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Avesta:Yasna 28-34

Ahunnavaiti Gatha

 

 

The Avesta is a collection of Zoroastrian sacred writings. The following selections, from a group of hymns known as the Gathas, are believed to be by Zarathustra (fl. ca. 1200 BC) himself. They describe some of the characteristics of Ahuru Mazda and of the Zoroastrian cosmology. 

YASNA 28.

With outspread hands in petition for that help, O Mazda, I will pray for the works of the holy spirit, O thou the Right, whereby I may please the will of Good Thought and the Ox-Soul.

I who would serve you, O Mazda Ahura and Vohu Mano, do ye give through Asha the blessings of both worlds, the bodily and that of the Spirit, which set the faithful in felicity.

I who would praise ye as never before, Right and Good Thought and Mazda Ahura, and those for whom Piety makes an imperishable Dominion to grow; come ye to me help at my call.

I who have set my heart on watching over the soul, in union with Good Thought, and as knowing the rewards of Mazda Ahura for our works, will, while I have power and strength, teach men to seek after Right.

O Asha, shall I see thee and Good Thought, as one that knows? (Shall I see) the throne of the mightiest Ahura and the following of Mazda? Through this word (of promise) on our tongue will we turn the robber horde unto the Greatest.

Come thou with Good Thought, give through Asha, O Mazda, as the gift to Zarathushtra, according to thy sure words, long enduring mighty help, and to us, O Ahura, whereby we may overcome the enmity of our foes.

Grant, O thou Asha, the reward, the blessing of Good Thought; O Piety, give our desire to Vishtaspa and to me; O thou Mazda and King, grant that your Prophet may command a hearing.

The best I ask of Thee, O Best, Ahura (Lord) of one will with the Best Asha, desiring (it) for the hero Frashaostra and for those (others) to whom thou wilt give (it), (the best gift) of Good Mind through all time.

With these bounties, O Ahura, may we never provoke your wrath, O Mazda and Right and Best Thought, we who have been eager in bringing you songs of praise. Ye are they that are the mightiest to advance desire and the Dominion of Blessings.

The wise whom thou knowest as worthy, for their right (doing) and their good thought, for them do thou fulfill their longing for attainment. For I know words of prayer are effective with Ye, which tend to a good object.

I would thereby preserve Right and Good Thought for evermore, that I may instruct, do thou teach me, O Mazda Ahura, from thy spirit by thy mouth how it will be with the First Life.

YASNA 29.

Unto you wailed the Ox-soul, "For whom did ye fashion me? Who created me? Violence and rapine (and) savagery hath oppressed me, and outrage and might. I have no other herdsman than you; prepare for me then the blessings of pasture."

Then the Ox-Creator asked of the Right: "Hast thou a judge for the Ox, that ye may be able to appoint him zealous tendance as well as fodder? Whom do ye will to be his lord, who may drive off violence together with the followers of the Lie?"

To him the Right replied: "There is for the Ox no helper that can keep him away. Those yonder have no knowledge how right-doers act towards the lowly".
(The Ox-Creator): "Strongest of beings is he to whose help I come at call".

(Asha) "Mazda knoweth best the purposes that have been wrought already by demons and by mortals, and that shall be wrought hereafter. He, Ahura, is the decider. So shall it be as he shall will."

(The Ox-Creator) "To Ahura with outspread hands we twain would pray, my soul and that of the pregnant cow, so that we twain urge Mazda with entreaties. Destruction is not for the right-living, nor for the cattle-tender at the hands of Liars."

Then spake Ahura Mazda himself, who knows the law with wisdom: "There is found no lord or judge according to the Right Order for the Creator hath formed thee for the cattle-tender and the farmer."

This ordinance about the fat hath Ahura Mazda, one in will with Right, created for cattle, and the milk for them that crave nourishment, by his command, the holy one.
(The Ox and Cow:) "Whom hast thou, O Good Thought, among men, who may care for us twain?"

(Vohu Manah:) He is known to me here who alone hath heard our commands, even Zarathushtra Spitama; he willeth to make known our thoughts, O Mazda, and those of the Right. So let us bestow on him charm of speech.

Then the Ox-Soul lamented: "That I must be content with the ineffectual word of an impotent man for my protector, when I wish for one that commands mightily! When ever shall there be one who shall give him (the Ox) effective help?"

(Zarathushtra:) Do ye, O Ahura, grant them strength, and O Asha, and O Good Thought, that dominion, whereby he (the Savior) could produce good dwellings and peace. I also have realized thee, Mazda, as the first to accomplish this.

"Where are Right and Good Thought and Dominion? So, ye men, acknowledge me, for instruction, Mazda, for the great society."

(The Ox and Cow:) "O Ahura, now is help ours, we will be ready to serve those that are of you."

YASNA 30.

Now I will proclaim to those who will hear the things that the understanding man should remember, for hymns unto Ahura and prayers to Good Thought; also the felicity that is with the heavenly lights, which through Right shall be beheld by him who wisely thinks.

Hear with your ears the best things; look upon them with clear-seeing thought, for decision between the two Beliefs, each man for himself before the Great consummation, bethinking you that it be accomplished to our pleasure.

Now the two primal Spirits, who reveal themselves in vision as Twins, are the Better and the Bad, in thought and word and action. And between these two the wise ones chose aright, the foolish not so.

And when these twain Spirits came together in the beginning, they created Life and Not-Life, and that at the last Worst Existence shall be to the followers of the Lie, but the Best Existence to him that follows Right.

Of these twain Spirits he that followed the Lie chose doing the worst things; the holiest Spirit chose Right, he that clothes him with the massy heavens as a garment. So likewise they that are fain to please Ahura Mazda by dutiful actions.

Between these twain the Daevas also chose not aright, for infatuation came upon them as they took counsel together, so that they chose the Worst Thought. Then they rushed together to Violence, that they might enfeeble the world of men.

And to him (i.e. mankind) came Dominion, and Good Mind, and Right and Piety gave continued life to their bodies and indestructibility, so that by thy retributions through (molten) metal he may gain the prize over the others.

So when there cometh their punishment for their sins, then, O Mazda, at Thy command shall Good Thought establish the Dominion in the Consummation, for those who deliver the Lie, O Ahura, into the hands of Right.

So may we be those that make this world advance, O Mazda and ye other Ahuras, come hither, vouchsafing (to us) admission into your company and Asha, in order that (our) thought may gather together while reason is still shaky.

Then truly on the (world of) Lie shall come the destruction of delight; but they who get themselves good name shall be partakers in the promised reward in the fair abode of Good Thought, of Mazda, and of Right.

If, O ye mortals, ye mark those commandments which Mazda hath ordained -- of happiness and pain, the long punishment for the follower of the Druj, and blessings for the followers of the Right -- then hereafter shall it be well.

YASNA 31.

Mindful of your commands, we proclaim words unpleasant for them to hear that after the commands of the Lie destroy the creatures of Right, but most welcome to those that give their heart to Mazda.

If by reason of these things the better path is not in sight for choosing, then will I come to you all as judge of the parties twain whom Ahura Mazda knoweth, that we may live according to the Right.

What award Thou givest through the (holy) Spirit and through the Fire and hast taught through Asha, to both the parties, and what the decision is for the wise, this do Thou tell us, Mazda, that we may know, even with the tongue of Thine own mouth, that I may convert all living men.

If Asha is to be invoked and Mazda and the other Ahuras and Ashi and Armaiti, do thou seek for me, O Vohu Manah [1], the mighty Dominion, by the increase of which we might vanquish the Lie.

[1. Boyce: "seek by the best purpose (vahishta manah)..." This is an excellent example of the continuous juxtaposition in the Gathas of the Amesha Spentas as divinities and things.]

Tell me therefore what ye, O thou Right, have appointed me as the better portion, for me to determine, to know and to keep in mind, O thou Good Thought -- which portion they envy me. Tell me of all these things. O Mazda Ahura, that shall not or shall be.

To him shall the best befall, who, as one that knows, speaks to me Right's truthful word of Welfare and of Immortality; even the Dominion of Mazda which Good Thought shall increase for him.

About which he in the beginning thus thought, "let the blessed realms be filled with Light", he it is that by his wisdom created Right. (Those realms) that the Best Thought shall possess those dost Thou exalt, O Mazda, through the Spirit, which, O Ahura, is ever the same.

I recognize Thee, O Mazda, in my thought, that Thou the First art (also) the Last -- that Thou art Father of Vohu Manah; -- when I apprehend Thee with mine eye, that Thou art the true Creator of Right [Asha], and art the Lord to judge the actions of life.

Thine was Armaiti, Thine the Ox-Creator, (namely) the Wisdom of the Spirit, O Mazda Ahura, because Thou didst give (the cattle) choice whether to depend on a husbandman or one who is no husbandman.

So she chose for herself out of the two the cattle-tending husbandman as her lord to guard the Right, the man that advances Good Thought. He that is no-husbandman, O Mazda, however eager he be, has no part in this good message.

When Thou, O Mazda, in the beginning didst create the Individual and the Individuality, through Thy Spirit, and powers of understanding - when Thou didst make life clothed with the body, when (Thou madest) actions and teachings, whereby one may exercise one's convictions at one's free-will;

Then lifts up his voice the false speaker or the true speaker, he that knows or he that knows not, (each) according to his own heart and mind. Passing from one to another Armaiti confers with the spirit in whom there is wavering.

Whatever open or whatever secret (acts) may be visited with punishment, or whether a person for a little sin demands the highest punishment, -- of all this through Asha Thou art aware, observing it with Thy flashing eye.

These things I ask Thee, O Ahura, how will these come and happen -- the dues, that in accord with the records are appointed for the righteous, and those, O Mazda, for the followers of the Druj, -- how shall these be when they come to the reckoning.

This I ask, what penalty is for him who seeks to achieve kingdom for a liar, for a man of ill deeds, O Ahura, who finds not his living without injury to the husbandman's cattle and men, though he does him no injury.

This I ask, whether the understanding man, who strives to advance the Dominion over the house, or district, or land through Asha, shall become like Thee, O Mazda Ahura, when will he be and how will he act?

Which is the greater -- what the follower of Asha or what the follower of Druj believe? Let him that knows inform the wise; no longer let him that knows nothing deceive. Be to us, O Mazda Ahura, the Teacher of Good Thought.

Let none of you listen to the words and commands of the follower of the Druj; for he brings house and clan and district and land into misery and destruction. Resist them with weapon!

To him should we listen who has understood Asha, to the wise Healer of Life O Ahura, who can or will establish the truth of the words of his tongue, when through Thy red Fire, O Mazda, the assignment (of rewards) is made to the two parties.

Whosoever cometh over to the Righteous, far from him hereafter shall be long age of misery (and) darkness, ill-food, and crying of woe. To such an existence, ye followers of the Lie, shall your own Self bring you through your (own) action.

Mazda Ahura by virtue of His absolute Lordship will grant a perpetuity of communion with Haurvatat and Ameretat, and with Asha, with Khshathra, and with Vohu Manah, to him that in spirit and in action is his friend.

Clear it is to the man of understanding, as one who has realized it with his thought. He upholds Asha together with good Dominion by his word and deed. He will be, O Mazda Ahura, the most helpful helper to Thee.

YASNA 32.

(Zarathushtra) -- And his blessedness, even that of Ahura Mazda, shall the nobles strive to attain, his the community with the brotherhood, his, ye Daevas, in the manner as I declare it.
(The Representatives of the Classes) -- As thy messengers we would keep them far away that are enemies to you.

To them Mazda Ahura, who is united with Good Thought, and is in goodly fellowship with glorious Right, through Dominion, made reply: We make choice of your holy good Piety [Armaiti] -- may it be ours.

(Zarathushtra) -- But ye, ye Daevas all, and he that highly honors you, are the seed of Bad Thought -- yes, and of the Lie and of Arrogance, likewise your deeds, whereby ye have long been known in the seventh region of the earth.

For ye have brought it to pass that men who do the worst things shall be called beloved of the Daevas, separating themselves from Good Thought, departing from the will of Mazda Ahura and from Right.

Thereby ye defrauded mankind of happy life and immortality, by the deed which he and the Bad Spirit together with Bad Thought and Bad Word taught you, ye Daevas and the Liars, so as to ruin (mankind).

The many sins by which he has succeeded in being famous whether by these it shall be thus, this Thou Knowest by the Best Thought, O Ahura, Thou who art mindful of each person's deserts. In Thy Dominion, O Mazda, and that of Asha, shall your decision thereon be observed.

None of these sins will the understanding commit, in eagerness to attain the blessing that shall be proclaimed, we know, through the glowing metal -- sins the issue of which, O Ahura Mazda, Thou knowest best.

Among these sinners, we know, Yima was included, Vivanghen's son, who desiring to satisfy men gave our people flesh of the ox to eat. From these shall I be separated by Thee, O Mazda, at last.

The teacher of evil destroys the lore, he by his teaching destroys the design of life, he prevents the possession of Good Thought from being prized. These words of my spirit I wail unto you, O Mazda, and to the Right.

He it is that destroys, who declares that the Ox and the Sun are the worst things to behold with the eyes, and hath made the pious into liars, and desolates the pastures and lifts his weapon against the righteous man.

It is they, the liars, who destroy life, who are mightily determined to deprive matron and master of the enjoyment of their heritage, in that they would prevent the righteous, O Mazda, from the Best Thought.

Since they by their lore would pervert men from the best doing, Mazda uttered evil against them, who destroy the life of the Ox with shouts of joy, by whom Grehma and his tribe are preferred to the Right and the Karapan and the lordship of them that seek after the Lie.

Since Grehma shall attain the realm in the dwelling of the Worst Thought, he and the destroyers of life, O Mazda, they shall lament in their longing for the message of Thy prophet, who will stay them from beholding the Right.

To his undoing Grehma, and the Kavis, have long devoted their purpose and energies, for they set themselves to help the liar, and that it may be said, "The Ox shall be slain that it may kindle the Averter of Death to help us."

Thereby hath come to ruin the Karapan and the Kavi community, through those whom they will not have to rule over their life. These shall be born away from them both to the dwelling of Good Thought.

. ..., who hast power, O Mazda Ahura, on him who threatens to be my undoing, that I may fetter the men of the Lie in their violence against my friends.

YASNA 33.

According as it is with the laws that belong to the present life, so shall the Judge act with most just deed towards the man of the Lie and the man of the Right, and him whose false things and good things balance (in equal measure).

Whoso worketh ill for the liar by word or thought or hands, or converts his dependent to the good -- such men meet the will of Ahura Mazda to his satisfaction.

Whose is most good to the righteous man, be he noble or member of the community or the brotherhood, Ahura -- or with diligence cares for the cattle, he shall be hereafter in the pasture of Right and Good Thought [Asha and Vohu Manah].

I who by worship would keep far from Thee, O Mazda, disobedience and Bad Thought, heresy from the nobles, and from the community the Lie, that is most near, and from the brotherhood the slanderers, and the worst herdsmen from the pastures of the cattle; --

I who would invoke thy Obedience as the greatest of all at the Consummation, attaining long life, and the Dominion of Good Thought, and the straight ways into Right, wherein Mazda Ahura dwells.

I, as a priest, who would learn the straight (paths) by the Right, would learn by the Best Spirit how to practice husbandry by that thought in which it is thought of; these Twain of Thine, O Ahura Mazda, I strive to see and take counsel with them.

Come hither to me, O ye Best Ones, hither, O Mazda, in Thine own person and visibly, O Right and Good Thought, that I may be heard beyond the limits of the people. Let the august duties be manifest among us and clearly viewed.

Consider ye my matters whereon I am active, O Good Thought, my worship, O Mazda, towards one like you, and O Right, the words of my praise. Grant, O Welfare and Immortality, your own everlasting blessing.

That Spirit of Thine, Mazda, together with the comfort of the Comrades Twain, who advance the Right, let the Best Thought bring through the Reform wrought by me. Sure is the support of those twain, whose souls are one.

All the pleasures of life which thou holdest, those that were, that are, and that shall be O Mazda, according to thy good will apportion them. Through Good Thought advance thou the body, through Dominion and Right at will.

The most mighty Ahura Mazda, and Piety, and Right that blesses our substance, and Good Thought and Dominion, hearken unto me, be merciful to me, when to each man the recompense comes.

Rise up for me, O Ahura, through Armaiti give strength, through the holiest Spirit give might, O Mazda, through the good Recompense [âdâ, offering], through the Right give powerful prowess, through Good Thought give the reward.

To support me, O Thou that seest far onward, do ye assure me the incomparable things in your Dominion, O Ahura, as the Destiny of Good Thought. O Holy Armaiti, teach the Daenas about the Right.

As an offering Zarathushtra brings the life of his own body, the choiceness of good thought, action, and speech, unto Mazda, unto the Right, Obedience, and Dominion.

YASNA 34.

The action, the word, and the worship for which Thou, O Mazda, shalt bestow Immortality and Right, and Dominion of Welfare - through multitudes of these, O Ahura, we would that thou shouldst give them.

And all the actions of the good spirit and the holy man, whose soul follows the Right, do ye set with the thought (thereof) in thine outer court, O Mazda, when ye are adored with hymns of praise.

To Thee and to Right [Asha] we will offer the sacrifice [myazda, i.e. offering] with due service [veneration], that in (Thy established) Dominion ye may bring all creatures to perfection through Good Thought. For the reward of the wise man is for ever secure, O Mazda, among you.

Of Thy Fire, O Ahura, that is mighty through Right, promised and powerful, we desire that it may be for the faithful man with manifested delight, but for the enemy with visible torment, according to the pointings of the hand.

Have ye Dominion and power, O Mazda, Right and Good Thought, to do as I urge upon you, even to protect your poor man? We have renounced the robber-gangs, both demons and men.

If ye are truly thus, O Mazda, Right and Good Thought, then give me this token, even a total reversal of this life, that I may come before you again more joyfully with worship and praise.

Can they be true to thee, O Mazda, who by their doctrines turn the known inheritances of Good Thought into misery and woe [usheuru?]. I know none other but you, O Right, so do ye protect us.

For by these actions they put us in fear, in which peril is for many -- in that the stronger (puts in fear) (me) the weaker one -- through hatred of thy commandment, O Mazda. They that will not have the Right in their thought, from them shall the Good Abode be far.

These men of evil action who spurn the holy Piety, precious to thy wise one, O Mazda, through their having no part in Good Thought, from them Right shrinks back far, as from us shrink the wild beasts of prey.

The man of understanding [or good will] has instructed (people) to cling to action of this Good Thought [Vohu Manah], and to the Holy Piety [Spenta Armaiti], creator, comrade of Right [Asha] -- wise that he is, and to all hope, O Ahura, that are in thy Dominion, O Mazda.

And both thy (gifts) shall be for sustenance, even nectar and ambrosia. Piety linked with Right shall advance the Dominion of Good Thought, its permanence and power. By these, O Mazda, dost thou bless the foes of thy foes.

What is thine ordinance? What willst thou? What of praise or what of worship? Proclaim it, Mazda, that we may hear what ordinances Destiny will apportion. Teach us by Right the paths of Good Thought that are blessed to go in, -

Even that way of Good Thought, O Ahura, of which thou didst speak to me, whereon, a way well made by Right, the Daena of the future benefactors shall pass to the reward that was prepared for the wise, of which thou art determinant, O Mazda.

The precious reward, then, O Mazda, ye will give by the action of Good Thought to the bodily life of those who are in the community that tends the pregnant cow, (the promise of) your good doctrine, Ahura, that of the wisdom which exalts communities through Right.

O Mazda, make known to me he best teachings and actions, these O Good Thought and O Right the due of praise. Through your Dominion, O Ahura, assure us that mankind shall be capable according to (Thy) will.


Translation by C. Bartholomae, from I.J.S. Taraporewala, The Divine Songs of Zarathushtra. Notes in square brackets [ ] were added by JHP. Original e-text from: Avesta: Zoroastrian Archives. This version modified for classroom use.

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