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Zarathushtra Venerating God and the Creation
And The Dead and Alive

Historical Figures

Jafarey, Dr. Ali Akbar

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Mankind has, history shows, venerated and honored gods, goddesses, God, spirits and the souls of the departed. This is performed in rituals and ceremonies, individually or led by minister/s in a congregational gathering. This has been the norm all through the ages.

Zarathushtra, the enlightened by Vohu Manah, adds a new feature. He sings:

The Wise God knows best
any person of mine for his or her veneration
done in accordance with righteousness.
I shall, on my part, venerate such persons,
passed away or living, by their names,
and shall lovingly encircle them.
(Gatha: Song 16.22)

What an honor, what a love and that too from what a personality!

Historically, Zarathushtra is the foremost in "venerating - yazâi" the living and that too by taking their names.

Let us look at the Song first. It is the 16th Song, "Vohu Khshathra Vairya - The Good Dominion of Choice." It speaks of the success of his Divine mission. The Good Religion is well established and spreading. King Vishtaspa, his family and courtiers have converted. Zarathushtra mentions a few of his closest companions by name - King Vishtaspa, Ferashaoshtra, Jamaspa, Madyoi-mâhâ Spitâma and then concludes the song with the above stanza.

Zarathushtra is paying tribute to the people promoting righteousness.  He says that Mazda Ahura knows best the good acts of veneration and service done according to precision and righteousness.  Zarathushtra, on his part, venerates all such persons, dead or alive, by mentioning their names and by lovingly embracing them.  What a touching scene to see a Master mentioning each of his followers, those who have passed away and those who are with him, by name, and then loving and encircling them!  Teacher venerating pupils! Only one like Zarathushtra could do it.

Whom did he mention by name? The Farvardin Yasht has the full list of the first converts and one or two generations more, a total of 261 men and women. The veneration is in reflective plural. "Yazamaidê," we venerate the righteous "Fravashi" of the righteous …(name of the person)… Each man and woman is venerated by his/her name. This is unprecedented. A List of the then dead and alive persons. It continues to be unprecedented.

It is not only the named persons who are "venerated - yazamaidê," but the righteous men and women - dead, alive, yet-to-born -- of the "homes, settlements, districts, and countries" of Iran, Turan, Sairima,Saini, Dahi, and the wide world. As if not enough, waters and plants, in fact "this earth, that sky, and all the good that exists within them."

And the Farvardin Yasht specifies its venerating persons by name and collectively by quoting the Gathic stanza: "Vîspanâm âonghâm ashaonâm ashaoninâm idha yazamaidê fravashîm yaêshâm nô ahurô mazdâo ashava yêsnê paiti vanghô vaêdha - The Fravashi of all the righteous men and women whom  Righteous Ahura Mazda knows better for [their] veneration" ( stanza148)

All this is inspired by the Gathas. They are clear on this point that Nature should be seen, valued and venerated in its true perspective. The Haptanghaiti, the congregational prayers composed by Zarathushtra's close companion/s, is the foremost in this field. The term "yazamaidê" is seen for the first time in them. There the congregation "venerates" The Lord Wise. It also venerates the abstracts -- Best Righteousness, Good Mind, Good Conscience, Intellect, Good Felicity, Good Serenity, zeal, integrity, renovation, good reward, good aspiration, good invocation, good teaching, and good abundance. It venerates sky, earth, water, clouds and rain. It venerates, good men, good women. It venerates animals. While the Haptanghaiti has congregational prayers for venerating more good abstract qualities and virtues, its supplementary Song (Yasna 42) attends to venerating "water sources, water courses, water-shedding mountains, water-holding lakes, sea, road divergences, road convergences, barley fields, land and "all that is good." There are certain parts of the Later Avesta that are fully tuned with the Gathic texts and give more praises of God and the Creation.

The Gathas and their supplements inspire one to venerate God, respect the Good Principles and Virtues, honor men and women, and value every element of our natural environment.

How different is the "yazamaidê" that is meaningfully chanted for God and God's Good Creation from those offered to imaginary deities and illusionary gods! One inspires and stimulates Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds, and the other instigates to turn to negativism in mind, speech and action.

Let us conclude by chanting the paraphrased version of the Gathic stanza (16:22 = Yasna 51:22), the Yenghê Hâtâm prayer: "Yênghê hâtâm â-at yesnê paiti vanghô, Mazdâ Ahurô vaêthâ ashât hacâ yâonghâm-câ. Tâns-câ tâos-câ yazamaidê. -- Indeed Mazda Ahura, the Wise God, knows better any person among men and women for his or her veneration. We, on our part, venerate all such men

1 Based on a presentation given at the San Jose State University, Northern California on February 13, 2004.