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

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1. 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 (kûstîkŏ) 1 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?

2. 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

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skirted 1 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 (hamâî-dâdŏ) religion and belief.

4. 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, flavour from foods, fragrance from aromatic herbs, tint (bâm) from colours, the good quality of spears from the forest, health from the patient (môlvarakân), 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 2 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 (kîhastŏ) 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 (vêsisnakŏ) appearance

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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 (shêdŏ) 1.

6. But owing to that which happens when they plant a tree in the name of a sacred being 2 and eat the produce, and practise other worldly labour 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 (khûstakîhâ) it is manifest that they should meditate inwardly (dên mînŏyên) 3. 7. A token and sign of worship is of great use, and a great assistance (bangisnŏ) therein is this belt (band), which is called the Kûstîk, that is tied on the middle of the body.

8. 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 (akadbâ) religion whose indication is sagaciously propitiating with the purifying cup 4--wears upon the body that spiritual, customary, and

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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.

9. One is this, that, as the lowliest servant and greatest lord are steadily agreed, and it is beneficial 1 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.

10. 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 (hangâmîkânŏ) 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.

II. One is this, that the ancients acquainted with religion have communicated these tidings (srôbŏ)

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unto our ancestors and to us:--'When the destroyer came upon the creatures, the demons and witches (parîkŏ) 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 1 of the glory of the religion, and the girdle (parvand) 2 of the wishes and good works of all, when 3 it is arrayed like a brilliant thread-girdle (kûstîk), and all its luminaries are girded (parvastŏ) 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 (mânsar) thus: 'The star-studded girdle (ayîvyahângânŏ) of the spirit-fashioned, good religion of the Mazda-worshippers 4.' 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 (ahvân). 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 5, who are in purity and indestructibility.

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[paragraph continues] 15. And it (the girdle) is commanded in revelation for men, more particularly for upholders of the religion 1, to be within the middle third and near to the uppermost third of the body 2.

16. One is this, that Yim the splendid, son of Vîvangha 3, who in his worldly career was most prosperous in worldly affairs, a keeper away of all agitations of temper 4 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 Aûharmazd. 17. And about his administration (dâdârîh) of the creatures it is said he himself became cut 5 away from radiant glory by that fiendishness 6, and their cause of wandering

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[paragraph continues] (garînisnŏ) is the demon, and mankind perishes in that wandering from plain and hill-side 1. 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 2, 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 3 likewise order it.

19. One is this, that just as through that reason 4, which is an appointment (padŏ-dahisnŏ) that the sacred beings decreed, the sacred thread-girdle was worn even before the coming of Zaratûst the Spîtamân, so after the coming of that messenger (vakhsvar) of the sacred beings, the righteous Zaratûst--who enjoined the commands of the good spirits and the exposition of the religion, with discourse praising the sacred beings and scriptures (avîstâkŏ) about steadfastness in the good religion--the same religious girdle is put on, with a religious formula 5, around

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the body, over the garment of Vohûman 1. 20. Because the same intimation, relative to girding (parvandisnîk) 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, 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 2, more obstructive of the way to sin, and more contesting (kastaktar) the will of the demons.

21. 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 3 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 (aêvâz) of whose question and reply is spoken thus 4:--'"O creator! in whom is the manifestation of secretly-progressing destruction, that is, in whom is its progress 5?" And Aûharmazd spoke thus: "In him who is the guide of a vile religion; whoever it is who puts on a girdle

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at most thrice (3-tûmak) in a year 1, that is, he does not wear a sacred shirt and thread-girdle, 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.

22. The same belt, kept on after the command of Yim, was the first token as regards which an annihilator of destruction is mentioned and established by law; and on both occasions 2 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, Zaratûst the Spîtamân, mentioned thus:--'The sacred thread-girdle 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 neighbourhood 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 (hambûr) 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 there is a passage for one's want of openness (avîshôdanŏ) and secret ruin, and also a shutting up 3 of life; with a high sacred 

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girdle there is a way for thought, word, and deed, and no confinement (agîrisnŏkârîh) of life; and tying the sacred girdle with a religious rite (hamdînŏ) is like a glory amid the glories of the angels, for it is itself through the aid of the patron spirit (ahvô). 26. And from the heart, which is the place of thought and dwelling of life, on the upper side (lâlâîh) are the eye, ear, tongue, and brain, which are the dwellings of sight, hearing, speech, understanding, and intellect; and on its lower side (frôdîh) 1 is the abode of a father's generativeness.

27. When this sacred thread-girdle, whose token, sign, and presage are such 2, is tied, it is girded on with this glorious rite 3 of the glorious ones, the custom of the learned, the command of rulers, and the decree of apostles.

28. That secretly-progressing destruction 4, which arises from the fiend of insubordination (asardârîh) 5 who was much afraid of Yim, and which is averse to the labour of men and the service of Aûharmazd, is a demon and irreligious (dûs-dînô), who is full of fear of the girdles (parvandîhâ) of the glory of

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religion, with which both angels and also worldlings have become belted and diligent.

29. Then, because the glory for this belt of ours, which is called the Kûstîk and is worn on the middle of the body, remains unreleased (avî-vûkht) from the angels, who are givers of glory, and from men who are glorious--which is explained as a similitude and sample of fortunes (bâharakŏîhâ) among worldlings, even those who are actually primitive creatures likewise 1--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 2. 31. Also outside the seat of the existence of faith 3 all men have the waist, or the palms of the hands 4, or similar joints for a girdle (kûstîkŏ); and it is deemed comely, desirable, and convenient for work to wear it. 32. And it is manifestly the lot (dakŏ) 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,

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which they shall tie on account of the superior beings (pâshûmân) with the proper formula, more particularly with that which one utters when there is reliance upon the scripture itself.


122:1 The Kûstîk (Pers. kustî) consists of a string, about the size of a stay-lace, which is first passed twice round the waist very loosely, over the sacred shirt (see Chap. XL, 2), and tied in front with a loose double knot (right-handed and left-handed), and the long ends are then passed a third time round the waist and tied again behind with a similar double knot. This string contains six strands, each consisting of twelve very fine, white, woollen threads twisted together, or seventy-two threads in all. Near each end the six strands are braided together, instead of being twisted, and for the last inch they are braided into three separate string-ends of two strands each; these string-ends, therefore, contain twenty-four threads each, and form a kind of fringed end to the string. This fringe is a sort of remembrancer, as its six strands are supposed to symbolize the six Gâhanbârs or season-festivals, the twelve threads in each strand symbolize the twelve months, the twenty-four threads in each string-end symbolize the twenty-four kardaks or sections of the Visparad, and the seventy-two threads in the whole string symbolize the seventy-two his or chapters of the Yasna. The girdle has to be re-tied every time the hands have been washed, which, in order to comply with the ceremonial laws, occurs many times in the day; and each time it has to be done with ceremony and a particular formula of prayer (see § 27).

123:1 That is, fully clad, as going about uncovered is a sin (see Chap. XL, 4). On occasions of ceremony, and for the purpose of showing extraordinary respect, the Parsis wear an extra long-skirted robe.

123:2 Reading drûdŏêd, but the orthography is unusual and the word, therefore, uncertain.

124:1 The author is here adopting his most involved style of writing, which, in the original Pahlavi, is often hardly intelligible, and particularly apt to be misunderstood; but the object of this section seems to be to deprecate the Muhammadan practice of frequent prostrations during prayer, which are in marked contrast to the slight obeisances made by the Parsis.

124:2 Whether yêdatô means 'an angel,' or 'God,' is here uncertain.

124:3 The argument is that the growth of plants is so obviously occasioned by some unseen power that it naturally leads to meditation, and then to prayer.

124:4 The words dânisnîkŏ levatman-tâstîk-shnâyîn seem to refer to the Bareshnûm ceremony of purification, described in Vend. IX, 1-145 (see App. IV), which is a rite eminently characteristic of Mazda-worship.

125:1 Reading spenâk, but it may be sazŏâk, 'seemly.'

126:1 See Chap. XXXVII, 47.

126:2 It is not certain that parvand signifies 'a girdle,' or that parvastanŏ means 'to gird,' but they seem to be used in that sense here. The former word translates Av. paurvanîm, 'leading the Pleiades' (Haug's Essays, p. 182), in Yas. IX, 81, an epithet applied to the belt of Orion.

126:3 M14 has 'which.'

126:4 Quoted from Pahl. Yas. IX, 81 (see Chap. XXXVII, 48).

126:5 See Chap. XXXVII, 24-27.

127:1 M14 continues as follows:--'through that girdle (parvand) of the religion, and a thread-girdle (kûstîkŏ), from the region of the world and religious in character, is put on within the middle third,' &c.

127:2 Some words are evidently here missing in the Pahl. text, including the first word of the next section. The reason here given for the girdle being worn round the waist, just below the uppermost third of the body, is that the impregnable barrier of heaven (of which the girdle is a counterpart) is said to be just below the uppermost third of the sky.

127:3 See Chap. XXXVII, 80, 95.

127:4 Reading vispŏ khôî-sôrân, but we might perhaps read vispŏân sahôrân, 'all oppressors,' assuming that sahôr stands for Av. sâthra, a term applied to some particular tribe of another religion which was under the rule of Yim and his two predecessors (see Zamyâd Yt. 26, 28, 31). Another possible reading is vispŏân yêkhvarân, 'all frosts.'

127:5 Assuming that khvûdakŏ stands for khûdakŏ, but the word is uncertain.

127:6 The particular kind of fiendishness that led Yim astray in his old age (like Solomon) was lying, that is, denial of the truth of his religion. In consequence of this apostasy the royal glory departed from him, and he allied himself to the demons in the p. 128 617th year of his reign, and remained in their power for most of the remaining century of his life (see Zamyâd Yt. 31-38, Bd. XVIII, 1, XXXIV, 4).

128:1 Assuming that dastŏ stands for Pers. dast, and varîvakŏ, for Pers. garîvah; otherwise, we may read 'from dignity and the hovel (varîkakŏ),' meaning that they perish from all ranks; instead of all places.

128:2 The rampart of heaven (see § 11).

128:3 His successors.

128:4 As detailed in § 18.

128:5 The Nîrang-i Kustî (see § 27).

129:1 The sacred shirt (see Chap. XL, 2). The garment of a purified man is called Vohûman in Vend. XIX, 76--78, 81--83 (trans. D.).

129:2 The term seg or sêg, used for 'destruction' here. and in §§ 21--23, is the name of 'the fiend who causes annihilation' (see Bd. XXVIII, 26).

129:3 It is possible that an-ayîvyâgânîh may mean 'no garmenting,' and refer to the sacred shirt, as the previous term avîbandîh, 'no belting,' refers to the sacred thread-girdle.

129:4 In Pahl. Vend. XVIII, 21-23, with some variations (see Haug's Essays, p. 367).

129:5 Instead of rûbâkîh, 'progress,' K35 has rûbânîh, which might mean 'soul-state,' but is probably a clerical blunder.

130:1 In the Vendidad it is he who does not put one on for three years.

130:2 Both when ordered by Vim and when confirmed by Zaratûst.

130:3 Reading avar-vadisnŏih (the first nasal in bandisn = vandisn being often omitted); it can hardly be afrandisnŏîh, 'magnificence,' because the latter abstract suffix, -îh, would be p. 131 ungrammatical after the former, -isnŏ, in an uncompounded verbal noun. Some of the other words are also uncertain.

131:1 The MSS. have merely rôdih.

131:2 As stated in § 23.

131:3 This is the Nîrang-i Kustî, or girdle formula, that has to be performed every time the girdle is re-tied, which happens several times a day. It is fully detailed in Appendix II, at the end of this volume.

131:4 See § 21; the first letter of nîhân, 'secretly,' is omitted by K35 in both places.

131:5g, the fiend of destruction, is connected with the demon Bût in Vend. XIX, 4, 6; but the characteristic of 'insubordination' is more applicable to the demon Tarômat, 'the disobedient' (see Bd. XXVIII, 14, 26, 34).

132:1 The precise meaning is not very clear.

132:2 Alluding probably to the Brahmanical thread which is worn by the higher castes of Hindus diagonally, over one shoulder and below the other arm, and is so far analogous to the Parsi thread-girdle that it is a religious symbol put on with a religious rite.

132:3 Reading varôyisnŏ ahû gâs, but K35 has rôyisnŏ, 'growth,' instead of 'faith.'

132:4 Reading kafihâ, or kafagîh. Perhaps the allusion is to a rosary which is held in the hands, or worn on the wrists, by people of many religions.

Next: Chapter XL