Images de page
PDF
ePub

NOTE VI. (Page 3.)

(1) William Robertson, in the second edition (1794) of his work, "An Historical Disquisition concerning Ancient India" (page 292), says: "It may be considered as the general result of all the inquiries, reasonings, and calculations with respect to Indian astronomy, which have hitherto been made public, that the motion of the heavenly bodies, and more particularly their situation at the commencement of the different epochs to which the four sets of tables refer, are ascertained with great accuracy; and that many of the elements of their calculations, especially for very remote ages, are verified by an astonishing coincidence with the tables of the modern astronomy of Europe, when improved by the latest and most nice deductions from the theory of gravitation. These conclusions are rendered particularly interesting by the evidence which they afford of an advancement in science unexampled in the history of rude nations."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

One of the astronomical tables referred to by Mr. Robertson goes back to the year 3102 before the Christian era; that is, a century previous to the time when the Aryans established their first settlements on the banks of the river Saraswati, according to Mr. Adolphe Pictet ("Les Origines Indo-Europiennes"). At that time the Brahmins were not the powerful caste and corporation of learned philosophers which they became after the Aryans made themselves masters of HindoThat country was then under the sway of the highly

stan.

civilized Nâgás. These were Maya colonists that, having settled in very remote ages in the Dekkan, by little and little had extended their dominion over the less cultured aborigines. The Brahmins, it is well known, borrowed their system of cosmogony and acquired their knowledge of astronomy, as well as all other sciences and the arts of civilization, from the Nâgás, whom, afterward, they relentlessly persecuted.

.

Again, Mr. Robertson says (page 296): "It is accordingly for those very remote ages (about five thousand years distant from the present) that their astronomy is most accurate, and the nearer we come down to our own times, the more the conformity of its results with ours diminishes. It seems reasonable to suppose that the time when its rules are most accurate is the time when the observations were made on which these rules are founded. The superior perfection of the Indian tables becomes always more conspicuous as we go farther back into antiquity. This shows, likewise, how difficult it is to construct any astronomical tables which will agree with the state of the heavens for a period so remote from the time when the tables are constructed as four or five thousand years. It is only from astronomy in its most advanced state, such as it has attained in modern Europe, that such accuracy is to be expected." Again (page 297): "When an estimate is endeavored to be made of the geometrical skill necessary for the construction of the Indian tables and rules, it is found to be very considerable; and, besides the knowledge of elementary geometry, it must have required plane and spherical trigonometry, or something equivalent to them, together with certain methods of approximating to the values of geometrical magnitudes, which seem to rise very far above the elements of any of those sciences. Some of these last mark also very

clearly that the places to which these tables are adapted must be situated between the tropics, because they are altogether inapplicable at a greater distance from the equator." And (page 298): "From this long induction, the conclusion which seems obviously to result is that the Indian astronomy is founded upon observations which were made at a very early period; and when we consider the exact agreement of the places which they assign to the sun and moon and other heavenly bodies, at that epoch, with those deduced from the tables of De la Caille and Mayer, it strongly confirms the truth of the position which I have been endeavoring to establish concerning the early and high state of civilization in India."

NOTE VII. (Page 15.)

(1) In Maya there are several words for "ocean,

ocean," " sea" all conveying the idea of fiery or yellow liquid. To comprehend the motives that prompted those who applied these names to the element by which the planet is mostly covered would require a thorough acquaintance with the geological notions of the ancient Maya scientists. But when we reflect that names were generally given to objects by onomatopoeia, those of the sea may perhaps shadow such notions. A long dissertation on the subject would here be certainly out of place. I will therefore content myself with giving the etymon of the words, leaving it to each reader to draw his own conclusions. By consulting Maya dictionaries we find the various words for "sea, ocean," to be kanah, kaanab, kaknab, kankab. The first I have explained in the text, according to the monumental inscriptions and the characters in ancient Maya books, in which a serpent head invariably stands as symbol of the sea-the Mighty Serpent.

99.66

The second, kaanab, is a word composed of two primitives-kaa, "bitter;" and nab, which has various meanings— "gold," "unction," "palm of the hand." In the countries of the Western Continent it was customary to anoint the kings by pouring over their heads and bodies gold-dust held in the palm of the hand. Is it a coincidence that the god, among

1

1 Fr. Pedro Simon, Noticias Historiales de las Conquistas de Tierra Firme en el Nuevo Reino de Grenada. Apud Kingsborough, vol. iii.

the Assyrians, who presided over the unction of the kings, was called Nabo; and that Nub, in Egypt, was the surname of the god Set,' and Neb meant lord? In our day Nabob is still the title for a viceroy in India. It also means a man of great wealth.2

In aftertimes gold was replaced by oil in the royal unction, and by lustral water, poured from the palm of the hand, in the ceremony of purification.

The third word, kaknab, is composed of two primitives -kak, "fire," and nab, "the palm of the hand." Like the Egyptians, the Mayas figured the earth as an old man with his face turned toward the east, holding in his hand the spirit of life, Fire, the "soul of the universe," the primordial cause of all things, according to the Yajur-veda,' and to all ancient philosophers whose maxim was Corpus est terra, anima est ignis.

The Aryans, and all peoples allied to them, represented the earth as a woman and called it "Mother Earth," even as we do to-day. Would not this show that the Egyptians were not of Aryan stock as some Egyptologists pretend; but, on the other hand, that they were closely related to the Mayas ?—a fact which becomes more and more evident as we study deeper their traditions, their manners, and their customs, and compare more carefully their cosmogonic conceptions and astronomical notions.

As to the fourth word, kankab, it is also composed of the two primitives, kan, "yellow," and kab, "hand." It seems

'Henry Brugsch, History of Egypt under the Pharaohs, vol. i., pp. 212236; vol. ii., pp. 120–246.

2 Webster's Dictionary.

' Codex Cortesianus, plates vii.-viii. See illustrations, plates lv.-lvi. Asiatic Researches, vol. viii., pp. 431-433.

« PrécédentContinuer »