MAH MEHER, FASAL SAL 1370,
SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER
Panchanam ahmi, panchanam noit ahmi.
Humatahe ahmi, dushmatahe noit ahmi, hukhtahe ahmi, duzukhtahe noit ahmi.
Hvarshtahe ahmi, duzvarshtahe noit ahmi.
Sraoshahe ahmi,asrushtoish noit ahmi.
Ashano ahmi, dravato noit
ahmi, atchit ahmat yatha apemem manivao anghat nivaitish.
To five I belong to five others, I do not. Of good thoughts I am, of evil thoughts I am not, of good words I am, of evil words I am not, of good deeds I am, of evil deeds I am not. Believer I am, an unbeliever I am not.
Righteous I am, wicked I am not. Consequently this struggle of two mentalities (good and evil) in this manner will exist up-to the end.
VOHU MANAH: THE PRECIOUS
GIFT OF MAZDA
Ervad Dr. Jehan
It was the
pioneering work of Rene Descartes, in recent history that inseminated the
two-substance view of duality of mind and body. In the years that followed this
basic concept fell short of answering the questions raised by rationalistic
school of the Europe and Britain. With time however, the notion lost its
importance. Mind and matter came to be regarded a complexes of a common theme,
that are only structured differently. Spinoza rejected the Cartesian view in
favor of the idea that mind and matter are finite entities of the single
infinite substance God that is the universal essence or nature of everything
that exists. These modern day philosophers were sadly thinking in vacuum outside
the context of the theological thought that preceded them several millennia
A question we
need to address at the outset is, what is the difference between Mind and
spirit? Referring to the Vedic And Avestan vocabulary, one readily finds that
mind and spirit are varying interpretations of the words, philologically arising
out of the same basic root Man –to think. For instance Manah,
Mainyu and Manthran are interpreted as mind and mentality and a
thinker or a thought-provoker. While Holy Manthra are the Holy words of the
scripture. In contrast, ‘Mainyava’, ‘Menog’ and ‘Minoi’, are linguistic
variations of what we understand as Spiritual World. It is thus clear that mind
and spirit are interchangeable expressions, depending upon the context of their
use, in human experiences.
What is mind
or spirit? Is it possible to explain this invisible yet palpable entity? Modern
science has attempted to explain this entity in terms of objective phenomena
that can be quantified and measured. In their efforts to explain Mind in terms
of biology, and neurology, the professional have simply uncovered their
limitations. Little worth reading has been written about
Human Mind and
its attributes such as will, imagination and thought, are mystical entities that
cannot be apprehended by senses. They are beyond the bounds of the physical
sciences and senses. They clearly fall into the spiritual domain of
abstractions. It is for the same reason that telepathy, clairvoyance and other
forms of extra sensory perceptions have failed acceptance as pure sciences,
because they are at the outer fringes of physical perception, in the gray area
between the physical and the spiritual.
The importance of Mind and Divine Spirit was recognized by the spiritual thinkers of the ancient times, going back more than 4000 years. The early Hindu scriptures not only speak of the importance of Mind, but also the Hindu Gathic scholars recognize Zarathushtra as the earliest reformer of the Aryan Race. Writings of Bhagvad Geeta that forms a part of Mahabharat were strongly influenced by the teachings of Zarathushtra. They speak of meditative practice of introspection through fixation of the Mind on ones Self (1). It is through the practice of communion with the Divine, that reveals the path of Righteousness (2).
Asho Zarathushtra for the first time in the history of mankind recognized that the thought process of humanity must be Good and Righteous, to be synchronous, with that of his God –Ahura Mazda. This is the principle on which, rests the edifice of the Bounteous Immortals – ‘Amesha Spenta’. The foundation stone, of this pyramid structure, is ‘Vohu Manah’ the Good Mind. Many astute academicians have filled pages, with the writings of what Zarathushtra says in the Gathas about ‘Vohu Manah’.
The fundamental question is how does an average human meet the challenge, to keep the mind GOOD in its ideal state. How can humanity maintain the GOODNESS of this precious gift of Mazda, in this physical world full of imperfections.
For it is only through Good Mind that human beings can recognize that immensely complex concept of ‘Asha’. That is the Will of Ahura Mazda.
For only through recognition of ‘Asha’ that humans can transform, the evil in this ‘Geti’ world to good, and bring forth the Divine rule – Khshthra Vairya.
This Divinely ordained Thinker preaches us, that “Spiritual life-breath implanted by the Creator in the physical human frame, provides intellect and ability to innovate in life. The Wise Lord also grants them the Freedom of expression”(Ys.31.11)
Let us pause here, to understand the message. If we understand Ahura Mazda as the ‘Supreme Intellect’, the Wise Lord, the interpretation that “the Creator has provided intellect and ability of conception” clearly conveys to us that God has gifted the humanity with a part of His Self. To put in simple terms, the Divine essence of God is within us. We have obligation to learn to recognize that innate Divinity. For only through recognition of the Divine within that humans can ascend to the next step of the pyramid to relate to the Divinity in the Universe, and get in closer proximity with God. In that sense, human body is the abode of Divinity. This clearly imposes heavy accountability to keep this House of Divinity Pure and Good and the place to start is the HUMAN MIND.
So how can one start to keep the Mind good.To keep it free from contamination and flaws of this imperfect world Asho Zarthusht elaborates several attributes of that personification of Wisdom, we know as Ahura Mazda. One of these characteristics is Spenta Armaiti.
The concept of Aramaiti interpreted by philologists is devotion, serenity or tranquility (3) Dinkert explains this abstraction as the “Will or Complete Mindfulness”(4) Humbach refers to it as Right-Mindedness (5) In Simple terms Spenta Aramaiti is the Holy peaceful state of Mind that promotes devotion and piety, in the compassionate thinking of prayers in words and in actions, This attribute is best integrated in daily life, by communion with a peaceful mind through invocations. It is only in this tranquil state, that the Human Spirit can be free of the fetters of material and carnal instincts. This is the state that preserves ‘Vohu Manah’, in its ideal form –Good – to permit the spiritual manifestation, of the recognition of the innate Divinity.
This is the state of Mind that harmonizes:
The Human mentality with the ‘Spenta Mainyu’, the Holy Mentality,
The Human will with the will of God.
Asho Zarathushtra in his quest for piety proclaims:
Ys. 28.3 “I shall praise the Wise Lord and those for whom Aramaiti promotes the Divine dominion”.
Ys. 32.2 “We have chosen your Spenta Aramaiti, May it be ours”.
Ys. 34.9 “The evil ones lack the Good Mind for they have abandoned Spenta Aramaiti”.
Ys. 34.10 “The Spenta Armaiti is the companion and at the root of Righteousness”.
Ys 34.11 “The Holy Aramaity promotes the Good Mind and Asha that results in Wholeness and Immortality that serves the Wise Lord”.
Ys. 47.1 “The Wise One in rule is the Lord through Aramaiti.”
These are just a few of the Gathic expressions that clearly demonstrates, that Good thinking can only proceed from a mind where Holy Aramaiti prevails. That is the attribute that permits one to commune with, to perceive, the innate Divinity and relate with the omnipresence of Ahura Mazda without. This oneness of the spiritual with the physical can only become evident, through the Benevolence of ‘Vohu Manah’.
It is in the recognition of this attunement, that ‘Vohu Manah’ reveals the Path of ‘Asha’ that unlocks the door to ‘Khshthra Vairya’-- the Divine Rule – in this Getic world.
(The bracketed numbers in the text, correspond to the references)
(1) Bhagvad Geeta.6.25: (2) Bhagvad Geeta 18.33: (3) Farhang Meher, ‘The
Zoroastrian Tradition’ page 27: (4) Dinkert, Bk IX Ch. 12.25, 31.17 43.2, 60.4:
(5) Humbach/Ichaporia, The Heritage of Zarathushtra, pg
HEROINES OF ANCIENT IRAN
The Marchioness of Winchester
SHAHRINAZ & ARNAWAZ
Of the many evils perpetrated by Zahhak, the “Dragon King”, one of the most dastardly was his seizure of the two beautiful princess, Shahrinaz and Arnawaz, sisters of Jamishid, the great Persian monarch, whom he had overthrown and subsequently put to death. In the Avesta, or Sacred Book of the Parsis, we find them alluded to as a captives of the monster Azhi Dahaka, or Zahhak. We are told in the ‘Ardvi Sura Yasht’ that Faridun, before setting out to conquer Zahhak, invoked the aid of ‘Ardvi Sura Anahita’, the Goddess of Waters. The prayer from Avesta, is here quoted in translation:
“Grant me this boon, O good, most beneficent Ardvi Sura Anahita! That I may overcome Azhi Dahaka, the triple-jawed, the six-eyed. And that I may deliver his two wives, Savanghavach and Arenavach, who are the fairest of body amongst women, and the most wonderful creatures in the world” *
We are already acquainted with something of Zahhak’s history. The preceding chapter narrates briefly his dream, his consultation with the astrologers, and also Faridun’s determination to wreak vengeance upon him for having killed his father, Abtin and his nurse, the beautiful cow Birmaya; how the long-suffering people of Iran, under the leadership of Kawa, the blacksmith rose in revolt and sought out Faridun, who joined them readily.
the name of God, the courageous youth, with his followers, rode forth to seek
the palace of Zahhak. All day they pressed on. When night fell they tarried a
while to rest. That night Faridun saw, as it were in a dream, an apparition, a
fair and nymph-like maiden, who informed him as to the exact position of
Zahhak’s apartments and disappeared. Faridun woke up from his slumber,
fell upon his knees and praised God, seeking His divine
The following day saw their progress impeded by the river Dijla in Baghdad. Faridun commanded the guard to bring forth boats that he and his army might be borne across; but the guard refused, having received orders from the King to allow no one a boat who could not present a passport. Whereupon, the intrepid youth plunged into the stream, and his comrades, fired by his valiant example, followed suit. Those plucky warriors from the land of Iran urged on their steeds, battling with the tide until triumphant, their spirits at least un-damped, they landed upon the opposite bank and proceeded once more in the direction of Zahhak’s palace.
It rose before them—a magnificent edifice designed surely to foster happiness and virtue, its fair portals giving no indication of the foul and diabolical secrets it contained. High above the entrance they perceived the talisman Zahhak had placed there. Thinking to draw evil for him self. Faridun approached boldly and hurled it to the ground, then hoisting his own mace marched into the palace and made straight for the royal apartments. But, although he searched diligently, he failed to discover any trace of Zahhak.
He came, however, upon two women, the fairest by far he had ever set eyes on. Moved by their sorrow and terror-stricken countenances, he questioned them as to the cause of their grief, and discovered them to be the ill-fated Jamshid’s sisters, whom he had come to deliver. These fair ones learning his name and purpose embraced him with tears of joy and gave him their blessings. In response to Faridun’s inquiry as to the whereabouts of the wicked King, they informed him that he had fled towards Hindustan, Consumed with terror by his dream of Faridun, which forever haunted him, he had sought solace in an orgy of slaughter, bathing himself in the blood of his victims. By such form of sorcery he had hoped to avert the calamity.
Meanwhile, news reached Zahhak of Faridun’s invasion of his Babylonian kingdom. In a blind rage he hurried back from Hindustan. Employing a lasso, he climbed to the roof where by dint of skilful manoeuvring he was able to obtain a view of the royal apartments. Goaded to fury by the spectacle of his two wives with Faridu seated in their midst, he unsheathed his dagger and crept stealthily in. But Faridun was ready for him. No sooner had his feet touched the carpet than he was seized and completely overpowered. Faridun then bound his limbs securely, bore him to a deep and lonely chasm far away in the mountains and there left him to perish.
Thus ended the reign of terrible and loathsome ruler, and the throne passed to Faridun, the brave and good, who won in marriage the two beauteous dames he had so gallantly rescued. Shahrinaz became the mother of Salem and Tur, the famous princes, and Arnawaz the mother of Iraj, the future King of Iran.
*Yasht 5.34: The first
Western scholar to point out the identity of these two heroines, in the Shahnama
and in the Avesta was
A RELIGIOUS LEADER
Ratu is the only term for a religious leader used in the Gathas of Zarathushtra. It is used five times in the Gathas and approximately forty times in the later Avesta. It is derived from ‘eret’ meaning ‘to do right’. It means the righteous leader, a good guide, worthy of being chosen to teach and lead. He or she is a religious teacher ‘daeno-sach’ whose actions promote the living world. Age and sex did not matter. Righteous record was the criterion of competence.
There are two kinds of missionaries. Those who inspire people through actions and those who conspire to convince and proselytize.
Examples of the first are people like Albert Schweitzer and Mother Teresa and Mahtma Gandhi. These missionaries are so grounded in their beliefs that they have no need to convince or convert another. They fully know what they are and what they are here to do. Paradoxically, as a result they inspire others to find out more, and eventually convert people into their way of living. Whether there is an overt declaration of that belief and whether there is an adoption of a particular set of dogma is quite irrelevant and immaterial.
The second kind of missionary is of a different breed. Their mission comes not from their faith, but from their doubt. They have the psychological need to convince others, because they themselves are not convinced of their belief.
Let us face it. If another person walks up to us and proclaims that there is no such thing as “air” or “atmosphere”. None of us actually breath air in or out, do we start arguing with them? The chances are that faced with such a one, we would simply nod our head and say, “Very well, thank you for your information.” Why do we not argue with them? Do we know for a fact that there is air? Are we sure that what we experience as inhalation and exhalation is the taking in of air? Or could it be something else? Or perhaps it is the motion that gives us the energy that we need, not the oxygen?
I am not here to argue for the non-existence of air. My point is that our conviction and belief in the existence of air is so strong that we never find ourselves have any urge to ague about it.
On the other hand, if a physicist comes and starts talking about a new form of quantum theory, those among us who are knowledgeable about this matter, may start discussing and perhaps arguing. The reason they are open to discussion is because their belief in the existing theory is not unshakable. There is a room for doubt and change. After a while, however, should the discussion take the form of an argument, then what it actually displays is a form of doubt on the part of the both the sides of the argument. The stronger the doubt, the stronger the need to convince the other. It is as if by convincing the other we convince ourselves.
And there is always the psychological aspect of finding security in numbers. If I can convert a thousand people, then I must be doing something right. And if I convert a million, then I am definitely on the side of the right. How can one million people change their minds unless what they are embracing is right? But the fact is no number will bring the conviction that I lack. Security can be provided in numbers, but doubt cannot dissolve.
So every time I come across a missionary who is preaching to me a way that I should embrace, I smile and ask myself, “Do I have the urge to argue with this person? And if yes, what aspect of the discussion is the part that I find distasteful. Because that is where my own doubt lies.”
missionary is all about action and living in accord with his or her belief. A
doubting missionary is only concerned with changing another person’s
THE GOD HEAD
Beheram S.H.J. Rustomjee
As Ruskin boasted that he could foretell the character of a man from the things he held in highest reverence so also we judge the grandeur and glory of its highest entity – its God Head.
Zarathshtra, the great reformer, broke away almost entirely from all ideas extant before the Gathic period and offered in fact something quite new. He got rid of the plurality in which the God Head had been split up by the popular belief, and elevated himself to the perception of the divine unity, which pervades nature in manifold ways. This perception of the Divine Unity was the inevitable conclusion to the questioning of one like Zarathshtra.
He saw all around him chaos and disorder. He found his countrymen content to plunder and loot their neighbor’s goods. There was no settled life. While as he gazed at the distant luminous stars and the surrounding heights, his soul was aroused by tinkling bells of harmony which, pervades nature. He realized that if there be any kind of system in nature that system could only be maintained by One Supreme Master.
His concept of the Master is most beautiful. He is a “Bounteous Spirit” governing the whole creation by means of wisdom and Good Mind. His designation “Ahura Mazda” which, is interpreted as the All Wise Creator needs no commendation. To trust in Him, in times of doubt and difficulty, pain and sorrow, --nay the very utterance of His name –would act as a soothing balm as believed by our Lord. Though Ahura Mazda is a friend of all, he is also a taskmaster. He is just and distributes to each Happiness in proportion to his goodness.
(Source: ‘The Teachings of
Zarathushtra’ by the
FARISHTA DINSHAW AT 7th W.Z.C.
Farishta Dinshaw found it most satisfying to see a young mind develop ability to reason rather than accept what is handed out or taught by rote. For her paper she had involved 14-16 students of Mama Parsi Girls’ Secondary School of Karachi, by requesting their views on “ where we came from and where we are today”, by way of drawings. The journey commenced from pre-Zarthushtrian time as how he reasoned that various gods the people worshipped were actually natural ebb and flow of nature and that there was actually one God Ahura Mazda, the All Wise.
Life in the Achamenian and Sasanian dynasties were portrayed, followed by the Arab conquest, revival and the growth in the British India and Zarathushties of today. Future was perceived in the space because the world would be too polluted and people would travel in space with fabrics made of chemicals and genetic clones.
concluded that even if people of the future did not live or looked like us in
outward manifestation but, if they upheld the beliefs of Zarathushtra’s message in
their heart and mind and became responsible for their actions, then Zarathushtra’s message will
live for ever! And so be it. (Source: HAMAZOR – Spring
There are two ways of
spreading light. To be the candle or the mirror that receives it. (Edith
Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to
Our minds are like
parachutes, they function when they are open.
Blessed are the Flexibles; for they shall never be bent out of shape.