Mainyu is the self-revealing activity of Ahura Mazda. Zarathushtra solves
the problem of reconciling the unchangeable nature of Ahura Mazda with the
world of change by postulating a principle that intervenes between the
unmoved mover and the moved. This working medium of Ahura Mazda spans the
chasm between the super-sensuous and the sensuous. He brings the
transcendence and immanence of Ahura Mazda into a synthesis. Ahura Mazda
is neither completely separated nor completely merged in the world. He is
the primordial, self-existing being. In his infinite goodness he wills
the creation of the universe. Both heavenly and earthly existence lived
with him and in him as idealized contents of his being. The projection or
manifestation of his creative will and thought is his active working
principle Spenta Mainyu, the Holy Spirit. Spenta Mainyu is as old as
Ahura Mazda, for he ever was in Ahura Mazda and with Ahura Mazda. Though
he is thus partly Ahura Mazda in his manifestation as the working self of
Ahura Mazda, he is different from Ahura Mazda. Still he is not an entity
or personality. Ahura Mazda is the greatest spiritual personality.
Spenta Mainyu is his image, his replica. He represents the creative
attribute of Ahura Mazda in his relation to the created world.
Spenta Mainyu symbolizes the ideal or perfect
existence as conceived in thought of Ahura Mazda. The materialization of
the divine thought in creation spells imperfection and Spenta Mainyu is
shadowed by his inseparable opposite. These two primeval spirits that are
spoken of as twins, emerged from divine bosom and by their innate choice
appeared as the better and the bad in thought, word, and deed (Ys.30.3).
He, the most Holy Spirit, chose righteousness and he who is called the
Evil Spirit wooed the worst as his sphere of action (Ys.30.5). The better
one of the two spirits told the evil one that they were by nature opposed
to each other in their thoughts and teachings, understandings and beliefs,
words and deeds, selves and souls, and in nothing could they ever meet
(Ys.45.2). When the two first came together in the world, they created
life and non-life and established the law of reward and retribution for
mankind, that the righteous will reap, at the end of existence the weal of
Best Thought and the wicked the woe of the Worst Existence (Ys.30.4).
The Gāthās variously speak of Spenta Mainyu,
either as the attribute of Ahura Mazda, his vicegerent, his co-worker, or
as identified with him or as distinct from him. It is through Spenta
Mainyu that Ahura Mazda creates cattle and water and plants and all that
exist (Ys.44.7; 47.3; 51.7). Ahura Mazda is asked to give ear to man’s
invocation through Spenta Mainyu (Ys.45.6), and give strength through him
(Ys.33.12). Through him does Aura Mazda give perfection and immortality
unto the pious that lives a righteous and devoted life of best thoughts,
words, and deeds (Ys. 47.1). Ahura Mazda is implored to teach by his own
mouth on behalf of his Spirit how the world fist came into being
(Ys.28.11). It is through his Spirit that Ahura Mazda furthers his
blessed realms (Ys.31.7). He gives the best unto the righteous through
Spenta Mainyu (Ys.47.5). Zarathushtra asks Ahura Mazda what award will he
make unto the believers and the non-believers through his Spirit (Ys.
31.3: 47.6). Mazda will come at the final disposition with Spenta Mainyu
(Ys.43.6). Through him does one win felicity of paradise (Ys.43.2). The
devout seek to be acquainted with the works of Spenta Mainyu (Ys.28.1).
The Spirit knows the attitude of the false speaker and the true speaker,
the wise and the unwise as they are led by the promptings of their heart
and mind (Ys.31.12). Spenta Minyu is the friend of all and he protects
them through righteousness in both the worlds from transgressions (Ys.
44.2). It is the wicked that are hurt by him (Ys.47.4). Spenta Mainyu or
the Holy Spirit is sometimes spoken of as the Good Spirit (Ys.45.5) or the
Best Spirit (Ys.33.6), or the Most Holy Spirit (47.2). This superlative
title, the most Holy Spirit, is sometimes applied to Ahura Mazda himself (Ys.
33.12; 43.2; 45.5; 51.7). It is also used for Spenta Mainyu as apart from
Ahura Mazda. For example, Zarathushtra tells Ahura Mazda that he chooses
his Most Holy Spirit for himself (Ys. 43.16). The Most Holy Spirit, the
one who stands in opposition to his evil twin brother, dons the massive
heavens for his garment. (Ys.30.5).
Reproduced from the Nov.-Dec. 2003 issue of USHAO educational bulletin
by Virasp Mehta, Wichita, Kansas