Zoroastrianism, the first Indo-European Monism
It is widely and most erroneously believed that the main theme of prophet Zarathûthrá’s teaching was to replace the numerous ahûrás (Old Norse æsir) or god powers of the ancient Aryan religion with just one ahûrá, the supreme God or ‘Wise Lord’, Ahûrá Mazdá.
But the ancient Aryan prophet Zarathûshtrá talks in his poetic gathas of ma(n)zdá and his ahûrás or the supreme god-powers of Ma(n)zdá.
The Avestan term for Ma(n)zdá and his ahûrás is “ma(n)zd.ávß.čá ahûr.ávñg.hö.” The term appears in the poetic gathas; Yasna 30.9, 2nd rhymed verse line and Yasna 31.4, 1st rhymed verse line.
(Compare with Old Norse Skáldskaparmál 41 Óðni ok öllum ásum “to Odin and all the Aesir”, Skáldskaparmál 23 Óðins ok ása “of Odin and the Aesir”, Hávamál 143 Óðinn með ásum “Odin with the Aesir” (also Baldr: Gylfaginning 49 Baldrs ok ásanna Courtesy of Didier Calin)
The ancient commentary translates it as ahûrmazdič, “ahûrá mazdá in plural.” The term “ahûrmazdič,” or ahûrá mazdá in plural appears in addition to the two aforementioned verses, in Yasna 28.3, 2nd rhymed verse line and Yasna 33.14, 2nd rhymed verse line.
In the other parts of the Avestan lore, the plural term for ahûrás or supreme god powers “ahûr.ávñg.hö, ahüir.yávñg.hö” appears in the hymn to waters apö or Ábán Yasht. 85. And in the hymn to victory verethrem-já or Vahrám/Bahrám Yasht.39.
Also, in the concise Yasna 38.3, 2nd rhymed verse line another most beautiful hymn to waters, we read of ahûránîsh ahûrahyá, the ahûrás or god-forces of life giving waters.
In the poetic gathas, ahûrás are the “god beings” of Ma(n)zdá. Ahûrá comes from the root ahü (Compare with Old Norse áss, or óss) and means “god power.” The rune ansuz, the rune of godly and superb powers is connected to the æsirs (Compare with the Avestan ahûrá.)
Ahûrás of Ma(n)zdá are called auspicious or splendid immortals “ameshá/ amertá speñtás” in the later Avestan lore. (Compare with the Vedic Viśve Amṛtās “All the Immortals.”)
In Bagān yašt), in Dēnkard (8.15), Ahura Mazdā, is highest of all the gods (*wisp [ms. ystʾ] bayān abardôm), and the remaining invisible and visible adorable powers in the world (abārīg apaydāg ud paydāg gētīgān-iz yazdān) (Dēnkard, Dresden, p. 105 ; Madan, p. 692.
The Avestan and Old Iranian baga- derives from a word meaning “god” in Indo-European. The word for god bogŭ in the Slavonic languages is the same.
Compare with Old Persian Inscriptions . a.o. DPd 13f,21f,23f Aûramazdā … hadā visaibiš bagaibiš “Ahûra Mazdā with all the gods”, DB4 60f,62f Auûramazdā … utā aniyāha bagāha “Ahura Mazdā and the other gods” (Courtesy of Didier Calin)
○ Parthian M 4a II V 14, M 47 I V 8 /harwīn baγān/, M 6 Vii 14f /harwīn frēštagān butān ud baγān/ “all the angels, buddhas and gods” (Courtesy of Didier Calin)
The ahûrás are eternal within Mazdá’s mind/vision; hence they are called “a-paöûrvîm,” (See Yasna 28.3, 1st rhymed verse line.) The term “a-paöûrvîm” is the same as Vedic “apaurashaya,” a word that reveals their eternal and ever pristine status.
Their number has been cited as 7 (eternity, infinity) and 33 (infinite wisdom.) Yet the best description is in Vispered 8.1, where we read that their number is 50, 100, 1000, 10,000, beyond reckoning.
The term ahûrá applies to both spiritual god-powers and to god men.
(See Yasna 29.2, 3rd rhymed verse line, Yasna 29.10, 1st rhymed verse line, Yasna 34.15, 3rd rhymed verse line, Yasna 53.9, 3rd rhymed verse line. Also Compare with Bahrám Yasht 37, Farvardin Yasht 63, Rám Yasht 28.)
Through “the genius, vision, imagination and mind-power” of Mazdá/Ma(n)zdá; mortals will pass their limitations into ever-expanding horizons, conquering limitation after limitation, to the stature of being immortals, god-like or ahûrá.
Mazdá or more accurately Ma(n)zdá is the same as Vedic meðá, “thinking power, creativity, imagination and vision.”
Ma(n)zdá is the “passion, creativity, imagination, genius and vision, the ever-unfolding consciousness/mind energy in earth, mortal men and cosmos.” The Avestan root man denotes “spirit/mind, will power, sensuous force, fiery passion.” Mazdá, is the paradigm of “spirit/mind, will power, sensuous force, fiery passion, creativity and imagination.” Mazdá and/or Ma(n)zdá (*mens-dheh-) incorporates the Indo European noun *mens of the stem ménos (spirit/mind, will power, sensuous force) and the verb dheh “to set, establish, do, create.” (Courtesy of Didier Calin)
Hence, Mazdá means “setting mind power, spirit, sensuous force, fiery passion to do, create.” (Courtesy of Didier Calin)
Ahûrás are god powers because of their Ma(n)zdá, because of their power of spirit, their passion, their mind-energy, their thinking power, their imagination and their luminous vision.
In Yasna 40.1, 1st rhymed verse line, the prophet asks Ma(n)zdá ahûrá for Mazdá-ship (áhü at paitî adáhü/ma(n)zdá ahûrá Ma(n)zdám-čá.)
The above verse can be compared with the 3rd rhymed verse line of Yasna 34.13 where Ma(n)zdá,“passion, the enduring power of the spirit, intuitive vision, imagination, mind-power, wisdom” is the ultimate prize (mîždem.)
Mazdá or Ma(n)zdá is all the wisdom/foresight that the spirit will master, all the wondrous, powers of mind that will be unleashed, all the new horizons and unknown splendors that will be realized through the unseen powers of the spirit/mind.
In the 3rd rhymed verse line of Yasna 30.5; to have the delightful knowledge of the ahûrás (Literally ahûrem “godhood”) is through choosing Ma(n)zdá with all sincerity in action/enterprise.
In Yasna 39.4, 1st rhymed verse line, the prophet states that: “Just like you ahura mazda, I strive to be superb/wonderful; in mind/thinking, in words, in doings and in action, ” (Yathá tü î ahûrá ma(n)zdá méñg.ha.čá vaôčas.čá dávß.čá varesh.čá yá vôhü)
The ahûrás are god powers because of their “goodness, virtue and luminosity, because of their relentless striving for excellence, ashá/arthá, Compare with Greek arête.” (Ahûrem ašavanem; See Yasna 31.10,2nd rhymed verse line, Yasna 46.9, 3rd rhymed verse line.)
The poetic gathas teach monism and can be compared to a philosophical and poetic monotheism. Since they were composed in the early Iron Age, they represent the earliest documented instance of monism in an Indo-European religion.
In the poetic gathas, “mind, passion, spirit” is the all-pervading, true nature of reality. All existing things go back to a source of “mind-power, imagination and vision.”
The poetic gathas teach a metaphysical dualism, NOT between mind/spirit verses matter, but between states of consciousness, between the nonphysical modes or points of mind energy. Matter while transitory and imperfect is sacred, because it is a manifestation of thoughts, a reflection of the realm of mind/spirit.
The prophet is speaking of god powers or godlike qualities (ahûrás) which every ašavan/arthavan “person striving for virtue, excellence, goodness” must possess in him or herself to become godlike. The concepts, of godhood and passion, spirit or creative powers, seem frequently to blend, through the Immortals emanating from Ma(n)zdá.
The doctrine of the Immortals is thus central to Zoroastrian moral theology. Through worship, meditation, and enterprise/action each individual should strive to bring the spiritual auspicious immortals into his or her own being, thus becoming godlike.
Also there is nothing imaginary or unreal about the diabolic forces in the poetic gathas. The diabolic powers exist, and are very real, but they are destined for doom.
In the 1st rhymed verse line of Yasna 32.3, the prophet address the deities or demonic powers as “at yüsh daævá vîsp.ávng.hö” In this way, you all the demonic powers.”
The gathic term daævá vîsp.ávng.hö is the same as Vedic vishva dev “all the deities.”
In Zoroastrianism the deities are not worthy of godhood because of their cruelty and choice of limited spirit/mind. Godhood is reserved instead for thinking powers with luminous vision, unbounded spirit, imagination, light and goodness.