The two following books give translations of passages in the Gathas, which are believed to originate with Zarathustra. In them, he describes his prayers and struggles to establish his ideas and gain acceptance for them.
There are, however, two versions of the story, one shorter and one longer, telling the same story. The author below reasoned the longer version is the "priestly" version, while the shorter is the "personal" version.
(Zoroaster) The Hymns of Zoroaster - usually called the Gathas (Transliterated Avestan-English, w grammar, tr Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie, 1914)
https://archive.org/details/hymnsofzoro ... h/page/n12
(Zoroaster) The Life of Zoroaster, in the Words of his Hymns (from both priestly & personal forms of the Gathas, tr, K S Guthrie, 1914) ET of shorter & longer versions in parallel columns.
https://archive.org/details/lifeofzoroa ... th/page/n6
Edit 7/4/19: The original language was Avestan, not Sanskrit, although the two languages are related.
Discussion about Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Taoism, etc.
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Since it was about 20 years ago when I last looked at this kind of thing, I needed a little refresher course of Guthrie's POV on Zoroaster. The following is from the Introduction to The Hymns of Zoroaster - usually called the Gathas:
Some of the readers might, at this point, zip back to some safer thread because perhaps there is talk of Vegetarianism and Nationalism. I just hope enough folks are interested enough in comparative religion to familiarize themselves with this kind of phenomenon.Summary of Zarathustra's message.
We cannot leave these sublime hymns without indicating summarily the chief motives which prompted them, which they embody, and which they still preach to futurity.
Root-Principle : Protection of Animals from Cruelty.
It was the call of the Cattle, Yasna 29, which led to Zarathushtra's external call as prophet to teach men to protect the cattle; those are called 'enemies' who treat the cattle with violence, 31.15; 32.12; 49.4; 51.14; the members of the congregation are to assure themselves of eternal reward by care of the cattle, 33.3; 34.14.
First Result : Vegetarianism.
It is enemies who kill the cattle, 32.12, and eat them, 31.15, and who teach others to eat the pieces of flesh, 32*8, possibly at sacrifices.
Second Result : Settling of Land, and Agriculture.
Cattle need pasture, stables, and fodder; consequently protection of cattle implies settling on definite pieces of land, and practice of the laws of agriculture, 29.1; 31.9,10. This fact attests that, far from being recent productions, these hymns are possibly some of the most venerable of human documents; echoes of the religious dialect of man's first steps in civilization.
Third Result : Forming of Parties by Patriotic Partisanship.
Inevitably settlers of one valley form a community; and love of home develops into a patriotism which considers their own valley paradise or heaven. The contiguity of other valleys, however, brings home to them the outside universe which appears as hell or limbo according as its inhabitants are enemies or indifferent friends.
Fourth Result : Dualism.
Clothed in religious verbiage, these practical needs ( see Y 30.9-11 connected with 30.3-8 ) appear as two divinities, the Good, and the Evil, representing Agriculture versus Nomadism (the dualism of 45.2 connected with the agriculture of 45.3-5 ).
Fifth Result : Need of Leader and Teacher calls Zarathushtra.
But the 'good' peaceable agriculturalist needs a leader against the warlike nomad who to him is evil. Zarathushtra's recognition of this need expresses itself in Y 29.8.
Sixth Result : Zarathushtra's Struggle Emphasize his Personality
Although Zarathushtra was called forth by the need of a teacher of kindness to cattle, and of a prophet of Dualism, his labors by peaceful means were fruitless, Y 44 and 45; see 53.8,9. Unfortunately, this standing still became retrogression before the aggressiveness of the enemy. To attain no more than peace, 53.8, he must incite to war and slaughter. As the enemies' damnation is inevitable the sooner they are butchered, the better, 53.9. It was fated, however, that he himself should perish by the sword he had thus drawn. To support these doctrines of damnation and blood there is needed an authority greater than that of teacher or prophet—that of priest, 28.1-5; 33; 50.7,8; of redeemer, 45.11; of mediator, 50.6,9; and of advocate. Let us hope that it is only because of this that heresy is constituted by mere opposition or discourtesy to Zarathushtra, 51.10, 12; who even becomes the Judge at the end of things.
Seventh Result : The Prophet's God becomes Supreme.
While the Gathas remain polytheistic to the end, yet do they teach the supremacy of Mazdah; but they do so in a manner such as to suggest it was either novel or questioned. The heat of the prophet's championship of Mazdah betrays his originality in superimposing Mazdah over the Iranic pantheon.
Eighth Result : This God's Will Thereby Becomes Righteousness.
When we have raised a divinity to the position of supremacy, his will thereby becomes transformed into the standard of righteousness or Asha. Hence, in an ever widening stream, flow duty, conscience, merit, and freedom of the will.
Ninth Result : Rightness Appears in Thought, Word and Deed.
A triple psychology makes three avenues for Virtue: spirit manifests in thought, soul in word, and body in deed. This triplicity reappears in their eschatology — the blessed, the damned, and the indifferent; Paradise, Hell, and Misvan or limbo.
Tenth Result : Future Rewards and Punishments.
With unerring instinct Zarathushtra played boldly on the one chief human longing, that for a blissful eternal life. The prophet's main object is to obtain the Kingdom of Heaven for himself and his, 51.1. The glory of both worlds is a twofold division found again in the twofoldness of reward and punishment. If this be clearly realized, 31.22, there will be no need of further exhortations to partisanship for or against the prophet. The eternal reward is vision of, and communion with the Gathic Pantheon, especially Ahura Mazdah.
Eleventh Result : Practical Prosperity.
Except divine names, one of the most common words is deeds. One argument against the Druj is that under their management there were hard times. It is the function of Armaiti to prosper house and land. The calving, fortune-bringing Cow is fruitful. It is hoped that future promises will begin to manifest already here on earth.
What the Gathas do not Contain.
Asceticism, scorn of riches, race suicide, love, independent thought.
From our Modern Point of View.
This great teaching of the protection of the brute creation is a gospel which even to-day is not needless or dead, nor ever will be, and which, to the remotest generations, will carry the long revered name of Zarathushtra as the first to make a religion of kindliness to helpless, self-sacrificing animals.
We may reflect that this gospel was needed peculiarly at a time when the sickening details of unorganized butchery were daily repeated in range of sight and hearing. The modern prudery of the abattoir has not solved the moral aspect of butchery — vegetarianism alone will do that. The principle involved is however not only compassion for animals, but self-respect and personal purity, principles also taught by Zarathushtra.
Did I just hear someone ask: "When did all this sh*t happen, anyways?"
DCHChronology (after Casartelli)
I. MEDES, 700-559 B.C.
1. Contact between Medes and Semitic peoples.
2. Zarathushtra in Western Iran, 660-583 ? B.C.
3. Propagation of his religion in Bactria. Longer Gathic document?
4. Establishment thereof. Shorter, priestly Gathic document?
II. ACHAMENIANS, 559-331 B.C.
Cuneiform inscriptions of Darius I, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, Artaxerxes III. Development of Avesta, Haptanghaiti (Yasna 35-42)?
III. SELEUCIDS, 331-250 B.C.
Greek kings. Decadence of Mazdeism under Alexander.
IV- ARSACIDS, 250 B.C.—225 A.D.
Parthian kings, Religious doubt. Avesta translated into Pehlev.
V. SASSANIDS, 226-651 A.D.
Mazdean kings, State Religion.
226-241, Ardeshir I, heresy of Mani.
238, Text of Avesta gathered under the high-priest Tansar.
369-379, Shahpur II, Text corrected under Aderbad Marehspand.
438, Yezdegerd II. Edict of his minister, Mir Narseh, 440. Writings of the Armenian Eznig.
490, Kobad- Heresy of Mazdak, 488. Formation of Avestan alphabet.
531, Khosrav Anosharevan. Golden age of Pehlevi literature. Redaction of principal treatises. Greek and Syriac civilization in Persia.
632, Yezdegerd III, Paul the Persian of Dair-i-shar.
651, Arab Conquest finally suppresses Mazdean establishment.
Chronology of the Elements of Mazdean Religion
I. Old Gathic Y43-53, Zarathushtra's experiences, Fire, Prayer.
II. Late Gathic, Y28-34, Priest, Sacrifice, Penances, Resurrection, Daenas, or individualities.
III. Old, Haptanghaiti, Y35-42, Personification of the Ameshaspentas. Worship of Fravashis, fire, earth and grass. 'Yazamaide' or praise to waters, Geus Urvan, and to all holy and clean beings.
IV. Doubtful, Haoma, the Death-repeller; Misvan, or limbo.
V. Recent, Bundahish, 6 creation-days; 5 divisions of day; and five Gathas. Baresman.
VI. Sassanian. Crystallization of definite doctrines.
Here is the index to The Hymns of Zoroaster - usually called the Gathas:
DCHPart I. Introductory Tables, Outlines and Summaries.
Traditional Arrangement. i
Provisional Chronological Succession of Scriptures, i
Home and Age of Zarathushtra, iii
Bibliographical Suggestions, iv
Outline of Gathas, v-xxi
Summary of Zarathushtra 's Message, xxii
Summary of Hymn-Subjects, xxv
Part II. Text, Translation, Life of Zarathustra,
Introduction to the Translation, 1
1. The translation undertaken in self-defence, not bravado, 1
2. Why the Vocabulary is based on Bartholomae's Dictionary, 2
3. Why the translation is not in verse, 4
4. Why the names of the Ahuras have been retained, 6
5. Some results attained in this translation, 7
6. Why various kinds of type have been employed, 12
7. Various details about the translation — Versification, 13
Text and Translation, on opposite pages, 14
Harmony of the Gathas, [xxv]
[See:] Life of Zarathushtra, [for] Documents contrasted on opposite pages
Part III, Higher Criticism of the Gathas,
Ch.I,- Why Gathic Criticism is Inevitable, 129
1. Higher Criticism universal, even if unconscious, 129
2. Special Gathic difficulties demanding interpretation, 130
a, Internal difficulties, 130
b, Mazdean, or external difficulties, 133
c, Christian difficulties, 133
d, Modern difficulties, 134
3. Guides of Interpretation, 134
a, Precautionary guides against self-deceit, 135
b, Illustration by Comparative Religion, 136
c, Comparative origin of Monotheism, 137
d, Fixing of general dates by Ethnology, 1 39
4. The facts themselves," 1 40
5. Conclusion, 141
Ch. II. Criticism of the Gathic Pantheon, 1 42
1, Methods of the criticism, 1 42
2, General duplications, 1 43
3, Detailed duplications, 1 44
4, Distinctions, 145
5, Asha and Vohu Manah contrasted, 1 49
Ch. Ill, Grouping of the Associations, 1 53
1, Daevic cult, 153
2, Armaitian Cow-cult, 1 55
3, Ashaist cult, 1 58
4, Vohu Manist cult, 161
5, Spenta Mainyuist cult, 165
6, The Clever or Mazdists, 1 68
7, Magians, 168
Outline of Pre-Zoroastrian Cults, 171
Harmony of the Gathas, 172 [this page is blank]
Ch. IV, Development of Zarathustra, 1 73
1, The Magian Youth, 173
2, As Student with Vohu Manists, 1 74
3, As Student with the Ashaists, 175
4, Ahurian Experiences — Reflection, 177
5, Ahurian Experiences — Teachings, 178
Ch.V, Critical Results, 180
1, Chronological Significance of Mazdah, 180
Gathic occurrence of divine Names, 181
2, Inferences from occurrences of divine Names, 182
Development of the Gathas according to divine Names, 183
3, Authorship of the Gathas, 184
4, Amplification of Authorship Question, 185
5, Uncertainty of Conclusions, 186
Ch. VI, Zarathustra's Personal Significance, 187
1, Summary of Message, 187
2, Negative significance, 187
3, Eclecticism, 188
4, Personality as Judge-protector of Bovines, 188
5, Partisanship founded on Dualism, 189
6, Both [versions of Zarathustra's] Lives, 191
7, The Teaching of Mazdeanism, 191
Ch. VII, Ethnological Significance of Zarathustra, 192
1, Dialects of the Thought-religion, 192
2, Ethnological elements of the Gathic religion, 193
3, Ethnological origin of these Gathic Elements, 194
4, The Thought-innovation of the Aryan Race, 195
Part IV, Dictionary and Grammar.
Part V, Subject-Index and Concordance to the Gathas. [not complete at time of publication].
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