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

This digital edition copyright © 1995 by Joseph H. Peterson. All rights reserved.

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

CHAPTER 24. The chieftainship of people and animals

On the chieftainship of men and animals and every single thing it says in revelation, that first of the human species Gayomard was produced, brilliant and white, with eyes which looked out for the great one, him who was here the Zarathushtrotema (chief high-priest); the chieftainship of all things was from Zartosht. 2. The white ass-goat, which holds its head down, is the chief of goats, the first of those species created. 3. The black sheep which is fat and white-jawed is the chief of sheep; it was the first of those species created. 4. The camel with white-haired knees and two humps is the chief of camels. 5. First the black-haired ox with yellow knees was created; he is the chief of oxen. 6. First the dazzling white (arus) horse, with yellow ears, glossy hair, and white eyes, was produced; he is the chief of horses. 7. The white, cat-footed ass is the chief of asses. 8. First of dogs the fair (arus) dog with yellow hair was produced; he is the chief of dogs. 9. The hare was produced brown (bur); he is the chief of the wide-travelers. 10. Those beasts which have no dread whatever of the hand are evil. 11. First of birds the griffin of three natures was created, not for here (this world), for the Karshipt is the chief, which they call the falcon (chark), that which revelation says was brought to the enclosure formed by Yim [Jamshed]. 12. First of fur animals the white ermine was produced; he is the chief of fur animals; as it says that it is the white ermine which came unto the assembly of the archangels. 13. The Kar-fish, or Arizh, is the chief of the water-creatures. 14. The Daitya river is the chief of streams. 15. The Daraja river is the chief of exalted rivers, for the dwelling of the father of Zartosht was on its banks, and Zartosht was born there. 16. The hoary forest is the chief of forests. 17. Hugar the lofty, on which the water of Aredvisur flows and leaps, is the chief of summits, since it is that above which is the revolution of the constellation Sataves, the chief of reservoirs. 18. The Haoma which is out-squeezed is the chief of medicinal plants. 19. Wheat is the chief of large-seeded grains. 20. The desert wormwood is the chief of non-medicinal plants. 21. The summer vetch, which they also call 'pag' (gavirs), is the chief of small-seeded grains. 22. The kusti (sacred thread-girdle) is the chief of clothes. 23. The Bazayvana is the chief of seas. 24. Of two men, when they come forward together, the wiser and more truthful is chief.
This, too it says in revelation, that Ohrmazd created the whole material world one abode, so that all may be one; for there is much splendor and glory of industry in the world. 26. Whatsoever he performs, who practices that which is good, is the value of the water of life; since water is not created alike in value, for the undefiled water of Aredvisur is worth the whole water of the sky and earth of Xwaniratha, except the Arag river, created by; Ohrmazd. 27. Of trees the myrtle and date, on which model, it is said, trees were formed, are worth all the trees of Xwaniratha, except the Gaokerena tree with which they restore the dead.
Of mountains Mount Aparsen's beginning is in Sagastan and end in Khujistan, some say it is all the mountains of Pars, and is chief of all mountains except Alburz. 29. Of birds Chamros is chief, who is worth all the birds in Xwaniratha, except the griffin of three natures. 30. The conclusion is this, that every one who performs a great duty has then much value.

CHAPTER 25. The religious calendar

On matters of religion it says in revelation thus: 'The creatures of the world were created by me complete in three hundred and sixty-five days,' that is, the six periods of the Gahambars which are completed in a year. 2. It is always necessary first to count the day and afterwards the night, for first the day goes off, and then the night comes on. 3. And from the season (gas) of Maidyoshahem, which is the auspicious day Khwarshed of the month Tishtar, to the season of Maidyarem, which is the auspicious day Warharan of the month Din [Dae]-- the shortest day -- the night increases; and from the season of Maidyarem to the season of Maidyoshahem the night decreases and the day increases. 4. The summer day is as much as two of the shortest winter days, and the winter night is as much as two of the shortest summer nights. 5. The summer day is twelve Hasars, the night six Hasars; the winter night is twelve Hasars, the day six; a Hasar being a measure of time and, in like manner, of land. 6. In the season of Hamaspathmaidyem, that is, the five supplementary days at the end of the month Spandarmad, the day and night are again equal.
As from the auspicious day Ohrmazd of the month Frawardin to the auspicious day Anagran of the month Mihr is the summer of seven months, so from the auspicious day Ohrmazd of the month Aban to the auspicious month Spandarmad, on to the end of the five supplementary days, is the winter of five months. 8. The priest fulfills the regulation (vachar) about a corpse and other things, by this calculation as to summer and winter. 9. In those seven months of summer the periods (gas) of the days and nights are five since one celebrates the Rapithwin namely, the period of day-break is Hawan, the period of midday is Rapithwin, the period of afternoon is Uzerin, when the appearance of the stars has come into the sky until midnight is the period of Aiwisruthrem, from midnight until the stars become imperceptible is the period of Ushahin. 10. In winter are four periods, for from daybreak till Uzerin is all Hawan, and the rest as I have said; and the reason of it is this, that the appearance of winter is in the direction of the north, where the regions Wourubareshti and Wourujareshti are; the original dwelling of summer, too, is in the south, where the regions Fradadhafshu and Widadhafshu are; on the day Ohrmazd of the auspicious month Aban the winter acquires strength and enters into the world, and the spirit of Rapithwin goes from above-ground to below-ground, where the spring (khani) of waters is, and diffuses warmth and moisture in the water, and so many roots of trees do not wither with cold and drought. 11. And on the auspicious day Adar of the month Din the winter arrives, with much cold, at Eranvej; and until the end, in the auspicious month Spandarmad, winter advances through the whole world; on this account they kindle a fire everywhere on the day Adar of the month Din, and it forms an indication that winter has come. 12. In those five months the water of springs and conduits is all warm, for Rapithwin keeps warmth and moisture there, and one does not celebrate the period of Rapithwin. 13. As the day Ohrmazd of the month Frawardin advances it diminishes the strength which winter possesses, and summer comes in from its own original dwelling, and receives strength and dominion. 14. Rapithwin comes up from below-ground, and ripens the fruit of the trees; on this account the water of springs is cold in summer, for Rapithwin is not there; and those seven months one celebrates the Rapithwin, and summer advances through the whole earth. 15. And yet in the direction of Hindustan, there where the original dwelling of summer is nearer, it is always neither cold nor hot; for in the season which is the dominion of summer, the rain always dispels most of the heat, and it does not become perceptible; in the winter rain does not fall, and the cold does not become very perceptible. 16. In the northern direction, where the preparation of winter is, it is always cold; for in the summer mostly, on account of the more oppressive winter there, it is not possible so to dispel the cold that one might make it quite warm. 17. In the middle localities the cold of winter and heat of summer both come on vehemently.
Again, the year dependent on the revolving moon is not equal to the computed year on this account, for the moon returns one time in twenty-nine, and one time in thirty days, and there are four hours (zaman) more than such a one of its years; as it says, that every one deceives where they speak about the moon (or month), except when they say that it comes twice in sixty days. 19. Whoever keeps the year by the revolution of the moon mingles summer with winter and winter with summer.
This, too, it says, that the auspicious month Frawardin, the month Ardwahisht, and the month Hordad are spring; the month Tishtar, the month Amurdad, and the month Shahrewar are summer; the month Mihr, the month Aban, and the month Adar are autumn; the month Din, the month Vohuman, and the month Spandarmad are winter. 21. And the sun comes from the sign (khurdak) of Aries, into which it proceeded in the beginning, back to that same place in three hundred and sixty-five days and six short times (hours), which are one year. 22. As every three months it (the sun) advances through three constellations, more or less, the moon comes, in a hundred and eighty days, back to the place out of which it traveled in the beginning.

CHAPTER 26. Measuring distances

1. A Hasar1 on the ground is a Parasang of one thousand steps of the two feet. (2) A Parasang2 is a measure as much as a far-seeing man may look out, see a beast of burden, and make known that it is black or white. (3) And the measure of a man is eight medium spans3. 1. Av. hâthra of Vd2.25, Vd8.100-102, Tishtar Yasht 23, 29. The statements regarding the length of a Hasar are rather perplexing, for we are told that it 'is like a Parasang' (Chap. 14.4), that 'the length of a Hasar is one-fourth of a Parasang (Chap. 16.7), and that 'a medium Hasar on the ground, which they also call a Parasang, is a thousand steps of the two feet when walking with propriety' (Farhang-i Oim-khaduk, ed. Hosh. p. 42), To reconcile these statements we must conclude that a Hasar is like a Parasang merely in the sense of being a long measure of distance, that it is really a mille passus or mile of the Romans, and that it is a quarter of the actual Parasang. At the same time, as it was usual to call a Hasar by the name of a Parasang, we are often left in doubt whether a mile or a league is meant, when a Hasar or Parasang is mentioned. The Farhang-i Oim-khaduk (p. 41) also mentions other measures of distance, such as the tachar (Av. tachara) of two Hasars, the asvâst (or aêast) of four Hasars, the dashmêst (Av. dakhshmaiti) of eight Hasaras, and the yôjêst (Av. yijaiasti or yujaiasti) of sixteen Hasars.

2. A Parasang is usually from 3 1/2 to 4 English miles, but perhaps a Hasar is meant here.

3. Reading vitast-i miyânak instead of vitast damânak. The Farhang-i Oim-khaduk (p. 41) mentions three kinds of spans, the Av. vitasti (Vd8.76, 78, Vd17.5) of twelve finger-breadths (angûst), or about 9 inches, which is a full span between the thumb and little finger (the one mentioned in the text); the Av. dishti (Vd17.5) of ten finger-breadths, or about 7 1/2 inches, which is a span between the thumb and middle finger; and the Av. uzashti (Pahl. lâlâ-asht) of eight finger-breadths, or about 6 inches, which is a span between the thumb and fore-finger.

CHAPTER 27. The nature of plants

On the nature of plants it says in revelation, that, before the coming of the destroyer, vegetation had no thorn and bark about it; and, afterwards, when the destroyer came, it became coated with bark and thorny, for antagonism mingled with every single thing; owing to that cause vegetation is also much mixed with poison, like Bish the height of hemp (kand), that is poisonous, for men when they eat it die.
In like manner even as the animals, with grain of fifty and five species and twelve species of medicinal plants, have arisen from the primeval ox, ten thousand species among the species of principal plants, and a hundred thousand species among ordinary plants have grown from all these seeds of the tree opposed to harm, the many-seeded, which has grown in the wide-formed ocean. 3. When the seeds of all these plants, with those from the primeval ox, have arisen upon it, every year the bird strips that tree and mingles all the seeds in the water; Tishtar seizes them with the rain-water and rains them on to all regions. 4. Near to that tree the white Haoma, the healing and undefiled, has grown at the source of the water of Aredvisur; every one who eats it becomes immortal, and they call it the Gaokerena tree, as it is said that Haoma is expelling death; also in the renovation of the universe they prepare its immortality therefrom; and it is the chief of plants.
These are as many genera of plants as exist: trees and shrubs, fruit-trees, corn, flowers, aromatic herbs, salads, spices, grass, wild plants, medicinal plants, gum plants, and all producing oil, dyes, and clothing. 6. I will mention them also a second time: all whose fruit is not welcome as food of men, and are perennial (salvar), as the cypress, the plane, the white poplar, the box, and others of this genus, they call trees and shrubs (dar va dirakht). 7. The produce of everything welcome as food of men, that is perennial, as the date, the myrtle, the lote-plum, the grape, the quince, the apple, the citron, the pomegranate, the peach, the fig, the walnut, the almond, and others in this genus, they call fruit (mivak). 8. Whatever requires labor with the spade, and is perennial, they call a shrub (dirakht). 9. Whatever requires that they take its crop through labor, and its root withers away, such as wheat, barley, grain, various kinds of pulse, vetches, and others of this genus, they call corn (jurdak). 10. Every plant with fragrant leaves, which is cultivated by the hand-labor of men, and is perennial (hamvar), they call an aromatic herb (siparam). 11. Whatever sweet-scented blossom arises at various seasons through the hand-labor of men, or has a perennial root and blossoms in its season with new shoots and sweet-scented blossoms, as the rose, the narcissus, the jasmine, the dog-rose (nestarun), the tulip, the colocynth (kavastik), the pandanus (kedi), the kamba, the ox-eye (heri), the crocus, the swallow-wort (zarda), the violet, the karda, and others of this genus, they call a flower (gul). 12. Everything whose sweet-scented fruit, or sweet-scented blossom, arises in its season, without the hand-labor of men, they call a wild plant (vahar or nihal). 13. Whatever is welcome as food of cattle and beasts of burden they call grass (giyah). 14. Whatever enters into cakes (pesh-parakiha) they call spices (avzarika). 15. Whatever is welcome in eating of bread, as torn shoots of the coriander, water-cress (kakij), the leek, and others of this genus, they call salad (terak). 16. Whatever is like spinning cotton, and others of this genus, they call clothing plants (jamak). 17. Whatever lentil is greasy, as sesame, dushdang, hemp, zandak, and others of this genus, they call an oil-seed (rokano). 18. Whatever one can dye clothing with, as saffron, sapan-wood, zachava, vaha, and others of this genus, they call a dye-plant (rag). 19. Whatever root, or gum, or wood is scented, as frankincense, varasht, kust, sandalwood, cardamom, camphor, orange-scented mint, and others of this genus, they call a scent (bod). 20. Whatever stickiness comes out from plants they call gummy (zadak). 21. The timber which proceeds from the trees, when it is either dry or wet, they call wood (chiba). 22. Every one of all these plants which is so, they call medicinal (daruk).
The principal fruits are of thirty kinds (khaduinak), and ten species (sardak) of them are fit to eat inside and outside, as the fig, the apple, the quince, the citron, the grape, the mulberry, the pear, and others of this kind; ten are fit to eat outside, but not fit to eat inside, as the date, the peach, the white apricot, and others of this kind; those which are fit to eat inside, but not fit to eat outside, are the walnut, the almond, the pomegranate, the coconut, the filbert, the chestnut, the pistachio nut, the vargan, and whatever else of this description are very remarkable.
This, too, it says, that every single flower is appropriate to an angel (Amahraspand), as the white jasmine (saman) is for Vohuman, the myrtle and jasmine (yasmin) are Ohrmazd's own, the mouse-ear (or sweet marjoram) is Ardwahist's own, the basil-royal is Shahrewar's own, the musk flower is Spandarmad's, the lily is Hordad's, the chamba is Amurdad's, Din-pavan-Adar has the orange-scented mint (vadrang-bod), Adar has the marigold (adargun), the water-lily is Aban's, the white marv is Khwarshed's, the ranges is Mah's, the violet is Tishtar's, the meren is Gosh's, the karda is Din-pavan-Mihr's, all violets are Mihr's, the red chrysanthemum (kher) is Srosh's, the dog-rose (nestran) is Rashn's, the cockscomb is Frawardin's, the sisebar is Warharan's, the yellow chrysanthemum is Ram's, the orange-scented mint is Wad's, the trigonella is Din-pavan-Din's, the hundred-petalled rose is Din's, all kinds of wild flowers (vahar) are Ard's, Ashtad has all the white Haoma, the bread-baker's basil is Asman's, Zamyad has the crocus, Mahraspand has the flower of Ardashir, Anagran has this Haoma of the angel Haoma, of three kinds.
It is concerning plants that every single kind with a drop of water on a twig (teh) they should hold four finger-breadths in front of the fire; most of all it is the lotos (kunar) they speak of.

CHAPTER 28. On the evil-doing of Ahriman and the demons

On the evildoing of Ahriman and the demons it says in revelation, that the evil which the evil spirit has produced for the creation of Ohrmazd it is possible to tell by this winter; and his body is that of a lizard (vazagh) whose place is filth (kalch). 2. He does not think, nor speak, nor act for the welfare (nadukih) of the creatures of Ohrmazd; and his business is unmercifulness and the destruction of this welfare, so that the creatures which Ohrmazd shall increase he will destroy; and his eyesight (chashm michihsn) does not refrain from doing the creatures harm. 3. As it says that, 'ever since a creature wag created by us, I, who am Ohrmazd, have not rested at ease, on account of providing protection for my own creatures; and likewise not even he, the evil spirit, on account of contriving evil for the creatures.' 4. And by their devotion to witchcraft (yatuk-dinoih) he seduces mankind into affection for himself and disaffection to Ohrmazd, so that they forsake the religion of Ohrmazd, and practice that of Ahriman. 5. He casts this into the thoughts of men, that this religion of Ohrmazd is naught, and it is not necessary to be steadfast in it. 6. Whoever gives that man anything, in whose law (dad) this saying is established, then the evil spirit is propitiated by him, that is, he has acted by his pleasure.
The business of Akoman is this, that he gave vile thoughts and discord to the creatures. 8. The business of the demon Andar is this, that he constrains the thoughts of the creatures from deeds of virtue, just like a leader who has well-constrained (sardar-i khup afsardo); and he casts this into the thoughts of men, that it is not necessary to have the sacred shirt [sudre] and thread-girdle [kusti]. 9. The business of the demon Savar, that is a leader of the demons, is this, that is, misgovernment, oppressive anarchy, and drunkenness. 10. The business of the demon Naikiyas is this, that he gives discontent to the creatures; as it says, that should this one give anything to those men whose opinion (dad) is this, that it is not necessary to have the sacred shirt and thread-girdle, then Andar, Savar, and Naikiyas are propitiated by him. 11. The demon Taprev is he who mingles poison with plants and creatures, as it says thus: 'Taprev the frustrater, and Zairich the maker of poison.' 12. All those six, it is said, are arch-fiends of the demons; the rest are cooperating and confederate with them. 13. This, too, it says, that] should one give [anything to] a man who says [that it is proper to have one boot], and in his law walking with one boot [is established, then] the fiend Taprev is propitiated [by him].
The demon-Taromat [is he who] produces disobedience; the demon Mitrokht is the liar (drojan) of the evil spirit; the demon Arashk ('malice') is the spiteful fiend of the evil eye. 15. Theirs are the same appliances as the demon Eshm's, as it says that seven powers are given to Eshm, that he may utterly destroy the creatures therewith; with those seven powers he will destroy seven of the Kayanian heroes in his own time, but one will remain. 16. There where Mitrokht ('falsehood') arrives, Arashk ('malice') becomes welcome, [and there where Arashk is welcome] Eshm lays a foundation, and there where Eshm has a foundation, many creatures perish, and he causes much non-Iranianism. 17. Eshm mostly contrives all evil for the creatures of Ohrmazd, and the evil deeds of those Kayanian heroes have been more complete through Eshm, as it says, that Eshm, the impetuous assailant, causes them most.
The demon Vizaresh is he who struggles with the souls of men which have departed, those days and nights when they remain in the world; he carries them on, terror-stricken, and sits at the gate of hell. 19. The demon Uda is he who, when a man sits in a private place, or when he eats at meals, strikes his knee spiritually on his back, so that he bawls out [and looks out, that chattering he may eat, chattering] he may evacuate (ried), and chattering he may make water (mezed), so that he may not attain [unto the] best existence.
The demon Akatash is the fiend of perversion (nikirayih), who makes the creatures averse (nikirai) from proper things; as it says; that whoever has given anything to that person (tanu) whose opinion (dad) is this, that it is not necessary to have a high-priest (dastur), then the demon Eshm is propitiated by him. 21. Whoever has given anything to that person whose opinion is this, and who says, that it is not necessary to have a snake-killer (mar-van), then Ahriman, with the foregoing demons, is propitiated by him; this is said of him who, when he sees a noxious creature, does not kill it. 22. A snake-killer (maro-gno) is a stick on the end of which a leather thong is provided; and it is declared that every one of the good religion must possess one, that they may strike and kill noxious creatures and sinners more meritoriously with it.
Zarman is the demon who makes decrepit (dushpad), whom they call old age (pirih). 24. Chishmak is he who makes disastrous (vazandak), and also causes the whirlwind which passes over for disturbance. 25. The demon Vareno is he who causes illicit intercourse, as it says thus: 'Vareno the defiling (alai).' 26. The demon Bushasp is she who causes slothfulness; Sej is the fiend (druj) who causes annihilation; and the demon Niyaz is he who causes distress.
The demon Az ('greediness') is he who swallows everything, and when, through destitution, nothing has come he eats himself; he is that fiendishness which, although the whole wealth of the world be given up to it, does not fill up and is not satisfied; as it says, that the eye of the covetous is a noose (gamand), and in it the world is naught. 28. Push is the demon who makes a hoard, and does not consume it, and does not give to any one; as it says, that the power of the demon Az is owing to that person who, not content with his own wife, snatches away even those of others.
The demon Nas is he who causes the pollution and contamination (nisrushtih), which they call nasai ('dead matter'). 30. The demon Friftar ('deceiver') is he who seduces mankind. 31. The demon Spazg ('slander') is he who brings and conveys discourse (milaya), and it is nothing in appearance such as he says; and he shows that mankind fights and apologizes (avakhshined), individual with individual. 32. The demon Arast ('untrue') is he who speaks falsehood. 33. The demon Aighash is the malignant-eyed fiend who smites mankind with his eye. 34. The demon But is he whom they worship among the Hindus, and his growth is lodged in idols, as one worships the horse as an idol. 35. Astwihad is the evil flyer (vae-i saritar) who seizes the life; as it says that, when his hand strokes a man it is lethargy, when he casts it on the sick one it is fever, when he looks in his eyes he drives away the life, and they call it death. 36. The demon of the malignant eye (sur-chashmih) is he who will spoil anything which men see, when they do not say 'in the name of God' (yazdan).
With every one of them are many demons and fiends cooperating, to specify whom a second time would be tedious; demons, too, who are furies (khashmakan), are in great multitude it is said. 38. They are demons of ruin, pain, and growing old (zvaran), producers of vexation and bile, revivers of grief (nivagih), the progeny of gloom, and bringers of stench, decay, and vileness, who are many, very numerous, and very notorious; and a portion of all of them is mingled in the bodies of men, and their characteristics are glaring in mankind.
The demon Apaosh and the demon Aspenjargak are those who remain in contest with the rain. 40. Of the evil spirit are the law of vileness, the religion of sorcery, the weapons of fiendishness, and the perversion (khamih) of God's works; and his wish is this, that is: 'Do not ask about me, and do not understand me! for if ye ask about and understand me, ye will not come after me.' 41. This, too, it says, that the evil spirit remains at the distance of a cry, even at the cry of a three-year-old cock (kuleng), even at the cry of an ass, even at the cry of a righteous man when one strikes him involuntarily and he utters a cry. 42. The demon Kundak is he who is the steed (barak) of wizards.
Various new demons arise from the various new sins the creatures may commit, and are produced for such purposes; who make even those planets rush on which are in the celestial sphere, and they stand very numerously in the conflict. 44. Their ringleaders (kamarikan) are those seven planets, the head and tail of Gochihr, and Mushpar provided with a tail, which are ten. 45. And by them these ten worldly creations, that is, the sky, water, earth, vegetation, animals, metals, wind, light, fire, and mankind, are corrupted with all this vileness; and from them calamity, captivity, disease, death, and other evils and corruptions ever come to water, vegetation, and the other creations which exist in the world, owing to the fiendishness of those ten. 46. They whom I have enumerated are furnished with the assistance and crafty (afzar-homand) nature of Ahriman.
Regarding the cold, dry, stony, and dark interior of mysterious (tarik den afraj-pedak) hell it says, that the darkness is fit to grasp with the hand, and the stench is fit to cut with a knife; and if they inflict the punishment of a thousand men within a single span, they (the men) think in this way, that they are alone; and the loneliness is worse than its punishment. 48. And its connection (band) is with the seven planets, be it through much cold like Saturn (Kevan), be it through much heat like Ahriman; and their food is brimstone (gandak), and of succulents the lizard (vazagh), and other evil and wretchedness (patyan).]

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