Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/120

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her swimming in a lotus lake with other Apsarases in the form of an aquatic bird. Urvaçī discovers herself to him, and in response to his entreaties, consents to return for once after the lapse of a year. This myth in the post-Vedic age furnished the theme of Kālidāsa's play Vikramorvaçī.

Gandharva appears to have been conceived originally as a single being. For in the Rigveda the name nearly always occurs in the singular, and in the Avesta, where it is found a few times in the form of Gandarewa, only in the singular. According to the Rigveda, this genius, the lover of the water-nymph, dwells in the fathomless spaces of air, and stands erect on the vault of heaven. He is also a guardian of the celestial soma, and is sometimes, as in the Avesta, connected with the waters. In the later Vedas the Gandharvas form a class, their association with the Apsarases being so frequent as to amount to a stereotyped phrase. In the post-Vedic age they have become celestial singers, and the notion of their home being in the realm of air survives in the expression "City of the Gandharvas" as one of the Sanskrit names for "mirage."

Among the numerous ancient priests and heroes of the Rigveda the most important is Manu, the first sacrificer and the ancestor of the human race. The poets refer to him as "our father," and speak of sacrificers as "the people of Manu." The Çatapatha Brāhmaṇa makes Manu play the part of a Noah in the history of human descent.

A group of ancient priests are the Angirases, who are closely associated with Indra in the myth of the capture of the cows. Another ancient race of mythical priests are the Bhṛigus, to whom the Indian Prometheus, Mātariçvan,