Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 42.djvu/77

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


��after they have been stripped of certain adaptive modifica- tions, imparted to them to meet the immediate purpose of the Atharvavedin. Not infrequently a stanza has to be rendered in some measure of harmony with its connection, when, in fact, a more original meaning, not at all applicable to its present environment, is but scantily covered up by the secondary modifications of the text. This garbled tradition of the ancient texts partakes of the character of popular etymology in the course of the transmission of words. New meaning is read into the mantras, and any little stubbornness on their part is met with modifications of their wording. The critic encounters here a very difficult situation : searching investigation of the remaining Vedic collections is necessary before a bridge can be built from the more original meaning to the meaning implied and required by the situation in a given Atharvan hymn. Need- less to say the only correct and useful way to translate a mantra in the Atharvan, is to reproduce it with the bent which it has received in the Atharvan. The other Vedic collections are by no means free from the same taint. The entire Vedic tradition, the Rig-veda not excepted, presents rather the conclusion than the beginning of a long period of literary activity. Conventionality of subject-matter, style, form (metre), &c., betray themselves at every step : the ' earliest ' books of the RV. are not exempt from the same processes of secondary grouping and adaptation of their mantras, though these are less frequent and less obvious than is the case in the Atharva-veda.

Obligations to previous translators : Weber, Muir, Ludwig, Zimmer, Grill \ Henry, &c., are acknowledged in the intro- duction to each hymn. I regret that the work was in the hands of the printer prior to the appearance of Professor Henry's excellent version of books X-Xll^. The late lamented Professor Whitney kindly furnished me with the

��1 Grill's work, entitled, Hundeit Lieder des Atharva-veda, second edition (1888), is cited as ' Grill I' My own six series of Contributions to the Interpre- tation of the Veda, are cited for the sake of brevity as ' Contributions.'

2 Les livres X, XI, et XII de 1' Atharva-veda. Paris, 1896.

�� �