Pahlavi Texts Part V
6:00 h Zoroastrian
This is part V of the Sacred Books of the East Pahlavi Texts translation. This volume contains translations of a number of very late Zoroastrian texts, some prophetic in nature, others providing clues to the chronology of the religion. As such, the texts here, the Dinkard and Selections of Zad-Sparam, make interesting reading. They will be of use both to scholars looking for information about the development of Zoroastrianism, and those looking for non-traditional books of prophecy.

Pahlavi Texts

Part V

Marvels of Zoroastrianism

Translated by W. E. West


1. IN the summary account of the Spend Nask, given in the eighth book of the Dînkard, chapter XIV, it is stated in § 4 (see S.B.E., vol. xxxvii, p. 32) that many marvels, owing to Zaratûst, are published therein, ‘just as there are some which, collected and selected, are noticed by the Dînkard manuscript.’ This statement evidently refers to the seventh book of the Dînkard, which contains the legendary history of Zaratûst and his religion, related as a series of marvels extending from 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 Dînkard, and appears to have been abridged 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 Zâd-sparam. And a careful translation of these three Pahlavi Texts constitutes the Marvels of Zoroastrianism contained in this volume.

2. As the extent of Dk. VII is about 16,000 Pahlavi words (without allowing for one folio lost), 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, p. 469, to extend to 20,500 words. It says very little about Zaratûst’s conferences with the sacred beings (mentioned in Dk. VIII, xiv, 5, 6), and gives no description of the other world and the way thither (as reported ibid. 8). 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 older MS. than the Dînkard, which is quoted as an authority in Dk. VII, i.

3. This seventh book commences with a detailed statement of the descent of the glorious ruling dynasty from the primeval man Gâyômard, through his descendants, the Pêsdâdian and Kayânian rulers, to Kaî-Vistâsp. Among the individuals, rarely mentioned elsewhere, are the sacred being Hadish (the protector of homesteads in the Visperad), Vâêgered the brother of king Hôshâng, Pâtakhsrôbô king of the Arabs, and Aôshnar the chancellor of Kai-Ûs. Zaratûst and the three millennial apostles are also mentioned, but the contents of this first chapter are probably derived from the Kitradâd Nask (see Dk. VII, xiii, 20) and from Yt. XIX, 25-93.

4. Chapter II begins the legendary history of Zaratûst with the descent of his glory, from the presence of Aûharmazd to the house in which Zaratûst‘s mother was about to be born; and, alarmed at her radiance, the Kavîgs and Karaps, or ruling priests of the district, oblige her father to send her away to another valley, where Pôrûshâspô 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 Zaratûst, thirty years before the end of the ninth millennium of the universe, and his complete genealogy is given.

5. Chapter III begins with his laughing at birth, and describes the ill-will of the Karaps, or priests of those times, and their many attempts to destroy him during his childhood, till he openly defied them at the age of seven. At the end of the ninth millennium, when he was thirty years old, as he was bringing Hôm-water out of the fourth effluent of the Dâîtî river, he met the archangel Vohûmanô who had come to invite him to a conference with Aûharmazd, about which no details are given.

6. Chapter IV, however, proceeds to mention that, in two years, he returned from his first conference, by order of Aûharmazd, to preach his religion to the Kîgs and Karaps in the presence of their ruler, Aûrvâîtâ-dang the Tûr. They seem to have listened attentively till he advocated Khvêtûkdas, when they demanded his death, andwere supported by the Tûr‘s brother; but the Tûr‘s son, who presided, remonstrated with them, and Aûrvâîtâ-dang himself protected him, but refused to be converted. Zaratûst was afterwards sent to demand slaves and horses from Vêdvoîst, a rich Karap, who refused them arrogantly; he also went to Parshad-gau in Sagastân and cured his bull with Hôm-water, whereupon Parshad-gau joined him in worship, but not in public. Zaratûst repulsed the demons as in Vd. XIX, 1-4; he is then tempted by a Karap in the form of Spendarmad, whom he also repulses. And he is finally sent to the court of Vistâsp, where he is relentlessly opposed by the Kîgs and Karaps who obtained his imprisonment, during which he is saved from starvation by a miracle; then some of the sacred beings arrive to assist him, and Vistâsp is at last converted, twelve years after the coming of the religion when Zaratûst went to his first conference with Aûharmazd.

7. Chapter V refers to the marvels of the last thirty-five years of Zaratûst’s life, after Vistâsp’s conversion, but says nothing about his own death, except that he departed to the best existence at the age of seventy-seven. It mentions the establishment of ordeals of thirty-three kinds, the victory of Vistâsp over Argâsp the Khyôn, the useful works and advice of Zaratûst, the compilation of the Avesta, and the birth of Pêshyôtan, the immortal ruler of Kangdez.

8. Chapter VI continues this account of marvels till the death of Vistâsp, which occurred forty-three years later. The legends related are about the presentation of a heavenly chariot to Vistâsp by the soul of an old hero Sritô who had been killed about 350 years before; and regarding the coming of two high-priests from the southern regions of the earth, ten years after the departure of Zaratûst, to enquire about the religion.

9. Chapter VII relates the marvels occurring after the death of Vistâsp until the end of the sovereignty of Irân; mentioning king Vohûmanô, who was a grandson of Vistâsp, the high-priest Sênôv who lived throughout the second century of the religion, the devastator Alexander the Great, the four successive high-priests who restore orthodoxy in the fifth and sixth centuries of the religion, the apostate Rashn-rêsh of about the same period, king Artakhshatar the founder of the Sâsânian dynasty, his chancellor Tanvasar, Atûrpâd-î Mâraspendân and his son surnamed Avarethrabau, with an anonymous arch-apostate of their time, and then king Khûsrô Anôshêrvân. Finally, it condemns the proceedings of the devastators in later times, whose names are not mentioned.

10. Chapter VIII deals with the ninth and tenth centuries of the religion, which bring the millennium of Zaratûst to a close. After a bitter lamentation over the anarchy in religion and government in which parts of §§ 34 and 36 are taken from the Varstmânsar commentary on Yas. XXXII in Dk. IX, xxxii, 17, 20 it refers to the arrival of Kitrô-mêhônŏ, ‘him of the racial home,’ a title of Pêshyôtanŏ, son of Vistâsp, and immortal ruler of Kangdez, who arrives with 150 disciples to restore the religion and destroy the wicked, including the Turkish demons, the Arabs, and the ecclesiastical Shêdâspô (Theodosius?). In the thirtieth year before the end of this tenth millennium Aûshêdar, the Developer of Righteousness, is born, and confers with the archangels at the end of the millennium, when the sun stands still for ten days and nights.

11. Chapter IX describes the eleventh millennium, that of Aûshêdar, who produces much prosperity and progress which continue until the fifth century. Then the wizard Mahrkûs appears for seven years, and produces awful winters in four of them, in which most of mankind and animals perish, till he is himself destroyed by the Dâhmân Âfrîn. Afterwards, Yim’s enclosure is opened to replenish the earth with animals and men who then begin to subsist more upon the milk of cattle, which is plentiful; and Ashavahistô interferes to diminish the slaughter of cattle. At the end of the fifth century two-thirds of the Irânians have become righteous, and in the thirtieth year before the end of this eleventh millennium Aûshêdar-mâh, the Developer of Worship, is born, and confers with the archangels at the end of the millennium, when the sun stands still for twenty days and nights.

12. Chapter X describes the twelfth millennium, that of Aûshêdar-mâh, during which mankind continue to improve, are better supplied, and have fewer wants, while deaths occur only through old age and the executioner. During the last fifty-three years, they leave off eating meat and subsist upon vegetables and milk, for which latter they substitute water for the last three years. But the old tyrant Dahâk breaks loose, and Kerêsâspô has to be roused to smite him. In the thirtieth year before the end of this twelfth millennium Sôshâns, the Triumphant Benefiter, is born; Kaî-Khûsrô and his companions afterwards arrive to assist him, and the sun stands still for thirty days and nights.

13. Chapter XI describes how Sôshâns and his assistants destroy all the evil remaining in the world, during the course of fifty-seven years, while mankind subsist for seventeen years on vegetables, thirty years on water, and ten years on spiritual food. And, at the end of these fifty-seven years, Aharman and the fiend are annihilated, and the renovation for the future existence occurs.

14. Several of the details described in Dk. VII are briefly mentioned in Dk. V, i-iv, where they are introduced by a statement of the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar (Bûkht-Narsîh) assisted by Kaî-Lôharâsp, father of Vistâsp. Excepting this account of the siege, in which the Jews are evidently called ‘a congregation or tribe’ (ram), and some remarks about the same ‘tribe’ at the end of Chapter IV, all the other details which are mentioned have reference only to Irânians; but they are said to be the sayings of Âtûr-farnbag as to the MS. which that tribe call really their Gyêmarâ (Chaps. I, 2, 3; IV, 8), as the name can be most plausibly read. Most of the strictly Irânian details have manifestly been derived from the same sources as were consulted by the writer of Dk. VII, that is, from the Pahlavi versions of the Spend. and Kitradâd Nasks. It would probably be hazardous to suppose that the Jewish compilers of the Gemara could have had access to these sources, and it might be preferable to assume that Âtûr-farnbag was himself compiling a record of Zoroastrian traditions for the use of some converts from Judaism, to take the place of the Gemara of their former faith.

15. The Zaratûst-nâmak of Zâd-sparam is contained in the latter half (Zs. XII-XXIII) of the first series of his Selections, the former half of which, being a paraphrase of the first half of the Bundahis, has been translated in S.B.E., vol. v, pp. 155-186. In Chapter XII Zâd-sparam relates two of the earliest legends referring to Mazda-worship, which he had found in old MSS. The first of these describes the appearance of the archangel Spendarmad, wearing a golden sacred girdle, at the court of king Mânûskîhar, 428 years before the coming of the religion to Zaratûst when he went to his conference with the sacred beings. The other is the legend of the warrior Sritô, the seventh brother, who was sent by Kai-Ûs to kill the frontier-settling ox which threatened him, 300 years before the coming of the religion, with future execration by Zaratûst.

16. Chapter XIII refers to the descent of Zaratûst‘s glory upon his mother at her birth, and the combination of his spiritual and worldly natures; also detailing his genealogy. Chapter XIV describes the attempts of the demons to destroy him before and at his birth, when Vohûmanô entered his reasoning powers and made him laugh with delight and utter one form of the Ahunavair formula. Chapter XV is about the five Karap brothers, with their first cousins the Aûsikhshes, all descended from the demon of Wrath and a sister of king Mânûskîhar; also about the four brothers of Zaratûst who seem to be unmentioned elsewhere.

17. Chapter XVI details the attempts of one of the Karaps to destroy Zaratûst during his infancy, and the means by which he is preserved; it also explains who Râgh and Nôdar were. In Chapter XVII one of the Karaps foretells the future success of Zaratûst. In Chapter XVIII his father bears him accused of folly, and takes him to a Karap to be cured. In Chapter XIX the chief Karap comes to the house of Zaratûst‘s father, and is invited to consecrate the food set before him; but Zaratûst objects and a quarrel ensues, which so much disturbs the Karap that he leaves the house, and drops dead from his horse on the road home. In Chapter XX instances are given of Zaratûst‘s righteous desires, his compassionate assistance of people fording a river, his liberal disposition, his abandoning worldly desires, his pity for dogs, his wish for a good-looking wife, and his acceptance of progress even from the wicked, during his youth.

18. Chapter XXI relates that, at thirty years of age, on his way to the festival of spring, he saw in a vision all mankind following Mêdyômâh, his first cousin, into his presence. He then went on to the bank of the Dâîtîh, and crossed its four channels, when he met Vohûmanô who led him to the assembly of the archangels, where he received instruction from Aûharmazd and saw the omniscient wisdom; the archangels also subjected him to various ordeals.

19. Chapter XXII refers to his conferences with the seven archangels, each at a different place, and extending over ten years. In Chapter XXIII, Mêdyômâh is converted at the end of these ten years. The next two years are spent on the conversion of Vistâsp, in which Zaratûst is assisted by some of the sacred beings, and the narrative ends by giving the dates of several other conversions, births, and deaths. But after its 300th year the religion is disturbed and the monarchy contested; referring. no doubt, to the effects of Alexander‘s conquest of Persia.

20. These three narratives appear to be the only connected statements of the Zoroastrian legend that remain extant in Pahlavi, and all three seem to be chiefly derived from the Sâsânian Pahlavi version of the Spend Nask, with some probable additions from the similar version of the Kitradâd Nask, as may be gathered from the-summary accounts of the contents of these Nasks given in Dk. VIII, xiii, 20-xiv, 15, and translated in S.B.E., vol. xxxvii, pp. 31-34. There are, however, allusions to other legends regarding Zaratûst to be found scattered about in Pahlavi literature, to which we shall return after mentioning the manuscript authorities for the texts translated in this volume.

21. The chief existing authority for the Pahlavi text of the Dînkard, Books III-IX, and the only independent one for Book VII, is the MS. B in Bombay, which has been fully described in S.B.E., vol. xxxvii, pp.