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A History of Muslim Philosophy


The last of these is contemporaneous with the rise of the Achaemenian power in the sixth century B. C. Possibly when Old Dari, i.e., the language of the coins and inscriptions of the Achaemenians, was current in the western and southern regions of the country, namely, Media and Parsa, Avestic happened to be the language of the eastern or at any rate of the north-eastern provinces of Ariana.

Philologically speaking, the Avestic language runs parallel to and is con­temporaneous with Sanskrit and, apparently, the origin of both these languages can be traced back to yet another ancient language which was perhaps the original language of the Indo-Aryan Aryan stock.

The language of the coins and inscriptions of the Achaemenians, ever since they came to power in the middle of the sixth century B.C., is distinctly Aryan in character and is known as Old Dari. This language is also con­temporaneous with Avestic, and#039; the growth and development of the two dates back to the same age. There are reasons to believe that when Avestic was passing through the early stages of development in the eastern provinces of the Aryan plateau the Old Dari language was also making headway in the west and south-west of Ariana.

With the establishment of the Achaemenian Empire the people of Ariana suddenly found themselves to be the neighbours of various Semitic nations of western Asia including the regions of western Ariana. The Semitic languages made an inroad into the country and their influence was so strong that the Aramaic language and script were officially adopted by the Aryans. The Achaemenian kings were men of liberal views and they granted full freedom of belief to their subject races as well as liberty to develop their own languages. That is why the cuneiform Achaemenian inscriptions are recorded not only in Old Dari but also a parallel translation of the same runs in the Syriac, Elamite, Nabataean, and Aramaic languages.

The establishment of the Achaemenian Empire saw the people of western Ariana divided into two main groups, namely, the Medes and the Daris ("Parsis"). It appears certain that either they spoke the same tongue, i.e., Old Dari, or their languages bad very close kinship with each other. We find no traces of the Median language in the Achaemenian inscriptions. Apparently, if the Medes had spoken a different language, the Achaemenian emparors who had employed the Syriac, Elamite, and Nabataean languages in their inscriptions would certainly not have ignored Median. Moreover, a couple of words of this language and the names of the Median chiefs that have come down to us suffice to establish the close affinity of Median with Old Dari.

From 330 B.C. when the Macedonians conquered Ariana, Greek became the official language of the country and continued to enjoy that status for a long time. Right down to the Christian era Greek is the only language to be seen in the Seleucid and Parthian writings. Needless to say that during this

span of three centuries and a half the Aryan languages continued to flourish. Old Dari, however, is an exception, which gradually went out of use. We can witness definite marks of decay in the Old Dari writings of the later Achaemenian period in contrast with those of the earlier one.

At the dawn of the Christian era we find two languages in the Aryan plateau running parallel to each other. One of these grew and developed in the eastern regions. This has always been called "Dari" by the Aryans. The other which flourished in the western parts of the country was known as "Pahlawi." These two languages have come down to our own times. Many dialects of "Dari" still continue to exist in the eastern regions of the Aryan plateau as far as the Chinese frontiers; the most important of these are spoken in the Pamir region.

The Pahlawi language has lived in the form of verse known as "Fahlaviy­yat," in the books written in Dari on the art of poetry and in dialects spoken in the north, south, and west of the country.

The above-mentioned two languages have very intimate relationship and these have apparently stemmed from the same origin. A number of Aramaic words, however, entered Pahlawi and these have been known as "Huzvares_h" or "Zuwaris_hn." These words found their way also into books of lexicography. In the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent these have been erroneously given the name of the "Zend and Pazand" language. "Dari" was too far away to receive the impact of the Aramaic language. On the contrary, it accepted the influence of the eastern languages such as Tukhari, Sughdian, and Khwarizmi.

At first the Aramaic script was adopted for both the languages. Later, however, a change took place and certain Aramaic letters were put together in Pahlawi to form what later came to be known the Pahlawi script.

The Orientalists did not fully grasp the significance of these subtle technical differences and they have been treating old Pahlawi and Dari as one language. Consequently, they have been employing the terms Northern Pahlawi or the Parthian Pahlawi for the later language. In recent times, however, some of them have defined it as the Parthian language whereas Pahlawi itself has been referred to as the Southern or Sassanian Pahlawi.

The number of the extant pre-Islamic works of these two languages is very small. The most important ancient work in Dari consists of the Manichaean texts and translation of parts of the Avesta into old Dari known as "Pazand." The contemporary Dari has also been employed in some of the inscriptions of Sassanian kings.

Both Dari and Pahlawi possessed literature of their own before the advent of Islam. This literature, unfortunately, has not come down to us.

The history of the earliest Aryan dynasties during the Islamic period begins from the year 205/820. The dynasties which sprang up in the eastern regions raised the structure of their national politics on the basis of language. Since the language of these tracts was "Dari," the literature produced in it was bound to outshine Pahlawi literature.


In 429/1038 the Saljiiq Turks poured out of Turkestan to invade Ariana. They gradually conquered the whole country. Since they hailed from the east and their officials also belonged to this region, it was natural that they should adopt "Dari Dari" as their Court language, which they carried to the farthest corners of Ariana. Consequently, in the first quarter of the fifth/ eleventh century, Dari had attained the status of the common literary language of the whole country. It gained supremacy in other regions also where Pahlawi had been the popular spoken language till then. From this date Dari became the undisputed literary language of Ariana and, like many other dialects pre­valent in the country, Pahlawi was reduced to the status of a dialect. The last vestiges of Pahlawi in the form of inscriptions and coins in Tabaristan in the north of Ariana date back to the middle of the fifth/eleventh century.

The first specimens of Pahlawi literature which belong to the early centuries of the Hijrah consist of a number of books of religious nature which the Aryan Zoroastrians had written with the specific object of preserving their Canon Law. These books were taken to the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent when the Zoroastrians migrated there. European scholars have been publishing their texts since the last century. Amongst these, certain books are claimed to have belonged originally to the pre-Islamic Sassanian era. There is ample evidence, however, to prove that these were composed during the Islamic period.

What is now known of Pahlawi literature is confined to these very books and treatises. They suggest that Pahlawi literature had, at any rate towards the end of the Sassanian period, flourished on a vast scale. It is an undeniable fact that, while during the four hundred years which immediately preceded the Saljoq period, Dari had been recognized as the literary language of the country, Pahlawi had flourished in the north, south, and west of the present­day Ariana. Of this only a specific form of verse known as "Fahlaviyyat" has come down to us, the quatrains of Baba Tahir-i `Uryan of Hamadan being its most remarkable specimen.



Haji Mohammad Rahat

Library:

Haji Mohammad Rahat

Author:

i Hasanjan











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