Imatges de pÓgina

three first Vedas (I need not here speak of the fourth), that of the Mánava Dherma Sástra, and that of the Puránas, differ from each other in pretty exact proportion to the Latin of NumA, from whose laws entire sentences are preserved, that of APPIUS, which we see in the fragments of the Twelve Tables, and that of CiCERO, or of LUCRETIUS, where he has not affected an obsolete style : if the several changes, therefore, of Sanscrit and Latin took place, as we may fairly assume, in times very nearly proportional, the Védas must have been written about 300 years before these Institutes, and about 600 before the Puránas and Itihasas, which, I am fully convinced, were not the productions of VYA'sa ; so that, if the son of Para'sara committed the traditional Védas to writing in the Sanscrit of his father's time, the original of this book must have received its present form about 880 years before Christ's birth. If the texts, indeed, which Vya'sa collected, had been actually written, in a much older dialect, by the sages preceding him, we must inquire into the greatest possible age

of the Vedas themselves : now one of the longest and finest Upanishads in the second Véda contains three lists, in a regular series upwards, of at most forty-two pupils and preceptors, who successively received and transmitted (probably by oral tradition) the

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doctrines contained in that Upanishad ; and as the old Indian priests were students at fifteen, and instructors at twenty-five, we cannot allow more than ten years, on an average, for each interval between the respective traditions ; whence, as there are forty such intervals, in two of the lists, between VYA'sa, who arranged the whole work, and Aya'sa, who is extolled at the beginning of it, and just as many, in the third list, between the compiler and YA'JNYAWALCYA, who makes the principal figure in it, we find the highest age of the Yajur Véda to be 1580 years before the birth of our Saviour, (which would make it older than the five books of MoSES) and that of our Indian law tract about 1280 years before the same epoch. The former date, however, seems the more probable of the two, because the Hindu sages are said to have delivered their knowledge orally, and the very word Sruta, which we often see used for the Véda itself, means what was heard; not to insist, that Cullu'ca expressly declares the sense of the Véda to be conveyed in the language of VYA'sa. Whether MENU or Menus in the nominative and Meno's in an oblique case, was the same personage with Minos, let others determine ; but he must indubitably have been far older than the work, which contains his laws, and, though perhaps he was never in (rete, yet some of his institutions may well have been adopted in that island, whence Lycurgus, a century or two afterwards, may have imported them to Sparta.

There is certainly a strong resemblance, though obscured and faded by time, between our Menu with his divine Bull, whom he names as Dherma himself, or the genius of abstract justice, and the Mneues of Egypt with his companion or symbol, Apis ; and, though we should be constantly on our guard against the delusion of etymological conjecture, yet we cannot but admit that Minos and Mneues, or Mneuis, have only Greek terminations, but that the crude noun is composed of the same radical letters both in Greek and in Sanscrit. · That Apis and Mneuis, says the Analyst of ancient Mythology, were both representations of some per

sonage, appears from the testimony of LYCOPHRON and

his scholiast; and that personage was the same, who ' in Crete was styled Minos, and who was also repre' sented under the emblem of the Minotaur : DIODORUS, ' who confines him to Egypt, speaks of him by the · title of the bull Mneuis, as the first lawgiver, and says, ". That he lived after the age of the gods and heroes, “ when a change was made in the manner of life among men ;

that he was a man of a most exalted soul, and a great promoter of civil society, which he benefited

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by his laws; and those laws were unwritten, and re“ceived by him from the chief Egyptian deity HERMES, 66 who conferred them on the world as a gift of the high“ est importance.”. He was the same, adds my

learned • friend, with Menes, whom the Egyptians represented

as their first king and principal benefactor, who first ' sacrificed to the gods, and brought about a great change

in diet.' If Minos, the son of JUPITER, whom the Cretans, from national vanity, might have made a native of their own island, was really the same person with MENU, the son of Brahma', we have the good fortune to restore, by means of Indian literature, the most celebrated system of heathen jurisprudence, and this work might have been entitled The Laws of Minos; but the paradox is too singular to be confidently asserted, and the geographical part of the book, with most of the allusions to natural history, must indubitably have been written after the Hindu race had settled to the south of Himalaya.

We cannot but remark that the word MENU has no relation whatever to the Moon ; and that it was the seventh, not the first, of that name, whom the Bráhmens believe to have been preserved in an ark from the general deluge : him they call the Child of the Sun, to distinguish him from our legislator ; but they assign to his brother Yama the office (which the Greeks were


pleased to confer on Minos) of Judge in the shades below.

The name of Menu is clearly derived (like menes, mens, and mind) from the root men to understand ; and it signifies, as all the Pandits agree, intelligent, particularly in the doctrines of the Véda, which the composer of our Dherma Sastra must have studied very diligently; since great numbers of its texts, changed only in a few syllables for the sake of the measure, are interspersed through the work and cited at length in the commentaries : the Publick may, therefore, assure themselves, that they now possess a considerable part of the Hindu scripture, without the dullness of its profane ritual or much of its mystical jargon. Da'Ra Shucu's was persuaded, and not without sound reason, that the first Menu of the Bráhmens could be no other person than the progenitor of mankind, to whom Jews, Christians, and Muselmáns unite in giving the name of Adam; but, whoever he might have been, he is highly honoured by name in the Véda itself, where it is declared, that 'whatever MENU

pronounced, was a medicine for the soul ;' and the sage VRIHASPETI, now supposed to preside over the planet Jupiter, says in his own law tract, that "ME

Nu held the first rank among legislators, because he ' had expressed in his code the whole sense of the Véda ;

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