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which extends to 144 pp. only, is well worth translating, and I trust this may be undertaken under the Society's auspices. It should prove interesting not only to the general student of Indian antiquity, but still more so to that enquiring class of Hindu youth, who, with as yet but imperfect appliances, and under incompetent guides, have been directing their attention, though but uncritically, to the earlier doctrines of their religion.
Dr. Roth appears to have spent some time at Paris, London and Oxford in the examination and study of the MSS. connected with his researches. The short treatises under review are only, it is to be hoped, the first fruits of his studies. In his dedication to Professor Wilson, and in his first treatise, he alludes to his intention to publish the Nirukta. He appears to have a further work in view, but speaks doubtingly of the prospects of its completion, in these words: "The labour, however, which I propose to myself as the compensating fruit of these exertions, an Archæology and Mythology of the Veda, is, for the present, rather a wish than a possibility."
Dr. Roth himself however is not the only new labourer whom we have to welcome to this field of exertion. In a note at p. 22, he mentions his friend Dr. C. Rieu of Geneva, as having under preparation an edition of the Aitareya Bráhmana. In p. 25 he mentions Dr. Trithen in London as engaged in the same studies. At page 4 allusion is made to an edition of the Sanhitá of the Sámaveda, promised by Dr. Theodore Benfey, who has already published an article on India in Ersch and Gruber's German Cyclopædia, which is referred to with indications of approbation by M. Burnouf, in his introduction à l'histoire du Buddhisme Indian, passim. Allusion is made by Dr. Roth at the close of his first lecture to the edition of the Rigveda which Professor Wilson has in preparation. It does not appear, however, when this important work is to be looked for.
I. THE HYMN COLLECTIONS.
Delivered at the meeting of Orientalists at Darmstadt, at the sitting of 2d October, 1845.
You have permitted me, Gentlemen, to speak on a branch of Indian literature which, if any can, asserts a claim to general interest, and the cultivation of which demands the union of various powers, but
which will at the same time yield the richest spoils,-the literature of the Veda. You will allow me, in order to make room in some measure for this extensive subject, to regard as known all which has hitherto been written or published on the Veda. Of this there is so little, and that little has been so much the subject of remark, that it is sufficiently known in all Oriental circles.
It has been the peculiar fate of the Veda that being at first veiled or magnified into the extravagant by Bráhmanical mystification and ostentation, the effects of which have not yet disappeared,-it presented a terrifying complication of writings, with which no one trusted himself to meddle. When H. T. Colebrooke had at length brought light into the darkness, still the importance of these books in part escaped him ; and Frederick Rosen, who formed a right estimate of it, and was the man to render the discovery fruitful, was only permitted to rear himself a beautiful monument, to make a commencement, which makes us the more severely miss the continuation, in proportion to the certainty that the latter would, through the writer's growing experience, have gained a perfect form. No other was willing to tread in his footsteps; and so Rosen's book, and Colebrooke's, in its way, excellent treatise, are still the only mines for our knowledge of the Veda. I can scarcely mention what has been done by the Missionary Stevenson for the Sáma Veda: for his edition of the text is less correct than any tolerable MS., and his translation is utterly useless.
Let me be permitted here to supply to Colebrooke's treatise those complements, which I have had the opportunity of drawing from an inspection of the MS. sources in Paris, London, and Oxford,-complements which will refer to the relation of the first Veda to the remaining collections of hymns, and to its Indian compilation, and which, —so far as our researches must be based upon indigenous preparatory labours also, could be communicated in no more fitting quarter than in a learned circle which has set itself for its task the investigation of the East. For according to my conviction no more essential service could be rendered to the history of the ancient east, perhaps to the whole of ancient history, than to make known and exactly investigate the Vedic writings.
The well-known definition of the difference between Mantra and Brahmana, which is found in all possible writings explanatory of the
Veda, and is amply handled in the Mimánsa, and according to which the Mantra is commonly metrical and an invocation, while the Bráhmana is mostly prose, and consists of practical religious precepts,this definition denotes also the fundamental division of the Vedic books. They sever themselves into collections of hymns, and liturgical works. That the former, not only in their origin but also in their collection, are more ancient than the latter, so long as no proofs appear to the contrary (and I have been able to find none) we may, I believe, regard as settled.
But among the five Vedic books which are called Sanhitá, there are only four hymn-collections. The fifth, the Taittiriya Sanhitá, which is regarded as a principal part of the Yujur Veda, is a liturgical book, which may occupy the same place in respect of this Veda, as the Aitireya Brahmana fills for the Rig Veda. (It is also called Taittiréya Brahmana).
Among these four collections of hymns that of the Rik has the most considerable compass; and may amount in all to near eleven thousand The Atharva hymns are nearly as numerous. The Vájasaneya Sanhitá (of the Yajur Veda) may amount to half the extent of the Atharva, and the Sáma Sanhitá to half the Vájasaneya. Hence would result for the four collections united the number of about 30,000 distichs.
Colebrooke has remarked here and there in his treatises that whole hymns, strophes, or single verses of one Veda are again found in another, or in all the rest, without however giving any more exact determination of the matter. But it appears to me important to be able to estimate the total extent of the old poems which have come down to us in the Vedas, and their distribution in the single collections, for from this point the first step must be taken towards a determination of the reciprocal relation of the different Vedas. The information I can supply on this point is as follows :
The Sanhitá of the Sáma Veda is, according to the testimony of the Indian commentators, (e. g. of Sáyana, in the introduction to his explanation of the Rik,) completely contained in the first Veda (the Rik), i. e. the single verses of the Sáma, are repeated in the connexion of the hymns of the Rik. Some very rare exceptions of verses, however, occur, which the Rik does not contain. The references to particulars
will be fully given in Dr. T. H. Benfey's edition of this Sanhitá, for which we are now looking.
The Vájasanéya Sanhitá of the Yajush, on the contrary, embraces a number of sections which are peculiar to it. From an inspection of several parts of this book, for which however I had but slender assistance from commentaries or similar works, it appears to me that perhaps the half of the whole recurs in the Rik. The other half consists in great part of sacrificial formulas, e. g. the Swáhá repeated hundreds of times, and perhaps only a fourth of the whole consists of fragments of songs or invocations in prose, peculiar to this collection.
It is more difficult for me to give similar specifications in regard to the Atharva, for as we generally see it treated in a step-mother-like fashion so has it also found no commentator, and the only assistance which I have been able to obtain is a carelessly-made copy of the Anukramaní of this Veda, which pays much more attention to the metres of the single verses, than to other points of information. Excepting the names of gods, I find only Atharva, and Bhrigu Angiras named as Rishis, or composers of hymns, though not only strophes but whole hymns of from 30 to 40 verses, which in the Rik have their author specified, are received into the Atharva. It is however easy to perceive that this Veda contains far more pieces peculiar to itself, than the Vájasanéye, and that what is common to it, with the Rik Sanhitá is limited to perhaps a third part of its extent.
The important question which must connect itself with this determination of the external relation of the four collections of hymns, is this: has each of the Sanhitás an independent origin of its own? are they in part borrowed from each other? or finally, is one of them,-and it could be no other than the Rik,-to be regarded as the source of the rest? A sufficient answer to these questions will of course be only then possible, when we shall have in detail before us not only the contents of each Veda, but also the variations in the several texts, which in many cases, are very material. A general representation may however even now be derived from the difference in the arrangement which is followed in these collections, and I may therefore be permitted to enter further into this point.
In reference to the use of the Rig Veda, we must not allow ourselves to be deceived by the arrangement of the MSS. as they now lie before
us without exception. The division which they present is notoriously a mere external, uniform separation into eight parts (Ashtaka), next of these into eight sub-divisions (Adhyaya, lectures,) and lastly into sections (Varga) of five verses each. We might from this believe that we had before us an unarranged aggregate of songs, distributed in this manner only on account of an external point of coherence. But along with this division there exists an entirely different one, as we now know it principally from Sáyana's commentary. This arrangement has for its largest section the Mandala, (circle, book,) within that the Anuváka, (chapter,) with a number of hymns, (súkta,) which again are parted into their distichs (rich.)
This division into ten Mandalas is beyond all doubt the original one, fixed by the collector of these hymns as it has come down to us. Hymns which were ascribed by tradition to the same author or the same family, or hymns which belong to the like sacrificial ceremony, as the Soma-hymns of the 9th Mandala, are here united in one section, without regard to their outward extent.
The first mentioned division (into Ashtakas) on the contrary appears to have its ground in the need of sections of uniform size for the use of the Veda in the schools. In the 15th section of the Prátísákhya Sútras ascribed to Saunaka, there is found a collection of rules for the reading of the Veda in teaching, which appear to have reference to this point. The teacher recited two or three distichs, according to the length or shortness of the aggregates of verses (hymns), which were repeated by the scholars in order. One such portion is called prasna (question,) and sixty or more of these, says the Sútra, i. e. about one hundred and fifty verses, compose an Adhyaya, a lesson of the Veda, which is at the same time the quantity actually read in the school.
Besides that it would be absurd, where a real division of the matter exists, to regard one which is merely formal as the original one, we have the proof for the greater antiquity of the Mandala-division in the modes of speech employed by the oldest interpreter of the Veda. The Nirukta names the Rig Veda in several places, and always with the designation Dasatayya, the ten parts. The same mode of designation is found in the Prátisákhya Sútras, which are older than the Nirukta, in the commentary on the latter, and in a number of other books. The Anukramaniká of the Rik also has this division, although in the