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DENKARD (Acts of Religion), Book 3

This digital edition copyright © 1995 by Joseph H. Peterson. All rights reserved.

Denkard, edited by Peshotun Dustoor Behramjee Sunjana [Sanjana], 1876. English translation by Ratanshah E. Kohiyar.

VOL. 2

Exposition in the good religion regarding the coming or not coming of invisible yazads to help the inhabitants of this world. (66)

Be it known that the invisible yazads, who are desirous of rendering help, always come speedily to help mankind when they keep aloof from sin and are righteous; and (they) (the yazads) drive back the Devs (coming) to harm mankind, while on the way. The clear way to publish well among the people of this world, the desire of the holy Self-existent, to protect mankind and to save them (from evil) and to give them happiness, is through the coming of the invisible yazads to help the people of this world. The running swiftly of men in the ways of the Devs, is owing to keeping back from doing (deeds of) righteousness, and advancing forward in doing (deeds of) sin; and consequently, the acquirement of goodness, by men, from the yazads, is shut off, and the wish of the holy Self-existent is not known to them. For, by the keeping aloof of men from committing sin, and advancing forward in doing (deeds of) righteousness, the ways of holiness of various kinds and of salvation being (open), the yazads, together with doing much harm to the Devs, become the causers of much prosperity to the people, It is mostly owing to the increased success of the yazads, and the better government (of the soul) and the knowledge regarding the good religion, improvements in religion, and the relations with God, that man obtains a life such as he wishes and salvation. The coming of the Devs is for the purpose of deceiving people as much as possible, and for originating in various ways, causes for harassing them by advancing them in sin. For, when countless people in the world keep back from doing righteousness and advance in committing sin, then there is a great increase in the coming of the Devs; and owing to that, not much room is left for the reaching of prosperity to the people of the world from the yazads, and owing to oppression, dissensions, religious blindness and deafness, dishonesty, evil thoughts, and immorality, people remain lean and harrassed. And men suffer much hardship, trouble and pain. Therefore, at such a time, a man should preach, among all men who advance in sin and keep back in righteousness, about turning back from sin and advancing in righteousness; and expatiate in such preachings upon no room being left for the acquirement of happiness from the yazads, owing to the road of the yazads, being shut up, in consequence of the great influx of the Devs, by reason of advancement in sin and keeping back from righteousness; and explain that as a consequence, ample protection from God is not afforded and righteousness is not obtained. So that, owing to such preachings of that man, righteousness may reach to countless persons; and, owing, to the keeping back of people from sin, and advancing in righteousness, cause may be afforded for the final triumph of God. (All) the boundless goodness that accrues to man, consists in keeping aloof from sin and advancing in righteousness, in innumerable ways. Therefore, the man who teaches (people) to keep aloof from righteousness and to advance in sin is a dreadful man; for, being under the government of Devs, he is, among countless people, an arrester of righteousness, and an increaser of sin, and a destroyer of the glory of God. And, that instructor in keeping back from righteousness and in advancing in sin, is really the cause of the risk of countless people running into hardship and ruin. As from want (of the application) of a remedy to the illness of the body of man, there is danger of the whole of his body becoming diseased, and even, the man quickly dies, by reason of the increase (of the malady), owing to the neglect of the remedy, so, (if men are not prevented from committing sin and made to walk in righteousness, their soul becomes subject to death, that is, becomes, for ever, a sufferer of the pains of hell).

Exposition in the Good religion regarding Holy Thoughts being the cause of high thoughts, words and deeds in every matter. (67)

Be it known that, (man) becomes, through all his works and behaviour, possessed of the thoughts relating to the other world and fit for it, by reposing faith in all holy thoughts. And being firm in religion, he is able to repeat of higher sins; but he whose faith is not firm in religion, even if he should pray much by means of his tongue and do much by means of his deeds, still (his work) will not be reckoned to be in accordance with the covenants of the religion. Again, if (a man) repent, by means of his tongue and deeds, of the smallest sin. and if his mind is not (fit) for forgiveness, then he is not a redeemer of himself (from sin). Therefore, in administering worldly justice, the judges of this world, should not decide upon the evidence of such (men). For, (as) the truthfulness of the authoritative decisions of the Mobadan Mobad depends upon (his) thoughts, and the becoming well known of (his) thoughts depends upon (his) speaking (them); so the relation (to man) of deeds which carry the rewards of righteousness is through the Thing (religion) from the holy God. As the giving out of the mind is through speech by means of the tongue, so, the obtaining of good reward, by those who are deserving of good reward is (through a religious conscience). Therefore, if (man's) conduct is not linked with (religion), he does not obtain the good reward of the coming world.

Exposition in the good religion as to spending a lifetime. (68)

Be it known that, the spending well the period of life is through conducting oneself by means of the attributes of wisdom. He who is possessed of foresight knows what qualities belong to a high condition; and, (he), filling himself full with the laws of the creator of the creation, obtains, through the qualities of the highest wisdom pertaining to those laws, a knowledge regarding each (period of) time. In superior station, man's time is spent in greatness of various kinds, to live, as good creation and to obtain happiness. And in inferior station, his time is spent in littleness of various kinds, to live as good creation and to obtain happiness. In (this) time of two kinds, there are two descriptions of qualities, which make him do deeds of right behaviour. (Among them) are those qualities which appertain to behaviour in superior station, and to deeds for spending time well, and to profitable deeds: through them man can become attentive to his good fame, to the goodness pertaining to his soul, and to (the) salvation (of his soul), in this wise. Thus, he might spend, under the guidance of reason, his better days in a good manner, in unambitious beneficence, in the unfretting adoption of means for the End, in disinterested movements, in industry unattended with evil passions, in purity unaccompanied with religious deafness, in happiness which is not perishable happiness, in obedience in which there is no disobedience, in generosity in which there is no miserliness, in truthfulness in which there is no screen, in fearlessness which does not arise in idleness, in justice without deceit, in magnanimity without pride, in good intentions, unaccompanied with evil designs, in conduct in which there is no evil desire, in activity which is without a covering, in courage unaccompanied by evil thoughts, and in other sinless qualities. Such a man is able to conduct himself well in the durable work of making himself respectable and pure, and of high and ever-renowned righteousness. (Similarly) man, in a lower condition (in life) by spending (his) time well under the guidance of reason, by keeping himself from tale-bearing and living circumspectly, by suffering pain without querulousness, by living quietly without thoughts of doing harm, by contentment without idleness, by frugality without miserliness, by pure-dispositioned-contentment unaccompanied with what is impure, by making acquisitions unaccompanied with disrepute or with desires (which would be disreputable), by increase without niggardliness, by gratefulness unaccompanied with ingratitude, by purity in which there is no keeping aloof from righteousness, by hospitality unaccompanied with self praise, by humility without meanness, by honesty unaccompanied with evil intentions, by greatness without revengefulness, by indebtedness that is without harshness, by choice that is without a touch of sin, and by other sinless qualities, qualifies himself as good creation, and becomes an abstainer from the smallest of sins.

Exposition in the good religion regarding superior, middling, and inferior deeds (69)

Be it known that, all the deeds, (commanded to be done) in the religion, have reference to righteousness; and righteousness exists, that (men) should become good. Those persons, who render themselves of high station, and perform great deeds do so, through virtue. Whatever deeds get rid, in a high degree, of the Drujs, and render the world highly, purity-imparting the same are comprised in the four kinds of professions pertaining to the Mazdayasni, religion: among these, the deeds of Athornanship, consisting in approving of the worship of God, in instructing (people) in it, in explaining the commands of the religion, in giving decisions in religious matters, and in doing other work pertaining to Athornanship, are the highest in rank.

In the profession of Arthestar the deeds holding a high rank are heroism, embassy, and other political matters. In the profession of Vastarius, the deeds holding a high rank are the nourishment of the soul and the cultivation of (articles of) food. In the profession of Hutukhs the deeds holding a high rank are the earning of hallowed bread by honest industry and doing skilled work in connection with other occupations of honest industry. Then again, however inferior and mean any work pertaining to the honourable calling of Athornans may be, still in comparison with it, all the works of the above three professions are considered to be of medium rank. And inferior work pertaining to trade, in comparison with the work pertaining to the profession of Vastarius, is the very lowest in rank. Therefore, he who is very rich, should use his superfluous riches, in supporting (others) and in other good deeds pertaining to higher relations. And if in any place there are more cattle and men than can live in it, suitable land should be purchased to keep those men and cattle flourishing, and to let them live in comfort, and that they might properly live and use (it). If there be a dwelling-place of men and cattle, but by their living and being kept in that place their number and progeny are reduced, then that place should be sold for a proper price, and another should be purchased for its true price. For this reason, that thereby cattle and men might obtain much assistance, and, by the work of mutual support continuing among people, mankind might increase. From a good station (in life) these two benefits result: one has reference to the doing of the work pertaining to the more profitable business of the (coming) exalted world; another to the earning of bread for one's maintenance. He who acts in accordance with the religion, is commanded by the good religion, to do the deeds commanded in the religion along with providing for his maintenance.

Again, those deeds which are of an inferior and lower rank than the above, have reference to the earning of honest bread, virtuously, by means of the business pertaining to the profession of a husbandman, and to spending life well. And thus there is a regular carrying on of the professions of Athornan, Arthestar and Hutokhs. He who purchases for himself goods that have reference to evil, and manifests dissatisfaction at men living in his country and cattle being kept, and is very neglectful in growing corn in consequence of which (neglect) countless people suffer from want and starvation, and through whom all men and cattle become ill and wounded, -- such a man is reckoned as an infidel. For, he, by reason of doing evil to the world through want, and by thus doing harm to human beings obedient to God, is rejected from good, and is a keeper of himself in relation with the Diminisher (of virtue -- i.e. Ahriman). And such a man is, notwithstanding the remedies pertaining to the good religion, a great sinner.

Exposition in the good religion regarding (acts of) righteousness which may be promised and performed by the believer in the good religion to (and towards) the believer in an evil faith (70)

If at any time, a believer in an evil religion, having much thought about righteousness, makes known his (repentant) thoughts regarding his evil religion, in the presence of the chief (Dastur) possessed of true thoughts, true words, and true deeds; and solicits that the help of reciting the Gathas and of invisible righteousness might be rendered (to him); then, for the sake of the soul of the unfortunate sinner, money having been received from that evil believer, it is good that Gathas should be recited, and, as many as practicable, deeds of righteousness should be done. As it is proper to give medicine to a sick person expectant of health, so it is lawful, for the sake of the soul, expectant of righteousness, of that believer in the evil religion who shows a liking for the good religion, during his lifetime, to do (righteous) works, and through their instrumentality to liberate the soul of that believer in the evil religion from hell. For, the righteousness done for the sake of the soul of that unfortunate (man) after he is dead and fallen into hell, does not help him, and no righteousness will release him from hell. As, by pouring medicine into a dead body, no help is rendered to it, and the medicine being useless to the body is wasted; so is the worship by means of the Gathas in behalf of that Dev-worshipper.

Exposition in the good religion regarding the good, the better, and the best among men, and the bad, the worse and the worst among those who are evil. (71)

Be it known that, whoever has a disposition and does works to cause prosperity in the world, and a disposition and does works to cause immortality in the world, resembles greatly Soshyant in disposition and work, and is the best among men and the highest in goodness. And he whose disposition and work render assistance to the work of that person (above mentioned) is of an inferior rank in goodness to that person. And he whose disposition and work are not to oppose the disposition and work of those (two) persons mentioned above is of an inferior rank in goodness.

He who is possessed of a disposition to, and is a doer of works that, cause decrease in the world, is a doer of works of the nature of those of Johak; and he who is possessed of a disposition and does works that bring death into the world resembles greatly the nature and work of Malkus and is a holder of the highest rank in evil among wicked persons. And he who is a renderer of assistance to the disposition and work of that person is of an inferior rank to that person in excessive wickedness. And he whose disposition and work are not to oppose the disposition and work of the above mentioned wicked persons, is of an inferior rank in evil.

Exposition in the good religion regarding those among women who deserve to be approved and those who deserve to be rejected. (72)

The (following) exposition in the good religion is made known regarding women whose conduct is fit to be approved or fit to be disapproved by any person of the good religion who is a giver of attention to this matter. Women are necessarily of these four kinds: good as well as bad; not bad, and good; not good, and bad; and neither good nor bad. From among these any woman who is not bad and is good should be selected to manage household affairs and to give happiness and comfort to the master of the house. And to keep oneself free from unhappiness she who is good and bad ought not to be obtained; and (men) should positively keep aloof from choosing, from among the two descriptions of women mentioned above, her who is not good and is bad, over her who is neither good nor bad.

Exposition in the good religion as to how the creation of the Creator Ohrmazd ought to conduct itself. (73)

Be it known that, the conduct of the creatures of Ohrmazd in this world consists in mixed thoughts through the instrumentality of two principles: therefore, (men) should guide themselves by means of one of the two (principles), -- by means of the affection of the mind fit to be approved and of the wish fit to be approved. The guiding (of himself by man), from among the two (principles), by means of the affection of the mind fit to be approved, is brought about by means of the truthful elements possessing the strength that has reference to life, which are in (his) body. And people, by guiding themselves by means of these elements, and smiting the Blemish-giver, obtain the relations of Frashokant. And by guiding himself by means of wishes fit to be approved, man becomes improved in immortal and great thoughts, words and deeds; and increases holiness by means of good thoughts good words, and good deeds; darkens the Drujs; smites the Blemish-giver; and does benefit to people. Of the two principles which keep (men) in subjection, if any man makes people to act upon that principle which moves by means of the affection of the mind which is fit to be approved and makes them to hold relations with Frashokant; and similarly, by making people act upon that principle which moves by means of the desire which is fit to be approved, and which has reference to immortality and greatness, makes the strength of the good religion and of good government to reach up to all people who act in accordance with the precept humat, hukht and hvarsht and fully increases holiness; and completely darkens the Drujs; and drives out the Blemish-giver and reduces (his powers) of causing harm; and makes people bright through goodness; -- then that man is an improver (of men) for all kinds of goodness and has the forethought of the Creator. (But) those religious teachers who, to make people guilty, make them act by means of the mental affections and wishes which have reference to shortcomings at the End, thereby make themselves captive for ever and deserving of hell. Therefore, if their religion, while it makes (people) act wickedly, is spoken of as a religion of high rank, there is forethought in its not being spoken of in that manner.

Exposition in the good religion regarding the (creation) in the heavens. (74)

It is said in accordance with religion that the heavenly creation is prior to the earthly. Just as a bird is produced from an egg, so the creatures of this world and other creation have been produced. And as the egg surrounds the bird, so round about all creation are the heavens. There are three descriptions of mansions in the heavens: One of these is a mansion entirely without darkness, full of light, wholly good without evil, and joyous without any misery; and the very highest mansion among them is named the garothman behesht and in the best part of it is the residence of the Creator Ohrmazd, the Ameshaspands and other Yazads, and the Farohars that have not (yet) taken birth (in this world), and of bright stars; and it is without defilement from the Blemish-giver. Another is a mansion lightless, dark, devoid of any goodness, wicked, devoid of any joy, miserable and black; the meanest and uneven part of it is the residence of Ahriman, and of law-breakers, and of others who come across the protection of the world. [The third mansion is that of this world, midway between paradise and hell. And it has both light and darkness, goodness and evil and happiness and misery; and in it] those who are possessed of the three attributes of contentment, superior rank (as regards the next world) and industry, without doubt hold relations with the Self-existent and know the Self-existent. The knowledge of the self-existent is (obtained) through wisdom; similarly, faith in the Lord is (acquired) by means of the original unveiled eye belonging to the soul of man. Therefore, as an exemplar of the eye of wisdom, the veiled eye which regulates the body should be kept open with the original eye of the soul; for, evil passions, ambition, envy, revenge and other destructive, hurtful and pain-giving Drujs (i. e. passions) remove the wisdom of man from his body and, by guiding (man) towards worldly good, and, through worldly good, snatch away the good (happiness) of the coming world: therefore, bodily attributes are (bestowed) to fight against (and) to make of no weight worldly good. For instance, to oppose evil passions (there) is the attribute of wisdom; to oppose ambition, contentment; to oppose anger, meekness; to oppose envy, justice; and to oppose revenge, patience. There are three superior attributes of wisdom, -- contentment, magnanimity and industry. So long as these attributes remain (in man), so long the other evil attributes receive no weight. Those (persons) who are ruined in respect of the happiness of the coming world, owe it to their being attracted towards the happiness of this world. (So long as) the evil attribute of idleness is not held and kept in the body of man, (so long) the evil attributes in man, remaining dormant, hold up no screen to prevent the things pertaining to the soul from being seen. And owing to that the dominion of the eye of the soul remains free. And (thus) men secure the love of the Yazads, by looking well at (i.e. attending to) them, and knowing them; and owing to that they hold relation with the holy Self-existent. Therefore, the religion imparted by those religious teachers who put a veil before the eye of the soul, and who do the work of keeping back the Yazads from man (calculated) to disappoint men in respect of knowing their Creator: hence those who command men to know the Self-existent through such a religion, certainly delude them, through such commands, towards thoughts of ruin. Therefore, such a religion ought not to be reckoned as a religion, but it must be called (a religion) for the worship of the demon of ambition.

Exposition in the good religion regarding man's becoming possessed of superior strength through doing deeds of righteousness, and of inferior strength through doing deeds of sin; and regarding (man's) improvement owing to righteousness and his separation (from his Creator) owing to sin. (75)

Be it known that (man) obtains the most superior rank by doing righteous deeds through the strength (derived) from the righteous Principle of the Spenamino. And (he obtains) the most inferior rank by doing deeds of sin, through the strength (derived) from the sinful Principle of the Ghana-mino. In the doing of the work relating to the two minos, the creation of a love for righteousness is owing to the reaching of the principle of righteousness, (which is), of good reward into the conscience of man; and hence is man's improvement. Similarly, the production of a fondness for sin is owing to the reaching of the grievous principle of evil into the heart of man. It is for his (own) destruction that man embellishes himself through the Blemish-giver. The production of a fondness in man for the performance of the work relating to both the Minos depends upon (his) belief in the powers of each of them. (Man) is a believer in the good Mino of righteous principles for the purpose of acquiring righteousness; and owing to that (the Mino) having the form of a beautiful young girl, be-decked in person and bearing the name of a virgin, comes forth as a helper in conducting after death the soul of the righteous (into paradise); and the soul of the holy man is enabled, owing to righteousness preponderating over sin, to pass the road along the Chinwad (bridge) and to mount high towards the high, ever-to-be-chosen mansions (of paradise). Again, (man) becomes a believer in the evil Mino of sinful principles by doing deeds that help sinfulness; and owing to that the (Mino) that gives evil assistance (after death) to the unfortunate soul of that sinful (man), comes forth to meet it in the shape of a girl, be-decked in person as a courtesan, bearing the name of a married woman and possessed of a hurtful constitution. And the soul of that sinful man, owing to his sin being greater than his righteousness, having been carried along the lower pathway connected with the Chinwad (bridge) is imprisoned in the abodes (of hell) with that evil-bodied (courtesan). And the information which is found in the good religion about this (subject) is this that for him there is no liberation till the time of Frashegird, but that he will have to suffer (till then) the pains and stings (of hell).

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