Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/60

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56 THE ARYANS IN INDIA. were altogether superior to the people of the lana, and to their poor, rude objects of worship. Indeed, this noble self-confidence is a great aid to the success of a nation. Their divinities — devas, literally ' the shining ones,' from the Sanskrit root div, ' to shine ' — were the great powers of nature. They adored the Father-heaven, — Dyaush-pitar in Sanskrit, the Dies-pihr or Jupiter of Rome, the Zeus of Greece ; and the Encompassing Sky — Varuna in Sanskrit, Uranus in Latin, Ouranos in Greek. Indra, or the Aqueous Vapour that brings the precious rain on which plenty or famine still depends each autumn, received the largest number of hymns. By degrees, as the settlers realized more and more keenly the importance of the periodical rains to their new life as husbandmen, he became the chief of the Vedic gods. ' The gods do not reach unto thee, O Indra, nor men ; thou overcomest all creatures in strength.' Agni, the God of Fire (Latin ignis), ranks perhaps next to Indra in the number of hymns addressed to him. He is ' the Youngest of the Gods,' ' the Lord and Giver of Wealth.' The Maruts are the Storm Gods, ' who make the rock to tremble, who tear in pieces the forest.' Ushas, ' the High-born Dawn ' (Greek Eos), ' shines upon us like a young wife, rousing every living being to go forth to his work.' The Asvins, the ' Horsemen ' or fleet outriders of the dawn, are the first rays of sunrise, ' Lords of Lustre.' The Solar Orb himself (Surya), the Wind (Vayu), the Sunshine or Friendly Day (Mitra), the intoxicating fermented juice of the Sacrificial Plant (Soma), and many other deities are invoked in the Veda — in all, about thirty-three gods, ' who are eleven in heaven, eleven on earth, and eleven dwelling in glory in mid-air.' The Vedic Idea of God.— The Aryan settler lived on excel- lent terms with his bright gods. He asked for protection, with an assured conviction that it would be granted. At the same time, he was deeply stirred by the glory and mystery of the earth and the heavens. Indeed, the majesty of nature so filled his mind, that when he praises any one of his Shining Gods, he can think of none other for the time being, and adores him as the supreme ruler. Verses may be quoted declaring each of the greater deities to be the One Supreme : ' Neither gods nor men reach unto thee, O Indra.' Another hymn speaks of Soma