Zoroastrianism in the Light of Occult Philosophy
Theosophist, June-July, 1883
The following letter having been sent to us from a Parsee gentleman, we publish the paragraphs containing his queries seriatim as in the original, but separating them with a view of making our answers more comprehensible. This arrangement, we hope, will always simplify the work and help the reader to a far clearer understanding of both the questions asked and the answers given, than it would, had we published the letter without any break whatever, or answered the queries as usually done, by referring the readers to footnotes.—Ed. [H.P.B.]
“Will you or any of your contributors tell me whether Zoroastrianism, regarded from the standpoint of Occult philosophy, is in itself monotheism, pantheism, polytheism or atheism? I have not been able to ascertain it from the learned lecture of Col. Olcott on the ‘Spirit of Zaroastrianism.’”
The answer depends upon how the question is put. If we are asked what is Zoroastrianism—loosely and indifferently referred to as Magianism, Mazdaism, Fire-worship and Parseeism, then we answer—“it is all that which you say.” It is “monotheism, pantheism, polytheism,” and even—“atheism,” when placed in contradistinction to modern theism—its respective qualifications depending upon the epoch named. Thus, if we had to describe broadly the origin of this religion from the standpoint and upon the authority of the Occult teachings, we would call it by its original, primitive name, that of Magianism. Locating its first development in those vast regions which would have to be described as the whole area between the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Okhotsk in its length, and that which stretches through the unexplored deserts between the Altai and the Himalayan mountains in its breadth, we would place it back at an epoch undreamt of by modern science and, therefore, rejected by all but the most speculative and daring anthropologists. We have no right to give out in this journal the correct number of years or rather of ages upon ages, since—according to the doctrines of the Secret Science—the first seeds of Magianism were sown by the hand of the BEING to whose duty it falls to rear, nurse, and guide the tottering steps of the renascent human races, that awake anew to life on every planet in its turn, after its periodical “obscuration.” It goes as far back as the days of our local Manvantara, so that the seeds sown among the first “root-race” began sprouting in its infant brain, grew up, and commencing to bear fruit toward the latter part of the second race, developed fully during the third1 into what is known among Occultists as the “Tree of Knowledge” and the “Tree of Life”—the real meaning of both having been, later on, so sadly disfigured and misinterpreted by both Zoroastrians and Christians. But we can inform our correspondent of the following; Magianism, in the days of its full maturity and practice,2 and long ages before the first of the twelve great religions, its direct offshoots—mentioned and feebly described by Mohsan-Fani in the Dabistan—ever saw light; and even much anterior to the appearance of the first devotees of the religion of Hush-ang, which, according to Sir Jones, “was long anterior to that of Zeratusht,”3 the prophet of the modern Parsees—that religion, as we can undeniably prove, was, “Atheism.” At any rate, it would be so regarded now, by those who call Kapila and Spinoza, BUDDHA and our MAHATMAS, Brihaspati (of the Charvaka) and the modern Advaitees, all alike, nastikas or atheists. Assuredly no doctrine about a personal God, a gigantic man and no more—(though a number of so-called divine beings were and are still recognized)—was ever taught by the true Magi.4 Hence Zoroaster—the seventh prophet (according to the Desatir, whose compilers mixed up and confused the 14 “Zaro-Ishtars,”5 the high priests and initiates of the Chaldean worship of Magian Hierophants—the 13th)—would be regarded as an atheist in the modern sense of the word. All the Orientalists with Haug at their head agree to say that in the oldest, or the second part of the Yasna, nothing is said or fixed of the doctrine regarding God, nor of any theology.
“The lecture has elucidated many obscurities and absurdities in the Avesta, from the standpoint of Occult philosophy. But they are so few that the youths whom the Colonel took to task, have, I am convinced, become no wiser. Can anyone tell me whether the Colonel meant that in order to understand their religion, the Parsee youths should study Yogism and Occultism?”
Our President never meant that they should practise “Yogism.” All that he urged upon them was, that before they scoffed at their own religion, of which they knew so little, and became either modern agnostics or out-and-out corporealists, they should study Zoroastrianism as a philosophy, and in the light of esoteric sciences—which alone could teach them the truth by giving the correct version of the meaning of the various emblems and symbolisms.
“The learned Colonel said the Parsees are the heirs of the Chaldean lore, and that the Chaldean and the Hebrew Kabala would throw considerable light on the meaning of the Avesta. Can anyone tell me where and in what language these books are to be found, and whether these works are not also so much allegorical as to require the aid of Occult philosophy to understand their true meaning?”
The Lecturer stated a fact. More even than the Brahmans, are the Parsees heirs to Chaldean wisdom, since they are the direct, though the latest, offshoots of Aryan Magianism. The Occultists are very little concerned with the apparent difficulty that the Magian “Chaldees” with all their priests and initiates, whether of the Medes, the Scythians, or the Babylonians are regarded by the Orientalists as of Semitic origin, while the ancient Iranians are Aryans. The classification of those nations into Turanians, Akkadians, Semites and what not, is at best arbitrary. The word “Chaldean” does not refer merely to a native or an inhabitant of Chaldea, but to “Chaldeism,” the oldest science of astrology and occultism. And in that sense the Zoroastrians are the true heirs to Chaldean wisdom, “the light which shineth in darkness,” though (modern) “darkness comprehended it not,” and the Parsees themselves know nothing of it now. The Hebrew Kabala is but the loud echo of the Chaldean; an echo which passing through the corridors of Time picked up in its transit all kinds of alien sounds that got mixed up with the original keynotes struck beyond the epochs known to the present profane generations; and thus it reached the later student of Hebrew lore as a confused and somewhat distorted voice. Yet, there is much to learn in it, for him who has the patience and the perseverance required, since first of all he would have to learn the Gematria, Notaricon, and Themura.6 When speaking of the Kabala, the Lecturer meant by it, the universal, not any special, esoteric system, already adapted to a later exoteric creed as is at present the Jewish secret science. The word “Kabala” is derived from a Hebrew root meaning reception of knowledge; and practically speaking it refers to all the old systems handed down by oral transmission, and is very nearly allied to the Sanskrit “Smriti” and “Śruti,” and the Chaldaic “Zend.”7 There would be little use for the Parsee or Hindu beginner to study only the Hebrew or even the Chaldean Kabala, since those works upon them which are now extant are written either in Hebrew or Latin. But there would be a great deal of truth unearthed were both to apply themselves to the study of the identical knowledge veiled under the exoteric symbolisms of both the Zend-Avesta and the Brahmanical books. And this they can do by forming themselves into a small society of intelligent earnest students of symbolism, especially the Zend and Sanskrit scholars. They could get the esoteric meanings and the names of the works needed from some advanced chelas of our Society.
“The Colonel recommends the translating of prayers. Does he mean that the translations of prayers in their present state will better enlighten the youths? If not, then does he imply that the meaning of the whole Zend-Avesta can be made intelligible and philosophical by the aid of a thorough Occultist?”
It is precisely what he meant. By a correct translation or rather a correct explanation of their liturgical prayers, and a preliminary knowledge of the true meaning of even afew of the most important symbolisms—generally those that appear the most meaningless and absurd in the sight of the modern Zend scholars, as the dog, e.g., which plays such an important part in Parsee ceremonies8—the “Parsee youth” would acquire thereby the key to the true philosophy that underlies their “wretched superstitions and myths,” as they are called by the missionaries who would fain force upon the world their own instead.
“Prayer is repugnant to the principles of atheists. How then does the learned Colonel reconcile his advice to the Parsees to throw better heart into their prayers? Does he also mean that Occult philosophy will justify the prayers in Zend Avesta, offered to the sun, the moon and almost all the supposed pure things of the creation? If he thinks that the fixing of attention upon such objects is conducive to being freed from worldly desires and thoughts, does he think also that these views or prayers will be believed in, or acted upon, by the present generation?”
Colonel Olcott was never an atheist “to our knowledge,” but an esoteric Buddhist, rejecting a personal God. Nor was genuine prayer—i.e., the exercise of one’s intense will over events (commonly brought about by blind chance) to determine their direction—ever repugnant to him. Even prayers as commonly understood, are not “repugnant” in his sight, but simply useless, when not absurd and ridiculous as in the case of prayers to either stop or bring about rain, etc. By “prayer” he means—WILL, the desire or command magnetically expressed that such and such a thing beneficent to ourselves or others should come to pass. The Sun, the moon and the stars in the Avesta are all emblematical representations—the Sun, especially—the latter being the concrete and most appropriate emblem of the one universal life-giving principle, while the stars are part and parcel of the Occult sciences. Yima never “prayed” but went to “meet the sun” in the vast space of heavens, and bringing down with him “the science of the stars, pressed the earth with the golden seal” and forced (thereby) the ‘Spenta Armaiti’—(the genius of the earth) to stretch asunder and to bear flocks and herds and men” (Fargard II, 10).
But since not everyone knows in our day, “the science of the stars,” nor are there many Zend scholars, the best course to be pursued is to make at least a beginning by having the “prayers” translated. The Lecturer, as far as we are aware, did not mean to advise anyone to believe in, or “act upon,” the modern prayers in their present liturgic, exoteric form. But it is just because they are now muttered parrot-like, remaining incomprehensible to the great majority, that they have to be either correctly rendered, or, bringing on finally indifference and disgust, that they have to be abandoned very soon to utter oblivion. The word “prayer” received its modern significance of a supplication to a Supreme or some inferior divine being, only when its once widely known and real esoteric meaning had already become clouded with an exoteric veil; after which it soon disappeared enshrouded beneath the impenetrable shell of a badly digested anthropomorphism. The Magian knew not of any Supreme “personal” individuality. He recognized but Ahura—the “lord”—the 7th Principle in man—and “prayed,” i.e., made efforts during the hours of meditation, to assimilate with, and merge his other principles—that are dependent on the physical body and ever under the sway of Angra-Mainyu (or matter)—into the only pure, holy and eternal principle in him, his divine monad. To whom else could he pray? Who was “Ormuzd” if not the chief Spenta-Mainyu, the monad, our own god-principle in us? How can Parsees consider him now in the light of the “one Supreme God” in dependent of man, since even in the sorry remnants of the sacred books of Mazdaism there is enough to show that he was never so considered. They are full of his shortcomings, lack of power (during his dependent individuality in connection with man), and his frequent failings. He is addressed as the “maker of the material world” in every question put him by Zarathushtra. He invokes Vâyu (the Holy Ghost of the Mazdeans), “the god-conqueror of light (or true knowledge and spiritual enlightenment), the smiter of the fiends (passions) all made of light,”9 for help against Angra-Mainyu; and, at the birth of Zarathushtra he entreats Ardvi-Sura Anâhita10 that the newly-born should not abandon but stand by him in his eternal struggles with Ahriman.
The offers made by Ahura-Mazda to Yima (the first man) to receive instruction from him are rejected. (Farg. II. 7). Why? “Because,” as he answers, “I was not born, I was not taught to be the preacher and the bearer of thy Religion” No, he was not born, the Occult Science tells us, for from whom could he have been born since he was the first man (let the modern anthropologists and physiologists explain if they can). But he was evoluted from a pre-existing form, and such had no need as yet of the laws and teachings of his 7th Principle. The “Supreme” and the “Almighty” remains satisfied! He makes him only promise that he will take care of his creatures and make them happy, which promise is fulfilled by “the son of Vivanghat.” Does not this show that Ahura-Mazda is something which can be explained and defined only by the Occult Doctrine? And wisely does it explain to us that Ahura is our own inner, truly personal God and that he is our Spiritual light and the “Creator of the material world”—i.e., the architect and shaper of the Microcosm—Man, when the latter knows how to resist Angra-Mainyu, or Kama—lust or material desires—by relying on him who overshadows him, the Ahura-Mazda or Spiritual Essence. The latter invokes “Vâyu,” who, in the Mazdean occult sense, is the Universal, as he is, the Individual, light of man. Hence his prayer to “Vayu,” that Zarathushtra, the being who will teach truth to his followers, should side with him, Ahura, and help him to fight Ahriman, without which help even “He” (our 7th Principle) is powerless to save man from himself; for Ahriman is the allegorical representation of the lower human principles, as Ahura-Mazda is that of the higher. Then, think of the symbolical allegory in Yima, the representative of the first unborn human race of this, our Fourth Round.11 It is too spiritual, too unacquainted with evil upon its first reawakening to life, to be yet in need of the truths of the sacred science, the common foundation of all the great religions. Hence “the great shepherd,” Yima, refuses Ahura’s instructions, for Ahriman is so far powerless over the innocence of infancy, irresponsible and unconscious of moral and physical danger. He “keeps (spiritual) death and disease away” from his people, and “enlarges three times the earth”; for the root-race multiplies and “shoots off seventy times seven branch-races.” But Zarathushtra accepts and worships Ahura-Mazda in the Vendidad and elsewhere, because this prophet in the generic sense of the name is the representative of the latter portion of the second race. And now let the Parsee mathematicians calculate how long ago lived the first Zara-Ishtar, or Zoroaster; and let them study the real Mazdaism, not the later excrescenses with which it became overgrown throughout the cycles of the ages and races. Which of the Zarathushtras was the real lawgiver of the Chaldean Mazdaism? Surely not he, to whom Ahura-Mazda says: “The fair Yima . . . O holy Zarathushtra, he was the first mortal, before thee, with whom I, Ahura-Mazda, did converse, whom I taught the law of Ahura, the law of Zarathushtra.” Teaching the law of Zarathushtra to the same Zarathushtra, and ages before that Zarathushtra was born, reminds one of Moses made to narrate in his “Pentateuch” his own death and burial. In the Vendidad, if Ahura is “the Creator of the material world,” i.e., the Microcosm man, Yima is the real creator of the earth. There, he is shown—master of Spenta Armaiti, the genius of the earth, and he, by the power of his innate untaught light and knowledge, simply for the absence of Angra-Mainyu—who comes later on—forces “the earth to grow larger and to bear flocks and herds and men at his will and wish.” (Farg. II. 11) Ahura-Mazda is also the Father of Tistrya, the rain-bestowing god (the 6th Principle) that fructifies the parched soil of the 5th and 4th, and helps them to bear good fruit through their own exertions, i.e., by tasting of Haoma, the tree of eternal life, through spiritual enlightenment. Finally and undeniably Ahura-Mazda being called the chief and father of the six “Ameshâ Spentas”—or of the six principles of which he is the seventh, the question is settled. He is “Ahura” or rather Asura—the “living spirit in man,” the first of whose 20 different names he gives as “Ahmi,” “I am.” It was to impress upon his audience the full importance of the recognition of, and reliance upon (hence that of addressing it in “prayer”), this one God from whom proceed and in whom are centered Humate, Hukhte, and Huvareshte,12 the sublime condensation of all human and social law, that Colonel Olcott recommended to the “Parsee youths,” the study of their prayers. It is very likely, as Darmesteter thinks, that “Heredotus may have heard the Magi sing, in the fifth century B.C. the very same gathas which are sung nowadays by the Mobeds in Bombay”; but it is most unlikely, that sung as they are now, they are anything better than the “shells” of the old gathas, the animating spirit having fled from them, never to return unless forcibly recalled by the resurrecting potentiality of the “Occult Sciences.”
“Will the learned Colonel be so kind as to say whether in his opinion, it does not appear that the Zendavesta represents the genuine dictates of Zoroaster, or that it contains extreme mutilations and additions made before it was written and after it was written?”
We think we can, for the Colonel’s opinions are ours, having studied under the same Master and knowing that he shares in the same views, namely, that the Zendavesta represents now only the general system, the dead letter, so to say, of the dictates of Zoroaster. If the Orientalists agree that the bulk of the Avesta is pre-Sassanian, nevertheless they do not, nor can they, fix a definite period for its origin.
As well expressed by Darmesteter, the Parsee “sacred books are the ruins of a religion.” The Avesta revised and translated into Pahlavi by Ardeshir Babagan is not the Avesta of modern Parseeism, with its numberless interpolations and arbitrary commentaries that lasted until the last days of the Sassanian dynasty; nor was the Avesta of Ardeshir identical with that which was brought out and given to Gushtasp by Zara-Ishtar (the 13th prophet of the Desatir); nor that of the latter quite the same as the original Zend, although even this one was but the exoteric version of the Zen-Zara doctrines. As shown by Burnouf, the Pahlavi version is found nearly in every case to wander strangely from the true meaning of the original (?) Zend text, while that “true meaning” wandered (or shall we say—was veiled?) as greatly from the esoteric text. This, for the good reason that the Zend text is simply a secret code of certain words and expressions agreed upon by the original compilers, and the key to which is but with the initiates. The Western scholars may say: “the key to the Avesta is not the Pahlavi but the Vedas”; but the Occultist’s answer is: “aye; but the key to the Vedas is the Secret Doctrine.” The former assert correctly enough that, “the Vedas come from the same source as the Avesta”; the students of Occultism ask—“Do you know even the A, B, C, of that source?”
To show that the Occultists are justified in their disrespectful remark, it suffices to give one instance. On page six of his Introduction, to Part I of the Zend-Avesta—the Vendidad, Mr. J. Darmesteter has the following remark: “The Ancestors of the Indo-Iranians had been led to speak of seven worlds, the Supreme God was often made sevenfold, as well as the worlds over which he ruled . . . The seven worlds became in Persia the seven KARSHVARE of the earth: the earth is divided into seven KARSHVARE, only one of which is known and accessible to man, the one on which we live, namely, ‘hvaniratha’; which amounts to saying that there are seven earths.” The latter belief is attributed, of course, to ignorance and superstition. Nor do we feel quite certain that this opinion will not be shared by those of our readers who neither are Chelas nor have read the “Fragments of Occult Truth.” But we leave it with the “lay chelas” and others to judge whether this sevenfold division (see Farg. XIX) is not the A, B, C, of the Occult Doctrines. The agreement found between the statements of Plutarch and Anquetil’s translation of the Avesta, only shows the correctness of the latter; it does not at all prove that Plutarch gave the true version of the secret meaning of the Zoroastrian religion. Well may Sir W. Jones have exclaimed that the Avesta of Anquetil, so full of silly tales, and laws so absurd, could not be the work of such a sage as Zoroaster!
The first Zara-Ishtar was a Median, born in Rae, say the Greeks, who place the epoch in which he flourished 5, or 6,000 years before the Trojan war; while according to the teachings of the Secret Doctrine this “first” was the “last” or seventh Zarathushtra (the 13th of the Desatir)—though he was followed by one more Zuruastara or Suryâchâria (later, owing to a natural change of language transformed into Zuryaster and again into Zarathushtra), who lived in the days of the first Gushtasp (not the father of Darius though, as imagined by some scholars).13 The latter is very improperly called “the founder” of modern Monotheistic Parseeism, for besides being only a revivalist and the exponent of the modern philosophy, he was the last to make a desperate attempt at the restoration of pure Magianism. He is known to have gone from Shiz, to the Mt. Zebilan in the cave, whither proceeded the initiates of the Magi; and upon emerging from it to have returned with the Zend Avesta re-translated once more and commented upon by himself. This original commentary, it is claimed, exists till now among other old works in the secret libraries. But its copies—now in the possession of the profane world, bear as much resemblance to it as the Christianity of today to that of its Founder. And now, if we are asked, as we have been repeatedly, if there are indeed men in whose power it is to give the correct version of true Zoroastrianism, then why do not they do so? We answer: “because—very few will believe it in this our age.” Instead of benefiting men they would but hurt the devotees of those truths. And as to giving to the world more information about the locality known as Airyana-Vaego, we need point but to the sentence in Fargard I, in which we find Ahura Mazda saying to Spitama “the most benevolent”—that he had made every land,—even though it had no charms whatever in it—dear to its dwellers, since otherwise the “whole living world would have invaded the Airyânâm Vaejo” (v. 2).14 Hence unable to satisfy entirely our readers, we can say but very little. If our opinion can in any way help our correspondent, we are ready to share it with him and say, that Zend scholars and Orientalists notwithstanding, it is our belief that not only have the Persian theologians of the latter portion of the Sassanian dynasty disfigured entirely their sacred books, but, that owing to the presence of the pharisaical element and the Rabbis during the pre-Christian as well as post-Christian periods in Persia and Babylonia, they have borrowed from the Jews at least as much as the latter have borrowed from them. If the sacred books of the Pharisees owe their angelology and other speculations to the Babylonians, the modern Avesta Commentaries owe the Jews undeniably their anthropomorphic creator, as well as their crude notions about Heaven and Hell.
“The learned Colonel will be doing a great favour to the Parsees, if he will consent to say what he thinks of the following from “The History of the Conflict between Religion and Science,” by W. Draper:
“Persia, as is the case with all empires of long duration, had passed through many changes of religion. She had followed the Monotheism of Zoroaster; had then accepted Dualism, and exchanged that for Magianism. At the time of the Macedonian expedition, she recognized one Universal Intelligence, the Creator, Preserver and Governor of all things, the most holy essence of truth, the giver of all good. He was not to be represented by any image or any graven form.” (Page 15).
“In the latter years of the empire, the principles of Magianism had gradually prevailed more and more over those of Zoroaster. Magianism was essentially a worship of the elements. Of these, fire was considered the most worthy representative of the Supreme Being.” (Pages 15-16.)
Colonel Olcott would probably answer that Prof. Draper was right with regard to the many phases which the great religion of Persia—if we have to call it thus—had passed. But Draper mentions by name only Monotheism, Dualism, Magianism—a kind of refined Visishtadwaitism—and Fire or element worship, whereas he might have enumerated the gradual changes by the dozen. Moreover, he begins his enumeration at the wrong end. If Monotheism has ever been the religion of the Parsees at any time, it is so now, not then, namely in the Zoroaster period.
“The Zend Avesta, with some exceptions, contains nothing essentially different from what the Vedas contain. The gods, the rites, the ceremonies, the modes of prayers, and the prayers themselves, are but a reflex of the Vedas. Surely then when Zoroaster dissented from the Brahmans, it could not be merely to adopt the same pantheism or polytheism in a different language. The teaching of Zoroaster must necessarily be something quite different. Some may say he dissented from the idol worship of the Brahmans; but I think history can prove that the Brahmans were idolaters before they left Ariana. Does it not rather appear that the Magians who followed Zoroastrianism, copied everything from their close neighbours the Brahmans and muddled it up with the current and easily reliable name of Zoroaster, forgetting, perhaps, under the sway of altered popular superstitions of the age, the true teaching of Zoroaster. The learned Colonel or yourself, or any of your contributors, whose learning is, I may say without flattery, very enviable, will be doing a great service to the Parsees, if he will kindly say what he thinks the true teaching of Zoroaster was.”
Enough is said, we believe, in our preceding statements to show what we honestly think of “the true teaching of Zoroaster.” It is only in such rare non-liturgical fragments as the Hâdokht Nosk for instance, that the true teachings of Zarathushtra Spitama, or those of primitive Magianism may yet be found, and even these have to be read as a sacred code to which a key has to be applied. Thus, every word in the tenets given in the Hâdokht and relating to the fate of our soul after death, has its occult meaning. It is not correct to say even of the later versions of the Zend Avesta that its gods, prayers, and rites are all “but a reflex of the Vedas.” Neither the Brahmans, nor the Zoroastrians have copied one from the other. With the exception of the word Zeruana in its later meaning of “Boundless” time, instead of the “Boundless” Spirit, the “One eternity,” explained in the sense of the Brahmanical chakkra or endless circle, there is nothing borrowed from the Vedas. Both the Vedas and the Zend-Avesta originating from the same school, have naturally the same symbols, only—very differently explained, still—having the same esoteric significance. Professor Max Müller, speaking of the Parsees, calls them “the disinherited sons of Manu”; and declares elsewhere, that the Zoroastrians and their ancestors started from India during the Vaidik period, which “can be proved as distinctly as that the inhabitants of Massilia started from Greece.”15 We certainly do not mean to question the hypothesis, though as he gives it, it is still but a personal opinion. The Zoroastrians have, undoubtedly, been “settled in India before they immigrated into Persia” as they have ages later, returned again to Aryavarta, when they got indeed “under the sway of altered popular superstitions, and forgot the true teachings of Zoraaster.” But this theory cuts both ways. For, it neither proves that they have not entered India together and at the same time as the first Brahmans who came to it from the far north; nor that the latter had not been “settled” in Persia, Media, Babylonia and elsewhere before they immigrated into the land of the Seven Rivers. Between Zoroaster, the primeval institutor of “Sun” worship, and Zaratushtra, the primeval expounder of the occult properties and transcendental powers of the divine (Promethean) Fire, there lies the abyss of ages. The latter was one of the earliest hierophants, one of the first Athravans (priests, or teachers of “fire”), while the Zoroaster of “Gushtasp” was living some 4,000 years B.C. Indeed, Bunsen places Zoroaster at Bactria and the emigration of the Bactrians to the Indus at 3784 B.C. And this Zoroaster taught, not what he had learned “from,” but with, the Brahmans, i.e., at Airyânâm Vaejo, since what is identical with Brahmanical symbology is found but in the earlier Vedas, not in any of the later Commentaries; it may be even said of the Vedas themselves, that though compiled in the land of the Seven Rivers, they existed ages before in the north. Thus if anyone is to be blamed for getting under “the sway of altered popular superstitions” of the Brahmans, it is not the Zoroastrians of that age, but indeed Hystaspes who, after visiting “the Brahmans of Upper India,” as Ammianus tells us—and having been instructed by them, infused their later rites and ideas into the already disfigured Magian worship.
“Hargrave Jennings, a mystic, has eulogized fire as being the best symbol of worship, but he says nowhere that the fire symbol, directly worshipped in its own name and as one of the created elements, as is done in Zend-Avesta, is in any way defensible. The learned Colonel, in his lecture on the Spirit of Zoroastrianism, defends fire-worshippers, but does he really understand them as offering direct prayer as above stated? Fire-worship is borrowed from the Vedas.”
We think not. Fire-worship, or rather reverence for fire, was in the remote ages universal. Fire and water are the elements in which, as Occult Science teaches, the active and passive productive powers of the universe are respectively centered. Says Hippocrates (Divite, 1-4): “All living creatures . . . animals and men originate from the two Principles, differing in potency but agreeing in purpose. I mean Fire and Water. . . . Father fire gives life to all things, but Mother water nourishes them.” Has our friend who seems to show such an evident scorn for the emblems of his own religion, ever studied those of other people? Has he ever been told, that there never was a religion but paid reverence to the Sun and Fire as the fittest emblems of Life, hence—of the life-giving principle; nay, that there is not, even at present, one single creed on our globe (including Christianity) but has preserved this reverence in its ritualism, though the emblems with time have been changed and disfigured? The only essential difference between the modern Parsee Mobeds and the Christian Clergy lies in this: the devotees of the former being profoundly attached to their old religion—though they may have forgotten its origin—have honestly left exoteric Zoroastrianism standing before the jury of the world, who judges on mere appearances—unveiled in its apparent nakedness; while Christian theologians less unsophisticated, kept perpetually modifying Christianity in exact proportion as science advanced and the world became more enlightened, until finally their religion now stands under a thick, withal very insecure, mask. All the religions from the old Vaidik, the Zoroastrian and the Jewish creeds down to modern Christianity, the illegitimate and repudiated progeny of the last, sprang from archaic Magianism, or the Religion based upon the knowledge of Occult nature, called sometimes Sabaism—the “worship” (?) of the Sun, moon, and stars. See what Evan Powell Meredith in his “correspondence, touching the Divine Origin of the Christian Religion,” with the Vicar of Whaplode, says:—
“Your Sacred Books, Sir, are replete with phrases used in fire-worship and with narrations of the appearance of a fire-god. It was as a flame of fire that the Jewish Deity first appeared to Moses. It was as fire he gave the law on Mount Sinai. It was the God that answered as fire, who was to be the true god in the contest held between Elijah and the Prophets of Baal. It was as fire the same God answered his servant David. The altar of incense displayed this fire. The same fire, with incense—a perfume used by heathens in their worship—was carried by the priests in their censers; and this fire, once, miraculously killed some of them. All the burnt-offerings of the Jews, like those of other nations, originated in fire-worship, the worshippers supposing that the God of fire devoured their sacrifices, as food, whether vegetable or animal, human or bestial. In ‘a chariot of fire, and horses of fire,’ precisely like the heathen chariot and horses of the sun, Elijah went up to heaven. We are told that Jehovah went before the Jews ‘as a consuming fire’; and we are assured, not only by the Jew, that his Jehovah Aleim is a consuming fire ‘even a jealous God’ (or, as some translate the latter expression, the burning God . . . ) but also by the Christian, that his Theos of Zeus (Ioue, Iove, Jove, Jupiter, etc.) is a consuming fire! We find that the sacred fire of Jehovah was in Zion, as well as in the temple of Vesta, or of Minerva (Isa., xxxi, 9), and as a still more remarkable proof of the identity the Jewish fire-worship, with that of the Gentiles, we find that the fire of Jehovah, on the brazen altar, was to be kept always burning—was never to be allowed to go out (Lev., vi, 13). Precisely in like manner was the sacred fire kept burning in the temple of Diana, among the Persians. The Magi of Persia and Chaldea had the care of preserving this holy fire. In the temple of Ceres and of Apollo the sacred fire was always kept burning. The preservation of the fire in the temple of Minerva was entrusted to a number of young women, just as the vestal Virgins were charged with the preservation of the sacred fire in the temple of Vesta under penalty of death, if they allowed this precious fire to be extinguished. The custom of preserving the sacred fire is much older than the Hebrew mythology. Diodorus Siculus tells us that it was derived by the Romans from the Greeks, and by them from the Egyptians [who borrowed it from the Chaldees]. There is very little doubt that it is nearly as old as Sun-worship, and that fire, when worshipped, was originally regarded as an emblem of the Solar Deity. All the ancients imagined the god to be a body of fire. By all his worshippers he was considered to have existed from Eternity, and to have created, not only all other luminous bodies but the whole Universe. He was thought to be the father of lights and to have all other luminaries, such as the Moon, stars, and so on under his control and guidance. As a creator, he was called Helios Demiourgos—the Sun-creator or the Solar Creator. In the Psalms, as well as in other parts of the Bible, the creation and government of the world are attributed to the Solar Deity in a vast number of instances which you will find in the sequel (vide Vossius, de Orig. et Prog. Idol., lib ii, c. 5. Bochart, Canaan, lib. ii, c. 5). As Governor of-the Celestial Bodies, thought by the ancients inferior gods. The Helio Deity of the Bible is continually called ‘God of Hosts,’ ‘Lord of Hosts,’ ‘Lord God of Hosts,’ etc. (Jehovah Tsabaoth, Alei Tsabaoth.) Wherever the God of Hosts is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, there can be no room for doubt that the writer meant the Sun [the Lord of the Host of Stars]. We often read of the light, glory, and shining of the God of Hosts, such as—‘O Lord God of Hosts, cause thy face to shine’ (Psalms, lxxx).—The Reformer, “Delot on Theism,” pp. 28, 29.
We invite our correspondent, if he wants to trace in the Ritualism of modern Christian theology the old Fire-worship—to read The Rosicrucians, by Hargrave Jennings, with more attention than he had hitherto done. Fire is the essence of all active power in nature. Fire and water are the elements to which all organized and animated beings owe their existence on our Earth, at any rate, the sun is the only visible and undeniable Creator and Regenerator of life.
“If one should take a cursory glance through the Spiegel Bleck translation of Zend Avesta, he will find that the portions in languages other than Zend are marked in italics. He will also find that in common with several others, all the penitential portions in the Avesta, without exception, are also in italics, indicating that the portions and the doctrine they contain, were introduced at a very late period. Will the learned Colonel or yourself, or any of your contributors, kindly say what Zoroastrianism looks like when divested of the doctrine of penitence? And when further divested of all that has been copied by the Magians from the Vedas, I think nothing worth knowing remains.”
We would put the last sentence otherwise, and say that “divested of its few remaining non-liturgical fragments,” and a few Fargards and Yashts explained esoterically, nothing worth knowing can be found in the Avesta as it stands at present. Prodicus and some of the early Gnostics were the last who had in their possession some of the secret books of Zoroaster. That those “secret” books were not the Avesta in its present form, can be proved by the non-attractiveness of its texts which have nothing in them, as explained now, to fascinate the mystic. Prodicus had the secret code as well as the key to it. A few of the adepts of ancient Magianism existed and were known publicly in those days, since Clemens Alexandrinus speaks of those who follow the heresy of Prodicus and “boast of possessing the secret books of Zoroaster.” (Strom. I.)
“You have often said, and your Theosophist brothers have also said, that the Christians live in a house of glass, and that the Theosophists know what the Christians are. The same is said of Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. But we are never told what the Christians really are or what their true teaching should be. Do Theosophists think that such general remarks without the slightest attempt to support them by proofs better than those furnished by ordinary histories, will in any way serve any purpose? If the arguments should be any other than founded upon Occult philosophy, then I think the difficulties in your way should prove similar to those that have beset and deterred the Christian missionaries in India.”
The followers of every one of the present great exoteric religions “live in a house of glass.” The impeachment is pretty well proved, we should say, by their respective inhabitants having nigh broken by this time all the windowpanes of their neighbours, who have returned the compliment. It is sufficient, we believe, to study Christianity, and compare its hundreds of mutually conflicting and destroying sects, to find out what they are, or rather what they are not; for surely a true Christ-like Christian is rarer in our days than a white cow. It is not, however, in the columns of this journal that we can undertake to show all that “they really are,” nor have we hitherto shown any signs—whenever occasion presented itself—of limiting our charges to “general remarks”; but, since truth is very unpalatable, and as they are showing by their actions better than we can ever do so in words, their real moral standard—we regard it as a loss of time to be ever presenting before them a mirror. It is the task undertaken and carried out in a most excellent way by the free-thinkers, in whose current literature one can find everything one may desire in the shape of proof. Our business is to winnow by the means of Occult philosophy the grain from the chaff, to show what a thing is not, and thus allow the profane an opportunity to judge for themselves and see what it is.
“The above are the questions that have been embarrassing me for months, and I do hope that diffuse though they are, you will do me the favour to insert them in the next issue of the Theosophist. If they will only serve to stir the Parsee scholars (unfortunately I am not a scholar) I shall be satisfied.”
We have done our best to satisfy our correspondent. The subject is of a tremendous interest to every thinking Parsee, but he has to help himself if he would learn more. His religion is not dead yet; and under the lifeless mask of modern Zoroastrianism the pulse of the Magi of old still beats. We have endeavoured as briefly as possible to give a correct, though a very superficial, view of the purport and spirit of true Magianism. There is not a sentence in this for which authority cannot be shown.
1. One who has studied The Fragments of Occult Truth knows that our present race is the fifth, and that we have two more to pass through before we reach our end—on this planet.—Ed. [H.P.B.]
2. “Throughout the Middle Ages nothing was known of Mazdianism, but the name of its founder, who from a Magus was converted into a magician and master of the hidden sciences,” says James Darmesteter, who knows as much as his exoteric science will permit him of the former; but being wholly ignorant of esoteric sciences, knows nothing of the latter at all and therefore blunders greatly. One could not be a Magha, a Magus-priest, without being, at the same time, what is now known under the vulgar term of “Magician.” But of this later on.—Ed. [H.P.B.]
3. Asiatic Researches, vol. ii, pp. 48-49.
4. Let it not be understood that we here speak of the “Magi” in general, whether we view them as one of the Medean tribes (?) as some Orientalists (Darmesteter for one), relying upon a vague statement of Herodotus, believe, or a sacerdotal caste like the Brahmans—as we maintain. We refer but to their initiates. The origin of the Brahmans and Magi in the night of time—is one, the secret doctrine teaches us. First, they were a hierarchy of adepts, of men profoundly versed in physical and spiritual sciences and occult knowledge, of various nationalities, all celibates, and enlarging their numbers by the transmission of their knowledge to voluntary neophytes. Then when their numbers became too large to be contained in the “Airyânâm-Vaejô,” the adepts scattered far and wide, and we can trace them establishing other hierarchies on the model of the first in every part of the globe, each hierarchy increasing, and finally becoming so large as to have to restrict admission; the “half adepts” going back to the world, marrying and laying the first foundation of the “left-hand” science or sorcery, the misuse of the Holy Knowledge. In the third stage—the members of the True ones become with every age more limited and secret, the admissions being beset now with new difficulties. We begin to see the origin of the Temple Mysteries. The hierarchy divides into two parts. The chosen few, the hierophants—the imperium in imperio—remaining celibates, the exoteric priests make of marriage a law, an attempt to perpetuate adepts by hereditary descent, and fail sadly in it. Thus we find Brahmans and Magi, Egyptian priests and Roman hierarchs and Augurs enjoining married life and inventing religious clauses to prove its necessity. No need repeating and reminding the reader of that which is left to his own knowledge of history, and his intuitions. In our day we find the descendants, the heirs to the old wisdom, scattered all over the globe in small isolated and unknown communities, whose objects are misunderstood, and whose origin has been forgotten; and only two religions, the result of the teaching of those priests and hierophants of old. The latter are found in the sorry remains called respectively—Brahmans and Dasturs or Mobeds. But there is still the nucleus left, albeit so strenuously denied, of the heirs of the primitive Magi, of the Vedic Magha and the Greek Magos—the priests and gods of old, the last of whom manifested openly and defiantly during the Christian era in the person of Apollonius of Tyana.—Ed. [H.P.B.]
6. The Jewish methods of examining the Scriptures for their hidden meaning.—Ed. [H.P.B.]
7. Of course, as found out by the Orientalists, the word “Zend” does not apply to any language, whether dead or living, and never belonged to any of the languages or dialects of ancient Persia (See Farhang-i-Jahangiri the Persian dictionary.) It means, as in one sense correctly stated, “a commentary or explanation,” but it also means that which the Orientalists do not seem to have any idea about, viz., the “rendering of the esoteric into exoteric sentences,” the veil used to conceal the correct meaning of the Zen-(d)-zar texts, the sacerdotal language in use among the initiates of archiac India. Found now in several undecipherable inscriptions, it is still used and studied unto this day in the secret communities of the Eastern adepts, and called by them—according to the locality—Zend-zar and Brahma or Dew-Bhashya.—Ed. [H.P.B.]
8. Compare the so-called “Akkadian formulæ of exorcism” of the earliest period known to the Orientalists to which the collection of charms and amulets belong (in truth very late periods) with most of the injunctions found in Vendidad (Fargard XIII) concerning the dog. It seems almost incredible that even the dullest among the Zend scholars should not perceive that verse 163, for instance (same Fargard) which says: “For no house could subsist on the earth made by Ahura (in this case the “house”—not the earth—made by Ahura), but for those two dogs of mine, the shepherd’s dog and the house dog”—cannot refer really to these animals. The commentary made on it (Saddar, 31, Hyde 35) is absurd and ridiculous. It is not, as it says, that “not a single head of cattle would remain in existence but for the dogs”—but that all humanity, endowed as it is with the highest intellect among the intelligences of the animal kingdom, would, under the leadership of Angra-Mainyu, mutually destroy themselves physically and spiritually, but for the presence of the “dogs”—the two highest spiritual principles. The dog Vanghâpara (the hedgehog, says the commentator!) “the good creature among the creatures of the Good Spirit that from midnight (our time of ignorance) till the sun is up (spiritual enlightenment) goes and kills thousands of the creatures of the Evil Spirit” (Farg. XIII, 1) is our spiritual conscience. He who “kills it” (stifles its voice within himself) shall not find his way over the Chinvat bridge (leading to paradise). Then compare these symbolisms with those of the Akkadian talismans. Even as translated by G. Smith, distorted as they are, still the seven dogs described—as the “blue,” the “yellow,” the “spotted,” etc., can be shown to have all of them reference to the same seven human principles as classified by Occultism. The whole collection of the “formulæ of exorcism” so-called of the Akkadians is full of references to the seven evil and the seven good spirits which are our principles in their dual aspect.—Ed. [H.P.B.]
9. Yast, XV, 3.
10. Begging the pardon of our European Sanskritists and Zend scholars, we would ask them to tell, if they know, who was the Mazdean goddess Ardvi-Sura Anâhita? We maintain and can prove what we say, that the said personage implored by Ahura, and Sarasvati (the Brahmanical goddess of Secret or Occult wisdom) are identical. Where is the philosophy of the Supreme God, “the omnipotent and omniscient ALL” seeking for the help of his own creature?—Ed. [H.P.B.]
11. See “Fragments of Occult Truth.”—Ed. [H.P.B.]
12. Purity of speech, purity of action, purity of thought.
13. It is now an exploded theory that showed King Vistaspa—(or Gushtasp) as identical with the father of Darius, hence as flourishing 600 B.C. Vistaspa was the last of the line of the Kaianian princes who ruled in Bactriana; and Bactriana was conquered by the Assyrians 1200 b.c. Our earlier Zend scholars are guilty of more than one such gross mistake. Thus Hystaspes is made in History to crush the Magi, and reintroduce the pure religion of Zoroaster, as though those were two distinct religions; and at the same time an inscription is fount on the tomb of Darius or Darayavush, stating that he (the crusher of Magianism!) was himself, “teacher and hierophant of magic,” or Magianism! (See Isis Unveiled, Vol. II, pp. 141-42).
14. Why do we find Zoroaster in the Bundehesh offering a sacrifice in “Irân-Vej”—distorted name for Airyânâm Vaejo, and where or what was this country? Though some Orientalists call it “no real country,” and others identify it with the basin of the Aras, the latter has nothing to do with Airyânâm Vaejo. The last Zaratust may have chosen, and he has so chosen, the banks of the Aras for the cradle of his newly reborn religion; only that cradle received a child reborn and suckled elsewhere, namely, in Airyânâm Vaejo (the true “seed of the Aryas,” who were then all that was noble and true) which place is identical with the Shamballah of the Hindus and the Arhats, a place now regarded also as mythical. In Fargard II, Ahura-Mazda calls together “a meeting of the celestial gods,” and Yima, the first man, “of the excellent mortals,” in the Airyânâm Vaejo—“in the far-off lands of the rising sun,” says the Book of Numbers of the Chaldees, written on the Euphrates. Those of the Parsees who have ears, let them hear, and—draw their inferences; and, perchance, it may be also found that the Brahmans who came from the North to India bringing with them all the learning of secret wisdom came from a place still more northward than lake Mansarovar.—Ed. [H.P.B.]
15. See Vol. I of Chips from a German Workshop, p. 84.