Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/101

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RELIGIOUS BELIEF AS A BASIS OF MORALITY.

According to Herodotus (i, 136), the Persian king gave prizes to those of his subjects who had the greatest number of children. Vigorous procreation was one of the most effectual means of grace. It is stated in the Sad-dar that "to him who has no child, the Chinvad bridge (leading to paradise) shall be barred. The first question the angels who guard this narrow passage will ask him is whether he has left in this world a likeness of himself; if he answers in the-negative, they will leave him standing at the head of the bridge, full of sorrow and despair." In the same work that contains this piece of eschatology it is also written: "There are those who strive to pass a day without eating and who abstain from meat; we, too, have our strivings and abstainings, namely, from evil thoughts, and evil words, and evil deeds. Other religions prescribe fasting from bread; ours enjoins fasting from sin."

The Brahmans maintained that the man who died without a son went to perdition, because there was no one to pay him the traditional family worship; hence the necessity of adopting a son in case he had none of his own. The Levitical law, as we have already seen, compelled a man to take the wife of a deceased brother, who died childless, and raise up seed to him. In the Persian Rivâyats, or collections of traditions, similar matrimonial prescriptions are given. Thus, if a man over fifteen years of age dies childless and unmarried, his relations are to provide a maiden with a dowry and marry her to another man. Half of the children resulting from this union are to belong to the dead man and half of them to his proxy, the actual husband, and she herself is to be the dead man's wife in the next world. This kind of wife is called satar, "adopted." Again, if a widow, who has no children by her first husband, marries again, half of her children by the second husband are regarded as belonging to the first husband, and she also belongs to him in the future life; such a wife is called chakar, "serving." The first child of an only daughter belongs to her parents, if they have no sons, and they give her one third of their property in compensation. This kind of wife is called yukan, or "only child" wife. (Dr. E. W. West, Pahlavi Texts, in The Sacred Books of the East, vol. v, p. 143.) All these laws and customs show the vital importance attached to the possession of male offspring and to the preservation of an unbroken succession in the line of descent.

There are strong indications that the transition from pastoral to agricultural life in old Aryan society preceded the transformation of religious conceptions, and that the latter grew up gradually as a means of concentrating and more completely consolidating the former. In the second fargard of the Vendidâd a curious account is given of Yima, who lived before Zarathustra and is