August 5, 2004
* Sekandar, Iran and Aryans
Dear Mr. Davis,
I read your very interesting interview with Mr. Javid of the iranian.com.
huge conservation project]
I have three questions to ask you :
You mention the name of Alexander (the Great) as "Sekandar". This intrigued
me in that I recently watched a DVD movie of American director John Huston called "The
Man who would be King" (1975) based on the poem written by
writer Rudyard Kipling.
Interestingly in this film about two Freemasons who pledge to seek
fortune and glory in a remote region of Afghanistan known as Kafirestan
discover a tribe which hopes for the return of "Sikander",
whose identity is unwillingly usurped by one of the leading characters
played by Sean Connery.
My question is whether "Sikandar" or "Sekandar" is
the Indian equivalent of the Persian name " Eskandar" for Alexander
and if so why doesn't Ferdowsi use the Persian pronounciation ?
short tale and Hustons film suggest that the order of Free Masons may
very well date back to the Times of Alexander. In the film
the followers of Sikander obey blindly to a group of Priests who speak "ordu" and
wear complete white suits very much like the Zoroastrian priests or Parsis
in India. Does the Shahnameh or any other Persian litterary work refer
to anything that could hint that the Freemasonery has Zoroastrian origins ?
It should be noted that Kipling was a free mason himself ...
My last question
is on the name Iran, which I believe the Shahnameh has one verse " Choh
Iran nabashad taneh man mabad" aka " If
Iran was to dissapear so should my body and soul". Given some debate
on the fact that the name Persia was changed to Iran in 1935 as "The
Land of the Aryans", I wanted to know whether this is just a linguistic
modification (of the name Persia to Iran ) in Latin or from a european perspective
the name "Iran" refered to in Farsi as "Pars" or another
name by Ferdowsi ?
My personal understanding is that the word "Iran" was
used by Persians in Farsi even before 1935 to designate their country without
connotation (particularily not a Nazi or anti semitic connotation) just
as Germans would say "Deutchland" ( without the ' Uber Alles
not "Allemagne" as the French, or "Germany" as the
British or Americans.
I also wanted to ask you whether the word "Aryan" refers to
a race or linguistic entity? You mentioned that The word Iran originally
referred to the inhabitants of the country, yet as you know the Iranian
plateau was and is composed of different ethnical groups which even at
the times of the Aechemenid Kings was composed of Persians and Medes.
As you may know French linguist George
Dumezil (1898-1986) a member of the Academie Francaise, was Professor
of Indo-European Civilization in the College de France and philosopher
Claude Lévi-Strauss both worked on Indo European languages and
Dumezil in particular claims that the term "Aryan" is
a linguistic entity and not a race which explains why Medes
and Persians as well as other indo-european tribes like the Caucasian
Ossets (For the anecdote Joseph Stalins mother I believe was an Osset
and therefore spoke a persian dialect) spoke derivatives of the
Aryan/Iranian language and shared common beliefs transcripted in their
Mythology. Thus Interestingly some Europen languages like Corsican,
German or English have Indo-European roots here are a few
"Koenig" (German for King), and "King" in
English would derive from the Persian word "Kia" meaning "Crown".
Similarily the word "Daughter" is "Tochter" in
German and "Dokhtar" in Farsi/Parsi.
In addition Dumezil in his essay "Mitra-Varuna:
An Essay on Two Indo-European Representations of Sovereignty" I
quote: "Dumezile demonstrates that every Indo-European religious
and social system was structured according to three primary functions:
sovereignty, war, and fertility. "Mitra-Varuna, a penetrating
inquiry into the first of these functions - religious and political
sovereignty. Dumezil shows how, from Vedic India to Ireland from Caucasia
to Rome, and from Iran to Old Germany, the sovereign gods and heroes
always appear in couples: the creative but violent legislator and his
counterpart, the conservative guarantor of world order."
Also an author of "A
destiny of a King" Dumezil's observations were defended by Claude
Levi Strauss ( Himself a Jew ) when the former was accused of anti-semitism
for presenting his theories. Dumezil's work is not exact science and he never
claimed it was such, yet it offers an insight into Indo European Myths
I wanted to know based on your knowledge of the Shahnameh whether Ferdowsi's
Epic Poem responds to similar theories? [See reply: Iran in Shahnameh]