Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/28

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18
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

to mankind. From Pramanthâ, or Prâmâthyus—"he who hollows out by rubbing," "he who steals fire"—the transition is easy and natural, and there is only one step from the Indian Prâmâthyus to the Prometheus of the Greeks, who stole the heavenly fire to light the spark of life, the soul, in the clay-formed man.

The spindle or pramantha had wound round it a cord of hemp mixed with cow-hair, and with this cord the priest of Brahma gave it an alternating rotary motion from right to left and from left to right. In rotating the spindle, one end of it rested in a depression made at the intersection-point of two crossed pieces of wood, the ends of which were bent to a right angle, and firmly secured with four bronze nails, thus preventing them from moving. The entire apparatus was called swastika.[1] The father of the sacred fire was named Twastri, i. e., the divine carpenter who made the swastika and the pramantha, the mutual rubbing of which together produced the divine babe Agni. Its mother was named Maya. Agni took the name of Akta (i. e., anointed, christos) after the priest had poured on its head the soma, and on its body the purified butter of the sacrifice.

In his interesting work on the "Origin of Fire," Adalbert Kuhn gives to the PSM V10 D028 Hindu swastika 1.png and to this other like sign, PSM V10 D028 Hindu swastika 2.png the name of arani, and both of them he regards as the religious symbols, par excellence, of our old Aryan ancestors—the symbols of sexual reproduction.

This fire-myth occurs also in the Zendavesta, or sacred book of the Persians, and in the Vedic hymns of the Hindoos, under a twofold form, both material and metaphysical. But the authors of these hymns bear witness that this same myth was, long before their time, symbolized in a great national religion, the founder of which, Rhibu, is no other than Orpheus. This tradition, common to Greeks, Hindoos, and Persians, carries us back to those ancient times when the as yet undiscovered branches of this stock wandered upon the banks of the Oxus.

In his "Researches into the Early History of Mankind," Tylor gives interesting details about the discovery of fire, and the various modes of obtaining it in every age. The primitive method of all would seem, according to him, to have consisted in rubbing together two pieces of dry wood, but this process was perfected in the course of time. Thus, friction is produced by means of a stick which is made

  1. It is well worthy of note that the swastika, PSM V10 D028 Hindu swastika 1.png, of India occurs very frequently in two forms, viz., PSM V10 D028 Hindu swastika 1.png and PSM V10 D028 Hindu swastika 3.png, on the earthen-ware disks found in such great numbers by Dr. Schliemann among the ruins of ancient Ilium. From this it would seem to follow that the Trojans were of Aryan origin. As for the analogies, or even direct resemblances, between certain ceremonies to the worship of Agni and certain rites of the Catholic worship, they, too, may be explained, at least to some extent, by community of origin: Agni, as Akta, would be Christ; Maya, the Virgin Mary; Twastri, Saint Joseph.