THE ARCTIC HOME IN THE VEDAS

 

Being Also a New Key to the Interpretation of

Many Vedic Texts and Legends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By

 

Lokamanya Bâl Gangâdhar Tilak

 

The proprietor of the Kesari and the Mahratta newspapers,

The author of the Orion or Researches into the Antiquity of the Vedas,

The Gita Rahasya (a Book on Hindu Philosophy) etc., etc.

 

 

Publishers

Messrs. TILAK BROS

Gaikwar Wada

Poona City

 

 

1903

 

 

 


 

 

 

 Lokamanya Bâl Gangâdhar Tilak

 

 

Balawant Gagādhar iak  (July 23, 1856 - August 1, 1920), was an Indian nationalist, social reformer and freedom fighter who was the first popular leader of the Indian Independence Movement and is known as "Father of the Indian unrest." Tilak sparked the fire for complete independence in Indian consciousness, and is considered the father of Hindu nationalism as well.

“Self Rule is our birthright, and We shall have it!”

This famous quote of his is very popular and well-remembered in India even today. Reverently addressed as Lokmanya (meaning "Beloved of the people" or "Revered by the world"), Tilak was a scholar of Indian history, Sanskrit, Hinduism, mathematics and astronomy.

He was born on in a village chikhali, near Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, into a middle class Chitpavan Brahmin family. Tilak had a divisive philosphy. He was among India's first generation of youth to receive a modern, college education. After graduation, Tilak began teaching mathematics in a private school in Pune and later became a journalist. He became a strong critic of the Western education system, feeling it demeaning to Indian students and disrespectful to India's heritage. He organized the Deccan Education Society to improve the quality of education for India's youth. He taught Mathematics at Fergusson College in Pune. Tilak founded the Marathi daily Kesari (Lion) which fast became a popular reading for the common people of India. Tilak strongly criticized the government for its brutality in suppression of free expression, especially in face of protests against the division of Bengal in 1905, and for denigrating India's culture, its people and heritage. He demanded the British immediately give the right to self-government to India's people.

Tilak joined the Indian National Congress in the 1890s, but soon fell into opposition of its liberal-moderate attitude towards the fight for self-government.In 1891 Tilak opposed the Age of Consent bill introduced after the death of a child bride from sexual injuries. The act raised the marriageable age of a child bride from 10 to 12 which was already 16 in Britain since 1885. This was one of the first significant reforms introduced by the British since Indian rebellion of 1857. The Congress and other liberals whole-heartedly supported it but Tilak raised a battle-cry terming it as 'Interference in Hindu Religion'. Since then he was seen as a hard-core Hindu nationalist. When in 1897 bubonic plague spread from Bombay to Pune the Government became jittery and Assistant Collector of Pune, Mr. Rand and his associates, employed extremely severe and brutal methods to stop the spread of the disease by destroying even 'clean homes'. Even people who were not infected were carried away and in some cases, the carriers even looted property of the affected people. When the authorities turned a blind eye to all these excesses, furious Tilak took up people's cause by publishing inflammatory articles in his paper Kesari, quoting Hindu Scripture Bhagwat Gita that no blame could be attached to anyone who killed an oppressor without any thought of reward. Following this, on 27 June, Rand and his assistant were killed. Tilak was charged with incitement to murder and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment. When he emerged from prison he had become a national hero and adopted a new slogan 'Swaraj(Self-Rule)is my birth right and I will have it'.

Tilak opposed the moderate views of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, and was supported by fellow Indian nationalists Bipin Chandra Pal in Bengal and Lala Lajpat Rai in Punjab. They were referred to as the Lal-Bal-Pal triumvirate. In 1907,the annual session of the Congress Party was held at Surat(Gujrat). Trouble broke out between the moderate and the extremist factions of the party over the selection of the new president of the Congress and the party split into the Garam Dal (Extremists), led by Tilak, Pal and Lajpat Rai, and the Naram Dal (Moderates). Tilak as well as Gopal Krishna Gokhale regarded this as a 'catastrophe' for the national movement and Tilak did his best to avoid it. But it was too late and older moderates were glad get rid of the troublemakers(extremists). H.A.Wadya, one of the closest associate of Sir Pherozshah Mehta, wrote ' The union of these men with the Congress is the union of a diseased limb to a healthy body and the only remedy is surgical severence '.

On 30 April 1908 two Bengali youths, Prafulla Chaki and Kudiram Bose, threw a bomb on a carriage at Muzzafurpur in order to kill a District Judge Douglass Kenford but erroneously killed some women travelling in it. While Chaki committed suicide when caught, Bose was tried and hanged. British papers screamed for vengeance and their shrill cries became even more insistent when Police raided and found a cache of arms at Calcutta. But Tilak in his paper Kesari defended the revolutionaries and called for immediate Swaraj or Self-rule. The Government swiftly arrested him for sedition. He asked a young Muhammad Ali Jinnah to represent him. But the British judge convicted him and he was imprisoned from 1908 to 1914 in Mandalay, Burma.

Upon his release, Tilak re-united with his fellow nationalists and re-joined the Indian National Congress in 1916. He also helped found the All India Home Rule League in 1916-18 with Annie Besant and Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Tilak, who started his political life as a Maratha Protagonist, during his later part of life progressed into a fine nationalist after his close association with Bengal nationalists following the partition of Bengal. When asked in Calcutta whether he envisioned a Maratha type of government for Free India, Tilak replied that the Maratha dominated Governments of 16th and 17th centuries were outmoded in 20th century and he wanted a genuine federal system for Free India where every religion and race were equal partners. Only such a form of Government would be able to safe-guard India's freedom he added

Tilak was a critic of Mahatma Gandhi's strategy of non-violent, civil disobedience. Although once considered an extremist revolutionary, in his later years Tilak had considerably mellowed. He favored political dialogue and discussions as a more effective way to obtain political freedom for India. His writings on Indian culture, history and Hinduism spread a sense of heritage and pride amongst Indians for India's ancient civilization and glory as a nation. Some consider Tilak as the spiritual and political leader of Mahatma Gandhi. But Gandhi himself considered Gopal Krishna Gokhale, a contemporary of Tilak, as his political mentor. When Tilak died in 1920, Gandhi paid his respects at his cremation in Bombay, along with 200,000 people. Gandhi called Tilak "The Maker of Modern India". Tilak is also today considered the father of Hindu Nationalism. He was the idol of Indian revolutionary Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, who penned the political doctrine of Hindutva.

Later, in 1903, he wrote the much more speculative Arctic Home in the Vedas. In it he argued that the Vedas could only have been composed in the Arctics, and the Aryan bards brought them south after the onset of the last Ice age.

Tilak also authored 'Geetarahasya' - the analysis of 'Karmayoga' in the Bhagavadgita, which is known to be gist of the Vedas and the Upanishads.

Other collections of his writings include:

  • The Hindu philosophy of life, ethics and religion (published in 1887).
  • Vedic chronology and vedanga jyotisha.
  • Letters of Lokamanya Tilak, edited by M. D. Vidwans.
  • Selected documents of Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, 1880-1920, edited by Ravindra Kumar.
  • Trial of Tilak.

 


 

 

PREFACE

 

The present volume is a sequel to my Orion or Researches into the Antiquity of the Vedas, published in 1893. The estimate of Vedic antiquity then generally current amongst Vedic scholars was based on the assignment of arbitrary period of time to the different strata into which the Vedic literature is divided; and it was believed that the oldest of these strata could not, at the best, be older than 2400 B.C. In my Orion, however, I tried to show that all such estimates, besides being too modest, were vague and uncertain, and that the astronomical statements found in the Vedic literature supplied us with far more reliable data for correctly ascertaining the ages of the different periods of Vedic literature. These astronomical statements, it was further shown, unmistakably pointed out that the Vernal equinox was in the constellation of Miga or Orion (about 4500 B.C.) during the period of the Vedic hymns, and that it had receded to the constellation ofthe Kittikâs, or the Pleiades (about 2500 B.C.) in the days of the Brâhmaas. Naturally enough these results were, at first, received by scholars in a skeptical spirit. But my position was strengthened when it was found that Dr. Jacobi, of Bonn, had independently arrived at the same conclusion, and, soon after, scholars like Prof. Bloomfield, M. Barth, the late Dr. Bulher and others, more or less freely, acknowledged the force of my arguments. Dr. Thibaut, the late Dr. Whitney and a few others were, however, of opinion that the evidence adduced by me was not conclusive. But the subsequent discovery, by my friend the late Mr. S. B. Dixit, of a passage in the Shatapatha Brâhmaa, plainly stating that the Kittikâs never swerved, in those days, from the due east i.e., the Vernal equinox, has served to dispel all lingering doubts regarding the age of the Brâhmaas; while another Indian astronomer, Mr. V. B. Ketkar, in a recent number of the Journal  of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, has mathematically worked out the statement in the Taittirîya Brâhmaa (III, 1, 1, 5), that Bihaspati, or the planet Jupiter, was first discovered when confronting or nearly occulting the star Tihya, and shown that the observation was possible only at about 4650 B.C., thereby remarkably confirming my estimate of the oldest period of Vedic literature. After this, the high antiquity of the oldest Vedic period may, I think, be now taken as fairly established.

           

But if the age of the oldest Vedic period was thus carried back to 4500 B.C., one was still tempted to ask whether we had, in that limit, reached the Ultima Thule of the Aryan antiquity. For, as stated by Prof. Bloomfield, while noticing my Orion in his address on the occasion of the eighteenth anniversary of John Hopkin’s University, “the language and literature of the Vedas is, by no means, so primitive as to place with it the real beginnings of Aryan life.” “These in all probability and in all due moderation,” he rightly observed, “reach back several thousands of years more,” and it was, he said, therefore “needless to point out that this curtain, which seems to shut off our vision at 4500 B.C., may prove in the end a veil of thin gauze.” I myself held the same view, and much of my spare time during the last ten years has been devoted to the search of evidence which would lift up this curtain and reveal to us the long vista of primitive Aryan antiquity. How I first worked on the lines followed up in Orion, how in the light of latest researches in geology and. archeology bearing on the primitive history of man, I was gradually led to a different line of search, and finally how the conclusion, that the ancestors of the Vedic ihis lived in an Arctic home in inter-Glacial times, was forced on me by the slowly accumulating mass of Vedic and Avestic evidence, is fully narrated in the book, and need not, therefore, be repeated in this place. I desire, however, to take this opportunity of gratefully acknowledging the generous sympathy shown to me at a critical time by that venerable scholar Prof. F. Max Müller, whose recent death was mourned as a personal loss by his numerous admirers throughout India. This is not the place where we may, with propriety, discuss the merits of the policy adopted by the Bombay Government in 1897 Suffice it to say that in order to put down certain public excitement, caused by its own famine and plague policy, the Government of the day deemed it prudent to prosecute some Vernacular papers in the province, and prominently amongst them the Kesari, edited by me, for writings which were held to be seditious, and I was awarded eighteen months’ rigorous imprisonment. But political offenders in India are not treated better than ordinary convicts, and had it not been for the sympathy and interest taken by Prof. Max Müller, who knew me only as the author of Orion, and other friends, I should have been deprived of the pleasure,— then the only pleasure, — of following up my studies in these days. Prof. Max Müller was kind enough to send me a copy of his second edition of the ig-Veda, and the Government was pleased to allow me the use of these and other books, and also of light to read for a few hours at night. Some of the passages from the ig-Veda, quoted in support, of the Arctic theory in the following pages, were collected during such leisure as I could get in these times. It was mainly through the efforts of Prof. Max Müller, backed by the whole. Indian press, that I was released after twelve months; and in the very first letter I wrote to Prof. Max Müller after my release, I thanked him sincerely for his disinterested kindness, and also gave him a brief summary of my new theory regarding the primitive Aryan home as disclosed by Vedic evidence. It was, of course, not to be expected that a scholar, who had worked all his life on a different line, would accept the new view at once, and that too on reading a bare outline off the evidence in its support. Still it was encouraging to hear from him that though the interpretations of Vedic passages proposed by me were probable, yet my theory appeared to be in conflict with the established geological facts. I wrote in reply that I had already examined the question from that stand-point, and expected soon to place before him the whole evidence in support of my view. But, unfortunately  I have been deprived of this pleasure by his deeply mourned death which occurred soon after.

 

The first manuscript of the book was written at the end of 1898, and since then I have had the advantage of discussing the question with many scholars in Madras, Calcutta, Lahore, Benares and other places during my travels in the different parts of India. But I hesitated to publish the book for a long time, — a part of the delay is due to other causes, — because the lines of investigation had ramified into many allied sciences such as geology, archeology, comparative mythology and so on; and, as I was a mere layman in these, I felt some diffidence as to whether I had correctly grasped the bearing of the latest researches in these sciences. The difficulty is well described by Prof. Max Müller in his review of the Prehistoric Antiquities of Indo-Europeans, published in the volume of his Last Essays. “The ever-increasing division and sub-division,” observes the learned Professor, “of almost every branch of human knowledge into more special branches of study make the specialist, whether he likes it or not, more and more dependent on the judgment and the help of his fellow-workers. A geologist in our day has often to deal with questions that concern the mineralogist, the chemist, the archeologist, the philologist, nay, the astronomer, rather than the geologist pur et simple, and, as life is too short for all this, nothing is left to him but to appeal to his colleagues for counsel and help. It is one of the great advantages of University life that any one, who is in trouble about some question outside his own domain, can at once get the very best information from his colleagues, and many of the happiest views and brightest solutions of complicated problems are due, as is well-known, to this free intercourse, this scientific give and take in our academic centers.” And again, “Unless a student can appeal for help to recognized authorities on all these subjects, he is apt to make brilliant discoveries, which explode at the slightest touch of the specialist, and, on the other hand, to pass by facts which have only to be pointed out in order to disclose their significance and far-reaching importance.

 

People are hardly aware of the benefit which every branch of science derives from the free and generous exchange of ideas, particularly in our Universities, where every body may avail himself of the advise and help of his colleagues, whether they warn him against yet impossible theories, or call his attention to a book or an article, where the very point, that interests him, has been fully worked out and settled once for all.” But alas! It is not given to us to move in an atmosphere like this, and small wonder if Indian students are not found to go beyond the stage of passing the examinations. There is not a single institution in India, nor, despite the University Commission, can we hope to have any before long, where one can get all up-to-date information on any desired subject, so easily obtainable at a seat of learning in the West; and in its absence the only course open to a person, investigating a particular subject, is, in the words of the same learned scholar, “to step boldly out of his own domain, and take an independent survey of the preserves of his neighbors, even at the risk of being called “an interloper, an ignoramus, a mere dilettante,” for, “whatever accidents he may meet with himself, the subject itself is sure to be benefited.” Working under such disadvantages, I was, therefore, glad, when, on turning the pages of the first volume of the tenth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, recently received, I found that Prof. Geikie, in his article on geology, took the same view of Dr. Croll’s calculations, as summarized at the end of the second chapter of this book. After stating that Croll’s doctrine did not make way amongst physicists and astronomers, the eminent geologist says that more recently (1895) it has been critically examined by Mr. E. P. Culverwell, who regards it as “a vague speculation, clothed indeed with delusive semblance of severe numerical accuracy, but having no foundation in physical fact, and built up of parts which do not dovetail one into the other.” If Dr. Croll’s calculations are disposed of in this way, there remains nothing to prevent us from accepting the view of the American geologists that the commencement of the post-Glacial period cannot be placed at a date earlier than 8000 B.C.

 

It has been already stated that the beginnings of Aryan civilization must be supposed to date back several thousand years before the oldest Vedic period; and when the commencement of the post-Glacial epoch is brought down to 8000 B.C., it is not at all surprising if the date of primitive Aryan life is found to go back to it from 4500 B.C., the age of the oldest Vedic period. In fact, it is the main point sought to be established in the present volume. There are many passages in the ig-Veda, which, though hitherto looked upon as obscure and unintelligible, do, when interpreted in the light of recent scientific researches, plainly disclose the Polar attributes of the Vedic deities, or the traces of an ancient Arctic calendar; while the Avesta expressly tells us that the happy land of Airyana Vaêjo, or the Aryan Paradise, was located in a region where the sun shone but once a year, and that it was destroyed by the invasion of snow and ice, which rendered its climate inclement and necessitated a migration southward. These are plain and simple statements, and when we put them side by side with what we know of the Glacial and the post-Glacial epoch from the latest geological researches, we cannot avoid the conclusion that the primitive Aryan home was both Arctic and inter-Glacial. I have often asked myself, why the real bearing of these plain and simple statements should have so long remained undiscovered; and let me assure the reader that it was not until I was convinced that the discovery was due solely to the recent progress in our knowledge regarding the primitive history of the human race and the planet it inhabits that I ventured to publish the present volume. Some Zend scholars have narrowly missed the truth, simply because 40 or 50 years ago they were unable to understand how a happy home could be located in the ice-bound regions near the North Pole. The progress of geological science in the latter half of the last century has, however, now solved the difficulty by proving that the climate at the Pole during the inter-Glacial times was mild, and consequently not unsuited for human habitation. There is, therefore, nothing extraordinary, if it be left to us to find out the real import of these passages in the Veda and Avesta. It is true that if the theory of an Arctic and inter-Glacial primitive Aryan home is proved, many a chapter in Vedic exegetics, comparative mythology, or primitive Aryan history, will have to be revised or rewritten, and in the last chapter of this book I have myself discussed a few important points which will be affected by the new theory. But as remarked by me at the end of the book, considerations like these, howsoever useful they may be in inducing caution in our investigations, ought not to deter us from accepting the results of an inquiry conducted on strictly scientific lines. It is very hard, I know, to give up theories upon which one has worked all his life. But, as Mr. Andrew Lang has put it, it should always be borne in mind that “Our little systems have their day, or their hour: as knowledge advances they pass into the history of the efforts of pioneers.” Nor is the theory of the Arctic home so new and startling as it appears to be at the first sight. Several scientific men have already declared their belief that the original home of man must be sought for in the Arctic regions; and Dr. Warren, the President of the Boston University, has apticipated me, to a certain extent, in his learned and suggestive work, the Paradise Found or the Cradle of the Human Race at the North Pole, the tenth edition of which was published in America in 1893. Even on strict philological grounds the theory of a primitive Aryan home in Central Asia has been now almost abandoned in favor of North Germany or Scandinavia; while Prof. Rhys, in his Hibbert Lectures on Celtic Heathendom, is led to suggest “some spot within the Arctic circle” on purely mythological considerations. I go only a step further, and show that the theory, so far as the primitive Aryan home is concerned, is fully borne out by Vedic and Avestic traditions, and, what is still more important, the latest geological researches not only corroborate the Avestic description of the destruction of the Aryan Paradise, but enable us to place its existence in times before the last Glacial epoch. The evidence on which I rely is fully set forth in the following pages; and, though the question is thus brought for the first time within the arena of Vedic and Avestic scholarship,. I trust that my critics will not prejudge me in any way, but give their judgment, not on a passage here or an argument there, — for, taken singly, it may not sometimes be found to be conclusive, — but on the whole mass of evidence collected in the book, irrespective of how far-reaching the ultimate effects of such a theory may be.

 

            In conclusion, I desire to express my obligations to my friend and old teacher Prof. S. G. Jinsivâle, M.A., who carefully went through the whole manuscript, except the last chapter which was subsequently written, verified all references, pointed out a few inaccuracies, and made some valuable suggestions. I have also to acknowledge with thanks the ready assistance rendered to me by Dr. Râmkisha Gopal Bhâṇḍârkar, C.I.E., and Khân Bahâdur Dr. Dastur Hoshang Jamâspji the High Priest of the Parsis in the Deccan, whenever I had an occasion to consult them. Indeed, it would have been impossible to criticize the Avestic passage so fully without the willing co-operation of the learned High Priest and his obliging Deputy Dastur Kaikobâd. I am also indebted to Prof. M. Ragâchârya M.A., of Madras, with whom I had an opportunity of discussing the subject, for some critical suggestions, to Mr. Shrinivâs Iyengar, B.A., B.L., of the Madras High Court Bar, for a translation of Lignana’s Essay, to Mr. G. R. Gogte, B.A., L.L.B., for preparing the manuscript for the press, and to my friend Mr. K. G. Oka, who helped me in reading the proof-sheets, and but for whose care many errors would have escaped my attention. My thanks are similarly due to the Managers of the Ânandâsharma and the Fergusson College for free access to their libraries and to the Manager of the Ârya-Bhûhaa Press for the care bestowed on the printing of this volume. It is needless to add that I am alone responsible for the views embodied in the book. When I published my Orion I little thought that I could bring to this stage my investigation into the antiquity of the Vedas; but it has pleased Providence to grant me strength amidst troubles and difficulties to do the work, and, with

humble remembrance of the same, I conclude in the words of the well-known consecratory formula, —

 

 

POONA:March, 1903B. G. TILAK

 

 

 

 

 

 

Publishers’ Note

 

            On the occasion of the birth centenary of Lok. B. G. TILAK, we have the proud privilege to offer to the discriminating readers this 2nd reprint of his famous work “The Arctic Home In The Vedas,” published by the Author in 1903 and reprinted in 1925.

 

J. S. TILAK

Poona, March 1956

 

 


 

THE ARCTIC HOME IN THE VEDAS

 

 

CHAPTER I

PREHISTORIC TIMES

 

The Historic Period — Preceded by myths and traditions — The Science of Mythology — Fresh impulse given to it by Comparative Philology — Unity of Aryan races and languages — The system of interpreting myths, and the theory of Asiatic Home — Recent discoveries in Geology and Archaeology — Requiring revision of old theories — The Vedas still partially unintelligible — New key to their interpretation supplied by recent discoveries — The Ages of Iron, Bronze and Stone — Represent different stages of civilization in Prehistoric times — The Ages not necessarily synchronous in different countries — Distinction between Neolithic and Paleolithic or new and old Stone Age — The Geological eras and periods — Their correlation with the three Ages of Iron, Bronze and Stone — Paleolithic Age probably inter-glacial — Man in Quaternary and Tertiary eras — Date of the Neolithic Age — 5000 B.C. from lake dwellings — Peat-mosses of Denmark — Ages of Beech, Oak and Fir — Date of the Paleolithic or the commencement of the Post-Glacial period — Different estimates of European and American geologists — Freshness of fossil deposits in Siberia — Favors American estimate of 8000 years — Neolithic races — Dolicho-cephalic and Brachy-cephalic — Modern European races descended from them — Controversy as to which of these represent the Primitive Aryans in Europe — Different views of German and French writers — Social condition of the Neolithic races and the primitive Aryans — Dr. Schrader’s view — Neolithic Aryan race in Europe cannot be regarded as autochthonous — Nor descended from the Paleolithic man — The question of the original Aryan home still unsettled.

 

 

            If we trace the history of any nation backwards into the past, we come at last to a period of myths and traditions which eventually fade away into impenetrable darkness. In some cases, as in that of Greece, the historic period goes back to 1000 B.C., while in the case of Egypt the contemporaneous records, recently unearthed from ancient tombs and monuments, carry back its history up to about 5000 B.C. But in either case the historic period, the oldest limit of which may be taken to be 5000 or 6000 B.C., is preceded by a period of myths and traditions; and as these were the only materials available for the study of prehistoric man up to the middle of the nineteenth century, various attempts were made to systematize these myths, to explain them rationally and see if they shed any light on the early history of man. But as observed by Prof. Max Müller, “it was felt by all unprejudiced scholars that none of these systems of interpretation was in the least satisfactory.” “The first impulse to a new consideration of the mythological problem” observes the same learned author “came from the study of comparative philology.” Through the discovery of the ancient language and sacred books of India — a discovery, which the Professor compares with the discovery of the new world, and through the discovery of the intimate relationship between Sanskrit and Zend on the one hand and the, languages of the principal races of Europe on the other, a complete revolution took place in the views commonly entertained of the ancient history of the world.* (* See Lectures on the Science of Language, Vol. II, pp. 445-6.)

 

 It was perceived that the languages of the principal European nations — ancient and modern — bore a close resemblance to the languages spoken by the Brahmans of India and the followers of Zoroaster; and from this affinity of the Indo-Germanic languages it followed inevitably that all these languages must be the off-shoots or dialects of a single primitive tongue, and the assumption of such a primitive language further implied the existence of a primitive Aryan people. The study of Vedic literature and classical Sanskrit by Western scholars thus gradually effected a revolution in their ideas regarding the history and culture of man in ancient times. Dr. Schrader in his work on the Prehistoric Antiquities of the Aryan Peoples gives an exhaustive summary of the conclusions arrived at by the methods of comparative philology regarding the primitive culture of the Aryan people, and those that desire to have further information on the subject must refer to that interesting book. For our present purpose it is sufficient to state that comparative mythologists and philologists were in the sole possession of this field, until the researches of the latter half of the nineteenth century placed within our reach new materials for study of man not only in prehistoric times but in such remote ages that compared with them the prehistoric period appeared to be quite recent.

 

            The mythologists carried on their researches at a time when man was believed to be post-glacial and when the physical and geographical surroundings of the ancient man were assumed not to have been materially different from those of the present day. All ancient myths were, therefore, interpreted on the assumption that they were formed and developed in countries, the climatic or other conditions of which varied very little, if at all from those by which we are now surrounded. Thus every Vedic myth or legend was explained either on the Storm or the Dawn theory, though in some cases it was felt that the explanation was not at all satisfactory. India was only a Storm-God and Vitra the demon of drought or darkness brought on by the daily setting of the sun. This system of interpretation was first put forward by the Indian Etymologists and though it has been improved upon by Western Vedic scholars, yet up to now it has remained practically unchanged in character. It was again believed that we must look for the original home of the Aryan race somewhere in Central Asia and that the Vedic hymns, which were supposed to be composed after the separation of the Indian Aryans from the common stock, contained the ideas only of that branch of the Aryan race which lived in the Temperate zone. The scientific researches of the latter half of the nineteenth century have, however, given a rude shock to these theories. From hundreds of stone and bronze implements found buried in the various places in Europe the archaeologists have now established the chronological sequence of the Iron, the Bronze and the Stone age in times preceding the historic period. But the most important event of the latter half of the last century, so far as it concerns our subject, was the discovery of the evidence proving the existence of the Glacial period at the close of Quaternary era and the high antiquity of man, who was shown to have lived not only throughout the Quaternary but also in the Tertiary era, when the climatic conditions of the globe were quite different from those in the present or the Post-Glacial period. The remains of animals and men found in the Neolithic or Paleolithic strata also threw new light on the ancient races inhabiting the countries where these remains were found; and it soon became evident that the time-telescope set up by the mythologists must be adjusted to a wider range and the results previously arrived at by the study of myths and legends must be checked in the light of the facts disclosed by these scientific discoveries. The philologists had now to be more cautious in formulating their views and some of them soon realized the force of the arguments advanced on the strength of these scientific discoveries. The works of German scholars, like Posche and Penka, freely challenged the Asiatic theory regarding the original home of the Aryan race and it is now generally recognized that we must give up that theory and seek for the original home of the Aryans somewhere else in the further north. Canon Taylor in his Origin of the Aryans has summed up the work done during the last few years in this direction. “It was” he says, “mainly a destructive work,” and concludes his book with the observation that “the whilom tyranny of the Sanskritists is happily overpast, and it is seen that hasty philological deductions require to be systematically checked by the conclusions of prehistoric archeology, crania logy, anthropology, geology and common sense.” Had the remark not been used as a peroration at the end of the book, it would certainly be open to the objection that it unnecessarily deprecates the labors of the comparative mythologists and philologists. In every department of human knowledge old conclusions have always to be revised in the light of new discoveries, but for that reason it would never be just to find fault with those whose lot it was to work earlier in the same field with scanty and insufficient materials.

 

            But whilst the conclusions of the philologists and mythologists are thus being revised in the light of new scientific discoveries, an equally important work yet remains to be done. It has been stated above that the discovery of the Vedic literature imparted a fresh impulse to the study of myths and legends. But the Vedas themselves, which admittedly form the oldest records of the Aryan race, are as yet imperfectly understood. They had already grown unintelligible to a certain extent even in the days of the Brâhmaas several centuries before Christ, and had it not been for the labors of Indian Etymologists and Grammarians, they would have remained a sealed book up to the present time. The Western Scholars have indeed developed, to a certain extent, these Native methods of interpretation with the aid of facts brought to light by comparative philology and mythology. But no etymological or philological analysis can help us in thoroughly understanding a passage which contains ideas and sentiments foreign or unfamiliar to us. This is one of the principal difficulties of Vedic interpretation. The Storm or the Dawn theory may help us in understanding some of the legends in this ancient book. But there axe passages, which, in spite of their simple diction, are quite unintelligible on any of these theories, and in such cases Native scholars, like Sâyaa, are either content with simply paraphrasing the words, or have recourse to distortion of words and phrases in order to make the passages yield a sense intelligible to them; while some of the Western scholars are apt to regard such texts as corrupt or imperfect. In either case, however, it is an undoubted fact that some Vedic texts are yet unintelligible, and, therefore, untranslatable. Prof. Max Müller was fully alive to these difficulties. “A translation of the ig-Veda,” he observes in his introduction to the translation of the Vedic hymns in the Sacred Books of the East series, “is a task for the next century,”* (* See S. B. E. Series, Vol. XXXII, p. xi. )

 

and the only duty of the present scholars is to” reduce the untranslatable portion to a narrower and narrower limit,” as has been done by Yâska and other Native scholars. But if the scientific discoveries of the last century have thrown a new light on the history and culture of man in primitive times, we may as well expect to find in them a new key to the interpretation of the Vedic myths and passages, which admittedly preserve for us the oldest belief of the Aryan race. If man existed before the last Glacial period and witnessed the gigantic changes which brought on the Ice Age, it is not unnatural to expect that a reference, howsoever concealed and distant, to these events would be found in the oldest traditionary beliefs and memories of mankind; Dr. Warren in his interesting and highly suggestive work the Paradise Found or the Cradle of the Human Race at the North Pole has attempted to interpret ancient myths and legends in the light of modern scientific discoveries, and has come to the conclusion that the original home of the whole human race must be sought for in regions near the North Pole. My object is not so comprehensive. I intend to confine myself only to the Vedic literature and show that if we read some of the passages in the Vedas, which have hitherto been considered incomprehensible, in the light of the new scientific discoveries we are forced to the conclusion that the home of the ancestors of the Vedic people was somewhere near the North Pole before the last Glacial epoch. The task is not an easy one, considering the fact that the Vedic passages, on which I rely, had to be and have been, hitherto either ignored or explained away somehow, or misinterpreted one way or another by Native and European scholars alike. But I hope to show that these interpretations, though they have been provisionally accepted, are not satisfactory and that new discoveries in archaeology, and geology provide us with a better key for the interpretation of these passages. Thus if some of the conclusions of the mythologist and the philologist are overthrown by these discoveries, they have rendered a still greater service by furnishing us with a better key for the interpretation of the most ancient Aryan legends and the results obtained by using the new key cannot, in their turn, fail to throw further light on the primitive history of the Aryan race and thus supplement, or modify the conclusion now arrived at by the archaeologist and the geologist.

 

            But before proceeding to discuss the Vedic texts which point out to a Polar home, it is necessary to briefly state the results of recent discoveries in archaeology, geology and paleontology. My summary must necessarily be very short, for I propose to note down only such facts as will establish the probability of my theory from the geological and paleontological point of view and for this purpose I have freely drawn upon the works of such well-known writers as Lyell, Geikie, Evans, Lubbock, Croll, Taylor and others. I have also utilized the excellent popular summary of the latest results of these researches in Samuel Laing’s Human Origins and other works. The belief, that man is post-glacial and that the Polar regions were never suited for human habitation, still lingers in some quarters and to those who still hold this view any theory regarding the Polar home of the Aryan race may naturally seem to be a priori impossible. It is better, therefore, to begin with a short statement of the latest scientific conclusions on these points.

 

            Human races of earlier times have left ample evidence of their existence on the surface of this globe; but like the records of the historic period this evidence does not consist of stately tombs and pyramids, or inscriptions and documents. It is of a humbler kind and consists of hundreds and thousands of rude or polished instruments of stone and metal recently dug out from old camps, fortifications, burial grounds (tumuli), temples, lake-dwellings &c. of early times spread over the whole of Europe; and in the hands of the archaeologist these have been found to give the same results as the hieroglyphics in the hands of the Egyptologist. These early implements of stone and metals were not previously unknown, but they had not attracted the notice of scientific experts till recently and the peasants in Asia and Europe, when they found them in their fields, could hardly make any better use of them than that of worshipping the implements so found as thunderbolts or fairy arrows shot down from the sky. But now after a careful study of these remains, archaeologists have come to the conclusion that these implements, whose human origin is now undoubtedly established can be classified into those of Stone (including horn, wood or bone), those of Bronze and those of Iron, representing three different stages of civilization in the progress of man in prehistoric times. Thus the implements of stone, wood or bone, such as chisels, scrapers, arrow-heads, hatches, daggers, etc. were used when the use of metal was yet unknown and they were gradually supplanted first by the implements of bronze and then of iron, when the ancient man discovered the use of these metals. It is not to be supposed, however, that these three different periods of early human civilization were divided by any hard and fast line of division. They represent only a tough classification, the passage from one period into another being slow and gradual. Thus the implements of stone must have continued to be used for a long time after the use of bronze became known to the ancient man, and the same thing must have occurred as he passed from the Bronze to the Iron age. The age of bronze, which is a compound of copper and tin in a definite proportion, requires an antecedent age of copper; but sufficient evidence is not yet found to prove the separate existence of copper and tin ages, and hence it is considered probable that the art of making bronze was not invented in Europe, but was introduced there from other countries either by commerce or by the Indo-European race going there from outside.* (* Lubbock’s Prehistoric Times, 1890 Ed., pp. 4 and 64).

 

Another fact which requires to be noted in connection with these ages is that the Stone or the Bronze age in one country was not necessarily synchronous with the same age in another country. Thus we find a high state of civilization in Egypt at about 6000 B.C., when the inhabitants of Europe were in the early stages of the Stone age. Similarly Greece had advanced to the Iron age, while Italy was still in the Bronze period and the West of Europe in the age of Stone. This shows that the progress of civilization was slow in some and rapid in other places, the rate of progress varying according to the local circumstances of each place. Broadly speaking, however, the three periods of Stone, Bronze and Iron may be taken to represent the three stages of civilization anterior to the historic period.

 

            Of these three different ages the oldest or the Stone age is further divided into the Paleolithic and the Neolithic period, or the old and the new Stone age. The distinction is based upon the fact that the stone implements of the Paleolithic age are found to be very rudely fashioned, being merely chipped into shape and never ground or polished as is the case with the implements of the new Stone age. Another characteristic of the Paleolithic period is that the implements of the period are found in places which plainly show a much greater antiquity than can be assigned to the remains of the Neolithic age, the relics of the two ages being hardly, if ever, found together. The third distinction between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic age is that the remains of the Paleolithic man are found associated with those of many great mammals, such as the cave bear, the mammoth and wooly-haired rhinoceros that became either locally or wholly extinct before the appearance of the Neolithic man on the stage. In short, there is a kind of hiatus or break between the Paleolithic and Neolithic man requiring a separate classification and treatment for each. It may also be noted that the climatic conditions and the distribution of land and water in the Paleolithic period were different from those in the Neolithic period; while from beginning of the Neolithic period the modern conditions, both geographical and climatic, have prevailed almost unaltered up to the present time.

 

            To understand the relation of these three ages within the geological periods into which the history of the earth is divided  we must briefly consider the geological classification. The geologist takes up the history of the earth at the point where the archaeologist leaves it, and carries it further back into remote antiquity. His classification is based upon an examination of the whole system of stratified rocks and not on mere relics found in the surface strata. These stratified rocks have been divided into five principal classes according to the character of the fossils found in them, and they represent five different periods in the history of our planet. These geological eras like the three ages of Stone, Bronze and Iron, cannot be separated very sharply from each other. But taken as a whole we can clearly distinguish one era from another by its characteristic fossil remains. Each of these geological ages or eras is again subdivided into a number of different periods. The order of these Eras and Periods, beginning with the newest, is as follows:

 

Eras

Periods

 

Post-Tertiary or Quaternary

 

Recent (Post-Glacial)

Pleistocene (Glacial)

 

Tertiary or Cainozoic

 

Pliocene

Miocene

Oligocene

Eocene

 

Secondary or Mesozoic

 

Cretaceon

Jurassic

Triassic

 

 

 

Primary or Paleozoic

 

Permian

Carboniferous.

Devonian, and Old

Red Sandstone

Silurian

Cambrian

Archæan or Eozoic

Fundamental Gneiss

 

Thus the oldest of the stratified rocks at present known is the Archæan or Eozoic. Next in chronological order come the Primary or the Paleozoic, the Secondary or the Mesozoic the Tertiary or Cainozoic, and last the Quaternary.

 

The Quaternary era, with which alone we are here concerned, is sub-divided into the Pleistocene or the Glacial, and the Recent or the Post-Glacial period, the close of the first and the beginning of the second being marked by the last Glacial epoch, or the Ice Age, during which the greater portion of northern Europe and America was covered with an ice-cap several thousand feet in thickness. The Iron age, the Bronze age, and the Neolithic age come under the Recent or the Post-Glacial period, while the Paleolithic age is supposed to fall in the Pleistocene period, though some of the Paleolithic remains are post-glacial, showing that the Paleolithic man must have survived the Ice Age for some time. Latest discoveries and researches enable us to carry the antiquity of man still further by establishing the fact that men existed even in the Tertiary era. But apart from it, there is, now, at any rate, overwhelming evidence to conclusively prove the wide-spread existence of man throughout the Quaternary era, even before the last Glacial period.

 

            Various estimates have been made regarding the time of the commencement of the Neolithic age, but the oldest date assigned does not exceed 3000 B.C., a time when flourishing empires existed in Egypt and Chaldea. These estimates are based on the amount of silt which has been found accumulated in some of the smaller lakes in Switzerland since the lake-dwellers of the Neolithic period built their piled villages therein. The peat-mosses of Den mark afford means for another estimate of the early Neolithic period in that country. These mosses are formed in the hollows of the glacial drift into which trees have fallen, and become gradually converted into peat in course of time. There are three successive periods of vegetation in these peat beds, the upper one of beach, the middle one of oak and the lowest of all, one of fir. These changes in the vegetation are attributed to slow changes in the climate and it is ascertained, from implements and remains found in these beds, that the Stone age corresponds mainly with that of Fir and partly with that of Oak, while the Bronze ague agrees mainly with the period of Oak and the Iron with that of Beech. It has been calculated that about 16,000 years will be required for the formation of these peat-mosses and according to this estimate we shall have to place the commencement of the Neolithic age in Denmark, at the lowest, not later than 10,000 years ago. But these estimates are not better than mere approximations, and generally speaking we may take the Neolithic age in Europe as commencing not later than 5000 B.C.

 

            But when we pass from the Neolithic too the Paleolithic period the difficulty of ascertaining the commencement of the latter becomes still greater. In fact we have here to ascertain the time when the Post-Glacial period commenced. The Paleolithic man must have occupied parts of Western Europe shortly after the disappearance of the Ice age and Prof. Geikie considers that there are reasons for supposing that he was inter-glacial. The Glacial period was characterized by geographical and climatic changes on an extensive scale. These changes and the theories regarding the cause or the causes of the Ice Age will be briefly stated in the next chapter. We are here concerned with the date of the commencement of the Post-Glacial period, and there are two different views entertained by geologists on the subject. European geologists think that as the beginning of the Post-Glacial period was marked with great movements of elevation and depression of land, and as these movements take place very slowly, the commencement of the Post-Glacial period cannot be placed later than 50 or 60 thousand years ago. Many American geologists, on the other hand, are of opinion that the close of the last Glacial period must have taken place at a much more recent date. They draw this inference from the various estimates of time required for the erosion of valleys and accumulation of alluvial deposits since the last Glacial period. Thus according to Gilbert, the post-glacial gore of Niagara at the present rate of erosion must have been excavated within 7000 years.* (* See Geikie’s Fragments of Earth Lore, p. 296; also Dr. Bonney’s Story of our Planet, p. 560. )

 

Other American geologists from similar observations at various other places have arrived at the conclusion that not more than about 8000 years have elapsed since the close of the Glacial period. This estimate agrees very well with the approximate date of the Neolithic period ascertained from the amount of silt in some of the lakes in Switzerland. But it differs materially from the estimate of the European geologists. It is difficult to decide, in the present state of our knowledge, which of these estimates is correct. Probably the Glacial and the Post-Glacial period may not, owing to local causes have commenced or ended at one and the same time in different places, just as the ages of Stone and Bronze were not synchronous in different countries. Prof. Geikie does not accept the American estimate on the ground that it is inconsistent with the high antiquity of the Egyptian civilization, as ascertained by recent researches. But if no traces of glaciation are yet found in Africa this objection loses its force, while the arguments by which the American view is supported remain uncontradicted.

 

            There are other reasons which go to support the same view. All the evidence regarding the existence of the Glacial period comes from the North of Europe and America; but no traces of glaciation have been yet discovered in the Northern Asia or North Alaska. It is not to be supposed, however, that the northern part of Asia did not enjoy a genial climate in. early time. As observed by Prof. Geikie “everywhere throughout this vast region alluvial deposits are found packed up with the remains of mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, bison, and horse;” and “the fossils are usually so well preserved that on one occasion the actual carcass of a mammoth was exposed in so fresh a state that dogs ate the flesh thereof.”* (* See Geikie’s Great Ice Age, 1st Ed., p. 495; Dr. Croll’s Climate and Cosmology, p. 179. )

 

These and other equally indisputable facts clearly indicate the existence in Siberia of a mild and genial climate at a time, which, from the freshness of the fossil remains, cannot be

supposed to be removed from the present by several thousands of years. Again in North Africa and Syria we find in dry regions wide-spread fluviatile accumulations which are believed to be indications of rainy seasons, contemporaneous with the Glacial period of Europe.* (* See Geikie’s Fragments of Earth Lore, p. 252.)

 

 

If this contemporaneity can be established, the high estimate of time for the commencement of the Post-Glacial period in Europe will have to be given up, or at any rate much curtailed.

 

            As regards the races which inhabited Europe in these early ages, the evidence furnished by human remains or skulls shows that they were the direct ancestors of the races now living in the different parts of Europe. The current classification of the human races into Aryan, Semitic, Mongolian, &c. is based upon the linguistic principle; but it is evident that in dealing with ancient races the archaeologist and the geologist cannot adopt this principle of division, inasmuch as their evidence consists of relics from which no inference can be drawn as to the language used by the ancient man. The shape and the size of the skull have, therefore, been taken as the chief distinguishing marks to classify the different races of prehistoric times. Thus if the extreme breadth of a skull is three-fourths, or 75 per cent, of its length or lower, it is classed as long-headed; or dolicho-cephalic, while if the breadth is higher than 83 per cent of the length the skull is said to be brachy-cephalic or broad-headed; the intermediate class being styled ortho-cephalic, or sub-dolicho-cephalic, or sub-brachy-cephalic according as it approaches one or the other of these types. Now from the examination of the different skulls found in the Neolithic beds it has been ascertained that Europe i n those early days was inhabited by four different races, and that the existing European types are directly descended from them. Of these four races two were dolicho-cephalic, one tall and one short; and two brachy-cephalic similarly divided. But the Aryan languages are, at present, spoken in Europe by races exhibiting the characteristics of all these types. It is, however, evident that one alone of these four ancient races can be the real representative of the Aryan race, though there is a strong difference of opinion as to which of them represented the primitive Aryans. German writers, like Posche and Penka, claim that the tall dolicho-cephalic race, the ancestors of the present Germans, were the true representative Aryans; while French writers, like Chavee and M. de Mortillet, maintain that the primitive Aryans were brachy-cephalic and the true Aryan type is represented by the Gauls. Canon Taylor in his Origin of the Aryans sums up the controversy by observing that when two races come in contact, the probability is that the speech of the most cultured will prevail, and therefore “it is” he says “an easier hypothesis to suppose that the dolicho-cephalic savages of the Baltic coast acquired Aryan speech from their brachy-cephalic neighbors, the Lithuanians, than to suppose, with Penka, that they succeeded in some remote age in Aryanising the Hindus, the Romans and the Greeks.”* (* See Taylor’s Origin of the Aryans, p. 243.)

 

            Another method of determining which of these four races represented the primitive Aryans in Europe is to compare the grades of civilization attained by the undivided Aryans, as ascertained from linguistic paleontology, with those attained by the Neolithic races as disclosed by the remains found in their dwellings. As for the Paleolithic man his social condition appears to have been far below that of the undivided Aryans; and Dr. Schrader considers it as indubitably either non-Indo-European or pre-Indo-European in character. The Paleolithic man used stone hatchets and bone needles, and had attained some proficiency in the art of sculpture and drawing, as exhibited by outlines of various animals carved bones &c.; but he was clearly unacquainted with the potter’s art and the use of metals. It is only in the Neolithic period that we meet with pottery in the piled villages of lake-dwellers in Switzerland. But even the oldest lake-dwellers seem to have been unacquainted with the use of metals and wagons, both of which were familiar to the undivided Aryans. No trace of woolen cloth is again found in these lake-dwellings, even when sheep had become numerous in the Bronze age. But with these exceptions the culture of the Swiss lake-dwellings is considered by Dr. Schrader to be practically of the same character as the culture common to the European members of the Indo-Germanic family, and he, therefore, ventures to suggest, though cautiously, that “from the point of view there is nothing to prevent our assuming that the most ancient inhabitants of Switzerland were a branch of the European division” of the Aryan race.*(* Dr. Schrader’s Pre-historic Antiquities of the Aryan Peoples translated by Jevons, Part IV, Ch. xi, p. 368.)

 

 

            But though recent discoveries have brought to light these facts about the human races inhabiting Europe in pre-historic times, and though we may, in accordance with them, assume that one of the four early Neolithic races represented the primitive Aryans in Europe, the question whether the latter were autochthonous, or went there from some other place and then succeeded in Aryanising the European races by their superior culture and civilization, cannot be regarded as settled by these discoveries. The date assigned to the Neolithic period as represented by Swiss lake-dwellers is not later than 5000 B.C., a time when Asiatic Aryans were probably settled on the Jaxartes, and it is admitted that the primitive Aryans in Europe could not have been the descendants of the Paleolithic man. It follows, therefore, that if we discover them in Europe in the early Neolithic times they must have gone there from some other part of the globe. The only other alternative is to assume that one of the four Neolithic races in Europe developed a civilization quite independently of their neighbors, an assumption, which is improbable on its face. Although, therefore, we may, in the light of recent scientific discoveries, give up the theory of successive migrations into Europe from a common home of the Aryan race in Central Asia in early times, yet the question of the primeval home of the Aryan race, a question with which we are mainly concerned in this book, still remains unsolved. When and where the primitive Aryan tongue was developed is again another difficult question which is not satisfactorily answered. Canon Taylor, after comparing the Aryan and Ural-Altaic languages, hazards a conjecture that at the close of the reindeer, or the last period of the Paleolithic age, a Finnic people appeared in Western Europe, whose speech remaining stationary is represented by the agglutinative Basque, and that much later, at the beginning of the pastoral age, when the ox had been tamed, a taller and more powerful Finno-Ugric people developed in Central Europe the inflexive Aryan speech.* (* The Origin of the Aryans, p. 296.)

 

 

But this is merely a conjecture, and it does not answer the question how the Indo-Iranians with their civilization are found settled in Asia at a time when Europe was in the Neolithic age. The Finnic language again discloses a number of culture words borrowed from the Aryans, and it is unlikely that the language of the latter could have got its inflection from the Finnic language. A mere similarity of inflectional structure is no evidence whatsoever for deciding who borrowed from whom, and it is surprising that the above suggestion should come from scholars, who have assailed the theory of successive Aryan migrations from a common Asiatic home, a theory which, amongst others, was based on linguistic grounds. Why did the Finns twice migrate from their home is also left unexplained. For reasons like these it seems to me more probable that the Finns might have borrowed the culture words from the Aryans when they came in contact with them, and that the Aryans were autochthonous neither in Europe nor in Central Asia, but had their original home somewhere near the North Pole in the Paleolithic times, and that, they migrated from this place southwards in Asia and Europe, not by any “irresistible impulse,” but by unwelcome changes in the climatic conditions of their original home. The Avesta preserves traditions which fully support this view. But these have been treated as valueless by scholars, who worked up their theories at a time when man was regarded as post-glacial, and the Avestic traditions were, it was believed, not supported by any Vedic authority. But with the time-telescope of a wider range supplied to us by recent scientific discoveries it has become possible to demonstrate that the Avestic traditions represent a real historical fact and that they are fully supported by the testimony of the Vedas. The North Pole is already considered by several eminent scientific men as the most likely place where plant and animal life first originated; and I believe it can be satisfactorily shown that there is enough positive evidence in the most ancient books of the Aryan race, the Vedas and the Avesta, to prove that the oldest home of the Aryan people was somewhere in regions round about the North Pole. I shall take up this evidence after examining the climatic conditions of the Pleistocene or the Glacial period and the astronomical characteristics of the Arctic region in the next two chapters.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER II

 

THE GLACIAL PERIOD

 

Geological climate — Uniform and gentle in early ages — Due to different distribution of land and water — Climatic changes in the Quaternary era — The Glacial epoch — Its existence undoubtedly proved — Extent of glaciation — At least two Glacial periods — Accompanied by the elevation and depression of land — Mild and genial Interglacial climate even in the Arctic regions — Various theories regarding the cause of the Ice Age stated — Lyell’s theory of geographical changes — Showing long duration of the Glacial period — Croll’s theory — Effect of the procession of the equinoxes on the duration and intensity of seasons — The cycle of 21,000 years — The effect enhanced by the eccentricity of earth’s orbit — Maximum difference of 33 days between the duration of summer and winter — Sir Robert Ball’s calculations regarding the average heat received by each hemisphere in summer and winter — Short and warm summers and long and cold winters, giving rise to a Glacial epoch — Dr. Croll’s extraordinary estimate regarding the duration of the Glacial epoch — Based on the maximum value of the eccentricity of the earth’s orbit — Questioned by astronomers and geologists — Sir Robert Ball’s and Newcomb’s view — Croll’s estimates inconsistent with geological evidence — Opinions of Prof. Geikie and Mr. Hudleston — Long duration of the Glacial period — Summary of results.

 

 

            The climate of our globe at the present day is characterized by a succession of seasons, spring, summer, autumn, and winter, caused by the inclination of the earth’s axis to the plane of the ecliptic. When the North Pole of the earth is turned away from the sun in its annual course round that luminary, we have winter in the northern and summer in the southern hemisphere, and vice versa when the North Pole is turned towards the sun. The cause of the rotation of seasons in the different hemispheres is thus very simple, and from the permanence of this cause one-may be led to think that in the distant geological ages the climate of our planet must have been characterized by similar rotations of hot and cold seasons. But such a supposition is directly contradicted by geological evidence. The inclination of the earth’s axis to the plane of ecliptic, or what is technically called the obliquity of the ecliptic, is not the sole cause of climatic variations on the surface of the globe. High altitude and the existence of oceanic and aerial currents, carrying and diffusing the heat of the equatorial region to the other parts of the globe, have been found to produce different climates in countries having the same latitude. The Gulf Stream is a notable instance of such oceanic currents and had it not been for this stream the climate in the North-West of Europe would have been quite different from what it is at present. Again if the masses of land and water be differently distributed from what they are at present, there is every reason to suppose that different climatic conditions will prevail on the surface of the globe from those which we now experience, as such a distribution would materially alter the course of oceanic and aerial currents going from the equator to the Poles. Therefore, in the early geological ages, when the Alps were low and the Himalayas not yet upheaved and when Asia and Africa were represented only by a group of islands we need not be surprised if, from geological evidence of fossil fauna and flora, we find that an equable and uniform climate prevailed over the whole surface of the globe as the result of these geographical conditions. In Mesozoic and Cainozoic times this state of things appears to have gradually changed. But though the climate in the Secondary and the Tertiary era was not probably as remarkably uniform as in the Primary, yet there is clear geological evidence to show that until the close of the Pliocene period in the Tertiary era the climate was not yet differentiated into zones and there were then no hot and cold extremes as at present. The close of the Pliocene and the whole of the Pleistocene period was marked by violent changes of climate bringing on what is called the Glacial and Inter-Glacial epochs. But it is now conclusively established that before the advent of this period a luxuriant forest vegetation, which can only grow and exist at present in the tropical or temperate climate, flourished in the high latitude of Spitzbergen, where the sun goes below the horizon from November till March, thus showing that a warm climate prevailed in the Arctic regions in those days.

 

 

            It was in the Quaternary or the Pleistocene period that the mild climate of these regions underwent sudden alterations producing what is called the Glacial period. The limits of this Glacial period may not so exactly coincide with those of the Pleistocene as to enable us to say that they were mathematically co-extensive, but, still, in a rough sense we may take these two periods as coinciding with each other. It is impossible within the limits of a short chapter to give even a summary of the evidence proving the existence of one or more Glacial epochs in the Pleistocene period. We may, however, briefly indicate its nature and see what the geologists and the physicists have to say as regards the causes that brought about such extensive changes of climate in the Quaternary era. The existence of the Glacial period is no longer a matter of doubt though scientific men are not agreed as to the causes which produced it. Ice-sheets have not totally disappeared from the surface of the earth and we can still watch the action of ice as glaciers in the valleys of the Alps or in the lands near the Pole, like Greenland which is still covered with a sheet of ice so thick as to make it unfit for the growth of plants or the habitation of animals. Studying the effects of glacial action in these places geologists have discovered abundant traces of similar action of ice in former times over the whole of Northern Europe and America. Rounded and scratched stones, till or boulder-clay, and the rounded appearance of rocks and mountains clearly point out that at one period in the history of our globe northern parts of Europe and America must have been covered for a long time with a sheet of ice several hundreds of feet in thickness. The ice which thus invaded the northern portion of America and Europe did not all radiate from the Pole. The evidence of the direction of the striae, or scratches engraved on rocks by ice, undoubtedly proves that the ice-caps spread out from all elevated places or mountains in different directions. These ice-sheets of enormous thickness covered the whole of Scandinavia, filled up the North Sea; invaded Britain down to the Thames valley, greater portion of Germany and Russia as far south as Moscow and almost as far east as the Urals. It is calculated that at least a million of square miles in Europe and more in North America were covered by the debris of rocks ground down by these glaciers and ice-caps, and it is from this debris that geologists now infer the existence of an Ice Age in early times. The examination of this debris shows that there are at least two series of boulder clay indicating two periods of glaciation. The debris of the second period has disturbed the first layer in many places, but enough remains to show that there were two distinct beds of boulder clay and drifts, belonging to two different periods. Prof. Geikie mentions four such Glacial periods, with corresponding Inter-Glacial periods, as having occurred in succession in Europe during the Pleistocene period. But though this opinion is not accepted by other geologists, yet the existence of two Glacial epochs, with an intervening Inter-Glacial period, is now considered as conclusively established.

 

            A succession of cold and warm climates must have characterized these Glacial and Inter-Glacial periods which were also accompanied by extensive movements of depression and elevation of land, the depression taking place after the land was weighed down with the enormous mass of ice. Thus a period of glaciation was marked by elevation, extreme cold and the invasion of the ice-caps over regions of the present Temperate zone; while an inter-glacial period was accompanied by depression of land and milder and congenial climate which made even the Arctic regions habitable. The remains of the Paleolithic man have been found often imbedded between the two boulder-clays of two different Glacial periods, a fact which conclusively establishes the existence of man in the Inter-Glacial period in the Quaternary era. Prof. Geikie speaking of the changes of climate in the Glacial and Inter-Glacial period remarks that “during the Inter-Glacial period the climate was characterized by clement winters and cool summers so that the tropical plants and animals, like elephants, rhinoceroses and hippopotamuses, ranged over the whole of the Arctic region, and in spite of numerous fierce carnivora, the Paleolithic man had no unpleasant habitation there.” ( Fragments of Earth Lore, p. 266. )

 

 

It will thus be seen that in point of climate the Pleistocene period, or the early Quaternary era, was intermediate between the early geological ages when uniform genial climate prevailed over the globe, and the modern period when it is differentiated into zones. It was, so to speak, a transitional period marked by violent changes in the climate, that was mild and genial in the Inter-Glacial, and severe and inclement during the Glacial period. It was at the beginning of the Post-Glacial or the Recent period that modern climatic conditions were established. Prof. Geikie is, however, of opinion that even the beginning of the Post-Glacial period was marked, at least in North-Western Europe, by two alternations of genial and rainy-cold climate before the present climatic conditions became established. (Prehistoric Europe, p. 530)

 

            But though the fact of the Ice Age and the existence of a milder climate within the Arctic regions in the Inter-Glacial time is indubitably proved yet scientific men have not been as yet able to trace satisfactorily the causes of this great catastrophe. Such immense mass of ice as covered the whole of Northern Europe and America during this period could not, like anything else, come out of nothing., There must be heat enough in certain parts of the globe to create by evaporation sufficient vapor and aerial currents are required to transfer it to the colder regions of the globe, there to be precipitated in the form of ice. Any theory regarding the cause of the Ice Age which fails to take this fact into account is not only inadequate but worthless. A succession of Glacial periods, or at any rate, the occurrence of two Glacial periods, must again be accounted for by the theory that may be proposed to explain these changes; and if we test the different theories advanced in this way, many of them will be at once found to be untenable. It was, for instance, once urged that the Gulf Stream, which, at present, imparts warmth to the countries in the North-West of Europe, might have been turned away from its course in the Pleistocene period by the submergence of the Isthmus of Panama, thus converting the countries on the North-Western coast of Europe into lands covered by ice. There is, however, no geological evidence to show that the Isthmus of Panama was submerged in the Pleistocene period and we must, therefore, give up this hypothesis. Another theory started to account for the catastrophe was that the earth must have passed through cold and hot regions of space, thus giving rise to Glacial and Inter-Glacial periods respectively. But this too is unsupported by any evidence. A third suggestion advanced was that the supply of solar heat on earth must have varied in such a way as to give rise to warm and cold climates but this was shown to be a mere conjecture. A change in the position of the earth’s axis might indeed cause such sudden changes in the climate; but a change in the axis means a change in the equator and as the earth owing to its diurnal rotation causes the equatorial regions to bulge out, a change in the axis would give rise to a second equatorial protuberance, which, however, is not observable and that the theory cannot therefore, be accepted. A gradual cooling of the earth would make the Polar regions habitable before the other parts of the globe; but a succession of Glacial epochs cannot be accounted for on this theory.

 

            Thus out of the various theories advanced to account for the vicissitudes of climate in the Pleistocene period only two have now remained in the field, the first that of Lyell which explains the changes by assuming different distribution of land and water combined with sudden elevation and submergence of large landed areas and the second that of Croll which traces the glaciation to the precession of the equinoxes combined with the high value of the eccentricity of the earth’s orbit. Lyell’s theory has been worked out by Wallace who shows that such geographical changes are by themselves sufficient to produce heat and cold required to bring on the Glacial and Inter-Glacial periods. We have seen that in earlier geological ages a pleasant and equable climate prevailed over the whole surface of the globe owing mainly to different  distribution of land and water and the theory advanced by Lyell to account for the Glacial epoch is practically the same. Great elevation and depression of extensive areas can be effected only in thousands of years, and those who support Lyell’s theory are of opinion that the duration of the Glacial epoch must be taken to be about 200,000 years in order to account for all the geographical and geological changes, which according to them, were the principal causes of the Glacial period. But there are other geologists, of the same school, who hold that the Glacial period may not have lasted longer than about 20 to 25 thousand years. The difference between the two estimates is enormous; but in the present state of geological evidence it is difficult to decide in favor of any one of these views. All that we can safely say is that the duration of the Pleistocene period, which included at least two Glacial and one Inter-Glacial epoch, must have been very much longer than the period of time which has elapsed since the commencement of the Post-Glacial period.

 

            According to Sir Robert Ball the whole difficulty of finding out the causes of the Glacial period vanishes when the solution of the problem is sought for in astronomy rather than in geography. Changes which seem to be so gigantic on the globe are, it is said, but daily wrought by cosmical forces with which we are familiar in astronomy, and one of the chief merits of Croll’s theory is supposed to consist in the fact that it satisfactorily accounts for a succession of Glacial and Inter-Glacial epochs during the Pleistocene period. Dr. Croll in his Climate and Time and Climate and Cosmology has tried to explain and establish his theory by elaborate calculations, showing that the changes in the values of the variable elements in the motion of the earth round the sun can adequately account for the climatic changes in the Pleistocene period. We shall first briefly state Dr. Croll’s theory and then give the opinions of experts as regards its probability.

 

            Let PQ'AQ represent the orbit of the earth round the sun. This orbit is an ellipse, and the sun, instead of being in the centre C, is in one of the focii S or s. Let the sun be at S.

 

Then the distance of the sun from the earth when the latter is at P would be the shortest, while, when the earth is at A it will be the longest. These points P and A are respectively called perihelion and aphelion. The seasons are caused, as stated above, by the axis of the earth being inclined to the plane of its orbit. Thus when the earth is at P and the axis turned away from the sun, it will produce winter in the northern hemisphere; while when the earth is at A, the axis, retaining its direction, will be now turned towards the sun, and there will be summer in the northern hemisphere. If the axis of the earth had no motion of its own, the seasons will always occur at the same points in the orbit of the earth, as, for instance, the winter in the northern hemisphere at P and the summer at A. But this axis describes a small circle round the pole of the ecliptic in a cycle of 25,868 years, giving rise to what is called the precession of the equinoxes, and consequently the indication of the earth’s axis to the plane of its orbit is not always the same at any given point in its orbit during this period. This causes the seasons to occur at different points in the earth’s orbit during this great cycle. Thus if the winter in the northern hemisphere occurred when the earth was at P at one time, some time after it will occur at and the succeeding points in the orbit until the end of the cycle, when it will again occur at P. The same will be the case in regard to summer at the point A and equinoxes at Q and Q'. In the diagram the dotted line qq' and pa represent the new positions which the line QQ' and PA will assume if they revolve in the way stated above. It must also be noted that though the winter in the northern hemisphere may occur when the earth is at p instead of at P, owing to the aforesaid motion of its axis, yet the orbit of the earth and the points of perihelion and aphelion are relatively fixed and unchangeable. Therefore, if the winter is the northern hemisphere occurs at p, the earth’s distance from the sun at the point will be greater than when the earth was at P. Similarly, in the course of the cycle above mentioned, the winter in the northern hemisphere will once occur at A, and the distance of the earth from the sun will then be the longest. Now there is a vast difference between a winter occurring when the earth is at P and a winter occurring when it is at A. In the first case, the point P being nearest to the sun, the severity of the winter will be greatly, modified by the nearness of the sun. But at A the sun is farthest removed from the earth, and the winter, when the earth is at A, will be naturally very severe; and during the cycle the winter must once occur at A. The length of the cycle is 25,868 years, and ordinarily speaking half of this period must elapse before the occurrence of winter is transferred from the earth’s position at P to its position at A. But it is found that the points P and A have a small motion of their own in the direction opposite to that in which the line of equinoxes QQ' or the winter point p moves along the orbit. The above cycle of 25,868 years is, therefore, reduced to 20,984, or, in round number 21,000 years. Thus if the winter in one hemisphere occurs when the earth is at P, the point nearest to the sun in the orbit, it will occur in the same hemisphere at A after a lapse of 10,500 years. It may be here mentioned that in about 1250 A.D., the winter in the northern hemisphere occurred when the earth in its orbit was at P, and that in about 11,750 A.D. the earth will be again at A, that is, at its longest distance from the sun at the winter time, giving rise to a severe winter. Calculating backwards it may be seen that the last severe winter at A must have occurred in the year 9,250 B.C. ( See Herschel’s Outlines of Astronomy, Ed. 1883, Arts. 368, 369.)

 

            It need not be mentioned that the winter in one hemisphere corresponds with the summer in the other, and that what is said about winter in the northern hemisphere applies mutatis mutandis to seasonal changes in the southern hemisphere.

 

            There is another consideration which we must take into account in estimating the severity of winter or the mildness of summer in any hemisphere. If the summer be defined to be the period of time required by the earth to travel from one equinoctial point Q' to another equinoctial point Q, this interval cannot always be constant for we have seen that the winter and summer points (P and A), and with them the equinoctial points (Q and Q') are not stationary, but revolve along the orbit once in 21,000 years. Had the orbit been a circle, the lines qq' and pa will have always divided it in equal parts. But the orbit being an ellipse these two sections are unequal. For instance, suppose that the winter occurs when the earth is at P, then the duration of the summer will be represented by Q'AQ, but when the winter occurs at A the summer time will be represented by QPQ', a segment of the ellipse necessarily smaller than Q'AQ. This inequality is due to the ellipticity of the orbit, and the more elongated or elliptic the orbit is the greater will be the difference between the durations of summer and winter in a hemisphere. Now the ellipticity of the orbit is measured by the difference between the mean and the greatest distance of the earth from the sun, and is called in astronomy the eccentricity of the earth’s orbit. This eccentricity of the earth’s orbit is not a constant quantity but varies, though slowly, in course of time, making the orbit more and more elliptical until it reaches a maximum value, when it again begins to reduce until the original value is reached. The duration of summer and winter in a hemisphere, therefore, varies as the value of the eccentricity of the earth’s orbit at that time; and it has been stated above that the difference between the duration of summer and winter also depends on the position of the equinoctial line or of the points in the earth’s orbit at which the winter and the summer in a hemisphere occur. As the joint result of these two variations, the difference between the durations of summer and winter would be the longest, when the eccentricity of the earth is at its maximum and according as the winter and summer occur at the points of perihelion or aphelion. It has been found that this difference is equal to 33 days at the highest, and that at the present day it is about 7½ days. Thus if the winter in the northern hemisphere occurs when the earth is at P in its orbit and the eccentricity is at its maximum, the winter will be shorter by 33 days than the summer of the time. But this position will be altered after 10,500 years when the winter, occurring at A, will, in its turn, be longer than the corresponding summer by the same length of time, viz. 33 days.

 

            Now, since the earth describes equal areas in equal times in its orbit, Herschel supposed that in spite of the difference between the duration of summer and winter noticed above, the whole earth received equal amount of heat while passing from one equinox to another, the “inequality in the intensities of solar radiation in the two intervals being precisely compensated by the opposite inequality in the duration of the intervals themselves.” Accepting this statement Dr. Croll understated his ease to a certain extent. But Sir Robert Ball, formerly the Astronomer Royal of Ireland, in his recent work On the Cause of an Ice Age has demonstrated, by mathematical calculation, that the above supposition is erroneous, and that the total amount of heat received from the sun by each hemisphere in summer and winter varies as the obliquity of the earth or the inclination of its axis to the ecliptic, but is practically independent of the eccentricity of the earth’s orbit. Taking the total sun-heat received in a year by each hemisphere to be 365 units, or on an average one unit a day, and taking the obliquity to be 23° 27', Sir Robert Ball has calculated that each hemisphere would receive 229 of these heat-units during summer and only 136 during winter, whatever the eccentricity of the earth may be. But though these figures are not affected by the eccentricity of the orbit, yet we have seen that the duration of the summer or winter does vary as the eccentricity.

 

Supposing, therefore, that we have the longest winter in the northern hemisphere, we shall have to distribute 229 heat-units over 166 days of a short summer, and 136 heat-units over 199 days of a long winter of the same period. In other words, the difference between the daily average heat in summer and winter will, in such a case, be the greatest, producing shorter but warmer summers and longer and colder winters, and ice and snow accumulated in the long winter will not be melted or removed by the heat of the sun in the short summer, giving rise, thereby, to what is known as the Glacial period in the northern hemisphere. From what has been stated above, it may be seen that the southern hemisphere during this period will have long and cool summers and short and warm winters, a condition precisely reverse to that in the northern hemisphere. In short the Glacial and Inter-Glacial periods in the two hemispheres will alternate with each other every 10,500 years, if the eccentricity of the earth be sufficiently great to make a perceptibly large difference between the winters and the summers in each hemisphere.

 

            If Dr. Croll had gone only so far, his position would have been unassailable, for the cause enumerated above, is sufficiently potent to produce the climatic changes attributed to it. At any rate, if this was not the sole cause of a succession of Glacial and Inter-Glacial periods, their could be no doubt that it must have been an important contributory cause in bringing about these changes. But taking the value of the eccentricity of the earth’s orbit from the tables of Leverrier, Dr. Croll calculated that during the last three million years there were three periods of maximum eccentricity, the first of 170,000, the second of 260,000, and the third of 160,000 years; and that 80,000 years have elapsed since the close of the third or the last period. According to Dr. Croll the Glacial epoch in the Pleistocene period must, therefore, have begun 240,000 years ago, and ended, followed by the Post-Glacial period, about 80,000 years ago. During this long period of 160,000 years, there must have been several alternations of mild and severe climates, according as the winter in a hemisphere occurred when the earth was at perihelion or aphelion in its orbit, which happened every 10,500 years during the period. But as the cold epoch can be at its maximum only during the early part of each period, according to Dr. Croll’s theory, the last epoch of maximum glaciation must be placed 200,000 years ago, or about 40,000 years after the commencement of the last period of maximum eccentricity.

 

            The reliability of these elaborate calculations has, however, been questioned by astronomers and geologists alike. Sir Robert Ball, who supports Croll in every other respect, has himself refrained from making any astronomical calculations regarding the maximum value of the eccentricity of the earth’s orbit, or the time when the last Glacial epoch should have occurred, or when the next would take place. “I cannot say,” he observes, “when the last (Glacial epoch) took place, nor when the next may be expected. No one who is competent to deal with mathematical formulae would venture on such predictions in the present state of our knowledge.” Prof. Newcomb of New York, another astronomer of repute, in his review of Dr. Croll’s Climate and Time, has also pointed out how in the present state of astronomical knowledge it is impossible to place any reliance on the values of eccentricity computed for epoches, distant by millions of years, as the value of this eccentricity depends upon elements, many of which are uncertain, and this is especially the case when one has to deal with long geological eras. The only reply made by Dr. Croll to this criticism is that his figures were correctly worked up from the values of the eccentricity according to the latest correction of Mr. Stockwell. (* On the Cause of an Ice Age, p. 152. † Climate and Cosmology, p. 39.)

 

This, however, is hardly a satisfactory reply, inasmuch as Prof. Newcomb’s objection refers not to the correctness of the mathematical work, but to  the impossibility of correctly ascertaining the very data from which the values of the eccentricity were obtained.

           

It was once supposed that the duration of each of Dr. Croll’s different periods admirably fitted in with the geological evidence, and fully corroborated the estimates of time supposed to be required for the extensive geographical changes which accompanied the Glacial and Inter-Glacial periods. But geologists have now begun to take a more sober view of this extravagant figures and calculations. According to Croll’s calculation there were three periods of maximum eccentricity during the last three million years, and there should, therefore, be three periods of glaciation corresponding to these, each including several Glacial and Inter-Glacial epochs. But there is no geological evidence of the existence of such Glacial epochs in early geological eras, except, perhaps, in the Permian and Carboniferous periods of the Paleozoic or the Primary age. An attempt is made to meet this objection by replying that though the eccentricity was greatest at one period in the early geological eras, yet, as the geographical distribution of land and water was then essentially different from what it was in the Quaternary era the high value of the eccentricity did not then produce the climatic changes it did in the Pleistocene period. This reply practically concedes that the high eccentricity of the earth’s orbit, combined with the occurrence of winter when the earth is at aphelion, is not by itself sufficient to bring about a Glacial period; and it may, therefore, be well urged that a Glacial epoch may occur even when the eccentricity is not at its maximum. Another point in which Dr. Croll’s theory conflicts with the geological evidence is the date of the close of the last Glacial epoch, as ascertained, by the American geologists, from estimates based on the erosion of valleys since the close of the last Glacial period. It is pointed out in the last chapter that these estimates do not carry the beginning of the Post-Glacial period much further than about 10,000 years ago at the best; while Dr. Croll’s calculation would carry it back to 80 or 100 thousand years. This is a serious difference and even Prof. Geikie, who does not entirely accept the American view, is obliged to admit that though Dr. Croll’s theory is the only theory that accounts for the succession of Glacial epochs and therefore, the only correct theory, yet the formula employed by him to calculate the values of the eccentricity of the earth’s orbit may be incorrect and that we may thus account for the wide discrepancy between his inference and the conclusions based upon hard geological facts, which cannot be lightly set aside.( Fragments of Earth Lore, p. 287.)

 

 

 The judgment recently pronounced by Mr. Hudleston is still more severe. In his opening address, as President of the geological section of the meeting of the British Association in 1898, he is reported to have remarked, “There is probably nothing more extraordinary in the history of modern investigation than the extent to which geologists of an earlier date permitted themselves to be led away by the fascinating theories of Croll. The astronomical explanation of the “Will-o’-the-wisp,” the cause of the great Ice Age, is at present greatly discredited and we begin to estimate at their true value those elaborate calculations which were made to account for events, which, in all probability, never occurred. Extravagance begets extravagance and the unreasonable speculations of men like Belt and Croll have caused some of our recent students to suffer from the nightmare.” (See The Nature, Sept. 15, 1898.)

 

 

This criticism appears to be rather severe; fox though Dr. Croll’s elaborate calculations may be extravagant, yet we must give him the credit for not merely suggesting but working out, the effect of a cosmical cause which under certain circumstances is powerful enough to produce extensive changes in the climate of the globe.

 

            But in spite of these remarks, it cannot be doubted that the duration of the Glacial period, comprising at least two Glacial and one Inter-Glacial epoch, must have been very much longer thin that of the Post-Glacial period. For, independently of the eccentricity of the earth’s orbit, the occurrence of winter at aphelion is by itself sure to contribute to the production of the Ice Age, if other causes and circumstances, either those suggested by Lyell; or others, are favorable and 21,000 years must elapse between two successive occurrences of winter at aphelion. For two Glacial epochs with an intervening Inter-Glacial period, we must, therefore, allow a period longer than 21,000 years, even if the question of the eccentricity of the earth’s orbit be kept aside while, if, with Prof. Geikie, we suppose that there were five Glacial (four in the Pleistocene and one at the close of the Pliocene period) and four Inter-Glacial epochs the duration must be extended to something like 80,000 years.

 

            It is unnecessary to go further into these scientific and geological discussions. I have already stated before that my object is to trace from positive evidence contained in the Vedic literature the home of the Vedic and, therefore, also of the other Aryan races, long before they settled in Europe or on the banks of the Oxus, the Jaxartes, or the Indus; and so far as this purpose is concerned, the results of the latest scientific researches, discussed in this and the previous chapter, may now be summed up as follows: —

            (1) In the very beginning of the Neolithic age Europe is found to be inhabited by races,, from whom the present races of Europe speaking Aryan languages are descended.

            (2) But though the existence of an Aryan race in Europe in early Neolithic times is thus established, and, therefore, the theory of migrations from an Asiatic home in Post-Glacial times is untenable, it does not prove that the Aryan race was autochthonous in Europe, and the question of its original home cannot, therefore, be regarded as finally settled.

            (3) There are good reasons for supposing that the metal age was introduced into Europe by Foreign people.

            (4) The different ages of Stone, Bronze and Iron were not synchronous in different countries, and the high state of civilization in Egypt is not, therefore, inconsistent with the Neolithic stage of European civilization at the time.

            (5) According to the latest geological evidence, which cannot be lightly set aside, the last Glacial period must have closed and the Post-Glacial commenced at about 10,000 years ago, or 8,000 B.C. at the best, and the freshness of the Siberian fossil-deposits favors this view.

            (6) Man is not merely Post-Glacial as he was believed to be some years ago, and there is conclusive geological evidence to prove his wide-spread existence in the Quaternary, if not also in Tertiary, era.

            (7) There were at least two Glacial and one Inter-Glacial period, and the geographical distribution of land and water on the earth during the Inter-Glacial period was quite different from what it is at present.

            (8) There were great vicissitudes of climate in the Pleistocene period, it being cold and inclement during the Glacial, and mild and temperate in the Inter-Glacial period, even as far as the Polar regions.

            (9) There is enough evidence to show that the Arctic regions, both in Asia and Europe, were characterized in the Inter-Glacial period by cool summers and warm winters — a sort of, what Herschel calls, a perpetual spring; and that places like Spitzbergen, where the sun goes below the horizon from November till March, were once the seat of luxuriant vegetation, that grows, at present, only in the temperate or the tropical climate.

            (10) It was the coming on of the Glacial age that destroyed this genial climate, and rendered the regions unsuited for the habitation of tropical plants and animals.

            (11) There are various estimates regarding the duration of the Glacial period, but in the present state of our knowledge it is safer to rely on geology than on astronomy in this respect, though as regards the causes of the Ice Age the astronomical explanation appears to be more probable.

            (12) According to Prof. Geikie there is evidence to hold that there were, in all, five Glacial and four Inter-Glacial epochs, and that even the beginning of the Post-Glacial

period was marked by two successions of cold and genial climate, at least in the North-West of Europe.

            (13) Several eminent scientific men have already advanced the theory that the cradle of the human race must be sought for in the Arctic regions and that the plant and animal life also originated in the same place.

            It will thus be seen that if the Vedic evidence points to an Arctic home, where the ancestors of the Vedic ihis lived in ancient times, there is at any rate nothing in the latest scientific discoveries which would warrant us in considering this result as a priori improbable. On the contrary there is much in these researches that suggests such a hypothesis, and as a matter of fact, several scientific men have now been led to think that we must look for the cradle of the human race in the Arctic regions.

 

 


 

 

CHAPTER III

 

THE ARCTIC REGIONS

 

Existence of a Circumpolar continent in early times — Probable also in the Inter-Glacial period — Milder climate at the time — Necessity of examining Vedic Myths — Difference between Polar and Circumpolar characteristics — The precession of the equinoxes used as chronometer in Vedic chronology — Characteristics of the North Pole — The horizontal motion of the celestial hemisphere — Spinning round of the stars without rising or setting — The Sun rising in the South — A day and a night of six months each — Aurora Borealis — Continuous fortnightly moonlight, and long morning and evening twilights — Dawn lasting from 45 to 60 days — The Polar year — The darkness of the Polar night reduced only to two, or two and a half, months — Dr. Warren’s description of the Polar Dawn with its revolving splendors — Characteristics of regions to the South of the North Pole — Stars moving obliquely and a few rising and setting as in the tropical zone — The Southernly direction of the Sun — A long day and a long night, but of less than six months’ duration — Supplemented by the alternations of ordinary days and nights for some time during the year — Long dawn but of shorter duration than at the Pole — Comparison with the features of the year in the tropics — Summary of Polar and Circumpolar characteristics.

 

 

            We have seen that in the Pleistocene period there was great elevation and submergence of land accompanied by violent changes in the climate, over the whole surface of the globe. Naturally enough the severity of the Glacial period must have been very intense within the Arctic circle, and we shall be perfectly justified in supposing that geographical changes like the elevation and depression of land occurred on a far more extensive scale in regions round about the Pole than anywhere else. This leads us to infer that the distribution of land and water about the Pole during the Inter-Glacial period must have been different from what it is at present. Dr. Warren, in his Paradise Found, quotes a number of authorities to show that within a comparatively recent geological period a wide stretch of Arctic land, of which Novaia Zemlia and Spitzbergen formed a part, had been submerged; and one of the conclusions he draws from these authorities is that the present islands of the Arctic Ocean, such as the two mentioned above are simply mountain-tops still remaining above the surface of the sea which has come in and covered up the primeval continent to which they belonged. That an extensive circum-polar continent existed in Miocene times seems to have been conceded by all geologists, and though we cannot predicate its existence in its entirety during the Pleistocene period, yet there are good reasons to hold that a different configuration of land and water prevailed about the North Pole during the Inter-Glacial period, and that as observed by Prof. Geikie, the Paleolithic man, along with other Quaternary animals, freely ranged over the whole of the Arctic regions in those times. Even now there is a considerable tract of land to the north of the Arctic circle, in the old world, especially in Siberia and there is evidence to show that it once enjoyed a mild and temperate climate. The depth of the Arctic Ocean to the north of Siberia is at present, less than a hundred fathoms, and if great geographical changes took place in the Pleistocene period, it is not unlikely that this tract of land, which is now submerged, may have been once above the level of the sea. In other words there are sufficient indications of the existence of a continent round about the North-Pole before the last Glacial period.

 

            As regards climate, we have seen that during the Inter-Glacial period there were cool summers and warm winters even within the Arctic Circle. Sir Robert Ball gives us a good idea of the genial character of this climate by reducing to figures the distribution of heat-units over summers and winters. A longer summer, with 229 heat-units spread over it, and a shorter winter of 136 heat-units, would naturally produce a climate, which according to Herschel, would be “an approach to perpetual spring.” If the Paleolithic man, therefore, lived in these regions during the Inter-Glacial period, he must have found it very pleasant, in spite of the fact that the sun went below his horizon for a number of days in a year according to the latitude of the place. The present

inclement climate of the Arctic regions dates from the Post-Glacial period, and we must leave it out of consideration in dealing with earlier ages.

 

            But supposing that an Arctic continent, with an equable and pleasant climate, existed during the Inter-Glacial period, and that the Paleolithic man ranged freely over it, it does not follow that the ancestors of the Aryan race lived in the Arctic regions during those days, though it may render such a hypothesis highly probable. For that purpose, we must either wait until the existence of the Aryan race, within the Arctic region in Inter-Glacial times, is proved by new archaeological discoveries, or failing them, try to examine the ancient traditions and beliefs of the race, incorporated in such admittedly oldest Aryan books, as the Vedas and the Avesta, and see if they justify us in predicating the inter-glacial existence of the Aryan people. It is admitted that many of the present explanations of these traditions and legends are unsatisfactory, and as our knowledge of the ancient man is increased, or becomes more definite, by new discoveries in archaeology, geology or anthropology, these explanations will have to be revised from time to time and any defects in them, due to our imperfect understanding of the sentiments, the habits and even the surroundings of the ancient man, corrected. That human races have preserved their ancient traditions is undoubted, though some or many of them may have become distorted in course of time, and it is for us to see if they do or do not accord with what we know of the ancient man from latest scientific researches. In the case of the Vedic traditions, myths and beliefs, we have the further advantage that they were collected thousands of years ago, and handed down unchanged from that remote time. It is, therefore, not unlikely that we may find traces of the primeval Polar home in these oldest books. If the Aryan man did live within the Arctic circle in early times, especially as a portion of the ig-Veda is still admittedly unintelligible on any of the existing methods of interpretation, although the words and expressions are plain and simple in many places. Dr. Warren has quoted some Vedic traditions along with those of other nations, in support of his theory that the Arctic regions were the birth-place of the human race. But the attempt, so far as the Vedic texts are concerned, is desultory, as it was bound to be inasmuch as these Vedic legends and texts have, as yet, never been examined by any Vedic scholar from the new stand point furnished by the latest scientific researches and as Dr. Warren had to depend entirely on the existing translations. It is proposed, therefore, to examine the Vedas from this new point of view; but before doing so it is necessary to ascertain such peculiar characteristics, or what in logic are called differentiae, of the Polar or the Arctic regions, as are not found elsewhere on the surface of the globe, so that if we meet with them in the Vedic traditions, the Polar origin of the latter would be indubitably established: We have seen that the inclemency of climate which now characterizes the Polar regions, was not a feature of the Polar climate in early times; and we must, therefore, turn to astronomy to find out the characteristics required for our purpose.

 

            It has been a fashion to speak of the Polar regions as characterized by light and darkness of 6 months each, for it is well-known that the sun shines at the North Pole continuously for 6 months, and then sinks down below the horizon, producing a night of 6 months’ duration. But a closer examination of the subject will show that the statement is only roughly true, and requires to be modified in several particulars before it can be accepted as scientifically accurate. In the first place we must distinguish between the Pole and the Polar regions. The Pole is merely a point, and all the inhabitants of the original ancient home if there was one near the North Pole, could not have lived precisely at this single point, The Polar or the Arctic regions, on the other hand, mean the tracts of land included between the North Pole and the Arctic circle. But the duration of day and night, as well as the seasons, at different places within the Arctic regions cannot be, and are not, the same as at the point called the North Pole. The characteristics of the circum-polar region may indeed be derived from the strictly Polar characteristics; but still they are so unlike each other that it is absolutely necessary to bear this distinction in mind in collecting evidence of a circum-polar Aryan home in ancient times. Men living round about the Pole, or more accurately speaking, in regions between the North Pole and the Arctic circle when these regions were habitable were sure to know of a day and night of 6 months, but living a little southward from the Pole their own calendar must have been different from the strictly Polar calendar; and it is, therefore, necessary to examine the Polar and the circum-polar characteristics separately, in order that the distinction may be clearly understood.

 

            The terrestrial Poles are the termini of the axis of the earth, and we have seen that there is no evidence to show that this axis ever changed its position, relatively to the earth, even in the earliest geological eras. The terrestrial poles and the circum-polar regions were, therefore, the same in early cases as they are at present, though the past and present climatic condition of these places may be totally different. But the axis of the earth has a small motion round the pole of the ecliptic, giving rise to what is known as the precession of the equinoxes, and causing a change only in the celestial, and not in the terrestrial, poles. Thus the polar star 7,000 years ago was different from what it is at present but the terristrial pole has always remained the same. This motion of the earth’s axis, producing the precession of the equinoxes, is important from an antiquarian point of view, inasmuch as it causes a change in the times when different seasons of the year begin; and it was mainly by utilizing this chronometer that I showed in my Orion or Researches in the Antiquity of the Vedas that the vernal equinox was in Orion when some of the Rig-Vedic traditions were formed, and that the Vedic literature contained enough clear evidence of the successive changes of the position of the vernal equinox up to the present time. Thus the vernal equinox was in Kittikâs in the time of the Taittirîya Sahitâ and Brâhmaa and the express text stating that “The Kittikâs never swerve from the due east; all other Nakhatras do” (Shat. Brâ. II. 1, 2, 3), recently published by the late Mr. S. B. Dixit, serves to remove whatever doubts there might be regarding the interpretation of other passages. (See The Indian Antiquary, Vol. XXIV, (August, 1895), p. 245. )

 

This record of the early position of the Kittikâs, or the Pleiades, is as important for the determination of the Vedic chronology as the orientation of pyramids and temples has been shown to be in the case of the Egyptian, by Sir Norman Lockyer in his Dawn of Ancient Astronomy. But the chronometer, which I now mean to employ, is a different one. The North Pole and the Arctic regions possess certain astronomical characteristics which are peculiar to them, and if a reference to these can be discovered in the Vedas, it follows, in the light of modern researches, that the ancestors of the Vedic ihis must have become acquainted with these characteristics, when they lived in those regions, which was possible only in the inter-glacial times. We shall, therefore, now examine these characteristics, dividing them in the two-fold way stated above.

 

            If an observer is stationed at the North Pole, the first thing that will strike him is the motion of the celestial sphere above his head. Living in the temperate and tropical zones we see all heavenly objects rise in the east and set in the west, some passing over our head, other traveling obliquely. But to the man at the Pole, the heavenly dome above will seem to revolve round him, from left to right, somewhat like the motion of a hat or umbrella turned over one’s head. The stars will not rise and set, but will move round and round, in horizontal planes, turning like a potter’s wheel, and starting on a second round when the first is finished, and so on, during the long night of six months. The sun, when he is above the horizon for 6 months, would also appear to revolve in the

 

 

same way. The centre of the celestial dome over the head of the observer will be the celestial North Pole, and naturally enough his north will be over-head, while the invisible regions below the horizon would be in the south. As regards the eastern and western points of the compass, the daily rotation of the earth round its axis will make them revolve round the observer from right to left, thereby causing the celestial objects in the east to daily revolve round and. round along the horizon from left to right, and not rise in the east, pass over-head, and set every day in the west, as with us, in the temperate or the tropical zone. In fact, to an observer stationed at the North Pole, the northern celestial hemisphere will alone be visible spinning round and round over his head, and the southern half, with all the stars in it, will always remain invisible, while the celestial equator, dividing the two, will be his celestial horizon. To such a man the sun going into the northern hemisphere in his annual course will appear as coming up from the south, and he will express the idea by saying that “the sun has risen in the south,” howsoever strange the expression may seem to us. After the sun has risen in this way in the south, — and the sun will rise there only once a year, — he will be constantly visible for 6 months, during which time he will attain a height of about 23½° above the horizon, and then begin to lower down until he drops into the south below the horizon. It will be a long and continuous sunshine of 6 months, but, as the celestial dome over the head of the observer will complete one revolution in 24 hours, the sun also will make one horizontal circuit round the observer in every 24 hours and to the observer at the North Pole the completion of one such circuit, whether of the sun or of the stars, will serve as a measure of ordinary days, or periods of 24 hours, during the long sunshine or night of six months. When about 180 such rounds, (the exact number will depend upon the difference in the durations of summer and winter noticed in the last chapter), are completed, the sun will again go down below the horizon, and the stars in the northern hemisphere, which had disappeared inhis light, will become visible all at once, and not rise one after the other as with us. The light of the sun had, so to say, eclipsed them, though they were over the head of the observer; but as soon as this obstruction is removed the whole northern starry hemisphere will again appear to spin round the observer for the remaining period of six months. The horizontal motion of the celestial hemisphere, only one long continuous morning and evening in the year, and one day and one night of six months each, are thus the chief special features of the calendar at the North Pole.

 

            We have stated that to an observer at the North Pole, there will be a night of 6 months, and one is likely to infer therefrom that there will be total darkness at the Pole for one half the portion of the year. Indeed one is likely to contemplate with horror, the perils and difficulties of a long night o. six months, during which not only the light but the warmth of the sun has to be artificially supplied. As a matter of fact, such a supposition is found to be erroneous. First of all, there will be the electric discharges, known as Aurora Borealis, filling the polar night with their charming glories, and relieving its darkness to a great extent. Then we have the moon, which, in her monthly revolution, will be above the polar horizon for a continuous fortnight, displaying her changing phases, without intermission, to the polar observer. But the chief cause, which alleviates the darkness of the polar night, is the twilight before the rising and after the setting of the sun. With us in the tropical or the temperate zone, this twilight, whether of morning or evening, lasts only for an hour or two; but at the Pole this state of things is completely altered, and the twilight of the annual morning and evening is each visible for several days. The exact duration of this morning or evening twilight is, however, still a matter of uncertainty. Some authorities fix the period at 45 days, while others make it last for full two months. In the tropical zone, we see the first beams of the dawn, when the sun is about 16° below the horizon. But it is said that in higher latitudes the light of the sun is discernible when he is from 18° to 20° below the horizon. probably this latter limit may prove to be the correct one for the North Pole, and in that case the dawn there will last continuously for two months. Captain Pim, quoted by Dr. Warren, thus describes the Polar year: —

            “On the 16th of March the sun rises, preceded by a long dawn of forty-seven days, namely, from the 29th January, when the first glimmer of light appears. On the 25th of September the sun sets, and after a twilight of forty-eight days, namely, on the 13th November, darkness reigns supreme, so far as the sun is concerned, for seventy-six days followed by one long period of light, the sun remaining above the horizon one hundred and ninety-four days. The year, therefore, is thus divided at the Pole: — 194 days sun; 76 darkness; 47 days dawn; 48 twilight.” (See Paradise Found, 10th Ed., p. 64.)

 

            But other authorities assign a longer duration to the morning and evening twilight, and reduce the period of total darkness from 76 to 60 days, or only to two months. Which, of these calculations is correct can be settled only by actual observation at the North Pole. It has been ascertained that this duration depends upon the powers of refraction and reflection of the atmosphere, and these are found to vary according to the temperature and other circumstances of the place. The Polar climate is at present extremely cold; but in the Inter-glacial epoch it was different, and this, by itself, would alter the duration of the Polar dawn in inter-glacial times. But whatever the cause may be, so much is beyond doubt that at the Pole the twilight of the yearly morning and evening lingers on for several days. For even taking the lowest limit of 16°, the sun, in his course through the ecliptic, would take more than a month to reach the horizon from this point; and during all this time a perpetual twilight will prevail at the Pole. Long dawn and long evening twilight are, therefore, the principal factors in shortening the darkness of the Polar night and if we deduct these days from the duration of the night, the period of darkness is reduced from six to two,or at the most, to two-and-half-months. It is, therefore, erroneous to suppose that the half yearly Polar night is such a continuous period of darkness as will make the Polar regions uncomfortable. On the contrary, it will be the peculiar privilege of the Polar man to witness the splendid spectacle of a long continuous dawn with its charming lights, revolving, like the stars at the place, every day in horizontal planes, round and round him, as long as the dawn may last.

 

            The dawn in the tropical or the temperate zone is but brief and evanescent, and it recurs after every 24 hours. But still it has formed the subject of poetical descriptions in different countries. If so, how much more the spectacle of a splendid long dawn, after a darkness of two months, would delight the heart of a Polar observer, and how he will yearn for the first appearance of the light on the horizon, can be better imagined than described. I quote the following description of this long Polar dawn from Dr. Warren’s Paradise Found, and invite special attention to it, inasmuch as it forms one of the principal characteristics of the North Pole. Premising that the splendors of the Polar dawn are indescribable, Dr. Warren proceeds: —

            “First of all appears low in the horizon of the night-sky a scarcely visible flush of light. At first it only makes a few stars’ light seem a trifle fainter, but after a little it is seen to be increasing, and to be moving laterally along the yet dark horizon. Twenty-four hours later it has made a complete circuit around the observer, and is causing a larger number of stars to pale. Soon the widening light glows with the luster of ‘Orient pearl.’ Onward it moves in its stately rounds, until the pearly whiteness burns into ruddy rose-light, fringed with purple and gold. Day after day, as we measure days, this splendid panorama circles on, and, according as atmospheric conditions and, clouds present more or less favorable conditions of reflection, kindles and fades, kindles and fades, — fades only to kindle next time yet more brightly as the still hidden sun comes nearer and nearer his point of emergence. At length, when for two long months such prophetic displays have been filling the whole heavens with these increscent and revolving splendors, the sun begins to emerge from his long retirement, and to display himself once more to human vision. After one or two circuits, during which his dazzling upper limb grows to a full-orbed disk, he clears all hill-tops of the distant horizon, and for six full months circles around and around the world’s great axis in full view, suffering no night to fall upon his favored home-land at the Pole. Even when at last he sinks again from view he covers his retreat with a repetition of the deepening and fading splendors which filled his long dawning, as if in these pulses of more and more distant light he were signaling back to the forsaken world the promises and prophecies of an early return.”(See Paradise Found, 10th Ed., p. 69. )

 

            A phenomenon like this cannot fail to be permanently impressed on the memory of a Polar observer, and it will be found later on that the oldest traditions of the Aryan race have preserved the recollection of a period, when its ancestors witnessed such wonderful phenomenon, — a long and continuous dawn of several days, with its lights laterally revolving on the horizon, in their original home.

 

            Such are the distinguishing characteristics of the North Pole, that is, the point where the axis of the earth terminates in the north. But as a Polar home means practically a home in the regions round about the North Pole, and not merely the Polar point, we must now see what modifications are necessary to be made in the above characteristics owing to the observer being stationed a little to the south of the North Pole. We have seen that at the Pole the northern hemisphere is seen spinning round the observer and all the stars move with it in horizontal planes without rising or setting; while the other celestial hemisphere is always invisible. But when the observer is shifted downwards, his zenith will no longer correspond with the Pole Star, nor his horizon with the celestial equator. For instance let Z, in the annexed figure, be the zenith of the observer and P the celestial North Pole. When the observer was stationed at the terrestrial North Pole, his zenith coincided with P, and his horizon with the celestial equator, with the result that all the stars in the dome Q'PQ revolved round him in horizontal planes. But when the zenith is shifted to Z, this state of things is at once altered, as the heavens will revolve, as before, round the line POP', and not round the zenith line ZOZ'. When the observer was stationed at the North Pole these two lines coincided and hence the circles of revolution described by the stars round the celestial Pole were also described round the zenith-line. But when the zenith Z is different from P, as in the figure, the celestial horizon of the observer will be H'H, and the stars will now appear to move in circles inclined to his horizon, as shown in the figure by the black lines AA', BR' and CC'. Some of the stars, viz., those that are situated in the part of the celestial dome represented by H'PB, will be visible throughout the night, as their circles of revolution will be above the horizon B'C'D'H. But all the stars, whose Polar distance is greater than PB or PH, will in their daily revolution, be partly above and partly below the horizon. For instance, the stars at C and D will describe circles, some portions of which will be below the horizon H'H. In other words, the appearance of the visible celestial hemisphere to a person, whose zenith is at Z, will be different from the appearance presented by the heavens to an observer at the North Pole. The stars will not now revolve in horizontal planes, but obliquely. A great number of them would be circumpolar and visible during the whole night, but the remaining will rise and set as with us in the tropics, moving in oblique circles. When Z is very near P, only a  few stars will rise and set in this way and the difference will not be a marked one; but as Z is removed further south, the change will become more and more apparent.

 

            Similar modifications will be introduced in the duration of day and night, when the observer’s position is shifted to the south of the terrestrial North Pole. This will be clear by a reference to the figure on the next page. Let P be the celestial North Pole and Q'Q the celestial equator. Then since the sun moves in the ecliptic E'E, which is inclined at an angle of about 23½° (23° 28') to the equator, the circles T'E and E'T will correspond with the terrestrial circles of latitude called the Tropics and the circle AC with the Arctic Circle on the terrestrial globe. Now as the sun moves in the ecliptic E'E, in his annual course he will always be twice over-head for an observer stationed at a place within the terrestrial tropical zone, once in his course from E' to E, and again in his return, from E to E'. The sun will also appear for some time to the north of the observer’s zenith, and for the rest of the year to the south. But as the altitude of the sun above the equator is never greater than 23½° or EQ, an observer whose zenith lies to the north of the circle T'E, will always see the sun to the south of his zenith, and the zenith distance of the sun will be greater and greater as the observer advances towards the North Pole. But still the sun will be above the horizon every day, for some hours at least, to an observer whose zenith lies between T'E and AC. To take a concrete instance, let the observer be so stationed that his zenith will be at C, that is, on the extreme northern latitude of the temperate zone. Then his celestial horizon will extend 90° on each side, and will be represented by T'CT, and the sun moving along the ecliptic E'E will be above his horizon, at least for some portion of day, during the whole year. But as the observer passes into the Frigid zone, the sun during his annual course will be altogether below the horizon for some days, and the maximum limit is reached at the North Pole, where the sun is below the horizon for six months. We may, therefore, state that the duration of the night, which is six months at the Pole is gradually diminished as we come down from the Pole, until, in the temperate zone, the sun is above the horizon, at least, for some time out of twenty-four hours every day. In the foregoing figure let Z represent the zenith of an observer within the Arctic regions, then H'H will represent his horizon, and the sun in his annual course will, for some time, be altogether below this horizon. For instance, suppose the sun to be at n. Then his diurnal circle of rotation will be represented by nH, the whole of which is below the horizon H'H of the observer whose zenith is Z. Therefore, the sun, during his annual course along the ecliptic from E' to n, and back from n to E', will be invisible to an observer whose zenith is Z. Corresponding to this total disappearance of the sun for some time, the luminary will be perpetually above the horizon for the same period during his northern course. For instance, let the sun be at d, then his diurnal circle of rotation, dH', will be entirely above the horizon H'H, and so it will continue to be for all the time that the sun moves from d to E, and back again from E to d, in his annual course. During this time the sun will neither rise nor set, but will move, like the circumpolar stars, in oblique circles, round and round the observer like a wheel. For all positions between n and d, and the corresponding portion of the ecliptic on the other side, the sun, in this diurnal course of twenty-four hours, would be partially above and partially below the horizon, producing ordinary days and nights, as with us, the day being longer than the night when the sun is in the northern, and the night longer than the day when the stun is in the southern hemisphere. Instead of a single day and a single night of six months, the year, to a person living in the Arctic regions, but not exactly at the North Pole, will, therefore, be divided into three parts, one of which will be a long night, one a long day, and one made up of a succession of days and nights, a single day and night of which will together never exceed twenty-four hours. The long night will always be shorter than six months and longer than 24 hours, and the same will be the case with the long day. The long night and the long day will mark the two opposite extremities of the year, the middle of the long day occurring when the sun is at the summer solstice, and the middle of the long night when he is at the winter solstice. This triple division of the year is very important for our purpose, and I shall, therefore, illustrate it by a concrete example. Suppose, for instance, that the observer is so far below the North Pole that instead of a night of six months, he has a night of 2 months, or, in other words, the sun goes below his horizon only for two months. As the winter solstice will fall in the middle of this long continuous night, we may say that the night will extend a month before and a month after December 21, when the sun is at the winter solstice. Corresponding to this long night, there will be a continuous day of two months, a month before and a month after June 21, when the sun is at the summer solstice. If these four months are deducted from the year, there will remain eight months, and during all these months there will be days and nights, as in the temperate zone, a nycthemeron, or a day and a night together, never exceeding, as with us, the ordinary period of twenty-four hours. This alteration of ordinary days and nights will commence after the close of the long night in January, and in the beginning, the night will be longer than the day; but as the sun passes from the southern into the northern hemisphere, the day will gain over the night, and, eventually, after four months, terminate into a continuous day for two months. At the close of this long day in July, the alteration of ordinary days and nights will again commence, the day in the beginning being longer than the night, but a nycthemeron never exceeding, as in the previous case, a period of, twenty-four hours. As the sun passes from the northern into the southern hemisphere, the night will begin to gain over the day, until, after four months of such succession of ordinary, days and nights, it terminates into the continuous night of two months mentioned above. The same description applies, mutatis mutandis, where the long night may last for 3, 4 or 5 months,, until we reach the Polar condition of a day and a night of six months each, when the intermediate succession of ordinary days and nights will vanish.(Cf. Bhāskarâchārya’s Siddhânta Shiromai, Golādhyâya, Chapter vii., verses 6-7.)

 

            We have seen that a long dawn of two months is a special and important characteristic of the North Pole. As we descend southward, the splendor and the duration of the dawn will be witnessed on a less and less magnificent scale. But the dawn, occurring at the end of the long night of two, three or more months, will still be unusually long, often of several day’s duration. As stated above, at first, only a pale flush of light will appear and it will continue visible on the horizon, revolving round and round, if the observer is sufficiently near the Pole, for some days, when at last the orb of the sun will emerge, and start the alternation of day and night described above, to be eventually terminated into a long day. The splendors of the Aurora Borealis would also be less marked and conspicuous in the southern latitudes than at the North Pole.

 

            But if the characteristics of the Arctic regions are different “There is a peculiarity at the place, where the latitude is greater than 66° N. Whenever the northern declination of the sun exceeds the complement of the latitude, there will be perpetual day, for such time is that excess continues. Similarly when the southern (declination exceeds), there will be perpetual night. On Meru, therefore there is equal half-yearly perpetual day and night.” Thus if the latitude of a place be 70°, its complement will be 90 – 70 = 20°; and as the sun’s heights above the celestial equator (that is, his declination) is never greater than 23° 28' there will be a continuous day at the place, so long as the declination is greater than 20° and less 23° 28', and there will be a similar continuous night when the sun is in the Southern hemisphere. Paul Du Chaillu mentions that at Nordkyn or North Cape (N. lat. 71° 6'50'') the northernmost place on the continent of Europe, the long night commences on 18th November, and ends on 24th January, lasting in all, for 67 days of twenty-four hours each from those of the North Pole, they are no less different from the features of the year with which we are familiar in the temperate or the tropical zone. With us the sun is above the horizon, at least for some time every day, during all the twelve months of the year; but to persons within the Arctic circle, he is below the horizon and therefore, continuously invisible for a number of days. If this period of continuous night be excluded from our reckoning, we might say that within the Arctic regions the year, or the period marked by sunshine, only lasts from six to eleven months. Again the dawn in the temperate and the tropical zone is necessarily short-lived, for a day and a night together do not exceed twenty-four hours and the dawn which comes between them can last only for a few hours; but the annual dawn at the Pole and the dawn at the end of the long night in the Arctic regions will each be a dawn of several days’ duration. As for the seasons, we have our winters and summers; but the winter in the Arctic regions will be marked by the long continuous night, while the summer will make the night longer than the day, but within the limit of twenty four hours, until the day is developed into a long, continuous sunshine of several days. The climate of the Polar regions is now extremely cold and severe, but, as previously stated, different climatic conditions prevailed in early times and we cannot, therefore, include climate amongst the points of contrast under consideration.

 

            It will be seen from the foregoing discussion that we have two distinct sets of characteristics, or differentiæ; one for an observer stationed exactly at the terrestrial North Pole and the other for an observer located in the Circum-Polar regions or tracts of land between the North Pole and the Arctic circle. For brevity’s sake, we shall designate these two sets of differentiæ, as Polar and Circum-Polar and sum them up as follows:

 

I. The Polar Characteristics

 

            (1) The sun rises in the south.

            (2) The stars do not rise and set; but revolve, or spin round and round, in horizontal planes, completing one round in 24 hours. The northern celestial hemisphere is alone overhead and visible during the whole year and the southern or the lower celestial world is always invisible.

            (3) The year consists only of one long day and one long night of six months each.

            (4) There is only one morning and one evening, or the sun rises and sets only once a year. But the twilight, whether of the morning or of the evening, lasts continuously for about two months, or 60 periods of 24 hours each. The ruddy light of the morn, or the evening twilight, is not again confined to a particular part of the horizon (eastern or western) as with us; but moves, like the stars at the place, round and round along the horizon, like a potter’s wheel, completing one round in every 24 hours. These rounds of the morning light continue to take place, until the orb of the sun comes above the horizon; and then the sun follows the same course for six months, that is, moves, without setting, round and round the observer, completing one round every 24 hours.

 

            II. Circum-Polar Characteristic

 

            (1) The sun will always be to the south of the zenith of the observer; but as this happens even in the case of an observer stationed in the temperate zone, it cannot be regarded as a special characteristic.

            (2) A large number of stars are circum-polar, that, is, they are above the horizon during the entire period of their

revolution and hence always visible. The remaining stars rise and set, as in the temperate zone, but revolve in more oblique circles.

            (3) The year is made up of three parts: — (i) one long continuous night, occurring at the time of the winter solstice, and lasting for a period, greater than 24 hours and less than six months, according to the latitude of the place; (ii) one long continuous day to match, occurring at the time of the summer solstice; and (iii) a succession of ordinary days and nights during the rest of the year, a nycthemeron, or a day and a night together, never exceeding a period of 24 hours. The day, after the long continuous night, is at first shorter than the night, but, it goes on increasing until it develops into the long continuous day. At the end of the long day, the night is, at first, shorter than the day, but, in its turn, it begins to gain over the day, until the commencement of the long continuous night, with which the year ends.

            (4) The dawn, at the close of the long continuous night, lasts for several days, but its duration and magnificence is proportionally less than at the North Pole, according to the latitude of the place. For places, within a few degrees of the North Pole, the phenomenon of revolving morning lights will still be observable during the greater part of the duration of the dawn. The other dawns, viz. those between ordinary days and nights, will, like the dawns in the temperate zone, only last for a few hours. The sun, when he is above the horizon during the continuous day, will be seen revolving, without setting, round the observer, as at the Pole, but in oblique and not horizontal circles, and during the long night he will be entirely below the horizon; while during the rest of the year he will rise and set, remaining above the horizon for a part of 24 hours, varying according to the position of the sun in the ecliptic.

 

            Here we have two distinct sets of diferentiæ, or special characteristics, of the Polar and Circum-Polar regions, — characteristics which are not found anywhere else on the surface of the globe. Again as the Poles of the earth are the same today as they were millions of years ago, the above astronomical characteristics will hold good for, all times, though the Polar climate may have undergone violent changes in the Pleistocene period. In short, we can take these differentiæ as our unerring guides in the examination of the Vedic evidence bearing on the point at issue. If a Vedic description or tradition discloses any of the characteristics mentioned above, we may safely infer that the tradition is Polar or Circum-Polar in origin, and the phenomenon, if not actually witnessed by the poet, was at least known to him by tradition faithfully handed down from generation to generation. Fortunately there are many such passages or references in the Vedic literature, and, for convenience, these may be divided into two parts; the first comprising those passages which directly describe or refer to the long night, or the long dawn; and the second consisting of myths and legends which corroborate and indirectly support the first. The evidence in the first part being direct, is, of course, more convincing; and we shall, therefore, begin with it in the next chapter, reserving the consideration of the Vedic myths and legends to the latter part of the book.


 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER IV

 

THE NIGHT OF THE GODS

 

Vedic sacrifices, regulated by the luni-solar calendar — A year of six seasons and twelve months, with an intercalary month in the Taittirîya Sahitâ — The same in the ig-Veda — Present results of the Vedic mythology — All presuppose a home in the temperate or the tropical zone — But further research still necessary — The special character of the ig-Veda explained — Polar tests found in the ig-Veda — Indra supporting the heavens with a pole, and moving them like a wheel — A day and a night of six months, in the form of the half yearly day and night of the Gods — Found in the Sûrya Siddhânta and older astronomical Sahitâs — Bhâskarâchârya’s error explained — Gods’ day and night mentioned by Manu and referred to by Yâska — The description of Meru or the North Pole in the Mahâbhârata — In the Taittirîya Arayaka — The passage in the Taittirîya Brâhmaa about the year long day of the Gods — Improbability of explaining it except as founded on the observation of nature — Parallel passage in the Vendidad — Its Polar character clearly established by the context — The Vara of Yima in the Airyana Vaêjo — The sun rising and setting there only once a year — The Devayâna and the Pitiyâna in the ig-Veda — Probably represent the oldest division of the year, like the day and the night of the Gods — The path of Mazda in the Parsi scriptures — Death during Pitiyâna regarded inauspicious — Bâdarâyana’s view — Probable explanation suggested — Death during winter or Pitiyâna in the Parsi scriptures — Probably indicates a period of total darkness — Similar Greek traditions — Norse Twilight of the Gods — The idea of half-yearly day and night of the Gods thus proved to be not only Indo-Iranian, but Indo-Germanic — A sure indication of an original Polar home.

 

 

            At the threshold of the Vedic literature, we meet with an elaborately organized sacrificial system so well regulated by the luni-solar calendar as to show that the Vedic bards had, by that time, attained considerable proficiency in practical astronomy. There were daily, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly, half-yearly and yearly sacrifices, which, as I have elsewhere shown, also served as chronometers in those days. (See The Orion or the Antiquity of the Vedas, Chap. II. )

 

The Taittirîya Sahitâ and the Brâhmaas distinctly mention a lunar month of thirty days and a year of twelve such months, to which an intercalary month was now and then added, to make the lunar and the solar year correspond with each other. The ecliptic, or the belt of the zodiac, was divided into 27 of 28 divisions, called the Nakhatras, which, were used as mile-stones to mark the annual passage of the sun, or the monthly revolution of the moon round the earth. The two solstitial and the two equinoctial points, as well as the passage of the sun into the northern and the southern hemisphere, were clearly distinguished, and the year was divided into six seasons, the festivals in each month or the year being accurately fixed and ascertained. The stars rising and setting with the sun were also systematically observed and the eastern and western points of the compass determined as accurately as the astronomical observations of the day could permit. In my Orion or the Antiquity of the Vedas, I have shown how the changes in the position of the equinoxes were also marked in these days, and how they enable us to classify the periods of Vedic antiquity. According to this classification the Taittirîya Sahitâ comes under the Kittikâ period (2500 B.C.), and some may, therefore, think that the details of the Vedic calendar given above are peculiar only to the later Vedic literature. A cursory study of the ig-Veda will, however, show that such is not the case. A year of 360 days, with an intercalary month occasionally added, or a year of twelve lunar months, with twelve intercalary days inserted at the end of each year was familiar to the poets of the ig-Veda and is often mentioned in the hymns.

 

 

 

The northern and the southern passage of the sun from equinox to equinox, the Devayâna and the Pitiyâna, together with the yearly sattras, have also been referred to in several places, clearly showing that the Rig-Vedic calendar differed, if at all, very little from the one in use at the time of the Taittirîya Sahitâ or the Brâhmaas. A calendar of twelve months and six seasons is peculiar only to the temperate or the tropical zone, and if we were to judge only from the facts stated above, it follows that the people who used such a calendar, must have lived in places where the sun was above the horizon during all the days of the year. The science of Vedic mythology, so far as it is developed at present, also supports the same view. Vitra is said to be a demon of drought or darkness and several myths are explained. on the theory that they represent a daily struggle between the powers of light and the powers of darkness, or of eventual triumph of summer over winter, or of day over night, or of Indra over watertight clouds. Mr. Nârâyaa Aiyangâr of Bangalore has attempted to explain some of these myths on, the astral theory, showing that the myths point out to the position of the vernal equinox in Orion, in the oldest period of Vedic civilization. But all these theories or methods of interpretation assume that the Vedic people have always been the inhabitants of the temperate or the tropical zone, and all these myths and traditions were formed or developed in such a home.

 

            Such are the results of the latest researches in Vedic philology, mythology or calendar, regarding the ancient home of the Vedic people and the origin and the antiquity of their mythology. But to a man who is working in the same field, the question whether we have reached the utmost limit of our researches naturally occurs. It is a mistake to suppose that all the traditions and myths, and even the deities, mentioned in the ig-Veda were the creation of one period. To adopt a geological phrase, the ig-Veda, or we might even say the whole Vedic literature, is not arranged into different strata according to their chronological order, so that we can go on from once stratum to another and examine each separately. The ig-Veda is a book in which old things of different periods are so mixed up that we have to work long and patiently before we are able to separate and classify its contents in chronological order. I have stated before how owing to our imperfect knowledge of the ancient man and his surroundings this task is rendered difficult, or even impossible in some cases. But, as observed by Prof. Max Müller, it is the duty of each generation of Vedic scholars to reduce as much as possible the unintelligible portion of the ig-Veda, so that with the advance of scientific knowledge each succeeding generation may, in this matter, naturally be in a better position than its predecessors. The Vedic calendar, so far as we know or the Vedic mythology may not have, as yet, disclosed any indication of an Arctic home, but underneath the materials that have been examined, or even by their side, we may still find facts, which, though hitherto neglected, may, in the new light of scientific discoveries, lead to important conclusions. The mention of the luni-solar calendar in the ig-Veda ought not, therefore, to detain us from further pursuing our investigation by examining the texts and legends which have not yet been satisfactorily explained, and ascertaining how far such texts and legends indicate the existence of a Polar or Circum-Polar home in early times. The distinguishing characteristics of these regions have been already discussed and stated in the previous chapter, and all that we have now to do is to apply these tests, and decide if they are satisfied or fulfilled by the texts and legends under consideration.

 

            The spinning round of the heavenly dome over the head is one of the special characteristics of the North Pole, and the phenomenon is so peculiar that one may expect to find traces of it in the early traditions of a people, if they, or their ancestors ever lived near the North Pole. Applying this test to the Vedic literature, we do find passages which compare the motion of the heavens to that of wheel, and state that the celestial vault is supported as if on an axis. Thus in ig. X, 89, 4, Indra is said “to separately uphold up by his power heaven and earth as the two wheels of a chariot are held by  the axle.”*

 

 

Prof. Ludwig thinks that this refers to the axis of the earth, and the explanation is very probable. The same idea occurs in other places, and some times the sky is described as being supported even without a pole, testifying thereby to the great power or might of Indra (II, 15, 2; IV, 56, 3).†

 

 

In X, 80, 2, Indra is identified with Sûrya and he is described as “turning the widest expanse like the wheels of a chariot.”‡

 

 

The word for “expanse” is varâsi, which Sâyaa understands to mean “lights,” or “stars.” But whichever meaning we adopt, it is clear that the verse in question refers to the revolution of the sky, and compares to the motion of a chariot wheel. Now the heavens in the temperate and the tropical regions may be described as moving like a wheel, from east to west and then back again to the east, though the latter half of this circuit is not visible to the observer. But we cannot certainly speak of the tropical sky as being supported on a pole, for the simple reason that the North Pole, which must be the point of support in, such a case, will not be sufficiently near the zenith in the tropical or the temperate zone. If we, therefore, combine the two statements, that the heavens are supported as on a pole and that they move like a wheel, we may safely infer that the motion referred to is such a motion of the celestial hemisphere as can be witnessed only by an observer at the North Pole. In the ig-Veda§ I, 24, 10 the constellation of Ursa Major (ikha) is described as being placed “high” (uchhâh), and, as this can refer only to the altitude of the constellation, it follows that it must then have been over the head of the observer, which is possible only in the Circum-Polar regions.

 

Unfortunately there are few other passages in the ig-Veda which describe the motion of the celestial hemisphere or of the stars therein, and we must, therefore, take up another characteristic of the Polar regions, namely, “a day and a night of six months each,” and see if the Vedic literature contains any references to this singular feature of the Polar regions.

 

            The idea that the day and the night of the Gods are each of six months’ duration is so widespread in the Indian literature, that we examine it here at some length, and, for that purpose, commence with the Post-Vedic literature and trace it back to the most ancient books. It is found not only in the Purâas, but also in astronomical works, and as the latter state it in a more definite form we shall begin with the later Siddhântas. Mount Meru is the terrestrial North Pole of our astronomers, and the Sûrya-Siddhânta, XII, 67, says: — “At Meru Gods behold the sun after but a single rising during the half of his revolution beginning with Aries.” Now according to Purâas Meru is the home or seat of all the Gods, and the statement about their half-year-long night and day is thus easily and naturally explained; and all astronomers and divines have accepted the accuracy of the explanation. The day of the Gods corresponds with the passage of the sun from the vernal to the autumnal equinox, when the sun is visible at the North Pole, or the Meru; and the night with the Southern passage of sun, from the autumnal back to the vernal equinox. But Bhâskarâchârya, not properly understanding the passage which states that the “Uttarâyaa is a day of Gods,” has raised the question how Uttarâyaa, which in his day meant the passage of the sun from the winter to the summer solstice, could be the day of the Gods stationed at the North Pole; for an observer at the Pole can only see the sun in his passage from the vernal to the autumnal equinox. ( See Orion, p. 30.)

 

            But, as shown by me elsewhere, Bhâskarâchârya has here fallen into an error by attributing to the word Uttarâyaa, a sense which it did not bear in old times, or at least in the passages embodying this tradition. The old meaning of Uttarâyaa, literally, the northern passage of the sun, was the period of time required by the sun to travel from the vernal to the autumnal equinox, or the portion of the ecliptic in the northern hemisphere; and if we understand the word in this sense, the statement that the Uttarâyaa is a day of the Devas is at once plain and intelligible. Bhâskarâchârya’s reference to oldest astronomical Sahitâs clearly shows that the tradition was handed down from the oldest times. It is suggested that in these passages Gods may mean the apotheosized ancestors of the human race. But I do not think that we need any such explanation. If the ancestors of the human race ever lived at the North Pole, so must have their Gods; and I shall show in a subsequent chapter that the Vedic deities are, as a matter of fact clothed with attributes, which are distinctly Polar in origin. It makes, therefore, no difference for our purpose, if a striking feature of the primitive home is traditionally preserved and remembered as a characteristic of the Gods, or of the apotheosized ancestors of the race. We are concerned with the tradition itself, and our object is pained if its existence is clearly established.

 

            The next authority for the statement is Manu, I, 67. While describing the divisions of time it says, “A year (human) is a day and a night of the Gods; thus are the two divided, the northern passage of the sun is the day and the southern the night.” ( Manu, I, 67.)

 

 

The day and the night of the Gods are then taken as a unit for measuring longer periods of time as the Kalpas and so on, and Yâska’s Nirukta, XIV, 4, probably contains the same reference. Muir, in the first Volume of his Original Sanskrit Texts, gives some of these passages so far as they bear on the yuga-system found in the Purâas. But we are not concerned with the later development of the idea that the day and the night of the Gods each lasted for six months. What is important, from our point of view, is the persistent prevalence of this tradition in the Vedic and the Post-Vedic literature, which can only be explained on the hypothesis that originally it must have been the result of actual observation. We shall, therefore, next quote the Mahâbhârata, which gives such a clear description of Mount Meru, the lord of the mountains, as to leave no doubt its being the North Pole, or possessing the Polar characteristics. In chapters 163 and 164 of the Vanaparvan, Arjuna’s visit to the Mount is described in detail and we are therein told, “at Meru the sun and the moon go round from left to right (Pradakhiam) every day and so do all the stars.” Later on the writer informs us: — “The mountain, by its lustre, so overcomes the darkness of night, that the night can hardly be distinguished from the day.” A few verses further, and we find, “The day and the night are together equal to a year to the residents of the place.”*

 

* The verses (Calcutta Ed.) are as follows: Vana-parvan, Chap. 163, vv. 37, 38. Ibid, Chap. 164, vv. 11, 13.

night and day of the Gods persistently mentioned, but the Mount Meru, or the North Pole, is, described with such accuracy as to lead. us to believe that it is an ancient tradition, whose origin must be traced to a time when these phenomena were daily observed by the people; and this is confirmed, by the fact that the tradition is not confined only to the Post-Vedic literature.

 

 

These quotations are quite sufficient to convince any one that at the time when the great epic was composed Indian writers had a tolerably accurate knowledge of the meteorological and astronomical characteristics of the North Pole, and this knowledge cannot be supposed to have been acquired by mere mathematical calculations. The reference to the lustre of the mountain is specially interesting, inasmuch as, in all probability, it is a description of the splendors of the Aurora Borealis visible at the North Pole. So far as the Post-Vedic literature is concerned, we have, therefore, not only the tradition of the half-year-long

 

 

            Passing on, therefore, to the Vedic literature, we find Mount Meru described as the seat of seven Âdityas in the Taittirîya Ârayaka I, 7, 1, while the eighth Âditya, called Kashyapa is said never to leave the great Meru or Mahâmeru. Kashyapa is further described as communicating light to the seven Âdityas, and himself perpetually illumining the great mountain. It is, however, in the Taittirîya Brâhmaa (III, 9, 22, 1), that we meet with a passage which clearly says, “That which is a year is but a single day of the Gods.” The statement is so clear that there can be no doubt whatever about its meaning. A year of the mortals is said to be but a day of the Gods; but, at one time, I considered it extremely hazardous* to base any theory even upon such a clear statement, inasmuch as it then appeared p me to be but solitary in the Vedic literature. (Taitt. Br. III, 9, 22, 1. See Orion, p. 30 note. (Ed. 1955). )

 

 

I could not then find anything to match it in the Sahitâs and especially in the ig-Veda and I was inclined to hold that Uttarâyaa and Dakhiâyana were, in all probability, described in this way as “day” and “night” with a qualifying word to mark their special nature. Later researches have however forced on me the conclusion that the tradition, represented by this passage, indicates the existence of a Polar home in old days, and I have set forth in the sequel the evidence on which I have come to the above conclusion. There are several theories on which the above statement in the Taittirîya Brâhmaa can be explained. We may regard it as the outcome of pure imagination, or of a metaphor expressing in figurative language a fact quite different from the one denoted by the words used, or it may be the result of actual observation by the writer himself or by persons from whom he traditionally derived his information. It may also be considered as based on astronomical calculations made in later days, what was originally an astronomical inference being subsequently converted into a real observed fact. The last of these suppositions would have appeared probable, if the tradition had been confined only to the Post-Vedic literature, or merely to the astronomical works. But we cannot suppose that during the times of the Brâhmaas the astronomical knowledge was so far advanced as to make it possible to fabricate a fact by mathematical calculation, even supposing that the Vedic poets were capable of making such a fabrication. Even in the days of Herodotus the statement that “there existed a people who slept for six months” was regarded “incredible” (IV, 24); and we must, therefore, give up the idea, that several centuries before Herodotus, a statement regarding the day or the night of the Gods could have been fabricated in the way stated above. But all doubts on the point are set at rest by the occurrence of an almost identical statement in the sacred books of the Parsis. In the Vendidad, Fargard II, para 40, (or, according to Spiegel, para 133), we find the sentence, Tae cha ayara mainyaente yat yare, meaning “They regard, as a day, what is a year.” This is but a paraphrase of the statement, in the Taittirîya Brâhmaa, and the context in the Parsi scriptures removes all possible doubts regarding the Polar character of the statement. The latter part of the second Fargard, wherein this passage occurs, contains a discourse between Ahura Mazda and Yima.* Ahura Mazda warns Yima, the first king of men, of the approach of a dire winter, which is to destroy every living creature by covering the land with a thick sheet of ice, and advises Yima to build a Vara, or an enclosure, to preserve the seeds of every kind of animals and plants. ( See Sacred Books of the East Series, Vol. IV, pp. 15-31. )

 

The meeting is said to have taken place in the Airyana Vaêjo,or the paradise of the Iranians. The Vara, or the enclosure, advised by Ahura Mazda, is accordingly prepared, and Yima asked Ahura Mazda, “O Maker of the material world, thou Holy One! What lights are there to give light in the Vara which Yima made?” Ahura Mazda answered, “There are uncreated lights and created lights. There the stars, the moon and the sun are only once (a year) seen to rise and set, and a year seems only as a day.” I have taken Darmesteter’s rendering but Spiegel’s is substantially the same. This passage is important from various standpoints. First of all it tells us, that the Airyana Vaêjo, or the original home of the Iranians, was a place which was rendered uninhabitable by glaciation; and secondly that in this original home the sun rose and set only once in the year, and that the year was like a day to the inhabitants of the place. The bearing of the passage in regard to glaciation will be discussed latter on. For the present, it is enough to point out how completely it corroborates and elucidates the statement in the Taittirîya Brâhmaa stated and discussed above. The yearly rising and setting of the sun is possible only at the North Pole and the mention of this characteristic leaves no room for doubting that the Vara and the Airyana Vaêjo were both located in the Arctic or Circum-Polar regions, and that the passage in the Taittirîya Brâhmaa also refers to the Polar year. The fact that the statement is found both in the Iranian and the Indian literature further negatives the probability of its being a fabrication from mathematical calculation. Nor can we suppose that both the branches of the Aryan race became acquainted with this fact simply by an effort of unassisted imagination, or that it was a mere metaphor. The only remaining alternative is to hold, as Sir Charles Lyell* has remarked, that the tradition was “founded on the observation of Nature.” (See Elements of Geology, 11th Ed., Vol. I, p. 8. )

 

            It is true, that the statement, or anything similar to it, is not found in the ig-Veda; but it will be shown later on that there are many other passages in the ig-Veda which go to corroborate this statement in a remarkable way by referring to other Polar characteristics. I may, however, mention here the fact that the oldest Vedic year appears to have been divided only into two portions, the Devayâna and the Pitiyâna, which originally corresponded with the Uttârayaa and the Dâkhiayana, or the day and the night of the Gods. The word Devayâna occurs several times in the ig-Veda Sahitâ, and denotes “the path of the Gods.” Thus in the ig-Veda, I, 72, 7, Agni is said to be cognizant of the Devayâna road, and in ig. I, 183, 6, and 184, 6, the poet says, “We have, O Ashvins! reached the end of darkness; now come to us by the Devayâna road.” In VII, 76, 2, we again read, “The Devayâna path has become visible to me... The banner of the Dawn has appeared in the east.” Passages like these clearly indicate that the road of the Devayâna commenced at the rise of the Dawn, or after the end of darkness; and that it was the road by which Agni, Ashvins, Uhas, Sûrya and other matutinal deities traveled during their heavenly course. The path of the Pitis, or the Pitiyâna, is, on the other hand, described in X, 18, 1, as the “reverse of Devayâna, or the path of Death.” In, the ig-Veda, X, 88, 15, the poet says that he has, “heard” only of “two roads, one of the Devas and the other of the Pitis.” If the Devayâna, therefore, commenced with the Dawn, we must suppose that the Pitiyâna, commenced with the advent of darkness. Sâyaa is, therefore, correct in interpreting V, 77, 2, as stating that “the evening is not for the Gods (devayâ).” Now if the Devayâna and the Pitiyâna were only synonymous with ordinary ‘day and night, there was obviously no propriety in stating that these were the only two paths or roads known to the ancient ihis, and they could not have been described as consisting of three seasons each, beginning with the spring, (Shat. Brâ. II, 1, 3, 1-3).*

 

 

It seems, therefore, very probable that the Devayâna and the Pitiyâna originally represented a two-fold division of the year, one of continuous light and the other of continuous darkness as at the North Pole; and that though it was not suited to the later home of the Vedic people it was retained, because it was an established and recognized fact in the language, like the seven suns, or the seven horses of a single sun. The evidence in support of this view will be stated in subsequent chapters. It is sufficient to observe in this place, that if we interpret the twofold division of the Devayâna and the Pitiyâna in this way, it fully corroborates the statement in the Taittirîya Brâhmaa that a year was but a day of the Gods. We may also note in this connection that the expression “path of the Gods” occurs even in the Parsi scriptures. Thus in the Farvardîn Yasht, paras 56, 57, the Fravashis, which correspond with the Pitis in the Vedic literature, are said to have shown to the sun and the moon “the path made by Mazda, the way made by the Gods,” along which the Fravashis themselves are described as growing. The sun and the moon are, again, said to have “stood for a long time in the same place, without moving forwards through the oppression of the Dævas (Vedic Asuras, or the demons of darkness),” before the Fravashis showed “the path of Mazda,” to these two luminaries.(See Sacred Books of the East Series, Vol. XXIII, pp. 193-194. )

 

This shows that “the path of Mazda” commenced, like the Devayâna road, when the sun was set free from the clutches of the demons of darkness. In other words, it represented the period of the year when the sun was above the horizon at the place where the ancestors of the Indo-Iranian lived in ancient days. We have seen that the Devayâna, or the path of the Gods, is the way along which Sûrya, Agni and other matutinal deities are said to travel in the ig-Veda; and the Parsi scriptures supplement this information by telling us that the sun stood still before the Fravashis showed to him “the path of Mazda,” evidently meaning that the Devayâna, or “the path of Mazda,” was the portion of the year when the sun was above the horizon after being confined for some time by the powers of darkness.

 

            But the correspondence between the Indian and the Parsi scriptures does not stop here. There is a strong prejudice, connected with the Pitiyâna, found in the later Indian literature, and even this has its parallel in the Parsi scriptures. The Hindus consider it inauspicious for a man to die during the Pitiyâna, and the great Mahâbhârata warrior, Bhihma, is said to have waited on his death-bed until the sun passed through the winter solstice, as the Dâkhiayana, which is synonymous with the Pitiyâna, was then understood to mean the time required by the sun to travel from the summer to the winter solstice.” A number of passages scattered over the whole Upanishad literature support the same view, by describing the course of the soul of a man according as he dies during the Devayâna or the Pitiyâna, and exhibiting a marked preference for the fate of the soul of a man dying during the path of the Gods, or the Devayâna. All these passages will be found collected in Shankarâchârya’s Bhâhya on Brahma-Sûtras, IV, 2, 18-21, wherein Bâdarâyaa,† anxious to reconcile all these passages with the practical difficulty sure to be experienced if death during the night of the Gods were held to be absolutely unmeritorious from a religious point of view, has recorded his opinion that we must not interpret these texts as predicating an uncomfortable future life for every man dying during the Dâkhiayana or the night of the Gods. ( For the text and discussion thereon, see Orion, p. 38. (Ed. 1955) See also Orion, pp. 24-26. (Ed. 1955) )

 

 

As an alternative Bâdarâyaa, therefore, adds that these passages may be taken to refer to the Yogins who desire to attain to a particular kind of heaven after death. Whatever we may think of this view, we can, in this attempt of Bâdarâyaa, clearly see a distinct consciousness of the existence of a tradition, which, if it did not put an absolute ban on death during the night of the Gods, did, at any rate, clearly disapprove of such occurrences from a religious point of view. If the Pitiyâna originally represented, as stated above, a period of continuous darkness the tradition can be easily and rationally explained; for as the Pitiyâna then meant an uninterrupted night, the funeral ceremonies of any one dying during the period were deferred till the break of the dawn at the end of the Pitiyâna, or the commencement of the Devayâna. Even now death during night is considered inauspicious, and the funeral generally takes place after daybreak.

 

            The Parsi scriptures are still more explicit. In the Vendidad, Fargards V, 10, and VIII, 4, a question is raised how the worshipper of Mazda should act, when a death takes place in a house when the summer has passed and the winter has come; and Ahura Mazda answers, “In such cases a Kata (ditch) should be made in every house and there the lifeless body should be allowed to lie for two nights, or for three nights, or for a month long, until the birds begin to fly, the plants to grow, the floods to flow, and the wind to dry up the water from off the earth.” Considering the fact that the dead body of a worshipper of Mazda is required to be ex posed to the sun before it is consigned to birds, the only reason for keeping the dead body in the house for one month seems to be that it was a month of darkness. The description of birds beginning to fly, and the floods to flow, &c., reminds one of the description of the dawn in the ig-Veda, and it is quite probable that the expressions here denote the same phenomenon as in the ig-Veda, In fact they indicate a winter of total darkness during which the corpse is directed to be kept in the house, to be exposed to the sun on the first breaking of the dawn after the long night. (See infra Chapter IX. )

 

It will, however, be more convenient to discuss these passages, after examining the whole of the Vedic evidence in favor of the Arctic home. I have referred to them here to show the complete correspondence between the Hindu and the Parsi scriptures regarding the day and the night of the Gods, and their unmistakable Polar characteristics indicating the existence of an early home within the Arctic circle.

 

            The same traditions are also found in the literature of other branches of the Aryan race, besides the Hindus and the Parsis. For instance, Dr. Warren quotes Greek traditions similar to those we have discussed above. Regarding the primitive revolution of the sky, Anaximenes, we are told, likened the motions of the heaven in early days to “the rotating of a man’s hat on his head.” (See Paradise Found, 10th Ed., pp. 192 and 200)

 

 Another Greek writer is quoted to show that “at first the Pole-star always appeared in the zenith.” It is also stated, on the authority of Anton, Krichenbauer, that in the Iliad and Odyssey two kinds of days are continually referred to one of a year’s duration, especially when describing the life and exploits of the Gods, and the other twenty-four hours. The night of the Gods has its parallel also in the Norse mythology, which mentions “the Twilight of the Gods,” denoting by that phrase the time when the reign of Odin and the Æsir, or Gods, would come to an end, not forever, but to be again revived; for we are told that “from the dead sun springs a daughter more beautiful than her sire, and mankind starts afresh from the life-raiser and his bride-life.” (See Cox’s Mythology of the Aryan Nations, p. 41, quoting Brown’s Religion and Mythology of the Aryans of the North of Europe, Arts, 15-1. )

 

If these traditions and statements are correct, they show that the idea of half-yearly night and day of the Gods is not only Indo-Iranian, but Indo-Germanic, and that it must therefore, have originated in. the original home of the Aryans.

 

Comparative mythology, it will be shown in a subsequent chapter, fully supports the view of an original Arctic home of the Aryan races, and there is nothing surprising if the traditions about a day and a night of six months are found not only in the Vedic and the Iranian, but also in the Greek and the Norse literature. It seems to have been an idea traditionally inherited by all the branches of the Aryan race, and, as it is distinctly Polar in character, it is alone enough to establish the existence of an Arctic home. But fortunately for us our edifice need not be erected on this solitary pillar, as there is, ample evidence in the Vedic literature which supports the Arctic theory by satisfying almost all the Polar and Circum-Polar tests laid down in the last chapter. The long revolving dawn is another peculiar characteristic of the North Pole, and we shall see in the next chapter that the Rig-Vedic account of the dawn is intelligible only if we take it as referring to the Polar dawn.

 


 

 

 

CHAPTER V

 

THE VEDIC DAWNS

 

Dawn-hymns the most beautiful in the ig-Veda — The Deity fully described, unobscured by personification — First hints about the long duration of dawn — Recitation of a thousand verses, or even the whole ig-Veda, while the dawn lasts — Three or five-fold division of the dawn — Both imply a long dawn — The same inferred from the two words Uhas and Vyuhî — Three ig-Vedic passages about long dawns, hitherto misunderstood, discussed — Long interval of several days between the first appearance of light and sunrise — Expressly mentioned in the ig-Veda, VII, 76, 3 — Sâyaa’s explanation artificial and unsatisfactory — Existence of many dawns before sunrise — Reason why dawn is addressed in the plural in the ig-Veda — The plural address not honorific — Nor denotes dawns of consecutive days — Proves a team of continuous dawns — The last view confirmed by the Taittirîya Sahitâ, IV, 3, 11 — Dawns as 30 sisters — Direct authority from the Taittirîya Brâhmaa for holding that they were continuous or unseparated — Sâyaa’s explanation of 30 dawns examined — Thirty dawns described as thirty steps of a single dawn — Rotatory motion of the dawn, like a wheel, directly mentioned in the ig-Veda — Their reaching the same appointed place day by day — All indicate a team of thirty closely-gathered dawns — Results summed up — Establish the Polar character of the Vedic dawns — Possible variation in the duration of the Vedic dawn— The legend of Indra shattering the Dawn’s car explained — Direct passages showing that the dawns so described were the events of a former age — The Vedic Dawns Polar in character.

 

 

            The ig-Veda, we have seen, does not contain distinct references to a day and a night of six months’ duration though the deficiency is more than made up by parallel passages from the Iranian scriptures. But in the case of the dawn, the long continuous dawn with its revolving splendors, which is the special characteristic of the North Pole, there is fortunately no such difficulty. Uhas, or the Goddess of Dawn, is an important and favorite Vedic deity and is celebrated in about twenty hymns of the ig-Veda and mentioned more than three hundred times, sometimes in the singular and sometimes in the plural. These hymns, according to Muir, are amongst the most beautiful, — if not the most beautiful, — in the entire collection; and the deity, to which they are addressed, is considered by Macdonell to be the most graceful creation of Vedic poetry, there being no more charming figure in the descriptive religious lyrics of any other literature. (See Muir’s Original Sanskrit Texts, Vol. V. p. 181; and Macdonell’s Vedic Mythology, p. 46. )

 

In short, Uhas, or the Goddess of Dawn, is described in the ig-Veda hymns with more than usual fullness and what is still more important for our purpose is that the physical character of the deity is not, in the least, obscured by the description or the personification in the hymns. Here, therefore, we have a fine opportunity of proving the validity of our theory, by showing, if possible, that the oldest description of the dawn is really Polar in character. A priori it does not look probable that the Vedic poets could have gone into such raptures over the short-lived dawn of the tropical or the temperate zone, or that so much anxiety about the coming dawn should have been evinced, simply because the Vedic bards had no electric light or candles to use during the short night of less than 24 hours. But the dawn-hymns have not, as yet, been examined from this stand-point. It seems to have been tacitly assumed by all interpreters of the Vedas, Eastern and Western, that the Uhas of the ig-Veda can be no other than the dawn with which we are familiar in the tropical or the temperate zone. That Yâska and Sâyaa thought so is natural enough, but even the Western scholars have taken the same view, probably under the influence of the theory that the plateau of Central Asia was the original home of the Aryan race. Therefore several expressions in the dawn-hymns, which would have otherwise suggested the inquiry regarding the physical or the astronomical character of the Vedic dawn, have been either ignored, or somehow explained away, by scholars, who could certainly have thrown more light on the subject, had they not been under the influence of the assumption mentioned above. It is with passages like these that we are here chiefly concerned, and we shall presently see that if these are interpreted in a natural way, they fully establish the Polar nature of the Vedic dawn.

 

            The first hint, regarding the long duration of the Vedic dawn, is obtained from the Aitareya Brâhmaa, IV, 7. Before commencing the Gavâm-ayana sacrifice, there is a long recitation of not less than a thousand verses, to be recited by the Hoti priest. This Ashvina-shastra, as it is called, is addressed to Agni, Uhas and Ashvins, which deities rule at the end of the night and the commencement of the day. It is the longest recitation to be recited by the Hoti and the time for reciting it is after midnight, when “the darkness of the night is about to be relieved by the light of the dawn” (Nir. XII, I; Ashv. Shr. Sutra, VI, 5, 8).(Nir. XII, 1.)

 

The same period of time is referred to also in the ig-Veda, VII, 67, 2 and 3. The shastra is so long, that the Hoti, who has to recite it, is directed to refresh himself by drinking beforehand melted butter after sacrificing thrice a little of it (Ait. Br. IV, 7; Ashv. Shr. Sûtra; VI, 5, 3). “He ought to eat ghee,” observes the Aitareya Brâhmaa, “before he commences repeating. Just as in this world a cart or a carriage goes well if smeared (with oil),† thus his repeating proceeds well if he be smeared with ghee (by eating it).”  (See Haug’s Translation off Ait. Br., p. 270. )

 

It is evident that if such a recitation has to be finished before the rising of the sun, either the Hoti must commence his task soon after midnight when it is dark, or the duration of the dawn must then have been sufficiently long to enable the priest to finish the recitation in time after commencing to recite it on the first appearance of light on the horizon as directed. The first supposition is out of the question, as it is expressly laid down that the shastra, is not to be recited until the darkness of the night is relieved by light. So between the first appearance of light and the rise of the sun, there must have been, in those days, time enough to recite the long laudatory song of not lees than a  thousand verses. Nay, in the Taittirîya Sahitâ (II, 1, 10, 3) we are told that sometimes the recitation of the shastra though commenced at the proper time, ended long before sunrise, and in that case, the Sahitâ requires that a certain animal sacrifice should be performed. Ashvalâyana directs that in such a case the recitation should be continued up to sunrise by reciting other hymns (Ashv. S.S. VI, 5, 8); while Âpastamba (S.S. XIV, 1 and 2), after mentioning the sacrifice referred to in the Taittirîya Sahitâ, adds that all the ten Maṇḍalas of the ig-Veda may be recited, if necessary, in such a case. (Ashv. S. S. VI, 5, 8. Âpastamba XIV, I & 2. The first of these two Sûtras is the reproduction of T. S. II, 1, 10, 3. )

 

It is evident from this that the actual rising of the sun above the horizon was a phenomenon often delayed beyond expectation, in those days and in several places in the Taittirîya Sahitâ, (II, 1, 2, 4  Cf. also T. S. II, 1, 4, 1)† we are told that the Devas had to perform a prâyaschitta because the sun did not shine as expected.

 

            Another indication of the long duration of the dawn is furnished by the Taittirîya Sahitâ, VIII 2. 20.

Seven oblations are here mentioned, one to Uhas one to Vyuhi one to Udehyat, one to Udyat, one to Uditâ one to Suvarga and one to Loka. Five of these are evidently intended for the dawn in its five forms. The Taittirîya Brâhmaa (III, 8, 16, 4) explains the first two, viz., to Uhas and Vyuhi, as referring to dawn and sunrise, or rather to night and day, for according to the Brâhmaa “Uhas is night, and Vyuhi is day.” Tait. Br. III, 8, 16, 4.

 

 

 

But even though we may accept this as correct and we take Uhas and Vyuhi to be the representatives of night and day because the former signalizes the end of the night and the latter the beginning of the day, still we have to account for three oblations, viz. one to the dawn about to rise (Udehyat,) one to the rising dawn (Udyat), and one to the dawn that has risen (Uditâ) the first two of which are according to the Taittirîya Brâhmaa, to be offered before the rising of the sun. Now the dawn in the tropical zone is so short that the three-fold distinction between the dawn that is about to rise, the dawn that is rising, and one that has risen or that is full-blown (vi-uhi) is a distinction without a difference. We must, therefore, hold that the dawn which admitted such manifold division for the practical purpose of sacrifice, was a long dawn.

 

            The three-fold division of the dawn does not seem to be unknown to the poets of the ig-Veda. For, in VIII, 41, 3, Varua’s “dear ones are said to have prospered the three dawns for him,”* and by the phrase tisra dânuchitrâ in I, 174, 7, “three dew-lighted” dawns appear to be referred to. There are other passages in the ig-Veda† where the dawn is asked not to delay, or tarry long, lest it might be scorched liked a thief by the sun (V, 79, 9); and in II, 15, 6, the steeds of the dawn are said to be (slow) (ajavasa), showing that the people were sometimes tired to see the dawn lingering long on the horizon. But a still more remarkable statement is found in I, 113, 13, where the poet distinctly asserts,‡ “the Goddess Uhas dawned continually or perpetually (shasvat) in former days (purâ);” and the adjective shashvat-tamâ (the most lasting) is applied to the dawn in I, 118, 11.

 

 

Again the very existence and use of two such words as uhas and vi-uhi is, by itself, a proof of the long duration of the dawn; for, if the dawn was brief, there was no practical necessity of speaking of the full-blown state (vi+uhi) of the dawn as has been done several times in the ig-Veda. The expression, uhasah vi-uhau, occurs very often in the ig-Veda and it has been translated by the phrase, on the flashing forth of the dawn.” But no one seems to have raised the question why two separate words, one of which is derived from the other simply by prefixing the preposition vi, should be used in this connection. Words are made to denote ideas and if uhas and vi-uhi were not required to denote two distinct phenomena, no one, especially in those early days, would have cared to use a phrase, which, for all ordinary purposes, was superfluously cumbrous. But these facts, howsoever suggestive, may not be regarded as conclusive and we shall, therefore, now turn to the more explicit passages in the hymns regarding the duration of the Vedic dawn.

            The first verse I would quote in this connection is ig-Veda I, 113, 10: — *

 

                        Kiyâti â yât samayâ bhavâti

                        yâ vyûhuryâshcha nunam vyuchhân

                        Anu pûrvâ kipate vâvashâna

                        pradidhyânâ joham anyâbhir eti

 

The first quarter of the verse is rather difficult. The words are kiyâti ā yat samayâ bhavâti, and Sâyaa, whom Wilson follows, understands samayâ to mean “near.” Prof, Max Müller translates samayâ (Gr. Omos, Lat, Simul,) by “together,” “at once” while Roth, Grassmann and Aufrecht take samayâ bhavâti as one expression meaning “that which intervenes between the two.” (See Petersberg Lexicon, and Grassmann’s Worterbuch, s. v. Samayâ; and Muir’s O. S. Texts, Vol. V, p. 189.)

 

This has given rise to three different translations of the verse: —

 

 

            WILSON, (following Sâyaa): For how long a period is it that the dawns have arisen? For how long a period will they rise? Still desirous to bring us light, Uhas pursues the function of those that have gone before and shining brightly, proceeds with the others (that are to follow).

 

            GRIFFITH, (following Max Müller): — How long a time and they shall be together, — Dawns that have shone and Dawns to shine hereafter? She yearns for former Dawns with eager longing and goes forth gladly shining with the others.

 

            MUIR, (following Aufrecht): — How great is the interval that lies between the Dawns which have arisen and those which are yet to rise? Uhas yearns longingly after the former Dawns, and gladly goes on shining with the others (that are to come).

 

            But in spite of those different renderings, the meaning of the verse, so far as the question before us is concerned, can be easily gathered. There are two sets of dawns, one of, those that have past, and the other of those that are yet to shine. If we adopt Wilson’s and Griffith’s translations, the meaning is that these two classes of dawns, taken together, occupy such a long period of time as to raise the question, — How long they will be together? In other words, the two classes of dawns, taken together, were of such a long duration that men began to question as to when they would terminate, or pass away. If, on the other hand, we adopt Aufrecht’s translation, a, long period appears to have intervened between the past and the coming dawns; or, in other words, there was a long break or hiatus in the regular sequence of these dawns. In the first case, the description is only possible if we suppose that the duration of the dawns was very long, much longer than what we see in the temperate or the tropical zone; while in the second, a long interval between the past and the present dawns must be taken to refer to a long pause, or night, occurring immediately before the second set of dawns commenced their new course, — a phenomenon which is possible only in the Arctic regions. Thus whichever interpretation we adopt — a long dawn, or a long night between the two sets of dawns, — the description is intelligible, only if we take it to refer to the Polar conditions previously mentioned. The Vedic passages, discussed hereafter, seem, however, to support Sâyaa’s or Max Müller’s view. A number of dawns is spoken of, some past and some yet to come: and the two groups are said to occupy a very long interval. That seems to be the real meaning of the verse. But without laying much stress on any particular meaning for the present, it is enough for our purpose to show that, even adopting Aufrecht’s rendering, we cannot escape from the necessity of making the description refer to the Polar conditions. The verse in question is the tenth in the hymn, and it may be noticed that in the 13th verse of the same hymn we are told that “in former days, perpetually ‘shashvat’ did the Goddess Uhas shine,” clearly indicating that the Dawn, in early days, lasted for a long time.

 

            The following verse is, however, still more explicit, and decisive on the point. The seventh Maṇḍala of the ig-Veda contains a number of dawn-hymns. In one of these (VII, 76), the poet, after stating in the first two verses that the Dawns have raised their banner on the horizon with their usual splendor, expressly tells us, (verse 3), that a period of several days elapsed between the first appearance of the dawn on the horizon and the actual rising of the sun that followed it. As the verse* is very important for our purpose, I give below the Pada text with an interlineal word for word translation: —

 

Taniitahânibahulâneâsan

Thoseverilydaysmanywere

Yâprâchînamud-itâsuryasya |

whichaforetimeon the uprisingof the sun

Yataparijâre-ivaâ-charanti

from whichaftertowards a loverlike, moving on

U,dadikhenapunayatî-îva ||

O Dawnwast seennotagain forsaking(woman), like

 

           

I have followed Sâyaa in splitting jâra-iva of Sahitâ text into jâre+iva, and not jâra+iva as Shâkala has done in the Pada text; for jâre+iva makes the simile more appropriate than if we were to compare usas with jârah. Literally rendered the verse, therefore, means, “Verily, many were those days which were aforetime at the uprising of the sun, and about which, O Dawn! thou wast seen moving on, as towards a lover, and not like one (woman) who forsakes.” I take pari with yata, meaning that the dawn goes after the days. Yata pari, thus construed, means “after which,” or “about which.” Sâyaa takes pari with dadikhe and Griffith renders yata by “since.” But these constructions do not materially alter the meaning of the second half of the verse, though taking pari with yata enables us to take the second line as an adjectival clause, rendering the meaning more plain. In IV, 52, 1, the Dawn is said to shine after her sister (svasu pari), and pari, with an ablative, does not necessarily denote “from” in every case but is used in various senses, as, for instance, in III, 5, 10, where the phrase Bhigubhya pari occurs, and is rendered by Grassmann as equivalent to “for the sake of Bhigus,” while Sâyaa paraphrases pari by parita “round about.” In the verse under consideration we can, therefore, take pari with yata and understand the expression as meaning “after, about or around which (days).” It must also be borne in mind that there must be an expression to correspond with jâre in the simile and this we get only if we construe yata pari in the way proposed above. If we now analyze the verse it will be found to be made up of three clauses, one principal and two adjectival. The principal statement asserts that those days were many. The demonstrative “those” (tâni) is them followed by two relative clauses, prâchînam &c., and, yata pari &c. The first of these states that the days referred to in the principal clause were those that “preceded the rising of the sun.”But if the days preceded the rising of the sun, one might think that they were pervaded with darkness. The poet, therefore, further adds, in the second relative clause, that though these days were anterior to the rising of the sun, yet they were such that “the Dawn was seen to move after or about them as after a loner, and not like a woman who forsakes.” In short, the verse states in unmistakable terms (1) that many days (bahulâni ahâni) passed between the appearance of the first morning beams and sunrise, and (2) that these days were faithfully attended by the Dawn, meaning that the whole period was one of continuous Dawn, which never vanished during the time. The words as they stand convey no other meaning but this, and we have now to see how far it is intelligible to us.

 

            To the commentators the verse is a perfect puzzle. Thus Sâyaa does not understand how the word “days” (ahâni) can be applied to a period of time anterior to sunrise; for, says he, “The word day (aha) is used only to denote such a period of time as is invested with light of the Dawn.” Then, again he is obviously at a loss to understand how a number of days can be said to have elapsed between the first beams of the dawn and sunrise. These were serious difficulties for Sâyaa and the only way to get over them was to force an unnatural sense upon the words, and make them yield some intelligible meaning. This was no difficult task for Sâyaa. The word ahâni, which means “days,” was the only stumbling block in his way, and instead of taking it in the sense in which it is ordinarily used, without exception, everywhere in the ig-Veda, he went back to its root-meaning, and interpreted it as equivalent to “light” or “splendor.” Ahan is derived from the root ah (or philologically dah), “to burn,” or “shine,” and Ahanâ meaning “dawn” is derived from the same root. Etymologically ahâni may, therefore, mean splendors; but the question is whether it is so used anywhere, and why we should here give up the ordinary meaning of the word. Sâyaa’s answer is given above. It is because the word “day” (ahan) can, according to him, be applied only to a period after sunrise and before sunset. But this reasoning is not sound, because in the ig-Veda VI, 9, 1, aha is applied to the dark as well as to the bright period of time, for the verse says, “there is a dark day (aha) and a bright day (aha).” This shows that the Vedic poets were in the habit of using the word aha (day) to denote a period of time devoid of the light of the sun.*

 

 

 

Sâyaa knew this, and in his commentary on I, 185, 4, he expressly says that the word aha may include night. His real difficulty was different, viz., the impossibility of supposing that a period of several days could have elapsed between the first appearance of light and sunrise, and this difficulty seems to have been experienced even by Western scholars. Thus Prof. Ludwig materially adopts Sâyaa’s view and interprets the verse to mean that the splendors of the dawn were numerous, and that they appear either before sunrise, or, if prâchînam be differently interpreted “in the east” at the rising of the sun. Roth and Grassman seem to interpret prâchînam in the same way. Griffith translates ahâni by “mornings” and prâchînam by “aforetime.” His rendering of the verse runs thus: — “Great is, in truth, the number of the mornings, which were aforetime at the sun’s uprising; since thou, O Dawn, hast been beheld repairing as to thy love, as one no more to leave him.” But Griffith does not explain what he understands by the expression, “a number of mornings which were aforetime at the sun’s uprising.”

 

            The case is, therefore, reduced to this. The word ahan, of which ahâni (days) is a plural form, can be ordinarily interpreted to mean (1) a period of time between sunrise and sunset; (2) a nycthemeron, as when we speak of 360 days of the year; or (3) a measure of time to mark a period of 24 hours, irrespective of the fact whether the sun is above or below the horizon, as when we speak of the long Arctic night of 30 days. Are we then to abandon all these meanings, and understand ahâni to mean “splendors” in the verse under consideration? The only difficulty is to account for the interval of many days between the appearance of the banner of the Dawn on the horizon and the emergence of the sun’s orb over it; and this difficulty vanishes if the description be taken to refer to the dawn in the Polar or Circum-Polar regions. That is the real key to the meaning of this and similar other passages which will be noted hereafter; and in its absence a number of artificial devices have been made use of to make these passages somehow intelligible to us. But now nothing of the kind is necessary. As regards the word “days” it has been observed that we often speak “a night of several days,” or a “night of several months” when describing the Polar phenomena. In expressions like these the word “day” or “month” simply denotes a measure of time equivalent to “twenty-four hours,” or “thirty days;” and there is nothing unusual in the exclamation of the Rig-Vedic poet that “many were the days between the first beams of the dawn and actual sunrise.” We have also seen that, at the Pole, it is quite possible to mark the periods of twenty-four hours by the rotations of the celestial sphere or the circum-polar stars, and these could be or rather must have been termed “days” by the inhabitants of the place. In the first chapter of the Old Testament we were told that God created the heaven and the earth and also light “on the first day,” while the sun was created on the fourth “to divide the day from the night and to rule ‘the day.” Here the word “day” is used to denote a period of time even before the sun was created; and a fortiori, there can be no impropriety in using it to denote a period of time before sunrise. We need not, therefore, affect a hypercritical spirit in examining the Vedic expression in question. If Sâyaa did it, it was because he did not know as much about the Polar regions as we now do. We have no such excuse and must, therefore, accept the meaning which follows from the natural construction and reading of the sentence.

 

            It is therefore clear that the verse in question (VII, 76, 3) expressly describes a dawn continuously lasting for many days, which is possible only in the Arctic regions. I have discussed the passage at so much length because the history of its interpretation clearly shows how certain passages in the ig-Veda, which are unintelligible to us in spite of their simple diction, have been treated by commentators, who know not what to make of them if read in a natural way. But to proceed with the subject in hand, we have seen that the Polar dawn could be divided into periods of 24 hours owing to the circuits it makes round the horizon. In such a case we can very well speak of these divisions as so many day-long dawns of 24 hours each and state that so many of them are past and so many are yet to come, as has been done in the verse (I, 113, 10) discussed above. We may also say that so many day-long dawns have passed and yet the sun has not risen, as in II, 28, 9, a verse addressed to Varua wherein the poet asks for the following boon from the deity: —

 

                        Para iâ sâvîr adha mat-kritâni

                        mâ aham râjan anya-kitena bhojam |

                        Avyuhâ in nu bhûyasîr uhâsa

                        â no jîvân Varua tâsu shâdhi ||

 

            Literally translated this means “Remove far the debts (sins) incurred by me. May I not, O King! be affected by others’ doings. Verily, many dawns (have) not fully (vi) flashed forth. O Varua! direct that we may be alive during them.”*

 

 

The first part of this verse contains a prayer usually addressed to Gods, and we have nothing to say with respect to it, so far as the subject in hand is concerned. The only expression necessary to be discussed is bhûyasî uhâsa avyuhâ in third quarter of the verse. The first two words present no difficulty. They mean “many dawns.” Now avyuha is a negative participle from vyuha, which again is derived from uhta with vi prefixed. I have referred to the distinction between uhas and vyuhi suggested by the threefold or the five-fold division of the dawn. Vyuhi, according to the Taittirîya Brâhmaa, means “day,” or rather “the flashing forth of the dawn into sunrise” and the word a+vi+uha, therefore, means “not-fully-flashed-forth into sunrise.” But Sâyaa and others do not seem to have kept in view this distinction between the meanings of uhas and vyuhi; or if they did, they did not know or had not in their mind the phenomenon of the long continuous dawn in the Arctic regions, a dawn, that lasted for several day-long periods of time before the sun’s orb appeared on the horizon. The expression, bhûyasî uhâsa avyuhâ, which literally means “many dawns have not dawned, or fully flashed forth,” was therefore a riddle to these commentators. Every dawn, they saw, was followed by sunrise; and they could not, therefore, understand how “many dawns” could be described as “not-fully-flashed-forth.” An explanation was thus felt to be a necessity and this was obtained by converting, in sense, the past passive participle avyuha into a future participle; and the expression in question was translated as meaning, “during the dawns (or days) that have not yet dawned “ or, in other words, “in days to come.” But the interpretation is on the face of it strained and artificial. If future days were intended, the idea could have been more easily and briefly expressed. The poet is evidently speaking of things present, and, taking vi-usha to denote what it literally signifies, we can easily and naturally interpret the expression to mean that though many dawns, meaning many day-long portions of time during which the dawn lasted, have passed, yet it is not vyuha, that is the sun’s orb has not yet emerged from below the horizon and that Varua should protect the worshipper under the circumstances.

 

            There are many other expressions in the ig-Veda which further strengthen the same view. Thus corresponding to bhûyasî in the above passage, we have the adjective pûrvî (many) used in IV, 19, 8 and VI, 28, 1, to denote the number of dawns, evidently showing that numerically more  than one dawn is intended. The dawns are again not un-frequently addressed in the plural number in the ig-Veda, and the fact is well-known to all Vedic scholars. Thus in I, 92, which is a dawn-hymn, the bard opens his song with the characteristically emphatic exclamation “these (etâ) are those (tyâ) dawns (uhasa), which have made their appearance on the horizon,” and the same expression again occurs in VII, 78, 3. Yâska explains the plural number uhasa by considering it to be used only honorifically (Nirukta XII, 7); while Sâyaa interprets it as referring to the number of divinities that preside over the morn. The Western scholars have not made any improvement on these explanations and Prof. Max Müller is simply content with observing that the Vedic bards, when speaking of the dawn, did sometimes use the plural just as we would use the singular number! But a little reflection will show that neither of these explanations is satisfactory. If the plural is honorific why is it changed into singular only a few lines after in the same hymn? Surely the poet does not mean to address the Dawn respectfully only at the outset and then change his manner of address and assume a familiar tone. This is not however, the only objection to Yâska’s explanation. Various similes are used by the Vedic poets to describe the appearance of the dawns on the horizon and an examination of these similes will convince any one that the plural number, used in reference to the Dawn, cannot be merely honorific. Thus in the second line of I, 92, 1, the Dawns are compared to a number of “warriors” (dhihavâ) and in the third verse of the same hymn they are likened to “women (nârî) active in their occupations.” They are said to appear on the horizon like “waves of waters” (apâm na urmaya) in VI, 64, 1, or like “pillars planted at a sacrifice” (adhvarehu svarava) in IV, 51, 2. We are again told that they work like “men arrayed” (visho na yukta), or advance like “troops of cattle” (gavam na sargâ) in VII, 79, 2, and IV, 51, 8, respectively. They are described as all “alike” (sadishi) and are said to be of “one mind” (sañjânante), or “acting  harmoniously” IV, 51, 6, and VII, 76, 5. In the last verse the poet again informs us that they “do not strive against each other” (mitha na yatante), though they live jointly in the “same enclosure” (samâne urve). Finally in X, 88, 18, the poet distinctly asks the question, “How many fires, how many suns and how many dawns (uhâsa) are there?” If the Dawn were addressed in plural simply out of respect for the deity, where was the necessity of informing us that they do not quarrel though collected in the same place? The expressions “waves of waters,” or “men arrayed” &c., are again too definite to be explained away as honorific. Sâyaa seems to have perceived this difficulty and has, probably for the same reason, proposed an explanation slightly different from that of Yâska. But, unfortunately, Sâyaa’s explanation does not solve the difficulty, as the question still remains why the deities presiding over the dawn should be more than one in number. The only other explanation put forward, so far as I know, is that the plural number refers to the dawns on successive days during the year, as we perceive them in the temperate or the tropical zone. On this theory there would be 360 dawns in a year, each followed by the rising of the sun every day. This explanation may appear plausible at the first sight. But on a closer examination t will be found that the expressions used in the hymns cannot be made to reconcile with this theory. For, if 360 dawns, all separated by intervals of 24 hours, were intended by the plural number used in the Vedic verses, no poet, with any propriety, would speak of them as he does in I, 92, 1, by using the double pronoun etâ and tyâ as if he was pointing out to a physical phenomenon before him; nor can we understand how 360 dawns, spread over the whole year, can be described as advancing like “men arrayed” for battle. It is again absurd to describe the 360 dawns of the year as being collected in the “same enclosure” and “not striving against or quarrelling with each other.” We are thus forced to the conclusion that the ig-Veda speaks of a team or a group of dawns, unbroken or uninterrupted by sunlight, so that if we be so minded, we  can regard them as constituting a single long continuous dawn. This is in perfect accord with the statement discussed above, viz., that many days passed between the first appearance of light on the horizon and the uprising of the sun (VII, 76, 3). We cannot, therefore, accept the explanation of consecutive dawns, nor that of Yâska, nor of Sâyaa regarding the use of the plural number in this case. The fact is that the Vedic dawn represents one long physical phenomenon which can be spoken of in plural by supposing it to be split up into smaller day-long portions. It is thus that we find Uhas addressed sometimes in the plural and sometimes in the singular number. There is no other explanation on which we can account for and explain the various descriptions of the dawn found in the different hymns.

 

            But to clinch the matter, the Taittirîya Sahitâ, IV, 3, 11, expressly states that the dawns are thirty sisters, or, in other words, they are thirty in number and that they go round and round in five groups, reaching the same appointed place and having the same banner for all. The whole of this Anuvâka may be said to be practically a dawn-hymn of 15 verses, which are used as Mantras for the laying down of certain emblematical bricks called the “dawn-bricks” on the sacrificial altar. There are sixteen such bricks to be placed on the altar, and the Anuvâka in question gives 15 Mantras, or verses, to be used on the occasion, the 16th being recorded elsewhere. These 15 verses, together with their Brâhmaa (T.S.V, 3, 4, 7), are so important for our purpose, that I have appended to this chapter the original passages, with their translation, comparing the version in the Taittirîya Sahitâ with that of the Atharva-Veda, in the case of those verses which are found in the latter. The first verse of the section or the Anuvâka, is used for laying down the first dawn-brick and it speaks only of a single dawn first appearing on the horizon. In the second verse we have, however, a couple of dawns mentioned as “dwelling in the same abode.” A third dawn is, spoken in the third verse, followed by the fourth and the fifth dawn. The five dawns are then said to have five sisters each, exclusive of themselves, thus raising the total number of dawns to thirty. These “thirty sisters” (trihshat svasâra) are then described as “going round” (pari yanti) in groups of six each, keeping up to the same goal (nihkitam). Two verses later on, the worshipper asks that he and his follower should be blessed with the same concord as is observed amongst these dawns. We are then told that one of these five principal dawns is the child of Rita, the second upholds the greatness of Waters the third moves in the region of Sûrya, the fourth in that of Fire or Gharma, and the fifth is ruled by Saviti, evidently showing that the dawns are not the dawns of consecutive days. The last verse of the Anuvâka sums up the description by stating that the dawn, though it shines forth in various forms, is but one in reality. Throughout the whole Anuvâka there is no mention of the rising of the sun or the appearance of sunlight, and the Brâhmaa makes the point clear by stating, “There was a time, when all this was neither day nor night, being in an undistinguishable state. It was then that the Gods perceived these dawns and laid them down, then there was light; therefore, it brightens to him and destroys his darkness for whom these (dawn-bricks) are placed.” The object of this passage is to explain how and why the dawn-bricks came to be laid down with these Mantras, and it gives the ancient story of thirty dawns being perceived by the Gods, not on consecutive days, but during the period of time when it was neither night nor day. This, joined with the express statement at the end of the Anuvâka that in reality it is but one dawn, is sufficient to prove that the thirty dawns mentioned in the Anuvâka were continuous and not consecutive. But, if a still more explicit authority be needed it will be found in the Taittirîya Brâhmaa, II, 5, 6, 5. This is an old Mantra, and not a portion of the explanatory Brâhmaa, and is, therefore, as good an authority as, any of the verses quoted above. It is addressed to the dawns and means, “These very Dawns are those that first shone forth, the Goddesses make five forms; eternal (shashvatî), (they) are not separated (na avapijyanti), nor do (they) terminate (na gamanti antam).”* The “five forms” here referred to correspond with the division of 30 dawns into 5 groups of 6 each, made in the Taittirîya Sahitâ, after the manner of sacrificial ha-ahas, or groups of six days; and we are expressly told that the dawns, which make these 5 forms, are continuous, unseparated, or uninterrupted. In the ig-Veda I, 152, 4, the garment of the lover of the dawns (lit. the maidens, kanînâm jâram) is described as “inseparable” and “wide” (an-avapiga and vitata), and reading this in the light of the aforesaid Mantra from the Taittirîya Brâhmaa we are led to conclude that in the ig-Veda itself the dawny garment of the sun, or the garment, which the dawns, as mothers, weave for him (cf. V, 47, 6 ), is considered as “wide” and “continuous.” Translated into common language this means that the dawn described in the ig-Veda was a long and continuous phenomenon. In the Atharva-Veda (VII, 22, 2) the dawns are described as sachetasa and samîchî, which means that they are “harmonious” and “walk together” and not separately. The first expression is found in the ig-Veda, but not the second, though it could be easily inferred, from the fact that the dawns are there described as “collected in the same enclosure.” Griffith renders samîchî by “a closely gathered band” and translates the verse thus: — “The Bright one hath sent forth the Dawns, a closely gathered band, immaculate, unanimous, brightly refulgent in their homes.”† (* Taitt. Br. II, 5, 6, 5.† Ath. Veda, VII, 22, 2. )

 

Here all the adjectives of the dawns clearly indicate a group of undivided dawns acting harmoniously; and yet strange to say Griffith, who translates correctly misses the spirit altogether. We have thus sufficient direct authority for holding that it is a “team,” or in Griffith’s words, “a closely gathered band” of thirty continuous dawns that is described in the Vedic hymns, and not the evanescent dawn of the temperate or the tropical zone, either single or as a series of consecutive dawns.

 

            It is interesting to examine how Sâyaa explains the existence of as many as thirty dawns, before we proceed to other authorities. In his commentary on the Taittirîya Sahitâ IV, 3, 11, he tells us that the first dawn spoken of in the first verse in the Anuvâka, is the dawn at the beginning of the creation, when everything was undistinguishable according to the Brâhmaa. The second dawn in the second verse is said to be the ordinary dawn that we see every day. So far it was all right; but the number of dawns soon outgrew the number of the kinds of dawn known to Sâyaa. The third, fourth and fifth verses of the Anuvâka describe three more dawns, and Sâyaa was at last forced to explain that though the dawn was one yet by its Yogic or occult powers it assumed these various shapes! But the five dawns multiplied into thirty sisters in the next verse, and Sâyaa finally adopted the explanation that thirty separate dawns represented the thirty consecutive dawns of one month. But why only thirty dawns of one month out of 360 dawns of a year should thus be selected in these Mantras is nowhere explained. The explanations, besides being mutually inconsistent, again conflict with the last verse in the Anuvâka with the Brâhmaa or the explanation given in the Sahitâ itself, and with the passage from the Taittirîya Brâhmaa quoted above. But Sâyaa was writing under a firm belief that the Vedic dawn was the same as he and other Vedic scholars like Yâska perceived it in the tropical zone; and the wonder is, not that he has given us so many contradictory explanations, but that he has been able to suggest so many apparently plausible explanations as the exigencies of the different Mantras required. In the light of advancing knowledge about the nature of the dawn at the North Pole, and the existence of man on earth before the last Glacial epoch We should, therefore, have no hesitation in accepting more intelligible and rationalistic view of the different passages descriptive of the dawns in the Vedic literature. We are  sure Sâyaa himself would have welcomed a theory more comprehensive and reasonable than any advanced by him, if the same could have been suggested to him in his own day. Jyotish or astronomy has always been considered to be the “eye of the Veda,” (Cf. Shikhâ, 41-42.)

 and as with the aid of the telescope this eye now commands a wider range than previously, it will be our own fault if we fail to utilize the knowledge so gained to elucidate those portions of our sacred books which are still unintelligible.

 

 

            But to proceed with the subject, it may be urged that it is only the Taittirîya Sahitâ that gives us the number of the dawns, and that it would not be proper to mix up these statements with the statements contained in the hymns of the ig-Veda, and draw a conclusion from both taken together. The Taittirîya Sahitâ treats of sacrificial rites and the Mantras relating to the dawn-bricks may not be regarded as being originally connected. The fact that only some-of these are found in the Atharva-Veda Sahitâ, might lend some support to this view. But a critical study of the Anuvâka, will remove all these doubts. The “thirty sisters” are not mentioned one by one, leaving it to the hearer, or the reader, to make up the total, and ascertain the final number for himself. The sixth verse in the Anuvâka expressly mentions “the thirty sisters” and is, by itself, sufficient to prove that in ancient days the number of dawns was considered to be thirty. But if an authority from the ig-Veda be still needed, we have it in VI, 59, 6, where Dawn is described as having traversed “thirty steps” (trishat padâni akramît).†

 

 

 

This statement has, as yet, remained unexplained. “A single dawn traversing thirty steps” is but a paraphrase of the statement that “dawns are thirty sisters, keeping to the same goal in their circuits.” Another verse which has not yet been satisfactorily explained is the ig-Veda I, 123, 8. It says “The dawns, alike today and alike tomorrow, dwell long in the abode of Varua. Blameless, they forthwith go round (pari yanti) thirty yojanas; each its destined course (kratum).”*

 

 

The first half of the verse presents no difficulty. In the second we are told that the dawns go round thirty yojanas, each following its own “plan,” which is the meaning of kratu, according to the Petersberg Lexicon. But the phrase “thirty yojanas” has not been as yet satisfactorily explained. Griffith following M. Bergaigne understands it to mean thirty regions or spaces, indicating the whole universe; but there is no authority for this meaning. Sâyaa, whom Wilson follows, gives an elaborate astronomical explanation. He says that the sun’s rays precede his rising and are visible when the sun is below the horizon by thirty yojanas, or; in other words, the dawn is in advance of the sun by that distance. When dawns are, therefore, said to traverse thirty yojanas, Sâyaa understands by it the astronomical phenomenon of the dawn illumining a space of thirty yojanas in advance of the sun, and, that when the dawn, at one place, is over, it is to be found in another place, occupying a space of thirty yojanas in that place. The explanation is very ingenious; and Sâyaa also adds that the dawns are spoken of in the plural number in the verse under consideration, because the dawns at different places on the surface of the earth, brought on by the daily motion of the sun, are intended. But unfortunately the explanation cannot stand scientific scrutiny. Sâyaa says that the sun travels 5,059 yojanas round the Meru in 24 hours; and as Meru means the earth and the circumference of the earth is now known to be about 24,377 miles, a yojana would be about 4.9, or in round number, about 5 miles. Thirty such yojanas will, therefore, be 150 miles; while the first beams of the dawn greet us on the horizon when the sun is not less than 16º below the horizon. Taking one degree equal to 60 miles, 16º would mean 960 miles, a distance far in excess of the thirty yojanas of Sâyaa. Another objection to Sâyaa’s explanation is that the Vedic bard is evidently speaking of a phenomenon present before him, and not mentally following the astronomical dawns at different places produced by the daily rotation of the earth on its axis. The explanation is again inapplicable to “thirty steps (padâni)” of the dawn expressly mentioned in VI, 59, 6. Therefore, the only alternative left is, to take the phrases “thirty yojanas,” “thirty sisters,” and “thirty steps” as different versions of one and the same fact, viz., the circuits of the dawn along the Polar horizon. The phrase “each its destined course” also becomes intelligible in this case, for though thirty dawns complete thirty rounds, each may well be described as following its own definite course. The words pari yanti in the text literally apply to a circular (pari) motion, (cf. the words pari-ukhaam, paristaraam, &c.); and the same term is used in the Taittirîya Sahitâ with reference to “thirty sisters.” The word yojana primarily means “a chariot” (VIII, 72, 6) and then it came to denote “distance to be accomplished with unharnessing the horses,” or what we, in the vernacular, call a “appâ.” Now this appâ, or “the journey to be accomplished without unharnessing the horse,” may be a day’s journey and Prof. Max Müller has in one place interpreted the yojana in this way. (See T. B. E. Series, Vol. XXXII, pp. 177 and 325. )

 

In V, 54, 5, the Maruts are said “to have extended their greatness as far as the sun extends his daily course,” and the word in the original for “daily course” is yojanum. Accepting this meaning, we can interpret the expression “the dawns forth with go round (pari yanti) thirty yojanas” to mean that the dawns complete thirty daily rounds as at the North Pole. That circular motion is here intended is further evident from 111, 61, 3, which says, in distinct terms, “Wending towards the same goal (samânam artham), O Newly-born (Dawn)! turn on like a wheel (ckakramiva â vavitsva).”*

Although the word navyasi (newly-born) is here in the vocative case, yet the meaning is that the dawn, ever anew or becoming new every day, revolves like a wheel. Now a wheel may either move in a perpendicular plane, like the wheel of a chariot, or in a horizontal plane like the potter’s wheel. But the first of these two motions cannot be predicated of the dawn anywhere on the surface of the earth. The light of the morning is, everywhere, confined to the horizon, as described in the ig-Veda, VII, 80, 1, which speaks of the dawns as “unrolling the two rajasî, which border on each other (samante), and revealing all things.”†

 

 

No dawn, whether in the rigid, the temperate, or the tropical zone can, therefore, be seen traveling, like the sun, from east to west, over the head of the observer in a perpendicular plane. The only possible wheel-like motion is, therefore, along the horizon and this can be witnessed only in regions near the Pole. A dawn in the temperate or the tropical zone is visible only for a short time on the eastern horizon and is swallowed up, in the same place by the rays of the rising sun. It is only in the Polar regions that we see the morning lights revolving along the horizon for some day-long periods of time, and if the wheel-like motion of the dawn, mentioned in III, 61, 3, has any meaning at all, we must take it to refer to the revolving splendors of the dawn in the Arctic regions previously described. The expressions “reaching the appointed place (nih-kitam) day by day” (I, 123, 9), and “wending ever and ever to the same goal” (111, 61, 3) are also ill-suited to describe the dawn in latitudes below the Arctic circle, but if we take these expressions to refer to the Polar dawn they become not only intelligible, but peculiarly appropriate, as such a dawn in its daily circuits must come to the point from which it started every twenty-four hours. All these passages taken together, therefore, point only to one conclusion and that is that both the ig-Veda and the Taittirîya Sahitâ describe a long and continuous dawn divided into thirty dawn-days, or periods of twenty four hours each, a characteristic found only in the Polar dawn.

 

            There are a number of other passages where the dawn is spoken of in the plural, especially in the case of matutinal deities, who are said to follow or come after not a single dawn but dawns in the plural (I, 6, 3; I, 180, 1; V, 76, 1; VII, 9, 1; VII, 63, 3). These passages have been hitherto understood as describing the appearance of the deities after the consecutive dawns of the year. But now a new light is thrown upon them by the conclusion established above from the examination of the different passages about the dawn in the ig-Veda, the Taittirîya and the Atharva Veda Sahitâ. It may, however, be mentioned that I do not mean to say that in the whole of the ig-Veda not a single reference can be found to the dawn of the tropical or the temperate zone. The Veda which mentions a year of 360 days is sure to mention the evanescent dawn which accompanies these days in regions to the south of the Arctic circle. A greater part of the description of the dawn is again of such a character that we can apply it either to the long Polar dawn, or to the short-lived dawn of the tropics. Thus both may be said to awaken every living being (I, 92, 9,) or disclose the treasures concealed by darkness (I, 123, 4). Similarly when dawns of different days are said to depart and come, a new sister succeeding each day to the sister previously vanished (I, 124, 9), we my either suppose that the consecutive dawns of different days are intended, or that a number of day-long dawns, which succeed one another after every 24 hours at the Pole, were in the mind of the poet. These passages do not, therefore, in any way affect the conclusion we have arrived at above by the consideration of the special characteristics of the dawns mentioned in the hymns. What we mean to prove is that Uhas, or the Goddess of the first appearance of which formed the subject of so many beautiful hymns in the Vedic literature, is not the evanescent dawn of the tropics but the long continuous and revolving dawn of the pole; and if we have succeeded in proving this from the passages discussed above, it matters little if a pass age or more are found elsewhere in the ig-Veda, describing the ordinary tropical dawn. The Vedic ihis who sang the present hymns, must have been familiar with the tropical dawn if they now and then added a 13th month to secure the correspondence of the lunar and the solar year. But the deity of the Dawn was an ancient deity, the attributes of which had become known to the ihis by orally preserved traditions, about the primeval home; and the dawn-hymns, as we now possess them, faithfully describe these characteristics. How these old characteristics of the Goddess of Dawn were preserved for centuries is a question to which I shall revert after examining the whole of the Vedic evidence bearing on the Polar theory. For the present we may assume that these reminiscences of the old home were preserved much in the same way as we have preserved the hymns, accent for accent and letter for letter, for the last three or four thousand years.

 

            It will be seen from foregoing discussion that if the dawn-hymns in the ig-Veda be read and studied in the light of modern scientific discoveries and with the aid of passages in the Atharva Veda and the Taittirîya Sahitâ and Brâhmaa they clearly establish the following results:

            (1) The Rig-Vedic dawn was so long that several days elapsed between the first appearance of light on the horizon and the sunrise which followed it, (VII, 76, 3); or, as described in 11, 28, 9, many dawns appeared one after another before they ripened into sunrise.

            (2) The Dawn was addressed in the plural number not honorifically, nor as representing the consecutive dawns of the Year, but because it was made up of thirty parts (I; 123, 8; VI, 59, 6; T.S., IV, 3, 11, 6).

            (3) Many dawns lived in the same place, acted harmoniously and never quarreled with each other, IV, 51, 7-9; VII, 76, 5; A.V. VII, 22, 2).

            (4) The thirty parts of the dawn were continuous and inseparable, forming “a closely gathered band,” or “a group of dawns,” (I, 152, 4; T. Br. II, 5, 6, 5; A.V. VII, 22, 2).

            (5) These thirty dawns, or thirty parts of one dawn revolved round and round like a wheel, reaching the same goal every day, each dawn or part following its own destined course, (I, 123, 8, 9; III, 61, 3; T.S. IV, 3, 11, 6).

            These characteristics it is needless to say are possessed only by the dawn at or near the Pole. The last or the fifth especially is to be found only in lands very near the North Pole and not everywhere in the Arctic regions. We may, therefore, safely conclude that the Vedic Goddess of Dawn is Polar in origin. But it may be urged that while the Polar-dawn lasts from 45 to 60 days, the Vedic dawn is described only as made up of thirty day-long parts, and that the discrepancy must be accounted for before we accept the conclusion that the Vedic dawn is Polar in character. The discrepancy is not, however, a serious one. We have seen that the duration of the dawn depends upon the powers of refraction and reflection of the atmosphere; and that these again vary according to the temperature of the place, or other meteorological conditions. It is, therefore, not unlikely that the duration of the dawn at the Pole, when the climate there was mild and genial, might be somewhat shorter than what we may expect it to be at present when the climate is severely cold. It is more probable, however, that the dawn described in the ig-Veda is not exactly such a dawn as may be seen by an observer stationed precisely at the North Pole. As observed previously, the North Pole is a point, and if men lived near the Pole in early days, they must have lived somewhat to the south of this point. Within this tract it is quite possible to have 30 day-long dawns revolving, like a wheel, after the long Arctic night of four or five months; and, so far as astronomy is concerned, there is, therefore, nothing improbable in the description of the Dawn found in the Vedic literature. We must also bear in mind that the Vedic Dawn often tarried longer on the horizon, and the worshippers asked her not to delay lest the sun might search her like an enemy (V, 79, 9). This shows that though 30 days was the usual duration of the Dawn it was sometimes exceeded, and people grew impatient to see the light of the sun. It was in cases likes these, that Indra, the God who created the dawns and was their friend, was obliged to break the car of the dawn and bring the sun above the horizon (II, 15, 6; X, 73, 6).*

 

There are other places in which the same legend is referred to (IV, 30, 8), and the obscuration of the Dawn by a thunderstorm is, at present, supposed to be the basis of this myth. But the explanation, like others of its kind, is on the face of it unsatisfactory. That a thunderstorm should occur just at the time of the dawn would be a mere accident, and it is improbable that it could have been made the basis of a legend. Again, it is not the obscuration, but the delaying of the Dawn, or its tarrying longer on the horizon than usual, that is referred to in the legend, and we can better account for it on the Polar theory, because the duration of dawn, though usually of 30 days, might have varied at different places according to latitude and climatic conditions, and Indra’s bolt was thus needed to check these freaks of the Dawn and make way for the rising sun. There are other legends connected with the Dawn and the matutinal deities on which the Polar theory throws quite a new light; but these will be taken up in the chapter on Vedic myths, after the whole direct evidence in support of the theory is examined.

 

            But if the Vedic dawn is Polar in origin, the ancestors of the Vedic bards must have witnessed it, not in. the Post-Glacial, but in the Pre-Glacial era; and it may be finally asked why a reference to this early age is not found in the hymns before us? Fortunately the hymns do preserve a few indications of the time when these long dawns appeared. Thus, in I, 113, 13, we are told that the Goddess Dawn shone perpetually in former days (purâ) and here the word purâ does not mean the foregone days of this kalpa, but rather refers to a by-gone age, or purâ kalpa as in the passage from the Taittirîya Sahitâ (I, 5, 7, 5 ), quoted and discussed in the next chapter. The word prathamâ, in the Taittirîya Sahitâ, IV, 3, 11, 1 and the Taittirîya Brâhmaa, II, 5, 6, 5, does not again mean simply “first in order,” but refers to “ancient times,” as when Indra’s “first” or “oldest” exploits are mentioned in 1, 32, 1, or when certain practices are said to be “first” or “old” in X, 90, 16. It is probable that it was this import of the word prathamâ that led Sâyaa to propose that the first dawn, mentioned in the Taittirîya Sahitâ IV, 3, 11, represented the dawn at the beginning of the creation. The Vedic poets could not but have been conscious that the Mantras they used to lay down the dawn-bricks were inapplicable to the dawn as they saw it, and the Taittirîya Sahitâ (V, 3, 4, 7), which explains the Mantras, clearly states that this story or the description of the dawns is a tradition of old times when the Gods perceived the thirty dawns. It is not, therefore, correct to say that there are no references in the Vedic hymns to the time when these long dawns were visible. We shall revert to the point later on, when further evidence on the subject will be noticed and discussed. The object of the present chapter was to examine the duration of the Vedic dawn, the Goddess of the morning, the subject of so many beautiful hymns in the ig-Veda, and to show that the deity is invested with Polar characteristics. The evidence in support of this view has been fully discussed; and we shall, therefore, now take up the other Polar and Circum-Polar tests previously mentioned, anti see whether we can find out further evidence from the ig-Veda to strengthen our conclusions.

 


 

APPENDIX TO CHAPTER V

THE THIRTY DAWNS

 

            The following are the passages from the Taittirîya Sahitâ referred to on page 90: —

 

TAITTIRÎYA SAHITÂ, KÂNDA IV, PRAPÂTHAKA 3,

ANUVÂKA, 11

            VERSE 1, — This verse, with slight modifications, occurs twice in the Atharva-Veda Sahitâ (III, 10, 4; VIII, 9, 11). It runs thus: —

            VERSES 2, 3 and 4, — The Atharva-Veda reading (VIII, 9, 112-14) is slightly different: —

 

 

            VERSE 8, — This verse is also found in the Atharva-Veda (III, 10 12); but the reading of the second half is as follows: —

            VERSE 11, — Compare A.V. VIII, 9, 15. For समानमू :

A. V. reads ता एकमू : The rest is the same in both.       

            VERSE 13, — Compare A.V. III, 10, 1. For या थमा यौछत् A.V. reads थमा युवास And for घु A.V. has दुहाम् Compare also ig. IV, 57, 7, where the second line is found as in A.V.

 

TAITTIRÎYA SAHITÂ KÂNDA V, PRAPÂTHAKA 3,

ANUVÂKA 4, SECTION 7

 

 

TRANSLATION AND NOTES

 

Taitt. Sahitâ IV. 3, 11

 

            1. This verily, is She that dawned first; (she) moves entered into her (i.e. above the horizon). The bride, the new-come mother, is born. The three great ones follow her.

 

 She that dawned first: evidently meaning the first of a series of thirty dawns, mentioned in the following verses. In verse 13 we are told that it is the dawn which commences the year. The thirty dawns are, therefore, the dawns at the beginning of the year, and the first of them is mentioned in the first verse. Sâyaa, however, says that the dawn at the beginning of the creation is here intended. But the explanation does not suit the context, and Sâyaa has himself given different explanations afterwards.

            Entered into her: according to Sâyaa asyâm (into her) means “into the earth;” compare ig. III, 61, 7, where the sun, the speeder of the dawns, is said to have “entered into the mighty earth and heaven.” According to A.V. reading the meaning, would be “entered into the other (dawns),” showing that the first dawn is a member of a larger group.

            The three great ones: Sûrya, Vâyu and Agni according to Sâyaa. The three typical deities or Devatâs mentioned by Yâska (VII, 5) are Agni, Vâyu or Indra, and Sûrya. In Rig VII, 33, 7, the three Gharmas (fires) are said to attend the dawn, (trayo Gharmâsa ushasam sachante); and in VII, 7, 8, 3, the dawns are said to have created Sûrya, Yajña (Sacrifice) and Agni. Also compare A. V. IX, 1, 8, and Bloomfield’s note thereon in S. B. E. Series, Vol. XLII, p. 590. Though the three may be variously named, the reference is evidently to the rise of the sun and the commencement of sacrifices or the kindling of sacrificial fires after the first dawn (Cf. ig. I, 113, 9).

 

            2. Possessed of song, decorating (themselves), and moving together in a common abode, the Two Dawns, the (two wives of the sun, unwasting, rich in seed, move about displaying their banner and knowing well (their way).

 

Possessed of songs: Sâyaa thus interprets chchandas-vatî; but the Pet. Lex. translates the word by “lovely.” I have followed Sâyaa because the A.V. reading chchandas-pakhe, “having chchandas for the two wings,” supports Sâyaa’s meaning. That the morning atmosphere resounded with the recitation of hymns and songs may be seen, amongst others, from ig. III, 61, 1 and 6. The phrase madye-chchandasa in verse 6 below, denotes the same idea. But the word chchandas may perhaps be understood to mean “shine” in all these places; Cf. ig. VIII, 7, 36, where the phrase, chchando na sûro archi is translated by Max Müller to mean “like the shine by the splendor of the sun,” (See S. B. E. Series, Vol. XXXII, pp. 393, 399)

            Decorating, moving together-in the same place, gives of the sun, un-wasting etc.: These and others are the usual epithets of the Dawn found in the ig-Veda, Cf. ig. I, 92, 4; VII, 76, 5; IV, 5, 13; I, 113, 13.

            The Two Dawns: Uhasâ does not here mean Uhâsâ-naktâ or “Day and Night,” as supposed by Mr. Griffith, but denotes two dawns as such, the third, the fourth &c. being mentioned in the following verses. Sâyaa says that the first dawn is the dawn which appeared at the beginning of the creation and the second the diurnal one, as we see it. But Sâyaa had to abandon this explanation later on. The couple of Dawns obviously includes the first Dawn mentioned in the first verse, which, with its successor, now forms a couple. Since groups of two, three, five or thirty dawns are mentioned as moving together, they cannot be the dawns of consecutive days, that is, separated by sunlight, as with us in the tropical or the temperate zone.

 

 

 

            3. The Three Maidens have come along the path of Rita; the three fires (Gharmas) with light, have followed. One (of these maidens) protects the progeny, one the vigor, and one the ordinance of the pious.

                       

 The Three Maidens: the number of Dawns is now increased to three; but Sâyaa gives no explanation of the number.

            4. The Fourth: Sâyaa now says that the single Deity of Dawn appears as many different dawns through yogic powers!

4. That, which (was) the Fourth, acting as ihis, the two wings of the sacrifice, has become the four-fold Stoma (Chatu-homa). Using Gâyatri, Trihup, Jagatî, Anuhup the great song, they brought this light

 

                        Acting as ihis ... four fold stoma: The group of four Dawns appears to be here compared to the Chatu-homa or the four-fold song. (For a description of the four-fold Stoma see Ait. Br. III, 42, Haug’s Trans. p. 237). Gâyatrî &c are the metres used. The light brought on by the Dawns is the reward of this stoma. Sâyaa interprets suvas to mean “heaven” but compare ig. III, 61, 4, where the adjective, svear jananâ, “creating light,” is applied to the Dawn.

            Did it with the Five: after the number of Dawns was increased to five, the creation proceeded by fives; compare verse 11 below.

            Their five courses: I construe tâsâm pañcha kratava prayavea yanti. Sâyaa understands kratava to mean sacrificial rites performed on the appearance of the dawn; but compare ig. I, 123, 8 which says “The blameless Dawns (plu.) go round thirty yojanas each her own kratu (destined course),” (supra p. 103) kratava in the present verse must be similarly interpreted.

            In combination: We have thirty Dawns divided into five groups of six each; compare Taitt. Br. II, 5, 6, 5 quoted above (p. 100), which says tâ devya kurvate pacha rûpâ “the Goddesses (Dawns) make five forms.” Five groups of thirty Dawns, each group having its own destined course are here described; but as each group is made of six Dawns, the five courses are again said to assume different forms, meaning that the members of each group have again their own courses Within the larger course chalked out for the groups.

 

5. The creator did it with the Five, that he created five-and-five sisters to them (each). Their five courses (kratava), assuming various forms, move on in combination (prayavena)

           

 

 6. The Thirty Sisters, bearing the same banner, move on to the appointed place (nih-kitam). They, the wise, create the seasons. Refulgent, knowing (their way), they go round (pari yanti) amidst-songs (madhye-chchandasa).

 

            Thirty Sisters: Sâyaa in his commentary on the preceding verse says that the thirty Dawns mentioned are the thirty dawns of a month. But Sâyaa does not explain why one month out of twelve, or only 30 out of 360 dawns should be thus selected. The explanation is again unsuited to the context, (See supra p. 101 and T.S.V. 3, 4, 7, quoted below.) The Dawns are called sisters also in the ig-Veda, (Cf. I, 124, 8 and 9).

            Appointed place: nih kitam (Nir. XII, 7), used in reference to the course of the Dawns also in ig. I, 123, 9. It is appropriate only if the Dawns returned to the same point in their daily rounds, (See supra p. 106).

            Go round amidst-songs: pari yanti, “go round” is also the phrase used in ig. I, 123, 8 Madhye chchandasa is interpreted by Sâyaa to mean “about the sun, which is always surrounded by songs.” But we need not go so far, for Madhye chchandasa may be more simply taken to mean “amidst-songs” that are usually sung at the dawn (ig. VII, 80, 1).

 

 

            7. Through the sky, the illumined Goddess of Night accepts the ordinances of the sun. The cattle, of various forms, (begin to) look up as they rise on the lap of the mother.

 

Through the sky: I take nabhas as an accusative of space. Sâyaa appears to take it as an adjective equivalent to nabhasthasya and qualifying sûryasya. In either case the meaning is the same, viz. that the night was gradually changing into day-light.

            The cattle: morning rays or splendors usually spoken of as cows. In ig. I, 92, 12, the Dawn is described as spreading cattle (pashûn) before her; and in I, 124, 5, we are told that she fills the lap of both parents heaven and earth. I construe, with Sâyaa, nânâ-rûpa pashava vi pashyanti, taking vi pashyanti intransitively, and nânâ-rûpa as an adjective. The same phrase is found used in reference to a woman’s children in the Atharva Veda, XIV, 2, 25. For the intransitative use of vi pushyanti, See ig. X, 725, 4.

 

 

            8. The Ekâhakâ, glowing with holy fervor (tapas), gave birth to a child, the great Indra. Through him the Gods have subdued their enemies; by his powers (he) has become the slayer of the Asuras.

 

            The Ekâhaka: The birth of Indra is evidently the birth of the sun after the expiry of thirty dawns. Sâyaa, quoting Âpasthamba Gihya Sutra (VIII, 21, 10), interprets Ekâhakâ to mean the 8th day of the dark half of the month of Mâgha (January-February); and in the Taittirîya Sahitâ, VII, 4, 8, quoted and explained by me in Chapter III of Orion, it seems to have same meaning, (See Orion p. 45), Ekâhakâ was the first day, or the consort, of the Year, when the sun turned towards the north from the winter solstice; and the commencement of all annual sattras is therefore, directed to be made on the Ekâhakâ day. This meaning was, however, settled when the vernal equinox had receded from the asterism of Miga (Orion) to that of the Kittikâs (Pleiades). But in earlier days Ekâhakâ seems to have meant the last of the dawns which preceded the rise of the sun after the long darkness, andthus commenced the year, which began with the period of sunshine; the word eka in Ekâhakâ perhaps denotes the first month, the last dawn probably falling on the 8th day of the first lunar month of the year.

 

            9. You have made a companion (lit. the after-born) for me, who was (before) without a companion. Truth-teller (as thou art), I desire this, that I may have his good will, just as you do not transgress each the other.

 

A companion for me: that is, Indra or the sun, whose birth is mentioned in the previous verse; and the poet now prays that his new friend, the after-born follower or companion, should be favorable to him. It should be noted that the birth of the sun is described after the lapse of thirty dawns, during which the poet had no companion.

            Truth-teller: Sâyaa seems to take satyam vadantî as a vocative plural; but it is not in strict accordance with grammar. In the pada text, it is evidently a feminine form of nom. sing., and I have translated accordingly, though not without some difficulty. In ig. III, 61, 2, the dawn is called sûnitâ îrayantî which expresses the same idea.

            Just as you do not transgress each the other: compare the ig-Veda VII, 76, 5, where we are told that the Dawns, though collected in the same place, do not strive against or quarrel with each other.

            10. The All-knowing has my good will, has got a hold (on it), has secured a place (therein). May I have his good will just as you do not transgress each the other.

 

The All-knowing: Sâyaa takes Vishva-Vedâ to mean the Dawn; but it obviously refers to the companion (anujâm) mentioned in the preceding verse. The worshipper asks for a reciprocity of good will. The All-knowing (Indra) has his good will; let him, he prays, have now the All-knowing’s good will. The adjective vishva vedâ is applied in the ig-Veda to Indra or Agni several times, Cf. ig. VI, 47, 12; I, 147, 3.

            11. Five milkings answer to the five dawns; the five seasons to the five-named cow. The five sky-regions, made by the fifteen, have a common head, directed to one world.

 

 Five milkings: Sâyaa refers to Taitt. Brâh. II, 2, 9, 6-9, where darkness, light, the two twilights, and day are said to be the five milkings (dohâ) of Prajâpati. The idea seems to be that all the five-fold groups in the creation proceeded from the five-fold dawn-groups.

            Five-caned Cow: the earth, according to Sâyaa, who says that the earth has five different names in the five seasons, e. g. pushpa-vati (blossomy) in Vasanta (spring), tâpa-vatî (heated) in Grîhma (Summer), vihi-vatî (showery) in Varhâ (Rains), jala-prasâda-vatî (clear-watered) in Sharad (Autumn), and shaitya-vatî (cold) in Hemanta-Shishira (Winter). The seasons are taken as five by combining Hemanta and Shishira into one.

            The fifteen: The fifteen-fold Stoma, called pañcha-dasha, (See Haug’s Trans. Ait. Br. p. 238

 

            12. The first dawn (is) the child Rita, one upholds the greatness of Waters, one moves in the regions of Sûrya, one (in those) of Gharma (fire), and Saviti rules one.

            13. That, which dawned first, has become a cow in Yama’s realm. Rich in milk, may she milk for us each succeeding year.

Each succeeding year: This shows that the dawn here described is the first dawn of the year. In ig. I, 33, 10, light (cows) is said to be milked from darkness

            14. The chief of the bright, the omniform, the brindled, the fire-bannered has come, with light, in the sky. Working well towards a common goal, bearing (signs of) old age, (yet) O unwasting! O Dawn! thou hast come.

 

Working-well towards a common goal: compare ig. III, 61, 3, where, the Dawn “wending to one and the same goal” is asked to “turn on like a wheel.”

            Bearing (signs of) old age: I construe jarâm bibhratî and yet ajare. Sâyaa takes svapasya-rnânâ (working well) as an independent adjective; and connects bibhratî with artham, and jarâm with âgâ. The meaning would then be “Working well, having a common end, O unwasting Dawn! thou least reached old age.” But it does not make any appreciable change in the general sense of the verse.

            15. The wife of the seasons, this first has come, the leader of days, the mother of children. Though one, O Dawn! thou shinest manifoldly; though unwasting, thou causest all the rest to grow old (decay).

 

Though one ... shinest manyfoldly: shows that only one continuous dawn, though made up of many parts, is described in this hymn.

            Leader of days, mother of children — the epithets ahnâm netrî and gavâm mâtâ are also found used in the ig-Veda, VII, 77, 2.

 

Taitt. Sahitâ V, 3, 4, 7.

 

            It was un-distinguished,* neither day nor night. The Gods perceived these dawn-bricks (for the laying of which the 15 verses given above are to be used). They laid them. Then it shone forth.† Therefore for whom these are laid, it shines forth to him, destroys (his) darkness.

 

* It was undistinguished: This paragraph, which is found later on in the Sahitâ, explains how the dawn-bricks came to be laid with the fifteen verses given above. The portions of the Taittirîya Sahitâ, which contain such explanations are called Brâhmaa

 

Then it shone forth: This shows that aid the thirty Dawns were understood to have preceded the rise of the sun, I have already quoted (supra p. 100) a passage from Taitt. Brâh. (II, 5, 6, 5) which says that these dawns were continuous and unseparated.

 

REMARKS

 

            It has been previously mentioned that the fifteen verses, quoted above, are used or recited as Mantras at the time of laying down certain emblematical bricks, called Vyuhtî-ihakâs or dawn-bricks, on the sacrificial altar. But as the Mantras, or verses, used for sacrificial purposes are often taken from different Vedic hymns, these verses are likely to be regarded as unconnected with each other. The account of the thirty dawns, contained therein, however, shows that these verses must have originally formed an entire or one homogeneous hymn. Again if the Mantras had been selected from different hymns, one for each dawn-brick, there would naturally be 16 verses in all, as 16 dawn-bricks are to be laid on the altar. The very fact, that the Anuvâka contains only 15 verses (leaving the sacrificer to select the 16th from elsewhere), therefore, further supports the same view. It is true that some of these verses are found in the Atharva-Veda, either detached or in connection with other subjects. But that does not prevent us from treating the passage in the Taittirîya Sahitâ, as containing a connected account of thirty dawns divided into five groups of six each. The question is not, however, very material, inasmuch as verses 5 and 6, whether they formed part of an entire hymn or not, are by themselves sufficient to prove the point at issue, viz., that the Vedic Goddess of Dawn constituted a group of thirty sisters. The ig-Veda speaks of “thirty steps” traversed by the Dawn, (VI, 59, 6), or of Dawns going round “thirty yojanas” (I, 123, 8); but both these statements have, as yet, remained totally unexplained, or have been but imperfectly explained by Indian and Western scholars alike. But now that we know that the Vedic Dawns were thirty in number, both the aforesaid statements become at once easily comprehensible. The only other point necessary to be decided, so far as the subject in hand is concerned, is whether these thirty dawns were the dawns of thirty consecutive days, or whether they formed a “closely-gathered band” of thirty continuous dawns; and on reading the two aforesaid passages from the Taittirîya Sahitâ, the one from the Taittirîya Brâhmaa, II, 5, 6, 5, and other authorities cited in the foregoing chapter, I do not think, there can be any doubt that the Goddess of Dawn, worshipped by the Vedic bards, was originally a group of thirty continuous dawns. It is not contended that the ancestors of the Vedic bards were unacquainted with ordinary dawns, for, even in the circumpolar regions there are, during certain parts of the year, successions of ordinary days and nights and with them of ordinary dawns. But so far as the Vedic Goddess of morning is concerned, there is enough evidence to show that it was no other than the continuous and revolving Dawn at the end of the long night in those regions, the Dawn that lasted for thirty periods of 24 hours each, which is possible only within a few degrees round about the North Pole


 

 

 

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CHAPTER VI

 

LONG DAY AND LONG NIGHT

 

Independent evidence about the long night — Vitra living in long darkness — Expressions denoting long darkness or long night — Anxiety to reach the end of darkness — Prayers to reach safely the other end of night — A night, the other boundary of which was not known according to the Atharva Veda — The Taittirîya Sahitâ explains that these prayers were due to fears entertained by the ancient priests that the night would not dawn — Not caused by long winter nights as supposed by Sâyaa — Description of days and nights in the ig-Veda — Divided into two typical pairs — One described as bright, dark and virûpeVirûpe means “of varying lengths” and not “of various colors” — Second pair, Ahanî, different from the first — Durations of days and nights on the globe examined — Ahanî can only be a couple of the long Arctic day and night — Described as forming the right and left, or opposite, sides of the Year in the Taittirîya Ârayaka — The sun is described in the ig-Veda as unyoking his car in the midst of the sky — And thereby retaliating Dâsa’s mischief — Represents the long day and the long night — Summary of evidence regarding long day and long night — Uhas and Sûrya as Dakshinâ and Dakhinâ’s son — Probably imply the southerly course of both.

 

 

            When a long continuous dawn of thirty days, or a closely-gathered band of thirty dawns, is shown to have been expressly referred to in the Vedic literature, the long night preceding such a dawn follows as a matter of course; and where a long night prevails, it must have a long day to match it during the year. The remaining portion of the year, after deducting the period of the long night, the long day and the long morning and evening twilights, would also be characterized by a succession of ordinary days and nights, a day and night together never exceeding twenty-four hours, though, within the limit, the day may gradually gain over the night at one time and the night over the day at another, producing a variety of ordinary days and nights of different lengths. All these phenomena are so connected astronomically that if one of them is established, the others follow as a matter of scientific inference. Therefore, if the long duration of the Vedic dawn is once demonstrated, it is, astronomically speaking, unnecessary to search for further evidence regarding the existence of long days and nights in the ig-Veda. But as we are dealing with a state of things which existed several thousand years ago, and with evidence, which, though traditionally handed down, has not yet been interpreted in the way we have done, it is safer to treat, in practice, the aforesaid astronomical phenomena as disconnected facts, and separately collect evidence bearing on each, keeping the astronomical connection in reserve till we come to consider the cumulative effect of the whole evidence in support of the several facts mentioned above. I do not mean to imply that there is any uncertainty in the relation of sequence between the above astronomical facts. On the contrary, nothing can be more certain than such a sequence. But in collecting and examining the evidence bearing on facts like those under consideration, it is always advisable in practice to collect as much evidence and from as many different points of view as possible. In this and the following two chapters, we, therefore, propose to examine separately the evidence that can be found in the Vedic literature about the long day, the long night, the number of months of sunshine and of darkness, and the character of the year, and see if it discloses characteristics found only at, or around, the North Pole.

 

            And first regarding the long night, — a night of several days’ duration, such as makes the northern latitudes too cold or uncomfortable for human habitation at present, but which, in inter-glacial times, appeared to have caused no further inconvenience than what might result from darkness, long and continuous darkness for a number of days, though, by itself, it was not a desirable state of things, and the end of which must have been eagerly looked for by men who had to undergo such experience. There are many passages in the ig-Veda that speak of long and ghastly darkness, in one form or another, which sheltered the enemies of Indra, and to destroy which Indra had to fight with the demons or the Dâsas, whose strongholds are all said to be concealed in this  darkness. Thus in I, 32, 10, Vitra, the traditional enemy of Indra, is said to be engulfed in long darkness (dîrgham tama âshayad Indrashatru), and in V, 32, 5, Indra is described as having placed Shuha who was anxious to fight, in “the darkness, of the pit” (tamasi harmye), while the next verse speaks of asûrye tamasi (lit. sunless darkness), which Max Müller renders by “ghastly darkness.” ( See S. B. E. series, Vol. XXXII, p. 218) In spite of these passages the fight between Vitra and Indra is considered to be a daily and not a yearly struggle, a theory the validity of which will be examined when we come to the discussion of Vedic myths. For the present it is sufficient to note that the above expressions lose all their propriety, if the darkness, in which the various enemies of Indra are said to have flourished, be taken to be the ordinary darkness of twelve, or, at best, of twenty-four hours’ duration. It was, in reality, a long and a ghastly or sunless, darkness, which taxed all the powers of Indra and his associate Gods to overcome.

            But apart from this legendary struggle, there are other verses in the ig-Veda which plainly indicate the existence of a night longer than the longest cis-Arctic night. In the first place the Vedic bards are seen frequently invoking their deities to release them from darkness. Thus in II, 27, 14, the poet says, “Aditi, Mitra and also Varua forgive if we have committed any sin against you! May I obtain the wide fearless light, O Indra! May not the long darkness comeover us.” The expression in the original for “long darkness” is dîrghâ tamisrâ, and means rather an “uninterrupted succession of dark nights (tamisrâ)” than simply “long darkness.” But even adopting Max Müller’s rendering given above (Hibbert Lectures, p. 231) the anxiety here manifested for the disappearance of the long darkness is unmeaning, if the darkness never lasted for more than twenty-four hours. In I, 46, 6, the Ashvins are asked “to vouchsafe such strength to the worshipper as may carry him through darkness”; and in VII, 67 a the poet exclaims: “The fire has commenced to burn, the ends of darkness have been seen, and the banner of the Dawn has appeared in the cast!”*

 

The expression “ends of darkness” (tamasa antâ) is very peculiar, and it would be a violation of idiom to take this and other expressions indicating “long darkness” to mean nothing more than long winter nights, as we have them in the temperate or the tropical zone. As stated previously the longest winter night in these zones must be, at best, a little short of twenty-four hours, and even then these long nights prevail only for a fortnight or so. It is, therefore, very unlikely that Vedic bards perpetuated the memory of these long nights by making it a grievance of such importance as to require the aid of their deities to relieve them from it. There are other passages where the same longing for the end of darkness or for the appearance of light is expressed, and these cannot be accounted for on the theory that to the, old Vedic bards night was as death, since they had no means which a civilized person in the twentieth century possesses, of dispelling the darkness of night by artificial illumination. Even the modern savages are not reported to be in the habit of exhibiting such impatience for the morning light as we find in the utterances of the Vedic bards; and yet the latter were so much advanced in civilization as to know the use of metals and carriages. Again not only men, but Gods, are said to have lived in long darkness. Thus, in X, 124, I, Agni is told that he has stayed “too long in the long darkness,” the phrase used being jyog eva dîrgham tama âshayihâh. This double phrase jyog (long) dîrgham is still more inappropriate, if the duration of darkness never exceeded       that of the longest winter-night. In II, 2, 2, the same deity, Agni, is said to shine during “continuous nights,” which, according to Max Müller, is the meaning of the word khapa in the original.*( * See S. B. E. Series, Vol. XLVI, p. 195.) The translation is no doubt correct, but Prof. Max Müller does not explain to us what he means by the phrase “continuous nights.” Does it signify a succession of nights uninterrupted by sun-light? or, is it only an elegant rendering, meaning nothing more than a number of nights? The learned translator seems to have narrowly missed the true import of the phrase employed by him.

 

            But we need not depend on stray passages like the above to prove that the long night was known in early days. In the tenth Maṇḍala of the ig-Veda we have a hymn (127) addressed to the Goddess of night and in the 6th verse of this hymn Night is invoked to “become easily fordable” to the worshipper (nah sutarâ bhava). In the Parishiha, which follows this hymn in the ig-Veda and which is known as Râtri-sûkta or Durgâ-stava, the worshipper asks the Night to be favorable to him, exclaiming “May we reach the other side in safety! May we reach the: other side in safety!”( The 4th verse in the Râtri-Sûkta. The Atharva-Veda, XIX, 47, 2. Ibid, XIX, 50, 3.)  In the Atharva-Veda, XIX, 47, which is a reproduction, with some variations, of the above Parishiha, the second verse runs thus. “Each moving thing finds rest in her (Night), whose yonder boundary is not seen, nor that which keeps her separate. O spacious, darksome night! May we, uninjured, reach the end of thee, reach, O thou blessed one, thine end!” And in the third verse of the 50th hymn of the same book the worshippers ask that they may pass uninjured in their body, “through each succeeding night, (râtrim râtrim).” Now a question is naturally raised why should every one be so anxious about safely reaching the other end of the night? And why should the poet exclaim that “its yonder boundary is nor seen, nor what keeps it separate?” Was it because it was an ordinary winter night, or, was it because it was the long Arctic night? Fortunately, the Taittirîya Sahitâ preserves for us the oldest traditional reply to these questions and we need not, therefore, depend upon the speculations of modern commentators. In the Taittirîya Sahitâ I, 5, 5, 4,* (Taitt Sam. I, 5, 5, 4; Taitt, Sam. I, 5, 7, 5)we have a similar Mantra or prayer addressed to Night in these words: — “O Chitrâvasu! let me safely reach thy end.. A little further (I, 5, 7, 5), the Sahitâ itself explains this Mantra, or prayer thus: — “Chitrâvasu is (means) the night; in old times (purâ), the Brâhmas (priests) were afraid that it (night) would not dawn.” Here we have an express Vedic statement, that in old times, the priests or the people, felt apprehensions regarding the time when the night would end. What does it signify? If the night was not unusually long, where was the necessity for entertaining any misgivings about the coming dawn? Sâyaa, in commenting on the above passage, has again put forward his usual explanation, that nights in the winter were long and they made the priest apprehensive in regard to the coming dawn. But here we can quote Sâyaa against himself, and show that he has dealt with this important passage in an off hand manner. It is well-known that the Taittirîya Sahitâ often explains the Mantras, and this portion of the Sahitâ is called Brâmaa, the whole of the Taittirîya Sahitâ being made up in this way of Mantras and the Brâhmaa, or prayers and their explanations or commentary mixed up together. The statement regarding the apprehensions of the priests about the coming dawn, therefore, falls under the Brâhmaa portion of the Sahitâ. Now the contents of the Brâhmaas are usually classified by Indian divines under the ten following heads — (1) Hetu or reason; (2) Nirvachana, or etymological explanation; (3) Nindâ, or censure; (4) Prasha, or praise; (5) Sashaya, or doubt; (6) Vidhi, or the rule; (7) Parakriyâ, or others’ doings; (8) Purâ-kalpa, or ancient rite or tradition; (9) Vyavadhârana-kalpanâ or determining the limitations; (10) Upamâna, an apt comparison or simile. Sâyaa in his introduction to the commentary on the ig-Veda mentions the first nine of these, and as an illustration of the eighth, Purâ-kalpa, quotes the explanatory passage from the Taittirîya Sahitâ, I, 5, 7, 5, referred to above. According to Sâyaa the statement, “In former times the priests were afraid that it would not dawn,” therefore, comes under Purâ-kalpa, or ancient traditional history found in the Brâmaas. It is no Arthavâda, that is, speculation or explanation put forth by the Brâhmaa itself. This is evident from the word purâ which occurs in the Sahitâ text, and which shows that some piece of ancient traditional information is here recorded. Now if this view is correct; a question naturally arises why should ordinary long winter nights have caused such apprehensions in the minds of the priests only “in former times,” and why should the long darkness cease to inspire the same fears in the minds of the present generation. The long winter nights in the tropical and the temperate zone are as long to-day as they were thousands of years ago, and yet none of us, not even the most ignorant, feels any misgiving about the dawn which puts an end to the darkness of these long nights. It may, perhaps, be urged that in ancient times the bards had not acquired the knowledge necessary to predict the certain appearance of the dawn after a lapse of some hours in such cases. But the lameness of this excuse becomes at once evident when we see that the Vedic calendar was, at this time, so much advanced that even the question of the equation of the solar and the lunar year was solved with sufficient accuracy Sâyaa’s explanation of winter nights causing misgivings about the coming dawn must, therefore, be rejected as unsatisfactory. It was not the long winter-night that the Vedic bards were afraid of in former ages. It was something else, something very long, so long that, though you knew it would not last permanently, yet, by its very length, it tired your patience and made you long for, eagerly long for, the coming dawn. In short, it was the long night of the Arctic region, and the word purâ shows that it was a story of former ages, which the Vedic bards knew by tradition, I have shown elsewhere that the Taittirîya Sahitâ must be assigned to the Kittikâ period. We may, therefore, safely conclude that at about 2500 B.C., there was a tradition current amongst the Vedic people to the effect that in former times, or rather in the former age, the priests grew so impatient of the length of the night, the yonder boundary of which was not known, that they fervently prayed to their deities to guide them safely to the other end of that tiresome darkness. This description of the night is inappropriate unless we take it to refer to the long and continuous Arctic night.

 

            Let us now see if the ig-Veda contains any direct reference to the long day, the long night, or to the Circumpolar calendar, besides the expressions about long darkness or the difficulty of reaching the other boundary of the endless night noticed above. We have seen before that the Rig-Vedic calendar is a calendar of 360 days, with an intercalary month, which can neither be Polar nor Circumpolar. But side by side with it the ig-Veda preserves the descriptions of days and nights, which are not applicable to the cis-Arctic days, unless we put an artificial construction upon the passages containing these descriptions. Day and night is spoken of as a couple in the Vedic literature, and is denoted by a compound word in the dual number. Thus we have Uhâsa-naktâ (I, 122, 2), Dawn and Night; Naktohâsâ (I, 142, 7), Night and Dawn; or simply Uhâsau (I, 188, 6) the two Dawns; all meaning a couple of Day and Night. The word Aho-ratre also means Day and Night; but it does not occur in the ig-Veda, though Aitareya Brâhmaa (II, 4) treats it as synonymous with Uhâsâ-naktâ. Sometimes this pair of Day and Night is spoken of as two sisters or twins; but whatever the form in which they are addressed, the reference is usually unambiguous. Now one of the verses which describes this couple of Day and Night is III, 55, 11.*

 

The deity of the verse is Aho-ratre, and it is admitted on all hands that it contains a description of Day and Night. It runs thus: —

 

                        Nânâ chakrâte yamyâ vapûṁṣhi

                        tayor anyad rochate kiham anyat |

                        Shyâvî cha yad aruhî cha swasârau

                        mahad devânâm asuratvam ekam ||

 

            The first three quarters or feet of this verse contain the principal statements, while the fourth is the refrain of the song or the hymn. Literally translated it means: — “The twin pair (females) make many forms; of the two one shines, the other (is) dark; two sisters (are) they, the dark (shyâvî), and the bright (aruhi). The great divinity of the Gods is one (unique).” The verse looks simple enough at the first sight, and simple it is, so far as the words are concerned. But it has been misunderstood in two important points. We shall take the first half of the verse first. It says “the twin pair make many forms; of the two one shines and the other is dark.” The twin pair are Day and Night, and one of them is bright and the other dark. So far, therefore, there is no difficulty. But the phrase “make many forms” does not seem to have been properly examined or interpreted. The words used in the original verse are nânâ chakrâte vapûṁṣhi, and they literally mean “make many bodies or forms.” We have thus a two-fold description of the couple; it is called the shining and the dark and also described as possessed of many forms. In I, 123, 7, the couple of Day and Night is said to be vihurûpe; while in other places the adjective: virûpe is used in the same sense. It is evident, therefore, that the “bodies” or “forms” intended to be denoted by these words must be different from the two-fold character of the couple as shining and dark and if so, the phrases vihurûpe virûpe or nânâ vapûṁṣhi used in connection with the couple of Day and Night must be taken to mean something different from “bright and dark,” if these expressions are not to be considered as superfluous or tautological. Sâyaa interprets these phrases as referring to different colors (rûpa), like black, white, &c., and some of the Western scholars seem to have adopted this interpretation. But I cannot see the propriety of assigning different colors to Day and Night. Are we to suppose that we may have sometimes green- violet, yellow or blue days and nights? Again though the word rûpa lends itself to this construction, yet vapûṁṣhi cannot ordinarily be so understood. The question does not, however, seem to have attracted the serious attention of the commentators; so that even Griffith translates vihurûpe by “unlike in hue” in I, 123, 7. The Naktohâsâ are described as virûpe also in I, 113, 3, but there too Sâyaa gives the same explanation. It does not appear to have occurred to any one that the point requires any further thought. Happily, in the case of ig. I, 113, 3, we have, however, the advantage of consulting a commentator older than Sâyaa. The verse occurs in the Uttarârchika of Sâma-Veda (19, 4, 2, 3), Mâdhava in his Vivaraa, a commentary on the Sâma-Veda explains virûpe thus: — “In the Dakhiâyana during the year there is the increase of night, and in the Uttarâyaa of day.”* (See Sâma-Veda, Cal. Ed. Utta. 19, 4, 2, 3)  Mâdhava’s Vivaraa is a scarce book, and I take the above quotation from an extract from his commentary given in a footnote to the Calcutta edition of the Sâma-Veda Sahitâ, with Sâyaa’s commentary, published by Satyavrata Sâmashramî, a learned Vedic scholar of Calcutta. It is not known who this Mâdhava is, but Pandit Satyavrata states that he is referred to by Durga, the commentator of Yâska. We may, therefore, take Mâdhava to be an old commentator, and it is satisfactory to find that he indicates to us the way out of the difficulty of interpreting the phrases vihurûpe and virûpe occurring so many times in ig-Veda, in connection with the couple of Day and Night. The word “form” (rûpa) or body (vapus) can be used to denote the extent, duration, or length of days and nights, and virûpe would naturally denote the varying lengths of days and nights, in addition to their color which can be only two-fold, dark or bright. Taking our clue from Mâdhava, we may, therefore, interpret the first half of the verse as meaning “The twin pair assume various (nânâ) lengths (vapûṁṣhi); of the two one shines and the other is dark.”

 

            But though the first half may be thus interpreted, another difficulty arises, as soon as we take up the third quarter of the verse. It says, “Two sisters are they, the dark (shyâvî) and the bright (arû).” Now the question is whether the two sisters (svasârau) here mentioned are the same as,, or different from, the twin pair (yamyâ) mentioned in the first half of the verse. If we take them as identical, the third pâda or quarter of the verse becomes at once superfluous. If we take them as different, we must explain how and where the two pairs differ. The commentators have not been able to solve the difficulty, and they have, therefore, adopted the course of regarding the twins (yamyâ) and the sisters (svasârau) as identical, even at the risk of tautology. It will surely be admitted that this is not a satisfactory course, and that we ought to find a better explanation, if we can. This is not again the only place where two distinct couples of Day and Night are mentioned. There is another word in the ig-Veda which denotes a pair of Day and Night. It is Ahanî, which does not mean “two days” but Day and Night, for, in VI, 9, 1, we are expressly told that “there is a dark aha (day) and a bright aha (day).” Ahanî, therefore, means a couple of Day and Night, and we have seen that Usâsâ-naktâ also means a couple of Day and Night. Are the two couples same or different? If Ahanî be regarded as synonymous with Uhâsâ-naktâ or Aho-râtre, then the two couples would be identical; otherwise different. Fortunately, ig. IV, 55, 3, furnishes us with the means of solving this difficulty. There Usâsâ-naktâ and Ahanî are separately invoked to grant protection to the worshipper and the separate invocation clearly proves that the two couples are two separate dual deities, though each of them represents a couple of Day and Night.*

 

,

 

            Prof. Max Müller has noticed this difference between Usâsâ-naktâ and Ahanî or the two Ahans but he does not seem to have pushed it to its logical conclusion. If all the 360 days and nights of the year were of the same class as with us, there was no necessity of dividing them into two representative couples as Usâsâ-naktâ and Ahanî. The general description “dark, bright and of various lengths,” would have been quite sufficient to denote all the days and nights of the year. Therefore, if the distinction between Usâsâ-naktâ and Ahanî, made in IV, 55, 3, is not to be ignored, we must find out an explanation of this distinction; and looking to the character of days and nights at different places on the surface of the earth from the Pole to the Equator the only possible explanation that can be suggested is that the year spoken of in these passages was a circum-Polar year, made up of one long day and one long night, forming one pair, and a number of ordinary days and nights of various lengths, which, taking a single day and night as the type can be described as the second couple, “bright, dark and. of varying lengths.” There is no other place on the surface of the earth where the description holds good. At the Equator, we have only equal days and nights throughout the year and they can be represented by a single couple “dark and bright, but always of the same length.” In fact, instead of virûpe the pair would be sarûpe. Between the Equator and the Arctic Circle, a day and night together never exceed twenty-four hours, though there may be a day of 23 hours and a night of one hour and vice versa, as we approach the Arctic Circle. In this case, the days of the year will have to be represented by a typical couple, “dark and night, but of various lengths, virûpe.” But as soon as we cross the Arctic Circle and go into “The Land of the Long Night,” the above description requires to be amended by adding to the first couple, another couple of the long day and the long night, the lengths of which would vary according to latitude. This second couple of the long day and the long night, which match each other, will have also to be designated as virûpe, with this difference, however, that while the length of days and nights in the temperate zone would vary at the same place, the length of the long night and the long day would not vary at one and the same place but only at different latitudes. Taking a couple of Day and Night, as representing the days and nights of the year, we shall have, therefore, to divide the different kinds of diurnal changes over the globe into three classes: —

            (i) At the Equator, — A single couple; dark and bright but always of the same form, or length (sarûpe).

            (ii) Between the Equator and the Arctic Circle, — A single couple; dark and bright, but of various forms, or lengths, (virûpe).

            (iii) Between the Arctic Circle and the Pole, — Two couples; each dark and bright, but of various forms or lengths (virûpe).

 

            At the Pole, there is only one day and one night of six months each. Now if we have an express passage in the ig-Veda (IV, 55, 3) indicating two different couples of Day and. Night Ushâsâ-naktâ and Ahanî, it is evident that the ahorâtre represented by them are the days and nights of the Circum-Polar regions, and of those alone. In the light of IV, 55, 3, we must, therefore, interpret III, 55, 11, quoted above, as describing two couples, one of the twin pair and the other of two sisters. The verse must, therefore, be translated: —

“The twin pair (the first couple) make many forms (lengths); of the two one shines and the other is dark. Two sisters are they the shyâvî or the, dark and aru or the bright (the second couple).” No part of the verse is thus rendered superfluous, and the whole becomes far more comprehensible than otherwise.

 

            We have seen that days and nights are represented by two distinct typical couples in the ig-Veda Uhasâ-naktâ and Ahanî; and that if the distinction is not unmeaning we must take this to be the description of the days and nights within the Arctic Circle. Whether Ahanî means a couple of Day and Night distinct from Uhasâ-naktâ in every place where the word occurs, it is difficult to say. But that in some places, at least, it denotes a peculiar couple of the Day and Night, not included in, and different from, Uhâsa-naktâ is evident from IV, 55, 3. Now if Ahanî really means the couple of the long day and the long night, as distinguished from the ordinary days and nights, there is another way in which these two couples can be differentiated from each other. The ordinary days and nights follow each other closely the day is succeeded by the night and the night by the day; and the two members of the couple, representing these days and nights, cannot be described as separated from each other. But the long night and the long day, though of equal duration do not follow each other in close succession. The long night occurs about the time when the sun is at the winter solstice, and the long day when he is at the summer solstice; and these two solstitial points are separated by 180°, being opposite to each other in the ecliptic. This character of Ahanî seems to have been traditionally known in the time of the Ârayakas. Thus the Taittirîya Ârayaka, I, 2, 3, in discussing the personified year,  Taitt. Âran. I, 2, 3. first says that the Year has one head, and two different mouths, and then remarks that all this is “season-characteristic,” which the commentator explains by stating that the Year-God is said to have two mouths because it has two Ayanas, the northern and the southern, which include the seasons. But the statement important for our purpose is the one which follows next. The Ârayaka continues “To the right and the left side of the Year-God (are) the bright and the dark (days)” and the following verse refers to it: — “Thy one (form) is bright, thy another sacrificial (dark), two Ahans of different forms, though art like Dyau. Thou, O Self-dependent! protectest all magic powers, O Pûhan! let thy bounty be here auspicious.” * Taitt. Ârayaka, I, 2, 4.   The verse, or the Mantra, here referred to is ig. VI, 58, 1. Pûhan is there compared to Dyau and is said to have two forms, dark and bright, like the Ahanî. These dark and bright forms of Ahanî are said to constitute the right and left side of the Year-God, that is, the two opposite parts of the body of the personified year. In other words the passage clearly states that the dark and the bright part of Ahanî, do not, follow each other closely, but are situated on the diametrically opposite sides of the year. This can only be the case if the couple of Day and Night, represented by Ashanî, be taken to denote the long night and the long day in the Arctic regions. There the long night is matched by the long day and while the one occurs when the sun is at the winter-solstice, the other occurs when he is at the summer-solstice. The two parts of Ahanî are, therefore, very correctly represented as forming the right and the left side of the Year-God, in the Ârayaka, and the passage thus materially supports the view about the nature of Ahanî mentioned above.

 

            Lastly, we have express passage in the ig-Veda where a long day is described. In V, 54, 5, an extended daily course (dirgham yojanam) of the sun is mentioned and the Maruts are said to have extended their strength and greatness in a similar way.†

 

But the most explicit statement about the long day is found in X, 138, 3. This hymn celebrates the exploits of Indra, all of which are performed in aerial or heavenly regions. In the first verse the killing of Vitra and the releasing of the dawns and the waters are mentioned; and in the second the sun is said to have been made to shine by the same process. The third verse* is as follows: —

 

                        Vi sûryo madhye amuchad ratham divo

                        vidad dâsâya pratimânam ârya |

                        Dihâni Pipror asurasya mâyina

                        Indro vyâsyach chakivâ ijishvanâ ||

 

            The fourth, fifth and the sixth verses all refer to the destruction of Vitra’s forts, the chastisement of Uhas and placing of the moons in the heaven. But the third verse quoted above is alone important for our purpose. The words are simple and easy and the verse may be thus translated “The sun unyoked his car in the midst of heaven; the Ârya found a counter-measure (pratimânam) for the Dâsa. Indra, acting with ijishvan, overthrew the solid forts of Pipru, the conjuring Asura. “It is the first half of the verse that is relevant to our purpose. The sun is said to have unyoked his car, not at sunset, or on the horizon, but in the midst of heaven, there to rest for some time. There is no uncertainty about it, for the words are so clear; and the commentators have found it difficult to explain this extraordinary conduct of the sun in the midway of the heavens. Mr. Griffith says that it is, perhaps an allusion to an eclipse, or to the detention of the sun to enable the Aryans to complete the overthrow of their enemies. Both of these suggestions are, however, not satisfactory. During a solar eclipse the sun being temporarily hidden by the moon is invisible wholly or partially and is not besides stationary. The description that the sun unyoked his car in the mid-heaven cannot, therefore, apply to the eclipsed sun. As regards the other suggestion, viz., that the sun remained stationary for a while to allow his favorite race, the Aryans, to overthrow their enemies, it seems to have had its origin in the Biblical passage (Joshua, X, 12, 13), where the sun is said to have stood still, at the word of Joshua, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. But there is no authority for importing this Biblical idea into the ig-Veda. Indra’s exploits are described in a number of hymns in the ig-Veda, but in no other hymn he is said to have made the sun stand still for the Aryans. We must, therefore, reject both the explanations suggested by Griffith. Sâyaa gets over the difficulty by interpreting the phrase, ratham vi amuchat madhye diva, as meaning that “the sun loosened (viamuchat) his carriage, that is, set it free to travel, towards the middle (madhye) of heaven, (ratham prasthânâya vimuktavân).” Sâyaa’s meaning, therefore, is that when Indra obtained compensation from Vitra, he let loose the chariot of the sun to travel towards the midst of the sky. But the construction is evidently a strained one. The verb vi much is used in about a dozen places in the ig-Veda in relation to horses, and everywhere it means to “unharness,” “unyoke,” or “separate the horses from the carriage for rest,” and even Sâyaa has interpreted it in the same way. Thus vi-muchya is explained by him as rathât vishlihya in I, 104, 1, and rathât vi-muchya in III, 32, 1, and rathât visijya in X, 160, 1, (also compare I, 171, 1; I, 177, 4; VI, 40, 1). The most natural meaning of the present verse would, therefore, be that the “sun unyoked his carriage.” But even supposing that vi much can be interpreted to mean “to loosen for travel,” the expression would be appropriate only when there is an antecedent stoppage or slow motion of the sun. The question why the sun stopped or slackened his motion in the midst of the sky would, therefore, still remain unsolved. The phrase diva madhye naturally means “in the midst of the sky,” and cannot be interpreted to mean “towards the mid-heaven.” Of course if the sun was below the horizon, we may describe him as having loosened his horses for travel as in V, 62, 1; but even there the meaning seems to be that the horses rested at the place. In the present case the sun is already in the midst of heaven, and we cannot take him below the horizon without a palpable distortion of meaning. Nor can we properly explain the action of retaliation (pratimânam), if we accept Sâyaa’s interpretation. We must, therefore, interpret the first half of the verse to mean that “the sun unyoked his carriage in the midst of heaven.” There is another passage in the ig-Veda which speaks of the sun halting in the midst of heaven. In VII, 87, 5, the king Varua is said to have made “the golden (sun) rock like a swing in the heaven” (chakre divi prekhâm hiramayam), clearly meaning that the sun swayed backwards and forwards in the heaven being visible all the time, (cf. also VII, 88, 3). The idea expressed in the present verse is exactly the same, for even within the Arctic regions the sun will appear as swinging only during the long continuous day, when he does not go below the horizon once every twenty-four hours. There is, therefore, nothing strange or uncommon in the present verse which says that, “the sun unyoked his carriage for some time in the midst of the sky;” and we need not be impatient to escape from the natural meaning of the verse. A long halt of the sun in the midst of the heaven is here clearly described, and we must take it to refer to the long day in the Arctic region. The statement in the second line further supports the same view. European scholars appear to have been misled, in this instance, by the words Ârya and Dâsa, which they are accustomed to interpret as meaning the Aryan and the non-Aryan race. But though the words may be interpreted in this way in some passages, such is not the case everywhere. The word Dâsa is applied to Indra’s enemies in a number of places. Thus Shambara is called a Dâsa (IV, 30, 14,) and the same adjective is applied to Pipru in VIII, 32, 2, and to Namuchi in V, 30, 7. Indra is said to inspire fear into the Dâsa in X, 120, 2 and in II, 11, 2 he is described as having rent the Dâsa who considered himself immortal. In the verse under consideration Indra’s victory over Pipru is celebrated, and we know that Pipru is elsewhere called a Dâsa. It is, therefore, quite natural to suppose that the words Ârya and Dâsa in the above verse, refer to Indra and Pipru, and not to the Aryan and the non-Aryan race. The exploits described are all heavenly, and it jars with the context to take a single sentence in the whole hymn as referring to the victory of the Aryan over the non-Aryan race. There is again the word Pratimâna (lit. counter-measure), which denotes that what has been done is by way of retaliation, a sort of counter-poise or counterblast, with a view to avenge the mischief done by Dâsa. A battle between the Aryans and the non-Aryans cannot be so described unless a previous defeat of the Aryans is first alluded to. The plain meaning of the verse, therefore, is that the sun was made to halt in the midst of the sky, producing a long day, and Indra thus found a counter-poise for Dâsa his enemy. For we know that darkness is brought on by the Dâsa, and it is he who brings on the long night; but if the Dâsa made the night long, Indra retaliated or counter-acted by making the day as long as the night of the Dâsa. The long night of the Arctic regions is, we have seen, matched by the long day in those regions, and the present verse expresses the same idea of matching the one by the other. There is no reference to the victory of the Aryan race over the non-Aryans, or anything of that kind as supposed by Western scholars. Sâyaa, who had no historic theories to mislead him, has rightly interpreted Ârya and Dâsa in this verse as referring to Indra and his enemy; but he, in his turn, has misinterpreted as shown above, the first half of the verse in regard to the sun’s long halt in the midst of the sky. The misinterpretation of the: second hemistich conies from Western scholars, like Muir who interprets Ârya as meaning the Aryans and Dâsa, the non-Aryans. This shows how in the absence of the true key to the meaning of a passage, we may be led away by current theories, even where the words are plain and simple in themselves.

 

            We thus-see that the ig-Veda speaks of two different couples of Day and Night, one alone of which represents the ordinary days and nights in the year and the second, the Ahanî, is a distinct couple by itself, forming, according to the Taittirîya Ârayaka, the right and the left hand side of the Year, indicating the long Arctic day and night. The Taittirîya Sahitâ again gives us in clear terms a tradition that in the former age the night was so long that men were afraid it would not dawn. We have also a number of expressions in the ig-Veda denoting “long nights” or “long and ghastly darkness” and also the “long journey” of the sun. Prayers are also offered to Vedic deities to enable the worshipper to reach safely the end of the night, the “other boundary of which is not known.” Finally we have an express text declaring that the sun halted in the midst of the sky and thereby retaliated the mischief brought on by Dâsa’s causing the long night. Thus we have not only the long day and the long night mentioned in the ig-Veda, but the idea that the two match, each other is also found therein, while the Taittirîya Ârayaka tells us that they form the opposite sides of Year-God. Besides the passages proving the long duration of the dawn, we have, therefore, sufficient independent evidence to hold that the long night in the Arctic regions and its counterpart the long day were both known to the poets of the ig-Veda and the Taittirîya Sahitâ distinctly informs us that it was a phenomenon of the former (purâ) age.

 

            I shall close this chapter with a short discussion of another Circum-Polar characteristic, I mean the southern course of the sun. It is previously stated, that the sun can never appear overhead at any station in the temperate or the frigid zone and that an observer stationed within these zones in the northern hemisphere will see the sun to his right hand or towards the south, while at the North Pole the sun will seem to rise from the south. Now the word dakhiâ in Vedic Sanskrit denotes both the “right hand” and the “south” as it does in other Aryan languages; for, as observed by Prof. Sayce, these people had to face the rising sun with their right hands to the south, in addressing their gods and hence Sanskrit dakhiâ, Welsh dehau and Old Irish des all mean at once “right hand” and “south.”* (See Sayce’s Introduction to the Science of Language, Vol. II, p. 130.)With this explanation before us, we can now understand how in a number of passages in the ig-Veda Western scholars translate dakhiâ by “right side,” where Indian scholars take the word to mean “the southern direction.” There is a third meaning of dakhia, viz., “largess” or “guerdon,” and in some places the claims of rich largesses seem to have been pushed too far. Thus when the suns are said to be only for dakhiâvats in I, 125, 6, it looks very probable that originally the expression had some reference to the southern direction rather than to the gifts given at sacrifices. In III, 58, I, Sûrya is called the son of Dakhiâ and even if Dakhiâ be here taken to mean the Dawn, yet the question why the Dawn was called Dakhiâ remains, and the only explanation at present suggested is that Dakhiâ means “skilful” or “expert.” A better way to explain these phrases is to make them refer to the southerly direction; and after what has been said above such an explanation will seem to be highly probable. It is, of course, necessary to be critical in the interpretation of the Vedic hymns, but I think that we shall be carrying our critical spirit too far, if we say that in no passage in the ig-Veda dakhiâ or its derivatives are used to denote the southerly direction (I, 95, 6; II, 42, 3). Herodotus informs us (IV, 42) that certain Phoenician mariners were commanded by Pharaoh Neco, king of Egypt, to sail round Libya (Africa) and return by the Pillars of Hercules (Straits of Gibraltar). The mariners accomplished the voyage and returned in the third year. But Herodotus disbelieves them, because, on their return they told such (to him incredible) stories, that in rounding Libya they saw the sun to their right. Herodotus could not believe that the sun would ever appear in the north; but the little thought that what was incredible to him would itself be regarded as indisputable evidence of the authenticity of the account in later days. Let us take a lesson from this story, and not interpret dakhiâ, either by “right-hand side” or by “largess,” in every passage in the ig-Veda. There may not be distinct passages to show that the sun, or the dawn, came from the south. But the very fact that Uhas is called Dakhiâ (I, 123, 1; X, 107, 1), and the sun, the son of Dakhiâ (III, 58, 1), is itself very suggestive, and possibly we have here phrases which the Vedic bards employed because in their days these were old and recognized expressions in the language. Words, like fossils, very often preserve the oldest ideas or facts in a language; and though Vedic poets may have forgotten the original meaning of these phrases, that is no reason why we should refuse to draw from the history of these words such conclusions as may legitimately follow from it. The fact that the north is designated by the word ut-tara, meaning “upper” and the south by adha-ra, meaning “lower,” also points to the same conclusion; for the north cannot be over-head or “upper” except to an observer at or near the North Pole. In later literature, we find a tradition that the path of the sun lies through regions which are lower (adha) than the abode of the Seven ihis, or the constellation of Ursa Major.*( See Kâlidâsa’s Kumârasambhava, VI, 7. Also I, 16. See also Mallinâtha’s commentary on these verses. ) That ecliptic lies to the south of the constellation is plain enough, but it cannot be said to be below the constellation, unless the zenith of the observer is in the constellation, or between it and the North Pole, a position, possible only i n the case of an observer in the Arctic region. I have already quoted a passage from the ig-Veda, which speaks of the Seven Bears (ik), as being placed on high in the heavens (uchchâ). But I have been not able to find out any Vedic authority for the tradition that the sun’s path lies below the constellation of the Seven Bears. It has also been stated previously that mere southerly direction of the sun, even if completely established, is not a sure indication of the observer being within the circum-polar region as the sun will appear to move always to the south of the observer even in the temperate zone. It is, therefore, not necessary to pursue this point further. It has been shown that the ig-Veda mentions the long night and the long day and we shall see in the next chapter that the months and the seasons mentioned in this Old Book fully accord with the theory we have formed from the evidence hitherto discussed.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER VII

 

MONTHS AND SEASONS

 

Evidence of rejected calendar generally preserved in sacrificial rites by conservative priests — Varying number of the months of sunshine in the Arctic region — Its effect on sacrificial sessions considered — Sevenfold character of the sun in the Vedas — The legend of Aditi — She presents her seven sons to the gods and casts away the eighth — Various explanations of the legend in Brâhmaas and the Taittirîya Ârayaka — Twelve suns understood to be the twelve month-gods in later literature — By analogy seven suns must have once indicated seven months of sunshine — Different suns were believed to be necessary to produce different seasons — Aditi’s legend belongs to the former age, or pûrvyam-yugam — Evidence from sacrificial literature — The families of sacrificers in primeval times — Called “our ancient fathers” in the ig-Veda — Atharvan and Agiras traced to Indo-European period — Navagvas and Dashagvas, the principal species of the Agirases — Helped Indra in his fight with Vala — They finished their sacrificial session in ten months — The sun dwelling in darkness — Ten months’ sacrifices indicate the only ten months of sunshine, followed by the long night — Etymology of Navagvas and Dashagvas — According to Sâyaa the words denote persons sacrificing for nine or ten months — Prof. Lignana’s explanation improbable — The adjectives Virûpas applied to the Agirases — Indicates other varieties of these sacrificers — Saptagu, or seven Hotis or Vipras — Legend of Dîrghatamas — As narrated in the Mahâbhârata — A protégé of Ashvins in the ig-Veda — Growing old in the tenth yuga — Meaning of yuga discussed — Mânuhâ yugâ means “human ages,” and not always “human tribes” in the ig-Veda — Two passages in proof thereof — Interpretations of Western scholars examined and rejected — Mânuhâ yuga denoted months after the long dawn and before the long night — Dîrghatamas represents the sun setting in the tenth month — Mânuhâ yuga and continuous nights — The five seasons in ancient times — A ig-Veda passage bearing on it discussed — The year of five seasons described as residing in waters — Indicates darkness of the long night — Not made up by combining any two consecutive seasons out of six — The explanation in the Brâhmaas improbable — Summary.

 

 

            Starting with the tradition about the half yearly night of the Gods found everywhere in Sanskrit literature, and also in the Avesta, we have found direct references in ig-Veda to a long continuous dawn of thirty days, the long day and the long night, when the sun remained above the horizon or went below it for a number of 24 hours; and we have also seen that the ig-Vedic texts describe these things as events of a bye-gone age. The next question, therefore, is — Do we meet in the Vedas with similar traces of the Arctic condition of seasons months or years? It is stated previously that the calendar current at the time of the Vedic Sahitâs was different from the Arctic calendar. But if the ancestors of the Vedic people ever lived near the North Pole, “we may,” as observed by Sir Norman Lockyer with reference to the older Egyptian calendar, “always reckon upon the conservatism of the priests of the temples retaining the tradition of the old rejected year in every case.” Sir Norman Lockyer first points out how the ancient Egyptian year of 360 days was afterwards replaced by a year of 365 days; and then gives two instances of the traditional practice by which the memory of the old year was preserved. “Thus even at Philæ in later times,” says he “in the temple of Osiris, there were 360 bowls for sacrifice, which were filled daily with milk by a specified rotation of priests. At Acanthus there was a perforated cask into which one of the 360 priests poured water from the Nile daily.”* (* See Lockyer’s Dawn of Astronomy, p. 243. ) And what took place in Egypt, we may expect to have taken place in Vedic times. The characteristics of an Arctic year are so unlike those of a year in the temperate zone, that if the ancestors of the Vedic people ever lived within the Arctic regions, and immigrated southwards owing to glaciation, an adaptation of the calendar to the altered geographical and astronomical conditions of the new home was a necessity, and must have been effected at the time. But in making this change, we may, as remarked by Sir Norman Lockyer, certainly expect the conservative priests to retain as much of the old calendar as possible, or at least preserve the traditions of the older year in one form or another especially in their sacrificial rites. Indo-European etymological equations have established the fact that sacrifices, or rather the system of making offerings to the gods for various purposes, existed from the primeval period,( See Schrader’s Prehistoric Antiquities of the Aryan Peoples’ Part IV, Chap. XIII, translated by Jevons, p. 421. Cf. Sans. yaj; Zend yaz; Greek azomai, agios. See Orion Chap. II.) and if so, the system must have undergone great modifications as the Aryan races moved from the Arctic to the temperate zone. I have shown elsewhere that calendar and sacrifice, especially the annual sattras, are closely connected, and that in the case of the annual sattras, or the sacrificial sessions which lasted for one year, the priests had in view, as observed by Dr. Haug,† (See Dr. Haug’s Aitareya Brâh. Vol. I, Introduction, p. 46.) the yearly course of the sun. It was the duty of these priests to keep up sacrificial fire, as the Parsi priests now do and to see that the yearly rounds of sacrifices were performed at proper times (itus). The sacrificial calendar in the Arctic home must, however, have been different from what it came to be afterwards; and happily many traces of this calendar are still discoverable in the sacrificial literature of Vedic times, proving that the ancient worshippers or sacrificers of our race must have lived in circum-polar regions. But before discussing this evidence, it is necessary to briefly describe the points wherein we might expect the ancient or the oldest sacrificial system to differ from the one current in Vedic times.

 

            In the Sahitâs and Brâhmaas, the annual sattras, or yearly sacrificial sessions, are said to extend over twelve months. But this was impossible within the Arctic region where the sun goes below the horizon for a number of days or months during the year, thereby producing the long night. The oldest duration of the annual sattras, if such sattras were ever performed within the Polar regions, would, therefore, be shorter than twelve months. In other words, an annual sattra of less than twelve months would be the chief distinguishing mark of the older sacrificial system, as contrasted with the later annual sattra of twelve months. It must also be borne in mind that the number of the months of sunshine and darkness cannot be the same everywhere in the Circum-Polar regions. At the Pole the sun is alternately above and below the horizon for six months each. But as all people cannot be expected to be stationed precisely at the Pole, practically the months of sunshine will vary from seven to eleven for the inhabitants of the Arctic region, those nearest to the North Pole having seven month’s sunshine, while those living father south from the Pole having the sun above their horizon for eight, nine or ten months according to latitude. These periods of sunshine would be made up of the long Arctic day at the place and a succession of ordinary days and nights closely following each other; and sacrificial sessions would be held, or principal business transacted, and important, religious and social ceremonies performed only during this period. It would, so to say, be a period of action, as contrasted with the long night, by which it was followed. The long dawn following the long night, would mark the beginning of this period of activity; and the Arctic sacrificial year would, practically, be made up, only of these months of sunshine. Therefore, the varying number of the months of sunshine would be the chief peculiarity of the Arctic sacrificial calendar, and we must bear it in mind in examining the traces of the oldest calendar in the ig-Veda, or other Sahitâs.

 

            A dawn of thirty days, as we measure days, implies a position so near the North Pole, that the period of sunshine at the place could not have been longer than about seven months, comprising, of course, a long day of four or five months, and a succession of regular days and nights during the remaining period; and we find that the ig-Veda does preserve for us the memory of such months of sunshine. We refer first to the legend of Aditi, or the seven Âdityas (suns), which is obviously based on some natural phenomenon. This legend expressly tells us that the oldest number of Âdityas or suns was seven, and the same idea is independently found in many other places in the ig-Veda. Thus in IX, 114, 3, seven Âdityas and seven priests are mentioned together, though the

names of the different suns are not given therein. In II, 27 1, Mitra, Aryaman, Bhaga, Varua, Dakha and Asha are mentioned by name as so many different Âdityas but the seventh is not named. This omission does not, however, mean much, as the septenary character of the sun is quite patent from the fact that he is called saptâshva (seven-horsed, in V, 45, 9, and his “seven-wheeled” chariot is said to be drawn by “seven bay steeds” (I, 50, 8 ), or by a single horse “with seven names” in I, 164, 2. The Atharva Veda also speaks of “the seven bright rays of the sun” (VII, 107, 1); and the epithet Âditya, as applied to the sun in the ig-Veda, is rendered more clearly by Adite putrah (Aditi’s son) in A.V. XIII, 2, 9. Sâyaa, following Yâska, derives this sevenfold character of the sun from his seven rays, but why solar rays were taken to be seven still remain unexplained, unless we hold that the Vedic bards had anticipated the discovery of seven prismatic rays or colors, which were unknown even to Yâska or Sâyaa. Again though the existence of seven suns may be explained on this hypothesis, yet it fails to account for the death of the eighth sun, for the legend of Aditi (ig. X, 72, 8-9) tells us, “Of the eight sons of Aditi, who were born from her body, she approached the gods with seven and cast out Mârtâṇḍa. With seven sons Aditi approached (the gods) in the former age (pûrvyam yugam); she brought thither Mârtâṇḍa again for birth and death.”*

 

The story is discussed in various places in the Vedic literature and many other attempts, unfortunately all unsatisfactory, have been made to explain it in a rational and intelligent way. Thus in the Taittirîya Sahitâ, VI, 5, 61 ƒ. the story of Aditi cooking a Brahmaudana oblation for the gods, the Sâdhyas, is narrated. The remnant of the oblation was given to her by the gods, and four Âdityas were born to her from it. She then cooked a second oblation and ate it herself first; but the Âditya born from it was an imperfect egg. She cooked a third time and the Âditya Vivasvat, the progenitor of man, was born. But the Sahitâ does not give the number and names of the eight Âdityas and this omission is supplied, by the Taittirîya Brâhmaa (I, 1, 9, 1ƒ). The Brâhmaa tells us that Aditi cooked the oblation four times and each time the gods gave her the remnant of the oblation. Four pairs of sons were thus born to her; the first pair was Dhâti and Aryaman, the second Mitra and Varua, the third Asha and Bhag and the fourth Indra and Vivasvat. But the Brâhmaa does not explain why the eighth son was called Mârtâṇḍa and cast away. The Taittirîya Arayaka, I, 13, 2-3, (cited by Sâyaa in his gloss on ig. II, 27, 1, and X, 72, 8) first quotes the two verses from the ig-Veda (X, 72, 8 and 9 which give the legend of Aditi but with a slightly different reading for the second line of the second verse. Thus instead, of tvat puna Mârtâṇḍam â abharat (she brought again Mârtâṇḍa thither for birth and death), the Arayaka reads tat parâ Mârtâṇḍam â abharat (she set aside Mârtâṇḍa for birth and death). The Arayaka then proceeds to give the names of the eight sons, as Mitra, Varua, Dhâti, Aryaman, Asha, Bhaga, Indra and Vivasvat. But no further explanation is added, nor are we told which of these eight sons represented Mârtâṇḍa. There is, however, another passage in the Âraaka (I, 7, 1-6) which throws some light on the nature of these Âdityas.* (See Taittirîya Arayaka, I, 7. ) The names of the suns here given are different. They are: — Aroga, Bhrâja, Patara, Patanga, Svarara, Jyotihîmat, Vibhâsa and Kashyapa; the last of which is said to remain, constantly at the great mount Meru, permanently illumining that region. The other seven suns are said to derive their light from Kashyapa and to be alone visible to man. We are then told that these seven suns are considered by some Achâryas to be the seven manifestations of the Prâas, or the vital powers in man; while others are said to hold the opinion that they are the types of seven officiating priests (ritvija). A third explanation is then put forward, viz., that the distinction of seven suns is probably based on the different effects of sun’s rays in different months or seasons, and in support of it a Mantra, or Vedic verse, Dig-bhrâja itrûn karoti; (resorting to, or shining in, different regions) they (make the seasons), is quoted. I have not been able to find the Mantra in the existing Sahitâs, nor does Sâyaa give us any clue to it, butt simply observes “the different features of different seasons cannot be accounted for, except by supposing them to have been caused by different suns; therefore, different suns must exist in different regions.”( Sâyaa’s explanation quoted on the last page. ) But this explanation is open to the objection (actually raised by Vaishampâyana), that we shall have, on this theory, to assume the existence of thousands of suns as the characteristics of the seasons are so numerous. The Ârayaka admits, to a certain extent the force of this objection, but says — ahau to vyavasitâ, meaning that the number eight is settled by the text of the scripture, and there is no further arguing about it. The Shatapatha Brâhmaa, III, 1, 3, 3, explains the legend of Aditi somewhat on the same lines. It says that seven alone of Aditi’s sons are styled Devâ Âdityâ (the gods Âdityas) by men, and that the eighth Mârtâṇḍa was born undeveloped, whereupon the Âditya gods created man and other animals out of him. In two other passages of the Shatapath Brâhmaa, VI, 1, 2, 8, and XI, 6, 3, 8, the number of dityas Âis, however, given as twelve. In the first (VI, 1, 2, 8) they are said to have sprung from twelve drops generated by Prâjapati and then placed in different regions (dikhu); while in second (XI, 6, 3, 8)* (Shatapatha Brâhmaa, VI, 1, 2, 8.)these twelve Âdityas are identified with the twelve months of the year. The number of Âdityas is also given as twelve in the Upanishads: while in the post-Vedic literature they are everywhere said to be twelve, answering to the twelve months of the year. Muir, in his Original Sanskrit Texts Volumes IV and V, gives most of these passages, but offers no explanation as to the legend of Aditi, except such as is to be found in the passages quoted. There are many different speculations or theories of Western Scholars regarding the nature and character of Aditi, but as far as the number of Âdityas is concerned, I know of no satisfactory explanation as yet suggested by them. On the contrary the tendency is, as observed by Prof. Max Müller, to regard the number, seven or eight, as unconnected with any solar movements. A suggestion is made that eight Âdityas may be taken to, represent the eight cardinal points of the compass, but the death or casting away of the eighth Âditya seals the fate of this explanation, which thus seems to have been put forward only to be rejected like Mârtâṇḍa, the eighth Âditya..

 

            We have here referred to, or quoted, the texts and passages bearing on Aditi’s legend. or the number of Âdityas at some length, in order to show how we are apt to run into wild speculations about the meaning of a simple legend when the key to it is lost: That the twelve Âdityas are understood to represent the twelve month-gods in later Vedic literature is evident from the passage in the Shatapatha Brâhmaa (XI, 6, 3, 8 = Bih. Âr. Up. III, 9, 5) which says, “There are twelve months of the year; these are the Âdityas.” With this explanation before us, and the belief that different seasonal changes could be explained only by assuming the existence of different suns, it required no very great stretch of imagination to infer that if twelve Âdityas now represent the twelve months of the year, the seven Âdityas must have once (pûrvyam yugam) represented the seven months of the year. But this explanation, reasonable though it was, did not commend itself, or we might even say, occur to Vedic scholars, who believed that the home of the Aryans lay somewhere in Central Asia. It is, therefore, satisfactory to find that the idea of different suns producing different months is recognized so expressly in the Taittirîya Arayaka, which quotes a Vedic text, not now available, in support thereof and finally pronounces in favor of the theory, which regards the seven suns as presiding over seven different heavenly regions and thereby producing different seasons, in spite of the objection that it would lead to the assumption of thousands of suns — an objection, which the Arayaka disposes of summarily by observing that eight is a settled number and that we have no right to change it. That this explanation is the most probable of all is further evident from ig. IX, 114, 3, which says “There are seven sky-regions (sapta disha), with their different suns (nânâ sûryâ), there are seven Hotis as priests, those who are the seven gods, the Âdityas, — with them. O Soma! protect us.” Here nânâ sûryâ is an adjective which qualifies disha (sapta), and the correlation between seven regions and seven suns is thus expressly recognized. Therefore, the simplest explanation of Aditi’s legend is that she presented to the gods, that is, brought forth into heavens, her seven sons, the Âdityas, to form the seven months of sunshine in the place. She had an eighth son, but he was born in an undeveloped state, or, was, what we may call, stillborn; evidently meaning that the eighth month was not a month of sunshine, or that the period of darkness at the place commenced with the eighth month. All this occurred not in this age, but in the previous age and the words pûrvyam yugam in X, 72, 9, are very important from this point of view. The word yuga is evidently used to denote a period of time in the first and second verses of the hymn, which refer to the former age of the gods (devânâm pûrvye yuge) and also of later age (uttare yuge). Western scholars are accustomed to interpret yuga to mean “a generation of men” almost in every place where the phrase is met with; and we shall have to consider the correctness of this interpretation later on. For the purpose of this legend it is enough to state that the phrase pûrvyam yugam occurs twice in the hymn and that where it first occurs (in verse 2), it clearly denotes “an early age” or “some division of time.” Naturally enough we must, therefore, interpret it in the same way where it occurs again in the same hymn, viz. in the verse describing the legend of Aditi’s seven sons. The sun having seven rays, or seven horses, also implies the same idea differently expressed. The seven months of sunshine, with their different temperatures, are represented by seven suns producing these different results by being differently located, or as having different kinds of rays, or as having different chariots, or horses, or different wheels to the same chariot. It is one and the same idea in different forms, or as the ig-Veda puts it, “one horse with seven names” (I, 164, 2). A long dawn of thirty days indicates a period of sunshine for seven months, and we now see that the legend of Aditi is intelligible only if we interpret it as a relic of a time when there were seven flourishing month-gods, and the eighth was either still-born, or cast away. Mârtâṇḍa is etymologically derived from mârta meaning “dead or undeveloped,” (being connected with mita, the past participle of mi to die) and âṇḍa, an egg or a bird; and it denotes a dead sun, or a sun that has sunk below the horizon, for in ig. X, 55, 5, we find the word mamâra (died) used to denote the setting of the daily sun. The sun is also represented as a bird in many places in the ig-Veda (V, 47, 3; X, 55, 6; X, 177, 1; X, 189, 3). A cast away bird (Mârtâṇḍa) is, therefore, the sun that has set or sunk below the horizon, and whole legend is obviously a reminiscence of the place where the sun shone above the horizon for seven months and went below it in the beginning of the eighth. If this nature of the sun-god is once impressed on the memory, it cannot be easily forgotten by any people simply by their being obliged to change their residence; and thus the sevenfold character of the sun-god must have been handed down as an old tradition, though the Vedic people lived later on in places presided over by the twelve Âdityas. That is how ancient traditions are preserved everywhere, as, for instance, those relating to the older year in the Egyptian literature, previously referred to.

 

            We have seen above that the peculiar characteristic of the Arctic region is the varying number of the months of sunshine in that place. It is not, therefore, enough to say that traces of a period of seven months’ sunshine are alone found in the ig-Veda. If our theory is correct, we ought to find references to periods of eight, nine or ten months’ sunshine along with that of seven months either in the shape of traditions, or in some other form; and fortunately there are such references in the ig-Veda, only if we know where to look for them. We have seen that the sun’s chariot is said to be drawn by seven horses, and that this seven-fold character of the sun has reference to the seven suns conceived as seven different month-gods. There are many other legends based on this seven-fold division, but as they do not refer to the subject under discussion, we must reserve their consideration for another occasion. The only fact necessary to be mentioned in this place is that the number of the sun’s horses is said to be not only seven (I, 50, 8), but also ten in IX, 63, 9; and if the first be taken to represent seven months, the other must be understood to stand for ten months as well. We need not, however, depend upon such extension of the legend of seven Âdityas to prove that the existence of nine or ten months of sunshine was known to the poets of the ig-Veda. The evidence, which I am now going to cite, comes from another source, I mean, the sacrificial literature, which is quite independent of the legend of the seven Âdityas. The ig-Veda mentions a number of ancient sacrificers styled “our fathers” (II, 33, 13; VI, 22, 2), who instituted the sacrifice in ancient times and laid down, for the guidance of man, the path which he should, in future, follow. Thus the sacrifice offered by Manu, is taken as the type and other sacrifices are compared with it in I, 76, 5. But Manu was not alone to offer this ancient sacrifice to the gods. In X, 63, 7, he is said to have made the first offerings to the gods along with the seven Hotis; while Agiras and Yayâti are mentioned with him as ancient sacrificers in I, 31, 17, Bhigu and Agiras in VIII, 43, 13, Atharvan and Dadhyañch in I, 80, 16 and Dadhyañch, Agiras, Atri and Kava in I, 139, 9. Atharvan by his sacrifices is elsewhere described, as having first extended the paths, whereupon the sun was born (I, 83, 5), and the Atharvans, in the plural, are styled “our fathers” (na pitara) along with Agirases, Navagvas and Bhgus in X, 14, 6. In II, 34, 12, Dashagvas are said to have been the first to offer a sacrifice; while in X, 92, 10 Atharvan is spoken of, as having established order by sacrifices, when the Bhigus showed themselves as gods by their skill. Philologically the name of Atharvan appears as Athravan, meaning a fire-priest, in the Avesta, and the word Agiras is said to be etymologically connected with the Greek Aggilos, a “messenger” and the Persian Angara “a mounted courier.” In the Aitareya Brâhmaa (III, 34) Agirases are said to be the same as Angârâ, “burning coals or fire,” (Cf. ig. X. 62, 5). Whether we accept these etymologies as absolutely correct or not, the resemblance between the different words sufficiently warrants the assumption that Atharvan and Agiras must have been the ancient sacrificers of the whole Aryan race and not merely of the Vedic people. Therefore, even though Manu, Atharvan, Agiras be not the names of particular individuals, still there can be little doubt that they represented families of priests who conducted, if not originated the sacrifices in primeval times, that is, before the Aryan separation, and who, for this reason, seem to have attained almost divine character in the eyes of the poets of the ig-Veda. They have all been described as more or less connected with Yama in X, 14, 3-6; but it does not follow therefrom that they were all Yama’s agents or beings without any human origin. For, as stated above, there are a number of passages in which they are described as being the first and the most ancient sacrificers of the race; and if after their death they are said to have gone to Yama and become his friends and companions, that does not, in any way, detract from their human character. It is, therefore, very important in the history of the sacrificial literature to determine if any traditions are preserved in the ig-Veda regarding the duration of the sacrifices performed by these ancient ancestors of the Vedic people (na pûrve pitara, VI, 22, 2), in times before the separation of the Aryan people, and see if they lend any support to the theory of an early Circum-Polar home.

 

            Now so far as my researches go, I have not been able to find any Vedic evidence regarding the duration of the sacrifices performed by Manu, Atharvan, Bhigu, or any other ancient sacrificers, except he Agirases. There is an annual sattra described in the Shrauta Sûtras, which is called the Agirasâm-ayanam, and is said to be a modification of the Gavâm ayanam, the type of all yearly sattras. But we do not find therein any mention of the duration of the sattra of the Agirases. The duration of the Gavâm ayanam is, however, given in the Taittirîya Sahitâ, and will be discussed in the next chapter. For the present, we confine ourselves to sattra of the Agirases, and have to see if we can find out other means for determining its duration. Such a means is, fortunately, furnished by the ig-Veda itself. There are two chief species of the Agirases (Agiras-tama), called the Navagvas and the Dashagvas, mentioned in the ig-Veda (X, 62, 5 and 6). These two classes of ancient sacrificers are generally mentioned together, and the facts attributed to the Agirases are also attributed to them. Thus, the Navagvas are spoken of as “our ancient fathers,” in VI. 22, 2, and as “our fathers” along with Agirases and Bhigu in X, 14, 6. Like the Agirases, the Navagvas are also connected with the myth of Indra overthrowing Vala, and of Sarmâ and Pais (I, 62, 3 and 4; V, 29, 12; V, 45, 7; X, 108, 8). In one of these Indra if described as having taken their assistance when he rent the rock and Vala (I, 62, 4); and in V, 29, 12, the Navagvas are said to have praised Indra with songs and broken open the firmly closed stall of the cows. But there are only two verses in which the duration of their sacrificial session is mentioned. Thus V, 45, 7 says, “Here, urged by hands, hath loudly rung the press-stone, with which the Navagvas sang (sacrificed) for ten months”; and in the eleventh verse of the same hymn the poet says, “I place upon (offer to) the waters your light-winning prayers wherewith the Navagvas completed their ten months.”*  In II, 34, 12, we again read, “They, the Dashagvas brought out (offered) sacrifice first of all. May they favor us at the flashing forth of the dawn”: while in IV, 51, 4,† the Dawns are said “to have dawned richly on the Navagva Agira, and on the seven-mouthed Dashagva,” evidently showing that their sacrifice was connected with the break of the Dawn and lasted only for ten months.

 

 

What the Navagvas or the Dashagvas accomplished by means of their sacrifices is further described in V, 29, 12, which says, “The Navagvas and the Dashagvas, who, had offered libations of Soma, praised Indra with songs; laboring (at it) the men laid open the stall of kine though firmly closed;” while in III, 39, 5, we read “Where the friend (Indra), with the friendly energetic Navagvas, followed up the cows on his knees, there verily with ten Dashagvas did Indra find the sun dwelling in darkness (tamasi khiyantam).”*

 In X, 62, 2 and 3, the Agirases, of whom the Dashagvas and Navagvas were the principle species (Agiras-tama, X, 62, 6), are however, said to have themselves performed the feat of vanquishing Vala, rescuing the cows and bringing out the sun, at the end of the year (pari vatsare Valam abhindan); but it obviously means that they helped Indra in achieving it at the end of the year. Combining all these statements we can easily deduce (1) that the Navagvas and the Dashavgas completed their sacrifices in ten months, (2) that these sacrifices were connected with the early flush of the Dawn; (3) that the sacrificers helped Indra in the rescue of the cows from Vala at the end of the year; and (4) that at the place where Indra wept in search for the cows, he discovered the sun “dwelling in darkness.”

 

            Now we must examine a little more closely the meaning of these four important statements regarding the Navagvas and the Dashagvas. The first question that arises in this connection is — What is meant by their sacrifices being completed in ten months, and why did they not continue sacrificing for the whole year of twelve months? The expression for ‘ten months’ in the original is dasha mâsâ, and the wards are so plain that there can be no doubt about their import. We have seen that the Navagvas used to help Indra in releasing the cows from the grasp of Vala, and in X, 62, 2 and 3, the Agirases are said to have defeated Vala at the end of the year, and raised the sun to heaven. This exploit of Indra, the Agirases, the Navagvas and the Dashagvas, therefore, clearly refers to the yearly rescue of the sun, or the cows of the morning, from the dark prison into which they are thrown by Vala; and the expression “Indra found the sun, dwelling in darkness,” mentioned above further supports this view. In I, 117, 5, the Ashvins are said to have rescued Vandana, like some bright buried gold, “like one asleep in the lap of Nir-iti (death), like the sun dwelling in darkness (tamasi khiyantam).” This shows that the expression “dwelling in darkness,” as applied to the sun, means that the sun was hidden or concealed below the horizon so as not to be seen by man. We must, therefore, hold that Indra killed or defeated Vala at the end of the year, in a place of darkness, and that the Dashagvas helped Indra by their songs at the time. This might lead any one to suppose that the Soma libations offered by the Navagvas and the Dashagvas for ten months, were offered during the time when war with Vala was waging. But the Vedic idea is entirely different. For instance the morning prayers are recited before the rise of the sun, and so the sacrifices to help Indra against Vala had to be performed before the war. Darkness or a dark period, of ten months is again astronomically impossible anywhere on the globe, and as there cannot be ten months of darkness the only other alternative admissible is that the Dashagvas and the Navagvas carried on their ten months’ sacrifice during the period of sunshine. Now if this period of sunshine had extended to twelve months, there was no reason for the Dashagvas to curtail their sacrifices and complete them in ten months. Consequently the only inference we can draw from the story of the Navagvas and the Dashagvas is that they carried on their sacrifices during ten months of sunshine and after that period the sun went to dwell in darkness or sank below the horizon, and Indra, invigorated by the Soma libations of the Dashagvas, then entered into the cave of Vala, rent it open, released the cows of the morning and brought out the sun at the end of the old and the beginning of the new year, when the Dashagvas again commenced their sacrifices after the long dawn or dawns. In short, the Dashagvas and the Navagvas, and with them all the ancient sacrificers of the race, live in a region where the sun was above the horizon for ten months, and then went down producing a long yearly night of two months’ duration. These ten months, therefore, formed the annual sacrificial session, or the calendar year, of the oldest sacrificers of the Aryan race and we shall see in the next chapter that independently of the legend of the Dashagvas this view is fully supported by direct references to such a session in the Vedic sacrificial literature.

 

            The etymology of the words Navagva and Dashagva leads us to the same conclusion. The words are formed by prefixing nava and dasha to gva. So far there is no difference of opinion. But Yâska (XI, 19) takes nava in navagva to mean either “new” or “charming,” interpreting the word to mean “those who have charming or new career (gva, from gam to go).” This explanation of Yâska is, however, unsatisfactory, inasmuch as the Navagvas and the Dashagvas are usually mentioned together in the ig-Veda, and this close and frequent association of their names makes it necessary for us to find out such an etymological explanation of the words as would make Navagva bear the same relation to nava as Dashagva may have to dasha. But dasha or rather dashan, is a numeral signifying “ten” and cannot be taken in any other sense therefore, as observed by Prof. Lignana,* nava or rather navan must be taken to mean “nine.” (* See his Essay on “The Navagvas and the Dashagvas of the ig-Veda” in the Proceedings of the 7th International Congress of Orientalists, 1886, pp. 59-68. The essay is in Italian and I am indebted to the kindness of Mr. Shrinivâs Iyengar B.A., B.L., High Court Pleader, Madras, for a translation of the same. )

 

The meaning of gva (gu+a) is, however, yet to be ascertained. Some derive it from go, a cow, and others from gam, to go. In the first case the meaning would be “of nine cows” or “of ten cows”; while in the second case the words would signify “going in nine” or “going in ten,” and the fact that the Dashagvas, are said to be ten in III, 39, 5, lends support to the latter view. But the use of the words Navagva and Dashagva, sometimes even in the singular number as an adjective qualifying a singular noun, shows that a group or a company of nine or ten men, is not, at any rate, always intended. Thus in VI, 6, 3, the rays of Agni are said to be navagvas, while Adhrigu is said to be dashagva in VIII, 12, 2, and Dadhyañch navagva in IX, 108, 4. We must, therefore, assign to these epithets some other meaning, and the only other possible explanation of the numerals “nine” and “ten” is that given by Sâyaa, who says (Comm. on ig. I, 62, 4), “The Agirases are of two kinds, the Navagvas or those who rose after completing sattra in nine months, and the Dashagvas or those who rose after finishing the sattra in ten months.”We have seen that in the ig-Veda V, 45, 7 and 11, the Navagvas are said to have completed their sacrifices in ten months. Sâyaa’s explanation is therefore, fully warranted by these texts, and very probably it is based on some traditional information about the Dashagvas. Prof. Lignana of Rome,*( * See his Essay in the Proceedings of the 7th international Congress of the Orientalists, pp. 59-68.) suggests that the numerals navan and dashan in these names should be taken as referring to the period of gestation, as the words nava-mâhya and dasha-mâhya occur in the Vendidad, V, 45, (136), in the same sense. Thus interpreted Navagva would mean “born of nine months,” and Dashagva “born of ten months.” But this explanation is highly improbable, inasmuch as we cannot first suppose that a number of persons were born prematurely in early times, and secondly that it was specially such persons that attained almost divine honors. The usual period of gestation is 280 days or ten lunar months (V, 78, 9), and those that were born a month earlier cannot be ordinarily expected to live long or to perform feats which would secure them divine honors. The reference to the Vendidad proves nothing, for there the case of a still-born child after a gestation of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 months is under consideration, and Ahura Mazda enjoins that the house where such as a still-born child is brought forth should be cleaned and sanctified in a special way. Prof. Lignana’s explanation again conflicts with the Vedic texts which say that the Dashagvas were ten in number (III, 39, 5), or that the Navagvas sacrificed only for ten months (V, 47, 5) Sâyaa’s explanation is, therefore, the only one entitled to our acceptance. I may here mention that the ig-Veda (V, 47, 7 and 11) speaks of ten months’ sacrifice only in connection with the Navagvas, and does not mention any sacrifice of nine months. But the etymology of the names now helps us in assigning the ten months’ sacrifice to the Dashagvas and the nine month’s to the Navagvas. For navan in Navagva is only a numerical variation for dashan in Dashagva, and it follows, therefore, that what the Dashagvas did by tens, the Navagvas did by nines.

 

            There is another circumstance connected with the Agirases which further strengthens our conclusion, and which must, therefore, be stated in this place. The Agirases are sometimes styled the Virûpas. Thus in III, 53, 7, the Agirases are described as “Virûpas, and sons of heaven”; and the name Virûpa once occurs by itself as that of a single being who sings the praises of Agni, in a stanza (VIII, 75, 6) immediately following one in which Agiras is invoked, showing that Virûpa is here used as a synonym for Agiras. But the most explicit of these references is X, 62, 5 and 6. The first of these verses states that the Agirases are Virûpas, and they are the sons of Agni; while the second describes them along with the Navagva and the Dashagva in the following terms, “And which Virûpas were born from Agni and from the sky; the Navagva or the Dashagva, as the best of the Agirases (Agiras-tama), prospers in the assemblage of the gods.”*

 

 

Now Virûpas literally means “of various forms” and in the above verses it seems to have been used as an adjective qualifying Agirases to denote that there are many species of them. We are further told that the Navagvas and the Dashagvas were the most important (Agiras-tama) of these species. In the last chapter I have discussed the meaning of the adjective Virûpa as applied to a couple of Day and Night and have shown, on the authority of Mâdhava, that the word, as applied to days and Nights, denotes their duration, or the period of time over which they extend. Virûpas in the present instance appears to be used precisely in the same sense. The Navagvas and the Dashagvas were no doubt the most important of the early sacrificers, but these too were not their only species. In other words they were not merely “nine-going,” and “ten-going,” but “various-going” (virûpas), meaning that the duration of their sacrifices was sometimes shorter than nine and sometimes longer than ten months. In fact a Sapta-gu (seven-going) is mentioned in X, 47, 6, along with Bihaspati, the son of Agiras, and it seems to be used there as an adjective qualifying Bihaspati; for Bihaspati is described in another place (IV, 50, 4) as saptâsya (seven-mouthed), while the Atharva-Veda IV, 6, 1, describes the first Brâhmaa, Bihaspati, as dashâsya or ten-mouthed. We have also seen that in IV, 51, 4, the Dashagva is also called “seven-mouthed.” All these expressions can be satisfactorily explained only by supposing that the Agirases were not merely “nine-going” or “ten-going,” but virûpas or “various going,” and that they completed their sacrifices within the number of months for which the sun was above the horizon at the place where these sacrifices were performed. It follows, therefore, that in, ancient times the sacrificial session lasted from seven to ten months; and the number of sacrificers (Hotis) corresponded with the number of the months, each doing his duty by rotation somewhat after the manner of the Egyptian priests previously referred to. These sacrifices were over when the long night commenced, during which Indra fought with Vala and vanquished him by the end of the year (parivatsare, X, 62, 2). The word parivatsare (at the end of the year) is very suggestive and shows that the year closed with the long night.

 

            Another reference to a period of ten months’ sunshine is found in the legend of Dîrghatamas whom the Ashvins are said to have saved or rescued from a pit, into which he was thrown, after being made blind and infirm. I have devoted a separate chapter later on to the discussion of Vedic legends. But I take up here the legend of Dîrghatamas because we have therein an express statement as to the life of Dîrghatamas, which remarkably corroborates the conclusion we have arrived at from the consideration of the story of the Dashagvas. The story of Dîrghatamas is narrated in the Mahâbhârata, Âdiparvan, Chap. 104. He is said to be the son of Mamatâ by Utathya, and born blind through the curse of Bihaspati his uncle. He was, however, married and had several sons by Pradvehî. The wife and the sons eventually became tired of feeding the blind Dîrghatamas (so called because he was born blind), and the sons abandoned him afloat on a worn-out raft in the Ganges. He drifted on the waters for a long time and distance, when at last the king Bali picked him up. Dîrghatamas then had several sons born to him from a dâsi or a female slave, and also from the wife of Bali, the sons of Bali’s wife becoming kings of different provinces. In the ig-Veda Dîrghatamas is one of the protégés of the Ashvins, and about 25 hymns in the first Maṇḍala are ascribed to him. He is called Mâmateya, or the son of Mamatâ in I, 152, 6, and Uchathya’s offspring in I, 158, 4. In the latter hymn he invokes the Ashvins for the purpose of rescuing him from the ordeals of fire and water to which he was subjected by the Dâsa Traitana. In I, 147, 3 and IV, 4, 13, Agni is, however, said to have restored to Dîrghatamas his eyesight. But the statement need not surprise us as the achievements of one deity are very often ascribed to another in the ig-Veda. Dîrghatamas does not stand alone in being thus rescued by the Ashvins. Chyavâna is spoken of as another protégé of the Ashvins, and they are said to have restored him to youth. Vandana and a host of others are similarly mentioned as being saved, rescued, cured, protected or rejuvenated by the Ashvins. All these achievements are new understood as referring to the exploit of restoring to the sun his decayed power in the winter. But with the expression “like the sun dwelling in darkness” before us, in the legend of Vandana (I, 117, 5), we must make these legends refer not merely to the decayed power of the sun in winter, but to his actual sinking below the horizon for some time. Bearing this in mind, let us try to see what inference we can deduce, so far as the subject in hand is concerned, from the legend of Dîrghatamas.

 

            The statement in the myth or legend, which is most important for our purpose, is contained in I, 158, 6. The verse may be literally translated as follows: — “Dîrghatamas, the son of Mamatâ, having grown decrepit in the tenth yuga, becomes a Brahman charioteer of the waters wending to their goal.”*

The only expressions which require elucidation in this verse are “in the tenth yuga,” and “waters wending to their goal.” Otherwise the story is plain enough. Dîrghatamas grows old in the tenth yuga, and riding on waters, as the Mahâbhârat story has it, goes along with them to the place which is the goal of these waters. But scholars are not agreed as to what yuga means. Some take it to mean a cycle of years, presumably five as in the Vedânga-Jyotiha, and invest Dîrghatamas with infirmity at the age of fifty. The Petersburg Lexicon would interpret yuga, wherever it occurs in the ig-Veda, to mean not, “a period of time,” but “a generation,” or “the relation of descent from a common stock”; and it is followed by Grassmann in this respect. According to these scholars the phrase “in the tenth yuga” in the above verse would, therefore, signify “in the tenth generation” whatever that may mean. Indeed, there seems to be a kind of prejudice against interpreting yuga as meaning “a period of time” in the ig-Veda, and it is therefore, necessary to examine the point at some length in this place. That the word yuga by itself means “a period of time” or that, at any rate, it is one of its meanings goes without saying. Even the Petersburg Lexicon assigns this meaning to yuga in the Atharva Veda VIII, 2, 21; but so far as the ig-Veda is concerned yuga according to it, must mean “descent,” or “generation,” or something like it, but never “a period of time.” This is especially the case, with the phrase Mânuhâ yugâ, or Mânuhyâ yugâni, which occurs several times in the ig-Veda. Western scholars would everywhere translate it to mean “generations of men,” while native scholars, like Sâyaa and Mahîdhara; take it to refer to “mortal ages” in a majority of places. In some cases (I, 124, 2; I, 144, 4) Sâyaa, however, suggests as an alternative, that the phrase may be understood to mean “conjunction” or “couples (yuga) of men”; and this has probably given rise to the interpretation put upon the phrase by Western scholars. Etymologically the word yuga may mean “conjunction” or “a couple” denoting either (1) “a couple of day and night,” or (2) “a couple of months” i.e. “a season,” or (3) “a couple of fortnights” or “the time of the conjunction of the moon and the sun,” i.e. “a month.” Thus at the beginning of the Kali-Yuga the planets and the sun were, it is supposed, in conjunction and hence it is said to be called a yuga. It is also possible that the word may mean “a conjunction, or a couple, or even a generation of men.” Etymology, therefore, does not help us in determining which of these meanings should be assigned to the word yuga or the phrase, Mânuhâ yugâ in the ig-Veda, and we must find out some other means for determining it. The prejudice we have referred to above, appears to be mainly due to the disinclination of the Western scholars to import the later Yuga theory into the ig-Veda. But it seems to me that the caution has been carried too far, so far as almost to amount to a sort of prejudice.

 

            Turning to the hymns of the ig-Veda, we find as remarked by Muir, the phrase yuge yuge used at least in half a dozen places (III, 26, 3; VI, 15, 8; X, 94, 12, &c.), and it is interpreted by Sâyaa to mean a period of time. In III, 33, 8, and X, 10, we have uttara yugâni “later age,” and in X, 72, 1, we read uttare yuge “in a later age”; whilst in the next two verses we have the phrases Devânâm pûrve yuge and Devânâm prathame yuge clearly referring to the later and earlier ages of the gods. The word Devânâm is in the plural and yuga is in the singular, and it is not therefore possible to take the phrase to mean “generations of gods.” The context again clearly shows that a reference to time is intended, for the hymn speaks of the creation and the birth of the gods in early primeval times. Now if we interpret Devânâm yugam to mean “an age of gods,” why should mânuhyâ yugâni or mânuhâ yugâ be not interpreted to mean “human ages,” is more than I can understand. There are again express passages in the ig-Veda where mânuhâ yugâ cannot be taken to mean “generations of men.” Thus in V, 52, 4, which is a hymn to Maruts, we read Vishve ye mânuhâ yugâ pânti martyam riha. Here the verb pânti (protect), the nominative vishve ye (all those), and the object is martyam (the mortal man), while riha (from injury), in the ablative, denotes the object against which the protection is sought. So far the sentence, therefore, means “All those who protect man from injury”; and now the question is, what does mânuhâ yugâ mean? If we take it to mean “generations of men” in the objective case it becomes superfluous, for martyam (man) is already the object of pânti (protect). It is, therefore, necessary to assign to mânuhâ yugâ the only other meaning we know of, viz., “human ages” and take the phrase as an accusative of time. Thus the interpreted the whole sentence means “All those, who protect man from injury during human ages.” No other construction is more natural or reasonable than this; but still Prof. Max Müller translates the verse to mean “All those who protect the generations of men, who protect the mortal from injury,”* (See S. B. E. Series, Vol. XXXII, p. 312.)in spite of the fact that this is tautological and that there is no conjunctive particle in the texts (like cha) to join what according to him are the two objects of the verb “protect.” Mr. Griffith seems to have perceived this difficulty, and has translated, “Who all, through ages of mankind, guard mortal man from injury.” Another passage which is equally decisive on this point, is X, 140, 6. The verse* is addressed to Agni, and people are said to have put him in front to secure his blessings. It is as follows: —

 

                        itâvânam mahiha vishva-darshatam

                        agni sumnâya dadhire puro janâ |

                        Shrut-kara saprathas-taman

                        tvâ girâ daivyam mânuhâ yugâ ||

 

            Here itâvânam (righteous), mahiha (strong), vishva-darshatam (visible to all), agni (Agni, fire), shrut-kara (attentive eared), saprathas-taman (most widely-reaching), tvâ (thee) and daivyam (divine) are all in the accusative case governed by dadhire (placed), and describe the qualities of Agni. Janâ (people) is the nominative and dadhire (placed) is the only verb in the text. Sumnâya (for the welfare) denotes the purpose for which the people placed Agni in front (puro) and girâ (by praises) is the means by which the favor of Agni, is to be secured. If we, therefore, leave out the various adjectives of Agni, the verse means, “The people have placed Agni (as described) in front for their welfare, with praises.” The only expression that remains is mânuhâ yugâ, and it can go in with the other words in a natural way only as an accusative of time. The verse would then mean “The people have placed Agni (as described), in front for their welfare, with praises, during human ages.” But Griffith takes yuga to mean “generations,” and supplying a verb of his own; translates the last part of the verse thus: “Men’s generations magnify (Agni) with praise-songs (girâ).” This shows what straits, we are reduced to if we once make up our mind not to interpret mânuhâ yugâ to mean “a period of time,” for the word “magnify” does not exist in the original. This verse also occurs in the Vâjasaneyî Sahitâ (XII, 111), and Mahîdhara there explains mânuhâ yugâ to mean “human ages,” or “periods of time” such as fortnights. We have, therefore, at least two passages, where mânuhâ yugâ, must, according to the recognized rules of interpretation, be taken to mean “periods of time,” and not “generations of men,” unless we are prepared to give up the natural construction of the sentence. There are no more passages in the ig-Veda where mânuhâ yugâ, occurs in juxtaposition with words like janâ or martyam, so as to leave no option as regards the meaning to be assigned to yuga. But if the meaning of a phrase is once definitely determined even from a single passage, we can safely understand the phrase in the same sense in other passages, provided the meaning does not conflict there with the context. That is how the meaning of many a Vedic word has been determined by scholars like Yâska, and we are not venturing on a new path in adopting the same process of reasoning in the present case.

 

            But if mânuhâ yugâ means “human ages” and not “human generations,” we have still to determine the exact duration of these ages. In the Atharva-Veda, VIII, 2, 21, which says, “We allot to thee, a hundred, ten thousand years, two, three or four yugas,” the word yuga obviously stands for a period of time, not shorter than ten thousand years. But there are grounds to hold that in the early days of the ig-Veda yuga must have denoted a shorter period of time, or, at least, that was one of its meanings in early days. The ig-Veda often speaks of “the first” (prathamâ) dawn, or “the first of the coming” (âyatînâm prathamâ) dawns (ig. I, 113, 8; 123, 2; VII, 76, 6; X, 35, 4); while “the last” (avamâ) dawn is mentioned in VII, 71, 3, and the dawn is said to have the knowledge of the first day in I, 123, 9. Now, independently of what I have said before about the Vedic dawns, the ordinal numeral “first” as applied to the dawn is intelligible only if we suppose it to refer to the first dawn of the year, or the dawn on the first day of the year, somewhat like the phrase “first night” (prathamâ râtri) used in the Brâhmaas (see Orion p. 69). The “first” (prathamâ) and the “last” (avamâ) dawn must, therefore, be taken to signify the beginning and the end of the year in those days; and in the light of what has been said about the nature of the Vedic dawns in the fifth chapter, we may safely conclude that the “first” of the dawns was no other than the first of a set or group of dawns that appeared at the close of the long night and commenced the year. Now this “first dawn” is described as “wearing out human ages” (praminatî manuhyâ yugâni) in I, 124, 2, and I, 92, 11; while in I, 115, 2, we are told that “the pious or godly men extend the yugas,” on the appearance of the dawn (yatrâ naro devayanto yugâni vitanvate). European scholars interpret yuga in the above passages to mean “generations of men.” But apart from the fact that the phrase mânuha yugâ must be understood to mean “human ages” in at least two passages discussed above, the context in I, 124, 2 and I, 92, 11 is obviously in favor of interpreting the word yuga, occurring therein, as equivalent to a period of time. The dawn is here described as commencing a new course of heavenly ordinances, or holy sacrifices (daivyani vratâni), and setting in motion the manuhyâ yugâni, obviously implying that with the first dawn came the sacrifices, as well as the cycle of time known as “human ages” or that “the human ages” were reckoned from the first dawn. This association, of mânuha yugâ, or “human ages,” with the “first dawn” at once enables us to definitely determine the length or duration of “human ages”; for if these ages (yugas) commenced with the first dawn of the year, they must have ended on the last (avamâ) dawn of the year. In other words mânuha yugâ collectively denoted the whole period of time between the first and the last dawn of the year, while a single yuga denoted a shorter division of this period.

 

            Apart from the legend of Dîrghatamas, we have, therefore, sufficient evidence in the ig-Veda to hold that the world, yuga was used to denote a period of time, shorter than one year, and that the phrase mânuha yugâ meant “human ages” or “the period of time between the first and the last dawn of year” and not “human generations.” The statement that “Dîrghatamas grew old in the tenth yuga” is now not only easy to understand, but it enables us to determine, still more definitely, the meaning of yuga in the days of the ig-Veda. For, if yuga was a part of mânuha yugâ, that is, of the period between the first and the last dawn of the year, and the legend of Dîrghatamas a solar legend, the statement that “Dîrghatamas grew old in the tenth yuga” can only mean that “the sun grew old in the tenth month.” In other words, ten yugas were supposed to intervene between the first and the last dawn, or the two termini, of the year; and as ten days or ten fortnights would be too short, and ten seasons too long a period of time to lie between these limits, the word yuga in the phrase dashame yuge, must be interpreted to mean “a month” and nothing else. In short, Dîrghatamas was the sun that grew old in the tenth month, and riding on the aerial waters was borne by them to their goal, that is, to the ocean (VII, 49, 2) below the horizon. The waters here referred to are, in fact, the same over which the king Varua is said to rule, or which flow by his commands, or for which he is said to have dug out a channel (VII, 49, 1-4; II, 28 4; VII, 87, 1) and so cut out a path for Sûrya, and which being released by Indra from the grass of Vitra, bring on the sun (I, 51, 4). Prof. Max Müller, in his Contributions to the Science of Mythology (Vol. II, pp. 583-598), has .shown that most of the achievements of the Ashvins can be rationally explained by taking them as referring to the decaying sun. The legend of Dîrghatamas is thus only a mythical representation of the Arctic sun, who ascends above the “bright ocean” (VII, 60, 4,), becomes visible for mânuha yugâ or ten months, and then drops again into the nether waters. What these waters are and how their nature has been long misunderstood will be further explained in a subsequent chapter, when we come to the discussion of Vedic myths. Suffice it to say for the present that the legend of Dîrghatamas, interpreted as above, is in full accord with the legend of the Dashagvas who are described as holding their sacrificial session only for ten months.

 

            I have discussed here the meaning of yugâ and mânuha yugâ at some length, because the phrases have been much misunderstood, in spite of clear passages showing that “a period of time” was intended to be denoted by them. These passages (V, 52, 4; X, 140, 6) establish the fact that mânuha yugâ denoted “human ages,” and the association of these ages with the “first dawn” (I, 124, 2; I, 115, 2) further shows that the length of a yuga was regarded to be shorter than a year. The mention of the tenth yuga finally settles the meaning of yuga as “one month.” That is how I have arrived at the meaning of these phrases, and I am glad to find that I have been anticipated in my conclusions by Prof. Ragâchârya of Madras, on different grounds. In his essay on the yugas,*( The Yugas, or a Question of Hindu Chronology and History, p. 19) he discusses the root meaning of yuga, and, taking it to denote “a conjunction,” observes as follows, “The phases of the moon being so readily observable, it is probable that, as suggested by Professor Weber, the idea of a period of time known as a yuga and depending upon a conjunction of certain heavenly bodies, was originally derived from a. knowledge of these phases. The Professor (Weber) further strengthens his supposition by referring to a passage cited in the Shavisha Brâhmaa (IV, 6) wherein the four yugas are still designated by their more ancient names and are con necked with the four lunar phases to which they evidently owe their origin.” Mr. Ragâchârya then refers to darsha, the ancient name for the conjunction of the sun and moon, and concludes, “There is also old mythological or other evidence which leads us to conclude that our forefathers observed many other kinds of interesting celestial conjunctions; and in all probability the earliest conception of a yuga meat the period from, new moon to new moon,” that is, one lunar month. The passage stating that it was the first dawn that set the cycle of mânuha yugâ in motion is already quoted above; and if ‘we compare this statement with ig. X, 138, 6, where Indra after killing Vitra and producing the dawn and the sun, is said “to have set the ordering of the months in the sky,” it will be further evident that the cycle of the time which began with the first dawn was a cycle of months. We may, therefore, safely conclude that mânuha yugâ represented, in early days, a cycle of months during which the sun was above the horizon, or rather that period of sunshine and action when the ancestors of the Aryan race held their sacrificial sessions or performed other religious and social ceremonies.

 

            There are many other passages in the ig-Veda which support the same view. But mânuha yugâ being everywhere interpreted by Western scholars to mean “human generations or tribes,” the real meaning of these passages has become obscure and unintelligible. Thus in VIII, 46, 12, we have. “All (sacrificers), with ladles lifted, invoke that mighty Indra for mânuha yugâ; and the meaning evidently is that Soma libations were offered to Indra during the period of human ages. But taking mânuha yugâ; to denote “human tribes,” Griffith translates “All races of mankind invoke &c.” a rendering, which, though intelligible, does not convey the spirit of the original. Similarly, Agni is said to shine during “human ages” in VII, 9, 4. But there too the meaning “human tribes” is unnecessarily foisted upon the phrase. The most striking illustration of the impropriety of interpreting yuga to mean “a generation” is, however, furnished by ig. II, 2, 2. Here Agni is said to shine for mânuha yugâ and khapa. Now khapa means “nights” and the most natural interpretation would be to take mânuha yugâ and khapa as allied expressions denoting a period of time. The verse will then mean: — “O Agni! thou shinest during human ages and nights.” It is necessary to mention “nights” because though mânuha yugâ is a period of sunshine, including a long day and a succession of ordinary days and nights, yet the long or the continuous night which followed mânuha yugâ could not have been included in the latter phrase. Therefore, when the whole period of the solar year was intended, a compound expression like “mânuha yugâ and the continuous nights” was necessary and that is the meaning of the phrase in II, 2, 2. But Prof. Oldenberg,* (S. B. E. Series Vol. XLVI, pp. 193, 195. )following Max Müller, translates as follows “O Agni! thou shinest on human tribes, on continuous nights.” Here, in the first place, it is difficult to understand what “shining on human tribes” means and secondly if khapa means “continuous nights,” it could mean nothing except “the long continuous night,” and if so, why not take mânuha yugâ to represent the period of the solar year, which remains after the long night is excluded from it? As observed by me before, Prof. Max Müller has correctly translated khapa by “continuous nights,” but has missed the true meaning of the expression mânuha yugâ in this place. A similar mistake has been committed with respect to IV, 16, 19, where the expression is khapa madema sharadas cha pûrvîh. Here, in spite of the accent, Max Müller takes khapa as accusative and so does Sâyaa. But Sâyaa correctly interprets the expression as “May we rejoice for many autumns (seasons) and nights.” “Seasons and nights” is a compound phrase, and the particle cha becomes unmeaning if we split it up and take nights (khapa) with one verb, and seasons (sharada) with another. Of course so long as the Arctic theory was unknown the phrase “seasons and nights” or “mânuha yugâ and nights” was unintelligible inasmuch as nights were included in the seasons or the yugas. But Prof. Max Müller has himself suggested the solution of the difficulty by interpreting khapa as “continuous nights” in II, 2, 2; and adopting this rendering, we can, with greater propriety, take seasons and nights together, as indicated by the particle cha and understand the expression to mean a complete solar year including the long night. The addition of khapa to mânuha yugâ, therefore, further supports the conclusion that the phrase indicated a period of sunshine as stated above. There are many other passages in translating which unnecessary confusion or obscurity has been caused by taking mânuha yugâ to mean human tribes; but a discussion of these is not relevant to the subject in hand.

 

            An independent corroboration of the conclusion we have drawn from the legends of the Dashagvas and Dîrghatamas is furnished by the number of seasons mentioned in certain Vedic texts. A period of sunshine of ten months followed by along night of two months can well be described as five seasons of two months each, followed by the sinking of the sun into the waters below the horizon; and as a matter of fact we find the year so described in I, 164, 12, a verse which occurs also in the Atharva Veda (IX, 9, 12) with a slight variation and in the Prashnopanihad I, 11. It may be literally translated as follows: — “The five-footed (pañcha-pâdam) Father of twelve forms, they say, is full of watery vapors (purîhiam) in the farther half (pare ardhe) of the heaven. These others again say (that) He the far-seeing (vichakhaam) is placed on the six-spoked (ha-are) and seven-wheeled (car), in the nearer (upare scil. ardhe) half of the heaven.”*

 

The adjective “far-seeing” is made to qualify “seven-wheeled” instead of “He” in the Atharva Veda, (vichakhae) being in the locative case while Shakarâchârya in his commentary on the Prashnopanihad splits upare into two words u and pare taking u as an expletive. But these readings do not materially alter the meaning of the verse. The context everywhere clearly indicates that the year-god of twelve months (âkiti X, 85, 5) is here described. The previous verse in the hymn (ig. I, 164) mentions

 

“The twelve-spoked wheel, in which 720 sons of Agni are established,” a clear reference to a year of twelve months with Tao days and nights. There is, therefore, no doubt that the passage contains the description of the year and the two halves of the verse, which are introduced by the phrases “they say’” and “others say,” give us two opinions about the nature of the year-god of twelve forms. Let us now see what these opinions are. Some say that the year-god is five-footed (pañcha-pâdam), that is divided into five seasons; and the others say that he has a six-spoked car, or six seasons. It is clear from this that the number of seasons was held to be five by some and six by others in early days. Why should there be this difference of opinion? The Aitareya Brâhmaa I, 1, (and the Taittirîya Sahitâ I, 6, 2, 3) explains that the two seasons of Hemanta and Shishir together made a joint season, thereby reducing the number of seasons from six to five. But this explanation seems to be an afterthought, for in the Shatapatha Brâhmaa, XIII, 6, 1, 10, Var and Sharad are compounded for this purpose instead of Hemanta and Shishir. This shows that in the days of the Taittirîya Sahitâ and the Brâhmaas it was not definitely known or settled which two seasons out of six should be compounded to reduce the number to five; but as five seasons were sometimes mentioned in the Vedas, some explanation was felt to be necessary to account for the smaller number and such explanation was devised by taking together any two consecutive seasons out of six and regarding them as one joint season of four months. But the explanation is too vague to be true; and we cannot believe that the system of compounding airy two seasons according to one’s choice was ever followed in practice. We must, therefore, give up the explanation as unsatisfactory and see if the verse from the ig-Veda, quoted above, enables us to find out a better explanation of the fact that the seasons were once held to be five. Now the first half of this verse describes the five-footed father as full of watery vapors in the farther part of heaven, while the year of six-spoked car is said to be far-seeing. In short, purîhiam (full of, or dwelling in waters) in the first line appears to be a counterpart of vichakhaam (far-seeing) in the second line. This is made clear by the verses which follow. Thus the 13th verse in the hymn speaks of “the five-spoked wheel” as remaining entire and unbroken though ancient; and the next or the 14th verse says that “the unwasting wheel with its felly revolves; the ten draw (it) yoked over the expanse. The sun’s eye goes covered with rajas (aerial vapor); all worlds are dependent on him.”*

 

 

 

 

Comparing this with the 11th verse first quoted, it may be easily seen that purîhiam (full of watery vapors) and rajasâ âvitam (covered with rajas) are almost synonymous phrases and the only inference we can draw from them is that the five-footed year-god or the sun event to dwell in watery vapors i.e., became invisible, or covered with darkness and (rajas), for some time in the farther part of the heaven. The expression that “The ten, yoked, draw his carriage,” (also cf. ig. IX, 63, 9) further shows that the five seasons were not made by combining any two consecutive seasons out of six as explained in the Brâhmaas (for in that case the number of horses could not be called ten), but that a real year of five seasons or ten months was here intended. When the number of seasons became increased to six, the year-god ceased to be purîhin (full of waters) and became vichakhaam or far-seeing. We have seen that the sun, as represented by Dîrghatamas, grew old in the tenth month and riding on aerial waters went into the ocean. The same .idea is expressed in the present verse which describes two different views about the nature of the year, one of five and the other of six seasons and contrasts their leading features with each other. Thus pare ardhe is contrasted with upare ardhe in the second line, pañcha-pâdam (compare pacñhâre in the next verse, i.e. Ṛig-Veda I. 164, 13) with ṣhaḍ-are, and purîṣhinam with vichakhaam. In short, the verse under consideration describes the year either (1) as five-footed, and lying in waters in the farther part of heaven, or (2) as mounted on a six-spoked car and far-seeing in the nearer part of the heaven. These two descriptions cannot evidently apply to seasons in one and the same place, and the artifice of combining two consecutive seasons cannot be accepted as a solution of the question. Five seasons and ten months followed by the watery residence of the sun or dark nights, is what is precisely described in the first half of this passage (I, 164, 12), and, from what has been said hitherto, it will be easily seen that it is the Arctic year of ten months that is here described. The verse, and especially the contrast between purîhinam and vichakhaam, does not appear to have attracted the attention it deserves. Bu in the light of the Arctic theory the description is now as intelligible as any. The Vedic bards have here preserved for us the memory of a year of five seasons or ten months, although their year had long been changed into one of twelve months. The explanation given in the Brâhmaas are all so many post-facto devices to account for the mention of five seasons in the ig-Veda, and I do not think we are bound to accept them when the fact of five seasons can be better accounted for. I have remarked before that in searching for evidence of ancient traditions we must expect to find later traditions associated with them, and ig. I, 164, 12, discussed above, is a good illustration of this remark. The first line of the verse, though it speaks of five seasons, describes the year as twelve-formed; while the second line, which deals with a year of six seasons or twelve months, speaks of it as “seven-wheeled,” that is made up of seven months or seven suns, or seven rays of the sun. This may appear rather inconsistent at the first sight; but the history of words in any language will show that old expressions are preserved in the language long after they have ceased to denote the ideas primarily expressed by them. Thus we now use coins for exchange, yet the word “pecuniary” which is derived from pecus = cattle, is still retained in the language; and similarly, we still speak of the rising of the sun, though we now know that it is not the luminary that rises, but the earth, by rotating round its axis, makes the sun visible to us. Very much in the same way and by the same process, expressions like saptâshva (seven horsed) or sapta-chakra (seven-wheeled), as applied to the year or the sun, must have become recognized and established as current phrases in the language before the hymns assumed their present form, and the Vedic bards could not have discarded them even when they knew that they were not applicable to the state of things before them. On the contrary, as we find in the Brâhmaas every artifice, that ingenuity could suggest, was tried to make these old phrases harmonize with the state of things then in, vogue, and from the religious or the sacrificial point of view it was quite necessary to do so. But when we have to examine the question from a historical stand-point, it is our duty to separate the relics of the older period from facts or incidents of the later period with which the former are sometimes inevitably mixed up; and if we analyze the verse in question (I, 164, 12) in this way we shall clearly see in it the traces of a year of ten months and five seasons. The same principle is also applicable in other cases, as, for instance, when we find the Navagvas mentioned together with the seven vîpras in VI, 22, 2. The bards, who gave us the present version of the hymns, knew of the older or primeval state of things only by traditions, and it is no wonder if these traditions are occasionally mixed up with later events. On the contrary the preservation of so many traditions of the primeval home is itself a wonder, and it is this fact, which invests the oldest Veda with such peculiar importance from the religious as well as the historical point of view.

 

            To sum up there are clear traditions preserved in the ig-Veda, which show that the year once consisted of seven months or seven suns, as in the legend of Aditi’s sons, or that there were ten months of the year as in the legend of the Dashagvas or Dîrghatamas; and these cannot be accounted for except on the Arctic theory. These ten months formed the sacrificial session of the primeval sacrificers of the Aryan race and the period was denominated as mânuha yugâ or human ages, an expression much misunderstood by Western scholars. The sun went below the horizon in the tenth of these yugas and Indra fought with Vala in the period of darkness which followed and at the end of the year, again brought back the sun “dwelling in darkness” during the period. The whole year of twelve months was thus made up of mânuha yugâ and continuous nights, and, in spite of the fact that the Vedic bards lived later on in places where the sun was above the horizon for twelve months, the expression “mânuha yugâ and khapa (nights)” is still found in the ig-Veda. It is true that the evidence discussed in this chapter is mostly legendary; but that does not lessen its importance in any way, for it will be seen later on that some of these traditions are Indo-European in character. The tradition that the year was regarded by some to have been made up only of five seasons, or that only ten horses were yoked to the chariot of the sun, is again in full accord with the meaning of these legends; and it will be shown in the next chapter that in the Vedic literature there are express statements about a sacrificial session of ten months, which are quite independent of these traditions, and which, therefore, independently prove and strengthen the conclusions deduced from the legends discussed in this chapter.

 


 

 

 

CHAPTER VIII

THE COWS’ WALK

 

The Pravargya ceremony — Symbolizes the revival of the yearly sacrifice — Milk representing seed heated in Gharma or Mahâvîra — Mantras used on the occasion of pouring milk into it — The two creating the five, and the ten of Vivasvat — Indicate the death of the year after five seasons or ten months — The tradition about the sun falling beyond the sky — Annual Sattras — Their type, the Gavâm-ayanam or the Cows’ walk — Lasted for 10 or 12 months according to the Aitareya Brâhmaa — Two passages from the Taittirîya Sahitâ describing the Gavâm-ayanam — Mention to months’ duration of the Sattra, but give no reason except that it was an ancient practice — Plainly indicates an ancient sacrificial year of ten months-Comparison with the old Roman year of ten months or 304 days — How the rest of 360 days were disposed of by the Romans not yet known — They represented a long period of darkness according to the legend of the Dashagvas — Thus leading to the Arctic theory — Prof. Max Müller on the threefold nature of cows in the Vedas — Cows as animals, rain and dawns or days in the ig-Veda — Ten months’ Cows’ walk thus means the ten months’ duration of ordinary days and nights — 350 oxen of Helios — Implies a night of ten days — The stealing of Apollon’s oxen by Hermes — Cows stolen by Vitra in the Vedas — Represent the stealing of day-cows thereby causing the long night — Further sacrificial evidence from the Vedas — Classification of the Soma-sacrifices — Difference between Ekâha and Ahîna — A hundred nightly sacrifices — Annual Sattras like the Gavâm-ayanam — Model outline or scheme of ceremonies therein — Other modifications of the same — All at present based upon a civil year — But lasted for ten months in ancient times — Night-sacrifices now included amongst day-sacrifices — The reason why the former extend only over 100 nights is yet unexplained — Appropriately accounted for on the Arctic theory — Soma juice extracted at night in the Atirâtra, or the trans nocturnal sacrifice even now — The analogy applied to other night-sacrifices — Râtrî Sattras were the sacrifices of the long night in ancient times — Their object — Soma libations exclusively offered to Indra to help him in his fight against Vala — Shata-râtra represented the maximum duration of the long night — Corroborated by Aditi’s legend of seven months’ sunshine — Explains why India was called Shata-kratu in the Purâas — The epithet misunderstood by Western scholars — Similarity between Soma and Ashvamedha sacrifices — The epithet Shata-kratu unlike other epithets, never paraphrased in the Vedas — Implies that it was peculiar or proper to Indra — Dr. Haug’s view that kratu means a sacrifice in the Vedas — Hundred forts or pura (cities) of Vitra — Explained as hundred seats of darkness or nights — Legend of Tishtrya’s fight with Apaosha in the Avesta — Only a reproduction of Indra’s fight with Vitra — Tishtrya’s fight described as lasting from one to a hundred nights in the Avesta — Forms an independent corroboration of hundred nightly Soma sacrifices — The phrase Sato-karahe found in the Avesta — The meaning of the nature of Ati-râtra discussed — Means a trans-nocturnal Soma sacrifice at either end of the long night — Production of the cycle of day and night therefrom — Hence a fitting introduction to the annual Sattras — Marked the close of the long night and the beginning of the period of sunshine — Sattra Ati-râtra, night sacrifices and Ati-râtra again thus formed the yearly round of sacrifices in ancient times — Clearly indicate the existence of a long darkness of 100 nights in the ancient year — Ancient sacrificial system thus corresponded with the ancient year — Adaptation of both to the new home effected by the Brâhmaas, like Numa’s reform in the old Roman Calendar — The importance of the results of sacrificial evidence.

 

 

            The legend of the Dashagvas, who completed their sacrifices during ten months, is not the only relic of the ancient year preserved in the sacrificial literature. The Pravargya ceremony, which is described in the Aitareya Brâhmaa (I, 18-12), furnishes us with another instance, where a reference to the old year seems to be clearly indicated. Dr. Haug, in his translation of the Aitareya Brâhmaa, has fully described this ceremony in a note to I, 18. It lasts for three days and precedes the animal and the Soma sacrifice, as no one is allowed to take part in the Soma feast without having undergone this ceremony. The whole ceremony symbolizes the revival of the sun or the sacrificial ceremony (yajña), which, for the time being, is preserved as seed in order that it may grow again in due time (Ait. Br. I, 18). Thus one of the chief implements used in the ceremony is a peculiar earthen pot called Gharma or Mahâvîra. Placing it on the Vedic altar the Adhvaryu makes a circle of clay called khara, because it is made of earth brought on the back of a donkey to the sacrificial ground. He places the pot on the circle and heats it so as to make it quite hot (gharma). It is then lifted by means of two shaphas (two wooden pieces), and then milking a cow, the milk is poured into the heated pot and mixed with the milk of a goat whose kid is dead. After this has been done, the contents of the Mahâvîra are thrown into the Âhavanîya fire. But all the contents of the pot are not thus thrown away, for the Hoti is described as eating the remainder of the contents of the Gharma, which are said to be full of honey, full of sap, full of food and quite hot. The Aitareya Brâhmaa (I, 22) gives us a rational of this ceremony as follows “The milk in the vessel is the seed. This seed (in the shape of milk) is poured in Agni (fire) as the womb of the gods for production, for Agni is the womb of the gods.” This explanation proves the symbolic nature of the ceremony, and shows that the sun, the sacrifice or the year is thus preserved as seed for time, and then revived at the proper season. The Mantra or the verse, which is recited on the occasion of pouring the milk into the Mahâvîra is taken from the ig-Veda VIII, 72 (61) 8, and it is very likely that the verse was selected not simply on account of mere verbal correspondence. The hymn, where the verse occurs, is rather obscure. But the verse itself, as well as the two preceding verses (VIII, 72 (61), 6-7-8) present no verbal difficulty and may be translated as follows: —

            “6. And now that mighty and great chariot of his with horses (as well as) the line of his chariot is seen.”

            “7. The seven milk the one, and the two create the five, on the ocean’s loud-sounding bank.”

            “8. With the ten of Vivasvat, Indra by his three-fold hammer, caused the heaven’s bucket to drop down.”*

           

 

 

Here, first of all, we are told that his (sun’s) chariot, the great chariot with horses has become visible, evidently meaning that the dawn has made its appearance on the horizon. Then the seven, probably the seven Hotis, or seven rivers, are said to milk this dawn and produce the two. This milking is a familiar process in the ig-Veda and in one place the cows of the morning are said to be milked from darkness (I, 33, 10). The two evidently mean day and night and as soon as they are milked, they give rise to the five seasons. The day and the night are said to be the two mothers of Sûrya in III, 55, 6, and here they are the mothers of the five seasons. What becomes after the expiry of the seasons is, described in the eighth verse. It says that with the ten of Vivasvat, or with the lapse of ten months, Indra with his three-fold hammer shook down the heavenly jar. This means that the three storing places of the aerial waters (VII, 101, 4) were all emptied into the ocean at this time and along with it the sun also went to the lower world, for sunlight is described to be three-fold in (VII, 101, 2 and Sâyaa there quotes the Taittirîya Sahitâ (II, 1, 2, 5), which says that the sun has three lights; the morning light being the Vasanta, the midday the Grîhma, and the evening the Sharad. The verse, therefore, obviously refers to the three-fold courses of waters in the heaven and the three-fold light of the sun and all this is. said to come to an end with the ten of Vivasvat The sun and the sacrifice are then preserved as seed to be re-generated some time after, — a process symbolized in the Pravargya ceremony. The idea of the sun dropping from heaven is very common in the sacrificial literature. Thus in the Aitareya Brâhmaa (IV, 18) we read, “The gods, being afraid of his (sun’s) falling beyond them being turned upside down, supported him by placing above him the highest worlds”;* Ait. Brâh. VI, 18 and the same idea is met with in the Tâṇḍya Brâhmaa (IV, 5, 9, 11). The words “falling beyond” (parâchas atipâtât) are very important, inasmuch as they show that the sun dropped into regions that were en the yonder side. One of the Ashvin’s protégé is also called Chyavâna, which word Prof. Max Müller derives from chyu to drop. The Ashvins are said to have restored him to youth, which, being divested of its legendary form, means the rehabilitation of the sun that had dropped into the nether world. The Pravargya ceremony, which preserves serves the seed of the sacrifice, is, therefore, only one phase of the story of the dropping sun in the sacrificial literature and the verses employed in this ceremony, if interpreted in the spirit of that ceremony, appear, as stated above, to indicate an older year of five seasons and ten months.

 

            But the Mantras used in the Pravargya ceremony are not so explicit as one might expect such kind of evidence to be. Therefore, instead of attempting to give more evidence of the same kind, — and there are many such facts in the Vedic sacrificial literature, — I proceed to give the direct statements about the duration of the annual Sattras from the well-known Vedic works. These statements have nothing of the legendary character about them and are, therefore, absolutely certain and reliable. It has been stated before that institution of sacrifice is an old one, and found amongst both the Asiatic and the European branches of the Aryan race. It was, in fact the main ritual of the religion of these people and naturally enough every detail concerning the sacrifices was closely watched, or accurately determined by the priests, who had the charge of these ceremonies. It is true that in giving reasons for the prevalence of a particular practice, these priests sometimes indulged in speculation; but the details of the sacrifice were facts that were settled in strict accordance with custom, and tradition, whatever explanations might be given in regard to their origin. But sometimes the facts were found to be so stubborn as to, defy any explanation, and the priests had to content themselves with barely recording the practice, and adding that “such is the practice from times immemorial.” It is with such evidence that we have now to deal in investigating the duration of the annual Sattras in ancient times.

 

            There are many annual Sattras like Âdityânâm-ayanam, Agirasâm-ayanam, Gavâm-ayanam, &c. mentioned in the Brâhmaas and the Shrauta Sûtras; and, as observed by Dr. Haug, they seem to have been originally established in imitation of the sun’s yearly course. They are the oldest of the Vedic sacrifices and their duration and other details have been all very minutely and carefully noted down in the sacrificial works. All these annual Sattras are not, however, essentially different from each other, being so many different varieties or modifications, according to circumstances, of a common model or type, and the Gavâm-ayanam is said to be this type; (vide, com. on Âshv. S.S. II, 7, 1). Thus in the Aitareya Brâhmaa (IV, 17) we are told that “They hold the Gavâm-ayanam, that is, the sacrificial session called the Cows’ walk. The cows are the Âdityas (gods of the months). By holding the session called the Cows’ walk they also hold the Âdityânâm-ayanam (the walk of the Âdityas).”* (See Dr. Haug’s Ait. Brâh. Vol. II, p. 287) If we, (therefore, ascertain the duration of the Gavâm-ayanam, the same rule would apply to all other annual Sattras and we need not examine the latter separately. This Gavâm-ayanam, or the Cows’ walk, is fully described in three places. Once in the Aitareya Brâhmaa and twice in the Taittirîya Sahitâ. We begin with the Aitareya Brâhmaa (IV, 17), which describes the origin and duration of the Sattra as follows: —

            “The cows, being desirous of obtaining hoofs and horns, held (once) a sacrificial session. In the tenth month (of their sacrifice) they obtained hoofs and horns. They said, ‘We have obtained fulfillment of that wish for which we underwent the initiation into the sacrificial rites. Let us rise (the sacrifice being finished).’ Those that arose, are these, who have horns. Of those, who, however, sat (continued the session) saying, ‘Let us finish the year,’ the horns went off on account of their distrust. It is they, who are hornless (tûparâ). They (continuing their sacrificial session) produced vigor (ûrjam). Thence after (having been sacrificing for twelve months and) having secured all the seasons, they rose (again) at the end. For they had produced the vigor (to reproduce horns, hoofs, &c. when decaying). Thus the cows made themselves beloved by all (the whole world), and are beautified (decorated) by all.”* (See Dr. Haug’s Ait. Brâh. Trans. Vol. II, p. 287.)

 

            Here it is distinctly mentioned that the cows first obtained the fulfillment of their desire in ten months, and a number of them left off sacrificing further. Those, that remained and sacrificed for two months more, are called “distrustful,” and they had to suffer for their distrust by forfeiting the horns they had obtained. It is, therefore, clear, that this yearly Sattra, which in the Sahitâs and Brâhmaas is a Sattra of twelve months in imitation of the sun’s yearly course, was once completed in ten months. Why should it be so? Why was a Sattra, which is annual in its very nature and which now lasts for twelve months, once completed in ten months? How did the sacrificers obtain all the religious merit of a twelve months’ sacrifice by sacrificing for ten months only? These are very important questions; but the Aitareya Brâhmaa neither raises them, nor gives us any clue to their solution. If we, however, go back to the Taittirîya Sahitâ, the oldest and most authoritative work on the sacrificial ceremonies, we find the questions distinctly raised. The Sahitâ expressly states that the Gavâm-ayanam can be completed in ten or twelve months, according to the choice of the sacrificer; but it plainly acknowledges its inability to assign any reason how a Sattra of twelve months could be completed in ten, except the fact that “it is an old practice sanctioned by immemorial usage.” These passages are very important for our purpose, and I give below a close translation of each. The first occurs in the Taittirîya Sahitâ (VII. 5, 1, 1-2),* and may be rendered as follows: —

            “The cows held this sacrificial session, desiring that ‘being hornless let horns grow unto us.’ Their session lasted (for) ten months. Then when the horns grew (up) they rose saying, ‘We have gained.’ But those, whose (horns) were not grown, they rose after completing the year, saying ‘We have gained.’ Those, that had their horns grown, and those that had not, both rose saying ‘We have gained.’ Cow’s session is thus the year (year session). Those, who know this, reach the year and prosper verily. Therefore, the hornless (cow) moves (grazes) pleased during the two rainy months. This is what the Sattra has achieved for her. Therefore, whatever is done in the house of one performing the yearly Sattra is successfully, timely and properly done.

 

            This account slightly differs from that given in the Aitareya Brâhmaa. In the Sahitâ the cows whose session lasted for twelve months, are said to be still hornless; but instead of getting vigor (ûrjam), they are said to have obtained as a reward for their additional sitting, the pleasure of comfortable grazing in the two rainy months, during which as the commentator observes, the horned cows find their horns an impediment to graze freely in the field, where new grass has grown up. But the statement regarding the duration of the Sattra viz., that it lasted for ten or twelve months, is the same both in the Sahitâ and in the Brâhmaa. The Sahitâ again takes up the question in the next Anuvâka (Taitt. Sam. VII, 5, 2, 1-2), and further describes the cows’ session as follows:

 

            “The cows held this sacrificial session, being hornless (and) desiring to obtain horns. Their session lasted (for) ten months; then when the horns grew (up), they said, ‘We have gained, let us rise, we have obtained the desire for which we sat (commenced the session).’ Half, or as many, of them as said, ‘We shall certainly sit for the two twelfth (two last) months, and rise after completing the year,’ (some of them had horns in the twelfth month by trust, (while) by distrust those that (are seen) hornless (remained so). Both, that is, those who got horns, and those who obtained vigor (ûrjam), thus attained their object. One who knows this, prospers, whether rising (from the sacrifice) in the tenth month or in the twelfth. They indeed go by the path (padena); he going by the path indeed attains (the end). This is that successful ayanam (session). Therefore, it is go-sani (beneficial to the cows).”

 

            This passage, in its first part repeats the story given in the previous anuvâka of the Sahitâ and in the Aitareya Brâhmaa with slight variations. But the latter part contains two important statements: firstly that whether we complete the sacrifice within ten months or twelve months the religious merit or fruit obtained is the same in either case, for both are said to prosper equally; and secondly this is said, to be the case because it is the “path” or as Sâyaa explains “an immemorial custom.” The Sahitâ is, in fact, silent as to the reason why an annual sattra which ought to, and as a matter of fact does, now last for twelve months could be completed in ten months;and this reticence is very remarkable, considering how the Sahitâ sometimes indulges in speculations about the origin of sacrificial rites. Any how we have two facts clearly established, (1) that at the time of the Taittirîya Sahitâ the Gavâm-ayanam the type of all annual Sattras could be completed in ten months; and (2) that no reasons was known at the time, as to why a Sattra of twelve months could be thus finished in ten, except that it was “an immemorial custom.” The Tâdya Brâhmaa IV, 1, has a similar discussion about Gavâm-ayanam, and clearly recognizes its two-fold characters so far as its duration is concerned. Sâyaa and Bhaṭṭ Bhâskara, in their commentaries on the Taittirîya Sahitâ, cannot therefore, be said to have invented any new theory of their own as regards the double duration of the annual Sattra. We shall discuss later on what is denoted by “cows” in the above passages. At present we are concerned with the duration of the Sattra; and if we compare the above matter-of-fact statements in the Sahitâ about the double duration of the annual Sattra with the legend of the Dashagvas sacrificing for ten months, the conclusion, that in ancient times the ancestors of the Vedic Aryas completed their annual sacrificial session in ten months, becomes irresistible. This duration of the Sattra must have been changed and all such Sattras made to last for twelve months when the Vedic people came to live in regions where such an annual session was impossible. But conservatism in such matters is so strong that the old practice must have outlived the change in the calendar, and it had to be recognized as an alternative period of duration for this Sattra in the Sahitâs. The Taittirîya Sahitâ has thus to record the alternative period, stating that it is an ancient practice, and I think it settles the question, so far as the duration of these Sattras in ancient times is concerned. Whatever reasons we may assign for it, it is beyond all doubt that the oldest annual Sattras lasted only for ten months.

 

            But the Taittirîya Sahitâ is not alone in being thus unable to assign any reason for this relic of the ancient calendar, or the duration of the annual Sattra. We still designate the twelfth month of the European solar year as December which word etymologically denotes the tenth month, (Latin decem, Sans. dashan, ten; and ber Sans. vâra, time or period), and we all know that Numa added two months to the ancient Roman year and made it of twelve months. Plutarch, in his life of Numa records another version of the story, viz., that Numa according to some, did not add the two months but simply transferred them from the end to the beginning of the year. But the names of the months clearly show that this could not have been the case, for the enumeration of the months by words indicating their order as the fifth or Quintilis (old name for July), the sixth or Sixtilis, (old name for August), the seventh or September and so on the rest in their order, cannot, after, it is once begun, be regarded to have abruptly stopped at December, allowing only the last two months to be differently named. Plutarch has, therefore, rightly observed that “we have a proof in the name of the last (month) that the Roman year contained, at first ten months only and not twelve.”* (See Plutarch’s Lives, translated into English by the Rev. John and William Langhorne (Ward, Lock & Co.), p. 54, ƒ.) But if there was any doubt on the point, it is now removed by the analogy of the Gavâm-ayanam and the legends of the Dashagvas and Dîrghatamas. Macrobius (Saturnal Lib. I. Chap. 12) confirms the story of Numa’s adding and not simply transposing, two months to the ancient year of ten months. What the Avesta has to say on this subject we shall see later on where traditions about the ancient year amongst the other Aryan races will also be considered. Suffice it to say for the present that, according to tradition, the ancient Roman year consisted only of ten months, and like the duration of the Gavâm-ayanam, it was subsequently changed into a year of twelve months; and yet, so far as I know, no reason has yet been discovered, why the Roman year in ancient times was considered to be shorter by two months. On the contrary, the tendency is either to explain away the tradition some how as inconvenient, or to ignore it altogether as incredible. But so long as the word December is before us and we know how it is derived, the tradition cannot be so lightly set side. The Encyclopædia Britannica (s.v. calendar) records the ancient tradition that the oldest Roman year of Romulus was of ten months of 304 days and observes “it is not known how the remaining days were disposed of.” If, with all the resources of modern science at our command, we have not yet been able to ascertain why the oldest Roman year was of ten months only and how the remaining days were disposed of, we need not be surprised if the Taittirîya Sahitâ refrained from speculating on the point and contented itself with stating that such was the “path” or the old custom or practice handed down from generation to generation from times immemorial. The Arctic theory, however, now throws quite a new light on these ancient traditions, Vedic as well as Roman; and if we take the Gavâm-ayanam of ten months and the old Roman year of ten months as relics of the period when the ancestors of both these races lived together within the circum-polar regions, there is no difficulty of explaining how the remaining days were disposed of. It was the period of the long night, — a time when Indra fought with Vala, to regain the cows imprisoned by the latter and Hercules killed the giant Cacus, a three-headed fire-vomiting monster, who had carried off Hercules’ cows and hid them in a cave, dragging them backwards in order that the foot-marks might not be traced. When the Aryan people migrated southwards from this ancient home they had to change this calendar to suit their new home by adding two more months to the old year. But the traces of the old calendar could not be completely wiped off, and we have still sufficient evidence, traditional or sacrificial, to warrant us in holding that a year of ten months followed by a night of two months was known in the Indo-Germanic period — a conclusion, which is further confirmed by Teutonic myths and legends, gas explained by Prof. Rhys, whose views will be found summarized in a subsequent chapter.

 

            The Taittirîya Sahitâ and the Aitareya Brâhmaa speak of the Gavâm-ayanam as being really held by the cows. Was it really a session of these animals? Or was it something else? The Aitareya Brâhmaa, we have seen, throws out a suggestion that “the cows are the Âdityas,” that is the month-gods, and the Cows’ session is really the session of the monthly sun-gods.*( See Aitareya Brâh. IV, 17, quoted supra) Comparative mythology now fully bears out the truth of this remarkable suggestion put forward by the Brâhmaa. Cows, such as we meet them in the mythological legends, represent days and nights of the year, not only in the Vedic but also in the Greek mythology; any we can, therefore, now give a better account of the origin of this sacrificial session than that it was a session of bovine animals for the purpose of obtaining horns. Speaking of cows in the Aryan mythology, Prof. Max Müller in his Contributions to the Science of Mythology (Vol. II. p. 761) writes as follows: —

            “There were thus three kinds of cows, the real cows, the cows in the dark cloud (rain = milk), and the cows stepping forth from the dark stable of the night (the rays of the morning). These three are not always easy to distinguish in the Veda; nay, while we naturally try to distinguish between them, the poets themselves seem to delight in mixing them up. In the passage quoted above (I, 32, 11), we saw how the captive waters were compared to cows that had been stolen by Pai (niruddhâ âpaînâ iva gâva), but what is once compared in the Veda is soon identified. As to the Dawn, she is not only compared to a cow, she is called the cow straight out. Thus when we read, R.V. I. 92, 1. These dawns have made a light on the eastern half of the sky, they brighten their splendor, the bright cows approach, the mothers, the cows, gâva, can only be the dawns themselves, the plural of dawn being constantly in the Veda used where we should use the singular. In R.V. 1, 93, 4, we read that ‘Agnîshomau deprived Pai of his cows and found light for many.’ Here again the cows are the dawns kept by Pai in the dark stable or cave of the night, discovered by Saramâ and delivered every morning by the gods of light.”

 

            “We read in R.V. I, 62, 3, that Bihaspati split the rock and found the cows.”

 

            “Of Indra it is said, II, 19, 3, that he produced the sun and found the cows; of Bihaspati, II, 24, 3, that he drove out the cows, that he split the cave by his word, that he hid the darkness, and lighted up the sky. What can be clearer? The Maruts also, II, 34, 1, are said to uncover the cows and Agni. V, 14, 4, is praised for killing the friends, for having overcome darkness by light, and having found the cows, water and the sun.”

 

            “In all these passages we find no iva or na, which would indicate that the word cow was used metaphorically. The dawns or days as they proceed from the dark stable, or are rescued from evil spirits, are spoken of directly as the cows. If they, are spoken of in the plural, we find the same in the case of the Dawn (uhas) who is often conceived as many, as in II, 28, 2, upâyane uhasâm gomatînâm, ‘at the approach of the dawns with their cows.’ From that it required but a small step to speak of the one Dawn as the mother of the cows, IV, 52, 2, mâtâ gavâm.”

 

            “Kuhn thought that these cows should be understood as the red clouds of the morning. But clouds are not always present at sunrise, nor can it well be said that they are carried off and kept in prison during the night by the powers of darkness.”

 

            “But what is important and settles the point is the fact that these cows or oxen of the dawn or of the rising sun occur in other mythologies also and are there clearly meant for days. They are numbered as 12 × 30, that is, the thirty days of the 12 lunar months. If Helios has 350 oxen and 350 sheep, that can only refer to the days and to the nights of the year, and would prove the knowledge of a year of 350 days before the Aryan separation.”

 

            Thus the cows in mythology are the days and nights, or dawns, that are imprisoned by Pai, and not real living cows with horns. Adopting this explanation and substituting these metaphorical cows for gâva in the Gavâm-ayanam, it is not difficult to see that underneath the strange story of cows holding a sacrificial session for getting horns, there lies concealed the remarkable phenomenon, that, released from the clutches of Pai, these cows of days and nights walked on for ten months, the oldest duration of the session known as Cows, walk. In plain language this means, if it means anything, that the oldest Aryan year was one of ten months followed by the long night, during which the cows were again carried away by the powers of darkness. We have seen that the oldest Roman year was of ten months, and the Avesta, as will be shown later on, also speaks of ten months’ summer prevailing in the Airyana Vaêjo before the home :was invaded by the evil spirit, who brought on ice and severe winter in that place. A year of ten months with a long night of two months may thus be taken to be known before the Aryan separation, and the references to it in the Vedic literature are neither isolated nor imaginary. They are the relics of ancient history, which have been faithfully preserved in the sacrificial literature of India, and if they were hitherto misunderstood it was because the true key required for their solution was as yet unknown.

 

            But as stated in the previous chapter, a year in the circum-polar region will always have a varying number of the months or sunshine according to latitude. Although, therefore, there is sufficient evidence to establish the existence of, a year of ten months, we cannot hold that it was the only year known in ancient times. In fact we have seen that the legend of Aditi indicates the existence of the seven months of sunshine; and a band of thirty continuous dawns supports the same conclusion. But it seems that a year of ten months of sunshine was more prevalent, or was selected as the mean of the different varying years. The former view is rendered probable by the fact that of the Agirases of various forms (virûpas) the Navagvas and the Dashagvas are said to be the principal or the most important in the ig-Veda (X, 62, 6), But whichever view we adopt, the existence of a year of seven, eight, nine, ten or eleven months of sunshine follows as a matter of course, if the ancient Aryan home was within the Arctic circle. Prof. Max Müller, in his passage quoted above, points out that the old Greek year probably consisted of 350 days, the 350 oxen of Helios representing the days, and 350 sheep representing the nights. He also notices that in German mythology 700 gold rings of Wieland, the smith, are spoken of, and comparing the number with 720 sons of Agni mentioned in I, 164, 11, he draws from it the conclusion that a year of 350 days is also represented in the German mythology. This year is shorter by ten days than the civil year of 360 days, or falls short of the full solar year by 15 days. It is, therefore, clear that if a year of 350 days existed before the Aryan separation, it must have been followed by a continuous night of ten days; while where the year was of 300 days, the long night extended over 60 days of 24 hours each. We shall thus have different kinds of long nights; and it is necessary to see if we can collect evidence to indicate the longest duration of the night known before the Aryan separation. Speaking of the cows or oxen of Helios, as stated in the passage quoted above, Prof. Max Müller goes on to observe: —

 

            “The cows or oxen of Hêlios thus receive their background from the Veda, but what is told of them by Homer is by no means clear. When it is said that the companions of Odysseus consumed the oxen of Helios, and that they thus forfeited their return home, we can hardly take this in the modern sense of consuming or wasting their days, thought it may be difficult to assign any other definite meaning to it. Equally puzzling is the fable alluded to in the Homeric hymn that Hermes stole the oxen of Apollon and killed two of them. The number of Apollon’s oxen is given as fifty (others give the number as 100 cows, twelve oxen and one bull), Which looks like the number of weeks in the lunar year, but why Hermes should be represented as carrying off the whole herd and then killing to, is difficult to guess, unless we refer it to the two additional months in a cycle of four years.”

 

            In the light of the Arctic theory the puzzle here referred to is solved without any difficulty. The stealing away or the carrying off of the cows need not now he taken to mean simple wasting of the days in the modern sense of the word; nor need we attribute such stories to the “fancy of ancient bards and story tellers.” The legend or the tradition of stealing consuming, or carrying off the cows or oxen is but another form of stating that so many days were lost, being swallowed up in the long night that occurred at the end of the year and lasted, according to latitude, for varying period of time. So long as everything was to be explained on the theory of a daily struggle between light and darkness, these legends were unintelligible. But as soon as we adopt the Arctic theory the whole difficulty vanishes and what was confused and puzzling before becomes at once plain and comprehensible. In the Vedic mythology cows are similarly said to be stolen by Vitra or Vala, but their number is nowhere given, unless we regard the story of ijrâshva (the Red-horse) slaughtering 100 or 101 sheep and giving them to a she-wolf to devour (I, 116, 16; 117, 18), as a modification of the story of stealing the cows. The Vedic sacrificial literature does, however, preserve for us an important relic; besides the one above noted, of the older calendar and especially the long night. But in this case the relic is so deeply buried under the weight of later explanations, adaptations and emendations, that we must here examine at some length the history of the Soma sacrifices in order to discover the original meaning of the rites which are included under that general name. That the Some sacrifice is an ancient institution is amply proved by parallel rites in the Parsi scriptures; and whatever doubt we may have regarding the knowledge of Soma in the Indo. European period, as the word is not found in the European languages, the system of sacrifices can be clearly traced back to the primeval age. Of this sacrificial system„ the Soma sacrifice may, at any rate, be safely taken as the oldest

representative, since it forms the main feature of the ritual of the ig-Veda and a whole Maṇḍala of 114 hymns in the ig-Veda is dedicated to the praise of Soma. A careful analysis of the Soma sacrifice may, therefore, be expected to disclose at least partially, the nature of the oldest sacrificial system of the Aryan race; and we, therefore, proceed to examine the same.

 

            The chief characteristic of the Soma sacrifice, as distinguished from other sacrifices, is, as the name indicates, the extraction of the Soma juice and the offering thereof to gods before drinking it. There are three libations of Soma in a day, one in the morning, one in mid-day and the last in the evening, and all these are accompanied by the chanting of hymns during the sacrifice. These Soma sacrifices, if classed according to their duration, fall under three heads; (1) those that are performed in a single day, called Ekâhas, (2) those that are performed in more than one and less than thirteen days called Ahînas, and (3) those that take thirteen or more than 13 days and may last even for one thousand years, called Sattras. Under the first head we have the Agnihoma, fully described in the Aitareya Brâhmaa (III, 39-44), as the key or the type of all the sacrifices that fall under this class. There are six modifications of Agnihoma, viz., Ati-agnihoma, Ukthya, Shoashî, Vâjapeya, Atirâtra and Aptoryâma, which together with Agnihoma, form the seven parts, kinds or modifications of the Jyotihoma, sacrifice, (Ashv. S.S. VI, 11, 1). The modification chiefly consists in the number of hymns to be recited at the libations, or the manner of recitation, or the number of the Grahvas or Soma-cups used on the occasion. But with these we are not at present concerned. Of the second class of Soma sacrifices, the Dvâdashâa or twelve days’ sacrifice is celebrated both as Ahîna and Sattra and is considered to be very important. It is made up of three tryahas (or three days’ performances, called respectively Jyotis, Go, and Ayus), the tenth day and the two Atirâtras (Ait. Br. IV, 23-4). The nine days’ performance (three tryahas) is called Nava-râtra. Side by side with this, there are, under this head, a number of Soma sacrifices extending over two nights or three nights, four nights, up to twelve nights, called dvi-râtra, tri-râtra and so on (Tait. Sa. VII, 1, 4; VII, 3, 2. Ashv. Shr. Sut. X and XI; Tân. Brâ. 20, 11, 24, 19). In the third class we have the annual Sattras and of these the Gavâm-ayanam is the type. Some Sattras which come under this class are described as extending over 1,000 years and a discussion is found in sacrificial works as to whether the phrase one thousand years signifies 1,000 real years, or whether it stands for 1,000 days. But we may pass it over as unnecessary for our purpose. The annual Sattras are the only important Sattras of this class, and to understand their nature we must see what a haaha means. The word literally denotes a group of six days (ha + ahan) and is used to denote six days’ performance in the sacrificial literature. It is employed as a unit to measure a month in the same way as we now use a week, a month being made up of five haahas. The haaha, in its turn, consists of the daily sacrifices called Jyotis, Go, Âyus and the same three taken in the reverse order as Âyus, Go and Jyotis. Every haaha, therefore, begins and ends with a Jyotihoma (Ait. Br. IV, 15). The haaha is further distinguished into Abhiplava and Pishhya, according to the arrangement of the stomas or songs sung at the Soma libations. An annual Sattra is in the main, made up of a number of haahas joined with certain special rites at the beginning, the middle and the close of the Sattra. The central day of the Sattra is called Vihuvân, and stands by itself, dividing the Sattra into two equal halves like the wings of a house (Tait. Br. I, 2, 3, 1); and the rites in the latter half of the session or after the Vihuvân day are performed in an order which is the reverse of that followed in forming the ceremonies in the first half of the sacrifice. The model annual Sattra (the Gavâm-anayam) thus; consists of the following parts: —

 

 

Parts

 

Days

1.

The introductory Atirâtra ………………………………………..........

1

2.

The Chaturvisha day, otherwise called the Ârambhaniya (Aît. Br. IV, 12), or the Prâyaîya (Tâṇḍ. Br. IV. 2), the real beginning of the Sattra …………………………………………............................

 

 

1

3.

Four Abhiplava, followed by one Pihhya haaha each month; continued in this way for five months ..............................

 

150

4.

Three Abhiplava and one Pihhya haaha ……………………...

24

5.

The Abhijit day …………………………………………………............

1

6.

The Three Svara-Sâman days …………………………………..........

3

7.

Vishnuvân or the Central day which stands by itself i.e., not counted in the total of the Sattra days

 

8.

The three Svara-Sâman days …………………………………….......

3

9.

The Vishvajit day ……………………………………………................

1

10.

One Pihhya and three Abhiplava haahas ………………….....

24

11.

One Pihhya and four Abhiplava haahas each month continued in this way for four months …………………………......

 

120

12.

Three Abhiplava haahas, one Go-homa, one Âyu-homa, and one Dasharâtra (the ten days of Dvâdashâha), making up one month ……………………………………………………….............

 

 

30

13.

The Mahâvrata day, corresponding to the Chaturvisha day at the beginning ……………………………………………………...........

 

1

14.

The concluding Atirâtra ………………………………………............

1

 

 

Total days:

 

360

 

            It will be seen from the above scheme that there are really a few sacrificial rites which are absolutely fixed and unchangeable in the yearly Sattra. The two Atirâtras, the introductory and the concluding, the Chaturvisha and the Mahâvrata day, the Abhijit and the Vishvajit, the three Svara-Sâman days on either side of Vihuvân, the Vihuvân itself, and the ten days of Dvâdashâha, making up 22 days in all exclusive of Vihuvân, are the only parts that have any specialty about them. The rest of the days are all made up by Abhiplava and Pihhya haahas which therefore constitute what may be called the elastic or the variable part of the yearly Sattra. Thus if we want a Gavâm-ayanam of ten months, we have only to strike off five haahas from the parts marked 3 and 11 in the above scheme. The Adityânâ-ayanam is another modification of the above scheme in which amongst other changes, the haahas are all Abhiplava, instead of being a combination of Abhiplava and Prihhya; while if all the haahas are Prihhya, along with some other changes, it becomes the Agirasâm-ayanam. All these modifications do not however, touch the total number of 360 days. But there were sacrificers, who adopted the lunar year of 354 days and therefore, omitted 6 days from the above scheme and their Sattra is called the Utsarginâm-ayanam (Tait. Sam. VII, 5, 7, 1, Tâṇḍya Brâh. V, 10). In short, the object was to make the Sattra correspond with the year adopted, civil or lunar, as closely as possible. But these points are not relevant to our purpose. The Brâhmaas and the Shrauta Sûtras give further details about the various rites to be performed on the Vihuvân, the Abhijit and the Vishvajit or the Svara-Sâman day. The Aitareya Arayaka describes the Mahâvrata ceremony; while the Atirâtra and the Chaturvisha are described in the fourth book of the Aitareya Brâhmaa. The Chaturvisha is so called because the stoma to be chanted on that day is twenty-four-fold. It is the real beginning of the Sattra as the Mahâvrata is its end. The Aitareya Brâhmaa (IV, 14) says, “The Hoti pours forth the seed. Thus he makes the seed (which is poured forth) by means of the Mahâvrata day produce off-spring. For seed if effused every year is productive.” This explanation shows that like the Pravargya ceremony, the Mahâvrata was intended to preserve the seed of the sacrifice in order that it might germinate or grow at the proper time. It was a sort of link between the dying and the coming year and appropriately concluded the annual Sattra. It will be further seen that every annual Sattra had an Ati-râtra at each of its ends and that the Dvâdashâha, or rather the ten days thereof, formed an important concluding part of the Sattra.

 

            The above is only a brief description, a mere outline of the scheme of the annual Sattras mentioned in sacrificial works, but it is sufficient for our purpose. We can see from it that a civil year of 360 days formed their basis, and the position of the Vihuvân was of great importance inasmuch as the ceremonies after it were performed in the reverse order. I have shown elsewhere what important inferences can be drawn from the position of the Vihuvân regarding the calendar in use at the time when the scheme was settled. But we have now to consider of times which preceded the settlement of this scheme, and for that purpose we must describe another set of Soma sacrifices included under the general class of Sattras. It has been stated above that side by side with the Dvâdashâha, there are Ahîna sacrifices of two nights, three nights, etc. up to twelve nights. But these sacrifices do not stop with the twelve nights’ performance. There are thirteen nights’, fourteen nights’, fifteen nights’, and so on up to one hundred nights’ sacrifice called Trayodasha-râtra, Chaturdasha-râtra and so on up to Shata-râtra. But since the Ahîna has been defined to be a sacrifice extending over not more than twelve or less than thirteen days, all the night-sacrifices extending over a period longer than twelve-nights are included in the third class, viz., the Sattras. If we, however, disregard this artificial division, it will be found that along with the Ekâha, the Dvâdashâha and the annual Sattras, there is a series of, what are termed, the night-sacrifices or sattras extending over a period of time from two to one hundred nights, but not further. These night-sacrifices or Ratri-sattras are mentioned in the Taittirîya Sahitâ, the Brâhmaas and the Shrauta Sûtras in clear terms and there is no ambiguity about their nature, number, or duration. The Taittirîya Sahitâ in describing them often uses the word Râtri (nights) in the plural, stating, that so and so was the first to institute or to perceive so many nights meaning so many nights’ sacrifice, (vishatim râtri, VII. 3, 9, 1; dvâtrishatam râtri VII, 4, 4, 1). According to the principle of division noted above all night-sacrifices of less than thirteen nights’ duration will be called Ahîna, while those extending over longer time up to one hundred nights will come under Sattras; but this is, as remarked above, evidently an artificial division, and one, who reads carefully the description of these sacrifices, cannot fail to be struck by the fact that we have here a series of night-sacrifices from two to a hundred nights, or if we include the Ati-râtra in this series, we have practically a set of hundred nightly Soma sacrifices, though, according to the principle of division adopted, some may fall under the head of Ahîna and some under that of Sattras.

 

            Now an important question in connection with these Sattras is why they alone should be designated “night-sacrifices” (râtri-kratus), or “night-sessions” (râtri-sattras)? and why their number should be one hundred? or, in other words, why there are no night-sattras of longer duration than one hundred nights? The Mîmâsakas answer the first part of the question by asking us to believe that the word “night” (râtri) is really used to denote a day in the denomination of these sacrifices (Shabara on Jaimini VIII, 1, 17). The word dvi-râtra according to this theory means two days’ sacrifice, and shata-râtra a hundred days’ sacrifice. This, explanation appears very good at the first sight, and as a matter of fact it has been accepted by all writers on the sacrificial ceremonies. In support of it, we may also cite the fact that as the moon was the measurer of time in ancient days, the night was then naturally more marked then the day, and instead of saying “so many days” men often spoke of “so many nights,” much in the same way as we now use the word “fort-night.” This is no doubt good so far as it goes; but the question is why should there be no Soma sacrifices of a longer duration than one hundred nights? and, why a gap, a serious gap, is left in the series of Soma sacrifices after one hundred nights Sattra until we come to the annual Sattra of 360 days? Admitting that “night” means “day,” we have Soma sacrifices lasting from 1 to 100 days; and if so where was the harm to complete the series until the yearly Sattra of 360 days was reached? So far as I know, no writer on sacrificial ceremonies has attempted to answer this question satisfactorily. Of course adopting the speculative manner of the Brâhmaas we might say that there are no Soma sacrifices of longer than one hundred nights’ duration, because the life of a man cannot extend beyond a hundred years (Tait. Br. III, 8, 16, 2). But such an explanation can never be regarded as satisfactory, and the Mîmâsakas, who got over one difficulty by interpreting “night” into “day,” have practically left this latter question untouched, and therefore, unsolved. In short, the case stands thus: — The sacrificial literature mentions a series of 99 or practically one hundred Soma sacrifices, called the “night-sacrifices”; but these do not form a part of any annual Sattra like the Gavâm-ayanam, nor is any reason assigned for their separate existence, nor is their duration which never exceeds a hundred nights, accounted for. Neither the authors of the Brâhmaas nor those of the Shrauta Sûtras much less Sâyaa and Yâska give us any clue to the solution of this question; and the Mîmâsakas, after explaining the word “night” occurring in the names of these sacrifices as equal to “day” have allowed these night-sacrifices to remain as an isolated group in the organized system of Soma sacrifices. Under these circumstances it would no doubt appear presumptuous for any one to suggest an explanation, so many centuries after what may be called the age of the Sattras. But I feel the Arctic theory which, we have seen, is supported by strong independent evidence, not only explains but appropriately accounts for the original existence of this isolated series of a hundred Soma sacrifices; and I, therefore, proceed to give my view on the point.

 

            It seems to me that if the word râtri in Atî-râtra is still understood to mean “night,” and that if the Ati-râtra sacrifice is even now performed during the night, there is no reason why we should not similarly interpret the same word in Dvi-râtra, Tri-râtra &c. up to Shata-râtra. The objection, that the Soma juice is not extracted during the night, is more imaginary than real; for as a matter of fact Soma libations are made in the usual way, during the Ati-râtra sacrifice. The Ati-râtra sacrifice is performed at the beginning and the end of every Sattra; and all the three libations of Soma are always offered during the three turns, or paryâyas, of the night. The Aitareya Brâhmaa (IV, 5), in explaining the origin of this sacrifice, tells us that the Asuras had taken shelter with the night and the Devas, who had taken shelter with the day, wanted to expel them from the dark region. But amongst the Devas, Indra alone was found ready and willing to undertake this task; and entering into darkness, he with the assistance of Metres, turned the Asuras out of the first part of the night by the first Soma libation, while by means of the middle turn (paryâya) of passing the Soma-cup, the Asuras were turned out of the middle part and by the third turn out of the third or the last part of the night. The three Soma libations, here spoken of, are all made during the night and the Brâhmaa further observes that there is no other deity save Indra and the Metres to whom they are offered (Cf. Apas. Sh. Su. XIV, 3, 12). The next section of the Brâhmaa (IV, 6) distinctly raises the question, “How are the Pavamâna Stotras to be chanted for the purification of the Soma juice provided for the night, whereas such Sutras refer only to the day but not to the night?” and answers it by stating that the Stotras are the same for the day and the night. It is clear from this that Soma juice was extracted and purified at night during Ati-râtra sacrifice and Indra was the only deity to whom the libations were offered in order to help him in his fight with the Asuras, who had taken shelter with the darkness of the night. That the Ati-râtra is an ancient sacrifice is further proved by the occurrence of a similar ceremony in the Parsi scriptures. The word Ati-râtra does not occur in the Avesta, but in the Vendibad, XVIII, 18, (43)-22 (48), we are told that there are three parts of the night and that in the first of these parts (trishvai), Fire, the son of Ahura Mazda, calls upon the master of the house to arise and put on his girdle and to fetch clean wood in order that he may burn bright; for, says the Fire, “Here comes Azi (Sans. Ahi) made by the Daêvas (Vedic Asuras), who is about to strive against me and wants  to put out my life.” And the asme request is made during the second and the third part of the night. The close resemblance between this and the three paryâyas of the Ati-râtra sacrifice does not seem to have been yet noticed; but whether noticed or not it shows that the Ati-râtra is an ancient rite performed during the night for the purpose of helping Indra, or the deity that fought with the powers of darkness, and that such sacrificial acts as putting on the girdle (kosti) or squeezing the Soma, were performed during this period of darkness.

 

            Now what applies to the sacrifice of a single night may well be extended to cases where sacrifices had to be performed for two, three or more continuous nights. I have already shown before that the ancient sacrificers completed their sacrificial sessions in ten months and a long night followed the completion of these sacrifices. What did the sacrificers do during this long night? They could not have slept all the time; and as a matter of fact we know that the people in the extreme north of Europe and Asia do not, even at present sleep during the whole of the long night which occurs in their, part of the globe. Paul Du Chaillu, who has recently (1900) published an account of his travels in The Land of the Long Night, informs us (p. 75) that although the sun went below the horizon for several days in the Arctic regions, yet during the period “the Lapps could tell from the stars whether it was night or day, for they were accustomed to gauge time by the stars according to their height above the horizon, just as we do at home with the sun”; and what the Lapps do now, must have been done by the oldest inhabitants of the circum-polar regions. It is, therefore, clear that the ancient sacrificers of the Aryan race could not have gone to sleep after sacrificing for ten months. Did they then sit idle with their hands folded when Indra was fighting for them with the powers of darkness? They performed their sacrifices for ten months with a view to help Indra in his war with Vala; and just at the time when Indra most needed the help of invigorating songs and Soma libations, are we to suppose that these sacrificers sat idle, gave up the sacrifices and left Indra to fight with Vala alone and single-handed as best as be could? The whole theory of sacrifices negatives such a supposition. Therefore, if the Arctic theory is true, and if the ancestor of the Vedic ihis ever lived in a region where the darkness of the night lasted for several days (a day being taken as a measure of time equal to 24 hours), we naturally expect to find a series of nightly Soma sacrifices performed during the period, to help the gods in their struggle with the demons of darkness; and as a matter of fact, there are in the Vedic sacrificial literature, a number of sacrifices which, if we include the Ati-râtra in it, extend from one to a hundred nights. The Mîmâsakas and even the authors of the Brâhmaas, who knew little about the ancient Arctic home, have converted these night-sacrifices into day-sacrifices; but the explanation evidently appears to be in vented at a time when the true nature of the Râtri-kratus or Râtri-sattras was forgotten, and it does not, therefore, preclude us from interpreting these facts in a different way. I have already stated above that if we accept the explanation of the Mîmâsakas, we cannot explain why the series of the night-sacrifices should abruptly end with the Shata-râtra or a hundred nights’ sacrifice; but by the Arctic theory we can explain the fact satisfactorily by supposing that the duration of the long night in the ancient home varied from one night (of 24 hours) to a hundred continuous nights (of 2400 hours) according to latitude, and that the hundred nightly Soma sacrifices corresponded to the different durations of the night at different places in the ancient home. Thus where the darkness lasted only for ten nights (240 hours) a Dasha-râtra sacrifice was performed, while where it lasted for 100 nights (2400 hours) a Shata-râtra sacrifice was necessary. There are no sacrifices after the Shata-râtra because a hundred continuous nights marked the maximum duration of darkness experienced by the ancient sacrificers of the race. We have seen that the legend of Aditi indicates a period of seven months’ sunshine; join to it the Dawn and the Twilight of 30 days each, and there are left three months, (or if we take the year to consist of 365 days, then 95 days), for the duration of the long continuous night, — a result which remarkably corresponds to the longest duration of the night-sacrifices known in the Vedic literature. The Dawn marked the end of the long night, and could not; therefore, be included in the latter at least for sacrificial purposes. In fact separate sacrifices are enjoined for the Dawn in sacrificial works; and we may, therefore, safely exclude the long Dawn from the province of the nightly sacrifices, and the same may be said of the period of the long evening twilight. A hundred nights’ sacrifice thus marked the maximum duration of darkness during which Indra fought with Vala and was strengthened by the Soma libations offered to him in this sacrifice. As there is no other theory to account for the existence of the night-sacrifices, and especially for their number, to wit, one hundred, these sacrifices may be safely taken to indicate the existence of an ancient year approximately divided into seven months’ sunshine, one month’s dawn, one month’s evening twilight and three months’ long continuous night.

 

            There are other considerations which point out to the same conclusion. In the post-Vedic literature we have a persistent tradition that Indra alone of all gods is the master of a hundred sacrifices (shata-kratu), and that as this attribute formed, so to say, the very essence of Indraship, he always jealously watched all possible encroachments against it. But European scholars relying upon the fact that even Sâyaa prefers, except in a few places (III, 51, 2) to interpret shata-kratu, as applied to Indra in the ig-Veda, as meaning, not “the master of a hundred sacrifices,” but “the lord of a hundred mights or powers,” have not only put aside the Purâic tradition, but declined to interpret the word kratu in the ig-Veda except in the sense of “power, energy, skill, wisdom, or generally speaking, the power of body or mind.” But if the above explanation of the origin of the night sacrifices is correct, we must retrace our steps and acknowledge that the Purâic tradition or legend is, fater all, not built upon a pure misunderstanding of the original meaning of the epithet shata-kratu as applied to Indra in the Vedic-literature. I am aware of the fact that traditions in the post-Vedic literature are often found to have but a slender basis in the Vedas, but in the present case we have something more reliable and tangible to go upon. We have a group, an isolated group of a hundred nightly Soma sacrifices and as long as it stands unexplained in the Vedic sacrificial literature it would be unreasonable to decline to connect it with the Purâic tradition of Indra’s sole mastership of hundred sacrifices, especially when in the light of the Arctic theory the two can be so well and intelligibly connected. The hundred sacrifices, which are regarded as constituting the essence of Indraship in the Purâas, are there said to be the Ashvamedha sacrifices and it may, at the outset, be urged that the shata-râtra sacrifice mentioned in the sacrificial works is not an Ashvamedha sacrifice. But the distinction is neither important, nor material. The Ashvamedha sacrifice is a Soma sacrifice and is described in the sacrificial works along with the night-sacrifices. In the Taittirîya Sahitâ ( VII, 2, 11) a hundred offerings of food to be made in the Ashvamedha sacrifice are mentioned, and the Taittirîya Brâhmaa (III, 8, 15, 1) states that Prajâpati obtained these offerings “during the night,” and consequently they are called Râtri-homas. The duration of the Ashvamedha sacrifice is again not fixed, inasmuch as it depends upon the return of the horse and in the ig-Veda (I, 163, 1) the sacrificial horse is identified with the sun moving in waters. The return of the sacrificial horse may, therefore, be taken to symbolize the return of the sun after the long night and a close resemblance between the Ashvamedha and the night-sacrifices, which were performed to enable Indra to fight with Vala and rescue the dawn and the sun from his clutches, may thus be taken as established. At any rate, we need not be surprised if the Shata-râtra Soma sacrifice appears in the form of a hundred Ashvamedha sacrifices in the Purâas. The tradition is substantially the same in either case and when it can be so easily and naturally explained on the Arctic theory, it would not be reasonable to set it aside and hold that the writers of the Purâas created it by misinterpreting the word Shata-kratu occurring in the Vedas.