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Zoroastrian Heritage

Author: K. E. Eduljee





The epic

The Poet Ferdowsi


Writing & Books

Oral Tradition

Ferdowsi's Sources

Khvatay-Namak / Khodai-Nama

Achaemenian Era Book of King - Basilikai Difeterai


Other Legends

Ferdowsi's Original Work Lost

Differences in Shahnameh Copies

Reconstruction of an Authoritative Shahnameh

English Translations

Spelling of the Names

Resources-Persian Text


Ferdowsi's Manuscript

Earliest Surviving Manuscript Copies Known

Recent Manuscript Discovery in Beirut

Illuminated Manuscripts

Great Mongol/Demotte Manuscript

Bayasanghori Manuscript

Tahmaspi/Houghton Manuscript

Elation, Regret & Hope

Shahnameh's Characters

The Heroes - Story in Brief

English Translation

W = Warner & Warner
A = James Atkinson
Z = Helen Zimmerman

1. Prologue W

2. Creation W

3. Gaiumart W

3. Kaiumers A

4. Hushang W

5. Tahmuras W

6. Jamshid W

7. Zahak W

3-7. Shahs of Old Z

8. Faridun W

9. Minuchihr, Sam, Zal, Rustam W

10. Naudar W

11. Zav W

12. Kai Kaus 1 W

13. 7 Courses of Rustam W

14. Kai Kaus 2 W

15. Kai Kaus 3 W

16. Warriors W

17. Suhrab W

18. Siyawush W

19. Kai Khusrau 1 W

20. Kai Khusrau 2 W

21. Farud W

22. Kai Khusrau 3 W

23. Rustam W

24. Rustam's Exploits W

25. Bizhan W

26. Gudarz W

27. Great War W

28. Passing of Kai Khusrau W

29. Luhrasp & Gushtasp W

30. Gushtasp & Zardhusht W

31. Asfandiyar's Seven Stages W

32. Asfandiyar W

33. Asfandiyar's Fight with Rustam W

34. Rustam & Shaghad W

35. Bahman W

36. Humai & Darab W

36a. Humai & Darab A

37. Darab & Dara A

38. Sikandar A

Satire on Sultan Mahmud A

The Heroes - Story in Brief


The Characters

Locale - Sistan

Pahlavans & Their Role


Zal Woos Princess Rudabeh

The Birth of Rustam

Rustam's Horse Rakhsh

Rustam Meets Princess Tahmina

The Tragedy of Sohrab

Page 2

On Creation and the Nature of Creation

In the Name of God the Merciful, the Pitiful

IN the name of the Lord of both wisdom and mind,
To nothing sublimer can thought be applied,
The Lord of whatever is named or assigned
A place, the Sustainer of all and the Guide,
The Lord of Saturn and the turning sky,
Who causeth Venus, Sun, and Moon to shine,
Who is above conception, name, or sign,
The Artist of the heaven's jewellery!
Him thou canst see not though thy sight thou strain,
For thought itself will struggle to attain
To One above all name and place in vain,
Since mind and wisdom fail to penetrate
Beyond our elements, but operate
On matters that the senses render plain.
None then can praise God as He is. Observe
Thy duty: 'tis to gird thyself to serve.
He weigheth mind and wisdom; should He be
Encompassed by a thought that He hath weighed?
Can He be praised by such machinery
As this, with mind or soul or reason's aid?
Confess His being but affirm no more,
Adore Him and all other ways ignore,
Observing His commands. Thy source of might
Is knowledge: thus old hearts grow young again,
But things above the Veil surpass in height
All words: God's essence is beyond our ken.

Discourse in Praise of Wisdom

Speak, sage! the praise of wisdom and rejoice
The hearts of those that hearken to thy voice,
As God's best gift to thee extol the worth
Of wisdom, which will comfort thee and guide,
And lead thee by the hand in heaven and earth.
Both joy and grief, and gain and loss, betide
Therefrom, and when it is eclipsed the sane
Know not of happiness one moment more.
Thus saith the wise and virtuous man of lore
Lest sages search his words for fruit in vain:-
"What man soever spurneth wisdom's rede
Will by so doing make his own heart bleed;
The prudent speak of him as one possessed,
And 'he is not of us' his kin protest."
In both worlds wisdom recommendeth thee
When gyves are on the ankles of the mad;
It is the mind's eye; if thou dost not see
Therewith thy journey through this world is sad.
It was the first created thing, and still
Presideth o'er the mind and faculty
Of praise - praise offered by tongue, ear, and eye,
All causes it may be of good or ill.
To praise both mind and wisdom who would dare?
And if I venture, who would hear me through?
Since then, O man of wisdom! thou canst do
No good by words hereon, proceed, declare
Creation's process. God created thee
To know appearance and reality.
Let wisdom be thy minister to fend
Thy mind from all that self-respect should shun,
Learn by the words of sages how to wend
Thy way, roam earth, converse with every one;
And when thou hearest any man of lore
Discourse, sleep not, increase thy wisdom's store;
But mark, while gazing at the boughs of speech,
How much the roots thereof are out of reach.

Of the Making of the World

The first thing needful for thee is to know
The sum of primal elements which He,
Who maketh all things, made from naught to show
The greatness of His own supremacy.
Those elements are fourfold; at their birth
No time elapsed and labour had no share;
Fire shone above, and in the midst were air
And water; underneath was dusky earth.
Fire was the first its virtue to unfold;
About it moisture ceased and dryness came;
Then fire where'er it failed made way for cold,
And moisture followed cold.
Even so the frame
Of this our Wayside Hostelry was made.
When these four primal elements combined,
They wrought, each on the rest, till every kind
Of products as we see them was displayed.
The turning vault of heaven showed its face,
Exhibiting new wonders day by day,
The Seven Planets then began their sway
In yon Twelve Houses; each one took its place,
Foreboding good and ill, and giving fit
Return to every one that hath the wit
To read. The heavens, fettered sphere to sphere,
Moved as their making to completion came,
And then this earth, with mountain, desert, mere,
And upland, shone as 'twere a lamp aflame.
The mountains reared themselves, the streams gushed out,
While from the soil the herbs began to sprout.
Our earth was not vouchsafed a lofty stead;
Obscurity and gloom prevailed around,
But stars displayed their wonders overhead
And light grew more abundant on the ground;
Then fire arose and water sank, the sun
About the world its course began to run.
The herbage and the various kinds of trees
Grew up as fortune would. No faculties
Have they but growth. Thus fixed they were the prey
Of all the animals that passed, while they,
The roamers, aim at safety, nourishment,
And rest; with such a life they are content.
With sluggish wits and tongues that never spake,
They browse upon the briar and the brake,
Acknowledging no end as wrong or right
And not required to offer reverence
To Him who, having wisdom, justice, might,
Hath not withheld one single excellence.

Of the Nature of Man

A farther step-man cometh into sight;
Locks had been made; he was the key of each.
With head erect and cypresslike in height,
Submiss to wisdom and endowed with speech,
Possessed of knowledge, wisdom, reasoning,
He ruleth other creatures as their king.
Observe awhile with wisdom for thy guide
Doth "man" imply one nature, one alone?
Thou know'st it may be but the feeble side
Of mortal man, wherein no trace is shown
Of aught beyond, and yet two worlds agree -
A mighty partnership - to furnish thee.
By nature first, in order last, art thou;
Hold not thyself then lightly. I have known
Shrewd men speak otherwise, but who shall trow
The secrets that pertain to God alone?
Look to the end, act ever rightfully
And toil, since sloth and knowledge ne'er agree;
But if thou wouldst escape calamity,
In both worlds from the net of bale be freed
And in God's sight a righteous man indeed,
Then to yon swiftly turning dome thy gaze
Direct, that cause of anguish and relief,
A dome not fretted by the lapse of days
And unaffected by our joy or grief;
It stayeth not to rest but turneth still,
Not perishing like us but undecayed
There both the term and process are displayed,
There are revealed to thee both good and ill.

Of the Nature of the Sun

Of ruby is yon azure dome, not made
Of air and water, dust and smoke; 'tis all
With lamp and torch in many a spot arrayed
Like gardens for the New Year's festival.
Within the dome a gladdening Gem behold
Revolving; thence the light of day is spread,
And every morning like a shield of gold
It raiseth from the East its shining head;
The earth is clad in robes of spreading light,
The sun declineth and there cometh night;
Day ne'er o'ertaketh night, nor night the day,
Most regular in all their movements they.
O thou my Sun! hast thou for me no ray?

Of the Nature of the Moon

Though night be dark there is a light assured
See that thou use it not unworthily.
Two days and nights its features are obscured,
Worn soothly by revolving; presently
'Tis seen again but pallid, thin, and backed,
Like one who by the pangs of love is racked.
Then if the gazer far away secure
A glimpse thereof; 'tis quickly lost to sight;
But on the following eve it seemeth more
And yieldeth unto thee a larger light.
In fourteen days it waxeth full and bright,
In four teen waneth till its course is run,
Diminishing as night succeedeth night
And drawing nearer to the blazing sun.
Such was the nature given by God's decree
And will be, while the moon itself shall be.

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