HEAVEN AND EARTH
Dyaus, Gods, Hymns, Hymn, Father, Mother
Not only as identical with the chief god of the Greeks, but also from a native Indic point of view, it might have been expected that Dyaus (Zeus), the 'shining sky,' would play an important rôle in the Hindu pantheon. But such is not the case. There is not a single hymn addressed independently to Dyaus, nor is there any hint of especial preeminence of Dyaus in the half-dozen hymns that are sung to Heaven and Earth together. The word dyaus is used hundreds of times, but generally in the meaning sky (without personification). There is, to be sure, a formal acknowledgment of the fatherhood of Dyaus (among gods he is father particularly of Dawn, the Açvins, and Indra), as there is of the motherhood of Earth, but there is no further exaltation. No exaggeration—the sign of Hindu enthusiasm—is displayed in the laudation, and the epithet 'father' is given to half a dozen Vedic gods, as in Rome Ma(r)spiter stands beside Jup(p)iter. Certain functions are ascribed to Heaven and Earth, but they are of secondary origin. Thus they bring to the god he sacrifice, as does Agni, and one whole hymn may thus be epitomized: 'By the ordinance of Varuna made firm, O Heaven and Earth, give us blessings. Blest with children and wealth is he that adores you twain. Give us sweet food, glory and strength of heroes, ye who are our father and mother.'
The praise is vague and the benevolence is the usual 'bestowal of blessings' expected of all the gods in return for praise. Other hymns add to this something, from which one sees that these deities are not regarded as self-created; for the seers of old, or, according to one poet some wonderful divine artisan, "most wondrous worker of the wonder-working gods," created them. Their chief office is to exercise benign protection and bestow wealth. Once they are invited to come to the sacrifice "with the gods," but this, of course, is not meant to exclude them from the list of gods.
The antithesis of male and female, to Bergaigne's insistence on which reference was made above (p. 43), even here in this most obvious of forms, common to so many religions, shows itself so faintly that it fails utterly to support that basis of sexual dualism on which the French scholar lays so much stress. Dyaus does, indeed, occasionally take the place of Indra, and as a bellowing bull impregnate earth, but this is wholly incidental and not found at all in the hymns directly lauding Heaven and Earth. Moreover, instead of "father and mother" Heaven and Earth often are spoken of as "the two mothers," the significance of which cannot be nullified by the explanation that to the Hindu 'two mothers' meant two parents, and of two parents one must be male,—Bergaigne's explanation. For not only is Dyaus one of the 'two mothers,' but when independently used the word Dyaus is male or female indifferently. Thus in X. 93. I: "O Heaven and Earth be wide outstretched for us, (be) like two young women." The position of Heaven and Earth in relation to other divinities varies with the fancy of the poet that extols them. They are either created, or they create gods, as well as create men. In accordance with the physical reach of these deities they are exhorted to give strength whereby the worshipper shall "over-reach all peoples"; and, as parents, to be the "nearest of the gods," to be "like father and mother in kindness." (I. 159; 160. 2, 5.)
One more attribute remains to be noticed, which connects Dyaus morally as well as physically with Savitar and Varuna. The verse in which this attribute is spoken of is also not without interest from a sociological point of view: "Whatsoever sin we have committed against the gods, or against a friend, or against the chief of the clan (family) may this hymn to Heaven and Earth avert it." It was shown above that Savitar removes sin. Here, as in later times, it is the hymn that does this. The mystery of these gods' origin puzzles the seer: "Which was first and which came later, how were they begotten, who knows, O ye wise seers? Whatever exists, that they carry." But all that they do they do under the command of Mitra.
The most significant fact in connection with the hymns to Heaven and Earth is that most of them are expressly for sacrificial intent. "With sacrifices I praise Heaven and Earth" (I. 159. 1); "For the sake of the sacrifice are ye come down (to us)" (IV. 56. 7). In VI. 70 they are addressed in sacrificial metaphors; in VII. 53. 1 the poet says: "I invoke Heaven and Earth with sacrifices," etc. The passivity of the two gods makes them yield in importance to their son, the active Savitar, who goes between the two parents. None of these hymns bears the impress of active religious feeling or has poetic value. They all seem to be reflective, studied, more or less mechanical, and to belong to a period of theological philosophy. To Earth alone without Heaven are addressed one uninspired hymn and a fragment of the same character: "O Earth be kindly to us, full of dwellings and painless, and give us protection." In the burial service the dead are exhorted to "go into kindly mother earth" who will be "wool-soft, like a maiden." The one hymn to Earth should perhaps be placed parallel with similar meditative and perfunctory laudations in the Homeric hymns:
To EARTH (V. 84).
In truth, O broad extended earth, Thou bear'st the render of the hills, Thou who, O mighty mountainous one, Quickenest created things with might. Thee praise, O thou that wander'st far, The hymns which light accompany, Thee who, O shining one, dost send Like eager steeds the gushing rain. Thou mighty art, who holdest up With strength on earth the forest trees, When rain the rains that from thy clouds And Dyaus' far-gleaming lightning come.
On the bearing of these facts, especially in regard to the secondary greatness of Dyaus, we shall touch below. He is a god exalted more by modern writers than by the Hindus!
|Written By Edward Washburn Hopkins|
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