Sacred-Texts  Zoroastrian Texts  Dadestan-i Denig Index  Next 

Dadestan-i Denig ('Religious Decisions')

Translated by E. W. West, from Sacred Books of the East, volume 24, Oxford University Press, 1880.


Through the name and power and assistance of the creator Ohrmazd and all good beings, all the heavenly and earthly angels, and every creature and creation that Ohrmazd set going for his own angels and all pertaining to the celestial spheres.
To those of the good religion, who are these inquirers owing to devout force of demeanor and strength of character, the type of wisdom and standard of ability -- and of whom, moreover, the questions, seeking wisdom, contemplating good works, and investigating religion, are specified the blessing and reply of Manuschihar, son of Yudan-Yim, are these: -- 2. That is, forasmuch as with full affection, great dignity, and grandeur you have blessed me in this inquiring epistle, so much as you have blessed, and just as you have blessed, with full measure and perfect profusion, may it happen fully likewise unto you, in the first place, and to your connections, separately for yourselves and dependents; may it come upon you for a long period, and may it be connected with a happy end.
As to that which you ordered to write about wishes for an interview and conversation with me, and the friendliness and regard for religion of yourselves and our former disciple (lanmanak kadmon) -- who is a servant of the sacred beings (yazdano) and a fellow-soldier in struggling with the fiend, alike persistent in reliance upon the good religion of Mazda-worship -- I am equally desirous of that one path of righteousness when its extension is to a place in the best existence, and equally hopeful of resurrection (akhezisno) at the renovation of the best existence. 4. As to the interview and important conversation of that disciple of ours (manak), and his going, and that also which he expounded of the religion -- that of him who is intimate in interview and conversation with him who is wise and righteous the stunted good works are then more developing -- and as to the degree of praise which you ordered to write concerning me, much greater than reason, and the important statements full of the observations of friendship as to kind regards, my course about these is also that which leads to gratitude.
That which you ordered to write about the way of knowing and understanding not being for any one else but for your servant, was owing to your affection, and for the sake of kind regard; but on account of the importance of truth it is more expressly to be regarded as being proper to write also to other spiritual men, as to the learning which is more fully studied by them. 6. For even with the perplexing struggle of the fiend, and the grievous devastation and collapse (nizorih) which have happened to religious people, after all, through the persistence (khvaparih) of the sacred beings even now there are pontiffs (radano), priests, high-priests, judges, and also other religious leaders of those of the religion in various quarters. 7. Moreover, the other priests and spiritual men here enumerated have well considered the commentary (zand) of the text (mansar) [scripture] which is muttered, are acquainted with opinions explaining the religion, and are, in many places, the cause of preferring good works; with whom also, on account of their understanding and knowing about such opinions, the sacred beings are pleased.
The desires expressed, and the good wishes as to what is mine and has happened to me, which you ordered to write, are likewise marks of friendship and kind regard, and owing to them a like measure of friendship and kind regard becomes your own.
As to that which you ordered to write in much friendship and commendation and profusely about me as regards the administration of the realm (keshvar dastobarih), of the unity without counterpart (dadigarih), and the singleness co-extensive with any duality -- if the writing of that, too, were owing to your friendship, even then it seemed to me disquieting, owing to this being so much praise. 10. If in these times and countries there be an understanding of the time and a boasting about any one, if it be graceful as regards him who is a leader of the religion (dino peshupai) of long-continued faith, I consider it not suitable for myself. 11. Though the praise of a leader (sardar), raised by agreeable voices, is uttered about me, yet I am not pleased when they extol my greatness more than that of their own leader; for my wish is for that praise which is due to my own rank and similar limits, and seems suitable to me; and humility in oneself is as correct as grandeur among inferiors.
That which is about the lengthy writing of questions, as to your worldly circumstances (stihaniha) and worldly affairs, has also shown this, that I should write a reply at a time in which I have leisure. 13. That is more important on account of your well-expressed questions and boldness about ambiguous answers, and your ardent desire for the setting aside of time; for the setting aside, or not beginning, of a reply is implied. 14. But owing to the perplexing struggle on account of the fiend there is little leisure for quick and searching thought, and owing to that which is undecided there is little for indispensable (frezvaniko) work.
As to a reply at a period of leisure time, the occurrence of the time appointed is manifested in everything, apart even from the kind regards of friendship, and the collection of information whereby, owing to my little leisure, it is declared unto you. 16. And I have, too, this confidence, that your questions are written with religious faith and desiring religious decision; and in the reply the statement of reasons from revelation (dino) is manifold, for guidance which is not destitute of wisdom and which is without risk from every kind of importunity.
And this same epistle came in the month Tishtar, at such season as, owing to entreaties for three years from the country-folk (desikano), and the burden of troubles of the offspring (sarako) of those of the good religion, the much importunity for arranging what was undecided among them -- which, inasmuch as I had no power about investigating that trouble and suffering, was the more indispensable -- the arrangements for the preservation and education of disciples, and many private matters which had accumulated, I obtained no opportunity for properly looking over these same questions till the month Shahrewar, when I came to Shiraz and had at various times a little leisure.
And I looked over these same questions; and when I saw the compact writing (ham-dadakiha-yektibunishnih) it then seemed to me more important to make each chapter of the questions separate and more explanatory. 19. And I gave the questions to a writer, in the same copy which you ordered to write, and instructed him to write the various chapters, every single question in one chapter; and the several opinions, both due to my acquaintance with the religion and my remembrance in perfection, both of the decisions (dastobarih) of the ancients and as regards wisdom, are the replies I intend to write below the questions.
When there is nothing in such as you ask, concerning which I consider such otherwise, as I write, than what is like that which was once advisedly our different opinion from those high-priests of the ancients who were better and wiser, and have become our lord (ahvo), master (rado), and high-priest, I have written that, even though the usual decision on the same subject is such as our high-priests, who are of our family, have maintained in particular. 21. Afterwards, moreover, about the sayings of that high-priest whose custom is otherwise there is no difference of opinion expressed; and if there be any one for whose opinion I have acquired perfect reverence, a priestly man acquainted with the religion, who understands and who manages intelligently, by holding in reverence the ancient treatises and truth, and the sayings of the high-priests, whatever of his is to the purpose, as regards the reply, this also is written as successful illustration.
If owing to such cause it be not fully perceived, or regarding the decision it be not clear, it is chiefly not owing to the incompleteness of the decision of revelation in clearness of demonstration and correctness of meaning, but owing to our incomplete attainment to understanding the authoritative decrees (nikezak fragufto) of the religion. 23. From the imperfection (avehih) of that also which is asked of us the hasty thinking, notably therein, owing to the grievousness of the times, is even till now devoid of a distinct knowledge, interpreting the texts about the compassion of the good spirits, and regarding a clearer demonstration of the exposition of revelation which is thereby more fully declared, as regards religious practice, from two sources, one is from the treatises which are an exposition of the rules and wisdom of the leader of the religion, and one -- which is more descriptively expressed (madi-ganotar hankhetunto) -- is the writings (vutako) of various glorified ancients, those who were the great leaders of those of the primitive faith [paoiryo-tkaesha]. 24. Owing to that, as their writings (nipikan) about the demonstration of reasons, on account of depth and minute wording, are not well known, even to minute observers and penetrative (vehramako) understandings, and through the little diffusion (frajo-padikhuih), likewise, of difficult words, there may be doubts among the less intelligent, so, about the purport of these same questions, if there be anything which is wanted by you more clear and more plain in meaning, or a nearer way to a true interpretation, not without clearness, of any decision, of a learned leader of the religion, I will give a reply, whenever you ask and I am able, so far as my knowledge and want of power permit.
When one has to observe the nature of the attributes (goharano) of the sacred beings the investigator's great advantage is the perfection, peace, equipment with righteousness, and fiend-destroying power of his own people; and since you are made aware of the result of wishes and actions, and are directed by me, many new blessings also arise from you.
That which is written to you yourselves and unto all, in the beginning and even the end, is completely adapted to your own several wants; may it have an exalted end, with one courier (ae-barido) and continuously from beginning to end, and also perpetually!
A fair copy (burzishniko pachino) of the questions, as well as the replies, is this; so that, when there is nothing in it which owing to that cause is different, I am of opinion as is here written.


First you ask thus: Why is a righteous man created better than the stars and moon and sun and fire of Ohrmazd, and is called in revelation greater and better than the spiritual creation, and also than that which is worldly?
The reply is this, that the greatness and goodness of advance in wisdom and just judgment over the creatures arise from proficiency (hunar). 3. Justice is the one good proficiency over the creatures, the means of wisdom are great, and praise bestowed is the most effectual performance of what is desirable (kamishn-karih). 4. For all three are mutually connected together; since the manifestation of justice is through wisdom, and its advantage is the performance of what is desirable for the creator; wisdom is the performance of what is desirable for the requirements of the creator, and its weapon (zeno) is justice; and the desire of the creator, which is progress, is in wisdom with justice. 5. All three are great among the creatures, and their lodgment in the superior beings and righteous men is spiritual, in the spirit which is the pure guardian angel [farohar], in the understanding for encountering, averting, smiting, and prostrating (khvapak) the fiend, in the army of angels, and in the sovereignty of the far-seeing (dur-venako) spirit, Ohrmazd; and, materially, in the worldly equipment and mutual connection of body and life. 6. And their appliances are the wisdom and worldly efficacy of treatises on the wise adoption of good thoughts, good words, and good deeds, and the relinquishment and discontinuance of evil thoughts, evil words, and evil deeds. 7. And their acquirer is the worldly ruler who is providing for Ohrmazd, and approving and stimulating the pure religion, a praiser of the good and pure creator, and a director of persistence in destruction of the fiend. 8. And in the promulgation (rubako-dahishnih) of the good and religious liturgy (mansar), the coming of the good cause of the resurrection, and the production of the renovation of the universe [Frashegird] are his cooperation and his own thanksgiving; and over the creatures of this prior world he is a guardian, defender, and manager.
And such rulers are great and pre-eminent; yet every man is not for that greatness, but it is mentioned as to superior beings and concerning righteous men, in whom it has arisen, and the best are the three who are the beginning, middle, and end of the creation. 10. One is the pure man, Gayomard, who was its first rational praiser; he in whose keeping was the whole creation of the sacred beings, from its beginning and immaturity unto the final completion of the worldly creatures, over which was the exercise of goodness of his well-destined progeny, such as Hooshang, Takhmorup, Yim [Jamshed], and Faridoon, such as the apostles of the religion, like Zartosht, Aushedar, and Aushedar-mah, and the producers of the renovation of the universe, like Saoshant, Roshanp-chashm, and Khur-chashm. 11. The approver of the enterprises (rubak-dahishniha) of cooperators, the purely-praising and just worshipper of the sacred beings through the strength of the spirit, the disabler of the worldly activity of the fiend as regards worldly bodies, and the one of pure religion -- which is his charge (spor), the revelation of the place of the beneficent spirit and of the destruction of the depravity of the evil spirit, the subjugation (khvapishno) of the fiend, the completion of the triumph of the creator, and the unlimited progress of the creatures -- is the upholder of Mazda-worship. 12. And likewise through the goodness of Gayomard, which is the begetting of Zartosht, he is also just; likewise through the goodness of Saoshant, by which he is the progeny of Zartosht, he is also progressive in every good thought, good word, and good deed, more than the creatures which are produced with a hope of the religion, and equally thankful. 13. And one is the producer of bodies, the renovator (Frashegar) Saoshant, who is the putter down, with complete subjugation from the world, of the glorification of fiends and demons, and of the contention with angels in apostasy and heterodoxy of various kinds and unatoned for; and the completer of the renovation [Frashegird] through the full continuance of the glorification of the angels, and the perfect continuance of the pure religion.
And through that excellent, unblemished, brotherly work such a ruler may be seen above the sun with swift horses, the primeval luminaries, and all removal of darkness, the advance of illumination which is the display (tojishno) of the days and nights of the world. 15. Regarding the same completion of the renovation of the universe it is said in the revelation of the Mazda-worshippers, that this great light is the vesture of the like righteous men.


The second is that which you ask thus: For what purpose is a righteous man created for the world, and what manner is it necessary for him to exist in the world?
The reply is this, that the creator created the creatures for progress, which is his wish; and it is necessary for us to promote whatever is his wish, so that we may obtain whatever is our wish. 3. And, since that persistent creator is powerful, whatever is our wish, and so far as we remain very faithful, such is as it were deserving of his wish, which is for our obtainment of whatever is our wish.
The miracle of these creatures was fully achieved (avorido) not unequally, and the gain (guaftako) also from the achievement of the same miracle is manifest; that is, achieving, and knowing that his achievement is with design (chim) and his desire is goodness, when the designed achievement, which is his creature, and also the goodness, which is his wish, are certain, and likewise, owing to the perfect ability which is due to the creator, the wish is achieved, it is manifest. 5. And, afterwards, it is decided by wisdom that he has achieved it, and the creatures, as perfected for the complete progress which is his wish, lapse into evil; and since when evil exists good becomes the subjugation of evil -- for when evil is not complete, and after it is expressly said that his creatures are created for his own will, the progress due to subjugations of evil is on account of the good completed -- it is similarly testified, in accordance with the will aforesaid, that it is achieved.
The creatures are for the performance of what is desirable for the creator, and the performance of what is desirable for the creator is necessary for two purposes, which are the practice of worship and contention. 7. As the worship is that of the persistent creator, who is a friend to his own creatures, and the contention is that with the fiend -- the contender who is an enemy to the creation of the creator -- that great worship is a pledge, most intimate to one's self, of the utmost contention also, and a pledge for the prosperity owing to the friend subjugating by a look which is a contender with the enemy, the great endeavor of the acquirers of reliance upon any mortals whatever. 8. For when the persistent one accomplished that most perfect and wholly miraculous creation of the lord, and his unwavering look -- which was upon the coming on of the wandering evil spirit, the erratic, unobservant spirit -- was unmingled with the sight of an eye, he made a spirit of observant temperament, which was the necessary soul, the virtuous lord of the body moving into the world. 9. And the animating life, the preserving guardian spirit, the acquiring intellect, the protecting understanding, the deciding wisdom, the demeanor which is itself a physician, the impelling strength, the eye for what is seen, the ear for what is heard, the nose for what is smelt, the mouth for recognizing flavor, the body for approaching the assembly (pidram) of the righteous, the heart for thinking, the tongue for speaking; the hand for working, the foot for walking, these which make life comfortable, these which are developments in creating, these which are to join the body, these which are to be considered perfected, are urged on by him continuously, and the means of industry of the original body are arranged advisedly. 10. And by proper regulation, and the recompense of good thoughts, good words, and good deeds, he announced and adorned conspicuous, patient, and virtuous conduct; and that procurer of the indispensable did not forget to keep men in his own true service and proper bounds, the supreme sovereignty of the creator.
And man became a pure glorifier and pure praiser of that all-good friend, through the progress which is his wish. 12. Because pure friendship is owing to sure meditation on every virtue, and from its existence no harm whatever arose, pure glorifying is owing to glorifying every goodness, and from its existence no vileness whatever arose; and pure praising is owing to all prosperity, and from its existence no distress whatever arose. 13. And pronouncing the benedictions he is steadfast in the same pure friendship, just glorifying, and expressive praising, which are performed even as though Vohuman were kept lodging in the thoughts, Srosh in the words, and Ard in the actions. 14. That, moreover, which is owing to the lodgment of Vohuman in the thoughts is virtuously rushing unto true propitiation from the heart, and keeping selfishness away from the desires; the lodgment of Srosh in the words is owing to him who is intelligent being a true speaker, and him who is unintelligent being a listener to what is true and to the high-priests; and the lodgment of Ard in the actions is declared to be owing to promoting that which is known as goodness, and abstaining, from that which one does not know. 15. And these three benefits which have been recited are sent down (farostako) in two ways that the ancients have mentioned, which are that deliberately taken and that they should deliberately leave, whose means are wisdom and proper exertion.
And his (man's) high-priest is he whose instigation is to keep him truly in accordance with the revelation (dino) of the sacred beings, and is the origin of his pure meditation which is truly through goodness like Vohuman's. 17. As the religious of the ancients have religiously said, that of him who keeps the goodness of Vohuman lodging in the thoughts the true way is then that of the good spirit. 18. The Mazda-worshipper understands the will of the creator in the true way, and grows and acquires by performing what is desirable for the creator, which obtains the benefit of the renovation.
A more concise reply is this, that a righteous man is the creature by whom is accepted that occupation which is provided for him, and is fully watchful in the world as to his not being deceived by the rapacious fiend. 20. And as a determiner, by wisdom, of the will of the creator -- one who is himself a propitiator and understander, and a promoter of the understanding of goodness -- and of whatever pertains to him (the creator), he is a giver of heed thereto; and it is necessary for him to be thus, so that such greatness and goodness may also be his more securely in the spiritual existence.