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Cosmic Dualism Article


Hi All,

There is an excellent article in the current issue of FEZANA Journal concerning cosmic (vs. ethical only) dualism in Zoroastrianism. I don't know if there are any subscribers here, but if there are, perhaps we can discuss it.



Active Member
Ushta Bahdar

I have not read the FEZANA article, however, I am familiar with the subject , indeed intimately so. Basically, its a matter of linguistics\ .and politics in Academia You see the original Western translators of the Avesta did not know how toi decipher it, not that they were stupid or ignorant, far from it. They were amongst the most well informed and brilliant men of the 18th Century and that is the problem. They , indeed no one else, had no knowledge of comparative philology and linguistics at that time!

So they had to take the word of the few Parsi priests that paid them any attention. ( at that time going to Iran and asking religious questions of Zartoshtis, was totally out of the question.) These Parsis were not the well to do assimilated and English speaking Parsis of the 19th Century British India. In fact they were barely literate.

Moreover, as Boyce, Zaehner, Mehr and other scholars have proven; not even the Sassanian priests of the 3rd Century AD , much less these poor semi-literate Parsi priests of the 18th , understood the language of the Avesta and specially they had no clue of the language of the Gathas (waht Zarathushtra composed) which is , if not a totally different but kindred language, a dialect, different from Young Avestan and called Old Avestan.

So what had to happen happened, while Western scholars eventually realized ( over 100 years later) that Rig Vedic Sanskrit ( An archaic form of Sanskrit similar, but not the same, as later Vedic and even more different from Classic Sanskrit) was an extremely close cousin and were able to start the long process ( 157 years, so far) of deciphering Old Avestan. They remained wedded to given priority to Sassanian era interpretations and translations until well past the middle of the 20th Century , with the result that many translations, that are inspired in Sassanian era interpretations are not only still currently out there, but actually championed by many in the Academic establishment, which, in the field of Avestology, is no different than in any other fields, namely, it is based on precedent , extremely reluctant to accept anything new and set in its ways.

This is largely what lays behind modern day debates. The Ancient ones had more to do with Sassanian policy than with any real contradiction in what Zarathushtra taught. But in order to make this post, not overly long, I will leave that part of the story to further exchanges.

Much Ushta:)