Gathic Zoroastriansm [1]


God is NOT about Fear
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A Universal Religion: Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds

The religion known in the west as Zoroastrianism, and by its founder as the "Religion of Good Conscience", has laid claim to being the first Monotheist religion, the first Universal religion and the root of much of Jewish, Christian and Islamic doctrine and belief.

Over the millenia, the words and compositions of its founder, one Zarathushtra Spitaman, (known to us by the Greek alliteration of his name - Zoroaster), were lost due to passage of time and the obsolescence of its language. Its original message was lost because of accidents of history, as libraries and books were burned again and again by invaders and its wise men were either killed, enslaved, deported or went into hiding.

However, thanks to the long, arduous and painstaking work of literally hundreds of scholars in the last 200 or so years, the original message of Zoroastrianism, the message of its "Manthran" (Thought-provoker) Zarathustra, Zoroastrianism has surfaced once again, revealing it as ever-relevant, unique and inspiring.

Zarathushtra's is a message about a spirituality that progresses towards self-realization, fulfillment and completeness, as a good creation of a totally good God. It is a message of freedom - freedom to choose, freedom from fear, freedom from guilt, freedom from sin, freedom from stultifying rituals, superstitious practices, fake spirituality and ceremonials. The God of Zarathustra, is not a God of "Thou shalt" and "Thou shall not". God in Zoroastrianism does not care what you wear, what and when you eat or where and when you worship. God instead cares how righteous, progressive and good you are.

The Zoroastrian Religion pictures humanity as the growing and evolving creation of a God that respects it, and wants it to collaborate in the task of preserving, nourishing, fostering and refreshing this Living World of ours. A Zoroastrian is supposed to progress towards God (Ahura Mazda) by his own choices. Choosing to do good, and to avoid choosing to do wrong or evil. Zoroastrianism is thus the first truly ethical religion of mankind and teaches that mortals achieve their goal of god-likeness and spiritual completeness by fighting evil through good thoughts, words and deeds.

Mazdayasna (The Worship of the Wise), another name for Zoroastrianism, teaches the equality of all mortals before their Wise creator God; who only sees a difference in righteousness among mortals. Thus there is equality of race, nation, gender and social position.

In its most sacred prayer the Ahunavar (Choice of the Lord), Zoroastrians are taught that their Lord and leader are to be chosen, through a Good Mind - a mind that is a well-informed and benevolent - and only on account of their individual righteousness. This sets the basis for a spiritual and political democracy as far back as around 4000 years ago! Only an informed and unbiased mind is capable of making a truly righteous choice and this is precisely, the invitation of Zarathustra, the great Aryan teacher of righteousness, when he tells us:

"Listen to the best things with your ears, reflect upon them with an unbiased mind. Then let each man and women for him or her self choose between the two ways thinking. Awaken to my doctrine, before this great event of choice comes upon you"

[Avesta: The Gathas: Song 3:2 (Free Translation)]
Gathic Zoroastrianism [2]

Zarathustra A biography of Zarathustra

Over 3700 years ago, in the plains of Central Asia, God called upon a man to proclaim His "Manthra" (thought-provoking message) to humanity. The man was Zarathushtra Spitaman. He was The "Manthran" - the harbinger of God's thought-provoking message.


The world will forever be indebted to this unique thinker, for his message to mankind and the religion that he founded has influenced all later religions. This man and the religion he gave humanity, is a FIRST in many ways.

Zarathushtra was the founder of the first religion on record. He was the first to preach Monotheism. He was the first to proclaim a message for ALL mortals - a universal message. He was the first to preach equality of all regardless of race, gender, class or nationality. At a time when mankind was barely out of the Stone Age, when might was right, he proclaimed that a leader must be "chosen" thereby for the very first time in history, sowing the seeds of democracy!

Zarathushtra claimed to have received a vision from God, a God he called Mazda Ahura, the Wise God. His God is one who cherishes all his living creation and wishes to promote its freshness and preservation. He wants that mortals actively aid him and work as His co-workers in this task of promotion and preservation of His "Good Creation". This "Manthran" was thus the first to introduce us to the concept of "ecology" some 3700 years ago!

The Gathas. Zarathushtra's sublime message to mankind is so simple that it is contained in a small book of 17 songs called "The Gathas of Zarathushtra". The word "Gatha" means songs or hymns. Yet this small book contains many profound and unique truths and to comprehend which it is important to understand certain Gathic concepts.

Gathic Concepts

1. Spenta Mainyu: Zarathushtra sees the world as creation of a Divinity, whom he calls Ahura Mazda (dealt with in detail later), which He created with his Spenishta Mainyu, His Most Progressive Mentality. To understand this concept of "Spenta" or "Progressive" one needs to understand 'progressive', in the sense of incremental, augmenting, evolving, growing, uplifting and edifying. The word "Mainyu" has been translated by Western scholars as "Spirit". However, linguistically it has no association with the spirit in the western sense. It is simply a way of thinking about life or reality. A more appropriate explanation would be a mindset, a sense, a mental inclination or disposition. The antithesis of this Progressive Mentality is the evil, wrongful, retarding, hindering, destroying Mentality which is termed as Aka Mainyu.

2. Asha: In Zarathushtra's theology Asha is the Ordering Principle of Creation. In the physical world Asha is what can be defined as an amalgam of laws that uphold the Cosmos. But in human lives Asha translates as what is Righteousness, Order and Truth.

3. Vohu Manah: According to Zarathushtra human beings are endowed with Vohu Manah (the Good Mind), which enables them to comprehend Asha, and make the right choices that make the living world progress towards Asha.

4. Spenta Aramaiti: This concept has been translated differently by various scholars. Some translate it as Serenity, some as Right-mindedness, some as Piety, some as Devotion and some as Benevolence. Perhaps there is no one English word that can describe it. But it is generally agreed that it is that inherent quality in human beings that spurs them to translate good thinking into actions that are in accord with Asha.

5. Khshathra Vairya: This is Ahura Mazda's Ideal Dominion. In our world it may be translated as the ideal social order which Man must strive for.

6. Haurvatat: It is that state of perfection on Earth, that ideal that God wishes mankind to achieve.

7. Ameretat: A state of immortality, non-deathness is referred to in the Gathas as Ameretat. (These concepts will be dealt with in detail later)


The life of Zarathushtra has been shrouded under a cloud of history. To this date there are controversies regarding his name, his date of birth, his birthplace and his life. Tradition tells us that Zarathushtra was born into the Spitama clan. His father was Pourushaspa.

The literal translation of that name means "full of horses" which leads us to believe that he was a horse breeder or rancher. His mother's name was Dughdhova, which translates as a "milkmaid". Many myths and legends have been handed down about his birth and life, but cannot be vouched for with any degree of authenticity or certainty.

Zarathushtra is believed to have lived at a time when the world was emerging from the prehistoric Stone Age. However varied views have been presented regarding the birth date of Zarathushtra. Starting with 100 AD, they date all the way back to 6800BC!

The priests of the Sassanian dynasty placed him to have been born a mere 100 or so years before Cyrus the king of the Achaemenian dynasty. However Greek historians have placed him in a much older era. Early western scholars of the Avesta (the scripture of the Zoroastrians) placed him much closer to the present.

James Darmesteter even theorized that Zarathushtra lived after Christ and that he has plagiarized the Bible because much of the Iranian doctrine was like the Christian one!

Scholars like Anquetil du Perron, Herzfeld, Henning and West placed Zarathushtra in 6BC or 7BC. Others like Bartholomaw and Widengren went back to 900BC, while Rudolph and Jackson placed him at 1000BC. Mills at first dated him to 900BC and later to 1500BC. Pour Davoud, Hummel and Haug have given a date around 1100BC. The Bundahishn, a Pahlavi book, dates Zarathushtra as 258 years before Alexander's conquest of Persia, or 588BC.

This date has been identified as the "traditional" date. Persian historians Birouni and But and many other authors have rejected this date and we have Azarghoshasb placing Zarathushtra at 3500BC, Kavasji and Bharucha at 4000-6000BC and Katrak at 6600BC. More scholars have presented Zarathushtra as follows due to archeological evidences, but for a more complete number of references the reader is invited to acquire "Zoroastrian Doctrine and Biblical Connections" by Daryoush Jahanian.

1. In 1984, Asgarov in the Ozbakistan's (In the old USSR) excavations, uncovered ruins of a Zoroastrian temple estimated to belong to around 2000 B.C.

2. Lommel and Meyer note that in one of the inscriptions of Sargon the Assyrian King, dated 714 B.C., allusion has been made to Mazdaku, a Median ruler. This name could be translated as "belonging to Mazda", which according to them could only mean that the Mede upper classes were Zarathushtrian, probably centuries before that. But these are only some of the historical and archeological indications of a very ancient date for Zarathushtra.

The great scholar James H. Moulton presented a theory, based on archeological data that pointed to the split of the Aryans into two migratory groups around 2000 BC. One of these went into modern day Iran and the other into India and Afghanistan. Since there was a reversal in the role of divinities between Iran and India, where daevas became gods and asuras (Iranian ahuras) became demons, while in Iran the opposite happened, Moulton theorized that the division came about as a result of

Zarathushtra´s teaching against the daevas. But the main testimony, for a very ancient date for the Iranian Manthran is linguistical.

The RigVedas and the Gathas are contemporary and their language is extremely close. There are certain persons that appear in both. Since the earliest RigVedas have been dated to before 1500 BC, we are now certain that Zarathushtra lived at least at that time and probably centuries before, since the RigVedas were sung many years before they were put into writing. The importance of Zarathushtra's date will become evident when we study the influences this ancient Persian religion had on both Eastern and Western religions.
Gathic Zoroastrianism [3]

Mazda Ahura: The wise God of Mazdayasna

Disillusioned and distressed by the ritual-laden and sacrifice-ridden practices of his day, Zarathustra turned to his inner self and to nature to find answers to questions, which baffled his mind. Through contemplation, meditation and reflection, he pondered on the nature of reality, with a mind devoid of preconceptions. This quest led him to discover a precise order and organization in the universe.

He concluded that such precision within creation was not possible without the existence of a Super Intellect Being, who functioned and supported his creation with His Divine Intelligence. It is with this Being, this God, this Divinity, that Zarathushtra communed. He called this Being, this God, "Ahura Mazda" (Wise Lord)

The Name of God: Zarathustra has a unique name for his God - AHURA MAZDA , meaning Wise Lord or Lord of Wisdom. There is an unusual significance of this. 'Mazda' , meaning Wisdom, or Wise, is a feminine noun (like the Greek 'Sophia') but 'Ahura' , meaning literally "High Being", is masculine. Thus Zarathushtra begins to emphasize a theme that runs throughout his Gathas, that God is sexless and abstract in nature, but at the same time is very personal and shares both feminine and masculine characteristics!

In the Gathas, the two names are sometimes used separately, sometimes together, but most often as Mazda Ahura (Wise Lord).

Manifestation of God: Another unique characteristic of the Wise One, is that He communicates and manifests himself to mortals through His own ethical attributes, which are a part of His being, yet can be shared in by mortals if they so choose. This means that men and women can choose to be Asha-like (Righteous) or Vohu Manah-like (with a benevolent Good Mind), or any of the other of God's own essences. What a loving God! He gives mankind His own attributes to progress and evolve towards perfection!

A God realized through Good Mind: But this communion, this interchange between Divinity and the man who reached out in search of Him, was unique. God did not appear to Zarathushtra in bodily form, nor as an angel, nor through a bush or a mountain. Zarathushtra saw Him in his "Mind's Eye." Let Zarathushtra in his own words of his Gathas describe this revelation:

"Wise One, I realize you to be powerful and progressive because You help with Your own hand. You give rewards to both the wrongful and the righteous, by means of the warmth of your Fire, which is mighty through Righteousness and through which the strength of Good Mind comes to me." (Gathas: Song 8:4)

Without going too deep in analysis, it is evident that "Fire" in this verse (and throughout the Gathas) is an allusion to illumination and enlightenment. It is what is called "The Fire of Thought." It was through this Fire of Thought (thinking, reflecting, meditating) that Zarathushtra gained enlightenment and it is this same Fire of Thought, that he wishes to awaken within mankind. When one reflects more on this beautiful verse, what becomes even more evident, is that such a reward is given to both the righteous and the wrongful. But the strength of such a reward increases (becomes 'mighty' in Zarathushtra's words) only through Righteousness, that is through thoughts, words and actions in accordance with what is Right; in accord with God's Ultimate Truth (Asha).

In Song 8:7 of the Gathas we further gather how this enlightenment came to Zarathushtra:

"I realized You, God Wise, when I was encircled by enlightenment through good mind, and it asked: Who are you? To whom do you belong? How would you, in these days of questioning, explain the directives to the living and to yourself?" (Gathas: Song 8:7)

God-realization came to Zarathushtra, encircling him with enlightenment through his own Good Mind, one that he had acquired by choosing to seek reality through reflective thought and meditation with a mind clear of preconceptions. This was MAZDA (a super intellect), the God that Zarathushtra realized. A Divinity, who with His superior intellect creates, orders and sustains creation and who communicates with Man through his Good Mind; through the "Fire of Thought" - indeed a unique revelation!
Ahura Mazda is all goodness: How did God achieve to goodness? Through His choices, just as He would like Man to do! At the risk of sounding trite, He made Good choices. But 'good' in Mazdayasna, is what uplifts or makes creation progress, that is, it is Spenta. It is also Righteousness, for Righteousness is what ought to be, the ideal state of Right and Truth. Thus Mazda Ahura is totally good. He has chosen good and achieved completeness and immortality; a state of radiant happiness (Ushta) through illumination and enlightenment.

A benelovent, beneficent God: Zarathushtra's God is not someone to be feared, for he neither judges, nor does he punish. It is important to note that in Zoroastrianism it is man's own conscience that judges his soul (urvan), at the time of its separation from the body, that is at death. The separation is only of the Righteous from the Wrongful. Since Asha-like, Spenta-like and Good are synonyms, one can understand that at death one attempts to move to a better existence. In other words, one tries to achieve communion with God in the fullest sense. But our consciences, knowing our state of being, are in truth the arbiters of our progress.

Through Asha, God has established rewards for both good and bad choices. But these rewards are done in love and not as punishment or revenge. God's Asha is called loving because it works for the good of all eventually. If we humans ignorantly oppose it, we hurt ourselves. We are meant to learn from these wrong choices and experiences and evolve towards making right choices in future.

A God who gives humans complete freedom: It is pertinent to note that despite some translations to the contrary, the Wise Lord is neither Omnipotent nor is He Omniscient in the Judeo/Christian/Islamic sense. He is the Mightiest, but even He cannot go against His own nature, plan or design. In that sense He is not Omnipotent.

On the other hand, He is not Omniscient because although He is aware of everything as it happens, He does not know all that is, because He does not know how we are going to choose, nor whether an accident, illness or some other chance event, is going to occur. Such is the freedom of choice given to mankind! Our choices are truly ours and the only thing that God has determined is the final refreshing of all creation. This is determined not through predestination, but through Mazda's Super Wisdom, which designed a perfect plan to bring about the completeness of His creation.
Kiwimac -- Enough for now, more later!
You seem to be a fan of Gathic Zoroastrianism. :)

However, what are your personal thoughts on the subject? How do you approach explaining the subject to others who know nothing of it? (Perhaps that would be a new thread in itself?)
AM I a fan of Gathic Zoroastrianism? Yes, I am in some ways. It is an attempt to get back to the 'roots' of an ancient religion, to delve below the additions of the centuries.

How do I explain it? Normally I start be telling the interested party to forget all that they think they know about Zoroastrianism and then I refer them to a couple of sites that will provide some basic information.

I have more to post & will do that in a day or so.

All information is taken from:

The God we find in the Gathas is quite unique in many respects, especially at this very early stage in man's civilization. Mazda is an ecological God, who not only sustains, nurtures and promot es His Creation, but wants to bring it to an ideal state, variously called in the Gathas, healing or freshening.
It is the Living World, which complains to God of its suffering and it is to this Living World that Zarathushtra is sent as a Ratu or leader. His function and that of all righteous men is to protect, promote and rehabilitate the world. This is described as a healing and a freshening. The Benefactors are called "Benefactors of the lands".
God also calls humans to be his allies in making the Living World whole, healed and fresh. The later religion picks up and develops this Gathic teaching. Man is supposed to keep the fire (energy), the land, indeed the whole earth, the waters and the sky (the air) clean and pristine. He is supposed to protect the 'cow' for itself andd also a symbol of animals.
But not only is nature to be protected and kept unpolluted, it is to be developed, but wisely and according to its best natural uses and for the benefit not only of a few, but for all the creatures of the Most Wise. It is to be made as useful as possible and to fulfill the purpose of its creation.
In addition to being a 'Green God' Mazda Ahura is the God of equality. Constantly in the Gathas, the equality of women is subtly emphasized. The universality of the message is brought out by the conversion of the Turanians, the blood enemies of Zarathushtra's people. The greedy rich and those seeking a life of luxury are castigated and the settled person is exalted.
Politically the "Ahunavar" establishes the principles for separation of church and state and for a democratically elected government, which is based on righteousness, benevolence and dedicated to the rehabilitation of the oppressed. These unique characteristics of Mazda Ahura make His message an ever-relevant message. A message for the ages and for all mortals.
Throughout the Gathas many aspects, attributes and qualities of this God of Wisdom, Ahura Mazda, are enumerated, which can briefly be summarized as follows:

He is a God of Free Choice. (Songs 3:2, 4:9 and 11)
He is Creator of All. (Song 9:7)
He promotes the unconquerable dominion. (Song 1:3)
He is a God who knows best (Song 2:4 & 5:7), and is the ´Knowing´ and who fashions righteousness to look after the promoter and the settler (Song 2:6).
He is of one accord with righteousness, who prepared the ´Thought Provoking Message´ (the Manthra), the promoter for those who wish to be protected (Song 2:7)
He has established "…long suffering for the wrongful, and a lasting good for the righteous…" (Song3:11)
He grants happiness to all and speaks words of knowledge to Zarathushtra, to guide all to choose right (Song 4:3).
He increases dominion through good mind (Song 4:6), stimulates the mind (Song 4:7); He is the first and the last, the patron of good mind and the Lord of life's actions (Song 4:8); He has fashioned intellect for us and put life in the physical frame (Song 4:11); and reveals good mind (Song 4:17).
He watches all (4:13)
He grants wholeness, immortality, abundance of righteousness, to those who are his friends in mind and action (Song 4:21; Song 6:9)
He is an ally and a friend and has chosen progressive serenity for us (Song 5:2)
He comes through righteousness and good mind (Song 6:7)
He is most powerful and listens (Song 6:11)
He rises within us, grants, courage, good gifts of prayer, full vigor and felicity (Song 6:12)
He is Wide Watching, reveals the force of His sovereignty & the blessings of good mind. (Song 6:13)
He gives guidance & shows self-reliance (Song 7: 12)
He gives rewards to the beneficent (Song 7:13)
He rules at will (Song 8:1)
He is sincere & noble (Song 8:3)
He grants long life, the chosen existence which exist only in his dominion (Song 8:13)
He is our friend (Song 8:14)
His is the most progressive mentality (Song 8:16)
He is the Master of Beneficent Sovereignty (Song 9:9)
He gives the best in life, He is the God who cannot be deceived (Song10:4)
He is the Most Progressive who is reached through the actions of good mind (Song10:5)
He is the Greatest of All, He hears us through progressive mentality (Song 10:6)
He has established through His Sovereignty that the living, the departed and the yet to be born seek their great success from Him (Song 10:7)
He gives protection through His fire and mind and enlightens the inner self with His doctrine (Song 11:7)
He is the most worthy of invocation (Song 11:9).
When the wrongful, rise up to promote the world through serenity and zeal He unites them with good mind and teaches them what they need (Song 11:12)
His will is the complete renovation of life achieved through righteousness (Song 11:19)
He promotes progressive mentality in men who consult good mind (Song12:3)
He has promised the righteous, what is indeed best through progressive mentality (Song12:5)
He grants the progressive mentality, because with the growth of serenity and righteousness it brings, it will convert many a seeker (Song 12:6)
He is the Beneficent Lord who teaches through righteousness what is best for the knowing (Song 13:3)
He increases prosperity through righteousness (Song 13:6)
The benefactors of the lands will follow the satisfaction of good mind and base their actions through righteousness in His teachings. (Song 13:12)
He teaches us how to proclaim the religion, which belongs to a Godlike person. (Song 14:6)
He guards the good mind, the soul of the righteous and the reverence that comes with serenity (Song 14:10)
He is the Creator of Intelligence (Song 15:6)
He is approached through devotional songs, outstretched hands, righteousness, good mind and with the adoration of a devotee (Song 15:8)
Our deeds should be dedicated to Him (Song 16:2)
He is the Lord of true speech and of His word He is the foremost promulgator (Song 16:3)
He gives much good to those who succeed for the sake of their conviction (Song 16:6)
He was the first one who came into the House of Song (Song 16:15)
Men can be united with Him (Song 17:3) It is His dominion that provides a better living for the honest living. He is indeed AHURA - the most Superior Being!
ASHA: The Ordering Principle of Creation.

Asha defined: The first among Gathic concepts (enumerated earlier) is ASHA. It is an Aryan concept, shared by Hindus as well as Persians. In archaic Sanskrit, it is Rta/Rita, and the Law of the Universe. In both Sanskrit and Gathic Avestan, it literally means "what fits", in any and every situation; in every physical, emotional, ethical, mental, material and/or spiritual relationship.

In the realm of the strictly physical and material, it can be defined as the amalgam of laws that rule and uphold the Cosmos - the laws of chemistry, physics, biology, etc. It is what is real, accurate and factual. Without Asha, scientifically the use of verifiable repeatable experiments to establish scientific theory, laws and facts would not work, for Asha is the Ordering Principle of the Universe. What, for example, makes water always freeze at the same temperature, under the same pressure and chemical composition. Thus it is also 'Precision'.

But Asha applies equally to the ethical, emotional, the mental and/or spiritual dimensions. In this sense it is best understood as Righteousness - that is what ought to be, what is right, what is correct. In another sense, it also stands for, Order and/or Truth. Even in this context Asha encompasses 'Precision', because it is doing what is Right, at the Right time, in the Right place, through the Right means and for achieving the Right results.
Ahura Mazda's relationship with Asha: The Gathas tell us that Ahura Mazda is the source of Asha (Song 9:3) and As 4:7, 8, 13, 21; 5:2, 9; 6:6; 7:6; 8:2, 4, 10,14, 16; 9:15, 17; 10:4, 6, 8 & 10; 11:9; 13:6, 9; 14:6, 7; 16:16) ha is also a part of His very own nature, His very own Essence.(Songs 1:8; 2:7;

It is pertinent to note here that in the Gathas, Zarathushtra shows us the relationship between Ahura Mazda and all His Essences, as well as the relationship between each of His Essences. What emerges is an exquisite Divine interwoven tapestry and one realizes that Ahura Mazda can only be understood through His essences.

As we gain an insight into this we discern that Asha which is an essential part of the Wise Lord may also be described as God's will, His Plan and His Justice; the tool with which in His Wisdom, Mazda promotes the Living World.

Righteousness or Truth? The relationship of Ahura Mazda and His Essences, makes it necessary for us to realize that in order to truly understand any given passage in the Gathas which refers to any one of the Essences, one must look very closely, to determine which is most fitting in the relevant context. This is one of the techniques that Zarathushtra uses to make us think reflectively about the Gathas and is one of the reasons it is a "Manthra", a thought-provoking message.

This, however, makes Gathic concepts hard to translate with any single word. It makes it necessary for Western readers, to be aware that when we translate Asha, or any other of God's Essences, by just one word, that word cannot be taken to mean exactly what it means in the west.

For example Asha is most closely Righteousness, but it is not Righteousness in the sense of the Bible, which defines it as, "right standing with God", although it includes this as a secondary meaning. Neither is Righteousness simply "Justice" in the strict western sense, although, justice is one of Asha's components, along with fairness, equity etc. Righteousness in the Gathas is what is fitting, what ought to be, the quality of being right, in whatever context.

That this is the more exact meaning of Asha has been argued and is not universally accepted. Many Western scholars based on Achaemenian era Greek renditions of Asha and on Sassanian era translations, prefer to use Truth as the main one word translation of Asha.

However, as Professor K. Irani has shown, while Truth is a secondary component of the meaning of Asha, it is not one of the main ones. For Truth is not always what is Righteous, nor does it always bring Righteous results. A little allegory by Professor Irani should make this abundantly clear:

A man fleeing for his life approaches a Mazdayasni, and asks to be hidden from his persecutors, whom he describes. The Mazdayasni, following the principles of Asha, hides the person to save his life. Shortly the persecutors, weapons ready, come to the Mazdayasni, and ask him: "Have you seen, such and such and do you know, where he is?" What should an Ashavan Mazdayasni (a Mazdayasni desirous of Asha) do? If he tells the truth the man will be killed. If he does not, he is lying and if Asha is Truth then he is violating Asha." Well, since Asha promotes that which is conducive to refreshing (improving) creation and achieving fulfillment, wholeness and or completeness, the Mazdayasni's duty is clear. It ´fits´ for him to lie and save the man's life. Under the life-threatening circumstances, it is what is Right; what ought to be.
Asha and other philosophies: Asha can also be understood in terms of other religious concepts. It is somewhat like the Tao, in that it rules and sustains the Cosmos, and it includes a Law of the Mean, which tends to balance things out. It is like Karma, in the sense that it includes a law of just returns. It is also, like Dharma, the way of right actions.

But it is not "the Absolute" as Tao is. It is rather an Essence of the absolute and fashioned by it. It differs from Karma in that it does not assign a "debt" for actions beyond one life time, but allows for independent circumstances, working through its law of the mean, to give each one, above and beyond just one life time, his just desserts.

Furthermore, Asha is not impersonal. It is loving and part of a Loving God and designer of the Cosmos. Thus it's unlike all three - Tao, Karma and Dharma. It also has some aspects that may be similar to the Torah, but it is not prescriptive, it is not really a law, it is more - "A Principle of Life.
Vohu Manah: The Good Mind & Aramaiti: Serenity

VOHU MANAH: Perhaps no concept is as consistently emphasized in the Gathas as the "Good Mind" or "Vohu Manah". It is an Essence of Ahura Mazda (like Asha and others), which can also be acquired and refined within Man.

It comes to a person who chooses "Spenta Mainyu"- the Progressive Mentality (way of thinking) in life, by seeking to examine the " things... ponder (reflect & meditate) with a bright (clear and unbiased) mind (and) …select either of the two discernments (mentalities)…" (Song 3:2).

Vohu Manah may best be described as the enlightenment which comes to a person, who like Zarathushtra, perceives the Super Wise Being, as the fashioner of Nature in all its magnificence. It is a mind capable of logical and precise thinking, with clarity of thought that is free from preconceptions, and is thereby able to perceive the goodness of the Creator. However, it is important to note that logic and rationality of thought are not the only requisites of Vohu Manah that Zarathushtra wants us to strive for. Vohu Manah is a mind that tempers rationality with benevolence. It is the mind that having perceived the utter innate goodness of God becomes benevolent; thinks for and of the good; and is committed to it.

This concept of Vohu Manah, as more than just good mind, is reinforced by linguistics as well. "Vohu" is a compound of "hu" meaning 'good' and "vo" an augmentative particle. Thus literally vohu means then "more than good". Moreover, a case could, and has been made for "vo" to be related to "van" meaning desiring of, loving etc. So even linguistically, Vohu Manah can be rendered as the mind, "which desires good"; which is benevolent. Since "good" in Mazdayasna is that which promotes the refreshing (improvement) of creation and the progress of the soul through, completeness (Haurvatat) and immortality (Ameretat) towards the "House of Song", and radiantly happy communion with God; we can conclude that Vohu Manah is also "the mind that desires communion with God." As with the other Essences of Ahura Mazda, Vohu Manah indwells in human beings, and can be acquired by Man as he chooses to think, speak and act in accordance with it.

It is a tool to get us to the final goal of this physical existence, and at the same time it is a part and very fiber of God's being. So it is one of the principal means for achieving the goal, and at the same time is part and parcel of that same goal, which is the Better Existence, "…where God dwells…"

In the Gathas, it is taught that God is worshipped by choosing to act in accordance to all the different Essences of His person. So when Man makes an informed choice of acting in accord with his Vohu Manah, he is indeed worshipping, venerating and praising God! God Himself, through His all-encompassing Goodness, transforms our minds into Vohu Manah, if we choose to seek Him through Spenta Mainyu. Once we have acquired it, we must constantly exercise our choices in accord with it. And as it grows in us, it helps us to discern Asha, and to conceive and promote Kshathra together with Asha and Aramaiti. It is thus an essential component in our journey on the path of Asha (Righteousness) to Haurvatat (Wholeness) and Ameretat (Immortality) and "Better Existence", which Zarathushtra has named the "House (or Dominion) of the Good Mind", where Ahura dwells.

The following are some of the ways Vohu Manah is used in the Gathas by Zarathushtra:

We should "…perform all…. actions based…on the wisdom of good mind…" (Song1: 1). We approach God "…through good mind…" (Song 1:2). We should be "…attuning…our…soul to good mind…" (Song 1:4).
When we are "…. realizing good mind to see righteousness…" (Song 1:5). We are "…asking God to come through good mind" (Song 1:6) "…asking righteousness for gifts of good mind…" (Song 1:7). God knows "…those whom…" are "… just and earnest in…good mind…" (Song1: 10).


Aramaiti is another pivotal concept in the Gathas. It is also an essential Essence of God - perhaps one that is the most difficult to comprehend, because it has varied translations. It has been translated as Piety, Devotion, Right-mindedness, all based on one possible linguistical root. It has also been translated as Serenity, Stability, Tranquility and Equanimity based on another one.
I am not a linguist, but having studied both arguments, and having seen the way the word is used in the Gathas, I have come to believe that its meaning is closer to the second set of definitions above (Serenity/Stability/Tranquility/Equanimity) because:
(a) Aramaiti is used as "Spenta" Aramaiti: meaning Progressive and Creative Aramaiti.
(b) Aramaiti helps in the establishing of Vohu Kshathra - The Good Dominion: A Way of Life and/or Social Order.

In my opinion a good case can be made for Serenity/Equanimity/Stability, for it is stability that is absolutely necessary, to the progress of both the social and personal aspects of this Good Dominion/Social Order/ Way of Life. In addition, Aramaiti includes the idea of perseverance (in the Gathas it is referred to as "steadfast") in thinking, speaking and doing what is right. Thus it is the link between Good Mind and Kshathra. It is what gives strength and vitality to the Good Mind's understanding of Kshathra.

In the Gathas, Kshathra is sometimes referred to as "Vohu Kshathra" (Good Dominion) and at other times it is referred to as "Kshathra Vairya" (Dominion of Choice). While Vohu Manah gives the 'vohu' (or benevolent) aspect to Kshathra, it is Aramaiti, which gives it its 'vairya' or choice aspect. Here are some verses from the Gathas, which show the way Zarathushtra used the Essence of Aramaiti:

Aramaiti "…promotes the unconquerable dominion (Kshathra) (Song 1:3).
It grants wishes (Song 1:7). The reward and aramaiti follow the invocation of righteousness (Song 4:4). It belongs to God (Song 4:9). It grants courage (Song 6:12).

Forsaking Aramaiti is to avoid the righteous (Song 7:9). It is the product of righteousness, and promotes steadfast strength (Song 7:11). It grants the blessings of a rich life of good mind. (Song 8:1). It helps to understand the laws of Divine intelligence (Song 8:6). It prevails in the "Sun Bathed Dominion" (Song 8:16). Actions in accord with Aramaiti, promote righteousness (Song 9:6).

It polishes words and deeds of the best religion (9:10). It comes to those to whom the divine religion is taught. (9:11). It is good working (10:4). It is used to praise and exalt God (10:10. Promotes the world (11:12). Accompanies righteousness to where God dwells (11:16).

God grants Wholeness (Haurvatat: Completeness, Fulfillment) and Immortality (Ameretat) through Aramaiti (12:1). Good words are deeds performed by Aramaiti (12:2).

God grants it to progressive persons (12:3). Its growth with Righteousness converts many a seeker (12:6).
Good rulers rule with understanding and actions of Aramaiti (13:5). Together with Righteousness, it brings peaceful dwelling and settlement through Kshathra (Dominion, Way of Life, Social Order or Sovereignty) (13:11).

The wrongful never hold Aramaiti to be their own (14:2). It links religion to Good Mind, through devotion and invocation. (14:5). Reverence comes through it (14:10).

Deeds done for the Dominion are dedicated to Aramaiti (16:1 & 2).
Righteousness is through Good Mind and through deeds that stem from Aramaiti (Song 16:20). We are called to work with the most progressive and munificent Aramaiti.
The Good Dominion of Choice, Wholeness and Immortality


In Zarathushtra's Gathas, each man and woman is urged to reach Ahura Mazda's perfection by imbibing His essences or attributes within himself and in his life. However, man's responsibility does not end with the betterment and growth of just himself. His is a collective responsibility. Apart from himself, he is also responsible for the promotion and establishment of a just, equitable and progressive social and political order around him, in society, in his country and in the world. In other words he must strive to establish Ahura Mazda's Kshathra - His Good Dominion of Choice.

The word Kshathra comes from a root meaning 'to settle', or 'better'; the power and or authority to settle and/or protect the settled persons. To understand the concept it is necessary to remember that Zarathushtra often compares the peaceful settler, to the aggressive nomad.

This is not simply a literal comparison. In reality, these two terms are used of the settled person who decides to settled down and live a productive life, to join society and to work towards its betterment. And conversely of the person, who refuses to be responsible, who selfishly seeks to maintain an unsettled life at the expense of others and who does not think of, or want to promote society and the well being of the world.

So what then is Kshathra? As an attribute of Mazda, Kshathra is God's Ideal Dominion, His sovereignty on earth, His infinite strength and benevolent power. In relation to Man, Kshathra is the ideal rule or authority that promotes or facilitates the achievement of Haurvatat and Ameretat (Wholeness and Immortality) by the greatest amount of God's creatures.

How can such an order be brought about? At an individual level, it is the power and the authority to harmonize one's thoughts, words and actions to Good Mind and Righteousness.
At a collective level it is a social order where Good Mind and Righteousness rule. It is built on the foundation of stability (Aramaiti). It is reflected in a government, whose representatives are freely chosen only for their Righteousness. When such men are elected, they become the rehabilitators of those who are oppressed in any way. It is the society that promotes the settled life. (This is the essence of the Ahunavar prayer).

Thus Kshathra is the Ideal Order - the Good and Benevolent Order of Choice: the Kingdom of God on Earth, or at the very least, the way in which God wishes us to live. The Divine version of this Order is the "House of Good Mind", or the "House of Song", where the Wise Lord dwells. Let us see how the Dominion is used in the Gathas:

Serenity (Aramaiti) promotes the unconquerable Dominion (Song 1:3). It is granted through Righteousness and Good Mind (Song 2:10). It is realized through Good Mind (Song 3:8) It also increased by Good Mind and is promoted by Righteousness (Song 4:6 & 16).

God grants it and the beneficent person works for its realization (Song 4:21 & 22). It belongs to the Good Mind and it promotes enlightenment (Song 6:5 & 10) In its Divine plane is gracious rewards and it is divine and powerful.

Promoters of Good Mind live in the Divine Dominion (Song 7:3). It is for protecting the oppressed (Song 7:5). God comes with Dominion at the final turn of creation (Song 8:6). Serenity prevails in it (Song 8:16). It is arranged through Good Mind (Song 9:6). God is the master of it (Song 9:9)

God establishes His principles through Dominion (Song 10:7). The granting of Wholeness & Immortality occurs in the Dominion (Song 10:10) It Promotes peace through Serenity (Song 13:11) Happy union with Righteousness is given by God in the Divine Dominion (Song 14:8)
The rewards of help and protection through Good Mind & Righteousness and the settled life will belong to whom they were promised through Dominion (Song 15:1-3). God is praised through Good Dominion (Song 15:4) Dominion is to be chosen, desired and prayed for (Song 16:1-2) Dominion provides the honest living oppressed with a better living (Song 17:9)


Haurvatat is the state of Wholeness, or Completeness, that is incrementally achieved by those who choose thoughts, words and deeds of Righteousness, with Good mind and Serenity, while also striving for the Good and Chosen Dominion. It is the goal of physical existence to achieve this full state of Wholeness; it is the prerequisite to Immortality and crossing the Chinvat Peretu (The Sorting Bridge) to the 'Better Existence', or 'The House of Songs'. It can be partially experienced during ones progress to its full achievement.

It is also the acquisition of all other Essences of God, for to achieve it, one must be indwelled by, and grow in Righteousness, Good Mind, Serenity, Benevolent Chosen Dominion and all other Essences of God, Seraosha, Ashi etc. When we, through Spenta (progressive) choices, Asha-like choices and thus Good choices, have completed ourselves to our full capabilities with the acquisition of God's Essences, then we acquire Immortality.

AMERETAT: IMMORTALITY: Literally, Ameretat means non-deathness, or the state of non-dying. This is universally translated as Immortality, but could be defined also as Eternal Life, and in my opinion, it is the state of the self, or soul, who crosses the Chinvat Peretu, attaining the Better Existence and does not have to reincarnate.

It is the state achieved by those who have fully acquired Wholeness, but it is also incremental in nature and thus it can be partially experienced before its full attainment.

It is the state that we shall enjoy to its fullest in the Better existence. It is in this Better Existence that we shall achieve the totality of All God's Essences. That is the Divine Dominion - The House of Good Mind, the House of Song, where God dwells.

Ameretat and Haurvatat are so often used together, that they have been referred to as twins. Wholeness is the final prerequisite for immortality. Only the Whole person, the person who is complete in and of itself, can achieve Ameretat, which guarantees a Better Existence after death. The following are some ways these two concepts are used in the Gathas:

Zarathushtra´s message leads to Wholeness & Immortality (Song 4.6). He who is a friend of God Wise is granted Wholeness and Immortality (Song 4.21). False deities deprive men of Immortality (Song 5.5)

Haurvatat and Ameretat are granted by God (Song 6.8). Deeds, words and venerations lead to them. (Song 7.1). They lead to God's splendor (Song 7.11). Those who hear the divine message shall have Wholeness & Immortality (Song 10.5). They are granted through Good Mind's doctrine (Song 16.7).
There are a couple more but these will do for now, I think :D

I've tried hard to grasp Zoroastrianism, but the big names really throw me. LOL Its like a Russian play. Too many characters, too many consonants.
The name Bendwa is being mentioned more than once in the Gathas.

Who was Bendwa, the "bad guy"? was he a real person who opposed Zoroaster?
Hi Ernest, and welcome to CR. :)

Good questions, too - how are you for discussion of Bendwa, Kiwimac? :)
What I need Ernest is some kind of reference to the Gathas, as I'm not at all familiar with the Bendwa references.

kiwimac said:
... thanks to the long, arduous and painstaking work of literally hundreds of scholars in the last 200 or so years
There is a curious set of facts about this scholarly work that I tripped across in some republished copies of the early translations. It has since proven hard to re-find the data on the internet but perhaps even this might prove useful. As some might have noted there is a curious relationship between Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Christianity. For example, and this is far from an exhaustive list, there is the role of Zoroastrianism in ancient Judaism with respect to the liberation of the Jewish peoples when the Persian Empire conquered the Babylonians. Then leaping way in time there is the "three wise men" who came to seek the King of the Jews, who all admit were Magi - followers of Zoroastrianism.

But the curious fact I would add to the mix is the curious syzygy of dates around the 1830-40's. In Christianity this was the time of prophesied return of Jesus - William Miller had worked out (from the 1820's or so) that Jesus might return in 1844.

Among the least know aspects of the date of 1844 is the fact that emediately in that period (say fall 1843 through April 1844) Eugene Burnhoff, a French linguist scholar, did two remarkable things - established that modern day Zoroastrianism is actually the same religion as the ancient religion of the Persians - and - the first modern translations of Buddhism into a western language (French) which then Thoreau translated into English in May 1844.

It's extremely hard to document these events today. The closest I can come on the internet is this citation ( ) which speak obliquely of certain publications. Another partial reference is here ( ) . Here ( ) is partial mention of some of his work on Zoroastrianism ("decoded the grammatical structure of this ancient language".)

1844 is also the point at which substantial Jewish presense in Palestine is measured from as it had been relatively illegal to be there (or at least own land) for Jews.

Interesting how Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and even Buddhism all touch the dates between 1830 and 1844.
Interesting how Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and even Buddhism all touch the dates between 1830 and 1844.
Perhaps more due to the greater accesibility of education to the masses those countries undergonig the process of Industrial Revolution, hence the sudden rise in so many different people claiming so many different interpretations of the classic passages.
I said:
Perhaps more due to the greater accesibility of education to the masses those countries undergonig the process of Industrial Revolution, hence the sudden rise in so many different people claiming so many different interpretations of the classic passages.

I would believe that of later years but in the earlier 1800's it was much more in the realm of singular effort. If I recall reading right Eugene Burnhoff had to go to Persia himself and investigate the columns still standing from the days of ancient Persia to compare them with the Zoroastrian scriptures he had. Once his announcement was made surely others followed and so he moved onto studying Buddhism....
Interesting how Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and even Buddhism all touch the dates between 1830 and 1844.
Don't you think it really relates to the authors suspecting it will happen in their lifetime? Everyone wants to have a ticket to the big event.