Pahlavi Texts, Part II (SBE18), E.W. West, tr. , at sacred-texts.com
1. As to the forty-sixth question and reply, that which you ask is thus: At a sacred feast (myazd) 3 of those of the good religion, in which there are fifty or a hundred men, more or less, just as it happens, and seven men who are engaged in the performance of the religious rite (dînô) which is celebrated by them are feasting together with them, of those seven men there are some who are easily 4 able to pray five sections (vîdak) 5, and some six subdivisions (vakhshisnŏ), of the Avesta, but no chapter (fargardŏ) 6 of the commentary (zand) is
easy to them; and all seven of them are disputing about the right (râs) to the foremost places. 2. And he to whom thirty chapters in 1 the commentary are easy speaks thus: 'The foremost place is mine, and it became my place owing to great retentiveness of memory, for I know the commentary well and "the proper and improper 2;" and my place must be good, for whenever I do not indicate this as the place of religion unto the people I am not in the security of religion; but you should not dispute about my place, for it is not becoming to dispute it, because this neglect and outlandishness (an-aîrîh), which some one brings constantly into the religion, is not due to me.' 3. Those seven men, moreover, speak constantly unto him thus: 'Our place is more important and must ever be so, for every man of us is able to pray several sections in his own officiating priestly duty (zôtîh), and it is ever necessary to consider who is more participating in sharing a reward.' 4. Then as to those whose Avesta is very easy, or him who knows the commentary and 'the proper and improper' well, and their goodness and greatness, as asked by us in this chapter, direct some one to make them clear unto us, for when he demonstrates the littleness and greatness in this
subject his great religion is then completely an advantage.
5. The reply is this, that, as to that which you ask me to write, so that they may decide whether thirty chapters in the commentary are easier, or really the other, be they five or be they six sections of the Avesta, are easier, there is no deciding, because which are the chapters and which the sections? 6. For, as regards more cleverness and less cleverness, it is not clear; there are some of the sections greater than many sections, and there are chapters as great as many chapters, but to understand severally the divisions (buris) and enumeration of him to whom five sections of the Avesta are easy, and also of him whose thirty chapters in the commentary are easy, it is necessary for making the calculation to consider every single division in the commentary as equivalent to seven equal divisions apart from the commentary 1. 7. And it is thereby thus manifest who has skill in the one and who has skill in the other 2, and whoever has less, when there is nothing in it regarding which he is otherwise than when the superintending command of rulers (khtûdâyân) delivered over to him the place of duty--or on account of a new officiating priestly duty or directorship (radîh) of the season festivals 3, or the
foremost places being occupied, or like causes he becomes otherwise--is fit for all the great share and very good estimation of the place of one much more skilful, when their being fitting and skilful, or their excess or deficiency, is not specially manifest from their skill 1. 8. And him to whom the commentary is very easy, having prayed much, it has seemed important to consider more thriving proportionable to his eating 2.
9. And great and ample respect for both their ways of worthiness is an advantage and fully necessary, skill in the commentary and that in the Avesta being together mutually assisting; for even the solemnizers of the Avesta have need for information from the commentary about the scattered (parvand) 'proper and improper' usages of the sacred ceremony. 10. The more efficient information from the commentary is advantageous when the ceremonial is proceeded with by them, and one of those two is one of the skilful, and a friend, provider, glorifier, and aggrandizer for the other; and the friends of religion are good friends and, therefore, also providers of fame for both of them.
11. When, too, they are publishing accusing statements, one about the other, from necessity, or from the violence which is owing to the adversary 1, it is important to become an excuser as regards them, and not a diminisher of their share, nor a bringer (âkhtâr) of unhealthiness to their united strength.
155:3 The sacred feast consists of the consecration of the sacred cakes (see Chap. XXX, r), followed by that of wine and fruit with the recitation of the Âfrîngân or blessings (see Haug's Essays, p. 408), after which the consecrated food and drink are consumed by those present, both priests and laymen.
155:4 That is, they know the prayers by heart, which is necessary in reciting the Avesta.
155:5 Compare Pers. vaî, vîd, vîdâ, 'part, little,' guz, 'a portion, a bundle of folios.' M14 has nask, 'book,' but this is clearly an unlucky guess.
155:6 The chapters of the Vendidâd are called fargards, as are also p. 156 those of the Vistâsp Yast and many of the lost Nasks or books. The text here applies the term specially to the chapters of some scripture with commentary, and it may be noted that the thirty; fargards, subsequently mentioned, are the exact number contained in the Vendidâd and Vistâsp Vast taken together, the learning of which by heart (as the word 'easy' implies) is a very serious task, comparable with learning the whole Greek text of the four Gospels.
156:1 Perhaps 'with' is meant, but the word used is pavan.
156:2 See Chap. XLIV, 2.
157:1 The reason for this difference is that it is only necessary to learn the words of the Avesta, without understanding them, whereas a knowledge of the Zand, or commentary, implies understanding both texts as well as knowing the Avesta by heart.
157:2 M14 omits the repetition of the words mûn afzâr, but it seems necessary for the completion of the idiomatic phrase.
157:3 The six Gâsânbârs or Gâhambârs are festivals, each held for five days, and severally ending on the 45th, 205th, 180th, 210th, 290th, and 365th days of the Parsi year. They were probably p. 158 intended originally to celebrate the periods of midspring, midsummer, the beginning of autumn, the beginning of winter, midwinter, and the beginning of spring (see Sls. XVIII, 3), when the Parsi year was fixed to begin at the vernal equinox. In later times they were supposed to commemorate the creations of the sky, water, earth, vegetation, animals, and man.
158:1 The meaning, seems to be that a priest once acknowledged as pre-eminent is not to lose his right of precedence merely because others become rather better qualified, so long as he himself does not retrograde, or is not superseded in his official duties. But if through any accidental circumstance he be excluded from the chief seat, he ought not to dispute the matter.
158:2 Or, perhaps, 'through being moderate in his eating.'
159:1 The evil spirit.