Wisdom of Ages
A noble son...
The verses of Yasna 46 give us memories of the Prophet referring to the
period of his first proclamation of the message of Ahura Mazda, the early
difficulties, and the acceptance of the faith by King Vishtaspa and his
court. This early period was undoubtedly the most critical time in the life
of the Prophet. Though some of the verses refer to various episodes, the
central inspiration of this Ha (Yasna) is the holiness of a powerful
religious vision accompanied, by the conviction of its final establishment.
The Ha opens with a recollection of Zarathushtra's difficulties. Not on been
unsuccessful at the time, he is being deserted and rejected. He asks the
Lord for guidance, continuing to announce with confidence the Divine
teachings. The high point of this confidence, in the midst of diversity,
comes in verse 10. Verses 10 and 11 form a pair, 10 dealing with the life of
the good, and 11 dealing with that of the evil. The rest of the Ha, that is,
the last half, recalls some aspects of the success of his mission; the
acceptance of his teachings not only by an Iranian prince and his people,
but also by some Turanians, the tribe of Fryana, a Turanian leader.
The Ha opens with two verses expressing the anguish at his troubles in
spreading the teachings. As we know, the Prophet was a religious innovator.
In his time the religion prevailing among the Iranian tribes was essentially
ritualistic magic performed through the presumed aid of a multitude of
divinities. These beliefs and practices he replaced by what is called
religion of the good life, a life led in accordance with Truth, capable of
being grasped by the Good Mind; two aspects of the one Divinity. It causes
no surprise that this major intellectual and institutional revolution he
preached energetically and with high poetic articulation generated a
doctrinal and personal rejection from the people in the establishment
entrenched in mindless ritualistic traditionalism; a very common religious
situation at all times and places. The Prophet is heard, but is forced out
of his homeland. He leaves, abandoned and perplexed but with his life
intact. Here are verses 1 and 2, note the poignancy of feeling, but also the
firmness of faith.
(Y 46 1)
To what land shall I turn, and wither turning shall I go?
For my kinsmen and my peers have deserted me.
Not the people, nor their wicked rulers favor me.
How shall I satisfy Thee, O Mazda Ahura?
I know, Mazda, why I am a man foiled in his wish.
I have but only a few with me, and scantier still are
my means for their support.
Behold, my Lord, I address my appeal to Thee,
Grant me Thy gracious help, as a friend might give to a friend.
Grant me, through Truth, the acquisition of the riches o f the Good Mind
During these wanderings
following upon his banishment, the prophet reflects on the human condition,
and addresses to Mazda his anticipation for the establishment of the faith,
the full implications of which he articulates later. This is in verse 3.
When, O Mazda, shall the day dawn for
establishing the cause of truth?
When shall the wise spiritual guides spread effectively
thy sublime teachings?
To whose help will come the wisdom of Good-Mind?
For me indeed, who has chosen Thee as my instructor , O Lord.
At this time the prophet
reflects upon those evil ones who have repudiated him and having rejected
his teachings cling to the rule of deceit and oppression. Zarathushtra
hopes for their removal, thus he says:
The evil-doer holds hack the prosperity of the
followers of Truth,
Infamous is he, dangerous in his deeds!
Whoso drives him from the kingdom, removes him
from peoples' lives,
Shall go forth preparing the way for the ideal life.
reflections now turn on the conduct expected of the good and of the evil,
which find expression in verse 6.
But he who will not help transform Evil
Shall be with those in the abode of the Lie,
For he who looks upon evil with tolerance is no other than evil.
And indeed righteous is he who supports the righteous.
These are Thy principles since the dawn of creation, O Ahura.
The next verse, 7, is
well known to all Zoroastrians. It is the first verse of the Kusti prayer.
It opens with the words “Kemna Mazda.” The prophet, in his times of
difficulty and rejection, asks where he might find protection, but his faith
and insight enable him to answer the question himself.
When evil marks me as the object of its assault,
Who shall be the protector of one like me,
Who, but Thy Sacred Fire and Thy Thought,
Verily through their powerful force shall Truth and
Righteousness come into their own.
O Ahura, bring this to full realization!
If you reflect on the full meaning of
this prayer, you come to see that like the Prophet himself we all become
objects of assault, sometime in our lives. And we already have the means of
protection -His Sacred Fire and His Thought. The Divine Sacred Fire is a
spiritual concept, it is the spiritual energy which sustains the good
creation; its physical manifestation in the ritual fire, in the temple or in
the home, before which one may focus one’s thinking to grasp the Divine
Thought, that is the religion of Ahura Mazda. Living in this way we
progressively bring about the rule of Truth and Righteousness.
In the next two verses the Prophet
expresses his expectation of what shall be for the evil person and his
anticipation for those who will follow his teachings.
Should one be intent upon bringing harm to that which is ours,
May not the flames of his devastation reach us!
But back upon him, let the harm recoil.
The evil of his actions shall keep him far from the Good Life,
But not from ill. O Mazda!'
Where is the faithful one who heeds me as the first to teach
That verily Thou art the Highest to invoke.
In very deed, the Bountiful Providence, The Holy Lord!
Who will hear, through the Good Mind
What Truth made known to me,
The Truth revealed by the Creator Supreme!
Not only is this a hope for a believer, it is also the expression of the
Prophet's vision of Ahura Mazda who is the highest to invoke and
approachable through His Truth which can be grasped by the Good Mind.
The same theme of those who are the good and the evil is continued in the
next verses, with the addition that now Zarathushtra tell us of the final
end of such persons.
Whoever, man or woman, does what Thou, O Mazda Ahura,
knowest to be the best in Life.
Whoever does right for the sake of Right;
Whoever in authority governs with the aid of the Good Mind,
I shall bring all these to join in songs of Thy Praise,
Forth, shall I with them cross the Bridge of Judgment.
The Bridge of Judgment is the standard
metaphor in Zoroastrianism for the passing, upon death, from this existence
to the next. The good pass over it into the Abode of Songs, a State of best
consciousness, these being the two terms Zarathushtra employs for what we
commonly call Heaven. The evil, however, fall by the side and reside in the
foul darkness of the House of the Lie; this is Zarathushtrars theology, both
these states, though of long duration, are not eternal, for at the end of
time all creation shall be renovated and everything in existence brought to
a state of perfection.
But let us return to the other verse,
where Zarathushtra talks of the evil and even identifies some of the groups
which comprise them.
The Karpans (ritual priests) and the Kavis (tribal princes)
have tyrannized over humanity.
Their evil actions are destructive of Life.
Verily, the conscience of such a one shall torment his soul.
And when they shall come to the Bridge of Judgment,
Their abode, for long ages, shall be in the House of the Lie.
From this point on the
theme of the Ha becomes more sanguine. The Prophet acquires disciples and
warmly anticipates more, which gives him hope of social regeneration
As he expects the
descendents of a leader of the Turanian tribe, Fryana, to accept his
teachings, he expresses his enthusiasm in a verse having a happy poetic
When among the kinsmen and descendants of the renowned
Turanian, Fryana, Right arises,
When through the spiritual zeal of Armaity, they further the
welfare of the land,
Then shall Ahura Mazda bring them the illumination of
the Good Mind,
And show them the path of Regeneration
The Prophet now speaks of
the kind of follower he is seeking, and
indeed expects to find. This is in verse 13. The next verse declares that he
has a royal follower King Vishtasp. And then with rising confidence in the
next verse, he addresses the Spitamans, his own clan, who now seem to be
ready to heed their own Prophet. Here are those three verses.
He who shall please Spitaman Zarathushtra, by his noble actions,
He indeed is worthy himself to proclaim the doctrines of Thy
Faith, O Lord
Him shall Ahura Mazda bless with Good Life,
He shall flourish through the Good Mind.
Verily, he is a faithful friend of Thine, O Truth!
"0 Zarathushtra, what
man is thy faithful friend for the
consummation of the Great Cause
Who wishes to have Thy mission announced?”'
Verily, he is King Vishtaspa!
Those whom Thou shalt gather in Thy Abode, O Mazda Ahura,
Those shall I address with words of the Good Mind,
O ye Spitamans, descendants of Haechataspa
I declare to you:
With wisdom distinguish well between Right and Wrong:
Let your deeds advance the Right,
In conformity with the primeval laws of The Lord
There follow two verses in which Zarathushtra instructs with praise
Frashaoshtra and Jamaspa, two nobles of King Vishtasp’s court. And in the
same view the last two verses of the Ha manifest a spirit of satisfaction;
where confidence in the acceptance of teachings is reinforced with the
likely outcome for the followers of the faith and those who reject it
He who is with me in our highest aspiration,
On him shall I bestow, through the Good Mind, the best in my power;
But torment shall be upon him who to us is a tormenting oppressor.
O Lord Mazda, and O Spirit of Truth, striving thus to accomplish your wish,
Is the decision of my understanding.
And thus do I will.
He, who following Truth, shall work for me, Zarathushtra,
To bring us toward the Great Renovation in accordance
with Thy purpose,
For him shall be all honor and content in this world
And a fitting state in the life beyond.
As verily, Thou hast revealed to me, O All knowing Mazda
The Prophet expects his followers, acting in accordance with Truth, to bring
the world toward the great renovation. They shall have a worthy existence in
this life, and a fitting state hereafter.
Thus with hope and a sense of fulfillment ends Zarathushtra’s reflection on
his mission. For what he confidently expects reformed humanity to achieve
is the total renovation of existence in accordance with the purpose of Ahura