« PreviousContinue »
Nyankupon of the Oji nation, it is remarked by Riis : "The idea of him as a supreme spirit is obscure and uncertain, and often confounded with the visible heavens or sky, the upper world (sorro) which lies beyond human reach ; and hence the same word is used also for heavens, sky, and even for rain and thunder.”] The same transition from the divine sky to its anthropomorphic deity shows out in the theology of the Tatar tribes. The rude Samoyed's mind scarcely if at all separates the visible personal Heaven from the divinity united with it under one and the same name, Num. Among the more cultured Finns, the cosmic attributes of the Heaven-god, Ukko the Old One, display the same original nature; he is the ancient of Heaven, the father of Heaven, the bearer of the Firmament, the god of the Air, the dweller on the Clouds, the Cloud-driver, the shepherd of the Cloudlambs. So far as the evidence of language, and document, and ceremony, can preserve the record of remotely ancient thought, China shows in the highest deity of the state religion a like theologic development. Tien, Heaven, is in personal shape the Shang-ti or Upper Emperor, the Lord of the Universe. The Chinese books may idealize this supreme divinity; they may say that his command is fate, that he rewards the good and punishes the wicked, that he loves and protects the people beneath him, that he manifests himself through events, that he is a spirit full of insight, penetrating, fearful, majestic. Yet they cannot refine him so utterly away into an abstract celestial deity, but that language and history still recognize him as what he was in the beginning, Tien, Heaven.3
With such evidence perfectly accords the history of the
| Waitz, ' Anthropologie,' vol. ii. p. 168, etc. ; Burton, W. & W. fr. W. Afr.' p. 76.
2 Castrén, ‘Finn. Myth.' p. 7, etc.
3 Plath, Religion und Cultus der alten Chinesen,' part i. p. 18, etc. ; part ii. p. 32; Doolittle, Chinese,' vol. ii. p. 396. See Max Müller, • Lectures,' 20. S. p. 437 ; Legye, Confucius,' p. 100. For further evidence as to savage and barbaric worship of the Heaven as Supreme Deity, see chap.
Ileaven-god among our Indo-European race. The being adored by the primitive Aryan was
“... the whole circle of the heavens, for him
A sensitive existence, and a God,
The evidence of Aryan language to this effect has been set forth with extreme clearness by Professor Max Müller. In the first stage, the Sanskrit Dyu (Dyaus), the bright sky, is taken in a sense so direct that it expresses the idea of day, and the storms are spoken of as going about in it; while Greek and Latin rival this distinctness in such terms as črdlos, “in the open air,” čvòlos, “well-skyed, calm," sub divo, “in the open air,” sub Jove frigido, “under the cold sky," and that graphic description by Ennius of the bright firmament, Jove whom all invoke :
“ Aspice hoc sublime candens, quem invocant omnes Jovem.”
In the second stage, Dyaus pitar, Heaven-father, stands in the Veda as consort of Prithivî mâtar, Earth-mother, ranked high or highest among the bright gods. To the Greek he is Zeus Tatúp, the Heaven-father, Zeus the All-seer, the Cloud-compeller, King of Gods and Men. As Max Müller writes : “ There was nothing that could be told of the sky that was not in some form or other ascribed to Zeus. It was Zeus who rained, who thundered, who snowed, who hailed, who sent the lightning, who gathered the clouds, who let loose the winds, who held the rainbow. It is Zeus who orders the days and nights, the months, seasons, and years. It is he who watches over the fields, who sends rich harvests, and who tends the flocks. Like the sky, Zeus dwells on the highest mountains; like the sky, Zeus embraces the earth ; like the sky, Zeus is eternal, unchanging, the highest god. For good and for evil, Zeus the sky and Zeus the god are wedded together in the Greek mind, language triumphing over thought, tradition over religion." The same Aryan Heaven-father is Jupiter, in that original
name and nature which he bore in Rome long before they arrayed him in the borrowed garments of Greek myth, and adapted him to the ideas of classic philosophy. Thus, in nation after nation, took place the great religious development by which the Father-Heaven became the Father in Heaven.
The Rain-god is most often the Heaven-god exercising a special function, though sometimes taking a more distinctly individual form, or blending in characteristics with a general Water-god. The Dinkas of the White Nile, with a thought which travellers in their land can well understand, seem to identify their heaven-dwelling Creator with the all-producing Great Rain, under the name of Dendid; among the Damaras the highest deity is Omakuru the Rain-giver, who dwells in the far North ; while to the negro of West Africa the Heaven-god is the rain-giver, and may pass in name into the rain itself. Pachacamac, the Peruvian worldcreator, has set the Rain-goddess to pour waters over the land, and send down hail and snow. The Aztec Tlaloc was no doubt originally a Heaven-god, for he holds the thunder and lightning, but he has taken especially the attributes of Water-god and Rain-god; and so in Nicaragua the Rain-god Quiateot (Aztec quiahuitl=rain, teotl=god) to whom children were sacrificed to bring rain, shows his larger celestial nature by being also sender of thunder and lightning. The Rain-god of the Khonds is Pidzu Pennu, whom the priests and elders propitiate with eggs and arrack and rice and a sheep, and invoke with quaintly pathetic prayers. They tell him how, if he will not give water, the
land must remain unploughed, the seed will rot in the ground, they and their children and cattle will die of want, the deer and the wild hog will seek other haunts, and then of what avail will it be for the Rain-god to relent, how little any gift of water will avail, when there shall be left neither man, nor cattle, nor seed; so let him, resting on the sky, pour waters down upon them through his sieve, till the deer are drowned out of the forests and take refuge in the houses, till the soil of the mountains is washed into the valleys, till the cooking-pots burst with the force of the swelling rice, till the beasts gather so plentifully in the green and favoured land, that men's axes shall be blunted with cutting up the game. With perfect meteorological fitness, the Kol tribes of Bengal consider their great deity Marang Buru, Great Mountain, to be the Rain-god. Marang Buru, one of the most conspicuous hills of the plateau near Lodmah in Chota-Nagpur, is the deity himself or his dwelling. Before the rains come on, the women climb the hill, led by the wives of the pahans, with girls drumming, to carry offerings of milk and bel-leaves, which are put on the flat rock at the top. Then the wives of the pahans kneel with loosened hair and invoke the deity, beseeching him to give the crops seasonable rain. They shake their heads violently as they reiterate this prayer, till they work themselves into a frenzy, and the movement becomes involuntary. They go on thus wildly gesticulating, till a cloud is seen; then they rise, take the drums, and dance the kurrun on the rock, till Marang Buru's response to their prayer is heard in the distant rumbling of thunder, and they go home rejoicing. They must go fasting to the mount, and stay there till there is “a sound of abundance of rain," when they get them down to eat and drink. It is said that the rain always comes before evening, but the old women appear to choose their own moment for beginning the fast. It was to Ukko the
Macpherson, ‘India,' pp. 89, 355.
Heaven.god, that in old days the Finn turned with such prayers :
“ Ukko, thou, O God above us,
Thou, O Father in the heavens,
Let the grain with plenty rustle." Quite like this were the classic conceptions of Zeus Úétios, Jupiter Pluvius. They are typified in the famous Athenian prayer recorded by Marcus Aurelius, “Rain, rain, O dear Zeus, on the plough-lands of the Athenians, and the plains !”% and in Petronius Arbiter's complaint of the irreligion of his times, that now no one thinks heaven is heaven, no one keeps a fast, no one cares a hair for Jove, but all men with closed eyes reckon up their goods. Aforetime the ladies walked up the hill in their stoles with bare feet and loosened hair and pure minds, and entreated Jove for water; then all at once it rained bucketsfull, then or never, and they all went home wet as drowned rats. In later ages, when drought parched the fields of the mediæval husbandman, he transferred to other patrons the functions of the Rain-god, and with procession and litany sought help from St. Peter or St. James, or, with more of mythological consistency, from the Queen of Heaven. As for ourselves, we have lived to see the time when men shrink from addressing even to Supreme Deity the old customary rain-prayers, for the rainfall is passing from the region of the supernatural, to join the tides and seasons in the realm of physical science. 1 Castrén, ‘Finn. Myth.' p. 36 ; Kalewala, Rune ii. 317.
Marc. Antonin. v. 7. “Evxn 'Aonvalwv, egov, inov, piae Zeū, katà tais αρoύρας των Αθηναίων και των πεδίων.”
3 Petron. Arbiter. Sat xliv. “Antea stolatæ ibant nudis pedibus in clivum, passis capillis, mentibus puris, et Jovem aquam exorabant. Itaque statim urceatim plovebat : aut tunc aut nunquam ; et omnes redibant udi tanquam mures." See Grimin, 'D. M.' p. 160.