Avesta Sentence Examples
The earlier conception of Varuna is singularly similar to that of Ahuramazda of the Avesta.
The Avesta is, indeed, our principal source for the doctrine of Zoroaster; on the subject of his person and his life it is comparatively reticent; with regard to his date it is, naturally enough, absolutely silent.
Darmesteter has failed to realize sufficiently the distinction between the Zoroaster of the later Avesta and the Zoroaster of the Gathas.
It cannot be denied that in the later Avesta, and still more in writings of more recent date, he is presented in a legendary light and endowed with superhuman powers.
The Gathas alone within the Avesta make claim to be the ipsissima verba of the prophet; in the rest of that work they are put into Zoroaster's own mouth (Yasna, 9, 1) and are expressly called "the Gathas of the holy Zoroaster" (Yasna, 57, 8).Advertisement
They are the last genuine survivals of the doctrinal discourses with which - as the promulgator of a new religion - he appeared at the court of King Vishtaspa The person of the Zoroaster whom we meet with in these hymns differs lobo coelo from the Zoroaster of the younger Avesta.
According to the Avesta (Yasna, 9, 17),, Airyanem Vaejo, on the river Daitya, the old sacred country of the gods, was the home of Zoroaster, and the scene of his.
Already in the later Avesta he has become a half-mythical figure, the last in the series of heroes of east Iranian legend, in the arrangement of which series priestly influence is unmistakably evident.
His death is, for reasons easily intelligible, nowhere mentioned in the Avesta; in the Shah-Nama he is said to have been murdered at the altar by the Turanians in the storming of Balkh.
The most striking difference between Zoroaster's doctrine of God and the old religion of India lies in this, that while in the Avesta the evil spirits are called daeva (Modern Persian div), the Aryans of India, in common with the Italians, Celts and Letts, gave the name of deva to their good spirits, the spirits of light.Advertisement
Thus, in the later Avesta, we find not only Mithra but also purely popular divinities such as the angel of victory, Verethraghna, Anahita (Anaitis), the goddess of the water, Tishrya (Sirius), and other heavenly bodies, invoked with special preference.
In the Avesta, after the separation of the Iranian stock from the Hindu and the rise of Zoroastrianism, which elevated Ormazd to the summit of the Persian theological system, his role was more distinct, though less important; between Ormazd, who reigned in eternal brightness, and Ahriman, whose realm was eternal darkness, he occupied an intermediate position as the greatest of the yazatas, beings created by Ormazd to aid in the destruction of evil and the administration of the world.
The demons carry on conflicts with each of the six classes of creation, namely, the sky, water, earth, plants, animals represented by the primeval ox, and mankind represented by Gayomard or Kayumarth (the "first man "of the Avesta).
It is impossible to enter into the manifold details of the fire cultus which forms the main part of the worship in the Avesta.
It may be noted that in all the ceremonies in the religion of the Avesta, incantations, prayers and confessions play a very large part.Advertisement
Here we recognize a technical term of the Avesta - namely, the "Frasho-kereti," that is the reanimation of the world or resurrection of the dead (Darmesteter, op. cit., p. 239).
In the Avesta Sraosha is the angel that guards the world at night from demons, and is styled "the righteous" or "the strong."
Just as the background of Christianity was formed by the Hebrew scriptures, and just as the Hebrew legends of the creation became the basis of its scheme of human redemption from evil, so the Avesta, with its quaint cosmogony and myths, formed the background of Mani's new faith.
In both the Rig Veda and Zend Avesta soma is the king of plants; in both it is a medicine which gives health, long life and removes death.
As an expression of the Iranian mind we have the Avesta and the Pehlevi theological literature.Advertisement
Unfortunately in a question of this kind the dating of our documents is the first matter of importance, and it seems that we can only assign dates to the different parts of the Avesta by processes of finedrawn conjecture.
And even if we could date the Avesta securely, we could only prove borrowing by more or less close coincidences of idea, a tempting but uncertain method of inquiry.
As there can be scarcely any doubt that it was in these regions, where the fertile soil of the mountainous country is everywhere surrounded and limited by the Turanian desert, that the prophet Zoroaster preached and gained his first adherents, and that his religion spread from here over the western parts of Iran, the sacred language in which the Avesta, the holy book of Zoroastrianism, is written, has often been called "old Bactrian."
The Iranian tradition, preserved in the Avesta and in Firdousi's Shahnama, localizes a part of its heroes and myths in the east of Iran, and has transformed the old gods who fight with the great snake into kings of Iran who fight with the Turanians.
The fravashi or ideal type, the genius of both men and gods in the Zend Avesta (possibly connected originally with the cultus of the dead "), rises in successive ranks from the worshipper's own person through the household, the village, the district and the province, up to the throne of Ahura himself.'Advertisement
Nor were the authors of the scriptures whose fragments are preserved in the Zend Avesta less conscious of their divine value.
Though found neither in the inscriptions of Darius nor in the Greek authors, the name Turan must nevertheless be of great antiquity; for not merely is it repeatedly found in the Avesta, under the form Tura, but it occurs already in a hymn, which, without doubt, originates from Zoroaster himself, and in which the Turanian Fryana and his descendants are commemorated as faithful adherents of the prophet (Yasna, 46, 62).
This is the Avesta, the Bible of the modern Parsee, which comprises the revelation of Zoroaster.
Its contents, even if they go back to lost parts of the Avesta, are merely a late patch- oroas Cf work, based on the legendary tradition and devoid of historica foundation.
The west of Iran is scarcely ever regarded in the Avesta, while the districts and rivers of the east are often named.
The possibility that Zoroaster himself was not a native of East Iran,but had immigrated thither (from Rhagae?), is of course always to be considered; and this theory has been used to explain the phenomenon that the Gathas, of his own composition, are written in a different dialect from the rest of the Avesta.
In the Avesta all these recur ad nauseam, so much so that the primitive spirit of the religion is stifled beneath them, as the doctrine of the ancient prophets was stifled in Judaism and the Talmud.
At all events, they play here not merely the role of the Fire-kindlers (aihravan) in the Avesta, but are become an hereditary sacerdotal caste, acting an important part in the stateadvisers and spiritual guides to the king, and so forth.
The later Parsee tradition contends that Alexander burned the sacred books of Zoroaster, the Avesta, and that only a few fragments were saved and afterwards reconstructed by the Arsacids and Sassanids.
Thus arose the Avesta, the sacred book of the Parsees.
The age of Zend must be examined in connection with the age of the Avesta.
In its present form the Avesta is not the work of a single author or of any one age, but embraces collections produced during a long period.
These songs form the true kernel of the book Yasna; they must have been in existence long before all the other parts of the Avesta, throughout the whole of which allusions to them occur.
These gthas are what they claim to be, and what they are honored in the whole Avesta as beingthe actual productions of the prophet himself or of his time.
If, then, the gathas reach back to the time of Zoroaster, and he himself, according to the most probable estimate, lived as early as the 14th century B.C., the oldest component parts of the Avesta are hardly inferior in age to the oldest Vedic hymns.
The language of the other parts of the Avesta is more modern, it not all of one date, so that we can follow the gradual decline Z Zend in the Avesta itself.
For is reason all that time had spared of the Avesta was translated to Middle Persian or PARLAVI (q.v.) under the Sassanians.
Text and translation are often spoken of together in Pahlavi books as Avistak va Zand (" Avesta and Zend "), whence - through a misunderstanding - our word Zend-Avesta.
The origin and meaning of the word " Avesta " (or in its older form, Avistak) are alike obscure; it cannot be traced further back than the Sasanian period.
The language of the Avesta is still frequently called Zend; but, as already implied, this is a mistake.
We possess no other document written in it, and on this account modern Parsee scholars, as well as the older Pahlavi books, speak of the language and writing indifferently as Avesta.
Although the Avesta is a work of but moderate compass (comparable, say, to the Iliad and Odyssey taken together), there nevertheless exists no single MS. which gives it in entirety.
As we now have it, the Avesta consists of five parts - the Yasna, the Vispered, the Vendidad, the Yashts, and the Khordah Avesta.
The Yasna, Vispered and Vendidad together constitute the Avesta in the stricter sense of the word, and the reading of them appertains to the priest alone.
In its present form, however, the Avesta is only a fragmentary remnant of the old priestly literature of Zoroastrianism, a fact confessed by the learned tradition of the Parsees themselves, according to which the number of Yashts was originally thirty.
The truth is that we possess but a trifling portion of a very much larger Avesta, if we are to believe native tradition, carrying us back to the Sassanian period, which tells of a larger Avesta in twenty-one books called nasks or nosks, as to the names of which we have several more or less detailed accounts, particularly in the Pahlavi Dinkard (9th century A.D.) and in the Rivayats.
From the same sources we learn that this larger Avesta was only a part of a yet more extensive original Avesta, which is said to have existed before Alexander.
But even of the remains of the Avesta, as these lay before the author of the 9th century, only a small residue has survived to our time.
In the Khordah Avesta, as we now have it, we find two Srosh Yashts; with regard to the first, it is expressly stated in old MSS.
Lastly, the numerous other fragments, the quotations in the Pahlavi translation, the many references in the Bundahish to passages of this Avesta not now known to us, all presuppose the existence in the Sassanian period of a much more extensive Avesta literature than the mere prayer-book now in our hands.
The existence of a larger Avesta, even as late as the 9th century A.D., is far from being a mere myth.
But, even granting that a certain obscurity still hangs undispelled over the problem of the old Avesta, with its twenty-one nasks, we may well believe the Parsees themselves, when they affirm that their sacred literature has passed through successive stages of decay, the last of which is represented by the present Avesta.
In fact we can clearly trace this gradual process of decay in certain portions of the Avesta during the last few centuries.'
According to the Arda-Viraf--Nama the religion revealed through Zoroaster has subsisted in its purity for 300 years, when Iskander Rumi (Alexander the Great) invaded and devastated Iran, and burned the Avesta which, written on cowhides with golden ink, was preserved in the archives at Persepolis.
As to this re-collection and redaction of the Avesta the Dinkard gives various details.
The first of the Sassanian kings, Ardashir Babagan (226-240), caused his high-priest, Tanvasar, to bring together the dispersed portions of the holy book, and to compile from these a new Avesta, which, as far as possible, should be a faithful reproduction of the original.
Even the statement as to the one or two complete copies of the Avesta may be given up as the invention of a later day.
In its outward form the Avesta, as we now have it, belongs to the Sassanian period - the last survival of the compilers' work already alluded to.
All the grammatically correct texts, together with those portions of the Avesta which have intrinsic worth, especially the metrical passages, are indubitably authentic and taken ad verbum from the original Avesta.
But to search for a precise time or an exact locality is to deal with the question too narrowly; it is more correct to say that the Avesta was worked at from the time of Zoroaster down to the Sassanian period.
The rest of the Avesta, in spite of the opposite opinion of orthodox Parsees, does not even claim to come from Zoroaster.
Thus we search vainly in the Avesta itself for any precise data to determine the period of its composition or the place where it arose.
The original country of the religion, and the seat of the Avesta language, .ought perhaps to be sought rather in the east of Iran (Seistan and the neighbouring districts).
The geography of the Avesta points both to the east and the west, particularly the north-west of Iran, but with a decided tendency to gravitate towards the east.
The language of the Avesta travelled with the Zoroastrian religion and with the main body of the priesthood, in all probability, that is to say, from east to west; within the limits of Iran it became international.
As has been already stated, the Avesta now in our hands is but a small portion of the book as restored and edited under the Sassanians.
The understanding of the older Avesta texts began to die away at an early period.
The first European scholar to direct attention to the Avesta was Hyde of Oxford, in his Historia Religionis Veterum Persarum eoramque Magorum (1700), which, however, failed to awake any lasting interest in the sacred writings of the Parsees.
The interpretation of the Avesta is one of the most difficult problems of oriental philology.
Opinion is divided also as to the significance of the Avesta in the literature of the world.
As a whole, the Avesta, for profundity of thought and beauty, stands on a lower level than the Old Testament.
But as a religious book - the most important document of the Zoroastrian faith, and the sole literary monument of ancient Iran - the Avesta occupies a prominent position in the literature of the world.
In the Avesta, airya- is found both as adjective and substantive in the sense of Aryan, but no light is thrown upon the history of the word.
In the Avesta the derivative airyana- is also found in the sense of Aryan.
In the Avesta he is called the twin-brother of the Holy Spirits, and contrasted either with the Holy Spirit of Ormazd or with Ormazd himself.
She is depicted as a great builder, a kind of Persian Semiramis, and is a half-mythical personage already mentioned in the Avesta, but her legend seems to be founded on the history of Atossa and of Parysatis.
In 1875 he published a thesis on the mythology of the Zend Avesta, and in 1877 became teacher of Zend at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes.
He followed up his researches with his Etudes iraniennes (1883), and ten years later published a complete translation of the Zend Avesta, with historical and philological commentary (3 vols., 1892-1893), in the Annales du musee Guimet.
He also edited the Zend Avesta for Max Miller's Sacred Books of the East.
According to Darmesteter, the Zarathustra of the Avesta is a mere myth, a divinity invested with human attributes, an incarnation of the storm-god, who with his divine word, the thunder, comes and smites the demons.
Our Zend-Avesta does not mean the Avesta in the Zend language, but is an incorrect transcription of the original expression Avistgk Va zand, i.e.