THE MESSAGE OF ZARATHUSHTRA
Zarathushtra was a very inquisitive boy. He asked and learned much from his broad-minded mother and later from his father. His mother entrusted him to a good teacher. At the early age of seven, his increasing queries about religion led his father to bring him to the high Karapan, and his colleagues-the ritualistic priests of the ancient Indo-Iranian cult. Steeped in their own superstitions and groping in gloom, the prejudiced priests could neither change the boy’s mind nor could they, because of his father’s high position, convict him. On another occasion when the high priest was invited to talk to the boy and also share a meal, the boy was bold enough to refuse to join them in the pre-meal rituals. The outraged old despot left the house, rode off in his chariot, and ‘dropped dead on his way home,’ perhaps because, he, as gluttonous priest, had a heart attack.
The priests turned Zarathushtra away unconvinced, and he turned away from the priestly class and their fanciful falsities and colorful rituals for good. He turned to nature. He watched with care the domestic animals. He attended the horses, cows, and sheep, and played with their young ones. He became fond of the dog, the most loyal of man’s friends. He watched the birds. He looked at the trees. He listened to the running river. And he looked up the sky-the sun during the day and the moon and the stars during the night. His mother taught him the names of several stars and planets. His father told him of astronomy and time telling. He became acquainted with farming and animal husbandry. He watched his parents attending to sick people and animals. He had an ear for nursery rhymes. Then he became interested in poetry. And his good old teacher had taught him rhythm and meter. He was on the road to becoming a master of all contemporary sciences.
At the age of fifteen, Zarathushtra¦s father invested him with the girdle, today called Sadreh-pûshi or Navjote, that admitted him as an adult member of the family. As far as his studies of nature and society were concerned, he was far above the average person. He had taken every opportunity to learn something new from every person or quarter. Good things gave him better ideas, and bad things made him think of ways to find a cure. He had learned enough from his observations. He turned silent, pondering, meditating, increasingly spiritual. He started anew with questions. But now he put the questions to himself. Restless, inquisitive, Zarathushtra kept asking himself:
Who made the sun and the stars in their paths? Who makes the moon wax and wane? Who holds the earth below, who keeps the sky from breaking away? Who created the waters and who the plants? Who lends the wind and clouds speed? Which artist fashioned the light and the darkness? Which artist planned sleep, and which awakening? Who made the dawn, day, and dusk?
And he added: I am eager to know all this and more. As the years passed, his questions moved from nature to society: Who made the child lovingly attentive to the parent? He went a little further: What is happening and what will happen? What rewards wait for the rightful And what for the wrongful? Which of the two courses is better? The one the true and honest chooses for himself, or the one the deluded and deceitful takes? And, almost in despair: How, how can false gods be good rulers, whose mumbling priests have delivered the world to fury and whose princes have forced it to lament?
Zarathushtra’s head swam with queries. But all along, he observed one fact:
There is a law that governs the universe, that regulates it. Sun, moon, stars, planets, days, nights, seasons, waters, plants, animals, and humans all have their positions ascertained and paths determined. The elders called itASHA or ARTA precision, truth. But who established asha? Who promotes it? Zarathushtra contemplated in silence. And he realized that precision comes from wisdom. There must be a master mind, a good mind –VOHU MANAH – behind the whole system.
His mind contemplated “good mind.” His mind scanned the system. It scanned and scanned until he felt fully that his mind was getting in tune with good mind. He realized that he was encompassed by enlightenment throughVohu Manah. He was enlightened. He received Ushtâ, radiant happiness that comes from enlightenment. And slowly he found that he knew the answers, rather the Answer. Each of his questions was an answer in itself, and that led to another answer, until he comprehended the God, the only God.
Led by his good mind-wisdom-to God. He called God MAZDÂ, literally “Super-Wisdom.” Coupled with AHURA, the Being, he addressed his God sometimes as MAZDÂ AHURA, “Wise Lord,” and sometimes on much lesser times AHURA MAZDÂ, Lord Wise. When lovingly addressing God’s wisdom, he simply used Mazdâ, and when he laid more emphasis on God’s existence and sovereignty, he used Ahura. Zarathushtra retained the term Ahura, literally “the living, the being,” and which is Aryan for “lord” and which was applied to both gods and men. But he rejected daêva, literally the “shining one,” much associated with the fanciful gods of the ancient pantheon. Mazdâ means supreme intellect, prime wisdom. This Zarathushtra added to Ahura to denote the Supreme Being with which he was in tune.
Until Zarathushtra, gods had been fancied mostly as powerful, ruthless, awesome, vengeful, and dreaded in the supremacy. Now it was wisdom – Mazdâ – that characterized the God discovered by Zarathushtra. Wisdom subsumed all good qualities he came to think of as God’s: insight, foresight, power, sovereignty, progress, creativity, kindness, love, and above all, eternity. With wisdom prevailing, all the fanciful falsities faded away. So complete was the eradication that Zarathushtra does not mention any of the Aryan gods and goddesses by name in his Gathas–no Varuna, Mithra, Verethraghna, Apam-napât, or a goddess of waters, not even in contempt. Why mention something that had never existed!
A super-wise God would not be simply the creator of Asha, the law regulating the universe, Vohu Manah, the good mind that lends wisdom to all other creations. That would make God a mighty maintainer. What about promotion and expansion? Is the creation complete, or is it continuing? Zarathushtra continued to question his good mind and to realize the answers.
He conceived and comprehended a new dimension in God — SPENTA MAINYU, the “progressive mentality,” the creative mind, the divine faculty that creates, sustains, and promotes the universe. He discovered God’s continuous creative aspect. Although perfect and eternal, the supreme, as realized by Zarathushtra, is not an eternal perfection that gives one a static notion. A being that has created all it wanted to create within a specific time, and is now enjoying the restful maintenance of its creation with certain ups and downs, is not what Zarathushtra realized. Ahura Mazda is not only Spenta Mainyu, he is “most progressive.” His is a continuous creative process. Always on the move — a universe, a cosmos, ever-increasing, ever-evolving. Now that Zarathushtra knew his God, he turned to him, to him only, and put his questions to him:
This I ask you, tell me truly, Lord.
And his questions continued to supply the answers: How shall I reverently pay You Your homage? Teach this to a friend like me… Let us all be given, through loving righteousness, help so that it come to us through good mind.
The questions were full of fervor, and the answers were filled with favor.
Zarathushtra fell in love with God.
I appeal to you. Please, Lord, see to it. Lend me the help a friend gives a friend. Grant me, through truth and precision, The riches of good mind. What would a lover wish? To meet the beloved: Lord Wise, I am longing to have your vision and communion. Come to me, O Best One, O Wise One, In person and in sight, Through truth and good mind.
Zarathushtra wanted a complete union with God. But how? To become merged and thus to lose himself? No, he had found God through good mind, so he wanted the union through good mind. Therefore he meditated and developed his mental faculties to such a degree that he found himself encircled by enlightenment through good mind. It told him: If you wish to know your Lord, know yourself first, your inner self and your outer self, and your environment! Good mind inspired Zarathushtra to rediscover himself, his God, and God’s good creation, all at once.
He had all the answers. No more questions. He was fully enlightened. Was that all? Was that what he wanted? Yes and no. He wanted God. He had God. But he never wanted the Wise Being for himself alone. He wanted, fervently, others to know God, to love God, and unite in God. Thus he turned toward men to tell them about his discovery and to guide them to it. Zarathushtra was feeling fresh, strong, and progressive. He knew the task ahead was not easy, yet he was optimistic. He was determined. “As long as I have the will and power, I shall teach mankind to seek truth,” he promised himself. He knew the religion he had founded was best. He hoped to guide all life to it.
Zarathushtra came with a modern message, fresh, never heard before. He called it Mâñthra thought-provoking, and called himself Mâñthran thought-provoker, mentor. He founded a religion and called it Daênâ Vanguhi, Good Conscience, for to him religion was nothing but an individual’s conscience awakened to facts. Much water had flowed down the neighboring river between his meditation in silence and the day of his enlightenment. Tradition says he was thirty years old. He was tall, robust, handsome, wholesome, wise, mature, cool-headed, composed, imposing, impressive, and an eloquent poet.