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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

Revive the germs of philosophic speculation in the Vedas


were probably composed for old

men who had retired into the forest and were thus unable to perform elaborate sacrifices requiring a multitude of accessories and articles which could not be procured in forests. In these, meditations on certain symbols were supposed to be of great merit, and they gradually began to supplant the sacrifices as being of a superior order. It is here that we find that amongst a certain section of intelligent people the ritualistic ideas began to give way, and philosophic speculations about the nature of truth became gradually substituted in their place. To take an illustration from the beginning of the B@rhadara@nyaka we find that instead of the actual performance of the horse sacrifice (_as'vamedha_) there are directions for meditating upon the dawn (_U@sas_) as the head of the horse, the sun as the eye of the horse, the air as its life, and so on. This is indeed a distinct advancement of the claims of speculation or meditation over the actual performance of the complicated ceremonials of sacrifice. The growth of the subjective speculation, as being capable of bringing the highest good, gradually resulted in the supersession of Vedic ritualism and the establishment of the claims of philosophic meditation and self-knowledge as the highest goal of life. Thus we find that the Ara@nyaka age was a period during which free thinking tried gradually to shake off the shackles of ritualism which had fettered it for a long time. It was thus that the Ara@nyakas could pave the way for the Upani@sads,
revive the germs of philosophic speculation in the Vedas, and develop them in a manner which made the Upani@sads the source of all philosophy that arose in the world of Hindu thought.

The @Rg-Veda, its civilization.

The hymns of the @Rg-Veda are neither the productions of a single hand nor do they probably belong to any single age. They were composed probably at different periods by different sages, and it is not improbable that some of them were composed

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before the Aryan people entered the plains of India. They were handed down from mouth to mouth and gradually swelled through the new additions that were made by the poets of succeeding generations. It was when the collection had increased to a very considerable extent that it was probably arranged in the present form, or in some other previous forms to which the present arrangement owes its origin. They therefore reflect the civilization of the Aryan people at different periods of antiquity before and after they had come to India. This unique monument of a long vanished age is of great aesthetic value, and contains much that is genuine poetry. It enables us to get an estimate of the primitive society which produced it--the oldest book of the Aryan race. The principal means of sustenance were cattle-keeping and the cultivation of the soil with plough and harrow, mattock and hoe, and watering the ground when necessary with artificial canals. "The chief food consists," as Kaegi says, "together with bread, of various preparations of milk, cakes of flour and butter, many sorts of vegetables and fruits; meat cooked on the spits or in pots, is little used, and was probably eaten only at the great feasts and family gatherings. Drinking plays throughout a much more important part than eating [Footnote ref 1]." The wood-worker built war-chariots and wagons, as also more delicate carved works and artistic cups. Metal-workers, smiths and potters continued their trade. The women understood the plaiting of mats, weaving and sewing; they manufactured the wool of the sheep into clothing for men and covering for animals. The group of individuals forming a tribe was the highest political unit; each of the different families forming a tribe was under the sway of the father or the head of the family. Kingship was probably hereditary and in some cases electoral. Kingship was nowhere absolute, but limited by the will of the people. Most developed ideas of justice, right and law, were present in the country. Thus Kaegi says, "the hymns strongly prove how deeply the prominent minds in the people were persuaded that the eternal ordinances of the rulers of the world were as inviolable in mental and moral matters as in the realm of nature, and that every wrong act, even the unconscious, was punished and the sin expiated."[Footnote ref 2] Thus it is only right and proper to think that the Aryans had attained a pretty high degree


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