain ; they enter Nirvana. 


those who are thoughtless are as if dead already. Long is the night to 
him who is awake; long is a mile to him who is tired; long is life to the 

There is no suffering for him who has finished his journey and aban- 
doned grief, who has freed himself on all sides and thrown off the fetters. 

Some people are born again ; evil-doers go to hell ; righteous people go 
to heaven ; those who are free from all worldly desires attain Nirvana. 

He who, seeking his own happiness, punishes or kills beings that also 
long for happiness, will not find happiness after death. 

Looking for the maker of this tabernacle I shall have to run through a 
course of many births, so long as I do not find ; and painful is birth again 
and again. But now, maker of the tabernacle, thou hast been seen ; thou 
shalt not make up this tabernacle again. All thy rafters are broken, thy 
ridge-pole is sundered; thy mind, approaching Nirvana, has attained to 
extinction of all desires. ^ 

Better than going to heaven, better than lordship over all worlds, is the 
reward of entering the stream of holiness. 

Not to commit any sin, to do good, and to purify one's mind, that is the 
teaching of the Buddhas. 

Let us live happily, not hating them that hate us. Let us live happily, 
though we call nothing our own. We shall be like bright gods, feeding on 

From lust comes grief, from lust comes fear; he that is free from lust 
knows neither grief nor fear. 

The best of ways is the eightfold (path) ; this is the way, there is no 
other that leads to the purifying of intelligence. Go on this way ! Every- 
thing else is the deceit of Death. You yourself must make the effort. 
Buddhas are only preachers. The thoughtful who enter the way are freed 
from the bondage of Death.'-^ 

1 Buddha'S words on becoming Buddha. 

2 It is to be observed that transmigration into animal forms is scarcely recognized 
by Buddha. He assumes only men and superior beings as subjects of Karma. 
Compare Rhys Davids' Lectures, pp. 105, 107. To the same scholar is due the state- 
ment that he was the first to recognize the true meaning of Nirvana, 'extinction (not 
of soul but) of lust, anger, and ignorance.' For divisions of Buddhist literature other 
than the Tripitaka the same author's Hibbcrt Lectures may be consulted (see also 
Miiiler, SBE. x, Introduction, p. i.). 



While the great heresies that we have been describing were 
agitating the eastern part of India,^ the old home of Brahman- 
ism in the West remained true, in name if not in fact, to the 
ancient faith. But in reahty changes almost as great as those 
of the formal heresies were taking place at the core of Brah- 
manism itself, which, no longer able to be the religion of a 
few clans, was now engaged in the gigantic task of remodelling 
and assimilating the indigenous beliefs and religious practices 
of its new environment. This was not a conscious act on the 
part of Brahmanism. At first it was undertaken almost un- 
wittingly, and it was accomplished later not without repug- 
nance. But to perform this task was the condition of continued 
existence. Brahmanism had to expand, or shrink, wither, and 

For a thousand years almost the only source of information 
in regard to this new growth is contained in the epic poetry 
of the time, with the help of a few additional facts from the 
law, and some side light from inscriptions. It is here that 
Vishnuism and Civaism are found as fully developed sectarian 
beliefs, accepted by Brahmanism with more or less distrust, 
and in more or less fulness of faith. It is to the epic that one 

1 The rival heresies seem also to. belong to the East. There were thus more than 
half a dozen heretical bodies of importance agitating the region about Benares at 
the same time. Subsequently the Jains, who, as we have shown, were less estranged 
from Brahmanism, drifted westward, while the Buddhist stronfjhold remained in the 
East (both, of course, being represented in the South as well), and so. whereas Bud- 
dhism eventually retreated to Nepal and Tibet, the Jains are found in the very 
centres of old and new (sectarian) Brahmanism, Delhi, Mathura, Jeypur, Ajmir. 


must turn to study the budding and gradual flowering of the 
modern religions, which have cast strict orthodoxy into the 

Of the two epics, one, the Ramayana,^ has become the Old 
Testament of the Ramaite Vishnuites of the present day. The 
Bharata,- on the other hand, is scriptural for all sects, because 
it is more universal. The former epic, in its present form, is 
what the Hindus call an ' art-poem,' and in its hnish, its exclu- 
sively romantic style, and its total lack of nervous dramatic 
power, it is probably, as the Hindus claim, the work of one 
man, Valmiki, who took the ancient legends of Eastern India 
and moulded them into a stupid sectarian poem. On the 
other hand, the Bharata is of no one hand, either in origin 
or in final redaction ; nor is it of one sect ; nor has 
it apparently been thoroughly affected, as' has the Rama- 
yana, by Buddhistic influences. Moreover, in the huge con- 
glomeration of stirring adventure, legend, myth, history, and 
superstition which goes to make up the great epic there is 
contained a far truer picture of the vulgar custom, belief, and 
religion of the time than the too polished composition of Val- 
miki is able to afford, despite the fact that the latter also has 
many popular elements welded into it. There are, in fact, 
only two national works in India, only two works which, withal, 
not in their entirety, but in their nucleus, after one has stripped 
each of its priestly toggery, reflect dimly the heart of the people, 
not the cleverness of one man, or the pedantry of schools. 
For a few Vedic hymns and a few Bharata scenes make all the 
literature, with perhaps the exception of some fables, that is 
not markedly dogmatic, pedantic, or 'artificial.'^ So true is 
this that even in the case of the Ramayana one never feels 

1 ' The wandering of Rama,' who is the sectarian representative of Vishnu. 

2 The ' Bharata (tale)', sometimes called Maha-Bharata, or Great Bharata. The 
Visnnuite sectarianism here advocated is that of Krishna. But there is as much 
Qivaism in the poem as there is Vishnuism. 

3 Dramatic and lyric poetry is artificial even in language. 


that he is getting from it the genuine behef of the people, 
but only that form of popular belief which Valmiki has chosen 
to let stand in his version of the old tale. The great epic is 
heroic, Valmiki's poem is romantic ; the former is real, the 
latter is artificial ; and the religious gleaning from each cor- 
responds to this distinction.^ 

The Bharata, like other Hindu works, is of uncertain date, 
but it was completed as a ' Great Bharata ' by the end of the 
sixth century a.d., and the characters of the story are men- 
tioned, as wall known, by Panini, whose work probably belongs 
to the fourth century B.C. Furthermore, Dio Chrysostomos, 
probably citing from Megasthenes, refers to it ; and the latter 
authority describes the worship of the chief gods of the epic ; 
while the work is named in one of the domestic Sutras, and 
a verse is cited from it in the legal Sutra of Baudhayana.- On 
the other hand, in its latest growth it is on a par with the 
earlier Puranas, but it is not quite so advanced in sectarianism 
as even the oldest of these writings. It may, then, be reck- 
oned as tolerably certain that the beginnings of the epic date 
from the fourth or fifth century before the Christian era, and 
that it was quite a respectable work by the time that era 
began ; aftel" which it continued to grow for five centuries more.^ 
Its religious importance can scarcely be overestimated. In 
600 A.D., far away from its native home, in Cambodia, it was 
encircled with a temple, and an endowment was made by the 

1 Schroeder, p. 453, compares the mutual relation of the Mahabharata and Rama- 
yana to that of the Nibelungenlied and the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach. 
Jacobi, in his ' Ramayana,' has lately claimed a considerable antiquity for the founda- 
tion legends of the Ramayana, but he does not disprove the late completed form. 

2 i. 78. 10; see Biihlers Introduction. 

3 Jacobi seeks to put the completed nucleus at the time of the Christian era, but 
it must have been quite a large nucleus in view of the allusions to it in precedent 
literature. Holtzmann puts the completion at about 1000 a.d.; but in 700 a.d. it 
was complete, and most scholars will agree with BUhler that the present Maha-Bharata 
was completed by the sixth or seventh century. In 533 A.D. it contained 100,000 
distichs, that is, it was about the size it is now. 


king providing for the daily recitation of the poem. Its legal 
verses are authoritative ; its religion is to-day that of India as 
a whole. The latest large additions to it were, as we think, 
the Book of Laws, the Book of Peace, and the genealogy of 
Vishnu, which together form a sort of pseudo-epic. But por- 
tions of other books, notably the first, fourth, and seventh, 
are probably almost as recent as are the more palpable inter- 

The Bharata (or the epic Kar kioyy]v) gives us our first view 
of Hinduism in its sectarian developments. But no less does 
it show us a changing Brahmanism. The most typical change 
in the Brahmanism of this period, which covers all that time 
called by Miiller the era of the Renaissance, and ends with 
the pedantically piquant literature of the drama,^ is the ab- 
normal growth of the ascetic religious exercise. Older Brah- 
manism, like the sects, admitted Yogis and ascetics of various 
kinds, but their aim was to attain oneness with God ; and 
' union ' (with God) is the yoga (Latin jugiim has the same 
origin) which they sought. But it was not long before the 
starved ascetic, with his wild appearance and great reputation 
for sanctity, inspired an awe which, in the unscrupulous, was 
easily turned to advantage. The Yogi became more or less 
of a charlatan, more or less of a juggler. Nor was this all. 
Yoga-practices began to take precedence before other religious 
practices. In the Brahmanas it is the sacrifice that is god- 
compelling; but in the epic, although sacrifice has its place, 
yet when miraculous power is exerted, it is due chiefly to Yoga 
concentration, or to the equally general use of formulae ; not 

1 By the time the drama began the epic was become a reUgious storehouse, and 
the actual epic story represented not a fifth of the whole work, so that, with its 
simple language, it must have seemed, as a literary production, very wearisome to 
the minds that delighted in tlie artificial compounds and romantic episodes of the 
drama and lyric. But even to-day it is recited at great fetes, and listened to with 
rapt attention, as the rhapsodes with more or less dramatic power recite its holy 


formulae as part of a sacrifice, but as in themselves potent ; 
and mysterious mantras., used by priest and warrior alike, serve 
every end of magic.-^ Apart from acquisition of power, this 
Yoga-training is, moreover, all that is needful from the point 
of view of righteousness. Physical prowess here is the one 
thing admirable. To stand for years on one leg, to be eaten 
by ants, to be in every way an ascetic of the most stoical sort, 
is the truest religion. Such an ascetic has no ordinary rules 
of morality. In fact, his practices are most peculiar, for 
to seduce young women is one of his commonest occupations ; 
and in his anger to cause an injury to his foes is one of the 
ends for which he toils. The gods are nothing to him. They 
are puppets whom he makes shake and tremble at will. As 
portrayed in the epic, in terms of common sense, the Muni (silent 
saint) is a morose^ and very vulgar-minded old man, who seeks 
to intimidate others by a show of miraculous power. In the 
matter of penances those of the law are extended beyond all 
bounds. The caste-restrictions are of the closest, and the 
most heinous crime is to commit an offence against caste- 
order. On the other hand, the greatest merit is to give gifts 
to priests. This had already proceeded far enough, as was 
indicated by a passage cited above from Manu. But in the 
epic the greed and rapacity of the priest exceeds all imaginable 
limits. He takes whatever he can get and asks for more. He 
has, by his own showing, scarcely one estimable trait. Avarice, 
cupidity, sensuality, gluttony, love of finery, effeminacy, mean- 
ness, and pride — everything charged against him by the 
Buddhist — are his most marked characteristics. He appears, 

1 The later law-books saj' expressly that women and slaves have a riglit to use 
mantra, mantradhikarinas. But the later legal Smritis are no more than disguised 
sectarian Puranas. 

2 Compare the visit of the old Muni on the prince in iii. 262. S. He is parania- 
kopatta, '■ extremely irritable ' ; calls for food only to reject it ; growls at the service, 
etc. Everything must be done 'quickly' for him. "I am hungry, give me food, 
quick,''' is his way of speaking, etc. (12). The adjective is one applied to tlae All- 
gods, paramaki'odhinas. 


however, to be worse than he always was. For nothing is 
plainer, from this very epic, than that the priests, although 
united as a caste, were sharply distinguished in their lives. 
The ascetic described above represents the fourth period of 
the priestly life. Below these stood (apart from students) ^ 
hermits and householders. The householders, or such of them 
as the epic unfortunately is busied with, the royal priests, seem 
to be those that are in reality priests only in name. In the 
king's palace, his constant advisors, his most unscrupulous 
upholders in wickedness, they gave themselves up to quest of 
wealth and power. But one would err if he thus dismissed 
them all. There were others that had no preferment, who lived 
in quiet content in their own houses, and deserved none of the 
opprobrium rightly bestowed upon their hypocritical brotliers. 
The hermits, too, appear to have been a mild and inoffensive 
race, not presuming too much on their caste-privileges. 

To offset rapaciousness there are tomes of morality of the 
purest sort. Even in the later additions to the epic one reads: 
"Away with gifts; receiving gifts is sinful. The. silkworm 
dies of its wealth " (xii. 330. 29). One should compare, again, 
the exalted verse (Buddhistic in tone) of ib. 321. 47: "The 
red garment, the vow of silence, the three-fold staff, the water- 
pot — these only lead astray; they do not make for salvation." 
There were doubtless good and bad priests, but the peculiarity of 
the epic priest, rapacious and lustful, is that he glories in his 

The chief objects of worship (except for the influence of the 
sectarian religions) were priests, Manes, and, for form's sake, 
the Vedic gods. These gods, with the addition of the Hindu 
Plutus (Kubera, the god of riches), are now called the eight 
'world-guardians,' viz., Indra, Yama, Varuna, Kubera, Agni, 

1 Each spiritual teacher instructed high-caste boys, in classes of four or five at 
most. In xii. 32S. 41 the four students of a priest go on a strike because the latter 
wants to take another pupil besides themselves and his own son. 


Siirya, Vayu, Soma, and are usually simple and shadowy subor- 
dinates of the greater new gods. 

In the shifting of religious opinion and in the development 
of theological conceptions what difference can be traced be- 
tween the same gods as worshipped in the Veda and as wor- 
shipped in the epic ? Although the Vedic divinities have been 
twice superseded, once by the Father-god and again by the 
citma., Lord, they still remain adorable and adored, active in 
many ways, though passive before the great All-god. It is, 
indeed, extremely difficult, owing to the superstruction of sec- 
tarian belief, to get dov.'n to the foundation-religion of the 
epic. The best one can do is to see in what way the old gods 
differ, as represented in the poem, from their older selves of 
the Rig Veda. From this point of view alone, and entirely 
irrespective of the sects, manifold changes will be seen to have 
taken place. Great Soma is no more. Soma is there, the 
moon, but the glory of the Vedic Soma has departed. His 
lunar representative is of little importance. Agni, too, is 
changed. As Fire in the Rig Veda is not only the altar-fire, 
but also common, every-day fire, so, too, in the epic this god 
is the material fiame, and as such even performs his greatest 
deeds for his worshippers. He takes on every form, even 
becoming a priest, and a dove. He remains the priest of the 
gods, but his day of action in war is over. He no longer 
wins battles. But he burns down a forest to aid his party. 
For the Vedic gods are now but weak partizans of the com- 
batants. In the sectarian parts of the epic Agni is only a 
puppet. His new representative, Skanda, is the chief battle- 
god, a name almost unknown before. He himself is either 
the son of Vishnu or a form of Qiva. He is the All-god, the 
atrna. It is he who burns the world when the time shall have 
come for the general destruction. 

The high and mighty Varuna of the Rig Veda is no longer 
great. He is no longer serene. He descends and fights on 


earth. Indra, too, battles with Vritra as of old, but he is quite 
anthropomorphic, and of no marked value in the contest of 
heroes. Not only this, but all the gods together are repre- 
sented as weaker than a good hero, not to speak of a priestly 
ascetic. In a word, the gods are believed in, but with what a 
belief ! They no longer, as natural powers, inspire special 
respect. Their nature-origin is for the most part lost. They 
are thoroughly antlfropomorphic. Even SCirya, the sun, in 
action if not in laudation, is often more man than god. This 
gives a strange effect to the epic battle-scenes as compared 
with those of Homer. Unless Vishnu is active on the field 
the action is essentially human. No great god or goddess 
stands ready to save the fainting warrior. He fights and falls 
alone. Save for the caresses and plaudits of the half-gods, the 
most that the Vedic gods can do is to wipe away the sweat 
from the hero's brow.-^ The AH-god does not take the place 
of the band of watchful and helpful gods pictured by Homer. 
Vishnu fights on the field ; he saves only his proteges, and 
much as a mortal warrior w^ould do it. But the A^edic 2:cds 
hang like a mist upon the edge of battle, and are all but idle 
spectators of the scene. Abstractions, as well as the All-god, 
have routed them, and Dharma or Duty is a greater god than 
Indra. But there is an older side to this, as we shall presently 
show. On the moral side the heroes of the epic profess great 
belief in the power and awfulness of this god Duty. And so 
far as go rules of chivalry, they are theoretically moral. Prac- 
tically they arj savage, and their religion does not interfere 
with their brutal barbarity. The tendency to cite divine 
instances of sin as excuse for committing it is, however, 
rebuked : " One should neither practice nor blame the (wrong) 
acts of gods and seers," xii. 292. 17-18. 

1 The saints in the sky praise the combatants (vii. 1S8. 41 ; viii, 15. 27); and the 
gods roar approval of prowess "with roars like a lion's" (viii. 15, -i,^- Indra and 
Surya and the Apsarasas cool off the heroes with heavenly fans {ib. 90. iS). For the 
last divinities, see Holtzmann's essays, ZDMG. xxxii. 290 ; xxxiii, 631. 


From an eschatological point of view it is most difficult to 
get back of the statements made by the priestly composers/ 
who, in their various reeditingsof the epic, uniformly have given 
the pantheistic goal as that in which the characters believe. 
But it is evident that the warriors were not much affected by 
this doctrine. To them there was one law of righteousness 
exceeding all others — to die on the field of battle. And for 
such as did so, over and over again is the assurance given that 
'happiness in Indra's heaven' is their reward. And probably 
a true note is struck in this reiterated promise. To the mass of 
the vulgar, union with bj-aJwia would have been no attractive end. 

It is interesting to see the remains of the older belief still 
flourishing in midst of epic pantheism. Although Indra has no 
such hymn as has Surya, yet is he still lauded, and he is a very 
real person to the knight who seeks his heaven.- In fact, so 
long as natural phenomena we're regarded as divine, so long as 
thunder was godly, it was but a secondary question which name 
the god bore ; whether he was the 'chief and king of gods,' or 
Vishnu manifesting himself in a special form. This form, at 
any rate, was to endure as such till the end of the cycle. There 
are other Indras. Each cycle has its own (i. 197. 29). But 
sufficient unto the age is the god thereof. If, relinquishing the 
higher bliss of absorption, the knight sought only Indra's heaven, 

1 The original author of the Mahabharata is reputed to be of low caste, but the 
writers of the text as it is to-day were sectarian priests. It was written down, it is 
said, by Gane^a, ' lord of the troops ' of (^iva, i. i. 79, and some historic trutli lies in the 
tale. The priests of (^iva were the last to retouch the poem, as we think. 

^ Agni-worship is partly affected by the doctrine that the Samvartaka fire (which 
destroys the world at the cycle's end) is a form of Vishnu. In Stambamitra's hymn 
it is said : '• Thou, O Agni, art the all, in thee rests the universe . . . Sages know thee 
as single yet manifold. At the expiration of time thou burnest up the three worlds, 
after having created them. Thou art the originator and support of all beings " 
(i. 232. 12). Elsewhere more Vedic epithets are given, such as ' mouth of the gods" 
(ii. 31. 42), though here 'the Vedas are produced for Agni's sake.' In this same 
prayer one reads, ' may Agni give me energy ; wind, give me breath ; earth, give nie 
strength; and water, give me health' (45). Agni, as well as (^iva, is the father of 
Kumara Kartikeya, /.«?., Skanda {ib. 44). 


and believed he was to find it, then his belief practically does 
not differ much from that of his ancestor, who accepts Indra as 
an ultimate, natural power. The question arises whether, after 
all, the Indra-worship of the epic is not rather popular than 
merely old and preserved* Certainly the reality of the belief 
seems quite as strong as that of the ever-newly converted sec- 
tar}'. It may be doubted whether the distribution of theologi- 
cal belief is very different in the epic and Vedic ages. Philo- 
sophical pantheism is very old in India. The priest believes 
one thing ; the vulgar, another. The priest of the Vedic age, 
like the philosopher of the next age, and like the later sectarian, 
has a belief which runs ahead of the popular religion. But the 
popular religion in its salient features still remains about the 
same. Arjuna, the epic hero, the pet of Krishna, visits Indra's 
heaven and stays there five years. It is the old Vedic gods to 
whom he turns for weapons, till the Qivaite makes Indra send 
the knight further, to Civa himself. The old name, king of the 
Vasus, is still retained for Indra ; and though the 'divine weap- 
ons,' which are winged with sacred formulae, are said to be 
more than a match for the gods ; though in many a passage the 
knight and the saint make Indra tremble, yet still appear, 
through the mists of ascetic and sectarian novelties, Indra's 
heaven and his grandeur, shining with something of their old 
glory. Vishnu still shows his solar origin. Of him and of the 
sun is it said in identical words : " The sun protects and 
devours all," and '-Vishnu protects and devours" (of Vishnu, 
passim; of the sun, iii. t^^)- 7'^)- ^ good deal of old stuff' is 
left in the Forest Book amongst the absurd tales of holy water- 
ing places. One finds repeated several times the Vedic account 
of Indra's fight with Vritra, the former's thunderbolt, however, 
being now made of a saint's bones (iii. ch. 100-105). Agni 
is lauded (/<^. ch. 123). To the Agvins^ there is one old hymn 

1 But the A^vins are Qudras in the ' caste-hood of gods ' (the caste-order being 
Angirasas, Adityas, Maruts and Agvins), xii. 20S. 23-25 ; and Indra in one passage 
refuses to associate with them, xiii. 157. 17 (cited by Holtzmann, ZDMD. xxxii. 321). 


which contains Vedic forms (i. 3). Varuna is^still lord of the 
West, and goes accompanied with the rivers, ' nale and female,' 
with snakes, and demons, and half-gods {daityas, sad/iyas, 
ddivatas). Later, but earlier than the pseudo-epic, there stands 
with these gods Kubera, the god of wealth, the 'jewel-giver,' 
who is the guardian of travellers, the king of those demons 
called Yakshas, which the later sect makes servants of Qiva. 
He is variously named ; ^ he is a dwarf ; he dwells in the North, 
in Mt. Kailasa, and has a demoniac gate-keeper, Macakruka. 
Another newer god is the one already referred to, Dharma 
Vaivasvata, or Justice (Virtue, Right), the son of the sun, a 
title of Yama older than the Vedas. He is also the father of 
the new love-god, Kama. It is necessary to indicate the names 
of the gods and their functions, lest one imagine that with pan- 
theism the Vedic religion expired. Even that old, impious 
Brahmanic fable crops out again : " The devils were the older 
brothers of the gods, and were conquered by the gods only with 
trickery" (iii. ^t'h- ^0)5 ^" interesting reminiscence of the fact 
that the later name for evil spirit was originally the one applied 
to the great and good spirit (Asura the same with Ahura)." 
According to a rather late chapter in the second book each of 
the great Vedic gods has a special paradise of his own, the 
most remarkable feature of the account being that Indra's 
heaven is filled with saints, having only one king in it — a 
view quite foreign to the teaching that is current elsewhere in 
the epic. Where the sectarian doctrine would appose the old 
belief it set above Indra's heaven another, of Brahma, and 
above that a third, of Vishnu (i. 89. 16 ff.). According to one 
passage Mt. Mandara^ is a sort of Indian Olympus. Another 
account speaks of the Himalayas, Himavat, as ' the divine 

1 Manibhadra, in iii. 64, is king of Yaksash ; he is the same with Kubera. ib. ch. 41 

2 In the Cosmogony the gods are the sons of the Manes, xii. 312. 9. 

3 When the gods churn the ocean to get ambrosia, an ancient tale of the epic, Man- 
dara is the twirling-stick. It is situated in modern Behar, near Bhagalpur. 


mountain, beloved of the gods/ though the knight goes thence 
to Gandhamadaii^, and thence to Indrakila, to find the gods' 
habitat (iii. 37. '41). Personified powers He all around the 
religious Hindu. And this is especially true of the epic char- 
acter. He prays to Mt. Mandara, and to rivers, above all to 
the Ganges. Mt. Kolahala is divine, and begets divine off- 
spring on a river (i. 63). The Vindhya range of mountains 
rivals the fabled Meru (around which course the sun and all 
the heavenly bodies), and this, too, is the object of devotion 
and prayer.^ In one passage it is said that in Behar (Magadha) 
there was a peak which was continuously ' worshipped with 
offeriUj^-s of flowers and perfumes,' exactly as if it were a god. 
The reason why flowers are given and worn is that they bring 
good luck, it is said in the same chapter (ii. 21. 15, 20, 51). 

What is, perhaps, the most striking feature of Hindu religious 
thought, as a« whole, is the steadfastness with which survive, 
even in the epic and in Buddhism, the forms and formulae of 
the older faith. At a time when pantheism or nihilism is the 
avowed creed the ancient gods still exist, weak, indeed, yet 
infused with a true immortality. This is noticeable even more 
in unnoticeable ways, in the turns of speech, in little compari- 
sons, in the hymns, in short, in the by-play of the epic. 
' Withered are the garlands of the gods, and their glory is 
departed,'" but -they still receive homage in time of need. 
And in that homage is to be seen, and from the same cause, 
the revived or surviving worship of the Veda. Each god in 
turn is mighty, though Agni is the mightiest of the old divini- 
ties. In an epic hymn to him it is said : " Thou art the mouth 

1 iii. 42 ; 139. 14, where the Ganges and Jumna are invoked together with the Vedic 
gods. So in iii. 104 (Vindhya); and Damayanti prays to mountains. Mt. Meru is 
described in iii. 163. 14 (compare i. i". 5 ff.). In i. 18. i ff., is related the churning of 
the ocean, where Indra (vs. 12) places Mt. Mandara on Vishnu, the tortoise. 

- Mbh. i. 30. 37, mamhcr mdlydni dcvdndm, etc. The older belief was that the 
gods' garlands never withered ; for the gods show no mortal signs, cast no shad- 
ows, etc. 


of the worlds ; the poets declare thee to be one and three-fold ; 
as carrier of the sacrifice they arrange thee eight-fold. By thee 
was all created, say the highest seers. Priests that have made 
reverence to thee attain the eternal course their acts have won, 
together with their wives and sons. They call thee the water- 
giver in the air, together with lightning. On thee first depends 
water. Thou art the creator and Brihaspati, thou art the two 
Horsemen, the two Yamas, Mitra, Soma, Wind" (i. 229, 23 ff.).^ 
And yet this is in a pantheistic environment ! The Rig Veda 
is directly invoked, though, of course, not directly cited, in the 
old hymn to the Horsemen, who are, however, elsewhere put 
with low animals and Guhyakas, demons (i. 66).^ They are 
the " physicians of the gods," the " first-born," the golden birds 
which weave the white and black of time, create the wheel of 
time with all its seasons, and make the sun and sky (i. 3. 55 ff., 
" vagbhir rgb/iis "). Indra himself is extolled in Kadru's hymn ; 
he is the slayer of Namuci, the lord of Qaci ; he is the great 
cloud, cloud and its thunder, creator and destroyer ; he is 
Vishnu, ' Soma, greatly praised,' as well as fire, air, time in all 
its divisions, earth and ocean ; when lauded he drinks the 
soma, and he is sung in the Vedangas (i. 25. yff.). Praised 
with this hymn in time of need of rain, Indra "commanded the 
clouds, saying, 'rain down the ambrosia' " (26. 2); where there 
is still the rain as synonymous with ambrosia, and Indra not 
very differently conceived from his Vedic self. Thus in com- 
parisons : " As Indra standing in heaven brings bliss to the 
world of the livins;, so Vidura ever brouo:ht bliss to the Pandus " 
(i. 61. 15). But at the same time what changes! The gods 
assemble and sing a hymn to Garuda, the epic form of Garut- 
man, the heavenly bird, who here steals the soi7ia vainly guarded 

1 Compare the four hymnlets to Agni in i. 232, 7 ff. 

2 After the mention of the thirty-three gods, and Vishnu ' born after them,' it is 
said that the Agvins, plants, and animals, are Guhyakas (vs. 40), though in vs. 35 : 
*' Tvashtar's daughter, the \Yife of Savitar, as a mare (vadava) bore in air the two 
A§vins" (see above), in Vedic style. For Qruti compare iii. 207. 47; 208. 6, 11. 


by the gods. Garuda, too, is Prajapati, Indra, and so forth. ^ 
The gods are no longer divinities distinct from the dead 
Fathers, for they are "identical in being." So Agni says when 
the latter is cursed by Bhrigu : " The divinities and the Manes 
are satisfied by the oblation in fire. The hosts of gods are waters, 
so, too, are the ]\Ianes. The feasts of the new and full moon 
belong to the gods with the Manes ; hence the Manes are 
divinities and the divinities are Manes. Thev are of one 
being {ekibhutas). I (Fire) am the mouth of both, for both eat 
the oblation poured upon me. The Manes at the new moon, the 
gods at the full, are fed by my mouth" (i. 7. yff.)." Such gods 
the epic hero fears not (i. 227. 38 ff.). Hymns to them are par- 
alleled by hymns to snakes, as in i. 3. i34ff., against whom is 
made the "■' sarpasatti-am (snake sacrifice) of the Puranas" 
(i. 51. 6). Divinity is universal. Knights are as divine as the 
divinest god, the All-god. Arjuna, the god-born man, to whom 
Krishna reveals the Divine Song, is himself god.^ In this case 
wdiether god becomes human, or vice versa., no one knows. 

Under the all-embracing cloak of pantheism the heart of the 
epic conceals many an ancient rite and superstition. Here is 
the covenant of blood, the covenant of death (represented by 
the modern ' sitting ' ^), and the covenant of water, which sym- 
bolizes both friendship and the solemnity of the curse. The 
former are illustrated by Bhima's drinking blood as a sign that 
he will fulfil his vow/ and by Rama lying by Ocean to die 
unless Ocean grants his wish. Of the water-rite that of offer- 

1 i, 23. 15 ff. His name is explained fancifully in 30. 7. 

2 It is at the funeral feasts to the Manes that the Mahabharata is to be recited 
(i. 62. i:). 

3 Arjuna is an old name of Indra, and in the epic Arjuna is Indra's son. 

4 The legal dJiania or sitting at a debtor's door, which still obtains in India, is, 
so far as we know, not a very ancient practice. But its application in the case of 
heralds (who become responsible) is epic. 

5 This is the covenant (with friends) of revenge ; the covenant of mutual protec- 
tion in the sacrifice is indicated by the ' protection covenant' of the gods (see the 
chapter on Brahmanism above, p. 192). 


ing water in hospitality and as a form in reception of gifts is 
general ; that of cursing by ' touching water ' {^fdry iipasprcya), 
occurs in iii. lo. 32. For this purpose holy-grass and other sym- 
bols are known also,^ and formulae yield only in potency to 
love-philters and magic drugs. Another covenant besides 
those just noticed seems to lie concealed in the avoidance of 
the door when injury is intended. If one goes in by the door 
he is a guest who has anticipated hospitality, and then he dares 
not refuse the respect and offering of water, etc. which makes 
the formal pact of friendship. If, on the contrary, he does not 
go in by the door he is not obliged to receive the offering, and 
may remain as a foe in the house (or in the city) of his enemy, 
with intent to kill, but without moral wrong. This may be im- 
plied in the end of the epic, where Agvatthaman, intent on 
secret murder of his foe, is prevented by god Civa from enter- 
ing in at the gate, but going in by stealth, and ' not by the 
door ' of the camp, gets to his foe, who lies asleep, and kills 
him (x. 8. 10). This might be thought, indeed, to be merely 
strategic, but it is in accordance with the strict law of all the 
law-books that one, in ordinary circumstances, shall avoid to 
enter a town or a house in any other way than through the 
door (Manu, iv. 73; Gaut. 9. 32, etc.), and we think it has a 
moral significance, for this a-dvara (non-door) rule occurs 
again in the epic in just the circumstances we have described. 
The heroes in this case are not afraid of their foe, who is in 
his town. They insult every one as they approach, but they 
find some other way of getting in than by passing through the 
gate, for the express purpose of being morally able to make the 
kins: fi2:ht with them after thev have entered his citv. And 
they cite the rule 'according to law,' which is that one may 
enter his foe's house by a-dvara, 'not by door,' but his friend's 
house only ' by door.' As they have not entered ' by door ' they 
say they may refuse the hospitality which the king urges them 

1 See an essay on the Ruling Caste in the epic, in J AOS. xiii. 232 ff. 


to accept, and so they kill him (ii. 21. 14, 53). Stepping in 
through the door seems, therefore, to be a tacit agreement that 
one will not injure the resident.^ 

In the epic, again, fetishism is found. The student of the 
'science of war,' in order to obtain his teacher's knowledge 
when the latter is away, makes a clay image of the preceptor 
and worships this clay idol, practicing arms before it (i. 132. 
T^'^. Here too is embalmed the belief that man's life may be 
bound up with that of some inanimate thing, and the man 
perishes with the destruction of his psychic prototype (iii. 135). 
The old ordeals of fire and water are recognized. " Fire does 
not burn the house of good men." " If (as this man asserts) 
he is Varuna's son, then let him enter water and let us see if 
he win drown " (iii. 134. 27 ff.). A human sacrifice is per- 
formed (iii. 127); although the priest who performs it is cast 
into hell {ib. 128).^ The teaching in regard to hells is about 
the same wdth that already explained in connection with the 
law-books, but the more definite physical interpretation of hell 
as a hole in the ground (^garta, just as in the Rig Veda) is 
retained. Agastya sees his ancestors 'in a hole,' which they 
call ' a hell ' {iiirayd). This is evidently the hell known to the 
law-punsters and epic (i. 74. 39) 2iSputtra, 'the//// hell' from 
which the son (^putrd) delivers {tni). For these ancestors are in 
the ' hole ' because Agastya, their descendant, has not done his 
duty and begotten sons (i. 45. 13; iii. 96. 15); one son being 
'no son ' according to law and epic (i. 100. 68), and all the 
merit of sacrifice being equal to only one-sixteenth of that 
obtained by having a son. The teaching, again, in regard to 

1 Reverend Doctor H. C. Trumbull has kindly called our attention to Roberfs 
Oriental Illustrations^ p. 148 ff., where it is said that in India to-day the threshold is 
sacred. In reference to threshold-offerings, common in the law, Dr. Trumbull's own 
forthcoming book on Covenants may be compared. 

2 But these are by no means the last examples of human sacrifices. Several of 
the modern Hindu sects have caused to be performed such sacrifices, even in this cen- 


the Fathers themselves (the Manes), while not differing materi- 
ally from the older view, offers novelties which show how little 
the absorption-theory had taken hold of the religious con- 
sciousness. The very fact that the son is still considered to 
be as necessary as ever (that he may offer food to his ances- 
tors) shows that the believer, whatever his professed faith, ex- 
pects to depend for bliss hereafter upon his post moj'tan meals, 
as much as did his fathers upon theirs. In the matter of the 
burial of the dead, one finds, what is antique, that although 
according to the formal law only infants are buried, and adults 
are burned, yet was burial known, as in the Vedic age. And the 
still older exposure of the body, after the Iranian fashion, is 
not only hinted at as occurring here and there even before the 
epic, but in the epic these forms are all recognized as equally 
approved: "When a man dies he is burned or buried or ex- 
posed " {iiikrsyate)^ it is said in i. 90. 17; and the narrator 
goes on to explain that the "hell on earth," of which the 
auditor "has never heard" (vs. 6) is re-birth in low bodies, 
speaking of it as a new doctrine. " As if in a dream remain- 
ing conscious the spirit enters another form"; the bad be- 
coming insects and worms ; the good going to heaven by 
means of the "seven gates," viz., penance, liberality, quietism, 
self-control, modesty, rectitude, and mercy. This is a union 
of two views, and it is evidently the popular view, that, namely, 
the good go to heaven while the bad go to new existence in a 
low form, as opposed to the more logical conception that both 
alike enter new forms, one good, the other bad. Then the 
established stadia, the pupil, the old teaching {iipaiiishad) of 
the householders, and the wood-dwellers are described, with 
the remark that there is no uniformity of opinion in regard to 
them ; but the ancient view crops out again in the statement 

1 This can hardly mean 'put out on the river' as has been suggested as an expla- 
nation of tlie corpse ' thrown aside ' in accordance with the earhcr text, A V. xviii. 2. 
34 {parofia), where the dead are 'buried, thrown aside, burned, or set out.' 


that one who dies as a forest-hermit ''establishes in bliss " ten 
ancestors and ten descendants. In this part of the epic the Pun- 
jab is still near the theatre of events, the 'centre region ' being 
between the Ganges and Jumna (i. 87. 5); although the later 
additions to the poems show acquaintance with all countries, 
known and unknown, and with peoples from all the world. 
Significant in xii. 61. i, 2 is the name of the third order 
bhdikshyacaryani ' beggarhood ' (before the forest-hermit and 
after the householder). 

It was said above that the departed Fathers could assume a 
mortal form. In the formal classification of these demigods 
seven kinds of jNIanes are enumerated, the title of one subdivi- 
sion being 'those embodied.' Brahma is identified with the 
Father-god in connection with the Manes : " All the ]\Ianes 
worship Prajapati Brahma," in the paradise of Prajapati, 
where, by the way, are (Jiva and Vishnu (ii. 11. 45, 50, 52; 8. 
30). According to this description 'kings and sinners,' to- 
gether with the Manes, are found in Yama's home, as well as 
"those that die at the solstice" (ii. yff.; 8. 31). Constantly 
the reader is impressed with the fact that the characters of the 
epic are acting and thinking in a way not conformable to the 
idea one misiht form of the Hindu from the law. We have 
animadverted upon this point elsewhere in connection with 
another matter. It is this factor that makes the study of the 
epic so invaluable as an oftset to the verisimilitude of belief, even 
as belief is taught (not practiced) in the law\ There is a very 
old rule, for instance, against slaughtering animals and eating 
meat; while to eat beef is a monstrous crim.e. Yet is it plain 
from the epic that meat-eating was customary, and Yedic texts 
are cited (/// cmtis) to prove that this is permissible ; while a 
king is extolled for slaughtering cattle (iii. 208. 6-1 1). It is 
said out and out in iii. 313. 86 that 'beef is food,' gaur aniiam. 
Deer are constantly eaten. There is an amusing protest 
against this practice, which was felt to be irreconcilable with 


the ahimsa (non-injury) doctrine, in iii. 258, where the rem- 
nant of deer left in the forest come in a vision and beg to be 
spared. A dispute between gods and seers over vegetable 
sacrifices is recorded, xii. 338. Again, asceticism is not the 
duty of a warrior, but the epic hero practices asceticism 
exactly as if he were a priest, or a Jain, although the warning 
is given that a warrior ' obtains a better lot' (Jokd) by dying in 
battle than by asceticism. The asceticism is, of course, exag- 
gerated, but an instance or two of what the Hindu expects in 
this regard mav not be without interest. The warrior who be- 
comes an ascetic eats leaves, and is clothed in grass. For one 
month he eats fruits every third day (night); for another 
month every sixth day ; for another month every fortnight ; 
and for the fourth month he lives on air, standing on tiptoe 
with arms stretched up. Another account says that the knight 
eats fruit for one month ; water for one month ; and for the 
third month, nothing (iii. 2)3' 73; 38. 22-26; 167). One may 
compare with these ascetic practices, which are not so ex- 
aggerated, in fact, as might be supposed,^ the 'one-leg' prac- 
tice of virtue, consisting in standing on one leg, ekapadena, for 
six months or longer, as one is able (i. 170. 46; iii. 12. 13-16). 
Since learning the Vedas is a tiresome task, and ascetic prac- 
tice makes it possible to acquire anything, one is not surprised 
to find that a devotee undertakes penance with this in view, 
and is only surprised when Indra, who, to be sure has a personal 
interest in the Vedas, breaks in on the scene and rebukes the 
ascetic with the words: "Asceticism cannot teach the Vedas; 
go and be tutored by a teacher" (iii. 135. 22). 

One finds in the epic the old belief that the stars are 
the souls of the departed,^ and this occurs so often that it is 

1 It is assumed in xii. 364. 2 that *• leaves and air " are food enough for a great 
saint. Compare below the actual asceticism of modern devotees. 

2 iii. 25. 14 : saptarsayas . . . divi viprahhanti. Compare ib. 261. 13, and the apoca- 
lypse in vii. 192. 52 ff., where Drona's soul ascends to heaven, a burning fire like a 

EARLY 11 I AW U ISM. 367 

another sign of the comparative newness of the pantheistic 
doctrine. When the hero, Arjuna, goes to heaven he ap- 
proaches the stars, " which seen from earth look small on 
account of their distance," and finds them to be self-luminous 
refulgent saints, royal seers, and heroes slain in battle, some of 
them also being nymphs and celestial singers. All of this is 
in contradiction both to the older and to the newer systems of 
eschatology ; but it is an ancient belief, and therefore it is pre- 
served. Indra's heaven,-^ AmaravatI, lies above these stars." 
No less than five distinct beliefs are thus enunciated in regard 
to the fate of good men after death. If they believe in the 
All-god they unite with him at once. Or they have a higher 
course, becoming gradually more elevated, as gods, etc., and 
ultimately ' enter ' the All-god. Again they go to the world of 
Brahma. Again they go to Indra's heaven. Again they be- 
come stars. The two last beliefs are the oldest, the braJwia- 
loka belief is the next in order of time, and the first-mentioned 
are the latest to be adopted. The hero of the epic just walks 
up to heaven, but his case is exceptional. 

While angels and spirits swarm about the world in every 
shape from mischievous or helpful fairies to Rahu, w^hose head 
still swallows the sun, causing eclipses (i. 19. 9), there are a 
few that are especially conspicuous. Chief of the good spirits, 
attendants of Indra, are the Siddhas," 'saints,' w^io occasion- 
ally appear to bless a hero in conjunction with 'beings invis- 

sun ; in sharp contrast to the older ' thumbkin ' soul which Yama receives and car- 
ries off in tlie tale of Satyavant. Compare also ArundhatI in i. 233. 29. 

1 Described, as above, as a place of singers and dancers, where are the Vedic gods 
and sages, but no sinners or cowards (iii. 42. 34 ff.). 

- From another point of view the stars are of interest. They are favorable or 
unfavorable, sentient, kind, or cruel ; influential in man's fate. Compare iii. 200. 84, 
8;, where the sun is included with Xhitgrahas (planets) which influence men, and ib. 
209. 21, tiilyanaksairamahgala. 

^ Other of Indra's spirits are the singers, Gandharvas and Apsarasas; also the 
horse-headed Kinnaras and Caranas, who, too, are singers ; while later the Vidya- 
dharas telong both to Indra and to Qiva. In modern times the South Indian Sit- 
tars, ' saints,' take their name from the Siddhas. 


ible ' (iii. 37. 21). Their name means literally 'blessed' or 
' successful,' and probably, like the seers, Rishis, they are the 
departed fathers in spiritual form. These latter form various 
classes. There are not only the 'great seers,' and the still 
greater ' /v-^//;;/<7-seers,' and the 'god-seers,' but there are even. 
' devil-seers,' and 'king-seers,' these being spirits of priests of 
royal lineages.-^ The evil spirits, like the gods, are sometimes 
grouped in threes. In a blessing one cries out: "Farewell 
{svasti gacchahy ajiamayani) ; I entreat the Vasus, Rudras, Adi- 
tyas, Marut-hosts and the All-gods to protect thee, together 
with the Sadhyas ; safety be to thee from all the evil beings 
that live in air, earth, and heaven, and from all others that dog 
thy path." ^ In xii. 166. 61 ff. the devils fall to earth, moun- 
tains, water, and other places. According to i. 19. 29. it is 
not long since the Asuras were driven to take refuge in earth 
and salt water.^ 

These creatures have every kind of miraculous powder, 
whether they be good or bad. Hanuman, famed in both 
epics, the divine monkey, with whom is associated the divine 
'king of bears' Jambavan (iii. 2S0. 23), can grow greater than 
mortal eye can see (iii. 150. 9). He is still w-orshipped as a 
great god in South India. As an illustration of epic spiritism 
the case of Ilvala may be taken. This devil, daifeya, had a 
trick of cooking his embodied younger brother, and giving 
him to saints to eat. One saint, supposing the flesh to be 
mutton (here is saintly meat-eating !), devours the dainty viand ; 
upon \vhich the devil ' calls ' his brother, who is obliged to 
come, whether eaten or not, and in coming bursts the saint 

1 In ddnavarsi there is apparently the same sort of compound as in dcvarsi 
and bra/wiarsi, all associated with the siddhas in iii. 169. 23. But possibly 
' demons and seers ' may be m.eant, 

2 iii. 37. 32-35 {prapadye vicvedez'dn .'). 

3 Weber finds in the Asuras' artisan, Asura Maya, a reminiscence of Ptolemaios, 
He is celebrated in i. 22S. 39, and ii. i, and is the general leader of the ddnavas, 
demons, perhaps originally a folk-name of enemies. 


that has eaten him (iii. 96). This is folk-lore ; but what reli- 
gion does not folk-lore contain ! So, personified Fate holds 
its own as an inscrutable power, mightier than others/ There 
is another touch of primitive religious feeling which reminds 
one of the usage in Iceland, where, if a stranger knocks at the 
door and the one within asks ' who is there ? ' the guest an- 
swers, 'God.' So in the epic it is said that ' every guest is god 
Indra' (^Parjanyo 'juidJiusai'ncarau^ iii, 200. 123. In the epic 
Parjanya, the rain-god, and Indra are the same). Of popular 
old tales of religious bearing may be mentioned the retention 
and elaboration of the Brahmanic deluge-story, with ]\Ianu as 
Noah (iii. 1S7) ; the Acvins' feats in rejuvenating (iii. 123) ; 
the combats of the gods with the demons (Namuci, ^ambara, 
Vala, Vritra, Prahlada, Naraka), etc. (iii. 168). 

Turning now to some of the newer traits in the epic, one 
notices first that, while the old sacrifices still obtain, especially 
the horse-sacrilice, the rajasuya and the less meritorious vaja- 
peya, together with the monthly and seasonal sacrifices, there 
is in practice a leaning rather to new sacrifices, and a new 
cult. The soma is scarce, and the putika plant is accepted as 
its substitute (iii, 35. t^t^ in a matter-of-course way, as if this 
substitution, perm.itted of old by law, were now common. The 
sacrifice of the widow is recognized, in the case of the wives 
of kings, as a means of obtaining bliss for a woman, "-^ for the 
religion of the epic is not entirely careless of woman. Some- 
what new, however, is the self-immolation of a man upon the 
pyre of his son. Such a case is recorded in iii. 137. 19, 
where a father burns his son's body, and then himself enters 

1 See below. The formal division is, ddiva, hatha, karvia. i.e.. man's fate depends 
on gods, Fate, and his own acts ; although hatha, Fate, is often implied in ddiva, 'the 
divine power.' But they are separated, for example, in iii. 183. 86. 

2 Compare the tales and xii. 148. 9, satl (suttee). In regard to the horse-sacrifice, 
compare Yama's law as expounded to Gautama : " The acts by which one gains bliss 
hereafter are austerities, purity, truth, worship of parents, and the horse-sacrifice." 
xii. 129. 9, 10. 


the fire. New also, of course, are the sectarian festivals 
and sacrifices ; and pronounced is the gain in the godhead of 
priests, king, parents, elder brother, and husband. The priest 
has long been regarded as a god, but in the epic he is god of 
gods, although one can trace even here a growth in adulation.^ 
The king, too, has been identified before this period wdth the 
gods. But in the epic he is to his people an absolute divinity,^ 
and so are the parents to the son ; ^ while, since the elder 
brother is the same with a father, when the father is dead the 
younger brother worships the elder. So also the wife's god is 
her husband ; for higher even than that of the priest is the 
husband's divinity (iii. 206). The wife's religious service is 
not concerned with feasts to the Manes, with sacrifice to the 
gods, nor with studying the Veda. In all these she has no 
part. Her religion is to serve her husband (iii. 205. 23), and 
to die, if worthy of the honor, on his funeral pyre. Other- 
wise the epic woman has religious practices only in visiting the 
holy watering-places, which now abound, and in reading the 
epic itself. For it is said of both practices: "Whether man or 
woman read this book (or ' visit this holy pool ') he or she is 
freed from sin" (so in iii. 82, ;^t,: "Every sin committed since 
birth by man or woman is absolved by bathing in holy Push- 
kara"). It may be remarked that as a general thing the dei- 
ties invoked by women are, by predilection, female divinities, 
some of them beins: mere abstractions, while ' the Creator ' is 

1 Compare iii. 200. S8, even prakrta priests are divine and terrible (much more in 
later books). Woxt prakrta, vulgar, is opposed to sainskria, refined, priests. 

2 iii. 1S5. 26-31. 

3 " Mj'^ father and mother are my highest idol ; I do for them what I do for idols. 
As the three and thirty gods, with Indra foremost, are revered of all the world, so 
are my parents revered by me" (iii. 214. 19, 20). The speaker further calls themi 
paramam bra/nna, absolute godhead, and explains his first remark by saying that he 
offers fruits and flowers to his parents as if they were idols. In iv. 68. 57 a man 
salutes {abhivddyd) his father's feet on entering into his presence. For the worship 
of parents compare xii. 108. 3; 12S. 9, 10 ; 267. 31, xiii. 75. 26 : "heroes in obedience 
to the'' 


often the only god in the woman's list, except, of course, the 
priests : " Reverence to priests, and to the Creator . . . May 
Hri, (Jri (Modesty and Beauty), Fame, Glory, Prosperity, 
Uma (Qiva's wife), Lakshmi (Vishnu's wife), and also Saras- 
vati, (may all these female divinities) guard thy path, because 
thou reverest thy elder brother," is a woman's prayer (iii. 37. 


Of the sectarian cults just mentioned the bralunajnaha^ i. 

164. 20, elsewhere referred to, is the all-caste"" feast in honor 
of Brahma (or of the Brahmans); as ib. 143. 3 one finds ^^saniaja 
in honor of Civa ; and distinctly in honor of the same god of 
horror is the sacrifice, i.e.^ immolation, of one hundred kings, 
who are collected "in the temple of Civa," to be slaughtered 
like cattle in Magadha (ii. 15. 23) ; an act which the heroes of 
the epic prevent, and look upon with scorn.^ As a substitute 
for the 7-aJasuya, which may be connected with the human sac- 
rifice {Ind. St?'eifen, i. 61), but is the best sacrifice because it 
has the best largesse (iii. 255. 12), the Vaishnava is suggested 
to Duryodhana. It is a great sattram or long sacrifice to 
Vishnu {ib. 15 and 19); longer than a Vishnuprabodha (26 Oct.). 
There is a Smriti rite described in iii. 198. 13 as a svastivdamain^ 
a ceremony to obtain a heavenly chariot which brings prosperity, 
the priests being invoked for blessings {svasW). Quite mod- 
ern, comparatively speaking, is the cult of holy pools ; but it is 
to be observed that the blessings expected are rarely more 
than the acquirement of braJuna-\\ox\^'s>, so that the institution 
seems to be at least older than the sectarian religions, although 
naturally among the holy pools is intruded a Vishnu-pool. 
This religious rite cannot be passed over in silence. The 
custom is late Brahmanic (as above), and still survives. It 

1 The marked Brahma Creator-worship is a bit of feminine rehgious conservatism 
(see below). 

2 Weber has shown that men of low caste took a subordinate part even in the 
rajasilya sacrifice. 

3 In ii. iS. there is a brand-new festival appointed in honor of a female fiend, etc. 


has been an aspect of Hindu religion for centuries, not only in 
the view taken of the pools, but even occasionally in the place 
itself. Thus the Ganges, Gaya, Prayaga, and Kuru-Piain are 
to-day most holy, and they are mentioned as among the 
holiest in the epic catalogue.^ Soma is now revamped by a 
bath in a holy pool (ix. 35. 75). As in every antithesis of act 
and thought there are not lacking passages in the epic which 
decry the pools in comparison with holy life as a means of salva- 
tion. Thus in iii. 82. 9 ff., the poet says : ''The fruit of pil- 
grimage (to holy pools) — he whose hands, feet, and mind are 
controlled ; - he who has knowledge, asceticism, and fame, he 
gets all the fruit that holy pools can give. If one is averse 
from receiving gifts, content, freed from egoism, if one injures 
not, and acts disinterestedly, if one is not gluttonous, or carnal- 
minded,, he is freed from sin. Let one (not bathe in pools but) 
be -without wrath, truthful, firm in his vows, seeing his self in 
all beings." This is, however, a protest little heeded.^ Pil- 
grimage is made to pool and plain, to mountain, tree, and 
river. Even then, as now. of all pilgrimages that to Ganges 
was most esteemed : '• Originally all were holy ; in the second 
age Pushkara'^ was holy; in the third age the Plain of the 
Kurus was holy ; and in this age Ganges is holy" (iii. 85. 90).^ 
Besides Ganges, the Plain of the Kurus and Prayaga, the junc- 
tion of Ganges and Jumna, get the highest laudation. Other 
rivers, such as the Gonial and Sarasvati, are also extolled, and 

1 iii. 84. 83 (87. 11). We see the first idea in the injunction of Indra to 'wander,' 
as told in the tale of Dogstail in the Brahmana (see above). 

2 The usual formula (also Avestan) is ' pure in thought, speech, and act.' The 
comparison of the six senses to unrestrained wild horses is familiar (iii. 211. 24). 

3 There is, further, no unanimity in regard to the comparative value of holy 
places. In xii. 152. 11, Sarasvati is holier than Kurukshetra, etc. 

4 At Pushkara is Brahma's only (?) shrine — the account is legendary, but half 
historical. The modern shrine at Ajmir seems to be meant. 

5 Ganges, according to epic legend, was a goddess who sacrificed herself for men 
when the earth was parched and men perished. Then Ganges alone of immortals 
took pity on men. and flinging herself from heaven became the stream, divine. Her 
name among the gods is Alakananda, the ' Blessed Damosel.' 


the list is very long of places which to see or to bathe in releases 
from sin. " He who bathes in Ganges purifies seven descend- 
ants.-^ As long as the bones of a man touch Ganges-water so 
long that man is magnified in heaven." Again : " No place of 
pilgrimage is better than Ganges ; no god is better than Vishnu ; 
nothing is better than hrahma — so said the sire of the gods " 
(iii. 85. 94-96). The very dust of Kuru-Plain makes one 
holy, the sight of it purifies ; he that lives south of the Saras- 
vati, north of the Drishadvati (/>., in Kuru-Plain), he lives in 
the third heaven (iii. Z^^. 1-3 = 203-205 -). This sort of expia- 
tion for sin is implied in a more general way by the remark that 
there are three kinds of purity, one of speech, one of act, and 
one of water (iii. 200. 82). But in the epic there is still 
another means of expiating sin, one that is indicated in the 
Brahmanic rule that if a woman is an adultress she destroys 
half her sin by confessing it (as above), where, however, 
repentance is rather implied than commanded. But in the epic 
Purana it is distinctly stated as a Cruti, or trite saying, that 
if one repents he is freed from his sin ; na tat kuryaiii piuiar is 
the formula he must use, ' I will not do so again,' and then he 
is released from even the sin that he is going to commit a sec- 
ond time, as if by a ceremony — so is the Cruti in the laws, 
dhanmis (iii. 207. 51, 52).^ Confession to the family priest is 
enjoined, in xii. 268. 14, to escape punishment. 

1 In iii. 87. 10, "ten descendants and ten ancestors." The epic, i. 170. 19, regards 
the SarasvatI and Jumna as parts of the sevenfold Ganges, which descends from 
the heavens as these three, and also as the Vitastha (Rathastha), Sarayu, Gomati, 
and Gandaki ; being itself ' Vaitaranl among the Manes.' So xii. 322. 32. 

2 According to the commentator the " (northern altar of the Father-god) Kuru- 
kshetra-Samantapaficakam, between Tarantuka, Arantuka, Ramahrada, and iNIaca- 
kruka," mentioned in iii. 83. 208, lies in Benares; but this must be a late addition, 
as Kurukshetra's position is without doubt. Compare i. 2. i ff. ; ix. 53. i, 23-25. 

3 In ib. 47, mahd drtir ivd'dhmdtah papas, there is an interesting reminiscence of 
Rig Veda, vii. 89. 2. The rules of virtue are contained in \'edas and law-books, and 
the practice of instructed men, ih. S3 (the threefold sign of righteousness'). A 
Qruti cited from dharmas is not uncommon, but the latter word is not properly used 
in so wide a sense. See note below, p. 3 78. 


Two other religious practices in the epic are noteworthy. 
The first is the extension of idolatry in pictures. The amiable 
'goddess of the house ' is represented, to be sure, as a Rakshasi, 
or demoniac power, whose name is Jara. But she was created 
by the Self-existent, and is really ver}- friendly, under certain 
conditions : " Whoever delineates me with faith in his house, 
he increases in children ; otherwise he would be destroyed." 
She is w^orshipped, i.e., her painted image is worshipped, with 
perfumes, flowers, incense, food, and other enjoyable things 
(ii. 1 8).-^ Another practice that is very common is the worship 
of holy trees. One may compare the banyan at Bodhi Gaya 
with the 'worshipful ' village-tree of ii. 24. 23. Seldom and late 
is the use of a rosary mentioned {e.g.., iii. 112. 5, akshamala., 
elsewhere aksha), although the word is employed to make an 
epithet of ^^^a, Akshamalin.'-^ 

As has been said already, an extraordinary power is ascribed 
to the mere repetition of a holy text, mantra. These are 
applied on all occasions without the slightest reference to the 
subject. By means of mantra one exorcises ; recovers weap- 
ons ; calls gods and demons, etc.^ When misfortune or disease 
arrives it is invariably ascribed to the malignant action of a 
devil, although the karjua teaching should suggest that it was 
the result of a former misdeed on the victim's part. But the 
very iteration, the insistence on new explanations of this doctrine, 
show that the popular mind still clung to the old idea of demo- 
niac interference. Occasionally the naivete with which the 

1 Some scholars see in the use of the verb//V, a Vedic picturing of gods ; but in all 
instances where this occurs it may be only the poet's mind-picture of the god ' adorned ' 
with various glories. 

2 In vii. 201. 69, Qiva wears an akshmndld. In xii. 38. 23, the Carvaka wears an 
aksha, for he is disguised as a b/iiksJui, beggar. 

s It must be remembered that the person using the mantra probably did not 
understand what the words meant. The epic says, in fact, that the Vedas are 
unintelligible : bi'alrma pracuracchalatn, xii. 329. 6. But an older generation 
thought the same. In Xirukta, i. 15, Kautsa is cited as saying that the mantras 
are meaningless. 


effect of a 77iantra is narrated is somewhat amusing, as, for 
instance, wlien the heroine Krishna faints, and the by-standers 
" slowly " revive her " by the use of demon-dispelling mantras^ 
rubbing, water, and fanning" (iii. 144. 17). All the weapons 
of the heroes are inspired with and impelled by viaiitras. 

Sufficient insight into the formal rules of morality has 
baen given in the extracts above, nor does the epic in this 
regard differ much from the law-books. Every man's first duty 
is to act, inactivity is sinful. The man that fails to win a good 
reputation by his acts, a warrior, for example, that is devoid of 
fame, a ' man of no account,' is a hhumivardhana., a.)^9o^ apovpr]<;, 
a cumberer of earth (iii. 35. 7). A proverb says that man 
should seek virtue, gain, and pleasure; "virtue in the morn- 
ing ; gain at noon ; pleasure at night," or, according to another 
version, " pleasure when young, gain in middle-age, and virtue 
in the end of life" (iii. ^t,. 40,41). " A^irtue is better than 
immortality and life. Kingdom, sons, glory, w^ealth, all this 
does not equal one-sixteenth part of the value of truth " 
(//a 34. 22).-^ One very strong summing up of a discourse on 
virtuous behavior ends thus : " Truth, self-control, asceticism, 
generosity, non-injury, constancy in virtue — these are the 
means of success, not caste nor family " (j'd^i, kula., iii. 181. 42). 

A doctrine practiced, if not preached, is that of blood- 
revenge. " The unavenged shed tears, which are wiped away 
by the avenger" (iii. 11. 66); and in accordance with this feel- 
ing: is the statement : "I shall satiate mv brother with his 
murderer's blood, and thus, becoming free of debt in respect of 
my brother, I shall win the highest place in heaven " {ib. 34, 35). 

As of old, despite the new faith, as a matter of priestly, for- 
mal belief, all depends on the sacrifice : " Law comes from 
usage ; in law are the Vedas established ; by means of the 
Vedas arise sacrifices ; by sacrifice are the gods established ; 

1 Compare xii. 174. 46 : " The joy of earth and heaven obtained by the satisfaction 
of desire is not worth one-sixteenth of the bliss of dead desire." 


according to the rule of Vedas, and usage, sacrifices being per- 
formed support the divinities, just as the rules of Brihaspati 
and Uganas support men" (iii. 150. 28, 29). The pernicious 
doctrine of atonement for sin follows as a matter of course : 
" Whatver sin a king commits in conquering the earth is atoned 
for by sacrifices, if they are accompanied with large gifts to 
priests, such as cows and villages." Even gifts to a sacred 
bull have the same effect (iii. -^t^. 78, 79 ; ib. 35. 34 ; iii. 2. 57;, 
the occasion in hand being a king's violation of his oath.^ Of 
these sacrifices a great snake-sacrifice forms the occasion for 
narrating the whole epic, the plot of which turns on the national 
vice of gambling.^ For divine snakes are now even grouped 
wnth other celestial powers, disputing the victory of earthly 
combatants as do Indra and Siirya : " The great snakes were 
on Arjuna's side; the little snakes were for Kama" (viii. 87. 
44, 45).'^ They were (perhaps) the local gods of the Nagas 
(Snakes), a tribe living between the Ganges and Jumna. 

The religion of the epic is multiform. But it stands, in a 
certain sense, as one religion, and from two points of view it is 
worthy of special regard. One may look upon it either as the 
summing up of Brahmanism in the new Hinduism, as the final 
expression of a religion which forgets nothing and absorbs 
everything ; or one may study it as a belief composed of historical 
strata, endeavoring to divide it into its different layers, as they 

1 By generosity the Hindu poet means 'to priests.' In iii. 200, where this is 
elaborated, sixteen persons are mentioned (vs. 4) to whom to give is not meritorious. 

2 Little is known in regard to the play. The dice are thrown on a board, ' odd 
and even' determine the contest here (iii. 34. 5), aynja 2,T\d y2tja. At times speed 
in counting is the way to win (Nala). Dicing is a regular part of the rajasuya sac- 
rifice (Weber, p. 67), but not, apparently, an ancient trait. 

3 The snakes belong to Varuna and his region, as described in v. 98. It is on the 
head of the earth-upholding snake Cesha that Vishnu muses, iii. 203. 12. The rever- 
ence paid to serpents begins to be ritual in the Atharva Veda. Even in the Rig 
Veda there is the deification of the cloud-snake. In later times they answered to the 
Nymphs, being tutelary guardians of streams and rivers (Biihler). In i. 36, (^esha 
Ananta supports earth, and it is told why he does so. 


have been super-imposed one upon another in the course of 
ages. From the latter point of view the Vedic divinities claim 
the attention first. There are still traces of the original power 
of Agni and Surya, as we have shown, and Wind still makes 
with these two a notable triad, ^ whereas Indra, impotent as he 
is, hymnless as he is, — save in the oldest portions of the work, — 
still leads the gods, now godkins, of the ancient pantheon, and 
still, in theory, at least, offers a paradise to the knight that dies 
nobly on the field.- But one sees at once that the preserva- 
tion of the dignity of these deities is due to different causes. 
Indra cannot even save a snake that grasps his hand for safety ; 
he wages war against the demons' 'triple town,' and signally 
fails of his purpose, for the demons are as strong as the gods, 
and there are Danavendras as well as Danavarshis.^ But 
Indra is the figure-head of the whole ancient pantheon, and 
for this reason he plays so constant, if so weak, a role, in the 
epic. The only important thing in connection with him is his 
heaven. As an individual deity Indra lives, on the whole, only 
in the tales of old, for example, in that of his cheating Namuci 
(ix. 43. 32 ff.). Nothing new and clever is told of him which 
would indicate power, only a new trick or two, as when he 
steals from Kama. It is quite otherwise with Agni and 
Surya. They are not so vaguely identified with the one god 
as is ' Indra and the other Vasus.' It is merely because 
these gods are prominently forms of Vishnu that they are 
honored with hymns in the epic. This is seen from the 
nature of the hymns, and also from the fact that it is either as 
fire or as sun that Vishnu destroys at the end of the aeons. 
For it is, perhaps, somewhat daring to say, and yet it seems to 
be the fact, that the solar origin of Vishnu is not lost sight of. 

1 These three are the witnesses for the soul at the judgment, xii. 322. 55. Vayu, 
Wind, is said to be even mightier than Indra, Yama, Indra and Varuna, ib. 155. 9, 10. 

2 But (in a later account) not if he dies ignobly ; for if one is slain by a man of 
low caste he goes to hell. xii. 298. 7. 

3 Demoniac Indras (/.f., demon-leaders) and seers, xii. 166. 26. 


The pantheistic Vishnu is the dtina, and Vishnu, after all, is 
but a form of fire. Therefore is it that the epic Vishnu is per- 
petually lapsing into fire ; while fire and sun are doubly hon- 
ored as special forms of the highest. It is, then, not so much 
on account of a survival of ancient dignity^ that sun and fire 
stand so high, but rather because they are the nearest approach 
to the effulgence of the Supreme. Thus while in one place one 
is told that after seven suns have appeared the supreme gods 
become the fire of destruction and complete the ruin, in another 
ha reads that it is the sun alone which, becoming twelvefold, 
does all the work of the Supreme.^ 

Indra has hymns and sacrifices, but although he has no so 
exalted hymn as comes to his ' friend Agni,' yet (in an isolated 
passage) he has a new feast and celebration, the account of 
which apparently belongs to the first period of the epic, when 
the worship of Indra still had significance. In i. 63, an ludra- 
maha.ox 'glorification of Indra,' is described a festivity extend- 
ing over two days, and marked by the erection of a pole in 
honor of the god — a ceremony which 'even to-day,' it is said, 
is practiced.^ The old tales of the fire-cult are retold, and new 
rites are known."* Thus in iii. 251. 20 ff.. Prince Duryodhana 
resolves to starve to death (oblivious of the rule that ' a suicide 
goes to hell '), and since this is a religious ceremony, he clothes 
himself in old clothes and holy-grass, 'touches w^ater,' and 

1 ' The god of gods,' who rains blood in i. 30. 36, is declared by the commentator 
to be — Parjanya ! The gods are here defending Soma from the heavenly bird, 
Garuda, and nearly die of fright. 

- xii. 313. 1-7, with the same watery finale as is usual. 

3 The morning prayer, etc., to the sun is, of course, still observed, e.g., vii. 186. 4. 
Indra is thanked for victory and invoked for rain (iii. T17. 11 ; i. 25. 7 ; Holtzmann, 
loc. cit. p. 326) in an hymn that is less fulsome than those to Agni and Surya. 

4 iii. 222, Atharvan's rediscovery of fire. .A.s to Qrutis they are probably no more 
valuable than Smritis. The one given in iii. 20S. 11, agnayo mdmsakdmds, seems to 
be adapted {cf. Acv. Gs. iv. i ; the adjective, by the way, is still starred in Pw.). So 
Agv. Gs. i. 15. 9. is repeated Mbha; i. 74. 63, as a " Vedic tfiantragrdma'' {angdd 
angdt sambhavasi, etc.). 


devotes himself with intense application to heaven. Then the 
devils of Rudra called Daiteyas and Danavas, who live under- 
ground ever since they were conquered by the gods, aided by 
priests, make a fire-rite, and with manti-as " declared by Brihas- 
pati and Uganas, and proclaimed in the Atharva-Veda," raise 
a ghost or spirit, who is ordered to fetch Duryodhana to hell, 
which she immediately does.^ The frequent connection of 
Brihaspati with the Atharva-Veda is of interest (above, p. 159). 
He is quite a venerable, if not wholly orthodox, author in the 
epic, and his ' rules ' are often cited. - 

That Vedic deity who, alone of pre-Vedic powers, still holds 
his proud place, Yama, the king of departed spirits, varies in 
the epic according to the period represented. In old tales he 
is still quite Vedic in character ; he takes the dead man's soul 
off to his own realm. But, of course, as pantheism prevails, 
and eschatology becomes confused, Yama passes into a shadow, 
and at most is a bugbear for the wicked. Even his companions 
are stolen from another realm, and one hears now of " King 
Yama with his Rudras " (iii. 237. 11),'" while it is only the 
bad* that go to Yama (iii. 200. 24), in popular belief, although 
this view, itself old, relapses occasionally into one still older, 
in accordance with which {ib. 49) all the world is hounded on 
by Yama's messengers, and comes to his abode. His home ^ 
in the south is now located as being at a distance of 86,000 

1 The devils are on the Prince's side, and wish to keep him from death. The 
proverb is found ib. 252. 2 ; dtviatyagi hy adho yati. The holy-grass is used in 
much the same way when Rama lies down by Ocean, resolved to die or persuade 
Ocean to aid him. The rites (vs. 24) are " in the Upanishad." 

2 According to xii. 59. 80-84, the ' treatise of Brihaspati ' comes from Qiva 
through Brahma and Indra. 

3 In Buddhism Yama's messengers are Yakkhas. Scherman, loc. ciL-p. 57. 

4 Compare ii. 22. 26 : gacrha yamaksayam, ' go to Yama's destruction ' ; whereas 
of a good man it is said, ' I will send Indra a guest ' (vii. 27. 8). 

5 Yai7iasya sada7ia. iii. 11. 66. He now has hells, and he it is who will destroy 
the world. He is called 'the beautiful' (iii. 41. 9), so that he must, if one take this 
Rudrian epithet with the citation above, be loosely (popularly) identified with ^iva, 
as god of death. See the second note below. 


leagues over a terrible road, on which passes a procession of 
wretched or happy mortals, even as they have behaved during 
life ; for example, if one has generously given an umbrella dur- 
ing life he will have an umbrella on this journey, etc. The 
river in Yama's abode is called Pushpodaka, and what each 
drinks out of it is according to what he deserves to drink, cool 
w^ater or filth {Jb. 46, 58).-^ In the various descriptions it is 
not strange to find discordant views even in portions belonging 
approximately to the same period. Thus in contradistinction 
to the prevailing view one reads of Indra himself that he is 
Yajjiasya ncta Namucccca hajita, 'Yama's leader, Namuci's 
slayer' (iii. 25. 10), i.e., those that die in battle go to Yama. 

On the other hand, in the later speculative portions, Yama 
is not death. ''Yama is not death, as some think; he is one 
that gives bliss to the good, and woe to the bad." ^ Death and 
life are foolishness and lack of folly, respectively (literally, ' non- 
folly is non-mortality'), while folly and mortality are counter 
opposites. In pantheistic teaching there is, of course, no real 
death, only change. But death is a female power, personified, 
and sharply distinguished from Yama. Death as a means of 
change thus remains, while Yama is relegated to the guardian- 
ship of hell. The difference in regard to the latter subject, 
between earlier and later views, has been noted above. One 
comparatively early passage attempts to arrange the incongru- 
ous beliefs in regard to samsara (re-birth) and hell on a sort of 

i The old story of a mortal's visit to Yama to learn about life hereafter {<^at. Br. 
xi. 6. I ; Katha Up., of Naciketas) is repeated in xiii. -r. 

'- V. 42. 6 : (^ivah civaiiam a^ivo ^^ivaudui (compare xii. 1S7. 27 : ' only fools say 
that the man is dead'). Dharma (Justice) seems at times to be the same with Yama. 
Mandavya goes to Dharma's sadatia, home (compare Yama's sadand), just as one 
goes to Yama's, and interviews him on the 31 stice of his judgments. As result of the 
angry interview the god is reborn on earth as a man of low caste, and the law is 
established that a child is not morally responsible for his acts till the twelfth year of 
his age (i. loS. 8 ff.). When Ruru agrees to give half his life in order to the restora- 
tion of Pramadvara, his wife, they go not to Yama but to Dharma to see if the 
exchange may be made, and he agrees (i. 9. 11 ff., a mascuHne Savitrl !). 


. sliding scale, thus : " One that does good gets in the next life a 
good birth ; one that does ill gets an ill birth "; more particu- 
larly : "By good acts one attains to the state of gods; by 
' mixed ' acts, to the state of man ; by acts due to confusion of 
mind, to the state of animals and plants {I'iyonisii) ; by sinful 
acts one goes to hell" {ad/ioga??ii, iii. 209, 29-32).-^ Virtue 
must have been, as the epic often declares it to be, a ' subtile 
matter,' for often a tale is told to illustrate the fact that one 
goes to hell for doing what he thinks (mistakenly) to be right. 
Thus Kaucika is sent to hell for speaking the truth, whereas 
he ought to have lied to save life (viii. 69. 53), for he was 
"ignorant of virtue's subtilty."^ A passage (i. 74. 27 ff.) that 
is reflected in Alanu (viii. 85-86) says that Yama Vaivasvata 
takes away the sin of him with whom is satisfied " the one that 
witnesses the act, that stands in the heart, that knows the 
ground"; but Yama tortures him with whom this one (personi- 
fied conscience) is dissatisfied. For "truth is equal to a 
thousand horse-sacrifices; truth is highest kraJwia'"' (Jb. 103, 

Following downward the course of religious development, as 
reflected in the epic, one next finds traces of Brahmanic theol- 
ogy not only in the few passages where (Brahma) Prajapati 
remains untouched by sectarianism, but also in the harking 
back to old formulae. Thus the insistence on the Brahmanical 
sacredness of the number seventeen is preserved (xii. 269. 26 ; 
iii. 210. 20, etc.); and Upanishadic is the "food is Prajapati" 
of iii. 200. 38 (Yama in 40). There is an interesting rehabili- 
tation of the primitive idea of the A^vins in the new ascription 
of formal divinity to the (personified) Twilights (Sandhya) in 
iii. 200. 83, although this whole passage is more Puranic than 

1 The hells are described in xii. 322. 29 ff. The sight of 'golden trees' presages 
death [ib. 44). 

2 The ordinary rule is that " no sin is greater than untruth," xii. 162. 24, modified 
by " save in love and danger of life '" (Lzws. />assi?n). 


epic. From the same source is the doctrine that the fruit of 
action expires at the end of one hundred thousand kalpas 
{ib. vs. i2i). One of the oddest religious freaks in the epic is 
the sudden exaltation of the Ribhus, the Vedic (season-gods) 
artisans, to the position of highest gods. In that heaven of 
Brahma, which is above the Vedic gods' heaven, there are the 
holy seers and the Ribhus, Uhe divinities of the gods'; who 
do not change with the change of kalpas (as do other A'^edic 
gods), iii. 261. 19-23. One might almost imagine that their 
threefoldness was causative of a trinitarian identification with 
a supreme triad ; but no, for still higher is the ' heaven of 
Vishnu' (vs. 37). The contrast is marked between this and 
Ait. Br. iii. 30, where the Ribhus with some difficulty obtain 
the right to drink soma. 

There is an aspect of the epic religion upon which it is nec- 
essary to touch before treating of the sectarian development. 
In the early philosophical period wise priests meet together to 
discuss theological and philosophical questions, often aided, 
and often brought to grief, by the wit of women disputants, 
who are freely admitted to hear and share in the discussion. 
When, however, pantheism, nay, even Vishnuism, or still more, 
Krishnaism, was an accepted fact upon what, then, was the 
wisdom of the priest expended ? Apart from the epic, the best 
intellects of the day were occupied in researches, codifying 
laws, and solving, in rather dogmatic fashion, philosophical 
(theological) problems. The epic presents pictures of scenes 
which seem to be a reflection from an earlier day. But one 
sees often that the wisdom is commonplace, or even silly. In 
dialectics a sophistical subtlety is shown ; in codifying moral 
rules, a tedious triteness ; in amoebic passes of wit there are 
astounding exhibitions, in which the good scholiast sees treas- 
ures of wisdom, where a modern is obliged to take them in 
their literal dulness. Thus in iii. 132. 18, a boy of twelve or 
ten (133. 16), who is divinely precocious, defeats the wise men 


in disputation at a sacrifice, and in the following section 
(134. 7 ff.) silences a disputant who is regarded as one of the 
cleverest priests. The conversation is recorded in full. In 
what does it consist? The opponent mentions a number of 
things which are one ; the boy replies with a verse that gives 
pairs of things ; the other mentions triads ; the child cites 
groups of fours, etc., until the opponent, having cited only one 
half-verse of thirteens, can remember no more and stops, on 
w'hich the child completes the verse, and is declared winner. 
The conundrums which precede must have been considered 
very wdtty, for they are repeated elsewhere : What is that wheel 
which has twelve parts and three hundred and sixty spokes, 
etc. ? Year. What does not close its eye wdien asleep, what 
does not move w^hen it is born, w^hat has no heart, what 
increases by moving 1 These questions form one-half verse. 
The next half-verse gives the answ^ers in order : fish,^ stone, 
river. This wisdom in the form of puzzles and an-swers, 
bi'ahmodya, is very old, and goes back to the Vedic period. 
Another good case in the epic is the demon Yaksha and the 
captured king, who is not freed till he answers certain questions 
correctly.^ But although a certain amount of theologic lore 
may be gleaned from these questions, yet is it of greater inter- 
est to see how the priests discussed when left quietly to their 
own devices. And a very natural description of such a scene 
is extant. The priests " having some leisure " - or vacation 
from their labors in the king's house, sit down to argue, and 
the poet calls their discussion vitandd, i.e., tricky sophistical 
argumentation, the description bearing out the justness of the 
phrase : '' One cried, ' that is so,' and the other, ' it is not so '; 
one cried, ' and that is so,' and the other, ' it must be so '; and 

1 The same scenes occur in Buddhistic writings, where Yakkhas ask conundrums. 
For example, in the Hcviavatasiitta and Alavnkasutta the Yakkha asks what is the 
best possession, what brings bliss, and what is sweetest, to which the answer is : faith, 
law, and truth, respectively. 

'^ Karvidntaram updsantas, i.e., virdmakdlam tipagacchantas. 


some by arguments made weak arguments strong, and strong 
weak ; while some wise ones were always swooping down on 
their opponent's arguments, like hawks on meat." ^ In iii. 2. 15, 
the type of clever priest is ' skilled in Yoga and Sankhya,' who 
inculcates renunciation. This sage teaches that mental diseases 
are cured by Yoga ; bodily, by medicine ; and that desire is the 
root of ill. 

But by far the most interesting theological discussion in the 
epic, if one except the Divine Song, is the conversation of the 
hero and heroine in regard to the cause of earthly happiness. 
This discussion is an old passage of the epic. The very fact 
that a woman is the disputant gives an archaic effect to the 
narration, and reminds one of the scenes in the Upanishads, 
where learned women cope successfully with men in displays 
of theological acumen. Furthermore, the theological position 
taken, the absence of A-'ishnuism, the appeal to the ' Creator ' 
as the highest Power, take one back to a former age. The 
doctrine of special grace, which crops out in the Upanishads,^ 
here receives its exposure by a sudden claim that the converse 
of the theory must also be true, viz., that to those not saved by 
grace and election God is as cruel as He is kind to the elect. 
The situation is as follows : The king and queen have been 
basely robbed of their kingdom, and are in exile. The queen 
urges the king to break the vow of exile that has been forced 
from him, and to take vengeance on their oppressors. The 
king, in reply, sings a song of forgiveness: "Forgiveness is 
virtue, sacrifice, Veda ; forgiveness is holiness and truth ; in the 
world of Brahma are the mansions of them that forgive." This 
song (iii. 29. 36 ff.) only irritates the queen, who at once 
launches into the following interesting tirade (30. i ff.) : " Rev- 

1 ii. 36. 3 ff. The phraseology of vs. 5 is exactly that of tov t^ttw \byov /cpetrrcu 
iroLovcn, but the Pundit's arguments are ' based on the law.' 

2 See above. In a later period (see below) the question arises in regard to the 
part played by Creator and individual in the workings of grace, some claiming that 
man was passive ; some, that he had to strive for grace. 


erence to the Creator and Disposer -^ who have confused thy 
mind ! Hast thou not worshipped with salutation and honored 
the priests, gods, and manes ? Hast thou not made horse- 
sacrifices, the n7/'^j'/7)'rt'-sacrifice, sacrifices of every sort (ypimda- 
rlka^- gosavd) ? Yet art thou in this miserable plight! Verily 
is it an old story {itihasa) that 'the worlds stand under the 
Lord's will.' Following the seed God gives good or ill in the 
case of all beings. Men are all moved by the divinity. Like a 
wooden doll, moving its limbs in the hands of a man, so do all 
creatures move in the Creator's hands. Man is like a bird on 
a string, like a bead on a cord. As a bull is led by the nose, so 
man follows the will of the Creator ; he never is a creature of 
free will (atiiiadhind). Every man goes to heaven or to hell, as 
he is sent by the Lord's will. God himself, occupied with noble 
or with wicked acts, moves about among all created things, an 
unknown power (not known as 'this one '). The blessed God, 
who is self-created, the great forefather {prapitdma/ia), plays 
with his creatures just as a boy plays with toys, putting them 
together and destroying them as he chooses. Not like a father 
is God to His creatures ; He acts in anger. When I see the 
good distressed, the ignoble happy, I blame the Creator who 
permits this inequality. What reward does God get that he 
sends happiness to this sinful man (thy oppressor) ? If it be 
true that only the individual that does the act is pursued by the 
fruit of that act (karma doctrine) then the Lord who has done 
this act is defiled bv this base act of His. If, on the other 
hand, the act that one has done does not pursue and overtake 
the one that has done it, then the only agency on earth is brute 
force (this is the only power to be respected) — and I grieve 
for them that are without it ! " 

1 Perhaps ironical. In v. 175. 32, a woman cries out : " Fie on the Creator for this 
bad hick," conservative in behef, and outspoken in word. 

2 iii. 30. 17. T\\'^ gosava is a 'cow-sacrifice.' The /zindarll-a is not explained 
(perhaps 'elephant-sacrifice'). 


To this plea, which in its acknowledgment of the Creator as 
the highest god, no less than in its doubtful admission of the 
ka7'ma doctrine, is of peculiar interest, the king replies with a 
refutation no less worthy of regard : " Thy argument is good, 
clear and smooth, but it is heterodox {jiastikyani). I have sac- 
rificed and practiced virtue not for the sake of reward, but 
because it was right. I give what I ought to give, and sacrifice 
as I should. That is my only idea in connection with religious 
observances. There is no virtue in trying to milk virtue. Do 
not doubt. Do not be suspicious of virtue. He that doubts 
God or duty goes to hell (confusion), but he that does his duty 
and is free from doubt goes to heaven (becomes immortal). 
Doubt not scriptural authority. Duty is the saving ship. No 
other gets to heaven. Blame not the Lord Creator, who is the 
highest god. Through His grace the faithful gets immortality. 
If religious observances were without fruit the universe would 
go to destruction. People would not have been good for so 
many ages if there had been no reward for it. This is a 
mystery of the gods. The gods are full of mystery and 

The queen, for all the world like that wise woman in the 
Upanishads, whose argument, as we showed in a preceding 
chapter, is cut short not by counter-argument, but by the threat 
that if she ask too much her head will fall off, recants her 
errors at this rebuke, and in the following section, which evi- 
dently is a later addition, takes back what she has said. Her 
new expression of belief she cites as the opinion of Brihaspati 
(32. 61, 62); but this is applicable rather to her first creed of 
doubt. Perhaps in the original version this authority was 
cited at the end of the first speech, and with the interpolation 
the reference is made to apply to this seer. Something 
like the queen's remarks is the doubtful saying of the king 
himself, as quoted elsewhere (iii. 273. 6): ''Time and fate, 
and what will be, this is the only Lord. How else could 


this distress have come upon my wife ? For she has been 
virtuous alwa3's.'' 

We turn now to the great sectarian gods, who eventually unite 
with Brahma to form a pantheistic trinity, a conception which, 
as we shall show, is not older than the fifth or sixth century 
after Christ. 



In the epic the later union of the sectarian gods is still a 
novelty. The two characters remain distinct enough. Vishnu 
and Civa are different gods. But each in turn represents the 
All-god, and consequently each represents the other. The 
Vishnu-worship which grew about Krishna, originally a friend 
of one of the epic characters, was probably at hrst an attempt to 
foist upon Vedic believers a sectarian god, by identifying the 
latter with a Vedic divinity. But, whatever the origin, Krishna 
as Vishnu is revered as the All-god in the epic. And, on the 
other hand, Qiva of many names has kept the marks of Rudra. 
Sometimes one, sometimes another, is taken as the All-god. 
At times they are compared, and then each sect reduces the 
god of the other to an inferior position. Again they are united 
and regarded as one. The Vishnu side has left the best liter- 
ary representation of this religion, which has permeated the 
epic. It is pantheism, but not an impersonal pantheism. The 
Blessed Lord is the All. This is the simple base and crown of 
its speculation. It is like the personal development of Vedan- 
tic philosophy, only it is here degraded by the personality of 
the man-god, who is made the incarnate All-god. The Krishna 
of the epic as a man is a sly, unscrupulous fellow, continually 
suggesting and executing acts that are at variance with the 
knightly code of honor. He is king of Dvaraka and ally of 
the epic heroes. But again, he is divine, the highest divinity, 
the avatar of the All-god Vishnu. The sectaries that see in 
(Jiva rather than in Vishnu the one and only god, have no such 
representative to which to refer. For ^i^^? ^^ ^^^^ historical 
descendant of the Vedic Rudra, — although even in his case 


there is an intrusion of local worship upon an older Vedic be- 
lief, — represencs a terror-god, either the lightning, the fairest of 
the gods, or, when he appears on earth, a divine horror, or, 
again, "a very Iiandsome young man."^ These two religions, 
of Vishnu as "'"rishna and of Civa alone, are not so much 
united in the epic as they are super-imposed upon the older 
worship of Brahma, and, indeed, in such a way that ^iva-wor- 
ship, in a pantheistic sense, appears to be the latest of the 
three beliefs that have influenced the story." 

The personal pantheism of the older Vishnuism has in its 
form and teachings so close a resemblance to the Christian 
religion that it has always had a great attraction for occidental 
readers ; while the real power of its " Divine Song " gives the 
latter a charm possessed by few of the scriptures of India. 
This Divine Song (or Song of the Blessed One) is at present a 
Krishnaite version of an older Vishnuite poem, and this in 
turn was at first an unsectarian work, perhaps a late Upanishad. 
It is accepted by Vishnuites as a kind of New Testament ; and 
with the New Testament it has in truth much in common. It 
must be pointed out at the outset that there is here the closest 
connection with the later Upanishads. The verse, like that of 
the Katha Upanishad (quoted above), which stands almost at 
the beginning of the Song, is typical of the relation of the Song 
to the Upanishad. It will be noticed how the impersonal 
'That,' /.6'., absolute being, hi'ahma^ changes almost at once to 
the personal He iatmd as Lord). As shows the whole Song, 
brahina throughout is understood to be personal.'^ 

1 He appears in different complete manifestations, while Vishnu appears only in 
part, as a ' descent,' avatar ., i.e., Vishnu is incarnate, (^iva appears whole. 

2 The original story perhaps antedates the Brahmanic Brahma. But, for all one 
knows, when the poem was first written Brahma was already decadent as chief 
god. In that case two strata of religious belief have been formally super-imposed, 
Vishnuism and Qivaism. ^ 

3 While agreeing with Telang that the original GIta is an old poem, we cannot 
subscribe to his argument (SBE. viii. p. 19) that the priority of the Saman over the 
Rig Veda is evidence of antiquity; still less to the argument, p. 21, from the castes. 


To understand the religion which reaches its culmination in 
the epic no better course could be pursued than to study the 
whole of the Divine Song. It is, however, too long a production 
to be introduced here in its entirety ; but the following extracts 
give the chief features of the work, than which nothing in 
Hindu literature is more characteristic, in its sublimity as in its 
puerilities, in its logic as in its want of it. It has shared the 
fate of most Hindu works in being interpolated injudiciously, 
so that many of the puzzling anomalies, which astound no less 
the reader than the hero to whom it was revealed, are probably 
later additions. It is a medley of beliefs as to the relation of 
spirit and matter, and other secondary matters ; it is uncertain 
in its tone in regard to the comparative efficacy of action and 
inaction, and in regard to the practical man's means of salvation ; 
but it is at one with itself in its fundamental thesis, that all 
things are each a part of One Lord, that men and gods are but 
manifestations of the One Divine Spirit, which, or rather whom, 
the Vishnuite re-writer identifies with Krishna, as Vishnu's 
present form. 

The Divine Song, as it is revealed in the epic by Vishnu 
(-Krishna) to his favorite knight, Arjuna, begins thus : "Know 
that the 'That ' in which is comprised the 'This ' is indestruc- 
tible. These bodies of the indestructible Eternal One have an 
end : but whoso knows Him as slayer, and whoso thinks Him 
to be slain, these two have not true wisdom. He slays not and 
is not slain. He is not born, he does not die at any time ; nor 
will He, having been born, cease to be. Unborn, everlasting, 
eternal. He, the Ancient One, is not slain when the body is 
slain. As one puts away an old garment and puts on another 
that is new, so He. the embodied (Spirit), puts away the old 
body and assumes one that is new. Everlasting, omnipresent, 

The caste-position of the priest in the Glta is owing to the rehgious exaltation of the 
poem ; and the precedence of Saman is not unusual in the latest portions of the epic 
(see below). 


firm, unchanging is He, the Eternal ; indiscernible is He 
called, inconceivable, unchangeable." ^ 

The Song now turns into a plea that the warrior who is hear- 
ing it should, as one born to be a soldier, be brave and fight, 
lest his sorrow for the slain be taken for fear ; since "nothing is 
better for a warrior than a just fight," and "loss of fame is worse 
than death." Then follows (with the usual inconsequential 
'heaven') "If thou art slain thou wilt obtain heaven, and if 
thou art victorious thou shalt enjoy earth ; therefore, careless 
of pleasure and pain, get ready for the fight, and so thou wilt 
not incur sin. This is the knowledge declared in the Sankhya ; 
hear now that of the Yoga," and the Divine Lord proceeds : 

"Some are pleased with Vedic words and think that there is 
nothing else ; their souls are full of desires ; and they think that 
going to heaven is the chief thing. Yet have the Vedas refer- 
ence only to the three qualities (of which all things partake). 
Be free from the three qualities (do not care for rewards). In 
action, not in fruit, is the chief thing. Do thy work, abiding 
by serene devotion (Yoga), rejecting every tie ; be indift'erent 
to success and failure. Serene devotion is called indifference 
(to such things). Action is lower than devotion of mind. 
Devotion is happiness. Do thou, wise in devotion, abandon 
the fruit that is sprung from action, and, freed from the bonds 
of birth, attain a perfect state." 

Sankhya here means the philosophy of religion ; Yoga is the 
philosophical state of mind, serene indifference, religious sang- 
froid., the practical result of a belief in the Sankhya doctrine 
of the indestructibility of the spirit. In the following there is 
Vedantic teaching, as well as Sankhyan in the stricter sense. 

On the warrior's asking for an explanation of this state of 
equipoise, the Deity gives illustrations of the balanced mind 
that is free from all attachments, serene^emancipated from de- 

1 Compare Manu, i. 7 : " He the subtile, indiscernible, eternal, inconceivable One, 
who makes all creatures." 


sires, self-controlled, and perfectly tranquil. As the knight is 
astonished and confused at the contradiction, action and inac- 
tivity both being urged upon him, the Deity replies that there 
is a twofold law, that of Sankhyas consisting in knowledge- 
devotion, and that of Yogis in action-devotion. Idleness is 
not freedom from action. Freedom from attachment must be 
united with the accomplishment of such acts as should be per- 
formed. The deluded think that they themselves perform acts, 
but acts are not done by the spirit (self) ; they are done only 
by nature's qualities (this is Sankhya doctrine). ''One should 
know the relation between the individual and Supreme Spirit, 
and with tranquil mind perform good acts. Let the deluded 
ones be, who are erroneously attached to action. The wise man 
should not cause those of imperfect knowledge to be unsettled 
in their faith, but he should himself not be attached to action. 
Each man should perform his own (caste) duties. One's own 
duty ill done is better than doing well another man's work." 

The knight now asks what causes one to sin. The Deity 
answers: ''Love and hate; for from love is born hate; and 
from anger, ignorance in regard to right and wrong ; whence 
comes lack of reason, and consequently destruction. The 
knowledge of a man is enwrapped with desire as is fire with 
smoke. Great are the senses ; greater, the mind ; greater still, 
the understanding; greatest of all is 'That'" {l)raJiiiia ; as above 
in the Chandogya). The Deity begins again : ^ "This system 
of devotion I declared to Vivasvant (the sun) ; Vivasvant de- 
clared it to Manu, and Manu to kingly seers." (The same 
origin is claimed for itself in jManu's lawbook.) The knight 
objects, not yet knowing that Krishna is the All-god: "How 
did'st thou declare it first ? thy birth is later than the sun's." 
To whom the Deity: "Many are my births, and I know them 
all ; many too are thine, but thou knowest them not ; unborn 
and Lord of all creatures I assume phenomena, ard am 

1 Possibly the original opening of another poem. 


born by the illusion of the spirit. Whenever there is lack of 
righteousness, and wrong arises, then I emit (create) myself.^ 
1 am born age after age for the protection of the good, for the 
destruction of the wicked, and for the sake of establishino- 
righteousness. Whoso really believes in this my divine birth 
and work, he, when he has abandoned his body, enters no sec- 
ond birth, but enters ]\Ie. Many there are who, from Me aris- 
ing, on Me relying, purified by the penance of knowledge, with 
all affections, fear, and anger gone, enter into my being. As 
they approach Me so I serve them." IMen in all ways follow 
after my path. Some desire the success that is of action, and 
worship gods ; for success that is born of action is speedy in 
the world of men. Know Me as the maker of the four castes, 
know Me as the unending one and not the maker. Action 
stains Me not, for in the fruit of action I have no desire. He 
that thus know^s Me is not bound by acts." So he that has no 
attachment is not bound by acts. His acts become naught. 
Bf'aluna is the oblation, and with hrafuna is it offered ; brahvia 
is in the fire, and by brahvia is the oblation made. Sacrifices 
are of many kinds, but he that sacrifices with knowledge oft'ers 
the best sacrifice He that has faith has knowledge ; he that 
has knowledge obtains peace. He that has no knowledge and 
no faith, whose soul is one of doubt, is destroyed. Action does 
not destroy him that has renounced action by means of indif- 
ference. Of the two, renunciation of action and indifference, 
though both give bliss, indifference in action is better than 
renunciation of action. Children, not Pundits, proclaim Sankhya 
and Yoga to be distinct. He that is devoted to either alone 

1 The avatars of Vishnu are meant. The very knight to whom he speaks is later 
regarded (in South India) as incarnate god, and to-day is worshipped as an avatar 
of Vishnu. The idea of the ' birth-stories ' of the Buddhists is thought by some 
scholars to have been connected historically with the avatars of \'ishnu. 

- This is one of the notes struck in the later Upanishads, the doctrine of 'special 
grace,' originating perhaps still earlier in the \'ac hymn (see above). 

3 That is, one that also has no desires may act (without desiring the fruit of action.) 



finds the reward of both. Renunciation without Yoga is a 
thing hard to get; united with Yoga the seer enters braJwia. 
, . . He is the renouncer and the devotee wlio does the acts 
that ought to be done without relying on the reward of action, 
not he that performs no acts and builds no sacrificial fires. 
Through his self (spirit) let one raise one's self. Conquer self 
by self (spirit). He is the best man who is indifferent to exter- 
nal things, who with equal mind sees (his spirit) self in every- 
thing and everything in self (God as the Spirit). Such an one 
obtains the highest bliss, brahina. Whoso sees Me in all and 
all in Me I am not destroyed for him, and he is not destroyed 
for Me." 

The knight now asks how it fares with a good man who is 
not equal to the discipline of Yoga, and cannot free himself 
entirely from attachment. Does he go to destruction like a 
cloud that is rent, failing on the path that leads to brahma i 
The Deity replies: "Neither in this world nor in the beyond 
is he destroyed. He that acts virtuously does not enter an evil 
state. He obtains the heaven that belongs to the doers of 
good, and after living there countless summers is reborn on 
earth in the family of pure and renowned men, or of pious 
devotees. There he receives the knowledge he had in a 
former body, and then strives further for perfection. After 
many births he reaches perfection and the highest course 
(union with brahma). There are but few that strive for per- 
fection, and of them only one here and there truly knows Me. 
Earth, water, fire, air, space, mind, understanding, and egoism 
(self-consciousness) — so is my nature divided into eight 
parts.^ But learn now my higher nature, for this is my lower one. 
My higher nature is alive, and by it this world is supported. 
I am the creator and destroyer of all the world. Higher 
than I is nothing. On Me the universe is woven like pearls 
upon a thread. Taste am I, light am I of moon and sun, the 

i This is a Sankhya division. 


mystic syllable Dm {aiim), sound in space, manliness in men; 
I am smell and radiance; I am life and heat. Know Me as the 
eternal seed of all beings. I am the understanding of them 
that have understanding, the radiance of the radiant ones. Of 
the strong I am the force, devoid of love and passion; and I 
am love, not opposed to virtue. Know all beings to be from 
Me alone, whether they have the quality of goodness, of pas- 
sion, or of darkness (the three ' qualities ' or conditions of all 
things). I am not in them; but they are in Me. Me, the inex- 
haustible, beyond them, the world knows not, for it is confused 
by these three qualities (conditions); and hard to overcome is 
the divine illusion which envelops Me, while it arises from 
the qualities. Only they pass through this illusion who come 
to Me alone. Wicked men, whose knowledge is taken away 
by illusion, relying on a devilish (demoniac) condition, do 
not come to Me. They that have not the highest knowledge 
worship various divinities; but whatever be the form that any 
one worships with faith I make his faith steady. He obtains 
his desires in worshipping that divinity, although they are 
really bestowed upon him by Me.-^ But the fruit of these men, 
in that they have little wisdom, has its end. He that sacrifices 
to (lesser) gods goes to those gods; but they that worship Me 
come to Me. I know the things that were, that are, and are to 
be; but Me no one knoweth, for I am enveloped in illusion, 
I am the supreme being, the supreme godhead, the supreme 
sacrifice, the Supreme Spirit, braJuna.'''' 

The knight asks " What is brahma, the Supreme Spirit, the 
supreme being, the supreme sacrifice?" The Deity: "The 
supreme, the indestructible, is called braJwia. Its personal ex- 
istence is Supreme Spirit (self). Destructible existence is 

1 This cleverly contrived or profound universality of Vishnuism is one of the 
greatest obstacles to missionary effort. The Vishnuite will accept Christ, but as a 
form of Vishnu, as here explained. Compare below : " Even they that sacrifice to 
other gods really sacrifice to Me." 


supreme being (all except ah7ia). The Person is the supreme 
godhead. I myself am the supreme sacrifice in this body." 

Then follow statements like those in the Upanishads and in 
Manu, describing a day of bfa/ima as a thousand ages; worlds 
are renewed; they that go to the gods find an end of their 
happiness with the end of their world; but they that go to the 
indestructible bra/una, the Deity, the entity that is not de- 
stroyed when all else is destroyed, never again return. There 
are two roads (as in the Upanishads above), one, the northern 
road leading to bra /una; one, the southern road to the moon, 
leading back to earth. At the end of a period of time all 
beings reenter the divine nature (Prakriti^), and at the begin- 
ning of the next period the Deity emits them again and again 
(they being without volition) by the volition of his nature. 
" Through Me, who am the superintendent, nature gives birth to 
all things, and for that cause the world turns about. They of 
demoniac nature recognize me not ; they of god-like nature, 
knowing Me as the inexhaustible source, worship ]\Ie. I 
am the universal Father, the Vedas, the goal, the upholder, 
the Lord, the superintendent, the home, the asylum, the 
friend. I am the inexhaustible seed. I am immortality 
and death. I am being and not-being. I am the sacri- 
fice and he that offers it. Even they that, with faith, sacri- 
fice to other gods, even they (really) sacrifice to Me. To 
them that ever are devout and worship Me with love (faith), 
I give the attainment of the knowledge by which they come to 
]\Ie " (again the doctrine of special grace). " I am the begin- 
ning, the middle, and the end of all created things. I am 
Vishnu among sun-gods; the moon among the stars; Indra 
among the (Vedic) gods; the Saman among the Vedas; among 

1 Prakriti {prakrtt)^ nature ; the term belongs to the Sankhya philosophy, 
which recognizes nature as distinct from spirit, a dualit)', opposed to advdita, the 
non-duality of the Vedanta system, where the Sankhya ' nature ' is represented by 
vidyd, ' illusion.' Otherwise the word Prakrit is the ' natural,' vulgar dialect, opposed 
to Sanskrit, the refined, ' put-together ' language. 


the senses, mind; among created beings, consciousness; among 
the Rudras I am Civa (^ankara); among army-leaders I am 
Skanda; among the great sages I am Bhrigu (who reveals 
Manu's code); among the Siddhas ^ I am Kapila the Muni. . . . 
I am the love that begets; I am the chief (Vasuki and Ananta) 
among the serpents; and among them that live in water I am 
Yaruna; among the Manes I am Aryaman; and I am Yama 
among controllers;^ among demons I am Prahlada . . .; I am 
Rama; I am the Ganges. I am among all sciences the highest 
science (that in regard to the Supreme Spirit); I am the word 
of the speakers; I am the letter A among the letters, and the 
compound of union among the compounds." I am indestructi- 
ble time and I am the Creator. I am the death that seizes all 
and I am the origin of things to be. I am glory, fortune, 
speech, memor}', wdsdom, constancy, and mercy. ... I am the 
punishment of the punisher and the polity of them that would 
win victory. I am silence. I am knowledge. There is no 
end of my divine manifestations." 

The knight now asks to see the real form of the deity, which 
was revealed to him. " If in heaven the glory of a thousand 
suns should appear at once, such would be his glory." 

After this comes the real animus of the Divine Song in its 
present shape. The believer that has faith in this Yishnu is 
even better than the devotee who finds brahma by knowledge. 

The philosophy of knowledge (which here is anything but 
Yedantic) is now communicated to the knight, in the course of 
which the distinction betw^een nature and spirit is explained: 
" Nature, Prakriti, and spirit, Purusha (person), are both without 
beginning. All changes and qualities spring from nature. Na- 
ture is said to be the cause of the body's and the senses' activ- 
ity. Spirit is the cause of enjoyment (appreciation) of pleasure 

1 Saints, literally ' the successful ones.' 

2 Alluding to the later derivation of Yama from yam, control. 

3 "The letter A,"' as in the Upanishads (see above, p. 226). 


and pain ; for the Spirit, standing in nature, appreciates the 
nature-born quaUties. The cause of the Spirit's re-birth is its 
connection with the qualities. (This is Sankhya doctrine, and 
tlie same with that propounded above in regard to activity.) 
The Supreme Spirit is tlie SupjDort and great Lord of all, 
the (itma., while bj-ahma {=prak?'iti) is the womb in which I 
place ^ly seed, and from that is the origin of all things. 
The great bra/ima is the womb, and I am the seed-giving 
father of all the forms which come into beins;. The three 
' qualities ' (conditions, attributes), goodness, passion, and 
darkness, are born of nature and bind the inexhaustible 
incorporate (Spirit) in the body. The quality (or attribute) 
of goodness binds the soul with pleasure and knowledge; 
that of passion (activity), with desire and action; that of dark- 
ness (dulness), with ignorance. One that has the attribute of 
goodness chiefly goes after death to the highest heaven; one 
that has chiefly passion is born again among men of action; 
one that has chiefly darkness is born among the ignorant. 
One that sees that these attributes are the onlv a;2:ents, one 
that knows what is higher than the attributes, enters into my 
being. The incorporate spirit that has passed above the three 
attributes (the origin of bodies), being released from birth, 
death, age, and pain, obtains immortality. To pass above 
these attributes one must become indifferent to all change, be 
undisturbed by anything, and worship Me with devotion. . . . 
I am to be learned from all the Vedas; I made the Vedanta; 
I alone know the Vedas. There are two persons in the world, 
one destructible and one indestructible; the destructible one is 
all created things; the indestructible one is called the Un- 
changing one. But there is still a third highest person, called 
the Supreme Spirit, who, pervading the three worlds, supports 
them, the inexhaustible Lord. Inasmuch as I surpass the destruc- 
tible and am higher than the indestructible, therefore am I 
known in the world and in the Veda as the Highest Person." 


The references to the Sankhyas, or Sankhya- Yogas, are not 
yet exhausted. There is another in a following chapter (vi. 
i8. 13) which some scholiasts say refers to the Vedanta-system, 
though this is in direct contradiction to the text. But the ex- 
tracts already given ^suffice to show how vague and uncertain 
are, on the whole, the philosophical views on which depends 
the Divine Song. Until the end of these citations one hears 
only of nature and spirit, the two that have no beginning, but 
here one finds the Supreme Spirit, which is as distinct from 
the indestructible one as from the destructible. Moreover, ' na- 
ture " is in one place represented as from the beginning distinct 
from spirit and entirely apart from it, and in another it is only 
a transient phase. The delusion (illusion) which in one pas- 
sage is all that exists apart from the Supreme Spirit is itself 
given up in favor of the Sankhya Prakriti, with which one 
must imagine it to be identified, although from the text itself 
it cannot be identical. In a word, exactly as in Manu, there 
are different philosophical conceptions, united without any 
logical basis for their union. The ' system ' is in general that 
of the Sankhya- Yogas, but there is much which is purely 
Vedanta. The Sankhya system is taught elsewhere as a means 
of salvation, perhaps always as the deistic Yoga (i. 75. 7: " He 
taught them the Sankhya-knowledge as salvation "). It is fur- 
ther noticeable that although Krishna (Vishnu) is the ostensible 
speaker, there is scarcely anything to indicate that the poem 
was originally composed even for Vishnu. The Divine Song was 
probably, as we have said, a late Upanishad, which afterwards 
was expanded and put into Vishnu's mouth. The Sankhya por- 
tions have been redressed as far as possible and to the illusion 
doctrine is given the chief place. But the Song remains, like the 
Upanishads themselves, and like Manu, an ill-assorted cabinet 
of primitive philosophical opinionis. On the religious side it is 
a matter of comparative indifference whether that which is not 
the spirit is a delusive output of the spirit or indestructible 


matter. In either case the Spirit is the goal of the spirit. In 
this personal pantheism absorption is taught but not death. 
Immortality is still the reward that is offered to the believer 
that is wise, to the wise that believes. Knowledge and faith 
are the means of obtaining this immortality; but, whereas in 
the older Upanishads only wisdom is necessary (wisdom that 
implies morality), here as much stress, if not more, is laid upon 
faith, the natural mark of all sectarian pantheism. 

Despite its occasional power and mystic exaltation, the 
Divine Song in its present state as a poetical production is 
unsatisfactory. The same thing is said over and over again, 
and the contradictions in phraseology and in meaning are as 
numerous as the repetitions, so that one is not surprised to find 
it described as " the wonderful song, which causes the hair to 
stand on end." The different meanings given to the same words 
are indicative of its patchwork origin, which again would help 
to explain its philosophical inconsistencies. It was probably 
composed, as it stands, before there was any formal Vedanta 
system; and in its original shape without doubt it precedes the 
formal Sankhya; though both philosophies existed long before 
they were systematized or reduced to Sutra form. One has 
not to imagine them as systems originally distinct and opposed. 
They rather grew out of a gradual intensification of the opposi- 
tion involved in the conception of Prakriti (nature) and Maya 
(illusion), some regarding these as identical, others insisting 
that the latter was not sufficient to explain nature. The first 
philosophy (and philosophical religion) concerned itself less 
with the relation of matter to mind (in modern parlance) than 
with the relation of the individual self (spirit) to the Supreme 
Spirit. Different explanations of the relation of matter to this 
Supreme Spirit were long held tentatively by philosophers, who 
would probably have said that either the Sankhya or Vedanta 
might be true, but that this was not the chief question. Later 
came the differentiation of the schools, based mainly on a 


question that was at first one of secondary importance. In 
another part of the epic Krishna himself is represented as the 
victim of 'illusion ' (iii. 21. 30) on the field of battle. 

The doctrine of the Bhagavad Gita, the Divine Song, is by 
no means isolated. It is found in many other passages of the 
epic, besides being imitated in the Anugita of the pseudo-epic. 
To one of these passages it is worth while to turn, because of 
the form in which this wisdom is enunciated. The passage im- 
mediately following this teaching is also of great interest. Of 
the few Vedic deities that receive hymnal homage chief is the 
sun, or, in his other form, Agni. The special form of Agni has 
been spoken of above. He is identified with the All in some 
late passages, and gives aid to his followers, although not in bat- 
tle. It will have been noticed in the Divine Song that Vishnu 
asserts that the Song was proclaimed to the sun, who in turn 
delivers it through Manu to the king-seers, the sun being 
especially the kingly god.^ In the third book there is an hymn 
to the sun, in which this god is addressed almost in the terms 
of the Divine Song, and immediately preceding is the doctrine 
just alluded to. After the explanation is given that re-birth 
affects creatures and causes them to be born in earth, air, or 
water, the changes of metempsychosis here including the vege- 
table world as well as the animal and divine worlds,'-^ the very 
essence of the Divine Song is given as "Vedic word," viz., 
ku7'u kaj-ma tyajeti ca, " Perform and quit acts,'' i.e., do what 
you ought to do, but without regard to the reward of action 
(iii, 2. 72, 74). There is an eightfold path of duty, as in Bud- 
dhism, but here it consists in sacrifice, study, liberality, and 
penance ; truth, mercy, self-control, and lack of greed. As the 

1 Compare a parallel list of diadochoi in xii. 349. 51. 

2 One of the Jaina traits of the epic, brahmddisn trndnicsu bhfdesu parivartate, 
in distinction from the Buddhistic metempsychosis, which stops short of plants. 
But perhaps it is rather borrowed from the Brahman by the Jain, for there is a formal 
acknowledgment that sfhdvards, ' stationary things,' have part in metempsychosis, 
Manu, xii. 42, although in the distribution that follows this is almost ignored (vs. 58). 


result of practicing the first four, one goes on the course that 
leads to the Manes ; as the result of practicing the last four, 
one goes on the course that leads to the gods. But in practic- 
ing any virtues one should practice them without expectation 
of reward (cib/iimajia, arriere pensee). The Yogi, the devotee, 
who renounces the fruit of everything, is the greatest man ; his 
powers are miraculous. 

There follows (with the same light inconsistency to be found 
in the Divine Song) the appeal for action and the exhortation 
to pray to the sun for success in what is desired. For it is 
explained that the sun is the father of all creation. The sun 
draws up clouds with his heat, and his energy, being trans- 
muted into water, with the help of the moon, is distilled into 
plants as rain, and in this way the food that man eats is full 
of solar energy, and man and all that live by food must regard 
the sun as their father. Preliminary to the hymn to the sun 
is given a list of his hundred and eight names, ^ among which 
are to be noticed : Aryaman, Soma, Indra, Yama, Brahma, 
Vishnu, Qiva, Death, Time, Creator, the Endless One, Kapila, 
the Unborn One, the Person (Purusha ; with which are to be 
compared the names of Vishnu in the Divine Song), the All- 
maker, Varuna, the Grandfather, the Door of Heaven, etc. 
And then the Hymn to the Sun (iii. 3. 36 ff.):' "Thou, O Sun, 
of creatures art the eye ; the spirit of all that have embodied 
form ; thou art the source of all created things ; thou art the 
custom of them that make sacrifice ; thou art the goal of the 
Sankhyas and the hope of the Yogis ; the course of all that 
seek deliverance . . . Thou art worshipped by all ; the three 
and thirty gods (!) worship thee, etc. ... I think that in all 
the seven worlds" and all the ^;'<^//;;/^z-worlds there is nothing 

1 It is rather difficult to compress the list into this number. Some of the names 
are perhaps later additions. 

2 In contrast one niay note the frequent boast that a king ' fears not even the gods,' 
e.g.,i. 199. I. 

3 Later there are twenty-one worlds analogous to the twenty-one hells. 


which is superior to the sun. Other beings there are, both 
powerful and great, but they have no such glory as the sun's. 
Father of light, all beings rest in thee ; O Lord of light, all 
thinsfs, all elements are in thee. The disc of Vishnu was 
fashioned by the All-maker (one of the sun's names !) with thy 
glory. Over all the earth, with its thirteen islands, thou shinest 
with thy kine (rays). . . } Thou art the beginning and the 
end of a day of Brahma. . . . They call thee Indra ; thou art 
Rudra, Vishnu, the Father-god, Fire, the subtile mind ; thou art 
the Lord, and thou, eternal braJuna.'" 

There is here also a very significant admixture of Vedic and 
Upanishadic religion. 

In Krishna, who in the Upanishads is known already by his 
own and his mother's name, pantheism is made personal accord- 
ing to the teaching of one sect. But while the whole epic is in 
evidence for the spuriousness of the claim of Krishna to be 
regarded as incarnate Vishnu (God), there is scarcely a trace 
in the original epic of the older view in regard to Vishnu him- 
self. Thus in one passage he is called " the younger brother 
of Indra" (iii. 12. 25). But, since Indra is at no time the 
chief god of the epic, and the chapter in which occurs this 
expression is devoted to extolling Krishna -Vishnu as the All- 
god, the words appear to be intended rather to identify Krishna 
with Vishnu, who in the Rig Veda is inferior to Indra, than 
to detract from Vishnu's glory. The passage is cited below. 

What now is the relation of Vishnu-Krishna to the other 
divinities? Vishnuite and Civaite, each cries out that his god 
includes the other, but there is no current identity of Brahma, 
Vishnu, ^iva as three co-equal representations of one God. 
For example, in iii. 189. 5, one reads: ''I am Vishnu, I am 
Brahma, and I am ^iva," but one cannot read into this any 
trinitarian doctrine whatever, for in context the passage reads 
as a whole : " I am Narayana, I am Creator and Destro3'er, 

1 Elsewhere, on the other hand, the islands are four or seven, the earlier view. 


I am Vishnu, I am Brahma, I am Indra, the master-god, I am 
king Kubera, Yama, Qiva, Soma, Ka9yapa, and also the Fatlier- 
god." Again, Vishnu says that the Father-god, or grandparent 
of the gods, is "one-half of my body," and does not mention 
(Jiva (iii. 189. 39). Thus, also, the hymn to Civa in iii. 39, 76 ff. 
is addressed " to Qiva having the form of Vishnu, to Vishnu 
having the form of Qiva, to the three-eyed god, to Qarva, the 
trident-holder, the sun, Gane^a," but with no mention of Brahma. 
The three gods, Brahma, Vishnu, Qiva, however, are sometimes 
grouped together (but not as a trinity) in late passages, in 
contrast to Indra, e.g., ix. 53, 26. There are many hymns to 
Vishnu and ^iva, where each is without beginning, the God, 
the uncreated Creator. It is only when the later period, look- 
ing back on the respective claims of the sects, identifies each 
god with the other, and both with their predecessor, that one 
gets even the notion of a trinity. Even for this later view of 
the pseudo-epic only one passage will be found (cited below). 
The part of Brahma in the epic is most distinctly in process 
of subordination to the sectarian gods. He is holy and eternal, 
but not omniscient, though wise. As was shown above, he 
works at the will of Vishnu. He is one with Vishnu only in 
the sense that all is one with the All-god. When Vishnu 
'raises the earth' as a boar, Brahma tells the gods to go to 
him.^ He councils the gods. His heaven is above Indra's, 
but he is really only an intermediary divinity, a passive activity, 
if the paradox may be allowed. Not like Indra (to whom he 
is superior) does he fight with All-gods, or do any great act of 
his own will. He is a shadowy, fatherly, beneficent advisor 
to the gods, his children ; but all his activity is due to Vishnu. 
This, of course, is from the point of view of the Vishnuite, 

1 iii. 142. The boar-shape of Vishnu is a favorite one, as is the dwarf -incarnation. 
Compare Vamana, Vamanaka, Vishnupada, in the hst of holy watering-places (iii. S3). 
Many of Vishnu's acts are simply transferred from Brahma, to whom they belonged 
in older tales. Compare above, p. 215. 


But there is no Brahmaite to modify the impression. There 
existed no strong Brahma sect as there were Vishnu and Qiva 
sects. Brahma is in his place merely because to the preceding 
age he was the highest god ; for the epic regards Creator, 
Prajapati, Pitamaha, Brahma as synonymous.-^ The abstract 
braluna^ which in the Upanishads is the same with the Supreme 
Spirit, was called personally Brahma, and this Brahma is now 
the Brahmanic Father-god. The sects could never get rid of a 
god whose being was rooted alike in the preceding philosophy 
and in the popular conception of a Father-god. Each age of 
thought takes the most advanced views of the preceding age 
as its axioms. The Veda taught gods ; the Brahmanas taught 
a Father-god above the gods ; the Upanishads taught a Supreme 
Godhead of which this Father-god was the active manifesta- 
tion. The sects taught that their heroes were incarnations of 
this Supreme, but they carried with them the older pantheon 
as well, and, with the pantheon, its earlier and later heads, 
Indra and Brahma. Consequently each sect admits that Brahma 
is greater than the older Vedic gods, but, while naturally it 
identifies its special incarnation hrst with its most powerful 
opponent, and thus, so to speak, absorbs its rival, it identifies 
this incarnation with Brahma only as being chief of lesser 
divinities, not as being a rival. One may represent the atti- 
tude of a Krishna-worshipper in the epic somewhat in this way : 
" Krishna is a modern incarnation of Vishnu, the form which 
is taken in this age by the Supreme Lord. You who worship 
Qiva should know that your Qiva is really my Krishna, and 

1 In i. 197, Prajapati. the Father-god, is the higliest god, to whom Indra, as usual, 
runs for help, (^"iva appears as a higher god. and drives Indra into a hole, where he 
sees five former Indras ; and finally \'ishnu comes on to the stage as the highest of 
all, '• the infinite, inconceivable, eternal, the All in endless forms." Brahma is invoked 
now and then in a perfunctory way, but no one really expects him to do anything. 
He has done his work, made the castes, the sacrifice, and (occasionally) everything. 
And he will do this again when the new aeon begins. But for this aeon his work is 


the chief point is to recognize my Krishna as the Supreme 
Lord. The man Krishna is the Supreme Lord in human form. 
Of course, as such, being the One God in whom are all things 
and beings, he is also all the gods known by names which 
designate his special functions. Thus he is the head of the 
gods, the Father-god, as our ancestors called him, Brahma ; and 
he is all the gods known by still older names, who are the 
children of the secondary creator, Brahma, viz., Agni, Indra, 
Surya, etc. All gods are active manifestations of the Supreme 
God called Vishnu, who is born on earth to-day as Krishna." 
And the Qivaite says : " Qiva is the manifestation of the All- 
god," and repeats what the Vishnuite says, substituting Qiva 
for Vishnu,^ but with the difference already explained, namely, 
that the Civa-sect has no incarnation to which to point, as has 
the Vishnuite. Qiva is modified Rudra, and both are old god- 
names. Later, however, the Qivaite has also his incarnate god. 
As an example of later Qiva-worship may be taken Vishnu's 
own hymn to this god in vii. So. 54 ff.: "Reverence to Bhava, 
^arva, Rudra (Civa), the bestower of gifts, the lord of cattle, 
the terrible, great, fearful, god of three wives ;^ to him who is 
peace, the Lord, the slayer of sacrifices {inakhaghnaY' ... to 
the blue-necked god ; to the inventor (or author) ... to truth ; 
to the red god, to the snake, to the unconquerable one, to the 
blue-haired one, to the trident-holder ; ... to the inconceivable 
one ... to him whose sign is the bull ; ... to the creator of 
all, who pervades all, who is worshipped by all. Lord of all, 
Qarva, Qankara, 5^^^' • • • ^^^ ^^^ ^ thousand heads a 

1 Thus in xii. ?85. 165 : " Neither Brahma nor Vishnu is capable of understanding 
the greatness of (Jiva." 

2 Or " three eyes." 

3 Compare iii. 39. IT- "The destroyer of Daksha's sacrifice." Compare the same 
epithet in the hymn to (^iva, x. 7. 3. after which appear the devils who serve Qiva. 
Such devils, in the following, feast on the dead upon the field of battle, though, when 
left to themselves, ' midnight is the hour when the demons swarm,' iii. 11. 4 and n. 
In X. iS and xiii. 161 Qiva's act is described in full. 


thousand arms, and death, a thousand eyes and legs, whose 
acts are innumerable." In vii. 201. 71, ^iva is the unborn 
Lord, inconceivable, the soul of action, the unmoved one ; and 
he that knows Civa as the self of self, as the unknowable one, 
goes to braJuna-hXxs'Sy. This also is late Qivaism in pantheistic 
form. In other words, everything said of Vishnu must be 
repeated for Civa.^ 

As an example of the position of the lowest member of the 
later trinity and his very subordinate place, maybe cited a pas- 
sage from the preceding book of the epic. According to the 
story in vi. 65. 42 ff., the seers were all engaged in worshipping 
Brahma, as the highest divinity they knew, when he suddenly 
began to worship "the Person (Spirit), the highest Lord"; and 
Brahma then lauds Vishnu as such : "Thou art the god of the 
universe, the All-god, Vasudeva (Krishna). Therefore I wor- 
ship thee as the divinity; thou, whose soul is devotion. Victory 
to thee, great god of all ; thou takest satisfaction in that which 
benefits the world. . . . Lord of lords of all, thou out of whose 
navel springs the lotus, and whose eyes are large ; Lord of the 
things that were, that are, that are to be ; O dear one, self-born 
of the self-born . . . O great snake, O boar,- O thou the first 
one, thou who dwellest in all, endless one, known as brahma^ 
everlasting origin of all beings . . . destroyer of the worlds ! 
Thy feet are the earth . . . heaven is thy head ... I, Brahma, 
am thy form . . . Sun and moon are thy eyes . . . Gods and 
all beings were by me created on earth, but they owe their origin 
to thy goodness." Then the creation of Vishnu through Pra- 

i (^iva, called Bhava, ^arva, the trident-holder, the Lord Mgana), Qankara, the 
Great God, etc., generally appears at his best where the epic is at its worst, the inter- 
polations being more flagrant than in the case of Vishnuite eulogies. The most 
devout worshipper of Vishnu is represented as an adherent of Qiva, as invoking him 
for help after fighting with him. He is " invincible before the three worlds." He is 
the sun ; his blood is ashes. All the gods, with Brahma at their head, revere him. 
He has three heads, three faces, six arms (compare iii. 39. 74 ff. ; S3. 125) ; though 
other passages give him more. 

- (Jiva has as sign the bull : Vishnu, the boar. 



dyumna as a form of the deity is described, " and A^ishnu 
(Aniruddha) created me, Bralima, the upholder of the worlds ; 
so am I made of Vishnu ; I am caused only by thee." 

While Brahma is represented here as identical with Vishnu 
he is at the same time a distinctly inferior personality, created 
by Vishnu for the purpose of creating worlds, a factor of inferior 
godliness to that of the World-Spirit, Krishna-Vishnu. 

It had been stated by Holtzmann ^ that Brahma sometimes 
appears in the epic as a god superior to Vishnu, and on the 
strength of this L. von Schroeder has put the date of the early 
epic between the seventh and fourth centuries b.c, because at 
that time Brahma Vvas the chief god." von Schroeder rather 
exaggerates" Holtzmann's results, and asserts that " in the 
original form of the poem Brahma appears throughout as the 
highest and most revered god, while the worship of Vishnu and 
^iva as great gods is apparently a later intrusion" {lac. a't.). 
This asseveration will have to be taken cu?n grauo. Had 
von Schroeder said 'pantheistic gods' he would have been 
correct in this regard, but we think that both Vishnu and ^iva 
w^ere great gods, equal, if not superior to Brahma, when the epic 
proper began. And, moreover, when one speaks of the original 
form of the poem he cannot mean the pseudo-epic or the 
ancient legends which have been woven into the epic, them- 
selves of earlier date. No one means by the 'early epic' the 
tales of Agastya, of the creation of Death, of the making of 
ambrosia, but the story of the war in its earliest shape; for the 
epic poem must have begun with its own subject-matter. Now 
it is not true that Brahma is regarded ' throughout ' the early 
poem as a chief god at all.' If one investigate the cases where 
Vishnu or ^iva appears ' below ' Brahma he will see, in almost 
every case that Holtzmann has registered, that this condition 
of affairs is recorded not in the epic proper but in the Brahmanic 
portions of the pseudo-epic, or in ancient legends alone. Thus 

1 ZDMG. xxxviii. pp. 197, 200, 2 /,//. 21. Citltnr^ p. 461. 


in the story of the whining of ambrosia, of Agastya drinking 
ocean, and of Rama, Brahma appears to be above Vishnu, and 
also in some extracts from the pseudo-epic. For tlie real epic 
we know of but two cases that can be put into this category, 
and neither is sufficient to support the hypothesis built upon it. 
For Krishna, when he ingeniously plots to have Bhima slay 
Jaras.mdha, is said to have renounced killing Jarasandha him- 
self, 'putting Brahma's injunction before him' (ii. 22. 36), /.t'., 
recalling Brahma's admonition that only Bhima was fated to 
slay the foe. And when Krishna and Satyaki salute Krishna's 
elder brother they do so (for being an elder brother Baladeva 
is Krishna's Guru) respectfully, 'just as Indra and Upendra 
salute Brahma the lord of devas' (ix. 34. iS). Upendra is 
Indra's younger brother, />., Vishnu (above). But these pas- 
sages are scanty proof for the statement that Brahma appears 
throughout the early epic as the highest god ; ^ nor is there 
even so much evidence as this in the case of Civa. Here, too, 
it is in the tale of the churning of ocean, of Sunda and 
Upasunda, of the creation of the death-power, and in late di- 
dactic (Brahmanic) passages, where Brahma makes Civa to de- 
stroy earth and Qiva is born of Brahma, and only in such tales, 
or extracts from the Book of Peace, etc., that Brahma appears 
as superior. In all other cases, in the real action of the epic, 
he is subordinate to Vishnu and Qiva whenever he is compared 
with them. When he is not compared he appears, of course, 
as the great old Father-god who creates and foresees, but even 
here he is not untouched, by passion, he is not all-knowing, and 
his role as Creator is one that, with the allotment of duties 
among the gods, does not make him the highest god. All the 
old gods are great till greater appear on the scene. There is 
scarcely a supreme Brahma in the epic itself, but there is a 

1 Holtzmann now says (in Nennz^Jm Piiclier^^. 19S) that the whole episode which 
terminates with Baladeva's visit is an addition to the original. Holtzmann's mono- 
graph on Brahma is in ZDMG. xxxviii. 167. 


great Brahma, and a greater (older) than the sectarian gods in 
the old Brahmanic legends, while the old Brahmanhood reasserts 
itself sporadically in the Canti, etc., and tells how the sectarian 
gods became supreme, how they quarrelled and laid the strife. 
Since the adjustment of the relations between the persons of 
the later trinity is one of the most important questions in the 
theology of the completed epic, it will be necessary to go a lit- 
tle further afield and see what the latest books, which hitherto 
we have refrained as much as possible from citing, have to say 
on the subject. As it seems to be true that it was felt neces- 
sary by the Civaite to offset the laud of Vishnu by antithetic 
laud of Civa,^ so after the completion of the Book of Peace, 
itself a late addition to the epic, and one that is markedly Vish- 
nuitic, there was, before the Genealogy of Vishnu, an antithetic 
Book of Law, which is as markedly Qivaitic. In these books 
one finds the climax of sectarianism, in so far as it is repre- 
sented by the epic ; although in earlier books isolated passages 
of late addition are sporadically to be found which have much 
the same nature. Everyw^here in these last additions Brahma 
is on a plane which is as much lower than that of the Supreme 
God as it is higher than that of Indra. Thus in viii. ^^, 45, 
Indra takes refuge with Brahma, but Brahma turns for help to 
Qiva (Bhava, Sthanu, Jishnu, etc.) with a hymn sung by the 
gods and seers. Then comes a description of Qankara's " 
(^iva's) war-car, with its metaphorical arms, where Vishnu is 
the point of Civa's arrow (which consists of Vishnu, Soma, 
Agni), and of this war-car Brahma himself is the charioteer 
{ib. 34. 76). With customary inconsistency, how^ever, when 
Qiva wishes his son to be exalted he prostrates himself before 
Brahma, who then gives this youth {kiujidrci)^ called Kartikeya, 

1 A good example is that of the two visions of Arjuna, first the vision of Vishnu, 
then another vision of (^iva, whom Arjuna and Vishnu visit (vii. So). 

2 Qankara and (^iva mean ahnost the same ; * giver of blessings " and ' prospering ' 
(or 'kindly'), respectively. 


the 'generalship' over all beings {sdinapafyam, ix. 44. 43-49). 
There is even a 'celebration of Brahma,' a sort of harvest festi- 
val, shared, as the text tells, by all the castes ; and it must 
have been something like the religious games of the Greeks, 
for it was celebrated by athletic contests.^ Brahma, as the old 
independent creator, sometimes keeps his place, transmitting 
posterity through his ' seven mind-born sons,' the great seers 
(iii. 133; xii. 166. I iff.). But Brahma himself is born either 
in the golden egg, as a secondary growth (as in xii. 312. 1-7), 
or, as is usually the case, he is born in the lotus which springs 
from the navel of musing' Vishnu (iii. 203. 14). In this pas- 
sage Brahma has four faces (Vedas) and four forms, catunnurtis 
(15), and this epithet in other sections is transferred to Vishnu. 
Thus in vii. 29, 26, Vishu says caiui'murtir akam, " I have four 
forms," but he never says trimurtir ahain (' I have three forms'). 
There is one passage, however, that makes for a belief in a 
trinity. It stands in contrast to the various Vishnuite hymns, 
one of which may well be reviewed as an example of the regu- 
lar Vishnuite laudation affected by the Krishna sect (iii. 12. 
21 ff.): " Krishna is Vishnu, Brahma, Soma, the Sun, Right, the 
Creator (' founder '), Yama, Fire, Wind, Qiva, Time, Space, 
Earth, and the cardinal points. Thou, Krishna, art the Crea- 
tor ('emitter"); thou, chief of gods, didst worship the highest; 
thou, Vishnu called, becamest Indra's younger brother, entering 
into sonship with Aditi ; as a child with three steps thou didst 
fill the sky, space, and earth, and pass in glory. ... At the end 
of the age thou returnest all things into thyself. At the begin- 
ning of the age Brahma was born from thy lotus-navel as the 
venerable preceptor of all things (the same epithet is in vs. 22 
applied to Vishnu himself); and Civa sprang from thy angry 

1 Brahmanas siimahotsavas (compare the commentator). The savidja of Brahma 
may be explained by that of (Jiva mentioned in the same place and described else- 
where (iv. 13. i4ff. : i. 164. 20). 

2 Not sleeping. Mshnu, despite svapbni, does not slumber ; he only muses. 


forehead when the demons would kill him (Brahma) ; both are 
born of thee, in whom is the universe." The followins: verses 
(45 ff.) are like those of the Divine Song : " Thou, Knight 
Arjuna, art the soul of Krishna; thou art mine alone and thine 
alone am I ; they that are mine are thine ; he that hates thee 
hates Me, and he that is for thee is for Me ; thou art Xara 
('man') and I am Xarayana ('whose home is on the waters,' 
god);^ we are the same, there is no difference between us." 
Again, like the Divine Song in the following verses (51-54) is 
the expression ' the sacrifice and he that sacrifices,' etc., together 
with the statement that Vishnu plays ' like a boy with plavthings,' 
with the crowds of gods, Brahma, Qiva, Indra, etc. The pas- 
sage opposed to this, and to other identifications of Vishnu 
with many gods, is one of the most flagrant interpolations in 
the epic. If there be anything that the Supreme God in Civa- 
ite or Vishnuite form does not do it is to extol at length, with- 
out obvious reason, his rivals' acts and incarnations. Yet in this 
clumsy passage just such an extended laudation of Vishnu is put 
into the mouth of Civa. In fact, iii. 272, from 30 to 76, is an 
interpretation of the most naive sort, and it is here that we find 
the approach to the later triDiurti (trinity): "Having the form 
of Brahma he creates; having a human body (as Krishna) he 
protects, in the nature of Qiva he would destroy — these are 
the three appearances or conditions {avasthds) of the Father- 
god" (Prajapati)." This comes after an account of the four- 
faced lotus-born Brahma, who, seeing the world a void, emitted 
his sons, the seers, mind-born, like to himself (now nine in num- 
ber), who in turn begot all beings, including men (vss. 44-47). 
If, on the other hand, one take the later sectarian account of 

1 Man (divine) and god human, but Narayana is a new name of Vishnu, and the 
two are reckoned as two inseparable seers (divinities). 

~ This is the only really trinitarian passage in the epic. In i. i. 32; xiii. 16. 15, 
the belief may be indicated, but not certainly, as it is in Hariv. 10,662. See on this 
point Holtzmann, ZDMG. xxxviii, p. 204. In xiv. 54. 14 the form is Vishnu, Brahma, 


Vishnu (for the above is more in honor of Krishna the man-god 
than of Vishnu, the form of the Supreme God), he \A\\ see that 
even in the pseudo-epic the summit of the theological concep- 
tions is the emphasis not of trinity or of multifariousness but of 
unity. According to the text the Pancakalajnas are the same 
with the Vishnuite sect called Pancaratras, and these are most 
emphatically ekantiuas, i.e., Unitarians (xii. 336 ; 337. 46 ; 339. 
66-67).^ In this same passage 341. 106, Vishnu is again catiir- 
viurtidhrt. ' the bearer of four forms,' an entirely different con- 
ception of him (below). So that even in this most advanced 
sectarian literature there is no real threefoldness of the Su- 
preme as one in three. In the following chapter (xii. 335. i ff.) 
there is a passage like the great Ka hymn of the Rig Veda, 
' whom as god shall one worship ? ' The sages say to Vishnu : 
"All men worship thee; to whom dost thou offer worship?" 
and he says, 'to the Eternal Spirit.' The conception of the 
functions of Brahma and ^iva in relation to Vishnu is plainly 
shown in xii. 342. 19: "Brahma and ^iva create and destroy at 
the will of Vishnu ; they are born of his grace and his anger." 
In regard to Civa himself, his nature and place in Vishnuism 
have been sufficiently explained. The worship of this god is 
referred to ' Vedic texts' (the cata-riidriyarn., vii. 202. 120);^ 
Vishnu is made to adore the terrible god {ib. 201. 69) who 
appears as a mad ascetic, a wild rover, a monster, a satire on 
man and gods, though he piously carries a rosary, and has other 
late traits in his personal appearance.^ The strength of (Jiva- 
ism lay in the eumenidean (Qiva is 'prospering,' 'kindly') 

1 Compare 3^,9. 114, "thou art pancamahdkalpa-'' The commentator gives the 
names of five sects, Saura, (^'akta, Gane^a, Qaiva, Vaishnava, The ' five times.' im- 
plied in Paiicakala, he says are day, night, month, seasons, and year {ib. 66). In 340. 
117 (which chapter is Pancaratric), Brahma '-knows that Vishnu is superior.'' 

2 Vaj. S. xvi. 1-66 ; Taitt. S. iv. 5. i-ii. 

3 (^iva has no ordinary sacrifice : he is (as above) in general a destroyer of sacri- 
fice, i.e.^ of Vedic sacrifice ; but as Pa^upati, " Lord of beasts," he claims the bloody 
sacrifice of the first beast, man. 


euphemism and fear alike, which shrank in speech and mind 
from the object of fear. But this religion in the epic had a 
firmer hold than that of fear. It was essentially phallic in its 
outward form (vii. 201. 93-96), and as such was deeply rooted 
in the religious conscience of a people to whom one may ven- 
ture perhaps to ascribe such a form of worship even in the 
time of the Rig Veda, although the signs thereof in great part 
have been suppressed. This may be doubted,^ indeed, for the 
earlier age ; but there is no question that epic Civaism, like 
^ivaism to-day, is dependent wholly on phallic worship (xiii. 
14. 230 ff.). It is the parallel of Bacchic rites and orgies, as 
well as of the worship of the demons in distinction from that of 
good powers. Qiva represents the ascetic, dark, awful, bloody 
side of religion : Vishnu, the gracious, calm, hopeful, loving 
side ; the former is fearful, mysterious, demoniac ; the latter is 
joyful, erotic, divine. In their later developments it is not sur- 
prising to see that Vishnuism, in the form of Krishnaism, be- 
comes more and more erotic, while Qivaism becomes more and 
more ghastly and ghoulish. 

Wild and varied as are the beliefs of the epic, there is space 
but to show a few more characteristic sides of its theology — 
a phase that may seem questionable, yet, since the devout 
Hindu believes the teachings of the epic, they must all to him 
constitute one theology, although it w'as gradually amalgamated 
out of different creeds. 

In connection with Civa stands, closely united, his son, 
Gane^a, "leader of troops," still worshipped as one of the 
popular gods, and the battle-god, Skanda, the son first of Agni 
then of Civa, the conqueror of the demons, ddnai^as, and later 
representative of Indra, with whom the epic identifies him. 
For it is Skanda that is the real battle-god of the later epic ; 

1 The usual opinion is that phallic worship was a trait of southern tribes foisted 
upon northern (^ivaism. Philosophically Qivaism is first monotheistic and then pan- 
theistic. To-day it is nominally pantheistic but really it is dualistic. 


though in its original form Indra was still the warrior's refuge, 
as attests the stereotyped phraseology. In iii. 225-232 honor 
and praise are ascribed to Skanda in much the same language 
with that used to portray his father, Qiva. " The god of a 
thousand arms, the Lord of all, the creator of gods and 
demons " are phrases used in his eulogy. He too has a list 
of names; his nurse is the "maiden of the red (bloody) sea," 
called Lohitayanl. His terrible appearance and fearful acts 
make him the equal of (Jiva.^ His sign is a kukkiita, cock ; 
Uk 229. 2)3' 

Associated, again, \vith Skanda are the spirits or 'mothers,' 
which afflict people. The belief in mother-gods is old, but its 
epic form is new. The exactness and detail in regard to these 
beautiful monsters sho\v at least a real belief, which, as one on 
a lower plane besides the higher religion, cannot be passed 
over without notice. As in other lands, people are ' possessed ' 
by evil spirits, called possessors or seizers (^g?'ahas). These 
are Skanda's demons,- and are both male and female. Until 
one reaches the age of sixteen he is liable to be possessed by 
one group of ' seizers,' who must be worshipped in proper form 
that their wrath may be averted. Others menace mortals from 
the age of sixteen to seventy. After that only the fever-demon 
is to be feared. Imps of this sort are of three kinds. One 
kind indulge only in mischievous sport : another kind lead 
one to gluttony ; the third kind are devoted to lust. They are 
known as Pi^acas, Yakshas, etc., and when they seize a person 
he goes mad. They are to be kept at bay by self-restraint 
and moderation (iii. 230. 43-56). In ix. 46 and iii. 226 the 
'mothers' are described. They are witches, and live in cross- 

1 There are indications in tliis-passage of some sectarian feeling, and the fear of 
partisan warfare (229) ; in regard to which we add from Muir and Holtzmann tlie 
passage xii. 343. 121, where is symbolized a peaceful issue of war between Vishnuism 
and Qivaism. 

2 Grahas are also planets, but in this cult they are not astrological, as show their 


roads, cemeteries, and mountains. They may be of Dravidian 
origin, and in their epic form, at any rate, are a late intrusion.-^ 

Just before the Divine Song begins, the knight who is about 
to become ilkiminated or ' disillusioned ' offers a prayer to the 
terrible goddess Durga, also one of the new, popular, and hor- 
rible forms of divine manifestation. In this hymn, vi. 23, 
Durga (Uma, ParvatI, Kali, etc.) is addressed as '* leader of the 
armies of the blessed, the dweller in ]\Iandara, the youthful 
woman, Kali, wife of Qiva, she who is red, black, variegated ; 
the savior, the giver of gifts, Katyayani, the great benefactress, 
the terrible one, the victorious one, victory itself . . . Uma, 
the slaver of demons,""^ and the usual identification and theft 
of epithets then follows : " O thou who art the Vedas, who art 
Revelation, who art virtue, Jatavedasi, . . . thou art ht'ahma 
among the sciences, thou art the sleep of incorporate beings, 
the mother of Skanda, the blessed one, Durga . . . thou art 
the mother of the Vedas and Vedanta . . . thou art sleep, 
illusion, modesty, happiness . . . thou art satisfaction, growth, 
contentment, light, the increaser of moon and sun." 

Turning from these later parasites,^ which live on their parent 
gods and yet tend to reduce them, we now revert to that happi- 
ness hereafter to which looks forward the epic knight that has 
not been tempted to '■ renounce ' desire. In pantheistic passages 
he is what the later remodeller makes him. But enough of old 
belief remains to show that the warrior really cared a great 

1 They are possibly old, as Weber thinks, but they seem to have nothing in com- 
mon ^vith the ancient female divinities. 

- Compare another hymn to Durga in iv. 6. 5 ff. (late). Durga was probably an 
independent local deity, subsequently regarded as Qiva's female side. She plays a 
great role, under various names, in the ' revived ' literature, as do the love-god and 
Ganega. In both hj'mns she is 'Vishnu's sister,' and in iv. 6 a 'pure virgin.' 

3 One comparatively new god deserves a passing mention, Dharma's son, Kama, 
the (Grecian?) love-god, 'the mind-shaker,' * the limbless one,' whose arrows are like 
those of Cupid (i. 66. 32 ; 171. 34 ; iii. 46. 2). He is an adventitious addition to the 
epic. His later name of Ananga occurs in xii. 59. 91. In i. 71. 41 and 171. 40 he is 
Manmatha. The Atharvan god also has darts, iii. 25, a mark of this latest Veda. 


deal more for heaven than he did for absorption. As to the 
cause of events, as was said above, it is Fate. Repeatedly is 
heard the lament, " Fate (impersonal) is the highest thing, fie 
on vain hmnan effort." The knight confesses with his lips to 
a belief in the new doctrine of absorption, but at heart he is 
a fatalist. And his aim is to die on the field of battle, that he 
may go thence directly to the heaven that awaits the good 
and the brave. ^ Out of a long description of this heaven a 
few extracts here selected will show what the good knight 
anticipates : 

" Upward goes the path that leads to gods; it is inhabited by them that 
have sacrificed and have done penance. Unbelieving persons and untruth- 
ful persons do not enter there; only they that have duteous souls, that 
have conquered self, and heroes that bear the marks of battle. There sit 
the seers and gods, there are shining, self-illumined worlds, made of light, 
resplendent. And in this heaven there is neither hunger, nor thirst, nor 
weariness, nor cold, nor heat, nor fear ; nothing that is terrible is there, 
nothing unclean ; but pleasing sights, and sounds, and smells. There is 
no care there, nor age, nor work, nor sorrow. Such is the heaven that is 
the reward of good acts. Above this is Brahma's world, where sit the 
seers and the three and thirty gods," etc. 

Over against this array of advantages stands the one great 
"fault of heaven," which is stated almost in the words of 
" nessun maggior doiore," "the thought (when one lives again 
on the lower plane) of former happiness in the higher life is 
terrible grief" (vs. 30), /.<?., this heaven will pass away at the 
end of the world-period, when the Eternal draws all in to him- 
self again (iii. 261); and the thought that one has been in 
heaven, while now he is (re-born) on earth, is a sorrow greater 
than the joy given by heaven.^ 

1 Compare ii. 22. iS : "Great holiness, great glory, penance, death in battle, these 
are each respectively productive of heaven ; the last alone is a sure cause." 

- This description and the sentiments are quite late. The same sort of heaven 
(without the philosophical bitterness, with which compare above, p. 229) is, however, 
found in other passages, somewhat augmented with nymphs and facile goddesses. 


One is reminded by the epic description of heaven of that 
poet of the Upanishads who describes his heavenly bliss as 
consisting in the fact that in that world "there is neither 
snow nor sorrow." The later version is only an amplification. 
Even with the assurance that the "fault of heaven " is the dis- 
appointment of being dropped to earth again in a new birth, 
the ordinary mortal is more averse from the bliss of absorption 
than from the pleasure of heaven. And in truth, except to one 
very weary of his lot in life, it must be confessed that the 
religion here shown in all its bearings is one eminently pleasant 
to believe. Its gist, in a word, is this : " If you feel able to 
endure it, the best thing to do is to study the plan of the uni- 
verse, and then conform to it. By severe mental discipline 
vou can attain to this knowledcre, and for reward vou will be 
immortallv united with God." To this the sectarian adds : 
" Or believe in mv srod and the result will be the same." But 
both philosopher and sectarian continue : " If, however, you 
do not want to be united with the Supreme Spirit so soon as 
this, then be virtuous and devout, or simply be brave if you 
are a warrior; do whatever the rules of morality and caste-custom 
bid you do, and you will go to heaven for thousands of ages ; 
at the end of which time you will be re-born in a fine family 
on earth, and may again decide whether to repeat the process 
of gaining heaven or to join God and become absorbed into 
the World-Spirit at once." There were probably many that 
chose rather to repeat their agreeable earthly experience, with 
an interlude of heaven after each death, than to make the 
renunciation of earth and heaven, and be absorbed once for all 
into the All-god. 

The doctrine" of the ages^ is so necessary to a true under- 
standing of the relative immortality offered as a substitute for 

1 This doctrine is supposed by some scholars to be due to outside influence, but 
the doubt is not substantiated, and even in the Rig Veda one passage appears to 
refer to it. Doubtless, however, the later expanded view, with its complicated reck- 
onings, may have been touched by foreign influence. 


the higher bliss of absorption (that is, genuine immortaUty), 
tiiat an account of the teaching in this regard will not be out 
of place. The somewhat puzzling distinction between the 
happy life of them that fail to desire absorption, and yet are 
religious men, and the blissful life of those people that do 
attain absorption, is at once explained by a clear understand- 
ing of the duration of the time of the gods' own life and of 
the divine heaven. Whereas the Greek notion of four as^es 
includes within the four all time, all the four ages of the Hindu 
are only a fraction of time. Starting at any one point of eter- 
nity, there is, according to the Hindu belief, a preliminary 
' dawn ' of a new cycle of ages. This dawn lasts four hundred 
years, and is then followed by the real age (the first of four), 
which lasts four thousand years, and has again a twilight end- 
ing of four hundred years in addition. This first is the Krita 
age, corresponding to the classical Golden Age. Its charac- 
teristics are, that in it everything is perfect ; right eternal now 
exists in full power. In this age there are neither gods nor 
demons (Danavas, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Rakshas, Serpents), 
i^either buying nor selling. By a luciis a no?i the derivation of 
the name Krita is krtam era ?ia kartavyam, i.e., with a pun, it 
is called the ' sacred age ' because there are no sacrifices in that 
age. No Sama Veda, Rig Veda, or Yajur Veda exist as distinct 
Vedas.-^ There is no mortal work. Fruit comes by meditation ; 
the only duty is renunciation. Disease, lack of mental power, 
moral defects (such as pride and hate) do not exist ; the high- 
est course of the ascetic Yogis is universally braJuna {para- 
makaiii). In this age come into existence the Brahman, Ksha- 
triya, Vai^ya, Qudra, i.e.., the distinct castes of priest, warrior, 
husbandman, and slave ; all with their special, marks, and all 

1 Na dsan sdma-rg-yaj ur-varnds. In xii. 342. 8 the order is Rik-Yajus-Atharvan- 
Saman. The habit of putting Saman instead of Rik at the head of the Vedas is still 
kept in the late litany to (^iva, who is '' the Saman among the Vedas," meaning, of 
course, the first and best. In the same place, "Qiva is the Itihasa" epic (xiii. 14. 323 ; 
and ib. 17. -jZ, 91), for the epic outweighs all the Vedas in its own estimation. 


delighted with their proper occupations. Yei have all the 
castes like occupations, like :'efuge, practice, and knowledge. 
They are joined to the one god [eka dei'd), and have but one 
majitra in their religious rites. Their duties are distinct, but 
they follow only one Veda and o:/^, rule. T^e four orders (of 
the time of life) are duly obser\ed ; men not desire the 

fruit of their action, and so they obtain the > aest course, i.e., 
salvation by absorption into hraJuna. In L s age the 'three 
attributes ' (or qualities) are unknown. After this age follows 
the dawn of the second age, called Treta, lasting three hundred 
years, then the real age of Treta, three thousand years, followed 
by the twilight of three hundred years. The characteristics of 
this age are, that men are devout ; that great sacrifices begin 
{sattram pravartate) ; that Virtue decreases by one quarter ; 
that all the various rites are produced, together with the attain- 
ment of salvation through working for that end, by means of 
sacrifice and generosity ; that every one does his duty and 
performs asceticism. The next age, Dvapara, is introduced 
by a dawn of two hundred years, being itself two thousand 
years in duration, and it closes with a twilight of two hundred 
years. Half of Virtue fails to appear in this age, that is, the 
general virtue of the world is diminished by a half (' the Bull 
of Justice standi on two legs'). The Veda is now subdivided 
into four. Instead of every one having one Veda, four Vedas 
exist, but some people know only threeT^r two, or one, or are 
even Veda-less (anrcas). Ceremonies become manifold, be- 
cause the treatises on duty are subdivided (!). The attribute 
of passion influences people, and it is with this that they per- 
form asceticism and are generous (not with disinterestedness). 
Few (kaccit^ are settled in truth ; ignorance of the one Veda 
causes a multiplication of Vedas (/>., as Veda means 'knowl- 
edge,' the Vedas result from ignorance of the essential knowl- 
edge). Disease and sin make penance necessary. People 
sacrifice only to gain heaven. After this age and its twilight 

UNDUlSM. — VlSI^i'iV AND QIVA. 421 

are past begins the Kali, last of the four ages, with a dawn of 
^ne hundred, a course of oii^ thousand, and a subsequent 
twilight of one hundred yearsl' "This is the present sinful age, 
when there is -no real religion, when the Vedas are ignored, 
and the caste^ '"^re confu^^C'd, when itis (distresses of every 
form) are rife* --/hen Virttie has only one leg left to stand 
upon. The b^'^'ver in Krishna as Vishnu, besides this uni- 
versal descripti^ir , says that the Supreme Lord in the Krita 
age is 'white' (pure); in the Treta age, 'red'; in the Dvapara 
age, 'yellow'; in the Kali age, 'black,' i.e.^ Vishnu is Krishna, 
which means ' black.' ^ This cycle of ages always repeats 
itself anew. Now, since the twelve thousand years of these 
ages, with their dawns and twilights, are but one of countless 
cycles, when the Kali age and its twilight have brought all 
things into a miserable state, the universe is re-absorbed into 
the Supreme Spirit. There is then a universal (apparent) de- 
struction, pralaya, of everything, first by fire and then by a 
general flood. Seven suns appear in heaven, and what they fail 
to burn is consumed by the great fire called Samvartaka (really 
a manifestation of Vishnu), which sweeps the world and leaves 
only ashes ; then follows a flood which completes the annihila- 
tion. Thereafter follows a period equal to one thousand cycles 
(of twelve thousand years each), which is called ' Brahma's 
night,' for during these twelve million years Brahma sleeps; and 
the new Krita age begins again "when Brahma wakes up" (iii. 
i88. 29, 69 ; 189. 42).^ All the gods are destroyed in the uni- 
versal destruction, that is, re-absorbed into the All-god, for 
there is no such thing as annihilation, either of spirit or of mat- 
ter (which is illusion). Consequently the gods' heaven and the 

1 iii. 149. 14 ; 188. 22 ; 189. 32 ; probably with a recollection of the colors of the four 
castes, white, red, yellow, black. According to xii. 233. 32, there is no sacrifice in 
the Krita age, but, beginning with the Treta age, there is a general diffusion of sacri- 
fice in the Eivapara age. In another passage of the same book it is said that marriage 
laws arose in the Dvapara age (207. 38 ff.). 

2 The teaching varies somewhat in the allotment of years. See Manu, I. 67. 


spirits of good men in that heaven are also re-absorbed into that 
Supreme, to be re-born in the new age. This is what is meant 
by the constant harping on quasi-immortahty. Righteousness, 
sacrifice, bravery, will bring man to heaven, but, though he 
joins the gods, with them he is destroyed. They and he, after 
millions of years, will be re-born in the new heaven and the 
new earth. To escape this eventual re-birth one must desire 
absorption into the Supreme, not annihilation, but unity with 
God, so that one remains untouched by the new order at the 
end of Brahma's 'day.' There are, of course, not lacking 
views of them that, taking the precept grossly, give a less dig- 
nified appearance to the teaching, and, in fact, upset its real 
intent. Thus, in the very same Puranic passage from which 
is taken the description above (iii. iS8), it is said that a seer, 
who miraculously outlived the universal destruction of one 
cycle, was kindly swallowed by Vishnu, and that, on entering 
his stomach (the absorption idea in Puranic coarseness), he saw 
everything which had been destroyed, mountains, rivers, cities, 
the four castes engaged in their duties, etc. In other words, 
only transference of locality has taken place. But this account 
reads almost like a satire. 

One of the most striking; features of the Hindu religions, 
as they have been traced thus far, is the identification of right 
with light, and wrong with darkness. We have referred to it 
several times already. In the Vedic age the deities are lumi- 
nous, while the demons and the abode of the wicked generally 
are of darkness. This view, usually considered Iranian and 
Zoroastrian, is as radically, if not so emphatically. Indie. It 
might be said, indeed, that it is more deeply implanted in the 
worship of the Hindus than in that of the Iranians, inasmuch 
as the latter religion enunciates and promulgates the doctrine, 
wdiile the former assumes it. All deeds of sin are deeds of 
darkness, tamas. The devils live underground in darkness ; 
the hells are below earth and are gloom lighted only by torture- 


flames. The development of devil-worship (the side-scenes in 
the theatre of Qivaism) introduces devils of another sort, but the 
general effect remains. The fire-priest Bhrigu says: "Untruth 
is a form of darkness, and by darkness one is brought to hell 
(downwards) ; veiled in darkness one sees not the light. Light 
is heaven, they say, and darkness is hell," xii. 190, 2-3. This 
antithesis of evil as darkness, good as light, is too native to 
India to admit of the suggestion that it might have been bor- 
rowed. But an isolated and curious Puranic chapter of the epic 
appears to have direct reference to the Persian religion. All 
Hindu gods have sacrifices, even Qiva the ' destroyer of sacri- 
fice.' Now in iii. 220, after a preliminary account of the pafi- 
caja?iya fire (vs. 5 ff.) there is given a list of 'gods that destroy 
sacrifice,' devds yajna7nusas, fifteen in number, who 'stand 
here' on earth and 'steal' the* sacrifice. They extend over the 
five peoples in three divisions of five each. The first and 
third group contain names compounded with Bhima and Siira 
respectively; while the third group is that of Sumitra, !Mitra- 
van, Mitrajna, Mitravardhana, Mitradharman. There are oth- 
ers without the mitra (vs. 10). The appellation devds seems to 
take them out of connection with Qiva's demoniac troops, and 
the persistency of 7?iit7'a would look as if these 'gods' were of 
Iranian origin. There may have been (as are possibly the 
modern Sauras) believers in the Persian religion already long 
established among the Hindus. 

The question will naturally present itself whether in the 
religious olla pod7'ida known as the Mahabharata there are dis- 
tinct allusions to Buddhism, and, if so, in how far the doctrines 
of this sect may have influenced the orthodox religion. Bud- 
dhism does not appear to have attacked or to have attracted 
the 'holy land,' whence, indeed, according to law, heretics are 
'banished.' But its influence of course must have embraced 
this country, and it is only a question of in how far epic Brah- 
manism has accepted it. At a later period Hinduism, as has 


been observed, calmly accepts Buddha as an avatar of Vishnu. 
Holtzmann, who is inclined to attribute a good deal to Bud- 
dhism, sees signs of it even in the personal characteristics of 
the epic heroes, and believes the whole poem to have been 
more or less affected by anti-Buddhistic feeling. If this were 
so one would have to give over to Buddhism much also of the 
humanitarianism to be found in the moral precepts that are so 
thickly strewn through the various books. In our opinion 
these signs-manual of Buddhism are not sufficiently evident to 
support Holtzmann's opinion for the whole poem, and it is to 
be noted that the most taking evidence is drawn from the 
latest parts of the work. It is just here that we think it nec- 
essary to draw the line, for while much of late date has been 
added in earlier books, yet in the books which one may call 
wholly late additions appear the strongest indications of Bud- 
dhistic influence.^ A great deal of the Book of Peace is 
Puranic, the book as a whole is a Vishnuite addition further 
enlarged by Qivaite interpolation. The following book is, 
again, an offset to the Book of Peace, and is as distinctly 
Qivaite in its conception as is the Book of Peace Vishnuite.^ 
It is here, in these latest additions, which scarcely deserve to 
be ranked with the real epic, that are found the most palpable 
touches of Buddhism. They stand to the epic proper as stands 
to them the Genealogy of A^ishnu, a further addition which has 
almost as much claim to be called 'part of the epic ' as have 
the books just mentioned, only that it is more evidently the 
product of a later age, and represents the Krishna-Vishnu sect 
in its glory after the epic was completed. Nevertheless, even 
in these books much that is suspected of being Buddhistic may 
be Brahmanic ; and in any concrete case a decision, one way 

1 Weber thinks, on the other hand, that the parties represent respectively, (^iva 
and Vishnu worship, hid. St. \. 206. 

2 This book also is closely in touch with the later Puranas. For instance. Citra- 
gupta, Yama's secretary, is known only to the books of the pseudo-epic, the Vishnu 
Purana, the Padma Purana, etc. 



or the other, is scarcely to be made on objective grounds. Still 
more is this the case in earlier books. Thus, for instance, 
Holtzmann is sure that a conversation of a slave and a priest 
in the third book is Buddhistic because the man of low caste 
would not venture to instruct a Brahman.^ But it is a com- 
mand emphasized throughout the later Brahmanism that one 
must take refuge in the ship that saves ; and in passages not 
suspected of Buddhistic tendency Bhishma takes up this point, 
and lays down the rule that, no matter to which caste a man be- 
longs, his teaching if salutary is to be accepted. It is even 
said in one passage of the Book of Peace that one ought to 
learn of a slave, and in another that all the four castes ought to 
hear the Veda read:" "Let him get instruction even from a 
^udra if he can thereby attain to salvation " ; and again : " Put- 
ting the Brahman first, let the four castes hear (the Veda) ; for 
this (giving first place to the priest) is (the rule in) reading the 
Veda." ^ And in many places are found instructions given by 
low-caste men. It may be claimed that every case which re- 
sembles Buddhistic teaching is drawn from Buddhism, but this 
would be to claim more than could be established. Moreover, 
just as the non-injury doctrine is prior to Buddhism and yet 
is a mark of Buddhistic teaching, so between the two religions 
there are many points of similarity which may be admitted 
without compromising the genuineness of the Brahmanic teach- 
ing. For Buddhism in its morality is anything but original.'* 

1 Neunzehn Biicher, p. 86. 

2 The epic does not care much for castes in some passages. In one such it is said 
that members of all castes become priests when they go across the Gomal, iii. 84. 48. 

3 xii. 319. 87 ff. {prapya jndnam . . . ciidrdd apt) ; xii. 32S. 49 {^rdvaycc cattiro 
varndn). The epic regards itself as more than equivalent {adJiiham) to the four 
Vedas, i. i. 272. 

i Some ascribe the samsdra doctrine to Buddhistic influence — a thesis supported 
only by the fact that this occurs in late Brahmanic passages and Upanishads. But 
the assumption that Upanishads do not precede Buddha is scarcely tenable. The 
Katha, according to Weber {Sitz. Berl. Ak. 1890, p. 930), is late (Christian !) : accord- 
ing to Oldenberg and Whitney, early {Buddha^ p. 56 ; Proc. AOS. May, 1SS6). 


Another bit of instruction from the Book of Peace iUustrates 
the attitude of the slave just referred to. In sharp contrast to 
what one would expect from a Buddhist, this slave, who is a 
hunter, claims that he is justified in keeping on with his mur- 
derous occupation because it is his caste-occupition ; whereas, 
as a Buddhist he ought to have renounced it if he thought it sin- 
ful, without regard to the caste-rule. The Book of Peace lays it 
down as a rule that the giving up of caste-occupation is meri- 
torious if the occupation in itself is iniquitous, but it hedges on 
the question to the extent of saying that, no matter whether the 
occupation be sinful or not, if it is an inherited occupation a 
man does not do wrong to adhere to it. This is liberal Brah- 
manism. The rule reads as follows : "Actors, liquor-dealers, 
butchers, and other such sinners are not justified in following 
such occupations, if they are not born to the profession (/>, if 
they are born to it they are justified in following their inher- 
ited occupation). Yet if one has inherited such a profession 
it is a noble thing to renounce it."^ 

The marks of Buddhistic influence on which we would lay 
greater stress are found not in the fact tlmt Mudgala refuses 
heaven (iii. 261. 43), or other incidents that may be due as 
well to Brahmanism as to Buddhism, but in such passages of 
the pseudo-epical Book of Peace as for example the d/iar7?iyas 
panthas of xii. 322. 10-13; the conversation of the female 
beggar, bkikshuki, with the king in 321. 7, 168; the huddha 
of 289. 45 ; the Buddhistic phraseology of 167. 46 ; the remark 
of the harlot Pingala in 174. 60: pratibuddha 'smi jagrnii 
(I am ' awakened ' to a sense of sin and knov.ledge of holiness), 
and the like phrase in 177, 22: pratibuddho 'sniir Of especial 
importance is the shibboleth Nirvana which is often used in 
the epic. There seems, indeed, to be a subtile connection 

1 xii. 295. 5-6. 

2 Noteworthy is the fact that parts of the (^ivaite thirteenth book seem to be most 
Buddhistic (ch. i. ; 143. 48, etc.), and monotheistic (16. 12 ff.) ; though the White 
Islanders are made \'ishnuite in the twelfth. Com.pare Holtzmann, ad. loc. 


between Qivaism and Buddhism. Buddhism rejects pantheism, 
Civaism is essentially monotheism. Both were really religions 
of the lower classes. It is true that the latter v/as affected 
and practiced by those of high rank, but its strength lay with 
the masses. Thus while Vishnuism appealed to the contempla- 
tive and philosophical (Ramaism), as well as to the easy-going 
middle classes (Krishnaism), Civaism with its dirty asceticism, 
its orgies and Bacchanalian revels, its devils and horrors 
generally, although combined with a more ancient philosophy, 
appealed chiefly to the magic-monger and the vulgar. So it is 
that one finds, as one of his titles in the thirteenth book, that 
Civa is 'the giver of Nirvana,' (xiii. i6. 15). But if one 
examines the use of this word in other parts of the epic he will 
see that it has not the true Buddhistic sense except in its 
literal physical application as when the 7iirva7ia (extinguish- 
ing) of a lamp, iv. 22. 22, is spoken of; or the iib'va7ia of 
duties (in the Pancaratra ' Upanishad,' xii. 340. 67). On the 
other hand, in sections where the context shows that this must 
be the case, Nirvana is the equivalent of ' highest bliss ' or 
'highest braJima^^ the same with the felicity thus named in 
older works. This, for instance, is the case in xii. 21. 17; 26. 
16, where Nirvana cannot mean extinction but absorption, />., 
the ' blowing out ' of the individual flame (spirit) of life, only 
that it may become one with the universal spirit. In another 
passage it is directly equated with sukJiam brakma in the same 
way (Jb. 189. 17). If now one turn to the employment of this 
word in the third book he will find the case to be the same. 
When the king reproaches his queen for her atheistic opinions 
in iii. 31. 26 he says that if there were no reward for good 
deeds hereafter "people would not seek Nirvana,"' just as he 
speaks of heaven ('immortality') and hell, ib. 20 and 19, not 
meaning thereby extinction but absorption. So after a de- 
scription of that third heaven wherein is Vishnu, when one 
reads that ]\Iudgala " attained that highest eternal bliss the 


sign of which is Nirvana" (iii. 261. 47), he can only suppose 
that the word means here absorption into hrahuia or union 
wdth Vishnu. In fact Nirvana is already a word of which the 
sense has been subjected to attrition enough to make it synon- 
ymous with 'bliss.' Thus "the gods attained Nirvana by 
means of Vishnu's greatness " (iii. 201. 22); and a thirsty man 
" after drinking water attained Nirvana," /.<?., the drink made 
him happy (Jb. 126. 16). One may best compare the Jain 
Nirvana of happiness. 

While, therefore. Buddhism seems to have left many mani- 
fest traces ^ in the later epic the weight of its influence on th^ 
early epic may well be questioned. The moral harangues of 
the earlier books show nothing more than is consistent with 
that Brahmanism which has made its way unaided through the 
greater humanitarianism of the earlier Upanishads. At the 
same time it is right to say that since the poem is composed 
after Buddha's time there is no historical certainty in regard to 
the inner connection of belief and morality (as expounded in 
the epic) with Buddhism. Buddhism, though at a distance, 
environed epic Brahmanism, and may well have influenced it. 
The objective proofs for or against this are not, however, decisive. 

Whether Christianity has affected the epic is another ques- 
tion that can be answered (and then doubtfully) only by draw- 
ing a line between epic and pseudo-epic. And in this regard 
the Harivan^a legends of Krishna are to be grouped with the 
pseudo-epic, of which they are the legitimate if late continua- 
tion. Again one must separate teaching from legend. To the 
Divine Song belong sentiments and phrases that have been 
ascribed to Christian influence. Definitive assurance in this 
regard is an impossibility. When Vishnu says (as is said also 
in the Upanishads) " I am the letter A," one may, and proba- 
bly will, decide that this is or is not an imitation of " I am 

1 Nirvana, loosely used ; termini technici ; possibly the evils of the fourth age ; the 
mention of (Buddhist) temples, etc. 


alpha," strictly in accordance with his preconceived opinions. 
There are absolutely no historical data to go upon. One may 
say with tolerable certainty that the Divine Song as a whole is 
antique, prior to Christianity. But it is as unmistakably in- 
terpolated and altered. The doctrine of b/iakt/\ faithful love as 
a means of salvation, cannot be much older than the Song, for it 
is found only in the latest Upanishads (as shown by comparing 
them with those undoubtedly old). But on the other hand the 
prasada doctrine (of special grace) belongs to a much earlier 
literature, and there is no reason why the whole theory with 
its startling resemblance to the doctrine of grace, and its insist- 
ence on personal affection for the Lord should not have been 
self-evolved. The old omnipotence of inherited knowledge 
stops with the Upanishads. To their authors the Vedas are 
but a means. They desired wisdom, not knowledge. They 
postulated the desire for the Supreme Spirit as the true 
wisdom. From this it is but a step to yearning and love for 
the Supreme. That step is made in the Divine Song. It is 
recognized by early Buddhism as a Brahmanic trait. Is it 
necessarily imported from Christianity? The proof is cer- 
tainly lacking. Nor, to one accustomed to the middle litera- 
ture of Hindu religion, is the phraseology so strikingly unique 
as would appear to be the case. Taken all in all, the teaching 
of Christianity certainly may be suspected, but it cannot be 
shown to exist in the Divine Song. 

Quite different is the case with the miraculous matter that 
grew up about the infant Krishna. But here one is out of the 
epic and dealing with the latest literature in regard to the man- 
god. This distinction cannot be too much insisted upon, for 
to point first to the teaching of the Divine Song and then to 
the Krishna legends as equally reflecting Christianity is to 
mix up two periods as distinct as periods can be established 
in Hindu literature. And the result of the whole investigation 
shows that the proofs of borrowing are as different as these 


periods. The inner Christianity thought to be copied by the 
re-writer of the Divine Sono^ is doubtful in the last desiree. 
The outer Christianity reflected in the Puranic legends of 
Krishn? is as palpable as it is shocking. Shocking, for here 
not only are miracles treated grotesquely, but everything that is 
meant spiritually in the Occident is interpreted physically and 
carnally. The love of the Bridegroom is sensual ; the brides 
of God are drunken dancing girls. 

The ' coincidences,' as some scholars marvellously regard 
them, between the legends of Christ and Krishna are too ex- 
traordinary to be accepted as such. They are direct importa- 
tions, not accidental coincidences. Whatever is most marvel- 
lous in the accounts of Christianity finds itself here reproduced 
in Krishnaism. It is not in the doctrine of avatars^ which re- 
sembles the doctrine of the Incarnation,^ it is in the totality of 
legends connected with Krishna that one is forced to see 
Christian influence. The scenes of the nativity, the adoration 
of the magi, the miracles during the Saviour's childhood, the 
transfiguration, and other stories of Christ are reproduced with 
astonishing similarity. One may add to this the Christmas 
festival, where Krishna is born in a stable, and the use of cer- 
tain church-utensils in the temple-service. Weber has proved 
by collecting and explaining these ' coincidences,' '^ that there 
must be identity of origin. It remains only to ask from which 
side is the borrowing? Considering how late are these 
Krishna le2:ends in India ^ there can be no doubt that the 


1 On this point we agree neither with Weber, who regards the avatars as an imita- 
tion of the Incarnation (///c/. St. ii. p. 169), nor with Schroeder, who {Literatiir vnd 
Citltur, p. T)2^) would derive the notion from the birth-stories of Buddha. In our 
opinion the avatar-theoYy is older than either and is often only an assimilation of out- 
lying totem-gods to the Brahman's god, or as in the case of the flood-story the neces- 
sary belief that the ' fish ' must have been the god of the race. Some of these avatars 
are Brahmanic, presumably pre-Buddhistic. 

'- Krishna's Geburtsfest {jamndstamt). 1S67. 

3 Since they do not appear till after the real epic we date them tentatively as 
arising after 600 a.d. Most of them are in still later Puranas. 


Hindu borrowed the tales, but not the name ; for the last as- 
sumption is quite improbable because Krishna (= Christ ?) is 
native enough, and Jishnu is as old as the Rig Veda. That 
these tales are of secondary importance, as they are of late 
origin, is a matter of course. They are excrescences upon 
real Vishnuism (Krishnaism) and the result of anthropomor- 
phizing in its fullest extent the image of the man-god, who 
is represented in the epic as the incarnation of the Supreme 
Spirit. The doctrine of the incarnation is thoroughly Indic. 
It is Buddhistic as well as Brahmanic, and precedes Vishnuism 
as it does Christianity. The lejrends are another matter. 
Here one has to assume direct contact with the Occident.^ 
But while agreeing with Weber and disagreeing with Barth in 
the determination of the relation of this secondary matter, we 
are unable to agree with Weber in his conclusions in regard to 
the one passage in the pseudo-epic that is supposed by him " to 
refer to a visit to a Christian church in Alexandria. This is the 
famous episode of the White Island, which, to be sure, occurs 
in so late a portion of the Book of Peace (xii. 337. 20 ff.) that 
it might well be what Weber describes it as being. But to us 
it appears to contain no allusion at all to Christianity. The 
account in brief is as follows : Three priests with the insignif- 
icant names " First, Second, Third," ^ go to the far North (///f 
tUtara) where, in the " Sea of Milk," they find an Albion called 
"White Island," perhaps regarded as one of the seven or 
thirteen 'islands,' of which earth consists; and there Vishnu 

1 Incidental rapport \\\W\ the Greeks has been pointed out in other instances ; the 
stira7tgd, a mine, of the late tale in i. 14S. 12, etc. {Ind. St. ii. p. 395), has been 
equated with syrinx; Skanda with Alexander, etc. It is needless to say that each of 
these is only a guess in etymology. But Greek influence is perceptible in the Greek 
soldiers and names of (Greek) kings that are found in the epic. 

2 Iitd. St. i. 423; ii. 169. Weber believes that little is native to India which re- 
sembles Christianity in the way of theology; love of God, special grace, monotheism, 
all to him are stolen. We regret that we must disagree with him in these instances. 

3 Ekata, Dvita, Trita. A Dvita appears as early as the Rig Veda. Ekata is an 
analogous formation and is old also. 


is worshipped as the one god by white men of extraordinary 
physical characteristics. 

The fact that the ' one god ' is already a hackneyed phrase of 
philosophy ; that there is no resemblance to a trinitarian god ; 
that the hymn sung to this one god contains no trace of Chris- 
tian influence, but is on the other hand thoroughly native in 
tone and phraseology, being as follows : " Victory to thee, thou 
god with lotus-eyes ; Reverence to thee, thou creator of all 
things ; Reverence be to thee, O Vishnu ; ^ thou Great Per- 
son ; first-born one" ; all these facts indicate that if the \^'hite- 
islanders are indeed to be regarded as foreigners worshipping 
a strange god, that god is strictly monotheistic and not trinita- 
rian. Weber lays stress on the expression 'first-born,' which 
he thinks refers to Christ ; but the epithet is old (Vedic), and 
is common, and means no more than 'primal deity.' 

There is much that appears to be foreign in the epic. This 
passage seems rather to be a recollection of some shrine where 
monotheism without Christianity was acknowledged. On the 
other hand, even in the pseudo-epic, there is much apparently 
borrowed which yet is altogether native to Brahmanic land and 
sect. It is not in any passage which is proved to be of foreign 
origin that one reads of the boy of twelve years who entered 
among the wise men and confuted their reasoning (above, p. 
382). It is not of course due to Christian influence that the 
great 'saint of the stake ' is taken by the 'king's men,' is cruci- 
fied (or literally impaled) among thieves, and lives so long that 
the guard go and tell the king of the miracle ;" nor is it neces- 
sary to assume that everything elevated is borrowed. "When I 
revile, I revile not again," sounds indeed like an echo of Chris- 
tian teaching, but how thoroughly Hindu is the reason. " For I 
know that self-control is the door of immortality." And in the 

1 Hrishlkega is 'lord of senses,' a common epithet of Vishnu (Krishna). 
- i. 107. I ff. The spirits of the dead come to him and comfort him in the shape 
of birds — an old trait, compare Baudh. Dh, C^'ast. ii. S. 14. 10 ; Q'at. Br. vi. 1.1.2. 


same breath, with a connection of meaning patent only when 
one regards the whole not as borrowed but as native, follow the 
words that we have ventured to put upon the title-page of this 
volume, as the highest and at the same time the truest expres- 
sion of a religion that in bringing the gods to men raised man 
to equality with God — " This is a holy mystery which I de- 
clare unto you : There is nothing nobler than humanity." ^ 

1 xii. 300. 20. 



Archaeologia, 'ancient lore,' is the meaning of Purana 
{purana, ' old '). The religious period represented by the extant 
writings of this class is that which immediately follows the 
completion of the epic.-^ These works, although they contain 
no real history, yet reflect history very plainly, and since the 
advent and initial progress of Puranic Hinduism, with its 
various cults, is contemporary with important political changes, 
it will be necessary briefly to consider the circumstances in 
which arose these new creeds, for they were destined to become 
in the future the controlling force in the development of Hindu 

In speaking of the extension of Buddhism we showed that 
its growth was influenced in no small degree by the fact that 
this caste-less and, therefore, democratic religion was adopted by 
post-Alexandrine rulers in the Graeco-Bactrian period. At this 
time the Aryans were surrounded with foreigners and pagans. 
To North and South spread savage or half Hinduized native 
tribes, while soldiers of Greece and Bactria encamped in the 
valley of the Ganges. Barbarians had long been active in the 

1 Parts of the epic are called Puranas, as other parts are called Upanishads, These 
are the forerunners of the extant Puranas. The name, indeed, is even older tlian 
the epic, belonging to the late Vedic period, where are grouped together Puranas and 
Itihasas, 'Ancient History' and 'Stories'; to which are added 'Eulogies.' Weber 
has long since pointed out that even when the 'deeds of kings' were sung at a 
ceremony they were wont to be so embroidered as to be dubbed ' fiction ' by the 
Hindus themselves. India has neither literary history (save what can be gleaned 
from genealogies of doubtful worth), nor very early inscriptions. The 'archaeology' 
of the Puranas was probably always what it is in the extant specimens, legendary 
material of no direct historical value. 


North, and some scholars have even claimed that Buddha's 
own family was of Turanian origin. The Brahmans then as 
now retained their prestige only as being repositories of ancient 
wisdom ; and outside of their own Mioly land' their influence 
was reduced to a minimum by the social and political tenden- 
cies that accompanied the growth of Buddhism. After the 
fourth century B.C. the heart of India, the 'middle district,' be- 
tween the Himalaya and Vindhya mountains from Delhi to 
Benares,^ was trampled upon by one Graeco-Bactrian horde 
after another. The principal effect of this rude dominion was 
eventually to give political equality to the two great rival 
religions. The Buddhist and the Brahman lived at last if not 
harmoniously, at least pacifically, side by side. Members of 
the same reigning family would profess Buddhism or Brahman- 
ism indifferently. One king would sometimes patronize both 
religions. And this continued to be the case till Buddhism 
faded out, replaced by that Hinduism which owed its origin 
partly to native un- Aryan influence (paganism), partly to this 
century-long fusion of the two state religions. 

To review these events : In the first decades of the fourth 
century (320 or 315-291 B.C.) Candragupta, Sandrocottos, had 
built up a monarchy in Behar '^ on the ruins left by the Greek 
invasion, sharing his power with Seleucus in the Northwest, 
and had thus prepared the way for his grandson, A^oka, the 
great patron of Buddhism (264 or 259). This native power 
fell before the hosts of Northern barbarians, which, after irrup- 
tions into India in the second century, got a permanent foot- 
hold there in the first century B.C. These Northern barbarians 
(their nationality is uncertain), whose greatest king was Ka- 
nishka, 78 a.d., ruled for centuries the land they had seized ; 
but they were vanquished at last in the sixth century, probably 

1 Strictly speaking to the present Allahabad, where is the Prayaga, or confluence 
of Yamuna and Ganga (Jumna and Ganges). 

2 Magadha ; called Behar from its many monasteries, vihdras, in A§oka's time. 


by Vikramaditya/ and were driven out. The breathing-space 
between Northern barbarian and Mohammedan was nominally 
not a long- one, but since the first Moslem conquests had no 
definitive result the new invaders did not quite overthrow Hindu 
rule till the end of the tenth century. During this period the 
native un-Aryan tribes, with their Hinduizing effect, were more 
distructive as regards the maintenance of the old Brahmanic 
cult than were outsiders."-^ 

When Tamerlane invaded India his was the fourth invasion 
after the conquest of the Punjab by the Moslem in 664.^ In 

1 So, plausibly, Miiller, loc. cit. below. 

2 The tribes became Hinduized, their chiefs became Rajputs; their religions doubt- 
less affected the ritual and creed of the civilized as much as the religion of the latter 
colored their own. Some of these un-Aryan peoples were probably part native, part 
barbaric. There is much doubt in regard to the dates that depend on accepted eras. 
It is not certain, for instance, that, as Miiller claims, Kanishka's inauguration coincides 
with the Qaka era, 'jZ a.d. A great Buddhist council was held under him. Some 
distinguished scholars still think with Biihler that Vikramaditya's inauguration was 
57 B.C. (the date that used to be assigned to him). From our present point of view 
it is of little consequence when this king himself lived. He is renowned as patron of 
arts and as a conqueror of the barbarians. If he lived in the first century B.C. his 
conquest amounted to nothing permanent. What is important, however, is that all 
Vikramaditya stands for in legend must have been in the sixth century a.d. For the 
drama, of which he is said to have been patron, represents a religion distinctly later 
than that of the body of the epic (completed in the sixth or seventh century, Biihler, 
Indian Studies, No. ii.). The dramatic and astronomical era was but introductory 
to Kumarila's reassertion of Brahmanism in the seventh century, when the Northern 
barbarian was gone, and the Mohammedan was not yet rampant. In the rest of 
Northern India there were several native dynasties in different quarters, with differ- 
ent eras ; one in Surashtra (Gujarat), one again in the ' middle district ' or ' North 
Western Provinces,' one in Kutch ; overthrown by Northern barbarians (in the fifth 
century) and by the Mohammedans (in the seventh and eighth centuries), respec- 
tively. Of these the Guptas of the ' middle district,' and the ValabhTs of Kutch, had 
neither of the eras just mentioned. The former dated from 320-321 (perhaps 319), 
the latter from 190 (a.d.). The word samvat, 'year,' indicates that the time is dated 
from either the Qaka or Vikramaditya era. See lA. xvii. 362; Fergusson, JRAS. 
xii. 259; Miiller, India, What Can It Teach Us^ p. 2S2 ; Kielhorn, lA.-xix. 24; 
xxii. III. The Northern barbarians are called Scythians, or Huns, or Turanians, 
according to fancy. No one really knows what they were. 

^ The first host was expelled by the Hindus in 750. After a period of rest Mah- 
mud was crowned in 997, who overran India more than a dozen times. In the fol- 


1525 the fifth conqueror, Baber, fifth too in descent from Tam- 
erlane, founded the Mogul empire that Listed till the fall of 
this dynasty (nominally till 1857). But it must be remem- 
bered that each new conqueror from 997 till 1525 merely con- 
quered old Mohammedan dynasties with new invasions. It 
was all one to the Hindu. He had the Mohammedan with 
him all this time ; only each new rival's success made his lot 
the harder. But Baber's grandson, the Great Mogul, Akbar 
(who reigned from 1556 to 1605), gave the land not only peace 
but kindness ; and under him Jew, Christian, Hindu, and 
Mohammedan at last forgot to fear or fight. After this there 
is only the overthrow of the Mohammedan power to record ; 
and the rise of the Mahratta native kingdoms. A new faith 
resulted from the amalgamation of Hinduism with Moham- 
medism (after 1500), as will be shown hereafter. 

In the pauses before the first Mohammedan invasion, and 
between the first defeat of the Mohammedans and their suc- 
cessful second conquest, the barbarians being now expelled and 
Buddhism beinsf decadent, Brahmanism rallied. In the sixth 
century there was toleration for all faiths. In the seventh cen- 
tury Kumarila renewed the strength of Brahmanism on the ritu- 
alistic side with attacks on Buddhism, and in the ninth century 
^ankara placed the philosophy of unsectarian pantheism on a 
firm basis by his commentary on the Vedanta Sutra. -^ These 
two men are the re-makers of ancient Brahmanism, which from 
this time on continued in its stereotyped form, adapting Hindu 

lowing centuries the land was conquered and the people crushed by the second great 
Mohammedan, Ghori, who died in 1206, leaving his kingdom to a vassal, Kutab, the 
' slave sultan ' of Delhi. In 1294, this slave dynasty having been recently supplanted, 
the new successor to the throne was slain by his own nephew, Allah-ud-din, who is 
reckoned as the third ]\Iohammedan conqueror of India. His successor swept even 
the Dekhan of all its Hindu (temple) wealth; but his empire finally broke down 
under its own size ; preparing the way for Timur (Tamerlane), who entered India in 

1 (^ankara himself was not a pure Brahman. Both Vishnuites and (^^ivaites lay 
claim to him. 


gods very coyly, and only as spirits of small importance, while 
relying on the laws as well as the gods of old, on holy acara or 
' custom,' and the now systematized exposition of its old 
(Upanishad) philosophy.^ Its creative force was already spent. 
Buddhism, on the other hand, was dying a natural death. The 
time was ripe for Hinduism, which had been gathering strength 
for centuries. After the sixth century, and perhaps even as late 
as 1500, or later, were written the modern Puranas, which 
embody the new belief.^ They cannot, on account of the dis- 
tinct advance in their cult, have appeared before the end of the 
epic age. The breathing spell (between barbarian and com- 
plete Mohammedan conquest) which gave opportunity to 
Kumarila to take a high hand with Buddhism, was an opportu- 
nity also for the codification of the new creeds. It is, therefore, 
to this era that one has probably to refer the first of the mod- 

1 Coy as was the Brahman in the adoption of the new gods he was wise enough to 
give them some place in his pantheon, or he would have offended his laity. Thus he 
recognizes Kali as well as C^ri ; in fact he prefers to recognize the female divinities of 
the sects, for they offer less rivalry. 

2 There was a general revival of letters antedating the Brahmanic theological 
revival. The drama, which reflects equally Hinduism and Brahmanism, is now the 
favorite light literature of tlie cultured. In the sixth century the first astronomical 
works are written (Varahamihira, who wrote the Brhat Samhitd), and the group of 
writers called the Nine Gems (reckoned of Vikramaditya's court) are to be referred to 
this time. The best known among them is Kalidasa, author of the (^^akitntald. An 
account of this Renaissance, as he calls it, will be found in Miiller's htdia, W/iat Can 
It Teach Us? The learned author is perhaps a little too sweeping in his conclusions. 
It is, for instance, tolerably certain that the Bharata was completed by the time the 
' Renaissance ' began ; so that there is no such complete blank as he assumes prior to 
Vikramaditya. But the general state of affairs is such as is depicted in the ingenious 
article referred to. The sixth and seventh centuries were eras that introduced mod- 
ern literature under liberal native princes, who were sometimes not Rajputs at all. 
Roughly speaking, one may reckon from 500 B.C. to the Christian era as a period of 
Buddhistic control, Graeco-Bactrian invasion, and Brahmanic decline. The first five 
centuries after the Christian see the two religions in a state of equilibrium, under 
Scythian control, and the I\Iaha-Bharata,the expanded Bharata, is vvritten. From 500 
to 1000 is an era of native rulers, Brahmanic revival in its pure form, and Hindu 
growth, with little trouble from the Mohammedans. Then for five centuries the hor- 
rors of Moslem conquest. 


ern sectarian Puranas, though the ritualistic Tantras and 
Ao^amas of the lower Civaite sects doubtless belono^ rather to 
the end than to the beginning of the period. We are strength- 
ened in this belief by the fact that the oldest of these works do 
not pretend to antedate Kumarila's century, though the sects 
mentioned in the epic are known in the first centuries of the 
Christian era. The time from the first to the seventh centuries 
one may accordingly suppose to have been the era during which 
was developing the Brahmanized form of the early Hindu sects, 
the literature of these and subsequent sects being composed in 
the centuries succeeding the latter term. These sects again 
divide into many subdivisions, of which we shall speak below. 
At present we take up the character of the Puranas and their 
most important points of difference as compared with the sec- 
tarian parts of the earlier pseudo-epic, examining especially the 
trinitarian doctrine, which they inculcate, and its history. 

Save in details, even the special ' faith-scriptures ' called 
Tantras go no further than go the Puranas in advocating the 
cult of their particular divinities. And to this advocacy of 
special gods all else in this class of writings is subordinated. The 
ideal Purana is divided into five parts, cosmogony, new creations, 
genealogies of gods and heroes, 7na}ivantaras (descriptions of 
periodic ' ages,' past and future), and dynasties of kings. But 
no extant Purana is divided thus. In the epic the doctrine of 
trinitarianism is barely formulated. Even in the Harivanca, or 
Genealogy, vahca^ of Vishnu, there is no more than an inverted 
triunity, 'one form, three gods,' where, in reality, all that is 
insisted upon is the identity of Vishnu and (Jiva, Brahma being, 
as it were, perfunctorily added. ^ In the Puranas, on the other 
hand, while the trinity is acknowledged, religion is resolved 
again into a sort of sectarian monotheism, where the devotee 
seems to be in the midst of a squabbling horde of temple-priests, 
each fighting for his own idol. In the calmer aspects of religion, 

1 Har. 10,662. Compare the laudation of 'the two gods ' in the same section. 


apart from sectarian schism, these writings offer, indeed, much 
that is of second-rate interest, but little that is of real value. 
The idle speculations in regard to former divinities are here 
made cobweb thin. The philosophy is not new, nor is the 
spirit of religion raised, even in the most inspired passages, to 
the level which it has reached in the Divine Song. Some of 
these Puranas, of which eighteen chief are cited, but with an 
unknown number of subordinate works, ^ may claim a respect- 
able age ; many of them are the most wretched stuff imaginable, 
bearing about the same literary and historical relation to earlier 
models as do the later legal Smritis. In fact, save for their 
religious (sectarian) purport, the Puranas for sections together 
do not differ much in content from legal Smritis, out of which 
some may have been evolved, though, probably, they were from 
their inception legendary rather than didactic. It is more 
probable, therefore, that they appropriated Smriti material 
just as they did epic material ; and though it is nov/ received 
opinion that legal Smritis are evolved out of Sutras, this yet can 
be the case only with the oldest, even if the statement then can 
be accepted in an unqualified form. In our own opinion it is 
highly probable that Puranas and later legal Smritis are diver- 
gent developments from the same source.^ One gives an account 
of creation, and proceeds to tell about the social side ; the other 
sticks to the accounts of creation, goes on to theology, takes up 
tales of heroes, introduces speculation, is finally wrenched over 
to and amplified by sectarian writers, and so presents a com- 
posite that resembles epic and law, and yet is generally religious 
and speculative. 

1 As the Jains have Angas and Upangas, and as the pseudo-epic distinguishes 
Nishads and Upanishads, so tlie Brahman has Puranas and Upapuranas (Kurma 
Purana, i. p. 3). Some of the sects acknowledge only six Puianas as orthodox. 

2 As an example of a Puranic Smriti (legal) we may cite the trash published as the 
Vrddha-Harita-Saiiihita Here there is polemic against Qiva ; one must worship 
Jagannath with flowers, and every one must be branded with the Vishnu disc (cakra). 
Even women and slaves are to use imintras, etc. 


A striking instance of this may be seen in the law-book of 
'Vishnu.' Here there is an old base of legal lore, Sutra, inter- 
larded with Puranic material, and built up with sectarianism. 
The writer is a Vishnuite, and while recognizing the trinity, does 
not hesitate to make his law command offerings to Krishna 
Vasudeva, and his family (Pradyumna, Aniruddha), along with 
the regular Brah'manic oblations to older spirits.^ Brahmanism 
recognized Hindu deities as subordinate powers at an early date, 
at least as early as the end of the Sutra period ; while Manu 
not only recognizes Vishnu and Civa (Hara), but recommends 
an oblation to Qri and Kali (Bhadrakali, here, as elsewhere, is 

In their original form the Puranas were probably Hesiodic in 
a great extent, and doubtless contained much that was after- 
wards specially developed in more prolix form in the epic itself. 
But the works that are come down as Puranas are in general 
of later sectarian character, and the epic language, phraseology, 
and descriptions of battles are more likely taken straight from 
the epic than preserved from ante-epic times. Properly speak- 
ing one ought to give first place to the Puranas that are incor- 
porated into the epic. The epic Markandeya Purana, for 
instance, is probably a good type of one of the earlier works 
that went by this name. That the present Puranas are imita- 
tions of the epic, in so far as they treat of epic topics, may be 
presumed from the fact that although they often have the 
formulae intact of the battlefield,^ yet do they not remain by 
epic descriptions but add weapons, etc., of more modern date 
than are employed in the original.* 

1 The lateness of this law-book is evident from its advocacy of sitttee (xxv. 14), its 
preference for female ancestors (see below), etc. 

2 Manu, iii. 89 ; xii. 121, 

3 As, for example, in Kurma Purana, xvi. p. 1S6, where is found a common epic 
verse description of battle. 

4 A good instance of this is found in Brihan Xaradiya Purana, x., where the cJnirikd 
and drughana (24) appear in an imitative scene of this sort ; one of these being later, 
the other earlier, than the epic vocabulary. 


The sectarian monotheism of the Puranas never resulted in 
dispensing with the pantheon. The Hindu monotheist is a pan- 
theist, and whether sectarian or pliilosophical, he kept and added 
to his pantheon.-^ Indra is still for warriors, Maruts for hus- 
bandmen, althougli old views shift somewhat. So for example, in 
the Kurma Purana the Gandharvas are added for the ^iidras.'' 
The fourfoldness, which we have shown in the epic to be char- 
acteristic of Vishnu, is now represented by the militar}- epithet 
caturvyuhas (agmen quadratum), in that the god represents 
peace, wisdom, support, and renunciation ; though, as a matter 
of fact, he is avyu/ia, i.e., without any of these. ^ Starting with 
the physical 'god of the four quarters,' one gets even in the 
epic the ' controller of four,' or perfect person, conceived like 
avr]p rerpdyiovoq. Tennyson's ' four-square to all the winds that 
blow ' is a good connecting link in the thought. The Puranas 
are a mine of legend, although most of the stories seem to be 
but epic tales, more or less distorted. Nala ' the great-great- 
grandson of Rama ' is described after the history of Rama him- 
self ; the installation of Puru, when his father had passed over 
his eldest son, and such reminiscences of the epic are the stock 
in trade of the legendary writers.'* 

The origin of the four castes ; ^ the descriptions of hell, some- 

1 Perhaps the most striking distinction between Vedic and Puranic, or, one may 
say, Indie Aryan and Hindu reUgions, is the emphasis laid in the former upon Right ; 
in tlie latter, upon idols. The Vedic religion insists upon the law of right (order), 
that is, the sacrifice ; but it insists also upon right as rectitude, truth, holiness. Puranic 
Hinduism insists upon its idols ; only incidentally does it recommend rectitude, truth, 
abstract holiness. 

2 KP. i. p. 29. 

3 Kiirma, xii. p. 102. Contrast i7>. xxii. p. 245, catiirvyHhadha7-o Vishmir avyiihas 
p7-ocyate (elsewhere Jiavavyuha). Philosophically, in the doctrine of the epic 

Paficaratras (still held by some sectaries), Mshnu is to be revered as Krishna, 
Balarama. Pradyumna, Aniruddha (Krishna's brother, son, and grandson), represent- 
ing, respectively, dtvid, J'lva, supreme and individual spirit, perception, and con- 
sciousness. Compare Mbha. xii. 340. 8, 72. 
^ KP. xxi. p. 236 ; xxii. p. 238, etc. 

o lb. I, p. 23. 

THE PUR AN AS. - 443 

what embellished/ where the 'sinful are cooked in fire';^ 
the exaltation of Vishnu as Krishna or Rama in one, and that 
of Civa in another — these and similar aspects are reflections of 
epic matter, spirit, tone, and language, only the faith is still 
fiercer in religious matters, and the stories are fainter in histori- 
cal references. According to the Purana last cited: "There is 
no expiation for one that bows to a phallic emblem," />., ^ivaite, 
and " all the Bauddhas are heretics";^ and according to the 
Kurma Purana : " Vishnu is the divinity of the gods ; ^iva, of 
the devils," although the preceding verses teach, in the spirit of 
the Divine Song, that each man's divinity is that which he con- 
ceives to be the divinity. Such is the concluding remark made 
by Vasistha in adjudicating the strife between the Vishnuite 
and Qivaite sectaries of the epic heroes.^ The relation that 
the Puranic literature bears to religion in the minds of its authors 
is illustrated by the remark of the Naradiya to the effect that 
the god is to be honored "by song, by music, by dance, and by 
recounting the Puranas" (xvii. 9). 

Some of the epic religious ceremonies which there are barely 
alluded to are here described with almost the detail of a tech- 
nical handbook. So the Naradiya (xix.) gives an elaborate ac- 
count of the raising of a dhvaja or standard as a religious 
ceremony.'^ The legal rules affecting morality and especially 
caste-intercourse ^ show a laxity in regard to the rules as for- 

1 Compare Brihan Naradiya Purana. xiv. 10, balii'ini kdsthaydntrdni (torture 
machines) in hell. The old tale of Xaciketas is retold at great length in the Varaha 
Purana. The oldest Purana, the Markandeya, has but seven hells, a conception older 
than Manu's twenty-one (compare on MP. x. So ff., Scherman, loc. cit. p. 33), or the 
later lists of thousands. The Padma Purana, which celebrates Rama, has also seven 
hells, and is in part old, for it especially extols Pushkara (Brahma's lone shrine) ; 
but it recommends the iaptaviiidra^ or branding with hot iron. 

2 Nar. xiv. 2. 3 xiv. 54 and 70. 
•i KP. xxii. pp. 239-241. 

5 As will be shown below, it is possible that this may be a ceremony first taken 
from the wild tribes. See the ' pole ' rite described above in the epic. 

6 Compare for instance ib. xxviii. 68, on the strange connection of a (^iidra wife of 
a Guru. 


merly preached. Even the old Puranic form of the epic is 
reproduced, as when Markandeya converses again with Yudhis- 
tris, exactly as he does in the epic.-^ The duration of the ages ; 
the fruit of sacrifices, among which are still mentioned the 
rajasnya^ acvamcdha^ and other ancient rites ; ^ the virtue of 
holy-places ; " the admixture of pure pantheism with the idea 
of a personal creation'* — these traits are again just those 
which have been seen already in the epic, nor is the addition 
of sections on temple-service, or other more minute details 
of the cult, of particular importance in a history of religious 

The Puranas for our present purpose may all be grouped 
v;ith the remark that what is ancient in them is a more or less 
fugitive resemblance to the epic style and matter ; ^ what is new 
is the more pronounced sectarianism with its adventitious 
growth of subordinate spiritualities and exaggerated miracles. 
Thus for instance in the Yaraha Purana there are eleven, in 
the Bhagavat Purana twenty (instead of the older ten) ai'atars 
of Vishnu. So too the god of love — although Kama and his 
dart are recognized in the late Atharvan — as a petty spirit re- 
ceives homage only in the latest Sutra (as Cupid, Apastamba, 
ii. 2. 4. i), and in late additions to the epic he is a little god ; 
whereas in the drama he is prominent, and in the Puranas his 
cult is described at length (though to-day he has no temple). 
The 'mother '-fiend Piitana, who suckles babes to slay them, 

1 KP. xxxvi. It is of course impossible to say how much epic m.aterial is come 
from the literary epic and how much is drawn from popular poetry, for t!ie vulgar 
had their own epoidic songs which may have treated of the same topics. Thus even 
a wild tribe (Gonds) is credited with an 'epic' But such stuff was probably as 
worthless as are the popular songs of to-day. 

- KP. XXX. p. 305 ; xxxvii. p. 352. 3 /^^ p. ^--^ 

^ Compare Naradlya, xi. 23, 27, 31 'the one whom no one knows." ' he that rests 
in the heart,' ' he that seems to be far off because we do not know,' * he whose form is 
(^iva, lauded by Vishnu,' xiii. 201. 

5 Even Vishnu as a part of a part of the Supreme Spirit in VP. is indicated by 
Vishnu's adoration of dtmd in the epic (see above). 



is scarcely known to the early epic, but she is a very real per- 
sonality in the late epic and Puranas. 

The addition to the trinity of the peculiar inferior godhead 
that is advocated in any one Purana, virtually making four di- 
vinities, is characteristic of the period. 

In proportion as sectarian ardor is heightened religious tone 
is lowered. The Puranic votary clinging to his one idea of 
god curses all them that believe in other aspects of the divin- 
ity. Blind bigotry fills the worshipper's soul. Religion be- 
comes mere fanaticism. But there is also tolerance. Some- 
times in one and the same Purana rival forms are honored. 
The modern Hindu sects are in part the direct development of 
Puranic doctrine. But most of the sects of to-day are of very 
recent date, though their principles are often of respectable 
antiquity, as are too their sectarian signs, as well as the ani- 
mals of their gods, some of which appear to be totems of the 
wild tribes, while others a're merely objects of reverence among 
certain tribes. Thus the ram and the elephant are respectively 
the ancient beasts of Agni and Indra. Qiva has the bull ; his 
spouse, the tiger. Earth and Skanda have appropriated the 
peacock, Skanda having the cock also. Yama has the buffalo 
(compare the Khond, wild-tribe, substitution of a buffalo for a 
man in sacrifice). Love has the parrot, etc.; while the boar 
and all Vishnu's animals in avatars are holy, being his chosen 


A classification of older sects (the unorthodox) than those of 
the present remains to us from the works of Qankara's reputed 
disciple, Ananda Giri, and of ]\Iadhava Acarya, the former a 
writer of the ninth, the latter of the fourteenth century. Ac- 
cording to the statements made by these writers there were a 
great number of sects, regarded as partly heterodox or wholly 

1 Compare Williams' Brahnianism and Hindiiism, 


SO, and it is interesting in examining the list of these to see 
that some of the epic sects (their names at least) are still in 
full force, while on the other hand the most important factions 
of to-day are not known at all ; and that many sects then existed 
which must have been at that time of great antiquity, although 
now they have wholly passed away.-^ These last are indeed to 
the author of the critique of the sects not wdiolly heterodox. 
They are only too emphatic, in worshipping their peculiar divin- 
ity, to suit the more modern conceptions of the Hindu reviewer. 
But such sects are of the highest importance, for they show 
that despite all the bizarre bigotry of the Puranas the old 
Vedic gods (as in the epic) still continue to hold their own, 
and had their own idols and temples apart from other newer 
gods. The Vedic divinities, the later additions in the shape of 
the god of love, the god of wealth, Kubera,- the heavenly bird, 
Garuda, the v»'orld-snake, Q^sha, together with countless genii, 
spirits, ghosts, the Manes, the heavenly bodies, stars, etc., all 
these were revered, though of less importance than the gods of 
Vishnuite and ^^vaite sects. Among these latter the Qivaite 
sects are decidedly of less interest than the corresponding Vish- 
nuite heresies, while the votaries of Brahma (exclusively) are 
indeed mentioned, but they cannot be compared with those of 
the other two great gods.^ To-day there is scarcely any homage 
paid to Brahma, and it is not probable that there ever was the 
same devotion or like popularity in his case as in the case of 
his rivals. Other interesting sects of this period are the Sun- 
worshippers, who still exist but in no such numbers as when 

1 Qankara's adherents are chiefly Qivaite, but he himself was not a sectary. 
Wilhams saj's that at the present day few worsliip Qiva exclusively, but he has more 
partial adherents than has Vishnu. Religious Thought and Life, pp. 59, 62. 

2 The two last are just recognized in Brahmanic legal works. 

3 See Wilson's sketch of Hindu sects. The author says that there were in his day 
two shrines to Brahma, one in Ajmir (compare Pushkara in the epic), and one on the 
Ganges at Bithur. The Brahma Purana is known also as Saura (sun). This is the 
first in the list ; in its present state it is Vishnuite. 


Ananda Giri counted six formal divisions of them. The vota- 
ries of these sub-sects worshipped some, the rising sun, some, 
the setting sun, while some again worshipped the noonday 
sun, and others, all three as a ti'i-7iiurti. Another division wor- 
shipped the sun in anthropomorphic shape, while the last 
aw^akens the wrath of the orthodox narrator by branding them- 
selves with hot irons. ^ 

Ganega,^ the lord of ^iva's hosts, had also six classes of 
worshippers ; but he has not now as he then had a special and 
peculiar cult, though he has many temples in Benares and 
elsewhere. Of the declared Qivaite sects of that day, six are 
mentioned, but of these only one survives, the ' wandering ' 
Jangamas of South India, the Qivaite Raudras, Ugras, Bhaktas, 
and Pacupatis having yielded to more modern sectaries. 

Some at least among the six sects of the Vishnuite sects, 
wdiich are described by the old writers, appear to have been 
more ancient. Here too one finds Bhaktas, and with them the 
Bhagavatas, the old Pancaratras, the 'hermit' Vaikhanasas, and 
Karmahinas, the latter '' having no rites." Concerning these 
sects one gets scanty but direct information. They all wor- 
shipped Vishnu under on.e form or another, the Bhaktas as 
Vasudeva, the Bhagavatas ^ as Bhagavat. The latter resembled 
the modern disciples of Ramanuja and revered the holy-stone, 
appealing for authority to the Upanishads and to the Bhagavad 
Gita, the Divine Song. Some too worshipped Vishnu exclu- 

1 Sun-worship (Iranian ?) is especially pronounced in the Bhavishya(t) Purana. Of 
the other Puranas the Linga is especially C^ivaite {linga is phallus), as are the 
Matsya and older \'ayu. Sometimes C^iva is androgynous, ardkandrt^vara, ' half- 
female.' But most of the Puranas are Vishnuite. 

2 On the Ganega Purana see JRAS. 1S46, p. 319. 

•"5 The worshippers of Bhagavat were originally distinct from the Paficaratras, but 
what was the difference between them is unknown. The sect of this name in the 
pseudo-epic is not (,akta in expression but only monotheistic. Probably the names 
of many sects are retained with altered beliefs and practices. The Vishnu Purana, 
1. II. 54, gives a model prayer which may be taken once for all as the attitude of the 
Vishnuite : " Glory to Vasudeva, him of perfected wisdom, whose unrevealed form is 
(known as) Brahir.a, Vishnu, and C^iva" (Hiranyagarbha, Purusha, Pradhana). 


sively as Narayana, and believed in a heaven of sensual delights. 
The other sects, now extinct, offer no special forms of worship. 
What is historically most important is that in this list of sects 
are found none that particularly worship the popular divinities 
of to-day, no peculiar cult of Krishna as an infant and no 

Infidel sects are numerous in this period, of which sects the 
worst in the old writers' opinion is the sensual Carvaka. Then 
follow the (Buddhist) ^linyavads, who believe in 'void,' and 
Saugatas, who believe that religion consists only in kindness, 
the Kshapanakas, and the Jains. The infamous ' left-hand ' 
sectaries are also well known. 

To one side of the Puranic religions, from the earlier time of 
which comes this account of heresies, reference has been made 
above: the development of the fables in regard to the infant 
Krishna. That the cult is well known in the later Puranas 
and is not mentioned in this list of wrong beliefs seems to 
show that the whole cult is of modern growth, even if one does 
not follow Weber in all his signs of modification of the older 


For the history of the cult there is in these works much to 
interest one in the description and determination of popular 
festivals in honor of the great sectarian gods. Further details 
of more specific nature are given in other works which need 
not here be regarded. By far the most important of these 
festivals are those that seem to have been absorbed by the 
sectarian cults, although they were originally more popular. 
Weber in the paper on the rajasilya, to which we have had oc- 
casion several times to refer, has shown that a popular element 
abided long in the formal celebrations of the Brahmanic ritual.-^ 

1 Weber shows for instance, loc. cit., that Indra takes the place of older Varuna ; 
that the house-priest yields to the Brahma ; that in this feast in honor of the king he 


Undoubtedly the original celebration was a popular one. To- 
day the most interesting of these popular fetes is in all respects 
the New Year's Festival and the Spring Festival. The latter 
has been cut up into several parts, and to show the whole intent 
of the original ceremonial it is necessary to take up the disjecta 
membra and place them side by side, as has been done by 
Wilson, whose sketch of these two festivals, together with that 
by Gover of the New Year's Feast called Pongol, we give in 
abstract, premising that, however close be the comparison 
with European festivals of like nature, we doubt whether there 
is any historical connection between them and the Hindu 

We begin with the more popular New Year's, the Pongol:^ 
The interesting feature of this South India festival is that 
the Hindus have done their best to alter its divinities and 
failed. They have, indeed, for Indra and Agni got Krishna 
formally accepted as the god in whose honor it is supposed 
to be held, but the feast remains a native festival, and 
no one really thinks of the Puranic gods in connection 
with it. Europe also has seen such dynamic alterations of 
divinities in cases where feasts would persist till patrons of 
an orthodox kind were foisted upon them to give an air of pro- 
priety to that which remained heathenish.^ The Pongol is a 
New Year's festival lastins: for three davs. The first dav is for 
Indra; the second, for (x\gni) Surya;^ the third (to which is 

is soundly beaten ; that gaming creeps into the ceremony as a popular aspect ; that 
there was a special ceremony to cure katzcnjammer caused by over-drinking ; and 
that the whole ceremony was a popular spring festival, such as is found to-day (but 
without the royal part in the play). 

1 Govar, JRAS. v. 91 ; lA. xx. 430. 

- In Hinduism itself there is a striking example of this. The Jagannath ('Jug- 
gernaut') temple was once dedicated to Buddha as loka-iidtJi or J agan-ndih,'' s?iV\ovir 
of the world.' Name, temple, and idol-car are now all Vishnu's ! 

3 That is, Rain and Sun, for all Indra's warlike qualities are forgotten, absorbed 
into those of Qiva and his son, the battle-god. The sun crosses the equator at noon 
of the second day, the ' Maha Pongol.' 


added, as a wind-up, a fourth day), for cattle. The whole 
feast is a harvest-home and celebration of cattle. The chief 
ceremony is the cooking of rice, which is put to boil with great 
solemnity, and luck for the next year is argued from its boiling 
well. If it does so a universal shout arises,^ all rush about, 
congratulate, and give presents to each other, and merry- 
making follows. On the cattle-days the beasts are led about 
with painted horns and decorated with ribbons, and are then 
chased and robbed by the boys. The image of Gane^a is the 
only one seen, and his worship is rather j^erfunctory. On the 
evening of the last day the women have a party, paying obei- 
sance to a peacock, and indulging in a family reunion of very 
simple character. On this occasion the girl-wife may return 
for a few hours to her mother. It is the only general fete for 
women during the year. 

Not unlike this festival of the extreme south is the New 
Year's celebration at the mouth of the Ganges. Here there is 
a grand fair and jewels are cast into the river as propitiation 
to the river-goddess. Not long ago it was quite customary to 
fling children also into the river, but this usage has now been 
abolished." Offerings are made to the Manes, general and 
particular, and to the All-gods. As with the Pongol, the feast is 
one of good-fellowship where presents are distributed, and its 
limit is the end of the third day. After this the festivities 

1 " Now every neck is bent, for the surface of the water is disturbed. Then with 
a heave, a liiss, and a surge of bubbles, the seething milk mounts to the top of the 
vessel. Before it has had time to run down the blackened sides, the air resounds with 
the sudden joyous cry of ' Pongol, oh Pongol, Siirya, Surya, oh Pongol,' The word 
Pongol means '"boiling." from the Tamil word fongu, to boil; so that the joyous 
shout is, ' It boils, oh Surya, it boils.' In a moment a convulsion of greetings ani- 
mates the assembly. Every one seizes his neighbor and asks, ' Has it boiled ?' Both 
faces gleam with delight as the answer comes — ' It has boiled.' Then both shout at 
the top of their voices — ' Oh Pongol, Pongol, oh Surya, oh Indra, Pongol, Pongol.' " 
Cover, loc. cit. 

2 The crocodile, makara, like the parrot, is sacred "to^Kamadeva, Love. But 
as Ganges also is holy it is difficult to say for which divinity the offering was in- 
tended. Some, indeed, interpret viakara as dolphin. 


have no religious character. Thousands of pilgrims assemble 
for this fete. Wilson, who gives an account of this celebration, 
compares the ancient Roman New Year's, with the juutni 
amoris pignora which were sent at that season. The gifts in 
India are sweetmeats and other delicacies, ominous of good 
for the next year.^ 

On the 2d of February occurs a feast to (^ri, or Lakshmi, 
Vishnu's bride, patroness of all prosperity to her worshippers. 
At present it is a literary festival on which all books, inkstands, 
pens, etc., are cleaned and worshipped, as adjuncts to Sara- 
svati, the goddess of learning. This is rather significant, for 
Sarasvati is properly the wife of Brahma, but the Vishnuites of 
Bengal have made her the wife of Vishnu, and identified her 
with Qri. It is to be noticed that in this sole celebration of 
abstract learning and literature there is no recognition of ^iva, 
but rather of his rival. Qiva and Ganega are revered because 
they might impede, not because, as does Sarasvati, they further 
literary accomplishment. Sarasvati is almost the only fair god- 
dess. She is represented not as a horror, but as a beautiful 
woman sitting on a lotus, graceful in shape, a crescent on her 
brow.^ The boys, too, celebrate the day with games, bat and 
ball, prisoner's base, and others " of a very European charac- 
ter." The admixture of sectarian cults is shown by the trans- 
ference to this Vishnuite feast of the Qivaite (Durga) practice 

1 A feast now neglected, though kept up by strict Brahmans, occurs on or about 
the 20th January. The orthodox adherents of the Qivaite sects and (^aktas also ob- 
serve it. It is a (^raddha, or funeral feast to the Manes. Also on the 26th and 30th 
January there are rites nearly obsolete, the first being signalized by offerings to 
Yama; the second, a Qivaite feast (to his spouse, as ' giver of bridegrooms'). The 
last is more celebrated in the South than in the North, It is interesting chiefly as a 
parallel to St. Valentine's day, or, as Wilson says, the nearer feast of St. Agnes (21st 
January), on the eve of which divination is practiced to discover future husbands. It is 
this time also that the Greeks call ' marriage-month ' (Gamelion) ; and the fourth day 
from the new moon (which gives the name to this Hindu festival, catiirt/n, "fourth 
day") is the day when Hesiod recommends the bringing home of the bride. 

- In case any writing has to be done on this day it is done with chalk, not with 
the pens, " which have a complete holiday '" (Wilson). 


of casting into the river the in" ges of the goddess.^ When 
appUed distinctly to Sarasvati th "east is observed in August- 
September ; when to Lakshmi, v October November, or in 
February. There is, however, another feast, celebrated in the 
North and South, which comes on the exact date fixed by the 
Romans for the beginning of spring, and as an ending to this 
there is a feast to Kama, Cupid, and his bride Rati (' Enjoy- 
ment "). This is the Vasanta, or spring festival of prosperity 
and love, which probably was the first form of the Lakshml- 
Sarasvati feast. 

Another traditional feast of this month is the loth- (the 
eleventh lunar day of the light half of Magha). The eleventh 
lunar day is particularly holy with the Yishnuites, as is said in 
the Brahma Purana, and this is a Vishnuite festival. It is a 
day of fasting and prayer, with presents to priests.^ It appears 
to be a mixture of Vedic prayers and domestic Vishnu-worship. 
On the nth of February the fast is continued, and in both the 
object is expiation of sin. The latter is called the feast of ' six 
sesamum acts,' for sesamum is a holy plant, and in each act of 
this rite it play a part. Other rites of this month are to the 
Manes on the 14th, 2 2d, and 24th of February. Bathing and 
oblation are requisite, and all are of a lustral and expiatory 
nature. Wilson remarks on the fact that it is the same time of 
year in which the Romans gave oblations to the Manes, and 

1 The invocations show very well how the worship of Brahma has been driven out 
in honor of his more powerful rivals. For Sarasvati is invoked first as '" Thou with- 
out whom Brahm.a never lives " ; but again as " Thou of eight forms, Lakshm.i, IMedha, 
Dhava, Pushtl, Gauri, Tushti, Prabha, Dhriti, O Sarasvati." The great festivals, 
like the great temples, are not very stricty sectarian. Williams says that in (^iva's 
temple in Benares are kept monkeys (sacred to Vishnu). 

- Between this and the last occur minor holidays, one to avert small-pox ; one 
(February the 4th) sacred to the sun (Sunday, the seventh day of each lunar fortnight, 
is strictly observed) ; and one to the Manes. 

^ Fasting is not necessarily a part of civilized religion alone. It is found in the 
Brahmanic and Hindu cults, but it obtains also among the American Indians. Thus 
the Dacotahs fast for two or three days at the worship of sun and moon. School- 
craft, Histor. and Statist.^ iii. 227. 


that Februus is the god of pr^ilication. "There can be no rea- 
sonable doubt that the Fer^ ^i, of the Romans and the Qraddha 
(feast to the Manes) of thtjj^lindus, the worship of the Pitris 
and of the ManeSj have a common character, and had a com- 
mon origin." ^ ^^ 

The 27th of February is the greatest Qivaite day in the year. 
It celebrates (Jiva's first manifestation of himself in phallic 
form. To keep this day holy expiates from all sin, and secures 
bliss hereafter. The worshipper must fast and revere the 
Linga. Offerings are made to the Linga. It is, of course, a 
celebration formed of unmeaning repetitions of syllables and 
the invocation of female Qaktis, snapping the fingers, gesticu- 
lating, and performing all the humbug called for by Civaite 
worship. The Linga is bathed in milk, decorated, wrapped in 
bilva leaves, and prayed to ; which ceremony is repeated at 
intervals with slight changes. All castes, even the lowest, join 
in the exercises. Even women may use the 7na?itras.- Vigil 
and fasting are the essentials of this worship.^ 

The next festival closes these great spring celebrations. It 
bears two names, and originally was a double feast, the first 
part being the Dola Yatra, or ' Swing-procession,' the second 
part being the execrable Holi. They are still kept distinct in 
some places, and when this occurs the Dolotsava, or Dola 
Yatra, follows the Holi. They are both spring festivals, and 
answer roughly to May-day, though in India they come at the 
full moon of March. We have followed Wilson's enumeration 
of all the minor spring feasts, that they may be seen in their 

1 The last clause (meaning * common historical origin ') were better omitted. 

2 Except the mystic syllable Om, supposed to represent the trinity {Otn is a, v, vi), 
though probably it was originally only an exclamation. 

" A small Vishnu festival in honor of Vishnu as ' man-lion ' (one of his ten avatm-s) 
is celebrated on the 13th of INIarch ; but in Bengal in honor of the same god as a 
cow-boy. On the 1 5th of IMarch there is another minor festival in Bengal, but it is 
to (^iva. or rather to one of his hosts, under the form of a water pot (that is to preserve 
from disease). 


entirety. But in ancient times there was probably one long 
Vasantotsava (spring-festival), which lasted for weeks, begin- , 
ning with a joyous celebration (2d of February) and continuing 
with lustral ceremonies, as indicated by the now detached feast 
days already referred to. The original cult, in Wilson's opinion, 
has been changed, and the Dola Yatra is now given over to the 
Krishna-cult, while the Holi divinity is a hobgoblin. The Dola 
Yatra begins with fasting and ends (as Holi) with lire-worship. 
An imige of Krishna is sprinkled with red powder (cilur), and 
after this (religious) ceremony a bonfire ^ is made, and an effigy, 
Holika, is put upon it and burned. The figure is carried to 
the fire in a religious procession headed by Vishnuite or Brah- 
man priests, of course accompanied with music and song. 
After seven circumambulations of the fire the figure is burned. 
This is the united observance of the first day. At dawn on the 
morning of the second day the image of Krishna is placed in a 
swing, dola, and swung back and forth a few times, which cere- 
mony is repeated at noon and at sunset. During the day, 
wherever a swing is put up, and in the vicinity, it is the com- 
mon privilege to sprinkle one's friend with the red powder or 
red rose-water. Boys and common people run about the streets 
sprinkling red water or red powder over all passengers, and 
using abusive (obscene) language. The cow-herd caste is con- 
spicuous at this ceremony. The cow-boys, collecting in parties 
under a koryphaios, hold, as it were, a komos, leaping, singing, 
and dancing ^ through the streets, striking together the wands 
which they carry. These cow-boys not only dress (as do others) 
in new clothes on this occasion,^ but they give their cattle new 

i The bonfire is made of fences, doorposts, furniture, etc. Nothing once seized and 
devoted to the fire may be reclaimed, but the owner may defend his property if he can. 
Part of the horse-play at this time consists in leaping over the fire, which is also ritu- 
alistic with some of the hill-tribes. 

2 Compare the Nautch dances on Ramacandra's birthday. Religious dances, gen- 
erally indecent, are also a prominent feature of the religions of the wild tribes (as 
among American and African savages, Greeks, etc., etc.). 

3 The ' Easter bonnet ' in Indie form. 


equipments, and regard the whole frolic as part of a religious 
rite in honor of Krishna, the cow-herd. But all sects take part 
in the performance (that is to say, in the Holi portion), both 
Qivaites and Vishnuites. When the moon is full the celebra- 
tion is at its height. Holi songs are sung, the crowed throws 
abli% the chiefs feast, and an all-night orgy ends the long 
carousal.-^ In the south the Dola takes place later, and is dis- 
tinct from the Holi. The burning here is of Kama, com- 
memorating the love-god's death by the fire of ^iva's eye, 
when the former pierced the latter's heart, and inflamed him 
with love. For this reason the bonfire is made before a 
temple of Qiva. Kama is gone from the northern cult, and in 
upper India only a hobgoblin, Holi, a foul she-devil, is asso- 
ciated with the rite. The whole performance is described and 
prescribed in one of the late Puranas.^ In some parts of the 
countrv the bonfire of the Holi is made about a tree, to which 
offerings are made, and afterwards the whole is set on fire. For 
a luminous account of the Holi, which is perhaps the worst open 
rite of Hinduism, participated in by all sects and classes, we 
may cite the words of the author of Ante-B ralwianical Religions : 
" It has been termed the Saturnalia or Carnival of the Hindus. 
Verses the most obscene imaginable are ordered to be read on 
the occasion. Figures of men and women, in the most indecent 
and disgusting attitudes, are in many places openly paraded 
through the streets ; the most filthy words are uttered by per- 
sons who, on other occasions, would think themselves disgraced 
by the use of them; bands of men parade the street with their 
clothes all bespattered with a reddish dye ; dirt and filth are 

1 In sober contrast stands the yearly orthodox Qraddha celebration (August- 
September), though Brahmans join in sectarian fetes. 

'^ Wilson draws an elaborate parallel between the Holi and the Lupercalia, etc. 
(Carnival). But the points of contact are obvious. One of the customs of the Holi 
celebration is an exact reproduction of April-Fool's day. Making " Holi fools" is to 
send people on useless errands, etc. (Festum Stultorum, at the Vernal Equinox, trans- 
ferred by the Church to the first of November, " Innocents' Day "). 


thrown upon all that are seen passing along the road ; all busi- 
ness is at a stand, all gives way to license and riot." ^ 

Besides these the most brilliant festivals are the Ras Yatra in 
Bengal (September-October), commemorating the dance of 
Krishna with the gopls or milk-maids, and the ' Lamp-festival ' 
(Dipala), also an autumnal celebration. 

The festivals that we have reviewed cover but a part of the 
year, but they will suffice to show the nature of such fetes as 
are enjoined in the Puranas. There are others, such as the 
eightfold - temple-worship of Krishna as a child, in July or 
August ; the marriage of Krishna's idol to the Tulasi plant ; 
the Awakenihg of Vishnu, in October, and so forth. But no 
others compare in importance with the New Year's and Spring 
festivals, except the Bengal idol-display of Jagannath, the 
Rath Yatra of 'Juggernaut'; and some others of local celeb- 
rity, such as the Durga-puja.^ The temples, to which reference 
has often been made, have this in common with the great Qivaite 
festivals, that to describe them in detail would be but to trans- 
late into w^ords images and wall-paintings, the obscenity of which 
is better left undescribed. This, of course, is particularly true 
of the Qiva temples, w^here the actual Linga is perhaps, as Barth 
has said, the least objectionable of the sights presented to the 
eye of the devout worshipper. But the Vishnu temples are as 
bad. Architecturally admirable, and even wonderful, the interior 
is but a display of sensual immorality.^ 

1 Stevenson, JRAS. 1S41, p. 239; Williams, loc. cit.; ^\V^\\y%, Modern Hindtiism, 
ch. iii. 

2 The daily service consists in dressing, bathing, feeding, etc. It is divided into 
eight ridiculous ceremonies, which prolong the worship through the day. 

3 The brilliant displays attracted the notice of the Greeks, who speak of the tame 
tigers and panthers, the artificial trees carried in wagons, the singing, instrumental 
music, and noise, which signalized a fete procession. See Williams, loc. cit. 

4 Such, for instance, is the most holy temple of South India, the great temple of 
Qrlrangam at Trichinopoly. The idol car. gilded and gaudy, is carved with obscenity ; 
the walls and ceilings are frescoed with bestiality. It represents Vishnu's heaven. 



In closing the Puranic period (which name we employ 
loosely to cover such sects as are not clearly modern) we pause 
for a moment to cast a glance backwards over the long devel- 
opment of the trinity, to the units of which are devoted the 
individual Puranas. We have shown that the childhood-tales 
of Krishna are of late (Puranic) origin, and that most of the 
cow-boy exploits are post-epic. Some are referred to in the 
story of Qiyupala in the second book of the Mahabharata, but 
this scene has been touched up by a late hand. The Vishnu 
Purana, typical of the best of the Puranas, as in many respects 
it is the most important and interesting, represents Krishnaite 
Vishnuism as its height. Here is described the birth of the 
man-god as a black, krs/ia, baby, son of Nanda, and his real 
title is here Govinda,- the cow-boy.^ 'Cow-boy' corresponds 
to the more poetical, religious shepherd ; and the milk-maids, 
gopis, with whom Govinda dallies as he grows up, may, per- 
haps, better be rendered shepherdesses for the same reason. 
The idyllic effect is what is aimed at in these descriptions. 
Here Krishna plays his rude and rustic tricks, upsetting wag- . 
ons, overthrowing trees and washermen, occasionally killing 
them he dislikes, and acting altogether much like a cow-boy 
of another sort. Here he puts a stop to Indra-worship, over- 
powers ^iva, rescues Aniruddha, marries sixteen thousand 
princesses, burns Benares, and finally is killed himself, he the 
one born of a hair of Vishnu, he that is Vishnu himself, who in 
'goodness' creates, in 'darkness' destroys,^ under the forms 
of Brahma and Qiva,^ 

1 From this name or title comes the GIta Govinda, a mystic erotic poem (in praise 
of the cow-boy god) as exaltedly rehgious as it is sensual (twelfth century). 

2 VP. i. 2. 63. The 'qualities' or ' conditions' of God"s being are referred to by 
' goodness ' and ' darkness.' 

3 All this erotic vulgarity is typical of the common poetry of the people, and is in 
marked contrast to the chivalrous, but not love-sick, Bharata. 


In Vishnu, as a development of the Vedic Vishnu ; in Qiva, 
as affiliated to Rudra ; in Brahma, as the Brahmanic third to 
these sectarian developments, the trinity has a real if remote 
connection with the triune fire of the Rig Veda, a two-thirds 
connection, filled out with the addition of the later Brahmanic 
head of the gods. 

To ignore the fact that Vishnu and Rudra-^iva developed 
inside the Brahmanic! circle and increased in glory before the 
rise of sectaries, and to asseverate, as have some, that the two 
chief characters of the later trinity are an unmeaning revival of 
decadent gods, whose names are used craftily to veil the mod- 
ernness of Krishnaism and (Jivaism, — this is to miscalculate 
the waxing dignity of these gods in earlier Brahmanic literature. 
To say with Burnouf that the Vishnu of the Veda is not at all 
the Vishnu of the mythologists, is a statement far too sweep- 
ing. The Vishnu of the Veda is not (?nly the same god with 
the Vishnu of the next era, but in that next era he has become 
greatly magnified. The Puranic All-god Vishnu stands in as 
close a relation to his Vedic prototype as does Milton's Satan 
to the snaky slanderer of. an age more primitive. 

Qiva- worship appears to have been adapted from a local cult 
in the mountainous West, and at an early date to have been 
amalgamated with that of his next resemblance, the Vedic 
Rudra ; while Krishna-worship flourished along the Ganges. 
These are those Dionysos and Herakles of whom speak the old 
Greek authorities. One cult is possibly as venerable as the 
other, but while Qivaism became Brahmanized early, Krish- 
naism was adopted much later, and it is for this reason, 
amongst others, that despite its modern iniquities ^iva has 
appealed more to the Brahman than has Krishna. 

Megasthenes tells us a good deal about these Hindu repre- 
sentatives of Herakles and Dionysos. According to him there 
were Dionysiac festivals in honor of the latter god (Civa),-^ who 

1 Compare Duncker, iii.5 p, 327. ISIore doubtful is the identification of Nysian and 


belongs where flourishes the wine, in the A^vaka district, north 
of the Kabul river. From this place ^iva's worship extended 
into the East, Magadha (Behar), around Gokarna in the West, 
and even to the Kalinga country in the extreme Southeast. 
But it was especially native to the mountainous Northwest, 
about the ' Gate of Ganges ' (north of Delhi, near Saharampur), 
and still further north in Kashmeer. In the epic, Qiva has 
his throne on Kailasa,^ the Northern mountain, in the Hima- 
layas, and Ganges descend from the sky upon his head. 

On the other hand, Herakles, of the Ganges land, where 
grows no wine, is plainly Krishna, who carries club, discus, and 
conch. The Greek cities Methora and Kleisobora are Mathura 
and Krishna-pur, ^Krishna-town'; the latter on the Jumna, 
the former near it on the same river, capital of the clan which 
venerated Krishna as its chief hero and god, the Yadavas. 
Megasthenes says, also, that Herakles' daughter is Pandaie, 
and this agrees with the Pandya, a southern development of the 
epic Gangetic Pandavas, who especially worship Krishna in 
conjunction with the Yadavas. Their South-Indic town, 
Mathura, still attests their origin. 

In speaking of the relative antiquity of Vishnuism and (Jiva- 
ism one must distinguish the pantheistic form of these gods 
from the single forms. While ^ivaism, pe?- se^ that is, the wor- 
ship of Qiva as a great and terrible god, preceded the same 
exaltation of Krishna, as is shown by their respective literary 
appearance, and even by Megasthenes' remark that the worship 
of Dionysos preceded that of Herakles by fifteen generations, 
yet did Krishnaism, as a popular pantheism, come before Qiva- 
ism as such. Although in the late Qveta^vatara Upanishad 
Qiva is pantheistic, yet is he not so in the epic till some of the 

Nishadan, ib. note. Compare, also, Schroeder, loc. cit. p. 361. Arrian calls (Qivc) 
Dionysos the ciivov doTrjpa 'lydols (l^chwanbeck, Frg. L). 

1 This remains always as Qiva's heaven in distinction from Goloka or Vaikuntha, 
Vishnu's heaven. Nowadays Benares is the chief seat of (^ivaism. 


latest passages make him the All, in imitation of Krishna as 
All-god. Probably ^ivaism remained by the first philosophy, 
Sankhyan dualism, and was forced into Krishna's Vedantic 
pantheism, as this became popular. At first neither was more 
than a single great god without any philosophy.^ 

In one of the early exegetical works, which is occupied some- 
what with philosophical matter, there is evidence that a triad 
existed between the Vedic triad of fires and the Puranic triad. 
Fire, Wind (or Indra), and the Sun (Surya), are stated in a 
famous passage to be the only real gods, all the others being 
but names of these. But, although in form this triad (Nirukta, 
vii. 4, 5) is like the Vedic triad,- it is essentially a triad in a 
pantheistic system like that of the epic and Puranas, for it is 
addsd that "all the gods are parts of one soul." In explana- 
tion it is said : " Fire is the earth-god, Wind, or Indra, is the 
god of the atmosphere, and the sun is the god of the sky." 
Now in the Rig Veda Indra is closely united not only with 
Agni but with Vishnu, albeit in this period Vishnu is his sub- 
ordinate. The nearest approach of this Vishnu to his classical 
descendant is in one of the latest hymns of the Rig Veda, where 
it is said that the seven seeds of creation are A-'ishnu's, as in 
later times he comprises seven males. In the philosophy of 
the Taittiriya Samhita the three places of Vishnu are not, as 
in the Rig Veda, the two points of the horizon (where the sun 
sets) and the zenith, but 'earth, air, and sky.' ^ That is to 
say, in the Brahmanic period Vishnu is already a greater god 
than he had been. Nay, more, he is explicitly declared to be 

1 The doctrine of the immaculate conception, common to Vishnuism and Buddhism 
(above, p. 431), can have no exact jaarallel in Qivaism, forQiva is not born as a child; 
but it seems to be reflected in the laughable ascription of virginity to Uma (Civa's 
wife), when she is revered as the emblem of motherhood. 

2 In RV. v. 41. 4, the Vedic triad is Fire, Wind, and(Trita of the sky) Indra ; else- 
where Fire, Wind, and Sun (above, p. 42), distinct from the triune tire. 

3 In the Rig Veda the three steps are never thus described, but in the later age 
this vi2w is common. It is. in fact, only on the 'three steps' that the identity 
with the sun is established. In RV, i. 156, 4, Vishnu is already above Varuna. 


"the best of the gocls."^ That best means greatest may be 
shown from the same work, where in savage fable it is recited 
that all the gods, including Indra, ran up to him to get his 
strength.'^ But especially in the Upanishads is Vishnu the one 
great god left from the Rig Veda. And it is with the philo- 
sophical (not with the ritualistic) Vishnu that Krishna is 

Of Civa, on the other hand, the prototype is Rudra ('red'), 
his constant sobriquet. In the Rig Veda he is the god of red 
lightning, who is the father of the Maruts, the storm-gods. 
His attributes of a fulgurant god are never lost. Even as ^iva 
the All-god he is still the god of the blue neck, whose three- 
forked trident and home among the mountains remind us of 
his physical origin. He is always the fairest of the gods, and 
both early and late he is terrible, to be averted by prayer, even 
where his magic ' medicines ' are asked for. To him are ad- 
dressed the most suppliant cries : " O Rudra, spare us, strike 
not the men, slay not the kine." In the Atharva Veda at 
every step one finds characteristics which on the one hand are 
but exaggerations of the type formulated in the Rig Veda, and 
on the other precursors of the signs of the later god. In 
Civaism, in contradistinction to Vishnuism, there is not a 
trace of the euhemerism which has been suspected in the 
Krishna-Vishnu cult. The Rudra of the Rig Veda already 
begins to be identified with the triune fire, for he bears the 
standing epithet of fire, "he of three mothers.'"'^ And this 
name he keeps, whether as Rudra, who is "brilliant as the 
sun'' (RA^. i. 43. 5), whose weapon is "the shining one that is 
emitted from the sky and passes falong the earth " {jb. vii.46.3) ; 
or again, as the " red boar of the^sky," the " holder of the bolt " 
{ib. ii. ■^'i,. 3), and, above all gods, "the terrible" (x. 126. 5). 

1 Qat. Br. xiv. i. i. 5. 

2 For other versions see Muir, Original Sanskrit Texts, iv. p. 127 ff. 

3 Later interpreted as wives or eyes. 


Coming to the Brahmanic period one finds him a dweller in 
the mountain tops, of a red color, with a blue s^ieck, the espe- 
cial lord of the mountains, and so of robbers ; while he is also 
the 'incantation-god,' the ' god of low people.' Some of these 
are Rudra's attributes ; but here his name is already Qiva, so 
that one may trace the changes down the centuries till he finds 
again in the epic that (Jiva is the lord of mountains, the patron 
of thieves (Hara, robber ?), and endowed with the trident, the 
blue neck,^ and the three mothers of old. In the middle 
period he has so many titles that one probably has to accept 
in the subsequent Civa not only the lineal descendant of the 
Vedic Rudra, but also a combination of other local cults, where 
clan gods, originally diverse, were worshipped as one in conse- 
quence of their mutual likeness. One of the god's especial 
names is here Bhava, while in the earlier period Bhava and 
Rudra are distinct, but they are invoked as a pair (AV).^ 
What gives Civa his later tremendous popularity, however, is 
the feature to which we have alluded in the chapter on the 
epic. In the epic, all the strength of Civa lies in the Linga,^ 
Both Bhava and Rudra, as Qarva, the archer — his local east- 
ern name — are represented as hurling the lightning, and it is 
simply from identity of attributes that they have become iden- 
tified in person (AV. x. i. 23). Rudra's title of Pa^upati, or 
'lord of cattle ' ^ goes back to the Vedic age : " Be kind to the 
kine of him who believes in the gods " is a prayer of the 
Atharva Veda (xi. 2. 28). Agni and Rudra, in the Rig- Veda, 

1 For an epic guess at the significance of the title n'llakat'ttha, 'blue-throated,' see 
Mbha. i. 18. 43. 

2 AV. iv. 28 ; viii. 2 ; xi. 2. Thus even in the Rig Veda pairs of gods are fre- 
quently besung as one, as if they were divinities not only homogeneous but even 

3 Brahma's mark in the lotus ; Vishnu's, the discus (sun) ; Qiva's, the Linga, 
phallic emblem. 

■1 The grim interpretation of later tinies makes the cattle (to be sacrificed) mc7i. 
The theological interpretation is that Qiva is the lord of the spirit, which is bound 
like a beast. 


are both called 'cattle-guarding,' but not for the same reason. 
Agni represents a fire-stockade, while Rudra in kindness does 
not strike with his lightning-bolt. The two ideas, with the iden- 
tification of R.udra and Agni, may have merged together. Then 
too, Rudra has healing medicines (his magical side), and Agni 
is kindest to men. All Agni's names are handed over in the 
Brahmanas to Rudra-^iva, just as Rudra previously had taken 
the epithets of Pushan (above), true to his robber-name. To 
ignore the height to which at this period is raised the form of 
Rudra-Civa is surely unhistorical ; so much so that we deem 
it doubtful whether Qiva-invocations elsewhere, as in the Sutra 
referred to above, should be looked upon as interpolations. 
In the Maitrayani Collection, the Rudrajapas, the invocations 
to Rudra as the greatest god, the highest spirit, the lord of 
beings (Bhava), are expressly to Qiva Giriga, the mountain- 
lord (2. 9 ; Schroeder, p. 346). In the Aitareya Brahmana it 
evidently is Rudra-Civa, the god of ghastly forms (made by the 
gods, it is said, as a composite of all the ' most horrible parts ' 
of all the gods), who is deputed to slay the Father-god (when 
the latter, as a beast, commits incest with his daughter), and 
chooses as his reward for the act the ofiice of ' lord of cattle.' ^ 
This is shown clearly by the fact that the fearsome Rudra is 
changed to the innocuous Rudriya in the next paragraph. As 
an example of how in the Brahmanas Rudra-Qiva has taken 
to himself already the powers of Agni, the great god of the 
purely sacrificial period, may be cited Qat. Br. vi. i. 3. 10 and 
2. I. 12. Here Agni is Kumara, Rudra, Qarva (Sarva ^), Pa^u- 

1 The commenter, horrified by the murder of tlie Father-god, makes Rudra kill ' the 
sin ' ; but the original shows that it is the Father-god who was shot by this god, who 
chose as his reward the lordship over kine ; and such exaltation is not improbable 
(moreover, it is historical!). The hunting of the Father-god by Rudra is pictured in 
the stars (Orion), Ait. Br. iii. 33. 

2 See Weber, hid. St. ii. ■}y-] ; Muir, iv. 403, Qarva (Qaurva) is Avestan, but at 
the same time it is hio ' eastern ' name, wliile Bhava is his western name. (^at. Br. 
i. 7. 3. 8. 


pati (lord of beasts), Bhairava (terrible), A^ani (lightning), 
Bhava (lord of beings), Mahadeva (great god), the Lord — his 
'thrice three names.' But where the Brahmana assumes that 
these are names of Agni it is plain that one has Rudra-Qiva 
in process of absorbing Agni's honors. 

The third element in the Puranic trinity,^ identified with the 
Father-god, genealogically deserves his lower position. His 
rivals are of older lineage. The reason for his inferior posi- 
tion is, practically, that he has little to do with man. Being 
already created, man takes more interest in the gods that pre- 
serve and destroy." Even Brahma's old exploits ar