Ancient Iranian and Zoroastrian Morals
By Dhunjibhoy Jamsetjee Medhora
“The little work called Ancient Iranian and Zoroastrian Morals, compiled by Mr. Dhunjibhoy Jamsetjee Medhora, a Parsi Theosophist of Bombay, is an excellent treatise replete with the highest moral teachings, in English and Gujerati, and will acquaint the student better than many volumes with the ethics of the ancient Iranians.”—H.P. Blavatsky
THE MAXIMS OF HOSHENG.
Hosheng, a King of the Peshdádián dynasty, saith:—
The origin of all things is in God, and unto Him is the return; all good grace cometh from Him, and He is worthy to he praised. Whoso, then, knoweth the Origin, it is incumbent on him to be thankful; and whoso knoweth the end, he should be sincere; and whoso knoweth what grace is, it is his duty to acknowledge his own weakness and insufficiency.
The path of virtue lies in the renunciation of arrogance and pride.
The best thing that hath been given to man in this world is wisdom; the most goodly gift that can be given him in the next is pardon. The best disposition for him is that he should have a lively appreciation of the high and godlike character of his own nature, so that the thought may keep him from evil, or cause him to repent if he have done wrong.
The best possession of man is health; his best confession that of the unity of God.
Theory is the basis of certainty; practice is the pillar of theory; and both are founded on Divine Laws, which can only be comprehended by reverent investigation.
Religion is like a fortress raised and supported by columns and towers; should one column be allowed to totter, the whole fabric will give way.
Good works are of four kinds:—Theory, Practice, Sincerity. and Continence. Theory is the endeavour to ascertain your duties, Practice is the performance of them; Sincerity is the renunciation of envy, hatred, and malice; and Continence is patience and the forsaking all worldly vanities.
Four things also constitute the business of man:—Knowledge, Charity, Chastity, and Justice. Knowledge of what is good, to perform the same, and of what is evil to avoid it; Charity, to improve men’s spiritual condition and alleviate their temporal wants; Chastity, to guard oneself in the temptations of desire, and to preserve one’s reputation in the time of want; Justice, wherewith to temper success, that proper bounds may be set to one’s wrath, so that it be not excessive in the time of power, or deficient when it is required.
Knowledge consists in four things:—to know the root of Truth, the branches of Truth, the limit of Truth, and the opposite of Truth.
Theory and practice are as closely conjoined as soul and body; neither can profit its possessor without the other.
Truth is of two kinds:—one manifest and self-evident; the other requiring demonstration and proof; and vanity is like unto it in this respect.
There are four things which increase by use: Health, Wealth, Perfect Piety and Grace.
The way of salvation lies in three things: Divine Guidance, Perfect Piety, and a Godly Life.
Theory is the root, practice the tree; theory is the father, practice is the son. Practice may serve instead of theory; but the latter can never take the place of the former.
To enjoy the day of plenty you must be patient in the day of want.
The greatest wealth consists in three things: a prudent mind, a stalwart frame, and a contented spirit.
Expel avarice from your heart, so shall you loose the chains from off your neck.
He who does wrong knowingly will regret it, though men may applaud him; but he who is wronged, is safe from regret though the world may blame him.
The contented man is rich, hungry and naked though he may be; but the covetous man is a beggar, though he may possess the whole world.
Tree bravery is to face the world with a frank and open heart; true patience is in bearing up against disappointments; true liberality is in rewarding merit, and bestowing wealth in the proper time and place; true clemency is in foregoing revenge, when it is in one’s power; true caution is in taking advantage of opportunities.
This world is the house of work; the next wor1d is the house of reward.
The reins of health are in the hands of sickness; the head of safety is beneath the wing of dangor; the door of security is veiled by the curtain of fear. Therefore, in sickness, danger, or fear, do not despair of the reverse.
Oh, man! thy doom is nigh, in other hands than thine; it watcheth like a thief by night and day, and when once thy time hath come small leisure shalt thou have for preparation. Strive, then, to prepare are the evil day arrives, and comfort thyself with the thought that all the great and good have been companions in thy misfortune.
Oh, son of man! make not thyself a target for the arrows of misfortune, for time is the enemy of men, and it is the duty of the wise to be on their guard against their foes. If, then, thou thinkest well of thy soul and of its enemies, thou wilt stand in need of no preacher to advise thee how to act.
In prosperity dread misfortune, for unto it thou must return; when anticipation is fairest, then think on tardy fate, for though he be slow yet is he sure.
Excuse is better than disputation; delay is better than rashness; ignorance of strife in better than eagerness in seeking it.
To feel sure in war that it will end well is to lay up a store of woe; if then, ye must make war, be brave in action that ye may be victorious, and anticipate not victory lest yo be overthrown.
The slightest provision against a quarrel is better than the stoutest persistence in carrying it on.
It is wrong to give the lie direct, save in three cases. When one speaks unwisely, and the consequences are likely to prove evil to him; when one speaks ungratefully of a benefactor; when he glozes over an unlawful proposition.
There are three things which can in no wise be used for good: malice, envy, and folly; and there are three things that can by no means be employed for evil; humility, contentment, and liberality.
There are three things of which one can never tire, health, life, and wealth.
A misfortune that cometh from on high cannot he averted; caution is useless against the decrees of Fate.
The best of medicines is death; the worst of maladies is vain anticipation.
Three things bring us joy in the world, and three things cause us grief: the former are resignation, trust in God, and cheerful obedience to His commands; the latter are avarice, importunity, and yearning after evil things.
Of worldly things four are good: home, a good wife, wealth, and wine; four are evil: a large family, a small income, a treacherous neighbor, and a bad wife; four are hard to bear, old age and solitude, sickness and exile, debt and poverty, and a sore foot and a long road.
Three things cannot be got with three things: wealth, with wishing; youth, with cosmetics; health, with medicine.
If a man lose all else, and four things still are left him, he can take no harm; Temperance, Cheerfulness, Truth, and Trust in God.
Six things temper the hardships of this life: good diet, a kind friend, a faithful wife, and obedient child, a prudent tongue, and a wise head.
An easy temper is a good counsellor, and e pleasant tongue is an excellent leader.
Foolish pride is an incurable melody; a bad wife is a chronic disease; and a wrathful disposition is a constant burden.
Three things seem fair in three cases: a gift to a hungry man, the truth from an angry man, and forgiveness from one who has power to take revenge.
The wise man is he who hopes not for what is wrong, who begs not for what he fears may be refused, and who undertakes not what he cannot perform.
There ere three things which make a poor man rich; courtesy, consideration for others, and the avoidance of suspicion.
Eight things are proofs of folly: ill-timed wrath, misplaced bounty, ill-judged exertion, the confounding of friend with foe, confidence in those untried, reliance on the foolish, trust in the faithless, and garrulity.
A tyrant loses the dignity of his office, and grows like unto the meanest of his slaves.
When faith goes out misfortune comes in; when confidence dies revenge lives; and when treachery appears all blessings fly away.
Trifling ruins earnestness, lying is the enemy of truth, and oppression perverts justice; therefore, when a king passes his time in trifles, people lose all awe of him; when he associates with liars men despise him, and when ha is tyrannical ho weakens his authority.
Dominion is perfected only by good administration, and he who seeks it most be patient of losing it.
By hearing the loads of men dignity is reached; by virtue rank is honoured ; by morality are deeds refined.
Good advice to one who will not accept it, arms in the hands of one who knows not how to use them, and gold in the possession of one who benefits not mankind, are things wasted and lost.
A king should have three habits: tardiness in punishing, alacrity in rewarding, and patience in accidents; for verily in delaying punishment is the possibility of pardon; by alacrity in granting rewards, the hearts of the peop1e are won; and by patience in accidents the right course of action may be ascertained.
The man who is cautious in a doubtful matter is like unto him, who, having lost a pearl, collects all the dust that is around the plane where it hath fallen and sifts it until his lost treasure comes to Light. For thus doth the cautious man collect the opinions of all in a doubtful case, and sifts them one by one until that counsel cometh to light which is suited for the emergency.
Caution can never incur disgrace, and imbecility can never bring honour with it. Caution conducts to success; imbecility induces disappointment.
By four things are great men brought low: by pride, by taking counsel with women, by keeping the company of the young and foolish, and by neglecting things that require their personal supervision.
A king deserves not the name until he eats from his own field, gathers from his own garden, rides his own horse, and marries from his own country.
Good administration is from good management, good management from good councel, and good counsel is only to be found with wise and sincere advisers.
The reins of good administration can be held only by reverencing elders, being just to equals, and encouraging inferiors.
The duties which the wise man owes are these: to God, obedience and gratitude; to the king, sincere loyalty and counsel; to himself, earnestness for good and avoidance of evil; to his friends, liberality and faithfulness; and to mankind generally, courtesy and protection.
A man is perfected only by three things: by being great in the sight of others and little in his own esteem, by despising wealth for its own sake, and by being truthful under difficulties.
Perfection consists in religious knowledge, patience in affliction, and good fortune in worldly affairs. Perfect piety consists in trust in God, acquiescence in fate, and patience in loss.
Faith consists in four qualities: belief, self-sacrifice, sincerity, and obedience.
Whomsoever riches do not exalt, poverty will not abase, and calamity cannot cast down.
The perfect man is he who is proof against the vicissitudes of fortune, and who looks well what the end shall be.
There is no equivalent for religion, no compensation for time, and no substitute for one’s own soul.
Since night and day are the steeds of man, they hurry him on, not he them.
Whoso combines liberality with moderation will make good out of evil and wrong.
Whose regards not complaint confesses his own meanness, and whoso makes a merit of his charity incurs reproach.
There are four things of which a little goes a long way: pain, poverty, error, and enmity.
The man who knows not his own worth will never appreciate the worth of others.
He who is ashamed of his own trade will be compelled to take up with that of some one else.
Whosoever is ashamed of his father and mother, is excluded from Divine guidance.
He who is not lowly in his own eyes will not be exalted in the eyes of others.
In every blessing think upon its decay, in every misfortune think upon its removal. For such remembrance doth preserve blessing, and keep us from the intoxication of pride, and bringeth more real pleasure with it.
If justice predominate not over injustice in a man he will speedily fall into ruin; for tyranny more than ought beside causes the decay of prosperity.
Vain hopes cut man off from every good; but the renunciation of avarice prevents every ill.
Patience leads to power, but lust leads to loss.
By asking counsel in a matter it shall end aright; by relying on God cometh increase day by day.
By the sincerity of his earnestness man earns rewards; by the sincerity of his profession he gains friends.
In proportion as we avoid evil we gain God’s good grace; as we gain that we attain to earthly happiness.
By wisdom, is the gift of knowledge displayed; by knowledge are high things obtained.
By the descent of calamities are men’s virtues proved, and by long absence are their friendships tested.
In information is shown the wit of a man, and in travel are tempers tried. In poverty is benevolence assayed, and in the moment of anger is a man’s truthfulness displayed. By its influence on a man’s mind is shown the vigilance of his guardians, and by right discipline cometh the inspiration of knowledge. By Divine grace are works kept aright, and by the results are purposes shown. By a trusty comrade is a man supported in life, and by recompense are friendships increased. In seclusion is brotherhood proved, and by faithfulness familiarity is increased. By following wise counsel one attains to wisdom, and by a good intention is the companionship of the righteous secured. By shaking hands with deceit one is tossed on the billows of toil. Fear of judgment will deter from wrong, hut triflying lends to destruction.
Whoso cannot forgive wrong done to him can never know the work of good that is done unto him.
Separating yourself from the society of fools is tho same as cleaving unto the wise.
He who bestows bounty on mankind accustoms them to he generous unto him.
The envious man is never great.
Intelligence is shown by good management.
Whoso clotheth himself in modesty will conceal his faults.
The best etiquette for a man is not to boast of his virtues, and not to show off his power to one weaker than himself.
Learning clears the wit.
He who takes advice is secure from falling; but whose is obstinate in his own opinion falleth into the pit of destruction.
The contentious man induces antagonism, for people cannot often repress their anger, especially when contending with fools.
Three men are never distressed by adversity or exposed to solitude and grief: the brave man, of whose prowess all men stand in need; the accomplished man, whose knowledge all men require; the pleasant speaker, of whose eloquence all men are enamoured.
A BOOK OF THE PROPHETS OF THE ANCIENT IRANIANS.
1. The origin of Mezdam’s being none can know. Except Himself, who can comprehend it?
2. Existence and unity and identity are inseparable properties of His original substance, and are not adventitious to Him.
Commentary.—Whence it is clear that although your substance is not adequate to the discovering of things till you are affected by the quality of knowledge; while as soon as you are so affected, such discovery becomes practicable; yet that the same is not the case with God (Yesdan), as He knows everything by His own substance without the intervention of qualities.
3. He is without beginning, or end, or associate, or foe, or like unto Him, or friend, or father, or mother, or wife, or child, or place, or position, or body, or anything material, or colour, or smell.
4. He is Living and Wise and Powerful and Independent and Just: and His knowledge extends over all that is heard or seen or that exists.
5. And (all) existence is visible to His knowledge at once, without time: and from Him nothing is hid.
Commentary.—The perfection of His knowledge consists in this, that it has no dependence on time: and it appertains to His greatness that nothing appears as past, present, or future; the whole progress of time and length of duration, with the events which succeeding each other in successive portions, mark its divisions, are visible to God at one moment: not as in our knowledge which we receive by broken portions; some of events that are past, some of which such as are now visible and others or such as are to come.
6. he doth not evil and abideth not with the evil inclined. Whatever He hath done is good.
7. each of these three children (i.e. the Mineral, Vegetable and Animal) hath an active and intelligent (i.e. free and independent) soul.
8. Mezdam separated man from the other animals by the distinction of a soul, which is a free and independent substance, without a body or anything material, indivisible and without position, by which he attaineth the glory of the Angels.
9. The killing of a harmless animal is equal to the killing of an ignorant, harmless man.
10. Know that the killer of a harmless animal is caught in the wrath of Mezdam.
11. In prayer turn to any side: but it is best to turn to the stars and the light.
12. shew kindness to those under you, that you may receive kindness from Mezdam.
13. The Lord created his servant free: if he doth good, he gaineth heaven; if evil, he becometh an inhabitant of hell*
* Punishment and hell are not everlasting. (For fuller information should be consulted these books:— Desatir, Dabistan, Khestab, Zindehrud, Zerdest-afsar, Zooreh-Zartosht, and other Persian books.
Commentary:—Since the Most Just has conferred on His creature the faculty of distinguishing good from evil, and given him power to incline to either: hence if he do good according to the commands of the Just God (Dásár), in whom there is nothing but good and exellence, the highest heaven, the choicest heaven, is his abode: while if he be of evil dispositions, he finds his seat in hell. It is plain that praiseworthy or blameable actions, good and bad conduct, are the peoplers of heaven and hell: and that the orders of the incomparable God are like the prescriptions of the physician. Whoever observes the advice of the Benevolent, the Wise, escapes affliction, and by a little forbearance attains everlasting health: while the disease of him who does not attend to it increases. The physician, of course, is not answerable for either his health or sickness.
14. The superior Beings and the Inferior Beings are the gift of the Giver: they cannot be separated from Him: they have been, are, and shall be.
15. The world, like a radiation, is not and cannot be separated from the sun of the substance of the mighty God.
16. To Mezdam there is nothing more pleasing than charity.
17. Make atonement for the offence which you may have committed.
18. Purity is of two kinds, real and formal.
19. The real consisteth in not binding the heart to evil; and in eradicating all wicked passions.
20. and the formal in cleansing away what appears evil to the view.
21. And this last purification is performed by the water of Yefter.
22. Earthlings cannot be Celestials.
23. The soul of man is however Celestial; and hence, when by piety and worship it hath been separated from the inferior body, it may nevertheless become like unto them.
1. Thou are exalted, O our Lord!
2. From Thee is praise, and to Thee is praise!
3. Thou are necessarily-existent, and there is naught self-existent but Thee!
4. Thou art worthy of the adoration of the adorers, and none is worthy of the worship of worlds but Thee!
5. Thou art One, excelling in glory;
6. And of mighty praise;
7. And Thy light exceeding powerful and brilliant;
8. And Thy grandeur passing great;
9. Thy perfection is perfect.
10. And Thy bounty complete,
11. And Thy goodness most expansive,
12. And Thy splendour very glorious,
13. And Thy dignity extreme,
14. And Thy effulgence most bright,
15. And Thy mightiness very powerful,
16. Thy goodness most shining,
17. Thou art Mighty!
18. The Creator of All.
19. First of the Foremost, and Beginner of Beginners.
20. bestower of being on all essences;
21. The Manifestor of all thats.
22. Cause of Causes.
23. Preserver of Preservers.
24. Creator of Wonders, and of whatever is most wonderful among Wonders?
25. Maker of the Pure and of whatever is purest of the Pure!
26. Worthy of the worship of Intelligences, who are the makers of substances, free from locality, and place and position.
27. For they are Lights free from all affections.
28. And they have attained felicity and proximity (to God).
29. O Worthy of the adoration of Souls unconfined by existing in place!
30. Although they shed illumination on bodies!
31. Director of Bodies!
32. Yet not so as to be united or mingled with them;
33. Who takest an interest in the World of Intelligences!
34. From Thee is their beginning, and towards Thee is their termination!
35. Worthy of the worship of all the influence-shedding Bodies of the Spheres, which are far removed from dissolution, and from assuming or laying aside their forms;
36. And Worthy of the worship of the Splendours which enlighten and are exalted!
37. And Worthy of the worship of all the Elements, whether pure and unmixed or impure and mixed!
38. Thou are Pure, O Worthy to be praised! O Author of Life! O Bestower of Being! O Thou who recallest from evil to good! O Thou of spotless purity! O Guardian of the Angels of the Greater Spheres! O Light of Lights! O Lord of Eternity and of the revolutions of Time!
39. From Thee is Eternity without beginning: And to Thee Eternity without end.
40. Thou art the Causer of All, and of everything, whether having the attribute of substance, or unsubstantial, whether quantity or unity, the maker of the made.
41. Thou art the accomplishment of Desires!
42. Thou hast immersed the pure substances in the oceans of Thy efflugence.
43. The eyes of purity saw Thee by the lustre of Thy substance.
44. Dark and astounded is he who hath seen Thee by the efforts of the Intellect!
Commentary.—He says, that he is dark and confounded who would see God as He is by the light of the understanding: seeing that the understanding, however sublime, cannot discover Him as He is: And this proceeds not from the weakness or imperfection of the understanding, but from the greatness, the exaltedness and dignity of the essence of the Governer of the World.
45. By Thy perfection, Thou art exalted above all that is visible through Thy respendence.
Commentary:—He says, through Thy excellence and perfection Thou abidest higher than eye can see by means of the effulgence of Thy essence and Thy resplendent being.
46. Insomuch that nothing can approach or be united unto Thee; and nothing can be detached from Thee!
Commentary:—He says, the discriminative nature of God is the essence of His substance and is not external to or separable from Him. For His self-existence is the essence of His substance; inasmuch as nothing can in any respect be joined or united or conceived as joined or united to Him. Things therefore receive existence and being in this sort: they have an absolute dependence and cling firmly on the being of God, and there is a light reflected on them from the most just, the Bestower of Existence; but not so that being is to be understood as a quality essentially inherent in or united with them.
47. Thou hast become hidden from the very brightness and extreme brilliance, and excessive light of thy splendour.
48. And among the most resplendent and powerful and glorious of Thy servants who are free from inferior bodies and matter, there is none Thy enemy, or rival, or disobedient, or cast down or annihilated!
49. Mankind cannot extol or duly praise, in any respect suitably to their excellence, even the meanest of them who stand in the lowest degree.
50. Then how can they worthily extol Him who swallowed them up in the effulgence of His Majesty which is very glorious, and melted them in the shining of His Greatness which is very vast?
51. His worshippers are dejected from their inability to attain the height of His Majesty.
52. That man is a perverter of truth who imagineth that likeness, or quantity, or locality, or body, or any accident among accidents, or any property among properties can be predicated of Thee.
53. Thou, O God! Are such, that, save Thee, there is none other worthy to be lauded. Light of Lights; Highly to be extolled; Remover of Evils!
54. The pure substances are moved by affection towards Thee!
55. The Lofty who are invested with being, are subject to Thy power!
56. The pure Souls repose their hope in Thee.
58. I pray unto Thee, shower down upon me Thy blazing light!
59. and speak unto me words that may teach me the knowledge of Thy secrets which are admirable;
60. And aid me by light and vivify me by light, and unite me to light!
61. I ask of Thee, O Worthy of adoration! And long to behold Thee, and to descend into the ocean of Thy Mightiness.
62. Succour, O Thou who are worthy to be adored! The band of light: and purify their inner parts and mind: and cleanse them and me to everlasting of everlasting!
63. Thou art the First! For there is no priority prior to Thee!
64. Thou art the Last; For there is no posterity posterior to Thee!
65. The Angels labour in vain to attain the comprehension of Thy Grandeur!
66. Mankind are baffled in attempting to understand the perfection of Thy substance.
67. O Worthy to be lauded! Deliver us from the bonds of terrestrial matter!
68. Rescue us from the fetters of dark and evil matter!
69. Diffuse over our Souls the effulgence of thy splendours!
70. Shower down on our Souls the gladness of thy signs!
71. Intelligence is a drop from among the ocean of thy place-of-souls.
72. The Soul is a flame from among the flames of the fire of Thy residence-of-sovereignty.
73. Thy substance is a heaving substance whence boils forth the substance of souls, without place, without downness, not connected, not separated;
74. Which is free from defects, and ties, and imperfections.
75. Exceeding Great is the Necessarily-Existent. One, in-so-much that the eyes cannot discover Him, nor the thoughts conceive Him!
76. Exceedingly Great is Mezdam: for in His hands are the Souls of all things; and towards Him to they return.
77. Mezdam is not a substance, and is not unsubstantial; and is more exalted than ought thou canst conceive.
78. And nothing resembleth Him: and He is like unto no-thing.
79. He is One; not one that can be numbered.
80. He hath no like and nothing existeth like unto Him.
81. He is All-Wise without reflection; and ignorance hath no influence over His Knowledge.
82. He is All-Powerful! Whatever He willeth He can do and is staid in nothing except in creating one like Himself.
83. His excellencies are manifold and cannot be numbered.
SELECT PRAYERS FROM THE AVESTA*
* The English translation of this Yasna and of all the other parts the follow this, has been taken from the Bleek’s translation, rendered from the German of Professor Spiegel.
Here praise I now Ahura-Mazda, who has created the cattle, who has created purity, the water, and the good trees. Who created the splendour of light, the earth, and all good. To Him belongs the kingdom, the might, the power. We praise Him first among the adorable beings, which dwell together with the cattle.† Him praise we with ahurian name, Mazda, with our own bodies and life praise we Him. The Fravishis of the pure men and women, we praise. The best purity (Asha-Vahista) we praise. What is fairest, what pure, what immortal, what brilliant, all that is good: The good spirit we honour, the good kingdom we honour, and the good law, and the good rule, and the good wisdom.
† The word “cattle” is not to be understood always in literal sense. It some times means the souls of mankind.
Ahura-Mazda, the Pure, Lord of purity, praise we. The Amesha-spentas, the good rulers, the wise, praise we. The whole world of purity praise we, the heavenly as the earthly, with desire after the good purity, with desire after the good Mazdayasnian law. Of the good thoughts, words, and works, which here and elsewhere have been done, or will yet be done, the praisers and propagators are we, that we may belong to the good. That we believe, Ahura-Mazda, Pure, Fair, that will we think, say and do: Which is best among the works of men for both worlds, though these best deeds now pray we that for the cattle, pleasantness and fodder may be distributed, to the learned as to the unlearned, to the mighty as to the weak.—(May) the kingdom (belong) to the best Ruler, wherefore we it to Him commit, bestow, offer, to Ahura-Mazda, to Asha-Vahista.—What now both—man or woman—manifestly know, that may they, if it is anything good, speak out, and thereby, and also spread wider, for those who act even so as this is. Your praise, Ahura-Mazda’s, and His best worship we meditate, and the best fodder for the cattle. Yours we do, we spread abroad, what we desire from you, in the dominion of purity, in the wish for purity (is) for every living being the best in both worlds. These spoken words, Ahura-Mazda, utter we well, thinking purity. Thee we make their hearer and teacher. On account of Thy purity, good-mindedness, good dominion, is Thy laud higher than all laud, Thine hymns higher than all hymns, thy praise higher than all praise.
From place to place, Mazda-Ahura, will I bring forth wisdom and fulness, as gifts for Thee, Lord of the understanding, on account of that which his above. What reward Thou hast given to those of the same law as myself, Mazda-Ahura, that give also to us for this world, and that beyond. May we thus attain to that which his so, to union with Thy purity to all eternity. Let the pure men, Mazda-Ahura, who desire after purity, warriors as well as husbandmen, be long mighty, long rejoiced, for us to our joy. So may relationship, worship, and friendship be, that we may lift ourselves up and be yours, Mazda-Ahura, as pure and truthful, with sacrifice and offering.
Hymns, reverential adoration, to Ahura-Mazda and Asha-Vahista, we give, we spread abroad, and we make known. May we attain Thy good kingdom, Mazda-Ahura, for ever. Thou art our Ruler, possessed of good kingdom, for men as well as for women, the Wisest among beings in both worlds, the good increase we bestow on Thee, the worthy of adoration, the Friend of purity, mayest Thou be to us life and body, thou the Wisest among the creatures in both worlds.—May we show ourselves worthy, may we live, Ahura-Mazda, in joy in Thee a long life, may we desire after Thee and be mighty. Rejoice us long and well, O Wisest among beings. As thy praisers and psalmists, O Ahura-Mazda, we come, we desire, and we obey. What reward Thou hast given to my equal according to the Law, O Ahura, that give to me also for earth as well as for heaven. May we thus come under Thy rule, Pure, for all eternity.
May that man obtain the best, who teaches us to know the right path to profit for this world, the bodily as well as for the spiritual, the manifest way to the worlds where Ahura is enthroned, and the offerer, like Thee, a wise, holy one, O Mazda! May there now come to this dwelling, contentment, blessing, guilessness, and wisdom of the pure. May there appear for this clam: Purity, dominion, profit, majesty, and brightness; Long dominion of the law, the Ahurian, Zarathustrian. Quickly may cattle arise out of this clan, quickly purity, quickly the strength of the pure man, quickly Ahurian Custom. May there come hither the good, strong, hold Fravishis of the pure, bound with the remedies of purity according to the breadth of the earth, the length of a river, the height of the Sun, with desire after good things, for withstanding against the foes, for increase for riches and brightness. May Sraosha (obedience) in this dwelling smite disobedience, peace dissension,* liberality avarice, wisdom slighting, truthful speech the lie, which hates purity. That here the Amesha-spentas may be able to wish from the holy Sraosha: Good offering and prayer, good offering and prayer, Good maintenance, fortunate maintenance, friendly help, that they may long remain supported. Never may the brilliant Majesty be extinguished for this dwelling, not the brilliant riches, not the bright heavenly descendents, by the long (continual) friendship of him who teaches to know the brightness and Ashis-vanuhi, according to wish mayest Thou, Ahura-Mazda, rule over thy creatures, Ahura-Mazda! Over the water as Thou will over the trees, as Thou will over all good that has a pure origin. Make that the pure may rule, the impure may not rule. May the pure rule as he will, may the godless not rule as the will. May the foe disappear, driven by the creatures of Spenta-manyus, conquered, not ruling as he would. I urge, I who am Zarathustra, the first of the families, clans, societies, regions, to thinking, speaking, and acting, according to this law originates from Ahura and Zarathustra. That joyful may be our mind, happy our souls endued with brilliant bodies for Paradise; so may there openly come hither, O Ahura-Mazda, the best purity, the fairest purity. May we see Thee, attain to Thee, to Thy perfect friendship.
* The verb is understood between each pair of nouns.
YATHA AHU VAIRYO.
As is the will of the Lord, so (is He) the Ruler out of purity. From Vohu-mano (will one receive) gifts for the work (which one does) in the world for Mazda. And the kingdom (we give) to Ahura when we afford succour to the poor.
Purity is the best good. Happiness, happiness is to Him: namely, to the best pure in purity.
I praise the well-thought, well-spoken, well-performed thoughts, words, and works. I lay hold on all good thoughts, words, and works. I abandon all evil thoughts, words, and works. I bring to you, O Amesha-spentas, praise and adoration, with thoughts, words, and works, with heavenly mind, the vital strength of my own body.
All good thoughts, words, and works, are done with knowledge. All evil thoughts, words, and works, are not done with knowledge. All good thoughts, words, and works lead to Paradise. All evil thought, words, and works lead to hell. To all good thoughts, words, and works (belongs) Paradise—so (is it) manifest to the pure.—Ashem-vohu.
In the name of God, the Giver, Forgiver, Rich in Love Praise be to the name or Ormazd, the God with the name, “Who always was, always is, and always will be.” Spenta-mainyus, the Heavenly amongst the Heavenly, with the name, “From whom alone is derived rule.” Ormazd is the Greatest Ruler, Mighty, Wise, Creator, Supporter, Refuge, Defender, Completer of good works, Overseer, Pure, Good, and Just.
With all strength (bring I) thanks: to the Great among beings, who created and destroyed, and through His own determination of time, strength, wisdom is higher than the six Amshaspands, and the many Yazatas, the shining Paradise Garothman, the circumference of Heaven, the shining Sun, the brilliant Moon, the numerous Stars, the wind the Andervâi, the water, the fire, the earth, the trees, the cattle, the metals, mankind.
Offering and praise to that Lord, the completer of good works, who made men greater than all earthly being, and through the gift (?) of speech created them to rule and appoint for the creatures, as warriors against the Daevas.
Praise to the Omniscience of God, who hath sent through the holy Zarathustra, with pure Frohar, peace for the creatures, the wisdom of the law—the enlightening derived from the heavenly understanding, and heard with the ears—wisdom and guidance for all beings who are, were, (and) will be, and the wisdom of wisdoms, the Manthra-spenta, who effects freedom from hell for the soul at the bridge (Chinvat), and leads it over to that Paradise the brilliant, sweet-smelling of the pure.
All good do I accept at Thy command, O God, and think, speak, and do it. I believe in the pure laaw, by every good work seek I forgiveness for all sins. I keep pure for myself the serviceable work and abstinence (from the unprofitable). (I keep) pure the six powers: thought, speech, work, memory, mind, and understanding. According to Thy will am I able to accomplish, O Accomplisher of good, Thy honor with good thoughts, good words, and works.
I enter on the shining way (to Paradise); may the fearful terror of hell not overcome me! May I step over the bridge Chinvat, may I attain Paradise with much perfume, and all enjoyments, and all brightness.
Praise to the Overseer, the Lord, who rewards those who accomplish good deeds according to (His own) wish, purifies at least the obedient, and, (at last) purifies (even) the wicked out of hell.
All praise be to the creator Ormazd, the All-wise, Mighty, Rich in might, to the seven Amshaspands, to Ized Bahrâm, the victorious annihilator of foes.
Health is needful throughout the whole length of life. May brightness endure, bound with purity. May the heavenly Yazatas, the earthly Yazatas, the seven Amshaspands, come hither to the shining Mazda. May my prayer arrive. May my wish be fulfilled! May the Zarathustra Law ever be well. So may it be!
O Creator, Ruler! Keep the lords of the world, the whole community and N.N., (here mention the name of the person for whom this prayer is made), together with descendants for a thousand years long, keep cheerful, keep in health. So keep them. Keep them on the tops of the worthy many years, throughout countless periods, pure, and continuing. A thousand times a thousand benedictions! May the year be prosperous! May the day be good, may the month be blessed. Keep pure many years, days, months, many, many years long the Yasna and Nyayish, the liberality and offerings. May health be the portion for all good works, may good be present, may well-being be present. So be it! In this way may it be. May it be according to the wish of the Yazatas and Ameshaspends.—Ashem-vohu (1).
CONFESSION OF FAITH.
The good, righteous, right Religion which the Lord has sent tot he creatures is that which Zartusht has brought. The religion is the religion of Zartusht, the religion of Ormazd, given to Zartusht.—Ashem-vohu (1).
Let Ormazd be King, and let Ahriman, the wicked holder-aloof, be smitten and broken. May Ahriman, the Devas, the Drujas, the sorcerers, the evil Kikas and Karapas, the opressors, the evil-doers, the Asmogs, the wicked, the enemies, the Paris be smitten and broken. May the enemies be afflicted. May the enemies be far off. Ormazd, Lord! Of all sins I repent with Patet. All the evil thoughts, evil words, evil deeds, which I have thought, spoken, done, committed in the world, which are become my nature—all these sins, thoughts, words and deeds, bodily, spiritual, earthly, heavenly. O Lord, pardon; I repent of them with the three words.
Contentment for Ahura-Mazda, contempt for Anra-Mainyus. What is highest for the wish of manifest works Thy praise will I announce, O Mazda! with the mouth so long as I, O Asha, can and am able, Let the Creator of the world bestow through Vohu-manô what is best for the wish of those working openly. Ashem-vohu (1), Yaha-ahu Vairyo (2), Ashem-Vohu (1).
Purity in thought, word and deed, is the main precept of Zoroastrian doctrine. Rightly observed it bring us piety and worshipfulness. These virtues should be so practices that they may become a habit; and this habit should, by degrees, be so assimilated with the essence of one’s spiritual self, that the very idea of deviation from such a nature becomes an impossibility. Such a man is really saved, and is capable of arriving at the proximity to God, in whom abides everlasting blissfulness.*
* In Zoroastrianism, this state is called the Hameshgan or the everlasting Light.
The precept of Zoroastrian religion is the precept of other religions. All the religious doctrines have the same object, i.e., that of enabling one to purify his soul, to elevate and ennoble himself to such a high perfection that beatitude may be attained.
Various religions teach these virtues in various ways. These ways differ according to the habits, dispositions, and thinking capacity of a people. But the object is the same. It is, to observe virtues, so as to be elevated so high as to reach God, Who is the Highest purity and where none but pure, godly souls can reach. One who has achieved such a perfection arrives at this state immediately after death. But those of lesser perfections re drawn towards high spheres of a nature corresponding to the purity of souls. Thence such souls progress, by degrees, higher and higher, ultimately reaching the everlasting blissfulness. Iti s a state in which a soul is forever freed from pains and sorrows, from wants and desires of all kinds, and where nothing but everlasting blissfulness exists.
Souls that do not act up to the required virtues, fail to go higher after death. They are drawn to lower spheres of corresponding nature, and have to struggle from one such sphere into another until they are purified to proceed towards higher spheres.
The salvation of one is left by Providence in one’s own power. If he acts virtuously, he progresses higher; but if he acts otherwise, his progress is retarded and his misery is prolonged.
No true religious doctrine teaches that a man can be saved otherwise than by his own exertions. No man, no angel, no higher power or being can save any man or any other being. For the law of God is inflexible that souls of impure nature can never be received by spheres of pure nature. Any one who says otherwise, does not say the truth.
Despise no religion, nor despise rituals and ceremonies of various religions, nor disrespect the disciplines and austerities prescribed by various religions. For all these are useful and serve for the good of those classes for whom they are intended. Varieties of souls and varieties of minds need correctives corresponding to their nature. There are souls which cannot be brought to the right understanding without hard restrictions and hard disciplines, while there are others who need these in a modified form, and there are still others, who are advanced enough to understand the necessity of leading a pure, virtuous life, without the help of religious disciplines.
Life in the vegetable kingdom is superior to that in the mineral kingdom, and animal life is superior to the vegetable life. But eh life in man is far superior to these, for it has been gifted by Providence with the spiritual Intelligence.* This Intelligence is divine and enables man to distinguish right from wrong. Life in lower kingdoms, too, have to progress in their own way, according to nature’s law; but man’s progress, a man can, by means of his understanding, either accelerate or retard. If he does not contaminate himself by loving terrestrial matters, if he leads a pure life, and entertains a strong love for none else but for God along, he moves in harmony with the laws of nature, and his progress does not suffer. It is the privilege and the highest joy of man to understand the glory of God as manifested in the universe, to praise it, and to admire it. To praise and admire God’s works, and the harmony and beauty which pervade them, befits a man of pious life.
* man has spiritual intelligence, reason, and instinct. As long as his reason is guided by his spiritual intelligence, he acts rightly. But when he does not do so, the reason falls into error and acts erroneously.
Before creation, God along existed. For He has always been, always is, and will always be. Eternity is not separate from Him, and in Him is eternity. All is in Him and He is one. He is unity in multiplicity, and without unity, multiplicity cannot exist. He is everywhere and you cannot conceive of anything where He cannot be. Unity if love and love sustains the multiplicity.
Just as from a given center of light, various rays proceed in all directions; and, of these, those that are nearer the light are brighter and stronger, remote ones are less so, and remotest are dark; likewise is the nature of God’s creation. Souls nearer Him are more pure and more intelligent than those that are farther from him. The same is in the case of regions, for the region of God’s light is the purest.
Every class of beings is preceded by another class; the lowest is the earthly matter and the highest is God, Who is the cause of Light, Life and Intelligence, Incomprehensible, Indefinable, and Immeasurable. From Him proceed all light, all life and all intelligence. He is the Source of all And in Him is All.
Though God, by his Will and Intelligence, creates everything out of Himself, He is distinct from all creation: in this manner that, as the sin’s heat pervading the varieties of nature is neither the sun himself nor is it that light which is in the sun himself. A tree, though growing out of the earth, is not earth itself, and the leaves and the flowers proceeding from the tree are neither the tree nor the earth; so is the universe, though proceeding from God, is distinct from God. As sun gives heat to the bodies, so does God give being to everything.
It is fit to praise and admire the various powers and nature itself, for they all represent the glory of God. But it is a mistake to overdo this praise, for that which can really benefit man is only the adoration and love of God alone. Man’s soul is divine and is capable of attaining the everlasting blissfulness: but at this blissfulness abides in God alone, so must he attach his sole love to God alone and to none else.
Constant praise and adoration of God enables one to be more and more God-loving and less and less sinful.
In the universe there is nothing evil for no evil can proceed from God. The evil has been brought about by mankind itself.
Undue love for worldly things, and want of love for the Divine, are the sources of evil. These are the causes which create misery for mankind. This is due to man’s ignorance of God’s law, and this ignorance leads to sinful life. Religious teachings are intended to remove this ignorance and give knowledge, to remove darkness and give light, and such knowledge and light show one the path of God.
The prayers and repentance of a sinful man can receive no favor and no mercy from God. There is no easy road to obtaining God’s favor and God’s mercy. One who desires these must pray and repent by conforming to God’s laws, and then alone will he be benefited. For on no account does God alter His laws, for these laws maintain the harmony of His creation. God will receive none who has not achieved the highers purity of soul. To lead a virtuous life and to adore and love God, and to arrive ultimately at such perfection that the inherent disposition of your soul ma become nothing but pure, and divested of all desires whatever, except that of living in and loving God: this is the road to receive God’s mercy and favor, and this is the road to the everlasting blissfulness.
If you cannot be perfectly good at once, you may, if you persevere, become so, after days or after years. To abstain from vices and from love for worldly things by restraining one’s passion, to do good for the sake of praise and reward, to restrain one desire for satisfying another, are not the proper virtues. Eradicate from your heart the very thought of evil, do good with no desire for praise or reward, and forget all desires except that one desire for living in and loving God. Practise these virtues whenever you can,and get into the habit of pracising them; and turn this habit into an inherent property of your soul, and no doubt that, then, you will receive God’s mercy and favor. If you expect these withotu going through the right ordeal, you will never receive them. If there are those who show a more easy way to salvation, you may rest satisfied, that they mislead you.
If you cannot be perfectly virtuous, do all you can to be so, and you will be able to go after death to higher spheres which we call heaven. Thence you will be able to proceed higher and higher and be able ultimately to reach God.
But if you lead a sinful, wicked life, devoid of virtues, you will, after death, go to spheres of lower nature, and you will be tossed about from one such sphere to another, so long as your soul will not be fit for being received by spheres of higher and purer nature; and such a state is what we call hell.
Bear always in mind, therefore, O Man! The Zoroastrian motto, “purity in thought, word, and deed.”
D. J. M.