or evolution superintended and assisted from above, will presently be set forth.
In the Puranas creation is a process renewed after each kalpa, or vast mundane period. Brahma awakes from his slumber, and finds the world a waste of water. Then, just as in the American myths of the coyote, and the Slavonic myths of the devil and the doves, a boar or a fish or a tortoise fishes up the world out of the waters. That boar, fish, tortoise, or what not, is Brahma or Vishnu. This savage conception of the beginnings of creation in the act of a tortoise, fish, or boar is not first found in the Puranas, as Dr. Muir points out, but is indicated in the Black Yajur-Veda and in the Satapatha Brahmana. In the Satapatha Brahmana, xiv. 1, 2, 11, we discover the idea, so common in savage myths—for example, in that of the Navajoes—that the earth was at first very small, a mere patch, and grew bigger after the animal fished it up. "Formerly this earth was only so large, of the size of a span. A boar called Emusha raised her up." Here the boar makes no pretence of being the incarnation of a god, but is a mere boar sans phrase, like the creative coyote of the Papogas and Chinooks, or the musk-rat of the Tacullies. This is a good example of the development of myths. Savages begin, as we saw, by regarding various animals, spiders, grasshoppers, ravens, eagles, cockatoos, as the creators or recoverers of the world. As civilisation advances, those animals still perform; their beneficent functions, but are looked on as gods
- Muir, 2d edit., vol. i. p. 52.