Are the sacred writings other than ‘Gathas’ non-Zoroastrian?

   
 


 

 

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Understanding The

Zoroastrian Religion

Are the sacred writings other than ‘Gathas’ non-Zoroastrian?

Is there any rational and reasonable basis for

the belief that only' Gathas' were written in

Zarathushtra's time?

"Inherent in you are the faults of the flesh.

They tempt you towards sins, and lead you away

from the path of God. Fight them, aspire to

conquer them, and for that, learn to control the

mind". This is the great lesson all prophets and

sages and saints have taught to us.

We know that mind is the source of all our

thoughts, words and deeds, good or evil. But

what is mind? How does it function? Where is it

in us.

We are given an impression that it is in our

heads. A most complicated organ -brain is there

and it is the mind's functionary or emissary.

But brain is another mystery. It is said to be

"the darkest continent of the 20th century"; and

that for two reasons: the first is that it works day

and night in a dark chamber within 'your head;

and second, that much about it is wrapped in an

unknown unexplored darkness.

A GHOST?

We have thus two mysterious things mind

and brain. There is a third and still

VOL. I-No.3

(2)

deeper mystery; what is the relation between the

two? How does the mind 'direct' the brain to act?

Brain is a system composed of "ten thousand

million neurons" says Sir John Eccles, a great

Australian neurophysio logist, (Neurons mean

nerve-cells). He adds that they are "momentarily

poised close to a Just -threshold level of excitabi -

lity". They are ever ready to be excited but

something is required to excite them. There is

such 'something' in us, but what is it we do not

know. It may be that mysterious mons ter 'mind'.

The brain, says Eccles, "Is the kind of machine

that a ghost could operate, If by 'ghost' we mean

in the first place an 'agent' whose action has

escaped detection even by the most delicate

Instruments" (I). He means, 'mind' Is that ghost.

A gho st operating some machine in ever

darkest chamber-really a ghostly affair! And we

all live and do everything by that! No doubt our

attempt to understand the ghost

and its agent fails, because all our under standings

come from that very ghost and he mar be chary In

allowing us to under

DIN! AVAZ

II..

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.

I ..

,'-'

 

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stand its real self

Whatever may be our 'scientific' attem pts to

understand mind, all great Religions have taught

us certain basic Truths about how this ghost of a

mind functions, and what we have to do about it.

Mind, they teach, is an apparent reflection of

certain forces and energies deep within us. These

forces ar e two -fold, or in other words, these

energies flow in two different directions. One

tends the minds towards God, human ity and the

Path leading towards God and humanity. The

other directs the mind towards evil and away

from the Path of God. In an ordinary human, the

latter force is more powerful. It is for him to go

against this force, by trying to direct his thoughts

towards God and Religion. Because mind is a

controllable thing. If you earnestly try to bend it

towards God and the Good, the good forces

within will help.

WHY RELIGIOUS DISCIPLINES AND

EXERCISES?

But that is not easy The tendency 'of a

THE UNSTEADY Intelligence

When the mind of a person encourages

any of the wandering carnal senses, that

sense drags away his intelligence like the

wind dragging away a boat in water.

Therefore Oh Mahabaaho (Arjun)! that

person's intelligence becomes steady whose

senses have become free of passions and are

in his complete control. - Lord Krishna Gita

Ch. 2-67, 68

VOL. I-No.3

!II

normal human mind is stronger towards evil,

and it is a strenous exertion not to

allow it to be d rifted away in the strong currents

of evil. That is why all Religions have given

certain spiritual disciplines, 'Yogas'. exercises and

institutions. They are meant, devised and

prescribed to keep the mind inclined towards the

Good and God.

For Zarathushtrlans, Sudreh -Kushtl and

Manthra-prayers are two of several such

spiritual exercises and disciplines. They are to be

performed in a certain prescribed way and w ith

certain thoughts passing in the mind. They are the

great purifying agents for the mind, (Every Kushti

done properly in its actions and thoughts, is a

"Barashnoom", a spiritual bath to our whole

being).

"The tongue should speak only the truth and

the Manthra" is another such spiritual exercise (2).

Manashni, Gavashni, Kunashni is another.

THE MIND THAT DECEIVES

The ghost - mind - has some deceiving

characteristics. When it desires to lead its human

keeper towards the wrong way. It induces in him

all sort s of arguments and excuses. A killer is

made to think he is killing for "the good" of the

society. A lier is consoled by the thought that

after all he is doing it for some 'good'. The sexual

sinner is made to argue; what is wrong In it? Why

should" I not enjoy the physical pleasures when I

am gifted with them" by nature herself? A man

who wants to flout the Orders of his own Prophet,

would say 'Oh! that is quite old and orthodox and

outdated!" A Parsi who is too inert and lazy to

appreciate the spiritual va lue of the Zoroastrian

disciplines, Yogas, exercises and institutions and

to act on them would

2 DINI AVAZ

 

 

 

take refuge in: "Oh! that is all external!

Zarathustra did not teach all this. Some priests

have fooled us in doing them".

STUDY MODERN SCIENCE

This is actually happening in our Community

since the beginning of this century. Time to time

somebody pompously turns up and shouts: "Do

away with these nonsenses: Follow the pure

Religion". They are the victims of that great

treacherous ghost-mind. That ghost. In Its usual

way. sweeps them away from the right path and

they then close their eyes towards the truth as

shining as the mid -day sun. They would talk of

modern scienc<!, but never care to see that the

most modern discoveries of science have started

showing us in a very faint way the great spiritual

truths and wisdom behind all our religious

practices. traditions, discip-

lines, and Yogas. To -day, If you desire to

appreciate the Zoroastrian Religion with all its

existing institutions, go to most modern sciences

like nuclear physics astrophysics, biology, and

ESP. (This humble Dini Avaz will from time to

time give you some idea about the truth of this

proposition.)

THE GRAND EXCUSE

To ignore modern science while trying to

dabble in Zoroastrian Religion is the sin of

omission induced by a tricky mind. But there is a

sin of commission also prevalent amongst us,

which tries to find excuses for ignoring and

discarding our religious disciplines. One of such

grand excuses is that: Only some portion of the

Gathas are the writings of Zarathushtra; all other

Avesta writtings -like Vendldad, Yasna,

Visparad. Y.,shts. Niyaish etc -Iearn-

 

 

 

edly termed 'later Avesta' -were written much

after Zarathushtra. And the Gathas do not teach

any "external thing" like Sudreh - Kushti or Manthra - prayers, or Yasna-ceremonies or Fire-

temples or Dokh mas. Gathas teach "pure

religion". All the other writings ar e impure and

defiled and all external rituals and ceremonies

have no significance; they were devised by "later

priests" for professional interests.

The late Dr. Dhalla was the champion of this

theory, and he called himself 'a reformist'. His

satelltes are still there with us and go on singing

the same off tune song.

What reasons and arguements are adv anced

for this escapist theory?

POETRY AND PROSE

The first argument is that Gathas are in verse.

while non -gathlc writings are in prose. This

means, Zarathushtra was a poet; so He was

incapable of writing prose; or He perhaps thought

it below His dignity to do so! If you are a poet.

please take care not to write any prose, because

after a few thousand years. the then learned

savants will say. you were not and could not be

the author of that prose! Macaulay wrote some

good poetry and some better prose In a flowery

style and drafted some laws in very stony legal

language, In 3020 A. D. the pundits will perhaps

declare In a very pompous heavy technical

language that poet Macaulay was different from

that dry lawyer who drafted Indian Senile Code.

(This Is on a conjecture that the word 'Penal' will

by then be transformed to 'Senile' by substitution

of's' by 'p' and other linguistic fluctuations by then

invented). As a poet, you cannot write even a

letter in prose. If you wrote some good letters in

poetry to your girl-friend when

VOL. I-No.3

she was a beautiful spinster, then it is neither

capable of nor permissible for you you to write a

letter in prose to the same lady, now your wife,

with some of her pervious poetry-inspiring beauty

damaged.

ARGUMENTS IN A CIRCLE

But there are some real beauty points In these

poetry-pose agrument about the the Zoroastrian

writings. For instance. Dr. Dhalla, the great

champion of that theory, used the term 'poet' for

the writers of Ram Yashta, Zamyad Yashta. and

Homa Yastha in his 'Zoroastrian Theology' (3).

He did not say that these yashts were poetries and

therefore must have been written by Zarathushtra

Himself. He said. they were not written by Him,

because they were Yashts and not Gathas! But

that is just a merry -go-round. There must be

something different in the Gathic and non-Gathic

poetries, indicating their alleged different times.

But no such poetic differences are shown. Are we

to conjecture that the two poetries have different

meters and therefore they belong to different

ages?

But that way, as the late E rvad Phiroze

Masani pointed out, the Gathas, as poetry, have

no uniform meter (4). There are different lengths

of lines, different number of words in one line,

different number of lines in one stanza and

different rhyme and rhythm in different stanzas.

Should we then say: as poet Zarathushtra could

not write prose, so He could not write poetry in

different meters; therefore only one particular

meter should be considered as that of

Zarathushtra and all others of those poor

creatures: "later priests"!

In fact, this theory and its other ingre dients

have led these "Doctors of Theology"

4 DIN I AVAZ

 

 

 

to say that only some portion of Gathas are

written by Zarathushtra!! So, discard disciplines,

throwaway non -Gathic Avesta, eliminate some

portion of Gathas and what remains is this Great

Religion of Zarathushtra! ! Why not eliminate

that remainder also on the ground that it; was

written In primitive times, and is out of date and

out of tune with our 'progre ssive' and 'scientific'

times? It is very easy

to find flimsy arguments and excuses to eliminate

and cut down a thing. It is difficult to be able to

see the common thread or current running in it.

That requires not an escapist tendency but pains -

taking effort, and truth cannot be reached without

pain.

Although 'writers' of Yashta and non -Gathic

Avesta are very often referred to

THE WHIM!

One such pet theory (of the self -styled)

reformers is this: The Gathas constitute the

earliest and most reliab le Scriptures, all other

Avesta is later and younger. Any thing in the

latter that is Rot found in the Gathas may thus

be challenged-if it does not suit the whims of

the heterodox. It is very conveniently

forgotten that the Gathas are a small portion

of the Avesta literature containing hymns and

cannot therefore be expected to embody either

a complete philosophy Or an exhaustive

ritual; nay being mere hymns cannot

legitimately be expected to deal with these

subjects at all.

JEHANGIR J. VIMADALAL In Introduction

to Phlroze Masani's '!Zoroastriansim, Ancient

and Modern" (p. vi-vii.)

VOL. I-No.3

by the theorists, nobody has found out who were

they and what were their names and when did they

write. Only vague and arbitrary statements are

made that they were "later" priests and wrote their

Avesta 'later' than Zarathusthra. (I do not know

why on this theory, they can be only 'priests' and

not non-priestly Zoroastrians

or even non-Zoroastrians).

'LINGUISTIC' DIFFERENCES?

The second argument for the belief that non-

Gathic writing were written much latter than

Gathas, is that the Avesta of the two is different.

This is what Is known as the linguistic basis of

that theory.

No doubt Gathas have long accents and

syllables, while non -Gathic writings sound

different. But can we be so sure about the two

being separated In point of time? Could they not

be languages of the same times but spoken or

written in different places? There is a very

significant proverb In Gujarati: "The dialect

changes every twelve miles" (5). Thi s can be a

complete answer to the argument of time -

separation. To-day Gujarati of Kathiawar is

very much different from Gujarati of Surat.

The words having the same meaning are, though

slightly comparable. differ in many ways. It can

be space separation. We cannot be dogmatic about

time-separation merely be cause of comparable

linguistic differences.

That of course is an argument of a layman like

me, who has no good fortune to have a deep

study of science and art of languages. But a

renowned scholar and aut hor of the Western

studies of Zoroastrianism, Dr. Wilhelm Geiger,

advance the same argument. In his "Civilisa tion

of The Ancient Iranians" (translated by Dastur

Darab Peshotan Santana) Dr. Geiger says:

5 DINI AVAZ

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--"

 

 

 

...

"Although (the Gathas) bear (s) many marks

of great antiquity, still it Is not quite free from

later and more polished forms of expression.

Again the lang uage of the Gathas is

essentially a distinct dialect, the difference of

which from that of the rest o f the Avesta may

be easily explained by its having belonged to

a different country" (6).

In an objective impassioned manner Dr.

Geiger says that space-separation can account for

the difference in the languages of Gathic and non-

Gathic writings.

Again, the difference may be due to the

subject matters of the writings. Word worth’s

poems and Stephen's Law of Evid ence were

written in the same period of

time, but the languages are entirely different.

One is anxious to use literary and figura tive

language; oth er is anxious to avoid any poetic

expression to make the meaning

as clear and unambiguous as possible. If Gatha's

theme is philosophical and devoti onal and

Vendidad's theme is the laws of practical day -to-

day living, the languages would be very much

divergent. To convey the same meaning, entirely

different expressions and words would be used.

THE CONTENTS THEORY

I must state, in all fairness, that G eiger does

believe that Gathas are older in point of time, but

he does not found this belief on the linguistic

differences; these accord ing to him,. can be

space-separated. His belief about the antiquity of

Gathas is based on their own contents.

And that takes us to the third argument

that: a comparison of the contents of Gat has and

those of non -Gathic writings indi cate that the

latter were written much after Gathas.

VOL. I-No.3

i

Here again we are on very soft and even

treacherous ground. There is no uniformity about

the contents of Gathas in the modern linguistic

studies of Zoroastrianism. There are as many

translations as there are savants and pundits and

each is so much divergent

from another that the contents are not

even reasonably ascertainable! Wh at can be the

message of one particular stanza is an body's

guess. And those translations, which are stated,

to be authentic do not contain much of a divine

message or much of a religious philosophy even!

The whole difficulty is that in order to decipher

the sublime message of the Gathas, or of any

Avesta writing, certain words are to taken in their

technical sense. Nobody need scratch his nose for

this. Avesta is the Science of all sciences; and

any science, whether worldly or spiritual, must

have, and alw ays has, its own technical terms,

which have meanings quite different from the

dictionary. "Equity of Redemption" is a special

technical term of the law of prop erty. ,. Work"

has a special meaning in Physics. "Relativity" of

Einstein is a big

monster compared to its ordinary meaning.

'Horse-power' has a very remote indication of a

real horse; in Physics, It is a measure of 'work

done. So, 'Geush-urva' in Gathas has very remote

connection with cattle; its principal meaning is

entirely different. It is a technical term used for

certain living conscious Force or Energy in

Nature, which has a special relation with our

mother-earth (7). But if you read it merely as

cattle, Gathas would be said to be belonging to

"the cattle age" and that would take t he bottom

out of its real esoteric technical meaning!

6 DINI AVAZ

 
 

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