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Books > Hindu > The Zend- Avesta (Set of 3 Volumes)
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The Zend- Avesta  (Set of 3 Volumes)
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Preface

Since 1948 the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), upon the recommendation of the General Assembly of the United Nations, has been concerned with facilitating the translation of the works most representative of the culture of certain of its Member States, and, in particular, those of Asia.

One of the major difficulties confronting this programme is the lack of translators having both qualifications and the time to undertake translations of the many outstanding books meriting publication. To help overcome this difficulty in part, UNESCO’s advisers in this field ( a panel of experts convened every other year by the International Council for Philosophy and Humanistic Studies), have recommended that many worthwhile translations published during the 19th century, and now impossible to find except in a limited number of libraries, should be brought back into print in low-priced editions, for the use of students and of the general public. The experts also pointed out that in certain cases, even though there might be in existence more recent and more accurate translations endowed with a more modern apparatus of scholarship, a number of pioneer works of the greatest value and interest to students of Eastern religions also merited republication.

This point of view was warmly endorsed by the Indian National Academy of Latters (Sahitya Akademi), and the Indian National Commission for UNESCO.

It is in the spirit of these recommendations that this works from the famous series “Sacred Book of the East” is now once again being made available to the general public as part of the UNESCO Collection of Representative Works.

 

Part 1 (The Vendidad)

 

Introduction

The Zend- Avesta is the sacred book of the Parsis, that is to say, of the few remaining followers of that religion which reigned over Persia at the time when the second successor of Mohammad overthrew the Sassanian dynasty, and which has been called Dualism, or Mazdeism, or Magism, or Zoroastrianism, or Fire-worship, according as its main tenet, or its supreme God, or its priests, or its supposed founder, or its apparent object of worship has been most kept in view. In less than a century after their defeat, nearly all the conquered people were brought over to the faith of their new rulers, either by force, or policy, or the attractive power of a simpler form of creed. But many of those clung to the faith of their fathers, went and sought abroad for a new home, where they might freely worship their old gods, say their old prayers, and perform their old rites. That home they found at last among the tolerant Hindus, on the western coast of India and in the peninsula of Guzerat. There they throve and there they live still, while the ranks of their co-religionists in Persia and daily thinning and dwindling away.

As the Parsis are the ruins of a people, so are their sacred books the ruins of a religion. There has been no other great belief in the world that ever left such poor and meager monuments of its past splendor. Yet great is the value which that small book, the Avesta, and the belief of that scanty people, the Parsis, have in the eyes of the historian and theologist, as they present to us the last reflex of the ideas which prevailed in Iran during the five centuries which preceded and the seven which followed the birth of Christ, a period which gave to the world the Gospels, the Talmud, and the Qur’an. Persia, it is known, had much influence on each of the movements which produced, or proceeded from, those three books; she lend much to the first heresiarchs, much to the Rabbis, much to Mohamed. By help of the Parsi religion and the Avesta, we are enabled to go back to the very heart of that most momentous period in the history of religious thought, which saw the blending of Aryan mind with the Semitic, and thus opened the second stage of Aryan thought.

Inquiries into the religion of ancient Persia began long ago, and it was the old foe to Persia, the Greek, who first studied it. Aristotle, Hermippus, and many others wrote of it in books of which, unfortunately, nothing more than a few fragments or merely the titles have come down to us. We find much valuable information about it, scattered in the accounts of historians and travellers, extending over ten centuries, from Herodotus down to Agathias and Procopius. It was never more eagerly studied than in the first centuries of the Christian era; but that study had no longer anything of the disinterested and almost scientific character it had in earlier times. Religious and philosophic sects, in search of new dogmas, eagerly received whatever came to them bearing the name of Zoroster. As Xanthus the Lydian, who is said to have lived before Herodotus, had mentioned Zoroastrian Aoyia, there came to light, in those later times, scores of oracles, styled Aoyia rac Zwpoaorpov,or ‘Oracula Chaldaica sive Magica,’ the work of Neo- Plantonists who were but very remote disciples of the Median sage. As his name had become the very emblem of wisdom, they would cover with it the latest inventions of their ever deepening theosophy. Zoroaster and Plato were treated as if they had been philosophers of the same book. Proclus collected seventy Tetrads of Zoroaster and wrote commentaries on them ; but we need hardly say that Zoroaster commented on by Proclus. Prodicus the Gnostic had secret books of Zoroaster; and upon the whole it may be said that in the first centuries of Christianity, the religion of Persia was more studied and less understood than it had ever been before. The real object aimed at, in studying the old religion, was to form a new one.

Throughout the Middle Ages nothing was known of Mazdeism but the name of its founder, who from a Magus was converted into a magician and master of the hidden sciences. It was not until the Renaissance that real inquiry was resumed. The first step was to collect all the information that could be gathered from Greek and Roman writers. That task was undertaken and successfully completed by Barnabe Brisson. A nearer approach to the original source was made in the following century by Indian. English, and French travellers in Asia. Pietro della Valle, Henry Lord, Mandelslo, Ovington, Chardin, Gabrlel du Chinon, and Tavernier found Zoroaster’s last followers in Persia and India, and made known their existence, their manners, and the main features of their belief to Europe. Gabriel du Chinon saw their books and recognized that they were not all written in the same language, their original holy writ being no longer understood except by means of translations and commentaries in another tongue.

In the year 1700, a professor at Oxford, Thomas Hyde, the greatest Orientalist of his time in Europe, made the first systematic attempt to restore the history of the old Perian religion by combining the accounts of the Mohammedan writers with ‘the true and genuine monuments of ancient Persia’. Unfortunately the so-called genuine monuments of ancient Persia were nothing more than recent compilations referring to the last stage of Parsiism. But notwithstanding this defect, which could hardly be avoided then, and notwithstanding its still worse fault, a strange want of critical acumen, the book of Thomas Hyde was the first complete and true picture of modern Parsiism, and it made inquiry into its history the order of the day. A warm appeal made by him to the zeal of travellers, to seek for and procure at any price the sacred books of the Parsis, did not remain ineffectual, and from that time scholars bethought themselves of studying Parsiism in its own home.

 





Part II: The Sirozahs, Yasts and Nyayis

 

Introduction

The present volume contains a translation of the Sirozahs and Yasts, and of the Nyayis. This part of the Avesta treats chiefly of the mythical and legendary lore of Zoroastrianism.

For a satisfactory translation of these texts, the etymological and comparative method is generally considered as the best or as the only possible one, an account of the entire absence of any traditional interpretation. I have tried, however, to reduce the sphere of etymological guesswork to its narrowest limits, with the help of different Pahlavi, Persian, and Sanskrit translations, which are as yet unpublished, and have been neglected by former translators. I found such translations for the Sirozahs, for Yasts I, VI, VII, XI, XXIII, XXIV, and for the Nyayis (besides the already published translations of Yasts XXI and XXII.)

Of the remaining Yasts, which are mostly of an epical character, there is no direct translation available; but a close comparison of the legends in Firdausi’s Shah Namah seems to throw some light, even as regards philological points, on not a few obscure and important passages. This has enabled me, I believe, to restore a few myths to their original form, and to frame a more correct idea of others.

In this volume, as in the preceding one, I have to thank Mr. West for his kind assistance in Making my translation more readable, as well as for valuable hints in the interpretation of several passages.

 



Part III: The Yasna, Visparad, Afrinagan, Gahs

 

Preface

It would savour of affectation for me to say very much by way of meeting the necessary disadvantages under which I labour as in any sense a successor of Professor Darmesteter. It is sufficient to state that I believe myself to be fully aware of them, and that I trust that those who study my work will accord me the more sympathy under the circumstances. Professor Darmesteter, having extended his labours in his University, found his -entire time so occupied that he was obliged to decline further labour on this Series for the present. My work on the Gathas had been for some time in his hands , and he requested me, as a friend, to write the still needed volume of the translation of the Avesta. Although deeply appreciating the undesirableness of following one whose scholarship is only surpassed by his genius, I found myself unable to refuse.

As to my general treatment, experts will not need to be informed that I have laboured under no common difficulties. On the one hand, it would be extremely imprudent for any scholar not placed arbitrarily beyond the reach of criticism, to venture to produce a translation of the Yasna, Visparad, Afrinagan, and Gahs, without defensive notes. The smallest freedom would be hypercriticised by interested parties; and after them condemned by their followers. On the other hand, even with the imperfect commentary which accompanies the Gathas here, the generous courtesy of the Dele- gates of the Clarendon Press has been too abundantly drawn upon. One does not expect detailed commentaries in this Series. My efforts have therefore been chiefly confined to forestalling the possible assaults of unfair or forgetful critics, and so to spare myself, in so far as it may be possible, the necessitv for painful rejoinder.

To print a commentary on the Yasna, &c., which would be clear to non-specialists, and at the same time interesting, would occupy many times more space than could be here allowed. In treating the Gathas however, even at the risk of too great extension, I have endeavoured to atone for the necessary obscurity of notes by ample summaries, and a translation supported by paraphrase, as such matter has more prospect of being generally instructive than a commentary which must necessarily have remained obscure. These summaries should also be read with the more indulgence, as they are the first of their kind yet attempted, Haug's having been different in their scope. With regard to all matters of mere form, I expect from all sides a similar concession. It will, I trust, be regarded as a sufficient result if a translation, which has been built up upon the strictest critical principles, can be made at all readable. For while any student may transcribe from the works of others what might be called a translation of the Yasna, to render that part of it, termed the Gathas, has been declared by a respected authority, 'the severest task in Aryan philology .' And certainly, if the extent of preparatory studies alone is to be the gauge, the statement cited would not seem to be an exaggeration. On mathematical estimates the amount of labour which will have to be gone through to become an independent investigator, seem, to be much greater than that which presents itself before specialists in more favoured departments. No one should think of writing with originality on the Gathas, or the rest of the Avesta, who had not long studied the Vedic Sanskrit, and no one should think of pronouncing ultimate opinions on the Gathas, who has not to a respectable degree mastered the Pahlavi commentaries. But while the Vedic, thanks to the labours of editor and lexicographers, has long been open to hopeful study, the Pahlavi commentaries have never been thoroughly made out, and writer after writer advances with an open avowal to that effect; while the explanation, if attempted, involves questions of actual decipherment, and Persian studies in addition to those of the Sanskrit and Zend; and the language of the Gathas requires also the study of a severe comparative philology, and that to an unusual, if not unequalled, extent.

The keen observer will at once see that a department of science so circumstanced may cause especial embarrassment. On the one hand, it is exposed to the impositions of dilettanti, and the hard working specialist must be content to see those who have advanced with studies one half, or less than one half completed, consulted as masters by a public which is only ignorant as regards the inner- most laws of the science; and, on the other hand, the deficiencies of even the most laborious of specialists must leave chasms of imperfection out of which the war of the methods must continually re-arise. In handling the Gathas especially, I have resorted to the plan of giving a translation which is inclusively literal, but filled out and rounded as to form by the free use of additions. As the serious student should read with a strong negative criticism, he may notice that I strive occasionally after a more pleasing effect; but, as we lose the metrical flow of the original entirely, such an effort to put the rendering somewhat on a level with the original in this respect, becomes a real necessity. I have, however, in order to guard against misleading the reader-generally, but not always, indicated the added words by parenthetical curves. That these will be considered unsightly and awkward, I am well aware. I consider them such myself, but I have not felt at liberty to refrain from using them. As the Gathas are disputed word for word, I could not venture to resort to free omissions j and what a translation would be without either additions or omissions, may be seen from the occasional word for word renderings given. Beyond the Gathas, I have omitted the curves oftener. I have in the Gathas, as elsewhere, also endeavoured to impart a rhythmical character to the translation, for the reason above given, and foreign readers should especially note the fact, as well as my effort to preserve the colour of original expressions, otherwise they will inevitably inquire why I do not spare words. To preserve the colour and warmth, and at the same time to include a literal rendering, it is impossible to spare words and syllables, and it is unwise to attempt it. Non-specialists may dislike the frequency of alternative renderings as leaving the impression of indecision, while, at the same time, a decision is always expressed by the adoption of a preferred rendering. The alternatives were added with the object of showing how nearly balanced probabilities may be, and also how unimportant to the general sense the questions among specialists often are.

 

Introduction

Many readers, for whom the Zend-Avesta possesses only collateral interest, may not understand why any introductory remarks are called for to those portions of it which are treated in this volume. The extent of the matter does not appear at first sight a sufficient reason for adding a word to the masterly work which introduces the first two volumes, and, in fact, save as regards questions which bear upon the Gathas, I avoid for the most part, for the present, all discussion of details which chiefly concern either the sections treated in the first two volumes, or the extended parts of the later Avesta treated here. But the Gathas are of such a nature, and differ so widely from other parts of the Avesta, that some words of separate discussion seem quite indispensable, and such a discussion was recommended by the author of the other volumes. A second reason why a word of introduction is necessary, when the translation of the successive parts of the Avesta passes from one hand to another, is a reason which bears upon the subject with exceptional force.

It is this: the Avesta, while clearly made out, so far as the requirements of comparative theology are concerned, yet presents difficulties as to minute detail so great, that as yet no two independent scholars can entirely agree as to their solution. Master and pupil, friend and friend, must differ, and sometimes on questions of no trivial moment.

The preliminary studies requisite to the formation of ultimate opinions are so varied, and of such a nature, involving the rendering of matter as yet totally unrendered with any scientific exactness in either India or Europe, that no person can claim to have satisfied himself in these respects. Scholars are therefore obliged to advance biassed by the fact that they are preponderatingly lranists, or preponderatingly Vedists, and therefore certain at the outset that they must differ to a certain degree from each other, and to a certain degree also from the truth. It was also, as might well be understood without statement, with a full knowledge of the fact that I was inclined to allow especial weight to a comparison with the Veda, and that I modified the evidence of tradition somewhat more than he did, that Professor Darmesteter urged me to accept this task. But while I am constrained to say something by way of a preparatory treatise here, a sense of the fitness of things induces me to be as brief as possible, and I must therefore ask indulgence of the reader if my mode of expressing myself seems either rough or abrupt.

As to what the Gathas are in their detail, enough has been said in the summaries and notes. From those representations, necessarily somewhat scattered, it appears that they comprise seventeen sections of poetical matter, equal in extent to about twenty-five to thirty hymns of the Rig-veda, composed in ancient Aryan metres, ascribing supreme (beneficent) power to the Deity Ahura Mazda, who is yet opposed co-ordinately by an evil Deity called Aka Manah, or Angra Mainyu. In all respects, save in the one particular that He is not the Creator of this evil Deity, and does not possess the power to destroy him or his realm, this Ahura Mazda is one of the purest conceptions which had yet been produced. He has six personified attributes (so one might' state it), later, but not in the Gathas, described as Archangels, whole in the Gathas they are at once the abstract attributes of God, or of God's faithful adherents upon earth, and at the same time conceived of as persons, all efforts to separate the instances in which they are spoken of as the mere dispositions of the divine or saintly mind, and those in which they are spoken of as personal beings, having been in vain.

We have therefore a profound scheme, perhaps not consciously invented, but being a growth through centuries; and this system is the unity of God in His faithful creatures. It is not a polytheism properly so-called, as Ahura forms with his Immortals a Heptade, reminding one of the Sabellian Trinity. It is not a Pantheism, for it is especially arrested by the domain of the evil Deity. It might be called, if we stretch the indications, a Hagio-theism, a delineation of God in the holy creation. Outside of the Heptade is Sraosha, the personified Obedience (and possibly Vayu, as once mentioned); and, as the emblem of the pious, is the Kine's soul, while the Fire is a poetically personified symbol of the divine purity and power. As opposed to the good God, we have the Evil Mind, or the Angry (?) Spirit, not yet provided with full personified attributes to correspond to the Bountiful Immortals. He has, however, a servant, Aeshma, the impersonation of invasion and rapine, the chief scourge of the Zarathustrians.; and an evil angel, the Drug, personified deceit, while the Daevas (Devas) of their more southern neighbours (some of whose tribes had remained, as servile castes, among the Zarathustrians) constitute perhaps the general representatives of Aka Manah, Aeshma, the Drug, &c. The two original spirits unite in the creation of the good and evil in existence both actually in the present, and in principles which have their issue in the future in rewards and punishments. The importance of this creed, so far stated, as the dualistical creation, and, as an attempted solution, of the hardest problem of speculation, should be obvious to every en-lightened eye. If there existed a supreme God whose power could up do the very laws of life, no evil could have been known; but the doctrine denies that there is any such being. The good and the evil in existence limit each other. There can be no happiness undefined by sorrow, and no goodness which does not resist sin. Accordingly the evil principle is recognised as so necessary that it is represented by an evil God. His very name, however, is a. thought, or a passion; while the good Deity is not responsible (or the wickedness and grief which prevail. His power itself could not have prevented their occurrence. And He alone has an especially objective name, and one which could only be applied to a person. These suggestions, whether true or false, are certainly some of the most serious that have ever been made, and we find them originally here.

As to the nature of religious rewards and punishments, we have suggestions scarcely less important in the eye of scientific theology, and, as a matter of fact, very much more extensively spread. To say that the future rewards held out in the Gathas were largely, if not chiefly, spiritual, and in the man himself, would be almost a slur upon the truth. The truth is, that the mental heaven and hell with which we are now familiar as the only future states recognised by intelligent people, and thoughts which, in spite of their familiarity, can never lose their importance, are not only used and expressed in the Gathas, but expressed there, so far as we are aware, for the first time. While mankind were delivered up to the childish terrors of a future replete with horrors visited upon them from without, the early Iranian sage announced the eternal truth that the rewards of Heaven, and the punishments of Hell, can only oe from within. He gave us, we may fairly say, through the systems which he has influenced) that great doctrine of subjective recompense, which must work an essential change in the mental habits of everyone who receives it. After the creation of souls, and the establishment of the laws which should govern them, Aramaiti gives a body, and men and angels begin their careers. A Mathra is inspired for the guidance of the well-disposed. The faithful learn the vows of the holy system under the teaching of the Immortals. while the infidel and reprobate portion of mankind accept the seductions of the Worst Mind, and unite with the Daevas in the capital sin of warfare from wanton cruelty, or for dishonest acquisition. The consequence of this latter alliance is soon apparent. The Kine, as the representative of the holy people, laments under the miseries which make Iranian life a load. The efforts to draw a livelihood from honest labour are opposed, but not frustrated, by the Daeva-worshipping tribes who still struggle with the Zarathustrians for the control of the territory. The Kine therefore lifts her wail to Ahura, and His Righteous Order, Asha, who respond by the appointment. of Zarathustra, as the individual entrusted with her redemption; and he, accepting his commission, begins his prophetic labours. From this on we have a series of lamentations, prayers, praises, and exhortations, addressed by Zarathustra and his immediate associates to Ahura and the people, which delineate the public and personal sorrows in detail, utter individual supplications and thanksgivings, and exhort the masses assembled in special or periodical meetings.

 


Sample Pages

Part 1 (The Vendidad)















 

Part II: The Sirozahs, Yasts and Nyayis

















Part III: The Yasna, Visparad, Afrinagan, Gahs
















The Zend- Avesta (Set of 3 Volumes)

Item Code:
NAN047
Cover:
Hardcover
Edition:
2005
ISBN:
Part I- 8120801059
Part II- 9788120801240
Part III- 9788120801325
Language:
English
Size:
9.0 inch x 6.0 inch
Pages:
1193
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 1.8 kg
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$75.00   Shipping Free - 4 to 6 days
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Preface

Since 1948 the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), upon the recommendation of the General Assembly of the United Nations, has been concerned with facilitating the translation of the works most representative of the culture of certain of its Member States, and, in particular, those of Asia.

One of the major difficulties confronting this programme is the lack of translators having both qualifications and the time to undertake translations of the many outstanding books meriting publication. To help overcome this difficulty in part, UNESCO’s advisers in this field ( a panel of experts convened every other year by the International Council for Philosophy and Humanistic Studies), have recommended that many worthwhile translations published during the 19th century, and now impossible to find except in a limited number of libraries, should be brought back into print in low-priced editions, for the use of students and of the general public. The experts also pointed out that in certain cases, even though there might be in existence more recent and more accurate translations endowed with a more modern apparatus of scholarship, a number of pioneer works of the greatest value and interest to students of Eastern religions also merited republication.

This point of view was warmly endorsed by the Indian National Academy of Latters (Sahitya Akademi), and the Indian National Commission for UNESCO.

It is in the spirit of these recommendations that this works from the famous series “Sacred Book of the East” is now once again being made available to the general public as part of the UNESCO Collection of Representative Works.

 

Part 1 (The Vendidad)

 

Introduction

The Zend- Avesta is the sacred book of the Parsis, that is to say, of the few remaining followers of that religion which reigned over Persia at the time when the second successor of Mohammad overthrew the Sassanian dynasty, and which has been called Dualism, or Mazdeism, or Magism, or Zoroastrianism, or Fire-worship, according as its main tenet, or its supreme God, or its priests, or its supposed founder, or its apparent object of worship has been most kept in view. In less than a century after their defeat, nearly all the conquered people were brought over to the faith of their new rulers, either by force, or policy, or the attractive power of a simpler form of creed. But many of those clung to the faith of their fathers, went and sought abroad for a new home, where they might freely worship their old gods, say their old prayers, and perform their old rites. That home they found at last among the tolerant Hindus, on the western coast of India and in the peninsula of Guzerat. There they throve and there they live still, while the ranks of their co-religionists in Persia and daily thinning and dwindling away.

As the Parsis are the ruins of a people, so are their sacred books the ruins of a religion. There has been no other great belief in the world that ever left such poor and meager monuments of its past splendor. Yet great is the value which that small book, the Avesta, and the belief of that scanty people, the Parsis, have in the eyes of the historian and theologist, as they present to us the last reflex of the ideas which prevailed in Iran during the five centuries which preceded and the seven which followed the birth of Christ, a period which gave to the world the Gospels, the Talmud, and the Qur’an. Persia, it is known, had much influence on each of the movements which produced, or proceeded from, those three books; she lend much to the first heresiarchs, much to the Rabbis, much to Mohamed. By help of the Parsi religion and the Avesta, we are enabled to go back to the very heart of that most momentous period in the history of religious thought, which saw the blending of Aryan mind with the Semitic, and thus opened the second stage of Aryan thought.

Inquiries into the religion of ancient Persia began long ago, and it was the old foe to Persia, the Greek, who first studied it. Aristotle, Hermippus, and many others wrote of it in books of which, unfortunately, nothing more than a few fragments or merely the titles have come down to us. We find much valuable information about it, scattered in the accounts of historians and travellers, extending over ten centuries, from Herodotus down to Agathias and Procopius. It was never more eagerly studied than in the first centuries of the Christian era; but that study had no longer anything of the disinterested and almost scientific character it had in earlier times. Religious and philosophic sects, in search of new dogmas, eagerly received whatever came to them bearing the name of Zoroster. As Xanthus the Lydian, who is said to have lived before Herodotus, had mentioned Zoroastrian Aoyia, there came to light, in those later times, scores of oracles, styled Aoyia rac Zwpoaorpov,or ‘Oracula Chaldaica sive Magica,’ the work of Neo- Plantonists who were but very remote disciples of the Median sage. As his name had become the very emblem of wisdom, they would cover with it the latest inventions of their ever deepening theosophy. Zoroaster and Plato were treated as if they had been philosophers of the same book. Proclus collected seventy Tetrads of Zoroaster and wrote commentaries on them ; but we need hardly say that Zoroaster commented on by Proclus. Prodicus the Gnostic had secret books of Zoroaster; and upon the whole it may be said that in the first centuries of Christianity, the religion of Persia was more studied and less understood than it had ever been before. The real object aimed at, in studying the old religion, was to form a new one.

Throughout the Middle Ages nothing was known of Mazdeism but the name of its founder, who from a Magus was converted into a magician and master of the hidden sciences. It was not until the Renaissance that real inquiry was resumed. The first step was to collect all the information that could be gathered from Greek and Roman writers. That task was undertaken and successfully completed by Barnabe Brisson. A nearer approach to the original source was made in the following century by Indian. English, and French travellers in Asia. Pietro della Valle, Henry Lord, Mandelslo, Ovington, Chardin, Gabrlel du Chinon, and Tavernier found Zoroaster’s last followers in Persia and India, and made known their existence, their manners, and the main features of their belief to Europe. Gabriel du Chinon saw their books and recognized that they were not all written in the same language, their original holy writ being no longer understood except by means of translations and commentaries in another tongue.

In the year 1700, a professor at Oxford, Thomas Hyde, the greatest Orientalist of his time in Europe, made the first systematic attempt to restore the history of the old Perian religion by combining the accounts of the Mohammedan writers with ‘the true and genuine monuments of ancient Persia’. Unfortunately the so-called genuine monuments of ancient Persia were nothing more than recent compilations referring to the last stage of Parsiism. But notwithstanding this defect, which could hardly be avoided then, and notwithstanding its still worse fault, a strange want of critical acumen, the book of Thomas Hyde was the first complete and true picture of modern Parsiism, and it made inquiry into its history the order of the day. A warm appeal made by him to the zeal of travellers, to seek for and procure at any price the sacred books of the Parsis, did not remain ineffectual, and from that time scholars bethought themselves of studying Parsiism in its own home.

 





Part II: The Sirozahs, Yasts and Nyayis

 

Introduction

The present volume contains a translation of the Sirozahs and Yasts, and of the Nyayis. This part of the Avesta treats chiefly of the mythical and legendary lore of Zoroastrianism.

For a satisfactory translation of these texts, the etymological and comparative method is generally considered as the best or as the only possible one, an account of the entire absence of any traditional interpretation. I have tried, however, to reduce the sphere of etymological guesswork to its narrowest limits, with the help of different Pahlavi, Persian, and Sanskrit translations, which are as yet unpublished, and have been neglected by former translators. I found such translations for the Sirozahs, for Yasts I, VI, VII, XI, XXIII, XXIV, and for the Nyayis (besides the already published translations of Yasts XXI and XXII.)

Of the remaining Yasts, which are mostly of an epical character, there is no direct translation available; but a close comparison of the legends in Firdausi’s Shah Namah seems to throw some light, even as regards philological points, on not a few obscure and important passages. This has enabled me, I believe, to restore a few myths to their original form, and to frame a more correct idea of others.

In this volume, as in the preceding one, I have to thank Mr. West for his kind assistance in Making my translation more readable, as well as for valuable hints in the interpretation of several passages.

 



Part III: The Yasna, Visparad, Afrinagan, Gahs

 

Preface

It would savour of affectation for me to say very much by way of meeting the necessary disadvantages under which I labour as in any sense a successor of Professor Darmesteter. It is sufficient to state that I believe myself to be fully aware of them, and that I trust that those who study my work will accord me the more sympathy under the circumstances. Professor Darmesteter, having extended his labours in his University, found his -entire time so occupied that he was obliged to decline further labour on this Series for the present. My work on the Gathas had been for some time in his hands , and he requested me, as a friend, to write the still needed volume of the translation of the Avesta. Although deeply appreciating the undesirableness of following one whose scholarship is only surpassed by his genius, I found myself unable to refuse.

As to my general treatment, experts will not need to be informed that I have laboured under no common difficulties. On the one hand, it would be extremely imprudent for any scholar not placed arbitrarily beyond the reach of criticism, to venture to produce a translation of the Yasna, Visparad, Afrinagan, and Gahs, without defensive notes. The smallest freedom would be hypercriticised by interested parties; and after them condemned by their followers. On the other hand, even with the imperfect commentary which accompanies the Gathas here, the generous courtesy of the Dele- gates of the Clarendon Press has been too abundantly drawn upon. One does not expect detailed commentaries in this Series. My efforts have therefore been chiefly confined to forestalling the possible assaults of unfair or forgetful critics, and so to spare myself, in so far as it may be possible, the necessitv for painful rejoinder.

To print a commentary on the Yasna, &c., which would be clear to non-specialists, and at the same time interesting, would occupy many times more space than could be here allowed. In treating the Gathas however, even at the risk of too great extension, I have endeavoured to atone for the necessary obscurity of notes by ample summaries, and a translation supported by paraphrase, as such matter has more prospect of being generally instructive than a commentary which must necessarily have remained obscure. These summaries should also be read with the more indulgence, as they are the first of their kind yet attempted, Haug's having been different in their scope. With regard to all matters of mere form, I expect from all sides a similar concession. It will, I trust, be regarded as a sufficient result if a translation, which has been built up upon the strictest critical principles, can be made at all readable. For while any student may transcribe from the works of others what might be called a translation of the Yasna, to render that part of it, termed the Gathas, has been declared by a respected authority, 'the severest task in Aryan philology .' And certainly, if the extent of preparatory studies alone is to be the gauge, the statement cited would not seem to be an exaggeration. On mathematical estimates the amount of labour which will have to be gone through to become an independent investigator, seem, to be much greater than that which presents itself before specialists in more favoured departments. No one should think of writing with originality on the Gathas, or the rest of the Avesta, who had not long studied the Vedic Sanskrit, and no one should think of pronouncing ultimate opinions on the Gathas, who has not to a respectable degree mastered the Pahlavi commentaries. But while the Vedic, thanks to the labours of editor and lexicographers, has long been open to hopeful study, the Pahlavi commentaries have never been thoroughly made out, and writer after writer advances with an open avowal to that effect; while the explanation, if attempted, involves questions of actual decipherment, and Persian studies in addition to those of the Sanskrit and Zend; and the language of the Gathas requires also the study of a severe comparative philology, and that to an unusual, if not unequalled, extent.

The keen observer will at once see that a department of science so circumstanced may cause especial embarrassment. On the one hand, it is exposed to the impositions of dilettanti, and the hard working specialist must be content to see those who have advanced with studies one half, or less than one half completed, consulted as masters by a public which is only ignorant as regards the inner- most laws of the science; and, on the other hand, the deficiencies of even the most laborious of specialists must leave chasms of imperfection out of which the war of the methods must continually re-arise. In handling the Gathas especially, I have resorted to the plan of giving a translation which is inclusively literal, but filled out and rounded as to form by the free use of additions. As the serious student should read with a strong negative criticism, he may notice that I strive occasionally after a more pleasing effect; but, as we lose the metrical flow of the original entirely, such an effort to put the rendering somewhat on a level with the original in this respect, becomes a real necessity. I have, however, in order to guard against misleading the reader-generally, but not always, indicated the added words by parenthetical curves. That these will be considered unsightly and awkward, I am well aware. I consider them such myself, but I have not felt at liberty to refrain from using them. As the Gathas are disputed word for word, I could not venture to resort to free omissions j and what a translation would be without either additions or omissions, may be seen from the occasional word for word renderings given. Beyond the Gathas, I have omitted the curves oftener. I have in the Gathas, as elsewhere, also endeavoured to impart a rhythmical character to the translation, for the reason above given, and foreign readers should especially note the fact, as well as my effort to preserve the colour of original expressions, otherwise they will inevitably inquire why I do not spare words. To preserve the colour and warmth, and at the same time to include a literal rendering, it is impossible to spare words and syllables, and it is unwise to attempt it. Non-specialists may dislike the frequency of alternative renderings as leaving the impression of indecision, while, at the same time, a decision is always expressed by the adoption of a preferred rendering. The alternatives were added with the object of showing how nearly balanced probabilities may be, and also how unimportant to the general sense the questions among specialists often are.

 

Introduction

Many readers, for whom the Zend-Avesta possesses only collateral interest, may not understand why any introductory remarks are called for to those portions of it which are treated in this volume. The extent of the matter does not appear at first sight a sufficient reason for adding a word to the masterly work which introduces the first two volumes, and, in fact, save as regards questions which bear upon the Gathas, I avoid for the most part, for the present, all discussion of details which chiefly concern either the sections treated in the first two volumes, or the extended parts of the later Avesta treated here. But the Gathas are of such a nature, and differ so widely from other parts of the Avesta, that some words of separate discussion seem quite indispensable, and such a discussion was recommended by the author of the other volumes. A second reason why a word of introduction is necessary, when the translation of the successive parts of the Avesta passes from one hand to another, is a reason which bears upon the subject with exceptional force.

It is this: the Avesta, while clearly made out, so far as the requirements of comparative theology are concerned, yet presents difficulties as to minute detail so great, that as yet no two independent scholars can entirely agree as to their solution. Master and pupil, friend and friend, must differ, and sometimes on questions of no trivial moment.

The preliminary studies requisite to the formation of ultimate opinions are so varied, and of such a nature, involving the rendering of matter as yet totally unrendered with any scientific exactness in either India or Europe, that no person can claim to have satisfied himself in these respects. Scholars are therefore obliged to advance biassed by the fact that they are preponderatingly lranists, or preponderatingly Vedists, and therefore certain at the outset that they must differ to a certain degree from each other, and to a certain degree also from the truth. It was also, as might well be understood without statement, with a full knowledge of the fact that I was inclined to allow especial weight to a comparison with the Veda, and that I modified the evidence of tradition somewhat more than he did, that Professor Darmesteter urged me to accept this task. But while I am constrained to say something by way of a preparatory treatise here, a sense of the fitness of things induces me to be as brief as possible, and I must therefore ask indulgence of the reader if my mode of expressing myself seems either rough or abrupt.

As to what the Gathas are in their detail, enough has been said in the summaries and notes. From those representations, necessarily somewhat scattered, it appears that they comprise seventeen sections of poetical matter, equal in extent to about twenty-five to thirty hymns of the Rig-veda, composed in ancient Aryan metres, ascribing supreme (beneficent) power to the Deity Ahura Mazda, who is yet opposed co-ordinately by an evil Deity called Aka Manah, or Angra Mainyu. In all respects, save in the one particular that He is not the Creator of this evil Deity, and does not possess the power to destroy him or his realm, this Ahura Mazda is one of the purest conceptions which had yet been produced. He has six personified attributes (so one might' state it), later, but not in the Gathas, described as Archangels, whole in the Gathas they are at once the abstract attributes of God, or of God's faithful adherents upon earth, and at the same time conceived of as persons, all efforts to separate the instances in which they are spoken of as the mere dispositions of the divine or saintly mind, and those in which they are spoken of as personal beings, having been in vain.

We have therefore a profound scheme, perhaps not consciously invented, but being a growth through centuries; and this system is the unity of God in His faithful creatures. It is not a polytheism properly so-called, as Ahura forms with his Immortals a Heptade, reminding one of the Sabellian Trinity. It is not a Pantheism, for it is especially arrested by the domain of the evil Deity. It might be called, if we stretch the indications, a Hagio-theism, a delineation of God in the holy creation. Outside of the Heptade is Sraosha, the personified Obedience (and possibly Vayu, as once mentioned); and, as the emblem of the pious, is the Kine's soul, while the Fire is a poetically personified symbol of the divine purity and power. As opposed to the good God, we have the Evil Mind, or the Angry (?) Spirit, not yet provided with full personified attributes to correspond to the Bountiful Immortals. He has, however, a servant, Aeshma, the impersonation of invasion and rapine, the chief scourge of the Zarathustrians.; and an evil angel, the Drug, personified deceit, while the Daevas (Devas) of their more southern neighbours (some of whose tribes had remained, as servile castes, among the Zarathustrians) constitute perhaps the general representatives of Aka Manah, Aeshma, the Drug, &c. The two original spirits unite in the creation of the good and evil in existence both actually in the present, and in principles which have their issue in the future in rewards and punishments. The importance of this creed, so far stated, as the dualistical creation, and, as an attempted solution, of the hardest problem of speculation, should be obvious to every en-lightened eye. If there existed a supreme God whose power could up do the very laws of life, no evil could have been known; but the doctrine denies that there is any such being. The good and the evil in existence limit each other. There can be no happiness undefined by sorrow, and no goodness which does not resist sin. Accordingly the evil principle is recognised as so necessary that it is represented by an evil God. His very name, however, is a. thought, or a passion; while the good Deity is not responsible (or the wickedness and grief which prevail. His power itself could not have prevented their occurrence. And He alone has an especially objective name, and one which could only be applied to a person. These suggestions, whether true or false, are certainly some of the most serious that have ever been made, and we find them originally here.

As to the nature of religious rewards and punishments, we have suggestions scarcely less important in the eye of scientific theology, and, as a matter of fact, very much more extensively spread. To say that the future rewards held out in the Gathas were largely, if not chiefly, spiritual, and in the man himself, would be almost a slur upon the truth. The truth is, that the mental heaven and hell with which we are now familiar as the only future states recognised by intelligent people, and thoughts which, in spite of their familiarity, can never lose their importance, are not only used and expressed in the Gathas, but expressed there, so far as we are aware, for the first time. While mankind were delivered up to the childish terrors of a future replete with horrors visited upon them from without, the early Iranian sage announced the eternal truth that the rewards of Heaven, and the punishments of Hell, can only oe from within. He gave us, we may fairly say, through the systems which he has influenced) that great doctrine of subjective recompense, which must work an essential change in the mental habits of everyone who receives it. After the creation of souls, and the establishment of the laws which should govern them, Aramaiti gives a body, and men and angels begin their careers. A Mathra is inspired for the guidance of the well-disposed. The faithful learn the vows of the holy system under the teaching of the Immortals. while the infidel and reprobate portion of mankind accept the seductions of the Worst Mind, and unite with the Daevas in the capital sin of warfare from wanton cruelty, or for dishonest acquisition. The consequence of this latter alliance is soon apparent. The Kine, as the representative of the holy people, laments under the miseries which make Iranian life a load. The efforts to draw a livelihood from honest labour are opposed, but not frustrated, by the Daeva-worshipping tribes who still struggle with the Zarathustrians for the control of the territory. The Kine therefore lifts her wail to Ahura, and His Righteous Order, Asha, who respond by the appointment. of Zarathustra, as the individual entrusted with her redemption; and he, accepting his commission, begins his prophetic labours. From this on we have a series of lamentations, prayers, praises, and exhortations, addressed by Zarathustra and his immediate associates to Ahura and the people, which delineate the public and personal sorrows in detail, utter individual supplications and thanksgivings, and exhort the masses assembled in special or periodical meetings.

 


Sample Pages

Part 1 (The Vendidad)















 

Part II: The Sirozahs, Yasts and Nyayis

















Part III: The Yasna, Visparad, Afrinagan, Gahs
















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