This book is intended to answer two questions, viz., (1) what is the fundamental teaching of the Vedas? And (2) what light does that teaching throw on the origin and development of Religion?
It is important to point out the bearing of Vedic teaching on the profoundly interesting subject of the Origin and Development of Religion. To understand the great scripture as Mahabharata, Ramayana and the Purina’s, the knowledge of Vedic teachings is a must. The author has been greatly influenced by the works of Prof. Max Mueller, who had authored great number of books on Vedas, Upanishads and other religion's of the East.
This book is intended to answer two questions, viz., (I) what is the fundamental teaching of the Vedas? And (z) what light does that teaching throw on the origin and development of Religion?
There is no book in the English language giving a popular, succinct, and yet an adequate, account of the teaching of the Vedas, the oldest records of the Aryan nations. It is hoped, therefore, that this will supply a want lot* felt alike by missionaries, ministers, and all interested in the religious history of our fellow-subjects in India.
When I began my missionary career among the Hindus, thirty-three years ago, I felt keenly that, in order to be an efficient worker, knowledge of the religious and speculative thought of the people was absolutely necessary. But there was no book avail-able that could furnish me with such knowledge. I had to gather it little by little; at first from the works of learned specialists, and afterwards from the study of the Vedas, by the aid of pundits. The results are embodied in this volume.
The study of Comparative Religion, which has been popular on the Continent for some years, is now attracting attention in England. It is im-portant, therefore, to point out the bearing of Vedic teaching on the profoundly interesting subject of the Origin and Development of Religion in general. I have endeavored to do so in this volume: but should my conclusions in that respect be deemed erroneous by some, the value of the book, as an ex¬position of Vedic doctrines, will not be diminished in the least. And should it stimulate others, who possess learning and leisure, to study the subject more thoroughly, and expose what may be deemed untenable, none will rejoice more than myself.
I must caution the general reader against conclud¬ing that the doctrines of the Vedas, as shown in this book, constitute what is known as Hinduism, or the religion of India to-day. Hinduism is a mixture of corrupt Vedic doctrines and pre-Aryan cults. Its authoritative guides are the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, the Puranas, the Law Books and the Philosophical Treatises. But, to understand its con¬stituent elements, knowledge of Vedic doctrines is indispensable. Should life and health continue, I hope, in a subsequent volume, to treat Hinduism on the same plan as I have treated Vedism, when it will become apparent that it is far more irrational and immoral than the religion of the Aryans in the far off Vedic age.
I have no new theory, either about the literature of the Vedas, or about the aboriginal home of the Aryans. Hence the first chapter is little more than a compilation,—chiefly from the works of Professor Max Muller, whose opinions I accept in preference to those of others.
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