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is strengthened, if it needed strengthening, by the opinion of Dr. Weber.[1] "We must indeed assume generally with regard to many of those legends (in the Brahmanas of the Rig-Veda) that they had already gained a rounded independent shape in tradition before they were incorporated into the Brahmanas; and of this we have frequent evidence in the distinctly archaic character of their language, compared with that of the rest of the text."

We have now briefly stated the nature and probable relative antiquity of the evidence which is at the disposal of Vedic mythologists. The chief lesson we would enforce is the necessity of suspending the judgment when the Vedas are represented as examples of primitive and comparatively pure and simple natural religion. They are not primitive; they are highly differentiated, highly complex, extremely enigmatic expressions of fairly advanced and very peculiar religious thought. They are not morally so very pure as has been maintained, and their purity, such as it is, seems the result of conscious reticence and wary selection rather than of primeval innocence. Yet the bards or editors have by no means wholly excluded very ancient myths of a thoroughly savage character. These will be chiefly exposed in the chapter on "Indo-Aryan Myths of the Beginnings of Things," which follows.

  1. History of Indian Literature, English trans., p. 47.