The Zend Avesta, Part III (SBE31), L.H. Mills, tr. , at sacred-texts.com
This Gâtha, consisting of Yasna XLVII-L, takes its name from its commencing words. Like the other Gâthas it owes its existence as a collection to the nature of its metre, as its matter is homogeneous with that of the others. Its metre may be said to be Trishtup, as its lines have each eleven syllables, and are arranged in stanzas of four.
A general view precedes each chapter. The grouping of hymns in this Gâtha has, as usual, little or nothing to do with the question of their relative age.
As in every instance, we may have here only the fragments of a more extended piece; but also, as ever, the circumstance does not diminish the value of what remains. Although some signs of authorship apart from Zarathustra are present, the later verses are not at all remote, so far as the period of time which they indicate is concerned, from the Zarathustrian verses, and are therefore of nearly equal interest, possessing the advantage moreover of affording data for estimating the progress of change.
1. The Spentâ mainyû here is not identical with Ahura, but is, as so often, His spirit. It is more than possible that the memorable application of the word spenta to the seven, giving us the Ameshôspends, the Amshaspands of literature, derives its origin from the first verse here before us, or from lost verses of a similar character. All the seven seem purposely and artificially grouped here, although 'His Spirit' is of course not one of them. The commencing word spenta further attracted attention in so far as to form the theme for a sort of play upon words in the later epilogue of Visparad XIX. By means of this His indwelling Spirit (which idea, or expression, has probably no direct connection with the 'Holy Spirit' of the Old and New Testaments, but which, as giving the designation 'spirit' to the Ameshôspends, may well have been the original of the 'seven spirits which are before the throne of God'), by means of this
blessed spirit, that is, in accordance with his inmost thoughts, Ahura bestows a gift upon the ideal saint (verses 4, 5), upon him who works the best results for Zarathustra (Y. XLVI, 19), the Ratu, and the prophet (Y. XXIX, 6, 8). And this gift is declared to be the inseparable two, Happiness in every particular, and then both the prospect and realisation of the continuance of that Happiness in Immortality. And these He bestows, not through His immediate action, which no human intellect, or susceptibility, could take in unaided, but by His especially revealed Benevolence, His Best Mind, as His representative, in accordance with His plan of Order and Purity, pervading every moral as well as every spiritual regulation, and by the exercise of His Royal Power, sent forth as the 'archangel' Khshathra, and embodied in the polity of the sacred Zarathustrian state, and this as influenced in all its relations, public and domestic, by practical piety called Âramaiti, Ahura's daughter (the ready mind). Such a revelation of the component parts of the mind and will of the Deity, the simplest labouring Class could understand for the moment, and for some decades; but all was, as a matter of course, soon to be overgrown with the old weeds of superstition and of myth.
2. Falling into detail and varying expressions, the composer prays that Ahura may carry out His holy scheme into action by the busy hands and fingers of domestic piety, and by the preached and recited words of the Good Mind from the mouth and tongue of faithful priests. So, and so only, would He become the Father of Asha, the divine Order, and of moral and ritual regularity among men.
3. From discourse concerning God, he arises, as so often, to an address to Him. That Spirit (referred to in the verses 1, 2) is Ahura's own, for He is the One who makes it bounteous; He is the bountiful One who has created the sacred symbolic Kine, the emblem and the substance of 'joy,' representing at once the possessions of the holy people, and those people themselves. And He it is who, in answer to her wail (Y. XXIX, 1, 9), has spread for her the meadows 'of Piety' as arranged in the consultations (Y. XXXIII, 6) made on her behalf.
4. And this 'Spirit,' as might be expected, does not confine its attention to the inspiration of Piety alone. The justice of Mazda is vindicated. The wicked are afflicted under its influence with a long wounding (Y. XXX, 11) for their sins, and for their cynical preference for prosperous men of bad and dishonest character as well as of heretical faith.
5. But he expresses his confidence that Ahura Mazda will, in the end, set all aright. He will, unlike the persons just mentioned, give unto the ashavan, not kasu alone, but paru, (not a meagre share, but fulness) of whatever is the best, while the dregvant and the aka (verse 4), the faithless and the wicked, although they may be isvanô, prosperous, will only taste the enjoyment of their wealth aside from God, and therefore marred. So long as they pursue their usual course, they live in actions inspired not by the bountiful spirit, but by the Evil Mind, a mind as aka as the person alluded to in the words paraos (kâthê) akô dregvaitê in the previous verse.
6. But, as ever, the moral appeals, and ascriptions of praise, lofty as they are, are not left without the support and service of the ritual. God will give these gifts, and all which are the best, but in connection with His Fire imparted to these struggling sides (Y. XXXI, 2), the believing and the faithless (verses 4, 5), through the increase of His Piety and Order; for that piety, as ever the instructress, will convert all those who come to her, and seek her light (Y. XXX, 1; Y. XLV, 1). Nay, she will cause all the living to choose and believe in God (Y. XXXI, 3).
(If the first two verses here are more like the work of a disciple, the last four show again the original tone. It must never be forgotten, however, that later and even interpolated portions are, in their sense, also original, and differ but slightly in their great age from pieces more directly from the first composer.)
11. And to this 1 (man, His chosen saint), Ahura Mazda will give 2 both the two (greatest gifts, His)
[paragraph continues] Universal Weal and Immortality, by means of His bountiful Spirit, and with His Best Mind, from (the desire to maintain His) Righteous moral Order in word and deed, and by the (strength and wisdom) of His Sovereign Power, (established) in Piety (among His folk).
2. Aye, (that blessedness, which is the) best 1 (creation) of this most bounteous spirit, Ahura Mazda will bring forth in action with words from the mouth and tongue of His Good Mind (within His seers), and by the two hands 2 of Âramaiti (His Piety as she lives within the soul). And by such 3 wise (beneficence is) He the father of the righteous Order (within our worship and our lives).
3. And Thou art therein, O Ahura Mazda! the bountiful One who appertains to, and who possesses, that (most bounteous) spirit in that Thou art He who for this 4 (man, in whom this spirit works) hath made the joy-creating Kine. (And as to her), for her, as
joyful meadows 1 of her peace, wilt Thou bestow (Thine) Âramaiti (who is our Piety as earth considered), since he 2 (for her) hath taken counsel with Thy Good Mind, Lord!
4. (But this Thy bounteous spirit doth not alone bestow rewards and blessings on the good.) The wicked (foemen of the Faith) are harmed, and from (the motives which move) that bounteous spirit (of Thine own), O Mazda 3! but not thus the saints. (And yet the ruler's pride would ever slight the righteous.) The feeble man alone stands free to give in kindly obligation 4 to Thy saint, but having wealth and ruling power, the evil (man) is (at the service) of the wicked, and for much 5.
5. But Thou wilt give these gifts, and through Thy (most blessed and most) bounteous spirit, O Ahura Mazda! to this 1 Thy holy saint, for they are whatsoever is the best; but far 2 from Thy love the wicked has his portion, abiding in the actions of the Evil Mind.
6. Aye, these things wilt Thou give (to him), O Thou Ahura Mazda! and through Thy bounteous spirit, (and) by Thy Fire as in a good bestowal to
the two striving 1 (throngs) through the prosperous increase of our Piety, and of the Righteous ritual and moral Truth; for that (Piety of ours instructing) doth teach 2 the many coming ones who seek her (face)!
147:1 Or, 'to us;' but in that case it would be the Kine who 'took counsel' as mentioned in the third verse. This is, however, far from impossible, as she is mentioned as uttering her wail, and being answered by her maker in Y. XXIX, 1, 2. So understanding, 'to us' becomes an admirable rendering for verse 1; but in verse 3, it is strained, as the Kine for whom (Y. XXIX, 9) Zarathustra was appointed, could not so readily be declared to be the one which was given to 'us,' she representing 'us' in that place to a great extent. There is a certain plausibility about the rendering 'to us,' but I think ahmâi refers to ashaonê understood (see verses 4 and 5). The Pahlavi, moreover, is against a first person.
147:2 Dãn (Geldn.) seems to be a 3rd plural aorist subjunctive; the p. 148 plural being owing to the fact that Ahura gives with the other Ameshôspends. Dã, might also be the relic of the proper word which represents the participle; comp. dãs (sic).
148:1 The idea of the summum bonum seems to have early developed itself, and from this constant use of this word in the neut. singular and plural, and also with anghu.
148:2 Notice once more the pronounced personification of both Vohu Manah and Âramaiti; see Y. XXX, 8, and Y. XLIV, 14, &c. The Pahlavi translation notices the dual form pavan kolâ II yadman.
148:3 The Pahlavi seems to lead those who regard ôyâ as = a form of ava; it has zak î.
148:4 This is the ahmâi of the first verse, (but always possibly = 'to us,' if the verses are not to be brought into any kind of connection.) Otherwise it obviously refers to ashâunê* in 4 and 5; so the Pahlavi throughout. See ahmâi and hôi in LI, 6.
149:1 Many would say that we have here an instance in which the identity of Âramaiti with the earth is recognised in the Gâthas. I would say, on the contrary, that here we have an instance in which a poetical conception gave rise to a later error or fantastical association. Piety, with frugal virtue, induced a thorough husbandry; and secured the hushiti, peaceful home-life. She gave meadow to the Kine; at the next step she poetically represents the meadows, and then the earth. If vâstrâi, it would be for 'nurture.'
149:2 Or 'she,' as she once bewailed in a colloquy. Otherwise the person who was appointed to care for her interests is meant. Compare Y. XXXIII, 6, where the righteous Zaotar speaks as desiring counsels (hemparstôis) in the interest of the pastures, and the laws of the sacred agriculture. Cp. also the later reproduction of the idea in an extended form in the Vendîdâd. The zaotar of Y. XXXIII, 6, may have been the ashavan of verses 4 and 5.
149:3 Voc. with K5 (Barth.).
149:4 The Pahlavi gives us, as usual, our first surmise as to the meaning of 'kâthê;' I follow Geldner with regard to it as against Haug. The expressions here are not literal.
149:5 Isvâkît connects only indirectly with kaseuskît, as kâthê intervenes. I regard paraos akô dregvâitê as presenting the true antithesis to kaseuskît nâ ashâunê. The isvâ may have kît merely from the influence of jingle, being at the head of the line like kaseus; isvâ means p. 150 of itself 'possessing means.' Paraos may depend on kâthê understood, as kaseus depends on it expressed. Moreover, his in all the instances in which it is used ends the sense, and here is separated by the caesura from paraos, which, however, is of no great importance. The discourse is of the wicked; the holy are incidentally mentioned, and here their ill-treatment is signalised. Akô cannot well mean 'hostile' here; see also akât in the following verse. Isvâkît, if understood with nâ, alters nothing. 'A man was desirous of (little for the service of the saint, but even when he himself was rich, in the desire) of much was the evil for the evil.' Or, taking kaseuskît as governed by isvâkît understood with kâthê as before understood in the last line: 'Only a man (men) (possessed) of little was at the service of the righteous, while an evil man (men) possessed of much (was at the service) of the wicked.' The other translation is: 'Even a man of little means stands to the willing service of the saint, but a man even of large means is hostile (?) to the wicked.' This is very glib and so attractive, but I cannot accept it in view of the context. Gâthic expression is often unfortunately far from glib; but cramped, awkward, and apt to contain more thought than could be conveniently expressed within the counted number of syllables. The glib rendering needs other language than that in the MSS. See the following verse, which directly contrasts the treatment of the good and evil by Ahura Himself.
150:1 See ahmâi in verse 1, and ashaunê in verse 4. Ahura treats the saint in a manner the reverse from that practised by the nâ kaseus* and akô, not giving sparingly to the good, nor much to the wicked.
150:2 The Pahlavi gives us our first surmise here, as usual, by gavîd min hanâ î lak dôshisnîh.
151:1 Or, 'by the two aráni;' but compare the ãsayau in Y. XXXI, 2 just preceding ranôibyâ; so here the ashavan and dregvant are mentioned in a preceding verse. The Pahlavi is unvarying with patkardârânŏ. I will not positively decide as to this point; generally, however, the preferred rendering is in the text, while on very many questions there is nearly an even balance of probabilities.
151:2 Or, 'chooses to herself;' but a causative sense may be expressed by an intensive form; the Pahlavi also here bears evidence in the same sense to a causative by hêmnunêd, itself, however, meaning only the object caused; namely, the belief.