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from memory, and mostly in the sacred Zend tongue. As that, however, has now been for about fifteen hundred years a dead language, it affords comparatively little edification to the unlearned hearer. The priests, at least, should be able to understand and interpret it; but this, we are assured, they very seldom are. An intelligent Parsee says of them :
“Very few of them understand their liturgical works, although able to recite, parrot-like, the chapters requiring to be repeated on occasions of religious ceremonies; for which services they receive the regulated fees, and from them mainly they derive a subsistence. ... Ignorant and unlearned as these priests are, they do not and cannot command the respect of the laity. The latter are more enlightened and educated than the former, and hence the position of the so-called spiritual guides has fallen into contempt. . . . The present dastoors or bishops among the Parsees are intelligent and well informed men, possessing a consider. able knowledge of their religion ; but the mass of the priesthood are profoundly ignorant of its first principles. ... It is, however, very gratifying to notice an attempt that is now being made to impart a healthy stimulus to the priesthood for the study of their religious books. In memory of the late lamented high priest of the Kudmi sect of the Parsees, an institution styled the “Mulla Firoz Mudrissa,' has been established under the superintendence of competent teachers. Here the study of Zend, Pehlvi, and Persian, is cultivated, and many of the sons of the present ignorant priests, it is confidently hoped, will occupy a higher position in the society of their countrymen than their parents now enjoy."?
The general name for priest among the Parsees of India is Mobed. The Destours, or doctors,-originally only another name for the same office, are now a superior rank selected for their learning and respectability. Above all is the primate or metropolitan, the Destouran Destour, known so early as the composition of the Vispered, as the Zarathustrôtema, the successor of Zarathustra.
Herodotus asserts that the Persians used no temples, but in this he was obviously mistaken. Darius Hystaspes claims to have restored the temples after the rebellion of Gomates the Magian. The places of worship called firetemples do not differ materially in their outward appearance from the dwelling houses of the country. They are built of wood, stone, or other ordinary materials. Taking one examined by Anquetil du Perron as a fair specimen, we will give such general idea of it as we can without a plan. It is an oblong quadrangle, standing north and south, having the entrance through a porch on the middle of the east side. A centre aisle leads westward, in which aisle the Parsees say their prayers. Immediately to the left of this entrance is an apartment in which the sacred fire is kept. The receptacle of the fire is a chafing dish or vase of
7 Parsees 277. The Sadder, Porta viii. enjoins upon the faithful the duty of paying tithes to the clergy, who at that time had attained an extraordinary power. 8 Herodot. i. 131. 9 Behistun Inscription.
copper or brass, usually set on a flat stone. The vase is filled level to the brim with ashes, on the surface of which a few sticks of wood are kept burning day and night. The tending of this fire is a very essential part of the service, and requires the care of two priests, for it is only in cases of necessity, and after undergoing purification, that a layman may enter this chapel to lay wood on the fire. Even the priest may not enter with shoes on, yet his bare feet would contaminate the earth ; so he adroitsy slips his shoes off and puts on sandals or slippers at the same instant at the door. A bell hangs at the side of the fire vase, which is rung at each of the five divisions of the day, when the fire is replenished. The principal other utensils are a pair of tongs, and a ladle for putting perfumes on the fire. The fire-wood is strictly required to be dry, and some part of it should be of an odoriferous kind; and although it has been carefully selected and stored, the priest is required to inspect each piece three times when he puts it on, lest any impurity should adhere to it. This he does with mittens on to prevent the possibility of his bare hands defiling the fuel. All the while he recites his appropriate prayers.
To the right of the aisle just mentioned is the chapel for reciting the liturgy. Here are a number of seats and stands for the use of the officiating priests, and a variety of articles of which the principal are,-a small chafing dish for fire ; the beresma, or barsom, already described, laid upon a stand bearing some resemblance to a towel rack; a mortar and pestle to bruise the haoma, a vessel with a perforated bottom to serve as a strainer, and a cup to collect the juice; a plate on which flowers and fruits are laid ; several wash-bowls of various sorts, and vessels used for purification. This apartment is without windows, should be at least ninety feet from any habitation, and must have the door so situated that no one can see the officiating priest within. Any Parsee, who is not unclean, may enter this chapel. There is still a large space in the west side of the edifice which does not seem to be appropriated to any special purpose, in which public meetings are sometimes held.10 To the west of the temple is an enclosure planted with a variety of trees, vines and flowers, and furnished with seats. This garden serves as a place of recreation, and as a place for the washings and ceremonies of purification.
The ordinary service may be called a sacrifice, with accompanying hymns and prayers. The sacrifice is a very simple one, consisting of a few cakes, like small crackers, on each one of which a little morsel of meat is laid. The priest recites appropriate portions of the Avesta, arranged for the purpose, and constituting the Vendidad Sade. The recitation is in a sing-song tone, like that of the Jews in their synagogues, and accompanied by a rude music on several instruments. Among the parts recited are the invocations mentioned above to all the good spirits and beings of the universe to be present and partake of the sacrifice. As they do not come, at least visibly, their non-appearance is deemed sufficient authority, and the priest eats the crackers himself. A precisely similar course is followed in respect to the drink offering, the parahoma. The only person usually present at the service at the present time is a functionary called a Raspi, whose duty is to make the proper responses and give assistance generally. There is little doubt that this is a gradual encroachment of the priesthood, and that originally the services were more public. As it is, the presence of the laity is not required ; and a liturgy is deemed just as efficacious though the person in whose behalf it is celebrated
miles away, or even be among the dead. A pious Parsee hires a priest to perform a number of services for him, just as a devout Catholic would bargain for so many masses. There are, of course, many services, ceremonies and prayers for particular occasions, but this is the general character of the ritual. There are prayers intended for universal use to which we shall refer hereafter. Nor is any one forbidden to keep a sacred fire in his house, which some few do. Yet no one can do this except those whose wealth and piety are equal to the support of two family chaplains to attend the firell
10 Parsees, 117.
There are three fire-temples in Bombay, each built by the liberality of a single individual. The first was erected in 1780, and the last in 1844 at a cost equal to about one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars. 12
Great care is required to guard fire from the contact of anything impure ; but as this is not always possible in the case of fires applied to the ordinary uses of life, some provision must be made for purification. The principal means for purifying a fire is to bring it to another fire. For this purpose, there is, or ought to be, in each village a public fire called Aderan, which is merely the plural form of Adar, fire. To this each domestic fire ought to be brought once every two or three days; that is, as we suppose, a burning brand is brought from each house, thrust for a few moments into the fire Aderan, and then carried back. In like manner there is in every province a metropolitan fire, Behram, to which each village fire is required to be taken every three months.13
Purification. Nothing will illustrate better than this the futility of attributing to Orientals our European and matter-of-fact sanitary ideas. If any indistinct notions about health or cleanliness were ever at the foundation of their multifarious rules respecting defilement and purification, unclean animals and articles, they soon fell into the background or were altogether lost sight of. The reason present to their mind had no foundation in fact, but was a mere fancy. In the religion of Zoroaster every possible thing belonged either to the good or the evil creation, between which two there was perpetual war. The contact of a creature of Ahriman was always more or less contaminating. The degree depended on the relative rank which the particular object held in the kingdom of darkness. The defilement emanating from some creatures was so slight that it required no particular attention. A wolf, for instance, was unclean, and its touch the cause of uncleanness in others; but, what seems strange to us, its dead body was not impure in the
The beast had now fallen in the great world's 11 Spiegel's Avesta Einleitung 11. Ixiv. 12 Parsees 258. 13 Spiegel's battle ; its death was a victory of good over evil ; and by some unaccountable necromancy, that purged away its peculiar uncleanness.14 Carrying out the same principle, it would seem that the corpse of an unbeliever was not in a religious sense impure. These objects might be offensive and require removal ; but the touch of them did not render necessary a solemn religious purification. On the other hand, the death of man, that is, of a good and true mazdayasna, or of any creature belonging to the good creation, was a victory of the Evil One; and that circumstance caused its contaminating character. But, as the Vendidad justly determines, there had to be some limit to this or the whole world would soon become defiled. So the ceremonial law took no notice of the death, unless it were of a dog or of a human being; but in that case the principle was logically followed out, and the resulting degree of impurity was directly proportioned to the importance of the animal or eminence of the man. The corpse of a magus disseminated a wider pollution than that of a peasant.15
Avesta ii. Einleitung lxx.
The remedy was as fanciful as the evil itself, and as little consistent with our ideas of cleanliness. The great purifying agents were wood-ashes and the urine of the cow. In some very grave cases that of the male animal was employed for its superior efficacy. The two elements were used together or the latter one separately. Their application was, of course, generally external; but there were cases, as when a woman had been delivered of a still-born child, where they were administered internally.!6 It will be readily seen that this course could have little in common with our ideas of cleansing. Its object was by these powerful sacred agents to drive away the deevs, which were the real cause of impurity. The more essential ceremonies are then followed by various rubbings with earth and washings with water. All the performances are accompanied by elaborate formalities and long prayers and recitations. Not only persons but also articles of clothing and domestic utensils' require purification. Thus if a garment, composed in whole or in part of the skins of animals, had come in contact with a dead body it required to be washed six times with“ one of the products of the cow," as Mr. Framjee
14 Vd. v. 114 to the 122. 15 Id. v. 83 and following. Spiegel's Avesta II. Enleitung xlii. and following. 16 Vd. v. 149.