Back Ashem Vohu

A Commentary on the Ashem Vohu formula.

THE PERSIAN RIVAYATS of Hormazyar Framarz And others

Ashem is what men themselves do and teach (other) men to practice. What is Ashem? Ashem is righteousness.
Who utters Ashem? That man utters it who has acquired the way of Spinamino and has left off the path of Ganamino.
Now, what are the ways of Spinamino and the ways of Ganamino? The way of Spinamino is the wish <1> Of Ohrmazd and it is the bright and fearless heaven and in like manner (it leads to) more fearless paths. The way of Ganamino is the wish of Ahriman and the demons and it is (full of) strength and gloom and in like manner (it leads to) more stinking (and fearful) ways. It is evident from the pure religion of the Mazdayasnians that a merit (would be acquired) by good deeds, and it is evident from the good Mazdayasnian religion that a sin (would arise) from criminality. In the religion, it is enjoined that every one ought to do what is manifest from the religion. I have said this so that you may understand it, accept it, learn it, and make it current in the world.
What is Vohu? Vohu is goodness.
Who utters Vohu? That person utters Vohu who is called the pious Zarathushtrotem, and the pious Zarathushtrotem is he who has the Avesta and the Zand by heart, <2> and sits down in company of the good and eats with the good and keeps himself afar and preserves separation from the vile so that whatever he utters is (of the merit of) a Yasna and whatever he eats is (of the merit of) a Myazd ceremony.
What is Vahishtem? It is what is nobler and higher.
Who utters Vahishtem? He utters Vahishtem who possesses these three things -- humata, hukhta, hvarshta, and leaves off these three things -- dushmata, duzhukhta, duzhvarshta.
What are these humata, hukhta, hvarshta, and what are these dushmata, duzhukhta, and duzhvarshta?
Humata is good intention, that whereby they are steadfast on the religion. Hukhta is good speech and it is intercession for the pious. Hvarshta is a good deed, (e.g.) they must keep well and in proper order water and fire and observe precautions for them (so that they may not be polluted) and (should show) perfect humility towards the creatures of Ohrmazd, i.e., he is perfectly humble, who does not do to any one what he does not like to be done to himself.
(What is) dushmat? It is this: Those who are most ignorant of the religion -- who do not rely on it. Duzhukht is this: To cause affliction to those who are pious, to ridicule them, to rob them of their things and strike them. Duzhvarst is unfaithfulness, i.e., they do not take proper precautions for water and fire and do not keep them well so that the whole creation of Ohrmazd is scorned by him i.e., it is afflicted. What is arrogance (or, not submitting to authority)? Not submitting to authority is this that one does unto others what one oneself does not like.
What is Asti? It is lending one's ears to anyone.
Who utters Asti? That person utters asti, who listens to what the good say and counsels for what has his thoughts, words, and deeds set right with the good. Whatever he knows of, he says: 'I do not know it.' Whatever he does, he does well and tells everyone to practice beneficence, charity, and generosity because munificence and charity are the best of all deeds.
What is ushta? Ushta is fearlessness.
who has nothing to fear from his behavious in this world and from bad and wicked men and the vile, and in the other world from Ahriman and the demons and whatever resembles them.
What is ahmâi? Ahmâi is union with men in this world.
Who utters ahmâi? That person utters ahmâi who is devoid of trouble. Being devoid of trouble is this that he who is an inferior contracts friendship <3> with the superiors and the chiefs, <4> and be contented with what God has given him as daily bread. Whatever he eats and possesses must be done with moderation; and when he disengages himself from the (required) quantity, <5> that is, if there is any excess, he should give it to the good and the worthy, so that whatever he utters may be like the Yasna and whatever he eats may be like the Myazd ceremony; and (it would be like) the wealth (acquired) for one's body and for one's soul, because if one keeps away (this wealth) for the body from the body and for the soul, away from the soul, he cannot pass the Chinwad Bridge.
What is hyad? Hyad is sovereignty.
Who utters hyad? That person utters hyad who sustains the sovereignty of the king for the spread of the religion and acquires wealth for the assistance of the king of the world, who is beneficent in this world and who takes things from men (in the shape of taxes) as much as he wants; moreover, he does not molest his own body, and keeps away from punishment from his soul, and keeps men fearless. This much is permissible for him in the good religion.
What is ashâi? Ashâi is charity.
Who utters ashâi? That person utters ashâi who converses with the generous and radiant Ohrmazd. Generous is he whose house the good often frequent; he serves them and keeps them well as best he can and is charitable. Radiant is he who goes to the good and carries them to his house, folds his arms before them and says, "Drink the nectar with goodness, and live with joy and delight," and they return (home) again with comfort and joy.
What is vahishtâi? Vahishtâi is paradise.
Who utters vahishtâi? He utters vahishtâi who keeps his thoughts, words, and deeds set right with the good and with all the people of the world and observes the religious laws with the permission of the Dasturs. He should not be at variance <6> with any and it is necessary that he should be pure and clean.