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Manichaean Scriptures

Parable of the "Pearl-borer"
A Manichaean text in Sogdian.

A merchant  had many precious gems. In order to have them bored, he hired a man for hundred pieces of gold per day, and he went with him to his domicile. When he (the hired man) sat down, a lute happened to be there, and the worker looked at it.

When the merchant asked him if he knew how to play the lute, he answered, "Yes, very well." For he was skilled in this art. He (the merchant) said, "Then take it."  He (the hired man) thus took it and played beautiful melodies in a correct manner for the merchant the whole day long, leaving the box with gems open and beating the time with his hand and swaying his head to it, with great joy.

In the evening, the worker said to him (the merchant), "Have my wages given to me." When the other said, "Have you done anything to earn wages?", he answered, "You hired me, and I did what you told me to do." Thus he urged him, until he received the hundred pieces of gold without any deduction, while the gems remained unbored. ... There was a quarrel, it could not be settled.

So on the next day they went before a judge for a trial.  The owner of the pearls spoke thus, "My lord, when this gentleman saw me beside the bazaar, he asked me, "Hey, what work can you do?"  I replied, "Sir, whatever work you may order me to do, I can do it all." When he had taken me to his house, he ordered me to play the lute. Until nightfall I played on the lute at the owner's bidding."

The judge pronounced this verdict, "You hired this man to do work for you, so why did you not order him to bore the pearls? Why did you bid him play on the lute instead? The man's wages will have to be paid in full. If again there should be any pearls to be bored, give him another hundred gold denares, and he shall then bore your pearls another day."

Thus under constraint, the owner of the pearls paid the hundred gold denares, his pearls remained unbored, left for another day, and he himself was filled with shame and contrition.

The wise give this allegorical explanation: That man who understood all arts and crafts represents the body ...  The pearl-borer is the body. The hundred denares represent a life of a hundred years. The owner of the pearls is the soul, and the boring of the pearls represents piety. (Kephalaion)

That one is  a righteous dndr (elect), who saves many people from Hell, and sets them on the way to Paradise. And now I command you, Hearers, that so long there is strength in your bodies, you should strive for the salvation of your souls. Keep my instructions and my words in mind, the Straight Path and the True Mold which I have shown to you, namely, the Sacred Religion. Strive through that Mold so that you will join me in eternal life.

Thereupon all the Hearers became very joyful and happy on account of the divine words and priceless instructions which they had heard from the Apostle, the Lord Mar Mani. They paid exquisite homage, and received ... 

And again the Apostle, the Lord Mar Mani spoke thus:

"The wise and soul-loving person (the auditor) should divide the day into three parts.  The first part should be devoted to service of the kings and lords so that they will be content, that their majesty not be infringed, and that they do not start quarreling and scheming. The second to the pursuit of worldly affairs, to tilling and sowing, to allotments and legacies, to buying and selling, so that the house be maintained, the wife and children not be in distress, and that kinsmen, friends,   and well wishers can be served ...

 


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