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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 sixty-fifth question and reply, that which you ask is thus: There is a man of wealth of the good religion who fully intends to order a celebration of all the rites of his religion; and a priest of it, to whom the five chapters (fargards) of the Avesta ('text') of the correct law of the Nirangistan ('religious-formula code') are easy through the Zand ('commentary'), is ever progressing in priestly manhood (magoi-gabraih). 2. And he (the man) goes unto him, and he (the priest) speaks thus: 'All the religious rites are performed for 350 dirhams, as a gift always given beforehand by them who give the order unto me, so that I may come to them.'
A man of the disciples, to whom the five sections (vidag) of the Avesta are easy, and nothing whatever of its Zand is easy, then says unto him -- unto that man who intends to order all the religious rites -- thus: 'For this gift I will conduct all the religious rites for thee twice, with the appliances in the land of Pars, shouldst thou give the order unto me. 4. For it is quite possible for me to pray so many sections through my own exertion (dasto), but for him it is necessary to order again of all officiating priest (pavan zotako), who is himself not able to pray any section, or does not himself pray; and it is not necessary for him to go for the control (parvar) of all the religious rites when stipend (bahar) is the one consideration within him, and the matter is that he may receive again. 5. He who has always himself prayed is better than he who shall accept readily and orders the work again, and is not able to pray it himself, when a fulfillment is tedious to him; when it is I who receive, I always pray myself better than he who would accept readily and orders again, and it brings on my business to a closing point.'
The priestly man speaks thus: 'The consideration of stipend is more necessary to arise with me than other men, owing to the position of religion, not the other portion (shano) of all religious rites; therefore, it is more authorisedly received and conducted by me when I accept readily and again entrust the work; but I direct so that they pray thoroughly, and it brings on much business to its closing point; moreover, if I seize upon it, even then I should be authorized, for this is the stipend of religion.'
Should they seize this that is authorisedly theirs, or not? And is it the custom of a man who is frequently ordering all the religious rites to reduce his gift for the ceremonial, or not?
Order some one to decide for us clearly, when they do not dispute the gift for the ceremonial, or when they do dispute it, how is then its great advantage; and the harmfulness that exists therein, in many ways and many modes, when they give an insufficient gift for the ceremonial. 9. Is the property which is given up as a gift for the ceremonial -- so long as it thus becomes the remuneration which one gives to a receiver of remuneration (mozdobar) -- that property which they can seize? 10. And is the work which is done, or deputed, and its great advantage, more than they would perform when, in the period of the evil millenniums, they diminish the gift for the ceremonial; and in how many modes does its harm then proceed therefrom? 11. Of whom are all the religious rites always more authorisedly ordered, of that priestly man, or of that disciple? 12. For what reason, also, is it proper to diminish the gift for all the religious rites of him who is a priestly man, or to give it in excess? 13. When they do not diminish the gift for the ceremonial, and it is given in excess, in what manner does its great advantage then arise therefrom; and why and through what source (bekh) is it possible for advantage to arise therefrom? 14. When they diminish the gift what harm to it (the ceremonial) is then possible to arise therefrom, and how is it better when they give the gift for the ceremonial?
For when the family householders, with those of the good religion of Iran, are early (pesh) with every single celebration of all the religious rites with holy-water, in the land of Pars, unless they are in distress, their gift is then 400 dirhams; and we have given more than this, even 450 dirhams, for it. 16. And now should it be needful, when we diminish anything from the 400 dirhams, or from the 450 dirhams, of their gift, they would then not accept it from us, and they speak thus: 'For 400 dirhams, or at least for 350 dirhams; nothing less do we accept.' 17. But there are needy men who always come to us and speak thus: 'For 350 dirhams we will twice conduct all the religious rites with holy-water, as you have always ordered us before for 400 dirhams; order it only of us, for shoudst thou have it managed by priestly men, they always say that they should always perform a curtailment (kastarih) of the religious rites and ceremonies of the sacred beings, and that all the religious rites are not authorisedly ordered except of them.'
Although a priest (aerpato) who becomes a ruler of the ceremonial should be doubly a decider, yet order some one to explain to us clearly concerning these questions, as asked by us.
The reply is this, that the man of the good religion who intended to order all the religious rites is he whose desire is goodness, and he should be a decider of questions about it.
As to the priest who spoke thus: 'Thou shouldst order it of me for 350 dirhams, as you have always given before your business was arranged; and it becomes your own non-religious share of the duty, to be authorisedly given, because you have proceeded with the alleged demeanor of the country and for the purpose of intercession; and all the religious rites with holy-water are such as they solemnize repeatedly (pavan dor), among which there are many in which I act and am very well performing' -- the gift of 350 dirhams is then not excessive remuneration for him.
As to the disciple who spoke thus: 'For 350 dirhams I will twice conduct all the religious rites in the land of Pars' -- such of them as they then conduct repeatedly are not many in the aggregate (chinako), and they certainly damage his (the man's) property, and all the religious rites of fire, through that deficiency. 22. And they would accept it on this account, that through a love of righteousness they might cause an advantage (khanjinako) unto all those religious rites by their own inferior eminence. 23. And he extends and impels the ceremonial of the sacred beings into much progress who promotes it through that eminence which is owing to his own wealth, and which is thus more possessed of a share (bon) of the ceremonial of the sacred beings and of the good work of praise -- except, indeed, a like good work of praise of his -- when they shall cause that manifestation of eminence. 24. So that the orderer of the good work understands that that which is diminished by him is the eminence of the disciple, which his own wealth has to order for those who are not able to give wealth which is their own property for it; and he makes no curtailment (banjishno) of those scanty remunerations.
And if that disciple should accept as remuneration less than is the custom for all the religious rites, the orderer is not undiminished in wealth, for the reason that the good effect owing to the advantage of holy-water is such as when they conduct them repeatedly, unless it be necessary to conduct them in a manner as if unpaid (pavan agazid). 26. That curtailment of the good effect is not afterwards demandable (pasin-sakhuniko), if it has to be accepted by him; and if that acceptance of less remuneration by him be an opposing of him to the malice and ill-temper (vushai) of the priests, this also is not the way that they should cause progress as regards their own business.
And the proximity (nazdih) of a master of the house who keeps away from all the religious rites requested and accepted -- more particularly when the acceptor accepts, all the religious rites of the requester for that remuneration -- is itself necessary; he may not be of a religious disposition, but it is yet requisite for him to be where this is requested and accepted for that scanty remuneration of his, owing to the extent and impetus of his share of the duty.
Moreover, it is perceived by us in Pars that they who would accept the work for half the remuneration which was requisite as profit for it formerly would seize the remuneration. 29. And the reason of it is this: The peasants relied upon the corn of the field (khano) which has not come, and they said: 'We are hurried; we never obtain anything even on a single one of various debts, and by this payment we shall save our lives for the time; so we calculate that whatever we seize in the manner of a debt or two, when the corn arrives and we sell the corn, we shall make as profit on that business;' -- and it seemed to me very desirable for such a man.
If, also, they should approve that scanty remuneration of that disciple, it is an injury of all the religious rites, of which the forgivers have to cast the consideration of the unequally-shared advantage out of the body. 31. All the religious rites ordered of him who is a better performer, owing to not diminishing the proper remuneration, having proceeded unaltered, the remuneration of righteousness one does not approve is important as regards such as they solemnize and conduct in the period. 32. Since, for the 350 dirhams, all the religious rites which they conduct once with holy-water are, it is affirmed, all the religious rites caused to be conducted twice with holy-water in that same place and with the same good effect, it is more important to order of them who shall allow all the religious rites twice; for, with as much wealth, as much efficiency, and as much good effect, more ceremonial is good.
The worthiness of the disciple, which is owing to himself, is the preparation; and the priest is worthy, of whose performance in the religion you have spoken; therefore, supreme worthiness is unattainable by either of them; so it is more significant when the disciple is the preparer, and the priest, as director, becomes a demander of good effect; both strive for good progress, and through many kinds of participation they may be worthy. 34. And both of them, praising together -- whereby the participation is brought to an end -- may authorisedly seize; but that worthiness of theirs is owing to the duty and the praise therein -- this one in preparing, and this one in superintendence (avar-madih) of the recital -- and the after discourse and petitioning, and other good done.


As to the sixty-sixth question and reply, that which you ask is thus: What is this appearance which is girded on the sky?
The reply is this, that it is a mingling of the brilliance of the sun with mist and cloud that is seen, of which it is at all times and seasons, moreover, a characteristic appearance, whereby it has become their sign above from spiritual to earthly beings. 3. That which is earthly is the water above to which its brilliance is acceptable; and the many brilliant colors (gunakan) which are formed from that much mingling of brilliance and water, and are depicted (manaki-aito), are the one portion for appearing.


As to the sixty-seventh question and reply, that which you ask is thus: What is this which, when the sun and moon have both come up, is something come, and comes on as it were anew when it (the moon) becomes new, and men want the thing to go down from the place where it is becoming apparent? 2. When it has been several times, what is then the thing which comes up and exists, and how is its motion by night and day?
The reply is this, that the sun and moon are always seen there where they stand, and they exist for men and the creatures. 4. The sun is swifter-moving than the moon, and every day becomes a little in advance; at the new moon the sun is shining, and the moon owing to diminution backwards, on account of the slenderness of the moon by much traveling, and on account of the brilliance of the sun, is not apparent. 5. As the sun goes down a light which is not very apparent is the moon, and not having gone down the moon is seen; and each day the moon increases, comes up more behind the sun, and goes down more behind, and is, therefore, more seen. 6. When increased to the utmost, which is approaching a likeness of the sun, it comes spherical (aspiharako), and is seen the whole night; to diminish anew it comes back to the companionship of the sun, and goes into the splendor of the sun.


As to the sixty-eighth question and reply, that which you ask is thus: When something takes hold of the moon or sun what is then its residence (khano), and whence does it always seize upon it?
The reply is this, that two dark progeny of the primeval ox move and are made to revolve from far below the sun and moon, and whenever, during the revolution of the celestial sphere, they make one pass below the sun, or below the moon, it becomes a covering which is spun (tad) over the sun, and it is so when the sun or moon is not seen. 3. Of each of those two progeny of the primeval ox -- one of which is called 'the head,' and one 'the tail' -- the motion is specified among astronomers; but in remaining upon those luminaries, and producing that covering, they do not attain unto those luminaries within that covering. 4. There occurs no difference whatever of the descending rays from those luminaries into a place of purity and freedom from disturbance far below those luminaries, except this, that the light which they divert to the world, and their activity as regards the celestial spheres are not complete for so much time, nor the coming of the light to the earth.


As to the sixty-ninth question and reply, that which you ask is thus: What are these river-beds, and what is the cause of them; whence do they always arise, and why is there not a river-bed everywhere and in every place where there is no mountain?
The reply is this, that any place where a mountain is not discernible and a river-bed exists it is a fissure (ashkupo); and it is declared as clear that, even before the growth of the mountains, when the earth was all a plain, by the shaking of the world the whole world became rent (zandako). 3. Even Frasuyav of Tur was specially mighty by causing the construction of channels (vidarg) there where it is mountainous, and also in low-lands, in which there is no mountain, and the shaking in its creation was the formation of great sunken springs and river-beds. 4. And if it has been prepared in, or if it be in a ravine (shikafto) of, the mountains, the cause, too, of the contraction, thundering, and tearing of a river, if its confinement be in the earth, is the resistance which it meets in seeking a passage; and as it is a spring of the waters of the earth, so also it is in the earth, whose contraction and panting are mighty and full of strength. 5. And when it is a time that they would make a constructed channel at the outside of its ravine, as regards the contraction which is within it, the resistance by which it is contracted at the outside of the ravine is the ground.


As to the seventieth question and reply, that which you ask is thus: Is anything which happens unto men through fate or through action, is exertion destiny or without destiny, and does anything devoid of destiny happen unto men, or what way is it? 2. As to that which they say, that, when a man turns unto sinfulness, they ordain anew a new death; as to that which they say, that anything which happens unto men is a work of the moon, and every benefit is connected with the moon, and the moon bestows it upon worldly beings; and as to what way the moon does this, and bestows all benefits, order someone to decide the literal explanation of how and what way it is, by the will of the sacred beings.
The reply is this, that the high-priests have said thus, that there are some things through destiny, and there are some through action; and it is thus fully decided by them, that life, wife, and child, authority and wealth are through destiny, and the righteousness and wickedness of priesthood, warfare, and husbandry are through action. 4. And this, too, is thus said by them, that that which is not destined for a man in the world does not happen; and that which is destined, be it owing to exertion, will come forward, be it through sinfulness or slothfulness he is injured by it. 5. That which will come forward owing to exertion is such as his who goes to a meeting of happiness, or the sickness of a mortal who, owing to sickness, dies early; and he who through sinfulness and slothfulness is thereby injured is such as he who would wed no wife, and is certain that no child of his is born, or such as he who gives his body unto slaughter, and life is injured by his living.


As to the seventy-first question and reply, that which you ask is thus: What are the heinous sins of committing unnatural intercourse [sodomy], is it proper to order or perform the sacred ceremony for him who shall commit unnatural intercourse, and is it then proper to practice sitting together and eating together with him who shall commit it, and shall commit it with a longing for it, or not?
The reply is this, that of the evil Mazda-worshippers -- who were the seven evil-doers of sin of a heinous kind, whose practice of Ahriman's will was as much as an approximation to that of Ahriman himself -- two are those whom you have mentioned, who are defiled with mutual sin. 3. For, of those seven evil-doers, one was Az-i Dahak [Zohak], by whom witchcraft was first glorified; he exercised the sovereignty of misgovernment, and desired a life of the unintellectual (ahangan khaya) for the world. 4. One was Azi Sruvar [Av. Azi Srvara], by whom infesting the highway in terrible modes, frightful watchfulness (vimag-bidarih) of the road, and devouring of horse and man were perpetrated. 5. One was Vadak the mother of Dahak, by whom adultery was first committed, and by it all lineage is disturbed, control is put an end to, and without the authority of the husband an intermingling of son with son occurs. 6. One was the Viptak ('pathic') the intercourse of males, the infecundity of which is the desire of men; and by him the intercourse of males and the way of destroying the seed were first shown unto males. 7. One was the Vipinidak ('pederast'), the male by whom the use of females was first brought among the errors (khazdag) of the male, and was despised (dukhto) by him; he who is a cherisher of seed is delivering it to females, and that which is destroying the seed is the flowing of stenches into the prescribed vessels for it, the delivering it to males by a demoniacal process, and carrying on a practice which effaces (ahanjedo) and conceals the race [or seed] of the living. 8. One was Tur-i Bradar-vakhsh, the Karap and heterodox wizard, by whom the best of men [Zartosht] was put to death. 9. And one was he by whom the religions of apostates were preferred -- through the deceitfulness of the perverted text and interpretation [Avesta and Zand] which they themselves utter -- to the law which the righteous has praised, that existence which would have procured a complete remedy, and would have become the eternity of the records which bestow salvation, through the good righteousness which is owing to the pure religion, the best of knowledge.
And they who are defiled by a propensity to stench are thereby welcoming the demons and fiends, and are far from good thought through vexing it, and a distance from them is to be maintained of necessity in sitting and eating with them, except so far as it may be opportune for the giving of incitement by words for withdrawing (padalishno) from their sinfulness, while converting them from that propensity. 11. Should one die, to order a ceremonial for him is indecorous, and to perform it would be unauthorized; but if he were to do so penitently one would then be authorized to perform his ceremonial after the three nights, for it is the remedy for atonement of sin. 12. And so long as he is living he is in the contingencies (vakhtagano) owing to the sickness through which he is in that way an infamous one (akhamidar), and there are no preventives (bondagano) and medicinal powder for it; these are teachings also for the duty and good works of a ceremonial for the soul.


As to the seventy-second question and reply, that which you ask is thus: Does the stench of him, stinking withal, who commits unnatural intercourse [sodomy] proceed to the sky, or not; and to what place does the wind of that stench go when it goes anywhere?
The reply is this, that the material stench goes as far and in such proportion as there are filthiness and fetidness in the stinking existences, and the spiritual stench goes unto there where there are appliances (samano) for acquiring stench, a miserable place; on account of the separation (gardih) of the sky, everywhere where it goes in the direction of the sky it does not reach to the undisturbed existences. 3. Information about the stench is manifest in the omniscient creator whose omniscience is among the luminaries, but that persistent creator and the primeval angels and archangels are free from its attack; and his information about the deception which is practiced upon that laborer for hell and mind allied with the demons is certain.


As to the seventy-third question and reply, that which you ask is thus: Is there any discomfiture (vanidarih) of the archangels [Amahraspandan] from that stench, or not?
The reply is this, that the archangels are immortal and undistressed; their place, also, is in that best existence of light, all-glorious, all-delightful, and undisturbed; and the strength of the stench due to the demons does not reach unto anything pertaining to the archangels. 3. The archangels are omniscient, friendly to the creatures, persistent, and procure forgiveness; they know that heinous practice which is the heinous practice of that wretched dupe (friftako) who has become defiled in that most filthy manner (zishttum arang), which is like that which is provided and which is applied to him even in the terrible punishment that has come upon him from the demons; and then, on account of their friendliness to the creatures, it has seemed to them severe, and thereby arises their forgiveness which is according to whatever anguish is owing to the torment which galls him.


As to the seventy-fourth question and reply, that which you ask is thus: Do the angels have his dead body restored, or not?
The reply is this, that there was a high-priest who said that the angels do not have his dead body restored, because of the sin of the mutually-polluting, full of stench, and inglorious victims (khvapidoan), the terrible kind of means for the exculpation of creatures, and that practice when males keep specially imperfect in their duty; it being then suitable for mankind to become free from him who -- like Az-i Dahak [Zohak], who wanted many most powerful demons -- resists and struggles, and is not possessing the perception to extract (patkashistano) a pardon, owing to the course of many demoniacal causes. 3. But innumerable multitudes (amarakaniha), happily persevering in diligence, have with united observation, unanimously, and with mutual assistance (ham-banjishniha) insisted upon this, that they have the dead bodies of all men restored; for the good creator, granting forgiveness and full of goodness, would not abandon any creature to the fiend. 4. In revelation (dino) it is said that every dead body is raised up, both of the righteous and of the wicked; there is none whom they shall abandon to the fiend.
And this, also, is thus decided by them, that even as to him who is most grievously sinful, when he becomes mentally seeking pardon and repentant of the sin, and, being as much an atoner as he is well able, has delivered up his body and wealth for retribution and punishment, in reliance upon the atonement for sin of the good religion, then it is possible for his soul, also, to come to the place of the righteous.


As to the seventy-fifth question and reply, that which you ask is thus: As to him who shall slay those who shall commit unnatural intercourse [sodomy], how is then his account as to good works and crime?
The reply is this, that the high-priests, in their decision, have thus specially said, that all worthy of death are so by the decision of judges and the command of kings, whose business is execution. 3. Whoever shall slay him who has heinous sins after controversies three times with him, about the decision of those acquainted with the religion and about the command of kings, when he has thus remained in the sin in defiance of his own relations -- and not inimically to the man and injuriously to the religion, but inimically to the sin and in order to keep away intercourse with demons -- is to consider it as a great good work. 4. No command is given about the decision of what one is to do in the same matter, more heedfully and more authorisedly in cases of doubtful attention, for the good work exists undoubtedly more and more abundantly.