The Birthday of Truth
Never let darkness engulf the eternal luminosity and bliss of the mind. May ‘Ardibehesht Roj’ / ‘Ardibehesht Mah’, coming tomorrow, bring light, lustre and eternal joy
By Adil F. Rangoonwalla
(Courtesy Jame Jamshed)
We have just entered the second month of the Parsi year 1380, namely ‘Ardibehesht’ and we may reflect upon some thoughts pertaining to ‘Ardibehesht Ameshaspand’, called ‘Asha Vahishta’ in ‘Avesta’, one of the most celebrated ‘Ameshaspands’. The Holy Immortals, who are seven in all, stand next to Ahura Mazda. The ‘Gathas’ are replete with their invocations. When their holy names are recited as a part of prayers, they are ‘manthras’ of great spiritual power and efficacy. ‘Asha Vahishta’ literally means best righteousness.
Some beauty of expression is always lost in translation. Almost no word exists in any language, which can do full justice to the profound concept of ‘Asha’. We have the five ‘Gathas’ of which ‘Ahunavaiti’ is the first and longest. Right from the start of this ‘Gatha’, Prophet Zarathushtra invokes ‘Vohumana’ and ‘Asha’ together for being in communion with Ahura Mazda:
“…Through deeds inspired-by-Asha (I pray) for all (Knowledge)
(and) for Wisdom of Vohu Mano (do I pray)
thus, I-shall-bring-solace to the Soul of Mother Earth as well.”
[From: ‘The Religion of Zarathushtra’ by I. J .S. Taraporevala].
These two ‘Amesha Spentas’ are invoked by the Prophet to be victorious in his mission, that is, to bring peace on Earth. ‘Vohumana’ is good mind and ‘Asha’ stands for truth, order and righteousness. An important aspect connected to ‘Vohumana’ is kindness and compassion towards all living beings especially to small animals over which he presides and truth is intimately related to purity.
Ahura Mazda is the supreme lord of wisdom and justice. He is full of infinite love towards His creations. All this and more is owing to His purity. This purity is complete and perfect and can never diminish. He created the worlds with purity and at ‘Frashokereti’ He will embellish the whole world with His own purity.
What about us? Ordinary mortals as we are! We need, and, we invoke the great ‘Vohumana’ and ‘Asha’ in our daily obligatory prayers. We start our day with ‘Khorshed Niyaesh’ because sun is the most important divinity in our physical world. In this beautiful prayer we recite: “Vohu ukshya manangha khshathra ashacha ushta tanum” thrice. (This line is only for ‘Havan Geh’). It means that with good mind and righteousness make my body strong, (O Ahura Mazda).
In ‘Ardibhehesht Yasht’, we revere this great Lord thus: “We worship ‘Asha Vahishta’, the greatest ‘Ameshaspand’”.
In ‘Yasna’ we pray:
“I worship and offer obeisance to ‘Asha Vahishta’ and the fire of Ahura Mazda.
We revere ‘Asha Vahishta’, the fairest and the most luminous ‘Ameshaspand’ ”.
We dedicate, we affirm, we declare worship full of praise and reverence for Ahura Mazda and ‘Asha Vahishta’.
[From: Kanga & Dadachanji].
The final aim of Zoroastrianism is the end of evil and the perfection of the world. This cannot happen without truth, order and purity. Although we understand this, we hardly do anything to promote purity. We show cruelty and endanger the physical and mental welfare of not only other human beings but also of innocent animals of ‘Bahman Ameshaspand’. We do all wrong for our selfish pleasures and greed.
‘Asha’ or immutable order can be maintained in the world only because the divine mind of Ahura, the Lord, is absolutely incorruptible. We cannot think of anything in our world which does not degenerate. All the things in the spiritual world however, are infallible and incorruptible. The spiritual world and everything connected to the spirit is so desirable. And only things of the spirit really matter, at least in the final analysis.
The great Zoroastrians age ‘Adarbad Maharespand’ says this in his second admonition (‘Handarz’) to his son: “My son, think upon virtue and do not turn your thoughts to sin, for man does not live eternally and the things of the spirit are more greatly to be desired.”
Truth is not an option. One must be true to oneself as well as to others. Of course, a person will change a lot in the course of life but when you say something you must mean it.
Truth is directly connected to the Lord Omnipotent. Then why one needs to worry? Truth is the bridge between Him and us. We should be afraid when we choose to move away from truth.
If Ahura Mazda is Omnipotent, then truth is invincible. Prophet Zarathushtra speaks of truth being clothed in the hardest stones. No one can destroy truth. It can be eclipsed for some time, but not hidden forever. Truth has a lustre of its own. Falsehood has the quality of being burdensome and causing anguish to the mind and soul. Within truth lies bliss.
Many times when a young boy and a girl are engaged to be married, few mean people want to break them up. They write anonymous letters to their parents wherein malicious lies are written about their prospective son-in-law or daughter-in-law and all prospects of marriage instantly vanish into the blues. Such meanness gives some vicious pleasure to this ‘anonymous man of letters’ but what happens in the long run? Won’t such people be punished by Meher Davar and of course by Ahura Mazda? Do they not have to go on the Chinvat Bridge? Has Mazda exempted anyone from this judgment?
We Parsis often give hard-as-stone criticism to our family and friends. A typical Parsi might say: “I say what I want to say” or “I don’t mince words but I say things as they are”. Such people insist on being brutally honest. The following words will make an indelible mark on your mind: “Some people who insist on being brutally honest might derive more pleasure from brutality than honesty”.
Sometimes maintaining silence or delaying our response is a wise thing to do. Time appropriateness and place appropriateness are very important. We do not want to hurt people. A thing told softly and gently, or in privacy, has a totally different effect than if it was told in front of a crowd. The purpose of truth is to spread awareness, which brings about change for the better and from positive change springs joy. Honest speech is not meant to hurt people so that they walk away with pain in their hearts and then not know how to sort that out. A little sugar coating helps the speaker and the listener.
And finally, truth should not perpetrate one’s ego. If truth is pronounced as a service to God, then humility should be its natural offspring. Sometimes, we become too happy with ourselves very soon. Instead of endeavoring to know more and research more, we conclude we are in possession of truth.
That is why there is so much difference of opinion and conflict of egos. I can do no better than offer you these beautiful words of Sir Richard Burton: “Truth is the shattered mirror strewn in myriad bits, while each believes his little bit the whole to own”. However, how much sure we are that we know the truth, we cannot break somebody’s heart by being rude. In the words of Frederick Saunders: “Kind words are benedictions”.
The problem with our life and our world is that people like to adhere to what is wrong. They even advocate indifference, selfishness and greed. The conditioning of so many years does take its toll on our mind. And as many people say, the wrongdoers come to no grief, in fact, they seem to have a field day.
What we need to remember is that in the long run only truth will work and succeed. Our faith in Ahura Mazda, ‘Meher Yazad’ and other divinities should not shake. Falsehood will die as darkness dies with the rise of the sun. ‘Gatha Ahunvaiti’ tell us that when retribution comes, then, the souls will realize the law of Ahura Mazda, ‘Vohumana’ and ‘Asha’. Prophet Zarathushtra says that then all the people will surrender to ‘Asha’: “Then O Ahura, shall they learn, indeed, to give all falsehood into ‘Asha’s hands.” [Taraporevala]
There is no destiny but only the one we make by our ‘karma’. We seal our fate with the choices we make. When we are selfish, obsessed with ourselves, our decision-making goes haywire. Be sensitive and compassionate to all creations, so that you stay with Him and under the grace of ‘Vohumana’ and ‘Asha’. Never despair but always face light. Never let darkness engulf the eternal luminosity and bliss of the mind. May ‘Ardibehesht Roj’/‘Ardibehesht Mah’, coming tomorrow, bring light, lustre and eternal joy to your life.