I. Introductory

“When to the session of sweet silent thought”, as Shakespeare says, “I conjured up remembrance of things past”—as one feels in duty bound to do, on every recurrence of that no longer novel phenomenon, the ending of the year—I became aware, amongst other things, of a promise unfulfilled.

The making of the promise was after this wise. A few months back a party of visitors were gathered together in a room gaudily decorated with blue-green banners from Tibet, cherry-colored tapestries all dotted with little mirrors from the Punjab, and long strips of embroidery from Smyrna, in a dozen delicious shades. To give a flavor—a delightful flavor—of original sin to the whole gathering, and especially to the conversation and cigarrettes, the hosts of the evening had considerately supplied two large placards, which hung up among the Tibetan flags and Turkish curtains. On one of these was written “Silence Room”; on the other, “Talking and smoking strictly forbidden”.

Under these circumstances the gathering was bound to be a success. Three of the visitors were from the future home of the sixth race. And to one of these the promise above-mentioned, that cropped up apparition-like on New Year’s eve, was made. We talked about many things; about a gruesome drum that lay there on the table, made from the skulls of a Tibetan pair that had loved not wisely but too well; about the Pauline epistles, and their translators into English, who have evidently followed not the Greek original but the Latin Vulgate; so that when Paul accuses Peter, in very plain Greek, of hypocrisy, the translators have altered the taunt into a mild one of dissembling.

Then we talked about the healthiness of cigarette-smoking, and the difficulty that one always has to find one’s way through the enormous maze of Indian literature, and the lack of some kind of chart to the Vedic ocean, the clear waters of the U panishads, the Epic torrents, and the sand-banks of the Purânas.

I suggested that, if one could get the perspective of two or three leading facts into one’s mind, the fitting in of the details between them would not be a very hard matter, after all. The safest guide would be, perhaps, the old Indian tradition; even if it could not be proved exact, it is certainly venerable, and a great deal may be said in its favor from a great many points of view. “Well”, said my friend, “I have got an idea that destiny means you to write something of the sort for the PATH. I had better tell the Editor about it when I go back.”

Once before, I was caught in the same way; this time by an Editor in India. We had been talking about Siberia and Turkestan and the Gobi Desert and the Pamirs, and I had suggested a theory of the advance of conquest in these lands. “Do you know”, said the Editor, “I think you had better put that into a few articles, and send them to me when I go back to India.” That was in 1891, and those articles are going on still. After that, it is impossible not to believe in Karma.

So I had learned to be cautious, and said to my friend that for that year—the year just ended—I was afraid such a set of talks about Indian books was impossible.

“Very well”, said he; “I suppose, then, I may tell the Editor of the PATH that you will begin them with the New Year?” Thereupon followed the promise which made itself so prominent in the sessions of sweet silent thought on New Year’s Eve. A promise is a thing meant to be kept; and so this morning I begin to redeem it by an introductory Talk about Indian Books.

To begin with, one must try to get three landmarks into one’s head; and, after this, the rest is not so difficult. The hither landmark is not hard to remember, the nearer boundary of Indian Books is—the present day; for Indian books, and some of them excellent in matter and in excellent Sanskrit, are being written still. Only a few days ago I read some charming Sanskrit verses written by a friend of mine, a Kshattriya; and yesterday part of a quite new commentary on one of Shankara’s poems. So the hither landmark of Indian books is the present day.

The further landmark is not hard to remember either, especially for the future home of the sixth race. It is “the War”; the war, that is, between the children of Pandu and of Kuru, where Arjuna’s heart failed him so, till Krishna overcame his hesitation and led him to “fight for fighting’s sake”. This War, and the Plain of Kurukshetra where the battle raged, have been so largely used as symbols and parables that they have begun to look rather mythological, like the storming of “the City of Man’s Soul”, or the “Delectable Mountains”.

Yet, as far as we can possibly know, the War of the Pandus and Kurus was as strictly historical and as pregnant of social and political results as the Norman Conquest, or Cortez’ Mexican Campaign; more historical, very likely, than the Indian Invasion of Alexander the Great, or the battles that brought destruction to the Hivite, the Hittite, and the blameless Perizzite.

Personally, I do not doubt that Krishna, Arjuna, and Dhritarashtra were as real and substantial as Washington, or Wellington, or Napoleon. And even the tale of Rama of the Axe is probably as authentic as another hatchet-story.

Thus the War, the Great War of the Mahâbhârata, is our further landmark. For beyond this we can only vie in definiteness with the book of Genesis, and fix our landmark “In the beginning”; or, as Shakespeare says again, in a magnificent line, “In the dark backward and abysm of time”.

Now, old Indian tradition is pretty clear about two things; and was clearer still until a hundred years ago, when the whole thing began to be tangled up in the interests of Archbishop Ussher’s chronology.

And these two things are, the date of “the War”, and its chronological position with regard to other things. The War, says Indian tradition, was fought out on the Kurukshetra plains just five thousand years ago; a date not hard to remember, and one, moreover, that the verification of certain doings among the stars, then observed and recorded, will probably demonstrate to be true.

Five thousand years ago, the “Great War”—our further landmark; one not hard to be kept in mind. And then, following Indian tradition again, we need only class the Indian books into those that date from “before the War” and those that came into being after the great fight.

All the Vedas, says Indian tradition, date from “before the War”. That is the first great fact to get clearly into one’s mind. How much before the War—how much older than five thousand years they are—is one of those things on which people like to speak with great caution, and, at the end of it all, to reserve their opinion.

At any rate, it was a good long time ago; how long, we may begin to feel when we come to see what an enormous cycle of literature the Vedas are. There are two or three other books that, Indian tradition suggests, must also date from “before the War”. But of these, later.

One thing we must always remember. The Indian scribes had always a splendid sense of perfection, which outlived a dozen different changes of taste; they had also a splendid sense of modernity—they liked to brush away the antiquarian cobwebs from the books they copied, and bring them strictly up to date. Now, in many cases, books we have must have passed, and quite evidently have passed, through this perfecting and modernizing process; and one cannot be sure that they have not passed through it half a dozen times, under half a dozen different generations of perfecters and modernizers. So that the book, as we have it, bears about as much resemblance to its pristine form as many an eloquent paragraph to a code telegram on which it was based. Yet the paragraph is genuine very often, and so is the ancient kernel of the Indian book. But then comes the difficulty of dates. Are we to date the book according to its original kernel, or according to one or other of its later wrappings? This is a problem that will meet us in the case of two or three books outside the Vedas, which Indian tradition would like to place “before the War”.

Sometimes these repeated perfectings and modernizings are betrayed by whimsical idiosyncracies in grammar; sometimes they are admitted by frank confession. An instance of both is a Life of Buddha that dates eighteen hundred, or perhaps two thousand, years ago. A little sentence at the end of it says: “This Life of Buddha, hard to get, was written out by Amritananda. Having searched for them everywhere, and not found them, four cantos have been made by me,—the fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth.” Now this conscientious scribe, who was so anxious to have his Life of Buddha complete, did his work some sixty years ago, while the original poem is, as we have said, about two thousand years old. He was, indeed, very conscientious; for a correction in the manuscript shows that he originally meant to own up to three new cantos only, as the fourth was partly based on old material; yet conscience overtook him, and in the manuscript “three” is changed to “four”. Perhaps a sense of certain metrical and grammatical peculiarities in his work, which would have been found out anyhow, had something to do with this frank confession.

Now frank confessions like this are pretty frequent in Indian books, but, unluckily, a great many of them were written in invisible ink, and the dates were left out. Hence chronological difficulties in no small number.

The mention of Buddha brings us to our third landmark—almost exactly half-way between the other two—about two thousand five hundred years ago. Of a great many Indian books we can say, with something like certainty, that the kernel and germ of them at least, bare of later perfectings and modernizings, is older than Buddha’s birth. One of these books that must date somewhere between “the War” and Buddha, is the Great poem of the Mahâbhârata, the history of the War itself.

It must date after the War which it describes, because it is unusual, except in books of prophecy, to describe events that have not yet taken place; and its germ must be older than Buddhism, for a reason simple enough, though not quite so simple.

Buddha has given us, in some of his sermons, a candid and photographic picture of the Brahmans in his day; and from these pictures we can see that the Brahmans had then pretty much the same influence and predominance they have now.

Now, in the poem of the Mahâbhârata there are certain liberties, perhaps licenses, taken with Brahmanical privilege, which, even in the days of Buddha, would have been difficult, if not impossible; so that we must date the kernel of the Great Mahâbhârata poem at a period a good while before the Brahminical domination of Buddha’s days, and probably not long after the great War itself.

So there are the three landmarks: the present day; Buddha’s mission, two milleniums and a half ago; and the War, five thousand years ago, Indian tradition says. Beyond that lie dim Vedic vistas, the dark backward and abysm of Time.


II. The Vedas

Under this single title, the Vedas, is gathered together a great series of songs and poems and hymns, of liturgies and rituals, of legends, philosophies, and histories,—the whole records that remain of an enormous epoch, stretching far away beyond the days of the Great War into the dark backward and abysm of time.

Within this enormous epoch of the far-away past, when India differed as much from the India of the Great War as that did from the India of today, we can still see certain dim, vast periods separate and distinct from each other, with different ideals, different faith, different forms of living and being.

The furthest away of all these far-away times is the time of the Rig Veda poems, and more especially the poems of the first nine divisions of the hymns. The tenth and last division makes a time of transition to an India of another date.

Within that earliest period of the Rig Veda poems, the songs of the sunrise of India, there is already enormous perspective; a referring back in some poems to other poems of a far earlier time,—events recorded in some poems have already become legendary in others; there are different stages and types of civilization, and, some students think, even different forms of religious belief. The India of those days has often been pictured as a land of nomads, or, perhaps, of a pastoral people; but a closer study shows that it was rather a land of dwellers in towns, skilled in manifold arts, with many-oared ships fitted for long ocean journeys, with precise forms of law and inheritance, with all the amenities and many of the vices of an advanced and cultivated people.

And this already richly endowed India of the days of the Rig Veda poems is the oldest India of all, an India whose antiquity is so great that no one will venture to say how old it may not be. Our records of it, as we have seen, are a great cycle of poems, martial, descriptive, narrative, satirical, religious, about a thousand in number altogether.

Then in the course of generations, or centuries, or ages, a change came over India, and the poems of the first great epoch began to be seen in another light. It was conceived that divine virtue lay, not in their poetic truth, but in the words of the poems themselves; from being songs, they began to be treated as psalms or hymns. And then single lines began to be taken from them here and there, quoted and used as religious texts, with that lack of clear understanding of their original worth to which the use of religious texts is so singularly prone; or, it may be said on the other hand, with regard rather to their hidden virtue than to their outward poetic meaning.

These odd lines of the Rig Vedic songs, when thus transformed into religious texts, were not at first used and abused for the purposes of disputation; they were rather used as the formulas of a liturgy which gradually grew up into an elaborately-developed sacrificial system, with the most rigid rites, the most costly machinery, the most elaborate pageantry, the most definite and clearly-expressed aims. Broadly speaking, these aims were twofold, the securing of the feasts of this and the next world; in this world, sons and grandsons of a hundred years, gold and chariots and horses, the destruction of enemies and the obtaining of the natural fruits of the earth in due season; and, for the other world, a happy sojourn in paradise, surrounded by the glowing delights of the celestials, and gladdened by the music and songs of heavenly nymphs. And this sojourn in paradise and its delights depended almost completely on the pious sacrifices and offerings of those who were left behind; hence one reason why the sons and grandsons of a hundred years were so earnestly prayed for.

Beyond this sojourn in paradise it is doubtful if these old ritualists ever looked; it is doubtful if they ever understood the great law of birth and rebirth, of the Self gaining perfection by the perpetual regeneration of the selves. For them also, righteousness was the fulfilling of the law, but the law of sacrifice and ceremony and rite, and not the great immemorial law of reality and truth.

Yet one has a feeling, also, that behind all this outward ritual were hid great dim sciences that we have forgotten; the calling forth and directing of elemental powers, the performance of great experiments in transcendental physics by these complex rites.

In this second great epoch of Vedic India we may make two divisions, and it is probable that closer scrutiny would disclose a series of successive periods or ages. The two great divisions are: the liturgy of one particular rite, and the rituals of many complex sacrifices.

This one particular rite is the offering of the moon-plant, the sacred herb that grows upon the mountains; and to the liturgy of this rite the Sama Veda is exclusively devoted. There are no new hymns, but only pieces of the old poems, taken from here and there for reasons we cannot now enter into, and strung together without much regard to their old contexts in the Rig Veda songs.

The Yajur Veda is, on the other hand, occupied with the rituals of many complex sacrifices, destined for all kinds of purposes, and of every degree of simplicity and magnificence. Here again the odd lines of the old poems are strung together to make ritual chants, and they give something the same impression of the original songs as a versified index of first lines would give of a book of poems. This is not at all an imaginative description, and this will at once be admitted when we say that, of ten consecutive verses of the Sama Veda, seven are actually first lines of seven different poems, belonging to four different books of the Rig Veda hymns.

As an excellent scholar has said: All, therefore, that is left of the oldest Veda in the Sama Veda and Yajur Veda is a Rig Veda piece-meal; its hymns scattered about; verses of the same hymn transposed; verses from different hymns combined; and even the compositions of different poets brought into one and the same hymn, as if they belonged to the same authorship.

Of the great Vedic epoch that stretches away back into the twilight, this age of ritual and liturgy is the second period; and within it are probably many minor periods.

One more stage of development lay before the old poems of the Rig Veda. Beginning as songs of life, of faith, of war, they had been converted into psalms and hymns of ritual and liturgy; they were destined now to become the charms and incantations of an elaborate system of magic. This form they took in the fourth, the Atharva Veda; the magical system of which proposes to itself the aims and ends which have been the aims and ends of magical charms all the world over, in every age. To the shreds and fragments of the old Rig Veda poems thus used as incantations are added a number of further charms, in order that the repertory of the magicians might be as full and complete as possible; and there is hardly any occasion of life which has not its appropriate incantation.

We have therefore the four Vedas,—the Rig, the Yajur, the Sama, the Atharva; the Rig is the Veda of the poems; the Yajur, the Veda of ritual; the Sama, the Veda of liturgy; the Atharva, the Veda of charms. To the first, as we have seen, the other three are deeply indebted; even though they seem sometimes strangely confused as to the value of what they have borrowed.

Side by side with the development of these three great periods of the Vedic epoch—the period of songs; of liturgy and ritual; of charms and incantations—grew up a great mass of legends, stories about the authors of the poems, tales of the gods and their doings, narratives, half history, half myth, of kings and heroes, reasonings about the meaning and origin of the rites, detailed instruction as to how they are to be performed, theories of the making of the worlds, dim shadows of great happenings of the past, of floods and fires and wars between gods and demons.

All this is gathered together in about a dozen treatises called Brahmanas, of varying lengths and of different ages. These Brahmanas are attached, more or less loosely, to one or other of the four Vedas; and theoretically they are supposed to be ceremonial explanations of the different stages of the hymns; but they are rather varied miscellanies, in which all the records of the great Vedic epoch, not already contained in the hymns, were collected together.

There is yet one more very remarkable type of records included under the general title of Veda: the Upanishads,—the “end of the Vedas”, or Vedanta, as they were called. Though these Upanishads have come down to us along with the Vedas; through they are included under the same general title; though, in their present form, they are often concerned with the rest of the Vedas and directly refer to them; though it is the custom of scholars to speak of them as the outcome of the development of the Vedas; in spite of all this I am constrained to believe, after long and careful study of them, that the Upanishads really represent quite a different line of spiritual inheritance, alien in aims and ideals, alien in conceptions of life and being, alien perhaps in race and time, very often bitterly hostile to the ritual and liturgy which the Vedas came to be.

On the question of their attitude to the great priestly system of ritual and liturgy, with its costly sacrifices and complex rites, the Upanishads themselves are singularly outspoken, and greatly in earnest in their task of admonishing, almost denouncing, those who put their trust in the “way of works”, and think to cross the ocean of life on these infirm rafts.

And yet, in spite of all this admonition and denunciation, the Upanishads have been accepted and admitted into the body of the Vedas; in spite of their attacks on the ideals and methods of the priesthood—the Brahmans—they have come to be regarded as their most precious possession by the Brahmans themselves.

For the acceptance and admission of these wonderfully outspoken theosophic tracts, ages must have been needed; and their acceptance must have taken place at a time before the Brahmanical priesthood had obtained the practical predominance in India which they had long enjoyed in the days of Gautama Buddha, two millenniums and a half ago. So that, if our reasoning be just, the Upanishads must have been drawn under the cloak of the Vedas centuries, perhaps ages, before Buddha’s days. And their substance and teachings may be ages older still.

All this agrees very well with the Indian tradition which relates that the fourfold Vedas were arranged in their completed form in the days of the Great War, five thousand years ago; and, as the tradition says, Vyasa, who arranged the Vedas, was the kinsman of the Kurus and Pandus, the heroes of the Great War.

If, therefore, the Vedas were already completed and the Vedic canon closed five thousand years ago, how many centuries, how many ages, must be assigned to all the wide periods that preceded, till we come to that furthest period of all, the day of the dawn of the hymns, in the morning twilight of India’s life? Dim ages that no man can number.


III. The Hymns of the Rig Veda, I, II.

One feels a certain diffidence on entering on a subject like the hymns of the Rig Veda, where so much is not certainly known, so much certainly not known.

But diffidence is a feeling which, if a man let it grow upon him, will finally take away from him the key of heaven; so that we may take heart of grace, and bravely approach this big subject, looking out as far as possible, not for the things which are certainly not known, or not certainly known, but for the things which are known with some probability and even certainty.

We have seen, among the things which are known with some certainty or probability, that these Vedic hymns come down to us as the head and forefront of an enormous epoch, which was definitely closed in the days of the Mahabharata War,—the said war being, according to Indian tradition, as nearly as possible five thousand years ago.

Then another thing that is as certain as may be, is that these hymns of the Rig Veda are just over a thousand in number; according to one way of counting, a thousand and seventeen; according to another, a thousand and twenty-eight.

Now it is pretty clear that no one could give any complete idea of a thousand poems,—for hymns in a religious sense a good many of them certainly are not,—in a few or even a great many pages; the more so, when these poems are from a far-away time and a far-away land, in an archaic language full of phrases that were obscure enough even two thousand years ago.

So, without hope of giving a complete idea of these thousand and more poems, we must be content with giving one which shall be just, as far as it goes, and shall go as far as the nature of things will allow. And, to do this, we cannot do better, perhaps, than quote a good many of the poems themselves, taking some from each of the ten “mandalas,” or “circles,” into which they are naturally divided. After reading these few, one will at any rate have a certain vivid picture in mind, to correspond to the formerly bodiless words—the Rig Veda Hymns.

First, a hymn in praise of Indra the sky-lord, from the first “circle” or mandala of the hymns,—where it stands thirty-second in number.

“Indra’s heroic deeds will I proclaim, the first which the Thunderbolt’s lord performed; the serpent has he slain, to the waters opened a way, the belly of the mountains has he cleft open.
The serpent has he slain, that lay on the mountains,—Tvashtar forged him the rushing thunderbolt; like bellowing cows hastened the waters, straight downward went they to the sea.
With the eagerness of a bull, he demanded the Soma, of the pressed-out juice he drank from the three vats; the missile, the thunderbolt took he, the treasure-distributor,—he struck him, the first-born of the serpent.
As thou struckest him, Indra, the serpent’s first-born, as thou didst destroy the arts of the artful; giving life to the sun, the heaven, the redness of morning, in truth thou hast found no foe.
Vrtra, the evil Vrtra, the defrauder, has Indra slain with his thunderbolt, with the mighty weapon; like branches lopped by the axe lies the serpent stretched on the ground.
Like a drunken weakling Vrtra challenged the great hero, the mighty warrior, stormer; he withstood not the onward leaping of his weapon, broken and ground to pieces was he whose foe was Indra.
Footless, handless, fought he the fight against Indra, who slung the thunderbolt at his back; impotent he who thought himself grown to the bull, hewn in pieces Vrtra lay.
He lay there like a reed broken in pieces, over him went the waters, working their will; whom Vrtra with his greatness had encircled, at her feet lay the serpent there.
Downwards went her life who had borne Vrtra, Indra slung the weapon against her; above lay she who had borne, and her son underneath, Danu lay like a cow with her calf.
In the midst of the way of the streams, who know neither rest nor repose, lies his body; the waters pass through the most secret places of Vrtra, in darkness for ever sank he whose enemy Indra was.
Becoming the consorts of the enemy, the waters, guarded by the serpent, wearied in captivity like the cows taken captive by Pani; the opening of the waters that were shut up has he accomplished who slew Vrtra.
Swift as a charger’s tail didst thou advance, Indra, as the god struck at thy weapon; thou hast won the cows, thou hero hast won the Soma, the seven rivers hast thou let loose upon their way.
Nothing did thunder and lightning help him, nor the clouds and hailstorms that he formed; when Indra fought with the serpent, the treasure-distributor won the victory for future times also.
What avenger of the serpent didst thou see, Indra, as fear came near to thy heart that thou hadst slain; when thou speddest over the ninety-nine streams like a startled eagle through the air?
He who holds the thunderbolt in his hand, Indra, is king of all that goes and has returned to rest, of hornless and horned cattle; he reigns as king over the people, as the wheel-rim the spokes, he holds all encircled.”1

So far the song of Indra the slayer of Vrtra. In each of the first eight circles or mandalas of the hymns, there are many conceived in the same spirit, in praise of the same god. They follow after the hymns to Agni, with which each of the first eight circles open.

As to its meaning. On the one hand, nearly all Vedic students are agreed in seeing in Indra the blue sphere of the sky, in Vrtra the encircling cloud that holds the rain, and keeps back the treasures of crystal drops from the seven rivers of northern India. On the other hand, it is quite certain that Indra, lord of the blue heaven, the enveloping darkness, the cows, and, perhaps more than all, the encircling wheel and its spokes, had, at one time, a perfectly definite mystical meaning. Whether this mystical meaning was read into the Vedic hymns, or was really hidden in them from the beginning, is one of the things in Vedic study that are by no means certainly known.

To turn now to a hymn of a very different type, the hundred and thirteenth in the same first circle of the hymns. It is very often said that the poets of the hymns were an almost nomad people, in the northern Panjab, the land of the seven rivers. But here is a hymn which shows them undertaking long voyages by sea; Tugra, friend of the Ashvins:

“Sent Bhujyu to sea as a dying man parts with his riches; but you Ashvins brought him back in vessels of your own, floating over the ocean, and keeping out the waters.
Three nights and three days have you, never untrue ones, conveyed Bhujyu in three rapid revolving cars; having a hundred wheels, and drawn by six horses, along the bed of the ocean to the shore of the sea.
This deed you accomplished, Ashvins, in the ocean, where there is nothing to give support, nothing to rest upon, nothing to cling to; as you brought Bhujyu sailing in a hundred-oared ship, to his father’s house.”2

These Ashvins are sons of the sea, ever young and beautiful, travelling in a golden, three-wheeled triangular car. They are destroyers of sickness, physicians of the gods, restoring the blind to sight, renewing youth, bringing health in peril.

Whether they, like Indra the sky-lord, have here a mystical meaning, is again uncertain; it is at least possible, for we find this double and even fourfold meaning hinted at in another hymn, in the same first circle, the hundred and sixty-fourth:

“Speech, Voice, consists of four defined grades, these are known by the knowers of the divine who are wise; they do not reveal the three which are esoteric,—men speak the fourth grade of speech.”3

It is noteworthy that the word here rendered ‘esoteric’ is the same as that used to describe the ‘Secret Teachings,’ which are called, in the Chhandogya Upanishad, the ‘essence of the Vedas.’4

To pass to the second circle, or mandala of the hymns. The presiding genius or seer-in-chief, of this circle, is the Royal Sage, Grtsamada, of the kingly line of Pururavas, the son of Budha (Mercury), the son of Soma (the Moon). This Grtsamada of the lunar line of kings had a son, who is said, in the Vishnu and Vayu Puranas, to have originated the system of four castes. The first hymn of the second circle is addressed to Agni, attributing to him all the functions of the sacrificial priests and their assistants:

“Thine, Agni, is the office of Hotar, thine the regulated functions of Potas, thine the office of Neshtar, thou art the Agnidh of the pious; thine is the function of Prashastar, thou actest as Adhvaryu, thou art the Brâhman, and the lord of the house in our abode.
Thou, Agni, art Indra, the chief of the holy, thou art Vishnu the wide-stepping, the adorable; thou oh Brahmanaspati, art the Brâhman, the possessor of wealth, thou, oh sustainer, art associated with the ceremonial.”5

In other verses of the same hymn, Agni is identified with Varuna, Mitra, Aryaman, Ansha, Tvashtar, Rudra, Pushan, Savitar, Bhaga,—in fact, with the whole range of Vedic gods, and it is from hymns like these that is drawn the belief that the Vedic people worshipped only one deity under many names.

Here again it is quite certain that, later on, Agni had a mystical meaning, as the threefold self of fire, the vital fire in this world, the emotional fire in the middle world, the intuitional fire in the heaven world; but how far this mystical meaning may be found or read into the Vedic hymns is still an open question. With hymns like this, to Agni the fire-lord, as we have said, the first eight out of the ten circles of hymns open, to be followed by hymns to Indra the sky-lord.

The next circle of hymns, the third, owns as its seer-in-chief the famous Royal Sage Vishvâmitra; to the hymns of this sage we shall next turn.


IV. The Hymns of the Rig Veda, III.

As we begin to form certain clear and definite notions about the hymns of the Rig Veda, their dim and misty magnificence gradually gives place to a truer and more human understanding. In the first place, we come to see that among these thousand and twenty-eight hymns, there are a pretty large number that can only be called hymns out of courtesy;—they are really poems and songs, martial, satirical, descriptive, and not religious hymns at all.

Then we must come to see that, among the poems that are really religious in character, and chiefly those addressed to Agni and Indra, at the beginning of eight out of the ten “circles” of the hymns, we can come to no very clear conception of their real religious purport until we are entirely satisfied as to who or what Agni or Indra are. These two powers have, it is true, a definite mystical meaning in the Upanishads; Agni, in three forms,—one manifest in each of three worlds,—is the vital Fire of physical life, the passional Fire of mental life, the intuitional Fire of spiritual life; Indra is the blue sphere of the firmament in the “little world of man,” overarching and containing the whole of his physical, moral and spiritual activities. In this sense the two Powers appear more than once in the Upanishads; but whether they had this meaning or a merely natural sense in the Rig Veda hymns is a question that cannot be settled for a long time yet.

To show the quality of these hymns, we may take a few from the third “circle,” the circle of Vishvâmitra the Rajput and his family. Vishvâmitra’s kin are often called the Kushikas, from the name of the King-Seer’s grandfather Kushika. Here are a few verses of hymns to Agni:

“In generation after generation Agni the Veda- born is kindled by Vishvâmitra and his family.”6

“With uprising flame do thou, oh son of strength, when praised, give abundant vigor to thy worshippers; oh Agni give brilliant fortune and prosperity to Vishvâmitra and his family,—often have we given luster to thy form.”7

“The two sons of Bharata, Devashravas and Devavata, have brilliantly kindled the bright burning Agni; oh Agni look on us with abundant wealth, be for us a bringer of nourishment day by day.
Ten fingers have engendered the ancient god, the well-born, beloved of mothers; oh Devashravas, praise the Agni of Devavata,—the Agni who has become the ruler of beings.
Thee I laid down on the most excellent spot of earth, on the place of worship, on a fair day among days; by the rivers Drshadvatî, Apaya, and Sarasvatî where Manu’s children dwell, shine thou, Agni, brilliantly.”8

“Agni, the god of all men, like a neighing horse is kindled by the Kushikas, with their engendering fingers in every age, may this Agni lay wealth on us, with vigor, with horses,—Agni ever alive among the immortals.”9

Of course one may say that the whole of these hymns are mystical and symbolical; that “the cows and horses and brilliant wealth” are symbols of spiritual gifts. It is certain they had this meaning in the Upanishads; but one cannot decide satisfactorily whether these mystical values are read into the Vedic hymns, without having been there originally at all. The descriptions of the Fire-god, kindled by the ten fingers holding the fire-stick in the socket; the Fire-god laid on the altar; the Fire-god crackling like the neighing of a horse; the Fire-god kindled in the houses, and so on, so clearly and graphically describe the outward, physical fire of the sacrifice that we cannot doubt such a fire-worship existed as, for instance, exists today among the followers of Zoroaster; but whether the real stress was laid on the symbol or on the power symbolised, is difficult to decide.

Then a verse or two to Indra:

“This desire gratify thou with cows, with horses, with brilliant wealth prosper thou us; desiring heaven, the Seers, the Kushikas have composed a hymn for thee, Indra, in their souls.”10

“We the Kushikas, desiring succour, summon thee, Indra the ancient, to drink the libation of Soma.”11

The Soma, the juice of the moon-plant, was the fit offering to Indra, as clarified butter poured on the flame was the proper oblation to Agni. Both the juice of the moon-plant and the clarified butter had at one time a mystical, or perhaps rather a psychical meaning; but whether they had this meaning in the hymns is as yet impossible to decide.

Then comes an admirable descriptive poem, the song of Vishvâmitra and the two rivers:

[Vishvâmitra. Speaks:]
“From the mountain’s womb hurrying forth, contending like two mares let loose, or like two bright mother-cows licking their calves, the Vipas and Shutudri rush outward with their waters.
Sent forth by Indra, seeking a rapid course, ye move oceanwards as if going in a chariot; running together, swelling with your waves, the one of you, bright streams, approaches the other.
To the bright mother-stream I have come, the Vipas, wide and benignant we have reached; like two mother-cows licking each her calf, to the common womb you come.”
[The Two Rivers speak:]
“Here we with our waters swelling, onward to the god-made womb are moving; our swift course cannot be stayed,—what seeks the Seer, that he invokes the rivers?”
[Vishvâmitra speaks:]
“Stay your course a little, ye pure streams, for my pleasant words; with potent prayer I, the son of Kushika, desiring succour, invoke the rivers.”
[The Two Rivers Speak :]
“Indra, lord of the thunderbolt, has hollowed out our channels, he smote the serpent who held back our streams; Savitr the skilful-handed has led us hither, by his impulsion we flow broadly on.
Forever be praised that valor of Indra, that he cleft the serpent asunder; with his thunderbolt smiting the hindrance, and the waters, desiring an outlet, went their way.
This word forget not, singer, which other ages will echo to thee; in hymns, oh bard, show us thy gratitude, humble us not before men,—to thee reverence.”
[Vishvâmitra speaks:]
“Oh sisters, listen to the bard who has come from afar with wagon, with chariot; sink down, become fordable, cover not our chariot-wheels with your streams.”
[The Two Rivers speak:]
“To thy words, bard, we listen, thou who hast come from afar with wagon, with chariot; I will bow down for thee like a fruitful mother, like a maid to her lover, I will give place to thee.”
[Vishvâmitra speaks:]
“When my Bhâratas, war-loving, sent forth, impelled by Indra, have crossed thee, then thy headlong current shall hold its course; I seek the favor of the worshipful rivers.
The war-loving Bhâratas have crossed,—the Seer has gained the favor of the rivers. Swell outward, impetuous, fertilising; fill your channels, rolling rapidly.”12

Here, at any rate, there is no doubt about mystical or symbolic meaning; we see at once that this is an admirable descriptive poem, of great intrinsic worth, and fitly coming from the Rajput hero Vishvâmitra, the leader of the war-loving Bhâratas. For poetic value, the hymn or song may well be classed with the song of the slaying of the serpent.

Another hymn or song shows that Vishvâmitra kept his promise to celebrate the rivers:

“The great Seer, god-born, god-directed, leader of men, stayed the watery current; when Vishvâmitra led Sudas, Indra was propitiated by the Kushikas.
Like swans ye make the stones crushing out the Soma juice resound, exulting with hymns at the pouring of the libation; ye Kushikas, wise Seers, leaders of men, drink the honey-sweet Soma with the gods.
Approach, Kushikas, be watchful, let loose the horse of Sudas after riches; let the King strongly smite his foe in the east, in the west, in the north; then let him offer sacrifice on the most excellent spot of earth.
I Vishvâmitra have caused both heaven and earth to sing the praises of Indra; and my prayer protects the people of Bharata.”13

Here again the marshall note of the Rajput Vishvâmitra, the teacher of Kings, and King himself, according to tradition. And through this third “circle” of hymns are echoes of his valor, of the battle of the ten Kings, of the war-loving Bhâratas, and of the envy and rivalry of Vasishta the type and representative of priestcraft.

But there is another note than that of war in the hymns of Vishvâmitra,—a note of high inspiration. This note of inspiration rises to its highest elevation in the famous Gâyatrî, “the mother of the Vedas,” the most sacred prayer of India to this day. The Gâyatrî is a prayer to the dim star that burns within, the dim star that will at last become the infinite light. Its words, translated, are:

“Let us keep in our souls that excellent shining of the divine Sun who may guide our souls on ward.”14

This prayer is still preserved in the highest reverence in India; is still in daily use. It dates from an age long before there was any priestly caste in the land; it comes from a Seer and Sage of royal blood; of the warlike Rajput race. Though preserving this luminous prayer, later ages, guided by the ambition of priestcraft, and the longing for a spiritual monopoly, did everything that was possible to belittle the greatness of Vishvâmitra, and finally pretended that what eminence he had was owing to his attainment of Brâhmanhood,—of admission into a priestly caste, which, in his days, had no existence. For even the name of Brâhmana, in the later sense of caste, occurs only once in the first nine “circles” of the hymns, and that is the famous fable of the frogs, which we shall presently translate. In the third “circle,” of which Vishvâmitra is the Seer, the word does not occur at all, and the whole story of this great Seer’s Brâhmanhood is clearly of a far later age.

As the hymns of the Rig Veda show him, Vishvâmitra was a prince of royal blood, perhaps a King; an accredited Seer and Prophet of Agni and Indra, the greatest of Vedic divinities; a poet of admirable power and worth; the composer or Seer of a prayer still esteemed the holiest in India; the foremost personage of the whole of Vedic times.


V. Rig Veda

Nowhere else in the ten circles of the Rig Veda hymns, nowhere in the thousand songs and poems and prayers that make them up, do we come across such a commanding figure as Vishvâmitra, the Rajput seer of the third circle of hymns. There is one other very remarkable personage, Vasishta, whose history is closely bound up with Vishvâmitra; his enemy and rival, the representative of the white race who came to form the nucleus of the Brahmans, as Vishvâmitra is the representative of the red race who, already in Vedic times, were called the Rajputs, the warriors and princes, as the Brahmans were the priests.

But we do not find the hymns of Vasishta along with those of Vishvâmitra and his family, as we should expect the hymns of a contemporary to be; we shall not come to them till we reach the seventh circle, while those of Vishvâmitra are in the third. This will remind us that, as the Rig Veda hymns stand now, they are not arranged chronologically, according to the order of their composition, so that we must be careful in considering everything early that we find in the early hymns, or late because we find it in the later circles.

In the third circle Vishvâmitra’s personality is predominant; in the seventh, Vasishta’s; in the circles between, there are the hymns of other seers, the fourth circle being attributed to Vamadeva, the fifth to the Atris, the sixth to Bharadvaja. Each of the three begin with hymns to Agni; hymns to Indra follow, then come hymns to the other divinities, either separately or together. A hymn in the fourth circle tells us for instance that:

“Indra is not kith or kin or friend of him who offers no libations, he is the destroyer of the prostrate irreligious man;
Indra the drinker of soma joins not in friendship with the greedy rich man who makes no libations of soma; he robs him of his riches and slays him when stripped bare, but is the friend alone of him who pours out soma and cooks libations.”15

Verses like these suggest many thoughts; first, that the whole story of Indra may be read symbolically, taking Indra, as in the Upanishad “By whom,” to mean the “Lord of the azure sphere,” standing as a type of the causal self; the soma being the stream of aspiration by which the lesser man reaches the greater, and becomes possessed of his power, as the deputy possesses the king’s. On the other hand, we may have the strong instinct of the priesthood, who, profiting personally and practically by the liberal giver, were not indisposed to use the terrors of both worlds against him who failed to benefit “the eaters of the leavings of the sacrifice.”

Here again from the same fourth circle, is a hymn in which Indra and Varuna contend for mastery:

“To me the eternal ruler verily belongs the kingdom, to me whom all immortals together obey; the gods follow the will of Varuna, I rule over the highest kingdom, over the roof of heaven.
I am king Varuna; mine was first magic power as my own; the gods follow the will of Varuna, I rule over the highest kingdom, over the roof of heaven.
It is I Varuna, oh Indra, who have with my greatness ordained and held firm the double kingdom of the air, the deep, broad, firmly founded, heaven and earth, I who, like Tvashtar, know all that is therein.
I have made the trickling waters to swell, I have held heaven in the place of right; through right has the son of Aditi, the friend of right, spread out the threefold world.”

To this challenge Indra answers:

“Men call upon me at the coursing, with haughty steeds, they call on me in battle when the foes close in; I Indra the generous bring about the racing of horses, I raise the dust in whirlwinds with my might.
I have accomplished all deeds, there is none who can withstand my irresistible might. When soma drink and song of praise have gladdened me, then trembles the boundless ‘twofold kingdom of the air.”16

The two rival gods became reconciled and united, for we read a few verses later:

“Our fathers were these seven sons; when Durgaha’s son was bound, they gain by sacrifice for her son, Trasadasyu, like Indra a slayer of foes, a demigod.
Purukutsânâ worshipped you, oh Indra and Varuna, with offerings and obeisance; then ye gave her king Trasadasyu, a slayer of foes, a demigod.”17

Here Indra is far rather a national god of warriors, fervently worshipped and strongly believed in, the deified genius of the Rajput race; for Trasadasyu the hero of the last verses of this hymn, as well as its author, like Vishvâmitra was a Rajarshi, a seer or Rishi of Rajput race. An old tradition as to his history is recorded by the commentator. The queen of Purukutsa, he tells us, when her husband Durgaha’s son was imprisoned, seeing the kingdom destitude of a ruler and desiring a son, of her own accord paid honors to the seven Rishis who had arrived. And they, again, being pleased, told her to sacrifice to Indra and Varuna. Having done so, she bore Trasadasyu.

Here is another hymn, to the deity Brhaspati or Brahmanaspati, who came to be personified as the teacher of the god.

“The king who maintains Brhaspati in abundance, who praises and magnifies him as enjoying the first distinction, overcomes all the powers of the enemy in force and valor.
He dwells prosperous in his palace, the earth ever yields her increase to him, to him the people bow themselves down, that king in whose house a Brahman walks first.
Unrivalled, he wins the wealth of both foes and kindred; the gods preserve the king who bestows wealth on the Brahman who asks his assistance.”18

Here, there is no denying it, we have a quite clear view of the priesthood offering the solidest of bribes to the princes, the wealth of foes and friends alike. This is the beginning, but the full growth of the system extended through ages.

So far the fourth circle. The fifth circle of the beginners, as we saw, is attributed to the Atris. Here is part of a hymn in their honor:

“When Svarbhanu, of the race of the Asuras, pierced the Sun with darkness all the worlds were like a man lost in a strange land.
When, Indra, thou didst brush away the magical arts of Svarbhanu, which were at work beneath the sky, Atri with the fourth text discovered the sun, which had been hidden by hostile darkness. . . . .
Using the stones that crush the soma, worshipping, serving the gods with reverence and praise, the Brahman Atri set the eye of the Sun in the sky, and dispelled the illusions of Svarbhanu.
The Atris discovered the sun which Svarbhanu had pierced with darkness. This no other could accomplish.”19

In after years, this old hymn was used to support the claims of the priests in their rivalry with the warrior-princes; the Mahabharata, all through which princely legends have been remoulded in a priestly shape, concludes its version of the story thus:

“Behold the deed done by Atri, the Brahman; tell me of any Kshattriya warrior superior to Atri.”

In the sixth circle of the hymns, there is the same general character: prayers to the gods, with Agni and Indra at their head, praises, invocations. The blessings sought from divine grace show no very striking idealism; horses and cows are begged for in prayers that, if they are to be taken literally, exactly correspond to the mood of the Mongol or Tartar nomads, who range the verges of the Gobi desert today. Health and wealth, long life and prosperity are ardently desired, enemies are cursed, their defeat and death are fervently expected, and as an especial crime it is alleged against them that they do not worship great Agni and Indra nor reverence their sacred rites. Indeed the whole aspiration of these very interesting hymns might be summed up in the offer of death to Nachiketas, which the youth refused, seeking rather to know what is in the great Beyond.

Of hopes of heaven or fears of hell, there are only the dimmest traces, and even these are found, for the most part, in the last circle of the hymns, which, it is generally recognized, belong to a later period than the rest. Even there the hopes of heaven are only for a better edition of the boons of earth, longer life, larger festivals, more abundant delights. Of the idea of rebirth there is in the whole Rig Veda no certain trace at all.

From the sixth circle we may quote a few verses, showing the general tendency of these prayers:

“Agni whom, rich in oblations, the five races honor with prostrations, bringing offerings to him as if he were a man.”20

“The children of Manu praise in the sacrifices Agni the invoker.21 Do thou, O wise God, son of strength, approach my hymn with all the adorable ones; they whose tongues were of fire, present at the rites, and made the sons of Manu superior to the Dasa.”22

“In many ways, oh Agni, the wealth of the enemy hastens emulously to our aid. The men destroy the Dasyu, and seek by rites to overcome the riteless.”23

“With hymns I call Indra, the Brahman, the carrier of prayers the friend who is worthy of praise, as men do a cow who is to be milked.”24

This expression, perhaps, better than any other shows the attitude in which the seers of the Vedic hymns approach the gods—as cows to be milked. As before, all this may be set in another light by a liberal use of allegory; but how far the authors of the hymns held to this allegorical sense, or had any idea of it, is very doubtful; and our doubts about this, as about many other problems connected with the Rig Veda, must still remain for a long time unsolved. All we can say is, that that even if we suppose the hymns to have had an allegorical secondary meaning we must still hold that their primary meaning shows an attitude which at best we may describe as strictly utilitarian.


VI. The Hyms of the Rig Veda; VII.

In looking over some books that treat of the Vedic hymns, I have come across a very pretty passage, a passage the spirit of which has the peculiar and subtle charm that sanctimonious bigotry always carries with it; so delightful is it, that I cannot resist the temptation to quote it here. Its position in Sanskrit literature is this:

Long after the Vedic ages had come to an end, and also it would seem, long after the Great War had been fought out, there came a time in India’s life when all the learned men were smitten with a longing for systems of rigidly-defined philosophy and science and logic, where every word was weighed, with the result that their books are extremely weighty reading,—and the letter was exalted as a god, while the spirit, being one with Brahma and therefore self-subsistent, was generally left to take care of itself. These system-makers gradually got themselves divided up into half a dozen schools, who spent no little time and energy in disproving each other; and finally each of them got their ideas worked up into a bundle of most unreadable aphorisms or memorial verses, which each faithful pupil of each school had to store up in his head, while holding in his heart such apprehension of their meaning as the fates and teachers might graciously allow. One of these bundles of aphorisms is the Sankhya system of Kapila, which the Bhagavad Gita now and then talks about; another is Patanjali’s Yoga, with which the same “Songs of the Master” are also occasionally preoccupied; for instance in the verse: “Boys, not pundits, speak of Sankhya and Yoga as different,” and in half a dozen passages more.25

Two other schools are the Former and Latter Mimansas, the teachings of the latter being contained in the Brahma Sutras or Vedanta Sutras, on which Shankaracharya has written a stupendous commentary. The Sutras of Jaimini the ritualist are busy with the teachings of the Former Mimansa, which expound the Works of the Law which grew up round the Vedic hymns, and—this is also a matter of some importance—the “fruits” (in this world and the next) which the works of the law bring to the good ritualist.

Well, these aphorisms of Jaimini have been commented on by somebody else, whose work has again been commented on by a second somebody else, in the good old Indian way. It is from the work of the first somebody else, by name Kumarila Bhatta—that I wish to quote the passage whose charm I have spoken of; it is this:

“But the teachings of Shakya Muni and others (with the exception of a few enjoining tameness and gifts), are all contrary to the fourteen kinds of scientific treatises, and composed by Buddha and others whose goings on were opposed to the law of the three Vedas, and meant for men who belong mostly to the fourth caste, who are excluded from the Vedas, debarred from pure observances, and deluded; therefore these teachings cannot have their root in the Vedas. And what confidence can we have that one [Shakya Muni Buddha] who being a Kshattriya [Rajput] stepped beyond the duties of his own order, and took on himself the duties of a prophet and receiver of presents, would teach a pure system of duty? For it is said: ‘Let every one avoid a man who practises acts destructive of future happiness. How can he who destroys himself be of any good to anyone else?’ And yet this very stepping beyond his duties by Buddha is held to be an adornment to him!—since he himself said: ‘Let all the sins committed in the world in the Kali Yuga fall on me, but let the world be set free!’ Thus giving up a Kshattriya’s duties, which are of some use in the world, and taking on himself the work of a prophet, which is the prerogative of the Brahmans, and teaching those outside the law things the Brahmans would not teach them, because the Brahmans could not think of stepping beyond the prohibition, he sought to do good to others, while breaking away from duties of his own,—and these are the sort of things he is praised for!”

The same somebody else is elsewhere quoted as saying:

“Is the abstention from injury taught by Shakya Muni a duty or not, for it is in accordance with Scripture. It is not a duty; for cow’s milk held in a dog’s skin is not pure.”

We turn regretfully from this chastened spirit to the Rig Veda, whose seventh circle contains the hymns that mark almost the beginning of Brahmanical claims. We have already spoken of the great Rajput, Vishvâmitra, the poet of the thrice-sacred Gayatri and the Hymn of the Rivers. The seventh circle brings us to Vasishta, the priest, Vishvâmitra’s rival. Vasishta has become the typical Brahman of antiquity, and all subsequent ages vied with each other in talking him up, just as they were emulous in talking Vishvâmitra the Rajput down, even while repeating his hymn, the thrice-holy Gayatri.

Buddha, though teaching “tameness and gifts,” was severely reproved for arrogating to himself the Bramanical duty of receiving presents; and Vasishta had much the same grievance against his rival. That the views of Vasishta and his family on the subject of gifts were extremely liberal one can learn from the following hymn of the seventh circle; it is addressed to Indra:

“Seeking to milk thee, like a cow in a rich meadow, Vasishta sent forth his prayers to thee; for everyone tells me that Indra is a lord of cows. May Indra come to our hymn.
Parashara, Shatayatu and Vasishta, devoted to thee, who grew tired of their houses, have not forgotten the friendship of thee bountiful: therefore let prosperous days dawn for these sages.
Earning two hundred cows and two chariots with mares, the gift of Sudas the son of Pijavana and grandson of Devavat, I walked round the house, Agni, uttering praises like a hotar priest.
The four brown steeds, bestowed by Sudas the son of Pijavana, decked with pearls, standing on the ground, carry me on securely from generation to generation.
That donor whose fame pervades both worlds, has distributed gifts to every person.”26

Indra and Agni were not the only gods with whom Vasishta was on terms of reverential intimacy. We quote in illustration of this a hymn to Varuna, the lord of the great deep; it is interesting, even if only metaphorical, as showing that the people of Vasishta’s days were familiar with the ocean, and ventured forth in many-oared ships. Vasishta sings:

“When Varuna and I embark on the boat, when we propel it into the midst of the ocean, when we advance over the surface of the waters, may we rock upon the undulating element until we become brilliant.
Varuna took Vasishta into the boat; by his mighty acts working skillfully, he has made him a sage; the wise one made him an utterer of praises in an auspicious time, that his days and dawns may be prolonged.
Where are our friendships? the tranquility that we enjoyed of old? We have come, self-sustaining Varuna, to thy vast abode, to thy house with a thousand gates.
Whatever friend of thine, being a kinsman ever constant and beloved, may commit offences against thee, may we not suffer, though sinful, adorable one; do thou, wise God, grant us protection.”27

From the effect attributed to rocking upon the undulating element, we are led to infer that Varuna and Vasishta were only in the same boat in a figure of speech, a flower of poetry. It may serve to introduce another flower of poetry from the same book:

“After lying prostrate for a year, like Brahmans performing a vow, the frogs have emitted their voice, roused by the showers of heaven.
When the heavenly waters fell upon them, as upon a dry fish lying in a pond, the music of the frogs come together like the lowing of cows with their calves.
When at the approach of the rainy season, the rain has wetted them as they were longing and thirsting, one goes to the other while he talks, like a son to his father, croaking.
One of them embraces the other, when they revel in the shower of water; and the brown frog jumping after he has been ducked, joins his speech with the green one.
As one of them repeats the speech of the other, like a pupil and his teacher, every limb of them grows, as it were, when they converse eloquently on the surface of the water.
One of them is cow-noise; the other goat-noise; one is Brown, the other Green. They are different though they bear the same name, and modulate their voices in many ways as they speak.
Like Brahmans at the Soma sacrifice of Atiratra, sitting round a full pond, and talking, you, O Frogs, celebrate the day of the year when the rainy season begins.
These Brahmans with their Soma have had their say, performing the annual rite. These Adhvaryas, sweating while they carry the hot pots, pop out like hermits.
They have always observed the order of the gods as they are worshipped through the year, these do not neglect the season; the frogs who were like the hot pots themselves, are set free when the rains begin.
Cow-noise gave, goat-noise gave, the Brown gave, and the Green gave us treasures. The frogs who gave us hundreds of cows lengthen our life in the rich autumn.”28

There is nothing like this in the Hebrew Psalms. “This is the only place,” says Professor Roth, “in the first nine Mandalas of the Rig Veda in which the word Brahman is found in its later sense [of prophet and receiver of gifts], while the tenth Mandala offers a number of instances. This is one of the proofs that many of the hymns in the tenth book were composed considerably later.”


1. Rig Veda, I, 1-15.

2. Rig Veda, I, 116, 3-5.

3. Rig Veda, I, 164, 45.

4. Chhandogya Upanishad, III, 1. 2-4.

5. Rig Veda, II, 1, 1-2.

6. Rig Veda III. 1, 21.

7. Rig Veda III. 18, 4.

8. Rig Veda III. 23, 2-4.

9. Rig Veda III. 26, 3.

10. Rig Veda III. 30, 20.

11. Rig Veda III. 42, 9.

12. Rig Veda III. 33, 1-12.

13. Rig Veda III. 53, 9-12.

14. Rig- Veda III. 62, 10.

15. Rig Veda, IV, 25. 6-7.

16. Rig- Veda, IV, 42, 1-6.

17. Rig Veda, IV. 42, 8-9.

18. Rig Veda, IV, 50, 7-9.

19. Rig Veda, V, 40, 5-6, 8-9.

20. Rig Veda, VI, 11, 4

21. Rig Veda, VI, 21, 11.

22. Rig Veda, VI, 45, 70.

23. Rig Veda, VI, 14, 20.

24. Rig Veda, VI, 14, 3.

25. Bhagavad Gila, ii, 39; iii, 3; v, 4-5; xiii, 24; xviii, 13.

26. Rig Veda, VII, 18, 4 and 21-24.

27. Rig Veda, VII, 88, 3-6.

28. Rig Veda, VII, 103, 1-10.