The Bundahishn

Knowledge from the Zand

1897 | 25,140 words

A collection of texts related to Zoroastrian cosmogony and cosmology. The contents focuses on the Zoroastrianism's creation myth, and the first battles of 'Ahura Mazda' and 'Angra Mainyu'. Most of the chapters of the compendium date to the 8th and 9th centuries. The Bundahishn ("Creation"), or Knowledge from the Zand. Translated by E. W...

Chapter XIX - Regarding Fabulous Creatures

Regarding the three-legged ass they say, that it stands amid the wide-formed ocean, and its feet are three, eyes six, mouths nine, ears two, and horn one, body white, food spiritual, and it is righteous. And two of its six eyes are in the position of eyes, two on the top of the head, and two in the position of the hump; with the sharpness of those six eyes it overcomes and destroys. Of the nine mouths three are in the head, three in the hump, and three in the inner part of the flanks; and each mouth is about the size of a cottage, and if is itself as large as Mount Alvand. Each one of the three feet, when it is placed on the ground, is as much as a flock (gird) of a thousand sheep comes under when they repose together; and each pastern is so great in its circuit that a thousand men with a thousand horses may pass inside. As for the two ears it is Mazendaran which they will encompass. The one horn is as it were of gold and hollow, and a thousand branch horns have grown upon it, some befitting a camel, some befitting a horse, some befitting an ox, some befitting an ass, both great and small. With that horn it will vanquish and dissipate all the vile corruption due to the efforts of noxious creatures.

When that ass shall hold its neck in the ocean. its ears will terrify (asahmed), and all the water of the wide-formed ocean will shake with agitation, and the side of Ganavad will tremble (shivaned). When it utters a cry all female water-creatures, of the creatures of Ohrmazd, will become pregnant; and all pregnant noxious water-creatures, when they hear that cry, will cast their young. When it stales in the ocean all the sea-water will become purified, which is in the seven regions of the earth -- it is even on that account when all asses which come into water stale in the water -- as it says thus:

'If, O three-legged ass! you were not created for the water, all the water in the sea would have perished. from the contamination which the poison of the evil spirit has brought into its water, through the death of the creatures of Ohrmazd.'

Tishtar seizes the water more completely from the ocean with the assistance of the three-legged ass. Of ambergris also (ambar-ich) it is declared, that it is the dung of the three-legged ass; for if it has much spirit food, then also the moisture of the liquid nourishment goes through the veins pertaining to the body into the urine, and the dung is cast away.

Of the ox Hadhayosh, which they call Sarsaok, it says, that in the original creation men passed from region to region upon it, and in the renovation of the universe they prepare Hush (the beverage producing immortality) from it. It is said, that life is in the hand of that foremost man, at the end of his years, who has constructed the most defenses around this earth, until the renovation of the universe is requisite.

Regarding the bird Chamrosh it says, that it is on the summit of Mount Alburz; and every three years many come from the non-Iranian districts for booty (gird), by going to bring damage (ziyan) on the Iranian districts, and to effect the devastation of the world; then the angel Burj, having come up from the low country of Lake Arag, arouses that very bird Chamrosh, and it flies upon the loftiest of all the lofty mountains, and picks up all those non-Iranian districts as a bird does corn.

Regarding Karshipt they say, that it knew how to speak words, and brought the religion to the enclosure which Yim [Jamshed] made, and circulated it; there they utter the Avesta in the language of birds.

Regarding the ox-fish they say, that it exists in all seas; when it utters a cry all fish become pregnant, and all noxious water-creatures cast their young.

The griffin bird, which is a bat, is noticed (kard) twice in another chapter (baba).

Regarding the bird Ashozusht, which is the bird Zobara-vahman and also the bird Shok, they say that it has given an Avesta with its tongue; when it speaks the demons tremble at it and take nothing away there; a nail-paring, when it is not prayed over (afsud), the demons and wizards seize, and like an arrow it shoots at and kills that bird. On this account the bird seizes and devours a nail-paring when it is prayed over, so that the demons may not control its use; when it is not prayed over it does not devour it, and the demons are able to commit an offense with it.

Also other beasts and birds are created all in opposition to noxious creatures, as it says, that when the birds and beasts are all in opposition to noxious creatures and wizards, &c. This, too, it says, that of all precious birds the crow (valagh) is the most precious. Regarding the white falcon it says, that it kills the serpent with wings. The magpie (kaskinak) bird kills the locust, and is created in opposition to it. The Kahrkas, dwelling in decay, which is the vulture, is created for devouring dead matter (nasai); so also are the crow (valak) and the mountain kite.

The mountain ox, the mountain goat, the deer, the wild ass, and other beasts devour all snakes. So also, of other animals, dogs are created in opposition to the wolf species, and for securing the protection of sheep; the fox is created in opposition to the demon Khava; the ichneumon is created in opposition to the venomous snake (garzhak) and other noxious creatures in burrows; so also the great musk-animal is created in opposition to ravenous intestinal worms (kaduk-danak garzhak). The hedgehog is created in opposition to the ant which carries off grain, as it says, that the hedgehog, every time that it voids urine into an ant's nest, will destroy a thousand ants; when the grain-carrier travels over the earth it produces a hollow track; when the hedgehog travels over it the track goes away from it, and it becomes level. The water-beaver is created in opposition to the demon which is in the water. The conclusion is this, that, of all beasts and birds and fishes, every one is created in opposition to some noxious creature.

Regarding the vulture (karkas) it says, that, even from his highest flight, he sees when flesh the size of a fist is on the ground; and the scent of musk is created under his wing, so that if, in devouring dead matter, the stench of the dead matter comes out from it, he puts his head back under the wing and is comfortable again. Regarding the Arab horse they say, that if, in a dark night, a single hair occurs on the ground, he sees it.

The cock is created in opposition to demons and wizards, cooperating with the dog; as it says in revelation, that, of the creatures of the world, those which are cooperating with Srosh, in destroying the fiends, are the cock and the dog. This, too, it says, that it would not have been managed if I had not created the shepherd's dog, which is the Pasush-haurva, and the house watch-dog, the Vish-haurva; for it says in revelation, that the dog is a destroyer of such a fiend as covetousness among those which are in the nature (aitih) of man and of animals. Moreover it says, that, inasmuch as it will destroy all the disobedient, when it barks it will destroy pain; and its flesh and fat are remedies for driving away decay and pain from men.

Ohrmazd created nothing useless whatever, for all these (kola ae) are created for advantage; when one does not understand the reason of them, it is necessary to ask the Dastur ('high-priest'), for his five dispositions (khuk) are created in this way that he may continually destroy the fiend (or deceit).

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