The word for “prize” in the poetic gathas is mîždá, it signifies “reward, recompense or prize for a brilliant adventure.” Avestan mîždá is a term common to Indo-Iranian, Greek, Germanic and Slavic.
Mîždá is related to Greek misthós (μισθός), Vedic mīḍha, Old English meord, Gothic mizdo, Old Slavic mižda. [Courtesy of Didier Calin]
The Vedic term mīḍha “prize in a competition” also Vedic mīḍhvas “magnanimity,” the term for “greatness, bountifulness and generosity” are all connected.
The Avestan mîždá “hard-won prize” is to be found in this life and in the promised world to come—awarded to the one who emerges victorious from a struggle or a competition.
Right at the beginning of the Odyssey (1, 5), where the subject is the tribulations of Odysseus, the hero, of whom the poet asks the muse to sing, ἀρνύμενος ἥν τε ψυχὴν καὶ νόστον ἑταίρων ‘he who seeks to gain his own life and the return of his companions’.
By hard struggles and in the course of many trials over which he triumphs, he wins the prize, which is to have saved his life and secured the return of his companions.
In the poetic gathas, the hard-won prize, the prize gained by the victor in a hazardous exploit is “godhood or divinity” the virtue and wisdom “to become godlike.”
We read in the 3rd rhymed verse line of Yasna 34.13; hyat civištá hû-dábyö//mîždem mazdá ýehyá tü dathrem “the promised reward to the wise, to the creators of good//of which you are the prize Mazdá.”
In Yasna 40.1 of the poetic gathas, Mazdá, the quintessence of ahûrá or godhood is asked for mazdá-ship, “power of the spirit, will, mind to create, manifest and triumph.”
It is the potential of a superior godman, who justifies the existence of the human race. Friedrich Nietzsche, in Also sprach Zarathustra (1883–85) could not have said it better that Zarathushtra, spoke thus: Man is a rope, tied between beast and superman-a rope over an abyss. What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end.
The poetic gathas teach that humans can become gods. We have to learn how to be Gods ourselves. We believe that in the ages to come, through the creative power of spirit/mind, through triumph of the will, mortal man at last may become like God – a God.”
The poetic gathas teach that mortal men can become divine, that man is potentiality of godhood limited by mortality for now, and that the only difference between Gods, angels and men is a difference in their power of spirit/mind, their will to triumph over all obstacles and limitations, their creativity and power of imagination.
In Mazd-yasná; God never stops progressing. Mazdá is constantly increasing his power of spirit/mind and creativity; constantly developing in wisdom/virtues and brilliant aspirations.
And our ultimate triumph, our hard-won prize is to become a God like Mazdá, through triumph of the will, through the creative power of spirit/mind.