Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/135

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

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

They move alternately with mystic power;
Like children playing they go round the sacrifice:
One of the two surveys all living beings,
The other, seasons meting out, is born again.
Ever anew, being born again, he rises,
He goes in front of dawns as daylight's token.
He, coming, to the gods their share apportions:
The moon extends the length of man's existence.