(Judgments of the Spirit of Wisdom), a Zoroastrian Pahlavi book in sixty-three chapters (a preamble and sixty-two ques­tions and answers).


DĀDESTĀN Ī MĒNŌG Ī XRAD (Judgments of the Spirit of Wisdom), a Zoroastrian Pahlavi book in sixty-three chapters (a preamble and sixty-two ques­tions and answers), in which a symbolic character called Dānāg (lit., “knowing, wise”) poses questions to the personified Spirit of Wisdom (Mēnōg ī xrad), who is extolled in the preamble and identified in two places (2.95, 57.4) with innate wisdom (āsn xrad). The book, like most Pahlavi books, is based on oral tradition and has no known author. According to the preamble, Dānāg, searching for truth, traveled to many countries, associated himself with many savants, and learned about various opinions and beliefs. When he discov­ered the virtue of xrad (1.51) the Spirit of Wisdom appeared to him to answer his questions. This story is similar to those in the chapter “Borzūya-ye ṭabīb” in Kalīla wa Demna, the preamble to Škand-gumānīg wizār (1.35ff.), and Abar xēm ud xrad ī farrox mard, a Pahlavi poem in praise of xrad (Pahlavi Texts, ed. Jamasp-Asana, pp. 165-66; Tavadia; Tafażżolī, 1972, pp. 215-17).

The book belongs to the genre of andarz (advice) literature, containing mostly practical wisdom (chaps. 2.1-110, 16.20-63 [on the benefits of drinking wine moderately and the harmful effects of overindulging in it], 20, 33, 39, 50, 51, 54, 55, 59, 60), although advice on religious questions is by no means lacking. For example, there are passages on keeping quiet while eating (2.33-34); on not walking without wearing the sacred girdle (kostī) and undershirt (sodra; 2.35-36); on not walking with only one shoe on (2.37­-38); on not urinating in a standing position (2.39-40); on gāhānbār and hamāg-dēn ceremonies (4.5); on libation (zōhr) and the yasna ceremony (yazišn; 5.13); on not burying the dead (6.9); on marriage with next of kin (xwēdōdah) and trusteeship (stūrīh; 36); on belief in dualism (42); on praying three times a day and repentance before the sun, the moon, and fire (53); on belief in Ohrmazd as the creator and in the destructive­ness of Ahreman (see ahriman) and belief in *stōš (the fourth morning after death), resurrection, and the Final Body (tan ī pasēn; 63). The first chapter, which is also the longest (110 pars.), deals in detail with the question of what happens to people after death and the separa­tion of soul from body.

In some chapters religious and practical advice is mixed (e.g., chaps. 36-37). There are also passages that contain mythical material and allusions to ancient Iranian legends (e.g., 2.95, 21.25, 27, 61, 62) and brief passages on cosmology (9, 44.8-15, on the sky, earth, and water; 49 on stars; 56 on mountains and seas; 57 on clouds, the Alborz mountain, etc.) .

The emphasis placed in this book on refraining from the material world and concentration on the spiritual world (e.g., 2.98-103) and references to the signifi­cance of fate, predestination, and the role of the stars in the destiny of man (8.17-21, 24, 38.5, 47.7, 51) have led some scholars to believe that Mēnōg ī xrad reveals Zurvanite influences and to brand it as a semi-Zurvanite work (Zaehner, pp. 117, 181, 206). The book is, however, free of specifically Zurvanite ideas, for ex­ample, claims that Ohrmazd and Ahreman were of the same origin, and references to Zurvanite myths known from other sources. Such features as small regard for the material world and concentration on spiritual mat­ters, as well as submission to fate, must be considered characteristic of the andarz literature, to which Mēnōg ī xrad really belongs (Boyce, “Middle Persian Litera­ture,” p. 53) .

It is difficult to say exactly when the book was compiled, but references to the continuous wars of Persians with the Turks and the Byzantines, the com­plete absence of any reference to the Arabs or Islam, the similarity of the introduction to the chapter “Borzūya-e ṭabīb” in Kalīla wa Demna, and the style of the text reveal it to be a product of the late Sasanian period, probably the reign of Ḵosrow I Anōšīravān (531-79; see, e.g., 21.25-26; West, 1871, pp. x-xi; Boyce, “Middle Persian Literature,” p. 54).

Mēnōg ī xrad is written in a simple, readable style. The sentences are short and clear, with no discernible grammatical or lexical influence from classical Per­sian. The oldest known manuscript is K 43 (fols. 131­-76; Royal Library, Copenhagen), copied in 1589; a few folios are missing (facs. ed., Christensen; see codices hafnienses). Another manuscript, known as TD2 (Bombay) lacks the colophon. According to T. D. Anklesaria, who collated it with K 43, it was copied at some time between 1726 and 1741 (see J. J. Modi, introduction to Mēnōg ī xrad, ed. Anklesaria, pp. 6-7). The manuscripts used by D. P. Sanjana are, in all probability, Pahlavi translations of the Pāzand version done in recent centuries and thus hardly of particular interest. The Pāzand version and the Sanskrit translation were both based on the Pahlavi text, most probably produced by Neryōsang in the 15th century. The oldest Pāzand-Sanskrit manuscript is L 19 (India Of­fice library, London), which was copied at Navsari in Gujarat in 1520. There are also a few Persian transla­tions of Mēnōg ī xrad in both versified and prose versions.



J. Amouzgar, Études sur la langue et la littérature mazdéenne en persan, Ph.D. diss., Paris, 1967, pp. 50, 57, 67.

E. K. Antia, ed., Pazand Texts, Bombay, 1909, pp. 273-334.

A. Bausani, Testi religiosi zoroastriani, Catania, 1960 (tr. of Mēnōg ī xrad, pp. 73-178).

S. D. Bharucha, ed., Collected Sanskrit Writings of the Parsis, pt. III, Mainyôi Khard, Bombay, 1912.

A. Bonšāhī, ed., Minu Ḵrad, Pers. tr. H. Edulji, Bombay, 1317 Š./1938, pp. 1-80.

A. Christensen, ed., The Pahlavi Codex K 43, Codices Avestici et Pahlavici Bibliothecae Universitatis Hafniensis 5/1, Copenhagen, 1936.

Dânâk-u Mainyô-i Khrad. Pahlavi Pazand and San­skrit Texts, ed. T. D. Anklesaria, n.p. (Bombay), 1913.

J. P. de Menasce, “Zoroastrian Pahlavi Writ­ings,” in Camb. Hist. Iran III/2, pp. 1166-95 (esp. p. 1182).

D. P. Sanjana, The Dînâ î Maînû î Khrat, Bombay, 1895.

Škand-gumānīg wizār, ed. J. de Menasce as Une apologétique mazdéenne du IXe siècle. Škand-Gumānik Vičār. La solution décisive des doutes. Texte pazand-pehlevi transcrit, traduit et commenté, Fribourg, 1945.

A. Tafażżolī, Vāza-­nāma-ye mīnū-ye ḵarad, Tehran, 1348 Š./1969.

Idem, “Andarz ī Wehzād Farrox Pērōz,” Stud. Ir. 1/2, 1972, pp. 207-17.

Idem, tr., Mīnū-ye ḵarad, Tehran, 1354 Š./1975; 2nd ed., Tehran, 1364 Š./1985.

J. Tavadia, “A Didactic Poem in Zoroastrian Pahlavi,” Indo­-Iranian Studies 1, 1950, pp. 86-95.

E. W. West, The Book of the Mainyo-I-Khard, Stuttgart and London, 1871.

Idem, Pahlavi Texts, pt. III, SBE 24, Oxford, 1895.

Idem, in Grundriss II, p. 107.

R. C. Zaehner, Zurvan. A Zoroastrian Dilemma, Oxford, 1955.

(Aḥmad Tafażżolī)

Originally Published: December 15, 1993

Last Updated: November 10, 2011

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Vol. VI, Fasc. 5, pp. 554-555