Vahistoishti Gatha is the shortest of all the Gathas with only nine stanzas. The Gathas came to us not even close to original as RgVeda and this can be seen from the internal textual evidence. They have been redacted and several inconscious changes are involved by intrusion of the Young Avestan characteristics. Some may not like this fact and try to use convoluted arguments to deny it but they have no source or reference to prove otherwise, except to show their own emotionalism.
In my previous postings I have given clear evidences of the lost teachings of the prophet from the Gathas being faithfully preserved in the Yashts, Yasna, Vispered and Vendidad. These evidences overwhelm any denial of this fact. In the course of time the Gatha transmission shows several corruptions in the text. The lost of the line in Yasna 46.15 (Ushtavaiti Gatha) together with another lost in Yasna 53.5 (Vahishtoishti Gatha) are self evident. The gathic text established by Geldner is fairly reliable except few corrections done by Bartholomae.
Zarathushtra was a practicing priest, well trained in rituals and he speaks himself as a leading ritual priest, "ZAOTA" (Y33.6), a term synonyms with 'athravan'. (cf. Vedic, hotar=ritual priest). This is further alluded in Vispered Chapter 3, para 7, "TUM NO ATHRAOM ZAOTA STE" 'You O Athravan are to be our Zaotar (leading priest)'. Moreover the Young Avesta -Yasht 4,7 (Khordad Yasht, para 7) is also explicitly clear about Zarathushtra being the priest."YE ZAOTA ZARATHUSHTRO" 'Zarathustra who is a (Zaotar) leading priest'. Some who are averse to priesthood and disparage the Zoroastrian priests may not like this fact, but fact remains the fact. There are too many evidences found against any denial of priesthood of Zarathushtra. Yasna is a very old Iranian liturgy and its date may in all probability be traced to the time of Zarathushtra This is further given credence from the ritual vocabulary of the Gathas themselves (See Kellens-Pirart, Les Textes Vieil-Avsetiques,1988).
The enigmatic style of the Gathas are generally glossed over by many translators. This enigmatic style shows spiritual esoterism so evident in Yasna 29 (Ahunavaiti Gatha-Ha 29 ) generally known as "Lament/Complaint of the Cow". This Haiti 29 must have been completely unintelligible to the prophet's followers and thus in all respect not suitable for any didactic approaches. Only the fifth Gatha (Vahistosihti gatha) although unsystematic is of didactic nature. The Gathas depict the deep personal relationship of Zarathushtra with Ahura Mazda, and bears the witness to the fact that the prophet has seen and heard Him in vision, and the religion was revealed to him, furthermore we see the unmistakable intense dialogue between the prophet and Ahura Mazda (see Ushtavaiti Gatha).
THOUGHTS FROM VAHISTOISHTI GATHA AS FOUND IN THE YOUNGER AVESTA:
Vahistoishti Gatha Ha 53, stanza 9:
tat mazda tava xshathrem
ya erezejyoi dahi dregave vahyo
It is in your power, O Mazda, through
which you will grant what is
better to the poor living decently
(Non-Gathic) Yasna 19.4:
tat mazda tava xshathrem
drigubyo vastarem chinastee
It is in your power O Mazda
to grant (perceive) the shepherd to the poor
(Elaboration on Yatha Ahu Vairyo)
IN PRAISE OF GREAT IRANIAN ZOROASTRIAN SAINT, MOBEDAN MOBED ATURPAT MARESPANDAN:
No true Zoroastrian can ever denigrate or insult one of their greatest Iranian Saints Aturpat Marespandan. It must be noted that devout Zoroastrians acclaim Adarbad Maherspand while praying "PATET":
PA AN DINDASTOOR HOM EN AHURMAZD ZARTOSHT CHAASHT ZARTOSHT OE GUSTASP, PA PEVAND ADARBAD MARAESPANDAN MAAD.
="I am steadfast in the Religion which Ahura Mazda gave to Zarathushtra and Zarathushtra taught to Vistaspa and which Adarbad Marespand taught and restored to its pristine purity"
Three Greatest Heroes of Zoroastrianism are recognized through out our history. First and Foremost Asho Zarathushtra, our prophet. Second: Kavi Vistaspa, the supporter of Zarthushtra. and Third: Great Iranian Saint Adarbad Marespand, the restorer of the Religion of Zarathushtra.
Nobody should dare ridicule any one of our greatest Zoroastrians of all time. We are mortals, and after we go to the Maker we all, for sure, will be forgotten in due time but these great souls will live forever among the followers of Zarathushstra till the end of the world.
Furthermore all true Zoroastrians in their prayer for the departed souls of their near and dear ones remember the Great Saintly Soul of Adarbad Marespandan (see below).
"AEDAR YAD BAD ANOSHEH RAVAN RAVANI ADARBAD MARSEPAND -AEDAR YAD BAD"
= "MAY THEY BE REMEMBERED HERE - MAY THE BLESSED SOUL AND FRAVASHI OF ADARBAD MARESPAND BE REMEMBERED HERE"
Any attempt to belittle the departed great saintly soul of Adarbad Maraspandnd should be resisted and strongly opposed by all devout Zoroastrians.
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF VIDEVDAT?
THE REAL REASON BEHIND ERRONEOUSLY DECLARING
VENDIDAD AS A NON-ZOROASTRIAN BOOK
E. Beneveniste has written a very interesting article on the significance of Vendidad, a part of Zoroastrian scriptures. Matter of fact Vendidad is the only survived Nask from 21 Nasks which were in existence upto the tenth century. I am giving the last paragraph of his article in French, followed by my English translation for your reading pleasure. The whole article of Beneveniste is printed in Henning Memorial Volume and one may refer to it.
There should not be any misguided zeal to belittle Videvdat by erroneously disparaging it (Vendidad) as a non- Zoroastrian book in the face of a severe challenge from Muslim majority in Iran. It is wrong to call Vendidad a non- Zoroastrian book because it sounds like surrendering the only survived Zoroastrian Nask in the face of criticism from the Muslims in Iran. The Farsi Translation of Vendidad by Dar-ul-Islam and recent translation by Hashem Razi in 1995 in Four Volumes have made the Iranian Zoroastrians very desperate and being unabled to successfully answer, particularly Mr Razi's extensive amount of work and commentary of 150 pages on "Khith Vadath" (next of kin-marriage), Iranian Zoroastrians and their clergy have taken an easy way out by giving up Vendidad completely (it seems to be further exploited by one person to drive a wedge between the Parsis and Iranian Zoroastrians).
This will come back to haunt Iranian Zoroastrians because how will they handle, if in future other Zoroastrian scriptures like Yashts, Vispered and Yasna are also challenged. Will they also declare them as Non-Zoroastrian scriptures and then what will prevent the majority in Iran to finally rebuke the Gathas, because certain gathic words could be translated in very derogatory fashions. - What will they do? Get rid of the Gathas also? Will they then go to someone who will say that they have the latest improved editions of the Religious Books like Bahai often repeats or will they accept the Quran and solve their problems once and for all. Please think about this before your emotions carry you to extreme. Rev Wilson tried to rebuke Vendidad because he wanted Zoroastrians to convert to Christianity but was not successful as he was repudiated. If the Zoroastrians in Iran can not successfully meet the challenge from any alien religion, they may have to review the history of Zoroastrians' resistance, century after century, after the fall of the Empire and how the scriptures were preserved even by sacrificing their lives. One must not conveniently forget the long history of Zoroastrians and Zoroastrianism. Instead of allowing some opportunist exploiting this serious threat to Iranian Zoroastrians, let Parsis and Iranian Zoroastrians work together to successfully defend their scriptures and repudiate Mr. Razi's translation of Vendidad.
I have to repeat what I had written before: The whole corpus of Zoroastrian religion is based on the Gathic doctrine and the Younger Avesta which includes Yasna, Vendidad, Yashts and Niyaeshes and other Fragments has neither perverted anyone, nor there is any praise for evil and lie, but only reverence for Ahura Mazda, His ministerial angels, the Yazataas and Amesha Spentas and Truth.
One can not destroy the factual truth that "Videvdat"(Vendidad) is the ancient Zoroastrian Law Book with the conventions of Mazdayasna religion (see below), and a component of Zoroastrianism, just because of offensive four volume translation of Mr Razi. If one does not like Videvdat (Vendidad) then it is entirely his/her own affair but no edict should be issued. The way lies in thoroughly redoing the full translation of Vendidad rather than go on quoting hundred year old obsolete Vendidad translation of Darmesteter from the Sacred Books of the East.
QUE SIGNIFIE VIDEVDAT?
par E. BENEVENISTE
Il faut remonter a la predication des Gathas pour retrouver la valeur authentique de vi-daeva-, qui resume l'essence du zoroastrisme; c'est pourquoi vi-daeva- et zarathushtri- vont souvent ensemble. Dans le meme esprit, la tradition mazdeenne a designe par vidaeva- data- l'appareil de la Loi zoroastrienne, "cette Loi d'ajuration des Dieux, zoroastrienne, superieure aux autres Paroles en grandeur, en bonte, en beute" (Vd.5,22 seqq). C'est seulement au moment au moment ou l'Avesta a ete codifie par ecrit le 19e Nask, consacre aux rites de purete, a recu conventionnellement le titre de VIDEVDAT. Mais a cette epoque les 'devs' n'etaient plus depuis longtemps que des 'demons'
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF VIDEVDAT?
It was necessary to give on behalf of the early preachings of the Gathas, the authentic "rules against daevas", which sum up the essence of Zoroastrianism, and to say for this reason, that both "vidaeva" (laws against daevas) and Zoroastrianism must be taken as a whole. Within it (Videvdat) the same spirit of the conventions of Mazdayasna religion is shown. By the same mechanism the Laws against the "daevas", are the Laws of Zoroastrianism, " The Laws of Abjuration of Daevas from God, and about other superior Zoroastrian words in grandeur, goodness and beauty", are seen in Vd. 5,22 seq. This is the only written codified Avesta which is the 19th Nask, for consecrated rites of purity, and accepted with the conventional title of "VIDEVDAT" Although from the historical eras it is against "devs" and since longtime also known as that which is against "demons".
Zamyad Yasht - Yasht 19 of the Younger Avesta
Text, Translation & Glossary by: Helmut Humbach & Pallan Ichaporia
Harrasowitz, (Germany) 1998
Price $82.00 (includes S&H)
Zamyad Yasht is the history of salvation of the Iranians. It starts with the description of Ahura Mazda's cretaion of what is good, and ends with Frashokereti, the "brilliant making of the world", i.e. its perfection and renovation by the Saoshyant, the Savior. The main theme is the Kavyan Glory which in the strict sense of the term is the glory of the legendary Kianian Dynasty upto Kavi Vistaspa, the supporter of Zarathushtra, but which has a much wider sense here.The work by the authors emphasizes the intrinsic value of Zamyad Yasht as a document of the early history of the Iranians and its place in the eschatological conception of the Zoroastrians.
The book is valuable for all Zoroastrians and scholars of Iranian, Indo-Iranian and Indo-European, of oriental and comparative religious studies and of Christian theology.
With Kind Regards to all,
Dr. Pallan R. Ichaporia.
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