Tag Archives: Gāthās

Review of Éric Pirart’s ‘Le sort de Gâthâs’

Ferrer, Juan. 2014. Review of Éric Pirart (ed.). 2013. Le sort de Gâthâs et autres études iraniennes in memoriam Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin (Acta Iranica 54). Leuven-Paris-Walpole, MA: Peeters Publishers. Aula Orientalis 32. 388–391.

Ideological archaeology of Zoroastrianism

Ahmadi, Amir. 2015. The Daēva cult in the Gāthās: An ideological archaeology of Zoroastrianism (Iranian Studies 24). New York, NY: Routledge.

Addressing the question of the origins of the Zoroastrian religion, this book argues that the intransigent opposition to the cult of the daēvas, the ancient Indo-Iranian gods, is the root of the development of the two central doctrines of Zoroastrianism: cosmic dualism and eschatology (fate of the soul after death and its passage to the other world).

The daēva cult as it appears in the Gāthās, the oldest part of the Zoroastrian sacred text, the Avesta, had eschatological pretentions. The poet of the Gāthās condemns these as deception. The book critically examines various theories put forward since the 19th century to account for the condemnation of the daēvas. It then turns to the relevant Gāthic passages and analyzes them in detail in order to give a picture of the cult and the reasons for its repudiation. Finally, it examines materials from other sources, especially the Greek accounts of Iranian ritual lore (mainly) in the context of the mystery cults. Classical Greek writers consistently associate the nocturnal ceremony of the magi with the mysteries as belonging to the same religious-cultural category. This shows that Iranian religious lore included a nocturnal rite that aimed at ensuring the soul’s journey to the beyond and a desirable afterlife.

Challenging the prevalent scholarship of the Greek interpretation of Iranian religious lore and proposing a new analysis of the formation of the Hellenistic concept of ‘magic,’ this book is an important resource for students and scholars of History, Religion and Iranian Studies.

For ToC and haveing a look inside the book see here.

About the Author:

Amir Ahmadi is an Adjunct Researcher at the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, Monash University. He has published in Philosophy, History of Religions and Iranian Studies.

The Pahlavi Yasna of the Gāθās and Yasna Haptaŋhāiti

Malandra, William W. & Pallan Ichaporia (eds.). 2013. The Pahlavi Yasna of the Gāthās and Yasna Haptaŋhāiti. Wiesbaden: Reichert. 2nd ed., corrected.

As the title suggests the book is a study of the Pahlavi Yasna, a Middle Persian (Pahlavi) gloss on the liturgical text, the Yasna. The study is restricted to the Gāthās or Hymns of Zarathustra (Zoroaster) and to the Yasna Haptaŋhāiti, a prose text composed in the same dialect of Avestan. There are three main sections: Introduction, The Text, and Glossary. In addition there are two Appenices: I Parallel Text of the Avestan and Pahalvi Gloss; II The ašәm vohū and its Variants in the Dēnkart. The Introduction is a text-critical study of the Pahlavi Yasna which addresses the main issues of the nature of the text, its authorship and dating, and its relationship to parallels in the Dēnkard. In the presentation of the text, the position is taken that the fundamental text is a nearly word-by-word gloss on the original Avestan. That is, it is not a translation as we might understand the term. Interspersed in the gloss are miscellaneous comments inserted by later hands to illuminate certain words and passages. Appendix I is provided to portray how the glosses line up with the Avestan, ignoring the later comments. The text itself is based on the 1946 critical edition of B. N. Dhabhar given in the Pahlavi script and to which we have provided many improvements. In footnotes we have cited all the parallel passages from the Dēnkard. These reveal that there were exegetical traditions other than the official Pahlavi Yasna. Although Dhabhar’s edition included a glossary, it is not up to the philological standards of current scholarship. There is deliberately no translation into English, as a running gloss of this sort does not lend itself to a coherent translation.
The contribution to the fields of Middle Persian and Zoroastrian studies is really threefold: 1) to establish a reliable text in Roman transliteration; 2) to provide an extensive glossary of all lexical items; 3) to contribute to an understanding of the nature and formation of the text. The intended readership is primarily scholars and students who have some acquaintance with Pahlavi and have an interest in the history of Zoroastrianism.

For more information see the ToC and read both the Preface to this volume as well as a Sample Chapter.
About the authors:
William W. Malandra is Associate Professor of Indo-Iranian Philology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
Pallan R. Ichaporia has BA in Avesta/Pahlavi from Bombay University and attended Columbia University for Post Graduate Study in Iranian Languages under James Russell. He obtained doctorate in Business Administration from Oklahoma.