As a student of the Zarathushtrian Religion at first, and as a practicing
Zarathushti later, I have always read and been told of the numerous and often
literal similarities between Mazdayasna in general, that is both the Gathas and
the latter writings and teachings, and all the major so called World Faiths
or Religions. I am sure that all Zarathushtis are at least somewhat
familiar with these assertions, which, of course, happen to be true; perhaps
even beyond our wildest imaginings.
I was very astonished as a Christian to realize the extent of the debt that
Christianity owes to our great Zarathushtra. The discovery of these facts
started a long spiritual trek for me and, I dare to say, for many others
that has brought us to full appreciation of, and conviction in, the Glorious
if these similarities, with which most of us are so familiar, started our
spiritual treks or simply reinforced our faith, it was another thing that
convinced me personally, and made me truly appreciate and believe in,
Zarathushtra's Good Vision. And that was the timelessness, the agelessness and
uniqueness of Asho Zarathushtra's message as preserved in his Gathas.
have said that Zarathushtra's date, is not important and in a sense they are
right. The message and not the date is the main thing with any doctrine. But in
another sense, when we realize the antiquity of the man, we also become all
the more impressed with his message.
is a man, for no god or Son of God is he, living, according to our best and most
recent estimates, between 3500 and 4800 years ago. He was living in an isolated
region of the world, thousands of miles from the main centers of civilization of
his age. A man belonging to a culture barely out of the Stone Age. Yet this
man had a vision. A vision of a GOD who was so great, that He/She had to be
perceived through His or Her aspects or essences. A vision of a GOD who is a
life force in constant creation, the source of all good, beneficence,
righteousness and truth; who rules Creation through Asha. The order of physical and
ethical laws, which uphold and promote the evolution of Creation towards
its completeness, self-realization and fulfillment.
names this GOD Ahura Mazda. Lord Wisdom. But digging a little deeper into this
name or definition of GOD we start to encounter the uniqueness of Zarathushtra's
message. For Zarathushtra gave GOD a compound name. Ahura meaning,
according to some scholars Existing or Self-Existing One, and to others
Being or The Being. And Mazda, meaning Wisdom (according to the scholars, from
Sanskrit). And the interesting and unique thing about this name is that
Ahura is masculine and Mazda is feminine.
Zarathushtra is telling us with the name of his GOD, that GOD is the Self
Existent One or the Being, actually the Good Being or Existent One, if we break
the work Ahu into its roots, and he is telling us that GOD is Wisdom. But he's
also telling us that GOD is sexless and values both the masculine and the
feminine aspects of HIS/HER creation.
equal value to gender is seen all through the Gathas and even in some of
the younger Avesta. For instance when referring to mankind Zarathushtra's most
chosen word is maretan and its derivatives meaning mortal or mortals, which of
course encompasses both sexes.
is more, to this in the Gathas, for Zarathushtra addresses men and women in a
way that clearly implies that neither he, nor Ahura Mazda makes distinctions
on the basis of sex. As a matter of fact the only distinctions made in the
Gathas are distinctions as to beneficence, truth and righteousness.
in the very last Gatha, Zarathushtra relates the wedding of his daughter.
In Song 17.3 Zarathushtra addresses his daughter as follows "Pouruchista...youngest
daughter of Zarathushtra: May HE grant you him who is steadfast in
good mind, and united with righteousness and with the Wise One..." (All
quotes are from Dr. Ali A. Jafarey’s translation)
that is not Zarathushtra who is granting, nor giving, nor arranging for
Pouruchista's husband. Rather Zarathushtra is asking Ahura Mazda to grant his
daughter a righteous person of good mind who is united to Ahura Mazda. This
is 4000 or so years ago, folks. No arranged marriage here! How modern can
this be? Well it only gets better.
17.4 "She replies Him shall I emulate and choose...As a righteous woman
among the righteous people, mine be the glorious union of good mind....".
Confirming her free and equal status as a righteous woman Pouruchista freely
chooses her husband with good mind (good thinking)!
on Zarathushtra later addresses other brides and bridegrooms - it must have
been an occasion of multiple weddings - and states thusly in Song 17 .5 "...Master
the life that belongs to good mind. May you each win the other through
an advice! What a marvelous admonition: lean on a beneficent mind that thinks
good; master this type of life, the beneficent life of good thinking, and
strive to continually win each other’s love and companionship, through Asha,
that is through beneficence, righteousness and truth. What a concept!
domination of the male here, no considering the woman as a chattel, a property,
impure or an inferior. This is nothing but a gospel of gender equality.
But in spite of the timelessness and progressiveness of Zarathushtra's view
of the genders; this is not all that is unique about his message.
many-layered nature of Zarathushtra's message does not by itself make it unique.
But when it is all fit together like a beautiful mosaic, it amazes you with its
capacity to be at the same time simple and complex, logical and mystical. And
also, because of its flexibility. I say flexibility, for the Gathic message can
be understood, and grasped both by the learned and the simple with equal
ease, because it speaks to each in his or her own level.
can meditate and discourse on the merits, functions and effects of Asha, for
example, for days on end with the most intellectual scholar, or you can
talk to a youngster about Good thoughts, Good words and Good deeds for a few
minutes and both will understand the core of the message perfectly each at his
can be extremely intellectual and complex yet easily reduced to simple and
essential truths. But even in this, is not unique among world religions. But
there's more still to Zarathushtra's unique message.
the area of equality, it was not only in gender that Zarathushtra was ahead of
his time and indeed ahead of our time. For in an age where being of another
race or nationality usually carried with it the connotation than the
stranger was somehow weird and less than human, an outsider, a gentile dog in
Jewish terms for example; Zarathushtra extended equality even to his racial
and national enemies.
let Zarathushtra tell it himself. "Since through righteousness,
the powerful children and grandchildren of the Turanian Fryana have risen to
promote their world through serenity with zeal, Wise God has united
them with good mind, in order to teach them what concerns their help."
in one swift stroke, Zarathushtra deals the deathblow to ethnic hatred, racism
and the idea of a tribal, national or racial GOD. For the Turanians were
the sworn blood enemies of Zarathushtra's people; yet they received the message
and had "...risen to promote their world..." This of course
could only mean, that Zarathushtra or one of his companions had proclaimed
the message to them in spite of the fact that they were their blood enemies!
And furthermore, Zarathushtra tells us that, none other than Ahura
Mazda has "...united them with good mind..."
furnishes us with absolute proof that
the Gathic and Ahuric message preached by the man from central
Asia, was the first truly universal gospel. One utterly devoid of the
hatefulness and narrow mindedness of racism, ethnocentrism, tribalism and
message we citizens of today's
world will do well to take to heart, for it is still vibrantly alive and
current today 4000 years later. It is in the light of statements such as
these, that the true nature of Zarathushtra’s message, the Good Vision,
should be examined and judged.
Ahunavaiti or “choice of the Lord” prayer, is identified as
the most important Zarathushtian prayer by the later literature. In
it we read; "Both the Lord and the leader are to be chosen because of their
righteousness..." Zarathushtra continues to amaze us with the originality
and uniqueness of his message. To wit, he is the only founder of a religion who
asserts that the Lord, i.e. God is to be chosen.
at first might confuse us; Is Zarathushtra saying that we have different gods to
choose from? No, for in the context of the Gathas it is clear that what
Zarathushtra is saying that our Vision of GOD is to be based in righteousness,
but not only in righteousness however, for the word in the original is Asha, and
as we have discussed elsewhere it connotes
beneficence, truth, what is right and what ought to be. Most importantly,
he is saying that, any Vision of GOD that does not reveal a righteous,
beneficent GOD is not a true Vision of GOD.
in fact what the Ahunavar is saying; is that GOD has to have certain
characteristics for HIM/HER to be really GOD, and that foremost among those is
Asha, i.e. beneficence, righteousness and truth. And that a god that does not
possess these is no true GOD. But the Ahunavar does not stop; there it
goes on to say that the leader is also to be chosen because of his or her
righteousness. Our leaders, both spiritual and secular are to have one foremost
qualification, again Asha, expressed as righteousness, truth and beneficence or
what we find in this, the “Choice of the Lord” Prayer, is nothing short of a
truly revolutionary doctrine. It is a manifesto for Spiritual and Political
Democracy. And one composed at the very dawn of history! This short prayer
sets up the basis for such 'modern' ideas as, freedom of religion, separation of
church and state and a representative democracy, in which even the right to
recall is implicit.
again we can perceive, in the Ahunavar, the seminal role of Zarathushtra in
western thought. This is indeed another, of his great achievements as a
thinker and as an inspired guide or teacher. But there is even more uniqueness
to be found in Zarathushtra's message. All these are great achievements and
advances in human thought. The equality of the sexes, races and nationalities,
the concepts of freedom of thought, assembly, recall, belief, indeed the very
nature of democracy; all find expression in this wonderful revelation of
Ahura Mazda by Zarathushtra in the Gathas.
the relevance of the Gathic message for today does not end there. In a time
when environmental concerns were probably the very least of mankind's worries,
Zarathushtra and his followers preached a message calling for the
preservation and promotion of all of Ahura Mazda's creation, making
renovation and healing of the world the utmost aspiration of the righteous
Zarathushtian. Water and earth are to be preserved pure and clean. Pollution is
to be avoided, and personal and community hygiene must be emphasized.
fact remains that four millennia ago, a simple man of the central
Asian steppes had a vision of GOD. But not just any vision, a vision so
clear so modern, so earth shakingly powerful, that it transformed a simple semi-nomadic
people into the first world empire. An empire extending from Western China
this was not all this message achieved. It survived through cataclysms and
calamities that destroyed all traces of the Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian,
Sumerian, Canaanite and many other religions of antiquity. And today, it is
still reaching us with even more moral and spiritual force than it reached
those simple people 4000 years ago. For this message is so current and
relevant today; that I cannot help but imagining myself turning the television
on and seeing the man from central Asia himself, speaking and preaching to us
this, his ever modern message.
yet having enumerated all these great and eternal qualities, of Zarathustra
inspired and inspiring Good Vision; I have still failed to communicate
to you, the full import of its uniqueness. For it is my contention that
there's a lot more uniqueness to Zarathushtra’s message than those
qualities I have touched on so far.
am a man possessed by an idea, an idea that did not originate with me. No I
am possessed of Zarathushtra's 4000-year-old idea. An idea of a world ruled
by beneficence, righteousness, truth and good thinking. A world under the
good rule, in which, righteousness, truth and beneficence are not just words. A
world in which these transcendental principles are alive in every day life.
a possessed man, I find myself actually looking around for people who are
into seeking spiritual truth. What I have found during these spiritual
journeys, that I engage in; is what has brought me to a fuller
appreciation of the uniqueness of Zarathushtra's message. For it does
indeed strike a chord deep in humanity’s soul.
is something more, something deeper, something that can only be appreciated,
when one attempts to communicate this truly liberating message of the Gathas, outside
of our immediate and familiar comfort zones. When we take this truly thought
provoking and inspiring message out of the close Zarathushti circles, and into
the market place of ideas; something truly amazing, inspiring and beautiful
more you present Zarathushtra's message to people, the more you realize a truly
amazing fact. Complete strangers, from totally divergent cultures, races,
nationalities and backgrounds; not only grasp the essential concepts of the
message right away, but they have already meditated and pondered along the same
lines and reached very similar often identical conclusions.
is an eerie feeling, you are talking to a complete stranger, one who had never
heard of Zarathushtra in his or her life; and all of a sudden he or she tells
you " That is exactly what I think, or believe" or "Yes, I
have always thought something like that". It never ends, the more
you talk to these people, and I do not mean everyone, but a sizeable portion,
the more you find they are in basic agreement with what Zarathushtra taught 4000
years ago, or they believe something that can be supported easily from a certain minor
interpretation of Gathic teaching.
never ceases to amaze me, how this people were able to reach Gathic like ideas
without having ever heard from Zarathushtra. And this has led me to a
conclusion that truly identifies this Zarathushtian message as a totally unique
message. I have come to believe that so many people espousing so many
similar beliefs and ideas all on their own, is not totally coincidental or
the result of common cultural threads.
have come to the conclusion, subjective and unscientific as it may be, that
there is something so logical, so in tune with the normal thinking and feeling
processes of mankind, in Zarathushtra's message; that it is almost like if, it
were the natural theology or religious doctrine of humanity. This might be
something for sociologists to study in the future. All I can say not being a
sociologist or psychologist, is that this experiences I have summarized here are
so common as to be classified as some sort of a Jungian archetype.
here we are. We have briefly done a bird's eye view study of Asho Zarathushtra's
message as it pertains to its uniqueness. I can safely state, that there's no
more unique message in all the religions of mankind. Its breath, actuality,
freshness and naturalness are non-pareil. It is reasonable, and spiritually
inspiring at the same time. It is, as in the words of our Initiation Prayers
"... Of all religions that have been or will be, the greatest, best and
sublimest. It is Divine and Zarathushtian."