Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/241

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special and peculiar development, the fruit of many ages of thought? Now it is an unfortunate thing that scholars have constantly, and as it were involuntarily, drifted into the error of regarding the Vedas as if they were "primitive," as if they exhibited to us the "germs" and "genesis" of religion and mythology, as if they contained the simple though strange utterances of primitive thought.[1] Thus Mr. Whitney declares, in his Oriental and Linguistic Studies, "that the Vedas exhibit to us the very earliest germs of the Hindu culture." Mr. Max Müller avers that "no country can be compared to India as offering opportunities for a real study of the genesis and growth of religion."[2] Yet the same scholar observes that "even the earliest specimens of Vedic poetry belong to the modern history of the race, and that the early period of the historical growth of religion had passed away before the Rishis (bards) could have worshipped their Devas or bright beings with sacred hymns and invocations." Though this is manifestly true, the sacred hymns and invocations of the Rishis are constantly used as testimony bearing on the beginning of the historical growth of religion. Nay, more; these remains of "the modern history of the race" are supposed to exhibit mythology in the process of making, as if the race had possessed no mythology before it reached a comparatively modern period, the Vedic age. In the same spirit, Dr. Muir, the learned editor of Sanskrit Texts, speaks in one place as if the Vedic hymns

  1. Max Müller, Rig-Veda Sanhita, p. vii.
  2. Hibbert Lectures, p. 131.