Instituted in Bengal,
For Inquiring into the
History and Antiquities, The Arts,
Sciences, and Literature,
Volume the Third
On EGYPT and other COUNTRIES
Adjacent to the Ca’Li’ River, or Nile of Ethiopia, from the Ancient
Books of the Hindus.
“(Lt. Wilford) contributed a series of ten articles about Hindu geography and mythology for Asiatic Researches, between 1792 and 1810, claiming that all European myths were of Hindu origin”
My original design was to compose a dissertation entirely geographical on Egypt and other countries bordering upon the Nile. But as the Hindus have no regular work on the subject of geography or None, at least that came to my knowledge, I was under a necessity of extracting my materials from their historical poems, or as they may be called more properly their legendary tales and in them, I could not expect to meet with requisite data for ascertaining the relative situations of places. I was obliged, therefore, to study such parts of their ancient books, has contained geographical information and to follow the track real or imaginary of their deities and heroes; comparing all their legends with such accounts of holy places in the regions of the West, as have been and preserved by the Greek Mythologists, and endeavoring to prove the identity of places by the similarity of names and of remarkable circumstances. A laborious though necessary operation by which the progress my work has been greatly retarded.
The Mythology of the Hindus is often inconsistent and contradictory; and the same tale is related in many different ways. There Physiology, Astronomy, and History are involved in allegories and enigmas, which cannot but seem extravagant and ridiculous; nor could anything render them supportable, but a belief that most of them have a recondiite meaning, though many of them had, perhaps, no firmer basis than the heated imagination of diluted fanatics or of hypocrites interested in the worship of some particular deity. Should a key to their 18 Purinas exist it is more than probable that the words of them would be too intricate or two stiff with the rust of time or any useful purpose. Yet as a near coincidence between proper names and circumstances could scarce have been accidental, some light might naturally be expected from the comparison which I resolve to make.
It is true that an accurate knowledge of the old, northern and western Mythology of the Coptik and other dialects now used in countries adjacent to the Nile, of eastern languages, and above all, of Sanskrit, may, be thought essentially necessary for a work of this nature; And unfortunately, I possess few of those advantages. It will not, I hope, be considered a presumptuous as presumptuous. If I present the Asiatick Society with the results of my inquiries, desiring them to believe, that, when I seem to make any positive assertion, I only declare my own humble opinion, but never mean to write in a dogmatic style or to imitate an idea that my own conviction should preclude in any degree, the full exercise of their judgment.