The dominion of the Gods, rich pastures, and the oppressed tillers of the land in the Gathas of Zarathustra


The ancient Zoroastrian spirituality is unequivocally linked to agriculture, animal stewardship, and a celebration of the purity/bounty of nature expressed in the key agricultural festivals of the year.

The most sacred mantra in Zoroastrianism, ahü vairyö “will to become godlike,” states: that the “ahûric dominion or kingship of the Immortal Gods, will be given to those who strengthen/empower the downtrodden tillers of the land,” ḵšaθrem.čá ahûrái á//ýim drigû.byö da.dat vástárem.

Ahûrás are the “Original Immortal Gods of “creative artistry and cosmic order.” The term ahûrás is cognate with Old Norse æsir (plural) and Old Norse óss (singular.)

It is the ahûric dominion or kingship of the Immortal Gods ḵšaθrem.čá ahûrái á, that shall go to those who empower/restore the drigû.byö.

Because Zoroastrian spirituality is so inextricably linked to agriculture and animal stewardship, it is not difficult to understand how terms such as vástár and drigû in the sacred gathic verse, are associated with “rich pastures” and “tyrannized cultivators/growers of the land.”

​The term drigû is unique to ancient Indo Iranian, and it is the case that because some words are elsewhere unattested, the precise meanings of those very words are not exactly certain. Drigû is one such term.

The Old Avestan term drigû conveys the idea of “toil, hard labor, drudgery,” and refers to “the downtrodden, the oppressed cultivators, tillers, farmers and growers of the land who are subjected to the tyranny of the despot lords.”

Prophet Zarathustra imposed an “order of farming nobility” based on “love of animals, stewardship of the land, and fondness for all things that grow, and are fruitful.” This order of Zoroastrian “farming nobility” was opposed by “cattle-raiding warrior bands,” who designated their leaders as Adhrigu “lord,” (he who is NOT drigû).

These “warrior bands” called themselves also “man-wolves,” and mixed blood of the sacrificed cows with sacred mead/wine, in their orgiastic rites. Their cruelty toward innocent animals, and their bloody bovine sacrifices, were especially appalling to the ancient Aryan Seer/Prophet.

It shall be added that in the Vedic Mythology, Marutas, a “band of young warriors,” were Indra‘s shock troops who called Indra their “chief, lord,” Adhrigu (he who is NOT drigû.)

 (See Mircea Eliade A History Of Religious Ideas From The Stone Age To The Eleusinian Mysteries page 305.)

While Avestan drigû is UNIQUE to ancient Indo Iranian, and there exists NO apparent etymological connections, yet definite correspondences to the vocabulary for “warrior bands” in ancient Germanic can be made.

In ancient Germanic military vocabulary, Gothic driugan, meant to “serve as soldier,” Old Norse drjúg “to endure much hardship.” Old Norse drÿgja conveyed the idea of “carry, haul, drag with effort and force,” Old Norse drōttin was the word for the “the warrior elites, the lords,” as well as the Old English dryhten “chief, lord.”

The term drigû “comes 2 more times in the “hymns/songs” of Zarathustra, the gathas. We read in Yasna 34.5: “Through excellence, truth, and good mind or brilliant disposition//give shelter, protection to your downtrodden tillers of the land,” ašá vôhü man.aηhá//θrá.yöi.dyái drigüm ýüšmákem.

And finally the very last verse of the gathas states: “That kingship or dominion, Mindful lord, is Thine, whereby to the right living tillers of the land, is given the better, more excellent,” tat mazdá tavá ḵšaθrem ýá ereže.jyöi dáhî drigaôvæ vahyö.

The kingship or dominion of the Splendid Immortals shall be given to vástár who EMPOWER/STRENGTHEN the oppressed farming nobility drigû.

The Avestan word vástár refers to “rich pastures” originally, and is a term associated with “cause to feed, nourish, nurse, restore, strengthen, empower, and encourage the growth of.”

Avestan word vástár is cognate with Old Norse vist “food,” Gothic wisan “feast, cause to graze,” Gothic wizōn “indulge,” Latvian vesels “healthy, whole,” Old Church Slavonic, veselū “joyful,” Hittite wesi “pasture,” Hittite westara “herdsman.” The reconstructed Indo European root is *wes.

The ancient Indo-Europeans were pastoralists, and it was pleasant to imagine their “rich pasturelands” as symbols of “restoration, and renewed strength.”

For example a Hittite farewell ritual for a king included the prayer: Now, O Sun-god, confirm him in possession of this pasture! Let no one take it away from him (or) contest it legally! May oxen, sheep, horses, and mules graze for him on this pasture!

“Go to the meadow/pasture” was a Hittite expression for the blessed afterlife. Odysseus in Odyssey 11 sees the dead Achilles and Heracles going about in a bountiful pasture. The Latvian righteous dead are also imagined as having their herds in “rich pastures.”

Ancient Zoroastrianism has always maintained that it has NOT reformed anything, but RESTORED the pristine faith of the Aryans to its original purity, that is the celebration of the primordial ahûrás of the “cosmic order, ancient wisdom and virtue.”

Zoroastrianism, ancient or modern, ABHORS all forms of asceticism and poverty. It is a faith that celebrates the EMPOWERMENT of the oppressed farming nobility, the gentle gardeners of this good earth, and stewards of creation. It is to the very those who shall go the kingdom of the Gods.

ardeshir

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5 Responses to The dominion of the Gods, rich pastures, and the oppressed tillers of the land in the Gathas of Zarathustra

  1. GOOD ARTICLE, BUT DIFFICULT TO COMPREHEND

  2. Zaneta Garratt says:

    I loved this text, very interesting to read, very revealing too

  3. Carl Clemens says:

    “Adhrigu” in Veda refers to a protege of the Ashvins and/or Indra. It is usually translated as “Irresistable”. What exactly does “Dhrigu” mean in “drigû.byö da.dat vástárem”? Is it those who are “powerless”? But since “Adhrigu” is the negative, what does “Dhrigu” literally mean?

    • Drigú in the gathas and Avesta, refers to the oppressed farming nobility, the downtrodden tillers of the land who were subjected to the tyranny of the despot feudal lords. The Old Avestan term drigû conveys the idea of “toil, hard labor, drudgery.” It is suggested that the root is dhar to “hold back, restrain, draw together.”The “ahûric dominion or kingship of the Immortal Gods, will be given to those who strengthen/empower the downtrodden tillers of the land,” ḵšaθrem.čá ahûrái á//ýim drigû.byö da.dat vástárem. The kingdom of the Gods shall go to the oppressed farming nobility, the gentle gardeners of this good earth, and stewards of creation, according to the Zoroastrian doctrine.

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