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by a single sage and thinker. Yet such a religion is not wont to be an entirely new creation.
We are able, by the aid of the Indian Vedas, to trace out with some distinctness the form of the original Aryan faith, held before the separation of the Indian and Persian nations. It was an almost pure nature-religion, a worship of the powers conceived to be the producers of all the various phenomena of the sensible creation; and, of course, a polytheism, as must be the first religion of any people who without higher light are striving to solve for themselves the problem of the universe. But even in the earliest Vedic religion appears a tendency toward an ethical and monotheistic development, evidenced especially by the lofty and ennobling attributes and authority ascribed to the god Varuna: and this tendency, afterward unfortunately checked and rendered inoperative in the Indian branch of the race, seems to have gone on in Persia to an entire transformation of the natural religion into an ethical, of the polytheism into a monotheism; a transformation effected especially by the teachings of the religious reformer Zoroaster. It is far from improbable that Varuna himself is the god out of whom the Iranians made their supreme divinity; the ancient name, however, appears nowhere in their religious records; they have given him a new title, AhuraMazda, “Spiritual Mighty-one,” or “Wise-one” (AuraMazdâ of the Inscriptions; Oromasdes and Ormuad of the classics and modern Persians). The name itself indicates the origin of the conception to which it is given; a popular religion does not so entitle its creations, if, indeed, it brings forth any of so elevated and spiritual a character. Ahura Mazdã is a purely spiritual conception; he is clothed with no external form or human attributes; he is the creator and ruler of the universe, the author of all good; he is the only being to whom the name of God can with propriety be applied in the Iranian religion. Other beings, of subordinate rank and inferior dignity, are in some measure associated with him in the exercise of his authority; such are Mithra, an ancient sun-god, the almost inseparable companion of Varuna in the Vedic invocations, and the seven Amshaspands
(Amesha-Çpenta, “ Immortal Holy-ones"), whose identity with the Adityas of the Veda has been conjectured; they appear here, however, with new titles, expressive of moral attributes. The other gods of the original Aryan faith, although they have retained their ancient name of dacva (Sanskrit deva), have lost their individuality and dignity, and have been degraded into the demons.
At their head, and the chief embodiment of the spirit which inspires them, is Angura-Mainyus (Arimanius, Ahriman), the “Sinful-minded," or “ Malevolent"; his name is one given him as antithesis to the frequent epithet of Ahura Mazda, Çpento-Mainyus, “ holy-minded,” or “benevolent." This side of the religion came to receive, however, a peculiar development, which finally converted the religion itself into dualism. Such was not its character at the period represented by the Avesta; then the demons were simply the embodiment of whatever evil influences existed in the universe, of all that man has to hate, and fear, and seek protection against. This was the Persian or Zoroastrian solution of the great problem of the origin of evil. There was wickedness, impurity, unhappiness, in the world; but this could not be the work of the holy and benevolent Creator Ahura-Mazdâ; the malevolence of Angura-Mainyus and his infernal legions must have produced it. Later, however, a reasoning and systematizing philosophy inquires: how came there to be such a malevolent being in the fair world of a benevolent Creator? can he have been produced by him? and why, if an inferior and subject power, is he not annihilated, or his power to harm taken away? and then arises the doctrine that the powers of good and of evil are independent and equal, ever warring with one another, neither able wholly to subdue its adversary. This latter phase of belief is known to have appeared very early in the history of the Zoroastrian religion; the philosophers aided in its development by setting up an undefined being, Zervanakerene, “time unbounded," from which were made to originate the two hostile principles, and for which they sought to find a place among the original tenets of their religion by a misinterpretation of certain passages in the sacred texts.
Such being the constitution of the universe, such the powers by which it was governed, the revelation was made by the benevolent Creator to his chosen servant for the purpose of instructing mankind with reference to their condition, and of teaching them how to aid the good, how to avoid and overcome the evil. The general features of the method by which this end was to be attained are worthy of all praise and approval. It was by seduously maintaining purity, in thought, word, and deed; by truthfulness, temperance, chastity; by prayer and homage to Ahura-Mazdâ and the other benevolent powers; by the performance of good works, by the destruction of noxious creatures; by everything that could contribute to the welfare and happiness of the human race. No cringing and deprecatory worship of the powers of evil was enjoined; toward them the attitude of the worshipper of Mazda was to be one of uncompromising hostility; by the power of a pure and righteous walk he was to confound and frustrate their malevolent attempts against his peace.
Fire was kept constantly burning in an enclosed space; not in a temple, for idols and temples have been alike unknown throughout the whole course of Persian history; and before it, as in a spot consecrated by the special presence of the divinity, were performed the chief rites of worship.
An object of worship, properly so called, it never was.-- Oriental and Linguistic Studies, ist Series.
HITTIER, JOHN GREENLEAF, an American
poet; born at Haverhill, Mass., December 17,
1807; died at Hampton Falls, N. H., September 7, 1892. Of Quaker parentage, he always remained a member of the Society of Friends. Up to his eighteenth year he worked on a farm; then attended an academy for two years, writing occasional