Page images
PDF
EPUB

ful, if not the most ancient collection of apologues in the world: they were Erst Translated from the Sanscrit, in the sixth century, by the order of Buzenchumih C bright as the sun, the chief physician, and afterwards Vizir of the great Anushirevas, and are extant under various names in more than twenty languages; but their original title is Hitopadesa, or amicable struction: and, as the very existence of Esop, whom the Arabs believe to bare been an

Abyssinian, appears rather doubtful, I am not disinclined to suppose, that the frst moral fables, which appeared in Europe, were of Indian, or Ethiopian origin.

He continues:-" I have already had occasion to touch on the Indian metaphysics of natural bodies, according to the most celebrated of the Asiatic schools, from which the Pythagoreans are supposed to hare borrowed many of their opinions; and, as we learn from Cicero, that the cla sages of Europe had an idea of centripetal

* Works of Sir William Jones, vol. iii. p. 2.

force, and a principle of universal gravitation (which they never indeed attempted to demonstrate); so I can venture to affirm, without meaning to pluck a leaf from the neverfading laurels of our immortal Newton, that the whole of his theology, and part of his philosophy, may be found in the Vedas, and even in the works of the Sufis; that most subtil spirit, which he suspected to pervade natural bodies, and, lying concealed in them, to cause attraction and repulsion; the emission, reflection, and refraction of light; electricity, calefaction, sensation, and muscular motion; is described by the Hindus as a fifth element, endued with those very powers, and the Vedas abound with allusions to a force universally attractive, which they chiefly ascribe to the sun, thence called Aditya, or the attractor, a name designed by the mythologists to represent the child of the goddess Aditi; but the most wonderful passage on the theory of attraction occurs in the charming allegorical poem of Shirin and Ferhad, or the divine spirit, and a human soul disin

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

is this

terestedly pious; a work which from the first verse to the last, is a blaze of religious and poetical fire. The whole passage appears to me so curious, that I make no apology for giving you a faithful translation of it: There is a strong propensity, which dances through every atom, and attracts the minutest particle to some peculiar object; search this universe from its base to its summit, from fire to air, from water to earth, from all below the moon, to all above the celestial spheres, and thou wilt not find a corpuscle destitute of that natural attractibility; the very point of the first thread, in this apparently tangled skein, is no other than such a principle of attraction, and all principles beside are void of a real basis; from such a propensity arises every motion perceived in heavenly, or in terrestrial bodies; it is a disposition to be attracted, which taught hard steel to rush from its place and rivet itself on the magnet; it is the same disposition, which impels the light straw to attach itself firmly on amber; it is this quality, which gives every sub

stance in nature a tendency toward another, and an inclination forcibly directed to a determined point.' These notions are vague, indeed, and unsatisfactory; but permit me to ask, whether the last paragraph of Newton's incomparable work goes much farther, and whether any subsequent experiments have thrown light on a subject so abstruse and obscure."

66

In an article entitled, On the Literature of the Hindus, translated from the Sanscrit by Sir William Jones, to whom it was communicated by Goverdhan Caul,* it is said: There are eighteen Vidyas, or parts of true knowledge, and some branches of knowledge falsely so called; of both which a short account shall here be exhibited. "The first four are the immortal Vedas, evidently revealed by God; which are entitled, in one compound word, Rigyajuhsamatʼharva, or, in separate words, Rich, Yajush, Saman, and Atharvan: the Rigveda consists of five sections; the Yajur

* See Works of Sir Wm. Jones, 8vo. vol. iv. p. 93.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

veda, of eighty-six; the Samaveda, of a thousand; and the Atharvaveda, of nine; with eleven hundred s'ac'ha's, or branches, in various divisions and subdivisions. The Vedas in truth are infinite; but were reduced by Vyasa, to this number and order: the principal part of them is that, which explains the duties of man in a methodical arrangement; and in the fourth, is a system of divine ordinances.

From these are deduced the four Upavedas, namely, Ayush, Gandharva, Dhanush, and Sthapatya; the first of which, or Ayurveda, was delivered to mankind by Brahma, Indra, Dhanwantari, and five other deities; and comprises the theory of disorders and medicines, with the practical methods of curing diseases. The second, or music, was invented and explained by Bharata: it is chiefly useful in raising the mind by devotion, to the felicity of the divine nature. The third Upaveda, was composed by Viswamitra, on the fabrication and use of arms and implements

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »