Iranian Influence on Moslem Literature, Part I
M. Inostranzev

Part 2 out of 3

_Namenbuch_ 262 under the word Rozanis.]

* * * * *

Books of this title in Pahlavi literature related to a variety of
religious problems and treated of ethicodidactic themes. The same title,
further, we find in the Middle Persian literature. This is the title of
the wellknown book of Nasir-i-Khusrao, namely, _Rushnai Nameh_, a
considerable portion of which manifests Shia and Sufistic influences and
which by its nature must have been connected with ethico-didactic
literature.[1] It is quite possible that Ar Rayhani interested himself
in Persian of ethics and morality literature and in Persian _Adab_ and
gave his book the name of the 'Book Light' which treated of questions of
this nature. This book formed, as no doubt its author did, the uniting
link between the didactic Parsi clerical writings and the ethical
literature of Islam.

[Footnote 1: GIPh Vol. II, 280.]

Now reading as Rushana Nibik the title of the book of Ar Rayhani
occurring in the Fihrist, we establish a historical fact in literature.
Not only redactions of Persian historical books like _Khuday Nameh_ and
the _Ain Nameh_, not only diverse monuments of Persian ethico-didactic
literature but also books with Pahlavi titles appear in the index of the
books of the flourishing period of Arabic literature in Fihrist. This is
a phenomenon of outstanding importance for the appreciation of the
significance of Persian literary tradition in the first centuries of



In the mountains to the south of the Caspian Sea the Persians defended
themselves longer than in the rest of the Empire against the Arab
invasion. Here the Arsacide princes had permitted the local tribes to
rule, for these tribes were probably from the first almost independent
and only acknowledged their paramountcy and paid tribute. They had the
title of Spadhapati or in modern language _Ispehbed_ which was turned
into the Arabic _Isfehbed_. One of them, Gushnasp Shah, is named as a
contemporary of Ardashir I. It was only so late as in the time of Kawadh
that this king succeeded in establishing a Sasanian prince, his son
Keyus, as Shah of Tabaristan in 530. At the death of his father he
contested the throne with Khusrow I, and was therefore slain by the
latter in 537. His son Shapur remained in Persia, and a prince of the
Arsacide house of Qaren, named Zarmihr, son of Sokhra was appointed
governor. The administration of Rae, Derbend and a portion of Armenia
was before now entrusted to Jamasp, a son of Peroz, who was succeeded by
his son Narsi, while another son, Behvat, father of Surkhab became the
ancestor of the kings of Shirvan who were known as Shirvan Shahs.
Narsi's son was Peroz, the father of Farrukhan Gilanshah, whose capital
accordingly was Gilan and who in 643 concluded a peace with the Arabs.

Gil Gaubareh, the son of this prince, united, with the consent of
Yezgird the III, who could not prevent him, Gilan with Tabaristan, where
the dynasty of Zarmihr had come to an end. It cannot be doubted that
Sasanian princes became the governors of these territories. The sons of
Gaubareh were Daboe (660-676) and Patospan, in Pahlavi Patkospan or
governor, in modern Persian Baduspan. Daboe was succeeded by his brother
Khurshed (676-709). We possess coins struck by him in the years 706-709.
Then came Daboe's son Ferkhan more correctly Farrukhan, the Great
(709-722); he defeated several attempts on the part of the Moslems to
penetrate the country. Our authorities are Tabari (vol. 2 p. 1321);
Kitaboloyun (22-8); Zahireddin (45, 10.273, 14); Mordtmann (ZDMG 19,
494). His son Dad-Burzmihr died according to Zahireddin in 748, still
his son Khurshed II already struck in 734 his first coin. He was
defeated by the Arabs and took poison which he used to carry in his
signet ring in 759.

The Masmoghan or the "priest-prince," the successor of Zarathustrotema
of Ragha or modern Rai, who had his seat in the city of Demawend or the
Castle of Ustunavend, and who was the son-in-law of the Ispehbed, was
defeated and the daughters of both the princes were married to members
of the house of Abbas.

The descendants of the Badusepan, whom Zahireddin carefully traces in
all the branches of the family, ruled over Ruyan, Rustamdar, Nur and
Kujur, down to the year 1453, when they divided themselves into two
branches which continued to reign till 1567, and 1576.

Another dynasty was the mountain rulers of Qaren, which is named after
its founder. The first Qaren was the son of Sokhra, the brother of
Zarmihr. These princes were also styled _Ispehbeds_. A descendant of
Qaren was Vindad-Hormizd, who in conjunction with Shervin I of the house
of Bavend, and with the Badusepan, Shahriyar I, conquered the Arabs in
783, but subsequently surrendered himself to Hadi and went to Baghdad
till the latter became Khalif in 785. There is some confusion in the
chronology of this dynasty also. A few rulers appear to be wanting
because between the beginning of the dynasty in 565 to its close in 839
the average reign of the six princes would come to 45 or 46 years.
Maziyar, son of Qaren, and grandson of Vindad-Hurmizd was at first
defeated by Shahryar the son of Shervin of the Bavend dynasty and took
refuge with the Khalif Mamun in 816-17, and returned after the victory
over Musa Ibn Hafs in 825 but was himself worsened by the Arabs in 839
and executed. Thereupon Tabaristan came into the power of the Tahirides,
the nominal governors of the Khalif in Khorasan. Our authorities are
Beladhori 134, 14; Masudi 7, 137; Kitab ol Oyun 399, 6; Yaqut 3, 284, 4.
506, 10; Abulfida 2, 212, 2.

The Bavend dynasty is a continuation of the Masmughans. Their original
ancestor Bav who is characterised as son of Shahpur, son of Kayos,
received from Khusraw II the governorship of Istakhr, Adharbaijan and
Tabaristan, but retired himself into a fire-temple in the time of queen
Azarmidukht. When the Arabs in 655 had advanced to the vicinity of Amul,
the Mazenderanis invited him to lead them and he was the founder of the
Bavend dynasty called after him. Now Bav was killed by Valash in 679,
who did not belong to the dynasty and it was only 8 years later on that
the son of Bav, Suhrab, more correctly Surkhab, came to the throne. With
the last potentate of this first line of the Bavends was united by
marriage the house of Ziyar which produced two celebrated princes of
Gurgan, Vashmgir and Qabus. The other line, the "mountain kings" proper,
sprang from a son of the last prince of the first line and was
extinguished with the murder of Rustum by Sayed Husain in 1210. A third
offshoot originating from a collateral branch of the second enjoyed
princely power from 1237-1349.

The Arabs had their governors in Tabaristan who in the first period
minted coins with Sasanian impress and with Pahlavi legends; they were,
however, from time to time expelled by the people. These coins struck by
the Arabs after the model of the Pahlavi mintage were first deciphered
by Olshausen. Ibn Khaldun is compelled to admit that "the Arabs are of
all the people the least capable to govern a country."

[Translated from Justi's contribution to _Grunddrisder der iranischen
Philologie_. Vol. II, p. 547 seq.--G.K.N.]

To the above concise sketch of the history of Tabaristan for the period
which concerns us, which I have translated from Justi, one of the most
sympathetic writers on Iran, a few paras may be added from the
fascinating history of _Ibn-Isfandiyar_ which professor Browne has made
accessible to us.

Long after the Sasanian dynasty had fallen, and the rest of Persia had
been subdued by the Arabs the Ispahabeds continued to strike their
Pahlavi coinage and maintained the religion of Zoroaster in the
mountains and forests of Tabaristan; and their struggles with the Arabs
only ended about A.D. 838 by the capture and cruel execution of the
gallant Maziyar, son of Qaren, son of Wanda-Hurmuz. For a vivid
portrayal of the last days of this unfortunate scion of the lost empire
of the Iranians the reader is referred to the vivid page of this English
authority, who has reproduced the story of Zoroastrian aggressions in
all its original spirit. And nothing less could be expected from a
profound and sympathetic scholar to whom "All that concerns Maziyar is
of supreme interest because it stands for the old Persian national and
religious ideal". (p. XII). Those who still hold in the teeth of
historical fact that the empire and religion of Iran were overturned at
one fell stroke by the ferocious Arabs may be referred to the alliance
between the Ispahbed Shirvin and Windad-Hurmuz which brought it about
that from one end to the other of a large track of country, "without
their permission no one dared enter the highlands from the plains, and
all the highlands were under their control. _And when a Moslem died they
would not suffer him to be buried in that country_". (p. 131). [italics
mine, G.K.N.]

I will not further quote at length from this volume as it is in
English but I cannot resist the temptation to call attention to page
146, which supplies a typical instance of conversion by persuasion and
not persecution. Further note that the Khalif Mamun had a Zoroastrian
astrologer whose Zoroastrian name the Khalif arabicised into Yahya ibn
Mansur (p. 146). Though Maziyar outwardly embraced Islam he was probably
in secret a Zoroastrian inasmuch as he continued to have a large Magian
following and "conferred various offices and distinctions on Babak,
Mazdak, and other Magians _who ordered the Muhammadan mosque to be
destroyed and all trace of Islam to be removed_." (p. 152-3). [Italics
mine, G.K.N.] The Khalif Al-Muatasim was no less lenient in matters
religious than some of the _Khulfa i rashidin._ In the year 854-55 he
deputed one of his nobles to bid a Zoroastrian chieftain "break his
Magian girdle and embrace Islam, which he did and thereupon received a
robe of honour from the Khalif." (p. 157). At page 157 we notice the
extortionate practices of a Magian.


"In the time of the Arabs we find an actual principality whose ruler
bore the title of _Masimogan_ or the elder of the Magians. To him also
belonged the cities of Wima and Shalamba (Istakhri 209; Ibn Khurdadbeh
118; Ibn-al Faqih 284) as well as the territory of Khwar. [Magian
princes during Khalifat (Tabari 12,656).]

"The first definite mention of the _Masmoghan_ occurs in the year 131
A.H., in which Abu Muslim called upon the former to surrender and as he
declined despatched Musa Ibn Kaab against him who however failed to
effect anything against him. (Ibn al Athir vol. 5,304). It was only
under Mamun that the mountainous country of the _Masmoghan_ was
subjugated. The last prince, whose brother Aparwez fought on side of the
Arabs, was taken prisoner and confined with his two daughters in the
mountain fastness of Ustunawand in 141 A.H. (Tabari Vol. 2, 137).

"The exact time of the rise of this principality is unknown. For the
_Masmoghan_ Mardanshah who is mentioned by Saif in a treaty with Suwaid
Mukarrin under Omar (Tabari 1, 2656), belongs positively to the time of
Muhallab, 98 A.H. I surmise, however, that the Dynasty of the Magian
Baw, the father of the renegade Mahgundat, whose Christian name was
Anstasious, who became a martyr to Christianity in 628, originated from
the village of Warznin in the territory of Rai (Acta Anstasii Persae, p.
26 & 56), and is connected with the Bawend dynasty which appeared just
at this place in 167, and is definitely traced to the Magian Baw. (The
authorities for the above are Tabari vol. 3, 1295 and Zahirud-din 205,
see also ZDMG 49, 661.)

"Baw is a pure Magian name and is a transcription of the Avesta _Bangha_
(Yesht 13,124). Another transliteration of the same word is Bohak, a
name borne by a hero of Ispahan who with his six sons and an army joined
Ardeshir (_Karnamak_ 4, 3, p. 22-19; Neoleke 46). It was also the name
of a son of Hobakht, the chief _Mobed_ under Shapur II. Bahak, son of
Fredon, was the ancestor of Aturpat Mahraspand (Bundahesh 33; West
Pahlavi Texts 1, 145). Another form of the same name is B[=a]we, who was
the _Astabed_ or _magister officiorum_ of the Persians (Josua Stylite
ed. Wright 59). The first ruler of the Bawend dynasty who enters history
is Sharwin ibn Surkhab (Tabari 3, 519). By the Arabs he was at first
made a vassal controlling the slopes of the Alburz (Ibn al Faqih 304;
Yakut 3, 283), and probably assumed the title _Padashkhwargar-shah_
which his descendants continued to hold in the time of al Beruni
(_Chronology,_ p. XL, No. 7). In Yakubi (vol. 2, 479) he even bears the
title of King of Tokharistaxi. After him is named Mount Sherwin on the
boundary of Komish (Tabari 3, 1275; Ibn al Fakih 305; Belazuri 339, 7).
In the year 201, that is, A.D. 816-17, however, the governor of
Tabaristan, Abdallah Ibn Khurdadbeh, the father of the historian and
geographer, invaded Larijan and Sarijan and annexed them to the empire
of Islam. He likewise conquered the mountain land of Tabaristan and
compelled Shahryar, the son of Sherwin, to surrender (Tabari 3, 1014).

"But after the death of Shahryar, in 825-26, Maziyar Ibn Qaren contested
the kingdom with his son Shapur and in alliance with the Moslems invaded
Mount Sherwin, captured the sons of Shahryar and put them to death.
(Tabari 3, 1093, Belazuri 339 and Ibn al Fakih 309.) However, a son of
Shahryar named Qaren who had been detained at the court of Maziyar later
on joined the Arabs and after the fall of Maziyar was restored to his
paternal estate.

"As regards the Avesta expression _Ragha Zarathushtrish_ in the Yasna 9,
18, it refers to political conditions of a much anterior age not yet
reached by our historical investigations."

[Translated from Marquarts, _Eranshahr_, p. 127 _seq_-G.K.N.]



Professor Inostranzev gives a list of passages of Iranian interest which
are to be found in the _Mahasin-wal masawi_ and in the _Mahasin wal
azdad_ giving references to pages in the European editions.
Unfortunately I have not been able to procure the latter and cannot
verify the allusions. I, however, reproduce below the Iranian subjects
touched upon in these two Arabic books on _adab_ in the Cairo editions.

Iranian material from the Mahasin-wal masawi, Part I, p. 1. A dictum of

P. 82, A story of King Kobad.

P. 96, A story of Anushirwan, "the wisest of men of his time in Persia".

P. 110, A story of King Ardeshir.

P. 122, Reference to a custom of the Persian kings and a story of

Iranian material from the Mahasin-wal masawi Part II.

P. 62, A story about Shiruya, son of Aberwez.

P. 74, A dictum of the Persians on eloquence.

P. 75, A story about Buzarjmahir.

P. 123, A story about Anushirwan.

P. 125, A story about King Kobad and a MOBED.

P. 131, A story of Anushirwan.

P. 133, A dictum of Buzarjmahir.

P. 154, A story of Hurmuz, son of Anushirwan.

P. 155, A story of Bahramgor.

P. 155, A story of the sense of justice of King Anushirwan.

P. 166, A story of Anushirwan.

P. 169, Reference to a ZAND book in connection with Islam.

P. 170, A story of an Arab who acted as interpreter in Arabic to a
Persian King.

P. 178, A story as narrated by Kisrawi about Kisra, son of Hormuz.

P. 178, Reference to a Majus or Zoroastrian.

P. 194, A story of Shiruya, son of Kisra.

P, 199, A quotation from Ibn-ul Muqaffa.

P. 203, The story of Sabur-zul-aktaf.


P. 14, Story of King Abarwez.

P. 17, Story of the Kisra.

P. 35, Quotation from al Kisrawi, relating a story about Kisra, son of
Hormuz. In this story the unfortunate general Afshin, the governor of
Ashrushna, is plainly designated a _Majus_ or Zoroastrian.

P. 51, A dictum of Bahramgor.

P. 51, The conversation between the MOBEDAN MOBED and King Aberwez.

P. 51, Reference to the book of "our" (Zoroastrian) religion _(Kitab

P. 110, Reference to an inscription on a stone slab discovered in the
treasury of a Persian king.

P. 163, The story of Balash as narrated by Kisrawi, (on this story Baron
Rosen bases his investigation of the Pahlavi _Khodaynama_.)

P. 168, An anecdote of King Aberwez.

Professor Inostranzev finds the following Iranian material in the
Mahasin-wal masavi and the Mahasin-wal azdad (MM=Mahasin-wal Masavi, and
MA=Mahasin wal-azdad):

MA, 21, 4 to 10--MM, 490, 2 to 7.
MA, 37, 12 to 14--MM, 128, 11 to 12.
MA, 53, 14 to 16--MM, 571, 1 to 3.
MA, 78, 5 to 9--MM, 202, 2 to 5.
MA, 79, 2 to 6--MM, 202, 14 to 16.
MA, 79, 6 to 11--MM, 202, 16 to 203, 2.
MA, 168,20 to 3--MM, 310, 16 to 18.
MA, 170, 2 to 3--MM, 313, 7 to 8.
MA, 173, 8 to 16--MM, 372, 11 to 18.

In connection with the importance of Kisrawi as regards the Persian
literary material, these are the extracts from him in the two Arabic

MA, 168, 20 to 269, 3--MM, 310, 16 to 18.
MA, 53, 14 to 16--MM, 571, 1 to 3.
MA, 359, 13 to 364, 6--MM, 376, 1 to 9.

In view of the remarks by Browne (_Literary History_,471 to 475)
regarding the significance of Persian words and expressions in the
ancient Arabic literary works for the history of the Persian language,
of particular importance are the excerpts from Kisrawi, MA 168,20 to
269, 3--MM, 310, 16 to 18, where occur Persian phrases from the maxims
of Anushirwan "which as I think have been handed down to us in pure
Pahlavi." Interesting is the interpretation of the Persian word _Mihman_
at another place in the same Arabic books, _viz_:--MA, 79, 6 to 11=MM,
202, 16 to 203, 2.


[Translation of Noeldeke's _Burzoe's Einleitung zu dem Buche Kalila wa


[Sidenote: Burzoe's Introduction not fabricated.]

The Arabic redaction of the Indian tales which we know under the name of
_Kalila wa Dimna_ had two unquestionably genuine Introductions, that of
the compilator Ibn Moqaffa himself who died in 142 A.H., and that of
Burzoe who in the time of King Khusrow I, (A.D. 531 to 579) brought the
book from India and translated it into the written Persian language of
the time, the Pehlevi. The circumstances regarding the mission of Burzoe
to India are still not clear. At any rate Ibn Moqaffa did not write as
we read them now.

Nevertheless it is by no means improbable that he had affixed to his
book a report which, however, wan subsequently mutilated, of necessity,
in diverse ways. The preface by Ala-ibn-Shah or Behbod, which has also
been printed by de Sacy, which is found in a few manuscripts and which
is not known to the ancient translations is a later and entirely
valueless excrescence.

The Introduction of Burzoe stood in the Pehlevi work which Ibn Moqaffa
had before him. According to certain manuscripts this Introduction has
been compiled--or however we translate the ambiguous term _tarjuma_--by
Burzgmihir, the prime minister of Khusrow, much better known in polite
literature than in history.

[Naturally I do not deny altogether that Burzgmihir was a historical
personage but he possessed by no means the importance which the
tradition in question ascribes to him. The ascription is purely an
erroneous inference from the above-mentioned report of the
circumstances touching the mission of Burzoe, has not the slightest
inherent probability, and is besides wanting not only in other
manuscripts but also in all the older translations.]

We cannot question the fact that this section of the Arabic work in the
main reproduces the Introduction composed by the Chief physician Burzoe
himself to the book translated by him into Pehlevi from an Indian
language. That language as Hertel has shown was Sanskrit, which fact,
however, does not preclude the possibility of an Indian interpreter
translating the original text to the Persian who spoke a modern Indian
tongue. Several passages speak to the fact that the author of the
Introduction is the physician. Why should Ibn Moqaffa pretend that
Burzoe earnestly studied medicine and practised it? Moreover, the
section is familiar with those principles of Indian medicine of which
Ibn Moqaffa could otherwise know little and the exposition of which he
had no call to deal with. The entire situation seems to me to harmonise
with the circumstances of the Persian physician. Specially noteworthy is
the encomium on the Persian sovereign.

[Sidenote: Ibn Moqaffa took liberties with the Pehlevi.]

This is, however, not equivalent to saying that the Arabic text is an
exact replica, down to details, of the original of Burzoe. In the first
place it has to be observed that Ibn Moqaffa was no pure translator at
all but a regular redactor of his model. His object was to prepare a
work suitable to the taste of his highly educated readers and at the
same time entertaining and instructive. He proceeded, therefore, not
only with a tolerably free hand as an artist in words but added good
many things of his own. Above all here we have to bear in mind the trial
of Dimna. That this chapter is an addition by a Muslim who would not let
pass in silence the acknowledgement of clever but demeaning intrigue was
already recognised by Benfey and we need not doubt but that it
originated with Ibn Moqaffa. I would also claim, for Ibn Moqaffa the
somewhat unimportant history of the anchorite and his guest. The manner
of his narrative we learn from his own preface. It is especially to be
noted that here also as in the trial of Dimna he recounts anecdotes
after the Indian fashion.

[Sidenote: Ibn Moqaffa's religious scepticism.]

It is accordingly not impossible that in our Burzoe chapter there are a
few things which have originated not with the Persian physician of old
but with Ibn Moqaffa; and this, I presume, as I showed long ago,
specially from the disquisition on enquiry into the uncertainty of
religions. It appears much more to fit in with Ibn Moqaffa than Burzoe.

Ibn Moqaffa exchanged the religion of his Persian fathers for Islam only
in his mature years,--certainly not because he saw in the latter perfect
verity but because probably he was not satisfied with Zoroastrianism
with which he was intimately familiar or with any of the other religions
which in his time flourished openly or in secret in Iraq which was "the
heart of the Empire". To such a man the scepticism of our section is
natural, a fact which does not make it impossible that certain
principles which were common to all the religions intimately known to
the author remained also self-evident to Ibn Moqaffa,--such as God as
the Creator, and the next world with its reward and penalties. Had Ibn
Moqaffa, in his own name confessed to such religious doubts publicly no
patron could have saved him from capital punishment. On the other hand
he ran no risk in ascribing the questionable exposition to the Persian
long since dead, who, however, supposing that he harboured such doubts
could not have given expression to them as a physician attached to the
Imperial Court of Persia. The belief in an inexorable fate which is
evident in this chapter as well as in the entire portion attributable to
Ibn Moqaffa could have been cherished, no doubt, also by a Mazdyasnian.
This doctrine, therefore, speaks neither for nor against the authorship
of Ibn Moqaffa. Equally far from decisive is the exhortation to pure
morality which finds expression there.

I am confirmed in my view that the passage on the unconvincing nature of
religions proceeded from Ibn Moqaffa by a few couplets in the
_Shahnama_. (Mohl vol. 5, 53 ff; Macan 1293). The king of India called
Kaid has several dreams which are interpreted to him by the sage Mihran.
The third dream, about four men pulling at a fine piece of cloth, each
towards himself, without tearing it, is thus explained by him:

"Know that the piece of cloth is the religion divine end that the four
men who pull at it have come to preserve it. One of the religions is
that of the Dihkans, the fire-worshippers, who may not take in hand the
Barsom without pronouncing the prayer formula.

"[The Dihkans were properly speaking the small landed nobility of the
Sasanian times and as such were representatives of the ancient Persian
religion; _barsom_ and the prayer formula or _baz_ are well-known
components of their ritual.]

"Another religion is that of Moses, which is called the Jewish religion,
maintaining that none besides itself is worthy of praise; the third
religion is of Greece, belongs to men of piety and brings equity to the
heart of princes (this is Christianity). The fourth is the pure faith of
the Arab which raises the head of the intelligent out of dust. Thus they
struggle for the preservation of their religion and pull the cloth
towards the four sides away from each other and become enemies for the
sake of religion."

[Sidenote: Ibn Moqaffa no sincere Muslim]

This passage the basic principle of which accords with the reflections
on religion in our chapter I would now with greater positiveness than
before trace to Ibn Moqaffa (ZDMG 59, 803). It did not find a place in
the old Pehlevi "_Book of Kings_" because the latter could recognise
only the national religion as the right one and could not have taken
into consideration Islam, even supposing that the last redaction of the
official Sasanian history took place at a time when Muhammadanism had
already come into existence. But Firdausi did not at all invent the
material of his narrative. He merely compiled it and the major portion
of the compilation goes back to the shape which Ibn Moqaffa had given to
the ancient tradition (see what I have to say on this in my National
Epic of Iran, _Grundriss der iran philogie_). In actuality Ibn Moqaffa
was not believed to be a sincere Muslim. He is frequently stigmatised as
Zindik or heretic (See _Aghani_ 13.81, 18 ff. 18, 200, 25 ff. Ibn
Qotaiba, _Uyun_ 71, 9; further Ibn Khallikan 186, p. 125.)

[The term zindiq probably originally denoted a certain rank among the
Manichaeians or a similar religion and was then applied to suit a
variety of infidels. The etemology, Aramaic Zaddiqy, has been recognised
by Bevan.]

Again the passage does not fit in with the tenor of the entire section.
For Burzoe who was at a loss with regard to the physician's art, the
main question is, whether he should or should not become an ascetic,--a
question which must concern Ibn Moqaffa but little. The suitability of
the addenda hardly admits of proof but we may state that Ibn Moqaffa did
not simply interpolate but wove them artfully in his text and he might
have omitted something here and there.

[Sidenote: Burzoe influenced by Buddhism]

It seems to me highly probable that Burzoe allowed himself to be
influenced by the Buddhist romance, the original of which has perished
and the best representative of which, is preserved to us in the Arabic
_Bilauhar wa Budasf_ (See _Barlaam und Joasaph_ by E. Kuhn). Many a
passage of our chapter is strongly reminiscent of the sentences of the
romance, for instance, the dangers to the body remind one of those
related at p. 53; the four principles or _akhalat_ appear at p. 9, and
the parable of the man in the well is common to both. The parable which
stands at the close of the chapter is, unless one is greatly mistaken,
directly taken from the romance with little modification. It stands in
the whole of _Kalila wa Dimna_ isolated, deviates in manner and tendency
entirely from the story and also from what has issued from Ibn Moqaffa
but is consistent with the monastic predilections of Burzoe. And his
appraisement of the life of the recluse does not appear spontaneous but
something to which he has laboriously compelled himself. One may surmise
that it was really alive only in India. How far it was practised in
actual life must remain unproved. We must not omit to mention that
Burzoe points out that for an ideal physician his art earns also rich
earthly profits.

[Sidenote: English translation of the Introduction a desideratum.]

So far as I know, of this chapter there is no translation in a European
language except in the English by Knatchbull which appeared in 1819,
which reproduced the imperfect text of de Sacy and is otherwise
defective. Wolff did well to omit it in his German translation of
_Kalila wa Dimna_ of 1837, for he could not have produced a correct
rendering of de Sacy's text which was not completed till 1873 by Guidi.

[Sidenote: Difficulties of translation.]

Even now it is impossible to make a translation of Burzoe's Introduction
which can stand the test of philology. We must first see whether with
the use of all available manuscripts and a careful collation of other
text sources we cannot arrive at a tolerably settled Arabic text. And
that is, so far as I can conclude from my not quite insignificant
material, not very probable. At all events a searching examination of
all the manuscripts in the great Paris library is essential. The various
texts of the book are considerably divergent. Arbitrariness and
carelessness of transcriber have disfigured Ibn Moqaffa's work of art
just because it presently became a favourite book of entertainment. The
language at all events remains approximately correct in the manuscripts.

Grammatical mistakes easy of correction are not seldom met with but pure
vulgarisms occur only in a few copies like that of Berlin. The
numberless variants have not much significance for the translator when
it is only a question of synonyms, since for them the same European
expression can do duty. And though it is not certain whether in the case
of a multitude of non-essential or wholly analogous expressions the
shorter or the extended text is the original one, that does not
substantially affect the translation. There is scarcely any harm in
curtailing the frequent tautology of this chapter. We should be well
advised in case of successive synonymous abstract nouns and verbs such
as occur frequently in Arabic to translate by a simple expression with
an emphatic adjective or adverb. But not seldom the difference becomes
great. It is a difficult situation when we are uncertain whether the
passage which is found in several manuscripts and not in others is the
original one. As a rule we have to decide in favour of the majority but
as sometimes we do come across actual interpolations in some, so their
existence is not impossible in others, although we can not be positive
on the subject.

[Sidenote: A monumental piece of literature.]

The matter would have been less troublesome for me had I been able
straight way to declare as the best the tradition of any of the
manuscripts familiarly known to me or any old translation. That,
however, is not so. I have to judge each case by itself and to proceed
eclectically as much as my philological conscience permits. Finally, by
means of my rendering I believe I have reproduced the import of this
monumental piece of literature without showing absolute partiality to
the Arabic document. My rendering is wanting doubtless in the elegance
with which Ibn Moqaffa handles the language which in his time had
acquired the capacity of treating even abstract subjects with lucidity.
May a later hand improve upon my translation!

Only those who attempt it can appreciate how difficult it is to make a
tolerable European translation even of an easily intelligible Arabic
text. A literal translation would be wooden. We have often to alter the
entire construction and to insert all manner of words foreign to the
Arabic to make the context clear. On the other hand the translator must
avoid employing the same expression in rapid succession, a procedure
which is common in Arabic even if we make allowance for the _figura
etymologica_ and the like.

[Sidenote: Ibn Qutaiba and Ibn Moqaffa.]

I only know two passages in this chapter which are quoted by Arabic
authors. Brockelmann informs me that no quotation from our chapter
occurs in the unpublished portion of the _Uyun_ of Ibn Qutaiba. Unless I
am mistaken the excerpts in this book from _Kalila wa Dimna_ are not
always correct. Ibn Qutaiba was concerned more with the sense than with
the phraseology of Ibn Moqaffa.


Who undertook to transcribe and translate this Indian Book (Kalila wa

[Sidenote: Autobiographical.]

My father belonged to the Warrior class, my mother came of an eminent
priestly family. One of the earliest boons which the Lord conferred on
me was that I was the most favourite child of my parents and that they
exerted themselves more for my education than for my brothers. So when I
was seven years old they sent me to a children's school.

[This was required to be mentioned in his case inasmuch as it could not
have been necessary or usual for a child of distinguished parentage in
early Persia to be educated in a public school.]

When I had learnt the ordinary writing I was thankful to my parents and
perceived something in knowledge.

[In spite of the wide divergence in the Arabic texts and translations
the sense of the original is clear. Note the reference to the difficult
nature of the Pehlevi syllabary. Only the Spanish version has a good
deal more about the schooling.]

[Sidenote: Appreciation of the healing art.]

And the first branch of science to which I felt inclination was
medicine. It had a great attraction for me because I recognised its
excellence and the more I acquired it the more I loved it and the more
earnestly I studied it. Now when I had progressed sufficiently far to
think of treating invalids I took counsel with myself and reflected in
the following manner on the four objects for which mankind so earnestly
strive. "Which of them shall I seek to acquire with the help of my art,
money, prosperity, fame, or reward in the next world"? In the choice of
my calling the decisive factor was my experience that men of
understanding praise medicine and that the adherents of no religion
censure it. I found, however, in medical literature that the best
physician is he who by his devotion to his vocation strives only after a
reward in the next world; and I resolved to act accordingly and not to
think of worldly gain, so that I may not be likened to the merchant who
sold for a worthless bead a ruby by which he could have acquired a world
of wealth. On the other hand, I found in the books of the ancients that
when a physician strives after the reward in the next world by means of
his art he thereby forfeits no fraction of his worldly guerdon but that
therein he is to be compared with the peasant who carefully sows his
plot of ground to acquire corn and who subsequently without further
effort gets along with the harvest all manner of vegetation.

[The cultivator along with the harvest gets grass and vegetation which
may serve as a pasture for cattle.]

[Sidenote: Burzoe starts practice.]

I, therefore, directed my attention to the hope of securing recompense
in the next world by curing the sick and was at considerable pains in
the treatment of all the deceased whom I hoped to cure and even such as
were past all such hopes, whose suffering I endeavoured at least to
alleviate. I personally attended those I could; but where this was not
possible I gave the patients the necessary instructions and also sent
medicine. And from none of those whom I so treated did I demand payment
or other return. I was jealous of none of my colleagues who was my
equal in knowledge and who excelled me in repute and riches; although as
a matter of fact he was lacking in equity and good manners. When,
however, my soul felt inclined to impel me to be jealous of such and to
be covetous of a situation like his I met it with severity in the
following manner:--

[Sidenote: Burzoe addresses his own soul. The physician's arduous

[Sidenote: A simile.]

O soul, dost not thou differentiate between what is useful and what is
injurious to thee? Dost thou not cease wishing for the acquisition of
that which secures for every one a small gain but which entails severe
exertion and privation and which, when he must at last relinquish it,
procures him much sorrow and severe punishment in the next world? O
soul, thinkest thou not of that which succeeds this life and forgettest
it because of thy avarice for the things of this world? Art thou not
ashamed to live the evanescent terrestrial life in the company of men of
feeble intellect and fools? It belongs not to him even who has something
of it in his hand: it does not endure with him and only the infatuated
and the negligent depend upon it. Desist from this irrationality and
bend all thy might, so long as in thee lies, to exert thyself for the
good and for divine recompense. Beware of procrastination. Reflect on
the fact that our body is destined to all manner of unhappiness and
permeated with the four perishable and impure principles which are
enclosed in it, which struggle against each other, defeating each other
by turn, and thus support life which itself is transient. Life is like a
statue with several limbs. When properly adjusted each in its right
place, they hold themselves together on a single pivot but which, when
the latter is taken off, fall to pieces. O soul, do not deceive thyself
owing to intercourse with friends and companions and do not strain
thyself after it, inasmuch as this intercourse brings no doubt joy but
also much hardship and tribulation and finally ends in separation. It is
like a ladle which men use for hot soup, so long as it is new but when
it breaks they have done with it--burn it. O soul, allow not thyself to
be moved by family and relations to amass property for them so that
thyself should perish. Thou shouldst, then, be like fragrant incense
which is burnt only for the enjoyment of others. They are like a hair
which men cherish so long as it remains on the head but cast it off as
impure as soon as it falls. O soul, be steadfast in treating the
diseased and give it not up because thou findest that the physician's
profession is arduous and people do not recognise its uses and high
value. Judge only thyself whether a man who cures in another a disease
making him feel once more fresh and whole is not worthy of a great
reward and handsome remuneration. This is the case with one who has
solicitude for a single individual; how much more then is this so in the
case of a medicineman who for meed in the next world thus acts towards
a, large number of men, so that they after torturing pains and maladies,
which shut them out from the enjoyment of the world, from food and
drink, wife and child, feel once more as well as ever before. Who indeed
merits larger reward and nobler retribution? O soul, do not put away
from thy sight things of the next world because thou hungerest after
passing life. For thou, in thy haste to acquire a triviality
surrenderest the valuable; and such people are in the position of the
merchant who had a house full of aloe wood and who said, "If I were to
sell this by weight it would take me too long" and therefore gave it
away wholesale for a trifling price.

[Sidenote: Autobiographical]

After thus I had replied to my soul and thereby explained matters to it
and guided it aright it could not deviate from truth, yielded to
righteousness and abandoned what it was inclined to. Accordingly I
continued to treat the sick for the sake of my reward in the next world.
This, however, by no means prevented my acquiring a rich portion of
earthly goods before my journey to India as well as after my return from
the kings, and that was more than I was ambitious of or had hoped for,
for a man in my position and my calling.

[Sidenote: Limitations of the healing art.]

Thereafter I again reflected on the healing art and found that the
physician can employ no remedy for a suffering patient which so
completely cures his disease that it does not attack him again or that
he is immune from a worse disorder. While, therefore, I was unaware how
I could effect a perfect cure secure against the recurrence of a
disease, I saw that on the other hand acknowledge of the next world was
a permanent absolute protection against all distempers. Accordingly I
conceived a contempt for the healing art and a longing for religious

[Sidenote: Uncertainty of religious Verity.]

[Sidenote: Burzoe inquires of religious heads on matters divine: his

When, however, this occurred to my mind it was not clear to me how
matters stood with reference to religion. I found nothing in the
writings on pharmacy which indicated to me the truest religion. So far
as I saw there were many religions and creeds and their adherents were
again disunited. Some inherit their religion from their fathers; others
are compelled to adhere to it by fear and pressure; others again aim at
worldly advantages, enjoyments and renown. Everyone claims for himself
the possession of the true and right faith and denounces that of others
as false and erroneous. Their views on the world and other problems are
entirely conflicting yet each despises the other, is inimical to and
censures every other creed. I then resolved to turn to the learned and
leaders of every religions community with a view to examining their
doctrines and precepts in order possibly to learn to distinguish between
verity and nullity and implicity to give my adhesion to the former
without altogether accepting as true what I did not understand. So I
analysed, investigated and observed, but I found that all those people
only held before me traditional notions. Each landed his faith and
reviled that of others. It was, therefore, evident to me that their
conclusions rested on mere imagination and that they did not speak with
impartiality. In none did I find such fairness and integrity that
reasonable people could accept their dicta and declare themselves
satisfied with them. When I perceived this it was impossible for me to
follow any one of the religions and recognised that if I put faith in
one of them of which I knew nothing I should fare like the betrayed
believer in the following story.

[Sidenote: Anecdote of the credulous burglar.]

Once upon a time a thief set out at night and along with his companions
got up on to the roof of the house of a man of opulence. As they entered
they awoke the owner who noticed them and perceived that at that hour
they were on the roof with evil intent. He awoke his wife and gently
said to her, "I see that up on the top of our roof there are thieves. I
will pretend to sleep, wake me up in a voice loud enough to be heard by
those on the roof and say to me, 'My husband, do tell me how you came by
so much wealth and property.' When I make no reply whatever ask me very
pressingly again." The woman accordingly asked him as she was ordered so
that the house-breakers heard it all. The man replied, "My wife, luck
has led you to great prosperity, so eat and drink, keep quiet and do not
ask about it, because if I told it to you, some one would easily hear it
and get something by it, which neither of us would like." She, however,
persisted, "But my husband, do tell me, surely there is no one here to
overhear us." "Well then, I will tell you that I have acquired all this
wealth and goods by theft." "How did you manage it, when in the eye of
the people you are still irreproachably honest and no one suspects you?"
"By means of an artifice in the science of thieving: it is so handy and
easy that no one can have any suspicion whatever." "How so?" "I used to
manage this way: On a moonlight night I would go out with my companions,
get up to the roof of the house of the person I wanted to rob as far as
the sky light through which the moon shone and then uttered seven times
the charm _Sholam Sholam Sholam_. I would then embrace the rays and
slide down into the house without any body noticing my intrusion. Then
at the other extremity of the moon-beams I again would seven times
repeat the magic word and all the money and treasures in the house
became visible to me. I could take of them whatever I would. Once more I
would embrace the beams and rehearsing again seven times the magic word
mount up to my companions and load them with all I had. Next we stole
away unscathed."

When the robbers overheard this they rejoiced exceedingly and said: "In
this house we have got a spoil which is more valuable to us than the
gold which we can get there; we have acquired a means by which God
delivers us from fear and we are secure against the authorities." So
they watched for a long time and when they had made sure that the master
of the house and his wife had gone to sleep the leader of the robbers
stepped up to the spot where the light streamed through the hole, spoke
Sholam Sholam seven times, clasped the rays with the intention of
dropping down along them and fell head foremost on the floor. The
husband sprang to his feet with a club and thrashed him to a jelly
asking him, "Who are you?" And he replied, "The deceived believer: this
is the fruit of blind faith."

[Sidenote: More religious investigation and more despair.]

[Sidenote: A dilemma.]

Accordingly, after I had grown sufficiently circumspect not to credit
what might probably lead to my perdition, I started again investigating
religions to discover the true one. But I again found no reply whenever
I put questions to any one and when a doctrine was propounded to me I
found nothing which in my judgment merited belief or served me as a
guiding principle. Then I said, "The most reasonable course is to cling
to the religion in which I found my fathers." Yet when I sought
justification for this course I found none and said to myself, "If that
be justification then the sorcerer also had one who found his
progenitors to be wizards." And I thought of the man who ate indecently
and when he was rebuked for it he excused himself by saying that his
ancestors used to feed in the same gross way. Since, therefore, it was
impossible for me to keep to the religion of my forbears and since I
could find no justification for it, I desired once more earnestly to
bestir myself and most carefully to examine the various religions and to
consider minutely what they had to offer us. But then suddenly the idea
struck me that the end was near and that the world would presently come
to a close for me. Thereupon I pondered as follows:--

[Sidenote: Meditation of despair.]

Perhaps the hour of my departure has already arrived before I could
wring my hands. My deeds were once still such that I could hope they
were meritorious. Now perhaps the prolonged hesitation over my search
and investigation would turn me away from the good deeds which I
practised formerly, so that my end would not be such as I strove for,
and owing to my wavering and vacillation the fate of the man in the
following anecdote would overtake me.

[Sidenote: An anecdote: fatal hesitation.]

A certain man had a love affair with a married woman. She had made for
him a subterraneous passage opening into the street and its entrance was
constructed close by a water jar. This she did for fear lest her husband
or some one else should surprise her. Now one day when her paramour was
with her word was brought that the husband was standing at the door. The
lover hastened to get behind the jar but it had been removed by some one
so he came to the woman and said, "I went to the passage but the jar of
which you spoke was not there." To which the woman, said "You fool, what
have you got to do with the jar? I mentioned it to point to you the way
to the passage." "I could not be sure, since the jar was not near the
passage, you should not have spoken of it to me and misled me." "Now
save yourself, enough of your stupidity and hesitation." "But how shall
I go since you spoke to me of the jar and even now confuse me?" Thus he
remained there till the master of the house came up and seized hold of
and belaboured him, and handed him over to the authorities.

[Sidenote: Burzoe follows good principles common to all creeds.]

[Sidenote: The properties of righteousness.]

Since I was apprehensive of the risks of shilly-shallying I resolved not
to expose myself to the danger and to confine myself entirely to such
works as all men regard as benevolent and which are consonant with all
the religions. I refrained, therefore, from assault, murder and robbery,
and guarded myself against incontinence and my tongue from falsehood and
all utterance calculated to harm any one, avoided the smallest
deception, indecency of language, falsehood, calumny and ridicule and
took pains that my heart wished ill of no one and that I did not
disbelieve in resurrection and retribution and punishment in the next
world. I turned away my mind from wickedness and adhered energetically
to good, perceived that there is no better associate or friend than
righteousness and that it is easy to acquire it with the help of God. I
found that it has more tender solicitude for us than father and mother
that it leads to good and gives true counsel like one friend to another,
that use does not diminish but rather multiplies it, and that when
employed it does not wear out, but is constantly renewed, and becomes
more beautiful; that we need not fear that the authorities will snatch
it from us, the enemy will rob or miscreants disfigure it, or water
drown or fire will consume it, wild beasts attack it or that any thing
untoward will happen to it. He who contemns righteousness and its
consequences in the next world and permits himself to be seduced from it
by a fraction of the sweets of this passing world, he who passes his
days with things which do not permit piety to approach him, fares as
did to my knowledge the merchant in the following story.

[Sidenote: The careless Jeweller.]

A merchant had many precious stones. To bore a hole through them he
hired a man for a hundred pieces of gold a day and went with him to his
house. As soon however, as he set to work, there was a lute and the
workman turned his eyes towards it. And upon the merchant questioning
him whether he could play upon it he replied, "Yes, right well." For he
was indeed proficient in the art. "Then take it" said the merchant. He
therefore took it and played for the merchant the whole day beautiful
melodies in proper tune so that the jeweller left the caset with the
precious stones in it and filled with joy kept time, nodding his head
and waving his hand. In the evening he said to the jeweller, "Let me
have my wages," And when the latter said, "Have you done anything to
deserve the wage?" he replied, "You have hired me and I have done what
you ordered me to do." So he pressed him till he received his hundred
pieces without any deduction, while the gems remained unbored.

[Sidenote: Aversion to pleasures of the world: Buddhistic pessimism.]

The more I reflected upon the world and its joys the deeper grew my
aversion towards them. Then I made up my mind entirely to devote myself
to the life of the blessed and the anchorite. For I saw that asceticism
is a garden the hedge of which keeps off at a distance eternal evils,
and the door through which man attains to everlasting felicity. And I
found that a divine tranquility comes over the ascetic when he is
absorbed in meditation; for he is still, contented, unambitious,
satisfied, free from cares, has renounced the world, has escaped from
evils, is devoid of greed, is pure, independent, protected against
sorrow, above jealousy, manifests pure love, has abandoned all that is
transitory, has acquired perfect understanding, has seen the recompense
of the next world, is secure against remorse, fears no man, does none
any harm and remains himself unmolested. And the more I pondered over
asceticism the more I yearned for it so that at last I earnestly thought
of becoming an ascetic.

[Sidenote: The trials of an anchorite: the greedy dog.]

But then apprehension came upon me that I should not be able to support
the life of a hermit and that the ordinary way in which I had grown up
would prove an hindrance. I was not sure that, should I renounce the
world and adopt asceticism, I should not prove too feeble for it.
Moreover, should I give up such good works as I had previously performed
in the hope of salvation, I should be in the position of the dog who
with the bone in his mouth was going along a river. He saw his
reflection in the water, suddenly dashed forward to seize it and
consequently let fall what he had in the mouth without securing what he
wanted to get. So I grew uneasy regarding the recluse's life and was
afraid lest I should fail to bear it and thought therefore rather to
continue the career of my life.

[Sidenote: Worldly Monastic life.]

[Sidenote: A series of similes.]

However, it occurred to me to compare the discomforts and straits of
monasticism, which I feared I should be unable to support, with the
wants of those who remain in the world. Then it became clear to me that
all the joys and pleasures of the world turn to discomforts and bring
sorrow. For the world is like salt water. The more one drinks of it the
more thirsty one becomes; like a bone found by a dog on which he still
sniffs the flavour of flesh, he bites to get at it but only to tear the
flesh of his teeth and make his mouth bleed and the more he struggles
the more he makes it bleed; like the vulture that has found a piece of
flesh, it attracts other birds in a flock so that for a long time it is
in trouble and flies till at last, quite exhausted, it drops its prey;
like a pot filled with honey and with poison at the bottom, he who eats
of it has a short enjoyment but at last death by venom; like a dream
which rejoices the sleeper who finds when he awakes his joy vanished;
like lightning that brings brilliance for a moment but quickly
disappears, he who builds his hope upon it abides in darkness; like the
silk worm the more it spins itself into the silk the more impossible it
finds to come out.

[Sidenote: More internal struggle.]

After I had pondered thus I once more proposed to my soul to elect
asceticism and had yearning for it. Nevertheless I opposed it with: It
will not do that I should seek refuge from the world in asceticism when
I think of the evils of the world and then again seek refuge in the
world from asceticism when I consider the privations and discomforts of
the latter. I continued in a state of prolonged vacillation without firm
determination like the Kazi of Merv who at first heard one party and
decided in his favour and against the other and then heard the other and
gave judgment in favour of the latter as against the first. And when
again I reflected upon the frightful discomforts and straits of
monasticism I said, How trifling it is all in comparison with eternal
peace. And then once more thinking of the joys of the world I exclaimed,
How bitter and pernicious they are which lead to perpetual perdition and
its horrors; how can a man not regard as sweet the little bitterness
which is succeeded by sweet that endures and how can a man not regard as
bitter a bit of sweet that ends in greater and abiding bitterness? If it
was offered to a man that he should live a hundred years but that every
day he should be hacked to pieces and should be called to life again the
following day and so on, provided that at the close of the century he
should be delivered from the torture and pain and be in security and
delight, he would account as nothing the whole years. How can a man then
not bear the few days of asceticism, the inconveniences of which are
succeeded by much that is beautiful? And we know that the entire world
bears privation and torment and that man from his origin as foetus till
the end of his days is subject to one suffering after another. Moreover,
we find the following in books of medicine.

[Sidenote: Man in embryo: his torments till and after death.]

[Sidenote: Tribulations of human existence.]

When the liquid, of which the perfect child is to be built, enters the
uterus of the woman, and mixes itself with her liquid substance and her
blood it becomes thick and pulpy. Next the liquid is stirred by a wind
and becomes like sour milk and later on hard like curdled milk. After a
certain number of days the individual members become separate. If it is
a man child its face is turned to the back of the mother; if it is a
female it is turned towards the belly. In the foetus the hands are on
the cheeks and the chin is on the knee. It is all bundled up in the
foetus as if it was thrust into a pouch. It breathes through a narrow
opening. Each member is bound by a chord. Above it is the heat and the
pressure of the mother's womb; below are darkness and constriction. It
is tied with a piece of its navel to that of its mother, sucks through
it and lives upon her food and drink. In this position it remains in
gloom and confinement till the day of birth. When that day comes a wind
acquires control of the womb, that child acquires strength to rise,
turns the head towards the opening and experiences in this confinement
the pain of one forced into a distressing torture. Should it fall to the
ground or be touched only by a breath of wind or should it come in
contact with one's hands it feels greater pain, than a person that is
flayed alive. The new born babe then suffers all manner of torment. When
it is hungry it cannot ask for food; thirsty, for drink; when in pain it
cannot call for help. Besides it is lifted up, laid down, wrapped up,
swathed, washed and rubbed. When it is laid to sleep on the back it
cannot turn. Again so long as it is given the suck it is subjected to
all manner of other tortures. When it is finally delivered from these,
it is liable to those of education and has then to suffer a great deal,
the brusqueness of the teacher, the unpleasantness of the instruction,
the disgust at writing. Next he has his rich portion of medicine, diet,
aches and illnesses. When he has outgrown these, he is troubled with
wife, child and property and is pulled about by covetuous ambition and
is exposed to the peril of longing and desires. All this while he is
menaced by his four internal enemies, gall, blood, bile and wind; and
furthermore, mortal poison, snakes that bite, animals of prey and
reptiles, the alternation of heat and cold, rain and storm as well as
finally the various plagues of age, if at all he survives those. But
should he have nothing to fear from all this and were he secure with
regard to these calamities, when he thinks of the moment when death must
come and he musk give up the world, what a miserable plight is his, at
the thought of the hour he has to separate himself from family,
friends, and relations and all that is precious on the earth, and when
he reflects that there is in store for him after death fearful horrors?
Then must he be considered of feeble intellect, neglectful and a suitor
for misfortune should he do nothing for his soul, should he not employ
all art in behalf of the soul, and should he not renounce altogether the
pleasures and errors of the world which till then had seduced him.

[Sidenote: Eulogy of the reigning Monarch.]

[Sidenote: Fallen on evil days.]

[Sidenote: How the world's misery outweighs its joys.]

But this holds especially good of modern times which have become worn
out and fragile, which appear pure but are turbid. God has given the
king good fortune and success. He is equally circumspect, mighty,
magnanimous, profound examiner, upright, humane, liberal, a lover of
truth, grateful, of broad comprehension, mindful of right and duty,
indefatigable, strenuous, with insight, helpful, serene of mind,
intelligent, thoughtful, gentle, sympathetic, kind, one who knows man
and things, friend of learning and the learned, of the good and of
benevolent people, but severe to the oppressor, not timid, nor backward,
dexterous in granting in abundance to his subjects what they desire and
averting from them what they do not like. Yet we see that our days are
retrogressive in every way. It is as if man were divested of truth, as
if that should be absent which one sadly misses and as if the harmful
were there, as if the good were withering and the evil flourishing, as
if the sinners were proceeding with a smile and the righteous receding
in tears; as if knowledge was entombed and irrationality propagated, as
if wretched intent was spreading and nobility of thought restricted; as
if love was cut off and malice and hatred had become favourites; as if
rectitude were divested of prosperity which had betaken itself to the
malefactor; as if craftiness were awake and truth were asleep; as if
mendacity were fruitful and veracity was left in the cold; as if those
in power held before them the duty to act according to their own
inclinations and to violate law, as if the oppressed were in dejection
and made way for the tyrant; as if greediness on all sides had opened
its jaws and swallowed all that was far and near; as if there was no
trace left of contentment; as if the wicked had exalted themselves to
Heaven and had made the good sink into the ground; as if nobility of
mind were thrown from the loftiest pinnacle to most abysmal depths, as
if turpitude were in honour and authority and as if sovereignty had been
transferred from the exalted to the mean--in fact as if the world in the
fullness of its joy were crying, "I have concealed the good and brought
the evil to light." When, however, I reflected on the world and its
condition and on the fact that man, although he is the noblest and
foremost of creatures in it, is still in spite of his eminent position,
subject to one misery after another and that this is his notorious
peculiarity so that whoever has even a tittle of reason must be
convinced that a human being is unable to help himself and to exert for
his salvation,--this greatly astonished me, as further consideration
told me that he is debarred from salvation only because of the small
miserable enjoyments of smell, taste, sight, hearing and feeling of
which he may receive a fraction or enjoy a particle but which is
insignificant being so transient. He is, however, so much taken up with
it that on its account he does not trouble himself for the salvation of
his soul.

Then I looked for a similitude for this behaviour of human beings and
found the following:

A certain person was fleeing from a danger into a well and suspended
himself by clinging to two branches which grew on its edge, his feet
striking against something which supported them. When he looked round
there were four serpents which were projecting their heads from their
holes. As he looked into the bottom of the well he noticed a dragon with
its jaws open expecting him to fall his prey. And as he turned his head
up to the branches he observed at their roots a black and a white mouse
which were ceaselessly gnawing at both. While he was contemplating the
situation and casting about for a means of escape he descried near him a
hollow with bees that had made some honey. This he tasted and he was so
much absorbed in its deliciousness that he no more thought of the
condition he was in and that he must devise some contrivance of escape.
He became oblivious of the fact that his feet rested against four
serpents and that he did not know which would attack him first, forgot
that the two mice were without cessation nibbling at the boughs by which
he was hanging, and that as soon as they had gnawed them through he
would drop into the jaws of the dragon. And so in his heedlessness he
yielded to the enjoyment of the meed till he perished.

I compared the well with the world which is brimful of all manner of
harm and terrible perils, the four snakes with the four humours which
constitute the physical basis of man, but which, should they be excited,
prove mortal poison; the branches to life, the black and white mice to
night and day which in perpetual alternation consume our lifetime; the
dragon with death inevitable; the honey to the particle of joy which man
derives from his senses of smell, taste, sight, hearing and feeling, but
which makes him oblivious of himself and all his circumstances and decoy
away from the path to emancipation. So circumstanced I found myself, and
endeavoured to conduct myself with as much rectitude as possible in the
hope once again to experience a time when I should acquire a guide for
myself and help for my cause. I remained in this stage till I returned
from India to my homeland after I had made a copy of this book and a
few more.




[Afshin was a Zoroastrian at heart. His trial and condemnation are
referred to by Browne, _Literary History of Persia._ I take the account
direct from Tabari. It is to be found also in Ibn Athir and Ibn Khaldun.
The legal procedure reveals prominently the condition under which
professed non-Moslems lived--religious liberty was granted to them. Note
that it was possible to chastise ecclesiastical officers like Imams and
Muezzins because of their interference with the religious practices of
non-Moslems. Observe the part played by a Mobed at a criminal trial
conducted according to Muhammadan usages. The Zoroastrian priest, who
subsequently embraced Islam, comes forward to give evidence against the
most puissant but covert co-religionist of his times.]

It has been related by Harun son of Isa, son of Mansur as follows:--I
was present in the house of Muatisim and there were there Ahmad bin Ali
Dawud and Ishaq bin Ibrahim son of Masab and Muhammad bin Abdal Maliq al
Zayyad. They then brought Afshin who was yet not in rigorous
imprisonment, and there were present people who were prepared to cause
Afshin to shed tears. There was nobody in the house belonging to any
high position except the sons of Mansur, for, the people had left. Those
present were Muhammad bin Abdal Maliq al Zayyad and there were Mazyar,
the ruler of Tabaristan, the Mobed, and the Marzban son of Urkesh, one
of the chieftains of Sughd, and two people from among the Sughdians.
Then Muhammad Ibn Abdal Maliq called the two people whose clothes were
torn and asked them how they were. They then uncovered their backs which
were torn of the flesh. Muhammad turning to Afshin asked "Do you know
these?" "Yes, this man is the Mauzzin and this, one is the Imam who made
a mosque at Ashrushana, and I struck each of them a thousand lashes, and
that was because there was a covenant between myself and the kings of
Sughd including a clause to the effect that I should leave each
community to its own religion. But these two people attacked a shrine
which had images in it, a shrine which was at Ashrushna, and they took
out the images and turned the shrine into a mosque. I therefore struck
them one thousand lashes for this transgression of theirs."

Then Muhammad asked Afshin, "What is the book which you have got which
you have adorned with gold and gems and brocade? Its contents are
impious with reference to God?" Afshin replied, "This is a book which I
have inherited from my father and it contains the manners of the
Persians, and as regards the impiety to which you refer I take advantage
of the book in so far as the manners are concerned and I leave all the
rest. And I found it bejewelled and as there was no occasion for me to
take off the gems I left it as it was just as you have left with
yourself the book _Kalileh and Dimneh_ and the _Book of Mazdak_ in your
house. For I don't think the book would make me lose my Islam."

Then came forward the Mobed and referring to Afshin said, "This man is
used to eating animals that have been strangled and he suggested the
eating of it to me alleging that the flesh was more fresh than the flesh
of slaughtered animals. And he used to kill a black goat every Wednesday
and tearing it up with his sword he would pass through the two halves,
and he would then eat the flesh. And one day he told me, 'I have entered
this community [Islam] with reference to every detail of theirs which I
hate so that I have eaten of olive oil, have ridden on camels, have put
on the Arabian shoes, but although I have gone to this extent I have not
in any way been injured and no harm has come to me: nor have I had
myself circumcised.'"

Then Afshin said "Let me know as regards this man who is speaking these
words whether he is a staunch believer in his own religion." Now the
Mobed was a Magian who subsequently received Islam at the instance of
the Khalif Mutawakkil and repented of his previous belief. They replied,

Afshin then said, "What is the meaning of your adducing the evidence of
a man who is not firm in his own faith?" Then turning to the Mobed
Afshin said, "Was there between your house and my house any door or any
hole through which you could look at me and learn my movements?"

"No," said the Mobed.

Afshin then asked, "Was I not then introducing you into my private
affairs and informing you regarding my Persian nationality and my
inclination towards it and towards the people of the race?"

"Yes," said the Mobed.

Said Afshin, "Now you are not firm in your own religion, and you are not
faithful to your promise when you have revealed the secret confided by
me to you."

Then the Mobed withdrew and the Marzban turned up. Afshin was asked
whether he knew him, and said "No."

Then the Marzban was asked whether he knew Afshin and said "Yes. This is

Afshin was then told that this was the Marzban and the Marzban turning
to Afshin said; "Oh cutthroat, why do you prevaricate and shuffle?"

Afshin said, "Oh you long-bearded one, what are you talking?"

The Marzban said "How do people under your jurisdiction address you when
they write to you?"

Afshin replied; "Just in the way they used to write to my father and

"Then tell us the way."

"No, I won't."

"Do not the people of Ashrushna write to you in such and such a way?"

"Now, does this not mean in Arabic, 'to the high God from his slave so
and so?'"

[Ibn Khaldun is here clearer than Tabari. The term used was _Khoday_
which in Persian meant Lord, applicable equally to God and any high
dignitary. The original 'Pahlavi' title of the Shahnameh was


Muhammad Ibn Abdal Maliq asked upon this, "Do they tolerate such a
thing? For what greater blasphemy would be left to Pharaoh to commit who
suggested to his people 'I am your God the Highest.'?"

Afshin replied, "This was the custom of the people in my father's and
grandfather's times and it was also the custom with me before I embraced
Islam. And then I did not like that I should lower myself before them.
For then I should have lost their allegiance and the obedience that they
owed me."

Upon this Ishaq Ibn Ibrahim Ibn Musab said, "Fie, fie on you, Hyder."

[Afshin is sometimes referred to as Hyder.]

Then turned up Mazyar the chief of Tabaristan and Afshin was asked
whether he knew him. He said "No."

Mazyar was asked if he knew Afshin.

Then they told him that this was Mazyar.

"Yes, I know him now."

"Did you ever have correspondence with him? No."

Then turning to the Marzban they asked, "Did he ever write to you?"

"Yes," said Mazyar, "His brother Khash used to write to my brother
Quhyar to the effect that this splendid religion of theirs will have
help from nobody except himself, Quhyar and Babak."

[In the sequel Tabari relates how when Afshin's house was searched,
after he was starved to death, among other incriminating articles a book
was discovered sumptuously bound and bedecked with gems which related,
to the old faith of Iran.]



[The Arabs have long been credited with maintaining learning and
civilisation in general when Europe was slumbering in its dark ages.
History as a science was rarely known even to the gifted Hindus. The
Arabs cultivated it with peculiar enthusiasm. Wustenfeld has collected
the lives of 590 historians, the first of whom died in the year 50, and
the last was born in 1061 A.H. But it is now proved beyond all doubt
that many of these writers were Persians who employed the Arabic
language and that the art of Arab annalists had its root in the archives
of the Sasanians. We owe this discovery to Goldziher and Von Kremmer in
the first instance, and to Brockelmann, Browne, Blochet and Huart who
have done ample justice to the Iranian element in Arab culture. One of
the best of these histories is by Tabari. Noeldeke translated in 1879,
the portion relating to the Sasanians into German, and added footnotes
to his translation, which are a mine of information on pre-Moslem
Persia. The introduction which he wrote to his translation is equally
valuable especially for the light it throws on the sources of Firdausi.
The following is a translation of that German introduction by Noeldeke.

Tabari was a most prolific author and is reported to have written daily
forty sheets for forty years. He was of pure Iranian descent G.K.N.]

[Sidenote: Tabari's method.]

Abu Jafar Muhammed bin Jarir born in the winter of 839 at Amul not far
from the Caspian Sea in the Persian Province of Tabaristan, hence called
Tabari, and who died in Baghdad on the 17th February 923, wrote many,
partly very large, works in the Arabic language, among them an extremely
voluminous chronicle, which reaches from the creation down to nearly the
close of his life. Tabari, mainly occupied with theological tradition,
was no man of original research or of historical acumen even in the
sense applied to a few other Persian scholars in those centuries. His
annals are a compilation, a mass of rich material put together with
extraordinary industry. He does not work into unity the various versions
in his divergent sources, but simply brings them up in order one after
another. But it is just this circumstance which considerably enhances in
our eyes the value of the work; for in this way the older reports
themselves are preserved more faithfully than if the chronicler had
laboured to reconcile them one with the other.

[Sidenote: Abounds in extracts from Arab and Iranian predecessors, but
does not mention his sources.]

The principal value of Tabari's compilation consists in the extremely
exhaustive presentation of the history of Islam from the first
appearance of the Prophet; no other Arabic work in this respect can
compare with his. The pre-Islamic history comprises, may be, a twentieth
portion of the whole work and gives a very groat deal of what we would
rather be without. Of the highest moment, however, is the tolerably
detailed section on the history of the Sasanides and their times
embodied in it, and whose German translation forms the text of our book.
This section goes back partly to good Arabic records and mostly, at
least mediately, to very important ancient Persian sources. But the
stories from the mythological and historical traditions which appear
scattered in Tabari in proceeding sections have a cognate origin. If the
criticism of the sources is here very much facilitated on the one hand,
because these orientals where they excerpt love to adhere, as far as
possible, to the letter of their models or sources, it is on the other,
rendered difficult because Tabari does not mention his immediate
authorities. Only in reports of theological interest, to which the whole
of the history of the growth of Islam belongs, he proceeds to indicate
his sources with precision; otherwise he cites at the best an old
authority come down to him only obliquely, and in most cases none at
all. Throughout the Persian history he never names an authority, barring
Hisham, whom he quotes here and there and who was an acknowledged
authority in another province of tradition.

[Sidenote: Story of Persia based on indigenous original work.]

[Sidenote: Occasional identity of Firdausi and Tabari.]

The story of Persia from the first mythical Kings to the last of the
Sasanides exhibits in Tabari, as in allied Arabic works, a certain
similarity of conception and presentation which leads to the assumption
of an indigenous original work at least respecting a very large portion.
Now the Shahnameh of the great poet Firdausi, a national epic of the
kind which no other people possess, while it on one hand, apart from the
poetic license indulged in by Firdausi, contains much that is either not
found at all or is essentially differently related in Arab writers; on
the other, considerably accords with those Arab annalists in the order,
in the whole structure, and in the details of the narrative. Indeed the
poet often reproduces almost the identical phraseology of the historian.
But now since according to both tradition and internal grounds
Firdausi's bases were not Arabic books, the coincidence must be
explained from a common ultimate source. The original work has been
reflected to us in Tabari and other Arabs as well as Firdausi through a
series of intermediate texts. To judge by the express statements and
suggestions as also by various features in style and phraseology and
further by all that we are aware of touching the circumstances of the
literature we can say with certainty that, that original work like all
other Persian narrative productions of the Sasanides and of the period
of Arab conquest was composed in the written, language of this period,
the Pahlavi. The most important connected presentment of Persian history
in Pahlavi to which our reports go back is no doubt the _Khoday Nameh,
i.e.,_ the "Book of Lords" a title which answers to the subsequent Shah
Nameh or "Book of Kings."

Hamza mentions that name. The prose introduction to Ferdausi says that
the "Book of Kings" was written first of all at the instance of Khushrau
I Anoshirwan, but that the complete story was compiled only under
Yazdegerd III by the Dihkan Danishwar. This work which it would not be
too bold to identify with the _Koday Nameh_ began with the primeval
king, Gayomarth, and reached down to the termination of the reign of
Khushrau II, surnamed Parwez. Although this introduction to Ferdausi
dates but from the fifteenth century, and as for details is disfigured
by inaccuracies and fictions, I attach weight to what it indicates
respecting the time of its composition. In fact the concord of the
narrative in the various sources reaches down to the death of Parwez and
then abruptly ceases; while there are no vestiges to demonstrate that
the completion of the original work was brought about subsequent to the
victory of the Arabs. And the legitimistic nature of the story Is
especially in keeping with the times when usurpation and insurrections
of all sorts had run their course, and when the people looked forward
with, the inauguration of the rule of the youthful grandson, of Parwez,
who was crowned at the sacred place where the dynasty took its rise, to
an era of prosperity to the ancient monarchy,--a hope which was
fearfully crushed with the loss of the battle of Kadisiya towards the
close of 637. Again the replies made by the imprisoned king which have
been reproduced in different sources suit the times of the Yezegerd who
descended from Khusrau II and not Sheroe, Khusrau's brilliant career
despite its shady side strongly contrasted with the period ushered in by
the patricide. A small piece of writing which depicts the first stormy
years of Khusrau's domination in a romantic fashion seems to have arisen
about the same time.

I am less certain about the name Danishwar. It was probably an adjective
signifying "possessed of knowledge." It was easy for anyone who knew
from Firdausi that the landed nobility called the Dihkan constituted the
peculiar custodians of national lore to name a "learned Dihkan" as the
collector of the stones of kings.

The compilation prepared at the time had undoubtedly drawn upon written
documents without which It would have been impossible to give minute
particulars of a long by-gone past. Besides the brief notices
communicated by the Syrian Sergius to Agathias from the _Basilika
apomnemoneiumata_ are in the main in unison with our Arabo-Persian
stories. Thus then in Khushro's time there existed a general survey of
the history of Persia more or less in an official version. But otherwise
there is no need to lay stress on the mention of Khushrau here, for all
manner of things beneficial and good are ascribed to this king.

[Sidenote: Nature of the Khoday Nameh.]

The book of kings contains, as we said, the story of Persia from the
creation of the world to the fall of the last purely national
domination. It made no distinction between wholly mythical,
semi-fabulous, and fully historical dynasts, so that the Arabs and
Persians who drew upon it never suspected that e.g., Hoshang and Rustam
are not such historical persons as Shahpur I and Bahram Chobin. But in
the material itself we notice a conspicuous difference. The mythical
tales which in their crude nascent forms were already there at the
period of the Avesta were in course of time richly developed and under
the Sasanides were no doubt universally known. To these were joined
ecclesiastical speculation and traditions concerning the genesis of the
world, civilisation and the legislation of Zoroaster. There were also
several genealogical trees. In all these at the most a few proper names
were historical. Of the empires of the Medes and of Persians proper this
tradition had no knowledge. It is doubtful if it contained even quite a
feeble reflex of the last days of the Achaeminides. On to this ancient
autochthonous tradition was immediately joined the story of the last
Darius and Alexander emanating from a foreign source, the Greek romance
of Alexander. Not more than a few names was all that was preserved of
the long period covering the Macedonian and the Parthian supremacy. With
the Sasanides the national reminiscences became clearer. Round the
founder of the dynasty were accreted, on the one hand, legends wholly
fabulous and on the other, such as embodied excellent historical data.
But the latter seem to be inadequately represented in the main work, the
Khodayname. Again very few particulars were known of the reigns of the
succeeding sovereigns down to Yezdegerd I. In the chapters which
correspond to those of the old Book of Kings just this want of actual
information, it seems, the compilers strove to veil behind rhetorical
accounts of scenes of homage done to the rulers, imperial speeches from
the throne, etc. For the following ages on there was, in general, good,
partly very authentic information. But this entire presentment did not
concern itself solely with veracity. The Iranians who from very remote
antiquity extravagantly lauded truth, had in reality never any great
sense of it. The _Khoday Nameh_ and kindred productions were unfairly
biassed and rhetorical. The ornamental and figurative ingredients are
indicated even by the Arabic reproductions, though the latter are
greatly condensed. A classic testimony to it has been kindly
communicated to me by Baron Von Rosen which is a passage from a
Petersberg manuscript of _Albayan Wattabyin_ of Jahiz in which the
Shuubiya or the Persians, who, though Muslims placed their nation above
the Arabs say: "And he who is interested in reason, fine culture,
knowledge of ranks, examples and penalties, in elegant expressions and
superlative thoughts, let him cast a glance at the _History (more
properly the Vitae) of Kings."_ History of the Kings, _Siyar-ul Muluk_,
is the title of the Arabic rendering of the Book of Kings in Pahlavi.
Compare likewise Hamza's remarks on the works on Persian history. I have
laboured to show the partiality of the Persian tradition in the
footnotes. The narrative is conceived in a monarchical and legitimistic
spirit, but equally all along from the view point of the superior
nobility and the clergy. Add to this the exertions to cry up as much as
possible the glory of Persia which sometimes produces a strange effect.
Moreover, there must have been no lack of contradictions as to facts as
well as respecting estimates of personal character which was inevitable
owing to the employment of varying sources. Nevertheless a work like
this written under the Sasanides and familiar with the state of things
obtaining in the empire and more or less of an official nature, must
have been an admirable fount of history. There was hardly ever a better
presentment of the story of this house than the _Khoday-Nameh_.

[I have translated the entire passage from the since printed text. See
p. 170.--G.K.N.]

Since, barring the small book treating of Ardeshir's adventures, no
original Pahlavi document in the domain of historical or romantic
literature has descended to us and even the Arabic recensions made
directly from the original general history in Pahlavi have perished, we
are altogether left in uncertainty touching many most important points.
We cannot, for instance, ascertain whether alongside of the
_Khoday-Nameh_ there existed also other general continuous narrations or
whether the deviations, which are for the most part trifling, in some
cases of great moment, already existed in the Pahlavi work or are
traceable to various recensions of that book. It would not be rash, to
assume that some copies of the work contained additional matter taken
from other Pahlavi books like the Romance of Bahram. Bahram the high
priest of the city of Shapur collected, according to Hamza, more than 20
manuscripts of the _Khoday-Nameh_ and from their divergence made out
another independent recension. Musa Ibn Isa Kesravi complains of the
variants in the copies of the work; the latter author who speaks of
defects in translation has in view only the Arabic redactions. The text,
however, of Tabari, at all events and more so a comparison of Tabari and
other Arabs with one another and with Firdausi exhibits that entire
sections of the History of Kings were already in the Pahlavi original in
essentially different shapes. Otherwise, it would not be possible, for
instance, that where Tabari offers two different versions, one should
harmonise with Eutychius and Ibn Kotaiba (derived from the translation
of Ibn Mukaffa) and the other should agree with the Arab Yakubi and
often with Firdausi, who goes back to the Pahlavi text not directly but
mediately through compositions in modern Persian. It is very important
for a knowledge of the history that thus we have at our command all
manner of dissonant reports about the Sasanide epoch. But we have to
observe all the same that the character and the tendency of the several
versions are almost all along consistent and further more that often we
have more recensions than one which differ but little and which have one
and the same ground-work or prototype. The question whether this
difference is older or younger than the _Khoday-Nameh_ has more literary
than historical significance.

[Sidenote: Translation of _Khoday-Nameh_ into Arabic. Its general
fidelity to the original.]

[Sidenote: The Arabic translation may be pieced together from various

We should decide all this with much more certainty did we possess but
one direct rendering made from the Pahlavi into Arabic. Above all we
have to deplore the loss of Ibn Mukaffa's history of Persian Kings which
is always assigned the first place among translations of the Persian
Book of Kings by Hamza and other authorities. This distinguished man who
only late in life exchanged the faith of his forbears for that of Islam,
and who never professed the latter with over much zeal, translated a
series of Pahlavi writings into Arabic including the _Khoday-Nameh_. He
was a courtier, and passed for a good Arabic poet and one of the best
rhetorical writers of his time. The famous Wazir Ibn Mukla counted him
among "the ten most eloquent men." He must consequently have striven to
suit his rendering of the book of Persian kings to the taste of his
contemporaries. But we have no sufficient grounds to assume that he
introduced arbitrary and material alterations into his translations or
even that he greatly elaborated the rhetorical passages of the original
text or invested them with an altogether different garb. Such a
suspicion is contradicted by the coincidences with other sources which,
like Firdausi, are independent of him. There is little probability of
Ibn Mukaffa's work being again brought to light in its entirety. But on
the other hand, it will indeed be possible to gather together in course
of time more and more stray passages belonging to the book; though it is
to be feared, unfortunately that these fragments will prove more to be
preserved as efforts of rhetoric than because of their intrinsic value.
A few extracts of this nature we find in Ibn Kotaiba's _Oyun-al Akhbar_.
Among these citations which I owe to the goodness of Rosen, there is one
tolerably long on the death of Peroz. Now the same fragment, little
curtailed, is in the chronicle of Said bin Batrik or Eutychius, the
patriarch of Alexandria. We should, therefore, be inclined from the
first to derive other information in Eutychius on the Sasanides from Ibn
Mukaffa. And our predisposition is supported by the circumstance that
the history of the dynasty as given in a manual by the same Ibn Kotaiba
and which is styled _Kitab al Maarif_, brief as it is, betrays as in the
instance of the reign of Peroz, all through such an harmony with
Eutychius that here two independent authors must necessarily have drawn
upon one and the same original; and that original source can be no other
than the production of Ibn Mukaffa. The abstract in Eutychius is very
unequal being in some parts exhaustive, in others much abridged. The
narrations as preserved in Tabari, which correspond to the statements in
Eutychius and Ibn Kotaiba and which consequently go back to Ibn Mukaffa,
are of a similar nature though Tabari gives in addition other parallel
reports. Tabari, however, did not himself use Ibn Mukaffa's work, but
for the History of Persia, among other authorities, employed by
preference a younger work which represented another version together
with excerts from the former. This can be inferred from the fact that
the anonymous Codex Sprengers 30, which and Tabari are mutually
independent, shows quite the same combination of two main sources and so
far as the section in question goes, can be utilised and treated as a
new manuscript of Tabari. Both have relied almost to the letter upon the
presentment which emanated partly from Ibn Mukaffa and partly from
another translator with the only difference that the anonymous writer is
oftener more concise than Tabari. Again the version which does not
proceed from Ibn Mukaffa is for the most part in accord with the epitome
of the story of the Sasanides in the introduction to Yakubi's History of
the Abbasides; there the excellent author occasionally subjoins
extraneous information. More often than not this presentment is in touch
with Ferdausi. I am unable to aver from whom has originated this other
recension of the story of the Sasanides. We know indeed the names of a
number of persons who redacted the History of Persia, originally in
Pahlavi, for Arab readers. But though we can collect a few notices of
some of the authors mentioned, we know nothing in particular about them
and are completely in the dark about the special nature of their work.
All that we can postulate as established is that they wrote posterior to
Ibn Mukaffa. The latter is always mentioned in the first place. Muhammad
bin Jahm who is regularly cited next after him and bears the surname of
Bermaki, was a client of the Barmecides, who came to power a long while
after the death of Ibn Mukaffa. Ifc may be supposed that they all laid
under contribution the production of their celebrated predecessor. How
they individually set about their work, whether perhaps some of them
tapped non-Persian tradition; also, how far one or other of them
utilized the novels of which there were probably many in Pahlavi--this
we are no longer in a position to determine. Again this too remains a
mystery whence Tabari came by most of the accounts touching the
Persians, which are conspicuous by their absence in the anonymous Codex.
To clear this whole ground it would appear to be expedient in the first
place to set apart all that for which Ibn Mukaffa directly or indirectly
is responsible. This I have done in the footnotes but an advance is
possible in this direction. On the other hand, we must keep Ferdausi
steadily before our eyes. Whatever in Tabari and other Chroniclers does
not issue from Ibn Mukaffa and is not represented in Ferdausi likewise
merits special study.

[Sidenote: Direct Sources of Ferdausi.]

[Sidenote: The Persian prose Shahname was not derived from Arabic but

A superficial reading of Firdausi would engender the view that he
obtained his material partly from Pahlavi books direct and partly from
the oral communication of competent renconteurs. That this is only a
deceptive illusion we conclude at once from his strong resemblance not
only in the main features but also in the details and the order, with
Arab writers some of whom were much anterior to him. Firdausi positively
knew no Pahlavi and as for Arabic he knew next to nothing. He did employ
written sources preponderatingly if not exclusively and these were in
modern Persian. His principal authority was, according to the
introduction mentioned above, a translation of the old Book of Kings
which was prepared by Abu Mansur bin Abdar Razzak bin Abdullah bin
Ferrukh. So far our information is surely trustworthy. For, Biruni
testifies to a Shahname by Abu Mansur bin Abdar Razzak of Tus. According
to the introduction, this man was a minister of Yakub bin Laith Saffar,
who was commissioned with the work which he accomplished through a
certain Sund bin Mansur Mamari with the help of four competent people
from Khorasan and Sagistan in 360 A.H. The chronological impossibility
involved in the figure is removed by Mohl who emends it to 260. Yakub
ibn Laith got a foothold in Khorasan in 253 A.H. and reigned till 265.
Still this report involves much that is incorrect. That the uncouth
warrior Yakub who was perpetually camping in the battle fields should
have possessed a sense for such a literary undertaking is extremely
improbable, though not altogether inconceivable. May be, he was actuated
by a political design, but Abu Mansur bin Abdar Razzak did not live
under Yakub but flourished two or three generations later. For he is
either a brother of Muhammad bin Abdar Razzak of Tus or Muhammad
himself. The first surmise has the weight of greater likelihood in that
the Strasburg manuscript calls him once Abu Mansur Ahmed and Muhammad
had in fact a brother named Ahmed who participated in his political
manouvres. Muhammad was the lord of Tus. We hear much about him--how he
in the years A.D. 945-960 stood up now for the Samanides, his proper
overlords, now for their powerful antagonist Ruknaddin, the Buide, whose
capital lay in dangerous proximity to his territory. In those days when
an enthusiasm for Modern Persian was strongly awakened the enterprize
may most appropriately have been taken in hand. Immediately after the
Princes of Khorasan planned to cast this prose work into poetry; and
this task was first inaugurated by Dakiki for the Samanides and brought
to conclusion by Ferdausi of Tus, countryman of Abu Mansur bin Abdar
Razzak, for Mahamud of Ghazna. The name of the four people who executed
the work for the son of Abdar Razzak are all genuinely Persian; which
indicates that they were all adherents of the ancient religion and that
they had actully a Pahlavi original before them. To transfer an Arabic
version into Modern Persian would not have required four men. Moreover,
Firdausi's poem occasionally betrays that his sources had not flowed to
him through Arabic. Of those men one only is met with again, Shahzan son
of Barzin. He is mentioned by Firdausi at the head of his account of the
genesis of KALILA WA DIMNA: "Listen to what Shahzan, son of Barzin has
said when he revealed the secret." Because this section is an episode
which assuredly did not appear in the KHODAY-NAMEH, we may conclude that
the prose Shahname on which this Shahzan collaborated, embodied all
manner of similar episodes, though Firdausi may have taken several from
elsewhere. It is an interesting circumstance that the potentate who had
this work prepared by Abu Mansur bin Abdar Razzak, had inserted--so
Biruni tell us--a fictitious genealogical tree in it which led up his
ancestors to Minochihr. Such things were in those times very common
among new men of Persian origin who attained power. We are compensated
for the loss of this prose work by at least the epos of Ferdausi which
has issued from it.

[Sidenote: Dinawari.]

As the most important of extant Arabic representations of the
_Khoday-Nameh_ and the cognate literature we must regard at any rate
Tabari I have already touched upon Eutychius, Ibn Kotaiba, and Yakubi.
Another old chronicler Abu Hanifa Ahmed bin Daud Dinawari greatly
accords with Tabari but presents also much that is peculiar to himself.
A closer examination would no doubt reveal that he draws considerably
upon romances directly or indirectly and that he is not particularly
accurate. Tabari reproduces the conflicting versions of the same
incident separately one after another; Dinawari works them up into a
single unified narrative.

[Sidenote: Hamza.]

The small book which Hamza Ispahani wrote in 961, contains in brief much
independent information on the Sasanides. Hamza treats his materials in
a spirit of much more freedom and independence than Tabari, but to us
the compiling process of Tabari is far more convenient.

[Sidenote: Masudi.]

Masudi in his "Meadows of Gold" affords us many a supplement to Tabari's
narratives derived from reliable Persian sources. But Masudi works very
unequally, accepts a good deal that is suspicious provided only it is
entertaining, and as regards detail he is by no means over exact.

As an historical authority, the Persian redaction of Tabari, so
remarkable in many of its aspects, and achieved by Muhammad Belami or by
others under his guidance, has but little value. I designate this work
as "Persian Tabari" and have used it in the splendid Gotha manuscript
and in Zotenberg's French translation. I have also consulted the Turkish
version of Belami in a Gotha Manuscript.

[Sidenote: Tabari more valuable than Firdausi.]

All these writers and others present us collectively a tolerably rich
and vivid portrait of Persian tradition of the Sasanide times. But the
best comprehensive statement of the story of the Sasanides on the basis
of this tradition is furnished us by Tabari, all his shortcomings
notwithstanding and despite the pre-eminence which Firdausi's poem
possesses as such.

[Sidenote: Ibn Kelbi.]

But in his narrative of this period Tabari had laid under contribution
reports which were not of Persian origin. For the history of the Arab
princes of Hira, which is so intimately related to that of the Persian
empire, Tabari's chief authority was Hisham bin Muhammad called Ibn
Kelbi a man who, like his father Muhammad bin Saib Kelbi before him, has
rendered, however often modern criticism may take exception to the
unscientific system of both the writers, the greatest service in
connection with the collection of the scattered information on the
history of ancient Arabs. We know of a few of the numerous writings,
large and small, of Ibn Kelbi which are enumerated for us in the
_Fihrist_ and which probably are at the root of Tabari's chapters. It is
quite possible that Tabari borrows many of the secondary sources of Ibn
Kelbi. It is surprising that the latter is cited as an authority on the
Persian history itself, on the reigns of Ardeshir, Peroz, Khosrau I,
Harmizd IV, Khosrau II, and Yazdegerd III. We are not cognisant of any
work of his on the History of Persia. But it may be conjectured that
occasionally in his history of Arabia he supplied minuter details
touching contemporary Persia. An amanuensis of his, Jabala bin Salim, is
noticed in the _Fihrist_ as one of the translators from Persian. Ho
provided his master with material from Pahlavi books.

For the History of the Arabs of that period Tabari has used a variety of
other sources, most prominent among them being Muhammad Ibn Ishak who is
better known as the biographer of the prophet. In this section of
Tabari's great work mediately or immediately a large amount of diverse
information has been brought together.

It is certainly desirable and to be hoped that the criticism of the
sources in this domain would make substantial progress. But the point of
greatest moment even here is to test every incident or piece of
information according to its origin and credibility as I have
endeavoured to do in the footnotes.



Christensen, by the following reasoning, comes to the conclusion, that
it was written somewhere between 557 and 570.

Among the sources of our knowledge of the Sasanian institutions, one of
the most important is the letter of Tansar to the king of Tabaristan
published and translated by Darmesteter in the _Journal Asiatique_
(1894). The information which it gives on points where we can verify it
is so exact that we cannot doubt that the letter was composed in the
time of the Sasanians. On the other hand, on the first reading of the
epistle I formed the impression that it was a literary fiction dating
from the time of Khusro when the tradition made of Ardeshir the model of
political sagacity and the founder of the entire organisation of the
empire. The letter impressed me as a historical, theological, political
and moral dissertation which in the shape of a correspondence between
the grand Herbed Tansar and the king of Tabaristan, ill-informed
regarding the new state of affairs and hesitating to submit himself to
Ardeshir, was calculated to instruct contemporaries. It, therefore, fits
in with the entire literature of the _Andarz_ type, which was developed
under Khusro and the object of it was the moral instruction of the
people. A more minute examination has confirmed me in this view and now
I think I am able to affirm positively that the letter was composed
under Khusro I. Tansar relates that Ardeshir softened the penalties for
crimes against the religion. Formerly, "they used to put to death
without hesitation those who set aside the religion of the State. But
Ardeshir has directed that the accused shall be arrested and shall be
catechised during a year and only if that proves of no effect he shall
be killed." As a matter of fact, the rigorous ordinance which awarded
the punishment of death for apostacy could not have existed before
Parsism became with Ardeshir the State religion. The relaxation of
punishment, on the other hand, dates from a much later period, when the
standpoint of greater humanity began to be prevalent and when it was
attempted to give greater authority to these views by attributing them
to the celebrated founder of the dynasty. And we can say the same thing
with reference to the less severe punishment for crimes committed
against the State and in respect of other things mentioned in the
letter. Besides, the tolerance in matters religious and the humanity of
Khusro I are well-known.

Now let us look at the incident of succession. According to the letter
Ardeshir did not like to choose his successor lest the latter should
wish for his death. So, he arranged for the succession in the following
manner. The king only left in his royal letters a few counsels or
instructions to the grand _Mobed_, the commander-in-chief, and the
principal secretary, and after the decease of the king the latter were
to proceed to elect a successor from among the royal princes. If they
all were not of the same mind the choice should rest with the grand
_mobed_ alone. But Aideshir had made a formal notes that he was not
going to establish a president thereby, and that "in another age a
manner of looking at things different from ours may appear the proper
one." In the first place such an arrangement accords ill with the nature
of a statesmen like Ardeshir, for we know from Tabari who follows the
official chronicle of the times of the Sasanians, that Ardeshir as well
as Shapur I and II themselves chose their respective successors. But in
the times between Ardeshir II and Kawadh the election of the king was
generally in the hands of the noblemen, and the system mentioned by
Tansar may well have suited this period and been in harmony with the
singular expression ascribed to Ardeshir that the system in question was
not a definite one, and that in other periods, other manners might be
more convenient. It seems to us that the letter of Tansar was composed
at a period when the memory of the system of Ardeshir was still living
although it had already been abolished. In other words, it was the time
when the kings had gained the power to nominate their successors during
their life-time, which brings us to the period between Kawadh and Hormum

The letter makes Ardeshir say "None but the subject kings who do not
belong to our House can assume the title of king barring the wardens of
the marches of the territory of the Allans and the districts in the west
and of Khwarzm." By the oppression 'the warden of the matches' we must
understand no doubt the _marzbans_ of the countries established by

Finally, the geographical notices permit us to determine in a more exact
fashion the time of the origin of the letter.... The letter was
consequently, composed after the march of Khusro I towards the East by
the destruction of the Hephthahtes, but before the capture of Yemen.
that is to say, between 557-570.

Christensen finally notes that Marquart has arrived at the same
conclusion, by another way, namely, that the letter is a fiction of the
time of Khusro I. (See _Eranshahr_ page 30, note 2).


_Some Arabic authors and the Iranian material they preserve._


[_Note,_--Brockelmann's edition of the _Uyunal Akhbar_ is not accessible
to me in India. I have carefully examined the first volume of the Cairo
Edition and the following will show the wealth of Iranian material
comprised in the book.--G.K.N.]

When the Kisra died this was reported to the Prophet who inquired who
was going to succeed the dead emperor and when he was told his daughter,
the princess Buran, the Prophet declared that the nation could not
prosper inasmuch as its affairs depended upon a woman. (p. 11).

[Sidenote: Next-of-kin marriage.]

I have read in the _Book of the Persians_ an epistle written by
Ardeshir, son of Babak to his subjects declaring that the ecclesiastical
authorities were the upholders of the religion and that the warriors
were the bearers of the casque and literature, and were ornaments of the
empire and that the agriculturists were pillars of the country. (p. 15).
[In the course of the epistle there is a reference to marriage of next
of kin, the king exhorting his subjects to _tazauwa-ju-fil qarabayn_.]

[Sidenote: _Kitab Ain_ or the Pahlavi _Ain-nameh._]

[Sidenote: Anushirwan's rule.]

I have read in the _Ain_ that a king of Persia said in his address to
his people: "I am only the ruler of people's bodies, not their minds;
and I govern with justice, not according to my pleasure; and I safeguard
people's property, not their secrets." Furthermore, the Persians say the
most efficient of rulers is he who draws the bodies of his subjects to
fealty to him through their hearts. When Anushirwan appointed a person
to an office he directed his secretary to leave out in the appointment
order a space of four lines so that he may fill it up with his own hand,
and when the appointment order was brought to him he would write in it
"govern the good people by love, and for the common people mix liberty
with awe and govern the proletariat with levity." (p. 15).

And it is said in the _Book of the Persians_ that the hearts of the
people are the treasuries of the king, so that whatever is put there
should be made known to him. (p 17).

[Sidenote: The _Taj._]

And I have read in the _Taj_; Said Aberwez to his son Shiruya who had
put him into prison, [and here follow some views relating to the
treatment of soldiers.]

And in one of the _Books of the Persians_ it is stated that Ardeshir
said to his son, "Oh, my son, the empire and the religion are two
brothers which cannot do the one without the other. For the religion is
the foundation and the empire is the guardian and whatever has no
foundation falls and whatever has no guardian to look after it goes to
waste" [And then proceeds to advise him as to the treatment of the
nobles, warriors, the clergy, etc. Then are described the five qualities
essential in a man occupying a post in the imperial government]

And it is said in the _Taj_ that Aberwez wrote to his son Shiruya from
his prison.... (p. 20)

And I have read in the letter ... Aberwez wrote to his son Shiruya, [and
here follow instructions regarding the three qualifications necessary in
a revenue officer.] (p. 21)

[Sidenote: The _Taj._]

I have read in the _Taj_ that one of the kings of Persia took counsel
with his _Wazirs,_ [and here follows a discussion about the necessity of
confiding one's secret to one man only and not more.] (p. 25)

[Sidenote: Epistle of Aberwez.]

I have read in the Epistle of Aberwez to his son Shiruya who was
imprisoned by him,[here follows the advisability of taking counsel with
a certain class of people.] (p. 30).

[Sidenote: Marzbans.]

One of the kings of Persia, when he consulted the Marzbans and they did
not give their opinion in a proper way, summoned those who were
entrusted with provisioning the Marzbans and punished them. The latter
complained that the error was on the part of the Marzbans whereas the
punishment was awarded to them and the king replied that was so, and
that the Marzbans would not have committed the error unless their minds
were not dependent upon their food.

[Sidenote: Buzurjamaher.]

[Sidenote: Books of the Persians.]

[Sidenote: Ideal Persian Secretary]

Says Buzurjamaher, "When you are in doubt as to the propriety of doing
one of two things then look out for the one which is nearest to your
desires and relinquish it." (p. 23). And it is said in the _Books of the
Persians_, [and here follows one of the most frequently repeated
injunctions about the strict guarding of one's secrets.] (p. 40.) The


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