Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 2).djvu/144

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130
MYTH, RITUAL, AND RELIGION.

ideas current in the Vedas and Brahmanas may perhaps be explained as survivals from a period of savagery.[1]

It is, of course, in their anthropomorphic aspect that the Vedic deities share or exceed the infirmities of mortals. The gods are not by any means always regarded as practically equal in supremacy. There were great and small, young and old gods,[2] though this statement, with the habitual inconsistency of a religion without creeds and articles, is elsewhere controverted. "None of you, O gods, is small or young; you are all great."[3] As to the immortality and the origin of the gods, opinions are equally divided among the Vedic poets and in the traditions collected in the Brahmanas. Several myths of the origin of the gods have already been discussed in the chapter on "Aryan Myths of the Creation of the World and of Man." It was there demonstrated that many of the Aryan myths were on a level with those current among contemporary savages all over the world, and it was inferred that they originally sprang from the same source, the savage imagination.

In this place, while examining the wilder divine myths, we need only repeat that, in one legend, heaven and earth, conceived of as two sentient living beings of human parts and passions, produced the Aryan gods, as they did the gods of the New Zealanders and of

  1. Here we must remind the reader that the Vedas do not offer us all these tales, nor the worst of them. As M. Barth says, "Le sentiment religieux a écarté la plupart de ces mythes ainsi que beaucoup d'autres qui le choquaient, mais il ne les a pas écartés tous" (Religions de l'Inde, p. 14).
  2. Rig-Veda, i. 27, 13.
  3. Rig-Veda, viii. 30; Muir, v. 12.