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Original Sanskrit texts on the origin and history of the people of India, their religion and institutions (Volume 2) online

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thinks "the oldest hymns and saqrificial formulas may be a few
hundred years more ancient still, so that vre would fix the very com-
mencement of Vedic literature between 2400 and 2000." Ait. Br. i.
47, f. The entire Vedic period would thus be a thousand years, which
however, is, perhaps, too large an estimate.

(d) The reasons here assigned in explanation of the non-occurrence



in the hymns of other references to the castes, supposing them to have
then existed, and to have home the same names as afterwards, seem
scarcely sufficient. The hymns do not appear to he so exclusively
sacrificial in their character as is here assumed ; and might in many
passages have admitted of allusions to the existence of castes.

(e) The observations already made upon Professor Kern's Dissertation
are applicable here.

(/) In reference to these remarks, see {he first volume of this work,
p. 265, ff. Prof. Kern, in his Dissertation, p. 18, cites a passage from
the Hahabharata, xiii. 2505, ff., in regard to the intermarriages of Brah-
mans with the other two next classes, one verse of which (2515) is to the
'following effect : Abrahmanam tu manyante S'udrd-putram anaipundt \
trishu varneshu jdto hi brdhmandd brdhmano bhavet \ "They regard
from' want of skill as not a Brahman the son of a S'udra woman [by a
Brahman father]. A son begotten by a Brahman in the three castes
[i.e. on a woman of either of the upper three classes] will be a Brah-
man." And Manu says, iii. 13, S'udraiva Ihdryd S'udrasya sd cha
svd cha visah smrite \ te cha svd chaiva rdjnas cha ids cha svd^h' dgrq-
janmanah\ "A S'udra female only can be the wife of a S'udra. She
and a woman of his own caste may be the wives of a Vis, i.e. Vaisya.
These two and a woman of his own caste may be the wives of a
Rajan, i.e. E-ajanya ; these throe and a woman of his own caste may
be the wives of a Brahman." From these texts it would appear
that purity of caste biood was not much regarded among the Hindus
in early ages.

NOTE G.Page 258.


" The conformities [between the languages of the same family] are
astonishing ; and especially so, because they enter intd the minutest
details, and even into the anomalies. It is a curious phenomenon to
discover such an inconceivable tenacity in idioms which might appear
to be nothing more than p&ssing caprices. The most volatile portion
of languages, I mean their pronunciation, has evinced its stability : in
the midst of mutations of letters, which are, nevertheless, subject to
certain rules, vowels, long or short, have often preserved their quan-
tity." "On the other hand, the disparity is great: the distances which


the languages have traversed in their individual development are
immense. After we have exhausted all the analogies, even the most
secret, there remains in each of these languages a portion which is
no longer susceptible of comparison with the other languages of the
same family. "We must therefore admit as the causes of that partial
iucommensurableness, two opposite principles, viz., oblivion and in-
vention. The oblivion of forms and words formerly in use is but too
manifest in the languages with whose history we are most intimately
acquainted ; and it has frequently injured their richness and beauty.
Such oblivion must always follow a retrograde movement in civili-
zation : in proportion as the intellectual sphere is contracted, a gene-
ration which has relapsed into ignorance and barbarism, abandons
expressions which have now become superfluous. And as regards
invention, I find no difficulty in that either, since in order to' com-
prehend the absolute origin of language, we have no choice between
having recourse to a miracle, and conceding to mankind an in-
stinctive power of inventing language." A. W. von Schlegel, de
l'origine> des Hindous, Essais ; and in the Transactions of the Royal
Society of Literature of the United Kingdom, vol. ii. p. 433.

NOTE D.-^age 277.

Mr. Geldart argues the question both from a negative and a positive
point of view. Under the first head, he remarks that "language is
too uncertain an ethnological test to be of any practical value," and
instances the complete discrepancy which exists between the races and
the languages of -the British Isles. Cumberland and Cornwall, for
example, in^language agree with London and disagree with Wales,
while as to race, it is directly the reverse." The same thing is shown,
he observes, "by many similar examples: the accumulative evidence
of all amounted to this, that since in so many cases where the ethno-
logical indications of language can be compared with the actual testi-
mony of history, the latter completely Contradicts the former," a
common language is " not even prima facie evidence in favour of a
common lineage." " Secondly, in a positive point of view, it was
shown that in all the instances above cited, there had taken place
between the races a close assimilation of (1) political, (2) religious, (3)



intellectual, or (4) general social relations, or of any, or of all of these
combined; and it was suggested that it is such an assimilation, and
not unity of race, that unity of language rightly typifies."

" The sum of the whole was, that it is not safe to infer from
affinity between the language of two nations more than this, that there
was a time when there existed between them civil, religious, or some
sort of social relations. Language was the product and token of a
nation's political, moral, or intellectual, but not of its physical con-
stitution. It would not reveal a people's genealogy, but its mental
and social history.

" Should it ever be proved that all languages were derived from one
original, the sole valid inference would be, that at some time one
sovereign race had imposed upon all the rest its own political or social
institutions, while the great question of the number of races would
remain just where it stood."

NOTE D*.rage 287.

" Strabo tells us that the tribes of the Persians, Medes^ Bactrians,
and Sogdians, spoke nearly the same language. We can have no
difficulty in supposing that this similarity of speech which existed in
Strabo's age, existed also in earli^p times. The old Iranian dialects,
of which the monuments have been still preserved to us, justify this
assumption. Of these there are four, (1) the speech of the earlier
Acha?menida3, (2) that of the later Achaemenidse, (3) the dialect of
the Gathas, 8 (4) the old Bactrian, the ordinary language of the
Avesta. The last two dialects might perhaps also be embraced
under the designation of Avestic. The first two of these dialects
belong to western, the last two to eastern, Iran." Spiegel, in Kuhn
and Schleicher's Beitrage zur Yergl. Sprachf. ii. 6. I must refer to
the original paper for further .details regarding these dialects. I will
only quote one or two remarks. In his account of the old Persian or
earlier Achsemenidan dialect, Spiegel observes (p. 7), that, "we find
in it all the classes of the Sanskrit alphabet represented, excepting
the cerebrals, which have a purely local origin." (See above, p. 440,

8 [It is scarcely necessary to say that this has no connexion with, the Indian
Gatha dialect, described above, pp. 115, ff. J.M.]


note.) At p. 13, he remarks: "We have pointed out in the entire
grammar of the old Persian so much that is identical with the
Sanskrit, that it may now be time to notice the differences which
stamp it as a distinct language from the old Indian. Not a few such
peculiarities are to be found in all the departments of grammar.
In a phonetic aspect, there is this important deviation that the old
Persian has the letter 2, which is unknown to the Sanskrit, and
that it, like the Greek, changes the Indian s into A." - (See above,
pp. 313, and 315).

NOTE ~&.Page 296.

Rigveda ix. 113, 7-11. Yatra jyotir ajasram yasmin loke svar
kitato, | Tasmin mam dhehi pavamdna amrite loke akshite \ Yatra
raja Vaivasvato yatrdvarodhanam divah \ Yatrdmur yahvatlr dpa$ tatra
mdm amritam Tcridhi \ Yatrdnuhdmam charanam trindke tridive divah \
Lokdh yatra jyotishmantas tatra mdm, etc. | Yatra Jcdmdh nikdmdscha
yatra bradhnasya vishtapam \ Svadhd cha yatra triptischa tatra mdm,
etc. | Yatrdnanddscha moddscha mudah pramuda usate \ Kdmasya
yatrdptdh hdmds tatra mdm, etc. | "Place me, purified (Soma), in
that undecaying unchanging region, where perpetual light and glory
abide. Make me immortal in the world where king Yaivasvata
(Yama) reigns, where the sanctflary of the sky is, and those great
waters are. Make me immortal in the third heaven, where action is
at pleasure, where the shining regions exist., Make me immortal in
the world where all enjoyments abide, in the realm of the sun, where
celestial food and satisfaction are found. Make me immortal iu the
world where there are manifold pleasures and joys, and where the
objects of desire are attained." Benfey, Gloss, to Samaveda, under
the word riiKuma, renders svadhd and triptih by "nectar and ambrosia."
See the fifth vol. of this work, pp. 284, ff.

NOTE Y.Page 297.

I shall here translate or abstract the rjost important parts of Dr.
"Windischmann's Dissertation, " On the Soma-worship of the Arians."
Dr. "Windischmann begins with the following remarks : " If we advert
to the striking contrast which exists between the doctrine of Zara-
thustra arid the Brahmanical system, and to the fact that the former


must be looked on as the work of a reformer seeking to preserve the
old nature-worship from the mythological transformations with which
it was threatened, it must appear as a matter of the greater im-
portance to throw light upon those points in which the two religions
agree. For as regards those conceptions which existed before the two
systems had developed their opposing principles, we may reasonably
assume that they were possessed in common long before the separation
of t\e Arias race into the Indian and Iranian branches, that they
formed part of the (already existing, and distinguishable) religions of
the Zendavesta and the Yeda, and that they had been inherited from
the most primitive tradition. Such traditions are, indeed, compara-
tively few ; but the concurrence of those which have been preserved,
is so much the more striking ; as, for example, Lassen (Ind. A^t. i.
517) has shown in regard to the Iranian legend of king Yima, son of
Vivanghat, who corresponds to the Indian Yama, son of Vivasvat.
Yima, however, is regarded by the Medo-Persians as the first king,
lawgiver, and founder of the Iranian worship, while Yama is looked
on by the Brahmans as lord of Hades (R.V. i. 35, 6), and judge of the
dead, and it is his brother Manu who plays the same part as 'Yima."
[See, however, p. 296, above.] "But by far the most remarkable
analogy is that which exists between the Haoma of the Zendavesta and
the Soma of the most ancient Brahnlanical books, an analogy which is
not confined to some few features of the legend, but extends to the
entire Soma- worship of t^e early Arian race.

"Haoma and Soma are names etymologically identical. Both come
from .the root su, in Zend hu, which signifies, ' to beget,' and also, but
especially in the Yedic dialect, to ' drop,' or ' to press out juice.' In
later Indian mythology Soma means the moon and its deity : but in
the Zendavesta and the Vedas it signifies a celebrated pTant, and its
juice. This is the asclepias acida, or sarcostema vimin,alis, the ex-
pressed juice of which produces a peculiarly astringent, narcotic, and
intoxicating effect. The plant, 9 plucked up by the roots, is collected
by moonlight on the mountains ; stripped of its leaves ; carried on a
car drawn by two goats to the place of sacrifice (where a spot covered
with grass and twigs is prepared) ; crushed between stones by the

9 Compare Stevenson's Translation of the Samaveda, p. iv. This work is re-
peatedly referred to in the sequel.


priests; and is then thrown, stalks as well as juice (sprinkled with
water) into a sieve, whence, after the whole has been further pressed
by the hand of the Brahmans, the juice trickles into a vessel (called
drona) which is placed beneath. The fluid is then mixed with clari-
fied butter, wheaten and other flour, and brought into a state of
fermentation; it is then offered thrice a day, and partaken of by
the Brahmans. The Samaveda is almost entirely made up of songs to
accompany this ceremony ; aid the Bigveda, too, contains numerous
passages which have reference to it. It was unquestionably- the
greatest and the holiest offering of the ancient Indian worship. The
sound of the trickling juice is regarded as a sacred hymn. The gods
drink the offered beverage ; they long for it (as it does for them) ; they '
are nourished by it, and thrown into a joyous intoxication : this is
the case with Indra (who performs his great deeds under its influence),
with the Asvins, the Maruts, and Agni. The beverage is divine, it
purifies, it inspires greater joy than alcohol, it intoxicates S'akra, it is
a water of life, protects and nourishes, gives health and immortality,
prepares the way to heaven, destroys enemies, etc. The Samaveda
distinguishes two kinds of Soma, the green and the yellow : but it is
its golden colour which is for the most part celebrated.

" If we compare all this with what the Persians say of the Haoma
plant, we find the most surprising agreement. Haoma is the first of
the trees, planted by Ahura Mazda in the fountain of life. He who
drinks of its juice never dies. According Ao the Bundehesh, the
Gogard or Gokeren tree bears the Haoma, which gives health and
generative power, and imparts life at 'the resurrection. The Haoma
plant does not decay, bears no fruit, resembles the vine, is knotty, and
has leaves like jessamine ; it is yellow and white. Its juice is prepared
and offered with sacred rites, and is called Parahaoma. Thus in
Yasna, iii. 5, it is said haomencha para-haomencha ayese, ' I reverence
the Haoma and the Para-haoma.'

" The fact that the Magians offered up a plant was known to
Plutarch, 10 but what this plant was is not .pertain The plant

10 The paragraph in which this information is found (of which Windischmann
cites only a few words) is as follows :

Plutarch de Isid. et Osir. 46. 'Nofj.i^ovffi yap ol fj.fi> Geovs fivai 5vo Ka.Qa.Trep aifTtre-
)(vovs, rbv fj.f% ayaQaiv, "rbv 8e <pav\ooi' Sr)/j.iovpy6v ol tie rbv fj.ev a.fj.eii'oi'a fleby, rbf 8e
ertpov SaipoiHi, Ka.\<jvffLv Sxrirfp Zwptaffrpis 6 /uayos, t>v TrepTaKKTX'Afojs ereen ruv


seems to have changed with the locality ; and the soma-plant of the
Indians does not appear to be the same as the haoma of the Persians ;
at least the latter affirm .that their sacrificial plant does not grow in
India. Ahura Mazda causes the white haoma to grow among the

numerous kinds of trees A constant appellation of the haoma

is the gold-coloured (zairigaono\ just as in the Yeda.

"But these are not the only points of resemblance between the
Soma worship of the Indians and Persians. There is one other very
important particular in which they both agree. In the Yedas, Soma
is not merely a sacred sacrificial beverage, but also a god. This is
proved by numerous passages of the Veda (Stevenson, p. 98) ; and in
"particular by the splendid hymn to Soma, Rigveda, i. 91. Precisely
in the same manner, Haoma is, in the Zendavesta, not a plant only,
but also a powerful deity ; and in both works the conceptions of the
god and the sacred juice blend wonderfully with each other. The
most important passages regarding this personified Haoma are to be
found in the 9th and 10th sections of the Yasna, which are explained
by striking analogies in the hymn of the Veda just referred to. The

TptaiKcav yeyovevai irpeafivrepov Iffropovcnf. Ovros ovi> eKa\et rbv nev 'fi,po/j.di)v,
rbv Se 'Apeifjidviov Kal irpoffairetpaivero rbv /j.ev toiKfvat (pearl fj.d\urra r&v alffOrjruv,
rbv Se e/j.ira\iv <rK6r<? ical ayvoia- fiecrov 8e a/jupoiv rbv MtOpriv elvar Sib ical MlBpyv
Tlepcrai rbv u-eairriv bvofM^ovaiv e8i8ae fiev rep evKraia 6veiv Kal xapicrT^pia, rep Se
airorpoiraia Kal ffKvBpaird, fl6av ydp TWO, Koirrovres o/uayu Ka\ov^.evrjv ev '6\fj.cf, rbv
"ASrjv avaKa\ovvTai Kal rbv ffK6rov elra jUiaj/Tej dlfuvri \VKOV <r<f>a,yfVTos, els T&irov
a.vi\Xiov eiKpepovcri Kal piirrovai. Kal yap rSiv (pvruv vofi.iov(ri ra per rov ayaBov
Oeov, ra Se rov KO.KOV Saifiovos elvaf Kal rcav ci>cav, Sxnrep Kvvas Kal opvtOas Kal
%*pffa(ovs ex'wovs, rov ayaQov rov Se (pav\ov rovs evvSpovs elvai, Sib Kal rbv
Kreivavra irXelerrovs evSaiu.oviov<n. 4

" For some think that there are two gods, as it were opposed in their functions,
the one the framer of good objects, the other of bad. Some call the more excellent
being God, and the other Demon ; as Zoroaster, the Magian, who is related to have
lived 5000 years before the Trojan war. He called the one Oromazes, the other
Arimanius, and declared that the former resembled light most of all sensible things,
and the latter darkness and ignorance. He also said that Mithras was intermediate
between them. This is the reason why the Persians call Mithras the mediator. He
taught them to sacrifice votive and thank-offerings to the one (Oromazes), and to the
other gloomy oblations to avert his wrath. For after pounding a certain herb called
omoini in a mortar, they invoke' Pluto and darkness ; and when they have mixed it
with the blood of a slaughtered wolf, they carry it to a sunless spot and cast it away.
For they also regard certain plants as belonging to the good deity, and others to the
evil demon ; and some animals, as dogs, and birds, and hedgehogs, to the former
(and others as) sea-urchins, to the latter j and they felicitate those who have killed
the greatest number of these last."


9th section begins thus : ' In early morning Haoma came to Zarathus-
tra, who was consecrating his sacred fire, and repeating prayers. Zara-
thustra asked him, " What man art thou, wkom I see to be the most
excellent in the whole existing world on account of his immortal life?"
Hereupon Haoma, the pure, the remover of sickness, answered me,
" I am, Zarathustra, the pure, the remover of sickness. Invoke me,
holy man, pour me forth to drink, celebrate me with praise, as formerly
the holy men used to do." "Then Zarathustra said, " Reverence, to
Haoma." ' n Haoma is here called ' remover of heat, or sickness,' %nd
in the same way Soma is said in Bigveda, i. 91, 12, to be amlvaha,
' the destroyer of suffering.' This passage of the Yasna clearly shows'
how, as I have before mentioned, the separate ideas of the god and of
the juice are blended. Haoma desires that he himself shall he pre-
pared for sacrifice.

" This passage is followed by a specification of the four original
worshippers of Haoma. The first was Vivanhat, who prepared the
celestial beverage hunuta, and in consequence obtained a blessing, and
the fulfilment of his wish that a son should be born to him. This was
Ring Yim'a, the most glorious of men, in whose realm men and animals
never died, water and trees never dried up, food was superabundant,
and cold, heat, disease, death, and devilish envy were unknown.

" What has before been said of Yima shows the importance of this
passage. The worship of Haoma is placed anterior to Yima, i.e. to the
commencement of Iranian civilization ; and i^ fact is declared to be
the cause of that happy period. The Eigveda also refers to this high
antiquity of the Soma worship, when 1 (i. 91, 1) it says of Soma:
' By thy guidance, brilliant (Soma), our courageous fathers have
obtained treasures among the gods.' Like Yivanhat, the next wor-
shippers of Eobma, viz., Athwya and Samanam Sevishta, also obtained

11 Compare Spiegel's translation of the same passage, and its continuation, Avesta,
ii. 68, ff. In note 4 he remarks : " Haoma, like various other deities of the Avesta,
is regarded as at once a personal god, and as the thing on account of which this god
was imagined. Haoma is at once a Yazata and a drink. The original identity
of the Indian Soma with the Haoma of the Avesja has been excellently shown in
F. "Windischmann's dissertation. Among both nations the healing power of the
Haoma is prominently noticed, but among the Parsis it is particularly the white
Haoma which imparts immortality. The Indian plant is the asclepias acida ; the
Persian is not determined. Both nations notice that the plant grew on mountains,
and originally, at least, it must have been the same plant which both employed."

VOL. II. 31


offspring, Thraetaono and sons who destroyed the Ahrimanian
monster. The heroic age of the conflict of light is thus referred back
to Haoma, whilst in the Rigveda (i. 91, 8), Soma is invoked to
' deliver from destruction, to suffer none of his friends to perish ;' and
(in verse 15) to protect from incantations and from sin; and in the
Samaveda (Stevenson, p. 259) he is said to drive away the Rakshasas.
"It is interesting to remark, that while Thraetaono is said here to
have been bestowed by Haoma, the Samaveda names a Rishi Trita as

an' offerer of Soma.

" The fourth worshipper of Haoma is Pourusaspa, the father of Zara-
thustra: his reward was the birth of this illustrious son, the promulgator
of the anti-demonic doctrine. Here also the ancient legend confirms
the priority of the Haoma worship to the Zoroastrian reformation.

" When Zarathustra has thus learnt that he owes his own existence
to Haoma, he celebrates his praises : and the epithets which he here
applies to the god agree in a remarkable way with those of the Yeda.
Some of these parallel epithets are hvaresa, Zend, = svarshu, Sanskrit
(R.V. i. 91, 21), 'giving heaven;' verethrajao, Zend.,=vntraha, Sanskrit
(R.V. i. 91, 5), ' destroyer of enemies ;' hukhratus, Zend, =* sukratu'u,
Sanskrit (R.V. i. 91, 2), ' offering good sacrifices,' or ' wise,' or ' strong.'
The blessings supplicated by Zarathustra from Haoma also agree in
many points with those which the Vedic poet asks from Soma."

It is not necessary, however, to pursue the subject farther. I refer
the reader, who wishes further details of this sort, to Dr. Windisch-
mann's dissertation itself.

I copy the following remarks on the Soma worship from Mr. Whit-
ney's "Main Results of the later Vedic Researches in Germany"
(Journal of the Amer. Orient. Society, iii. 299, 300). The " hymns,
one hundred and fourteen in number [of the 9th book ofhe Rigveda],
are, without exception, addressed to the Soma, and being intended to
be sung while that drink was expressed from the plant that afforded it,
and was clarified, are called pdvamanyas, ( purificational.' .... The
word soma means simply ' extract ' (from the root su, to express,
extract), and is the name of a beverage prepared from a certain herb,
the asclepias acida, which grows abundantly upon the mountains of
India and Persia. This plant, which by its name should be akin to
our common milk-weed, furnishes, like the latter, an abundant milky



juice, which, when fermented, possesses intoxicating qualities. In
this circumstance, it is believed, lies the explanation of the whole
matter. The simple-minded Arian people, whose whole religion was
a worship of the wonderful powers and phenomena of nature, had no
sooner perceived that this liquid had power to elevate the spirits, and
produce a temporary phrenzy, under the influence of which the in-
dividual was prompted to, and capable of, deeds beyond his natural
powers, than they found in it. something divine ; it was, to their appre-
hension, a god, endowing those into whom it entered with gocj-like
powers ; the plant which afforded it became to them the king of plants ;
the process of preparing it was a holy sacrifice ; the instruments used
therefor were sacred. The high antiquity of this cultus is attested by,
the references to it found occurring in the Persian Avesta ; it seems,
however, to have received a new impulse on Indian territory, as the
pavamanya hymns of the Veda exhibit it in a truly remarkable state
of development. Soma is there addressed as a god in the highest
strains of adulation and veneration; all powers belong to him; all
blessings are besought of him, as his to bestow. And not only do such

Online LibraryJ. (John) MuirOriginal Sanskrit texts on the origin and history of the people of India, their religion and institutions (Volume 2) → online text (page 52 of 56)