Western scholars may say “the Key to the Avesta is not the Pahlavi but the Vedas”; the Occultist’s answer is “aye, but the Key to the Vedas is the Secret Doctrine.” The former assert correctly enough that “the Vedas come from the same source as the Avesta”; the students of Occultism ask, “do you know even the a.b.c. of that source?”—thus wrote H.P.B.
Praiseworthy efforts have been made by some Orientalists to study comparatively Sanscrit-Pali and Zend-Pahlavi lore. Serious and important as that philological study is, the student of the esoteric philosophy looks on it as but the forerunner to the more important study of the real import and the true meaning of the fables, legends, myths, symbols of the teachings of Buddhas and Zoroasters alike. Students of Theosophy have to endeavor to arouse genuine and sincere interest in the message of the Ancients, so that the world will demand more than mere word translations of hoary texts and Mss. Presently the cyclic return will show its effects and the western world will have to be satisfied with the tenets of the Soul unfolding philosophy-ethics of the Aryans. Many hundreds of words and expressions, Sanskrit, Zend, Pahlavi, Pali, Pazand, are not understood because philology is divorced from philosophy, words from ideas. The true Theosophist must be ready with the correct comprehension of universal ideas which are the basis of all particular creeds and popular philosophies. If there are dangers lurking in this cycle along the line of the third object of the Theosophical Movement there also exist certain dangers in connection with the second object.
Lack of philosophical knowledge on the part of western philologists and even their eastern pupils and companions have led most of them to confound and confuse teachings which with even a little knowledge of Theosophy and the esoteric doctrines become clear and explicit. While in matters of metaphysics and cosmology one may not see the danger and the pity of this neglect, in matters of psychology and practical ethics the case is otherwise. What a difference it would make, for instance, to the modern educated Parsi, if he could understand and apply the tenets about man’s constitution to be found in his Yasna 26 and 55 (54 of Spiegel, which translation is a better rendering than that of Dr. L. H. Mills in the Sacred Books of the East), in Farvardin Yasht and in other texts.
We will outline here two schemes of human constitution to be found in the Avesta:
I. An eight-fold being composed of (1) Fravarshi—the triple Atma, the Individual Ray of the Impersonal Deity; (2) Urvan the Soul, the Buddhi and Manas, the Discriminator and Thinker, the dual Powers-Shaktis of Atma-Ishvara or Fravarshi; (3) Bodhas, the faculty of the Urvan whereby he chooses, selects and devises ways and means of his own growth; (4) Tevishes, the Desire-Kama which inclines towards Bodhas or gravitates towards (5) Keherpas, which is Persian Kaleb Aerial form or mould, Linga Sharira; (6) Ushtanas is the Vital-heat or prana; (7) and (8) are Bony structure and the Body, symbolic representatives of the immortal and mortal constituents of the body whose true import the esotericist is familiar with.
II. A five-fold being composed of (1) Ahu—the Self, the Personality in incarnation, the lower-self with its quarternary principles; (2) Daena, Its ever-present and watchful holy insight, its pure and wise spouse who stores away all that is worthy in the myriad experiences of the first, and who alone can enable it to understand the tenets of the True Faith (Din); she forms the link between the first and the higher triad and after the death of the personality appears to it—objectivized form of its own experiences as we see below; (3) Bodhas (4) Urvan (5) Fravarshi are the same as in the first classification.
In another place two different names are used: instead of the third Bodhas, in the above, the word Manah, which is the same as in Sanskrit is given, and for the first Ahu—the Personal Self—the word Asna is inserted. Asna is the aspiring-desiring nature, the primal constituent and the very basis of the Personal Self; by that power it moves upward or downward.
A beautiful as well as instructive picture of after death states is to be found in the following condensed rendition of a Yast fragment:
Zarathushtra asked Ahura Mazda: Thou Pure Spirit, the unfolder of all that is beneficent, when one of the pure dies where does his soul abide?
Ahura Mazda answered: Zarathushtra, that Soul, engaged in his ideation sings the Ustavaiti Gatha: “Prosperity to him through whom prosperity comes to all” on the first night, and on the second, and on the third; he enjoys the peace which comes to all mortals through his chanting.
At the end of the third night as the dawn rises that Soul wends its way southward, inhaling the fragrance of orchards and the scent of flowering shrubs and he contemplates—”Whence that fragrance, the sweetest ever breathed?”
And he sees, approaching him, a Virgin pure, of fifteen summers, as fair as the fairest thing of earth, handsome, radiant, heroic, stately, of appearance that attracts, of divine lineage, of the ancient seed of the Spirit; and the good soul questions her: “Who art thou, the fairest maid I have ever seen?”
“I am thine own Daena (thine Inner Spirit-Self),” answers the Maid, “thou youth of good thoughts, good words, good deeds, good faith, I am thyself. Clad in those virtues bright thou appeared to others on earth, as now and here I appear to thee. When some derided the teachings about the Inner Self and prayed to idols, and some shut their door against the poverty-stricken, and some were engaged in destroying growing plants and trees, thou sat singing the Gathas praising the waters of life and the Fire which is the Soul, the Son of Ahura Mazda and made happy the righteous from near and afar. Oh, radiant youth, I was lovely and thou madest me lovelier; I was fair and now I am fairer; I was desirable and thou madest me still more desirable; I used to sit in a forward place and now thou madest me sit in the foremost place; henceforth mortals will worship me for thee having sacrificed long in converse with Ahura Mazda.”
Then first through the paradise of good Thought, and then of good Word, and then of good Deed, the Soul found himself, in the Heaven of Light.
And one of the faithful who had arrived there previously asked him, “How didst thou depart the life, O, holy man, from the material world into the spiritual, from the decaying unto this the undecaying one?”
Ahura Mazda interposed, “Ask him not, who has just finished the dreary way, the life of the body.” Then the Good Soul and his spirit spouse (Daena) feasted of the food of experience like unto the butter skimmed from the fresh milk of spring.
Then Zarathushtra asked Ahura Mazda: Thou Pure Spirit, the unfolder of all that is beneficent, when one of the impure dies where does his soul abide? Ahura Mazda answered: Zarathushtra, that Soul desiring his desires, wailing dirge of despondency cries—”To what land shall I turn? To whom shall I go?” and this on the first night, and the second and the third and through it all, suffering in his, the suffering he caused to all.
At the end of the third night as the dawn rises that Soul wends its way northward, inhaling the stench of impure corpses and contemplates—”Whence that stench, the worst I ever inhaled?” And he sees a hag approaching, foul, loathsome, gaping, of demoniacal lineage, of the seed of passion; and the unfortunate soul questions her, “Who art thou, O ugly witch?”
“I am thou, thy lower Self,” answered the hag, “thou man of evil thoughts, evil words, evil deeds, and evil faith, I am thyself. Clad in hideous vice thou showed thyself to mortals down on earth as I now show myself to thee. Thou derided the teaching about the Inner Self and prayed to idols of greed and passion and pelf, strewing poverty all around, destroyer of beings on their upward way, causing consternation to the good and despair to the righteous. I was not beautiful and thou madest me ugly; I was not fair and thou madest me hideous; I had not a forward seat and now I am fallen backwards. Henceforth mortals will remember me with fear and dishonour.”
Then first through the hell of bad thought, and then of bad word, and then of bad deed, the soul plunged himself in the gloom of darkness.
And one of the wicked who had arrived there previously asked him, “How didst thou depart the life, O, wicked man, from the material world into the spiritual, from the decaying unto this the undecaying one?”
Angra Mainyu interposed, “Ask him not, who has just finished the dreary way, the life of the body.” Then the bad soul and his passion spouse feasted on experience like unto the poison and of poisonous stench.
Zoroastrianism is widely known as the religion of fire-worship. Fire, however, is a symbol, certain phases of which only are commonly accepted. It is not grasped that in Zoroastrianism Fire as a symbol-emblem is intended to show the identity of nature between the macrocosm and the microcosm. The variety of fires mentioned; the mode of building up fire (1) in home, (2) in small temples, and (3) in big temples; the custom of never allowing these fires to be extinguished or polluted; and other matters have to be understood as parable-tenets of the science of esoteric psychology.
In numerous places Fire is named the “Son of Ahuramazda,” whose Sanskrit equivalent is manasa-putra—the mind-born son of Brahma. The Fire is the reincarnating ego and has two aspects, one stationary, immovable, the other changing and growing. The non-moving is the Divine Ego whose ray is the other. The former sits, the watching spectator, saying “What does he who comes and goes bring to him who is motionless?” But this motionless Fire is “the purifier,” “the maker of prosperity,” is “strong and immortal” and is named “the warrior.” He is also designated “the cook who cooks the day and night meals of mortals,” i.e., he is the supplier of experiences in waking and sleeping conditions, as also in life and death. It is further narrated that when a passerby brings him the essence of purity in the shape of Asem, Barsem and Hadhanaepita tree (these are symbolic representations) then the Warrior-Son of Ahuramazda becomes well pleased with that person, and fed as required, that Fire blesses him thus: “May there be increase of cows for thee (i.e., the organisms which yield the milk of sweet and health-giving experiences); may there be increase of heroes for thee (same as above, but note that the former is of the animal kingdom, the latter of the human); may thy mind be master of its vow; may thy soul be master of its vow; may thou live on in the joy of the Soul all the nights of thy life (i.e., in sleep and after-death states).” Such is the blessing given by the Fire-Soul to anyone who brings to him “dry wood” (i.e., deeds free from the moisture of passion), well cleansed with godly intent, well examined by the light of day (i.e., performed from pure motive during day and life, sleep and death being subjective conditions). It is further said that this Fire assists him who feeds him as above described, but fails not to handle those who are inimical to him—which is the doctrine of Karma working from within without.
Though Reincarnation as a doctrine is not clearly and explicitly taught in the fragments now extant, there are numerous passages, such as the above, which clearly indicate that it was well-known.
The doctrine of Fravarshi is of special interest to the student of Theosophy. Every creature, whatever the body may happen to be, has its spiritual counterpart which is Fravarshi. To begin with, Ahuramazda himself has his Fravarshi and he recommends Zoroaster to invoke his Fravarshi and not himself, i.e. the impersonal and true essence of Deity, one with Zoroaster’s own atman (or Christos), not the false and personal appearance. The seven Amesha-spentas, all the religious teachers like Zoroaster, all warrior-souls, all evil-doers, animals, plants, minerals, everything has a Fravarshi. The coming into manifestation of these Fravarshis, their evolution and ultimate destiny are all described in Zend, Pahalvi and Persian books. As H.P.B. points out, this doctrine influenced Church-Christianity, and Ferouer is but a corrupted concept-word of the Zend Fravarshi.
The Chinvant Bridge over which the soul passes after death to the state of light or darkness, is significant as the teaching about Antaskarana; the noose around the neck of the man when he dies, which falls away be he righteous, and drags him into hell if wicked, is the teaching about the Kama-rupic shell of the after-death condition. Numerous powers and faculties of the human consciousness, and the nature of super-physical and spiritual hierarchies, of which man is a compound, are described in metaphorical language. As a clue to the chief symbol of Zoroastrianism H.P.B. gave the following in Isis Unveiled.
Fire, in the ancient philosophy of all times and countries, including our own, has been regarded as a triple principle. As water comprises a visible fluid with invisible gases lurking within, and behind all the spiritual principle of nature, which gives them their dynamic energy, so, in fire, they recognized: 1st. Visible flame; 2nd. Invisible, or astral fire—invisible when inert, but when active producing heat, light, chemical force, and electricity, the molecular powers; 3rd. Spirit. They applied the same rule to each of the elements; and everything evolved from their combinations and correlations, man included, was held by them to be triune.