Zoroaster and the Zend-Avesta

IN the southwestern part of Persia is the lovely valley of Schiraz, in the province of Farsistan, which is the ancient Persis. Through the long spring and summer the plains are covered with flowers, the air is laden with perfume, and the melody of birds, winds and waters fills the ear. The fields are covered with grain, which ripens in May ; the grapes, apricots, and peaches are finer than those of Europe. The nightingale (or bulbul) sings more sweetly than elsewhere, and the rosebush, the national emblem of Persia, grows to the size of a tree, and is weighed down by its luxuriant blossoms. The beauty of this region and the loveliness of the women of Schiraz awakened the genius of Hafiz and of Saadi, the two great lyric poets of the East, both of whom resided here.

At one extremity of this valley, in the hollow of a crescent formed by rocky hills, thirty miles northwest of Schiraz, stands an immense platform, fifty feet high above the plain, hewn partly out of the mountain itself, and partly built up with gray marble blocks from twenty to sixty feet long, so nicely fitted together that the joints can scarcely be detected. This platform is about fourteen hundred feet long by nine hundred broad, and its faces front the four quarters of the heavens. You rise from the plain by flights of marble steps, so broad and easy that a procession on horseback could ascend them. By these you reach a landing, where stand as sentinels two colossal figures sculptured from great blocks of marble. The one horn in the forehead seems to Heeren to indicate the Unicorn; the mighty limbs, whose muscles are carved with the precision of the Grecian chisel, induced Sir Robert Porter to believe that they represented the sacred bulls of the Magian religion ; while the solemn, half-human repose of the features suggests some symbolic and supernatural meaning. Passing these sentinels, who have kept their solitary watch for centuries, you ascend by other flights of steps to the top of the terrace. There stand, lonely and beautiful, a few gigantic columns, whose lofty fluted shafts and elegantly carved capitals belong to an unknown order of architecture. Fifty or sixty feet high, twelve or fifteen feet in circumference, they, with a multitude of others, once supported the roof of cedar, now fallen, whose beams stretched from capital to capital, and which protected the assembled multitudes from the hot sun of Southern Asia. Along the noble upper stairway are carved rows of figures, which seem to be ascending by your side. They represent warriors, courtiers, captives, men of every nation, among whom may be easily distinguished the negro from the centre of Africa. Inscriptions abound, in that strange arrow-headed or wedge-shaped character — one of the most ancient and difficult of all — which, after long baffling the learning of Europe, has at last begun to yield its sense to the science and acuteness of the present century. One of the inscriptions copied from these walls was read by Grotefend as follows : —

“ Darius the King, King of Kings, son of Hystaspes, successor of the Ruler of the World, Djemchid.”

Another: —

“Xerxes the King, King of Kings, son of Darius the King, successor of the Ruler of the World.”

More recently, other inscriptions have been deciphered, one of which is thus given by another German Orientalist, Benfey 1 : —

“Ahura-Mazda (Ormazd) is a mighty God ; who has created the earth, the heaven, and men ; who has given glory to men ; who has made Xerxes king, the ruler of many. I, Xerxes, King of Kings, king of the earth near and far, son of Darius, an Achaemenid. What I have done here, and what I have done elsewhere, I have done by the grace of Ahura-Mazda.”

In another place : —

“ Artaxerxes the King has declared that this great work is done by me. May Ahura-Mazda and Mithra protect me, my building, and my people.”2

Here, then, was the palace of Darius and his successors, Xerxes and Artaxerxes, famous for their conquests, — some of which are recorded on these walls, — who carried their victorious arms into India on the east, Syria and Asia Minor on the west, but even more famous for being defeated at Marathon and Thermopylae. By the side of these columns sat the great kings of Persia, giving audience to ambassadors from distant lands. Here, perhaps, sat Cyrus himself, the founder of the Persian monarchy, and issued orders to rebuild Jerusalem. Here the son of Xerxes, the Ahasuerus of Scripture, may have brought from Susa the fair Esther. For this is the famous Persepolis, and on those loftier platforms, where only ruinous heaps of stones now remain, stood that other palace, which Alexander burned in his intoxication three hundred and thirty years before Christ. “ Solitary in their situation, peculiar in their character,” says Heeren, “these ruins rise above the deluge of years which has overwhelmed all the records of human grandeur around them, and buried all traces of Susa and Babylon. Their venerable antiquity and majestic proportions do not more command our reverence, than the mystery which involves their construction awakens the curiosity of the most unobservant spectator. Pillars which belong to no known order of architecture, inscriptions in an alphabet which continues an enigma, fabulous animals which stand as guards at the entrance, the multiplicity of allegorical figures which decorate the walls, — all conspire to carry us back to ages of the most remote antiquity, over which the traditions of the East shed a doubtful and wandering light.”

Diodorus Siculus says that at Persepolis, on the face of the mountain, were the tombs of the kings of Persia, and that the coffins had to be lifted up to them along the wall of rock by cords. And Ctesias tells us that “Darius, the son of Hystaspes. had a tomb prepared for himself in the double mountain during his lifetime, and that his parents were drawn up with cords to see it, but fell and were killed.” These very tombs are still to be seen on the face of the mountain behind the ruins. The figures of the kings are carved over them. One stands before an altar on which a fire is burning. A ball representing the sun is above the altar. Over the effigy of the king hangs in the air a winged half-length figure in fainter lines, and resembling him. In other places he is seen contending with a winged animal like a griffin.

All this points at the great Iranic religion, the religion of Persia and its monarchs for many centuries, the religion of which Zoroaster was the great prophet, and the Zend-Avesta the sacred book. The king, as servant of Ormazd, is worshipping the fire and the sun, — symbols of the god ; he resists the impure griffin, the creature of Ahriman ; and the half-length figure over his head is the surest evidence of the religion of Zoroaster. For, according to the Zend-Avesta, every created being has its archetype or Fereuer (Ferver, Fravashis), which is its ideal essence. first created by the thought of Ormazd. Even Ormazd himself has his Fravashis, 3 and these angelic essences are everywhere objects of worship to the disciple of Zoroaster. We have thus found in Persepolis, not only the palace of the great kings of Persia, but the home of that most ancient system of Dualism, the system of Zoroaster.

But who was Zoroaster, and what do we know of him ? He is mentioned by Plato, about four hundred years before Christ. In speaking of the education of a Persian prince, he says that “one teacher instructs him in the magic of Zoroaster, the son (or priest) of Ormazd (or Oromazes), in which is comprehended all the worship of the gods.” He is also spoken of by Diodorus, Plutarch, the elder Pliny, and many writers of the first centuries after Christ. The worship of the Magians is described by Herodotus before Plato. Herodotus gives very minute accounts of the ritual, priests, sacrifices, purifications, and mode of burial used by the Persian Magi in his time, four hundred and fifty years before Christ; and his account closely corresponds with the practices of the Pârsîs, or fire-worshippers, still remaining in one or two places in Persia and India at the present day. “ The Persians,” he says, “ have no altars, no temples nor images ; they worship on the tops of the mountains. They adore the heavens, and sacrifice to the sun, moon, earth, fire, water, and winds.”4 “They do not erect altars, nor use libations, fillets, or cakes. One of the Magi sings an ode concerning the origin of the gods, over the sacrifice, which is laid on a bed of tender grass.” “ They pay great reverence to all rivers, and must do nothing to defile them ; in burying they never put the body in the ground till it has been torn by some bird or dog ; they cover the body with wax, and then put it in the ground.” “ The Magi think they do a meritorious act when they kill ants, snakes, reptiles,” &c.5

Plutarch’s account of Zoroaster 6 and his precepts is very remarkable. It is as follows : —

“Some believe that there are two Gods, — as it were, two rival workmen ; the one whereof they make to be the maker of good things, and the other bad. And some call the better of these God, and the other Dæmon ; as doth Zoroastres, the Magee, whom they report to be five thousand years elder than the Trojan times. This Zoroastres therefore called the one of these Oromazes, and the other Arimanius; and affirmed, moreover, that the one of them did, of anything sensible, the most resemble light, and the other darkness and ignorance ; but that Mithras was in the middle betwixt them. For which cause, the Persians called Mithras the mediator. And they tell us that he first taught mankind to make vows and offerings of thanksgiving to the one, and to offer averting and feral sacrifice to the other. For they beat a certain plant called homomy 7 in a mortar, and call upon Pluto and the dark ; and then mix it with the blood of a sacrificed wolf, and convey it to a certain place where the sun never shines, and there cast it away. For of plants they believe, that some pertain to the good God, and others again to the evil Daemon ; and likewise they think that such animals as dogs, fowls, and urchins, belong to the good ; but water animals to the bad, for which reason they account him happy that kills most of them. These men, moreover, tell us a great many romantic things about these gods, whereof these are some : They say that Oromazes, springing from purest light, and Arimanius on the other hand, from pitchy darkness, these two are therefore at war with one another. And that Oromazes made six gods, 8 whereof the first was the author of benevolence, the second of truth, the third of justice, and the rest, one of wisdom, one of wealth, and a third of that pleasure which accrues from good actions ; and that Arimanius likewise made the like number of contrary operations to confront them. After this, Oromazes, having first trebled his own magnitude, mounted up aloft, so far above the sun as the sun itself above the earth, and so bespangled the heavens with stars. But one star (called Sirius or the Dog) he set as a kind of sentinel or scout before all the rest. And after he had made fourand-twenty gods more, he placed them all in an egg-shell. But those that were made by Arimanius (being themselves also of the like number) breaking a hole in this beauteous and glazed eggshell, bad things came by this means to be intermixed with good. But the fatal time is now approaching, in which Arimanius, who by means of this brings plagues and famines upon the earth, must of necessity be himself utterly extinguished and destroyed ; at which time, the earth, being made plain and level, there will be one life, and one society of mankind, made all happy, and one speech. But Theopompus saith, that according to the opinion of the Magees, each of these gods subdues, and is subdued by turns, for the space of 'three thousand years apiece, and that for three thousand years more they quarrel and fight and destroy each other’s works ; but that at last Pluto shall fail, and mankind shall be happy, and neither need food, nor yield a shadow.9 And that the god who projects these things doth, for some time, take his repose and rest; but yet this time is not so much to him although it seems so to man, whose sleep is but short. Such, then, is the mythology of the Magees.”

We shall see presently how nearly this account corresponds with the religion of the Pârsîs, as it was developed out of the primitive doctrine of Zoroaster. 10

Besides what was known through, the Greeks, and some accounts contained in Arabian and Persian writers, there was, until the middle of the last century, no certain information concerning Zoroaster and his teachings. But the enterprise, energy, and scientific devotion of a young Frenchman changed the whole aspect of the subject, and we are now enabled to speak with some degree of certainty concerning this great teacher and his doctrines.

Anquetil du Perron, born at Paris in 1731, devoted himself early to the study of Oriental literature. He mastered the Hebrew, Arabic, and Persian languages, and by his ardor in these studies attracted the attention of Oriental scholars. Meeting one day in the Royal Library with a fragment of the ZendAvesta, he was seized with the desire of visiting India, to recover the lost books of Zoroaster, “ and to learn the Zend language, in which they were written, and also the Sanskrit, so as to be able to read the manuscripts in the Bibliothèque du Roi, which no one in Paris understood.”11 His friends endeavored to procure him a situation in an expedition just about to sail ; but their efforts not succeeding, Du Perron enlisted as a private soldier, telling no one of his intention till the day before setting out, lest he should be prevented from going. He then sent for his brother and took leave of him with many tears, resisting all the efforts made to dissuade him from his purpose. His baggage consisted of a little linen, a Hebrew Bible, a case of mathematical instruments, and the works of Montaigne and Charron. A ten days’ march, with other recruits, through wet and cold brought him to the port from whence the expedition was to sail. Here he found that the government, Struck with his extraordinary zeal for science, had directed that he should have his discharge and a small salary of five hundred livres. The East India Company (French) gave him a passage gratis, and he set sail for India, February 7, 1755, being then twenty-four years old. The first two years in India were almost lost to him for purposes of science, on account of his sicknesses, travels, and the state of the country disturbed by war between England and France.12 He travelled afoot and on horseback over a great part of Hindostan, saw the worship of Juggernaut and the monumental caves of Ellora, and, in 1759, arrived at Surat, where was the Pârsî community from which he hoped for help in obtaining the object of his pursuit. By perseverance and patience he succeeded in persuading the Destours, or priests, of these fire-worshippers, to teach him the Zend language and to furnish him with manuscripts of the Zend-Avesta. With one hundred and eighty valuable manuscripts he returned to Europe, and published, in 1771, his great work, — the Zend-Avesta translated into French, with notes and dissertations. He lived through the French Revolution, shut up with his books, and immersed in his Oriental studies, and died, after a life of continued labor, in 1805. Immense erudition and indomitable industry were joined in Anquetil du Perron to a pure love of truth and an excellent heart.

For many years after the publication of the Zend-Avesta, its genuineness and authenticity were a matter of dispute among the learned men of Europe ; Sir William Jones especially denying it to be an ancient work, or the production of Zoroaster. But almost all modern writers of eminence now admit both. Already in 1826 Heeren said that these books had “stood the fiery ordeal of criticism.” “ Few remains of antiquity,” he remarks, “have undergone such attentive examination as the books of the Zend-Avesta. This criticism has turned out to their advantage ; the genuineness of the principal compositions, especially of the Vendidad and Izeschne (Yacna), has been demonstrated ; and we may consider as completely ascertained all that regards the rank of each book of the ZendAvesta.”

Rhode (one of the first of scholars of his time in this department) says : “ There is not the least doubt that these are the books ascribed in the most ancient times to Zoroaster.” Of the Vendidad, he says : “It has both the inward and outward marks of the highest antiquity, so that we fear not to say that only prejudice or ignorance could doubt it.”13

As to the age of these books, however, and the period at which Zoroaster lived, there is the greatest difference of opinion. He is mentioned by Plato (Alcibiades, I. 122), who speaks of “the magic (or religious doctrines) of Zoroaster the Ormazdian ” (��������i���� —Zɔ����á�������� ���� ᾩ������á������). 14 As Plato speaks of his religion as something established in the form of Magism, or the system of the Medes, in West Iran, while the Avesta appears to have originated in Bactria, or East Iran,15 this already carries the age of Zoroaster back to at least the sixth or seventh century before Christ. When the Avesta was written, Bactria was an independent monarchy. Zoroaster is represented as teaching under King Vislaçpa. But the Assyrians conquered Bactria (B. C. 1200,) which was the last of the Iranic kingdoms, they having previously vanquished the Medes, Hyrcanians, Parthians, Persians, &c. As Zoroaster must have lived before this conquest, his period is taken back to a still more remote time, about B. c. 1300 or B. C. 1250.16 It is difficult to be more precise than this. Bunsen indeed 17 suggests that “the date of Zoroaster, as fixed by Aristotle, cannot be said to be so very irrational. He and Eudoxus, according to Pliny, place him six thousand years before the death of Plato ; Hermippus, five thousand years before the Trojan war,” or about B. C. 6300 or B. c. 6350. But Bunsen adds : “ At the present stage of the inquiry the question whether this date is set too high cannot be answered either in the negative or affirmative.” Spiegel, in one of his latest works,18 considers Zoroaster as a neighbor and contemporary of Abraham, therefore as living B. c. 2000, instead of B. C. 6350. Professor Whitney of New Haven places the epoch of Zoroaster as “ at least B. C. 1000,” and adds that all attempts to reconstruct Persian chronology or history prior to the reign of the first Sassanid have been relinquished as futile. 19 Döllinger 20 thinks he may have been “ somewhat later than Moses, perhaps about B. C. 1300,” but says, “it is impossible to fix precisely ” when he lived. Rawlinson 21 merely remarks that Berosus places him anterior to B. C. 2234. Haug is inclined to date the Gâthâs, the oldest songs of the Avesta, as early as the time of Moses.22 Rapp,23 after a thorough comparison of ancient writers, concludes that Zoroaster lived B. C. 1200 or 1300. In this he agrees with Duncker, who, as we have seen, decided upon the same date. It is not far from the period given by the oldest Greek writer who speaks of Zoroaster, — Xanthus of Sardis, a contemporary of Darius. It is the period given by Cephalion, a writer of the second century, who takes it from three independent sources. We have no sources now open to us, which enable us to come nearer than this to the time in which he lived.

Nor is anything known with certainty of the place where he lived or the events of his life. Most modern writers suppose that he resided in Bactria. Haug maintains that the language of the Zend books is Bactrian.24 A highly mythological and fabulous life of Zoroaster, translated by Anquetil du Perron, called the Zartusht-Namah,25 describes him as going to Iran in his thirtieth year, spending twenty years in the desert, working miracles during ten years, and giving lessons of philosophy in Babylon, with Pythagoras as his pupil. All this is based on the theory (now proved to be false) of his living in the time of Darius. “The language of the Avesta,” says Max Muller, “is so much more primitive than the inscriptions of Darius, that many centuries must have passed between the two periods represented by these two strata of language.” 26 These inscriptions are in the Achæmenian dialect, which is the Zend in a later stage of linguistic growth.

It is not likely that Zoroaster ever saw Pythagoras or even Abraham. But though absolutely nothing is known of the events of his life, there is not the least doubt of his existence nor of his character. He has left the impress of his commanding genius on great regions, various races, and long periods of time. His religion, like that of the Buddha, is essentially a moral religion. Each of them was a revolt from the Pantheism of India, in the interest of morality, human freedom, and the progress of the race. They differ in this, that each takes hold of one side of morality, and lets go the opposite. Zoroaster bases his law on the eternal distinction between right and wrong ; Sakya-.Muni, on the natural laws and their consequences, either good or evil. Zoroaster’s law is, therefore, the law of justice ; Sakya-Muni’s, the law of mercy. The one makes the supreme good to consist in truth, duty, right ; the other, in love, benevolence, and kindness. Zoroaster teaches providence ; the monk of India teaches prudence. Zoroaster aims at holiness, the Buddha at merit. Zoroaster teaches and emphasizes creation ; the Buddha knows nothing of creation, but only nature or law. All these oppositions run back to a single root. Both are moral reformers ; but the one moralizes according to the method of Bishop Butler, the other after that of Archdeacon Paley. Zoroaster cognizes all morality as having its root within, in the eternal distinction between right and wrong motive, therefore in God; but SakyaMuni finds it outside of the soul, in the results of good and evil action, therefore in the nature of things. The method of salvation therefore, according to Zoroaster, is that of an eternal battle for good against evil; but according to the Buddha, it is that of self-culture and virtuous activity.

Both of these systems, as being essentially moral systems in the interest of humanity, proceed from persons. For it is a curious fact, that, while the essentially spiritualistic religions are ignorant of their founders, all the moral creeds of the world proceed from a moral source, i. e. a human will. Brahmanism, Gnosticism, the Sufism of Persia, the Mysteries of Egypt and Greece, Neo-Platonism, the Christian Mysticism of the Middle Ages, — these have, strictly speaking, no founder. Every tendency to the abstract, to the infinite, ignores personality.27 Individual mystics we know, but never the founder of any such system. The religions in which the moral element is depressed, as those of Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, Greece, Rome, are also without personal founders. But moral religions are the religions of persons, and so we have the systems of Confucius, Buddha, Zoroaster, Moses, Mohammed.28 The Protestant Reformation was a protest of the moral nature against a religion which had become divorced from morality. Accordingly we have Luther as the founder of Protestantism ; but mediaeval Christianity grew up with no personal leader.

The whole religion of the Avesta revolves around the person of Zoroaster, or Zarathustra. In the oldest part of the sacred books, the Gâthâs of the Yaçna, he is called the pure Zarathustra, good in thought, speech, and work. It is said that Zarathustra alone knows the precepts of Ahura-Mazda (Ormazd), and that he shall be made skilful in speech. In one of the Gâthâs he expresses the desire of bringing knowledge to the pure, in the power of Ormazd, so as to be to them strong joy (Spiegel, Gâthâ Ustvaiti, XLII. 8), or, as Haug translates the same passage (Die Gâthâs des Zarathustra, II. 8) : “I will swear hostility to the liars, but be a strong help to the truthful.” He prays for truth, declares himself the most faithful servant in the world of Ormazd the Wise One, and therefore begs to know the best thing to do. As the Jewish prophets tried to escape their mission, and called it a burden, and went to it “in the heat and bitterness of their spirit,” so Zoroaster says (according to Spiegel) : “ When it came to me through your prayer, I thought that the spreading abroad of your law through men was something difficult.”

Zoroaster was one of those who was oppressed with the sight of evil. But it was not outward evil which most tormented him, but spiritual evil, — evil having its origin in a depraved heart and a will turned away from goodness. His meditations led him to the conviction that all the woe of the world had its root in sin, and that the origin of sin was to be found in the demonic world. He might have used the language of the Apostle Paul, and said : “ We wrestle not with flesh and blood,” — that is, our struggle is not with man, but with principles of evil, rulers of darkness, spirits of wickedness in the supernatural world. Deeply convinced that a great struggle was going on between the powers of light and darkness, he called on all good men to take part in the war, and battle for the good God against the dark and foul tempter.

Great physical calamities added to the intensity of this conviction. It appears that about the period of Zoroaster some geological convulsions had changed the climate of Northern Asia, and very suddenly produced severe cold where before there had been an almost tropical temperature. The first Fargard of the Vendidad has been lately translated by both Spiegel and Haug, and begins by speaking of a good country, Aryana-Vaêjo, which was created a region of delight by Ahura-Mazda (Ormazd). Then it adds that the “ evil being, Angra-Mainyus (Ahriman), full of death, created a mighty serpent, and winter, the work of the Devas. Ten months of winter are there, two months of summer.” Then follows, in the original document, this statement : “Seven months of summer are (were ?) there ; five months of winter were there. The latter are cold as to water, cold as to earth, cold as to trees. There is the heart of winter ; there all around falls deep snow. There is the worst of evils.” This passage has been set aside as an interpolation by both Spiegel and Haug. But they give no reason for supposing it such, except the difficulty of reconciling it with the preceding passage. This difficulty, however, disappears, if we suppose it intended to describe a great climatic change, by which the original home of the Aryans, Aryana-Vaêjo, became suddenly very much colder than before. Such a change, if it took place, was probably the cause of the emigration which transferred this people from Aryana-Vaêjo (Old Iran) to New Iran, or Persia. Such a history of emigration Bunsen and Haug suppose to be contained in this first Fargard (or chapter) of the Vendidad. If so, it takes us back further than the oldest part of the Veda, and gives the progress of the Aryan stream to the south from its original source on the great plains of Central Asia, till it divided into two branches, one flowing into Persia, the other into India. The first verse of this venerable document introduces Ormazd as saying that he had created new regions, desirable as homes ; for had he not done so, all human beings would have crowded into this Aryana-Vaêjo. Thus in the very first verse of the Vendidad appears the affectionate recollection of these emigrant races for their fatherland in Central Asia, and the Zoroasterian faith in a creative and protective Providence. The awful convulsion which turned their summer climate into the present Siberian winter of ten months’ duration was part of a divine plan. Old Iran would have been too attractive, and all mankind would have crowded into that Eden. So the evil Ahriman was permitted to glide into it. a new serpent of destruction, and its seven months of summer and five of winter were changed to ten of winter and two of summer.29

This Aryana-Vaêjo, Old Iran, the primaeval seat of the great Indo-European race, is supposed by Haug and Bunsen to be situated on the high plains northeast of Samarcand, between the thirty-seventh and fortieth degrees of north latitude, and the eightysixth and ninetieth of east longitude. This region has exactly the climate described,— ten months of winter and two of summer. The same is true of Western Thibet and most of Central Siberia. Malte-Brun says : “ The winter is nine or ten months long through almost the whole of Siberia.” June and July are the only months wholly free from snow. On the parallel of 6o°, the earth on the 28th of June was found frozen, at a depth of three feet.

But is there reason to think that the climate was ever different ? Geologists assure us that “ great oscillations of climate have occurred in times immediately antecedent to the peopling of the earth by man.”30 But in Central and Northern Asia there is evidence of such fluctuations of temperature in a much more recent period. In 1803, on the banks of the Lena, in latitude 70°, the entire body of a mammoth fell from a mass of ice in which it had been entombed perhaps for thousands of years, but with the flesh so perfectly preserved that it was immediately devoured by wolves. Since then, these frozen elephants have been found in great numbers, in so perfect a condition that the bulb of an eye of one of them is in the Museum at Moscow.31 They have been found as far north as 75°. Hence Lyell thinks it " reasonable to believe that a large region in Central Asia, includingperhaps the southern half of Siberia, enjoyed at no very remote period in the earth’s history a temperate climate, sufficiently mild to afford food for numerous herds of elephants and rhinoceroses.”

Amid these terrible convulsions of the air and ground, these antagonisms of outward good and evil, Zoroaster developed his belief in the dualism of all things. To his mind, as to that of the Hebrew poet, God had placed all things against each other, two and two. No Pantheistic optimism, like that of India, could satisfy his mind. He could not say, “Whatever is,is right” ; some things seemed fatally wrong. The world was a scene of war, not of peace and rest Life to the good man was not sleep, but battle. If there was a good God over all, as he devoutly believed, there was also a spirit of evil, of awful power, to whom we were not to yield, but to whom we should do battle. In the far distance he saw the triumph of good ; but that triumph would come only by fighting the good fight now. But his weapons were not carnal. “Pure thoughts” going out into “true words” and resulting in “right actions,” — this was the whole duty of man.

A few passages, taken from different parts of the Zend-Avesta, will best illustrate these tendencies, and show how unlike it is, in its whole spirit, to its sister, the Vedic liturgy. Twin children of the old Aryan stock, they must have struggled together like Esau and Jacob, before they were born. In such cases we see how superficial is the philosophy which, beginning with synthesis instead of analysis, declares the unity of all religions before it has seen their differences. There is indeed, what Cudworth has called “ the symphony of all religions,” but it cannot be demonstrated by the easy process of gathering a few similar texts from Confucius, the Vedas, and the Gospels, and then announcing that they all teach the same thing. We must first find the specific idea of each, and we may then be able to show how each of these may take its place in the harmonious working of universal religion.

If, in taking up the Zend-Avesta, we expect to find a system of theology or philosophy, we shall be disappointed, it is a liturgy, — a collection of hymns, prayers, invocations, thanksgivings. It contains prayers to a multitude of deities, among whom Ormazd is always counted supreme, and the rest only his servants.

“ I worship and adore,” says Zarathustra (Zoroaster), “ the Creator of all things, Ahura-Mazda (Ormazd), full of light! I worship the Amӗsha-çpentas (Amshaspands, the seven archangels, or protecting spirits)! I worship the body of the primal Bull, the soul of the Bull ! I invoke thee, O Fire, thou son of Ormazd, most rapid of the Immortals! I invoke Mithra, the lofty, the immortal, the pure, the sun, the ruler, the quick Horse, the eye of Ormazd! I invoke the holy Sraosha, gifted with holiness, and Racnu (spirit of justice), and Arstat (spirit of truth)! I invoke the Fravashi of good men, the Fravashi of Ormazd, the Fravashi of my own soul ! I praise the good men and women of the whole world of purity ! I praise the Haǒma, health-bringing, golden, with moist stalks. I praise Sraosha, whom four horses carry, spotless, bright-shining, swifter than the storms, who, without sleeping, protects the world in the darkness.”

The following passages are from the oldest part of the Avesta, the Gâthâs : —

“ Good is the thought, good the speech, good the work of the pure Zarathustra.”

I desire by my prayer with uplifted hands this joy, — the pure works of the Holy Spirit, Mazda, .... a disposition to perform good actions, .... and pure gifts for both worlds, the bodily and spiritual.”

“ I have intrusted my soul to Heaven, .... and I will teach what is pure so long as I can.”

“ I keep forever purity and goodmindedness. Teach thou me, AhuraMazda, out of thyself; from heaven, by thy mouth, whereby the world first arose.”

“ Thee have I thought, O Mazda, as the first, to praise with the soul,.... active Creator, .... Lord of the worlds, .... Lord of good things, .... the first fashioner,.... who made the pure creation, .... who upholds the best soul with his understanding.”

“ I praise Ahura-Mazda, who has created the cattle, created the water and good trees, the splendor of light, the earth, and all good. We praise the Fravashis of the pure men and women, — whatever is fairest, purest, immortal.”

“We honor the good spirit, the good kingdom, the good law, — all that is good.”

“ Here we praise the soul and body of the Bull, then our souls, the souls of the cattle, which desire to maintain us in life,.... the good men and women, . ... the abode of the water, .... the meeting and parting of the ways, .... the mountains which make the waters flow, .... the strong wind created by Ahura-Mazda, .... the Haoma, giver of increase, far from death.”

Now give ear to me, and hear ! the Wise Ones have created all. Evil doctrine shall not again destroy the world.”

“ In the beginning, the two heavenly Ones spoke — the Good to the Evil — thus : ‘Our souls, doctrines, words, works, do not unite together.' ”

“ How shall I satisfy thee, O Mazda, I, who have little wealth, few men ? How may I exalt thee according to my wish ? .... I will be contented with your desires ; this is the decision of my understanding and of my soul.”

The following is from the KhordahAvesta : —

“ 1. In the name of God, the giver, forgiver, rich in love, praise be to the name of Ormazd, the God with the name, ‘ Who always was, always is, and always will be ; ’ the heavenly amongst the heavenly, with the name ‘From whom alone is derived rule.’ Ormazd is the greatest ruler, mighty, wise, creator, supporter, refuge, defender, completer of good works, overseer, pure, good, and just.

“2. With all strength (bring I) thanks ; to the great among beings, who created and destroyed, and through his own determination of time, strength, wisdom, is higher than the six Amshaspands, the circumference of heaven, the shining sun, the brilliant moon, the wind, the water, the fire, the earth, the trees, the cattle, the metals, mankind.

“ 3. Offering and praise to that Lord, the completer of good works, who made men greater than all earthly beings, and through the gift of speech created them to rule the creatures, as warriors against the Daêvas.32

“4. Praise to the omniscience of God, who hath sent through the holy Zarathustra peace for the creatures, the wisdom of the law,—the enlightening derived from the heavenly understanding, and heard with the ears. — wisdom and guidance for all beings who are, were, and will be, (and) the wisdom of wisdoms ; which effects freedom from hell for the soul at the bridge, and leads it over to that Paradise, the brilliant, sweet-smelling of the pure.

“ 5. All good do I accept at thy command, O God, and think, speak, and do it. I believe in the pure law ; by every good work seek I forgiveness for all sins. I keep pure for myself the serviceable work and abstinence from the unprofitable. I keep pure the six powers, — thought, speech, work, memory, mind, and understanding. According to thy will am I able to accomplish, O accomplisher of good, thy honor, with good thoughts, good words, good works.

“ 6. I enter on the shining way to Paradise ; may the fearful terror of hell not overcome me ! May I step over the bridge Chinevat, may I attain Paradise, with much perfume, and all enjoyments, and all brightness.

“7. Praise to the Overseer, the Lord, who rewards those who accomplish good deeds according to his own wish, purifies at last the obedient, and at last purifies even the wicked one of hell. All praise be to the creator, Ormazd, the all-wise, mighty, rich in might; to the seven Amshaspands ; to Ized Bahrâm, the victorious annibilator of foes.”

The Avesta, then, is not a system of dogmatics, but a book of worship. It is to be read in private by the laity, or to be recited by the priests in public. Nevertheless, just such a book may be the best help to the knowledge of the religious opinions of an age. The deepest convictions come to light in such a collection, not, indeed, in a systematic statement, but in sincerest utterance. It will contain the faith of the heart rather than the speculations of the intellect. Such a work can hardly be other than authentic ; for men do not forge liturgies, and, if they did, could hardly introduce them into the worship of a religious community.

The Avesta consists of the Vendidad, of which twenty-two Fargards, or chapters, have been preserved; the Vispered, in twenty-seven ; the Yaçna, in seventy ; and the Khordah-Avesta, or Little-Avesta, which contains the Yaslits, Patets, and other prayers for the use of the laity. Of these, Spiegel considers the Gâthâs of the Yaçna to be the oldest, next the Vendidad, lastly, the first part of the Yaçna, and the Khordah-Avesta.

The Bundehesch is a book later than these, and yet, in its contents, running back to a very early period. Windischmann,33 who has recently given us a new translation of this book, says : “ In regard to the Bundehesch, I am confident that closer study of this remarkable book, and a more exact comparison of it with the original texts, will change the unfavorable opinion hitherto held concerning it into one of great confidence. I am justified in believing that its author has given us mainly only the ancient doctrine, taken by him from original texts, most of which are now lost. The more thoroughly it is examined the more trustworthy it will be found to be.”

The following summary of the Pârsî system is mostly derived from the Bundehesch, and the later writings of the Pârsîs. We have abridged it from Rhode. In the time of Zoroaster himself, it was probably far from being so fully elaborated. Only the germs of it are to be found in the elder books of the Avesta. It has been doubted if the doctrine of Zerâna-Akerana, or the Monad behind the Duad, is to be found in the Avesta, though important texts in the Vendidad 34 seem indeed to imply a Supreme and Infinite Being, the creator both of Ormazd and Ahriman.

In the beginning, the Eternal or Absolute Being (Zerâna-Akerana) produced two other great divine beings. The first, who remained true to him, was Ahura-Mazda, King of Light. The other was Ahriman (Angra-Mainyus), King of Darkness. Ormazd found himself in a world of light and Ahriman in boundless darkness, and the two became antagonists.

The Infinite Being (Zerâna-Akerana) now determined, in order to destroy the evil which Ahriman had caused, to create the visible world by Ormazd ; and he fixed its duration at twelve thousand years. This was divided into four periods of three thousand years each. In the first period Ormazd should rule alone; in the second Ahriman should begin to operate, but still be subordinate ; in the third they should both rule together ; and in the fourth Ahriman should have the ascendancy.

Ormazd began the creation by bringing forth the Fereuers (Fravashi). Everything which has been created, or which is to be created, has its Fravashi, which contains the reason and basis of its existence. Even Ormazd has his Fravashi in relation to Zerâna-Akerana (the Infinite). A spiritual and invisible world preceded, therefore, this visible material world as its prototype.

In creating the material world, which was in reality only an incorporation of the spiritual world of Fravashis, Ormazd first created the firm vault of heaven, and the earth on which it rests. On the earth he created the high mountain Albordj 35 which soared upward through all the spheres of the heaven, till it reached the primal light, and Ormazd made this summit his abode. From this summit the bridge Chinevat stretches to the vault of heaven, and to Gorodman, which is the opening in the vault above Albordj. Gorodman is the dwelling of the Fravashis and of the blessed, and the bridge leading to it is precisely above the abyss Duzahk, — the monstrous gulf, the home of Ahriman beneath the earth.

Ormazd, who knew that after the first period his battle with Ahriman would begin, armed himself, and created for his aid the whole shining host of heaven, — sun, moon, and stars, — mighty beings of light, wholly submissive to him. First he created “the heroic runner, who never dies, the sun,” and made him king and ruler of the material world. From Albordj he sets out on his course, he circles the earth in the highest spheres of heaven, and at evening returns. Then he created the moon, which “ has its own light,” which, departing from Albordj. circles the earth in a lower sphere, and returns ; then the five smaller planets, and the whole host of fixed stars, in the lowest circle of the heavens. The space between the earth and the firm vault of heaven is therefore divided into three spheres, that of the sun, of the moon, and of the stars.

The host of stars — common soldiers in the war with Ahriman — was divided into four troops, with each its appointed leader. Twelve companies were arranged in the twelve signs of the zodiac. All these were arranged into four great divisions, in the east, west, north, and south. The planet Tistrya (Jupiter) presides over and watches that in the east, and is named Prince of the Stars ; Sitavisa (Saturn) presides over the western division ; Vanant (or Mercury) over that of the south ; and Hapto-iringa (Mars) over the stars of the north. In the middle of the heavens is the great star Mesch, Meschgah (Venus). He leads them against Ahriman.

The dog Sirius (Sura) is another watchman of the heavens; but he is fixed to one place, at the bridge Chinevat, keeping guard over the abyss out of which Ahriman comes.

When Ormazd had completed these preparations in the heavens, the first of the four ages drew to an end, and Ahriman saw, from the gloomy depths of his kingdom, what Ormazd had done. In opposition to this light creation, he created a world of darkness, a terrible community, equal in number and power to the beings of light. Ormazd, knowing all the misery that Ahriman would cause, yet knowing that the victory would remain with himself, offered to Ahriman peace ; but Ahriman chose war. But, blinded by Ormazd’s majesty, and terrified by the sight of the pure Fravashis of holy men, he was conquered by Ormazd’s strong word, and sank back into the abyss of darkness, where he lay fettered during the three thousand years of the second period.

Ormazd now completed his creation upon the earth. Sapandomad was guardian spirit of the earth, and the earth, as Hethra, was mother of all living. Khordad was chief of the seasons, years, months, and days, and also protector of the water which flowed from the fountain Anduisur, from Albordj. The planet Tistrya was commissioned to raise the water in vapor, collect it in clouds, and let it fall in rain, with the aid of the planet Sitavisa. These cloud-compellers were highly reverenced. Amerdad was general deity of vegetation ; but the great Mithra was the god of fructification and reproduction in the whole organic world ; his work was to lead the Fravashis to the bodies they were to occupy.

Everything earthly in the light-world of Ormazd had its protecting deity. These guardian spirits were divided into series and groups, had their captains and their associated assistants. The seven Amshaspands (in Zend, AmĚsha-çpentas) were the chief among these, of whom Ormazd was first. The other six were Bohman, King of Heaven ; Ardibehescht. King of Fire ; Scherever, King of the Metals ; Sapondomad, Queen of the Earth ; Amerdad, King of Vegetables ; and Khordah, King of Water.

So ended the second age. In it Ormazd had also produced the great primitive Bull, in which, as the representative of the animal world, the seeds of all living creatures were deposited.

While Ormazd was thus completing his light-creation, Ahriman, in his dark abyss, was completing a corresponding creation of darkness, — making a corresponding evil being for every good being created by Ormazd. These spirits of night stood in their ranks and orders, with their seven presiding evil spirits, or Daêvas, corresponding to the Amshaspands.

The vast preparations of this great war being completed, and the end of the second age now coming, Ahriman was urged by one of his Daêvas to begin the conflict. He counted his host ; but as he found nothing therein to oppose to the Fravashis of good men, he sank back in dejection. Finally the second age expired, and Ahriman now sprang aloft without fear, for he knew that his time was come. His host followed him, but he alone succeeded in reaching the heavens ; his troops remained behind. A shudder ran over him, and he sprang from heaven upon the earth in the form of a serpent, penetrated to its centre, and entered into everything which he found upon it. He passed into the primal Bull, and even into fire, the visible symbol of Ormazd, defiling it with smoke and vapor. Then he assailed the heavens, and a part of the stars were already in his power, and veiled in smoke and mist, when he was attacked by Ormazd, aided by the Fravashis of holy men ; and after ninety days and ninety nights he was completely defeated, and driven back with his troops into the abyss of Duzahk.

But he did not remain there, for through the middle of the earth he built a way for himself and his companions, and is now living on the earth together with Ormazd, — according to the decree of the Infinite-

The destruction which he produced in the world was terrible. Nevertheless, the more evil he tried to do, the more he ignorantly fulfilled the counsels of the Infinite, and hastened the development of good. Thus he entered the Bull, the original animal, and injured him so that he died. But when he died, Kaiomarts, the first man, came out of his right shoulder, and from his left Goshurun, the soul of the Bull, who now became the guardian spirit of the animal race. Also the whole realm of clean animals and plants came from the Bull’s body. Full of rage, Ahriman now created the unclean animals, — for every clean beast an unclean. Thus Ormazd created the dog, Ahriman the wolf ; Ormazd all useful animals, Ahriman all noxious ; and so of plants.

But to Kaiomarts, the original man, Ahriman had nothing to oppose, and so he determined to kill him. Kaiomarts was both man and woman, but through his death there came from him the first human pair; a tree grew from his body, and bore ten pair of men and women. Meschia and Meschiane were the first. They were originally innocent and made for heaven, and worshipped Ormazd as their creator. But Ahriman tempted them. They drank milk from a goat and so injured themselves. Then Ahriman brought them fruit, they ate it, and lost a hundred parts of their happiness so that only one remained. The woman was the first to sacrifice to the Daêvas. After fifty years they had two children, Siamak and Veschak, and died a hundred years old. For their sins they remain in hell until the resurrection.

The human race, which had thus become mortal and miserable by the sin of its first parents, assumed nevertheless a highly interesting position. The man stands in the middle between the two worlds of light and darkness, left to his own free will. As a creature of Ormazd he can and ought to honor him, and assist him in the war with evil ; but Ahriman and his Daêvas surround him night and day, and seek to mislead him, in order to increase thereby the power of darkness. He would not be able at all to resist these temptations, to which his first parents had already yielded, had not Ormazd taken pity on him, and sent him a revelation of his will in the law of Zoroaster. If he obeys these precepts he is safe from the Daêvas, under the immediate protection of Ormazd. The substance of the law is the command, “ THINK PURELY, SPEAK PURELY, ACT PURELY.” All that comes from Ormazd is pure, from Ahriman impure ; and bodily purity has a like worth with moral purity. Hence the multitude and minuteness of precepts concerning bodily cleanliness. In fact, the whole liturgic worship turns greatly on this point.

The Fravashis of men originally created by Ormazd are preserved in heaven, in Ormazd’s realm of light. But they must come from heaven, to be united with a human body, and to go on a path of probation in this world, called the “ Way of the Two Destinies.”Those who have chosen the good in this world are received after death by good spirits, and guided, under the protection of the dog Sura, to the bridge Chinevat ; the wicked are dragged thither by the Daêvas. Here Ormazd holds a tribunal and decides the fate of the souls. The good pass the bridge into the mansions of the blessed, where they are welcomed with rejoicing by the Amshaspands; the bad fall over into the Gulf of Duzahk, where they are tormented by the Daêvas. The duration of the punishment is fixed by Ormazd, and some are redeemed earlier by means of the prayers and intercessions of their friends, but many must remain till the resurrection of the dead.

Ahriman himself effects this consummation, after having exercised great power over men during the last three thousand years. He created seven comets (in opposition to the seven planets), and they went on their destructive paths through the heavens, filling all things with danger, and all men with terror. But Ormazd placed them under the control of his planets to restrain them. They will do so, till by the decree of the Infinite, at the close of the last period, one of the planets will break from his watchman, the moon, and plunge upon the earth, producing a general conflagration. But before this Ormazd will send his Prophet Sosioch and bring about the conversion of mankind, to be followed by the general resurrection.

Ormazd will clothe anew with flesh the bones of men, and relatives and friends will recognize each other again. Then comes the great division of the just from the sinners.

When Ahriman shall cause the comet to fall on the earth to gratify his destructive propensities, he will be really serving the Infinite Being against his own will. For the conflagration caused by this comet will change the whole earth into a stream like melted iron, which will pour impetuously down into the realm of Ahriman. All beings must now pass through this stream : to the righteous it will feel like warm milk, and they will pass through to the dwellings of the just; but all the sinners shall be borne along by the stream into the abyss of Duzahk. Here they will burn three days and nights ; then, being purified, they will invoke Ormazd, and be received into heaven.

Afterward Ahriman himself and all in the Duzahk shall be purified by this fire, all evil be consumed, and all darkness banished.

From the extinct fire there will come a more beautiful earth, pure and perfect, and destined to be eternal.

Having given this account of the Parsi system, in its later development, we will inquire how it originated.

And first, we must say that it was not an invention of Zoroaster, nor of any one else. Religions are not invented : they grow. Even the religion of Mohammed grew out of pre-existent beliefs. The founder of a religion does not invent it, but gives it form. It crystallizes around his own deeper thought. So, in the time of Zoroaster, the popular imagination had filled nature with powers and presences, and given them names, and placed them in the heavens. For, as Schiller says : —

“ ’T is not merely
The human being’s pride which peoples space
With life and mystical predominance ;
For also for the stricken heart of Love,
This visible nature, and this lower world
Is all too common.”

Zoroaster organized into clearer thought the pre-existing myths, and inspired them with moral ideas and vital power.

Again, that the Vedic religion and that of the Avesta arose out of an earlier Aryan religion, monotheistic in its central element, but with a tendency to immerse the Deity in nature, seems evident from the investigations of Pictet and other scholars. This primitive religion of the Aryan race diverged early in two directions, represented by the Veda and the Avesta. Yet each retains much in common with the other. The names of the powers — Indra, Sura, Naoghaithya — are in both systems. In the Veda they are gods, in the Avesta evil spirits. Indra, worshipped throughout the Rig-Veda as one of the highest deities, appears in the Avesta as an evil being.36 Sura (Çura), one of the most ancient names of Shiva, is also denounced and opposed in the Avesta37 as a Daêva, or Dew. And the third (Nâoghaithya, Nâouhaiti), also an, evil spirit in the Avesta, is the Nâsatya of the Veda,38 one of the Açvinas or twins who precede the Dawn. The Dews or Daêvas of the Avesta are demons, in the Vedas they are gods. On the other hand, the Ahuras, or gods, of the Avesta are Asuras, or demons, in the Vedic belief. The original land of the race is called Aryavesta in the Laws of Manu (II. 22), and Aryana-Vaêjo in the Avesta. The God of the Sun is named Mithra, or Mitra, in both religions. The Yima of the Parsi system is a happy king ; the Yama of the Hindoos is a stern judge in the realms of death. The dog is hateful in the Indian system, an object of reverence in that of Zoroaster. both the religions dread defilement through the touch of dead bodies. In both systems fire is regarded as divine. But the most striking analogy perhaps is to be found in the worship paid by both to the intoxicating fermented juice of the plant Asclcptas acida, called Soma in the Sanskrit and Haǒma in the Zend. The identity of the Haǒma with the Indian Soma has long been proved.39 The whole of the Soma-Veda is devoted to this moon-plant worship ; an important part of the Avesta is occupied with hymns to Haǒma. This great reverence paid to the same plant, on account of its intoxicating qualities, carries us back to a region where the vine was unknown, and to a race to whom intoxication was so new an experience as to seem a gift of the gods. Wisdom appeared to come from it, health, increased power of body and soul, long life, victory in battle, brilliant children. What Bacchus was to the Greeks, this divine Haǒma, or Soma, was to the primitive Aryans.40

It would seem, therefore, that the two religions setting out from the same point, and having a common stock of primitive traditions, at last said each to the other, “ Your gods are my demons.” The opposition was mutual. The dualism of the Persian was odious to the Hindoo, while the absence of a deep moral element in the Vedic system shocked the solemn puritanism of Zoroaster. The religion of the Hindoo was to dream, that of the Persian to fight. There could be no more fellowship between them than there is between a Quaker and a Calvinist.

However this may be, we find in the Avesta, and in the oldest portion of it, the radical tendencies which resulted afterward in the elaborate theories of the Bundehesch. We find the ZerânaAkerana, in the Vendidad (XIX. 33, 44, 55), — “The Infinite Time,” or “Allembracing Time,” — as the creator of Ahriman, according to some translations. Spiegel, indeed, considers this supreme being, above both Ormazd and Ahriman, as not belonging to the original Persian religion, but as borrowed from Semitic sources. But if so, then Ormazd is the supreme and uncreated being, and creator of all things. Why, then, has Ormazd a Fravashi, or archetype ? And, in that case, he must either himself have created Ahriman, or else Ahriman is as eternal as he ; which latter supposition presents us with an absolute, irreconcilable dualism. The better opinion seems, therefore, to be, that behind the two opposing powers of good and evil, the thesis and antithesis of moral life, remains the obscure background of original being, the identity of both, from which both have proceeded, and into whose abyss both shall return.

This great consummation is also intimated by the fact that in the same Fargard of the Vendidad (XIX. 18) the future restorer or saviour is mentioned, Sosioch (Çaoshyanç), who is expected by the Pârsîs to come at the end of all things, and accomplish the resurrection, and introduce a kingdom of untroubled happiness.41 Whether the resurrection belongs to the primitive form of the religion remains as doubtful, but also as probable, as when Mr. Alger discussed the whole question in his admirable monograph on the Doctrine of the Future Life. Our remaining fragments of the Zend-Avesta say nothing of the periods of three thousand years’ duration. Two or three passages in the Avesta refer to the resurrection.42 But the conflict between Ormazd and Ahriman, the present struggle between good and evil, the ideal world of the Fravashis and good spirits, — these unquestionably belong to the original system.

Of this system we will say, in conclusion, that in some respects it comes nearer to Christianity than any other. Moreover, though so long dead, like the great nation of which it was the inspiration and life, — though swept away by Mohammedanism, — its influence remains, and has permeated both Judaism and Christianity. Christianity has probably received from it, through Judaism, its doctrine of angels and devils, and its tendency to establish evil in the world as the permanent and equal adversary of good. Such a picture as that by Retzsch of the Devil playing chess with the young man for his soul, such a picture as that by Guido of the conflict between Michael and Satan, such poems as Milton’s Paradise Lost and Goethe’s Faust, could perhaps never have appeared in Christendom, had it not been for the influence of the system of Zoroaster on Jewish, and, through Jewish, on Christian thought. It was after the return from Babylon that the Devil and demons, in conflict with man, became a part of the company of spiritual beings in the Jewish mythology. Angels there were before, as messengers of God, but devils there were not ; for till then an absolute Providence ruled the world, excluding all interference of antagonistic powers. Satan, in Job, is an angel of God, not a devil; doing a low kind of work, indeed, a sort of critical business, faultfinding, and looking for flaws in the saints, but still an angel, and no devil. But after the captivity the horizon of the Jewish mind enlarged, and it took in the conception of God as allowing freedom to man and angels, and so permitting bad as well as good to have its way. And then came in also the conception of a future life, and a resurrection for ultimate judgment. These doctrines have been supposed, with good reason, to have come to the Jews from the influence of the great system of Zoroaster.

There is no doubt, however, that the Jewish prophets had already prepared a point of contact and attachment for this system, and developed affinities therewith, by their great battle-cry to the nation for right against wrong, and their undying conviction of an ultimate restoration of all good things. But the Jews found also in the Persian faith the one among all religions most like their own, in this, that it had no idols, and no worship but that addressed to the Unseen. Sun and fire were his symbols, but he himself was hidden behind the glorious veil of being. And it seems as if the Jews needed this support of finding another nation also hating idolatry, before they could really rise above their tendency to backslide into it. “In the mouth of two witnesses,” the spiritual worship of God was established ; and not till Zoroaster took the hand of Moses did the Jews cease to be idolaters. After the return from the captivity, that tendency wholly disappears.

But a deeper and more essential point of agreement is to be found in the special practical character of the two systems, regarding life as a battle between right and wrong, waged by a communion of good men fighting against bad men and bad principles.

Perhaps, in reading the New Testament, we do not always see how much Christianity turns around the phrase, and the idea behind it, of a “kingdom of heaven.” The Beatitudes begin “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Both John the Baptist and Christ announce that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The parables revolve round the same idea of “ the kingdom,” which is likened first to this, and then to that ; and so, passing on into the Epistles, we have the “ kingdom of heaven ” still as the leading conception of Christianity. “The kingdom of God is not meat nor drink,” and so forth.

The peculiar conception of the Messiah also is of “the King,” the Anointed one, the Head of this divine Monarchy. When we call Jesus the Christ, we repeat this ancient notion of the kingdom of God among men. He himself accepted it; he called himself the Christ. “ Thou sayest,” said he, to Pilate, “ that I am a king. To this and was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.”

All through antiquity there ran the longing for a communion or association of the wise and good, in order to establish truth and justice in the world. The tendency of error is to divide; the tendency of selfishness is to violate. Only goodness and truth are capable of real communion, interpenetration, and so of organic life and growth. This is their strength, power, and hope. Hence all the efforts at associated action in antiquity, such as the College of Pythagoras, the ideal Republic of Plato, the Spartan Commonwealth, the communities of the Essenes, the monastic institutions of Asia and Europe ; and hence too the modern attempts, in Protestantism, by Fourier, the Moravians, the Shakers, Saint-Simon, Robert Owen, and others.

But among the Jews this desire appeared, first in their national organization, as a theosophic and theocratic community, and afterward, when this broke down and the nation was divided, in a larger prophetic hope of the Messianic times. There is a tendency in the human mind, when it sees a great work to be done, to look for a leader. So the Jewish hope looked for a leader. Their true King was to come, and under him peace and righteousness were to reign, and the kingdom of heaven begin on earth. It was to be on earth. It was to be here and now. And so they waited and longed.

Meantime, in the Persian religion, the seed of the same hope was sown. There also the work of life was, to unite together in a community of good men and good angels, against bad men and devils, and so make a kingdom of heaven. Long and sore should the conflict be ; but the victory at last would be sure. And they also looked for a Sosioch, or Mediator, who was to be what the Messiah was to be to the Jews. And here was the deep and real point of union between the two religons ; and this makes the profound meaning of the story of the Star which was seen is the East and which guided the Magi of Zoroaster to the cradle of Christ.

Jesus came to be the Messiah. He fulfilled that great hope as he did others. It was not fulfilled, in the sense of the letter of a prophecy being acted out, but in the sense of the prophecy being carried up and on to its highest point, and so being filled full of truth and value. The first and chief purpose of Christianity was, not to save the souls of men hereafter, as the Church has often taught, but to found a kingdom of heaven here, on earth and in time. It was not to say, “ Lo here ! ” or “ Lo there ! ” but to say, “ Now is the accepted time ” ; “ the kingdom of God is among you.” In thus continuing and developing to its highest point the central idea of his national religion, Jesus made himself the true Christ and fulfilled all the prophecies. Perhaps what we need now is to come back to that notion of the kingdom of heaven here below, and of Jesus the present king, — present, because still bearing witness to the truth. Christians must give up talking about Christianity as only a means of escaping a future hell and arriving at a future heaven. They must show now, more than ever, that, by a union of loving and truthful hearts, God comes here, immortality begins here, and heaven lies about us. To fight the good fight of justice and truth, as the disciples of Zoroaster tried to fight it, — this is still the true work of man ; and to make a union of those who wish thus to fight for good against evil, — this is still the true church of Christ.

The old religion of Zoroaster died, but as the corn of wheat, which, if it die, brings forth much fruit.

A small body of Pârsîs remain today in Persia, and another in India, — disciples of this venerable faith. They are a good, moral, industrious people. Some of them are very wealthy and very generous. Until Mr. George Peabody’s large donations, no one had bestowed so much on public objects as Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeeboy, who had given to hospitals, schools, and charities some years since, a million and a half of dollars. During our Rebellion, some of the Pârsîs sent from India large gifts to the Sanitary Commission, out of sympathy with the cause of freedom and union.

Who can estimate the power of a single life ? Of Zoroaster, we do not know the true name, nor when he lived, nor where he lived, nor exactly what he taught. But the current from that fountain has flowed on for thousands of years, fertilizing the souls of men out of its hidden sources, and helping on, by the decree of Divine Providence, the ultimate triumph of good over evil, right over wrong.

  1. Die Persischen Keilinscriften. (Leipzig, 1847.)
  2. Rawlinson, Five Great Monarchies. — Duncker, Geschichte des Alterthums, B. II. — Heeren, The Persians. — Fergusson, Illustrated Hand-Book of Architecture. — Creuzer, Schriften.
  3. Vendidad, Fargard, XIX - XLVI.
  4. Herodotus, 1. 131.
  5. Herodotus, in various parts of his history.
  6. “ Plutarch’s Morals. Translated from the Greek by several hands. London. Printed for W. Taylor, at the Ship in Pater-noster Row. 1718.” This passage concerning Zoroaster is from the “ Isis and Osiris ” in Vol. IV. of this old translation. We have retained the antique terminology and spelling.
  7. This is the Haoma spoken of below, page 165.
  8. These, with Ormazd, are the seven Amshaspands enumerated on page 162.
  9. See the account, on page 161, of these four periods of three thousand years each.
  10. Kleuker (Anhang zum Zend-Avesta) has given a full résumé of the references to Zoroaster and his religion in the Greek and Roman writers. More recently. Professor Rapp of Tübingen has gone over the same ground in a very instructive essay in the Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft. (Leipzig, 1865.)
  11. Anq. du Perron, Zend-Avesta ; Disc. Prélim.,p. vi.
  12. At the time Anquetil du Perron was thus laboring in the cause of science in India, two other men were in the same region devoting themselves with equal ardor to very different objects. Clive was laving the foundations of the British dominion in India ; Schwartz was giving himself up to a life of toil in preaching the Gospel to the Hindoos. How little would these three men have sympathized with each other, or appreciated each other’s work ! And yet how important to the progress of humanity was that of each !
  13. And with this conclusion the later scholars agree. Bnrnouf, Lassen, Spiegel, Westergaard, Haug, Bunsen, Max Müller, Roth, all accept the Zend-Avesta as containing in the main, if not the actual words of Zoroaster, yet authentic reminiscences of his teaching. The Gâthâs of the Vaçua are now considered to be the oldest part of the Avesta, as appears from the investigations of Hang and others. (See Dr. Martin Haug’s translation and commentary of the Five Gâthâs of Zarathustra. Leipzig, 1860.)
  14. Even good scholars often follow each other in a false direction for want of a little independent thinking. The Greek of Plato was translated by a long succession of writers, “ Zoroaster the son of Oromazes — ” until some one happened to think that this genitive might imply a different relation.
  15. Duncker (Gesch. des Alterthums, B. II.) gives at length the reasons which prove Zoroaster and the Zend-Avesta to have originated in Bactria.
  16. Duncker, (B. II. s. 317.) So Döllinger.
  17. Egypt’s, Place in Universal History, Vol. III. p. 471.
  18. Eran, das Laud zwischen dem Indus und Tigris.
  19. Journal of the Am. Or. Soc., Vol V. No. 2, P. 353.
  20. The Gentile and Jew, Vol. I. p. 380.
  21. Five Great Monarchies, Vol. III. p. 94,
  22. Essays, &c., by Martin Haug, p. 253.
  23. Die Religion und Sitte der Perser. Von Dr. Adolf Rapp. (1865.)
  24. Bunsen, Egypt, Vol. III. p. 455.
  25. Written in the thirteenth century after Christ. An English translation may be found in Dr. J. Wilson’s “ Pârsi Religion.”
  26. Chips, Vol. I. p. 88.
  27. So Mr. Emerson, in one of those observations which give us a system of philosophy in a single sentence, says, " The soul knows no persons.”
  28. Islam is, in this sense, a moral religion, its root consisting in obedience to Allah and his prophet. Sufism, a Mohammedan mysticism, is a heresy.
  29. Vendidad, Farg. I. 3. “Therefore AngraMainyus. the death-dealing, created a mighty serpent and snow.”The serpent entering into the Iranic Eden is one of the curious coincidences of the Iranic and Hebrew traditions.
  30. Lyell, Principles of Geology (eighth edition), P. 77.
  31. † Idem, p. 83.
  32. The Daêvas, or evil spirits of the Zend books, are the same as the Dêvas, or Gods of the Sanskrit religion.
  33. Zoroast. Stud. 1863.
  34. Vendidad, Fargard XIX. 33, 44, 55.
  35. The Albordj of the Zend books is doubtless the modern range of the Elbrooz, This mighty chain comes from the Caucasus into the northern frontier of Persia.
  36. See Burnouf, Comment, sue le Yaçna, p. 528.
  37. Vendidad, Fargard X. 17.
  38. See Spiegel’s note to the tenth Fargard of the Vendidad.
  39. See Windischmann, Ueber den Soma-Cultus der Arien.
  40. Perhaps one of the most widely diffused appellations is that of the divine being. We can trace this very word divine back to the ancient root Div, meaning to shine. From this is derived the Sanskrit Devas, the Zend Daêva, the Latin Deus, the German Zio, the Greek Zeus, and also Jupiter, (from Diespiter). See Spiegel, Zend-Avesta, Einleitung, Cap. I.
  41. Spiegel, Vend., Farg. XIX. note.
  42. Vendidad, Farg. XVIII. 110. Farvardin-Yasht, XVI.