Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/66

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62 THE ARYANS IN INDIA. arms, but by the vigour of hereditary culture and temperance. One race has swept across India after another, dynasties have risen and fallen, religions have spread themselves over the land and disappeared. But since the dawn of history the Brahman has calmly ruled ; swaying the minds and receiving the homage of the people, and accepted by foreign nations as the highest type of Indian mankind. The position which the Brahmans won resulted in no small measure from the benefits which they bestowed. For their own Aryan countrymen they developed a noble language and literature. The Brahmans were not only the priests and philosophers, but also the lawgivers, the men of science, and the poets of their race. Their influence on the aboriginal peoples, the hill and forest races of India, was even more important. To these rude remnants of the flint and stone ages they brought, in ancient times, a knowledge of the metals and the gods. Brahman Theology. — The Brahmans, among themselves, soon began to see that the old gods of the Vedic hymns were in reality not supreme beings, but poetic fictions. For when they came to think the matter out, they found that the Sun, the Aqueous Vapour, the Encompassing Sky, the Wind, and the Dawn could not each be separate and supreme creators, but must have all proceeded from one First Cause. They did not shock the more ignorant castes by any public rejection of the Vedic deities. They accepted the old ' Shining Ones ' of the Veda as beautiful manifestations of the divine power, and con- tinued to decorously conduct the sacrifices in their honour. But among their own caste the Brahmans taught the unity of God. The mass of the people were left to believe in four castes, four Vedas, and many deities. But the higher thinkers among the Brahmans recognized that in the beginning there was but one caste, one Veda, and one God. The Hindu Trinity. — The confused old groups of deities or Shining Ones in the Veda thus gave place to the grand concep- tion of one God, in his three solemn manifestations as Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Siva the Destroyer and Reproducer. Each of these had his prototype among the Vedic deities ; and they remain to this day the three persons of the