Pahlavi Texts, Part II (SBE18), E.W. West, tr. , at sacred-texts.com
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.