Sacred Texts



"It is thus manifest that after the passing of the thirtieth year from his birth ... Zardust went at dawn to the bank of the river Daiti, to make the hom-libation ... When he came from the water ... he saw Vahman, the Amahraspand, in the shape of a man, fair, bright and radiant ... he wore a garment like silk ... which was as light itself ..." (Wizidagiha i Zadspram, Ch.21, 1-2)

The Great Sasanian Avesta, the final canon of Zoroastrian sacred literature, consisted of a total of 21 divisions which were transmitted orally and in written form. The Videvdad, or Law against the Daevas, for instance, is a prescriptive work that is mainly concerned with the role of purity laws as a means by which to combat evil. The tradition of the Avesta and its commentary suffered severe losses during the conquest of Iran by the Arabs and, later, by Mongol and Turkish invaders.

However, a substantial secondary religious literature survives, written in Pahlavi. It includes, for example, translations and summaries of the lost Avestan books. The works in Pahlavi that were compiled, from older material, in the 9th century CE represent the development of Zoroastrian theology: the creation of the world, the judgement of the soul at death, and the eschatological vision of heaven and hell that appears most vividly in the Arda Wiraz Namag, or book of the righteous Wiraz. The life of Zarathustra is recounted in great detail in the Pahlavi books as well as stories of heroes and kings, for example the romantic account of the Sasanian king Ardeshir.

Down the centuries the Iranian Zoraostrians kept in contact with their co-religionists in India, the Parsis, and answered their questions about ritual and observance. This series of letters, know as the Persian Rivayats, dates from the 15th to the 17th century CE.

Videvdad  in Avestan with Commentary Karnamag - I Ardashir-I Papagan ms. MK Pahlavi Text Illustrated ms. of Arda Wiraz Namag Gujarati ms. of Persian Rivayats