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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/543

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OUR INDIAN MYTHOLOGY.

place of man in nature. Whatever emotion the application of the doctrine of evolution to the moral world may cause, and however grave may be the shock it inflicts on the edifice of beliefs, it should be accepted with confidence, for it is true, and the truth can not be wrong. Even if it exacts a transformation of the social order by transforming beliefs, it must be faced resolutely. The natural sciences thus impose themselves on the attention even of the statesman." It is necessary attentively to follow their progress, to measure the bearing of their discoveries, to study their actual or possible influence on current beliefs and ideas, and to endeavor to construct a new edifice all the more quickly as the bases of the old one appear to be seriously threatened.

These declarations deserve a hearing. They have a considerable importance, not only because they come from a naturalist whose works[1] and position assure him one of the first places among the French scientific men of his generation, but also and especially because this naturalist is not suspected of any inconsiderate enthusiasm for the doctrine of evolution, and because he only yesterday was defending the beliefs we have spoken of against it. The honorable scruples which have kept him back seem at last to have yielded to the force of accumulated proofs: he lets fall the barriers which he seemed disposed to keep up between nature and man; he perceives that mechanism and science blend, and does not hesitate to say so. We expected nothing less from his clear-sightedness and his sincerity.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from the Revue Philosophique.

 

OUR INDIAN MYTHOLOGY.
By J. HENRY GEST.

THE myths of a people are the first crude embodiments of its religious feeling. They are first formulated in stories told over the fires of long winter evenings, and pass on as traditions from father to son, until written language at last makes a record of them. How carefully European students have gathered them together, seeking to extract from the scanty records the hidden image which inspired them! Any reader of this can recall some myth of Greece, or Rome, or early Europe; but how many are aware that here, among our own Indians, there exists a mythology from which not a little can be learned of the religious feeling of a rude civilization such as our own Aryan ancestors passed through long centuries ago?

Among recent German publications is a small pamphlet of seventy

  1. One of these works, a study of the organization of worms, has been pronounced "admirable" by Mr. Darwin.