Saturday, 9 June 2007

kharad-e-Sarpich dar Farhang-e Iran

A free translation of an excerpt of: Manuchehr Jamali:

Kharad-e Sarpich dar Farhang-e Iran,

ISBN: 899-167-32-3, London 2003.
TITLE IN FARSI: خردِ سرپیچ در فرهنگ ایران
by Gita Arani*

Firdausi’s myth about ‘Rostam and Sohrab’ can help with the understanding of the Iranian culture: This myth is often wrongly understood, since it has obtained a certain ‘coloring’ since the Sassanian times which reflects the mind of that historical time-span.

In the Sassanian times there existed a God named ‘Zamane’. An attribute of this important God was that he did not possess any reasonability at all, and that he decided, without reason, about the fates of the people. The understanding of time, was strongly influenced by this unreliable God of the period.

Interpretations of the story about ‘Rostam and Sohrab’ tended to have problems with the meaningfulness of the notion of “keeping-something-in-a-measure” as a self-dealt good and bad in the own deeds and thoughts, such as how that idea occurred in the myth. The idea of “measure” or “keeping measure” as a primary point of the original myth had been overlooked, in spite of the fact that this had been the main point of ‘Rostam and Sohrab’ in those original old text sources as how Firdowsi himself had found them in the Sassanian time.

To see a moral of action in a self-dealt “measure” of doing what is good and what is bad, was not comprehensible in the epoch, because the Zoroastrian doctrines counted the good and the bad as the matters of decision and judgment that solely the God Ahura Mazda (the supreme creative deity) possessed as his domain.

The original meaning of “keeping something in measure” was harmony; not a pre-stabilized harmony, but a harmony that one creates or produces from oneself. This idea of a “measure” as a harmony, is basically an idea that stands against terms of power, since harmony in the culturally original meaning based upon the acceptance of plurality and manifoldness.

One can pigeonhole this notion, if one decides to see “measure” as similar to “perfection”. But “measure” is an opposite term to the Abrahamic conceptions of “perfection”, since in the terms of the Abrahamic religions, power and eternity are being produced by God in his absolute might. “Measure” signifies a contrary to absoluteness ( = un-endless, in Persian,
un-endless = without measure), for “measure” always weighs against (or weighs with) something, und is thus flexible and relative.

Absolute power cannot be separated from perfection, and vice versa without perfection and power there is no absoluteness. But in the instance of weighing something against something else, and setting standards by the process of weighing the one against the other, absoluteness does not exist, complete knowledge does not exist, and a perfect good ceases to exist; for example, you lose the miracle stories at the instance where “measure” sets the standard.

Eternal power is seen as something positive and grand. That what is regarded as the qualities of God will without question also be considered as something positive within a society or a policy. Such pictures mirror themselves in these conceptions.

When Rostam loses the first battle against Sohrab, he asks God to help him. He beseeches God to restore the limitless strength that he had once possessed, which he had given up long before. He asks for this type of strength, because he wants to win. But in the moment where Rostam receives a limitless strength, he loses his ability to love and his ability to distinguish. The limitlessness in the strength or in the might causes that he completely loses the ability to understand and to perceive. Rostam does not feel any love, he cannot distinguish and cannot discern: He fails to recognize that Sohrab is his son, and kills Sohrab.

The moral of this myth about Rostam and his son Sohrab is, that people are only able to love, that they are only able to discern and to be giving, when they have “measure” and harmony. The ability of a person to decide her- or himself about good and evil within his inner considerations, is the main point of focus here. The victory is no victory. It’s not even a victory if in some other place something desirable had been created.

Not knowing about the background of the term of “measure”, is the reason why a lot of interpretations of “Rostam and Sohrab” were not satisfying. That is, usually the story is understood so, that when the old Rostam kills the young Sohrab, it would mean that the old (for example: the old cultural foundations) are seeking to destroy the young and the new - that the old seeks to win over the young with artifice and trickery. The claim that the story can be understand that way does actually exist in the minds of a range of Iranian modernists. But this is a lack of knowledge, which also leads to an underestimation of the Shahnameh epos.

In the contemporary belief of the Sassanian time, the time-god Zamane loves and hates without any reason, and he also decides about the fates and destinies of the people in that unreasonable manner. This implied that everything that happens in the world and to the individuals live all based on a source of non-reason. In reality it is so that people cannot, with reason or will, find a real sense in the own meaning and in the outer events. That is, people do not see a logical connection between their actions, their punishments and their experienced favors. This lack of ability reflects itself in this image of a God.
... [this is not the revised full excerpt yet...]

See cover: and BACK of cover, illustrations on back by FARANGIS**
**you can view works of Farangis at:
* Gita Arani, web editor of

1 comment:

Moslem said...

visit this link:
it is in English
and this link:
is in persian.