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M.N. Dhalla: History of Zoroastrianism (1938), part 6.


Any kind of wickedness that may still be lingering, in spite of his supreme beneficence, will perish through his presence.34 The angels will enable mankind to co-operate with the great apostle Soshyos to rout Druj.35 In advance of his divine mission to the world he has met Ohrmazd in conference and has received the supreme sanction for his task.36 During the fifty-seven years of his work, he will drive out the drujes from the world,37 and will make the world eternally happy.38




Independent origin of evil. The sharp antithesis of the Avestan period between good and evil is still further intensified by the Pahlavi writers. In fact dualism reaches its consumma­tion in this period. It is the standard philosophy, and is upheld as the only possible solution of the problem of evil. The author of the Shikand Gumanik Vijar, who is himself a dualist of the most pronounced kind, strongly urges in his polemics against other religions that good and evil can on no account have origi­nated from one and the same source. Evil is considered to have as independent and complete an existence as good; they are both primeval. They are so entirely separate from each other that neither good originates from evil, nor evil from good.1 Each one of them exists by itself, and entertains perpetual antagonism towards the other.2 The pairs of opposites such as heat and cold, perfume and stench, pleasure and pain, health and sickness, life and death, and all others fall under the compass of these fundamental terms, good and evil.3 This dualism between good and evil in the moral realm is the same as that between light and darkness in the physical world. Right is identified with light, and wrong with darkness. There has never been anything in the World which is not either good or evil or a mixture of both.4 Besides, in all periods, evil is found to be stronger than good­ness.5 The nature of divinity is light and beauty, fragrance and purity, goodness and wisdom; for darkness and ugliness, stench and pollution, evil and ignorance are outside of his nature.6 Ohrmazd is not responsible for this imperfect side of existence.

1 Sg. 8. 89, 102.

2 Ib., 90, 91.

3 Ib., 92-99, 101.

4 Ib., 100; 11.158.

5 Ib., 11. 97.

6 Ib., 319, 320.

Tracing both good and evil to God deprives him of his divinity. It seems that the dualistic system is criticized by the non-Zoroastrian critics as detracting from the grandeur of the [385] godhead;7 but the author of this treatise retorts by arguing at length that the indispensable attributes of God such as his good­ness, omniscience, omnipotence, and the rest, demand that he could not simultaneously be the producer of good and of evil. If evil is also his creation, God is either not wholly good or he is not wholly powerful; both good and evil cannot be dependent on his will. The controversialist continues by addressing arguments to prove that Ohrmazd cannot be held accountable for evil with­out impairing some one or more of his attributes that are essential to his divinity; and whatever reflects upon even a single of his divine attributes degrades his position. We shall now see the main arguments advanced by the learned controversialist against the theory of tracing both good and evil to one and the Same source.

7 Sg. 12.33, 34.

The goodness of Ohrmazd demands that he could on no account be the author of evil. One of the essential requisites of the godhead is goodness. If evil arises from him as the deity, he is imperfect in goodness, and consequently could not be de­serving of praise and sacrifice from men.8 Men cannot pray to one who is partly good and partly evil. If the divine being could have averted evil from mankind, and did not so will it, he is not perfect in goodness; and a being that is imperfect in goodness is not to be glorified by men.9 If he is perfect in goodness, he could not wish for the presence of evil, but only for its extinction;10 for a being whose will is evil is unworthy of his divinity.11 Such a view destroys his attribute of good­ness. But Ohrmazd is perfect in goodness;12 and consequently, his will being eternally good, only goodness should prevail in the world from its beginning up to its end.13 But, the author maintains, the world shows more of evil than goodness,14 hence evil is outside of and independent of Ohrmazd. Beside all that, everything in the world either happens through his will, or it does not, or there may be some things that happen through his will, and others through the Will of some other.15 If both the good and evil come to pass through his will, then his will is not perfect,16 and the being whose will is imperfect is himself [386] imperfect.17 If nothing proceeds through his will, he works auto­matically and is therefore made by some one,18 but this is un­thinkable. If some things are through his will and others through the will of some other being, God either ordains the existence of the good or the evil, for there is nothing in the world which is not the result of either of the two. If God wills good, some one else wills evil, or if he wills evil, some other being wills good.19 Hence a power that personifies the oppos­ing will exists,20 and since God is goodnees, the evil in the world proceeds through the will of the rival spirit, who exists independent of the good spirit.

8 Ib., 11.103-111.

9 Ib., 280-284, 315.

10 Ib., 11.311.

11 Ib., 35.

12 Zsp. 1.17.

13 Sg. 11.339-342.

14 Ib., 36, 343.

15 Ib., 155-157.

16 Ib., 125-132, 159-162, 344-351.

17 Ib., 162.

18 Sg. 164-167.

19 Ib., 168-175.

20 Ib., 176.

If it is argued that Ohrmazd has created evil for the reason that mankind may better understand and appreciate goodness; or again, that he has created poverty, pain, and death that human beings may better understand the value of wealth, health, and life, and consequently become more grateful to God, it is as unreasonable as saying that the Deity gives poison to mankind so that they may better understand and appreciate the value of the antidote.21 In another place, however, it is said in the Pahlavi texts that Ohrmazd allows Ahriman, the father of evil, to commingle with his creation for an allotted period for the experience and training of mankind.22

21 Ib., 11. 197-204.

22 Dk., vol. 10, bk. 5.7, p. 8.

The all-wise God would not create his own adversary. Omniscience is one of the attributes requisite for divinity;23 and in the Pahlavi period Ohrmazd is always spoken of as omnis­cient.24 If it is maintained that both good and evil proceed from Ohrmazd himself, the question then arises why he being omniscient, should have foreseen the harm that would be caused to his creation, and yet not have found it inexpedient to create, through his own will, a perverse creature that would turn out to be his adversary and cause him perpetual anxiety and sorrow.25 If he did not foresee the evil consequences, he is not omniscient.26 If he created this eternal foe to man for the sake of experiment, without knowing the result, then such a being is making experi­ments at the painful cost of the miseries of the countless gen­erations of mankind, and is consequently not omniscient.27

23 Sg. 11.13.

24 Ib., 12.52.

25 Ib., 11.93, 94.

26 Ib., 9.

27 Ib., 115-117.


Again it is meaningless for the wise one who is contented with his own divinity and grandeur to have produced through his own knowledge and will an enemy of mankind, who causes them misery in this and the next world.28 A wise person always acts with a view to the good of all, and does not contemplate evil. Now evil abounds in the world. If the Lord has created Ahriman, who does good neither to him nor to his creatures, but positive harm to all, then this creative act of Ohrmazd is unwise.29 Again if God does not know the means to avert evil, he is equally unwise,30 and an unwise God is imperfect.31 But Ohrmazd is perfect in wisdom, and knows how to eradicate evil,32 which he has not created.

28 Sg. 11.27-29.

29 Ib., 11.330-338.

30 Ib., 314.

31 Ib., 317.

32 Ib., 310.

Omnipotent Ohrmazd has not created evil. One of the indispensable attributes of God is omnipotence;33 and the di­vinity of the Deity without this quality would be incomplete.34 The independent existence of a rival spirit, which the theologians of this period so zealously maintain, is in no way considered to diminish the power and grandeur of God.35 Inasmuch as the ultimate victory rests with the Good Spirit, and goodness is to rout evil at the end of time, the omnipotence of Ohrmazd is not considered to be impaired. It is emphasized in Pahlavi literature that Ohrmazd, who is omnipotent,36 would on no account be the author of evil.37 If he desired to prevent evil, but could not do so, he is impotent. The omnipotent being must be capable of performing his own will, for otherwise mankind would not adore him as the almighty Lord.38 If he is thus capable of perform­ing his will, and if at the same time his will is always for good and never for evil, it should come to pass that the avoidance of sin, the shunning of the path to hell, and the striving to be worthy of heaven would be manifest among all mankind accord­ing to God's will.39 But this is not the case.40 If the Deity is capable of performing his will, and yet does not do it, he is un­merciful and of inconstant will.41

33 Ib., 11.13.

34 Ib., 15, 16.

35 Ib., 33,34.

36 Ib., 12. 52.

37 Ib., 11.312.

38 Ib., 288-294.

39 Ib., 295-297.

40 Ib., 298.

41 Ib., 299, 300.

Again, if the rival spirit did not exist, and if evil did not originate from him, the omnipotent creator ought to have created [388] his creatures without blemish.42 His mercifulness and omniscience would have demanded this from him.43

42 Ib., 118.

43 Ib., 119-124.

If it is said that the adversary was created originally good by Ohrmazd, from whom he afterwards revolted and became evil, then it shows that the adversary possesses a more powerful will than that of the sacred being, since in that event the power of evil is thus able to break his commandment and diffuse more harm in the world than the good of the sacred being.44 Further­more, Ohrmazd, as the almighty being, should not have created an opponent who in the long run, by deluding and misleading mankind, threatened to become triumphant over him.45 In addi­tion, as the omniscient being, the Deity should have foreseen the consequences and not have produced a rebel for whose existence he would have to be sorry.46 Moreover, the Evil Spirit should not, under these circumstances, be unreasonably blamed, since he has been created of so headstrong a will by God;47 on the contrary, the Good Spirit who has created him of such perverse nature should be held accountable for the mischief that the Evil One is now doing in the world.48

44 Ib., 51,95-97.

45 Ib., 85-87.

46 Ib., 88-94.

47 Ib., 245-251.

48 Ib., 257, 258.

If it is maintained that Ohrmazd has created disease and mis­fortune to give an opportunity to mankind-an opportunity to practise the virtue of mitigating these evils, and thus to be finally rewarded by eternal happiness-it means that he is not actually able to bestow happiness upon the virtuous, except by causing distress to others.49 Again, to say that he will give recompense to the sick and needy, who have undeservedly suffered in this world, would reflect upon the Good Spirit;50 for it shows that it was impossible for him to give these unfortunate people happi­ness in heaven, without first causing them misery in this world.51 This after-nobility of rewarding after harassing does no credit to the Almighty One.52 But, the argument continues, Ohrmazd has neither created Ahriman nor his evil.

49 Ib., 141-148.

50 Ib., 149.

51 Ib., 150.

52 Ib., 151-154.

From the trend of his argument we might be led to think that our author thus prefers to limit the omnipotence of Ohrmazd rather than ascribe to him the authorship of evil. But his contention is that inasmuch as Ahriman, who is independent in his origin, will ultimately bow the knee before Ohrmazd and [389] perish at his hands, the omnipotence of the Good Spirit may be considered to be intact.

Ohrmazd, the sovereign ruler, would not harass his earthly subjects by the creation of evil. If the divine being who is the eternal sovereign53 keeps out distress, oppression, injustice from the world, and routs the enemies that threaten the peace and security of mankind, he is worthy of his divinity,54 but if he rules as a tyrant occasioning eternal distress to mankind, he is unworthy of his divinity.55 His title to divinity further demands that he cannot be a good and a bad sovereign, causing happi­ness as well as misery unto mankind, for that would make him of a mixed individuality.56

53 Sg. 12. 52.

54 Ib., 11.17-19, 222, 227-232.

55 Ib., 233-238.

56 Ib., 225, 226, 239-244.

Again, he could not produce evil to injure his own creatures, unless he ceases to be their friend and turns out their enemy.57 But the creator is the friend of creation and not its enemy. He is its best ruler. Evil is introduced into his earthly kingdom by an infernal sovereign who struggles to found the Kingdom of Wickedness on earth.

57 Ib., 217-221, 252.

Unmerited harm could not emanate from a just God. Ohrmazd is just, and administers justice with exactitude unto all. Now, if he is the author of evil, crime, and sin, there is no justice in his thus creating these and then enjoining that mankind shall abstain from committing them, under penalty of incurring pun­ishment.58 Ohrmazd, the writer continues, is the emblem of truth and justice even as Ahriman is the embodiment of falsehood and injustice. It is, therefore, inconsistent for a true and just being to say, on the one hand, that he hates sin and sinners, and on the other hand to produce more sin and sinners than good deeds and doers of good deeds.59 It is not justice, moreover, to inflict unlimited punishment for a limited sin, and to cause perpetual pain and distress to his creatures for indulging in the evil which he has himself produced.60 But Ohrmazd is the em­bodiment of justice, whereas the existence of evil is a glaring injustice to innocent humanity. Hence evil, the writer concludes, is the creation of an unjust power, that is, of Ahriman.

58 Sg. 11.109, 110, 125-132, 260-263.

59 Ib., 11.30-33.

60 Ib., 12.41-50.

God, the embodiment of mercy, could not inflict evil upon his own creatures. One of the essential traits of Ohrmazd is [390] his mercifulness.61 If, then, he is merciful, why should he knowingly permit Ahriman to introduce misery and harm among his own creatures.62 Mankind, even with their little knowledge, would never, of their own accord, allow the lion, the wolf, and other noxious creatures in among their young ones; why has the Lord, who is called merciful, let in Ahriman and his ribald crew of demons upon his own creation.63 If he is capable of removing evil and yet does not do so, but, on the contrary, curses those who adhere to evil and casts them away for punishment in hell, he is not merciful.64 Where is his divine mercy in fathering such a world of woe and sorrow.

61 Ib., 11.13.

62 Sg. 11.8.

63 Ib., 11.111-114.

64 Ib., 121-124, 300.

Again, as a wise being Ohrmazd acts for some purpose when he creates the universe, for to act without a purpose is not worthy of the all-wise lord.65 If he has, then, created the world for his own pleasure and for the happiness of mankind, as relig­ion claims, why should he ever indulge in their slaughter and devastation.66 But this is not true, for Ohrmazd is merciful and he does not slaughter, nor devastate, nor wish evil to his crea­tures; evil is, therefore, not of his making, but of some other merciless being.67 Such is the view maintained in the treatise.

65 Ib., 103-105.

66 Ib., 106-108.

67 Ib., 12.56.

It is deemed futile to attempt to resolve Ahriman into a symbolic personification of man's evil nature. To those who put forth the theory that evil springs from the nature of mans our author asks whether it had its origin before the creation of mankind or at the same time with man.68 If evil arose before man, he says, it must either have been created by God, or it had its independent existence.69 If it arose after mankind through man's own making, that is, through the freedom of his own will, it means that man originated it in defiance of the imperfect will of his own creator.70 This is setting up the will of man in opposition to the will of Ohrmazd. Now the sinners, among mankind are punished by Ohrmazd. His omnipotence and merci­fulness demand that he should not have thus allowed men to sin, when he wanted to punish them afterwards for having committed sin.71 If evil originates with mankind, because man­kind are created by God, then the creator is responsible, for the production of evil.72

68 Ib., 11.177-179.

69 Ib., 180-182.

70 Ib., 183-191.

71 Ib., 192-196.

72 Ib., 258.


It is further explained, in the same Pahlavi tractate, that if from outward appearance it seems that good and evil alike spring from mankind it is because mankind are not perfect in goodness.73 As sickness and death are due to the bodily imper­fection of man, so does evil originate owing to his moral imper­fection.74 The two competing propensities existing in human nature cause these imperfections.75

73 Sg. 8. 117,118.

74 Ib., 119-122.

75 Ib., 123.

Whence this evil propensity in the nature of man? Does it originate with him? Does man load the infirmities of the flesh and the inequities of his moral nature on the back of Ahriman and proclaim him as the source of all evil? If so, why cir­cumscribe Ohrmazd's greatness by postulating this imaginary creature? But the general verdict of the Pahlavi writers is that evil is primeval in its origin; it is not relative, nor did man bring it into existence. It is enhanced when the flesh triumphs over the spirit, but it does not originate with the flesh. The father of evil is as real a personality as the father of good­ness. We shall now peruse the life-story of this Prince of Dark­ness as narrated in the Pahlavi works


The primeval source of evil. If evil exists in reality, and is neither produced by Ohrmazd nor by man, then the only alterna­tive is that it must have originated from an independent source. And so it is, say the Pahlavi works. Ahriman, or the Evil Spirit, called in Pahlavi Gana Menu (possibly to be read as Anrak Menu, from Av. Angra Mainyu), is its originator. As we have already seen in the Pahlavi writings, man does not simply objectify the basest and vilest in his own nature under the name of Ahriman; the rival spirit is a personality. He is an indepen­dent being, and is co-existent with Ohrmazd.76 He abode from eternity in the abyss of endless darkness,77 and, aflame with hatred, he rushed into the world at the beginning of creation to work for its destruction, as he constantly wages war against Ohrmazd and the good creation.78 He is described as dwelling [392] eternally in darkness and gloom; and as wholly evil without goodness,79-80 as the prime source of evil in the world,81 and as the producer of sin.82 Though it is possible for Ohrmazd to drive him out of the world, it is not thought necessary to do so now until the end of time, when Ohrmazd has determined his final defeat.83

76 Dd. 37.21,26.

77 Bd. 1.3, 9.

78 Dk., vol. 10, bk.5.4, p. 6.

79-80 Zsp. 1.17; Dd. 37.28; Sd. 62.3.

81 Dk., vol. 5, p. 324, 325.

82 Dk., vol. 11, bk. 6.101, p. 16.

83 Dk., vol. 10, bk. 5.5, 6, p. 6, 7.

Ahriman is a spirit. As the very name of the arch-fiend indicates, he is a spirit, and as such can be thought of in the mind, but cannot be seen by the eye or grasped by the hand. Having no material existence, even the wicked souls, who are domiciled with him in hell, can only understand his nature but cannot see him.84 The sainted priest Viraf, however, in his apo­calyptic journey to hell sees him in the inferno.85 In the begin­ning of creation he sprang like a snake from the sky to the earth,86 and rushed upon the entire creation like a fly.87 In one Pahlavi passage he is mentioned as possessing the body of a liz­ard,88 though he could for his vile purposes assume the pleasing shape of a young man, as noted in the same connection. In alle­gorical references he is spoken of as assuming the form of a horse when subjugated by Tahmuras.89

84 Dd. 19.1, 2, 5.

85 AV. 100.1.

86 Bd. 3.11; Zsp. 2.3.

87 Bd. 3.14.

88 Bd. 3.9; 28.1.

89 Mkh. 27.21, 22.

Ahriman has backward knowledge. When the Evil Spirit defies Ohrmazd, the latter reminds him that he is not omniscient;90 and does not, therefore, foresee his own final defeat.91 In fact he has only after-knowledge, and knows no event that is to come. He was not even aware of the existence of Ohrmazd, until he arose from the abyss;92 thus, though cunning, he is totally igno­rant and blind.93 He cannot attain to any knowledge pertaining to the Good Spirit,94 and does not make any preparations to avert his coming downfall.95 What scanty knowledge he possesses is evil and he will see the consequences of his ignorance at the time [393] of Renovation.96 He is unobservant, stupid,97 and ill-informed.98 He is the after-thinker. Ignorance is the parent of many evils, and Ahriman is the very personification of it. Mani, in his heresy, ascribes foresight to Ahriman.99

90 Bd. 1.16.

91 Dk., vol. 4, p. 258.

92 Bd. 1.9;Zsp. 1.2.

93 Bd. 1.19; Dk., vol. 8, p. 445; Gs. 122.

94 Dk., vol. 6, p. 416.

95 Dk., vol. 7, p. 462.

96 Dk., vol. 2, p. 108.

97 Bd. 1.19.

98 Dk., vol. 5, p. 324.

99 Sg. 16.23.

As the arch-enemy of Ohrmazd, Ahriman swears vengeance upon the good creation. The Evil Spirit is the avowed enemy of the creatures of Ohrmazd.100 Being of malicious nature,101 and a blemish-giver,102 he ever wishes evil to all.103 As the enemy of mankind, he ever strives to make man unhappy;104 he is filled, in fact, with rancour against the entire creation; he is bent upon its destruction and never thinks, speaks, or does anything but harm to mankind.105 Ohrmazd saw through his omniscience that the Evil Spirit would find scope for his work up to the time that the imperfections of the world were removed, and evil be­came eradicated. He therefore proposed peace to Ahriman, asking him to bring help unto the good creatures, and offering to make him in return immortal, undecaying, hungerless, and thirst-less.106 The Evil Spirit thought that it was helplessness and weakness on the part of Ohrmazd that had thus compelled him to proffer peace, and rejected the divine offer.107 He then defiantly answered the Good Spirit that not only would he never bring help and praise unto the good creation, but he would ever seek to destroy it and force the creatures into disaffection to Ohrmazd and affection for himself.108 Ever since this first dispute with the Deity, Ahriman has firmly adhered to his resolve, and is so absorbed in contriving the ruin of his rival's creatures that he has never rested at ease since creation began.109 He is bent upon perverting creatures from their own nature, in order, if possible, to prevent Ohrmazd from bringing about the resurrection and the renovation of the world and restoring his creatures.110 Having [394] created evil for the ruin of the good creation, he strives to wrest the supremacy from the hands of Ohrmazd,111 for the idea of re­venge eats like a canker into his heart. A righteous person of firm resolve can put him to flight, for he is a coward, just as the prophet Zoroaster routed him. In the beginning of creation when Ahriman first saw the angels and their prowess he fled precipi­tately back to the darkness of hell;112 when next he beheld Ohrmazd's creation, he became languid, and when he learnt Ohrmazd's design of renovation he was stupefied, and fell on his knees;113 yet he remained resolute in his wicked purpose and has never ceased to vent his rage upon humanity.

100 Dd. 3.7; Dk., vol. 4, p. 208, 270; Gs. 127.

101 Bd. 1.10; Dd. 37.8, 10; Mkh. 10.5, 10.

102 Dk., vol. 5, p. 324, 325; vol. 6, p. 421; vol. 7, p. 445.

103 Bd. 1.8; Mkh. 8.23; Sg. 3.5.

104 Dk., vol. 7, p. 461.

105 Bd. 28.2.

106 Bd. 1.13.

107 Bd. 1, 15; Dk., vol. 8, p. 484, 485.

108 Bd. 1.14; Zsp. 1.6, 8; Sg. 4.12.

109 Bd. 28.3.

110 Sg. 12.72-74.

111 Bd. 28.1.

112 Bd. 6.1.

113 Dk., vol. 11, bk. 6.258, p. 100.

When Ahriman contemplates any harm to Ohrmazd, it recoils upon himself, and proves of advantage to his adversary; but when Ohrmazd does anything for his own advantage, it turns out of advantage to himself, and harm to Ahriman.114 He is able to mar the doings of Ohrmazd, but in only so far as it does not ulti­mately turn out for harm to Ohrmazd, for the final victory rests with Ohrmazd.115 It is said that Ohrmazd had created Yim, Faridoon, and Kaus immortal, but that Ahriman rendered them mor­tal;116 yet when Ahriman contrived to make the monstrous Zohak, the wicked Afrasiab, and the accursed Sikandar immortal, Ohrmazd did not permit him to do it, as that would have meant incalculable harm to the good creation.117

114 Dd. 94.8; Dk., vol. 10, bk. 6.12, p. 4.

115 Mkh. 8. 24-26.

116 Mkh. 8. 27, 28.

117 Mkh. 8. 29, 30.

Ahriman lures man to destruction by deceit. He is the arch-deceiver,118 corrupting man's nature, and beguiling him into wick­edness and sin.119 He lurks about to overtake man in his un­guarded moments, and has stationed his sentinels for the pur­pose. Woe unto the man who is found weak in the moment of temptation. Ahriman desires that, man shall not actually recog­nize him, for if he once appraised the Evil Spirit at his true value, he would not follow him on the path of Wickedness.120 Ahriman seduces man to give up the religion of Ohrmazd and embrace his evil faith, and exults when this object is achieved.121 [395] Inasmuch as he does not see that his work of deception will finally bring his own ruin, he deceives himself.122

118 Dk., vol. 1, p. 22.

119 Dd. 37.8; Mkh. 45.8; Dk., vol. 8, p. 462; vol. 9, p. 624.

120 Bd. 28.40; Mkh. 40.26, 27; Dk., vol. 10, bk. 6.31, p. 10.

121 Bd. 28.4-6.

122 Dk., vol. 13, bk. 6; E. 38, p. 16.

Ahriman produces seductive demons to pervert mankind. The first creation of Ahriman was falsehood.123 Afterwards he produced six chief demons, Akoman, Indar, Sovar, Nakahed, Tairev, Zairich as adversaries to the six archangels of Ohrmazd.124 Besides this he produced many demons and fiends.125 Mankind formerly did not commit crime,126 and there was no sin,127 but Ahriman implanted various vices in man's nature as the enemies of the soul; among such are avarice, covetousness, anger, jeal­ousy, stubbornness, lust, enmity, idleness, apostasy, slander, igno­rance, malice, stinginess, hatred, strife, and many other seductives that mislead men.128 Ahriman meditates upon nothing but falsehood, wrath, malice, and discord;129 and especially does he seek to conceal from man the reward of good deeds and the retribution of evil deeds, thus leading human creatures to wicked­ness and sin.130 In designing man's ruin Ahriman does not con­sider his triumph over him complete unless he succeeds in effect­ing his spiritual destruction; nor does he deem it a victory merely to deprive a man of his life and wife, child and fortune; but he must succeed in seducing his soul.131 Nothing satisfies his vorac­ity so much as the capture of a human soul.

123 Bd. 1.24.

124 Bd. 1.24, 27.

125 Bd. 1.10.

126 Mkh. 13.6.

127 Dk., vol. 6, p. 421.

128 Bd. 3.17; Dd. 37.53, 54; Dk., vol. 6, p. 354; vol. 8, p. 469; vol. 10, bk. 5.4, p. 6; Gs. 10, 11.

129 Mkh. 10.5.

130 Mkh. 13.7-10.

131 Mkh. 46.4, 5.

Ahriman introduces disease and death into the world. When Ahriman first entered the world, he plagued mankind, and introduced death among the living beings;132 thus misery and affliction entered the world through him.133 And all the ills human flesh is heir to are from him. He smote the progenitor of animals and made the primeval man mortal.134 Disease, destruc­tion, and death are identified with Ahriman, and form his chief work.135

132 Bd. 3.17; Dd. 37.72, 81; Dk., vol. 2, p. 92, 93.

133 Mkh. 37.10; 42.6, 7.

134 Dd. 37.46, 82.

135 Zsp. 5.4; Dk., vol. 4, p. 233, 238; vol. 12, bk. 6.308, p. 25.


Ahriman infests the earth with noxious creatures. One of the many malicious acts of Ahriman, to thwart the creation of Ohrmazd, is his creation of biting and venomous creatures, such as the snake, scorpion, frog, lizard, and many others, in so great a number that the noxious creatures did not leave an empty space on earth to the size of the point of a needle.136 Hence killing these noxious creatures and extirpating their burrows are meritorious deeds.137

136 Bd. 3.15; Zsp 2.9.

137 SLS. 20.5; Mkh. 5.8; Sd. 43.1-10; Dk., vol. 12, bk. 6. 317, p. 29.

Ahriman disfigures Ohrmazd's creation. Smoke and dark­ness were mingled with fire by the Evil Spirit;138 the trees that grew on the earth before the appearance of Ahriman had neither thorns, nor rough bark, nor was poison mixed with any of their species. It was Ahriman who introduced these into vegetation, also blight to wither it.139 Thus he brings disfigurement upon the creatures of Ohrmazd,140 and exultingly cries out that everything of Ohrmazd has been assailed by him and spoiled.141 Over against each one of Ohrmazd's good creations there is balanced an evil one of Ahriman.

138 Bd. 3.24; Zsp. 2.11.

139 Bd, 3.16; 27.1.

140 Zsp. 4.10.

141 Zsp. 4.3.

The end of Ahriman. One of the essential proofs of Ahriman's inequality with Ohrmazd is that he is not eternal. As has been noted above, although he was co-eval and co-equal with Ohrmazd, he is not co-eternal, because there will be a time when he will cease to exist.142 Ohrmazd and Ahriman are therefore not actually balanced equally against each other. As mankind ad­vances in righteousness, and succeeds in weakening the dominion of wickedness, Ahriman will be baffled in his vile attempts to tempt men to the wicked path.143 Ahriman will then find his re­sources exhausted and will become impotent and confounded.144 Being completely overpowered,145 and broken,146 predominating no longer,147 he will become afflicted and miserable.148 He will bow his unwilling knees to the divine authority. Thus baffled, [397] he will flee into darkness and be fettered in hell in perpetual sor­row.149 We are informed in another place that when he is thus defeated, he will rush back to hell,150 and disappear.151 Still other passages state that he will be repulsed and slain.152 Ahriman exists in the world so long as he can find his lodgment even in one man in the world, but when, owing to the goodness of men, he will be completely cast out from human bodies, he will be exterminated.153 He will enter into nothingness.154

142 Bd. 1.3; Gs. 129; Dk., vol. 12, bk. 6. 278, p. 7.

143 Dk., vol. 1, p. 22.

144 Dd. 37.15, 20, 64; Mkh. 8.13; Gs. 158.

145 Dk., vol. 5, p. 314, 324.

146 Dk., vol. 7, p. 458.

147 Dd. 7.3.

148 Dk., vol. 5, p. 346; vol. 7, p.461; Gs. 157.

149 Dk., vol. 3, p. 150.

150 Dk., vol. 8, p. 441, 486.

151 Dd. 37.71, 122; Dk., vol. 8, p. 436, 445; Jsp. p. 109.

152 Dk., vol. 9, p. 627; Jsp. p. 120.

153 Dk., vol. 8, p. 436; vol. 11 bk. 6.264, p. 102.

154 Dd. 37.59, 114; Mkh. 57.6; Dk., vol. 12, bk. 6.297, p. 13.

The final disappearance of evil from the world. With the disappearance of the Father of Evil, goodness will completely rout evil.155 The great conflict between good and evil will even­tually end in perfecting good and in eliminating evil.156 Moral and physical imperfections will vanish; for vice and impiety, wickedness and sin, demons and fiends, disease and death will be no more.157 The dual nature of the creatures of good and evil will be supplanted by the single characteristic of goodness. The evil creatures will perish.158

155 Dk., vol. 5, p. 326.

156 Dd. 37.122.

157 Dd. 37.120, 121; Mkh. 8.14, 15.

158 Bd. 1.7.


The emissaries of Ahriman. There are six arch-fiends cre­ated by Ahriman in exact opposition to the archangels; and there are also other minor demons as their evil confederates.159 They love evil for its own sake. Hell is the specific habitat assigned to them, and from there they rush to the summit of Mount Arezur to hold their infernal council.160 The north is believed to be the region of Ahriman and demons, just as the south is that of Ohrmazd and angels; and darkness is the steadfast quality of this fiendish crew.161

159 Bd. 28.12.

160 Dd. 33.3, 5.

161 Dd. 37.85.

Their work. The diabolical host works for procuring suc­cess for Ahriman. They will do this up to the end of the world.162 [398] The strongest and most triumphant of their weapons against man is deceit;163 they lead man to sin through it.164 Every demon is an instigator of some evil; on that account, man should always entertain an abhorrence for the demons. He should array him­self on the side of the angels, and join in the fight against the demons, who always contemplate harm to man.165 When they have sway over man's doings, righteousness is arrested and wickedness thrives,166 for man becomes sinful and wicked in their company.167 They take up their abode in him when his innate wisdom forsakes him;168 whence once possessed by de­mons, he is possessed by evil knowledge.169 The demons seize upon and carry off one-third of the wisdom and glory of that man who eats in the dark without washing his hands.170 Pro­crastination on the part of man also helps the demons; for ex­ample, when a man is in the habit of postponing some good work from day to day, until he is overtaken by death, and the good deed remains unaccomplished, the demons are greatly rejoiced.171 Persons who associate with the wicked in this world get demons for their companions in the next.172 The fire of Ohrmazd chases the demons and puts them to flight; for, when a large number of them rushed to destroy the child Zoroaster at his birth, they could not harm him owing to the presence of the fire.173 Zoro­aster brought them all to his feet, and forced them to rush head­long into the jaws of hell. Just as the sheep is terrified by the smell of the wolf, so do the demons tremble when they smell the soul of a righteous person.174 The demons will live so long as man will have something of the demon in him. When righteous­ness at last shall triumph in the world, and the world of humanity reach perfection at the final renovation, the demons will sink into their native darkness, and perish forever.175

162 Dd. 37.59.

163 Ib., 87.

164 Dk., vol. 2, p. 67.

165 Dk., vol. 12, bk. 6. 307, p. 24.

166 Dk., vol. 2, p. 68.

167 Dk., vol. 3. p. 166, 167; vol. 7, p. 459.

168 Dk., vol. 3, p. 159.

169 Dk., vol. 3, p. 166.

170 SLS. 9.8.

171 Dk., vol. 11, bk. 6.89, p. 3.

172 Dk., vol. 11, bk. 6.133, p. 39.

173 SLS. 10.4; 12.11.

174 Afrin-i Ardâfarvash in Pazend Texts, p. 84.

175 Dd. 37.20.



Ahriman’s premier. As Vohuman is the first celestial being in the good creation, so Akoman, Evil Mind, ranks first among the evil creatures. Ahriman first produced Falsehood and after that Akoman,176 as a consequence of which they often work in concert.177 Still another text speaks of Akoman and Varun as created together.178 Akoman came out from the dark world of Ahriman;179 and of all the fiends this demon of perversion is most to be dreaded.180

176 Bd. 1.24.

177 Dd. 37.53.

178 Dk., vol. 3, p. 158, 159.

179 Bd. 1.27.

180 Dk., vol. 9, p. 625.

His attempt to enter the mind of the prophet Zaratusht when a child to pervert it is frustrated by Vohuman. When Ahriman learnt of the birth of Zaratusht, who was to be a sure weapon of destruction against the Kingdom of Wickedness, he sent Akoman with instructions to enter the infant's mind deceit­fully and pervert it.181 The fiend approached the house in which Zaratusht was born and contemplated entering by the door.182 But being as stupid and ignorant as his father he was easily de­feated by his own weapon of deceit being turned against him. Vohuman, who had chased him to the spot, schemingly turned back and asked him to enter the house. Akoman thought that as his rival was leaving the place, his own work was finished, and consequently returned without accomplishing anything.183 Ako­man, moreover, is generally said to frighten children at their birth with the ghastly picture of their sufferings at the Renova­tion, and this is given as a reason why children cry at birth.184

181 Zsp. 14.8.

182 Zsp. 14.9.

183 Zsp. 14.10, 11.

184 Dk., vol. 8, p. 439.

Evil thoughts in man come from Akoman. In opposition to Vohuman, Akoman gives evil thoughts to men and causes dis­cord.185 It is owing to those evil thoughts of his that man be­comes wicked.186 Man has to purge himself of vicious thoughts. Unless he does this, he finds himself driven hither and thither [400] like a shuttlecock, influenced now by Vohuman, now by Akoman. The man whose will is ruled by Akoman fails to discriminate between good and evil,187 for the friendship of Akoman makes one vicious,188 and he who entertains Akoman as his guest turns out to be wicked.189 Such a man courts spiritual destruction.190 When Akoman prevails over Vohuman in the mind of man, his intelligence becomes blunted and he loses greatness in both the worlds,191 inasmuch as righteousness flees from him and he is steeped in sin.192 He is even spoken of as introducing physical evil in the world,193 even as he brings evil knowledge of religion to man's mind,194 and makes him miserable.195

185 Bd. 28.7.

186 Dk., SBE., vol. 37, bk. 9.69.21, p. 388.

187 Dk., SBE., vol. 37, bk. 9.30.8, p. 243.

188 Dk., vol. 6, p. 357.

189 Dk., vol. 10, bk. 6.78, p. 21; 87, p. 25; vol. 11, bk. 6.193, p. 69.

190 Dk., vol. 6, p. 410.

191 Dk., vol. 1, p. 28; vol. 3, p. 152.

192 Dk., vol. 1, p. 28.

193 Dk., vol. 6, p. 411.

194 Dk., vol. 6, p. 414.

195 Dk., vol. 8, p. 466.


The change wrought in the conception of her work. This personification of wickedness and deceit has by this time lost her distinctive individuality, and consequently she no longer re­mains an exclusive rival of Artavahisht, or Best Righteousness. In fact her name is not mentioned as Ahriman's counter-creation against Artavahisht. Indar, as we shall see in the sequel, usurps her place as Artavahisht's recognized adversary. Druj no longer in the Pahlavi period stands exclusively as the class designation of the female demons, which in earlier times was her chief char­acteristic. The term is at times promiscuously applied to male and female demons alike; in fact it now designates demon in gen­eral. Ahriman himself is most frequently termed Druj; and several demons are simultaneously termed divs as well as drujes in one and the same text.196 The evil passions of man are per­sonified as drujes.197 These abide in man to pervert his nature,198 for Ahriman has created the drujes;199 he is their leader,200 and is himself the arch-druj.

196 Bd. 28.11, 13, 14, 20, 33.

197 Mkh. 41.8-11.

198 Dd. 94.1.

199 Bd. 1.10.

200 Dk., vol. 7, p. 458.


Druj's work. The wicked deeds of man further the evil power of Druj in the world. When man leaves the blessed company of Ohrmazd, he is easily overpowered by her,201 who makes his life miserable and full of blemish.202 So long as he remains under her damaging influence, he cannot work on behalf of his creator.203 Druj Nasu, the embodiment of pollution, performs her work of defilement.204

201 Dk., vol. 7, p. 496.

202 Dk., vol. 8, p. 475.

203 Dk., vol. 8, p. 473.

204 Dd. 17.7, 8.

What puts her to flight. Recital of the holy spells, the heartfelt expiation on the part of the sinner, and the performance of righteous deeds will drive Druj out of man,205 she flees fat from a man of religious inclination.206 It is the duty of man, therefore, to drive away the various drujes that may surround him.207 Ohrmazd has endowed him with the knowledge whereby to rout them,208 and has given him strength commensurate with his needs. The angels help to drive out Druj from the creation, an act that will contribute to furthering the work of the Renova­tion.209 When the world reaches the state of goodness, Druj will be impotent and perish.210


Transformation of a great Indian divinity into an execrated demon in Persia. In the Pahlavi texts Ahriman is represented to have created Indar as the opponent of ArtaVahisht.211 In Ys. 48.1, Druj is glossed in Pahlavi by Indar. His personality is again quite ill-defined. He does not personify Wickedness proper, as the opponent of Artavahisht should logically do in the dualistic system; but his chief business is to drive the thoughts of men from virtuous deeds, and incite them to do away with the sacred shirt and girdle,212 He will be routed by Artavahisht in the final struggle.213

205 Dk., vol. 1, p. 5; vol. 12, bk. 6. 315, p. 27, 28.

206 Dk., vol. 2, p. 110; vol. 6, p. 363.

207 Dk., vol. 11, bk. 6.130. p. 36, 37; SBE., 47, bk. 7.1.6, p. 5.

208 Dk., vol.4, p. 245, 269.

209 Dk., vol. 2, p. 111, 112; vol. 6, p. 417.

210 Dk., vol. 7, p. 458.

211 Phl. Vd. 19.43; Bd. 1.27.

212 Bd. 28.8, 10; Dk., SBE., vol. 37, bk. 9.9.1, p. 181, 182.

213 Bd. 30.29.



Enemy of the divine Kingdom of Righteousness. The business of this demon is, by introducing tyranny and anarchy into the world, to thwart the efforts of Shatravar towards estab­lishing the Divine Kingdom upon earth.214 He is delighted if the faithful discard their sacred shirts and girdles.215 He falls be­fore his rival and perishes at the final conflagration wrought by the flood of molten metal at the end of the world.216

214 Bd. 28.9.

215 Bd. 28.10.

216 Bd. 30.29.


The demon that dries up the spring of devotion in man. This demon, residing in the human will, produces disobedience,217 and dissuades man from following the dictates of Spandarmad;218 but he will meet with his end on the last day at the hands of Spandarmad.219

217 Bd. 28.14.

218 Dd. 94.2.

219 Bd 30.29.


Taromat's confederate. This demon is identified with Taro­mat,220 and is ranked as the opponent of Spandarmad. His Avestan counterpart is Naonghaithya. He gives discontent to crea­tures and is delighted when one goes without shirt and girdle.221

220 Bd. 30.29.

221 Bd. 28.10.


The opponent of the archangel of perfection. The demon is the adversary of Khurdad222 and mingles poison with plants,223 and is rejoiced when one walks barefooted.224 He will lie low before his opponent.225

222 Phl. Vd. 19.43.

223 Bd. 28.11.

224 Bd. 28.13.

225 Bd. 30.29.


Tairev's comrade. He also poisons plants226 and other eat­ables.227 He is the enemy of Amardad,228 who will finally vanquish him.229

226 Bd. 28.11.

227 Dd. 37.52.

228 Phl. Vd. 19.43.

229 Bd. 30.29.



This demon of death casts his deadly noose around all. He it is who causes the painful separation of the soul from the body and brings death.230 He casts around the necks of all that are born in this world a noose which cannot be thrown off by any one during life. But at the dissolution of the body, when the soul emerges from its prison of clay, it can shake off the halter if it is righteous, but is dragged to hell by means of this rope if it is wicked.231 When the wicked demon Astovidad strokes a man, he causes lethargy; when he lays his hands on the sick, he makes him feverish; when he looks the victim in the eye, with his deadly gaze, he deprives him of life.232 He was sent by Ahriman in the beginning of creation to slay the primeval man;233 and ever since that time he has been destroying all, and yet he knows no check.234

230 Dk., vol. 10, bk. 5.19, p. 16.

231 Bd. 3.22; Dd. 23.3; Dk., vol. 7, p. 494, 495; Gs. 141.

232 Bd. 28.35.

233 Bd. 3.21;Zsp. 4.4.

234 Mkh. 2.117.


Astovidad's collaborator. The demon Vizarsh235 frightens the souls during the three nights of their stay in this world after death.236 He sits at the gate of hell, ready to drag the wicked souls down to the infernal depths, as soon as they are sentenced to hell by the heavenly judges. When the souls approach the bridge, he contends with Srosh for their possession.237 He casts a noose around the neck of all persons. The righteous ones are able to free themselves from it, but the wicked ones are entangled in it, and are dragged into the infernal abyss by it.238

235 Av. Vizaresha.

236 Bd. 28.18; cf. Bd. Modi, An untranslated chapter of the Bundehesh, 2.

237 Mkh. 2.162.

238 Phl. Vd. 19.29.


An impetuous assailant of man. This demon, Eshm,239 who has no bodily existence,240 occasions trouble in the World by [404] contests.241 He swells man's spirit to wrath. He contrives all evil, and he attacks mankind with the sevenfold strength of a fiend,242 and man loses his senses when Eshm overpowers him.243 He rejoices when man disregards the admonitions of a religious preceptor,244 and any man in whom he makes his abode acts like a thief.245 Destruction follows where he steps in.246 For example, through his seductiveness he made King Kaus discontented with his earthly possessions, and bred in him a burning desire for conquering the heavenly regions,247 in which attempt to fly up to the sky he fell to his undoing. He incites Arjasp, the arch-enemy of Zoroastrianism, to invade the territories of Gushtasp, who had embraced Zoroaster's faith,248 but Arjasp's ruin followed. Terrible as was the condition of Iran when Afrasiab, and still earlier when the monstrous Zohak ruled over her destinies,249 it would have been immeasurably worse had Eshm been the earthly sovereign.250 When he fails to spread discord and quarrelling among, the righteous, he works among the wicked to the same end, and again if defeat meets him here too, he causes strife among the demons and fiends.251 He contests the passage of the soul to the Bridge on the dawn of the fourth day after man's death.252 One of the Pahlavi commentators speaks of him as the antagonist of Vohuman,253 but his special adversary is Srosh, who will smite him in the end.254

239 Av. Aeshma.

240 Mkh. 27.37.

241 Dd. 37.52.
242 Bd. 28.15, 17.
243 Dk., vol. 3, p. 152.
244 Bd. 28.20.
245 Dk.,. vol. 3, p. 138.
246 Bd. 28.16.
247 Dk., SBE., vol. 37, bk. 9.22.5, 6, p. 221.
248 Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7.4.87, p. 72.
249 Dk., vol. 7, p. 454, 455.
250 Mkh. 27.34-36.
251 Dd. 37.104.
252 Mkh. 2.115, 117.
253 Phl. Vd. 19.43.
254 Bd. 30.29; Mkh. 8.14.


Tishtar's antagonist. The Pahlavi works mainly repeat the account of this demon's encounter with Tishtar, that is, how the angel of rain fled a mile away in terror when he was first assaulted by this demon of drought, but how he later, after having begged more strength from Ohrmazd and received it, at last overpowered [405] powered his adversary.255 This demon struggles always to stop the rain from falling; and failing in this, he strives to convert its flow into a cause of damage.256 Aposh is the chief cause of drought,257 but the evil eye of the greedy rulers and false judges falling on the rain, prevents its fall;258 and in this act Spenjagra, another demon, joins with him.259

255 Bd. 7. 8-10; Zsp. 6. 9-11.
256 Dd. 93.12.
257 Bd. 28.39. 258 Dk., vol. 3, p. 148.
259 Bd. 7. 12; 28. 39; Dk., vol. 3, p. 148.


A powerful demoness. Ahriman has created the menses in women; and Jeh is the demoness of menstruation. She is so powerful that her very look smites as nothing else could do.260 When Ahriman first saw man, Ohrmazd's best creation in the world, he was confounded; and coward as he is, he fell prostrate bewailing. His evil confederates tried all in their power to give him courage but to no purpose, until finally Jeh, by her beguiling devices, succeeded in reclaiming him from impotency and dejection.261

260 SLS. 3. 29.
261 Bd. 3. 1-7.

The inmates in the house of ill-fame are her creatures. It is at her promptings that they bring upon earth this darkest curse that blights human life.

Other Demons

The author of the Bundahishn tells us that every single demon is accompanied by many more, and it would be tedious to enumerate them all here. They are certainly very numerous, and much of their defiling nature is mingled up in the bodies of men.262 In fact, there are as many demons as the sins that man commits.263 The following are the demons and fiends who are mentioned in the texts, but about whom nothing special is known. They are Mitokht and Arast (falsehood), Arashk (malice), Bushasp (sloth), Uda (chattering while eating), Zarman (decrepitude), Akatash (perversion), Oshtohad (excessive winter), [406] Chishmak (disaster), Varun (lust), Sej (decay), Az (avarice), Niyaz (distress), Nas (defilement), Push (stinginess), Friftar (seducer), Spazg (slander), Aighash and Sur Chashmih (evil eye), But (idol), Kundak (wizard), Kashvish (revenge), Drivish (poverty), Daiwish (deceit), Nung (shame), Paitish, Dadani, Frazisht, Nizisht, and Safle.264

262 Bd. 28.37,38.
263 Bd. 28.43.
264 For minor demons see Gray, The Foundation of the Iranian Religions, p. 224-226.



Death is the completion of life. The faithful is warned, in the Pahlavi texts as in the Avesta, that he should always remember the transitory state of earthly existence, the death of the body, and the responsibility of his soul;1 for, in the end, the body will be mingled with the dust, but the soul will survive; and man should therefore labour for the future welfare of the soul.2 Death is the completion and perfection of life.3 It is not an extinction of individuality, but a transfer from one state to another; it is the transition of the soul to a higher life, in which it gives up one duty to take up another.4 Death brings the dissolution of the body, the earthly elements are dispersed, and the spiritual elements accompany the soul, which now proceeds to the next world to render the account of its deeds.5 The body served as the garment of the soul as long as the soul wore it during life, but when it is outworn the soul flings it behind it. The body is likened, in more than one Pahlavi passage, to a house, of which the soul is a tenant; for when the body is divested of vital power and falls to the ground, the master of the house leaves it to crumble into dust.6 Just as a rider becomes helpless without his saddle and his weapons to overthrow his enemy, so does the soul lose all hopes of routing the Druj, when the body perishes; for the soul is the lord of life and conducts the battle between good and evil.7 It is the master of the body.8 The body becomes useless and perishes when the soul leaves it.9

1 Mkh. 18. 3.
2 Mkh. 1.22, 23; AnAtM. 105. 3 Dk., vol. 5, p. 330.
4 Sg. 4.87; 12.79.
5 Bd. 17.9; Sg. 4.88-92; Dk., vol. 6, p. 359.
6 Dd. 23.6; AnAtM. 142.
7 Dk.,vol. 6, p. 354.
8 Dd. 3.8.
9 Dk., vol. 3, p. 150, 175.

Man should not put his trust in the possessions of this earth; [408] his happiness is but the passing cloud of a rainy day; riches and wealth, titles and honours, distinctions of birth and race-all will be of no avail when death will at last come upon him.10 Body is the lineament of man; he should not mistake it as his real self. Whoso moulds his actions with the higher object of the welfare of his soul gains this world by leaving good name and fame behind him, and obtains the next as his reward; but the slave to passions and evil desires, who lives solely for the body, loses both this world and the next as well.11 The body of the one is lean in this world, but his soul is fat in heaven, whereas a man who pines after bodily pleasures is fattened in body in this world, but his soul is hungry and lean in the next world.12 There is a remedy for every thing, but not for death.13 A man may live a hundred years in this world, but death will at last overtake him.14 Then at last he will sleep in the deep silence of death. The closed eyes will not open; the heart will not throb; hands and feet will not move; and the prince and peasant will leave the world in exactly the same manner.15 The body will then be removed to its final resting-place, where go the great and the small, the master and the servant, the righteous and the wicked alike.16

10 Mkh. 2.98-110.
11 Mkh. 21.10.
12 BYt. 2.56.
13 Dk., vol. 12, bk. 6. A.6, p. 37.
14 AnAtM. 139.
15 AnAtM. 143.
16 AnAtM. 145.

A man may avoid the danger of tigers and wild beasts, of robbers and inimical persons, but he cannot live without fear of the demon of death.17 He is helpless when death swoops down on him. Some die at an early age, almost as if they had never been born, and even those that live long have ultimately to quit the world.18 Life is short in this world but long in the next.19 Man should practice such good deeds during his lifetime that on his death-bed he should think it would have been better had he done even more of them, and avoid such acts for which he would have to wish during the last moments of his life that they had not been performed.20 The individual who has been indifferent [409] in his devotions to the Lord is distressed when death approaches and thinks of him the more.21

17 Dk., vol. 7, p. 452, 453.
18 Gs. 165.
19 AnKhK. 5.
20 Dk., vol. 10, bk. 6.17, p. 6.
21 Dk., vol. 5, p. 279.

Srosh's help indispensable for the disembodied souls. At death the soul shakes off the fetters of the body. This severance of the soul from the body is fraught with momentous difficulties for the former. As an infant that is just born in this world requires care from a midwife and others, so does a soul that has just emerged from the body require help and protection against evil influences. It is said that the righteous Srosh acts at this juncture as a midwife to the righteous soul in its bewilderment, and does not let it go into the clutches of Ahriman.22 It is therefore deemed advisable to secure the services of this angel even in advance by propitiating him with rituals during the lifetime of the individual. But if that has not been the case, his relatives should never fail to offer sacrifices in his honour immediately after death and continue them for the three days and three nights that the soul stays in this world after death.23 Besides watching and protecting the soul at this critical period, Srosh is also, one of the judges who will then take account of the soul. It is indispensable, therefore, to order ceremonies to be performed for Srosh during the time that the soul tarries in this world before embarking on its celestial journey.24

22 Sd. 58.7.
23 Dd. 28.5; SLS. 17.3; Sd. 58.5, 6, 8, 9.
24 Dd. 28. 6.

The souls visualize the good or bad deeds of the lives they have just completed. In conformity with the statement of the Avestan texts, the Pahlavists also depict the human souls as hovering about the head of the dead for three nights after death, experiencing joy or grief, according as they have lived in righteousness or wickedness.25 It is stated that during the first night satisfaction from their good thoughts comes to the souls and vexation from their evil thoughts, during the second night satisfaction from their good words and vexation from their evil words, and during the third night satisfaction from their good deeds and vexation from their evil deeds.26 The demon Vizarsh struggles with the souls during this period.27 The souls experience [410] as much pleasure or pain during these nights as they have had during their whole life on earth.28 The soul of the wicked person, over whose head hangs the coming retribution, now wishes that it could re-enter the body for some time in order to make up for the faults and shortcomings of the life that it has just finished.29 Mohammedanism, in the same manner, refers to the desire of the soul of the dead person to be sent back to the bodily life that it can practise good deeds that have been left undone. As a rider requires a horse, so the soul needs a body, without which it is unable to act in this world.30 It now discovers, when it is too late, that it has lost the opportunity and worked all the while for naught. It feels as if it had thrown away all good deeds either into the fire to be burnt or into the water to be drowned instead of practising them and storing them up for its own merit.31 It wishes it had enjoyed less in the world below and practised virtue more,32 and it realizes too late that the most precious period of its earthly life is now lost beyond recovery.

25 Bd. Modi, An untranslated chapter of the Bundehesh, 2; Mkh. 2.114, 156-160; Dd. 20.2; 24.2; 25.2; AV. 4.9-14; 17.2-9; Hn. 2.2-5; 3.2-5.
26 Dd. 24.4; 25.4.
27 Bd. 28.18; Modi, op. cit., 2.
28 Hn. 2.6, 11, 16; 3.5, 10, 16.
29 Dd. 16.4.
30 Dk., vol. 6, p. 380, 381.
31 Dk., vol. 11, bk. 6.219, p. 82.
32 Dk., vol. 11, bk. 6. 211, p. 78.

The souls escorted by the genii of their own deeds to the other world. At the end of the third night when the dawn breaks, the souls undertake their memorable journey with the co-operation of the good angels Srosh, Vae the good, and Varhran; in the midst of the opposition of Astovidat, of Vae the bad, Frazisht, Nizisht, and Eshm. When the souls pass from the midst of the sweet-scented trees, if they are righteous, or from among foul-scented trees, if they are wicked, they meet their conscience, the righteous soul beholding her in the form of a beautiful damsel, personifying the store of its own good works, but the wicked soul seeing a hideous woman, typifying the store of its own evil deeds.33 In addition to the escort of the angelic figure or the fiendish apparition, the Denkard and some copies of the Bundahishn mention that a beautiful fat cow and a fair garden, as well as this damsel, are met with by a righteous soul, while an ugly, lean cow and a barren desert, besides the hideous hag, are encountered by a wicked soul.34 The description of the celestial [411] journey and of the happenings on the way, as found in the Menuk-i Khrat, differs a little from the other works. These, in agreement with the accounts in the Avestan texts, depict the soul as meeting its daena prior to its crossing the bridge, but Menuk-i Khrat brings her on the scene after the soul has passed the bridge. Besides, the pious soul is made to converse on the Way with Srosh, which is not the case in the other texts.

33 Bd. Modi, op. cit., 5-7; Dd. 24.5; 25.5; Mkh. 2.115, 127-181; AV. 4.15-36; 17.10-26; Dk., vol. 2, p. 82, 83; Hn. 2.19-32; 3. 17-20.
34 Bd. Modi, op. cit., 5, 7; Dk., vol. 2, p. 83.

The heavenly judges. The Pahlavi works give us an elaborate account of the way in which justice is administered to the souls after death. The reckoning takes place on the dawn of the fourth day.35 Throughout the entire life of the mortals it is the duty of Vohuman to note down three times each day the good and evil deeds of everyone, both men and women, in the book of life.36 Mihr, Srosh, and Rashn sit as judges in the hereafter to take account of the souls that approach the bridge.37 Unlike the human judges who base their decisions on the biased or fallible evidence of the witnesses for the plaintiff or the accused, the divine judges need only to scan with their spiritual eyes the record kept by an archangel, and then to acquit or sentence the souls accordingly.38 Rashn holds the balance in his hands and weighs the good and evil deeds of the souls so impartially that the scales do not turn wrongfully, even by a hair's breadth in favour of a righteous man or of a wicked, of a lord or of a king, but work equally in case of the peasant and the prince.39 Job makes a solemn protestation of his integrity and says that let God weigh him in an even balance that he may know the truth.40 The works of the dead are similarly weighed in a balance according to the teachings of Mohammed. Injustice and partiality have no place in this celestial court, which is administered with stern but exact equity.41

35 Dd. 13.2; 20.3; Gs. 133.
36 Dd. 14.2.
37 Dd. 14.3.4; Mkh. 2.118.
38 Dk., vol. 7, p. 451.
39 Mkh. 2.119-122.
40 Job. 31.6; cf. Proverbs, 16.2; 1 Samuel 2.3.
41 Sg. 4.98,99.

Location of the Bridge of Judgment. All the righteous as well as the wicked souls have to proceed to this bridge for judgment, where the account of the souls takes place.42 The bridge rests on the peak called 'the peak of justice,' situated in the [412] middle of the world in Iranvej, and is of the height of a hundred men. The two extremities of the bridge rest on the northern and southern ridges of Mount Alburz.43

42 Bd. 12.7; Mkh. 2.115; Gs. 133; AnAtM. 139, 147.
43 Phl. Vd. 19.30; Bd. 12.7; cf. Modi, op. cit., 1; Dd. 21.2.

The bridge provides a wide passage to the pious souls, but confronts the wicked with its sharp edge. The bridge is guarded by the angels and the spiritual dogs.44 It is broad as a beam and has many sides. Some of these are twenty-seven reeds in width or nine spears or nine javelins or even a league in width, whereas the others are as sharp as the edge of a razor.45 The bridge is so arranged that it presents its broad side when a righteous soul passes over it, and gives it an easy passage, but puts forward its thin edge when a wicked soul attempts to cross it.46 According to Mohammedanism all souls have to cross the Bridge as-Sirat which lies across heaven and hell. It is finer than a hair and sharper than the edge of a sword. It gives an easy passage to the righteous souls, but the souls of the wicked cannot cross it and fall headlong into hell. The pious soul is helped by Srosh, Atar, and by its own conscience to cross the bridge and go to its destination, but the impious one falls headlong into hell.47 A passage adds that, the fire Frabag smites the darkness and enables a pious soul to pass over the narrow edge in the form of fire.48 Furthermore, Vae, the angel of wind,, takes such a soul by its hand and escorts it to its proper place.49 Of all the wicked souls the one of a malicious man finds it most difficult to cross the bridge, for malice is a sin which does not affect the sinner only, but generally abides in a lineage.50 The wicked soul complains that it would prefer being cut by a sharp knife or pierced by an arrow to its being obliged to cross the terrible bridge.51

44 Bd. Modi, op. cit., 1.
45 Bd. Modi, op. cit., 1; Dd. 21.3, 5; Mkh. 2.123; AV. 5.1.
46 Bd Modi, op. cit., 10; Dd. 21.5, 7; 85.7.
47 Bd. Modi, op. cit., 10, 11, 13; Dd 20.4; 21.7; 25.6; 34.3, 4; Mkh. 2.124; AnKhK. 5.
48 Bd. Modi, op. cit., 9.
49 Ib, 11.
50 Mkh. 21.19.
51 Bd. Modi, op. cit., 14.

Insane persons and children are not accountable for their own deeds, but their parents are responsible. All those that are mentally unsound and also children are not held responsible for their deeds, but are considered eligible for paradise.52 We [413] are further told in another passage of the Pahlavi texts that the children accompany their parents either to heaven or hell as the latter have deserved.53 The children that have thus entered hell with their wicked parents are separated from them if due ceremonies are performed in honour of Srosh by their relatives, and may then proceed to heaven.54

52 Dk., vol. 2, p. 89, 90; vol. 3, p. 144; vol. 4, p. 189, 190.
53 Sd. 47.2.
54 Sd 47.3.

The method of administering justice in the heavenly tribunal. Among the ancient Egyptians when the soul appeared before the heavenly tribunal, its heart was weighed in a balance. Similarly, the ordinary way of judging the souls according to the Pahlavi writers, is said to be that of weighing the good and evil deeds in a scale and deciding to which of the two sides the scale turned. Roughly speaking, if the good deeds exceed the evil, the soul is entitled to go to heaven.55 But if the evil deeds preponderate, the soul is assigned to go to hell.56 The side of the balance that outweighs the other even by a hair of the eyelash determines the fate of the soul accordingly.57 If the good deeds are in weight three Sroshocharans more than the evil deeds, the soul attains to heaven;58 if the evil deeds exceed the good ones by three Sroshocharans, the soul is doomed to hell until the time of Resurrection.59 An infidel is saved from hell if good deeds are one Tanapuhar weight more than his evil deeds.60

55 Mkh. 12.13 SLS. 6.2-4; Sg. 4.93, 94.
56 Mkh. 12.15; Sg. 4.95, 96; AV. 6.10.
57 Sd; 2.3, 4.
58 Phl. Vd. 7.52; SLS. 6.3; AV. 6.9. 59 Phl. Vd. 7.52.
60 SLS. 6.6.

The author of the Dadestan texts takes a more rational view and asserts that it is not simply the preponderating good or evil deeds that score off their opposite, so that the soul receives recompense or retribution on the residue, but that every single good or evil deed is taken into account separately and receives its recompense or retribution in accordance. Thus a righteous soul whose preponderating good deeds have entitled it to heaven does not escape a temporary punishment for the few misdeeds that stand on its account. Similarly the wicked soul that is doomed to hell for its evil deeds has at least a few good deeds to its credit, and consequently receives temporary enjoyment severally for these before it is sent to perdition for its wrongs.61 In other words, [414] the righteous soul may have a few misdeeds for which it has not atoned, and will therefore undergo a corresponding punishment after death before it is admitted to the company of the righteous,62 and the same is logically true of the soul of the sinner. The sins usually accounted for at the bridge are those that have not been expiated during the lifetime of the individual.62 Those that are already atoned for in this world are not laid to his charge hereafter, but stand cancelled in the book of life, and no account is taken of them at the bridge.64 We find, however, in another place that such a soul does receive a temporary punishment at the bridge, but is spared the future torture of hell.65

61 Dd. 13.4; 24.6.
62 Phl. Vd. 7. 52.
63 Dd. 24.5.
64 Dd. 13.2, 3.
65 Dd. 41.8; Sd. 45.10.

We have already seen that the Pahlavi-Persian works speak of the Treasury of the Eternal Weal where the supererogatory deeds of the faithful are stored and from which the souls found to be in need of merit at the Bridge of Judgment are compensated.66 It is said that every Zoroastrian gets the benefit of the accumulated good deeds performed by the faithful in all the seven zones of the earth. If a soul is found deficient in merit at the reckoning the deficit is made up from this treasury.67 This doctrine appears in the later Judaism and Christianity.68 If a man brings forward false accusation against another or steals his property, the heavenly judges take away corresponding merit of good deeds, which the sinner may have done in this world and credit it to the account of the wronged person. But when it is found that the wrong-doer has not any accumulated merit of his own, the judges draw upon the Treasury of Eternal Weal and compensate the soul of the person who has suffered.69

66 Dd. 38.3; see Böklen, Persische Eschatology, p. 58, 59; Pavri, The Zoroastrian Doctrine of a Future Life, p. 51, 52, 74-77, 100, 102.
67 Sd. 1.3-5.
68 See. Moulton, Early Zoroastrianism, p. 313. 69 Sd. 64.9; SdBd. 65.1-5; 71.4, 5.


The graduated heavens. The division of heaven, or the celestial realms, into several mansions of Paradise, as recognized in the Avesta, remains unaltered in the Pahlavi period. Heaven in general is designated Vahisht, Paradise, but the divisions of heaven into the domains of Good Thoughts, Good Words, and [415] Good Deeds, with the highest heaven Garotman, make up the four chief heavens.70 Endless Light and Best Existence are variants frequently used for Garotman.71 The several heavens of the celestial world are also known after the names of their locations in space, and are then called the heavens of the Star Region, the Moon Region, the Sun Region, and that of Endless Light.72 A distinction is generally made between the lower heavens and the highest heaven.73 If one's good deeds are three Sroshocharans more than his evil deeds he goes to Vahisht, or heaven, but if they are only one Tanapuhar in weight more than his misdeeds the soul goes to the Best Existence.74 With the same idea it is said that when ceremonies are not performed for the good of the soul, it goes to heaven, but when performed it ascends to the highest Garotman.75

70 Hn. 2.33, 34; Mkh. 2.146; 7.12; 57. 13; AV. 7.1; 8.1; 9.1; 10.1; cf. 2 Corinthians, 12.2.
71 Dd. 1.3; 14.7; 34.3; SLS. 10.26.
72 Bd. 12.1; Dd. 34.3; Mkh. 7.9-11; Dk. vol. 7, p. 461.
73 Bd. 12.1; 30-27; Dd. 14.7; 24.6; 31.4.15, 17, 22, 25; 34.3; Sd. 80.11.
74 SLS. 6.3.
75 Ib.

If the good deeds are in excess the righteous soul goes to heaven on the dawn of the fourth day, but if, in addition to the stock of this virtue, he has chanted the Gathas and thus has extra merit to his credit as a true believer, he then is transported aloft to Garotman.76 Vohuman welcomes such a righteous soul, and announces at the command of Ohrmazd, its place and reward.77 The same archangel thereupon offers the sanctified spirit a cup of ambrosia to drink,78 and the righteous souls that are in heaven greet it with joy and pleasure.79

76 Dd. 20.3. 77 Dd. 31.5.
78 Phl. Vd. 19.31.
79 Dd. 31.9.

Location of heavens. The concept of the next world, which was abstract and spiritual in the Gathic and Later Avestan periods, gradually becomes concrete and material. The separate heavens as well as hells retain their names which designate abstract virtues as Good or Evil Thoughts, Words, and Deeds, but they are now in reality completely materialized. Different heavens are located in different parts of the cosmos, and a sharply defined boundary line divides them from one another. The separate heavens, begin with the Star Region.80 The first heaven, of Good Thoughts, is represented as extending from the [416] stars to the moon; the second heaven, of Good Words, commences from the moon and reaches the sun; the third, of Good Deeds, extends from the sun to the lower limits of Garotman, and the last, or the highest Garotman, the Best Existence, the abode of Ahura Mazda, is in the regions of the Endless Light.81

80 Dk., vol. 9, p. 626.
81 Mkh. 7. 9-12; AV. 7-10.

Nature of heaven. Heaven is exalted, resplendent, most fragrant, and most desirable.82 It possesses all light, all goodness, all glory, all fragrance, and all joy.83 It has comfort, pleasure, joy, and happiness that are higher and greater than the highest and greatest comfort, pleasure, joy, and happiness in this world. It is devoid of want, pain, distress, and discomfort,84 and it is luminous, full of charm and full of bliss.85 Just as anything that is unlimited, imperishable, inconsumable, and everlasting is greater than that which is limited, perishable, passing, and consumable, so is the felicity of heaven greater than that of this world.86 The supremest happiness and pleasure in this world could not bear comparison with the eternal felicities of heaven.87 Sweet-scented breezes like that of basil, continually blow in paradise, spreading fragrance everywhere.88 The grandeur and beauty are such that the souls have never seen anything so exquisite in the material world. It is the residence of Ohrmazd, the archangels and angels, and of the Guardian Spirits as well as the most blessed among mankind.89

82 Dd. 26.2.
83 Dk., vol. 3, p. 136; AV. 15.21.
84 Dd. 26.3.
85 Dk., vol. 9, p. 626. 86 Dd. 26.5; 31.23, 24.
87 Dd. 31.22.
88 Mkh. 7.15.
89 Dk., vol. 2, p. 80.

Condition of the souls in heaven. The souls in paradise move and perceive, and feel like the angels and archangels, they are undecaying, undying, unharmed, untroubled, full of glory, joy, pleasure, and happiness; and enjoy the fragrant breeze as sweet as the basil.90 The radiance and brightness of the souls in heaven are like the stars and the moon and the sun, and they sit on the golden thrones and carpets.91 The beautiful souls are attired in clothings embroidered with gold and silver and are seated on golden carpets and richly adorned cushions. Those of [417] women are bedecked with jewelry, and those of warriors with golden arms and equipment studded with jewelry.92

90 Mkh. 7.13-17; 40.30.
91 AV. 7.2, 3; 8.7; 9.3, 4.
92 Mkh. 2.154, 156; AV. 12.2, 3, 7, 9, 14, 16; 13.1, 2; 14.7-9, 14; 15.9.

Celestial food. The food that is given to the souls of the righteous ones in heaven as soon as they enter its gates is the ambrosia, the spiritual food of the angels themselves.93

93 Dd. 31.12-14; Mkh. 2.152, 156; Hn. 2.38, 39.

Duration of heavenly bliss. The souls that have ascended to heaven enjoy happiness, and remain full of glory forever and ever.94 This state of felicity continues up to the day of Resurrection.95

94 Mkh. 2.157; 7. 7; 40.30.
95 Dd. 31.25.


The intermediary place between heaven and hell. It is situated between the earth and the starry regions.96 According to the belief current in the Pahlavi period, which dates back to far more ancient times, there is provided a place for those particular souls in whose case the balance trembles evenly between good and evil at the bridge owing to the exact counterpoise between righteousness and sin in the scale into which they have cast their deeds in the present life.97

96 Mkh. 7.18.
97 Phl. Vd. 7.52; Bd. Modi, op. cit., SLS. 6.2; Dd. 20.3; 24.6; 33.2; Mkh. 12.14; Dk., vol 9, p. 626; AV. 6.7, 11.

The condition of its inmates till the final day of the Renovation. The place of the Hamistagan resembles this earth.98 The souls that are transported to this place have no other sufferings than cold and heat.99 Exposed to the inclemency of weather, they shiver in winter and frost and are scorched in the tropical summer up to the day of Resurrection.100 Beyond that, however, the Pahlavi texts speak of no other suffering, and their final fate is postponed till the universe is restored at the last day of the general restoration of the world.

98 Bd. Modi, op. cit., 13.
99 Mkh.7.19; AV. 6.12.
100 AV. 6.6, 11, 12.


Graduated hells. Corresponding to the four heavens or a fourfold division of heaven, the texts mention four principal [418] hells. These are the Evil Thought Hell, Evil Word Hell, Evil Deed Hell, and the Worst Existence of Darkness.101 Sometimes the grades of hell are vaguely spoken of without any definite number.102

101 Mkh. 2.182, 183; 7.20, 21.
102 Bd. 11; Dd. 20.4; 33.3-5; Dk., vol. 8, p. 448.

Location of hell. The abode of the sinners is in the middle of the earth,103 down below the Chinwad Bridge.104 It is in the northern regions, as in Avestan times it was also believed to be, and below the surface of the earth, with its gate on the ridge Arezur, where the demons hold their fiendish council.105

103 Bd. 3.27.
104 Bd. Modi, op. cit., 1; Dk., vol. 9, p. 626; AV. 53.2, 3.
105 Phl. Vd. 3.7; Bd. 12.8; Dd. 33.5.

Description of hell. Hell is deep and dreadful, dark and stinking, vile and grievous, cold and stony, devoid of joy and pleasure, of comfort and happiness, and full of pain and punishment, filth and stench, misery and torture.106 It is coldest beyond description in one place and hottest in another and is full of noxious creatures, stench, and darkness.107 It is traversed by a gloomy and dreadful river filled by the tears shed by men for their departed ones.108 The depth of hell is such that its bottom cannot be reached by a thousand cubits,109 and it is tenanted by the demons, fiends, and the souls of the damned.110

106 Bd. 28.47; Dd. 27.2-5; 33.2: Dk., vol. 8, p. 449; vol. 9, p. 626; AV. 54. 1.
107 Mkh. 7. 27-31.
108 AV. 16.2, 7.
109 AV. 54.3.
110 Dk., vol.3, p. 135.

Ahriman greets the wicked souls in hell with scorn and mockery. No sooner is the terrible sentence pronounced upon those destined for perdition than Vizarsh and other demons pounce upon the wretched souls of the sinful and put them in heavy chains, and, beating them and mercilessly torturing them, drag them down to hell.111 The wretched souls now repent of their sins and exclaim that it would have been better for them if they had not been born upon the earth.112 The angels give them up to the charge of the demons, their own conscience deserts them, and thus forsaken and forlorn, they lament and weep, shout and shriek, gnash their teeth and tear their hair, mutilate their limbs and lacerate themselves, making moan, and soaking [419] the ground with a torrent of tears. But all in vain. Unavailing are their cries and lamentations, for the denizens of heaven seem to be under the spell of the drowsy fiend, Bushasp, who has lulled them to sleep, and the righteous souls in heaven seem to have grown callous and indifferent to the pangs of their former earthly associates. In this frightful condition there is no one to pity them, and none to cast a look of mercy on them in their disconsolate condition on the way to the infernal realm. Writhing in suffering and sorrow, weeping and lamenting and gnashing their teeth, they now enter hell,113 and with the fourth step of the downward descent to perdition they approach Ahriman who addresses them with ribald mockery, saying in scornful banter that it is strange they preferred the gloom and misery of hell to the joy and happiness of heaven,114 revolted from the will of Ohrmazd, whose bread they ever ate, and practised the evil of the Evil Spirit.115 The demons and fiends incessantly rail at the wretched souls and finally hurl them headlong into the darkest abyss.

111 Dd. 32.4-7; Mkh. 2.164.
112 Dk., vol. 5, p. 279.
113 Mkh. 2.165, 166; cf. Mathew, 8.12; 22.13; 25.30.
114 Mkh. 2.184-186; 7.23-25.
115 AV. 100.2-5.

Punishments and retributive justice. The souls are generally punished by the particular demon or demons in conformity to whose will the individual has sinned in this world.116 These fiends take a cruel delight in torturing the souls for the very sins that they themselves had instigated. The degree of suffering is exactly proportioned to the transgression, and the form of punishment meted out corresponds in the same manner to the various crimes committed in this world. We may select only a few instances from the elaborate list of Viraf. The one that has slain a pious man is himself killed over and over again in hell as a punishment.117 He who has eaten unlawfully without saying grace starves eternally of hunger and thirst.118 The merchant who used false scales and sold adulterated goods on earth must day and night in hell measure bushels full of filth and then devour them.119 A tyrant king is tortured by being flogged by demons with darting serpents.120 A liar and a slanderer have [420] their tongues ever gnawed by noxious creatures.121 The law obtains in hell that all demons assail their victims from the front, but the demon of slander alone attacks from the rear, because a backbiter usually indulges in secret calumnies in the absence of a person.122 An apostate is converted into a creature with the head of a man and the body of a serpent.123 The person who in life has defiled the fire or the water through some pollution by means of dead matter must in hell continually devour dead matter.124 The man who withheld food from the dogs in this world has to offer them bread in plenty in the inferno, but they prefer to devour his flesh instead; nor do they give him a moment's respite.125 The individual who has removed the boundary stones of others and usurped their lands has to pay the penalty of digging a hill with his fingers and of carrying a mountain of stones on his back.126 One who has ill-treated cattle is ever trodden under their feet.127 This method of inflicting punishment analogous to the sins is so systematically carried out that in certain cases where the greater portion of the body of a sinner is exposed to torture corresponding to the sin a single limb may be exempted from the punishment, because it served as a medium of doing some good. For instance, a man whose whole body was either cooked in the caldron or was undergoing some other torment had one of his legs stretched out unmolested, because he had either shoved a wisp of hay before a hungry animal that was tied and could not reach it or killed some noxious creatures with it.128 He had not done any other good deed his whole life long.

116 Dd. 14.6; 32.11; Mkh. 21.11, 16, 17, 40, 43, 44.
117 AV. 21.1-5.
118 AV. 23.1-9.
119 AV. 27.1-7; 80.1-7.
120 AV. 28.1-6.
121 AV. 29.1-6; 33.1-6; 66.1-6.
122 Mkh. 2.12.
123 AV. 36.1-7.
124 AV. 38.1-7; 41.1-8.
125 AV. 48.1-7.
126 AV. 49.1-9; 50.1-6.
127 AV. 75.1-6.
128 SLS. 12.29; Sd. 4.3-11; AV. 32.1-6; 60.1-8.

All conceivable forms of physical torture prevail in hell. Viraf recounts the ghastly spectacle he had witnessed in the vision vouchsafed him of hell. The various kinds of most hideous tortures in hell are so dreadful that the torments and sufferings in this world dwindle into insignificance before them; and the worst of earthly calamities and inflictions present but a feeble and inadequate counterpart of their terror.129 Nay the memory [421] of the miseries on earth is the only joy for the unfortunate inmates of hell in contrast to the torment they have to undergo in the inferno. Viraf relates that the souls are ever gnawed by snakes and scorpions, worms and other noxious creatures, flogged with darting serpents as whips in the hands of demons, suspended head downwards by one leg or by the breasts in the case of women or, again, trodden under the feet of cattle. Iron spikes and wooden pegs are driven into their eyes; they are made to stand on hot brass and compelled to lick a hot oven with their tongues. A brazen caldron is constantly boiling, and is continually fed by the tens of thousands of wretched souls flung into it. Miserable as their lot is as they are cooked, it is made still more miserable by the fact that the fire that burns them never consumes them. On earth such miserable wretches could have hope that a merciful death would release them by bringing an end to their sufferings; but even that one solace is denied to the damned, for though the fire burns them unceasingly, their souls are equally eternal, and cannot therefore be annihilated.

129 Dd. 27.5.

Solitude in hell is appalling. One of the miseries that the souls have to endure in hell is its solitude.130 The souls stand as close to one another as the ear is to the eye, but each one feels itself alone and solitary; and though the souls be as many in number as hairs in the mane of a horse, each one feels that it is lost in solitude, with no eyes to see its sufferings and no ears to hear its groanings.131 A thousand souls are huddled together in the short space of a span, and yet every one is ignorant of the presence of others besides itself, and considers itself thrown out in the wilderness.132

130 Dk., vol. 7, p. 495.
131 AV. 54.5, 8.
132 Bd. 28.47

Intensity of the darkness and stench of hell. The infernal region is the abode of all darkness.133 The Avestan texts spoke of hell as the abode of darkness; in the Pahlavi texts the concept is intensified, and the darkness is conceived of as being so dense that it can be grasped by hand,134 and the stench such that it can be cut with a knife.135 All the wood in the world put on the fire would not emit a smell in this most stinking place.136

133 Dd. 33.4.
134 Phl. Vd. 5.62; 7.22; Mkh. 7.31; cf. Exodus 10.21.
135 Bd. 28.47
136 AV. 54.4.

The foulest food served to the sinners. The most fetid, putrid, and disgusting kinds of food are given to the sinners in hell,137 and these the wretched creatures devour in quantities, but yet remain eternally hungry and thirsty.138 Brimstone and lizard,139 poison and the venom of snakes, scorpions, and other noxious creatures,140 blood and filth, bodily refuse and excrement, impurity and menstrual discharge, dust and human flesh, dirt and ashes, form the variety of dishes that the infernal caterer supplies to the inmates of hell.141

137 Mkh. 2.190.
138 Dd. 32.8, 9.
139 Bd. 28.48.
140 Mkh. 2.191, 192.
141 AV. 20.1, 2; 23.1-3; 27.1, 2; 35.1, 2; 38.1, 2; 39.1, 2; 46.1, 2; 51.1, 2; 59.1, 2; 83.1; 91.1; 98.1.

Duration of punishment in hell. Mashya and Mashyoi, the first human couple, broke the divine commandment and lied unto Ahura Mazda; they were sent to hell, and will remain there until the Renovation.142 When a convert from Zoroastrianism to some other faith dies, his soul is sentenced to the sufferings of hell until the day of Resurrection.143 Punishment of long duration,144 or forever and eternal suffering are the expressions most frequently met with in connection with the duration of the souls in hell.145 This, however, refers only to the end of the cycle, the period of Renovation, when the world will be regenerated and all the sinners saved by the compassionate Lord. Ahura Mazda will not allow even the worst of the sinners to fall permanently into the hands of the Evil Spirit.146

142 Bd. 15.9.
143 Dd. 41.6.
144 Mkh. 2.186.
145 Dd.13.4; Dk., vol. 2, p. 83; vol. 3, p. 141; vol. 4, p. 264, 270; vol. 6, p. 355, 407; vol. 7, p. 432, 495; Mkh. 2.193; 40.31; AV. 64.13; 87.9.
146 SLS. 8.23; Dd. 75.4; Sg. 4.100, 101; 12.59; Dk., vol. 9, p. 627.

The souls find the time so slowly moving and tedious that when they have passed only three days and nights in the torments of hell, or sometimes even a single day, they feel as if nine thousand years had elapsed and as if it were already time for the day of Resurrection to come and bring them release from the prison of the inferno.147

147 AV. 18.11; 54.10, 11.



Those who further the work of the final restoration. The work of regenerating the world, which was commenced by Gayomard, the first man, and was looked forward to from the time of the Gathas, will be brought to completion and perfection by Soshyos, the last saviour.1 With Gayomard the curtain rose on the human drama. It will fall with the advent of Soshyos. Gayomard, Jamshid, Zaratusht, and all pious men who have worked for the betterment of the universe are among those that help in bringing about the final renovation.2 The great work proceeds with greater or lesser success according as mankind are stronger or weaker in the practice of righteousness at various periods. In two of his visions the prophet sees a tree with four and seven branches respectively. The branches are made of different metals and represent the various periods of the religious history of Zoroastrianism. The first and the golden branch represents the golden age of the faith under King Gushtasp, the silver and steel boughs symbolize a decadence, while the last, depicted by the iron branch, or age of the great catastrophe, is the period of the final overthrow of the empire, the overwhelming cataclysm that threatened to submerge the world except for the triumph of virtue and right.3 When the mighty work of reclaiming mankind from evil is accomplished, there will follow the Renovation of the universe.4 Those who work to bring this period nearer are said to be holding communion with Ohrmazd.5

1 Dk., vol. 1, p. 29.
2 Dd. 36.2.
3 BYt. 1.2-5; 2.14-22.
4 Dk., vol. 5, p. 332.
5 Dk., vol. 7, p. 426.

Saviours born immaculately. Ohrmazd sends his special messengers at various periods of chaos and confusion to save humanity from the clutches of Ahriman.6 This is clear in the Gathas as in the Younger Avesta. These Messianic heralds of the real truth to be embodied in the final Soshyos exemplify righteousness complete and translate the abstract teachings of [424] religion into concrete actions that thus make the seemingly incomprehensible intelligible and tangible to the masses. The most prominent among these leaders in the last three millenniums, as noted before, are the three sons that are to be born miraculously to Zaratusht, from his seed through a supernatural conception by a maid, bathing in the waters of Lake Kans (an idea as old as Yt. 19), and the names of these three ideal promoters of mankind, as perpetuated in the forms current during the Pahlavi period, are Hoshedar [Ushedar], Hoshedar-mah [Ushedarma], and Soshyos, who will appear at an interval of a millennium each.7 It is said that Zaratusht went three times near unto his wife Hvov, and that each time the seed went to the ground. On each of these three occasions, important for mankind, the spiritual seeds were caught up by the angel Neryosangh and intrusted to the keeping of Ardvisur, the divinity of waters, and from these sanctified waters they will be born in time to come, as miraculously conceived at different periods by three virgins.8 The advent of the all-beneficent renovators of the faith for the regeneration of the world will, as we shall see below, be attended with portents and miraculous signs.

6 Dk., vol. 1, p. 29.
7 Mkh. 2.95.
8 Bd. 32.8.

The millennium of Hoshedar [Ushedar]. A child is born to a virgin named Shemik-abu of the age of fifteen, who miraculously conceives Zaratusht's seed when she drinks the waters from a pool. The seed was emitted during the lifetime of Zaratusht and lay concealed in the waters until the maiden kindled the germs and became pregnant.9 The child thus immaculately born in the first of the three final millenniums of the world is named Hoshedar [Ushedar], a later modified corrupt transcript of the Avestan Ukhshyat-ereta. In the first of the last three thousand years of the world, before the final renovation and the resurrection, he holds, at the age of thirty, a conference with Ohrmazd and receives a revelation.10 When he returns from this divine conference, Hoshedar [Ushedar] makes the sun stand still for ten days and nights to convince the people, of the world about the authenticity of his mission.11 During his millennium, righteousness, liberality, and all the virtues [425] supreme will be practised by mankind more and more as the world slowly moves towards perfection during this aeon. Two-thirds of the people of Iran, according to the Pahlavi texts, will turn out righteous.12 The wisdom of the religion will constantly increase,13 the poverty of the people and the slaughter of cattle will decrease,14 as he is the benefactor that will help to remove the wickedness of the wolfish nature in mankind.15

9 Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7.8. 55-57, p. 105, 106.
10 BYt. 3.45; Dk., vol. 8, p. 485.
11 BYt. 3. 45, 46; Dk., vol. 4, p. 247; SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7.9.2, p. 107, 108.
12 Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7.9.13, p. 110.
13 Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7.9.2, p. 107, 108.
14 Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7.9. -11, p. 108-110.
15 Dk., vol. 1, p. 49; vol. 2, p. 128; vol. 3, p. 133; vol. 6, p. 378.

The millennium of Hoshedar-mah [Ushedarmah]. A maiden named Shapir-abu is destined to approach the waters and conceive thereby, again through the second seed of Zaratusht. The virgin who has never approached man gives birth to a child who is named Hoshedar-mah [Ushedarmah], an imperfect rendering of the Avestan Ukhshyat-nemangh,15a who confers with Ohrmazd.16 At the age of thirty years he announces his advent by making the sun to stand still for twenty days and twenty nights.17 His benign presence and Messianic power, it is destined, will destroy the wicked product of every serpentine and monster engendure.18 Mankind greatly advances toward the realization of the final goal of perfection during this millennium. Cattle give milk in great quantities. In connection with this millennial view, it may be added, from the Pahlavi texts of this later period, that the small cattle which give milk will give milk then in redoubled quantity, and a cow will give as much milk as could be used by a thousand men. Hunger and thirst decrease, as the world reaches nearer to its perfection. A single meal will be sufficient to satisfy a man for three days.19 Mankind will furthermore become so versed in the art of healing, and in the science of physical culture, that they will be able to withstand disease and death more successfully.20 Humility, peace, and liberality will be now and forever more zealously practised by men.21

15a Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7.9.18-20, p. 111.
16 Dk., vol. 8, p. 486.
17 Dk., vol. 4, p. 247; SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7.9.21, p. 111; 10.2, p. 112, 113.
18 Dk., vol. 1, p. 49; vol. 2, p. 128; vol. 3, p. 133; vol. 6, p. 378, 379.
19 Bd. 30.2; Dk.,SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7.10.2, p. 112, 113.
20 BYt. 3.53.
21 Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7.10.3, p. 113.

The millennium of Soshyos. The world, according to the Pahlavi texts, which carry onward the ideal teachings of Zaratusht [426] in the Gathas as developed further in the Younger Avesta, is ever striving and tending toward final betterment, and will reach perfection in the millennium of Soshyos. It needs only the final touch of this greatest of the renovators to bring about this result for the eternal welfare of the universe. Men by this time, when these millennial conditions have been reached, have ceased eating meat, and subsist on milk and vegetables.22 Even milk, according to the Pahlavi works, is gradually given up, and water and vegetables form the only food of mankind.23 The Bundahishn, moreover, adds that, before the Resurrection and the Renovation of the universe occur, men will give up milk, vegetables, and even water, and they will ultimately subsist without food of any kind, and yet not die.24 Still another Pahlavi text states that during the period of the fifty-seven years of the activity of this last apostle mankind will be able to subsist for seventeen years simply on vegetables, then thirty on water alone, and for the last ten years on spiritual food.25

22 Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7.10.8, p. 114.
23 Bd. 30.1; Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7.10.9, p. 114.
24 Bd. 30.3.
25 Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7.11.4, p. 117.

At this time, according to the texts, when the world is ripe to welcome the last of the prophets, a virgin named Gobak-abu conceives immaculately the third seed of Zaratusht in the same manner as her two forerunners had done. At the age of fifteen she becomes pregnant and gives birth to the most illustrious Soshyos in the realm of Khvaniras.26 When the final saviour is thirty years of age, the sun stands still in the zenith of the sky for thirty days and nights;27 through his supernal power the demoniac nature among men will be broken.28 He will then cause the Resurrection and the future existence.29 His body, which is as radiant as the sun, partakes only of spiritual food and he is clad with kingly glory. Around him he looks with the power of six eyes and he it is that foresees the end of the Evil Spirit.30 He is the greatest renovator of the world.31 He comes to restore the dead to life,32 and to bring final perfection to the world.33

26 Bd. 11.6; Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7.10. 15-18, p. 115.
27 Dk., vol. 4, p. 247; SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7.10.19, p. 116.
28 Dk., vol. 6, p. 379.
29 Bd.11.6; Gs.133.
30 Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7.11.2, 3, p. 116, 117.
31 Dk., vol. 7, p. 485.
32 Gs. 133.
33 Dk., vol. 1, p. 29.
34 Dk., vol. 1, p. 49; vol. 2, p 128.
35 Dk., vol. 2, p. 111, 112.
36 Dk., vol. 8, p. 486.
37 Ib.
38 Dk., vol. 9, p. 617.

The collaborators of Soshyos. Ohrmazd has ordained that Soshyos will be helped by certain great persons who have departed from the world, but who remain immortal and are still living in the body, and are yet to exert sway. The chief among these personages, potent for the eternal welfare of mankind, are, Peshyotan, Aghrerat, Parsadga, Urvatadnar, Narsih, Tus, Giv, Ibairaz, Ashavazd,39 with a thousand others.40 Kaikhusru will arise to help Soshyos in the raising of the dead;41 Peshyotan, or Chitra-mahan, will lend help with his hundred and fifty disciples.42 Still another Pahlavi passage speaks of fifteen men and fifteen women among the living that are to come to the help of Soshyos.43 They will all leaven the rest of mankind. Zohak, who is put in chains on Mount Demavand, shall even at the last, break loose from the bonds in which he has been confined,44 and as a monster-man will return to the world and disturb the righteous creation.45 At the command of Ohrmazd, his ministers Srosh and Neryosangh approach the body of Kersasp and raise it from the dead. The hero then rises up and slays Zohak.46 Soshyos and six of his companions, Roshn-chashm, Khur-chashm, Fradat-gadman, Varedat-gadman, Kamak-Vakhshishn, and Kamak-sud, all of which names have a spiritual significance, [428] will divide the work between them, and each of them will act in one of the seven zones.47 Every one will miraculously communicate with the other of his six colleagues in the other zones. They will read each other's thoughts from a distance and will thus converse just as two men sitting close together would do.48 The work of the renovation of the world will last for fifty-seven years, the number already referred to.49 Full fifty years of this beneficent activity will be devoted to the seventh zone Khvaniras, where Zaratusht himself was the spiritual chief,50 and where Soshyos himself is working.51 All evil will perish during these fifty-seven years, and goodness prevail among mankind, and men will embrace righteousness and zealously practise religion before the final raising of the dead.52 Disease and death, apostasy and vice, depravity and every fiendish influence, will perish during this period.53 The world will be restored to its primal state.

39 Bd. 29.5, 6; Dd. 36.3. 40 Jsp. p. 119.
41 Dd. 36.3; Mkh. 27.59, 63; 57.7; Dk., vol. 7, p. 485; SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7.10.10, p. 114.
42 Dk., vol. 5, p. 275; SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7.8.45, 46, p. 104; BYt. 3.27, 29.
43 Bd. 30.17.
44 BYt. 3.55, 56; cf. Revelation, 20.2, 7-10. 45 BYt. 3.57.
46 Bd. 29. 7-9; Dd. 36.3; 37.97; BYt. 3.59-61; Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7.10.10, p. 114; vol. 37, bk. 9.15.2, p. 198, 199; Jsp. p. 118, 119.
47 Dd. 36.5.
48 Dd.36.6.
49 Bd. 30.7; Dd. 36.5.
50 Bd. 29.2.
51 Dd. 36.7. 52 Dk., vol. 5, p. 277.
53 Dk., SBE.,vol. 47, bk. 7, 11.4, 5, p. 117.

Resurrection of the dead. The preliminary work of the renovators is to raise again to life all those who have died from the time of Gayomard, the primeval man, down to the last man Soshyos, and then give them their respective bodies.54 It is natural that the world could not at this period be quite empty of men. Those who happen to be living at the time when the period of renovation approaches near shall abstain from eating, live without food, and live so virtuously that even the offspring that are born unto them at this period will be of spiritual nature. All these, therefore, will be ready to enter the ranks of the dead who will now receive new bodies.55

54 Dk., vol 5. p. 332.
55 Dd. 35.1-4.

The dead will be made to rise from the place where they had yielded up their lives in the world.56 Zaratusht questions Ohrmazd in this connection, according to the Pahlavi texts, regarding the questions of forming again the bodies of the dead, inasmuch as the material frames of the dead have perished and been reduced to dust.57 Ohrmazd, thereupon, tells the prophet that even as it was possible for him to have created something from nothing, [429] when nothing at all existed, and as he was able to create the sky and the earth, the sun and the moon, and the stars, fire and water, clouds and wind, grain and mankind, in fact everything that formerly had no existence, it would not be difficult for him at the Resurrection to form anew something that had already existed.58 Mohammed likewise tells those that doubt, that if God could create them out of nothing, it was certainly possible for him to bring them back to life after death. The spirit of the earth, the water, the plants, and the fire will at that time restore the bones, blood, hair, life, and other materials which had been committed to them by God in the beginning, and in this manner the bodies will be formed anew.59 And in another Pahlavi work it is said that just as it is easier to teach what once was learnt but was forgotten than it is to teach that which had never been learnt, and as it is easier to repair a house than to build a new one, even so is it easier to bring to pass the restoration of the creation than in the beginning the original creation out of nothing.60

56 Bd. 30.7; SLS. 17.11-14.
57 Bd. 30.4.
58 Bd. 30.5.
59 Bd. 30.6.
60 Dd.37.5.

All those resurrected will be furnished with their bodily frames by the command of Ohrmazd.61 The first body thus raised up will be that of Gayomard, the father of mankind. Then will follow the first couple, Mashya and Mashyoi, and then the rest of mankind, whether righteous or wicked.62 Exceptions to this general statement are found in other Pahlavi texts, but the tone is in general the same. Men of demoniac nature, sodomites, apostates, and the hateful Afrasiab will not be given their bodies, for these arch-enemies of religion are no longer men, but have converted themselves into fiends and must consequently share the fate of their class.63

61 Dk., vol. 6, p. 359. 62 Bd. 30.7.
63 SLS. 17.7; Dk., vol 3. p. 144.

Universal judgment. A further arraignment at the judgment seat now takes place. The righteous and the wicked souls are now gathered together in one place and are subjected to the collective, or universal judgment. Every soul at this judicial session sees its good and its evil deeds, and the wicked man becomes as conspicuous as a white sheep among the black.64 Ohrmazd [430] himself takes a final and decisive account of the souls, and pronounces definitely upon them, for he remembers in each detail the several individual judgments passed in connection with every one of the myriads of the wicked souls after their death, as well as the just.65 From his judgment there is no appeal. The souls called together in this great and last judicial assembly recognize each other after the long separation.66 The father sees his son, and the brother meets his sister, the husband greets his wife, the relative welcomes his kinsman, and the friend inquires after the experience of his friend. Everyone eagerly narrates his or her account of the joys or sorrows during the long period of separation from their comrades of the material world.67 The wicked ones taunt their righteous friends or relatives with the bitter reproach that it had not been good on their part to have practised righteousness themselves, and yet to have left them unwarned in the indulgence of vice.68 The righteous weep for the wicked, and the wicked weep for themselves in the midst of this universal mourning while the righteous are being separated from the wicked and sent back to heaven.69 So far they had enjoyed bliss and felicity in their spiritual condition, they now enter heaven in body, and have the satisfaction of seeing even the bodily grievances of their earthly life adjusted.

64 Bd. 30.10; cf. Jackson, Persia Past and Present, p. 75, New York, 1906.
65 Dd. 14.5.
66 Bd. 30.9.
67 Bd. 30.21,
68 Bd. 30.11.
69 Bd. 30.12, 14, 15.

Bodily punishment. The wicked are now cast back to hell, where they suffer bodily punishment for three days.70 Hitherto their life in hell was torment of the spirit, now in the very body that on earth was instrumental in bringing the spiritual fall of the soul suffers materially. It is said that the wicked soul suffers three kinds of punishment at three different periods. Firstly, in this world during the earthly life; secondly, in hell from the night after the individual's death up to the period of the Renovation in spiritual form; and thirdly, now for three days in hell in the bodily form.71

70 Bd. 30.13.
71 Phl. Vd. 7.52.

Ordeal of molten metal. The final punishment of being tortured in hell and burnt in a river of molten metal for three nights, after Ohrmazd's judgment is given, is in store for the wicked souls. A comet, named Gochihar will fall from heaven and melt all metals and minerals in the earth, and will burn [431] up the world in a general conflagration. A boiling flood of the metals of Shatravar will then flow over the earth,72 and the righteous as well as the wicked souls will be made to pass into it.73 In this glowing flood the wicked souls will be purged of their sins, so that they become wholly purified,74 while the righteous will feel as if they were walking in warm milk.75 The torture of the worst' sinners, such as Zohak, Afrasiab, and the rest, during these three nights is more intense than that of all others.76 This final conflagration brings freedom of the sinners from the prison of hell.77

72 Bd. 30.18, 19; cf. Revelation, 8.10; 9.1.
73 Jsp. p. 119, 120.
74 Bd. 30.20; Dd. 32.12, 13; 37.110, 111; Mkh. 21.10.
75 Bd. 30.20.
76 Bd. 30.16.
77 Dk., vol. 2, p. 104; vol. 8. p. 476.

The righteous and the wicked shall no longer remain as divided, but unite into one. Then, following the great conflagration, there will be the final renovation of the world. The sinners who have been thus purified and purged of their sins by the fiery metal become worthy of eternal bliss;78 and that final punishment will absolve them of their sins.79 The entire creation of Ohrmazd now becomes virtuous.80 The wicked no longer remain wicked,81 but become righteous.82 The angels under whose influence they had done good deeds in the world approach them and give joy to them in the proportion of these good deeds.83 The happiness of the souls that were already righteous is far greater than that of the wicked who had been cleansed through torture and punishment.84 The erring children are now restored to the bosom of the Heavenly Father, and Ohrmazd now takes back the entire creation to himself.85

78 Dd. 14.8; Dk., vol. 5, p. 332; vol. 9, p. 627.
79 Dk., vol. 6, p. 421.
80 Dk., vol. 7, p. 458, 469.
81 Phl. Vd. 7.52.
82 Dd. 32.14.
83 Dd. 32.15.
84 Ib., 16.
85 Dk., vol. 12, bk. 6.279, p. 7.

The removal of the imperfection of the material bodies of men. The completion of heavenly bliss requires that it be everlasting. The human soul is immortal, but the body is not so. Therefore Soshyos and his companions prepare through an Izishna ceremony a nectar from the fat of the ox Hadhayosh [432] and the white Hom juice, through a draught of which all beings become immortal forever and everlasting.86 Every one is given an immortal body and becomes as innocent in nature as cattle.87 The entire good creation is henceforth immortal.88 Any one who was a full grown man when he had died is given the appearance of a man of forty years of age; and those who died at an early age are given the stature of a youth of fifteen years.89 Husbands and wives united with their children live together, even as they lived and acted in this world, but there is no begetting of children.90 Their existence in paradise is accompanied by the full enjoyment of their reward for ever and ever.91 Those that had not given clothes as a righteous gift in the world and were now consequently without clothes themselves are provided with garments by the angels.92 They are hungerless and thirstless, undecaying and undying, undistressed and ever-beneficial.93 Neither a blow, nor a knife, nor a sword, nor a club, nor a stone, nor an arrow hurts the body, for it is now perfected and is immune from pain of any sort.94 Bodily ailments have vanished.95 The portals of eternal bliss are now flung open to the whole humanity.96

86 Bd. 19. 13; 30.25; Dd. 37.119.
87 Dk., vol. 1, p. 50; vol. 6, p. 421.
88 Dk., vol. 4, p. 204; vol. 7, p. 472. 89 Jsp. p. 120.
90 Bd. 30.26.
91 Bd. 30.27.
92 Bd. 30.28; cf. 2 Corinthians 5.2-4; Revelation 3.4, 5; 6.11; 7.9; 19.8.
93 Dd. 37.119.
94 Dd. 37.122-125.
95 Dk., vol. 4, p. 234.
96 Dk., vol. 5, p. 332.

The last decisive battle between the forces of good and evil. Then will follow the last and decisive battle of the eternal war between the rival armies of Ohrmazd and Ahriman. Every one of the good spirits will combat with his adversary, and in every case the success will be on the side of the good. Ohrmazd assails Ahriman, Vohuman seizes on Akoman, Artavahisht on Indar, Shatravar on Sovar, Spandarmad on Taromat or Naonghas. Khurdad and Amardad on Tairev and Zairich, Truth on Falsehood and Srosh on Eshm.97 Druj will perish.98 Hell itself is burnt out. Ohrmazd comes down to the world and acts as the [433] Zota, sacrificial priest, together with Srosh as his Raspi, and holds the sacred thread-girdle in his hands. The holy formulas confound the Evil Spirit, who, now impotent, rushes back to darkness by the same passage through which he had come out at the beginning of creation.99

97 Bd. 30.29.
98 Dk., vol. 6, p. 421.
99 Bd. 30.30.

Demon and fiend, deceit and falsehood, strife and anger, hatred and ill-temper, pain and disease, want and greediness, shame and fear, all perish.100-101 Evil of every kind disappears, and good of every kind is perfected.102 Ohrmazd at last becomes completely predominant,103 and his Kingdom of Righteousness is built upon the earth.

100-101 Dd. 37.120, 121.
102 Dd. 37.122.
103 Dd. 7.3.

Humanity attunes its will to the will of Ohrmazd. All men now become of one will104 and remain of one accord in the faith of Ohrmazd,105 giving voice in song to the Glory of their Lord.106 On no account will their will be in conflict with the divine will, but will ever coincide with it.107 They now live in the blessed company of Ohrmazd,108 and work to exalt his glory.

104 Dd. 37.127.
105 Dk., SBE.,vol. 47, bk. 7. 11.6, p. 117.
106 Bd. 30.23.
107 Dk., vol. 5, p. 332.
108 Dk., vol. 8, p. 436.
[434 is blank]




[436 is blank]




Iran sinks before the hordes of Arabs. The death of Khusru Parviz, who had waged the last war in the standing rivalry with the West, heralded the collapse of the Persian empire. The death-knell of the national greatness had been struck when with the advent of the weak kings on the throne the commanders, who felt the allegiance of the army to them rather than to the person of the king, persuaded the army to revolt. Rival princes strove to assert their respective rights to the throne. Court intrigues and strifes became rife. The long wars with the Romans in the far West and the Eastern hordes near at home, whose inroads were facilitated by the unfavourable geographical position of Persia, had exhausted the national resources. Famine and plague had extended their ravages over the whole country. Unbridled luxury, with all its concomitant vices, was imported from foreign lands, and the simplicity of life inculcated by Zarathushtra and zealously upheld by the Dasturs was abandoned. The masses did not escape the contagion of the luxury and vice of the nobility, and the love of simplicity was replaced by a feverish worship of pleasure. The simple habits fostered by agricultural pursuits were on the wane; and the entire social fabric of Iran was seriously dislocated. The springs of patriotism were sapped, and the bravery with which the Persians of old had faced their national foes was weakened. The age of valour had given place to an age of weakness and decay.

These causes aggravated the downfall of Iran and foreshadowed the coming catastrophe, and there was none to come out as a saviour in this the darkest period of the nation's agony, so as to avert the impending ruin. In the midst of this chaos and confusion, Yazdagard III, the last of the illustrious house of Sasan, sat on the tottering throne.

Since Zoroaster founded his religion, Persia played her conspicuous [438] part as one of the mightiest empires of the world in Asia, Africa, and Europe. During this long period when mighty empires rose and fell and great events in human history took place, the peninsula of Arabia harboured a vast population that led its uneventful, independent life. The pastoral people were divided into innumerable tribes always at war with one another. These sons of the desert were generous and hospitable, active and of rugged virtues. They were inured to fatigue and scorching rays of the sun. They made predatory excursions upon neighbouring peoples. Internal feuds kept them divided.

On a sudden, the greatest and most marvellous revolution of human history overtook Arabia, which soon changed the history of mankind. Arabia gave a great prophet to the world. Mohammed united the discordant, warring tribes into one people and bound them with one common religious and political bond. He breathed new life into the multitude and made them conscious of their power. He leavened the masses, elevated their morals, taught them a higher form of worship, and instilled in them a sense of the dignity of human nature. He inspired them with religious fervour and animated them with burning enthusiasm for one mighty cause, the spread of Islam. To their traditional warlike zeal, he added religious enthusiasm and this combination made them irresistible. They fought with fiery zeal, reckless valour, and fanatic fury. They broke the mightiest empires of the world and changed the destinies of mankind.

Pulsating with the vigour and zeal of youth, and frenzied by the sudden rise of fortune, the host of these formidable foes overran Iran in the first half of the seventh century; and the decisive battles of Qadisiya and Nihavand sealed her fate. The Kingly Glory that had guarded the fortunes of the nation had flown away, and the star of Islam had risen. The Crescent superseded the Kava banner, Shahinshah was followed by Caliph, Ohrmazd was replaced by Allah. Zaratusht gave place to Mohammed, the Koran supplanted the Avesta, and the thrilling cry of the Muazzin from the minaret of the mosque drowned the intonations of the Mobad at the altar in the fire-temple and proclaimed; God is great. There is no God but God, and Mohammed is the prophet of God.

Persecution and conversion. The Iranian nation now broke into pieces. There was not the remotest chance of its ever [439] rising to power again. Confusion and chaos became rampant. The sufferings wrought on the faithful by the conquering hordes defy description. Tens of thousands embraced Islam, and threw in their lot with the conquerors to find relief from the persecution that raged around them. Many went over to the new faith because it enabled them to preserve their power and influence. Others became converts, because conversion brought to them exemption from the payment of the poll-tax. Similar causes contributed to the conversion of the Zoroastrians to Islam in the course of successive centuries. Many embraced Islam under the influence of Abu Muslim during the eighth century. The Samanid dynasty (a.d. 874-999) is named after Saman, a Zoroastrian noble of Balkh. He claimed his descent from the famous warrior Bahram Chaubin. He gave up his faith for the religion of Mohammed. The Zoroastrian king of the Qabusiyya dynasty adopted Islam at the beginning of the ninth century. The influence of Daylam brought many Zoroastrians to Islam during the end of the ninth century. The Zoroastrian poet named Mahyar gave up his ancestral religion under the influence of his Mohammedan poet friend who had instructed him in the art of poetry. Those that were more devoted to the national faith resolved to stick to it at any cost. In this they were imitating their prophet who, when tempted by Ahriman to renounce the good Mazdayasnian religion, had said that he would not do so even to save his body or his life.1 The inevitable had come, but they could not afford to resign themselves to it. If they fostered the spirit of resignation and despair, they would be wiped away from the surface of the earth in the intense struggle for existence. Zoroastrianism inspired them from within to assert themselves, even in the face of disheartening obstacles of such magnitude and the fear of coming calamities that were ever imminent. If Ahriman had reduced them to such an abject state, it was cowardice to succumb to his doing. It was heroic to revolt against it.

1 Vd. 19.7.

The frequent ravages caused by the inroads of the Tartar and Turk, Mongol and Afghan hordes added to the hardships of the Iranians. Persecutions checkered their progress. Century after century their number decreased by repeated conversions to Islam. When Agha Mohammed Khan, the founder of the Qajar [440] dynasty, laid a siege to Kerman during the end of the eighteenth century, there were about twelve thousand Zoroastrian families in that city alone. About a thousand families have come over to India during the last century. There are about three thousand families left in Iran to-day. Writing to their coreligionists in India in the fifteenth century, they complain that ever since the overthrow of the empire they are living under such troublesome times that the atrocities of a Zohak, or an Afrasiab, or an Alexander, pale before what they have been suffering for nine centuries.2 The unfortunate people were denied freedom of thought, safety of life and property, and human justice up to the end of the last century. They retired within themselves, and struggled to eke out an unhappy existence. They slept smarting under the indignities inflicted on them during the day, were haunted by the spectre of persecution in their dreams, and awoke in the morning with gloomy thoughts of the impending morrow. At best they were suffered to exist, they could not live humanly. This was the veritable iron age of Zoroastrianism and its followers, spoken of in the Bahman Yasht. Zoroastrianism had struggled for its very existence during this period in Persia, and its followers during such troublesome times had to practise their religious rites by stealth.

2 Patell, Parsi Prakash, vol. I., p. 6, Bombay, 1888.

Almost every vestige of Iranian scholarship perishes. The literary edifice of Iran had crumbled along with the empire, after the invasion of Alexander the Great. What little the nation was able to restore during the Sasanian period fell now once more before the devastating fury of the Arabs. Iranian culture never truly emerged from the shock of this final blow. Many of the most famous writers who have contributed to the Arabic literature and science were themselves Zoroastrian converts to Islam or descendants of those who had embraced Islam in earlier days. We look in vain in the extant Pahlavi literature for the literary works of merit on secular subjects by the Zoroastrian writers. These have evidently perished. We meet with occasional attempts on the part of the priests to save the literary tradition from extinction. The fall of the Umayyads and the ascendency of the Abbasid Caliphs in 749, by the help of the Persians, succeeded in supplanting the Arab supremacy by a Persian power. The Abbasids owed their elevation to the throne to the [441] Persians, who now rose to power and influence. Persian method of administration, and Persian food, dress and music prevailed at the royal court and among the people. The observance of the Nuruz, the festival of the New Year, was introduced. Ministers of Persian extraction came to the head of affairs. A noble Persian family, known to history, as the Barmicide, descended from Barmak, who was the high-priest of the great fire-temple of Navbahar at Balkh, remained in power for over fifty years (a.d. 752-804) and wisely directed the affairs of the Caliphate. The Zoroastrians got a favourable opportunity of peacefully conducting their literary activities; and some of the important Pahlavi works that have come down to us were produced during this period, more particularly in the reign of al-Mamun, (a.d. 813-833). After that era the literary activity appears to have been arrested, for no original works were produced that can be assigned to the period following. The work of copying manuscripts, however, was carried on up to modern times, and it is owing to the zealous activity of faithful adherents to the cause that the ancient works have reached us.

A glimpse into the religious life of the Iranians during the centuries that followed. From this period onward we have very little knowledge of the religious life of the stray remnants of Zoroastrians in Persia. The insufficiency of the data prevents us from forming any very clear opinion about their beliefs. What little information we have of this period comes mostly from the Mohammedan writers.
Masudi wrote about a.d. 950 that Avesta came as revelation from heaven. Zend is commentary. Those who differed from the Avesta were called Zendiks, because they based their statements on the Zend rather than the original Avesta. Al-Biruni, who flourished about a.d. 1000, gives some scattered information on miscellaneous matters of religious practice, which he gathered from the Zoroastrians of his day. We shall select some points of interest from his description. The angel Srosh, he notes, is spoken of as the most powerful angel against the sorcerers, and he visits the world three times during the night to rout them. It was Srosh who introduced the practice of Zam-zama, that is, reciting one's prayers with closed lips and emitting inarticulate sounds or in bAj, as the Zoroastrians do to this present day. Artavahisht, as the genius of fire and light, watches [442] over mankind, he says, and heals diseases with drugs, but besides this, as the genius who presides at the ordeal by fire, distinguishes a truth-speaking man from a liar.3 We have already seen that by the end of the Pahlavi period the sharp distinction between man's soul and his Farohar was forgotten, and both were regarded as one and the same. Commenting upon the observance of the Fravardigan festival, or the days set apart for the propitiation of the Farohars, in his own time, al-Biruni says that the Zoroastrians believed that the souls of the dead, both righteous and wicked, descended to the earth during these ten days. They, therefore, fumigated the house with juniper, and put dishes of food and drink on the roofs of their houses, in the pious expectation that the souls would inhale their savour and receive nourishment and comfort. The pious souls, moreover, assumed invisible forms, dwelt among their relatives, and took part in their affairs.4 Spandarmad, he observes, is the guardian of the earth and of chaste women who are devoted to their husbands. On the fifth day of the twelfth month, both of which take their names after this archangel, the author says people write a charm on three pieces of paper to scare away the noxious creatures and fix them on three walls of their house.5 The custom lingers in some Parsi families in India up to this day. People get a Pahlavi incantation written by the priests, preferably in red, and stick it to the front door of their houses. Zoroastrianism never enjoined days of fast, and we have already seen from the Pahlavi works that fasting was regarded a sin. The injunction not to fast seems to have been faithfully followed, for al-Biruni attests that he who observed a fast was compelled to feed some needy persons by way of expiation for his sin.6 Zoroastrians were generally called fire-worshippers. Firdausi admonishes his coreligionists on the point and asks them not to speak of the Zoroastrians as fire-worshippers because they were the worshippers of one holy God. Kazwini, writing about a.d. 1263, says that Zoroaster made the fire a Kibla and not a god.7

3 Chronology, tr. Sachau. p. 204, London, 1879.
4 Ib., p. 210.
5 Ib., p. 216.
6 Ib., p. 217.
7 Cosmography, ii. p. 267. ed. Wustenfeld, Gottingen, 1848.

We have already seen that the religious dissensions during the Parthian and Sasanian periods had racked the Zoroastrian [443] world. Sects and heresies had sprung up in consequence. Several of these flourished in Iran for centuries after the downfall of the Persian empire. Shahristani (a.d. 1086-1153) in his Book of Sects attests the existence of some of these in his times. The more prominent of these were the Mazdakites, Zarvanites, and the Gayomarthians. The latter sect, about which we hear for the first time, evidently derived its name from Gayomard, the primeval man. The followers of this sect, we are told, believe in an eternal being who is called Yazdan. This first principle, it is said, existed when there was nothing beside him; he entertained a thought in his mind on the probability of the origin of an adversary. This evil thought originated Ahriman, the spirit of darkness. Ever since the manifestation of this evil one, there goes on a fierce war between the powers of light and darkness.8

8 Haarbrücker, Religionspartheien und Philosophenschulen, 1, p. 276, 277, Halle, 1850.

This appears to be still another attempt to palliate dualism which has ever been the crux of Zoroastrianism. The question comes up time after time and was the cause of many sectarian divisions among the believers. Mohammed strongly urges the unity of God. He preaches rigid monotheism. Iblis or satan, in his system, is a fallen angel and, unlike Ahriman, owes his existence to God. Worshipping two gods must have been the taunt hurled at the doctors of the Zoroastrian Church by the Moslem divines. Those among the Mazdayasnians who seem to have viewed dualism as a flaw in their religious system apparently endeavoured to give it a monistic form by declaring that Yazdan originated Ahriman.

The Zoroastrian author of the Ulama-i Islam, a controversial treatise in Persian, written in about the fourteenth century, acquaints us with the different opinions held in his own day, to account for this ever-recurring problem. Himself a Zarvanite, the author attests the existence of several different sects, who variously held that both Ohrmazd and Ahriman have originated from Time, or that Ohrmazd himself permitted evil to exist in order that his goodness might be better appreciated, or that Ahriman was a reprobate angel who revolted from Ohrmazd.9

9 Tr. Vullers, p. 52, Bonn, 1831; tr. Blochet, p. 22, Paris, 1898.

A Persian treatise entitled Siwar-i Akalim-i Sab'ah, or [444] Sketches of Seven Countries, composed at the beginning of the fifteenth century, states that the Magi believe God and Iblis to be two brothers. A thousand years of the world are a cycle of God, and a thousand of Satan.10

10 Eng. tr. by Yohannan and Jackson in JAOS., vol. 28, p. 183-188.

The Rivayat literature, a collection of questions and answers on ritual observances exchanged between the Parsis of India and their coreligionists in Persia, between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, enables us to gain an insight into the theological beliefs of the Zoroastrians of Persia during that time, and as these Rivayats were compiled in India, we shall recur to them when we discuss the Indian period.

The Zoroastrian community in Persia, during these centuries lay steeped in the grossest ignorance and darkness. Although the condition of the Zoroastrians in their fatherland had been growing more and more precarious, they still had succeeded, amid chaos and confusion, in maintaining for a considerably long time their superiority over their Indian coreligionists in the knowledge of their sacred literature. We shall see in the subsequent pages how the Indian Parsis had to look to the Iranians for enlightenment in religious matters. The learned Iranian Mobad Jamasp, who came from Kerman to Surat in 1721, found the state of the intelligence of the Zoroastrian priests in India so low that he resolved to impart religious instruction to some of the leading high priests during the period of his stay in the land. The Dasturs of Surat, Navsari, and Broach consequently became his disciples;11 and the first of these, Dastur Darab, later became the teacher of Anquetil du Perron. But the times later changed. Zoroastrian scholarship could not thrive in Persia, as it was able to do under the conditions in India. The mother-country to-day has to look to her thriving children living in India for religious instruction, and for masters from the adopted land able to teach the Zoroastrian Persians themselves, as Persia has not been in a position for more than a hundred years to give any real instruction to the Indian Parsis, or to produce any literary work that could throw light on their sacred books. Zoroaster's teachings had, for a century, been losing their hold upon the community of the faithful in Iran. When the representative of the Society for the [445] Amelioration of the Zoroastrians in Persia, founded by the munificence of the Parsis of India, first visited Persia in the middle of the last century, he found persons of full age living without the sacred shirt and girdle, the indispensable marks of a Zoroastrian. He saw them smoking tobacco without any compunction. Superstition had been rampant.

11 Patell, Parsi Prakash, vol. 1, p. 23, 24, Bombay, 1888.

It was manifest the pristine purity of the faith had departed with the greatness and glory of the Iranian nation. The sacred fire, kindled by the holy prophet in the remote past, was still there, it is true, but the demon Az had stretched his icy hands to extinguish it, leaving the fire of Ohrmazd only smouldering in ashes upon the altar. Nevertheless, though shorn of its innate radiance, its sparks were not quenched, and its ashes were still hot; only a Tansar or an Adarbad was needed to fan it into flame.

Such has been the tale of sorrow and suffering of the group that chose to remain behind their enterprising coreligionists who engendered by a spirit of adventure, set sail for India and planted their colonies in Gujarat. Different is the story that the Indian group has to tell us. It is one of phenomenal progress, unprecedented prosperity, social regeneration, and religious revival. To this we shall now turn.




The Deva-worshippers of India greet the Daeva-abjurers of Iran. After the collapse of the house of Sasan, several hundreds of the adventurous people, not finding any human court in which to lodge their complaints, resolved to abandon their fatherland in quest of a more peaceful home, where they could practise their faith with a liberty of conscience so ruthlessly denied them by their conquerors. A burning passion for their ancient home and love for liberty of conscience clashed. The latter conquered and a noble band of Iranian exiles now streamed to India in successive waves. Here they found an asylum. India, the land of the devas, magnanimously welcomed the fugitives of Iran, whose religion had branded their devas as evil. The fire of Ohrmazd found a hospitable hearth in the new land which the early Parsi settlers adopted as their home. The Parsi athravan tended his sacred fire, even as the Hindu atharvan did his in the next street. The Parsi Mobad performed the Yasna ceremony and squeezed the Haoma plant, as his Hindu Brahman neighbour practised his Yajnya rites and pounded Soma.

Reviling each other's gods, yet living peacefully together. We have already seen that the points of difference between the religious beliefs of the two nations are as many as are the points of resemblance between them. This is seen in the daily practices of the two peoples. The Hindu rises in the morning to begin his day's work with the devout utterance of the devas on his lips, the Parsi leaves his bed cursing them. One invokes them with his uplifted hands, the other lashes them with his sacred girdle. The Hindu anathematizes the asuras as the infernal beings, the Parsi pays his homage to the ahuras as the celestial beings. Such is the manner in which the Indian and Iranian branches of the Aryan family have behaved towards each other for a thousand years in India where they met each other once more after the long ages of separation.


A period of literary arrest. The unsettled times that followed the first settlement of the Parsis in India were unfavourable to literary activity. Centuries full of hardships intervened before Zoroastrianism gained a real foothold in India and secured for its adherents some means of livelihood in this new country of their adoption. Severe was the struggle and terrible was the trial of the faithful throughout the vicissitudes of all this early period. Poverty, an insurmountable barrier to progress of any kind, haunted the faithful followers of Zoroaster for a long time. When we look at the condition of the times, it is no wonder that the literary movement among the Parsis was arrested for a considerable interval before these emigrants succeeded in adapting themselves to the changed circumstances in which they were placed. Religious knowledge orally transmitted from generation to generation, however, kept alive the native tradition; but no written works have come down to us of this period. With our slender resources we are unable to ascertain the precise scope of the literary activity of the first five or six centuries of Parsi settlement in India.

Pahlavi studies. After an absolute blank extending over a period of three centuries, we come across the only literary composition of this period in the form of the Pahlavi inscriptions in one of the Kanheri caves near Bombay, which record the two visits of some Parsi travellers in 1009 and 1021 a.d.1 Pahlavi seems to have long remained the literary language of the learned Zoroastrian priests in India; and the traditional knowledge of the language had not become extinct. Though the insufficiency of data prevents us from saying anything with certainty, we cannot be wide of the truth when we say that a number of learned priests had with unflagging zeal kept the torch of Iranian scholarship burning. The masterly Sanskrit version of the Pahlavi texts done in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries is an eloquent evidence of this.

1 West, The Pahlavi Inscriptions at Kanheri in Indian Antiquary, 9. 265-8, Bombay, 1880.

Parsi-Sanskrit literature. Some of the Parsi scholars, who frequently came into contact with the learned Brahmans, seem to have adopted Sanskrit, the learned language of the land, for their literary productions. The extant Parsi literature produced in this tongue comprises the translation into Sanskrit of the [448] greater part of the Avestan Yasna, Khordah Avesta, and Aogem-adaecha, based on their Pahlavi versions; also a Sanskrit translation of the Pahlavi works Menuk-i Khrat, Shikand Gumanik Vijar, and Arda Viraf Namah, and the Sanskrit version of the Pazend Ashirvad [asirvad]. The most illustrious representative of this group of Parsi Sanskritists is Neryosangh Dhaval, who flourished about 1200 a.d. He has been one of the most eminent doctors of the Parsi church in India, and has made the versions of the major portion of the Zoroastrian work that has come down to us accompanied by a Sanskrit version. We shall not pause here to consider the question of the literary merit of this particular form of the literature, as that lies beyond the pale of the present work. As the Sanskrit works are merely the faithful translations of the Pahlavi texts, and not any original compositions, we look in vain in them for any side-information on the religious thought of this period. What we do find from them is the fact that the religious studies were prosecuted with great zeal at this period, and that the knowledge of Avestan in general, and of Pahlavi and Sanskrit in particular, among the learned clerics was of a superior order.




The birth and childhood and youth of Zartusht. The Persian and Arabic writers use Zartusht, and similar variations for the prophet's name. Following the Pahlavi tradition, they place the date of his birth at about three hundred years before Alexander. His mother's family, they say, came from Rai. He arose somewhere in Azarbaijan and passed the active life of his ministry at Balkh.1 Several Arabic and Persian works have allusions to Zartusht. The one work, however, which exclusively treats of the life of the prophet is the Persian Zartusht Namah, composed in verse by Zartusht Bahram in the thirteenth century. The author derives his information from the Pahlavi sources.2 The writers of this period relate that when Ohrmazd created the spirit of Zartusht, he attached it to a tree. In later ages, a cow belonging to the person destined to be the fortunate father of the coming prophet happened to eat the dry leaves of the tree. The owner of the cow partook of her milk and the consequence was that his wife conceived the child Zartusht. The creator had thus ordained that the couple might shelter the child as two shells would cover a pearl. When five months had elapsed Doghduyah, for that was the name of the mother, saw in a dream that a dark cloud had enveloped her house and noxious creatures fell from it. They tore out the child from the womb and were ready to destroy it and the mother was going to scream in terror. But Zartusht at once consoled her that nothing untoward would happen because the almighty befriended him. A brilliant mountain, thereupon, descended and rent asunder the black cloud and the noxious creatures disappeared. A radiant youthful form holding a luminous branch, representing Farrah-i Izad or the Glory of God, and a book sent by God in his hand, emerged from the mountain. He restored the child to the mother and comforted [450] her that no harm would befall the child, for God himself guarded it. He added, while departing, that the auspicious child would grow to be the prophet of Ohrmazd.3

1 See Jackson, Zoroaster, p. 13, 161-167, 192, 195, 197-205.
2 GIrPh. 2.122, 123.
3 Shahrastani, tr. Haarbrücker, 1.276, f. ZtN. p. 480-483; Mirkhond, History of the Early Kings of Persia, tr. Shea, p. 286; Dabistan, 1.212-218; Gottheil, References to Zoroaster, p. 48.

At the moment of his birth, Zartusht laughed aloud.4 The story reached the ears of the magician Durasarun, who hastened to the house of Purshasp and raised his sword to cut off the child's head but that instant his hand withered away. He then ordered the child to be thrown into a pile of kindled wood, naphtha, and sulphur, but the devouring flame became as cool as water and the child was saved by Ohrmazd. Then the wizard threw the child into a thoroughfare for the passage of oxen but a leading cow took the child between her forefeet and drove off all that came near, with her horns. Then Zartusht is exposed in a narrow defile through which horses passed. A mare at once stood at the child's head and saved it from being trampled to death. In the fourth attempt to destroy the child, it is put in a den of ravening wolves. When a wolf rushed to devour Zartusht, his mouth was sewn up. The wolves were alarmed and sat near the head of Zartusht like nurses. Two sheep came to the spot and applied their teats to the lips of Zartusht. The sheep and the wolves all remained peacefully near him.5

4 Shahrastani, tr. Haarbrücker, 1.277; ZtN. p. 483; Mirkhond, tr. Shea, p. 286; Dabistan, 1. 218, 219; Gottheil, References, p. 49.
5 ZtN. p. 484-487; Dabistan, 1, 219-221.

Zartusht is placed under the care of a sage for instruction.6 At the age of seven, Zartusht fell ill and the magicians went to his house with medicine. Zartusht was asked to swallow the medicine, and was told that it would deliver him from pain. Through divine aid Zartusht knew that it was poison. He poured it on the ground and rebuked them.7

6 ZtN. p. 488; Db. 1, 224, 225.
7 ZtN. p. 488, 489; Db., p. 227.

The magicians were held in high honour in those days and Purshasp, the Persian writers say, was also under their influence. One day he invited them to a feast at his house and when the feast was over spoke in praise of their work. Zartusht, thereupon, told his father that he should abandon the erroneous path of the wizards and turn to God for inspiration. The magicians, he added, would find their abode in hell when they died. Purshasp [451] was much incensed at these words and heated discussions ensued between him and Zartusht. Purshasp and the magicians were vanquished by the future prophet. The magicians left the house in confusion and disgrace. They fell ill and soon hurried along to the abode of retribution.8

8 ZtN. p. 489, 490; Db., 1.227-229.

When Zartusht reached the age of fifteen he gave up attachment to worldly things and engaged himself in holy meditation in seclusion. Day and night he laboured in the service of the Almighty. He fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and helped the needy. A glory shone round him owing to his pious life of austerity and his fame spread among all people.9

9 Mirkhond, tr. Shea, p. 283; Db. 1.229.

Zartusht receives revelation. At the age of thirty, one day Zartusht was returning with his relations and companions towards Iran. They came to a large expanse of water and there was no boat. He invoked God's help and crossed over the water in such a way that the water moistened only the soles of their feet. He then met the archangel Bahman to whom he expressed his heart's desire. Bahman asked him to close his eyes. On opening the eyes, Zartusht found himself in the midst of the heavenly beings waited on by celestial virgins. The angels greeted him and he conversed with God, who taught him all sciences and everything from the beginning of creation to the end of time. Upon Zartusht's request Ohrmazd showed him Ahriman in his gloomy abode. When the Prince of Darkness beheld Zartusht, he asked him to turn away from the religion of Ohrmazd and promised to grant all his earthly desires. Zartusht was then made to pass successfully through the ordeals. On Zartusht's asking him about the symbol of religion, Ohrmazd said that the most excellent emblem was light, from which he had created the entire good creation. Wherever there was any luminous object it was the effulgence of his divine light. He instructed Zartusht in the Avesta and asked him to recite the texts of the book to king Gushtasp. Each of the other archangels then asked Zartusht to exhort mankind to preserve the material creation under his special charge.10

10 Masudi, Prairies d’or, 2, p. 153, tr. Barbier de Meynard; ZtN. p. 490-497; Db., 229-243.

Zartusht at the court of king Gushtasp. Zartusht now turned his steps towards the court of Gushtasp, when the Prince [452] of Darkness accosted him on the way with his evil associates. He asked the prophet of Ohrmazd to conceal the Avesta and turn away from preaching the new faith. Zartusht, in reply, recited a chapter of the Avesta, which confounded the evil brood. Some fled, some dropped dead, and some pleaded for mercy. On his way further, Zartusht met two tyrant chiefs and he asked them to embrace his religion. They heeded not his words. Thereupon Zartusht invoked Ohrmazd for help and a mighty wind began to blow. The stormy wind lifted up the two infidels on high and kept them suspended in the air, where the birds tore off their flesh with beaks and talons until their bones fell to the ground.

The fame of Zartusht had circulated abroad and it reached the ears of king Gushtasp. The king became anxious to see the new prophet of Ohrmazd and when he heard that the beloved of Ohrmazd was coming, he set out from Balkh with a numerous retinue to receive him. The king invited the sages and philosophers to his court and no less than sixty obeyed the royal command. When Zartusht entered the council hall he had a blazing fire in his hand which did not hurt him. He passed the fire to the king and courtiers who held it by turn in their hands and were, likewise, not hurt. On being asked to produce a miracle to testify his statements, Zartusht asked molten brass to be poured on his bosom. This was done four times and there was no trace of burning left. The king ordered the wise men to enter into discussion with Zartusht. The sages questioned and Zartusht answered. They argued and he replied. For three days these sages, who had not their equals in the seven zones of the earth, put subtle questions both theoretical and practical, pertaining to this world and the next, and Zartusht gave convincing replies, supported by a hundred irrefutable arguments and a hundred demonstrative proofs. When he had thus silenced the sages, Zartusht loosed his holy tongue and told the king that he was the envoy of Ohrmazd who had sent him with a special mission to the king. The Avesta, the sacred book, was given to him by Ohrmazd for the benefit of mankind. It contained the mysteries of both worlds and everything worth knowing was to be found out from that matchless book. Zartusht concluded by asking the king to embrace his religion. The king was impressed with what Zartusht said but he said that, as precipitancy in such [453] an important affair was not proper, he would take some time in thinking over the question. Meanwhile he treated Zartusht with great respect and assigned to him a house adjacent to his palace. The sages who saw themselves defeated conspired to wreak vengeance upon Zartusht. They bribed the porter of the house in which the prophet lived and contrived to place blood and hair, heads of a cat and a dog, and dead men's bones under the pillow of Zartusht. They found Zartusht sitting by the side of the king and reading the Avesta to him. They boldly approached the king and said that the new-comer was a magician and had deluded the king by the force of charms, and added that if the king required to ascertain the truth let him send his men to his house and see what foul things generally used in magic were stored there. The king ordered the soldiers to repair to the house of Zartusht and examine its contents. They soon returned with the impure things and exposed them to the royal view. The king was enraged, he threw away the Avesta, and sent Zartusht to prison in chains. A loaf of bread and a pitcher of water were carried to him daily by a porter and Zartusht remained in chains both day and night. A week thus passed and it was discovered that the fore and hind feet of a favourite royal steed were drawn up into his belly. The king was in great affliction and summoned the skilled surgeons to cure the horse. All possible remedies were applied but they failed to produce any benefit. The king was so grieved that he did not partake of any food. General mourning prevailed at the royal court. When Zartusht learnt from the porter about the malady of the horse, he sent a message to the king that he could restore the health of the royal horse. The king ordered Zartusht to be brought into his presence. He seated him by his side and said that if he could restore the steed to perfect health, he would believe him to be a true prophet, sent by Ohrmazd. Zartusht demanded that if the king engaged to perform four things he would behold again the fore and hind legs of the charger. The king readily accepted Zartusht's conditions. The first condition made by Zartusht was that the king should make his heart and tongue of one accord and, without doubt and equivocation, speak with the tongue and repeat with the heart that Zartusht was the prophet and messenger sent by God. The king agreed and Zartusht addressed his prayer to Ohrmazd and rubbed the right foot of the [454] horse with his hand and to the great joy of the king and courtiers and soldiers, it straight away came out. Zartusht then demanded that the king should command prince Isfendiar to gird up his loins to propagate the faith of Ohrmazd. This being accepted, Zartusht invoked Ohrmazd and the right hind leg came out. The prophet's third demand was that the queen should embrace his faith. The queen accepted the faith with heart and soul and in all sincerity and Zartusht prayed and the other hind leg came out. Then the prophet asked the king to call the porter and inquire of him how the things for magical preparations entered his house. The king told the chamberlain that he would save his life if he confessed the truth. The unfortunate chamberlain did save his life by giving out the truth. Zartusht recited the sacred formula and the other fore-foot came out and the swift charger once again stood on his legs. The king kissed the head and face of Zartusht, begged his pardon and seated him on the throne near himself.

Zartusht then cured the father and brother of king Gushtasp of the serious maladies for which the physicians had declared their helplessness. The king now asked Zartusht to secure for him four boons from Ohrmazd. The first was that he should behold his own state in the next world, the second was that his body should be invulnerable, the third that he might learn all mysteries of life, and the fourth that his soul might remain united to his body until the day of judgment. Bahman, Ardibahisht, Azar Khurdad, and Azar Gushasp dressed in green, and fully armed, came on horseback to the court of Gushtasp. They declared that they were the envoys of God, who had commissioned them to give the king the divine message that Zartusht was the prophet of God and the king should acknowledge him as such. The king bowed his head and said that he was the Lord's servant and had girt up his loins to execute his commands. The divine messengers then departed. The king then told Zartusht that he devoted his body and soul and wealth to him. The prophet blessed him and invoked Ohrmazd to grant the boons that the king desired. He performed the ceremony and gave the consecrated wine to the king. When the king drank it, he became insensible and rose not for three days. During this period his soul ascended to the heaven, traversed the heavenly regions, and saw his own place in paradise. Zartusht then gave the consecrated milk to [455] Peshotan who became deathless to the day of judgment. To Jamasp he gave the hallowed perfume, which gave him the universal knowledge of existence from the beginning of the world to its end. A grain of the consecrated pomegranate was given to Isfendiar. He ate it and instantly became brazen-bodied. The prophet thus divided the four boons between Gushtasp and three of his near and dear ones, because, as he told the king, it was not proper to confer all the four incomparable boons on one individual.11

11 ShN. 5.33-37; Shahrastani, tr. Haarbrücker, 1.283; ZtN. p. 498-511; Mirkhond, tr. Shea, p. 284-288; Db. 1.244-260; Gottheil, References, p. 40, 41, 50; Jackson Zoroaster, p. 56-80.

Zartusht, the writers tell us, planted a marvellous cypress-tree in the fire-temple at Kishmar in commemoration of the acceptance of his religion by king Gushtasp.12 Gushtasp ordered twelve thousand cow-hides to be tanned and made as fine as the skin of the gazelle. He had the sacred texts inscribed upon these in gold and silver and deposited them at Istakhar.13

12 ShN. 5.27, 28, 34, 35; Db., 306-309; Jackson, Zoroaster, p. 80, 217.
13 Mirkhond, tr. Shea, p. 285; Gottheil, References, p. 37.

Zartusht's fabled religious debate with Indian and Greek sages. It is said that there lived a great sage named Changranghacha in India at this time. He claimed many foreign pupils of distinction and Jamasp was one of them. When the news of the conversion of king Gushtasp reached him he wrote an epistle to the king and dissuaded him from embracing the new faith. On the invitation of the king, the great philosopher came to Balkh with his disciples to hold a disputation with Zartusht and refute his doctrines. Learned men from various parts of the country attended the great debate. Before the sage propounded his questions, Zartusht ordered one of his disciples to read a Nask. Herein were already recorded all the questions that the Indian sage was to ask as well as the answers to them. The sage was utterly confused and he saw that the new prophet had premonition and he knew beforehand what particular questions would be put to him. He acknowledged his defeat and accepted Zartusht as the prophet of God. He embraced the new religion, took a copy of the Avesta with him to India and converted in a short time eighty thousand people to the religion of the Iranian Prophet.

When the news that Changranghacha was defeated by Zartusht [456] reached abroad, another Indian controversialist, Bias by name, came to the court of Gushtasp. The king organized a great assemblage to which the learned men came from distant lands. Bias opened the debate and addressing Zartusht said that he had heard that the wise Changranghacha had adopted the new faith. He had heard in his country, of the many miracles performed by the new prophet, therefore he challenged him to disclose the secret thoughts he had kept pent up in his bosom and had not transferred from his heart to his lips. Zartusht, thereupon, took out a book that God sent to him before the coming of Bias to Iran. He then read out all that was concealed in the heart of Bias, with the appropriate explanations. Bias was at once convinced of the superhuman wisdom of Zartusht and became an ardent follower of his religion.

Tutianush or Niyatus was the other philosopher who was sent by the eminent sages of Greece to interrogate the prophet about the tenets of his faith. The distinguished Greek seer was at once convinced of the divine insight of Zartusht when he beheld his face. Zartusht asked him to keep in his heart whatever he desired to inquire, for God had already acquainted him with it. One of his disciples then read out aloud all that was in the mind of Tutianush. The Greek sage adopted the faith and king Gushtasp appointed him the head of the priests in his country, where he propagated Zartusht's religion.14

14 Desatir, tr. by Mulla Firuz Bin Kaus, p. 2.120-144, Bombay, 1818; Db., 1.276-283; Jackson, Zoroaster, p. 85-90.

Zartusht's death. When Arjasp invaded Balkh for the second time, king Gushtasp, as the Persian writers record, was partaking of the hospitality of Zal in Seistan. A Turk named Tur-baratur entered Zartusht's oratory and the prophet received his martyrdom by his sword. Zartusht, however, threw the rosary that was in his hand at the assailant. An effulgent splendor proceeded from it and its fire at once consumed him.15

15 ShN. 5.92; Db., 1.371, 372; Jackson, Zoroaster, p. 130, 131.



Rivayats, or codes of usages and rituals. We have again to pass over a period of about three centuries, or from about the thirteenth century to the latter part of the fifteenth century, before we come across a further record of literary activity. After the convulsions that the small band of fugitives experienced, they had settled down as the tillers of the fields, sellers of liquor and toddy, as minor traders and merchants, or as members of petty professions. By this time, however, the Parsis of Gujarat had begun fairly to prosper. Some of them had even succeeded in building up modest fortunes, and had spread abroad their fame for liberality. This beginning of the economic welfare of the community shows the first signs of the new life, and among these signs was the fact that the community began eagerly to turn its attention to the necessity of gaining authentic information on the religious questions about which they were in doubt. The Parsis of India thought that their co-religionists living in Persia must be better informed on religious matters than themselves, and must have preserved the old-time tradition more faithfully than they themselves did. They therefore drew up certain religious questions on which they needed enlightenment, and in 1478 commissioned a daring Parsi to go to Persia and lay their questions before the learned Dasturs of their fatherland. The news that a band of fugitives lived in India who were one in faith with them, and shared their common traditions, had long since filtered through to the Zoroastrians of Persia. In fact it is possible that the connection between the two bands of the faithful, though imperfect, had never been quite broken. Intercourse through trade, as well as other factors, must have helped to keep up some connection. Great, therefore, was the enthusiasm caused by the fresh opening of a closer communication with them; and for nearly three centuries (1478-1766), a more immediate interchange of views took place between the Zoroastrians of India and Persia. [458] No less than twenty-two messengers had left India during this period with questions pertaining to ritual observances, ceremonial ablutions, purificatory rites, forms of worship, rules of adoption and marriage and other miscellaneous subjects. These collections of traditions, customs, and rites, arranged in the form of questions and answers, are composed in Persia, which became the literary language of the Parsi scholars under the influence of the Moslem rule in Gujarat. These compilations are called Rivayats, and provide a wealth of information on liturgical and social matters.1 Side by side with a score of important subjects, the disquisitions sometimes fall to the level of barren theological disputations. Among such discussions, for example, were points like these: Whether the Avestan texts could be copied with ink prepared by a non-Zoroastrian, whether the faithful be polluted by conversing with the non-Zoroastrians while they are carrying a dead body, whether a Mobad who has eaten clarified butter prepared by a non-Zoroastrian can ever regain bodily purity by means of ceremonial ablutions.

1 The dates of the Persian Rivayats in Studies in Parsi History, by S. H. Hodivala, p. 276-349, Bombay, 1920; Darab Hormazyar's Rivayat, edited by M. R. Unvala, with an introduction by J. J. Mody, 2 vols; The Persian Rivayats of Hormazyar Framarz and others by B. N. Dhabhar; Darab Hormazdyar's Rivayat by J. J. Mody, in the Journal of K. R. Cama Oriental Institute, 23. 109-238.

Theology of the period. Bundahishn and Sad Dar, Jamaspi and Arda Viraf Namah inspired the clergy and laity in their conduct of life at this period rather than did the Gathas and other Avestan works. The formal rather than the spiritual, the concrete rather than the abstract, seem to be the prominent feature of the beliefs that we can glean from the Rivayats. The hope of the joys of a materialized heaven and the fear of the sufferings of a physical hell guide and control man's life upon earth. Man's soul and his Farohar are taken, in the Rivayats, for one and the same. The souls and not the Farohars are believed to come down on earth on their monthly or yearly anniversaries. The souls of the righteous persons descend on the earth and remain here for full ten days of the Farohar festival, but the souls of the wicked ones are given only five days' leave of absence from hell to visit their earthly homes. If the souls are properly propitiated, they rejoice and bless; if not, they complain and curse. It came to be believed that the Yasna sacrifices [459] offered in the name of Farohars, or of the angel Hom, or of those of Zartusht, Gushtasp, and other sainted dead persons, could thwart the evil designs of their enemies; could rout the demons and fairies; could oppose the tyrant kings; could withstand famine and plague, retard the evil consequences of bad dreams, gain favour of kings and noblemen, and secure various advantages.

We are informed, moreover, that the reason of consecrating a set of white garments on the fourth day after death is to provide a corresponding heavenly garment to the soul in the next world; because, we are told, the soul is quite naked, when it is liberated from the body at death, and is naturally ashamed to enter the assembly of the heavenly souls who are all clad in fine raiment. The souls are awarded heavenly garments in proportion to what is consecrated to them by their kinsmen in this world. The richer the quality of the garment consecrated here, the finer the raiment bestowed upon the soul in heaven.

Bull's urine, or golden water, as it is now called, has been an indispensable article in the purificatory rites and ceremonial ablutions among the Zoroastrians from the earliest times. From the strong belief in the efficacy of its giving external bodily purification, it was but a step to the idea of attributing to it the power of purifying the internal nature of man. A most extravagant sanctity came to be attached to the drinking of it. Elaborate rituals are now performed over the liquid and the drinking of this consecrated fluid form an indissoluble part of certain Zoroastrian ceremonials. The Rivayats tell us that the drink gives divine glory, and makes man's inner nature as bright and as pure as the sun.

Bull's urine has been, since ancient times, an essential auxiliary of spells or formulas used to exorcise those possessed by evil power; but the original Avestan and Pahlavi word gaomaeza or gomez fell into disuse by the Rivayat time, and the term nirang, which originally meant spell only, now signifies both spell and bull's urine, and henceforth conveys both the meanings. Such in general is the view that we gather from the Rivayats regarding the conditions prevailing in that period.

Other works in Persian. Besides the Rivayats, several works, both in prose and in verse, have reached us. The most important of these is the Zartusht Namah or Book of Zartusht composed in verse by Zartusht Bahram Pazdu in the thirteenth [460] century.2 The account of the life of the prophet is based upon the Pahlavi works. Several Pahlavi works are rendered into Persian. The Avestan texts are translated into Persian with the help of their Pahlavi version. A considerable devotional literature and treatises on miscellaneous subjects are extant. There are about forty short prayers in verse and gazal form, called Monâjâts composed by about a dozen different priests. The earliest in point of time are the four hymns attributed to the authorship of Zartusht Bahram Pazdu, the author of the Zartusht Namah. The latest are composed in the third quarter of the last century.

2 West, GIrPh. 2.122, 123; Eastwick, tr. in English in Wilson's Parsi Religion, p. 477-522; Rosenberg, Le Livre de Zoroaster.



To know God one must become God is the dictum of mysticism. Religions have looked to divine revelation as the real source of divine wisdom. The faculties of the human mind, it is believed by men of mystic temperament, cannot give the true knowledge of God. Knowledge gathered through the senses is illusive. Reason is not capable of comprehending God. To attempt to see him through the medium of reason is to lose him. Intuition is higher than reason. Though reason may conduct the adept to the divine portal, intuition alone can enable him to penetrate into the sanctuary and have a vision of God. Human intelligence is debarred from entering this inner sphere. Divine wisdom dawns upon the mind when it renounces its own thoughts and reflection, and loses all self-consciousness. In such an entirely passive and receptive state of ecstasy, the mind is divinely illumined. It is the outcome of immediate contact of the pure mind with God. The mind that yearns to know God must seek its union with the divine mind. The transcendental insight gives a supra-rational apprehension of divine wisdom. Truth dawns thus upon him, and shines in its effulgence, while an ecstatic insight is aroused in him and in a moment of ecstasy, when the devotee transcends all self-consciousness, the wave of the occult light surges in upon him, and the mysterious something sweeps, like a meteor, over his soul giving a sudden flash that illumines the inner world. The nightingale in its transport of joy sings to the glory of God, until it becomes half frenzied. When the mystic is bathed in devotion, he is so intoxicated with the divine wisdom that he thinks himself one with the Divine. In this condition the devotee does not meditate upon God, he feels him; he does not think of God, he owns him.

The allegorical method of interpreting religious texts. From very early times some theologians of both the East and the West [462] have maintained that the prophets adapt themselves to the mode of thinking of the masses and use parables and legends to express their views. The sacred texts, they say, are written in a way which contains a double meaning, the one is the surface meaning, which can be understood by the masses, and the other is the inner or hidden meaning meant for the initiated. The Sophists and Stoics resorted to the method of allegorically interpreting Greek mythology to meet the attacks of sceptical criticism. The Alexandrian Jewish and Christian theologians, Philo and Origen, spoke of the literal and spiritual meanings of the sacred books. The first, they wrote, was the bodily part of the text meant for the majority and the second was its spiritual part which was understood by those few who could find the revealed kernel, hidden by God in the outer textual shell. The Gnostics and the Neo-Platonists thus attempted to explain Oriental and Occidental myths by allegorical interpretation. The Ismailis, the Sect of the Seven and other schools that flourished in Iran from the ninth century, called themselves the Bâtinis or the esoterics as opposed to the Zâhiris or the exoterics or literalists. Their method of interpreting the sacred texts on the allegorical basis is called tâ’wil.

This method of interpreting religious texts persists throughout the various periods of the history of the religions of the world. Legends and myths, traditional dogmas and superstitious customs, historical errors and textual discrepancies, primitive beliefs and practices are all invested with the mysterious meanings. Statements which often repel both intelligence and conscience find an easy expedient in allegory. The esoterics generally seek in the sacred texts what their own thinking is willing to find and read in them what is rooted in their minds. They read the subjective meaning into the texts and draw unwarranted implications from them. Forces of nature, animate or inanimate objects are all given a new meaning and explained as symbolizing some ethical idea, some aspects of man's consciousness, some expression of the divine in man. Rational explanations are attempted for apparently absurd customs to preserve them against rational criticism. Symbolic significance is attached to puerile legends. Unbridled by the canons of reason and undeterred by any regard for historical sense and critical acumen, the esoteric interpreters of religions generally produce allegorizing extravagances.

[463] Desatir and Dabistan. In the early part of the last century appeared the text and translation of the Desatir, alleged to have a heavenly origin, and to have been written down in the reign of Khusru Parviz and thus to throw a flood of light on Zoroastrianism. A very heated controversy was the result of the appearance of this work. One party of eminent European scholars declared it to be a fraudulent forgery, while others of equal eminence endeavoured to prove its authenticity. The claim of the Desatir to have been written in a celestial language was put to a crucial test. Patient research has since declared the book to be an exotic, outside the pale of Zoroastrianism. And so it has been held by all Iranian scholars both of East and West.1

1 Bharucha, in Zartoshti, vol. 3, p.121-134;179-191; vol.4, p.257-279, Bombay, 1275 A. Y.

In this work are given the teachings of various mystic schools, and the entire treatise breathes a totally different atmosphere from that of the genuine Zoroastrian works, being divergent in tone from the true spirit from its very beginning to its close. The Iranian scriptures of all periods have recognized Gayomard as the primeval man, who was the progenitor of the human race, and who, first among mortals, heard the divine word of Ohrmazd.1a But this work, on the contrary, gives a regular hierarchy of prophets who are supposed to have preceded the first man. God first revealed his secrets to one Mahabad, who was followed by thirteen other prophets in the former cycles of time bearing his name. Through them the supposed revelation came down to Gayomard and his descendants. It is alleged in this book, moreover, that all the early Pishdadian kings conformed to this religion of Mahabad, until the time that Zoroaster came and preached his fundamentally new religion. But even the new prophet's religion, we are told, was so glossed over by the Yazdanians, the followers of Mahabad, that Zoroastrianism was ultimately made to confer to the Mahabadian code.2

1a Yt. 13.87. 2 Dabistan, tr. Shea and Troyer, vol. 1, p. 30.

Another Persian work entitled Dabistan, or School of Manners, written in India by Mohsan Fani in the seventeenth century, draws the greater part of its materials from the Desatir. The author of this composition mentions some fourteen sects into which he finds the Zoroastrians of his day divided. These are the Sipasian, Abadian, Jamshaspian, Samradian, Khodaiyan, [464] Radian, Shidrangian, Paikarian, Milanian, Alarian, Shidabian, Akhshiyan, Zardushtian, and Mazdakian. Several of these sects are stated to have flourished from very remote times, going back to the Pahlavi and Avestan periods, nay stretching even back to a period of which history has not a word to tell. With the exception of these two works, however, we have no inkling of other sects in the genuine Iranian texts. The statements contained in them are not corroborated by any authority in the writings of the Zoroastrian priests. They do not mention them by name, they are entirely unaware of their existence. The account of the majority of these sects, as found in the Dabistan, is very meagre. We meet with some attempts in them to explain the primordial principle from which creation came into being, and we have some sort of crude metaphysics grafted on physics. Sun, fire, air, nature, water, and earth are alternately put forward as having been the physical sources of existence according to various schools of thinkers.3 Others still preach a strict monism, and assume that the world of phenomena was caused by illusion.4 The teachings of the Yazdanians and others are characterized by a belief in metempsychosis, as well as in the efficiency of rigorous austerities and ascetic virtues. Our present concern, however, is with the author's account of the Zoroastrian mystics, and we shall now turn to the matter immediately.

3 Vol. 1, p. 202-207.
4 Ib., p. 195.

Zoroastrian mystics. At this period we meet with some Parsi thinkers who were not satisfied with the formal side of religion, and looked with indifference upon the ritual observances, Outward formalism and literal interpretation of the teachings of the prophet failed to meet with the longings of these men of mystic temperament. They ever remained in search of mysteries hidden beneath the outward garb of dogmas and rituals. The Parsi priesthood could not satisfy the wants of such ecstatic enthusiasts. They revolted from authority, and set about thinking for themselves. These dissenters as a body lived a life different from that led by their neighbours. Many of them found consolation in the teachings of the Hindu Yogis and became their willing disciples. Under these circumstances we have to turn to the Dabistan for the general information of this sect, as the historic Parsi works are silent over the question and do not even notice its existence.


Azar Kaivan and his disciples. The author of the Dabistan gives us an elaborate account of the Zoroastrian mystics whom he met in Patna, in Kashmir, and in Lahore during the seventeenth century.5 The most illustrious of these mystic teachers was Dastur Azar Kaivan who came from Persia and settled in Patna,6 and lived for years in seclusion far from the public gaze.7 Some of the most prominent disciples of this recluse sage were the Mobads Farzan Bahram of Shiraz, Hushiyyar of Surat, Sarosh, and Khuda Jui. They extravagantly trace their lineage back to Ma-habad, to Sam, Godrej, Rustam, Jamasp, Zoroaster, and Noshirvan. Let us now pass on to a brief notice of the literary activity of these hermit priests.

5 Vol. 1, 108, 115, 118, 119, 122, 123; vol. 3, 204. 6 Vol. 1, 89.
7 Vol. 1, 93.

Mystic literature during the period. These Parsi mystics composed several treatises in Persian, which, as we have already seen, was the literary medium of this period. Among the more important works that have thus come down to us are Jam-i Kaikhusru, Makashefat-i Kaivani, Khishtab, Zaredasht Afshar, and Zindah Rud. The author of the last three allege that their works are translations into Persian from the original Pahlavi books written in the days of the Sasanian kings Hormazd and Khusru Parviz. A search through the literary content of these writings, however, shows that their philosophical dissertations mostly reproduce the teachings of Greek philosophy, current in India in the seventeenth century through its Arabic version. For instance, the Khishtab opens with the prophet Mahabad's descriptions of the four generative principles of things, which are nothing else but the material, formal, efficient, and final causes of Aristotle. The authors fantastically credit the legendary and real kings and princes of Persia with the philosophical ideas, which on very little examination can easily be traced to their original Greek sources. These royal personages are styled prophets or seers and depicted as advancing some original argument for the proof of the existence of God, his eternal attributes, and regarding other kindred subjects. Even the warrior heroes Zal and Rustam seem occasionally to have proclaimed a truce to warfare, and to have devoutly sat down in more peaceful pursuit of metaphysical investigations; for some of the philosophical disquisitions stand in their names too.


The alleged twofold meaning of the Avesta. These esoteric interpreters of the sacred works asserted that Zoroaster had couched his teachings in figurative and enigmatic language.8 The Zoroastrian scriptures were accordingly divided into 'Great Zend' and 'Little Zend,'9 the first being followed by the adepts and initiates, and the second by the masses.. The figurative language of the former hid the deeper truths from the ignorant.

8 Db., vol 1.361.
9 Ib., 352.

The author, then, cites some instances and explains the difference between the exoteric and the esoteric interpretations of the Avestan texts. For instance; when it is said that the archangel Bahman held a conference with Zoroaster and asked him to close his eyes, the vulgar, according to the Dabistan, understand that Bahman assumed human form and addressed the prophet like a mortal; but the adept is to understand by this that the true essence of man was uncompounded, and that under such a state Bahman manifested himself before Zoroaster, and his asking the prophet to close his eyes means only that the spirit asked him to eradicate all bodily attachment and suppress carnal desires of the flesh in order to enable him to get a vision of the archangel.10 When the Zoroastrian texts seem to sanction animal slaughter, it is to be understood as an injunction to kill the animal propensities inherent in man.11 The author states further that the passages which speak of the hermits as partaking of animal food in reasonable bounds are not to be taken literally. These simply refer to the gradual control and ultimate killing of the animal nature in man.12 The legend that Ahriman appeared at a season festival in the guise of a glutton and devoured everything to the utter confusion of the assembly, until he was routed by preparing a dish from the flesh of a certain red cow, mixed with vinegar, garlic, and rue, at the instance of some miraculous advice, may be taken by the masses as literally true. But any one versed in esoteric wisdom, and acquained with the doctrines inculcated by the Dabistan, knows that the killing of the red cow stands for the suppression of the sensual appetite, vinegar for the virtue of abstinence, garlic for reflection, and rue for silent reflection. All these would kill Ahrimanian propensities in man.13 The ignorant invest Ahriman with a personality; but, really [467] speaking, he has no independent existence, for he is not an entity and is simply the negation of existence.14 The aggregate of bodily passions and sensual appetites is symbolically termed Ahriman, named from the originator of evil,15 and Ahriman's predominance in the world is to exist only for a limited time while the tumult of youth in man and the bodily passions in man are in the ascendency and until they are ultimately curbed and eradicated.16 Again, the sacred books speak of Ahriman as the creator of serpents and scorpions. But these noxious creatures, according to this treatise, are nothing but allegorical expressions for the vices and passions that haunt the human mind.17 All such persons as stick to the exoteric interpretation of the scriptures believe that Zohak actually carried two serpents on his shoulders, but the adept understand the statement as applying to the venomous tyranny and sensuality of the wicked usurper.18 The legend of the flight of King Kaus to the heavens, his fall, and the subsequent restoration of this lost monarch to his kingdom by Rustam, has likewise an esoteric interpretation. The four eagles that carried the misguided king high up in the air, along with his throne, signify the four elements. The throne, explains the author, stands for the predominant bodily passions, the ascent means that a devotee can rise to a higher plane of existence by a life of abstinence and austerity, the fall denotes the revolt of the passions owing to some neglect in the observance of the ascetic practices, :while Rustam's achievement, in finally bringing Kaus back from the forest, indicates the flash of proper knowledge that reclaims the erring aspirant from fatal mishap.19 Thus the esoteric writings veil the truth from the gaze of the vulgar. The real and deep meaning is hidden within the: outer husks; and only he who grasps this inner meaning can attain to insight into the secret doctrine. This in fact is a summary of the mystic teachings of the Parsi ascetics in the Dabistan, based evidently upon the earlier doctrines of Sufism and developed under Hindu mystic influences in India.

10 Ib., 233,234.
11 Ib., 65, 66, 74, 75.
12 Ib., 240.
13 Ib., 349, 350.
14 Ib., 360.
15 Ib., 360, 361.
16 Ib., 357,359.
17 Ib., 360.
18 Ib., 55.
19 Ib., 56, 57.
20 Ib., 113.
21 Ib., vol. 1.95, 96, 113, 118; vol. 3, 205, 206.

Ascetic practices of the Parsi mystics. The hermits practised celibacy.20 They abstained from animal food,21 and reduced the quantity of their daily food, until many of them could live on [468] food weighing ten dirhams, or a fraction of an ounce, a day22 or in some cases on only one such unit.23 Some could live without any kind of food or drink for two or three days in succession.24 Such devotees practised many kinds of austerities;25 and all of these mortifications of the flesh were undergone in religious imitation of their Hindu brethren. The chief among such austerities were those of supporting themselves on the extremities of their fingers from midnight until dawn,26 and of standing on the head with the feet raised in the air from nightfall unto sunrise.27 By rigorous discipline some such religious enthusiasts, we are told, attained the power of suppressing their breath for three hours,28 or even for twelve.29 They would thus swoon away into a state of trance,30 in which respiration and breathing were totally suspended and by this utter self-abnegation the adepts reached the borders of utter selflessness. Mobad Hushiyyar, once plunged into deep water and remained underneath for full six hours before he raised his head above the surface.31 These devotees, like the Indian Yogis, as shown below, are credited with the power of quitting the bodily frame at pleasure, traversing the spiritual regions, and returning to the body whenever they liked.32 They laid claim to read the thoughts of others.33 They are further fantastically credited with the superhuman power of performing miracles; such as causing the sun to hide his disk and appear at night, or the stars to appear during the day, walking on the surface of water, showing themselves in the form of lightning in the heavens, metamorphosing animals, rendering themselves invisible to man, assuming various forms,34 appearing at one and the same time at distant places, bringing the dead to life, or causing the death of the living, producing food and wine from nothing,35 causing the rains to fall or to cease, producing giants to frighten others, converting broken pottery into gold,36 disporting in the midst of a burning fire, or swallowing it,37 and such like.

22 Db., vol. 1, 76, 77, 120.
23 Ib., 77, 88.
24 Ib., 122, 123.
25 Ib., 89, 108, 120; vol. 3, 204.
26 Ib., 113.
27 Ib., 123.
28 Ib., 111.
29 Ib., 118.
30 Ib., 1, 84, 85.
31 Ib., 124.
32 Ib., 85, 86, 93,108, 127.
33 Ib., 109, 116.
34 Ib., 107, 108.
35 Ib., 114.
36 Ib., 115, 116.
37 Ib., 117.

Unmistakable influence of Hindu Yogism. All this self-mortification of the body and the assumption of occult powers sounds unfamiliar to Zoroastrian ears. The whole fabric of the ascetic and unworldly view of life is in direct antagonism to the active, and, in the best sense, worldly spirit of the Mazdayasnian faith. In its every detail, as indicated above, the Parsi mystic school savours of the strong influence of the Indian Yogis. The Parsi ascetics of the period seem to have been in close acquaintance with the Hindu hermits. The author of the Dabistan informs us that Mobad Hushiyyar conducted him to see some of these Hindu ascetics,38 and he speaks equally of Parsi adepts who were in constant touch with such Hindu monks.39 He further mentions a Parsi ascetic who moved about in Gujarat clad in the garments of a Hindu hermit,40 and who visited the great Sikh saint, Guru Har Govind.41 Hirbad, a great Parsi mystic, moreover, gave instructions to his disciple, Mobad Hushiyyar, either to burn or bury his body, when dead,42 because it mattered not whether a corpse was consigned to the fire or to the earth.43 Every one of its details shows the total indifference on the part of these dissenters to what was really true of Zoroastrian observance.

38 Db., vol. 2, 137, 145.
39 Ib., 146.
40 Ib., 192, 193.
41 Ib., 280, 281.
42 Db., vol. 3, 208.
43 Desatir, tr. by Mulla Firuz, vol. 2, p. 29, Bombay, 1818.

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