gods of the Hindus. But the writer of the passage does not think that any such being created the world, nor is he by any means sure that 'He who is its overseer in the highest heaven' is omniscient, or even able to tell how the universe came into existence.

Although in doubt about the origin of the universe, the Hindus tell us that they know that it will one day perish. They say that a day of Brahma lasts for 4,320,000,000 of our years and is called a Kalpa. A month of Brahma contains thirty days of this length, and one of his years twelve such months. Brahma lives for one hundred such years. He is now in his fifty-first year. Each Kalpa is divided into four great ages (yuga). In each of these ages men grow worse and worse, until evil reaches its climax in the fourth or Kali age. At the end of each Kalpa the deity assumes the form of Siva and overwhelms the universe, destroying 1 everything except a vast ocean, upon which rests the huge thousand-headed serpent, Sesha. Couched on Sesha the deity sleeps for a night which is as long as Brahma's day. Afterwards he awakes and again creates the world. 2

The learned among the Hindus assert that the deity alone has any real existence; all else is

1 The universe is said to be burnt up by the fire proceeding from the mouth of Vishnu (Bhagavata-Purana, Book II, chapter ii).
2 See Manu's Dharmasastra, Book I, verses 65-72; Vishnu-Purana, part i, chapter iii, verses 10, sqq.; Mahabharata, verses 11, 234, sqq.; Agni-Purana, chapter 349, verses 8-14.

illusion (maya). The deity is said to be devoid of all attributes (nirguna), inactive, unconscious, impersonal, incomprehensible, pervading all things. He is often spoken of as sack-chid-ananda (existence, thought, joy), though such a title seems to contradict the teaching which has just been mentioned. When he assumes attributes he manifests himself as Brahma, Vishnu or Siva. From another point of view, however, all things, good and bad alike, are parts of him, and he is all things. Hence the unlearned, though admitting that all that exists is the deity, consider themselves bound to worship innumerable gods, such as the sun, the moon, many of the lunar constellations, the cow, the serpent, the monkey, and such plants as the tulasi and the pipal trees. They also adore even the instruments of their daily toil.

Hindu philosophy teaches that the wise and devout man should abstain from all action of whatever sort, good or bad; for actions are said to fetter the embodied soul, which is a portion of the deity. When it completely lays aside all activity it attains true knowledge (prama), and this brings about absorption (sayujya) into the only really existent being. Such loss of personality is considered to be the highest happiness that man can attain. It is not reached until after a very large number of lives, some say 84,000, passed in this world or in some of the numerous heavens and hells of which Hindu books make mention. Thus the Chhandogya