Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/149

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Who knows it truly? who can here declare it?
Whence was it born? whence issued this creation?
And did the gods appear with its production?
But then who knows from whence it has arisen?
This world-creation, whence it has arisen,
Or whether it has been produced or has not,
He who surveys it in the highest heaven,
He only knows, or ev'n he does not know it.

Apart from its high literary merit, this poem is most noteworthy for the daring speculations which find utterance in so remote an age. But even here may be traced some of the main defects of Indian philosophy—lack of clearness and consistency, with a tendency to make reasoning depend on mere words. Being the only piece of sustained speculation in the Rigveda, it is the starting-point of the natural philosophy which assumed shape in the evolutionary Sānkhya system. It will, moreover, always retain a general interest as the earliest specimen of Aryan philosophic thought. With the theory of the Song of Creation, that after the non-existent had developed into the existent, water came first, and then intelligence was evolved from it by heat, the cosmogonic accounts of the Brāhmaṇas substantially agree. Here, too, the non-existent becomes the existent, of which the first form is the waters. On these floats Hiraṇyagarbha, the cosmic golden egg, whence is produced the spirit that desires and creates the universe. Always requiring the agency of the creator Prajāpati at an earlier or a later stage, the Brāhmaṇas in some of their accounts place him first, in others the waters. This fundamental contradiction, due to mixing up the theory of creation with that of evolution, is removed in the Sānkhya system by causing Purusha, or soul, to play the part of a