Man’s Eschatology according to Mahabharata and the Epistle of Arda Viraf

Sajjad Dehghanzadeh / Assistant Professor of the Department of Religions and Mysticism,   Azarbaijan Shahid Madani University
Simin Yari / Master’s Degree, Religions and Mysticism, Azarbaijan Shahid Madani University
Nastaran Habibi-Khiavi / Associate Professor of the Department of Religions and Mysticism, University of Tehran
Received: 2019/04/13 - Accepted: 2019/09/14

One of man’s theoretical reactions to the thirst for immortality is the “belief in the afterlife” whose most prominent manifestation is represented by religious literature. Mahabharata and the epistle of Arda Viraf are two classical religious texts that belong to Hindu and Zoroastrian cultures, respectively. Yudhishtira and Viraf, who basically symbolize man’s existence in two different religious traditions, experience and describe human condition in the other world in the form of a spiritual journey. Comparing and contrasting these two religious texts, this article concludes that according to both texts, death is inevitable, but undesirable—though, not in the sense of annihilation, but in the sense of a passage from one existential state to another. These two religious texts consider good conduct, good thought and good speech play an important role in human happiness, and the lack of divine essence and material bondage is ascribed to lack of insight. However, unlike Mahabharata which explains man’s end according to both the doctrine of Saṃsāra (rebirth) and the idea of paradise and hell, the epistle of Arda Viraf merely speaks about the dwelling in paradise or in hell after the separation of soul form the body and crossing Chinvat Bridge. 

Keywords: the epistle of Arda Viraf, paradise, hell, death, Mahabharata. 


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