The Arctic Home In The Vedas

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In light of the Arctic theory, the puzzle here referred to is solved without any difficulty. The stealing away or the carrying off of the cows need not now be taken to mean simple wasting of the days in the modern sense of the word; nor need we attribute such stories to the fancy of ancient bards and storytellers. The legend or the tradition of stealing, consuming, or carrying off the cows or oxen is but another form of stating that so many days were lost, being swallowed up in the long night that occurred at the end of the year and lasted, according to latitude, for varying periods of time. So long as everything was to be explained on the theory of a daily struggle between light and darkness, these legends were unintelligible. But as soon as we adopt the Arctic theory the whole difficulty vanishes, and what was confused and puzzling before becomes at once plain and comprehensible. In the Vedic mythology, cows are similarly said to be stolen by Vritra or Vala, but their number is nowhere given, unless we regard the story of Rijrashva (the Red-horse) slaughtering 100 or 101 sheep and giving them to a she-wolf to devour, as a modification of the story of stealing the cows. The Vedic sacrificial literature does, however, preserve for us an important relic, besides the one above noted, of the older calendar and especially the long night. But in this case, the relic is so deeply buried under the weight of later explanations, adaptations, and emendations, that we must here examine at some length the history of the Soma sacrifices in order to discover the original meaning of the rites which are included under that general name.

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