April 22nd is the feast of “artá.vahisht” in the Avestan calendar. Ashá or Artá is excellence, virtue, ARTISTIC ability and skillful ingenuity. The root of the word Ashá or Artá is the same as the Greek Areté and Aristos; words which show superlative ability, goodness and superiority. The word “Aristos” like Avestan “Ashöi/Artöi” is used to denote purity, nobility.”
Ashá /Artá like Vedic ṛta; is “the artistic ingenuity, superb brilliance and excellence” that shapes reality and bring luminous/beautiful visions into reality. Ashá or Artá is the wondrous (vahishtá) truth of Ahúrmazd, called also “rásti or ráßti Ahúrmazd,” in the ancient commentaries.
Ashá /Artá is grammatically neuter. It is the essence of the worlds/universe and is symbolized by fire and all illuminations. Through Ashá /Artá; Ahúrá Mazdá established the brilliant course of sun, moon and stars (Yasna 44.3, 3rd rhymed verse line). It is through Ashá /Artá that Ahúrá Mazdá made the plants grow (Yasna 48.6, 3rd rhymed verse line.)
Its religious significance is further shown by the fact that it is the guardian of Rapithwin or noon. Noon is the time of maximum brilliance. One of the 4 most sacred Zoroastrian manthras, the Ashem vohü (Yasna 27.14,) is wholly devoted to Ashá /Artá as the principle of “artistic ingenuity, brilliance and excellence.” The khšnüman or liturgical invocation of Ašá is “Ašá/Artá Vahistá;” most beautiful, wondrous, wow inspiring. In Yasna 35.7, Ašá has the epithet of sairä “superb” and in Yasna 37.4, raöch.ang.hvant, “luminous energy.”
The highest virtue according to the Ashem vohü manthra; is insight into the truth of things and goodness. All other virtues are derived from this original excllence. Happiness is the brightness and splendor of new horizons (úshtá.) And in this odyssey lies the most wondrous truth of Ahúrá Mazdá.
We read in the Vársht.manthar commentary that Ashem-vohü is the praising of excellence; which is itself the true awe/knowledge of Ahúrá Mazdá. It is the eternal progress of the worlds, the better state of prayers/visions, true happiness and illumination of the soul. Ashá /Artá is the light/energy of whoever exercises vision and wisdom for the good ruling of the worlds. Through the excellence and virtue of Ashá /Artá one becomes godlike ahü (Old Norse aesu and ansu;) and solver of riddles ratü (Old Norse raða, German. raten “to advise, counsel,” solve riddles/German rätsel.)
In Yasna 33.11, 2nd rhymed verse line; Ashá /Artá is called with the epithet of “world-furthering” frádat.gaätha. A true Mazdá-worshipper must be Ashavan or Artavan “possessed of Ashá /Artá.
Ashavan or Artavan is a being/person of the highest virtue; using all their abilities potentialities, effectiveness and wit to further the world and achieve real progress. For Ashá/Artá is explicitly linked with realization, and mastery. In an ancient Pahlavi commentary it is said that Vohüman dwells in one’s brilliant ideas, Srösh in one’s eloquent speech, but Ashá /Artá in one’s superb enterprise (Holy Dénkart 3.13-14).
What Ahúrá Mazdá has created through his “Auspicious, Bright Spirit;” all that which is speñtö.dáta, is described as being the “world,” “sphere,” “gaia” of Ašá/Artá; ašahyá gaäthá (Yasna. 31.1, , 2nd rhymed verse line, 2nd stanza and Yasna 43.6, 3rd rhymed verse line).
Furthermore, Artá (Modern Iranian ard-), occurs as an element in popular Zoroastrian/ Ancient Iranian personal names such as ardeshir, ardavan. (see Justi, Namenbuch, pp. 31-40).
Those pseudo intellectuals who equate Ashá/Artá with the mechanical laws of nature and/or status quo realities and call themselves erroneously gathic; have simply NO genuine knowledge of the poetic gathas.