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Zoroastrian Religion (A Rare Book)
Zoroastrian Religion (A Rare Book)
Description
Preface

The present work consists of four lectures on Zoroastrian Religion that were delivered by the late Professor Kshetresachandra Chattopadhyaya at the Centre of Advanced Study in Philosophy, Banaras Hindu University during May, 1973. Professor Chattopadhyaya was a great Sanskrit scholar and was considered an authority on the Vedas. But he also possessed a wide range of interests which covered not only the different fields of Sanskrit learning but other disciplines as well. He developed a special interest in Zoroastrian Religion and devoted a good portion of his academic life, as he has himself mentioned in his introduction, to the study, teaching and interpretation of the Avesta and Ancient Persian Inscriptions. In this respect he enjoys a unique position among Hindu scholars. This small volume bears ample evidence of his profound scholarship in Avestan language and literature and Zoroastrian religion as a whole.

The author has called his lectures on Zoroastrian religion as complementary to a set of lectures that he delivered on Vedic Religion. There is a greater affinity, according to him, between Zoroastrian religion and Vedic religion than one finds between the three Semitic religions. The languages of the scriptures of the two religions also show remarkable correspondence. This fact makes a comparative study of Zoroastrian and Vedic religions a most interesting and fruitful enterprise. The author was possessed of a keen historical sense and has treated Zoroastrian religion in its proper historical perspective. He has devoted a considerable portion of his first lecture to determine the date of Zarathustra's birth by examining critically all the evidences and the records that are available from Zoroastrian tradition as well as foreign Sources". The second lecture deals with the Religious Reform introduced by Zarathustra in the old Iranian religion. Professor Chattopadhyaya here puts forward the view that Zarathustra's religion was monotheistic and his belief in Amesha Spentas does not coin promise his monotheism. He also contends that Zarathustra's system involves a moral dualism and not metaphysical dualism, SpentaMainyu and Angra Mainyu which represent the principles of good and evil respectively are both creations of Ahur Mazda and are not outside his powers. Ultimately there will be the victory of the good and evil will be defeated and vanquished. So it ill not legitimate to characterise the system of Zarathustra as dualistic in the metaphysical sense. But in spite of the monotheism of Zarathustra, polytheism reasserted itself among his followers in the form of belief in a large number of Yazatas. This the author has -clearly brought out in the third lecture entitled, the-Younger Avesta, The fourth lecture entitled, Rituals, describes the Yasna ceremony and other ceremonies, including sacramental rites, which constitute a most essential and integral part of Zoroastrian religion.

Some facts have to be mentioned here regarding the difficulties that we have faced in editing the present work. Unfortunately, due to his sudden death, Prof. Chattopadhyaya could not revise his manuscript. It could not also be typed during his life-time. At certain places in his manuscript, he has himself written'rough'. This fact has created a considerable difficulty in deciphering certain portions of the manuscript. We have also not been able to make a thorough checking of all the references during the short time at our disposal, as many of the works mentioned in the book were not available to us. Prof.Chattopadhyaya at certain places has given lengthy quotations in transliterated form from Avesta and these have been followed by their English renderings. Due to difficulties and limitations of the printing press, we felt constrained to drop the quotations in the original Avestan, and have retained only their English rendering. We are sorry for these unavoidable shortcomings and omissions.

In the beginning of the book we have given a Table showing the pattern of transcription followed herein.'We have also' given a bibliography at the end which contains the list of the books and journals which find mention in the book.

We hope the students of Comparative Religion and specially of Zoroastrianism will find this volume extremely important and useful for their further study and research. It should also stimulate the Hindu scholars to make a more intensive and thorough comparative study of Zoroastrian and Vedic religions.

We express our grateful thanks to the University Grants Commission for providing necessary grants for the publication of the books by this Department.

Introduction

After I delivered a set of lectures on Vedic Religion, I was asked by the Director of the Centre of Advanced Study in Philosophy to give you a set of lectures on Zoroastrian Religion. I joyfully accepted this new task because in a way these lectures would be complementary to those given earlier.

They will be complementary, because they will show how two neighbouring countries can show similarities in the deepest levels of culture. Religion is according to a well known verse in Sanskrit-, the factor that differentiates man from the rest of the animal world. Zoroastrian religion shows greater affinity with Vedic religion, than the three great semitic religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam, show, among themselves. Not only do the two religions show similarity, the languages of their sacred scriptures also show remarkable correspondence. It is usual to say that by the application of a few phonetic laws it is easy to convert an early Avestic passage (a text of Zarathustra's Gathas) into Vedic Sanskrit and vice versa 2. This is, however, an over-statement. The language of Zarathustra's own writings, the Gathas, shows affinities not only with that of the Vedas, but also with classical Sanskrit and even Prakrits and, even greater affinity with the Ancient Persian Inscriptions of the Achaemenian kings of the 'fifth and fourth centuries before Christ.

There is also a personal reason for my gladly accepting the task now assigned to me. It is that a good portion of my academic life has been spent in the study, teaching and interpretation of the Avesta and Ancient Persian Inscriptions. My first love, formed from early boyhood, was besides linguistics, the study of the Vedas. When an undergraduate student at Allahabad I chanced to read in the Allahabad Public Library a set of five lectures on the Indo-European Language by Professor C. M. Mulvany of the Queen's College of Benares in which he "had pointed out the similarity between the languages of the Veda -and the Avesta. This roused my interest in the subject. I read in the Bengali Magazine, Pravasi, two articles by the late Mahsmahopadhyaya Pandita Vidhushekhar Bhattacharya on the Haoma Yast (Yasna lX of the Avesta), giving the text in Bengali transliteration, a Sanskrit translation and a rendering into Bengali. My appetite was whetted by this and I was seeking -an opportunity for learning the language, though I was pre- -occupied with other studies. That opportunity came when I met the late Dr. Irach Jahangir Surabji Taraporewala the then 'Professor of Comparative Philosophy in the University of Calcutta, 'first at Rangpur ( now in Bangladesh) and then in Calcutta and l: seriously started its study from his Selections from the Avesta; then in course of publication from the Calcutta University Press. A later helper was the late Shams-ul-Ulema Dr. Sir Jivanji Jamshedji Modi of Bombay. I pay my Sraddhanjali to these three teachers of mine before coming to the subject proper of my lectures.

The similarities I referred to between the two religions are not only due to common heritage but also caused by the contiguity of the two countries, India and Iran and a free movement of the peoples of the two countries, a point which is often overlooked in these studies. India has never remained cut off from the rest of the world, whatever Rudyard Kipling may have said Panini, the ancient grammarian of the Sanskrit language, knew of the Parsus as a warlike tribe (V. 3.117) and there are several references to them in the Vedic literature, Several Vedic Scholars have said that the Vedas not only knew about the Parsus= Persians but also about the Prthus=Parthians. The Vendidad, one of the important texts of the Avesta, refers to the Hafta Hindauas (The Seven Rivers -सप्त सिन्धव:) ( Vendidid I.19). The Pakthas referred to in Rgveda Samhita, VII. 18.5. can be easily recognised as Pakthuns or Pathans , who are as much Iranians as Indians. The different satrapies of the Achaemenian Emperor Darayawus (Darius II, 521 B. C. to 486 B C., included, according to his Inscriptions at Persipolis and Naks-i-Rustam, of Hindu, i, e , India (some portion of North-West India) and Gandhara. Kalidasa in a later age makes Raghu conquer the Parasikas (Raghuvamsa IV.60-65). We shall see later that it was when he came to the vicinity of India that Zarathustra could get a congenial atmosphere for his teachings. Though sun-worship was already well established in India from the earliest Vedic times, a special sun-cult was introduced here from Iran. The Bhavisya Purana (Brahma Parvan, chapters 139 and 140) tells us that Samba, son of Krsna, set up a Sun-temple on the bank of the river Candra- bhaga (Chenab) and placed in charge of Maga Brahmanas brought from Sakadvipa (Seistan), Their scriptures are also named there in a highly corrupt form due to defects in manuscript transmission, among which we can probably recognise the Visparad and the Vendidad (Ch. 140, verse 37). The place was MuItan. The Mithra cult that spread in different parts of the Western world through the Persian legionaries in the Roman army also penetrated into Eastern India and we ind ladies in Bengal performing Mitu Puja (also called Itu Puja) on Sundays in the solar month of Agrahyana. Mitu (Itu) is called Aditya (Sun) in one of the cult prayers.

There is, however, one important difference between the Vedic or later Hindu religion and Zoroastrianism. The Vedic religion or Hinduism is traditional No saint or prophet has started it. But Zoroastrianism starts with Zarathustra, its founder, like Jainism or Buddhism or later Sikhism in India or Christianity or Islam outside India.

Contents

1. Lecture I. Introduction 1-18
2. Lecture II. The Religious Refor 19-44
3. 45-51
4. 52-58
5. 59-62
Sample Pages





Zoroastrian Religion (A Rare Book)

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Preface

The present work consists of four lectures on Zoroastrian Religion that were delivered by the late Professor Kshetresachandra Chattopadhyaya at the Centre of Advanced Study in Philosophy, Banaras Hindu University during May, 1973. Professor Chattopadhyaya was a great Sanskrit scholar and was considered an authority on the Vedas. But he also possessed a wide range of interests which covered not only the different fields of Sanskrit learning but other disciplines as well. He developed a special interest in Zoroastrian Religion and devoted a good portion of his academic life, as he has himself mentioned in his introduction, to the study, teaching and interpretation of the Avesta and Ancient Persian Inscriptions. In this respect he enjoys a unique position among Hindu scholars. This small volume bears ample evidence of his profound scholarship in Avestan language and literature and Zoroastrian religion as a whole.

The author has called his lectures on Zoroastrian religion as complementary to a set of lectures that he delivered on Vedic Religion. There is a greater affinity, according to him, between Zoroastrian religion and Vedic religion than one finds between the three Semitic religions. The languages of the scriptures of the two religions also show remarkable correspondence. This fact makes a comparative study of Zoroastrian and Vedic religions a most interesting and fruitful enterprise. The author was possessed of a keen historical sense and has treated Zoroastrian religion in its proper historical perspective. He has devoted a considerable portion of his first lecture to determine the date of Zarathustra's birth by examining critically all the evidences and the records that are available from Zoroastrian tradition as well as foreign Sources". The second lecture deals with the Religious Reform introduced by Zarathustra in the old Iranian religion. Professor Chattopadhyaya here puts forward the view that Zarathustra's religion was monotheistic and his belief in Amesha Spentas does not coin promise his monotheism. He also contends that Zarathustra's system involves a moral dualism and not metaphysical dualism, SpentaMainyu and Angra Mainyu which represent the principles of good and evil respectively are both creations of Ahur Mazda and are not outside his powers. Ultimately there will be the victory of the good and evil will be defeated and vanquished. So it ill not legitimate to characterise the system of Zarathustra as dualistic in the metaphysical sense. But in spite of the monotheism of Zarathustra, polytheism reasserted itself among his followers in the form of belief in a large number of Yazatas. This the author has -clearly brought out in the third lecture entitled, the-Younger Avesta, The fourth lecture entitled, Rituals, describes the Yasna ceremony and other ceremonies, including sacramental rites, which constitute a most essential and integral part of Zoroastrian religion.

Some facts have to be mentioned here regarding the difficulties that we have faced in editing the present work. Unfortunately, due to his sudden death, Prof. Chattopadhyaya could not revise his manuscript. It could not also be typed during his life-time. At certain places in his manuscript, he has himself written'rough'. This fact has created a considerable difficulty in deciphering certain portions of the manuscript. We have also not been able to make a thorough checking of all the references during the short time at our disposal, as many of the works mentioned in the book were not available to us. Prof.Chattopadhyaya at certain places has given lengthy quotations in transliterated form from Avesta and these have been followed by their English renderings. Due to difficulties and limitations of the printing press, we felt constrained to drop the quotations in the original Avestan, and have retained only their English rendering. We are sorry for these unavoidable shortcomings and omissions.

In the beginning of the book we have given a Table showing the pattern of transcription followed herein.'We have also' given a bibliography at the end which contains the list of the books and journals which find mention in the book.

We hope the students of Comparative Religion and specially of Zoroastrianism will find this volume extremely important and useful for their further study and research. It should also stimulate the Hindu scholars to make a more intensive and thorough comparative study of Zoroastrian and Vedic religions.

We express our grateful thanks to the University Grants Commission for providing necessary grants for the publication of the books by this Department.

Introduction

After I delivered a set of lectures on Vedic Religion, I was asked by the Director of the Centre of Advanced Study in Philosophy to give you a set of lectures on Zoroastrian Religion. I joyfully accepted this new task because in a way these lectures would be complementary to those given earlier.

They will be complementary, because they will show how two neighbouring countries can show similarities in the deepest levels of culture. Religion is according to a well known verse in Sanskrit-, the factor that differentiates man from the rest of the animal world. Zoroastrian religion shows greater affinity with Vedic religion, than the three great semitic religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam, show, among themselves. Not only do the two religions show similarity, the languages of their sacred scriptures also show remarkable correspondence. It is usual to say that by the application of a few phonetic laws it is easy to convert an early Avestic passage (a text of Zarathustra's Gathas) into Vedic Sanskrit and vice versa 2. This is, however, an over-statement. The language of Zarathustra's own writings, the Gathas, shows affinities not only with that of the Vedas, but also with classical Sanskrit and even Prakrits and, even greater affinity with the Ancient Persian Inscriptions of the Achaemenian kings of the 'fifth and fourth centuries before Christ.

There is also a personal reason for my gladly accepting the task now assigned to me. It is that a good portion of my academic life has been spent in the study, teaching and interpretation of the Avesta and Ancient Persian Inscriptions. My first love, formed from early boyhood, was besides linguistics, the study of the Vedas. When an undergraduate student at Allahabad I chanced to read in the Allahabad Public Library a set of five lectures on the Indo-European Language by Professor C. M. Mulvany of the Queen's College of Benares in which he "had pointed out the similarity between the languages of the Veda -and the Avesta. This roused my interest in the subject. I read in the Bengali Magazine, Pravasi, two articles by the late Mahsmahopadhyaya Pandita Vidhushekhar Bhattacharya on the Haoma Yast (Yasna lX of the Avesta), giving the text in Bengali transliteration, a Sanskrit translation and a rendering into Bengali. My appetite was whetted by this and I was seeking -an opportunity for learning the language, though I was pre- -occupied with other studies. That opportunity came when I met the late Dr. Irach Jahangir Surabji Taraporewala the then 'Professor of Comparative Philosophy in the University of Calcutta, 'first at Rangpur ( now in Bangladesh) and then in Calcutta and l: seriously started its study from his Selections from the Avesta; then in course of publication from the Calcutta University Press. A later helper was the late Shams-ul-Ulema Dr. Sir Jivanji Jamshedji Modi of Bombay. I pay my Sraddhanjali to these three teachers of mine before coming to the subject proper of my lectures.

The similarities I referred to between the two religions are not only due to common heritage but also caused by the contiguity of the two countries, India and Iran and a free movement of the peoples of the two countries, a point which is often overlooked in these studies. India has never remained cut off from the rest of the world, whatever Rudyard Kipling may have said Panini, the ancient grammarian of the Sanskrit language, knew of the Parsus as a warlike tribe (V. 3.117) and there are several references to them in the Vedic literature, Several Vedic Scholars have said that the Vedas not only knew about the Parsus= Persians but also about the Prthus=Parthians. The Vendidad, one of the important texts of the Avesta, refers to the Hafta Hindauas (The Seven Rivers -सप्त सिन्धव:) ( Vendidid I.19). The Pakthas referred to in Rgveda Samhita, VII. 18.5. can be easily recognised as Pakthuns or Pathans , who are as much Iranians as Indians. The different satrapies of the Achaemenian Emperor Darayawus (Darius II, 521 B. C. to 486 B C., included, according to his Inscriptions at Persipolis and Naks-i-Rustam, of Hindu, i, e , India (some portion of North-West India) and Gandhara. Kalidasa in a later age makes Raghu conquer the Parasikas (Raghuvamsa IV.60-65). We shall see later that it was when he came to the vicinity of India that Zarathustra could get a congenial atmosphere for his teachings. Though sun-worship was already well established in India from the earliest Vedic times, a special sun-cult was introduced here from Iran. The Bhavisya Purana (Brahma Parvan, chapters 139 and 140) tells us that Samba, son of Krsna, set up a Sun-temple on the bank of the river Candra- bhaga (Chenab) and placed in charge of Maga Brahmanas brought from Sakadvipa (Seistan), Their scriptures are also named there in a highly corrupt form due to defects in manuscript transmission, among which we can probably recognise the Visparad and the Vendidad (Ch. 140, verse 37). The place was MuItan. The Mithra cult that spread in different parts of the Western world through the Persian legionaries in the Roman army also penetrated into Eastern India and we ind ladies in Bengal performing Mitu Puja (also called Itu Puja) on Sundays in the solar month of Agrahyana. Mitu (Itu) is called Aditya (Sun) in one of the cult prayers.

There is, however, one important difference between the Vedic or later Hindu religion and Zoroastrianism. The Vedic religion or Hinduism is traditional No saint or prophet has started it. But Zoroastrianism starts with Zarathustra, its founder, like Jainism or Buddhism or later Sikhism in India or Christianity or Islam outside India.

Contents

1. Lecture I. Introduction 1-18
2. Lecture II. The Religious Refor 19-44
3. 45-51
4. 52-58
5. 59-62
Sample Pages





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