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

p. 383


THE Nîrang-i Kustî, or girdle formula, is a religious rite which a Parsi man or woman ought to perform every time the hands have been washed, whether for the sake of cleanliness, or in preparation for prayer; but it is not always strictly performed in all its details.

The Kustî, or sacred thread-girdle, is a string about the size of a stay-lace, and long enough to pass three times very loosely round the waist, to be tied twice in a double knot, and to leave the short ends hanging behind. It is composed of seventy-two very fine, white, woollen threads, as described in Dd. XXXIX, 1, note, and is. tied in the manner there mentioned, but with the actions and ritual detailed below 1.

The ceremonial ablution having been performed, and the Kustî taken off, the person stands facing the sun by day, or a lamp or the moon at night; when there is no light he should face the south, as he should also at midday, even when the sun is northerly 2. The Kustî is then doubled, and the loop thus formed is held in the right hand, with the thumb in the loop; while the left hand holds the two parts of the string together, some twenty inches horizontally from the other hand; and the ends hang loosely from the left hand.

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Holding the Kustî in this fashion, the person recites the following prayer in Pâzand, bowing and raising to his forehead the horizontal portion of the string at the name of Aûharmazd, dashing the string loosely and sharply downwards towards the left when mentioning Aharman, and repeating this downward jerk to the left, less violently, as each of the other evil beings is named:--'May Aûharmazd be lord! and Aharman unprevailing, keeping far away, smitten, and defeated! May Aharman, the demons, the fiends, the wizards, the wicked, the Kîks, the Karaps 1, the tyrants, the sinners, the apostates, the impious, the enemies, and the witches be smitten and defeated! May evil sovereigns be unprevailing! May the enemies be confounded! May the enemies be unprevailing!'

Bending forwards and holding the doubled Kustî up, horizontally, as before, he continues: 'Aûharmazd is the lord; of all sin I am in renunciation and penitent, of all kinds of evil thoughts, evil words, and evil deeds, whatever was thought by me, and spoken by me, and done by me, and happened through me, and has originated through me in the world.'

Then, holding the Kustî single with both hands near the middle of the string, but as far apart as before, while the loose ends of the string are shortened

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[paragraph continues] (to prevent their touching the ground) by being partially gathered up in a large loop hanging under each hand, like a pair of spectacles, he proceeds: 'For those sins of thought, word, and deed, of body and soul, worldly and spiritual, do thou pardon this one 1! I am penitent and in renunciation through the three words 2.'

He then continues to recite the following Avesta phrases: 'Satisfaction for Ahura-mazda!' bowing and raising the Kustî to the forehead; 'scorn for Angra-mainyu!' jerking the Kustî to the left, without altering the mode of holding it; 'which is the most forward of actual exertions through the will. Righteousness is the best good, a blessing it is; a blessing be to that which is righteousness to perfect rectitude 3.' Applying the middle of the Kustî to the front of the waist at the first word, 'righteousness,' of the last sentence, it is passed twice round the waist during the remainder of the sentence, by the hands meeting behind, exchanging ends, and bringing them round again to the front.

The following Avesta formula is then recited: 'As a patron spirit is to be chosen, so is an earthly master, for the sake of righteousness, to be a giver of good thought of the actions of life towards Mazda; and the dominion is for the lord whom he has given

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as a protector for the poor 1.' At the first word the long ends of the Kustî, hanging in front, are loosely twisted round each other at the waist, with a right-handed turn (that is, with the sun), and the reciter, holding his hands together, should think that Aûharmazd is the sole creator of the good creation, until he comes to the word 'actions,' after which the twist is drawn closer to the waist during the remainder of the recitation.

The same Avesta formula is then repeated. At the first word the second half of the knot is formed, by twisting the long ends of the Kustî loosely round each other with a left-handed turn (that is, against the sun), so as to complete a loose reef-knot, and the reciter, holding his hands together, should think that Mazda-worship is the true faith, until he comes to the word 'actions,' after which the complete double knot is drawn close during the remainder of the recitation.

Then, passing the long ends of the Kustî round the waist for the third time, from front to back, the previous Avesta formula, 'Righteousness is the best good,' &c., is recited. At the first word the ends of the Kustî are loosely twisted round each other behind the waist, with a right-handed turn as before, and the reciter should think that Zaratûst was the true apostle, until he comes to the first occurrence of the word 'blessing,' when the twist is drawn close. During the remainder of the formula the second half of the knot is formed, with a left-handed twist as before, while the reciter thinks that he must practise

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good thoughts, good words, and good deeds, and avoid all evil thoughts, evil words, and evil deeds; the double knot being completed behind as the last word of the formula is uttered.

Afterwards, bending forward and holding the front knot of the Kustî with both hands, the person recites the following Avesta formula: 'Come for my protection, O Mazd1! A Mazda-worshipper am I, a Zarathustrian Mazda-worshipper will I profess myself, both praising and preferring it. I praise a well-considered thought, I praise a well-spoken word, I praise a well-performed deed. I praise the Mazda-worshipping religion, expelling controversy 2 and putting down attack, and the righteous union of kinsfolk 3, which is the greatest and best and most excellent of things that exist and will exist, which is Ahurian and Zarathustrian. I ascribe all good to Ahura-mazda. Let this be the eulogy of the Mazda-worshipping religion.' And the reciter then repeats the formula, 'Righteousness is the best good,' &c., as before, bowing reverently, which completes the rite.

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During the rite the person performing it must remain standing on the same spot, without stepping either backwards or forwards, and must speak to no one. Should anything compel him to speak, he must re-commence the rite after the interruption.


383:1 For most of the details which follow I am indebted to Dastûr Jâmâspji Minochiharji Jâmâsp-Âsâ-nâ.

383:2 As it is, in Bombay, for about two months in the summer.

384:1 These two Pahlavi names are merely transliterations of the Av. Kavi and Karapan, the names of certain classes of evil-doers, traceable back to the earliest times, and, probably, to the Vedic kavi and kalpa, which would naturally be used in a bad sense in the Avesta (see Haug's Essays, p. 289). The Pahlavi translators of the Yasna explain these names by the words kûr, 'blind,' and kar, 'deaf,' which are merely guesses.

385:1 The Pâzand word is ukhê or aokhê, which the Gugarâti Khurdah Avesta translates by khudâtâelâ, 'most high God;' but it seems more probably a misreading of Pahl. hanâ-i, 'this one.' These phrases are a portion of the Patit or renunciation of sin.

385:2 That is, in thought, word, and deed. So far the phrases are recited in Pâzand, but the following recitations are in the Avesta language.

385:3 This last sentence is the Ashem-vohû formula (see Bd. XX, 2).

386:1 This is the Ahunavar, or Yathâ-ahû-vairyô formula (see Bd. I, 21, Zs. I, 12-19).

387:1 What follows is from Yas. XIII, 25-29, and is the conclusion of the Mazda-worshipper's creed.

387:2 The meaning of the original term fraspâyaokhedhrãm is rather uncertain, and the Pahlavi version is not easy to understand clearly; it translates this sentence, as far as the next epithet, as follows: 'I praise the good religion of the Mazda-worshippers, from which the disunion cast forth and the assault put down are manifest (this is manifest from it, that it is not desirable to go to others without controversy, and with that which arises without controversy it is quite requisite to occasion controversy):

387:3 This is one of the earliest references to hvaêtvadatha, or marriage among next-of-kin; the passage being written in the later Gâtha dialect.

Next: III. The Meaning of Khvêtûk-das or Khvêtûdâd