Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/242

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"illustrated the natural workings of the human mind in the period of its infancy."[1] A brief examination of the social and political and religious condition of man, as described by the poets of the Vedas, will prove that his infancy had long been left behind him when the first Vedic hymns were chanted.

As Barth observes, the very ideas which permeate the Veda, the idea of the mystic efficacy of sacrifice, of brahma, prove that the poems are profoundly sacerdotal; and this should have given pause to the writers who have persisted in representing the hymns as the work of primitive shepherds praising their gods as they feed their flocks.[2] In the Vedic age the ranks of society are already at least as clearly defined as in Homeric Greece. "We men," says a poet of the Rig-Veda,[3] "have all our different imaginations and designs. The carpenter seeks something that is broken, the doctor a patient, the priest some one who will offer libations. . . . . The artisan continually seeks after a man with plenty of gold. . . . . I am a poet, my father is a doctor, and my mother is a grinder of corn." Chariots and the art of the chariot-builder are as frequently spoken of as in the Iliad. Spears, swords, axes, and coats of mail were in common use. The art of boat-building or of ship-building was well known. Kine

  1. Nothing can prove more absolutely and more briefly the late character of Vedic faith than the fact that the faith had already to be defended against the attacks of sceptics. The impious denied the existence of Indra because he was invisible. Rig-Veda, ii. 12, 5; viii. 89, 3; v. 30, 1–2; vi. 27, 3. Bergaigne, ii. 167. "Es gibt keinen Indra, so hat der eine und der andere gesagt" (Ludwig's version).
  2. Les Religions de l'Inde, p. 27.
  3. ix. 112.