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Volume 1

Human Behavior and Good Thinking


Sketches of Ahura Mazda
Selections from the Gathas
Editor's Note: An Overview

Human Behavior and Good Thinking


Dr. Stanley Insler
Yale University

At Yasna 31.11-12, Zarathushtra outlines in detail his view of human behavior.


He informs us in these verses that a person normally has desires and ideas,
and that when he is free and not under the domination of another's will, these
inclinations and notions are manifested in the words and actions of his
conduct. Further, we are told, that the expression of these individual
preferences are motivated by two forces. On the one hand, it is an individual's
heart that gives vent to his feelings; on the other hand, it is his mind that
governs his thoughts about matters. In short the prophet informs us that we
are driven by two parallel dynamics that shape our behavior in this world, and
he adds, with his typical insight, that we are motivated by these forces
regardless of whether we speak rightly or wrongly about our inclinations and
ideas, or whether we know better or not. One needs only to reflect upon the
widescale existence of hatred and prejudice in the world today to understand
how keenly Zarathushtra perceived the basic nature of human behavior.
This is the only occasion in the Songs that Zarathushtra speaks of human
conduct controlled by one's heart and mind in exactly this manner. But since I
believe that this notion is pivotal to the prophet's view of human psychology

and behavior in general, it is important to determine precisely what is intended


by these ideas. We need to understand how the heart and the mind function in
determining our behavior and we need to understand to what degree they
operate independently or in cooperation. Let us first try to comprehend what is
meant by the notion "to express oneself with one's heart".
Part of the answer is provided by Y 48.4, a verse whose content is similar to Y
31.11-12. In that stanza Zarathushtra states that when a person sets his mind
either on the good or on the bad, that person will follow his conception -- that
is, his thoughts and ideas -- both in actions and in words. This notion
corresponds to the often stated view of Zarathushtra, to which we shall return,
that our words and actions are constructed upon what we know about
ourselves and the world from personal reflection or from instruction from
others. Yet the prophet goes on to say in the verse that an individual's
pleasures, desires and preferences are also determined in a similar fashion.
Can it be that a person's thoughts can dominate his feelings and desires
completely in such a conscious manner, or is there another force, one that
corresponds to one's heart, that plays an equal and important role in shaping
human behavior?
The mention of true and false speech in Y 31.11 and of the good and the bad
in Y 48.4 naturally turns our attention to the benevolent and evil spirits, each
of which pervades the spheres of existence in opposing ways. Indeed in Y
45.2, where Zarathushtra quotes an imaginary conversation between these
two forces, he lets the benevolent spirit say to the evil one,
"Neither our thoughts nor teachings nor intentions, neither our
preferences nor words, neither our actions nor conceptions nor our
souls are in accord."
This verse repeats many of the concepts present in the previously discussed
passages, since the terms intentions, conceptions, preferences, thoughts,
words and actions are common to all three.
But the chief difference appearing in this last passage is that the set of these
ideas forms a characterization of the dominating spirits of the world. This
provides an important clue to what Zarathushtra intended when he stated in Y
31.12 that we express ourselves through our heart and our mind. Since our
thoughts clearly follow our mind, it must be that our spirit follows our heart. In
other words, a person's spirit-- or intrinsic feelings, if we employ a modern
term -- is as driving a force of human behavior as a person's mind. We speak
and act for two reasons, therefore. First, because the feelings, intuitions,

desires and instincts that define our spirit motivate us in this fashion. Secondly,
because the thoughts, ideas and knowledge in our mind, arising from what we
have been taught or have understood by ourselves, shape other patterns of
our behavior. Human conduct in its free state is thus governed in a twofold
manner. To employ contemporary usage, we may say that we are moved both
by instinct and by intellect.
The proper instincts that promote the world in a constructive way are united in
the concept called by Zarathushtra spenta mainyu "the benevolent spirit", and
this motivating force of behavior characterizes Ahura Mazda as well as it does
the truthful person who is a follower of the Wise Lord. Indeed, we are told in
the hymns that, once aroused to the realization by his benevolent spirit to
bring happiness to this world, Ahura Mazda created truth and good thinking (Y
31.7, Y 43.2). The Wise Lord then appeared to Zarathushtra with his
benevolent spirit (Y 43.6), because it is his nature to be beneficent to those
who exist (Y45.6). Why? Because Ahura Mazda did create the world by
reason of his spirit (Y 44.7, Y51.7), and it was his instinct to protect his
creation from violence and fury that moved the Lord to fashion and to reveal a
way of salvation to his prophet. To protect one's own is certainly a basic drive
in every living creature. Did not Zarathushtra recognize this in his continuous
calls to Ahura Mazda for help and protection that comes from the Lord's
benevolent spirit (Y28.1ff.)? Similarly, the prophet's statements about the
nourishment of the Lord's creatures with good thinking (Y 34.3, Y46.7), and
about the bonds between the benevolent man and Ahura Mazda (Y48.7)
equally reflect a deep perception of other intrinsic drives that unite the
members of a family or community. Why else is the benevolent person called
a father, brother and ally of the Wise Lord (Y 45.11), if not because
Zarathushtra recognized that god and his good creatures sustain one another
by feelings and instincts that are inherently active?
In mankind too, the effects of a benevolent spirit can be detected in many
ways. By the feeling that the world has been endangered by deception (Y
32.9), by the correct instinct that one should seek refuge with the Wise Lord
and promote in this world the principles which he created (Y31.21, Y43.16,
Y44.2, Y45.5). Although Zarathushtra is not always specific in detailing the
aspects of the workings of the benevolent spirit in man, it is clear from his
general use of the term that he intends what we might call the correct
inclinations, the proper feelings and instincts to do what is right to further, to
help and to protect mankind. It is much like a doctor who races to assist an
accident or heart-attack victim without thinking at all that he should do so. He
is moved to respond to the injured or afflicted out of an inner drive which

functions in a totally involuntary manner. This last comparison is particularly


apt since Zarathushtra calls himself a world-healer and an ally of the Wise
Lord in spirit (Y44.2).
The conscious or intellectual analogue in human behavior is called vohu
mano "good thinking" by Zarathushtra. It is the ability to comprehend and to
make judgments through reflection and understanding. Good thinking was
created by Ahura Mazda when he realized that some means was required to
bring happiness to this world (Y31.7). Hence the Wise Lord is the father of
good thinking (Y31.8, Y45.4) and the ally of good thinking (Y32.2). This good
thinking of Ahura Mazda is revealed to mankind through the precepts of the
Wise Lord (Y51.3). How then does good thinking affect human behavior?
Good thinking among the truthful makes them listen to the truth of God's
precepts (Y29.8, Y49.7). It motivates them to realize that Ahura Mazda is
benevolent (Y43.5ff.) and that he is the creator and source of truth and good
thinking (Y29.10). Consequently, a person who understands matters in this
way, chooses the right side in the battle for truth in the world (Y30.2-3), much
as Zarathushtra documents in Yasna 43 the results of his understanding that
arose and developed through good thinking. This understanding achieved
through good thinking also makes a person commit himself to the task of
destroying deceit in this world (Y51.11, 16). In short, good thinking results in
the determination to bring about the rule of Ahura Mazda here on earth (Y28.1,
Y48.3), for it is the only rule which fulfills the true intentions of life (Y32.9) by
destroying immorality and grief (Y34.7), fury and cruelty in this world (Y48.7).
In fact, all the destructive forces of deceit can be expelled by the exercise of
good thinking on the part of the truthful believers in Ahura Mazda (Y49.3).
Moreover, good thinking is the source of good actions (Y34.10) and good
words (Y53.2), and a means to fulfill God's will in this world (Y34.14). Indeed,
words and actions founded upon good thinking benefit the benevolent spirit of
Ahura Mazda and strengthen his paternity over truth (Y47.2). Consequently,
we are told to respond to Ahura Mazda and to ourselves with good thinking
(Y28.2, 5). The exercise of this salutary force will strengthen the Lord's rule on
earth (Y31.6, Y33.10) and help us to approach the truth (Y28.5). In this way
we become a companion of good thinking and thereby an ally of Ahura Mazda
(Y48.7). In this way we also achieve the very best which existence can offer: a
lifetime of good thinking (Y28.8). This is the highest goal because good
thinking, otherwise called the proper understanding, gives rise to good words
and good actions in the world. Hence it stands first in the virtues which
mankind must follow, and hence its heavenly counterpart stands next to the
throne of Ahura Mazda.

Let us now return to the question of the relationship between spenta


mainyu the benevolent spirit, and vohu mano, good thinking. From several
passages in the Gathas it can be seen that Zarathushtra considered the
existence of a benevolent spirit as prior to good thinking. With regard to Ahura
Mazda himself, the prophet informs us at Y43.2 that the Wise Lord created the
wondrous powers of good thinking through his benevolent spirit, and he
likewise states at Y31.21, with regard to mankind, that the Wise Lord "shall
grant the permanence of good thinking's alliance to the person who is his ally
in spirit and actions". Both these verses reveal that Zarathushtra considered
that the workings of the proper instincts and attitudes were the prerequisite for
all other forms of correct behavior. If we are not moved by our heart, by our
innermost feelings and drives, to respond to our world in a favorable way, then
there can be no hope, no way to build a better future. This explains why the
benevolent spirit of existence chose life, but the evil spirit death, when these
forces first confronted one another. (Y30.4).
But when the salutary workings of a benevolent spirit are present, whether in
god or in man, and one's better instincts are aroused to protect, to nourish, to
care for and ultimately to save those to whom we are bonded by nature, then
the realization also arises that there must be some means to bring this about
and to sustain it in an enduring way. This marks the birth of good thinking,
both in god as well as in man. It marks the beginning of the noble task of
promoting the world through actions that befit the truth, since the conscious
awareness produced by good thinking reveals that a choice stands before
every man, to reject deceit and its symptoms, to opt for the good way of life
created by the Wise Lord.
Although the stage of a benevolent spirit may precede the existence of good
thinking, nonetheless in the highest form of human behavior the two forces
must proceed hand in hand. Ahura Mazda came into the world with both, we
are told (Y43.6), and man should function as well with these two
complementary forms of behavior in this his own sphere of existence. Yasna
47 begins with the noble words,
"Through a benevolent spirit and the very best thinking, through both
the action and the word befitting truth, they shall grant completeness
and continuing life to Him."
It is not accidental that Zarathushtra couples the concepts of benevolent spirit
and the very best thinking in a single phrase. Both modes of behavior must
operate together to give full meaning to the life of god and, by consequence,
to the parallel life of man. Both forms of human behavior -- inner drives as well

as internalized understanding -- stir us to speak and to act in our world, with


both our heart and our mind in harmony, in a manner that dignifies the truth
and the inner meaning of life.
Stanley Insler, 1989.

Dr. Stanley Insler, Chairman of the Department of Linguistics at Yale University, 19781989, is a world-renowned Gathic scholar. His translation of the Gathas is widely
considered to be one of the most current and definitive works on the subject. He was
educated at Columbia, Yale, the University of Tubingen, and the University of Madras.
He has taught at Yale since 1963, where he presently holds the position of Salisbury
Professor of Sanskrit and Comparative Philology. He has lectured and published widely
on subjects dealing with the ancient languages and texts of India and Iran, including the
Gathas, and is a member of the American Oriental Society, the Royal Asiatic Society of
Great Britain, the German Oriental Society, and the French Oriental Society, among
others.

Sketches of Ahura Mazda.


(Quotations from the Gathas)
(Insler translation).

"... Him who is beneficent


through His virtuous spirit
to those who exist."
Y45.6.

"...Him, the One who offers solicitude...."


Y45.7.

"...Him, who left to our will (to choose between) the virtuous and the
unvirtuous...."
Y45.9.

"...the Lord, wise in His rule,..."


Y45.9.

"...Him, the Lord who is famed to be Wise in His soul."


Y45.10.

"...I realized Thee


to be (ever) young in mind
...the Father of good thinking,
the real Creator of truth, ..."
Y31.8.

"...Thou, whom no one is able to deceive."


Y43.6.

Selections from the Gathas.


(Insler translation).

"...let wisdom come in the company of truth across the earth!"


Y50.5.

"Wise One,
where are those sincere ones who,
through their possession of good thinking,

make even immoral decrees and painful legacies disappear?..."


Y34.7.

"......Through good thinking


the Creator of Existence
shall promote the true realization
of what is most healing
according to our wish."
Y50.11.
[This is the last line of the
Ahura Mazda Khodae prayer].

"Therefore may we be those


who shall heal this world! ....."
Y30.9.

"The Wise Lord ...shall give the permanence of good thinking's alliance
to him,
the one who is His ally
in spirit and actions."
Y31.21.

"...the loving man...for such a person,


virtuous through truth,
watching over the heritage for all,
is a world-healer and Thy ally in spirit, Wise One."
Y44.2.

Editor's Note: An Overview

The Gathas have been described as a "text bound by seven seals" whose
"riddles.....beg to be solved. 1 Zarathushtra lived more than 3,000 years ago, it
is generally believed. No writings from that period have come down to us, but
thanks to the priestly tradition of committing sacred texts to memory and
chanting them as part of the rituals of worship, we have today, seventeen
Songs -- the Gathas -- which most scholars believe were composed by
Zarathushtra himself, and contain his profound system of thought.
The Gathas are in the Gathic dialect of the Avestan language. We have no
dictionaries or grammars from Zarathushtra's day, and for many hundreds of
years, the Gathic language was incomprehensible. All knowledge of it had
died out.
It took a considerable amount of scholarly detective work to de-code this
ancient language -- a task which has occupied the energies and the ingenuity
of succeeding generations of scholars -- and today we have a reasonably
good understanding of it. But many puzzles and differences of opinion still
remain, both in translation and interpretation.
On one point, however, there is general agreement. These Songs advocate a
rational and benevolent way of life that is exquisitely in tune with our times.
The Gathas tell us that Zarathushtra lived in an age in which men worshipped
many gods, at least some of whom were fierce,2 and men endured the
oppression of priests and kings who were corrupt and cruel.3We learn that
Zarathushtra himself was on the receiving end of such oppression.4 Unable to
accept the cruel and the irrational, Zarathushtra, with a fine hand and a subtle
wit, introduced his own pantheon of Immortals5-- Good Thinking (Vohu
Mano), Truth and Right (Asha ), the Benevolent Spirit (Spenta Mainyu), Piety
or Service (Aramaiti), Completeness and Immortality
(Haurvatat/Ameretat). Zarathushtra used this framework to project his
innovative thoughts, and define his conception of God and Man and what it's
all about.
In An Introduction to the Gathas , we will explore these and other concepts
from the Gathas at a basic level in twelve publications, each containing one or
more essays by an independent teacher who will be free to express his
knowledge and understanding of the subject of his choice. The first essay, by
Dr. Stanley Insler, appears in this issue.

The opinions expressed by any one teacher may not reflect those of other
teachers (or the Editor), and there will doubtless be friendly disagreements.
But this diversity is not something we should fear. The use of reason and
intelligence to quest for truth is a hallmark of Zarathushtra's teaching.6 And
while certainty may be more comforting, the quest for truth is better served
when people are free to consider differing views, in a friendly forum, and
arrive at their own conclusions-- another Gathic truth.7Diversity of thought, so
long as it is based on informed judgment, and not on wild imaginings, can only
increase knowledge and perception, and lead us, slowly but surely, towards
the ultimate truth. I have therefore opted for diversity.
Each issue will also contain miscellaneous Selections from the Gathas, and a
column entitled Sketches of Ahura Mazda, demonstrating Zarathushtra's often
unique descriptions of God, quoted from the Gathas. Many of these
descriptions are simple ones, easily understood. Others are real puzzlers,
calculated to provoke your good thinking.
I hope these twelve lessons will engage your mind, refresh your spirit, and
add some Zarathushtrian zing to your lives.
Dina G. McIntyre,
The Editor.

Footnotes:
1.
2.
3.

4.

5.
6.

Insler, The Gathas of Zarathushtra, page 1.


"...ye are above all others, be they fierce gods or mortals." Yasna 34.5.
"During their regimes, the Karpans [a type of traditional priest] and the Kavis [princes] yoked us
with evil actions....." Yasna 46.11.
"...When, Wise One, shall men .....fear the folly of that intoxicating drink, through the effects of
which the Karpans as well as the evil rulers of the lands torture our (good) intentions in an evil
way?" Yasna 48.10.
"To what land to flee? Where shall I go to flee? They exclude me from my family and from my
clan. The community with which I have associated has not satisfied me, nor those who are the
deceitful rulers of the land. How, then, shall I satisfy Thee, Wise Lord?" Yasna 46.1.
"...I lament to Thee. Take notice of it, Lord, offering the support which a friend should grant to a
friend. Let me see the power of good thinking allied with truth!" Yasna 46.2.
Called Amesha Spenta in later Zoroastrian writings.
"...as long as I shall be able and be strong, so long shall I look in quest of truth.
Truth, shall I see thee, as I continue to acquire ... good thinking...?" Yasna 28.4-5.

7.

"...Reflect with a clear mind -- man by man for himself..." Yasna 30.2.

Volume 2

Asha (God's Will)


Asha (A Philosophical Analysis)
Sketches of Ahura Mazda
Selections from the Gathas
Editor's Note: Practitioner's View

Asha
(God's Will)
Prof. Farhang Mehr
Boston University

Asha denotes righteousness, justice, and the divine/natural law that


governs the universe. It entails progress toward self-realization and perfection
(Hurvatat).
Asha is a sublime attribute of Ahura Mazda, next to Vohu Mana in
hierarchy. Ahura Mazda, Vohu Mana and Asha are the Divine Triad.
Ahura Mazda conceived the universe in his mind (Vohu Mana), fashioned it in
his conscience (Daena), manifested it through his creativity (Spenta
Mainyo) and set it in motion in accordance with His Eternal Law (Asha).God
is Asha and Asha represents God's Will. The Gathas declare that Asha is of
one will with Ahura Mazda (Y28.8).

The existence of an eternal law and order is deeply rooted in Indo-Iranian


culture. In old Persian inscriptions it is called Arta. Its Vedic equivalent isRta.
Ahura Mazda entrusted his worthiest co-worker, Zarathushtra, with the eternal
law of Asha and missioned him to pass it on to mankind. Even before
revelation, Zarathushtra was acting according to Asha (Y29.8) so he can be
considered the embodiment of Asha in this world.

I. As righteousness, Asha constitutes the yardstick for determining


right and wrong (Y30.7, 31.5). It sets normative ethics. It provides the
standards that apply to all people at all times. It represents absolute values.
Relativism is contrary to the Gathic morality. The questions of egoism and
utilitarianism entertained in moral philosophy do not arise in Zoroastrianism.
The assumption is that right deeds produce benefits alike for the author of the
action and for society. The accruance of benefits to the author of the act is
automatic.
Zoroastrianism believes in a universal morality. Rightness of deeds are
grounded both in good mind (Vohu Mana) and in truth-cumjustice (Asha).Righteous deeds should be performed selflessly and with
Love (Armaity); for rightness of acts, mind and heart operate in unison.
"Such are, indeed, the Saviours of the Earth.
They follow Duty's call, the call of Love;
Mazda, they listen unto Vohu Mana;
They do what Asha bids, and Thy commands;
Surely, they are the Vanquishers of Hate."
(Gathas, Yasna 48.12, Taraporewala translation).

Thus in Zoroastrian metaethics, rightness and wrongness are determined


by Vohu Mana and Asha as the yardsticks. To simplify the matter,
Zarathushtra has formulated the often-quoted maxim: Good Thoughts, Good
Words, and Good Deeds. This maxim describes the principle ofAsha in action.

II. As Justice, the law of Asha ensures that happy consequences accrue
to good acts (Y44.19, 51.15, 53.6). An individual reaps what he or she sows.
Everybody receives his or her Mizhdem. Mizhdem means accrued
consequences. Reward and punishment, although freely used in translations

of the Gathas and in common parlance, are not appropriate substitutes


for Mizhdem. Ahura Mazda stands beyond revenge and punishment. He is,
exclusively, goodness. Mizhda or consequences denote the accrued fruitions
of one's acts, earned by performances (Y51.13): the best existence for the
righteous and the worst for the wicked.
Asha also guarantees the final victory of righteousness over falsehood that
evokes God's omnipotence.
Righteousness is the best of all that is good and is the radiant goal of life on
earth. One must live righteously, and for the sake of righteousness alone.
Worldly rewards should not be the motivation. Duty for the sake of duty
constitutes selfless service.
The realization process of good's triumph over evil is gradual and not abrupt.
A dutiful human being, as a co-worker of God, should spread righteousness
and eradicate falsehood for the advancement of the world and the progress of
man towards perfection.
In Zoroastrian tradition, truth is justice, and justice is in Asha.

III. As divine/natural law , Asha connotes the eternal, immutable law


that governs the universe. It regulates both the spiritual and the corporal
worlds. In Zoroastrianism, natural law and divine law are the same.
The law of Asha is as changeless as God himself; yet it regulates change in
the world and determines world dynamism. It organizes the gradual
refreshment/renovation (Fresho Kereti) of the world.
Asha represents the causative law -- the relation between an individual's
actions and their Mizhda. In Zoroastrianism, it is one's actions that determine
the direction of one's life and one's fortune. An individual is free to choose his
or her course of action and set Mizhda in motion. Thus, the consequences of
each action are pre-determined but the choice of action for man is not. Thus
the fate of man is not pre-ordained. Once the choice is made, the direction of
life is set. The consequences of an individual's acts -- thoughts, words and
deeds -- will follow in accordance with the law of Asha. This is God's will and
God's justice.

Nothing can change the operation of the law of Asha. No mediation is possible.
Nobody, not even the prophet, can intervene or mediate. (This is a point of
difference with Abrahamic religions). Each action generates its consequence.
There can be no addition or subtraction of the consequences. Repentance
cannot alter the course of justice either.
There are three main features of Asha. Although the Gathas state only the
principle, the later Avesta defines in detail the character of certain types of
behavior. Certain norms of conduct are highly recommended, and some acts
are strictly forbidden. Wrath (aeshma), violence (r
ma), falsehood(drauga), lie (druj), are evil acts. Honesty (Arsh
Manangha), fulfillment of promises (mitra), compassion (merezehdika) and
charity (rata) are acts of piety.
Conceptualization of the moral norms set out in the Gathas help to provide a
better understanding of the ethical contents of the law of Asha.

1. Liberty: Man's liberty is the most precious of God's bounties. It is the


natural right of every human being. Man's liberty is so sacrosanct that God
himself does not curtail man's freedom even with regard to man's choice of
religion.
"Hearken with your ears to these best counsels:
Gaze at the beams of fire and contemplate with your best judgment.
Let each person choose his creed, with that freedom of choice which
each must have at great events:
O ye, awake to these my announcements!"
(Gathas, Yasna 30.2, Dinshaw Irani translation.).

Few prophets have invited their audiences to weigh the tenets of the faith with
reason and good mind.
The right of liberty is also reflected in the Zoroastrian concept of the God-man
relationship. Unlike Islam, in which man is the abd (slave) of God, and unlike
Christianity in which man is God's child, in Zoroastrianism man is God's coworker. Hence, neither the owner's right, nor paternal authority can constrain

man's freedom of choice. The restraining forces are an individual's moral


convictions/conscience (Daena), and good mind (Vohu Mana).

2. Equality. The equality of males and females is unreservedly admitted.


In all his sermons, Zarathushtra addresses man (na) and
woman (nairi) separately and on equal footing. In a sermon addressed to his
daughter Pouru-chista, Zarathushtra teaches young men and women to
consult with their inner selves, with wisdom and love (armaity) before entering
the uniting bond of marriage. No discrimination is allowed. Human beings,
irrespective of sex, race or color are equal. Superiority of individuals to each
other relates to their righteousness. That is the only test for distinction.

3. Human Rights. In the words of Professor Hinnells:


"Zoroastrianism is the first religion that has taken a doctrinal and
political stand on the subject of human rights and has condemned
limitations or curtailment of those rights under any pretext."
Hinnells, Theory and Practice of Human Rights in Zoroastrianism (presented at the Fourth World
Zoroastrian Congress, Bombay, 1985).

Although the term "human rights" is of modern legal coinage, the concept of
human rights as a system of values and ideas is engrained in Zoroastrianism.
The Gathas condemn tyrannical and unjust rule and recommend to the faithful
not to submit to oppressive rulers.
Body (tanu) and soul (urvan) are inviolable, and their integrity should be
respected. Physical and mental assaults are repugnant acts. Nothing should
be done in contravention of this law.
"In full accord with law shall all men act,
The law that forms the basis of all life,
With strictest justice shall the Ratu judge,
Whether it be the true man or the false;
Against the false in him he shall with care
Weigh all the truth that with it has been misled."
(Gathas, Yasna 33.1 Taraporewala translation).

The concept of slavery is alien to Zarathushtra's teachings, and no caste


system or class privilege is recognized in the Gathas. The best evidence of
this is provided by Zarathushtra's prayer for Kavi Gushtasp, wherein he hopes
that some of the King's sons would go into agriculture, some into the military,
and some work for the religion. The class privileges that existed in the time of
the Sassanians were contrary to Zarathushtra's teachings.

4. Protection of the Environment, is an aspect ofAsha. The later


Avesta states that defilement of soil, water, air, and fire in any form or degree
is considered a trespass on nature and a transgression of the law of Asha.
This protective attitude originates in the Gathic treatment of life and the
material world. Matter and life are benefactions from God and as such are
adorable. This joy-producing world is being sustained by Ahura Mazda, and
as His co-workers, human beings are beholden to act wisely and gratefully in
preservation of the world. Zoroastrians acknowledge the importance of
keeping nature free from pollution. The natural elements are essential for
existence and progress. Human beings are acting as trustees for nature in
this world. Anybody who acts in breach of this trust, encroaches upon the law
of Asha and will encounter misery.

5. Active and constructive life. Idleness is a feature of evil. Divine


wisdom, righteousness and moral courage pertain to active life. The prophet
teaches his disciples to be active and constructive.
"O Wise Jamaspa Hvogva, I have taught
That action, not inaction, higher stands.
Obeying then His will, worship through deeds;
The Great Lord and Guardian of the Worlds,
Through His Eternal Law discriminates
Who are truly wise and who unwise."
(The Gathas, Yasna 46.17, Taraporewala translation).

Monasticism, celibacy, asceticism, and self-mortification have no place in


Zoroastrianism. The function of Ahu is to preserve life and vitality, to give man
an opportunity to enhance his or her moral apprehension. The aim of life is
happiness -- ushta. Life is the battlefield between Good and Evil, and human
beings should act as warriors of Good.

6. Progress and Modernity. Asha is the law of progress. It is an


organic law and capable of accommodating modernity without any change in
the essence of the law. The Gathic principles are general. For instance, it
guides man to respect the environment. In disposing of the dead, Zoroastrians
can use any method which is the least harmful to the environment, meeting
the exigencies of time and place.
The Gathas teach man to be mindful of his or her physical and mental health.
With acquired knowledge, advancements in health sciences and technology
one must make decisions as to one's diet, and the type of meat or drink one
consumes.
The Gathas recommend against submission to unjust and despotic rulers.
With the experiences and the knowledge acquired by social scientists, a
Zoroastrian should be able to decide on the best system of
government.Asha is the law of progress and is consistent with modernity.
Zoroastrians in diaspora will succeed if they consult good thinking, Vohu
Mana, and tread the path of Asha, as our ancestors did and our co-religionists
are doing in Iran, India and Pakistan.
Farhang Mehr, 1989.

Dr. Farhang Mehr is a Professor of International Relations at Boston


University. He received a Bachelor of Economics degree and a Doctorate in
Law from the Universities of Tehran and London respectively. He has taught
at Tehran and National Universities, and at the Military Academy in Iran, and
was President of the University of Shiraz for 8 years, served Iran under the
Shah as Vice-Prime Minister and Acting Finance Minister, and represented
Iran on OPEC's Board of Governors for 5 years. He served as the President of
the Zoroastrian Anjuman of Tehran for 12 years; was an officer of the First
and Third World Zoroastrian Congresses in Tehran, and Bombay respectively,
and was a founding member of the Ancient Iranian Culture Society. He has
lectured and published on subjects related to law, political economy and
Zoroastrianism. His book in Farsi, published in January 1990 is entitled
"Zoroastrian Philosophy: An old Wisdom in a New Perspective", and in
English called "The Zoroastrian Tradition, An Introduction to the Ancient
Wisdom of Zarathushtra", published by Element Press in 1991.

The Concept of Asha.


(A Philosophical Analysis)
Professor K. D. Irani
City College of New York

The concept of Asha is central to the philosophical theology of the Gathas. As


with some other philosophic concepts, Asha requires to be interpreted in
several dimensions. These multiple interpretations will be seen to constitute
conceptual links between the Natural World and the Moral World. It will show
the reason for the important Gathic distinction between the World of Mental, or
Ideal, or Spiritual existence (Mainyu or Menog) on the one hand, and the
World of Material or Physical existence (Gaetha orGetig) on the other. We
shall then see how Asha is related to the remaining five of the six Amesha
Spenta.
The Gathic term Asha is related to the term Rta in Vedic Sanskrit, and to the
term Arta in Old Persian. It has traditionally been given the meaning "Truth",
but equally often, "Right". Rta which is under the control of the divinity Varuna
in the Rig Veda has quite frequently been translated as "Order", i.e. the
underlying scheme of existence. In Iranian thought, Asha,and later Arta, was
also viewed as the principle of Justice. We have therefore at least four
meanings justifiably associated with Asha. The first is the most general
philosophical concept, Truth. The second is the cosmological implication of
the Order underlying the universe. The third and fourth belong to the moral
dimension -- Right as the most general term of moral correctness,
and Justice as the moral principle of the social system. We can now
formulate the philosophical theology, and locate the functions of the
interpretations therein.
The philosophical system makes a distinction between what Zarathushtra
calls the two worlds: the Ideal World (the Mainyu World), and the Material or
Physical World (the Gaetha World). I would prefer to characterize them as two
modes of existence -- existence as independent idea entities, and as material
entities. According to the reconstruction that I put before you, partly based
upon later theological explication, since the Gathic verses give us scant
information on the creation process, Ahura Mazda created the Ideal Existence.

This is conceptually perfect and altogether stable. But viewed as Reality, it


exists as perfect Possibility, not as Actuality. Ahura Mazda then created the
Material World which could evolve toward the Perfection already envisioned.
Within this material world, there are two spiritual vectors. They are interpreted
certainly as two mentalities (Mainyus in the Gathic), but sometimes also as
dynamic forces, or even agencies that were, particularly in the later literature,
endowed with personalities. These are the good and the bad. The good is
called Spenta Mainyu, the benevolent mentality. The evil, not so named in the
Gathas, is Angra-Mainyu. This term appears in post-Gathic Avesta, and
becomes Ahriman in the Pahlavi texts.1 The doctrine of the two spirits appears
in Yasna 30 (i.e. Ahunavaiti 3) verses 3, 4, and 5, with a reference to their
followers in verse 6. Another reference to the two appears in Yasna 45 (i.e.
Ushtavaiti 3) verse 2, where the personality interpretation is persuasive.
The conflict of the two spirits must be apprehended in terms of Asha. In the
Material World, the good spirit is good precisely because it promotes Asha,
that is, brings the world toward the state of ideal perfection. The evil spirit is
evil precisely because it attempts to frustrate the progressive realization
of Asha.
It is in this aspect of Gathic theology that we can see why Asha is interpreted
as Truth. It is the true picture of the form of Ideal existence, and also the ideal
toward which the conflicted world evolves. It is the ideal truth underlying all
existence. In this same framework we can see howAsha is interpreted as
Right. That action is right which is in accordance with Asha, which furthers the
realization of Asha.
This is the doctrine of Natural Law in one of its very early appearances. It is
the Cosmic Principle which makes the cosmos what it is, and at the same time
provides the basis for moral life and moral judgment. In that sense the ethics
of Zarathushtra is founded on a natural law theory of apprehending and
applying Asha, and not a prescriptivist theory which gives a set of moral rules
to obey.
To the extent that the physical world is comprehensible and harmonious, it is
in accordance with Asha. This is why Asha is interpreted as Order. This is
what we come to understand progressively in the advance of scientific
knowledge. For the comprehension of this process we must now refer to the
faculty of understanding -- that is, the Good-Mind (Vohu Mana).

The Good Mind is a divine attribute which is possessed by human beings. In


contemporary language, we might say that it is the rational capacity to grasp
both facts and ideals: to understand, to discriminate, and to judge. The mind
in understanding nature grasps its laws, that is, the Order(Asha) underlying
the facts of experience. The mind through its power to discriminate can
recognize when Asha has been violated because it can grasp Asha in the
abstract. That Asha can be grasped by the Good-Mind is indicated in Yasna
28 (Ahunavaiti 2) verse 6. Then the mind can judge what is true, i.e. in
accordance with Asha, and promote it, thereby dispelling evil which is called
Falsehood, the opposite of Asha. It is the Good-Mind which enables us to be
moral and vanquish Falsehood, "to deliver Falsehood into the hands of Truth"
as put poetically in Yasna 30 (Ahunavaiti 3) verse 8. Moral responsibility
demands individual reflection (including consideration of the implications of
one's intended actions), and discriminating judgment, all operations of the
Good-Mind.
In performance of action, discrimination between right and wrong is not
entirely enough. Gathic theology introduces the concept of the Good-Will,
more accurately put as the Spirit of Benevolence, it is called Spenta-Armaiti. It
is a divine attribute which, with varying degrees of zeal, inclines humans
toward doing good, that is actualizing Asha. Spenta-Armaiti has two aspects.
One is what we have just seen, benevolence, good-will, or even kindness.
The other is the inner consciousness of being required to do the right, an
aspect which is usually articulated by the word Piety. Both these conceptions
have their content in Asha. This close connection finds expression in the
following sections of the Gathas; Yasna 32 (Ahunavaiti 5) verse 2, Yasna 43
(Ushtavaiti 1) verse 1 and 10, Yasna 46 (Ushtavaiti 4) verse 16, Yasna 49
(Spenta Mainyu 3) verse 2.
The opposite of Asha is Druj which is not just translated as Falsehood, but
also as Deceit, the activity of perpetrating Falsehood. The deceivers
violate Asha, which in the social context is a disturbance of the principle of just
recompense, and thus generate disharmony and conflict. It is in this context
that Asha is interpreted as Justice. The Ideal social structure where Asha, in
its interpretation as Justice, prevails is the worthy or holy society. In Gathic it
is Khshathra-Vairya, which may be interpreted as Ideal Dominion.
The individual whose life is inspired by the realization and the will to live
according to Asha is not only morally vindicated, but is free of malice and free
of regret, thereby reaching a state of justified contentment and well-being.
This state is Haurvatat, well-being, or in its exalted form, perfection. As

individuals live this form of life, a good society approaches the ideal state with
progressively reduced coercion.
The immortal soul of the individual who has realized Asha in thought, word,
and in deed is viewed as reaching a state of eternal bliss, Yasna 46
(Ushtavaiti 4) verse 10. The Gathic term for this is Ameretat. This state is
sometimes called the state of Best Consciousness.
The relationship of Asha to the other five significant concepts, Vohu-Mana,
Spenta-Armaiti, Khshathra-Vairya, Haurvatat, and Ameretat is a pivotal aspect
of the philosophical theology of the Gathas.
Kaikhosrov D. Irani, 1989.

Professor Kaikhosrov Irani teaches philosophy at the City College of New


York. where he is a Professor Emeritus and past Chairman of the Department
of Philosophy. He is Director of the Academy of Sciences and Humanities of
the City University of New York, and a member of the Academy of Science in
New York, the American Philosophical Association, the Philosophy of Science
Association, and the American Academy of Religion. He has lectured in his
field at such institutes of higher learning as UCLA, the Universities of Michigan,
London, Goetingen, Vienna, Sweden, Finland, and Rome. He is a popular
lecturer at national and international conferences on the subject of
Zoroastrianism. He has studied the Gathas on his own for many years, and
relies primarily on the translations of Humbach, Insler, Mills, Bartholomae,
Taraporewala, and that of his father the late, great, Dinshaw Irani.

Footnote
1. It must be noted that Mainyus as persons do not appear in the
Material(Getig) World.

Sketches of Ahura Mazda.

(Quotations from the Gathas)


(Insler translation).

"...the truthful Lord,


virtuous in his actions..."
Y46.9.

"The Wise Lord,


who is of the same temperament
with truth,..."
Y29.7.

"...the paths, straight in accord with truth,


wherein the Wise Lord dwells."
Y33.5.

"... He who is...the good companion


of sun-like truth..."
Y32.2.

"...the Wise Lord who, together with His clever advisor, truth,
has judged the just and the unjust."
Y46.17.

"...He is virtuous to the needy ..."


Y29.7.

"...He shall be here for the protection of these (faithful)..."


Y30.7.

"Yes, Wise One, (grant) to me


Thy proper support
which a...man...should give
to his friend...."
Y43.14.

"...I shall declare to you in verse...


the glories of Him
who offers solicitude (to us)..."
Y46.17

"...the Wondrous One..."


Y32.16.

Selections from the Gathas.


(Insler translation).

"...Someone like Thee, Wise One, should declare to me, His friend,...
how friendly associations with truth
are to be established by us,
in order that it shall come to us
together with good thinking."
Y44.1.

"...I therefore wish


enduring strength to come,
in order to uphold the truth..."
Y43.1.

"Therefore do Thou reveal to me


the truth,
which I continue to summon..."
Y43.10.

"...as long as I shall be able and ... strong,


so long shall I look in quest of truth.
Truth, shall I see thee, as I continue to acquire both good thinking
and the way to the Lord?"
(Y28.4-5).

"...the best...
namely, the truth for the truth,
and the rule of good thinking..."
Y46.10.

"...How might I deliver


deceit into the hands of truth,
in order to destroy it
in accord with...Thy teaching?"
Y44.14.

"...Let us reverently give an offering


to Thee Lord, and to truth,
all of us creatures
under Thy rule
whom one has nourished
with good thinking."
Y34.3.

Editor's Note:
A Practitioner's View

Dr. Mehr defines Asha as righteousness, justice, and the divine/natural law.
Dr. Irani defines it as Truth, Order, Right and Justice. Dr. Insler defines it as
truth.1
"How", you might ask, "can one word mean so many different things."
A simple answer is that Zarathushtra did not think in English, Farsi or Gujerati.
He thought, and composed his Songs, in the Gathic dialect. And a translator's
dilemma is born of the fact that there often is not one word in a given
language that corresponds exactly with one word in the other language.
Imagine, if you would, an extra-terrestrial student exchange program between
Alpha Centauri and Earth. The ET teenager negotiating the sights of
Washington DC, and anxious to improve his halting English, points to a Chevy.
"What's that?" "That's a Chevy sedan" you explain. A few seconds later, he
points to an Olds Sierra and exclaims with satisfaction, "A Chevy sedan!" "No,
that's an Olds Sierra." Taking pity on his nonplussed expression, you explain,
"Both those things are automobiles, they both have wheels, a metallic body,
and are used for transportation. But they are made by different manufacturers
and have some design differences (or so they say), and so one is called a
Chevy Sedan and the other is called an Olds Sierra." Stifling an impulse to
say, "Very strange, these earthlings," the ET teenager nods politely, then
points to a truck, "An automobile" he says. "No, that's a truck," you reply. "But
it has wheels, a metallic body, and is used for transportation" he protests.
"Very true, but we call that a truck, because......" And so it goes. I think you
can see the difficulty of capturing concepts in words.
Returning to Asha, it helps if we remember that Zarathushtra sees reality in
terms of the material and the abstract the worlds of mind and matter, as he
calls them. Asha, or what "fits" in the material world is what is factually correct,
truth the natural laws that order the universe. What "fits" in the abstract
world, is also what is correct, what is right truth, justice, goodness,
benevolence.
There is no one word in English that comprehends the scope of Asha as
Zarathushtra uses that word. If one word must be chosen to define Asha,

Iprefer "truth", because "right" has become shopworn and associated with
much arrogance, hypocrisy and grief in the course of human events. It implies
a subjective standard, whereas "truth", by definition, is objective.
I find it interesting to reflect that in Zarathushtra's system of thought, what is
factually true or accurate and what is spiritually true or right, are two sides of
the same coin, so much so that they are designated by one word -- Asha. This
is significant because it means that if we are true to the concept of Asha, our
spiritual beliefs cannot be out of step with the knowledge which we continue to
acquire regarding our physical universe. In short, superstition can have no
place in Zarathushtra's system of thought.
Of course, not everything unknown or mysterious should be branded
"superstition". One need only consider the classic example of the lunar eclipse
in adventure stories to appreciate that the superstition of today may well be
the knowledge of tomorrow.
In the world of matter, what's right or accurate can be ascertained through
systematic inquiry and objective tests. But how do we know what's "right" at
the spiritual or abstract level. We all know that what is "right" in one culture
may be considered very "wrong" in another. How do we eliminate the
subjective. How do we ascertain the truth.
Zarathushtra's answer to this question is as simple as it is profound -- we do
so through an on-going process of discovery, by using reason and intelligence;
or, stated another way, by the use of good thinking.
Many years ago, there was a popular radio show in the United States called
Amos and Andy. And on one occasion, one of them wanted to know of the
other how it was that the other had such good judgment. "Experience" the
other responded. "But where did you get all this experience from?" the one
wanted to know. "From bad judgment," he replied.
In law school we are taught, ad nauseum, that "The life of the law is
experience." I think the same may be said of the quest for truth/right. As Mr.
Justice Holmes of the United States Supreme Court once said, the best test of
truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the
marketplace of ideas.2
In short, it is a unique and exciting aspect of Zarathushtra's teachings in the
Gathas, that he does not give us fact-specific rules regarding what is true or
right in either the worlds of mind or matter. Instead, he requires us to quest for

truth/right with good thinking, in both spheres, and does not exempt himself
from the quest, but, as usual, shows the way by example. In Ahunavaiti Gatha,
he states:
"...as long as I shall be able and be strong, so long shall I look in quest
of truth.
Truth, shall I see thee, as I continue to acquire both good thinking and
the way to the Lord?..." (Y28.4-5).
In Ushtavaiti Gatha, he demonstrates a hunger for knowledge in the world of
matter.
"Which man did fix the course of the sun and of the stars? Through
whom does the moon wax (now) wane later? These things indeed and
others I wish to know, Wise One." (Y44.3)
"Which craftsman created the luminous bodies and the dark spaces?
Which craftsman created both sleep and activity? Through whom does
dawn exist, along with midday and evening...?" (Y44.5).
In short, Asha (truth/right) and Vohu Mano (good thinking) as components of
Zarathushtra's system of living, are not obsolete ideas embalmed in the
perceptions of several thousand years BC.
The quest for truth applies to us today -- spiritual truth, scientific truth,
philosophical truth, social truth, truth in all its various aspects, in the worlds of
mind and matter. The quest for truth is an on-going Zarathushtrian
commitment -- truth for truth's own sake.3
So let us use our minds to ascertain and give effect to what is true and right in
our own time frame, confident that in so doing, we will achieve the highest
good and find inner happiness, in the worlds of mind as well as of matter.4
Dina G. McIntyre,
The Editor.

Footnotes:
1.

To help blow some sunlight into this linguistic fog, I asked Professor Insler if he would please
explain the linguistic bases of these words. He was kind enough to respond as follows.

(Regrettably the appropriate fonts are not available to accurately script Professor Insler's text).
"The notion of "honesty, righteousness" is expressed in the Songs as arezva at Y33.1, where it
contrasts with mithahya "falsity, dishonesty". In later Avesta the term for "righteousness"
is arstat. The Avestan word for "justice" is rasnu. It doesn't appear in the Songs but is common in
the other parts of the Avesta. In the language there is an important set of related terms, all of
which ultimately derive from a rootraz "be straight, honest":
erezu "straight" originally, then "true, right, honest" (like a straight line or to speak straight etc).
arezva "honesty, righteousness"
arstat "honesty, righteousness"
rasnu "justice".
The word asa, whose older form was arta, derives from a root ar "to fit". It originally meant "what
fits or what's ordered", hence "truth" in the sense of "what's fitting" and also "what's ordered" in a
system.

2.

3.
4.

To the same root belongs ratu "judge" and "judgment", obviously derived from the notion that the
judge fits the punishment to the crime (then secondarily the reward for the action), and that the
judgment is the fitting action for the violation."
"[We]...believe...that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas -- that the
best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market,
and that truth is the only ground upon which [our]... wishes safely can be carried out. That at any
rate is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment." dissenting
opinion of Mr. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes of the United States Supreme Court, in Abrams v.
United States, 250 U.S. 616, 630 (1919).
"...those things which Thou dost know to be the best for existence, namely, the truth for the truth
and the rule of good thinking...." Y46.10.
"I who shall serve all of you, Wise Lord, with good thinking, to me are to be granted the
attainments of both existences -- yes, of matter as well as of mind -- those attainments befitting
truth through which one might set Thy supporters in happiness." (Y28.2).

Volume 3

Spenta Mainyu
Sketches of Ahura Mazda
Selections from the Gathas
Editor's Note: Some Evidence.

Spenta Mainyu
Dr. Ali A. Jafarey

Enter Spenta Mainyu.


As long as the simple Zoroastrian believed in God, Hormazd, and his
adversary the evil one, Ahriman, things went without spenta mainyu. The
more learned said that it was an appellation of Hormazd. And long before
them, in the good old days of the Vendidad, Ahura Mazda, the most spenta
mainyu, had anghra mainyu as his opponent. According to the Zurvanites,
who were perhaps as old as the Achaemenians in the 6th century BC, and as
young as the authors of Bundahishn and Vichitakiha-i Zatsparam in the 9th
century AD, good and evil were twins begotten by Zurvan Akarna,Boundless
Time. So the simple Zoroastrian was, more or less, following tradition.
But with the advent of Zoroastrian studies, led and encouraged by western
scholars, a change set in. Studies of the Gathas and the later Avesta revealed
that spenta mainyu was referred to as an entity. And since then, almost all
Zoroastrians and those who are well acquainted with the Zarathushtrian
religion know the term spenta mainyu. Because the Gathas and the later
Avesta were translated into English and other European languages mostly by
Christian scholars who had the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit in mind, the term has
conventionally come to mean the Holy Spirit. The general notion about it is
that it has an adversary, Anghra Mainyu, the evil spirit. The two are locked in
a pitched life-and-death combat. The victory, of course, will go to the Holy
Spirit.

Meaning?
Spenta is derived by many philologists from an Avestan/Sanskrit
rootspi/svi, meaning "to expand, swell, increase." Many, therefore, render it as
"incremental." The Pahlavi rendering of afzunik, meaning "increasing," fully
supports the translation. This is further strengthened by the later

renderings mahattama (greatest), gurutama (most important), and


particularly, vriddhi
(increasing) in Sanskrit, and afzuni in Persian. There are other scholars who
prefer to derive it from spit/svit, to be bright, to be white, and connect it with
holiness. The renderings by most of these scholars range between beneficent,
bounteous, bountiful, incremental, holy and virtuous. Each scholar has
reasons for his/her rendering. While scholars have reason to differ, the
familiar and convenient "holy" has been taken for granted to be the meaning
so much so that fundamental Iranians, in their drive to purge Persian of all
Arabic words, have replaced moghaddas with sepanta!"Holy" is in vogue, both
with scholars and the laity.
I accept the traditional meaning on philological and contextual grounds. I
render it as "progressive, promoting, promoter." As we shall see, it reflects the
Gathic spirit better. The Gathas emphatically advocate progress and
advancement.
Mainyu is, as far as I know, derived by every scholar from man, meaning "to
think, contemplate, meditate." Although many know that yu is an agentive and
instrumental suffix, none has bothered to translate it as "an instrument, a way,
a mode of thinking," and therefore "mind, mentality." A few instances in the
Gathas show that mainyu and manah are interchangeable (Y33.6, Y34.2).
Pahlavi and Persian do not help much because they have the same word
as menok and minu except for a few times when menishn, thinking, has been
used. But one can say that they did see its connection with "mind" and
"mental." Sanskrit renderings ofadrsyah, paralokih, even manasah (mental),
and other synonyms point towards an "invisible, outer" entity. Whatever the
earlier renderings, the scholars have taken the by-now-popular translation of
"spirit" as quite suitable to their interpretation of a perpetual war between the
so-called twin spirits. It suits them better. A departure may well topple the
dramatic dualistic theory.
Many present Ahura Mazda as Spenta Mainyu and therefore elevateAnhra
Mainyu to make him an adversary of the God of Good, and thus continue to
write on the continuous fight between the two. As a result, Zoroastrians have
been characterized by many as the people who believe in dualism.
As already pointed out, there was a time when the Zoroastrians believed in
this dualistic "theology". The Vendidad tells us this and so do the writings
written by and/or ascribed to the Sassanians and to those who followed them.
New light on the Gathas and the later Avesta has changed views among

intellectuals. But we see again a recession, because with the coming into
prominence of a new class of Zoroastrian scholars with their academic roots
in the dualistic scholarship of the later Avesta, the theory of the dualism
of Ahura Mazda and His adversary is making a reappearance in certain
quarters.

Gathic Picture.
The Gathas provide us with an entirely different picture: The term "spenta
mainyu" has been used fifteen times in the Gathas (Y28.1, Y33.12, Y43.2, 3, 6,
16, Y44.7, Y45.6, Y47.1-6, Y51.7) and twice in Haptanhaiti, (Y36.1-2), a later
text composed in the Gathic dialect by someone other than Zarathushtra. In
these writings, there is no trace of any adversary of God, or any struggle,
combat, battle, or war between the so-called good and evil forces at the divine
level. The Gathas do not mention anhra mainyu at all. In other words, anhra
mainyu does not exist as a compound word, a formalized term, in any of the
texts in the Gathic dialect -- not in the five Gathas (composed by
Zarathushtra), nor in Sarosh Hadokht (Y56),Fshusho
Manthra (Y58), Fravarti (Y11.17 to Y13.3), and Yenghe Hataam!The dualism
of "Good and Evil," highly dramatized in the later Avesta, is simply not related
to the divine spenta mainyu. That dualism is a separate subject of human
behavior on this earthly life and lies outside the scope of this article.

Subtle Faculty.
Let us know first where spenta, mainyu, spenta mainyu, and akin words occur
in the Gathas.
Spenta (alone)

Y29.7, Y34.2, Y43.3-5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, Y44.2,


Y45.11, Y46.9, Y47.3-4, Y48.3,7, Y51.16, 21.

Mainyu (alone)

Y30.3-5, Y31.3, 7, 12, 21, Y33.9, Y44.2, Y45.2,


Y53.7.

Spenta Mainyu

Y43.6, Y44.7, Y45.6, Y47.1, 5, 6.

Spenishta Mainyu Y33.12, Y43.2, Y51.7.


Mainyu vohu

Y34.2

Mainyu spenta

Y28.1.

Mainyu spenishta

Y30.5, Y43.16.

Manyu

Y28.11, Y31.9, Y32.9, Y44.11, Y45.8.

Manyu vahishta

Y33.6

Manyu spenishta

Y47.2.

The above instances concern God, man, both, and


occasionally aramaiti(serenity). But, as already said, spenta mainyu is related
directly or indirectly, to God. One thing is evident that while Ahura Mazda is
the establisher/creator/parent of vohu manah (good
mind), asha(righteousness), Khshathra (dominion), and aramaiti (serenity),
and grantshaurvatat (wholeness), and ameretat (immortality) to the person
who truly observes these principles, spenta mainyu and atar (fire) belong to
Ahura Mazda. They are so subtly abstract that they are not a separate entity
to be established or created. They are two divine faculties, thinking and
illuminating.
Should one take all these instances one by one and at the same time take into
consideration the adjoining stanzas as well as the relative song, one would
realize that the Gathas depict spenta mainyu as the subtle divine faculty of the
continuous creation and expansion plan of Ahura Mazda. Zarathushtra, in his
quest for truth, discovers that it is the "spenta mainyu"aspect of the Supreme
Being that fashioned the joy-bringing world (Y47.3). Above all, it was
through spenishta mainyu that God "created the wondrous wisdom of good
mind by means of righteousness." (Y43.2 Jafarey translation). In fact the
entire quest enlightens Zarathushtra to realize that God is not
simply spenta but spenishta the most progressive (Y43.4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15).
It made him realize his own self (Y43.7) and know that the purpose of his
acquiring knowledge was in quest of righteousness.(Y43.9).
The progressive mentality plays a vital part in human progress. One may be
"a person of very small means, a person of great strength" but if he is
righteous, he has been promised the best. (Y47.4-5). God grants "good to
both these parties through the progressive mentality by means of fire
(enlightenment) because with the growth of serenity and righteousness, it
shall convert many a seeker." (Y47.6, Jafarey translation). "He receives the
best from the most progressive mentality who speaks words of good mind with
his tongue and performs, with his own hands, deeds of serenity."(Y47.2
Jafarey translation). Wholeness and immortality are "the refreshing splendid
goals achieved through the best mind." (Y33.8-9, Jafarey translation). "One
whose soul is in accord with righteousness is a progressive man. (Y34.2).

"The person who seeks the best life and prospers through righteousness is a
great promoter and a treasure for all (Y44.2 Jafarey translation). "One
knowing the divine teachings is progressive and wise like the Wise One.
(Y48.3 Jafarey translation). A progressive person advocates putting down fury
and checking violence, and wishes to strengthen the promotion of good
mentality's actions. (Y48.7).
That is why Zarathushtra too "chooses for himself spenishta mainyu, the most
progressive mentality of God, so that a new life is breathed into the physical
body, serenity prevails throughout the divine dominion" (Y43.16), and
wholeness and immortality are achieved (Y47.1). It is the progressive
mentality that separates the two parties of mankind on earth -- the righteous
who promote their world and the wrongful who retard their living (Y47.5). It is
again the progressive mentality which "enlightens" the wrongful to seek truth
and ultimately become righteous (Y47.6).
This enlightenment is called fire, symbol of light, warmth, and energy, by the
Gathas (Y46.7) and Haptanhaiti (Y36.1,3) It is this light, warmth, this energy
that Zarathushtra prays that every benevolent person will have. He sings:
"Moreover, may the best of blessings come to the person who gives
blessings to others. Wise One, may his knowledge grow throughout the
days of his long life of joy through Your most progressive mentality, the
mentality through which You created the wondrous wisdom of good
mind by means of righteousness."
(Y43.2, Jafarey translation).

Asho Zarathushtra wants every person to be godlike, choose spenta mainyu,


the enlightening light, the invigorating warmth, and the vitalizing energy, rather
the intuitive mind to be creative, a promoter, and progressive in our joybringing world. Spenta mainyu is, the Gathas tell us, the guiding inspiration,
the enlightening intuition, the constructive promotion in our good lives. It is the
divine spark in us. Let us maintain and brighten it more. Let us, like Asho
Zarathushtra, choose for ourselvesspenta mainyu to make our mission of
propagating manthra (the thought-provoking message of the divine Manthran,
Zarathushtra) prevail in the "sun-bathed" dominion of God! Let us join him in a
meditative prayer from the Gathas:
"Wise Lord, rise within me, grant me courage through serenity, good
gifts of prayers through the most progressive mentality, full vigor
through righteousness, and felicity through good mind.

To support me, wide-watching Lord, reveal to me the force of Your


sovereignty, the blessings of good mind. Show me through progressive
serenity, righteous conceptions.
Now as a dedication, I Zarathushtra offer to the Wise One the very lifebreath of myself and the first fruits of my good mind, deeds, and words,
gained through righteousness, with my ear to the divine voice; in fact,
my whole strength."
(Y33.12-14, Jafarey translation).

Ali A. Jafarey, 1989.

Dr. A. A. Jafarey, studied Avesta and Pahlavi with Dr. Manek Pithawalla,
Principle of the Parsi High School in Karachi, and later with Dastur Dr. M.N.
Dhalla, High Priest of Pakistan, under whom he also studied the Gathas. Dr.
Jafarey has a Doctorate in Persian Literature from the University of Karachi,
worked briefly for Aramco in Saudi Arabia, then founded his own business in
Tehran offering translation services to commercial ventures. He worked for 17
years in the Ministry of Culture and Arts in Tehran, where part of his duties
involved the supervision of doctoral students in Persian Literature at the
University of Tehran. Since 1963 he has served as a Board Member and
Trustee of the Ancient Iranian Cultural Society, first in Tehran and now in Los
Angeles. He has written 11 books in Persian and English on the
Zarathushtrian religion, and in 1981 published a translation of the Gathas in
Persian. An English translation, The Gathas, Our Guide, Ushta Publications
P.O. Box 2160, Cypress CA 90630 is now available.

Sketches of Ahura Mazda.


(Quotations from the Gathas)
(Insler translation).

"...the Lord, beneficent through truth, virtuous and knowing..."


Y48.3

"...do Thou, Wise Lord,


instruct me
through the eloquence befitting Thy spirit..."
Y28.11

"...this Zarathushtra chooses


that very spirit of Thine
which is the most virtuous of all, Wise One."
Y43.16

"Yes, I have already realized Thee


to be virtuous
when he [spenta mainyu]
attended me with good thinking..."
Y43.7,9,11,13,15.

"...Thou, the Wise One, hast come into the world


with Thy virtuous spirit and
with the rule of good thinking..."
Y43.6

"...May the Wise Lord listen,


in Whose glory I have taken counsel
with good thinking...."
Y45.6.

"...The most Mighty One,


the truthful Lord,
virtuous in His action..."
Y46.9.

"...the Wise One


who offers support (to us)."
Y51.20.

Selections from the Gathas.


(Insler translation).

"The priest who is just


in harmony with truth
is the offspring
from the best spirit..."
Y33.6

"...the one who has allied his conception with good thinking.
Any such person of piety
is of the (same) good lineage
with truth and all those (other forces) existing under Thy rule, Lord."
Y49.5

"The Wise Lord...shall give the


permanence of good thinking's alliance
to him, the one who is
His ally
in spirit and actions."
Y31.21.

"Thou art the


virtuous Father of this spirit..."
Y47.3.

"Moreover, (I wish) for this person


the best of all things...
to be understanding all his days... understanding
through Thy most virtuous spirit,
Wise One..."
Y43.2.

"...the deceitful
are not able to deflect
those who are properly truthful from this virtuous spirit..."
Y47.4.

Editor's Note: Some Evidence.


The concept of the benevolent spirit1 (spenta mainyu) in the Gathas is a
puzzle wrapped in a mystery.
If we were to study all of the instances in which Zarathushtra refers to the
benevolent spirit in the Gathas at close range, one by one, they might at first
seem like a contradictory jumble.
But if you step back a few paces and study them as you would a fine painting,
with an overview perspective, some interesting conclusions begin to emerge.
The first is that in the Gathas the benevolent spirit operates at more than one
level -- in all aspects of existence,2 in both man and God.

Part of the confusion as to the nature and identity of the benevolent spirit is
generated by the fact that Zarathushtra, on occasion, refers to him as an
entity,3 the way he refers to truth and good thinking as entities.4 In my view
this was, in part, Zarathushtra's way of conceptualizing the nature of the Wise
Lord, Ahura Mazda.
That spenta mainyu, the benevolent spirit, is a part of the Wise Lord, and
operates at the divine level cannot, I think, be doubted. The Gathas are full of
instances in which he is so identified.5
But what I find particularly interesting is that scattered throughout the Gathas,
amidst all the abstract ideas and sophisticated thinking, are descriptive
references to the benevolent spirit, which when brought together create the
following portrait. It

created life6
is benevolent,7
is supportive,8
is a kindred spirit with the loving man,9
attends with good thinking,10
gives understanding,11
is a "spirit of great determination",12
motivated the Wise Lord to create truth and good thinking13 which
among other things, are the means for achieving the desired end,
chose the truth,14 the source of its virtue being truth,15 and
motivated the creation of the material world16 which is the arena
forspiritual growth -- one of the many instances of subtle
complementation17 in the Gathas.

In the vernacular of the undergraduate student, the benevolent spirit provides


us with both lecture and lab, leaving it to us to earn the grade.
It would be reasonable to infer from the above evidence, that the benevolent
spirit represents love, support, a built-in guidance system, assisting us to
quest for truth and meet the exigencies of life by attending with good thinking.
With his usual uncanny knack for hitting the nail on the head, Dr. Insler
suggests that in the Gathic scheme of things, the benevolent spirit represents
the source of benevolent instincts and feelings (love), and is the force which
motivates God to create truth and good thinking to give us a means of finding
happiness, and salvation from ignorance, violence and cruelty.

I had often wondered where, in Zarathushtra's pantheon of immortals the


concept of love belonged. To see it in spenta mainyu did not occur to me
before I read Dr. Insler's essay. But a careful review of the evidence, I think,
bears him out.
And if in addition the benevolent spirit "attends with good thinking", it would be
reasonable to infer that it is also the source of wisdom. But whether we view it
as motivating the creation of good thinking, or being the source of good
thinking, it seems clear to me that the benevolent spirit and good thinking are
two parts of the same whole, each containing within itself some aspects of the
other.
In my view, the benevolent spirit and the other immortal forces are a part of
the essence of what is God -- life, love, wisdom, truth, pure goodness, an
active, determined agent (friend and ally) in our mutual efforts to bring about
the desired end.
It is perhaps an expression of Zarathushtra's profound insight that he sees
these forces in man18 as well as in God, conveying in this subtle way his
understanding of the relationship between the two, and of the nature of God
and man.
Dina G. McIntyre,
The Editor.

Footnotes:
1.

Not being a linguist, I am not competent to comment on whether mainyu means spirit or mentality.
However, with due respect for my friend Dr. Jafarey, from a purely logical point of view, it seems
to me that Zarathushtra must have had a reason for identifying spenta mainyu and vohu mano as
two separate immortals in conceptualizing what he was trying to convey. I am therefore not
persuaded thatmainyu means mentality.

2.

"Yes, I shall speak of the two fundamental spirits of existence, of which the virtuous one would
have thus spoken to the evil one: 'Neither our thoughts nor teachings nor intentions, neither our
preferences nor words, neither our actions nor conceptions nor our souls are in accord.' " Y45.2
"Yes, there are two fundamental spirits, twins which are renowned to be in conflict. In thought and
in word, in action, they are two: the good and the bad..." Y30.3.
In his discussion on Y30, Insler has this to say:
"Existence is permeated by two motivating spirits which stand in total opposition to one another.
Through their conflicting interests they have taken their stand at the opposite poles of good and
evil in thought, word and action,...Cutting across all modes of existence with their opposing

values, these pervasive spirits have forced mankind, by imposing these contrary categories upon
all dimensions of life, to equally make a decisive choice with regard to its alliance with the
essence of good or with the essence of evil, which, so to say, exist in the nature of things..."
Insler,The Gathas of Zarathushtra, page 160.

3.

See for example Y43 in which Song Zarathushtra says with poetic repetition,

"...I have already realized Thee to be virtuous, Wise Lord, when he [referring tospenta mainyu]
attended me with good thinking..." Y43.5,7,9,11,13,15.
4. In Y29, for example, the entities referred to are the Wise Lord (Ahura Mazda), truth, good thinking,
and the benevolent spirit.
5. Y28.11, Y43.16, Y31.3, Y33.12, Y43.2,6, Y44.7, Y45.6, Y47.2,3, Y51.7. Excerpts from some of
these verses are quoted in Sketches of Ahura Mazda, and Selections from the Gathas, in this
Issue.
6. "Furthermore, when these two spirits came together, they created life and death,...."Y30.4.
7. "...Him who is beneficent through His virtuous spirit to those who exist..." Y45.6.
8. "...in reverence of him, (our) support, the spirit virtuous through truth..." Y28.1.
9. "...the loving man...For such a person, virtuous through truth, watching over the heritage for all, is
a world-healer and Thy ally in spirit, Wise One." Y44.2.
10.
See excerpts from Y43 quoted in footnote 3 above.
11.
Y43.2, quoted in Selections from the Gathas in this Issue.
12.
Y31.9.
13.
"...Thy most virtuous spirit, Wise One, by reason of which Thou didst create the wondrous
powers of good thinking allied with truth." Y43.2.
14.
"...(But) the very virtuous spirit [mainyus spenisto] ...chose the truth..." Y30.5.

15.
16.

Y28.1.
After asking questions about the creation of truth, good thinking and the material world,
Zarathushtra says: "By these (questions), Wise One, I am helping to discern Thee to be the
creator of everything by reason of Thy virtuous spirit." Y44.7.
17.
I use the term "complement" in the following sense, as defined in Webster's International
Dictionary (2d ed. 1956):
"That which fills up or completes...That which is required...to make perfect or to complete a
symmetrical whole; one of two mutually completing parts."
18.
The clearest evidence of this is Y47.1, which is quoted by Dr. Insler at the end of his
essay "Human Behavior and Good Thinking" (Issue No. 1 of these materials). For examples of
the benevolent spirit in man see Y33.6, Y45.5, 8, Y47.1,4, Y48.8, some of which are quoted
in Selections from the Gathas, in this Issue.
The 6 verses of Yasna 47, which is the first chapter in the Spenta Mainyu Gatha,contain a
delightful and subtle complementation of the benevolent spirit in God and in man.
Verse 1
Verse 2
Verse 3
Verse 4
Verse 5
Verse 6

in man,
in God,
in God,
in man,
in God (and man?)
in God (and man?).

It could reasonably be argued that this is just a coincidence, and not an intended complementation. What
do you think?

Volume 4

Making it Happen, Aramaiti


Sketches of Ahura Mazda
Selections from the Gathas
A Contemporary Perspective

Making It Happen, Aramaiti.


Dina G. McIntyre

As one of Zarathushtra's "immortals" 1 aramaiti is an important part of


Zarathushtra's theological system. Yet it is surprising to see how differently
leading Zoroastrian thinkers translate or interpret its meaning. To Dastur N.D.
Minochehr-Homji and T.R. Sethna aramaiti is divine wisdom.2 To A.A. Jafarey
it is serenity.3 Bode and Nanavutty translate it as devotion,4 K.D. Irani as
benevolence,3 Farhang Mehr as divine love,6and S. Insler as piety.7
In my search for the meaning of aramaiti, I decided to comb through the
Gathas and study each mention of aramaiti in them, to see if the context in
which Zarathushtra used the word might give us some indication of the
meaning he intended to ascribe to it. As with any analysis of Zarathushtra's
thought processes, what I discovered was well worth the effort. I have
obtained some insight into the meaning of aramaiti. And I have become aware
that Zarathushtra's concept of "piety" and "worship" are quite unconventional.
But such conclusions should not be accepted on the unsubstantiated word of
any person, however well-intentioned. They require verification from the

source. All quotations from and references to the Gathas in this essay have
been taken from Insler's translation, though I do not know if he would agree
with some or all of the inferences which I have drawn from his translation.
To understand aramaiti, we must understand xshathra. And the converse is
also true. But let us start with xshathra. Vohu xshathra is good rule. And good
rule is what occurs when authority or power is exercised with reason and
intelligence (good thinking, vohu mano) and is committed to what is true and
right (asha). In short, as the Gathas repeatedly tell us, good rule is the rule of
truth and good thinking.8 Let us set good rule (vohu xshathra) on the back
burner for a moment and consider how Zarathushtra used the word aramaiti.
In Ahunavaiti Gatha, Zarathushtra states that a person expresses aramaitiby
action stemming from good thinking.
"By his action stemming from good thinking, the man of good
determination has expressed his understanding and his
virtuous [aramaiti],..." Y34.10.
In Ushtavaiti Gatha, Zarathushtra once again links aramaiti to actions:
"I know the Wise One who created it [truth] to be the Father of effective
good thinking. And His daughter is[aramaiti] of good actions..." Y45.4.
And in Spenta Mainyu Gatha,, a person of aramaiti is described as:
"...one who has allied his conception with good thinking..." Y49.5.
It is clear from the above that Zarathushtra's concept of aramaiti is related to
actions stemming from good thinking. In addition, in Ushtavaiti Gatha,
aramaiti is linked with truth.
"...Through its actions, [aramaiti] gives substance to the truth..."Y44.6.
"...come thou hither...Hither where [aramaiti] is in harmony with truth,
where sovereignty is in the power of good thinking, where the Wise Lord
dwells in maturity." Y46.16.
But the clincher comes in Vohu Xshathra Gatha, where Zarathushtra
summarizes what it is that makes a man of aramaiti virtuous -- it is his
understanding, his words, his actions, his vision.

"Virtuous is a man of [aramaiti]. He is so by reason of his understanding,


his words, his action, his conception[daena]..." Y51.21.
It would be reasonable to infer from this evidence that, as Zarathushtra uses
the word, aramaiti means bringing to life the rule of truth and good thinking by
our understanding, our words, our actions, our vision -- the proverbial good
thoughts, good words, good deeds.
"But to this world He came with the rule of good thinking and of truth,
and (our) enduring [aramaiti] gave body and breath (to it)...." Y30.7
Just as a skillful artist plays with colors, mixing, matching and complementing
them to convey his thoughts and feelings, in the same way, Zarathushtra
seems to enjoy playing with ideas -- mixing, matching and complementing
them to convey his multidimensional vision. And the concept of aramaiti is no
exception.
On the one hand, Zarathushtra refers to that concept in both the human and
the divine spheres of existence9 -- God's wisdom, and our understanding;
God's Word, and our good words; God's actions to help bring about the
desired end, and our good actions.
On the other hand, Zarathushtra repeatedly uses aramaiti and xshathra as
complementary concepts.10 With impeccable logic, Zarathushtra advances the
unusual proposition that it is our understanding, our good words, and our good
deeds that give life to God's rule (of truth and good thinking) here on earth-not a servile, unquestioning obedience on our part,11 but an active voluntary
commitment that includes the freedom to think, the freedom to speak, the
freedom to act.
In my view, it is this concept -- this active and voluntary bringing to life of the
rule of truth and good thinking, with our benevolent thoughts, words and
deeds, as a friend and ally of God -- that is spenta aramaiti. In view of the fact
that aramaiti functions at both the divine and the human levels, I have been
unable to come up with one word that fits the concept exactly, (though
"service" -- to the desired end by both man and God -- is close). But at the
human level, the substance of the concept of aramaiti is identical to
Zarathushtra's unconventional idea of how we must worship.
In a world where the local gods which men worshipped were fierce and
numerous (Y32.12, Y44.20), and their priests corrupt and oppressive (Y32.12,
Y46.11, Y48.10), Zarathushtra not only advanced the concept of

monotheism, 12 but in addition taught that the kind of worship most pleasing
to Ahura Mazda, the Wise Lord, was an adherence to truth, through good
thinking (understanding) and through words and actions stemming from good
thinking. In the Ahunavaiti and Spenta Mainyu Gathas, his unique concept of
worship is specifically spelled out as follows:
"...I shall always worship all of you, Wise Lord, with truth and the very
best thinking and with their rule through which one shall stand on the
path of (good) power..." Y50.4.
"I... shall serve all of you, Wise Lord, with good thinking..."Y28.2.
"I shall serve all of you...with truth and with the reverence (worthy) of a
sincere person. You, moreover, with the skillfulness of good thinking.
Praising, I shall encounter you with such worship, Wise One, and with
actions stemming from good thinking allied with truth..." Y50.8-9.
Explaining Yasna 50.4, quoted above, Insler states:
"Verse 4 now continues this motif by promising to worship and obey the
Wise Lord with his own enduring values through which a good and
virtuous rule, analogous to that of the Lord's own, might come to pass in
this world." 13
This beautiful and unique form of worship -- the worship of God with his own
enduring values -- is again reflected in Yasna 51.22, where Zarathushtra says:
"I know in whose worship there exists for me the best in accordance
with truth. It is the Wise Lord as well as those who have existed and (still)
exist. Them (all) shall I worship with their own names, and I shall serve
them with love." Y51.22.
Insler explains that the words "those who have existed and (still) exist" refer to
"those who are immortal; specifically, the good and enduring values of the
lord."14 And that the words "them (all) shall I worship with their own names"
mean, in essence:
"I shall worship truth with truth, good thinking with good thinking, etc."15
To me, Yasna 51.22, so interpreted is the quintessential prescription for
worship. It warms the heart and delights the mind. To think that one's actions
in the hustle and bustle of the real world can be acts of worship, if governed

by truth and good thinking, gives meaning and beauty to what would
otherwise be mundane acts and a purposeless existence. But this concept of
worship raises an interesting question: Why does Zarathushtra personify the
values with which he defines God? Why does he repeatedly address God in
the plural, for example:
"I who shall serve all of you, Wise Lord,..." Y28.2.
"...worship of all of you, Wise Lord, ..." Y33.8.
"...Wise One and ye other lords, be present to me with support..."Y30.9
"...and all those forces existing under Thy rule, Wise Lord." Y34.10 (and also
Y49.5).

Why does he address the benevolent spirit, truth, and good thinking as
personages (Y29). Why does he on occasion, personify aramaiti and good
rule (Y51.2, and Y33.11), when they all so clearly represent aspects of the
one God, the Wise Lord? Jafarey suggests that this personification was a
function of Zarathushtra's poetic art.16 Dastur N.D. Minochehr-Homji was of
the view that Zarathushtra used this format to enable the people of his time,
who were used to polytheism, to conceptualize the one God.17. And I think that
both these conclusions are perceptive and correct.
However, Zarathushtra in the Gathas displays so passionate and
uncompromising a commitment to the truth, and his reasoning processes are
always so deep and on target, that I believe he must have had some very
direct and valid reason for describing God, the Wise Lord, within the
framework of the amesha spenta (the benevolent immortals). I have some
speculations on the subject. I think he did so because the personified
attributes are an integral part of Zarathushtra's prescription for how we must
worship -- truth with truth, good thinking with good thinking, God's commitment
to bring about the desired end with our like commitment.
In short, to quest for wisdom, truth and right with good thinking is not just a
matter of ethics. It is not just a desirable code of behavior. It is an act of
worship. To give the rule of good thinking and truth "body and breath" (Y30.7)
through our actions in the real world is likewise an act of worship in the temple
of life -- a form of piety more pleasing to God than any other.
Implicit in this framework is the idea that the good end can be reached only by
like means. "The end justifies the means" is not a part of Zarathushtra's reality.

Implicit in this framework is the idea of a balance of endeavor between the


divine and the human, required to bring about the desired end. What the Wise
Lord requires of us, he delivers of himself -- truth, good thinking, good words
and actions, good rule.
Lastly, and most importantly, by describing God within the framework of
the amesha spenta, Zarathushtra makes a subtle but clear assertion
regarding the nature of man and God -- that the means and the end are the
same, that there is, perhaps not an equivalence, but surely a unity of identity
between the worshipper and the worshipped. And that when the means have
been perfected in the worshipper so as to become the end, completeness is
achieved, and the reason for mortality ceases.
In closing, let us consider how the above definition of aramaiti fits into the
overall scheme of the amesha spenta. Asha is objective truth, knowledge,
right,18 -- God's law which orders all aspects of the universe, both abstract and
material. Vohu mano is good thinking, the means by which we ascertain
knowledge, truth and right. And aramaiti is implementing or bringing to life
good thinking, truth and right in our world (zam) with our good thoughts
(understanding), our good words, and our good deeds, thereby bringing about
good rule (vohu xshathra) here, and evolving towards completeness and
immortality (haurvatat/ameretat).
The "proper" order of these benevolent immortals (amesha spenta), and what
it means in terms of understanding Zarathushtra's message, has been the
subject of much conjecture. Their order of appearance in Yasna 28, the first
Gatha, is the benevolent spirit, truth, good thinking, aramaiti, and good rule.
Completeness and immortality do not appear (in those terms) till several
songs later. In other parts of the Gathas themselves, their order or
appearance varies. I do not think there is any one "proper" order. I think
Zarathushtra mixes, matches and complements these concepts in a
kaleidoscopic manner to demonstrate different ways of looking at a
multidimensional whole.
The variety enriches our understanding. As Windfuhr said , referring to
theamesha spenta:
"These occur in ever different combinations in the stanzas of the Gathas,
which follow each other in a quasi kaleidoscopic fest of ordered and
reordered and mirrored images." 19

The depth and antiquity of Zarathushtra's poetry, affords endless hours of


inferential thinking, all of it fascinating. When we differ, I think it is good to
have confidence in your own good thinking, while considering other views with
an open mind. For just when we think we know it all, we hear someone else's
perceptions that compel us to re-think our own, and strike us with wonder at
the depth and variety of Zarathushtra's thought -- truly a wise friend of the
Wise Lord.
Dina G. McIntyre, 1989.

Dina G. McIntyre has a Bachelor of Science from Carnegie Mellon University (then
Carnegie Institute of Technology), and a Juris Doctor from the University of Pittsburgh
School of Law. She has practiced law in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania since 1963. She
became interested in Zoroastrian theology in the early 80's and has studied the Gathas
on her own since 1982. She relies primarily on Dr. Insler's translations which she enjoys
comparing with the translation of Humbach, T.R. Sethna, Taraporewala, Moulton,

Mills, Bode & Nanavutty, and Dinshaw Irani.

Footnotes:
1. Called amesha spenta (benevolent immortals) in the later Avestan texts.
2. Minochehr-Homji Chicago Lectures 1984, recorded on cassettes. T.R.
Sethna, The Teachings of Zarathushtra, (1978).
3. This publication, Issue No. 3, page 3.
4. Bode & Nanavutty, The Songs of Zarathushtra, The Gathas, (George
Allen & Unwin, Ltd., -- out of print).
5. This publication, Issue No. 2, page 9.
6. Ibid., No. 2, page 1.
7. Insler, The Gathas of Zarathushtra, (E.J.Brill, Leiden, 1975) ("Insler"
hereinafter).
According to Insler, the Gathic word aramaiti is related to a Vedic word
which means "respect" and to a Vedic expression which means "to
serve". I asked Dr. Insler if he could provide us with some information
regarding the linguistic bases for translating the wordaramaiti, and he
responded as follows:
"The Avestan word armaiti is always pronounced with four syllables in
the Gathas (armaiti) and has long been correctly identified with its Vedic

cognate aramati. Its Avestan form merely represents the Middle Persian
development of the original word, the details of which are well known.
The Vedic word means "respect", and were I to translate the Gathas
again, I would employ respect to expressarmaiti. In Zarathushtra's
system the word functions as the opposite to taromaiti "disrespect,
opposition", a term which is paired withassure "disobedience" at Y33.4.
At Y45.11 the two opposing concepts are played against one another,
when the text confronts "who has opposed or shown disrespect" with
"who has respected", with these terms expressed by tar .mast and ar m
mainstayrespectively, both morphologically related to ar
amity and taromaiti. Vedic also frequently uses the expression ram
Kr "to serve" whose underlying meaning was surely "show respect."
8. Here, for example, are some verses that describe good rule as the "rule
of truth and good thinking":
"...strength and the rule of truth and good thinking, by means of which
one shall create peace and tranquility..." Y29.10.
"...(And) grow Thyself, in breath and body, through the rule of good
thinking and of truth." Y33.10.
9. Zarathushtra describes the Wise Lord not only as the Father of truth and
good thinking, but also as the Father of aramaiti (Y44.3, 7; Y45.4). I
think Zarathushtra uses "father" as a metaphor for source, warranting
the inference that if truth and good thinking are a part of the Wise Lord,
so too is the concept of aramaiti.
Yasna 33.11 and 12 provide an excellent example of aramaiti at the
divine and human levels respectively. In verse 11 aramaiti is one of the
divine forces invoked by Zarathushtra to help him (and, by implication,
all mankind).
"The Wise One who is the Mightiest Lord, and [aramaiti] and truth which
prospers the creatures, and good thinking, and (good) rule -- listen to
me, ..." Y33.11.
In verse 12, aramaiti is one of the benevolent forces at work in man, by
means of which God is benefited.
"Rise up to me, Lord. Along with Thy most virtuous spirit, Wise One,
receive force through (our) piety [aramaiti], strength through (every)
good requital, powerful might through truth, protection through (our)

good thinking." Y33.12.


Because aramaiti functions at both the divine and human levels, I am
not persuaded that the word "piety" describes the full meaning of the
word aramaiti, although it certainly reflects the human aspect of the
concept.
10.
"Complements" are two or more mutually completing parts,
making a whole.
11.
Even when Zarathushtra speaks of obedience, it
is thinkingobedience, not a blind, unquestioning obedience, that he
advocates:
"...As world-healer, promise us a judge, and let obedience to him come
through good thinking, ..." Y44.16.
12.
If to Zarathushtra the Wise Lord was truth, it stands to reason that
he viewed the fierce local gods of his time as error -- as figments of the
imaginations of those who worshipped them. Referring to men of ill will,
Zarathushtra says:
"...Those who, with ill will, have increased fury and cruelty.....they have
served the gods which is the conception of a deceitful person." Y49.4.
As I understand Zarathushtra's words, these local "gods" of his time
stood in opposition to the Wise Lord, Ahura Mazda, as error stands in
opposition to truth, as nonexistence stands in opposition to life. For
Zarathushtra, there was only one God -- the Wise Lord Ahura Mazda -an unheard of concept in his time period, a concept that his
contemporaries must have found mind-boggling.
13.
Insler, page 302.
14.
Ibid., page 109, footnote 26.
15.
Ibid., page 109, footnote 27. Dastur N.D. Minochehr-Homji and Dr.
Jafarey translate and interprets this verse differently. According to them,
this verse refers to a remembrance of good souls of the departed.
16.
Jafarey, advises that in Persian poetry the poet frequently
personifies ideas or things which are the objects of his particular
attention. Jafarey, The Gathas, Our Guide, pages 10-11.
17.
N.D. Minochehr-Homji, Chicago Lectures, 1984.
18.
Including that impartial justice which sets in motion the law of
consequences, that we reap what we sow.
19.
Windfuhr, Observations on the Cosmology of Yasna 44, page 4. A
Lecture delivered to the American Academy of Religions, 1988.

"...I believe in thoughts well thought,


I believe in words well spoken,
I believe in deeds well done.....
From The Zoroastrian Credo,
Jasamey Avanghey Mazda,
(translated by Dastur N.D. Minochehr-Homji, Chicago Lectures, 1984).

"This will make us understand the greatness of Zarathushtra. Though


surrounded by believers in magical rites, he proclaimed in those dark days of
unreason that religion has its truth in its moral significance, not in external
practices of imaginary value; that its value is in upholding man in his life of
good thoughts, good words and good deeds."
Rabindranath Tagore, The Religion of Man, page 74

" one day I chanced to hear a song from a beggar belonging to the Baul
sect of Bengal..it was alive with an emotional sincerity. It spoke of an
intense yearning of the heart for the divine which is in Man and not in the
temple, or scriptures, in images and symbols..
[Quoting from a Baul song]

"I would not go, my heart, to Mecca or Medina,


For behold, I ever abide by the side of my Friend.
Mad would I become, had I dwelt afar, not knowing Him.
There's no worship in Mosque or Temple or special holy day.
At every step I have my Mecca and Kashi;
Sacred is every moment."..
[quoting from Chandidas, a medieval Bengali poet]

"How could the scripture know the meaning of the Lord who has His play in
the world of human forms?"
Rabindranath Tagore, The Religion of Man, pages 108, 214, 111.

Sketches of Ahura Mazda.


(Quotations from the Gathas)
(Insler translation).

"The Wise One is the first to heed


His agreements..."
Y29.4.

"...regarding with clarity of vision,


Thou dost look upon
all these things with truth."
Y31.13.

"...I know the Wise One


who created it [truth] to be
the Father of effective good thinking.
And His daughter
is [aramaiti] of good actions...."
Y45.4

"...the Lord of existence in Thy actions."


Y31.8.

"...The Wise One is Lord


through such actions
stemming from good spirit."
Y45.5

"...I have ... seen the Wise One...


to be Lord of the word and deed
stemming from good spirit..."
Y45.8.

"...Thou art the Lord


by reason of Thy tongue (which is)
in harmony with truth
and by reason of Thy words
stemming from good thinking, of which
Thou, Wise One,
art the foremost revealer."
Y51.3.

"...thee, o truth,
and good thinking
and the Wise Lord and (those others)
for whom piety increases
their unharmable rule...."
Y28.3.

Selections from the Gathas.


(Insler translation).

"When, Wise One, shall [aramaiti] come


along with truth,

bringing peace and pasturage


throughout the dominion?
Which men
shall stop the cruelty (caused) by the
violent deceitful persons?
To which man
shall come the understanding
stemming from good thinking?"
Y48.11.

"Yes, those men shall be


the saviors of the lands, namely,
those who shall follow
their knowledge of Thy teaching
with actions
in harmony with good thinking
and with truth, Wise One.
These indeed have been fated to be the expellers of fury."
Y48.12.

"...I shall serve all of you...with truth...


You, moreover, with
the skillfulness of good thinking."
Y50.8.

"...I shall always


worship all of you, Wise Lord,
with truth
and the very best thinking"
Y50.4.

"May the Creator


instruct through good thinking
the course of my direction,
in order to be
the charioteer of my will and my tongue."
Y50.6.

"...Yes, I shall swear to be your praiser, Wise One, and I shall be it, as long as I
shall have strength and be able, o truth..."
Y50.11.

A Contemporary Perspective.
(An excerpt from a Lecture delivered to
the American Academy of Religions, November 1989)
Professor K. D. Irani

How is Zarathushtra's view of the world and way of life applicable to the
contemporary world? Perhaps the simplest way to answer that question is to
identify the values one would wish to promote in social existence.
The first value would be knowledge, for not only is it a value in itself, it is also
the indispensable requisite for rational formulation of policy.
Then satisfaction for the widest possible range of subjects. In any policy for
bringing about satisfaction, one must have due regard for individual freedom.
It is a human tendency to turn one's policy decisions into ideologies and
impose them upon others for their own benefit regardless of their wishes. This
is a violation of the individual's self-determination, which is not only explicitly
declared by Zarathushtra in the Gathas, but becomes the sole basis for one's
responsibility and consequent salvation.
And lastly, justice. Asha in the social context is justice -- i.e., one should get
what one deserves. Or to put it in the form given by John Stuart Mill, no
person should receive undeserved burdens or misery. The question of what to
do with those who enjoy undeserved benefits is hard to answer. That all these
values cannot always, or even usually, be jointly promoted is obvious. But that
is exactly where reason is called upon to make evaluative judgments or
preference.
The Zoroastrian way of life is not an easy one. It does not have the confidence
that Utopians have about their social visions. It points the way with a
confidence in the good-mind being able to see the Truth, for when Truth,

either in fact or in morals, is clearly recognized then it cannot be denied either


in thought or in action.
K.D. Irani, 1989.

Professor Kaikhosrov Irani teaches philosophy at the City College of New


York. where he is a Professor Emeritus and past Chairman of the Department
of Philosophy. He is Director of the Academy of Sciences and Humanities of
the City University of New York, and a member of the Academy of Science in
New York, the American Philosophical Association, the Philosophy of Science
Association, and the American Academy of Religion. He has lectured in his
field at such institutes of higher learning as UCLA, the Universities of Michigan,
London, Goetingen, Vienna, Sweden, Finland, and Rome. He is a popular
lecturer at national and international conferences on the subject of
Zoroastrianism. He has studied the Gathas on his own for many years, and
relies primarily on the translations of Humbach, Insler, Mills, Bartholomae,
Taraporewala, and that of his father the late, great, Dinshaw Irani.

Volume 5

God's Good Rule, Vohu Xshathra


Sketches of Ahura Mazda
Selections from the Gathas
Editor's Note: A Question of Power

God's Good Rule, Vohu Khshathra.


(To be Chosen by Man)

Kersey Antia

In his magnificent conception of God, Asho Zarathushtra also includes a


unique vision of God's Good Rule (Vohu Khshathra) which he exhorts man to
choose and pursue in this world, by good thinking, righteousness and piety
(Y46.16).
It is hard to conceive that at a time when most of mankind tried to please the
gods through human and animal sacrifices, Zarathushtra not only conceived
of One God but also saw God and man in an active partnership. The best way
for man to worship Mazda is to emulate him and help to establish His Good
Rule on this earth. (Y28.3, Y30.7, Y47.1).
Even the later prayers seem to have preserved this notion. For example,
in Hoshbam, one yearns to become one with the Lord (Hamem thwa hakhma).
At the root of such a vision of God lies the origin not only of ethics but also of
the dignity of man, humanitarianism, individual responsibility, freedom of
choice, human rights and the like, which ultimately paved the way for
modernity. Yasna 29 well illustrates this point. There we learn that this world
had slipped into such a sorry state of sordidness and evil that good thinking
(vohu mano) recommended Zarathushtra to exhort man to be Godlike and
thereby defeat evil. Zarathushtra promises the reward of Good Rule to such
men (Y29.10). Man's purpose on this earth is to imbibe God's divine qualities
and become an active ally (Hamkar) of God. Nowhere is this message so
clear as in Y34.1:
"By whichever action, by whichever word, by whichever worship, Wise
One, Thou didst receive for Thyself immortality, truth, ... [dominion and]
completeness, let these very things be given by us to Thee, Lord, in the
very greatest number." (Y34.1, Insler translation).
The same sentiment is also echoed so well in Y34.2, Y47.1, and Y51.21. As
Professor James Russell wisely contends:
"It is from these original declarations, possibly the most momentous in human
culture, - (for it is from them that the noblest ethical systems and concepts of
human rights and law seem to bear their imprint) - that Zarathushtra should be
called by all good men OUR prophet." (USHTA, VIII (4) Dec. 1988, p.4)
(Emphasis in the original).

Concept of the Amesha Spenta


It is hard to unlock all the treasures of the Gathas as they are like a hidden
treasury with keys missing. One of the most difficult concepts to decipher is
that of the Amesha Spenta (Benevolent Immortals) and why Zarathushtra
found it so basic to his philosophy. He talks of them as separate entities as
well as abstract qualities. He addresses Mazda himself as a single entity and
also as a plural being (Y28.2, Y33.8, Y30.9, Y34.10, Y49.5, and Y50.4, 8). No
one can claim to speak with certainty about this (or other things about the
Gathas), but is seems to me that when Zarathushtra addresses Mazda in the
plural, he is referring to all theAmesha Spenta, attributes of Mazda as they
have become hamem thwa hakhma -- one and the same with the Lord.1
The seven Amesha Spenta are like the seven colors of the rainbow -- they
may be separate but they are part and parcel of the same phenomenon. Like
the colors of the rainbow, if you merge them together, they form one entity -white light -- spenta mainyu, which may represent the divine essence of all the
seven Amesha Spentas.2
Khshathra is no exception to this rule. It is a distinct, separate attribute or
aspect of Mazda and yet it is not possible to conceive of it in the absence of
the other Amesha Spenta. Yasna 47.1 which is the only place in the Gathas
where all the Amesha Spenta are mentioned together in one verse
emphasizes their interdependent nature. One attains Good Rule only by being
Godlike in every way.
In this respect, it makes little sense to determine the status of an Amesha
Spenta by the number of times it is mentioned in the Gathas, as is so often
done. The importance of an Amesha Spenta lies in the fact that the divine
quality it represents is necessary for man to emulate, to become divine
himself. It should be noted that the collective term Amesha Spentais not
Gathic, but a later term and there are other abstract qualities of God also
mentioned in the Gathas, though not as often, which may explain why they
were not assigned as much importance as the Amesha Spenta in later times.
However, we do not know for sure how and when the concept of the Amesha
Spenta developed.
Zarathushtra realized so well the limitless love of God for man and His eternal
effort to help man realize his Godhead (hamem thwa hakhma) that even when
he personally saw God as a single entity, as

"the First One in the creation of the world" (Y43.5, Insler translation),
he saw Him accompanied by such Amesha Spenta as Truth (asha) and Good
Thinking (vohu mano). For Zarathushtra to see and realize God is to see and
realize Him in all His beautiful rainbow-like glory, because no one attribute
could fully describe Him. He explained this vision in the concept of the
Amesha Spenta and used it to its fullest to exhort man to be God-like by
developing the divinity in him and qualifying for "the best existence" forever.
To be God-like in the exercise of power is particularly difficult for man,
because power corrupts him so easily (Y51.10-14, Y32.6, Y32.11-12). But
without attaining this goal, man cannot expect to attain piety and Godhead. An
entire Gatha, Yasna 51, therefore has been devoted toVohu Khshathra, which
is somehow not done in the case of the otherAmesha Spenta, if we do not
include Spenta Mainyu among them.

Vohu Khshathra Gatha.


In this Gatha Zarathushtra emphasizes the realization by man of the divine
essence of God on this earth (Y51.2). Man must actively chooseGood Rule
for the spiritual progress of the world, which will lead mankind to the highest
good and the most fortunate existence (Y51.1), the likes of which will not be
known to man until renovation takes place. For this to happen, man must
make the right choice (Y32.2) and become "Mazda's envoys forever" (Y49.8).
For this reason, I very often regard Zarathushtra's religion as the Religion of
Right Choice. Good Rule has to be actively chosen and sought by man, even
as one has to choose the prophet himself.
Zarathushtra does not talk about the need for making a choice for the sake of
making a choice but for the sake of establishing Good Rule (Y51.1). Therefore,
he talks about those righteous persons who actively work for the Good
Dominion (Y51.8-15), including those who helped him in his own lifetime to
spread his divine message (Y51.16-19). Yasna 51 ends with the promise of
Good Rule accompanied by all the divine attributes of God. (Y51.21-22).
Zarathushtra declares,
"Virtuous is the man of piety. He is so by reason of his understanding,
his words, his action, his conception."(Y51.21, Insler translation).

Yasna 51 ends as beautifully as it begins, even though it is translated and


interpreted differently by different scholars. Insler translates it as follows:
"I know in whose worship there exists for me the best in accordance
with truth [asha]. It is the Wise Lord as well as those who have existed
and (still) exist [namely the amesha spenta]. Them (all) shall I worship with
their own names[that is, I shall worship truth, asha, with truth, good
thinking,vohu mano, with good thinking]. And I shall serve them with
love." (Y51.22).
In this translation, one finds the emphasis on worshipping each of the Wise
Lord's Amesha Spenta attributes.
Many scholars, however see in this verse, Y51.22, the origin of Yenghe
Haatam, our third most important prayer (after Ashem Vohu andAhunavar)
and translate it differently. For instance, Jafarey translates Y51.22 as follows:
"The Wise God knows best any person of mine for his or her veneration
done in accordance with righteousness. I shall, on my part, venerate
such persons, passed away or living, by their names, and shall lovingly
encircle them."(Y51.22).
No two scholars tend to agree completely in their interpretation of the Gathas,
yet such is their beauty that each interpretation still remains steeped in
spirituality, even as it is cloaked in mystery so difficult for even the best
scholars to unravel. Like those Rorschach ink-blots, one tends to interpret the
Gathas in terms of one's own past conditioning and mind-set. My own
conditioning leads me to believe that Y51.22 refers both to theAmesha
Spenta, and to those human beings who have realized their essence in their
lives, thus becoming worthy of our adoration and emulation, for they have
fulfilled what Y51.1 expected of them by choosing the Good Rule. Thus Yasna
51 both begins and ends with the emphasis on man as an instrument of divine
will and power on earth. Man can realize the divinity in himself by following the
precepts in Y51.1-21, and finally himself could become worthy of adoration as
any amesha spenta, being revered individually by name, as we always do in
all our prayers for the departed because each Zoroastrian is expected to fulfill
this goal in his or her lifetime. Such an interpretation of Y51.22 is lent
credence by the fact that originally amesha spenta meant any person, alive or
deceased, who had attained perfection and immortality (Hamem Thwa
Hakhma)because of his piety. (Preface to Y28).

The use of the masculine gender in this article, though used only for
convenient reading, is regretted by the author and should not be ascribed to
Zarathushtra who makes it explicitly clear that
"These things [teachings] are exactly true [for] men; [and] exactly [for]
women." (Y53.6, paraphrase of Insler translation),
And man or woman both cross over the Chinvat (Judgment) Bridge by
following his teachings (Y46.10). The prayer Yenghe Haatam faithfully
represents the spiritual equal rights of women. And since to Zarathushtra this
material world is but an extension of the spiritual world, women are entitled to
equality in matters material as well. Zarathushtra further emphasized women's
equality by perceiving some Amesha Spenta, such as Spenta Armaiti, as
feminine. Even the name Mazda is commonly, if not universally,
acknowledged as being derived from a feminine noun.

Vohu Khshathra in Actual Practice.


The Good Dominion envisioned and preached by Zarathushtra 3,000 or so
years ago is the vision of a perfect world. One finds echoes of it in the Bible,
the Koran and even in the texts of Mahayana Buddhism, Ramayana and Gita.
The echoes of this vision for the Good Rule are found in the rock inscriptions
of Achaemenian kings who led the way for religious tolerance and human
progress some 2,500 years ago. The echo of this vision was felt even by
Firdausi, who made his entire epic, the Shahnameh a monument to the
concept of Good Rule by depicting it mainly as a chronicle of good versus bad
rulers. This is not to say that the Zoroastrian kings were always exemplary
rulers but Zarathushtra's vision of Vohu Khshathra always provided them with
an inspiration to be exemplary rulers. Firdausi best expresses the sentiment of
the Gathas when he maintains that "King Faridun was not an angel adorned
with musk and perfumes, but he obtained righteousness by justice and charity,
and if you guide yourself by justice and charity, you could also become (an
angel like) Faridun." So forceful is the influence of ideas.
By revealing to mankind ideas and words never spoken before (Y31.1) by
anyone, ideas which later infiltrated into Judaism, Christianity, Mahayana
Buddhism, Mithraism, Manichaeism and through the Greeks, into European
traditions, Zarathushtra was the first known prophet to lead mankind into such
noble and spiritual concepts, not the least of which isVohu Khshathra.

It is only when man will overcome all the evil within himself and in this world
that such a kingdom will come. If in the meantime we suffer, it is because we
are not yet heeding Zarathushtra's advice in bringing it about.
According to E. Kulke3, Mary Boyce4, and Duchesne Guillemin5, it was this
latent tendency to work for the renovation of the world and Good Rule that,
instinctively drove the 19th century Parsis to work towards industrial revolution,
political independence, social and educational reforms, labor and social
welfare and other progressive causes, although there were no translations of
the Gathas (or any other religious texts) available to them then. Kulke was
surprised not only by the extensive charities of the Parsi baronets and
industrialists, but also by innumerable small benevolent acts of unknown
Parsis, such as, for example, one Mr. Cama who awarded prizes for the best
essays on small-pox in the 19th century and distributed them free wherever
small-pox was raging in India. Such selfless human acts and the willingness of
man to help his fellow-human beings will ultimately ensure the establishment
of God's good Kingdom6 on this earth.7 Let us all work towards that goal.
Kersey Antia, 1990.

Dr. Kersey Antia is High Priest of the Zoroastrian Association of Chicago,


Illinois, a position he has held since 1977. He attended the M.F. Cama
Athornan Institute in Bombay for 9 years where he received an award for
excellence, and became an ordained priest at the age of 13. He studied
Avesta and Pahlavi in secondary school and at the University of Bombay.
While in college, he received essay-awards from the K.R. Cama Oriental
Institute, and has served the community as a volunteer priest ever since his
first job as a Tata officer in 1960.. He obtained a Masters in Psychology from
North Carolina State University, and a Doctorate in Psychology from Indiana
Northern University. After working as a psychologist at the University of North
Carolina, in private industry and for the State of Illinois, his is now engaged in
full time private practice. He has lectured and written on the subject of
Zoroastrianism, in India and the United States, both live and on radio and on
television, and has made video courses on Zoroastrianism. He has studied
the Gathas on his own for many years. Utilizing, at first, the translations of
Kanga, Mills, and Taraporewala, he now relies primarily on Dr. Insler's
translation.

Footnotes:

1. Gershevitch's extensive research in the Festschrift for Helmut Humbach


in 1986 fully supports this interpretation. In a lengthy review of various
interpretations known to him, he concludes that the phrase means
"Ahura Mazda and (his) lords" or "aspects". Heretofore, however, such a
view has not been popular. Insler also translates the phrase as "Wise
One and ye other lords" (Y30.9) inThe Gathas of Zarathushtra, page 35.
2. The word sufed (white) in Persian and Gujerati seems to me to be a
derivative of Spenta, although it is commonly derived
from spanah(power and strength). Boyce, A History of Zoroastrianism,
Volume 1, page 196.
3. E. Kulke, The Parsis in India: A Minority As Agent of Social Change."
The teachings of Zarathushtra made an indelible impact on his followers,
so that even when they were compelled to migrate to India and lived in
a very different religious system, and even when they did not know the
meaning of the Gathas or any other prayers, they nevertheless
intuitively tried to put the principle of Vohu Khshathra into practice in
their daily lives. Kulke well establishes this fact by quoting from 19th
century Parsis on this subject. Thus he quotes By A Zoroastrian,
appearing in the Indian Spectator (July 14, 1889) as follows: "The true
prayer lies in action and practice...on the physical, moral and spiritual
planes." "In his poems," observes Kulke, "B.M. Malabari glorifies the
deed as a prayer, as salvation and divine duty." (East & West, Volume
21, 1921, page 33). He states: "The view that man is predestined to
shape the world and to set it in motion, can be demonstrated in the
correspondence of individual Parsees. Thus, for example, Dadabhai
Naoroji remarks that '...We have to put nature into motion. If we don't do
so, nature by its inertial will remain still.' " (Kulke,. at page 258). Until
K.R. Cama, an intimate friend of Dadabhai Naoroji, started learning and
teaching the Avesta grammar, the Parsis had no conception of the
Gathic principle ofVohu Khshathra. And yet, as an article in The
Reader's Digest (April 1983, pp248-252) clearly delineates, J.N. Tata
was so driven by this principle.
4. Mary Boyce, Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices.
5. J. Duchesne-Guillemin, Religion of Ancient Iran, (English translation,
Bombay, 1973). At page 4, he wonders "whether the rise of the Parsis as was the case in fact with Puritans - was not aided by their religious
commandments."
6. I agree with Mary Boyce when she asserts that "as Christians pray to
God 'Thy Kingdom come', so also Zoroastrians long to establish the

kingdom of Ahura Mazda here below." She adds: "Taraporewala


rejected the translation of "kingdom" as giving a distinctly Christian color
to ancient Zoroastrian ideas: but this coloration seems in fact due to
Christianity having borrowed certain of these ideas from
Zoroastrianism." Boyce, A History of Zoroastrianism, Volume 1, page
209. Such a connection between the Kingdom of God and
renovation/resurrection is made abundantly clear in Y34.15
7. In the later Zoroastrian literature Khshathra is linked with metal but
nowhere in the Gathas does one find such a connection, even though
the word metal is mentioned twice there.

"...We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that
they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among
these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these
rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from
the consent of the governed;..."
The Declaration of Independence, by the Representatives of the United
States of America in Congress Assembled, July 4, 1776.

"We, the people...in order to...establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility,


provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the
blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this
Constitution for the United States of America."
Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America,September
17, 1787.

Sketches of Ahura Mazda


(Quotations from the Gathas)
(Insler translation)

"Thou who dost guard


truth and good thinking for eternity..."
Y28.11.

"...the Lord who art of the same temperament with the best truth..."
Y28.8.

"...He who is allied


with good thinking..."
Y32.2.

"...He is the decisive Lord..."


Y29.4.

"...the endeavors
of Him who rules at His wish."
Y43.8.

"...And do Thou give, Wise Ruler,


that promise
through which we may hear of
your solicitude (for us)."
Y28.7.

"...Be for us, Wise Lord,


the revealer of good thinking."
Y31.17

"...the Lord, Wise in His rule..."


Y51.6.

"...the most powerful Lord..."


Y28.5.

"...the Greatest One of all..."


Y45.6.

Selections from the Gathas


(Insler translation)

"Where shall there be


protection instead of injury?
Where shall mercy take place?
Where truth which attains glory?
Where virtuous [aramaiti]?
Where the very best thinking?
Where, Wise One,
through Thy rule?"
Y51.4.

"...One chooses that rule


of good thinking allied with truth
in order to serve...."
Y51.18.

"...the beneficent man...


he serves truth during his rule,
with good word and good action.
Such a person
shall be
Thy most welcome guest, Wise Lord."
Y31.22.

"Let those of good rule rule over us...


with actions stemming from
good understanding..."
Y48.5.

".Lord, grant...strength and the


rule of truth and good thinking,
by means of which one shall create
peace and tranquility..."
Y29.10.

"...By your rule, Lord,


Thou shalt truly heal this world
in accord with our wish."
Y34.15.

"...I choose (only) Thy teachings..."


Y46.3.

Editor's Note: A Question of Power.

At the Sixth North American Zoroastrian Congress (Toronto 1988), one of the
speakers electrified the audience by commenting that in Zoroastrian theology,
God, Ahura Mazda, was not all-powerful. Long after we had retrieved some of
the faithful from the ceiling of the banquet hall in which this comment was
made, it continued to raise questions and provoke discussion. And that is as it
should be.
Although the speaker's comment was based on a Pahlavi treatise1 written
many hundreds of years after Zarathushtra's time, and not on the Gathas, the
comment aroused my curiosity as to what Zarathushtra's view of the matter
might be, as reflected in the Gathas.
On the one hand, Zarathushtra refers to Ahura Mazda not only as "the
Mightiest" (Y33.11), "the Greatest One of all," (Y45.6), "the most powerful"
(Y28.5), and "above all others" (Y34.5), but also as "the decisive Lord" (Y29.4),
who "rules at will" (Y43.1). It would be reasonable to infer that if He "rules at
will" He is all-powerful, since, by definition to rule at will means the ability to do
whatever He wants, whenever He wants, to whomever He wants.
On the other hand, in all fairness to our controversial speaker, nowhere in
literal translations of the Gathas (as distinguished from interpretive
translations) does Zarathushtra specifically state that Ahura Mazda either is,
or is not, "ALL-powerful."
I think the answer to the question: "Did Zarathushtra consider Ahura Mazda to
be all-powerful?" depends on understanding how Zarathushtra defines divine
power. He does so (unconventionally as usual), in a number of ways. First,
divine power is not based on brute force. It is not coercive. God gives the
freedom to choose His rule and the values He represents.
"That good rule must be chosen which ... in alliance with truth, ... [will]
encompass the best (for us) through its actions...(Y51.1).
"...One chooses that rule of good thinking allied with truth in order to
serve..." (Y51.18).
Second, it is not despotic. Unquestioning obedience does not seem to interest
Him. It is a thinking obedience that He wants from us. When He instructs, or
even when he directs, the tool He uses is not fear or fiat, but reason.

"...May the Creator instruct through good thinking (the course) of my


direction, in order to be the charioteer of my will and my tongue." (Y50.6)
(Emphasis added).

Third, it is "unharmable."
"...thee, o truth, and good thinking and the Wise Lord, and (those others)
for whom [aramaiti] increases their unharmable rule." (Y28.3).
Truth and good thinking are the means by which God protects2 and
supports.3 This makes sense when you consider that in Zarathushtra's view
the "enemy" (from which protection is required) is what is false.4
In short the weapons in God's arsenal which He himself uses, and which he
offers to us, to wage war on violence, cruelty, anger and deceit, are
knowledge, truth and right, reason, and benevolent words and actions.5These
are the hallmarks of His good rule (vohu xshathra ). These are the sources of
divine power.6 In Zarathushtra's view there appears to be a direct correlation
between the amount of divine power one possesses and the extent to which
one has attained the immortal forces with which he defines the Wise
Lord.7 Since Ahura Mazda is the quintessence of these forces, if these forces
are the source of divine power, it would be reasonable to infer that Ahura
Mazda, in and of Himself, is all-powerful.
The concept of divine power, (good rule, vohu xshathra), like the benevolent
spirit, truth, good thinking and aramaiti, appears in the Gathas at both the
divine and human levels. At the human level it is reflected in a number of
ways. It includes the concept of good government8:
"Let those of good rule rule over us -- not those of evil rule -- with
actions stemming from good understanding ..." (Y 48.5).
As Zarathushtra points out, the rule of truth and good thinking create peace
and tranquility:
"Lord, grant...strength and the rule of truth and good thinking, by means
of which one shall create peace and tranquility [ramamca]..." (Y29.10).
And Zarathushtra notes that it is good to live in a place
"...where sovereignty is in the power of good thinking..."(Y46.15).
For those who govern, temporal power is a trust.9

Good rule, however, does not apply only to those who govern. Everyone
exercises some power in his day to day dealings with others. A child's actions
have the power to affect his parents. A clerk's actions have the power to affect
his employer. The actions of individuals have the power to affect Presidents.
The concept of good rule at the human level requires that each person
exercise whatever power he has to bring about the rule of truth and good
thinking here on earth. Although not a powerful person as the world defines
power (Y29.9, Y46.2), Zarathushtra made the commitment:
"...This very rule shall I now bring to realization for us."(Y51.1).
And he describes a good person as one who serves truth during his rule.
"...the beneficent man...He serves truth during his rule, with good word
and good action. Such a person shall be Thy most welcome guest, Wise
Lord."
But more than that, at the human level good rule, like the other values which
God represents, is a concept with which we are required to worship.
"...I shall always worship all of you, Wise Lord, with truth and the very
best thinking and with their rule through which one shall stand on the
path of (good) power..."(Y50.4).
But what does it mean, to worship with good rule on a day to day basis? Other
than not being coercive and despotic, how, specifically, does the average
person, someone who is not a President or a Governor, worship with good
rule? Yasna 51.4, a part of the Vohu Xshathra Gatha has some suggestions.
In that verse Zarathushtra, teaching as usual through questions (Y51.4-5,
Y44.7), lays out some of the components of good rule. He says:
"Where shall there be protection instead of injury? Where shall mercy
take place? Where truth which attains glory? Where ... [benevolent
service -- spenta aramaiti]? Where the very best thinking? Where, Wise
One, through Thy rule?" (Y51.4)
In short, we worship with rule on a day to day basis, by offering protection
instead of injury, by being merciful and compassionate, by questing for "truth
which attains glory", by loving service, and above all, by utilizing reason and
intelligence. A place where such values prevail would surely be God's
Kingdom.

It is an interesting paradox, that God's rule is brought to life and finds its
existence through the hearts and minds and hands of those who so worship
Him (Y47.1,Y31.6).
Does this interdependence -- the fact that His rule depends on us to bring it to
life as we depend on it to give us direction-- imply that He is not all-powerful? I
don't see it that way. If there is a unity of identity between man and God, this
interdependence is not so much a question of power, as it is a question of
completeness10 That is how I see it.
Dina G. McIntyre
The Editor.

Footnotes:

1. The speaker's comment was based on a piece of later Zoroastrian


literature, a Pahlavi text, Sikand Gumanik Vijar, believed to have been
written after the middle of the ninth century A.D. by a Zoroastrian
intellect of that time called Mardan Farokh. A translation of this text may
be found in Sacred Books of the East, Volume 24 (reprinted by Motilal
Banarsidas, India). Mardan Farok's premises, arguments, and
conclusions are inextricably tied to the subject of good and evil. Good
and Evil will be the subject of one of our future publications. I will
therefore not explore Mardan Farok's thoughts here.
2. "...Who has been found to be the protector of my cattle?* Who of me?
Who other than truth and Thee, Wise Lord, and the best thinking, ..."
(Y50.1). See also Y35.5.
* "Cattle" in the Gathas frequently is used as a metaphor for the
community of the faithful, just as "flock" or "sheep" are so used in the
New Testament. See for example, Insler, The Gathas of Zarathushtra,
("Insler" hereinafter), page 29, footnote 6.
3. "...I lament to Thee. Take notice of it, Lord, offering the support which a
friend should grant to a friend. Let me see the power of good thinking
allied with truth!" Y46.2
"...Wise One, (grant) to me Thy proper support, which a .... man...
should give to his friend, and which has been obtained through Thy rule
which is in accord with truth...." Y43.14.

4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

9.

See also Y49.1, Y49.12.


Y28.6, and Insler, page 25, footnote 6.
Y31.4, Y48.1, Y48.7-12.
Y47.1, Y31.4, Y46.2, Y48.7-12, Y50.9, Y51.17.
Y32.15, Y43.10, Y45.7, Y49.10, Y50.4, Y50.9.
There are no contemporary historical records available for
Zarathushtra's day (other than the evidence of the Gathas themselves).
We therefore have no hard evidence as to what forms of government
existed in those days, but Zarathushtra talks of kings and princes (kavi),
and in all likelihood, their governments were absolute monarchies, and
not democracies. Nevertheless, if Zarathushtra taught that a component
of God's rule is the freedom to choose that rule, it would be logical to
conclude that the ideal temporal rule is likewise one which governs with
the consent of the governed. It would be stretching it to suggest that
Zarathushtra advocated democracy as we know it today. In the case of
a monarchy, governing with the consent of the governed might be
obtained by a just and benevolent rule under which the people would be
content to live. But whatever the form of government, the fact remains
that Zarathushtra envisioned an ideal -- government with the consent of
the governed. If at the divine level, why not at the human level?
"Shameful are the many sins by which one attains fame.... fame is to
serve Thee and the truth, Wise One, under Thy rule." (Y32.6).

Zarathushtra could have been talking about 20th century earth.


10.
Y31.6, Y34.11.

"By unrighteousness, man prospers, gains what appears desirable, conquers


enemies but perishes at the root."
Mahabharata, quoted by S. Kadhakrishnan in the Foreward toA Flight of Swans,
(Poems from Balaka) by Rabindranath Tagore.

Volume 6

Haurvatat / Ameretat
Sketches of Ahura Mazda
Selections from the Gathas
Editor's Note: A Question of Reward.

Haurvatat and Ameretat


Professor K. D. Irani

Understanding these two concepts requires that their roles in the scheme of
the theological framework of the Gathas be
grasped. Haurvatat andAmeretat are members of that group that later came to
be called theAmesha-spenta. The six Amesha-spenta fall into three
functionally related pairs. The first is the pair of Vohu-mana and Asha; the
second ofKhshathra-vairya and Armaiti; and the third
of Haurvatat and Ameretat.
In the first pair, Asha represents the Truth or Right, and Vohu-mana, the good
mind, which is the capacity that can grasp the truth of a situation, i.e. the
appropriate state which ought to be, and also recognize whether that state is
present or absent in the concrete. The Truth grasped by the good-mind
becomes the Moral Imperative.
In the second pair, Khshathra-vairya, the Ideal Dominion, represents the ideal
society, and Armaiti refers to Benevolence or Piety, i.e. the inclination to do
the right. One can see that benevolent action as it becomes universal leads to
the ideal social structure; and the ideal society would call forth and reinforce
benevolent action.
The last pair, Haurvatat and Ameretat refer to the states of the individual who
has lived the good life. Specifically, Haurvatat refers to Well-being or
Perfection in this existence; and Ameretat refers to Immortal Bliss. It is the
analysis of these concepts with which we shall be concerned here. We shall

explore the several related senses of the terms and how they function in the
theological structure of the Gathas.
At this point let me digress into a brief discussion of the problem of
interpretation. Undoubtedly we start by trying to find the literal meanings of the
terms in the Gathic language by analysis in the complex system of phonemic
transformations of the Indo-European languages. But one must appreciate
that Zarathushtra uses these terms and concepts to express new ideas in a
totally innovative theology, which, being revelatory insights, are expressed in
the liberal syntax and semantics of inspired poetry.
In this theology Zarathushtra needs words to convey abstract concepts
embedded in a philosophic structure dealing with an area of human
consciousness hitherto completely dominated by mythological thinking.
In our attempts to grasp the theology of the Gathas we must, therefore,
explore how the terms have been used and metaphorically extended or
shifted to become concepts in the theology, and how they are to be
interpreted to elicit the senses of the various connections within the scheme
appearing in the verses.
It becomes apparent that the concepts of the Amesha-spentas are all multidimensional because they have diverse relations to each other. These were
probably developed by the Prophet at different times in the contexts of specific
sermons. In my view, our interpretations should be guided by a general grasp
of Zarathushtra's theological framework, which, though not presented in any
one location, emerges as a clear and consistent system from the totality of the
Gathas. So when we ascribe to Gathic terms senses in our language and
thought which fit contextually into the scheme of Gathic theology we have
confidence that we are approximating the philosophic vision even though it is
separated from us in culture and time by over three millennia.
In this spirit I suggest several related senses of Haurvatat and Ameretat in the
language and idiom of present-day thought.
The terms Haurvatat and Ameretat very frequently, but not invariably, appear
together. They are attributes applicable to both Divinity and Humanity. For
humans, the person who has lived by the Good-mind, with good words and
deeds in accordance with Truth shall receive Haurvatat and Ameretat. Thus
these are the consequential states for one who has lived the good life. The
plausibility of the double application is seen in Y47.1.

When Haurvatat and Ameretat appear as consequential states they are part of
the law of recompense, i.e. well-being in this life and salvation in the form of
immortal bliss are completely dependent on the moral character of one's life.
This is a simple statement of the principle of moral responsibility in salvation.
Yet it is significant in what, by implication, is rendered irrelevant to one's
salvation, e.g. rituals, pleas for mercy, intercession by holy, divine or semidivine agencies.
We can now turn to each concept by itself. Haurvatat means Wholeness or
Completeness in its literal sense. Scholars have provided other words to bring
out shades of meaning in various contexts, such as Well-being, Integrity,
Health, Happiness, Perfection. The more literal analogies may incline us to
"health" and "happiness", but the former is too physical a sense, and the latter,
too emotional for a term which obviously has spiritual components.
Although "wholeness" and "completeness" as used in ordinary language fail to
capture the clear spiritual sense, they do imply a full and integrated realization
of the self; however these implications appear clearer in the words "Integrity"
and "Perfection". Here Integrity is not to be understood in its usual reference
to character, but to a state of one's consciousness.
Following this line of thought, if we are looking at the self internally, i.e. at the
state of consciousness, the most suitable term would be Integrity. Here the
contrasting condition would be a state of divided self whose fractured aspects
are in conflict. Integrity in this sense has, of course, a component of
happiness or contentment, more appropriately, freedom from guilt, resentment,
and regret.
We may also look at the Self externally, where the appropriate sense
ofHaurvatat would be Well-being, including health and happiness. It is the
state of the individual who having acted rightly with benevolence (Armaiti) is in
peaceful and prosperous harmony with the world around him. If we combine
both the aspects, internal and external, the most suitable term might well be
Perfection.
In the Gathas a general view of these two concepts may be gleaned from
Y31.6.
"His is indeed the Best State who declares truly the message of holy
wisdom.
The message of perfection and eternity,

Of Mazda's Kingdom which flourishes through the Good mind." (Y31.6).


Here the attributes of Perfection and Eternity are attributable to Divinity as well
as Humanity.
In Y31.21 we receive the assurance:
"To him who is Thy true friend in spirit and in action, O Mazda Ahura,
To him shalt Thou give the perfection of integrity and immortality
In perpetual communion with Truth and Holy Authority,
And to him shalt Thou give the sustaining power of the Goodmind." (Y31.21).
Notice the connection between Integrity on the one hand and Truth and Goodmind on the other.
This connection appears again in Y33.8 where the Ultimate Good, the final
end, is brought about by the help of the Good-mind, with praise of Truth, and
receiving the blessings of Haurvatat and Ameretat. What does this connection
entail for the concept of Haurvatat?
Haurvatat is the state of the self where the mind has grasped the Truth and
acted accordingly. It is the realization of Good thought, word, and deed.
Maintaining this state of Integrity calls for insight into oneself and recognition
of the Truth of the situation one is in. When one fails to live in that way one
has lost the state of Haurvatat.
It is not always active, malicious evil that brings one to the state opposite
of Haurvatat. Frequently we lapse from Integrity when our motives, instead of
being focused on the rational demands of the situation, become clouded by
the unavowed hurts of past slights, the discontents of frustrated hopes, the
fears of faltering ambition. These corrupt our judgments and make us disguise
self-serving actions as manifestations of righteous intent, perhaps even as
achievements of worthy goals, often in the form of preserving for oneself the
power or opportunity to do good. But these are deceptive voices of selfinterest speaking within us. The Self in such situations gradually disintegrates
into a conflict of incompatible demands. It becomes a mask of deception, not
only to others but often to oneself. Such conduct looked at externally is
misrepresentation, but internally it is the anguish of the loss of Integrity.

Now turning to Ameretat, we see that literally it means immortality, a state of


deathlessness. Salvation, in many ancient religions, meant becoming
deathless. But in Gathic theology, the immortality of the soul is assumed;
therefore the blessing of Ameretat must be a special form of immortality.
Depending on the moral character of a particular life the soul achieves a state
of best consciousness, or presence in the Abode of Songs, if good; but
descent into the darkness of the House of the Lie, if evil. There are indications
in the Gathas of an explicit doctrine in later Zoroastrian theology that such
states of the soul continue until the final renovation when the taint of evil shall
be purged from all.
However till then there is a good and an evil state of the soul after life. In
Y30.11 one is told:
"O ye mortals, mark the commandments the Wise Lord has given for
happiness and for pain.
Long suffering for the doer of evil, and bliss for the follower of
Truth..."(Y30.11).
Again, in Y31.20:
"The follower of the righteous shall attain the Abode of Light. But for the
deceiver the future shall be a long life of misery, darkness and
woe..."(Y31.20).
The last line of this verse is quite telling, for in it is declared the principle that
the miserable existence of the wicked is a direct consequence of their actions:
"O ye of evil lives! Your own deeds will lead you to this dark
existence."(Y31.20).
According to Gathic theology this misery was initiated and brought upon
humanity by the spirit of Falsehood. In Y32.5:
"...And thus the Liars defrauded humanity of a life of happiness and
immortal bliss..."(Y32.5).
When the terms Haurvatat and Ameretat appear together, Ameretatalways
means immortal bliss, an extension and elaboration of the perfection
of Haurvatat into eternity. And in being so understood, not only are they the

consequences of the good life, they also act as inspirations for our ;moral
upliftment as in Y34.11:
"Thy twin spirits of Perfection and Immortality sustain our aspirations.
The zealous Armaiti with Truth shall assure the permanence of Thy
Kingdom of the Good-mind.
By these O Mazda, dost Thou inspire the foes of Thy foes."(Y34.11).
Gathic passages from the poetic translation of the Gathas by D. J. Irani.

Kaikhosrov D. Irani, 1989.

Professor Kaikhosrov Irani teaches philosophy at the City College of New


York. where he is a Professor Emeritus and past Chairman of the Department
of Philosophy. He is Director of the Academy of Sciences and Humanities of
the City University of New York, and a member of the Academy of Science in
New York, the American Philosophical Association, the Philosophy of Science
Association, and the American Academy of Religion. He has lectured in his
field at such institutes of higher learning as UCLA, the Universities of Michigan,
London, Goetingen, Vienna, Sweden, Finland, and Rome. He is a popular
lecturer at national and international conferences on the subject of
Zoroastrianism. He has studied the Gathas on his own for many years, and
relies primarily on the translations of Humbach, Insler, Mills, Bartholomae,
Taraporewala, and that of his father the late, great, Dinshaw Irani.

Sketches of Ahura Mazda


(Quotations from the Gathas)
(Insler translation)

"...Take notice of it, Lord,


offering the support

which a friend should grant to a friend.


Let me see
the power of good thinking allied
with truth!"
Y46.2.

"...In consequence of my insight


they have wished for
Thy powers, Wise One."
Y44.10.

"...That the soul of the truthful person


be powerful in immortality..."
Y45.7.

"...What (reward) of Thine


is to be sent by truth
to those who are... sincere ...?"
Y48.7

"...The person who, ...has


opposed the guilty gods and mortals... such a person, by reason of
his virtuous conception,
is an ally, a brother, or a father (of Thee), Wise Lord..."
Y45.11.

"Thee, Best One,...


do I lovingly entreat for the best...
the best for a whole lifetime
of good thinking."
Y28.8.

"... As He shall wish it,


so shall it be for us."
Y29.4.

Selections from the Gathas


(Insler translation)

"...those who are yoked with truth


have yoked their conceptions
on the best prize..."
Y49.9.

"...Grant ye all to me...


that wish for the desirable condition which is said to exist
under thy rule."
Y43.13.

"...happiness has been lost to the deceitful who violate truth..."


Y53.6.

"...at the end, the worst existence


shall be for the deceitful
but the best thinking
for the truthful person."
Y30.4.

"Heavenliness
shall be the future possession
of him who shall
come to a truthful person..."
Y31.20.

"...the... judgment ...


shall bring to realization
the most just actions for the deceitful
as well as for the truthful man,
and for the person
for whom falsity and honesty
are held to be indifferent."
Y33.1

"...(But) in due course,


[aramaiti] shall come to terms
with one's spirit
where there has been opposition."
Y31.12.

Editor's Note: A Question of Reward.

Conventional descriptions of heaven, in my view, are all singularly


uninteresting. They tend to make one think, with delight, of George Bernard
Shaw's comment that all the most interesting people are probably to be found
in the other place.
However, the conceptions of "reward", "heaven", "hell" et cetera, in the
Gathas, was for me an exciting discovery -- quite different from the
"conventional wisdom" on the subject. Part of the excitement, however, lies in

the process of puzzling over the text, and discovering Zarathushtra's ideas for
oneself. And on this subject, as on so many Gathic subjects, opinions differ.
I therefore thought it might be more interesting for you to undertake the
treasure hunt on your own, and decide for yourself what conclusions you may
come up with. To that end, I have crafted this Editor's Note in the form of a
puzzle. It contains verses from the Gathas and questions. Study the verses
and jot down your answers to each question. If you have trouble with any
verse or question, don't get up-tight, skip it and go on to the next. When you
are done, let your mind play over the questions and your answers. Then
decide for yourself what your answer might be to the ultimate question: What
is the Zarathushtrian heaven?
And may His benevolent spirit attend you with good thinking. (Y43).

The Puzzle:
I. Of Means and Ends.
1. What are the rewards of truth?
(a) "...then...shall the rule of good thinking be at hand in order to be
announced to those, Lord, who shall deliver deceit into the hands of
truth." Y30.8.
Answer: ______________________

(b) "Give, o truth, this reward, namely the attainments of good


thinking..." Y28.7.
Answer: ______________________

2. What are the rewards of good thinking?

(a) "Truth, shall I see thee as I continue to acquire both good thinking
and the way to the Lord?..." Y28.5.
Answer: _______________________

(b) "Lord of broad vision, disclose to me for support the safeguards of


your rule which are the reward for good thinking..." Y33.13.
Answer: _______________________

3. What does His good rule consist of?


(a) "But to this world He came with the rule of good thinking and of truth,
and (our) enduring [aramaiti] gave body and breath to it..." Y30.7.
Answer: _______________________

4. What are the rewards of truth and good thinking?


(a) "...Virtuous is truth and the rule of good thinking. The Wise Lord
created this, (and) I shall entreat Him for this good reward." Y51.21.
Answer: _______________________

(b) "Therefore, those whom Thou dost know, Wise Lord, to be just and
deserving in conformity with truth and good thinking, for them do Thou
fulfill their longing with these attainments..." Y28.10.
Answer: _______________________

5. What are the rewards of truth and aramaiti (piety, benevolent service)?

(a) "Since thou, truth, didst arise among the noteworthy children and
grandchildren of Friyana the Turanian, the one who prospered his
creatures with the zeal of [aramaiti], therefore did the Wise Lord unite
them with good thinking, in order to announce Himself to them for their
support." Y46.12.
Answer _______________________

6. If we define spenta aramaiti as benevolent service (bringing to life the rule


of truth and good thinking by our understanding, our good words and good
deeds) what are the rewards or consequences of aramaiti?
(a) "...Reveal to me, by reason of my [spenta aramaiti] those conceptions
in harmony with truth." Y33.11.
Answer _______________________

(b) "Therefore do Thou reveal to me the truth, which I continue to


summon. Being in companionship with [aramaiti] I have deserved it. And
counsel us..." Y43.10.
Answer _______________________

(c) "... By reason of my [aramaiti], grant this to me: the rewards of ... a
life of good thinking." Y43.1.
Answer _______________________

(d) "The Wise Lord...shall give the permanence of good thinking's


alliance to him, the one who is His ally in spirit and actions." Y31.21.
Answer _______________________

(e) "I who shall [praise] all of you as never before -- thee, o truth, and
good thinking and the Wise Lord...for whom [aramaiti] increases their
unharmable rule..." Y28.3.
Answer _______________________

7. What do the above questions and answers tell you about the means and
the end? Clue:
"When I might call upon truth, the Wise One and the other lords shall
appear; also reward and [aramaiti]..." Y31.4.
"All ye (immortals) of the same temperament..." Y51.20.
Answer _______________________

II Salvation (another word for reward).


1. To Zarathushtra, what does salvation consist of?
(a) "All ye (immortals) of the same temperament, let that salvation of
yours be granted to us: truth allied with good thinking! (We shall offer)
words allied with [benevolent service], while worshipping with
reverence ...the Wise One who offers support (to us)." Y51.20.
Answer _______________________

2. For whom is salvation the reward?


(a) "...Instruct us to those paths of good thinking, easy to travel in
alliance with truth." Y34.12
"...when [you] learn (there is) both a way of easy access and one with no
access, as well as long destruction for the deceitful but salvation for the
truthful, then each one (of you) shall abide by all these commandments.
Wish it so." Y30.11.

Answer _______________________

(b) "Therefore, let us reverently give an offering to Thee, Lord, and to


truth, all of us creatures under Thy rule whom one has nourished with
good thinking. Indeed let salvation be granted to the beneficent man by
all those among your kind, Wise One!" Y34.3.
Answer _______________________

III. The Prize (another word for reward).


1. What is the "prize" the reward for?

(a) "... This prize has been promised to you during the times of salvation
by reason of your good thinking and truth." Y51.15.
Answer _______________________

(b) "For that prize... Wise One, has been established (for those) who,
through their action stemming from good thinking, indeed exist in the
community of the [good vision] as they further the good understanding
of your will with truth, Lord, throughout the (whole) community." Y 34.14.
Answer _______________________

2. What does this "prize" consist of? What is the "prize"?


(a) "...those who are yoked with truth have yoked their conceptions on
the best prize..." Y49.9.
Answer _______________________

(b) "What prize Zarathushtra previously promised to his adherents -- into


that House of Song did the Wise One come as the first one..." Y51.15.
Answer _______________________

IV. Heaven (another word for reward).


"Heaven" is variously described in the Gathas as the "House of Song" (Y51.15,
Y50.4), and the "House of Good Thinking" (Y32.15); and "Hell" as the "House
of Worst Thinking" (Y32.13) and the "House of Deceit" (Y49.11).
1. Is the word "House" used in a metaphoric sense? And if so, what is it a
metaphor for?
"...the long-lived rule of good thinking and the paths, straight in accord
with truth, wherein the Wise Lorddwells." Y33.5.
"...Thou dost guard in Thy house this good thinking,..." Y49.10.
"When I might call upon truth, the Wise One and the other lords [good
thinking and good rule] shall appear; also reward and [aramaiti]...Y31.4.
"...I shall call upon those [amesha spenta]whom Thou, Wise Lord, hast
assembled in Thy abode." Y46.14.
"...I shall always obey (you), the truly sincere ones [amesha spenta]
existing in the House of Song." Y50.4.
Answer _______________________

2. To Zarathushtra were "heaven" and "hell" geographic places? physical


locations? or something else?
"...at the end, the worst existence shall be for the deceitful but the best
thinking for the truthful person." Y30.4.
"...But the deceitful man shall have his share apart from Thy approval...."
Y47.5.

"Heavenliness shall be the future possession of him who shall come to a


truthful person.... But a long lifetime of darkness... woe -- to such an
existence shall your conception, along with its corresponding actions,
lead you, ye deceitful ones." Y31.20.
Answer _______________________

V. Completeness (Haurvatat) and Immortality (Ameretat )(another term for


reward?)

1. What are completeness and immortality the rewards for?


(a) "...Those of you who shall give obedience and regard to this (Lord) of
mine, they shall reach completeness and immortality. The Wise One is
Lord through such actions stemming from good spirit." Y45.5.
Answer _______________________

(b) "Because those who are alive, and those who have been, and those
who shall be, shall seek after the salvation that comes from Him, the
One who offers solicitude. That the soul of the truthful person be
powerful in immortality, that woes beset the deceitful men in an
enduring fashion -- these things, too, did the Wise Lord create by reason
of His rule." Y45.7.

2. And who do the rewards of immortality and completeness benefit?


(a) "...Those of you who shall give obedience and regard to this (Lord) of
mine, they shall reach completeness and immortality..." Y45.5.
Answer _______________________

(b) "I shall...glorify Him... with prayers of [aramaiti]. Him, the Lord who is
famed to be Wise in His soul. Whatever one has promised to Him with
truth and with good thinking is to be completeness and immortality for

Him under His rule, is to be these two enduring powers for Him in His
House.
Answer _______________________

(c) "Through a virtuous spirit and the best thinking, through both the
action and the word befitting truth, they shall grant completeness and
immortality to Him. The Wise One in rule is Lord through [aramaiti]."
Y47.1.
Answer _______________________

(d) "Yes, both completeness and immortality are for Thy sustenance.
Together with the rule of good thinking allied with truth, (our) [aramaiti]
has increased these two enduring powers (for Thee)...." Y34.11.
Answer _______________________

(e) "If, during the times after this (present) one which is under the
workings of evil, one shall defeat deceit by truth, ... for the sake of
immortality, then one shall increase Thy glory, Lord, during those times
of salvation." Y48.1.
Answer _______________________

VI. Points to ponder:


"The best shall be for him, the knowing man, who shall tell me the real
precept concerning the truth of His completeness and immortality: 'Such
is the rule for the Wise One that one shall increase it for Him through
good thinking.' " Y31.6.
"Because of these things [evil actions referred to in preceding verses],
the class of Karpans [a type of priest] is disappearing, and the Kavis

[princes], along with those they ensnare. They shall not be brought to
those who rule over life at will in the House of Good Thinking." Y32.15.
"Wise One, Thou dost guard in Thy house this good thinking, and the
souls of the truthful ones,..."Y49.10.
"...When I could rule at will over my reward, then I would, exercising
such power, be in the stride of the blessed one." Y50.9.

VII. What is the Zarathushtrian heaven?

Answer. ______________________.

"Oh brother,
Do you know where heaven is?
It has no beginning, it has no end,
Nor is it any country. .....
In my heart
Heaven finds her home,
And in my songs
Her melodies..."
Rabindranath Tagore,
A Flight of Swans, (Poems from Balaka, No. 24), translated from the Bengali
by Aurobindo Bose).

"...Mingling darkness with light


You have created your earth;
To that earth you send me

Empty handed......
You command me to transform it
into heaven..."
Rabindranath Tagore,
A Flight of Swans, (Poems from Balaka, No. 28), translated from the Bengali
by Aurobindo Bose).

Volume 7

Fire, Athra
Love of Truth in Ancient Iran
Fire (Athra) and the Fiery Test
Sketches of Ahura Mazda
Selections from the Gathas
Editor's Note: Truth, Fire, Reincarnation and Assorted Reflections

Athra, Fire in the Gathas of Zarathushtra.


Dr. Lovji Cama

Why Fire.
For Zoroastrians, fire is the symbol of their religion. Almost all religious
ceremonies are performed in the presence of fire, which may be a
permanently consecrated fire of an Atash Behram or Atash Aderan or that
which is consecrated for the occasion. Fire holds the central place in a
Zoroastrian temple and the worship of God is performed in front of it. The

permanently consecrated fires are objects of great reverence and the physical
fire is treated as a living being and is referred to as Atash Padshah (king) by
the priests in present practice.
When a physical object becomes such a powerful and respected symbol, it
becomes necessary to know exactly the meaning of the symbol. For example,
does the consecrated fire represent God? Does it represent a particular
aspect of God? Does it represent a connection between the spiritual and
physical world?
Fire as a physical object gives out heat and light. If hot enough, it can
consume all organic matter, converting it into invisible gasses, and is able to
transform most inorganic matter. Because of these properties fire can be a
symbol of illumination with all the meanings of the word. For example, that
which drives away darkness -- evil, that which enlightens with knowledge, et
cetera. Or it can be a symbol of that which provides comfort (warmth) or that
which makes life possible by providing energy (heat). It can also be a symbol
of a power that can destroy by consuming or changing, by selectively
destroying evil it can be a symbol of a purifying agency.
Long before Zarathushtra preached his message, fire was part of the religious
observances of the Indo-Aryan society into which he was born. It was used
during various rituals and sacrifices and was an ancient religious symbol. It is
still used as part of rituals in many religions not only those arising from IndoAryan origins but also others. Yet only in Zoroastrianism is it such a powerful
and respected symbolic object.

Analysis.
Whatever fire may have symbolized before Zarathushtra, for us Zoroastrians it
is imperative to know what the prophet meant when he used the word fire, and
what contexts he used it in. That can only be done by a study of the Gathas.
The word fire, Athra or its cognate Atrem, Athre, Athras, Athro and Athri occur
in the Gathas in Yasna 31.3, 31.19, 34.4, 43.4, 43.9, 46.7, 47.6, and 51.9. It is
by a study of these verses that I have tried to understand the meaning of the
word Athra as used by Zarathushtra.
I have relied mainly on two translations of the Gathas -- that of Dr. Irach
J.Taraporewala, through which I first became familiar with the Gathas and that
of Dr. Stanley Insler. Taraporewala gives a literal translation of each verse

and accompanies it with a free English translation. I have generally relied on


the first, since the latter is often colored (often beautifully) by the personal
leanings of the author. Fortunately for this study the two translations are not
very divergent in this area, and I have quoted from one or the other depending
on my personal preference. Gathic words such as the names of the Amesha
Spenta have no one English word to describe them fully. Previous essays in
this series have been exclusively devoted to the discussion of the Amesha
Spentas, so I have usually left them untranslated.
I have also used for comparison the translations of Dastur Framroz Bode &
Piloo Nanavutty, of Mr. T.R. Sethna, and of Professor Christian Bartholomae
as given in Dr. Taraporewala's book "The Divine Songs of Zarathushtra".
Since I am not a linguist, and have not studied Avesta, I cannot comment on
any translation except to say that it makes sense to me or not. This present
effort therefore is to be regarded as the personal journey of a lay Zoroastrian
in trying to understand from the prophet's words the meaning of a physical
symbol that is identified with the religion.
Before proceeding to look at each verse in detail let us see how the
wordAthra is understood by the various authors. Taraporewala regards it as
the Divine Inner Fire in the hearts of all mankind placed there by God. Insler
associates it with truth (Asha). Bode & Nanavutty regard it as the Flaming Fire
of Thought.
In every passage where it appears Zarathushtra refers to it as Thy Fire,
clearly associating it with God. Thus in the Gathas, Fire appears to be an
agency or faculty of Ahura Mazda. Now to understand the nature of this
agency or faculty it is necessary to have a detailed look at the verses in which
the word appears.
Yasna 31.3.
"What Thou bestowest through (thy) spiritual Fire and the bliss
(attainable) through Asha Thou hast promised to both parties, (and )
what the Law (is) for (those) rich in discernment, that unto us, O Mazda,
declare for our own enlightenment, with words from Thine Own mouth,
so that I may ever convert the living (into the Right Path).(Taraporewala
translation).

Zarathushtra is asking Ahura Mazda to reveal to him exactly what the just
reward will be to the two parties (truthful and deceitful), which will be delivered
through the agency of His Fire and through Asha. This knowledge will help

him in converting the living to the Righteous Path. According to Zarathushtra,


then, God's Fire is the agency which delivers the just rewards to the two
parties. Note here the association with Asha.
Yasna 31.19.
"Who giveth ear to and realizes Asha, (becomes) the soul-Healing Lord
of Wisdom, O Ahura; (in the matter) of words regarding the true doctrine
(he shall be) capable (and) eloquent of tongue; through Thy radiant Fire,
O Mazda(their) destinies do Ye assign to both the parties."(Taraporewala
translation).

Again in this verse Zarathushtra refers to the Divine Fire as the agency that
assigns the destiny of those who are righteous and those who are not so. The
last line of this verse (through thy radiant Fire...) belongs more with the next
verse (Y31.20) than with the preceding lines because Yasna 31.20 specifies
the rewards or destinies of the two parties.
Yasna 31.20 translates:
"Who follows the Righteous (teacher), the Light shall henceforth (be) his
abode; (but to long ages of darkness, to light obscure, to words of woe,
the wicked to such life indeed, their own self (Daena) shall lead through
their own deeds." (Taraporewala translation).
Yasna 34.4
"And for Thy Fire, O Ahura, mighty through Asha, do we yearn earnestly
to be desired, possessing power, giving clear help to the Faithful
constantly; but, O Mazda, as regards the Unfaithful (He) sees through
the evil at the merest glance." (Taraporewala translation). (Taraporewala translation).
"Now, we wish Thy fire, Lord, which possesses strength through truth
and which is the swiftest, forceful thing, to be of clear help to Thy
supporter but of visible harm, with the powers in its hands, to Thy
enemy, Wise One." (Insler translation).
This verse is used in the Atash Niyaesh at the end of the main Avesta portion.
There are three other verses from the Gathas in the Atash Niyaeshbut they do
not refer to fire. Here we learn quite quickly about the power and ability
of Athra as conceived by Zarathushtra. Clearly the might ofAthra is derived
from Asha. Athra constantly helps the Faithful. Notice the words "clear help".

The kind of help Athra gives, is clear, i.e. free from impediment, restriction or
hindrance; easily perceived by the eye, ear or mind; free from confusion or
doubt. Thus the Divine Fire clears the path of the Faithful from impediments
placed there by the Unfaithful and lights the way of the Faithful on the Right
Path.
Athra also has the power of not being deceived by evil. Finally, we learn that
the Divine Fire is something to be desired by mankind.
Yasna 43.4.
"Thus, moreover, may I recognize Thee (as) Full of Power, O Mazda, and
as Divine, when through that Power which (is) Thine, Thou dost fulfill
(our) longings, when Thou bestowest rewards upon the Follower of
Untruth as also upon the Righteous; through the inspiration of Thy Fire,
mighty through Asha, the Strength of Vohu Mano shall then come to
me." (Taraporewala translation).
"Yes, I shall (truly) realize Thee to be both brave and virtuous, Wise One,
if Thou shalt help me (now) with the very hand with which Thou dost
hold those rewards Thou shalt give, through the heat of Thy truth-strong
[Asha-strong] fire, to the deceitful and to the truthful, and also if the
force of good thinking [Vohu Mano] shall come to me."(Insler translation).
Again, Athra is the agency that deriving its power from Asha gives the just
rewards to the two parties. But there is a further clarification. That agency is
referred to as the Hand of Ahura Mazda (Insler) and the Power of Ahura
Mazda which actively works to help the Faithful, in this case Zarathushtra.
Yasna 43.9.
"(As) Divine indeed, O Mazda have I recognized Thee, OAhura, when
through (Vohu) Mano, Good entered within me; of him I asked, "Unto
whom thou wishest (me) to pay (my) utmost worship?" Thenceforth unto
Thy Fire the offering of (my) homage (I will pay) (and) I will
esteem Ashaabove all, as long as I am able." (Taraporewala translation).
"Yes, I have already realized Thee to be virtuous, Wise Lord, when he
attended me with good thinking [Vohu Mano]. To his question, "Whom
dost thou wish to serve?" I then replied: "Thy fire. As long as I shall be
able, I shall respect that truth [Asha] is to have a gift of reverence."(Insler
translation).

A question is asked by Vohu Mano of Zarathushtra (Taraporewala) or by


Zarathushtra of Spenta Mainyu (Insler) as to whom Zarathushtra should pay
his homage. The answer is, to the Divine Fire. Following that is a line that
again couples Asha with Athra.
Insler in a note to this line says:
"Fire was considered to be a manifestation of truth [Asha]. Therefore worship
of the fire was worship of truth." Insler, The Gathas of Zarathushtra, page 63,
footnote 9.
Taraporewala, also with reference to the same line says:
"The Physical fire has always represented symbolically the Inner Spiritual Fire,
the son of Ahura Mazda (Atars puthra Ahurahe Mazda, Yasna 62.1). In later
Pahlavi Theology the Holy Immortal Asha Vahishta (Ardibehest) is identified
with the Sacred Fire. In fact among the Parsi Zoroastrians of India today the
name Ardibehest is used as a synonym for Fire. This passage clearly shows
how this idea originated." Taraporewala,The Divine Songs of Zarathushtra,
page 433.
Both translators essentially give the same explanation that homage toAthra is
homage to Asha.
Yasna 46.7.
"Whom, O Mazda, hast Thou appointed Protector over one like me, when
the follower of Untruth sets himself against me with violence, (whom)
other than Thy Fire and (ThyVohu) Mano? Through the working of these
two (Thy) Eternal Law is fulfilled, O Ahura; this sacred lore do Thou
declare to me for (my) Inner Self." (Taraporewala translation).
This verse is the beginning of the Kemna Mazda prayer familiar to all
Zoroastrians as part of the Kushti ritual. In the Gathas this verse is addressed
by Zarathushtra to Ahura Mazda at a time of his life when he had been
rejected by all levels of his society and had to flee to escape physical harm by
one of the deceitful ones. It is fairly obvious from this passage that
Zarathushtra regards Athra, the Divine Fire, along with Vohu Mano as his
protector from physical harm. We see one more dimension ofAthra here i.e.
the ability to prevent physical harm to the Faithful.

Yet another idea appears here. We have seen before that Athra is mighty
through Asha (the Eternal Law), i.e. Athra works towards the ultimate destiny
of creation, which is the final and total destruction of evil. Here we see two
complementary and interacting agencies in the Gathas, that has been pointed
out in earlier essays in this series. Thus Ahura Mazda's Fire is an agency that
is complementary to Asha, deriving power from Asha and working towards the
fulfillment of Asha.
Yasna 47.6.
"These (things), O Mazda Ahura, dost Thou grant through (Thy) Holy
Spirit, through (Thy) Fire shall be determined the destiny of the two
parties; through the advancement ofAramaiti and Asha, She Herself
shall draw (into her fold) many Seekers." (Taraporewala translation).
If we read this verse alone then what it says as regards Athra is the same as
what we have seen in the previous verses, i.e. Athra delivers the just rewards
to the two parties, in fact Zarathushtra uses here almost exactly the same
words used in Yasna 31.19. However if we see the preceding verse we see
that the two are complementary and a further understanding of Athra is
possible. Yasna 47.5 is as follows:
"And those (things) through (Thy) Holy Spirit, O Mazda Ahura, hast Thou
promised to the Righteous, even all those (things) that (are) the Best;
the follower of Untruth shall partake of (his) reward (removed) from Thy
Love, absorbed by his own actions inspired by the Evil Mind."(Taraporewala
translation). (Taraporewala translation).

The above verse indicates that Ahura Mazda has promised through His Holy
Spirit the proper rewards for the two parties. What has been promised must
be granted at the proper time and in Yasna 47.6 we see that the agency that
does the granting is Ahura Mazda 's fire, Athra. Thus Athra is Ahura Mazda
(Asha, Vohu Mano, and/or Spenta Mainyu) in action in the world of man,
helping him to fulfill the true destiny of creation and meeting out the proper
rewards for those who help fulfill and those who hinder fulfillment.
Yasna 51.9
"The reward which Thou bestowest on both parties through Thy blazing
fire, O Mazda, through the Fiery Test (this) doth lead to (Thy) granting an
indication for (our inner) Lives; that the Untruthful shall have frustration
and the Truthful shall have blessings." (Taraporewala translation).

"The satisfaction which Thou shalt give to both factions through Thy
pure fire and the molten iron, Wise One, is to be given as a sign among
living beings, in order to destroy the deceitful and to save the
truthful." (Insler translation). (Insler translation).
In this the last verse in the Gathas where Athra appears, Zarathushtra again
repeats the now familiar statement regarding Athra. That it is the agency
through which Ahura Mazda bestows the rewards (satisfaction) to the two
parties. In this verse alone is it coupled with the molten metal or fiery test,
which according to later theology is supposed to purify creation and rid it of all
evil at the final judgment. The fact that the just rewards will be bestowed and
evil (the deceitful) will be destroyed is to be held as a warning to all the living.

Conclusion.
We have now finished looking at all instances where Athra is mentioned in the
Gathas and we will try and summarize what we have gathered.
First, Athra is an agency or faculty or aspect of Ahura Mazda, moreover it is
an active agency, unlike the Amesha Spentas which are ideas or desirable
qualities. The most obvious action of Athra is to bestow the just rewards to the
deceitful and the truthful, at the time of the judgment of the soul. In this
activity Athra is undeceivable by those who are evil, in other words the evil
cannot escape the consequences of their action. Athraderives power
from Asha (right and truth) and works with Vohu Manotowards the fulfillment
of Asha (order) and therefore the final victory of good over evil. Athra gives
constant and clear help to the faithful, this help is always there and it is a clear
guidance, easily perceived by the truthful, in that sense Athra illuminates or
reveals the path of Asha. Not only doesAthra give guidance and help to the
truthful, it also protects them from physical harm that is intended or caused by
the deceitful. In Yasna 46.7 Zarathushtra specifically says so. Again in Yasna
43.4 Athra is referred to as the power or hand of Ahura Mazda, and
Zarathushtra asks for help from this very hand. In Yasna 34.4 we learn
that Athra is to be earnestly desired and in Yasna 43.9 we learn that Athra is
worthy of homage (great respect or honor, Webster's II) as is Asha.
What then is the concept of Athra, God's Fire? To me it is God in action in the
world of man, guiding, illuminating, protecting those who use their good
thinking to understand Asha then work towards its fulfillment and also meeting
out the true rewards to those who promote Asha and those who frustrate Asha.

Athra is God meeting out justice, that is, ensuring the just consequences of
man's action in this world. Athra is also God bringing about the final
purification at the time of final judgment, at Frashokereti.Athra is God, actively
helping man to fulfil his good destiny.
We often state that Zoroastrianism is a difficult religion to follow, because so
great is man's responsibility in the scheme of things. In Zoroastrianism man is
the co-worker with God. Not only does his personal salvation depend on his
understanding and his actions but so does the salvation of the entire creation.
That is a fairly tall order for an individual who can be weak at times and can
be threatened, and who may need help. In spite of a person being good and
trying his best to live the good life, there will be times when evil will threaten,
when forces clearly out of a person's control will try to destroy or hurt. It is at
such times that man looks for help from God. It is a comfort to know that in
Zarathushtra's scheme of things, God does help, and that help is Athra.
Zarathushtra himself invokes it in Yasna 46.7. Yet one point needs to be
clarified, the nature of the help and how it is given. We are told that Athra is
mighty through Asha (Y34.4) and Athraworks with Vohu Mano to
fulfill Asha and together they will protect against the machinations of the evil
(Y46.7). First it seems that the help that Athragives is reserved for the person
who acts in accordance with Asha, I would even say that it is proportional to
the extent that a person acts that way. This is my understanding of the
statement that Athra is mighty throughAsha. Secondly the help that comes
through Athra has to be in accordance with Asha, i.e. it cannot violate the
natural order. Thus one cannot expect miracles. Neither can Athra help
protect the person who acts without Vohu Mano, i.e. irrationally.
If in Zoroastrianism Athra is God in action in the world of man, then the
physical consecrated fire, which is the object of reverence, must be regarded
as a symbol of the presence of God in our world. It would then make sense to
keep the fire ever-burning because extinguishing it would be a symbolic denial
of God's presence in our world. Worship in front of it would be acknowledging
that one is worshipping God. Reverence and respect to fire in a temple would
be the logical consequence of realizing what it stands for.
Dr. Lovji Cama, 1990.

Dr. Lovji Cama has a Bachelor's Degree from Bombay University, India, and
earned a doctrate in chemistry from Columbia University, New York. He has
worked with Merck & Co. Inc. of Rahway, New Jersey, since 1969 as a

research scientist. He was a founding member of the Zoroastrian Association


of Greater New York (ZAGNY) and was one of its past presidents. He has
organized the religious education classes for ZAGNY since 1973 and teaches
a three year course in Zoroastrian History. He has studied the Gathas on his
own for a number of years first using the translation of Taraporewala, but now
also relies on the Insler translation, and he is indebted to Professor K.D. Irani
for many helpful discussions and explanations, though not on this essay. He
has lectured on subjects of Zoroastrianism in New York, London and India.

The Love of Truth in Ancient Iran.


Dr. Stanley Insler
Yale University

Herodotus, the Greek historian who was a contemporary of the great King
Darius of ancient Iran, wrote in his remarkable history that the Persians
esteemed the truth above all things. He went on to say, speaking with great
respect, that the Persians hold it unlawful to speak of anything which is
unlawful to do, and according to their thinking, the most disgraceful thing in
the world is to tell a lie. This veneration of the truth among the ancient Iranians
was indeed their most noteworthy feature, and throughout the history of the
land, there was not a single foreigner who came to visit or to live among them
who was not strikingly impressed by the love and respect of truth in that
country. Through the passage of centuries, in the works of Greeks, Chinese,
Indians and Arabs, this love and respect for the truth is mentioned endless
times as perhaps the remarkable trait of all Iranians.
What these foreign visitors wrote was no myth, no embroidery upon hearsay
or rumor, no pipe dream of their own arising from the lack of ethic or moral
principles in their own countries. Recent evidence has shown us that truth was
indeed associated with the spirit and life of the ancient Persians in such an
intimate fashion that we ourselves today must take serious note of the
honored and important role it played in their world. I am referring here to the
archaeological records unearthed during the past few decades in the
excavations at Persepolis in Iran.

These records are naturally of great interest to the economic and political
scholar because they represent the accounts of the different sorts of wares
and products stored at the treasury and fortress of the Achaemenid kings,
those royal rulers who founded and maintained a vast and powerful empire
throught the Near East that endured from the 6th through the 4th century B.C.
But, to cultural and religious scholars these records from Persepolis offer
equal fascination, chiefly because the tablets containing these economic
records are also accompanied by the names of the officials who were in
charge of these.
inventories and their distribution. There are some 1,500 such names
contained in the tablets -- names not of kings or princes, nor priests and
judges: simply names of minor officials and clerks who oversaw the wares in
the storehouses. Herein lies their importance: they give us a glimpse into the
social constituency of the common people, much as the names contained in
the old records of towns and villages allow us to see the composition and
character of the society of early communities.
Remarkably, more than 75 of these names contain the word truth. We
encounter men called 'Protector of truth' (artapana), 'Lover of truth' (artakama),
'Truth-minded' (artamanah), 'Possessing the splendor of truth' (artafarnah),
'Delighting in truth' (artazusta), 'Pillar of truth (artastuna), 'Prospering the truth'
(artafrada), 'Having the nobility of truth' (artahunara), in addition to a variety of
others of similar composition. When we look further and find other fellows are
named 'Strong as a horse' (aspaugra), 'Sweet smelling' (hubaodi), 'Little hero'
(viraka), 'Having good fame' (usavah), 'Winning a good prize' (humizda), and
the like we realize at once how singular are the names containing the word
truth.
By this I intend the following. If the majority of other names are built with
elements signifying horses, heroes, fame, wealth, prizes, good fortune and all
those other desirable things which parents wish for their children when they
are born, then the great many truth-names show us that there were many
parents who believed it was more important for their children to love the truth,
uphold the truth, prosper the truth, delight in the truth, and so forth, rather than
to simply seek after material benefits in this world. The name chosen by
parents for their children often expresses a wish, and the predominance of
truth-names among the Old Persian officials reveals how deep-seated was the
wish and respect for truth over all things even among families of humble
origins.

But it was not only the common man who so dearly esteemed the truth among
the ancient Persians. It was also the great Achaemenid kings themselves who
expressed their love and admiration for the truth and their thorough despise of
lie and deceit, exactly as Herodotus informs us. On the great inscription of
Bisotun, the magnificent King Darius incised the following words with imposing
solemnity:
"The Lie made these provinces rebellious, so that they deceived the people.
But afterwards Ahura Mazda placed them into my hand... Thou who shalt be
king hereafter, protect thyself vigorously from Deceit. Punish well the man
who shall lie and deceive, if thou shalt hope to keep the country secure...
Know that I did this by the favor of Ahura Mazda, who bore me assistance
because I was not aggressive, because I was not a follower of deceit,
because I was not a doer of wrong -- neither I nor my family. I conducted
myself as befits the truth. Neither to the weaker nor to the powerful did I do
wrong... Thou who shalt be king hereafter, do not be a friend to the follower of
deceit nor to the doer of wrong. Punish them well."
Similarly on another of his inscriptions stand these noble words:
"By the grace of Ahura Mazda I delight in what is right; I do not delight in what
is false. It is not my desire that the weak should be mistreated by the mighty,
nor that the mighty be treated wrongly by the weak. What is right and truthful
is my desire."
Lastly, let us quote the following statement in an inscription of King Xerxes:
"If you wish to be happy when living and blessed when dead, have respect for
the law established by Ahura Mazda and worship him and truth reverently.
The man who has respect for the law established by Ahura Mazda and
worships him and the truth reverently, such a man becomes happy while living
and blessed when he is dead."
These solemn words of the Old Persian kings are but an echo of the
teachings of the more ancient prophet Zarathushtra. In his stirring works
called the Gathas, we find the important thought that
"If a man be rich or poor, he should be a friend to the truthful person but
an enemy to the follower of deceit and lies." (Y47.4).
There too we learn that heavenliness and immortality shall be the future
possession of those who support the truthful in this world, but that a lifetime of

darkness and a woeful existence shall be the final reward of the deceitful
person . Further, Zarathushtra tells us, that a man who is good to the truthful
person and serves the laws of Ahura Mazda shall himself reach the pastures
of truth and good thinking, and save his family and his village and his country
from destruction. In fact, when we read through the great words of the prophet,
we realize that truth lies at the center of his whole moral and ethical system,
so it therefore seems necessary to briefly describe the position of truth in
Zarathushtra's teachings.
First and foremost we see in the prophet's work that there is an intimate
relationship between god and truth. Not only does Ahura Mazda dwell in the
heights of truth and in the paths which follow the straight ways of truth, but he
is also of the same temperament as truth, sharing the same likes and dislikes.
But the relationship between god and truth is deeper -- so Zarathushtra
informs us -- because Ahura Mazda is both the creator and companion of truth.
Further, we are told, that the spirit of god himself, thespenta mainyu, became
beneficent and virtuous through the effects of truth and that Ahura Mazda
learned to distinguish between what is just and unjust through the help of truth.
Truth, then, according to the prophet's view, is the most essential component
in the world of god because it motivated him to create what is salutary and
good, and it taught him to discern between right and wrong. It is through truth,
therefore, that god achieved his nobility and his higher wisdom which
characterize his very name Ahura Mazda, the Wise Lord.
Similarly, truth plays a dominant role in the life of man. It is truth which
prospers the creatures and makes the plants and waters increase. It is
through the quest for truth that good understanding arises in the spirit of man,
an understanding that teaches him to further the principles of god in good
thoughts, in good words and in good actions. It is truth which also teaches
man to discern between what is right and wrong. It is man's adherence to truth
which gives full meaning to the existence of god and grants strength and
enduring life to him as well. Can the ethical principles god created have any
life of their own if they find no support in the world of mankind?
Herein lies one of the great contributions of the prophet Zarathushtra. By
placing truth at the center of existence of both god and man, he taught us that
a meaningful life is not possible without truth, because truth is the ultimate
source of all good insight, all good action, all good discernment and all good
achievement. To know is essential to act correctly and justly, and the origin of
all correct knowledge derives from the grasp of the truth. This is an
astonishing doctrine in terms of the early intellectual history of the world, but it
is a doctrine that is so powerful and persuasive, so vigorous and positive, that

it became the central idea of all early Iranian thought. It is not possible to think
of the history of old Iran without thinking of the veneration of truth among its
people, and it is Zarathushtra who first conceived and formulated the central
role which truth holds in all of existence.
But we may well ask why Zarathushtra was so preoccupied with the position
of truth in the life of both god and man. He lived in a very remote age, long
before there was a settled society in any modern sense of the term, and
certainly long before the development of rich and powerful kingdoms where
priests or philosophers could gather in peace and quiet in order to discuss the
chief questions of existence and the nature of both god and man.
To find an answer to this question we must once again look into the works of
the prophet and search his own words for clues to the problems Zarathushtra
himself faced, problems which caused him to meditate upon the nature of
human behavior and its results upon the human condition. Once we do this,
we find certain disturbing facts about the times in which he lived.
First, let us note, that Zarathushtra informs us that some of the nobles have
been stealing the possessions of the true inheritors, and that in their greed,
some of the priests have assisted them in this deceitful and dishonest activity.
He informs us as well that even the old gods have ordained and hence
permitted their followers to perform actions that result in dismal consequences
for the rest of mankind. They have been destroying the pasture lands of the
truthful persons, they have threatened them as well, and there has arisen a rift
among the peoples, one which has caused strife and destruction in family,
clans and provinces. In short, the world seems to be torn in two by conflicting
forces, and deceit and destruction seem rampant.
It is exactly under such troubled circumstances, when the world seems to be
caught in the upheaval of contrary forces, when the past seems unfortunate
and the future ever so dim, that a man of great insight like Zarathushtra
wonders about what is right and wrong, what is just and unjust, and how the
way to salvation might occur. It is exactly under such vexing conditions that he
saw that the way for mankind to survive and create a good kingdom here on
earth was to follow the principles whichAhura Mazda, in his higher wisdom,
had created in harmony with truth.
Although millennia separate us today from the time of the prophet
Zarathushtra, the problems of existence still persist. We are torn each day by
conflict, sometimes in our family, sometimes in our profession, sometimes in
our country and sometimes in the world at large.

We see deception, theft, pointless destruction present all over the face of the
globe. Which way should we act? we often ask, looking for the way to resolve
the problem, to end the anguish. What should we believe? we also ask,
looking for guidance in the face of trouble and woes. Sometimes the answer
lies within our power; most often there is no solution available to us on an
individual basis. Nonetheless, we should follow the teachings of Zarathushtra
and strive after the truth, giving life to it through our good thoughts, our good
words and our good actions. Even though immediate solutions may elude us,
the force of truth must persist. For one day the truth shall certainly prevail.
Thus in conclusion, I would like to paraphrase the words of Zarathushtra.
What the prophet stated some 3,000 years ago is equally appropriate for all of
us today.
"Do persevere, for he shall grant to you the firm foundation of good
thinking and the alliance of truth and wisdom. Come to terms with your
reason, and bring to realization the most virtuous and blessed acts. If
you are truthful to the truthful, the Wise Lord shall grant to you the sunlike gain of good thinking for your whole lifetime. I tell these words to
you: bear them in mind. Through the correct conception acquire for
yourselves and your people an existence of good thinking. Let each of
you try to win the other with truth, for this shall be of good gain for each
of you." (Y53.3-5).
Stanley Insler, 1989.

Dr. Stanley Insler, Chairman of the Department of Linguistics at Yale University, 19781989, is a world-renowned Gathic scholar. His translation of the Gathas is widely
considered to be one of the most current and definitive works on the subject. He was
educated at Columbia, Yale, the University of Tubingen, and the University of Madras.
He has taught at Yale since 1963, where he presently holds the position of Salisbury
Professor of Sanskrit and Comparative Philology. He has lectured and published widely
on subjects dealing with the ancient languages and texts of India and Iran, including the
Gathas, and is a member of the American Oriental Society, the Royal Asiatic Society of
Great Britain, the German Oriental Society, and the French Oriental Society, among
others.

Fire, (Athra) and the Fiery Test


Dr. Daryoush Jahanian

Spiritual men, through illumination of the mind, envision The Light. Shah
Nematollah Wali, a fifteenth-century Persian Sufi, expresses this state of mind:
"Be sure that any eye which sees the Light has seen it only the the Light
itself."1 In a simpler term, "One should illumine in order to see the Light."
The state of illumination and beholding light is reflected in different verses of
the Gathas, e.g. in 31.8, Zarathushtra realizes god by grasping Him in
vision,2,3,4 and in 45.8, the Prophet declares, "I beheld Him clearly in my
mind's eye."5
Yasna 43 reflects meditation and attainment of divine illumination as correctly
titled by Bode, since many verses begin with "I realized You God when I was
encircled by good mind Vohu Mana," and Yasna 29.8 indicates a relevance
when Vohu Mana picks Zarathushtra for prophethood as it allegorically
illustrates that the prophet through Vohu Mana(contemplation) has attained
illumined mind and the knowledge of God. Finally, Zarathushtra discovers that
silent meditation is the best for attainment of spiritual enlightenment
(43.15),5 and in two verses (43.4, 43.9) he alludes to the envisioned fire.

State of Illumination
The key is Vohu Mana or good mind, wisdom, and good thinking, which has a
very prominent place in the Gathas. Wisdom stands first among the list of the
divine attributes, whereby the others (Truth, Strength, Love, Wholeness and
Immortality) are perceived and imbibed, the path to God is treaded and the
state of illumination attained, at which point man beholds The Light and
becomes one with God. This is indeed a state of extinction in which man's
being incorporates into God. God upholds the best mind, which brightens our
minds (31.7). He pours out His holy wisdom on all living beings
(45.6).5 Through His Wisdom, God has fashioned the world (31.11), ordained
the creation with universal order (Asha) (31.7), and granted man free will to
make his choice (31.11). The divine dominion (Khshathra) is the fruit and
blessing of Wisdom (30.8, 31.5, 31.6, 33.15), and through wisdom God is
realized (28.6, 33.6, 34) and the path to God is found (28.5, 45.6).6 Good

thinking generates good words and good deeds, which lead the world to
evolution and perfection.

Nature of Light and the True Meaning of Fiery Test.


In Islam, "God is The Light of the heavens and the earth, " Koran XXIV, 35.1 In
the Bible, "God is a consuming fire, Himself comes very fire,"7,8 and in the Old
Testament and the Koran, He manifests to Moses as fire.9,10,11
In the Gathas, the envisioned light is a divine one and fire is only a faculty of
God which, like other divine qualities, is shared by man. It represents the
divine wisdom (Vohu Mana) and man's knowledge of God. WhenVohu
Mana comes to Zarathushtra he realizes god, and it is Vohu Manawho picks
him for prophethood (29.8). This fire is called by Zarathushtra Mainyu Athra
31.3), which means spiritual or mental fire, an abstract or inner fire and not a
physical one. It is radiated by The Divine Wisdom or the best mind (Vohu
Mana) 43.9 and Vahishta Mana (31.7), brightens minds (31.7), and brings the
strength of Vohu Mana (wisdom) (43.4). The working of the divine fire and
wisdom in hardship enlightens one's innerself, whereby one receives salvation
(46.7 Kemna Mazda).
The divine fire is empowered by truth (Asha) (34.4, 43.4), whereby the
rewards of two groups, the righteous and wrongful are determined (31.3,
31.19, 34.4, 43.4, 47.6), hence Asha, or truth and justice prevails (46.7). This
is the fiery test (or ayangha Khshushta 51.9 and 32.7, 30.7), literally molten
metal) that illustrates The Law of Asha or action and reaction12and once
comprehended many seekers will convert (31.3, 47.6). As noted,the fiery test
is also a spiritual one. In this context the unburning fire that the legendary
Seyavash, for the proof of his innocence, passed through,13and the unburning
molten zinc that Adharbad Maraspand, for proof of accuracy of the religious
books, applied to his chest,14 should be construed in allegorical and spiritual
terms.

The Light of Lights and Absolute Wisdom


According to the Gathas, The Divine Light radiates other lights (31.7)6(Light of
lights), God upholds the Best Mind (or Vahishta Mana) that brightens minds
(31.7),6 His wisdom pervades all the living beings (45.6)5 . Sohravardi, a

twelfth century Persian philosopher, compares God to Light of lights 4,15 from
Whom other lights are radiated that are not separated from the Source, but
enriched by it and the first light or the most proximal one to the Source
is Bahman (Vohu Mana). Considering the above analogy, one can conclude
that the Divine Light in Yasna 31.7 signifies God and the radiated lights are
indeed His attributes; the prominent one being His Absolute Wisdom from
which man's wisdom emanates. Sohravardi, in another text, defines God as
"the essence of First Absolute Light who gives constant illumination whereby it
is manifested..Everything in the world is derived from the Light of His
Essence..and to attain fully to this illumination is salvation"46.7).1 (state of
illumination also see Seyyed Ahmad Alavi, a prominent scholar of the school
of illumination (eshragh) after discussing the concept of emanation of
existence from the Source (God) or derivation of many from a single unit
which is the essence of Sohravardi's view, maintains that this notion is from
Zarathushtra.16
The concepts of illumination and joining the beloved (God), unity of mankind
and oneness of their origin, have profound roots in the Persian mysticism and
they derive from the Gathas. Persian mysticism may be compared to a river
that temporarily went underground but eventually surfaced during the Islamic
period. In the words of Jami, a fifteenth-century Persian poet:1
"The Essences are each a separate Glass
Through which the Sun of Being's Light is passed.
Each tinted fragment sparkles in the Sun
A thousand colors but the Light is One."
And in the words of Saadi:17
"Mankind is the body, men as the limbs
Of one essence at the dawn of genesis."

School of Illumination in the Islamic Period of Iran


Many Iranian Gnostics of the Islamic era have contributed to the Persian
mysticism by utilizing the philosophy of ancient Iran.16 They were able to
differentiate the Gathic songs of Zarathushtra from the religion introduced by
the clergy of the Sassanian era. These writings present the true philosophy of
Zarathushtra and the concept of illumination. The founder of this School of the
Islamic era is Sohravardi (Sheikh el eshragh or the Sheikh of illumination),

who for his Zoroastrian views was martyred and is known as Sheikh the
martyr. He certainly had access to Zoroastrian literature and at his time the
spoken language of the city of Zanjan where he lived was Pahlavi. Three of
the followers of this school are Mirdamad and his two students, Ashkevari and
Mulla Sadra.18
Fire in this school is a Gnostic term and is used as a means of enlightening or
consuming a devotee to attain truth and love, and join the abode of the
beloved (God).
In the ancient Iranian mysticism, the true Gnostic is KeiKhosrow, who, prior to
his ascension, undergoes physical cleaning, wears white attire and resides in
a fire temple so that by proximity to the symbolic fire, his being purifies as
pure gold. This is an allegorical expression of enlightenment or illumination in
which one ecstasizes and feels nonexistent and his being becomes
incorporated in the Essence of God. In mystical terms, hard hearts melt by
this fire as molten iron, in the words of Movlavi Rumi who vociferates: "I am
fire, I am fire." The term of molten metal in the philosophy of ancient Iran or
"glowing and consuming in the oven" is an allegorical means of attaining
the Ashoi, Truth and Love. This fire, in its broadest mystical term, is the
science of discovery and recognition of God, the divine knowledge that
descends as fire to Zarathushtra. It is said he holds it in his hands without
being burned. It should be added that God's being manifests as a glaring fire
to Zarathushtra, and Vohu Mana, which signifies the perfect knowledge of
God, is presented to the prophet as a man embodied in absolute light.16 In the
Koran too, Moses beholds a distant fire and tells his wife, "I will bring a part of
it or will lead myself into its light." 9,11

Conclusion
Fire and fiery test should be construed in spiritual terms. Fire in the Gathas
represents the divine wisdom that on reckoning, delivers justice. In humans, it
indicates illumination or bright mind, whereby God is realized; hence, in its
broadest mystical term, it is the science of discovery of God. Fiery test, or the
test of molten metal, is indeed a spiritual purification and refinement process
to attain love and perfection and join the abode of the Beloved. This process
is summarized by Movlavi Rumi: "I was raw, I was roasted, I was consumed."
In the words of Zarathushtra such a person who has passed the fiery test,
has attained physical and spiritual strength, wisdom, truth and love with
serenity (30.7) and belongs to God.2

Daryoush Jahanian, 1997

Dr. Daryoush Jahanian was born in Tehran, Iran. He received a medical


degree from the University of Tehran, and completed his internship and
residency in obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University, St. Louis
Missouri. He has engaged in the practice of obstetrics and gynecology in
Kansas City KS since 1972. He was founder and past president of the
"Fravahar, Zoroastrian Youth Organization" in Tehran, and also served on the
board of Arts and Religions. He has served as a trustee of the Rustam Guiv
Trust of California, and as a trustee and, since 1992, president, of the Rustam
Guiv Foundation of New York. He was a founder and president of the
Zoroastrian Association of Kansas. He has published several essays on the
various topics of the Gathas. He is the author of the recently published book
"The Zoroastrian Doctrine and Biblical Connections." He has been a guest
lecturer at various community centers and religious organizations in Kansas
City, as well as at the Gatha Conference in California (1994), and the
Zoroastrian Congress in San Francisco in 1996. He is married to Mahin
Amighi Jahanian, and they have two sons, Arash and Keyarash.

References:

1. Nasr, S. H. Iran, the Bridge of Turquoise.


2. Jafarey, Ali A. The Gathas, Our Guide.
3. Jahanian, D. An Introduction to the Gathas of Zarathushtra, No. 10, July
1990, p. 20.
4. Vahidi, H. A Research in the Zoroastrian Culture (in Persian).
5. Bode, F. A. Songs of Zarathushtra.
6. Taraporewala, I. J. S. The Religion of Zarathushtra.
7. Isaiah, 66.16
8. Hebrews, 12.29
9. Koran, Teh9-10.
10.
Exodus, 3:2-5,
11.
Koran, 20.10-12, 27.7-9, 28.29-30.
12.
Mehr, F. The Philosophy of Zarathushtra, p. 110 (in Persian).
13.
Parto Aazam, A. The Fiery Test.
14.
Azargoshasb, F. Gathas, The Songs of Zarathushtra (in Persian).
15.
Vahidi, H. Concept of Asha (in Persian).

16.
Razi, H. Ghotbeddin Ashkevari, monthly Faravahar, No 334 (in
Persian).
17.
Translation by D. Jahanian.
18.
Other scholars mentioned include: Haj Mohammad Hidaji,
Shamseddin Mohammad Shahrzuri, Abu Yazid Teyfur, Javanmard (Fati)
Peysa (Beiza) or Hallaj, AbolAbbas Ghassab Amoli, AbolHassan
Kherghani, and Henry Corbin, a French author.
19.
Sethna, T. R. The Teachings of Zarathushtra.
20.
Cama, L. An Introduction to the Gathas of Zarathushtra, No. 7,
July 1990.
21.
Jafarey, A. Stot Yasn, (in Persian).

Sketches of Ahura Mazda


(Quotations from the Gathas)
(Insler translation)

"...Thy fire, Lord, which possesses strength through truth..."


(Y34.4)

"...Thy truth-strong fire..."


(43.4).

"...To his question,


'Whom dost thou wish to serve?'
I then replied:
'Thy fire. As long as I shall be able, I shall respect that truth is to have a
gift of reverence.
Therefore
do thou reveal to me the truth which I continue to summon....'' "
(Y43.9-10).

"Thee, Best One, the Lord who art of the same temperament with the best
truth,
do I lovingly entreat for
the best for Frashaoshtra...and for me...
the best for a whole lifetime of good thinking."
(Y28.8).

"...I wish for this person


the best of all things...
to be understanding all his days, ...understanding through Thy most virtuous
spirit, Wise One,..."
(Y43.2).

"...the best words and actions,


namely, those allied with good thinking
and with truth..."
(Y34.15).

"...the best for existence, namely,


the truth for the truth,
and the rule of good thinking..."
(Y46.10).

"...the House of Good Thinking.


...This is equal to the best..."
(Y32.15-16).

Selections from the Gathas


(Insler translation)

To what land to flee?


Where shall I go to flee?
They exclude (me) from my family and from my clan.
The community with which I have associated
has not satisfied me...
How, then, shall I satisfy Thee, Wise Lord?"
(Y46.1).

"Yes, throughout my lifetime


I have been condemned as the greatest defiler,
I who try to satisfy
the poorly protected creatures with truth, Wise One....
come to me and give support to me.
Through good thinking
find a means of destruction of this."
(Y49.1)

"...(But) when I was first instructed by your words,


painful seemed to me my faith in men
to bring to realization
that which ye told me is the best (for them)."
(Y43.11).

"Whom hast Thou appointed


as guardian for me, Wise One,
if the deceitful one shall dare to harm me?
Whom other than
Thy fire and Thy (good) thinking, through whose actions one has
nourished the truth, Lord?..."
(Y46.7). (This is the first verse of the Kemna Mazda prayer)

Editor's Note:
Truth, Fire, Reincarnation, and Assorted Reflections.

Our remote ancestors, the ancient Persians, delighted in puzzles, riddles and
word games. In Firdausi's epic, The Shahnameh, we are told that when Zal,
who had been abandoned as a baby and raised by a griffon (simurgh), rejoined the world of man, the elders of his community tested him by asking him
to tell them the meanings of six riddles.1 Today, we have the SAT, the LSAT,
the GMAT and others rites of adolescent passage administered by the
Princeton testing service of New Jersey -- not nearly as interesting as Zal's
riddles, but the underlying idea is the same. As a species we seem to be
addicted to tests. In any event, Zal answered the riddles successfully and
gained social acceptance.
Firdausi's epic is full of instances in which mental games like chess, riddles
and brain-teasers played an important part in the matrix of life in those remote
days, when intelligence and courtesy were valued above chicanery and
bombast. It therefore is not surprising to find this tradition reflected in the word
games, puzzles and brain-teasers of an even more ancient set of poems -- the
Gathas. And one of the most intriguing of all Gathic puzzles is Zarathushtra's
use of metaphor.
A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word is used in a way that is not
intended to be literal, in order to evoke an idea or an impression. For example,
Wordsworth describes a field of daffodils as:
"A host of golden daffodils,
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze."
And Carl Sandburg in his poem Chicago, describes the city as:
"Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders."

Similarly, Zarathushtra speaks of


"... the pasture of truth and good thinking." (Y33.3).
When a metaphor is descriptive, such as the examples given above, we
immediately understand the poet's intention. But when a system of metaphors
is used, almost as a code, to express a system of ideas, they present a
mystery which is not as easy to unravel (though it's fun to try).
In the later Avesta each amesha spenta is paired with some aspect of the
material world:
Truth

with

fire,

Good thinking

with

cow or cattle,

Good rule

with

metal,

Aramaiti

with

earth,

Completeness

with

plants,

Immortality

with

water.

I had often wondered if there was some metaphoric significance behind these
associations. Insler, citing Lommel, suggests that the above associations are
a key to understanding the system of metaphors used by Zarathushtra in the
Gathas, and that the use of fire, cattle (including its derivatives milk and
butter), plants and waters (including related concepts such as, bread (made
from grain and water) and pastures) when used in the Gathas are overlaid
with metaphoric significance related to truth, good thinking, completeness and
immortality. He suggests that Zarathushtra uses these material items as
metaphors for their abstract counterparts, and demonstrates that by using the
two interchangeably, Zarathushtra sought to demonstrate his understanding
that the material and spiritual worlds are all part of a single design.2
I do not pretend to have all the answers -- I don't think anyone has. But, (with
some exceptions not here relevant), I find Insler's argument persuasive. And
insofar as it relates to fire, which is the subject of this particular Issue, the
evidence of the Gathas seems to support the conclusion that Zarathushtra
used fire as a metaphor for truth (Asha) in the world of matter.

Before we consider this evidence, let us consider the matter from the
perspective of the world in which Zarathushtra lived. In those days the sun by
day and fire by night were the only sources of illumination. They had no
electricity. The sun was also necessary for the growth of food (plants), just as
the fire was an absolute necessity to prepare what nourished them. In short,
his people were keenly aware of the central role played by the sun and fire in
sustaining life in those days. If Zarathushtra searched for a metaphor (or
symbol) to express, in the world of matter, the central role played by truth/right
(Asha) in enlightening the mind and nurturing the spirit, he could not have
picked one that was more meaningful to the people of his time than the sun
and fire. In that regard, it is interesting that in the Gathas he also speaks of
"sun-like truth" (Y32.2). But let us turn to fire and the evidence.
There are only two descriptive references to fire in the Gathas, and both of
them are associated with truth (Asha).
"...Thy fire, Lord, which possesses strength through truth..." (Y34.4).
"...Thy truth-strong fire..." (Y43.4).
In other verses, Zarathushtra uses fire and truth as parallel concepts. For
example, in Y43.9 he is asked by the benevolent spirit of the Wise Lord,
the spenta mainyu "Whom dost thou wish to serve?" and he replies:
"...'Thy fire. As long as I shall be able, I shall respect that truth is to have
a gift of reverence. Therefore do thou reveal to me the truth which I
continue to summon...."(Y43.9-10).
Insler describes the message of this verse, and the group of verses in which it
is located, in the following way (the numbers in parentheses are in Insler's
original text and refer to the verses):
"In the following verses Zarathushtra describes the awakening of his own
understanding, which was evoked through his own personal encounter with
the force of this virtuous spirit [spenta mainyu]. Elevated to heightened
perception through this spirit, the future prophet realized that he must take
sides in the innate struggle between good and evil in this world (7), and that
the only possible choice lies in the alliance with truth and in the opposition to
deceit (8). That he must serve this cause of truth (9) with knowledge
founded upon good thinking (10), which alone shall bring the best existence
to pass in the world of man (11). That there must be obedience for the one
true god, the Wise Lord (12), for only under his rule of truth and good thinking

can this earthly life become meaningful (13)." Insler, The Gathas of
Zarathushtra, page 230. (Emphasis added).
Fire is described in the Gathas as a help to God's supporter, but of visible
harm to His enemy (Y34.4)3 This is makes sense when you consider that the
enemy is deceit which is annihilated by truth.
Fire is also associated in the Gathas with what I call the law of consequences
-- that we reap what we sow.4 The concept of Asha has been defined as "truth,
what fits or what's ordered".5 And Zarathushtra uses fire as a metaphor for
that aspect of truth which delivers the just or fitting reward corresponding to
one's actions.
"...those rewards Thou shalt give, through the heat of Thy truth-strong
fire, to the deceitful and to the truthful..."(Y43.4).
In short, implicit in the concept of Asha is that perfect justice which sets in
motion the law of consequences, that we reap what we sow, that everything
we do comes back to us -- the good and the bad. As I understand the Gathas
however, this is not a matter of revenge or punishment as we normally
understand the word. Rather, it is one means by which truth enlightens,
makes us aware of the error of our ways.6 The validity of this conclusion is
corroborated by the fact that in Y51.9 the reward given to both factions
through fire (truth in the world of matter) and the molten iron is a lesson for
"living beings."7 And in two separate verses, Zarathushtra describes the
reward given through fire to both factions as being "the distribution in the
good".
"...when the distribution in the good shall occur to both factions through
Thy bright fire, Wise One." (Y31.19).
"Wise Lord, together with this virtuous spirit Thou shalt give the
distribution in the good to both factions through Thy fire, by reason of
the solidarity of [aramaiti] and truth. For it shall convert the many who
are seeking." (Y47.6) (Emphasis added).
This last verse, especially when read in conjunction with the other verses in
which "fire" appears, seems to express multi-dimensioned ideas. It suggests
that the distribution in the good occurs through the enlightenment that truth
brings in terms of knowledge and understanding, and also through the
educational effects of the law of consequences. In addition, the fact that
Zarathushtra chose to use the word fire -- the metaphor for truth in the world

of matter -- suggests that this process of enlightenment and education occurs


here, in the material world.
This of course raises the interesting question: Did Zarathushtra believe in
reincarnation? In speculating on this question, I wish to caution that my
reflections are purely personal, and have no support in the literature, although
Dastur N.D. Minochehr-Homji appears to have come to roughly the same
conclusion8.
I agree with Taraporewala when he says that in the Gathas, Zarathushtra
does not state that there either is, or is not, such a thing as reincarnation.9The
Gathas are silent on the subject. However, a central Gathic theme is the
teaching that existence involves a progressive spiritual evolution to ultimate
perfection. Zarathushtra was an extraordinarily intelligent person. It could not
have escaped his attention that few (if any) persons in fact achieve a state of
spiritual perfection by the time they die. If his teaching of an evolution to
perfection through our own endeavors is valid, then the conclusion is
compelling that there must exist some other opportunities besides one lifetime
on earth for this process of growth or spiritual evolution to continue until
perfection is reached. Whether these additional opportunities occur back here
on earth, or in some other reality, Zarathushtra does not say. He simply
makes the commitment to serve truth in the world of matter ("Thy fire!") -- the
world in which he finds himself.
In the final analysis, in Zarathushtra's scheme of things, redemption is not a
matter of grace, to be dispensed through a discretion that is beyond our
control. He teaches that we have the keys to our individual and collective
salvation (as he defines salvation) in our own hands, and that salvation is
brought about through our own efforts, with a helping hand from God and our
fellow man, in the form of the benevolent spirit ("that spirit of great
determination" Y31.9), truth, good thinking, good rule and benevolent or loving
service at both the divine and human levels.
Dina G. McIntyre
The Editor.

Footnotes:
1. Surti, The Shahnameh of Firdausi, Volume 1, pages 57 - 59.

2. Insler, Abstract Levels of Ritual in the Gathas of Zarathushtra, a Lecture


delivered to the American Academy of Religions, November 1988.
In his treatment of the worlds of mind and matter (or spiritual and
material existence) Zarathushtra's teachings are unusual in that he does
not reject the physical aspects of life as evil or as an impediment to
spirituality. Rather, he celebrates both the physical and the material
aspects of existence as integral parts of a single design -- each with a
useful and necessary part to play in bringing about the desired end.
3. "Now we wish Thy fire, Lord, which possesses strength through truth
and which is the swiftest, forceful thing, to be of clear help to Thy
supporter but of visible harm, with the power in its hands, to Thy enemy,
Wise One." (Y34.4).
See also Y46.7, the first verse of the Kemna Mazda prayer:
"Whom hast Thou appointed as guardian for me, Wise One, if the
deceitful one shall dare to harm me? Whom other than Thy fire and Thy
(good) thinking, through whose actions one has nourished the truth,
Lord?..."
4. Taraporewala calls it the law of action and reaction. I.J.S.
Taraporewala, The Religion of Zarathushtra, page 31.
5. See the linguistic explanation of S. Insler quoted in footnote 1 of the
Editor's Note appearing in Issue No. 2, page 12 of An Introduction to the
Gathas of Zarathushtra.
6. I have heard (hearsay) that a small cult of Zoroastrians express the
outrageous idea that we should not feel too badly, or care, about a
person who is experiencing troubles because such troubles are bound
to be the consequence of his own previous wrongful conduct, and so he
is just getting what he deserves. To me, such an attitude is not only
inconsistent with the workings of a benevolent spirit and good thinking, it
is also illogical. For if life entails a progression towards perfection
through endeavor, it would be logical to assume that each of us will
have to successfully deal with all manner of adverse experiences
(earned and unearned) in order to achieve the ultimate goal.
7. I therefore do not believe that the view expressed in the later literature,
to the effect that the ordeal of fire and molten iron will be given at the
time of final judgment, is an accurate reflection of Zarathushtra's
thinking in the Gathas.
8. Dastur N.D. Minochehr-Homji, Chicago Lectures 1984 (on Cassettes).

9. I.J.S. Taraporewala, The Religion of Zarathushtra, page 32.

"...'the body of Oromazdes is like light and his soul like truth.' " Porphyry,
translated from the Greek by Moulton, in his work, Early Zoroastrianism,
(reprinted by AMS Press, New York), pages 67 and 391.

Volume 8

Ahura Mazda
Sketches of Ahura Mazda
Selections from the Gathas
Editor's Note: Of Man and God

Ahura Mazda.
Farhang Mehr

Zarathushtra's perception of God is infinitude in time and space (Y31.8),


constructiveness and beneficence in immanence (Y51.6, Y47.3, 6), wisdom
and truth in essence (Y28.2, 3, 4, Y51.7). God appears to man only in his
attributes and Zarathushtra defines the ineffable God in ethical terms.
According to the Gathas, He is Wisdom, Righteousness-cum-Justice,
Serenity-with-love, Divine Might, Perfection and Eternity. He is the Light of
Lights, and all goodness emanates from Him. His attributes are etherealized
moral concepts expressed in pure abstractions. They are but aspects of Ahura
Mazda, though attempts have been made to personify them as archangels.

Glimpses of these attributes dwell within each and every human being, and
through them, man as the co-worker of God can interact with God if he so
chooses. It is only through these attributes that finite man can comprehend
and describe the otherwise inexplicable and infinite Ahura Mazda.
Goodness, constructiveness, and justice (truth) are central to Zarathushtra's
concept of Ahura Mazda.
The term Ahura Mazda signifies the Lord of both celestial and terrestrial
worlds. Ahura means "life" and Mazda means "wisdom. Ahura Mazda is the
Essence and Lord of Life and Wisdom.
Wisdom and truth are the constant threads running through the Gathas.
The Six cardinal epithets of Ahura Mazda, known collectively as Amesha
Spenta, are the quintessence of Ahura Mazda. Each of them in its sublime
universality represents Ahura Mazda but none is Ahura Mazda. Ahura
Mazda is each and all of them -- the concept of plurality in oneness. (Y28.3,
Y31.7). The following constitute the six epithets.
1. Vahishta Mana. Vahishta Mana is the sublime universal mind. It is the
essence of good and holy wisdom. Zarathushtra perceivedAhura
Mazda in his wisdom (Y32.8), and instructed the people to choose
between different ideas with the counsel of good mind (Y30.2). Vahishta
Mana signifies the omniscience of God, and is the first in the hierarchy
of attributes.
2. Asha Vahishta. Asha Vahishta is the sublime universal truth-cumjustice. Righteousness, truth and justice are identical and
interchangeable. Asha represents the eternal law that governs the
Universe. The natural and divine law coincide in Asha. Asha also
represents Ahura Mazda's will. It stands second in the hierarchy of
attributes and was created in Ahura Mazda's good mind.
The two attributes of Vohu Mana and Asha often appear together in
association with Ahura Mazda. Duchesne-Guillemin calls them the Holy
Triad. The process of Zarathushtra's elevation to prophethood reflects
the joint functioning of the three.
3. Khshatra Vayria. No English word can explain it fully and
precisely. Khshatra connotes a combination of holy, good and
constructive potentialities; it signifies divine hegemony, power, and
influence. Khshatra epitomizes the true Might that fosters love and
eliminates hatred; promotes harmony and thwarts strife; induces

humility and suppresses conceitedness; spreads justice and excludes


revenge.
4. Spenta Armaity. Spenta Armaity embodies love and serenity. It
indicates the inherent attitude of benevolence and vouchsafeness, the
loftiest dedication and selfless service. It connotes giving without
expectation, and dutifulness without contemplation of reward.
5. Hurvatat. Hurvatat purports perfection -- a state of all-round excellence
and the absence of desire.
6. Ameretat. Ameretat means immortality. It implies eternity, immutability,
and being without a beginning and an end.
Life in its widest connotation is in Ahura Mazda, who is not begotten, nor is
perishable. The universe exists and life is sustained through Him.Ameretat is
free from time and space. Hurvatat and Ameretat are often together and that
connotes the proximity of the two.
Though not included in the six, Spenta Mainyu constitutes another cardinal
attribute of God. It is the sublime constructive power, the universal force of
creativity, the essence of goodness (Y33.1) and the apex of
positivity. Spenta means growth, augmentation and progress. It symbolizes
God's productivity. It is the self-realizing quality or activity ofAhura Mazda,
Dhalla, Zoroastrianism. It is the self-generating energy that leads to the
creation and evolution of the universe. Spenta Mainyu is dynamic, and
creation is an ongoing process. As Zaehner has said, for Zarathushtra,
holiness meant also abundance, growth and health. The Dawn and Twilight of
Zoroastrianism.
Ahura Mazda is the creator. The Gathic words conveying that idea,
areDatar and Tashea. The first word (from the root Da) means giver and
bestower (Y43.5, Y46.9). In this sense, all blessings are given by God and all
that is good emanates from him. The second word (from the
root Tashmeaning cut and shape) means shaper, designer and maker (Y44.5).
In this sense all creations are designed and made by God. Hence, creation
implies a combination of giving and shaping, emanating and designing,
shaping and augmenting. Creation was not ex nihilo -- out of nothingness.
Creation has always been in God and with God.
According to the Gathas, Ahura Mazda is the Absolute, the All-perfect, the
Spirit of Spirits, the Essence of Being, the First cause, the creator (Y44.3), the
sustainer (Y44.5), the source of goodness, the sublime Wisdom, the nature of
Truth, the quintessence of justice, the constructive power, the Eternal laws,
the unchangeable, the Ultimate Reality, and the only Adorable one to be

worshipped. Ahura Mazda is transcendent, immanent, and a-personal. In his


transcendence, he is infinitely great and beyond all creations. He is
independent of Cosmos, but the Cosmos depends on him. He has no spatial
location. Revelation, prophethood, and intuition relate to the transcendence
of Ahura Mazda.
In his immanence, he manifests himself in the entire creation. He is present
everywhere in the cosmos: in the grains of sands, in the seeds of plants, in
the being of animals, and in the spirit of man. He is in and with, as well as out
and beyond, all creations. He is beyond time and space, though time and
space are with and in him. All creations exist in the presence of God.
Cosmos does not veil God, nor is it His body; yet cosmos has a soul (Y29.1).
It is an expression of God's creativity. In his a-personality, he is not a person,
but has a personal relationship with man. He is abstract yet real; he is a pure
monad and devoid of anthropomorphic traits. Anthropomorphic ideas are rarer
in the Gathas than in all other scriptures, says George Carter Zoroastrianism
and Judaism, (1970). The few references to God's all-seeing eyes and
reward-distributing hands should be taken as metaphors. God has no shape
or form; he is the essence of consciousness without a conscious self.
The dignity, spirituality and privity of Ahura Mazda, presented
by AshoZarathushtra was an innovation in the ancient world. It was a new
concept introduced in a new faith. Zarathushtra presented God as moral
perfection, to be loved and not feared. Ahura Mazda is a just and not a
revengeful God. He is the author of everything good and all good things.
Destruction does not emanate from Him. This does not imply the existence of
a primordial destroyer. Good and evil in Zarathushtrian tradition represent a
moral and not a cosmic dualism. Nothing can detract from the monotheistic
character of Zarathushtrianism; nothing can disparage the profundity of moral
dualism in that faith.
To conclude, the Zarathushtrian faith believes in one creator-sustainer of the
universe who is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent; he has no
beginning, no end, and is unchanging and eternal; he is the only one worthy of
worship; he created the universe in his good mind (Vahishta Mana), shaped it
in his conscience (Daena), manifested it through his benevolent spirit (Spenta
Mainyu), and set it into motion by his will (Asha) -- the eternal law of justice
and righteousness.
Ahura Mazda created man as his co-worker with faculties to discern between
right and wrong, and to work for the advancement of the universe. Ahura

Mazda revealed his eternal law to the prophet Zarathushtra in the Gathas; he
proclaimed the law of consequences and the reality of life hereafter, and he
prescribed true happiness (Ushta) for the righteous.
The followers of the Gathas should pray through the righteous thought, deed,
words of Asha, the good wisdom of Vohu Mana, and the love and serenity
of Armaity, that the benevolent spirit of Ahura Mazda may grant them the
perfect bliss of Hurvatat and the divine power of Khshatra to bring solace to
the soul of the universe and to immortalize themselves.
Farhang Mehr, 1990.

Dr. Farhang Mehr is a Professor of International Relations at Boston


University. He received a Bachelor of Economics degree and a Doctorate in
Law from the Universities of Tehran and London respectively. He has taught
at Tehran and National Universities, and at the Military Academy in Iran, and
was President of the University of Shiraz for 8 years, served Iran under the
Shah as Vice-Prime Minister and Acting Finance Minister, and represented
Iran on OPEC's Board of Governors for 5 years. He served as the President of
the Zoroastrian Anjuman of Tehran for 12 years; was an officer of the First
and Third World Zoroastrian Congresses in Tehran, and Bombay respectively,
and was a founding member of the Ancient Iranian Culture Society. He has
lectured and published on subjects related to law, political economy and
Zoroastrianism. His book in Farsi, published in January 1990 is entitled
"Zoroastrian Philosophy: An old Wisdom in a New Perspective", and in
English called "The Zoroastrian Tradition, An Introduction to the Ancient
Wisdom of Zarathushtra", published by Element Press in 1991.

Sketches of Ahura Mazda


(Quotations from the Gathas)
(Insler translation)

"Lord of broad vision,


disclose to me for support
the safeguards of your rule..."
(Y33.13).

"...I know
that words deriving
from good purpose and from love
are not to be left wanting by you."
(Y28.10).

"Come hither to me, ye best ones....


Thou, Wise One,
together with truth and good thinking..."
(Y33.7).

"All ye (immortals) of the same temperament..."


(Y51.20)

"The Wise One who is the Mightiest Lord and [aramaiti],


and truth which prospers the creatures, and good thinking,
and good rule -- listen to me..."
(Y33.11).

Rise up to me Lord.
Along with Thy most virtuous spirit, Wise One,
receive force through (our) [aramaiti], strength through (every) good
requital, powerful might through truth,
protection through (our) good thinking."
(Y33.12).

"...The person who... has opposed the guilty gods and mortals...
such a person,
by reason of his virtuous conception,
is an ally, a brother,
or a father (of Thee) Wise Lord..."
(Y45.11).

Selections from the Gathas


(Insler translation)

"...Which craftsman created the luminous bodies and the dark


spaces?..."
(Y44.5).

"...Through whom does the moon wax (now), wane later?...


(Y44.3).

"...Which man...was the father of truth during the creation?..."


(Y44.3)

"...Which man, Wise One, is the creator of good thinking?"


(Y44.4).

"...By these (questions),...I am helping to discern Thee to be the creator


of everything by reason of Thy virtuous spirit."
(Y44.7).

"But to this world He came with the rule of good thinking and of truth,
and (our) enduring [aramaiti]
gave body and breath (to it)..."
(Y30.7)

"...May truth be embodied and strong with breath..."


(Y43.16).

"...Through its actions, [aramaiti] gives substance to the truth..."


(Y44.6).

"...The Wise One is Lord


through such actions
stemming from good spirit."
(Y45.5).

"...May He dispense through


His good thinking (each) reward
corresponding to one's actions."
(Y43.16).

"...That the soul of the truthful person be powerful in immortality..."


(Y45.7).

"...When I could rule at will over my reward, then I would,


exercising such power,
be in the stride of the blessed one."
(Y50.9).

"Freedom, spark from flame immortal,


Daughter of Elysium.....
Let your magic bring together
All whom earth-born laws divide;
All mankind shall be as brothers,
In your love we shall abide." Schiller, Ode to Freedom. Schiller originally
called this poem "Ode an die Freiheit" (Ode to Freedom). But the title was
unacceptable to the censor who regarded it as a challenge to monarchical
authority. Schiller therefore changed the poem's "offensive" name, but
salvaged its spirit by substituting the word Freude (joy) for Freiheit(freedom).
(From the Pittsburgh Symphony Program Notes). In deference to Schiller's
original thought, "Joy" has been replaced with "Freedom" in the above excerpt.

Editor's Note: Of Man and God.

It is the nature of our species to dare, to question, to attempt the impossible.


And surely one of the most daring and impossible of all feats is man's attempt
to comprehend God.
How does the finite comprehend the infinite?
Yet the history of religions is eloquent testimony to the fact that we keep trying.
And today, in this last decade of the 20th century, mankind is heir to a number
of great religions as they have evolved through time -- Hinduism, Judaism,
Buddhism, Christianity, the Muslim faith and others.
Indeed, it would be difficult for a religious thinker in this century to formulate
ideas that have not been influenced in some way by these major religions
because, to a greater or lesser degree, we all tend to view things through the
spectacles of pre-conceived thought -- the ideas with which we are familiar,
the ideas on which we were raised, the ideas which form a part of our cultural
and educational background.

One of the fascinating things about studying the Gathas is that they are like a
mini time capsule, revealing a theology and philosophy of life that pre-dated,
and therefore was not influenced by, the major religions of the world as we
know them today.
And if we want to find out as accurately as possible what Zarathushtra's
thoughts were on the great issues of existence, it is necessary for us to take
off the spectacles of pre-conceived ideas, and study the Gathas with fresh
eyes. For although there are many areas of similarity between the teachings
of the Gathas and the major religions of today, there are also some areas of
difference. And these similarities and differences are very much in evidence in
Zarathushtra's idea of the relationship between man and God.
At one level the Gathas, like most major religions, describe a loving
relationship between man and God. God offers solicitude.1 He is
compassionate.2 He is benevolent.3 He supports and protects.4 And, whatever
the answer, He answers prayer. As Zarathushtra puts it:
"...I know that words deriving from good purpose and from love are not
to be left wanting by you." (Y28.10).
Man for his part, serves God and His values "with love." (Y51.22). He prays
with love (Y 28.8, Y28.10). And Zarathushtra describes "the loving man" as a
world-healer5 and God's ally in spirit:
"...the loving man... For such a person, virtuous through truth, watching
over the heritage for all, is a world-healer and Thy ally in spirit, Wise
One." (Y44.2).
In defining this relationship between man and God, the Gathas do not
discriminate on the basis of race or sex. The taboos and restrictions which
circumscribe women in the later literature are remarkably and refreshingly
absent from the Gathas.6
In Zarathushtra's scheme of things, the intrinsic worth of a person is ultimately
judged on the basis of their achieving "the best" (as Zarathushtra defines the
best) and not on the basis of sex or race (or wealth or social position or
appearances, or all the other false gods which we unconsciously worship).
"Wise Lord, whoever -- be it man or woman -- would ... [attain]...the best
for existence, namely, the truth for the truth and the rule of good

thinking,...with all these I shall cross over the Bridge of the


Judge." (Y46.10).
So far as race is concerned, it is interesting to note that the social units
mentioned in the Gathas are the family, the clan, the community,7 the country
in which Zarathushtra lived -- "this seventh part of the earth"8 and the world at
large.9 It is also interesting to note that the Wise Lord's teachings, and His
approval, are not reserved for any particular family, clan, community, or
country. In Yasna 33, Zarathushtra says:
"The person who is very good to a truthful man, be he allied by family, or
a member of his community, or allied by clan, Lord, or be he someone
who continues to serve [the good vision] with zeal, such a person shall
be on the pasture of truth and good thinking." (Y33.3). (Emphasis added).
"Therefore... who shall enlighten his guest in the good -- all these shall
bring success to His desire and be in the approval of the Wise
Lord." (Y33.2).
In Y46.12, Zarathushtra praises Friyana the Turanian who, together with his
children and grandchildren practice the teachings of the Wise Lord. Turan was
an enemy of ancient (and modern) Iran. In Y31.3 he says:
"....that commandment which is for Thy adherents -- speak, Wise One,...
in order for us to know (all) that, by means of which I might convert all
the living." (Y31.3).
In Y50.5 he asks:
"Lord, let wisdom come in the company of truth across the
earth! ..." (Y50.5).10
In Y30.9 he prays:
"Therefore may we be those who shall heal this world! Wise One ... be
present to me with support and with truth, so that one shall become
convinced even where his understanding shall be false." (Y30.9).
Y49.5 makes it plain that the "lineage" which Zarathushtra cares most about is
the lineage with truth and the other forces with which he defines God, and any
person, without distinction qualifies for inclusion in this family tree if he is
committed to good thinking.

"...the one who has allied his conception with good thinking. Any such
person of [aramaiti] is of the (same) good lineage with truth and all those
(other forces) existing under Thy rule, Lord." (Y49.5) (emphasis added).
To Zarathushtra, the standard for determining the acceptability of a person is
based, not on accidents of birth or social position, but on endeavor, and on
commitment to the good vision. In short, the Wise Lord accepts the person
who accepts Him and His truth.
"The one who accepts what is better than good [footnote: '..which here is a
paraphrase of the very best truth'11 and who shall bring success to His
wish, (him) the Lord, wise in His rule, (shall accept)..." (Y51.6).
Thus, at a basic level, the relationship between man and God is both loving
and universal.
But at a deeper level, we cannot begin to understand the relationship between
man and God without first exploring Zarathushtra's conception of God -- a
conception which in his typical multidimensional style, he projects in a number
of ways, one of which is the elegant artifice of the amesha spenta, -- the
benevolent immortals, truth, good thinking, the benevolent spirit, good rule,
benevolent service, completeness and immortality.
It is true that the term "benevolent immortals" (amesha spenta) does not
appear in the Gathas.12 I use it as a handy short-hand way of referring to
these seven concepts. It is also true that the Gathas contain references to
many other abstract ideas. But the amesha spenta are the only abstract ideas
in the Gathas that are treated as both entities and as concepts. Unlike the
other abstract ideas, each amesha spenta is specifically mentioned as an
object of reverence, praise, or esteem.13 Each one is also a method of
worship.14 And they appear in both God and man, defining as much as we can
know of divinity. Permit me to illustrate with a few examples as they relate to
truth and good thinking:
In Y33.11, truth and good thinking are personified:15
"The Wise One who is the mightiest Lord, and [aramaiti], and truth which
prospers the creatures, and good thinking, and (good) rule -- listen to
me..." (Y33.11).
In Y30.7, they are concepts:16

"But to this world He came with the rule of good thinking and of truth,
and (our) enduring [aramaiti] gave body and breath to it..." (Y30.7).
In some verses, truth and good thinking are the objects of worship:17
"...As long as I shall be able, I shall respect that truth is to have a gift of
reverence." (Y43.9).
"Come hither to me, ye best ones... Thou, Wise One, together with truth
and good thinking... Let bright gifts and reverence (for all of you) be
manifest amid us." (Y33.7).
In Y50.4 they are the means by which we worship.18
In other verses, they appear in man:19
"Let a person listen ... with good thinking, Wise One. Let him listen with
truth..." (Y49.7).
"...That the soul of the truthful person be powerful in
immortality,..." (Y45.7).
I do not think any serious student of the Gathas can doubt that the benevolent
immortals represent divine values -- attributes of the Wise Lord, Ahura
Mazda. Yet to a greater or lesser degree (depending, I suppose, on the
person) they also appear in man.
What does this many-dimensioned use of these concepts tell us about
Zarathushtra's idea of the nature of God, and of the relationship between God
and man?
Let us approach the matter from another direction (as Zarathushtra so often
does). The Gathas speak at many levels. But even at the most basic level,
there is an egalitarian quality to the relationship between man and God. It is
described as that of a friend to a friend,20 an ally,21 a partner in the struggle
against the enemy, which is ignorance, cruelty, deceit.
Then, Zarathushtra takes us one step further. He says that a person who
commits to this battle, and wages it with the divine forces which are
theamesha spenta, is himself of the nature of God.

"The person who, in this very way,22 has opposed the guilty gods and
mortals, ... such a person, ... is an ally, a brother, or a father (of Thee),
Wise Lord, ..." (Y45.11).
Insler explains the metaphoric use of "ally" "brother" and "father" in this verse
as follows:
"That is, any man in this world who acts under the motivation of his own
virtuous spirit is himself of the very nature of god."23
Y49.5 expresses the same sentiment in a slightly different way. Referring to a
person of good thinking, Zarathushtra says:
"...the one who has allied his conception with good thinking. Any such
person of [aramaiti] is of the (same) good lineage with truth and all those
(other forces) existing under Thy rule, Lord." (Y49.5) (emphasis added).
Similarly, in Y33.6, Zarathushtra describes a priest who is in harmony with the
truth as being an offspring from the best spirit.
"The priest who is just in harmony with truth is the offspring from the
best spirit...." (Y33.6).
There are many differences of opinion and interpretation which divide
Zoroastrians, but on one point at least there appears to be unanimity -- and
that is that each person contains within himself something of the divine.
If we truly believe this, then we cannot reject any person without, in effect,
rejecting God. If we believe that there is a unity of identity between man and
God, then the many barriers which we erect between man and man -- the
artificial distinctions, the bigotry -- must of necessity dissolve, and the
brotherhood of man becomes a breathtaking reality. We are one. John Donne
said:
"... any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; and
therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee." John
Donne, Devotions.
But to me, one of the ultimate subtleties of Zarathushtra's thought lies in the
fact that the apparent diversity of the amesha spenta, is in truth, also a unity of
identity. Zarathushtra himself seems to suggest this unity of identity between
the amesha spenta: He says:

"When I...call upon truth, the Wise One and the other lords shall appear:
also reward and [aramaiti]. ..." (Y31.4).
And he describes them as:
"All ye (immortals) of the same temperament,..." (Y51.20).
Indeed, it is impossible to imagine any one amesha spenta to the exclusion of
the others. The quest for truth and right (asha) is not possible without the
influence or inspiration of a benevolent spirit (spenta mainyu). You cannot
grasp the truth or what's right without good thinking (vohu mano). And if you
understand a truth, speak of it, or put it into action, you are in effect bringing to
life in that small way the rule of truth and good thinking (xshathra) with your
service (aramaiti) to that ideal. And what is the ultimate reward,
(completeness and immortality haurvatat/ameretat), if not that state of being
which is the perfecting or attainment of the preceding values -- a state of
being that is one with God (the neat and unique Zarathushtrian heaven)?24
In the final analysis, each divine force contains within itself something of the
others. Each divine force, and each life force, is an integral part of the One -the essence of wisdom, the much beloved Wise Lord, Ahura Mazda.
Dina G. McIntyre
The Editor.

Footnotes:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Y45.7, Y46.17, Y28.7.


Y51.4.
Y45.6, Y48.3.
Y51.2, Y30.7,9, Y34.7, Y43.14, Y46.2, Y49.1, Y50.1, Y50.5.
It is interesting that in this verse, it is the loving and truthful man who is
referred to as a "world-healer". And in Y44.16, it is God who is referred
to as a "world-healer":
"As a world-healer, promise us a judge, and let obedience to him
come through good thinking..." (Y44.16).

6. Much is sometimes made of the fact that of the six values with which
Zarathushtra defines God, three are masculine nouns and three are

feminine. nouns But this is not, strictly speaking accurate. In the Gathas,
truth, good thinking and good rule are not masculine but neutral nouns,
Moulton, Early Zoroastrianism, page 122.
7. Y32.1, Y33.3.
8. Y32.3. Insler explains this phrase as "The area inhabited by the
Aryans." The Gathas of Zarathushtra, page 45, footnote 3.
9. Y50.5, Y30.7, Y30.9.
10.
This thought is later reflected in the Farvardin Yasht which states:
"...and there will the good Law of the worshippers of Mazda [wisdom]
come and spread through all the seven Kashvares of the earth."
Farvardin Yasht, verse 94, translated by Darmesteter. Sacred Books of
the East, Volume 23 page 202 (reprint Motilal Banarsidas).
11.
Insler, The Gathas of Zarathushtra, page 105, footnote 8.
12.
It is also true that spenta mainyu is not usually classified as one of
the amesha spenta. I include spenta mainyu in this designation,
because in the Gathas, spenta mainyu is one of the personified
attributes of God. For example, Y29 is a dramatization in which the
different values which God represents -- truth, good thinking, and His
benevolent spirit, are addressed, together with God, as personages.
Insler, The Gathas of Zarathushtra, page 29 footnote 1. In addition, I
think spenta mainyu belongs with the amesha spenta because, like truth
and good thinking, it is both an object of worship and a method of
worship, and so appears to have had, in Zarathushtra's mind, the same
exalted status as those others. See for example Y28.1, and Y47.1. In
the latter verse, spenta mainyu is one of the seven concepts.
The term amesha spenta first appears in the Haptanghaiti (Yasna 35 to
42 -- not a part of the Gathas) . In Haptanghaiti, Y35.1 the term is
mentioned for the first time, without identifying its components,
andAhura Mazda is mentioned separately from the term. In Y37.1-5,
(Haptanghaiti) the term is mentioned again, without its components
being specifically defined, although asha, vohu mano,
xshathra andaramaiti are mentioned in this chapter, as is Ahura Mazda.
By the time of the Yashts, in Sarosh Yasht sraosha (obedience) is
described as "who amid the amesha spenta sits as a companion at their
meeting" and Mills who translated this part of the texts, comments that
this is possibly the origin of a later view which established sraosha as
one of the amesha spenta to fill up the number seven without
including Ahura Mazda. According to Mills, the original "seven spirits"

included Ahura Mazda. However, he does not cite the evidence on


which he basis this conclusion. Sacred Books of the East, Volume 31,
page 300, footnote 3 (Motilal Benarsidas reprint).
In short, both the number and identity of the amesha spenta have varied
throughout the long history of Zoroastrian literature.
13.
Spenta mainyu (the benevolent spirit of the Wise Lord): Y28.1,
Y47.2.
Truth (asha): Y33.7, Y34.3, Y34.6, Y43.9, Y50.11.
Good thinking (vohu mano): Y33.7, Y34.6.
Good rule (vohu xshathra): Y51.1.
Benevolent service (spenta aramaiti): Y34.9, Y44.7.
Completeness & Immortality (haurvatat/ameretat): Y51.7.
14.
Spenta mainyu (the benevolent spirit): Y47.1 (read in conjunction
with Y34.1).
Truth (asha): Y30.1, Y33.8, Y45.6, Y47.1, Y50.4, Y50.8, Y50.9, Y51.22.
Good thinking (vohu mano): Y28.2, Y33.8, Y47.1, Y47.2, Y50.4,
Y50.8-9, Y51.7, Y53.2.
Good rule (vohu xshathra): Y50.4, Y51.4-5, Y51.18.
Benevolent service (spenta aramaiti): Y45.10, Y51.20, Y49.10, Y47.1,
Y47.2, Y28.3, Y34.10, Y33.12, See An Introduction to the Gathas of
Zarathushtra, No. 4.
Completeness & Immortality (haurvatat/ameretat): Y33.8, Y34.11,
Y47.1.
15.
Accord: Y29, Y33.7, Y28.9, Y32.2, Y32.9, Y33.11, Y49.6.
16.
Accord: Y33.14, Y33.12-13, Y34.5, Y43.10, 49.7.
17.
Accord: See citations in footnote 13 above.
18.
Accord: see citations in footnote 14 above.
19.
Accord: Y28.10, Y30.4,5, Y34.10, Y31.2, Y31.5, Y31.6, Y32.6,
and numerous others.
20.
Y43.14, Y44.1, Y46.2. In 43.14 Insler, Bode & Nanavutty, and T.R.
Sethna translate the word fryai as "friend", Taraporewala translates it as
"beloved." In 46.2 Bode & Nanavutty, and Taraporewala translate the
words fryo fryai as a lover to his beloved, Insler and Sethna as a friend
to a friend.
21.
Y31.21, Y44.2. It is true that God is also described as a "Ruler"
(Y28.7). But His rule is the rule of truth and good thinking -- a rule of
ideas. And the service He requires of us is to make those ideas a reality
-- again, more of an interdependent partnership than the traditional view
of Ruler and subject.

22.
That is, by committing to behave with truth and good thinking, as
specified in the preceding verse.
23.
Insler, The Gathas of Zarathushtra, page 79, footnote 16.
24.
Zarathushtra's terms for heaven are the House of good thinking,
and the House of Song. In my opinion, he uses the word "House" as a
metaphor for a state of being. This conclusion may be inferred from a
number of verses. Gor example, in Y33.5 Zarathushtra speaks of
"...the long-lived rule of good thinking and the paths, straight in accord
with truth, wherein the Wise Lorddwells." (Y33.4)
Clearly, "dwells" here does not refer to a physical location where the Wise
Lord lives. He could "dwell" in the rule of good thinking and the paths of truth
only in a metaphoric sense, indicating His condition or state of being. Similarly,
in Y50.4 Zarathushtra refers to the amesha spenta as existing in the House of
Song.
"...I shall always obey (you), the truly sincere ones existing in the House
of Song." (Y50.4).
Clearly, if the amesha spenta represent divine values or attributes of God,
then the "house" in which they live can only be His state of being.
Returning to Zarathushtra's metaphoric names for heaven, the House of good
thinking would thus be a state of perfect wisdom, and the House of Song, a
state of bliss. That is how I see it.

Volume 9

Good & Evil


Sketches of Ahura Mazda
Selections from the Gathas
Good & Evil
Editor's Note: Evil, An Interesting Quandary

Good & Evil


Jehan Bagli

The concept of Good and Evil is far more complex and deep seated than the
two four letter words can express. On a logical plane, it is reasonable to
assume that mankind in its early stages of evolution must have construed all
life sustaining forces and phenomena as "Good". In contrast, anything that
endangered or threatened life must have been interpreted as "Evil."
On a different plane however, Good and Evil are philosophical notions that
take on a physical expression by the extent of the morality of human behavior.
Prophet Zarathushtra visualized these two opposite orders of existence in
reality and anchored them as the moral basis of human life. He speaks of
these in the Gathas as "Twin Mainyus." A point worthy of stress at this stage
is the distinction between Ahura Mazda and the "TwinMainyus." Prophet
Zarathushtra, in his innovative wisdom, consistently stresses the existence of
a single "uncreated force" Ahura Mazda. He recites tribute to that "Lord of
Wisdom" in Ushtavaiti Gatha (Y44) as the sole creator -- the creator of light
and the creator of darkness (Y44.5). He makes his unqualified pledge to serve
him and eradicate evil through Good Thinking in another hymn (Y50.11),
where he says:
"Yes, I shall swear to be your praiser, Wise One, and I shall be it, as long
as I shall have strength and be able, o truth..."
(Y50.11, Insler translation). Insler translation).

Let us now return to the discussion of the "Twin Mainyus". In his sermon to
the adherents the prophet speaks of the concept of existence (Y30.3,4) as
follows:
"In the beginning the two mental aspects which (are) twin (being
emanations of the same mind) mutually disclosed themselves...one as
the better and the other (as) the evil...when the two mental aspects
(mentalities) came together at the very commencement (they generated
both life and the absence of life.".2

In the above utterance, there are two important points on which we must focus:
(a) that the two mainyus are twins, and (b) that they came together at the very
commencement. These hymns, together with others, portray an image of
existence where good and evil exist in a dynamic equilibrium, and the good
must, in time, triumph over evil. The term "twin" has been interpreted by
several scholars as the
"twin aspects of the human mind, and have no meaning apart from its
workings and the moral choice of the individual." 3
The term "together" (in Avesta hem) has generally been overlooked by the
scholastic community. The Gathas appear to suggest that the two mental
aspects, although distinctly opposite, performed as a coalition by natural
combination to create, and yet remained distinct in their opposite nature
(Y45.2).
Much of the corpus of the Gathas has the prescription for its adherent to
follow the path of Good. The path that the creator has shown through the
Benevolent Mentality -- Spenta Mainyu. The Hostile Mentality -- Angra
Mainyu is not mentioned in the Gathas as such. The fact that these two
mentalities have their genesis in the Creating "Force" -- Ahura Mazda is
supported by the following quotation from Y47.3.
"Thou art the virtuous Father of this spirit, the spirit who fashioned the
joy-bringing cow [metaphor for "the good vision, a view of the world
governed by truth and good thinking4] for this world..." (Insler translation). 5
The above view that the two mentalities are in dynamic equilibrium, having
their genesis in Ahura Mazda and that only the "Good" and righteous must
prevail is, in simplified terms, the Gathic concept. This view however, has
undergone a profound change over centuries. As pointed out by Mr. Choksy,
"a gradual transformation of the Zoroastrian world view occurred from
the dynamic asymmetry of Gathas to the rigid cosmic dualism first
visible in Videvdat." 6
The aspect of Zoroastrian doctrine that postulates Ahura Mazda as the most
righteous, perfect and good creator in all respects, precludes the genesis
of Angra Mainyu from him. This paradox has led to two schools of thought
among the scholastic community.

(a) The view of Derived Dualism, where Ahura Mazda is the supreme creator
of all, and the two mainyus emanate from him. Rustom Masani, Framroze
Bode, Zehner, Guillemin, Fox, Gershevitch and Pour-e-Davoud are among the
Zoroastrian and non-Zoroastrian promoters of this view.
(b) In contrast, the other school of thought represents Primordial Dualism.
This view promotes the notion that the two mainyus are primordial in nature
and are responsible for two opposing creations. Among the supporters of this
view are Mary Boyce, Henning, Shaked, Dastur Dhalla, and their colleagues.
This viewpoint deviates from the Gathic concept in the following way: (1) it
compels the equating of Spenta Mainyu withAhura Mazda, (2) elevates the
evil mentality -- Angra Mainyu to the highest level as "Uncreated Opponent"
of Ahura Mazda, and (3) depicts the Creator less than omnipotent in the
present -- Gumezisn -- era.
It is this view of "Primordial Dualism" that led the Greek historians of the fourth
century BC to conclude that our faith supported the belief in two Gods -- the
God of Good, Ahura Mazda and the God of Evil, Angra Mainyu. This is
certainly not what the Gathas convey to us. Professor Gershevitch in his
analysis of the concept tells us:
"...the fourth century philosophers thought that the essence of the
Magian doctrine consisted in the opposition of Oromasdes [Ahura
Mazda] and Areimanios[in Avesta Angra Mainyu, in Pahlavi Ahriman], it is
clear that the Magi professed a dualist doctrine which differed
considerably from that of the Avesta." 7 7
Professor Douglas Fox, expressing his views on the subject, in his paper
"Darkness and Light" says that
"It is probable that the Magi added a number of innovations to
Zoroastrianism. None more significant than their clear-cut, rigid dualism
in the concept of a deity. This they achieved by diminishing the
individuality of Spenta Mainyu until he dissolved into Ahura Mazda and
then setting Ahura Mazda in direct conflict with Angra Mainyu...." 8 8
Regardless of the above discrepancy, the fact remains that the prophet
Zarathushtra's religious vision of a perfect ideal creation of Ahura Mazda, has
fallen far short in reality, to be achieved as a physical way of life. The
contemporary world view of the way of life is grossly contaminated and
polluted by the "Opposing Mentality" of evil and has to be cleansed of its way
in time.

What do we note within the divine plan of Ahura Mazda to achieve this
reformation? How can He restore this afflicted existence on this planet to its
primal state of pristine perfection and help achieve Frasho Kereti -- Absolute
Bliss?
This plan of effacing evil must include within it the supreme creation of Ahura
Mazda -- Humanity. Zoroastrianism postulates that Ahura Mazda created
humans to aid him in his struggle against Angra Mainyu as pointed out by
Gershevitch:
"God ...stands outside the struggle which is waged between the forces
of Truth and Falsehood. His only intervention consists in revealing to
Zarathushtra the responsibility which rests with mankind: the support
which each man lends to the side he has chosen will add permanent
strength to it... therefore acts of man will weigh the scales in favor of the
one side or the other." 9
It is generally accepted that souls that incarnate the world in mixed state of
good and evil (in Pahlavi,Gumezisn), are beset with the responsibility to take
up the cudgel to terminate evil.
According to Bundahisn 10 human souls consented to enter the physical world
to further the cause of Good. This is described in the scripture as follows:
"The fravahrs of men saw, by means of the Wisdom of all knowledge, the
evil that would arrive in the material world on account of the wicked
Ahriman, and the final inoffensiveness of the Adversary, and they
agreed to go to the material world, in order to become perfect and
deathless again, in the final material life, up to eternity and the eternal
progress."11
Zarathushtra expresses this notion (Y31.11) when he speaks of the creation
of the human body (in Avesta gaethaos), the conscience (in Avesta daenaos),
the innate mental intelligence (in Avesta manangaha)and the vital life force (in
Avesta ushtanem). A detailed account of this can be found in the Pahlavi
Scripture 12 and in Yasna 55.1 (not a part of the Gathas).
From the information available to us from the scriptures, it can be inferred that
the Creator has put together this mortal framework, interwoven with an erudite
convergence of the forces of divinity and intelligence within it. To paraphrase
the scriptures (Y45.9), the creator has assembled within this creation, the

supreme attributes so as to give humans the maximum chance to make a


"proper choice" and succeed (Y30.12) through good-thinking.
From a philosophical viewpoint, humans in every aspect are a synthesis: of
finite and infinite, of temporal and eternal. Humans are the only creation of
Ahura Mazda that have within them the potential of all the forces of creation
and destruction that operate in the entire universe. Despite these gifts of the
Creator, humans are often aware, neither of the possibilities of their greatness,
nor the extent of their weaknesses.
Much of the corpus of the Gathas is directed towards humanity. In particular,
many gathic verses instruct the adherents to find the path of righteousness (in
Avesta asha) through the "excellent divine intelligence" (in
Avesta vanghahevsha manangha). It is this prescription that pervades through
the Gathas as the most fundamental principle that can lead to the "Proper
Choice" and that will maintain harmony among humans and other elements
and between human beings themselves.
After having established the concept of the coalition of the two opposite
mentalities at the beginning of existence (Y30.3,4), the Gathas go on to
explain the assimilation of this doctrine within the human creation. Prophet
Zarathushtra, in his inborn wisdom was intensely perceptive of the reality. He
addresses this issue when he speaks of the Good-thinking (ashaune) and
evil-thinking (dregvatam) persons who put their minds on the respective paths
of Good and Evil by making a choice of the appropriate mental aspects
(Y30.4).
Yasna 31.11 pays tribute to the Wise Lord for the creation of humanity with
freedom of expression and goes on in the next verse (Y31.12) to allude to the
presence of two mainyus in the human mind. It further suggests that through
devotion and piety, the revelation of ashoi(righteousness) will come to prevail
over evil. Insler's translation of Y31.12 expresses this as follows:
"...one raises his voice in accord with both his heart and his mind, be he
false-speaking or true-speaking, be he knowing or unknowing. (But) in
due course piety shall come to terms with one's spirit where there has
been opposition." 13
Y45 reinforces the message of choice between the two mentalities by the
human mind. It reiterates to humanity that perfection and immortality will come
to those who follow the path of righteousness through good-thinking. That

good is one of two choices which the human mind can make is once again
evident in the later part of this Gatha:
"...Him who left to our will (to choose between) the virtuous and the
unvirtuous...." (Y45.9 Insler translation 14 )
It is thus abundantly clear that the GENESIS of Good and Evil resides in close
proximity with the CHOICE made by HUMANITY through the exercise of
FREE WILL. To make the PERFECT CHOICE of its own FREE WILL is the
plane of evolution that will be synchronous with the beginning of
the Frashokereti (Y34.13), the resurrection of absolute perfection. Through
this plan Ahura Mazda -- Lord of Wisdom -- will restore His people to Himself.
Jehan Bagli, 1990.

Dr. Jehan Bagli obtained a Doctorate in Medicinal Chemistry at the University


of London. He has done post-doctoral research, at Johns Hopkins University,
and at Laval University in Quebec. He now works in Princeton New Jersey as
a senior research chemist at the Wyeth-Ayerst Research Laboratories where
he is the Associate Director for Exploratory Chemistry. Dr. Bagli became an
ordained priest at the age of 14 years. He has been the Editor of Gavashni,
since its inception in 1974, and is also presently the Editor of the FEZANA
Journal. He has lectured at Zoroastrian Congresses in Toronto, Chicago and
Los Angeles. He started studying Zoroastrianism on his own in 1968, and has
studied the Gathas, also on his own, for many years. He relies on the
translations of Insler, Framroze Rustomjee, Taraporewala, J.H. Chatterji,
Kenneth Guthrie, Bode & Nanavutty, and T.R. Sethna.

Footnotes:
1. Insler, The Gathas of Zarathushtra, page 101 (E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1975).
2. F. Rustomjee, The Philosophical, Spiritual, and Ethical Interpretation of
Gathas of Holy Zarathushtra, page 28-30.
3. Dastur F.A. Bode & P. Nanavutty, Songs of Zarathushtra, The Gathas,
page 31, (George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1952).
4. Insler, ibid, page 25, footnote 2.
5. Insler, ibid, page 89.

6. J.K. Choksy, Purity and Pollution in Zoroastrianism, page 3, (University


of Texas Press, Austin 1989).
7. I. Gershevitch, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Volume 23, pages 15,
16 (1964).
8. D.A. Fox, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Volume 35,
page 133, (1967).
9. Gershevitch, ibid. page 14.
10.
Bundahisn is an important text of the Pahlavi era. Its precise date
is not known, however it is generally dated around the 6th to 8th century
AC -- about 2,000 years after the era of prophet Zarathushtra. See
Boyce, History of Zoroastrianism, Volume 1, page 130 (E.J. Brill, Leiden,
1975).
11.
B.T. Anklesaria, Zand-Akasih, Iranian or Greater Bundahisn,
Chapter III, verse 23, 24, (Bombay 1956).
12.
Anklesaria, ibid. Chapter III verse 13.
13.
Insler, ibid. page 39.
14.
Insler, ibid. page 77

Sketches of Ahura Mazda


(Quotations from the Gathas)
(Insler translation)

"...We have said


that ye are above all others
be they fierce gods or mortals."
(34.5).

"When I... call upon truth,


the Wise One and the other lords [benevolent immortals]
shall appear;
also reward and .. [aramaiti].

(And) through the very best thinking


I shall seek for myself
their rule of strength,
through whose growth we might
conquer deceit."
(Y31.4).

"...Thine the fashioner of [the good vision], namely, that spirit of great
determination..."
(Y31.9).

"...But the very virtuous spirit, ...


chose the truth,
and (so shall those) who shall satisfy the Wise Lord continuously with
true actions."
(Y30.5)

"What prize Zarathushtra ...


promised to his adherents -into that House of Song
did the Wise Lord come as the first one.
This prize has been promised to you during the times of salvation
by reason of your good thinking
and truth.."
(Y51.15).

"...let that salvation of yours


be granted to us:
truth allied with good thinking!..."
(Y51.20).

"...Thou who, up to now indeed, hast been the same, Lord."


(Y31.7).

Selections from the Gathas


(Insler translation)

"...If...one shall defeat deceit by truth...


then one shall increase Thy glory, Lord, during those times of
salvation."
(Y48.1).

"The one of evil doctrine...


He has ruined the intention of life
by his...teachings.
He has robbed the esteemed power
which really belongs to good thinking.
I lament these words of my spirit
(to Thee), Wise One, and to truth -to all of you!"
(Y32.9).

"...those who, being full of disobedience do not pursue truth's care and
company,
nor delight in the counsel of good thinking..."
(Y44.13).

"Shameful are the many sins by which one attains fame,..


(But) Thou knowest, Lord, (only) when there is uplifting of beings
with the very best thinking,
fame is to serve Thee and the truth, Wise One, under Thy rule."
(Y32.6).

"Because of such (evil) rule,


the destroyers of this world viewed
their riches in the
House of Worst Thinking...."
(Y32.13).

"Virtuous is the man of [aramaiti].


He is so by reason of his understanding, his words, his action, his
[vision]..."
(Y51.21).

"All those (beings) whose way of life is good for Thee


those who have been, and those who are, and those who shall be
give them a share in Thy approval, Wise One.
(And) grow Thyself, in breath and body, through the rule of good
thinking and of truth."
(Y33.10).

Good & Evil


Ali A. Jafarey & Kersey H. Antia

Unlike the Gathas, Zoroastrianism, in its late fully institutionalized form, is


definitely a dualistic religion. There is an all-out cosmic war between the
forces of good and evil. On one side, one sees Ohrmazd, the God of Good
and Light; six Amashaspands, Holy immortals or His archangel-type
associates; numerous Yazads, Adorables, or angel-type assistants;
innumerable Fravahrs, Guardian Spirits; and of course, the host of ahlavs, the
righteous people. On the opposite side one finds Ahreman, Lord of Evil and

Darkness, the Devil; six archfiends; numerous Devs, fiends; and of course,
the horde of dravands, the evil people (nothing however is specified to oppose
the Fravahrs. They do not, somehow, seem to have their corresponding
adversaries). 1 The war between Ohrmazd andAhreman is constant and
continuous, and the fortunes of the participants fluctuate in a see-saw fashion,
sometimes with the good having an upper hand, and sometimes the evil. Both
sides have their winning and losing battles, but in the end the omniscient-butnot-omnipotent Ohrmazd and his warriors will win the war. The battles are
fought, of course, on age-old chivalrous
principles. Ohrmazd combats Ahreman, each specifiedAmashaspand battles
with his or her adversary in the hexad of archfiends, and so on. Each good
entity shall have his or her adversary downed on the day of victory. Evil and
Darkness shall be vanquished, and Good and "the Endless Lights" shall
prevail forever. 2
Although the real culprit is Ahreman, man is also punished for choosing to fall
with the fiend. This constitutes a semi-escapist theory and as we shall see,
stands in sharp contrast to the logical coherence of the Gathas. It is semiescapist to the extent that it puts the blame of one's wrong acts on a
supernatural entity and relieves mankind of the direct responsibility for their
actions.

Zarathushtra's Answer.
Of those who do not resort to escapism, Zarathushtra stands first and
foremost. The Gathas do not provide any answer that would place the blame
on any entity other than human beings. Contrary to the cosmic dualism of later
Zoroastrianism and the chaos and illogic ensuing from it, the Gathas find the
entire universe quite in order and with an unmatched logic of its own. No war.
No struggle. The universe, fashioned and promoted by Mazda, is good. The
Gathas, again, do not speak of any natural disasters. "The living world (gam),
and the waters (apas-cha), and the vegetables (urvaraos-cha)" (Y51.7) are on
their path to wholeness (haurvatat) if human beings respect the universal law
of righteousness (asha). The only deduction, a very logical one, that a
studious Gathist can make is that Mazda Ahura, literally the "SupremeIntellect Being," the "most progressive" (spentotema), who "came first...in the
House of Song," (Y51.15), has fashioned the living world through the
progressive mentality (spenta mainyu) and placed it on the path of progress
toward wholeness and immortality, (Y43 and 44, Y45.5, Y51.7, 15) and
therefore the living world, fashioned in its infancy, is growing and going on

well, despite the pangs of growth, on the path of asha towards the final
goal. 3 Changes -- earthquakes, floods, the interdependence of living
creatures from the diminutive virus to the giant whale, and other so-called
"acts of God" or doings of the Devil -- on and in this evolving earth are seen
as the natural process of unfolding of the law of asha. Since Ahura Mazda in
the Gathas and in the later Avesta and the good order in the universe
fashioned and being fashioned by Mazda's spenta mainyu lie outside the
scope of this particular essay, we are unable to expand on this topic.
Before we review the Gathas for good and evil, let us quote from the essay
"Spenta Mainyu" in An Introduction to the Gathas of Zarathushtra,No. 3,
December 1989), that (a) "spenta mainyu" [represents] the subtle divine
faculty of the continuous creation and expansion plan of Ahura Mazda and (b)
that "the Gathas do not mention anhra mainyu at all. In other words, anhra
mainyu does not exist as a compound word, a formalized term, in any of the
texts in the Gathic dialect. The dualism of "Good and Evil", highly dramatized
in the later Avesta, is simply not related to the divine spenta mainyu." There is,
in fact, no place for anhra mainyu in the Gathic logic. 4

Gathic Dualism.
The question then arises: Is there any dualism in the Gathas? The answer is a
definite Yes. Zarathushtra places utmost emphasis on the subject. He asks
his listeners to hear the best, to ponder with an illuminated mind so as to
choose between good and evil (Y30.2). He says in his first discourse on this
important subject:
1. The two foremost mentalities, known to be imaginary twins, are
thebetter and the bad in thoughts, words, and deeds. Of these the
beneficent choose correctly, but not so the maleficent. (Y30.3).
2. When the two mentalities first got together, they created "life" (gaya)
and "not-living" (ajyaiti). Until the end of existence (ahu), the worst mind
shall be for the wrongful, and the best mind shall be for the righteous.
(Y30.4).
3. Of these two mentalities, the wrongful mentality chose worst actions and
the most progressive mentality, steadfast as rock, chose righteousness.
Therefore, those who would please the Wise God may do so by
choosing true actions. (Y30.5).
4. Between these two, the seekers of false gods did not decide correctly,
because delusion came to them in their deliberations. Therefore, they

chose the worst mind, rushed in wrath, and afflicted human existence.
(Y30.6).
5. To the person who chooses correctly, comes endurance of body and
steadfast serenity through strength, good mind, and righteousness. Of
these, such a person shall be Yours, because he has come fully out of
the fiery test. (Y30.7).
His second discourse, addressed sometime later to an apparently much larger
gathering, states:
1. I shall proclaim, hear and listen, you who have come from near and far
as seekers. Now, clearly bear these in mind. Let not the evil teachers,
the wrongful, with his evil choice and perverted tongue, destroy life for a
second time. (Y45.1).
2. I shall proclaim the two foremost mentalities of life. Of these, themore
progressive one (spanya) told the retarding one (angra) thus: Neither
our thoughts, nor teachings, nor intellects, nor choices, nor words, nor
deeds, nor consciences, nor souls agree. (Y45.2).
Should one read the entire Yasna sections 30, 31, and 45, in other words, all
those Gathic passages that expound upon the "two principles" of good and
evil, one would realize the fact that the whole problem simply does not exist
outside the bounds of human society. There is absolutely no reference to a
space outside our earthly environment, the universe, or the entire creation.
Furthermore, the Gathas do not state that the two mentalities are engaged in
a conflict or war. They only say that the two do not agree in any of their
aspects. It is the choosers who are opposed to one another. While one is
constructively beneficial, the other is destructively inimical.
Let us look again at the statements and this time concentrate on the words
chosen by Zarathushtra to present his doctrine. First he calls his doctrine of
"good and evil" as two principles (urvata) (Y30.11, 31.1, 3). He does not talk
about any of the two opposing entities or forces as expounded by the
authorities of the Sassanian days or the scholars of cosmic dualism in our
own time. He speaks of "the two principles of prosperity and adversity (khviticha eneiti) established by the Wise One" (Y30.11), and he speaks about them
at length in Yasna 31 and in other stanzas. He uses vahya, better
(comparative degree), against aka, bad (Y30.3). In another instance (Y45.2),
he takes spanya, more incremental, more progressive (again comparative
degree) against angra, retarding or hostile. Note that there is no juxtaposition
of the term spenta mainyu and the later term anhra mainyu.
Moreover, angra is mentioned six times in the Gathas (43.15, 44.12 three

times, 45.2, and 48.10), and except for the single instance referenced above,
all references are meant for human beings. 5 Is this not strange? A great
exponent such as Zarathushtra comes forward to explain his most precious
doctrine and yet he has not coined a standard term for one of the two factors
of his doctrine! He uses his coined term spenta mainyu related to the
Supreme Being fourteen times, and he does not mention at all the term anhra
mainyu, mentioned by the later Avesta and described at length by the Pahlavi
literature as the "adversary" of spenta mainyu, Ahura Mazda or Ohrmazd. The
reason is obvious: these two do not and cannot logically stand against each
other in the Gathas. There is simply nothing opposed to the "creative mind
of Ahura Mazda." The termmainyu occurs once more in loose juxtaposition
with aka (Y32.5) in which Zarathushtra poetically addresses daevas, false
gods, and says that they have provided the wrongful with power through evil
mentality (aka mainyu), and evil thoughts, words and deeds. There is no other
mention of an evil mainyu in the entire Gathic texts. Even if we concede to
those who insist that mainyu means "spirit" in the Gathas, the realm of the two
"spirits" does not go beyond the realm of human beings, and it neverextends
to the cosmos. But, as already stated, the Gathas call it the doctrine of "two
principles" which is what the Gathic dualism really is.
Two other words used by Zarathushtra are very important: life (gaya) and notliving (ajyaiti). 6 A person can have his life with all its good potentialities or
otherwise, although living, he has no life with a subtle purpose. He is, in fact, a
spiritually dead person. Another point to note is that the law of "bad for the
bad and a good reward for the good" (Y43.5) will last until the final turn of
creation but a person will "get much bad" for his failure at "the turning point of
his life" (Y51.6) and existence, and that this law will "last until the end of
existence" (Y30.4) in this living world. We shall elaborate this point later.
The fiery or purifying metal test stands for the ordeal one goes through by
choosing good and progressive thoughts, words and deeds as against "wrong
[which] is attractive and appears to have advantages" (Y53.6).

Good and Evil.


What is good and what is bad? The Gathas explain it in a very simple form
and yet present a sublime doctrine: All that helps the living world to prosper is
good, and all that serves to harm it is bad. To be good is to choose adhering
to asha, the universal law of righteousness, truth and precision. When one
does a thing in its proper way, he or she obtains the proper result. Asha in

action is, therefore, doing the right thing, at the right time, at the right place,
for the right reason, and with the right means in order to obtain the right result.
It is prudent precision in every thought, word, and deed. Otherwise the result
will not be right. It will be wrong. Zarathushtra uses the term druj, harmful lie,
wrong.
In his great vision, Zarathushtra perceived a highly scientific law working in
the universe which he called the law of asha. Any deviation from this law
is druj. 7 He categorizes human behavior into two: asha and druj. This is the
Gathic dualism. Those who follow asha are ashavan, righteous, precise,
truthful. Those who turn to druj are dregvant, lying, wrongful, erroneous. The
human world is divided into two parties or factions (rana) (Y31.3, 19, Y43.12,
Y47.6, Y51.9). Zarathushtra's mission is to eliminate the false belief in
supernatural forces and imaginary deities which was so prevalent in his times
[they still prevail] and to help men and women to realize that they are God's
agents on this earth and that they are made of divine essence which they
could realize fully by their good deeds, words and venerations. (Y34.1).
To summarize: The Gathic good and evil is related to the realm of human
beings only. It is human mentality that leads to thoughts, word, and deeds. A
"better or more progressive" mentality promotes human well-being. An "evil or
retarding" mentality distorts it. All those actions that make human society and
thereby the entire living world advance mentally and materially are good, and
all those deeds that reverse this process are evil. Mental (manyava), or to use
the current term "spiritual" progress leads one to understand the divine
doctrine and to know God. Physical (astavant) or material progress leads to
an ever-better living. Both of these intertwined spiritual and material states are
to be promoted equally to wholeness. The human society in the Gathas is
based on home (demana) or family (khaetu), the smallest unit; district (vis) or
community (verezena), consisting of districts and their communities; and
finally the living world (go) comprising of all that exists on this good earth
(Y31.16, 18, Y32.1, Y33.3, 4, Y46.1, 4, Y49.7, Y53.4, 54.1). Righteousness
begins at home, and keeps working through the ever-expanding network of
interconnected districts and lands, finally reaching the entire world.

Consequences.
Man or woman, as an individual, is but a component of the smallest human
unit -- family. He or she is free to constantly make a choice
between asha and druj. The consequences, however, are obvious because

good or bad acts by an individual ultimately cross his or her personal


boundaries and affect the four social units. At a time when most of mankind
worshipped supernatural forces and imaginary gods whom Zarathushtra
vehemently opposes in the Gathas, Zarathushtra was the first one in the world
to emphasize the importance of individual responsibility and free will.
The Gathas make it clear:
1. I realized You, God Wise, to be progressive (spenta) when I saw
You at the birth of life, and found that You have ordained that
actions and words should have consequences: bad for the bad,
and a good reward for the good. It shall be so through Your
excellence until the final turn of the creation(dami) (Y43.5).Y43.5). 8
2. The Wise God gives, through His sovereignty, much good to him
who succeeds for the sake of conviction. But he who does not
strengthen it shall get much bad at the turning point of his
life (ahu) (Y51.6).
3. Let one tell the wise that evil is for the wrongful and radiant
happiness is for him who upholds righteousness. Truly, he who
tells this thought-provoking message to the wise, will thereby
become happy (Y51.8).
4. You grant happiness to both factions through Your bright fire,
Wise One, as well as through the purifying metal test. This is the
established principle of existence: Sufferings for the wrongful and
blessings for the righteous. (Y51.9).
The Gathas make it explicitly clear that the consequences of man's actions
are relevant. A good act enriches the world and mankind, and a bad deed
leads to destitution of life. Each action leads to a reaction. The Gathas do not
store good actions and bad deeds in two separate stacks, keeping them for
the supposed day when the soul faces certain divinities who act as judges on
"chinvat pohl" and weigh the two stacks to find which one is heavier so that
the deserved reward or punishment is given to the soul. In the Gathas there is
no specific day -- the so-calledrastakhiz, final resurrection -- to announce the
judgments and finalize the issues. The Gathas make no mention of
imaginative consequences of which no one knows anything. They advise us to
realize the truth ashathrough seraosha -- listening to the divine voice within us,
through enhancing peace and prosperity in our living world, and through
fostering the interdependence between the different elements of nature.
To find out what happens to the soul after its separation from the physical
body, one who is imaginatively interested in eschatology, would have to turn

to later Avestan texts or better to the Pahlavi scriptures, or of course to the


contemporary lores in the Middle East. The Gathas would certainly disappoint
him or her unless of course an arbitrary recourse is made to interpretation and
imagination.

Soul. 9
The Gathas and their closest supplement Haptanghaiti (which we believe was
composed by one or more companions of Zarathushtra) give us an altogether
new view. The study of all the instances found in the two scriptures shows that
men and animals, in fact, the living world have souls. Soul is associated with
conscience, intellect, teaching, choice, thoughts, words, and deeds. Soul
grows strong through righteousness. It attains "good happiness" by consulting
good mind (vohu manah) and understanding the reality of life through
righteousness. In fact, a progressive man's soul realizes righteousness (asha)
(Y34.2). Therefore, Zarathushtra in his opening prayer, aspires to please the
soul of the living world by his wise and righteous actions in order to usher in a
new era and attunes his soul to good mind (Y28.1). His soul turns to divine
principles of righteousness and the best mind for help for himself and his
companions (Y50.1). When oppressed, the soul complains to God for help
(Y29.1, Y50.1). Soul and conscience upbraid a wrongful person at the sorting
bridge (chinvato pereto), the crossroads of good and evil (Y46.11, Y51.13). In
fact, if it belongs to an "evil-ruling, evil-doing, evil-speaking, evil-conceiving,
and evil-thinking person, it returns back because it has really been dwelling as
a "guest" in the "house of wrong." (YY49.11). Souls of the righteous, eternally
strong, are guarded by Ahura Mazda in his abode (Y49.10). The wrongful,
especially the superstitious ritualistic priests and princes, are upbraided by
their souls because they dwell all along in the house of wrong (Y46.11). They
experience repeated failures. The singers of Haptanghaiti join in by venerating
the soul of the living world, their own souls, those of their domesticated
animals, and particularly "the souls of law-abiding, righteous persons, born in
whatever land, both men and women, whose consciences are growing, have
grown, or shall grow." (Y39.1-2).
In the Gathas, the soul, if it belongs to a righteous one, lives eternally in the
divine abode, but if it belongs to a wrongful one, it temporarily resides, as a
guest, in its world of wrong. In other words, only the souls of the righteous
cross over the sorting bridge, and those of the wrongful return until the
wrongful are refined to be worthy of the crossing at the final turn of their lives.
It may be pointed out that there is no indication that the soul is subjected to

the consequences of good deeds and evil actions. The rewards and
reprimands are more mental than physical and are meted out through
one's daena, conscience.

Where the Wrongful?


Zarathushtra makes it clear in his very first discourse on good and evil that
one suffers the consequences of evil acts only until such time that one
realizes the truth and chooses good. Zarathushtra says:
"When the offenders undergo their punishment, then O Wise One, the
dominion will be realized for them through good mind. God, then they
shall be taught how to deliver the wrong into the hands of
righteousness." (Y30.8).
He then makes his famous wish:
"May we be among those who make this life fresh! You, lords of wisdom,
who bring happiness through righteousness, come, let us be singleminded in the realm of inner-intellect." (Y30.9).
He wishes all the wise people to unite and pool their wisdom in order to create
a new world. He adds:
"Then, indeed, the power of wrong shall be shattered. Then those who
strive with good name shall immediately be united in the good abode of
good mind and righteousness of the Wise One." (Y30.9).
Guidance to righteousness is extended to all, as is salvation (Y28.5, Y30.8,
Y31.3, 19). The only difference is that salvation is easy for the righteous and
hard for the wrongful. It is our opinion that what Zarathushtra calls the fiery or
metal ordeal is the process of going through this hardship.

The Sorting Bridge.


But what is the sorting bridge, chinvato peretu or as commonly calledchinvat
pul? It is mentioned thrice in the Gathas. It is the bridge which separates
Zarathushtra and his companions from the wrongful people. Speaking of the

earlier failures in his divine mission and the ultimate success in Yasna 46,
Zarathushtra states:
"Wise God, whoever, man or woman, shall give me what You know to be
the best in life -- rewards for righteousness, power through good mind -I shall accompany him and her in glorifying such as You are, and shall,
with all of them, cross over the sorting bridge."(Y46.10).
Then he turns to the priests and princes, bent on destroying life (ahu) with
their evil actions, and says that they are upbraided by their souls when they
approach the bridge, only to return until they turn into righteous persons
(Y46.11). It must be made clear here that whether the verb paiti-yeinti is taken
to mean "return" or "approach", the Gathas do not give the slightest chance of
interpreting it to fit with the common notion that those not crossing the bridge
fall down into hell. 10 In the third instance, Zarathushtra points out:
"Thus the conscience of the wrongful truly abandons the path of the
upright. His soul openly upbraids him in front of the sorting bridge,
because it is his deeds and teachings, a doctrine that ultimately places
them in the house of wrong." (Y51.13).
The context of the Gathas on this particular subject is such that it points to
one's existence in this living world and not going through an eschatological
process leading to a hell beyond.
Does it mean another life? Zarathushtra, divinely logical as he always is, does
not describe a vivid picture of a state from which no one has physically
returned to tell his experiences. He does speak about the consequences of
our thoughts, words, and deeds -- better for the good and bad for the evil. Yet
he does not draw a line between life and after-death. In fact, "life does not part
with death. It is indeed a continuity. And death, a natural process, is a
transitory passage, perhaps in an anesthetic state, to eternity, finality." 11
Zarathushtra speaks but once of a future life (parahum). The stanza reads:
"Whoever truly accomplishes through righteousness the complete
renovation of life for me, Zarathushtra, as is the will of God, deserves
the desired future-life in a fruitful living world as a reward." (Y46.9).
This does not seem to allude to a heaven. It is the fruitful living world in which
we live. Garo demana, the house of song, interpreted to mean paradise as
against drujo demana, house of wrong, are explained in the Gathas as the

house of good mind (vangheush demane manangho), in which Zarathushtra


wants us all to "offer Him [Ahura] our devotions." The house of wrong is the
house of worst mind in this earthly life of exploitation and destruction. The
Gathas say that while turning to good mind and righteousness leads one on
the path to wholeness and immortality and places one in the "house of song"
to live with Ahura Mazda; however, the wrongful, remaining behind, are
ultimately refined too, so as to be able to attain wholeness and eternity. In fact,
the sublime songs repeatedly emphasize progress, wholeness and immortality
as the goal of life to reach, rather, to return to Ahura Mazda. The house of
song or the house of good mind are but allegories for the ultimate mental state
of a righteous person. 12
A question arises now. Was the Zarathushtrian view of the refinement and the
ultimate union of soul with Godhead lost to institutionalized Zoroastrianism,
but retained, transformed, and expanded by Hinduism, Buddhism, and
Jainism in the east, by Gnosticism in the west, and by Manichaeism on the
Iranian Plateau and around, only to emerge in a form of Sufism under
Islam?13 Although we know for certain that Zarathushtrian teachings did find
their way to east and west and influenced Indian thought, Greek philosophy,
and other knowledge-seeking circles, a satisfactory answer requires a deeper
study of the subject.
But whatever the outcome, the fact is that the Gathas do not speak about
heaven and hell, or of judgment, or of a physical or spiritual resurrection, or of
reincarnation and transmigration (samsara), or release (moksha), or
emptiness (shunya), but only point to the refining of soul through mind for an
ultimate existence with God. A final word of caution. The Gathas are our
Guide, our compass. They are thought-provokers (manthras). They guide and
enlighten our thoughts, point to the right direction, then leave it entirely to us
to proceed on a search in order to discover, determine and comprehend the
truth. They want us to think, speak, and work for righteousness (asha), good
mind (vohu manah), good rule (vohu khshathra), serenity (aramaiti),
wholeness (haurvatat), and immortality (ameretat), in order to inspire and
enable us to dwell with our loving God in the blissful state of songful life for
ever.

Conclusion.
The two discourses of Zarathushtra (Y30 and 45) should provide us with our
conclusion. Good and evil and their consequences depend on thoughts,

words and particularly deeds. The word shyaothana, translated as"deed" or


"action," literally means "endeavor" and therefore carries a stronger notion
than the Hindu and Buddhist term of karma which simply means
"action". Shyaothana is a serious contemplated effort directed to a definite
goal. Obviously, it is the consequences of our shyaothana, endeavors which
determine how long and how hard it takes a soul to reach its goal.
The two, good and evil, stand poles apart. Men and women who, using the
faculties of good "thoughts, teachings, intellects, choices, words, deeds,
consciences, and souls" (Y45.2) at their command, pay never-failing attention
and reverences to the "word which the Most Progressive One told"
Zarathushtra "shall have wholeness and immortality to reach the Wise God
through their actions of good mind." (Y45.6). He terms the ultimate goal as
"ushta", health and happiness through enlightenment which radiates
happiness to others. (Y43.1).
"O mortals, understand the two principles of prosperity and adversity
established by the Wise One, which are long suffering for the wrongful
and lasting good for the righteous; you shall, then, enjoy radiant
happiness(ushta)." (Y30.11).
May this treatise prove useful in inspiring the reader in his or her own spiritual
quest.
Ali A. Jafarey & Kersey H. Antia, 1990.

Dr. A. A. Jafarey, studied Avesta and Pahlavi with Dr. Manek Pithawalla,
Principle of the Parsi High School in Karachi, and later with Dastur Dr. M.N.
Dhalla, High Priest of Pakistan, under whom he also studied the Gathas. Dr.
Jafarey has a Doctorate in Persian Literature from the University of Karachi,
worked briefly for Aramco in Saudi Arabia, then founded his own business in
Tehran offering translation services to commercial ventures. He worked for 17
years in the Ministry of Culture and Arts in Tehran, where part of his duties
involved the supervision of doctoral students in Persian Literature at the
University of Tehran. Since 1963 he has served as a Board Member and
Trustee of the Ancient Iranian Cultural Society, first in Tehran and now in Los
Angeles. He has written 11 books in Persian and English on the
Zarathushtrian religion, and in 1981 published a translation of the Gathas in
Persian. An English translation, The Gathas, Our Guide, Ushta Publications
P.O. Box 2160, Cypress CA 90630 is now available.

Dr. Kersey Antia is High Priest of the Zoroastrian Association of Chicago,


Illinois, a position he has held since 1977. He attended the M.F. Cama
Athornan Institute in Bombay for 9 years where he received an award for
excellence, and became an ordained priest at the age of 13. He studied
Avesta and Pahlavi in secondary school and at the University of Bombay.
While in college, he received essay-awards from the K.R. Cama Oriental
Institute, and has served the community as a volunteer priest ever since his
first job as a Tata officer in 1960.. He obtained a Masters in Psychology from
North Carolina State University, and a Doctorate in Psychology from Indiana
Northern University. After working as a psychologist at the University of North
Carolina, in private industry and for the State of Illinois, his is now engaged in
full time private practice. He has lectured and written on the subject of
Zoroastrianism, in India and the United States, both live and on radio and on
television, and has made video courses on Zoroastrianism. He has studied
the Gathas on his own for many years. Utilizing, at first, the translations of
Kanga, Mills, and Taraporewala, he now relies primarily on Dr. Insler's
translation.

All translations from the Gathas are from The Gathas, Our Guide, Ali A.
Jafarey, Ushta Publications P.O. Box 1260, Cypress, CA 90630, 1989.
The texts in the Gathic dialect of the Avestan language consist of:Ahunavar
(Yatha Ahu Vairyo), the seventeen songs which are the Gathas themselves
(Y28 to 34, Y43 to 51, Y53), Airyema Ishya (Y54.1), andAshem
Vohu (Y27.14),all of which we believe were composed by Zarathushtra
himself, and Haptanghaiti (Y35 to 41) the seven-chapters;Yenghe Hatam, a
formula honoring men and women; the Fshusho Manthra, the Prospering
Thought-provoker (Y58); the Hadhaokhta, in praise of inspiration (Y56); and
the Fravarti, the "Choice of Religion" formula of initiation (Y11.17 to 13.3).
Collectively, these Gathic texts are called Staota Yesnya in Avesta and Stot
Yasn in Pahlavi.

Footnotes:

1. If one thinks of Fravahrs as a fundamental element of later


Zoroastrianism, this oversight itself suggests a hole in the dualistic
theory.
2. Dhalla, History of Zoroastrianism, (New York, 1938), pages 257 and 384.
3. The late Dr. Irach J.S. Taraporewala puts it thus: "This is a remarkable
idea that Ahura Mazda himself is advancing at the head of all His
Creation." The Divine Songs of Zarathushtra, Bombay, 1951, page 805.
4. Angra which means retarding and evil, is Gathic,
and anhra oranghra, always used in combination with mainyu is the
later Avesta formalized form of it.
5. "One should never try to please wrongful people because they
hold the righteous as being totally bad (angreng) (Y43.15);
"Who sides with evil (angro), and who is evil (angro) himself? Why
should I not consider the person who is wrongfully set against
Your gains, to be evil (angro)?" (Y44.12).
"It is through it [the filthy intoxicant] that the priests and the
wicked rulers of the lands form their evil (angraya) intellects."(Y48.10)
See also Taraporewala, ibid., pages 453-455, 499-502, 685; and
Insler, The Gathas of Zarathushtra, (Leiden, 1975), pages 65, 71, 93.
6. While gaya stands for life, the vital force, jyaiti and its variants mean
living, way of life (Y31.15, Y32.5, 11-12, 15, Y33.10, Y46.4, 8, Y53.9).
It's negative, ajyaiti is not "death" but "lack of living".
7. The Pahlavi dualistic theory simply cannot be compatible with the law
of asha because man's deeds, word and venerations alone further the
cause of asha and the spiritual progress (Y34.1), and these alone and
not an outside agent such as the so-called Ahremanare instrumental in
determining human destiny. However, one must realize that the Pahlavi
literature was written nearly 2,000 years after the Gathas were first sung
by Zarathushtra, when knowledge of the Gathic language was almost
practically lost to the Pahlavi writers and when there were many other
influences including some alien ones working on them at the time. The
Pahlavi translation of the Gathic verses hardly comes close to its
original meaning. It may very well be that Zarathushtra's highly
philosophical and moralistic message was rather ahead of its times, and
people tended to fall back on their earlier ways of thinking and later
influences. The abstraction inherent in a moralistic dualism was perhaps
hard for the common man to follow, which seems to have led to thinking
in concrete terms such as cosmic dualism between Ohrmazd and

Ahreman. One therefore, cannot blame the Pahlavi writers for


describing the dualism of Zarathushtra as best as they perceived it. But
modern philology enables us to come much closer to understanding the
Gathic message than the Pahlavi writers ever could. Therefore, it is up
to everyone to study the Gathas on his or her own and, as Zarathushtra
exhorts, decide for himself or herself with the light of his or her own
intellect (Y30.2) whether his dualist teaching is the same as described
by later writers.
8. Here Mazda is mentioned as ruling through His excellence until the final
turn, which is in direct contrast to the Pahlavi tradition where Ohrmazd
and Ahreman are equal until the end of time.
9. This discussion on the Soul has been included in this essay because it
is related to the consequences of good and evil.
10.
The tales of chinvat pul becoming a broad road for the righteous
to easily cross over and turning into as thin as a hair and as sharp as a
razor for the wrongful to split into two and drop down into hell and
detailed descriptions of heaven with all its pleasures and hell with all the
sadistic tortures are written in Pahlavi and Persian books. The Younger
Avesta has a few allusions to the state of the world beyond and that too
in very late compositions. See also Dhalla, ibid. for the description and
references.
11.
It may be pointed out that natural death is not at all evil in the
Avesta. It is only the death through violence -- murder, killing, slaughter
-- which is considered as an evil act. See "Death in the Gathas." A. A.
Jafarey, The Zoroastrian, bimonthly bulletin of the California Zoroastrian
Center, June and July 1988.
12.
Parahum, future life (Y46.19); garo demana, the house of song
(Y45.8, Y50.4, Y51.15); vangheush demane manangho, house of good
mind (Y32.15); drujo demana, house of wrong (Y46.11, Y49.11,
Y51.14); Achistahya demane manangho, house of worst mind,
(Y32.13,). Had these been related to the so-called dramatizedspenta
mainyu and anghra mainyu, the two "abodes" would have definitely
been named after them to read spentahya demana mainyeush,
and angrahya demana mainyeush!
13.
It is interesting to note that Sufism, with its roots deep into the
cooexisting Zoroastrianism and Buddhism of pre-Islamic days in Central
Asia, has some of its orders which believe that the soul remains in this
world until it is refined enough to rise and get "lost" into the Godhead
(fana fi-Allah). Did the Gathic concept of refinement and union and the
Buddhist idea of shunya blend to give the Sufis the belief?

Editor's Note: Evil, An Interesting Quandary

Questions regarding the origins and the nature of evil have puzzled man for
millennia. And no religion of which I am aware has come up with a 100%
satisfactory answer to the question of how did evil originate? Sometime in or
about the 8th or 9th Century AD, these questions were pondered by a
Zoroastrian intellect of that time, Mardan-farukh 1 who describes himself as a
student, and not a teacher:
"Because I, who am the composer, do not hold the station of teaching, but of
learning." SBE page 121.
A wise man indeed. For in such matters we are all more students than
teachers. His one work which has come down to us -- a dissertation
entitled Sikand Gumanik Vijar -- displays an inquiring and incisive mind which
has the courage to reason and express his convictions, even though certain
premises on which his arguments are based are not in accord with our
knowledge today, or with Zarathushtra's thoughts as expressed in the Gathas.
For by the time Mardan-farukh wrote -- some 2,600 years after Zarathushtra,
all knowledge of the Gathic language had long since been lost. 2
To Mardan-farukh the material creation was divided into what was good and
what was noxious or vile (a wolf, for example was a noxious creature, and
those who held otherwise lacked understanding Chapter III verse 19 SBE
page 125). He reasons (among other things) that the existence of an
uncreated good God is undeniably evidenced by the existence of a good
creation, for one could not have what is made without a maker (Chapter VI
verse 9, SBE page 147). And the converse would also be true -- the existence
of an evil uncreated competitor to the good god is evidenced by the existence
of a noxious creation. In pondering the origins of evil, he further reasons that if
God is all-good, then He cannot be the source of evil, and if He is the source
of any evil, He would not be all good, and therefore would not be worthy of
worship.
"If the sacred being be perfect in goodness and wisdom, the folly and evil of
any one are known not to arise from him. If it be possible for them to arise

from him, then he is not perfect. If he be not perfect, it is not proper to glorify
him for the sacredness of complete goodness...." Chapter VIII, verses 108 109, SBE page 160.
He acknowledges the existence of two fundamental schools of thought -- one
which believes that both good and evil proceed from one sacred being, and
the other which asserts:
"that all the good of the world, besides the hope of preserving the soul, is
owing to the sacred being; and the cause of all evil of the body, besides the
risk of the soul, is owing to Aharman[the uncreated evil competitor of the
sacred being]" (Chapter 10, verses 40 to 41, SBE page 168).
And can a good god be all-powerful if he is powerless to prevent evil? And if
he can prevent it but doesn't, can he be all-good?
An interesting quandary.
Mardan-farukh states that he has traveled far and wide in search of a doctrine
that would commend itself to his reason (SBE pages 168 to 169), and
concludes that the religion of Ahura Mazda, as taught to Zarathushtra, and as
set forth in a particular version of the Dinkard, 3 (not the Gathas) i.e. the
dualist doctrine of two uncreated Beings -- One all-good and One all-bad, was
the only doctrine that dispelled his doubts (SBE pages 169-170). He then
proceeds, with extraordinary skill (and not a little venom) to demolish with his
arguments all opposing creeds which do not subscribe to the dualist belief in
two uncreated and competing Entities -- one all-good and the other all-evil.
His arguments, while brilliant and logical, are an excellent example of the
validity of the adage: If you want to win an argument, control the premises.
Some of his premises and conclusions regarding the origin and nature of evil,
and the nature of God and man (among others), are not consistent with
Zarathushtra's thinking in the Gathas.
Before we can understand what Zarathushtra's thoughts were on the subject
of good and evil, we have to know how he defined evil. First, the Gathas
contain no mention of an evil deity who is the Wise Lord's equal.Ahriman is
not mentioned in the Gathas, neither is angra mainyu, as an entity, nor indeed
is any evil deity mentioned, except for the local gods whom Zarathushtra
denounces as fierce, oppressive and cruel. 4 These he calls daevas, reserving

to the Wise Lord and his values alone, the loftier title ahura. There is no parity
here.
Next, the Gathas do not divide everything in the material world into two groups
-- the beneficent and the noxious. Wolves, frogs and the other "noxious"
beasts of the later literature are not mentioned in the Gathas. Nor is evil
defined in terms of the material creation. Physical darkness is not equated
with evil, except in a metaphoric sense (Y44.5,7, Y31.20). There is no mention
of an equal uncreated competitor to the Wise Lord in the worlds of either mind
or matter.
Indeed, if you look at each descriptive reference to evil in the Gathas, it is
apparent that they all share one characteristic. They all are the products of
wrongful choices -- ignorance (Y31.12), cruelty (Y48.11), fury (Y48.12),
bondage (Y29.1), tyranny (Y32.14), violence (Y34.8), greed (Y32.11-13),
murder (Y48.10), cowardice, (Y32.10), selling out one's principles for fame
(Y32.6), opposition to the Wise Lord and his values (Y32, Y43.12), and above
all, deceit (Y30.6, Y31.1, Y31.18). These are the only "evils" described in the
Gathas. There is no mention of ritual defilement, nor is there any mention of
any spiritual defilement by any physical means. Indeed, Zarathushtra
complains to the Wise Lord that he himself has been condemned as the
greatest defiler, and concludes that the real defiler is the deceitful person who
deflects others from the truth and opposes God's benevolent values.
"Yes, throughout my lifetime I have been condemned as the greatest
defiler, I who try to satisfy the poorly protected (creatures) with truth...
" (Y49.1).
"Yes, the deceitful [person] ... resembles the defiler, as he deflects
(others) from the truth by himself. Neither has he supported virtuous
[aramaiti]..., nor has he taken counsel with good thinking." (Y49.2).
There are those who contend that to define evil as being simply the product of
wrongful choices is insufficient, because it does not take into consideration the
so-called "natural evils" such as earthquakes, floods, famine, disease,
physical debility, and the other calamities that beset us.
This raises an interesting question: Is everything that causes us discomfort or
displeasure "evil"? That seems a rather parochial view to me. Natural
calamities and illness can cause incredible anguish and great suffering. But
does that necessarily make them "evil"? The Gathas do not define evil in such
terms.

In Y30.3 and Y45.2, 5 Zarathushtra refers to the good and evil which pervade
all existence. Although personified, as Zarathushtra personifies other abstract
concepts, it would not be accurate to interpret these two concepts as two
competing Gods. In my view they are two alternative forces -- the impulse or
inclination towards benevolence and the impulse or inclination towards
malevolence.
"Yes, there are two fundamental spirits, twins which are renowned to be
in conflict. In thought and in word, in action they are two: the good and
the bad. And between these two, the beneficent have correctly chosen,
not the maleficent." (Y30.3).
"Yes, I shall speak of the two fundamental spirits of existence, of which
the virtuous one would have thus spoken to the evil one: 'Neither our
thoughts nor teachings nor intentions, neither our preferences nor
words, neither our conceptions nor our souls are in accord.' " (Y45.2).
Two points are readily apparent from an inspection of these verses: (1) the
reality of these fundamental "spirits" finds its expression "in existence" -- in
thought, in word, and in action, and (2) they relate to the choices that confront
all life.
That the benevolent spirit (spenta mainyu) is not an entity but a benevolent
disposition or impulse which exists at both the divine and human levels may
be seen from a number of verses. For example, in Y44 Zarathushtra
expresses the idea that it is God's benevolent spirit that motivates Him to
create the physical universe and moral values. In Y43.2 it is God's benevolent
spirit that motivates Him to give understanding and create the powers of good
thinking and truth:
"...(I wish) for this person the best of all things...to be understanding all
his days, ... understanding through Thy most virtuous spirit, Wise One,
by reason of which Thou didst create the wondrous powers of good
thinking allied with truth." (Y43.2).
In Y45.6 it is His benevolent spirit that motivates Him to be good to those who
exist.
"...Him who is beneficent through His virtuous spirit to those who
exist..." (Y45.6).
In Y47.4 it is a benevolent spirit in man that motivates him to be truthful:

"...the deceitful are not able to deflect those who are properly truthful
from this virtuous spirit..." (Y47.4).
In Y48.8 it is the benevolent spirit at work in man that motivates good actions.
"...What (reward) of Thine is to be sent by truth...as an incentive for
actions stemming from good spirit?" (Y48.8).
In short, the benevolent spirit appears in man, and finds its highest expression
in the benevolent spirit of the Wise Lord, Ahura Mazda.
The workings of an evil spirit or disposition are more difficult to demonstrate
because it is not given parallel treatment with the benevolent spirit. In the
Gathas, the evil spirit or disposition appears primarily in connection with the
concept of choice. For example:
"...the deceitful one chose to bring to realization the worst
things..." (Y30.5).
"...the deceptive one approached them as they were deliberating. Since
they chose the worst thought, they then rushed into fury, with which
they have afflicted the world and mankind." (Y30.6).
Zarathushtra sees the spirit of deceit as the motivating force behind the
theology of the false local gods (daevas) and their followers, who are coercive
and oppressive:
"But ye gods -- as well as the one who worships you -- all of you are the
offspring stemming from evil thinking, deceit and disrespect..."(Y32.3).
"When, Wise One, shall men desist from murdering? When shall they
fear the folly of that intoxicating drink [a ritual intoxicant] through the
effects of which the Karpans [a type of priest] as well as the evil rulers of
the lands torture our (good) intentions in an evil way?" (Y48.10)
There is a principle of law which states that a statute (law) governing a certain
topic should be construed in pari materia with other statutes covering the
same subject, and not in isolation. I think the same principle should apply in
construing the nature and meaning of the two "spirits" (mainyu) in the two
seminal verses of Y30.3 and Y45.2. Those verses should not be read in a
vacuum. They need to be read in connection with the verses that precede and
follow them, and with the many other verses which relate to the same subject.

When so read, it becomes apparent, in my view, that the two "spirits" in Y30.3
and Y45.2 do not refer to two Uncreated Gods, each spawning a separate
moral and physical creation -- one good and the other evil. Rather, they are
two motivating forces which relate to the moral choices that confront all life -one good and the other evil.
It has been contended by eminent students of the Gathas that if the
benevolent spirit and the evil spirit are twins, (Y30.3), and if the Wise Lord is
described as the Father of the benevolent spirit (Y47.3), then He must, of
necessity, also be the Father of the evil spirit; that good and evil are
complements -- two parts of the same whole; and that Ahura Mazda, the Wise
Lord, stands apart from both. I have a great deal of respect for many of those
who so contend, but I have difficulty accepting the logic of these views.
First, in my view, Zarathushtra does not use the words "twin" and "father" in a
biological sense. He uses "twin" metaphorically to indicate that good and evil
exist side by side in every aspect of existence. He could not have intended
"twin" in its literal sense because good and evil are absolute opposites in
every respect, as the Gathas repeatedly state, whereas twins are
not. 6 Zarathushtra's statement in Y47.3: "Thou art the virtuous Father of this
spirit..." also uses "Father" metaphorically, indicating that the Wise Lord is the
source of benevolence. This interpretation is corroborated by the numerous
references in the Gathas to His benevolent spirit. For example 7 , in Y43.16,
Zarathushtra chooses the benevolence which the Wise Lord represents:
"...this Zarathushtra chooses that very spirit of Thine which indeed is the
most virtuous of all, Wise One."(Y43.16).
Nor am I persuaded that good and evil are complements. A complement is
one of two mutually completing parts. Complements may be opposites, as
in aramaiti (benevolent service) and xshathra (good rule), but they must also
be mutually supportive. If they are to form a whole, they cannot, by definition,
be mutually destructive or mutually exclusive. Good and evil are mutually
destructive. They are mutually exclusive. Where knowledge is present in a
specific matter, ignorance with regard to that matter vanishes. When anger is
present, good thinking takes a walk. The existence of truth in a matter
precludes the existence of deceit in that matter. And so it goes. The existence
of good, in a specific instance precludes, by definition, the existence of evil in
that same instance. The Gathas are full of verses in which good and evil are
described as being mutually destructive and mutually exclusive. They
therefore cannot, by definition, be complements.8

Finally, if it was Zarathushtra's intention to define God as being the source or


creator of both good and evil, he would surely have expressed such an idea at
least once in his many descriptive references to God. Yet he doesn't. All of his
descriptive references to God are on the "good" side. There simply are none
on the "evil" side. For example:
"...the Lord, beneficent through truth, virtuous and knowing..." (Y48.3).
"...the truthful Lord, virtuous in his actions..." (Y46.9).
"...the Lord who art of the same temperament with the best truth..."

(Y28.8).

"...He is virtuous to the needy..." (Y29.7)


"...Him who offers solicitude ..." (Y46.17).
Zarathushtra describes God as the creator, companion and father of truth,
good thinking and aramaiti, (benevolent service) (Y31.8, Y44.3,4,Y45.4), and
as the fashioner of good rule (Y44.7). But never once does he describe God
as either the creator, companion, father or fashioner of evil. I think the
conclusion is compelling: the God of the Gathas is presently pure goodness.
And therefore indeed, worthy of worship. Nor, according to the testimony of
the Gathas, does He stand aloof from good and evil, or from the conflict they
generate. For example His benevolent spirit is described as:
"...Thine the fashioner of the [good vision], namely that spirit of great
determination,..." (Y31.9).
And Zarathushtra refers to God's words and actions as follows:
"..for I have..seen the Wise One in a vision to be Lord of the word
and deed stemming from good spirit. .."(Y45.8).
Why would a good God permit evil (as Zarathushtra defines evil) to exist? I
think that has to do with the freedom to choose. The attainment of perfection
would have no meaning unless the life force which chooses good is also free
to do otherwise; which brings us to the billion dollar question: Who then
created evil? How did it originate? How did it come to be available as a choice?
I have not discovered an explicit answer to this question in the Gathas, except
that Zarathushtra describes it as "primordial" (Y30.3 and Y45.2). I believe
Zarathushtra viewed the matter from a different perspective, starting with
different premises. A search for a creator of evil, presupposes that man is

purely imitative. And this well may be true. However, from another perspective,
it would be reasonable to infer from the evidence of the Gathas that while evil
in thought is primordial, in word and action it is the life force -- whether in man
or in God -- that is creative. And we create both good and evil with our
choices.9
In the final analysis, Zarathushtra, a practical man, addresses the problem at
a practical level. He acknowledges the reality of the existence of evil, and
proceeds to tackle the problem of how it can be eradicated -- by "deliver[ing]
deceit into the hands of truth" (Y30.8) with the best available weapons -- good
thinking and the other values which God represents.
"...(And) through the very best thinking I shall seek for myself their [the
benevolent immortals'] rule of strength, through whose growth we might
conquer deceit." (Y31.4).(Y31.4).
"Therefore may we be those who shall heal this world! Wise One and ye
other lords [the benevolent immortals], be present to me with support and
with truth, so that one shall become convinced even where his
understanding shall be false." (Y30.9).
That was Zarathushtra's solution to the problem of evil. I find it more satisfying
than Mardan-farukh's. It rings true.
Dina G. McIntyre
The Editor.

Footnotes:
1. Sacred Books of the East, ("SBE" hereinafter), Volume 24, page 120,
footnote 2, (Motilal Banarsidas reprint). Mardan-farukh's work,Sikand
Gumanik Vijar, was translated here by E.W. West.
2. To give you some idea of the lapse of time between Zarathushtra and
Mardan-farukh, if Zarathushtra had composed his Gathas when the
Constitution of the United States was written, Mardan-farukh would not
have written his treatise until the year 4,387 AD -- 2,397 years into the
future from today (1990). That's a long time. 1997 Addition: Professor
Gershevitch is of the opinion that Zarathushtra's correct date was 600
BC. If that is so, (and if Zarathushtra had composed his Gathas when

the Constitution of the United States was written), Mardan-farukh would


not have written his treatise until the year 3,286. Still a long time.
3. Also a part of the later literature, written around 800 A.D, i.e. either at
the same time as Mardan-farukh wrote, or a few years earlier.
4. Y34.5, Y32.14, Y48.10.
5. Yasna 30 and Yasna 45 both deal with choices and their consequences.
Understanding is increased through an exchange of ideas. If an
interpretation is incorrect, it will eventually fall by the wayside. If not, it
will survive. I cannot guaranty that the following analysis of Y30.2 - 7 is
correct in all respects. But it may be of interest.
Verse 2 announces the existence of two alternative "choices of
decision", the necessity of evaluating them with reason and
independence, and the necessity of making the choice.
"...Reflect with a clear mind -- man by man for himself -- upon the
two choices of decision, being aware to declare yourselves to Him
before the great retribution." (Y30.2).
Verse 3 identifies these two choices of decision -- the good and the bad
(Windfuhr and Jafarey translate this as the "better" and the bad). I think
the two mainyu or "spirits" referred to in verse 3 have to be interpreted
in conjunction with the phrase "two choices of decision" in verse 2.
Verse 3 is quoted and discussed in more detail in the main text of this
Editor's Note, and no useful purpose would be served in repeating that
discussion here.
Verse 4 describes the consequences of these two choices of decision,
or inclinations:
"Furthermore, when these two spirits first came together, they
created life and death, and how, at the end, the worst existence
shall be for the deceitful but the best thinking for the truthful
person." (Y30.4).
First, let us consider the meaning of "life and death". We have, in other
parts of these materials, heard a number of different and interesting
views. Not to be difficult, but my understanding is somewhat different.
We know from other parts of the Gathas that one of the consequences
of making the right choices is ameretat -- literally, "no-deathness"
(Dastur N.D. Minochehr-Homji) or "immortality" (Professor Insler). I
believe Zarathushtra uses "life" in this verse as another way of

expressing the concept of ameretat . This interpretation appears to be


corroborated by Y43.13, where Zarathushtra says:
"...Grant ye all to me that wish for long life, to which no one has
dared you to accede..." (Y43.13).
It would make no sense to interpret "long life" in Y43.13 as meaning a
long mortal life, because that is a wish that people pester God for all the
time -- such an interpretation doesn't match "which no one has dared
you to accede". But a wish for "long life" as in "immortality" or "nodeathness" would indeed have been something for which no one in
Zarathushtra's day would have dared to ask God. But returning to Y30.4,
if "life" in this verse is another way of referring to immortality or "nodeathness" then the first part of this verse would in effect mean: when
these two inclinations first came together, benevolence led to ("created")
immortality or "no-deathness" ("life"), whereas malevolence led to
(created) continued mortality. This idea is restated in the second half of
the verse.
"...at the end [in the final analysis?] the worst existence shall be for
the deceitful, but the best thinking for the truthful person."
The consequence of wrong choices is referred to as the worst
"existence". The consequence of correct choices is "the best thinking"
another way of referring to the House of Good Thinking, -- perfect
wisdom, the Zarathushtrian heaven, in my view, a state of being.
Verse 5 describes what these two choices bring about in another sense.
Deceit chooses to bring to realization the worst things, whereas
benevolence or virtue chooses the truth. This verse, however, reflects a
poetic structure which I believe is significant. It's superficial balance or
duality of thought is in reality a marked asymmetry.
"Of these two spirits, the deceitful one chose to bring to realization
the worst things. (But) the very virtuous spirit[mainyus spenisto] ...
chose truth, and (so shall those) who shall satisfy the Wise Lord
continuously with true actions."(Y30.5).
It is significant that virtue or benevolence is not referred to as the "good"
(or the "better") as in verse 3, but as "the very virtuous spirit", whereas
deceit is not referred to in the superlative, but merely as "the deceptive

one". Is the reference to the "very virtuous spirit" not just a reference to
the inclination towards benevolence, but also to that which possesses
this inclination or spirit in the highest degree -- the Wise Lord, whose
benevolent spirit is the most virtuous of all (Y43.16)? In other words,
does this verse express the thought that not only does the inclination
towards benevolence choose truth, but that the Wise Lord himself made
that choice, motivated by his benevolent spirit, as man also must do?
Verse 6 describes the choice of the false local gods (or their followers).
But here again, the choice of language is significant. The locals are not
portrayed as "the very deceitful spirit". They themselves are not the
spirit of deception in a superlative degree. Rather, they are said to have
been influenced by deceit to make the wrong choices resulting in the
violence with which they have afflicted mankind.
"The gods did not at all choose correctly between these two, since
the deceptive one approached them as they were deliberating.
Since they chose the worst thought, they then rushed into fury,
with which they have afflicted the world and mankind." (Y30.6).
The next verse -- verse 7 -- describes the fruits of the Wise Lord's
choices, and ours:
"But to this world He came with the rule of good thinking and of
truth, and (our) enduring [aramaiti] gave body and breath (to
it)..." (Y30.7).
In short, the concept of divinity in the later literature is dualistic. In the
Gathas, this concept appears to be linear.
6. 1997 Addition: Professor Gershevitch has pointed out to me that good
and evil are twins in the sense that they both are made of one and the
same stuff thought that Zarathushtra perceived that thought, by its
very nature twins into opposites, and that both good and evil are
inherent, primordial in fact, in thought, a point of view which I find
persuasive.
7. Additional examples are collected in footnote 5 of the Editor's Note inAn
Introduction to the Gathas of Zarathushtra, No. 3, page 10-11.
8. More than a thousand years ago, Mardan-farukh came to the same
conclusion, with excellent examples, though in a slightly different
context (Chapter VIII verses 128-133 SBE page 161.

9. Mardan-farukh makes the point (among others) that if man is deemed to


be the source of evil, then God would likewise have to be its source,
since God created man (Chapter XI, verses 177-196, SBE pages 187188).
However, nowhere in literal translations of the Gathas (as distinguished
from interpretive translations) does it state that God created man. It
states that He created "body and breath" (Y31.11), i.e. the mortal,
material part. It does not state that He created manper se, man's spirit,
man's soul, or whatever it is that is not the mortal part. In Yasna 44, of
all the creations ascribed to God, the creation of man is conspicuous by
its absence.
If man and God are part of the same being, as both the Gathas and the
Bundahisn seem to suggest, what is it that makes man man and god
God, since we are obviously not there yet. If man and God are part of
the same being, the question inevitably arises: If man has to make all
those tough choices between good and evil, did God have to choose too?
If man must earn heaven, did God have to earn that state of perfection
too? Those interested in unraveling this fascinating tangle may find the
following verses interesting: Y30.5, Y51.15, and Y31.7 (See Sketches of
Ahura Mazda, in this issue). The first two verses suggest "yes". The
third verse suggests "no" -- one of the Gathic paradoxes to which I have
not yet found the answer. Based on prior experience with Gathic
puzzles, however, I am sure the answer is there. It just needs to be
figured out.

"Though the mills of God grind slowly,


Yet they grind exceeding small."
Longfellow (trans. from the German of von Logau).

Volume 10

The Freedom to Choose


Sketches of Ahura Mazda
Selections from the Gathas
Reality & Response
Editor's Note: The Freedom to Choose
Editor's Note: Some Historical Facts

The Freedom to Choose.


Yezdi Antia.

"We do not choose to be born. We do not choose our parents. We do not


choose our historical epoch, or the country of our birth, or the immediate
circumstances of our upbringing. We do not, most of us, choose to die, nor do
we choose the time or conditions of our death, but within all this realm of
choicelessness, we do choose how we shall live: courageously, or in
cowardice, honorably or dishonorably, with purpose or adrift. We decide what
is important and what is trivial in life. We decide that what makes us significant
is either what we do or what we refuse to do. But no matter how indifferent the
universe may be to our choices and decisions, these choices and decisions
are ours to make. We decide. We choose. And as we decide and choose, so
are our lives formed."
Joseph Epstein, Ambition the Secret Passion, page 298.
The choice that Zarathustra talks about is between the good and the evil, the
truth and the lie.
Choice also involves thinking. And there are the consequences of choice. We
shall therefore examine what Zarathustra has to say on all these topics when
he

"expresses the same underlying idea through the technique of paraphrase or


through other means of variation and amplification."
S Insler, The Gathas of Zarathushtra, page 21.

The Gathas have been translated variously by different scholars. Presumably


there are still great difficulties in various passages. There are, however, large
areas in the translations where there is agreement. All translations inspire you
to achieve your best in the realm of Truth, Good Thinking, Service, Moral
Courage, and the cultivation of the Inner Life. It is therefore more important to
put into practice the message of the Gathas as perceived by the reader than
to dwell upon the various interpretations that rightfully exercise a scholar's
mind.
It is our misfortune that the sayings of our prophet have remained obscure for
thousands of years, because the language changed soon after he passed
away. Now that modern research has discovered the meaning of this treasure,
it is even more unfortunate that the average Zoroastrian does not widely read
them.
The main reason why the Gathas should be read is that in no other book are
the fundamental principles of our religion so clearly laid down and so
beautifully expressed. At the same time it helps us to evaluate some of the
traditional beliefs we grew up with. For surely the thoughts of the founder
should have precedence over the thought of any later tradition that grew up in
the absence of the knowledge of the meaning of his words. A few examples
will illustrate this point.
Is it morally right for us to believe that non-Zoroastrians cannot be formally
admitted to our religion when Zarathushtra addressing God declares in
Y44.10:
"About your religion which is the best for all human beings..." (Y44.10
Sethna translation).

One of our most valued prayers next to the Yatha Ahu Vairyo and Ashem
Vohu is the Yenghe Hatam which says:
"We revere all men and women from amongst the living who promote the
good because of their excellence in virtue and service to mankind."
Please note that the prayer asks us to revere all good men and women, not
just Zoroastrians. The distinction is between the righteous and the non-

righteous, not between Zoroastrians and non-Zoroastrians. How then do we


reconcile this with our tradition of not letting non-Zoroastrians join us in our
ceremonies? Are we really following the advice of this prayer when we
prevent non-Zoroastrians from eating consecrated food or when we prevent a
righteous non-Zoroastrian from even paying his last respects at the funeral of
his dear Zoroastrian friend?
It is a traditional belief that prayer in itself is a religious act of the highest order
and that reciting in the Avesta (by means of its superior "vibrations") can give
the living and the dead the utmost benefit.
Compare this with what Zarathushtra says (emphasis added):
"...The Highest shall be reached by DEEDS alone." (Y51.1, Taraporewala
translation).

"...for worship indeed choose ACTS of piety..." (Y53.2, Sethna translation).


"...May divine wisdom...bestow blessings for DEEDS inspired by good
thoughts." (Y43.16 Sethna translation).
Clearly the emphasis is on good actions and therefore the most religious act
that a man can perform is to deliberately choose (in spite of being assailed
by temptation) to perform the right action. It is this act of free choice that
is the supreme religious act.
Good thoughts are the source of good actions and the emphasis throughout
the Gathas is on Good Thinking. It is in this realm of Good Thinking that
prayer plays the most significant part. The main purpose of prayer, apart from
asking for God's guidance and blessing, is to direct your mind to good
thought and to inspire you to good deeds and therefore prayer is of the
utmost importance not as a religious act but as an invaluable guide and help
towards performing religious acts.
There is no doubt that prayers chanted with fervour do, with their soothing
vibrations, bring one into a devotional mood. But this is true of all devotional
prayers and songs in any language.
If the Avesta "vibrations" were the beneficial part of prayer it would relegate all
other prayers in other languages to a secondary status. It is presumptuous for
us to believe that a prayer in Avesta is more efficacious or more acceptable to
God than that of any other of his children in any other language. Moreover, a

belief in the magical effect of Avesta vibrations would also mean that
Zarathushtra has put the wrong emphasis in his hymns when he says "For
worship indeed choose ACTS of piety" or that "the Highest shall be reached
by Deeds alone."
Let us then explore what our prophet has said on the topics of Choice, Good
and Evil, and the Consequences that follow the choice of Good and Evil, and
try to perceive and put into practice his message which according to Insler
"Is remarkably consistent in both outlook and expression."Insler, The Gathas of
Zarathushtra, page 22.

I will for the main part let Zarathushtra's words speak for themselves. A few
minutes of careful reading will show how effectively the prophet makes his
points.

Choice and Free Will.


"Thou gavest to all that live the choice of Paths --Whether to leave the
Shepherd's sheltered side, Or else to turn aside from Shepherds
False." (Y31.9 Taraporewala translation).

"Since, O Mazda, from the beginning you fashioned for us physical


bodies, discerning souls, and directive intelligence through your own
mind. Since you infused life breath into mortal bones, since you granted
capacities to act and true doctrines to guide so that one could choose
beliefs at will." (Y31.11 T.R. Sethna translation).

"And indeed Mazda has laid down a choice for all, the teaching that
righteousness shall prevail and falsehood shall be frustrated. I would
therefore ask for union with good thoughts and renounce all association
with the followers of falsehood." (Y49.3 T.R. Sethna translation).

"Hear the best (truth) with your ears and decide by your pure mind. Let
everybody judge for his own self and find out what he ought to do.

Before the great trial let all wake up to this my counsel." (Y30.2, T.R.
Sethna translation).

In these four verses, Zarathushtra explains to us the moral principles created


by God for mankind. There are two paths to follow but man has been given
free will and the capacity to choose between them. Everybody has to make
his choice on his own with a clear mind.

Good and Evil,


Evil Persons.
"I would now speak of the two ultimate principles of human mentality.
One of them, the holier one, spoke to the evil one as follows: 'Neither
our thoughts nor our doctrines, nor wills nor beliefs, nor words, nor
deeds, neither our conscience nor souls agree.' " (Y45.2 T.R. Sethna
translation).

"Now in the beginning these twin mentalities revealed themselves in


thought, word, and deed, as the better and the bad; and from these two
the wise chose aright but not so the unwise." (Y30.3 T.R. Sethna translation).

"Of these twin spirits he that is the false doth ever choose performing
evil deeds, but righteousness doth choose the Holy One; He who would
clothe himself in Light of Heaven, He who would satisfy Lord Ahura, Let
him througn deeds of Truth choose Mazda's way." (Y30.5 I.J.S.
Taraporewala translation).

"The False Teacher Mazda's word distorts and through his words
distorts the scheme of life. He turns away from us our heritage -- the
precious love that flows through Vohu Man." (Y32.9 I.J.S. Taraporewala
translation).

"Such persons, in these ways defile our lives dazzled by worldly


grandeur they regard the wicked as the great ones of the Earth; They
hinder all fulfillment here below. OMazda, from the highest Truth of Life
they turn aside the minds of righteous men." (Y32.11 I.J.S. Taraporewala).

"They through their teaching try their very best that men may leave the
honest path of work. But Mazda sends them retribution just;
with chants alluring they mislead all life." (Y32.12 I.J.S. Taraporewala
translation).

There is more elaboration here of the two mentalities, the true and the false,
the good and the evil. The two mentalities are totally opposed. Evil persons
put their emphasis on the wrong values and regard the wicked as the great
ones of the earth. With their alluring speech they mislead and distract the
mind of man.

Where to get help in making your choice:


Divine wisdom helps:
"Therefore each lifts up his voice to proclaim his faith whether a liar or a
truthful speaker, whether learned or unlearned according to his own
heart and mind, but divine wisdom stands by to deliberate with the spirit
of whoever is perplexed by doubt." (Y31.12 T.R. Sethna translation).
Zarathushra will guide:
"Since the better path is not clearly seen by the soul for her choice
because of evil attractions I have come to you all as the prophet
ordained by Ahura Mazda to guide the people between these two
mentalities, so that they, one and all, live in harmony and
righteousness. (Y31.2 T.R. Sethna translation).
Ask God for help:
"Therefore may we be those who shall heal this world! Wise One and ye
other lords, be present to me with support and with truth, so that one

shall become convinced even where his understanding shall be


false."(Y30.9 Insler translation).
Help from the enlightened and from God:
"Which of the two paths does the follower of righteousness and the
follower of falsehood choose as the better one? Let the enlightened one
teach me who is willing to learn. Let not the ignorant lead men astray. O
Ahura Mazda the revealer of the good... help us. (Y31.17 T.R. Sethna
translation).

In these verses Zarathushtra says that God and his Divine Wisdom help to
resolve the doubts of persons who are genuinely striving for the good.
Zarathushtra himself can show the way when evil attractions cloud man's
mind. How can Zarathushtra guide us in a practical sense? I believe he is
referring here to the guidelines given by him in the two venerated prayers of
the Yatha Ahu Vairyo and the Ashem Vohu. Yatha Ahu Vairyo in my
perception promotes the following values:
1. Spiritual awareness. A recognition that spiritual goals must be
pursued with material goals.
2. Spirit of Service and Selflessness.
3. Helping the needy. Needy here is used in a broad sense, e.g.
person needing moral support.
The Ashem Vohu promotes the following values:
1. Truth and righteousness.
2. Altruism. All good actions to be done for the sake of goodness
alone. If then a person is in doubt about the course to follow, he
could apply the test by asking which of the choices promotes
better the values mentioned above.

Consequences of Choice.
"And these are real facts, O ye men & women!
No happiness can be yours, if the lie-demon drives the chariot of your
lives;
Cast off from your selves all evil bonds that may chain you to untruth;
Happiness linked with dishonour, happiness that harms others is poison

for the seeker.


The evil-faithless who brings ruin to the righteous here, destroys for
himself his spiritual life hereafter." (Y53.6 D.J. Irani translation).

"Whosoever is the follower of Truth, the light henceforth shall be his


abode. The wicked for age long reside in darkness uttering words of woe.
To such life they are condemned by their own selves through their own
deeds.(Y31.20 T.R. Sethna translation).

"To those who are devoted to him in thought and deed,Ahura


Mazda shall bestow self-realization and immortality with plenty of
righteousness, moral courage and blessings of good thought." (Y31.21
T.R. Sethna translation).

"Through the most holy mentality (Spenta Mainyu) the best life will be
for one who with his tongue speaks in accord with good thoughts and
with his hands performs the tasks of divine wisdom inspired by the one
idea thatAhura Mazda alone is father (upholder) of righteousness."(Y47.2
T.R. Sethna translation).

"And through thy Holy Spirit Mazda Lord,


The righteous gaineth all that is the Best;
The false one will remain far from Thy Love;
From Evil Mind do all his acts proceed,
His evil deeds darken and cloud his soul." (Y47.5, I.J.S. Taraporewala
translation).

"Then did I realize you as the Most Bountiful one, O Mazda Ahura, when I
beheld you first at the birth of life. Since you have ordained that deeds
and words shall bear fruit, evil comes to evil and good blessings to the
good." (Y45.5 T.R. Sethna translation).

"Now I shall proclaim what the holiest one revealed to me which is best
for the mortals to hear. He who gives reverence to his conscience shall
attain self-realization and immortality through deeds of goods thoughts
and grace of Ahura Mazda also." (Y45.5 T.R. Sethna translation).
Freedom of choice, therefore cannot be separated from the responsibility that
comes with that freedom. You are thus the architect of your own future. Brick
by brick, by your own daily actions you build the House of Songs or the House
of Woe.
Let us conclude with a modern echo of what Zarathushtra said many centuries
ago:
"I try to remember that we are given the freedom to choose to live ethically, or
choose to live otherwise. Having this freedom to choose and exercising it with
integrity and humility actually makes us strong. Every time you work out you
meet with resistence. If the weights are too light to provide that resistance
therefore easy for you to lift, you won't increase your strength. That's why the
toughest ethical problems provide the biggest opportunities for growth."
Blanchard and Peale, The Power of Ethical Management, page 37.

Yezdi Antia, 1990.

Yezdi Antia, one of the founding members and a past president of the
Zoroastrian Society of Ontario, is the son of a punthaky, and was raised in
Devlali, India. He was one of the two organizers of the First North American
Zoroastrian Conference held in Toronto in 1975. He was ordained a priest
before the age of twelve, and (direct quotation per Yezdi) "like many other
priests, had learned the ritual but remained ignorant of the religion." In 1967
he came to Toronto, Canada, as a civil engineer and volunteered his services
as a priest whenever they were required. He read numerous books on
Zoroastrianism, but according to Yezdi, it was only when he came upon a
translation of the Gathas that he began to acquire a coherent picture of the
fundamental principles of the religion. In his studies of the Gathas, he uses
the translations of Taraporewala, Insler, Sethna, and D.J. Irani.

Sketches of Ahura Mazda


(Quotations from the Gathas)
(Insler translation)

"...Him who left to our will (to choose between) the


virtuous and the unvirtuous...."
(Y45.9).

"...The Wise Lord is virtuous..."


(Y51.16).

"...this Zarathushtra chooses


that very spirit of Thine which is the most virtuous of all, Wise One."
(Y43.16).

"...Virtuous is truth and the rule of good thinking. "


(Y51.21).

"... the truthful Lord,


virtuous in his actions..."
(Y46.9).

"...Him, the Lord who is famed to be


Wise in His soul..."
(Y45.10).

"Come hither to me...


Thou, Wise One, together with
truth and good thinking... "
(Y33.7).

"...With words stemming from


good thinking
I shall call upon those
[the benevolent immortal values]
whom Thou, Wise Lord, hast assembled in Thy abode."
(Y46.14).

"I know in whose worship


there exists for me
the best in accordance with truth.
It is the Wise Lord
as well as those
who have existed and (still) exist
[the benevolent immortal values].
Them (all) shall I worship
with their own names, [truth with truth, good thinking with good thinking
etc] and I shall serve them with love."
(Y51.22).

Selections from the Gathas


(Insler translation)

"...Reflect with a clear mind -man by man for himself -- upon


the two choices of decision..."
(Y30.2).

"...let a person listen...


with good thinking, Wise Lord,
Let him listen with truth..."
(Y49.7).

"I...shall serve all of you, Wise Lord,


with good thinking..."
(Y28.2).

"...I shall always worship all of you,


Wise Lord,
with truth and the very best thinking
and with their rule
through which one shall stand
on the path of (good) power..."
(Y50.4)

"...One chooses that rule of


good thinking allied with truth
in order to serve..."
(Y51.18).

"...be present to me
with support and with truth,
so that one shall become convinced even where his understanding shall
be false."
(Y30.9)

"...speak, Wise One, ...


in order for us to know (all) that,
by means of which
I might convert all the living."
(Y31.3).

"Wise Lord, together with this virtuous spirit


Thou shalt give the distribution in the good to both factions through Thy
fire, ...
For it shall convert the many who are seeking."
(Y47.6)

"...who shall enlighten his guest in the good


all these
shall bring success to His desire
and be in the approval of the Wise Lord."
(Y33.2).

Reality & Response


James K. Lovelace

Approximately four centuries ago William Shakespeare composed a body of


works that, by most estimations, remains unparalleled in the history of English
literature. Shakespeare's dramas, in particular, are lauded as demonstrations
of their author's marvelous insight into the intricacies of human nature. In
reading these dramas, one is not only entertained by their stories and
enchanted by their exquisite language, one is also instructed in the
complexities of human behavior. Shakespeare rarely, if ever, ventured an

explanation for the ultimate basis of human behavior; he astutely observed it


and superbly recreated it in the motives, words, and actions of his dramatis
personae.
Almost four millennia ago, Zarathushtra is believed to have composed the
hymns we now know as the Gathas. In the verses of the Gathas, the Prophet
not only demonstrated a penetrating understanding of human nature, he also
presented an inspired view of its basis in the form of a philosophy that was
rooted in a vision of the nature of the universe as a whole. It is this vision of
the ultimate causes and relationships that sets the Gathas apart from the
world's exalted literature and establishes them as revelation.
As revelation, the Gathas are an assertion of Truth. Throughout the Gathas,
Zarathushtra refers to his revelation as truth that stands in opposition
to druj (falsehood, deceit) and is exclusive of other, conflicting claims to truth
(Y45.3).1 The Prophet has communicated, as revealed to him, a perception of
Reality, i.e. a description of the "way things are" in both the material and
spiritual realms. The revelation as contained in the Gathas is not exhaustive in
that the Prophet did not expound on every detail of the universe. On the other
hand, the Gathic message is sufficent; it is adequate in content and detail to
serve as a guide to a moral life. Although Zarathushtra's vision of Reality has
many aspects, I believe that the concept of Asha is central to its
understanding. This concept has been discussed in previous essays2, but a
few major points should be reiterated here.
As a characteristic of Ahura Mazda the creator, Asha is manifested in His
creation as Natural Law with its implication of Order. This underlying principle
is further reflected in the human (moral) realm as individual Righteousness
and collective Justice. The relationship between righteousness and justice on
the one hand and natural order on the other is wonderfully illustrated
in Ushtavaiti Gatha (Y44). In these verses Zarathushtra freely mingles ideas
about the creation and ordering of the material world with ideas about moral
righteousness. This intermingling reflects the Prophet's vision of the unity
of Ahura Mazda's will in regard to the material and moral. Asha is clearly
manifested in the operation of natural law in the material realm and stands as
a model for the way things ought to be in the moral realm. The material
creation is passively driven byAsha, but a variable is present in the moral
realm -- humankind, possessing free will and a capacity to reason, must
choose or not choose to think, speak, and act in harmony with Asha.
This choice is implicit in Ahunavaiti Gatha where the Prophet invites all who
hear his words to confirm their truth.

"Hear the best (truth) with your ears and decide by your pure mind. Let
everybody judge for his own self and find out what he ought to
do." (Y30.2 T.R. Sethna translation).
This remarkable statement places Zoroastrianism in marked contrast to those
religions that seek to support the veracity of their revelation by demonstrations
of "miracles" or ask adherents to accept the revelation by faith. In effect,
Zarathushtra says "This is the nature of Reality. Carefully examine and think
about what I am teaching you. If your thoughts and experience lead you to
conclude that what I am saying is really the way things are, you must decide
how you will live your life in light of the truth of my revelation." It is noteworthy
that this verse contains two directives. Zarathushtra asks his hearers to
examine his message and determine by their own reason how well it reflects
reality as they are able to discern it. His exhortation, however, does not stop
there. He then asks them to respond to that message. Mere intellectual assent
to the validity of Zarathushtra's teachings is not enough. Acceptance of the
Prophet's message as truth demands action in concert with that truth. The
same faculties that allow those who hear Zarathushtra's message to judge its
reality also endow them with the freedom (or perhaps more aptly, the
responsibility) to choose to live in harmony with that reality.
The choice to live in harmony with the truth of Zarathushtra's revelation is a
choice to live according to Asha and in pursuit of truth, righteousness, and
justice. It is clear from Yasna 30.2 that this decision is personal and must be
made by each individual for him or herself. The decision is based upon an
individual's ability to discern truth and respond to it by making a moral
commitment. There is no other prerequisite of any kind attributable to the
Prophet in the Gathas. Furthermore, the choice to live a life of Ashamust be
viewed as continuing or repetitive. Zarathushtra does not offer his followers
instantaneous moral perfection. The Prophet's followers must, along with him,
continually dedicate their lives to Ahura Mazda and their every thought, word,
and deed to righteousness (Y33.14). In practice, this dedication involves an
initial personal conviction of the truth of Zarathushtra's revelation and an
attendant decision to live according toAhura Mazda's will. Subsequently each
motive, word, and act must be conformed to the original decision to pursue
righteousness. Because of the inner conflict that characterizes human morality
(Y30.3-6), the temptation to choose wrongly will always exist; however, those
who have made a steadfast decision for righteousness and repeatedly choose
to act and speak with upright motives develop a conscience attuned to the will
ofAhura Mazda and a desire for goodness (Y48.4). An abundance of happy
consequences arising from such single-minded dedication to living according

to Ahura Mazda's will and the truth of Zarathushtra's revelation are recorded
in the Gathas. One outcome is mentioned in Yasna 30.9-10:
"And may we be among those who make this life fresh! You, lords of
wisdom, who bring happiness through righteousness, come, let us be
single-minded in the realm of inner intellect. Then, indeed, the power of
wrong shall be shattered. Then those who strive with good name shall
immediately be united in the good abode of good mind and
righteousness of the Wise One." (Y30.9-10 Jafarey translation).
The life of the individual who pursues righteousness is made new, and he or
she, along with all others who seek righteousness above all else will be united
in overcoming evil and "making the world progress toward perfection."3 These
verses provide insight into the transforming power of dedication to
righteousness. First of all the individual's life is renewed. This individual then
becomes a part of what might be called a "community of the righteous"
(Sethna uses the designation "brotherhood of Ahura Mazda") which
participates in perfection of the world. Perhaps, something may be added here
by noting that Taraporewala's word-for-word translation indicates that this
community or brotherhood lives "throughAsha, in loving
companionship".4 Taraporewala parenthetically adds "with Thee" to indicate
that he understands that the loving companionship exists between the
righteous ones and Ahura Mazda, though this specification is not included in
the original Avestan. This interpretation is undoubtedly true. Those dedicated
to righteousness indeed enter into a loving relationship with Ahura Mazda. I
believe, however, it would be permissible to also interpret this verse to include
the loving companionship of the righteous with one another. The dedication of
those true followers of Zarathushtra to Ahura Mazda's will is such that the
pursuit of righteousness becomes central in their lives and is alone a basis for
love of their fellows despite any other superficial characteristic that might
otherwise divide them. Dedication to righteousness in response to
Zarathushtra's revelation of reality is the true basis for Zoroastrian community.
Returning briefly to the contrast between Shakespearean drama and
Zarathushtra's Gathas, we may now add another point of difference. Each in
its own way depicts truth; however, the insights of Shakespeare's drama may
be affirmed, debated, marveled at, or appreciated and then forgotten with
impunity. The hearer of the message of the Gathas must respond to that
message.5 The sincere confession of Zarathushtra's teachings as a true
conceptualization of reality is, therefore, much more than an admiration for
their beauty or an intellectual assent to their validity. To be impressed by the
sublimity of the Gathas while not living by their precepts is a relegation of the

Prophet's message to the realm of lofty literature, not its acceptance as a


revelation of Reality. The confession of Zarathushtra's message as a
description of the way things really are in the cosmos is a life-changing event
that represents the beginning of spiritual growth toward the moral ideal
of Asha in conformity with the will of Ahura Mazda.
James K. Lovelace, 1990.

Dr. James K. Lovelace is currently Chairman of the Department of Biology in


the Division of Experimental Therapeutics at the Walter Reed Army Institute of
Research in Washington D.C. He received a Bachelor of Science from
Wofford College, a Master of Science from Tulane University, and earned a
doctorate in Immunology and Infectious Diseases from The Johns Hopkins
University. A student, both formally and informally, of philosophy for more than
twenty years, Dr. Lovelace was introduced to Zoroastrianism in the early '80s
by a fellow graduate student, now his wife, Dr. Rubina Patel. They have
studied the Gathas together for approximately 4 years, relying upon
translations by Taraporewala, Sethna, Irani, and most recently, Jafarey, and
they have spearheaded the Gatha Study Group of the Zoroastrian Assn. of
Metropolitan Washington (ZAMWI). Dr. Lovelace would like to dedicate this
essay to the memory of his late mother-in-law, Mrs. Meher J. Patel, whose
quiet devotion and selflessness taught him more than the reading of many
books.

Footnotes:
1. "Now I shall proclaim the foremost point of this life, which the Wise
God, the Knowing told me: Those of you who do not practice the
thought-provoking doctrine the way I understand and explain it
shall experience a woeful end of life." (Y45.3 Jafarey translation).
Since I do not know the Gathic language, I hesitate to make an
argument based upon specific words or phrases in the Gathas; however,
I find it extremely interesting that each of the three translations that I
have consulted (Jafarey, Sethna, and the word-for-word translation of
Taraporewala) renders this verse in such a way as to lead me to
conclude that Zarathushtra is stating a claim of exclusivity for his
understanding and teaching of truth. Such a statement would be

2.
3.
4.
5.

unexceptional if considered only from the standpoint of comparing the


Prophet's doctrines to other contemporaneous religious practices. If,
however, we consider the Gathas to be a revelation of timeless truths,
would it not be appropriate to apply this exclusivity today? The
ramifications of doing so would be a fascinating subject for discussion!
See the essays of Professor Irani and Dr. Mehr in Lesson 2 of this
Series.
From Yasna 30.10, D.J. Irani translation.
Yasna 30.9, I.J.S. Taraporewala, The Religion of Zarathushtra,
(Bombay, reprinted 1979).
A failure to respond is in itself a response.

"What light is to the eyes, what air is to the lungs, what love is to the
heart, liberty is to the soul of man."
R.G. Ingersoll, Progress.

"...Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of


chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course
others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
Patrick Henry, Speech, March 1775.

Editor's Note: The

Freedom to Choose.

This past year [1989-90] has been an historic one. The sweet breath of liberty
has swept over our planet, and millions of individuals, in stunning displays of
courage and determination, have demonstrated again and again, often at
severe cost, that the human spirit hungers for the freedom to choose.
We have seen unarmed, individuals in the Phillipines blocking tanks and
placing flowers in the muzzles of guns. We have seen in Tienanmen Square,

individuals from all walks of life, the old and the young, cry out for a dream of
freedom, and pay for it with their blood and their agony. We have seen East
Germans vault embassy walls for freedom. We have seen people hammering
holes in that symbol of oppression -- the Berlin Wall. We have seen the
totalitarian governments of Europe fall, one by one, as millions of people took
to the streets (with candles in their hands and fire in their hearts), expressing
their hunger for liberty, demonstrating that the freedom to choose is as
essential to the human spirit as food is to the body.
The moral and economic bankruptcy of oppressive dictatorships demonstrates
the truth that without liberty, there is only stagnation and decay, without the
freedom to choose, there can be no growth.
More than 3,000 years ago, Zarathushtra came to the same conclusion.
He teaches that we have to make choices. As a result, we gain experience.
Through experience we attain wisdom. Of course, this raises some interesting
questions: (1) how do we make these choices? and (2) what do we choose?
In a break from traditional notions of religious dogma, Zarathushtra does not
command us to obey without question the dictates of any religious authority.
The obedience to human authority which he visualizes is thinking obedience:
"...As world-healer, promise us a judge, and let obedience to him
come through good thinking,..." (Y44.16) (part of theKemna Mazda prayer)
(emphasis added).

Indeed, with pleasing consistency, even when he prays for guidance from God
Himself, it is through good thinking that he asks God to instruct him.
"...May the Creator instruct through good thinking (the course) of my
direction, in order to be the charioteer of my will and my tongue." (Y50.6).
(Emphasis added).

According to Zarathushtra's teaching, no authority has the right to demand of


us blind, unquestioning, unthinking obedience. And this is eminently sane. For
even the divine is made known to us through human faculties and agencies.
And if an authority or agency is human, it is, by definition, fallible. It is better
by far to make our own mistakes than it is to live the mistakes of others. For it
is only when we think for ourselves, make choices, make mistakes and learn
from our mistakes that we evolve to higher levels of understanding. On the
other hand, if we institutionalize, venerate, and follow without thought or

question, the ideas (and mistakes) of others, how do we grow? How do we


learn? A slave mentality is not conducive to wisdom.. Zarathushtra tells us
that we have the freedom -- and the responsibility -- of making our own
choices, independently, on an individual basis, and that we must do so with
reason and intelligence:
"... Reflect with a clear mind -- man by man1 for himself -- upon the two
choices of decision..." 1 for himself -- upon the two choices of
decision..." (Y30.2).
This means, among other things, that we must have the courage to use the
minds God gave us to think for ourselves. The collective cop-out ("I'm only
following orders" "This is the way it has always been") is not an available
Zarathushtrian option.
Of course, this principle of individual choice has an important corollary. It also
requires us to respect the other fellow's right to think for himself, although it is
a good and friendly thing to share knowledge, and lend (and receive) a
helping hand:
"...she [referring metaphorically to the good vision] shall belong to that
person who would strengthen with the power of such a reward, his
nearest fellow creature, whom the deceitful one shall (otherwise)
appropriate." (Y50.3)
Next, we come to the question: what do we choose? At one level, we choose
good rather than evil; truth instead of deceit; what's right instead of what's
wrong (Y30). But Zarathushtra's thinking is never one-dimensional, and we
find a more subtle and meaningful framework for choice in theAhuna Vairya
prayer (Yatha Ahu Vairyo), and in the values with which Zarathushtra defines
divinity -- truth, good thinking, a benevolent spirit, good rule, benevolent
service, completeness and immortality.
The Ahuna Vairya has been described in the later literature as a magic
formula for defeating evil. The first few words of the prayer tell us that just as
God is to be chosen, so too is the judgment in accord with truth.2 If we think of
this injunction in terms of Zarathustra's definition of divinity, it is apparent that
in exercising our judgment, each time we choose truth, we choose God. Each
time we choose reason (good thinking), we choose God. Each time we
choose benevolence, we choose God. Each time we convert those choices
into actions stemming from good thinking -- actions of benevolent service to
the rule 3 of truth and good thinking, we bring to life the "magic" Ahuna

Vairya formula for defeating ignorance, deceit, violence, and all the other
"evils" that stem from wrongful choices, thereby "saving" ourselves and our
world. In the Vohu Xshathra GathaZarathushtra says:
"Glorious Jamaspa Haugva4 (has displayed) this understanding of His
power: 'One chooses that rule of good thinking allied with truth in order
to serve...' "4 (has displayed) this understanding of His power: 'One
chooses that rule of good thinking allied with truth in order to serve...'
" (Y51.18).
To me, this undogmatic dogma -- the freedom to choose -- is one of the
loveliest and most endearing aspects of Zarathushtra's teaching. It not only
generates respect for others, and a sense of self worth, it is an expression of
confidence -- that inspite of our many limitations and shortcomings, each one
of us has what it takes to ultimately make it.
Dina G. McIntyre
The Editor.

Footnotes:
1. I am sure that Zarathushtra's use of the term "man by man" was generic.
Any person who valued wisdom, as Zarathushtra did, and named his
daughter "Pouruchista" which means "full of wisdom" or "full of illumined
thought" just couldn't have been a male chauvinist.
2. Translations of the Ahuna Vairya prayer vary widely. See Insler, The
Ahuna Vairya Prayer, pages 409-421, Acta Iranica (E.J. Brill, 1975).
3. This may be a good opportunity to introduce you to one example of the
multi-dimensional style of Zarathushtra's poetry. Take, for instance,
Y51.1:
"That good rule must be chosen which best brings good fortune to
the man serving it with milk. In alliance with truth, it shall
encompass the best (for us) through its actions, Wise One. This
very rule shall I now bring to realization for us."
What does Zarathushtra mean by the words "serving it with milk".
First Level: We know from Vedic parallels that milk was one of the items
used in early Aryan rituals, and to this day, it is one of the items used in

Zoroastrian rituals. Thus at one level, it may be inferred that


Zarathushtra refers to a ritual offering when he talks of serving good rule
with milk.
Second Level: However, Zarathushtra also overlays such ritual
references with metaphoric meaning, and uses "milk" as a metaphor for
good thinking (See Insler, Abstract Levels of Ritual in the Gathas of
Zarathushtra, for the evidence on which this view is based). Thus at a
higher level of meaning, we get the thought that we worship and serve
with good thinking. This idea is also reflected in Y 28.2 where
Zarathushtra says:
"I who shall serve all of you, Wise Lord, with good thinking.."
The idea is expressed even more clearly when you compare Y50.4 and
Y50.8-9:
"...I shall always worship all of you, Wise Lord, with truth and the
very best thinking..."(Y50.4).
"...I shall serve all of you with the renowned footprints of milk. You,
moreover, with truth...You, moreover, with the skillfulness of good
thinking. Praising, I shall encounter you with such worship, Wise
One, and with actions stemming from good thinking allied with
truth..." (Y50.8-9).
Thus, at the second level, the first two sentences of Yasna 51.1 reflect
the ideas that we worship with ritual -- milk, and that we also worship
with good thinking and actions stemming from good thinking, allied with
truth.
Third level: We know from other parts of the Gathas that good rule is the
rule of truth and good thinking. Thus, in Y51.1 Zarathushtra first states
that good rule (the rule of truth and good thinking) is to be chosen. He
then implies that good rule (the rule of truth and good thinking) is to be
worshipped (served with milk). He then plays with a little bit of pointcounterpoint, expressing the idea that the rule of truth and good thinking
is served or worshipped by actions stemming from good thinking and
truth, and indeed the last part of Y51.1 is another way of expressing the
concept of aramaiti (bringing to life the rule of truth and good thinking
with our thoughts, our words and our actions). Thus, with exquisite skill

and craftsmanship, Zarathushtra reflects in this first verse of Yasna 51


the same thought that he expresses in the last verse of this Yasna:
"I know in whose worship there exists for me the best in
accordance with truth. It is the Wise Lord as well as those who
have existed and (still) exist [the immortal values of the Wise Lord,
truth, good thinking, good rule etc]. Them (all) shall I worship with
their own names, [i.e. truth with truth, good thinking with good thinking
etc], and I shall serve them with love."
4. Jamaspa Haugva was the prime minister of King Vishtaspa,
Zarathushtra's patron king. He was reputed to hav been very wise, and
to have married Zarathushtra's youngest daughter Pouruchista.

Editor's Note: Some Historical Facts.


The earliest historical writer to mention Zarathushtra was Xanthus the Lydian,
who lived at or before the time of Herodotus. Xanthus was of the opinion that
Zarathushtra lived some 6,000 years before the Achaemenian emperor
Xerxes, 1 which would have put him at about 6,500 BC. At the other end of the
spectrum, as well as certain Pahlavi works, Arta Viraz Namak and Selections
of Zatspram, place Zarathushtra's date at 300 years before Alexander (i.e.
630 BC), 2 and the Persian poet Firdausi, (perhaps confusing Zarathustra's
patron king Vishtaspa with a much later king of the same name), also puts his
date at about 600 BC. Today many scholars, based on the metrical and
linguistic evidence of the Gathas themselves, put Zarathushtra's date at
between 1,000 BC to 1,400 BC, although a few favor an earlier date, while
Professor Gershevitch favors a much later date. 3
Tradition has it that when Alexander defeated the Persian empire around 330
BC, the religious texts that had been written up to that time were
destroyed. 4 Roughly 400 years later, the Parthian King, Valkash ordered the
scattered remnants to be collected, and about 200 years after Valkash, the
founder of the Sassanian dynasty, Ardeshir, and his successor Shahpuhr
completed the job. 5 However, the Dinkard tells us that all that could be
recovered of the lost Zoroastrian texts at that time was only as much as any

one priest could retain in his memory. 6 Those memorized words were
reduced to writing in the Sassanian times -- more than 1.300 years after
Zarathushtra, but by then understanding of the Avestan language had grown
dim. Indeed, the Sassanians brought together a whole group of compositions
by different generations of authors, which they collectively called the Yasna,
without appreciating that some of these were Zarathushtra's own
compositions, written in a more ancient form of language than normal Avestan.
This fact demonstrates that the Sassanians had but an imperfect
understanding of the Avestan language, 7 and unfortunately, when the
Sassanian empire was destroyed by the Arab invasion in about 650 AD
knowledge of the ancient texts went into further decline. Today, we have only
copies all of which post-date the Arab invasion. 8 Indeed, had it not been for
the practice of reciting these ancient works as part of the memorized ritual, all
knowledge of them likely would have been lost. Dastur H. Mirza tells us:
"Al-Biruni (p.58) refers to 'the ... confusion ... which prevails among the
Persians and Sogdians' and writes:
'For after Kutaiba ben Muslim Albahili had killed their learned men and priests,
and had burned their books and writings, they became entirely illiterate... and
relied in every knowledge or science which they required solely upon
memory....." 9
In light of Al-Biruni's account, the rebirth of Zoroastrian learning a couple of
hundred years after the Arab invasion, as demonstrated by the writings of
Mardan Farukh, is truly extraordinary, and demonstrates how deep were the
well-springs of Persian culture, and their regard for learning. Dr. I. V. Pourhadi,
in a lecture delivered in memory of the Sassanian poet Borbad, cites an
ancient Persian proverb thus:
"In life, do not be afraid of fateful events; be afraid when your memory doesn't
extend."10
One can understand why. So, from the time Zarathushtra founded the religion
to the present time, we have a period of about 3,000 or more years. Over the
millennia, between the many language changes that naturally occurred over
so long a period of time, and the historical dislocations, persecutions and
migrations, it is not difficult to understand why little knowledge survived
regarding the original ancient language in which Zarathushtra
taught. 11 Indeed, the wonder is that anything survived at all. Consequently,
most Zoroastrians relied, on the later traditions for their religious knowledge.

So how do we know today whether we have any of Zarathushtra's original


teachings? Well the story is an interesting one. It all started with a Frenchman
in the second half of the 18th century. Anquetil Duperron purchased some
manuscripts from a Zoroastrian priest in India, who, according to Duperron,
also instructed him in the Avestan and Pahlevi languages. Duperron published
a supposed translation of the Zend Avesta in Europe which created quite a
sensation among the intellectuals of that day. A few scholars, primarily in
England, thought that the whole thing was a fabrication, and that no such
language as Avestan really existed, but most scholars in Europe were
convinced of the authenticity of the manuscripts.
Life is full of ironies, and it so happened, that one of the doubters, William
Jones, made an off-handed remark which triggered a major breakthrough. He
said that when he ran his eye over a glossary of Avestan words in Duperron's
work, he was greatly surprised to find that six or seven words in ten were pure
Sanskrit, and even some of their inflexions conformed to the rules of Sanskrit
grammar. 12 That opened up a whole new field of inquiry, and about fifty years
later, a gifted Danish philologist, Rask, demonstrated that not only was
Avestan closely related to Sanskrit 13 but its grammar also bore some
resemblance to Latin. 14 And it was theorized that along with Sanskrit and
Latin, Avestan was an early decendant of a parent Indo-European language.
Subsequently, Eugene Burnouf, Professor of Sanskrit at the College de
France in Paris, and successive European scholars made an extensive and
meticulous analysis of Avestan from all available manuscripts. Using
principles of comparative philology they decoded the grammatical structure of
this ancient language, and the meaning of its words, with the help of both
Sanskrit and the Pahlavi works. This systematic analysis made them aware
that Duperron's translation was full of errors, and in some parts was largely
imaginary 15 and also that there were some serious inaccuracies in the
Pahlavi free translations of the Avesta, 16 although the Sassanians had
certainly retained some knowledge of the Avestan language. 17
But the most exciting discovery of all was that embedded in the Avestan
Yasna, was a set of poems with distinctive poetic meters, and in a language
even more ancient than normal Avestan -- a language which was a sister
language to Vedic Sanskrit. Once the connection was made with Vedic, this
group of poems -- the Gathas -- started to yield their secrets. The quality of
the poetry, the language, and the thought contents of these poems was found
to be quite extraordinary, and today, based on the internal evidence of the
Gathas themselves, most scholars believe that they were composed by
Zarathushtra. Reading the message of the Gathas, it is easy to understand

why Zarathushtra gained such a reputation for wisdom in the ancient (and
modern) world.
Zoroastrians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries did not hesitate to avail
themselves of this new scientific knowledge. K.R. Cama studied comparative
philology under Spiegel and brought this knowledge to the Zoroastrian
community of his day in India. 18 Taraporewala studied these techniques
under Bartholomae, and Dhalla studied under Jackson. And today we enjoy
the fruits of their works, as well as the researches of others.
Regrettably, there is a tendency amongst some of us to regard the so-called
"western" scholars with hostility. This is unfortunate, because what we are
doing is shutting ourselves off from the significant advances that have been
made in understanding the Gathic language since those early days. In my
view, it makes no difference whether a head is an "eastern" head or a
"western" head. It's the knowledge inside the head that counts. In decoding
the Gathic language, each generation builds on the discoveries and
knowledge of preceding generations. We need to keep up with these new
developments on a continuing basis. We need to produce more Camas, more
Taraporewalas, and more Dhallas to learn these advanced philological
techniques, and teach them to our children so that knowledge of the words of
our prophet will live again -- as familiar to us as they were to his own disciples.
There are only a few Universities in the United States and Europe which have
knowledge of comparative philology as it relates to the Gathic language.
Adults of my generation who have to earn a living can't leave their families
and their jobs and hike off to some distant university to learn these dual
disciplines. But it's not too late for our youngsters, if we can find some way to
encourage such studies. I believe that is the key to the survival of
Zarathushtra's message. Once our youngsters become aware of his ideas, I
think they will be hooked for life. Because ideas that touch the mind and the
heart survive long after armies and empires.
Dina G. McIntyre
The Editor.

Footnotes:
1. Moulton, Early Zoroastrianism, The Hibbert Lectures delivered at Oxford,
May 1912 (AMS reprint), page 77.

2. Mirza, Outlines of Parsi History, (Bombay 1974), page 361-362.


3. Gershevitch, Approaches to Zoroaster's Gathas, IRAN 1995, Published
by the British Institute of Persian Studies.
4. Dhalla, History of Zoroastrianism, (Reprint, K.R. Cama Oriental Institute,
1985) page 293.
5. Moulton, ibid., page 11.
6. Dhalla, ibid., page 295.
7. Darmesteter, in Sacred Books of the East, (Motilal Banarsidas reprint,
hereinafter referred to as "SBE"). Volume 4, Introduction pages xiii to xiv,
xxv to xxix.
8. Mirza, ibid., pages 321 to 326.
9. Mirza, ibid., page 362.
10.
Pourhadi, Borbad's Continued Aesthetic Influence, January 1990
(Lecture delivered in the Tajik Socialist Republic of Soviet Central Asia,
at the International Symposium in memory of the 1,400 anniversary of
Borbad). Dr. Pourhadi notes that the Tajiks are decendants of Bactrians
and Sogdians.
On June 17, 1990, in a talk to the Zoroastrian Association of
Metropolitan Washington, Dr. Pourhadi, (who was in the Tajik Republic
with Professor Ehsan Yarshater of New York), told of meeting a group
of Zoroastrians in the Tajik Republic, whose fire temple had long since
been destroyed by the Communist authorities. When asked how they
worshipped without a fire-temple, one of them responded by striking his
heart with his hand: "Our fire temple is in here" he said.
11.
Haug, Essays on the Language, Writings and Religion of the
Parsis, (Reprint Philo Press, 1971) page 38.
12.
Darmesteter, SBE Volume 4, page xx.
13.
Haug, ibid. pages 20-21.
14.
Darmesteter, SBE Volume 4, pages xxii.
15.
Haug, ibid., page 23.
16.
West, The Book of Mainyo-i-Khard, (Reprint APA Oriental Press,
Amsterdam, 1979) page x, Haug, ibid., pages 24-26.
17.
Darmesteter, SBE, Volume 4, pages xxxvi - xxxvii.
18.
Dhalla, ibid., page 487.

"Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no
constitution, no law, no court can save it;....What then is the spirit of
liberty?...The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; ...
which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women;...which

weighs their interests alongside its own without bias;...[it] is the spirit of Him
who... taught mankind that lesson it has never learned, but has never quite
forgotten; that there may be a kingdom where the least shall be heard and
considered side by side with the greatest."
Judge Learned Hand of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, The
Spirit of Liberty a Lecture delivered May 21, 1944.

"He who complies against his will


Is of his own opinion still."
Butler, Hudibras, III.

Volume 11

Photo No. 1
Photo No. 2
Photo No. 3
Photo No. 4
Photo No. 5
Photo No. 6
Photo No. 7

Your Verdict
Editor's Note: A central aspect of Zarathushtra's teaching is that the ideals of
religion find their best expression in the way we live our lives, in our thoughts,
our words and our actions.

I therefore thought that it might be an interesting experiment to include in


these materials photographs depicting certain ideas and solicit letters in which
the readers could express their opinions regarding what aspects of
Zarathushtra's teachings the photos depict. I hasten to stress: THERE ARE
NO "RIGHT" ANSWERS. The whole idea was to have you express your
opinions, whatever they might be.
Most of the photos were supplied by Sam Tata, a world class photographer
whose photographs have been widely published in the media, and also hang
in the museums of Europe and North America. I would like to thank Sam for
taking the time and trouble to review his collection of photographs and give us
the benefit of his selections.
Some of his photos are bitter-sweet -- like life itself. All of them are works of
art. When an oyster takes in a grain of sand, it spins layers of pearl around it
to cover the irritation. There are no pearly coatings in Sam's photos. His
realities are sometimes stark, but they reflect a dedication to truth, a
benevolent eye, and a perception of inner workings, all of which are the
characteristics of a fine artist. Sam, we are in your debt.
My thanks also to those of you who took the time to write in. The views
expressed by any one letter-writer do not necessarily reflect the views of any
other letter writer, or the Editor. Without more ado, here are the photos and
the letters that make up Your Verdict.

Photo No. 1, The Earth from Space,


(Courtesy of NASA).

To enlarge, Click on Picture

We associate this photograph with Zarathushtra the first environmentalist! He


first preached harmony between man and nature. In the world of today, this is
the big issue of the 90s! But Zarathushtra proclaimed a respect for Nature and
the environment thousands of years ago!
Roshan & Rohinton Rivetna,
Hinsdale, IL.

I can best see the principle of Asha represented. In the heart of this concept,
we find an essential foundation of the Prophet's message to humankind. He
tells us that Ahura Mazda conceived ideal creation in accordance with Asha. It
represents the true order of the universe, being the law of truth, progress,
justice, goodness and love. From Ashaproceeds the harmony of universal law
and order which encompass the whole of manifested creation.
Furthermore, our role as free individuals would be to better this world through
righteous deeds; otherwise, we will forfeit Asha and will not be considered a
part of this order. Zarathushtra explains qualities of a devoted Mazdayasnan
as one who upholds the Truth in Ahunavaiti Gatha:
"These things are clear to the man of insight: He who upholds Truth with
all the might of his power, he who upholds Truth to the utmost in his
word and deed, he indeed is Thy most valued helper, O Ahura
Mazda! "(Y31.22).
Thus, if we choose Asha by our free will, we will become collaborators with
God in making the world progress towards perfection through our good
thoughts, good words, and good deeds.
A. Makki,
Dayton, OH.

Regarding Photo No. 1, I would conjecture that it bears relevance to:

(1) Y44.3-4 ("This do I ask Ahura -- who laid down paths for the sun and stars,
who made the moon to wax and wane betimes, whose might holds the earth
and the sky apart...")
(2) Hormuzd Yasht para 26 ("through my own wisdom and perception I
created this earth from the very beginning..." and
(3) Y47.3 ("Thou didst create this earth to give us joy...").
Homi Homji,
Weston, Ontario.

The photograph instantly brought to my mind the Gathic verse:


"This I ask You, tell me truly, Lord. Who holds the earth below, who
keeps the sky from breaking away? Who created the waters and who the
plants? Who lends the wind and clouds speed? Who is the creator, Wise
One, of good mind?" (Y44.4).
Ali A. Jafarey,
Buena Park, CA.

This well-known photo gives us a perspective of our Earth as just one small
planet among millions of stars and planets in the universe... Our ancestor,
long before their eventual migration to Iran, were "star-gazers".
In the long, long dark winters of their northern habitats, they had the time and
the burning desire to study the movements of the planets and the stars and
formulate the early beginnings of astronomy.
Zarathushtra was equally fascinated with the vastness of the universe and
who created it. He visualized a High God, Ahura Mazda (All Wise Creative
Activity) as the Architect of the universe -- physical, mental, spiritual. He
viewed Ahura Mazda as the point of origin.
He saw the essential unity of the universe -- an entire creation forging its way
toward the goal of perfection. This is a fantastic cosmological transcendence
of Ahura Mazda from the much narrower concept of God as a historic,

personalized, religious deity...In Zarathushtra's own words, he pays homage


to Ahura Mazda:
"When I conceived of Thee, O Mazda, in my mind, I sincerely regarded
Thee as the first Actor in the Universe, as the Father of Reason, Good
Mind, as the true Originator of the Law of Asha, as the Governor over the
actions of Mankind."
Keki R. Bhote,
Glencoe, IL.

The photograph depicts to my mind peace and tranquility on the one hand and
ferocity and destruction on the other. This corresponds to the teachings of
Zarathushtra that there are two forces -- Spenta Mainyu andAngre Mainyu. He
has taught to always be with Vohu Mano so that we can always think good,
which will create good actions and improve our behaviour, so that we may find
happiness on the earth and aspire to attain everlasting peace (behest)
hereafter. (Y28.3).
Jamshed Pavri,
Vancouver, BC.
Ed: This letter was sent in on October 9, 1989, before Mr. Pavri's death.

This beautiful photo of the earth from space depicts the existence of light and
darkness, of good and evil in this world. Light and darkness are intertwined;
there are no demarcation lines and nobody knows exactly where goodness
ends and evil starts. The glorious sunset on the right indicates that there will
be darkness for sometime. This is referred to by Y34.7
"Wise One, where are those sincere ones who, through their possession
of good thinking, make even immoral decrees and painful legacies
disappear?..." (Y34.7) (Insler translation). (Insler translation).

In the meantime, we are groping to find our way in this maze of darkness and
light, trying to grasp what is good and what is evil, often faced or overcome by
evil forces. Y45.9 refers to this:
"...Him, who left to our will (to choose between) the virtuous and the
unvirtuous..." (Y45.9) (Insler translation).
However, the sunrise on the left of the photo gives us hope that goodness will
ultimately prevail. This is referred to by Y50.5:
"Let wisdom come in the company of truth across the
earth!" (Y50.5) (Insler translation). (Insler translation).
Lien Patel,
Ottawa, Ontario.

[Ed: Pervin J. Mistry of Mississauga, Ontario has refused consent to the reprinting of any of her letters here].

The earth as we know is round. There are millions and millions of people,
creatures and animals on the earth. Without earth there would have been
nothing. Zarathushtra's teachings are not to destroy the earth....and to keep it
clean. To grow vegetables and fruits, flowers, trees and raise animals which
are very useful to human beings. It is the earth that gives us everything.
Without the earth there would not be anything. It is like a mother to us. We are
thankful to Ahuramazda for giving us such a precious thing.
Rashida Daruwalla,
Gaithersburg, MD.

This photo makes me appreciate that light and darkness are both beautiful,
and that evil does not exist in the material creation, only in the thoughts,
words and deeds of living beings. It also makes me appreciate how
inconsequential are the differences that divide us. From up there it looks like
one world.

Dina G. McIntyre,,
Glenshaw, PA..

Photo No. 2, Boy Studying Tropical Fish. Sam Tata, 1958.

To enlarge, Click on Picture

This photograph, (and also Photo 3c, The Professor), depicts a value held in
the highest regard by Zarathushtra, Vohu Manah, the Good Mind.
Zarathushtra encourages man to think and reason before he can believe. The
emphasis on developing the mind, and reasoning through knowledge and
learning rather than blind faith, is a concept that was far ahead of his time,
and most appealing to the modern generation.
Roshan & Rohinton Rivetna,
Hinsdale, IL.

The young boy is expanding his knowledge of living creatures... The


quintessence of Zoroastrian theology is the Law of Asha -- the divine Master
Plan that governs all creation. It states that there are laws that govern the
physical world -- evolution, gravity, the atom, DNA, et cetera. Similarly, there
are laws that govern the spiritual world, that establish standards for an ethical
code of conduct. It is logical, therefore, that Zoroastrianism is not only
concerned with the spiritual development of man, but also with the physical
and scientific. Zarathushtra taught that the revelations of the divine order are
found in nature itself and not in any one man's doctrine. He urged that each
person should accept only those beliefs -- spiritual or scientific -- that he

himself concluded to be true after independent observation, after hearing from


authorities and after self-instruction about the nature of the universe:
"Do you listen with your own ears, do you look with the best inspiring
divine intelligence, at the creed of your own choice, each man for
himself, in order to instruct himself through our sages before the
magnific events." (Y30.2).
Later generations that came after Zarathushtra pursued this spirit of scientific
inquiry, but included them in the rituals of the religion. The principle of not
polluting the earth, of washing hands before the Kusti prayer, and other
practices that may appear quaint to modern man, have all been built on a
strong scientific foundation -- remarkable for being conceived thousands of
years ago.
Keki Bhote,
Glencoe, IL.

Modern man perceives himself to be the superior portion of God's creation


and therefore has tried to share in God's control over the rest of His Creation.
Man is setting himself up at middle management level.
North American Indians, Eskimos, and other primitive cultures perceive
themselves on the same level as the rest of God's creation and so they
respect and even worship animals, birds, trees, the land, air and water. They
perceive as brothers and sisters all of God's creation; and show the love and
respect they would to their brothers and sisters to all of God's creation (not
just the human race).
Personally, I see no evidence of God appointing man to the middle
management position. I find much wisdom and millennia of success in the way
that primitive man has lived in harmony with his environment.
These thoughts are inspired by the readings on Asha and Sam Tata's photo.
Man's inquisitive nature which comes through in Sam's photo, is good until
Man starts to get bossy, a la middle management.

Homi P. Bam,
Orillia, Ontario.

The boy studying tropical fish: My verdict is that a fish kept in a closed jar is
unnatural. It is just like a captive in prison. They like to stay under the blue
deep water of the ocean. They swim freely with other fishes, grow abundant.
They are countless. People for their hobby like to keep them in a tank, it is not
fair in my opinion.
Rashida Daruwalla,
Gaithersburg, MD.
Ed: Three cheers for Rashida! I did not think of this aspect of the photo - which is one of my favorites -- but I admire your sensitivity and respect
for other life forms.

What strikes me in the photo is the awe and wonder, almost ecstacy in the
facial expression of the boy. It is exciting to know and to be able to understand
the meanings of things and to discover new ways and meanings, and
understanding them. Without that excitement of discovery the point is missed
and the process of discovery has lost its real meaning. Mr. Tata brings out this
aspect of knowing and discovering in the photo, and thus brings another
perspective to the scholarly discourses on the subject under discussion.
Asha as natural law means freedom to move, act, think, and make choices
within the boundaries set by natural law. We as human beings have partially
lost that instinct to do the right things and speak the right words, and we need
guidance, intellect and knowledge to help us make the right choices in
complex situations. But we are not totally lacking in inner directives:
sometimes we have to sit down and digest accumulated and sometimes
conflicting information.
The photo emphasizes the joy of an active and constructive mind, which in my
view is a very important aspect of Asha.

Lien Patel,
Ottawa, Ontario.

Photo No. 2 ... reminds me of some of the teachings of Zarathushtra.


1. Zarathushtra named his God Ahura Mazda which can literally be
translated as "Supreme Wisdom/Knowledge". This nomenclature is
repeated very frequently in various ways in the Gathas. To the
Prophet Ahura Mazda was the greatest symbol of Wisdom and to me as
a follower of his teachings, I believe learning and knowledge leads to
wisdom.
2. The principles embedded in Yasna 30.2 are: See, Study and Select. We
are advised to use our senses to find the facts and with a "clear mind"
make the right decision.
3. The fish reminds me of the deep respect that Zarathushtra shows for all
forms of life and living -- human, animal and vegetation. Reflection of his
thoughts surface in Yasna 29.1, 3, 5, 6; Y30.9, 10; Y32.14; Y34.14 et
cetera.
4. Zarathushtra's Ahura Mazda is Absolute Goodness and everything good
in the universe emanates from the Absolute Goodness. These attributes
could be in abstract form such as good thoughts, words and deeds, or
celestial bodies such as the sun, moon, stars, or familiar objects on the
earth such as the beneficent animals, shepherds, farmers, et cetera.
It reminds me that the environment emanates from the Absolute Goodness
and we should treat our surroundings with respect. Yasna 32.8, 10; Y43.4, 16;
Y44.3, 20; Y50.14 all underline Zarathushtra's veneration for the environment.
S. Vafadari,
London, UK.

Quest for knowledge.


Sam Tata,
Montreal, Quebec.

Photo Collage No. 3:


3(a) Saddhu making his way to Amarnath, Kashmir,
(a place of pilgramage). Sam Tata, 1955.

To enlarge, Click on Picture

3(b) Rabbi and Children,


Sam Tata, 1972,

To enlarge, Click on Picture

3(c) The Professor.


Sam Tata, 1958.

To enlarge, Click on Picture

The entire human race is on a pilgrimage of some sort. While the saddhu in
the photograph displays certain visible handicaps, we are all in a way starting
with a handicap (visible or otherwise) to gain "Progress and Advancement as
emphatically advocated by the Gathas". (Spenta Mainyu, Ali A. Jafarey, essay
in No. 3, December 1989).
Through such a spiritual pilgrimage we are led closer to the truth. To quote
Professor Insler "This was Zarathushtra's attitude, it should be ours as well."
Dina H. Austin,
Bramlea, Ontario.

We need the guidance of teachers and of our own conscience, but we also
have to make the effort to seek guidance as expressed in the photo of the
Saddhu. It requires an open mind and a willingness to learn -- a lifelong
process.
Lien Patel,
Ottawa, Ontario.

Photo No. 3(a). The Saddhu making his pilgrimmage to Amarnath is seeking
to get away from the world to pray and meditate. This is characteristic of many
religions that advocate a studied detachment from worldly affairs in secluded
ashrams, monastaries and convents.

Zoroastrianism, on the other hand, advocates man participating with zest in


the arena of life. Not only is his mettle tested, with temptations and pitfalls all
around, but he can contribute to its improvement. Work and life are
intrinsically good. The true Zoroastrian does not seek refuge from them. He
makes them better, through full participation! We talk today of the Puritan
ethic, the work ethic. In recognition of Zarathushtra's teaching, it should be
called the Zoroastrian ethic!
Photo No. 3(b) and 3(c). Both photos stress the importance of education and
the role of the teacher. Zoroastrianism emphasizes both -- the thirst for
knowledge, and coaching by the teacher. Man is enjoined to follow the path
of Asha through knowledge, through devotion, through action -- what the
Vedas call Gryana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga. Knowledge precedes the
other two disciplines. And knowledge can come only from intensive study,
listening to the teachers and experts in a particular field and then arriving at
one's own conclusions. What a remarkable philosophy, free of the chains of
dogma that stifles.
Keki R. Bhote,
Glencoe, IL.

This photograph depicts Asha and Good Mind. Although the Saddhu is lame,
he goes on crutches with one leg walking to Amarnath, Kashmir, this shows
his faith, zeal, love and courage for his religion.
Rashida Daruwalla,
Gaithersburg, MD.

[Ed: I regret I cannot print Bill Brawner's most interesting letter because I have
been unable to locate him to get his permission, and he specifically asked (at
the time his letter was sent in) that it be copyrighted.]

Photo No. 4, Heart Transplant Operation.


Presbyterian University Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA, 1983.

To enlarge, Click on Picture

As in Photo No. 2, this photo evokes the importance of science in


Zoroastrianism. It also conjures up mankind's long march toward perfection.
Symbolically, the face mask in the operating theater has the same
significance as the padan in Zoroastrian religious ceremonies. In the former, it
is to prevent contamination for the patient. In the latter, it is to prevent
contamination of the holy fire. In reality, it is to emphasize purity -- the purity of
thought word and deed.
Further, a heart transplant has provided a major breakthrough in medical
research and in the medical profession's ability to extend man's life. Similarly,
in Zoroastrianism's adherence to the law of Asha, man is constantly
encouraged to advance the spiritual and physical world in its march toward
perfection.
Keki R. Bhote,
Glencoe, IL.

I see in this picture the spirit of healing and caring for humanity as personified
by the surgeons who are doing the heart transplant operation. Even to
contemplate such a delicate and difficult operation, the surgeons will have to
be moved by the spirit and will to do good, to heal, to help (spenta mainyu)
and in order to prepare for the operation the surgeons will have to acquire
knowledge, make proper judgments and apply good thinking (vohu mano). I
think Yasna 48.12 in Dr. Taraporewala's translation is applicable here:

"Such are indeed the Saviours of the Earth,


They follow duty's call, the call of love,
Mazda, they listen unto Vohu Mano" (Y48.12).
The combination of good spirit and good thinking brings to fruition the deed.
Actions performed selflessly and with love, within the Divine/Natural Law
(Asha) is a manifestation of the concept of Armaiti.
I think that a deed or an act done with the whole personality, physically,
mentally and spiritually is a religious experience and could be considered an
act of worship.
Lien Patel,
Ottawa, Ontario.

What aspect of Zarathushtra's teachings can one discern in an advanced


medical breakthrough like the Heart Transplant Operation? The thought that
comes to mind is the power of healing. In Photo No. 4 the surgeons wield a
knife to heal a medical problem. But not all of us have the surgeon's expertise,
nor is all healing concerned only with curing physical illness. While medical
healing is a science, mankind is beset with numerous woes (spiritual) which
defy scientific healing.
Maybe Zoroastrianism does have an answer for the wellbeing and happiness
of people, as it enjoins one to practise healing by following Zarathushtra's
message of Humata, Hukhta, Huvarshta (good thoughts, good words, good
deeds). Experience shows that some kind of healing could best be achieved
simply by the power of prayers and kind words.
Dina H. Austin,
Bramlea, Ontario.

My verdict is a good deed. Humat. According to Zarathushtra's teachings to


save a human life from pain -- heart disease and bring him back to normal life.
Rashida Daruwalla,
Gaithersburg, MD.

Photo Collage No. 5. A Modern Barn-Raising.


. A Modern Barn-Raising.
Christian Science Monitor -- Robert Harbison, 1989.
(Courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor).

To enlarge, Click on Picture

Photo Collage No. 5. A Modern Barn-Raising. These photos capture the spirit
of volunteer service within a community. Alexis de Tocqueville, the renowned
French author, felt that it was this free giving of oneself in the service of fellow
man that set America apart from the rest of the Western world. In our times,
President Bush has given expression to this service as "a thousand points of
light."

Zarathushtra, whose ancient religion is ideally suited to modern times,


stressed the importance of service to the larger family of man. Zoroastrians
capsulize his teachings in the well-known phrase Humata, Huktha,
Huvarashta -- good thoughts, good words, good deeds. But it is mainly
through good deeds that a man is judged by his community. Zarathushtra
taught that it was not enough to be good, but to do good. It is only by helping
others through sympathy, friendship, charity and social service that man is
liberated from fleeting pleasures or self-aggrandizement and discovers lasting
happiness.
Zoroastrians, through the ages, have made this teaching of Zarathushtra a
centerpiece of their religion. The world over -- be it in India, or Iran or North
America -- Zoroastrians are respected within their communities because of
their charities and their giving of themselves in humanitarian causes.
No statement can do better justice to the spirit of service than Zarathushtra's
own immortal words:
"Happiness to him who gives happiness to others." (Y43.1).
Keki R. Bhote,
Glencoe, IL.

Photo Collage No. 5, A Modern Barn-Raising, depicts Zarathushtra's


teachings Wohu Kshatra. To give help, to give selfless service to our friends,
relatives and neighbors.
Rashida D. Daruwalla,
Gaithersburg, MD.

I am impressed by the friendly spirit, the working together, and the status-less
environment which these photos depict, and the happiness which results -Gathic teachings being practiced by people who have never read the Gathas.
Dina G. McIntyre,
Glenshaw, PA.

Photo Collage No. 6.


No. 6(a) Research at Children's Hospital,
Sam Tata, 1958.

To enlarge, Click on Picture

No. 6(b) Visiting Nurse and Old Man


Sam Tata, 1963.

To enlarge, Click on Picture

No. 6(c) Boy Lighting Cigarette,


Sam Tata, 1958.

To enlarge, Click on Picture

The photographs which have dotted some of the lectures have been rather
esoteric and initially I found it hard to relate to them in the context of the
teachings of Zarathushtra in the Gathas. But after reflection and
contemplation, the photographs came alive. I would like to express my verdict
on a group of 4 photographs, No. 1 The Earth from Space, No. 2 Boy
Studying Tropical Fish, No. 4 Heart Transplant Operation, and No. 6 (a) (b)
and (c).
There appears to be a common theme in these four photographs, the
continuity of life: from creation Asha and Fresho Kereti (Photo 1), to the quest
for knowledge from Spenta Mainyu and Vohu Mana (Photo 2), to the highest
application of knowledge in saving another's life (Photo 4) -- Vohu
Xshathra the good rule of authority or power exercised with reason and
intelligence and committed to what is true and right (Asha). Here we seeAsha,
the law of progress capable of accomodating modernity without any change in
the essence of the law. Photo Collage No. 6 embodies the principles
of Haurvatat and Ameretat; goodness for the sake of goodness, the realization
of good thought, word and deed. Helping others selflessly brings its own
reward (Ameretat). The continuity in this theme ends with the ending of life.
Dolly Dastur,
Brossard, Quebec.

To me it seems that each of these photos, 6(a)(b) and (c), in different ways,
represent benevolent service to the rule of truth and good thinking (aramaiti):
(a) represents the quest for knowledge or understanding, (b) and (c) represent
individual acts of service stemming from good thinking
As a community, we like to pat ourselves on the back by pointing to the many
magnificent philanthropic, financial charities which our ancestors in India and
Iran have set up for their respective communities and nations. But as the
saying goes: "That's history. What have you done recently."
Sam's photos bring home the point that one need not be a millionaire to
engage in acts of benevolent service (aramaiti), and that small, ordinary,
unpretentious, individual acts, sometimes unpleasant, often unnoticed, are
that touch of sunlight that make life worthwhile. One such act may seem like
nothing. But put them all together and you bring to life the "rule of truth and
good thinking".
Dina G. McIntyre,
Glenshaw, PA.

No.6(a) To train the mind in quest of truth and wisdom is a laid-down principle
of Zoroastrianism. No. 6(b) Youth will not forsake the aged: Is that not an
essential duty enjoined by our faith? No.6(c) Although fire is held sacred in
Zoroastrianism and smoking therefore is a no-no, the concept of compassion
and care ... comes across strong in (c) -- a vital aspect of Zarathushtra's
teachings.
Dina Austin,
Bramlea, Ontario.

Photo No. 7. The Challenger Astronauts.


(Courtesy of NASA).

To enlarge, Click on Picture

This photo represents man's quest to push forward the frontiers of knowledge
and science. It illustrates... Zarathushtra's teaching of a spirit of free and
independent inquiry.
Keki R. Bhote,
Glencoe, IL.

This photograph depicts to us, the Zoroastrian values of Action, the Spirit and
the Love of life. The spirit of adventure and enterprise, the yearning for truth
and knowledge, the striving "whether through spoken word, through firm
resolve, or through the act direct..." (Y33.2). "Whoso fosters zealously all Life,
he doth assure himself a place within the realm of Ashaand Vohu Manah."
(Y33.3).
Roshan & Rohinton Rivetna,
Hinsdale, IL.

The brotherhood of man.


Dina G. McIntyre,
Glenshaw, PA

Volume 12

Zarathushtra's Vision
Sketches of Ahura Mazda
Selections from the Gathas
Some Statistics
Editor's Note: Some Thoughts on Yasna 29
Editor's Note: Where Do You Go From Here?
Thanks & Acknowledgements

Zarathustra's Vision
Stanley Insler

In the history of the world, few men have arisen who are remembered as the
founders or reformers of a great religion. The majority of these compelling
thinkers were born in the geographic areas of the Middle East and South Asia,
where an advanced civilization and culture can be traced back over millennia,
often beyond the testimony of the oldest texts. The homelands of Moses and
Jesus, the native countries of Buddha and Zarathustra, all attest to continuous
waves of migrations and settlement patterns that have contributed to the
creation of an advanced stage of development that preceded the historical
and cultural moments reflected in the earliest documents of their respective
traditions. Yet is this fact reason enough to explain why these remarkable
religious leadersemerged in the course of history? Put in other words, why are
these few men remembered as pivotal thinkers and not others?
Surely the explanation for the emergence of these religious leaders must be
more complicated than the fact that they belonged to continuous cultural
traditions. Indeed there have been other comparable historical situations
among ancient traditions, but in none of these have charismatic thinkers
arisen who were able to seize the spirit and emotions of their people in a

fashion to reshape the future religious history of their folk. So the answer to
the questions first posed must be sought from another direction. Perhaps a
proper explanation could be found if we could identify points of historical
similarity in the biography of Moses, Jesus, Buddha and Zarathushtra that
might lead us to understand from where their inspiration stemmed and how it
was possible for their peoples to believe in their new vision.
In the case of Moses, matters are most easy to grasp. The Hebrew Bible
informs us that the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt, held under the yoke of
oppression of the Pharoahs, and longing to return to the homeland from which
they had been driven into servitude. For Jesus the situation was rather similar.
Palestine was under the domination of the Romans, who exploited the people
and drained the wealth of the land for their own greedy purposes. In the time
of Buddha, the kingly Hindu states of Northwestern India pushed eastward
under swelling expansionism, in the attempt to impose their domination upon
territorial realms that long had forged independent traditions of their own. And
from Zarathustra's own words, we know that many of the Iranian lands were
controlled by evil rulers who brought death and destruction to the tribes and
clans of the area.
In short, we see at once that the political situation at some point in the lives of
these men was marked by periods of oppression and aggression, times when
foreign or outsider groups forced their will and their ways upon peoples who
possessed a history and culture of their own. Under such circumstances,
when heavy lay the hands of strangers upon native traditions and customs,
when peace had disappeared and tyranny reigned, all these great thinkers
strove towards similar goals. In bondage they saw the clarity of freedom, in
domination they understood the desirability of choice, in tyranny they longed
for justice, in evil they comprehended the good. Out of the unfortunate fate
that had befallen them, they constructed a vision for the future founded upon
the reversal of their sorry lot.
This, however, cannot be the complete story, since demoralizing political
situations have spawned revolutionary leaders, and the great men mentioned
in this presentation are only considered religious leaders, not revolutionaries.
What is the difference therefore? I think the answer lies in the fact that most
revolutionaries are able to muster support from their people, when they are
numerous enough, and rise in rebellion against their oppressors. But in the
case of the four great men under discussion, this was not possible. The Jews
exiled in Egypt were no match for the well trained Egyptian armies and the
same condition applies to Palestine under Roman domination. Buddha was
but one prince among many others, and it appears that most of them

capitulated to the Hinduizing influences. Likewise Zarathustra informs us that


he possessed few cattle and few men, which clearly means that he too was
politically weak.
So what did these men do? They turned to God for assistance, for help and
refuge, for an indication of the direction to follow towards freedom. They had
to do this since their own priests for the most part seemed willing to serve
their new masters. Moses' own brother Aaron had suggested worshipping
idols, the priests of the temple in Jerusalem complied with the wishes of the
Romans at the time of Jesus. The Hindu elements in Buddhism reveal similar
adaptations, and the Gathas testify that many of Zarathushtra's contemporary
priests followed the desires of the evil rulers of the lands. In some instances a
sign arrived from God. A series of plagues beset the Egyptians, which Moses
took as an indication to begin the long trek homewards. But for the others we
know of no significant outbreak of famine or pestilence that could be viewed
as an answer from God.
Instead, in the moment of need, all of these great religious leaders
communicated with God, and the words they heard from the Almighty were
presented as the basis of a new doctrine that could steer their people and
their religion in a thoroughly new direction. Moses summarized his talks with
God in The Ten Commandments, a set of rules to allow his people to live
honestly and piously among one another, with respect and reverence for both
Man and God. Jesus' doctrine also dealt with respect and love for Man and
God, but it stressed that the woes of the world would end at some future time,
when another savior would arrive. His legacy was a doctrine of Hope founded
upon Faith. Buddha merged Man and God in the general concept of Being,
and he stressed the gentle and charitable treatment of all creatures, then and
forever.
As to the prophet, Zarathushtra left behind several Songs that gave body to
the ideas that he had seen, notions of God and Man conceived in a Good
Vision (Vanhui Daena) that formed the basis of a new religion. Like Moses,
Zarathustra called his insights, arising from contemplating the sad nature of
the human condition in contrast to the perfection and harmony of nature, the
Commandments of Ahura Mazda, and he also referred to them as the Laws
by which the foremost existence shall come to pass in his own world, a time
when happiness would replace the rampant misery and affliction that he saw
around him. Indeed, Zarathustra appealed to Ahura Mazda, at Yasna 51.4,
asking,

"Where shall there be protection instead of injury? Where shall mercy


take place?"
Elsewhere the prophet speaks of fury, cruelty, bondage and violence
throughout the lands.
These statements can only reflect the realities of the political oppression of his
times, the tyranny from which he, like the other religious leaders, realized the
need for freedom and choice, the need for the self-determination of human
dignity. Moved by the cruel conditions in his lifetime, Zarathustra conceived a
view of Man dealing with fellow Man according to the principles of Truth and
Good Thinking that God had created in his highest Wisdom, principles that
could be enacted in this world by Man as well through thoughts, words and
deeds that conformed to the highest achievements that God had created. By
treating one another in this fashion, a new type of sovereignty could arise on
earth, and he called this vision "the Kingdom of Truth and Good Thinking." It
was to be a mirror of Ahura Mazda's own dominion since it was based upon
the principles that imparted peace and harmony to nature.
These terms which Zarathushtra employed -- commandments, laws,
sovereignty -- are clearly modelled upon political concepts, because the
prophet understood that this was the inescapable pattern of social
organization and the best method to shape human behavior. We see this
clearest at Yasna 44.9, where he entreats Ahura Mazda in the following
manner:
"This I ask Thee. Tell me truly, Lord. How shall I bring to life that vision
of mine, which the master of a blessed dominion -- someone of great
power like Thee, Wise Lord -- would decree by reason of his lofty rule, as
he continues to dwell in his seat in alliance with truth and good
thinking?" (Y44.9).
But the verse also reveals that Zarathustra knew full well that the only
enduring power in the world was based upon truth and good thinking insofar
as the givens of the natural world, the sun, moon, stars and winds, owed their
creation and their perfection to the truth embodied in the good thinking and
spirit of their Creator, a matter emphasized earlier in this particular Song. This
is the reason why he continued in the next verse to ask further:
"This I ask Thee. Tell me truly, Lord. Have they truly seen that vision
which is the best for those who exist, and which, in companionship with

truth, would prosper my creatures already allied with truth through


words and acts stemming from respect?"
Here Zarathustra, through his question, defines the requisites for the
realization of the good rule. Not only was it based on truth, as mentioned in
the preceding stanza, but like every system of authority, it demanded respect
in order to function correctly, and its proper function was to bring prosperity to
all living creatures. How many of us despair today, when we see that the laws
of our lands that were written for the good of the people are treated without
the serious respect or dignity they merit? Was it any different during the
lifetime of the prophet?
Religion and politics have always coexisted in the history of the world, often in
situations where they were in conflict with one another. Much of this conflict
has arisen because those who possessed temporal power lost sight of the
purpose of worldly sovereignty -- the good of the people -- and sacrificed this
purpose for their own selfish and exploitive ends. Religion, on the other hand,
has always succeeded because it offers to all men access to the good, either
in this world or the next, in a manner fully dependent upon their own behavior
and their own choices. This explains why kingdoms disappear but great
religions endure. To my mind, one of the great contributions of the prophet
Zarathustra was to envision the possibility of worldly power founded upon the
principles of truth and good thinking by which God imparted perfection and
harmony to the universe. What better way could one respect the dignity that
both God and Man equally deserve?
Stanley Insler, 1990.

Dr. Stanley Insler, Chairman of the Department of Linguistics at Yale University, 19781989, is a world-renowned Gathic scholar. His translation of the Gathas is widely
considered to be one of the most current and definitive works on the subject. He was
educated at Columbia, Yale, the University of Tubingen, and the University of Madras.
He has taught at Yale since 1963, where he presently holds the position of Salisbury
Professor of Sanskrit and Comparative Philology. He has lectured and published widely
on subjects dealing with the ancient languages and texts of India and Iran, including the
Gathas, and is a member of the American Oriental Society, the Royal Asiatic Society of
Great Britain, the German Oriental Society, and the French Oriental Society, among
others.

Sketches of Ahura Mazda


(Quotations from the Gathas)
(Insler translation)

"Lord of broad vision..."


Y33.13.

"...the creator and companion of truth,


and all those other forces
existing under Thy rule, Wise Lord."
Y34.10.

"...Thou dost guard in Thy house


this good thinking,
and the souls of the truthful ones..."
Y49.10.

"Take notice ... Lord,


offering the support which
a friend should grant to a friend..."
Y46.2.

"...May the Wise Lord listen,


in whose glory I have taken counsel

with good thinking..."


Y45.6.

"...Him who is beneficent


through his virtuous spirit..."
Y45.6

"...Him who left to our will


(to choose between)
the virtuous and the unvirtuous.
...the Lord, Wise in His rule..."
Y45.9.

"...Him, the Lord who is famed to be


Wise in His soul.
Whatever one has promised to Him
with truth and good thinking is to be
completeness and immortality for Him
under His rule,
is to be
these two enduring powers for Him
in His house."
Y45.10

"...Him who offers solicitude..."


Y46.17.

"...the Wondrous One..."


Y32.16.

Selections from the Gathas


(Insler translation)

"...Thou, the Wise One,


hast come into the world with
Thy virtuous spirit
(and) with the rule of good thinking,
through the actions of which the
creatures allied with truth do prosper..."
(Y43.6).

"Through a virtuous spirit


and the best thinking,
through both action and the word
befitting truth,
they shall grant
completeness and immortality to Him.
The Wise One in rule
is Lord through [service]."
Y47.1

"...Such is the rule for the Wise One


that one shall increase it for Him
through good thinking."
Y31.6.

"... the beneficent man ...


he serves truth during his rule,
with good word and good action.
Such a person shall be

Thy most welcome guest, Wise Lord."


(Y31.22).

"...Who has been found to be the protector of my cattle [flock, followers]


Who of me? Who other than truth
and Thee, Wise Lord, and best thinking..."
Y50.1.

"Therefore, let us reverently give an offering


to Thee Lord, and to truth,
all of us creatures under Thy rule
whom one has nourished with good thinking.."
Y34.3.

"Yes, praising, I shall always worship


all of you, Wise Lord,
with truth and the very best thinking
and with their rule
through which one shall stand
on the path of (good) power.
I shall always obey (you) the truly sincere ones existing in the House of
Song."
Y50.4

"By the grace of Ahura Mazda


I delight in what is right;
I do not delight in what is false.
It is not my desire that the weak should be mistreated by the mighty,
nor that the mighty be treated wrongly by the weak.
what is right and truthful is my desire."

Darius the Great,


King of the Achaemenian Empire.
(circa 520 BC)

Some Statistics.
Circulation: This course started with a circulation of 260 persons or couples
in September 1989. By August 1990, the circulation had increased to 586
persons institutions or couples. Since then, requests for copies have
continued to pour in, and I have long since given up keeping count.
All of the recipients either requested the materials, or had the materials
requested for them by others (there were no mass mailings to uninterested
persons). The count includes 15 professors or associate professors at 11
Universities in the United States and 1 in Europe; as well as the Library of
Congress, The Middle East Institute, the K.R. Cama Oriental Institute, and the
Zoroastrian Trust (UK)
The countries to which these materials were sent as of August 1990:

United States 427 copies


Canada 98 copies
Europe & Asia 61 copies.

Costa Rica
Cyprus
France
Germany
India
Pakistan
Portugal

Singapore
Switzerland
United Kingdom
United States
Zambia.

Accounts of the Gatha Studies Trust


(1989 through August 31, 1990).

Receipts:*

Donations 20,167.82

Total Receipts $20,167.82

Expenses*:

Copy Boy (printing) $11,861.54


Kinko's & Brock's, (Laser printer, labels & copying) 979.30
Postage 6,546.96
Mailing Envelopes 322.84
IRS & PA (filing fees) 320.00
Bank charges & Legal advertising (per IRS regulations)137.18

Total Expenses $20,167.82

* These include estimated receipts and expenses for this last booklet -- No. 12.

Editor's Note:

Some Thoughts on Yasna 29

Yasna 29 is a lament and a promise. It is a dramatization through which


Zarathushtra conveys a fundamental truth. To understand its message, we
need first to understand the imagery which Zarathushtra uses, and then
gather the sense of the poem by looking to the abstract ideas which lie behind
the imagery 1
The cast of characters in this drama includes the good vision 2 -- the vision of
a world governed by truth and good thinking -- vanghui daena . Also included
are Zarathushtra, the Wise Lord Ahura Mazda, and his three cardinal values -truth (asha), good thinking (vohu mano) and the spirit of benevolence (spenta
mainyu), 3 all of which are personified in this poem. Naturally, one wonders
why. Why does Zarathushtra personify truth, good thinking and the benevolent
spirit if they are aspects of God's divine nature. The answer, I believe, has to
do with Zarathushtra's attempt to project, in dramatic form, the message he
wishes to convey, as you will see.
The poem starts with the lament of the good vision to the Wise Lord and his
divine forces.
"To all of you the soul of the [good vision] lamented: 'For whom did ye
shape me? Who fashioned me? (For) the cruelty of fury and violence, of
bondage and might, holds me in captivity. I have no pastor other than
you. Therefore appear to me with good pasturage". (Y29.1)
It is important to note here what it is that inhibits and destroys the good vision.
It is the cruelty of fury, violence, bondage (the loss of freedom) and might
(physical force). Beset by these forces, the good vision appeals to the Wise
Lord and his divine values for assistance.
God's benevolent spirit (spenta mainyu) is moved by the appeal and asks
truth if it is a true and correct judgment for the good vision to be in this way.
The spirit of benevolence further asks: If the good vision was placed on earth
by the Wise Lord and his immortal forces, should not there be someone here
to care for and protect her, someone who "might destroy the fury (caused)
by the deceitful?" (Y29.2).
The divine forces reply through truth:

"There is no help free of enmity for the [good vision]..."(Y29.3).


This, I think, is significant. It demonstrates a recognition of the truth that, given
the freedom to choose, there are those who will choose the way of cruelty,
violence and deceit -- the enemies of the good vision -- and that since God
does not interfere with man's freedom to choose, the truth of the matter is that
the good vision cannot be helped or promoted simply by having God banish
evil by divine edict, as it were. There has to be another solution.
Truth goes on to say that it has not found any mortal through whom the divine
forces can activate the living on earth, and
"...to whom I [truth] of ready ear shall come at his calls."(Y29.3)
(An acknowledgment that truth comes to those who seek it). The Wise Lord
informs the good vision of truth's inability to find a solution to her dilemma, but
promises that a pastor will be found to care for her. And Zarathushtra, the
narrator of the poem, affirms his belief at this point, that the Wise Lord not
only "...is of the same temperament with truth..." (Y29.7), but that he does
indeed assist those in need (Y29.7).
In fulfillment of His promise to find assistance for the good vision, the Wise
Lord turns to good thinking for the solution. He asks:
"...'Who has (been found) by thee, good thinking, who might give these
things to the mortals below?' " (Y29.7).
Good thinking responds that it has found Zarathushtra Spitama who has given
ear to the commandments of the divine forces, and adds:
"...He wishes, Wise One, to recite hymns of commemoration for us, and
for truth, if he might receive for himself sweetness of
speech." (Y29.8). (Y29.8).
Whereupon the good vision weeps. She recognizes that her caretaker,
Zarathushtra, is powerless (as the world defines power),
"...my caretaker is powerless, (merely) the voice of a man without
might..." (Y29.9).
She wishes her caretaker to possess "rule through power." (Y29.9) and she
wonders when someone will appear who will help him. But she and

Zarathushtra pray to the Wise Lord, expressing their belief that the promise of
assistance which the Wise Lord has given to the good vision will be fulfilled.
" 'The Wise One is the first to heed his agreements...He is the decisive
Lord. As He shall wish it, so shall it be for us.''' " (Y29.4). 4
And in a touching plea, they ask Him:
"...'Is there to be no future for the man who lives honestly? No future for
the man who breeds cattle [footnote: "metaphor for the truthful man who
increases the flock of the faithful" 5] among the deceitful?' " (Y29.5).
The poem concludes with two verses in which Zarathushtra asks for strength
and the rule of truth and good thinking -- another way of describing the good
vision.
" 'Lord, grant...strength and the rule of truth and good thinking , by
means of which one shall create peace and tranquility. I have indeed
recognized the first possessor of this to be Thee, Wise One.' " (Y29.10).
There is an interesting play here on the difference between the preceding
request (in Y29.9) for help from someone powerful as the world defines power,
and Zarathushtra's understanding (Y29.10) that ultimate power comes only
from the rule of truth and good thinking.
Zarathushtra concludes the poem by asking God to acknowledge those fit for
the great task (of nurturing the good vision) and he asks God and his divine
values to come to us in consequence of our gift for them -- the gift of our
service (aramaiti) to the rule of truth and good thinking, which is the good
vision.
It is interesting to note that in Y29.10 (quoted above), truth and good thinking
are treated as concepts, whereas in Y29.11, they are again personified and
referred to collectively with Ahura Mazda 6, a technique which Zarathushtra
uses repeatedly throughout the Gathas, and which supports the inference that
they are among those values with which he describes divinity.
Having reviewed the imagery and the action in this drama, let us briefly
consider the abstract ideas behind them. Yasna 28, the first poem in the
Gathas, ends with a prayer by Zarathushtra to the Wise Lord for a blueprint to
bring about the best existence here on earth:

"...do Thou, Wise Lord, instruct me... through the eloquence befitting
Thy spirit...[in] the things by means of which the foremost existence
shall come about here."(Y28.11).
Insler explains that:
"The foremost existence is the time when deceit and its forces shall be
destroyed and the rule of truth and good thinking shall reign in the world." 7
Yasna 29 is an answer to the request in Y28.11. It advances the idea that the
vision of a world governed by truth and good thinking -- the good vision
(vanghui daena) -- was created by the benevolent spirit of the Wise Lord, as a
means for bringing us peace and tranquility (Y29.10, Y48.6), and happiness
(Y47.3); but that the forces of cruelty, violence, tyranny and deceit have
prevented this vision, this rule, from coming to fruition here on earth. Hence
the lament of the good vision in verse 1.
This motivates the benevolence in God to look for a solution, and therein lies
the significance of Yasna 29. The solution is not imposed from above. It
requires the involvement of man, which is one reason why truth alone is
unable to find a mortal caretaker to nurture the good vision and resolve its
dilemma. As Insler explains:
"Perhaps the proper understanding of truth's position is to be sought in the
fact that [it] represents a state of perfection, both physical and mental (of the
two existences repeated in the Gathas), which is difficult to achieve by a
single man and which forms the characterization of Ahura Mazda...'who is the
mightiest and wise Lord (Y33.11). 8
With truth, the perfectionist, unable to find a satisfactory mortal caretaker for
the good vision, the Wise Lord turns to good thinking, which selects, not a
man of worldly power, but a man of understanding.
In other words, the divine force which provides the solution, which is capable
of activating man to nurture and promote the good vision, is good thinking
(reason and understanding). It is through good thinking that we grasp the truth
and what's right. It is good thinking that enables us to determine what words
and actions will nurture the good vision. In short, it is the growth of this divine
force -- good thinking -- in man that leads to the rule of truth and good thinking
(which is the good vision). Good thinking is the Wise Lord's promised solution
to the good vision's lament. As Insler explains:

"... good thinking recognized, in [its] selection of the understanding prophet as


the [good vision's] protector, that the eventual overthrow of deceit must
depend on the growth of reason and understanding in mankind. Namely, a
further show of strength in the world leads only to further antagonism, but the
human condition can be elevated for the better by the exercise of good
thinking." 9
Yasna 29 reflects a poetic technique that is frequently seen in the Gathas.
There is a unity of identity between the ideas reflected in the first and last
verses. In the first verse, using the material imagery of the cow, Zarathushtra
refers metaphorically to the good vision in the world of matter -- the vision of a
world governed by truth and good thinking. In the last 2 verses, he closes this
poem with a reference to the healing effects of the rule of truth and good
thinking -- the concept of the good vision expressed without metaphor.
In the final analysis, the substance of Yasna 29 is a variation of a theme which
is reflected again and again in the poems of the Gathas -- that the means and
the end are the same; that through the workings of a benevolent spirit (in God
and man) God's rule of truth and good thinking (the good vision) is brought
about in the worlds of both mind and matter, by man's good thinking and truth,
by man's service to that rule in thought, word and action.
It is good to reflect that after years of rejection and wandering, Zarathushtra
did indeed find a patron with worldly power, King Vishtaspa, who appreciated
the validity of his teachings, and who, subject to human limitations, made the
commitment to implement the rule of truth and good thinking in his tiny
kingdom. That Zarathushtra's good vision, for a time at least, did indeed bring
peace and happiness to that land is reflected in his description of the
environment which his teaching created. In Yasna 46.16, he says to his
disciple Frashaoshtra:
"Frashaoshtra Haugva, come thou hither... Hither, where [service] is in
harmony with truth, where sovereignty is in the power of good thinking,
where the Wise Lord dwells in maturity." (Y46.16).
For some of us, religion is a preoccupation with the after-life. Zarathushtra's
focus is on this life. For some of us religion helps us cope with the fear of
death. Zarathushtra teaches us how to live. In Yasna 50.11 he restates the
divine solution provided in Yasna 29:
"...Through good thinking the Creator of existence shall promote the
true realization of what is most healing according to our wish." (Y50.11).

But it is worth remembering that this divine solution is generated by the spirit
of benevolence, of goodness, of loving kindness, spenta mainyu.
Dina G. McIntyre
The Editor.

Footnotes:
1. Opinions differ greatly regarding both the translation and interpretation
of this Yasna. My views are based on the translation by Professor Insler,
and in arriving at my interpretations and conclusions, I have drawn
heavily on his explanation of this Yasna which appears at pages 134 to
147 of his book, The Gathas of Zarathushtra. Although I occasionally
disagree with some of what he says, in my view, this explanation of
Yasna 29 is just about the best thing that I have read on the subject -insightful and well-reasoned.
2. The good vision is metaphorically referred to in this Yasna, and
throughout the Gathas, as the cow. Now before you get self-conscious
or turned off, (as I did when I first read this Yasna), I would like you to
stop and consider this. When the New Testament refers to the "Lamb of
God", or sheep and the Good Shepherd, everyone understands that
these words are used metaphorically. Like Zarathushtra, Christ and his
disciples came from an agrarian society, so naturally, the imagery they
used was agrarian, the only difference being, whereas they came from a
society which raised sheep, Zarathushtra's contemporaries were
cattlemen. Sheep are not mentioned as part of the agrarian imagery in
the Gathas, only the cow, cattle, horses and camels.
Most western scholars translate the words geus urva in Yasna 29 as
"the soul of the cow". Most eastern scholars translate the words as "the
soul of the world". I believe, with Professor Insler, that the correct
translation is "cow" and that Zarathushtra was using the word cow
metaphorically. This is how Insler explains it:
"Before we can truly determine the significance of the drama unfolded in
Y. 29, it is necessary to identify the figure of the cow who plays such an
important role in this hymn and elsewhere in the Gathas. Valuable
progress in this direction has been contributed by Cameron (1968), who
has recognized that the terms cow and herdsman (cattle-breeder,
pastor) are consistently employed in metaphoric usage by Zarathushtra

throughout his poetry. Cameron rightly stresses (267 ff.) that it would be
surprising to find embedded amid such exalted and serious verse
constant reference to the mere protection and preservation of cattle,...or
to encounter impassioned statements on Zarathushtra's part against the
followers of another religious faith whose ritual centered around the
slaying of animals and the drinking of the intoxicating Haoma beverage
(Lommel's position, last defined in 1971, 32ff.). He thus concludes
(270ff.) that the cow is a symbol for 'God's flock' and that the herdsman
is an energetic member of this flock who follows the will of God in
thought, word and deed.
"Although I approve of Cameron's metaphoric understanding of cow and
herdsman, and accept for the most part his definition of the role of the
pastor, it is on the question of the underlying nature of the cow that I
disagree with him. For I do not believe that the cow can be a symbol for
humanity, because Zarathustra makes it quite clear in his poetry that the
cow is a benevolent force which must be sought after by the truthful
man (50.2), and which shall be given to the honestly living person as a
reward in order to save his fellowman from the forces of deceit (50.3). In
this way the figure of the cow approaches in essence the Lord-created
values of truth and good thinking, whose quest for and realization on
earth is the task of the righteous man (29.10,31.4, 47.2, 51.1, etc.), and
which shall bring on the defeat of deceit (31.4, 48.1, etc.). Similarly,
when 51.5-6 juxtapose in antithetical fashion the notions of a person
who shall serve the cow in accordance with truth and of a person who
shall not serve the Wise Lord, the reverence to be allotted to the cow
comes very near to that of Ahura Mazda himself in importance. Thus the
cow in origin seems to belong to a higher world than that of man, and
her appearance on earth and her required attention are for the purposes
of bringing nourishment and peace to the faithful (48.5-6), much as the
attainment of good thinking and truth in the mortal world are to
accomplish these very same aims (29.10, 33.5, 34.12-14, etc.).
"This line of reasoning leads me to believe that the cow is an allegorical
figure for the vanhui daena 'the good vision' (51.17, 53.1,3), the
conception of the foremost existence belonging to the immortal forces
(45.11, 49.6), and one which the Wise Lord granted to the savior
Zarthustra (53.2). It is the conception which is best for those who exist
(44.10), and entails the pious and faithful worship of the Wise One and
his [forces] (44.10, 49.5, etc.), in order that he grant the rule of good
thinking and of truth on earth (29.10, 31.4, 51.18). The whole outlook of

Zarathushtra on these points is aptly summarized in 51.21: 'Virtuous is


the man of piety [aramaiti]. He is so by reason of his understanding, his
words and actions, his conception. Virtuous is truth and the rule of good
thinking. The Wise Lord created this, and I shall entreat Him for this
good reward'. This verse also clarifies the content of 33.3 which states
that the man serving the cow with zeal shall be on the pasture of truth
and good thinking. For the person who dedicates himself to Ahura
Mazda and to the values of truth and good thinking which the Wise One
created, represents and sustains is the one who strengthens the power
of his God by granting meaning and significance to the very qualities
which characterize the true nature of the Wise Lord. He is the pastor,
the man of faith and piety, the champion of what is good and proper,
who tends and promotes the good conception of a world governed by
truth and good thinking by his own active involvement in his own world
through these lordly principles conceived by wisdom and aroused by a
spirit of virtue. In this way he gives life to the essence of his God on
earth, whereby the whole human condition is elevated towards a better
existence." Insler, The Gathas of Zarathushtra, pages 141-142.
In his essay, Abstract Levels of Ritual in the Gathas of Zarathushtra,
Insler advances the idea that in the Gathas, "milk" (which comes from
the cow -- the good vision) is not only a reference to the milk used in the
ritual of worship, but is a metaphoric reference to good thinking.
As such, it not only fits well with the central idea in Yasna 29 but this
interpretation of the metaphoric use of milk (good thinking) and cow (the
good vision) fits well with other instances of ancient Persian usage. For
example, it is "milk" [good thinking?] on which Zarathushtra was
nourished when he was working out his theological ideas. In the
Shahnameh, it is the "milk" [good thinking?] from a very special cow [the
good vision?] which nourishes Faridun while he is raised to manhood. If
Faridun's adversary, Zohak, is the embodiment of evil, it is again
interesting that it is a cow-headed mace [the rule of truth and good
thinking -- the good vision?] with which Faridun slays Zohak [evil]. And
in certain Sassanian and post-Sassanian pictures, Zarathushtra also is
shown carrying a cow-headed mace, warranting the inference that the
weapon with which he destroys evil is the good vision, the vision of a
world governed by truth and good thinking.
Finally, there are a number of verses which do not fit contextually with a
translation of gao- as "world" rather than as the metaphoric "cow" --

good vision. For example, look at Yasna 48.6 (below) and make the
following comparison, using first the metaphoric cow -- "good vision"
and then the word "world", and see what you think.
"For she [the good vision] shall bring peace to us, she shall grant to
us the enduring and esteemed strength of good thinking. And the
Wise One shall increase the plants [perhaps those individuals who
have reached perfection or completeness --haurvatat and therefore
nourish the good vision] for her [the good vision] through
truth..." (Y48.6)
This sense of the verse clearly is a restatement of what Zarathushtra
says in Y29.10 without metaphor. Now take a look at the same verse,
with the key word interpreted as "world" instead of as the metaphoric
"cow" -- good vision:
"For she [the world] shall bring peace to us, she [the world] shall
grant to us the enduring and esteemed strength of good thinking.
And the Wise One shall increase the plants for her [the
world] through truth,..."
It doesn't fit.
I believe the corroborative evidence, both in the Gathas, and in ancient
Persian usage is too remarkable to dismiss as coincidence. In my view
it warrants the conclusion that Zarathushtra intended to use the material
imagery of the cow to represent the good vision.
Why did Zarathushtra pick the metaphor "cow" to represent the good
vision? I do not know. I speculate that it may have been because in
Zarathushtra's world the cow was a source of material well-being, which
corresponds to the fact that the good vision is the source of mental or
spiritual well-being -- bringing peace and happiness (mental qualities)
which in turn improve the quality of life in this world (the material world) - another example of the seamless, complementary quality and
craftsmanship of Zarathushtra's poetic and intellectual skills. Truly a
master craftsman and a man of wisdom. Had he lived today, he
doubtless would have picked another set of metaphors which would
have been more meaningful to us. But the metaphors he picked were
meaningful to the people of his day.

3. The benevolent spirit (spenta mainyu) is not mentioned by name in this


Yasna. Rather, it is referred to as the "fashioner of the cow [good
vision]" but other verses in the Gathas identify the fashioner of the cow
[good vision] as the benevolent spirit (spenta mainyu), for example:
"Thou art the virtuous Father of this spirit, the spirit who fashioned
the joy-bringing cow [good vision] for this world...."(Y47.3).
"Thou, Wise One, who hast fashioned the cow [good vision] ... by
reason of Thy most virtuous spirit,..." (Y51.7).

4.
5.
6.

7.
8.
9.

"...Thy most virtuous spirit, Wise One, by reason of which Thou


didst create the wondrous powers of good thinking allied with
truth." (Y43.2).
See Insler, The Gathas of Zarathushtra, pages 134 to 141 for a
discussion of the order of the verses in this hymn.
Ibid., page 29, footnote 6.
" 'Where are truth and good thinking and where their rule? Yes,
come ye now to me. .... Lord, (come) now to us down here in
consequence of our gift for you.' " (Y29.11).
Insler, The Gathas of Zarathushtra, page 27, footnote 11.
Ibid., at page 144.
Ibid., at page 139.

Editor's Note: Where Do You Go From


Here?
Where do you want to go? In these materials, we have introduced you to a
few of the highlights of Zarathushtra's ideas -- enough to provide you with a
basic understanding of his ideas for living and relating to God in a meaningful
way, if that is your choice.

We have also attempted to provide you with some glimpses of Zarathushtra's


deep philosophical insights and the skillful ways in which he conveys his
thoughts. If this taste has stimulated your curiosity, you may wish to study
further. It would be presumptuous of me to tell you how. Each person must do
it in a way that best suits his or her own temperament. If it is helpful, I can
leave you with a few suggestions.
Not knowing the Gathic language, I started with the most philologically up to
date and accurate translation that I could find, and compared it with as many
others as I could get. I found the differences in the translations frustrating.
There is no one "authoritative" translation. You have to decide for yourself
which translation you have the most confidence in. For me, it was and is
Insler's. I am grateful that Professor Insler opted for precision and accuracy
over a poetic (and therefore interpretive) rendering. His translation is not in
poetic form, and therefore does not bring out the full poetic rhythm and beauty
of Zarathushtra's original songs. But it has two even greater advantages, in
my opinion. (1) It represents the state of the art in terms of our knowledge of
the Gathic language, and (2) it is a literal translation (mostly), supplemented
with insightful footnotes and explanations which are carefully kept separate
from the translation itself, but which add greatly to understanding.
When you read an interpretive translation, you read the Gathas through the
perceptions of the interpreter, and you are limited to his horizons. With a literal
translation, you have a chance to glimpse Zarathushtra's own thinking,
unfiltered for the most part (although the English language itself is something
of a perception molding filter).
When I first read the Gathas, I did not like them at all. The ideas seemed trite.
The language seemed tortuous. The imagery was a turn-off. This, I thought, is
not for me. But then I reflected that so many great thinkers down through the
centuries -- from the ancient Greeks to professors in our finest universities -have considered Zarathushtra to be extraordinarily wise.
Obviously, I was missing something.
Obsessed with a desire to understand them, I tackled their analysis in the only
way I knew how -- the way one analyzes a legal statute -- word by word and
phrase by phrase (the micro view). That's when the lights started turning on.
But even more interesting was the fact that once I became thoroughly familiar
with the Gathas (in literal translation) I started to see correlations of themes
and ideas scattered throughout the verses (the macro view) -- each

correlation leading to an exciting discovery of conclusions and perceptions,


which in turn threw new light on the way in which Zarathushtra used individual
words (back to the micro view), all of which showed an over-all system of
thoughts and ideas which are astonishingly relevant and meaningful to life
today. I was hooked.
By way of an added dividend, once I became very familiar with the Insler
translation, the music of the language came through. And today, I dip into its
melodies every chance I get. They never fail to delight and enchant. And to
this day, when I study the Gathas (in literal translation) I discover new
dimensions of thought and the skillful craftsmanship with which Zarathushtra
conveys them. They are truly an inexhaustible treasure-house of truth and
good thinking. Here are a few suggestions which may be of help in your
studies. I start out by asking the benevolent spirit of the Wise Lord (spenta
mainyu) to attend with good thinking.
1. Study the Gathas often, but only a few verses at a time. The verses are
highly compacted. They cannot be read like a novel. You may find large
chunks indigestible at first.
2. Use the micro/macro approach. Start out studying the verses with a
micro view -- in detail -- focusing on each word and phrase as a unit of
study. Jot your ideas down in pencil (so that they are erasible) in the
margins. This will help you to remember your insights so you can build
on them as you re-read the verses, and will also help you to locate
verses when next you want to find them. Once you are familiar with the
verses in micro view, step back and take a macro view -- look for
correlations of ideas and themes (e.g. Zarathushtra's idea of "reward";
his treatment and descriptions of spenta mainyuand the cardinal values
of truth and good thinking (now personified, now abstract, now in God,
now in man et cetera); his ideas of the worlds of mind and matter and
how he uses metaphor; his ideas of worship and prayer; of the nature of
evil; of how evil is defeated; of how God supports and protects; of
judgment, and who does the judging; and 1,001 other fascinating
themes and ideas). Use this new insight to adjust your understanding of
what meaning Zarathushtra ascribes to individual words (back to the
micro view), and re-read the verses with fresh eyes and your new
understanding. Take off the spectacles of pre-conceived thought. The
verses will start to come alive.
3. Read with a friendly but questioning mind -- not with passive
acceptance, and not with skeptical hostility either. When something
puzzles you, set it on the back burner and go on, but let your mind play

4.

5.

6.

7.

over the puzzles and questions. Sooner or later (with me, usually later)
as your knowledge and insight increase, the odd bits and pieces will fall
into place. The Gathas are a bit like putting together a jig-saw puzzle
without a picture. They are also a bit like eating peanuts. Once you get
started.......
Read and listen to other people's discoveries and perceptions --again,
with a friendly but questioning mind (do not passively accept other
views), take care to make sure that they are based on the Gathas, and
not on make-believe or fantasy or unsubstantiated speculation. There
are many translations and interpretations flying around that are more
fiction than fact. But the insights of other knowledgeable students of the
Gathas are bound to increase your own understanding -- just as yours
might be helpful to them.
Most of the deeper meanings of the Gathas are arrived at by inference.
If you arrive at a conclusion -- however exciting -- do not immediately
cast it in stone. Look for corroboration of your conclusion in other verses.
If your conclusion is corroborated elsewhere in the Gathas, you are
probably on the right track. If not, do not necessarily discard it, but keep
an open mind. You may need to re-think or refine it. Accept the fact that
you will constantly be re-thinking and refining your early conclusions.
Invariably, as you gain more understanding, your early conclusions will
need adjustments.
Become aware of Zarathushtra's poetic style (e.g. the way he often
addresses the same or related ideas in the first and last verses of a
Yasna). His ideas and his poetic craftsmanship are often closely related.
Knowledge of the one may be an aid to understanding and discovering
the other, and in any event, will add greatly to the enjoyment of your
discoveries.
Become aware of the many complementary ideas scattered throughout
the Gathas and the kaleidoscopic way in which Zarathushtra uses them
to convey his thoughts. Once you catch on to them, you will find the
discovery of each new complement a source of astonishing validity and
great delight.

If you look closely at the patterns of leaves and flowers in a Persian rug, you
will see that each leaf, and each petal, contains not one or two but several
colors. Each is a complete design in itself and is also an integral and beautiful
part of the richly colored, intricate, over-all design.

The verses of the Gathas are like that also. Each is a well-crafted entity,
packed full of ideas, and is also an integral part of an over-all, richly colored,
intricate design.
Come to think of it, each life force is a bit like that also -- a richly variegated
entity, yet an integral part of one beautiful, over-all design.
In the final analysis, your study of the Gathas will become more interesting
and pleasurable as you translate its ideas into your lifestyle -- the final,
creative challenge.
So join our ancient fraternity and experience the excitement of becoming a
part of the eternal quest for truth.
Dina G. McIntyre
The Editor.

Thanks & Acknowledgments.

This twelve lesson course on the Gathas is now at an end. And it is time to
acknowledge, with gratitude, the contributions of the many people who have
made it a success.
My thanks to those generous souls who took time and trouble from their busy
schedules to write essays for these lessons. My thanks also to Sam Tata and
to all the others who supplied the photographs for Your Verdict -- all without
copyright licensing fees. Without such broad-based support, knowledge and
effort, this venture would not have been as enlightening and successful as it
has turned out to be. I can do no better than to express my gratitude in
Zarathushtra's own words.
"May that [one] reach what is better than good, namely, the one who
would instruct us to the straight paths of the Mighty One ..." (Y43.3).

My thanks to my husband, Richard S. McIntyre. Although he has no interest


whatsoever in the Gathas, he not only helped to fund this venture, but put up
with some frightful meals, and took on added responsibilities at the office and
at home, to free my time to work on this project. He first taught me the validity
of Zarathushtra's advice to brides and grooms:
"...Let each of you try to win the other with truth [and right], and you will
both be winners." (Y53.5) (McIntyre paraphrase of the Insler translation).
My thanks to Professor Stanley Insler whose magnificent translation and
insightful explanations first got me hooked on the Gathas. In addition to the
essays which he contributed to this venture, I am grateful for his wise and
friendly counsel which I so frequently requested for my Editor's Notes and
essay. An SOS to Professor Insler never went unanswered. We sometimes
have disagreed on matters of interpretation, but in the spirit of the Gathas, he
never grudged me the right to think for myself.
My thanks to Professor K.D. Irani and his gutsy wife, my friend Piroja. His
diplomatic and kindly spirit helped polish some of the rough edges of my
editorial inexperience. And Piroja's blunt and delightful, if unofficial, input was
a source of great pleasure.
My thanks to all those who contributed letters. Your contributions added flavor
and interest to this venture, and made it truly a community project. My thanks
also for the many personal letters I received expressing appreciation and
encouragement. Your kind words and enthusiasm were a great support.
A few letters received, which were not in keeping with the Editorial policy of
these materials, were not printed. That policy precluded printing letters which
were not related to Gathic ideas and did not maintain a friendly forum for
discussion. No letter was rejected because it contained views with which the
Editor did not agree, so long as it was otherwise consistent with the Editorial
policy.
My thanks to the many warm-hearted and generous souls whose unsolicited
cash contributions helped to defray the costs of printing and postage. This
project mushroomed to proportions far beyond anything I ever expected, and
your spontaneous generosity made it possible for me to cope with the
increased demand. Unlike the essay and letter writers, your contributions
have never been acknowledged by name. I therefore do so now, except
where anonymity has been requested.

Anonymous, Canada
Anonymous, Canada
Anonymous, Germany
Anonymous, UK, in honor of Mrs. Homai Bode
Anonymous, USA
Anonymous, USA
Anonymous,
Khashayar Anoosheh, CA
Perin & Yezdi Antia, Ontario
Mehru & Lovji Cama, NJ
Jeroo & Darius Captain, CA
Jilloo & Shahpur Captain, UK
Adi Chinoy, Quebec
Huty & Farhad Contractor, PA
Porus Cooper, NJ
Naju & Furrokh Dastur, CA
Manijeh & Behram Deboo, WA
Najoo & Maneck Daroowalla, NY
Parvin Dehghanian, VA
Kamal & Cawas Desai, PA
Soonoo Engineer, BC
Farida & Parvez Guzdar, MD
Marion & Noshir Hormuzdiar CT
Jimmy Hormuzdiar, CT
Hutoxi & Pallan Ichaporia, PA
Bapsy & Dariush Irani, CA
Piroja & K.D. Irani, NY
Mr & Mrs Shapur K. Irani, IN
Mahin & Daryoush Jahanian, KS
Mr & Mrs Nozer Kotwal, Ontario,
Shirinbanoo Kutar, UK
Shahrad Lohrasb, CA
Rabe Eh Mahooti, OR
Dina & Dick McIntyre, PA
Marjorie & Jehangir Medora, Ontario
Gool & Shahrokh Mehta, NY
Esmat & Abolhassan Moaddel, Ontario,
Mr & Mrs K. Mobed, IL
Phiroza & Satish Modi, NY
Sorab K. Modi, DC
Gooloo & Jehangir Morris, PA

Pervin J. Mistry, Ontario,


Sylvia & Kawus Nanavati, Ontario
Lien & Rustom Patel, Ottawa
Drs. N & P Poonawalla, Germany,
Roshan & Rohinton Rivetna, IL
Mr & Mrs A. Sassanfar, France
Rumi Sethna, UK
Vida Sohrab, VA
Mehrbanou & Mehrborzin Soroushian NJ
Spitaman Tata, IL
Mr & Mrs M. Treasurywala, Ontario
Shahrokh Vafadari, UK
Ratansha B. Vakil, MI
Dovlat & Feridoon Varjavand, CA
Susan & Parviz Varjavand, CA
Gladys & Rustom Wadia, NY
Zarine & Richard Weil, IL
Mr. & Mrs. Mehraban Zartoshty, BC
Faridoon Zartoshty, BC
Paridokht & Jamshid Zartoshty, MA
Zoroastrian Assn of Metropolitan Washington (DC)

Finally, my thanks to the readers -- all 586+ + + of you. Your extraordinary


response and interest in these materials [which continues to this day almost
10 years later] is clear proof of the fact that the quest for truth with good
thinking is alive and well.
In closing, I can do no better than to wish you the best in Zarathushtra's own
words:

"...I wish for these persons the best of all things,...


to be understanding all their days...
understanding
through Thy most [benevolent] spirit,
Wise One,
by reason of which Thou didst create
the wondrous powers of
good thinking allied with truth."
(Y43.2).