Ahura Mazda

Ahura Mazda

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By:Prof.Farhang Mehr

Zarathushtra’s perception of God is infinitude in time and space (Y31.8), constructiveness and beneficence in immanence (Y51.6, Y47.3, 6), wisdom and truth in essence (Y28.2, 3, 4, Y51.7). God appears to man only in his attributes and Zarathushtra defines the ineffable God in ethical terms.

According to the Gathas, He is Wisdom, Righteousness-cum-Justice, Serenity-with-love, Divine Might, Perfection and Eternity. He is the Light of Lights, and all goodness emanates from Him. His attributes are etherealized moral concepts expressed in pure abstractions. They are but aspects of Ahura Mazda, though attempts have been made to personify them as archangels.

Glimpses of these attributes dwell within each and every human being, and through them, man as the co-worker of God can interact with God if he so chooses. It is only through these attributes that finite man can comprehend and describe the otherwise inexplicable and infinite Ahura Mazda.

Goodness, constructiveness, and justice (truth) are central to Zarathushtra’s concept of Ahura Mazda.

The term Ahura Mazda signifies the Lord of both celestial and terrestrial worlds. Ahura means “life” and Mazda means “wisdom. Ahura Mazdais the Essence and Lord of Life and Wisdom.

Wisdom and truth are the constant threads running through the Gathas.

The Six cardinal epithets of Ahura Mazda, known collectively as Amesha Spenta, are the quintessence of Ahura Mazda. Each of them in its sublime universality represents Ahura Mazda but none is Ahura MazdaAhura Mazda is each and all of them — the concept of plurality in oneness. (Y28.3, Y31.7). The following constitute the six epithets.

Vahishta Mana.

Vahishta Mana is the sublime universal mind. It is the essence of good and holy wisdom. Zarathushtra perceived Ahura Mazda in his wisdom (Y32.8), and instructed the people to choose between different ideas with the counsel of good mind (Y30.2). Vahishta Mana signifies the omniscience of God, and is the first in the hierarchy of attributes.

Asha Vahishta.

Asha Vahishta is the sublime universal truth-cum-justice. Righteousness, truth and justice are identical and interchangeable. Asha represents the eternal law that governs the Universe. The natural and divine law coincide in AshaAsha also represents Ahura Mazda’s will. It stands second in the hierarchy of attributes and was created in Ahura Mazda’s good mind.

The two attributes of Vohu Mana and Asha often appear together in association with Ahura Mazda. Duchesne-Guillemin calls them the Holy Triad. The process of Zarathushtra’s elevation to prophethood reflects the joint functioning of the three.

Khshatra Vayria.

No English word can explain it fully and precisely. Khshatra connotes a combination of holy, good and constructive potentialities; it signifies divine hegemony, power, and influence. Khshatra epitomizes the true Might that fosters love and eliminates hatred; promotes harmony and thwarts strife; induces humility and suppresses conceitedness; spreads justice and excludes revenge.

Spenta Armaity.

Spenta Armaity embodies love and serenity. It indicates the inherent attitude of benevolence and vouchsafeness, the loftiest dedication and selfless service. It connotes giving without expectation, and dutifulness without contemplation of reward.

Hurvatat.

Hurvatat purports perfection — a state of all-round excellence and the absence of desire.

Ameretat.

Ameretat means immortality. It implies eternity, immutability, and being without a beginning and an end.

Life in its widest connotation is in Ahura Mazda, who is not begotten, nor is perishable. The universe exists and life is sustained through Him.Ameretat is free from time and space. Hurvatat and Ameretat are often together and that connotes the proximity of the two.

Though not included in the six, Spenta Mainyu constitutes another cardinal attribute of God. It is the sublime constructive power, the universal force of creativity, the essence of goodness (Y33.1) and the apex of positivity. Spenta means growth, augmentation and progress. It symbolizes God’s productivity. It is the self-realizing quality or activity of Ahura Mazda, Dhalla, Zoroastrianism. It is the self-generating energy that leads to the creation and evolution of the universe. Spenta Mainyu is dynamic, and creation is an ongoing process. As Zaehner has said, for Zarathushtra, holiness meant also abundance, growth and health. The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism.

Ahura Mazda is the creator. The Gathic words conveying that idea, are Datar and Tashea. The first word (from the root Da) means giver and bestower (Y43.5, Y46.9). In this sense, all blessings are given by God and all that is good emanates from him. The second word (from the rootTash meaning cut and shape) means shaper, designer and maker (Y44.5). In this sense all creations are designed and made by God. Hence, creation implies a combination of giving and shaping, emanating and designing, shaping and augmenting. Creation was not ex nihilo — out of nothingness. Creation has always been in God and with God.

According to the Gathas, Ahura Mazda is the Absolute, the All-perfect, the Spirit of Spirits, the Essence of Being, the First cause, the creator (Y44.3), the sustainer (Y44.5), the source of goodness, the sublime Wisdom, the nature of Truth, the quintessence of justice, the constructive power, the Eternal laws, the unchangeable, the Ultimate Reality, and the only Adorable one to be worshipped. Ahura Mazda is transcendent, immanent, and a-personal. In his transcendence, he is infinitely great and beyond all creations. He is independent of Cosmos, but the Cosmos depends on him. He has no spatial location. Revelation, prophethood, and intuition relate to the transcendence of Ahura Mazda.

In his immanence, he manifests himself in the entire creation. He is present everywhere in the cosmos: in the grains of sands, in the seeds of plants, in the being of animals, and in the spirit of man. He is in and with, as well as out and beyond, all creations. He is beyond time and space, though time and space are with and in him. All creations exist in the presence of God.

Cosmos does not veil God, nor is it His body; yet cosmos has a soul (Y29.1). It is an expression of God’s creativity. In his a-personality, he is not a person, but has a personal relationship with man. He is abstract yet real; he is a pure monad and devoid of anthropomorphic traits. Anthropomorphic ideas are rarer in the Gathas than in all other scriptures, says George Carter Zoroastrianism and Judaism, (1970). The few references to God’s all-seeing eyes and reward-distributing hands should be taken as metaphors. God has no shape or form; he is the essence of consciousness without a conscious self.

The dignity, spirituality and privity of Ahura Mazda, presented by Asho Zarathushtra was an innovation in the ancient world. It was a new concept introduced in a new faith. Zarathushtra presented God as moral perfection, to be loved and not feared. Ahura Mazda is a just and not a revengeful God. He is the author of everything good and all good things. Destruction does not emanate from Him. This does not imply the existence of a primordial destroyer. Good and evil in Zarathushtrian tradition represent a moral and not a cosmic dualism. Nothing can detract from the monotheistic character of Zarathushtrianism; nothing can disparage the profundity of moral dualism in that faith.

To conclude, the Zarathushtrian faith believes in one creator-sustainer of the universe who is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent; he has no beginning, no end, and is unchanging and eternal; he is the only one worthy of worship; he created the universe in his good mind (Vahishta Mana), shaped it in his conscience (Daena), manifested it through his benevolent spirit (Spenta Mainyu), and set it into motion by his will (Asha) — the eternal law of justice and righteousness.

Ahura Mazda created man as his co-worker with faculties to discern between right and wrong, and to work for the advancement of the universe.Ahura Mazda revealed his eternal law to the prophet Zarathushtra in the Gathas; he proclaimed the law of consequences and the reality of life hereafter, and he prescribed true happiness (Ushta) for the righteous.

The followers of the Gathas should pray through the righteous thought, deed, words of Asha, the good wisdom of Vohu Mana, and the love and serenity of Armaity, that the benevolent spirit of Ahura Mazda may grant them the perfect bliss of Hurvatat and the divine power of Khshatra to bring solace to the soul of the universe and to immortalize themselves.

 

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