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that are strange the foe hath power", (1) as "bounteous and compassionate" (2). However, we can find out some distinctive qualifications. Mitra and Varuna have several times been men tioned as guards and upholders of the law, (3) which in our present triad is the function of Brahmá and Siva (or Rudra), the one watching the deeds and, accordingly, moulding the destinies, good or bad, of men, and the other giving reward or punishment as deserved. Aryaman also "guards men well who act uprightly following his law", (4) but while a devotee has to ask "with prayers for favour from Mitra and Varuna, the gracious Aryaman is said to be giving it unasked". (5) These are qualifications of Vishnu of the present triad. (6) Again between Mitra and Varuna, the former has been said to be "beholding men with eyes that close not" and has been called "Disposer (of destinies), (7) while Varuna is dreaded as the God causing destruction aud death. ( 8 ) It is evident therefore that the three ancient gods of the old triad, Aryaman, Varuna and Mitra, have merged into Vishnu, Siva and Brahmă, respectively, of the new triad, and this also explains why the letters, and have the particular meanings Vishnu, Siva and Brahmā respectively.
As the branches of the Aryaus separated, new gods appeared, replacing old gods, and in the Vedas themselves we can notice the superiority of Aryaman, Varuna and Mitra actually decaying To preserve the memory of these ancient gods of their forefathers and to keep up the reverence for them the Indian Aryans composed the sacred syllable Om, taking the initial letters of the three gods of the old triad. This being so, we have proof of at least a portion of the alphabet having been formed or the several sounds differentiated in India at such early a period as when the sacred syllable Om was coined. This must have been a long time after the arrival of the Aryans into India, which may be taken as in about 4000 B. C., the vernal equinox being in the asterism Mrigashira at the time (roughly 43rd to 34th century B.C.).
(1) Rig Veda. X 185. (2) Rig Veda I 36 and I 141 (3) Rig Veda I 23, I 141, III 59. (4) Rig Veda I 136. (5) Rig Veda VI 50.
(6 Curiously enough Rig Veda I 189. 7 says that when the Deities gave the milch cow to the Angirases they milked her, and Aryaman joined with them and did the work. This suggests the story of Krishna joining and living with the Ahirs in his younger days. (7) Rv. II 59. (8) Rv. I 24-9 and li aud VII 86.4.
We do not find the sacred syllable used in the Rig Veda. It was coined before the Yajur Veda was composed as we find it used in this Veda. (9) As this Veda shows the vernal equinox occuring in Krittiká (roughly 24th to 15th century B.C.), the great antiquity of the Indian alphabet is apparent.
Again, in the Taittiriyopanishat of the Yajur Veda the author gives the chief items of the science of pronunciation, as the letter, their sound, measure, effort in pronouncing them, their uniformity and joining with each other. (1) This shows that the alphabet was fully formed and developed at the time this old Upanishat was composed.
IV.-Alphabet in other countries.
It is evident, from what has been said before, that about fifteen hundred to two thousand years before Christ, India passessed a fairly well-developed system of writing. It surely started much earlier. Before going through the details on this point, let us look into the information we possess about the alphabet in other ancient countries.
The earliest attempt at writing appears to be on the coloured pebbles and other materials discovered in different parts of the world including Egypt, Crete and other places on the Mediterranean. They exhibit symbols and marks, some of which resemble letters of the alphabet, others look like rough attempts to represent trees or some lower animals. Some of these are considered as old as 6000 B. C. It is, however, doubtful if the signs were ever meant for anything beyond representing pictures of the plants, etc., or perhaps some magical signs. As there are hundreds of different designs, they could not surely be phonetic letters. Their resemblance with some of the letters was unavoid. able as both are composed of simple lines. These pieces of ancient art may, therefore, be left out of consideration here.
The system of writing has several stages of development. It starts with pictures representing the objects meant to be expressed, as, for intance, a wavy line may be drawn to represent waves; or a circle to represent a circle or a ring; the form of a
(9) Yajur Veda 4-15,
(1) Taittiriyopanishat, 1-2,
tent may represent a tent or a camp; or a lotus, the flower of that But as there are hundreds of things which cannot well be shown in pictures, a sign for one object has to represent the allied objects also. The wavy line may stand also for water, river and sea; and the ring, for metal or precious articles generally. This evidently means inconvenience in deciphering. The inconvenience increases when ideas have to be expressed by the same signs, as it cannot be done otherwise. The wavy line standing for water also conveys the idea of washing, and of cleanliness; the circle expresses totality, continuity, renewal or time; the tent give salso the idea of shikar; and the lotus may express happiness.
In the system described above, there is difficulty in writing proper names. It can be met easily if the name can be broken into parts having meanings. For instance, Campbell may be represented by pictures of a tent and a bell. But here the phonetics comes in. The picture of the tent stands for the sound "camp" and that of the bell for the sound of that word, not having to do anything with their meanings. In cases where some of the syllables of a proper name have no meaning, a sign to represent it has to be fixed conventionally. Take for example the names Henry and Waterloo, the second syllables of which have no meaning. Now it may be fixed that the picture of a ring will also represent in sound the syllable "ri", and that of a lotus the syllable "loo", and the names can be written. In fixing these it is evidently better to take an object the name of which begins with that syllable, so that it may be easily deciphered. In certain cases only a single sound, and not a syllable, may have to be represented; but it can be dealt with in the same way. The sound of "k" at the end of the name "Stark" may, for instance, be conventionally fixed to be represented by the picture of a kite and the name written by a star and a kite. This representation of syllablic sounds and necessary homophones is the second stage of development of the art of writing.
The third stage consists of reducing the pictures to simpler forms, so that writing may become easier and quicker. The general public will be able to write, and the art will not be confined to men versed in picture drawing and painting.
In the fourth stage we find the syllables broken up into single sounds, so that the alphabet consists of a number of homophones. This reduces to a great extent the number of signs, those expressing syllable sounds being done away with, and a ones introduced for the new homophones or single sounds. These latter may be fixed in the way mentioned above.
The next or the last stage is more scientific than absolutely necessary for facility of writing. It analyses the sounds, classifies them with reference to the part of the mouth they emanate from and arranges them in proper groups. In doing this it will naturally occur to design the signs representing these sounds also on some scientific principles. This will certainly make the signs or letters a little more complicated, and a cursive form will be required later.
With the above analysis before us it will be easy to compare the progress which the several ancient languages of the world made in the development of their art of writing. Let us see this.
Egyptian-The Egyptian perhaps possesses the oldest record of writing in its sacred pictographs or hieroglyphics. (1) This form of writing was very well developed in Egypt. In course of time representation of syllables and homophones was also intro. duced and the pictures were given phonetic values. The pictures were then replaced by two forms of cursive writing, one used by the priests and known by the name hieratic, and the other used by the common people called Demotic The written language of the country appears to have acquired the popular form in about 700 B. C., so the introduction of the cursive forms may be taken sometime in the 8th century B. C. Although the letters of the Hieratic Egyptian represent single sounds so far as consonants are concerned, they are not distinct as regards the vowel sounding with the consonants. The pronounciation is not therefore always certain, and scholars are of opinion that there was no real attempt made by the Egyptians to do away with their syllabary. So in Egypt writing reached only up to the third stage, as defined above. The writing of the Copts or Egyptian Christians who leaving their own, adopted the Greek alphabet in the 1st century A. D., need not be taken into account, as being comparatively modern.
(1) The oldest records belong to the 4th, 5th and 6th dynsaties, dating 4000 to 3500 B. C.
Accadian or Chaldeanæ.-This language
was in ancient days spoken in the part of the country comprised in the Western Turkistan had also its writing in pictures like the hieroglyphics of Egypt. The words in Accadian had several meanings like Sanskrita, and a picture representing one sense of a word was made to represent all. It also stood for the first syllable of a word phonetically and if this syllable had any meaning that idea was also represented by the same picture. Not only this, but if there was another word to represent the latter meaning, the same picture also stood phonetically for the first syllable of this other word. As an instance in English, the picture of a pencil might have represented a pencil, the sound "pen", a writing pen, an enclosure or pound, the sounds "en" and "pound". Different sounds were thus represented by the same symbol. This polyphony made the deciphering of the language very difficult. The Accadian writing reached the second stage of the standard set forth above. No accurate date can be assinged to it, but it was perhaps as old as the hieroglyphics of Egypt. The symbols were generally composed of straight lines and were probably the origin of the Assyrian.
Chinese. It is said that the alphabet in China migrated from the west, and if so it was taken from the Accadian. Here also each symbol stands for a word, and and words have several meanings, but as Chinese is a monosyllabic language, polyphony was not possible as in Accadian. We had hundreds of syllables represented by pictures having phonetic value. The pictures have been reduced to simpler forms to a certain extent. The Chinese, judging from the standard set forth, reached barely the third stage. Their oldest record of writing is put in 1000 B. C.
Assyrian-The Assyrian or Babylonian writing is said to have been taken by the pre-Semtic Sumerians from the Chaldeans. It had a syllabery like Chaldæan with greater number of meanings for each syllable, as the meanings allotted by the Chaldæans were also kept. The Semitic people adopted the symbols as taker by the Sumerians, but the rectilinear pictograph of the Chaldæan changed into a cuniform writing as the material used for writing