Chinvat Bridge

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The Chinvat Bridge [ʧinva:t] (Avestan Cinvatô Peretûm, "bridge of judgement" or "beam-shaped bridge"[1]) or the Bridge of the Requiter[2] in Zoroastrianism is the sifting bridge[3] which separates the world of the living from the world of the dead. All souls must cross the bridge upon death. The bridge is guarded by two four-eyed dogs. A related myth is that of Yama, the Hindu ruler of Hell who watches the gates of Hell with his two four-eyed dogs.

The Bridge's appearance varies depending on the observer's asha, or righteousness. As related in the text known as the Bundahishn, if a person has been wicked, the bridge will appear narrow and the demon Vizaresh will emerge[4] and drag their soul into the druj-demana (the House of Lies), a place of eternal punishment and suffering similar to the concept of Hell.[5] If a person's good thoughts, words and deeds in life are many, the bridge will be wide enough to cross, and the Daena, a spirit representing revelation, will appear and lead the soul into the House of Song. Those souls that successfully cross the bridge are united with Ahura Mazda. Often, the Chinvat Bridge is identified with the rainbow, or with the Milky Way galaxy, such as in Professor C.P. Tiele's "History of Religion ".[6] However, other scholars such as C.F. Keary and Ferdinand Justi disagree with this interpretation, citing descriptions of the Chinvat Bridge as straight upward, rather than curvilinear.[7][8]

Three divinities are thought to be guardians of the Chinvat Bridge: Sraosha (Obedience), Mithra (Covenant) and Rashnu (Justice).[5]

Alternate names for this bridge include Chinwad, Cinvat, Chinvar or Chinavat.[9]

The concept of the Chinvat bridge is similar to that of the As-Sirāt in Islam.

In Scripture[edit]

In the 71st chapter of the Avestan text, the Yasna, there is a description of the Chinvat Bridge.

Ŷatha vashi ashâum idha anghô ashava frapârayånghe urvânem tarô cinvatô peretûm vahishtahe anghêush ashava jasô ushtavaitîm gâthãm srâvayô ushtatâtem nimraomnô, (zôt u râspî,) ushtâ ahmâi ... gaêm mananghô! - [1]
As thou dost desire, O holy (one)! so shalt thou be, holy shalt thou-cause [thy] soul to pass over the Chinvat Bridge; holy shalt thou come into Heaven. Thou shalt intone the Gatha Ushtavaiti, reciting the salvation hail. - Avesta.org translation

The Vendidad also describes the Chinvat Bridge in fargard 19.

27. dâtare ... dva tâ dâthra bavaiñti dva tâ dâthra pârayeiñti dva tâ dâthra pairi-bavaiñti dva tâ dâthra paiti hañjaseñti mashyô astvaiñti anghvô havâi urune para-daidhyât.
28. âat mraot ahurô mazdå, pasca para-iristahe mashyehe pasca frasaxtahe mashyehe pasca pairithnem dereniñti daêva drvañtô duzhdånghô, thrityå xshapô vîusaiti ushi raocaiti bâmya gairinãm ashahvâthranãm âsenaoiti mithrem huzaênem hvarexshaêtem uzyôraiti,
29. vîzareshô daêvô nãma spitama zarathushtra urvânem bastem vâdhayeiti drvatãm daêvayasnanãm merezujîtîm mashyânãm, pathãm zrvô-dâtanãm jasaiti ýasca drvaite ýasca ashaone cinvat-peretûm mazdadhâtãm baodhasca urvânemca ýâtem gaêthanãm paiti-jaidhyeiñti dâtem astvaiñti anghvô.
30. hâu srîra kereta taxma huraodha jasaiti spânavaiti nivavaiti pasvaiti ýaoxshtavaiti hunaravaiti, hâ drvatãm akhem urvânô temô-hva nizarshaite, hâ ashâunãm urvânô tarasca harãm berezaitîm âsenaoiti tarô cinvatô peretûm vîdhârayeiti haêtô mainyavanãm ýazatanãm.- [2]
27. O Maker of the material world, thou Holy One! Where are the rewards given? Where does the rewarding take place? Where is the rewarding fulfilled? Whereto do men come to take the reward that, during their life in the material world, they have won for their souls?
28. Ahura Mazda answered: 'When the man is dead, when his time is over, then the wicked, evil-doing Daevas cut off his eyesight. On the third night, when the dawn appears and brightens up, when Mithra, the god with beautiful weapons, reaches the all-happy mountains, and the sun is rising
29. 'Then the fiend, named Vizaresha, O Spitama Zarathushtra, carries off in bonds the souls of the wicked Daeva-worshippers who live in sin. The soul enters the way made by Time, and open both to the wicked and to the righteous. At the head of the Chinwad bridge, the holy bridge made by Mazda, they ask for their spirits and souls the reward for the worldly goods which they gave away here below.
30. 'Then comes the beautiful, well-shapen, strong and well-formed maid, with the dogs at her sides, one who can distinguish, who has many children, happy, and of high understanding. 'She makes the soul of the righteous one go up above the Hara-berezaiti; above the Chinwad bridge she places it in the presence of the heavenly gods themselves. - [3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.sacred-texts.com/earth/pf/pf21.htm
  2. ^ Merriam-Webster, Inc. (1999). Doniger, W., ed. Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions. Merriam-Webster. p. 421. ISBN 9780877790440. 
  3. ^ Dawson, M. M. (2005). The Ethical Religion of Zoroaster. Kessinger Publishing. p. 237. ISBN 9780766191365. 
  4. ^ http://www.avesta.org/pahlavi/bund24.html#chap28
  5. ^ a b http://www.heritageinstitute.com/zoroastrianism/death/index.htm#chinvat
  6. ^ Tiele, C.P. History of Religion. London and Boston, 1877: p. 177.
  7. ^ C. F. Keary, Primitive Belief. Lond., 1882: p. 292.
  8. ^ Rawlinson, The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World: Parthia and Sassania. Gorgias Press LLC, 2002. ISBN 1-931956-47-2
  9. ^ http://www.avesta.org/zglos.html#Glos_C