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Zoroastrian Pre-Islamic Texts; Zadspram
The Selections of Zadspram
Translated by: W. E. West

This text is a ninth century Pahlavi compilation of excerpts from the Avesta and Zand that reflects basic elements of the Zoroastrian faith. It contains both orthodox and heterodox doctrines. Readers may be helped by a glossary of Zoroastrian terms provided to the internet by Joseph Peterson.


Chapter 1: The original state of the two spirits
They call these memoranda and writings the Selections (cidakiha) of Zadspram, son of Yudan-Yim.

  1. In propitiation of the creator Ohrmazd and all the angels -- who are the whole of the heavenly and earthly sacred beings (yazdan) -- are the sayings of Ervad Zadspram, son of Yudan-Yim, who is of the South, about the meeting of the beneficent spirit and the evil spirit.
  2. It is in scripture thus declared, that light was above and darkness below, and between those two was open space.
  3. Ohrmazd was in the light, and Ahriman in the darkness; Ohrmazd was aware of the existence of Ahriman and of his coming for strife; Ahriman was not aware of the existence of light and of Ohrmazd.
  4. It happened to Ahriman, in the gloom and darkness, that he was walking humbly (fro-tanu) on the borders, and meditating other things he came up to the top, and a ray of light was seen by him; and because of its antagonistic nature to him he strove that he might reach it, so that it might also be within his absolute power.
  5. And as he came forth to the boundary, accompanied by certain others, Ohrmazd came forth to the struggle for keeping Ahriman away from His territory; and He did it through pure words, confounding witchcraft, and cast him back to the gloom.
  6. For protection from the fiend (druj) the spirits rushed in, the spirits of the sky, water, earth, plants, animals, mankind, and fire He had appointed, and they maintained it (the protection) three thousand years.
  7. Ahriman, also, ever collected means in the gloom; and at the end of the three thousand years he came back to the boundary, blustered (patistad), and exclaimed thus: 'I will smite thee, I will smite the creatures which thou thinkest have produced fame for thee -- thee who art the beneficent spirit I will destroy everything about them.'
  8. Ohrmazd answered thus: 'Thou art not a doer of everything, O fiend!'
  9. And, again, Ahriman retorted thus: 'I will seduce all material life into disaffection to thee and affection to myself.'
  10. Ohrmazd perceived, through the spirit of wisdom, thus: 'Even the blustering of Ahriman is capable of performance, if I do not allow disunion (la barininam) during a period of struggle.'
  11. And he demanded of him a period for friendship, for it was seen by him that Ahriman does not rely upon the intervention of any vigorous ones, and the existence of a period is obtaining the benefit of the mutual friendship and just arrangement of both; and he formed it into three periods, each period being three millenniums.
  12. Ahriman relied upon it, and Ohrmazd perceived that, though it is not possible to have Ahriman sent down, ever when he wants he goes back to his own requisite, which is darkness; and from the poison which is much diffused endless strife arises.
  13. And after the period was appointed by him, he brought forward the Ahunwar formula; and in his Ahunwar these kinds of benefit were shown: --
  14. The first is that, of all things, that is proper which is something declared as the will of Ohrmazd; so that, whereas that is proper which is declared the will of Ohrmazd, where anything exists which is not within the will of Ohrmazd, it is created injurious from the beginning, a sin of a distinct nature.
  15. The second is this. that whoever shall do that which is the will of Ohrmazd, his reward and recompense are his own; and of him who shall not do that which is the will of Ohrmazd, the punishment at the bridge owing thereto is his own; which is shown from this formula; and the reward of doers of good works, the punishment of sinners, and the tales of heaven and hell are from it.
  16. Thirdly, it is shown that the sovereignty of Ohrmazd increases that which is for the poor, and adversity is removed; by which it is shown that there are treasures for the needy one, and treasures are to be his friends; as the intelligent creations are to the unintelligent, so also are the treasures of a wealthy person to a needy one, treasures liberally given which are his own.
  17. And the creatures of the trained hand of Ohrmazd are contending and angry (ardik), one with the other, as the renovation of the universe must occur through these three things.
  18. That is, first, true religiousness in oneself, and reliance upon a man's original hold on the truly glad tidings (nav-barham), that Ohrmazd is all goodness without vileness, and his will is a will altogether excellent; and Ahriman is all vileness without goodness.
  19. Secondly, hope of the reward and recompense of good works, serious fear of the bridge and the punishment of crime, strenuous perseverance in good works, and abstaining from sin.
  20. Thirdly, the existence of the mutual assistance of the creatures, or along with and owing to mutual assistance, their collective warfare; it is the triumph of warfare over the enemy which is one's own renovation.
  21. By this formula he (Ahriman) was confounded, and he fell back to the gloom; and Ohrmazd produced the creatures bodily for the world first, the sky; the second, water; the third, earth the fourth, plants; the fifth, animals; the sixth, mankind.
  22. Fire was in all, diffused originally through the six substances, of which it was as much the confiner of each single substance in which it was established, it is said, as an eyelid when they lay one down upon the other.
  23. Three thousand years the creatures were possessed of bodies and not walking on their navels; and the sun, moon, and stars stood still.
  24. 23. In the mischievous incursion, at the end of the period, Ohrmazd observed thus: 'What advantage is there from the creation of a creature, although thirstless, which is unmoving or mischievous?'
  25. And in aid of the celestial sphere he produced the creature Time (zurvan); and Time is unrestricted, so that he made the creatures of Ohrmazd moving, distinct from the motion of Ahriman's creatures, for the shedders of perfume (boi-dadan) were standing one opposite to the other while emitting it.
  26. And, observantly of the end, he brought forward to Ahriman a means out of himself, the property of darkness, with which the extreme limits (virunako) of Time were connected by him, an envelope (posto) of the black-pated and ash-colored kind.
  27. And in bringing it forward he spoke thus: 'Through their weapons the cooperation of the serpent (azho) dies away, and this which is thine, indeed thy own daughter, dies through religion; and if at the end of nine thousand years, as it is said and written, is a time of upheaval (madam kardano), she is upheaved, not ended.'
  28. At the same time Ahriman came from accompanying Time out to the front, out to the star station; the connection of the sky with the star station was open, which showed, since it hung down into empty space, the strong communication of the lights and glooms, the place of strife in which is the pursuit of both.
  29. And having darkness with himself he brought it into the sky, and left the sky so to gloom that the internal deficiency in the sky extends as much as one-third over the star station.


Chapter 2: Ahriman assaults the good creation

  1. On the coming in of Ahriman to the creatures it is thus declared in revelation, that in the month Frawardin and the day Ohrmazd, at noon, he came forth to the frontier of the sky.
  2. The sky sees him and, on account of his nature, fears as much as a sheep trembles at a wolf; and Ahriman came on, scorching and burning into it.
  3. Then he came to the water which was arranged below the earth, and darkness without an eyelid was brought on by him; and he came on, through the middle of the earth, as a snake all-leaping comes on out of a hole; and he stayed within the whole earth.
  4. The passage where he came on is his own, the way to hell, through which the demons make the wicked run.
  5. Afterwards, he came to a tree, such as was of a single root, the height of which was several feet, and it was without branches and without bark, juicy and sweet; and to keep the strength of all kinds of trees in its race, it was in the vicinity of the middle of the earth; and at the self-same time it became quite withered.
  6. Afterwards, he came to the ox, the sole-created, as it stood as high as Gayomard on the bank of the water of Daitya in the middle of the earth; and its distance from Gayomard being as much as its own height, it was also distant from the bank of the water of Daitya by the same measure; and it was a female, white and brilliant as the moon.
  7. As the adversary came upon it Ohrmazd gave it a narcotic, which is also called 'bang,' to eat, and to rub the 'bang' before the eye, so that the annoyance from the assault of crimes may be less; it became lean and ill, and fell upon its right breast trembling.
  8. Before the advance to Gayomard, who was then about one-third the height of Zartosht, and was brilliant as the sun, Ohrmazd forms, from the sweat on the man, a figure of fifteen years, radiant and tall, and sends it on to Gayomard; and he also brings his sweat on to him as long as one Ahunwar is being recited.
  9. When he issued from the sweat, and raised his eyes, he saw the world when it was dark as night; on the whole earth were the snake, the scorpion, the lizard (vazak), and noxious creatures of many kinds; and so the other kinds of quadrupeds stood among the reptiles; every approach of the whole earth was as though not as much as a needle's point remained, in which there was no rush of noxious creatures.
  10. there were the coming of a planetary star into planetary conjunction, and the moon and planets at sixes and sevens; many dark forms with the face and curls of Azi Dahak [Zohak] suffered punishment in company with certain non-Iranians; and he was amazed at calling the wicked out from the righteous.
  11. Lastly, he (Ahriman) came up to the fire, and mingled darkness and smoke with it.


Chapter 3: The soul of the primeval ox cries to Ohrmazd

  1. And Goshorun, as she was herself the soul of the primeval ox, when the ox passed away, came out from the ox, even as the soul from the body of the dead, and kept up the clamor of a cry to Ohrmazd in such fashion as that of an army, a thousand strong, when they cry out together.
  2. And Ohrmazd, in order to be much more able to keep watch over the mingled creatures than in front of Gayomard, went from the earth up to the sky. 3. And Goshorun continually went after him crying, and she kept up the cry thus: 'With whom may the guardianship over the creatures be left by thee?'

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