Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE VISION OF ARDÂ-VÎRÂF † - The Teachings of Zoroaster and the Philosophy of the Parsi Religion
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
THE VISION OF ARDÂ-VÎRÂF † - Zarathushtra (Zoroaster), The Teachings of Zoroaster and the Philosophy of the Parsi Religion 
The Teachings of Zoroaster and the Philosophy of the Parsi Religion, ed. S.A. Kapadia (London: John Murray, 1905).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
THE VISION OF ARDÂ-VÎRÂF†
They say that, once upon a time, the pious Zaratûsht (Zoroaster) made the religion which he had received current in the world; and till the completion of three hundred years the religion was in purity, and men were without doubts.
And this religion, namely all the Avesta and Zend, written upon prepared cow-skins and with gold ink, was deposited in the archives in Stâkhar Pâpâkân; and the hostility of the evil-destined, wicked Ashemôk, the evil-doer, brought onward Alexander, the Rûman who was dwelling in Egypt, and he burnt them up.
And after that there was confusion and contention among the people of the country of Iran, one with the other.
And afterwards there were other magi and Desturs* of the religion, and some of their number were loyal and apprehensive. And an assembly of them was summoned in the residence of the victorious Frôbaĝ fire; and there were speeches and good ideas of many kinds on this subject: that “it is necessary for us to seek a means so that some of us may go and bring intelligence from the spirits; that the people who exist in this age shall know whether these Yazashni and Drôn and Afrînagân ceremonies, and Nîran prayers, and ablutions and purifications which we bring into operation attain unto God or unto the demons, and come to the relief of our souls or not.
And from the seven, three were selected, and from the three, one only, named Vîrâf, and some called him the Nîshâpûrian. Then that Vîrâf, as he heard that decision, stood upon his feet, joined his hands on his breast, and spake thus, “If it please you, then give me not the undesired narcotic till you cast lots for the Mazdayasnians and me; and if the lot come to me, I shall go willingly to that place of the pious and the wicked, and carry this message correctly, and bring an answer truly.
“After I had drunk the consecrated wine, and I had reposed my body to rest, and given my mind up to the adoration of God, methought my soul took its flight towards the holy regions, where Serosh Izad* appeared unto me, and beckoned me towards him, when, after giving and receiving the customary salutations, Serosh Izad said to me, ‘You have made a long journey in the faith. I am happy to see you in these blessed regions, and your escape from the world of wickedness gives one great pleasure; but, Ardâ-Vîrâf, you have come before your time. What is the occasion?’ Ardâ-Vîrâf replied in accents of complacency, ‘I have been sent, O Serosh Izad! by the king, by the priests, and by the voice of the nation in general, on this embassy, to know of heaven and hell, in order that heresy and schism be banished from the earth, and that the worship of the true God be restored to its wonted purity.’
“ . . . On saying this, Serosh Izad took hold of me by the arm, and led me forward across the bridge, when the throne of Mehr Izad* came in view, with Roshni Izad† standing by him, holding in his hands the scales of justice, made of pure gold, and having on his right hand and on his left five thousand angels, and whose different petitions he can hear at once, and if written can see at one glance. Having saluted, and having my salutation returned, the attending angels surrounded me, and thus addressed me, ‘O Ardâ-Vîrâf! your time has not yet come. How and by what means have you come thus far?’ I answered, ‘I have come thus far by the assistance of God, at the request of my king, Ardeshir Babegan, of the priests, and of the people, to collect and report the wonders of heaven and hell; that I may see that the truth may be these means be again restored to the earth, and heresy and wickedness banished for ever.’
“. . . Afterwards arose Vohûmano,‡ the archangel, from a throne made of gold, and he took hold of my hand. With the words ‘good thought’ and ‘good word’ and ‘good deed,’ he brought me into the midst of Aûharmazd* and the archangels and other holy ones, and the guardian angels of Zaratûsht Spitâma, Kaî-Vishtâsp, Jâmâsp, Isâdvâstar, the son of Zaratûsht, and other upholders and leaders of the religion, than whom I have never seen any one more brilliant and excellent.
“And Vohûman said thus, ‘This is Aûharmazd.’ And I wished to offer worship before him.
“And he said to me thus, ‘Salutation to thee, Ardâ-Vîrâf, thou art welcome; from that perishable world thou hast come to this pure bright place.’ And he ordered Srôsh the pious, and Âtarô† the angel, thus, ‘Take Ardâ-Vîrâf, and show him the place and reward of the pious, and also the punishment of the wicked.’
“And I saw the darkest hell, which is pernicious, dreadful, terrible, very painful, mischievous, and evil-smelling. And after further observation it appeared to me as a pit, at the bottom of which a thousand cubits would not reach; and though all the wood which is in the world were put on to the fire in this most stinking and gloomy hell, it would never emit a smell; and again also, as close as the ear to the eye, and as many as the hairs on the mane of a horse, so close and many in number the souls of the wicked stand—but they see not and hear no sound one from the other; every one thinks thus, ‘I am alone!’ And for them are the gloom of darkness and the stench and fearfulness of the torment and punishment of hell of various kinds; so that whoever is only a day in hell cries out thus, ‘Are not those nine thousand years yet completed when they should release us from this hell?’
“ ‘Without trouble nothing can be attained,’ said Serosh Izad; ‘the poor day-labourer is worthy of his hire, and those who perform good works will have their reward in eternal life, according to their several merits.’ He continued, ‘The life of man is of short duration, and many troubles and anxieties fall to his lot; and a man, after fifty years of prosperity and happiness, may be, by some unforeseen accident, reduced to sickness and poverty. Many are tried by this criterion, and but few are found worthy. To suffer a day of pain, after fifty years of pleasure, is too much for them, and they complain in bitterness of spirit to the Creator of all good of His injustice and cruelty, without remembering the good they have so long enjoyed or calling to mind the eternity of punishment in reserve for the wicked. Therefore, O Ardâ-Vîrâf! walk yourself in the ways of righteousness, and teach others also to do so. Recollect that your body will return to dust, but your soul, if rich in good works, will mount to immortality, and partake of the happiness you have already witnessed. Take less care of your body and more of your soul; the pains and aches of the body are easily cured, but who can minister to the diseases of the soul? When you set out on a journey in the lower world, you provide yourselves, and take with you money, clothes, provisions, and are prepared against all the exigencies of the road, but what do you provide yourselves with for your last journey of the soul from the lower to the upper world, and whose friendship have you to assist you on the way? Hear, O Ardâ-Vîrâf! and I will describe to you the provisions requisite for the voyage to eternal life.
“ ‘In the first place the friend who will assist you is God; but to attain His friendship you must walk in His ways and place in Him the firmest reliance. The provisions must be faith and hope and the remembrance of your good works. The body, O Ardâ-Vîrâf! may be likened unto a horse, and the soul to its rider, and the provisions requisite for the support of both are good actions; but as with a feeble rider the horse is ill-managed, so with a feeble horse the rider is but ill accommodated. Care ought to be taken that both are kept in order; so, in a spiritual sense, the soul and body must be kept in order by a succession of good actions. Even in the world the multitude would sneer at a man who took more care of his horse than of himself; for this reason a man ought to take more care of his soul than of his body. God, O Ardâ-Vîrâf! requires only two things of the sons of men: the first, that they should not sin; the next, that they should be grateful of the many blessings He is continually bestowing upon them.
“ ‘Let the world, O Ardâ-Vîrâf! be taught not to set their hearts on the pleasures and vanities of life, as nothing can be carried away with them. You have already seen the rewards given to the good and deserving—how they have been repaid for all their trouble; the poor and the rich, the king and the peasant, here receive honours and distinctions according to their good works. The herdsman and shepherd, you have seen their condition.
“ ‘In youth and in the prime of manhood, when blessed with health and vigour, you suppose that your strength will never fail; that your riches, your lands, your houses, and your honours will remain for ever; that your gardens will be always green and your vineyards fruitful. But, O Ardâ-Vîrâf! teach them not to think so; teach them the danger of such a way of thinking: all, all will pass away as a dream!
“ ‘The flowers fade, and give lessons unto man that he is unwilling to profit by. Yea, the world itself will pass away, and nothing will remain but God!
“Therefore, O Ardâ-Vîrâf! turn your thoughts only towards Him. No pleasure but has its concomitant pain; roses have thorns, and honours fall into disgrace. It is pleasant to drink wine, but intoxication brings pain, if not disgrace; if you exceed in eating, this also brings its punishment, and you must have a doctor; even if you drink the purest water to excess, it engenders dropsy; therefore let the avoidance of excess in everything be most particularly inculcated—in wine or women, in eating and drinking: though they bring their own punishment in the world by the diseases they engender, yet they encourage the most deadly sins, and the soul so indulging will most assuredly be cut off from heaven. So you see, O Ardâ-Vîrâf! that the indulgence of our passions brings no pleasure of long duration, or impresses any good sentiment on the heart.
“ ‘If after praying to God for offspring, and He has granted your request, into what sea of trouble and anxiety are you plunged! Your son or daughter may grow up in vicious habits, and embitter your days by their undutiful conduct: the one may become a thief, the other a courtezan, and bring disgrace on your old age. The bee that produces honey has also a sting.
“ ‘The world is composed of lust, avarice, and of passions the most ungovernable; if God gives them one thing, even that for which they most desire, they are not satisfied, but are continually craving for more and more, to a hundredfold.
“ ‘Avarice and ambition deprive them of sleep, and prevent them from making a laudable exertion to subdue these dreadful passions, which will plunge them into everlasting misery.
“ ‘A king who has conquered all the surrounding countries sighs because he has no more worlds to subdue. Kai Kâus, after having conquered many countries, aspired to be a king in heaven, and was punished for his presumption by a dreadful fall, which made him sensible of his folly.
‘ “So you see, O Ardâ-Vîrâf! that content is the happiest condition of man and the most pleasing to the Creator: and treasure the advice I have given you; and as you return to the lower world, inculcate these precepts, and abide by the laws and walk in the way of truth and holiness, and continue in the worship of the true God.’ ”
[† ]Dr. Haug and Dr. West’s “Ardâ-Vîrâf”; J. A. Pope’s “Revelations of Ardâ-Vîrâf.”
[* ]Chief priests.
[* ]The Guardian Angel of Souls.
[* ]Mithra: The Recording Angel.
[† ]Angel of Justice.
[‡ ]Good Mind.
[† ]God of Fire: The Angel of Life.