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stones or blocks of wood, cut into some shape which have a meaning either obvious or traditional' (p. 480).
There are manifestly two ways only in which the truth of such statements can be tested. We have to ask whether they rest on historical facts or on any logical necessity. Tertium non datur. Now, I can see no logical necessity for admitting even the possibility of any concepts which are not founded on previous percepts. On the contrary, if only we define these terms properly, the existence of concepts without previous percepts would become self-contradictory.
And as to facts, I have no hesitation in saying that, so far as our knowledge of ancient religions reaches at present, they do not support the opinion that religion began anywhere with the general concept of superhuman beings, and that at a later time only these mere beings were connected with differentiating qualities. Logically, no doubt, the general comes first, and the particular follows; but what is first by itself, is not first to us, and in the growth of concepts the historical process is generally the reverse of the logical. I hold that before man could speak even of the infinite sky or Dyaus, he must actually have perceived something infinite, and must have been brought in sensuous contact with something not finite like everything else ; but to conceive an infinite being, or even a number of infinite beings, is a very different process, which comes in earlier, it is true, than we expected, but still much later than the naming and conceiving of the infinite sky, the infinite earth, the infinite sea. .
While the Duke considers that religious thought began with the conception of superhuman beings, and that these were afterwards connected with distinguishing mythological attributes, it seems to me that we must learn the very opposite lesson from history, namely that religious thought began with the naming of a large number of clearly marked and differentiated beings, such as Sky, Dawn, Thunder, Lightning, Storm, Mountains, Trees, etc., and that the concept of superhuman beings arose afterwards, as a concept common to all, when divested of their characteristic differences. In the Veda we look in vain for words of so abstract a character as superhuman beings or personal agencies. Even the words for gods in general, such as deva, bright, vasu, brilliant, asura, living, are still full of physical meaning in the more ancient hymns. We are confronted from the first with such strongly marked dramatic characters as Dyaus, the bright sky, Varuna, the dark sky, Marut, the storms, Agni, the fire, Ushas, the dawn. We can understand the origin of these mythological characters, because in their material aspect at least, whatever may have been suspected behind them, they offered themselves to the eyes and ears of those who framed their names and believed in their existence. But mere superhuman beings, without definite attributes, never presented themselves to their senses, and could never, therefore, have found an entrance into their intellect. Dyaus in the Veda was originally a name of the sky, but of an active and subjective sky. The purely material characteristics of the sky are still there, faintly visible; but they slowly vanish, and in the end there remains the name only, which coupled with pitâ, father, appears in the earliest Aryan prayers, as Dyaushpitâ, Jupiter, Heaven-father, and in the end, even in the language of philosophers, as the Supreme Being. And what applies to the name of Dyaus, applies likewise to the names of other gods. They are names of material objects or phenomena of nature, though all of them with the background of the infinite behind them. They lose their individual character very gradually, and in the end only stand before us sublimised into superhuman beings or personal agencies. The germ of the superhuman, or, as I like to call it by a more general name, of the infinite element, was there from the first, but it was involved as yet in sensuous perception, not yet evolved in a conceptual name.
Early Names of the Infinite. But though these conceptual names of superhuman beings and living agencies are clearly, from an historical point of view, of later growth, it is true nevertheless that we meet with names for the Beyond or the Infinite in documents of great antiquity. I see, however, that some remarks of mine on the early occurrence of names for the Infinite, have caused some misapprehension, which I must try to remove. I expressed my surprise that such a name as Aditi should occur in the Rig-veda, for, so far as we know at present, Aditi is derived from the negative a and dita, bound, so that it seems to have expressed from the beginning an unbound, unbounded, or infinite being. But the Rig-veda, though it is the most ancient document of Aryan thought within our reach, contains relics of different ages, and even its most ancient relics are relics of Aryan thought only, and are separated by an immeasurable distance from what people are pleased to call the beginning of all things.
We can clearly see the linguistic and intellectual detritus on which the Veda rests, and though the occurrence of such words as Aditi will always remain startling, it can never be used to prove that the Vedic Rishis or their distant Aryan ancestors began life with a clear conception and definite name of the Infinite in the abstract.
Мана. My remarks on Mana also have been supposed to mean something very different from what I intended. Manal is the name, not of any individual superhuman being, but it is used, we are told, by most of the Pacific races, in the sense of a supernatural power, distinct from all physical powers, yet acting everywhere in nature, and believed to be conciliated by prayers and sacrifices. If that name is spread over the whole Pacific, we are justified in supposing that it existed before the final separation of the Polynesian races, and such a date, however vague, may, when we deal with illiterate races, be called an early date.
But this is very different from supposing that Mana was the most primitive concept of the whole Polynesian race, and that its whole religion and mythology were founded on it. The mythological and religious language of this race, so far from being what people call primitive or primordial, shows so many antecedents, so much that is already petrified, decayed, and unintelligible, that the Vedic language may be called primitive as compared with it. I never could share the opinion that the thoughts of savage races, simply because they are the thoughts of savage races, carry us back into a more distant antiquity than the thoughts of civilised and literate nations. These so-called savages are, so far as we know, not a day older or younger on the surface of the earth than the present inhabitants of India, China, or even of England. They have probably passed through more changes and chances than our own ancestors, unless we assume that by some special providence they were kept stationary or preserved in spirits for the special benefit of future anthropologists. In the eyes of an historian, therefore, a word like Mana, though extremely curious and instructive, can claim no greater antiquity than the stratum of language in which it has been found. It may be an ancient survival, a mediaeval revival, or a modern imagination, but it cannot possibly be forced into an argument to prove that religion began anywhere with a belief in supernatural beings or living agencies, and not with a naming of the great phenomena of nature behind which such beings or agencies were suspected.
1 Hibbert Lectures, p. 55.
Manito. The last word which I mentioned as a name for a supreme being without any physical attributes was Manito. This word, used by the Red Indians as a name of the Supreme Spirit, has been proved to mean originally no more than Beyond. Here, therefore, there seemed to be another proof that religion among savage people might begin with such abstract concepts as that of Beyond. The fact itself was so curious that I thought it right to point it out, though as we know the word Manito and its various dialectic forms in documents of the last century only, I never under