Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Alberuni's India (v. 1)

(London :  Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.,  1910.)



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CHAPTER I.                                 19

As in other foreign tongues, so also in Sanskrit, two
or three consonants may follow each other without an
intervening vowel—consonants which in our Persian
grammatical system are considered as having a hidden
vowel. Since most Sanskrit words and names begin
with such consonants without vowels, we find it very
difficult to pronounce them.

Besides, the scientific books of the Hindus are com¬
posed in various favourite metres, by which they intend,
considering that the books soon become corrupted by
additions and omissions, to preserve them exactly as Page 10.
they are, in order to facilitate their being learned by
heart, because they consider as canonical only that
which is known by heart, not that which exists in
writing. Now it is well known that in all metrical
compositions there is much misty and constrained
phraseology merely intended to fill up the metre and
serving as a kind of patchwork, and this necessitates
a certain amount of verbosity. This is also one of
the reasons why a word has sometimes one meaning
and sometimes another.

From all this it will appear that the metrical form
of literary composition is one of the causes which
make the study of Sanskrit literature so particularly

Secondly, they totally differ from us in religion, as second lea-
we believe in nothing in which they believe, and vice i-eiigiour^
versa.    On the   whole,  there  is very  little disputing ^"'■'"
about   theological   topics  among themselves;   at   the
utmost, they fight with words, but they will never stake
their soul or body or their property on religious contro¬
versy.    On the contrary, all their fanaticism is directed
against those who do not belong to them—against all
foreigners.    They call them mleccha, i.e. impure, and
forbid havingj^any connection   with   them, be  it  by
intermarriage  or   any other kind of  relationship, or
by sitting, eating, and drinking with them, because
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