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Authorities—Vedas—Brahmanas—Social condition of Vedic India—Arts—Ranks—War—Vedic fetishism—Ancestor worship—Date of Rig-Veda Hymns doubtful—Obscurity of the Hymns—Difficulty of interpreting the real character of Veda—Not primitive but sacerdotal—The moral purity not innocence but refinement.

Before examing the myths of the Aryans of India, it is necessary to have a clear notion of the nature of the evidence from which we derive our knowledge of the subject. That evidence is found in a large and incongruous mass of literary documents, the heritage of the Indian people. In this mass are extremely ancient texts (the Rig-Veda, and the Atharva-Veda), expository comments of a date so much later that the original meaning of the older documents was sometimes lost (the Brahmanas), and poems and legendary collections of a period later still, a period when the whole character of religious thought had sensibly altered. In this literature there is, indeed, a certain continuity; the names of several gods of the earliest time are preserved in the legends of the latest. But the influences of many centuries of change, of contending philo-