Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 1.djvu/265

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towards a woman, highly adorned: it was Umâ, the daughter of Himavat[1]. He said to her: "Who is that sprite?"


1. She replied: "It is Brahman. It is through the victory of Brahman that you have thus become great." After that he knew that it was Brahman.

2. Therefore these Devas, viz. Agni, Vâyu, and Indra, are, as it were, above the other gods, for they touched it (the Brahman) nearest[2].

3. And therefore Indra is, as it were, above the other gods, for he touched it nearest, he first knew it.

4. This is the teaching of Brahman, with regard to the gods (mythological): It is that which now

  1. Umâ may here be taken as the wife of Siva, daughter of Himavat, better known by her earlier name, Pârvatî, the daughter of the mountains. Originally she was, not the daughter of the mountains or of the Himâlaya, but the daughter of the cloud, just as Rudra was originally, not the lord of the mountains, girîsa, but the lord of the clouds. We are, however, moving here in a secondary period of Indian thought, in which we see, as among Semitic nations, the manifested powers, and particularly the knowledge and wisdom of the gods, represented by their wives. Umâ means originally flax, from vâ, to weave, and the same word may have been an old name of wife, she who weaves (cf. duhitri, spinster, and possibly wife itself, if O.H.G. wîb is connected with O.H.G. wëban). It is used almost synonymously with ambikâ, Taitt. Âr. p. 839. If we wished to take liberties, we might translate umâ haimavatâ by an old woman coming from the Himavat mountains; but I decline all responsibility for such an interpretation.
  2. The next phrase was borrowed from §3, without even changing the singular to the plural. As Indra only found out that it was Brahman, the original distinction between Indra and the other gods, who only came near to it, was quite justified. Still it might be better to adopt the var. lect. sa hy etat in §2.