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Dadestan-i Denig ('Religious Decisions')

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


As to the thirty-seventh question and reply, that which you ask is thus: The measure that they measure good works with being revealed, how is it then when there is more, or not, done by us?
The reply is this, that every thought, word, and deed whose result is joy, happiness, and commendable recompense -- when a happy result is obtainable, and the exuberance (afzuno) of thought, word, and deed is important -- is well-thought, well-said, and well-done. 3. And for him the result of whose wish for good works is conclusively joy and exaltation of soul -- which are his attainment of recompense from the constantly-beneficial space, the immortal and unlimited, which shall never perish -- there is no measure of the multitude of good works. 4. For everyone by whom many are performed, and who engages in still more, appropriates the result more fully, and is more worthy; but it is not obtained for the completion of that which is a definite measure, therefore he does not obtain still more, and it is not necessary he should; and it is, moreover, not obtained even for the completion of a limit of unlimitedness.


As to the thirty-eighth question and reply, that which you ask is thus: What are the reason and cause of tying on the sacred thread-girdle (kusti) which, when they shall tie it on is said to be so greatly valuable, and when they shall not tie it the sin is so grievous?
The reply is this, that the all-good, most spiritual of spirits, and most ruling of rulers is the creator, and there is no need of troubles for men of the poor as to any wealth or anything, for all are his own. 3. And through his will as ruler, and all-powerful, he demands this of men, to remain properly skirted as a true servant not even bound -- which is due to that service, and also the indication of a servant as is seen and clearly declared in the ever-fixed (hamai-dado) religion and belief.
Formerly men paid homage through the will and worship, as it were more effectually, more essentially, and more suitably for the discreet; and every day spent in worship offered and homage paid they account as of the greatest use, particularly for observing the world, and understanding its character. 5. And as to him of whose offering of homage no worldly advantage whatever is apparent -- as fruit is apparent from trees, flavor from foods, fragrance from aromatic herbs, tint (bam) from colors, the good quality of spears from the forest, health from the patient (molvarakan), and decision from words -- but, audibly speaking, his head is lowered in sign of humility as though the head, which is uppermost in the body and in the most pre-eminent position, and is lowered as far even as the sole of the foot, which is lowermost in the body, salutes and is placed on the ground in thought about worship and desire of paying homage -- and the appearance which exists as regards himself through that lowliest (kihasto) servitude is in accordance with that which is apparent from trees, food, and the many other worldly advantages before recited -- whoever has offered homage and such advantageous (veshishnako) appearance is manifest -- even then that sign of humility and servitude is what great multitudes consider the offering of homage of a man more essential for hypocrisy (shedo).
But owing to that which happens when they plant a tree in the name of a sacred being and eat the produce, and practice other worldly labor of worldly advantage, owing also to work of this kind through the doing of which they preserve all the growing crops of the whole world, and through tillage and multitudinous cultivated plots (khustakiha) it is manifest that they should meditate inwardly (den minoyen). 7. A token and sign of worship is of great use, and a great assistance (banjishno) therein is this belt (band), which is called the Kusti, that is tied on the middle of the body.
The reasons of the assistance are numerous; and its first assistance is this, that as to him who -- as a worshipper of the sacred beings, owing to the undeceitful (akadba) religion whose indication is sagaciously propitiating with the purifying cup -- wears upon the body that spiritual, customary, and doctrinal indication of the sacred beings with a wisdom which is truly religion, his steadfastness and religious service of the sacred beings are audibly spoken thereby; even for the religious it is commanded, because it is an assisting motive of beneficial high-priests and such-like submitters to the commands of the religion of the sacred beings.
One is this, that, as the lowliest servant and greatest lord are steadily agreed, and it is beneficial when they (the servants) wear a belt upon the body as a sign of service -- because it is not the custom to grant that little at any time without guardianship -- the lapse of which service is also not a beneficial lapse, then those unbound are without a token of the lord's service.
One is this, that it is commanded in revelation to keep thought, word, and deed confined from sin by a belt, and just like a servant; for the sake of confinement of sins from purity of thought, whose dwelling is the heart, one is to wear the same belt, which is the token of a servant, on the middle of the body and before the heart; and the periodical (hangamikano) sight of the token and sign of confined sins, and of the constant reminder for one's own mind, is the necessity of wearing it as a belt which is very restraining from the sin in thought, word, and deed that is manifest even in experience; which wearing of the same belt is as a reason and cause of much remembrance of much sin, that in the same way is therefore a restraint of it.
One is this, that the ancients acquainted with religion have communicated these tidings (srobo) unto our ancestors and to us: 'When the destroyer came upon the creatures, the demons and witches (parikas) especially rushed up in the earth and atmosphere, and even to just below the position of the stars; and they saw multitudes of luminaries, and also the barricade and rampart of the glory of the religion, and the girdle (parvand) of the wishes and good works of all, when it is arrayed like a brilliant thread-girdle (kusti), and all its luminaries are girded (parvasto) by the girdle as the girdle of the omniscient wisdom has girded the all-intelligent angels.' 12. That great glory of the pure religion, solving doubts, became as beautiful and far-adorning as is stated in the liturgy (mansar) thus: 'The star-studded girdle (aiwiyangano) of the spirit-fashioned, good religion of the Mazda-worshippers.' 13. All the demons and fiends were terrified by the great glory of the religion, and it is said that, by the recital, practice, and promulgation of the whole routine of the enlightened religion, all those fiends are subdued, and the renovation of the universe is produced by the will of the patron spirits (ahvan). 14. Likewise, on account of that terror, none of the demons and fiends, who are the mightiest of the demons, rushed upon the creatures of that uppermost third of the sky, who are in purity and indestructibility. 15. And it (the girdle) [kusti] is commanded in revelation for men, more particularly for upholders of the religion, to be within the middle third and near to the uppermost third of the body.
One is this, that Yim the splendid [Jamshed], son of Vivangha, who in his worldly career was most prosperous in worldly affairs, a keeper away of all agitations of temper and all death, and a provider of freedom from decay and exemption from death, when he was deceived by the fiend was thereby made eager for supreme sovereignty instead of the service of Ohrmazd. 17. And about his administration (dadarih) of the creatures it is said he himself became cut away from radiant glory [khwarrah] by that fiendishness, and their cause of wandering (garinishno) is the demon, and mankind perishes in that wandering from plain and hill-side. 18. And his pardon originated from the fully-persistent creator; therefore he spoke and gave advice unto his successors as to the retribution of those who shall abandon the service of the creator; and therein is explained about the fortress of the angels, with the many proper actions which are the strength of the fortress, and about the proportional way it is strengthened when a belt worn on the waist is ordered for men by him -- the fully glorious ruler who was lord of the world, and also in gloriousness well-betokening the good creation -- and they likewise order it.
One is this, that just as through that reason, which is an appointment (pado-dahishno) that the sacred beings decreed, the sacred thread-girdle [kusti] was worn even before the coming of Zartosht the Spitaman, so after the coming of that messenger (vakhshvar) of the sacred beings, the righteous Zartosht -- who enjoined the commands of the good spirits and the exposition of the religion, with discourse praising the sacred beings and scriptures (avistako) about steadfastness in the good religion -- the same religious girdle is put on, with a religious formula [nirang], around the body, over the garment of Vohuman [i.e. the sudra]. 20. Because the same intimation, relative to girding (parvandishnik) is wisdom for which the race of the religion is so justly famed that innumerable people, with the same customs and equally proper girding, wear the sacred thread-girdle [kusti], the ceremonial belt of the religion and indication of the creator, on the middle of the body; and it becomes more destructive of the power of destruction, more obstructive of the way to sin, and more contesting (kastaktar) the will of the demons.
One is this, that he is unwise that has not worn it when that man has arrived in whose law no belting and no girdling are ordered, and more perplexing and more grievous destruction is so manifested at the time, that it is similar evidence to that exposition of revelation, the purport (aevaz) of whose question and reply is spoken thus: '"O creator! in whom is the manifestation of secretly-progressing destruction, that is, in whom is its progress?" And Ohrmazd spoke thus: "In him who is the guide of a vile religion; whoever it is who puts on a girdle [kusti] at most thrice (3-tumak) in a year, that is, he does not wear a sacred shirt [sudra] and thread-girdle [kusti], and his law also is this, that it is not necessary to wear them"' -- and when the law of no belting is so grievous that, when that law shall be accepted, it is observed that destruction is strengthened.
The same belt, kept on after the command of Yim [Jamshed], was the first token as regards which an annihilator of destruction is mentioned and established by law, and on both occasions destruction is more grievously manifest. 23. That which is more particularly important is such as the destroyer of destruction, Yim the splendid, advised, which the high-priest of the good, Zartosht the Spitaman, mentioned thus: 'The sacred thread-girdle [kusti] is as a sign of the service of the sacred beings, a token of sin ended, and a presage of beneficence; and one is to put it on and to gird it, in the neighborhood of the heart and on the middle of the body, with the religious formula accompanying the glorious scripture.' 24. That is also betokened by its equally-dividing (hambur) position and determining fashion; for, as a wise man becomes a discriminator between benefit and injury, between good and evil, so also the place of the sacred thread-girdle is between below and above. 25. With a low sacred girdle [kusti] there is a passage for one's want of openness (avishodano) and secret ruin, and also a shutting up of life; with a high sacred girdle there is a way for thought, word, and deed, and no confinement (agirishnokarih) of life; and tying the sacred girdle with a religious rite (ham-dino) is like a glory amid the glories of the angels, for it is itself through the aid of the patron spirit (ahvo). 26. And from the heart, which is the place of thought and dwelling of life, on the upper side (lalaih) are the eye, ear, tongue, and brain, which are the dwellings of sight, hearing, speech, understanding, and intellect; and on its lower side (frodih) is the abode of a father's generativeness.
When this sacred thread-girdle [kusti], whose token, sign, and presage are such, is tied, it is girded on with this glorious rite of the glorious ones, the custom of the learned, the command of rulers, and the decree of apostles.
That secretly-progressing destruction, which arises from the fiend of insubordination (asardarih) who was much afraid of Yim [Jamshed], and which is averse to the labor of men and the service of Ohrmazd, is a demon and irreligious (dush-dino), who is full of fear of the girdles (parvandiha) of the glory of religion, with which both angels and also worldlings have become belted and diligent.
Then, because the glory for this belt of ours, which is called the Kusti and is worn on the middle of the body, remains unreleased (avi-vukht) from the angels, who are givers of glory, and from men who are glorious -- which is explained as a similitude and sample of fortunes (baharakoiha) among worldlings, even those who are actually primitive creatures likewise -- it has, therefore, seemed comely and desirable. 30. And their heart, will, knowledge, and purpose are as much for it as that which is perceptible where, even apart from those of the good religion who shall tie the sacred thread-girdle with the scripture formula, some of the faiths of all countries, except those who are unbelted, possess the religious custom. 31. Also outside the seat of the existence of faith all men have the waist, or the palms of the hands, or similar joints for a girdle (kustiko); and it is deemed comely, desirable, and convenient for work to wear it. 32. And it is manifestly the lot (dako) of the thoroughly-praising one whose own desire is truth and the enjoyment of welfare, it is a token of the service of the sacred beings, and a sign of walking in the commands of religion, which they shall tie on account of the superior beings (pashuman) with the proper formula, more particularly with that which one utters when there is reliance upon the scripture itself.


As to the thirty-ninth question and reply, that which you ask is thus: What kind of goodness and want of goodness can there be in the sacred thread-girdle [kusti] and shirt [sudra]; and what are the sin of running about uncovered, of prayer offered and prayer not offered, and the purpose of cleansing (mishn)?
The reply is this, that it (the shirt) is needful to be perfectly pure white and single, which one fold is because Vohuman also is thus the one creature who was first, and afterwards from him the garment which is innermost and concealed is called in revelation.
Proper girdling is double, which two folds are because he also who is in the course of the twofold religious wisdom is intelligent, and the duties due to the sacred beings are themselves in two divisions which are called the instinctive and that heard by the ears.
After a man is in the girding they shall tie on, the symptoms of any sins of the belted body are free from sin which is condemned (vijirinido); and when he walks uncovered, or naked, or with a two-fold garment, there is then no root of the sin of running about uncovered in him. 5. Moreover, on hymns [Gathas] being chanted during a meal an inward prayer is not also necessary.
The purpose of a cleansing (mishn-ae) is this, that the suitableness of men for eating is due to worship of the sacred beings and glorification of the sacred beings. 7. And as to their necessary recommendation (siparih) of any food for eating, the glorifying of the sacred beings, and the true usages about recounting it, it is commanded, before eating, when the mouth is not soiled with food, that the mouth (dahan) should proceed with the utterance of the pure glorification. 8. Being thereupon suitably seated, and having properly eaten the food, one is to make the mouth clean with a toothpick and water; and after eating, before all words, the praise of the sacred beings is glorified by the mouth cleansed by washing. 9. And between the glorifying before eating and the after glorification one is not to speak other words, and when during a meal a word is spoken by the mouth, that kind of glorification which it is the custom to utter before and after eating is offered by its own organ (andam).
And every single organ has one function, but two special functions are connected with the mouth, which are speaking and eating; and because they are together they are mutually opposed, for speaking connects that which is an inward possession with outside teachings (chashiha), and through eating, the outside food comes for the inward further vitality of life. 11. As the ancients have said, where one operation is appointed unto two operators, it is more expressly so that during eating two operations may not both at once (ayag-ich-gun) be produced, by speaking and by eating.
To keep those two operations distinct, one from the other, the custom of uttering the praise of sacred beings and the glorification of sacred beings when the mouth remains in the act of eating, until the mouth becomes clean from food, is decreed as inconsistent with goodness (aham-vehih). 13. And that which remains from the outpouring (rikh) at the time of a cleansing is called 'a cleansing (misn-ae).'
One means for the retention of knowledge is through not having that retention of knowledge exhausted, but when one thus speaks during that: cleansing the words are really originating with the mouth, for he does not retain them; and whenever (maman) he does not speak anything whatever with the tongue, that religious glorification which it is the custom to utter before and after eating is then offered by him from his own limited resources (samano-i vimand), and it will be offered from his own limited resources.


[Apostasy, Conversion]

As to the fortieth question and reply, that which you ask is thus: Of those whose decision is this, that it is not necessary to be steadfast in the religion of the Mazda-worshippers -- by which decision this is asserted, that they should abandon the religion of the Mazda-worshippers -- some one disparages the religion and goes over to a foreign faith (an-airih), then of what nature is his sin owing thereto, and what does the sin owing thereto, as regards those of the same foreign religion, amount to? 2. Or order some one then to tell us clearly concerning it, how it is, and how is the disobedience due to this sin.
The reply is this, that an adult is worthy of death [i.e. guilty of a mortal sin] on account of the good religion they would abandon, on account also of the adopted law of the foreign faith he is worthy of death, in whose reliance upon the improper law is also the sin which they maintain and practice by law, and through being in the same law he is equally sinful with them. 4. And also when any one is on that course, and his wish is for the same protection, of which a similitude is in the enduring words of that good law they would forsake, and he adopts that which is vile, even through that impropriety he is equally sinful.
When he dies, without renunciation of that sin and impenitently, in that improperly-constituted law, the position of his soul is then in the worst existence, and his punishment is that of many sins worthy of death; from the demons also there come grievously, hand in hand, pain and suffering, gnawing and stench of many kinds, stinging, tearing, and lacerating, primary evil and discomfort. 6. And through their [the foreigners'] law and faith his distress in that worst existence is thus until the last change of existence, when the renovation of the universe is produced by will among living beings.
But reality (aitoih), as regards living, arises from renunciation of that disobedience; it makes those attract to the good law who seduced him to that evil law, that which established him improperly in the law it eradicates from his conduct (rubakih), advancing sins it again restrains, and whatever has advanced it repairs again anew through the religion of the Mazda-worshippers, and he becomes thoughtful, constant, and steadfast. 8. The sin which he set going he restrains and atones for by wealth, trouble, and authorizing commands; even in the body he also undergoes punishment in the three nights (satuih); he then obtains forgiveness, and his soul is saved.
And as it is said in the persistent law of the sacred beings, that 'the good religion of the sacred beings, who are the Mazda-worshipping superiors, ordains it as retribution,' so that the sin it takes away (spayeiti)l may not exist in him, his retribution is declared by revelation. 10. And by the same witness it is said, that all of the primitive faith [Paoiryo-tkaesha] have been quite of the same opinion about this, that from the good religion except by the way of renunciation of sin there is none unless to hell; but that renunciation should be during life, for it is said that 'whoever when living does not become righteous, that is, does not fully atone for sin, for him when dead there is no grant of the best existence.' 11. To commit no sin is better than retribution and renunciation of sin.