Page images

insects. By eating a certain kind of fruit, he transformed himself into a serpent, and went gliding about on the earth to tempt human beings. His Devs entered the bodies of men and produced all manner of diseases. They entered into their minds, and incited them to sensuality, falsehood, slander and revenge. Into every department of the world they introduced discord and death. When Ormuzd tried to lead men against Arimanes, they deserted him and joined the enemy, thus enabling him to gain the ascendancy on earth and keep it for three thousand years.

The laws of Zoroaster were given to guide men back to true worship. The Zend-Avesta tells us that in view of the accumulation of evil, he cried out in prayer: “O Ormuzd, steeped in brightness, what shall I do, in order to battle successfully with Arimanes, the father of evil ? How shall I make men pure and holy ?”

Ormuzd answered: “O Zoroaster, invoke Zeruâné Akeréné. Invoke the Amshaspands, who shed abundance throughout the seven planets. Invoke the birds, travelling on high. Invoke the swift wind, the earth, and the heaven. Invoke my Spirit, who am the strongest, wisest, best of beings; who have the most majestic body, who am supreme in purity, whose soul is the excellent Word. All ye people, invoke me, as I have commanded Zoroaster."

“Thou, O Zoroaster, by the promulgation of my Law, shalt restore to me my former glory, which was pure light. Up! haste thee to the Land of Iran, which thirsteth after the Law, and say, thus sayeth Ormuzd: “Thou, O Iran, which I created pure, and radiant in brightness, shalt restore to me my ancient glory. Thou shalt utterly uproot all impure thoughts; all kinds of death, all sorcery, all evil shalt thou destroy.'

The Eternal One had from the beginning limited the duration of time to twelve thousand years. Notwithstanding the activity and beneficence of the Spirits of Light, Arimanes would often have the mastery, especially in the latter time. But pure souls have nothing to fear. The Eternal has decreed the ultimate triumph of good. When

the earth seems most afflicted with evil, he will send prophets to succour the distressed, and reveal to mortals the heavenly light. Finally, the whole world will become converted to the worship of Zoroaster. Men will cease to eat meat, and live on milk and fruit; afterward, they will sustain themselves on water only; at last, they will become so ethereal, that they will take no nourishment whatsoever, and yet not die.

At the appointed time, the Ized Serosch will summon the Holy One to appear, whose mission it is to judge the wicked and the good, and restore the world to its primeval beauty. He will bring all the world to the worship of Zoroaster, and establish universal peace and happiness. At his command, bodies will rise from their graves. Souls will know them, and will say: “That is my father, or my brother, my wife, or my sister.” The wicked will say to the good: “Wherefore, when I was in the world, did you not teach me to act righteously? O, ye pure ones, it is because you have not instructed me, that I am excluded from the assembly of the blest."

Each one will be judged according to his works. The good father may have a wicked daughter, and of two sisters, one may be pure and the other impure. The good will weep over the evil

, and the evil will weep over themselves. A star with a tail, in the course of its revolutions, will strike the earth, and set it on fire. The fierce heat will make metals run down from high mountains and flow over the earth like rivers. All men must pass through them. To the good they will be like baths of warm milk; to the wicked they will be like torrents of lava. But they will be purified through fire, and come forth excellent and happy. Arimanes and his imps will be driven by Good Spirits through the burning torrents of melted metal, that they may become purified also. Even they will at last feel the overpowering influence of goodness, and will prostrate themselves before Ormuzd, who will accept their repentance and forgive them freely. These redeemed Spirits will join mankind in a universal chorus of praise to the

Eternal Source of light and blessing. Fathers and sons, sisters and friends, will unite to aid each other in good works. They will cast no shadows, all speak one language, and live together in one harmonious society. The level and fruitful earth will be clothed with renovated beauty, and innocence and joy will everywhere prevail. After that, Ormuzd will repose for a while.

Such is the account given in the Sacred Scriptures of the ancient Persians, called the Zend-Avesta. The following is a concise statement of the moral teaching therein contained : “Worship, with humility and reverence, Ormuzd, the giver of blessings, and all the Spirits, to whose care he has intrusted the universe. Men ought reverently to salute the Sun, and praise him, but not pay him religious worship.”

Obey strictly all the laws given to Zoroaster.”

“Kings are animated by a more ethereal fire than other mortals; such fire as exists in the upper spheres. Ormuzd established the king to nourish and solace the poor. He is to his people what Ormuzd is to this earth. It is the duty of subjects to obey him implicitly.”

“ It is the duty of children to obey their parents; for wives to obey their husbands."

“ Treat old age with great reverence and tenderness." “Multiply the human species, and increase its happiness."

“ Cultivate the soil, drain marshes, and destroy dangerous creatures. He who sows the ground with diligence acquires a greater stock of religious merit than he could gain by ten thousand prayers in idleness."

“Multiply domestic animals, nourish them, and treat them gently."

4 Warriors, who defend the right, deserve praise.”

"Do not allow thyself to be carried away by anger. Angry words, and scornful looks, are sins. To strike a man, or vex him with words, is a sin. Even the intention to strike another, merits punishment. Opposition to peace is a sin. Reply to thine enemy with gentleness."

“Avoid everything calculated to injure others. Have Vol. 1.-23


no companionship with a man who injures his neighbour.”

“Take not that which belongs to another."

“Be not envious, avaricious, proud, or vain. Envy and jealousy are the work of Evil Spirits. Haughty thoughts and thirst of gold are sins."

“ To refuse hospitality, and not to succour the poor, are sins."

“Obstinacy in maintaining a lie is a sin. Be very scrupulous to observe the truth in all things.”

“Abstain from thy neighbour's wife. Fornication and immodest looks are sins. Avoid licentiousness, because it is one of the readiest means to give Evil Spirits power over body and soul. Strive, therefore, to keep pure in body and mind, and thus prevent the entrance of Evil Spirits, who are always trying to gain possession of man. To think evil is a sin."

"Contend constantly against evil, morally and physically, internally and externally. Strive in every way to diminish the power of Arimanes and destroy his works. If a man has done this, he may fearlessly meet death ; well assured that radiant Izeds will lead him across the luminous bridge, into a paradise of eternal happiness. But though he has been brave in battle, killed wild beasts, and fought with all manner of external evils, if he has neglected to combat evil within himself, he has reason to fear that Arimanes and his Deys will seize him, and carry him to Duzakh, (hell,) where he will be punished according to his sins; not to satisfy the vengeance of Ormuzd, but because having connected himself with evil, this is the only means of becoming purified therefrom, so as to be capable of enjoying happiness at a future period.”

“Every man who is pure in thoughts, words, and actions, will go to the celestial regions. Every man who is evil in thoughts, words, or actions, will go to the place of the wicked."

“ All good thoughts, words, or actions, are the productions of the celestial world."

There is a work called The Sadder, written for popular use, by a Magus, much later than Zoroaster. As usual with all religions as they grow older, there is a departure from primitive simplicity. This book contains few moral precepts, and directions for innumerable ceremonies, accompanied with unconditional obedience to priests. It declares : “Though your good works exceed in number the leaves, the drops of rain, the stars in the sky, or the sands on the sea-shore, they will be unprofitable to you, unless they are accepted by the priests. To obtain the acceptation of these guides to salvation, you must faithfully pay them tithes of all you possess; of your goods, of your lands, and of your money. If the priests be satisfied, your soul will escape hell-tortures; you will secure praise in this world, and happiness in the next. For the teachers of religion know all things, and can deliver all men.” This book represents Arimanes as being annihilated, instead of restored.

A large portion of the Zend-Avesta is filled with prayers, of which the following are samples: “I address my prayer to Ormuzd, Creator of all things; who always has been, who is, and who will be forever; who is wise and powerful ; who made the great arch of heaven, the sun, moon, stars, winds, clouds, water, earth, fire, trees, animals, metals, and men; whom Zoroaster adored. Zoroaster, who brought to the world knowledge of the law; who knew by natural intelligence, and by the ear, what ought to be done, all that has been, all that is, and all that will be; the science of sciences, the excellent Word, by which souls pass the luminous and radiant bridge, separate themselves from the evil regions, and go to light and holy dwellings, full of fragrance. O Creator, I obey thy laws. I think, act, speak, according to thy orders. I separate myself from all sin. I do good works according to my power. I adore thee with purity of thought, word, and action. I pray to Ormuzd, who recompenses good works, who delivers unto the end all those who obey his laws. Grant that I may arrive at Paradise, where all is fragrance, light, and happi


« PreviousContinue »