Wojtek, the Iranian Soldier-Bear of Monte Cassino, and the soul of the animals in the poetic Gathas


Recently the History Channel has aired a short story about Wojtek, the Iranian bear soldier of Monte Cassino. The account of RYSZARD ANTOLAK, the Polish writer, poet, and blogger is probably the most heartfelt and accurate of all stories concerning the soldier bear.

Antolak was born in the late 1950s, and is a gifted writer. He lives in Scotland, and has found Zarathustra by accident. Antolak’s narration best grasps the true meaning of géûš ûrvá the “soul of the animals” in the poetic gathas of the ancient seer/prophet Zarathustra.

The first verse of the gathas conclude with the following words: ýá šnevîšá géûš.čá ûrvánem “to delight the soul of the primordial cow/the totality of all creatures or animals.”

Avestan géûš is the “primordial cow,” the personification of all animal life. Parallels could be drawn between Avestan géûš and the Greek concept of GAIA. In Avestan gaiia is life, and the primordial cow géûš is the progenitor of all animal and plant life, and is almost identical to the Norse account of primeval cow Auðumla.

Avestan géûš is the “primordial cow,” the personification of all animal life. Parallels could be drawn between Avestan géûš and the Greek concept of GAIA. In Avestan gaiia is life, and the primordial cow géûš is the progenitor of all animal and plant life, and is almost identical to the Norse account of primeval cow Auðumla.

The first sacred verse talks about the SOUL of the animals, and the sacred duty to delight šnevîšá the spirit of all the creatures. The ancient commentaries of this verse emphasis are on “the loving stewardship of the ANIMAL LIFE.”

Avestanšnevîšá comes from the root šnû to “greatly delight.” It appears that the original meaning of the term is “to sharpen, cause to shine, make radiant.”

To delight the soul/consciousness of the animals, and judicious stewardship of the living worlds is a most repeated and fundamental tenet of the Mazda-Worshiping religion or Zoroastrianism. The true account of Wojtek touches on the consciousness and beautiful soul of the animals. May Wojtek’s memory and soul be always be shinning and bright.

ardeshir

 

After the Battle of Monte Cassino, one of the fiercest and bloodiest conflicts of the Second World War, many accounts emerged of the bravery and heroism of the soldiers. But perhaps the strangest story of all was of an Iranian brown bear who served alongside the allied soldiers in the worst heat of the battle. Despite the incessant bombardment and constant gunfire, the bear carried vital supplies of ammunition and food to his fellow-soldiers fighting on the mountainside. Many observers who witnessed his remarkable actions doubted the reality of what they were seeing. But the story was no legend

At the time of his death in 1964, he was the most famous bear in the world, visited by countless celebrities and adored by the international press. Books and articles were written about him, statues and plaques commemorated his actions. To the men of the 22nd Transport Company (Artillery Supply) however, he was merely “Voytek” a remarkable fellow soldier, and their beloved comrade.

He was born in the mountains of Hamadan, in one of the many caves to be found in that dusty mountainous area. At the age of eight weeks his mother was killed by a group of hunters, but he was rescued by a young Iranian boy who thrust him into a hempen sack and set off with him homeward along a narrow dusty path.

Iran at that time was going through one of the unhappier periods of her history. Occupied by the Russians and the British, her relations with the soldiers of those two countries were understandably tense and strained. In April 1942, however, Iran opened its arms to receive hundreds of thousands of Polish citizens (men, women and children) who had been released from the Soviet labour camps of Siberia and Kazakhstan. Having arrived at the port of Pahlevi (now Bandar-e Anzali), they were suffering from various diseases, including malnutrition, and had to be rested in the vast tented city hastily built for them on the shores of the Caspian. When they were well enough to travel, however, they were taken to more substantial military and civilian resettlement camps all over Iran.

Most of the civilians (women and children) were destined to remain as guests of Iran for up to three years. But the able-bodied men were almost immediately sent westwards to join the Polish forces in Lebanon. A long stream of covered trucks left Anzali daily carrying the future soldiers along the narrow twisted roads via Qazvin, Hamadan and Kermanshah to the borders of Iraq and beyond.

It was on one of the narrow mountain roads somewhere between Hamadan and Kangavar, that the trucks were brought to an abrupt halt by the sight of a small Iranian boy carrying a bulky sack. He looked tired and hungry, so the men offered him a billy-can of meat. And as he ate, they gasped in astonishment as the sack beside him began to move and the head of a honey-coloured bear cub emerged sleepily into the sunlight.

Although none of the men could understand Farsi, the boy was able to indicate by his actions that he had found the bear cub whimpering outside one of the caves, its mother having been shot by a hunter. The orphaned cub was in poor condition and it was almost certain he would not survive the day. One of the men, therefore, offered to buy the orphaned cub for a few toumans. Someone else fumbled for a bar of chocolate and a tin of corned beef to give him. Another took from his pocket an army penknife that opened up like a flower. The boy smiled, pocketed the offerings and disappeared forever from their lives.

A feeding bottle was hastily improvised from an empty bottle of vodka into which a handkerchief had been stuffed to serve as a teat. They filled it with condensed milk, diluted it with a little water, and gave it to the little bear to drink. When he had finished it, he crept up close to one of the soldiers for warmth and fell asleep on his chest. The soldier’s name was Piotr (Peter) and he became forever afterward, the bear’s closest and most enduring friend.

The cub clung desperately to his substitute mother all through the tortured journey across Persia, Iraq and Jordan, along vast distances that seemed to loose heart and succumb to the despair of barrenness. Sometimes the man would lock the bear in the warmth of his greatcoat so that it became part of him. In the evenings, as he sat with the other men around the fire telling tales late into the night, the bear cub would be rocked to sleep in the sound of his immense laughter. In time, the orphan lost himself in the lives of these strangers and entangled himself completely in the rhythms and cadences of their speech. From that time onwards he became wholly theirs: body, will and soul.

In this way, Voytek the Iranian brown bear from Hamadan entered the lives of the soldiers of the Second Polish Army Corps, transforming all their destinies.

In the months that followed, he won over the hearts of all who met him. The soldiers, who had all endured the horrors and hardships of Siberia, needed something in their lives to love, and the presence of Voytek was a wonderful tonic for their morale. Despite his brute strength, which grew day by day, he was always an amiable and a gentle giant. The soldiers treated him from the start as one of their own company and never as a pet. They shared their food with him, allowed him to sleep in their tents at night and included him in all their activities. If the unit was ordered to march out, he would march with them on two legs like a soldier. When they were being transported to some distant location, he would ride in the front seat of the jeeps (or transport wagons) to the great amazement of passers-by. More than anything, however, he loved to wrestle with the soldiers, taking on three or four of them at a time. Sometimes he was even gracious enough to allow them the courtesy of winning. Over the next few years, he shared all their fortunes, and went with them wherever they were posted throughout the Middle East. He grew to be almost six feet tall and weighed 500 pounds.

In early 1944, the men of Voytek’s unit were ordered embark for Italy to join the Allied advance on Rome. The British authorities gave strict instructions that no animals were to accompany them. The Poles therefore enrolled Voytek into the army as a rank-and-file member of their company and duly waved the relevant papers in front of the British officers on the dockside at Alexandria. Faced with such impeccable credentials, the British shrugged their shoulders and waved the bear aboard. In this way, Voytek the Iranian bear became an enlisted soldier in the 22nd Transport Division (Artillery Supply) of the Polish 2nd Army Corps.

Monte Cassino was the strategic key to the allied advance on Rome. Three bloody attempts by the British, Americans, Indians, French and New Zealanders to dislodge the enemy from the famous hill-top monastery had failed. In April 1944, the Polish forces were sent in. It was one of the bloodiest battles of the war. Much of the fighting was at close quarters. The shelling, which continued night and day without interval, scarred and cratered the landscape until it resembled the pock-marked surface of the moon.

During the most crucial phase of the battle, when pockets of men were cut off on the mountainside desperately in need of supplies, Voytek, who all this time had been watching his comrades frantically loading heavy boxes of ammunition, came over to the trucks, stood on his hind legs in front of the supervising officer and stretched out his paws toward him. It was as if he was saying: “I can do this. Let me help you”. The officer handed the animal the heavy box and watched in wonder as Voytek loaded it effortlessly onto the truck. Backwards and forwards he continued, time and time again, carrying heavy shells, artillery boxes and food sacks from truck to truck, from one waiting man to another, effortlessly. The deafening noise of the explosions and gunfire did not seem to worry him. Each artillery box held four 23 lbs live shells; some even weighed more than a hundred. He never dropped a single one. And still he went on repeatedly, all day and every day until the monastery was finally taken. One of the soldiers happened to sketch a picture of Voytek carrying a large artillery shell in his arms, and this image became the symbol of the 22nd artillery transport, worn proudly on the sleeves of their uniforms ever afterwards and emblazoned on all the unit’s vehicles.

Now famous, he completed his tour of duty in Italy and when the war was over, he sailed the Polish Army to exile in Scotland. Here, once again, he found himself a celebrity. In Glasgow, people lined the streets in their thousands to catch sight of the famous soldier-bear marching upright in step with his comrades.
Voytek’s last days, however, were steeped in sadness. In 1947, the Polish army in Scotland was demobilized and a home had to be found for him to live out his retirement.

Although he was world-famous, the bear of Monte Cassino was forced to spent his last years behind bars in Edinburgh’s Zoological gardens. Artists came to sketch him and sculptors to make statues of him. Sometimes his old army friends arrived to visit him, leaping over the barriers to wrestle and play with him in the bear enclosure (to the utter horror of all the visitors and zoo officials). But he did not take well to captivity, and as the years passed, he increasingly preferred to stay indoors, refusing to meet anyone.

I was lucky enough to see him just before his death in 1963. He was sitting at the back of his large enclosure, silent and immobile. It was said that he was sulking, angry at being abandoned by those he had loved. Others said he was merely showing the symptoms of old age. None of the shouts from his assembled visitors seemed to catch his attention. But when I called out to him in Polish, something seemed to stir in him at last, and he turned his head towards me as if in recognition.

He died in Edinburgh at the age of 22 on 15th November 1963. A plaque was erected in his memory by the zoo authorities. Statues of him were placed in the Imperial War Museum in London and in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. But although he had entered the pages of military history, the Iranian soldier-bear of Monte Cassino would have preferred to remain in the company of the soldiers with whom he had shared five years of war and countless memories of devoted companionship.

 

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Mid Winter Yule and parallels with the Avestan Mid-Year festival


Yule was an indigenous midwinter festival celebrated by the Germanic peoples. Yule-tide fell between what is now mid-November and early January.

Similarly, the Avestan Maiδ-yaar literally “mid-year” was/is the second, most sacred Zoroastrian festival after the Vernal Equinox, falling in early January (4th or 5th depending on the leap year.)

The Avestan yaar “year” is a cognate with Old Church Slavonic jara, German Jahr, Luvian āra/i, and Greek hōros, and refers to “turning points, new season/time” in addition to “year.” In the Avestan original, gahan-bar or “gatha banquets” are referred to as yaair.iia ratvö  “sacred rituals/festivities around the turning points of the year.”

Andreas Nordberg suggests that the heathen Scandinavian lunisolar calendar was also divided into turning points, marked with festivals and religious gatherings.

The ancient Zoroastrians reckoned “time/year” according to winters, hence, the association of Maiδ-yaar with the winter festivities.

Of important note here is that both the Yule tide and the Zoroastrian Maiδ-yaar festival suggest that the new year started in summer. While Vernal Equinox marks the beginning of the new-year in the Avestan calendar, both the ancient and royal calendars of the Iranian and Parsi Zoroastrians, reckon the beginning of the new-year from summer.

The 6 Avestan yaair.iia “turning points,” known as gahan-bar or “gatha banquets” in the later literature are as follows:

Maiδyö.zarəm.iia “mid-spring;” or literally “middle of the greenery and flowers season,” is the first sacred turning point of the year, (Compare Avestan zarəm.iia with Russian zelënyj “green.”) Maiδyö.zarəm is the festival of the pure essence/nectar of flowers and plants. However, the word for SPRING in the Avesta is vanri, a cognate of Latin vēr and Old Church Slavonic vesna.

Maiδyö.šam means “mid-summer,” the arrival of summer was/is most important in the Zoroastrian calendar, and has always been celebrated with huge outdoor bonfires and festive spirit.

Paitiš.hahya, is the “harvest time festival.” Paitiš alludes to “footsteps, direction, passage” and hahya means “grain, fruit, crops,” (Compare Avestan hahya with Welsh haidd, Briton heiz, “rye, barley,” Vedic sasya “seed-field, crop,” Hittite sesa(na) “fruit.”) It is a time to celebrate the bountifulness of nature.

Ayáθrima is the time/season for RETURNING of the livestock to their shelters before winter sets in. The word translates as “returning, homecoming.” The livestock are colorfully decorated, and walked around or between bonfires.

Maiδ.yaar.iia literally means “mid-year.” This is the second most sacred festival in the Avestan lunisolar calendar. The fact that “mid-winter” is called Maiδ-yaar “midyear,” suggests a calendar in which the year was reckoned from the summer. The word for WINTER in the Avesta is ziimá (Compare with Russian zimá, Latvian ziema, Lithuanian žiemâ.)

Hamaß.paθ.maiδ.iia refers to EQUINOX, or the moment when the center/middle position maiδ.iia of the Sun and the celestial points/paths paθ are at the same hamaß, or equal distance from each other. The joyous celebration of the Vernal Equinox as the most sacred Zoroastrian religious holiday is a reminder of the future age of the gods, and the coming of everlasting spring.

The Zoroastrian Magi priests sanctified these points in time by linking them with the sacred songs/metre gáθá of the ancient Aryan seer/prophet Zarathustra. It is highly meritorious to recite the gáθás (Lithuanian giedóti “sing hymns,”) as part of the sacred rituals in these auspicious points of time in the year yaair.iia ratvö .

In the Āfrīn “loving blessing formula” for gatha banquets; it is enjoined that all have the duty to bring some kind of offering to the feast, even if it is a stick of dry wood or if nothing at all, a heartfelt prayer.

Communal banquets were held at which consecrated food was shared, with drinking of wine and much merrymaking. These banquets brought rich and poor together, and were times for renewal of fellowship, with forgiveness of wrongs and charity.

One can tell a lot about a people by their rituals, symbols and festivities. The rituals used by the ancient Zoroastrians involved the recurrently rising sun, bonfires, and symbols of an abundant life. Holiness in this ancient, noble faith equals health and vital energy, and Sacred is what is auspicious, radiant and triumphant.

The fire rituals in Zoroastrianism symbolize the infinity and beyond, the eternal quest for excellence, and the sacred will to bring the creative brilliance of the Immortals to us, for the discovery of new horizons, and making the life force ever more splendid and victorious.

ardeshir

 

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The magic of words, binding formulas of the Immortals, and a higher notion for sacred duty in Zoroastrianism


 

If art can be called the wondrous re-creation and a new formulation of reality through the lens of human experience, then the magic of words is the greatest achievement of art. Each word is a spell of vision and sound, a vital expression of the soul, a revelation of subconscious forces behind the sounds, in which the transformation of reality into melodious energy takes place.

Words stir our deepest feelings, elevate our innermost being, and vibrate with the melody of the intent/spirit behind them. The magic of words/poetry is due to their rhythm and subconscious intent.

Through the vision of the seer/poet, the sounds and words become the vehicle of the primeval mind energies- a creative tool of the spirit, and life becomes a rhythmical dance of artful imagery and creativity.

Words cast their spirit/energy through their vibrations into reality, thereby reshaping the world and the state of things, as they exist. This give Words magical properties, BINDING us to their mysterious force.

Modern humanity is simply unable to imagine how profoundly the magic of words was experienced in ancient civilizations, and how enormous is the subconscious influence of words on the entire life even today.

Avestan ûrvátá is the term for “WORD or binding formula” in the poetic gathas. Ûrvátá is a cognate with Lithuanian vardas, Latvian vārds, Gothic waúrd, German wort, all are rooted in reconstructed Indo European *wer– “word, to bind.” Russian vru “pagan formula/lie,” and Vedic vrata “law, binding rule” are also cognates, and come from the same root. (See Didier Calin)

Hanns-Peter Schmidt has argued at great length that úrvátá means “vow” in the sense of “a sort of promissory oath,” or “a commandment and binding formula implying an obligation.” The common gathic word for “friend” ûrvatha, refers in fact to the “bond of friendship” and “vow/oath to fulfill an obligation.”

Ûrvátá is “the power of the WORDs to command, oblige, to do something, to bind.” Words/formulas determine the order of all things and beings in the world, and imply the idea of man’s obligation to adhere to the wondrous example of the gods. Ûrvátá properly belongs to the sphere of the gods.

The fourth and the longest hymn in the poetic gathas is that of úrvátá or “These your binding formulas/words.” Here úrvátá or WORDS are formulas of knowledge, spells of vision and wisdom, rules that establish the ordered cosmos.

According to the ancient commentaries the 22 stanzas of úrvátá are about “discerning wisdom and judiciousness” (dádistán.) So that when they pray/recite the úrvátá by line and stanza, prudence and good judgment are manifested in the supplicant and the jurist. The 22 stanzas are described in another Avestan passage of Hadôkht Nask as: Anaômö man.aηhæ daiia vispái: kva, kva parö “all that mind has devised beyond the infinity.”

The ancient commentaries connect the 22 stanza of úrvátá or “These your binding formulas/words,” with the 22 stanzas of the “wondrous dominion of baga (Russian bog “god”) or Yasna 51 of the gathas.

The “established laws” dátá and the “binding formulas” úrvátá, imply a mutual relationship between the Mazda-worshiper and the divine world (See Yasna 51.14.) A reciprocal relationship which is binding between the world of the god-beings and humans, where both men and the Immortals have their assigned obligation/duties to do, and until those sacred duties are fulfilled, they remain obligated to the other.

In conclusion, I shall add that the concept of úrvátá “binding formula/word” in the gathas implies: that the noble fellowship of Mazda-worshippers has never been about a delusional sense of entitlement and privileges, but has always consisted in a higher notion of sacred DUTY toward the world of the gods, higher virtues and discerning wisdom.

ardeshir

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The warrior’s goal “to transcend and overcome limitations” in the poetic gathas and Zoroastrianism


In a previous article we talked about the common term for “battle/combat” in the poetic gathas, and how the word for “battle” ýáh (iáh,) and “warrior” ýáhî (iáhî) actually refers to “heroic struggle/wrestling” and “hero and/or one imbued with the force, vigorous activity.”

The other term for warfare is ýudh appearing as ýöiθ in the gathas. The term is a cognate of Old Welsh jud “fight” Polish judzić “encourage, motivate” Lithuanian judù “fire up, stir” Vedic yùdhyati “fights” Tocharian A yutk “fervent, be eager” Latin iubeō “order, command in battle,” all rooted in the reconstructed Indo European *įudh *yeudh “warfare, struggle, fight, to strive eagerly.”

The word ýöiθ appears in Yasna 28.9, 2nd rhymed verse line of the poetic gathas: manas.čá hiiat vahištem//ýöi vé ýöiθe.má dase.mæ stütãm

The gathic verse considers “battle/combat” as striving eagerly to manifest the signs of the superb/best mind of the God-force, thereby offering praise to the brilliant disposition of the Immortals.

The ancient commentaries add that this verse refers to giving council/advise by the saôšiiants “heralds of good luck/success” in ushering in a new age of the gods.

The warrior’s goal is manifestation of superb spirit/mind and wondrous signs of the god-force through eager striving. Heroic experience and struggle will bring about the splendid, fresh re-creation of the worlds.

The world will evolve and become a new world with new, higher species, far above the human species, just as human species have evolved after the animal species, (See the reference to the future body in the ancient gathic commentaries.)

All existence according to the poetic gathas is a manifestation of the superb mind, brilliant disposition of the God-force. The purpose of the spiritual battle is to TRANSCEND to the level of the “superb mind and boundless evolution of mind-power” manas vahištem.

Manas in the gathic sacred verse, is the same as ménos “courage, power of the spirit, consciousness/mind, imagination, creative energy.”

Mallory/Adams in the Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, p. 438 states that “the spiritual property of the hero is embedded in the concept of *menes– “spirit, mind energy, consciousness-force” that motivates and enables the hero to accomplish great deeds.

Vahištem “Superb, the Best” is superlative of vôhü, the active principle of “goodness, betterment and brilliance.” For in the poetic gathas and Zoroastrianism, “goodness is brilliance and the triumph of the spirit.”

Vásu, vôhü, vesu, wisi/visieús “superb, good, brilliant,” appears frequently in divine names among the Indo European people. The Germanic tribal name Visigoths “the good or superb goths” comes from the same root.

The evolution of consciousness has the purpose/goal of ascending to the boundless level of the superb mind, and to an age of ever-new, wondrous horizons, a new age of the gods. The battle is about revelation of the signs of the superb mind or ever higher-consciousness. And this realization of the superb wisdom, innovative imagination, and inspiring creativity is the true praise of the Immortals.

The word for “praise” in the Avesta stü (in this verse stütãm) is a cognate of Greek steûtai “make a show or gesture of something,” that goes back to reconstructed Indo European *steu “praise.” In the Avesta and the poetic gathas in particular, “praise” is “manifesting the signs of, and awakening the brilliant forces of Godhood.”

Battle ýudh allows mortals to transcend the limitations of our degraded age of impurity, and to step over the threshold into a world of heroism and higher, ever-better consciousness, the brilliant, wondrous world of the Immortals.

To manifest the wondrous signs of the god-force is the noblest expression of the spirit, and the true praise of the gods. In Zoroastrianism, worship is in striving, fighting and overcoming, not in fatalism, defeatism, and escapist emotions.

I like to conclude by the following beautiful gathic verse from Yasna 30.1, 2nd rhymed verse line:

staôtá.čá ahûrái//ýæsn.iiá.čá vaηhéûš man.aη

Manifesting the signs/praise of the ahuras//(is) the zeal/zelos, fervent yearning for the good/brilliant mind

ardeshir

With sincere gratitude to My Scholar Friend, Didier Calin for his precious inputs and corrections in Indo European etymologies and studies.

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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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Maternal DNA of Parsi Zoroastrians of India, and interesting links to pre-islamic Iran and ancient Indo Europeans


The most recent study on the maternal DNA of the Parsi Zoroastrians of India appears in The mtDNA Landscape of the Southwestern Asian Corridor.

While close to 60% of Parsi Zoroastrians show distinctive Indian and Asian maternal lineages, with NO links to ancient Iran, over a third however show distinctive, and rare maternal haplogroups going back to ancient Indo Europeans and pre Islamic Aryan Iran.

Interestingly, the YDNA or paternal lineages of the Parsis mostly come from the Iranian Northeast and the Caspian region of Mazandaran, but these lineages seem not to go back to the Sassanid times. Instead, the make up of Parsi YDNA show clear effects of the arab invasion, and appear to go back to 400-500 years after the arab invasion or about 1000 years ago. Parsi mtDNA statistics is as follows:

M* – 54.5%

M is the single most common mtDNA haplogroup in Asia, and peaks in Japan and Tibet, where it represents on average about 70% of the maternal lineages and is prevalent in India, where it has approximately 60% frequency. This maternal lineage is NOT linked to ancient Iranians.

U4 – 13.6%

U4 is the second most prevalent maternal lineage among the Parsi Zoroastrians. It is an ancient Indo European mitochondrial haplogroup. U4 is relatively rare in modern populations except in Europe, with highest concentrations in Scandinavia and the Baltic states. Outside Europe U4 is found especially in Iran.

U4 appears to have been a relatively common lineage among Mesolithic European hunter-gatherers. It was identified in skeletons from Mesolithic Russia, Lithuania, Sweden and Germany. U4 seems to have been much more common in Northeast Europe than elsewhere. U4 correlates strongly with Y-haplogroup R1a, the distinct, marker of ancient Aryans and Indo Iranians.

Originally from Eastern Europe, these R1a/U4 populations would have crossed all Europe and survived in isolated pockets of northern Europe and the Baltic region from the Neolithic onwards.

HV* – 2.3%
H – 2.3%

Haplogroup HV is the most successful maternal lineage in Western Europe. Over half of the Western European populations descend from Haplogroup HV. Most Europeans belonging to the HV lineage descend from a branch that was renamed haplogroup H.

HV2 – 9.1%

HV2 is the earliest mutation of HV, and is my very own maternal lineage. HV2 is an extremely rare haplogroup, and the third most prevalent haplogroup among the Parsi Zoroastrians. HV2 is closely associated with ancient Scythians roaming the Caspian Pontic Steppes and the Altai mountains. The famed Siberian Ice Maiden, found in the Altai belongs to haplogroup HV2.

HV2 can be found among Iranians, kurds, balochs, in Volga-Ural region of Russia and in Slovakia. HV2’s distribution and origins seem very similar to maternal haplogroup U7.

U7 – 2.3%

U7 is considered a West Eurasian-specific mtDNA haplogroup, believed to have originated in the Black Sea area. In modern populations, U7 occurs at low frequency in the Caucasus, the western Siberian tribes, and about 10% in Iranians.

Genetic analysis of individuals associated with the Late Hallstatt culture from Baden-Württemberg Germany considered to be examples of Iron Age “princely burials” included haplogroup U7. Haplogroup U7 was found in 1200-year-old human remains (dating to around 834), in a woman believed to be from a royal clan who was buried with the Viking Oseberg Ship in Norway. However, U7 is rare among present-day ethnic Scandinavians.

T1 – 6.8%
T* – 4.5%

Haplogroups T* have been found in skeletons from late Mesolithic hunter-gatherers respectively from Russia and Sweden. Wild et al 2014 tested mtDNA samples from the Yamna culture, the presumed homeland (or Urheimat) of Proto-Indo-European speakers, and found T2a1b in the Middle Volga region and Bulgaria, and T1a both in central Ukraine and the Middle Volga.

The frequency of T1a and T2 in Yamna samples, were each 14.5%, a percentage higher than in any country today and only found in similarly high frequencies among the Udmurts of the Volga-Ural region. Tsar Nicholas II of Russia had maternal haplogroup T.

Haplogroup T is found in approximately 10% of native Europeans. It is also common among modern day Iranians.

U1 – 4.5%

Haplogroup U1 is a very ancient haplogroup, found at very low frequency throughout Europe. It is more often observed in Eastern Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus. DNA analysis of excavated remains now located at ruins of the Church of St. Augustine in Goa, India revealed the unique mtDNA subclade U1b, which is absent in India, but present in Georgia and surrounding regions.

ardeshir

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Zoroaster’s Light, German Philosopher Hegel, and the true legacy of the Achaemenid Persians


The Indo-European Imperial power and influence entered the stage of world history with Cyrus, the Great Persian Emperor of the Achaemenid dynasty. Cyrus ruled from 559 to 529 B.C.E, and founded the ancient Persian Empire. His dominion extended from Northern India to the Nile river in Egypt. The Hellenic historian Xenophon, called Cyrus the ideal ruler, and the Persian Achaemenids “brothers and sisters of the same blood” with Hellenes (Aeschylus: The Persians,Verse 185.)

Xenophon’s Cyropaedia offers a glimpse into the character of Cyrus as “the Ideal Ruler and the best form of Government.” Cyropaedia derives from Greek Kúrou paideía (Κύρου παιδεία), and means “The Education of Cyrus.” The book became a model for medieval European writers of the genre known as “mirrors for princes.”

According to the great German philosopher Hegel: the history of Zoroastrian Achaemenid Persia “constitutes strictly the beginning of world history” (p. 174).

The significance of Achaemenid Persians as the “first Historical People” (The Philosophy of History, p. 173) is expressed in the Zoroastrian religious system according to Hegel.

Hegel interprets “Zoroaster’s Light” or the Mazdean light as enabling the individual human being, together with other beings, to achieve freedom to act in as many ways as their natural propensities allow. Hegel traces a replication of the Zoroastrian antithesis between light and darkness in the political organization of the ancient Persian empire: “We find . . . [the Persian empire] consisting of a number of states, which are indeed dependent, but which have retained their own individuality, their manners, and laws . . . As Light illuminates everything—imparting to each object its peculiar vitality—so the Persian Empire extends over a multitude of nations, and leaves to each one its particular character” (p. 187).

The ancient Zoroastrian Persians, as the foremost Indo-Europeans, never forced Ahûrá Mazdá and the Brilliant Immortals on the alien people or nations. The Achaemenids per the strict admonitions of the Avesta avoided mixing up the world, robbing it of its variety/diversity, and creating chaos, (See Avestan Zamyad Yasht and many other ancient Avestan Passages.)

Zoroastrianism in essence, is about thinking in terms of unlimited horizons, and being true to our own soul, innate feelings, passions, rhythms and instincts. Zoroastrianism is and has always been a very private faith, focused on honor, valor, nobility of blood and spirit, and great dedication towards one’s own kin, and kindred-related communities and nations, called xaæt.dáθa and/or xaæt.vadaθa in the Avestan.

Xaæt.daθa or “dedication to one’s own” is a fundamental principle of Zoroastrianism, and appears in the official Zoroastrian creed formula of Yasna 12. The doctrine goes back directly to the poetic gathas of the ancient Aryan prophet, (See Yasna 53.4, 2nd and 3rd rhymed verse lines and Yasna 34.12, 3rd rhymed verse line.)

Avestan xaæt is derived from Proto Indo European *swedh-o, Vedic svadhá, Lithuanian savē, “one’s own, self.” The second part daθa implies “dedication, giving,” xaæt.daθa thus means “dedication to one’s own.”

The alternative reading xaæt.vadaθa “to give in marriage to one’s own kin or kindred groups” has an additional element vad “to wed, marry.” The Greek word éthos “inner essence, spirit, ethics” comes from the same root as Avestan xaæt.

Religion in Zoroastrianism is about the “inner essence, spirit and the core of one’s own being.” It is clear that a religiosity arising from such an attitude towards religion as the “true self” or the “real identity” can never be forced upon others or advertised as being for everyone.

The true legacy of ancient Persians was their understanding and respect for the very truth that alien people have their own indigenous religions, fitting their own distinctive temperamental rhythms and cognition. Turning them into Zoroastrians was NEVER even an option for the ancient Persians. However, for closely related peoples, ancient Persians felt that it was entirely up to them to decide whether the luminous essence of the Zoroastrian religiosity was a right fit for them or not.

One realizes to be a Zoroastrian when the “inner self” discovers that the call of his/her soul, flesh and blood, is of the same harmonious vibration as the Zoroastrian or Mazdean light.

The same rule of “individual distinctiveness” applies to Zoroastrian mode/manner of prayer. In the Zoroastrian faith, prayer is offered up in solitude and calm seclusion of the individual worshipper, and is NOT a communal rite.

Ancient Zoroastrian Iranians were very conscious and proud of their own heritage and unique distinction. This confidence in one’s own self and religious instincts, translated into a liberal attitude of “live and let live” in their interactions with other races and nations.

I like to conclude by citing Webster definition of Zeitgeist as “the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era.” In this day and age Zeitgeist is marked by “secular humanism.”

Unfortunately, ancient history is rewritten based on the dictates of secular humanism and NOT based on facts and truth. Every autumn, the annual celebrations of Cyrus the Great is held at grass roots level by hundreds of thousands, if not millions of present day Iranians. Present day Iranians fondly honor the noble legacy of the Achaemenids, and the pre-isalmic, Aryan identity of ancient Iran during these non-governmental ceremonies.

However, the former crown prince, Mr. Reza Pahlavi, in his 2016 address to celebrants declared that the Achaemenids were the first to mix all nations (????!!!!,) and warned Iranians about the perils of racial fascism verses the ruling religious fascism!!! It is apparent that the former crown prince champions the cause of “western secular humanism,” and NOT the cause of ancient Iranian and Zoroastrian values and virtues.

Truth is that Zoroastrian kingship ended with the noble Sassanid, and all other rulers or contenders to the throne/power in the past thousand years or so, were/are NO real heirs to the great Zoroastrian civilization of the ancient, mountainous land of Iran.

It is noteworthy, that Zoroastrian chronicles are absolutely silent over Cyrus, despite all his greatness and valor. Instead, Darius is honored greatly in our memory. It is so, because Cyrus offered worship to marduk, a devil-god of the alien Babylonians. Cyrus’s reasons were pragmatic and political, but No Zoroastrian may offer worship or homage to any alien devil gods. For religion in Zoroastrianism means our “true self,” and we may never betray our “true self” to alien ideals or gods for any political or pragmatic reasons.

ardeshir

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