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Pahlavi Texts, Part II (SBE18), E.W. West, tr. [1882], at

p. 282


1. Then comes that itself 1 which is dictated in the middle of your epistle, and, thereupon, it lays hold of me, and, owing to its hellish gloom, pallid appearance, and hellish effect, benediction is perplexedly dispensed by me in terror for my heart and mind; I have, also, grievously repented, as regards my own former arrangements in my warfare of violence--which were undeceptive in the balance pertaining to Rashnû 2--of any real falsity of the co-existent one 3 I may have produced.

2. Responsible for the malice and annoyance of unjust kinds which are encountering us is the fiend of great strength, who is unobserving, seductive, astute in evil, eager for causing annihilation (gastokûn-varen), and full of deceit, so that it is possible for him to render doubtful, when so deceived, even him who is most a listener to essential righteousness, most desirous of steadfast truth, most performing proper religious customs, most acquainted with good ideas, most amazingly careful of his soul, most approved in the most wounding hell-brought conflict, and most at home (khânagîktûm) in truth of all kinds, and to show him a semblance of reality in unreality, and of unreality in reality. 3. Just as even that similitude which is mentioned in revelation thus: 'He intends righteousness and considers

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about it thus: "A good work is done by me," and he acquires fiendishness--that is, it becomes a source of sin for him--who shall bring forth water without holy-water to one contaminated by dead matter (nas-hômand), or who shall bring it forth without holy-water on a concealed or dark place in the night 1.'

4. And about this I have no doubt, that the wish of that spirit is not coincident with righteousness, for it is realised, understood, and known that, as regards his own creatures, he is not careful for the proper movement of body and for the long living of life; so that the furtherance and continuance of these, which are his original resources of body and activities (khapârânŏ) of life, become, for him who is among them (the fiend's creatures), an increase of the propitiation of the sacred beings, of the practice of religion, and of the advancement and benediction of the teachings of just high-priests 2. 5. It is also manifest from the constantly-operating arrangement of manuscripts and synodical statements, about which Afarg 3 wrote without falsifying the religion and apart from controversies; because among them (the fiend's creatures) is he who has said they are like unto that which is now written

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by him himself about it, and it has arranged much deliverance from sin 1.

6. Of this, too, I am aware, that, except there where a purifier is in no way reached, his great duty--which is just the purification in which there is a washer who is cleansed (masîdô) in the religious mode for the profession of the priesthood--is then a means which the high-priests should allow 2. 7. A washing which is not religiously ritualistic is ranked as an operation among the useless ones; it is vicious and grievously criminal, because the special means which, by preserving the soul 3, is the perfect happiness of men, is the purification

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of men. 8. It is said 1: 'The purification of men cleansingly is a something (aîtŏ) for the soul that should be after perfect birth; when they have been fully born the purification of others is the one thing which is good for the soul.'

9. And it is shown in another place that it is possible to obtain possession of purification also for the soul through purification of the body, even as it is said that a purifier is requested by him. to. And it is necessary for him to speak thus: 'I have thus stood close by the body of him who is dead; I am no wisher for it by thought, I am no wisher for it by word, I am no wisher for it by deed; which is the reason--that is, on account of pollution--it is not possible to seek good works by thought, word, or deed, and it demands purification for me, that is, wash me thoroughly 2!' 11. As it is thereby declared that when he whose body is not purified, until they thoroughly wash him, is not able to seek good works by thought, word, or deed, and is not able to purify his soul, it is then a matter for the truly wise to seek even for purification of the soul by the purification of the body, for whose religious purification are those things which are unsubdued (asikand) in the religious ritual.

12. When these are thus the statements of former upholders of the religion and high-priests of the religion, he who is more intelligent and more active

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in the religion of the Mazda-worshippers in every house, village, tribe, and province--and, very much more the man who is righteous, of fluent speech, speaking the truth, who has chanted the sacred hymns, acquainted with the ritual, trained for the work, of renowned disposition, and a friend of the soul--is competent for the purification which it is very important to prepare, to think of, and to promote.

13. When the period is so unworthy, the fiend so abundantly contentious, and the hasty preparer of holy-water of such base origin (dûs-vêkh) 1--which happens, moreover, when the good are equally low-minded (ham-bâstŏ-mînisnŏ)--we strive for what encourages the preparation of that even which is a collectively virtuous profession. 14. Then, too, there remains such rising in strength of many new things from very many countries, which is particularly grievous distress and danger to us; they deliver tokens of them to us applaudingly, and the expansibility of the words of the delivering diffuser of these and also other religious customs, as the sacred beings' own persistency and complete glory, is a great and powerful capability.


282:1 J has 'the writing.'

282:2 See Dd. XIV, 4.

282:3 The evil spirit who is supposed to be, for a time, co-existent with the beneficent spirit of Aûharmazd.

283:1 Quoted from Pahl. Vend. VII, 194-196, with some slight variations from the existing text. The meaning is that it is quite possible to commit sin by doing a good action in an improper manner.

283:2 That is, even the wicked, when they seek welfare, have to take to religious practices.

283:3 A commentator whose opinions are frequently quoted in the Pahlavi translations of the Avesta (see Sls. I, 3). J has 'about which the splendour (afrand) of the religion is without falsehood.'

284:1 That is, any one who explains the scriptures in a new fashion to suit his own purposes, which he thereby represents as beneficial, is merely carrying out the wishes of the fiend, The author is here, referring to the heretical teachings of his brother, regarding purification, which are further described in the sequel.

284:2 That is, whenever a properly-qualified purifier is procurable, the priests should require him to purify any one who happens to be defiled by contact with dead matter by means of the Bareshnûm ceremony (see App. IV). It appears from the sequel, and from Eps. II and III, that the heresy of Zâd-sparam consisted chiefly of a misinterpretation of Vend. VIII, 278-299 (see App. V), which passage directs that a man in the fields, who has touched a corpse not yet eaten by dogs or birds, shall wash himself fifteen times with bull's urine, that he shall then run to some village, asking three different men on the way to cleanse him with the proper ceremony, and if they decline they each take upon themselves a share of the sin; when arrived at the village he shall ask a fourth time to be cleansed, and if no one will perform the ceremony he must wash himself with bull's urine and water in the ordinary manner, and shall be clean. The erroneous teaching of Zâd-sparam was that the fifteen times' washing was sufficient, without the subsequent ceremonial cleansing; and the object of these epistles was to combat that view of the law.

284:3 The ceremonial purification is supposed to cleanse the soul, p. 285 whereas ordinary washing cleanses the body only, and is spiritually useless.

285:1 In Pahl. Vend. V, 65, X, 35, being a translation of a quotation from the Gâthas or sacred hymns (Yas. XLVII, 5, c).

285:2 Quoted, with some variation, from Pahl. Vend. VIII, 283, 284 (see App. V).

286:1 This seems to be an allusion to the unworthiness of some of the priests of the period (compare Ep. II, i, 13; y, 14).

Next: Chapter III