BŪDAG, a Middle Persian philosophical and legal term with specialized meanings. Formally it is a nominal derivative in -ak/g of the perfect participle of būdan “to become,” meaning “be/become (liable), becoming.”

The philosophical aspect. Būdag occurs in Mazdean theological and philosophical texts in the sense of “material becoming, genesis,” the counterpart of āfrīdag “spiritually/ideally created,” cf. Čīdag handarz ī pōryōtkēšān, par. 2: āfrīdag hom nē būdag “I am spiritually created, not materially fashioned.” In syncretistic Mazdean cosmogony, explicating the Aristotelian pro­cess of becoming and evolution of the material world, būdag is attested as a calque on Greek genesis. The Dēnkard has preserved two important philosophical passages in which Being (Mid. Pers. bawišn), identified with the generative principle of the material world, and its two ensuing Forms (Mid. Pers. dēsag), i.e., the elements (Mid. Pers. zahāgān) and the four complexions or humors (Mid. Pers. ristagān), are referred to as būdag: bawišn xwad hast tōhmagān tōhmag ī gētīg, bun būdag, ī az rah “Being in itself is the substratum par excellence of the material world, the primeval becom­ing, which (arose) from the firmament” (Dēnkard, ed. Madan, I, p. 207); tōhmag ī gētīg būdag ī az dādār āfurišn ud dahišn pad rah ōz ud abzārīh. u-š nām bawišn ud pad nāmčišt garm-xwēd, bun gētīg-dahišnān, mādag-iz dānīhēd. u-š dēsag ī fradom būdag ī pad dādār pay­mānkārīhā az bawišn, u-š dēnīg nām bawišn-rawišnīh, u-š (pad) nāmčišt čahār zahāgān ī hēnd wād, ātaxš, āb, gil, bun gētīgān čihr. ud dēsag ī didīgar būdag ī pad dādār frazānagkārīhā az bawišn-rawišnīh, u-š dēnīg nām bawišn-estišnīh, u-š pad nāmčišt čahār ristagān āmēzišn ī zīndagān “The substratum (lit. seed) of the material world is (the primal) becoming, which (arose) from the ideal and material creation of the creator through the power and by the instrumentality of the firmament; and its name in the Religion is Being. It is specifically the hot-moist, the primeval principle of material creations; it is also considered to be Matter. And the Form of its first becoming (arose) from Being through the creator’s moderating activity, whose name in the Religion is the movement of Being. It is specifically the four elements, which are Air, Fire, Water, and Earth, the origin of the essence of the material objects. And the Form of its second becoming (arose) from the movement of Being through the creator’s wise dispensation; its name in the Religion is the actualization of Being. It is specifically the four complexions (or humors) of the living (crea­tures)” (Dēnkard, ed. Madan, I, pp. 120-21).

The interpretation of these passages by Bailey (pp. 82f.), Zaehner (p. 142), de Menasce (1968, pp. 194­-96, and 1973, pp. 125, 201), and Shaki (1970, pp. 280-83) contain various misapprehensions notably in respect of būdag.

The legal aspect. In Western legal terminology būdag may be rendered by “liable, -at-law, obligated” in accordance with the legal status of the person concerned in reference to family guardianship (dūdag-sālārīh) and stūrīh (q.v.). The term implies “who has become liable” either by blood or by familial obligation or as a result of an antecedent contract for the assumption of guardian­ship or stūrīh. Juridically three categories of guardians and stūrs are distinguished by Sasanian law: būdag, kardag “designated” (i.e., by the deceased himself in his lifetime), and gumārdag “appointed” (i.e., by the mem­bers of the family, preferably from among the nearest agnates, in default of the first two categories). There­fore, in contrast to the other callings, a būdag person is liable for undertaking his responsibility automatically without a formal disposition. Each of these callings has its own specific legal and proprietary rights. Zoroas­trian law reckons the following as būdag guardians: a “legitimate” son (pus ī pādixšāyīhā), who has come of age (i.e., is fifteen years old), an associate brother (brād ī hambāy), an adopted son (pus ī padīriftag), and a designate stūr (stūr ī kardag; Mādayān, pt. 1, p. 26). Thus, a legitimate son as a direct and immediate progeny by right of successorship and an associate brother for his close agnatic relationship as well as his binding duty to administer the joint holding are guardians-at-law, and an adopted son and designate stūr become “liable” for family guardianship by virtue of their contracts concerning adoption and stūrīh.

Instances of būdag stūrs are given in the Dādestān ī dēnīg (chap. 57) as one’s legitimate wife (zan ī padīxšāyīhā and an ayōkēn daughter: stūr ī būdag ēdōn čeōn zan ī pādixšāyīhā ad duxt ī ayōk-hē kē pad xwad estišnīh stūr “A stūr-at-law is such as one’s legitimate wife or an ayōkēn daughter who is liable for stūrīh by her own status.” Since a pādixšāyīhā wife is also reckoned as an ayōkēn, the concept of būdagīh is tantamount to ayōkēnīh in several cases.

A būdag, unlike a gumārdag (appointed) guardian, may transfer the guardianship to a third party and the property settled on him passes into his absolute owner­ship and comes down to him by inheritance, whereas an appointed guardian has to hold in usufruct the capital (bun) from the profit of which he draws his stipend.

Following Pagliaro (p. 64) other authors, such as de Menasce (1964, p. 35) and Perikhanian (1973, glossary s.v., and 1970, p. 355), have rendered būdag by “natural,” which neither as a juridical term nor in its current usage expresses the legal import of the calling.



Texts: Čīdag handarz ī pōryōt­kēšān, ed. M. F. Kanga, Bombay, 1960.

Dādestān ī dēnīg, chap. 57, ms. K 35, ed. A. Christensen, in Codices Avestici et Pahlavici III, Copenhagen, 1934, p. 203.

Dârâb Hormazyâr’s Rivâyat, ed. M. R. Un­vala, Bombay, 1922, I, p. 175.

Mādayān ī hazār dādestān, pt. 1, ed. J. J. Modi, Mâdigân-i-hazâr Dât­istân (facs. of fols. 1-55), Bombay, 1901.

The Pahlavī Rivāyat of Āturfarnbag and Farnbag Srōš, chap. 27, ed. B. T. Anklesaria, Bombay, 1969, p. 18.

Riwāyat ī Ēmēd ī Ašawahištān, chap. 5, ed. B. T. Anklesaria, Rivâyat-ī Hêmît-î Asavahištân, Bombay, 1962, pp. 12-22.

Studies: H. W. Bailey, Zoroastrian Prob­lems in the Ninth-Century Books, Oxford, 1943.

J. de Menasce, Feux et fondations pieuses dans le droit sassanide, Paris, 1964.

Idem, “Un chapitre cosmogo­nique du Dēnkart,” in Pratidānam. Indian, Iranian and Indo-European Studies Presented to F. B. J. Kuiper, The Hague, 1968.

Idem, Le troisième livre du Dēnkart, Paris, 1973.

A. Pagliaro, “Note di lessicographia pahlavica,” RSO 23, 1948, p. 64.

A. Perikhanian, Sasanidskiĭ sudebnik (Mātakdān ī hazār dātastān), Yerevan, 1973.

Idem, “Some Pahlavi Legal Terms,” in W. B. Henning Memorial Volume, ed. M. Boyce and I. Gershevitch, London, 1970, pp. 349-57.

M. Shaki, “Some Basic Tenets of the Eclectic Meta­physics of the Dēnkart,” Archív Orientální 38, 1970, pp. 277-312.

Idem, “The Sasanian Matrimonial Re­lations,” Archív Orientální 39, 1971, pp. 322-45.

Idem, “A Few Philosophical and Cosmogonical Chapters of the Dēnkart,” Archív Orientální 41, 1973, pp. 133­-64.

R. C. Zaehner, Zurvan. A Zoroastrian Dilemma, Oxford, 1955.

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 بودگ budag bodag  

(Mansour Shaki)

Originally Published: December 15, 1989

Last Updated: December 15, 1989

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Vol. IV, Fasc. 5, pp. 489-490