AVESTA: VENDIDAD (English): Fargard 14. Atoning for the murder of a water-dog.

This digital edition prepared by Joseph H. Peterson, 1995.

Translated by James Darmesteter (From Sacred Books of the East, American Edition, 1898.)

This Fargard is nothing more than an appendix to the last clauses in the preceding Fargard (§ 50 seq.) How the murder of a water-dog (an otter) may be atoned for is described in it at full length. The extravagance of the penalties prescribed may well make it doubtful whether the legislation of the Vendidad had ever any substantial existence in practice. These exorbitant prescriptions seem to be intended only to impress on the mind of the faithful the heinousness of the offense to be avoided.

FARGARD 14. Atoning for the murder of a water-dog

1. Zarathushtra asked Ahura Mazda: 'O Ahura Mazda, most beneficent Spirit, Maker of the material world, thou Holy One! He who smites one of those water-dogs that are born one from a thousand dogs and a thousand she-dogs1, so that he gives up the ghost and the soul parts from the body, what is the penalty that he shall pay?' Notes:

1. See preceding Fargard § 51.

2. Ahura Mazda answered: 'He shall pay ten thousand stripes with the Aspahe-astra, ten thousand stripes with the Sraosho-charana2.

'He shall godly and piously bring unto the fire of Ahura Mazda3 ten thousand loads of hard, well dried, well examined4 wood, to redeem his own soul.

2. He shall pay 50 tanapuhrs (= 15,000 istirs = 60,000 dirhems). If he can afford it, he will alone in the manner stated in the Avesta; if he cannot afford it, it will be sufficient to perform a complete Izashne [Yasna -JHP] (sacrifice),' (Comm.)

3. To the altar of the Warharan fire.

4. It is forbidden to take any ill-smelling thing to the fire and to kindle it thereon; it is forbidden to kindle green wood, and even though the wood were hard and dry, one must examine it three times, lest there may be any hair or any unclean matter upon it, (Gr. Riv.) Although the pious Arda Viraf had always taken the utmost care never to put on the fire any wood but such as was seven years old, yet, when he entered Paradise, Atar, the genius of fire, showed him reproachfully a large tank full of the water which that wood had exuded (see Arda Viraf 10).

3. 'He shall godly and piously, bring unto the fire of Ahura Mazda ten thousand loads of soft wood, of Urvasna, Vohu-gaona, Vohu-kereti, Hadha-naepata5, or any sweet-scented plant, to redeem his own soul. 5. See above, Vd8.2, note 4.
4. 'He shall godly and piously tie ten thousand bundles of Baresma, to redeem his own soul.

'He shall offer up to the Good Waters ten thousand Zaothra libations with the Haoma and the milk, cleanly prepared and well strained, cleanly prepared and well strained by a pious man, and mixed with the roots of the tree known as Hadha-naepata, to redeem his own soul.

5. 'He shall kill ten thousand snakes of those that go upon the belly. He shall kill ten thousand Kahrpus, who are snakes with the shape of a dog6. He shall hill ten thousand tortoises7. He shall kill ten thousand land-frogs8; he shall kill ten thousand water-frogs. He shall kill ten thousand corn-carrying ants9; he shall kill ten thousand ants of the small, venomous mischievous kind10. 6. 'Mâr bânak snakes: they are dog-like, because they sit on their hindparts' (Comm.) The cat (gurba = Kahrpu) seems to be the animal intended. In a paraphrase of this passage in a Parsi Rivayat, the cat is numbered amongst the Khrafstras which it is enjoined to kill to redeem a sin (India Office Library, VIII, 13); cf. G. du Chinozi, p. 462: 'Les animaux que les Gaures ont en horreur sont les serpents, les couleuvres, les lezars, et autres de cette espece, les crapaux, lea grenouilles, lea écrevisses, les rats et souris, et sur tout le chat.'

7. See Vd8.6-7.

8. 'Those that can go out of water and live on the dry ground' (Comm.) 'Pour les grenouilles et crapaux, ils disent que ce sont ceux (eux?) qui sont cause de ce que les hommes meurent, gâtans les eaus où ils habitent continuellement, et que d'autant plus qu'il y en a dans le païs, d'autant plus lea caus causent-elles des maladies et enfin la mort,' G. du Chinon, p.465.

9. Herodotus already mentions the war waged by the Magi against snakes and ants (I, 140).-- 'Un jour que j'étois surpris de la guerre qu'ils font aux fourmis, ils me dirent que ces animaux ne faisaient que voler par des amas des grains plus qu'il n'étoit nécessaire pour leur nourriture,' G. du Chinon, p.464. Firdausi protested against the proscription: 'Do no harm to the corn-carrying ant; a living thing it is, and its life is dear to it.' The celebrated high-priest of the Parsis, the late Moola Firooz, entered those lines into his Pand Nâmah, which may betoken better days for the wise little creature.

10. Perhaps: 'of the small, venomous kind, with a mischievous track' (Bund. 19.28: when the grain-carrier travels over the earth, it produces a hollow track: when the hedgehog travels over it, the track goes away from it and it becomes level:' cf. Vd13.2, note).

6. 'He shall kill ten thousand worms of those that live on dirt; he shall kill ten thousand raging flies11.

'He shall fill up ten thousand holes for the unclean12.

'He shall godly and piously give to godly men13 twice the set of seven implements for the fire14, to redeem his own soul, namely:-

11. Corpse-flies; see Vd7.2.

12. 'The holes at which the unclean are washed' (Comm.; see Vd9.6 seq.)

13. To priests.

14. For the sacred fire.

7. 'The two answering implements for fire15; a broom16; a pair of tongs; a pair of round bellows extended at the bottom, contracted at the top; a sharp-edged sharp-pointed17 adze; a sharp-toothed sharp-pointed saw; by means of which the worshippers of Mazda procure wood for the fire of Ahura Mazda. 15. Two receptacles, one for the wood, another for the incense.

16. To cleanse the Atash-dân or fire-vessel (Yasna 9.1).

17. Literally, 'sharp-kneed.'

8. 'He shall godly and piously give to godly men a set of the priestly instruments of which the priests make use, to redeem his own soul, namely: The Astra18; the meat-vessel; the Paitidana19; the Khrafstraghna20; the Sraosho-charana21; the cup for the Myazda22; the cups for mixing and dividing23; the regular mortar24; the Haoma cups25; and the Baresma. 18. The Aspahê-ashtra.

19. As everything that goes out of man is unclean, his breath defiles all that it touches; priests, therefore, while on duty, and even laymen, while praying or eating, must wear a mouth-veil, the Paitidâna (Parsi Penom), consisting 'of two pieces of white cotton cloth, hanging loosely from the bridge of the nose to, at least, two inches below the mouth, and tied with two strings at the back of the head' (Haug, Essays, 2nd ed. P.243, n. 1; cf. Comm. ad Vd18.1, and Anquetil II, 530).

20. The 'Khrafstra-killer;' an instrument for killing snakes, &c. It is a stick with a leather thong at its end, something like the Indian fly-flap.

21. See General Introduction.

22. Doubtful.

23. The cup in which the juice of the hom and or the urvarâm (the twigs of hadha-naepata which are pounded together with the hom) is received from the mortar (Comm.)

24. The mortar with its pestle.

25. The cup on which twigs of Haoma are laid before being pounded, the so-called tashtah (Anquetil II, 533); 'some say, the hom-strainer' [a saucer with nine holes], Comm.

[See descriptions of the Alat or ritual implements. -JHP]

9. 'He shall godly and piously give to godly men a set of all the war implements of which the warriors make use, to redeem his own soul;

'The first being a javelin, the second a sword, the third a club, the fourth a bow, the fifth a saddle with a quiver and thirty iron25b-headed arrows, the sixth a sling with arm-string and with thirty sling stones26;

'The seventh a cuirass, the eighth a hauberk27, the ninth a tunic28, the tenth a helmet, the eleventh a girdle, the twelfth a pair of greaves.

25b. Dar: brass. -JHP

26. These are six offensive arms: the next six are defensive arms. -- Cf. W. Jackson: Herodotus VII, 61, or The Arms of the Ancient Persians illustrated from Iranian Sources; New York, 1894.

27. 'Going from the helm to the cuirass' (Comm.)

28. 'Under the cuirass' (Comm.)

10. 'He shall godly and piously give to godly men a set of all the implements of which the husbandmen make use, to redeem his own soul, namely: A plough with yoke and ...29; a goad for ox; a mortar of stone; a round-headed hand-mill for grinding corn;

29. Yuyô-semi ayazhâna pairi-darezâna.
11. 'A spade for digging and tilling; one measure of silver and one measure of gold.'

O Maker of the material world, thou Holy One! How much silver?

Ahura Mazda answered: 'The price of a stallion.'

O Maker of the material world, thou Holy One! How much gold?

Ahura Mazda answered: 'The price of a he-camel.

12. 'He shall godly and piously procure a rill of running water30 for godly husbandmen, to redeem his own soul.'

O Maker of the material world, thou Holy One! How large is the rill?

Ahura Mazda answered: 'The depth of a dog, and the breadth of a dog31.

30. The most precious of all gifts in such a dry place as Iran. Water is obtained either through canals of derivation or through underground canals (kârêz, kanât).

31. Which is estimated 'a foot deep, a foot broad' (Comm.)

13. 'He shall godly and piously give a piece of arable land to godly men, to redeem his own soul.'

O Maker of the material world, thou Holy One! How large is the piece of land?

Ahura Mazda answered: 'As much as can be watered with such a rill divided into two canals32.

32. Doubtful.
14. 'He shall godly and piously procure for godly men a stable for oxen, with nine hathras and nine nematas33, to redeem his own soul.'

O Maker of the material world, thou Holy One! How large is the stable?

Ahura Mazda answered: 'It shall have twelve alleys34 in the largest part of the house, nine alleys in the middle part, six alleys in the smallest part.

'He shall godly and piously give to godly men goodly beds with Sheets and cushions, to redeem his own soul.

33. Meaning unknown.

34. Twelve ranks of stalls (?).

15. 'He shall godly and piously give in marriage to a godly man a virgin maid, whom no man has known35, to redeem his own soul.'

O Maker of the material world, thou Holy One! What sort of maid?

Ahura Mazda answered: 'A sister or a daughter of his, at the age of puberty, with ear-rings in her ears and past her fifteenth year.

35. Match-making is a good work (Vd4.44).
16. 'He shall godly and piously give to holy men twice seven head of small cattle, to redeem his own soul.'

'He shall bring up twice seven whelps.

'He shall throw twice seven bridges over canal.

17. 'He shall put into repair twice nine stables that are out of repair.

'He shall cleanse twice nine dogs from stipti, anairiti, and vyangura36, and all the diseases that are produced on the body of a dog.

'He shall treat twice nine godly men to their fill of meat, bread, strong drink, and wine.

36. Meaning unknown.
18. 'This is the penalty, this is the atonement which saves the faithful man who submits to it not him who does not submit to it. Such a one shall surely be an inhabitant in the mansion of the Druj37.' 37. See Vd8.107.