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Book of Arda Viraf

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Title: Book of Arda Viraf  
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Subject: Avesta, Zoroastrianism, Denkard, Jamasp Namag, Shikand-gumanic Vichar
Collection: Zoroastrian Texts
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Book of Arda Viraf

The Book of Arda Viraf is a Zoroastrian religious text of Sassanid era in Middle Persian language that contains about 8,800 words.[1] It describes the dream-journey of a devout Zoroastrian (the 'Viraf' of the story) through the next world. Due to the ambiguity inherent to Pahlavi script, 'Viraf' (the name of the protagonist) may also be transliterated as 'Wiraf', 'Wiraz' or 'Viraz'.[2] The 'Arda' of the name (cf. Asha; cognate with Skt. r̥ta) is an epithet of Viraf and is approximately translatable as "truthful" or "righteous." "Viraz" is probably akin to Proto-Indo-European *wiHro--, "man" see Skt. vīra. The text assumed its definitive form in the 9th-10th centuries A.D., after a long series of emendations.[3]


  • Textual History 1
  • Plot summary 2
  • Quotes from the Text 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6
  • Further reading 7

Textual History

The date of the book is not known, but in The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East, Prof. Charles Horne assumes that it was composed fairly late in the ancient history of Zoroastrianism, probably from the period of the Sassanian empire, when Zoroastrianism experienced a state-sponsored revival.[4] The fact that the "evil" Alexander the Great is referred to as a Roman suggests this period, in which the rivalry between the two empires was intense.

Plot summary

Arda Viraf is chosen for his piety to undertake a journey to the next world in order to prove the truth of Zoroastrian beliefs, after a period when the land of [5]

Quotes from the Text

  • They say that, once upon a time, the pious Zartosht made the religion, which he had received, current in the world; and till the completion of 300 years, the religion was in purity, and men were without doubts. But afterward, the accursed evil spirit, the wicked one, in order to make men doubtful of this religion, instigated the accursed Alexander, the [7]
    • Introduction
  • Then I saw the souls of those whom serpents sting and ever devour their tongues.And I asked thus: 'What [7]
    • Section 4, Hell

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Philippe Gignoux, "Ardā Wīrāz", Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, New York, 1996-, consulted 21 February 2015.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b Translation of the Book of Arda Viraf
  6. ^ Alexander the Great was called "the Ruman" in Zoroastrian tradition because he came from Greek provinces which later were a part of the eastern Roman empire - The archeology of world religions By Jack Finegan Page 80 ISBN 0-415-22155-2
  7. ^ a b

External links

Full texts
  • Translation of the Book of Arda Viraf
  • Middle Persian text (Romanized version)
  • [1]

Further reading

  • Kassock, Zeke, (2012), The Book Of Arda Viraf: A Pahlavi Student's 2012 Rendition, Transcription And Translation , ISBN 978-1477603406
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