صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

can we reconcile these words with any idea of human unaided intellect. We are forced to admit either that the Hindu possessed a divine revelation, or that the Brahminic philosophy of emanation arrived at the same result. Taken also from the Rig-Veda, the rendition of an English translator is as follows: "He who sees everything, but is never seen; he who is not to be compassed by description, and is beyond the limits of human conception; he from whom the universal world proceeds, who is the soul of the universe, whose name is too sacred to be pronounced, and whose power is too infinite to be imagined, is Brahm, the one unknown, true being, the creator, the preserver and destroyer of the universe."* This is unquestionably a picture of the true God. Nor has any Hebrew poet, however grand in his diction and inspired in his ideas, given a better.

The word too sacred for pronunciation was not Brahm, but Om. In the Parsi theogony, a mystic marriage takes place between Hom and Messies, and this is explained as the mystical union between the soul of man and the infinite God. + It will be remembered that the Hebrews had also a sacred name for the deity, which was never pronounced, and which, by an error of the translators, has been given as Jehovah, though it really was lao. # The points of connection between the Parsi, Hebrews and Hindu are here too strong to be ignored, and it is presumable that that small and scant people known as the Hebrews are only an offshoot of the great Bactrian Aryans, and did not receive exclusively any divine relation, but simply shared in that made to the · whole Aryan race.

We know that there was a dispersion of Aryans from Bactria by the Zend-avesta. Bunsen has very learnedly analyzed and compared this with the Vedas, and has come to the conclusion that there was a heresy among the Bactrian Aryans upon the subject of the supremacy of Indra, who is, accordingly, depicted in the Parsi writings as Aindra, an evil spirit of great potency and malignant disposition. The

* Col. Vans Kennedy, p. 83.
† Bunsen, Place of Egypt in the World's llistory.

| Idem.

great cleft between the Vedic language and the Sanskrit, in all probability was occasioned by this struggle. It may also be that there was an objection to the Brahmin caste, whose germ must, about this period, have just manifested itself, probably recommending itself to the people by great austerity of life and feigned piety. It is in this manner, according to the Puranas, or purely Brahmanic hymns, that the demons (Asuras) and all evil-disposed spirits deceived the good Brahma and the unsuspecting Vishnu, and won for themselves extraordinary powers as a reward, which they immediately put to the worst uses. Thus Maha Bali, a dwarf of immense pretension to piety, and possessing seven heads, approaches Brahma, with oblation, and cuts off, one after the other, six of his heads, whereupon Brahma, to reward such piety, promises him whatever he shall ask. He immediately demands the empire of heaven, earth, and hell, but is circumvented subsequently by Shiva, who approaches him in the guise of a pious Brahman.

From the hints offered by other historians, we may believe that the idea of an hereditary priesthood existed in Vedic times, that is, before the forced emigration of the Irans, the Pelasgi, and the Eirianns, or Irish. For we observe that the last mentioned had their Druids, and their bards seem identical with the Rishis of the Vedas. This word, translated author by Barthélémy St. Hilaire, is by others taken to mean prophet, or seer, and by some even is considered synonymous with saint. But if we remembər the union between poetry and prophecy in those remote ages, and that fasting and an austere life were then deemed essential conditions of inspiration, (as it was until almost recent times among the Gaels of the Scottish mountains,) we shall see that author, poet, prophet, and saint are all attributes of the one character.

There is, also, in the various names Danoi, Argureoi, Dorioi, given to the Hellenes, a trace of caste. We may interpret these as warriors, merchants, and priests, and not as tribes, the word Hellenes being derivable from Helios,

If, then, Hellenes means children of the sun, there is another strong link between them and the true Hindus,

the sun.

since both the warrior castes, the Rajpoots and the Bhattias of Cutch, claim to be “children of the sun.”

Even among the Hebrews there appears the same tendency to form caste, as exemplified in the Levitical priesthood. The laws of Moses, however, transformed these wandering tribes into an agricultural race, of which every member had an inalienable ownership in the soil. Whatever was purchased had to be returned at the general jubilee ; hence the temptation to buy or to sell was greatly diminished. This was an unique system, unknown to any other Aryan nation.

This tendency is not to be glanceil at without consideration. It was one of the great distinctions between the Aryan and the Turan races. It was, in fact, the germ of stratification. The Turans were, above all things, a mob. Between the people and the despot there was no gradation. The people obeyed blindly and implicitly, with an unswerving self-negation abhorrent to self-respect, and smacking strongly of fetichism.* But the Aryan government had in it, at all times, something of the patriarchal idea, out of which it sprang. The king was not a god, he was a father. He was in mauzo what the chief of the pettiest tribe was in parro. As the latter consulteil his old men, so the former took counsel from the chiefs of the tribes. And the father of a family was as the chief of a tribe. Thus it was among the Jews, thus among the Kelts, among the Germans, among the Persians, among the Vedic Hindus, and, to this day, among the Arabs. These, as well as the Jews, have long been accepted as Semitic, but the community of ideas, institutions, weapons, and religious traditions has proved too strong for that error, and both Bunsen and Ernest Renan agree in separating them from the Semite.

The Brahmans, when once they became firmly established as a priestcraft, gained for themselves extraordinary authority by the doctrines of metempsychosis and emanation. The former is the natural consequence of the latter, which teaches that there is nothing definite or actually existing, save in Brahm, (the essence,) and that all other things are

* A despot, in Greek, was called tvparros id est, a Turan.

maya, or illusion. All things proceed from him, neither is there anything in the universe that is not from him and will not return to him. Those things which, by their nature, are inconsistent with the godhead, such as sin, pain, &c., are not really, but only seem to be, through may, or illusion.*

The doctrine of metempsychosis is, that the divine spirit, emanating from Brahm, animates all living organisms, from men down to plants. The soul, quitting the body, wanders tirough an infinite series of existences, until, purified, it enters the body of a Brahman. There it is upon the threshold of beatitude, of which, according to one the Purans, there are four; cohabitation, dwelling in the same place with the go lhead; approximation, being permitted to draw near to his footstool; assimilation, becoming like unto him; absorption, highest of the beatitudes, being identified with the divine essence, as a drop of water returns to the mass of the mighty ocean.t

It is easy to observe the immense power such a doctrine must have given to the Brahmans, who were not slow to avail themselves of it. The Smriti, or Institutes of Manu, define clearly the rights and privileges of the priesthood, and, besides, emboly a vast number of myths, cosmogonical and theogonical, which yet bal for their main end the conforming and strengthening of the Brahminic power.

The division of caste is explained in this work, as arising from the creation of the world by Brahm. Vishnu, the preserving spirit, is represented as sleeping upon the serpent Shesha (eternity), that floats on the face of the waters ; a lotus springs from his navel, whence issues Bralıma, who produces the elements, forms the world, and gives birth to Shiva, the destroyer. He then produces the human race, the Brahmans from his head, the Kshatriyas, or warriors, from his arms, the Vaisyas, or merchants, from his thighs, and the Sudras, or laborers, from his feet.

But the inconsistency and chaotic condition of the Hindu records is nowhere better exemplified than in the accounts of the creation, of which there are many. In some Brahma is

* Col. Vans Kennedy, p. 24.

| Sir W. Jones' Works, vol. 3.

the creator, and gives birth to Vishnu; in others Shiva is the sole self-existent being, and the creator of all things. In others, again, Brahm, the divine essence, produces Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, and gives the work of creation to the first, of sustaining it to the second, and of destroying it, in the fulness of time. to the third. But what is remarkably singular, is, that it is impossible to point out any time when Brahma, the creator, was ever publicly worshipped. From the adoration of Indra, in the Vedic period, we come at once upon the worship of Vishnu, in the Sanskrit, which is somewrat stran 22, since the worship of Indra was the causa ir wun, sevique doloris, and the origin of the Aryan dispersion.

There is something sing ular in the ancient priesthoods of the Keltic races; there is a misty resemblance to the Brahminic, which requires consideration. Nay, more, it has been shrewilly suspected that among the Greeks, Danoi, Argives, and Dorians are not to be taken as distinct tribes, but as castes of warriors, merchants, and priests. If so, it might prove, on a careful comparison of Keltic records, that the emigration, of that early race was simultaneous ; in short, that all the Aryan emigrations were simultaneous and forced, the emigrants being the heretics who refused to accord supremacy to Indra.

But that Indra should have been forgotten after the half of the Aryan people had been expelled Bactria ốn his account, seems extraordinary; and can only be accounted for by the supposition that he was still worshipped under another name that of Vishnu. For the word Indra seems only a title, lord of Ind, and may have been abandoned after the conquest of Pankyala, by the Aryans. This province seems to have been the Punjaub, the land of the five rivers, which was bounded on the south by the river Sutlej. Heeren, in his account of the rock temples of Ellora, speaks of Indra as the specific god of the Hindus, the “Lord of Ind,' and Vishnu, conjointly with Shiva, as the gods of the univorse. But though this distinction may have been understood at the Avuote time even, when the excavations of Ellora were in progress, it is evidently not original, but an

« السابقةمتابعة »