Valentine's Day is a day to honor love and
friendship. This article is a call for reflection on the truthful meaning
of friendship. My friend, Larry Grant, deeply touched my heart with the
"Any friend of
Zarathushtra is a friend of ours"
The meaning of friendship has been defined
by David Isaacs (1981) in his book "The Education of Human Virtues," as "To
have with some people, previously met through common interests in the
professional or free-time field, diverse and periodical exchanges caused by
a mutual sympathy, being both interested in each other and in their well
The discipline that studies values is
called axiology and it takes into consideration this ethical value because
it is one of the best foundations for human relations at individual and
social levels. Usually friendship is connected with other values such as
peace, understanding, love, respect, trust, admiration, obedience,
communication, honesty, sincerity and tolerance. However, a deviated concept
of friendship may lead to wrong actions.
In this article I am going to analyze,
Zarathushtra’s view regarding the concept of friendship from a gathic
perspective. In this sense, Zarathushtra had in his life, space for Ahura
Mazda, his family, his friends and the living world in general. So let us
study the nature of these relationships.
Friendship with Ahura
It seems that between Zarathushtra and
Ahura Mazda there was a clear and respectful friendship. As a matter of
fact, he addressed God as a friend in the Gathas during various occasions.
This is the type of relationship that Zarathushtra tries to teach us, but
this friendship, according to Zarathushtra, presents some conditions. In one
of the gathic stanzas the prophet describes his friendship in the following
"The Wise God is an ally
through good mind and a good friend through righteousness."
This statement means that any person, who
wishes to be God’s friend, has to first cultivate a Good Mind and live a
righteous life. Thus, these conditions must be met. Vohumana and Asha are
the main pillars to build a friendly relationship with the divine. It
appears to be the only way.
If what was stated above is not enough
evidence, there is another stanza that supports my affirmation that Good
Mind and Righteousness are important qualities to possess, to become a
friend of God:
"This I ask You, tell me
truly, Lord. How shall I reverently pay You Your
homage? Teach this to me
like a friend, Wise One. Let us all be given, through loving righteousness,
help so that it comes to us through good mind."
The Rewards of a Divine Friendship
Zarathushtra treats Ahura Mazda as a friend
who shows love, respect, admiration and bestows praises. In this unique
friendship, Zarathushtra expressed his feelings of love towards the Wise One
"With love, I pray to You,
the Best Lord, who is in harmony with the best
It is also interesting to perceive
Zarathushtra’s respect for Ahura Mazda when he said:
"Lord, may we not anger
you. We consider you the mighty master of promotion, to be most worthy of
invocation." (Song 1.9)
As we can see, Zarathushtra’s feelings for
Ahura Mazda can be described by a special kind of friendship. In this
wonderful relationship, Zarathushtra is willing to dedicate his life to his
friend in order to spread his message. (See song 2.8)
The feelings of Zarathushtra are clear from
a Gathic perspective, but what about the feelings of Ahura Mazda?
Ahura Mazda is the Creator of the Living
World (Song 4.9) and He puts life in the physical frame (Song 4.11). What
can He ask for from a world He created? Certainly He is not asking us to be
slaves or to follow blindly what is written in the Gathas.
‘He gave deeds and words,
so that one makes his choice through free will."
However, God has designed universal laws
that result in repeated failures for the wrong doers and strength for the
"God through Vohu-Khshathra
established these universal principles."
In this scenario, we could infer from the
gathic information that when the
principles established by Ahura Mazda are
respected; He will be so satisfied and pleased, that with all His power, he
will be willing and committed to provide valuable rewards to his friends.
God offers, amongst others, a very precious
"God Wise grants wholeness,
immortality, abundance of righteousness,
independence in dominion,
and a lasting good mind to him, who is His friend in mind and action."
Friends in Mutual Help
The friendly relationship between
Zarathushtra and Ahura Mazda is mutual. How can Zarathushtra as a simple
human being help a powerful creator? Well, it is hard to believe, but Ahura
Mazda asked for help because He was worried about the rehabilitation of the
world which was oppressed by fury, rapine, outrage, and aggression (Song
2.1). In this sense, He asked three times for a volunteer to be the leader
of the world and proclaim His message:
"Then the Creator of the
Living World asked Righteousness: Who is Your leader of the World, who can
offer her civilization, nourishment, and strength? Whom do you wish to be
her lord; one who shall repel the fury of the wrongful?"
Wise God, the Knowing, spoke in a loving form: So you do not know any lord
or leader who acts in righteousness. But, were you not fashioned by the
Creator to look after the promoter as well as the settler?"
(3) The Wise God, of one accord with
Righteousness, prepared His
thought-provoking message in response to
the sweet plea made by the World, because with His doctrine, He is the
promoter for those who wish to be protected. He asked,
“Good Mind, do you know any
person who can help the mortals?"
At this point of Ahura Mazda’s search for
help, a proposal was made by Good Mind:
"There is only one person
who has listened to our teachings. He is Zarathushtra Spitama. Wise One, he
is prepared to proclaim the message through his Songs for the sake of
Righteousness. Grant him the sweetness of speech."
(Song 2. 8)
And to the three calls and the proposal of
Good Mind, Zarathushtra made his choice by free will, he did not hesitate to
offer his help and he finally responded:
"Now I shall speak to those
who wish to hear of the two principles, which are of importance even to the
wise. I shall also, with reverence for good mind and the good consideration
of righteousness, have praises for the Lord, so that you may see brilliant
happiness." (Song 3.1)
In the Gathas, it seems that the Good Mind
and Ahura Mazda agreed about the virtues of Zarathushtra, and decided that
he was prepared for the mission:
"I also, Wise One,
recognize him as Your foremost discovery."
We have seen how Zarathushtra is capable of
helping a powerful God. But, on the other hand, Zarathushtra had to face
many problems and obstacles to accomplish his goals regarding the
proclamation of the divine message. At this point Zarathushtra asked for
Ahura Mazda’s help:
"Just as a wise and
powerful man helps his friend, Wise One, give me Your
ensuing from righteousness through Your dominion. I shall, then, motivate
and lead those loyal to the teachings and all those who remember Your
In his early missionary days, Zarathushtra
suffered persecution. In this phase of his life he was weak and there were
few people to help him. His mission was opposed by the priests of the old
cult and by the princes. They had their vested interests at stake. They were
very strong and Zarathushtra was not in a position to challenge them. The
opposition grew to such an extent, that his relatives and friends could not
meet him. Even men of influence were not allowed to help him. The following
stanza indicates Zarathushtra’s desperation:
"To what land should I
turn? Where should I turn to go? They hold me back from my folks and
friends. Neither the community I follow pleases me, nor do the wrongful
rulers of the land. How can I please You, Wise God?"
Though he was left alone, he realized that
he had one friend left to help him and that was none other than Ahura Mazda.
He addressed Him pleading,
"I know, Wise One, that I
am powerless. I have few cattle and also a few men. I appeal to You.
Please, Lord, see to it. Lend me the help a friend gives a friend. Grant,
through righteousness, the riches of good mind.”
According to the studies presented by Dr.
Jafarey (1989), Zarathushtra after asking for help, received divine
inspiration and decided to leave his home behind and face the greatest risk
of his life by visiting the chief poet prince of the region, somebody that
would become one of his greatest friends and chief patron in spreading the
message. This was Kavi Vishtaspa, who became his righteous companion.
Zarathustra had a reflective mind and he
consulted God about the meaning of friendship and the importance of this
ethical value in society. During his reflections he wanted to determine the
elements that integrate a truthful friendship. He referred to Asha, Armaiti
and Serenity as important principles to be considered:
“Wise One, which person is
a friend of mine? Who, indeed, consults righteousness? With whom is the
progressive serenity? Who, indeed, considers himself rightful to belong to
good mind and to the Fellowship?”
(Song 16. 11)
Zarathushtra insisted in the importance of
Righteousness (Asha) in building a healthy friendship and he sincerely tell
us to cultivate friends through that
"This I ask You, tell me
truly, Lord. How shall one who from the very
beginning seeks the best
life, prosper? Indeed, such a person is through
righteousness, a great
promoter and a treasure for all. He is, Wise One, a
guardian, a mental
life-healer, and a friend."
Other important characteristics that
Zarathushtra demanded from friends were that they should respect the laws,
be willing to help the community and participate in making a better society.
"And Wise One, let one
listen to it through good mind. Let one listen to it
through righteousness. You
too hear it, Lord. Which friend, which relative
abides by laws, and
provides a good guidance to the community?"
In the following stanza Zarathushtra
stressed again the importance of Righteousness in choosing his friends, but
he also requested that his friends should teach and spread the message:
"Wise One, I, Zarathushtra,
am through righteousness, his friend who carries this thought-provoking
message. May the Creator of Intelligence fix the course of his tongue so
that he teaches my doctrine through the good mind?"
(Song 15. 6)
Zarathushtra promised protection to his
friends from wrongful people, and he sincerely meant it.
“Wise Lord, I am powerful
enough to meet the two-fold threats, and restrain the crime of the wrongful
directed against friends."
Zarathushtra carried out a mission to
pursue the rehabilitation of the wrong. In this process he rejected fury and
violence and he said that fanatic leaders and wicked leaders who indulge in
intoxicating rituals must be abandoned. Regarding this situation
Zarathushtra mentioned that
"the person who denies
false gods and their men is a friend."
And in addition to that, he clearly said,
“The mumbling priests are
not friends. They are sufficiently far from laws and from the settlement.
They take delight in injuring the world with their deeds and teachings, a
doctrine that ultimately places them in the house of wrong."
(Song 16. 14)
Zarathushtra referred to his friends as
companions and for him the fellowship was a group of people united by a
friendship of universal principles and love for Ahura Mazda. Friends and
companions on the path to radiant happiness:
"Wise God, I approach You
through good mind. Grant me through righteousness the blessings of both
existences, the material and the mental, so that I lead my companions to
happiness." (Song 1. 2)
The concept of friendship for Zarathushtra,
according to what has been
discussed here, should be closely related
to that of righteous companionship. It means that Righteousness is one of
the main pillars of friendship:
"Who is my, Zarathushtra's,
righteous companion? Who wishes fame for the Great Fellowship? He, on this
great event of initiation, is Kavi Vishtaspa. I shall invoke, with words of
good mind, those whom You, Wise God, have established in Your abode."
(Song 11. 14.)
Ferashaoshtra Hvagva was another friend of
Zarathushtra. He was a great sage, who with his brother Jamaspa, joined
Zarathushtra in his divine mission. On one occasion Zarathushtra spoke about
his friends and himself with a lot of emotion in his words:
"And now, let Kavi
Vishtaspa, the Zarathushtrian Spitama, and Ferashaoshtra pursue, with mind,
words, and deeds, the knowledge for the praise and for the choice of
venerations of the Wise One, in order to establish in straight paths the
conscience which God has granted to the benefactor."
The Gathas presented an interesting
conversation between Zarathushtra and his friend Ferashaoshtra Hvagva, in
which the prophet showed his concern and said:
"Ferashaoshtra Hvagva, go
with your companions where, as we both wish, radiant happiness pervades,
where serenity accompanies righteousness, where the rule of good mind
prevails, where the Wise God dwells in progress."
Something that has called my attention is
the special way in which Zarathushtra addressed and defined the opponents of
the Gathic Doctrine. He called them "not friends" (Song 16.14). He used the
word "enemy" just once (Song 7.4).
And it seems that for him "not friends"
were the wrongful people that have to be rehabilitated with the
I do not think that from a gathic point of
view there are enemies; instead there are potential friends who need to be
rehabilitated. Thus, if we see the opponents of the universal principles as
enemies, it would mean that they do not stand a chance to take the path of
But everybody has a chance because God is
progressive and Zarathushtra with his bright mind realized the real value of
Wise One, the dominion will be realized for them through Good Mind. God,
then they shall be taught how to deliver the wrong into the hands of
righteousness." (Song 3.8)
Finally, good thoughts, good words and good
actions are important elements to interact with our friends. Sometimes
silence is better than using strong and offensive words in confrontation.
There is a better chance to win our arguments when gentle words are used.
Let us remember the Gathas:
"Grant him the sweetness of
speech." (Song 2.8) Zarathushtra
proposed the conformation of a society of friends because friendship built
on the three pillars of Asha, Good Mind and Armaiti can make us one with God
"Any friend of
Zarathushtra is a friend of ours."