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the wild imaginings of a more advanced civilisation, but of a more corrupt state of society and religion. The Tri-mūrti or triad of deities has assumed a distinct shape, and while Brahımā has quite fallen into obscurity, Vishnu and Siva have each become supreme in the belief of their respective followers. Vishnu, in his youthful form Krishna, is the object of a sensuous and joyous worship. The gloomy and disgusting worship of Siva, in his terrible forms, has grown side by side with it. The worship of his fierce consort, Devi, has become established, and the foundation has been laid of the obscene and bloody rites afterwards developed in the Tantras. The Veda, in modern Hinduism, is a mere name,
-a name of high authority, often invoked and highly reverenced,-- but its language is unintelligible, and its gods and rites are things of
The modern system is quite at variance with the Vedic writings out of which it grew, and the descendant bears but few marks of resemblance to its remote ancestor.
The Purānas and later writings are the great authorities of modern Hinduism ; their mythology and legends fill the popular mind and mould its thoughts. The wonderful tales of the great poems also exercise a great influence. The heroes of these poems are heroes still; their exploits, with many embellishments and sectarial additions, are recounted in prose and verse, and the tales of Rāma and the Pāndavas, of Hanumat and Rāvana, are still read and listened to with wonder and delight. A host of legends has grown up around the hero Krishna; they attend him from his cradle to his pyre; but the stories of his infancy and his youth are those which are most popular, and interest all classes, especially women and young people. The mild and gentle Rāma, " the husband of one wife," pure in thought and noble in action, is in many places held in the highest honour, and the worship paid to him and his faithful wife Sītā is the purest and least degrading of the many forms of Hindu worship.
This later mythology, with its wonders and marvels, and its equally marvellous explanations of them, is the key to modern Hinduism. It is curious to trace its descent, to contrast such legends as are traceable with their simple beginnings in the Vedic hymns, and so to follow the workings of the mind of a
great people through many centuries. Such a survey supplies important and interesting matter for the history of religion, and gives a clear and complete view of the degradation of a mythology. But for the purposes of comparative mythology the Pauranik legends are of trifling importance. The stories of the Epic poems even are of no great value. It may be, as has been maintained, that they “are simply different versions of one and the same story, and that this story has its origin in the phenomena of the natural world and the course of the day and the year;” but still they are of later date, and afford no direct clue for unravelling the mythology of the Aryan nations.
The most ancient hymns of the Rig-veda are the basis upon which comparative mythology rests, and they have already supplied the means of unfolding the real source and signification of several Greek and Zoroastrian myths. The science is young, and has a wide field before it. Some of its results are beyond doubt, but there are other deductions which have not advanced as yet beyond conjecture and speculation. In the present work some of the more obvious identifications, or proposed identifications, have been mentioned as occasion offered ; in a work of reference like this it would be out of place to have done more. The reader who wishes to pursue the study must consult the writings of Max Müller and the “Aryan Mythology” of the Rev. Sir George Cox. In them and in the books to which they refer he will find ample information, and plenty of materials for investigation and comparison.
TRANSLITERATION AND PRONUNCIATION.
If this work answers the purpose for which it is intended, it will be used by students who are acquainted with the alphabet in which Sanskrit is written, and by readers to whom that alphabet is unknown. Its system of transliteration ought then to be such as to enable a student to restore any word to its original letters, but the ordinary reader ought not to be embarrassed with unnecessary diacritical points and distinctions. The alphabet of the Sanskrit is represented on the following plan :
ā as in last. i , pin.
û rule. ri rill.
ri chagrin. The vowel Iri will not be met with.
xviii TRANSLITERATION AND PRONUNCIATION.
To the uninitiated Englishman the chief difficulty lies in the short “a,' the primary inherent vowel of the Sanskrit, pronounced as in the word 'America. The English alphabet has no distinct letter for this sound, but uses every one of its vowels in turn, and some even of its double vowels to represent it; so it is the 'a' and 'e' in ‘servant,' the 'i'in bird,' the 'o'in word,' the 'u' in 'curd,' the 'y'in 'myrtle,' and the ea' in heard.' The Sanskrit short 'a' has this sound invariably, and unaffected by any combination of consonants; so Sanskrit ' barn' must be pronounced not as the English ‘barn’ but as 'burn.' The pronunciation of the other vowels is sufficiently obvious, The vowel 'ri' is represented in italics to distinguish it from the consonants 'r' and 'i.'
Of the consonants, the cerebral letters 't,'th,''d,''dh,' and 'n,'the palatal sibilant 's,' and the visarga 'h,' are represented in italics. Practically these are the only distinctions necessary. The guttural nasal is used only in combination with a guttural letter (“nk' or 'ng'); the palatal nasal is used only with palatals (nch' and 'nj'), and no other nasal can be combined with these letters. The anuswāra, and the anuswāra only, is used before the sibilants and ‘h, so in'ns,'. nsh,''ns,' and 'nh,' the nasal is the anuswära. The letter m before a semi-vowel may be represented either by m or anuswāra. In all these instances the combinations distinctly indicate the proper nasal, and no discriminative sign is necessary.
Of the pronunciation of the nasals it is only necessary to notice the anuswāra. This, with a sibilant, is a simple n, but before h it is like ng or the French n in bon; so the Sanskrit Sinha, in the modern derivative tongues, is written and pronounced Singh.
The aspirates are simple aspirations of their respective consonants, and make no other change of their sounds; so 'th' is to be pronounced as in the words at home,' and 'ph' as in 'uphill,' never as in “thine' and in physic.' The letter 'g' is always hard as in 'gift.' The palatals are the simple English