(March 28, 1849 – October 10, 1894)
French author who in 1877 became teacher of Persian language at the École des Hautes Études.
Chapter 1, Discovery of the Zend Avesta
Chapter 2 The Interpretation of the Zend-Avesta
Chapter 3 The Formation of the Zend-Avesta
Chapter 4 The Origin of the Avesta Religion
Chapter 5 The Vendīdād
The Zend Avesta
Sacred Books of the East, Volume 4, 1880
[Includes notes below e.g.1]
§ 1. According to Parsi tradition the Vendîdâd
1 is the only Nosk, out of the twenty-one, that was preserved in its entirety
2. This is a statement to which it is difficult to trust; for, if there is anything that shows how right the Parsis are in admitting that the Avesta is only a collection of fragments, it is just the fragmentary character of the Vendîdâd.
The Vendîdâd has often been described as the book of the laws of the Parsis; it may be more exactly called the code, of purification, a description, however, which is itself only so far correct that the laws of purification are the object of the largest part of the book.
The first two chapters deal with mythical matter, without any direct connection with the general object of the Vendîdâd, and are remnants of an old epic and cosmogonic literature. The first deals with the creations and counter-creations of Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu; the second speaks of Yima, the founder of civilisation. Although there was no particular reason for placing them in the Vendîdâd, as soon as they were admitted into it they were put at the beginning, because they referred to the first ages of the world. Three chapters of a mythical character, about the origin of medicine, were put at the end of the book, for want of any better place, but might as well have been kept apart
3, as was the so-called Hadhokht Nosk fragment. There is also another mythical Fargard, the nineteenth, which, as it treats of the revelation of the law by Ahura to Zarathustra, would have been more suitably placed at the beginning of the Vendîdâd proper, that is, as the third Fargard.
The other seventeen chapters deal chiefly with religious observances, although mythical fragments, or moral digressions, are met with here and there, which are more or less artificially connected with the text, and which were most probably not written along with the passages which they follow
§ 2. A rough attempt at regular order appears in these seventeen chapters: nearly all the matter contained in the eight chapters from V to XII deals chiefly with impurity from the dead and the way of dispelling it; but the subject is again treated, here and there, in other Fargards
5, and matter irrelevant to the subject has also found its way into these same eight Fargards
6. Fargards XIII and XIV are devoted to the dog, but must be completed with a part of the XVth. Fargards XVI, XVII, and most part of XVIII deal with several sorts of uncleanness, and their proper place should rather have been after the XIIth Fargard. Fargard III is devoted to the earth
7; Fargard IV stands by itself, as it deals with a matter which is treated only there, namely, civil and penal laws
No better order prevails within these several parts prescriptions on one and the same subject are scattered about through several Fargards, without any subject being treated at once in a full and exhaustive way; and this occasions needless repetitions
The main cause of this disorder was, of course, that the advantage of order is rarely felt by Orientals; but it was further promoted by the very form of exposition adopted by the first composers of the Vendîdâd. The law is revealed by Ahura in a series of answers to questions put to him by Zarathustra
10; and as these questions are not of a general character, but refer to details, the matter is much broken into fragments, each of which, consisting of a question with its answer, stands by itself, as an independent passage.
We shall treat in the following pages, first of the laws of purification, then of the civil laws, and, lastly, of the penalties both religious and civil.
§ 3. The first object of man is purity, yaozdau: 'purity is for man, next to life, the greatest good
Purity and impurity have not in the Vendîdâd the exclusively spiritual meaning which they have in our languages: they do not refer to an inward state of the< person, but chiefly to a physical state of the body. Impurity or uncleanness may be described as the state of a person or thing that is possessed of the demon; and the object of purification is to expel the demon.
The principal means by which uncleanness enters man is death, as death is the triumph of the demon.
When a man dies, as soon as the soul has parted from the body, the Drug Nasu or Corpse-Drug falls upon the dead from the regions of hell, and whoever thenceforth touches the corpse becomes unclean, and makes unclean whomsoever he touches
The Drug is expelled from the dead by means of the Sag-dîd, 'the look of the dog:' 'a four-eyed dog' or a white one with yellow ears' is brought near the body and is made to look at the dead; as soon as he has done so, the Drug flees back to hell
The Drug is expelled from the living, whom she has seized through their contact with the dead, by a process of washings with ox's urine (gômêz or nîrang) and with water, combined with the Sag-dîd
The real import of these ceremonies is shown by the spells which accompany their performance: 'Perish, O fiendish Drug! Perish, O brood of the fiend! Perish, O world of the fiend! Perish away, O Drug! Rush away, O Drug! Perish away, O Drug! Perish away to the regions of the north, never more to give unto death the living world of the holy spirit!'
Thus, in the death of a man, there is more involved than the death of one man: the power of death, called forth from hell, threatens from the corpse, as from a stronghold, the whole world of the living, ready to seize whatever may fall within his reach, and 'from the dead defiles the living, from the living rushes upon the living.' When a man dies in a house, there is danger for three days lest somebody else should die in that house
The notion or feeling, out of which these ceremonies grew was far from unknown to the other Indo-European peoples what was peculiar to Mazdeism was that it carried it to an extreme, and preserved a clearer sense of it, while elsewhere it grew dimmer and dimmer, and faded away. In fact, when the Greek, going out of a house where a dead man lay, sprinkled himself with water from the ἀρδανίον at the door, it was death that he drove away from himself. The Vedic Indian, too, although his rites were intended chiefly for the benefit of the dead, considered himself in danger and, while burning the corpse, cried aloud: 'Away, go away, O Death! injure not our sons and our men!' (Rig-veda X, 18, 1.)
§ 4. As to the rites by means of which the Drug is expelled, they are the performance of myths. There is nothing in worship but what existed before in mythology. What we call a practice is only an imitation of gods, an ὁμοίωσις θεῷ, as man fancies he can bring about the things he wants, by performing the acts which are supposed to have brought about things of the same kind when practised by the gods.
The Parsis, being at a loss to find four-eyed dogs, interpret the name as meaning a dog with two spots above the eyes
16: but it is clear that the two-spotted dog's services are only accepted for want of a four-eyed one; or of a white one with yellow ears, which amounts to saying that there were myths, according to which the death-fiend was driven away by dogs of that description. This reminds one at once of the three-headed Kerberos, watching at the doors of hell, and, still more, of the two brown, four-eyed dogs of Yama, who guard the ways to the realm of death
The identity of the four-eyed dog of the Parsi with Kerberos and Yama's dogs appears, moreover, from the Parsi tradition that the yellow-eared dog watches at the head of the Kinvat bridge, which leads from this to the next world, and with his barking drives away the fiend from the souls of the holy ones, lest he should drag them to hell
Wherever the corpse passes by, death walks with it; all along the way it has gone, from the house to its last resting-place, a spirit of death is breathing and threatening the living. Therefore, no man, no flock, no being whatever that belongs to the world of Ahura, is allowed to pass by that way until the deadly breath, that blows through it, has been blown away to hell
19. The four-eyed dog is made to go through the way three times, or six times, or nine times, while the priest helps the look of the dog with his spells, dreaded by the Drug.
§ 5. The use of gomez (gômêz) in cleansing the unclean is also derived from old mythic conceptions
20. The storm floods that cleanse the sky of the dark fiends in it were described in a class of myths as the urine of a gigantic animal in the heavens. As the floods from the bull above drive away the fiend from the god, so they do from man here below, they make him 'free from the death-demon' (frânasu), and the death-fiend flees away hellwards, pursued by the fiend-smiting spell: 'Perish thou, O Drug . . . , never more to give over to Death the living world of the good spirit!'
§ 6. As uncleanness is nothing else than the contagion of death, it is at its greatest intensity when life is just departing. The Nasu at that moment defiles ten persons around the corpse
21 when a year is over, the corpse defiles no longer
22. Thus the notion of uncleanness is quite the reverse of what thought elsewhere: the corpse, when rotten, is less unclean than the body still all but warm with life; death defiles least when it looks most hideous, and defiles most when it might look majestic. The cause is that in the latter case the death-demon has just arrived in the fulness of his strength, whereas in the former case time has exhausted his power.
§ 7. As the focus of the contagion is in the corpse, it must be disposed of so that death may not spread abroad. On this point the old Indo-European customs have been completely changed by Mazdeism. The Indo-Europeans either burnt the corpse or buried it: both customs are held to be sacrilegious in the Avesta.
§ 8. This view originated from the notion of the holiness of the elements being pushed to an extreme. The elements, fire, earth, and water are holy, and during the Indo-Iranian period they were already considered so, and in the Vedas they are worshipped as godlike beings. Yet this did not prevent the Indian from burning his dead; death did not appear to him so decidedly a work of the demon, and the dead man was a traveller to the other world, whom the fire kindly carried to his heavenly abode 'on his undecaying, flying pinions, wherewith he killed the demons.' The fire was in that, as in the sacrifice, the god that goes from earth to heaven, from man to god, the mediator, the god most friendly to man. In Persia it remains more distant from him; being an earthly form of the eternal, infinite, godly light
23, no death, no uncleanness can be allowed to enter it, as it is here below the purest offspring of the good spirit, the purest part of his pure creation. Its only function is to repel the fiends with its bright blazing. In every place where Parsis are settled, an everlasting fire is kept, the Bahrâm fire, which, 'preserved by a more than Vestal care
24,' and ever fed with perfumes and dry well-blazing wood, whichever side its flames are brought by the wind, it goes and kills thousands and thousands of fiends, as Bahrâm does in heaven
25. If the necessities of life oblige us to employ fire for profane uses, it must be only for a time an exile on our hearth, or in the oven of the potter, and it must go thence to the Right-Place of the fire (Dâityô Gâtu), the altar of the Bahrâm fire, there to be restored to the dignity and rights of its nature
At least, let no gratuitous and wanton degradation be inflicted upon it: even blowing it with the breath of the mouth is a crime
27; burning the dead is the most heinous of sins: in the times of Strabo it was a capital crime
28, and the Avesta expresses the same, when putting it in the number of those sins for which there is no atonement
Water was looked upon in the same light. Bringing dead matter to it is as bad as bringing it to the fire
30. The Magi are said to have overthrown a king for having built bath-houses, as they cared more for the cleanness of water than for their own
§ 9. Not less holy was the earth, or, at least, it became so. There was a goddess who lived in her, Spenta Ârmaiti
32; no corpse ought to defile her sacred breast: burying the dead is, like burning the dead, a deed for which there is no atonement
33. It was not always so in Persia. the burning of the dead had been forbidden for years
34, while the burying was still general
35. Cambyses had roused the indignation of the Persians by burning the corpse of Amasis: yet, years later, Persians still buried their dead. But the priests already felt scruples, and feared to defile a god. Later on, with the ascendancy of the Magian religion, the sacerdotal observances became the general law
§ 10. Therefore the corpse is laid on the summit of a mountain, far from man, from water, from tree, from fire, and from the earth itself, as it is separated from it by a layer of stones or bricks
37. Special buildings, the Dakhmas, were erected for this purpose
38. There far from the world the dead were left to lie, beholding the sun
§ 11. Not every corpse defiles man, but only those of such beings as belong to the world of Ahura. They are the only ones in whose death the demon triumphs, The corpse of an Ahrimanian creature does not defile; as its life was incarnate death, the spring of death that was in it is dried up with its last breath: it killed while alive, it can do so no more when dead; it becomes clean by dying
40. None of the faithful are defiled by the corpse of an Ashemaogha or of a Khrafstra. Nay, killing them is a pious work, as it is killing Ahriman himself
§ 12. Not only real death makes one unclean, but partial death too. Everything that goes out of the body of man is dead, and becomes the property of the demon. The going breath is unclean, it is forbidden to blow the fire with it
42, and even to approach the fire without screening it from the contagion with a Penôm
43. Parings of nails and cuttings or shavings of hair are unclean, and become weapons in the hands of the demons unless they have been protected by certain rites and spells
44. Any phenomenon by which the bodily nature is altered, whether accompanied with danger to health or not, was viewed as a work of the demon, and made the person unclean in whom it took place. One of these phenomena, which is a special object of attention in the Vendîdâd, is the uncleanness of women during their menses. The menses are sent by Ahriman
45, especially when they last beyond the usual time: therefore a woman, as long as they last, is unclean and possessed of the demon: she must be kept confined, apart from the faithful whom her touch would defile, and from the fire which her very look would injure; she is not allowed to eat as much as she wishes, as the strength she might acquire would accrue to the fiends. Her food is not given to her from hand to hand, but is passed to her from a distance
46, in a long leaden spoon. The origin of all these notions is in certain physical instincts, in physiological psychology, which is the reason why they are found among peoples very far removed from one another by race or religion
47. But they took in Persia a new meaning as they were made a logical part of the whole religious system.
§ 13. A woman that has been just delivered of a child is also unclean
48, although it would seem that she ought to be considered pure amongst the pure, since life has been increased by her in the world, and she has enlarged the realm of Ormazd. But the strength of old instincts overcame the drift of new principles. Only the case when the woman has been delivered of a still-born child is examined in the Vendîdâd. She is unclean as having been in contact with a dead creature; and she must first drink gômêz to wash over the grave in her womb. So utterly unclean is she, that she is not even allowed to drink water, unless she is in danger of death; and even then, as the sacred element has been defiled, she is liable to the penalty of a Peshôtanu
49. It appears from modern customs that the treatment is the same when the child is born alive: the reason of which is that, in any case, during the first three days after delivery she is in danger of death
50. A great fire is lighted to keep away the fiends, who use then their utmost efforts to kill her and her child
51. She is unclean only because the death-fiend is in her.
§ 14. Logic required that the sick man should be treated as an unclean one, that is, as one possessed. Sickness, being sent by Ahriman, ought to be cured like all his other works, by washings and spells. In fact, the medicine of spells was considered the most powerful of all
52, and although it did not oust the medicine of the lancet and that of drugs, yet it was more highly esteemed and less mistrusted. The commentator on the Vendîdâd very sensibly observes that if it does not relieve, it will surely do no harm
53, which seems not to have been a matter of course with those who heal by the knife and physic. It appears from the last Fargard that all or, at least, many diseases might be cured by spells and Barashnûm washing. It appears from Herodotus and Agathias that contagious diseases required the same treatment as uncleanness: the sick man was excluded from the community of the faithful
54, until cured and cleansed according to the rites
§ 15. The unclean are confined in a particular place, apart from all clean persons and objects, the Armêst-gâh
56, which may be described, therefore, as the Dakhma for the living. All the unclean, all those struck with temporary death, the man who has touched dead matter, the woman in her menses, or just delivered of child, the leper
57, or the man who has made himself unclean for ever by carrying a corpse alone
58, stay there all the time of their uncleanness.
§ 16. Thus far for general principles. From the diversity of circumstances arises a system of casuistry, the development of which may be followed first through the glosses to the Vendîdâd, in which the labours of several generations of theologians are embodied, and, later on, through the Ravâets. We will give a few instances of it, as found in the Vendîdâd itself.
The process of the cleansing varies according to the degree of uncleanness; and, again, the degree of uncleanness depends on the state of the thing that defiles and the nature of the thing that is defiled.
The uncleanness from the dead is the worst of all, and it is at its utmost when contracted before the Nasu has been expelled from the corpse by the Sag-dîd
59: it can be cured only by means of the most complicated system of cleansing, the nine nights’ Barashnûm
60. If the Nasu has already been expelled from the corpse, as the defiling power was less, a simple washing once made, the Ghosel, is enough
The defiling power of the Nasu reaches farther, if the death has just taken place, and if the dying creature occupied a higher rank in the scale of beings
62; for the more recent the victory of the demon, or the higher the being he has overcome, the stronger he must have been himself.
Menstruous women are cleansed by the Ghosel
As for things they are more or less deeply defiled according to their degree of penetrability: metal vessels, can be cleansed, earthen vessels cannot
64; leather is more easily cleansed than woven cloth
65; dry wood than soft wood
66. Wet matter is a better conductor of uncleanness than dry matter, and corpses cease to defile after a year
§ 17. In the cases heretofore reviewed, only religious purposes are concerned. There is another order of laws, in which, although religion interferes, yet it is not at the root; namely, the laws about contracts and assaults, to, which the fourth Fargard is devoted, and which are the only remains extant of the civil and penal legislation of Zoroastrianism.
The contracts were divided into two classes, according to their mode of being entered into, and according to the value of their object
68. As to their mode they are word-contracts or hand-contracts: as to their object, they are sheep-contracts, ox-contracts, man-contracts, or field-contracts, which being estimated in money value are contracts to the amount of 3, 12, 500 istîrs, and upwards
No contract can be made void by the will of one party alone; he who breaks a contract is obliged to pay the value of the contract next higher in value.
The family and the next of kin are, it would seem, answerable for the fulfilment of a contract, a principle of the old Indo-European civil law
§ 18. Assaults are of seven degrees: âgerepta, avaoirista
71, stroke, sore wound, bloody wound, broken bone, and manslaughter. The gravity of the guilt does not depend on the gravity of the deed only, but also on its frequency. Each of these seven crimes amounts, by its being repeated without having been atoned for, to the crime that immediately follows in the scale, so that an âgerepta seven times repeated amounts to manslaughter.
§ 19. Every crime makes the guilty man liable to two penalties, one here below, and another in the next world.
The penalty here below consists of a certain number of stripes with the Aspahê-astra or the Sraoshô-karana
The unit for heavy penalties is two hundred stripes; the crime and the criminal thus punished are called Peshô-tanu or Tanu-peretha (Parsi: Tanâfûhr). The two words literally mean, 'one who pays with his own body,' and 'payment with one's body,' and seem to have originally amounted to 'worthy of death, worthiness of death;' and in effect the word Peshôtanu is often interpreted in the Pahlavi Commentary by margarzân, 'worthy of death.' But, on the whole, it was attached to the technical meaning of 'one who has to receive two hundred strokes with the horse-whip
73.' The lowest penalty in the Vendîdâd is five stripes, and the degrees from five stripes to Peshôtanu are ten, fifteen, thirty, fifty, seventy, ninety, two hundred. For instance, âgerepta is punished with five stripes, avaoirista with ten, stroke with fifteen, sore wound with thirty, bloody wound with fifty, broken bone with seventy, manslaughter with ninety; a second manslaughter, committed without the former being atoned for, is punished with the Peshôtanu penalty. In the same way the six other crimes, repeated eight, or seven, or six, or five, or four, or three times make the committer go through the whole series of penalties up to the Peshôtanu penalty.
§ 20. If one reviews the different crimes described in the Vendîdâd, and the respective penalties prescribed for them, one cannot but wonder at first sight at the strange inequality between crime and penalty. Beccaria would have felt uncomfortable while reading the Vendîdâd. It is safer to kill a man than to serve bad food to a shepherd's dog, for the manslayer gets off with ninety stripes, whereas the bad master is at once a Peshôtanu
74, and will receive two hundred stripes. Two hundred stripes are awarded if one tills land in which a corpse has been buried within the year
75, if a woman just delivered of child drinks water
76, if one suppresses the menses of a woman
77, if one performs a sacrifice in a house where a man has just died
78, if one neglects fastening the corpse of a dead man so that birds or dogs may not take dead matter to trees and rivers
79. Two hundred stripes if one throws on the ground a bone of a man's corpse, of a dog's carcase as big as two ribs, four hundred if one throws a bone as big as a breast bone, six hundred if one throws a skull, one thousand if the whole corpse
80. Four hundred stripes if one, being in a state of uncleanness, touches water or trees
81, four hundred if one covers with cloth a dead man's feet, six hundred if one covers his legs, eight hundred if the whole body
82. Five hundred stripes for killing a whelp, six hundred for killing a stray dog, seven hundred for a house dog, eight hundred for a shepherd's dog
83, one thousand stripes for killing a Vanhâpara dog, ten thousand stripes for killing a water dog
Capital punishment is expressly pronounced only against the false cleanser
85 and the 'carrier alone
Yet any one who bethinks himself of the spirit of the old Aryan legislation will easily conceive that there may be in its eyes many crimes more heinous, and to be punished more severely, than manslaughter: offences against man injure only one man; offences against gods endanger all mankind. No one should wonder at the unqualified cleanser being put to death who reads Demosthenes’ Neaera; the Persians who defiled the ground by burying a corpse were not more severely punished than the Greeks were for defiling with corpses the holy ground of Delos
87, or than the conquerors at Arginousae; nor would the Athenians, who put to death Atarbes
88, have much stared at the awful revenge taken for the murder of the sacred dog. There is hardly any prescription in the Vendîdâd, however odd and absurd it may seem, but has its counterpart or its explanation in other Aryan legislations: if we had a Latin or a Greek Vendîdâd, I doubt whether it would look more rational.
§ 21. Yet, if theoretically the very absurdity of its principles is nothing peculiar to the Mazdean law, nay, is a proof of its authenticity, it may be doubted whether it could ever have been actually applied in the form stated in the texts. It may be doubted whether the murder of a shepherd's dog could have been actually punished with eight hundred stripes, much more whether the murder of a water dog could have been really punished with ten thousand stripes, unless we suppose that human endurance was different in ancient Persia from what it is elsewhere, or even in modern Persia herself
89. Now as we see that in modern tradition bodily punishment is estimated in money value, that is to say, converted into fines, a conversion which is alluded to in the Pahlavi translation
90, it may readily be admitted that as early as the time of the last edition of the Vendîdâd, that conversion had already been made. In the Ravâets, two hundred stripes, or a Tanâfûhr, are estimated as equal to three hundred istîrs or twelve hundred dirhems, or thirteen hundred and fifty rupees; a stripe is therefore about equal to six rupees
91. How far that system prevailed in practice, whether the guilty might take advantage of this commutation of his own accord, or only with the assent of the judge, we cannot decide. It is very likely that the riches of the fire-temples came for the most part from that source, and that the sound of the dirhems often made the Sraoshô-karana fall from the hands of the Mobeds. That the system of financial penalties did not, however, suppress the system of bodily penalties, appears from the customs of the Parsis who apply both, and from the Pahlavi Commentary which expressly distinguishes three sorts of atonement: the atonement by money (khvâstak), the atonement by the Sraoshô-karana, and the atonement by cleansing.
§ 22. This third element of atonement is strictly religious. It consists in repentance, which is manifested by avowal of the guilt and by the recital of a formula of repentance, the Patet. The performance of the Patet has only a religious effect: it saves the sinner from penalties in the other world, but not from those here below: it delivers him before God, but not before man. When the sacrilegious cleanser has repented his sin, he is not the less flayed and beheaded, but his soul is saved
92. Yet, although it has no efficacy in causing the sin to be remitted, the absence of it has power to cause it to be aggravated
§ 23. Thus far for sins that can be atoned for. There are some that are anâperetha, 'inexpiable,' which means, as it seems, that they are punished with death here below, and with torments in the other world.
Amongst the anâperetha sins are named the burning of the dead, the burying of the dead
94, the eating dead matter
95, unnatural sin
96, and self-pollution
97. Although it is not expressly declared that these sins were punished with death, yet we know it of several of them, either from Greek accounts or from Parsi tradition. There are also whole classes of sinners whose life, it would seem, can be taken by any one who detects them in the act, such as the courtezan, the highwayman, the Sodomite, and the corpse-burner
§ 24. Such are the most important principles of the Mazdean law that can be gathered from the Vendîdâd. These details, incomplete as they are, may give us an idea, if not of the Sassanian practice, at least of the Sassanian ideal. That it was an ideal which intended to pass into practice, we know from the religious wars against Armenia, and from the fact that very often the superintendence of justice and the highest offices of the state were committed to Mobeds.
We must now add a few words on the plan of the following translation. As to our method we beg to refer to the second chapter above. It rests on the Parsi tradition, corrected or confirmed by the comparative method. The Parsi tradition is found in the Pahlavi Commentary
99, the understanding of which was facilitated to us first by the Gujarathi translation and paraphrase of Aspendiârji
100, and by a Persian transliteration and translation belonging to the Haug collection in Munich
101, for the use of which we were indebted to the obliging kindness of the Director of the State Library in Munich, Professor von Halm. The Ravâets and the Saddar
102 frequently gave us valuable information as to the traditional meaning of doubtful passages. As for the works of European scholars, we are much indebted to the Commentary on the Avesta by Professor Spiegel, and to the translations in the second edition of Martin Haug's Essays.
We have followed the text of the Avesta as given by Westergaard; the division into paragraphs is according to Westergaard; but we have given in brackets the corresponding divisions of Professor Spiegel's edition.
Many passages in the Vendîdâd Sâdah are mere quotations from the Pahlavi Commentary which have crept into the Sâdah text: we have not admitted them into the text. They are generally known to be spurious from their not being translated in the Commentary
103: yet the absence of a Pahlavi translation is not always an unmistakable sign of such spuriousness. Sometimes the translation has been lost in our manuscripts, or omitted as having already been given in identical or nearly identical terms. When we thought that this was the case, we have admitted the untranslated passages into the text, but in brackets
We have divided the principal Fargards into several sections according to the matter they contain: this division, which is meant as an attempt to resolve the Vendîdâd into its primitive fragments, has, of course, no traditional authority, the divisions into paragraphs being the only ones that rest upon the authority of the manuscripts.
The translation will be found, in many passages, to differ greatly from the translations published heretofore
105. The nature of this series of translations did not allow us to give full justificatory notes, but we have endeavoured in most cases to make the explanatory notes account to scholars for the new meanings we have adopted, and, in some cases, we hope that the original text, read anew, will by itself justify our translation
We must not conclude this introduction without tendering our warmest thanks to Mr. E. W. West, who kindly revised the MS. of the translation before it went to press, and who has, we hope, succeeded in making our often imperfect English more acceptable to English readers.
Click on footnote numbers to return to the text above
1 The word Vendîdâd is a corruption of Vîdaêvô-dâtem (dâtem), 'the anti-demoniac law.' It is sometimes applied to the whole of the law (Vendîdâd Sâdah).
2 See above, Chapter 3 #2.
3 As an introduction to a code of laws on physicians; see Farg. VII, 36-44.
4 For instance, Farg. V, 15-20; III, 24-29; 30-32; 33; IV, 47-49.
5 III, 14-22; 36 seq.; XIX, 11-25.
6 The passages on medicine (VII, 36-44), and on the sea Vouru-kasha 15-20).
7 It contains two digressions, the one on funeral laws, the other on husbandry. See Farg. III, Introd.
8 It contains one digression on physical weal, which must have belonged originally to Farg. III. See Farg. IV. Introd.
9 V, 27-30 = VII, 6-9; V, 45-54 = VII, 60-69; V, 57-62 = VII, 17-22.
10 The outward form of the Vendîdâd has been often compared with that of the Books of Moses. But in reality, in the Bible, there is no conversation between God and the lawgiver: the law comes down unasked, and God gives commands, but gives no answers. In the Vendîdâd, on the contrary, it is the wish of man, not the will of God, that is the first cause of the revelation. Man must ask of Ahura, who knows everything, and is pleased to answer (XVIII, 13 seq.); the law is 'the question to Ahura,' âhuri frasnô.
11 Farg. V, 21, from Yasna XLVIII (XLVII), 5.
12 Farg. VII, 1 seq.
13 In the shape of a fly. 'The fly that came to the smell of the dead body was thought to be the corpse-spirit that came to take possession of the dead in the name of Ahriman' (Justi, Persien, p. 88).
14 Farg. VIII, 35-72; IX, 12-36.
15 Saddar 78.
16 In practice they are still less particular: 'the Sag-dîd may be performed by a shepherd's dog, by a house dog, by a Vohunazga dog (see Farg. XIII, 19, n.), or by a young dog (a dog four months old), Comm. ad Farg. VII, 2. As birds of prey are as fiend-smiting as the dog, they are Nasu-smiters like him, and one may appeal to their services, when there is no dog at hand (see Farg. VII, 3, n. 5).
17 Rig-veda X, 14, 10 seq.
18 Gr. Rav. p. 592. Allusions to this myth are found in Farg. XIII, 9, and XIX, 30. The Commentary ad Farg. XIII, 17 has: 'There are dogs who watch over the earthly regions: there are others who watch over the fourteen heavenly regions.' The birth of the yellow-eared dog is described in the Ravâet (l.c.) as follows: 'Ormazd, wishing to keep the body of the first man, Gayômart, from the assaults of Ahriman, who tried to kill him, cried out: "O thou-yellow-eared dog, arise!" and directly the dog barked and shook his two ears; and the unclean Satan and the fiends, when they saw the dreadful looks of the yellow-eared dog, and heard his barking, were sore afraid and fled down to hell.'
19 Farg. VIII, 14-22.
20 Orm. Ahr. §124. The use of gômêz has been lately found to be known in Basse-Bretagne (Luzel, Le Nirang des Parsis en Basse-Bretagne, Mélusine, 493).
21 Farg. V, 27; cf. n. 5.
22 Farg. VIII, 33-340
23 Ignem coelitus delapsum (Ammian. Marcel. XXVII, 6); Cedrenus; Elisaeus; Recogn. Clement. IV, 29; Clem. Homil. IX, 6; Henry Lord.
24 J. Fryer, A New Account of East India and Persia, 1698, p. 265.
25 Farg. VIII, 81-96; 79-80. Cf. above, p. lxiv.
26 Extinguishing it is a mortal sin (Ravâets; Elisaeus; cf. Strabo XV, 14).
27 A custom still existing with the Tâzîk, an Iranian tribe in Eastern Persia (de Khanikoff, Ethnographie de la Perse). Strabo XV, 14. Manu has the same prescription (IV, 53). Cf. Farg. XIV, 8, n. 7.
28 Strabo XV, 14; cf. Herod. III, 16.
29 Farg. I, 17; cf. Farg. VIII, 74.
30 Farg. VII, 25-27; Strabo XV, 14; Herod. I, 138.
31 King Balash (Josué le Stylite, traduction Martin, § xx). It seems as if there were a confusion between Balash and Kavât; at any rate, it shows that bathing smacked of heresy. Jews were forbidden to perform the legal ablutions (Fürst, Culturgeschichte der Juden, 9).
33 Farg. I, 13.
34 From the reign of Cyrus.
36 Still the worship of the earth seems not to have so deeply penetrated the general religion as the worship of fire, The laws about the disposal of the dead were interpreted by many, it would seem, as intended only to secure the purity of water and fire, and they thought that they might be at peace with religion if they had taken care to bury the corpse, so that no part of it might be taken by animals to fire or water (Farg. III, 41, n, 7).
37 Farg, VI, 44 seq.; VIII, 10, seq. Cf. IX, 11, n 4. Moreover, the Dakhma is ideally separated from the ground by means of a golden thread, which is supposed to keep it suspended in the air (Ravâet, ap. Spiegel, Uebersetzung des Avesta II, XXXVI).
38 'The Dakhma is a round building, and is designated by some writers, "The Tower of Silence." A round pit, about six feet deep, is surrounded by an annular stone pavement, about seven feet wide, on which the dead bodies are placed. This place is enclosed all round by a stone wall some twenty feet high, with a small door on one side for taking the body in. The whole is built up of and paved with stone. The pit has communication with three or more closed pits, at some distance into which the rain washes out the liquids and the remains of the dead bodies' (Dadabhai Naoroji, The Manners and Customs of the Parsees, Bombay, 1864, p. 16). Cf. Farg. VI. 50. A Dakhma is the first building the Parsis erect when settling on a new place (Dosabhoy Framjee).
39 The Avesta and the Commentator attach great importance to that point: it is as if the dead man's life were thus prolonged, since he can still behold the sun. 'Grant us that we may long behold the sun,' said the Indian Rishi.
40 Farg. V, 35 seq.
43 See Farg. XIV, 8, n. 7.
44 Farg. XVII.
45 Farg. I, 18-19; XVI, 11. Cf. Bund. III.
46 Farg XVI, 15.
47 Cf. Leviticus. See Pliny VII, 13.
48 Farg. V, 45, seq.
49 Farg. VII, 70 seq.
50 'When there is a pregnant woman in a house, one must take care that there be fire continually in it; when the child is brought forth, one must burn a candle, or, better still, a fire, for three days and three nights, to render the Dêvs and Drugs unable to harm the child; for there is great danger during those three days and nights after the birth of the child' (Saddar 16).
51 'When the child is being born, one brandishes a sword on the four sides, lest fairy Aal kill it' (Polack, Persien I, 223). In Rome, three gods, Intercidona, Pilumnus, and Deverra, keep her threshold, lest Sylvanus come in and harm her (Augustinus, De Civ. D. VI, 9).
52 Farg. VII, 44.
54 Herod. I, 138.
55 Agathias II, 23.
56 The Armêst-gâh for women in their menses is called Dashtânistân.
57 Herod. l. l.; Farg. II, 29.
58 Farg. III, 21, n. 2.
59 Farg. VIII, 35-36; 98-99; cf. VII, 29-30, and p. 1 to 30.
60 Farg. IX. The Barashnûm, originally meant to remove the uncleanness from the dead, became a general instrument of holiness. Children when putting on the Kôstî (Farg. XVIII, 9, n. 4) perform it to be cleansed from the natural uncleanness they have contracted in the womb of their mothers. It is good for every one to perform it once a year.
61 Farg. VIII, 36.
62 Farg. V, 27 seq.; VII, 1 seq.
63 Farg. XVI, 12.
64 Farg. VII, 73 seq.
65 Farg. VII, 14 seq.
66 Farg. VII, 28 seq.
67 Farg VIII, 33-34.
69 An istîr (στατήρ) is as much as four dirhems (δραχμή). The dirhem is estimated by modern tradition a little more than a rupee.
70 Farg. IV, 5 seq.
71 Two different sorts of menaces; see IV, 54.
72 The general formula is literally 'Let (the priest; probably, the Sraoshâ-varez) strike so many strokes with the Aspahê-astra, so many strokes with the Sraoshô-karana.' Astra means in Sanskrit 'a goad,' so that Aspahê-astra may mean 'a horse-goad;' but Aspendiârji translates it by durra, 'a thong,' which suits the sense better, and agrees with etymology too ('an instrument to drive a horse, a whip;' astra, from the root az, 'to drive;' it is the Aspahê-astra which is referred to by Sozomenos II, 13: ἱμάσιν ὡμοῖς χαλεπῶς αὐτὸν ἐβασάνισαν οἱ μάγοι (the Sraoshâ-varez), βιαζόμενοι προσκυῆσαι τὸν ἥλιον). Sraoshô-karana is translated by kâbuk, 'a whip,' which agrees with the Sanskrit translation of the sî-srôshkaranâm sin, 'yat tribhir gokarmasataghâtâis prâyaskityam bhavati tâvanmâtram, a sin to be punished with three strokes with a whip.' It seems to follow that Aspahê-astra and Sraoshô-karana are one and the same instrument, designated with two names, first in reference to its shape, and then to its use (Sraoshô-karana meaning 'the instrument for penalty,' or 'the instrument of the Sraoshâ-varez?'). The Aspahê-astra is once called astra mairya, 'the astra for the account to be given,' that is, 'for the payment of the penalty' (Farg. XVIII, 4).
73 Farg. IV, 20, 21, 24, 25, 28, 29, 32, 33, 35, 36, 38, 39, 41,42; V, 44; VI, 5, 9, 19, 48, &c.
74 Farg. IV, 40, and XIII, 24.
75 Farg. VI, 5.
76 Farg. VII, 70 seq.
77 Farg. XVI, 13 seq.
78 Farg. V, 39.
79 Farg. VI, 47 seq.
80 Farg. VI, 10 seq.
81 Farg. VIII, 104 seq.
82 Farg. VIII, 23 seq.
83 Farg, XIII, 8 seq.
84 Farg. XIV, 1 seq.
85 Farg. IX, 47 seq.
86 Farg. III, 14 seq. Yet there were other capital crimes. See below, § 23.
87 Diodor. XII, 58.
88 Aelianus, Hist. Var. V, 17.
89 In the time of Chardin, the number of stripes inflicted on the guilty never exceeded three hundred; in the old German law, two hundred; in the Hebrew law, forty.
90 Ad Farg. XIV, 2.
91 In later Parsîism every sin (and every good deed) has its value in money fixed, and may thus be weighed in the scales of Rashnu. If the number of sin dirhems outweigh the number of the good deed dirhems, the soul is saved. Herodotus noticed the same principle of compensation in the Persian law of his time (I, 137; cf. VII, 194).
92 Farg. IX, 49, n.; Cf. III, 20 seq.
93 Farg. IV, 20, 24, 28, 32, 35, &c.
94 Farg. I, 13, 17; Strabo XV, 14.
95 Farg. VII, 23 seq.
96 Farg. I, 12; Cf. VIII, 32.
97 Farg. VIII, 27.
98 Farg. XVIII, 64.
99 Our quotations refer to the text given in Spiegel's edition, but corrected after the London manuscript.
100 Bombay, 1842, 2 Vols. in 8°.
101 Unfortunately the copy is incomplete: there are two lacunae, one from I, 11 to the end of the chapter; the other, more extensive, from VI, 26 to IX. The perfect accordance of this Persian translation with the Gujarathi of Aspendiârji shows that both are derived from one and the same source. Their accordance is striking even in mistakes; for instance, the Pahlavi avâstâr
, a transliteration of the Zend a-vâstra, 'without pastures' (VII. 28), is misread by the Persian translator hvâstâr, 'he who wishes,' owing to the ambiguity of the Pahlavi letter (av or hv), and it is translated by Aspendiârji Kâhânâr, 'the wisher.'
102 The prose Saddar (as found in the Great Ravâet), which differs considerably from the Saddar in verse, as translated by Hyde.
103 Without speaking of their not being connected with the context. See Farg. I, 4, 15, 20; II, 6, 20; V, 1; VII, 53-54.
104 Farg. VII, 3; VIII, 95. Formulae and enumerations are often left untranslated, although they must be considered part of the text (VIII, 72: XI, 9, 12; XX, 6, &c.)
105 Complete translations of the Vendîdâd have been published by Anquetil Duperron in France (Paris, 1771), by Professor Spiegel in Germany (Leipzig, 1852), by Canon de Harlez in Belgium (Louvain, 1877). The translation of Professor Spiegel was translated into English by Professor Bleeck, who added useful information from inedited Gujarathi translations (Hertford, 1864).
106 The following is a list of the principal abbreviations used in this volume:--
Asp. = Aspendiârji's translation.
Bund. = Bundahis; Arabic numbers refer to the chapter (according to Justi's edition); Roman numbers refer to the page and line.
Comm. = The Pahlavi Commentary.
Gr. Rav. = Le Grand Ravâet (in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, Supplément Persan, No. 47).
Orm. Ahr. = Ormazd et Ahriman, Paris, Vieweg, 1877.
» Chapter 1, Discovery of the Zend Avesta
» Chapter 2 The Interpretation of the Zend-Avesta
» Chapter 3 The Formation of the Zend-Avesta
» Chapter 4 The Origin of the Avesta Religion
» Chapter 5 The Vendīdād