Page:The Mythology of the Aryan Nations.djvu/185

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some hymns, however, the two lines of thought seem to be blended chap. strangely together; in other words, we see in them the process by : ' which men rose from the lower conception to the higher. That sense of sin, which, as distinguished from the transgression of a posi- tive law, can scarcely be said to have been present to the Greek mind, weighs heavy on the spirit of the Hindu, even while his con- ception of the Deity whom he addresses may be almost coarse in its familiarity. Varuna has received in the sacrifice the choice portions which please him most, and the worshipper may fairly demand that the question between them may be discussed reasonably as between friends.^ But whatever may be said of the theory of the nature of sin, a pure monotheistic conviction is pre-eminently seen in the following prayer. " Let me not yet, O Varuna, enter into the house of clay; have mercy, almighty, have mercy. " If I go along trembling like a cloud driven by the wind, have mercy, almighty, have mercy. " Through want of strength, thou strong and bright god, have I gone to the wrong shore : have mercy, almighty, have mercy. "Thirst came upon the worshipper, though he stood in the midst of the waters : have mercy, almighty, have mercy. " Whenever we men, O Varuna, commit an offence before the heavenly host, whenever we break thy law through thoughtlessness, have mercy, almighty, have mercy." ^ If the singular purity and unselfishness of the Hesiodic morality, Aryan mo- as compared with that of the poems to which we give the name of Homer, suffice of themselves to prove the essential distinction be- tween mythology and religion, these simple utterances of the Vedic poets show even more forcibly that the genuine belief in one almighty Being who is at once our Father, our Teacher, and our Judge, had its home first in the ancient Aryan land. It was a conviction to Avhich they were guided by all that they saw or could apprehend of outward phenomena as well as by the irrepressible yearnings which stirred their hearts. For such yearnings and for such a conscious- ness in the Hebrew tribes we look in vain, before the Babylonish captivity. Among them we have at best only the warnings of a few isolated teachers, who saw things hidden from other eyes, and whose words, although they sounded in the ears of their countrymen like ' Max Miiller, History of Sanskrit which runs through many of the Hebrew Literature, 537. It is scarcely necessary Psalms. to compare this language with the * Max Miiller, History of Sanskrit

similar tone of familiar expostulation Literature, 540.