THE Pahlavi texts selected for translation in this volume are distinguished from all others by the peculiarity that both the name and station of their author and the time in which he lived are distinctly recorded.
His name, Mânûskîhar, son of Yûdân-Yim (or Gûsndam), is mentioned in each of the headings and colophons to the Dâdistân-î Dînîk and the three Epistles attributed to him. He is styled simply aêrpat, or ‘priest,’ in the headings of Eps. I and II, and aêrpat khûdâî, or ‘priestly lordship,’ in that of Ep. III; but he is called the rad, ‘pontiff, or executive high-priest,’ of Pârs and Kirmân, and the farmâdâr, ‘director,’ of the profession of priests, in the colophons; to Dd. and Ep. II.; and we learn from Dd. XLV, 5 that the farmâdâr was also the pesûpâî or, ‘leader’ of the religion, the supreme high-priest of the Mazda-worshipping faith.
Regarding his family we learn, from Ep. I, iii, 10, vii, 5, that his father, Yûdân-Yim, son of Shahpûhar, had been the leader of the religion before him; and his own succession to this dignity indicates that he was the eldest surviving son of his father, who, in his declining years, seems to have been assisted by his advice(Ep: I, iii, 11). We also learn, from the heading of his second epistle, that Zâd-sparam was his brother, and this is confirmed by the language used in Ep. II, vi, I, ix, 6, and by Zâd-sparam being a son of the same father (Eps. I, heading, III, 2); that he was a younger brother appears from the general tone of authority over him adopted by Mânûskîhar in his epistles. Shortly before these epistles were written, Zâd-sparam appears to have been at, Sarakhs (Ep. I, v., 3), in the extreme north-east of Khurâsân, where he probably came in contact with the Tughazghuz (Ep. II, i, 12) and adopted some of their heretical opinions, and whence he may have travelled through Nîvshahpûhar (Ep. II, i, 2, note) and Shîrâz (Ep. II, v, 3, 4) on his way to Sîrkân to take up his appointment as high-priest of the south (Eps. I, heading, II, i, 4, v, 9, vii, 1, viii, 1, Zs. I, 0). Soon after his arrival at Sîrkân he issued a decree, regarding the ceremonies of purification, which led to complaints from the people of that place, and compelled his brother to interfere by writing epistles, threatening him with deprivation of office (Ep. I, xi, 7) and the fate of a heretic (Eps. II, viii, 2, 3, III, 17-19). That Zâd-sparam finally submitted, so far as not to be deprived of his office, appears from his still retaining his position in the south while writing his Selections (Zs. I, 0), which must have been compiled at some later period, free from the excitement of active and hazardous controversy.
The age in which Mânûskîhar lived is decided by the date attached to his third epistle, or public notification, to the Mazda-worshippers of Irân; which date is the third month of the year 250 of Yazdakard (Ep. III, 21), corresponding to the interval between the 14th June and 13th July A.D. 881; at which time, we learn, he was an old man (Ep. II, ix, 1), but not too old to travel (Eps. I, iii, 13, xi, 4, II, v, 5, vi, 4, 6, vii, 3, viii, 4, 5).
His writings, therefore, represent the state of the Zoroastrian religion a thousand years ago; and it may be presumed, from the importance and influentialness of his position, that his representations can be implicitly relied upon. To detect any differences there may be between the tenets and religious customs he describes, and those upheld by Zoroastrians of the present time, would require all the learning and experience of a Parsi priest; but, so far as a European can judge, from these writings and his own limited knowledge of existing religious customs among the Parsis, the change has been less than in any other form of religion during the same period. The manuscripts containing the writings of Mânûskîhar are of two classes, one represented in Europe by the codex No. 35 of the collection of Avesta and Pahlavi manuscripts in the University Library at Kopenhagen, the other represented by No. 14 of the Haug Collection of similar manuscripts in the State Library at Munich, which two manuscripts are called K35 and M14, respectively, in this volume. In the former of these classes, represented by K35, the Dâdistân-î Dînîk occupies the central third of the codex; being preceded by a nearly equal extent of other miscellaneous religious writings of rather later date, resembling a Pahlavi Rivâyat; and being followed by a third series of similar writings of about the same age and extent as the Dâdistân-î Dînîk, which includes the Epistles of Mânûskîhar and the Selections of Zâd-sparam. In the latter class of manuscripts, from which M14 is descended, the text of the Dâdistân-î Dînîk contains many variations from that in the former class, as if it had been revised by some one whose knowledge of Pahlavi was insufficient to decipher difficult passages, and who had freely exercised his editorial license in altering and mutilating the text to suit his own limited comprehension of it.
The codex K35, which was brought from Persia by the late Professor Westergaard in 1843, is one of the most important manuscripts of the former class, and now consists of 181 folios; but it is incomplete at both ends, having lost seventy-one folios at the beginning and about thirty-five at the end. It still includes, however, the whole of the Dâdistân-î Dînîk and the Epistles of Mânûskîhar; though its date has been lost with its last folios. But this date can be recovered from an old copy of this codex existing in India (here called BK) and still containing a colophon, probably copied from K35 which states that the manuscript was completed by Marzapân Frêdûn Vâhrôm Rûstâm Bôndâr Malkâ-mardân Dîn-ayâr, on the day Âsmân of the month Amerôdad A.Y. 941 (19th March, 1572), in the district of the Dahîkân in the land of Kirmân. The end of this colophon is lost with the last folio of BK, which renders it possible that the last folio contained the further colophon of this copy.
That BK is descended from K35 is proved by its containing several false readings, which are clearly due to misshapen letters and accidental marks in K35. And that it was copied direct from that codex is proved by the last words of thirty-two of its pages being marked with interlined circles in K35, which circles must have been the copyist’s marks for finding his place, when beginning a fresh page after turning over his folios. This copy of K35 has lost many of its folios, in various parts, but most of the missing text has been recently restored from the modern manuscript J, mentioned below; there are still, however, eleven folios of text missing, near the end of the codex, part of which can be hereafter recovered from TK, described below. The independent value of BK is that it supplies the contents of the seventy-one folios lost at the beginning of K35, and of about nineteen of the folios missing at the end of that codex.
A third manuscript of the first class, which may be even more important than K35, was brought to Bombay from Persia about fifteen years ago, and belongs to Mr. Tehmuras Dinshawji Anklesaria, of Bombay, but it has not been available for settling the texts translated in this volume. It is here called TK, and is described as still consisting of 227 folios, though seventy folios are missing at the beginning and about fourteen at the end. In its present state, therefore, it must begin very near the same place as K35, but it extends much further, so as even to supply nearly half the contents of the eleven folios missing from BK; it does not, however, include the contents of the last three folios of BK. According to a colophon appended in this manuscript to the Sayings of Zâd-sparam, son of Yûdân-Yim, about the formation of men out of body, life, and soul’ (see Zs. XI, 10, note), some copy of these ‘sayings’ was written by Gôpatshah Rûstôm Bândâr Malkâ-mardân in the land of Kirmân. This Gôpatshah was evidently a brother of Vâhrôm, the grandfather of the Marzapân who wrote the colophon found in BK and supposed to have been copied from K35 (see this manuscript). If, therefore, this colophon in TK has not been copied from some older MS., it would indicate that TK is two generations older than K35.
A recent copy of TK exists in the library of the high priest of the Parsis in Bombay, to whom I am indebted for the information that its text does not differ from that of K35, at the two points (Dd. XCIII, 17 and Ep. III, 11) where some omission of text may be suspected.
The manuscripts of the second class appear to be all descended from an old, undated codex brought to Bombay from Persia about sixty-five years ago and recently in the library of Mr. Dhanjibhâi Frâmji Pâtel of Bombay. From what is stated, concerning the contents of this codex, it appears to commence with about three-fourths of the miscellaneous religious writings, found at the beginning of BK; and these are followed by the altered text of the Dâdistân-î Dînîk, as appears from the copies described below, but how the codex concludes is not stated. It may, however, be supposed that it contains as much of the third series of writings, as is found in the manuscript J, a copy of this codex which ends in Ep. II, vi, 2.
This manuscript J belongs to the library of Dastûr Jâmâspji Minochiharji in Bombay; it commenced originally at the same point as the codex just described, and, so far as it has been examined, it contains the same altered text of the Dâdistân-î Dînîk. There is, therefore little doubt that it was originally copied from that codex, but a considerable portion of the additional matter at the beginning of BK has been prefixed to it at a later date. The oldest portion of this copy, extending to Ep. I, vii, 4, bears a date corresponding to 21st December 1818; the date of a further portion, extending to Ep. II, vi, 2, corresponds to 12th February 1841; and a third portion copied from BK, at the beginning of the manuscript, is still more recent.
Another copy of this codex, or of the Dâdistân-î Dînîk contained in it, exists in the library of the high-priest of the Parsis in Bombay; and from this copy the text of the Dâdistân-î Dînîk contained in M14 was transcribed.
This latter manuscript consists of two volumes, written in 1865 and 1868, respectively; the first volume containing Chaps. I, 1-XXXVII, 9, and the second volume Chaps. XXXVI, 1-XCIV, 15 of the altered text of the Dâdistân-î Dînîk.
Other copies of the Dâdistân-î Dînîk, which have not been examined, are to be found in India, but, unless descended from other manuscripts than K35 and the above-mentioned codex recently belonging to Mr. Dhanjibhâi Frâmji, they would be of no further use for settling the text.
Of the manuscripts above described the following have been available for the translations in this volume: — K35 for the whole of the Dâdistân-î Dînîk and the Epistles; M14 for the whole of the Dâdistân-î Dînîk alone; BK for Dd. I, 1-VI, 3 X, 2-XIV, 3 LXXXVIII, 9-XCIV, 15, the whole of the Epistles, the legend about the soul of Keresâsp (see pp. 373-381), and the extracts from the Pahlavi Rivâyat in these codices relating to Khvêtûk-das (see pp. 415-423); and J for Dd. I, 1-XXXIX, 10 LXXXVIII, 9-LXXXIX, 1 XCI, 7-XCIV, 15, Ep. I, i, 1-II, ix, 7 the legend about Keresâsp, and the extracts relating to Khvêtûk-das. Other manuscripts, used for the remaining extracts translated in the Appendix, will be mentioned in § 4 of this introduction.
The existence of two versions of the text of the Dâdistân-î Dînîk would have been a source of much perplexity to the translator, had it not been soon apparent that the version represented by M14 was merely a revision of that in K35, attempted by some editor who had found much difficulty in understanding the involved phraseology of Mânûskîhar. There are, undoubtedly, some corrupt words and passages in K35, where the revised version may be followed with advantage, but nine-tenths of the alterations, introduced by the reviser, are wholly unnecessary, and in many cases they are quite inconsistent with the context.
Under these circumstances it has been the duty of the translator to follow the text given in K35, wherever it is not wholly unintelligible after prolonged study, to note all deviations of the translation from that text (which are usually small), and merely to mention the variations of the revised text, so far as they are intelligible, in the notes.
The writings of Mânûskîhar are certainly difficult to translate, not only from the involved and obscure style he affects, but also from the numerous compound epithets he uses, which are not easy either to understand with certainty, or to express clearly in English. The only other Pahlavi writings that approach them in difficulty are those of his brother, Zâd-sparam, and those of the author of the third book of the Dînkard, who seems to have also been a con-temporary writer. To a certain extent, therefore, an involved style of writing may have been a failing of the age in which he lived; and his works, being of an epistolary and hortatory character, would naturally be more abstruse and idiomatic than simple narrative; but much of the obscurity of his style must still be attributed to his own want of clear arrangement of thought and inadequate, though wordy, expression of ideas, the usual sources of all obscure and rambling writing.
When to the difficulty of tracing the thread of an argument through the involved obscurity of the text is added the perplexity occasioned by the ambiguity of many Pahlavi words, it can be readily understood that no translation is likely to be even approximately accurate, unless it be as literal as possible. The translator has to avoid enough pitfals, in the shape of false constructions and incorrect readings, without risking the innumerable sources of error offered by the alluring by-paths of free translation. If therefore, the reader should sometimes meet with strange idioms, or uncouth phrases, he must attribute them to a straining after correctness of translation, however little that correctness may be really attained.
For the purpose of more effectually keeping a curb upon the imagination of the translator, and indicating where he has been compelled to introduce his own ideas, all words not expressed or fully understood in the original text are italicised in the translation. Occasionally, also, the original word is appended to its translation, where either the reading or meaning adopted, is unusual, or where a scholar might wish to know the particular Pahlavi word translated.
Some endeavour has likewise been made to introduce greater precision than has hitherto been attempted, in the transliteration of Pahlavi words and names, by taking advantage of the italic system, adopted for this series of Sacred Books of the East, not only for distinguishing variations of sound (as in the use of g, k, and s for the sounds of j, soft ch, and sh, respectively, in English), but also to indicate the use of particular Pahlavi letters, when there are more than one of nearly the same sound. Thus, d is used where its sound is represented by
If, in addition to these particulars, the Pahlavi scholar will remember that the uncircumflexed vowels are not expressed in Pahlavi characters, and the vowel ŏ is expressed, he will find no particular difficulty in restoring any of the transliterated words to their original character, by merely following the ordinary rules of Pahlavi writing. Without some such mode of distinguishing the different Pahlavi letters used for the same sound, it would be practically impossible to restore the transliteration of any word, new to the reader, to its original Pahlavi form. And even the system here adopted requires the addition of a and â to represent
The general reader should, however, observe that these niceties of transliteration are merely matters of writing, as the exact pronunciation of Pahlavi cannot now be fully ascertained in all its details. There is every reason to suppose that the Semitic portion of the Pahlavi was never pronounced by the Persians as it was written (unless, indeed, in the earliest times); but to transliterate these Semitic words by their Persian equivalents, as the Persians certainly pronounced them, would produce a Pâzand text, instead of a Pahlavi one. If therefore, we really want the transliteration to represent the Pahlavi text correctly, we must transliterate the Semitic words as they are written, without reference to the mode in which we suppose that the Persians used to read them. With regard to the Persian words, if we call to mind the fact that Pahlavi was the immediate parent of modern Persian, we shall naturally accept the modern Persian pronunciation (stripped of its Arabic corruptions) as a guide, so far as Pahlavi orthography permits, in preference to tracing the sounds of these words downwards from their remote ancestors’ in ancient Persian or the Avesta. But the pronunciation of words evidently derived directly from the Avesta, as is the case with many religious terms, must clearly depend upon the Avesta orthography, so far as the alteration in spelling permits. These are the general rules here adopted, but many uncertainties arise in their practical application, which have to be settled in a somewhat arbitrary manner.
The term Dâdistân-î Dînîk, ‘religious opinions or decisions,’ is a comparatively modern name applied to ninety-two questions, on religious subjects, put to the high-priest Mânûskîhar, and his answers to the same. These questions appear to have been sent in an epistle from Mitrô-khûrshêd, son of Âtûrŏ-mahân, and other Mazda-worshippers (Dd. heading and I, 2), and were received by Mânûskîhar, who was the leader of the religion (Dd. I, 10, note), in the month of July or August (Dd. I, 17); but it was not till September or October, after he had returned to Shîrâz from a tour in the provinces, that he found time to begin his reply which, when completed, was sent by a courier (Dd. I, 26) to his correspondents, but at what date is not recorded.
Regarding the residence of these correspondents, and the year in which these transactions took place, we have no positive information. The correspondents seem to have thanked Mânûskîhar for sending them one of his disciples (Dd. I, 3, 4) to act probably as their high-priest; and, from the mode in which the land of Pârs is mentioned in Dd. LXVI, 28, LXXXIX, 1, it seems likely that they were not inhabitants of that province; but this conclusion is hardly confirmed, though not altogether contradicted, by the further allusions to Pârs in Dd. LXVI, 3, 15, 21, LXXXVIII, 1. With regard to the date of this correspondence we may conclude, from the less authoritative tone assumed by Mânûskîhar in his reply (Dd. I, 5-7, II), as compared with that adopted in his epistles (Ep. III, 17-19), that he was a younger man when he composed the Dâdistân-î Dînîk than when he wrote his epistles; we may, therefore, probably assume that the Dâdistân-î Dînîk was written several years before A.D. 881.
Although the subjects discussed in the Dâdistân-î Dînîk cover a wide range of religious doctrines, legends, and duties, they cannot be expected to give a complete view of the Mazda-worshipping religion, as they are merely those matters on which Mitrô-khûrshêd and his friends entertained doubts, or wished for further information. It is also somewhat doubtful whether the whole of the questions have been preserved, on’ account of the abrupt transition from the last reply, at the end of Dd. XCIII, to the peroration in Dd. XCIV, and also from the fact that a chapter is alluded to, in Dd. XVII, 20, XVIII, 2, which is no longer extant in the text.
The questions, although very miscellaneous in their character, are arranged, to some extent, according to the subjects they refer to, which are taken in the following order: — The righteous and their characteristics; the temporal distress of the good; why mankind was created; good works and their effects; the account of sin and good works to be rendered; the exposure of corpses and reasons for it; the paths, destinations, and fate of departed souls, with the ceremonies to be performed after a death; the contributors to the renovation of the universe; the contest between the good and evil spirits from the creation till the resurrection; works of supererogation; the sacred shirt and thread-girdle; apostasy and its prevention; the use of fire at ceremonies, and other details; duties, payment, and position of priests; details regarding ceremonies; lawful and unlawful trading in corn, wine, and cattle, with a definition of drunkenness; adoption, guardianship, and inheritance; rights of foreigners and infidels; the origin of mankind and next-of-kin marriage; the cost of religious rites; the causes of the rainbow, phases of the moon, eclipses, and river-beds; things acquired through destiny and exertion; the sins of unnatural intercourse and adultery; imperfect prayer before drinking; ceremonies and payments for them; the seven immortal rulers before Zaratûst; the sky, the source of pure water, and the cause of rain and storms.
In his replies to these questions Mânûskîhar displays much intelligence and wisdom, the morality he teaches is of a high standard for the age in which he lived, and, while anxious to uphold the power and privileges of the priesthood, he is widely tolerant of all deficiencies in the conduct of the laity that do not arise from wilful persistence in sin. The reader will search in vain for any confirmation of the foreign notion that Mazda-worship is decidedly more dualistic than Christianity is usually shown to be by orthodox writers, or for any allusion to the descent of the good and evil spirits from a personification of ‘boundless time,’ as asserted by strangers to the faith. No attempt is made to account for the origin of either spirit, but the temporary character of the power of the evil one, and of the punishment in hell, is distinctly asserted.
Although Mânûskîhar does not mention, in his writings, any of the lost Nasks or sacred books of the Mazda-worshippers, except the Hûspârûm (Dd. LXI, 3) and the Sakâdûm (Ep. I, viii, 1, 6, 7), he certainly had access to many Pahlavi books which are now no longer extant; hence he is able to give us more information than we find elsewhere regarding some of the legendary personages mentioned in Dd. II, 10, XXXVI, 4, 5, XLVIII, 33, XC, 3; he hints that the second month of the year (April-May) was called Zaremaya in the Avesta (Dd. XXXI, 14); and he mentions two places, instead of one, intermediate between heaven and hell, one for the souls of those not quite good enough for heaven, and one for those not quite bad enough for hell (Dd. XXIV, 6, XXXIII, 2).
The present translation of this work is not the first that has been attempted. Shortly before the late Professor Haug left India he delivered a lecture on the Parsi religion to a large assemblage of Parsis in Bombay, at their request, and at his desire the sum of 900 rûpîs, out of the net proceeds of the entrance-tickets sold, was offered as a prize for an edition of the Pahlavi text of the Dâdistân-î Dînîk with a Gugarâti translation and glossary. Some years afterwards this prize was awarded to Mr. Shehriarji Dadabhoy and Mr. Tehmuras Dinshawji Anklesaria, for their joint Gugarâti translation of the work, which still, however, remains unpublished for want of funds, and has, therefore, been inaccessible to the present translator.
It has been already stated (see pp. xiii, xiv) that Zâd-sparam, a younger brother of Mânûskîhar, after having been at Sarakhs, in the extreme north-east of Khurâsân, where he seems to have associated with the heretical Tughazghuz, was appointed high-priest of Sîrkân, south or south-west of Kirmân Shortly after his arrival there he issued a decree, regarding the ceremonies of purification and other matters, which was so unpalatable to the Mazda-worshippers of that place that they wrote an epistle to Mânûskîhar, complaining of the conduct of his brother (Ep. I, i, 2, ii, 1).
In reply to this complaint, which was sent by a special courier (Ep. I, i, 2), and after going to Shîrâz and holding a general assembly of the priests and elders (Ep. II, i, ii), Mânûskîhar wrote his first epistle, completed on the 15th March 881 (Ep. I, xi, 12), in which he condemned the practices decreed by Zâd-sparam, to whom he sent a confidential agent, named Yazdân-pânak (Ep. I, xi, i, 2, 6, 10, II, vii, 2), with a copy of this epistle and a further one to himself, which has not been preserved, for the purpose of inducing his brother to withdraw his decree and conform to the usual customs.
It would appear that Yazdân-pânak was not very successful in his mission, as we find Mânûskîhar writing a general epistle (Ep. III) to all the Mazda-worshippers in Irân, in the following June or July (Ep. III, 21), denouncing as heretical the mode of purification decreed by Zâd-sparam, and ordering an immediate return to former customs. At the same time (Ep. II, vii, 2, viii, 1) he wrote a second epistle (Ep. II) to his brother, as he had already promised in Ep. I, xi, 2, and, after referring to an epistle (now lost) which he had received from Zâd-sparam in the previous November or December, he proceeded to enforce his views by a judicious intermingling of argument, entreaty, and threats. He also contemplated making preparations (Ep. I, xi, 4, II, vii, 3) for travelling himself to Sîrkân, notwithstanding his age (Ep. II, ix, 1), to arrange the matters in dispute upon a satisfactory basis. Whether he actually undertook this journey is unknown, but that his brother must have finally submitted to his authority appears from Zâd-sparam retaining his position in the south, as has been already noticed (p. xiv).
The matter in dispute between Zâd-sparam and the orthodox Mazda-worshippers may seem a trivial one to people of other religions, but, inasmuch as the ceremonial uncleanness of a person insufficiently purified after contact with the dead would contaminate every one he associated with, the sufficiency of the mode of purification was quite as important to the community, both priests and laity, as avoidance of breach of caste-rules is to the Hindû, or refraining from sacrifices to heathen gods was to the Jew, the early Christian, or the Muhammadan. And much more important than any disputes about sacraments, infallibility, apostolic succession, ritual, or observance of the Sabbath can possibly be to any modern Romanist or Protestant.
In his mode of dealing with this matter Mânûskîhar displays at once the moderation and tact of a statesman accustomed to responsibility, the learning and zeal of a well-informed priest, and the kindly affection of a brother. That he was not without rivals and enemies appears from his casual allusions to Zaratûst, the club-footed, and Âtûrŏ-pâd in Ep. II, i, 13, v, 14, ix, 11; but in all such allusions, as well as in his denunciation of heretical opinions, he refrains from coarse invective and avoids the use of exaggerated language, such as too often disfigures and weakens the arguments in polemical discussions.
Indirectly these epistles throw some light upon the condition of the Mazda-worshippers after more than two centuries of ceaseless struggle with the ever-advancing flood of Muhammadanism which was destined to submerge them. Shîrâz, Sîrkân, Kirmân, Râî, and Sarakhs are still mentioned as head-quarters of the old faith; and we are told of assemblies at Shîrâz and among the Tughazghuz, the former of which appears to have had the chief control of religious matters in Pârs, Kirmân, and the south, acting as a council to the high-priest of Pârs and Kirmân, who was recognised as the leader of the religion (Dd. XLV, 5). We also learn, from Ep. I, iii, I x, II, v, 14, that the leaders of the Mazda-worshippers, if not their high-priests, were still in the habit of maintaining troops and, from Ep. II, i, 9, that when a high-priest became very old his worldly duties were performed by four of the most learned priests, forming a committee, which had full authority to deliberate and act for him in all worldly matters. Mânûskîhar even speaks of emigrating by sea to China, or by land to Asia Minor (Ep. II, viii, 5), in order to escape from the annoyances of his position.
But the statements which are most important to the Pahlavi scholar, in these epistles, are the date attached to the third epistle, corresponding to A.D. 881, and the mention of Nîshahpûhar in Ep. I, iv, 15, 17 as the supreme officiating priest and councillor of king Khûsrô Nôshirvân (A.D. 531-579), engaged apparently in writing commentaries on the Avesta. The date of these epistles not only limits that of the Dâdistân-î Dînîk to the latter half of the ninth century, but also fixes those of the larger recension of the Bundahis and of the latest revision of the Dînkard within the same period, because it is stated in Bd. XXXIII, 10, 11 that the writer of that chapter was a contemporary of Zâd-sparam, son of Yûdân-Yim, and Âtûr-pâd, son of Hêmîd, the former of whom was evidently the brother of Mânûskîhar, and the latter is mentioned in Dînkard III, ccccxiii as the latest editor of that work. The actual compiler of a great part of the Dînkard (especially of the fourth and fifth books) was, however, the somewhat earlier writer Atûr-frôbag, son of Farukhûzâd (Dd. LXXXVIII, 8, Ep. I, iii, 9). The name of Nîshahpûhar is also mentioned as that of a commentator in the Pahlavi Vendidâd and Nîrangistân, which works must, therefore, have been revised since the middle of the sixth century. And as we are informed in the book of Ardâ-Vîrâf (I, 35) that ‘there are some who call him by the name of Nikhshahpûr,’ we ought probably to refer that book to the same age. These epistles, therefore, enable us, for the first time, to fix the probable dates of the latest extensive revisions of six of the most important Pahlavi works that are still extant; and from the relationship of these to others we can readily arrive at safer conclusions, regarding the age of Pahlavi literature in general, than have been hitherto possible.
For the sake of elucidating certain matters, mentioned in the writings of Mânûskîhar, further information than could be given in the foot-notes has been added in the shape of an appendix.
To a brief summary of the Avesta legends, relating to the ancient hero Keresâsp, has been added a translation of a Pahlavi legend regarding the fate of his soul, in which several of his more famous exploits are detailed. This legend is found in the Pahlavi Rivâyat preceding the Dâdistân-î Dînîk in the manuscripts BK and J, and is evidently derived from the fourteenth fargard of the Sûdkar Nask, whose contents, as described in the ninth book of the Dînkard, are also given. It is likewise found in the later Persian Rivâyats, with several modifications which are duly noticed.
The Nîrang-i Kustî, or ceremony of tying the sacred thread-girdle, is also described in detail, with a translation of the ritual accompanying it, partly from actual observation, and partly from Gugarâti accounts of the rite.
It having become necessary to ascertain with certainty whether the term ‘next-of-kin marriage’ was a justifiable translation of khvêtûk-das, as used by Pahlavi writers, an extensive examination of all accessible passages, which throw any light upon the meaning of the word, has been made. The result of this enquiry can be best understood from the details collected, but it may be stated in general terms that, though ‘marriage among kinsfolk’ might fairly represent the varying meaning of khvêtûk-das in different ages, its usual signification in Pahlavi literature is more accurately indicated by ‘next-of-kin marriage.’
Some apology is perhaps due to the Parsi community for directing attention to a subject which they consider disagreeable. But, by the publication of a portion of the Dînkard, they have themselves placed the most important passage, bearing on the subject, within the reach of every European Orientalist; thus rendering it easy for any prejudiced translator to represent the practice of such marriages as having been general, instead of their being so distasteful to the laity as to require a constant exertion of all the influence that the priesthood possessed, in order to recommend them, even in the darkest ages of the faith. To avoid such one-sided views of the matter, as well as to hinder them in others, has been the special aim of the present translator in trying to ascertain the exact meaning of the obscure texts he had to deal with.
The translations from the Pahlavi Vendidâd, regarding the Bareshnûm ceremony and the purifications requisite after finding a corpse in the wilderness, will be found necessary for explaining many allusions and assertions in the Epistles of Mânûskîhar.