Publisher : Library of Alexandria
Release : 1882
ISBN : 1465535683
File Size : 36,6 Mb
Language : En, Es, Fr and De
Hindu Mythology Vedic and Puranic Book PDF/Epub Download
BEFORE speaking of the Vedic Deities, it is necessary that something be said concerning the Vedas themselves, the source of our information concerning them. The root of the word is vid, “to know;” hence the term Veda signifies knowledge; and as these books were not written for centuries after they were originally composed, it signifies knowledge that was heard, or orally communicated. The Vedas are not the work of a single person, but, according to popular belief, were communicated to a number of Rishis or saints, who in their turn transmitted them to their disciples. The Seer Vyasa is styled the arranger, or, as we should now say, the editor, of these works. The instruction contained in these writings is said to have been breathed forth by God Himself. Other writers teach that it issued from Him like smoke from fire. Sometimes the Vedas are said to have sprung from the elements. The accounts of their origin, though differing in form, agree in teaching that they were the direct gift of God to man; and hence they are regarded with the greatest veneration. They are the special property of the Brahmans. As early as Manu, the nominal author or compiler of a law book probably not more than two or three centuries later than the Vedas, though some suppose it to have been no earlier than A.D. 500, it was regarded as a grave offence for a single word of these divinely given books to be heard by a man of a lower caste. The Vedas are four in number; of these the Rig-Veda is the oldest, next in order was the Yajur-Veda, then the Sama-Veda, and last of all the Atharva-Veda. Each of these Vedas consists of two main parts: a Sanhita, or collection of mantras or hymns; and a Brahmana, containing ritualistic precept and illustration, which stands in somewhat the same relation to the Sanhita as the Talmud to the Law. In these are found instructions to the priests who conduct the worship of the gods addressed in. the hymns. Attached to each Brahmana is an Upanishad, containing secret or mystical doctrine. These are regarded as of lesser authority than the Mantras and Brahmanas. For whilst they are spoken of as Sruti, i.e. heard, the Upanishads are Smriti, learned. Though based on the older compositions, if there is any discrepancy between them, the teaching of the later ones is rejected. The Sanhita and Brahmana are for the Brahmans generally; the Upanishads for philosophical inquirers. Yet, strange to say, whereas the older portions had, until recent years, been almost entirely neglected, with some parts of the Upanishads there was considerable acquaintance amongst the learned pundits of Benares and other places. In many parts of India not a man could be found able to read and interpret them. Of the Sanhitas, the “Rig-Veda Sanhita—containing one thousand and seventeen hymns—is by far the most important; whilst the Atharva-Veda-Sanhita, though generally held to be the most recent, is perhaps the most interesting. Moreover, these are the only two Vedic hymn-books worthy of being called separate original collections;” the others being almost entirely made up of extracts from the Rig-Veda. Between the time of the composition of the Rig-Veda and that of the Atharva, considerable changes in the religious faith of the people had come about. The childlike trust of the earlier hymns has disappeared, and the deities now seem more cruel, and there is greater need of propitiatory offerings. Probably the old religion of the people whom they had conquered had begun to tell on that of the Aryans.