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Pahlavi Literature

6) Pahlavi texts on religious subjects

29. Bundahishn. Bd. 42-44.
30. Datistan-i Denig. Dd. 45,46.
31. Rivayat accompanying No. 30. 47.
32. Selections of Zat-Sparam. 49.
33. Epistles of Manushchihr. 48.

The Bundahishn, known to the Indian Parsis, contains about 13,000 words, and was first brought to Europe, by Anquetil Duperron, in a codex of miscellaneous Pahlavi texts which had been copied from K20 at Surat in 1734; and Anquetil published a French translation of this copy of the Bundahishn in 1771. In 1820 K20 itself was brought to Kopenhagen by Rask; it is a codex about five centuries old, containing nineteen Pahlavi texts, of which the Bundahishn is the ninth. This codex is described in AV., and contains three dated colophons, but these have evidently been copied from somewhat older originals; and one folio of its text of the Bundahishn, containing chaps. xxvii, 25-xxviii, 12 is lost. Besides K20, Rask's collection of Pahlavi MSS. at Kopenhagen contains 19folios of other MSS. of the Bundahishn of about the same age, which are catalogued as K20b. Eighteen of these folios contain nearly the whole of a very old copy of an imperfect MS. of the Bundahishn, of which 25 or 30 of the central folios had been lost. The nineteen folio is a fragment of another MS. apparently in the hand-writing of Mihraban, son of Kai Khusro, who wrote K1 and K5 in 1323-24; it contains the text of chaps. viii,1-xi,1, and is probably a last remnant of the MS. from which the other eighteen folios were copied.

Another old codex in two volumes of miscellaneous Pahlavi texts, with some Avesta, written in 1397 at Bharutsh, was obtained at Surat by Haug in 1864, and is now MH6; its contents are described in AV. In this codex the Bundahishn is the fifteenth of the twenty texts it contains, and is not so complete as in K20; not only are chaps. xxviii, xxix, and xxxi omitted, but also chaps. i-xiv are misplaced between chaps. xxiii and xxiv; there are likewise more than twenty blank spaces left for words illegible to the copyist, and more than sixty impossible readings due to unlucky attempts to read illegible words. All these peculiarities indicate the probability that the original MS., from which the Bundahishn in MH6 was copied, was so old in 1397 as to be in a state of decay.

Other MSS. of the Indian Bundahishn, so far as they have been examined, have all descended from the text either in MH6 or K20; so that these two codices and the fragments K20b are the only independent authorities for the text known in India, as it stood in the fourteenth century. A lithographed facsimile of the text in K20 was edited by Westergaard in 1851; Haug translated the first three chapters of the Bundahishn into German in 1854; Spiegel also translated many passages into German, and transcribed chaps i, ii, iii and in Hebrew characters, in 1860; and a complete German translation of the text, with valuable essays on many of the names and subjects it mentions, was prepared by Windischmann and published in 1863; all these translations being based upon Westergaard's facsimile edition of the text in K20. Another German translation of the Bundahishn, with a lithographed copy of the Pahlavi text, a transcript in Persian characters, and a glossary, was published bu Justi in 1868; and, in addition to the text of K20, the translator was able to consult those of MSS., descended from MH6, which had been in London and Oxford for many years.

It had long been evident that the text of the Indian Bundahishn was of a very fragmentary character, but it was only some twenty years ago that Mobad Tahmuras Dinshawji Anklesaria obtained, from an Iranian Mobad, a codex from Persia containing a copy of the more complete Bundahishn known to the Iranian Parsis, followed by a copy of the Nirangistan (see 20). This MS. was seen by Andreas in 1875, and information about it, with extract, was sent to me (for use in my English translation) in letters from Tahmuras in 1877 and 1878; he also supplied Darmesteter with a copy about 1888. in 1880 Tahmuras obtained a second MS. of the Iranian Bundahishn from Yazd; and in the same year it was noticed that the first two folios of the imperfect codex K43, brought by Westergaard from Persia in 1843, contained a remnant of the last chapter of the Iranian Bundahishn, with a colophon written in 1587. This Pahlavi fragment was published in Andreas's facsimile edition of the Pahlavi Menog-i Khrat, from the same codex (see 55). The first and last folios of the Bundahishn in Tahmuras's first MS. have been lost, and are replaced by later copies from his second MS., with colophon's stating that the first MS. was written by Gopatshah Rustaxm, who has living in Iran between 1531 and 1554, as has been ascertained from four other dated colophons. The second MS. is complete, and from its colophon we learn that it was written in 1626 by Fretun Mardshapan, so it may be conveniently called F. In these two MSS. we have two independent authorities for the whole Iranian text of the Bundahishn in the sixteenth century, except the first sixteen lines of the first chapter and the last five lines of the last chapter, for which latter a second authorities exists in the surviving fragment of the text in K43.

A careful connection of the Indian Bundahishn with this Iranian text will show that the 13,000 words in K20 are merely a series of extracts from the 30,000 words which formerly existed in Iran and have descended to our time through G and F. Besides the long passages that are wanting in K20, there are many omissions of words and phrases; while, on the other hand, several such words and phrases occur in K20 which have dropped out of G and F; there are also some verbal alterations. These minor differences are such as might be expected, when we consider that K20 is two centuries nearer to the original, from which the Indian text was extracted, than G and F. We know nothing historically about the connection between the Indian and Iranian Bundahishn, but it is possible to make a plausible guess on the subject. We are aware that Mihraban, son of Kai-Khusro, wrote a copy of the Indian Bundahishn, of which one folio survives in K20b (see 42); we are also aware that he was in the habit of copying from MSS. written by his great grand-uncle Rustakhm, son of Mihraban, as in the cases of K1, K5, AV and Yf, and the Yatkar-i Zariran. Both of these copyists emigrated from Iran to Indian, but at different times; and Rustakhm wrote his AV and Yf in 1269 before leaving Iran, and his K7 Visperad at Anklesaria in 1278, after his arrival in India. We may therefore guess that Rustakhm, having written one MS. in Iran, to take to India, may also have written others for the same purpose, and this would account for the arrival in India of the Yatkar-i Zariran and the extracts from the Bundahishn which were afterwards copied by Mihraban.

As the contents of the Indian Bundahishn are well known from the translations already mentioned, it will be sufficient to state its general character, and to describe only the additional information supplied by the Iranian text. The work probably began originally, as in the Indian version, with this statement of its contents:- 'The Zand-Akasih, or knowledge of tradition, is first about the original creation by Aurmazd and the antagonism of the evil spirit, and afterwards about the nature of the creatures of the world, from the original creation till the end'. This statement applies to the whole of the work as far as the account of the resurrection; but some additional details of genealogy and chronology have been appended from other sources. The short introduction to the Iranian Bundahishn was written with the approbation of a certain high-priest Spend-dat, son of Mah-vindat, who has not yet been identified; but it must be a later addition to the work, perhaps contemporaneous with the final phrases of the last chapter, 'as far as the year 447 of the Persians; now it is the persian year 527'; which years correspond to 1098 and 1178 after Christ, as the Persian era seems to have been the death of Yazdakart. All the rest of Iranian text appears to remain as it was left by the compiler who added the genealogies to the Zand-akasih, and calls himself Datakih-i Ashavahisht, 'the gift or production of perfect righteousness'; at the same time giving the names of some of his contemporaries who are known to have lived in the ninth century.

The Iranian Bundahishn may be divided into 46 chapters, whose correspondence with those of the Indian Bundahishn and additional contents are here noted:-
1. Ind. Bd. i, about Aurmazd, Ahriman, and the creation; with the additions of the creation of Time and Vae before Vohuman, of fourteen other sacred beings after the Ameshaspands, and of the six worldly creations during the six season-festivals, respectively; with the names of the days and months.
2. Ind. Bd. ii, to the middle of 8, about the formation of the luminaries, with further astronomical details.
3. About the purpose of the creation of the creatures for waging conflicts. Four days in each month named after the creator; Time and Vae created for protection of the creatures; as there are seven Ameshaspands, so there are seven heavens and seven worldly creations; the Ameshaspands and their co-operation; and the five periods of the day; concluding with the remainder of Ind. Bd. ii.
4. Ind. Bd. iii, about the rush of the destroyer at the creatures, with short additions.
5. Ind. Bd. iv, about the primeval ox.
6. How the archfiends came spiritually in opposition to the angels of the spiritual existences, through opposing every good quality by a corresponding evil one; from the latter part of which Ind. Bd. v, 1, 2 is extracted. After many more astronomical details, the remainder of Ind. Bd. v follows, with more astronomy, astrology, and measures of time.
7. Ind. Bd. vi, about the first conflict which the spirit of the sky waged with the evil spirit.
8. Ind. Bd. vii, the second conflict which water waged.
9. Ind. Bd. viii, the third conflict which earth waged.
10. Ind. Bd. ix, the fourth conflict which plants waged.
11. Ind. Bd. x, the fifth conflict which the primeval ox waged.
12. The sixth conflict which Gayomart waged.
13. The seventh conflict which fire waged.
14. The eighth conflict which the zodiacal signs waged.
15. The ninth conflict which the angels of the spiritual existences waged.
16. The tenth conflict which the uncontaminated stars waged.
17. About the description of those creations, and the coming of the evil spirit to the earth, stars, primeval ox, and Gayomart.
18. Ind. Bd. xi, about the nature of lands.
19. Ind. Bd. xii, about the nature of mountains.
20. Ind. Bd. xiii, about the nature of the seas.
21. Ind. Bd. xx, xxi, about the nature of the rivers.
22. Ind. Bd. xxii, about the nature of lakes.
23. Ind. Bd. xiv, about the nature of the five classes of animals, with further details at the end.
24. About the nature of mankind in varieties from Gayomart, the tenth being the apes; after the death of Gayomart, Ind. Bd. xv occurs, and, some remarks follow about bears, apes, other animals, foreigners, negroes, and women, concluding with Ind. Bd. xxiii.
25. Ind. Bd. xvi, about the nature of generation of every species, with additional details, chiefly about animals, after 1 and 5, and about fish at the end.
26. Ind. Bd. xxvii, about the nature of plants.
27. Ind. Bd. xxiv, about the chieftainship of men, animals, and every single thing.
28. Ind. Bd. xvii, about the nature of fire; concluding with remarks on worldly fires and those of Varhran, Farnbag, Gushnasp, and Burzin-mihr, with some natural fires, as at Kumis.
29. About the nature of sleep which, created in the form of a handsome youth, is preverted into a nightmare in the form of a young male horse which spiritually oppresses a man from his head to his knees.
30. About the nature of wind, cloud, and rain. Wind, produced from the earth in the form of a handsome youth, is preverted into the nocturnal gale. The cloud carries the water which Tishtar raises by the wind, and rains it down in drops. The conflict of Tishtar with Apaosh, and of Aspinjarush with the fire Vazisht. Stones, fishes, and frogs falling with the rain; and whirlwinds.
31. About the nature of noxious creatures produced by the evil spirit, such as snakes, scorpions, cats, ants, flies, bees, &c.
32. About the nature of the wolf species, thirteen in number, such as the black wolf, tiger, lion, leopard, cat, and many others.
33. 'About king of every kind, that is, for what reason they are created, and the opposition that came upon them. It says in the religion that the white Hom, which one calls the Gokereno tree, &c.' (as in Ind. Bd. xviii, xix).
34. Ind. Bd. xxv, xxvi, about the religious year.
35. About the great exploits of the angels of the spiritual existences, as translated into French by Darmesteter in his Zend-Avesta, with a few lines more at the end.
36. About the evil-doing of Ahriman and the demons, as translated in SBE.
37. About the body of man as a type of the world, being a detailed, but fanciful, comparison of the human body to the world and its surroundings.
38. Ind. Bd. xxix, about the spiritual chieftainship of the regions of the earth.
39. About the Chinvat bridge and the souls of the departed; describing the bridge and the fate of righteous and wicked souls when passing over it.
40. About the famous provinces of the country of Iran, and the abodes of the Kayans; the former being an abridgment of Phlv. Vd. I, an the latter an account of settlements formed by Yim, Fretun, Kai-Us, Dahak, Siyavakhsh, Frasyaw, and others.
41. About the clamities which happen to the country of Iran in each millennium; one-third of which is translated into French in Darmesteter's Zend-Avesta. The remaining two-thirds mention the reigns of Vohuman, Humai, Darai, Alexander, the ninety petty rulers, Artakhshir-i Papakan, Shahpur II, Piruz, Kavat, his son Khusro, Yazdkart, and the Arab ravagers; also the future coming of the three apostles to restore the religion.
42. Ind. Bd. xxx, about the resurrection and future existence.
43. Ind. Bd. xxxi, about the race and offspring of the Kayans, with further details; as translated in SBE.
44. Ind. Bd. xxxii, about the lineage of Porushasp.
45. The family of the Magopats, as translated in SBE.
46. Ind. Bd. xxxiii, about the computation of years by the Arabs; with a few further details.

From this comparison of the contents of the Bundahishn, as known in Iran and India, it is evident that the chapters on rivers, lakes, the ape and bear, chieftainship, and plants are misplaced in the Indian extracts in K20. This is clear enough from the confusion introduced into the arrangement of subjects by this misplacement of chapters; but it is fully confirmed by the first three lines of the chapter on rivers having been written in their right place in K20, as well as with the rest of the misplaced chapter.

The Datistan-i Denig contains about 28,600 words, and is found in the middle of a miscellaneous collection of Pahlavi texts, all more or less connected with religion. In this collection the Datistan is preceded by a long Rivayat (see 47) and followed by a shorter one, to which are added the Epistles of Manushchihr (see 48) and the Selections of Zat-sparam (see 49), the latter including the Five Dispositions of Priests and ten Admonitions (see 79). A codex containing the greater part of this collection appears to have been brought from Iran to Bombay about 1817 and to have remained for many years in the possession of Dhanjibhai Framji Patel, but it has not been examined. It is said to have lost the first 5300 words of the first Rivayat, and it may have been the original from which several imperfect copies of the Datistan were derived in India; though Tahmuras Dinshawji is inclined to trace these back to an imperfect codex which came to him from Persia about 1877, and was afterwards returned. A third codex was examined in Bombay in 1876, three-fourth of which was in one old handwriting, and ended with a colophon composed by Mardshapan Fretun at Kirman in 1592; but this colophon being at the end of a folio, it is not quite certain that it has not been copied, though the codex certainly looks as if it were three centuries old. One-fourth of this codex has been restored, partly by other equally old folios, and partly by modern ones; but eleven folios near the end are still missing. The original, from which three-fourth of this codex was copied, has been ascertained to be K35, brought by Westergaard from Kirman in 1843. This fourth codex is now imperfect, having lost three-fourth of the first Rivayat at the beginning, and about the same proportion of the Selections of Zat-sparam at the end. It is probably Mardshapan's copy, written in 1592, for it cannot be much older. A fifth codex, containing the same texts, was obtained by Tahmuras from Iran some twenty years ago; it was written by Gopatshah Rustam, a great-uncle of Mardshapan Fretun, and the writer of the Iranian Bundahishn G (see 43); it is, therefore, the oldest of these codices by two generations, and the best authority for the texts of the Datistan, Epistles, and Selections. It has lost the first five-sixths of the first Rivayat, the text of which is best ascertained from the third codex; but it supplies more than half the text of the eleven folios missing near the end of that codex, though the end itself is lost.

The Datistan-i Denig, or 'religious opinions', are those of Manushchihr, son of Yudan-Yim, high-priest of Pars and Kirman, who was director of the priests and leader of the religion in the latter part of the ninth century. They constitute his replies to 92 inquiries on religious subjects addressed to him by Mihr-khurshet, son of Atur-mahan, and others; but it seems probable that replies to some few further inquiries have been lost. The inquiries range over a great variety of subjects, such as good works and sins, the responsibility and fate of the soul, the contest between the good and evil spirits from the creation till the resurrection, religious ceremonies and social customs, right and duties of the priesthood in SBE.

The writings of Manushchihr and his brother Zat-sparam are undoubt edly the most difficult Pahlavi texts in existence, both to understand and to translate; no other texts equal them in intricacy and obscurity, unless they be some passages in the Denkart, especially in its third Book. A portion of the reply to the ninetieth inquiry in the Datistan may be taken as a specimen of difficult text; it is translated in SBE.

When Tahmuras Dinshawji and Sheheriarji Dadabhoy prepared their edition of the Datistan text with Gujarati translation and glossary, which seems to be still unpublished, they found this ninetieth inquiry and reply too complicated for translation.

The Pahlavi Rivayat accompanying the Datistan contains about 26,000 words, and gives much information on a great variety of religious subjects. A legend about the soul of Kereshasp and several paragraphs about next-of-kin marriage have been translated in SBE. Of the other subjects discussed, the principal ones occur in the following order:- Fravartigan days; periods for not cooking food after a death in the house; breaches of promise; merits of ceremonies; liberality due to the righteous; penalties of sins; the animal objected to being eaten by man; season-festivals; many details about fires; degrees of merit due to killing other creatures; fate of the soul after death, both when righteous and when wicked; time of the renovation; the ox, horse, and angel Hom curse those who neglect them; value of the Ashem-vohu on various occasions; the testimony of an elder to be preferred to that of a junior; legend of Yim's repentance; no mercy to be shown to the wicked unless prudence demands courtesy; boys and girls, husband and wife, care and collection of fires, mortal sins, trading; many details resembling those in the Bundahishn from the creation to the future existence; dron and myazd; meat-offerings, as in Shayast-ne-Shayast, xi, 4 (see 54); Yatha-ahu-vairyo; 22 admonitions of Aturpat-i Maraspendan which he calls 'the sayings of the priest Mihr-Aurmazd', &c. Most of this Rivayat is written in good Pahlavi.

The Epistles of Manushchihr, which follow the second part of the foregoing Rivayat,are three in number and contain about 9000 words. They were written in consequence of complaints made by the people of Sirjan, a town about thirty parasangs south of Kirman, concerning certain new precepts about purification which had been recently issued by their high-priest Zat-sparam who was a younger brother of Manushchihr. The first epistle is a reply to the complaining people, the second an expostulation with his brother, and the third a public decree; all three severely condemning the new precepts as unlawful innovations. These Epistles are translated in SBE., and the third of them is dated in the third month of the year 250 of Yazdkart (June-July 881); the first Epistle is also dated on the fifth day of the twelfth month in, no doubt, the preceding year of Yazdkart (15 March 881).

The date of these Epistles is an important authority for fixing the dates of some other Pahlavi texts. When they were written, in 881, Manushchihr was an old man (Ep. II, ix, 1), but not too old to travel, as he threatens to do so in Ep. II, viii, 4, 5; but when he wrote the Datistan he must have been many years younger, as he adopts a much less authoritative tone in Dt, i, 5-7, 11, so that the date of the Datistan might be assumed to be about 865. That his brother Zat-sparam was certainly a much younger man is evident from the tone of the Epistles, and his Selections (see 49) may certainly be dated as late as 890. And as the compiler of the Bundahishn mentions Zat-sparam and Atur-pat, son of Hemet, as his own contemporaries (see 44), we ought to assign the same date to the Bundahishn, and perhaps 900 to the last revision of the Denkart (see 34) which Aturpat probably undertook on his succession to the leadership of the religion at Manushchihr's death about 890. The date of Atur-farnbag, the previous editor of the Denkart, is well defined by his disputation with Abalish (see 61) in the presence of the Khalifah Al-Mamun (813-833), which may have taken place about 825. The names of five successive leaders of the religion, during the ninth century, are now known, and the following dates for their rule may be suggested as probable:- Atur-farnbag 815-835, his unfortunate son Zartusht (see SBE.) 835-840, Yudan-Yim (see Ep. I, iii, 10; vii,5) 840-860, his son Manushchihr 860-890, Aturpat 890-910.

The Selections of Zat-sparam follow the Epistles in the codices, and are also three in number, extending to about 19,000 words, of which the connection of the last 3000 is still uncertain. The first part contains 'the sayings of Zat-sparam about the meeting of the beneficent with the maleficent spirit'; the second contains his 'sayings about the formation of man out of body, life, and soul'; and the third contains his 'sayings about producing the renovation of the universe'. The first 4000 words of the first part refer to the same subjects as the earlier part of the Bundahishn, and have been translated in SBE. The remaining 4700 words in this part are chiefly devoted to the origin of the religion, and the birth, life, and mission of Zartusht; with two anecdotes of Kai-Us and the hero Srito, the five dispositions of priests and ten admonitions (see 79), the three divisions of relevation, and the connection of the Ahunavar with the Nasks, which last two subjects are translated in SBE. The second part contains about 3000 words, and begins by comparing the human body to a house; it then traces its astronomical resemblances by comparing the brain and its six envelopes of bone, flesh, fat, veins, skin, and hair, to the seven planets from the moon to Saturn, one outside the other; and carries on the discussion into the future existence of the soul. The third part certainly extends to 4000 words, after which four folios of text are still missing, so that it is uncertain how many of the 3300 words, on these and the remaining four folios of the codices, belong to this part of the Selections, which begins with Aurmazd's statement of the reasons why mankind are to have a bodily existence in their future state.

Abstracted from : Pahlavi literature, E.W. West,
in Grundriss der iranischen Philologie, II. Band, Wilh. Geiger und Ernst Kuhn, Strassburg, 1896-1904

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