The Mythology of All Races - Vol. 6

The Mythology of All Races - Vol. 6

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The Mythology of All Races - Vol. 6

The Mythology of All Races - Vol. 6

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Excerpt

The mythology of India claims unique interest by virtue of its unparalleled length of life. It is true that not even the discoveries at Boghaz Kyoi render it prudent for us to place the ?gveda at an earlier period than 1500 B.C., and in part at least that collection may come from three centuries later, so that as contrasted with the dates of Egyptian and Babylonian records the earliest monument of Aryan mythology is comparatively recent. In mass of content and in value for mythology, however, these cannot compare with the ?gveda. Of still more importance is the fact that from the period of the ?gveda to the present day, a space of some thirty-five hundred years, we have a mythology which is in constant but organic development. The high mythic systems of Teuton, Celt, and Slav, of Greek and Roman, have perished before the onslaught of a loftier faith and survive in little else than folk-lore. In India, on the contrary, though foreign invasion has often swept over the north-west of the land, though Islam has annexed souls as well as territories, though Christianity (especially in the south) has contributed elements to the faith of the people, still it remains true that the religion and the mythology of the land are genuinely their own and for this reason have in themselves the constant potency of fresh growth. Moreover, amidst the ceaseless change which is the heritage of human things, there is relative stability in the simpler thoughts of the human mind, and as in many parts of India the peasant still labours with the implements and in the mode of his ancestors in periods far remote, so his mind frames the same hypotheses to account for those phenomena of nature which in India more than elsewhere determine irrevocably his weal or his woe . . .

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