THOUGH we must look to the Avesta 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 bahdînân, 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 a mouldering column and massive fragment of the superstructure. erected upon them by the ancient priesthood. These are the last remnants of the faith held by Cyrus, the anointed of the Lord (Isaiah xlv. 1), the righteous one (Is. xli. 2), or eagle (Is. xlvi. 11), whom He called from the east, and the shepherd who performed His pleasure (Is. xliv. 28); scattered fragments of the creed professed by Darius in his inscriptions, when he attributes his successes to ‘the will of Aûramazdâ;’ and mouldering ruins of the comparatively pure religion of oriental ‘barbarism,’ which Alexander and his civilising Greek successors were unable wholly to destroy, and replace by their own idolatrous superstitions. While in the Pahlavi texts we, find much of the mediaeval edifice built by later Persian priest craft upon the old foundations, with a strange mixture of old and new materials, and exhibiting the usual symptom of declining powers, a strong insistence upon complex forms 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 Pahlavi 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 Pahlavi avistâk, which may most probably be traced to the past participle of â, ‘to,’+ vid, ‘to know,’ with the meaning of ‘what is announced’ or ‘declaration;’ and Zand, being the Pahlavi form of Av. zainti (traceable in the word âzaintis), must be referred to the root zan, ‘to know,’ with the meaning of ‘knowledge, understanding .’ European scholars, misled probably by Muhammadan writers, have converted the 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 sacredness of these Pahlavi translations, in the eyes of 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 volume 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 term ‘Pahlavi,’ in its widest extent, is applied to all the varying forms of the mediæval Persian language, from the time when the grammatical inflexions of ancient Persian were dropped, till the period when the modern alphabet was invented, and the language became corrupted into modern Persian by the adoption of numerous Arabic words and phrases. Some traces of Pahlavi words and phrases, written in old Semitic characters, have been found in the legends of coins struck by certain kings of Persian provinces, subordinate to the Greek successors of Alexander, as early As the third century B.C. Further traces have been discovered in the legends on some provincial coins of the time of the Arsacidan dynasty. But, practically, our acquaintance with Pahlavi commences with the inscriptions, on rocks and coins, of Ardakhshîr-i Pâpakân (A.D. 226-140), the founder of the Sasanian dynasty, and ends with certain religious writings of priests and other devout Parsis of post-Muhammadan times, among the latest of which is one dated A.Y. 250 (A.D. 881). Any fragments of Pahlavi composition of later date than A.D. 1000, must be considered merely as modern imitations of a dead language, and cannot be quoted as authorities for the use of any particular Pahlavi words or construction.
With regard to the origin of the word Pahlavî, or language of Pahlav, many suggestions have been offered; but the most probable explanation is that which connects it of with the Parthva, of the cuneiform inscriptions, the land the Parthians known to the Greeks and Romans, and of the Pahlavâs mentioned by Sanskrit writers; the change of Parthva into Pahlav being very similar to that of Av. Mithra into Pers. Mihr. No doubt the language of the Parthians themselves was not Pahlavi, but they were the actual rulers of Persia for some centuries at the time when the Pahlavi language was forming there; and, being formidable to their neighbours, it is not surprising that their name became identified with everything Persian, in the same way as the Roman name has been applied by the Persians, not only to the later Greek empire of Constantinople, but even to the earlier conqueror, Alexander the Great.
Strictly speaking, the mediæval Persian language is only called Pahlavi when it is written in one of the characters used before the invention of the modern Persian alphabet, and in the peculiarly enigmatical mode adopted in Pahlavi writings. Whenever it is transcribed, either in Avesta characters, or in those of the modern Persian alphabet, and freed from this peculiarity, it is called Pâzand.
The peculiar mode of writing Pahlavi, here alluded to long made the character of the language a standing puzzle for European scholars, and was first satisfactorily explained, by Professor Haug, of Munich, in his admirable Essay on the Pahlavi Language already cited.
Like the Assyrians of old, the Persians of Parthian times appear to have borrowed their writing from a foreign race. But, whereas the Semitic Assyrians adopted a Turanian syllabary, these later Aryan Persians accepted a Semitic alphabet. Besides the alphabet, however, which they could use for spelling their own words, they also transferred a certain number of complete Semitic words to their writings, as representatives of the corresponding words in their own language. These Semitic representatives (the number of which might at any time be increased or diminished at the discretion of the writer) were probably never very numerous, and not more than four hundred of them are to be found in the Pahlavi, writings now extant; but, as they represent nearly all the commonest words in the language (excepting those specially relating to religious matters), they often constitute more than half the bulk of a Pahlavi text.
The use of such Semitic words, scattered about in Persian sentences, gives Pahlavi the motley appearance of a compound language; more especially as Persian terminations are often added to the Semitic words. But there are good reasons for supposing that the language was never spoken as it was written. The spoken language appears to have been purely Persian; the Semitic words being merely used, as written representatives, or logograms, of the Persian words which were spoken. Thus the Persians would write malkân malkâ, ‘king of kings,’ but they would read shâhân shâh. This is still the mode in which most Parsis read their Pahlavi literature; and it is only by assuming it to have been their universal practice, in former times, that we can account for the total and immediate disappearance of the Semitic portion of the Pahlavi, from their language, when the Persians adopted their modern alphabet. As the Semitic words were merely a Pahlavi mode of writing their Persian equivalents (just as ‘viz.’ is a mode of writing ‘namely’ in English), they disappeared with the Pahlavi writing, and the Persians began at once to write all their words, with their new alphabet just as they pronounced them.
In the meantime, the greater part of the nation had become Muhammadans, and a new influx of Semitic words commenced, but of a very different character. The Semitic portion of the Pahlavi writing was nearly pure Chaldee, and was confined (as already stated) to the graphic representation of most of the simplest and commonest words unconnected with religion; but it seems to have formed no part of the spoken language, at all events in later times. Whereas the Semitic portion of modern Persian is borrowed from Arabic, and includes most words connected with religion, science, and literature; in fact, every class of words except that which was usually Semitic in Pahlavi writings; and these Arabic words form an essential part of the spoken language, being as indispensable to the modern Persian as words of Norman-French origin are to the English.
In Pahlavi writings, moreover, besides the four hundred Semitic logograms already mentioned, we also find about one hundred obsolete forms of Iranian words used as logograms; much in the same way as ‘ye’ may be used for ‘the,’ and ‘Xmas’ for ‘Christmas’ in English. The use of all these logograms was, however, quite optional, as their usual Persian equivalents might, be substituted for any of them at any time, according to each particular writer’s taste and discretion. But whenever they are employed they form. what is called the Huzvâris portion of the Pahlavi; while the other words, intended to be pronounced as they are spelt, form the Pâzand portion.
Many attempts have been made to explain the word Huzvâris, but it cannot be said that any satisfactory etymology has yet been proposed. Like the word Pahlavî it seems hardly to occur in any old Pahlavi text, but only in colophons, chapter-headings, and similar notes of modern writers; it seems, therefore, more reasonable to trace it to modern Persian than direct to any more ancient source. Its Pahlavi form, hûzvâris or aûzvârisn, appears to represent the modern Persian uzvâris, which is rarely used; the usual Persian form of the word being zuvâris. Now zuvâris is precisely the form of an abstract noun derived from the crude form of a verb zuvârîdan, which has been admitted into some Persian dictionaries on the authority of Golius with the meaning ‘to grow old, to become thread-bare.’ If such a verb really exists in Persian, although its meaning may imply ‘decrepitude or decay’ rather than ‘antiquity or obsoleteness,’ yet its abstract noun would not be altogether inapplicable to the logograms used in Pahlavi, which are, in fact, last remnants of older writings.
The word Pâzand is probably derived from Av. paitizanti, with the meaning ‘re-explanation,’ that is, a further interpretation of the Pahlavi Zand in the Persian vernacular. This term is applied not only to the purely Persian words in Pahlavi texts, but also (as already noticed) to transliterations of the said texts, either in Avesta or modern Persian characters, in which all the Huzvâris words are replaced by their Pâzand equivalents. These transliterations form what are called Pâzand texts; they retain the exact idiom and construction of the Pahlavi original, and represent the mode in which it was read. It may be remarked, however, that all such Pâzand texts, as have been examined, seem to have been written in India, so that they may be suspected of representing some corrupt Gugarâti pronunciation of Persian, rather than the peculiar orthography of any period of the Persian language.
This theory of the origin and development of Pahlavi writing could hardly be upheld, unless we could trace the same artificial mixture of Huzvâris and Pâzand in all accessible Pahlavi records, from their earliest appearance to the present time. This we are able to do, even in the scanty materials afforded by the legends on the provincial Persian coins of the third century B.C. and second century A.D. already mentioned. But we can trace it with greater certainty not only in the coin legends, but also in the rock inscriptions of the earlier Sasanian kings (A.D. 226-388), in the latest of which we find the written language differing very slightly from that contained in the manuscripts pre served by the Parsis of the present, day, although the characters differ very much in form. And, finally, in the legends on the coins of the later Sasanian kings (A.D. 388-651) and on seals of their times, we find even this difference in. the shapes of the letters disappearing by degrees. In fact, all the materials at our disposal tend to show that Huzvâris has been an essential constituent of all Pahlavi writings from the time of Alexander’s successors to that of the disuse of Pahlavi characters; but we have no reason to suppose that the spoken language of the great mass of the Persian. people ever contained the Semitic words which they thus used as Huzvâris in their writings.
Although the use of Huzvâris, until explained recently, rendered the nature of the Pahlavi language very obscure, it added very little to the difficulty of understanding the Pahlavi texts, because the meaning of nearly every Huzvâris logogram was well known; being recorded in an old glossary preserved by the Parsis, in which every logogram is explained by its proper Pâzand equivalent. The extant copies of this old glossary generally contain the Huzvâris and Pâzand words written in the Pahlavi character, together with their traditional pronunciation, either in Avesta or modern Persian letters; there is, therefore, no particular difficulty in reading or translating the Huzvâris portion of a Pahlavi text, although doubts may often be entertained as to the accuracy of the traditional pronunciation.
The real difficulty of reading Pahlavi texts lies in the Pâzand portion (so far as it may be unexplained by existing vocabularies), and is chiefly occasioned by the ambiguity of some of the Pahlavi letters. The alphabet used in Pahlavi books contains only fourteen distinct letters, so that some letters represent several different sounds; and this ambiguity is increased by the letters being joined together, when a compound of two letters is sometimes exactly like some other single letter. The complication arising from these ambiguities may be understood from the following list of the sounds, simple and compound, represented by each of the fourteen letters of the Pahlavi alphabet respectively:—
From this list it is easy to see the confusion produced by the letter s being exactly like the letter y doubled, and by the letter sh being identical with a compound of y and â; and there are, in fact, some compounds of two letters which have from ten to fifteen sounds in common use, besides others which might possibly occur. If it be further considered that there are only three letters (which are also consonants, as in most Semitic languages) to represent five long vowels, and that there are probably five short vowels to be understood, the difficulty of reading Pahlavi correctly may be readily imagined.
When Pahlavi writing was in common use this difficulty was probably no more felt by the Persians, than the complexity of Chinese characters is felt as an evil by a Chinese mandarin, or the corrupt system of English orthography by an educated Englishman. It is only the foreigner, or learner, who fully appreciates the difficulty of understanding such cumbrous systems of writing.
With regard, however, to their Huzvâris logograms the Persians seem to have experienced more difficulty. As the actual sounds of these Semitic words were rarely pronounced, in consequence of their Pâzand equivalents being substituted in reading, there must have been some risk of their true pronunciation being forgotten. That this risk was understood by the Persians, or Parsis, is proved by the existence of the Huzvâris-Pâzand glossary already described, which was evidently compiled as a record both of the pronunciation and meaning of the Huzvâris logograms. But its compilation does not appear to have been undertaken until the true pronunciation of some of these logograms had been already lost. Thus, although the traditional readings of most of the Semitic portion of the Huzvâris can be readily traced to well known Chaldee words, there are yet many other such readings which are altogether inexplicable as Semitic words. In most such cases, however, European scholars have found that the Huzvâris word can be easily read in some other way which at once connects it with some ordinary Chaldee equivalent. It may, therefore, be reasonably assumed that the compilers of the glossary had in some instances lost the correct pronunciation of these old Semitic words, and that, in such cases, they adopted (as a Parsi would probably do at the present day) the most obvious reading of the letters before them, which thenceforth became an artificial word to, be handed down to posterity, by successive generations of writers, with all the authority of old tradition.
In the same manner the artificial pronunciation of the Iranian portion of the Huzvâris may be explained. The compilers of the glossary found a number of words in the Pahlavi texts, which were written in some obsolete or contracted manner; they knew the meanings of these words, but could not trace the true readings in the altered letters; they, therefore, adopted the most obvious readings of the written characters, and thus produced another series of artificial words, such as anhômâ for aûharmazd, yahân for yazdân, madônad for maînôk, shatan for shatrô, &c.
Naturally enough the Parsis are loth to admit the possibility of any error in their traditional readings of Huzvâris, and very few of them have yet adopted the views of European scholars further than to admit that they are ingenious hypotheses, which still require satisfactory proof. They are quite right in demanding such proof, and they may reasonably argue that the conflicting opinions of various European scholars do not tend to increase the certainty of their explanations. But, on the other hand, they are bound to examine all proofs that may be offered, and to consider the arguments of scholars, before utterly rejecting them in favour of their own preconceived notions of traditional authority.
Fortunately, we possess some means of ascertaining the ancient pronunciation of a few Huzvâris words, independent of the opinions of comparative philologists, in the inscriptions already mentioned as having been engraved on rocks, and impressed on coins, by the earlier kings of the Sasanian dynasty in Persia. The earliest of these rock inscriptions records the name and titles of Artakhshatar son of Pâpak, the first Sasanian monarch (A.D. 226-240); it is engraved in Greek and two kinds of old Pahlavi characters, which have been called Chaldæo-Pahlavi and Sasanian-Pahlavi, because the one bears more resemblance to Chaldee, both in its letters and the language they express, and the other is more frequently used by the subsequent Sasanian monarchs. A similar tri-lingual inscription records the names and titles of his son and successor Shahpûhar I (A.D. 240-271), who has also left a long bi-lingual inscription, in Chaldæo and Sasanian-Pahlavi, in a cave near Persepolis. Another long bi-lingual inscription, fragments of which have been found on stones among the ruins of Pâî Kûlî, is attributed to his early successors, who have also left us several uni-lingual inscriptions in Sasanian-Pahlavi, two of which are of great length, but none later than the end of the fourth century.
The language of the earlier of these inscriptions differs from that of the manuscripts preserved by the Parsis, chiefly in the use of several Semitic words unknown to the manuscript Huzvâris, the non-existence of Iranian Huzvâris (which is evidently a growth of later times), and the less frequent use of Persian terminations affixed to Semitic words. These differences, however, are hardly greater than those which distinguish the English of Chaucer from that of our own day. Moreover, they gradually disappear in process of time, as we find the later inscriptions of the fourth century approaching much closer, in language, to the manuscripts.
As the alphabets of these inscriptions are less imperfect and ambiguous than that of the Pahlavi manuscripts, they render the pronunciation of many words much more certain. They consist of eighteen letters, having the following sounds:—
Comparing this list of sounds with that of the sounds of. the manuscript alphabet (pp. xvi, xvii) it is evident that the inscriptions must afford a means of distinguishing â from kh, s from any binary compound of y, d, g, or g, sh from any compound of y, d, g, or g with â, h, or kh, n from v, r, or l, and y, d, g from each other; all which letters and compounds are left in doubt by the manuscript alphabet. Unfortunately we do not possess trustworthy copies of some of the inscriptions which are evidently the most important from a linguistic point of view but such copies as have been obtained supply corrections of traditional misreadings of about twenty-five Huzvâris logograms, and at the same time they confirm the correctness of three traditional readings which have been called in question by most European scholars. So far, therefore, the inscriptions would teach the Parsis that the decisions of comparative philologists are not likely to be right more than seven times out of eight, even when they are tolerably unanimous.
The Chaldæo-Pahlavi character appears to have soon gone out of use, after the establishment of the Sasanian dynasty, as the latest known inscription, in which it occurs, is that of Pâî Kûlî, which contains the name of Aûharmazd I (A.D. 271-272); while the long inscriptions of Naqs-i Ragab and Naqs-i Rustam, which contain the name of Varahrân II (A.D. 275-283), are engraved only in Sasanian-Pahlavi. From these facts it seems probable that Chaldæo-Pahlavi went out of use about A.D. 275. The Sasanian characters continue to appear, with very little alteration, upon the coins until the end of the fifth century, when most of them begin to assume the cursive form of the manuscript Pahlavi, which appears to have altered very slightly since the eighth century.
The oldest Pahlavi manuscript known to be extant, consists of several fragments of papyrus recently found in a grave in the Fayûm district in Egypt, and now in the Royal Museum at Berlin; it is supposed to have been written in the eighth century. Next to this, after a long interval, come four manuscripts written on Indian paper, all by the same hand, in A.D. 1323-1324; they are two copies of the Yasna and two of the Vendidad, containing the Avesta with its Zand, or Pahlavi translation and commentary; two of these old MSS. are now preserved in Kopenhagen, one in London, and one in Bombay. Next to these in age are two MSS. of miscellaneous Pahlavi texts, written probably about fifty years later; one of these is now in Kopenhagen and one in Bombay. Another MS. of nearly the same age is also a miscellaneous collection of Pahlavi texts, written in A.D. 1397, and now in Munich; where there is also one of the oldest Pâzand-Sanskrit MSS., a copy of the Ardâ-Vîrâf-nâmak, written in A.D. 1410. Another Pâzand-Sanskrit MS., a copy of the Khurdah Avesta, of about the same age, exists in Bombay. Pahlavi and Pâzand manuscripts of the sixteenth century are rather more numerous.
Pahlavi literature reached the zenith of its prosperity about thirteen centuries ago, when it included the whole literature of Persia. Seventy years later its destruction commenced with the fall of the Sasanian dynasty (A.D. 636-651); and the subsequent adoption of the modern Persian alphabet gave it its death-blow. The last remnants of Pahlavi writings are now contained in the few manuscripts, still preserved by the Parsis in Western India, and their almost-extinct brethren in Persia. A careful estimate of the length of these remnants, so far as they are known to, Europeans, has shown that the total extent of existing, Pahlavi literature is about thirty-six times that of the Bundahis, as translated in this volume. One-fifth of this, literature consists of translations accompanying Avesta texts, and the remaining four-fifths are purely Pahlavi works which are nearly all connected with religion. How much of this literature may have descended from Sasanian times can hardly be ascertained as yet; in fact, it is only very recently that any trustworthy data, for determining the age of a few Pahlavi writings, have been discovered, as will be explained hereafter, when considering the age of the Bundahis.
The term Bundahis, ‘creation of the beginning,’ or ‘original creation,’ is applied by the Parsis to a Pahlavi work which, in its present state, appears to be a collection of fragments relating to the cosmogony, mythology, and legendary history taught by Mazdayasnian tradition, but which cannot be considered, in any way, a complete treatise on these subjects. This term is applicable enough to much of the earlier part of the work, which treats of the progressive development of creation under good and evil influences; but it is probably not the original name of the book. Its adoption was no doubt partly owing to the occurrence of the word bûn-dahisn, or bûn-dahisnîh, twice in the first sentence, and partly to its appropriateness to the subject. But the same sentence seems to inform us that the actual name of the treatise was Zand-âkâs, ‘knowing the tradition.’
The work commences by describing the state of things in the beginning; the good spirit being in endless light and omniscient, and the evil spirit in endless darkness and with limited knowledge. Both produced their own creatures, which remained apart, in a spiritual or ideal state, for three thousand years, after which the evil spirit began his opposition to the good creation under an agreement that his power was not to last more than nine thousand years, of which only the middle three thousand were to see him successful. By uttering a sacred formula the good spirit throws the evil one into a state of confusion for a second three thousand years, while he produces the archangels and the material creation, including the suit, moon, and stars. At the end of that period the evil spirit, encouraged by the demons he had produced, once more rushes upon the good creation, to destroy it. The demons carry on conflicts with each of the six classes of creation, namely, the sky, water, earth, plants, animals represented by the primeval ox, and mankind represented by Gâyômard: producing little effect but movement in the sky, saltness in the water, mountains in the earth, withering in plants, and death to the primeval ox, and also to Gâyômard after an interval.
Then follows a series of chapters describing the seven regions of the earth, its mountains and seas, the five classes of animals, the origin of mankind, generation, the five kinds of fire and three sacred fires, the white Hôm tree and the tree of many seeds, the three-legged ass, the ox Hadhayôs, the bird Kâmrôs, and other birds and animals opposed to the evil creation, the rivers of the world, the seventeen species of liquids, the lakes, the origin of the ape and bear, the chiefs of the several kinds of creatures and creations, the calendar, lineal measures, trees and plants, the characteristics of various demons, the spiritual chiefs of the various regions of the earth, and the resurrection and future existence; all which descriptions are given on the authority of the Dîn, which may have been some particular book, or revelation generally. The concluding chapters give the genealogies of the legendary Persian kings and heroes, and of Zaratûst and certain priests, together with an epitome of Persian chronology from the creation to the Muhammadan conquest.
As the work now stands it is evidently of a fragmentary character, bearing unmistakable marks both of omissions and dislocations; and the extant manuscripts, as will be seen, differ among themselves both as to the extent and arrangement of the text. Many passages have the appearance of being translations from an Avesta original, and it is very probable that we have in the Bundahis either a translation, or an epitome, of the Dâmidâd Nask, one of the twenty-one books into which the whole of the Zoroastrian scriptures are said to have been divided before the time of Darius. This may be guessed from a comparison of the contents of the Bundahis with those of the Dâmdâd Nask, which are detailed in the Dînî-vagarkard as follows ‘It contained an explanation of the spiritual existence and heaven, good and evil, the material existence of this world, the sky and the earth, and everything which Aûharmazd produced in water, fire, and vegetation, men and quadrupeds, reptiles and birds, and everything which is produced from the waters, and the characteristics of all things. Secondly, the production of the resurrection and future existence; the concourse and separation at the Kinvad bridge; on the reward of the meritorious and the punishment of sinners in the future existence, and such-like explanations. Moreover, the Dâmdâd Nask is twice quoted as an authority in the Selections of Zâd-sparam (IX, 1, 16), when treating of animals, in nearly the same words as those used in the Bundahis.
The first manuscript of the Bundahis seen in Europe was brought from Surat by Anquetil Duperron in 1761, and he published a French translation of it in his great work on the Zend-Avesta in 1771 This manuscript, which is now in the National Library at Paris, was a modern copy, written A.D. 1734, and contained a miscellaneous collection of Pahlavi writings besides the Bundahis. And Anquetil’s translation, though carefully prepared in accordance with the information he had obtained from his Parsi instructor, is very far from giving the correct meaning of the original text in many places.
In 1820 the very old codex from which Anquetil’s MS. had been copied was had been brought to Europe, from Bombay, by the Danish scholar Rask, and was subsequently deposited in the University Library at Kopenhagen. This most important codex, which will be more particularly described under the appellation of K20, appears to have been written during the latter half of the fourteenth century; and a facsimile of the Pahlavi text of the Bundahis, which it contains, was very carefully traced from it, lithographed, and published by Westergaard in 1850.
In a review of this lithographed edition of the Pahlavi text, published in the Göttinger Gelehrte Anzeigen in 1854 Haug gave a German translation of the first three chapters of the Bundahis. And Spiegel, in his Traditional Literature of the Parsis published in 1860 a German translation of many passages in the Bundahis, together with a transcript of the Pahlavi text of Chaps. I, II, III, and XXX in Hebrew characters. But the complete German translation of the Bundahis by Windischmann, with his commentary on its contents, published in his Zoroastrian Studies in 1863, was probably toe most important step in advance since the time of Anquetil, and the utmost that could be done on the authority of a single MS. which is far from perfect.
In 1866 another very old codex, containing the Pahlavi texts of the Bundahis and other works, was brought to Europe by Haug, to whom it had been presented at Surat in 1864. It is now in the State Library at Munich, and will be more minutely described under the appellation of M6. In this codex the Bundahis is arranged in a different order from that in K20, and Chaps. XXVIII, XXIX, and XXXI-XXXIII are omitted.
A second complete German translation of the Bundahis, with a lithographed copy of the Pahlavi text, a transliteration of the text in modern Persian characters, and a glossary of all the words it contains, was published by Justi in 18681. Its author, having had access to other MSS.(descended from M6) at London and Oxford, was able to rectify many of the deficiencies in Windischmann’s translation; but, otherwise, he made but little progress in elucidating difficult passages.
Other European writers have published the result of their studies of particular parts of the Bundahis, but it does not appear that any of them have attempted a continuous translation of several chapters.
Whether the existence of previous translations be more of an assistance than a hindrance in preparing a new one, may well be a matter of doubt. Previous translations may prevent oversights, and in difficult passages it is useful to see how others have floundered through the mire; but, on the other hand, they occasion much loss of time, by the necessity of examining many of their dubious renderings before finally fixing upon others that seem more satisfactory. The object of the present translation is to give the meaning of the original text as literally as possible, and with a minimum of extra words; the different renderings of other translators being very rarely noticed, unless there be some probability of their being of service to the reader. Some doubtful words and passages still defy all attempts at satisfactory solution, but of these the reader is warned; and, no doubt, a few oversights and mistakes will be discovered.
With regard to the original text, we have to recover it from four manuscripts which are, more or less, independent authorities, and may be styled K20, K20b, M6, and TD. The first three of these have evidently descended, either directly or through one or more intermediate copies, from the same original; but the source of TD, so far as it can be ascertained, seems to have been far removed from, that of the others. All the other MSS. of the Bundahis, which have been examined, whether Pahlavi or Pâzand, are descended either from K20 or M6, and are, therefore, of no independent authority.
K20 is the very old codex already mentioned as having been brought from Bombay by Rask in 1820, and is now No. 20 of the collection of Avesta and Pahlavi MSS. in the University Library at Kopenhagen. It consists now of 173 folios of very old and much-worn Indian paper of large octavo size, but five other folios are certainly missing, besides an uncertain number lost from the end of the volume. This MS. contains twenty Pahlavi texts, written twenty lines to the page, and some of them, accompanied by Avesta; the Bundahis is the ninth of these texts, and occupies fols. 88-129, of which fol. 121 is missing. Three of the texts, occurring before the Bundahis, have dated colophons, but the dates are A.Y. 690, 720, and 700, all within 36 folios; it is, therefore, evident that these dates have been copied from older MSS.; but at the same time the appearance of the paper indicates that the actual date of the MS. cannot be much later than A.Y. 720 (A.D. 1351), and there are reasons for believing that it was written several years before A.Y. 766 (A.D. 1397), as will be explained in the description of M6. Owing to its age and comparative completeness this MS. of the Bundahis is certainly the most important one extant, although comparison with other MSS. proves that its writer was rather careless, and frequently omitted words and phrases. The loss of fol. 121, though it has hitherto left an inconvenient gap in the text (not filled up by other MSS.), is more than compensated by the three extra chapters which this MS. and its copies have hitherto alone supplied. The text on the lost folio was supposed by Anquetil to have contained a whole chapter besides portions of the two adjacent ones; this is now known to be a mistake, Anquetil’s Chap. XXVIII being quite imaginary; the end of Chap. XXVII has long been supplied from other MSS., but the beginning of the next chapter has hitherto been missing.
Only two copies of K20 appear to be known to Europeans; the best of these is the copy brought from Surat by Anquetil, No. 7 of his collection of manuscripts, now in the National Library at Paris; this was written in A.D. 1734, when K20 appears to have been nearly in its present imperfect state, though it may have had some 15 folios more at the end. This copy seems to have been carefully written; but the same cannot be said of the other copy, No. 21 in the University Library at Kopenhagen, which is full of blunders, both of commission and omission, and can hardly have been written by so good a Pahlavi scholar as Dastûr Dârâb, Anquetil’s instructor, although attributed to him.
K20b consists of nineteen loose folios found by Westergaard among some miscellaneous fragments in the collection of Avesta and Pahlavi MSS. in the University Library at Kopenhagen, and now forming No. 20b in that collection, The first two folios are lost, but the third folio commences with the Pahlavi equivalent of the words ‘knew that Aharman exists’ (Bund. Chap. 1, 8), and the text continues to the end of Chap. XI, 1, where it leaps at once (in the middle of a line on the fifteenth folio) to Chap. XXX, 15, ‘one brother who is righteous,’ whence the text continues to the end of Chap. XXXI, 15, which is followed by Chaps. XXXII, XXXIV, as in K20. This MS. is not very old, and contains merely a fragment of the text; but its value consists in its not being a descendant of either K20 or M6, as it clearly represents a third line of descent from their common original. It agrees with K20 in the general arrangement of its chapters, so far as they go, and also in containing Chap. XXXI; but it differs from it in some of the details of that chapter, and agrees with M6 in some verbal peculiarities elsewhere; it has not, however, been collated in any other chapter. The omission of nearly twenty chapters, in the centre of the work, indicates that some one of the MSS. from which it is descended, had lost many of its central folios before it was copied, and that the copyist did not notice the deficiency; such unnoticed omissions frequently occur in Pahlavi manuscripts.
M6 is the very old codex brought to Europe by Haug in 1866, and now No. 6 of the Haug collection in the State Library at Munich. It consists of 240 folios of very old, but well-preserved, Indian paper of large octavo size (to which thirteen others, of rather later date, have been prefixed) bound in two volumes. This MS. contains nineteen Pahlavi texts, written from seventeen to twenty-two lines to the page, and some of them accompanied by Avesta; eleven of these texts are also found in K20, and the Bundahis is the fourteenth of the nineteen, occupying fols. 53-99 of the second volume. Two of the other texts have dated colophons, the dates being fifty days apart in A.Y. 766 (A.D. 1397), and as there are 150 folios between the two dates there is every probability that they are the actual dates on which the two colophons were written. The arrangement of the Bundahis in this MS. is different from that in K20, giving the chapters in the following order:— Chaps. XV-XXIII, I-XIV, XXIV-XXVII, XXX, XXXII, XXXIV, and omitting Chaps. XXVIII, XXIX, and XXXI. These omissions and the misplacement of Chaps. I-XIV render it probable that the MS., from which the Bundahis in M6 was copied, was already in a state of decay; and this supposition is confirmed by upwards of fifty peculiar mistakes, scattered over most parts of the text in M6, which are evidently due to the illegibility of the original from which it was copied, or to its illegible words having been touched up by an ignorant writer, instances of which are not uncommon in old Pahlavi MSS. Eliminating these errors, for which the writer of M6 cannot be held responsible, he seems to have been a more careful copyist than the writer of K20, and supplies several words and phrases omitted by the latter. The close correspondence of K20 and M6 in most other places, renders it probable that they were copied from the same original, in which case K20 must have been written several years earlier than M6, before the original MS. became decayed and difficult to read. It is possible, however, that K20 was copied from an early copy of the original of M6; in which case the date of K20, is more uncertain, and may even be later than that of M6.
Several MSS. of the Bundahis descended from M6 are in existence. One is in the MS. No. 121 of the Ouseley collection in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and contains the chapters in the following order:— Chaps. XV-XXIII, I-VII, 17 (to ‘Arag river’), XII-XIV, XXIV-XXVII, XXX, VII, 12-XI; followed by Sls. Chap. XX, 4-17, also derived from M6. Another is in the library of Dastûr Jâmâspji Minochiharji at Bombay, and contains the chapters also in a dislocated state (due to the misplacement of folios in some former MS.) as follows:— Chaps. XV-XXIII, I-XI, 5 (to ‘and the evil spirit’), XII, 2 (from ‘Sikidâv’)— XII, 2 (first word), XI, 5 (from ‘produced most for Khvanîras’)— XII, 2 (to ‘and Kôndras, Mount’),— XXX, 32 (from ‘the renovation arises in’)— XXX, 33, XXXII, XXXIV, Sls. Chap. XVIII, Bund. Chaps. XII, 12 (from ‘Aîrak’)— XIV, XXIV-XXVII, XXX. A third is in the library of Dastûr Nôshirvânji Jâmâspji at Poona, and contains the text in the same order as M6. A fragment of the Pahlavi text of the Bundahis, also descended from M6, occupies eight folios in the Additional Oriental MS. No. 22,378 in the Library of the British Museum; it contains Chaps. XVIII, XIX, 17, and XX, 1-2 (to ‘one from the other’).