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which were peculiar to certain localities or periods or poets. Such words are often better explained by a sound etymology than by the comparison of parallel passages, by which quite disparate meanings may be thus intermingled. Besides, a large number of Vedic hymns has been composed only for sacrificial purposes, and even for special rites, in which many a word has a technical meaning; whereas others are allegorical and mystical, in which many words are not to be taken in their natural, but in a merely figurative sense. For settling the meanings of words in such hymns, a mere comparison of parallel passages taken at random from any place is also insufficient.
The remarks I have made here on the comparison of parallel passages are not meant to discredit their application, but only to caution against regarding them as the only means for solving all difficulties in the Vedic hymns. I am not, however, the first to raise doubts as to the infallibility of this method, for this had been already done by such an eminent Sanskrit scholar as the late Theodor Goldstücker, whose untimely death is to be deeply deplored.
The real merits of this method, just as those of any other, are best tested by the results produced. The first the interpreter of a difficult passage must aim at is to make out a clear sense; if the translation proposed be obscure, or defies even all common sense, its correctness is questionable from the very first. But even if it prove to be clear and intelligible, it is by no means the only sure test that the translator has hit on that sense which was originally intended by the author. We cannot pronounce a translation to be correct before we are fully satisfied with the manner by which the meaning has been arrived at, that is, before all grammatical and lexicographical difficulties have been cleared away and satisfactorily explained. Hence no translation of difficult hymns or verses can be accepted, if it be not accompanied with a commentary, in which respect Max Müller has made a good beginning in his notes on twelve hymns addressed to the Storm-gods. If an unintelligible rendering of Vedic passages is almost a sure test of its incorrectness, there is, on the other hand, a translation which tallies thoroughly with our modern ideas, and reads like a modern song, no longer the expression of the thoughts of the ancient Rishis. It must be in thorough accordance with the notions and conceptions of the Vedic age, and society in general, the nature of the country in which they originated, and the views of the respective poets in particular. In this respect a modern Hindu interpreter is surely in a better position than a European one; for he does not only know his country, its climate, etc., better, but he moves in a society and practises a religion and customs which have grown out of the shoots and sprouts of the Vedic age; whereas our modern civilization has its roots in Hellas, Rome and Palestine-Hindu and Christian civilization have nothing in common. Besides, a Hindu interpreter has a great advantage over every European interpreter, in the important fact that in some parts of India, especially in the Mahratta and Guzerat countries, the Vedic form of worship, which almost exclusively consists in a series of sacrifices, is still extant, and practised up to the present day by the So-called Agnihotris. This enables him to explain a good many exso pressions occurring in the hymns with certainty at once ; whilst the European interpreter has nothing to offer but vague guesses regarding most words that refer to sacrificial matters.
Now, if translations of Vedic hymns made in Europe were tested by the application of all those helps which a Hindu, or even a European residing in India under certain circumstances may enjoy, the apparently clear sense arrived at by guessing at the meaning under comparison of a certain number of parallel passages often proves to be a mere illusion; for in many cases the modern and Christian ideas of the interpreters creep in and alter the original
When epithets of the Vedic gods, such as dhiyāvasu, are interpreted as meaning 'devout,' or 'rich in devotion, then we cannot look upon such a rendering as the adequate expression of the thoughts of the Rishis, since no Hindu has ever viewed his gods in this light from the most ancient times down to the present. When we are further told that the original meaning of the word brahma was devotion,' then this assumption rests only on a misapprehension of Brahmanical ideas and the nature of Vedic sacrifices; for anything like what we Christians call devotion’ was strange to the Brahmanical mind in ancient India, the earliest traces of such a notion being found in the worship of Kệishna, which no one will trace to Vedic sources. In the same manner it is just as little in accordance with Hindu conceptions to interpret the common Sanskrit
word punya as conveying the sense of 'morally good,' or 'righteous,' since our idea of righteousness or goodness is strange to the Hindu mind.
However, the Christian notions which those modern interpreters who scorn native commentaries and information obtained from Brahmanical priests principally import into the Vedas, are not the only source of their shortcomings; for others proceed from a somewhat imperfect acquaintance with Indian rites, customs, and sacrifices. When they believe, for instance, that Vedi is something like our altar, and Veda a kind of broom for sweeping it, one has only to look at both to see that the Vedi is a hole with slightly elevated walls of clay strewn over with Kuśa-grass, and the Veda a small bunch of such grass tied together, which is far too small to be used for sweeping the so-called altar, on which, however, the grass must remain as long as the sacrifice lasts.
Besides, the difficulties of such interpreters as rely upon their powers of conjecture as the principal source of information are often increased by the very simple fact that a good many meanings said to be exclusively Vědic, with which the dictionary is enriched, cannot be reconciled in any way with the sense attributed to the same word in good and trustworthy native vocabularies and the classical Sanskrit literature. When the meaning of a word occurring in the Vedas differs from that attached to it in the common Sanskrit language, which is frequently enough the case, then a connecting link must be sought for to show how the later sense was developed out of the earlier one. Thus the word makha, “sacrifice,' is said to mean merry,' 'gay,' in certain passages of the hymns ; but as there cannot be shown in any reasonable manner how the meaning of * sacrifice originated out of that of “merry,' the latter is doubtful from the very first, and proves more so on further examination of the passages.
Although the results arrived at by the independent interpreters prove in many cases not more, in some even less, satisfactory than those obtained by the Hindu scholars, they are very valuable in other respects. As they carry on their researches in a more methodical way, and bring to bear on them their philological training and acquaintance with comparative philology, difficult grammatical forms and complicated syntactical constructions are often better explained
by them than by the native commentators, who entirely depend upon Pāṇini for their grammatical knowledge.
Notwithstanding all that has been achieved as yet by Hindu and European interpreters, we are still far from being able to understand the Vedic hymns as well as we do the Psalms and the songs of Homer. If Vedic interpretation is to make any progress, it will be indispensable to write thorough commentaries on a suite of hymns like those which we possess on the Psalms and the Prophets. All those interpretations that have as yet been stored up in dictionaries are nothing but first attempts at deciphering the Vedic hymns, but not the decipherment itself.
Though the difficulties to be surmounted be far greater than most people think, there is, however, some hope that we may, in the end, by the application of all the helps that Brahmanical scholarship, the still existing rites and comparative philology can afford, arrive at that sense which the Rishis recorded in their songs
prayers, opening thus fully up the rich mine of the most primitive thoughts of the whole Aryan race.
WHO WROTE THE RAGHUVAÑŚA, ,
AND WHEN ?
BY SHANKAR PANDURANG PANDIT.
Doubts have been raised whether Kâlidâsa the author of the Raghuvañía is identical with that Kâlidâsa who composed the dramas and the poems of Kumarasambhava and Meghadâta. Dr. Weber, in his very learned essay on the Râmâyaņa, thinks that “there is at least some amount of doubt whether we are right in ascribing it (the Raghuvamsa) to the author of the dramas and of the Meghadûta.” I propose here to show that there exists no doubt that the Raghuvañía is the production of the great Kalidasa. In the first place, I may observe that no one in India has up to this time entertained any doubt as to the great poet's authorship of that poem. On the contrary, the tradition handed down from one generation of scholars to another for many centuries is that the same author that composed the dramas also composed the poems. One form in which the tradition has existed, and exists to this day, is the very large number of commentators, who, writing in different centuries and in different places, all ascribe the work to the great poet KalidasaMahakavi-Kalidasa. I have come across no less than nine of these commentaries, and not one of them has a doubt as to who was the author of the poem on which they comment. Of these, one gives his