copyright © 2007
Bashiri, Professor of History at the
Between1960 and 1963, Bashiri
studied English Language and Literature at
In1964, Bashiri left
Dr. Bashiri's areas of research are extensive. Below four areas of his expertise are briefly reviewed: Hedayat's Blind Owl, Firdowsi's Shahname, and the Sufic ghazals (sonnets) of Hafiz. He spent the first 15 years of his career working on a better understanding of Iran of the 1920's and 1930's and, in that context, the works of Sadeq Hedayat, especially his masterpiece, The Blind Owl. First, he translated Hedayat's short stories into English and eventually undertook the translation and analysis of The Blind Owl. A structuralist, Bashiri's views of Hedayat are thought provoking. By relating The Blind Owl to its two Indian sources, i.e., The Buddha Karita and The Tibetan Book of the Dead, he hypothesizes that Hedayat might have skillfully used the life of the Buddha and his quest for freedom as a subtext in the novella.
In order to understand Bashiri's study of the structure of the novella, it is helpful if the reader is familiar with The Blind Owl and with the contents and import of Hedayat's Indian sources. It also needs to be borne in mind that structural analysis merely describes how the work has been crafted. The work's artistic, socio-political, and literary values must be assessed separately. With that said, in the Tibetan materials, after the individual dies, his soul must recognize the Clear Light. In order to see the Clear Light, he must see through the attractive façade that Desire (read maya) projects to distract him. If he ignores the attractive images and concentrates on the Clear light, he will achieve freedom from the Wheel (nirvana).Otherwise he will be reborn. That is the principle. The process is somewhat more involved.
The attractive image that distracts
the individual is a reflection of his own past deeds. He sees his own soul
standing before the Lord of Death, offering him a handful of black pebbles.
Seeing this sign of attraction to earthly desires, the Lord of Death laughs out
loud. Frightened, the individual falls into a swoon. The soul of the
individual, too, fails to cross the
Translated into The Blind Owl,
this is how the subtext of the novella takes shape. The narrator fails to bring
down the wine flask because he is attracted to a scene in which his ethereal
double offers a stem of black lilies to an Odds-and-Ends
During his second life, the narrator
forces himself to recognize desire so that it cannot destine him to yet another
birth. To achieve his goal, he studies the manner and customs of all
those around him including his wife, his nanny, the odds-and-ends man, the
butcher, and the people of the city of
research on Firdowsi is centered on Firdowsi's use of the concept of the farr.
He distinguishes the farr as the fulcrum of
government among the Iranian peoples. In mythical times, he says, the farr distinguished the house of Tur
from the House of Iraj. In historical times, it has
sustained Iranian identity and bestowed continuity and longevity to the land
and people of
Dr. Bashiri has also contributed to our better understanding of the Sufic ghazals of Hafiz. He rejects the theory that the couplets in Hafiz's sonnets are haphazardly put together as one would put pearls on a string to make a necklace. He shows that each ghazal has a vigorous structure and is built around a defined theme; the themes are mostly, although not exclusively, centered on life in the khaneqah (cloister).He gives the relationship between the morshid (master) and the morid (disciple), in gugtaburun shudi ba tamashai mahi now, wherein the morshid reproaches the morid for abandoning the path for greener fields, as an example. He further states that the Sufic sonnets have been composed to meet the needs of a particular group and that understanding the structure of the Sufic ghazal might shed light on our analysis of the structure of the English sonnet.
recent contribution of Bashiri is about ancient
Several years before the fall of the
Soviet Union, Dr. Bashiri expanded his research and teaching to cover the
history and culture of
While teaching at the
Finally, while carrying out research
and teaching, Prof. Bashiri has also been involved in the administration of his
home University. Between 1975 and 1979, he was the head of the Middle East
Studies Department and later the South Asian Studies Department at the
Modern Iranian Philosophy: From Ibn Sina to Mulla Sadra Shirazi by Iraj Bashiri, Cognella Publishers, 2014.
The Blind Owl,, 3rd. revised translation, 2013.
Audible Audio Edition: Ancient Iran: Cosmology, Mythology, History by Iraj Bashiri, Cognella Publishers, 2013.
Ancient Iran: Cosmology, Mythology, History by Iraj Bashiri, Cognella Publishers, 2012.
The Impact of
(Also available at: http://www.angelfire.com/rnb/bashiri/ImpactEgyptIran/ImpactEgyptEng.pdf
Prominent Tajik Figures of the Twentieth Century, The International Borbad Foundation, 2003.(Also available at: http://www.angelfire.com/rnb/bashiri/TajikFigures/TajikFigures.pdf
The Samanids and the
Revival of the Civilization of the Iranian Peoples,
Firdowsi's Shahname: 1000 Years After, Academy of
From the Hymns of Zarathustra to the Songs of Borbad, author Part I; translated and edited Part II, Tajikistan National Commission for UNESCO, The Ministry of Culture of Tajikistan, and The International Borbad Foundation, 2003.(Available at: http://www.angelfire.com/rnb/bashiri/Zorobar/frame.html)
The History of a National Catastrophe, by Rahim Masov (translated from Tajiki by Iraj Bashiri),
The Nowruz Scrolls, republished in 4 languages (English, Persian, Tajiki, Russian), The Borbad Foundation of the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, Dushanbe, 2004. (Available at: http://www.angelfire.com/rnb/bashiri/NowRuztoc.html).
Kamal Khujandi: Epoch and Its Importance in the History of Central Asian Civilization, Tehran-Dushanbe, 1996. (Partially available at: http://www.angelfire.com/rnb/bashiri/IranIslam/IslamIran.html)
The Fiction of Sadeq Hedayat, Amir Kabir Institute of Iranian Studies, Mazda Publishers, 1984. (Partially available at: http://www.angelfire.com/rnb/bashiri/IranIslam/IslamIran.html)
Beginnings to AD 2000: A Comprehensive Chronology of
Persidskij yazykdla nachinaushchikh Osnovnoj kurs (trans. of Persian for Beginners by V. Bazukin), Nashriyyat-i Paivand Homa,
'To Be' as the Origin of Syntax: A Persian Framework, 1973. Bibliotheca Islamica, Middle Eastern Languages & Linguistics #2, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Persian for Beginners, 1972, 1975, 1981, 1991. Available at: http://www.angelfire.com/rnb/bashiri/Lessons/PfBindex.html)
Islamic Thought: The Interplay of Faith and Reason," in Abu Ali Sinaand His Contribution to the History of World Culture,
"The Role of Farr in Firdowsi's
Shahname: 1000 Years After,
"Mazdian Cosmology," in Zoroastrianism and Its Value in the Development of Civilization of Near and Middle East People, Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, et al, 2003, pp. 95-119. (Available at: http://www.angelfire.com/rnb/bashiri/mazdiancosmology/MazdianCosmology.html )
"Identities in Perspective: Ancient Roots of
Present-Day Conflicts," Spiritual Culture of Tajiks
and Its Importance in World History of Civilization,
"Muslims and Communists Vie for Power in Tajikistan," AACAR Bulletin, Vol. VI, No. 1, spring, 1993, pp. 7-12. (Available at: http://www.angelfire.com/rnb/bashiri/Neither/Neither.html )
"Hafiz' Shirazi Turk: A Structuralist's Point of View," The Muslim World, Part I, LXIX, no. 3, 1979, pp. 1788-197; Part II,LXIX, no. 4, 1979, pp. 248-268. (Available at: http://www.angelfire.com/rnb/bashiri/Hafiz/Hafiz.html)
"Hafiz and the Sufic Ghazal," Studies in Islam, Vol. XVI, no. 1, January 1979, pp. 34-69. (Available at: http://www.angelfire.com/rnb/bashiri/Hafiz/Gufta.html )
"The Message of Hedayat," Studies in Islam, January 1980, pp. 30-56. (Available at: http://www.angelfire.com/rnb/bashiri/BdOwl/owltalk.html )
"Russian Loanwords in Persian and Tajiki," Persian Studies in America, Studies in honor of Professor Mohammad Ali Jazayery, edited by Prof. Mehdi Marashi, Bethesda, Md: Iranbooks, 1994.