Battle in the poetic gathas, ancient Zoroastrianism, and comparison with the Norse einherjar


An inherent sense of struggle for the sublime in the face of the forces of decay is characteristic of Zoroastrianism. Mazdyasna is a faith rooted in the unshakeable will power to “overcome, excel, and transcend,” to unleash/awaken the Titans or the original god-powers or Ahûrás within.

The Genius God Ahûrá Mazdá (Öhrmazd) and his brilliant Immortals perpetually struggle against the limited, abysmal anti-God añgrö (ahriman) and his diabolic, dark demons.

In Zoroastrianism, the Ahûrás are equated with the “inspiring creativity/genius” Mazdá of the cosmic order. Evil is a hostile distrust in the will to triumph and excel or Godhood. It is evil that brings disintegration, distortion and destruction, while God means victory over limitations and discovery of new horizons.

Man stands with valiance and heroic courage beside the brilliant Immortals, and fights in the great battle for eternal progress and ushering in of a new age of ever-higher consciousness. Through the battle/struggle of heroes and Immortal Gods against the powers hostile to excellence and light, mindfulness and genius are awakened, and the cosmic order reinvents itself anew.

In the poetic gathas, the word for “battle” is ýáh (iáh) and the word for “warrior” is ýáhî (iáhî.) The original meaning of the Avestan word for “battle” is to “act vigorously, be fiery.” Warrior is “one imbued with the force or vigorous activity.”

If the Greek word heros (hero, demigod) and Hērá (the embodiment of idealized female warrior, divine heroine) are in fact rooted in the reconstructed Indo European *įeh (*ya-,) the Greek words share at least a similar CONCEPT with the Avestan terms for “battle and warrior” in the sense of “vigorous activity and valiant struggle.”

In the poetic gathas, the “magnificent struggle or the great battle” (mazé ýáv.aη) is closely associated with “awakening or enlightenment” (baôd.añtö.) This association between “great, heroic struggle and awakening” has also a parallel in the Rig Veda. Avestan baôd “to awaken” is a cognate of Old English bēodan and Old Church Slavonic buditi, the blue-eyed Buddha or “the enlightened or awakened one” comes from the same root.

In Yasna 30.2, 3rd rhymed verse line, men are counseled: “to awaken to the wise sayings of the ahûrás prior to ushering in of the magnificent struggle or the great battle.” pará mazé ýáv.aη//ahmái né saz.diiái baôd.añtö paitî

The magnificent struggle or the great battle is linked to purging by fire and illumination in the gathas, See Yasna 36.2 3rd rhymed verse line, maziš.tái ýáv.aηhãm//paitî jam.iiáv.

The Zoroastrian accounts of the great battle and god warriors are eerily similar to the concept of einherjar. The einherjar are the warriors trained by Asgardians in Norse mythology. They are the elite troops of the æsir, preparing for the events of Ragnarök during that time they will advance for an immense battle at the field of Vígríðr.

The word einherjar refers to ein “one in a kind or especial” army of Odin, (Compare her to German Heer. “army troops.”) The last part of the word jar refers to “jolting, shaking or vigorous activity.” At Ragnarök, in the final battle between the gods and the giants, the einherjar will fight valiantly by the side of Óðinn. The Einherjar will march with Óðinn to battle the enemies of the Æsir. I shall add that æsir and ahûrás are cognates, and convey the same concept in the ancient Indo European lore.

In Zoroastrianism this great or immense battle/struggle awakens the godhood within man and nature, and ushers in a new age of Titans. The great battle is called meh kár in the ancient commentaries of the poetic gathas, and the bravest of warriors such as chieftain Vištásp and wise Jámásp are called kárîg, (See Yasna 46.14, 3rd rhymed verse line and Yasna 49.9, 5th rhymed verse lines.)

The Avestan word kár denotes “doing, making, building, creating.” In fact, the ancient commentaries equate the term with “building a new splendid world and the future invincible body.” Lithuanian kuriù “build, make, create” kērás “wonder-worker, magician” and keréti “enchantment, charm” all come from the same root and are cognates.

I shall conclude by stating that the most adorable god being “yazatá” in Zoroastrianism, and the most recited hymns of praise are to vərəθra.ghna “triumph, victory, the yazatá of combat/battle.”

ardeshir

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