If the spirit of Vedanta singing through the Gita endeavors to bring the world to Dharma-Duty, the theme which Zoroastrianism recites for humanity is Ashoi-Purity. The very words with which Ahuramazda rejoiced Zoroaster as given in the Vendidad (V-21) are: “For man purity is the greatest good even from his birth.” This code of purity contains an exhortation profound in its simplicity (IX-19).
Make thyself pure, O righteous man! Anyone in the world here below can win purity for himself, namely when he cleanses himself with good thoughts, words and deeds.
The first, the shortest, but regarded as the most efficacious of prayers is Ashem-Vohu which translated is:
Purity is the noblest blessing. Happiness it is—happiness to him who is pure for the sake of noblest purity itself.
The metaphysical and cosmical aspects of the twin-spirits, good and evil, Ormazd and Ahriman, have already been considered. Just as the great war of Kurukshetra was used by occult teachers in India to instruct humanity in the metaphysical source of all wars (the dual principle of spirit-matter) and its precipitation in man of the greatest of all wars, so also “the whole struggle of Ahura-mazda and Ahriman is but the allegory of the great religious and political war between Brahmanism and Zoroastrianism.” (Isis Unveiled, II, p. 237.) Elsewhere H. P. Blavatsky writes:
Ahriman is matter, the begetter of all Evil, and the Destroyer, since matter—eternal per se and indestructible—having to ever change form destroys its units, while Ormazd or Spirit remains immutable in its abstract Unity and as a whole.
It was neither the metaphysical nor the historical aspect which perpetuated the teaching about Ormazd-Ahriman in old Iran; it was the personal—the strife of mind and heart in man, the struggle between his own members. They were a practical people, the Iranians, and what appealed to them was the truth that Mazda’s Law of Purity was the weapon to destroy the impure being of their own passion-nature. Their veneration for the great elements, in fact the whole of Nature, sprang from the idea that it was the religious duty of man not only to refrain from polluting but to raise and elevate all the kingdoms of the manifested universe. The aspect of the dual powers which persist with such tenacity in Zoroastrianism is the psychologic-human one, and while Ahriman has been personified and has become, like Satan, a living entity for the superstitious, for the cultured he is but a force within man, his own lower nature.
Zoroastrian ethics is based on Ashoi-Purity. It has two aspects—(1) Purity of the Inner Man, and (2) Purity for the great without. The former is triple—of thoughts, of words, of deeds; the latter is four-fold—of Fire, of Air, of Water, of Earth. The Law of Purity is the Law of Wisdom. Dadistani-Dinik says:
As through Wisdom is created the world of righteousness, through wisdom is subjugated every evil, and through wisdom is perfected every good.
The Law of Mazda, the Wise, is the Law of Purity—(1) of matter–force–consciousness, (2) of elements–energies–beings, (3) of body–mind–soul, (4) of deed–word–thought.
Every Zoroastrian wears next to his skin the Sudarah, the shirt of white material, symbol of purity, of a prescribed cut with symbolic mark thereon, and ties the sacred thread, Kusti, made up of seventy-two interwoven filaments, round his waist over that shirt. Each of the seventy-two filaments represents one of the seventy-two parts of the Izashne—the Yagna-Sacrifice ritual. The thread circumvents the waist three times; in tying it a particular knot is made in the front and another with loose ends at the back. It is thus done: the middle of the thread is applied to the waist in front, and the loose ends go round behind where they change hands, what was in the left hand being taken up by the right and the end in the right hand is picked up by the left; then these are brought back to the front so that the thread has gone round twice; then are made two knots—a right hand and a left hand, and the loose ends for the last time passed behind and tied there with a similar knot. This way in which it is tied, the chanting which accompanies it, in fact its whole symbology centers round the fundamental idea—Humata, Hukhata, Huaresta, good thought, good word, good deed. Several times a day the pious or orthodox Parsi in untying and retying the thread repeats short prayers to affirm the joyous victory of Ahuramazda, and the contempt he feels for Ahriman, and to repent the error of his ways, thus:
I repent for all the evil thoughts, the evil words, the evil deeds, deliberate or unintentional, which I started on their nefarious journey, related to my body or soul, connected with the material or the spiritual world—I repent with the power of the Triple Word.
He reminds himself of the fact that the Law of Ahuramazda is the only true protector and its benediction comes from the Soul-Fire, the Son of Ahura whose intelligence is divine and good.
This Law of Ahuramazda is clear to the wise and the discriminating who by its aid acquire the power of righteous thought and deed and obtain control over the tongue (yasna xxxi—19 and 22). Manasni–Gavasni–Kunasni—Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds, according to the righteous law of Ahura is reiterated in numerous places in the Avesta. It is insisted that man should consult the righteous Law of Wisdom. His own good inclinations or noble aspirations are not all sufficient, his mental and verbal expressions and especially his deeds should be in conformity with the Code of Wisdom. The Renunciation of Sin (a definite magic-rite now forgotten) has to be performed for the preservation of the soul, in a deliberate manner. Says Dina-i-Maninog-i-Khirad (LII):
Every disaster which springs up he is to trace to the violence of Ahriman and his host, and he is not to seek his own welfare and advantages through the injury of any one else; thus he becomes compassionate as regards all the creatures of Ahuramazda. In duty and good works he is diligent and persistent….. For the performance of Renunciation of Sin the special thing is this, that one commits no sin voluntarily; and if through folly, or weakness and ignorance, a sin occurs, he should then renounce that sin by approaching the high-priest who is his good soul; and after that when he refrains from that sin, having learnt its lesson, that sin is swept away from him, just as the wind, fast and strong sweeping over the plain carries away every single blade of grass and anything that is not rooted in the soil.
Vendidad (XVIII-17) advocates that one should never be slack in good thoughts, words, and deeds, but let a man ever be slack in the three opposing abominations. When a man thinks, speaks, and acts righteously according to the Good Law he obtains from Spenta-Mainyu, the good spirit of Mazda, blissful immortality which is universal harmony of Wisdom (yasna—XLVII—1-2). There is no trace of any vicarious method of gaining happiness and spiritual insight—the man himself has to fight the evil and refrain from it, to befriend the good and practise it. The struggle which rages within man is long and protracted but through the Soul-Fire the faithful purified of his sins comes to immortality.
The Avesta enjoins the faithful to maintain and increase the purity of the four great elements. It is indicated that these elements are contacted by the man through his own constitution and that an intimate kinship between man and the elemental worlds exists. Thus the tilling of the earth is not only a physical but a psychological process; the water is not only a material element but a psycho-spiritual force; the radiant fire is but a substantial manifestation of divine intelligence; air is not only gaseous matter but a magnetic healer and a purifier of druj-sin, whose nature is psychic.
Thus in the Vendidad the earth rejoices when the faithful digs out corpses of man and beast (i.e. throws out of his being the dead things of lust and passion); the earth feels happy and rejoices when the faithful steps on it on his way to the performance of religious rites (i.e. resolves to begin the spiritual life); when the faithful clears the ground to erect his house (i.e. creates by the power of thought and deed the temple as the soul’s habitat); when the faithful cultivates corn, grass and fruit (i.e. reaps his good Karma); and when the faithful brings increase of flocks and herds (i.e. increases his spiritual faculties for the feeding of his fellow-men). Therefore it is said in the Vendidad (III-24):
Unhappy is the land that has long lain unsown with the seed of the sower and wants a good husbandman. He who would till the earth, O Spitama Zarathustra! with the left arm and the right, with the right arm and the left, the earth will bring forth plenty of fruit. Unto the tiller says the Earth: “O thou man! who dost till me with the left arm and the right, with the right arm and the left, hither shall people ever come and beg for bread, here shall I ever go on bearing, bringing forth all manner of food, bringing forth profusion of corn.” But to the non-tiller says the Earth: “O thou man! who dost not till me with the left arm and the right, with the right arm and the left, ever shalt thou stand at the door of the stranger, among those who beg for bread; ever shalt thou wait there for the refuse that is brought unto thee, brought by those who have profusion of wealth.”
This is not only a reference to the farming process, but the metaphor is used as in the 13th Gita for the immortal Farmer-Soul who sows and reaps thoughts and words and deeds. Therefore it is said:
O Maker of the material world, thou Holy One! What is the food that fills the law of Mazda, what is the stomach of the Law? Ahura Mazda answered: “It is sowing corn again and again, O Spitama Zarathustra! He who sows corn, sows holiness; he makes the law of Mazda grow higher and higher; he makes the law of Mazda as fat as he can with a hundred acts of adoration, a thousand oblations, ten thousand sacrifices.
And so it is sung:
‘When barley occurs, then the demons hiss;
When thrashing occurs, then the demons whine;
When grinding occurs, then the demons roar;
When flour occurs, then the demons flee.’
Then let the people learn this holy saying: ‘No one who does not eat, has strength to do works of holiness, strength to do works of husbandry, strength to beget children. By eating every material creature lives; by not eating it dies away.'”
All this is reference to the doing of good action and the living of the life of holiness. The growth of courageous resolve to live is sowing and its first fruit is barley; the working with that fruit with discrimination is thrashing; when the knowledge is applied the corn is being ground and the evil in man roars, and when the spiritual insight as the result of good living comes to fruition (flour) the evil dies.
Next let us see the element of water. The following is from Aban-Yast (10-13):
Offer up a sacrifice, O Spitama Zarathustra! unto this spring of mine, Ardvi Sura Anahita, the wide-expanding and health-giving, who hates the Demons and obeys the laws of Ahura, who is worthy of sacrifice in the material world, worthy of prayer in the material world; the life-increasing and holy, the herd-increasing and holy, the fold-increasing and holy, the wealth-increasing and holy, the country-increasing and holy;
Who drives forwards on her chariot, holding the reins of the chariot. She goes, driving, on this chariot, longing for the worship of men and thinking thus in her heart: “Who will praise me? Who will offer me a sacrifice, with libations cleanly prepared and well-strained, together with the Haoma and meat? To whom shall I cleave, who cleaves unto me, and thinks with me, and bestows gifts upon me, and is of good will unto me?”
Whom four horses carry, all white, of one and the same colour, of the same blood, tall, crushing down the hates of all haters, the hates of Demons and men, of evil spirits and goblins, of the oppressors, of the blind and of the deaf.
This goddess of water is, as H.P.B. points out, the Zoroastrian-Minerva: “Begging the pardon of our European Sanskritists and Zend scholars, we would ask them to tell, if they know, who was the Mazdean goddess Ardvi-Sura Anahita? We maintain and can prove what we say, that the said personage implored by Ahura, and Saraswati (the Brahminical goddess of Secret or Occult wisdom) are identical.”
In the previous article we have already dealt with the fire intelligence, the Soul in man, the Son of Ahura-Mazda. In the above passage from Dina-i-Maninog-i-Khirad and in other places the righteous and purifying power of air, its might to destroy and sweep away evil, etc., are mentioned.
Rich in metaphor, profusely symbolic, but to the student of Theosophy and esotericism very clear, are all the Avesta fragments. There is enough of the ancient Wisdom extant in them to make them more than interesting; they provide important proofs of the existence of the Universal Wisdom Religion from which all religions and philosophies sprang. Says H.P.B.:
The origin of the Brahmans and Magi in the night of time is one, the secret doctrine teaches us. First, there were a hierarchy of adepts, of men profoundly versed in physical and spiritual sciences and occult knowledge, of various nationalities, all celibates, and enlarging their numbers by the transmission of their knowledge to voluntary neophytes. Then when their numbers became too large to be contained in the “Airyanam Vaejo,” the adepts scattered far and wide, and we can trace them establishing other hierarchies on the model of the first in every part of the globe.
Such Adept-Messengers to the four corners of the Globe were the incarnated Ameshaspentas—”who were all of One Thought, who were all of One Speech, who were all of One Deed, whose thought is the same, whose word is the same, whose deed is the same, who see from afar one another’s soul thinking of good thoughts, thinking of good words, thinking of good deeds, thinking of the World of Light. Radiant are their Paths, shining Their ways as They go down to the Libations.”