What are the Persian Revayats/Rivayats? (TMY – Jame Jamshed of 26-3 & 2-4-17)

  1. The Persian Revayats are an important part of Zoroastrian religious texts. In terms of authenticity, they are not considered as authoritative as Avesta and Pahlavi writings, but still they have an importance of their own. The word Revayat literally means “customs, traditions and practices.” They also contain Persian translations of some texts like Bahman Yasht and Jamaspi.
  2. After the Zoroastrians came from Iran to India about 1200 years back, there was a long period of time, when they were not in touch with their brethren in Iran. It was in the early 15th century that they became properly aware of Zoroastrian presence in Iran.
  3. Thereafter, priests in India, when they needed guidance in religious and related matters, they accumulated their questions and sought guidance from the Iranian priests. From the 15th to the 17th centuries, priests from India sent their representatives to Iran, with hundreds of queries on religion, ceremony, scriptures, customs, and practices to the priests of Iran.
  4. Lengthy and detailed replies in Persian language were received from time to time. These replies were collected and the literature thus formed constitute the ‘Persian Revayats.’ They were named after the emissary, that is, the person who was sent with the questions.
  5. During the course of three centuries about twenty-two Revayats came to India. The first Revayat was brought in 1478 A.C. by one Nariman Hoshang, a resident of Broach, and hence is known as ‘The Revayat of Nariman Hoshang.’ Similarly, other Rivayats are known after the persons who brought them. For instance, Revayats of Kama Bohra, Faredun Marazban, Kaus Kama, Kamdin Shapur and Bahman Punjya. Some Revayats are anonymous, as the identity of the person who brought them is not known.
  6. In the 17th century, most of these Revayats were collected, and classified subject-wise by Hormazdyar Framarz, Darab Hormazdyar, and Barzo Kamdin.
  7. Recently the K.R.Cama Oriental Institute has re-published the English translation of Hormazdyar Framarz’s Revayats, which is a collection of several Revayats. It was done by the great scholar Er. Bamanji N. Dhabhar, and first published almost a hundred years ago.
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