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Pahlavi Texts, Part III (SBE24), E.W. West, tr. [1885], at


As its name implies the Sad Dar is a treatise on 'a hundred subjects' connected with the Zoroastrian religion. The word dar, literally 'door, or gate,' being also applied to the 'chapters' of a book, and to the 'matters, or subjects,' of which it treats. This work is not a Pahlavi text, being written in Persian with an admixture of about four per cent. of Arabic words; it is, however, more quoted than any other work by the Parsi compilers of the Persian Rivâyats, or religious 'traditions,' in the seventeenth century. In one of its recensions it is also found written in Avesta characters, and the Avesta-Persian sentences alternate with an old Gugarâti translation, in imitation of the Pâzand-Sanskrit versions of Pahlavi texts compiled by Nêryôsang. In consideration of the existence of this pseudo-Pâzand recension, together with the general acceptance of the work as an important authority, and its being a convenient summary of many of the religious customs handed down by Pahlavi writers, this work may be offered as a suitable appendix to the true Pahlavi texts, connecting them with

p. xxxvii

the Persian writings that are too modern to be accepted as authorities in religious matters.

The Sad Dar NaTHr, or prose Sad Dar, which is here translated, appears to be first mentioned in the introduction to the Sad Dar-i Bahr-i Tavîl 1, or long-metre Sad Dar, in which the versifier states that the prose Sad Dar was compiled by three celebrated high-priests, named Mêdyômâh, Vardast, and Siyâvakhsh, near the time of the Arab conquest of Persia. This, however, really means little more than that the prose Sad Dar was considered a very old work at the time when the long-metre Sad Dar was composed from it. It appears, from Dastûr Jâmâspji's preface to his Gugarâti translation of the long-metre Sad Dar, that this metrical version was composed in A.D. 1531 by Mullâ Rustam Isfendiyâr of Khurâsân and Mullâ Behzâd Rustam 2. It may, therefore, be concluded that the prose Sad Dar had the reputation of being a very old work in the early part of the sixteenth century.

Another version of the work, called the Sad Dar Nathm, or metrical Sad Dar, had already been composed in Kirmân by Îrân-shâh 3, son of Malik-shâh, as early as the 14th October, A.D. 1495. In his introduction he does not mention the source whence he drew his information, though he speaks of 'renovating the old mysteries,' but whether this phrase refers to the old prose Sad Dar, which he must undoubtedly have used, or to the original Pahlavi sources of that work, is uncertain. A Latin translation of this metrical Sad Dar was published by Hyde, in his History of the Religion of the Ancient Persians 4.

The contents of the Sad Dar are of a very miscellaneous character, and are not very systematically arranged. They treat of a great variety of duties and customs, but all from a strictly religious point of view, though the work is evidently

p. xxxviii

intended rather for the guidance of the laity than for the information of the priesthood. The almost total absence of any reference to government or national life, other than complete submission to priestly control, seems to indicate a period of subjection to men of another faith, too dangerous, or too odious, to be mentioned, unless it were to forbid all voluntary social intercourse with them, as in Chap. XXXVIII. The allusions to the existing scarcity of priests in Chap. LVIII, 12, and to a rigorous levying of poll-tax in Chap. LX, 7, might also give some clue to the period when the work was compiled, if we were better acquainted with the minute details of Parsi history. Where temporal penalties for crimes are prescribed (as in Chaps. IX, LXIV) they were, no doubt, such as were recognised by the government of the time; and, in such matters, change of government has altered the law. Some other customs have also probably changed to some extent, but by far the greater part of the rules and duties prescribed in this work are still in force, though they may not be always very strictly attended to.

Of the numerous quotations from the sacred books, which the Sad Dar contains, only a few can be identified, and nearly all of these are in the form of translations which are merely paraphrases of the original texts. Avesta passages are quoted from the Vendîdâd and Yasna in Chap. XIV, 3, and from an unknown section of the Hâdôkht Nask in XL, 4. The commentary of the Vendîdâd is six times quoted by name, but only four of the passages 1 have been identified; and an unknown passage is quoted from the commentary of the Hâdôkht in Chap. XXII, 3, 4, and three others 2 from the commentary of the Avesta. Four statements are said to be 'declared in the good religion,' but have not been identified; and out of thirty quotations from 'revelation' only five have been identified, of which those in Chaps. LXXII, 2, 3, LXXXII, 2 belong to the Vendîdâd, and those in IV, 3-11, XVI, 3, XVIII, 3 belong to the Spend Nask, which is no longer extant. The large

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proportion of quotations that cannot be now identified, or are no longer extant, is a strong argument in favour of the work being several centuries older than the oldest manuscripts in which it is now found.

The translation of the prose Sad Dar, published in this volume, is based upon the text of La, the oldest manuscript of the work with which the translator is acquainted. This is No. 3043 of the Persian manuscripts in the India Office Library in London, which was presented to the East India Company's Library, on the 31st August 1837, by Mr. J. Romer, who had brought it from India, most probably from Surat This manuscript is an octavo volume, containing 144 folios of light-brown Indian paper which may be as much as three centuries old. The volume was last bound and repaired some time subsequent to 1818, as several English foolscap fly-leaves bear that date as a water-mark. Its Persian text has the peculiarity of being written in Avesta characters, in short sentences alternating with an old Gugarâti translation in Devanâgarî characters which, for the sake of running in a continuous line with the reversely-written Avesta-Persian, is written upside down; each page containing generally thirteen lines. This Avesta-Persian is not Pâzand, either in verbal forms or syntactical arrangement, but its orthography is as irregular and uncertain as in most Pâzand texts written in Avesta characters. The text commences with a Sanskrit introduction, copied verbatim from that used by Nêryôsang as a preface to all his Pâzand-Sanskrit texts (see p. xx), with the clause containing the names altered as follows:—'This book, named Sad Dar, is brought together by me, the priest Rama, son of Kanhaksha, and translated from the Parsi language into the Gugar language, and written from the difficult Parsi letters with the Avesta letters by his son, the priest Padama.' And this preface is followed by the Pâzand invocation that commences the Persian introduction, as translated on p. 255; which introduction contains a passage (§ 6) probably interpolated in the prose Sad Dar after the composition of the metrical version.

The last chapter of the text in La is followed by two

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[paragraph continues] Persian couplets in Avesta characters, with their translation in Gugarâti; and, after a few more verses in Sanskrit, the colophon concludes with Sanskrit to the following effect:—'In the Samvat year 1631, the ninth day in the light half of the month Gyaishtha, on Wednesday, the Uttarâ [Ashâdhâ?] lunar mansion; in the Parsi Samvat year 944, the 27th day Âsmân, the sixth month Shahrîvar [18th May 1575] 1, the Uzayêirina period (the afternoon), the book Sad Dar is completely written by an inhabitant of Bhrigu-kakkh2. Brought together by the priest Râma, son of Kanhaksha, and written in the handwriting of the priest Padama, his son, the book Sad Dar is completed. Written, by another, for the purpose of reading and for the purpose of reciting by Hîrâka of the good religion, son of . . . 3 of the good religion, and also by Âdaraka of the good religion, son of Gâyâ of the good religion; may it become auspicious and beneficial!' Followed by 'may it be healthful! may it be excellent! so may it be! and more so may it be!' in Pâzand.

It is possible that this colophon may have been copied from an older manuscript, but there are certainly some reasons for supposing that La is the original manuscript completed in 1575. In the first place, the appearance of the paper, on which it is written, favours such a supposition, and enquiries, made in Bombay, have not succeeded in discovering the existence of any other copy of this recension. Again, there are a few defects and inconsistencies in the Gugarâti translation which are best explained by supposing that the translation was made at the time this manuscript was written. Thus, the greater part of Chap. LXXIII, after having been written on one side of a folio, is repeated by mistake on the other side of the same folio with several variations, most of which are alterations in the Gugarâti translation, as if the writer were making the translation

p. xli

at the time when he wrote it. Also, in Chap. LXXVII, a blank having been left for some illegible word in the Avesta-Persian text, a similar blank has been left in the Gugarâti translation, although it is hardly possible that any mere copyist would have found the same word illegible in both versions.

With regard to the source whence the Avesta-Persian text of La was derived, there can be little doubt that it was originally transliterated from a manuscript written in the Perso-Arabic character, as there are several blunders in La which can be best explained as owing to the mutual resemblance of certain letters in that character. Thus, the fact that the modern Persian letters b, n, t, y differ only in the number and position of certain dots, which are sometimes omitted or misplaced, accounts for such blunders as bâ and yâ for tâ, khâna for ‘hayah. While, owing to similar resemblances, the transliterator has written kustî for gêtî, muluk for balkih, guza for gôsh, and having been doubtful, in one place, whether to read rôz or zôr, he has written both words, one above the other.

Somewhat more recent than this Avesta-Persian manuscript is Lp, No. 2506 of the Persian manuscripts in the India Office Library in London, which was presented to the Library by Mr. J. Romer at the same time as La. This manuscript is a small octavo volume, in which the prose Sad Dar occupies the first forty-six folios of Indian paper, written generally fifteen lines to the page in the Perso-Arabic character. In its present state it contains no date, the last folio of the colophon being lost, but the paper is not much newer than that of La. The colophon is written in the Avesta character, and is to the following effect:—'This book is the book Sad Dar, a Nask of the religion of Zarathustra, the good religion of the Mazda-worshippers. These hundred questions of the proper and improper are extracted from this good religion of the Mazda-worshippers, and Îrân-shâh, son of Yazad-yâr, . . .;' the rest being lost.

Another important copy of the Persian text of the prose Sad Dar is contained in B29, a two-volume, quarto Rivâyat,

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[paragraph continues] No. 29 in the Bombay University Library. In this Rivâyat, or miscellany of traditional lore, the prose Sad Dar occupies fourteen folios (17-30) in the first volume, each page containing twenty-one closely-written lines. The Persian colophon at the end of the last chapter is to the following effect:—'This book of the prose Sad Dar is completed on the day Âstâd of the auspicious month Daî of the year 1048 of Yazdagard, the king of kings of happy Îrân, of the race of Sâsân. And the writer of the lines am I, the servant of the good religion of the Mazda-worshippers, the priestly-born priest Dârâb, son of the priest Hormazyâr, son of Qavâmu-d-dîn, son of Kaî-Qubâd, son of Hormazyâr 1 of the surname Sangânâ, of the family of the priest Nêryôsang Dhaval.' The date mentioned in this colophon corresponds to the 28th September 1679, new style.

A third copy of the Persian text is contained in J15, a small quarto volume, No. 15 in the library of Dastûr Jâmâspji Minochiharji in Bombay. In this volume the prose Sad Dar occupies the last thirty-six folios, and is written thirteen lines to the page, but is not dated. This manuscript has been consulted in only a few passages, and usually where the other copies differ considerably.

Regarding the variations in the text of these manuscripts it will be noticed, on reference to the foot-notes to the translation, that there is usually considerable agreement among the three Persian manuscripts (Lp, B29, J15 2) when they differ from the Avesta-Persian text of La. In a few cases the text of La is undoubtedly defective, and then Lp or B29 may perhaps supply the original reading which has come down to them through some collateral line of descent. But, in the great majority of instances, their variations (especially those of B29) seem to be intended either to make the text more intelligible, or to correct some statement that the copyist thought doubtful. That none of these three manuscripts is derived from La is proved by the fact that they all contain a passage (Chap. XIX, 4-6) which

p. xliii

the writer of La has omitted by mistake. There is, however, more agreement with La to be found in Lp than in the other two manuscripts.

The arrangement of the chapters in La is confused by the accidental combination of a portion of Chap. XLVIII with a portion of Chap. L, while Chap. XLIX, omitted in its proper place, has been subsequently added at the end of the work. In Lp Chap. XLIX follows Chap. LIII, and, Chaps. L and LV being omitted, the full number of a hundred chapters is obtained by repeating Chaps. XLIX and C at the end of the work. As this confusion in Lp occurs in the same portion of the work as that in La, though it differs somewhat in its details., and as it has been shown above that Lp cannot have been derived from La, it is reasonable to suppose that La and Lp were both derived from some older manuscript, in which some portion of the middle of the work had been omitted or lost, and that the writers of La and Lp adopted different modes of supplying the deficiency from other manuscripts. This confusion does not occur in B29 and J15, which two manuscripts agree in arranging the chapters as they are placed in this volume; they must, therefore, be derived from the original prose Sad Dar through some collateral line of descent, independent of the manuscript in which the confusion originated.

In the metrical Sad Dar nine of the later chapters are scattered about among the earlier ones, thus the 82nd chapter occurs next after the 16th, the 83rd after the 23rd, the 84th after the 24th, the 85th after the 27th, the 86th after the 57th, the 87th after the 58th, the 88th after the 70th, the 89th after the 72nd, and the 90th after the 73rd. And, besides this variation, a chapter about the advantage of daily ceremonies in honour of the guardian spirits follows the 65th chapter, a very long chapter about the season festivals is substituted for the 93rd chapter, and the 100th chapter is omitted.

So far as five of the scattered chapters (85-89) are concerned, the reason for their change of position was probably to bring them into closer connection with other chapters treating of similar subjects; but this explanation will not

p. xliv

apply to the remaining four chapters (82-84, 90). It might be argued that the more methodical arrangement of the five chapters (85-89) favours the supposition that the metrical Sad Dar may be older than the prose one, but, independent of the fact that this argument does not apply to the four other chapters, it is quite as reasonable to suppose that the later editor would endeavour to improve the arrangement of his text, and to remedy whatever he thought defective. The pre-existence of the prose Sad Dar may be fairly assumed on the positive evidence afforded by the statement of the long-metre Sad Dar, mentioned in p. xxxvii, in default of any clear statement by the author of the metrical Sad Dar as to the originality of his work.

Since the above was written, the translator has had an opportunity of examining a Persian text of the prose Sad Dar, written in Persia by Rustam Gustâsp Ardashîr, and completed on the 19th July 1706. In this manuscript, the introductory chapter is practically the same as in La, with a few variations. Thus, the invocation in § 1 is as follows:—'In the name of the sacred being, administering justice. The beginning of the book Sad Dar; may it be a good gift!' And § 6 runs as follows:—'On this occasion I, Bahman, a servant of the religion, am confirmed by the book of the môbad of môbads Îrân-shâh, son of Yazad-yâr, son of Tîstar-yâr, son of Âdar-bâd, so that every one who reads it and orders duty to be done brings a reward to the souls of those persons.' The arrangement of the chapters is the same as in the metrical Sad Dar 1, and the text differs from La in many more small details than in B29; it often inserts additional sentences, and is generally more diffuse, without giving more information to the reader. The Avesta of the passage quoted in Chapter XL, 4 is omitted, and only the first three words of that quoted in Chapter XIV, 3 are given. Notwithstanding their numerous variations, the resemblance of Bahman's text to that of La is too great

p. xlv

to permit the assumption that they are two different prose versions of Îrân-shâh's metrical Sad Dar. It seems more probable that Bahman merely collated the prose Sad Dar with the metrical version, and made many alterations in the former to bring it into closer correspondence with the latter. This manuscript, therefore, throws no fresh light upon the origin of the prose version in La, but, as it confirms the fact that the Îrân-shah whose name occurs in the introductory chapter was a son of Yazad-yâr, it raises a doubt whether this was the same person as the Îrân-shâh, son of Malik-shâh (or Mard-shah), who composed the metrical version.

In conclusion, it is desirable to notice that another Persian work exists, similar in form and character to the Sad Dar, but entirely distinct in its details, which is usually called the Sad Dar Bundahis. A complete copy of it is contained in Anquetil's Old Rivâyat in the National Library in Paris, and it is frequently quoted in the Bombay Rivâyat (B29) mentioned in p. xli. In this latter manuscript its name is written twenty-five times, eighteen times, and thrice. And the only plausible reading applicable to all these three forms is Sad Darband-i Hush (or Hûsh), 'the hundred door-bolts of the understanding,' a very possible name for a book. The Sad Dar Bundahis is, therefore, most probably a misnomer.


April, 1885.


xxxvii:1 See Sad-dare Behere Tavîl, translated into Gugarâti by Dastûr Jâmâspji Minochiharji Jâmâsp-Âsâ-nâ; 2nd edition; Bombay, 1881.

xxxvii:2 Possibly a son of the preceding Mullâ. In the preface to his second edition Dastûr Jâmâspji calls him Rustam Behzâd.

xxxvii:3 So stated in his introduction, but in his postscript (as printed by Hyde) he calls himself Mard-shah.

xxxvii:4 Historia religionis veterum Persarum (Oxon. 1700), p. 433.

xxxviii:1 Chaps. XII, 3-5, LXVII, 3-6, LXXI, 2, 3, LXXXVI, 2.

xxxviii:2 Chaps. XXVIII, 4, XCIV, 3, 4, XCVII, 3.

xl:1 As the manuscript was written in India, the calendar used would be the Rasmî one.

xl:2 The old name of Bhrôk.

xl:3 This name, with one or two epithets, has to be extracted from the corrupt Sanskrit compound gnâtîvyavyagihilûâ.

xlii:1 A variation of this pedigree has already been quoted in p. xxiv.

xlii:2 Allowing for the fact that this last has been only occasionally used.

xliv:1 As far as the long chapter about the season festivals (see p. xliii), but this is subdivided into six chapters (one for each festival) which conclude the work. The same arrangement also occurs in the Gugarâti translation of the long-metre Sad Dar.

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