VIII] RELIGIONS 419
same service to the eastern body of legends, those of Kosala
and Magadha, as the earlier epic did for the western folk-lore.
Here the veneration paid to saintly ascetics is farther intensified.
It is generally supposed to mark the extension of Brahmanism
into Southern India, but is more probably an amplification of
a Vedic Nature-myth.
The effect of these epics was to form a gallery of heroic Thereligi-
personages drawn from local tradition, who have been revered ous influ-
ence of the
by Hindus of succeeding times. Thus, in lieu of vague epics.
abstractions and the shadowy Vedic gods, now in a state of
decadence, the MahAbharata provides a series of heroic men
and women-the knightly Pandavas and their common spouse,
Draupadi, as in the Ramayana Rnma and SIta have formed
models of the life of holiness to later generations. To this
day the latter epic, transmuted into the old Eastern Hindi of
Northern India by the genius of Tulsi Das (died I624 A.D.),
is the Vaishnava Bible, and episodes from it form the subject
of the most popular village drama.
It is much more difficult to trace the stages of the evolution Sivaism
which led to the sectarian worship of Siva and Vishnu. and Vaish
Vishnu in the Rig-veda plays only a subordinate part.
Though included in the solar cultus, he is less frequently
invoked than his brother gods, Surya and Pfshan. In the
Grihya Suftras he is adored in connexion with Vak, or the
Logos; Manu names him only once. In the Mahabharata
Vishnu and Siva are separate gods, but each in turn is
identified with the All-God, and consequently each represents
Siva, again, is the natural descendant of the Vedic Rudra
combined with Peshan; the name Siva, 'the auspicious one,'
was apparently assigned to him through a feeling of euphemism,
to veil the more ruthless side of his personality. The Greek
Megasthenes (306-298 B. c.) identifies him with Dionysos, and
speaks of him as a god worshipped in the mountains. About
the end of the first century of our era, as recorded in the
Periplus, the cult of his consort, Durga, had reached and
given a name to Cape Comorin. The records of the Buddhist
pilgrims show that he was worshipped in Northern India five
centuries later. In his earliest form, then, the Aryan origin of
Siva is undoubted, and this is recognized by the Brahmans
of to-day, who specially worship him. But this does not imply
that in his later forms non-Aryan elements may not have been
added to his cultus. By some this non-Aryan side of his wor-
ship has been connected with the Deccan; by others with the