So for the last week, I have been reading and rereading The Bundahishn. This is a telling of the Zoroastrian creation story. Bungahishn is supposed to mean Primal Creation and it does give us the names and leaders of almost everything in our world and how it came to be.
This was the first time I had ever heard of this creation myth. I had, however, heard a little about Zoroastrian. Let’s start there. What is Zoroastrian? Why did I pick to go there after talking about the Norse last week, something we are all more familiar with.
So Zoroastrianism Is?
Well, first of all, Zoroastrianism is a very old belief system. One of the oldest there is. It is a dualism belief system as you will see between the ruling good spirit and the advocacy in the evil spirit. It is also an Eschatology Monotheistic religion. So to break that down, eschatology has to do with the theories of how the world ends, death, life after death, all those things. There are lots of other religions that can be classified as this such as Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism. The other part of that is Monotheistic. This is a belief in one ruling being. Pretty straightforward after you break it down.
Zoroastrianism has its roots in the Pre-Islamic Iran and continues on today primarily in India and in Iran. I will be the first to admit that this is the very first time I have dived this deep into their beliefs. I have found it very interesting to see the parallels to the Abrahamic Texts as I read this small slice of their theology. These parallels in of itself are something scholars debate now. Did Zoroastrianism influence the Abrahamic beliefs or did they take the parts from them to create their own text? This is really what brought me here after hitting up the Aesir up north. To answer my questions about what is to the east of the Nordic region, what is something different that I have little knowledge of, and how can I fix my lack of knowledge.
So the Bundahishn is 34 chapters long. Now you can see why it has taken me a whole week to do this. So as you can guess I am not going to be putting the whole story here like I did last week. But I do so want to talk about what I read. I will link what I read down below.
After reading it and doing some research about it I have discovered that The Bundahishn isn’t actually part of the scripture of Zoroastrianism, but supplemental information. Okay, cool. So now we know that it isn’t 100% complete (lots of it is missing), it is supplemental to their primary scripture and that it is about the creation of the universe. Armed with this information, I started to read the Bundahishn. And let me tell you, it was a trip.
Now I like many have read the Christian Bible and, to tell the truth, the Bundahishn was kind of like that, at least similar to the Old Testament. It was set up similar to how it feels to read the Bible in that it has the chapters that are then divided up to make it a little easier to follow where you are. It also spends a lot of time explaining who is who. Which though it makes it hard to focus and remember all of the names and all, makes sense to have. This would have been a time where who your father was would state where you belong and your status. After that, I feel like a lot of the similarities start to die off.
Now, How About That Story!
When I first started reading one of the lines in the first chapter is “…appoint a period! So that the intermingling of the conflict may be for nine thousand years.” Okay, this has me super excited to read more. Ohrmazd, the supreme being, good, omniscience, and light said this to Ahriman, who is the adversary, dark, evil, and destructive. It is between them in the Air that they meet. Now this line got me pretty excited that there was going to be some battle between the two as the story went on. And maybe there is and the story was just lost to time.
What kind of got me is that Ohrmazd already knew what would happen in this nine thousand year period. And Ahriman did not. Like yep, I’m going to give you a chance to change those who are mine to you, but it’s okay because I’m omniscience I’m not going to worry much about what you are doing. The first third I’m still going to be in control. The second third I will squabble a little with Ahriman about what will happen. That final third Ahriman will be disabled and not even able to reach my creations, let alone change their will. Like wow, dude. Way to be.
The cool thing was that Ohrmazd shared this information with Ahriman. Because of what he saw Ahriman retreated to basically his room to sulk. It says gloomy darkness, but I kind of see Ahriman as the gothic, emo brother and Ohrmazd as the preppy, go-getter brother.
So anyway Ahriman retreaded to his doom and gloom and was unsure of what to do next. Ohrmazd took that as his chance to create the world as he saw fit. And he did. The rest of the chapters tell about how the world was created. How the universe was created. How people came to be as they are. It is pretty cool. I will let you read that yourself.
What a Ride!
So, when the Bungahishn ended, I felt kind of lost. Which is what prompted me to reread it before I started writing. There is no real conclusion between Ohrmazd and Ahriman. There is a point where Ahriman covers the world in noxious creatures. Ohrmazd floods the world and kills them off or force them below the land. This wasn’t the real “I’m going to take all your people from you and turn them to worship me” I was hoping to see.
The last few chapters of the Bungahishn talk about what happens in death. It tells us of a time where all your good deeds and evil deeds will be shown to you and that the wicked will be separated from the righteous. This is one of those areas where it seems so much was lost.
Anyway! Give it a read! It is such a ride from start to finish, even if it is missing information.