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An Historical Sketch

Book V - Hinduism

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The present book deals with Hinduism and includes the period just treated in Book IV. In many epochs the same mythological and metaphysical ideas appear in a double form, Brahmanic and Buddhist, and it is hard to say which form is the earlier.

Any work which like the present adopts a geographical and historical treatment is bound to make Buddhism seem more important than Hinduism and rightly, for the conversion and transformation of China, Japan and many other countries are a series of exploits of great moment for the history not merely of religion but of civilization. Yet when I think of the antiquity, variety and vitality of Hinduism in India—no small sphere—the nine chapters which follow seem very inadequate. I can only urge that though it would be easy to fill an encyclopædia with accounts of Indian beliefs and practices, yet there is often great similarity under superficial differences: the main lines of thought are less numerous than they seem to be at first sight and they tend to converge.

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