Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/113

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

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

By whom the mighty sky, the earth so steadfast,
The realm of light, heaven's vault, has been established,
Who in the air the boundless space traverses:
What god should we with sacrifices worship?

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