Vedic THE literary records of the religions of India begin with the
period; Veda, which is not, as is sometimes supposed, a body of
20058°°C primitive popular poetry, but rather a collection of artificially
composed Hymns, the work, in the main, of a priestly class.
Its tone generally is ritualistic; the Hymns being intended for
use in connexion with the Soma oblation and the fire-sacrifice.
In the Veda the powers and phenomena of Nature are in-
voked as personified gods, or even as impersonal existences.
The ritual to which these Hymns were an accompaniment was
by no means of a simple type, though much less highly
developed than in the succeeding period.
The Aryan The Indo-Aryans brought little theology with them from
religion. their original home beyond the mountain barriers of India. A
few gods already in a state of decadence, the worship of
ancestors, and some simple rites are all that they possessed in
common with their western kinsfolk, among whom their con-
nexion with the Iranians was most intimate, as is shown by
the common knowledge of geography and its nomenclature.
Recent study of the Indian dialects indicates at least two
successive waves of invasion into India-the older, now
represented by the speakers of Kashmir, _Marathi, Bengali,
and Oriya; the later by those who use Panjabi, Rajasthant,
Gujarati, and Western Hindi, who came in like a wedge through
the earlier tribes, and settled about the Saraswati. Dr. Grierson
has ingeniously suggested that the contests between these
successive bodies of immigrants are represented in the Veda
by the struggle of the rival priests, Visvamitra and Vasishtha,
and by the war of the Kauravas and Pandavas, which forms
the subject of the Mlahabharata. This theory would account for
much of the varying character of the cults represented in the
older sacred literature.
The Vedas. The Rig-veda, with its supplement, the Sama-veda, was com-
posed when the Aryans had reached the point of junction of
the Punjab rivers with the Indus; the Black and White Yajur-