Myth, Ritual, and Religion/Volume 2/Chapter 16

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CHAPTER XVI.

GODS OF THE ARYANS OF INDIA.

Difficulties of the study—Development of clan-gods—Departmental gods—Divine patronage of morality—Immorality mythically attributed to gods—Indra—His love of Soma—Scandal about Indra—Attempts to explain Indra as an elemental god—Varuna—Ushas—The Asvins—Their legend and theories about it—Tvashtri—The Maruts—Conclusions arrived at.

Nothing in all mythology is more difficult than the attempt to get a clear view of the gods of Vedic India. The perplexed nature of the evidence has already been explained, and may be briefly recapitulated. The obscure documents on which we have to rely, the Vedas and the Brahmanas, contain in solution the opinions of many different ages and of many different minds. Old and comparatively modern conceptions of the deities, pious efforts to veil or to explain away what seemed crude or profane, the puerilities of ritual, half-conscious strivings in the direction of monotheism or pantheism, clan or family prejudices, rough etymological guesses, and many other elements of doubt combine to confuse what can never have been clear. Savage legends, philosophic conjectures, individual predilections are all blended into the collection of hymns called the Rig-Veda. Who can bring order into such a chaos?

An attempt to unravel the tangled threads of Indian faith must be made. The gods of the Vedas are, on the whole, of the usual polytheistic type, though their forms mix into each other like shadows cast by a flickering fire. The ideas which may be gathered about them from the ancient hymns have, as usual, no consistency and no strict orthodoxy. As each bard of each bardic family celebrates a god, he is apt to make him for the occasion the pre-eminent deity of all.[1] This way of conceiving of the gods leads naturally (as thought advances) in the direction of a pantheistic monotheism, a hospitable theology which accepts each divine being as a form or manifestation of the supreme universal spirit. It is easy, however, to detect certain attributes more or less peculiar to each god. As among races far less forward in civilisation, each of the greater powers has his own special department, however much his worshippers may be inclined to regard him as really supreme sovereign. Thus Indra is mainly concerned with thunder and other atmospheric phenomena; these are his department; but Vayu is the wind or the god of the wind, and Agni as fire or the god of fire is necessarily not unconnected with the lightning. The Maruts, again, are the storm-winds, or gods of the storm-winds; Mitra and Varuna preside over day and night; Ushas is the dawn or the goddess of dawn, and Tvashtri is the mechanic among the deities, corresponding more or less closely to the Greek Hephæstus.

Though many of these beings are still in Vedic poetry departmental powers with provinces of their own in external Nature, they are also supposed to be interested not only in the worldly, but in the moral welfare of mankind, and are imagined to "make for righteousness." It is true that the myths by no means always agree in representing the gods as themselves moral. Incest and other hideous offences are imputed to them, and it is common to explain these myths as the result of the forgotten meanings of sayings which originally were only intended to describe processes of nature, especially of the atmosphere. Supposing, for the sake of argument, that this explanation is correct, we can scarcely be expected to think highly of the national taste which preferred to describe pure phenomena like dawn and sunset in language which is appropriate to the worst crimes in the human calendar. It is certain that the Indians, when they came to reflect and philosophise on their own religion (and they had reached this point before the Veda was compiled), were themselves horrified by the immoralities of some of their gods. Yet in Vedic times these gods were already acknowledged as beings endowed with strong moral attributes and interested in the conduct of men. As an example of this high ethical view, we may quote Mr. Max Müller's translation of part of a hymn addressed to Varuna.[2] "Take from me my sin like a fetter, and we shall increase, O Varuna, the spring of thy law. Let not the thread be cut while I weave my song! Let not the form of the workman break before the time. . . . Like as a rope from a calf, remove from me my sin, for away from thee I am not master even of the twinkling of an eye. . . . Move far away from me all self-committed guilt, and may I not, king, suffer for what others have committed. Many dawns have not yet dawned; grant me to live in them, O Varuna." What follows is not on the same level of thought, and the next verse contains an appeal to Varuna to save his worshipper from the effect of magic spells. "Whether it be my companion or a friend who, while I was asleep and trembling, uttered fearful spells against me, whether it be a thief or a wolf who wishes to hurt me, protect us against them, O Varuna."[3] Agni, again, the god of fire, seems to have no original connection with righteousness. Yet even Agni[4] is prayed to forgive whatever sin the worshipper may have committed through folly, and to make him guiltless towards Aditi.[5] The goddess Aditi once more, whether her name (rendered the "boundless") be or be not "one of the oldest names of the dawn,"[6] is repeatedly called on by her worshippers to "make them sinless." In the same way sun, dawn, heaven, soma, and earth are implored to pardon sin.

Though the subject might be dwelt on at very great length, it is perhaps already apparent that the gods of the Vedic poetry are not only potent over regions of the natural world, but are also conceived of, at times, as being powers with ethical tendencies and punishers of mortal guilt. It would be difficult to overstate the ethical nobility of certain Vedic hymns, which even now affect us with a sense of the "hunger and thirst after righteousness" so passionately felt by the Hebrew psalmists. But all this aspect of the Vedic deities is essentially the province of the science of religion rather than of mythology. Man's consciousness of sin, his sense of being imperfect in the sight of "larger other eyes than ours," is a topic of the deepest interest, but it comes but by accident into the realm of mythological science. That science asks, not with what feelings of awe and gratitude the worshipper approaches his gods, but what myths, what stories, are told to or told by the worshipper concerning the origin, personal characteristics, and personal adventures of his deities. As a rule, these stories are a mere chronique scandaleuse, full of the most absurd and offensive anecdotes, and of the crudest fictions. The deities of the Vedic poems, so imposing when regarded as vast natural forces, or as the spiritual beings that master vast natural forces, so sympathetic when looked on as merciful gods conscious of, yet lenient towards, the sins of perishing mortals, have also their mythological aspect and their chronique scandaleuse. It is in the scurrilous or childish tales of the divine adventures that we find one of the points where Vedic touches savage mythology, and where ideas current in the Vedas and Brahmanas may perhaps be explained as survivals from a period of savagery.[7]

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,[8] 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."[9] 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 other races. Again, the gods were represented in the children of Aditi, and this might be taken either in a high and refined sense, as if Aditi were the infinite region from which the solar deities rise,[10] or we may hold that Aditi is the eternal which sustains and is sustained by the gods,[11] or the Indian imagination could sink to the vulgar and half-magical conception of Aditi as a female who, being desirous of sons, cooked a Brahmaudana oblation for the gods, the Sadhyas.[12] Various other gods and supernatural beings are credited with having created or generated the gods. Indra's father and mother are constantly spoken of, and both he and other gods are often said to have been originally mortal, and to have reached the heavens by dint of that "austere fervour," that magical asceticism, which could do much more than move mountains. The gods are thus by no means always credited in Aryan mythology with inherent immortality. Like most of the other deities whose history we have been studying, they had struggles for pre-eminence with powers of a titanic character, the Asuras. "Asura, 'living,' was originally an epithet of certain powers of Nature, particularly of the sky," says Mr. Max Müller.[13] As the gods also are recognised as powers of Nature, particularly of the sky, there does not seem to be much original difference between Devas and Asuras.[14] The opposition between them may be "secondary," as Mr. Max Müller says, but in any case it too strongly resembles the otber wars in heaven of other mythologies to be quite omitted. Unluckily, the most consecutive account of the strife is to be found, not in the hymns of the Vedas, but in the collected body of mythical and other traditions called the Brahmanas.[15] The story in the Brahmana begins by saying that Prajapati (the producer of things, whose acquaintance we have made in the chapter on cosmogonic myths) was half mortal and half immortal. After creating things endowed with life, he created Death, the devourer. With that part of him which was mortal, he was afraid of Death, and the gods were also "afraid of this ender, Death." The gods in this tradition are regarded as mortals. Compare the Black Yajur Veda:[16] "The gods were formerly just like men. They desired to overcome want, misery, death, and to go to the divine assembly. They saw, took, and sacrificed with this Chaturvimsatiratra, and in consequence overcame want, misery, and death, and reached the divine assembly." In the same Veda we are told that the gods and Asuras contended together; the gods were less numerous, but, as politicians make men peers, they added to their number by placing some bricks in the proper position to receive the sacrificial fire. They then used incantations, "Thou art a multiplier;" and so the bricks became animated, and joined the party of the gods, and made numbers more equal.[17] To return to the gods in the Satapatha Brahmana and their dread of death. They overcame him by certain sacrifices suggested by Prajapati. Death resented this, and complained that men would now become immortal and his occupation would be gone. To console him, the gods promised that no man in future should become immortal with his body, but only through knowledge after parting with his body. This legend, at least in its present form, is necessarily later than the establishment of minute sacrificial rules. It is only quoted here as an example of the opinion that the gods were once mortal and "just like men." It may be urged, and perhaps with truth, that this belief is the figment of religious decadence. It interests us, however, because it corresponds with the ideas on the subject which we have already found current in the mythologies of the lower races—legends in which it is always so hard to distinguish between gods and the members of a magnified non-natural race of early men. As to the victory of the gods over the Asuras, that is ascribed by the Satapatha Brahmana[18] to the fact that, at a time when neither gods nor Asuras were scrupulously veracious, the gods invented the idea of speaking the truth. The Asuras stuck to lying. The first

results not unnaturally were that the gods became weak and poor, the Asuras mighty and rich. The gods at last overcame the Asuras, not by veracity, but by the success of a magical sacrifice. Earlier dynasties of gods, to which the generation of Indra succeeded, are not unfrequently mentioned in the Rig-Veda.[19] On the whole, the accounts of the gods and of their nature present in Aryan mythology the inconsistent anthropomorphism, and the mixture of incongruous, and often magical and childish ideas, which mark all other mythological systems. This will become still more manifest when we examine the legends of the various gods separately, as they have been disentangled by Dr. Muir and M. Bergaigne from the Vedas, and from the later documents which contain traditions of different dates. The myths about heaven and earth have been discussed in the chapter on cosmogonic traditions.

The Vedas contain no such orderly statements of the divine genealogies as we find in Hesiod and Homer. All is confusion, all is contradiction.[20] In many passages heaven and earth, Dyaus and Prithivi, are spoken of as parents of the other gods. Dyaus is commonly identified, as is well known, with Zeus by the philologists, but his legend has none of the fulness and richness which makes that of Zeus so remarkable. Before the story of Dyaus could become that of Zeus, the old Aryan sky or heaven god had to attract into his cycle that vast collection of miscellaneous adventures from a thousand sources which fill the legend of the chief Hellenic deity. In the Veda, Dyaus appears now, as with Prithivi,[21] the parent of all, both men and gods, now as a created thing or being fashioned by Indra or by Tvashtri.[22] He is "essentially beneficent, but has no marked individuality, and can only have become the Greek Zeus by inheriting attributes from other deities."[23]

Another very early divine person is Aditi, the mother of the great and popular gods called Adityas. "Nothing is less certain than the derivation of the name of Aditi," says M. Paul Regnaud.[24] M. Regnaud finds the root of Aditi in ad, to shine. Mr. Max Müller looks for the origin of the word in a, privative, and da, to bind; thus Aditi will mean "the boundless," the "infinite," a theory rejected by M. Regnaud. The expansion of this idea, with all its important consequences, is worked out by Mr. Max Müller in his Hibbert Lectures. "The dawn came and went, but there remained always behind the dawn that heaving sea of light or fire from which she springs. Was not this the visible infinite? And what better name could be given than that which the Vedic poets gave to it, Aditi, the boundless, the yonder, the beyond all and everything." This very abstract idea "may have been one of the earliest intuitions and creations of the Hindu mind" (p. 229). M. Darmesteter and Mr. Whitney, on the other hand, explain Aditi just as Welcker and Mr. Max Müller explain Cronion. There was no such thing as a goddess named Aditi till men asked themselves the meaning of the title of their own gods, "the Adityas." That name might be interpreted "children of Aditi," and so a goddess called Aditi was invented to fit the name, thus philologically extracted from Adityas.[25]

M. Bergaigne[26] finds that Aditi means "free," "untrammelled," and is used both as an adjective and as a name. This vague and floating term was well suited to convey the pantheistic ideas natural to the Indian mind, and already notable in the Vedic hymns. "Aditi," cries a poet, "is heaven; Aditi is air; Aditi is the father, the mother, and the son; Aditi is all the gods; Aditi is that which is born and which awaits the birth."[27] Nothing can be more advanced and metaphysical, nothing farther from what is probably the early character of human thought. Meanwhile, though Aditi is a personage so floating and nebulous, she figures in fairly definite form in a certain myth. The Rig-Veda (x. 72, 8) tells us the tale of the birth of her sons, the Adityas. "Eight sons were there of Aditi, born of her womb. To the gods went she with seven; Martanda threw she away." The Satapatha Brahmana throws a good deal of light on her conduct. Aditi had eight sons; but there are only seven gods whom men call Adityas. The eighth she bore a shapeless lump, of the dimensions of a man, as broad as long, say some. The Adityas then trimmed this ugly duckling of the family into human shape, and an elephant sprang from the waste pieces which they threw away; therefore an elephant partakes of the nature of man. The shapen eighth son was called Vivasvat, the sun.[28] If one might argue on a priori grounds, it would be natural to maintain that the Aditi of the Brahmana is the earlier conception, and the pantheistic Aditi of the Vedic hymn the later conception. The Brahmana is written in a savage spirit, the Vedic hymn in a spirit of pure mysticism. The story in the Brahmana exactly corresponds with that of the birth of Maui, the New Zealand hero. The hymn is an expression of profound, and, as we are inclined to think, of advanced thought. But all this is matter of dispute, and touches the very essence of the problem of mythology. It is not to be expected that many, if any, remains of a therimorphic character should cling to a goddess so abstract as Aditi. When, therefore, we find her spoken of as a cow, it is at least as likely that this is only part of "the pleasant unconscious poetry" of the Veda, as that it is a survival of some earlier zoomorphic belief. Gubernatis offers the following lucid account of the metamorphosis of the infinite (for so he understands Aditi) into the humble domestic animal:—"The inexhaustible soon comes to mean that which can be milked without end" (it would be more plausible to say that what can be milked without end soon comes to mean the inexhaustible), "and hence also a celestial cow, an inoffensive cow, which we must not offend. . . . The whole heavens being thus represented as an infinite cow, it was natural that the principal and most visible phenomena of the sky should become, in their turn, children of the cow." Aditi then is "the great spotted cow." Thus did the Vedic poets (according to Gubernatis) descend from the unconditioned to the byre.

From Aditi, however she is to be interpreted, we turn to her famous children, the Adityas, the high gods.

There is no kind of consistency, as we have so often said, in Vedic mythical opinion. The Adityas, for example, are now represented as three, now as seven; for three and seven are sacred numbers. To the triad a fourth is sometimes added, to the seven an eighth Aditya. The Adityas are a brotherhood or college of gods, but some of the members of the fraternity have more individual character than, for example, the Maruts, who are simply a company with a tendency to become confused with the Adityas. Considered as a triad, the Adityas are Varuna, Mitra, Aryaman. The name of Varuna is commonly derived from vri (or Var),[29] to cover, according to the commentator Sayana, because "he envelops the wicked in his snares," the nets which he carries to capture the guilty. As god of the midnight sky, Varuna is also "the covering" deity, with his universal pall of darkness. Varuna's name has frequently been compared to that of Uranus (Οὐρανὸς), the Greek god of heaven, who was mutilated by his son Cronos. Supposing Varuna to mean the heaven, we are not much advanced, for dyu also has the same meaning; yet Dyaus and Varuna have little in common. The interpreters of the Vedas attempted to distinguish Mitra from Varuna by making the former the god of the daylight, the latter the god of the midnight vault of heaven. The distinction, like other Vedic attempts at drawing a line among the floating phantasms of belief, is not kept up with much persistency.

Of all Vedic deities, Varuna has the most spiritual and ethical character. "The grandest cosmical functions are ascribed to Varuna." "His ordinances are fixed and unassailable." "He who should flee far beyond the sky would not escape Varuna the king." He is "gracious even to him who has committed sin." To be brief, the moral sentiments, which we have shown to be often present in a pure form, even in the religion of savages, find a lofty and passionate expression in the Vedic psalms to Varuna.[30] But even Varuna has not shaken off all remains of the ruder mythopœic fancy. A tale of the grossest and most material obscenity is told of Mitra and Varuna in the Rig-Veda itself—the tale of the birth of Vasistha.[31]

In the Aitareya Brahmana (ii. 460) Varuna takes a sufficiently personal form. He has somehow fallen heir to a role familiar to us from the Russian tale of Tsar Morskoi, the Gaelic "Battle of the Birds," and the Scotch "Nicht, Nought, Nothing."[32] Varuna, in short, becomes the giant or demon who demands from the king the gift of his yet unborn son. Harischandra is childless, and is instructed to pray to Varuna, promising to offer the babe as a buman sacrifice. When the boy is born, Harischandra tries to evade the fulfilment of his promise. Finally a young Brahman is purchased, and is to be sacrificed to Varuna as a substitute for the king's son. The young Brahman is supernaturally released.

Thus even in Vedic, still more in Brahmanic myth, the vague and spiritual form of Varuna is brought to shame, or confused with some demon of lower and probably yet earlier legends.

There are believed on somewhat shadowy evidence to be traces of a conflict between Varuna and Indra (the fourth Aditya sometimes added to the triad), a conflict analogous to that between Uranus and Cronos.[33] The hymn, as M. Bergaigne holds, proves that Indra was victorious over Varuna, and thereby obtained possession of fire and of the soma juice. But these births and battles of gods, who sometimes are progenitors of their own fathers, and who seem to change shapes with demons, are no more to be fixed and scientifically examined than the torn plumes and standards of the mist as they roll up a pass among the mountain pines.[34]

We next approach a somewhat better defined and more personal figure, that of the famous god Indra, who is the nearest Vedic analogue of the Greek Zeus. Before dealing with the subject more systematically, it may be interesting to give one singular example of the parallelisms between Aryan and savage mythology. In his disquisition on the Indian gods, Dr. Muir has been observing[35] that some passages of the Rig-Veda imply that the reigning deities were successors of others who had previously existed. He quotes, in proof of this, a passage from Rig-Veda, iv. 18, 12: "Who, O Indra, made thy mother a widow? Who sought to kill thee, lying or moving? What god was present in the fray when thou didst slay thy father, seizing him by the foot?" According to M. Bergaigne,[36] Indra slew his father, Tvashtri, for the purpose of stealing and drinking the soma, to which he was very partial. This is rather a damaging passage, as it appears that the Vedic poet looked on Indra as a parricide and a drunkard. To explain this hint, however, Sayana the ancient commentator, quotes a passage from the Black Yajur-Veda which is no explanation at all. But it has some interest for us, as showing how the myths of Aryans and Hottentots coincide, even in very strange details. Yajna (sacrifice) desired Dakshina (largesse). He consorted with her. Indra was apprehensive of this. He reflected, "Whoever is born of her will be this." He entered into her. Indra himself was born of her. He reflected, "Whoever is born of her besides me will be this." Having considered, he cut open her womb. She produced a cow. Here we have a high Aryan god passing into and being born from the womb of a being who also bore a cow. The Hottentot legend of the birth of their god, Heitsi Eibib, is scarcely so repulsive.[37] "There was grass growing, and a cow came and ate of that grass, and she became pregnant" (as Hera of Ares in Greek myth), "and she brought forth a young bull. And this bull became a very large bull." And the people came together one day in order to slaughter him. But he ran away down hill, and they followed him to turn him back and catch him. But when they came to the spot where he had disappeared, they found a man making milk tubs. They asked this man, "Where is the bull that passed down here?" He said, "I do not know; has he then passed here?" And all the while it was he himself, who had again become Heitsi Eibib. Thus the birth of Heitsi Eibib resembled that of Indra as described in Rig-Veda, iv. 18, 10. "His mother, a cow, bore Indra, an unlicked calf."[38] Whatever view we may take of this myth, and of the explanation in the Brahmana, which has rather the air of being an invention to account for the Vedic cow-mother of Indra, it is certain that the god is not regarded as an uncreated being.[39]

It seems incontestable that in Vedic mythology Tvashtri is regarded as the father of Indra.[40] Thus (ii. 17, 6) Indra's thunderbolts are said to have been fashioned by his father. Other proofs are found in the account of the combat between father and son. Thus (iii. 48, 4) we read, "Powerful, victorious, he gives his body what shape he pleases. Thus Indra, having vanquished Tvashtri even at his birth, stole and drank the soma."[41] These anecdotes do not quite correspond with the version of Indra's guilt given in the Brahmanas. There it is stated[42] that Tvashtri had a three-headed son akin to the Asuras, named Vairupa. This Vairupa was suspected of betraying to the Asuras the secret of soma. Indra therefore cut off his three heads. Now Vairupa was a Brahman, and Indra was only purified of his awful guilt, Brahmanicide, when earth, trees, and women accepted each their share of the iniquity. Tvashtri, the father of Vairupa, still excluded Indra from a share of the soma, which, however, Indra seized by force. Tvashtri threw what remained of Indra's share into the fire with imprecations, and from the fire sprang Vritra, the enemy of

Indra. Indra is represented at various times and in various texts as having sprung from the mouth of Purusha, or as being a child of heaven and earth, whom he thrust asunder, as Tutenganahau thrust asunder Rangi and Papa in the New Zealand myth. In a passage of the Black Yajur Veda, once already quoted, Indra, sheep, and the Kshattriya caste were said to have sprung from the breast and arms of Prajapati.[43] In yet another hymn in the Rig-Veda he is said to have conquered heaven by magical austerity.

Leaving the Brahmanas aside, Mr. Perry[44] distinguishes four sorts of Vedic texts on the origin of Indra:—

1. Purely physical.
2. Anthropomorphic.
3. Vague references to Indra's parents.
4. Philosophical speculations.

Of the first class,[45] it does not appear to us that the purely physical element is so very pure after all. Heaven, earth, Indra, "the cow," are all thought of as personal entities, however gigantic and vague. In the second or anthropomorphic myths we have[46] the dialogue already referred to, in which Indra, like Set in Egypt and Malsumis or Chokanipok in America, insists on breaking his way through his mother's side.[47] In verse 5 his mother exposes Indra, as Maui and the youngest son of Aditi were exposed. Indra soon after, as precocious as Heitsi Eibib, immediately on his birth kills his father.[48] He also kills Vritra, as Apollo when new-born slew the Python. In iii. 48, 2, 3, he takes early to soma-drinking. In x. 153, i, women cradle him as the nymphs nursed Zeus in the Cretan cave.

In the third class we have the odd myth,[49] "while an immature boy, he mounted the new waggon and roasted for father and mother a fierce bull."

In the fourth class a speculative person tries[50] to account for the statement that Indra was born from a horse, "or the verse means that Agni was a horse's son." Finally, Sayana[51] explains nothing, but happens to mention that the goddess Aditi swallowed her rival Nisti, a very primitive performance, and much like the feat of Cronos when he dined on his family, or of Zeus when he swallowed his wife. Thus a fixed tradition of Indra's birth is lacking in the Veda, and the fluctuating traditions are not very creditable to the purity of the Aryan fancy. In personal appearance Indra was handsome and ruddy as the sun, but, like Odin and Heitsi Eibib and other gods and wizards, he could assume any shape at will. He was a great charioteer, and wielded the thunderbolt forged for him by Tvashtri, the Indian Hephæstus. His love of the intoxicating soma juice was notorious, and with sacrifices of this liquor his adorers were accustomed to inspire and invigorate him. He is even said to have drunk at one draught thirty bowls of soma. Dr. Haug has tasted it, but could only manage one teaspoonful. Indra's belly is compared by his admirers to a lake, and there seems to be no doubt that they believed the god really drank their soma, as Heitsi Eibib really enjoys the honey left by the Hottentots on his grave. "I have verily resolved to bestow cows and horses. I have quaffed the soma. The draughts which I have drunk impel me as violent blasts. I have quaffed the soma. I surpass in greatness the heaven and the vast earth. I have quaffed the soma. I am majestic, elevated to the heavens. I have quaffed the soma."[52] So sings the drunken and bemused Indra, in the manner of the Cyclops in Euripides, after receiving the wine, the treacherous gift of Odysseus.

According to the old commentator Sayana, Indra got at the soma which inspired him with his drinking-song by assuming the shape of a quail.

The great feats of Indra, which are constantly referred to, are his slaughter of the serpent Vritra, who had taken possession of all the waters, and his recovery of the sun, which had also been stolen.[53] These myths are usually regarded as allegorical ways of stating that the lightning opens the dark thundercloud, and makes it disgorge the rain and reveal the sun. Whether this theory be correct or not, it is important for our purpose to show that the feats thus attributed to Indra are really identical in idea with, though more elevated in conception and style, than certain Australian, Iroquois, and Thlinkeet legends. In the Iroquois myth, as in the Australian,[54] a great frog swallowed all the waters, and was destroyed by Ioskeha or some other animal. In Thlinkeet legends, Yehl, the raven-god, carried off to men the hidden sun and the waters. Among these lower races the water-stealer was thought of as a real reptile of some sort, and it is probable that a similar theory once prevailed among the ancestors of the Aryans. Vritra and Ahi, the mysterious foes whom Indra slays when he recovers the sun and the waters, were probably once as real to the early fancy as the Australian or Iroquois frog. The extraordinary myth of the origin of Vritra, only found in the Brahmanas, indicates the wild imagination of an earlier period. Indra murdered a Brahman, a three-headed one, it is true, but still a Brahman. For this he was excluded from the banquet and was deprived of his favourite soma. He stole a cup of it, and the dregs, thrown into the fire with a magical imprecation, became Vritra, whom Indra had such difiiculty in killing. Before attacking Vritra, Indra supplied himself with Dutch courage. "A copious draught of soma provided him with the necessary courage and strength." The terror of the other gods was abject.[55] After slaying him, he so lost self-possession that in his flight he behaved like Odin when he flew off in terror with the head of Suttung.[56] If our opinion be correct, the elemental myths which abound in the Veda are not myths "in the making," as is usually held, but rather myths gradually dissolving into poetry and metaphor. As an example of the persistence in civilised myth of the old direct savage theory that animals of a semi-supernatural sort really cause the heavenly phenomena, we may quote Mr. Darmesteter's remark in the introduction to the Zendavesta:[57] "The storm floods that cleanse the sky of the dark fiends in it were described in a class of myths as the urine of a gigantic animal in the heavens." A more savage and theriomorphic hypothesis it would be hard to discover among Bushmen or Nootkas.[58] Probably the serpent Vritra is another beast out of the same menagerie.

If our theory of the evolution of gods is correct, we may expect to find in the myths of Indra traces of a theriomorphic character. As the point in the ear of man is thought or fabled to be a relic of his arboreal ancestry, so in the shape of Indra there should, if gods were developed out of divine beasts, be traces of fur and feather. They are not very numerous nor very distinct, but we give them for what they may be worth.

The myth of Yehl, the Thlinkeet raven-god, will not have been forgotten. In his raven gear Yehl stole the sacred water, as Odin, also in bird form, stole the mead of Suttung. We find a similar feat connected with Indra. Gubernatis says,[59] "In the Rig-Veda Indra often appears as a hawk. While the hawk carries the ambrosia through the air, he trembles for fear of the archer Kriçanus, who, in fact, shot off one of his claws, of which the hedgehog was born, according to the Aitareya Brahmana, and according to the Vedic hymn, one of his feathers, which, falling on the earth, afterwards became a tree."[60] Indra's very peculiar relations with rams are also referred to by Gubernatis.[61] They resemble a certain repulsive myth of Zeus, Demeter, and the ram referred to by the early Christian fathers. In the Satapatha Brahmana[62] Indra is called "ram of Medhâtithi," wife of Vrishanasva. Indra, like Loki, had taken the part of a woman.[63] In the shape of a ram he carried off Medhâtithi, an exploit like that of Zeus with Ganymede.[64]

In the Vedas, however, all the passages which connect Indra with animals will doubtless be explained away as metaphorical, though it is admitted that, like Zeus, he could assume whatever form he pleased.[65] Vedic poets, probably of a late period, made Indra as anthropomorphic as the Homeric Zeus. His domestic life in the society of his consort Indrani is described.[66] When he is starting for the war, Indrani calls him back, and gives him a stirrup-cup of soma. He and she quarrel very naturally about his pet monkey.[67]

In this brief sketch, which is not even a summary, we have shown how much of the irrational element, how much, too, of the humorous element, there is in the myths about Indra. He is a drunkard, who gulps down cask, spigot, and all.[68] He is an adulterer and a "shape-shifter," like all medicine-men and savage sorcerers. He is born along with the sheep from the breast of a vast non-natural being, like Ymir in Scandinavian myth; he metamorphoses himself into a ram or a woman; he rends asunder his father and mother, heaven and earth; he kills his father immediately after his birth, or he is mortal, but has attained heaven by dint of magic, by "austere fervour." Now our argument is that these and such as these incongruous and irrational parts of Indra's legend have no necessary or natural connection with the worship of him as a nature-god, an elemental deity, a power of sky and storm, as civilised men conceive storm and sky. On the other hand, these legends, of which plenty of savage parallels have been adduced, are obviously enough survivals from the savage intellectual condition, in which sorcerers, with their absurd powers, are almost on a level with gods. And our theory is, that the irrational part of Indra's legend became attached to the figure of an elemental divinity, a nature-god, at the period when savage men attributed to their gods the qualities which were claimed by the most illustrious among themselves, by their sorcerers and chiefs. In the Vedas the nature-god has not quite disengaged himself from these old savage attributes, which to civilised men seem so irrational. "Trailing clouds of" anything but "glory" does Indra come "from heaven, which is his home." If the irrational element in the legend of Indra was neither a survival of, nor a loan from, savage fancy, why does it tally with the myths of savages?

The other Adityas, strictly so called (for most gods are styled Adityas now and then by way of compliment), need not detain us. We go on to consider the celebrated soma.

Soma is one of the most singular deities of the Indo-Aryans. Originally Soma is the intoxicating juice of a certain plant.[69] The wonderful personifying power of the early imagination can hardly be better illustrated than by the deification of the soma juice. We are accustomed to hear in the märchen or peasant myths of Scotch, Russians, Zulus, and other races, of drops of blood or spittle which possess human faculties and intelligence, and which can reply, for example, to questions. The personification of the soma juice is an instance of the same exercise of fancy on a much grander scale. All the hymns in the ninth book of the Rig-Veda, and many others in other places, are addressed to the milk-like juice of this plant, which, when personified, holds a place almost as high as that of Indra in the Indo-Aryan Olympus. The sacred plant was brought to men from the sky or from a mountain by a hawk, or by Indra in guise of a hawk, just as fire was brought to other races by a benevolent bird, a raven or a crow. According to the Aitareya Brahmana (ii. 59), the gods bought some from the Gandharvas in exchange for one of their own number, who was metamorphosed into a woman, "a big naked woman" of easy virtue. In the Satapatha Brahmana,[70] the gods, while still they lived on earth, desired to obtain soma, which was then in the sky. A Gandharva robbed the divine being who had flown up and seized the soma, and, as in the Aitareya Brahmana, the gods won the plant back by the aid of Vach, a woman-envoy to the amorous Gandharvas. The Black Yajur Veda has some ridiculous legends about Soma (personified) and his thirty-three wives, their jealousies, and so forth. Soma, in the Rig-Veda, is not only the beverage that inspires Indra, but is also an anthropomorphic god who created and lighted up the sun,[71] and who drives about in a chariot. He is sometimes addressed as a kind of Atlas, who keeps heaven and earth asunder.[72] He is prayed to forgive the violations of his law.[73] Soma, in short, as a personified power, wants little of the attributes of a supreme deity.[74]

Another, and to modern ideas much more poetical personified power, often mentioned in the Vedas, is Ushas, or the dawn. As among the Australians, the dawn is a woman, but a very different being from the immodest girl dressed in red kangaroo-skins of the Murri myth. She is an active maiden, who[75] "advances, cherishing all things; she hastens on, arousing footed creatures, and makes the birds fly aloft. . . . The flying birds no longer rest after thy dawning, O bringer of food (?). She has yoked her horses from the remote rising-place of the sun. . . . Resplendent on thy massive car, hear our invocations." Ushas is "like a fair girl adorned by her mother. . . . She has been beheld like the bosom of a bright maiden. . . . Born again and again though ancient, shining with an ever uniform hue, she wasteth away the life of mortals." She is the sister of Night, and the bright sun is her child. There is no more pure poetry in the Vedic collections than that which celebrates the dawn, though even here the Rishis are not oblivious of the rewards paid to the sacrificial priests.[76] Dawn is somewhat akin to the Homeric Eos, the goddess of the golden throne,[77] she who loved a mortal and bore him away, for his beauty's sake, to dwell with the immortals. Once Indra, acting with the brutality of the Homeric Ares, charged against the car of Ushas and overthrew it.[78] In her legend, however, we find little but pure poetry, and we do not know that Ushas, like Eos, ever chose a mortal lover. Such is the Vedic Ushas, but the Brahmanas, as usual, manage either to retain or to revive and introduce the old crude element of myth. We have seen that the Australians account to themselves for the ruddy glow of the morning sky by the hypothesis that dawn is a girl of easy virtue, dressed in the red opossum-skins she has received from her lovers. In a similar spirit the Aitareya Brahmana (iv. 9) offers brief and childish ætiological myths to account for a number of natural phenomena. Thus it explains the sterility of mules by saying that the gods once competed in a race; that Agni (fire) drove in a chariot drawn by mules and scorched them, so that they do not conceive. But in this race Ushas was drawn by red cows; "hence after the coming of dawn there is a reddish colour." The red cows of the Brahmana may pair off with the red opossums of the Australian imagination.

We now approach a couple of deities whose character, as far as such shadowy things can be said to have any character at all, is pleasing and friendly. The Asvins correspond in Vedic mythology to the Dioscuri, the Castor and Polydeuces of Greece. They, like the Dioscuri, are twins, are horsemen, and their legend represents them as kindly and helpful to men in distress. But while the Dioscuri stand forth in Greek legend as clearly and fairly fashioned as two young knights of the Panathenaic procession, the Asvins show as bright and formless as melting wreaths of mist.

The origin of their name has been investigated by the commentator Yaska, who "quotes sundry verses to prove that the two Asvins belong together" (sic).[79] The etymology of the name is the subject, as usual, of various conjectures. It has been derived from Asva, a horse, from the root as, "to pervade," and explained as a patronymic from Asva, the sun. The nature of the Asvins puzzled the Indian commentators no less than their name. Who, then, are these Asvins? "Heaven and earth," say some.[80] The "some" who held this opinion relied on an etymological guess, the derivation from as, "to pervade." Others inclined to explain the Asvins as day and night, others as the sun and moon, others—Indian euhemerists—as two real kings, now dead and gone. Professor Roth thinks the Asvins contain an historical element, and are "the earliest bringers of light in the morning sky." Mr. Max Müller seems in favour of the two twilights. As to these and allied modes of explaining the two gods in connection with physical phenomena, Muir writes thus: "This allegorical method of interpretation seems unlikely to be correct, as it is difficult to suppose that the phenomena in question should have been alluded to under such a variety of names and circumstances. It appears, therefore, to be more probable that the Rishis merely refer to certain legends which were popularly current of interventions of the Asvins in behalf of the persons whose names are mentioned." In the Veda[81] the Asvins are represented as living in fraternal polyandry, with but one wife, Surya, the daughter of the sun, between them. They are thought to have won her as the prize in a chariot-race, according to the commentator Sayana. "The time of their appearance is properly the early dawn," when they receive the offerings of their votaries.[82] "When the dark (night) stands among the tawny cows, I invoke you, Asvins, sons of the sky."[83] They are addressed as young, beautiful, fleet, and the foes of evil spirits. There can be no doubt that, when the Vedas were composed, the Asvins shone and wavered and were eclipsed among the bright and cloudy throng of gods, then contemplated by the Rishis or sacred singers. Whether they had from the beginning an elemental origin, and what that origin exactly was, or whether they were merely endowed by the fancy of poets with various elemental and solar attributes and functions, it may be impossible to ascertain. Their legend, meanwhile, is replete with features familiar in other mythologies. As to their birth, the Rig-Veda has the following singular anecdote, which reminds one of the cloud-bride of Ixion, and of the woman of clouds and shadows that was substituted for Helen of Troy:[84]—"Tvashtri makes a wedding for his daughter. Hearing this, the whole world assembled. The mother of Yama, the wedded wife of the great Vivasvat, disappeared. They concealed the immortal bride from mortals. Making another of like appearance, they gave her to Vivasvat. Saranyu bore the two Asvins, and when she had done so, deserted the twins." The old commentators explain by a legend in which the daughter of Tvashtri, Saranyu, took on the shape of a mare. Vivasvat followed her in the form of a horse, and she became the mother of the Asvins, "sons of the horse," who more or less correspond to Castor and Pollux, sons of the swan. The Greeks were well acquainted with local myths of the same sort, according to which, Poseidon, in the form of a horse, had become the parent of a horse by Demeter Erinnys (Saranyu?), then in the shape of a mare. The Phigaleians, among whom this tale was current, worshipped a statue of Demeter in a woman's shape with a mare's head. The same tale was told of Cronus and Philyra.[85] This myth of the birth of gods, who "are lauded as Asvins" sprung from a horse,[86] may be the result of a mere volks etymologie. Some one may have asked himself what the word Asvins meant; may have rendered it "sprung from a horse," and may either have invented, by way of explanation, a story like that of Cronus and Philyra, or may have adapted such a story, already current in folklore, to his purpose; or the myth may be early, and a mere example of the prevalent mythical fashion which draws no line between gods and beasts and men. It will probably be admitted that this and similar tales prove the existence of the savage element of mythology among the Aryans of India, whether it be borrowed, or a survival, or an imitative revival.

The Asvins were usually benefactors of men in every sort of strait and trouble. A quail even invoked them (Mr. Max Müller thinks this quail was the dawn, but the Asvins were something like the dawn already), and they rescued her from the jaws of a wolf. In this respect, and in their beauty and youth, they answer to Castor and Pollux as described by Theocritus. "Succourers are they of men in the very thick of peril, and of horses maddened in the bloody press of battle, and of ships that, defying the setting and the rising of the stars in heaven, have encountered the perilous breath of storms."[87] A few examples of the friendliness of the Asvins may be selected from the long list given by Muir. They renewed the youth of Kali. After the leg of Vispala had been cut off in battle, the Asvins substituted an iron leg! They restored sight to Rijrasva, whom his father had blinded because, in an access of altruism, he had given one hundred and one sheep to a hungry she-wolf. The she-wolf herself prayed to the Asvins to succour her benefactor.[88] They drew the Rishi Rebha out of a well. They made wine and liquors flow from the hoof of their own horse.[89] Most of the persons rescued, quail and all, are interpreted, of course, as semblances of the dawn and the twilight. Goldstücker says they are among "the deities forced by Professor Müller to support his dawn-theory." M. Bergaigne also leans to the theory of physical phenomena. When the Asvins restore sight to the blind Kanva, he sees "no reason to doubt that the blind Kanva is the sun during the night, or Agni or Soma in concealment." A proof of this he finds in the statement that Kanva is "dark;" to which we might reply that "dark" is still a synonym for "blind" among the poor.[90]

M. Bergaigne's final hypothesis is that the Asvins "may be assimilated to the" two celebrants "who in the beginning seemed to represent the terrestrial and celestial fires." But this origin, he says, even if correctly conjectured, had long been forgotten.

Beyond the certainty that the Asvins represent the element of kindly and healing powers, as commonly conceived of in popular mythology—for example, in the legends of the saints—there is really nothing certain or definite about their original meaning.

A god with a better defined and more recognisable department is Tvashtri, who is in a vague kind of way the counterpart of the Greek Hephæstus. He sharpens the axe of Brahmanaspiti, and forges the bolts of Indra. He also bestows offspring, is a kind of male Aphrodite, and is the shaper of all forms, human and animal. Saranyu is his daughter. Professor Kuhn connects her with the storm-cloud, Mr. Max Müller with the dawn.[91] Her wedding in the form of a mare to Vivasvat in the guise of a horse has already been spoken of and discussed. Tvashtri's relations with Indra, as we have shown, are occasionally hostile; there is a blood-feud between them, as Indra slew Tvashtri's three-headed son, from whose blood sprang two partridges and a sparrow.[92]

The Maruts are said to be gods of the tempest, of lightning, of wind, and of rain. Their names, as usual, are tortured on various racks by the etymologists. Mr. Max Müller connects Maruts with the root mar, "to pound," and with the Roman war-god Mars. Others think the root is mar, "to shine." Benfey[93] says "that the Maruts (their name being derived from mar, 'to die') are personifications of the souls of the departed." Their numbers are variously estimated. They are the sons of Rudra and Prisni. Rudra as a bull, according to a tale told by Sayana, begat the Maruts on the earth, which took the shape of a cow. As in similar cases, we may suppose this either to be a survival or revival of a savage myth or a merely symbolical statement. There are traces of rivalry between Indra and the Maruts. It is beyond question that the Rishis regard them as elementary and mainly as storm-gods. Whether they were originally ghosts (like the Australian Mrarts, where the name tempts the wilder kind of etymologists), or whether they are personified winds, or, again, winds conceived as persons (which is not quite the same thing), it is difficult, and perhaps impossible, to determine.

Though divers of the Vedic gods have acquired solar characteristics, there is a regular special sun-deity in the Veda, named Surya or Savitri. He answers to the Helios of the Homeric hymn to the sun, conceived as a personal being, a form which he still retains in the fancy of the Greek islanders.[94] Surya is sometimes spoken of as a child of Aditi's or of Dyaus, and Ushas is his wife, though she also lives in Spartan polyandry with the Asvin twins.[95] Like Helios Hyperion, he beholds all things, the good and evil deeds of mortals. He is often invoked in language of religious fervour.[96] The English reader is apt to confuse Surya with the female being Surya. Surya is regarded by Grassmann and Roth as a feminine personification of the sun.[97] M. Bergaigne regards Sûryâ as the daughter of the sun or daughter of Savitri, and thus as the dawn. Savitri is the sun, golden-haired and golden-handed. From the Satapatha Bralimana[98] it appears that people were apt to identify Savitri with Prajapati.[99] These blendings of various conceptions and of philosophic systems with early traditions have now been illustrated as far as our space will permit. The natural conclusion, after a rapid view of Vedic deities, seems to be that they are extremely composite characters, visible only in the shifting rays of the Indian fancy, at a period when the peculiar qualities of Indian thought were already sufficiently declared. The lights of ritualistic dogma and of pantheistic and mystic and poetic emotion fall in turn, like the changeful hues of sunset, on figures as melting and shifting as the clouds of evening. Yet even to these vague shapes of the divine there clings, as we think has been shown, somewhat of their oldest raiment, something of the early or even savage fancy from which we suppose them to have floated up ages before the Vedas were compiled in their present form. If this view be correct, Vedic mythology does by no means represent what is primitive and early, but what, in order of development, is late, is peculiar, and is marked with the mark of a religious tendency as strongly national and characteristic as the purest Semitic monotheism. Thus the Veda is not a fair starting-point for a science of religion, but is rather, in spite of its antiquity, a temporary though advanced resting-place in the development of Indian religious speculation and devotional sentiment.[100]

Notes[edit]

  1. Muir, v. 125. Compare Muir, i. 348, on the word Kusikas, implying, according to Benfey, that Indra "is designated as the sole or chief deity of this tribe." Cf. also Haug, Ait. Br., ii. 384.
  2. Rig-Veda, ii. 28; Hibbert Lectures, p. 284.
  3. An opposite view is expressed in Weber's Hist. of Sansk. Literature.
  4. Rig-Veda, iv. 12, 4; viii. 93, 7.
  5. For divergent opinions about Aditi, compare Revue de l'Histoire des Religions, xii. 1, pp. 40–42; Muir, v. 218.
  6. Max Müller, Hibbert Lectures, p. 228.
  7. 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).
  8. Rig-Veda, i. 27, 13.
  9. Rig-Veda, viii. 30; Muir, v. 12.
  10. Max Müller, Hibbert Lectures, p. 230.
  11. Roth, in Muir, iv. 56.
  12. Taittirya Brahmana, i. 1, 9, 1; Muir, v. 55, 1, 27.
  13. Hibbert Lectures, p. 318.
  14. In the Atharva-Veda it is said that a female Asura once drew Indra from among the gods (Muir, v. 82). Thus gods and Asuras are capable of amorous relations.
  15. Satapatha Br. throughout. See the Oxford translation.
  16. Taittiriya Sanhita; Muir, v. 15, note 22.
  17. According to a later legend, or a legend which we have received in a later form, the gods derived immortality from drinking of the churned ocean of milk. They churned it with Mount Mandara for a staff and the serpent Hasuki for a cord. The Ramayana and Mahabharata ascribe this churning to the desire of the gods to become immortal. According to the Mahabharata, a Daitya named Rahu insinuated himself among the gods, and drank some of the draught of immortality. Vishnu beheaded him before the draught reached lower than his throat; his head was thus immortal, and is now a constellation. He pursues the sun and moon, who had spied him among the gods, and causes their eclipses by his ferocity. All this is on a level with Australian mythology.
  18. Muir, iv. 60.
  19. Muir, v. 16–17.
  20. Certain myths of the beginnings of things will be found in the chapter on cosmogonic traditions.
  21. Muir, v. 21–24.
  22. Muir, v. 30.
  23. Bergaigne, iii. 112.
  24. Revue de l'Histoire des Religions, xii. 1, 40.
  25. The Brahmanic legend of the birth of the Adityas (Aitareya Brahmana, iii. 33) is too disgusting to be quoted.
  26. Religion Vedique, iii. 88.
  27. Rig-Veda, i. 89, 10.
  28. Muir, iv. 15.
  29. Max Müller, Select Essays, i. 371.
  30. Muir, v. 66.
  31. Rig-Veda, vii. 33, 2.
  32. See Custom and Myth, "A Far-Travelled Tale," and our chapter postea, on "Romantic Myths."
  33. Rig-Veda, x. 124.
  34. Bergaigne, iii. 147.
  35. Sanskrit Texts, v. 16–17.
  36. Religion Vedique, iii. 99.
  37. Tsuni Goam, Hahn, p. 68.
  38. Ludwig, Die färse hat den groszen, starken, nicht zu verwundenden stier, den tosenden Indra, geboren.
  39. As to the etymological derivation and original significance of the name of Indra, the greatest differences exist among philologists. Yaska gives thirteen guesses of old, and there are nearly as many modern conjectures. In 1846 Roth described Indra as the god of "the bright clear vault of heaven" (Zeller's Theologisches Jahrbuch, 1846, p. 352). Compare for this and the following conjectures, E. D. Perry, Journal of American Oriental Society, vol. i. p. 118. Roth derived the "radiance" from idh, indh, to kindle. Roth afterwards changed his mind, and selected in or inv, to have power over. Lassen (Indische Alterthumskunde, 2d ed., i. p. 893) adopted a different derivation. Benfey (Or. und Occ., 1862, p. 48) made Indra god, not of the radiant, but of the rainy sky. Mr. Max Müller (Lectures on Science of Language, ii. 470) made Indra "another conception of the bright blue sky," but (p. 473, note 35) he derives Indra from the same root as in Sanskrit gives indu, drop or sap, that is, apparently, rainy sky, the reverse of blue. It means originally "the giver of rain," and Benfey is quoted ut supra. In Chips, ii. 91, Indra becomes "the chief solar deity of India." Muir (Texts, v. 77) identifies the character of Indra with that of Jupiter Pluvius, the rainy Jove of Rome. Grassmann (Dictionary, s.v.) calls Indra "the god of the bright firmament." Mr. Perry takes a distinction, and regards Indra as a god, not of sky, but of air, a midgarth between earth and sky, who inherited the skyey functions of Dyu. In the Veda Mr. Perry finds him "the personification of the thunderstorm."
  40. On the parentage of Indra, Bergaigne writes, iii. 58.
  41. iii. 61. Bergaigne identifies Tvashtri and Vritra. Cf. Aitareya Brahmana, ii. 483, note 5.
  42. Aitareya Brahmana, ii. 483, note 5.
  43. Muir, i. 16.
  44. Op. cit., p. 124.
  45. Rig-Veda, iv. 17, 4, 2, 12; iv. 22, 4; i. 63, i; viii. 59, 4; viii. 6, 28–30.
  46. Rig-Veda, iv. 18, i.
  47. Cf. "Egyptian Divine Myths.
  48. Why do Indra and his family behave in this bloodthirsty way? Hillebrandt says that the father is the heaven which Indra "kills" by covering it with clouds. But, again, Indra kills his father by concealing the sun. He is abandoned by his mother when the clear sky, from which he is born, disappears behind the veil of cloud. Is the father sun or heaven? is the mother clear sky, or, as elsewhere, the imperishability of the daylight? (Perry, op. cit., p. 149).
  49. Rig-Veda, viii. 58, 15.
  50. Rig-Veda, x. 73, 10.
  51. Rig-Veda, x. 101, 12. For Sayana, see Mr. Perry's Essay, Journal A. O. S., 1882, p. 130.
  52. Rig-Veda, x. 119.
  53. Rig-Veda, x. 139, 4; iii. 39, 5; viii. 85, 7.
  54. Brinton, Myths of New World, pp. 184–185. See also Chapter I.
  55. Perry, op. cit., p. 137; Rig-Veda, v. 29, 3, 7; iii. 43, 7; iv, 18, 11; viii. 85, 7.
  56. Rig-Veda, i. 32, 14, tells of a flight as headlong as that of Apollo after killing the Python. Mr. Perry explains the flight as the rapid journey of the thunderstorm.
  57. Sacred Books of the East, vol. iv. p. lxxxviii.
  58. The etymology of Vritra is usually derived from vri, to "cover," "hinder," "restrain," then "what is to be hindered," then "enemy," "fiend."
  59. Zoological Mythology, ii. 182.
  60. Compare Rig-Veda, iv. 271.
  61. Zool. Myth., i. 414.
  62. ii. 81.
  63. Rig-Veda, i. 51, 13.
  64. Rig-Veda, viii. 2, 40.
  65. Rig-Veda, iii. 48, 4.
  66. Rig-Veda, iii, 53, 4–6; vii. 18, 2.
  67. Rig-Veda, x. 86.
  68. Rig-Veda, x. 116.
  69. As to the true nature and home of the soma plant, see a discussion in the Academy, 1885.
  70. Muir, v. 263.
  71. Rig-Veda, vi. 44, 23.
  72. Rig-Veda, vi. 44, 24.
  73. Rig-Veda, viii. 48, 9.
  74. Bergaigne, i. 216. To me it seems that the Rishis when hymning Soma simply gave him all the predicates of God that came into their heads. Cf. Bergaigne, i. 223.
  75. Rig-Veda, i. 48.
  76. Rig-Veda, i. 48, 4.
  77. Rig-Veda, i. 48, 10.
  78. Rig-Veda, iv. 30, 8; Ait. Br., iv. 9.
  79. Max Müller, Lectures on Language, ii. 536.
  80. Yaska in the Nirukta, xii. i. See Muir, v. 234.
  81. Rig-Veda, i. 119, 2; i. 119, 5; x. 39, 11 (?).
  82. Muir, v. 238.
  83. Rig-Veda, x. 61, 4.
  84. Rig-Veda, x. 17, 1–2; Bergaigne, ii. 306, 318.
  85. Pausanias, viii. 25; Virgil, Georgics, iii. 91; Muir, v. 128. See chapter on "Greek Divine Myths," Demeter.
  86. Muir, v. 228.
  87. Theoc., Idyll, xxii. i. 17.
  88. Rig-Veda, i. 116, 16.
  89. Rig-Veda, i. 116, 7.
  90. Bergaigne, Rel. Ved., ii. 460, 465.
  91. Max Müller, Lectures on Language, ii. 530.
  92. Muir, v. 224, 233.
  93. Muir, v. 147.
  94. Bent's Cyclades.
  95. Rig-Veda, vii. 75, 5.
  96. Muir, v. 155–162.
  97. Bergaigne, ii. 486.
  98. xiii. 3, 5, 1.
  99. The very strange and important personage of Prajapati is discussed in the chapter on "Indian Cosmogonic Myths." The important god Agni would find his place in "Myths of Fire."
  100. In the chapters on India the translation of the Veda used is Herr Ludwig's (Prag, 1876). Much is owed to Mr. Perry's essay on Indra, quoted above.