pilation of the latest Purana, religious and mythopœic fancy was never at rest.
Various motives induced various poets to assign, on various occasions, the highest powers to this or the other god. The most antique legends were probably omitted or softened by some early Vedic bard (Rishi) of noble genius, or again impure myths were brought from the obscurity of oral circulation and foisted into literature by some poet less divinely inspired. Old deities were half-forgotten, and forgotten deities were resuscitated. Sages shook off superstitious bonds, priests forged new fetters on ancient patterns for themselves and their flocks. Philosophy explained away the more degrading myths; myths as degrading were suggested to dark and servile hearts by unscientific etymologies. Over the whole mass of ancient mythology the new mythology of a debased Brahmanic ritualism grew like some luxurious and baneful parasite. It is enough for our purpose if we can show that even in the purest and most antique mythology of India the element of traditional savagery survived and played its part, and that the irrational legends of the Vedas and Brahmanas can often be explained as relics of savage philosophy or faith, or as novelties planned on the ancient savage model, whether borrowed or native to the race.
The oldest documents of Indian mythology are the Vedas, usually reckoned as four in number. The oldest, again, of the four, is the Sanhita ("collection") of the Rig-Veda. It is a purely lyrical assort-