mercredi 18 septembre 2013

The Gathas The Hymns of Zarathushtra

The Gathas
The Hymns of Zarathushtra

Complet: http://www.zarathushtra.com/z/gatha/dji/The%20Gathas%20-%20DJI.pdf

By D. J. Irani
www.Zarathushtra.comTable of Contents
The Gathas – The Hymns of Zarathushtra
Table of Contents ...................................................................................................................... i
Forward To The Divine Songs of Zarathushtra - Rabindranath Tagore..................................1
Introduction The Gathas of Zarathushtra - K.D. Irani.............................................................5
WHAT ARE THE GATHAS?...................................................................................................................5
THE CONTENT OF THE GATHAS. ...................................................................................................5
THE THEOLOGY OF THE GATHAS.................................................................................................6
THE NON-THEOLOGICAL CONTENT OF THE GATHAS.......................................................7
NOTES ON GATHIC TERMS AND THEOLOGICAL CONCEPTS...........................................7
Synopsis of the Gathas.................................................................................................................................9
Ahunuvaiti Gatha.....................................................................................................................14
Yasna 29........................................................................................................................................................14
Yasna 28........................................................................................................................................................16
Yasna 30........................................................................................................................................................18
Yasna 31........................................................................................................................................................20
Yasna 32........................................................................................................................................................23
Yasna 33........................................................................................................................................................25
Yasna 34........................................................................................................................................................27
Ushtavaiti Gatha......................................................................................................................30
Yasna 43........................................................................................................................................................30
Yasna 44........................................................................................................................................................33
Yasna 45........................................................................................................................................................36
Yasna 46........................................................................................................................................................38
Spenta Mainyu Gatha..............................................................................................................41
Yasna 47........................................................................................................................................................41
Yasna 48........................................................................................................................................................42
Yasna 49........................................................................................................................................................44
Yasna 50........................................................................................................................................................46
Vohu-Khshathra Gatha............................................................................................................48
Yasna 51........................................................................................................................................................48
Vahishto-Ishti Gatha ...............................................................................................................52
Yasna 53........................................................................................................................................................52
iForward
To
The Divine Songs of Zarathushtra
- Rabindranath Tagore
The most important of all outstanding facts of Iranian history is the religious reform brought about
by Zarathushtra. He was the first man we know who gave a definitely moral character and direction
to religion, and at the same time preached the doctrine of monotheism, which offered an eternal
foundation of reality to goodness as an ideal of perfection. All religions of the primitive type try to
keep men bound with regulations of external observances. These, no doubt, have the hypnotic effect
of vaguely suggesting a realm of right and wrong; but the dimness of their light produces phantasms
leaving men to aberrations. Zarathushtra was the greatest of all the pioneer prophets who showed
the path of freedom to men, the freedom of moral choice, the freedom from blind obedience to
unmeaning injunctions, freedom from the multiplicity of shrines which draw our worship away from
the single-minded chastity of devotion. To most of us it sounds like a truism to-day when we are
told that the moral goodness of a deed comes from the goodness of intention. But it is a truth which
once came to a man like a revelation of light in the darkness and has not yet reached all the obscure
corners of humanity. There are men we still see around us who fearfully follow, hoping thereby to
gain merit, the path of blind formalisms, which have no living moral source in the mind. This will
make us understand the greatness of Zarathushtra. Though surrounded by believers in magical rites,
he proclaimed in those dark days of unreason, that religion has its truth in its moral significance, not
in external practices of imaginary value; that it is to uphold man in his life of good thoughts, good
words and good deeds.
The outer expression of truth reaches its white light of simplicity through its inner realization. True
simplicity is the physiognomy of perfection. In the primitive stage of spiritual growth, when man is
dimly aware of the mystery of the infinite in his life and the world, when he does not fully know the
inward character of his relationship with this truth, his first feeling is either that of dread or of a
greed of gain. This drives him into wild exaggeration in worship, into frenzied convulsion of
ceremonialism. But in Zarathushtra's teachings, which are best reflected in his Gathas, we have
hardly any mention of the ritualism of worship. Conduct and its moral motives, such as Vohumano.
Asha and Aramaiti, have received almost the sole attention in them.
The orthodox Persian form of worship in ancient Iran included animal sacrifices and offering of
haoma to the daevas. That all this should be discountenanced by Zarathushtra not only shows his
courage, but the strength of his realization of the Supreme Being as Spirit. We are told that it has
been mentioned by Plutarch: "Zarathushtra taught the Persians to sacrifice to Ahura Mazda 'vows
and thanksgivings.'" The distance between faith in the efficacy of bloodstained magical rites and
cultivation of moral and spiritual ideals as the true form of worship is immense. It is amazing to see
how Zarathushtra was the first among men who crossed this distance with a certainty of realization
which imparted such a fervour of faith in his life and his words. The truth which tilled his mind was
not a thing borrowed from books or received from teachers. He did not come to it by following a
prescribed path of tradition. It flashed upon him as an illumination of his entire life, almost like a
communication to his personal self, and he proclaimed the utmost immediacy of his knowledge in
these words:
1"When I conceived of Thee, O Mazda, as the very First and the Last, as the most Adorable One.
as the Father of Good Thought, as the Creator of Truth and Right, as the Lord Judge of our
actions in life, then I made a place for Thee in my very eyes"-Yasna, 31-4. (Translation by D. J. Irani.)
It was the direct stirring of his soul which made him say:-
"Thus do I announce the Greatest of all. I weave my songs of praise for Him through Truth, helpful
and beneficent to all that live. Let Ahura Mazda listen to them with His Holy Spirit, for the Good
Mind instructed me to adore Him; by His Wisdom let Him teach me about what is best."- Yasna,
45-6.
The truth which is not reached through the analytical process of reasoning, and does not depend for
proof on some corroboration of outward facts, or the prevalent faith and practice of the people--the
truth, which comes like an inspiration out of context with its surroundings, brings with it an
assurance that it has been sent from a divine source of wisdom; that the individual who has received
it is specially chosen and therefore has his responsibility as the messenger of God. Zarathushtra felt
this sacredness of his mission and believed himself to be the direct medium of communication of
Divine Truth.
So long as man deals with his God as the dispenser of benefits to the worshipper, who knows the
secret of propitiating him, he tries to keep him for his own self or for the tribe to which he belongs.
But directly the moral or spiritual nature of God is apprehended, this knowledge is thrown open to
all humanity; and then the idea of God, which once gave unity only to a special people, transcends
limitations of race and gathers together all human beings within one spiritual circle of union.
Zarathushtra was the first prophet who emancipated religion from the exclusive narrowness of the
tribal God, the God of a chosen people, and offered it to the universal man. This is a great fact in
the history of religion. The Master said, when the enlightenment came to him:
"Verily I believe Thee, O Ahura Mazda, to be the Supreme Benevolent Providence, when Sraosha
came to me with the Good Mind, when first I received and became wise with Thy words! And
though the task be difficult, though woe may come to me, I shall proclaim to all mankind Thy
message, which Thou declarest to be the best."-Yasna, 43-11.
He prays to Mazda:
"This I ask Thee, tell me truly, O Ahura, the religion that is best for all mankind--the religion,
based on truth, which should prosper all that is mine, the religion which establishes our actions in
order and justice by the Divine Songs of Perfect Piety, which has, for its intelligent desire of desires,
the desire for Thee, O Mazda!"-Yasna, 44-10.
With the undoubted assurance and hope of one who has got a direct vision of Truth he speaks to
the world:
"Hearken unto me, Ye, who come from far and near! Listen, for I shall speak forth now; ponder
well over all things, weigh my words with care and clear thought. Never shall the false teacher destroy
this world for a second time; for his tongue stands mute, his creed exposed."-Yasna, 45-1.
I think it can be said without doubt that such a high conception of religion, uttered in such a clear
note of affirmation, with a sure conviction that it is a truth of the ultimate ideal of perfection which
must be revealed to all humanity, even at the cost of martyrdom, is unique in the history of religion
belonging to such a remote dawn of civilisation.
There was a time when along with other Aryan peoples the Persians also worshipped the elemental
gods of nature, on whose favour they depended for the good things of life. But such favour was not
to be won by any moral duty performed or by any service of love. In fact, it was the crude beginning
2of the scientific spirit trying to unlock the hidden sources of power in nature. But through it all there
must have been some current of deeper desire which constantly contradicted the cult of power and
indicated a world of inner good infinitely more precious than material gain. Its voice was not strong
at first, nor was it heeded by the majority of the people; but its influence, like the life within the seed,
was silently working. Then comes the great teacher; and in his life and mind the hidden fire of truth
suddenly bursts out in a flame. The best in the people works for long obscure ages in hints and
whispers till it finds its voice, which can never again be silenced. For that voice becomes the voice of
mankind, no longer confined to a particular time or people. It works across intervals of silence and
oblivion, depression and defeat, and comes out again and again with its conquering call. It is a call to
the fighter--the fighter against untruth--against all that lures away man's spirit from its high mission
of freedom into the meshes of materialism. And Zarathushtra's voice is still a living voice, not a
mere matter of academic interest for historical scholars who deal with the dead facts of the past. It is
not a voice which is only to guide a small community of men in the daily details of their life. For
have we not seen that Zarathushtra was the first of all teachers who, in his religious teachings, sent
his words to all human races across the distance of space and time? He was not like a man who by
some chance of friction had lighted a lamp, and knowing that it could not be shared by all, secured it
with a miser's care for his own domestic use. But he was the watcher in the night, who stood on the
lonely peak facing the East and broke out singing the poems of light to the sleeping world when the
sun came out on the brim of the horizon. He declared that the sun of truth is for all, that its light is
to unite the far and the near. Such a message always arouses the antagonism of those whose habits
have become nocturnal, whose vested interest is in the darkness. And there was a bitter fight in the
lifetime of the prophet between his followers and others who were addicted to the ceremonies that
had tradition on their side and not truth.
We are told that "Zarathushtra was descended from a kingly family," and also that the first converts
to his doctrines were of the ruling caste. But the priesthood, "the Kavis and the Karapans, often
succeeded in bringing the rulers over to their side." So we find that, in this fight, the princes of the
land divided themselves into two opposite parties, as we find in India in the Kurukshetra war. "With
the princes have the Kavis and the Karapans united, in order to corrupt man by their evil deeds."
Among the princes that stood against Zarathushtra, as his enemies, the mighty Bendva might be
included, who is mentioned in Yasna, 49, 1-2. From the context we may surmise that he stood on
the side of the infidels. A family or a race of princely blood were probably the Grehma (Yasna, 32,
12-14). Regarding them it is said that they "having allied with the Kavis and the Karapans, have
established their power in order to overpower the prophet and his partisans. In fact, the opposition
between the pious and the impious, the believers and the unbelievers, seem very often to have led to
open combat. The prophet prays to Ahura that he may grant victory to his own, when both the
armies rush together in combat, whereby they can cause defeat among the wicked, and procure for
them strife and trouble."
There is evidence in our Indian legends that in ancient India also there have been fights between the
representatives of the orthodox faith and the Kshatriyas, who, owing to their own special vocation,
had a comparative freedom of mind about the religion of external observances. The proofs are
strong enough to lead us to believe that the monotheistic religious movement had its origin and
principal support in the kingly caste of those days, though a great number of them fought to oppose
it.
I have discussed in another place the growth in ancient India of the moral and spiritual element in
her religion which had accompanied the Indian Aryan people from the time of the Indo-Iranian age,
showing how the struggle with its antagonistic force has continued all through the history of India. I
have shown how the revolution which accompanied the teachings of Zarathushtra, breaking out into
3severe fights, had its close analogy in the religious revolution in India whose ideals are still preserved
in the Bhagavadgita.
It is interesting to note that the growth of the same ideal in the same race in different geographical
situations has produced results that, in spite of their unity, have some aspect of difference. The
Iranian monotheism is more ethical, while the Indian is more metaphysical in its character. Such a
difference in their respective spiritual developments was owing, no doubt, to the more active vigour
of life in the old Persians and the contemplative quietude of mind in the Indians. This distinction in
the latter arises in a great measure out of the climatic conditions of the country, the easy fertility of
the soil and the great stretch of plains in Northern India affording no constant obstacles in physical
nature to be daily overcome by man, while the climate of Persia is more bracing and the surface of
the soil more rugged. The Zoroastrian ideal has accepted the challenge of the principle of evil and
has enlisted itself in the fight on the side of Ahura Mazda, the great, the good, the wise. In India,
although the ethical side is not absent, the emphasis has been more strongly laid on subjective
realisation through a stoical suppression of desire, and the attainment of a perfect equanimity of
mind by cultivating indifference to all causes of joy and sorrow. Here the idea, over which the minds
of men brooded for ages, in an introspective intensity of silence, was that man as a spiritual being
had to realise the truth by breaking through his sheath of self. All the desires and feelings that limit
his being are keeping him shut in from the region of spiritual freedom.
In man the spirit of creation is waiting to find its ultimate release in an ineffable illumination of
Truth. The aspiration of India is for attaining the infinite in the spirit of man. On the other hand, as
I have said before, the ideal of Zoroastrian Persia is distinctly ethical. It sends its call to men to work
together with the Eternal Spirit of Good in spreading and maintaining Kshatra, the Kingdom of
Righteousness, against all attacks of evil. This ideal gives us our place as collaborators with God in
distributing His blessings over the world.
"Clear is this all to the man of wisdom as to the man who carefully thinks; he who upholds Truth
with all the might of his power, he who upholds Truth the utmost in his word and deed, he, indeed,
is thy most valued helper, O Mazda Ahura!-Yasna, 31-22.
It is, in fact, of supreme moment to us that the human world is in an incessant state of war between
that which will save us and that which will drag us into the abyss of disaster. Our one hope lies in
the fact that Ahura Mazda is on our side if we choose the right course. The law of warfare is severe
in its character; it allows no compromise. " None of you:" says Zarathushtra, "shall find the doctrine
and precepts of the wicked; because thereby he will bring grief and death in his house and village, in
his land and people! No, grip your sword and cut them down!"-Yasna, 31, 18.
Such a relentless attitude of fight reminds us of the Old Testament spirit. The active heroic aspect of
this religion reflects the character of the people themselves, who later on spread their conquests far
and wide and built up great empires by the might of their sword. They accepted this world in all
seriousness. They had zest in life and confidence in their own strength. They belonged to the
western half of Asia, and their great influence travelled through the neighbouring civilisation of
India and towards the Western Continent. Their ideal was the ideal of the fighter. By the force of
their will and deed of sacrifice they were to conquer haurvatat, welfare in this world, and ameratat,
immortality in the other. This is the best ideal of the West, the great truth of fight. For Paradise has
to be gained through conquest. That sacred task is for the heroes, who are to take the right side in
the battle and the right weapons.
4Introduction
The Gathas of Zarathushtra
- K.D. Irani
WHAT ARE THE GATHAS?
The Gathas are the hymns composed by Zarathushtra, the Prophet or the founder of the religion of
ancient Iran, who lived around 1300 BCE. The verses are composed in the metrical forms of ancient
Indo-Iranian religious poetry. It is in a very condensed style of versification, in which standard
grammatical construction is more absent than present. In extent the Gathas constitute a small book
containing about 6000 words, in about 1300 lines set in 238 verses which are collected in 17
chapters, each called a Haiti, or in the more usual later term, HA. The 17 Ha's of the Gathas were,
some time later, incorporated into a long prayer, or liturgy, recited at a ceremony. The Yasna
recitation has 72 chapters. The Ha's are identified by their numberings as chapters of the Yasna.
There are five major sections of the 17 Ha's of the Gathas listed here:
1. Ahunavaiti, consisting of Ha's 28-34 of the Yasna, containing 100 verses.
2. Ushtavaiti, consisting of Ha's 43-46 of the Yasna, containing 66 verses.
3. Spenta Mainyu, consisting of Ha's 47-50 of the Yasna, containing 41 verses.
4. Vohu Khshathra, consisting of Ha 5 1 of the Yasna, containing 22 verses.
5. Vahishto Ishti, consisting of Ha 53 of the Yasna, containing 9 verses.
The language of the Gathas is one belonging to the old Indo-Iranian group which was part of the
Eastern families of the Indo-European languages. This language is called Gathic, and because it is
incorporated into the Yasna scripture which is part of the Avesta, it is also called Old Avestan.
Much of our grasp of the Gathic language, both in vocabulary and grammar comes from its close
affinity with the early form of Vedic Sanskrit.
THE CONTENT OF THE GATHAS.
The verses of the Gathas are addressed to the Divinity, Ahura Mazda, and also to the public that has
come to hear the Prophet. Specific aspects of his theology appear in every Ha, but we do not have a
systematic presentation of the doctrine in any one location. Zarathushtra expounds aspects of his
teachings in many different places in the Gathas. In others, he exhorts his audience to live a life as
Ahura Mazda has directed. From these frequent passages we can reconstruct the theology with
reasonable accuracy. Then there are some verses, devotional in character, addressed to Ahura
Mazda, to the divine essences of Truth, the Good-Mind, and the Spirit of Piety and Benevolence.
There are also verses which refer to episodes and crises in the mission of the Prophet. But the
theology is interwoven in every Ha.
5THE THEOLOGY OF THE GATHAS.
It is important, as a preliminary consideration, to note that the type of religion preached by
Zarathushtra is what may be called reflective religion. It is a fusion of a View of the World and a
Way of Life offered to the prospective believer to be adopted upon due reflection as worthy of
acceptance. A believer is one who chooses to encounter the world as the religious view declares it to
he, and importantly, commits himself or herself In the Way of Life presented therein.
What then is the religious view of Zarathushtra in the Gathas? Zarathushtra conceives of the world
we live in as a theater of conflict between two diametrically opposed moral spirits (mainyus), they
stand for mental attitudes in the psychological domain, and also opposing moral vectors in all of
creation. They are the Spirit of Goodness (Spenta Mainyu), and the Spirit of Evil (Angre Mainyu,
not so named in the Gathas, but in the later literature). Their characters are defined in relation to the
pivotal concept of Zarathushtra's theology, Asha, usually translated as Truth. Truth, in this context
means the Ultimate Truth, that is, the Ideal form of existence of the world as envisioned by Ahura
Mazda. The form the world would have had but for the Spirit of Evil, and hence the form the world
ought to have. Acting in accordance with Truth is the right thing to do, hence Asha is also translated
as Righteousness. Indeed, since Zarathushtra's theology is always projected with a moral dimension,
Asha always carries the joint meaning of Truth and Righteousness.
Thus we comprehend the world as an intrinsically good, divine creation, contaminated by evil, but
capable of being perfected by the actions of humans by reason of their capacity of moral choice.
Human action can promote good and reject evil leading to its ultimate banishment from the world,
though it may continue to exist as a conceptual possibility.
From this follows the Way of Life in Zarathushtra's theology. According to it, each human being
possesses, perhaps cultivated to different degrees, the quality of the Good-Mind, Vohu-Mana, in
itself a divine creation. The Good-Mind enables us to grasp Asha, the Ideal Truth; it also enables us
to see any aspect of the world and recognize it for what it is, i.e. the way and the extent to which it is
flawed. This is grasped by seeing reality and realizing how it deviates from its ideal state, i.e. Asha.
This form of moral awareness is what is termed good-thought. From this good-thought one is
inspired to do the right thing, to right the wrong, to perfect the state of imperfection. When the
appropriate course of action is formulated and articulated it is called good word.
The inspiration that leads to action is Spenta Armaity, translated in the religious context as Piety or
Devotion, and in the moral context as Benevolence or Right-Mindedness. This spirit is another
aspect of Divinity, it inclines us to move from right conceptions to right actions. We thereby, with
courage and confidence put our well-thought-out and well-formulated intentions into actions. This
is called good-deed. Here we can crystallize the oft-repeated trilogy of Zoroastrianism: Goodthoughts, Good-words, and Good-deeds.
The consequence of actions according to this way of life is that, being in accord with Asha, it brings
the world toward perfection in any way and to whatever extent it may be. In the social world we
bring about a change toward a worthy social order. And as the social order is transformed to an ideal
form we achieve the ideal dominion in which the right-minded person is happy and contented. This
ideal social state is referred to by the Gathic term Khshathra Vairya, another divine aspect.
The individual who lives in accordance with this way of life reaches a state of well-being, a state of
psychic and spiritual integrity which one might plausibly characterize as perfection in this earthly
state. This state is referred to by the Gathic term Haurvatat. A person who has lived such a life
comes, upon death, to a state of immortal bliss, known by the Gathic term, Ameretat.
6

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