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Shikand-gumanig Vizar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Shikand-gumanig Vizar[pronunciation?] (also called Shikand-gumanik Vichar and abbreviated as SGV) is a Zoroastrian theology book of 9th century Iran, written by Mardan-Farrukh. Part apologetics, part polemic, the book was composed when Zoroastrians endured a perilous status as a harassed and declining minority. Its author discusses several neighboring religions, hence it contains nascent elements of an academic discipline: comparative religion. This article includes a description and analysis of the text, and also briefly addresses its context and relevance, with respect to other religions and to the continuing traditions of Zoroastrianism.

The Author

What little is known of the person Mardan-Farrukh (Martānfarrux-i Ohrmazddātān) comes to us through the pages of his book, written in Middle Iranian using the Pahlavi script. Its title Shkand-Gumanik Vichar has been rendered Analytical Treatise for the Dispelling of Doubts,[1] or Decisive Solution for Doubts.[2] A published text, as translated into English, runs 135 pages.[3][4][5][6]

The Muslim conquest of his native Persia was completed by 651 C.E.[7] Based on references made in his book to the then editions of other Zoroastrian works (e.g., the Dinkart), Mardan Farrukh has been dated to the 9th century. "[I]t is evident that he lived after the time of Roshan, son of Atur-frobag, son of Farukh-zad. ...Abalis, the Zandik, had a religious deputation with Atur-frobag, son of Farukh-zad, in the presence of the Kalifah Al-Mamun who reigned A.D. 813-833."[8]

Near the beginning of his book he states, "[T]his composition is provided by me, who am Mardan-farukh son of Auharmazd-dad." He goes on to say, "I have been fervent-mindedly, at all times in my whole youthful career, an enquirer and investigator of the truth." He declares, "The possession of the truth is the one power of the faithful, through the singleness of truth."[9]

"Now, as I have said above, I have always been earnestly anxious to know God and have been curious in searching out his religion and his will. In this spirit of inquiry I have traveled to foreign countries and (even) to India... for I did not choose my religion simply because I inherited it, but I wanted (only that religion) which was most firmly based on reason and evidence... ."[10][11]

Apparently Mardan-Farrukh the author was young, earnest, well-traveled and committed. He was ably acquainted with his own religion, both its writings and the views of its authorities; also he was conversant with other systems of belief. Among Zoroastrian authors of the Pahlavi period, Mardan-Farrux can best lay "claim to being considered a philosopher."[12] A practicing layman who drew on priestly Zoroastrian books in the Pahlavi, his work "is distinguished by its clarity of thought and orderly arrangement."[13] It creates a "rationalist and philosophic climate."[14][15]

His Book

The Shkand-gumanig Vizar of Mardan-Farrukh was written during an "intellectual renaissance of Zoroastrianism" which occurred "shortly before the rapid decline of Zoroastrianism, migrations to India, and conversions to Islam."[16] Several reasons may account for its occurrence:

"First, the times not only permitted but provoked such writings. Mu'tazilites, or Islamic free-thinkers, many of whom were Persians, had created an atmosphere of free debate and interest in philosophical and theological questions. ... Second, the Zoroastrians were losing ground and they passed from a militant defiance of Islam or the Arabs to an intellectual defensive. This may be seen in a number of apologetic works written at this time such as the Shkand Gumanik Vicar... .[17]

In the first half of his book, Mardan-Farrukh provides his version of the prevailing Zoroastrian response to issues of theodicy (chapters 1-4 and 7-10). As he sees it, the acute moral quandary is how and why a wise and powerful God would create a world that seemingly has turned out so imperfect, which can at times appear merciless and cruel to creatures living in it.[18] He outlines what might be called a dualist ethical metaphysics and a cosmology. In his remaining pages, the author discusses critically other neighboring religions. He addresses (chapters 11 and 12) the doctrines of the Qur'an, and later those of the Bible, both the Hebrew scriptures (chapters 13 and 14), as well as the Gospels (chapter 15). Earlier materialists (atheists or sophists) had been discussed and dismissed (chapters 5 and 6). He concludes with an adverse review of the brand of dualist theology particular to the Manichees (chapter 16).[19] In a limited sense his work might be described as a nascent, adumbrated forerunner of comparative religion studies with the understanding, of course, that it is rendered from the view point of a 9th-century Zoroastrian.[20][21]

R. C. Zaehner gives this description of Mardan-Farrukh's Shkand-Gumänïg Vichär:

This is in some ways the most interesting of all the Zoroastrian books since it presents a philosophical justification of Zoroastrian dualism in a more or less coherent form; and it further contains a detailed critique of the monotheistic creeds, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity as well as an attack on Zoroastrianism's dualistic rival, Manichaeanism."[1]

The Škand-gumanik Vičār was translated first into Sanskrit c. 1100, for the benefit of the Parsis (the Zoroastrians of India).[22][23] Modernly, the book has been translated into several European languages.[24]

The text

Good vs evil

Regarding issues of theodicy Mardan-Farrukh provides a summary of Zoroastrian doctrine. This view presents Ohrmazd, the Creator of the world, being opposed by and contested by the satanic Ahriman. The author justifies this belief by pointing to the universal presence of good vis-à-vis bad everywhere in the world, e.g., "darkness and light, knowledge and ignorance, perfume and stench, life and death, sickness and health, justice and disorder, slavery and freedom... visible in every country and land at all times." These distinct opposites are not of function, like that of the male and female, sun and moon, but rather are of the essence. "For where there is good there cannot possibly be evil. Where light is admitted darkness is driven away." Thus the antagonistic pairing prevalent everywhere springs from the opposing natures of Ohrmazd and Ahriman. "The material world is the effect of the spiritual, and the spiritual is its cause."[25][26]

Accordingly, the wise and powerful Ohrmazd is not the maker of the evil that blights creation.[27][28][29] "There is one dogma on which [Mardan-Farrukh] firmly takes his stand: God is good."[30][31] Rather the Zoroastrians teach that it is his antagonist Ahriman who has corrupted the creation.[32][33] The late Zoroastrian Dastur, Maneckji Nusservanji Dhalla, writes:

"The author of the Shikand Gumanik Vijar, who is himself a dualist of the most pronounced kind, strongly urges in his polemics against other religions that good and evil can on no account have originated from one and the same source. Evil is considered to have as independent and complete existence as good; they are both primeval. They are so entirely separate from each other that neither good originates from evil, nor evil from good. Each one of them exists by itself, and entertains perpetual antagonism towards the other."[34]

Mardan-Farrukh observes that if Ohrmazd and Ahriman had created the world together or in cooperation, then Ohrmazd would be "an accomplice and confederate with Ahriman in the harm and evil which ever arise."[35][36]

Prior to creation Ohrmazd exists "fully complete in his own self", such that "his perfection consists in his having no need for any advantage or increase" from the outside. Hence when he created the world it was not to obtain "any advantage or aggrandizement". Yet Ohrmazd being "wise and sagacious" his actions "cannot be irrational or unmotivated". "We must conclude," continues Mardan-Farrukh, "that the reason and occasion" for the creation of the world was "to repel and ward off" his external adversary Ahriman and defeat the evil he intends; "this is the whole reason and occasion for the act of creation."[37][38][39]

Ohrmazd's strategy is that the good creation will act as a trap to capture Ahriman and neutralize his evil. Ahriman being aggressive, rash and ignorant (he "does not know the final outcome"), as against the thoughtful and prudent Ohrmazd, certainly the ultimate result will be the triumph of good; undoubtedly creation will be restored.[40][41] The entire cosmic process from the original creation by Ohrmazd and the attack by Ahriman, until the triumphant rehabilitation of physical goodness of creation, lasts twelve thousand years. Along with the Amesha Spenta, humankind plays a vital rôle in the defeat of Druj (the Lie) and victory of Asha (the Truth).[42][43]

Mardan-Farrukh notes, "The duty of the creature is to understand and perform the will of the creator, and to abstain from what is disliked by him." To do so "is to preserve the soul." The will of the creator is known through his religion. From its care "for the soul are manifested [its] grandeur" and value, and "the compassion and [mercy] of the sacred being."[44][45]


The author at the start announces his intention to find the truth, which brings an "inward dignity". Yet by the "thorough understanding of the truth" he means the "blessedness and truth of the good religion" first taught by Zarathustra. The author does follow up on this quest later in his book. At one point Mardan-Farrukh describes several specific approaches to discovering the true (the matter at issue being the existence of the "exalted sacred being"). "[A] knowledge of anything is acquired in three modes: by knowing what is inevitable, or by knowing what is analogous, or by what is possible and fit to exist." Later he adds the obvious: the direct tangibility of nature.[46]

An example of inevitable knowledge is "once one is one, and twice two is four" and within the inevitable it is not possible to say that sometime or someplace twice two will be five or three. Knowledge by analogy announces something invisible derived from the visible through similarity or resemblance, e.g., from the presence of a thing made one may infer the absent maker. Information about what is possible and fit to exist seems to rely on the trustworthiness and good character of the person testifying.[47] This attention to methods (logic, analogy and inference, testimony, and tangible evidence) demonstrates some respectful rigor and craft in persuasion.[48]


Mardan-Farrukh addresses "the assertors of the non-existence of a sacred being" or the atheists.[49] Some atheists are said to believe "that there is no reward for good works, no punishment of sin, no heaven and hell, and no stimulator of good works and crime. Besides this, that things are only worldly, and there is no spirit." Mardan-Farrukh responds "that to be made without a maker... is as impossible as to prepare what is written without a writer." As to "that there is no recompense of good works and punishment of crime" he responds that "no one whatever is seen that has come... from death back to life, and it is not possible to say so." Further, Mardan-Farrukh invokes what he calls in humankind "the manifestation of the maintenance of a hope for a supreme inspection over mankind, and indeed, over wild animals, birds, ad quadrupeds."[50]

The sophist may argue that no distinctions can be made, as honey is sweet, but "bitter to those abounding in bile" or that bread is both pleasant "to the hungry and unpleasant to the surfeited." Yet the wise say, 'Even this statement of you sophists, about the jaundiced nature of everything, is alike jaundiced, and there is no truth in it."[51]


As Muslim regimes ruled in the Iran of Mardan-Farrukh, he did not mention Islam by name in his critique.[52][53][54] Zoroastrians lived under increasing pressure at the time Mardan-Farrukh was writing:

"[L]ate in the ninth century the tide began to ebb swiftly for the Zoroastrians, with Islam now enjoying the full support of temporal power everywhere. It was then that the founding fathers of the Parsi community left their homeland to seek religious freedom in exile in India, and thereafter those who held by their ancient faith in Iran were steadily ground down into the position of a small, deprived, and harassed minority, lacking all privileges or consideration."[55]

As would be expected given his prior chapters on theodicy, he faults the type of monotheism practiced by Islam because it posits an all-powerful Deity who creates the world and apparently the evil in it, so that (as he puts it) "good works and crime, truth and falsehood, life and death, good and evil are owing to him."[56] Mardan-Farrukh alludes to passages in the Qur'an where it seems to say that the Deity may lead people astray.[57][58] Relentlessly from different points of view and using various illustrations, Mardan-Farrukh asks why the sacred being, with Divine wisdom and concern for the happiness of humankind, would have chosen freely to create the world as it is, a dangerous and contentious realm where evil exists and people suffer. That is, if "no opponent or adversary of his existed" then by reason the sacred being would be the only party responsible for the calamities endured by humankind.[59] Humans "with little knowledge and little wisdom... so far as they are able, do not let the lion and the wolf and other noxious creatures in among their own young ones... ." Yet then, "why has the merciful sacred being now let... the demons in upon his own... ?"[60] When he placed Adam in paradise, "why was not that garden made by him fortified and strong, so that that deluder [Satan] could not have gotten into it?"[61]


Mardan-Farrukh likewise brings his criticism of a type of monotheism to the Jewish texts.[62] Here, he challenges the creation story of the Bible. Of creation out of nothing in six days, he asks: if God needed only to command and it arises, "to what was that delay of six days owing? ...the existence of that delay of six days is very ill-seeming." Accordingly, because of the use of time, "it is not fitting to speak of his producing [the world] from nothing."[63][64] Continuing along these lines, Mardan-Farrukh says of the Biblical God, "It is manifest that he was not light," by inference from God's reaction to light following his creation of it. Mardan-Farrukh paraphrases from the Jewish Torah,[65] and concludes that regarding light God "considered it for the reason that he had not seen it before."[66] Not stated here is that the Zoroastrian creator God, Ohrmazd, is essentially associated with light.[67][68][69]

A narration in some detail he gives of the story of Adam and Eve in the garden and their expulsion from it.[70] Mardan-Farrukh notes that God made Adam and Eve and thus made their inclinations, and that God commanded them not to eat of a certain tree, yet nonetheless they disobeyed. For this reason, he observes of the Biblical God that his "will and command are inconsistent and unadapted, one to the other." Hence the Biblical God is "manifestly an opponent and adversary to his own will." Therefore, "to indulge in wrath about [Adam and Eve] is unreasonable."[71] Mardan-Farrukh also finds fault with this story in that the curse of God on Adam affects everyone, "reaches unlawfully over people of every kind at various periods."[72] In this vein, he states about the Biblical God, "This is what he says about his own nature, that is, 'I am the Lord, seeking vengeance, and retaliating vengeance, and I retaliate vengeance sevenfold upon the children, and one does not forget my original vengeance.'"[73] In unspoken contrast would be the Zoroastrian Ohrmazd, "a wise Being whose actions were held to be wholly just and accessible to reason."[74]


Mardan-Farrukh himself notes that his unfavorable remarks on the type of monotheism held by Judaism and by Islam would apply as well to Christianity.[75] During the prior Sasanid era (224–651), "non-Zoroastrians frequently occasioned heated polemics in which virulent criticism and derisive terms were exchanged between the Zoroastrian priests on the one side and the prelates of the rival faith on the other." In the case of Christianity, contention was not only religious, but military. "There was a state of perennial war between Sasanian Persia and Byzantine Rome, which had embraced Christianity."[76] A prime instance would be the border region of Armenia, which had included Zoroastrian believers since the Persian Achaemenid Empire (c. 550-330);[77] centuries later despite Sasanid pressure, Armenia converted to Christianity (after 300) and took the Byzantine side.[78] In general Zoroastrian arguments contra Christianity first developed in the strong and prosperous Sasanid Empire; however, following several centuries under Islam, Zoroastrian fortunes had declined drastically.[79]

Mardan-Farrukh first questions the virgin birth, concluding skeptically "the origin of their religion has all come forth from the testimony of a woman, which was given about her own condition."[80] He demonstrates a studied knowledge of the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation, although the premise of God taking the status of human being evokes no response, other than to call it "very strange".[81] About the crucifixion ("death and execution on a tree") and its "resurrection" message for humankind,[82][83] its 'brutality' and its "disgrace" offend Mardan-Farrukh. He questions why, from all the possible ways there are to signal human resurrection, God would want to choose to suffer such a death, if God is indeed omnipotent. If so, he asks why God did not make it "without doubt" and "clear knowledge" to humankind? Mardan-Farrukh continues, asking rhetorically if God chose such a death "through the will of his enemies" why does he curse them? Should they not be rewarded?[84]

Mardan-Farrukh next challenges the doctrine of the Trinity, "the father and son and pure wind". Yet he begins without finesse: "If it be proper for three to be one, that implies that it is certainly possible for three to be nine... ." He questions how a son could be equal to the father; then he discusses the trinity and the crucifixion. After a theodicean analysis similar to his about Adam and Eve (see the Judaic section above), Mardan-Farrukh observes that "the sacred being himself created the executioners of his son," and concludes that these enemies then slew "the Messiah, who is the son, through the will of the father."[85] The author's interpretation here resembles aspects of the Christian heresy fostered by the 2nd century gnostic Marcion.[86][87][88] Mardan-Farrukh's analysis of free will in Christianity likewise (absent Ahriman) results in his ascribing to God responsibility for sins committed by humankind.[89] Next he discusses St. Paul (Pâvarôs), quoting him thus, "Not the good works which I desire, but the iniquity which I do not desire, I do. And it is not I that do so, but that which is collected within me does it, because I always see that it is striving with me day and night." Mardan-Farrukh may well have associated St. Paul's feeling of an iniquity "within me" to Ahriman, for in the first half of the Shkand-Gumanik Vichar he states (as a proof of the existence of metaphysical evil), "[A] knowledge of the existence of an opponent of the creatures [i.e., Ahriman] is obtainable from the innermost recesses of the body of man... " which may be observed.[90]

His critique of Christianity concludes with illustrations that seek to demonstrate a dualism partially embedded in Christian scriptures, or as he says, "The word of the Messiah is specially inconsistently a demonstrator as regards the two original evolutions" [of Ohrmazd and of Ahriman]. "[T]hey say, from the words of the Messiah, that the original evolution from the sacred being is light and goodness; evil and darkness are separate from him."[91] Mardan-Farrukh quotes the Messiah, speaking to his human opponents:

"I am appointed by that sacred being doing good works. Why do you not hear those words of mine? Only because you are from the iniquitous one it is not possible for you to hear them, and you wish to do the will of your own father. By him truth is not spoken; whatever he speaks he tells a lie of it, therefore you are false yourselves together with your father. As for me, who speak the truth, you do not believe it of me. And he who is from the sacred being hears the words of the sacred being, but you, because you are not from the sacred being, do not hear my words."

Mardan-Farrukh immediately adds, "By these sayings it is demonstrated by him that there are two original evolutions" [of Ohrmazd and of Ahriman], one which produces the Messiah, and one producing his opponents.[92][93]

Next the parable of the tree that bears good fruit is given: "[F]or every tree becomes manifest by its fruit, if it be of merit and if it be of offensiveness." Again he quotes the Messiah: "[E]very tree which the father has not sown should be dug up, and should be cast into the fire." Mardan-Farrukh concludes, "Wherefore it is fitting to understand from these words that there is a tree, which the father has not sown; that it is necessary to dig up and cast away."[94] Apparently our author is indicating an analogy to the cosmic contention between good and evil of Zoroastrian teaching, so that here Ohrmazd will surely dig up and cast away trees sown by Ahriman.

Finally, Mardan-Farrukh quotes the Messiah: "Our father, that art in the sky, let thy empire arise! And may it be thy will that shall take place on earth as in the sky! Also give us daily bread! And do not bring us to a cause of doubt!" He then continues: "From these words it is evident that his will is not so unalloyed on earth as in the sky. Also this, that the cause of doubt of mankind is not owing to the sacred being."[95] So does the author work to appropriate to the Zoroastrian dualist view the words of the Christian Messiah, i.e., that Ahriman has corrupted the earth and injected doubt into mankind.







Free Will



Similar issues were addressed by the Muslim writer Maulana Muhammad Ali (1874–1951). He rejects as misinformed what he terms a popular idea that the Deity in Islam is maker of both good and evil. This false notion he traces to a long-ago "clash of Islam with Persian religious thought." Ali continues:

"The doctrine that there are two creators, a creator of good and a creator of evil, had become the central doctrine of the Magian religion [another name for Zoroastrianism]... . The religion of Islam taught the purest monotheism, and it was probably in controverting the dualistic doctrine of the Magian religion, that the discussion arose as to whether or not God was the creator of evil. These discussions grew very hot and many side-issues sprang up. ... God created man with certain powers which he could exercise under certain limitations, and it is the exercise of these powers in one way or another that produces good or evil. ... Hence the controversy, as to whether God was the creator of good and evil, arose simply out of a misconception of the nature of good and evil."[99][100][101][102][103]

Notwithstanding, Mardan-Farrukh asks why (if no adversary like Ahriman pre-existed as an independent source of evil) would the sacred being, who acts judiciously and desires universal "happiness and prosperity", come to create a world that results in "misery for multitudes of the innocent who are distressed, poor, necessitous, and sick."[104] Moreover, Mardan-Farrukh insists on the logic that a solitary creator would imply ultimately a single source for all moral qualities; "if it be said that evil and crime arise from [Satan] or mankind, that implies, as they are likewise created and produced by the sacred being, that he is the source of them."[105][106] Rather instead, for Zoroastrians the cause-of-evil Ahriman in origin and nature is completely independent of Ohrmazd the sacred being;[107][108] even now Ohrmazd is contending in the long-term but certain process by which he will defeat Ahriman with finality.[109][110]

Book of Job

From a comparative perspective,[111][112] a Jewish response to the Zoroastrian faith may be seen in the Book of Job, which was written during or following a period of fruitful interaction between the Jews and the Zoroastrian Persians.[113][114][115] In the Book of Job, the Biblical God allows Satan to severely punish Job, even though Job has done no wrong to merit the abuse. The tragedy of innocent suffering is discussed without resolution by Job and by several friends who blame Job unjustly. Finally, an epiphany of ecstasy is visited on Job by the merciful Deity, in which Job comes to hear God and to realize with awe the Mystery, that God's ways are beyond the reckoning of humankind.[116][117]

"Any claim that the world was created by a good and benevolent god must provoke the question why the world, in the outcome, is so very far from good. Zoroaster's answer, that the world had been created by a good and an evil spirit of equal power, who set up to spoil the good work, is a complete answer: it is a logical answer, more satisfying to the thinking mind than the one given by the author of the Book of Job, who withdrew to the claim that it did not behoove man to inquire into the ways of Omnipotence."[118]

Following a method found in modern comparative religion, more than one answer is possible, and several views may respectfully co-exist whatever the apparent mutual contradiction.[119] Hence, the Zoroastrian position as discussed more than a thousand years ago by Mardan-Farrukh in his Shikand-gumanik Vichar may be said to embody a rational search by an inquiring mind as befits a creature of God.[120]





Reference notes

  1. ^ a b R. C. Zaehner, DTZ (1961) at 194.
  2. ^ Škand-gumanik Vičār: la solution décisive des doubtes per Jean de Menasce (1945).
  3. ^ Sikand-gumanik Vigar in E. W. West, Pahlavi Texts, Part III (S.B.E., v.24), SGV at 117-251. West notes his division of the SGV text into 16 chapters (at 116). His annotated SGV contents is at x-xi; his SGV introduction at xxv-xxxvi.
  4. ^ The Parsi Dastur Hoshang, along with West, published the SGV text in the Pazend script (1887). Edward G. Browne at I: 106n; E. W. West (SBE 24) at xxxvi.
  5. ^ Shikand Gumani Vazar, excerpts in R. C. Zaehner, TM (1956, 1976), containing SGV chapter VIII entire as well as several short selections and various quotations from Mardan-Farrukh's book, translated by Zaehner.
  6. ^ R. C. Zaehner, ZZD (1955, 1972) contains a short passage of SGV at 392-396, which is also found in S. H. Nasr and M. Aminrazavi at 59-61.
  7. ^ Alessandro Bausani at 111.
  8. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at xxvi-xxvii and at 120,n2. West also mentions that this Atur-frobag and an Aturpad son of Hemid had edited books of the Zoroastrian Dinkart. "[T]his Aturpad was a contemporary of Zad-sparam who was living in A.D. 881." E. W. West (SBE 24) at xxvii. These other authors are referenced from time to time in the Shkand Gumanik Vichar, e.g., E. W. West (SBE 24) at 138-139 (SGV chapter IV: sections 106-108), and at 169-170 (SGV chapter X: sections 50-57).
  9. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 120 (SGV chapter I: sections 35, 36, 33).
  10. ^ R. C. Zaehner, TM (1956, 1976) at 52-53, quoting from SGV chapter X: sections 43-46.
  11. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 168-169 (re SGV X: 43-46).
  12. ^ R. C. Zaehner, ZZD (1955, 1972) at 107.
  13. ^ Mary Boyce, ZACV (1992) at 153.
  14. ^ R. C. Zaehner, TM (1956, 1976) at 67.
  15. ^ Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Medhi Aminrazavi at 5.
  16. ^ Richard N. Frye (1963) at 239.
  17. ^ Third, was current (ninth and early tenth century) Zoroastrian need for "written treatises" whereas before reliance had been placed on "oral transmission". Richard N. Frye (1963) at 239.
  18. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 185 (SGV XI: 146).
  19. ^ Jean de Menasce, O.P. (1975) at 561-563. The chapter descriptions given are porous, e.g., the translator West thought it appropriate to footnote six times to the Hebrew and Greek Bible on a page (179) within a chapter (XI) assigned to Islam.
  20. ^ Mary Boyce, ZRBP (1979, 1985) at 155: The author relates that preparatory to writing his book he "set out to compare the teachings of Zoroastrianism with those of other faiths... ."
  21. ^ Cf. H. W. Bailey at 79 et seq., who notes the cosmopolitan environment of Zoroastrians of that era, whose own writings display the influence of Indian culture, of Greek philosophy, and of Syrian Christianity. Bailey notes the recent arrival of Islam, which had displaced the Sasanid Empire. To the east their linguistic cousins in Bactria widely followed Buddhism. Not to mention, there were strong reciprocal influences of the Zoroastrians on their neighbors.
  22. ^ Mary Boyce, ZRBP (1979, 1985) at 168-169. Neryosang Dhaval (fl. 1100) also transcribed the Middle Persian language of the SGV text from its Pahlavi script into the more accessible Avestan script (when so employed it is termed Pazand). In 1887 a new Pazand edition of the SGV was published by West and Hoshang (see above, note 3).
  23. ^ Cf., Maneckji Nusservanji Dhalla, discussion at 4-6. He dates the Sanskrit version of SGV to the 13th century.
  24. ^ See the Bibliography, e.g., Jean de Menascy (1945), and E. W. West (S.B.E., v. 24).
  25. ^ R. C. Zaehner, TM (1956, 1976) at 59, 60 (SGV VIII: 4-11, 16-19, 20-21, 24 et seq.)
  26. ^ Cf., E. W. West (SBE 24) at 124 (SGV III: 1-2), and 152-153 (re SGV VIII).
  27. ^ E.g., E. W. West (SBE 24) at 128, 133-134 (SGV IV: 11, 60-61).
  28. ^ Cf., Mary Boyce, ZRBP (1979, 1985) at 25: Ahriman "broke in violently" to Creation "marring its perfection." He turned Waters salt; attacking Earth he caused the deserts. He withered the Plant, and slew the Bull and the first Man. Reaching Fire he "sullied it with smoke, so that he had physically blighted all the good creation."
  29. ^ Cf., E. W. West (SBE 5) at 15-20 (Bundahis at Chapter 3: attack on creation by Ahriman and his demons).
  30. ^ R. C. Zaehner, TM (1956, 1976) at 55.
  31. ^ Cf., Mary Boyce, ZRBP (1979) at 9, and 19-20, regarding perhaps the original ethical nature of Ohrmazd.
  32. ^ Maneckji Nusservanji Dhalla at 259-260.
  33. ^ J. Darmesteter at 4-10 (Vendidad, Fargard I).
  34. ^ Maneckji Nusservanji Dhalla at 384.
  35. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 128 (SGV IV: 6).
  36. ^ The author further develops the theme of the complete separation of good and evil, i.e., of Ohrmazd and Ahriman. He employs various philosophical analyses, including "the impossibility of any existent thing being infinite, the nature of infinity, the relationship between epistemology, essence, and quality, and the immutability of substance." Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Mehdi Aminrazavi at 5.
  37. ^ R. C. Zaehner, TM (1956, 1976) at 61-62 (SGV VIII: 49, 48, 50-51).
  38. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 154 (re SGV VIII).
  39. ^ Cf., Mary Boyce, ZACV (1992) at 73.
  40. ^ R. C. Zaehner, TM (1956, 1976) at 49-51 (SGV IV: 63-80), and at 61, 63-64 (SGV VIII: 46-47, & 71-72, 76-80).
  41. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 134-136 (re SGV IV), and at 155, 157-158 (re SGV VIII).
  42. ^ Mary Boyce, ZRBP (1979) at 26.
  43. ^ R. C. Zaehner, DTZ (1961) at 310-321 (plan of Ohrmazd), 250 (12,000 years), 147 (humanity's rôle), 36 (Asha and Druj).
  44. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 166 (SGV X: 17-18, 19, 20, 24, 23).
  45. ^ Cf., Maneckji Nusservanji Dhalla at 354-356.
  46. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 121 (SGV I: 39) re truth leading to dignity and the true religion. The three approaches to knowledge listed: at 140 (SGV V: 10-11). Tangibility also: at 142 (SGV V: 46), and at 163, 164 (SGV IX: 5-6, 18). Emphasis added.
  47. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 140-142 (SGV V: 12-14, 15-30, 31-35). A variety of the inevitable (elimination of the impossible) is described at 142 (SGV V: 36-40). Miscellaneous falsehoods (e.g., "an existing thing which is not temporary and localized") are mentioned at 142 (SGV V: 41-45).
  48. ^ "[T]he Denkart and the Sikand [appear] thoroughly permeated with Aristotelian thought." R. C. Zaehner, ZZD (1955, 1972) at viii. Yet the Zoroastrian Denkart claims wisdom itself over the subtlety of Byzantine philosophers and the learned of India. Ibid. at 252.
  49. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 146 (SGV VI: 1). Here at note 4, the translator Neryosang (fl. 1100) is said to call the atheists dahari [Sanskrit "digambara"] which signifies Buddhist ascetics, whom West calls "the nearest approach to atheists with which Neryosang was acquainted." Earlier at 139 (SGV chapter V: 1) "assertors of the non-existence of a sacred being" were mentioned, but chapter V proceeds to describe methods of proof and does not further discuss such atheists.
  50. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 146-147 (SGV VI: 7-8, 9-10), and at 148-149 (SGV VI: 27, 25, 34).
  51. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 149-150 (SGV VI: 38-41, 45).
  52. ^ Mary Boyce, ZRBP (1979, 1985) at 146. An unpleasant rule of victor over vanquished is presented.
  53. ^ Alessandro Bausani at 111-112, who offers a mixed picture of a sometimes very harsh conquest, followed by a generally peaceful transition (which after a run of several centuries resulted in a Muslim majority in Iran). Bausani points out that the Qur'an itself was influenced in some particulars by Iran; he discusses unexpected similarities between Islam and Zoroastrianism. Bausani at 114-121.
  54. ^ Not all Muslims, however, were hostile to Zoroastrianism, e.g., the exemplary humanist Al-Masudi (c.896-956). Ahmad M H Shboul, Al-Mas'ūdī and his world. A muslim humanist and his interest in non-muslims (London: Ithaca Press 1979), re Zoroastrians at 5, 112, 288.
  55. ^ Mary Boyce, PSZ (1977) at 1.
  56. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 173 (SGV XI: 5).
  57. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 194 (SGV XI: 271). In a footnote (no. 1 at 194) West cites two possible passages from the Qur'an that are at least similar to the gist of this Zoroastrian author of late antiquity: VI ("Cattle"), 39; and XIV ("Abraham"), 32, 34.
  58. ^ M. M. Ali, at 329-333, comments that such Quranic passages would be based on "a very great misinterpretation", if said to regard a supposed al-Mudzill (the One who leads astray). On the contrary, Ali continues, if read in context it becomes plain that Allah only leads astray those who already have committed transgressions.
  59. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 180-181 (SGV XI 91-92).
  60. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 182-183 (SGV XI: 111-113).
  61. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 180 (SGV XI: 79), and per 178-179 (XI: 61-67). Satan (Ahriman) not only lures the first man and woman to eat the forbidden fruit, but (according to Mardan-Farrukh) beforehand Satan (Ahriman) prepared this occasion of sin by corrupting their natural appetite with greed. Ibid. at 179 (XI: 68).
  62. ^ Maneckji Nusservanji Dhalla at 327-328, on the Jews in Iran from the 6th century B.C.E. to the 9th century C.E.
  63. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 216 (SGV XIII: 94-99). Our author also notices the puzzle that the sun (the measure of days) was not created until the fourth day. Ibid. at 216 (SGV XIII: 100-101).
  64. ^ The doctrine of creation ex nihilo (from nothing) may not belong to Biblical understanding before the second century B.C.E. Cf. James Hope Moulton at 291-292.
  65. ^ Cf. Genesis 1:2, "And God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good."
  66. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 213 (SGV XIII: 51-53).
  67. ^ R. C. Zaehner, TM (1956, 1976) at 34-35 (Bundahishn I: 1). This celebrated text begins: "Thus it is revealed in the Good Religion. Ohrmazd was on high in omniscience and goodness: for infinite time he was ever in the light. The light is the place and space of Ohrmazd: some call it the Endless Light."
  68. ^ E. W. West (SBE 5) at 3-4 (Bundahis, chapter I: 2).
  69. ^ Maneckji Nusservanji Dhalla at 156. "Ahura Mazda [Ohrmazd] is synonymous with light." Although transcending nature, "among objects of sense the Zoroastrian godhead most of all resembles the light."
  70. ^ Elsewhere he mentions Moses (Mûshâê) and Abraham. E. W. West (SBE 24) at 208, 225 (SGV XIII: 3; XIV: 40).
  71. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 209-212 (SGV XIII: 15-45), at 218 (SGV XIII: 14-18), at 217 (SGV XIII: 108-109).
  72. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 220-221 (SGV XIII: 148-149).
  73. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 221 (SGV XIV 1-8). Although not himself locating a matching Biblical passage, West in footnotes refers variously to Deuteronomy 32: 35; Romans 12: 19; Genesis 4: 15; also Isaiah 30: 27, 28, 30.
  74. ^ Mary Boyce, ZRBP (1979, 1985) at 149.
  75. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 229 (SGV XV: 2-3). Christians in the SGV are referred to as Tarsâk [God-fearers] (SGV XV: 1).
  76. ^ Maneckji Nusservanji Dhalla at 326, per both Jews and Christians regarding the "heated polemics"; at 328, per the then "perennial war" between Mazdean and Christian.
  77. ^ Cf. James R. Russell, Zoroastrianism in Armenia (Harvard University 1988).
  78. ^ M. Chahin, The Kingdom of Armenia (London: Croom, Helm 1987; reprint Dorset, New York 1991) at 252, 253, 255-256.
  79. ^ Richard N. Frye (1963) at 233, 238-241.
  80. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 230 (SGV XV: 17). "Who apart from that woman saw the angel Gabriel? And on what account is it expedient to consider that woman truthful?" (SGV XV: 9).
  81. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 231-232 (SGV XV: 25-36, 31-32). "Now there are some even who say that the Messiah is the sacred being himself. Now this is very strange, when the mighty sacred being... became of human nature and went into the womb of a woman... ."
  82. ^ Mardan-Farrukh seems to mistake the Christian doctrine of the redemptive power of the crucifixion, but instead he identifies it as a sign of resurrection. E. W. West (SBE 24) at 232-233 (SGV XV: 40-42).
  83. ^ Zoroastrians believe in a final Resurrection of the body for humankind, when Ahriman becomes totally defeated by the wise lord Ohrmazd. R. C. Zaehner (1956, 1976) at 139-140.
  84. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 232-233 (SGV XV: 40-45). Regarding the cursing (SGV XV: 44-45), West footnotes Matthew xxiii, 29, 34, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! ... behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify." At the crucifixion Jesus had said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Luke xxiii, 34.
  85. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 233-236 (SGV XV: 46-76, 46, 49, 51, 64, 76).
  86. ^ "According to Marcion, Christianity is essentially a Gospel of Love, not of Law. ... Marcion rejected the Old Testament, which he saw as revelation of a cruel Demiurge, wholly different from the God of Jesus. ... [Marcion] attributed the Crucifixion to the God of the Old Testament." Marcion's teaching were firmly rejected. S. G. F. Brandon, editor, Dictionary of Comparative Religion (New York: Scribners 1970) at 427. "By end of 3rd century most Marcionite communities were absorbed into Manichaeism." Manichees originated in the Persian Sasanid Empire.
  87. ^ Geo Widengren at 11, comments that Marcion "grew up in a strongly Iranianized atmosphere." From a Zoroastrian perspective one can see a dualism inherent in some of Marcion's doctrines about Christianity.
  88. ^ For further indication of Marcion's teachings in Mardan-Farrukh's book, cf. E. W. West (SBE 24) at 242-243 (SGV XV: 152-154), where at his conclusion Mardan-Farrukh makes the claim that the Messiah dissipated the laws of Moses.
  89. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 236 (SGV XV: 77-83).
  90. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24): St. Paul at 237 (SGV XV: 91, 93-96). For the Christian text per Mardan-Farrukh's quotation of St. Paul, West footnotes Romans vii, 19, 20, 23. For the "innermost recesses of the body", E. W. West (SBE 24) at 163 (SGV IX: 5-8)
  91. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 238 (SGV XV: 108), and at 237-238 (SGV XV: 97-98). West footnotes 1st John i, 5, which states: "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all."
  92. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 240 (SGV XV: 124-130). West footnotes John viii, 42-47.
  93. ^ The author of SGV seems to refrain from naming Jesus of Nazareth, preferring to write "the Messiah".
  94. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 241 (SGV XV: 134), and at 242 (SGV XV: 144-145). West footnotes Matthew vii, 17, 18, and Luke vi, 44.
  95. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 242 (SGV XV: 148-151). West footnotes Matthew vi, 9-11, 13.
  96. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 243 (SGV XVI).
  97. ^ E. W. West
  98. ^ Farhang Mehr
  99. ^ M. M. Ali at 317-319, 318. Ali adds: "The same act may be a virtue on one occasion and evil on another. A blow struck in self-defence... . ... The Holy Qur'an, therefore, has not dealt with the question of the creation of good and evil at all." M. M. Ali at 318, 319. Here, Ali does not refer to the Shkand-gumanig Vizar of Mardan-Farrukh, or to any other Zoroastrian (or "Magian") source.
  100. ^ Bausani at 113, comments peripherally on this "clash of Islam with Persian religious thought":

    "On the Muslim side, these criticisms... disputes between Mazdeans and Muslims, especially at the court of the tolerant Abbasid caliph al-Ma'mun... were answered with alicrity by the Mu'tazilites--the promoters, in Islam, of a dialectical dogmatic theology (kalam, i.e., 'speech'). The 'dualist' danger was strongly felt by these early theologians though it is not clear what they effectively meant by dualism (thanawiya, zandaqa) and we have sufficient data to believe that they often confused Mazdaism and Manichaeism. The term zandik (which already indicated heretics, and Manichaeans in particular, in Pahlavi) indicated the Manichaeans in its Arabized form of zindiq, and later became generally synonymous with free thinker, 'libertine'."

    In this regard, Bausani (at 113) mentions two Zoroastrian books: the Denkart and the Shkand-gumanig Vichar.
  101. ^ The Shkand-gumanig Vizar refers to the "Mutazilik", i.e., the Mu'tazili. E. W. West (SBE 24) at 195 (SGV XI: 280).
  102. ^ The caliph al-Ma'mun (r.813-833) was probably a generation or two prior to Mardan-Farrukh. E. W. West (SBE 24) at xvi-xvii.
  103. ^ The continuation in Iran of the spiritual heritage of Zoroastrianism, that occurred from within Islamic circles, is discussed by Henry Corbin in his Terre céleste et corps de résurrection: de l'Iran mazdéen à l'Iran shî'ite (Paris: Buchet-Chastel 1960), translated as Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth. From Mazdean Iran to Shī'ite Iran (Princeton University 1976; reprint: I. B. Tauris 1990).
  104. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 185 (SGV XI: 146); cf. SBE 24 at 205 (SGV XII: 47).
  105. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 193 (SGV XI: 258).
  106. ^ Another point contra M. M. Ali (see his quotes above): Ahriman is responsible for such evils as earthquakes and hurricanes, evils which are not caused by humankind.
  107. ^ R. C. Zaehner, TM (1956, 1976) at 65 (SGV VIII: 104, 108): "[W]hat is perfect and complete in its goodness cannot produce evil. ... If God is perfect in goodness and knowledge, plainly ignorance and evil cannot proceed from Him."
  108. ^ E. W. West (SBE 24) at 160 (SGV VIII: 104, 108).
  109. ^ R. C. Zaehner, TM (1956, 1976) at 139-144 regarding Ohrmazd in his final victory or frashkart. Text excerpt at 145-150, from the Bundahishn, "On the Raising of the Dead and the Final Body" (chapter 30): victory when Ohrmazd as priest performs a Gathic rite that renders Ahriman powerless (at 150, verse 23).
  110. ^ E. W. West (SBE 5) at 120-130 (Bundahis, chapter XXX); Ohrmazd as priest per the Gathic rite (at 128-129, verse 30).
  111. ^ Mary Boyce, ZRBP (1979, 1985) at 51-52, 77, regarding Cyrus and Zoroastrian influence on Judaism. "[T]he Jews entertained warm feelings thereafter for the Persians, and this made them the more receptive to Zoroastrian influences. Cyrus himself is hailed... as a messiah, that is, as one who acted in Yahweh's name and with his authority." She cites Isaiah 41:1,4. Boyce writes of the "influence which Zoroastrianism was to exert so powerfully on post-Exilic Judaism." She later (at 77) lists Zoroastrian doctrines which Judaism shares.
  112. ^ R. C. Zaehner, DTZ (1961) at 20-21, and at 57-58 ("Influence on Judaism"). "That Judaism was deeply influenced by Zoroastrianism during and after the Babylonian captivity can scarcely be questioned." Ibid. at 51.
  113. ^ "Job, Book of" at 376, in Dictionary of Comparative Religion (New York: Charles Scribners' Sons 1970), edited by S. G. F. Brandon. The Judaic version, the Biblical Book of Job, is said to have been written between the 5th and 2nd centuries B.C.E., thus written after their return to Judea from their Babylonian captivity in Mesopotamia. This return was allowed the Jews following their liberation by the Persian Cyrus the Great (c.600-530), whom the Bible calls anointed of God (Isaiah 45: 1-3). The Book of Job preceded the SGV by a millennium.
  114. ^ James Hope Moulton at 286-331, presents a chapter on "Zarathushtra and Israel", followed by an Appendix on "The Magian Material of Tobit" (at 332-340); he references the Book of Job twice. First (at 290), in his "comparison in detail" he leads by stating similarities between the Wise Lord and Yahweh, citing Job chapter 28, wherein "God said to men, 'To be wise, you must have reverence for the Lord. To understand, you must turn from evil'." Later (at 305) he compares Ahriman to Satan in the Book of Job.
  115. ^ R. C. Zaehner, TM (1956, 1976) at 56, states: "Man suffers at the hands of Ahriman but at least he has the comfort of knowing he is not being tormented by an all-powerful Being who is his own creator. The Zoroastrian does not know the predicament of Job."
  116. ^ Book of Job, 1: 1-5 (Job's good fortune); 1: 6-12 (Satan's interview with God); 1: 13-19 (death of Job's children and destruction of his many flocks); 1: 20-22 (Job's steadfast faith); 2: 1-6 (Satan's second interview with God); 2: 7-8 (Job's loathsome illness); 2: 9-13 (mocked by wife and friends); 3 (Job curses day he was born); 4-31 (fault-finding speeches by four friends and self-justifying answers by Job); 32-37 (speeches by Elihu, e.g., God's greatness); 38-41 (from the whirlwind God speaks to Job); 40: 3-5 and 42: 1-6 (Job's response to God); 42: 7-9 (God rebukes the four friends); 42: 10-17 (God restores Job's good fortune). God to Job: "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding." (38: 4) "Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?" (40: 2) "Who then is he that can stand before me? Who has given to me, that I should repay him?" (41: 10-11) Job's response: "I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know." (42: 3) "Therefore, I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes." (42: 6)
  117. ^ Cf., Carl Jung, Antwort auf Hiob (Zürich 1952), translated as Answer to Job (Princeton University: Bollingen 1954; reprint Cleveland: Meridian 1960), e.g., in section I at ¶568 (p.8/p.30), where an argument found in the SGV is posed, without attribution. Jung writes:

    "Yahweh, however, could get inordinately excited about man as a species or men as individuals if they did not behave as he desired or expected, without ever considering that in his omnipotence he could easily have created something better than these 'bad earthenware pots'."

  118. ^ W. B. Henning, Zoroaster. Politician or Witchdoctor? (London 1951) at 46, as cited by Gherado Gnoli in his article "Dualism" at paragraph 2, in the Encyclopedia Iranica.
  119. ^ Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Towards a World Theology. Faith and the Comparative History of Religion (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press 1981) at 152: The grand mission statement "is to interpret intellectually all human faith, one's own and others'; comprehensively and justly. Seeing one's own group and its history thus far as making up one complex strand in the total history of religion until now, a total history that one is endeavouring to understand from within... . Seeing one's own group as a component in the total community of humankind, a total community whose corporate critical self-consciousness... has yet to be articulated."
  120. ^ Cf., Morris Jastrow, Bood of Job. Its origin, growth, and interpretation (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott (1920) at 181-184: "Zoroastrianism and the Book of Job".
  121. ^ R. C. Zaehner
  122. ^ Arthur L. Herman, The Problem of Evil and Indian Thought (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass 1976).
  123. ^ Mary Boyce



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