The Zend Avesta, Part III (SBE31), L.H. Mills, tr. , at sacred-texts.com
1. Accustomed to instruct the masses who throng him on public occasions seeking light, the composer constructs this hymn for similar opportunities. He may be regarded as continuing the thoughts in the close of Y. XXVIII, where he besought Ahura to inform him concerning the origin of the world. He says that he will declare the counsels of God, by which, as we see, he means the great doctrines concerning the origin of good and evil. With these he will declare also the praises, the laudatory portions of the Mãthra, and the sacrifices. And he prays that propitious results may be discerned in the heavenly bodies.
2. He further introduces what he has to say by telling the throngs before him that a decisive moment is upon them. They are to choose their religion, and not by acclamation with the foolish decision of a mob, but man by man, each individually for himself. They should therefore arouse themselves and hear with all attention, and gaze at the holy Fire with a good and receptive disposition of mind.
3. He then delivers the earliest statement of dualism which has come down to us. There were two original spirits, and they are called, be it well noted, not two persons, or at least not only two persons, but a better thing, or principle, and a worse one. (The qualifying words are all in the neuter 1.)
At the next sentence they are personified as a pair, each independent in his thoughts, declarations, and actions. Such is the short Theodicy, followed at once by an admonition to those before him to choose the better.
4. These two spirits came together as by natural combination, to make the opposing phenomena of life and its absence, of Heaven and of Hell.
And Hell is described not as a scene of cruelty inflicted on the innocent and the ignorant, but as 'the worst life,' and Heaven as equally remote from a superstitious paradise; that is, as the 'best mental state.'
This is the proper Zarathustrian creation. It is undeniably 'abstract,' very, and just in proportion as it lacks colour and myth are its depths visible. The account of it is also very limited. But it must never be forgotten that its existence is the probable proof that very much more of the kind existed beside it. Instead of there being one hymn sung like this, Y. XXX, there were probably many. The two original forces or beings, although separate clearly, come together; but they do not lose their distinction. Their difference remains as clear as their union. 5. They do not blend unrecognisably; for having created the two principles, they choose each his own particular realm. Ahura chooses the righteous order of religion, and with it the pious of all ages. The evil spirit chooses the wicked.
The point and meaning of the entire doctrine is that a good God cannot be responsible for permanent evil; that imperfection and suffering are original, and inherent in the nature of things, and permanently so. The swallowing up of sin and sorrow in ultimate happiness belongs to a later period. It is not Gâthic Zarathustrianism. Evil was the work of an independent being.
The great thinker saw his point; and it was that the Deity Himself could not prevent the evolution of base and revolting moral qualities with their consequent miseries in both victim and aggressor. An evil God was therefore their author.
6. But the blood-feuds of War, not to speak of the theological animosity, were too much for his philosophy. The sage could not regard all men and their circumstances with broad and equable impartiality.
The hated Daêva-worshippers, who were doubtless equally conscientious with the Zarathustrians, are said to have failed of correct discernment.
As they were deliberating, so he recalls, the Worst Mind, a very real although 'abstract' Satan, came upon them, to induce them to choose him and his evil realm. They acceded, becoming furious in their intention to injure human life. This may be regarded as a dramatic, but at the same time, in a moral sense, a philosophical statement of a temptation and fall. (For a later one, with more colour and less truth, see the temptation proper of Zarathustra himself 1, recalling as it does so vividly the temptation in the Gospels.)
7. If we can accept the words ahmâikâ to mean merely 'upon
this,' we may hold that the statements proceed without a break. Even a gap of lost verses does not interrupt the sense. The clothing of souls with bodies seems indicated. If so, the doctrine of the Fravashis, otherwise foreign to the Gâthas, may have its origin by inference here, and directly in verse 4. After the creation and first activity of the souls of the Archangels on the one hand, and of the Daêvas on the other, together with their respective human adherents, the one choosing good and the other evil, the remaining Ameshôspends unite with Âramaiti in bestowing a body upon the newly created soul. (So we must conclude from the language.) And the prophet breaks in with the prayer that in the future, and possibly at the Frashakard, the completion of progress, these created souls might possess such advantages as they had when Ahura came at first with his acts of creation; that is, that they might be restored again to a state of sinless happiness, provided with bodies by Âramaiti as at the first. (See Yast XIX, 89.)
8. But, as he implies, and perhaps expresses in a lost verse, vengeance shall come upon the wretched beings who choose the Evil Mind as their master. And it shall come, not in the abstract merely by any means, but as executed by a numerous, if not once predominant party, 'the offspring of the Evil Mind.' And when this shall have been completed (and XXXI, 18 shows us that the weapons to be used to bring it about were not to be those of verbal argument alone) then, as he declares with enthusiasm, 'to God shall be the Kingdom,' a Kingdom established in the Divine Benevolence, which will pervade its organic life, and which will likewise, as the personified 'Immortal,' utter encouragements and commands to its loyal citizens. And these citizens will then not only defeat the Lie-demon, who is the life of the Daêva-party, but they will deliver her up as a captive to the great Genius of Truth, the personified Righteousness. 9. And, as he ardently hoped for the coming of the Kingdom into the hands of Ahura, he as ardently beseeches that he and his coadjutors, the princes already named, may be honoured as the immediate agents in bringing on this 'millennial' completion; nay, he even prays that they may be as Ahuras 1 in merciful services, declaring that all their thoughts were centred in that scene where religious light dwelt as personified in her home.
10. Once more he announces the certain defeat and chastisement of the incarnate falsehood and her adherents, which enables
him only the more impressively to describe the rapid reunion of the righteous amid the home-happiness of Heaven.
11. Having delivered his brief but weighty communication, he commends his hearers for learning the holy vows of the Religion on account of the duration of the announced rewards and punishments. They shall be long indeed; and upon their complete inauguration full salvation shall be realised for those who shall have learned and heeded the invaluable truths.
1. And now I will proclaim, O ye who are drawing near and seeking 1 to be taught! those animadversions 2 which appertain to Him who knows (all things) whatsoever; the praises which are for Ahura, and the sacrifices (which spring) from the Good Mind, and likewise the benignant meditations inspired by Righteousness. And I pray 3 that propitious results may be seen in the lights.
2. Hear ye then with your ears; see ye the bright flames 1 with the (eyes of the) Better Mind. It is for a decision as to religions, man and man, each individually for himself. Before the great effort of the cause, awake ye 2 (all) to our 3 teaching!
3. Thus are the primeval spirits who as a pair 4 (combining their opposite strivings), and (yet each) independent in his action, have been famed (of old). (They are) a better thing, they two, and a worse 5, as to thought, as to word, and as to deed. And between these two let the wisely acting choose aright. (Choose ye 6) not (as) the evil-doers 7!
4. (Yea) when the two spirits came together at the first to make 1 life, and life's absence 2, and to determine how the world at the last shall be (ordered), for the wicked (Hell) the worst life, for the holy (Heaven) the Best Mental State 3,
5. (Then when they had finished each his part in the deeds of creation, they chose distinctly each his separate realm.) He who was the evil of them both (chose the evil), thereby working 4 the worst of possible results, but the more bounteous spirit 5 chose the
[paragraph continues] (Divine) Righteousness; (yea, He so chose) who clothes upon Himself the firm 1 stones of heaven (as His robe). And He chose likewise them who content Ahura with actions, which (are performed) really in accordance with the faith 2.
6. And between these two spirits the Demon-gods (and they who give them worship) can make no righteous choice 3, since we have beguiled 4 them. As they were questioning and debating in their council 5 the (personified 6) Worst Mind approached them that he might be chosen. (They made their
fatal decision.) And thereupon they rushed together unto the Demon of Fury, that they might pollute 1 the lives of mortals 2.
7. Upon this 3 Âramaiti (the personified Piety of the saints) approached, and with her came the Sovereign Power, the Good Mind, and the Righteous Order. And (to the spiritual creations of good and of evil) Âramaiti gave a body, she the abiding and ever strenuous 4. And for these (Thy people) so let 5 (that
body) be (at the last), O Mazda! as it was when Thou camest first with creations 1!
8. And (when the great struggle shall have been fought out which began when the Daêvas first seized the Demon of Wrath as their ally 2), and when the (just) vengeance shall have come upon these wretches, then, O Mazda! the Kingdom shall have been gained for Thee by (Thy) Good Mind (within Thy folk). For to those, O living Lord! does (that Good Mind 3) utter his command, who will deliver the Demon of the Lie into the two hands 4 of the Righteous Order (as a captive to a destroyer).
9. And may we be such as those who bring on
this great renovation, and make this world progressive, (till its perfection shall have been reached). (As) the Ahuras of Mazda 1 (even) may we be; (yea, like Thyself), in helpful readiness to meet 2 (Thy people), presenting (benefits 3) in union with the Righteous Order. For there 4 will our thoughts be (tending) where true wisdom shall abide in her home 5.
10. (And when perfection shall have been attained) then shall the blow of destruction fall upon the Demon of Falsehood, (and her adherents shall perish with her), but swiftest in the happy abode of the Good Mind and of Ahura the righteous saints
shall gather, they who proceed in their walk (on earth) in good repute 1 (and honour) 2.
11. Wherefore, O ye men! ye are learning 3 (thus) these religious incitations which Ahura gave in (our) happiness 4 and (our) sorrow 5. (And ye are also learning) what is the long wounding for the wicked, and the blessings which are in store for the righteous. And when these (shall have begun their course), salvation shall be (your portion 6)!
25:1 It is also noticeable that the name Angra Mainyu does not occur in this section.
26:1 Comp. Vd. XIX, 1-10. Consider how much time would be required for the name of Zarathustra to become so involved in myth.
27:1 As the Ahuras of Mazda, the Ameshôspends.
28:1 As 'ish' means approaching with desire, the Pahlavi translator has, freely, khvahîsno.
28:2 Read mãzdathâ.
28:3 So with long ê; but yaêkâ (P11 supported by the Pahl.) may be the lost dual neuter of the pronoun, referring to the two principles discussed below. Yê*kâ = I pray for, although the most natural rendering grammatically, does not seem so well adapted here, as a prayer for the success of his communication does not harmonise with the otherwise dogmatic statements of the composer. The urvâtâ (vrata) founded upon the doctrine of dualism bring about salvation. They may therefore be touched upon in this introductory verse. And that the heavenly bodies contained indications bearing directly or indirectly upon human destiny seems to have been early an accepted doctrine. (Compare also chap. XXIX, 3, where 'the lofty fires' seem alluded to as moved by the Deity, and this in immediate connection with the discussion of the most important problems concerning the fate of the holy community.) It is, however, not impossible that the lights of the altar may have been meant. (See sûkâ in the second verse.) The Pahlavi translation p. 29 has dên rôshano pavan vênisnŏ hû-ravâkh-manîh. As to yê*kâ or yaêkâ, the Pahlavi does not favour a verbal form. But if the pronoun is accepted, even then change is needed; yaêkâ yâ = yéka yéna is hardly possible. We should be obliged to render: And which two things (were those?) whereby (adverbially) propitious results have been seen in the stars. Others have experienced difficulty, and even ashayaêkâ(?) has been conjecturally suggested for this place and chap. LI, 2. Neither Sp. nor Westg. report a long ê.
29:1 Gôshânŏ srûd nyôkhshisnîh [aîghas gôsh barâ vasammûnd]—Zak î rôshanŏ. Otherwise 'with the eye;' but see yâ raokebîs daresatâ urvâzâ. The altar-flame would not unnaturally be mentioned after the heavenly lights.
29:2 Literally, '(be ye) wakeful.'
29:3 Hardly, to teach us.' Possibly, 'to teach this, each one.'
29:4 Pahl. transcribes. Notice that paouruyê (pourvîyê) is neut. * as are vahyô and akemkâ, which is not lightly to be passed over.
29:5 The Pahlavi freely: Benafsman—[aîghsânŏ vinâs va kirfak benafsman barâ yemalelûnd]. They announced themselves as sin and good works. Ner. yau punyam pâpamka svayam avokatâm.
29:6 Barâ vigîd. Ner. vibhaktavân*. If a third plural subjunctive, still the force is as if imperative. Possibly it is preterit.
29:7 On this important verse I cite Neryosangh. He may be rendered as follows: Thus the two spirits [Hormigda and Âharmana] who uttered first in the world each his own (principle); [that is, who each uttered one his own good (deed), and the other his own sin], these were a pair, in thought, word, and deed, a highest p. 30 and a degraded one. And of these two, the one endowed with good intelligence [ ] was the distinguisher of the true, and not the one endowed with evil intelligence [ ]. (Both he and the Pahlavi fail to credit a plural form in eres vîshyâtâ with Spiegel and Hübschmann.)
The Gâthic verbatim. Yea (= thereupon) the-two the-two-spirits the-two-first-things which-two two-twins two-self-acting-ones were-heard-of in-thought in-word-and in-deed these-two a-better an-evil-and. Of-which-two-and the wisely-acting (ones) aright may discern, not the evil-acting ones.
29:* Adverb (?).
30:1 The Pahlavi read as an infinitive, dazdê = avŏ zak dahisnŏ. (So also an important authority recently.) Otherwise it has the place of a third dual perfect; 'they two made.' The place of an infinitive is not generally at the end of a sentence in Gâthic. Can it be simply a third singular? '(Each) makes' (kamasâ´ karóti).
30:2 Pavan zendakîh—va mûnik azendakîh. Ner. gîvitenaka agîvitenaka. Observe the singular abstract agyâitîmkâ, which is not lightly to be passed over. Why not a more ordinary expression? Have we not here an unusual antithesis? The danger is great that by aiming to reduce all to commonplace for the sake of safety, we may demolish many an interesting conception of antiquity.
30:3 Observe the subjectivity. These verses settle the question as to the depth of the Zarathustrian hymns. Grammar forces us to see that the composer had large ideas. The entire cast of reflection in the Gâthas tends to be abstract as well as subjective. Not so their invective and partisan exhortations.
30:4 Verezyô is a nom. sing. masc., as would seem natural from its position in the sentence. Compare mãthrâis verezyâis.
30:5 Observe that Ahura is undoubtedly called spenista mainyu. Elsewhere we must sometimes render, 'His bountiful spirit.'
31:1 Zak î sakht sag nihûftŏ âsmânik. Ner. Gâdhataram* âkâsam dadau.
31:2 'Who with actions really good piously content Ahura.' Let it be noticed that fraoret is not independently translated by the Pahlavi. It is freely included in avŏ Aûharmazd; and yet this is supposed by some to be a word-for-word rendering! Ner. prakatâiska karmabhih.
Verbatim. Of-these-two spirits he-chose-to-himself (he)-who (was) the evil (the one) the worst (deeds) working*. The-Righteous-Order (accusative) (chose) the spirit most-bountiful (he-)who the most-firm stones clothes-on-himself, (those) who-and will-content Ahura with real actions believingly Mazda.
(Properly a verbatim rendering is only possible in an inflected language.)
31:3 La râstŏ viginênd. They suffer judicial blindness; a common idea in the Gâthas; compare, 'who holds them from the sight of the truth,' &c.
31:4 The root is indicated by va mûnik valmansân frîft. I can see no escape from the above rather adventurous rendering. See also dafshnyâ hentû in chap. LIII, 8. Perhaps the idea of injury here preponderates over that of deceit; 'since we have impaired their power.' The choice between a preterit or an improper subjunctive is also difficult. Possibly, 'so that we may fatally deceive them.' Poss. nom. 'deception came upon them, even A.M.'
31:5 This recalls Vendîdâd XIX, 45, where the demons assemble in council to consider the advent of Zarathustra.
31:6 Compare verse 4, where Vahistem Manô equals heaven. The p. 32 word is the subject of 'gasat,' and has the proper place of a nominative in the sentence; cp. Vedic usage.
32:1 That they might disease (so literally) the lives of those who had not yet been tempted or fallen.
The Pahlavi: Vîmârtnîdŏ ahvân î mardûmân [aîgh, ###evatman aêshm ansûtâân ahûkînênd].
Ner.: Ye nigaghnur bhuvanam manushyânâm.
Hübschmann: 'um durch ihn Plagen über das Leben des Menschen zu bringen.'
32:2 Verbatim. Of these two spirits not aright may choose the Daêvas, since these we have beguiled (or have injured). To the-questioning ones upon came-he in-order-that he might-be-chosen (subjunctive middle) he-the worst mind. Thereupon to-furious-rapine they rushed-together in-order-that (yena) they might disease (or ruin) the-life of-man.
32:3 Or, 'to him;' some unnamed benefactor; hardly 'to us.' The Pahlavi has, avŏ valman, but Ner. has only tatraka. Observe ahmâi in chap. XLIII, 1, and in chap. XLVII.
32:4 Root ãn = in. The Pahlavi freely, pavan astûbîh. He seems to have thought of nam + a priv.
Kehrpem is feminine. Ãnmâ may be a neuter in apposition.
Otherwise we must accept -mâ as a suffix. Or can kehrpem (corpus) be a neuter here? The clothing of the spirits with corporeal natures enabled them to advance in the development of moral qualities by self-restraint and pursuit. As has been observed in the summary, no Fravashis appear in the Gâthas. Have we here possibly an indication of the pre-existence of souls? If Âramaiti gave a body, it may be inferred that a period elapsed between the acts of the two spirits and this.
32:5 That bodies are to be given to the saints as at the first is to p. 33 be inferred from Yast XIX, 89. (Which see in part ii of the translations of the Zend-Avesta.)
33:1 Verbatim. To-this (to us?)-and with-Khshathra came, with-Manah Vohu, with Asha-and (Âramaiti) thereupon a-body the-continuing gave Âr(a)maiti the strenuous (Âramaiti, or the body, a vigorous and strenuous thing).
Of these thine (or to thee) to let-it (the body)-be as thou-tamest in-creations the-first.
33:2 See verse 6.
33:3 What else can be the subject of sastî?
33:4 Observe the pronounced personification of Righteousness. As a matter of course the ultimate sense is more commonplace, as is the case with all poetical matter. 'Into the hands of Asha,' is the same as to say, 'into the power of the servant of God.'
But would this be a proper mode of rendering a line of real though rudely primitive poetry? Such renderings are commentary rather than translation. The Pahlavi may be rendered as follows: Thus also in that creation [in the final body] hatred comes to these haters and sinners; [that is, the avengers shall execute chastisement upon them]. And, therefore, O Aûharmazd! what to thee is the sovereignty, by that (so possibly) shall Vohûman give a reward. Through these, O Aûharmazd! [through the religion of Aûharmazd], when one is instructed in Righteousness, [that is, as to the interests of the pious] then the Drûg is given into one's hand, [the Drûg who is Aharmôk].
34:1 Otherwise, 'the Ahura-Mazdas,' or, 'O Mazda and the Ahuras!' I think that the most natural rendering according to the grammar should first be given, notwithstanding something uncommon about it. 'All the Ahura-Mazdas,' has been seen by Roth in chapter XXXI, 4.
34:2 The Pahlavi has the gloss [aîghsân hamîshakŏ hangaman madam tanû î pasînŏ kûnisnŏ], needlessly enlarged of course, but showing the proper root, which is mit; (so Spiegel.)
34:3 Or possibly sustaining (the feeble). The Pahlavi reads simply dedrûnisnŏ.
34:4 The Pahlavi renders hathrâ in the Indian sense as asâr*, endlessly; so others elsewhere. Hathrâ and yathrâ are of course distinctly in antithesis.
34:5 The Pahlavi mihânŏ, Persian makân. That maêthâ is an adverbial instrumental meaning, 'in one's home,' seems the more probable from the two hathrâ, yathrâ, adverbs of place. Compare, for instance, athrâ-yathrâ in XLVI, 16, where shaêitî follows. Hübschmann, 'Dort mögen (unsre) Sinne sein, wo die Weisheit thront;' see also husitôis in the next verse.
The Parsi-persian MS. has—Aedûnŏ (sic) ham mâ kih ân i tû hastam (sic); [kû ân i tû ‘hwês hastam] în—rastâ‘hiz kardan andar gihân.
(c) Kih—minisn bêd [kû minisn pah—dârad] as ângâ dânâî hast [kû, â‘hir i kîz pah nêkî bih dânad] andar makân.
35:1 Pahlavi, 'mûn vâdûnd zak î sapîr nâmîkîh = they are creating a good repute,' as if zazentê were understood in the sense of produce. See the sense 'bear' as given for hâ, Rig-veda 843, 2 (X, 17). The analogy is, however, not strong.
35:2 The Pahlavi translation may here be rendered as follows: Thus in that dispensation [in the later body] the Drûg [who is Ganrâk Mînavad] will be overthrown [ ] when (his) host is scattered. Thus they move keenly on [to seize the reward], which is attained through the good citizenship of Vohûman [when they shall have dwelt in piety]. They who are creating a good renown are thus moving on toward Aûharmazd and Ashavahist [that is, the person who is of good repute goes forward to seize the reward].
35:3 Once more the anomalous form âmûkhtisnŏ meets us in the Pahlavi. May this not be intended to express 'learning,' whereas âmûzisnŏ would express 'teaching?' I hardly think so.
35:4 The Pahlavi translation is only remotely if at all responsible for hvîtikâ as = sua sponte. This would require hvîti as = *hvâti with difficulty comparing 'yim' and 'yem'(?). It is generally considered now as = hu + iti; but the letter = seems doubtful.
35:5 Read anitî = 'with impeded progress.' 'In prosperity or adversity.' But these are conjectures.
35:6 The Pahlavi: Aêtûnŏ akhar valmansân aîtŏ nadûkîh. I do not think that we ought to regard the words of the original as expressing universal restoration. But they may well have given the first indication toward this later view. Literally, they state it, but not when correctly understood.
(SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE. The Pahlavi word yômâî which transcribes yesnâ in verse 4 cannot mean 'by day.' Its imperfect form induced the translators to translate rûzhâ and bhûmandale, but these scholars, as in many other instances, hinted at a correction.)