Cosmic order and the concept of Sin in the poetic gathas

Zoroastrian religiosity is not slavery to a despotic god. It contains none of the commandments of a downtrodden slave to his all-powerful lord. Zoroastrian jurisprudence and morality comprises rather the confiding fulfillment of a mutual community between Immortals and god men.

Men are friends of the Immortals and co-creators ham-kár with the god-force. The belief in the Gods as friends corresponds to the idea of kinship between the high-minded, virtuous mortals and the God beings.

This kinship rests above all on the view that Gods and men are bound through creativity, artistry, cosmic order, truth, and virtue ašá/arthá.

In the Zoroastrian sacred poetry God/Godhood is again and again regarded as creativity/brilliant mind power ruling through the cosmic order, virtue and truth ašá/arthá.

Ašá/Arthá is the same law of goodness/virtue bounding both Gods and men. It is the creative ordering principle of the worlds.

In the Avestan, Superb Order or what is fitting best (Reconstructed Proto Indo European*hértus) has shifted to an association with cosmic order but the underlying idea is always that of “superb artistry, creative technique and excellence.”

Latin artus “joint” Greek artús “arranging, arrangement,” Middle High German art “innate feature, nature, fashion,” Old Irish uisse “just, right, fitting,” Old Church Slavonic istū are all cognates of ašá/arthá.

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. In Indo European poetry an excellence/virtue could be made into a god power by giving it an animate gender.

Prophet Zarathûštrá invokes ašá/arthá more than any other god force in his poetic gathas. In ancient Avestan poetry ašá/arthá “artistry, ingenuity, excellence, virtue, luminosity” is the wondrous self of godhood, (See Yansa 39.5, 3rd rhymed verse line.)

The Gods are God because of their ašá/arthá because of their “virtue, excellence, luminosity and creative artistry.” It is this “creative artistry and ordering principle” that governs the worlds; the relations between Immortals and mortal men; and the relations of mortal men to other life forms and one another.

Ašá/Arthá is closely associated with *dhéh-men “creation through passion, energy, inspiring mind-power/spirit” and Greek thémis law. In fact, Mazdá (*mendhéh) “God of Inspiring Creativity, Greek thémis “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” and Avestan dámiš ALL come all from the root dhe “to establish in a creative way, to establish into existence” by the gods.

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 brilliant spirit/mind.

In Yasna 31.7 of the poetic gathas, dámiš ašem “devising of wondrous technique, excellence, cosmic order” relates directly to the notion thémis.

Without the ease of ašá/arthá everything is just disorder, injury, a lie or trick called drug and/or drûj in the Avestan terminology, (Compare drûg/drûj with Old Norse draugr ghost, German trug trick, lie.)

The word for sin in the poetic gathas/Avestan is aæna “injury, damage,” Sanskrit énas “sin guilt,” Reconstructed Indo European *hei “assail,” Hittite inan “illness.”

The word appears about 12 times in the sacred poetry of the ancient prophet and it refers to whenever the timeless order of ašá/arthá, within which both the brilliant Immortals as well as high-minded mortals have their luminous office/destiny is desecrated.

Aæna is a violation of nature and the cosmic order. It is a lie, trick against truth. It comes in close association with Avestan kaæná “compensation, restitution, consequence” Lithuanian káina “price,” Old Church Slavonic cēna, (See Yasna 30.8, 1st rhymed verse line.)

There is NO eternal damnation or everlasting punishment in Zoroastrianism, only going through the consequence of a violation against the cosmic order/truth. Immortals and men are forever bound together in goodness, virtue and excellence.

Gods are Goodness and Eternal Betterment. The injury of aæna against the sacred duty within the cosmic order is corrected by going through the consequences of the chaos caused, and is purged by learning, illumination.





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3 Responses to Cosmic order and the concept of Sin in the poetic gathas

  1. zaneta garratt says:

    I loved reading this hopeful almost poetic scrift, it speaks of the wondrous relationship between Ahura Mazda and us, especially loved this sentence-“There is NO eternal damnation or everlasting punishment in Zoroastrianism, only going through the consequence of a violation against the cosmic order/truth. Immortals and men are forever bound together in goodness, virtue and excellence.”

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

  3. Yes, I agree. Such great energy is awe inspiring. I love it. Great redefinition of sin as illness, injury damage, and desecration of our holy office and glorious calling.

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