This goddess, representative of the Dawn, is a favourite object of celebration with the Vedic poets, and “the hymns addressed to her are among the most beautiful—if not the most beautiful—in the entire collection.”26 She is described as the daughter of the Sky, has Night for her sister, and is related to Varuna. She is at times spoken of as the wife of the Sun; at other times Agni is given as her lover; the Asvins are her friends. Indra is at one time regarded as her creator; at another time he assumes a hostile position, and even crushed her chariot with his thunderbolt. Ushas is said27 to travel in a shining chariot drawn by ruddy horses or cows. Like a beautiful maiden dressed by her mother, a dancing girl covered with jewels, a gaily-attired wife appearing before her husband, or a beautiful girl corning from her bath, she, smiling and confiding in the irresistible power of her attractions, unfolds her bosom to the gaze of the beholders. She dispels the darkness, disclosing the treasures it concealed. She illuminates the world, revealing its most distant extremities. She is the life and health of all things, causing the birds to fly from their nests, and, like a young housewife, awaking all her creatures, sends them forth to the pursuit of their varied occupations. She does good service to the gods, by causing the worshippers to awake, and the sacrificial fires to be lighted. She is asked to arouse only the devout and liberal, while she allows the niggardly to sleep on. She is young, being born every day; and yet she is old, being immortal, wearing out the lives of successive generations, which disappear one after another, whilst she continues undying. The souls of the departed are said to go to her and to the sun. In the following lines 28 will be found the main teaching of the Vedas respecting this goddess:— “Hail, ruddy Ushas, golden goddess, borne Upon thy shining car, thou comest like A lovely maiden by her mother decked, Disclosing coyly all thy hidden grace To our admiring eyes; or like a wife Unveiling to her lord, with conscious pride, Beauties which, as he gazes lovingly, Seem fresher, fairer, each succeeding morn. Through years and years thou hast lived on, and yet Thou’rt ever young. Thou art the breath and life Of all that breathes and lives, awaking day by day Myriads of prostrate sleepers, as from death, Causing the birds to flutter in their nests, And rousing men to ply with busy feet Their daily duties and appointed tasks, Toiling for wealth, or pleasure, or renown.” In the following verses by Dr. Muir29 we have a still more vivid picture of this goddess as represented in the Vedic hymns:— “Hail, Ushas, daughter of the sky, Who, borne upon thy shining car By ruddy steeds from realms afar, And ever lightening drawest nigh— “Thou sweetly smilest, goddess fair, Disclosing all thy youthful grace, Thy bosom bright, thy radiant face, And lustre of thy golden hair— “She shines a fond and winning bride, Who robes her form in brilliant guise, And to her lord’s admiring eyes Displays her charms with conscious pride— “Or virgin by her mother decked, Who, glorying in her beauty, shows In every glance her power she knows All eyes to fix, all hearts subject— “Or actress, who by skill in song And dance, and graceful gestures light, And many-coloured vestures bright, Enchants the eager, gazing throng— “Or maid, who, wont her limbs to lave In some cold stream among the woods, Where never vulgar eye intrudes, Emerges fairer from the wave— “But closely by the amorous Sun Pursued and vanquished in the race, Thou soon art locked in his embrace, And with him blendest into one. “Fair Ushas, though through years untold Thou hast lived on, yet thou art born Anew on each succeeding morn, And so thou art both young and old. “As in thy fated ceaseless course Thou risest on us day by day, Thou wearest all our lives away With silent, ever-wasting force. “Their round our generations run: The old depart, and in their place Springs ever up a younger race, Whilst thou, immortal, lookest on. “All those who watched for thee of old Are gone, and now ’tis we who gaze On thy approach; in future days Shall other men thy beams behold. “But ’tis not thoughts so grave and sad Alone that thou dost with thee bring, A shadow o’er our hearts to fling Thy beams returning make us glad.Thy sister, sad and sombre Night, With stars that in the blue expanse, Like sleepless eyes, mysterious glance, At thy approach is quenched in light; “And earthly forms, till now concealed Behind her veil of dusky hue, Once more come sharply out to view, By thine illuming glow revealed. “Thou art the life of all that lives, The breath of all that breathes; the sight Of thee makes every countenance bright, New strength to every spirit gives. “When thou dost pierce the murky gloom, Birds flutter forth front every brake, All sleepers as from death awake, And men their myriad tasks resume. “Some, prosperous, wake in listless mood, And others every nerve to strain The goal of power or wealth to gain, Or what they deem the highest good. “But some to holier thoughts aspire, In hymns the race celestial praise, And light, on human Hearths to blaze, The heaven-born sacrificial fire. “And not alone do bard and priest Awake—the gods thy power confess By starting into consciousness When thy first rays suffuse the east; “And hasting downward from the sky, They visit men devout and good, Consume their consecrated food, And all their longings satisfy. “Bright goddess, let thy genial rays To us bring store of envied wealth In kine and steeds, and sons, with health, And joy of heart, and length of days.” In the later writings we find merely the name of Ushas. The people lost much of their poetic fire; hence the more human and practical deities caused the more poetical ones to pass into oblivion. Some of the figures in the preceding extracts are most beautifully drawn. The changing colours of the dawn are compared to the many-coloured robes of the dancing girl; the golden tipped clouds that appear ere the sun shines in his strength, are like the jewels of a bride decked for her husband; whilst the quiet modesty of the dawn herself is like a shy maiden, conscious indeed of her beauty, entering society under the protection of her mother. And from the last four lines of the metrical sketch it will be noticed that she was believed to be able to bestow upon her worshippers cattle, horses, sons, health, joy, and length of days.