ANCIENT ZOROASTRIANISM, Martin Haug and biblical monotheism

Martin Haug was a DEVOUT protestant missionary and for all practical purposes, the founder of Ancient Iranian Studies. Haug was born on January 30, 1827 in Ostdorf near Balingen, Württemberg, Germany and died June 5, 1876 in Bad Ragaz, Kanton St. Gallen, Switzerland.

Haug’s magnum opus is Essays on the Sacred Language, Writings and Religion of the Parsis (Bombay, 1862.)

Haug’s impact on the interpretation of the Zoroastrian doctrine was and still is PROFOUND, especially among Parsis unsettled by the campaigning of yet another protestant missionary, the Scottish John Wilson.

Parsis always saw themselves as the cousins of the Europeans and simply could not understand the polemics of John Wilson against Zoroastrianism. Wilson passionately campaigned against the ancient Zoroastrian faith. Wilson condemned Zoroastrianism as PURELY PAGAN, and viciously attacked it as the heathen and amoral faith of the ancient Aryans.

Haug on the other hand, argued that Zarathushtra taught a pure, ethical monotheism and a philosophical dualism. Haug also insisted that prophet Zarathushtra’s teachings were grossly corrupted by later generations. Martin Haug completely overruled the importance of and/or even the relevance of the extensive ancient Avestan commentaries and the vast, rich Zoroastrian ancient traditions.

The Parsi priests by circa 19th century, knew virtually NOTHING of their sacred lore except elaborate rituals. They welcomed Haug’s wholly new, strict protestant interpretation of their ancient faith, because Haug’s views gave the Parsis acceptability and much respect in the eyes of the Christian Europeans.

But are the strict protestant interpretations of Haug concerning the ancient Zoroastrian faith at all accurate???

The ancient Aryan prophet Zarathushtra teaches mortals to become immortal gods, to achieve the essence and/or being of Godhood, to follow the path to Godhood, to do as Immortals do and become as Immortals are.

(See bagán 18.10, the bagán gathic commentary on Yasna 49.12. The term bagán is the plural of bag and refers to “godhood/god beings” and is the same as the word for “god” in Russian bog.)

The most sacred formula that commences the gathas is yathá ahü vairyö the “the will to become just god.”

Ahü the word for “god, master, ruler” comes from the Avestan root ah, Vedic as, Old Norse áss, the rune ansuz and Old English ōs. Ahü refers to “god-power, life-force or power to spark/ignite into being.”

Likewise the first word of the poetic gathas is ahyá “essence and/or inner godly being” (from the root ah/as) and the last word is vahyö “ever better.”

The idea of Godhood in the poetic gathas and Zoroastrianism is Progressive. The perfection of the god-beings/Immortals is in their eternal progress and advancement. The supreme greatness of the god beings is in their Being Mindful or Becoming Mazdá.

In the poetic gathas, the unsurpassed prize mîžd promised to the wise hû.dábyö is the Godhood of Mazdá himself (See Yasna 34.13, 3rd rhymed verse line.)

 hyat civištá hû.dábyö//mîždem mazdá ýehyá tü dathrem

We are also told in Yasna 40.1 that the sovereign gift that Mazdá gives in all existences is the state of being like Mazdá.

áhü at paitî adáhü mazdá ahurá mazdãm.čá

Notice the interesting wordplay in the gathic poetry between Mazdá, “the Mindful God of Inspiring Creativity” and the word for “Unsurpassed Prize” Miždá.

(Avestan mîžda “brilliant, exceptional or unsurpassed prize” is related to Gothic mizdo, Old Slavic mižda, Vedic mīḍha, Greek misthós (μισθός), Old English meord, [See Didier Calin]

In the poetic gathas and the Zoroastrian sacred lore, Godhood is ONE in virtue, excellence, goodness, eternal betterment and brilliant disposition. But there are an INFINITE number of Gods who follow the path of eternal progress, brilliance, goodness and Godhood.

The number of Immortals in Avesta is often quoted as 7 (eternity, infinity) and/or 33 (infinite wisdom.) Yet the best, most illuminating Avestan description comes in Vispered (vispa ratü) 8.1, where the number of Immortals is said to be 50, 100, 1000, 10,000, beyond reckoning.

Gathas conclude with airyémá išyö formula, the “Aryan or noble desire/ideal,” ending with the words ahûrö masatá mazdáv “to magnify/maximize the godhood of Mazda through inspiring creativity.”

If mortals have the potential to become a brilliant race of immortal gods, would that NOT contradict the idea of ONE god according to the Bible, for the biblical god is an insecure, jealous god, tolerating NONE other than himself???

In Avesta, evolved mortals are the allies and co-creators ham-kár of Ahûrá Mazdá “the Mindful God, the God of Imagination, Inspiring Creativity.”

Super humans and God-beings fight alongside the Supreme God Ahûrá Mazdá against angrá mainyu “the beaten spirit, limited mind-power, evil” in the same way as Odin’s valiant heroes are fighting alongside him at the final battle of Ragnarök.

It is accounted in the poetic gathas that in the final battle “what is mortal mašyá/martyá and diabolic daæváiš.čá will be conquered in immortality ameretáitî” (See Yasna 48.1, 3rd rhymed verse line.)

ameretáitî daæváiš.čá mašyáiš.čá

To become godlike means to have the will power and determination to overcome obstacles, to beat the odds, to think like titans and become the masters of destiny.


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