Zarathushtra - A Unique Personality


Part 1



In whose birth and growth
The waters and plants flourished;
In whose birth and growth
The waters and the plants increased;
And in whose birth and growth
The entire progressive creation shouted with joy:
Hail to us, for the a "Thought-provoker" leader is born:
Zarathushtra Spitama!
Henceforth the Good Religion of worshipping the Wise One
Will spread all over the earth.
(Farvardin Yasht, stanzas 93-94)

The above quotation from the Farvardin Yasht is the oldest poetical eulogy for a human being on record in the Indo-Iranian, perhaps the entire world literature. Prior to this, there were praises only for God, gods, goddesses, and deified personalities. The eulogy consists of seven stanzas, 88 to 94 in the Farvardin Yasht, a piece of the ancient scriptures in memory of the great men and women who served the cause of spreading the Good Religion of Zarathushtra.

The eulogy, although short, throws quite a good light on the birth and growth of a child, a buoyant boy who was born to Dughdav and Pourushaspa Spitâma on a fine morning of early spring 3,766 years ago. He was their third son. They named him Zarathushtra to rhyme with the names of his two elder brothers -- Rataushtra and Rangaushtra.

The Spitâmas were a prosperous cattle-raising family and lived near the bank of a river, later called Dâiti, the Lawful, in northeastern Iran. Dughdav was an exceptionally open-minded bright lady. She took care of Zarathushtra in education and provoked in him the desire to search and discover. She set him on the road to discover truth, the truth.

The eulogy shows that:

  1. The child was born in spring when snow thawed, rains came, waters flowed, trees blossomed and plants grew.
  2. The child, as he grew in maturity, was led to good words and good deeds through his good intuition.
  3. He realized the truth and recognized and comprehended the Wise Lord in an age when the world around him was completely engrossed in superstition.
  4. He preached to others what he learned through his inspiration.
  5. His message introduces a complete change in religious leadership. Leaders, both spiritual and physical, are to be elected, and their election is to be based on their competency and sincerity so much so that instead of blind faith or unquestioned trust, one is advised to choose Zarathushtra as his or her spiritual and physical leader only after understanding his divine message.
  6. Man and woman enjoy freedom as equals.
  7. At a time when every race considered itself to be the chosen people of God/gods, Zarathushtra did not discriminate between race, cast, and creed. The Good Religion is universal and for all the peoples of the world. It advocates preaching and propagation on sound bases of education and aims at spreading the message all over the earth.

In the eulogy Zarathushtra is constantly referred to as the "foremost" because he is the first and foremost in giving an entirely fresh outlook to every aspect of life -- spiritual, mental, physical, material, and ethical. His Good Religion is all embracing. He fully deserves the credit given to him as a Mânthran, a thought-provoker, and as a lord and leader of human beings in this bodily life.

Yet the ancient poet does not deify him because he knew well from Zarathushtra's teachings that God alone is the Lord and Leader of the mental and material, spiritual and physical existence.

Zarathushtra has remained a human being all through the 4000-year-old history of the Good Conscience religion, a phenomenon, indeed.

This makes Zarathushtra enjoy a rather unique position among the founders of religions. He was not a god-incarnate who appeared at a particular period to guide an erring populace. He was not a son of God sent on a mission of salvation. He was not a messenger dispatched to diffuse a particular code of living. He was not a prophet, in the Semitic sense, who was in communion with what appears to be originally a tribal or ethnic god and who told his people what would befall them, what would happen to others, what to do, and what not to do. He was neither a priest, nor a scribe, nor an apostle who inherited a religious lore founded by his predecessors. He was not a lawmaker, divine or royal, who laid down specific codes to be obeyed without question. He was not a philosopher in the strict Greek sense. He was not even a 'Vedic' Rshi who sang praises in honor of his favorite gods and goddesses.

Zarathushtra was not visited by a deity in the shape of a human being or some natural phenomenon. He did not behold an angel sent down by God. He did not hear a loud divine voice from out of the void or from a shining object. He did not lapse into a trance and realize the transcendental. He did not experience an ecstasy and grasp the heavens. Zarathushtra was neither a blind follower nor the promulgator of an ancient cult. He was not even a reformer or the promoter of a new trend. He is "foremost" in his mission, an entirely a new mission. Yet he was, like others, the founder of a great religion. Like most of the founders, Zarathushtra speaks about God, teaches strict monotheism, and has a divine message to deliver. Therefore he is classified by almost all, including, ironically, Zoroastrians, as a "prophet".

Zarathushtra was, no doubt, an Aryan of the Vedic age, now conventionally placed between 2000 and l500 before the Christian or Common Era (BCE). As such, he was brought up in an Aryan environment. He knew the Rshis who received their inspirations through "shruti", audible revelation. He knew well the "karapans," the ritualistic priests, and their ruses for exploiting the people. He also knew the "kavis," the sagacious princes, and their shrewd policies for ruling their subjects. And he knew well about the "ahuras" and "daevas," the fanciful gods -- some abstractions personified, some natural objects deified and glorified by poets and worshipped in awe by the people.

Yet Zarathushtra neither claimed to be an Aryan nor was his message meant exclusively for them. He was human, and his message is for all humanity.

He ignored the "rshis" and their pantheon of gods and goddesses. He renounced both the karapans and the kavis for their deceitful deeds. And, like Buddha, another Aryan of a later age, he set out on his own to find out the facts. But the two, in their search for the same goal-realization-proceeded on different paths, one to perfection and eternal bliss, and the other to liberation from the desires and passions of individual existence. There is a reason for the different paths. While Buddha came out of his luxurious palace and was shocked to observe a miserable world, Zarathushtra left behind a world of gross superstition and was delighted to reach the abode of radiant happiness.

Treading slowly and observing keenly, Zarathushtra finally discovered Mazda Ahura , literally "The Super-Intellect Being", a god so different from the human-visualized gods, a god transcendental and yet so close as to be a beloved, a god very impersonal in mind but very personal in thoughts, a god that means only good. A Super-Intellect that wisely creates, sustains, maintains, and promotes Its creation. A Super-Intellect that is "spenishta mainyu," meaning "the Most Progressive Mind," the most increasing mentality and not a static godhead. A Super-Intellect that communions with Its creations and inspires them through "seraosha" the inner-voice within them. A Super-Intellect that has granted freedom of thought, will, word, action, and choice to creations and endowed them with good mind, truth, power, and peace to prosper and progress to wholeness and immortality.

Zarathushtra's one discovery, the best, MAZDÂ, provided him with all the principles of good life on this earth and beyond. Provoked by his mother when he was a child, he became "Mâńthran," thought-provoker par excellence for humanity. He laid the foundation of his universal religion, "Daęnâ Vanguhi," the religion of "Good Conscience", the religion that means constant progress, continuous modernization toward eternal bliss.

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