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Teachings of Zarathustra

Zarathustra preached that there were only two gods, the "wise lord" Ahuramazda and his eternal rival Ahriman. It was the duty of the believer to side with Ahuramazda, which was possible by avoiding lies.


Most of the Zoroastrian scriptures were destroyed during the invasions of Persia by Alexander and later by the Arabs. But the Zoroastrian priests preserved some of the important sacred texts through oral tradition. The most important of these texts are known collectively as the 'Yasna' (yajna), which contains 72 'has' or sections. The five gathas or (stories) of Zarathustra, are found among these sections only. These five gathas, especially the first one called 'Ahunavaiti' , contain most of his teachings and thereby form the core of the Zoroastrian religion.

The Three Great Commandments

Zarathustra gave three commandments to his followers to enable them lead perfect lives and work for their own evolution. These are humata (good thought), hukhta (good word), and havarshta (good deeds). Good thoughts are very important in the spiritual journey of man, because all else comes out of thoughts only. Without good thoughts, there cannot be progress on the spiritual path. Without good thoughts one cannot subject oneself to Divine will and become qualified to receive boons from Vohu Mano. Thinking good alone is not sufficient. But one must have the courage to speak Truth all the time. One must be truthful to oneself and to others. There is no place for hypocrisy or duplicity in the life a of a true Zoroastrian. Performance of good deeds is equally important. The supreme Power of God, in the aspect of Khshathra Vairya comes to Him who engages himself in good actions. Good actions include Sraosha or service.

Ahuna Vairya Mantra

The Parsis chant Ahuna Vairya Mantra which is considered to be very sacred by them. according to the scriptures of Zorastrianism, Ahura Mazda uttered this manthra at the time of creation and manifested the whole creation. The significance of this mantra is such that chanting of it is considered to be equivalent to chanting of all the sacred texts. By chanting it continuously, the Parsis believe that one can drive away forces of darkness both within and without.

The first line of the verse says that just as a ahu (king) is powerful on earth, a ratu (a seer or a great soul ) is powerful everywhere because of his Asha. The second line of the verse says that the gifts of Vahumano are for those who work for the Lord of life. It means that Vahumano bestows his boons (love and purity of thought) upon those who indulge in good thoughts and good actions according to the divine will of God. The third line of the verse says that the Supreme power of God is bestowed upon him who considers himself as the helper of the meek and the lowly. The third line thus lays special emphasis on the concept of Sraosha or service.

Ahura Mazda and His Six Aspects

According to Zoroastrianism, God, the Creator, Ahuramazda, is one. Every thing emanates from Him and in the end dissolves in Him. He is the one and only. He is formless and He alone should be worshipped. Though He is formless, He has six aspects called Amesha-Spentas, through which men are expected to approach Him. These aspects are like the rays emanating from the single eternal source of light. The first three aspects represents the Father-aspect of God while the remaining three represent the Mother-aspect.

First among the six aspects is Asha-Vahishta. Asha means hope, an expectation. Asha Vahishta represents the divine event that is already ordained in the divine scheme of things. He is the reality that is continuously manifesting itself through divine will, according to the divine law. When a human being submits himself to the divine will and follows the divine laws, he is following Asha-Vahishta in the expectation of his own spiritual evolution.It is difficult for common people to conceptualize Asha-Vahishta and understand. As a solution, the prophet suggested fire to be used as the symbol for Asha by which people can easily recognize Him and meditate upon Him. Asha is divine, very remote and beyond human intelligence. But fire is very earthly and is regarded as one of the most common and familiar symbols known to mankind since earliest times. Fire has certain special and distinct characteristics. It can consume as well as transform every thing it touches. Fire thus became the earthly symbol for the divine Asha and Zoroastrians started worshipping Him as fire. Fire thus has become a very central aspect of Zorastrianism.
 

The second aspect of Ahuramazda is Vohu-manah, (Bahman), the divine wisdom, the supreme and immortal love, who sustains and supports mankind in times of difficulties and leads people on their path to God. He is the bestower of the pure mind or the good mind which is the basis for further spiritual evolution. He loves not only human beings but also all other creatures and therefore is truly a 'guardian angel' of the animals. We can please him by being kind to animals. The Parsis do not eat meat on certain occasions as a mark of respect to Him.

Khshathra-Vairya is the third aspect. He is the supreme creative power of God and responsible for the maintenance of the whole creation. As the dynamic aspect of God, He teaches mankind the importance of action (karma) in their lives. On the physical plane he commands all the minerals, and through them measures and controls the physical strength of beings.

The fourth aspect, Spenta Armaiti, is the Mother-aspect of God. She represents faith and single minded devotion to God. She is the friend and mother of those who are dvijas or the twice-born, that is those who have been initiated into the secrets of religion and spiritual life. On the physical plane she is the mother earth, who sustains all and nourishes all.

The fifth aspect is Hauravatat. She is perfection personified. She represents all that is perfect, beautiful and harmonious in the creation of God. On the physical plane she is the water goddess who rules over the elements of water and the physical health of beings.

Ameretat is the sixth aspect who is always found in the company of Hauravatat. She is the bestower of immortality and dispeller of fear of death. She rules over the vegetable kingdom and is associated with the tree of life and the tree of immortality found in  heaven.

Ahura Mazda with these six aspects constitute the seven fold Lord of the Universe and fire is his purest and holiest creation on earth. In addition to these there is another divine power , the yazata Sraosha, which was referred by Zarathustra as the means to attain the path of salvation. Sraosha is service (sushrusha of Sanskrit), obedience and devotion to God. When we cultivate this virtue we will be able to see the path of salvation clearly in front of us. 

The Basis of Zarathustra’s Philosophy

Zarathusthra seems to have become convinced that all events of the world are based on cause and effects.  He has, therefore, based his teachings on three principles: good reflection, good word, and good deed.

 
He was wise enough to recognize that all the motives of human beings are based on action and reaction.  Because, the receiver of every good deed in this world will react accordingly with the good behavior.  Therefore, in the realm of interaction, if human beings act favorably, they receive  favorable reaction and vice versa.  In this regard, if a person robs another one, he should not be surprised when some day he will be robbed as well. 

Zarathustra never imagined praising a God who is a bribe taker.  The one, who is bribed by worship and then he rewards his worshiper with a part of paradise.  The Almighty God is not a dealer, he is neither a buyer nor a seller, and does not need also to be flattered by his creatures.  The almighty God of Zarathustra, is the initiator of justice, kindness, and truthfulness and guides his creatures to the same principles.  That is why, Zarathustra, has based his philosophy on good reflection, good  word, and good deed.  

In Zarathustra’s philosophy, everybody has the liberty to choose the right way, out of his/her good reflection and since human wisdom is more related to good reflection, thus the followers of Zoroastrianism should precede by each other to the propagation of science and education.  In this manner, Zoroastrianism becomes the forerunner of knowledge and enlightenment.

Zarthustra's Immortality Philosophy

Zoroastrianism is founded on three elements: good reflection, good words, and good deed.

  • Equality between men and women are frequently mentioned in the Gathas
  • Cleanliness of water, land, air, and fire is one of the chief characteristics of Zoroastrianism
  • There is no mention of inhumane theory and practice of slavery in Zoroastrianism.
  • Another praiseworthy doctrine of Zoroastrians, which is frequently mentioned in the Gathas, is denunciation of laziness.  Laziness and taking advantage of the products of others toils is strongly reproached as the act of oppression.  Everybody should take it upon himself/herself to relieve the oppressed people from exploitation by others.  Everybody should subsist by the fruits of his/her own labor.
  • Idolatry, litholatry, and human made places of worship are reproached in Zoroastrianism.  “God’s house,” cannot be made by human beings with mud and stone, it is the soul and heart of them.
  • In Zoroastrianism not only oppression toward human beings is strongly condemned; Gathas frequently reproaches cruelty against animals.  Sacrifice of animals by human beings is considered the criminality of mankind against animals.

Zoroastrianism has never believed in anthropomorphism any feature for God.  In no part of the Gathas, there is also any mention of the face of God.  Zarathustra says in Yasna 31:8 
 

“O’ Mazda, when I was looking for you with my wisdom and speculation faculties and tried to find you with the eye of my heart, I recognized that you are the starter and the end of everything, you are the source of wisdom and reflection and you are the creator of truthfulness and purity and the judge and justice for the behavior of all the human beings.” 
 

 

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