Paradise Found, by William F. Warren, , at sacred-texts.com
Aus den Angaben über die Paradiesströme und den Lauf derselben erhellt nun auch, wo wir das Parades selbst zu suchen haben, nämlich im äussersten Norden.Fr. Spiegel.
According to the sacred books of the ancient Persians all the five-and-twenty races of men which people the seven "keshvares" of the earth descended from one primitive pair, whose names were Mâshyoi and Mâshya. The abode of this primitive pair was in the keshvare Kvanîras, the central and the fairest of the seven. 1 Let us see if we can determine its location.
As a key to the old Iranian conception of the world let us investigate the nature and location of the "Chinvat bridge." This, like the Bifröst of the Northmen and the Al Sirat of Islam, is the bridge on which the souls of the dead, the evil as well as the good, leave this world to enter the unseen. 2 The investigation is in itself and for its own sake full of interest, for no writer on the ideas and faith of the
[paragraph continues] Mazdaeans has ever professed to be able to tell either the origin or true meaning of the myth. Most interpreters have either carefully abstained from all attempts at explanation, or have suggested that it probably refers to the rainbow or to the Milky Way, or to both. 1 To dispose of these suggestions, let us raise a few questions:
1. Do we find in any part of the Avestan literature any evidence that the Chinvat Bridge possessed a curvilinear form?
2. Straight, or curved as a whole, were its two ends conceived of as on a common level?
No, for motion upon it in one direction is described as upward, and in the opposite direction as downward.
3. Where was the upper end?
In the heaven of Ahura Mazda, the Supreme God, to whose abode the bridge conducts good souls.
4. But where is this abode?
At the Northern Pole of the sky, as elsewhere shown.
5. Where is the earthward end?
It rests upon "the Daitîk peak."
6. Is this peak in Persia?
No; it is part of a sacred mountain in Aîrân-vej, the Eden of Iranian tradition.
7. And where is Aîrân-vej?
"In the middle of the world."
8. In what keshvare?
In Kvanîras, the central of the seven divisions of the earth, and the one in which men and the good religion were first created.
9. And in what direction from Persia was Aîrân-vej supposed to lie?
Far to the North.
10. What natural "centre of the earth" is situated in that direction?
The North Pole.
11. What other evidence is there that the Daitîk peak is at the North Pole?
The fact that the mountain of which this is simply "the peak of judgment" is Harâ-berezaiti, around which the heavenly bodies revolve, and which, as all allow, answers to the north polar Su-Meru of the Hindus. 1
12. Then the Chinvat bridge extends from the North Pole of the heavens to the North Pole of the earth: what is its shape?
It is "beam-shaped." To quote the sacred book: "That bridge is like a beam, of many sides, of whose edges there are some which are broad, and there are some which are thin and sharp; its broad sides are so large that its width is twenty-seven reeds, and its sharp sides are so contracted that in thinness it is just like the edge of a razor. And when the souls of the righteous and wicked arrive, it turns to them that side which is suitable to their necessities." 2
The Chinvat bridge, then, is simply the axis of the northern heavens, the Pillar of Atlas, the Talmudic "Strength of the Hill of Sion," the column which in the Chinese legend the emperor vainly sought to climb! In solving this long-standing problem we have at the same time unlocked the mystery which has hitherto attached to Bifröst and Al Sirat. 1
But in locating our bridge we have located the Persian Eden. And the location is unquestionably at the North Pole. More than this, we have made clear the fact that in the mythical or sacred geography of this ancient people the world of living men was originally the northern circumpolar hemisphere. The arrangement of the keshvares now becomes entirely clear. 2 Like the divinely beautiful Ilâvrita varsha of the Hindus, "illustrious Kvanîras" holds the central position. In its centre, as in the centre
of Ilâvrita, is the holiest mount in the world. Directly over it is the true heaven. In this central polar country North and South and East and West would have no application; but speaking from their own geographical standpoint as south of Aîrân-vej, the Persians located to the east of this holy central Kvanîras the keshvare Savah, to the west Arzah, to the south the keshvares Fradadafsh and Vidadafsh, and to the north Vôrûbarst and Vôrûgarst. 1 This gives a map of the northern hemisphere which in a
Click to enlarge
The Earth of the Persians.
plane polocentric projection may be represented as on the foregoing page, the polar centre of course being occupied by Harâ-berezaiti.
It would be a fascinating task to reinterpret the whole Avestan literature and mythology in the new light of this recovered geography and cosmology, but this would require a book of itself. It is worthy of remark that the Venidad expressly calls the earth "round," and apparently recognizes the existence of its two far-separated poles. 1 As we have seen, its Chinvat bridge or beam, which is also an idea so ancient as to be found in the Avesta itself (Farg., xix., 30, et passim), is the axis of the world, conducting good souls by an upward "flight" into the north polar heaven of Ahura Mazda, but the evil by a fall "headforemost" into the south polar hell. 2 Aîrân-vej, or "Old Iran," was the most natural name in the world for the Iranians to give to the traditional birth-place of their race. 3 But all attempts to find it "on the banks of the Aras" or "in the far-off lands
of the rising sun" 1 are entirely useless. Equally mistaken is the gloss which merely makes it "primitively" the mythic land where the disembodied "souls of the righteous" are assembled by Ahura Mazda. 2 The same must be said of the assertion that "the real site of the Aîrân-vej in its ancient and original conception is to the east of the Caspian Sea and of Lake Aral." 3 By every particular of its description it is identified with the Daitîk peak, with Harâ-berezaiti, with the polar "river," the polar "tree," the polar "centre" of the upper hemisphere. It is simply the Arctic Eden of humanity remembered as it was before the Evil One entered, and "by his witchcraft counter-created winter and the worst of plagues." 4 This being the case we need not wonder that in a paper on "The Aryan Birth-place," read in January, 1884, before the Royal Society of Literature, Mr. C. J. Stone expressed his strong doubt of the current doctrine that the cradle of the Aryans was the upper valleys of the Oxus. 5 The
cradle of the whole Aryan family will at last be found to be in "Aîrân, the Ancient,"and this in the Arctic birth-place of man.
155:1 Bundahish, ch. xv., 1-30.
155:2 This, says Professor Rawlinson, is evidently the original of Mohammed's famous way extended over the middle of hell, which is sharper than a sword and finer than a hair, over which all must pass. Ancient Monarchies, vol. ii., p. 339 n. Compare Sale's Koran, Prelim. Discourse, Sect. iv. Professor Tiele thinks "it was borrowed from the old Aryan mythology," and that it "was probably originally the rainbow." History of Religion. London and Boston, 1877: p. 177.
156:1 "The Bridge of Souls cannot be always the Milky Way. . . . Supposing the myths which once belonged to the Milky Way to have been passed on to the Rainbow, the name of the former might also have been inherited by the latter." C. F. Keary, Primitive Belief. Lond., 1882: p. 292. Comp. pp. 286-294, 347. Also Justi, Handbuch der Zendsprache. Leipsic, 1864: p. 111, sub voce "Cinvañt"
157:1 "Like the Meru of the Indians, Harâ-berezaiti is the pole and centre of the world, the fixed point around which the sun and the planets perform their revolutions."Lenormant, "Ararat and Eden," in the Contemporary Review, September, 1881. Am. ed., p. 45.
157:2 Dâdistân-î-Dînîk, ch. xxi., 2-9. West, Pahlavi Texts, ii., pp. 47-49. It is a curious coincidence that in Polynesian mythology Buataranga, p. 158 "guardian of the road to the invisible world," is wife to Ru, "the supporter of the heavens." Gill, Myths and Songs of the South Pacific. London, 1876: p. 51. So if Heimdallr's true station were at the top of the rainbow, his title "son of nine mothers" (Vigfusson and Powell, Corpus Poeticum Boreale, London, 1883, ii. 465) would have no such obvious significance as our interpretation gives.
158:1 One of the etymologies of Chinvat makes it the "Bridge of the Judge." (Haug, Essays, 2d ed., p. 165 n.) As among the ancient Assyrians, and some other peoples, the pole star has been styled "the judge of heaven," it is possible that we have here at once the origin of the name and a new identification of the position of the mythical "beam-shaped" bridge. It is interesting to note in this connection that Heimdallr, the Norse god who stands at the top of Bifröst, is also, etymologically considered, the "World-judge" or "World-divider." Menzel, Unsterblichkeitslehre, i. 134. In Plato (Repub., 614 ff.) the judge stands at the bottom of the column.For grotesque survivals of the Bridge of Souls in folklore, see Tylor, Primitive Culture, Index.
158:2 The diagram attempted by Windischmann, Zoroastrische Studien, p. 67, is inconsistent with the Bundahish, ch. v., 9. So must be every attempt to arrange the keshvares on a flat earth.
159:1 Darmesteter transliterates the names as follows: "The earth is divided into seven Karshvares, separated from one another by seas and mountains impassable to men. Arezahi and Savahi are the western and eastern Karshvare; Fradadhafshu and Vidadhafshu are in the south; Vourubaresti and Vourugarsti are in the north; Hvaniratha (Kvanîras) is the central Karshvare. Hvaniratha is the only Karshvare inhabited by man (Bundahish, xi. 3)."Darmesteter, The Zend-Avesta, vol. ii., p. 123 n.
160:1 The Avesta (Darmesteter), i., p. 205; ii., pp. 143, 144. Compare Windischmann's version of the Farvardin Yasht, i. 3: "die beiden Enden des Himmels." Studien, p. 313.
160:2 Apparently through the passage forced through the earth by Aharman (Ahriman). See Zâd Sparam, ch. ii., 3, 4, 5. West, Pahlavi Texts, vol. i., p. 161. Also Bundahish, iii. 13. Rhode, Die heilige Sage des Zendvolks, p. 235. Windischmann's translation of Bundahish, ch. xxxi. (in Darmesteter numbered xxx.), seems especially to support this idea: "Ahriman und die Schlange werden durch die Kraft der Lobgesänge geschlagen und hülflos und schwach gemacht. Auf jener Brücke des Himmels, auf welcher er herbeilief, wird er in die tiefste Finsterniss zurücklaufen. . . . Auch dies ist gesagt: Diese Erde wird rein und eben sein: ausser dem Berg Cakat-Cinvar wird ein Aufsteigen und ein Hinabtragen nicht sein." Zoroastrische Studien, p. 117. Compare Plato's "chasms," with ways leading hell. ward and heavenward. Republic, 614.
160:3 F. C. Cook, Origins of Religion and Language. London, 1884: p. 187.
161:1 Darmesteter, The Avesta, i., p. 3.
161:2 Ibid., i., p. 15.
161:3 Lenormant, The Contemporary Review, Sept., 1881 (Am. ed.), p. 41.Pietrement, Les Aryas, locates it just east of Lake Balkach, in lat. 45°-47° Grill is so bewildered by the number of attempted identifications that he pronounces the land a purely mythical one, and denies to the name all historic or geographic reality. Erzväter, i. 218, 219.
161:4 Fargard, i. 3. The passage continues, "There are (now) ten winter months there, two summer months; and those are cold for the waters, cold for the earth, and cold for the trees." This reminiscence of the on-coming of the Glacial Age at the Pole also appears in the Flood legend of the American aborigines, particularly the Lenni-Lenapi, or Delaware Indians. Rafinesque, The American Nations. Phila., 1836: Song III.
161:5 See also Dr. O. Schrader, Sprachvergleichung and Urgeschichte. Linguistisch-historische Beiträge zur Erforschung des indogermanischen Alterthums. Jena, 1883. Dr. S. formerly adhered to the p. 162 theory of a Mid-Asian Aryan birth-land, but has been led to abandon it. Still more positive and emphatic is Karl Penka, who boldly locates the original home of the Aryans in Scandinavia. See his Origins Ariacæ. Linguistisch-ethnologische Untersuchungen zur ältesten Geschichte der Arischen Völker und Sprachen. Vienna, 1883. Mr. John Gibb argues in the same direction, "The Original Home of the Aryans," in The British Quart. Review, Oct., 1884.