Which First—The Egg or the Bird?
Theosophist, March, 1880
I beg to present my warmest thanks to Mr. William Simpson, F.R.G.S., the distinguished artist and antiquary, who extended last year his researches to Peshawar valley and elsewhere, and thereby so enriched the Lahore Museum, for kindly presenting me with a copy of his very valuable paper, Buddhist Architecture—Jellalabad, enriched with seven illustrations. Our thanks are none the less due to Mr. Simpson, that in one point, and a very important one too, it is impossible for either our Society or myself to agree with his conclusions. The feature of Mr. Simpson’s interesting and learned paper is, to quote the words of Mr. James Fergusson, F.R.S., Past Vice-President, that every “form of art was imported into India, and nothing ever came out of it,” (the italics are mine). Mr. Simpson builds his hasty conclusions upon the fact that most of the capitals of the pillars and pilasters in the ruins of the valley of the Kabul River, are Corinthian, and “the bases and moulding generally are such as are most unmistakably derived from the far West,” and finally that “a number of bell-shaped capitals, surmounted by double animals which look like a reminiscence of the pillars of Persepolis,” are also found in the caves of Karli, and other caves of India, as well as in the valley of Peshawar.
I will not limit my protest in this case, to merely point to the words of Mr. Fergusson, who cautiously remarks that “the similarity is, however, so remote that it is hardly sufficient to sustain Mr. Simpson’s assertion that every form of art was imported into India, and nothing ever came out of it.” But I will humbly suggest that in a country like India, whose past history is a total blank, every attempt to decide the age of the monuments, or whether their style was original or borrowed, is now pretty much as open a question as it was a century ago. A new discovery may any day annihilate the theory of the day before. Lack of space forbids me to enter upon the discussion more elaborately. Therefore, I will permit myself only to say that Mr. Simpson’s present “assertion” remains as hypothetical as before. Otherwise, we would have to decide a priori, whether India or Greece borrowed from the other in other important cases now pending. Besides “Corinthian pillars” and “double animals,” once so dear to the Persepolitans, we have, here, the solar race of the Hari-Kula (Sun family) whose deeds must have been a copy of, or the model for, the labours and the very name of the Grecian Sun-God Hercules. No less is it a matter for the consideration of philologists and archaeologists which of the two—the Egyptian Sphinx, called by them Hari-Mukh, or Har-M-Kho (the Sun in his resting place) or the lofty Himâlaya peak, also called Harimukh (the mouth of the Sun) in the range to the north of Kashmir, owes its name to the other.