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Menu is considered by the Hindūs as a sacred lawgiver.
"In the eleven discourses which he addressed to the Asiatic Society, on the history, civil and natural, the antiquities, arts, sciences, philosophy, and literature of Asia, and on the origin and families of nations, he has discussed the subjects which he professed to explain, with a perspicuity which delights and instructs, and in a style which never ceases to please."*
* Memoirs of his life, vol. ii. p. 266.
OF THE CLE
of despotion a
OF THE CREATION-THE LAWS, AND INSTI-
THE candid translator of the Laws of Menu, observes in his preface to them,* that though many blemishes are to be found in these laws, as containing a system of despotism and priestcraft, both, indeed, limited by law, but artfully conspiring to give mutual support though with mutual checks— "nevertheless, a spirit of sublime devotion, of benevolence to mankind, and of amiable tenderness to all sentient creatures,
* Sir William Jones's Works, vol. vii. p. 88. Mr. Colebrooke has since translated from the Sanscrit a Digest of the Hindū Laws, it was published first at Calcutta, and afterwards at London, in 1802, in three volumes in 8vo.
pervades the whole work; the style of it has a certain austere majesty, that sounds like the language of legislation, and extorts a respectful awe; the sentiments of independence on all beings but God, and the harsh admonitions even to kings, are truly noble, and the many panegyrics on the Gayatri, the Mother, as it is called, of the Veda, prove the author to have adored not the visible material sun, but that divine and incomparably greater light, to use the words of the most venerable text in the Indian scripture, which illumines all, delights all, from which all proceed, to which all must return, and which alone can irradiate our intellects."*
Some persons have suggested the idea that the Hindu and Cretan lawgivers were perhaps the same person, and that Minos is a Greek corruption of Menu ; hence they fix the existence of the latter only about 1500 years before our æra; but, were this hypothesis even admitted, we must allow many ages before that, as necessary to bring an immensely extensive and numerous nation to such a polished and flourishing state,
as those very l
Indian and Cret
person. If a C
shews that they
It is supposed that certain sages having addressed Menu, requesting him to apprize them of the sacred laws, he began with speaking of the CREATION as follows:
"This universe existed only in the first divine idea yet unexpanded, as if involved in darkness, imperceptible, undefinable, undiscoverable by reason, and undiscovered by revelation, as if it were wholly immersed in sleep:
"Then the sole self-existing power, himself undiscerned, but making this world
as those very laws prove the Hindu nation to have attained at the time they were framed. Besides, I am at a loss to conceive what is intended by saying that the Indian and Cretan lawgivers were one and the same person. If a Cretan had knowledge of the laws of Menu, he may have borrowed from them; he may also have borrowed his name, though we confess not to discover any strong analogy between them; nothing shews that they lived about the same epoch; and if we suppose that the Hindus adopted the Cretan laws, we must deny all that is known of their civil and religious history and institutions.
discernible, with five elements* and other principles of nature, appeared with undiminished glory, expanding his idea, or dispelling the gloom.
He, whom the mind alone can perceive, whose essence eludes the external organs, who has no visible parts, who exists from eternity, even He, the soul of all beings, whom no being can comprehend, shone forth.
He, having willed to produce various beings from his own divine substance, first with a thought created the waters, and placed in them a productive seed:
"That seed became an egg, bright as
The fifth element with the Hindus, we believe, is what we understand by ether.
In the verses ascribed to Orpheus, it is said that God having produced a large egg, broke it, and that from it came out the heavens and the earth. The same allegory was made use of by Pythagoras, to whom some ancient authors attribute the laws that others give to Orpheus. The Orphæ, though the name be taken from the latter, were followers of the doctrines of Pytha