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xxiv
PREFACE TO THE

musical note without harmonics. With the life we are leading now, with telegrams, letters, newspapers, reviews, pamphlets, and books ever breaking in upon us, it has become impossible, or almost impossible, ever to arrive at that intensity of thought which the Hindus meant by ekâgratâ, and the attainment of which was to them the indispensable condition of all philosophical and religious speculation. The loss may not be altogether on our side, yet a loss it is, and if we see the Hindus, even in their comparatively monotonous life, adopting all kinds of contrivances in order to assist them in drawing away their thoughts from all disturbing impressions and to fix them on one subject only, we must not be satisfied with smiling at their simplicity, but try to appreciate the object they had in view.

When by means of repeating the syllable Om, which originally seems to have meant 'that,' or 'yes,' they had arrived at a certain degree of mental tranquillity, the question arose what was meant by this Om, and to this question the most various answers were given, according as the mind was to be led up to higher and higher objects. Thus in one passage we are told at first that Om is the beginning of the Veda, or, as we have to deal with an Upanishad of the Sâma-veda, the beginning of the Sâma-veda, so that he who meditates on Om, may be supposed to be meditating on the whole of the Sâma-veda. But that is not enough. Om is said to be the essence of the Sâma-veda, which, being almost entirely taken from the Rig-veda, may itself be called the essence of the Rig-veda. And more than that. The Rig-veda stands for all speech, the Sâma-veda for all breath or life, so that Om may be conceived again as the