« PreviousContinue »
that we now live among the adorers of those very deities, who were worshipped under different names in old Greece and Italy; and among the professors of those philosophical tenets, which the Ionic and Attic writers illustrated with all the beauties of their melodious language. On one hand we see the trident of Neptune, the eagle of Jupiter, the satyrs of Bacchus, the bow of Cupid, and the chariot of the Sun; on another we hear the cymbals of Rhea, the songs of the Muses, and the pastoral tales of Apollo Nomius. In more retired scenes, in groves, and in seminaries of learning, we may perceive the Brahmins, and the Sarmanes, mentioned by Clemens, disputing in the forms of logic, or discoursing on the vanity of human enjoyments, on the immortality of the soul, her emanation from the eternal mind, her debasement, wandering, and final union with her source. The six philosophical schools, whose principles are explained in the Dersana Sastra, comprise all the metaphysics of the old Academy, the Stoa, and the
Lyceum; nor is it possible to read the Vedanta, or the many fine compositions in illustration of it, without believing that Pythagoras and Plato derived their sublime theories from the same fountain with the sages of India."*
In addition to what is here said by Sir William Jones, we shall observe, that Philostratus makes Pythagoras say to Thespesion, when reproaching him for his partiality to the Egyptians : "Admirer as you are of the philosophy which the Indians invented, why do you not attribute it to its real parents, rather than to those who are only so by adoption." Iarchus, the Hindu
* Third Annual Discourse of Sir William Jones to the Asiatic Society. See his Works, 8vo. edit. vol. iii. p. 36.
"We may venture to affirm, that, on attentive inquiry, we shall find in the Puranas, and other fabulous writings of the Hindus, almost the whole mythology of the Greeks and Romans. Some particulars may be modified, and heroes in both of the latter countries may be found, who have been transformed into demi-gods; but all the principal features of the system may be traced.”— Edinburgh Review, No. 29.
philosopher, likewise says to Apollonius of Tyana, who asked his opinion concerning the soul:-"We think of it what Pythagoras taught you, and what we taught the Egyptians." Lucian, when making Philosophy complain to Jupiter, of some who had dishonoured her by their conduct, supposes the Indians to have been the first who received her amongst them: "I went amongst the Indians, and made them come down from their elephants and converse with me. From them I went to the Ethiopians, and then came to the Egyptians."
"De l'école Ionienne sortit le chef d'une école beaucoup plus célébre. Pythagore, né à Samos, vers l'an 590, avant notre ère, fut d'abord disciple de Thales, qui lui conseilla de voyager en Egypte, où il se fit initier aux mystères des prêtres, pour connoître à fond leur doctrine. Ensuite, il alla sur les bords du Gange, interroger les Bracmanes. De retour dans sa patrie, le despotisme sous lequel elle gémissoit alors, le força de s'en exiler, et il se retira en Italie où il fonda son école. Toutes les
vérités astronomiques de l'école Ionienne furent enseignés avec plus de développement dans celle de Pythagore; mais ce qui la distingue principalement, est la connoissance des deux mouvemens de la terre, sur elle-même et autour du soleil. Pythagore l'enveloppa d'un voile obscur, pour la cacher au vulgaire; mais elle fut exposée dans un grand jour par son disciple Philolaus."*
The four Yugs, or ages of the Hindūs, bear so marked an affinity to those of the Greeks and Romans, as we conceive leaves but little doubt of their origin. Among the latter nations, they were distinguished by the epithets of golden, silver, brazen, and iron ages. Those of the Hindus are named Satya, Tirtah, Dwapar, and Kaly : names, which, like those of the Greeks and Romans, express a progressive decline from purity to baseness. Though the Satya, like the Saturnian age, abounds in precious things, Satya strictly means truth
* Exposition du Système du Monde, par M. La Place, p. 333.
and probity. "The duration of the Indian Yugs is disposed so regularly and artificially, that it cannot be admitted as natural or probable. Men do not become reprobate in a geometrical progression, or at the termination of regular periods; yet so well proportioned are the Yugs, that even the length of human life is diminished as they advance, from an hundred thousand years in a subdecuple ratio; and, as the number of principal Avatars in each decreases arithmetically from four, so the number of years in each decreases geometrically, and all together constitute the extravagant sum of four million three hundred and twenty thousand years; which aggregate, multiplied by seventy-one, is the period in which every Menu is believed to preside over the world. The comprehensive mind of an Indian chronologist has no limits; and the reigns of fourteen Menus are only a single day of Brahma, fifty of which days have elapsed, according to the Hindūs, from the time of the creation. That all this puerility, as it seems at first