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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

The Vedic gods may be contrasted with them in this


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style="text-align: justify;">[Footnote 1: _The Rigveda_, by Kaegi, 1886 edition, p. 13.]

[Footnote 2: _Ibid_. p. 18.]

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of civilization, but nowhere was the sincere spirit of the Aryans more manifested than in religion, which was the most essential and dominant feature of almost all the hymns, except a few secular ones. Thus Kaegi says, "The whole significance of the Rigveda in reference to the general history of religion, as has repeatedly been pointed out in modern times, rests upon this, that it presents to us the development of religious conceptions from the earliest beginnings to the deepest apprehension of the godhead and its relation to man [Footnote ref 1]."

The Vedic Gods.

The hymns of the @Rg-Veda were almost all composed in praise of the gods. The social and other materials are of secondary importance, as these references had only to be mentioned incidentally in giving vent to their feelings of devotion to the god. The gods here are however personalities presiding over the diverse powers of nature or forming their very essence. They have therefore no definite, systematic and separate characters like the Greek gods or the gods of the later Indian mythical works, the Pura@nas. The powers of nature such as the storm, the rain, the thunder, are closely associated with one another, and the gods associated

with them are also similar in character. The same epithets are attributed to different gods and it is only in a few specific qualities that they differ from one another. In the later mythological compositions of the Pura@nas the gods lost their character as hypostatic powers of nature, and thus became actual personalities and characters having their tales of joy and sorrow like the mortal here below. The Vedic gods may be contrasted with them in this, that they are of an impersonal nature, as the characters they display are mostly but expressions of the powers of nature. To take an example, the fire or Agni is described, as Kaegi has it, as one that "lies concealed in the softer wood, as in a chamber, until, called forth by the rubbing in the early morning hour, he suddenly springs forth in gleaming brightness. The sacrificer takes and lays him on the wood. When the priests pour melted butter upon him, he leaps up crackling and neighing like a horse--he whom men love to see increasing like their own prosperity. They wonder at him, when, decking himself with

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[Footnote 1: _The Rigveda_, by Kaegi, p. 26.]

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changing colors like a suitor, equally beautiful on all sides, he presents to all sides his front.

"All-searching is his beam, the gleaming of his light, His, the all-beautiful, of beauteous face and glance, The changing shimmer like that floats upon the stream, So Agni's rays gleam over bright and never cease."

[Footnote ref 1] R.V.I. 143. 3.

They would describe the wind (Vata) and adore him and say

"In what place was he born, and from whence comes he? The vital breath of gods, the world's great offspring, The God where'er he will moves at his pleasure: His rushing sound we hear--what his appearance, no one."


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