BRAHM “manner, fashion, costume, etc.,” Middle Persian word borrowed in Parthian and Manichean Sogdian (prxm); Book Pahlavi also has the derived form brahmag (see Boyce, p. 28; Gershevitch, p. 9 n. 1; MacKenzie, p. 19; Nyberg, Manual II, p. 49; Sundermann, 1985, 1. b65). The word is rarely used alone; most often it occurs in conventional phrases, paired with words like čihrag “form,” karišn “(beautiful) shape,” ēwēnag “way, mode” (Parth. abdēn, Sogd. ʾn’yk), gōnag “manner, way,” and xrad “wisdom.” Whether or not brahm is descended from Old Persian brazman- (see aša 2: Old Persian arta—or rather from the dialect form *bradman, see Henning, p. 109; Gershevitch, loc. cit.), is a matter for debate. If brazman- was a cultic term, possibly meaning “rite” or something similar, the limited and apparently redundant usage of brahm might be explained, but the older term may instead have meant barsom, which would leave open the question of brahm.
In Middle Persian and Parthian texts brahm is used in connection with human beings, referring either to mode of behavior, “demeanor, propriety, ceremony” (Henning, 1944, pp. 115f.), or to outward appearance, “form, gracefulness; fashion, costume, dress.” Examples of the former meaning are found in both Zoroastrian and Manichean texts: cf. ēwēnag brahmag ī mēnōgīg kār rāyēnišn “the way and manner to organize spiritual work” (Zādsprahm 31.5); kē-š kēš ǰādūgīh ud dēn frēftārīh ud āmōz dušīh ud brahm nihānrawišnīh “whose [i.e. Mani’s] faith is sorcery, whose religion is deception, whose teaching is evil, and whose behavior is secrecy” (Škand gumānīg wizār 10.60, pp. 116-17); pad was gōnag ud brahm “in many ways and manners” (Boyce, 1951, p. 911); až harwīn brahm “in all ways” (Boyce, 1954, pp. 120f.). Meanings related to outward appearance occur most often in Manichean texts: cf. kū tā-š+ čihrag ēwēnag brahm [dīd bawād] “(show her face) so that her shape, form, and appearance may be seen” (Zādsprahm 18.1; tr. Sohn, p. 135); pad ān ristag ud brahm (Bailey, Zoroastrian Problems, p. 161 n. 4); čwāγōn wār sistag ke . . . hō brahm wiganēd “as a broken rose . . . whose grace is destroyed” (Angad rōšnān Ia.4b, Boyce, 1954, pp. 120-21). Brahm also appears to have the more concrete meaning “costume, garment” in both groups of texts: cf. pad ān ī dahibedān brahm “in the costume of rulers” (Ardā Wirāz-nāmag 14.4), pad xwarāsānīg brahmag (ms. nlhmk) “in Khorasanian costume” (Kār-nāmag 13.4); ān mōg ī spēḍ . . . [ī] Zarēr brahmag “those white shoes . . . , Zarēr’s costume” (Ayādgār ī Zarērān par. 106, p. 38); u-šāṇ . . . brahm à andar niγust ud à bēh paḍ . . . razmγāhīg čihrag āgas būd ahēnd “they . . . clothed themselves in a garment of joy within and withouṭ . . . they appeared in the shape of warriors” (Mir. Man. III, a 73, p. 6 [85 f]); pad šahrdārān brahm abdēn can mean “in the costume/way and manner of rulers“ or “in the customary dress of kings” (thus Henning, 1944, p. 90). It should be noted that, whereas other words meaning “dress” are often qualified by descriptive adjectives, brahm(ag) usually is not.
In both Zoroastrian and Manichean contexts brahm designates the form or appearance assumed by earthly or divine beings, alternating with paymōg or paymōzan (Man. Parth. padmōžan) “clothing, garment.” (For the Zoroastrian texts, see Zaehner, 1955, pp. 122, 333 [Bundahišn ], 374-77 [Dēnkard]; on the role of the garment, see ibid., pp. 118-25, as well as Gnoli, 1983.) In the Dēnkard it is stated that Ohrmazd created four powers represented by costumes: the brahm of priesthood (āsrōnīh), tyranny (sāstārīh), warriorhood (artēštārīh), and self-will (xwad-dōšagīh), which were the garments (paymōg) of gods or demons. This statement may be compared with that in the Bundahišn to the effect that, after the assault of the evil spirit, Ohrmazd donned a white robe (paymōzan) with the stamp of priesthood, which was the costume (brahmag) of the wise (i.e., priesthood); the Good Way donned a robe (ǰāmag) of gold and silver, adorned with precious stones, the costume of the warrior; and, finally, the firmament donned a dark blue robe (paymōzan), the costume of the husbandman. Henning has shown that in Manichean terminology brahm was also used to designate the symbolic garment, as for instance in Parthian brahm ud čihrag izwašt “He (Christ) changed His form and appearance” (M 24 R 8 = M 812 V 3-4, referring to the assumption of human form by Christ, Henning, p. 112, cf. the use of padmōžan in another passage, quoted by Henning, ibid.). See Arnold-Döben, pp. 151-53, for the very complex Manichean garment symbolism (earthly body, celestial “figure of light,” the elements of light, Christ’s docetic appearance).
Among derivatives and compounds involving brahm the following may be noted: In Zādsprahm (32.1) it is said that the good have a hambrahmagīh (someone of the same appearance) in the spiritual world (pad mēnōg). Compare the statements, ibid., 30.48, that the dēn that meets the deceased in the beyond is clad in a dress (paymōg-ēw paymōzīhēd) corresponding to his deeds in life. The word hambrahmagīh recalls the word hangirb “someone of the same shape” used by the high priest Kirdēr in his inscriptions at Naqš-e Rostam and Sar Mašhad (a.d. 2nd half of 3rd century) to designate his alter ego, who is traveling in the world of the dead (Skjærvø, passim). Other derivatives: abēbrahm “pointless,” lit. “formless” (Škand-gumānīg wizār 11.329), brahmagīh “(good) behavior” (Dēnkard, ed. Madan, p. 59.1; Menasce, 1973, p. 74 “le bon usage”), brahmāwend “pleasant” (Mahr-nāmag l. 314, ed. Müller, p. 19), hāmbrahm “of the same shape” (unpublished ms. M 728 V 17), nazd-brahmīhātar “most nearly connected (with)” (Dēnkard, ed. Madan, p. 459.9; Zaehner, 1955, p. 430), wadbrahm “unpleasant” (Boyce, 1975, p. 57 text w).
Ardā Wirāz-nāmag, ed. P. Gignoux, Le livre d’Ardā Vīrāz, Paris, 1984; ed. F. Vahman, Copenhagen, 1986.
V. Arnold-Döben, Die Bildersprache des Manichäismus, Cologne, 1978. Ayādgār ī Zarērān, ed. D. Monchi-Zadeh, Die Geschichte Zarēr’s, Uppsala, 1981.
M. Boyce, “Sadwēs and Pēsūs,” BSOAS 13/4, 1951, pp. 908-15.
Idem, The Manichaean Hymn-Cycles in Parthian, Oxford, 1954.
Idem, A Reader in Manichaean Middle Persian and Parthian, Tehran and Liège, 1975.
Idem, A Word-List of Manichaean Middle Persian and Parthian, Tehran and Liège, 1977.
J. Duchesne-Guillemin, “Old Persian Artācā brazmaniy,” BSOAS 15, 1962, pp. 336-37.
I. Gershevitch, “Dialect Variation in Early Persian,” TPS, 1964 (publ. 1965), pp. 1-29, repr. in Philologia Iranica, ed. N. Sims-Williams, Wiesbaden, 1985, pp. 194-222.
G. Gnoli, “Isaia. Il diletto e la chiesa. Visione ed esegesi profetica cristiano-primitiva nell’Ascensione di Isaia,” in Atti del Convegno di Roma, 9-10 aprile 1981, ed. M. Pesce, Brescia, 1983, pp. 123-24.
W. B. Henning, “Bráhman,” TPS, 1944, pp. 108-18.
D. N. MacKenzie, A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary, London, etc., 1971.
J. de Menasce, Le troisième livre du Dēnkart, Paris, 1973.
F. W. K. Müller, Ein Doppelblatt aus einem manichäischen Hymnenbuch (Maḥrnâmag), APAW, phil.-hist. Kl., 1912.
P. 0. Skjærvø, “"Kirdir’s Vision". Translation and Analysis,” AMI 16, 1983, pp. 269-306.
F. W. Sohn, Die Medizin des Zādsparam, Ph.D. dissertation, Berlin, 1980.
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Škand-gumānīg wizār, ed. J. de Menasce, La solution décisive des doutes, Freiburg, 1945.
Wizīdagīhā ī Zādspram, ed. B. T. Anklesaria, chap. 18.1.
R. Zaehner, “Zurvanica I,” BSO(A)S 9/2, 1938, pp. 303-20.
Idem, Zurvan. A Zoroastrian Dilemma, Oxford, 1955 (esp. p. 466).
Originally Published: December 15, 1989
Last Updated: December 15, 1989
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Vol. IV, Fasc. 4, pp. 431-432