Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/130

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With reference to them the deceased man is thus addressed in one of the funeral hymns (x. 14):—

Run on thy path straight forward past the two dogs,
The sons of Saramā, four-eyed and brindled,
Draw near thereafter to the bounteous fathers,
Who revel on in company with Yama.
Broad-nosed and brown, the messengers of Yama,
Greedy of lives, wander among the people:
May they give back to us a life auspicious
Here and to-day, that we may see the sunlight.

The name of Yama is sometimes used in the Rigveda in its primary sense of "twin," and the chief of the dead actually occurs in this character throughout a hymn (x. 10) of much poetic beauty, consisting of a dialogue between him and his sister Yamī. She endeavours to win his love, but he repels her advances with these words:—

The spies sent by the gods here ever wander,
They stand not still, nor close their eyes in slumber:
Another man thine arms shall clasp, O Yamī,
Tightly as twines around the tree the creeper.

The incestuous union which forms the main theme of the poem, though rejected as contrary to the higher ethical standard of the Rigveda, was doubtless the survival of an already existing myth of the descent of mankind from primeval "twins." This myth, indeed, seems to have been handed down from the Indo-Iranian period, for the later Avestan literature makes mention of Yimeh as a sister of Yima. Even the name of Yama's father goes back to that period, for Yima is the son of Vivanhvant in the Avesta as Yama is of Vivasvat in the Rigveda.

The great bulk of the Rigvedic poems comprises in-