Avesta -- Zoroastrian Archives Contents Prev dhalla1 Next Glossary

M.N. Dhalla: History of Zoroastrianism (1938)

NOTE: This text is also available as epub and pdf documents.

Dastur Dhalla was high priest of the Parsis as well as a trained scholar. In this popular book he assembles quotations found throughout Zoroastrian literature. Presented chronologically according to the source literature, they present the story of a religion in evolution. This approach has its disadvantages and its critics. One disadvantage in my opinion is that it tends to present an exaggerated view of the differences which appear in the literature. It is quite possible to provide a much more homogeneous view of these elements. Another disadvantage of Dhalla's approach is that it necessitates a fair amount of interpolation to present a continuous view, which is subject to more speculation. Even so, Dastur Dhalla was uniquely qualified for the task, and I am pleased to make this valuable book available in this electronic edition.

Note: I have added terms in square brackets [] to facilitate searches consistent with other texts on this web site. I have also expanded some of the citations, again in square brackets []. Page numbers are also in square brackets, and appear in this font. All of the page numbers have anchor tags, so can be referenced individually, for example, http://www.avesta.org/dhalla/dhalla1.htm#p30. Likewise, the chapters can be referenced, for example, http://www.avesta.org/dhalla/dhalla1.htm#chap3. Obvious typos have been silently corrected.

Please let me know if you find any typos, or have suggestions for improving this e-text or web site. Thanks. -JHP, May 2003.

History of Zoroastrianism



High Priest of the Parsis, Karachi, India
Nyaishes or Zoroastrian Litanies, Zoroastrian Theology, Zoroastrian Civilization, Our Perfecting World -- Zarathushtra's Way of Life

idha apãm vijasâiti
vanghuhi daena mâzdayasnaish
vispâish avi karshvãn yâish hapta.

"Henceforth from now may spread
The Good Mazdayasnian Religion
Over all the zones that are seven."



Copyright, 1938,


at hvo vangheush vahyo nâ aibijamyât
ye nâo erezush savangho patho sîshoit
ahyâ angheush astvato mananghaschâ
haithyeng âstîsh yeng â shaetî ahuro
aredro thwâvãns huzentushe spento mazdâ.

"May that man attain to better than the good
Who helps teaching us the upright paths of blessedness
Of this material world and that of the spirit
-- The veritable universe wherein pervades Ahura --
That faithful, wise, and holy man is like unto thee, O Mazda."
                       - Zarathushtra




From the earliest times to about 1000 B.C.


The data of information -- The Avestan Nasks -- The Pahlavi, Pazend and Persian sources -- Parsi-Sanskrit and Gujarati sources -- Oriental sources -- Occidental sources -- Inscriptions, coins and tablets as the last source of information.

The Stem-land of the Aryans -- The Indo-Europeans -- The Indo-Iranians.


About 1000 B.C.

Zarathushtra doubts to know -- Zarathushtra seeks silent, solitary seclusion -- Zarathushtra yearns to see Ahura Mazda -- Zarathushtra longs to commune with Ahura Mazda -- Zarathushtra is fined with an intense fervour of enthusiasm for prophetic work -- People marvel at the new prophet -- Zarathushtra definitely breaks with the religion of his forefathers -- The hostile Daevayasnian priests -- Friendless and forlorn, Zarathushtra flees to Ahura Mazda -- Zarathushtra's teachings win the ear of the royal court -- Zarathushtra's mission.

Gods in evolution.

Ahura Mazda is the name Zarathushtra gives to God -- Ahura Mazda is the Being par excellence -- The nature of Ahura Mazda -- The transcendental immanence of Ahura Mazda -- Ahura Mazda is the creator -- Ahura Mazda is the lord of wisdom -- Ahura Mazda is the law-giver and judge.

Spenta Mainyu is the self-revealing activity of Ahura Mazda.

Amesha Spentas in the making -- Vohu Manah -- The first in Ahura Mazda's creation -- Vohu Manah is Ahura Mazda's Good Thought.



From about 800 B.C. to about A.D. 200 at the latest



From the third to the ninth century



From the seventh to the eighteenth century



Nineteenth century and after




Aerpatastan.Translated from the Avesta-Pahlavi texts by S.J. Bulsara. Bombay, 1915.
Andarz-i Atarpat-i Maraspand. The Pahlavi text, edited and translated by Peshutan Dastur Behramji Sanjana. Bombay, 1885.
Andarz-i-Khusro-i-Kavatan. The Pahlavi text, edited and translated by Peshutan Dastur Behramji Sanjana; Bombay, 1885.
Anquetil du Perron. Zend-Avesta, Ouvrage de Zoroastre, contenant les Idées Theologiques, Physiques et Morales de ce Législateur, les Cérémonies du Culte Religieux qu'il a etabli, et plusieurs Traits Importants relatifs a l'ancienne Histoire des Perses. 3 vols. Paris, 1771.
Aogemadaecha. The Pazand and Sanskrit texts, edited and translated into German by Wilhelm Geiger. Erlangen, 1878.
Aogemadaecha.Translated into English by James Darmesteter. In Sacred Books of the East, Vol. 4, second edition.
Aogemadaecha.The Pahlavi Texts of, Edited by B. N. Dhabhar in Indo-Iranian Studies in honour of Dastur D. P. Sanjana, p.117-130. London, 1925.
Arda Viraf. The Pahlavi text, edited and translated by Hoshangji Jamaspji Asa, Martin Hang, and E. W. West. Bombay, 1872.
Arda Viraf Nameh.The Original Pahlavi Text with Persian version of Zartosht Behrain in verse, edited by Kaikhusru J. Jamasp Asa. Bombay, 1902
Avesta.The Sacred Books of the Parsis. Edited by Karl F. Geldner. Stuttgart, 1885-1896. (For Yt. 22-24 and the Avestan Fragments see N. L. Westergaard's Zendavesta, Copenhagen, 1852-1854.).
Avesta. Translated into French by C, de Harlez. Livre Sacré du Zoroastrisme. 2 éd. Paris, 1881.
Avesta. Translated into French by James Darmesteter. Le Zend-Avesta, 3 vols. Paris, 1892, 1893. (Annales du Musée Guimet, vols. 21, 22, 24).
Avesta.Translated into English by James Darmesteter and L. H. Mills. In Sacred Books of the East, vols, 4, 23, 31.
Avesta.Translated into German by Fritz Wolff. Strassburg, 1910. (For the German translation of the Gathas see Christian Bartholomae's Die Gatha's des Awesta, Strassburg; 1905. See also the English rendering of Bartholomae's German translation in Early Zoroastrianism by J. H. Moulton, London, 1913).
Avesta,Pahlavi, and Ancient Persian Studies in Honour of the late Shams-ul Ulama Dastur Peshotanji Behramji Sanjana. Strassburg, 1904.
Ayuso, F. G.Los pueblos Iranios y Zoroastro. Madrid, 1874.
Bahman Yasht.Translated from the Pahlavi text by E. W. West. In Sacred Books of the East, vol. 5.
Balsara, P. P.Ancient Iran. Its contribution to Human progress. Bombay, 1936.
Bartholomae, Christian.Altiranisches Wörterbuch. Strassburg, 1904.
Benveniste, Emile.the Persian Religion according to the chief Greek Texts. Paris, 1929.
Bharucha, Sheriarji D.A Brief Sketch of the Zoroastrian Religion and Customs. Bombay, 1893.
Bilimoria, N. F.Zoroastrianism in the Light of Theosophy. Bombay, 1896.
Böklen, E.Die Verwandtschaft der jüdisch-christlichen mit der parsischen Eschatologie. Göttingen, 1902.
Bousset, W.Die Religion des Judentums in neutestamentlichen Zeitalter. Berlin, 1903.
Bradke, P. von.Dyaus, Asura, Ahura Mazda. Halle, 1885.
Brodbeck, A.Zoroaster. Leipzig, 1893.
Buch, M. A.Zoroastrian Ethics. Baroda, 1919.
Bundahishn.Translated from the Pahlavi text by E. W. West. In Sacred Books of the East, vol. 5.
Bundahishn.An Untranslated Chapter of the Bundehesh. Edited and translated by Jivanji Jamshedji Modi, in Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Bombay, 1902.
Bundahishn.Edited by T. D. and B. T. Anklesaria. Bombay, 1908.
Cama Memorial Volume.Edited by J. J. Modi. Bombay, 1900.
Carter, G. W.Zoroastrianism and Judaism. Boston, 1918.
Casartelli, L. C.The Philosophy of the Mazdayasnian Religion under the Sassanids. Translated from the French by Firoz Jamaspji Jamasp Asa. Bombay, 1889.
Chatterjee, J. M.the Ethical Conceptions of the Gatha. Navsari, 1932.
Cheyne, T. K.Book of Psalms, its origin, and its relation to Zoroastrianism. In Semitic Studies in Memory of Rev. Dr. A. Kohut. Berlin, 1897.
Clemen, C.Fontes Historiae Religionis Persicae. Bonn, 1920.
Clemen, C.Die Griechischen und Lateinischen Nachrichten über die Persische Religion. Giessen, 1920.
Collected Sanskrit Writings of the Parsis.Part 1. Khorda-Avesta. Part 2. Ijisni. Part 3. Mainyoi Khard. Part 4. Skanda Gumani Gujara. Edited by Sheriarji D. Bharucha. Bombay, 1906-1913.
Cumont, Franz.Texts et monuments relatifs au culte de Mithra. 2 vols. Paris, 1893.
Cumont, Franz.The Mysteries of Mithra. Translated from the French by T. J. McCormack. Chicago, 1903.
Dabistan.Translated from the origina1 Persian by Shea and Troyer. 3 vols. Paris, 1843.
Dadachanji, F. K.Light of the Avesta and the Gathas. Bombay, 1913.
Dadistan-i Dinik.Translated from the Pahlavi text by E. W. West. In Sacred Books of the East, vol. 18.
Darmesteter, James.Haurvatat et Arneretat. In Bibliothèque de l'Ecole des Hautes Etudes, vol. 23. Paris, 1875.
Darmesteter, James.Ormazd et Ahriman. Paris, 1877.
Dastur, M. N.The Moral and Ethical Teachings of Zarathushtra. Bombay, 1928.
Dawson, M. M.The Ethical Religion of Zoroaster. New York, 1931
Desatir.Published by Mulla Firuz Bin Kaus. Persian and English. 2 vols. Bombay, 1818.
Dhalla, M. N.Zoroastrian Theology. New York, 1914.
Dina i Mainu i Khrat.Edited by Darab P. Sanjana. Bombay, 1895.
Dinkard.Books 3-9. Edited and translated from the Pahlavi text by Peshutan and Darab Sanjana. Vols. 1-19. Bombay. 1874-1919.
Dinkard.Books 7-9. Translated from the Pahlavi text by E. W. West. In Sacred Books of the East, vols. 37, 47.
Dinkard [Denkard].The Complete Text. Edited by D. M. Madan. 2 vols. Bombay, 1911.
Dinshaw, V.The Date and Country of Zarathushtra. Hyderabad (Deccan), 1912.
Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics.Edited by James Hastings. 12 vols. Edinburgh, 1908-1921.
Epistles of Manushchihar.Translated from the Pahlavi text by E. W. West. In Sacred Books of the East, vol. 18.
Firdausi.Le Livre des Rois, traduit et commente par Jules Mohl. 7 vols. Paris 1876-1878.
Firdausi.Translated into English by A. G. Warner and E. Warner. vols. 1-9. London, 1905-1925.
Fluegel, M.The Zend-Avesta and Eastern Religions. Baltimore, 1898.
Fox, W. S., and Pemberton, R. E. K.Passages in Greek and Latin Literature relating to Zoroaster and Zoroastrianism translated into English in the Journal of the K. R. Cama Oriental lnstitute, No.14. Bombay, 1929.
Ganj-i Shayigan.The Pahlavi text, edited and translated by Peshutan Dastur Behramji Sanjana, Bombay, 1885.
Gatha.Translated into English by J. M. Chatterjee. Navsari, 1933.
Gathas.Translated into English by K. E. Punegar. In the Journal of the K. R. Cama Oriental Institute, No. 12. Bombay, 1928.
Geiger, Bernhard.Die Amesha Spentas. Wien, 1916.
Geiger, Wilhelm.Civilization of the Eastern Iranians in Ancient Times. Translated from the German by Darab Dastur Peshutan Sanjana. 2 vols. London, 1885, 1886.
Geiger, W., and Windischmann, Fr.Zarathushtra in the Gathas and in the Greek and Roman Classics. Translated by Darab P. Sanjana. Leipzig, 1897.
Gottheil, R. J. H.References to Zoroaster in Syriac and Arabic Literature. In Classical Studies in Honour of Henry Drisler. New York, 1894.
Govindacharya, A.Mazdaism in the Light of Vishnuism. Mysore, 1913.
Gray, L. H.The Foundations of the Iranian Religions. Bombay, 1929.
Grundriss der Iranischen Philologie.Herausgegeben von W. Geiger und E. Kuhn. 2 vo1s. Strassburg, 1895-1904.
Hadokht Nask.The Pahlavi text, edited and translated by Hoshangji Jamaspji Asa, Martin Haug, and E. W. West. Bombay, 1872.
Harlez, C. de.Les Origines du Zoroastrisme. Paris, 1878, 1879.
Haug, Martin.Essays On the Sacred Language, Writings, and Religion of the Parsis. 3d ed. Edited and enlarged by E. W. West. London, 1884.
Henry, Victor,Le Parsisme. Paris, 1905.
Hertel, J.Indo-Iranische Quellen und Forschungen, Heft 1: Die Zeit Zoroasters. Leipzig, 1924.
Hertel, J.Die Himmelstore im Veda und Awesta. Leipzig, 1924.
Hertel, J.Achaemeniden und Kayaniden. Leipzig, 1924.
Hertel, J.Die Arische Feuerlehre. 1 Teil. Leipzig, 1925.
Hertel, J.Die Sonne und Mithra im Awesta. Leipzig, 1927.
Hodivala, S. K.Zarathushtra and His Contemporaries in the Rig Veda. Bombay, 1913.
Hodivala, S. K.Parsis of Ancient India. Bombay, 1920.
Hodivala, S. K.Indo-Iranian Religion with parallelisms in the Hindu and Zoroastrian Scriptures. Bombay, 1925.
Hoshang Memorial Volume.Bombay, 1918.
Hovelacque, A.L'Avesta, Zoroastre et le Mazdaisme. Paris, 1880.
Hyde, Thomas.Historia Religionis veterum Persarum eorumque Magorum. Oxford, 1700.
Indo-Iranian Studies.Being Commemorative Papers contributed by European, American and Indian Scholars in honor of Dastur Darab P. Sanjana. London, 1925.
Inostranzev, M.Iranian Influence on Moslem Literature. Translated by G. K. Nariman with Supplementary Appendices from Arabic Sources. Bombay, 1918.
Jackson, A. V. Williams.Zoroaster, the Prophet of Ancient Iran. New York, 1899.
Jackson, A. V, Williams.Die Iranische Religion. In Grundriss der Iranischen Philologie, vol. 2, p. 612-708. Strassburg, 1896-1904.
Jackson, A. V. Williams.Zoroastrian Studies. New York, 1928.
Jackson, A. V. Williams.Researches in Manichaeism. New York, 1932.
Jamaspi.Edited and translated from the Pahlavi-Pazand iexts by Jivanji Jamshedji Modi. Bombay, 1903.
Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy Madressa Jubilee Volume.Bombay, 1914.
Kapadia, S. A.The Teachings of Zoroaster and the Philosophy of the Parsi Religion. London, 1905.
Karaka, Dosabhai F.History of the Parsis. 2 vols. London, 1884.
King, L. W., and Thompson, R. C.The Sculptures and Inscriptions of Darius the Great on the Rock of Behistun in Persia: a new Collation of the Persian, Susian, and Babylonian Texts. London, 1907.
Kohut, Alexander.The Jewish Angelology and Demonology based upon Parsism. Translated from the German by K. R. Cama. Bombay, 1883.
Lazarus, M. E.The Zend-Avesta and Solar Religions. New York, 1852.
Lehmann, Edvard.Zarathushtra. Kobenhavn, 1899.
Lommel, Hermann.Die Religion Zarathushtras nach dem Avesta dargestellt. Tubingen, 1936.
Lord, Henry.The Religion of the Parsees. London, 1630.
Madan, D. M.Discourses on Iranian Literature. Bombay. 1909.
McNeile, H.The Avesta and the Bible. Bombay, 1905.
Meillet, A.Trois Conferences sur les Gathas de l'Avesta. Paris, 1925.
Menant, D.Les Parsis. Paris, 1898; tr. in English by M. M. Murzban, The Parsis of India. 2 vols. Bombay. 1917.
Menant, J.Zoroaster. Essai sur la Philosophte religieuse de la Perse. 2d ed. Paris, 1857.
Meyer. Edward.Geschichte des Alterthums. Stuttgart, 1884.
Mills, L. H.Zarathushtra and the Greeks. Leipzig. 1903. 1904.
Mills, L. H.Zarathushtra, Philo, the Achaemenids and Israel. Leipzip, 1905, 1906.
Mills, L. H.Avesta Eschatology compared with the Books of Daniel and Revelations. Chicago, 1908.
Mills, L. H.Our Own Religion in Ancient Persia. 1913.
Minu-i Khrat.Translated from the Pahlavi text by E. W. West. In Sacred Books of the East, vol. 24.
Mistri, R. H.Zoroaster and Zoroastrianism. Bombay, 1906.
Modi, Jivanji J.The Religious System of the Parsees. Bombay, 1885.
Modi, Jivanji J. The Parsis at the court of Akbat and Dastur Meherjee Rana. Bombay, 1903.
Modi, Jivanji J.A few events in the early history of the Parsis and their dates. Bombay, 1905.
Modi, J. J.The Religious Ceremonies and Customs of the Parsees. Bombay, 1922.
Modi Memorial Volume.Bombay, 1930.
Moffatt, J.Zoroastrianism and Primitive Christianity. In Hibbert Journal, 1903, p. 763-780; ibid, 1904, p. 347-359.
Moulton, James H.Early Religious Poetry of Persia. Cambridge, 1911.
Moulton, James H.Early Zoroastrianism. London, 1913.
Moulton, James H.The Teachings of Zarathushtra. Bombay, 1916.
Moulton, James H.The Treasure of the Magi. Oxford, 1917.
Namakiha-i Manushchihar.The Epistles of Manushchihar. Edited by B. N. Dhabhar. Bombay, 1912.
Neriosengh's Sanskrit Ubersetzung des Yasna.von F. Spiegel. Leipzig, 1861.
Nirangastan.Translated from the Avesta-Pahlavi text by S. J. Bulsara. Bombay, 1915.
Oriental Studies in honour of Cursetji Erachji Pavri.London, 1933.
Pahlavi Zend-i Vohuman Yasht.Edited by Kaikobad A. Nosherwan. Poona, 1899.
Pavri, Jal C.The Zoroastrian Doctrine of a Future Life. New York, 1926.
Pazend Texts.Collected and Collated by E. K. Antia. Bombay, 1909. Two Afrins, three Patits tr. into Eng. from Spiegel's German translation by A. H. B1eeck in Khordah Avesta Hertford, 1864. Seven Afrins, Sitayishes, and other Pazend prayers tr. into Gujarati by Phiroze E. Masani in Pazend Prayers Series Nos. 1, 2, 3. Bombay, 1916, 1920, 1931.
Ragozin, Z. A.Media. New York, 1888.
Rapp, A.The Religion and Customs of the Persians and other Iranians as described by the Grecian and Roman Authors. Translated from the German by K. R. Cama. Bombay, 1876-1879.
Rawlinson, George.The Five Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World, Chaldea, Assyria, Babylon, Media, and Persia. 4 vols. London, 1862-1867.
Rawlinson, George.The Sixth Great Oriental Monarchy. London, 1813.
Rawlinson, George.The Seventh Great Oriental Monarchy. London, 1816.
Reitzenstein, R.Das Iranische Erlösungsmysterium. Bonn, 1921.
Rezwi, T.Parsis: A People of the Book. Calcutta, 1928.
Rindtortr, E.Die Religion des Zarathushtra. Weimar, 1897.
Rivayat, Pahlavi, accompanying the Dadistan-i Dinik.Edited by B. N; Dhabhar. Bombay, 1913.
Rivayat, Persian of Darab Hormazyar.Edited by M. R. Unvala with an Introduction by J. J. Modi. 2 vols. Bombay, 1922.
Rivayat, Persian of Hormazyar Framarz and others.Their Version with Introduction and Notes by B. N. Dhabhar. Bombay, 1932.
Rosenberg, F.Le Livre de Zoroastre (Zaratusht-Nama) de Zartusht-i Bahram Pajdu. St. Petersburg, 1904.
Sad Dar.Translated from the Pahlavi-Pazand text by E. W. West. In Sacred Books of the East, vol. 24.
Sad Dar.Edited by B. N. Dhabhar. Bombay, 1909.
Sanjana, Darab P.Zarathushtra in the Gathas and the Greek and Roman Classics. Translated from the German of Geiger and Windischmann. Leipzig, 1897.
Sanjana, Rastamji E.Zarathushtra and Zarathushtrianism in the Avesta. Leipzig, 1906.
Sanjana, Rastamji E.The Parsi Book of Books, the Zend-Avesta. Bombay, 1924.
Sanjana, Rastamji E.Spiritualism through Zoroastrian Eyes. Bombay, 1929.
Scheftelowitz, I.Die altpersische Religion und das Judentum, Unterschiede, Übereinstimmungen und gegenseitige Beeinflussungen. Giessen, 1920.
Shah Namah.See Firdausi.
Shatroiha-i Airan.Translated from the Pahlavi text by Jivanji Jamshedji Modi. Bombay, 1899.
Shayast la-Shayast.Translated from the Pahlavi text by E. W. West. In Sacred Books of the East, vol. 5.
Shayast-ne-Shayast.Edited, transliterated, and translated by Jehangir C. Tavadia. Hamburg, 1930.
Shikand Gumanik Vijar.Translated from the Pahlavi-Pazand text by E. W. West. In Sacred Books of the East, vol. 24.
Söderblom, N.Les Fravashis. Paris, 1899.
Söderblom, N.La Vie Future d'après le Mazdeisme. Angers 1901.
Spiegel, Fr.Eranische Alterthumskunde. 3 vols. Leipzig, 1877, 1878.
Spiegel, Fr.Die Arische Periode. Leipzig, 1881.
Spiegel Memorial Volume.Edited by Jivanji Jamshedji Modi. Bombay, 1908.
Stave, E.Ueber den Einfluss des Parsismus auf das Judentum. Haarlem, 1898.
Tabari, al-.Geschichte der Perser und Araber zur Zeit der Sasaniden, aus der Arabischen Chronik des Tabari, von Theodor Nöldeke. Leiden, 1879.
Taraporewala, Irach, J. S.Some Aspects of the History of Zoroastrianism. Bombay, 1928.
Tiele, C. P.Geschichte der Religion im Altertum bis auf Alexander den Grossen. Deutsche autorisirte Ausgabe von G. Gehrich. 2 ter Band, Zweite Hälfte, Die Religion bei den iranischen Völkern. Gotha, 1903.
Tiele, C. P.The Religion of the Iranian Peoples. Translated from the German by G. K. Nariman. Part 1, Bombay, 1912. A considerable portion of Part 2 in Asha, vol; 1, Nos. 1, 2, 6,7, 9-12. Karachi, 1910, 1911.
Vendidad, Vispered, Yasna, Pahlavi Texts.Edited by F. Spiegel in Avesta Die Heiligen Schriften der Parsen. Wien, t853.
Vendidad.Pahlavi Text. Edited by Hoshang Jamasp. Bombay, 1907.
Vullers, J. A.Fragmente ueber die Religion des Zoroaster. Bonn, 1831.
Wadia, Ardaser S.The Message of Zoroaster. London, 1912.
Weissbach, F. H.Die Keilinschriften de Achämeniden. Leipzig, 1911.
Wesendonk, O. G. von.Urmench und Seele in der Iranischen Überlieferung. Hanover, 1924.
Wilson, John.The Parsi Religion. Bombay, 1843.
Windischmann, Fr.Die Persische Anahita oder Anaites. München, 1856.
Windischmann, Fr.Mithra. Leipzig, 1857.
Windischmann, Fr.Zoroastrische Studien. Berlin, 1863.
Yasht's des Awesta.Übersetzt und Eingeleitet. von Hermann Lommel. Göttingen, 1927.
Zand-i Khurtak Avistak.Pahlavi Text. Edited by B. N. Dhabhar. Bombay, 1927.
Zatsparam.Translated from the Pahlavi text by E. W. West. In Sacred Books of the East, vol. 5.



Aerpt.= Aerpatastan.
AF.= Arische Forschungen.
Air. Wb.= Altiranisches Wörterbuch (Bartholomae)
AnAtM.= Andarz-i Atarpat-i Maraspand.
AnKhK.= Andarz-i Khusru-i Kavatan.
Aog.= Aogemadaecha.
Artax. Pers.= inscriptions of Artaxerxes at Persepolis.
AthV.= Atharva Veda.
Av.= Avesta.
AV.= Arda Viraf.
AZ.= Afrin-i Zartusht.
Bd.= Bundahishn.
BH.= Behistan.
bk.= book.
BYt.= Pahlavi Bahman Yasht.
cf.= (confer), compare.
Dar. Alv.= inscriptions of Darius on Mt. Alvand (Elvend), near Hamadan.
Dar. Pers.= inscriptions of Darius at Persepolis.
Db.= Dabistan.
Dd.= Dadestan-i Denik.
Dk.= Denkard.
ed.= edition of, edited by.
Eng.= English.
EpM.= Epistles of Manushchihr.
ERE.= Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics (Hastings).
FHG.= Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum (Müller).
G.= Gah.
GIrPh.= Grundriss der Iranischen Philologie.
Gs.= Ganj-i Shayikan.
Guj.= Gujarati.
Hj.= Hajiabad.
Hn.= Hadokht Nask.
i.e.= (id est), that is.
ibid.= (ibidem), in the same work.
Is.= Isaiah.
Jsp.= Jamaspi.
JAOS.= Journal of the American Oriental Society.
JRAS.= Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society.
KZ.= Kuhn's Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Sprachforschung. [xxx]
Mkh.= Menog-i Khrad.
NR.= inscriptions of Darius at Naksh-i Rustam.
Nr.= Nirangistan.
Ny.= Niyayesh.
Pers.= Persian.
Pt.= Patit.
Phl.= Pahlavi.
Rv.= Rivayat.
RV.= Rig Veda.
SBE.= Sacred Books of the East.
Sd.= Sad Dar.
SdBd.= Sad Dar Bundahishn.
Sg.= Shikand Gumanig Vizar.
Skt.= Sanskrit.
Sr.= Sirozah.
SlS.= Shayest-la-Shayest [Shayest-ne-Shayest]
TdFr.= Tahmuras Fragment.
tr.= translated by, translation of.
Vd.= Vendidad.
vers.= version.
vol.= volume.
Vsp.= Visperad.
WFr.= Westergaard Fragment.
Xerx. Pers.= inscriptions of Xerxes at Persepolis.
Ys.= Yasna.
Yt.= Yasht.
ZDMG.= Zeitschrift der Deutchen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft.
Zsp.= Zadspram.




Scope of the Work. This book is the revised and much enlarged edition of my Zoroastrian Theology, which has been out of print for the past fifteen years. The publication of my Zoroastrian Civilization, and Our Perfecting World, Zarathushtra's Way of Life, and professional duties have delayed the completion of the work. I have inserted new material in several chapters and added nineteen new chapters to the book. I have given a concise account of the religious beliefs and practices prevalent among the Zoroastrians and their early Iranian ancestors from the pre-Gathic times to the present day and named the book History of Zoroastrianism.

Arrangement and method. I have divided the entire period of the history of Zoroastrianism on the linguistic basis. The earliest Zoroastrian documents are the Gathas, written in the Gathic dialect. They represent the earliest phase of the religion of Zoroaster. But ancient Iran had a religion which preceded Zoroastrianism in point of time. I have labelled this period pre-Gathic; for its beginning is lost in remote antiquity, and the advent of Zoroaster brings its end.

The time when Zoroaster flourished is a moot question. The approximate date at which he lived is 1000 B.C. Zoroaster revolutionizes the religious life of the Iranians, which hitherto represented the evolutionary phase of religion. It was the movement in which we find the religious thought creeping for ages to rise from the lower to the higher level. To put this in another way, the pre-Gathic religion of Iran is the evolution of the religious thought of many men and many ages; Zoroaster's is the creation of one man and one age. The prophet of Iran establishes a new religion. In the pre-Gathic religion the trend of religious thought struggles from the complex to the simple, from concrete to abstract, and is yet the farthest removed from the ideal stage. Zoroastrianism, on the other hand, as preached in the Gathas is the very embodiment of the simple and the abstract. It is the realization [xxxii] of the ideal. It is the form to which the coming generations have to conform. Deviation from it means a fall, a degeneration of the religous life. This second period I have termed Gathic.

Decay soon begins in the language in which Zoroaster composed his immortal hymns, and his successors now write in the Avestan dialect, which replaces the Gathic. The Avestan language remains the written language of the Zoroastrians from now onward to probably the last days of the Parthians, when the Pahlavi language becomes the court language of the Sasanians and supersedes the Avestan. The most extensive literature on Zoroastrianism is written in Avestan. This period, which I have called Later Avestan period, extends to the early part of the Pahlavi era and goes even beyond it. When the two periods thus overlap each other, it often becomes difficult to determine whether a certain phase of religious thought is on one side or the other of the dividing line between them. The Avestan works, in the form in which they were written in the Avestan period, no longer exist. They were scattered by the storm that swept over Persia when Alexander conquered the country, and shook her religious edifice to its base. The form in which the Avestan texts have reached us is that which was given them during the Pahlavi period. The artists employed to restore the broken edifice belong to the Pahlavi period, but the materials used come down from the Avestan sources.

The Pahlavi period ranks fourth in the arrangement of the present work, and it covers a period of about eight centuries. Although it is most productive under the Sasanian rule, it does not close with the collapse of this, the last of the Zoroastrian empires, but survives it by at least three centuries in Moslem Persia. Though Pahlavi had replaced Avestan, the early works written in the ancient language had not yet ceased to influence the Pahlavi writers. In fact, some of the most important of the Pahlavi works are either versions of some Avestan works now lost to us, or draw their thought from the Avestan sources. Thus, the Pahlavi Bundahishn is the epitome of the Avestan Damdat [Damdad] Nask, which is subsequently lost. Similarly, not a few of the Pahlavi works written two or three centuries after the conquest of Persia by the Arabs tenaciously preserve the tradition handed down by Sasanian Persia. These are characterized by two layers of thought, one traditional, and the other representing new [xxxiii] thought current during the writer's times. The Menuk-i Khrat, for example, betrays Moslem influence when it preaches fatalism, but is otherwise faithfully voicing the sentiments of the orthodox Sasanian Church. This interweaving of old ideas with the new ones, and the interpolations and additions of the later writers in the works of earlier generations, often make it hopeless to disentangle the complications and distinguish between the opinions and ideas of different periods.

Thirteen hundred years have elapsed since the dissolution of the last of the Zoroastrian empires. Henceforth we have to record the religious history of the Zoroastrian remnants in Persia and the Zoroastrian settlers of India. Zoroastrianism sinks with the Zoroastrian power, and a long period of obscurity follows. I have named it a period of decadence.

Under the aegis of the British rule in India Zoroastrianism emerges once again with the prosperity of the Parsi community. I have hailed this as the period of the revival of Zoroastrianism.

These various periods, which represent chronologically different stages of the historical development of the religious thought of Iran, from remote antiquity down to the immediate present, will, I hope, give the reader a general and comprehensive view of the history of Zoroastrian religion. As the subjects are treated piece-meal in different periods according to the natural growth of ideas from period to period, the reader will have to read crosswise when he needs a complete account of any particular concept. For example, if he wants to know all that the Zoroastrian literature has to say about Ormazd [Ohrmazd], he will get it as a whole not from any one period, but from all. The detailed list of contents and the index will help him in his inquiry.

Transliteration of the technical terms. I have sought to preserve the changes that these have undergone during successive periods, and have variously transliterated them in the treatment of the different periods, according as they represent the Avestan, Pahlavi, or Persian pronunciations. Thus, for example, Ahura Mazda of the Gathic and Avestan periods become Ormazd [Ohrmazd] in the Pahlavi period. Angra Mainyu assumes the form Ahriman in the subsequent periods. The Avestan Vohu Manah changes into Pahlavi Vohuman and into Bahman in Persian. In the frequent use of the name of the prophet, I have, however, not scrupulously followed this method. I have distinguished between the Avestan, [xxxiv] Pahlavi, and Persian forms by writing Zarathushtra for the first, and Zaratusht for Pahlavi and Zartusht [Zartosht] for Persian as they actually occur in these languages; but I have adopted the more familiar form Zoroaster for general use. Similarly, I have called the religion of the prophet Zoroastrianism. With a view to simplicity for the general reader, I have avoided, as far as it has been practicable, the free use of diacritical marks, and have employed simple transcriptions of the names of the heavenly beings persons, and books when they occur in the text.

* * * * * * * * *

I am grateful to Dr. Charles J. Ogden who has carefully revised the greater part of the proofsheets and favoured me with his scholarly criticism.




[2 is blank]






The data of information. The materials that we gather for the preparation of the history of the religion that Zarathushtra preached in Ancient Iran come from varied sources. The earliest native records are embodied in the sacred texts in which the prophet and his immediate disciples propounded the new religion. These are furnished by the Avestan literature, which is followed by the Pahlavi and Pazend [Pazand] works and finally by the writings in Modern Persian down to the end of the eighteenth century.

Peoples of diverse faiths and nationalities have likewise, written about Zoroaster and his teachings from the earliest to the modern times. Greeks and Romans and Christians in the Occident and Indians, Hebrews, Arabs, Syrians, Armenians, and Chinese in the Orient have contributed to the fund of information on the subject. Zarathushtra has founded a new religion and we shall begin with the consideration of the materials used in the foundation, which are to be gleaned from the Avesta, the earliest literature produced by Iran.

The Avestan Nasks. Tradition credits Zarathushtra with having written profusely. Pliny states that the great philosopher Hermippus, who flourished in the early part of third century before the Christian era, had studied some 2,000,000 verses composed by Zoroaster.1 The Arabic historians Tabari and Masudi state that the Zoroastrian texts were copied on 12,000 cowhides.2 Parsi tradition speaks of twenty-one Nasks or volumes written by Zarathushtra. These, we are informed, dealt with religion, philosophy, ethics, medicine, and various sciences. King Vishtaspa ordered two archetype copies of these sacred texts and [4] deposited them in the libraries of Dizh-i Nipisht and Ganj-i Shapigan.3 One of these copies perished in the flames when Alexander burned the royal palace at Persepolis.4 The other copy, tradition maintains, was taken by the conquering hordes to their own country, where it was rendered into Greek.5

1. HN. 30. 2. 1.

2. Annales, 1. 675; Masudi, ed. Barbiei de Meynard. 2.123.

3. Dk., vol 9, p. 577.

4. Diodorus,17.72; Curtius,5.7; Dk., vol.9, p. 569.

5. Dk., vol. 9, p. 569.

The collection of the scattered texts was begun under the last of the Arsacids and completed in the early Sasanian period. The twenty-one original Avestan Nasks were artificially made to correspond to the twenty-one words of the Ahuna Vairya formula. The holy Manthra is made up of three lines and the twenty-one Nasks were, likewise, divided into three equal parts of seven each to correspond with them. These three divisions are classified under the headings: Gasanik, that is, pertaining to the Gathas or devotional hymns, the Hadha Mansarik, which as Dinkard [Denkard]6 says, is intermediary between the Gathik and the last division, namely the Datik, which is that pertaining to law.7 It is estimated that the twenty-one volumes contained about 345,700 words of written text.8

6. DK8, 1, 7.

7. See Geldner, Avesta Literature, tr. by Mackichan in Avesta, Pahlavi, and Ancient Persian Studies in honour of Dastur Peshotanji B Sanjana, p. 31.

8. See West in SBE., vol. 37, Introd. p. 45.

This canonical compilation has suffered heavily during the last thirteen centuries since the downfall of the last Zoroastrian empire in the seventh century. The entire collection of the Avestan texts that has reached us consists of about 83,000 words,9 that is, about one-fourth of the original twenty-one Nasks. The Vendidad is the one Nask that has survived the ravages of time in its Complete form. Some of the lost Nasks are preserved in part in the Yasna, Yashts, and Nirangistan. We shall draw upon this A vestan material in our discussion of the Gathic and A vestan periods.

9. See Geldner, ib., p. 30.

The Pahlavi, Pazend, and Persian sources. During the chaos that prevailed in Iran after the downfall of the Achaemenian empire, the Avestan language began to decay. When it grew unintelligible to the people, the learned priests undertook translations and explanations of the Avestan texts into Pahlavi, [5] the new language which originated during the period. These commentaries on the original Avestan texts are called âzainti in Avesta, and zand in Pahlavi. The explanatory texts now came to be known as Avastak-u Zand or the Avesta and the commentaries. Pahlavi was the court language of the Sasanians and it survived the downfall of their empire by at least three centuries. Extensive Pahlavi literature that came into existence under the Sasanians has mostly perished. The works that have reached us were written after the downfall of the Sasanian empire, mostly during the Abbasid period. The compilation of the most important work of the period, the Dinkard [Denkard], for example, was commenced by the learned high-priest Atarfarnbarg Farokhzad in the beginning of the ninth century and completed by one of his successors, Adarbad Hemed, towards the end of the ninth century. The Dinkard [Denkard], Vijirkard-i Dinik, and the Persian Rivayets give us summaries of the lost Nasks. We gather from the contents of the lost Nasks given in the Dinkard [Denkard] that, with the exception of the eleventh Nask, altogether twenty Avestan Nasks, nineteen along with their Pahlavi commentaries and one without it, still existed in the ninth century. The greater part of these works has perished during the unsettled times when Persia fell under the barbarous rule of the Tartars. Pahlavi works on religious subjects that are extant consist of about 446,000 words.10

10. See West. GIrPh.2. 90, 91.

With the invention of the modern Persian alphabet, Pahlavi fell into the background. An admixture of Aryan and Semitic make-up the Pahlavi language as written. It was later simplified by the elimination of all Semitic words and replacing them with their Iranian equivalents. The original Avestan texts were explained and interpreted by the Pahlavi commentary which, as we saw, was called Zand. A further need was felt to make explanatory versions of the Pahlavi texts themselves. This further explanation and added commentary is called Pazand from the Avestan word paiti zainti. Short benedictory prayers are composed in Pazend [Pazand] as supplementary prayers to the original Avestan prayers, The Pazend [Pazand] texts were written in Avestan script. With the introduction of the Arabic script in Persia, the Pahlavi script fell into disuse.

Zoroastrian works came to be written in the modern Persian [6] alphabet. A considerable literature, both in prose and poetry, has sprung up during the last seven centuries in Persian on Zoroastrian subjects.11 The Pahlavi and Pazend [Pazand] works originated in Persia, whereas both Persia and India contributed in the production of the Persian works.

11. See West. GIrPh. 2. 122-129.

Parsi-Sanskrit and Gujarati sources. An Indian school of Parsi Sanskritists of the thirteenth century, headed by Neryosang Dhaval, has translated some parts of the Avestan texts into Sanskrit from their Pahlavi version. Besides these, they have left for us the Sanskrit translation of a few Pahlavi works.

A considerable literature, in prose and verse, has appeared in Gujarati on Zoroastrian subjeccts in India. A Gujarati version of the Yasna and Vendidad and two renderings of the Khordah Avesta were published in the beginning of the nineteenth century, that is, before the influence of Western scholarship penetrated into India. Works written in Gujarati continue to be published to the present day.

Oriental sources. The Indo-Iranians shared a common religious heritage, and the Rig Veda furnishes us with the earliest sacred texts that are helpful in the better understanding of the religious beliefs of the pre-Gathic, Gathic, and the Younger Avestan periods of the history of Zoroastrianism. There are, likewise, scattered passages in the Vedas, Brahmanas, Smriti, and Puranas that refer to the Iranians and their religion. Judaism under the Exile was influenced by Zoroastrian teachings and furnishes us with points of resemblance between the angelology, demonology, and eschatology of the Iranians and the Hebrews. The Armenian historians Moses of Khoren and Elisaeus, the theologians Eznik and the Syrian Theodore bar Khoni, the Acts and Passions of Persian Saints and Martyrs, works written by Zoroastrian converts to Christianity, the Syriac, Armenian, Judaic, and Christian polemic literature against Zoroastrianism, and the writings of the Mandaeans are full of views held by those who opposed the state religion of Persia during the Sasanian period. A host of Arabic and Mohammedan Persian writers from the days of Ibn Khurdadhbah (A.D 816) and al-Baladhuri (A.D. 851), al-Biruni (A.D. 973-1048), al-Shahrastani (A.D. 1086-1153), to Yakut (A.D. 1250), Kazwini (A.D. 1263), Mirkhond (A.D. 1432-1498) and Mohsan Fani (A.D. 1600-1670) give valuable [7] information on our subject. There are stray passages in Chinese literature with reference to the religious beliefs and practices of the Zoroastrians.

Occidental sources. The contact of Persia with Greece began in the fifth century B.C. under the Achaemenians. It continued with Rome up to the middle of the seventh century A.D., to the last days of the Sasanians. Ktesias was the court physician of king Artaxerxes II. Xanthus and Herodotus began to acquaint their readers with ihe manners and customs and religious beliefs of the Persians. Hermippus (B.C. 250) is said to have studied the writings of Zarathushtra. Theopompus and Hermippus are the two writers upon whose writings on Persian religion the later writers have drawn considerably. Plutarch was familiar with the lost work of Theopompus and gives useful information on his authority, Diogenes Laertius says that Aristotle was familiar with the theory of Persian dualism. Plutarch, Strabo, and a few others write from their personal observation. Cicero, Pliny, Ammianus Marcellinus, and other Roman writers continued to write about Persia up to the Middle Ages. The writings of the earlier classical authors throw special light upon the religious beliefs and practices of the Achaemenians.

Inscriptions, coins, and tablets as the last source of information. The Old Persian Inscriptions with their Babylonian and New Elamitic renderings found at Behistan, Persepolis, Naqsh-i Rustam, Elvand, Susa, Kerman, and Suez; the Babylonian, Egyptian, and Greek inscriptions, together with the works of the ancient classical writers, furnish us with information about the religious beliefs and practices of the Achaemenians. The Pahlavi inscriptions, likewise, add to our knowledge of the religious life of the Sasanian period. The names of about ten Zoroastrian Amesha Spentas and Yazatas that appear on the coins of Indo-Scythic rulers of Northwestern India in Greek characters and the epigraphic texts in Babylonian, Egyptian, and Greek contribute to the information that we get about Zoroastrianism from varied sources.




The Stem-land of the Aryans. The problem of the cradle of the Aryan race will probably never be solved with certainty. Airyana-vaejah, 'the stem-land of the Aryans,' is spoken of as the first of the good lands created by Ahura Mazda.1 It had a mild and genial climate, with long, pleasant summers and short winters. Unlike Indian Yama, who chose the realm of the dead and established his suzerainty in the heavenly world, Yima was the illustrious king who ruled over men and beasts and converted his kingdom into a veritable paradise upon earth. Animals and mankind prospered and grew in such large numbers in his memorable reign, which tradition has subsequently regarded as the Golden Age of Iran, that the country could no longer hold them. Ahura Mazda, thereupon, bade him to lead his overflowing population to migrate southwards, on the way of the sun. Yima carried out the divine behest and yet the difficulty was not solved, for the numbers kept on increasing steadily. The king organized a second migration again towards the south and still a third in the same direction.2 Moreover, the happy home of the Aryans was destined to be further disturbed, Ahura Mazda knew this through his omniscience and he called a conference of the angels and summoned Yima to attend it with the best of his men.3 He then warned the king that Angra Mainyu, the enemy of God and men, contemplated invasion of Airyana-vaejah. He would cause evil winter to fall that would bring fierce, deadly frost. Such dense desolation would follow the icy deluge that every vestige of human habitation would disappear and it would be a wonder if even a footprint of a sheep could be seen.4 Angra Mainyu did invade the happy home of the Aryans and plagued it with a deluge of snow and ice. Forewarned by Ahura Mazda, the mighty king took timely measures, and before Angra Mainyu [9] cause destruction and death, through deadly deluge, or, in the language of geology, before the glacial cataclysm rendered the primeval Aryan home unfit for habitation, he led a further successful migration towards the hospitable south.

1. Vd. 1.3.

2. Vd. 2.9-19.

3. Vd. 2.21.

4. Vd. 2.22-24.

The Indo-Europeans. This virile race, white in colour and fair of complexion, called itself Aryan or noble. It was the parent of the Indo-European peoples of history, These members of the Aryan family lived long as a homogeneous people speaking the same language with dialectic differences and shared many beliefs and practices in common.

Pressure of growing population, thirst for adventure, sharp divisions caused by the fermentation going on in the minds of thinking persons over religious beliefs and practices continued to disintegrate them. During the early part of the second millennium B.C., nomad tribes left their home and turned westwards and reached the Aegean lands or turned southwards in successive waves from the steppes of the Caspian Sea. Scattered tribes passed by the chain of Caucasus, entered Armenia and spread southwards. Some of the more virile tribes succeeded in founding small Aryan kingdoms. They have left traces of their Aryan beliefs and practices. The Kassites, who rose to power in the Zagros in 1700 B.C., designated godhead by the Indo-European term bugash, Av. baga, Skt. bhaga, Slav. bogu, Phrygian, bagaios, and worshipped Suryash, Skt. surya, the sun, as their chief god. The Mitannis, who founded an Aryan empire between the Euphrates and the Tigris, have left behind them the record of their own names, such as Dushratta, Artatama, and the names of the Aryan divinities Mitra, Indra, Varuna, and Nasatya in an inscription dating 14th century B.C. at Boghaz-Keui. The trend of migration continued until we see the Aryan Medes at a later date facing the Semitic Assyrians as their immediate neighbours.

The Indo-Iranians. The other migratory wave extended earlier towards the Elburz [Alburz] range and to the southern belt of the Caspian an Sea and took the tastward course. The Vendidad opens the enumeration of the sixteen good places created by Ahura Mazda, ranging between Airyana-vaejah in the north and Hapta Hindu or Sapta Sindhu, the land of seven (later five) rivers, the Panjaub.5 The names of these lands may not be taken as marking [10] the successive stages of the Aryan migration showing the people leaving their original habitat, descending downwards through the Caucasus, crossing the Elburz [Alburz] range, entering eastern Iran or modern Afghanistan, passing the Hindukush and terminating their peregrinations in Sapta Sindhu. But the test may be taken as recording historico-geographical reminiscence on the part of the writers of the south-eastward migration of the Aryan race.

5. Vd1.1-20.

Of the various sections of the Aryan family, the ancestors of those that later became known in history as the Indians and the Iranians lived longest and closest together in eastern Iran. They sacrificed to the same gods and entertained the same view of life upon earth. They separated at a later period and a group turned towards the south, crossed the Hindukush and entered the Panjaub by about 2000 B.C.

The great Aryan family thus dispersed during several generations and the members sought out for themselves new settlements in Asia and Europe. Of the various groups that separated from the main stock at different times, the Iranian group preserved most faithfully the original name of the primeval home of the Aryans. The place of residence had changed, the surroundings had altered beyond recognition, and the communities that lived and shared life with them had gone. But the deeply cherished name Airyana-vaejah had been indelibly imprinted on their minds. The veneration for the stem-land lived, the memory of its paradisaic condition still lingered, the auspicious name Airyana-vaejah continued still to be passionately loved, and the Iranians resolved that their latest settlement should be known for ever by no other name than Airyana vaejah of happy memory.



ABOUT 1000 B.C.

[12 is blank]





Zarathushtra doubts to know. Prophets are gods in the flesh, and Zarathushtra, the prophet of Iran, was such a man-god. His date of birth, as we shall see in subsequent chapters, is placed anywhere between 600 B.C. and 6000 B.C. It is an uncontested fact that there is a marked closeness between the grammar, metre, and style of the Rig Veda and the Gathas. The Gathic inflexions are more primitive than the Vedic. The period of the position of the Gathas, therefore, cannot be separated from the Vedas by any considerable distance of time. Zarathushtra's place of birth is of equal uncertainty. His earliest appearance in the Gathas is at the period of his life when he has left his pupilage behind. He has evidently learnt all he could from what the teachers of his days could give him. He has conversed with the wise men of his country. He has often visited the central places where trade routes from distant lands converged and has gathered information and experience from the worldly-wise travellers, merchants, and pilgrims. But the more he has learnt, the more eager his desire to learn further has grown. His teachers had instructed him in knowledge based on tradition. But tradition is stagnant, and knowledge is ever on the onward move. Besides, tradition is wedded to the time that is dead, and knowledge looks to the time to be born without end. Moreover, tradition demands its instruction to be taken on trust, and knowledge is based on inquiry and discussion. Reason is shadowed by doubt and doubt is the parent of knowledge. Zarathushtra, a paragon of reason, doubts the wisdom of his teachers.

Zarathushtra resolves to be his own teacher, and to learn by observation and thinking. He thinks and thinks deeply and comprehensively on the conditions prevailing around him. He considers that life is not woven of the tissues of joy and happiness alone, but of considerable sorrow and misery also. Injustice and inequity, strife and oppression, poverty and destitution, greed [14] and avarice, wrath and rapine, falsehood and deceit, envy and malice, hatred and jealousy, crime and vice, sorrow and suffering, filth and disease confront him everywhere. He is keenly responsive to human sufferings and the groans and sighs of the agonized hearts. The misery of the multitude touches his heart. His flesh creeps, his heart is heavily oppressed, and his spirit is depressed at the sight of this dark side of human life. He suffers at the sight of suffering and, with eyes suffused with tears, he lives from day unto day thinking and brooding over the woes of the world. Zarathushtra doubts the goodness of gods.

He is religious at heart, but his daily experience of the religion practised and lived around him tends to estrange him from the faith of his forefathers. He sees with horror temples reeking with the blood of sacrifical animals. He finds that barren formalism, sanctimonious scrupulosity, meticulous ablutions, superstitious fear, and display of external holiness pass for religion. Zarathushtra doubts the religion of his birth.

Zarathushtra seeks silent, solitary seclusion. Solitude is nature's sublime temple where spirit can commune with spirit in the surrounding silence and unruffled calm. Mountains lift their heads majestically on the Iranian plateau, and Zarathushtra retreated into the mountain fastness. Here, far removed from the stress and strife of life, and with no human sound to distract his thoughts, he made his home. He breathed the refreshing air. The twittering and chirping and whistling and singing of birds filled the air. Here the earth and waters, birds and beasts, sun and moon, stars and planets worked as his teachers. He read some lesson, some message written by the hand of the maker of all on every pebble and every leaf, every dewdrop and every sunbeam, in every star and every planet. Here he plunged into a reverie or gazed into vacancy. The calm atmosphere is conducive to communion, and here, in the monastic void; he communed with nature which inspired solemn thoughts in him. He communed with his mind and he communed with his inner self. He thought and he reasoned, he cogitated and he contemplated, he mused and he dreamed. He meditated upon the essence of divinity, the anomalies of life, and the human destiny after death. Here in this great and glorious temple of nature, built by divine hands, his eyes of spirit saw what the eyes of flesh could not see. Here in the sublime sanctuary spoke the solemn voice of [15] the divine vicar and he heard it. Zarathushtra's creative mind evolved the highest conception of godhead, whom he named Ahura Mazda or the Wise Lord.

Zarathushtra yearns to see Ahura Mazda. Zarathushtra has prepared himself through the wise discipline of mind and heart and through the life of piety to receive his message from Mazda. He longs for the moment when, being enlightened in mind, he shall visualize Vohu Manah or Good Mind, Asha or Righteousness, Sraosha, the embodiment of Obedience to divine commandments, and the sublime seat of beneficent Ahura.1 Mind alone can understand and realize the supreme mind and Zarathushtra longs to approach Mazda through Vohu Manah.2 Mind is the repository both of knowledge upon which rests the enlightenment of life, and pure thoughts which form the basis of good conduct. He developed this dual aspect of mind to a prominent degree and prayed that Vohu Manah might bless him with his presence.3 He had not long to wait, for Vohu Manah, he who impersonates the divine mind, one day came to him and inquired who he was and to whom he belonged and what he wished for.4 Seeing Vohu Manah, Zarathushtra got a glimpse of Ahura Mazda, whom he now conceived as holy, and for the first time felt himself acquainted with the words of wisdom.5 When his ardent desire to meet Vohu Manah is fulfilled he now aspires through him to greet Ahura Mazda himself.6 His one consuming passion now is to see Mazda face to face and hold communion with him,7 so that he may have the most comprehensive understanding of the divinity. He desires and yearns and prays that Mazda may vouchsafe unto him his heart's longing. Devotion for Mazda wells up in his heart, and he is filled with the divine spirit. He feels himself lifted above the earth, and in his supreme moments of transcendent ecstasy he has the beatific vision of Mazda.6 He has now found Mazda and he pours out his devout heart at his feet. He longs to be alone with him, belong wholly to him, and live in his love and attachment.9 He praises him, worships him, makes songs of devotion to him, he yearns to weave his personality with Mazda like the warp and woof, and he longs [16] to lose himself in the divine bosom.10 His whole life is bound up in one idea: Ahura Mazda.

1. Y28.5.
2. Y28.2.
3. Y44.1.
4. Y43.7, 9, 11, 13, 15.
5. Y43.11.
6. Y28.6.
7. Y33.6.
8. Y43.5; 45.8.
9. Y44.17.
10. Y28.3; 43.8.

Zarathushtra longs to commune with Ahura Mazda. Zarathushtra has thought out many problems of life but he is still unsatisfied with his discoveries. He has doubts on many points,11 and who but Mazda can solve them satisfactorily? He asks Mazda for whom has he created the weal-dispensing cattle,12 who has marked out the path of the sun and the stars, by whom does the moon wax and wane,13 who has yoked swiftness to winds and clouds, who withholds the earth and the sky from falling down, who made the waters and the trees,14 what artificer made light and darkness and wakefulness and sleep, who made the dawn and the day and the night that remind man of the intelligence of his duty,15 who is the creator of Good Mind,16 who formed the blessed devotion in the divine kingdom and who with wisdom made the son dutiful to his father,17 how should devotion embrace those to whom his religion is proclaimed,18 whether devotion furthered righteousness through deeds,19 how was the prayer to be addressed to him,20 who was righteous and who was wicked, with whom did the enemy of all side and who was like unto him, was not the person that repudiated Mazda's beneficence himself the enemy,21 how was the wickedness of those who ran counter to the rules of righteousness and good thought to be put down,22 how was wickedness to be brought into the hands of righteousness,23 who would gain victory when the powers of righteousness and wickedness came to grips,24 who would smite victoriously the enemy with the mighty words of Mazda,25 how would recompense to the righteous and retribution to the wicked be accorded at the reckoning,26 how the best existence was to be won,27 would the divine kingdom be made known to God's faithful through Good Mind,28 what were the ordinances of Mazda,29 how should he, Zarathushtra, approach Mazda with love,30 with what goodness would his soul win felicity,31 and many such questions pertaining to the way of life. He felt Mazda's inspiring [17] presence within him, he heard his whispers. Mazda spoke through his mind and he was enlightened. He sought instruction from Mazda and had now acquired it.32

11. Y48.9.

12. Y44.6.

13. Y44.3.

14. Y44.4.

15. Y44.5.

16. Y44.4.

17. Y44.7.

18. Y44.11.

19. Y44.6.

20. Y44.1.

21. Y44.12.

22. Y44.13.

23. Y44.14.

24. Y44.15.

25. Y44.16.

26. Y31.14;

27. Y44.2.

28. Y44.6.

29. Y34.12;

30. Y44.17.

31. Y44.8.

32. Y45.6.

Zarathushtra is filled with an intense fervour of enthusiasm for prophetic work. The work of prophetic preparation was now completed. Zarathushtra was girt with wisdom and righteousness. He had heard, comprehended, and made his own the message of Mazda and was now ready to convey it to mankind. One phase of his life had now ended. He was now ready to leave the life of seclusion and turn towards the clamour and clatter of town traffic and live in the midst of the sight and sound of throbbing human life. He had a new mission, a new hope, a new way of life to regenerate the world. Mankind was steeped in the slough of despair and despondency, helplessness and hopelessness. He was to be the bearer of the message of hope to mankind and salvage it. He was to wean the hearts of men and women from wickedness, to lead them on the path of righteousness, to assuage the sufferings of humanity, to establish a new social order, and to found a new moral world. He was burning with zeal to embark upon his great mission. He was the chosen of Mazda, who now speaks with sublime satisfaction that Zarathushtra alone among mankind had heard his divine commands and having heard them was now going to make them heard among all mankind, therefore he was bestowing on him elegance of speech.33 The great work that he had now to undertake of propagating his new religion and winning people for it would be beset with untold obstacles and hardships and Zarathushtra realizes it.34 But the messenger of Mazda is determined to face them and overcome them and emerge triumphant in the end. He tells Mazda that he will lead mankind on the path of righteousness and sing untiringly his praise all around as long as his life is blessed with power and strength.35 He speaks of his faith in terms of a universal religion. He is convinced that the religion that Ahura Mazda has commissioned him to preach is the best for all mankind.36 He looks forward to winning all living men for the faith of Ahura Mazda.37

33. Y29.8.

34. Y43.11.

35. Y28.4; 50.11.

36. Y44.10.

37. Y31.3.

But the ardent desire of the prophet was not to be fulfilled [18] at the moment, nor to be accomplished in full measure in after ages. Though possessed of all the best elements that fitted it to be a world creed, Zoroastrianism has never shown any signs of becoming a universal religion. In the midst of the vicissitudes of fortune, it has been a national religion at best. Little short of a miracle has saved it from total extinction, and various causes have combined to reduce it to the narrowest limits today as the communal religion of a hundred and twenty-five thousand souls. This fact will be brought out more prominently in the treatment of the religious development during the subsequent periods.

People marvel at the new prophet. Zarathushtra turned his steps to his place of birth and childhood. His kinsfolk and friends recognized him and yet they were bewildered to witness a marvellous change in him. He was of course grown in years and stature. But there was something indescribable that those who saw him could not realize. His face had grown sweet and serene. It breathed ineffable kindness and bore shining reflection of his pure inner life. It wore the expression of gentleness and cheerfulness, hope and confidence. A resplendent halo of righteousness encircled his magnetic face. He moved among people with a friendly look and a kindly word to all. His moral grandeur struck awe unto those who came near him. The sublimity of his serene behaviour, the childlike simplicity of his speech, the unassuming attitude of his movements, the imperturbable calm and passive countenance aroused feelings of reverence in those who met him. They greeted him with salutations and adoration. His advent soon became the event of surrounding villages. All eagerly pointed to him and talked abour him. In dumb veneration people gazed at him, admired him, adored him, and marvelled at him. He was Zarathushtra of the Spitamas, they said, yet he was altogether a novel personality. He was of them and yet above them, he was akin to them and yet unlike them. He spoke unheard of words, he talked of unknown things. He was what they were not. They were but men, he was greater than man, he was an angel, he was a godling.

Zarathushtra definitely breaks with the religion of his forefathers. Zarathushtra has seen by this time that there were some people who were anxious to hear what he had to say. He now began to give lengthy talks on subjects of great importance to his eager listeners. He saw that he could sway and draw the [19] hearts of his hearers to himself. He gave forth publicly that he came from his maker Ahura Mazda, whom he declared to be incomparably greater than the gods they had so far known. This great God had sent him as his chosen prophet to preach a nobler religion than the one they followed. Their priests had laid great emphasis on outward observances and carried rules for rituals to meticulous casuistry. Their gods were fond of sacrificial offerings of animals and birds. Religion, preached Zatathushtra, did not consist in a scrupulous observance of outward forms, but was based mainly upon the heart. A broken heart and a contrite spirit were the choicest sacrifices that the faithful could offer to their creator. Burning tears of a penitent heart were better than a cupful of oblations. The aim and object and end of the religion that Mazda had commissioned him to teach was righteous conduct. His worship was founded on righteousness. Genuine piety is of the heart and its outward expressions are good thoughts, good words, and good deeds. The beliefs and practices of his hearers were irreconcilably alien from what he taught. His outspoken utterances created diverse effects upon those who flocked to hear him daily. Some felt themselves moved and influenced by them.

There were others among his hearers who had approached him specially with the intention of finding out his views without rousing his attention to their ill-will. They took alarming reports to their associates. They saw danger ahead of them. They waited and watched, suspected and spied. They were adroitly prepared themselves to face the ominous situation; and they had not to be long in waiting. Signs of disapprobation, whispers of disapproval, murmurs of indignation now appeared in various threatened to break out in open revolt.

The hostile Daevayasnian priests. The priests of the ancient faith were now alarmed. They attempted to dissuade the prophet from disturbing the peace of the people. They met often to argue with him on the questions he was raising, but were foiled in the controversies.38 They felt themselves humiliated before the people and gave up meeting the prophet. They began to work against him and tried in all possible manners to frustrate the effect he was daily producing upon his hearers. They were accustomer to fatten upon the profits of the elaborate ceremonials [20] and rich sacrifices that people offered under their guidance. They were renowned as exorcists who cast out demons, who read dreams, prognosticated the future, warded off the effect of the evil eye and, with ingenious charlatanism, had prospered among the credulous and superstitious. Zarathushtra reproved their greed and avarice. He exhorted the people to give up these superstitious practices and warned them that they were causing great harm by following such false teachers.39 His denunciation of their practices made them furious and now they sought his ruin. They accused him of preaching doctrines that were subversive of the religion of their forefathers and the established form of worship, and of blaspheming their gods. They incited the people to oppose him and made frantic appeals to the rulers of the land to drive him out from their midst.

38. Y30.6.

39. Y45.1.

Zarathushtra's heart was burning with indignation against these hypocrisies. With his holy spirit aglow with righteous wrath, he called these Pharisees and Scribes of Iran, Kavis and Karapans or seeingly blind and hearingly deaf. These terms belong to the Indo-Iranian period and were evidently used in a good sense, before the Aryan groups separated. They share the fate of the cardinal word daeva and are assigned derogatory meaning in the Gathas. The Vedic hymns use the word kavi in the sense of a sage. It is freely applied to the seers and to Soma priests. It is further used as an epithet of gods. Agni, in particular, bears this honoured title.40 In the Gathas the word is curiously used with a double meaning. It is given a bad connotation whenever it is applied to the priests of the Daeva-worshippers. But the second Iranian dynasty is known as the Kavi or Kianian [Kayanian]. Its renowned kings who lived before the coming of Zarathushtra were Kavi Kavata, Kavi Usa, and Kavi Haosrava. Even Vishtaspa, who later became the royal patron of the new religion, retains this title and Zarathushtra speaks of him as Kavi Vishtaspa.41 It is significant, however, that Vishtaspa is the last king who shares this epithet with his royal predecessors. The kings who succeed him and with whom the dynasty dies out do not share the title. To the class of the Kavi belong the Karapan, corresponding to Skt. kalpa, 'ritual,' and the Usij, Skt. ushijah.

40. RV. 2. 23. 1; 3.14.1.

41. Y46.14; 51.16; 53.2.

[21] These heretical priests give the cattle to violence,42 they mislead mankind by their evil teachings and bring destruction to them and their cattle, but the prophet knows that they will face ruin,43 and in the end their own corrupt consciences will condemn them to eternal damnation.44 Through the drunken orgies they and the wicked lords of the land who follow them cause misery to all around them, and Zarathushtra implores Ahura Mazda to put down their evil.45 The bitterest foe of Zarathushtra who opposes him and thwarts his work is Bendva, who does not himself embrace righteousness and incites others to follow his lead. Zarathushtra invokes Mazda to overthrow this chieftain from power.46 Grehma is another powerful Kavi who always intrigues for Zarathushtra's undoing.47 Mazda denounces him and his evil associates, for their teachings lead to the destruction of the life of cattle and they lead others to wickedness.48 This wicked leader will bewail his evil fate and repent that he did not accept Zarathushtra's message, when at the end of his wicked life his soul will be consigned to the worst abode of woe.49 Usij is yet another class of the false priests who work violence to cattle and husbandry.50

42. Y44.20.

43. Y32.15.

44. Y31.20; 46.11; 51.14.

45. Y48.10.

46. Y49.1, 2.

47. Y32.14.

48. Y32.12.

49. Y32.13.

50. Y44.20.

These evil teachers, complains Zarathushtra, misinterpret the doctrines that he preaches and deceive people.51 They are devoid of goodness of mind and heart and are the beloved of the Daevas.52 They defraud mankind of the happiness of both the worlds.53 Like the Daevas whom they follow, they are known throughout the seven regions of the earth as the offspring of Evil Thought, Lie, and Arrogance.54 They persecute the righteous and desolate their pastures.55 Those who strengthen the hands of such false leaders given over to wickedness incur Ahura's displeasure.56 Zarathushtra exhorts all not to listen to the words and commands of the liars who bring misery and destruction to the house and clan, district and country, but to resist them with all their might.57 These persons who do not embrace Righteousness and Good Thought are Zarathushtra's enemies. They are [22] powerful and they strive to frighten Zarathushtra who is weak.58 He looks to Ahura Mazda for protection against them and prays that instead of causing him harm, their hostile actions may recoil upon themselves.59 The enmity and hatred towards the prophet, however, increase day by day and he is now aware that the opponents are bent upon doing him the utmost harm that they can, that is, they conspire to kill him.60

51. Y32.9.

52. Y32.4.

53. Y32.5.

54. Y32.3.

55. Y32.10, 11.

56. Y31.15.

57. Y31.18.

58. Y34.8.

59. Y46.7, 8.

60. Y51.10.

The Kavis and Karapans carried on vehement counter propaganda against Zarathushtra. They persuaded, denounced, cajoled, flattered, and threatened in one breath those that showed signs of being influenced by the new doctrines. They terrorized them with excommunication from society, and with persecution in this life and tortures awaiting them in the next life. People dreaded their power and were not yet swayed so completely by the new teachings as to face persecution. The history of religions teaches us that a new religion does not spread through well-balanced and reasoned arguments and convictions. It is borne on the wings of the unbounded enthusiasm and overflowing emotion that a prophet can create. If a prophet succeeds in preaching the new ideas that fill his being, with passionate and frantic zeal, if he succeeds in kindling the flame of emotional, nervous enthusiasm among his hearers by his fervent preaching, if he succeeds by means of his whirlwind campaign to light the spark that can set the whole country on fire, his religion becomes a living faith. Zarathushtra's teachings had not so effectively stirred them. Consequently, those that followed him hanging with enthusiasm on the unheard of words that he uttered, gave up going after him when they saw the vehement opposition of the custodians of the old faith. Those that had seriously heard him but were yet undecided and hesitating in the choice between the charms of the new and the dictares of the old religion, deserted him. The ignorant and unthinking people, who had, with child-like curiosity, turned wherever his footsteps trod, imitated the elders of society and left him. Those who were proud to claim him as their friend forsook him when the hour came for them to stand by him. Those that were his kith and kin disowned him, because he had disavowed their ancestral faith. Thus did the wavering, timid, half-hearted followers fail him in his hour of need and leave him. Ahura Mazda alone did not leave him and, [23] with him on his side, Zarathushtra felt that he was not alone in his loneliness. His prestige, however, is shattered and all restraint is broken. Respect for him is gone. He is now greeted everywhere with hostile feelings and coarse jokes. The mob that was hilarious in his commendation becomes furious in his condemnation. It mocks and maligns, jeers and insults him.

God fashions religion as an ideal aiming at cohesiveness, brotherhood, and unity among mankind. Man makes it disturbing, disruptive, and divisive. The great ideal recedes from the very inception of religion, until it grows dim and distant. It does not die, because ideals are immortal. Hope, ingrained in human heart, holds out the eternal assurance of its eventual realization.

Friendless and forlorn, Zarathushtra flees to Ahura Mazda. He implores him, he cries unto him to help him as a friend would help his friend. He has no following, no means of sustenance, and no place of refuge. If he wants to live so that he can yet hope to work as the prophet of Mazda and found his excellent religion, he should leave his homeland. He asks Mazda to point him the land to which he should flee.61 When all hopes seem to be blighted, he bids farewell with heavy heart to the place of his birth. He does not know to what land he should turn and he turns to wherever Mazda may take him. He walks and walking thinks, dreams, falls into a reverie, stops, wakes up, hastens his steps. He comes across villages, but rumours have preceded him that a man, a pretender, a blasphemer, a disturber of peace is on the way. No headsman of the villages comes forward to offer him an asylum in his village, even though the traditional usage of hospitality demands that his doors be flung open to the weary traveller. He must go onward, he sees, and travels to places removed from his native town, so that the people may not know him. There, among new surroundings and new people, he must begin his work anew. In his own town they knew him from childhood. They could not realize that they had among them one who had risen through the incomparable virtues of his head and heart to perfection, and upon whom Ahura Mazda's grace had descended. They could not reconcile themselves to the idea that they should bend their heads and bow their knees to one who grew of age among them and whose father and father's [24] A father lived and shared their common lives. But in the distant parts of the country where he would go as a stranger, he hoped his mission would bear fruit. So he went along from one village to another and, with feet swollen with fatigue, he covered several miles every day. Since he left his home he had not slept in a bed. If he reached a caravanserai at night, he slept in a corner where horses and mules, donkeys and camels jostled together. He rested his weary head upon the divine bosom and found a perfect haven in the heart of Ahura Mazda. At noon he slept on the bare floor or on a mattress or on straw under the shade of trees. If he found a throng of people at a halting stage passing their time in idle talk, he ventured to address them on the subject near to his heart. His words fell upon deaf ears and they curtly dismissed him from their lively company. Thus passed days after days, and season after season. Summer and autumn had passed and he was now in the midst of severe winter. He had dined so far on extremely frugal meals and spent money where he could not do without spending it, yet his pocket was getting thinner day by day. He would have to work to earn his honest living or beg, which he would not do. He clothed himself in coarse cloth which exposed him to the bleak blasts of snow and frost that cut his face and pierced his body limb from limb. When the great nobles of his native town and the rich members of the Kavi fraternity fared sumptuously on savoury dishes and luscious wines, and slept on warm beds with velvety cushions to rest their heads and with printed chintz curtains, the one greater than they went hungry and cold and had nowhere to lay his weary limbs.

61. Y46.1, 2.

Zarathushtra's teachings win the ear of the royal court. Thus passed a long period of trials and hardships. Zarathushtra traversed the length and breadth of Iran. He spoke, he discoursed, he conversed, he preached wherever he happened to be. His prophetic career was now bearing some good result. He was winning converts for his new religion. He triumphed in gaining over the sympathy even of some intelligent youths of his own family.62 His cousin Maidyoimaongha sympathized with his cause and soon became his ardent disciple.63 Two very brilliant brothers of the powerful Hvogva clan came over to his [25] faith. They were Frashaoshtra and Jamaspa.64 Zarathushtra beseeches Ahura Mazda to grant the gift of Good Thought to Frashaoshtra and his other followers.65 He implores him further bestow the most gladsome chieftainship in righteousness upon Frashaoshtra,66 whose daughter he later takes to wife.67 Jamaspa, called the wise, owing to his great talents. occupied the most influential position at the royal court. Zarathushtra gave him his daughter Pouruchisti in marriage.68 The prophet of Iran had made his spiritual conquest even among the Turanians. the traditional foes of Iran, and brought over the influential chieftain Fryana and his family to his faith.69

62. Y51.19.

64. Y46.16, 17; 49.9; 51.18; 53.2.

65. Y28.8.

66. Y49.8.

67. Y51.17.

68. Y53.2, 3.

69. Y46.12.

Zarathushtra had begun his prophetic propaganda in the west of Iran. He had now crossed the entire breadth of the country and was now in the extreme east. Bactria was the seat of the Kavi kings. For a long time he had been preaching in the great city, which was the meeting place of travellers and merchants from distant lands. He stirred up religious enthusiasm among his hearers. He spoke with flaming enthusiasm and animation and his discourses warmed their imaginations and enthused their hearts. They thought that the new teacher taught as man had never taught. They bowed their knees to him. strewed his path with flowers and worshipped the very ground he walked on. Success now attended upon him and day after day he found himself surrounded by new converts. His victory was complete when ultimately he triumphed in winning as a convert Kavi Vishtaspa, the ruler of the land, together with his royal consort Hutaosa. This was the crowning event in the establishment of Zoroastrianism. Conversions to the new religion followed rapidly as a natural sequel, when it became known that the ruling house of Iran had embraced Zarathushtra's faith. Zarathushtra now declares with supreme satisfaction to his divine teacher Ahura Mazda that the king had befriended his religion and was eager to cooperate with him in his great mission of proclaiming his faith to all.70 He now beseeches Ahura Mazda to give him and the royal patron of his religion the blessings and gifts of good [26] thought, righteousness, and devotion of Vohu Manah, Asha, and Armaiti, so that they may make his profitable words heard everywhere.71 The king, says Zarathushtra, has attained the knowledge of the sacred lore which Ahura Mazda had conceived with Asha.72 Vishtaspa, Frashaoshtra, and others who have now turned Zoroastrian, invoke and adore Ahura Mazda and tread the straight paths of the Saviour ordained by him.73 The Turanian chieftain Fryana came over to the new faith and Zarathushtra immortalizes his clan in his holy hymns.74

70. Y46.14.

71. Y28.7.

72. Y51.16.

73. Y53.2.

74. Y46.12.

Zarathushtra's Mission. Prophets are revolutionists and Zarathushtra was the earliest one. He saw that the world was imperfect and its infirmities and inequities were formidable. He was the messenger of Ahura Mazda, the refuge of the weak, the solace of the suffering, the hope of humanity, and the regenerator of the world. He brought to the unhappy world the happy tidings of the coming of the Kingdom of Righteousness. He introduced into the world a new spiritual order. He brought a new hope, a new life. Brimful of life and hope, he brought cheer and hope to mankind.





Gods in evolution. Religion has formed a deeply integral part of mankind at all times. We glean from the records of early peoples the earliest gropings of the human mind in its endeavour to understand and interpret natural phenomena. At various stages of its evolution, religion rises from animism to a belief in cosmic and abstract gods. Each tribe had its local god or gods who gained or lost in power as the seats of their location rose or fell in political power. The fate of the gods fluctuated with the vicissitudes of their followers. The god who rose to power either absorbed other gods in his person or subordinated them as lesser gods or ministering angels in his own service. Some of these gods were embraced in the family of the great god as his son or consort, in case of a goddess, and formed a divine triad of father, mother, and son. When religious ideas approached abstract thinking, they were represented as the manifestations of the newly enthroned god or they were reduced to abstractions as the great god's attributes. When Babylon rose to power, its god Marduk absorbed all other gods, both of the north and the south, even his father Ea, and became the chief god of the whole of Babylonia. The legends of the earlier gods clung to his name and hymns formerly composed in their honour were now dedicated to him. Ashur, the local god of Assyria, eclipsed gods of other localities and rose to preeminence as his native city came to parmnount power. When Shamash outshone his many confederate solar gods, he became the supreme god, and the other gods who were formerly on a footing of equality with him were accommodated as his satellites. Sometimes when the fighting tribes were united by peace the rival gods of each tribe formed their divine union. For example, the sun god Ra who came to Egypt from Asia formed an alliance with the popular god Amen and the dual divinities, thereafter, came to be known as Amen Ra.

[28] The priests associated the highest attributes with the gods whom they exalted. The poet who sang the glory of his favourite god was always so deeply moved by his devotion to him that he spoke and sang of him as the most powerful and the most beautiful god. Consequently, a monotheistic vein began to appear in the utterances of sectarians, each of whom acclaimed his respective god as the one and the only god, without his like. This indiscriminate exaltation of several gods as the all-highest and all-wisest evoked protest from some quarters. Human experience had taught them that a country had only one sovereign autocrat as its ruler and two or more kings of absolutely equal grade in power were unthinkable. With such ideas we notice Amenhetep IV, an adventurous king, attempting to introduce a great religious reform among his people in the fourteenth century B.C. He scoffed at the Egyptian pantheon and declared that there was only one god whose outward form was the sun. This god was Aten, the visible disk of the sun. In his zeal for reform, he changed his own name to Akhenaten or 'pleasing to the Sun-disk.' He suppressed the worship of other gods, destroyed their statues, demolished the temples that housed them, sequestered their property and obliterated their names wherever they appeared. He consecrated temples to Aten and made the cult of the Sun-disk his state religion and commanded his subjects to offer their devotions to this one God only. Being himself a poetic genius, he composed fine hymns to the new God and addressed him as the inscrutable creator, one God, absolute in power. The revolutionary reform, however, did not survive the death of the poet-king. The old gods returned from exile and were soon reinstated.

The gods were in most cases subject to human infirmities. Ra grew old with age and became weak. Gods had their wives, who like women in human society were subordinated to their lords. But as history records instances of some women of exceptional talents and virtue who broke the social barriers raised by men against their sex and rose to pre-eminence, so some goddesses of abnormal energy rose to power. The great goddess Ishtar, for instance, absorbed all other goddesses of the Babylonian-Assyrian pantheon and became the supreme female divinity. It was at her temple that sacred prostitution became a feature. Osiris had Horus for his son by his wife Isis. His brother Set overpowered and killed him by cunning and intrigue. [29] Some gods were ceremoniously bathed and clothed, adorned and perfumed with incense by priests every morning. The divine toilet over, they were treated with sumptuous food and drink of slaughtered animals and wine. The gods of the Greeks lived on the summit of Mount Olympus. They were, like the members of their divine fraternity elsewhere, invested with magnified human forms and traits. They loved and hated, intrigued and deceived and shared human frailties. It was for the demoralizing influence of such beliefs that Plato later forbade the tales of the frail gods in his ideal Republic, and Xenophanes poured out scorn over the anthropomorphic gods of Homer and Hesiod.

The gods were generally the personifications of nature. The solar gods, from their high position in the heavens, naturally became the overseers of men's actions upon earth and consequently they came to be regarded as the celestial judges. The solar gods Anu, Ninib, Nergal, and Shamash, at various periods of their ascendency to power, became the judges who punished wrong-doers. With the advancement of thought, the moral tone improved. The heart is the voice of God and welfare in life is gained by following its guidance, says Amenhetep. The emphasis that he lays on the adherence to truth in his inscriptions anticipates Darius the Great by several centuries. But the one god who rose to the greatest moral grandeur before the incomparably more sublime god that Zarathushtra discovered, was Varuna. A god of the sky in his origin, he rose to great ethical heights and became the upholder and guardian of the moral order upon earth. He is called omniscient and infallible. He detected man's truth and falsehood. If two men sat together and schemed some wrong, Varuna was there as the third. The winkings of man's eyes were numbered by him. The sinner laid bare his heart before him, confessed his sins, and prayed for his forgiveness, pathetically saying that he didnot commit sin willingly but that he was led astray by wrath, dice, and liquor. The hymns composed in his honour are most ethical.




Ahura Mazda is the name Zarathushtra gives to God. The Iranians, as we shall see later, had brought to their new homeland several gods of the Indo-Iranian pantheon. Zarathushtra does not mention them by name in his hymns. This omission is not accidental; it is deliberate. His is altogether a new religion. No wonder he tells his hearers that he speaks to them words that are unheard of before.1 All thinking and doing, whether human or divine, is done through the mind. It is knowledge or wisdom which creates, moulds, and guides anything and everything. He, therefore, clothes the idea of godhead with wisdom and names him 'Ahura Mazda.' This collocation means literally, 'The Lord Wisdom' or 'The Wise Lord.' The first element of this compound, Ahura, 'Lord,' is one of the Indo-Iranian generic forms of godhead and Zarathushtra confers upon it the Iranian epithet Mazda, 'Wise.' The Aryan and Semitic gods that preceded Ahura Mazda were nature gods. Some of them later rose to a higher spiritual level and acquired spiritual epithets. Ahura Mazda was never a nature-god. He was what he ever is, the highly spiritual being. Apart from its use in the Gathas, the term Mazda is found in its derivative form Mazdaka, used as a Median proper name in 715 B.C. in the Assyrian inscriptions of Sargon. Moreover, the compound Ahura Mazda itself is found in its Assyrian equivalent Assara Mazas in an inscription of Assurbanipal. Though the inscription bears the date of the reign of king Assurbanipal, it records the use of this Assyrian form of Ahura Maida in the latter part of the second millennium.

1. Y31.1.

Zarathushtra uses the divine name variously as the metrical composition of the hymns requires. He employs the combinations Ahura Mazda and Mazda Ahura or the forms Ahura or Mazda respectively, designating God in all cases. In many instances the [31] terms Ahura and Mazda are used separately in a single strophe, the one at the opening and the other at the close with different exhortations and prayers to each, yet in both cases as applied to the Supreme Being. Ahura Mazda.

Ahura Mazda is the Being par excellence. Ahura Mazda sits at the apex among the celestial beings of Garonmana [Garothman, i.e. Heaven]. He is not begotten, nor is there one like unto him. Beyond him, apart from him, and without him nothing exists. He is the supreme being through whom everything exists. He is brighter than the brightest of creation, higher than the highest heavens, older than the oldest in the universe. He is the best one.2 He knows no elder, he has no equal. There is none to dispute his supremacy and contest his place. Nor is there one to struggle successfully with him for the mastery of the heavens. He is the first and foremost. He is the most perfect being. He is almighty.3 He is the absolute sovereign.4 He is beneficent.5 He is changeless.6 He is the same now and for ever.7 He was, he is, and he will be the same transcendent being, moving all, yet moved by none. In the midst of the manifold changes wrought by him in the universe, the Lord God remains changeless and unaffected, for he is mighty.8 He will decide victory between the rival hosts of good and evil.9 He is the most worthy of invocation,10 and the first possessor of felicity and joy.11 There is none before him.12 He is the greatest of all.13 He is the only God proper, than whom there is none higher. Everything comes from him and through him. He is the lord of all. Many are his attributes. They are not accidents of his being. as will be shown below, but are his very essence.

2. Y28.8.

3. Y28.5; 33.11.

4. Y28.7; 43.1.

5. Y48.3.

6. Y45.10.

7. Y31.7.

8. Y43.4.

9. Y44.15.

10. Y46.9.

11. Y29.10.

12. Y28.3.

13. Y45.6.

The nature of Ahura Mazda. Ahura Mazda is spirit in his being. The cardinal attribute Spirit or Beneficent Spirit or Most Beneficent Spirit is his very essence. Zarathushtra acquaints mankind for the first time in the history of religions with the concept of the godhead that is most incomparable in sublimity and unprecedented in the grandeur of nobility. He is higher than the highest being worshipped by mankind before his day. He [32] is devoid of all anthropomorphic traits which characterized the Aryan and Semitic gods. Man, however, can comprehend abstract ideas and spiritual conceptions when they are put before him in words and expressions clothed in the garb of earthly imagery and compassed in human language. Zarathushtra, therefore, speaks of Ahura Mazda in human analogy. He conceives of Ahura Mazda in thought and apprehends him with his eye.14 He asks him to teach by the word of his mouth15 and to tell him with the very tongue of his mouth.16 He is also spoken of as distributing good and evil to men by his own hands,17 and as observing with his eyes all things hidden and open.18 He lives in the empyrean enthroned in his majesty.19 He is ever present in the straight paths that lead mankind to righteousness.20 In his resplendence he lives in the heavenly realms and wears the firmament as his garment.21 Yahweh, likewise, covers himself with light as with a garment. Expressions like these are symbolical and they are not to be taken literally, since Ahura Mazda, as the whole tone of the Gathas proves, is to be seen or conceived only through the mind's eye. The finite can describe the infinite through finite analogies and similes alone.

14. Y31.8; 45.8.

15. Y28.11.

16. Y31.3.

17. Y43.4.

18. Y31.13.

19. Y28.5; 46.16.

20. Y33.5; 43.3.

21. Y30.5.

The transcendental immanence of Ahura Mazda. Ahura Mazda has his celestial mansions in the highest heavens, upon the vast expanse of the earth and in the hearts of the righteous persons. He is transcendent in as much as he is infinitely more sublime and greater than his creatures. Yet he is not so remote and ineffable as not to be approached and addressed and greeted by his ardent worshippers. He is immanent in the sense that man can enter into close and loving relations with him, and own him as his father and brother and friend.22 He befriends those who seek his friendship and loves those who long for his love.23 Zarathushtra addresses Ahura Mazda as his friend.24 He is life's safest anchorage and Zarathushtra, in his misfortunes, pours out his heart in his divine friend's bosom and cries unto him for help and protection as a friend helps a friend.25 He [33] lovingly helps those who flee unto him in their distress and betake themselves to his protection. There is none other than he who shields men against harm and they invoke his protection through Asha.26 We sleep secure because he guards us lovingly and we live in safety because he stands by our side when we awake out of sleep. His goodness towards us knows no bounds. Immortality, holiness, power, and perfection are his gifts to those who deserve them through their deeds and words and prayers.27 Man can become his friend and companion through his words and deeds of righteousness.28 He is invoked to bestow upon the pious the good things of life for his love of them.29 With his good understanding, man can imitate him and be like unto him by promoting the welfare of all around him through righteousness.30

22. Y45.11.

23. Y44.17.

24. Y44.1.

25. Y46.2, 7.

26. Y34.7.

27. Y34.1.

28. Y31.21, 22.

29. Y33.10.

30. Y31.16.

The prophet prays for his vision and communion with him.31 He strives to approach him through Good Mind,32 and through his devoted supplications.33 With outstretched hands he aspires to reach him with songs of praise on his lips.34 Thus will he continue his praise, he says, as long as he has strength and vigour,35 and adds that the stars and the sun and the dawn all unite in singing praise unto him.36 Consumed with the fervour of religious emotion, he implores Ahura Mazda to rise up for him,37 and to come to him and manifest himself to him in his own person.38 Sraosha comes with Vohu Manah unto him whom Ahura Mazda desires.39

31. Y33.6.

32. Y28.2.

33. Y50.9.

34. Y50.8.

35. Y50.11.

36. Y50.10.

37. Y33.12.

38. Y33.7; 49.1.

39. Y44.16.

Ahura Mazda is the creator. Creation is a free act of the divine goodness of Ahura Mazda.40 In the beginning when he lived in his supreme self-sufficiency, he conceived the thought to clothe the heavenly realm with light.41 He created 1ight, and darkness was there, for darkness shadows light.42 He is the father and creator of Vohu Manah,43 of Asha,44 of Khshathra,45 of Armaiti,46 of Haurvatat and Ameretat,47 and of Geush [34] Tashan.48 The joy-giving cattle and this universe are his creations.49 He upholds the earth and firmament from falling.50 He made the moon wax and wane, and determined the path of the sun and stars.51 He yoked swiftness to wind and clouds.52 He clothed the heavenly realms with light.53 He it was who made morning and noon and night.54 He created kine, waters and plants.55 He created human beings and their spirits, breathed life in their bodies and endowed them with the freedom of wi11.56 He inspired love between the son and father.57 He made sleep and wakefulness.58 He is the beneficent dispenser of blessings to mankind.59 Weal and woe are ordained by him.60

40. Y44.7.

41. Y31.7.

42. Y44.5.

43. Y31.8; 44.4; 45.4.

44. Y31.7, 8; 44.3; 47.2.

45. Y44.7.

46. Y31.9; 44.7; 45.4.

47. Y51.7.

48. Y31.9; 47.3.

49. Y44.6; 50.11.

50. Y44.4.

51. Y44.3.

52. Y44.4.

53. Y31.7.

54. Y44.5.

55. Y44.4; 48.6; 51.7.

56. Y31.11; 46.6.

57. Y44.7.

58. Y44.5.

59. Y28.5; 33.11; 48.3.

60. Y45.9.

Ahura Mazda is the lord of wisdom. The very name of the godhead embodies in itself great wisdom. Ahura Mazda is the wise lord.61 He has created the universe through his wisdom and rules it through wisdom. He is the most knowing one.62 He is the far-seeing one,63 and so is he the all-seeing one.64 He knows all that is done in the past and all that will be done in the future, and judges through his omniscience.65 Zarathushtra seeks knowledge from him of what will be and what will not be.66 Through his Best Mind he knows man's desert at the reckoning.67 Human beings have their masks drawn on their faces and none can see what is hidden within. But Ahura Mazda has an eye over them all and with penetrating eyes he sees their open and secret faults.68 None can deceive his wisdom,69 for he is undeceivable.70 He is the consummate teacher of those who believingly hear him and become of one mind with him and who, inspired by Asha and Vohu Manah, exalt him by their words and deeds.71

61. Y29.6; 45.3; 48.2, 3.

62. Y46.19.

63. Y33.13.

64. Y45.4.

65. Y29.4.

66. Y31.5.

67. Y32.6, 7.

68. Y31.13.

69. Y43.6.

70. Y45.4.

71. Y51.3.

Ahura Mazda is the law-giver and judge. With the creation of man Ahura Mazda has ordained laws for the rightful conduct of his life.72 The great mission of the prophet is to acquaint [35] mankind with these and to lead all to see for themselves with their intelligence that their welfare depends on the faithful adherence to them. He exhorts his hearers to give a careful hearing to his words, understand with clear discernment what he tells them, and, with the discreet exercise of the freedom of the will, with which Ahura Mazda has endowed them, make their own choice of conduct.73 The divine law-giver has established the moral order in the beginning of the world.74 He has ordained the commandments of reward and retribution to the righteous and the wicked, and Zarathushtra asks his followers to keep them in mind and live lawful lives so that they may thereby win felicity for themselves.75 Every man and every woman that lives this earthly life will have to stand at the reckoning one day to receive his or her own desert, and Zarathushtra teaches them all the laws of the requitals of human conduct in which Ahura Mazda himself has instructed him.76 Ahura Mazda is the lord who knows and watches and judges the deeds of mortals.77 He holds the destinies of mankind in his hands and apportions reward and retribution unto the righteous and the wicked.78 The righteous souls will live in the abode of Ahura Mazda.79 He punishes the wrong-doers just as he rewards the righteous, but he shows compassion also and forgives when the penitent sinner casts himself on his mercy.80

72. Y46.15; 51.19.

73. Y30.2.

74. Y46.6.

75. Y30.11; 45.7; 51.6.

76. Y31.14.

77. Y29.4; 31.8.

78. Y43.4, 5.

79. Y30.10; 48.7; 49.10.

80. Y30.2.




Spenta Mainyu is the self-revealing activity of Ahura Mazda. The supreme godhead, we have seen, is immutable, perfect, spiritual unity. 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 supersensuous 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, Holy Spirit. Spenta Mainyu is as old as Ahura Mazda, for be ever was in Ahura Mazda and with Ahura Mazda. Though he is thus part of Ahura Mazda, in his manifestation as the working self of Ahura Mazda he is different from Ahura Mazda. 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 by 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, who are spoken of as twins, emerged from the divine bosom and by their innate choice appeared as the better and the bad in thought, word, and deed.1 He, the Most Holy Spirit, chose righteousness and he who is called the Evil Spirit [37] wooed the worst as his sphere of action.2 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 -- in nothing could they twain ever meet.3 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.4

1. Y30.3.

2. Y30.5.

3. Y45.2.

4. Y30.4.

The Gathas variously speak of Spenta Mainyu either as the attribute of Ahura Mazda or as his vicegerent, or as his co-worker, or as identified with him or as distinct from him. It is Spenta Mainyu that Ahura Mazda creates cattle and water and plants and all that exist.5 Ahura Mazda is asked to give ear to man's invocation through Spenta Mainyu,6 and to strength through him.7 Through him does Ahura Mazda give Perfection and Immortality unto the pious who live a righteous and devoted life of best thoughts, words, and deeds.8 Ahura Mazda is implored to teach by his own mouth, on behalf of his Spirit, how the world first came into being.9 It is through his Spirit that Ahura Mazda furthers his blessed realms10 He gives the best unto the righteous through Spenta Mainyu.11 Zarathushtra asks Ahura Mazda what award will he make unto the believers and the non-believers through his Spirit.12 Mazda will come at the final dispensation with Spenta Mainyu.13 Through him does one win the felicity of paradise.14 The devout seek to be acquainted with the works of Spenta Mainyu.15 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 hearts and minds.16 Spenta Mainyu is the friend of all and he protects them through Righteousness in both the worlds from transgression.17 It is the wicked that are hurt by him.18 Spenta Mainyu or the Holy Spirit is sometimes spoken [38] of as the Good Spirit,19 or the Best Spirit,20 or the Most Holy Spirit.21 This superlative title, the Most Holy Spirit, is sometimes applied to Ahura Mazda himself.22 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.23 The Most Holy Spirit, the one who stands in opposition to his evil twin brother, dons the massive heavens for his garment.24

5. Y44.7; 47.3; 51.7.

6. Y45.6.

7. Y33.12.

8. Y47.1.

9. Y28.11.

10. Y31.7.

11. Y47.5.

12. Y31.3; 47.6.

13. Y43.6.

14. Y43.2.

15. Y28.1.

16. Y31.12.

17. Y44.2.

18. Y47.4.

19. Y45.5.

20. Y33.6.

21. Y47.2.

22. Y33.12; 43.2; 45.5; 51.7.

23. Y43.16.

24. Y30.5; for Spenta Mainyu see Jackson, Zoroastrian Studies, p. 29, 30, 32, 33, 40, 69, 71; Gray, The Foundations of the Iranian Religions, p. 101-106; Kanga, A New Interpretation of the Spenta Mainyu of the Gathas, Bombay, 1933.



Amesha Spentas in the making. Zarathushtra holds before mankind six cardinal virtues of Ahura Mazda for emulation. Primarily, they are pure abstractions, etherealized moral concepts, symbolic ideals, abstract figures. They have no individuality, no characteristics, no mythology as the Indo-Iranian divinities have. Zarathushtra aims at replacing the divine beings that owe their origin to some natural phenomena and later rise to moral stature, by spiritual ideals. The heavenly beings that he finds honoured among his people are such ancient beings that have evolved from the various aspects of nature. Such are Mithra and his associates that hold spiritual sway over the hearts of the Iranian peoples. The prophet substitutes for these august concrete beings his worshipful attributes of Ahura Mazda. In the heavenly hierarchy they represent altogether a novel feature. They are entirely unlike the gods whom mankind had been accustomed to worship under various names before his advent. He names these divine qualifications Vohu Manah, 'Good Mind,' Asha, 'Righteousness,' Khshathra, 'Divine Kingdom,' Armaiti, 'Devotion,' Haurvatat, 'Perfection,' and Ameretat, 'Immortality.' They form Ahura Mazda's being. That is, Vohu Manah is Ahura Mazda's Good Mind or Good Thought, Asha is his Righteousness and so are others his different virtues. This idealistic phase that Zarathushtra puts before man does not long retain its character. The abstract virtues soon get detached from Ahura Mazda and assume thin personification. In two instances we meet with the appellative terms Mazdâo (schâ) Ahurâonghô 'Ahura Mazda and his associates,'1 like the Vedic plural expressions Varunas and Rudras.2 Here we witness the Amesha Spentas or the Holy Immortals of the post-Gathic period in the making.

1. Y30.9; 31.4.

2. See Tiele, The Religion of the Persian Peoples, tr. Nariman, p. 116.

[40] These six divine attributes which we have said tend towards forming the heavenly host of Ahura Mazda, it is suggested, have originated under the influence of the Vedic Adityas.3 Unlike the seven Gathic divine appellations, the Adityas, however, are variously spoken of as six or seven or eight or even twelve in number. They include great Vedic divinities like Varuna, Mitra, Aryaman, Indra, and others and even sun and moon and fire. Zarathushtra has set his face against them. His spiritual impersonations of the godhead are, it seems to us, a class by themselves and are particular to him.

3. Moulton, Early Zoroastrianism, p. 98 f., 117, 240; Geiger, Die Amesha Spentas, p. 164-245; Gray, The Foundations of the Iranian Religions, p. 17.

Vohu Manah, Asha, and Khshathra are neuter nouns taken in the later Avestan as male members of the divine hierarchy and Armaiti, Haurvatat, and Ameretat are feminine names. They occur in the different Gathic stanzas individually or two or three or four or more together indefinitely. The hexad, or taken along with Ahura Mazda, the heptad, is not fixed in the Gathas as we find it in the later Avesta, where it is expressly said that the Holy Immortals are seven. Yet we have instances where Ahura Mazda and his six epithets are mentioned together.4 Asha stands first in the number of times he is mentioned and Vohu Manah, though first of the heavenly host, comes second. They are followed by Khshathra and Armaiti respectively. Haurvatat and Ameretat, who invariably occur together, make up the rear. With the exception of Vohu Manah, whose name is always a fixed compound with Vohu, 'Good,' qualifying Manah, 'Mind,' all the others have not the stereotyped epithets that the four of them are given at the later period. At times Vohu Manah's epithet designating his goodness is transferred to Khshathra.5 As the process towards the personification of Ahura Mazda's attributes has already begun, it is often extremely difficult to decide whether the qualitative divine expressions stand for personified beings or as abstract nouns designating certain virtues in application to Ahura Mazda himself or to man.

4. Y34.11; 45.10; 47.1.

5. Y31.22; 51.1.

The prominent feature of these six abstract attributes when they have fully grown into Ahura Mazda's ministering angels is the twofold character of work they are assigned to perform. [41] In addition to a specific virtue that each represents on the spiritual side, a material object is put under his or her direct guardianship on the physical side. This physical aspect of their functions is most marked in the later period. Its origin, however, can be traced in the Gathas where we find a beginning already made of associating some one material creation with every one of them. We shall now deal with them individually.


The first in Ahura Mazda's creation. When Ahura Mazda was with none beside him, in his supreme isolation, he evolved in his mind the thought of creating the universe. He named his first creation after his mind and called him Vohu Manah, Good Mind.6 Zarathushtra fondly speaks of him as Ahura Mazda's son.7 He is often addressed in the Gathas in the superlative as Vahishta Manah, Best Mind.8 Occasionally, Vohu Manah is converted into Vohu Mainyu, Good Spirit9 or Vahishta Mainyu, Best Spirit.10 It has to be noted that Vohu Mainyu or Vahishta Mainyu has nothing in common with Spenta Mainyu or the Holy Spirit, the first of the two Primeval Spirits of Ahura Mazda.

6. Y44.4.

7. Y31.8; 45.4.

8. Y28.9; 31.4, 7; 32.6, 11; 33.9; 41.1; 50.1, 4; 51.4.

9. Y45.5; 48.8.

10. Y33.6.

Vohu Manah is Ahura Mazda's Good Thought. The ethical system of Zarathushtra has the triad of good thoughts, good words and good deeds as its basis. Good words and good deeds proceed from good thoughts and good thoughts are inspired in man by Vohu Manah. In all his waking hours man thinks and thinks incessantly. He thinks useful thoughts and wise thoughts and great thoughts and wholesome thoughts and kindly thoughts and virtuous thoughts and good thoughts. But he thinks also idle thoughts and foolish thoughts and mean thoughts and malicious thoughts and cruel thoughts and vicious thoughts and evil thoughts. The mind soars high and wings its way in the realm of righteousness or it sinks low and grovels in the mire of wickedness. Man thinks thoughts, but thoughts make man. Thoughts make him a human being, a saint, and an angel; and thoughts [42] make him an animal, a sinner, and a demon. Man is thought materialized in word and deed. Vohu Manah is the ideal that man as a thinking being has to realize.

Vohu Manah symbolizes Ahura Mazda's wisdom. Man thinks but he reasons besides, and his reasoning raises him above the level of the animal world. The Gathas employ khratu and chisti to designate wisdom. They do not, however, classify wisdom as the later Avesta distinguishes the innate wisdom from the acquired wisdom. The loftiest ideal for man upon earth is to be like unto Ahura Mazda and it is through the wisdom of Vohu Manah that man can realize it.11 Zarathushtra invokes Ahura Mazda to grant him the wisdom of Vohu Manah,12 and longs to be acquainted with the decrees of Vohu Manah.13 He desires to know to whom among his followers will the wisdom of Vohu Manah descend.14 The wise man of good understanding performs deeds that are pleasing to Vohu Manah.15 The enlightenment that Vohu Manah gives enables the devout to practise the doctrines of weal and woe.16 They pray for thoughts to turn where wisdom abides.17 Mazda is implored to fulfil the desires of the wise who are devoted to Vohu Manah18

11. Y48.3.

12. Y28.1.

13. Y48.9.

14. Y48.11.

15. Y34.10.

16. Y34.7.

17. Y30.9.

18. Y28.10.

Vohu Manah's grace. Zarathushtra adores Vohu Manah with songs of praise,19 and teaches his followers to offer him praise.20 He asks Ahura Mazda to teach him how best he could inspire men to the deeds of Vohu Manah.21 He tells his heavenly father that he will always work for the furtherance of the domain of Vohu Manah,22 and adds that as long as he has strength left in him he will, in union with Vohu Manah, lead mankind on the path of righteousness.23 He implores Ahura Mazda to come down to him through Vohu Manah.24 Through Vohu Manah does the prophet long to reach Ahura Mazda,25 and through the performance of the deeds pleasing unto Vohu Manah does he long to glorify and reach his maker.26 Pouruchisti is advised to seek Vohu Manah's fellowship.27 The devout seek to propitiate Vohu Manah to win his kinship.28 Ahura Mazda is besought by them to be the revealer of Vohu Manah [43] unto them.29 When enlightenment descends upon Zarathushtra, he longs to see Vohu Manah,30 and prays that he may come to help him.31 His yearning to have a glimpse of the divine mind is satisfied. Vohu Manah comes to him and illumines his mind.32 The prophet seeks to know from him the rules of life that lead to happiness.33 Vohu Manah teaches him the working of Ahura Mazda.34 He asks Mazda to teach him through Vohu Manah his secret doctrines.35

19. Y28.3.

20. Y30.1.

21. Y48.8.

22. Y28.11.

23. Y28.4.

24. Y28.6.

25. Y28.2.

26. Y50.9, 10.

27. Y53.3.

28. Y45.9.

29. Y31.17.

30. Y28.5.

31. Y28.3.

32. Y43.7, 9, 11, 13, 15.

33. Y44.8.

34. Y45.6.

35. Y50.6.

Life led according to the promptings of Vohu Manah is life lived well and Zarathushtra prays for the life, of Good Mind.36 The blessings of Vohu Manah form the precious reward for man and are gained through the performance of good deeds inspired by righteousness.37 Zarathushtra longs to know through Vohu Manah the straight paths of life.38 There are the paths of Vohu Manah and Mazda is invoked to reveal them,39 Ahura Mazda grants the prayer and speaks about the paths of Vohu Manah to Zarathushtra.40 Wicked persons mislead men who strive to live an upright life and follow the paths of Vohu Manah.41 The prophet warns his followers against the evil teachers who keep them back from appreciating the worth of acquisition of Vohu Manah.42 The evil-minded Bendva defies the counsel of Vohu Manah.43 The faithful are eager to learn how they could keep far from those that do not seek Vohu Manah's counsel.44 The evil doers are separated from Vohu Manah.45 Vohu Manah leaves those who do not practise righteousness,46 and righteousness flees from those who follow not Vohu Manah, in the same manner as noxious creatures fly from men,47 The pious therefore declare that they will not annoy Vohu Manah.48 Vohu Manah is dispenser of the riches of the well disciplined mind and Zarathushtra longs to win it through righteousness.49 The pious invoke Mazda to reward their efforts to lead righteous lives by bestowing upon them the riches of Vohu Manah.50 It is the [44] teachers of evil that prevent men from valuing these riches.51 The prophet prays for the gifts of Vohu Manah for himself and his associates.52 Vohu Manah's reward is an incomparable blessing.53 Ahura Mazda is asked to grant the wishes of those who are worthy of Vohu Manah's reward owing to their righteousness.54 Those that are good unto men who endeavour to lead righteous lives will share the blessings of Vohu Manah.55 They are religious in truth who embrace the good thoughts of Vohu Manah and base their actions of life upon them; such persons win prosperity and happiness.56 The prophet prays for chieftainship through Vohu Manah.57 Man obtains power through goodness of his mind and he invokes Ahura Mazda to grant him that power through Vohu Manah.58 Zarathushtra asks Vohu Manah to bestow power upon his disciples.59 Girt with such power, man can wage a successful war against wickedness, therefore do the votaries beseech Vohu Manah to endow them with it.60 Mazda gives power unto the righteous as reward through Vohu Manah.61 He is invoked to give endurance and durability through Vohu Manah.62 These he gives and in addition he bequeaths upon the good, perfection and immortality.63 Those who in obedience to the teachings of the prophet do the deeds of Vohu Manah are given good abodes and joy in life,64 and perfection and immortality.65 Whoso befriends Mazda through thoughts and deeds will be given steadfastness of Vohu Manah.66 Vohu Manah protects the poor.67 Through him does Ahura Mazda know the deserts of mankind.68 Zarathushtra asks Mazda to let him know the award he will give him through Vohu Manah.69 Those in whose life righteousness and devotion are blended, further the dominion of Vohu Manah.70 The righteous bring prosperity to the World through the deeds of Vohu Manah71 Mazda awards his bounty to those who through deeds of Vohu Manah work for the world.72 He promotes the [45] best wishes of the truthful workers through Vohu Manah.73 The prophet promises to give through Vohu Manah the best that is in his power to those who rejoice him by their goodness.74 One acquires the best of the Holy Spirit through the words of Vohu Manah and the devotion of Armaiti.75 Vohu Manah furthers the Kingdom of Ahura Mazda.76 He prospers the possessions of those that rejoice Zarathushtra.77 He welcomes the Turanian Fryans to the joy of Mazda.78 Vohu Manah will announce the advent of the Kingdom of Ahura Mazda.79 He will establish it at the end of time for those who have helped righteousness to rout wickedness.80 He will come to the help of the Saoshyants at the Renovation.81

36. Y43.1.
37. Y28.7; Y43.16.
38. Y33.6.
39. Y34.12.
40. Y34.13.
41. Y32.11.
42. Y32.9.
43. Y49.2.
44. Y44.13.
45. Y32.4.
46. Y34.8.
47. Y34.9.
48. Y28.9.
49. Y46.2.
50. Y43.2.
51. Y32.9.
52. Y28.8.
53. Y33.13.
54. Y28.10.
55. Y33.3.
56. Y49.5.
57. Y49.3.
58. Y33.5, 12; Y44.6; Y51.21.
59. Y29.10.
60. Y31.4.
61. Y46.10.
62. Y51.7.
63. Y45.10.
64. Y29.10.
65. Y45.5.
66. Y31.21.
67. Y34.5.
68. Y32.6.
69. Y31.5.
70. Y34.11.
71. Y43.6.
72. Y34.14.
73. Y50.11.
74. Y46.18.
75. Y47.2.
76. Y31.6.
77. Y46.13.
78. Y46.12.
79. Y44.6.
80. Y30.8.
81. Y46.3.

Vohu Manah's relation to paradise. This becomes most marked in the later period. The beginning towards this phase is already to be noted in the Gathas. Vahishta Manah or Best Thought is spoken of as the paradise itself where the righteous will go after death.82 Vohu Manah dwells in the heavenly home along with Mazda and Asha.83 Paradise is said to be the heritage of Vohu Manah.84 Zarathushtra knows the rewards of deeds done for Ahura Mazda and desires to lead his soul to paradise through Vohu Manah.85 Those who oppose the evil deeds of the wicked who are wilfully blind and deaf to the teachings of the prophet, will go to the heavenly abode of Vohu Manah.86 The mighty power of Vohu Manah will be manifested when Mazda will deal out justice to the righteous, and the wicked through his fire87 Through the words of Vohu Manah the prophet honours those who have worked for the divine purpose and whom Mazda will therefore gather in his abode.88 The pious pray for long life of felicity in the paradisiac domain of Vohu Manah.89

82. Y30.4.

83. Y30.10; Y44.9.

84. Y53.4.

85. Y28.4.

86. Y32.15.

87. Y43.4.

88. Y46.14.

89. Y33.5.

Vohu Manah in association with cattle. Vohu Manah's connection with animal life is hinted in the Gathas. This trait becomes much emphasized in the later period when he becomes the genius of cattle and takes the animal world under his protection, [46] as a secondary part of his function as the premier angel of Ahura Mazda. When Geush Urvan, as the genius of the sentient beings, living upon earth, complains of the wrath and rapine to which the animal kingdom is subjected, Vohu Manah consoles her with the gladsome news that the creator of the world was sending Zarathushtra, his messenger, to teach mankind to protect the cattle and kine.90 In consultation with Vohu Manah, it is said, Ahura Mazda created cattle and pastures to feed them.91 Vohu Manah is the protector of cattle.92 They are a precious asset of Vohu Manah and give durability and endurance to mankind.93 It is through the good understanding of Vohu Manah, that men are inspired to work for cattle.94

90. Y29.7, 8.

91. Y47.3.

92. Y50.1.

93. Y48.6.

94. Y45.9.


The Indo-Iranians recognize a universal order prevailing in the world. Life upon the earth reveals to man that a smooth and graceful and ordered movement goes on all around him in nature. Spring and summer, autumn and winter, with their ceaseless seasonal succession of changes, take their unvarying course. The tides rise and fan punctually. The dawn and morn and noon and evening and night go their uninterrupted daily round. The dying day gives birth to the night The night hangs its myriad of silvery lamps to lighten the darkness. The dawn breaks to resurrect the day and the day goes the perennial round of its birth. The heavens and their glittering hosts, the sun and the moon and the stars and the planets march at a regulated space. Despite the casual freaks and caprices, the laws governing the movements of nature seem to be immutable. This unfailing regularity of nature led the Indo-Iranians to discern the fact that a stable order prevailed in the universe which ensured its existence. They callled it rta. They emulated this universal order and introduced it in all their human activities. They offered prayers to gods, they sacrificed to them seasonal offerings. All this was to be done at fixed times, reciting specific formulas, chanted in a prescribed manner and with regulated movements of sacred implements. The ceremonials were thus to be per [47] formed in accordance with the established rules and under a fixed order. This order was rta in rituals or rite, a word derived from the same stem. Thus step by step they advanced higher and saw that human life can best be lived when man's relations with his neighbours, his duty towards his fellowmen and towards the heavenly beings were regulated according to fixed laws. Thus they came to recognition of a basic moral order regulating human affairs and understood by rta employed in ethical matters as right or righteousness, word, of the same significance. Varuna, Mitra, and the Adityas, as also Agni and Soma, came to be regarded as the upholders of the moral order.

Zarathushtra adopts Asha, the variant of rta. A cardinal figures most prominently in the Gathas is Asha. Its familiar and widely known Iranian variant is arta, areta, equivalent to the Vedic rta. Words derived from this stem must been freely used in Western Asia and surrounding countries about four thousand years ago. We gather from the clay bearing cuneiform inscriptions discovered at Tell-el-Amarna in Middle Egypt and the great find of tablets at Boghaz-Keui in Asia Minor that Dushratta, a Mitanni king, was ruling in Syria about 1600 B.C. In his letter to his brother-in-law Amenhetep III of Egypt he mentions his brothers who bear the names Artashumara and Artatama. His grandfather also was named Artatama. Zarathushtra thus finds the stem arta or areta in vogue, but we do not find him using it in the Gathas. He uses its variant asha instead and makes it the basic foundation for the structure of his moral philosophy. The Later Avestan works follow him in their general use of the word. It is in the Old Persian inscriptions, however, that we find the use of arta as an element of proper names. The Pahlavi writers make a more frequent use of the arta form than of asha.

Asha stands for Ahura Mazda's righteousness. Ahura Mazda is the father of Asha, says Zarathushtra.95 He created Asha through his wisdom.96 Asha is of one will with Ahura Mazda97 He is the counsellor of Ahura Mazda,98 and lives in one abode with Ahura Mazda and Vohu Manah.99 He is given the attribute Vahishta, 'best'.100 It is not employed in the Gathas [48] as his fixed title, as it becomes in the later Avesta where Asha Vahishta is used as a compound word.

95. Y44.3; Y47.2.

96. Y31.7, 8.

97. Y28.8, 29.7.

98. Y46.17.

99. Y44.9.

100. Y28.8.

The Vedic poet asks why does the sun fall not from the sky, why do waters of the rivers flowing into the ocean not fill it, where do the stars go during the day and similar questions pertaining to the working of the cosmic order in nature. Zarathushtra, in like manner, asks Ahura Mazda to tell him who is the father of Asha, the embodiment of the order ruling the world, who has determined the path of the sun and the stars, and by whom does the moon wax and wane,101 who upholds the earth and the firmament from falling, who has made waters and plants and who has given swiftness to winds and clouds,102 who has made light and darkness, and morning and noon and night.103 In one place we find him telling Ahura Mazda that the sun and the dawn take their course for his glorification through Asha.104 Asha's one epithet is the shining one.105

101. Y44.3.

102. Y44.4.

103. Y44.5.

104. Y50.10.

105. Y32.2.

A few passages lead us to trace some connection between Asha and the ritualistic order. Zarathushtra speaks of himself as a zaotar, Vedic hotar, sacrificing priest, and says that he learns the straight or orderly way through Asha.106 Ceremonial offerings are made unto Ahura Mazda and Asha.107 Ahura Mazda knows those who are best in the celebration of the Yasna sacrifice according to Asha.108 The devout make ceremonial offerings to Asha along with Ahura Mazda.109

106. Y33.6.

107. Y34.3.

108. Y51.22.

109. Y34.3.

Zarathushtra best exemplifies Asha's righteousness in his life. Zarathushtra is pure in body, mind, and spirit. He is the embodiment of good thoughts, good words, and good deeds. He thinks, speaks, and acts righteousness. He lives in the atmosphere of righteousness and radiates it all around him. He is the very righteousness itself living in flesh for the good of mankind. Righteousness sustains him in his hardships and trials. When his great prophetic work is beset with untold difficulties; when the prophet of Ahura faces opposition on all sides; when friends desert his company and kinsmen abandon his cause; when the rulers of the land look upon him with suspicion and the wicked seek to compass his ruin; when, friendless and forsaken, hissed and hooted, ridiculed and persecuted, he roams about the villages [49] and towns of Iran, he turns his eager eyes to Mazda and Asha in search of inward peace, and obtains it.110 Reduced to the verge of the direst poverty, Zarathushtra does not seek earthly riches, but the imperishable wealth of the spirit, that is, righteousness.

110. Y28.6.

Righteousness is the pivot around which the ethics of Zarathushtra revolves. Asha is the highest word in the Zoroastrian terminology, and its derivative ashavan forms the epithet of the man who is most saintly and possesses the noblest character. The term is applied to Ahura Mazda, Zarathushtra, and to all who are religious. Righteousness is the will of Ahura Mazda; it is the rule of man's duty, and to be righteous is synonymous with being religious. The law of righteousness is the norm to which the faithful has to conform his life in this world. Good thoughts, good words, and good deeds form the ethical foundation upon which righteousness rests and the basis upon which the entire structure of the system of the Mazdayasnian philosophy is reared. This noble truth, at once so pithy and simple, is accessible to all. It does not appeal to the intellectual few and leave aside the ignorant many; nor does it remain the prerogative of a few thinkers and philosophers; but it can reach all and become the cherished possession of the prince and peasant alike. Every Zoroastrian child imbibes the triad of good thoughts, good words, and good deeds at its mother's breast.

Zarathushtra longs to see Asha. Zarathushtra yearns to make Asha his own along with Ahura Mazda and Vohu Manah.111 He longs to see Asha and his heavenly associates.112 He is eager to behold him coming with the devotion of Armaiti.113 Through the deeds prompted by the good thoughts of Vohu Manah he aspires to reach Asha.114 He implores Asha to come unto him along with Ahura Mazda and Vohu Manah.115 He advises his daughter Pouruchisti to seek fellowship with Asha.116 He prays that Hvogva may make Asha her own.117 He longs for the day when Asha will come among the Fryan nobility through Armaiti.118 He counsels marrying couples that as husbands and wives they should strive to excel one another in their pursuit of Asha.119 Asha is approached through the practice of noble deeds according to the primeval laws ordained by Ahura [50] Mazda.120 Zarathushtra looks for devotion to come with Asha among his followers.121 Those who live in communion with Asha reap the best reward.122 Zarathushtra prays for the blessings of Asha.123 Asha is asked to grant that blessing which forms the reward of Vohu Manah.124 Zarathushtra, says Ahura Mazda, is the one man who has heard the divine commandments and undertaken to live and work for the furtherance of Asha's righteousness.125 The prophet of Ahura Mazda declares that as long as he shall have vigour and strength he will urge all to yearn for Asha,126 and work for the spread of Asha's precepts.127 He adds further that he shall protect Asha's righteousness all his life.128 The pious everywhere welcome Asha's manifestation,129 and the wise uphold him through their words and deeds.130 Whoso spreads Asha's righteousness in the house and district is like unto Ahura Mazda.131 Those that are best unto the righteous ones shall be in the pastures of Asha and Vohu Manah.132

111. Y28.3.
112. Y28.5.
113. Y43.10.
114. Y50.9.
115. Y33.7.
116. Y53.3.
117. Y51.17.
118. Y46.12.
119. Y53.5.
120. Y46.15.
121. Y48.11.
122. Y49.9.
123. Y51.10.
124. Y28.7.
125. Y29.8.
126. Y28.4.
127. Y32.6.
128. Y28.11.
129. Y48.8.
130. Y31.22.
131. Y31.16.
132. Y33.3.

Asha's work. Zarathushtra knows Ahura Mazda through Asha.133 He prays for the good deeds of the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of Vohu Manah.134 He asks Ahura Mazda to give help through Asha,135 and beseeches him to grant the desires of those who are devoted to Asha.136 Ahura Mazda gives riches of Vohu Manah through Asha,137 and Zarathushtra seeks to learn how the riches can be obtained.138 Those who put down violence and strife gain Vohu Manah's reward through Asha.139 He is implored to come through Asha and Vohu Manah,140 and asked to give mighty power through Asha.141 Those who practise righteousness win power as reward from Ahura Mazda through Vohu Manah.142 Zarathushtra asks Ahura Mazda what reward will be given him through Asha and Vohu Manah.143 These rewards are the blessings of both worlds given by Ahura Mazda through Asha.144 Zarathushtra asks Asha together with Vohu Manah about the rules of life that lead to happiness.145 Ahura Mazda sees open and secret faults of men through [51] Asha146 Kinship with Vohu Manah is sought through Asha.147 Ahura Mazda wields power between the rival factions of righteousness and wickedness through Asha.148 Through Asha and Vohu Manah Ahura Mazda apportions vigour and durability, weal and immortality unto those who practise righteousness and good thinking.149 Through Asha's righteousness does the world prosper by deeds prompted by Vohu Manah's good thoughts.150 Through Asha again is Ahura Mazda's help sought that Vohu Manah may come.151 Ahura Mazda is implored to reveal knowledge of the path of Vohu Manah through Asha.152 The creator of the world confers with Asha to know about a lord who can alleviate the sufferings of the kine.153 Zarathushtra seeks to know through Vohu Manah what Asha said to the creator.154 Ahura Mazda is asked to give long life which is Asha's gift.155 The pious declare that they will never provoke the wrath of Asha.156

133. Y45.8.
134. Y28.1.
135. Y28.6.
136. Y28.10.
137. Y43.2.
138. Y46.2.
139. Y48.7.
140. Y33.7.
141. Y33.12.
142. Y46.10.
143. Y31.5.
144. Y28.2.
145. Y44.8.
146. Y31.13.
147. Y45.9.
148. Y44.15.
149. Y45.10.
150. Y43.6.
151. Y44.1
152. Y34.12.
153. Y29.2, 3, 6.
154. Y46.9.
155. Y28.6.
156. Y28.9.

Ahura Mazda asks Zarathushtra to seek information from Asha.157 Asha gives counsel to those who listen to him.158 Wisdom exalts communities through Asha's righteousness.159 Ahura Mazda knows what is best for man in this life through Asha.160 He teaches his best doctrines through Asha.161 Armaiti is asked to enlighten the conscience of men through Asha.162 Men of good understanding know Armaiti's devotion as the source of Asha's righteousness.163 Asha and Armaiti are united in the heavenly realms.164 Ahura Mazda has devised his creed with Asha that Vishtaspa embraces.165 Asha gives power to his zealous adherents.166 He furthers men's possessions.167 Men make the pastures prosper through the practice of Asha's righteousness.168 The wicked strive to hinder the good work of those who further Asha's righteousness by prospering the cattle by their diligence.169 Ahura Mazda created plants for the cattle.170 Diligent persons gain cattle through Asha.171 The prophet is awarded precious animals and weal and immortality by Ahura Mazda through Asha.172

157. Y43.12.
158. Y51.11.
159. Y34.14.
160. Y45.4.
161. Y48.3.
162. Y33.13.
163. Y34.10.
164. Y46.16.
165. Y51.16.
166. Y51.1
167. Y33.11.
168. Y44.20.
169. Y46.4.
170. Y48.6.
171. Y51.5.
172. Y44.18.

[52] The path of righteousness. The Rig Veda refers to the path of rta.173 The Gathas similarly speak of the path of Asha, righteousness, and the idea, as we shall see later, is developed in the Later Avesta. The path of righteousness leads to paradise and the wicked souls, we are told, tremble at the Bridge of Judgment because they have deviated from the path of Asha through their words and deeds.174 Ahura Mazda dwells in the straight paths and Zarathushtra seeks their knowledge through Asha.175 Deviation from the path of righteousness spells man's destruction. Zarathushtra exhorts his hearers that every man and woman is free to choose for himself or herself the path of righteousness or the path of wickedness. The decision between the two ways of life rests with the individual. Man is the arbiter of his destiny. He has the power and freedom to choose between truth and falsehood, righteousness and wickedness, good and evil. He is responsible for the moral choice he makes and is consequently responsible for his actions. If he makes the right choice and embraces righteousness, he will reap its reward, but if, as a free agent, he chooses wickedness, the accountability will be his and his own daena or self will lead him to retribution.

173. RV. 8.31.13.

174. Y51.13.

175. Y33.5, 6.

The discipline of the individual in righteousness. The prophet inculcates righteousness in his teachings, and strictly enjoins his followers to combat wickedness. By his birthright man belongs to the world of righteousness and is sent into this world for its furtherance and for the destruction of the world of wickedness. He is a friend of the righteous and their righteousness, but a foe of the wicked and their wickedness. It is expressly said that he alone is righteous who is a friend to the righteous; but he who, through maudlin sentimentality, is good unto the wicked and palliates his wickedness is to be considered wicked, for by failing to do his duty he puts a premium on wickedness.176 To condone evil in a wicked person is a capitulation to evil. Before the individual sets out to fight wickedness in the outer world, he has first to establish order in his inner world. Concord and not discord, order and not disorder, righteousness, and not wickedness, should be his constant inward experience. With strict discipline he has to work for the spiritual development of his self. He is taught to subjugate his passions, [53] eradicate evil thoughts from his mind, and conquer the animal in him by an incessant warfare with the forces of wickedness. The path of righteousness leads to the abode of Ahura Mazda.177 But the path is not without its difficulties and trials. Firm resolution, strong will, and sustained effort are required before one can successfully tread it and reach the final goal. It needs no effort to be wicked and be a passive victim of the flesh, but it does take a hero to be righteous and live for the spirit. There are tempting pitfalls and alluring snares that beguile the devotee and lead him astray to the path of wickedness. The quest is fraught with great difficulties. But then the prize it brings is also matchless. The goal is not easy to reach. Many more are the chances of misses than of hits, and the aspirant has to try again and again before he can successfully strike the mark. Our attempt may prove fruitless for the time being, but there is merit in having aimed at realizing the ideal. If we win, it is good. If we lose, it is also good.

176. Y46.6.

177. Y33.5.

Man has to keep himself pure and clean bodily, mentally, and spiritually. Purity of body and mind is the best thing for man in life.178 It strengthens righteousness and sanctity. The blending of the virtues of Vohu Manah and Armaiti in the life of man makes him righteous. The fusion of the noble qualities both of the head and heart make the individual righteous. Vohu Manah purifies the mind, Armaiti sanctifies the heart. Vohu Manah's knowledge enlightens the world, Armaiti's devotion ennobles it. Without knowledge man is poor indeed, but without devotion he courts death in spirit. Knowledge teaches the spirit the philosophy of life, devotion lends to the spirit the zest to act it, and the true religion begins with this acting. The philosopher may think of Ahura Mazda, the metaphysician may speculate about his origin, but the devout actually imitates him in action. Knowledge gives a right view of life, teaches man about his relations to his Heavenly Father and the universe, and creates ideals for him; but devotion strives to realize these. Knowledge is good, wisdom is better; but wisdom tinged with devotion is best. The wise knows Mazda, the devout owns Mazda; and the blending of the virtues of both makes man the consummate one, the saint, the ashavan or righteous one.

178. Y48.5.

[54] Righteousness will win over wickedness. The creed of Asha leads to felicity, whereas the opposite way of wickedness brings destruction.179 Those who follow the ways of wickedness destroy the world of Asha's righteousness.180 Zarathushtra seeks from Asha and his heavenly associates power with which he and his followers may smite wickedness.181 Asha's righteousness leaves evil doers who embrace not devotion and good thinking, just as wild beasts flee from men.182 Vohu Manah leaves those who think not of Asha.183 Ahura Mazda is invoked to teach how the faithful can drive away the Druj and those persons who, in defiance of the divine precepts, follow not Asha.184 The prophet asks Ahura Mazda how best he can put wickedness in the hands of righteousness and bring punishment unto those who embrace wickedness.185 Vohu Manah will establish the divine kingdom of Ahura Mazda for those who vanquish wickedness and deliver it into the hands of Asha.186 The world will ultimately embrace righteousness through the efficacious teachings of the Saviours of the world and Ahura Mazda is asked to declare when that happy day will dawn over the world.187 Zarathushtra tells Ahura Mazda that his divine purpose will be accomplished and his name will be glorified when as ordained by him both men and demons will see at the end of the world that Asha triumphs and his righteousness smites wickedness and the world will be blessed with the happy tidings.188 He fervently hopes for the period when every individual in his or her own capacity will embrace and act righteousness and will thus make the entire world of humanity gravitate towards Asha. In this consists the final victory of good over evil, and the Divine Kingdom of Ahura Mazda will come when righteousness wholly pervades the universe. All, therefore, have to contribute to this mighty work. The righteous ones living in different ages and at different places form the members of one righteous group, inasmuch as they are all actuated by one and the same motive and work for the common cause. Though differentiated by time and place, as also by their respective tenements of clay, they are one in spirit, and work for the inauguration of the Kingdom of Righteousness.

179. Y49.3.

180. Y31.1.

181. Y31.4.

182. Y34.9.

183. Y34.8.

184. Y44.13.

185. Y44.14.

186. Y30.8.

187. Y46.3.

188. Y48.1, 2.

[55] Fire is the visible symbol of righteousness. Zarathushtra says that the best offerings that the pious can make to the fire of Ahura Mazda are the righteous deeds inspired by Asha and proclaims that as long as he has vitality left in him he will think of Asha whenever he will carry his gift of adoration unto fire.l89 Through the fire and the thought of Ahura Mazda, he says, he will find protection against the Evil Spirit and his evil machinations and it is through them that Asha's righteousness will thrive.190

189. Y43.9.

190. Y46.7.

Physical impurity is removed by fire and Zarathushtra employs this emblem of purification in the eschatological sense to burn and destroy spiritual uncleanliness or sin. Thus will the fire be the great purifier of souls steeped in wickedness. Through Asha and fire will Ahura Mazda give his final award unto the good and the evil.191 Asha and Armaiti will help Ahura Mazda when he will separate the righteous from the wicked through his fire.192 The fire of Ahura Mazda is mighty through Asha and will bring manifest joy unto the righteous but a visible harm unto the wicked.193 Ahura Mazda's might and holiness, says Zarathushtra, will be manifest when he will deal out the destinies unto the righteous and the wicked through the glow of fire strengthened by Asha.194

191. Y31.3, 19.

192. Y47.6.

193. Y34.4.

194. Y43.4.


The sovereign power of Ahura Mazda. One of the first attributes that man learns to discern in the heavenly beings is their might or power. It is manifest in their activities as creatures, sustainers, and rulers. The ancestors of the Indo-Iranians called it kshatra, and applied it to Mitra, Varuna, Indra, and the Adityas. Zarathushtra, we find, adopts it in its Iranian form khshathra and uses it in its ordinary meaning, power, or applies it specifically to divine power, symbolized in the Kingdom of Ahura Mazda. He gives it the epithet vohu and calls it vohu khshathra, 'the Good Kingdom,195 or speaks of it as khshathra ishtoish, 'the Kingdom of Desire,'196 or names it Khshathra vairya, [56] 'the Wished for Kingdom.'197 Ahura Mazda has created Khshathra.198 In the post-Gathic period the compound Khshathra Vairya gains ground and is always used as the name of the archangel representing Ahura Mazda's divine majesty.

195. Y31.22; 48.8.

196. Y51.2.

197. Y43.13; 51.1.

198. Y44.7.

Zarathushtra exhorts mankind to work for the establishment of the Kingdom of Ahura Mazda. The creator, ruler, and sovereign lord of both the worlds is Ahura Mazda. The pious invoke him to lead them to work in his kingdom upon earth for the prosperity of men and their cattle.199 They pray that they may get happy homes, rich in pastures, attended by Khshathra.200 All creatures prosper in Mazda's Kingdom through Vohu Manah,201 and through him again Ahura Mazda gives Khshathra's power to the good.202 Nobler than the sphere of earthly riches is Khshathra's domain of spiritual riches. Ahura Mazda rules over his earthly kingdom and prepares mankind for his celestial kingdom of perfection and goodness that is yet to be. Despite its much good, this world harbours in its midst much that is evil. Man's work in this life is to fight and rout the forces of evil. Zarathushtra had laid the foundation of the Divine Kingdom and has assigned to man the stupendous task of building and establishing the ideal kingdom in which good alone will exist. Evil lurks in man and through man bestrides the world. It is his duty to cleanse his inner nature of all impurity and eradicate evil from the world without. Zarathushtra is hopeful and confident that one day evil will not be. It is left to man to bring that day near or keep it at a distance. It is in his hands to accomplish it now or keep it long in the coming. The prophet of Ahura Mazda is in earnest and eager to hasten its advent. He asserts, with repeated emphasis, that the Kingdom is near at hand, if only mankind sets about zealously and strenuously to inaugrate it. He passionately exhorts his hearers not to waver, not to be staggered by the formidable nature of the task, but to aspire and work and struggle and fight for it with body and mind, heart and soul. With deep religious fervour he sings that he is ready to lay down the life of his body to lead mankind to work for the advancement of the Kingdom in obedience to the commandments of Ahura Mazda.203 With Ahura Mazda on his side, [57] he makes the good thoughts of Vohu Manah and righteousness of Asha his own and, with the burning devotion of Armaiti, he works for the advent of the imperishable Kingdom.204 Triumph of righteousness over wickedness will usher in the Kingdom and he prays for strength for himself and his followers so that they may wage a successful war against wickedness.205

199. Y45.9.

200. Y48.11.

201. Y34.3.

202. Y51.21.

203. Y33.14.

204. Y28.3.

205. Y31.4.

The pious pray that they may participate in the inauguration of the Kingdom of Mazda.206 Vohu Manah, the guardian of good thoughts, furthers the Kingdom.207 As right thinking is the source of good conduct and endeavour to work for the advent of the Divine Kingdom, it is sometimes spoken of as belonging to Vohu Manah. The Kingdom, it is said, is in the possession of Vohu Manah and Ahura Mazda and Asha and Armaiti live in it.208 The Kingdom of Vohu Manah is furthered by Asha's righteousness.209 To be worthy of entering the Divine Kingdom and living in it is man's highest aspiration. Asha assures the life in the Kingdom to those who work zealously for the furtherance of righteousness.210 Through righteousness is the divine help gained in Mazda's Kingdom.211 Zarathushtra is eager to enter the blessed Kingdom,212 and a long life of felicitous existence in it,213 and to share its splendours.214 Wise Jamaspa courts the life of righteousness and longs for the Kingdom as the gift of Vohu Manah.215 Zarathushtra prays that Frashaoshtra may win the Kingdom of Ahura Mazda for all time;216 He asks Ahura Mazda to manifest unto him the incomparable things that mankind will witness in the Divine Kingdom as the reward of Vohu Manah.217 Ahura Mazda is asked to give the Kingdom through Vohu Manah as reward to those whom he knows to be doing what is best in life.218

206. Y51.2.

207. Y30.8; 31.6.

208. Y46.16.

209. Y34.11.

210. Y51.1.

211. Y43.14.

212. Y48.8.

213. Y43.13.

214. Y43.8.

215. Y51.18.

216. Y49.8.

217. Y33.13.

218. Y46.10.

The Divine Kingdom in the world of perfection. Vohu Manah will proclaim the advent of the Kingdom.219 Ahura Mazda has ordained through Vohu Manah and Asha to give unto the good perfection and immortality in his Kingdom.220 Through [58] Khshathra he apportions the destinies unto the good and the evil according to their deserts.221 The pious yearn for the presence of Ahura Mazda with Vohu Manah, Asha, and Khshathra when they enter the paradisiacal Abode of Song.222 Ahura Mazda will come at the final goal accompanied by his Holy Spirit, Vohu Manah, Asha, Khshathra, and Armaiti.223 With evil eradicated and imperfection at an end, the world that will emerge on the occasion of the establishment of the Divine Kingdom will be altogether a new world, a perfect world.224

219. Y44.6.

220. Y45.10.

221. Y45.7.

222. Y50.4.

223. Y43.6.

224. Y34.15.

Khshathra's sphere over metals. Ahura Mazda has created the earth rich in soil and has filled its bowels with untold mineral wealth and has desired that mankind should thrive and prosper through the riches obtained by their diligence and labour. Wealth is the natural concomitant of all earthly kingdoms. All earthly and spiritual riches therefore are embodied in Khshathra. The later Avestan texts assign the guardianship of metals, the visible token of wealth, to Khshathra. The Gathas are silent over the connection of Khshathra with metals. The ordeal of molten metal does however play a prominent part in cleansing the world of all moral impurities to make way for the coming of Khshathra's Kingdom. Ahura Mazda knows best the retributions that will take place through the molten metal.225 The righteous will reap their final reward and the wicked will meet with their retribution when Ahura Mazda will judge them through the molten metal.226

225. Y30.7; 32.7.

226. Y51.9.


The feminine abstraction of Ahura Mazda's devotion. Armaiti is cognate with Vedic Aramati, who is a shadowy personification of piety or devotion, She retains the same meaning in the Gathas and is emblematic of Ahura Mazda's love or devotion. Ahura Mazda created her,227 and she is lovingly called his daughter,228 or again, his own.229 Holy or spenta, which is her standing epithet in the later period, is applied to her sometimes in the Gathas.

227. Y44.7.

228. Y31.9.

Zarathushtra's soul is wedded to Ahura Mazda through Armaiti's devotion. Through fervent meditation on his own [59] inner nature and patient study of Ahura' Mazda's marvellous work in creation, Zarathushtra understands the ways of Ahura Mazda. He knows the wise lord through the enlightenment of his mind. His heart yearns to own Ahura Mazda. From the depth of his heart, he prays unto him, invokes him in silence and with the pronounced words of his mouth. He burns incense of devotion unto his maker upon the fire burning on the altar in the holy temple of his heart. The fire first flares and flickers, then blazes and burns, and illumines the sublime path that leads to Ahura Mazda. He dedicates his will and his desire and his heart and his life and himself unto him. He loses himself in devoted love for him. He sees with Ahura Mazda's eyes and hears with Ahura Mazda's ears. He communes with him and he becomes one with him. He is eager that his hearers should share the incomparable gift of Armaiti with him. With earnest longing he asks Ahura Mazda when Armaiti's devotion will ennoble the lives of those to whom he proclaims his faith.230 The members of different ranks of Iranian society that have embraced his religion fervently pray that the good and holy Armaiti may be theirs.231 Those who have devoutly accepted the commandments of Ahura Mazda are eager to devote their hearts unto him.232

230. Y44.11.

231. Y32.2.

232. Y31.1.

Armaiti's work. Armaiti teaches the ordinances of Ahura Mazda.233 She furthers the imperishable Kingdom of Ahura Mazda.234 Those who make Armaiti's devotion their own, becomes holy.235 Armaiti blesses them with plenty and prosperity.236 Ahura Mazda is asked to give vigour through her.237 Zarathushtra asks the faithful to exalt Ahura Mazda with devotional prayers.238 His religion inspires truthful deeds through the words of Armaiti.239 In the Vedas we find Aramati linked with rta, that is, devotion in connection with the moral order.240 So we are told in the Gathas that Asha's righteousness is furthered by Armaiti.241 As righteousness is the outcome of the life of Armaiti's devotion, the wise one bases his conduct upon her inspiration.242 The prophet asks Frashaoshtra to lead the faithful to the life of communion with Asha's righteousness and

233. Y28.3.

235. Y51.21.

236. Y49.5.

237. Y33.12.

238. Y44.10.

240. RV. 5.43.6.

241. Y44.6.

242. Y34.10.

[60] Armaiti's devotion.243 For the union of both furthers the Kingdom of Vohu Manah244 The coming of Asha and Armaiti to inspire their lives is eagerly sought by the pious.245 Armaiti inquires after the misdeeds and shortcomings of the true speaker and the false speaker, the wise and the ignorant.246 The wicked Bendva, the inveterate foe of the prophet, does not follow Armaiti.247 Righteousness deserts those who know Armaiti as the beloved of Ahura Mazda, and yet estrange themselves from her devotion.248 Zarathushtra asks her to give him and Vishtaspa their heart's desire.249 He implores her to teach men's consciences through righteousness.250 She is besought to grant as a gift the riches of the life of Vohu Manah's good thoughts.251 One serves the Most Holy Spirit the best by the performance of the deeds inspired by Armaiti's devotion.252 Armaiti is invoked to send righteous sovereigns and not wicked ones to rule over the world.253 Armaiti will co-operate with Ahura Mazda at the final dispensation.254

243. Y46.16.

244. Y34.11.

245. Y43.10; 48.11.

246. Y31.12.

247. Y49.2.

248. Y34.9.

249. Y28.7.

250. Y33.13.

251. Y43.1.

252. Y47.2

253. Y48.5.

254. Y47.6.

Armaiti's relation to the earth. Sayana glosses Aramati by bhûmi, 'earth'. Armaiti plays a prominent part as the genius of earth in the later Avestan period. Though the Gathas do not clearly emphasize this aspect of her work, we can trace in them the belief in Armaiti's connection with the earth. Zarathushtra preaches the usefulness of settled agricultural life as opposed to the nomadic life prevailing in his days. He says that Ahura Mazda has laid out the beneficent path of agriculture and asks men to choose it. Armaiti is here conjointly mentioned with Geush Tashan.255 The noble descendants of the Turanian Fryana, prompted by righteousness, further the settlements of Armaiti through their diligence.255a The Maker has, in consultation with Vohu Manah, the genius of cattle, created Armaiti or earth and replenished it with pastures.256

255. Y31.9.

255a. Y46.12.

256. Y47.3.


The inseparable pair of perfection and immortality. Haurvatat and Ameretat form an indissoluble spiritual pair and are always celebrated together in the Gathas. No single hymn [61] is addressed to Haurvatat or to Ameretat alone. Haurvata means or perfection, and Ameretat is emblematic of immortality. The dual earthly gift of endurance and vigour of body is paralleled with the heavenly blessings of perfection and immortality.257 Ahura Mazda bestows through Vohu Manah and Asha endurance and vigour of body in this world and Haurvatat's perfection and Ameretat's immortality in the next, upon those who offer him the sacrifice of devotion.258 The earthly boons are the gifts of Haurvatat and Ameretat.259 Whoso piously pronounces the sacred formulas dedicated to Haurvatat and Ameretat receives the best reward.260 Through the recital of these holy words and basing their lives upon righteousness, do the faithful win for themselves the blessings of Haurvatat and Ameretat.261 Zarathushtra fervently prays for the participation in these blessings.262 Those who offer willing obedience unto the teachings of the prophet will attain unto Haurvatat and Ameretat.263 He who befriends Ahura Mazda with his thoughts and words and deeds wins them for himself.264 Man comes by them in Ahura Mazda's Kingdom through his good thoughts, words, and deeds, and his life of righteousness and devotion.265 It is the wicked who defraud mankind of happy life and immortality by means of evil thoughts, evil words, and evil deeds.266

257. Y33.8; 34.11; 51.7.

258. Y33.8.

260. Y31.6.

261. Y44.17.

262. Y44.18.

263. Y31.21.

265. Y47.1.

266. Y32.5.

Water and plants form the province of Haurvatat and Ameretat. The Gathas hint at the connection of Haurvatat and Ameretat with water and plants, over whom they preside in the Later Avesta. Ahura Mazda who has created water and plants is invoked to give Haurvatat's perfection and Ameretat's immortality.267 On the eschatological side Haurvatat figuratively represents ambrosia and Ameretat stands for nectar that the pious souls receive in heaven.268

267. Y51.7.

268. Y34.11.


Sraosha is obedience to the religious lore. In the later period, Sraosha rises to great prominence as the divine teacher [62] of Mazda's religion. Zarathushtra longs to see Sraosha",269 and prays that he may come unto every man whom Mazda Wills.270 The prophet teaches the new faith to the world of humanity. He exhorts mankind to pay heed to the words that are best for the mortals to hear and tells them that Ahura Mazda will give them perfection and immortality if they will bring Sraosha's obedience unto him.271 By teaching mankind to obey the ordinances of Ahura Mazda, and inspiring them to work according to them, through good thoughts, words, and deeds for the furtherance of righteousness in the world, Zarathushtra helps in the inauguration of the Divine Kingdom of Ahura Mazda.272 In the later period Sraosha acts as a co-assessor with Mithra and Rashnu, who all combine to make up a heavenly tribunal for the judgment of the dead. Mithra and Rashnu, the two brother judges, seated with Sraosha, do not appear in the Gathas, but a passage speaks of Sraosha's coming as a judge with the reward unto the good and evil contending parties.273 Zarathushtra invokes Sraosha as the greatest of the heavenly beings to appear at the final consummation of the world.274 269. Y28.5.

270. Y44.16.

271. Y45.5.

272. Y33.14.

273. Y43.12.

274. Y33.5.

The word sraosha occurs also in several Gathic passages in its ordinary meaning of obedience, and not as the personified spirit of this abstract virtue.


The fire cult. Atar or fire corresponds to the Vedic Agni Atar's functions are elaborately delineated in the Later Avesta. We shall therefore leave the discussion of the resemblance between them for subsequent pages. The early Aryan settlers of Iran had brought the cult to their new home as their cherished heritage bequeathed to them by their Indo-Iranian ancestors. Tradition speaks of several great sacred Iranian fires consecrated by the pre-Zoroastrian kings. The Pahlavi Bundahishn says that Yima and Kavi Haosrava established the fires Froba and Goshasp; and that Vishtaspa, the royal patron of Zarathushtra, consecrated the fire Burzin Mihr.275 The Mohammedan writers of the tenth century speak of some ten such places dedicated [63] to fire before Zoroaster's time.275a The prophet of Iran thus found the cult of fire already established in Iran when he entered upon his divine mission on earth. He purified its archaic form and incorporated it into his new system. Of all the elements, he raised fire, or light, to a place of the highest distinction in his faith.

275. Bd.17.5-8.

276. Jackson, Zoroaster, p. 98-100.

Ahura Mazda is eternal light, his very nature is light. He lives in the everlasting lights of the highest heaven. Light in its various manifestations, whether as the fire of the hearth on earth, or the fiery substance in the bowels of the earth, or as the genial glow of the sun in the azure vault of heaven, or the silvery sheen of the crescent moon in the sky, or the flickering brilliancy of the stars in the firmament, or even in the form of the life-giving energy distributed in the entire creation, is emblematic of Mazda. No wonder, then, if the prophet of Ancient Iran made fire the consecrated symbol of his religion, a symbol which in point of sublimity, grandeur, and purity, or in its being the nearest earthly image of the heavenly lord, is unequalled by any of its kind in the world.

When Vohu Manah approaches Zarathushtra, and enquires of him what is his most ardent desire, the prophet replies that his inmost yearning is to think of righteousness through the devotional gifts of his homage to Atar's fire.276a When the chosen of the Lord is thwarted at times in his great mission by the Druj or Lie, he turns to Atar as one of the protectors that will best help him in the furtherance of the mighty cause of righteousness.277 The fire of Mazda plays an important part in the work of the last judgment at the final Renovation of the world. Mazda has promised through Asha that he will give award unto the contesting parties of good and evil through fire.278 The Heavenly Father will deliver his final judgment upon the righteous and the wicked through fire together with the Holy Spirit.279 It is through fire that the creator will bestow profit upon the righteous and bring harm unto the wicked.280 Mazda will apportion reward and retribution to both the good and the evil through the glow of fire, which is emblematic of righteousness.281 The believers therefore pray that fire, which is mighty through righteousness, may [64] be a manifest help unto the faithful, but a veritable harm unto the foe.282 The noble truth of the prophetic words of Zarathushtra will, in this manner, be vindicated when, at the final Dispensation, divine judgment shall be meted out to man through the red fire of Mazda.283

276a. Y43.9.

277. Y46.7. [i.e. the famous phrase "Kem-na Mazda" etc. -JHP

278. Y31.3.

279. Y47.6.

280. Y51.9.

281. Y43.4.

282. Y34.4.

283. Y31.19.


The feminine abstraction of sanctity. Ashi represents sanctity and destiny, or reward. In one passage she is given the epithet vanghuhi, 'good',284 which in the Later Avesta is inseparably associated with her name. She represents the life of piety and its concomitant result. Zarathushtra invokes Asha to come with Ashi.285 She apportions Mazda's ordinances, about which the prophet desires to learn.286 He invokes her in his crusade against Druj, or the Lie.287 Whoso, through the power that Ashi confers upon him, deprives the wicked of his possessions, reaps the rewards that Mazda has promised.288

284. Y51.10.

285. Y51.10.

286. Y34.12.

287. Y31.4.

288. Y50.3.

In an eschatological sense, she forms the reward assured in heaven to those who have led a life of sanctity upon earth. It is with the accompaniment of Ashi's recompense that Sraosha approaches the seat of judgment to reward the righteous and wicked souls289 Zarathushtra asks Ahura Mazda to manifest unto him the incomparable things of his Divine Kingdom which are rewards of Vohu Manah,290 and seeks to know the reward that will be his in the Good Kingdom.291

289. Y43.12.

290. Y33.13.

291. Y48.8.

Ashi's sphere of activity grows in the later development of her cult and, in addition to representing the reward of the pious in heaven, she stands also for the earthly prize of those who are diligent. She becomes the genius of fortune, and the eager eyes of her numerous votaries are always turned to her for her favour. This new phase of her activity will receive attention in the place assigned to her in our treatment of the Later Avestan period.


The Fashioner of animal life. The Gathas speak of three beings, Geush Tashan, 'the Creater of the Bull or Cow,' Geush Urvan, 'the Soul of the Bull or Cow,' and Gav Azi, 'the Bull [65] or Cow Azi.' Av. gav, and Skt. go, both mean bull or cow. The Vedic divinities Dyaus, 'the Heaven,' and Prithivi, 'the Earth,' have the epithets bull and cow applied to them from their physical characteristics.292 After the analogy of the Skt. go, 'bull or cow,' which also means earth, some are led to think that the above expressions are used with reference to the earth.293 The Pahlavi, Sanskrit, Persian, and early Gujarati versionists, it may be noted, adhere to the original meaning and explain the words with reference to the bull or cow.

292. RV. 1. 160.3.

293. Haug, [Martin] Essays on the Sacred Language, Writings, and Religion of the Parsis, [London, 1907,] p. 148; Kanga, Gujarati tr. of the Gathas; Punegar, Eng. tr. of the Gathas in the Journal of the K.R. Cama Oriental Institute, No. 12.

Some creation-myths of the world relate that the earthly creatures have sprung from the bodies of the primeval man or of the cosmic cow killed by the gods or, as in the case of the later Zoroastrianism, by the Evil Spirit. In Babylonian mythology it is Marduk who killed Tiamat and the creatures came into existence from his body. According to the Vedic texts the gods sacrificed Purusha and brought the earthly and aerial creatures into being from his body. Ahriman, say the Pahlavi works, killed Gaya Maretan [Av. 'Gayo-maretan,' Phl. 'Gayomard'], the Primeval Man and Gavyokdat, the Primeval Bull, and men and animals and plants came into being from the various parts of their slaughtered bodies.

Cattle were the source of all wealth and the ox who drew the plough and enabled man to cultivate his field was held in religious veneration among the pastoral and agricultural Aryans and Semites from early times. Mithra was the most powerful Indo-Iranian divinity when Zarathushtra preached his new religion. The Iranians worshipped Mithra as 'the lord of wide pastures,' which is his standing epithet in the Younger Avesta. According to the ancient myth Mithra killed the Primeval Bull and thereby became the creator and fashioner of the earthly beings. The Mithraic sculptures represent him sitting on the bull's back, seizing it by the nostrils with one hand and plunging his hunting knife deep into its back. Zarathushtra did not include him in the heavenly hierarchy, but adapted the legend of the immolation of the Primeval Bull by Mithra to ethical ends.294

294. See Cumont, The Mysteries of Mithra, p. 132-137; Tiele, The Religion of the Iranian Peoples, tr. Nariman, p. 112-114; Moulton, Early Religious Poetry of Persia, p. 43, 88, 91, 92; Jones, Mithraism in ERE. 8. 752; Gray, The Foundations of the Iranian Religions, p. 79-82, 146, 147.

[66] Geush Tashan stands in the Gathas for the creative activity of Ahura Mazda. He is said to be Ahura Mazda's own,295 and Mazda is spoken of as his lord.296 Geush Urvan is the spirit of the animal kingdom, and the obscure Gav Azi, who is spoken of in the Gathas as the giver of joy and prosperity, represents the animal creation. Tradition explains Gav Azi as 'the three years old cow.' It is evidently gav aevodâta, 'the sole created bull or cow,' of the Later Avesta,297 and Gavyokdât, 'the Sole Created Bull' of the Pahlavi and subsequent Sanskrit, Persian, and Gujarati versionists.

295. Y31.9.

296. Y47.3.

297. Yt7.0; S1.12; S2.12.

Zarathushtra declared the only mortal who could assuage the sufferings of the kine. Geush Urvan complains in a bewailing tone before Ahura Mazda that anger, rapine, plunder, and wickedness are harassing its very existence and therefore its soul sighs for a deliverer.298 Ahura Mazda holds a celestial conference to redress the grievances of the Soul of the Kine. After patient deliberations, in which Vohu Manah, the genius of cattle, Asha, the guardian of peaceful, settled life, and Geush Tashan take part, Vohu Manah, as the premier councillor, declares that Zarathushtra is the only mortal who has heard the divine commands, and he is the one person suited to be sent to the world as the spiritual and temporal lord who could remove the grievances of Geush Urvan.299 The Soul of the Kine is disconsolate and cries in despair that its sufferings are so great that it would be beyond the power of the prophet to assuage them.300 Further pleadings soften its despair and Zarathushtra is chosen for the mighty work.

298. Y29.1.

299. Y29.2-8.

300. Y29.9.

We can see in this account an attempt to convince the waverers, disbelievers, and heretics of the true mission of the prophet. The later texts resort to miracles of various sorts to fulfil the same purpose. Those who have not yet come, in Gathic times, to any definite conclusion as to the choice of their faith, and are still hesitating before embracing the new creed, are shown how preparations were made in heaven for Zarathushtra's mission, and how it is with the divine approval that the new prophet comes to them for their good.

Zarathushtra preaches the advantages of a settled life, and persuades his hearers to emerge from the pastoral life and embrace [67] agricultural habits. He exhorts them to work diligently for the kine's welfare, grow fodder for their nurture, and lead an active and an industrious life. This is a stage of transition, and all could not easily give up the unsettled habits of life in which they were brought up. Naturally, therefore, there is much disorder in the land and Zarathushtra enters upon his mission to establish ordered social life.

Agriculture and cattle-tending bring prosperity. Geush Tashan is mentioned along with Armaiti's earth and Ahura Mazda shows the advantageous path of the industrious agriculturist who tills the earth by his diligence and prospers Vohu Manah's cattle, whereas the indolent persons who do not practise husbandry fail to reap the fruits of life.301 Ahura Mazda has created cattle that give the good things of life to men.302 Moreover, he has created Armaiti's earth for the pasture of Geush Tashan.303 Whoso wishes pasture of cattle reaps the reward for his labour.304 Ahura Mazda fulfils the desire of the bodily life of those who, inspired by Vohu Manah, work for the welfare of the cattle.305 Unto those who lead righteous lives and work the will of Zarathushtra, will be given in the next world happiness such as the possession of cattle gives.306

301. Y31.9, 10.

302. Y44.6.

303. Y47.3.

304. Y50.2.

305. Y34.14.

306. Y46.19.

Author:  Dhalla, Maneckji Nusservanji, 1875-1956.
Title:   History of Zoroastrianism,
Published:    New York, London [etc.] Oxford university press, 1938.
Description:  xxxiv, 525 p. 23 cm.
Availability: TC Wilson Library 295 D535 Regular Loan
Subject LC:   Zoroastrianism.
Call No.:     295 D535
Avesta -- Zoroastrian Archives Contents Prev dhalla1 Next Glossary