Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/257

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text in the Yajur Veda, gods, and men, and beasts, and other matters were created from various portions of the frame of a divine being named Prajapati.[1] The god Agni, Brahmans, and the goat were born from the mouth of Prajapati. From his breast and arms came the god Indra (sometimes spoken of as a ram), the sheep, and of men the Rajanya. Cows and gods called Visvadevas were born together from his middle. Are we to understand the words "they who were born together with the spotted deer" to refer to a myth of this kind—a myth representing the Maruts and deer as having been born at the same birth, as Agni came with the goat, and Indra with the sheep? This is just the point on which the Indian commentators were divided.[2] Sayana, the old commentator, says, "The legendary school takes them for deer with white spots; the etymological school, for the many-coloured lines of clouds." The modern legendary (or anthropological) and etymological (or philological) students of mythology are often as much at variance in their attempts to interpret the traditions of India.

Another famous, and almost comic, example of the difficulty of Vedic interpretation is well known. In Rig-Veda, x. 16, 4, there is a funeral hymn. Agni, the fire-god, is supplicated either to roast a goat or to warm the soul of the dead and convey it to paradise. Whether the soul is to be thus comforted or the goat is to be grilled, is a question that has mightily puzzled Vedic doctors.[3] Professsor Müller and M. Langlois are

  1. Muir, Sanskrit Texts, 2d edit., i. 16.
  2. Max Müller, Rig-Veda Sanhita, trans., vol. i. p. 59.
  3. Muir, v. 217.