veda when they had reached the neighbourhood of the Sutlej
and Jumna; the Atharvan, combining the lower beliefs of
Aryans and aborigines, when the new-comers had penetrated as
far as Benares.
Theology, as we find it in the Veda, begins with the worship Vedic
of the things of heaven, and ends with the worship of the theology.
things of earth. We have, first, the worship of the sky
gods; then of those that rule the atmosphere; lastly, of those
that rule on earth. Under the first class comes the worship
of thle sun in various forms, as Stirya, 'the glowing one'; Savi-
tar, 'the enlightener'; Bhaga, 'the giver of blessings'; and
Vishnu, who, except in the kindliness of his nature, has little
in common with his later form as one of the Hindu triad.
In another form as Pishan, god of agriculture, roads, and cattle,
who is also known as Kapardin, 'he of the braided hair,' he
forms a link between the Vedic gods and Siva. Dyaus, the
shining sky, the Zeus of the Greeks, receives less special wor-
ship than might have been expected. In Varuna as the sky
god a higher plane is reached. He sits enthroned in the vault
of heaven; the sun and stars are the eyes with which he sees
all that passes on earth. He, more than any of his brother
gods, realizes the conception of personal holiness as an ideal
Among the mid-air gods, Indra gained his ascendancy on
Indian soil, where the increasing dependence of an agricultural
people on the periodical rains popularized his worship. As a
war god he fought in heaven against the demon that dispersed
the rain clouds, and was thus adopted by the Kshattriyas to lead
them on earth in their campaigns against the aborigines.
Great as are these gods of sky and air, greater still are the
earth-born gods: Agni, the fire god, as manifested in the sacri-
fice, and Soma, the moon-plant (Sarcostemma viminale, or
Asclepias acida of botanists), the worship of which is based on
its intoxicating qualities. The latter came to be identified
with the moon, a theory still farther developed in the post-
With Yama we reach a stage of distinct anthropomorphism.
He might have lived for ever, but he chose to die, and was the
first to point out to his descendants the way to the other world.
To his heaven, guarded by two monstrous dogs, the souls of
the departed are conveyed, and are adored on earth as the
Pitri, or sainted dead. To retain their place in the abodes
of the blessed, the souls need constantly to be refreshed by
the pious food-offerings of their descendants. Hence arose the