Aša, Artha Artistry/Ingenuity that establishes the Order of the Worlds


April 22nd is the great festival of ašá/arthá in the Avestan calendar. In the Zoroastrian religious calculation whenever the name of the god being that presides over the month and the day coincide, there is cause for great joy, festivity and celebration and April 22nd is such a day.

Prophet Zarathûštrá invokes ašá/arthá more than any other god entity in his poetic gathas. Ašá/Arthá is an ahüric god force or god being of greatest importance in the Old Avestan sacred poetry.

Ašá/Arthá in the poetic gathas is “excellence, virtue, artistry, ingenuity, inventiveness, superb order.”

In Old Avestan poetry, ašá/arthá is a grammatical neuter such as in ašem and/or Vedic r̥tám. But when the seer/prophet wants to address ašá directly or represent ašá as a speaking figure, ašá/arthá becomes masculine.

 

This change in grammatical gender is identical to the Indo-Iranian god being of “pact/contract” Avestan Mithrö and/or Vedic Mitrá. Mitrá/Mithrö is the masculinized form of the neuter mitrám/mithrem “pact, contract.”

In Indo European poetry talents/virtues could be made into god beings by giving them an animate gender.

Avestan ašá and/or arthá, Vedic r̥tá and Latin ars, artus, ritus, are all referable to a root arright fit, precise arrangement, ingenious order.”

This root is well known outside Indo-Iranian because of it numerous formations. Among examples could be cited; Greek ararískō “fit, adapt, harmonize” Gr. artús “order,” artúnō “arrange, equip” Gr. árthron “joint, limb”; Latin arsartis, “qualification, talent” Lat. artus ‘joint’ ritus ‘rite.

In Indo European poetry everywhere the root ar is: “the right fit, precision, artistry, perfect order.”

We have a striking correlation between aśá/arthá and the concept of thémis designating family law in ancient Greek poetry.

Thémis is of heavenly origin, and the plural thémistes stands for the sum total of codes inspired by the gods, a collection of oracular responses which determine how to proceed every time the order of the génos “kin, race, creation” is at stake.

The phrase hḕ thémis estín, which is usually translated “as is fit and right” in Illiad.2, 72-73 is a fitting example. Here Agamemnon is speaking of how to exercise the thémis, which prescribes “the way he has to proceed and the usages to be observed.”

In Book 16 of the Iliad, l. 387, we see “the anger of Zeus towards men who deliver by the use of violence, unjust decrees thémistes.

In Illiad it is expressly stated: it is by virtue of divine order that the helmet which belonged to Achilles, must never be sullied with dust. This is because Achilles was a “godlike man” (anḕr theîos, l. 798.)

The connection between Old Avestan ašá/arthá and thémis in Illiad could be best demonstrated by the 2nd rhymed verse line of Yasna 31.7 of the poetic gathas: hvö ḵrathwá dámiš ašem//yá dárayat vahištem manö “his superior/unmatched wisdom is the deviser of artistry, excellence//which is upheld by the most wondrous spirit/mind.

Here dámiš ašem “devising of artistry virtue, excellence, ingenuity,” relates directly to the notion thémis. In fact, both dámiš and thémis come from the root dhe/ ðhe “to establish in a creative way, to establish into existence” by the gods.

The second part of Mazdá (God of Genius, Willpower, Mind) comes from the same exact root of dhe/ ðhe.

I shall conclude by stating that in Old Avestan poetry ašá/arthá “artistry, ingenuity, excellence, virtue, luminosity” is the wondrous self of god, (See Yansa 39.5, 3rd rhymed verse line.)

The god beings are divine because of their ašá/arthá because of their “virtue, talent, luminosity and ingenuity.”

Ašá/Arthá “artistry, ingenuity, inventiveness, excellence,” is what governs the worlds; the relations between Immortals and mortal men; and the relations of mortal men to other life forms and one another.

Without the ease of ašá/arthá everything is just disorder, injury, a lie or trick called drûj in the Avestan terminology.

ardeshir

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