Immortality and the eternal quest for excellence

In the ancient Indo-European thought and speech there are 2 races, the race of the Immortal Gods, the heavenly celestials, and the race of mortals or the earthlings. The gods are heavenly and the mortal men are from the earth. The Lithuanian word for “man” žmōgus literally means “earth-goer or earth-wanderer.” In ancient Iranian, the word for “mortal” Avestan mašiiá/martiiá, Modern Persian mard, is synonymous with “mankind.”

Decay and death are associated with the earthlings, while the gods are exempt from them both, for the gods are immortal, as well as un-ageing and eternally youthful ûta.yüiti.

In the poetic gathas, ameretát is a term that refers both to “Immortality” and the “Immortals,” but is not understood in terms of heavenly beings or earthlings, but rather in the context of “eternal quest for greater becoming.”

In fact, in the Zoroastrian sacred lore, the ham.kárs “co-workers or co-creators” of ameretát “Immortality,” are rašnü (Compare with Latin rectus) “being upright/high-minded,” arštát “to arise, excel,” and zãm “the earth” which nourishes all growing things and plants.

Ameretát “deathlessness,” in the gathic songs, is a “boundless dimension of creativity.” The first time that ameretát “Immortality,” appears in the poetic gathas, it comes in connection with ašá/arthá “the cosmic order, superb artistry, excellence/truth,” ašahiiá ameretáčá.

A famous Avestan passage states: that “the one or only path, is that of ašá/arthá excellence/truth” aævö pañtáv ýö ašahæ, hence the only thing everlasting is “the undying quest for excellence.”

In the Zoroastrian sacred poetry, Immortality is about triumph of the spirit over limitations, and cosmic development into godhood.

Mortal men are not doomed to a dismal death in the realm of shadows, instead earthlings are destined to live with the Immortal Gods as god-men, and their faith is to arise, go beyond, overcome themselves and excel.

The last time that ameretát appears in the gathas is about the immanence of “Immortality” in trees, and comes in connection with the “undying powers of growth.”á ûrvar.ávs.čá//ameretá.tá haûrvátá, (Compare Avestan ûrvar with Latin arbor “tree.”)

I shall add that Avestan ameretát, Vedic amṛta and Greek ambrosia are all etymologically related, and come from the reconstructed proto Indo European ṇmṛtós, bearing all the same meaning.

The connection between “nectar and immortality” can also be clearly seen in the first rhymed verse line of Yasna 34.11 of the poetic gathas.

However, the Zoroastrian view of Immortality or the Immortals can be grasped only within the notion of “innovation, discovery, artistry, cosmic order and eternal progress.” Partaking of the nectar of immortality means to overcome, and evolve ever higher and better.

As a tree is like a link/ladder between the worlds, stretching ever higher into the sky. So is mortal man, a bridge over the abyss, into becoming a god-man, and Immortality is an eternal quest for ever greater becoming!

The Auspicious Immortals amešá/amertá speñtás or the ahûrás of mazdá, are Immortals because of their brilliance. Avestan speñtá, Old Slavonic svętŭ and Lithuanian šventas, refer to inextinguishable/indestructible “brightness, radiance, luminosity, vividness and vigor of life.”

In the Avestan prayers, ameretát is invoked with the White Höm or gaô.karəna, the “chief of all healing plants”. The white haômá/höm is the delightful nectar that holds the formula/remedy for eternal youth, and will be prepared at the yasna invocation (literally zealous yearning/desire,) right before the splendid remaking, fresh creation of the worlds frašö.kart.

When the wondrous kingdom/dominion of ahûrá mazdá, “the supreme god of inspiring creativity” is established, there will exist inexhaustible energy/unfailing health haûrva.tát, and deathlessness ameretát, for the future tangible body that will come to pass (tan ī pasîn.)

According to the Avestan Zãm Yašt or the “hymn to the earth,” the creation will become “un-ageing, undying, un-decaying, un-rotting” (Yt. 19. 11).

A new age of “innovation, discovery and eternal progress” will usher in. Immortals will replace the demon gods and mortal men ameretá.iti daæváiš čá mašiiá.iš-čá/martiiá.iš.čá, and there will be the dawn of the age of the god-men.

In the Zoroastrian calendar, the seventh day of each month, and the second month of summer (or the fifth month in the religious calendar,) are dedicated to ameretát “IMMORTALITY,” called amôrdád in Persian. The special feast of ameretát is around July 24-25.

Since haûrva.tát is the lord over waters and delightful liquids, and ameretát is the master of trees, healing plants, nourishment and food, to eat/drink while chattering and/or arguing is a major offense against haûrva.tát “healing powers” and ameretát “deathlessness, immortality” in the Zoroastrian religiosity.

Food and drink are to be savored and enjoyed in peace. The rule is to recite an Avestan formula before each meal, and quietly take pleasure in eating food and/or drinking, without having any conversations or arguments.





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