Pahlavi Texts, Part II (SBE18), E.W. West, tr. , at sacred-texts.com
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.
The text followed in all passages translated from the Dînkard is that contained in the manuscript now in the library of Dastûr Sohrâbji Rustamji, the high-priest of the Kadmi sect of Parsis in Bombay. It was written A.D. 1669, and was brought from Persia to Surat by Mullâ Bahman in 1783. All other known copies of the Dînkard are descended from this manuscript, except a codex, brought from Persia by the late Professor Westergaard in 1843, which contains one-fifth of the Dînkard mostly written in 1574, and is now in the University Library at Kopenhagen.
For translations from the Pahlavi Vendidâd the text adopted, wherever available and not evidently defective, has been that of L4, a manuscript of the Vendidâd with
[paragraph continues] Pahlavi, Z. and P. IV, in the India Office Library in London. The date of this manuscript has been lost with its last folio, but its text is in the same handwriting as that of three others, in Kopenhagen and Bombay, which were written A.D. 1323-4. A considerable portion of the beginning of this manuscript has also been lost, and is replaced by modern folios of no particular value.
In conclusion, the translator must take the opportunity of thankfully acknowledging the kindness and readiness with which Dastûr Peshotanji Behrâmji Sanjânâ, the high-priest of the Parsis in Bombay, and Dastûr Jâmâspji Minochiharji Jâmâsp-Asâ-nâ, of the same city, have always furnished him with any information he applied for, not only on those matters specially mentioned in the foot-notes, but also on many other occasions.
E. W. WEST.