“ashá” is a fascinating concept in Zarathushtra’s teachings, and is the most repeated in the enchanting Gathas or the poetic songs of the seer/prophet. Yasna 27.14 or “ashem vohü” manthra is dedicated to ashá, and is the second most effective manthra in the enchanting songs. The aim of this article is to demonstrate the true meaning of ashá according to the poetic gathas, the ancient exegesis, and a comparative study of ashá in the vedic and norse literature.
ashá, is the second of “ameshá/amertá spentá” or auspicious immortals, hence one of the eternal spiritual aspects, emanations or creations of ahura mazda through which all other creation is realized.
ashá comes from the root ah/as, Proto Indo European “es,” meaning: essence, underlying principle, truth, the inward intention, origin, source. Greek “ousia” is a cognate. The ancient commentaries translate ashá/artá as “rásti ahurmazd” meaning the truth of ahurmazd, or the divine essence. As i said in my earlier articles, ashá and ahurá come from the same root, and the ancient commentaries translate ashá also as ahuric virtues, ahuric efficacy, ahuric skill, ahuric excellence, ahuric ability to make true or “ahráyih.”
In Avestan the sound “sh” is interchangeable with the sound “rt.” Thus, ashá is also interchangeably pronounced as artá. ashá/artá is very closely connected to the idea of ease, flow, skill, creativity in workmanship. It should be added that the ancient exegesis always adds the words “kar o kar-op,” or creativity, opus, master-work as a footnote to ashá, ahráyih or ahuric essence/virtues.
ashá/artá ‘close connection to “ease in producing the intended effect,” is demonstrated in many passages in the enchanting Gathas including; second line of Yasna 27.14 and second line of Yasna 51.8. The word ushtá, meaning “fulfillment of wish/desire,” “radiant happiness,” an epithet of ashá, is fundamental to both demonstrating this connection and understanding the concept of ashá.
The Vedic equivalent ŗtá in the Rig Veda also means: truth, true essence and skill in workmanship, and is closely associated with rhythm, verse and the cosmic order.
It might be additionally illuminating to compare the inherent idea of divine virtue/skill/ease inherent in the idea of ashá/artá with the Proto Indo European ar-ti (Skt. rtih “manner, mode;” Gk. artios “accomplish,complete;” Armenian arnam “make;” Ger. art “manner, mode”), from the base ar- “fit together, join”
The Norse Urðr is also very close. Urdor is not “fate”[as believed by many. It is rather a continuous FLOW of happenings, actions, abilities and powers that SHAPE and CREATE future and the fabric of reality. Urðr is a a conceptual mystery and refers to how the intentions and activities, are capable of weaving reality. The word seem to carry the inherent idea in ashá/artá in the sense of “to make true” and “to bring to realization. It comes in the same sense in the second line of Yasna 30.9, when it refers to ashá/artá in bringing about the continuous renovation of the existence.
According to Denkard 3.13-14, vöhü manö/consciousness is active in good thoughts, seraosha/inspiration in good words, and ashá/artá in good deeds. Ashá is thus “represented as active and effective. In addition, by a word play and referring to the first line of Yasna 33.1 and the first line of Yasna 28.11, Denkard exegesis calls ashá, the discerning eye/áish of life/existence.
The idea of ease and skill to realize and make true, seems to be the underlying principle of ashá. ashá is closely connected to, but is NOT the cosmic order. it is instead the creative and ingenious principle behind the cosmic order and the ethical rules of the humanity. ashá is the flame and spark of the existence, an animating and creative principle of infinite intelligence.
It is important to remember that time and space are relative. At a given moment, in a certain circumstance, there are impossibilities. But from the eternal point, the point beyond time and space, in the infinity of time, NOTHING is IMPOSSIBLE, and the existence is an amazing field of magical and awesome possibilities. There is nothing impossible in the existence except what is outside manö/consciousness/bewusstsein. What is not in our consciousness today, may be in our consciousness after some time for the consciousness can grow and become ever wider/vöhü manö. And this potential possibility of infinite wonder, beauty and awe/vohü is the truth of ahurmazd or “ashem vohü.” This wondrous and truly magical essence is at the core of the existence.
According to the third line of “ashem vohü” manthra, the truth/ashá of our being is related to, but different from all others, it is truly unique. But in the truth of our being, according to our own formation, our growth/progress is unlimited. It is LIMITED only by our IGNORANCE of the true ahuric essence of the existence.