Page images
PDF
EPUB

other parts of the grammar, abound in examples cited from the Vedas : and here, also, the present text is consonant to those ancient quotations.

Philosophical works, especially the numerous commentaries on the aphorisms of the Mimansa and Vedanta, illustrate and support every position advanced in them, by ample quotations from the Vedas. The object of the Mimansa is to establish the

cogency of precepts contained in scripture, and to furnish maxims for its interpretation; and, for the same purpose, rules of reasoning, from which a system of logic is deducible. The object of the Vedanta is to illustrate the system of mystical theology taught by the supposed revelation, and to shew its application to the enthusiastic pursuit of unimpassioned perfection and mystical intercourse with the divinity. Both are closely connected with the Vedas : and here, likewise, the authenticity of the text is supported by ancient references and citations,

Numerous collections of aphorisms,

[ocr errors]

by ancient authors,* on religious ceremonies, contain, in every line, references to passages of the Vedas. Commentaries on these aphorisms cite the passages

at greater length. Separate treatises also interpret the prayers

used at divers ceremonies. Rituals, some ancient, others modern, contain a full detail of the ceremonial, with all the prayers which are to be recited at the various religious rites for which they are formed. Such rituals are extant, not only for ceremonies which are constantly observed, but for others which are rarely practised; and even for such as have been long since disused. In all, the passages taken

4

* “ The Sutras of Aswalayana, Sanchyayana, Bauddhayana, Catyayana, Latayana, Gobhila, Apastamba, &c.

“ These, appertaining to various Sachas of the Vedas, constitute the calpa, or system of religious obser

I have here enumerated a few only. The list might be much enlarged, from my own collection; and still more so, from quotations by various compilers; for the original works, and their commentaries, as well as compilations from them, are very numerous."

vances,

from the Vedas agree with the text of the general compilation.

“ The Indian legislators, with their commentators, and the copious digests and compilations from their works, frequently refer to the Vedas; especially on those points of the law which concern religion. Here also the references are consistent with the present text of the Indian scripture.

Writers on ethics sometimes draw from the Vedas illustrations of moral maxims; and quote from their holy writ passages at full length, in support of ethical precepts. These quotations are found to agree

with the received text of the sacred books.

Citations from the Indian scripture occur in every branch of literature, studied by orthodox Hindūs. Astronomy, so far as it relates to the calendar, has frequent occasion for reference to the Vedas. Medical writers sometimes cite them; and even annotators on profane poets occasionally refer to this authority, in explaining passages which contain allusions to the sacred text.

“ Even the writings of the heretical sects exhibit quotations from the Vedas. I have met with such in the books of the Jainas, unattended by any indication of their doubting the genuineness of the original, though they do not receive its doctrines, nor acknowledge its cogency.

« In all these branches of Indian literature, while perusing or consulting the works of various authors, I have found perpetual references to the Vedas, and have frequently verified the quotations. On this ground I defend the authentic text of the Indian scripture, as it is now extant ; and although the passages which I have so verified are few, compared with the great volume of the Vedas, yet I have sufficient grounds to argue, that no skill in the nefarious arts of forgery and falsification, could be equal to the arduous task of fabricating large works, to agree with the very numerous citations, pervading thousands of volumes, composed on divers sub

jects, in every branch of literature, and dispersed through the various nations of Hindūs inhabiting Hindústān and the Dekhin."*

“ It is necessary in this country, as every where else, to be guarded against literary impositions. But doubt and suspicion should not be carried to an extreme length. Some fabricated works, some interpolated passages, will be detected by the sagacity of critics in the progress of researches into the learning of the East; but the greatest part of the books received by the learned among the Hindūs, will assuredly be found genuine. I do not doubt that the Vedas, of which an account has been here given, will appear to be of this description."

* Mr. Colebrooke adheres to the Persian nomenclature of the Peninsula; by which the country, from the mountains that separate it from Cashmire, &c. down as far as the river Nerbudda, or about the 22d degree of latitude, is called Hindūstan, and from thence southward, Deckhan, or Dekhin.

« PreviousContinue »