Vendidad – What Is It?

Religion is very salient in every man’s life. It is as important as breathing oxygen and as significant as drinking a glass of water every day. It is already part of the life of people since the time they are born. How do these people know their religion? Many of the ancient people had done many things to have a printed text of their religion in order for them and for the people of the next generation to have a basis on what their belief encompasses. They will also be aware of that by means of conveying it by their relatives; however having printed texts is more important than that.

All of the people know the bible in Judaism and Christianity, and the Koran of the Muslims. It is preserved until now. There are also other sacred texts of other religions and one of those is the Vendidad of Iran. Vendidad is an ancient collection of sacred texts. This encompasses religion, prayers and the Zoroastrian myths. It gives more attention on how to dispose cadavers and others (nasu) in order to avoid making the water, earth, etc. polluted.

Vendidad is the only one that survived among the twenty-one books of the Avesta. This was being translated by many translators of the ancient people for a better understanding on the things written in the book. This is a part of the Avesta or the main collection of printed texts particularly sacred texts of Zoroastrianism, which is a religion in Iran. Vendidad is also considered as ecclesiastical because it relates to the religion. Its name is a contraction of the language about Avesta Vî-Daêvô-Dāta, meaning against Daevas (demons). The name conveys the enumeration of many manifestations of the evil spirits and the steps to fight against them. Its parts vary in age and in character. Though the other parts are presently made in origin, the topic of the greater part is too old.

In 1877, Karl Friedrich Geldner distinguished it as being diverse linguistically from the ancient avestan language and yonger Avesta Yashts. As of now, there are issues about the development of Vendidad in terms of its historical improvement. Some critics classified it as artificial or synthetic, young text of the Avesta and has a comparison to the old Avestan for others. It comprises of 22 fargards that discuss the stories between Zoroaster and Ahura Mazda.

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Some considered it (Vendidad) as having a connection to oral traditions of the ancient people. It possibly began before the beginning of the Persian and median empires. This is before the 8th century B.C.E. In connection with the Yashts, it does not mean that it does not consist of too old material. There are possibilities that this encompasses very old printed materials. At the present time, the people who believes on Zoroastrianism are continuously rewriting an old material.

At the very beginning of the chapter, it discusses the creation myth. This is about how the world started and how the first people reside in it. This is dualistic because it is followed by the havoc of the winter with deluge of other mythologies. A myth or mythology means an ancient history of the people of the society. It also explains social and natural phenomenon and usually involves beyond the natural events or being. The next chapter tells about the legend of Yima. This is the fourth and greatest king of the Pishdadian dynasty before kayanian dynasty based on the tradition and folklore. The chapter 19 tells about Zoroaster who was tempted to turn towards Ahura Mazda. The rest of the chapters are about the various regulations and rules where people can fight the evil spirits. This is composed of fargards which comprises the following topics:

  • Hygiene which is about caring of the cadaver and cleansing
  • Disease, its origin( how do diseases start) and the spells against it ( these will be used as to cure the person or to fight against the supernatural beings who became the reason why he / she has the illness)
  • Towers of silence, mourning for the dead, and the remuneration of deeds after death
  • The sanctity of, and invocations to Atar meaning fire, Zam means earth, Apas means water and the light of the stars
  • The dignity of wealth and charity, of marriage, and of physical effort

There are still many topics aside from the aforementioned subject matter that can be found in the Vendidad.

It is also about the Iranian culture, customs, mores and social laws. In other instances, if they violate the rules and regulations they will be punished with the following penances: payment in cash or in kind to the person, corporal punishment like whipping and repeated recitations of some parts of a liturgy.

Almost all of the Zoroastrians continuously using the Vendidad as their primary ethical moral and cultural guide. The teachings view as very salient to the tradition and see it as the original point of view about the reality of spiritual existence. There’s a reformist who considers the later writings as corrupted of the original teachings of Zarathustra, therefore the Vendidad for some critics is not original. This becomes like this because there were some parts of the later sacred texts that were based on something.

The Zoroastrianism is also termed as Magianism, Mazdaism, and Zarathustraism. It’s adopted in various forms as the general religion of the Archaemenid Empire and many others so the other characteristics of it were adapted by the following religions such as Christianity, Gnosticism, Islam and the Second Temple Judaism.

Zoroastrians believe on Ahura Mazda, the supreme god and the wise lord. They believe that Ahura Mazda is a transcendent and universal god. Zoroastrianism states that the active participation in day to day living with good deeds is very essential in achieving happiness and to dispel the chaos within the person and within the society.

Thus, people should be thankful enough to some who preserved or conserved religion in the context of printed texts or materials. And then, whatever your religion is, people are created the same. Everyone should respect one another whatever he /she believes in.