Zoroastrianism; faith/belief in the ahura, æsir


The Zoroastrian worship implies a focus on faith/belief in the Ahûrá or Æsir. The Zoroastrian formula of faith ends with the words ahûra-tkaæšö “the teaching of the original god-powers.

Ahûrá or Ahûrö means “lordship, supreme ability, artful command to bring into existence/being.”

In the Vedas, ásura (Avestan ahûrá) are called pūrvá-devah “primeval divine forces.”

Avestan ahûrá, Vedic ásura is derived from ahü, Vedic ásu literally “possessing ahü or ásu.” Ahü or ásu is “life-force, power to become manifest, strength to come to life.” Ahûrás correspond to “original life-forces, archetypes that animate.”

Ahûrás are called amešá or amertá “immortal, undying and indestructible (*n̥mr̥tós) because of their “lordship over being.”

The stem ah-ü or as-u (=artful command) has a relative in Old English ós and in Old Norse aes/äs/áss as in Aesir (the gods, plural) or As-gard Old Norse “Ásgarðr” ” Enclosure of the Æsir.

The Germanic sub-branches have a stem ans- (ansu in runic), which means “power to animate, bring to life/existence/being.” C. Watkins connects the root with Hittite hassu and Old Irish eisi (2001: 7-9).

The reconstructed Proto Indo European *hánsus “god-power, force” (Skt ásuḥ “imposing, striking” ásuraḥ “godly, lordly, vigorously” Old Norse áss/ǫ́ss, pl. æsir and perhaps also Hittite ḫaššuš “sovereign” are all synonyms.

The godhood of ahûrás lies in their virtue, excellence and their miraculous skill, and/or their superb mastery of máyá, “wondrous wisdom, magical knowledge.”

Ahûrás very much resemble the titan Prometheus who brought the “secret of fire and illumination” to the world. They are the primeval god-powers and lords of being.

In the Vedas, Varuna is Ásura par excellence. Varuna is called the auspicious father ásura in Rig Veda 10.124.3, śáṃsāmi pitré ásurāya śévam.

Varuna is not identical to Mazdá Ahûrá, but the virtues and qualities that make Varuna, “ásura/god- power par excellence” are identical to Mazdá Ahûrá.

For example in Rig Veda 8.6.10, Varuna is medhām “mindful/ insightful” as to r̥tá “rhythms patterns and formulas of the cosmic order” medhām r̥tásya jagrábha.

In Rig Veda 7.087.04a, Varuna is called medhira “full of passion, mind-power and wit” uvāca me váruṇo médhirāya. The epithet medhira corresponds to hû-mánzdrá in the poetic gathas, (See Yasna 30.1, 3rd rhymed verse line.)

The closest definition for Ahûrá Mazdá in the Vedas is the term ásurasya māyáyā in RV 5.63.7 “magic of the ásuras, the magical substance, mind stuff of the æsir.”

5.063.07a     dhármaṇā mitrāvaruṇā vipaś.citā

5.063.07b     vratā́rakṣethe ásurasya māyáyā

5.063.07c     r̥téna víśvam bhúvanaṃ ví rājathaḥ

5.063.07d     sū́ryam ā́ dhattho diví cítriyaṃ rátham

Another most important fact is that all the original ásura or god powers in the Rig Veda such as Heat/Fire/Fervor, Soma “sacred elixir of immortality,” Mitra “amiable intercession, mediation,” Baga “good fortune” Aryaman “noble mind/disposition” Verethrem-já “victorious triumph” are god-powers and worthy of worship in the poetic gathas.

Óðinn, the greatest of the Aesir, with his association with “wisdom and powers of mind to recall and summon into being;” corresponds also very closely to ahûrá mazdá.

Thus the religious poetry of the poetic gathas unfolds into a multiplicity of ahûrás or god-beings. The gathic poetry shows the god-force as both Singular and simultaneously Plural (Mazdá and his ahûrás) See Yasna 30.9 and Yasna 31.4. Among other ways that the multiplicity and unity of the god-force is demonstrated, is by the simultaneous address to Thou and You in numerous sacred gathic verses.

However, the multiplicity of ahûrás or god-beings is always accompanied by a clear recognition that ultimately the many ahûrás are only names for the different aspects of Mazdá “the creativity and originality of mind-power, spirit, passionate will.”

Yet, it is of paramount importance to add that in the entire poetic gathas, the whole Avestan lore or anywhere in the ancient Zoroastrian literature there is NO TRACE of a shema or adonai echad like formula such as Deuteronomy 6: 4-9.

In conclusion, I shall emphasize that Zoroastrianism unlike almost all other Indo European faiths is against the worship of deus or deities and calls itself vî-daævö “without or opposed to diabolical deities.”

Avestan corresponds to Gothic wiþra, Old High German widar “against, opposed,” daævö corresponds to *dei̯u̯ṓs, “deity, heavenly gods.” Throughout Indo European poetry *dei̯u̯ṓs are anthropomorphic deified beings.

In Zoroastrianism, while devas are very real and not imaginary at all, they are not worthy of worship because of their despotism, arrogance and deviance from virtue and eternal quest for excellence and betterment.

In fact deities embody “trickster archetypal characters” in Zoroastrianism. They are considered diabolical, fond of bloodshed, warfare, animal sacrifice and all things that break/bend the rules of virtue, goodness and godliness.

Devas in the Avesta are linked to the drûj or drûg “deception, treachery, lie;” *dʰreu̯gʰ– “to deceive” Old Norse draugr “phantom,” Vedic dróghaḥ “deceiving,” Grk λάµια ‘female devourer ghost called *dʰu̯es.

Nonetheless, when the ancient Greeks encountered the ancient Aryan Iranians and attempted to map the Zoroastrian religion onto their own beliefs, they identified Ahura Mazda with Zeus, and Ahriman with infernal Hades.

I shall conclude by the Zoroastrian formula of faith:

Fra-varánæ mazda-yasnö zarathûštriš

vî-daêvô ahûra-tkaæšö

I choose forth to be a zealous worshipper of Mazdá “the inspiring, creative power of spirit/mind” a follower of Zarathushtra, opposed to diabolical deities, adhering to the teaching of the original god-powers, the ahûra, æsir.

ardeshir

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2 Responses to Zoroastrianism; faith/belief in the ahura, æsir

  1. zaneta garratt says:

    very interesting, Ardeshir,-when you write-

    In fact deities embody “trickster archetypal characters” in Zoroastrianism. They are considered diabolical, fond of bloodshed, warfare, animal sacrifice and all things that break/bend the rules of virtue, goodness and godliness.

    -this makes me think of the part Loke played in the Nordic mythology, he was the trickster supreme

  2. Sig says:

    Very interesting how connected the PIE cultures are.
    I wonder what happened in those lost days

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