April 22 marks the festival of ardá or ardá vahisht in the Zoroastrian calendar. Ardá or arthá is the same as ashá. In the Avestan, the sound “sh” is interchangeable with the sound “rt.”
Arthá, ashá or ardá is the same as Greek arête; “excellence, virtue, luminosity, brilliance, goodness.”
The ancient commentaries translate ashá/artá as “rásti ahúrmazd” meaning the truth of ahúrmazd, or the essence of God. Hence, virtue, goodness and brilliance is the essence of God in Zoroastrianism and God is God, because of his excellence, virtue and luminosity.
Arthá, ashá (excellence, virtue, goodness) and ahúrá (God) come from the same root, and the ancient commentaries translate ashá or arthá also as “ahuric virtues, ahuric skill, ahuric excellence, ahuric ability to make true or “ahráyih.”
Arthá or ashá vahisht is that WONDROUS ART or DIVINE SKILL that turns every opposition into an opportunity, every misfortune to good fortune, every hardship and adversity into ease and harmonious flow. The idea of ease, flow, artistic workmanship is fundamental to arthá or ashá.
It should be added that the ancient exegesis always adds the words “kár o kar-ôp,” or creativity, opus, masterwork as a footnote to ashá, ahráyih or ahuric essence/virtues.
Ashá/arthá is the art of overcoming limitations and opening new horizons. Avestan úshtá is the same as Germanic ôstara, refering to new horizons, new dawn and fresh, new radiance. The wondrous art/skill to make the ideal real and overcome the limitations is ashá or arthá. It is this very “wondrous art or ahüric skill” that in holy denkart, by a beautiful wordplay, is equated with the eyes (áish, compare with ashá) of the existence.
(The denkart exegesis refers to the first lines of Yasna 28.1 and Yasna 33.1 of the poetic gathas.)
arthá or ashá is NOT looking at the world as is, and accepting it; but it is the brilliance to look at the world and realize a better, more awe-inspiring creation.
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 wondrous possibilities.
And this possibility of infinite wonder, beauty and awe/vohü is the truth of ahúrmazd or “ashá.” Arthá is the wondrous skill to transmute and transform everything into a better and more awe-inspiring realization, hence its association with fire.
It is the eye, vision and the very core of existence. It is the formula of excellence, endless betterment and eternal progress.