PERSIAN – Language & Texts

Persian also known as Farsi is the latest language which is a descendant from the Avesta. Unlike the other four Iranian languages mentioned above, it is a spoken language, especially in places like Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikstan and parts of some CSR countries. The Persian language was a continuation of the Pahlavi language as the official religious and literary language of the later part of the Sasanian Empire. The word Persian is derived from the name of central Iranian province Fars/Pars.

Some of the famous works of Persian literature are the  works of Rumi, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the Divān by Hafez and the Golestan “Rose Garden” and the Bustān “The Garden” by Sheikh Saadi.

The Shahnameh written in the 11th century by Firdausi Toosi can be considered the oldest Persian resource for Zoroastrian studies and also one of the best specimens of Persian literature in general.

In and after the 13th century A.C., Zoroastrian literature in Modern Persian language and in Arabic-Persian script came into existence. We have the following Persian texts:

(1) Zardusht Nāmeh by Behram Pazdu in 1278 A.C.

(2) Saddar (prose) in 15th century A.C.

(3) Saddar (in ordinary long metred verses) in 16th century A.C.

(4) Shāyast nē Shāyast, Modern Persian version of the Pahlavi text, in 16th century A.C.

(5) Ardā Virāf Nāmak, (in Prose and Poetry), Modern Persian version of the Pahlavi text, in 16th century A.C.

(6) Jāmāsp Nāmeh, Modern Persian version of the Pahlavi text, in 16th century A.C.

(7) Minokherad (Prose and Poetry): Modern Persian version of the Pahlavi text, in 16th century A.C.

(8) Kisse Sanjan, “the Story of Sanjan” (in  verse): This work was composed in 1600 A.C. by Dastur Bahman Kaikobad Sanjana, a resident of Navsari. It contains a historical account of the arrival of the Parsis in India, and their activities in India in early centuries.

(9) Persian Rivāyats : In the 15-17th centuries A.C. the Parsi priests of India sent emissaries to Iran, and addressed a number of enquiries on religion, ceremony, scriptures, customs, and practices to the priests of Iran. Lengthy and detailed replies were received from time to time, and the literature thus formed is termed ‘Rivayat.’

During the course of three centuries about twenty-two Rivayats came to India. The first Rivayat was brought in 1478 A.C. by one Nariman Hoshang, a resident of Broach, and hence is known as  ‘The Rivayat of Nariman Hoshang.’ Similarly, other Rivayats are known after the persons who brought them. Some Rivayats are anonymous, as the persons who brought them are not known. In the 17th century A.C., these Rivayats were collected, and classified subject-wise by Hormazdyar Framroze, Darab Hormazdyar, and Barzo Kamdin.