Humbly I Pray
(11+3 stanzas — Days 1st to 14th)
Opening Salutation by an Unknown Ancient Poet:
ýânîm manô ýânîm vacô ýânîm shyaothnem
ferâ ameshâ speñtâ gâthå gêurvâin.
nemô vê gâthå ashaonîsh!
Ideal are the thoughts, ideal the words, ideal the deeds
of the Righteous Zarathushtra.
Let the ever-living promulgators present the Gathas.
Homage to the righteous Gathas!
Note: This introductory salutation was, most probably, composed by an early reciter of the Gathas who was himself/herself a devout promulgator of the Sublime Songs and a great preacher of the Divine Doctrine. It has been faithfully preserved by those who followed this teacher and gave it a high position.
ASHEM VOHU, THE MAIN MOTTO
Ashem vohû vahishtem astî. Ushtâ astî
Ushtâ ahmâi hyat ashâi vahishtâi ashem.
Righteousness is the best good. It is radiant happiness.
Radiant happiness comes to the person to whom
righteousness is for the sake of the best righteousness alone.
Commentary: Righteousness is the universal law that stands for order, evolution, progress, and perfection as ordained by the Creator for the creation. One becomes righteous by doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right place, and with the right means to obtain the right result. It means precision in every thought, words, and deed. It means constant improvement and continuous renovation. It brings enlightenment, true radiating happiness, provided that this happiness is shared with others. It then becomes righteousness for the sake of righteousness.
The above Avestan couplet frequently repeated in prayers, is popularly known by the name of ‘Ashem Vohu’, the two words in the beginning of the text. It is, in fact, the “main motto” of the entire Zarathushtrian teachings. Righteousness, the universal law of precision, is the basic principle of the Good Religion.
Zarathushtra conveniently divides mankind into two camps: Adherents of ‘asha’, righteousness. They are ‘ashavan’, the righteous who promotes the human society and the living world. Followers of ‘druj’, harmful lie, wrong. They are ‘dregvant’, the wrongful. The main mission of Zarathushtra and his companions is to promote ‘asha’ and to eliminate ‘druj’ — to completely establish an ‘ashavan’ society that radiates ‘ushtâ’, enlightening happiness to all.
Pondering Points: Righteousness radiates health and happiness.
The Principle of Choice
ýathâ ahû vairyô
athâ ratush ashâtcît hacâ
vanghêush dazdâ mananghô
shyaothananãm anghêush mazdâi
xshathremcâ ahurâi â
ýim drigubyô dadat vâstârem.
Both the lord and the leader are to be chosen
because of their righteousness.
These two appointments are made with good mind
so that acts of life are done for the Wise One,
and the dominion of God is well established,
in which the chosen person becomes the rehabilitator
of the rightful who are oppressed.
NOTE: “Ahuna Vairya”, or as commonly called by the two words in the beginning, “Yatha Ahu”, is the Principle of Choice. It is the Zarathushtrian master formula for a spiritual and material democratic system in which one is free to choose a person as his or her lord (ahu — literally “the Being”) and leader (ratu — literally “proper guide”). A “lord” is a person who is able to free the world from mental and physical evil, and a “leader” is a person who can lead the world to truth, precision, progress, wholeness, and immortality. In other words, one is the remover of ills and evils in the living world, particularly the human society, and the other is the promoter and the developer of the now clean and free-from-evil world. It may be noted that the term “lord” used here to denote “ahu” does not convey the usual English meaning of one who holds a position of arbitrary authority but “the being” who is democratically chosen to a position of trust because of his or her proven righteous record.
The only criterion for the choice of such a person is his or her righteous record of competent service. The choice for the appointments is based on good mind, sound judgment, and discretion. Such a righteous selection leads the people to work for God alone — an act that transforms the world into a divine dominion, chosen and established by the people themselves. It is, in fact, the spiritual and material dominion of the people, by the people, for the people, yet selflessly and devotedly established in the name of God, the Sovereign. It is the order in which no one is wrongly oppressed. The chosen lord and leader see that all those who are wrongfully oppressed and have their rights taken away, are fully rehabilitated. The divine dominion has no oppression and therefore, no one as oppressed and impoverished.
This short stanza of 20 words and two particles encapsulates the spirit of the entire Gathas, the sublime songs of Zarathushtra. It is a unique formula for a divinely inspired, sound democracy which ensures mental and physical peace and prosperity for all the living beings, including mankind.
The following terms and phrases are worthy of special attention and consideration: The emphasis on “vairyo”, to be chosen, worthy of election; “ashaat-cheet hacha”, only on account of righteousness, qualified for competency and accuracy; “vangheush manangho”, of good mind, based on good thinking; “shyaothananam angheush”, acts of life; “Mazdaai”, for the Wise One; “khshathrem-chaa Ahuraai aa”, the dominion belongs to God; “drigubyo”, to the wrongly “restrained”, the oppressed righteous; and “dadat vaastaarem”, appointed a “rehabilitator”, gave a reinstating person.
Keeping the above points in mind, we can realize the significance of the stanza. It is the basis for evolving a peaceful world. It provides us with the freedom to choose our spiritual and physical lord and leader and then work with him or her to create the world which we have all along been desiring.
That is the reason the Avesta, that part of the collection of the writings which follows and sometimes explains the Gathas, lays the highest emphasis on the Ahuna Vairya formula. According to it, it concerns the principles which lead to salvation — “”the best life, the best righteousness, the best enlightenment… Should the material world understand it, memorize it, Ahuna Vairya would lead to immortality…”” (Yasna 19, an Avestan commentary on Ahuna Vairya)
It is because of Ahuna [Vairya}, the true beginning of the Gathas at the head of the first song, that the First Gatha of seven songs is called “Ahunavaiti,” literally “possessing Ahuna [Vairya}.
With Ahuna Vairya in view, we can understand all the 100 stanzas of the seven songs, particularly the second song, better. And we will comprehend mental and material, spiritual and physical “democracy” and “freedom of choice” even better.
ahyâ ýâsâ nemanghâ
manyêush mazdâ pourvîm speñtahyâ
ashâ vîspêñg shyaothanâ
vanghêush xratûm mananghô
ýâ xshnevîshâ gêushcâ urvânem.
Mazda, Wise God, with a bow and uplifted arms, I pray.
First, I ask for support through progressive mentality.
Then I pray that I may perform all my actions,
based as they are on the wisdom of good mind,
precisely according to the laws of righteousness
so that I please You and the soul of the Living World.
(The Gathas: Song 1.1)
Summary Substance: This is how Zarathushtra begins his Manthra, the “thought-provoking Message,” the GATHAS. A simple posture of a humble bow with hands outstretched. Praying for help through progressive mentality, the divine creative faculty, to base every action on wisdom and righteousness, solely to please God and the creation. Asking no personal favor. Offering serene service with love and fervor.
Pondering Points: Be humble and selfless yet creative, wise, precise, promoting and pleasing to serve.
ýê vå mazdâ ahurâ
pairî-jasâi vohû mananghâ
maibyô dâvôi ahvå
astvatascâ hyatcâ mananghô
âyaptâ ashât hacâ
ýâish rapañtô daidît xvâthrê.
Wise God, I approach You
through good mind.
Grant me through righteousness
the blessings of both existences,
the material and the mental,
so that I lead my companions to happiness.
(The Gathas: Song 1.2)
Summary Substance: A prayer to meditate through good mind to acquire a balanced proportion of a spiritual and material life, only to bring happiness to companions.
Pondering Points: Think good, be rich in mind and matter, and make your friends truly happy.
ýê vå ashâ ufyânî
manascâ vohû apaourvîm
ýaêibyô xshathremcâ aghzhaonvamnem
â môi rafedhrâi zavêñg jasatâ.
O Righteousness and Good Mind,
I shall sing you praises none has sung before.
I shall likewise praise the Wise God
and those for whom Serenity promotes
the unconquerable dominion.
Respond to my calls for help.
(Gathas: Song 1 stanza 3)
Summary Substance: God and gods have been praised from times immemorial. Zarathushtra is the foremost person to pay serious attention to good mind and righteousness, the two divine faculties that “wisely” regulate and “precisely” maintain every movement in the universe. He is the first to praise them in his songs. He also praises the only God and then every person who enjoys serene peace and increasing prosperity. He prays to God for good thinking, precise actions, and lasting stability.
Pondering Points: Good mind and righteousness deserve special attention. Only peace promotes prosperity. Pray to have them.
ýê urvânem mêñ gairê
vohû dadê hathrâ mananghâ
ashîshcâ shyaothananãm vîdush
ýavat isâi tavâcâ
avat xsâi aêshê ashahyâ.
I, who am attuning my soul
to Good Mind,
know that the actions
done for the Wise God have their rewards.
As long as I continue to have the will and the power,
I shall teach others to strive after Righteousness.
(Gathas: Song 1 stanza 4)
Summary Substance: Working with good mind, Zarathushtra realizes that a good action has a good consequence – – a reward. He determines to work to the best of his ability to teach and preach Truth to others.
Pondering Points: Tune in good thoughts and feel sure you will be rewarded. Work zealously to teach others what you know.
ashâ kat thwâ daresânî
manascâ vohû vaêdemnô
gâtûmcâ ahurâi sevîshtâi
anâ mãthrâ mazishtem
vâurôimaidî xrafstrâ hizvâ.
Having realized Good Mind,
when shall I see you, O Righteousness?
When shall I find the path to the Most Powerful God,
and listen to the voice of the Wise One.
With these greatest thought-provoking words,
we shall convince the barbarians to choose the right [religion].
(Gathas: Song 1 stanza 5)
Summary Substance: In tune with good mind, Zarathushtra wants to perceive and comprehend righteousness, the universal law of precise operation, the law that leads to God, the lead that listens to God — only to convey the divine words to all, even to those who need to be raised, enlightened, and civilized.
Pondering Points: Think good, acting precisely, listen to the divine voice within, and convey the Message to all without discrimination.
vohû gaidî mananghâ
dâidî ashâ- då daregâyû
ereshvâish tû uxdhâish mazdâ
zarathushtrâi aojôñghvat rafenô
ýâ daibishvatô dvaêshå taurvayâmâ.
Come through good mind,
and grant a long life through righteousness.
O Wise Lord, through Your sublime words,
give me, Zarathushtra
and my men strong support,
so that we may overcome the spite of the hateful.
(Gathas: Song 1 stanza 6)
Summary Substance: Zarathushtra prays for divine inspiration through good mind and a long life based on righteousness so that he and his companions become strong enough to dispel malice maligned by antagonists.
dâidî ashâ tãm ashîm
vanghêush âyaptâ mananghô
dâidî tû ârmaitê
vîshtâspâi îshem maibyâcâ
dåstû mazdâ xshayâcâ
ýâ vê mãthrâ srevîm ârâdå.
Grant, O Righteousness, those rewards
which are the gifts of Good Mind.
And you, Serenity, grant
Vishtaspa his wish and mine too.
O Wise One, grant the power through which
we shall successfully proclaim
Your thought-provoking message.
(Gathas: Song 1 stanza 7)
Summary Substance: Gifts of good mind can only be obtained through righteous deeds and tranquil peace is what one wishes. It would then mean the power that enables one to spread the thought-provoking message to all who wish to listen. This is what Zarathushtra prays for.
Pondering Points: Be right, get wise, enjoy peace, feel strong, and see success in spreading the thought-provoking message.
vahishtem thwâ vahishtâ
ýêm ashâ vahishtâ hazaoshem
ahurem ýâsâ vâunush
narôi ferashaoshtrâi maibyâcâ
ýaêibyascâ ît rånghanghôi
vîspâi ýavê vanghêush mananghô.
With love, I pray to You, the Best Lord,
Who are in harmony with the best righteousness.
Grant the best of good mind for ever
to noble Ferashaoshtra, to me,
and all those who are worthy of it.
(Gathas: Song 1 stanza 8)
Summary Substance: Zarathushtra loves his God. God is the Best Lord who is in harmony with the universal law of precision he himself created. No law-breaking even by God. No freakish happening, no unnatural miracles, no hallucinations. Zarathushtra prays for the best from good thinking for himself, his companion, and all those who deserve it.
Pondering Points: Love God, be in harmony with Nature, and pray for best through good mind.
anâish vå nôit ahurâ mazdâ
ashemcâ ýânâish zaranaêmâ
manascâ hyat vahishtem
ýôi vê ýôithemâ dasemê stûtãm
îshô xshathremcâ savanghãm.
Lord, may we not anger You,
And also Righteousness and the Best Mind
by abusing these gifts.
We are united in offering You our praises,
for we consider You, the mighty master of promotion,
to be most worthy of invocation.
(Gathas: Song 1 stanza 9)
Summary Substance: Asking too many favors! Too many favors may go waste. Zarathushtra pauses. His pleas may not prove pleasing. But his pleas are not pleas. They are praises by a group united in prayer. Their praises are for God and the divine principles which stand for promotion and progress. They are worth praising.
Pondering Points: Ask for what you can utilize well, be united, pray for promotion, and praise and practice the divine principles of good life.
at ýêñg ashâatcâ vôistâ
vanghêushcâ dâthêñg mananghô
erethwêñg mazdâ ahurâ
aêibyô perenâ âpanâish kâmem
at vê xshmaibyâ asûnâ vaêdâ
xvaraithyâ vaiñtyâ sravå.
Wise Lord, fulfill the desire of those
whom you know to be just and earnest
in righteousness and good mind to attain rewards.
For I know, loving songs for a worthy purpose
never go unanswered by You.
(Gathas: Song 1 stanza 10)
Summary Substance: The earnest desire of a loving person is to please the beloved by promoted what the beloved wants. The desire, a prayer to serve, is always answered.
Pondering Points: Love sincerely to receive love in reward.
ýê âish ashem nipånghê
manascâ vohû ýavaêtâitê
tvêm mazdâ ahurâ
frô mâ sîshâ thwahmât vaocanghê
manyêush hacâ thwâ êeånghâ
ýâish â anghush pouruyô bavat!
I have always observed
the principles of righteousness and good mind.
Wise God, teach me to speak the thoughts of Your mind,
and the words of Your mouth:
the teachings by which
the pristine life shall be [re]established.
(Gathas: Song 1 stanza 11)
Summary Substance: Zarathushtra thinking clearly and working accordingly, wants to know more- the very divine message that would help him to restore human behavior to its pristine purity, to Nature, to progress in the right direction.
Pondering Points: Turn to Nature, hear God, and enjoy a good, progressive life.