ahúrá, æsir, asúrá
ahúrá is the designation of SUPERB POWER, GOD-FORCE in Zoroastrianism; and is an inherited ancient Indo-European term. It is equal to the Norse/Scandinavian “æsir,” and the early Vedic asúrá. Unlike the Old English word god (and Old Norse goð), the term “æsir,” was never adopted into Christian use. Also, in later hinduism “asúrá” has become a designation for titanic powers and demons.
In Old Norse, áss/ásu, plural aesir, is the term emphasizing a WIELDING group of powers supreme, god forces or demi-gods of the Norse paganism. The cognate term in Avestan is ahü, ahúrá. The cognate term in Old English is ōs (plural ēse) denoting a superb power/god in Anglo-Saxon paganism.
The Old English name “ōswald” is literally equivalent to the first two words of the most sacred manthra of Zoroastrianism, or “ahü vairyö” (look at Yasna 27.13.) “ahü” is the same as ású; the first element in the norse term “æsir” namely; “splendid, superb.” “vairyö” is related to Old.Norse. vilja, Lithuanian. velyti “to wish, favor,” Old.English. wyllan, english will, German, wollen, Gothic. waljan “to will, wish, desire, to choose. Also, Old.English. wel “well,” lit. “according to one’s wish;” wela “well-being, riches.” Hence, the most sacred manthra of Mazdyasna known as “ahü vairyö” literally means “THE WILL TO BECOME POWER SUPERME and TO WIELD POWER LIKE A GOD.”
There has been much debate over the common origin of “ahúrá, æsir, and asúrá.” It is my opinion, that based on all the occurrences of the word in Avestan, Vedic and Norse accounts, it comes from Proto Indo European base *as- “GLOW, BURNING HEAT, PASSION, ENTHUSIASM.” English “ash,” German “asche,” or powdery remains of fire, come from the same root.
The concept of “ahúrá, æsir, and asúrá” is to GLOW with ENERGY, ahúrá or the god-force/power supreme is closely linked with ARDOR, INTENSE DESIRE and WILL POWER. This is supported by the first stanza of the first line of Yasna 29.5, where “ahvá” means “ardor, heat, fervor, life energy.” In short, GOD-FORCE or “Ahúrá” is to WILL PASSIONATELY;” the “GLOWING ENERGY,” the “ARDOR” that shapes the fabric of being and non-being.
There is a a common Proto-Indo-European origin for “ahúrá, æsir, and asúrá.” In entry 48 of “Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch,” the common origin of the word is reconstructed as “ansu.” In Norse Accounts, the rune ᚫ ansuz is named after the æsir. ᚫ ansuz is the rune of “speech, the answer to questions, rune of poetry, prayer and heartfelt word-power.” The Avestan cognate of the rune ᚫ ansuz is “éeánü,” appearing in the following verses in the poetic gathas; first stanza of the third line of Yasna 28.11, second stanza of the third line of Yasna 29.7, second stanza of the third line of Yasna 32.16, first line of Yasna 35.6 and second line of Yasna 47.2.
In poetic gathas, the distinguishing character of “Ahúrá” is “kh-shatrem;” to steer, rule, govern through magnetic power and charm. Look at the first stanza of the third line of Yasna 27.13 and the first stanza of the third line of Yasna 34.15. Compare the Avestan “kh-shatrem with Greek. kyber, Old.English. steran, Old.Norse. styra, German. steuern “to steer,” Gothic. stiurjan “to establish, assert. The idea is clearly of stamping the conscious will on time and space.
The epithet Ahúrá, in the sense of “superb power, dignity, magnetic presence, charm” applies to god as well as men. Look at at the first stanza of the third line of Yasna 29.2 and the third line of Yasna 53.9; and various passages in the beautiful Bahram Yasht. Also, in the Rigveda, two rulers, generous in bestowing as well as some seer/poets have been described as Asúrá. In the Norse literature, in genitival compounds, the Æsir take the form ása-, e.g. in Ása-Þórr” Thor of the Aesir”, ás-brú ” the æsir bridge,” ás-garðr; “enclosure of the Æsir, ás-kunnigr “æsirs’ kin”, ás-liðar “æsirs’ leader”, ás-mogin”æsirs’ might,” ás-móðr “æsir fury/madness,” ás-Landâs “æsir of the land,” ás-allmáttki” “the almighty æsir.”
Also the creation hymn of the Rig Veda supports an original meaning in line with the idea of GLOW and ARDOR; “In the beginning, when there was no before; There was neither the Existent (sat) nor the Non-Existent (a-sat); Neither air, the sky beyond, nor the heaven, No protection by anyone, only shadowy unfathomable waters, concealed by shadows.X.129,2 There was neither death nor immortality (a-mrutam), No beacon of light to distinguish between night & day. In this nothingness, the Asúrá arose, enwrapped in the void; Breathed, windless, by its OWN POWER. Other than that there was nothing beyond. X.129.3 In this Ocean of indistinguishable watery nothingness, covered in Void, That One tangible being (tan) arose through the power of TEMPO/HEAT/ENERGY (tapa-sas) ; by its own propulsion.” In the ancient Vedic hymns, Asúrás are “original powers’ whose WILL is shaping Ṛta or the cosmic order. In the Vedas, Varuna is the most exalted Asúrá, whose WILL the gods follow. The negative character of the Asúrá in POST-Rigvedic religion evolved over time. In later Hinduism this “energetic,” “ardent,” “strong-willed,” aspect of asúrás is transformed into willfulness and demonic desire, lack of glow or dark energy. Also, in Buddhist txts, the asúrás above all the splendid powers of the Kāmadhātu are subjected to the heat of desire. Accordingly, an asúrá is characterized by passion, immense energy and sheer will-power.
In Norse Mythology, the Æsir are the authors of “being and non-being, becoming and what turns out to be and not to be,” ( Compare the second stanza of the third line of Yasna 31.5 for a comparison.) The Æsir are the weavers and authors of Urðr, faith and destiny. It is interesting to examine the names of the first three Æsir in Norse mythology; Vili, Vé and Óðr. “Vili” is WILL POWER. “Vé” is the LIVELY, ENERGETIC essence of things, the SACRED or NUMENOUS. Óðr or Óð is “ODE, song, poetry, or the FLOW OF HEARTFELT FEELINGS. It should be addded that in the Vedas, the epithet of Asúrá is a passionate poet seer VIPRA; Look at the first line of Yasna 51.12 for the Avestan cognate Vaäpyö. Óð is somehow a personification of the god Odin, the divine passion.
In conclusion; to will from the depths of our core is to have an invencible power and become godlike. For “ahúrá” is our deepest aspirations, behind the emotions, deep within the being. We read in the Rig Veda that Varuna, the greatest asúrá, initiated his devotees as mystical seers (7.88); i.e., he made them “médhirá” “wise” and “visionary” (7.87.4). This spiritual wisdom, prophetic vision or insight into the cosmic order (medhá ṛtásya), was the exclusive privilege of seers (8.6.10).
Zoroastrian Ma(n)zdá is equivalent to médhirá, and the rune mannaz, the rune of the visionary and the brilliant. Ma(n)zdá is to will through the eyes of the spirit, to have foresight and true knowledge of all we aspire to realize; in the form of feelings and intuition, in the wondrous heart of life, light and splendor.