Charles Reed Peers.

Universal classics library (Volume 6) online

. (page 5 of 37)
Online LibraryCharles Reed PeersUniversal classics library (Volume 6) → online text (page 5 of 37)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


act of shedding their blood proves them to have been for-
merly shedders of blood : it is not however allowed to put
them to death until they become hurtful : for example,
a young sparrow cannot, while in that state, commit an
injury; but, when able to fly, it injures the insects of the
earth ; and, although this happens to the insects by way of
retributive justice, yet their slayers become also deserving
of being slain, as in a former generation they have been
shedders of blood. For instance, a person has unwittingly
slain another, for which crime he has been thrown into
prison ; on which they summon one of the other prisoners
to behead the murderer, after which the judge commands
one of his officers to put the executioner to death, as, pre-
vious to this act, he had before shed blood unjustly. But
if a man slay a noxious animal, he is not to be put to
death, because that person taking into consideration the
noxious animal's oppression, has inflicted retribution on it :
but if a brave champion or any other be slain in fighting
with a noxious creature ; this was his merited retribution ;
and it is the same if an innoxious animal be slain in fight-
ing with a noxious creature : for example, in a past gene-
ration the ox was a man endued w^ith many brutal propen-
sities, who with violence and insolence forced people into
his service and imposed heavy burdens on them, until he
deprived some of them of life : therefore in this generation,
on account of his ruling propensities, he comes in the form
of an ox, that he may receive the retribution due to his for-
mer deeds, and in return for his having shed blood, should
be himself slain by a lion or some such creature. But man-
kind are not permitted to kill the harmless animals, and
these are not shedders of blood : and if such an act should
be inadvertently perpetrated by any individuals, destructive
animals are then appointed to retaliate on them, as we have
explained under the head of the ox.



42 THE DABISTAN

The best mode to be adopted by merciful men for putting
to death destructive creatures, such as fowls, sparrows, and
the like, is the following: let them open a vein, so that it
may die from the effusion of blood : there are many, pre-
cepts of this kind recorded in the yashen Sudah of the
Mobed Hoshydr: but philosophers, eminent doctors, and
durveshes who abandon the world, never commit such acts :
it is however indispensably necessary that a king, in the
course of government, should inflict on the evildoer the
retaliation due to his conduct. The ]SI6bed Hoshydr relates,
in the Sarud-i-Mastd>i, that in the time of Kaiomors and
Siamak, no animal of any kind was slain, as they were all
obedient to the commands of these princes. So that one of
the Farjiui, or miraculous powers possessed by the Yezdanian
chiefs of Iran, from Kaiomors to Jemshid, was their appoint-
ing a certain class of officers to watch over the animal
creation, so that they should not attack each other. For
instance, a lion was not permitted to destroy any animal,
and if he killed one in the chase, he met with due
punishment ; consequently no creature was slain or destroyed,
and carnage fell into such disuse among noxious ani-
mals, that they were all reckoned among the innoxious.
However, the skins of animals which had died a natural
death were taken off, and in the beginning used as cloth-
ing by Kaiomors and his subjects ; but they were latterly
satisfied with the leaves of trees. Those who embrace the
tenets of this holy race attribute this result to the miracu-
lous powers of these monarchs, and some profound thinkers
regard it as effected by a talisman ; while many skilled
in interpretation hold it to be an enigmatical mode of ex-
pression: thus, the animal creation submitting to govern-
ment implies, the justice of the sovereigns ; their vigilance
in extirpating corruption and evil, and producing good.
In short, when in the course of succession the Gilshaiy4n
crown came to Hushang, he enjoined the people to eat the
superabundant eggs of ducks, domestic fowls, and such like,
but not to such a degree that, through their partaking of
such food, the race of these creatures should become ex-
tinct. When the throne of sovereignty was adorned by
the presence of Tahmfaras, he said, *' It is lawful for car-



SCHOOL OF MANNERS 43

nivorous and noxious creatures to eat dead bodies : ** that
is, if a lion find a lifeless stag, or a sparrow a dead worm,
they may partake of them. In the same manner, when
Jemshid assumed the crown, he enacted: " If men of low
caste eat the flesh of animals which die a natural death,
they commit no sin.*^ The reason why people do not at
present eat of animals which died in the course of nature,
is, that their flesh engenders disease, as the animal died of
some distempter ; otherwise there is no sin attached to the
eating of it. When Jemshid departed to the mansions of
eternity, Z)e/i Ak, the Arab, slew and partook of all ani-
mals indifferently, whether destructive or harmless, so that
the detestable practice became general. When Faridun had
purged the earth from the pollution of Zohak's tyranny,
he saw that some creatures, hawks, lions, wolves, and
others of the destructive kind, gave themselves up to the
chase in violation of the original covenant : he therefore
enjoined the slaughter of these classes. After this, Jraj
permitted men of low caste, that is the mass of the people,
to partake of destructive creatures, such as domestic fowls
(which prey upon worms), also sparrows and such like,
in killing which no sin is incurred : but the holy
Yezdanians never polluted their mouths with flesh, or killed
savage animals for themselves, although they slew them for
others of the same class. For example, the hawk, lion,
and other rapacious animals of prey were kept in the houses
of the great, for the purpose of inflicting punishment on
other destructive animals, and not that men should par-
take of them : for eating flesh is not an innate quality
in men, as whenever they slay animals for food, feroc-
ity settles in their nature, and that aliment introduces
habits of rapacity : whereas the true meaning of putting
destructive animals to death is the extirpation of wicked-
ness. The Yezdanians also have certain viands, which peo-
ple at present confound with animals and flesh : for instance,
they give the name of barah, "lamb,'* to a dish composed
of the zinged, or egg-mushroom; gaur, or "onager'* is a
dish made out of cheese : with many others of the same
kind. Although they kill destructive animals in the chase,
they never eat of them ; and if in their houses they kill



44 THE DABISTAN

one destructive animal for the food of another, such as a
sparrow for a hawk, it is done by a man styled DazkMm,
or executioner, who is lower than a Milar, called in Hindi,
yuharah or "sweeper," and in modern language Halldl
Khur, or one to whom all food is lawful. But the dynasty
preceding Gilshah, from whom the Yezdanians derive their
tenets, aflforded no protection whatever to destructive ani-
mals, as they esteemed the protection of the oppressor most
reprehensible. In the time of the Gilsh^yAn princes, they
nourished hawks and such like, for the purpose of retali-
ating on destructive animals ; for example, they let loose
the hawk on the sparrow, which is the emblem of Ahriman;
and when the hawk grew old, they cut off his head and
killed him for his former evil deeds. The first race never
kept any destructive creatures, as they esteemed it criminal
to afford tliem protection ; and even their destruction never
took place in the abodes of righteous and holy persons.



Scientific Asceticism

Among the Sipaslyan sect were many exemplary and
pious personages, the performers of praiseworthy discipline:
with them, however, voluntary austerity implies ** religious
practices " or Saluk, and consists not in extreme suffering,
which they hold to be an evil, and a retribution inflicted
for previous wicked deeds. According to this sect, the
modes of walking in the paths of God are manifold : such
as seeking God ; the society of the wise ; retirement and
seclusion from the world; purity of conduct; universal
kindness ; benevolence ; reliance on God ; patience ; endur-
ance ; contentedness ; resignation ; and many such like qual-
ties — as thus recorded in the Sarud-i-AIustdn of the M6bcd
Hushyar. The Mnbcd Khodd Jd't^ in the " Cup of Kdi
Khusrd,^^ a commentary on the text of the poem of the
venerable Azar Kaivaju thus relates:" He who devotes himself
to walking in the path of God must be well-skilled in the
medical sciences, so that he may rectify whatever predominates
or exceeds in the bodily humors: in the next place, he must



SCHOOL OF MANNERS 45

banish from his mind all articles of faith, systems, opinions,
ceremonials, and be at peace with all: he is to seat him-
self in a small and dark cell, and gradually diminish
the quantity of his food.*^ The rules for the diminu-
tion of food are thus laid down in the Sharistan of the
holy doctor Ferzanah Bahrani^ the son of Farhdd : *^ From
his usual food, the pious recluse is every day to subtract
three direms, until he reduces it to ten direms weight : he
is to sit in perfect solitude, and give hiinself up to medi-
tation.* Many of this sect have brought themselves to one
direm weight of food: their principal devotional practice turn-
ing on these five points: namely, fasting, silence, waking, soli-
tude, and meditation on God. Their modes of invoking God
are manifold, but the one most generally adopted by them is that
of the Muk Zhuf : now^ in the Azanan or Pehlevi, Miik
signifies "four,'' and Zhrip *^ a blow''; this state of medi-
tation is also called Char Sang, ^^ the four weights," and
Char Kub, " the four blows." The next in importance is
the siyd zhiip, "the three weights" or "three blows." The
sitting postures among these devotees are numerous ; but
the more approved and choice are limited to eighty-four ;
out of these they have selected fourteen ; from the fourteen
they have taken five ; and out of the five two are chosen
by way of eminence : with respect to these positions, many
have been described by the Mdbud Sariish in the Zerd'Asht
Afshdr: of these two, the choice position is the following:
The devotee sits on his hams, cross-legged, passing the out-
side of the right foot over the left thigh, and that of the
left foot over the right thigh ; he then passes his hands be-
hind his back, and holds in his left hand the great toe of
the right foot, and in the right hand the great toe of the
left foot, fixing his eyes intently on the point of the nose :
this position they call Farnishin, "the splendid seat," but
by the Hindi Yogis it is named the Padma dsan or " Lo-
tus seat." If he then repeat the Zekr-i-Mukzhub, he either
lays hold of the great toes with his hands, or, if he prefer,
removes his feet off the thighs, seating himself in the or-
dinary position, which is quite sufficient — then with closed
eyes, the hands placed on the thighs, the armpits open, the
back erect, the head thrown forward, and fetching up from



46 THE DABISTAN

the naval with all his force the word Nist, he raises his
head up : next in reciting the word Iltsti, he inclines the
head toward the right breast ; on reciting the word Magar^
he holds the head erect ; after which he utters Tezdan,
bowing the head to the left breast, the seat of the heart.
The devotee makes no pause between the words thus re-
cited ; nay, if possible, he utters several formularies in one
breath, gradually increasing their number. The words of
the formulary [Nist hesti tnagar yezdan, ^* There is no
existence save God") are thus set forth: ^< Nothing ex-
ists but God**; or, ^* There is no God, but God**; or,
" There is no adoration except for what is adorable ; *^ or
this, " He to whom worship is due is pure and necessarily
existent; *^ or, *' He who is without equal, form, color, or
model. *^ It is permitted to use this formulary publicly,
but the inward meditation is most generally adopted by
priests and holy persons ; as the senses become disturbed
by exclamations and clamors, and the object of retirement
is to keep them collected. In the inward meditation, the
worshiper regards three objects as present : ** God, the
heart, and the spirit of his Teacher;** while he revolves
in his heart the purport of this formulary : ^* There is noth-
ing in existence but God.** But if he proceeds to the sup-
pression of breath, which is called the " knowledge of
Da77i and Sihnrad,*^ or the science of breath and imagina-
tion, he closes not the eyes, but directs them to the tip of
the nose, as we have before explained under the first mode
of sitting: this institute has also been recorded in the
Surud-i-Mastan , but the present does not include all the
minute details.*

♦These practices are evidentlj the same as those used among the
Hindu devotees. The chapter upon the Hindus, which follows, will
set forth the great conformity, nay, identity of Indian religions with
the tenets and customs here ascribed to Persian sects. In the Desutir
(English transl. Comment, pp. 66, 67) is a curious account of the
postures to be taken standing, or lying, or sitting, on the ground be-
fore anything that burns, and reciting the Ferz-zemiar, > to Yezd^n, or another to Shcsh-kdkh, that is to say, « to
the stars and to the fire which yield light."



SCHOOL OP MANNERS 47



Stopping the Breath

It is thus recorded in the Zerd-Asht Afshdr : the
worshiper having closed the right nostril, enumerates the
names of God from once to sixteen times, and while count-
ing draws his breath upward ; after which he repeats it
twenty-two times, and lets the breath escape out of the
right nostril, and while counting propels the breath aloft ;
thus passing from the six Kh4ns or stages to the seventh ;
until from the intensity of imagination he arrives to a state
in which he thinks that his soul and breath bound like the
jet of a fountain to the crown of the head ; they enumer-
ate the seven stages, or the seven degrees, in this order :
ist, the position of sitting; 2d, the hips; 3d, the navel ; 4th,
the pine-heart; 5th, the windpipe; 6th, the space between
the eyebrows ; and 7th, the crown of the head. As caus-
ing the breath to mount to the crown of the head is a
power peculiar to the most eminent persons ; so, whoever
can convey his breath and soul together to that part, be-
comes the vicegerent of God. According to another insti-
tute, the worshiper withdraws from all senseless pursuits,
sits down in retirement, giving up his heart to his original
world on high, and without moving the tongue, repeats in
his heart Yezdan ! Yezdan ! or God ! God ! which address
to the Lord may be made in any language, as Hindi, Ara-
bic, etc. Another rule is, the idea of the Instructor : the
worshiper imagines him to be present and is never sep-
arated from that thought, until he attains to such a degree,
that the image of his spiritual guide is never absent from
the mind's eye, and he then turns to contemplate his
heart: or he has a mirror before his sight, and beholds his
own form, until, from long practice, it is never more sep-
arated from the heart, to which he then directs himself :
or he sits down to contemplate his heart, and reflects on it
as being in continual movement. In all these cases he
regards the practices of the suppression of the breath as
profitable for the abstraction of thought : an object which
may also be effected without having recourse to it.



48 THE DABISTAN

Another rule is, what they call dzdd dtvd, or the ^^ free
voice ** ; in Hindi A'yiahid; and in Arabic Sdut Mutluk,
or "absolute sound,** Some of the followers of Mohammed
relate, that it is recorded in the traditions, that a revela-
tion came to the venerable prophet of Arabia resembling
«the tones of a bell,'* which means the « S4ut Mutluk » :
which Hafiz of Shiraz expresses thus : —




Online LibraryCharles Reed PeersUniversal classics library (Volume 6) → online text (page 5 of 37)