The concept of Purity and Morality in Zoroastrianism

In Kant’s Opus Postumum is found the remark: If we wished to form a concept of (biblical) God from experience, then ALL MORALITY (what is JUST and RIGHT) WOULD FALL AWAY and ONLY DESPOTISM BE LEFT.” Therefore, concluded Kant, one would have to assume that such a god has NO REGARD FOR THE HAPPINESS of his creatures.

In Zoroastrianism, the word for morality is identical with PURITY. In Avestan, purity is called yaôž.dá and in the Zoroastrian sacred poetry yaôž.dá is understood as “PURITY of the VITAL ENERGY/FORCE” that is immune to defect, decay, decline and disease.

Yaôž.dá is “JUST the precise right formula for life energies” resulting in optimal wellness, happiness, prosperity and the correction of any defect, distortion or defilement.

Avestan yaôš and/or yaôž, refers to “pristine vital energy, right balance/formula, model happiness and prosperity.” It allows life not only to survive but also to thrive.

The verb yaôž.dá can be compared with reconstructed Proto Indo European yewes, yewos, iéuos, “the right formula/rule” ious-dik “pronouncer of the correct rule/precept” Vedic yós “model happiness and prosperity” Old Irish uisse, Old Latin ious, Latin iūs and Proto Germanic justaz, (pronounced yustaz) “the right law & order, true justice.”

(*yéw(o)s- for “law” and “yous-dik'” (“law pronouncer > judge” as in Latin iûdex) with a palatal [k’] usually written with the tiny “hat” on the /k/ See Didier Calin)

The second part of the compound yaôž. comes from the Indo European root *dhē-, “to put, establish.” Here we find the idea of “that which is established in “pure, pristine vitality and impeccable life force.” And this very idea sums up the Zoroastrian Morality, NOT as hindering rules or shackles but “just the right formulas for the blossoming of life energies.”

In Zoroastrianism, sin arises wherever an individual defies or threatens this “right balance of the life force” and opposes “the cosmic order.” For such guilt an individual incurs decline, distortion and degeneration or what is called impurity.

This is because Zoroastrianism is a religion of healthy mindedness and right balance of the life forces and NOT the religion of the sick, suffering and diminishing spirit.

Zoroastrianism promotes Happiness, Purity, Equilibrium and “Just the right balance of life energies/forces” in all the material and spiritual aspects of being. For the Gods embody the superb order of cosmos and are only the bringers of “wellness, happiness and prosperity!”

We read in the poetic gathas, Yasna 48.5, 3rd rhymed verse line:

Ýaôž.dáv mašyái aipî zánthem vahištá

The law of purity for mortals in addition to genesis/birth/descent is the best boon”

Ýaôž.dáv is “the law of purity/the right formulas for the blossoming of life energies;” mašyái/martyái is the word for “mortals;” aipî means “upon, in addition to” (Compare with Vedic ápi “in addition to,” Greek epí, “upon, on top of;”) zánthem from the root zan means “genesis/birth/descent;” vahištá refers to “what is the BEST, highest advantage, boon, blessing.”

Váršt-mánßar commentary of the above gathic verse translates yaôž.dáv as “establishing the divine rule through pure, pristine vitality, through the law of purity” and thereby becoming a yazatá “an adorable god-being.”

The above sacred verse is the basis of all the Zoroastrian jurisprudence.

The sacred gathic verse above links the value of birth and pride in inborn nobility with blossoming of life energies, vitality and the law of purity. This sacred formula has become the very basis of all the Zoroastrian jurisprudence.

Family, kinship, worship, the spiritual life, land, hearth, house, pets, happiness and farm, the seasons of the year and the festivals; all are related in a world order, and in this order mortal man lives as a member of his genos, governed by the laws of virtue, purity and nobility (cf. also Johannes Hertl: Die Awestischen Jahreszeitenfeste.)

I like to conclude by the following Avestan passage from the vî-daævö-dátá (Vendidad 11, 2a:)

ýaôž.dáta átrem ýaôž.dáta ápem ýaôž.dáta zãm ýaôž.dáta gãm ýaôž.dáta urvarãm ýaôž.dáta narem ašavanem ýaôž.dáta náirikãm ašaônîm ýaôž.dáta staærš ýaôž.dáta máv.ang.hem ýaôž.dáta hvare ýaôž.dáta anaghra raôcáv ýaôž.dáta vîspa vôhü mazda.dháta aša.čithra.

“Energized/Purified shall be the fire, energized/purified shall be the water, energized/purified shall be the earth, energized/purified shall be the livestock, life, energized/purified shall be the tree, energized/purified shall be the heroic man, energized/purified shall be the heroine woman, energized/purified shall be the stars, energized/purified shall be the moon, energized/purified shall be the sun/helios, energized/purified shall be the boundless lights, energized/purified shall be all the good species that Mazda has established in virtue, excellence, goodness.”




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2 Responses to The concept of Purity and Morality in Zoroastrianism

  1. Pingback: Mazda, Odin and the Sacred Fire of Zoroaster – rainwindandwolf

  2. Pingback: Mazda, Odin and the Sacred Fire of Zoroaster

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