Did the Āẕar Kaivānīs Know Zoroastrian Middle Persian Sources?
AbstractThe Āẕar Kaivānīs, a syncretistic religious school in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, combined elements from Islam, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism and Ešrāqī philosophy. The Dasātīr, written by the first authority of the group, Āẕar Kaivān (943/1533–1028/1618), is a bilingual text. Its first language is an artificial encrypted language, represented as the language of heaven; the second is a specific form of New Persian, i.e., with few Arabic words. This article argues that Dasātīr’s author employed the Zoroastrian Zand as a model for the construction of his book. It moreover demonstrates the trace of some Middle Persian lexemes in it. Accordingly, it concludes that the Āẕar Kaivānīs were familiar with the Zoroastrian Middle Persian literature, if perhaps only superficially. The article also scrutinizes where and when contact occurred between Zoroastrianism and the Āẕar Kaivānī school. As a result, it discusses the Zoroastrian concept of secret language and the necessity of its translation and interpretation, which provided the Āẕar Kaivānīs with the possibility to include the notion of a secret book in their own system of thought.
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