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AVESTA


154


AVESTA


iiians stormed Balkh. This account of the prophet's death is given, at least, by Firdausl.

Ihider the kings of the Achaemenian line the religion founded by Zoroaster became one of the great religions of the ancient East. But it shared the fate of the Persian monarchy; it was shattered, though not overthrown, by the conquest of Alex- ander and fell consequently into neglect under the Seleucid and Parthian dj'uasties. With the ac- cession of the Sassanian dynasty it met with a great revival. The kings of the house of Sassan were zealous believers and did everything in their power to spread the faith as a national creed, so that its prosperity rose again to the zenith. Sectarian movements, to be sure, were not lacking. The heresy of Mazdak for a moment imperilled the union of the Zoroastrian Church and State, and Manichaeism, that menace of early Christian ortho- doxy, also threatened the ascendancy of the Iranian national faith, which was really its parent. These dangers, however, were only temporary and of minor importance as compared with the Arab conquest, which followed in the seventh century (651) and dealt the fatal blow from which Zoroas- trianism never recovered. The victorious followers of Mohammed carried on their proselytizing cam- paign with relentless vigour. The few Zoroastrians who stood firmly by their faith were oppressed and persecuted. Some remained, and were scattered throughout their native land; but the majority took refuge in India, where their descendants, the Parsees, are found even at the present day. About 10,000 are here and there throughout Persia, chiefly at Yazd and Kirman, but the bulk of the Zoroas- trians, upwards of 90,000 souls, constitute a pros- perous community in India, chiefly at Bombay.

The standard edition of the Ave-sta texts is that of Geldner (Stuttgart, 1885-96). A French tr. by D.irmesteter ap- peared in the A/males du musee Guimet (Paris, 1S92-93), XXI. XXII, XXIV, and an EngUsh tr. by Darmesteter .\nd Mills in The Sacred Books of the East, ed. M.ix Mulleh (Oxford, 1883-87), IV, XXIII, XXXI. Another French tr. was made by DE Harlez (2 ed.. Paris, 1881). — The Pahlavi texts have been translated by West, in The Sacred Books of the East, V, XVIII. XXXVII, XLVII. — A good grammar for a study of the Avestan language is that of Jackson (Stuttgart, 1892); an excellent dictionary that of Bartholgm.*:, Altiranisches ]Vdrterbuch (Strasburg, 1904). — For information on all topics relating to the language and literature of Iran the articles in the Grundriss der iranischen Philologie, ed. Geiger and KtJHN (Strasburg, 1896-1902) should be consillted; on the Avesta, the article of (5eldner. Windischmann, Zoroastrische Studien (ed. Spiegel, Berlin, 1863); Jackson, Zoroaster, the Prophet of Ancient Iran (New York, 1899).

A. F. J. Remt.

Avesta, The, Theological Aspects of. —

I. God. — The name of the Supreme God of the Avestic system is Ahura Mazda (in the Achxmenid royal inscriptions, Auramazda), which probably sig- nifies the All-Wise Lord. This divine name was later modified into the Pahlavi form .4 uharnmzd, the modern Persian Ormuzd (Greek 'fipoftifijs). Hence the name of Mazdcism commonly applied to the Avestic religion. Ahura Mazda is a pure spirit; His chief attributes are eternity, wisdom, truth, goodness, majesty, power. He is the Creator (datar) of all good creatures — not, however, of Evil, or evil beings. He is the supreme Lawgiver, the Rewarder of moral good, and the Punisher of moral evil. He dwells in Eternal Ijight; in the later literature light is spoken of as the clothing of Ahura Mazda or even His "body", i. e. a kind of manifestation of His presence, like the Old Testament n^SG'. In this same patristic (Pahlavi) literature we find frequent enumerations of the attributes of Aliura Mazda; tluis these are said to be "omniscience, omnipotence, all-sovereignty, all- goodness". Again He is styled "Supreme Sovereign, Wise Creator, Supporter, Protector, Giver of good things. Virtuous in act. Merciful, Pure Lawgiver, Lord of the good Creations".

II. Du.ALLS.M. — It has been remarked above that


Ahura Mazda is the Creator of all good creatures. This at once indicates the specific and characteristic feature of the Avestic theology generally known as "dual- ism". The great problem of the origin of evil, which has ever been the main stumbling-block of religious systems, was solved in the Zoroastrian Re- form by the trenchant, if illogical, device of two separate creators and creations: one good, the other evil. Opposed to Aliura Mazda, or Ormuzd, is His rival, Anro Mainyus (later, Aharman, Ahriman), the EvU Spirit. He is conceived as existing quite inde- pendently of Ahura Mazda, apparently from eternitj', but destined to destruction at the end of time. E\il by nature and in every detail the exact opposite of Ahura Mazda, he is the creator of all evil, both moral and physical. Zoroaster in the Gathas says (Ys., xlv, 2, Jackson's translation): —

Now shall I preach of the World's two primal Spirits, The Holier one of which did thus address the Evil: Neither do our minds, our teachings, nor our con- cepts. Nor our beliefs, nor words, nor do our deeds in sooth, Nor yet our consciences, nor souls agree in aught. It is here to be remarked that the specific name of Ahura Mazda in opposition to the Evil Spirit is Spetito Maint/us, the Holy Spirit, and Ahura Mazda and Spento ilainyus are used as synonyms throughout the Avesta. The obviously illogical doctrine of two separate and supreme creators eventually led to cer- tain philosophical attempts to reduce the double system to uniformity. One of these consisted in throwing back the Divine Unity to an anterior stage in which Zrvana Akarana, "illimitable time", be- comes the single, indifferent, primordial source from which both spirits proceed. Another solution ■\\as sought in attributing two spirits (faculties or func- tions) to Ahura Mazda himself, his Spento Mainyus, and his AAro Mainyus, or his creative and destructi\e spirit — an idea probably borrowed from Indian philosophy. This seems the favourite doctrine of the modern Parsees of Bombay, as may be seen in Mr. Navroji Maneckji Kanga's article in the " Babylonian and Oriental Record" for May, 1900 (VIII, 224-28), and it is claimed to be strictly founded on the teaching of the Gathas; but, although such a development of thought was inevitable in the necessary attempt to reconcile a real monotheism with the Zoroastrian dualism, these theories cannot really be called Avestic at all, except in so far a.s Zrvana Akarana is an Avestic term. They are " patristic ' ' or "scholastic ' '. The result of the dualistic conception of the uni- verse is that of a continuous great warfare that has been going on even from the beginning between two hostile worlds or camps. All creatures belong to one or another of these camps, not only sentient and in- telligent beings, like the spirits and man, but also the animal and even the vegetable worlds. All danger- ous, noxious, poisonous animals and plants are evil by their very creation and nature. [We see here the primal germ of Manicha?ism. Mani was a heretic of the Mazdean faith (a. d. 258). This "heresy" is often reprobated in the Pahlavi religious books, together with Judaism and Christianity.] Hence— in sharp contrast to the Hindu ahimsa, a characteris- tic tenet of Buddhism, which prohibits the killing of any creature, even the smallest and most noxious insect — to kill as many as possible of the Khrafstras, or noxious creatures of the Evil Spirit (such as wolves, serpents, snakes, locusts, intestinal w'orms, ants), is one of the most meritorious of religious actions. This great warfare, both spiritual and material, will go on to the end of time. It is to end in a final triumph of the Good and the annihilation (apparently) of Evil, including Ailro Mainyus himself. Such at least is the teaching in the later "patristic" literature.

HI. A.N'GELOLOGY. — Dualism in its widest seuse