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Pahlavi Texts, Part II (SBE18), E.W. West, tr. [1882], at


1. The twenty-second question is that which you ask thus: When they shall snatch forth the life from the body of man how does it depart?

2. The reply is this, that it is said to be in resemblance such as when the redness is drawn up out of a fire; for when the inflammable material of a fire is burnt, and has remained without glowing 3,

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and when it does not obtain new inflammable material, or extinguishing matter (nîzâyisnîk) comes upon it, its redness and heat then depart from it 1; the life, too, on the departure of the breath (vâdŏ vasakîh), does not stay in the body, but in like manner departs.

3. To a like purport the high-priests of the religion have also said this, that mortals and men by listening 2 perceive the time when the spirits shall put a noose (band) on the neck 3; when his time has fully come one then conducts him with a companion (pavan ham-bar) 4, and at his falling are the place of death 5 and cause of death; and having made lethargy (bûshâsp) deliver him up, and terrified his fever (tapŏ), death (aôsh) seizes decrepitude (zarmân) away from him 6.

4. The strength in those intrusted with him, and the good proceedings and pursuit of means which remain behind 7, giving them strength, are the determination

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[paragraph continues] (vikîr) which is their own inward physician. 5. And should it be a passing away (vidarg) which obtains no light, and on account of their disquietudes they have gone to the understanders of remedies for strength for the remedial duties, and the way is closed, he proceeds with insufficiency of means 1. 6. And the soul of the body, which is the master of its house (kadak khûdâî), along with the animating life, goes out of the impotent body to the immortal souls 2, as a wise master of a house goes out of a foreign (anîrânŏ) house to a residence of the good worship.

7. It was also told to the ancient learned that life (khayâ) is where there is a living spirit within the soul's body, which is connected with the soul 3, as much as a development (sarîtûntanŏ) of the body, and is the life (zîvandakîh) of the soul of a body of one passed away.


51:3 Reading abarîs (compare Pers barz, 'splendour'), or it may be abarâkh, 'sparkless,' if barkh, 'a spark,' be a pure Persian word, which is doubtful.

52:1 M14 and J omit the remainder of the sentence.

52:2 Reading sinvisnŏ, but by omitting a stroke we should have dânisnŏ, 'knowledge.'

52:3 Of a person at the point of death. The demon of death, Astôvîdâd is supposed to cast a noose around the necks of the dead to drag them to hell, which only the righteous can throw off (see Bd. III, 21, 22).

52:4 That is, the dying man must be conveyed by more than one person, for fear of such contamination by the demon of corruption (at the time of death) as would require the tedious Bareshnûm ceremonial of purification (see Sls. II, 1, 6-8).

52:5 And, therefore, the place where his body will rise again at the resurrection (see Sls. XVII, 11-14).

52:6 Lethargy, fever, and decrepitude are considered as fiends, but are dispossessed by the mightier demon of death. M14 and J mention 'lethargy,' but omit the after part of the sentence.

52:7 Alluding probably to the ceremonies to be ordered and performed by the survivors (see Chap. XXVIII, 6, Sls. XVII, 2-6).

53:1 That is, when there are doubts about the fate of the soul, and the survivors can obtain no satisfactory assurances from the priesthood, the soul has to proceed to the other world without suitable provision for its happiness.

53:2 The MSS. have 'soul.'

53:3 M14 and J have 'which is the soul,' and omit the remainder of the sentence.

Next: Chapter XXIV