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On Mithra's part in Zoroastrianism


One of the great problems in the study of Zoroastrianism has been to determine what were the new elements in Zoroaster's teachings—elements which roused such bitter hostility among his own people that he was driven to seek exile and to find his first converts among strangers. It is a problem because, through comparison with the Vedic religion, it has been possible to establish a good deal about the religion of the Iranians before Zoroaster, and naturally even more is known about the religion of the Zoroastrian church after him; and the two are remarkably and disconcertingly similar, as if the second were in many respects a natural development of the first, without any break in continuity, whereas neither is very fully or clearly reflected in Zoroaster's own highly complex Gāthās. Western scholars have fairly generally sought to explain this apparent anomaly by postulating that in many points of doctrine the religion of the Zoroastrian church is not in fact that preached by its prophet; they suppose, that is, that the followers of Zoroaster fairly rapidly betrayed his teachings and evolved a syncretic religion in which they reverted to many ancient beliefs and observances which he himself had denounced.

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1 Paris, 1963.

2 ibid., 17.

3 ibid., 4.

4 ibid., 18.

5 ibid., 5–6.

6 ibid., 6.

7 It is much to be regretted that J. Brough's brilliant demonstration of the weakness of the evidence for the tripartite system (‘The tripartite ideology of the Indo-Europeans: an experiment in method’ BSO AS, XVII, 1, 1959, 69–85)has not been effective inchecking this type of schematic interpretation.

8 op.cit., 58.

9 ibid., 466.

10 ibid., 485.

11 ibid., 521.

12 ibid., 530.

13 See ibid., 522, 530–1.

14 ibid., 24.

15 ibid., 27.

16 ibid., 74.

17 ibid., 85.

18 SeeModi J. J., The religious ceremonies and customs of the Parsees, second ed., Bombay, 1937, 346. When in the Avesta (Yt., xiii, 89) Zoroaster is hailed as the first priest, warrior, and farmer, it is explicitly said that it was as a corporeal being that he fulfilled these roles.

19 op.cit., 525.

20 Bowman J. W. in Peake A. S., Commentary on the Bible,[new ed.,] ed. Black M. and Rowley H. H., London, 1962, 641d.

21 Hinz W., Zarathustra, Stuttgart, 1961, 103.

22 Zaehner R. C., The dawn and twlight of Zoroastrianism, London, 1961. 85. Nyberg H. S., Die Religionen des alten Iran, Schaeder H. H., Leipzing, 1938, 287, had earlier pointed out: ‘…der Haoma-Kult [sitzt] …tief im Zoroastrismus, ist …inning mit ihm verwachsen’.

23 See Zaehner, op.cit. 84–8; Boyce, ‘Ātas-zōhr and āb-zōhr’. JRAS, 1966, 110.

24 This theory presupposes, what most Iranian scholars have come to accept, that Ahura Mazda was already the ‘god of the Iranians’ before Zoroaster lived. There are, of course, dissentients from this view; see Tavadia J. C., Zdmg, c, 1, 1950, 238–41; Hinz, op.cit., 91 ff. On the question of the daēvas see, most recently, Henning W. B., ‘A Sogdian god’, BSOAS, XXVIII, 2, 1965, 253–4; Benvensite E., ‘Hommes et dieux dans I' Avesta’, in G. Wiessner (ed)., Festschrift für W. Eilers, Wiesbaden, 1967, 144–7.

25 Barr K., Avesta, Copenhagen, 1954. 208, held that in Zoroaster's vision Ahura Mazda united the divinities Varuna and Mitra, and that Mithra had therfore no remaining entity according to his teachings. Nyberg, op.cit., 101, argued that Mithra was a god of the night, and that, since Zoroaster attributed this role to Ahura Mazda, Mithra had no place ‘īm ursprünglīchen Pantheon der Gathagemeinde’. (On the theory of Mithra as Nachtgottsee Gershevitch I., The avestan hymn to Mithra, Cambridge, 1959, 36–8.) Zaehner, op. cit., 71, stated that ‘Zoroaster did away with all personal gods except Ahura Mazdāh himself and the Holy Spirit’.

26 This interpreation has been put perhaps most strongly by H. Humbach and by W. Hinz. In this Zarathustra, 75, Hinz Wrote: ‘Mit diesem uralten Gott der In Der iranische Mithra als Daiva’. Paideuma, VII, 46, 1960, 257, Humbach wrote: ‘Der Daiva par excellence aber iist …Zarthustra ohne Zweifel Mithra gewesen’.

27 Lommel H., Die Religion Zarthustras, Tübingen, 1930,277, says of the yazatas in general: ‘Die konkreten Götterpersönlichkeiten …hat Zarathustra versohwinden lassen’; and he speaks of the prophet's turing from ‘dem alten, aus der heidnischen Naturreligion stammenden Volksgott Mithra’ (bid., 77). Gershevitch finds it ‘unbelievable that Zoroaster should have regarded…Mithra with the detestation usually imputed to him by modern scholars’ (op. cit., 48), but he too thinks that Zoroaster found it necessary to exclude him from his own religion. J. Duchesne-Guillemin, in his more recent writtings on the subject (see, e.g., his latest work, symbols and ralues in Zoroastrianism, New York, 1966, 35), contents himself with saying that Zoroaster ignored Mithra. This is a facutal statement as far as the Gāthās are concerned; but it is difficult to grasp its implications, unless, with Mole, one believes that the Gathic religion reached only an inner circle, and that its followers were indifferent to the beliefs of the many. A prophet with a universal message must have some attitude to a god worshipped by those among whom he preaches, whether it is rejection or acceptance.

28 This theory has been put with mathematical clarity by Gershevitch, op. cit., 9: ‘The Avesta is a collection of scared writtings belonging to two religions, which are conveniently referred to as Zarathuštranism and Zoroastrianism. The former is the doctrine preached by Zarathuštra…the latter…an Iranian religious knowń which includes Zarthuštrianism and began to be formulated in Avestan language in the second half of the fifth century B.c.'. The use of the terms Zarthuštrian and Zoroastrian was first proposed by Lommel, op. cit., 8–9, but with caution and a stres upon the elements of continuty linking the texts. in suggesting these terms as useful, Lommel wrote of the Younger Avesta (p.9): ‘Vielmehr wird es manchmal so sein, dass dunkle Hinweise auf solche systemartige Zusammenhältesten Texten wirklich vorhanden sind, aber bei isolierender Betrachtung der Gathas nicht verstanden werden könnten, such jedoch aufklären, wenn wir sie eingliedern in das aus zusammenfassender Betrachtung sich ergebende Lehrgebäude. So wird sich erkennen lassen, dass manches bei Zarathustra schon ausgebildet oder vorgebildet war, was uns erst in den späteren Quellen mit Voller Deutlichkeit entgegentritt. Man soll nāmlich such nicht glauben, das alles, was aus der nachzarathustrischen Literatur den sinnvollen Zusammenhang einer Weltanschauung erkennen lässt, nur Zutat, im Grunde also nur Missversändnis der eigenen Religion sei. Trotz mancher verknöcherung, Veräusserlichung und Verflachung ist den Anhäangern des Zarathustra denn doch der eigentliche Gehalt seiner Lehre nicht so bald enstchwunden’. Benveniste, in Festschrift für W. Eilers, 147, has stressed how much, in language and terminology, ‘les Gāthās ont agi sur la rédaction de I' Avesta ultérieur’. Gershevitch has refined further on the use of the terms Zarathuštrain and Zoroastrian in his article ‘Zoroaster's own contribution’, Jnes, XXIII, 1, 1964, 12 ff,; although he stresses there the steadfast preservation of Zoroaster's ethical teachings, despite postulated changes in doctrine.

29 H. M. and Chadwick N. K., The growth of literature, Cambridge, 1932–40. III, 867.

30 ibid., III, 867.

31 The discussion of the composition of the yašt by by. Christensen A., Les kayanides, Copenhagen, 1932, 10 ff., is partly invalidated by his using criteria more proper to a written than to an oral literature; and the same criticism, to a lesser degree, applies, in the present writer's opìnion, to the analysis of the Mihr Yaāt by Gershevitch, A H M, 22 ff. For although Dr. Gershevitch is plainly right in deprecating an attempt ‘to carve up the hymn into layers’, yet equally plainly an ancient hymn, transmitted by the dual process of improvisation and memorization, has different state, even thought it reaches us in the form of a unified composition. Thus, to take one small example, the late Proffessor Henning held that the words zarōš ayawhō frahixtam (Yt., x, 96, 132 ) meant ‘cast in the yellow metal’, i.e. bronze; and he belived that thīs phrase had become fixed with regard to Mithra in the Bronz Age, when bronze was ‘the’ metal. The Iranian Bronze Age is generally considered to have drawn to an end c. 1000–800 B.C. Fine bronze mace-heads have been found, e.g., at Marlik, and other contemporary Iranian sites; see Negahhban E., a preliminary report on Marlik excavation, Tehran, 1964, 21, 32, figs. 57–9. (For a discussion of other interpreations of the yašt passage see Gershevitch, A H M, 245.) It seems more likely that this and other ancient elements in the Mihr Ya't (whose existence, of course, Gershevitch fully recognizes) Were preserved in the flow of an uninterrupted tradition, rather than that their presence results from a deliberate synthesis, made consciously in a work composed at a particular point of time. The theory of a single religious tradition compassing the change from Gathic to Younger Avestan while there were still kings in Aryana vaējah requires of course the postulate of a date for Zoroaster considerably earlier than by a number of scholars, among them K. Barr, I. M. D' yakonov, F. B. J. Kuiper, and I. M. Oranskiy.

32 It is evident that Mithra-worship was strong among the Iranian peoples to the north-east of Iran proper (see, most recently, H. von Stietncron, Indische Sonnenpriester, Wiesbaden, 1966, 232 f.); but even here, where there seem to have been cults where Mithra was the chief god, it cannot be established that he was ever worshipped alone. On this poiī see further F.B. J. Kuiper, ‘Remarks on “The Avestan hymn to Mithra”’, IIJ, 1, 1961, 56.

33 See Zaechner, op. cit., 87; Duchesne-Guillemin, Lareligion del' Iran ancien, 1962, 1962, 99f.; Boyce, JRAS, 1966, p. 110 with n. 3.

34 See Boyce, ‘Haoma, priest of the sacrifice’, W. B.Henning memorian volume (in the press).

35 This fact has been recognized by Gershevitch, who would plainly like to reconcile prophet and god. He points out (AHM, p. 33, n.): ‘That the Iranian Mithra's warlike character is derived from him “force de punir” was clearly seen by Miellet' [See A. Meillet, JA, X Ser., X, juillet-aboût 1907, 154], and states (p.49)that ' as guardian of the contract, an aspect of the Truth on which Zarathuštra laid great store …Mithra had every claim to Zarathuštra's affection’. See further his p. 67. Molé (op. cit., 21) does less than justice to these statements by Gershevitch, when affirming his own conviction that ' le caractére fondamental [de Mithra] allait très bien avec la conceptīon gāthīque’. Hinz, on the other had (op. cit., 74–5), stress Yt., x, 29: ‘You, Mithra, are both wicked and most good to countries … both wicked and most good to men’ (tūmakō vahištasča miqra ahi daidhubyō akō vahištasČa … mašyākaēibyō). He imagines the priest-poet to have felt 'ein Gefühl des Schreckens … vor dem “bösen” Gott … Beschwichtigend, mit falschem Zungenschlag, priest er ihn schnell als den “Besten”. Aber Mithras dämonische Wirklichkeit, seine menschenverderbende Bös-heit vermochten noch so viele schönfaäberīsche Strophen nicht ganz zu verhüllen’. That there was awe and some dread in the worship of Mithra, as in that of Ahura Mazda, or of Jehovah, none would deny; but the ‘wickedness’ of v. 29, as Gershevitch suggests (AHM, 53), may well be no more than Mithra' fearsomeness for sinners; so also P. Thieme, ‘Mitra and Aryaman’, Trans. of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, XLI, 1957, 2728; Benveniste, ‘Mithra aux vastes pâturages’, JA, CCXLVIII, 4, 1960, 429.

36 Few would accept the hypothesis of H. Humbach (OLZ, Lv, 9–10, 1960 col. 514;Paideuma, VII, 4–6, 254) that in Y, XLVI, 5, uruātōiš vā … miθrōibyō vā an aversion from Mithra is indicated, the word miθra having been put in the plural so that the prophet might avoid soiling his lips with what, in the singular, was also the name of this god. The very fragility of this argument is an indication of the lack of real evidence for Zoroaster's rejection of Mithra. [Professor Humbach has since said in conversation that he made this point in the light of the generally-held belief in Zoroaster's rejection of Mithra, rather than as an argument which could have independent force].

37 On the association of these and minor gods with Mithra see Gershevitch, AHM, 58–60, 193–5.

38 See Kuiper, IIJ, V, I, 1961, 56.

39 op.cit., 33.

40 Verbal communication, 1945. For other interpretations see, most recently, following Lommel, Gershcvitch, AHM, 165; Humbach. Die Gathas des Zarathustra, Heidelberg, 1959, I, 48–9, 156, II, 101. For some penetrating observations see Nyberg, op. cit., 270.

41 There is a full discussion of the significance of the pronouns, and of the passage themselves, By Gershevitch, AHM, 163–6. On Y, LI, 22 see also Hinz, op. cit., 106.

42 Yt., X, 54–5.

43 See Gershevitch, AHM, p. 19 with n.

44 See Thieme, op. cit., 59.

45 For the Sīrōze passage(sīrōze I, 16)see Dhabhar B. N., Zand-i Khūrtak Avistāk, text Bombay, 1927. 170, transl., Bombay, 1963, 325. For the Pahlavi of Mihr Niyāyišn, 10, see ibid.. text, p. 23, transl., pp. 40–1. Ingeneral the expression aoxtō. nāmana is used liturgically in all ‘lesser’ xšnūmans. The implication of Y, V, 3 is presumably different, referring to the reverent applecation of Ahura Mazda, rather than to the mystery of the supreme God's unkown personal name.

46 See Boyce, ‘On mithra in the Manichaean pantheon’ in Henning W. B. and Yarshater E. (ed.) A loust's leg: studies in honour of S. H. Taqizadeh, london, 1962, 4454.

47 See, e.g., Sznycer M., ‘Nouveaux ostraca de NisaSemitica. XII, 1962. 105–26.

48 Zaehner, op. cit., 179.

49 Tabarī, ed. Nöldeke, 4.

50 See ibid., 17.

51 See ibid., p. 4, n. 2.

52 See, e.g., his inscription on the Ka'be-yi Zardušst, ed. Henning W. B., Corpus inscriptionum iranicarum, III, vol. II, plates, portfolio III, Plates LXXV-LXXVI,; M. Sprengling, Third century Iran, Sapor and Kartir, Chicago, 1953, 4751. Chaumont M. L., ‘Le culte de la déesse anāhitā’. JA. CCLIII, 2, 1965. 167–81, has recently stressed the importance of the cults of Anāhīd and Mihr for the early Sassanian kings. Yet she still writes (p. 169)of 'le mazdéisme réformé et épuré de I'Iran des permiers Sassanidel’; and she carrère’, while in his ’orthodoxy’ regarding Anāhīd, whom he thus served, as slittle more than a dēw. Such an interpretation obliges one however, to attribute a degree of spiritual dishonesty to this great prelate which seems unjustified. Nor is there evidence for doctrinal schism at this time between rulers and priests; on the contrary, the unity of church and state is a well-established Sassnian concept.

53 Paīkuli (Pahlavi), I. 10; ed. Herzfeld, P. 98.

54 See Tabarī, ed. Nöideke, P. 4. n. 2.

55 SeeHoffmann G., Auszüge aus syrischen akten persischer märtyrer, Leipzing, 1880, 29. The especial veneration of Anāhīd and Mihr by the Sasanians in Pārs is an admirable example of Iranian religious conservatism, since these are the only tow yazatas, under Ōhrmazd, who were explicitly honoured by their predecessors the Achaesmenians. For more details concerning the veneration of Mithra and Anāhitā by the Achaemenians see Cumont F., Textes et monuments figurés relatifs aux mystères de Mithra, Brussels, 1899, I, 229f.

56 The relevant passage from Syriac sources have been brought together by Christensen A., 'Iran Sous les Sassanides, second ed., Copenhagen, 1944. 143–5. For Sasanian seals see, most recently, Bivar A. D. H., Catalogue of the western Asiatic seals in the BM. Stamp seals, II. The Sassanian dynasty, London, 1969. As well as personal names compounded with Mithra–s, there is the inscription on the Bm seal no. 120334, ‘L mtry, as variant of the common ‘pst’n ‘yzdty/yzd’n.

57 Ch. XXVi, 74; ed. T. D. Anklesaria, Bombay, 1908, 172. 11–12; transl. (with emended reading frāz) by Anklesaria B. T., Zand-ākāsīh, Bombay, 1956. 223.

58 ibid., XXVi, 70; ed. T. D. A., 172.1.

59 Dādistān ī dēnīg, xiii, 3; ed. Anklesaria T. D., Bombay, 1903, 30; transl. by E. W. West (as xiv, 3), SBE, XVIII, 33. The passage can fiftly be taken in conjunction with Y, XLVI, 17 where Ahura Mazda himself is said to be the judge between righteous and sinner. Zaehner (op. cit., 56) has argued from this that the prophet's zeal was so great on behalf of Abura Mazda, ‘whom he regarded as the one trude God who would brook no rival’, that he banished from his own tenets the doctrine regarding the judges Mithra, Sraoša, and Rašnu. This latter doctrine evidently belongs, however, to a detailed expostition of the faith, whereas the prophet's own vision swept him on to speak only of Ahura Mazda as the ultimate ruler of men's destiny; ef. Dd., XXX, 10 (ed. T. D. A., 60; transl. West, 66); āmārgar Ōhrmazd, Wahman, Mihr, Srōš ud Rašn. Harw ēwag pad xwēš hangām hamē pad rāstīh āmār kunēd‘ the judges (are) Ōhrmazd, Vahman, Mihr, Sröš, and Rašn. Each one always judges rightly at his own time’.

60 See Gershevitch, AHM, 119 with commentary, 240–2.

61 Pahlavi Rivāyat accompanying the Dādistān ī dēnīg, ch. x, 1; ed. Dhabhar B. N., Bombay, 1913, 31. 1314; transl. Mirza H. P., Ph.D. thesis, University of London, 1940, 190.

62 Šāyest nē-šāest xxiii, 3, ed. M. Davar, Bombay, 1912, 109; West, SBE, V, 405.

63 Yt., x, 29, see above, p. 17, n. 35.

64 Dd., xiii, 3 (Dhabhar, 30; West, 33).

65 ibid., cf. Mēnōg ī Xrad, ii, 118–20 (ed. West, Bombay, 1871, 9) and passim.

66 Dēnkard, IX, 39.9 (38.9), ed. D. P. Sanjana, XVIII, 30, D. M. Madan 857.10 f.; transl. West, SBE, XXXVII, 277–8. For Mithra's part at the individual judgment cf. Vd., XIX, 28

67 Zand ī Vohūman Yasn, ed. Anklesaria B. T., Bombay, 1957, vii, 31, 34 (pp. 66, 67).

68 Shapur Bharucha's Rivāyat, see Unvala M. R., Dārāb Hormazyār's Rivāyat, Bombay, 1922, I, 257. 57; transl.byDhabhar B. N., The Persian Rivayats of Hormazyar Framarz, Bombay, 1932, 260.

69 e.g. Šnš., xxii, xxiii.

70 e.g. GBd., xvia.

71 This explanation was given me by Ervad Dr. Firoze M. Kotwal of Navsari, on the authority of his late grandfather, Ervad Pirojshah Adarji Kotwal (d. A.D. 1943); and, coming as it does from a reliable Zoroastrian source, it seems preferable to that suggested by Cumont, TMMM, I, p. 230, n. 1, 303, namely that since Mithra was μειΓης, inhabiting the Middle Zone between Heaven and Hell, the sixteenth or middle day of each month was given to him. The importance of the assignment of the sixteenth day, ‘als zweitwichtigsten’, to Mithra has already been noticed by Humbach, Paideuma, VII, 4–6, 255. Nyberg, JA, CCXIX, juillet-sept. 1931, 128 ff., earlier pointed out that the arrangement of the days of the month suggested the importance of the first (Ōhrmazd), ninth (Ādar), sixteenth (Mihr), and twenty-fourth (Dēn). Ervad Pirojshah Kotwal whose authority is cited here, was a dedicated yōždaθragar, who passed most of his days celebrating services in the Vadi Dar-i Mihr of Navsari. As head ofthe Kotwal family he was the hereditary authority on rituals in Navsari; and he has left behind him, not only oralexplanations, but also written notes for other priests on matters of tradition and observance. His explanation ofMithra's place among the yazatas is approved by Dastur Khodadad Neryosangi of Sharīfābād in Iran, who, though now a parish priest (hūšt-mōbed), is also a trained yōždaθragar, who has spent his whole life as a practising priest. The purest living Zoroastrian tradition is undoubtedly to be learnt from such yōždaθragars, who have had small contact with juddīns, and who are wholly unconcerned to justify their faith to them, willing though they may be to expound it. Some Western scholars, used to a dependence upon written authority, remain sceptical aboutthe antiquity of even this innermost Zoroastrian tradition; but a hereditary priesthood, strictly trained in theperformance of precise and detailed rituals, of whose value its members are profoundly convinced, can be an admirable instrument of conservation.

72 With regard to the months there is, however, the problem that, though Mithra has what appears to be his proper place with the seventh month, the month of Ahura Mazda, i.e. Dai, is the tenth and not the first. Previous explanations of this have recently been cast into doubt by E. J. Bickerman, see his article ‘The “Zoroastrian” calendar’, Archiv Orientální, xxxv, 2, 1967, 197–207. On the position of Mithra's yašt as tenth among the 20 see Duchesne-Guillemin, La religion de I'ran ancien, 124.

73 MX, liii, 4 (ed. West, 50).

74 Dk., ix, 22.1 (21.1), ed. Sanjana, xvn, 58–9, Madan, 815.4–6; transl. West, SBE, XXXVII,219; cf. Yt., x, 97 (miƟrƏm … yahmaṯ haĀa fratƏrƏsaiti aēšmō duždā pƏšō.tanuš, yahmaṯ haĀa fratƏrƏsaiti būšyasta darƏyō.gava). Since the second recital of the Mihr Niyāyišn by night must be in the Ušahin Gāh, Lommel appears justified in his comment on these Avestan words (see his Die Yäšts des Awesta, Göttingen and Leipzig, 1927, 65), that Bušyasta is here the demoness of slothful sleep, extending into the light of day. See further Benveniste, ‘Deux noms divins dans ľAvesta’, RHR, CXXX, 1945, 14–16. Otherwise Thieme, op. cit., p. 30, n. 16.

75 It is one of the six basic obligations of the faith to recite the Khoršēd and Mihr Niyāyišn together thrice daily, in the three daylight gāhs. The only restrictive injunction is that these two Niyāyišn should not be recited in the presence of fire (see Unvala, op. cit., i, 325.19; Dhabhar, p. cit., 304). Formerly it was evidently considered desirable to recite the Mihr Niyāyišn in the night gāhs as well, Mihr being ever-vigilant and the great protector against demons; but presumably the close association of the yazata with the sun led in course of time to the present observance, which is that the Mihr Niyāyišn is recited only by day.

76 Al-Bīrūnī, The chronology of ancient nations, ed. E. Sachau, 222; transl., 208.

77 Loc. cit.; the term ‘angels’ is evidently an Islamic substitution for the invocation of Mithra.

78 Yt., x, 26 (Gershevitch, AHM, 87).

79 Yt., x, 68 (Gershevitch, 107).

80 The strength of t h e Parsi tradition is well known. For some striking instances of the strength of the Irani tradition see JRAS, 1966, 105–12, and particularly p. 108, n. 3, BSOAS, XXXI, 1, 1968, 52–68, and 2, 1968, 270–87, and particularly 281–2.

81 This is on the authority of Ervad Pirojshah.

82 This also is on t h e authority of Ervad Pirojshah, confirming what is said by J. J. Modi, op. cit., 193–4. The ox-headed mace is also of course associated in legend with Farēōn (Thraētaona), who appears wielding it on amulets of t h e Parthian and Sasanian periods (see Bivar A. D. H., ‘A Parthian amulet’, BSOAS, xxx, 3, 1967, 518 ff.); and Zoroastrian priests sometimes refer to their own maces as gurz-i Farēdōn. There is in fact a link between Mihr and Farēdōn, perhaps because both are great destroyers of demons; and in Sasanian, as in living Zoroastrian, tradition, Farēdōn is held to be the founder of the Mihragān (see al-Bīrūnī, loc. cit.). This tradition presumably developed because in religious and epic tradition Farēdōn is regarded as a mortal man. Thus, though he is still often invoked by Zoroastrians for help against sickness, religious services may n o t be dedicated to him, b u t only solemnized for his sake (nāmĀištā), with the xšnūman of Ardā Fravaš (cf. above, p. 12). In Yt., xix, 36–8, Mithra as yazata is linked with the mortal heroes Thraētaona and KƏrƏsāspa. As a warrior-king, therefore, who conquered a great druj, Farēdōn was evidently held to have established a feast in honour of t h e waxrioT-yazata Mihr, who, i t is clear from al-Bīrūnā, was believed to have given him divine aid in overcoming Dahāk. The special significance of t h e Mihragān as a festival for young men (see JRAS, 1966, p. 107 with n. 3) is thereby explained, since through Farēdōn's victory t h e annual sacrifice of youths to Dahāk was ended. (This detail is on the authority of Dastur Khodadad.)

83 Details from Ervad Firoze.

84 On the moti khiib see Modi, op. cit., 140, and further apud Boyce ‘Rapithwin, Nō Rūz, and the feast of Sade’, Festschrift F. B. J. Kniper, The Hague, 1969, p. 205, n. 36. For the above facts of ritual observance I am indebted to Ervad Firoze.

85 That the importance of performing ceremonies and also obtaining 'amal in the Hāvan Gāh is due to the need for the protection of Mithra is on the authority of Ervad Pirojshah. Dastur Khodadad concurs.

86 For the invocation of Mithra with the Hāvan Gāvan Gāh see, e. g., Y, I, 3; II, 3, III, 5; IV, 8; VI, 2, VII, 5; LXVI, 2. On the words MiθušrÝn see apud Gershevitch, AHM, 269.

87 Dk., IX, 9.7 (8.5), ed. Sanjana, XVII, 15, Madan, 793. 13–15; transl. West, SBE, XXXVII, 183–4. In this passage, attributed to the eighth fargard of the Sūdgar Nask, the names are given of the five yazatas who have jurisdiction over the ceremonies of each of the five gāhs. This accords, naturally, with the invocation of these yazatas in the yasna and minor services; cf. also GBd., iii, 22. It has been suggested that MIthra's especial protection of rituals was one factor in aiding the transfer to him Mithraism of the animal sacrifice, see Boyce, ‘Haoma, priest of the sacrifice’, in Henning memorial volume.

88 Vessantara Jātaka, ed. Benvensite, Paris, 1946 II, 1205–06; for the interpretatīon see Gershevitch, AHM, 34–5 with 240–2.

89 Verbal communication in 1963.

90 On instances ancient swearing of oaths by Mithra see Cumont, TMMM, I, 229; Henning, BSOAS, XXVIII, 2, 1965, 248. On miθrō.drug Gershevitch, AHM, 153; Thieme, BSOAS, XXIII, 2, 1960, 268. The full ritual of administering the oath, with the drinking of sōgand, and the Avesta to be recited, is given in the longer version of the Sōgand-nāme preserved in the Rivāyat of Shapur Bharucha, see Unvala, op., I, 51.4 f., transl. Dhabhar, 46, end, f. In the Sōgand-name the kinds of sin (contract-breaking, fraud, and theft) which constitute mihr-drūj [sic] are listed, and the importance of preventing them is stressed, since the gate of heven is closed against the man who commits mihr-drūj (see Unvala, op. cit., I, 47. 3–5, Dhabhar, 41). Dastur Khodadad states that in Yazd the oath-taking at the Dar-i Mihr concluded with this fromula, also used at the marriage ceremony: Dādār Ōhrmazd u Mihr u Srōš u Rašn rāst be šumā gavāh bāšand. Āzar-Xorde [sic] u Āzar-Gušnasp u Āzar Burzēn-Mihr be šumā gavāh bāšand. Frōhar ī Zarādušt Asfantamān be šmā gavāh bāšad. Har kasī ke hāzir and, be šumā gavāh bāšand. Man be fulān mōbad-am, be šumā gavāh hastam.

91 Information from Ervad Firoze.

92 SeeJackson A. V. Williams, Persia past and present, New York, 1909, 372.

93 See Festschrift F. B. J. kuiper, 201–15.

94 See ibid., 213, 214.

95 Gershevitch, AHM, 286, rightly emphasizes the vitality of the conception of Aštād, the hypostasis of Justice. She is one of the most venerated yazatas in living Zoroastrianism, and there is evidence of her similar importance in Sasanian times, see BSOAS, XXXI, 2, 1968, 280–2.

96 i.e. a ‘gahāmbār” observance apart from one of the six great gahāmbārs, often, as the name indicates, performed in expiation; but now the term is used generally in Iran for all such minor gahā, nārs.

97 In the Persian Rivāyats it is enjoined that a thank-offering should be made yearly to Mithra, on the day before the Mihragān, for the three years after the birth of a son; see Unvala, op. cit., II, 70–1; Dhabhar, op. cit., 436; and cf. Anquetil du Perron, Le zend-Avesta, II, 551. On the recital of the Mihr Niyāyišn to the yazata for his help in time of sickness see Unval, op. cit., I, 286. 4 f., Dhabhar, op. cit., 279.

98 This is on the authority of Dastur Khodadad.

99 In Karachi a Parsi lady mentioned to me in conversation that she had found one of her small grandchildren fibbing, and had admonished him to remember that Meher was watching and would know the truth. The Parsis do not have shrines to the great yazatas, but they offer them devotion none the less.

100 This must be qualified, since there now exists in Sharīfābād a shrine to Dādvar-Ōhrmizd, one of the five shrines in the village, and the smallest of them all. Between 30 and 40 years ago Mundagar-i Rustam Abadian (who died in 1966) set aside this little building as a holy place, because of a dream he had dreamt. For years it was known simply as the Pīr-i Mundagar, or Pīr-j Mund, and was the subject of some gentle mockery. Mothers would scold bad children with the threat: ‘I shan't take you to any of the shrines, not even to the Pīr-i Mund’. But gradually, devotions offered there gave the little building an increasing sanctity; and a few years ago a pious behdīn pressed for adopting its present dedication. No priest would have initiated this dedication, which is not in the tradition of the faith; but it has been quietly accepted as expressing a true desire to honour the Creator.

101 During the marriage ceremony in Iran husband and wife choose their own special protectior from one of three yazatas, Mihr, Vahrām, and Aštād. The special devotion of the Achaemenian and Sasanian royal houses to Mithra and Anāhitā may be considered in the same light, even if on a more exalted level; thus it is evidently as protector that Mithra stands behind Ardašr II at Tāq-i Bustān, for example.

102 cf. Khoršēd Niyāyišn, § 5 (Y, LXVIII, 22): nǝmō Miθrāi … nǝmō Hvarō.ešaētāi … nǝmō ābyō dōiθrābyō yā Ahurahe Mazdā ‘ homage to Mithra, homage to the Lord Sun, homage to these two eyes of Ahura Mazda’. The passage has generally been otherwise interprete4d (i.e. that the ‘eyes’ are the Sun and Moon), but the traditional priestly explanation fits the context admirably.

103 These traditions concerning Mihr and Khoršēd are on the authority of Ervad Pirojshah; and they explain why Mihr is both held to accompany Khoršēd by day (Xaršēd u Mihirpa agnīn rawēnd ‘Khoršēd and Mihr travel together’. MX, liii, 4), and is also regarded as being present in the night sky. The tradition clarifies a number of points, and does away with the need to followDarmesteter in postulating a journey back by Mithra from west to east after dark has fallen. Mithra, the ever-vigilant, is present wherever and whenever there is light in the sky, sunlight or moonlight, starlight or the dawn. Henning, who did not accept the theory of Mithra's backward journey, translated Yt., x, 95, literally as follows: ‘Mithra of the wide pastures … who, having the breadth of the earth (zǝm.frθā), goes, touches after sunset both ends of this broad, round earth …’, taking this to mean that by th time the sun has set Mithra has touched both horizons. Similarly Thieme, op. cit., 32. (For other interpretations see Gershevitch, AHM, 38 ff) Since Mithra presides over all luminaries, it seems possible that he is in fact properly to be associated with haxōδra-yaṯ asti haxδranam vahištδm antarǝ māňhaǝmČa hvarǝČa, Yt., vi, 5, see Gershevitch, AHM, 227–8. On Mithra as the god of the Light see further Kuiper, IIj, v, 1, 1961, 46, 55. It is noteworthy that in the Mihr Niyāyišn (§ 12) Mithra is worshipped, not with the sun alone, but with the sun alone, but with ‘the stars, the moon, and the sun’.

104 In the Phl. Riv. Dd., ch. xviid (ed. Dhabhar, 51. 11–13)Ōhrmazd is represented as himself enjoining this on teh prophet: yazišn ī Dādār Ōhrmazd kardan, Čē pad ēn harw kas ham-dādistān, ku yuzišn ī Ōhrmazed ē abāyēd kardan ‘Perform the yasna of the Creator Ōhrmazd, for all are agreed upon this, that the yasna of the Creator Ōhrmazd should be performed’.

105 No Christian church, to my knowledge, is ever dedicated to God the Father. A dedication to the Trinity is the nearest approach.

106 SeeBSOAS, XXX, 1, 1967, p. 42, n. 41, p. 43.

107 See Benveniste, The Persian religion according to the chief Greek texts, Paris, 1929, 22 ff. The only āyadana whose dedication is known is an 'yzn nnystkn, a ‘temple of Nanai’, among the Parthians of Nisa, see I. M. D'yakonov and Livshits V. A., Dokumenty iz Nisy, MOscow, 1960, 24; cited by Frye R. N., The heritage of Persia, London, [1963], 201. Permanent sanctuaries are of course an essential feature of Zoroastrianism, with its cult of the ever-burning Fire.

108 See, most recently, the English translation, The letter of Tansar (Rome Oriental Series. Literary and Historical Tedts from Iran, I), 1968, intor., 7, 11, p. 22 with n. 2, and cf. above p. 21, n. 46. The Zoroastrian tradition of the preservation of the Avesta and Zand by Valaxš the Arsacid remains the strongest single piece of evidence for Parthian Zoroastrianism; and it is well supported by the testimony of the Nisa ostraca. Bickerman, op. cit., 205, surmises from the Nisa material that it was Parthians who introduced the Zoroastrian calender to the rest of Iran.

109 See ‘Zariadres and Zarēr’, BSOAS, XVII, 3, 1955, 471 ff.; ‘The Prthian gōsān and Iranian minstrel tradition’. JRAS, 1957, 12.

110 The burial customs of the Parthian, and to a lesser extemt, of the Sasanian period continue, however, to present a problem.

111 On bāj ceremonies in general see Modi, op. cit., 336 ff.

112 This fact of ritual is recorded as an Irani practice by Dastur Erachji Sohrabji Dastur Meherji Rana in his nineteenth-century Gujarati work Purseš pāsox (published Bombay, 1941). My attention was drawn to it by Ervad Firoze Kotwal, when we were working together in 1967; and we both subsequently made further inquiries. Ervad Firoze, writing from India, states that, though the Bhagarias and some others recite the bāj of Mihr on R؛z Mihr, Māh Mihr with the xšnuman of Ōhrmazd, there are some Parsi priests who omit this dedication then. On the other hand, Dastur Khodadad Neryosangi says that in Yazd the xšn؛man of Ōhrmazd is recited even at the Mihrag؛n. Its omission on this occasion by Irani priests is therefore presumably Kirmānī practice.

113 See BSOAS, xxxi, 2, 1968, 277, f.

114 Its observance was indicated by Anquetil du Perron, op. cit., 551.

115 There are some exceptions nowadays, due to the increased mobility of the population. Thus in Mazra' Kalāntar there is a celebration of the Mihragān which is endowed by a villager who has gone to live in Bombay.

116 See Gershevitch, AHM, 193, with references. The omission of the dedication of Ōhrmazd from the Srōš Bāj is justified in the following words in the Phl. Riv. Dd., ch. lvi, 3 (ed. Dhabhar, 166–7): abārīg abāg Ōhrmazd yazišn, bē az Srōš, čē Srōš xwadāy ud dehbed – gēhān ast. ēd rāy judāīhā abāyēd yaštan ‘Worship should be offered the other (yazads) together with Ōhrmazd, except Srōš. For Srōš is lord and master of the world; for this reason he should be worshipped separtely’. It seems reasonable to suppoe that it is a Mithra's vice-regent that SrŌ؛ is accorded this special position. It is hoped to consider this point in greater detail in a subsequent article.

117 Information through Ervad Firoze. the same liturgical prescriptions, namely celebration only in the Hāvan Gāh, with invocation accordingly of Mithra, apply also to the Sīrōze Bāj, but to no other.

118 Pahlavi Vištāp Yas؛t, 52, see Zand-i Khūrtak Avistāk, ed. Dhabhar, Bombay, 1927, 211, 1215. The world kunišn could also be rendered as ‘actions’. There does not appear to have been a technical term for ‘rituals’ in Middle persian.

119 See Gershevitch, AHM, 54.

120 So Darmesteter, Le Zend-Avesta, i, p. 360, n. 5, followed by Bartholomae. Gershevitch himself (AHM, 55–7) sees in θwōrəštar- a reference rather to Spenta Mainyu. On the concept of protection inherent in Mithra's fixed epithet of vouru.gaoyaoiti see Thieme, BSOAS, XXIII, 2, 1960, 2734; Benveniste, J A, CCXLVIII, 4, 1960, 421–9.

121 This ancient unity of Zoroastrianism was adumbrated by Nyberg in Die Religionen des alten Iran, where he suggested that the putative syncretism was carried out, not in later ages, but by the prophet himself in his own lifetime.

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