By Surendranath Dasgupta
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Extra info for A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume I
The sacred books of India, the Vedas, are generally believed to be the earliest literary record of the Indo-European race. It is indeed difficult to say when the earliest portions of these compositions came into existence. Many shrewd guesses have been offered, but none of them can be proved to be incontestably true. C. C. The ancient Hindus seldom kept any historical record of their literary, 36 religious or political achievements. The Vedas were handed down from mouth to mouth from a period of unknown antiquity; and the Hindus generally believed that they were never composed by men.
The meanings that Sâya@na the celebrated commentator of the Vedas gives of the word as collected by Haug are: (_a_) food, food offering, (_b_) the chant of the sâma-singer, (_c_) magical formula or text, (_d_) duly completed ceremonies, (_e_) the chant and sacrificial gift together, (_f_) the recitation of the hot@r priest, (_g_) great. " But it is only in the S'atapatha Brâhma@na that the conception of Brahman has acquired a great significance as the supreme principle which is the moving force behind the gods.
This word 60 was also used, as Macdonell observes, to denote the "'order' in the moral world as truth and 'right' and in the religious world as sacrifice or 'rite'[Footnote ref 1]" and its unalterable law of producing effects. It is interesting to note in this connection that it is here that we find the first germs of the law of karma, which exercises such a dominating control over Indian thought up to the present day. Thus we find the simple faith and devotion of the Vedic hymns on one hand being supplanted by the growth of a complex system of sacrificial rites, and on the other bending their course towards a monotheistic or philosophic knowledge of the ultimate reality of the universe.
A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume I by Surendranath Dasgupta