« السابقةمتابعة »
MSS. it is externally separated into Ashtakas. Hence it results that it would be unnatural to make any other division than that into ten Mandalas the basis of a future edition of this Sanhitá.* For in whatever way criticism may decide in detail on the historical value of the tradition touching the authors of the Vedic hymns, still this tradition has been held authoritative by the collector and by the oldest interpretors of the Veda, and it may moreover be proved from the affinity of the representations and of the language that, in the present recension of the Veda, those sets of hymns are mostly arranged together, which must have had a common origin, and possibly may have been previously united in particular collections.
In the Mandala itself again there exists an arrangement. It may in most cases he shown why the hymns are given in this determined sequence. That a regard to their ritual import had its effect, is evident, but it was allied with the main principle of each division, viz. to place together what was homogeneous. Hymns addressed to Agni follow each other, and generally occupy the first place in the several books, then the hymns to Indra, and so on. This however is not carried so far, as that we can assume the collection to have been made for liturgical ends. The Rig Veda even contains hymns and parts of hymns, which the commentator, though very scrupulous in this matter, cannot assign to any religious observance. I rather believe than one can with full reason call the Rik the historical Veda. And its collection is a wonderful work, which attests the scientific perception of this people in an age which,- -as I shall be able to show further on, reaches far above the age of the collection of the Homeric songs. There are united here more than a thousand of those sacred songs, with which the forefathers dwelling on the banks of the five streams supplicated prosperity for themselves and their flocks, greeted the rising dawn, sang the fight of the lightning-wielding god with the gloomy power, and celebrated the help of the celestials who had delivered them in their battles. And these songs are collected, not, perhaps, because the religious worship had occasion for them in this manner, but the whole treasure of this ancient poetry was to be here preserved uncur
* Rosen has indeed, on external considerations, published the first Ashtaka; the entire first Mandala would have been too extensive for him, for it contains 190 hymns, and reaches nearly to the end of the second Ashtaka.
tailed and well arranged. We should moreover deceive ourselves were we to believe that the Veda contains exclusively religious songs; a number of pieces have found their way into it, which have no reference to the worship of the gods.
In the tenth Mandala, e. g. in which a dice-player laments deeply his ruinous propensity, which against his best resolutions, seduces him again continually into new sin. Another piece in the seventh Mandala, ascribed to Vasishtha (of which Colebrooke has already given a passing notice) describes in a sportive way the revival of the frogs at the beginning of the rainy season, and compares their quacking with the singing of Brahma at a sacrifice. A very frequent form of hymn (of which examples are wanting in the part of the Rik already made public) is the dialogistic,-conversations of the gods among themselves, or of a god with a Rishi. In the fourth Mandala, e. g. Vámadeva speaks with Indra, and mocks him, "What can Indra forbid me? no one regards him either of the living, or of those who shall be born." As to these and similar pieces the interpreters are at a loss how to assign the Rishi and the Devatá, (i. e. the inspired author and the god invoked ;) but in the song of the gamester (abovementioned) they have preferred making the dice the deity (devata) rather than give up these unbending terms. But the less these remnants of ancient poetry are suited to the established frames of liturgical forms, the more worthy they undoubtedly are of our observation; and a representation of the most ancient circumstances of the people, and the character of this literature may in many respects be more easily acquired from these hymus, than from those constructed in more regular form. Yet I will not assert that these pieces belong to the oldest of all; on the contrary, the most of them bear plain traces of a later origin.
The Sanhitá of the Rig Veda thus claims to give the hymns complete, just as the Rishi has spoken,-or according to the expression of the interpreter,-has seen them. Not so the collections of the Sáma, and the Vájasaneya Yajush. Both give single verses or single strophes, which do not at all necessarily stand in any internal connexion with each other, but only receive such connexion through the ritual which they accompany. In the Sáma I believe I have remarked besides, that not only the metre, which in virtue of its connexion with melody began very early to play an important part in sacrificial rites, but even
the accidental occurrence of the same or like-sounding words has frequently had an influence on the sequence of single verses. That the first principle of arrangement in both these Vedas is a liturgical one, needs no confirmation, and the most important thing which can be performed for either consists in the indication of this more or less loose connexion of the text with the ceremonial. An explanation of this principle, however, such as we demand, must necessarily go back to the connexion of the passages, i. e. to the Rik. Thus both (the Sáma and the Yajush) properly call for illustration in those points only where they depart from the first Veda.
For even were we to take up again the enquiry abovementioned into the relation between these three collections in respect of their origin, for even were we to assume that the Sáma and Yajush, or one of them, had been compiled earlier than the Rik Sanhitá, still we shall not be able to deny that the hymns contained in the latter (the Rik) are the same from which those pieces (i. e. those contained in the Sáma and Yajush) were taken; we shall not be able to invert the relation so far as to hold the hymns of the Rik for mere deckings-out, amplifications of the ritual fragments. For the latter, as we find them in both of those collections, have no independent significance, they are taken away from a connexion, and in the former the shell would be of more importance than the kernel.
The assumption of a priority in the collection of the liturgical Vedas would however have in it nothing at all improbable. It is rather the natural course that the immediate want is first satisfied, before one arrives at the derivative one. These fragments were collected, as they were in use in religious worship,-remnants of complete songs, which had acquired importance for religious services before other portions of those hymns, these, (I say) were collected because they were wauted for the regulation of the ritual, which in the sequel was to grow up into so huge a system. It was only in the second place that the collection of the complete hymns on which the ritual was based, was arrived at; and since those parts of hymns which the Sáma and Yajush contain were already guarded from alterations by writing and by their liturgical importance; whilst the undivided song existing as yet perhaps only in recollection, or scattered here and there, and as not immediately pertaining to sacred offices, was also less scrupulously
preserved, it would be easily explicable if both those Sanhitás contained variations of the text, which as regards the passages concerned are older than the text of the Rik. We may even go further and grant that as the compilation of the Rik already in a certain sense rests upon a scientific want, so science also after the manner of ancient and modern times wished to do too much, that men had allowed themselves improvements and sought to restore uniformity, and that thus we had before us in the Rik a conscious retouching. Certain traces testify at least to external fusions; and although I cannot believe that the compiler of the Rik would have allowed himself to make essential and extensive alterations, yet I could not venture to pronounce against the assumption of a retouching, before we have before us the bulk of the textual variations of the Sáma, at least, which are far more important than those of the Vajasaneyé (Yajush). The above mentioned edition of that Veda will give the amplest information on this point.
As regards the Atharva, the question above proposed appears to be more easily decided. This collection contains, not single unconnected verses, but complete hymns, and has a real arrangement, (i. e. one depending on things, not merely formal.) In this respect it is like the Rik, and can really be called a complement of the first Veda, a complement meant to embrace the hymnologic productions of its time, when the mantra was already no longer an expression of immediate religious feeling, but had become a formula of incantation. This Veda therefore contains especially sentences intended to guard against destructive operations of the divine powers, against sickness and noxious animals, imprecations on enemies, invocations of healing herbs, and for all manner of occurrences in ordinary life, for protection in travelling, luck in play, and such like things. In the pieces which are common to it (the Atharva) with the Rik, it allows itself a great number of transpositions and alterations, which besides in most cases appear to be arbitrary. The language in those sections which are peculiar to it, approaches the flowing expression of later times, but has withal the grammatical forms of the older songs. Between it and the Rik there exists, further the peculiar relation, that the latter also towards the conclusion (in the last Anuváka of the tenth Mandala) contains a considerable number of sections which bear completely the character of the Atharva-hymns, and are also actually found repeated in this Veda,
Besides these general tokens of a later origin of this Veda, we find yet further a number of particular marks among which I here adduce one. The hymns of the Rik variously celebrate the deliverances, which Indra, the Aswins, and other gods had vouchsafed to the forefathers. All the names of the persons so delivered, however, lie beyond the time of the author himself, and one seldom meets with the name of a Vedic Rishi. But in the fourth book of the Atharva there is found e. g. a hymn which invokes Mitra and Varuna to preserve the suppliant, as they had preserved-not Dadhyach, Rebha, Pedu, and others, but Jamadagni, Vasishtha, Medhátithi, Purumilha, &c., all names of men whom tradition makes to be authors of the hymns of the RigVeda.
It thus appears, from all that has been said, to admit of no doubt that the Atharva has not only been later collected than the Rik, but has also a later origin, and in both together we have before us the mass of the hymns of two periods. To understand these in their whole compass, must clearly be the first thing which we can do in this province; and a recension of both these Vedas should therefore precede the investigation of the liturgical system, from which only, again, the Sáma and Vájasaneyé can receive light. It is impossible to master perfectly the practical religious writings, the Brahmanas, and what is connected with them without a knowledge of the text of the hymns, round which the whole ritual ranges itself; while, on the other hand, we cannot hope to be esssentially advanced in the historical understanding of the ancient poems by means of a liturature which has for that text only a stiffened sense, determined by the ritual. What we shall take from this literature is the explanation of single liturgical representations which are found already in the hymns. The whole system of worship is however in itself a very important object of investigation, and well worth the labour which its explanation will cost. The number of writings pertaining to this subject is extraordinary. All the Bráhmanas, a great number of Upanishads, and the numerous Srauta and Gribya Sútras lie within the circle of these investigations.
In order now to give an account of how the Veda has come down to us, and of what has been done for the Rig Veda in particular by indigenous grammar and interpretation, I must speak of a class of writings, which to my knowledge have not yet formed the subject of discourse