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The Holy Gâthâs of Zaraθuštra Spitâma

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    Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
    Kristan Stratos
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    The Holy Gâthâs of the Aryan Master, Zaraθuštra Spitâma (Zarathustra), are sacred hymns devoted to the fundamental practices of self-transformation generally through the basic formula of Manashni gavashni kunashni – good thoughts, good words, good deeds- through the understanding the fundamental principles and teachings of the Mystery School, or Occultism.  The Gâthâs are generally believed to be the oldest existing writings within the Mazdian Tradition, said to be composed and written by Zaraθuštra himself.  According to Occult history, there were such 14 Zoroasters, one of which Aristotle wrote of, was ascribed a date of BC 9600- which was only the 7th Zoroaster belonging to the Original Zaraθuštra Linage.   The five Gâthâs, or the sacred songs fall under the following names;

    Ahunavaiti (chapters 28-34); 100 verses
    Ushtavaiti (chapters 43-46); 66 verses
    Spentamainyush  (chapters 47-50); 41 verses
    Vohukhshathra (chapter 51); 22 verses
    Vahishtoishti Gatha (chapter 53); 9 verses

    Total of 6000 words, 1300 lines, 238 verses.

    The general purpose of the Gâthâs, along with any other sacred text, is to ultimately reach absolute perfection and harmony in order to contribute the worlds progress to a state of perfection, equilibrium, and balance.  However, it must be stressed that this is only a vague generality.  Within the Gâthâs, Zaraθuštra explains the highest philosophy of the Eternal and Divine Tradition by means of fully living a purposeful life in accordance with the Laws of Nature. Universal Law is of fundamental importance within the Gâthâs, however,  reincarnation is not explicitly pronounced throughout, yet can be understood in a few strophes within the sacred 238 verses.

    There have been some scholars and Parsees, who have stressed the importance of astronomy in relation to understanding the esoteric importance connected with this scripture.  However, far too detailed these observations are, one must understand the very fine language of the Gâthâs and take note of the complexed and unique language which often results with translations falling far from desired mystical understandings. Each student for themselves must come to a deeper intuitive understanding, which is reminiscent to that of the Islamic Mystics, the Sūfī.  A passing quotation that may provide some insight into the history of the texts and philosophy, reads;

    The Avestâ, as we now have it, is therefore the remains of a compilation made during many centuries which had been destroyed and scattered under the Macedonian rulers and partially collected again in a more or less corrupted form in the third century.   The Gâthâs, or hymns and the older Yasna are the most genuine.”

    The philosophy of the Gathas are the highest and original teachings of Zaraθuštra.  According to HPB, “Zoroastrian Esotericism is identical with that of the Secret Doctrine” <SD.II.356>.  Thus one may suspect that any attempt which is not exhaustive, will be more of a determent rather than an aid for general understanding.  Taking into account the current state of this Ancient Occult Tradition, now fallen into its most materialistic form, Zoroastrianism remains one of the smallest practiced religio-philosophical traditions of the day. Worldwide, according to some recent polls there are 190,000 Zoroastrians at most, and perhaps as few as 124,000 as another source adds.  HP Blavatsky, writes a few number of articles regarding the Zoroastrianism philosophy in the light of the Occultism. Speaking of this, she states;

    His religion is not dead yet; and under the lifeless mask of modern Zoroastrianism the pulse of the Magi of old still beats.”

    From the same source, quoting a Zend scholar, J. Darmesteter, HPB writes;

    “…<J. Darmesteter> thinks, that “Herodotus may have heard the Magi sing, in the fifth century B.C. the very same Gâthâs which are sung nowadays by the Mobeds in Bombay,” but it is most unlikely that, sung as they are now, they are anything better than the “shells” of the old Gâthâs, the animating spirit having fled from them, never to return unless forcibly recalled by the resurrecting potentiality of the “Occult Sciences.

    Leaving aside the metaphysical and in-depth philosophical teachings- though very important- one cannot elaborate with due justice in this small overview.   Some further information may be show that within the Sacred Hymns no mention of ritualistic forms of worship is spoken of.  Conduct and moral motives alone have the highest importance according to the Aryan Adept, as with each strophe of the Gâthâs is addressed to the Divinity, Ahurâ Mazdâ- the divine essence of Immortal and Eternal Truth, as is described by some writers upon this subject.  Zaraθuštra speaks of ones commitment to the way and Truth through the Gâthâs by way of understanding the duality of the Manifested Cosmos- a Field- which in a conflict occurs between two diametrically opposed Forces, or Twin Spirits; Angra and Spenta Mainyu.  Each is the “personification” of spiritual, mental and psychological conditions.  Thus Zaraθuštra mentions a crucial teaching that one ought to refine the mind by the loftiest of moral, ethical, and devotional practices as to invoke the influence of Asâ- or Ultimate Truth, Dharma, or Righteousness- which establishes Universal Law within the individual.  Thus, as all great Spiritual Reformers say, by being the Way, Truth and Life- Divine Inspiration begets Divine action in word and deed- spoken of as Spənta Ārmaiti (Piety and Divine Devotion).  There are fundamental connections- going far beyond any room in this introduction- with the sacred teachings of Mithra (Mercury; Haurvata) and Ameretat (Venus).  Both require deep study into HPB’s Secret Doctrine.

    The goal of the Gâthic teachings, though generally stating, is to transform, unify, and establish harmony in the microcosm which will contribute to the expansion of harmony in the macrocosm.  In a world afflicted with suffering, imperfection, and inequity, one must ultimately sacrifice oneself (personality) to Truth, Righteousness, ETERNAL LAW in order to selflessly execute deeds of high moral stature and devotional piety- thus manifesting what is called “Khshathra Vairya”- the Ideal Condition of Harmony, Justice, and Equilibrium.  The establishment of the Impersonal Law, unerring and Just.  So progressive thinking and self-sacrifice is fundamental for such study and to live such life of Occultism- the science of divine moral ethics- the Science of Theosophia of the Aryan Master, Zaraθuštra Spitâma.

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The Holy Gâthâs of Zaraθuštra Spitâma

  • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
    Kristan Stratos
    Moderator
    Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

    Gâθâ Ahunavaiti I. Yasna 29.1

    Avesta text;
    1
    xshmaibyâ gêush urvâ gerezhdâ, kahmâi mâ thwarôzhdûm kê-mâ tashat, â-mâ aêshemô hazascâ remô âhishâyâ dereshcâ tevishcâ, nôit môi vâstâ xshmat anyô athâ môi sãstâ vohû vâstryâ.
    2
    adâ tashâ gêush peresat ashem kathâ tôi gavôi ratush hyat hîm dâtâ xshayañtô hadâ vâstrâ gaodâyô thwaxshô, kêm hôi ushtâ ahurem ýê dregvôdebîsh aêshemem vâdâyôit.
    3
    ahmâi ashâ nôit sarejâ advaêshô gavôi paitî-mravat avaêshãm nôit vîduyê ýâ shavaitê âdrêñg ereshvånghô, hâtãm hvô aojishtô ýahmâi zavêñg jimâ keredushâ.
    4
    mazdå sahvârê mairishtô ýâ-zî vâverezôi pairî-cithît daêvâishcâ mashyâishcâ ýâcâ vareshaitê aipî-cithît, hvô vîcirô ahurô athâ-nê anghat ýathâ hvô vasat.
    5
    at vâ ustânâish ahvâ zastâish frînemnâ ahurâi â mê urvâ gêushcâ azyå hyat mazdãm dvaidî ferasâbyô nôit erezhejyôi frajyâitish nôit fshuyeñtê dregvasû pairî.
    —–
    Ardeshir Framji Khabardar- translator;

    1. The spirit of the Earth complained unto You both: “Why have you put me into motion? Who created me? Lust, force, insolence and violence have fettered me all around; without you there is no other support for me: so direct me through some Divine Protector!

    2. Thereupon the Creator of Earth asked Asa: “What-like is the Prophet for thy Earth, so that You, rulers as well as enlighteners, would give her world-forstering vigor? Whom do you wish to be her Lord who would repel lust together with the ignorant babblers?

    3. Unto this He (Asa) with Righteousness, (which is) unharmful and without malice, replied unto Earth: “Of those (people on earth) not one is worth knowing through whom the Righteous awaken the weak-minded; who himself is the strongest of human beings for whom we may go with swift action to support his commands.

    4. Holy Mazdâ is the Ocean of Bliss, which indeed has been all round kept afar by the Devas and the Masakyas and which will be hereafter kept afar all round: Ahurâ Himself is The Judge: as He Himself would will, so let it happen.

    5. Then, verily, with uplifted hands, let us both be praying unto Ahurâ- my soul as well as of humble Earth, and thus we beseech Mazdâ for deliverance: let there not be any oppression to the Righteous One, nor ever to the Enlightener (The Prophet) amongst ignorant babblers all round!

    Dr. Irach J.S. Taraporewalla- translator;

    1. Unto You the Soul of Mother Earth complained: “Wherefore did You create me? Who fashioned [me]? all-round do Passion and rapine (and) [violence] enmesh-completely, and outrage and aggression; for me (there is) no Protector other than You, reveal, therefore, to me (a way out) through an efficient Savior.”

    2. Thereupon the Creator of Mother-Earth asked Asâ: “Of what sort (is) thy Savior for (this) Earth, so-that ye-may-be-able to offer her besides protection (also) fostering zeal? Whom do-ye-desire (as) Her Lord, who shall-repel Passion with-all-the-hosts-of-Untruth?”

    3. Unto Him Asâ, (who) doth no disunite (and is) non-inimical to (all) Creation, made reply; “Of-those-yonder not-(one) is-known, by whom the righteous might-be-arrayed against the wicked; of mortals (must) he-indeed (be) the strongest unto whose call we-may-respond with haste.”

    4. Mazdâ best bears in mind (all) prayers, which verily have been made (to Him) even-in-the-far-off-past by Daêvas and by mortals as-well, as-also (those) which shall-be-made (to Him) even in the remote hereafter; Ahurâ (is) the Sole Judge, so let-happen unto us whatever He-alone doth-ordain.

    5. Therefore, verily, with uplifted hearts (and) hands (outstretched) invoking-the-grace of Ahurâ, my Soul and (that) of the pregnant Mother-Earth thus address Mazdâ for (granting our) request; “Never (shall) harm (come) unto-the-righteous-living, nor unto (our) Shepherd (even though) among the wicked.”

    • Profile photo of Jon Fergus
      Jon Fergus
      Moderator
      Profile photo of Jon FergusJon Fergus

      I’m curious about the role of the “savior” in the Mazdian tradition. These verses start off with a strong focus on that idea, and we know that the exoteric religions of the middle east have also placed large emphasis on the role of a savior.
      The terminology here is also interesting, between the two translations. In the final verse we have the term “shepherd” (which to our western ears will likely remind us of Christian symbolism), while in the other translation the term “enlightener” is used. We find the term “prophet” used (which will surely remind us of Islamic teachings), and savior in the other translation.

      Is this a call for the student to seek for a teacher/master outwardly, or perhaps a call to make ourselves “righteous” so as to be that savior?

      Does the same symbolism occur here as, for instance, in the Bhagavad Gita, where we have a “savior” (or master, teacher, guide) who is both an outward historical persona and also symbolically the higher self?

      • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
        Kristan Stratos
        Moderator
        Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

        Hello Jon-

        “Is this a call for the student to seek for a teacher/master outwardly, or perhaps a call to make ourselves “righteous” so as to be that savior?…where we have a “savior” (or master, teacher, guide) who is both an outward historical persona and also symbolically the higher self?”

        I think its all of the above. In history, as we see through worlds religions evidence of Prophets- some more apparent and validated than others- which to me are a vital importance regarding a) prophetic heritage of humanity, and b) prophetic heritage of an individual. It becomes increasingly difficult to separate the individual from humanity… if the individual is called to seek out the Prophet, the Master, and the Savior- one can assume it is a “private” obligation on behalf of that individuals advancement. However, here in this strophe, the Soul of the Earth is crying out for the Prophet and Savior- thus we can only make a connection by matter of degree.

        The Earth may be seen as a symbol to represent a collective totality of life- i.e., various forms of beings inhabiting various grades of intelligence. The numerous beings and intelligences qualify a totality of existing- ‘cosom. Hence, Earth may be the macrocosm, and the life on earth the microcosm. Just with us, the Soul within is often imprisoned by form and harassed by the metaphorical inmates, thus the longing for freedom, righteousness, and (prophetic) guidance.

        One may look at the Prophets symbolically, or for what They actually are. If the student seeks, we can rest assured that the collective of humanity seeks as well.

  • Profile photo of Gerry Kiffe
    Gerry Kiffe
    Moderator
    Profile photo of Gerry KiffeGerry Kiffe

    So the first Gatha pertains to the beginnings of Earth and life on earth? What is Mazda? Are there modern followers of the tradition? What part of the world was Zoroastrianism strong?

    • Profile photo of Garo Ketchian
      Garo Ketchian
      Participant
      Profile photo of Garo KetchianGaro Ketchian

      The Holy Gâthâs seem to address the eternal light and dark ways of the world, and to awaken the need for mans responsibility to perform good thoughts, good words, good deeds so as to put the world on the right course.

      Certainly the Magi had great knowledge as Pythagoras is known to have studied and was initiated in their sacred teachings after being initiated with the Egyptians.

      May years ago I was given a clue from an old woman of British decent. She told me that King Arthur was the same person as Arjuna the hero of the Bhagavad-gita. Certainly the names are similar, but there is more.

      Briton is famous for the ruins of Stonehenge, and for the legend of King Arthur. Stonehenge is sacred to the Druids. The modern day Druids claim that their ancestors came from an area near Turkey.

      The ruins of Carahunge are located approximately 140 miles southeast of Yerevan the capital of Armenia. “The Armenian Stonehenge” (7,500 years old), sits a high plateau with over 200 ancient stones. Some of the stones weigh over 50 tons and they stretch for 1/3 of a mile. “The Armenian Stonehenge” is also known in Armenian as Zorats Karer (Zoroasters stones?) It is estimated to be 7,500 years old and predates the British Stonehenge by more than 4,500 years. This astronomical site is made of 203 slabs of basalt.

      At the center of Carahunge stands the stone circle, or henge. There are 85 stones with small holes in them pointing at different angles to the stars in the night sky and to the horizon. It is believed to be the oldest observatory on the planet. The outline of these stones clearly corresponds to the constellation Cygnus or “The Swan” or “The Vulture”. Oxford professor and geographer, Nicholas Howorth, believes with certainty that Carahunge connects man and his life on earth to the heavens above.

    • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
      Kristan Stratos
      Moderator
      Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

      As Garo mentioned, this tradition hails from Iran (or Ancient Persia; land of the Aryans according to some), only in language, never in Eternal Truth which knows no isolated region. There are pockets of Zoroastrians still presently active, though apparently not many.

      It is difficult to limit the first Gâthâ, and the first 5 stanzas of it to Earth. With some explanations and perhaps the research of other students, the first 5 stanzas may start to be understood deeper. I will address few crucial points to hopefully attract others to start this study;

      Mazdâ- (sk- Medhâ, Pah- dânâk, middle Iranian- dâ ‘to know’ Mod. Persian- dânesh).

      J.S. Taraporewalla writes the following note;
      “… I think that the original form of the name is Maz-dâ and that the original meaning is ‘Creator (from verb dâ- sanskrit Dhâ- to create) of the Great (material universe).’ In the Veda as also in later sanskrit the word mah and mahat are well known as signifying ‘the original substance’ out of which the universe was created. So Mazdâ should be understood to be the Lord of (material) Creation, in contrast with His other aspect as Ahurâ, the Lord of Life.”

      So, we see the mention of Mahat (matter), and the Lord of Life (spirit)…

      But what is far more interesting is the very first line;

      xshmaibyâ gêush urvâ gerezhdâ
      “The spirit of the Earth complained unto You both.”
      “Unto You the Soul of Mother Earth complained”

      Immediately we see two opinions regarding a single word; xshmaibyâ ‘Yous.’ One as being dual and the other plural. It isn’t a minor detail, it is quite important. Both translators agree that there are at the least, two beings of which the Soul of Earth- gêush urvâ – the Ox Soul- (see rikveda viii.101.5-6) addresses in pain through prayer.

      Notice here, it is the Soul of the Earth, not physical earth but the Urvâ- one of the 5 principles of man. It apparently is “after” the Fravasi, or the Eternal Divine Spark. It is suggesting the principle of discrimination i.e., the principle that inherently knows right and wrong and has the ability to choose as per discriminative ability. The Vaidic word is vrâNâ (व्राणा- the preserving waters rk. 1.61.10). Uru (उरु) also is connected with this word meaning; wide, broad, spacious, extended, great, large, much, excessive, excellent. Also OOrva (ऊर्व)- manes or departed soul.

      Note on xshmaibyâ (You both/all)-

      A.F. Khabardar says; that this is strictly dual- meaning the prayers from the Soul of Earth (Soul of Kine) is directed to Ahurâmazdâ (as One Fundamental Principle; asura medha).”

      “… Mazda is always feminine gender. The Mother_Matter, Mazdâ give birth to the manifestation of the Universe. Ahurâ being the Law-Giver and Judge of the Universe… Nothing in the Universe is without duality.”

      J.S. Taraporewalla says; “…The plural indicates that all Seven, Ahurâ Mazdâ, and the Six Amesa-Spentas (Holy Immortals) are meant.”

      This last comment then points to esoteric astrology and the deep relation to the Intelligences operating within a fleshy confinement.

      I think just within this first line, not even the entire strophe, much study can be done. If those find the language difficult, one may see the exact account found in the Bhagavatapuranam 10.1.17-18.

      • Profile photo of Gerry Kiffe
        Gerry Kiffe
        Moderator
        Profile photo of Gerry KiffeGerry Kiffe

        Is the duality broken down more along the lines of Male and Female or Matter and Spirit?

        • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
          Kristan Stratos
          Moderator
          Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

          In general, or just in this case?

          It appears that the Gâthâs, masculine and feminine designations are used in specific cases like the above example, however, there isn’t a concept known to any mind without the sense of duality, which appears to be a very large part of the Gâthâs.

      • Profile photo of Ramprakash ML
        Ramprakash ML
        Participant
        Profile photo of Ramprakash MLRamprakash ML

        One of the axioms of the First fundamental proposition of Theosophy is that the manifested universe is pervaded by duality — One Life, dual in manifestation.

        It is logical and self-evident that without the pairs of opposites–light and darkness, good and evil etc.– there can be no existence nor can there be any evolution. Dualism of the Gathas is quite scientific.

        Spirit of the earth complaining to Ahura Mazda is a recurring theme in the Puranas. Kristan quoted from Bhagavata Purana. The same theme recurs in Vishnu Purana, where the Earth, unable to bear any longer the inequities perpetrated by the wicked prays to Brahmaa, who is Ahura Mazda in the Gathas. In Vishnu Purana, Brahmaa (Manifested or III Logos) directs her to Maha Vishnu, who alone can re-establish the disturbed harmony by descending on earth (Avatara meaning descent, Avatarana)

        Maha Vishnu is here the Ideal Cause, Brahmaa, the creative Cause.

  • Profile photo of Garo Ketchian
    Garo Ketchian
    Participant
    Profile photo of Garo KetchianGaro Ketchian

    Mazda refers to ancient Persians who were followers of Zoroaster. They were few in number during the life of HPB, and there are probably fewer now. They were strong in ancient Persia and the city of Babylon. The map of Persia has greatly changed through history. Babylon is the most famous city from ancient Mesopotamia whose ruins lie in modern-day Iraq 59 miles (94 kilometres) southwest of Baghdad. The name is thought to derive from bav-il or bav-ilim which, in the Akkadian language of the time, meant ‘Gate of God’ or ‘Gate of the Gods’ and`Babylon’ coming from Greek.

  • Profile photo of Alex Papandakis
    Alex Papandakis
    Participant
    Profile photo of Alex PapandakisAlex Papandakis

    Concerning the Topic of Reincarnation and the Zoroastrian tradition:

    From this web site: https://authenticgathazoroastrianism.org/2011/04/19/reincarnation-and-the-zoroastrian-beliefs/

    “The subject of reincarnation is a divisive and controversial issue in the Zoroastrian community. The tiny Zoroastrian community is highly educated and westernized. The Parsis or the Zoroastrians of India are the most anglicised community outside the British Isles. Due to their anglicized and western standards a great number of Zoroastrians respond in a typical western fashion toward reincarnation and deny the existence of “a unique form” of reincarnation in the sacred Zoroastrian poetry, literature and ancient doctrine. Only the very orthodox or the esoteric Zoroastrians openly advocate reincarnation.”

    “Linear time IS NOT an Avestan or Indo-Aryan concept. According to the most ancient sacred poetry of the Zoroastrians or the poetic gathas; Time is conceived of being a PROGRESSION OF CYCLES, not in the sense of going round in a circle for things and events to repeat themselves incessantly, but as a series of CYCLES MOVING FORWARD like the waves on the ocean, moving forward rather than round and round.”

    So perhaps the whole concept of time changes the conversation reincarnation between ancient and modern worlds. Modern Society siding with linear time and ancient civilizations preferring cyclic time.

  • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
    Kristan Stratos
    Moderator
    Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

    I think you quoted a nice source;

    “… Only the very orthodox or the esoteric Zoroastrians openly advocate reincarnation.”

    We should be very careful when we use “orthodox” in the same breath as esoteric. Many orthodox have executed esotericists for the charges of heresy (see: Shahab al-Din Yahya ibn Habash Suhrawardi etc. etc. etc.)

    You also mentioned a great topic, which I am very happy to hear of, Time. This is such an important aspect of some “sects/cults” of Zoroastrian philosophy. See Zurvan by R.C. Zaehner if you can.

    “Thus the seven Primal Builders emanate one from the other and form the Great Circle—the Circle of Everlasting Divinity knowing Its own immortal nature. The Great Dragon of Wisdom, Ahuramazda, biting his own tail, Immortality-Ameretat, remains for ever and ever in limitless Duration, Zrvane Akarne, and periodically casts its shadow, Zrvane Daregho-Khodate—the Circle of Time, the Chakra- Wheel of Periodicity. Zrvane Daregho-Khodate is the eternity of the universe in toto as a boundless plane, periodically the playground of numberless universes ; Zrvane Akarne is the Vibrant Sphere of Duration, boundless and limitless, of which sphere the Zrvane Daregho- Khodate is the plane-circle. The Cycle in motion is the emanation of the Sphere which is Motionlessness—such is the Zoroastrian mode of expression about the Absolute and the Great Breath.

    Thus we have the root of cycles of differing periods in the concept of Zrvane Daregho- Khodate—Circles of Manifested Time, each of which has a beginning and therefore an end ; this latter is the second of the pair, the first being Zrvane Akarne, “Limitless Time,” which is Duration, beginning less and endless. Every orthodox Parsi in reciting his matin prayers repeats: Zrvane Akarne Yazmaidae, Zrvane Daregho- Khodate Yazmaidae—”Sacrifice of praise unto the boundless Duration, sacrifice of praise unto the sovereign Time of the Great Period.”
    (BP Wadia)

    However, we wont see this in the Gâthâs, but in later texts such as the Pahlavi and once in passing in the Desâtîr.

  • Profile photo of Alex Papandakis
    Alex Papandakis
    Participant
    Profile photo of Alex PapandakisAlex Papandakis

    How many followers of this tradition do researchers believe remain to this day? What was and is the relationship between Zoroastarism and the Muslim Tradition? Both are part of the Persian experience.

    • Profile photo of Garo Ketchian
      Garo Ketchian
      Participant
      Profile photo of Garo KetchianGaro Ketchian

      It is estimated there are between 124,000 to 190,000 followers worldwide. They face many challenges that threaten their identity and survival as a religious community. Zoroastrians are a minority in both India and Iran. This is a very old religion, and maybe as old as the Hindu. The majority of Zoroastrians were driven out of Iran by the Islamic invaders who replaced it with Islam.

      • Profile photo of Ramprakash ML
        Ramprakash ML
        Participant
        Profile photo of Ramprakash MLRamprakash ML

        Garo Ketchian
        January 7, 2017 at 6:18 am #4368
        Mentioned that Zoroastrians were persecuted and driven out of Iran by Islamists. They Came to India, like the Tibetan refugees did recently following Chinese invasion and genocide. When they landed in on the west coast of India, the Indian rulers accorded them warm welcome and gave them land and all the facilities. They are in minority now but enjoy perfect freedom, and they have contributed mightily to the country is every field–economic, commerce, trade, governance, military.

      • Profile photo of Irfan Rouhani
        Irfan Rouhani
        Blocked
        Profile photo of Irfan RouhaniIrfan Rouhani

        Garo, seems that perhaps that statement might not be entirely accurate in the sense that it implies that history unfolds independently of divine guidance, decree, predestination and reason/logos … which would go against a lot of folks beliefs … who believe in divine reason functioning in and throuhg history and historical events … and don’t just view history like a secular non-theistic historian that sees everything from a purely humanist and materialist pseudo-absolutist point of view.

        • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
          Kristan Stratos
          Moderator
          Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

          Agreed. Matter of fact, we see countless similarities in both traditions (Zoroastrian and Islamic)- to say that one was “replaced” by the other is superficial, and not allowing room for deeper introspection, something that every student must ultimately strive for.

          There is a very important teaching ‘between’ these two traditions, which will speak to the heart only when one puts the effort to look past the tendency to adopt the attitude of the “secular non-theistic historian that sees everything from a purely humanist and materialist pseudo-absolutist point of view.”

          We see many Iranian Mystics, who happen to align themselves equally with both the Islamic and Zoroastrian Esotericism- freely using the Gâthâs and the Qur’an as ultimate authority. There are reasons for this…

          • Profile photo of Irfan Rouhani
            Irfan Rouhani
            Blocked
            Profile photo of Irfan RouhaniIrfan Rouhani

            Yes I’m personally of the view that all these traditions are from same source … says in Qur’an and by many illuminated Spirit-Seers.

        • Profile photo of Tamiko Yamada
          Tamiko Yamada
          Participant
          Profile photo of Tamiko YamadaTamiko Yamada

          Was there any cross-fertilization or merging or blending of the religions? When Buddhism came to Tibet it was merged or blended with indigenous concepts.

          • Profile photo of Garo Ketchian
            Garo Ketchian
            Participant
            Profile photo of Garo KetchianGaro Ketchian

            The secret science comes from the root of things. From the root comes the trunk, after that comes the branches, and finally the leaves. Does the root influence the leaves? It certainly does.

            Newer religions come about not because the old religions need improvement, but because mankind needs to be reminded about the spirit of the old teachings. The new religions start out renewing the spirit of the people, but gradually the spirit fades again.

            Right thought, right words, right action, purity, and universal brotherhood would change our world very quickly for the better.

            • Profile photo of Ramprakash ML
              Ramprakash ML
              Participant
              Profile photo of Ramprakash MLRamprakash ML

              That’s right. No great Teacher ever came to found a new religion but to renew the spirit of the existing religions which have fallen into corruption, like the tree renews its leaves every spring.

              • Profile photo of Irfan Rouhani
                Irfan Rouhani
                Blocked
                Profile photo of Irfan RouhaniIrfan Rouhani

                Ram, in spiritual Islam, we need NOW an illustrious Saintly Personage to help revive that higher esoteric faith and aspect for us … the Hindus had many in the late 19th-Century to now … very many … like Anandamayi Ma and Ramana Maharshi and so many others … now we need one at this critical time … please pray for us that we get one. Thanks.

                • Profile photo of Ramprakash ML
                  Ramprakash ML
                  Participant
                  Profile photo of Ramprakash MLRamprakash ML

                  Irfan,

                  The coming of Wise ones into the world to help mankind, as far as I understand, is in accordance with the cyclic law and Karma of the race. people to whom such come must be ready, and wanting and hungering for Truth. When the cry of the HEART (not mind) is heard in heaven response comes. For instance, it is mentioned by the great Teachers that The Secret Doctrine, which They recorded for the world of 19th-21st century, is dedicated to all true Theosophists, in every country, and every race, FOR THEY CALLED IT FORTH, AND FOR THEM IT WAS RECORDED.

                  In the Key to Theosophy HPB states (in the sub-section, “Why Theosophy is accepted,” in chapter II, entitled, “Exoteric and Esoteric Theosophy) the reason Theosophy came to be put forward at that time :

                  “Just because the time was found ripe, which fact is shown by the determined effort of so many earnest students to REACH THE TRUTH, at whatever cost and wherever it may be concealed. Seeing this, its custodians permitted that some portions at least of that truth should be proclaimed.”

                  The timing of giving out help is again Karmically very appropriate, not too early, nor too late : She goes on to say,

                  “Had the formation of the Theosophical Society been postponed a few years longer, one half of the civilized nations would have become by this time rank materialists, and the other half anthropomorphists and phenomenalists.”

                  It was an unveiling of old, very old, truths to the minds hitherto ignorant of them.

                  Condition of the world bad as it is, it would have been far worse but for the unremitting sacrificial labours of the Wise Ones who are ever at work for the good of the world, but They are also governed by the Cyclic and Karmic Law.

                  How much more, and how soon, further teachings and help will be given by them, they say, depends on how well what has been given out has been assimilated, and on the spread of the seminal ideas in the world, by the labours of lay- students of every race and country for whom it is recorded.

                  The earnest and sincere students by their self-regeneration and unselfish labours in the Cause of Theosophy and elevation of the Race, attract corresponding response from the Holy Ones.

              • Profile photo of Gerry Kiffe
                Gerry Kiffe
                Moderator
                Profile photo of Gerry KiffeGerry Kiffe

                What a beautiful and illustrative metaphor. It really bring the point home. New leaves appear on the tree every year but the tree remains. Nature provides the best analogies.

    • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
      Kristan Stratos
      Moderator
      Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

      In the topic summery, it reads;

      “…one must understand the very fine language of the Gâthâs and take note of the complexed and unique language which often results with translations falling far from desired mystical understandings. Each student for themselves must come to a deeper intuitive understanding, which is reminiscent to that of the Islamic Mystics, the Sūfī.”

      There is a very important connection, at least one that I can detect, between the Persian Esoteric Schools and the Islamic Esotericism (Shi’ite Esotericism). There was a philosopher that I had mentioned earlier, Shahab al-Din Yahya ibn Habash Suhrawardi, who has used both Islamic, Zoroastrian, Grecian, and Hermetic Philosophy (Egypt Schools) in his writings to arrive at Universal Truths. Apparently he was both Zoroastrian and Muslim… He “founded” the Sepassian Order of Sūfīsm, or the Ishraqiyyun Order after his text “Hikmat al-Ishraq.”

      It is my opinion that if one sticks to the conventional understanding of Islam and Zoroastrianism, they will be lost in a maze of confusion, even more so regarding exoteric linage. Truth is, one form replaces another, and the uninitiated defile the words of Adepts/Prophets, therefore what was once high and sacred becomes orthodoxy and staunch. If one studies the esoteric writers of Esoteric Islam (the Sūfī), they will arrive at the same teachings, more or less.

      A bridge exists however, which I believe to be the Desâtîr (and commentary in Dari), a controversial texts, which unites the two schools into the school of Initiation- or the Mystery School. It is widely considered to be a fraud because of the original language- Mahabadian- was said to be “made up, or created.” It has been described as being a mixture of both Arabic, Persian, and Sanskrit (and perhaps by association, Avesta) roots. Going out on a limb, I might assume this “Mahabadian” language is much like the Senzar language- a cypher only understood by Initiates. (I will introduce this text sometime in the future for all to consider).

      • Profile photo of Irfan Rouhani
        Irfan Rouhani
        Blocked
        Profile photo of Irfan RouhaniIrfan Rouhani

        Wow, I have never heard of this Desâtîr, I want to check it out.

        Although I have heard of Majma-ul-Bahrain …

        Your understanding of Esoteric Islam appears quite extensive

      • Profile photo of Samantha Province
        Samantha Province
        Participant
        Profile photo of Samantha ProvinceSamantha Province

        For those interested in pursuing the authenticity of the Desatir further, the scholar Anthony Troyer wrote what is to my mind a really convincing essay on this issue in his and David Shea’s edition of the Dabistan (a related document). It can be read here and so far as I know was never refuted. For whatever reason, western scholarship has been unwilling to revisit this issue and so the Desatir lives in obscurity.

    • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
      Kristan Stratos
      Moderator
      Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

      Actually, it is worth pointing out, that it has been said a Moshan Fání (Muhammad Muhsin), a Muslim, had who compiled The Dabistān-i Mazāhib (Dadestan-i Denig; book of Religious Decisions)- an important text in Zoroastrianism.

      • Profile photo of Garo Ketchian
        Garo Ketchian
        Participant
        Profile photo of Garo KetchianGaro Ketchian

        In a lecture given by H.S. Olcott in Bombat in 1892, The Spirit Of The Zoroastrian Religion, he quotes a paragraph from a Christian priest an archimandrite at Constantinople. Following the priests quote here is Olcott’s rebuttal:

        “I quote this as a sample of the wretched stuff that has always been written against the Zoroastrian religion by its enemies. The above words are simply the dead letter mistranslation of the secret doctrine, of which portions are to be found in certain rare old MSS. possessed by the Armenians at Etchmiadzine, the oldest monastery in Russian Caucasus. They are known as the Mesrobian MSS. Should the Bombay Parsis show any real general interest in the rehabilitation of their religion, I think I may promise them the gratuitous futherance and assistance of Madame Blavatsky, whose friend of thirty-seven years’ standing, the Prince Dondoukoff Korsakoff, has just notified her of his appointment by the Czar as Viceroy of the Caucasus.”

        “In one of these old MSS, then, it is said of the Initiate, or Magus:”

        “He who would penetrate the secrets of (sacred) Fire, and unite with it [as the Yogi ‘unites himself with the Universal Soul,’] must first unite himself soul and body to the Earth, his mother, to Humanity his sister, and to Science his daughter.”

        It appears the lecture was prepared from notes made by Madame Blavatsky and added to by her teachers. The Mesrobian Manuscript in the Etchmiadzine monastery in Armenia would seem to be referring to a manuscript written by Mesrob Mashtots. Mashtots is known not only for creating the Armenian alphabet, but also the Georgian and Caucasian alphabets.

        The question remains were Olcott and HPB successful in getting the Mesrobian MSS from Etchmiadzine? If they were successful are these available now? What are they called?

  • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
    Kristan Stratos
    Moderator
    Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

    Continuing to the next strophes…

    Gâθâ Ahunavaiti I. Yasna 29. 6-11

    6
    at ê vaocat ahurô mazdå vîdvå vafûsh vyânayâ, nôit aêvâ ahû vistô naêdâ ratush ashâtcît hacâ, at zî thwâ fshuyañtaêcâ vâstryâicâ thwôreshtâ tatashâ.
    7
    têm âzûtôish ahurô mãthrem tashat ashâ hazaoshô mazdå gavôi xshvîdemcâ hvô urushaêibyô speñtô sâsnayâ, kastê vohû mananghâ ýê-î dâyât êeâvâ maretaêibyô.
    8
    aêm môi idâ vistô ýê-nê aêvô sâsnå gûshatâ zarathushtrô spitâmô, hvô nê mazdâ vashtî ashâicâ carekerethrâ srâvayenghê hyat hôi hudemêm dyâi vaxedhrahyâ.
    9
    atcâ gêush urvâ raostâ ýê anaêshem xshãnmênê râdem vâcem neresh asûrahyâ ýêm â vasemî îshâ xshathrîm, kadâ ýavâ hvô anghat ýê hôi dadat zastavat avô.
    10
    ýûzhêm aêibyô ahurâ aogô dâtâ ashâ xshathremcâ avat vohû mananghâ ýâ husheitîsh râmãmcâ dât, azêmcît ahyâ mazdâ thwãm mênghî paourvîm vaêdem. dà
    11
    kudâ ashem vohucâ manô xshathremcâ,at mâ mashâ ýûzhêm mazdâ frâxshnenê mazôi magâi â paitî-zânatâ ahurâ nû-nå avarê êhmâ râtôish ýûshmâvatãm!
    ———-

    Ardeshir Framji Khabardar- translator;

    6. Then with compassion spake Ahurâ Mazdâ, omniscient, beautiful and wonderful, through omnipresent breath; ‘Is there known no such King, nay, not even such Prophet ever-associated with holiness? It is for this that the Motion-Giver has fashioned thee for (sending to Earth) the Enlightener and Protector.

    7. That Holy Verse of Sacrifice Ahurâ composed being of one Will with Asa, and Mazdâ created its sound for Earth, and Spentâ (Mainyu) himself fashioned it for the protection (of Earth) through Holy Commandments; Who is there with pure mind who might impart such graces unto the mortals?

    8. At this moment is know to me one such who has proclaimed our commandments- that one is Zaraθuštra Spitâma: for Mazdâ and Asa he wished to impart instructions (to the people) with hymns of praise; hence I would grant him full and fine control of speech.

    9. And thereupon the Spirit of Earth was displeased so as to submit to the weak conciliation- the speech of a weaponless man (and said)- such one whom I do desire a powerful ruler! When may he be such through both of You as may give (me) his strong handed protection?

    10. O Ahurâ! grant unto these (Zaraθuštra and his associates) traditional instruction and power of self-control through righteousness: grant him through pure mind that by which he may give happy comfortable abodes of peace! O Mazdâ! I also esteem Thee as the first Disposer of this (peace).

    11. Henceforth whereto shall I gather near me Asa and Vhou Mano and Xsaθra? O Mazdâ! all of You do approve to distinguish the great Magha Society! O Ahurâ! Though wouldst bless the least of us with the grace of Those belonging to you (= the four Ahurâs)!

    ——

    J.S. Taraporewalla- translator;

    6. Thereupon spake out Ahurâ Mazdâ enlivening Life’s-web with-(His)-all pervading- Life; “(Is) not even-one Master known, nor yet a Saviour by-reason of-(this)store-of-Righetousness! For this, indeed, as Shepherd and as Protector has the Creator appointed thee!”

    *7. That Holy-Word of Sacrifice Ahurâ of One-Will with Asa hath uttered; and the sweetness of Mother-Earth (hath) Mazdâ (promised), [even He] the Holy-One through (His) Law to (her) helpers… Who (is that Saviour) of-thine, O Vohu Manô, who shall, indeed, bring help unto the mortals.

    8. One-such here (is) known to Me the only-one who hath listened to Our commands- Zaraθuštra Spitâma; about Mazdâ and Asa he-alone [indeed] is willing to proclaim through-(his)-songs-of-praise; wherefore to him be granted sweetness of speech.

    9. But-thereupon, the Soul-of-Mother Earth bewailed; “So-that I must accept this feeble support the words of a man without-courage; while in-fact I had desired a mighty Leader when, if ever, shall arise one such, who unto-me shall bring strong-handed succour?

    10. Do Ye, O Ahurâ, unto these grant vital-force and O Asa, strength; (grant) that, O Vohu Manô (unto Him) that he-may-lead (us) to peace and rest; Him, O Mazdâ, we all do accept as Thy Noblest Creation.

    11.When will Asa and Vohu Manô and Xsaθra hasten even upto-me? Do Ye, O Mazdâ, for (the New) Teachings unto the glorious Brotherhood grant (Your) recognition: O Ahurâ, now that unto-us help has come, we shall be eager for service of such as Ye.


    *7. That Holy-Word of Sacrifice when forth from Ahurâ- One with ETERNAL LAW; Mazdâ Himself hath in this Word ordained the sweets of Mother-Earth to all who serve.
    [after a pause Ahurâ Mazdâ addresses Vohu Manô]
    Whom, Vohu Manô, has thou in thine eye, who might bring succour unto all mankind?

    • Profile photo of Jon Fergus
      Jon Fergus
      Moderator
      Profile photo of Jon FergusJon Fergus

      So, in an outward reading this would seem in some ways similar to the doctrine of avatars. A savior/prophet come to instruct mankind and teach them righteousness. Is Zarathustra seen in this kind of light in the Mazdian tradition? Similar, perhaps, to the Thirthankaras of Jainism?

    • Profile photo of Grace Cunningham
      Grace Cunningham
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      Profile photo of Grace CunninghamGrace Cunningham

      I was struck by the phrase “Motion-Giver”

      ” It is for this that the Motion-Giver has fashioned thee for (sending to Earth) the Enlightener and Protector.”

      Doesn’t the Sanskrit word Atma come from some root meaning “to move”?

      • Profile photo of Ramprakash ML
        Ramprakash ML
        Participant
        Profile photo of Ramprakash MLRamprakash ML

        Sure. It does. In her article, Psychic and Noetic Action, HPB gives in one of the foot notes the etymology of Atma as Eternal Motion (Swara). It is the Absolute Abstract Motion or the Great Breath

      • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
        Kristan Stratos
        Moderator
        Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

        So the word is thwôreshtâ- “the giver of extreme motion.” Apparently the Vedic language speaks of this as “tvstā त्वष्टा” – the Sun.

        • Profile photo of Garo Ketchian
          Garo Ketchian
          Participant
          Profile photo of Garo KetchianGaro Ketchian

          Zoroastrianism has much to teach us but presents some challenge to study as there are only a few fragments of the teachings available to us, and these were given in veiled terms.

          Fortunately there are some very good articles on the subject available on the Universal Theosophy web site. One of these is an article from Sunrise Magazine titled The Book of God. It is apparent the author of this article is a deep student of the sacred science and has done a wonderful job in piecing together some of the fragments. Here is a link to the article: http://www.universaltheosophy.com/legacy/movements/ancient-east/zoroastrianism/#s1

          In the article there is a beautiful fable from The Desatir about the animal’s rebellion. The author makes the analogy that the animals in the fable represent the animal or lower nature of man. Similar to the teaching in the Bhagavad Gita man, the spiritual being, is challenged by his lower or animal nature.

          Our present day news continually presents us with the proof that the animal nature or lower nature of man cunningly takes a major part in the theater of life. The challenge is there for all of us; those especially who are more spiritually enlightened to remain detached from being pulled in to these animal quarrels by our lower natures. We need to remain detached from the senses and focus on our real natures, the higher self, to have the steady mind to take action that is spiritual, at the right time, and in the right way.

          There are those among us that can break rocks with their bare hands. Those individuals are not known to do mischief with their hands. They are the same people whose hands give the healing touch. Think how patient and detached those individuals who guide the human race are as they watch the animal behaviors of our people.

          • Profile photo of Tamiko Yamada
            Tamiko Yamada
            Participant
            Profile photo of Tamiko YamadaTamiko Yamada

            It is no doubt helpful to look for the inner meanings of these traditions. We have the guidance of the Secret Doctrine to help us.

      • Profile photo of David Reigle
        David Reigle
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        Profile photo of David ReigleDavid Reigle

        Grace wrote: “I was struck by the phrase “Motion-Giver”:
        “It is for this that the Motion-Giver has fashioned thee for (sending to Earth) the Enlightener and Protector.””

        I, too, was struck by this phrase, especially since Taraporewala translated it as “Creator.” So I checked the Avesta word. As Kristan said, it is thwōrəštā, the nominative singular declined form of thwōrəštar, which is cognate with or equivalent to the Vedic Sanskrit tvaṣṭṛ (nominative singular tvaṣṭā). To get the meaning “motion-giver,” Khabardar apparently took it as being from the root “tvar,” meaning “to move with speed” (saṃbhrame, Pāṇini’s Dhātupāṭha). Thus, Khabardar understood this word as “the giver of extreme motion,” as Kristan reported. This definition is in Khabardar’s large 1949 book, New Light on the Gāthās of Holy Zarathushtra (p. 225), written mostly in Gujarati, but with some English. There may have been a 1951 version that translated the Gujarati into English, where he might have explained this further, but I have not seen it.

        The Vedic equivalent word tvaṣṭṛ, however, comes from the root tvakṣ, considered the same as the root takṣ. The Vedic god Tvaṣṭṛ is regarded as the “Fashioner” or “Artificer” (Macdonell’s Vedic Mythology, p. 117), because of his actions as depicted in the Vedas. Like Thwōrəštar in this Gāthā verse who tatašā, “fashioned” (Khabardar), “created” (Taraporewala, footnote), so Tvaṣṭṛ in the Ṛg-veda tatakṣa, “fashioned, made” (e.g., Ṛg-veda 1.52.7). So this root would mean “to fashion, make, form, create,” and thus Taraporewala’s translation “Creator” would be appropriate. Khabardar’s translation “Motion-Giver” appears to be based on an incorrect etymology, an etymology that was not followed by other translators.

        When we have the Vedic word tvaṣṭṛ well preserved, with over 65 occurrences in the Ṛg-veda alone (Macdonell, p. 116), to say nothing of its many occurrences in the other Vedic texts, we have enough reliable source material from which to deduce its form and meaning with a reasonable degree of accuracy. By contrast, the Avesta Gāthās provide us with too small of a sample from which to draw valid conclusions. Thus, the word thwōrəštar occurs only once in the Gāthās according to Taraporewala’s 1951 Glossary. The language of the rest of the Avesta texts shows a lot of deviance from the Vedic Sanskrit. This deviance probably already began in the language of the Gāthās, despite its close similarities with Vedic Sanskrit. Blavatsky referred to this in The Secret Doctrine (vol. 2, p. 200):

        “The inflectional speech — the root of the Sanskrit, very erroneously called “the elder sister” of the Greek, instead of its mother — was the first language (now the mystery tongue of the Initiates), of the Fifth Race. At any rate, the “Semitic” languages are the bastard descendants of the first phonetic corruptions of the eldest children of the early Sanskrit.”

        She is referring to Senzar as “the root of the Sanskrit,” which is “now the mystery tongue of the Initiates.” Elsewhere a Chela refers to this as “the direct progenitor of the Vedic Sanskrit” (“Was Writing Known before Paninin?,” Blavatsky Collected Writings, vol. 5, p. 298). While modern linguists do not derive the Semitic languages from the Indo-European languages (which include Sanskrit), we can see the “first phonetic corruptions” of the early Vedic Sanskrit language as it moved westward from India in the Gāthā language of the Avesta.

        So I must regard the first “r” in the Gāthā word thwōrəštar as a phonetic corruption, by which Khabardar could derive it from the root “tvar” and get the meaning “motion-giver.” The Vedic parallel to tvaṣṭṛ is too strong, and there the evidence is too extensive to allow tvaṣṭṛ to be derived from the root “tvar” meaning “to move with speed.” Taking thwōrəštar to mean “motion-giver” is an attractive idea, but one that I do not think will stand up to investigation.

        I would add that I have the greatest respect for Taraporewala’s translation. He was a born Zoroastrian and never gave up his religion, so he had a deep sympathy for the Gāthās. Coupled with this was great expertise in the languages involved, not only Avesta and its Gāthā dialect, but also Sanskrit and its Vedic dialect, and even the related ancient Homeric Greek. He had studied in Europe with the Avesta scholar Christian Bartholomae and learned Western methods of critical analysis. His magnum opus, published five years before his death, was his massive study of the Gāthās, titled: “The Divine Songs of Zarathushtra: A Philological Study of the Gathas of Zarathushtra, Containing the Text with Literal Translation into English, a Free English Rendering, and Full Critical and Grammatical Notes, Metrical Index, and Glossary,” Bombay, 1951, xlii + 1166 pages.

        • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
          Kristan Stratos
          Moderator
          Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

          David-

          I do own Khabardar’s Avesta/Sanskrit/English edition. I have come across the Gujarati edition in India, and to my surprise I found the apparently “very rare” English edition shortly after. I was hoping to provide a digital copy, but it seems as if time is just as rare…

          It has many additional notes that Taraporewalas doesn’t mention including many references to Vedic Literature. In many ways the two texts should be read together, which is why I am using the two for this study.

          Just for the record, I will type out Khabardar’s notes on the word in question, which actually occurs twice in the Gâthâs,both we have already seen (take note of 29.1; xshmaibyâ gêush urvâ gerezhdâ, kahmâi mâ thwarôzhdûm kê-mâ tashat).

          AFK notes;
          [29.1]
          “Thwarôzhdûm = Did you urge forward, did you put into motion ? Root त्वर् to move speedily. Verb, aorist causative, middle. (2/3). See Jacksons Avestâ Grammar 656. The world and all the planets revolve in the sky due to Supreme motion. That this truth was also known in the days of Zarathustra is established from this. Poor Galelio was taken to task by the civilized Europeans for saying this. From this root त्वर् is formed the word Thwōrəšta found in HA.29.6. In the Avestâ script this word is written as ‘thwarzdum-thwarozdum’ but that is not correct. By speaking “rô” there comes one more syllable in the metre. In the Gâthâs ‘a’ is written as “ô” also… All translators translate this word as “created,” and that is based on Pahlavi. I know of none who has given its correct derivation. It is only from the sense of the sentence that the meaning ‘created’ seems to have been given. But in the very line, immediately follows the word tasat (तक्षत्) which means ‘created.’ Here the prophet says in a truly scientific way “who has put me in motion? Who made me revolve in the sky originally?” Similar words of these roots त्वर् come again together in the 6th stanza… the Vedic ढ was changed to “zd” in the Gâthâs.

          I have to agree with AFK on this translation, as in the 29.7, the strophe that follows, speaks of the “Word of Sacrifice.” Motion, vibration, manifestation (creation) all seem to follow the initial Motion (Desire). Just some thoughts.

          • Profile photo of David Reigle
            David Reigle
            Participant
            Profile photo of David ReigleDavid Reigle

            Thanks, Kristan, for confirming that there is a 1951 edition of Khabardar’s book in which the Gujarati has been translated into English. Glad to know that you have it. Thanks for quoting from it his comments on 29.1. This is a good sample, and gives a good idea of what his comments are. I can see that they are very useful. Despite how many pages Taraporewala’s massive book has, I have often wished for more comments from him on the terms. Probably Khabardar’s English book will soon become available through the Digital Library of India.

            Regarding the meaning in question, Khabardar comments: “All translators translate this word as “created,” and that is based on Pahlavi.” This is not true. Taraporewala in his Introduction, p. xii, specifically says that he does not use the later Zoroastrian literature, i.e., the Pahlavi texts, in understanding the Gāthās. Instead, he says, “at every step I have compared Vedic words, idioms and ideas,” because “nearest to the Gāthās, both in language and in spirit, stands the Vedic Literature of India.” The meaning “create” is based on the clear Vedic parallel with tvaṣṭṛ and tatakṣa.

            Khabardar’s statement that he knows of no other translator who has given what he regards as the correct derivation of this term is true right up to today. The translations published since his in 1949, those of Helmut Humbach (1959, 1991, 2010), Framroz Rustomjee (no date, circa 1960s), Stanley Insler (1975), Maria Cornelia Monna (1978), and M. L. West (2010), like their predecessors, unanimously translate this term as “create, shape, form,” etc. In at least the cases of Humbach and Insler, like Bartholomae and Taraporewala before them, this is based on wide-ranging comparative linguistic study. None of these translators derive it from tvar, “to move with speed.” To do so would require convincing evidence, such as the discovery of a lost ancient commentary on the Gāthās.

      • Profile photo of Samantha Province
        Samantha Province
        Participant
        Profile photo of Samantha ProvinceSamantha Province

        This brings to mind the prime mover of Aristotle, which K.H. alludes to in ML 22: “There are some modern philosophers who would prove the existence of a Creator from motion. We say and affirm that that motion — the universal perpetual motion which never ceases never slackens nor increases its speed not even during the interludes between the pralayas, or “nights of Brahma” but goes on like a mill set in motion, whether it has anything to grind or not (for the pralaya means the temporary loss of every form, but by no means the destruction of cosmic matter which is eternal) — we say this perpetual motion is the only eternal and uncreated Deity we are able to recognise.”

        • Profile photo of Ramprakash ML
          Ramprakash ML
          Participant
          Profile photo of Ramprakash MLRamprakash ML

          Samantha Province
          January 16, 2017 at 5:12 am #4493

          Excellent quote. This is the first fundamental proposition of Theosophy–Absolute Deity, the Unknowable, under two aspects in the conception of truth seeking minds :

          Absolute Abstract Motion
          Absolute Abstract Space.

          Whether universes are there or not IT IS, boundless, eternal, immutable, unconditioned, infinite, and, therefore, Unknowable, but the causeless, Cause, the Rootless Root all that was, is and ever shall be, unrelated to the manifested.

          The root and essence of every being, high or low, is THAT, because IT cannot be absent from any point in boundless space. Hence the Upanishads say THAT THOU ART

          THAT is the only reality, all the rest, the whole universe, including the gods, is a passing illusion, like our personality.

          This is highest conception of God Theosophy presents.

  • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
    Kristan Stratos
    Moderator
    Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

    Grace- what connection are you making regarding “motion giver?” Why did you think this was significant?

    What is the occult understanding behind motion? Looking at the 7th strophe we see the mention of ‘holy word’ being One with Eternal Law. What does the SD mention regarding word, motion, vibration and Law?

    “That Holy-Word of Sacrifice went forth from Ahurâ- One with ETERNAL LAW”

    • Profile photo of Odin Townley
      Odin Townley
      Participant
      Profile photo of Odin TownleyOdin Townley

      A useful SD reference, Vol. 1 p. 2:

      “That which is motionless cannot be Divine.
      But then there is nothing in fact and reality absolutely motionless
      within the universal soul.”

    • Profile photo of Ramprakash ML
      Ramprakash ML
      Participant
      Profile photo of Ramprakash MLRamprakash ML

      This passage reminds on of the opening verse of the Gospel according to St John :

      “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”

      In Isis II, 37, HPB says that the “In the beginning” is a mistranslation of the Hebrew word RASIT, which means Wisdom, and that Wisdom is the first manifestation from the Absolute Deity, or En-Soph. It is also ETERNAL LAW, because, Law and Deity are one. Another aspect of it is Absolute Abstract Motion.

      The first born Protogonos, the Hindu Brahma, Adam Kadmon of the Kabalists, Logos of Plato, the creative Deity, radiated from Absolute Deity in obedience to ETERNAL LAW, which two are one.

      The idea is that behind the creative Deity who fashions the universe out of pre-existent Pre-cosmic eternal Root Matter, there lies a HIGHER god, a planner, and Architect.The Creative Deity is the executive agent of the planner and the Architect.

      The trinity of Spirit – Voice – Word should make it clearer (Transactions of Blavatsky Lodge, p, 149 :

      SPIRIT emanates from Absoulute Unknown Darkness (En-Soph) in accordance with the Eternal Law.
      This spirit is coevel with Primordial pre-cosmic Substance, also called Waters of Space.

      Spirit mirrors itself in the Waters of Space, the still undifferentiated matter of the future universe.

      This reflection is the VOICE, the pioneer of the Word or Logos–the definite and objective expression of that which had remained in the depths of concealed Thought (Cosmic Ideation)

      That which mirrors itself in space is the Third Logos–the executive agent of the concealed thought.

      We must learn the difference between creative Cause (III Logos) and Ideal Cause (concealed Thought or Wisdom)

      In man this trinity is seen as Atma-Buddhi-Manas

      • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
        Kristan Stratos
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        Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

        One importance here is the idea that Law and Deity are one. This not only has great significance regarding cosmogenesis, but also the moral laws of corporeal existence.

        In the Avesta, there is the following;

        [Fraggard 19]
        3. Thereupon Ahura Mazda said: It was this piece, the Ahuna-vairya, O Spitama Zarathushtra! which I pronounced as thine before the sky, and before the waters, before the land, and before the cattle and the plants, and before the fire, Ahura Mazda’s son, before the holy man, and before the Daevas, and Khrafstra-men, and before the entire corporeal world, even before the good creatures made by Mazda, which contain (and are) the seed of righteousness.

        8. And I pronounced this saying which contains its Ahu and its Ratu before the creation of this heaven, before the making of the waters, and the plants, and the four-footed kine, before the birth of the holy biped man, before this sun with its body made for the acquisition of the creation of the Bountiful Immortals.

        9. And the more bountiful of the two Spirits (Ahura) declared to me (Zarathushtra) the entire creation of the pure, that which exists at present, that which is in the course of emerging into existence, and that which shall be, with reference to the performance and realization ‘of the actions of a life devoted to Mazda.’

        • Profile photo of Ramprakash ML
          Ramprakash ML
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          Profile photo of Ramprakash MLRamprakash ML

          Ref : Kristan Stratos
          January 14, 2017 at 1:02 pm #4467

          Very beautiful verses, Kristan, of the Gathas on precosmic condition of unmanifest universe. The verse :

          “It was this piece, the Ahuna-vairya, O Spitama Zarathushtra! which I pronounced as thine, before the sky…..” etc

          What was pronounced, it seems, judging by the context, was WORD, Logos, — outer expression of hidden Thought.

          “Even before good creatures made by Mazda..” is very suggestive.

          Mazda, like Brahma Prajapati, plays the role of Builders and the Watchers of the S.D. who build the systems of worlds according to plan in the Universal Mind. In SD, I, p. 200, in the diagram we see the stages of evolution of worlds gradually from Idea into concrete expression, in stages : Archetypal world, the Intellectual or creative world, and the 3rd stage downward is the the substantial or formative world. It is only after the last of the above three, comes into existence our material world.

          It looks like the first three Rounds of the Earth Chain, of ethereal and astral nature, which are finally succeeded by the 4th Round of our globe, material world.

          “Holy biped men” who was created is strongly reminiscent of the I ethereal Races oozed out by Lunar Pitris in the beginning of the 4th Round. They were holy because they we the SONS OF PASSIVE YOGA, unconscious production of mindless men by Lunar Ancestors but super-spiritual — the primordial pioneers of terrestrial mankind who fell into sin and generation.

          Gathas are full of strong echoes of the Secret Doctrine, Probably less difficult to comprehend than the Vedic symbolism.

          • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
            Kristan Stratos
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            Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

            I agree.

            Matter of fact, when a careful study of these texts, we find that the symbolic representation of these Eternal Truths undoubtedly echoes in all verifiable sacred texts, however the symbolic language reflects a very particular aspect in these traditions.

    • Profile photo of Gerry Kiffe
      Gerry Kiffe
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      Profile photo of Gerry KiffeGerry Kiffe

      Add to this the connection between motion and sound. There cannot be vibration without motion. Sound underlies the manifest universe we are told.

    • Profile photo of Grace Cunningham
      Grace Cunningham
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      Profile photo of Grace CunninghamGrace Cunningham

      It struck me because I had learned that the concept of the Atman in the Indian tradition had its root in the notion of the capacity to move.

  • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
    Kristan Stratos
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    Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

    Ahunavaiti 2.1- Yasna 28.1-6 –

    THE VOW

    1. ahyâ ýâsâ nemanghâ ustânazastô rafedhrahyâ manyêush mazdâ pourvîm speñtahyâ ashâ vîspêñg shyaothanâ vanghêush xratûm mananghô ýâ xshnevîshâ gêushcâ urvânem.

    2. (zôt,) ýê vå mazdâ ahurâ pairî-jasâi vohû mananghâ maibyô dâvôi ahvå astvatascâ hyatcâ mananghô âyaptâ ashât hacâ ýâish rapañtô daidît hvâthrê.

    3. ýê vå ashâ ufyânî manascâ vohû apaourvîm mazdãmcâ ahurem ýaêibyô xshathremcâ akhzhaonvamnem varedaitî ârmaitish â-môi rafedhrâi zavêñg jasatâ.

    4. ýê urvânem mêñ gairê vohû dadê hathrâ mananghâ ashîshcâ shyaothananãm vîdush mazdå ahurahyâ ýavat isâi tavâcâ avat xsâi aêshê ashahyâ.

    5. ashâ kat thwâ daresânî manascâ vohû vaêdemnô gâtûmcâ ahurâi sevîshtâi seraoshem mazdâi anâ mãthrâ mazishtem vâurôimaidî xrafstrâ hizvâ.

    6. vohû gaidî mananghâ dâidî ashâ- då daregâyû ereshvâish tû uxdhâish mazdâ zarathushtrâi aojôñghvat rafenô ahmaibyâcâ ahurâ ýâ daibishvatô dvaêshå taurvayâmâ.
    —-

    Ardeshir Framji Khabardar- translator

    With uplifted hands I humbly pray, O Mazdâ ! first of all for this upholding of all the excellent activities of Spentâ Mainyu with (The help of) Asa, and (for upholding) the Divine Purpose of Vohu Mano, so that I may satisfy the spirit of the Earth also.

    Oh Mazdâ Ahurâ! I approach You Yourselves with pure mind to purify for me the supreme attainments, of both the existences, physical as well as spiritual, being ever-associated with the Righteousness, through which (attainments) it (righteousness) directs the faithful towards one’s own Internal Sacred Light.

    Oh Asa, I would weave hymns of praise before you yourself, and O Vohu Manô ! (I would weave them) unprecedented, and unto Mazdâ and Ahurâ also, by which Âramaiti increases the power of self-control calculated as unconquerable; so come Ye all to uphold these, my invocations!

    This very soul (of mine) do I certainly direct for invocation always with pure mind, and knowing the mastership of the creations of Mazdâ Âhura, I will abide by the will of Asa, as long as I have the authority and strength (in me).

    O Asa ! when should I be worthy to see thee and Vohu Mano recognizingly? And also (when should I see) the Abode of the most powerful Ahurâ, and Sarosh the greatest servant unto Mazdâ? Through this holy chant- we would cause to restrain the most lamentable tongues.

    Come with Vohu Mano and bestow the gift of Asa through long life ! O Mazdâ ! give to Zaraθuštra vigorous process of speech through sublime devotional songs! O Ahurâ ! grant unto us that by which we may overpower the hatred of the detesting foes!

    —-

    Irach J.S. Taraporewalla- translator;

    To Him I pray in humble adoration with hands uplifted for the perfect Bliss- to (Thy) Holy Spirit, O Mazdâ, first-of-all; through deeds inspired by Asa (I pray) for all (knowledge), and for Wisdom of Vohu Manô (do I pray); thus I shall bring solace to the Soul of Mother Earth as-well.

    I verily, O Mazdâ Ahura, upto You would reach near through Vohu Manô (that) to me may-be-granted in both-the-worlds-both (this) corporeal and that of-the-Spirit the blessings (flowing) through Asa, whereby Thou-wouldst-lead (Thy) faithful into the Abode of Light.

    I verily unto Thee, O Asa, shall-weave-(my)-hymns and unto Vohu Manô as never-before and unto Mazdâ Ahura; so that by Your Grace never waining Xšaθra also shall Armaiti make to grow (within us) come- Ye hither at-(our)-call (and grant) us Perfect-Bliss.

    Verily upto-(its)-exalted home the soul being attuned to Vohu Manô shall-I-lead; and being-aware of the blessings on-(good)-deeds (done in the Name) of Mazdâ Ahura, as-long-as I have will and wield the power so long will I teach (mankind) to strive for Asa.

    O Asa, when shall I find Thee, (and) having realized Wisdom, Vohu Manô too? (when shall I find) also the Path to Almighty Ahura, (which is) Obedience unto Mazdâ? Through this Holy-Word into the most excellent (Path) shall we ever turn with (our)-tongues the ignorant-astray.

    Come with Vohu Manô (unto us), (and) grant (us) the long-enduring gifts of Asa verily according-to-(Thy)- Sacred Words, O Mazdâ; unto Zaraθuštra (grant) the Joy of Inner Life, as-also unto-(all)-of-us, O Ahurâ, that we may overcome the hatred of our foe.

    • Profile photo of Gerry Kiffe
      Gerry Kiffe
      Moderator
      Profile photo of Gerry KiffeGerry Kiffe

      The idea of pure mind is used twice in this text. In the Zorastrian tradition what does pure mind refer to?

      • Profile photo of Garo Ketchian
        Garo Ketchian
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        Profile photo of Garo KetchianGaro Ketchian

        We can imagine that pure mind in the Zoroastrian Tradition would be a mind that is in harmony with Mazdâ Ahurâ. We may assume this to be a mind that is in harmony with life and nature, or a mind that is free from the delusions of the senses and firmly fixed on the foundations of the universe both spiritual and material.

        The pure mind concept would be the same as we find in the teaching of Krishna to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita.

        Many of the Zoroastrian words are found in the Entries from the Theosophical Glossary available under Zoroastrianism Movements on the Theosophy Nexus web site. Unfortunately not all of the definitions are given in the Glossary. What other resources are available? Would it be possible to provide some of the missing definitions to help make the Gathas more understandable?

      • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
        Kristan Stratos
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        Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

        GK-

        Generally speaking, the idea of the ‘pure mind’ can be seen as a mind which has been purged from the limitations of separative and linear concepts. Thus, a mind which is not “ones own” in particular, but universal or boundless.

        We can see in this first strophe that four names are mentioned; Mazda, Asa, Vohumano, and Spenta Mainyu. It appears as if the Mind (Referring to Manas, not limited to mind, but the Reincarnating Ego) must be fully assimilated with Vohu Mano and Asa to receive a sort of Influence from Mazdâ (the Holy Spirit).

        Vohu Mano and Asa are Principle Entities, according to the Zoroastrian tradition, which also have planets in association.

        • Profile photo of Grace Cunningham
          Grace Cunningham
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          Profile photo of Grace CunninghamGrace Cunningham

          What an interesting and helpful idea. Purification could be equated with or related to universalization. I find that very helpful. thanks!

  • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
    Kristan Stratos
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    Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

    Ahunavaiti 2.1- Yasna 28.7-11

    THE VOW

    dâidî ashâ tãm ashîm vanghêush âyaptâ mananghô dâidî tû ârmaitê vîshtâspâi îshem maibyâcâ dåstû mazdâ xshayâcâ ýâ vê mãthrâ srevîm ârâdå.

    vahishtem thwâ vahishtâ ýêm ashâ vahishtâ hazaoshem ahurem ýâsâ vâunush narôi ferashaoshtrâi maibyâcâ ýaêibyascâ ît rånghanghôi vîspâi ýavê vanghêush mananghô.

    anâish vå nôit ahurâ mazdâ ashemcâ ýânâish zaranaêmâ manascâ hyat vahishtem ýôi vê ýôithemâ dasemê stûtãm, ýûzhêm zevîshtyånghô îshô xshathremcâ savanghãm.

    at ýêñg ashâatcâ vôistâ vanghêushcâ dâthêñg mananghô erethwêñg mazdâ ahurâ aêibyô perenâ âpanâish kâmem, at vê xshmaibyâ asûnâ vaêdâ hvaraithyâ vaiñtyâ sravå.

    ýê âish ashem nipånghê manascâ vohû ýavaêtâitê tvêm mazdâ ahurâ frô-mâ sîshâ thwahmât vaocanghê manyêush hacâ thwâ êeånghâ ýâish â anghush pouruyô bavat!

    ______________

    Ardeshir Framji Khabardar

    7. O Asa, grant us that supreme mastership, as well as accomplishments of pure mine! O Aramaiti pray, grant supremacy unto Vishtaspa and unto me! O Mazdâ indeed Thou has given supreme ruling powers also, by which we would communicate (to the people) Your holy chants perfect in mysterious power!

    8. O most Prosperous! to Thee, Ahurâ, who is in co-association with the richest Asa, I pray, having gained pure mind for all time, for the Hero Farsostra, and forr me, and for those whom Thou wilt certainly bestow (the same pure mind).

    9. O Ahurâ! Through these (graces) may we never irritate You and Asa with our behaviour, and besides that, Spenta Manyu also- we who have associated in the offering of hymns of Your praise! You as well as supreme Xsathra are most worthy to be invoked and are possessing various powers.

    10. Then, whom, O Mazdâ Ahurâ ! You have known by their righteousness and pure mind, as pure and perfect in religious rites, promote unto them their desire with fulfillment ! How else may I fully know from You both, whether these prayers are liable to deviate from the right path, or are worthy of attainment?

    11. Only in this way I would guard righteousness and pure mind upto the end; O Mazdâ Ahurâ ! You Yourselves instruct me properly in order to proclaim from You (i.e., on Your behalf) through the mouth of Your ever-associated (Spenta) Manyu, through what processes Life came into existence in the beginning.

    ______________

    Irach J.S. Taraporewalla

    7. Grant, O Asa, that blessing, the rewards of Vohu Mano grant, verily, O Armaiti unto Vistâspa (his) wish, as-also unto-my-people, and through-(Thy)-power decree, indeed O Mazdâ that we, (your) devoted-servants, may-carry-out Your Word.

    8. For the Best (Abode) from Three, O Lord Supreme, from Thee, of-one-accord with- Highest Asa- from Ahura do- I- Entreat yearningly; for the worthy Frasaostra as-also for my people and even for (those on) whom Thou-wouldst-bestow (the blessing) of Vohu Mano through all eternity.

    9. Never, O Ahura [Mazda], Thee through these, (Thy) blessings, may-we-provoke-to-wrath, nor Asa nor-yet Mano, who (is) the Best; (we), who strive eagerly to-offer (our) songs-of-praise unto Ye,- (for) Ye (are) the-most-worthy-to-be-invoked in prayers, together with the Mighty Xsathra.

    10. And if Thou knowest (some) who on account of their Righteousness and because of (Their) Loving Heart (are) wise (and) upright, O Mazda Ahura (then) do Thou fulfill their desire by (granting its) attainment; for assuredly I know (that) not-unanswered by You (remain) devout prayers for righteous ends.

    11. So through these (prayers) may-I-hold-to-myself Asa and Vohu Mano for-evermore; do Thou, O Mazda Ahura, instruct me Thyself to proclaim, through-(Thy)-Spirit, (as) through Thine-own Mouth whence the Creation first came-into-being.

    • Profile photo of Gerry Kiffe
      Gerry Kiffe
      Moderator
      Profile photo of Gerry KiffeGerry Kiffe

      What do we suppose this might mean:

      Ahurâ, who is in co-association with the richest Asa, ?

      • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
        Kristan Stratos
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        Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

        It may point to a number of things. I am not sure if anyone has been looking into the symbolism of these names mentioned, as they hold a deep key to aid in the interpretation of these strophes.

        As it was pointed out Ahura and Mazda will be seen throughout the Gathas to have numerous variations. Ahuramazda, Mazda Ahura, Ahura, Mazda- each are used in specific context. Generally, Asa (rta skt) is seen as being Eternal Law, Truth, and Righteousness. Asa is designated as being the First of the ‘Father-Triad” (Asa, Kshathra-Vairya, Vohu Mano), which also have designated planets assigned. The Planet for Asa is Jupiter.

        Asa is the Law which keeps Order “within, and without” cyclic manifestation. The apparent stoppage of manifestation (the cosmic ebb) is still under the same Eternal Law (as the apparent flow). This is a generality, naturally, there is much to be discussed upon Asa alone.

        So Ahura in co-association with Asa, is meaning that the Eternal Law (Righteousness and Truth) is in co-association with the Eternal Spirit.

        • Profile photo of Grace Cunningham
          Grace Cunningham
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          Profile photo of Grace CunninghamGrace Cunningham

          Is it the Spiritual side of life that gives rise to Law? What is the relationship between Spirit and Law?

          • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
            Kristan Stratos
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            Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

            I believe so… That Spirit and Law should be considered to be absolutely synonymous in most circumstances. Here is one of them. The famous article and quotation “Deity is Law” brings about this idea.

            The relationship between the two is nonexistent, simply because Spirit = Law, the infuser of life (i.e., matter) is Life (i.e. Spirit/Law).

  • Profile photo of Pavel Axentiev
    Pavel Axentiev
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    Profile photo of Pavel AxentievPavel Axentiev

    I am interested in the original, pre-organized-religion traditions of the area (Middle East, Central Asia, etc.), and so far my study suggests that there was a wide-spread cult of Twin Deities (reflected in such figures as the Aswins of India and the Dioscuri of Ancient Greece), sometimes supplemented with their sister/wife, a Solar (?) Goddess.

    The Twins may be described as representing the dual aspect of the Reality, reflected in the cyclic changes (day/night, summer/winter), the existence of the Sun and the Moon, and the distinct but equally rightful domains of the Underworld and the mundane world as we know it. There was no distinction as to either of the Twins being “good,” and the other “evil.” Both of the Twins were divine.

    Several sources have suggested that it was Zoroaster, or rather the religion associated with this name, that divided the twins into two opposing, hostile principles, thus, in several aspects, initiating the transition into the sorry state of the world we have been observing over the past 2000+ years. Indeed, it is claimed that the very idea of the Devil (initially one of the equally divine Twins) was created by the Zoroastrians, who split the harmonious primordial metaphysics into two irreconcilable principles, the Ahura Mazda (the “good” god) and Ariman (the “bad” god, Satan, Devil). Had there been no zoroastrianism, would there be Christianity with its incessant desire to eradicate “devil-worshippers” by the righteous iron hand of the Inquisition? Would there even be the clash between the materialistic science on one hand and philosophy and spirituality on the other?

    In short, it seems to me possible to argue that Zoroastrianism introduced the “Good vs. Evil” duality into the human culture in, perhaps, the most extreme and pervasive form, influencing the character of the modern civilization to a rather great extent. It was perhaps not a completely bad counterpart to the religions of warring nations existing in the region at the time, and its emphasis on the Good, evidently, created a stratum of highly cultured, virtuous people. However, the mere mention of the idea of nearly Absolute Evil had nothing short of an inflammatory influence on the surrounding cultures for centuries, if not millenia, to come. In this perspective, the religion of the Buddha as seen in the teaching of Absolute Compassion, as well as any religions or teachings (Yoga, Stoicism, Gnosticism) emphasizing personal transformation, the struggle against degrading influences internally (in oneself) and only internally, may be seen as more successful.

    I wonder whether there will be any comments.

    • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
      Kristan Stratos
      Moderator
      Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

      I will reply to you Pavel-

      You are right, it is possible to argue the doctrine of ‘good and evil’ rooted in Zoroastrianism. However, when we read the Gathas- the original source of Zoroastrianism, we find little to no definite distinction of an explicitly good vs. and explicitly evil principle. If one finds such distinction, it is due to the translation and the common context of the followers of philosophy which has been tragically degraded.

      Sadly, this sin was committed by those who cannot admire the beauty of an unending twilight of paradox and bewilderment. This is where the “Ahriman and Ormuzd” distinction has come into play, a travesty to such broad esoteric laws, made narrow by the minds of men. Truth is found in something far more profound-

      “Zravane Akarne* yazmaidae; Zravane daregho-khodate yazmaide”
      Unto Boundless Duration, sacrifice of praise; sacrifice praise unto the Sovereign Time of the Great Cycle.

      *”Boundless Time, which, constitute ‘Yavaecha-Yavaetat’, Everlastingness. One cycle of Zarvana Akarana, Boundless Time consists of innumerable Zarvane-Daregho-Khadat, self-created long (cycle of) Time of 81,000 years each (x7 as generally stated in occult texts). In this Zarvana Akarana “33-Ahu’ and ’33-Ratu’, i.e. Yazads (angels) and subordinate angels manifested themselves. They are Eternities or potentialities possessing the significance of 33 (=3 plus 3=6), the significance of number 6 which indicates powers of 6 Gahambars, i.e., powers to create, destory and re-form. The above 33 Ahu and 33 Ratu work as higher and lower grade potentialities in the Universe. They are ordinarily called ‘Si-u-se Ameshaspend’ – 33 immortals invested with powers of 6 Gahambars…”

      Perhaps one of the most esoteric prayers I am familiar with in the Zoroastrian philosophy. Dwelling upon this, it is important to take note of the Zravane Akarne- Boundless Duration. This is the ‘Absolute’ which nothing can be said- yet, in the second part of the prayer the Boundless Duration becomes delimited by “daregho-khodate” cyclic manifestation. Nothing can manifest without polarity, thus directly pointing to a fundamental Law of Nature.

      “Indeed, it is claimed that the very idea of the Devil (initially one of the equally divine Twins) was created by the Zoroastrians, who split the harmonious primordial metaphysics into two irreconcilable principles, the Ahura Mazda (the “good” god) and Ariman (the “bad” god, Satan, Devil).”

      In a footnote of an article “The Devils Own” by HPB;
      “The Parsis, the last relic of the ancient Magi, or Fire-worshippers of the noble Zoroastrian system, do not degrade their Deity by making him the creator of the evil spirits as well as of the pure angels. They do not believe the Satan or the Devil, and therefore, their religious system cannot in truth be termed dualistic….”

      Ahriman and Ormuzd are not deified entities or gods, but Laws found in every aspect of Nature. Duality must exist as manifestation in dependent on opposition and ‘friction’ occurring from the unending eternal motion of Zravane Akarne.

      • Profile photo of Pavel Axentiev
        Pavel Axentiev
        Participant
        Profile photo of Pavel AxentievPavel Axentiev

        Thank you. You have managed to alter the course of my thinking regarding Zoroastrianism. In due time, if the need arises, I hope that I will be able to familiarize myself further with its ideas. For now, though, I will attempt to refrain from casting further judgment on the subject, based on secondary (at best) sources.

        • Profile photo of Garo Ketchian
          Garo Ketchian
          Participant
          Profile photo of Garo KetchianGaro Ketchian

          The Zoroastrian religion is contemporary with the Hindu religion. Here is a quote from H.P.B from The Secret Doctrine Dialogues that may shed some light on this discussion.

          Mme. Blavatsky: Because I am not a mystic writer, and I try to make you understand things a little less misty than they are. And you instead in thanking me, criticize me. The physical, or the material and finite universe, is the shadow thrown on the screen or illusion or Maya by eternal light, or the universal fire. It symbolizes with every nation the creative deity. Primordial matter is not our dense matter, but spirit; hence the spirit of creative desire again. How can you dissociate spirit from matter? Can you do it, when the latter spirit or matter is materialized spirit, and spirit is potentially matter? That is what we say in occultism. If mystic writings held less to poetry and fantastic imagery, and a little more to plain statement of fact, they would be less misty, and those who study them more positive than they are now about the real end of things. Fire is spirit and fire is matter and if a particle of the London slush can be found without the two qualities, fire and spirit then mankind had better except at once the anthropomorphic idea of the Church Fathers, and the dead letter of the Bible, and not its philosophy. You cannot come and say what the mystic writers could write in those days, when for every truth it was said there was immediately an inquisition, and so many cardinals to burn and roast you. Now you won’t find mystic writers; now it is time to state plain facts, because there is no one to burn them any more—except after death.

    • Profile photo of Peter
      Peter
      Moderator
      Profile photo of PeterPeter

      I’m not familiar enough with Zoroastrian philosophy to make a useful comment on that score. As a general reply on good and evil, below is an extract from a post I made to one of our discussion groups here a few years ago when the topic arose. The questioner asked, “….could you give an example of an evil prototype in nature? Do you see these prototypes of good and evil as independent realities of duality or as the two sides of the same coin? Or would evil just be the misinterpretation of the good and thus have no side on the coin?” Below is the reply made at the time.

      First, I would want to highlight the phrase ‘so called good and so called evil’ as I am sure these must be relative terms only. Secondly, the universe is said to be ‘worked and guided from within outwards . . . as above, so below, as in heaven so on earth’ (SD I 274) . So whatever happens on ‘earth’ must have a correspondence in ‘heaven’ in some form. Therefore, our acts of love and hate, creation and destruction, would necessarily have their roots in some more primal source or essence. That’s not to say the outward acts are identical to the primal source, nor simply reflections, rather that they are derived in some way from them. I believe there is support for this in the SD and Collected Writings. I’ve put just a couple of the passages below so that you and other members might judge for yourselves.

      ‘…if the homogeneous One and Absolute is no mere figure of speech, and if heterogeneity in its dualistic aspect, is its offspring – its bifurcous shadow or reflection – then even that divine Homogeneity must contain in itself the essence of both good and evil. If “God” is Absolute, Infinite, and the Universal Root of all and everything in Nature and its universe, whence comes Evil or D’Evil if not from the same “Golden Womb” of the absolute? Thus we are forced either to accept the emanation of good and evil, of Agathodæmon and Kakodæmon as offshoots from the same trunk of the Tree of Being, or to resign ourselves to the absurdity of believing in two eternal Absolutes!’ (SD I 411)

      ‘Nature is dual; there is a physical and material side, as there is a spiritual and moral side to it; and, there both good and evil in it, the latter the necessary shadow to its light. To force oneself upon the current of immortality, or rather to secure for oneself an endless series of rebirths as conscious individualities—says the Book of Khiu-ti, Volume XXXI, one must become a co-worker with nature, either for good or for bad, in her work of creation and reproduction, or in that of destruction.’ (CW III 297; bold emphasis was an underline in the original passage.)

      ‘Nature is as good a mother to the cruel bird of prey as she is to the harmless dove. Mother nature will punish her child, but since he has become her co-worker for destruction she cannot eject him. There are thoroughly wicked and depraved men, yet as highly intellectual and acutely spiritual for evil, as those who are spiritual for good.’ The Egos of these may escape the law of final destruction or annihilation for ages to come. That is what Éliphas Lévi means by becoming “immortal in evil,” ‘ (CW III 298)

      The two references above are to adepts of both the right hand and left hand paths.

      ~~

      • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
        Kristan Stratos
        Moderator
        Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

        Hello Peter-

        “…our acts of love and hate, creation and destruction, would necessarily have their roots in some more primal source or essence. That’s not to say the outward acts are identical to the primal source, nor simply reflections, rather that they are derived in some way from them.”

        Just based upon inspiration and my own reflections, I am willing to agree with this statement without even venturing into the quotations provided. Not going into too much detail, however keeping within conformity with Those who were able to read the Law of Nature (seers, mystics, etc.) we find that there is a very subtle, yet fundamentally important teaching upon “action/acts” (i.e. contingency) of the individuals nature in regards to Universal Law. Naturally, the subject of the individuals ‘free-will’ comes into play, which further brings the topic to ‘independency/dependency of soul in accord with Divine Law.’ The presence of ‘good and evil’ cannot be extracted from any part of the above mentioned topics seeing that all esoteric/exoteric schools state that the Divine Law is unquestionably Omnipresent; thus not a single event/action/movement can occur without some sort of ‘ordainment.’

        So from one perspective, when we quit thinking of good and evil in terms of general effects, we cannot put a definite judgement upon any perceived action/act- whether done by an individual, nation, or the hand of mother nature. It is simply far to broad, and life is truly mysterious.

        Thinking upon so called ‘good and evil’ in the scope of Divine Law of Necessity, for me at any rate, wipes clear the preconceived conceptions of what ought to be good, and what ought to be evil. Take note of this, perhaps it might do well to review what has been given out in the Gathas up to this point, as so called ‘good and evil’ are represented by Angra-Mainyus and Spenta-Mainyus. As I said in the introduction;

        “Zaraθuštra speaks of ones commitment to the way and Truth through the Gâthâs by way of understanding the duality of the Manifested Cosmos- a Field- which in a conflict occurs between two diametrically opposed Forces, or Twin Spirits; Angra and Spenta Mainyu. Each is the “personification” of spiritual, mental and psychological conditions.”

        If we venture further into this school of mysticism, and search through the pages of the Sufi/Zoroastrian “Desâtîr,” we find at each introduction and invocation;

        “Let us take refuge with Mezdâm from evil thoughts/imaginations which mislead and distress/afflict us.”

        That is to say, let us take refuge within the Law- as to submit ourselves to Divine Justice, and to work in conformity with the Universal Will. As we take refuge, we are sacrificing our individual rights and notion of “independent selves” as being free from said Law. The Islamic mystics, as well as those exotericists speak of themselves as ‘the slaves of Allah’- which has such deep implications when considering Allah/Logos is the ‘Hyle’ of Divine Names- the active Agents of Law, and the ‘Lordship’ governing over all manifested things. So evil, in this context is pointing out as self made deviations which occur naturally within the constitution of the corporal form. Simply opposition. However, evil/opposition is, as stated in the last comment, a necessity for manifestation.

        Note- The Book of Shet, the Prophet Zirtusht:

        32. As I have said in the Great Âbad.*
        33. When the Sphere began to revolve by the Light of Mezdâm, four elements and three children were produced.
        34. And these three children are dependent on the four mothers; the on the Sphere, it on the Soul, it on Intelligence, and it on Mezdâm.
        35. Whatever is on earth is the resemblance and shadow of something that is in the Sphere.
        36. While that resplendent thing (the prototype that is in the Sphere) remaineth in good condition, it is well also with its Shadow.
        37. When that resplendent object removeth far from its shadow, life removeth to a distance.
        38. Again, that Light is the Shadow of something more resplendent than itself;
        39. And so on up to Me, who am the Light of Lights.
        40. Look to Mezdâm who causeth the Shadow to fall.

        One Islamic Mystic “belonging” to this school, as mentioned earlier, Shahab al-Din Yahya ibn Habash Suhrawardi, agrees that the presence of ‘evil’ in this world is not the direct product of the Light of Lights, but is naturally accompanying the motion of the spheres.

        So much to think about, and so much to take witness to…

        • Profile photo of Pavel Axentiev
          Pavel Axentiev
          Participant
          Profile photo of Pavel AxentievPavel Axentiev

          In my mind, it all comes down to the simple question whether you’re a dualist (i.e., subscribe to the existence of Two Absolute Principles, e.g., “good” and “bad,” matter and spirit, etc.), or a monist (i.e., view reality as ultimately a single entity). Is the All ultimately One, and does that include Being and “Goodness” (in the Platonic terminology)?

          • Profile photo of Garo Ketchian
            Garo Ketchian
            Participant
            Profile photo of Garo KetchianGaro Ketchian

            My understanding is that the Absolute is unconditioned and that spirit and matter are both aspects. We can reflect on the 3 fundamental principles of Theosophy to help us gain a better understanding of universal concepts. Here is a quote from H.P.B. from the Secret Doctrine Dialogues beginning on page 507 that may shed some light on the current discussion:

            Mme. Blavatsky: The struggle for existence rages universally in sidereal as in terrene spaces. This is the first fundamental law in nature, the visible effects of which materialistic science has called correlation of physical forces in matter. But this applies only and solely to differentiated matter; it has nothing to do with individual or even personal units, which ought to be, if they are not, guided by the higher laws of the upper triad and not by the instinctual impulses acting on the plane of the lower quarternary. The struggle for existence begins with the physical molecules and ends with those animals which are quite irrational. This is therefore no justification for human selfishness as man is an animal on a higher plane of being and consciousness than is the animal. The man is a higher animal on a higher plane of consciousness than the animal; even the most abject savage is. I answer with regard to physical cosmos; the struggle will come only with the coming of Pralaya. With respect to its living and conscious beings, however, the [ ] ceases to operate at that human stage where consciousness and reason make their appearance. It is in man alone that the higher divine triad may be fully active, but this triad is trinity in unity, and unity or homogeneity characterizes the plane of its action. In the four lower planes of cosmos, on the contrary, it is the law of diversity and heterogeneity which reign supreme. Hence those beings who are endowed with the higher triad come under its laws, not under those of the lower quaternary, which act only upon those beings, atoms or things in which rationality is still an underdeveloped potentiality. Therefore since the law of being is unity, the higher self in him, it follows that the individual human being can only attain his complete and perfect development by acting in perfect unity, that is to say harmony, with all other men. Now (b). The struggle for existence which exists today among men proves only that firstly, man has not yet fully emerged from his savage animal condition, his Manas not yet being fully developed in this our Fourth Round, for it will be only in the fifth; and secondly that the great men of learning who proclaim selfishness as the great law of human life are, their learning and intellect notwithstanding, not on a much {higher} plane themselves. In other words, these learned gentlemen are still animals. Whoever wants to go and tell them, let them. What have you got to say? Are you going to take up the defense of the men of learning—of the F.R.S.’s11 and so on?

            Mr. Kingsland: Then that is really the basis of everyone helping humanity. It is really helping themselves?

            Mme. Blavatsky: Most assuredly. It is the most logical thing and the plainest in the world. People will not understand that by hurting their neighbors they hurt themselves. If it is not now, it will be in another incarnation. Of course if you don’t believe in it, it is another thing. But if you believe in it, it will be so, because if I hurt this finger the whole of my body will feel it. I may neglect it,

            11 [Fellows of the Royal Society, England’s oldest scientific body, founded in 1662.]

            509. 17. Meeting May 2, 1889

            but it may come in five years, because not the smallest little things remain without effects. Our universe is a concatenation of causes and effects. There is not the smallest thing that we can do to our brothers or neighbors—or even persons—that we won’t suffer for, and the whole humanity also. It is just the same when you disturb an enormous pool of water; if you disturb but in one place, then every drop of water in that pool will feel it; there will be reaction. I say that this selfishness of races, of individuals; of diversity of religion; of everything, this is the great curse not only of the nineteenth century, but it will last so long as we do not change or become a little better than we are. But this humanity here, nothing can be compared with. No imagination can create devils in hell as bad and as wicked as humanity is on the whole. Every race hates the other. One race goes and spits on the other; another says: “I am the one.” It is something terrible to look at. Man, instead of becoming better spiritually every day, becomes worse and worse and worse. This selfishness that you think—“everything for me”—it is a thing which hurts you most; this will be proven to you logically as 2 and 2 make 4; it cannot fail to do so. When they come and speak to me about a struggle, I say, the materialists go and say: “The struggle for existence is the great law; therefore let us go and annex a country, as the Russians go and annex places”; but you begin by putting stuff in your guns and shooting out of them at these unfortunate people—as they did last year in Burma, where about 200 were shot. That is the brotherly love; and they call themselves Christians. Good Heavens! Why, they are devils, all of them! They are not human beings, all those who go and make war and kill people and hurt everyone.

            • Profile photo of Ramprakash ML
              Ramprakash ML
              Participant
              Profile photo of Ramprakash MLRamprakash ML

              so, that explains why our world today is riven with so much heartless competition, conflict, wars, and also underscores the importance of diffusion of Theosophical influence. She says somewhere (probably Key) that brutality and selfishness that rages in mankind at this stage of its evolution is abnormal. Every advancement that is made in science is productive of far more evil than good, as long as the Manasic consciousness is held captive by the animal mind.

      • Profile photo of Pavel Axentiev
        Pavel Axentiev
        Participant
        Profile photo of Pavel AxentievPavel Axentiev

        I am sure that the Theosophical view ultimately does not include an Absolute evil. As HPB defines Theosophy (What is Theosophy, Theosophist, Vol. 1, No. 1) as

        belief in the Deity as the ALL, the source of all existence …

        I cannot see how an idea of Evil fits into that.

        Of course, on the relative levels there are good and evil things, and we should all abide by our Conscience. However, the very idea of the ALL, – or, as NeoPlatonists called it, Being, or Goodness, – changes A LOT. Ultimately, everything is GOOD. Therefore, I cannot see the doctrine of Duality (Good vs. Evil) but as an awful transgression of the esoteric doctrine, nay, as the very root of many a human suffering we observe.

        • Profile photo of Peter
          Peter
          Moderator
          Profile photo of PeterPeter

          Hi Pavel – I don’t believe HPB or Theosophy does advocate a notion of Absolute Evil. What are you thinking of here?

          I’m not sure that Plotinus and the Neo-Platonists are saying that ‘ultimately, everything is Good,’ though the The One is both the source and support for everything. If we take Plotinus’ view, we have the Three Hypostases and Matter. The three hypostases are ‘the One (the Good)’, ‘the Intellect’, and ‘the Soul’. For Plotinus the One is also the Good because he believed perfect Unity was also perfect Goodness. That Unity becomes less perfect during each ‘step down’ through the levels or hypostases.

          Imperfect things and embodied souls are good or just to the extent that they participate in The Good or The Just (or whatever Form supplies their nature). The lack of perfection or the lack of Good is primarily what constitutes Evil, for Plotinus. That lack always shows up in contrast to The Good, it’s not something in its own right. Here are some interesting passages from towards the end of Ennead One, the section on Evil:

          ‘To deny Evil a place among realities is necessarily to do away with the Good as well, and even to deny the existence of anything desirable; it is to deny desire, avoidance and all intellectual act; for desire has Good for its object, aversion looks to Evil, all intellectual act, all Wisdom, deals with Good and Bad, and is itself one of the things that are good.
          ‘There must then be The Good – good unmixed – and the Mingled Good and Bad, and the Rather Bad than Good, this last ending with the Utterly Bad..’
          ‘Evil is not alone: by virtue of the nature of Good, the power of Good, it is not Evil only: it appears, necessarily, bound around with bonds of Beauty, like some captive bound in fetters of gold; and beneath these it is hidden so that, while it must exits, it may not be seen by the gods, and that men need not always have evil before their eyes, but that when it comes before them they may still be not destitute of Images of Good and Beautiful for their Remembrance.’
          (Ennead 1.8.12)

          ~~

          • Profile photo of Pavel Axentiev
            Pavel Axentiev
            Participant
            Profile photo of Pavel AxentievPavel Axentiev

            >> Hi Pavel – I don’t believe HPB or Theosophy does advocate a notion of Absolute Evil.

            Of course not. I was just trying to drive this point home. Thanks for elaborating on the Neo-Platonic doctrine. Not sure I understand it. If the One is the source for everything, how can anything be not ultimately derived from it? (I would add that, according to Theosophy, everything is periodically drawn back into it, as well.) Are we not to see everything as One (the idea of Universal Brotherhood comes to mind)? Hence, are we not to see everything as Good?

            • Profile photo of Peter
              Peter
              Moderator
              Profile photo of PeterPeter

              “I was just trying to drive this point home.” – Sure – no problem, Pavel. I just wondered if you might have been questioning a suggestion somewhere along the thread that there was Absolute Evil in Theosophy.

              Agreed – your questions re the claims of Neo-Platonism are exactly the kinds of questions that the metaphysical system of every religion including Theosophy has to provide an answer for. In every religion and spiritual tradition there’s an obvious tension between metaphysical claims about Reality and our everyday experience of the world.

              I was exploring some of these ‘typical questions that arise’ with some friends recently – for example:

              If everything is One and the One (or God) is Good, how does such a metaphysical claim account for the evil and wickedness we actually observe/experience in the world; how does it account for the suffering that is simply a part of everyday life? (Does a hierarchical system of hypostases or levels of manifestation fully explain the existence of evil or wickedness, or does it just raise further difficult questions, which in turn require an explanation & so on?**(see note below)

              If the Ultimate Reality is Absolute Wisdom and Non-Dual how does ignorance, illusion and diversity ever arise in it in the first place? In a metaphysical system claiming non-duality the effect can never be different from the cause, or if it can this creates a problem that needs to be addressed in some way, for this immediately introduces duality where non is claimed to exist.

              If the claim is that all sentient beings are already one with the Source and this is the true underlying nature of each being, and if the claim is that every thing eventually is withdrawn back into that Source then what is the purpose of the spiritual path? Does it make any difference to each sentient being or to the underlying Reality (with which we are already said to be at-one) whether we tread that path or not? How would that particular tradition with those views explain this?

              There’s a long list of questions – all of them valid – one could ask varying with each type of metaphysical claim. Among my friends we noted that we can ask such questions cynically with the underlying aim to devalue a spiritual tradition which is not our own, or, we can ask such questions sympathetically and in the spirit of generosity with a genuine desire to fully grasp the tenets of that system and the underlying Reality it affirms exsts.

              Just as a related BTW, I read recently in one of the Dalai Lamas’ books, ‘Becoming Enlightened’, that we shouldn’t place our faith in any system of belief that cannot withstand analysis. He was commentating on Tsong Khapa’s work, the Lam Rim, where Tsong Khapa extols the virtue of analysis in meditation and ‘faith based on reasoning’ as a prerequisite to a serious endeavour on Buddhist Path.

              (**Note: for example, as students of theosophy, hinduism or buddhism we might accept the Law of Karma and Reincarnation as an necessary part of the explanation of suffering in this life, while a non believer in these might see Karma and Reincarnation not so much as explanations but simply further metaphysical claims that require proof before they can even be considered as explanations. )

              ~~

              • Profile photo of Pavel Axentiev
                Pavel Axentiev
                Participant
                Profile photo of Pavel AxentievPavel Axentiev

                Thanks, Peter. If you look at the comment that started this thread, however, it is the discussion I initiated on Zoroastrianism being, historically, the religion that introduced the idea of Absolute Evil. Perhaps it is an over-simplification, but I find it relevant in my conversations with friends, and, as I have tried to point it out, a system of philosophy, such as Theosophy (and, I thought, Neo-Platonism), that derives all existence from one source – i.e. emphasizes fundamental Unity of everything – is incompatible with the idea of Absolute Evil;
                moreover, and perhaps more importantly, the idea of absolute evil, arguably derived from the religion of Zoroaster, has become part of the worldview of at least two of the world religions – Christianity and Islam. I was propounding the view that this very idea is a major reason of the things that are “wrong” with the world.

                Combine the idea of unity with the idea of karma, and the whole picture of reality in our brains changes. It’s as if you replaced the very material with which you construct your worldview.

                • Profile photo of Gerry Kiffe
                  Gerry Kiffe
                  Moderator
                  Profile photo of Gerry KiffeGerry Kiffe

                  Where in Zoroastrianism is the idea of Absolute Evil, as a force in the universe, presented?

                  My understanding from a study of the SD, is that evil is essentially a concept relevant only to the human plane and in the human arena. There is no force in the universe that is evil. There is the interplay of Spirit and Matter. But both are essentially one and neither connected with Evil per se. But there is the Light and the absence of Light. That would be the more accurate dichotomy. On the human plane we might say there is Knowledge and Ignorance of Knowledge. The ignorance of knowledge is the source of what we call “evil” on the human plane. There is also perversity which is the deliberate refusal to learn or heed the law or the light. But this is also born from ignorance of our true nature ultimately. Perversity is the ego demanding to elevate itself in vain above the whole. This egotism is an effort to be either the best or the worst. It cannot bear to be mediocre, which is what the ego/persona usually is. Hence the desire to be really bad if it cannot be really good. If it cannot be the most noble then it desires to be the most ignoble.

                  I am not sure what Zoroastrian philosophy has to say on the subject but these are some thoughts attempting to look at it theosophically.

                  • Profile photo of Pavel Axentiev
                    Pavel Axentiev
                    Participant
                    Profile photo of Pavel AxentievPavel Axentiev

                    Gerry,
                    A few links appearing on the first Google search page for “zoroastrianism” and “evil” will likely provide at least some corroborating information. I am not posting the links here, as in my experience a post gets blocked if there are links to other sites present.

                    The concept of evil in Zoroastrianism is personified by Angra Mainyu (the Middle Persian equivalent is Ahriman), the “destructive spirit.” There is something to say regarding the original thought of Zarathustra (as far as we can know of it) having been somewhat distorted by the later development of Zoroastrianism. Yet, even such apologies seem to be somewhat misleading, since the main counterargument they propose against the existence of “Absolute Evil” in Zoroastrianism is that it will finally be overcome by the Good God (Ahura Mazda). To wit:

                    Avestan angra mainyu “seems to have been an original conception of Zoroaster’s.” In the Gathas, which are the oldest texts of Zoroastrianism and are attributed to the prophet himself, angra mainyu is not yet a proper name. In the one instance in these hymns where the two words appear together, the concept spoken of is that of a mainyu (“mind”, or “spirit” etc.) that is angra (“destructive”, “inhibitive”, “malign” etc, of which a manifestation can be anger). In this single instance—in Yasna 45.2—the “more bounteous of the spirits twain” declares angra mainyu to be its “absolute antithesis”.
                    – Wikipedia article on Angra Mainyu (bolding mine)

                    Another source (farvardyn dot com) teaches:

                    Zoroaster preached about the two Spirits, but His Philosophy is by no means dualistic. This idea of dualism did, indeed, creep into the religion during the later stages of its development; but in the Teacher’s own days and in His own words, the idea developed is most emphatically not dualistic. It is not dualistic in the sense usually understood, namely of conceiving two co-eternal, co-equal powers, one good and one evil, who are for ever at war with each other. The concept of Zarathushtra is something essentially different. He tells us that there are the Two Spirits-The Good and the Evil-at war with each other. They form the antithesis of each other in every respect. But in two must important respects His Teaching differs from the popularly conceived idea of ‘Dualism’. In the first place the conflict is bound to have an end. The books, even the later books which were responsible for all this later confusion of thought, speak of the ultimate triumph of the Good Spirit (Spento-Mainyu) and the hiding of the Evil One (Angro-Mainyu) ‘underground’. And the Prophet Himself categorically declares in the Gatha (Y., xxx, 10), ‘Then indeed shall the support of Falsehood come down, and broken shall be its power’, that Evil shall ultimately perish. If, therefore, one of the two powers in the so-called ‘Dualistic’ system is ultimately to perish, we cannot in reason say that the system teaches that these two powers are either co-equal or co-eternal.

                    So, the evil is not coeval with the Good and is destined to ultimately perish (hence it is not Absolute in the full sense of the word). Yet it is as close as it can get to the concept of the eternal enemy, and, as far as I can judge, is really not in any way different from the concept of Satan in Christianity and Islam.

                    Finally, to support my aforementioned view of Theosophy, here is from an early article by HPB, A Few Questions To “Hiraf***” (CW, 1, 101-118):

                    If the primitive Rosicrucians learned their first lessons of wisdom from Oriental masters, not so with their direct descendants, the fire-philosophers or Paracelsists; for in many things the Cabala of the latter Illuminati proves to be degenerated into a twin sister of the Jewish. Let us compare. Besides admitting the “Shedim,” or intermediate spirits of the Jews—the elementary ones, which they divide into four classes, those of the air, of the water, the fire, and of minerals—the Christian Cabalist believes like the Jewish, in Asmodeus, the Ever-accursed One, or our good friend the orthodox Satan. Asmodeus, or Asmodi, is the chief of the elementary goblins. This doctrine alone differs considerably from the Oriental philosophy, which denies that the great Ain-soph (the Endless or Boundless) who made his existence known through the medium of the spiritual substance sent forth from his Infinite Light—the eldest of the ten Intelligences or Emanations—the first Sephira—could ever create an endless, macrocosmal evil. It (Oriental philosophy) teaches us that, though the first three spheres out of seven—taking it for granted that our planet comes in fourth—are inhabited by elementary or future men (this might account for the modern doctrine of Re-incarnation perhaps) and, though until they become such men they are beings without immortal souls in them and but the “grossest purgations of the celestial fire,” still they do not belong to Eternal Evil. Every one of them has the chance in store of having its matter reborn on this “fourth sphere,” which is our planet, and so have “the gross purgation” purified by the Immortal Breath of the Aged of the Aged, who endows every human being with a portion of his boundless self. Here, on our planet, commences the first spiritual transition, from the Infinite to the Finite, of the elementary matter which first proceeded from the pure Intelligence, or God, and also the operation of that pure Principle upon this material purgation. Thus begins the immortal man to prepare for Eternity.

                    Summing it up: There is undeniable value in the study of the teachings of Zoroaster, as it is the case with any ancient teaching. Yet some of its principles, or, at least, their later interpretations and ramifications, seem to be at odds with the esoteric philosophy we adhere to. The doctrine of the Evil One has been shown by history, if I am in any way entitled to express my judgment, to be the ripest of all possible soils for all kinds of fanaticism, justification of immoral acts, etc.

  • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
    Kristan Stratos
    Moderator
    Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

    Pavel, with all due respect, if you are looking at resources that come from a far later date than the Gathas, you will come up with some serious degradations of the original philosophy of Zarathustra. We must consider the Gathas to be the original representation of Zoroastrian philosophy to establish some fundamental basis of its teachings, hence the study. The Zend-Avesta etc. come at much later dates, on top of being highly disfigured and corrupt. This is clearly stated by almost all scholars and devotees.

    I do not know how else to spell it out, so I’ll show you a picture of the basic outline of the Cosmos according to the philosophy… perhaps you are a visual person.

    • Profile photo of Kristan Stratos
      Kristan Stratos
      Moderator
      Profile photo of Kristan StratosKristan Stratos

      Notice how the Moon is divided twice, both into “Light” and “Dark”- notice the associated names, Spenta and Angra mainyu. They are not independent from each other anymore than the light and dark sides of the moon are independent.

      Let us consider the text we are studying to draw our conclusions.

      • Profile photo of Pavel Axentiev
        Pavel Axentiev
        Participant
        Profile photo of Pavel AxentievPavel Axentiev

        Agreed.

        No doubt, the system of Zarathustra is the same as that of the Wisdom-Religion. I do find that some of the analogies Gerry provided in his comment below are somewhat better constructed and do not invite the unnecessary idea of strife into people’s minds. It is a subtle point, and it may have been hard to predict how it would be transfigured in the later epochs, sort of like with one of those “strange attractors” in modern-day mathematics.

  • Profile photo of Gerry Kiffe
    Gerry Kiffe
    Moderator
    Profile photo of Gerry KiffeGerry Kiffe

    My suspicions are that the good and evil dichotomy is better expressed as Spirit and Matter, Formelessness and Form, Thought and Vehicle. Christianity (Churchanity), which made hay with a Bogeyman of Evil, saw advantages in creating an immortal source of Evil. To be saved you needed the church’s help. Krishna says that Light and Darkness are the world’s eternal ways. Read Esoterically we might see this as manifestation and the unmanifest. Gandhi once said, the only devils running around are the ones within our own heads.

    • This reply was modified 5 days, 13 hours ago by Profile photo of Gerry Kiffe Gerry Kiffe.
    • Profile photo of Peter
      Peter
      Moderator
      Profile photo of PeterPeter

      Gerry – yes, it makes sense to look at other ways of expressing the dichotomy of good and evil.

      Perhaps part of the problem here is that terms like Good and Evil tend to reflect moral judgements with regards to the actions or motives of sentient beings, whereas terms such as Spirit and Matter, Form and Formless etc are descriptions of the constitutional make up of entities and ‘the universe’. Such descriptions, in themselves, are morally neutral. A further explanation is required to link the constitutional make up of entities and universe in general to the arising of good and evil.

      The challenge for spiritual traditions particularly is to explain the origin of good and evil, especially the latter. Different traditions tackle that in different ways depending on their metaphysical underpinnings e.g. a creator God; a fundamental Divine Principle; beginning less Samsara & so on.

      Traditions such as buddhism, which postulate a beginningless Samsara and no eternal changeless principle, have an easier job explaining good and evil in terms of ignorance and grasping, for example. Spiritual traditions which propose an underlying Divine Principle or Source whose nature is Goodness, Harmony, Absolute Wisdom & so on, have a more difficult task in explaining how Evil or any form of disharmony might arise either from or within an Absolute Good or Absolute Harmony harmony. Some explanations succeed better than others, but all have problems to resolve.

      ~~

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