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guage must have been confined to a few score words. The study, therefore, of the ancient mythologies, will always rest, in no small degree, on philology; and researches in the one entail labor in the other. It is for this reason that the Greeks and Romans never understood the origin of their respective faiths. Writers of the highest rank among the latter, like Cicero, did not hesitate to affirm that their gods were borrowed from the former.* And both Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus believed that they were indebted to the Egyptians for their own. Yet if there be one ancient fact well established by modern scholars, it is, that the great gods of Greece and Rome are distinct, and cannot be studied together, and that there is an affinity so close between the Greek and Hindu mythologies, that to study them apart is to prejudice greatly the cause of history.t
The system of ancient theogonists was remarkably simple. Was a continent called Europa, straightway a Princess Europa is invented, who dwells in Asia Minor, and who is carried by Zeus, in the form of a bull, across the Hellespont, to the land that now bears her name. In the same manner the origin of the Ionians is to be traced to Io, whom Zeus embraces as a cloud; and the name of the Greeks, Danoi, to another princess, Danaë, an inaccessible tower, and Zeus again as a shower of gold. The Hellespont, in like manner, is so called because Hellas, in riding on the ram with the golden fleece, was drowned there. The Palatine Hill in Rome takes its name after the same extraordinary system of derivations, from Pallas and Evander, companions of Æneas, who settled there.
The invention of these historians was not very acute. Zeus is called in too often, and princesses are invented with a too fatal iteration; but the generation for whom these childish tales were produced was not a critical one, and they passed unchallenged. And the moderns accepted them for a long time with an undeviating faith, that seems to us of the present era marvellous, till Niebuhr, in his lectures on
* De Univeristate.
Roman history, broke the spell. Then the authority of the ancients, in this respect, vanished for ever, and the school of modern days began to analyse and to deduce, to induct and build up, without the slightest regard to the ancient writers. The laws of language were developed, and the workings and growth of the human intellect were systematized and made to bear witness to the secrets of the past; and, as a result, mythology became the brightest lamp that the historian finds to guide his footsteps in the gloom of remote ages.
The Hindu mythology is especially valuable for its antiquity, for its literary productions, and for that undeniable connection with Grecian theogony which Schlegel las pointed out, and which Max Müller has provedl.* There was, indeed, a time when this value was doubtful. When, through the efforts of Sir William Jones, the learned jurist of Calcutta, the treasures of Sanskrit sacred verse were given to the world, men sought in it the key to an exact knowledge of early history, and more especially that of the Aryan race. But at a first glance the Hindu records seem so contra lictory, fabulous histories are so mingled with narratives of real facts, the modern is so inextricably united to the ancient, that a reace. tion soon took place, and many scholars doubted if there was: anything worthy of scrutiny in the Hindu theogonies; and some even denied, in toto, their antiquity. Of these, Dr. Bentley, of the “Quarterly Review," was the chief, and that perioda ical teemed with articles which had for their aim the utter extinction of Sanskrit investigation. But Bentley and his merry men and their opinions have passed away. An age has arisen which knows not that sanguinary critic, and stands in no fear of being killed like poor Keats. The common consent of all intelligent writers is given to the antiquity of the Vedas; and since it is with these and the religion to which they refer that the Greek affinity is strongest, the most material point may be considered undisputed. For whatever may be the philosophic value of Greek writings, so dear is the affection borne for everything Hellenic, that for the majority of readers, the subject of Hindu mythology is only valuable as it relates to Greece and Grecian myths.
* Max Müller, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, book i.
But it must be stated, that, from a philological view, the connection of the Vedas is strongest with the Latins. This does not so forcibly appear in the mythology as in the language, where word after word can be traced to a Vedie origin. Thus Agni, the Vedic god of fire, is found in ignis, whilst the Greek word seems identical with the German feuer. These resemblances are considered by competent authorities to point out that the Pelasgian races, those early forms of Hellenism, had a direct communication with the Hindu Aryans at the time that the Vedic was a spoken language. In this particular, Bopp, the learned comparative philologist, has done great service, by following up the hint given by Niebuhr, who saw in the Latin language the proofs of a mixed origin.
The time of connection between the Pelasgi and the Aryans in Bactria, must have been very remote. The era of the present Hindus is that of Vikrama litya, who certainly reigned some time before Christ; their date of this year being 1920, which would make it fifty-one years precisely before the Christian epoch. At that time Sanskrit was a dead language, and had been replaced by Pali. In the visit of Megasthenes, the ambassador of Seleucus Nicanor, to the court of Sandrokottus, at Palibothra,* a very accurate and graphic sketch is given of Hindu social customs, caste, luxury and learning; and at that time, too, Sanskrit was a dead language. But at the time when the Pelasçi were Aryans in Bactria, Sanskrit had not been evolved, and it is possible that it arose out of the supremacy of the Brahminical caste, which was one of the causes of the Aryan emigration. Therefore the conclusion seems inevitable, from what we know of the origin, progress, and decay of language, that this earliest phase of Pelasgianism must have taken place many thousand years before the era of Vikramaditya.
The “Samhita," or collection of the Vedas, is a compendium of sacred poems in honor of the elemental gods of the ancient Aryan race. These hymns are not in their origin liturgical, but have been used as such for many centuries ; and the divisions in which we now find them, into ashtakas
* The modern Allahabadi, at the junction of the Jumna and the Ganges.
and mandalas, is as arbitrary as the arrangement of our own 119th psalm, and for exactly the same reason—the convenience of the reader or singer. But they are not written in Sanskrit, but in a language which was a living one before Sanskrit had developed itself at all.* This is called the Vedic, or Bactrian,t because, at the time it was used, we know, from internal evidence, that the Aryans, or Hindus, occupied Bactria. By that name we mean the lands which stretch from the modern Cabul to the shores of the Indus. It is conjectured that the Aryans emigrated from the garden of Eden, or the land between the Euphrates and the Gihon, through the climateric change brought on by the deluge. To enter into a detailed history of their wanderings would be unnecessary in a review of their mythology. It is sufficient for us, that at the time they inhabited Bactria they still worshipped elemental deities. Their gods were Agni, the god of fire ignis), and Indra, or the vault of heaven (Ouranos)--these were the chief; the inferior deities, the dii minores, were Mitra, the sun, Vaya, god of the winds, Varuna, of the sea, the Maruts, or Winds, and the Asuini Kumara, or twin children of Bahvani.
With reference to these, it will be observed that the confusion of ancient and modern things, of which we have spoken, manifests itself here. The Asuini Kumara are recorded as children of Bahvani, yet Bahvani is not a Vedic deity, and could not belong to a religion of elemental worship. This has, unfortunately, not been pointed out by the French philologist, whose work on the Vedas is considered the standard authority. Yet Aswini Kumara are the twins of the Hindu zodiac, the Castor and Pollux of Hindostan, and, like them, symbols of the constellation Gemini. As the sons of Bahvani, or nature, they are offshoots of an astral cosmic religion, which has no affinity with the Vedic. We are therefore under the necessity of considering those hymns, where they occur, as of late origin.
Yet we have observed that it was precisely with the Vedic
Barthelemy St. Hilaire, Les Vedas, Lib. i., p. 17. † Bunsen, Place of Egypt in Universal History, book is.
phase of Hindu mythology that the Hellenic myths had affinity. Here is an undoubted case of identity with Castor and Pollux, and yet the Aswini Kumara must be rejected from the Vedie deities, because the worship of stars or constellations belongs to another system differing widely from the Vedic. It is plain, then, that the intrudling element to which the Aswini Kumara belong, must also have intruded upon the Greeks, which, from the word Hellenes, we believe, were once exclusively sun worshippers.
Varuna is also given as god of the sea. Yet it is difficult to understand how the Aryans, an inland race, whose ears had never been filled by the music of the murmuring waves, and whose feet had never wandered on the yellow sea sands, could have worshipped a deity of the sea-an abstraction.
This acceptation is universal, from the oldest writer * the subject to the latest. From a philological examination, it would seem that laruna and Ourunos are identical; nor is there anything in the early hymns contrary to the opinion that Indra was the great unseen god, and that Varuna typified the vault of heaven. In the theogony of Hesiod, Ouranos is the husband of Gaia, the earth, and devours his children as fast as they are produced, the myth evidently meaning that there were previous creations which became again chaos. Chronos (time) mutilates his father, and prevents him from having more children, meaning that there came a time when the primal creating power ceased to act.
In the Hindu Varuna however, there is nothing cosmic; he is simply a celestial deity, who battles with the clouds. There is evidence here again that a foreign element, an astralcosmic one, has intruded itself upon the Greek mythology, but, in this case, has spared the Hindu.
The earliest god of the Vedic Aryans is unquestionably Agni,t and probably had its origin in the discovery of the domestic uses of fire. It is difficult for the nineteenth century readers to carry back their imaginations so far as to realize a time when the use of fire was unknown. But to such an age the worship of anything so useful, so
Pomey's Pantheum Mythologicum.
+ Barthelemy St. Hilaire.