GROWTH OF LANGUAGE AND RELIGION.
Nothing has been said in the previous chapters on the subject of the growth of language. As the careful reader might have already found out, the first seeds of language were sown in the fifth sub-race of the first race, when the sense of taste appeared. The acquisition by man of the organ of taste rendered the evolution of language a possibility; and in combination with the sense of hearing the last-named faculty led to the birth of speech. So long as the spiritual power of thought transference was retained, no want was felt of any other mode of communication between men; but the increasing grossness of the human body soon imposed upon man the necessity of finding some other method. His first attempt in this direction was the imitation of the sounds of birds and animals. This, no doubt, will be considered heretical by some schools of modern philologists who so violently deny what they call the "bow-wow" theory of language. These philosophers contend that language is coeval with reason, and in support of their views, refer, among other things, to the Greek word logos, which means both reason and speech. But it must be remembered, that language, like everything else, proceeds in cycles. Philology, no more than history, has been able to look beyond a certain segment of one of these cycles; hence has arisen a vast amount of misconception regarding the origin of the primitive man as well as all his belongings, language included. Max Müller thinks it impossible to proceed in the stratification of human history lower than the period of Aryan dispersion. Seeing how many race-waves had preceded that event, of which little or no trace is left for the ordinary eye, it is not difficult to attach its proper value to his speculations on the origin of language. No wonder that his investigations do not lead him to a state of human development where reason was unaccompanied by speech, because his method is such as to exclude examination of the state where language did not exist. The speech, which is the synonym of reason, is not the language which philologists study. The Greek logos and its Sanscrit equivalent , Vach , have a deeply mystical significance . Vach is called by a Sanscrit poet, "the immortal ray of the spirit". It is the first manifestation of the great unmanifested reality in the universe of phenomena. This is the mystical Christ of the Gnostics — the manifested Logos. Vach i s the negative aspect of Savda Brahma, the first flutter of the Cosmic Will after its great night of rest. In the symbology of the Hindus, this Vach represented as the Goddess Sarasvati, who is also known as Devasena. Her husband is the eternal celibate, Kumara. It is enough here to say, without entering into a discussion of the endless correlations of spiritual forces, that the mystical Vach is not at all what we should call language. The progressive materialization which we have already referred to, is responsible for such confusion.
The earliest language of which knowledge is attainable by any but the Initiates, is that spoken by the Atlanteans. A dialect is mentioned by Sanscrit philologists, under the name of Rakshasi Bhasa, the Atlantean tongue; but it must not be supposed that the form in which it is preserved in later Sanscrit was current among the Atlanteans with whom the Eastern Aryans came into contact. The same process of assimilation which has converted Buthair's mere into Buttermere was in full operation before the known Rakshasi dialect was formed.
Sanscrit is, of all known languages, the nearest to the hypothetical original Aryan speech.
But, as the very name of the "reformed" tongue implies, it is the cultivated dialect developed out of a pre-existing one. Of this original language, little or no knowledge now exists. It is referred to in Sanscrit as the Devabhasa — a term, wrongly applied to Sanscrit itself in succeeding ages. The initiated alone have the key to this mother-tongue of all later languages, and in all the hieratic writings this language is always employed. Among the adepts in Thibet, this secret language, original source of Aryan speech, is known as the Zansar. The sacred language of the Zoroastrians is called Zend, after its parent the Zansar.
In the elaborate ritual of ancient ceremonial magic, the incantations used were always couched in this mysterious Zansar language, which in these days is intelligible only to the Initiates, who in all countries and in all ages of this race, whether in Chaldea, Egypt, or India, have used no other for esoteric purposes.
It would be unpardonable in the scientific opinions to imply any belief in the efficacy of spells and incantations, but truth compels us to remark how, to a properly trained mystic, they may be the means of controlling some of the subtler forces of Nature. No doubt it would be wrong to suppose that, if the words of an incantation were known to an ordinary person, he would be able to employ them for any purpose, good or bad, since their potency depends more upon the rhythmic enunciation and intonation than upon the words themselves. We all know how the same words produce different effects on the hearer according to the tone in which they are set. It would not be possible to convey a correct idea of the rationale of incantations, as it lies on a plane of existence with which we are not ordinarily familiar. But some light will be thrown upon the subject by a consideration of the physiological effect of the mystic syllable om. This word, when properly pronounced, produces a certain regulation of the breathing process. No other syllable takes a longer time or taxes the vocal organs more for its enunciation. The interdependence of the mental state and that of breathing is not difficult to perceive; and it is not making a violent statement to assert that a constant repetition of this word has the effect of tranquillizing the mind, and thereby restraining the force of the passions. In incantations, sound is so modulated as to produce the same state of the body as that which invariably accompanies the generation of any desired psychic or spiritual force. A single word mispronounced, or a single accent misplaced, will destroy the whole effect, or probably produce effects the opposite of those intended. The popular superstition that the bungling magician is carried away by the jeering devil has its origin in this fact. The Vedas contain in them many invocations and hymns which no uninitiated Brahman can recite, and it is only the Initiate who knows their true properties and how to put them into use. Some of the hymns of the Rig-Veda, when anagrammatically arranged, will yield all the secret invocations which were used for magical purposes in the Brahmanical ceremonies. In the present day, there is a mass of Sanscrit writings called Mantra Sastra, or treatises on incantations; but these are later fabrications, which deluded, and still delude, the selfish aspirant for occult knowledge and power. The Atharva-Veda is a collection of all the principal invocations used by the Brahmans, but the initiated alone posses the true key to it. To the ordinary reader this collection is no better than, in the words of Max Müller, "theological twaddle".
The black magicians, too, have their peculiar formulae of ritual or spells. Scarcely any of their hellish rites is complete without some frightful incantation. If an ordinary mortal were to recite the collocation of sounds they employ, it would be sure to excite feelings of disgust and horror. The distorted face of the black magician, while repeating his incantations, is terrible to behold. Most of these incantations end with the syllable ha. This syllable, when pronounced with a peculiar jerk, will always unpleasantly affect sensitive (not necessarily nervous) persons, for it is correlated with the destructive aspect of some subtle natural forces. The fact that the efficacy depends mainly upon the intonation and accent has been mentioned; indeed, it is not unusual for sorcerers to adopt some of the formulae of true religious rites, and with change of accent turn them to their own purposes. It is generally believed that when a spell is muttered backwards, its effect is reversed; the truth being, however, that the effect is not so much due to the arrangement of words, as to the sound produced, and its accompanying psychic disturbances. An instance may be taken. In all the Brahmanical ceremonies the mystic syllable om, which is the phonetic combination of the three letters a, u, m, plays an important part, but in the rituals of the Tantrikas, the syllables are arranged differently and made to yield the sound vam. Om represents the order of evolution; vam, that of involution; the one symbolizes conservation, and is therefore associated with Vishnu; the other, sacred to Siva, is the emblem of destruction. It is hardly necessary to note the effects which low, monotonous chanting produces, especially, on children and nervous people; so also music. Even animals and serpents are amenable to the influence of sound. It is not our purpose to give an elaborate account of the use of sound and language in magical ceremonies; enough has been said to give an idea of some of the forgotten uses of human speech. Language during its infancy was almost entirely dependent upon intonation. The separation of language and music belongs to a much later epoch, and an examination of the language of the surviving tribes of the Atlanteans will establish the point. The Chinese language, which, in spite of comparatively recent modifications, has not lost its distinctive character of dependence upon intonation, is a well-known instance. It is hardly necessary to mention that some of the inland tribes of China are of pure Atlantean descent — the maritime are hybrids.
Religion as such had no existence before man developed language. Previous to that, when thoughts were so transparent as to be recognizable with the same ease with which we feel the difference of temperature; man lived in the truth embodied in the divine spark forming his true self. In these days religion has become a matter of sentiment; with the early people it was science; it was everything, governing all the affairs of life, great and small. We must not forget, however, that the religion known to the world as theirs was made up for them long after the time we now speak of.
The last remnants of this all-embracing faith can still be discovered in India. The Hindu's religion is as indispensable to him as his daily bread. One of the profoundest remarks made by a foreigner about this branch of the Aryan race, now inhabiting India, is to the effect that the Hindu eats religiously, thinks religiously, and dies religiously. One of the principal causes which lead to such widespread misapprehension of the Indian people is the failure to recognize the living, all-pervading influence of their religion upon them.
The iron conservatism of the Indian people has, in spite of all its manifold defects, had the merit of preserving the primitive spirit of religion comparatively pure. It is not surprising therefore to be told that a knowledge of the religion of the pre-Aryans must lead to all other knowledge regarding them.
The religion of the ancient people was as simple as their lives. Time came when the mind of man distorted and elaborated the simple truth that their ancestors knew and adored. A gloomier picture than the progress of error which slowly covered man with its dark wings can hardly be drawn. Starting from the absolute truth, the spiritual monad plunged deeper and deeper into the mire of illusion; intoxicated with the wine of materiality, man more and more completely lost sight of his origin and destiny.
The immediate spiritual ancestors of man, the planetary spirits, were "Sons of God" who sat near the throne of their father, and from his lips received instruction and did his sacred will. This no doubt is the metaphorical language of a later day. But there is more truth in it than the materialistic philosopher, who raises his hands in nervous horror at the very name of spirit, will be willing to admit, or the dogmatic theologian, materialist of a different order, will allow us to see. The great stream of ideation in the universal mind which results in the manifested Cosmos of beauty and love, while passing through the stage of planetary spirits, is yet unpolluted by the contact of so-called matter, the outer crust of being, the hem of the garments of truth. The transparent channel through which the vivifying energy flowed into those spirits rendered them conscious co-workers with Nature. They could always trace the thread of their life to its parent source, the great foundation of truth. For them the oracle had not yet spoken — "Know thyself": self-knowledge was a portion of their being, as natural to them as sleeping is to us. They knew the truth, no doubt, but still they beheld not her naked splendour. The great Father (the Purusha of the Brahmans) even for them was hidden in the womb of the Eternal Virgin (Mulaprakriti).
In one of the ancient Brahmanical books this is beautifully symbolized. The passage is rather lengthy, but its importance justifies our transcribing it here: —
2. Brahman appeared to them. But they did not know it, and said, "What sprite is this?"
3. They said to Agni (fire): "O Gataveda, find out what sprite this is." "Yes", he said.
4. He ran toward it, and Brahman said to him: "Who are you?" He replied: "I am Agni, I am Gataveda."
5. Brahman said: "What power is in you?" Agni replied: "I could burn all whatever there is on earth."
6. Brahman put a straw before him saying: "Burn this." He went towards it with all his might, but he could not burn it. Then he returned thence, and said: "I could not find out what sprite that is."
7. Then they said to Vayu (air): "O Vayu, find out what sprit this is." "Yes", he said.
8. He ran toward it, and Brahman said to him: "Who are you?" He replied: "I am Vayu, I am Matarisvan."
9. Brahman said: "What power is in you?" Vayu replied: "I could take up all whatever there is on earth."
10. Brahman put a straw before him, saying: "Take it up." He went towards it with all his might, but he could not take it up. Then he returned thence, and said: "I could not find out what sprite this is."
11. Then said to Indra: "O Maghavan, find out what sprit this is." He went towards it, but it disappeared from before him.
12. Then in the same space he came towards a woman, highly adorned. It was Uma, the daughter of Himavat. He said to her: "Who is that sprite?"
13. She replied: "It is Brahman." [ Max Müller, "Sacred Books of the East", vol. i. pp. 150-1. ]
This passage, it may be confidently stated, no European Orientalist has understood. Max Müller has here got into a hopeless maze of confusion. Having failed to unlock the casket, he rests satisfied with the jingling of the treasures within.
The different orders of the planetary spirits (Dhyan Chohans of the Thibetan Occultists) are here represented by Agni, Vayu and Indra, the highest of them all. It is not for our profane hands to unveil the mysteries of planetary existence so dimly adumbrated under those mystic names. It will suffice for our purpose to say that the passage has reference to the amount of truth open to the eyes of the planetary spirits. The inferior ones are conscious of the presence of Brahman, the Universal Principle, the only Truth, but fail to know its nature. Indra, the greatest among them, perceives it at a distance, but finds its place occupied by Uma Haimavati. This is deeply suggestive. Who is Haimavati? Max Müller makes a bold assertion about her. As will appear from the above extract, he translates the term as "Uma, the daughter of Himavat," and informs us in a foot-note: "Uma may be here taken as the wife of Siva, daughter of Himavat, better known by her earlier name Parvati, the daughter of the mountains." The special relationship between the wife of Siva and the Supreme Principle, Brahman, the untutored mind will seek in vain to discover. All initiated Brahmans know, however, that Uma, the daughter of the mountain, belongs to a later epoch, and has nothing to do with the present Uma called "Haimavati," a term which does not in this connection signify the daughter of the mountain Himavat. "Uma, " it is well known, means "Oh, don't!" and Haimavati is the "golden one." Uma is the Mulaprakriti, the great root of all, the real aspect of Brahman, and the ultima Thule of the real knowledge of even the Planetaries, the gods to whom she points out, the Eternal One-Life latent in her and unrealizable by them in its own nature. She is the "golden one," because gold is the invariable symbol of divine wisdom among all mystics, including the alchemists of Europe, and she is the highest object of the wisdom of the highest gods. To know the absolute consciousness, Brahman, in all its aspects, the knower must become the known and cease to have any existence in the world of phenomena.
The Aryans were the earliest inheritors of this divine knowledge, and have transmitted it, though more and more dimmed by the footprints of time, left upon it in its passage through the descending arc of the cycle, to their representatives of the present day.
The religion of the early Aryans was very simple, we have said. It was simple because it was true, and Truth is always simple. The early Aryans, unlike their planetary progenitors, had to face the great problem "Know Thyself", but they solved it satisfactorily. They knew that the Great Manifested is but the representation of the Great Unmanifested. "Verily all that is, is Brahman" — as the ancient Brahman would say. The evolution that man has undergone since the time we are speaking of, renders this sentence not easily intelligible. It must not be imagined that the thing before us as such is Brahman, but that although it changes form incessantly it is Brahman when considered apart from the changes it is subject to: the capacity of change being an inherent property of the substance itself. This is what they knew about external Nature so called. It is quite beyond the scope of the present volume to expatiate upon the idea so vaguely shadowed forth above. Those who feel interested in it must betake themselves to the teachings of Vyasa and Sankara or Buddha, as expounded by their representatives, the Mahatmas of the East.
Looking within themselves, the ancients found a something — the Self or Atma — which renders the existence of objects at all possible. This Atma they farther knew was Brahman, the universal self. When considered apart from phenomenal changes, the subject and object merge into each other and find rest in the permanent basis of all existence, Parabrahma. These were the broad features of the religious knowledge possessed by the primitive Aryans. We shall next see what bearing such knowledge had on their practical conduct. A careful consideration of a passage in the Isa Upanishad will throw a flood of light on the question: — "When thou hast surrendered all this, then thou mayest enjoy. Do not covet the wealth of any man." This translation by Max Müller, gives a fairly accurate description of what was natural to the early Aryans. Asceticism for its own sake is worse than useless, and it never touched the primitive people: greed of enjoyment is evil and hurtful, and they were never subject to it. The great beauty and grandeur of primitive life lay in its harmony with Nature: enjoyment was free from desire; conflict was unknown.
As the veil of materiality thickened around man, he ceased to worship the divine in his own nature, and ended by worshipping external objects which represented and degraded his former ideals. When the perception of darkness dawned upon man he had no love for it. The first object he worshipped in the place of the Universal Cause, was the Sun which conquered Darkness, and with it came Usha or Eos, the Dawn, the golden hour of the day when all Nature was animated by the vivifying radiance of the returning Sun. To man twilight was also the time of worship and of peace which was shared by all animate and inanimate nature. The primitive people communed with the sun and sky, and had indeed an intense appreciation of Nature in all its forms; to them large trees and high mountains were as gods. Worship of the Sun-God, and hatred for the demon of Darkness, in fact, worship of natural phenomena generally, produced mental delusions, which, indulged in through long periods of time, became objective realities to the people of a later age, with whom we find, instead of mere disordered ideas, gross material objects which originally represented those ideas. The demoralization caused by this debasing idolatry has been dwelt upon in a previous chapter.