THEOSOPHY, Vol. 14, No. 4, February, 1926
(Pages 149-154; Size: 20K)
(Number 4 of a 59-part series)
IF the Orientalists, through their peculiar method of reading Zend, Pahalvi and Pazand, have disfigured the import of Zoroastrian texts, they have at least done the service of drawing to them the attention of the Western world. There are two occidental volumes which have misled western readers these many years -- Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra, and Samuel Laing's A Modern Zoroastrian. The former has deceived only the bourgeois mind into believing that Nietzsche's Zoroaster was anything else but an imaginary figure of the German writer. The latter has done more serious damage; the author, a materialistic rationalist of repute, but a poor philosopher and a worse metaphysician, harnessed his badly digested reading on the religion of the Parsis (reading presumably done in his capacity as a globe-trotter) to adorn his thesis on the dualism of matter-polarity. His volume is excellent reading from the standpoint of science and his remarks on Zoroastrian dualism are very interesting, but the title is a misnomer. The book has misled even Parsis, especially those unfamiliar with the real metaphysics and philosophy of their own religion. Orientalists began speaking of the religion of Zoroaster as dualism, and Laing, the scientist, confirmed the theory -- so, it became canonical!
In every civilization metaphysical ideas and cosmic ultimates have undergone strange metamorphoses through their misinterpretation by minds not pure and noble enough to comprehend them. A greater confusion than ignorant identification of Brahman with Brahmà exists in reference to the Zoroastrian pair. Not centuries but aeons of evolution are traceable since the two primeval spirits became transformed as Ormazd and Ahriman. If Zoroastrian cosmogenesis is to be understood, we should once again bear in mind the fact of lengthy eras of materializing thought which has made Zoroastrianism what it is, fragmentary and anthropomorphic.
Let the following be first grasped: the functions of the good and evil forces in Zoroastrian cosmology represent definite philosophic concepts; the activities of the same powers in anthropology and mythos are also distinct ideas; their psychological and human aspects make up a story by themselves, different again from the other two. Not only the different eras in which evolution of the duality-idea took place, have to be noted, but also the fact that different teachers used the same words and names to designate distinct ideas -- universal or personal, cosmic or psychological, mythical or allegorical.
In Zend tradition Ahuramazda and Angramainyu are not two opposing beings. They become so in their later Pahlavi transformations. Those two primeval Spirits -- Minos --are called Spento and Angro, and they are the powers (shaktis, as the Parsi Ervad Kanga points out, p. 23 of his Gathas) of Ahuramazda. Dr. Mills says in his Zarathustrian Gathas (p. 84), "The Spenta-mainyu here is not identical with Ahura, but it is, as so often, His Spirit, whatever precisely this expression may mean." This word Spenta is the same as in Amesha Spenta, the seven Immortals and really means the Mainyu-Spirit which unfolds its sevenfold nature or emanates seven hierarchies of beings. Thus Spenta-mainyu is the source from which emanate Ahuramazda himself with his six satellites. The supplementing power is Angra-Mainyu, the source of evil which is the root of matter and in its personified aspect is the father-brother of seven evil demons. Great discussion has taken place as to the real origin of this conception of Angra-Mainyu which later became Ahriman, Satan. The concept which ensouls the word is derived from the same source from which Ahimanyu of the Rig Veda comes. The Zoroastrian concept was not borrowed from the Vedas but like so many others is rooted in the original parent of both the Vedic and Avestic systems; the Ah-hi of the Esoteric Doctrine is the common parent of the Avesta Angra and the Vedic Ahi. Ahi the serpent of evil, or the Cycle of Matter is really the manifested Universe, the flesh made by the Word.
The two primeval spirits, Spento and Angro, are impersonal, universal and omnipotent forces -- centripetal and centrifugal. Out of them emanate the seven hierarchies of spiritual intelligence and the seven material kingdoms of nature. Spento and Angro are like the Purusha and Prakriti of Indian philosophy. Just as "Light and darkness are the world's eternal ways" (Gita, VIII) so do Spento and Angro-Mainyus commence, sustain, and renovate the cycle of necessity, Ahuramazda Himself being the primal expression thereof. The Gathas sing thus:The spirits primeval are a pair and they together communed. These two differ in thought, in word, in deed, one the enhancer of betterment, the other the fashioner of evil ... The two spirits came together at the dawn -- one the maker of life, the other to mar it, and thus they shall be unto the last. Yasna XXX-3, 4.These two, the centripetal and centrifugal forces, are the basis of the universe. They cause manifestation and dissolution. The two are objects of worship by the Holy Sraosha, "the God Obedient to Ahura" (Yasna LVII-2). Spirit-Matter, Ideation-Substance, the One Life with its dual aspect, manifests as the Universe, the Zrvan Daregho-Khaodata -- sovereign time. This Zoroastrian expression stands for "the Great Day 'Be With Us'" which the Egyptians called "Day of Come to Us." It is the "Ring Pass Not" of the Manifested Cosmos in the Secret Doctrine.
I announce to you life's first two spirits of whom the Good accosted the Evil: Never our thoughts, nor creeds, nor understandings, nor beliefs, nor words, nor deeds, nor consciences, nor souls can be the same. Yasna XLV-2.
This circle of Zrvan Daregho-Khaodata is guarded by four Star Chieftains -- Tistrya in the East, Satavaesa in the West, Vanant in the South and Haptoiringa in the North. Students of H. P. Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine will recognize in them the four Maharajas connected with the Lipikas and Karma.
The Zodiac with its twelve constellations as also the seven planets are mentioned in the Bundahis. Says H.P.B.:The Sun, the moon and the stars in the Avesta are all emblematical representations -- the Sun, especially -- the latter being the concrete and most appropriate emblem of the one universal life-giving principle, while the stars are part and parcel of the Occult sciences. Yima never "prayed" but went to "meet the sun" in the vast space of heavens, and bringing down with him "the science of the stars, pressed the earth with his golden ring and forced (thereby) the 'Spenta Armaiti' -- (the genius of the earth) to stretch asunder and to bear flocks and herds and men." (Farg. II, 10.)The Sun is regarded as a focal point for the universal light. The relation between Khorshed "the undying, shining, swift-horsed Sun" and Mihir or Mithra "the Lord of wide pastures, who has a thousand ears well shapen and ten thousand eyes, high, with full knowledge, strong, sleepless, and ever awake" has been a puzzle to the students of the Avesta. Says Darmesteter: "Mithra is closely connected with the Sun, but not yet identical with it." But esoteric cosmogony and the occult teaching on the nature of the physical sun once accepted, the puzzle remains no more a puzzle. Just as in the famous verse of the Isavasyaopanishad (15), the Spiritual Sun behind the physical sun is invoked, so is there behind the Avesta Khorshed -- Sun its Spiritual-Soul, Mihir or Mithra. Mihir in its cosmic aspect is the universal invisible light, and by the power inherent in it, produces physical stars which are its eyes and in the intervening spaces super-physical ones which cannot be seen but whose music can be heard. The dwelling place of Mihir extends over the manifested universe and he has eight friends who from watch-towers guard the faithful, and also listen to those who lie unto that Soul of Light and Lustre. This also is imagery of a teaching dealt with in the Esoteric Commentary -- "Eight houses were built by Mother." (c.f. S.D. I, 100.) Mihir's Chariot is inlaid with stars and made of spirit-substance (Mainyu-tashtem) drawn by four immortal horses, who, like Poseidon's steeds, live on ambrosia. In that chariot Mihir drives throughout Space, and the thousand well-made maces of iron on one side of that chariot fall upon the skulls of demons. Here is to be found poetic and allegorical descriptions of the formation of the heavenly bodies -- from suns to star dust.
In the prayer of praise recited every day by the orthodox Parsi, Mihir is described as present in seven directions (Mihir Nyayis, 11), in reference to every globe, the third of which is called "this country." The order is peculiar but the Key to it lies in the Chaldean Kabala diagram given in the Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 200. In one of His aspects, like the bright Nyima-Sun, Mihir falls under Karmic law and becomes the fiery aura of the "Hand" of Lhagpa-Mercury; in that particular aspect he became the central figure of the Mithraic Mysteries. Surrounding and within, above and below, in front and behind the land of Mihir, Mercury (Globe "F" of the Eastern Gupta Vidya and Tephreth of the Chaldean Kabala) is the Life-Power of the Central Sun -- Mihir in his solar aspect.
Several hints about the Moon being the preceding planetary chain are to be found: how the Moon was produced from Vohumano -- the Good Mind, as in the Vedas it is produced from the Manas of Purusha; how the Moon is the Keeper of the Seed of Bull (Taurus) (c.f. Isis Unveiled II, 465), how the Ameshaspentas pour Moon's glory (Khoreno -- Theosophic Aura-Augoeides) on the earth, and other cognate ideas, are to be found in the Mah Yast and other fragments.
That brings us to the doctrine of the seven Karshvares -- globes -- of our earth planetary chain, about which H.P.B. writes:On Page six of his Introduction IV, to Part I of the Zend-Avesta -- the Vendidad, Mr. J. Darmesteter has the following remark: "The Ancestors of the Indo Iranians had been led to speak of seven worlds, the Supreme God was often made sevenfold, as well as the worlds over which he ruled.... The seven worlds became in Persia the seven KARSHVARE of the earth: the earth is divided into seven KARSHVARE, only one of which is known and accessible to man, the one on which we live, namely, 'hvaniratha': which amounts to saying that there are seven earths." The latter belief is attributed, of course, to ignorance and superstition. Nor do we feel quite certain that this opinion will not be shared by those of our readers who neither are Chelas nor have read the "Fragments of Occult Truth." But we leave it with the "lay chelas" and others to judge whether this sevenfold division (see Farg. XIX) is not the ABC of the Occult Doctrines.The Secret Doctrine (Vol. II, pp. 757-759) treats fully of this subject and explains the mystery. Space forbids our quoting in full the important passage, with the explanatory diagram, but the subject will remain incomplete if the reader omits to peruse it at this point.
That brings us to earth and anthropogenesis.
"Bundahis is an old eastern work in which among other things anthropology is treated in an allegorical form," says H.P.B., and we will make use of that valuable treatise, thus:
The field of evolution, the earth planetary chain, has an age limit -- 9,000 years divided into three periods. During the first 3,000 years everything proceeds by the will of Ahuramazda, followed by the second 3,000 years when an intermingling of the wills of Ahuramazda and Ahriman prevails, and then the last when the evil spirit is disabled and completely defeated. These three periods are worked by the magic of the Veracious Word of 21 words -- Honovar -- recited by Ahuramazda (see Bundahis I, 20-22). This is the poetic rendition of the stately progression of the 7 classes of Monads in the 7 Kingdoms through the 7 Rounds; the 9,000 years being a symbol -- 9 (made up of 4+3+2) worked with the aid of three ciphers, one each for the three periods of forthgoing, balance, and return.
We will take next the description -- puzzling to the ordinary reader but graphic to the student of the Secret Doctrine -- of that important event in evolution, the descent of the Manasa-putras, or the phenomenon of the lighting up of Manas. It is said (Bundahis II, 9) that Ahuramazda performed the Yazeshnai -- Sacrifice Ceremony -- with the help of the Ameshaspentas in the Rapitavan Gah and through that rite supplied every means necessary for overcoming adversity caused by the adversary -- Ahriman. Now, Rapithavan is one of the five periods of the day -- the exact middle of the day being its starting moment -- which is observed during the seven summer months, but not during the remaining five winter months. Chapter XXV of this Pahalvi volume deals with cycles; days, months, and seasons are utilized to serve the purpose of defining and describing a variety of cycles. Thus Ahuramazda performing this ceremony in the middle of the day is a very pointed reference to the event in the middle of the fourth round on this earth. What does he do? He deliberates with previously made Fravashis who had "remained 3,000 years in a spiritual state, so that they were unthinking, unmoving with intangible bodies" (Bundahis I, 8). Fravashis are the spirit-prototypes, the inner guardian angels of all souls -- sub-human, human, as well as super-human -- Ahuramazda himself having a Fravashi. H.P.B. speaks of it as "the spiritual counterpart of the still more spiritual original." Each Fravashi has attached to it Bod (Theosophic Buddhi) and Ahuramazda confers with these Fravashi-Bod.Which seems to you the more advantageous, when I shall present you to the world? that you shall contend in a bodily form with the fiend (drug), and the fiend shall perish, and in the end I shall have you prepared again perfect and immortal, and in the end give you back to the world, and you will be wholly immortal, undecaying, and undisturbed; or that it be always necessary to provide you protection from the destroyer? (Ibid, II, 10.)Then these spirit-entities "became of the same opinion" as Ahuramazda and descended to the world to fight the fiend of the lower nature and gain the knowledge of their immortality and become perfect.
In the Vendidad (Fargard II) we see the Theosophical teachings about the early races of humanity on earth. Just as Krishna (Gita IV) speaks of his having previously communicated the wisdom to Vivasvat, etc., so here Ahuramazda speaks to Zoroaster about the first mortal to whom the Deity taught the sacred lore. This was "the fair Yima, son of Vivanghat" whose story is narrated. H.P.B. informs us that Yima -- Persian Jamshed -- is "representative of the first unborn human race of our fourth round." Yima is "the good shepherd" who on being asked to be the bearer of the Good Law replies, "I was not born to be the preacher, nor was taught to be the bearer of the Law." This answer is indicative of the pure spiritual nature of that first race which was not "yet in need of the truths of the Sacred Science, -- hence Ahriman is powerless over the innocence of infancy," writes H.P.B. Yima keeps disease and death away from his people. This race grows seventy times seven, and thrice Yima enlarges the earth by the aid of the two implements -- gifts of Ahuramazda -- a golden ring and a poniard inlaid with gold. All this takes 1,000 winters, which says Isis Unveiled (II, 221) is a cycle known to the initiates and which has an allegorical sense. "By the power of his innate untaught light and knowledge, due to the absence of Angra Mainyu, he forces the earth to grow larger at his will and wish," says H.P.B. Thus Yima becomes the symbol of the three races.
Then Ahuramazda and his Ameshaspentas meet Yima with his flock in Airyana Vaego and the Deity informs Yima that fatal winters are going to befall, and that "all the three sorts of beasts shall perish"; "therefore make thee a vara, an enclosure," and thither bring the seeds of all species -- "two of every kind, to be kept inexhaustible there, so long as those men stay there." The Secret Doctrine (Vol. II, 291 et seq.) throws great light on subsequent events of the narrative, to which the reader's attention is called. Our attempt has been to indicate that a rich field of research awaits those who desire to know. In the words of H.P.B.:Every thinking Parsee, has to help himself if he would learn more. His religion is not dead yet; and under the lifeless mask of modern Zoroastrianism the pulse of the Magi of old still beats. We have endeavoured as briefly as possible to give a correct, though a very superficial, view of the purport and spirit of true Magianism. There is not a sentence in this for which authority cannot be shown.
(Part 5 of a 59-part series)
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