Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/250

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to repeat that a faith so very composite, and already so strongly differentiated, cannot possibly be "primitive," and that the beliefs and practices of a race so highly organised in society and so well equipped in material civilisation as the Vedic Aryans cannot possibly be "near the beginning." Far from expecting to find in the Veda the primitive myths of the Aryans, we must remember that myth had already, when these hymns were sung, become obnoxious to the religious sentiment. "Thus," writes Barth, "the authors of the hymns have expurgated, or at least left in the shade, a vast number of legends older than their time; such, for example, as the identity of soma with the moon, as the account of the divine families, of the parricide of Indra, and a long list might be made of the reticences of the Veda. . . . It would be difficult to extract from the hymns a chapter on the loves of the gods. The goddesses are veiled, the adventures of the gods are scarcely touched on in passing. . . . We must allow for the moral delicacy of the singers, and for their dislike of speaking too precisely about the gods. Sometimes it seems as if their chief object was to avoid plain-speaking. . . . But often there is nothing save jargon and indolence of mind in this voluntary obscurity, for already in the Veda the Indian intellect is deeply smitten with its inveterate malady of affecting mystery the more, the more it has nothing to conceal; the mania for scattering symbols which symbolise no reality, and for sporting with riddles which it is not worth while to divine."[1] Such is the natural judg-

  1. Les Religions de l'Inde, p. 21.