Early Religion Of The Hindus -- By: Herbert William Magoun

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 055:217 (Jan 1898)
Article: Early Religion Of The Hindus
Author: Herbert William Magoun


Early Religion Of The Hindus

H. W. Magoun

First Part Of Second Paper.1

The Rig-Veda contains over one thousand hymns. If tradition be ignored, they may be grouped under about one hundred and twenty-five different heads. These groups, however, will differ widely from one another, and over half of them will contain but a single hymn. Of these single hymns, twenty, or about one-fourth, have to do with two or more subjects; and, of the twenty, fifteen have subjects which appear elsewhere in the collection, either singly or in other combinations. For example, there is a single hymn to ‘Savitr-and-Pusan’; but there are about a dozen to each of them separately, and the latter also occurs in other combinations. Furthermore, there are three

or four hymns to single deities whose praise is sung in other hymns in connection with other deities, and there are a number of instances in which the subject of a single hymn appears at least once elsewhere in the Rik; so that the entire Veda contains less than fifty hymns which can fairly be said to stand alone. Their importance varies. Some have been thought to be secular,2 and less than one-

third of them can be regarded as referring to deities at all.

Quite a number of hymns have for their subject a compound, known as a dvaihdva, ‘pair, couple.’3 In these hymns, two deities are treated as forming a sort of unit; though, with few exceptions, each word is in the dual and retains its own accent.4 Examples are: Indragni, Mitrava-runa, and Dyāvaprthivî.5 The last is of peculiar interest.’6

The compound means, ‘Sky-and-Earth’; and, while there are nine hymns addressed to them conjointly, not a single hymn appears to ‘Sky’ (Dyo, Dyu, or Div)7 alone, and but one is found to ‘Earth’ (Prthivi). The words mean, ‘Bright-one’ and ‘Broad-one’ respectively; but they are also used, even in the Rik, in the purely physical sense. Whatever may have been the standing of ‘Earth,’ there can be no question that ‘Sky’ was a deity of some sort, even in Indo-European times; for Dyo (Norn. Dyatis) appears in Greek as Ζεύς, in Old High German as Zio, and in Anglo-Saxon as Tiu,

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