Though we must look to the Avasta for information regarding the main outlines of the Parsi religion it is to Pahlavi writings we must refer for
most of the details relating to the traditions ceremonies and customs of this ancient faith which styles itself emphatically the good religion of the
Mazdayasnians and calls its laity bahdinian or those of the good religion. In the fragments of the Avesta which still exist we may trace the solid
foundations of the religion laid by philosophic bards and lawgivers of old with many mouldering column and massive fragment of the
superstructure erected upon them by the ancient pristhod. These are the last remnants of the faith held by Cyrus the anointed of the Lord the
righteous one or eagle whom he called from the east and the shepherd who performed his pleasure scattered fragments of the creed professed
by Darius in his inscriptions when he attributes his success to the will of auramazda and mouldering ruins of the comparatively pure religion of
oriental bar-barism which Alexander and his civilizing greek successors were unable wholly to destroy and replace by their own idolatrous
superstitions while in the Pahlavi texts we find much of the medieval edifice built by later Persian priest craft upon the old foundation with a
strange mixture of old and new materials and exhibiting the usual symptom of declining powers a strong insistence upon complex form and
minute details with little of the freedom of treatment and simplicity of outline characteristic of the ancient bards.
To understand the relationship between these two classes of Parsi sacred writings, it must be observed that the Avesta and Pahiavi of the
same scripture taken together, form its Avesta and Zand, terms which are nearly synonymous with ‘revelation and commentary.’ Both words are
derived from verbal roots implying ‘ knowledge;’ Avesta being the Pahiavi avistâk, which may most probably be traced to the past participle of
a, ‘to,’ + vid, ‘to know,’ with the meaning of ‘what is announced’ or ‘declaration;’ and 4ind, being the Pahlavi form of Av. zainti, must be referred
to the root zan, ‘to know,’ with the meaning of’ knowledge, understanding’.’ European scholars, misled probably by Muhammadan writers, have
converted :he phrase ‘Avesta and Zand’ into ‘Zend-Avesta,’ and have further identified Zand with the language of the Avesta. This use of the
word Zand is, however, quite at variance with the practice of all Parsi writers who have been independent of European influence, as they apply
the term Zand only to the Pahlavi translations and explanations of their sacred books, the original text of which they call Avesta. So that when
they use the phrase ‘Avesta and Zand’ they mean the whole of any scripture, both the Avesta text and Pahlavi translation and commentary. And
the latter, being often their only means of understanding the former, has now become of nearly equal authority with the Avesta itself. It is
probable, indeed, that the first Zand was really written in the Avesta language, as we find many traces of such Avesta commentaries
interpolated both in the Avesta and Pahlavi texts of the Parsi scriptures ; but this is rather a matter of European inference than of Parsi belief.
The later (or Pahlavi) Zand appears also, in many places, to be merely a translation of this earlier (or Avesta) Zand, with additional explanations
offered by the Pahlavi translators.
Regarding the sactedness of these Pahlavi translations, in the eyes or the Parsis, there can be no manner of doubt, so far as they cannot be
shown to be inconsistent with the original Avesta text. But besides these translations there is another class of Pahlavi religious writings whose
authority is more open to dispute. These writings are either translations and Zands of Avesta texts no longer extant or they contain the opinions
and decisions of high priests of later times when the Pahlavi Language was on the decline. Such writings would hardly be considered of
indisputable authority by any Parsi of the present day unless they coincided with his own preconceived opinions. But for outsiders they have the
inestimable value either of supplying numerous details of religious traditions and customs which would be vainly sought for elsewhere or of
being contemporary records of the religious ideas of the Parsis in the declining days of their Mazdayasnian faith. It is with a few of such writings
this volumes has to deal but before describing them more minutely it will be desirable to give some account of the Pahlavi language in which
they are written.
The Pahlavi texts selected for translation in this volume are distinguished from all others by the peculiarity that both the name and station of their author and the time in which he lived are distinctly recorded.
His name Manushikhar son of Yudan Yim is mentioned in each of the headings and colophons to the dadistan I dinik and the three Epistless attributed to him. He is styles simply a erpat or preist in the heading of Eps I and II and aerpat khudai or priestly lordship in that of Ep. III but he is called the rad pontiff or executive high priest of pars and priests in the colophons of Dd. And Ep. II and we learn from Dd. XLV 5 that the farmadar was also the pesupati or leader of the religion the supreme high priest of the mazda worshipping faith.
Regarding his family we learn from Ep. I iii,10, vii, 5 that his father yudan yim son of shahpuhar had been the leader of the religion before him and his own succession to this dignity indicates that he was the eldest surviving son of his father who in his declining years seems to have been assisted by his advice we also learn from the heading of his second epistle that zad sparam was his brother and this is confirmed by the language used in Ep. II vi, I, Ix 6 and by Zad sparam being a son of the same father that he was a younger brother appears from the general tone of authority over him adopted by manuskihar in his epistles. Shortly before these epistles were written zad-sparam appears to have been at Sarakhas in the extreme north east of Khurasan where he probably came in contact with the Tughazghuz and adopted some of their heretical opinions and whence he may have travelled through Nivshhpuhar and Shira on his way to sirkin to take up his appointment as high pries of the south heading II soon after his arrival at sirkan he issued a decree regarding the ceremonies of purification which led to complaints from the people of that place and compelled his brother to interfere by writing epistles threatening him with deprivation of office and the fate of a heretic. That Zad sparam finally submitted so far as not to be deprived of his office appears from his still retaining his position in the south while writing his selection whci must have been compiled at some later period free from the excitement of active and hazardous controversy.
The age in which Manuskihar lived in decided by the date attached to his third epistle or public notification to the mazda worshippers of Iran which date is the third month of the year 250 of Yazdakard corresponding to the interval between the 14th June and 13th July A.D. 88 at which time we learn he was an old man but not too old to travel.
His writings therefore represent that state of the Zoroastrain religion a thousand years ago and it may be presumed from the importance and influentialness of his position that his representations can be implicitly relied upon. To detect any differences there many be between the tenents and religious of the present time would require all the learning and experience of a Parsi priest but so far as a European can judge from these writings and his own limited knowledge of existing religious customs among the Parsis the change has been less than in any other form of religion during the same period.
I. The Dina-I Mainog Khirad
The Pahlavi Phrase Dina-I Manog Khirad opinions of the spirit of wisdom is a name applied to sixty two enquiries or series of enquiries on subjects connected with the religion of the Mazda worshippers made by an anonymous wise man and answered by the spirit of wisdom. But as this name is only found prefixed to a manuscript written in A.D. 1569 in which the first part of the work is missing it is doubtful whether it be the original name of the book or not although it is very suitable to the general character of the work.
Regarding the reading of this name here adopted it must be observed that the correct pronunciation of the Pahlavi word mainog spirit is uncertain the traditional reading is madonad which is a possible pronunciation of its letters but is otherwise inexplicable Haug proposed to read mainivad or minavad but in that case the word ought to end with or with nd some of the present Dasturs read minoe but his would be written minoekin Pahlavi the Pazand writers have mainy but this is evidently an imitation of Av. Mainyavo and odes not correspond with the Pahlavi letters. As the word is manu or mino in the Sasamian inscritions and minu in Persian to which words a final letter of the Pahlavi word is not d or e but g a corruption of K, and that we ought to read ming or mainog. At the same time it should be noticed that a very old copy of the Pahlavi Farhang in the library of dastur Jamaspji Minochiharji in Bombay has the word written with an extra medial stroke so that it might be read minavand as required by Haug’s hypothesis although this copy of the Farhang gives mad one dast the traditional reading.
The subjects discussed by the Spirit of wisdom are of a very miscellaneous character and their discussion is evidently intended to furnish an outline of the tenets legends, and morality of the religion with which they deal but it forms by no means a complete or systematic treatise on these subjects and it is remarkably silent with regard to all details of religious rites and ceremonies. Which are only occasionally mentioned. This silence may perhaps be due to the fact that the author was a layman as seems clear from the account he gives of his doubts and acquiries in any incompleteness of the treatise may also be explained by the apparent loss of the latter end of the work as the sixty second reply terminates the extant text of the treatise abruptly and without any trace of peroration.
Attentive readers of the sacred books of the east have had ample opportunities of becoming acquainted with the Zoroastrina scriptures so far as these have been preserved by the Parsis. In vol. Iv, xxiii and xxxi they have translations of all the texts extant in the original language of the Avesta excepting a few fragments which are not yet collected. And in vol. v, xviii and xxiv they have translations of later Pahlavi texts showing how faithfully the old doctrines and legends were handed down by the priests of Sasanian times to their immediate successors. But they will also have noticed that the translators of these texts are well aware of the fact that the texts themselves are mere fragments of the religious writings of the Zoroastrians which owe their preservation to the committed to memory by the priesthood such as the liturgy sacred myths and ceremonial laws. The objects of the present volume is to add to those fragments all the accessible information that can be collected from Iranian sources regarding the contents of the whole Zoroastrian literature in Sasanian times.
It has been long known that this literature was contained in twenty one Nasks or treatises named either from the nature of their content or from their initial words and each having one of the twenty one words of the Ahunavair attached to it as a kind of artificial reminder of their proper order and number while enumerating them. Very brief statements of the contents of each Nask Have also been accessible in manuscripts of the Persian Rivayats such as those translated in pp-419-438 of this volume and the existence of a much longer account of the nasks in the Dinkard was ascertained by Haug who published some extracts from it in 1870 when describing several of the Nasks in the Index to the Pahlavi Pazand Glossary. He was unable to do more on account of the defective state of all modern manuscripts of the Dinkaras in which a large portion of the text of the description of the Nasks in the eighth and ninth books is missing in various places without any hint of the omissions. These defects were owing to the abstraction of 52 folios of this part of the Iranian manuscript of the Dinkard after it was brought to India and before any copy of it had been written and even now two of these folis are still missing as stated in.
In the summary account of the spend Nask given in the eight book of the Dinkard chapter XIV it is stated in that many marvels owing to Zaratust are published therein just as there are some which collected and selected are noticed by the Dinkard manuscript. This statement evidently refers to the seventh book of the Dinkard which contains the legendary history of zaratust and his religion related as a series of marvels extending form the creation to the resurrection of mankind. A much briefer account of some of the same details occurs at the beginning of the fifth book of the Dinkard and appears to have been adridged from a compilation which was either derived partially from a foreign source or prepared for the use of foreign proselytes. A third compilation of similar legends is found among the selections of zad-sparam. And a careful translation of these three Pahlavi texts constitutes the Marvels of Zoroastrinism contained in this volume.
As the extent of Dk. VII is about 16,000 Pahlavi words it probably contains about four fifths of the details included in the spend Nask the Pahlavi version of which has been estimated in S.B.E vol. xxxvii to extend to 20,500 words. It says very little about Zaratust conferences with the sacred beings and gives no description of the other world and the way thither but it probably contains many verbatim extracts from other parts of the Pahlavi version of the spend Nask which appear however to have been previously collected in the exposition of the good religion an other MS that the Dinkard which is quoted as an authority in Dk. VII.
This seventh bok commences with a detailed statement of the descent of the glorious ruling dynasty from the primeval man Gayomard through his descendants the Pesdadian and Kayanian rulers to Kai-Vistasp. Among the individuals rarely mentioned elsewhere are the sacred being hadish.
Chapter II begins the legendary history of Zaratust with the descent of his glory from the presence of Auharmazd to the house in which Zaratusts mother was about to be bron and alarmed at her radiance the kavinga and karaps or ruling priests of the district oblighe her father to send her away to another valley where porushashpo resided to whom she was afterwards married and several legends are related in which both the archangels and archdemons are active agents which lead on to the birth of Zaratust thirty years before the end of the ninth miliennium of the universe and his complete genealogy is given.
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