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On Mysticism and Esotericism among the Zoroastrians Author(s): James R. Russell Source: Iranian Studies, Vol. 26, No. 1/2 (Winter - Spring, 1993), pp. 73-94 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of International Society for Iranian Studies Stable URL: Accessed: 20/10/2010 22:40
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James R. Russell

On Mysticism and Esotericism among the Zoroastrians

in The ideaof Zoroastrian mysticismmightat firstglanceseema contradiction above all else: terms. The Good Religion, after all, is cimig, "rational," mysteryof all faiths,theodicy, Zoroaster elegantlysolved the most intractable that of by the revelation cosmicdualism.' The mereassertion thereareesoteric has withinZoroastrianism been criticized.2This criticismspringsin doctrines of is itself, which,as it will be argued, partfroma flawedperception mysticism the not an independent entity,everywhere same. Rather,each religionhas a in withthe mainmysticism its own, oftenirreconcilable someof its features of with stream,and, in the case of Zoroastrianism, some of the religion'splain does not logic. Also, the existence of mysticismwithina religioustradition
imply its centrality to that tradition. Mysticism exists in Christianity, but

as the could scarcelybe calledessentialto it, considering claim,elaborated the to churchrose to universal overtand suffi Christian prominence, the radically
The research for this essay was carried out with the generous supportof a Lady Davis Fellowship at the Hebrew University. I thank the Trust and my colleagues in Israel, whose helpful comments and learned company were of great benefit. I am solely responsible for the audacity to approach this topic, and they share no responsibility for the many inadequacies readers will, undoubtedly,discover. 1. One might contrast to Zoroaster's clear vision of the beginning of all things and of their true nature in his hymns the theophany in Job. "All categories in which meaning can be identified are wiped out and the only voice Job can hear is that of the archaic thunderGod, El or Ba'L who speaks in enigmas of an ultimate premoral mystery" (Amos N. Wilder, 'The Rhetoric of Ancient and Modem Apocalyptic," Interpretation 25, no. 4 [October 1971]: 444, commenting on Frank M. Cross, "New Directions in the Study of Apocalyptic," Apocalypticism [JThCh 6] [New York, 1969]: 161-5). I am indebted for this reference to my colleague, Professor Michael Stone. 2. In his Zoroastrian Problems in the Ninth-Century Books, 2d ed. (Oxford Univ. Press, 1971), xxix, Sir Harold W. Bailey wrote that Shaul Shaked, in his "Esoteric Trends in Zoroastrianism," Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities 3 (1969): 175-222, had "tried, by surveying the use of rdz, to discover some mysticism in Zoroastrian orthodox traditionwhere J. de Menasce had found none. It is evident for whatever reason that Zoroastriancommentators avoid stressing such an aspect. It was therefore left to European scholars, whose mental basis has been saturated for 2,000 years with Hellenistic fantasy, to ignore the constant appeal to the . . . rationality of [Zoroastrian]tradition." This criticism appears to have been based on a misunderstanding. Shaked never meant, in fact, to suggest that the Zoroastrians promulgated mystical doctrines or practices, only that they restricted access to religious learning which might be misused by the ignorant, by foreign enemies of the Iranian faith, or by heretics within. One may compare this with the Mishnaic injunction to build a fence round the Torah. Professor Shaked would have been fully justi

The nature of haoma is still disputed. From the earliest times Zoroastriansbelieved that special knowledge about the end of the cosmicbattlebetweengoodandevil. overtly and in abundance.1986]. "The Coming of Islam to Afghanistan. mightbe acquired by spiritually advanced believers employing mystical techniques. An adequatehistory of Jewish faith and worship could be written without considering the Kabbalahas a majortrend. andthe meansto bringaboutthe victoryof Ahura Mazda-to maketheworldfraga-. arguments about hallucinogens in Zoroastrianism have involved very deep-seated cultural prejudices. n. As one might expect.for many centuries without ever usurpingor significantly transformingthe normativeJudaism of halakhah. One may suppose that in some literary sources. Fowden. have theiranalogue-even cognate-in the developed traditionsof Indianmysticism. from its very beginnings to the present time..74 Russell cient truth of the Gospel. no. tusni. "On the Antiquity of Zoroastrian Apocalyptic. In the case of the religion of Israel.sometimes through intoxication wine3or the use of psychotropic with as drugs. as an attributeof Ahura Mazda. ed. asserts that Zoroaster fell silent at the . A kindredassertion can be venturedwith respect to the religion of Iran. Thus. and. the h6g.5 One manthrain particufied in speaking of Zoroastrian mysticism or esotericism in its fullest sense. But such a history." This may be a cliche. but its function of inducing ecstasy is not. Zoroastrians are associated in New Persian literature. cited from the earlier Ketcb-e Garshiisp of Abu'l-Mu'ayyad Balkhi. however reasonable in correctly identifying the ideological mainstream that defined the Jewish people. for example. 4. The Scholiast to the Platonic Alcibiades.. The Egyptian Hermes [Cambridge. Vol. "'silently thinking"). These practices.of course. it has the typical ambiguity of a Sufi poem linking wine and love to the mystical state of nearness to God. 66). The Avestan word appears in Yasna 43:15. with mystical practices and religious intoxication. Kaykhosrow and Rostam (see. this carries over into the image of the Good Religion in Persian Muslim sources. most recently. as seen above. "wonderful"-in addition the to revelation thesematters on in already provided theGathas. perhaps garbling an Iranian source. C. Certainly. claims that the legendary Persian sage Ostanes "died . the distinction between a psychedelic drug that released the soul from everyday reality and the poison that separated it from the body forever might have been somewhat blurred. 4. The pseudo-DemocriteanPhysica et Mystica. in actual practice. The fire temple in that work is itself reputed to have been built by two Iranian epic heroes. we find an early New Persian poem in the Tdrikh-e Sistdn dedicated to the sacred fire of Karkoy in Sistan. Islam in Asia. Kabbalahand related systems have existed. if not. Hebrew Univ. Av.. In the Persian Zardosht-name. the literature of the Iranian faith is replete with allusions to mystical journeys assisted by the consumption of psychoactive substances.maitig. "Imbibe ambrosial wine. Boyce./The loved one in (thine) embrace. and the worshipper is invited to nush kon may nash/dast bar aghish. Bosworth. perhaps.Apparently these involvedinduction a stateof joyousecstasyandprofound of insight. 211 E. 3.. 5. 90. if not. 1984). Zoroaster is supposed to have given Vishtaspa a draught of wine which enabled him to see the next world (see discussion by M. would still be incomplete. 1 [1984]: 60-61)." BSOAS 47. I: South Asia (Jerusalem: Magnes Press. Friedman." in Y. E. In that poem.4 well as by mantricrecitations(Avestan manthra-)or silent meditation(cf. "consciousness" of Karasaspa(an Avestan hero discussed below) is supposed to reside. had he chosen to approach the topic. having used poison to release the soul from the body" (cited by G.

Gujaratimatlu). which was believed to be a living being in and of itself with a spirit of its own. Goodman. as a result of these practices.. The Pastor is Zarathustra or his remote progeny. texts distinguish between this state and material destitution. exemplars of righthe teous temporal and spiritual authority. in Where the Spirits Ride the Wind: Trance Journeys and Other Ecstatic Experiences (Bloomington. 62. darvish) are the faithful. See Yasna chs." The ahu and ratu seem to be Vishtaspa and Zarathustra. 7. provided insight into the very natureof Time. The second verse belongs to the sphere of ethics: the ways of action of the Faith are established through Zoroaster's revelation. whether throughcloseness to God or the conviction that one's personality has been clarifiedor transformed. N. then. brought about by defined practices. which the Good Mind. the ethical duties (Av. According to the traditional Zoroastrian hagiography.6 The categories sufficient to a characterization a mystiof cal system in the Zoroastriantraditionmight. to resume speech only at age thirty. and 3) emotional fulfillment. One reasonable rendering might be: "As the Lord he is desired. such as the maintenance of a vegetariandiet. and. e. 6. and adds that Zoroastrians greatly revere Mithra and connect him with the number seven. enables his intelligence to receive and to shape into a way of life in this mixed state of good and evil which we now inhabit. cosmology was a central feature of Zoroastrianesoteric doctrine. The prayer reads: Yatha ahiu vairy6 athai raltfi asActitbail Vanghausdazdd manangh6 syaothananam angbhu? MazddilXiathramca Ahurai d yim dragubyddaddt vastarkm. and knowledgeable recitation of the Ahuna Vairya. dragu-. the prophet left home at twenty. differing from. from which derives ultimately N. fathered a son. F. according to truth. J. tr. and performed rituals which must have requiredthe recitation of manthras. the normaland oror dinary. who stand in need of Godspiritual poverty (the Phl. and the thirdcosmic age when salvation comes. mostly cosmological and eschatological. D.: Indiana Univ. Allied to these practices were moderatephysical austerities../He establishes the ways of action of the Good Mind in life for Mazda:/And the Kingdom belongs to Ahura. Vohu Manah. the Saosyant. when he began to instruct the king Vishtaspa (Hystaspes). . It is noteworthy that the strange epithet xumbya. whetherthrough Zoroasterhimself or by the handof his descendant. so is he as Judge. khom. 1990).g. who has made him Pastor of the Poor. There is no indication he was silent during his ten years' wandering. Press. whetherthroughspirit travelor intense apperceptionof divinity. during which he was accompanied by his wife. the greatAhuna Vairya prayerby which the Universe itself was created and the Evil Spirit smitten-according to the Zoroastrianaccount of Creationin the Bundahign-refers to the creation of the primal order of the world. 2-15 et seq. 2) acquisition of special knowledge. 1932). and the Poor (Av. syaotbana-) of mankindin the period when the powers of good and evil are at war. B. As will be seen.7 The primevallinkage of eschatology to mysticism age of seven. the latter seen as evil)-and who will inherit the Earth. has connected varieties of ecstatic experience to particular postures assumed by diviners and shamans. Ind. "(sitting in a) jar" (Yasht 13:138) is applied to the Avestan Fradhakhshti(cf.Mysticismand Esotericismamong Zoroastrians 75 lar. be summarizedas follows: 1) provision of an experience transcending. The last line is probably eschatological. The Persian Rivayats of Hormazyar Framarz (Bombay. and has to do with Kingdom Come. Per. received his revelation at thirty. 19. and began to convert the court of Vishtaspa thirteen years later. N. Per.the Saogyant("Savior"). Dhabhar.

1969). he often consciously or unconsciously approaches or even transgresses its limits. It is also evidentthatZoroaster his followers enstasyrather believedthemselves belongto a distinct privileged to and a groupsharing special J. merriment.far of and frombeing ineffableor remote. this source is unreliable. 91/2 Mystics: The Kabbala Today (New York. actively involvedwith this in in world. "Te substance canonicaltexts. so tantramight here refer only to Sufism.Plinyrepeated to the well-known evidently legendthatZoroaster bornlaughing. The ShamO'el-e Termezi informsus thatMuhammad laughedonly once in his life: at the news of the deathof an enemywhose eye poppedout when he was shot and who fell backwards fromhis mount. voicedby Gershom Scholem. noted that there is such a meditational posture in yoga. who. and most likely post-Islamic.Sufi manifestations. invariably.8 Whereone and not does encounter as a salientfeature mysticism Iran. The Sammohatantra lists among the countries possessing tantric practices Bactria (Bdhlika) and Persia (Parasika)-among the others are Greece. Cited by H.So even this laughter mustbe seenas scornful denrsive. 1988].76 Russell amongstIranians persistedthrough ages.It maybe sugtions.are visiblyandintelligibly involvesprofound gestedthattheprocessof Zoroastrian mysticism apperception of the immanence God. even Whilstin otherreligionsthe centralaim of mysticismhas been closenessto a transcendent God or annihilation the self in Him. it appearsthat for the of Zoroastrian emotional the of is equivalent this experience fullnessof visionof and thepurposes strategies theGodwhoseverynameis Wisdom.but only thatof a particular as religioussystem. 294 and n. the mystical yearning for a primal unity as the object of devotion verges upon heresy against the primary tenet of dualism. attestedfromearliesttimes. whilstZoroastrians has the have on occasionborrowed practicesand beliefs fromthe mysticaltraditions other of faithswith whichthey have come into contacL Some features Zoroastrian of mysticaldoctrine practice or will.Scholemcontinues. joyousin anyrealsense. usuallyin deliberate contrast the grimlyasceticaspectsof theirown tradition. It has alreadybeen noted how Muslimpoets attributing mysticalpracticesto Zoroastrians associatewith these.Oneshouldconwas trast to this the Christian mystics' practice of spiritual focus through tears.that thereis no mysticism such. palpablygood. C. 57-8. A Brief History of Tantra Literature [Calcutta. and China (see S. in its later. is melted down and given another form as it passes through the fiery stream of the mystical consciousness . Tibet. then.JesusChristneverlaughed. Modi. othersspringuniquely but fromthe Iri'an faithandmaynotbe immediately recognizable mysticism as if thistermis accepted onlyon thebasisof its recognized characteristics other in or other-worldly their in religioussystemswhicharenon-dualistic intrinsically ultimate aims. Banerji. like thatof all of For the mystic. .be familiar. however. 7). rather of thandeparture another into forn of beingand thanexstasy.andmanifest it through holy creations whichHis sevenemanathe incarnate. becoming then an either recognized or unrecognized heretic.the Amen Sp. other religious maywell havea in joy of Zoroastrian hallmark. Weiner. 8. . The precise intent of the epithet. Oriental Conference Papers (p. 71). ." In the Zoroastriancase. Oneshouldrecallthe caution. Apart from the references. The list is very broad.anu. remains unclear. hard as the mystic may try to remain within the confinements of his religion. Nepal. his revealing nakedbuttocks.

13. The Sun shines out of the 360 windows of Mt. One might compare with this the uncanonical Jewish tradition of Abraham's concealment in a cave during the tyranny of Nimrod.12 Pirates these men might have appeared to the Romans. literally.can also be examined in the context of a Zoroastrian mysticism. as might befit a yazata associated with the lofty Sun god (Yasht 10:50). So rites of initiation. with their psychological features of passage. See J. see J. Russell. 1992). C." To this day the national epic Sasna crerdescribes how a hero namedLittle Mher (Mithra)is led to a cave by a raven. Sraosha has a mountain palace as well." in J. In their inexorableprogressionof aggressive conquests.such as the Sufi orders in Islam. Russell. a land itself steeped in Iranianreligion and culture with which Greeks and Romans were in contact of old. indeed. Terag." in Transactions of the American Lodge of Research (Masonic) (in press). in diverse cultures. Zaehner. 11. "On the Armeno-IranianRoots of Mithraism. "placeof Mihr (Mithra). ed. for Mithrais said to have a mountainpalace. 111. teachings.' "Pirates"(as the Romans termedthem) operatingoff the southem coast of Anatolia around the time of Christ worshippedMithraon a mountaintop. whence he emerged speaking lIJdn ha- . There is some evidence of such a sub-groupin Zoroastrian in pre-ChristianArmenia. and symbolism of this secret society are all disputed. and transformation. but rather as a secret society within the larger frameworkof Iranianreligion. R. surprise. Mithraism should not be regarded as a distinct religion in its own right.13 All these featuresof the epic are significant individand thereby shares aspects of the philosophical school which elevated Zurvan-infinite time-above both Ohrmazd and Ahriman. awaiting the end of time. Studies on Mithraism (Rome: Bretschneider. conferring rites of initiation. and to the theophorically-named Mithradatesof Pontus. such mystical sub-groupsfind toleration when it is plain that their purpose is not to usurp the confessional loyalties of an individual but to enhance his devotion within the faith to which he already Iranand also adheres. By Roman times the generic word for temple had become mehean. This is not unusual. Avestan frya-. This is. the forerunner of Roman Mithraism. He now sits confined there. In general. the wheel of fate in his hands. the Roman legions came to this region and to inland Armenia-where. preserve secretive rites of initiation. "Mithraism and the Craft Reconsidered. The Zoroastrian mystical path completely lacks the sense of numinous terror that is so integral to other mysticisms. One may compare this with the mannerwhereby the Sufi addresses Allah as yar or diis.but certainreasonabletheoriescan be advanced 1 about them. See also R. Zoroaster's own encounters with Ahura Mazda-whom he addressesfamiliarlyas a beloved friend9-involve a vision of the beginning of the world which itself can certainly be classified as mystical (Yasna 30). but to their own people.. a late and corrupt traditionlocated the birthplaceof Zoroasterhimself and where the worship of Mithra was prominent. the symbol of time suspended. The cave seems to be. 10. R. Well-established mystical traditions. 12. they were fighters for freedom against an alien enemy. and in Yasna 57:21. On the justifications for such a classification.Mysticismand Esotericismamong Zoroastrians 77 and transformativespiritual gift. Hinnells. The Dawn and Twilighl of Zoroastrianism.10 The origins. R. of course. 9. The Sros Yast Vadi borrows at various points from the Mihr Yasht.

Sdiyans. Bonnerot. "Armenische Erzaehlungen.Sinonis corresponds thelatter's to daughter. supp. Romantic tales set in faraway Persia. the end of time. writtenin the reignof Sohaemus. and with him. Rhodanesand Sinonis. La Perse dans la litteratureel la pensee fantaises au XVIIIesiecle: De l'image au mythe (Paris. and Wizdrign(Separation [of good from evil]). inserts curious a romance his book. Thraetaona)-literally. In a sense there are three Creations also: the essentially static creations of the spiritual beings (menogan) and earthly creatures (gitigan). are thoughonly in Armenia they linkedin a surviving. each characterized by some symbolicobjector act. A. wherein the author stresses the popularity of Zoroaster. See 0. postulates three World Ages: Bundahign (Creation). the slaying of Gayomard. Mozart uses a crypto-Persianframe story in Die Zauberfloete with many parallels to the narrativeof Rhodanes and Sinonis. Merkelbach. The men of the Erklaerung were convinced that their initiatory mysteries had roots in the ancient East which conferred upon them a venerable legitimacy superseding that of the Christian faith. Faridun (Av.14 It appears lamblikhos basedhis romanceon a protothat Mithraic in Armenia cult whichwas itself firmlyrootedin traditional Avestan lore. 14. in a sense.the useof the ravenas a degreeand symbolor astrological symbolismsuch as the wheel of fate. will come of his seed. parallel to Abraham. Garmosseems to be a Hellenization MiddleIranian of Azhi kerm. Sanghavachi.encountering bizarre in obstaclesandordealswhichresemble severalinstancesthe Mithraic gradesof initiation.flee the latter'swicked fatherGarmos. moreto thepoint. The Zoroastriancosmology. H. is the inception of Wizdrign.78 Russell ual aspectsof RomanMithraism. dragon"-thatis. 1984). as already noted in the discussion above of the Ahuna Vairya prayer.of Armenian Northwestern or MiddleIranian Hruden. Two young lovers.again.Babyinto loniaka(ca. Thewriter a Iamblikhos. 1988). The Prophet prefigures the perfection of the world.e. became popular in the eighteenth century. against whose dominion many struggled.for we do notfindattested world-or.coherentnarrative. both modern and ancient (the legend of Zariadrisand Odatis in the Deipnosophistai of Athenaeus. There is in this legend the clear sense of transformation and areastheRomans held conquered-meetings in caves. with their frailties and carnivorousness (see below).D."worm. Syriansophistfluentin Aramaic who lived in Armenia. for example). the Avestan "man-dragon" Dahaka. and the introduction of sin-exemplified in the human world by the division of Man into Man and Woman (Masya and Masyanag). See discussion by R. 170)." the original Creation of Barasith and the preservation of Noah and his progeny through the Flood having been the first two. the replication of earthly beings. Gumezign (Mixture [of good and evil]). .. and the advent of Zoroaster. AndRhodanes but the is Hellenizedform. and Abraham'slife is said to have been a "thirdcreation. Thus." 253-8.Mithras (Koenigstein-in-Taunus: Hain. since the Savior. Mithraic acolytesunderwent seven gradesof initiation. "third (son)"-the herowho freedthe in and wherehe waitsuntil dragon's her daughter imprisoned father Damavand. i. It seems the Romansadoptedthe worshipof Mithra Armenia elsewhere Iranized in or in Asia Minorwherethe identical cult in elsewhere the Iranian existed. Ritesof this kindhavesurvived longerin Armenia Kurdistan in and than otherregionsof Iranwherethe centralized orthodoxy sanctioned temporal by q&deg-Hebrew.

oaths. He points out that the sect believed in metempsychosis-as do Khshnumist Zoroastrians. In the Manichaean MS T.15Thus the Babakiya flourished the region." survived there down to the 1915 Genocide (see J. The pact. In Christendom Armenia was a stronghold of heresy from the Paulicians to the Tondrakites. the "false Maitreya" (igid mitrii) whose mount is a bull. J. It is no coincidence that the Ghulat extremists within Shi'ism retain features of ancient Iranianreligion. to maintain bonds of relationship. obviously. "The Mother of All Heresies: A Late Mediaeval ArmenianText on the Yuskaparik. In Plutarch'sDe Iside et Osiride. Mass. the son of God (mitrii burkhan tangrii oghlii). 18..Mysticismand Esotericismamong Zoroastrians 79 rulerscould be enforced. But Professor Mary Boyce showed the sacrifice of a sheep by traditional Zoroastriansas an essential part of the worship of Mithra on the festival devoted to him ("Mihragan among the Irani Zoroastrians. to the well-knownpracticeof the earlierMithraists. 16). Hinnells. II. most recently.andof fighting andtyranny. even in wartime. 1987]. The Ghost Dance rebellion of the Native American Indians. but he is opposed by the demon-son. R. some Sufi Muslims. 106-18). The Spartacists' avowal of the Dionysian cult is the classic example of religion in ancient society as the unifying force for political action by the oppressed. 1 [Manchester. The Origin of the Mithraic Mysteries [Oxford.17 by Mithra the idealyazatato be the focusof suchan order."in J. though the orthodox of all three faiths reject such a doctrine.handis some Sun-god. Amongst the "Avestan"people. The non-Christian sect of the Arewordik'. See G.. Zoroaster uses the word mithra. Maitreya.He is a young. Ivanowbelievedthis to be. 80) (Leiden. 16. which Mithra personifies. Ulansey. 1975].a survival Mithraic of rites. Bianchi. as in primitive societies of the present day. 676. again. Russell. as a common noun meaning "covenant") only . ed. ed. as the Mihr Yasht cautions. is to be kept even with an enemy. Russell. von le Coq. is destined to come. R.16 The Ahl-i Haqqof the sameregionhaveconventicles." APAW 3 (1919): 5.. ch. Hasan Sabbah encountered Mazdakites there. Widengren. G. what would seem to us an inordinateamountof time was spent visiting and offering hospitality.a champion the manlyvirtues keepingone's wordas one's of of evil bond. Mithraic Studies. Harvard Iranian Series 5 [Cambridge. Suchsecretive martial orders served. Mithrasis the intermediarybetween Oromazes and Areimanios-the witness to their agreement that the cosmic battle will have a limited term.andtheritualfeast. 1989]). 180r published by A. who seem to have flourished down to the 19th century (see. It is natural that this be the context for observance of a covenant-one visits unarmed. Zoroastrianism in Armenia.18 waspresent He whenAhura Mazda and 15. A recent writer rejects any substantially Iranianorigin for Mithraism. then the bull might be borrowed from Iranian iconography of the yazata. aneffectiveunifying as forceforpolitical resistanceto domination outsiders. 17. In northwestern Iran.(thus. vol. the Mazdakite heresy of Zoroastrianism persisted for centuries in the vicinity of Alamut fortress after its suppression elsewhere in Iran." REArm [in publication]). "Children of the Sun. arguing that Mithra is not involved in any Iranian sacrifice of bulls (D.M. "Tuerkische Manichaica aus Chotscho.a ritual followed bull-slaying by a communalmeal. and some Jewish Kabbalists. If there is a connection between Mithra and Maitreya. in Widengren reasonably has linkedone of theirrites. "Babakiyah and the Mithraic Mysteries" in U. Josephus' "Fourth Philosophy" of the Zealots who opposed Roman and plutocratic rule in Palestine is another case in point. 1979). Indeed. presents a paradigmaticparallel to the case of the Zealots. with its tenet asserting that White European rule actually made the land impure. Mysteria Mithrae (EPRO vol. R.

It can be proposed that the tauroctony telescopes into one scene both primal and final events-something an icon can do better than a text-suggesting that." Arm. on the northernside of the Alborz that range facing the Caspian. at least a millennium later. 1981). ThIisis reminiscent of the Mithraic cult scene of the tauroctony. Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Armenian Linguistics. Also. ed. for example. The Indic purusa-.'bull'. Russell. With the murderof a bull that sets the living world as we know it in motion. "Dreams and Dreaming in Armenian. In a passage of the Ayadgar i Jama-spigcited by Shaked in his "Esoteric Trends in Zoroastrianism. see J. probablyat Damavand. and the correspondingsacrifice at the end of the world which will prolong human life into infinity. 1930).who sleeps beneath the earth in Pishin. who receives a follower of the Lie in consequence of a covenant between them. Jamaspi (Bombay. Priests. the primal man whose sacrifice gave life to a previously static universe. The word is found in Gatha Ha 50. Lincoln. para. 18. rdz.but the objection is often raised that Mithradoes not sacrifice a bull himself. This is the mountainwhere Faridunimprisoned Azhi Dahaka."and related concepts. we deal with the earliest strata of Indo-Iraniancosmology. 31. and Cattle (Berkeley. Cleveland State University. where Zoroaster asks in his own name that Ahura Mazda. Warriors.. is. which released the cornucopia of life into the invaded universe. and tr. On Phl. eraz. who will emerge in the last days to be slain by Karosaspa. "dream. R. That it will be better than the beginning is an article of faith of the Old Testament prophets carried over to the Qur'an (wa'l-akhiratu khayrunlaka mina'l-awwala. was raz l nihan) at the end of days to a man on the shore of the sea at Padashkhwargar. guide throughVohu Manah the secrets of his speech as he recites manthras. Dhabhar. Greppin. the dying bull of the tauroctony scene is assaultedby variousnoxious creatures-scarcely what one would expect to see at the moment of the purificationand renovation of the universe. N. sacrifice. is sometimes interpreted as being composed of pu."in J. See. as creatorof counsel. Sept.. An English translationof the passage in the Ayddgdr i Jamaspig is provided by B. This seems a mitigating commentaryon a central and rigid aspect of the yazata's function. "secret.will the last. but is bound to receive him nonetheless. 1991 (in press). where the righteous man.'man' and vrsa."it is Mithra who will tell "many hidden secrets"(Phl. exalted at the outset of this Avestan hymn and reflected.5.20 Moreover. great. That the end mirrors the beginning is summed up in Christ's assertion that he is the Alpha and Omega. The idea that a primal event of tragic character prefigures an eschatological redemptive one is a commonplace of Christian typology. 46. which makes him privy to cosmological mysteries. These "secrets"probably involve the strategy of the impending final battle against evil.whose flesh will confer immortalityupon resurrectedmankind. This serpent-mantyrant once in the Gathas: Y. symmetrically. . is allowed to warn his family of their guest's deceitful character. ed. by Plutarch. during the last battle in which Mithraplays an importantrole usher in an etemity of individual immortality.. B. so. "and the End is better for thee than the Beginning").80 Russell Angra Mainyuagreed on the terms of the cosmic battle.6. just as the serial immortalityof the world's creaturesbegan with Ahriman's murderof the primeval Uniquely-CreatedBull. 20. 19.'9 The latter will culminate in the sacrificial offering of the bull Hudayosh. it is near Damavandthat Mithrastands.

divinely-bestowedGlory. imprisonedheroes and monstersproh ably were to erupt from the titanic mountainsin which they had been confined. Cama Oriental Insiltute 54 (1987): 56-72. in the Hindu Kush. in the volcanic cataclysms attendingthe end of this world. is customarily invoked as vouru.E. In Gilgit." When the sun-like. Karasaspaseems to have been introducedsecondarily.22 Thraetaonais more closely identified with bulls than most Avestan heroes. With his anti-cornucopia evils.on the easternperiphery of the Iranian culture-area. R. albeit nonviolently. R. and the monster's faith was identified by the Pahlavi writers with Judaism. "Counsels of Aoshnara the Wise. 21. not to kill him. In folktales of many lands. even for the cowboy culture of the early Iranians. 21 [1988-89]: 471-5). Modem PersianZahhak)is regardedby Zoroastrian present-day as the Pythagorean sum of all possible temporal evils. following a Pahlavi folk-etymology recognized by the Denkard. In the original form of the Iranianlegend.and Thraetaona. Russell. there is a lacuna after six in the MSS. The Andarz i O5nar i danag. means "ten evils.Mithrais the Tertius Legatus. Though the serpent-tyrant's most probably modeled after the Decalogue of the Torah. Mithra. where Karasaspalies. In the Manichaeanpantheon."21 Now the Pahlavi texts tell us Faridunwas cautioned to imprison Dahag.though. and. unfortunately. Nagyr. to help mankind.Mysticismand Esotericismamong Zoroastrians 81 esoterics of the (Phl. perhapsagain indicatingthe perceptionof kinship to Thraetaona. which were acquired by Mithra. the third of three sons is the one who accomplishes a greatdeed and gains glory.gaoyaoiti-. Plainly. rides a bull. is cognate with the Vedic traitana. into which Mithra. since his name. "the third.Arm." groups vices and virtues in successive numbers." It may also be of significance that in Manichaeancosmology it is precisely the divinities of the third creation-to which Mithra here belongs-who intervene in the world. ruler of Gilgit. The Avestan name of the vanquisherof this demonic opposite of the primeval bull. Thraetaona.and Korosaspa fit. 14th century A. But a learnedreason had to be found for Faridunthe dragon-slayernot to get on with it and slay his properdragon. Originallyhe seems to have been the hero of agriculturalists and warriors. perhaps as a device to allow him atonement for accidentally drenching the sacred fire during his adventurewith Azhi Srvara-the slaying of Dahag having "ten evils" are originally been the job of Faridun. "(lord)of wide cow-pastures. Zahhak is the Arabic of Isaac. like Mithra. Russell. and Hunza. on the road through the passes of Afghanistan linking Iran and India (see J. Pakistan.). there is told the tale of Shiri Badat. R. .Faridun. Dahag. departedfrom Yima.wields by a bull-headedmace. He is nurtured a cow. Peshyansai. likewise.Karasaspa. all creation and apocalypse. "Two Armenian Graffiti from Ziarat. should be identified with modernPishin." R. See J.D. lest all manner of noxious creatures swarm from the monster'spuncturedcarcass. it divided into three parts. This is the period when the populous." Journal of the K. Dahag became the Ahrimanic of parallel to the Uniquely-CreatedBull againsta patternof sacrificerand sacrifice. "Our Father Abraham and the Magi. the xvaranab-. the fact cannot be ignored that Zoroastrians believed in numerologyand regardedten as a "perfect" (for a discussion of this number-hence the modem Khshnumistinterpretation sect see below). who is regardedas either the founder or destroyerof the Rais dynasty (ca.

mountshis wonderful horse. 50. 1971). Thus M. hidesin a glacier. introduced all of brothers. plunges on horseback into a pit. 1986). yaksa). Lahore. Before ihe far end of the course draws nigh me. Though like Zahhak's his realm flourished. the deposed king. In Armenia. 0 Ahura. one mightcompare to the Iranian in which Iblis. G. the things of which You are the knower. Dardistan in 1866. 1979). She asks her fatherwherehis soul is. (Note thatin his campaign againstZahhak Fanidun accompanied a commoner. He is held captive by yaksa-like k?ajks. 133.andonly firecankill him. blacksmith is by a namedsimplyKdva The and ["smith"]. 252-4. Tell me. 312 (Vienna. Tribes of the Hindoo Koosh (1880. Ahura. It is in the snow. Thelatter his and whomZahhak staterecalledJamshid. then towards immortality Throughacts of salvation he will make your praise great. northeast Gilgit. Mayrhofer.named Jamshid AzruShamsher. Karachi. three guised as a cook. The youngest. whosenameis givenas eitherMijoChaior Nurbakhsh. It is noteworthy that this reflex of the Iranianlegend contains several details found also at the Western periphery of Iran-in Armenia-but not in Iran itself. He feels the heat. They plot theirescape. . Jettmar.ShiriBadat. repr.who steal from humans just as here. havea childwhosefoot is a horse's hoof.havingdeveloped this taste througha stratagemof his tale cook. 23. of this legend of the overthrow of the tyrant by the hero is the most eloquent argumentpossible for its vast significance as a carrier of the deep religious values of the Iranianpeoples. Russian tr.andjumps over the wall. centralized and with a sparser. Theythrowthe torches downand level the house with iron spades. in quite recognizable and detailed form. from German) (Moscow. morefragmented societyresulting. disthis Zahhakto cannibalism. See J. 1985). ShiriBadat. 9. overthrew. the angels of heaven opposed him because he was a cannibal. Leitner.he falls in love with Shiri to Badat's daughter.23 Whatarethehidden secretsMithra to relate?Whyaretheyhidden?To what is secretsdoes theprophet allude?Theyseemto haveto do withdetailsof escha48 to tologyandmaybe related theversesof Yasna on thesubject: If after these things he conquers the Lie through Truth Whichare the deceitful doctrines of demons and men Moved by violence. at now the winterTalenifestival. Thepeopledig a pit outsidethepalacewalls and light torches. 1886. and K. Biddulph.whohadpossessed Midas-like a goldenhorn. no. he replies. or and slaysa cow withhis bow andarrow is forcedby his brothers eat the liverandkidneys. ShiriBadatkilled the Shin kingShahRais.the yach (cf. and 1893 (1889. he can no longerfly away. Again. peris.havingburrowed underground. 22. The diffusion.Iranisches Personennamenbuch. repr.indeed. only to fall downintothe pit. Religii Gindukusha (rev. arriveat Danyor.was no man but one of a hostilerace of mountain spirits. Skt. Thesearethe sacrificial to portions. W.).I: Die altiranischen Namen.82 Russell stateof the Shinprinceswas obliterated Islamwas introduced. Artawazd.peoplelighttorchesto prevent return. I: 81-2. Conducted the palace. At this point.It is also his said of the yach that they borrowhumanproperty feasts in theirhidden for palace-halls.

0 Mazda.0 Mazda. One also recalls that in Armeniantradition Mithrahimself dwells (or is confined) in a rock-caveuntil the end of time. it is likely that it is these that are to be told on the shore of the sea at Padashkhwargar. Samuelian and M. awaiting the battle at the end of time.25 They maintain there is a place within Damavand with the Perso-Arabic name Firdaws. Yazi adcii asa drujim vangbAii hyal ansaiuita yd daibitana fraoxt&amar>aitt daevaiica maSydiica at toi savais vahmamvaxldt AhurallVaoca moi ya tvam vidhva AhurCa para hyat maiya mang paratbA jimaiti kat asavaiMazda vanghb dragvanwmhd zi angbafii vanguhl vista Akaratii/lAtvaadomnii vahistd sasnanam yam huda sasti asd Ahuro spantd vidhva yaecit guzrti sangbhingbh thwavas Mazda vangbhfi xrathwd manangho. The place seems to have been identified in the Middle Ages with the City of Brass of the Thousand and One Nights (see J. i. BehramshahShroff. are rewarded with rejuvenation. Amongst modern Zoroastrians there is a school of theosophical esotericists. "The Tale of the City of Bronze in Armenian. "These things I ask Thee. to the one who knowsis given the best of the doctrines the Whichi Ahurateaches. is attributedto him.intelligent. In this concentric paradisiacalcity of immortality and joy dwell the religious masters. A historical overview. organized in the 20th century but incorporatingvarious older traditions. 25. holy and wise one. * 0 Ahura. In Yasna 31:14. the City of Kangha. doctrines theseare theprofound Which teachesthrough He Truth: themselves: By the counselof the GoodMind.India. Stone." I have here translatedAga as "Truth"and Vohu Manah as "the Good Mind. which is in the Alborz range. Zoroaster implores God: td thwaya parasi Ahur& zi diti janghad.26 The teacherof the Khshnumists. Probably the latter is to be read as a Middle Iranian toponym." in T. 1984). The construction of another such place. The belief in such a place seems to be derived from the legend. KNKRT in Muslim writings. and explanation of the name are provided by Mary Boyce.he becomeslike You. eds. about the seven palaces of diverse precious stones and metals belonging to Kavi Usan (Phl." though they are as much entities as we have seen. Press. which Siyavosh built near Samarkand in Sogd. In Middle Iraniantradition.e.. 26. Textual Sources for the Study of Zoroastrianism (Manchester Univ.which would certainly have been known to the Sasaniancompiler of the Ayadgar i Jamdspig as the place where Dahag is confined.called 'elm-e khshnum.24 Thus the mysteries of the faith-the "profounddoctrines"-involve knowledge about how to defeat the forces of evil before the end of the course of time.Mysticismand Esotericismamong Zoroastrians 83 the Howwill ihe righteous man. which will come. R. a young Parsiof Suratin Gujarat. Medieval . which are impending. in the ninth book of the Denkard. Russell. The writings of this group are in English and Gujarati. of Now. conquer followerof theLie? For such is knownto be the good conclusion existence. Kavi Haosravah (Persian Kaykhosrow) lives here. Kay Us). the 'dbeds. The only mountainnear the sea with any legendary connection to apocalyptic events is Damavand in the Alborz range (thus named after the Avestan Hara Barazaiti). selection of texts illustrative of their main doctrines. This is the miraculous fortress of immortality (Persian Kang Dez). also. Those who succeed in reaching the place. was induced 24.

000th year since the Creation. When is this? Ahrimaninvaded the world when the Sun was in Aries. of a hidden remnant. nurturedby small. In Plato's Timaeus the two are shaken from a straightline at the cataclysmic moment of creation-a theory most likely derived ultimately from the Zoroastrian cosmogonic myth of Ahriman'sincursion. The Ghost Dance: The Origins of Religion [GardenCity. would be defrosted. In the Mithraeumof SantaPrisca is the famous hexameter.: Scholars Press."Herealso the Ram runsstraighterin line. At a certain point. ceast). which overlooks Lake Van. 1983]. IranianZoroastriansof the Sasanianperiod further identified the CaspianSea with the Avestan Chaechasta(Phl. Univ. 250-61).84 Russell early in this centuryto go thereby a mysterioussheikh he met encampedoutside Peshawar. the Persian ZoroastrianEshraqi mystic of the time of the Mughal emperor Akbar. Damavand and Chaechastaopen and theirrespectivedenizens behold each other.27 Among his teacherswas none other than Azar Kayvan. This astrologicalexplanationon the basis of Iraniancosmology explains when the apocalypticbattle will be.: Doubleday. An instructive example of how such myths can be re-used is the belief of 19th-century Mormons-a Christian sect persecuted in the United States-that the American Indians themselves were the Ten Lost Tribes.Y.e. Eventually Shroff taught his doctrines to a dentist named Chiniwala.when the earthrocked violently and the mountains sprang up to stabilize it." The seasons of the time of Mixtureexist because of the angle of the plane of the ecliptic. When he is expelled. who published them in the form of a voluminous commentary on the Gathas in Gujarati. 1970]. 228). Aries will run straightagain. then. which will emerge for the great redemptivewar at the end of time-whether from the caverns beneath the Caspian. persecutedpeoples. the battle is joined: Mithra is witness to the pact on when that will be. i. grown vast. on the day of Ohrmazdof the month Fravardin. the first.000. The legend of Behramshah Shroff's sojourn in Damavand corresponds to narratives of spirit-traveldescribed in terms of visits to magic mountains.28 Once a year. as it were (presumablyin the great Fire). It may Armenian Culture.Primus et hic aries restrictius ordine currit. as at the first.the first day of Spring in the 6. which intersects the celestial equatoronly at the two equinoxes.sworn to silence for many more. Calif. This has a paallel in the Armenianbelief that the cave of Mher-Mithra. and arrive at the end of time in their teeming multitudes (see Weston La Barre. cf. and that many of them. when the period of gumeziLnwill have run its course. 28. N. Ginzburg. opens once a year on the eve of Ascension Day. But it will open permanently-and Mithrawill emerge-only at the end of time. There he spent a numberof years studying esoteric lore and returned to Surat. . of Pennsylvania Armenian Texts and Studies 6 [Chico. or over the perilous. rock-hurlingriver Sambatyon. 108-9). 1991]. When Spring is unbroken. the trip of a 16th-century Italian accused of witchcraft to the mountain of Venus where Donna Herodias-the goddess of witches-dwelt (see C. it and is a Khshnumistbelief that yet anothersecret community of initiates very much larger than the one in Firdawsdwells beneath its waters. Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath [New York: Pantheon. eternity will resume at the same point where it was interrupted-when the Sun is in Aries in the year at the first. frozen in ice in the far North. The various legends of the Ten Lost Tribes are the prototype of such apocalyptic hopes.. 27.

is the Saka hero of the Shah-name. 87). 900. 1964). he lore of great spiriseems to have prior affinities to other heroes of Indo-Iranian tual stature. Mahmud of Ghazna is said to have complained that the whole epic was about Rostam. 32. Lazard. In a review of previous studies of Rostam. As M. observes that it is common in Persian wisdom literature to endow traditional themes with an allegorical religious sense. Bot parastidan beh az mardom parast. Reagan. who.33 One might add thatboth Rama and Rostam must sacrifice that which they hold most dear. ratherthan compromise his reputation." This linkage of the hero and savior by the weapon they bear is of Avestan antiquity: . See M. Leonardo Alishan reports that Markwartbelieved the mighty Saka to have been a transformed Karasaspa. the king of Turan. "Deux notes sur le Ramayana. the yazata Mithra. Mole.and Rama sends away Sita. Persian Heritage Series (Boulder. and it is an aspect noted with particularhostility by Muslims alien to that tradition. noted by G. xxix. in fact.D." in N. The importanceof the sacrifice has already been noted in the context of cosmology and eschatology.Mysticismand Esotericismamong Zoroastrians 85 be part of Mithra's raz l nihdn-the rest. which were seen. von Grunebaum. Colo. Alishan. and only Rostam can defend Iran against Afrasiyab. rather than any king. Davidson connected him to Apam Napat on the strengthof the etymology of his name. A. 1979). for the sake of their honor as heroes (Rama's ksatriyadharma): Rostam fights and kills his son. and of course the significance of sacrifice and of readiness and ability to perform it could scarcely be 29. I thank my friend Narto for his valuable study. 30. Concepts of the Hero in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance [Albany: SUNY Press."30 The elevation of an epic-and secular-hero to such a position of great spiritualimportanceis characteristicof Iranianculture. "Strongas a river"(which is. to which the poet retortedthat God had created no other creaturelike Rostam. The Wisdom of the Sasanian Sages: Denkard VI. quite a normalsort of Saka name).: Westview Press. as is the case in some other faiths."The Hero in Medieval Arabic Prose. ca. would have none of it. having to do with the battle itself and how it will be fought.Zoroastrianapocalyptic is already plain in the Gathas and is not in itself a secret revelation subsequent to other doctrines. and is most innocent. 33. notably. 11:25. But Abu Salik Gorgani. as we have seen. 31. Les premiers poetes persans [Tehran/Paris. T. with close connections to Mithraand an eschatological role.32 Mole pointed out the similarity of Rostam to the Indian Rama: only Rama can slay the Rakshasa demons. and not the apocalyptic scheme itself. H. Sohrab. by G. E. is in many respects the real hero of the "Book of it is scarcely surprisingthatthe exemplarof piety and virtue in much Iranianand Parsi tradition. Boyce has observed (Elr: APOCALYPTIC). Shaked. Herzfeld saw in him the Vindafarnah (Gondophares) of Kuh-e Khwaja. presumably. "Idolatryis better than the worship of men. one imagines." with the Persian hero-cult in mind (cit. as secret. Burns and C." Collection Latomus 45 (Hommages a Georges Dumezil). He wrote. It is such details. 1960. L. J. 1975]. S. including mysticism.29 Zoroastrian esotericism centers around a martialevent involving. Rostam.31 But Rostam is not only a beloved hero embraced by the mystics. Both possess the weapons of Krsasva/Karasaspa-a figure. I: "L'initiation guerriere de Rama et celle de Rustam. "Rostamica I" (unpublished).ratherthan disobey his sovereign.

for if they prayed.51-63. to the Parsis.S. One has not yet mentioned the most celebrated of Mithraic caves: the one on Ithaka discussed by Porphyry in his De antro nympharum. preserves traditions of the Sasanian period adapted from Zoroastrianism and introduced into Mesopotamia. 69. As mentionedearlier. 1 (1989):. been suggested heretofore that Mithraists might have chosen the cave of Odysseus as one prototype for their spelaea (the other being the one in which Zoroaster himself was supposed to have lived in quiet contemplation) because the Achaean was a hero and also an intimate of Athena. to subsequentdevelopments in Iranianmysticism. S. then. Perhaps the Mandaeanlegend. 34. . including Goshasp. Translatedby E. Rostam is here in very exalted company.86 Russell overestimatedin the Indo-Iranian religious traditions. the atag bahram in Azarbaijanwhich every Sasanian king visited on pilgrimage. Within Iran. The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran (Oxford. Goshasp. derives from Goshnasp. and he was the Lord whom they worshipped. ." in which it is written. Faramarz. . The Pehlawan were mastersof knowledge. a hero in valor (himnat ma pehelvan).A.Avicenna and the Visionary Recital (London.Ram is a name of God. In India.34 There is in the Mandaeanliteraturea text entitled "The Simurgh:The True History of Rustam and His it is plain that and Rostam is seen in the hybrid tradition of the Mandaeans as having been a Zoroastrianmystic. the groom is to be like Rostam. 36. the Saotyant will bear the same mace heroes had used of old to smite villains. "Now Rustam had knowledge of the Sun. the bride is to be like Gusesp (Goshasp). to my knowledge. "L'6pop. the daughterof Rostam's son. Mole. For a discussion of Rostam's descendants in epic. he received. 202. Drower. It has not. no one was able to vanquish them because of the power given to them by Yazdan Pak. 372 f. and in our histories it is writtenthat whateverstrengthRustamasked from the Sun. n. esp. On the wedding song. the marriage contract and blessing. it is suggested that the entire calling of the hero was intrinsicallymystical.e iranienne apres Fird6si. even though the word is a common one for God in New Persian.R. or Khur."35 The Persiandivine names here mean "PureGod(s)"t "Sun". In fact." La Nouvelle Clio 5 (1953): 377-93. whom they named Yazdan Pak. The mention of Yazdan here may be of significance. the cou- . and herself a champion. 1937). the groom is enjoined to be a bringerof sacrifices (zdhr-dword) like Rostam. there were Zoroastrianmystics who followed the Eshraqi in Yasht 19. In a Parsi wedding song in Gujarati based partlyon the Pahlavibenedictioncited. R. and quendly One might link Rostam's granddaughter. see J. Mobad Hoshiyar of Surat tracedhis own descent to Rostam-that exemplar of priestly piety. cited also by H. In the Pahlavi Paymdn i kadag xwadayih." J. "Some Parsi Zoroastrian garbds and mondjats.. of course.36 The Mandaeanlegend serves as perhapsthe best example of how the religious elements inherentin the image of Rostam were subseelaborated strengthened. 35.Zoroastrians believe the latteris our motherand Ohrmazdour father. Corbin. 60. the bride as fertile as Spandarmad. Rostam is an exemplar of the Zoroastrianvirtues. Russell. see M. Her name. 1960). Rustamhad much secret knowledge.

were ever alive to the of danger of the zandig.which were essentially Sufi Muslim with a strong emphasis on light and on Iranianculturalvalues. 39. Shaked. The great dastir MeherjiRana representedthe Good Religion at court. pace Hanson." and "belonging to the Gathas. The Dasdtir is dismissed by many as a forgery. see: S. but many of the texts cited by the author of the Zohar to prove the antiquity and authenticity of his views were nonexistent as well.38 of life. is nothing other than a copy of Iranian models." The latter is the highest. but they adheredto Azar Kayvan's teachings.Mysticismand Esotericismamong Zoroastrians 87 (Illuminist) school of Shaykh Shehabal-Din Sohravardi(d.and the mysteries of the Iranianworld consist in a martialkind of initiation. See L. the Iranian Muslim mystic who claimed to belong to a chain of philosophers going back to Zoroaster and Jamaspa(the courtier of king Vishtaspa). the m6bad from Fars who emigrated to India in the reign of Akbar. tr. including Zoroastrianism.39All this is well and good. Though the Zoroastriantexts do not provide many details of such practices. For a reasoned treatmentof such influence. The War of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness. Massignon." "belonging to that which accompanies the Holy Word. Thus. What has been seen of Zoroastrianmysticism has to do with heroic and pious devotion to duty in a battle which will end when the secret fastnesses of the and world release theirwarriorinhabitants Aries runsstraightagain. it is reasonable to suggest that the text of the Essenes of the Dead Sea region. Shaked has discussed in detail the mannerby which the Pahlavi texts divide the Zoroastrian community into three groups:Dadig. 37. wisest grade. and Gehdnig: "belonging to the Law. .after which one becomes privy to cosmic secrets and eschatological strategies. particularlyin the Sasanianperiod. The emperor's "Divine Faith" (din-e elchi) was intended to unite the higher doctrines of several religions. 1191)." Israel Oriental Studies 2 (1972): 433-46. The Passion of al-Hallaj.the fourth-century adduces examples from variousOrientalculturesof the practiceof vegetarianism pling of religious and martial values is exemplified by the 'ayyriranof medieval literature. Given the primeval antiquity of Zoroastrian apocalyptic and the eschatological and military character of its secret doctrines. cited by M. Mason (Princeton. 1:48. so striking in its departurefrom the styles and concerns of the rest of Jewish literature of the age. there is ample evidence for a spiritual elite amongst the Magi to which they might have been connected. 38.37 These were disciples of Azar Kayvan. a certain striving to transcend normal consciousness and the barriersof space and time. "ray of light") or The Kayvani mystics came from variousbackgroundsand walks Gas'dsbiydn. describes the apocalyptic battle with great precision in terms of Hellenistic military strategy. A. In the final PhoenicianNeoplatonistPorphyry partof his De Abstinentia. "Qumranand Iran:FurtherConsiderations. Yet one would also typically associate with mysticism. regardlessof the religion from which it may spring. Hadamansrig. The Qumranic text. the heretical misinterpreter the holy word. throughan ascetic exercise or other departurefrom normalkinds of activity. 1982). The Dasitfr alludes to this school as Partoviyan (from Persian parti. The Magi. H. The dualistic character of the whole is obvious.D. the behaviorand experience of a prophet and those of a mystic might converge at some points.

knewthe De Abstinentia.again.starting had The hadbeguneatingmeatbecauseAhriman deceivedthem. parents the human race. in Bidezbetweenthe Magi and the Cumont. An antiquated convenienttranslation the whole work by T. Anklesaria. 8.the give the teachesthat.1956]. One has some respects. subsequently community a whole.11 and 102.On at from Animal Food. Pahlavi text Bundahiln 220.Mages Hellenises 1:23).in animals notdomestic ones is a practice Eatingwild.andplainbread.cautions and bearing. Bidez andF. 14. One sensesalso in theZoroasthan triantradition certain to animals. the cow or i. p. 41.thoughthe former thatthe Pahlavibooksseparately the Magi and call them three "philosophies"(Schol.Fora of animalmightwell the Zorastrianinclined towards asceticism. numists. The secondgradeeat only game.I:26of but 8. 283-4. was reprinted Londonin 1965 (see esp. it is perhaps to as in Arabic. 386. (Philadelphia: Les 40.of cosmogonyandapocalypse. The thirdgrade. like andwill notconsume fleshof thekindly. thereare ttueegradesof Magi. accordwith taditionalZoroastrian Iranian to and attaching thehunt notedtheparticular-and enduring-prestige reverence in Iranandits lingustic echo in the eschatological literature Qumran.Thus. I:122a. only certain eat in theirnext incarnation.16:text in J.domesticanimals thecow and the theirmilkandwool. Greater Iranianor GreaterBunZand-Ak4sih: in with Englishtranslation B. he says (citing Eubulus. the fleshof wIldbeasts.40 In Persia.thePahlavitextsspeakapprovingly Zoroastrianism-in the dualcontext. As to the distinction and as fittingto note thatin Aramaic.who serveus by providing animals.nevera farstling-thatit meritsa placeamongthe tenevil comStone.theZoroastrians a wholewerereferred as "Magians.42 17th-century Persian treatiseDabesltin-e mazaheb. the cosaic drama theGathas of and in the thirdbook of the Denkard.e. .bethe sheep.hunted but and values. whichwould. 1984). the slaughter young animalsby the sacrificing onlya Jewsis regarded suchextreme with repugnance-Zoroastrians mature animal. meatof a hunted be moreacceptable thatof a domesticone. Cumont. 167).88 Russell by wise men.menwill gradually up all Bundahign the of withmeat:Mashya Mashyane. and food.towards endof time. "Apocalyptic Literature"in his Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period FortressPress. Taylor. n.41 frommeatonlyon thefourdaysof themonth consecrated carnivores abstain and and to the divineprotectors the animalkingdom fora few daysfollowingthe of of of deathof a member thefamily. Mages Hellenises(Paris.." domesticated usefulto the livelihoodof men.In Yasna29 a hesitation kill andeat domestic of shiftsto earthwiththecryof the Cow for help.15-221. It seemsmost unlikelythatthe author of thisdetailmaybe independent confirmation an authentic of practice Zoroastrianesotericistswhich survivedin some form down the centuriesin Iran. referthese to the class of affirm. Abstinence perhapsthe same The Greeksources are awareof divisions withinZoroastrianism. 131)." Mage Hellenises1:67. dahign [Bombay.9-103.who was an expert on Mithraism). T.1 (transcribed 42. theirsoulsbe punished lest lievingin metempsychosis. Alc. which describes the Zoroastrian Khshespoused themodern by Eshraqiyan anticipates and manyof thedoctrines "lifeagainsteatingthe flesh of animalswhicharezendebar. Thoseof the highestgradeabstain fromall meat.thatis. IV.DiogenesLaertius states thatthe highestMagi ate mostParsisareconfirmed Although only vegetables. so the horse.1938). cheese.

In this one might perceive the adaptationof the ways common among mystics to the Zoroastrianethic of the mean. conquers their natureand it refuses nourishment. 54 (1987): 61. The source of creation is the unmanifest and transcendentbeing called Ahu. "OurFather Abraham and the Magi. Their spiritual striving found its symbolism in the martial heroism of Rostam. Professor Philip Kreyenbroek translatedndbairigta. But they will discuss its origins. the Denkard warns that refusing all food is as much a sin againstKhordad and Amordad(the divinities of the waters and plants) as gluttony. 299:16-20. Perhapsin response to the extreme asceticism of some Indian religious practices. text p. Dk. Faridun. 7. apparentlyby reason of a fleeting moment of envy or doubt. 332.000 years the world is annihilated and a new one comes into being. I am indebted for much information on 'elm-e khshnum to Mrs. Dk.Mysticismand Esotericismamong Zoroastrians 89 mandments of Zahhak promulgated in opposition to the ten noble ones of Jamshid. one imagines. 1:3: Manthro spanto drujamnizbairisto. de Menasce. 288. The Khshnumist justification for the origin of evil in this cosmology lies in a reading of the Srosh Yasht Hadhokht (Yasht 11). Modem Khshnumists counsel silence on one particularsubject: that of the purpose of evil in the world. 44.O. who generates a series of emanations. Silloo Mehta of Bombay. One-fourthof the Soul becomes Angra Mainyu.comes an egg (anhumna) which is called MazdaAhura. and her family.C. they found an intensified sense of nearnessto a God alreadyknown and manifestin His world. time is not linear but cyclical: every 81. perhaps. The mystics in the Zoroastrian community can scarcely have been very differentin outwardappearance pracor tice from the rest of theirco-religionists--except. According to their cosmology. the Destructive Spirit.for the very learnedor sagacious-in leading the vigorous. Out of the soul (ruwan) of the sacred Gathas. But before withdrawingto a pious vita contemplativa. Russell. ethical life of earthly pleasure and uncompromising struggle against evil. On the source of the evil spirit. "The Sacred Word brings down most the spirimainLyovim tual Lie.I. In all these things. the apocalyptic conclusion of the war against Ahriman which every Zoroastrian wages in every ritual and with every uttered manthra or act of charity. The cosmic egg then divides into Perception (baod) and Soul.43 The sixth book of the Denkard contains an anecdote describing two aged mobaddn who live in seclusion and simplicity-much as Zoroasteris alleged in Greek tradition to have lived-chanting the Avesta and eating only vegetable food. para.correctly as "that which best removes.these two had fulfilled all the obligations of earthly work and procreationincumbentupon every Zoroastrian. India. R. In the Khshnumist view these are the Twins (yama) to which Yasna 30 alludes. and the god Mithra.M. vol."44 In his study of the texts on Sraosha. 1973). her explanation is in . and the secrets towards which their practices guided them involved. and AhuraMazda is emanatedfrom thence. the demoness of lust.S." J. whilst out of Perceptionemerges the Soul of the Sacred Word (manthraspanta). See J." which gives the 43. People die when Az. 285 and J. Le Troisieme Livre du Denkart (Paris. in large part. the Staota Yesnya ("Liturgyof Praise").

. set the meaning of all human striving and virtue at naught. the present-day Khshnumists are frequently the most pious members of their communities in accord with that of Tavaria's printed exposition (pp. ZoroastrianabjuPost-Sasaniancondemnationof the dahrig heresy in a standard ration. The magousaioiof fourth-century Cappadociawho espoused it were probablythe descendants of Persian colonists. Dara Shikoh was also a patronof Eshraqimystics such as the IranianJew Sarmad. both representedit simply as the Persianreligion itself.90 Russell text." 47. The doubt or envy which creates Ahrimanand enables him to emerge from the egg/womb earlierthanOhrmazdmust be seen as a restatement.kundalini! 46."45 Cyclical time. ignorance. but Zartost Asfantaman has not ascribed falsehood. such as Armenia. perfidy. and Sogd. also the statement in the Zoroastrianpolemic. Yoga Vasistha."46It is also striking that Zurvanism does not seem to have been prominent in other countries where Zoroastrianismexisted. The translatorof the Upanisads. Our information on the magousaion ethnos in Cappadocia comes from a letter of A. . There is no evidence to suggest that the Zurvanites deviated in the slightest of degree from the requirements Zoroastrian orthopraxy. and deceit to the nature of God. This cosmology displays aspects of Hinduism. a meaning diametricallyopposite the one imputed to it by the Khshnumistreading. Indeed. oppression. "the All. He was killed by his brother Aurangzeb in 1660. for deeds are the truestexpression of his affirin mation of AhuraMazdaand of his participation the dualistic. 'Olama-ye Esldm (Dhabhar. though the word is simply a Pahlavicized form of the Arabic for "Zurvanite. 445): "The sect which opposes our Good Religion contradicts our propositions and says that good and evil are from God. One is reduced to silence. Persian Rivayats." these being Indian and Muslim wisdom (cf. they claim a certain Zarnouasas the founder of their race" (see M. Basil. not his beliefs. Hinduism looms fairly large in Khshnumist explanations of the Avesta. The cosmic egg. though an extremely ancient concept. Parthia. 377 of St. 18-20). but also about the purposeof good. it is very much the function of a Zoroastrianmanthra to destroy lies.was so influentialin SasanianIranthat the fifth-century Armenian theologian Eznik Kolbac'i and the historian Elishe. cited also by Boyce. which Dara Shikoh rendered into Persian as barhmdndand explained as the Arabic kull. may refer to fatalism in general. not only about the purposeof evil (as though there were one). the sin of Karasaspawas explained to me as his awakening Azhi (Dahaka)-who is the serpent-power of yoga and tantra. the Perso-Muslim syncretism of the Sufi poets noted above).D. of course. Indeed. Textual Sources. resembles the brahmanda. Thus. The idea that Zurvan-Infinite Time-was the common origin. with theosophicaland Indianelaborations. at least a centuryafter him.of the ancient theories of Zurvanism. cosmic struggle. . 45. Cf. Bishop of Caesarea. and Bhagavad Gita. seems wholly at variance with the clear Zoroastrian exposition of the linear dramaof the universe and would. the mother and fatherof both Ohrmazdand Ahriman. Prince Dara is known also for his work Majma' albahrayn. who alludes to their Zurvanism in a rather garbled form: ".47 The Good Religion lays primaryemphasis on a man's deeds. for example. "Confluence of the two Seas. indeed. which is still commonly recited.

3 [Handbuch der Orienialistik 1. I was informed by Mrs.21 [Leiden. vol. therefore. 1991). if painfully. a role for evil. "Une asc6tisme moral dans les livres pehlevis?" R. Weber. Hence it is hoped that. Russell. Corolla Iranica: Fesischrift D. R. there is some reflection of this attitude in the Pahlavi literature. Mole. Terms such as orthodoxy and heresy. The Pahlavi doxology is discussed in J. who are agden.are inadequate to describe the religious situation where Zurvanite ideas are concerned. MacKenzie (Frankfurt. 155 (1959): 154. 50. Of course. consolingly. of 12 August 1989). Their relative misfortune had to be viewed as a matter of predetermined fate. Boyce. 277-8).Mysticismand Esotericismamong Zoroastrians 91 India and the West. and saved. They should not intermarry. either in SasanianIranor in the modem world.R. N. A History of Zoroastrianism. this manifestationof the world will enjoy the arrivalof a Savior. This changed attitude may reflect an obvious historicaldevelopment:Zoroasterwished to convert all mankind to his faith and found the pagan practices against which he strove wholly repellent and unworthy. by contrast. we deal not with logic but with matters of the heart.where the destructiveforce of Time is allowed the mitigating purpose of bringing about the death of evil beings. including the Khshnumists themselves. that the recitation of the prayer Citbrambuydd will hasten the coming of Sosyans. It is fairly plain from Zoroaster'sown words that they are to be consigned utterly to oblivion. One could scarcely shut the doors of salvation throughthe Good Religion to them and consign them to eternal damnationbecause those doors were shut. burned away by molten iron. all of which is stoutly predicated on an absolute dualism. 127-32. 49. if mysterious. with little impulse to proselytize. Emmerick and D. about apocalypse? If the world will be remade after it ends.H. and the infinite repetition of the worlds. Although the rituals of purity and the ethical tenets of the Good Religion have undoubtedbenefits for the practitioner. whilst maintainingprimal unity. In fact. surrounded otherpeoples of high cultureand unquestionby able morality. what does it matterwhen and how the end will happen? This theoretical inconsistency seems to be of a piece with the ethical inconsistency of maintaining Zoroastrian orthopraxy. but a later Pahlavi doxology states that the wicked-and this includes all non-Zoroastrians. that evil may have some useful.2. who might otherwise exist deathless and unchanging. eds. role to play in Creation. 48.48 It is supposed.50 It may be supposed. even in the abyss of infinity. "of evil religion"-will be purified. But is not the Khshnumistrejection of primal dualism and of a linear universe inconsistent with the intense concern amongstZoroastrian esotericists.1. Mehta in a conversation that the Khshnumists consider people of different faiths as born under the influences of different planets. Mehta informed me (written comm. any more than one planet ought to risk .49 There seems to be some inconsistency in Zoroastriantraditionabout the fate of the wicked at the time of the Last Judgment. 1991]. Mrs. followers of a religion largely limited to those of Iranianorigin.8.. Zoroaster'sbold vision of Ahriman's onslaught may provide little comfort for weaker souls faced with tragedy and loss in a world where Good shows no sign of overcoming Evilwhere the Parousia has not come about. The Sasanians found themselves. "The Do'a-ye Nam Stayisn" in R. a view the Khshnumists maintain. See M. for instance.

ku agar td-.insofaras it is distinct from God."To hold oneself as a possession of the yazatas is this. the sole Existent being (hastl). true. "Ahura Mazda. invoking as the protectorof prayer Shah Lohrasp to guard the worshiper's thoughtsagainst distractionor temptation. or positions of the hands. of the Sasanian high priest Adurbadi we Amahraspandan. binding. cognition. darosa. while the tips of the fingers of the right hand meet the tip of the thumb. The Khshnumists explain this as an injunction to remind oneself of the five inner qualities of the mind (panj zarvekag-ebdilini):association. perhaps in part because it is powerful. The mystic often describes his devotion in terms of willing slavery to God or passionate self-sacrifice for His sake.92 Russell indeed.bazkalarac ("with arms outstretched").5' Zoroastriandaily prayers. One is enjoined in Yasna 28:1 to pray orans-Avestan ustanazasta-as Zoroasterhimself does. the Ahuna Vairya. thatin infinite futureuniversesevery reincarnated soul will at some point be Zoroastrian. The Khshnumistsattendto their prayerswith particular devotion. The Armenian name of the orans attitude. coordination." In the Patet.Aga sraeJta.may be a calque on the Avestan expression. and now the Khshnumists. and an intermediarybetween this world and the spiritual realms. Hence this world's true nature. az an e rasadku in tan ruwanra be abayeddadan.are also employed. Aga Vahigta. let us come to Thee. In the recitationof the greatmanthra of Creation. This theory corresponds to the ancient Near Eastern belief that each nation is under the influence of a particularsign of the zodiac. the worshiper's separate existence is annihilated. Certain mudras. Above secret doctrinesor ascetic practicesor daham. five times of prayerdaily). recite the Persian mantra. The Kayvanis. (one declares) 'I give it up!"' In Yasna 60:12 one finds words expressing not so much self-sacrifice as a passionatelonging for closeness to God: Ahura Mazda. of course. It is common to keep a portraitof this Avestan and epic figure at one's customaryplace of prayerat home. The practice may derive from the venerablelegend that the yazata Drvaspaprotected the infant Zoroasteragainst the assaults of Ahriman. pairi thwa jamydma. Perhaps this means that the right receives and the left retains. best Truth. "There is no being but God. such as the Sro( bdj. dependingon God's dispensation. If it comes to the point when this body has to be given up for the soul's sake.and creativity. Nlst hastl be-joz yazddn. and a calque in its phrasing. Truth most beautiful! Let us behold Thee. is the posture of prayer amongst Christians also. 51. recognition. read:Xwecih yazddndaStan bawed. let us be in Thy intimate company!" The Khshnumistshave perceived these prayerfulexaltations in part through the teachings of the Muslim mystics: in the presence of God. .nathwd. is nonexistence (nlsta). This. of the Muslim collision with another by entering its orbit. bamomthwa haxma. the left hand is closed in a fist over the thumb." which may perhaps be seen as a philosophical extension. of course. often require five consecutive recitationsof the Ahuna Vairya(there are. or Confessional. Canonical Zoroastriantexts speak of the ultimate devotion of the believer as becoming xwegih l yazdan "propertyof the yazatas. A prayer itself is called a mithra.the vehicle of the mystic is prayer.

theyallowthemselves AzarKayvan's discipleKhoda wrotein his Mokashefat-e Ju'i Kayvani.andto havetelescoped Creation the end of daysinto a singleact of and sacrificein whichthe heroicgod Mithra mightbe contemplated. These thingsare interwoven with his own earthlydutiesand religious devotions-for prayers possess a powereven as deeds do. Which seems more advantageous to you: that I fashion you in the material world and you contend in bodily form with the Lie and you destroy the Lie. Ohrmazd with the Amahraspandsperformed a spiritual yasna ceremony.the Answer. having granted mankind omniscient wisdom.then. and for the sake of the healthy and immortal return to the material being of the Final Body forever and ever. declared thebeginning Timeandwhichwill at of still be trueat the last. forever undying and unaging.Ld iliha illd Allah. ordeals andinitiations the Mihraistsandtheirsuccessors the Iranian of on seem plateau to haveenabledthecandidate partake thisdrama the universe several to of of in stages. exemplified the greatwarriors epic. all deriveultimately of that fromthe 52. He deliberated with the consciousness and spirit (boy ud frawahr) of humanity. he asked.and the stagesandmysteries the Creation follow.mast-ealast. through that omniscient wisdom. and in the end I restore you healthy and deathless and create you in material form anew. we bear witness to it-lest you say on the day of Resurrection.andgood deeds. or should there be made for you eternal protection against the incursion? And the spirits of mankind saw. A Zoroastrian mystic is bothhumble exalted. The Sufi leaptin ecstaticdance." . notably of by Rostam.52His wine and his joy.Indeed we were unaware of this." For a Zoroastrian. the mystic traditionis the revelationof the time and character of the end of days. GreaterBundahign 3.Mysticism Esotericism and amongZoroastrians 93 is credo." Cf. which would arrive in the material world on account of him and the fmal removal of his deleterious opposition. Ahriman. and of a mild asceticismin the twilightof an active and virtuouslife. the evil that is from the Lie. "When the souls departed fromAhura Mazdaon theirmissionto fightwith the evil in thismatenral world."for attachment nothing to saveGod. The devotionsof in prayer absorption thecosmicdrama and in placetheZoroastrian a heroicrole.of the joys of wine.the Zoroastrian mightavail himself of prayer. xwegihi of whichtheBundahiLn yazd4an.good words."TMere no god butGod.theyweremuchgrieved theirseparation. Yes. intoxicated the greatQuestion by "AmI not yourLord?" whichthe soulsof menanswered to "Wetestifyto it!" before Creation. the Question. and.23-4: "In the hour of the noon watch.and the sacredgeography the of of earth. and during its performance He made all the creatures. and and The self-sacrificing greatin strength. "taveler.Khshnumist devoteesare given the approving Perso-Arabic sobriquet sclek. and you will have no more enemy. they consented to go into the material world. with mysAs tics elsewhere." Like Sufis. Ahura at but Mazda consoledthemby sayingtheycouldtalkwithHimthrough and prayers see His resplendent presencein theirpurehearts. Am I not your Lord (alastu bi-rabbikum)? they said. Sura 7:172: "And when your Lord held from the sons of Adan and made them to testify on themselves. Pervading this was the certainty the ultimate all of transcendence. the strategy the battle.

of Harvard University . sourceof thatfaith:theGathas Zoroaster. Russell. revelatory of JamesR.94 Russell mystical practices-andorthodox doctrine-of theGoodReligion Iran.Department Near EasternLanguagesand Civilizations. of rooted in theprimal.

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