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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, 1876 English translation by Ratanshah E. Kohiyar.

Answer returned by a Herbad (i.e. priest) from a knowledge of the Mazdayasnian religion on being asked the reason why it was wrong for a Herbad to marry with a well-loving Yahudi (i.e. Hebrew). (80)

The reason is that, wounds, harm and pain having been caused by a defendant to a complainant, a discussion arises as to his complaint: consequently men who are bound by the precepts of the religion ought, with the object of avoiding sin and strife, to tie the knot of marriage with such believers in the religion, as that strength might accrue to them and to the people of their race for deliverance from hell by means of prayers and devotions to God. The prosperity of the progeny of men is (secured) by marriages entered into with this object of receiving mutual assistance. Khwetodas is then said to be formed when it is formed within ones own race. And thus honour is obtained by (ones own) descendants and strength is acquired by relatives and co-religionists, through prayers (offered) to the holy Self-existent. (Therefore) those who, with a view to improvement and concatenation for the Frashegird form, a (wedded) pair of man and wife, from among their own people, should form the tie of that relationship, in order that it may endure with safety for a long period, with the nearest of their kindred and with the most known of (people) known to them from among their community. That relationship (formed) for (the sake of) offspring which is deserving of most thought, is, in particular, of three kinds: of these one is that of father and daughter, the second is that of son and mother, and the, third is that of brother and sister. And the explanation of this recondite expression has been thus given by Dasturs learned in the religion in accordance with the religion. We say that whatever the self-existent has Created in the world is male and female; among these that which is male is the son and that which, as its mate, is female is the daughter and (He) himself is the father. Now, the earth Spandarmad, from which (all) creation has originated is considered as His mate; out of her He created Gayomard who was a male. And all men are born because of that first man. As long as Gayomard existed, so long he was living, speaking and mortal. The limitation of the three words, living, speaking and mortal, which every man has obtained, is from him (Gayomard); of these, that (man) is creation, the possessor of life and speech is owing to the father, the Creator; and (he is) mortal owing to the Blemish-giver prevailing over him. The series of men having these limits will continue connected with that person until the Frashegird. Now, the birth of a male to the daughter, by the assistance of the father, and the creation which was (thus) formed, we call the Khwetodas of father and daughter. Again, it is made known in the religion, that when Gayomard died, his semen, which is called his seed, fell into the earth Spandarmad, which was his mother, (and) through that connection Mashya and Mashyani were born as the son and daughter of Gayomard and Spandarmad: that we call the Khwetodas of son and mother. And Mashya and Mashyani, living with each other, did the work of increasing their race, and we call the creation which was thus produced, the Khwetodas of brother and sister. Many pairs of children were born to these Mashya and Mashyani, and each of these pairs lived as man and wife; and all the people who have been born, and will be born, owe their existence to this ancient ancestry. The creation (of man) having thus originated from the holy Self-existent, a means is (thereby) furnished of knowing Him who is the Lord of existence; that is, the people of all the Keshwars have obtained knowledge regarding the holy Self-existent through the increase of creation, and thus the author of that increase is known. I must (here) state that the Devs are the enemies of man, (and) their wishes and movements are for destruction; therefore, it is incumbent (on men) that they should be eager in forming marriage alliances, that thus they (the Devs) might be brought to an evil destiny. All men are bound fully to acknowledge their obligation to the Lord who willed the commencement of this work (i.e. the creation of mankind in accordance with laws), owing to which (acknowledgment) much dread, pain and harm are caused to those who are their enemies (i.e. the Devs), and their power is diminished; and thus they find no occasion for obstructing and harming mankind. So long as there exists (among men) righteous doing like this (i.e. like that of Kwedosad), so long they are able to render the Devs miserable, afflicted, terrified, and oppressed; and in this way the righteous obtain the reward and recompense of righteousness. (Again) I must state that (the) children (of men) generally resemble in features, shape of body, growth, goodness, intelligence, goodness of disposition, gratefulness, affection, enterprise, constitution, and similar other matters, the original parents who give them birth. And this is considered very proper and just. Again, ideas are suggested to us on this subject by this (consideration) that, the Athornan class, which is pure, (always) has faith, in the coming world, is grateful, shows magnanimity towards the weak, and keeps in fear of God. And the Arthestar (class) is (always) a bearer of the battle-axe, a promoter of order in this world, of stalwart body, powerful, stout-hearted and brave; and remains unsatisfied with (even) lifelong battle and daring; and like a hunting dog or a wolf, is careless of life, and does not keep aloof (from taking the life of others). Again, meek cattle are not cruel like the wolf; similarly, a wolf is not so noble (an animal) as a (hunting) dog; and without the (hunting) dog, the bodies (of man and cattle) cannot be protected. Again those horses which are foaled by fleet Arab (sires) out of native (dams), do not run like Arab horses. Similarly native born horses do not run like Arabs. (Nor), similarly do Badavit (horses) resemble native (horses). Again, a mule, born of a horse and an ass, does not exactly resemble, in (its) nature, either the horse or the ass. In this manner, none among these (animals) resemble each other, and that being so, injury is done to the true breed and the progeny (thereof) does not increase. Therefore, there is great advantage in preserving one's race in an uncontaminated condition. Hence what I say is this, that among men four varieties of affection are recognized between children born to brothers and sister: one (where) the children of one brother love those of (another) brother; the second, (where) the children of a brother love those of a sister; the third, (where) the children of a sister love those of (another) sister; (and) the fourth, (where) the children of one cousin (love) those of (another) cousin. Owing to such (love), persons of these four descriptions entertain love, solicitude, eagerness, and desire for the support of their children of four (corresponding) descriptions; and thus they give birth to stainless children.

(Question). Similarly then, it is much more necessary to love children that may be born of connections formed between father and daughter and between son and mother, and to be careful for their welfare and safety?

(Answer). It is (well) known that among some nations sexual congress with (ones) children is considered to be highly pleasurable and in accordance with religion, but the cause of this (custom) must necessarily be some inferior descendants of some person of a different race and of a perverse religion. And if, through such connubial love and joy, a son be born to a person of his daughter, he would be (her) brother while she would be considered his (the son's) mother. And of any son born of the intercourse between mother and son, he (the begetter) would be reckoned the brother as well as the father: therefore, this is an improper and incestuous marriage custom. If so, such a person has thereby no part in the prayers to the Self-existent and in the joy of heaven, but gives rise thereby to increased harm, and, while doing no benefit, is not of a pleasant aspect, and has many blemishes. If you mean to ask, what evil aspect there could be in this? then you must attend to this, that if the mother or sister or daughter of a person should happen to be wounded in her private parts, and it is indispensable that she should go to a physician and get him to put a seton in that place, what is there wrong in her father, son, and brother keeping aloof from doing the work of the physician? For it is not proper that they should touch the part rather than a stranger.

(Question). If those who wish to form such a pair (of a Hebrew and a Parsi) should let their intention of being positively husband and wife be known by means of a message, and should make arrangements therefor, and should inform all the people of the city, by means of the drums and pipes used on the occasion of marriages, that they are going to marry, that is, that "such and such Parsi is going to do such and such a thing (marry) with the daughter, sister, or mother of such and such Armenian," and if, after people have been made acquainted with the matter, a (married) pair was formed of them, that ought to be proper. How can (such a pair) be evil of aspect and mutually unloving? (On the contrary, such a pair) is not ill-seeming, one towards the other and is mutually helpful, through good behavior.

(Answer.) It is apparent that, difference of race cannot secure an advantageous condition to pass life in, connivance at defects, similarity of thoughts, participation in benefits or injuries occasioned to one or the other, and contentedness over what is earned; for, some women in spite of the inability of, and (owing to) lack of courage in their husbands, force them to purchase more articles for their use (than are necessary), and, failing to obtain these, from their husbands, domineer over them, to show off their superiority: just as a great many other foreign women are ready to domineer in like manner and require ornaments and beautiful dresses to wear, slave-girls, pleasant-looking colours, perfumes, and a great many other things liked by mistresses of houses, which cannot be promised. And if there is no escape but in promising them, (then) there follow quarrels (and) abuses, and bad words are uttered. And if increased pressure is put to obtain them, then the mystery remains hidden, and they (i.e. husband and wife) misbehave (towards each other) day and night, and look not at each other's face. And the bad woman goes away to the house of her parents, and drags (her) husband before the judges, and (the judges) give a decision for her to remain (with her husband) without doing harm. And if the husband should say that he did not wish to keep her as (his) wife, because of the various evil defects, harm, hardship, vice, and sin in her: But, if the judges, should not dissolve the marriage on any one of these grounds, then, how can that pair secure an advantageous condition, a good life, -- living on small means, spending (their) time with honour, -- and the higher strength to live contented? If you reply that such consequences result from races that are evil-thinking and mean, then, it must be borne in mind that the increase of evil and meanness does not take place of itself, but a great many children become vicious by taking a liking to the disposition of others and by loving them. (Some people assert), from thoughts connected with sexual congress, that many (children) derive beautiful forms from beautiful women; but according to the opinions of those who live under the protection of the pure Ohrmazd such a woman is ugly, for, we consider (the practice of) having sexual congress naked, (a) bad (practice), and similarly, (other) people consider it a blemish. And we consider those to be beautiful, who have clothes on, and they (i.e. persons of the opposite view) consider them to be depraved. We consider him (or her) beautiful whose nose is uniform with his (or her) face; (but) those whose nose is higher than the face, consider him (or her) ugly, and say that that (nose) which comes out like a wall between the two eyes is fit to be preferred and is beautiful. From this it appears that beauty and ugliness are not original (ideas) but that they consist in the choice (of men). Similarly, conscientiousness consists in moving within (the sphere of) that religion which is ancient and which explains the design (of things)[1]. He who has shaved his head appears to us to be ugly, for in our religion such people are considered margarjan sinners. Those citizens therefore, with whom it is lawful to shave their heads, are prohibited on that score. There is, then, wisdom in this that she, who cannot on every side be thought badly of, should for purposes of righteousness be considered to be beautiful. In some communities the practice of acting thus (i.e. marrying) among themselves does not prevail at all; but they have (a practice) of (marrying), if (they) should like them, wicked and irreligious persons wherever found. But we in accordance with the way of wisdom, i.e. in a way to secure from the Creator the reward of righteousness for those born thus, are preservers of (our) offspring and protectors of (our) progeny. And it is for this reason that we are (reckoned to be) people who take means for the End, and (who) place (their) affections (on women) in such a way as to benefit (their) children, assist (their) descendants, and secure the hope (of heaven) to (their) progeny: and, similarly, he is a delightful husband who is sweet-tongued, gives much happiness, is harmless, is gain-causing in various ways, is full of resources, highly skilled in the arts, beautiful, and a giver of other well-known comforts; as also a remover of injurious and hurtful things, fearless, of himself brilliant, and a rejecter of the customs of (other) people. All our ancestors and forefathers have been (in the habit of) approving, in accordance with the provisions of the religion, such deeds (i. e. marriages) and doing them. Therefore, he who is known to the people as seeking salvation ought to be considered beautiful. Again testimony to the same effect it accorded us through the intellect that, that which is improper should not be done. If you should wish to assert that although to do so (i.e. to marry in this manner) is considered mean in our religion, that is, is prohibited by the religion, yet those precepts which are founded in wisdom should be observed, (the answer is) that that precept (as to intermarriages between different races) does not appear to us to be wise and of the first rank: the reason of which is that it appears on a minute (and) real examination that, as the creation of all mankind depends on khwetodas, that is on marriage, so the creation of wisdom of every kind depends upon the union of these two -- Asn khrad [innate wisdom] and Goshosrud khrad [acquired wisdom]: of these, Asn khrad is the female and Goshosrud khrad is the male: these two are as brother and sister through God, the Creator. And to every living thing of this world there is maturity and improvement through the relative proportion of these (two). In the same manner, water is a female and fire a male: they too, in their class, should be considered as brother and sister. If their mutual relationship he prevented, destruction would be caused thereby; not only that, but the life-giving semen itself which is generated in the brain, by the equiproportioned strength of water and fire, would be injured. For, if water was in excess it would decompose it (the semen) and if fire (i.e. heat) was in excess it would burn it (the semen).

Praises (composed) from a knowledge of the good religion for recital in the daily prayers to Dadar Ohrmazd. (81)

Be it known that, every person of the good religion ought, when reciting, at the beginning of a Gah, (standing) opposite to the sun, Niyayesh and Yasht, to Dadar Ohrmazd, positively to recite together with the Avesta this prayer. A person of the good religion who is praying, as also he, who is not qualified to pray, when he arrives at the age when he can pray, ought, at the time of reciting, (standing) opposite to the sun, Niyayesh to Dadar Ohrmazd, to recite, with knowledge and attention, precepts made known in writing below. And at the end of this praise, three Ashem-vohus should be recited, and at the end of each Ashem vohu the head must be bent down and a bow made. This admirable praise was composed by a Dastur of the good religion.

(I) praise the name of that Minoyan mino, the increaser, worthy to be praised, who always was, always is, and always will be; whose one name is Ohrmazd, the God who is the greatest among all, wise, Creator, supporter, protector, endurer, the lord of righteousness, forgiver, and dispenser of excellent and pure justice. Thanks be to the exalted Lord of the world, who, of his own power and wisdom, has created six Ameshaspands of high rank, numerous Yazads, the shining paradise, Garothman, the surrounding heavens, the hot sun, the shining moon, the numerous stars, the wind, the atmosphere, the fire, the water, the earth, the trees, the cattle, the metals, and mankind. Adoration and prayers to the righteous Lord who, for the purpose of rule over people and to make people walk together to fight against the Devs, has bestowed upon man speech and the power to think, and (thus) made (him) superior to each created thing of this world. (I) bow in the presence of the omniscient and caretaking Lord, who has sent, through Zartosht Spitaman of the adorable farohar, for the purpose rendering people friendly towards Him, the wisdom of the religion, worthy of faith through natural intelligence and knowledge of science -- wisdom that is the best for the guidance of all persons who are, were and will be. That is, that (through the wisdom of the religion) the soul is freed from the pains of hell, and reaches into the shining, fragrant, ever-happy, (and) the highest mansions of the pure. O (thou) Lord Protector! in obedience to thy command I am firm in the pure religion and I promise to think and speak and do every righteousness. Forgive me Thou (my) many sins; (may) I keep my own conduct pure, and (may) I, in accordance with Thy wishes, righteous Lord, keeping uncontaminated the six powers of the soul -- work, speech, thought, reasoning, memory, and intellect -- (and) in order to obtain the riches of the next world through good thoughts, good words, and good deeds, worship Thee, that I may thus open (for myself the path to the shining paradise: that is that the heavy punishment of hell may not be inflicted upon me and I may, passing over the Chinwad bridge, reach into the fragrant all-adorned and eternally happy mansions of paradise. (Praise be) to the Lord of gifts, who bestows upon those who obey his commandments the reward of righteous wishes and who will at the end liberate transgressors from hell and adorn the world with purity.

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