The Zend Avesta, Part III (SBE31), L.H. Mills, tr. , at sacred-texts.com
2. Zarathustra, having entered upon the duties of his office (XXIX, 11), composes a liturgy for the use of some of his more eminent colleagues, possibly, but not at all probably, for the original mover in the entire religious effort (see the expressions 'to Zarathustra and to us,' 'to Vîstâspâ and to me,' 'to Frashaostra and to me'). This reciter, whoever he may have been intended to be, is represented as standing in the appropriate place as a priest, with hands stretched toward Ahura, or His Fire, and praying for the possession of spiritual graces from an unselfish motive, and in order that he might appease the grief of the Kine's Soul, for whose relief Zarathustra had just been appointed (see XXIX, 1, 6, 8).
3. He approaches Ahura Mazda, spiritually inspired by the Good Mind as he declares, and asking for attainments and boons for both the bodily and spiritual lives, derived from Righteousness, whereby that personified Righteousness might establish the elect in a beatified state.
4. The personality of the Ameshôspends comes again strongly forward, as it does so often in worship, in addresses in which Righteousness (Asha), the Good Mind (Vohu Manah), Khshathra (the active Power of the Divine Sovereignty), and Âramaiti (practical piety in the souls of believers), are besought to come, as the Vedic Gods so often are, to the appeals of the supplicant, and to his help in the act of worship itself, which is recognised to be the one efficient means for furthering the cause of redemption which is ever held in view.
5. As one who offered his soul to heaven, and would know by actual experience the blessed rewards bestowed by the holy ceremonial and moral actions prescribed by Ahura Mazda, the reciter declares that he will teach on in the effort to propagate the holy Religious Order, and possessed by the one desire for its increase, while power shall last.
6. With a piety as fervent as it is profound, and speaking with great earnestness, he asks Righteousness, as a person, when he shall see him, becoming fully acquainted with the Good Mind of God, the way which leads to Him, and above all with Obedience. But although he addresses these lofty abstractions as persons, it is utterly
out of the question to suppose that he did not speak in the deepest meaning of the words as expressing states of mind, and qualities of character: O thou Divine Righteous Order! (Thus he seems to have meant), O thou divine Righteous Order! when shall I see Thee as if present in my own soul and in those of the people whom Ahura has committed to my charge? When shall I know the Divine Benevolence as made one with the disposition of my congregation? When shall I possess by knowledge that only way to our most bountiful Ahura which is, not a mythical angel Sraosha only, but that angel interpreted 'Obedience to Ahura' (observe the dative). One cannot well exaggerate the religious depth or subjectivity. Then, with a bathos which shows how then as ever superstition could hold its own side by side with the truest piety, he exclaims (if the third line was really so composed by him as it has come down to us); 'By such a prayer as a Mãthra spell we can with the greatest vigour repel the unclean beasts and creatures which defile our sanctity, or endanger our lives.'
7. Alluding immediately to this revelation, he beseeches Ahura once more to 'come with His Good Mind,' and to grant, not booty, nor even wealth, but 'Asha-gifts,' and (as a bestower of righteousness) long life and powerful spiritual grace to the leading agent Zarathustra (in all probability the composer of the section), and to himself, the officiating priest with his helpers, in order that, not with carnal weapons, but by his 'lofty' and holy 'words,' they all combined may overcome the torments of the ravagers who had made havoc of the settlements, and who were still liable to overwhelm the faithful with their raids and rapine (see XLIV, 20).
8. With an intentional and interesting alliteration he prays to Asha for an ashi; that is, a blessing, even the strenuously attained-to gifts of the great Benevolence. Âramaiti likewise becomes the object of his petition together with Ahura; and this time for the benefit of Vîstâspa the monarch, and for himself that they might hear the gracious Mãthras, which is indeed the burden of the entire piece.
9. Once more he affords an early (or the earliest (?)) instance of the rhetorical trick, and fills one line with three 'vahistas,' praying Ahura, as being of one mind with Asha (here, for the first time in the Avesta, called 'the best'), to grant the same blessing; and this time again with an intentional change, 'to himself and to Frashaostra;' and not for this world, but for 'all the duration of the Good Mind,' using the expression in its concrete sense as heaven; for heaven to him consisted in an inward state. (So also elsewhere in the Avesta,
even where the palate and the olfactory nerve are the media of felicity or of torture, there also conciliating language on the one side, or 'vile speech' pointed with finest irony on the other, is equally prominent. It is the mind which chiefly enjoys or suffers.)
10. Deeply sensible of the spiritual benefits for which he is asking, he seems touched with gratitude. Accordingly he adds one more petition, which is, that he and his coadjutors, the three just mentioned, may never anger the indulgent mercy which had granted them their request; and that they may persevere, as they have begun, in the strenuous service of Ahura, Asha, and Vohu Manah. For they are, as he declares, easy to be entreated, and beings who desire to bestow spiritual blessings upon mortals, rather than to exercise merely capricious favour or cruelty, and who also possess the power to bring their benevolence to effect.
11. As if unwilling to trust his own perception as to his real spiritual needs, he prays Ahura 'to fill up his desire,' not with what he, the reciter, may in particular request, but with what He, Ahura, knows to be the gifts of Righteousness and the divine Benevolence. And these gifts are again mainly the holy revelation, for he knows, so he earnestly declares, the words of those mighty three to be never void, and to be a sustenance able indeed to fill up his wishes, giving him more than he has of himself either the intelligence or the grace to ask.
12. Having added, in verse after verse, some particular to heighten the fervour of his request, he sums up all in a final expression, as remarkable for its earnestness as for its depth, and begs Ahura, as one set for ever for the defence of the Righteous Order and the Good Mind (whose hallowed influences he accurately foresaw were destined to endure for ages), to tell him, with His very 'voice of spirit,' in order that he may declare them to the waiting masses, the laws which pervade the moral universe, and according to which it arose. For according to these holy principles and so alone, could he promulgate a system which might reclaim society from its imperfections and the Iranian saint from his sufferings. Ahura who, be it remarked, is alone addressed in this culminating verse, hears and answers by a revelation of these eternal principles, and this answer is contained in chapter XXX. By a thorough comprehension of that most important document, I hold that we may see how it met its purpose as indicated by the capacities and needs of those to whom it was addressed, and how by discriminating truth from falsehood it helped on the defence of Asha, and the founding of the true Benevolence.
1. (A strengthening blessing 1 is the thought, a blessing is the word, a blessing is the deed of the righteous Zarathustra. May the Bountiful Immortals 2 accept and help on 3 the chants. Homage to you, O sacred Gâthas 4!)
2. With venerating (desire) for this (gift) of gracious help, O Mazda 5, and stretching forth my hands (to Thee) I pray for the first (blessing) of (Thy) bountiful Spirit; (that is, I beseech of Thee that my) actions
[paragraph continues] (toward) all (may be performed) in (the Divine) Righteousness; and with this I implore from Thee the understanding of Thy Benevolent Mind, in order that I may propitiate the Soul of the Kine 1 (our herds and folk, which cries so bitterly to Thee).
3. And therefore, O Great Creator, the Living Lord! (inspired) by Thy Benevolent Mind, I approach You 2, (and beseech of Thee 3) to grant me (as a bountiful gift) for both the worlds, the corporeal and (for that) of mind, those attainments which are to be derived from the (Divine) Righteousness, and by means of which (that personified Righteousness 4 within us) may introduce those who are its recipients into beatitude and glory 5!
4. O (thou Divine) Righteousness, and thou Benevolent
[paragraph continues] Mind (of Deity)! I will worship you, and Ahura Mazda the first 1, for all of whom the Pious ready mind (within us) is 2 causing the imperishable Kingdom to advance. (And while I thus utter my supplications to You), come Ye to my calls to help 3!
5. (Yea, I will approach You with my supplications, I) who am delivering up (my) 4 mind and soul to that (heavenly) Mount (whither all the redeemed at last must pass 5), knowing (full well) the holy characteristics and rewards 6 of the (ceremonial and moral) actions (prescribed) by Ahura Mazda. (And)
so long as I am able and may have the power, so long will I teach 1 (Your people concerning these holy deeds to be done by them with faith toward God, and) in the desire (for the coming) of the (Divine) Righteousness (within their souls) 2.
6. And, thou Righteousness! when shall I see 3 (thee, knowing the Good Mind (of God), and above all the personified) Obedience 4 (of our lives which constitutes) the way 5 to the most beneficent Ahura Mazda. (Asking this, I thus beseech thee, for) with this holy word of supplication we most hold off 6 with tongue the flesh-devouring fiends, (the very sign and power of all spiritual foulness) 7!
7. And do Thou, O Lord, the Great Creator! come to me with Thy Good Mind; and do Thou, who bestowest gifts through Thy Righteousness, bestow alike long-lasting life on us. And (that this life may be spent aright, do) Thou by means of Thy lofty words (bestow) the (needed) powerful spiritual help upon Zarathustra and upon us 1, whereby we may overcome 2 the torments of the tormentor.
8. (And) do thou, O (Divine) Righteousness, bestow (upon me) that sacred blessing which is constituted by the attainments of the Good Mind (within my soul) 3; and do thou also, O Piety! grant unto
[paragraph continues] Vîstâspa and to me our wish; (yea) may’st Thou grant (us), O Mazda, ruler 1 (as Thou art! that grace) whereby we may hear 2 (with understanding) Thy benignant words.
9. That best (of gifts therefore) do I beseech (of Thee), O Thou best (of beings) Ahura! who art one in will with (Thy Divine) Righteousness (within us, likewise), the best 3 (of spirits), desiring it (as I now do) for the (heroic) man Frashaostra, and for me 4, upon whom also may’st Thou bestow it (not for time alone), but for all the ages of Thy Good Mind (that reign of Thy Benevolence which shall be to us as Heaven 5)!
10. And (impressed and moved) by these gifts of strengthening grace 1 (which Thou may’st give in answer to these prayers) may we never anger You, O Ahura Mazda! (nor Thy) Righteousness (within us), nor yet Thy Kindly Mind (toward us), since we have most earnestly made effort (helping to advance Your cause) in the (chanted) 2 offering of Your praisers, for most easy to be invoked (are Ye). (Yours are verily both) the desire for (spiritual) blessings (for us), and the (Divine) Possession (of their power) 3.
11. And therefore do Thou, O Lord, the Great Creator! fill up and satisfy (my 4) desire with these attainments (of the grace) of Thy Good Mind, which Thou dost know to be derived from Righteousness, (and) which (are verily) sublime 5, for I have known 6
[paragraph continues] Thine instructions to be never void 1 of their effect (in the struggles) for our (daily) food 2, and therefore worthy objects of desire 3.
12. (Yea, I approach Thee with my prayers, I) who by these (great gifts of grace) will 4 protect ((Thy) Divine Righteousness, and (Thy) Good Mind within us) for ever. And do Thou therefore, O Ahura Mazda! teach me from Thyself, yea, from Thine own mouth of spirit, that I may declare it forth to (these Thy waiting people) by what (powers and according to what laws 5) the primeval world arose 6!
17:1 Yânîm cannot well mean 'revealed,' except by the most farfetched conception. The Indian yâna, as in devâ´yna, should give the fundamental idea, easily reconcileable as it is with the ancient rendering of the Pahlavi translator.
17:2 Notice that the Ameshôspends are mentioned in this early heading. In the Gâthas themselves the name, 'Bountiful Immortals,' does not occur.
17:3 Possibly, 'take up and continue on the Gâthas.' Literally, 'seize forth.'
17:4 It is hardly necessary to say that this is no part of the Gâthas. It is, however, in the Gâthic dialect, and as it needs not, or perhaps cannot, be considered an intentional imitation, it must be very old.
17:5 Vocative with the Vendîdâd Sâdah, otherwise the accumulation of genitives would be suspicious. Ahura is, however, beyond any question elsewhere spoken of as 'the most bounteous Spirit.' The usage is like that of the Semitic scriptures; the Holy Spirit is both God and 'of God.' As to the rendering 'bounteous,' I fear that 'holiest' (so many) is too bold. Ashavan occurs side by side with spenta as applied to Ahura, and ashavan cannot mean 'righteous' there, but must mean 'holy.' The Pahlavi renders etymologically afzûnîk. Comp. svânta. The sole etymological bases for the meaning 'holy' are presented by the Lithuanian and Ecclesiastical Sclavonic; but, as Justi has well remarked, in the conceptions of the Avesta that which increases the kingdom of Ahura is equivalent to what is holy. 'Bountiful' must therefore be understood in a particular sense, only to be rendered by the words, 'gracious, sacred, and august.'
18:1 See Y. XXIX, 1.
18:2 The plural of majesty, or the literal plural, referring to the Bountiful Immortals as together.
18:3 Plural and singular interchange throughout.
18:4 Possibly, 'one may introduce.'
18:5 See Y. L, 5. Hvâthrâ and its allied forms are so often associated with raokah and the like, that I do not hesitate to accept an Iranian hvan = to shine (with Justi). As there is an Indian svar which means 'to roar,' and another 'to shine,' and again a svan = to sound, so in Iranian there is a hvan = to sound, and another = to shine, as in asmanem hvanvantem. The 'comfortable stone heaven' is difficult. Comfortable, or even 'delectable mountains' so we should have to say elsewhere), are not very likely to have been recognised or appreciated in the Avesta. 'Glorious beatitude' is a better rendering here. If hvâthrâ always means 'comfort,' how comes it that hvarenô is said to be hvâthravat? 'Comfortable glory' is hardly probable. Compare also the ancient subha. When it is the fashion to accept a separate Iranian root at every difficulty, small and great, I see no reason for stopping here, where the pressure is considerable. The Pahlavi also may be read to favour my view. (Comp. hveng = hvan.)
19:1 Or, 'having no first' (Roth, reading apourvîm).
19:2 I am very far from a positive rejection of the forms suggested by the Pahlavi translator, although he should never be pressed on such a point, being often free. As alternative read 'may Piety who bestows increase (fem. participle) come to my calls to give grace.'
19:3 The Pahlavi translator, unable to credit 'ye as = I who' (so also modern authority sometimes with regard to other occurrences of ye in this chapter), renders as follows: When I shall be your own (thus for 'worship,' and possibly deceived by the form of the words, ufyânî and nafsman being nearly alike in the Pahlavi character), O Ashavahist and Vohûman! the first [ ], Aûharmazd's also [his own I shall be], through whose unweakened acquisition his rule over them exists [ ], and [hers also I shall be], Spendarmad's, the giver of increase. She comes to me with joy when I invoke her [when I shall call upon you, come ye on toward me with joy]. (A plain and noticeable instance of an alternative rendering in the gloss. The verb was first thought of as a 3rd sing. middle subjunctive, afterwards as an imperative 2nd plural.)
19:4 Meñ = m + the nasal vowel, and may represent man, or I think also mãm, adverbially for menâ; or 'mân' = 'demânê.'
19:5 Mount Alborg, where the Kinvat Bridge extends; so also important authority; but we might read mengairê = mângairê (Garôdman).
19:6 Ashi, a blessing given in reward; so elsewhere.
20:1 I think it is better to hold by the parallel passage and the sense of 'teach' here. The Pahlavi has an irregular form which probably means 'I teach,' but might be intended for 'I am taught.'
After the words 'so long as I have the power,' 'I will teach' is rather more natural than 'I will learn.' Haug's rendering of this word has never been accepted. Those most opposed to tradition follow it here. Perhaps, 'I will teach to desire R.'
20:2 The Pahlavi translation corrected by MSS. may be rendered thus: He who gives up his soul within Garôdmân does so by the aid of Vohûman [ ], and is also intelligent concerning the veneration which belongs to the doers of good works [ ] in that which is Aûharmazd's [religion]; as long as I am a suppliant and have [the power, so long do I inculcate the desire of Righteousness which is, duty and good works].
20:3 Kadâ´ mrilîkám sumánâ abhí khyam (Rv. VII, 86, 2).
20:4 Obedience, throughout the Avesta and Parsi literature, guides the soul to heaven.
20:5 Or, 'knowing the throne of Ahura' (so the Pahlavi, most scholars following); but the construction would be awkward. 'Finding the way' occurs in the Riks, and gâtu need not always mean 'place' in the Gâthic, because it has that sense most frequently in the Zend.
20:6 Possibly, 'we may teach the foul polluted men.' Or, 'confess the greatest One with Khrafstra(-slaying) tongue.' Perhaps the text is to be amended; yet see XXXIV, 5, 9.
20:7 The Pahlavi translation may be rendered thus: O Ashavahist! when do (shall) I see thee? I know this one by means p. 21 of a good mind's instruction [that is, I see thee in that time when every man is intelligent because he is pious; but when shall it be?]. And the place of Aûharmazd, when do (shall) I see it, I who am a suppliant for a benefit? That place is known through Srôsh [ ], that greatest of Mãthras is to be taught, given forth with tongue to him whose understanding is confused.
21:1 It certainly involves a question how the words 'to Zarathustra and to us' can be compatible with Zarathustra's authorship. Vîstâspa and Frashaostra (verses 8, 9) are equally excluded. Who is then the individual who thus refers to himself with others? And is this verse an interpolation, and with it 8 and 9? This last seems to me a very feeble suggestion. Was this piece, together with the rest (for they all are connected), the work of some unnamed man of influence, the true author of Zarathustrianism? I think that there is also little gained by this supposition. There is no particular reason why Zarathustra's name should have come down to us as the chief figure, while that of the prime mover failed to reach us. I should say that the piece was composed by Zarathustra and put into the mouth of a leading priest, or that it was composed with many others under his inspiration. Or, can there have been a school, or family, of Zarathustrians, religious poets, similar to the Vedic seers? (See chap. LIII, 2 Zarathustris Spitâmô.)
21:2 This mention of 'overcoming an enemy,' strengthens the probability of my view of vâvarôimaidî (vâurôimaidî).
21:3 The Good Mind is now, as we should say, 'the Spirit of God' in the mind of God, and again His Spirit in the human soul.
22:1 The Pahlavi correctly renders pâdakhshâ.
22:2 Probably originally heard, inspired words. Compare Manyeus hakâ Thwâ aunghâ, verse 12. So often. Oral communications are figuratively alluded to everywhere. No literal articulation or sound (!) is of course intended. (Or 'sravayaêmâ = proclaim.')
Neryosangh may be rendered as follows: Grant, O Sanctity! this devotion which (results) from the priority (an error from misreading the characters of the Pahlavi, chiefly his original) of the Good Mind [that is, make me so religious that prosperity may result [to me from my good conduct]. Grant thou to the perfect mind in, or to, the earth (so the Parsis understood Âramaiti)] the wish that proceeds from Gustâspa and from my people [ ]. Grant praisers, O great wise One! kings, who may be announcers of your word, and bestowers of arrangements (for the service); [that is, who may teach thy word, and render it progressive].
22:3 The earliest occurrence of Asha Vahista. The Pahlavi: 'Since the best thing that Thou hast [Thy Religion] is better than all other things, the best through Righteousness.'
22:4 See verses 7 and 8.
22:5 In the millennial (sic) renovation as well as in heaven. See chap. XXX, 4, where Vahista Manah is equivalent to heaven. The Pahlavi gloss has: Aîgh Frashôstar va hâvistân î Frashôstar, vad tanû î pasînŏ hamâî nadûkîh padas vâdan; that is, for Frashôstar and the disciples of Frashôstar for ever, until the final body provide a benefit thereby.
23:1 Possibly, 'may we not anger you with our prayers for these blessings.' Kím me havyám áhrinâno gusheta.
23:2 That dasemê may now better be referred to a similar root with dasvare, I regard the more probable because the Pahlavi also freely renders as if it so understood. Its author knew the meaning of dasema = dasama. One is reminded of course of the dása-gva.
23:3 The Pahlavi with its peculiar view of anâis (not to be rejected too confidently; see note at another occurrence of it) is interesting (as corrected by the Persian MS.): On account of a not-coming to you, O Aûharmazd! This I would not do [ ]. Ashavahist also I will not pain for the sake of a blessing; [that is, I do not desire a single blessing which appears displeasing to Ashavahist (this turn of the sense is followed by some who have hitherto opposed tradition, but I cannot follow it, although I value every hint of the ancient writers). Also Vohûman, the excellent [I do not harass him].
23:4 Or, 'to those whom thou seest as creatures (?) of V. fill up the desire with attainments.'
23:5 Possibly, 'the righteous,' erethweng; cp. ritâ´vânas (?). Pahl. trans. 'î frârûnŏ.'
23:6 Possibly, 'I obtain.'
24:1 Ner. has analaso(-ah) for asûnâ more correctly than the Pahlavi asûdak.
24:2 Or, 'well reaching their aim;' but the Pahlavi translator gives his evidence for the meaning 'food'—khûrisnŏ. Recall the constant prayers for nourishment in the Riks. And as favouring the ancient translation, see XXIX, 7, where 'food for the eaters' is declared to be the gift of God, who is at the same time 'bounteous with his doctrine.'
24:3 Neryosangh: Evam ye dharmasya vettârah* uttamasyaka dâter manasah [ ] ekahelayâ* Mahâgñânin Svâmin! tebhyah* pûrnam parikinohi* kâmam; [kila, [ ] subham tebhyah kuru]. Evamka igisneh* analaso labhatâm khâdyâni vastrânika vadanena.
24:4 One is tempted to read nipaunghê as an infinitive, but the Pahlavi translation anticipates us all with its more critical barâ netrûnam.
24:5 This question is answered in Y. XXX.
24:6 Ner. improving upon the Pahlavi has as follows: Yadi sunirîkshanatayâ dharmam pâlayâmi manaska* uttamam sadâpravrittaye; [kila, ket satyasya sadvyâpârasyaka rakshâm karomi]. Tvam tat* Mahâgñânin Svâmin! prakrishtam me sikshâpaya* [ ] vâki. Adrisya Tvatto mukhena [sphutaya] antar bhuvane pûrvam babhûva [tâm srishtim me brûhi].
A translation truly remarkable considering the circumstances under which it was made.