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The Bundahishn ("Creation"), or Knowledge from the Zand

Translated by E. W. West, from Sacred Books of the East, volume 5, Oxford University Press, 1897.


On the nature of the tree they call Gaokerena it says in revelation, that it was the first day when the tree they call Gaokerena grew in the deep mud within the wide-formed ocean; and it is necessary as a producer of the renovation of the universe, for they prepare its immortality therefrom. 2, The evil spirit has formed therein, among those which enter as opponents, a lizard as an opponent in that deep water, so that it may injure the Haoma. 3. And for keeping away that lizard, Ohrmazd has created there ten Kar fish which, at all times, continually circle around the Haoma, so that the head of one of those fish is continually towards the lizard. 4. And together with the lizard those fish are spiritually fed, that is, no food is necessary for them; and till the renovation of the universe they remain in contention. 5. There are places where that fish is written of as 'the Ariz of the water;' as it says that the greatest of the creatures of Ohrmazd is that fish, and the greatest of those proceeding from the evil spirit is that lizard; with the jaws of their bodies, moreover, they snap in two whatever of the creatures of both spirits has entered between them, except that one fish which is the Vas of Panchasadvaran. 6. This, too, is said, that those fish are so serpent-like in that deer water, they know the scratch (malishn) of a needle's point by which the water shall increase, or by which it is diminishing.
Regarding the Vas of Panchasadvaran it is declared that it moves within the wide-formed ocean, and its length is as much as what a man, while in a swift race, will walk from dawn till when the sun goes down; so much that it does not itself move the length of the whole of its great body. 8. This, too, is said, that the creatures of the waters live also specially under its guardianship.
The tree of many seeds has grown amid the wide-formed ocean, and in its seed are all plants; some say it is the proper-curing, some the energetic-curing, some the all-curing.
Between these trees of such kinds is formed the mountain with cavities, 9999 thousand myriads in number, each myriad being ten thousand. 11. Unto that mountain is given the protection of the waters, so that water streams forth from there, in the rivulet channels, to the land of the seven regions, as the source of all the sea-water in the land of the seven regions is from there.


Regarding the three-legged ass they say, that it stands amid the wide-formed ocean, and its feet are three, eyes six, mouths nine, ears two, and horn one, body white, food spiritual, and it is righteous. 2. And two of its six eyes are in the position of eyes, two on the top of the head, and two in the position of the hump; with the sharpness of those six eyes it overcomes and destroys. 3. Of the nine mouths three are in the head, three in the hump, and three in the inner part of the flanks; and each mouth is about the size of a cottage, and if is itself as large as Mount Alvand. 4. Each one of the three feet, when it is placed on the ground, is as much as a flock (gird) of a thousand sheep comes under when they repose together; and each pastern is so great in its circuit that a thousand men with a thousand horses may pass inside. 5. As for the two ears it is Mazendaran which they will encompass. 6. The one horn is as it were of gold and hollow, and a thousand branch horns have grown upon it, some befitting a camel, some befitting a horse, some befitting an ox, some befitting an ass, both great and small. 7. With that horn it will vanquish and dissipate all the vile corruption due to the efforts of noxious creatures.
When that ass shall hold its neck in the ocean. its ears will terrify (asahmed), and all the water of the wide-formed ocean will shake with agitation, and the side of Ganavad will tremble (shivaned). 9. When it utters a cry all female water-creatures, of the creatures of Ohrmazd, will become pregnant; and all pregnant noxious water-creatures, when they hear that cry, will cast their young. 10. When it stales in the ocean all the sea-water will become purified, which is in the seven regions of the earth -- it is even on that account when all asses which come into water stale in the water -- as it says thus: 'If, O three-legged ass! you were not created for the water, all the water in the sea would have perished. from the contamination which the poison of the evil spirit has brought into its water, through the death of the creatures of Ohrmazd.'
Tishtar seizes the water more completely from the ocean with the assistance of the three-legged ass. 12. Of ambergris also (ambar-ich) it is declared, that it is the dung of the three-legged ass; for if it has much spirit food, then also the moisture of the liquid nourishment goes through the veins pertaining to the body into the urine, and the dung is cast away.
Of the ox Hadhayosh, which they call Sarsaok, it says, that in the original creation men passed from region to region upon it, and in the renovation of the universe they prepare Hush (the beverage producing immortality) from it. 14. It is said, that life is in the hand of that foremost man, at the end of his years, who has constructed the most defenses around this earth, until the renovation of the universe is requisite.
Regarding the bird Chamrosh it says, that it is on the summit of Mount Alburz; and every three years many come from the non-Iranian districts for booty (gird), by going to bring damage (ziyan) on the Iranian districts, and to effect the devastation of the world; then the angel Burj, having come up from the low country of Lake Arag, arouses that very bird Chamrosh, and it flies upon the loftiest of all the lofty mountains, and picks up all those non-Iranian districts as a bird does corn.
Regarding Karshipt they say, that it knew how to speak words, and brought the religion to the enclosure which Yim [Jamshed] made, and circulated it; there they utter the Avesta in the language of birds.
Regarding the ox-fish they say, that it exists in all seas; when it utters a cry all fish become pregnant, and all noxious water-creatures cast their young.
The griffin bird, which is a bat, is noticed (kard) twice in another chapter (baba).
Regarding the bird Ashozusht, which is the bird Zobara-vahman and also the bird Shok, they say that it has given an Avesta with its tongue; when it speaks the demons tremble at it and take nothing away there; a nail-paring, when it is not prayed over (afsud), the demons and wizards seize, and like an arrow it shoots at and kills that bird. 20. On this account the bird seizes and devours a nail-paring when it is prayed over, so that the demons may not control its use; when it is not prayed over it does not devour it, and the demons are able to commit an offense with it.
Also other beasts and birds are created all in opposition to noxious creatures, as it says, that when the birds and beasts are all in opposition to noxious creatures and wizards, &c. 22. This, too, it says, that of all precious birds the crow (valagh) is the most precious. 23. Regarding the white falcon it says, that it kills the serpent with wings. 24. The magpie (kaskinak) bird kills the locust, and is created in opposition to it. 25. The Kahrkas, dwelling in decay, which is the vulture, is created for devouring dead matter (nasai); so also are the crow (valak) and the mountain kite.
The mountain ox, the mountain goat, the deer, the wild ass, and other beasts devour all snakes. 27. So also, of other animals, dogs are created in opposition to the wolf species, and for securing the protection of sheep; the fox is created in opposition to the demon Khava; the ichneumon is created in opposition to the venomous snake (garzhak) and other noxious creatures in burrows; so also the great musk-animal is created in opposition to ravenous intestinal worms (kaduk-danak garzhak). 28. The hedgehog is created in opposition to the ant which carries off grain, as it says, that the hedgehog, every time that it voids urine into an ant's nest, will destroy a thousand ants; when the grain-carrier travels over the earth it produces a hollow track; when the hedgehog travels over it the track goes away from it, and it becomes level. 29. The water-beaver is created in opposition to the demon which is in the water. 30. The conclusion is this, that, of all beasts and birds and fishes, every one is created in opposition to some noxious creature.
Regarding the vulture (karkas) it says, that, even from his highest flight, he sees when flesh the size of a fist is on the ground; and the scent of musk is created under his wing, so that if, in devouring dead matter, the stench of the dead matter comes out from it, he puts his head back under the wing and is comfortable again. 32. Regarding the Arab horse they say, that if, in a dark night, a single hair occurs on the ground, he sees it.
The cock is created in opposition to demons and wizards, cooperating with the dog; as it says in revelation, that, of the creatures of the world, those which are cooperating with Srosh, in destroying the fiends, are the cock and the dog. 34. This, too, it says, that it would not have been managed if I had not created the shepherd's dog, which is the Pasush-haurva, and the house watch-dog, the Vish-haurva; for it says in revelation, that the dog is a destroyer of such a fiend as covetousness among those which are in the nature (aitih) of man and of animals. 35. Moreover it says, that, inasmuch as it will destroy all the disobedient, when it barks it will destroy pain; and its flesh and fat are remedies for driving away decay and pain from men.
Ohrmazd created nothing useless whatever, for all these (kola ae) are created for advantage; when one does not understand the reason of them, it is necessary to ask the Dastur ('high-priest'), for his five dispositions (khuk) are created in this way that he may continually destroy the fiend (or deceit).


On the nature of rivers it says in revelation that these two rivers flow forth from the north, part from Alburz and part from the Alburz of Ohrmazd; one towards the west, that is the Arag; and one towards the east, that is the Veh river. 2. After them eighteen rivers flowed forth from the same source, just as the remaining waters have flowed forth from them in great multitude; as they say that they flowed out so very fast, one from the other, as when a man recites one Ashem-vohu of a series (padisar). 3. All of those, with the same water, are again mingled with these rivers, that is, the Arag river and Veh river. 4. Both of them continually circulate through the two extremities of the earth, and pass into the sea; and all the regions feast owing to the discharge (zahak) of both, which, after both arrive together at the wide-formed ocean, returns to the sources whence they flowed out; as it says in revelation, that just as the light comes in through Alburz and goes out through Alburz, the water also comes out through Alburz and goes away through Alburz. 5. This, too, it says, that the spirit of the Arag begged of Ohrmazd thus: 'O first omniscient creative power! from whom the Veh river begged for the welfare that thou mightiest grant, do thou then grant it in my quantity:!' 6. The spirit of the Veh river similarly begged of Ohrmazd for the Arag river; and on account of loving assistance, one towards the other, they flowed forth with equal strength, as before the coming of the destroyer they proceeded without rapids, and when the fiend shall be destroyed they will again be without rapids.
Of those eighteen principal rivers, distinct from the Arag river and Veh river, and the other rivers which flow out from them, I will mention the more famous: the Arag river, the Veh river, the Diglat river they call also again the Veh river, the Frat river, the Daitya river, the Dargam river, the Zondak river, the Haroi river, the Marv river, the Hetumand river, the Akhoshir river, the Navada river, the Zishmand river, the Khvejand river, the Balkh river, the Mehrva river they call the Hendva river, the Sped river, the Rad river which they call also the Koir, the Khvarae river which they call also the Mesrgan, the Harhaz river, the Teremet river, the Khvanaidis river, the Daraja river, the Kasik river, the Shed ('shining') river Peda-meyan or Chatru-meyan river of Mokarstan.
I will mention them also a second time: the Arag river is that of which it is said that it comes out from Alburz in the land of Surak, in which they call it also the Ami; it passes on through the land of Spetos, which they also call Mesr, and they call it there the river Niv. 9. The Veh river passes on in the east, goes through the land of Sind, and flows to the sea in Hindustan, and they call it there the Mehra river. 10. The sources of the Frat river are from the frontier of Arum, they feed upon it in Suristan, and it flows to the Diglat river; and of this Frat it is that that they produce irrigation over the land. 11. It is declared that Manuschihar excavated the sources, and cast back the water all to one place, as it says thus: 'I reverence the Frat, full of fish, which Manuschihar excavated for the benefit of his own soul, and he seized the water and gave to drink.' 12. The Diglat river comes out from Salman, and flows to the sea in Khujistan. 13. The Daitya river is the river which comes out from Eranvej, and goes out through the hill-country; of all rivers the noxious creatures in it are most, as it says, that the Daitya river is full of noxious creatures. 14. The Dargam river is in Sude. 15. The Zend river passes through the mountains of Panjistan, and flows away to the Haro river. 16. The Haro river flows out from the Aparsen range. 17. The Hetumand river is in Sagastan, and its sources are from the Aparsen range; this is distinct from that which Frasiyav conducted away. 18. The river Akhoshir is in Kumish. 19. The Zishmand river, in the direction of Soghd, flows away towards the Khvejand river. 20. The Khvejand river goes on through the midst of Samarkand and Pargana, and they call it also the river Ashard. 21. The Marv river, a glorious river in the east, flows out from the Aparsen range. 22. The Balkh river comes out from the Aparsen mountain of Bamikan, and flows on to the Veh river. 23. The Sped river is in Ataro-patakan; they say that Dahak [Zohak] begged a favor here from Ahriman and the demons. 24 The Tort river, which they call also the Koir, comes out from the sea of Giklan, and flows to the sea of Vergan. 25. The Zahavayi is the river which comes out from Ataro-patakan, and flows to the sea in Pars. 26. The sources of the Khvarae river are from Spahan; it passes on through Khujistan, flows forth to the Diglat river, and in Spahan they call it the Mesrkan river. 27. The Harhaz river is in Taparistan, and its sources are from Mount Damawand. 28. The Teremet river flows away to the Veh river. 29. The Vendesesh river is in that part of Pars which they call Sagastan. 30. The Kasak river comes out through a ravine (kaf) in the province of Tus, and they call it there the Kasp river; more- over, the river, which is there the Veh, they call the Kasak; even in Sind they call it the Kasak. 31. The Pedak-miyan, which is the river Chatru-miyan, is that which is in Kangdez. 32. The Daraja river is in Eranvej, on the bank (bar) of which was the dwelling of Pourushasp, the father of Zartosht. 33. The other innumerable waters and rivers, springs and channels are one in origin with those; so in various districts and various places they call them by various names.
Regarding Frasiyav they say, that a thousand springs were conducted away by him into the sea Kyansih, suitable for horses, suitable for camels, suitable for oxen, suitable for asses, both great and small; and he conducted the spring Zarinmand (or golden source), which is the Hetumand river they say, into the same sea; and he conducted the seven navigable waters of the source of the Vachaeni river into the same sea, and made men settle there.


In revelation they mention seventeen species of liquid (maya), as one liquid resides in plants; second, that which is flowing from the mountains that is, the rivers; third, that which is rain-water; fourth, that of tanks and other special constructions; fifth, the semen of animals and men, sixth, the urine of animals and men; seventh, the sweat of animals and men; the eighth liquid is that in the skin of animals and men; ninth, the tears of animals and men; tenth, the blood of animals and men; eleventh, the oil in animals and men, a necessary in both worlds; twelfth, the saliva of animals and men, with which they nourish the embryo; the thirteenth is that which is under the bark of plants, as it is said that every bark has a liquid, through which a drop appears on a twig (tekh) when placed four finger-breadths before a fire; fourteenth, the milk of animals and men. 2. All these, through growth, or the body which is formed, mingle again with the rivers, for the body which is formed and the growth are both one.
This, too, they say, that of these three rivers, that is, the Arag river, the Marv river, and the Veh river, the spirits were dissatisfied, so that they would not flow into the world, owing to the defilement of stagnant water (armesht) which they beheld, so that they were in tribulation through it until Zartosht was exhibited to them, whom I (Ohrmazd) will create, who will pour six-fold holy-water (zor) into it and make it again wholesome; he will preach carefulness. 4. This, too, it says, that, of water whose holy-water is more and pollution less, the holy-water has come in excess, and in three years it goes back to the sources; that of which the pollution and holy-water have both become equal, arrives back in six years; that of which the pollution is more and holy-water less, arrives back in nine years. 5. So, also, the growth of plants is connected, in this manner, strongly with the root; so, likewise, the blessings (afrin) which the righteous utter, come back, in this proportion, to themselves.
Regarding the river Nahvtak it says, that Frasiyav of Tur conducted it away; and when Hoshedar comes it will flow again suitable for horses; so, also, will the fountains: of the sea Kyansih. 7. Kyansih is the one where the home (jinak) of the Kayanian race is.


On the nature of lakes it says in revelation, that thus many fountains of waters have come into notice, which they call lakes (var); counterparts of the eyes (chashm) of men are those fountains (chashmak) of waters; such as Lake Chechast, Lake Sovbar, Lake Khvarizhem, Lake Frazdan, Lake Zarinmand, Lake Asvast, Lake Husru, Lake Sataves, Lake Urvis.
I will mention them also a second time: Lake Chechast is in Ataro-patakan, warm is the water and opposed to harm, so that nothing whatever is living in it, and its source is connected with the wide-formed ocean. 3. Lake Sovbar is in the upper district and country on the summit of the mountain of Tus; as it says, that the Sud-bahar ('share of benefit') is propitious and good from which abounding liberality is produced. 4. Regarding Lake Khvarizhem it says that excellent benefit is produced from it, that is, Arshishang the rich in wealth, the well-portioned with abounding pleasure. 5. Lake Frazdan is in Sagastan; they say, where a generous man, who is righteous, throws anything into it, it receives it; when not righteous, it throws it out again; its source also is connected with the wide-formed ocean. 6. Lake Zarinmand is in Hamadan. 7. Regarding Lake Asvast it is declared that the undefiled water which it contains is always constantly flowing into the sea, so bright and copious that one might say that the sun had come into it and looked at Lake Asvast, into that water which is requisite for restoring the dead in the renovation of the universe. 8. Lake Husru is within fifty leagues (parasang) of Lake Chechast. 9. Lake (or, rather, Gulf) Sataves is that already written about, between the wide-formed ocean and the Putik. 10. It is said that in Kamindan is an abyss (zafar), from which everything they throw in always comes back, and it will not receive it unless alive (janvar); when they throw a living creature into it, it carries it down; men say that a fountain from hell is in it. 11. Lake Urvis is on Hugar the lofty.


On the nature of the ape and the bear they say, that Yim [Jamshed], when reason (nismo) departed from him, for fear of the demons took a demoness as wife, and gave Yimak, who was his sister, to a demon as wife; and from them have originated the tailed ape and bear and other species of degeneracy.
This, too, they say, that in the reign of Azi Dahak [Zohak] a young woman was admitted to a demon, and a young man was admitted to a witch (pairika), and on seeing them they had intercourse; owing to that one intercourse the ... arose from them. 3. When Faridoon came to them they fled from the country of Iran, and settled upon the sea-coast; now, through the invasion of the Arabs, they are again diffused through the country of Iran.

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