Rune Wunjo, and the Vision of Loveliness in the Gathas/Songs of Zarathustra

In the ancient Germanic Futhark alphabet, *wunjô is the rune of “joy, intense desire, passion.” *Wunjô is the inner desire for realization of the soul’s true love/passion.

This rune wards off sorrow, and is the formula for aligning our thoughts, words and deeds with the vision of loveliness.

*Wunjô teaches to act upon our passion, and by doing so to complete our purpose in this lifetime.

We read in an Old English rune poem:

 Wenne bruceþ, ðe can weana lyt
sares and sorge and him sylfa hæfþ
blæd and blysse and eac byrga geniht

Lust, longing, he enjoys who knows not/suffering, sorrow nor anxiety and has /prosperity and happiness and a good enough shelter.

*Wunjō is a cognate of Gothic winja, Old English wynn. In the Old Avestan Songs, the Gathas of the seer/prophet Zarathustra, it appears as váunû. Old Norse vinr, Vedic vánas, Latin venus are other cognates.

The reconstructed Proto Indo European root is *venh, *wénhos “loveliness, intense desire, passion.”

In the sacred songs or gathas of the ancient Aryan seer/prophet, váunû is about the vision of loveliness, passionate desire to overcome limitations, long, and reach for the sublime.

We read in the sacred gathis poetry:

ahûrem ýásá váunûš//naröi frša.öštrái maibiiá.čá

I yearn passionately for god-powers, for becoming like ahuras// (on behalf) of the valiant Frashoshtar and Myself.

 tã ýazái xváiš náménîš pairi.čá jasái vañtá

I hallow the Immortals under their own names, and go to them with longing, love.

In Zoroastrianism, Immortals are fairest, and wisest of all beings, and Godhood is “goodness, genius, and healthy, vital energy.” Therefore the concept of fear of God does not exist in Zoroastrianism. Instead Immortals and the qualities of Godhood are to be passionately, lovingly longed for.

In another song, the seer/prophet sings about the realization of the “vision of loveliness.”

ašáû.nãm áat ûrûnö ýaza.maidæ//kûdö-záta.nãm.čît narãm.čá náiri.nãm.čá

 ýaæšãm vahæhîš daæn.áv//vana.iñtî vá véñg.hen vá vaônaré vá

The soul of the followers of excellence we honor//wherever born, both valiant men and women//those whose vision of betterment, loveliness//are victorious, will triumph or have prevailed,

Passion is energy, the intense desire to reach for the stars, the Immortal Gods. Mortals need something greater to look up to. It is this vision of loveliness that at the end will prevail, overcome against all odds, and will touch the sublime here on earth.


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Spenta Armaiti, the divine feminine in Zoroastrianism, the guardian of the sacred earth and women

February 18-19 marks the festival of Speñtá Ármaiti, the Immortal or the genius of the “sacred meditation, right thinking, the divine feminine” in Zoroastrianism. She is the guardian of good earth and women.

It was to Her that Artaxerxes II prayed for the health of his wife Atoussá, whose name is rendered in Greek as Hera “the goddess of women.”

In the poetic gathas or songs of the seer/prophet Zarathustra, (Yasna 45.4,) CREATION comes about through the union of “sacred focus, right meditation” speñtá ármaiti with the supreme god mazdá ahûrá, the “lord of mind, inspiring creativity and wisdom.”

Ármaiti comes about 42 times in the gathas/sacred songs of Zarathustra. She comes in close association with daæná “power to see, vision, keen insight,” and is also equated with “silent, tacit or quiet meditation,” tüšná maitiš  (See Yasna 43.15, 3rd rhymed verse line.)

Ár-maiti is a compound word. The maiti part means “meditation, contemplation,” and the first part comes from the root ar “fitting rightly.” Thus, ármaiti or the “divine feminine in Zoroastrianism,” refers to “meditation, and focus of mind” that is evenly, and RIGHTLY undistracted, leading to “calm, serenity, creative visions and higher knowledge.”

The ancient commentaries translation of ármaiti to bündak manišni confirms the above understanding of the term in ancient Zoroastrian theology, verses the erroneous translation into humility/piety that started to appear in the early 19th century.

Ármaiti like other Immortals has the epithet Spǝñtá “the auspicious, endowed with the vibrant, splendid life force, the sacred.”

Avestan spǝñtá is a cognate Old Slavonic svętŭ, Lithuanian šventas, Russian svjatój, and Old Prussian swints.

The twelfth month in the Zoroastrian calendar, also called the “auspicious or sacred month” speñtá or Esfand in farsi, is named after this auspicious Immortal or the divine feminine.

Rue called the “sacred incense,” speñtá or Esfand in modern Persian, goes back to the same root.

Another epithet of ármaiti is vaηuhîm or vaηhû.yáv “good, superb, bounteous.” For the god-beings are “superb, brilliant and giver of good things.”

The festival of Speñtá Ármaiti called Spandārmað in middle Iranian, (February 18-19) is a special time to honor the scared earth, and women. The divine feminine is entreated for powers of procreation, serenity, and protection against evil. On this day, special charms are made and hung on doors.

I shall conclude by the following beautiful gathic sacred verse:

speñtãm vé ármaitîm vaηuhîm vare.maidî// há-né aηhat

 Spəntá Ármaiti, the bountiful, the good, we want, and desire//May she be ours.



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The great gift of fire, and the Zoroastrian winter festival of sadeh

Forty days after winter solstice celebrations, at the height of the freezing cold and frost, the great festival of sadeh is celebrated in the Zoroastrian calendar. The festival of sadeh celebrates the longer daylight, and the discovery of fire. It is the sacred observance of the powers of vitality, and the energy of renewal, embodied in huge lit bonfires.

Sadeh, celebrates the discovery of fire, and its ability to banish the freezing cold, stagnation, and gloom. This festival is held in the frigid depths of winter, and has been faithfully kept alive among Iranian Zoroastrians.

The name sadeh most logically goes back to the Avestan sareta “burning cold, freeze, frost,” and seem to be a corruption of the Avestan original. Avestan sareta is a cognate of Lithuanian šáltas “cold,” and Latvian salts. Old Church Slovanic slana “hoar, frost” is also a possible cognate. The word seems to denote the “intensity, and burning sensation of COLD, FROST.”

All references to modern Persian sad, Latin centum “hundred,” appear to be recent folk etymology.

Godhood in Zoroastrianism is the bringer of light, illumination, vital energy and fire to mankind. There are many parallels between ahûrá god-powers of Zoroastrianism, and the legend of the Titan Prometheus, who defies the gods by stealing fire and giving it to humanity, an act that enabled discovery, progress and civilization.

Fire in the gathic poetry symbolizes “forethought, emotional intelligence, and passionate willpower.” It represents human striving, and the quest for the brilliant wisdom and the unfailing energy of the ahûrás, the pristine god-powers.

The bonfires of sadeh embody the creative genius, and all brilliant efforts that improve mortal existence, and will set the stage for the cosmological triumph of light/genius over stagnation and darkness.


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Zoroastrian sky burial, and Towers of Silence

The ancient Zoroastrian method of disposal of the dead is SKY BURIAL. The corpse is placed on a mountaintop to be eaten by carrion birds/vultures, while it is exposed to the rays of the sun and stars.

In Zoroastrianism, death, decay and disease are the handiwork of the diabolic, dark forces. Hence, dead matter called nasuu is considered most unclean and defiled by forces of decay, and destruction.

Accordingly, there is no need to preserve the dead body after death, as it is now a lifeless, contaminated vessel. The birds atop a “special built tower” on a mountaintop or hill, shall strip the flesh, free the spirit, remove the potential for pollution, and reduce the remains to a handful of clean bones.

Special care is made to preclude any possible tainting of the good earth, waters and fire from coming into contact with decaying, dead matter. The word for dead matter nasuu goes back to reconstructed Proto Indo European *neḱ-. Cognates include Latin nex, noxius “harmful, noxious,” and Greek nekrós “dead body.”

The rule is to avoid rotting away, and to dispose the carcass/dead corpse as efficiently and speedily as possible. For that purpose, circular towers called dakhma are constructed on top of desolate mountaintops or high hills. Zoroastrian sky burial practices are first attested in the mid-5th century BCE Histories of Herodotus, but the use of “sky burial towers” is first documented in the early 9th century BCE.

In modern times, circular, raised towers are referred to as “Towers of Silence.” The term is attributed to Robert Murphy, a translator for the British colonial government of India in the early 19th century.

The original word for “sky burial towers” or dakhma denotes the idea of setting “ablaze, aflame.” Avestan dažaiti “burn,” Lithuanian degù “burn,” Old Irish daig “flame” are possibly connected, and cognates.

This suggests that towers of silence were originally raised, built pyres on mountaintops and hills, before the Zoroastrian era. In much of the ancient Iranian lands, the topography is extremely mountainous, and the ground is too hard, rocky, and cold to dig, also, the scarcity of fuel and timber, made sky burial probably much more practical than cremation.

The carved tombs of the Achaemenid Rulers at mountain cliffs in Naqsh-e Rustam, and the raised, above the ground mausoleum in Pasargadae, suggest sky burial practices, until the clean bones could safely be collected and placed in an above the ground astôdán, “ossuary”.

It shall be added, that to avoid any possible contamination of the underground waters and the good earth, any collection of clean mortal remains such as bones, MUST take place in ABOVE THE GROUND vaults, crypt structures, and burial mausoleums, in the ancient, orthodox Zoroastrian practice.

Parallels could be drawn with the funeral of Patroclus as it is described in book 23 of the Iliad. Patroclus is burned on a pyre, and his bones are collected into a golden urn. An above the ground barrow is built on the location of the pyre. Also, Beowulf’s body is taken to Hronesness, where it is burned on a funeral pyre. Afterwards, a mound is built on top of a hill, overlooking the sea, and filled with treasures.

Other important above the ground burial mounds/kurgans are found in Ukraine and South Russia and are associated with much more ancient steppe peoples, notably the Scythians (e.g., Chortomlyk, Pazyryk) and early Indo-Europeans (e.g., Ipatovo kurgan.)

Beside Zoroastrians, the practice of sky burial appears to have been the favored method of the disposal of the dead among the ancient Celts. It is believed that sites close to STONEHENGE were used for sky burial rites.

Sky burial was practiced also among American Indians, and to this day, sky burial is practiced in Tibet, Bhutan and Inner Mongolia, where Vajrayana Buddhist traditions teach that sky burial is the most generous way to dispose of the dead.

REGRETTABLY, in the early twentieth century, the Iranian Zoroastrians gradually discontinued the use of sky burial, and began to favor burial. A former, lush Qajar dynasty era palace, some 10 km from Tehran, by the name of Ghassr-e Firouzeh “Firouzeh’s Palace,” was purchased, and turned into a cemetery. The graves were lined with rocks and plastered with cement to prevent direct contact with the earth.

However, digging graves is in no way in compliance with ancient Zoroastrian disposal practices. In case, that sky burial is under no pristine conditions possible, the only religiously acceptable form of disposal is burial in ABOVE THE GROUND, RAISED vaults, crypt structures, and mausoleums.


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Meaning of the name Buddha, and “Spiritual Awakening” before the Great Battle in the Gathas of Zarathustra

Buddha literally means the “Awakened One,” and comes from a root that is Widespread and Old in Indo European speech. The reconstructed root in Proto Indo European is *bheudh.

Cognates include Avestan baôδaiti “wake up to, understand,” Vedic bódhati “awake,” Lithuanian bundú “awake,” Gothic ana-biudan “rules to observe, order,” Old English beodan, Old Norse bjóða “inquire, pay attention to, look into.”

We read in the gathas/songs of seer/prophet Zarathustra:

 pará mazé ýáv.aη//ahmái né saz.diiái baôd.añtö paitî

“Before the great battle// awaken ye to this revelation, doctrine.”

The “great or magnificent battle” in the sacred poetry of the gathas refers to the final battle between the Immortals of light against demons of gloom, and the final triumph of the new age of eternal spring and progress.

The notion of the final, “majestic battle” is repeated again in Yasna 36.2 mazištái ýáv.aηhãm where the renewal of the worlds comes through illumination and fire of the Mindful lord, Ahûrá Mazdá.

In the gathic doctrine, each soul must hasten the coming of the eternal spring and the Splendid age of the Immortals through “spiritual awakening and enlightenment” to the superb wisdom and doctrine of the wise ahurás. The Titans or Primeval God Powers within must be awakened baôd.añtö, thus the splendid new universe comes about.

The doctrine of 10,000 Bodhisattvas, the “awakened, enlightened ones” who have attained Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings, and Amitābha “Buddha of Infinite light,” show striking similarities to the 10,000 Immortals of Zoroastrianism, and the “Giants/Mighty Lords of Ages,” the Saöšiiánts of the gathic poetry.

In conclusion, I shall add that the term ārya; Pāli: ariya is a term frequently used in Buddhism that can be translated as “noble, exalted, pure, and is frequently used in sacred texts to designate a spiritual warrior light or virtuous hero.

The “Four Noble Truths” in Buddhism are called the catvāry ārya satyāni (Sanskrit) or cattāri ariya saccāni (Pali.)

Also, the “Noble Eightfold Path” of right vision dhyana, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right meditative focus are called the ārya mārga (Sanskrit,) ariya magga (Pāli) in the original texts.


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Ragnarök, new age of the Gods, and the account of final resurrection RASTAḴIZ in Zoroastrianism

In Norse mythology, Ragnarök, is the final great battle of the world, in which gods and heroes will fight demons, gloom and forces of darkness. Ragnarök translates into the final “lot, destiny” rök of the rulers/gods ragna. German Götterdämmerung, used by Richard Wagner as the title of the last opera in the Ring cycle, refers to this twilight of the gods.

The accounts of Ragnarök have an almost identical match in the vast Zoroastrian apocalyptic literature. The modern Persian word for “Resurrection” rasstáḵiz is rooted in the Avestan riḵti “legacy, inheritance, lot/destiny that is inherited.”

In the Zoroastrian apocalyptic account, it is the awakening of the Titans, the primeval Gods (ahûrás, Norse æsir,) and their “wondrous legacy” that will bring about a fresh, new order, and splendid universe.

The idea of rasstáḵiz “resurrection,” springs to mind many parallels to the virtuous Hyperboreans who live in the far north beyond the home of the north wind. An age of eternal spring, a sacred race of god-men, untouched by the ravages of old age, disease and death will usher in after the coming of saöšiiant “Mighty Lord/Giant of the Ages.”

Admission to this splendid, new universe is reserved for the righteous, and the heroic, mortals related to the brilliant gods. There will come an age when there will be neither sickness nor age, nor death, where new horizons will be discovered, in an age of eternal progress.

In Zoroastrianism, death, disease, all flaws are the handiwork of the evil spirit and his demons. Godhood is overcoming limitations and triumph of the sacred will to discover new horizons. Resurrection is the final triumph and overcoming over all these flaws and limitations.

The godhood of the ahûrás, the brilliant Immortals of Mazdá, lies in their eternal quest for excellence, and their superb wisdom. The Immortals of Zoroastrianism resemble the titan Prometheus who brought the “secret of fire and illumination” to the world.

In Rig Veda 5.63.7, we come across the term ásurasya māyáyā  “magic of the ásuras, the magical substance, brilliant mind stuff of the ahûrás.” This probably is the closest description of Ahûrá Mazdá, the supreme god of Zoroastrianism in the Vedas.

For it is through “creative imagination, insightfulness,” into the cosmic order that the Immortals will usher in a fresh, splendid, new age of eternal spring. Making creation splendid anew is the destined legacy of the Immortals

Concerning the final battle between Immortals of light and demons of gloom and darkness, we read in the poetic gathas of the ancient seer/prophet Zarathustra:

ýezî adáiš ašá drûjem véñ.(a)ηha.itî

 hiiat ãnsa.šûtá ýá daibi.táná fraôḵtá

 ameretá.itî daævá.iš.čá mašiiá.iš.čá

 at töi savá.iš vahmem vašat ahûrá

“When at that (new) creation, excellence/truth wins over treachery and lies,

It will come to pass, what they said are delusions, and lies,

Immortality triumphs over demons and men

Then increases your auspicious, brilliant vitality, and sacred praise, god-force/ahura.”

I shall conclude by adding that the first part of Ragna-rök, comes from the Old Norse rógn, “guide, govern, rule, god/kingship,” that is preserved in the Avestan ražn “reign, rule” from the very early Indo European times.

Also the term uz.ere.diiá in the gatahs/songs of the ancient prophet refers to the “rising of the new order/creation,” that must spring up/emerge from the inner soul first.


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Magi, the ancient Zoroastrian hereditary Priesthood, and Haplogroups I M170, I P215, and Haplogroup T1a2

The legend of the three “Wise Men or Kings” from the East who supposedly visited the savior child is very popular, and widely accepted in the Christian literature. The three “Wise Men or Kings” were actually Magi, or “hereditary Zoroastrian Priests” during the Parthian era. Parthia in the East (the second great, ancient Iranian Empire,) along with Germania in the north, posed the gravest danger to the once mighty Roman Empire.

Magi (Avestan magá, Old Persian magûs) were the designated terms for the ancient Zoroastrian hereditary priesthood. According to Herodotus (1.101), Magi were one of six Median tribes and formed the priestly clan of the Zoroastrians. He adds that Magi were scholars, tutors, skilled dream interpreters, and gave very accurate prophecies of the future events. An integral part of the wisdom of the Magi was connected with heavenly lights/stars, and white magic (hence the Greek term mageía “magic”; see Rose, p. 22.)

Classical authors such as Herodotus, Strabo, Pompeius Trogus, Apuleius, and Ammianus Marcellinus have provided significant information on the ancient Magi. According to them, the Magi were disciples and followers of seer/prophet of the ancient Aryans, Zarathustra.

According to the classic Greek authors, the Magi served ancient Aryan Gods (the supreme god, Ahûrá Mazdá, and his Brilliant Immortals), were outstanding memorizers (*framazdá, Greek mnemon,) held sacred twigs in hand when chanting the hymns of the Immortals, tended to the fires of ancestral hearth and altars, were of a very tall stature, dressed always in pure white, wore pointed hats or Phrygian-like caps, covered their mouth with white masks while tending to the sacred fires or offering pure libations to the Gods, and used the elixir of Immortality or haômá wine for ritual purposes.

Herodotus adds that no offerings could be made by the ancient Persians without the presence of a Magus who performed the appropriate rites and chanted hymns of the virtues/powers of the gods (gathas of Zarathustra.) Herodotus also narrates that the Magi did not bury their dead but left them on mountaintops to be torn by birds of prey (vultures) or wild canines, (1.140.)

In his Histories Herodotus also states that Xerxes (the third Achaemenid ruler) did not undertake any important decisions without advice of the Magi. The Magi interpreted his dreams, and gave him prophecies; they also accompanied the Persian army on campaigns with the sacred fire (see, e.g., Hdt., 7.19, 37).  Upon orders of Xerxes, the Magi performed libations to the sea/waters in the Hellespont.

Xenophon, in his Cyropaedia (Education of Cyrus) writes that Magi were ancient priests. Both nobility and laity followed their instructions in spiritual/religious matters.  Besides, the Magi were not only expert performers of worship rites but also scholars, tutors and teachers of sciences.

It is also known from Curtius Rufus that ancient Persian soldiers carried the sacred, victorious flame on silver altars in front of their troops, and the Magi proceeded behind them singing sacred hymns, (Historiae 3.3.9.)

Images of the Magi are attested on seal impressions on several clay tablets from Persepolis, the ancient, majestic capital of the Achaemenids.  These seals show usually two priests, under the sun-wheel/disk, holding a mortar and pestle before a fire altar (Schmidt, p. 55 and pl. 7, seal no. 20).

Émile Benveniste believed that Avestan term magá– signified a priestly or shamanic-warrior clan among the ancient Aryans/Iranians, renowned for their “wisdom, abilities, and skills,” (Benveniste, 1938, pp. 13, 18-20.) The term according to Benveniste preserved such a meaning also in the Avesta according to whom the Magi became the hereditary priestly class in Zoroastrianism.

The preserved portions of the Old Avesta/gathas of Zarathustra contain indisputable references to the Magi, as the closest disciples/inner fellowship of Zarathustra. Prophet Zarathustra, in his poetic gathas/songs calls his fellowship airyá “noble, honorable, Aryan,” or magá of “mightily powers and abilities.

Avestan magá suggest “great powers and abilities,” and goes back to the reconstructed Proto Indo European *magh-“to be able,” Old Norse mega “be able”, Old High German magan Old English magan, Gothic magan, German mögen, modern English may “enable, make possible.”

In the Younger Avesta, the designated term for priests is āθra.van- “keeper of the (hearth) fire/flame,” a term that most likely referred to the Western Magi of Media and Caucasus.

The Magi or the Magá fellowship of the gathas/songs of Zarathustra referred however to the ancient Zoroastrian Priesthood of Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (or BMAC,) dated to c. 2300–1700 BCE. The BMAC site also known as the “Oxus Civilization” was located in present-day northern Afghanistan, north- eastern Iran, and former Central Asian Soviet republics. These sites were discovered and named by the former Soviet archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi (1976.) BMAC along the neighboring Yaz Culture has been regarded as a likely archaeological reflection of early Zoroastrianism as described in the Avesta.

With its farming citadels, steppe-derived metallurgy, amazing water canals dug from the mountain glaciers to fertile oases, and most intricate art & ceramics; Raphael Pumpelly hypothesized that “the fundamentals of European civilization—organized village life, agriculture, domestication of animals, weaving, etc.—were originated on the oases of Oxus Culture long before the time of Babylon.”

The connection of BMAC and Eastern Magi to the pagan European Civilizations appears Not to be only cultural, and linguistic, but also GENETIC.

The most frequent Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup among the Iranian Zoroastrian Priesthood seem to be I M170, and I P215, or the original I and I2 haplogroups. (My personal lineage is I M170.)

Today, Haplogroup I is the most common halpogroup in the Dinaric Alps and Scandinavia, and it is believed to have arisen in Europe, and not outside Europe. Yet, the Paleolithic continuity of Haplogroup I in Europe does NOT really make sense, based on the very young age estimate for haplogroup I. Furthermore, living examples of the precursor Haplogroup IJ* have been found only in northeastern Iran and Turkmenistan. This highly suggests that both the original haplogroup I, and its ancestor haplogroup IJ originated in BMAC. In that case, I2a-Din was brought to the Dinaric Alps by the early Indo-European migrations, and was part of the original collection of Y-DNA of early Indo Europeans.

Along Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups I M170, and I P215, the third most common haplogroup among the Iranian Zoroastrian Priesthood is T1a2.

While the original I haplogroups appear to go back to the Magis of Zarathustra and BMAC culture, the latter T1a2 haplogroup must hail back to the Median Magi from the West. T1a2 or (T L131) has been found as far East as the Volga-Ural region of Russia and Xinjiang in north-west China. T1a2 penetrated into the Pontic-Caspian Steppe of Eurasia during the Neolithic, and became integrated to the indigenous R1a peoples (Proto Indo Iranians) before their expansion to Central Asia during the Bronze Age.

During the Copper and Bronze Ages haplogroup T would have been an important lineage among ancient peoples such as Sumerians, the Babylonians and the Assyrians.

The Parsi Zoroastrian Priests of India on the other hand, overwhelmingly belong to Y DNA haplogroup R1a1a, sharing many close similarities to the Corded Ware Culture of Mesolithic Northeastern Europe. Interestingly, the genetic results of ancient Corded ware Culture of Northeastern Europe is closest to the Sintashta genomes. The Sintashta culture of northern Eurasian steppe on the borders of Eastern Europe and Central Asia dated to the period 2100–1800 BCE is believed to be the urheimat of the ancient Indo Iranians.

In conclusion, I shall add that the line of ancient Zoroastrianism goes back to the very beginning of early Indo-European people. It is the noble fellowship of ancient shaman warriors of Eurasia who saw themselves as kin to the Gods. It CANNOT be understood without its deep roots and its line to the very beginning. It is a faith that is in soul and blood. It is passed down through the honorable generations of very ancient people. Zoroastrian faith is not only a bridge to the Immortal Gods, but also a pact to all the noble ones, those who have gone before, and all those who will come thereafter.


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