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are these strange, savage, grotesque invocations of the Storm-gods, the inspired strains of the ancient sages of India ? Is this the wisdom of the East ? Is this the primeval revelation ? Even scholars of high reputation joined in the outcry, and my friends hinted to me that they would not have wasted their life on such a book.
Now, suppose a geologist had brought to light the bones of a fossil animal, dating from a period anterior to any in which traces of animal life had been discovered before, would any young lady venture to say by way of criticism, “Yes, these bones are very curious, but they are not pretty!” Or suppose a new Egyptian statue had been discovered, belonging to a dynasty hitherto unrepresented by any statues, would even a schoolboy dare to say, “Yes, it is very nice, but the Venus of Milo is nicer.” Or suppose an old MS. is brought to Europe, do we find fault with it, because it is not neatly printed? If a chemist discovers a new element, is he pitied because it is not gold ? If a botanist writes on germs, has he to defend himself, because he does not write on flowers ? Why, it is simply because the Veda is so different from what it was expected to be, because it is not like the Psalms, not like Pindar, not like the Bhagavadgitâ, it is because it stands by itself, and reveals to us the earliest germs of religious thought, such as they really were ; it is because it places before us a language, more primitive than any we knew before; it is because its poetry is what you call savage, uncouth, stupid, horrible, it is for that very reason that it was worth while to dig and dig till the old buried city was recovered, showing us what man was, what we were, before we had reached the level of David, the level of Homer, the level of Zoroaster, showing us the very cradle of our thoughts, our words, and our deeds. I am not disappointed with the Veda, and I shall conclude my address with the last verses of the last hymn, which you have now in your hands, -verses which thousands of years ago may have been addressed to a similar meeting of Aryan fellow-men, and which are not inappropriate to our own : Sám gakkhadhvam sám vadadhvam sám vah mánāmsi gānatām, Deváh bhāgám páthā púrvel samgānānáh upásate. Samanáh mántrah sámitih samāní samānám mánah sahá hittám eshām,
'I read yathāpūrve as one word.
Samānám mántram abhí mantraye vah samānéna vah havíshā guhomi.
“Come together! Speak together! Let your minds be concordant -the gods by being concordant receive their share, one after the other. Their word is the same, their counsel is the same, their mind is the same, their thoughts are at one: I address to you the same word, I worship you with the same sacrifice. Let your endeavour be the same! Let your hearts be the same! Let your
mind be the same, that it may go well with you."
I declare the Aryan Section of our Congress opened.
HINDU DOCTRINE OF EXPIATION.
BY PROFESSOR STENZLER.
The doctrine of expiation (prāyaçcitta) is one of the most powerful means in the hands of the Hindu priests for exercising an influence on the people at large.
It generally forms the third principal part of the contents of their law-books. The two other parts are the ācāra, the customs and manners of family and social life, and the vyavahāra, or judicial proceeding, that is to say, civil and criminal law, the execution of which constitutes a duty of the king.
There is one circumstance which affords a peculiar interest to all historical researches on the gradual development of Hindu life in its various spheres and directions. This is the possibility they offer of tracing back almost every institution of the present time through thousands of years, until we observe its first germ in the Vedic times.
And this whole development of Hindu life has mainly proceeded from the spirit of the nation itself.
From time to time indeed a foreign seed has fallen on Indian soil ; the Hindus have nursed and assimilated it to their own life, but it has not been able essentially to alter the national character of the people. The present generation still remembers the same gods whom their forefathers adored thousands of years ago. Even to-day every father impresses upon the mind of his son those rules of behaviour which we find traced out with such nicety in the ancient law-books. Even now the goods and chattels of a father are entailed
upon those members of the family who are entitled to inherit them by the Dharmaçāstra of the Mānaras. The nations of Europe offer a remarkable contrast to this appear
One of the most important points is the change of religion. The whole dough of Paganism has been leavened by Christianity, the power of which even the Greek spirit, whatever we may think of the charms of its productions or of the clearness and strength of its argumentations, has not been able to withstand. Moreover, a great many customs, originating in Roman Paganism, but afterwards dressed in a Christian garment, have been obtruded on the other nations of Europe by the missionaries of the Roman Catholic Church, under the pretence of their being essential elements of the Christian religion.
From this point of view it will be of some interest to observe how the doctrine of atonement or expiation, which even at the present time has so enormous an influence on Hindu life, has originated and has been gradually changed, so as to receive its present form.
I will try, as far as my literary resources allow, to give a broad outline of the history of this doctrine.
The word by which atonement or expiation is designated is prū. yaçeitta, or in the older writings prāyaçoitti.
It does not occur in the songs of the Rigveda, but we find it very often employed in the prosaic writings of the Vedic period, in the Brāhmaṇas and in the Sūtras, though in a sense different from that which it has in later times.
It does not mean there an expiation of a sin committed, but merely a remedy for redressing a grievance or removing a mischief. I will quote only one of numberless instances; we find in the T. S. (2, 1, 4, 1) the following passage: asāv ūdityo na vyarocata, tasmai devāḥ prāyaçcittim aichan : “Yonder sun did not shine, then the gods sought for a remedy," where the commentary appropriately explains it by pratikära.
A very common application of the word is the following. Whenever in a sacrifice any negligence has been committed or an untoward accident has happened, the success of the sacrifice would be entirely annihilated unless a prāyaçcitta, a remedy, were instantly applied. So, e.g., when the sacrificer has incautiously uttered an improper worldly word, the prāyaçcitta consists in immediately pronouncing a verse addressed to Vishnu. Other prāyaçoittas are ordained, when the sacrificer by imprudence has chosen a priest who by some reason is not entitled to co-operation in the sacrifice, or when any vessel used in the sacrifice is broken by accident, and so in similar cases.
With the same meaning the word appears also in the çrauta Sutras, e.g. Açv. Çr. S. (3, 10): vidhyaparādhe prāyaçcittiḥ, When any precept (regarding the sacrifice) has been violated, a prāyaçcitti must take place," that is to say, a remedy must be employed to remove the evil consequences of this violation.
In later times the word is more directly transferred to the moral sphere. In Pāraskara’s Gși. Sū. (3, 12) we find an avakārņi-prayaçcitta, i.e. a prāyaçcitta of him who has broken the vow of chastity. But even here it does not clearly appear whether Pāraskara considers the deed committed as a sin, to which the man has been tempted, "drawn away of his own lust and enticed," and which, therefore, he might have avoided by strength of will, or whether he takes it merely for a mishap, which befell him without his own culpability. Even the public confession of his sin, which Pāraskara ordains (svakarma parikirtayan), may be taken as pointing to either side. Both notions seem to be blended with each other, and indeed we observe that by and by moral evils, by which a man is visited, are treated exactly in the same manner as corporal diseases.
Passing over to later times, we find the moral prāyaçcitta, or the real atonement or expiation, treated of in the Dharmasūtras, and in their transformations the Dharmaçāstras.
There is a remarkable passage in Gautama's Dharmasūtra, which, if I am not misled by the very incorrect MS. of the Berlin Library, may be thus literally translated.
“I have declared the law of the castes and the law of the classes (açrama).
"Now this person (or this soul ? ayam purushah) becomes defiled by a reprehensible deed.
"Such a deed is : performing a sacrifice for a person for whom one must not offer sacrifices; eating forbidden food; uttering words which ought not to be said ; not doing what is ordained, or doing what is forbidden.
“For such a deed he must perform an expiation.