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The Spirit of Zoroastrianism

The Spirit of Zoroastrianism

Introduced, translated, and edited by PRODS OKTOR SKJÆRVØ
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 280
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1npwt0
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  • Book Info
    The Spirit of Zoroastrianism
    Book Description:

    Zoroastrianism is one of the world's oldest religions, though it is not among the best understood. Originating with Iranian tribes living in Central Asia in the second millennium BCE, Zoroastrianism was the official religion of the Iranian empires until Islam superseded it in the seventh century AD. Centered on the worship of Ahura Mazda, the All-knowing Ruler, Zoroastrianism follows the practices and rituals set out by the prophet Zarathustra, according to the indigenous tradition.

    As one of the world's great religions, Zoroastrianism has a heritage rich in texts and cultic practices. The texts are often markedly difficult to translate, but in this volume, Prods Oktor Skjærvø, professor of ancient Iranian languages and culture at Harvard, provides modern and accurate translations of Zoroastrian texts that have been selected to provide an overview of Zoroastrian beliefs and practices. In a comprehensive introduction to these sacred texts, Skjærvø outlines the history and essence of Zoroastrianism and discusses the major themes of this the first fully representative selection of Zoroastrian texts to be made available in English for over a century.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-18101-2
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-ix)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. x-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. xi-xi)
  5. EDITORIAL NOTE
    (pp. xii-xii)
  6. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-38)

    Zoroastrianism, one of the oldest world religions, originated in the second millennium BCE among Iranian tribes in Central Asia. Their religion is commonly called Zoroastrianism in the West, after the Greek form Zoroaster for Avestan Zarathushtra (here: Zarathustra), but also Mazdaism after Ahura Mazdā, their supreme god. Later, after they moved south onto the Iranian Plateau, this religion became that of three great Iranian empires, the Achaemenids (550–330 BCE), the Arsacids/Parthians (247 BCE–224 CE), and the Sasanians (224–650). No longer a state religion after the Arab conquest of Iran, it lost importance, but is still practiced in...

  7. CHAPTER ONE TEXTS ON THE HISTORY OF THE SACRED TRADITION
    (pp. 39-43)

    1 About the book of Dēnkard (Dēnkard III, 420)

    ² The writtenDēnkardis a section of what is manifest in the Mazdayasnian Tradition, which is adorned with the knowledge of all things.

    ³ Firstly, there are extracts from the good Tradition of the Teachers of Old, the first pupils of Zarathustra of the Spitāmas, who brought the Word containing the knowledge (dānishn) and awareness (āgāhīh) of all issues as manifested in the good Tradition and obtained by Zarathustra by asking and listening to Ohrmazd, like light from the original Light.

    ⁴ And it tells how that exalted ruler Kay-Wishtāsp commanded...

  8. CHAPTER TWO TEXTS ON CREATION AND THE DIVINE WORLD
    (pp. 44-112)

    3 Darius praises Ahuramazdā’s creation (DE)

    Ahuramazdā is the great god who set in place this earth, who set in place yonder sky, who set in place man, who set in place happiness for man, who made Dārayawahush king, one king over many, one commander over many.

    I am Dārayawahush, the great king, king of kings, king over lands of many kinds, king over this earth, son of Wishtāspa (Hystaspes), a descendant of Hakhāmanish (Achaemenes).

    4 From Yasna 37

    ¹In this manner, we are sacrificing to the All-knowing Lord, who, by his command, greatness, and artistries set in place the...

  9. CHAPTER THREE TEXTS ON MYTHICAL HISTORY
    (pp. 113-156)

    33 Yima (Yasht 9)

    ⁸Radiant Yima with good herds sacrificed to Druwāspā from high Mount Hukarya a hundred stallions, a thousand bulls, ten thousand rams, and also bringing a libation, saying:

    “Give me that prize, O good, strongest Druwāspā, that I may bring flocks of sheep and herds of cattle to Ahura Mazdā’s creatures and bring them non-destruction; that I may remove hunger and thirst, old age and death, heat and cold from Ahura Mazdā’s creatures for a thou¬sand autumns!”

    34 Yima (Yasht 19)

    ³¹The Fortune followed splendid Yima with good herds for quite a long time thereafter, so that...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR TEXTS ON ESCHATOLOGY AND THE END OF THE WORLD
    (pp. 157-174)

    63 The eschatological agents (Yasht 13)

    ⁶¹We sacrifice to the good strong life-giving pre-souls of the sustainers of Order, who watch over yonder body, that of Kersāspa son of Sāma, the curly-haired mace-bearer, nine and ninety thousand nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine [cf. 47:10].

    ⁶²We sacrifice to the … pre-souls of the sustainers of Order, who watch over yonder semen, that of Righteous Zarathustra of the Spitāmas, nine and ninety … [cf. 65:61].

    ⁹⁷We sacrifice to the pre-soul of Saēna, sustainer of Order, son of Ahum-stut (= he who praised the new existence), who was the first to stand...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE TEXTS ON BODY AND SOUL
    (pp. 175-179)

    72 From Yasna 55

    ¹All our beings (gaēthā), bodies, bones and life breaths (ushtāna), forms (kerp) and tissue strengths (tawishī), consciousness (baodah), and breath-soul (urwan) and pre-soul (frawashi) we place all around and make them known. Thus we make them known to the life-givingGāthās, sustainers of Order, whose command is according to the models.

    ²TheGāthās, which are our guardians and protectors and food in the world of thought, which are for our breath-soul both food and clothing, they are for us the guardians and protectors and food in the world of thought, those are for our breath-soul both...

  12. CHAPTER SIX TEXTS ON DEATH, REWARDS, AND PUNISHMENT
    (pp. 180-190)

    82 From Videvdad 19

    ²⁷Zarathustra asked Ahura Mazdā: “O you who established the world of the living with bones, O sustainer of Order! Where will those gifts be, where will they come together and be counted, which a mortal man gives away in this world with bones for the sake of his soul (urwan)?”

    ²⁸Then Ahura Mazdā said to Zarathustra: “After a man is departed and has passed on, demons possessed by the Lie and giving bad gifts tear at the departed.

    “As it becomes light after the third night, as the brilliant dawn lights up, well-armed Mithra ascends the...

  13. CHAPTER SEVEN TEXTS ON ETHICS
    (pp. 191-213)

    90 On the Heavenly Girdle (Yasna 9)

    ²⁶Mazdā brought you, O Haoma, the girdle with knots, star-adorned, fashioned in the world of thought, the good Mazdayasnian Daēnā [cf. 101:15]. With that you are girded on the heights of the mountains, (enabling you) to hold the reins and chariot-handles of the Life-giving Word.

    91 Darius’s Testament II: Tomb of Darius at Naqsh-e Rostam (DNb)

    ¹ = [76:1]

    ²King Darius announces: By Ahuramazdā’s greatness, I am such that I favor what is straight/true, not what is devious. It is not my wish that a poor man should be wronged on account of...

  14. CHAPTER EIGHT RITUAL TEXTS
    (pp. 214-227)

    102 Yasna 33: Prayers

    ¹¹You, who have the greatest life-giving strength, who are Lord and All-knowing, and you who are Humility and you who are Order, which furthers the herds, listen, all of you, to my good thought and command! Be merciful in return for my every presentation!

    ¹²Rise up before me now, O Lord (Fire)! Through Humility (the earth) receive strength! By your most life-giving spirit, O All-knowing one, receive quickness by my good presentation, forceful violent power by the Order (of my ritual), creative power (?) by my good thought.

    ¹³You shall show me now, as support for...

  15. CHAPTER NINE TEXTS ON KINGSHIP
    (pp. 228-234)

    119 From Darius’s inscription at Bisotun (DB)

    ¹I am Dārayavahush, the great king, king of kings, king in Pārsa, king over the lands, the son of Wishtāspa, the grandson of Ershāma (Arsames), a descendent of Hakhāmanish.

    ⁷King Dārayavahush announces: These are the lands that came to me by Ahuramazdā’s greatness. They were my bondsmen. They brought me tribute. Whatever was announced to them from me, that they would do.

    ⁸King Dārayavahush announces: In these lands, any man who was outstanding, him I treated well. Whoever sided with the Evil One, him I punished well. By Ahuramazdā’s greatness, these lands behaved...

  16. CHAPTER TEN TEXTS ON DOCTRINAL ISSUES
    (pp. 235-258)

    127 The standard order of the ritual models (Yasna 6)

    ¹We sacrifice to Ahura Mazdā, who has set (all things) in their places.

    We sacrifice to the Life-giving Immortals, who bestow good command and give good gifts.

    ²We sacrifice to the daily models of Order, sustainers of Order.

    We sacrifice to the Haoma-pressing Hour, sustainer of Order, a model of Order.

    We sacrifice to the Hour of Life-giving Strength, sustainer of Order, and the (Protector) of the House, a model of Order.

    128 An earlier order (Yasna 71)

    ¹Frashaoshtra, sustainer of Order, asked Zarathustra, sustainer of Order:

    Answer me about...

  17. SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 259-260)
  18. LIST OF TEXTS TRANSLATED
    (pp. 261-262)
  19. GLOSSARY
    (pp. 263-270)