Sacred Texts  Zoroastrianism  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

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


1. As to the seventy-seventh question and reply, that which you ask is thus: As to the nature of the heinousness and sinfulness of committing adultery, and the worldly retribution specified for it in revelation,

p. 228

will you then direct some one to point out to us the modes 1 of retribution for it?

2. The reply is this, that it is adultery, heinous and vicious, which first Dahâk used to commit, and he is known by the illicit intercourse which was his desire with Vadak 2, who was his mother, in the life-time of Aûrvadâsp 3, who was his father, without 4 the authority of Aûrvadâsp, who was the husband of Vadak whose practising of sin, unauthorisedly and injudiciously, was itself heinous and very frequent. 3. And its modes of theft or spoliation are just as much more heinous than other theft and spoliation as a man and that which arises from his procreation of man are greater than the position of property.

4. One is this, that it is important to consider with steadfastness the courtezan life of the adulteress and the bad disposition assuredly and undoubtedly therein; she causes pillage unauthorisedly, and in her practice, also, intercourse during menstruation, owing to its resembling the burning of seed, is a frightful kind of handiwork (dastô).

p. 229

5. One is this, that it may be that she becomes pregnant by that intercourse, and has to commit on her child 1 the murdering of progeny.

6. One is this, that it may be in pregnancy, by her coming to intercourse with another man, that the living child which is in her womb has died through that intercourse.

7. One is this, that it may he that she becomes pregnant by that intercourse, and the pregnancy having given indications, through shame or fear she swallows a drug 2 [and seeks a remedy, and murders the child in her womb.

8. One is this, that it may] be that a woman who is foreign or infidel, and becomes pregnant by that intercourse, gives birth to a child, and it has grown up with the child which is known to belong to the husband of the woman, and remains in foreign habits (an-aîrîh) or infidelity. 9. The committer of the illicit intercourse is as unobservant and grievously sinful as he who shall lead his own child from his native habits (aîrîh) and the goad religion into foreign habits and infidelity; as to the sin which that child may commit in childhood he is the sinner, and as to that which it may commit in manhood he is equally sinful with it. 10. Also, if that child be put to death in childhood, and be passed through water, rain, or fire, or be buried in the well-yielding earth 3, he is an equally vicious murderer, and is defiled thereby through being the invisible causer.

p. 230

11. Likewise, if he who is a man of the good religion accustoms a woman to illicit intercourse, and through adultery a child is born and grows up, even then to practise undutifully that which undutifulness committed is to make a wretched and clandestine connection. 12. On account of the birth having occurred through illicit intercourse it is grievously sinful; through propriety it is praiseworthy, and through falsity it is sinful 1, and it is said that a bastard is not appointed in superintendence over any one. 13. If it be done so that pregnancy does not occur, even then every single time--not to mention the text (avistâk) as to the matter regarding the destruction of his own living seed 2--it is a sin of two Tanâpûhars, which are six hundred stîrs 3; and regarding that emission it is inexpiable (atanâpûhar) 4.

p. 231

14. As much on account of the conversation as on account of the companionship of the man who goes unto various women, for the sake of a man's sin, and is unatoning, should his own body be also defiled with bodily refuse (hîgar-hômônd) 1, or should those kinds of harm be not kept away from another 2, even then every single time of the bodily refuse bringing harm to his own body is a sin of sixty stîrs 3, and through making his own body defiled with bodily refuse is each time a sin of sixty stîrs; and if he washes with water that defilement with his own bodily refuse, or that which is harmed thereby, every single time it is a sin of six hundred 4 stîrs.

15. And if it be a foreign or infidel woman, apart from the sinfulness about which I have written, it is a sin of sixty stîrs on account of not controlling the sins and vicious enjoyment of the foreign woman. 16. And, finally, the other various sins which are owing to this sin are very numerous, and grievous to thousands of connections, and it is thereby contaminating to them in a fearful manner.

17. The retribution is renunciation of sin in procuring pardon; and the renunciation in his turning from equally grievous disobedience 5, every single

p. 232

time that he turns from similar viciousness, and as an atonement for the sin, is to arrange, or order, four (arbâ) marriages of the next of kin to his own wife, lawfully, authorisedly, and most hopeful of offspring. 18. Through fear of the grievous sinfulness which I have recounted, in case of a child of those of the good religion who has no giver of shame 1, and to keep lawfully in subjection a child who is under control, he who is unnurtured is lawfully given nurture, and is nominated for lawfully bringing up. 19. And to turn a man or woman of bad disposition, by eulogy and entreaty, or 2 by distress (fangîm) and fear and other representations, from that bad disposition and vicious habit; to order next-of-kin marriage 3 and all the religious rites (hamâk dînô), the Dvâzdah-hômâst 4, the ceremony in honour of the waters 5, and the presentation of holy-water to the fires 6; to remove the burden of offspring 7 which is distressing those of the good religion, and to force them from the infidelity acquired, which is a very atoning atonement for such sins, are extremely proper proceedings (avîr-farhakhtîkîh).


228:1 M14 has 'the various modes.'

228:2 This is evidently the name written Udaî in Pâz. in Bd. XXXI, 6, who was, therefore, the daughter of Bayak; the fact of her being the mother of Dahâk is more clearly expressed in the Pahlavi text of Chap. LXXII, 5.

228:3 This is the name written Khrûtâsp in Bd. XXXI, 6, which is a Pâz. reading, though confirmed by the Pahl. form in TD (as Udaî is, to some extent, by the Pahl. Aûd of TD). This Aûrvadâsp, whose name can also be read Khûrûtâsp, must be distinguished from his namesake, the father of Vistâsp, whose name became corrupted into Lôharâsp (see Bd. XXXI, 28, 29).

228:4 K35 omits avîk, 'without,' here, but has it in Chap. LXXII, 5. Without this particle the meaning would be 'who was the high-priest of his father, Aûrvadâsp.'

229:1 M14 has 'and with the assistance of another man she has so to commit on her child of that pregnancy.' The interpolation is clumsy, and does not make the sentence easier to translate.

229:2 The passage which follows, in brackets, is from M14; there being evidently something omitted from K35 at this point.

229:3 The contamination of water, rain, fire, or earth, by contact with p. 230 a corpse, being considered a heinous sin (see Sls. II, 9, 50, 76, XIII, 19).

230:1 That is, procuring the birth of a legitimate child is highly meritorious, but an illegitimate birth is sinful.

230:2 Referring probably to Vend. VIII, 77-82, which states that the voluntary waste of seed is an inexpiable sin, as mentioned at the end of this section.

230:3 A Tanâpûhar (Av. tanuperetha) sin was originally one that required the sinner to place his body at the disposal of the high-priest, in order to atone for it; but it was not necessarily a sin worthy of death, or mortal sin. At the time when the Vendidâd was written, such a sin was punished by two hundred lashes of a horse-whip or scourge (see Vend. IV, 72). Subsequently, when the Vendidâd scale of punishments was converted into a scale of weights, for estimating the amounts of sins and good works, a Tanâpûhar sin was estimated at three hundred stîrs (στατήρ) of four dirhams (δραχμή, ) each (see Sls. I, 1, 2). The weight of 600 stîrs was probably about that of 840 rûpîs, or 21 3/5 lbs. (see Chap. LII, r n).

230:4 That is, a sin which cannot be atoned for even by giving up tae's body for execution. Anâpûhar in Pahl. Vend. VIII, 82.

231:1 See Chap. XLVIII, 19.

231:2 M14 has 'or he does not wash those harmful kinds of bodily refuse,' which is inconsistent with what follows.

231:3 This is the estimated weight of a Khôr sin, originally the crime of inflicting a severe hurt, ranging from a bruise to a wound or broken bone not endangering life (see Sls. I, 1, 2). The weight was probably equal to that of 84 rûpîs.

231:4 M14 has 'three hundred.'

231:5 Reading asrûstîh as in M14, instead of the aîtrôîstŏîh of K35. Possibly the latter word might be read 3-trôîstŏîh, 'the p. 232 passing away of the three nights,' referring to the Av. phrase thrityau khshapô thraosta, 'on the passing away of the third night,' in Hn. II, 18; the three nights are those immediately after death, while the soul is supposed to remain hovering about the body, thinking over its sins, and dreading the approaching judgment of the angel Rashnu; but previous renunciation of sin would relieve it from much of this dread.

232:1 That is, one not born in shame, but a legitimate child. M14 has shîr, 'milk,' substituted for sharm, 'shame.'

232:2 M14 has 'woman of family with extending sins or bad disposition.'

232:3 See Chap. LXV.

232:4 See Chap. XLVIII, 25.

232:5 Probably the Abân Nyâyis.

232:6 Probably the Âtas Nyâyis.

232:7 By assisting in their support.

Next: Chapter LXXIX