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air or blown into our face like soap bubbles by an extra-mundane Logos. On the contrary, he knows, and he says so himself, that my starting-point is from a positivist point of view impregnable, and it is exactly this impregnable character of the position I have taken that has roused so much anger among positivist philosophers.
But now comes the strangest of all arguments. The premisses from which I start are admitted to be impregnable, but as the facts in the history of religion are against them, it follows that after all, my premisses, positivist though they may be, must be wrong.
It is generally supposed that when we come to facts, all controversy must end, but we shall see that facts as well as fictions require careful handling.
Rig-veda. I had taken some of my facts from the Rig-veda, not because I consider that these hymns can bring us near to the very cradle of religious concepts, but simply because we possess no literary documents, so far as I know, that can bring us nearer to it, at least on Aryan ground. I maintained that when the Vedic Rishis celebrated the rivers, the dawn, the sky, or Indra, the god of the sky, they did not simply mean the objects which they saw, but also something beyond, call it unknown, indefinite, infinite, or divine.
Here I am flatly contradicted. The Hindu of the older Rig-veda,' we are told (p. 221), does not adore the Infinite which lies within or behind the dawn, but the dawn herself, whosoever that may be. Yes, 'who
1 Gruppe, p. 222, “Der Ausgangspunkt ist vom positivistischen Standpunkt aus unanfechtbar.'
soever that may be,' ŐOTIS TOT' &otiv, and this 'whosoever that may be’ is exactly what I mean by the invisible, the unknown, or the infinite behind the mere splendour of the morning rays. Who ever maintained that the Hindu adored the Infinite in its abstract form, or the Infinite by itself, as lying within or behind the dawn? All I said was that in choosing the dawn as a recipient of his praises, the Vedic poet, whether he was as yet conscious of it or not, meant. something more than the definite dawn, the reflected splendour of the sun, that lasted for a short time every day, and then vanished for ever. He meant something within or behind the dawn which did not vanish, which came again day after day, which manifested itself to his senses, but could never be fully grasped by them. This is so clear and so undeniable that nothing but the weakest objections could be raised against it.
We are assured that nothing was further from the thoughts of the ancient poets than to try to comprehend or actually to grasp the incomprehensible and ungraspable, to fly up to the solar bird and there to see the eternal miracle face to face.' Who ever suggested such wild flights of fancy for the Vedic poets? It is wonderful enough that in their conception of one of their deities, of Aditi, the concept of the infinite should have found so early an expression, though here too probably at first under the image of the dawn or what lies beyond the dawn? We can
1 Aditi, an ancient god or goddess, is in reality the earliest name to express the Infinite ; not the Infinite as the result of a long process of abstract reasoning, but the visible Infinite, visible by the naked eye, the endless expanse beyond the earth, beyond the clouds, beyond the sky. That was called A-diti, the un-bound, the un. bounded ; one might almost say, but for fear of misunderstandings,
see again and again how the germs of the infinite, which are latent in such concepts as that of the dawn from the very beginning, burst out under different forms in the hymns of the Rig-veda.
The Dawn. One of the salient features of the dawn was its widespreading splendour. All the other luminaries had their small circumscribed spheres. The dawn, however, was always called the far-reaching, reaching to the very ends of heaven and earth. Thus we read, * The Dawns adorn themselves with splendours in the ends of the sky 1.'
End and Endless. This end and the ends of heaven and earth are often mentioned as the limit of everything that can be seen. We hear of the enemies of Indra who could not reach the end of heaven and earth ?, and of the birds which at the time of dawn come forth from the ends of heaven 3. Then we meet with questions as to where the end of the waters in heaven may be. In one passage the poet says: Heaven and earth are called at first wide and broad, afterwards dûre-ante, with distant ends (I. 185, 7). Then the roads are mentioned on which day and night wander across heaven and earth, and these roads are distinctly called ananta or endless. Thus we read,
Where is the highest point, where is their lowest, O waters (of heaven), where is your middle, where your end 4 ?' This is how ideas sprout and grow, and this is how the idea of the endless and infinite opens slowly and quietly before our very eyes. the Absolute. Aditi is a name for the distant East, but Aditi is more than the dawn. Aditi is beyond the dawn, and in one place (I. 113, 19) the dawn is called the face of Aditi. (M. M., Hymns to the Maruts, 1869, pp. 230-231. See also Lectures on the Science of Lan. guage, 1864, ii. 547.)
1 Ví añgate diváh ánteshu aktűn--ushásah. Rv. VII. 79, 2.
4 Kvă svit ágram kvă budhnáh âsâm ấpah madhyam kvå vah nûnám ántah. Rv. X. 111, 8.
The same road of the two sisters, that is, of day and night, is endless 1.' Again, · Wide and endless roads go round heaven and earth on all sides 2. After this there was but a small step before the light of the sun could be called endless (I. 115, 5), before heaven was called endless (I. 130, 3; IV. 1, 7), and before the power of several of the gods received the same name. Thus we read, 'The end of thy power, O Indra, cannot be reached 3. The same is said of the might of the Maruts, the storms (I. 167,9; I. 64, 10); and of Vishnu (VII. 99, 2); and at last even of the power of the rivers Sarasvatî and Sindhu (VI. 61, 8; X. 75, 3).
Endless in the Avesta. The same intellectual process which in the Veda is carried on before our eyes in all its completeness, can be watched, though in a more fragmentary form only, in the Avesta also. There, too, we read, for instance, in the XIII Yast (I. 2), the Yast of the Farvardîn (i.e. the Fravashis):
2. Through their brightness and glory, O Zarathustra, I (Ahura Mazda) maintain that sky there above, shining and seen afar, and encompassing this earth all around.
3. It looks like a palace, that stands built of a heavenly 1 Samânáh ádhvâ svásroh anantáh. Rv. I. 113, 3.
? Anantásah urávah visvátah sîm pári dyảvâprithivi yanti pántháh. Ry. V. 47, 2.
3 Nahí te ántah sávasah parináse. Rv. I. 54, 1; see also I. 100, 15; VI. 29, 5.
substance, firmly established, with ends that lie far apart, shining in its body of ruby over the three-thirds (of the earth); it is like a garment inlaid with stars, made of a heavenly substance, that Mazda puts on, along with Mithra and Rashnu and Spenta-Armaiti, and on no side can the eye perceive the end of it.'
This is what I meant when I said that the infinite was perceived in the finite phenomena of nature, till those phenomena themselves were conceived and named as endless beings.
Theogonic Elements. Every one of our perceptions comprises a multitude of ingredients, though we are not aware of them till we call them by a name. We think of the dawn and of heaven and earth at first neither as finite nor infinite; but as soon as our attention is called to their character, we speak of them and conceive them as either finite or infinite. Not every object, however, of our sensuous perception can be thus called and conceived. A stone is not infinite, nor a shell, nor an apple, nor a dog, and hence they have no theogonic capacity. But a river or a mountain, and still more the sky and the dawn, possess theogonic capacity, because they have in themselves from the beginning something going beyond the limits of sensuous perception, something which, for want of a better word, I must continue to call infinite.
All this Professor Gruppe, if he had read with a willing and unprejudiced mind, would easily have discovered in my former explanations, instead of assuring me and other Vedic scholars 'that Vedic poets do not fly up to the solar bird. It is painful to see a real scholar condescend to such unscholarlike manoeuvres.