of which we must exclaim "as! as!"'. If this interpretation is correct, we can detect in this word just the original ' shudder ' of numinous awe in the first and earliest form in which it expressed itself, before any figure of speech, objective representation, or concept had been devised to explicate it ; it bursts forth crudely and vehemently in this primal cry and is unable to name its object otherwise than as a something before which such sounds must involuntarily be uttered. Professor Geldner has kindly sent me a reference to a passage in the Kena-Upanishad (iv. 29) which seems to me to be an excellent confirmation of this and at the same time to illustrate how the primal numinous feeling did originally emerge as pure feeling, before any concept or concrete representation of it had come into being. The fine, naïve old Kena-Upanishad aims at making perceptible to the disciple that before which ' all words turn back and proceeds just as we do, by trying to produce in him an appropriate feelingreflex by means of a simile. The lines run :
This is the way It (sc. Brahman) is to be illustrated:
When lightnings have been loosened : aaah !
When that has made the eyes to be closed— aaah !—
What, then, is the devatâ, the Brahman? It is an â-caryam, i. e. ' that in whose presence wo must exclaim "aaah ! " ' And one cannot ' illustrate ' the numinous character of this ' aaah ' by any better analogy than that of the lightning here given. The unexpectedness and suddenness of the lightning-flash, its dreadful weirdness, its overpoweringness and dazzling splendour, the fright and the delight of it, give it an almost numinous impressiveness, and indeed often do produce an actual numinous impression on the mind.
This reference of Professor Geldner's seems to me all the more significant from the fact that it appears to me to adumbrate quite a new method of solving the old puzzle of the 'Brahman', and what it means. For this task philosophical speculation is too elevated, mere etymology too insufficient, a method. What is necessary in order really to get at the heart of the matter is to have rediscovered and recaptured the feelings which this word originally connoted and which thrill through it. And for this we have again a very instructive passage in that which immediately preceding the one iust quoted (Kena, iii. 15). at the same time serves to elucidate it. It is where the I)evas catch for the first time an intimation of th« 'Brahman '. They ask, in amazement, and yet obviously also in extreme eagerness : ' Kim idam yaksam ! ' of which Deussen's translation ' What marvellous thing (Wunderding) is this ?' is too tame a rendering. It is more exactly: 'What un-thing (Unding) is tin's?' in the sense in which this expression is popularly used for a thing of which no one can say what it is or whence it comes, and in whose presence we have the feeling of the uncanny. ' Yaks a', like ' Umling', is sometimes a word for a ghost, and is originally the ' unychcucr', 'monstrous', in the sense of the uncanny, e&rie, ' apparition', or spectre. And it is just as such that the ' Brahman' in this passage behaves. It does the things goblins and magical creatures usually do, vanishing suddenly like a true phantom at the climax of the transaction. Such feelings, which we meet at the commencement of the great Mysticism of Brahman, attend its coarse continually, and htt who cannot recognize and detect their presence there cannot do more than reconstruct the meagre skeleton of concepts they have left behind. And the same tiring, mutatis mutandis, Molds good also for Western Mysticism.
Another original sound in which the numinous feeling is articulated is certainly the holy syllable 'om'. It likewise has no sort of conceptual connotation. Like the particle as, it is simply an articulated sound no word, nor even a complete syllable, for the m in which it ends is not an ordinary 'm', but simply the long protracted nasal continuation of the deep 'o' sound. It is really simply a sort of growl or groan, sounding up from within as the quasi-reflex expression of profound emotion in circumstances of a numinous magical nature, and serving to relieve consciousness of a felt burden, almost physical in its constraining force. And this constraint and compulsion to expression are still recoverable to our feeling when we recapture this mood of submergence and absorption in the 'wholly other'.
This Om is exactly parallel to the similar sound in Sanskrit, Hum—like it, nothing but a numinous ejaculation, with probably 110 further significance.
It would I e a task for the history and psychology of religion alike to examine the innumerable names of gods and demons, ani perhaps also the various designations for ghost, soul, and spirit, with a view to seeing whether many of them may not simply have arisen from original numinous sounds and thus be parallels to the name dkarya, already considered.1
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