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moral precepts, duties, rewards, punishments, purifications, etc. Next to these rank the UPAVEDAS, or supplementary Vedas, of which there are four, treating of disease and medicine, of music, of the fabrication and use of arms, and of the mechanic arts. Next are six VEDANGAS, i. e., members of the Vedas, which are also supplementary to them, relating to the sacred sciences, pronunciation, meter, grammar, explanation of words, astronomy, and ceremonials. Lastly, four UPANGAS, ,called Purana, or history, Nyaya, or logic, Mimansa, or moral philosophy, and Dharmshastra, or jurisprudence. Several of these departments of literature contain numerous treatises. For example, there are six systems of philosophy, eighteen puranas, eighteen siddhanta, or treatises on astronomy, besides works on grammar, logic, etc. In addition to these, there are the Institutes of Manu, a code of civil and religious laws, and the two great epic poems, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, which are sometimes called a fifth Veda.
Our purpose does not call for any detailed account of the contents of these sacred books. It would indeed require a large volume, perhaps many volumes, to do this. The single inquiry before us is, What do they contain that affords any light as to the past duration of our race on earth?
The following estimate of the Sanskrit literature, from the pen of one who had thoroughly studied it, given in the Calcutta Review, will be, perhaps, our best answer to this inquiry :
" The Sanskrit language contains nothing of genuine importance, no national annals, no biography of eminent patriots, statesmen, warriors, philosophers, poets, or others, who have figured on the theater of Indian life, public or private. Not a single page of pure historical matter, unmixed with monstrous and absurd fable, is extant, or probably was ever written in it. It supplies us with no assistance whatever in rescuing from eternal oblivion the worthies or the curses of past ages. It affords no certain clew to the discovery or even the origin of the races who first spoke or adopted it. Fabulous and extravagant legends are all that in this class it furnishes. European ingenuity, penetration, and perseverance, may indeed, by dint of hard and continued labor, elicit a few isolated facts here and there, and by comparison of dates and circumstances, rejecting the crudities and absurdities that have gathered round them, bring them to bear upon some point of ancient story yet in the depths of obscurity. But nothing is certain ; all is only a happy guess, or probable inference, at best.. The very principle of historic narration
appears either to have never entered into the minds of early writers in this language, or else a base and selfish policy led them to falsify, obscure, and mysticize all events, in order to conceal their own usurpa-" tions, violence, and injustice.”
The writer then proceeds to specify particulars in exemplification of these remarks, such as relate to geography, astronomy, music, medicine, the fine arts, etc., and making a partial exception in favor of logic, geometry, and arithmetic, finds little in these treatises worthy of commendation, or as having any value. Or if they contain some truth and real science, it is still mixed with a great deal that is crude, and fanciful, and puerile. He adds, "The real domain of Sanskrit literature is in the departments of grammar, rhetoric, and poetry.” (p. 18.) In this estimate this author is doubtless, in general, correct, though possibly, in some respects, he may be too severe. Missionaries — to which class he belongs — have often been accused of unfair judgments respecting the heathen, especially the Hindus. The explanation is natural and easy, and does not compromise either their ability or disposition to judge fairly. In their every-day work they come into contact with heathenism in all its corruptions, degradation, and sin, and know these to be the legitimate fruit of the doctrines embodied in their
literature. With this knowledge they are not in a state of mind to be carried into ecstasies over a fine piece of poetry, or an exhibition of refined skill in the niceties of grammar and logic, and are not likely to speak of them in terms of high commendation. When they draw a picture of any of these systems, there will of necessity be a dark background of practical heathen life that will impart more or less of its shade to the whole. On the other hand, our western philosopher and learned Orientalist, in the seclusion of his study, from which he steps into the most refined circles of Christian society, examines at his leisure a few of the masterpieces of the heathen poets and philosophers, and is rapt into admiration of them. It is not necessary to weigh one of these judgments against the other. Both may be right from the point of view in which the estimates are made. · It is doubtless unjust to judge the Sanskrit literature by that of later and more enlightened times. Grant that science is found in it intermixed with fable; the same was true of that of all the ancient nations. Excepting perhaps the Greeks, as much credit is due for the successful cultivation of science and art to the Hindus as to any people of that age; and if we go back of the times of Herodotus, they stand without a rival in any department of ancient learning. Professor Max Müller, in his history of Sanskrit literature, gives an interesting comparison between the characters of the Hindus and the Greeks, a single paragraph from which I will quote.
"Greece and India are indeed the two opposite poles in the historical development of the Aryan than. To the Greek, existence is full of life and reality ; to the Hindu, it is a dream and illusion. · The Greek is at home where he is born. All his energies belong to his country: he stands or falls with his party, and is ready to sacrifice even his life to the glory and independence of Hellas. The Hindu enters · this world as a stranger; all his thoughts are directed to another world; he takes no part even where he is driven to act, and when he sacrifices his life it is but to be delivered from it.” (p. 18.)
This is strikingly true. The Greeks were eminently a practical people. This characteristic stands out prominently from the very beginning of their . national existence. The opposite is true of the Hindus. Their speculations in philosophy and religion are almost all connected with a preëxistent state in the past, or an equally shadowy one in the future, or with topics of pure imagination; and it is very remarkable how seldom their literature in any department has to do with the realities of this worldly