Atash as the Disperser of Justice
By Pervin J. Mistry
The concept and worship of Fire as taught by Asho Zarathushtra is unique to our Religion. Fire is called Asha Vahishta, an Ameshaspand who is of One Accord with Ahura Mazda. Fire is also Adar Yazad. It is the only Divinity which is both an Ameshaspand as well as a Yazad. We are taught that the physical world “gaethya” is the outcome of the spiritual world “mainyava”; the two worlds being inseparably linked to each other as spirit to matter. The two worlds being interlinked, the physical Fire is but a reflection of His Spiritual Fire. Asha Vahishta (Ardibehesht Ameshaspand) is the Divine Energy of Ahura Mazda that pervades every atom of the Universe. It is the Source of all Creation, of Life itself. Asho Zarathushtra teaches that the Universe was created and exists due to Ahura Mazda’s Radiant Energy (Fire) and in time, will be absorbed into the same Divine Energy that manifested it billions of years ago. Science acknowledges that the Universe (Earth too) was born out of a ball of Cosmic Fire in its primordial stages of Creation and at the end of time it will be consumed back into the Cosmic Fire. Punishment through molten metal at the end of Time is mentioned in ha 32.7 (Ahunavad Gatha). Fire as the Dispenser of Justice is expressly mentioned, repeatedly, in the Pak Avesta and especially in the Holy Gathas.
Reward and punishment in both the worlds are mentioned almost in all the ha that comprise the entire Sacred Text of the Five Holy Gathas but these rewards and punishments are more specifically mentioned in ha 30.8, 30.11 (age-long pain for the wicked and happiness to the righteous); 32.7, 51.9 (punishment through molten metal); 32.15 (heaven and hell); 34.4 (Fire is the judge and punisher of unrighteous deeds); 34.15, 45.5, 47.5 (reward/happiness in next life); 43.5 (akem akai vanguhim ashim vanghaove, evil to evil and happiness to the good); 46.10 (only the righteous can cross the Chinvat); 46.11 (unrighteous cannot cross the Chinvat, similar to Hadokht Nask where Chinvat is mentioned); 46.18, 46.19, 47.1, 47.2, 47.4, 47.5 (consequences of one’s own actions); 49.11, 51.13 (the wicked become extremely repentant on the Chinvat because the path of Heaven is closed for the soul).
We are taught that reward and punishment are inevitable and immutable according to our own actions in correspondence with one of the two energies chosen by the mind, the destructive energy of Angre-Mainyu or the spiritually progressive energy of Spenta-Mianyu. The best gift that Ahura Mazda has bestowed upon us is the Gift of Mind which comes with the freedom to choose which of the two energies of the “mind” we choose in every thought, word and action performed during life! The choice is moral. By choosing Spenta-Mainyu as opposed to Angre-Mainyu we progress on the Path of Asha and attain to Frashogard, which is the intended, appointed Highest Reward! And this Immutable Divine Justice is given through Fire, the Energy (light or thought impulse) generated by the mind!
Ahura Mazda is realized only through Spiritual Wisdom or through a Spiritually Perfected Illumined mind, Vohu Mano. Asho Zarathustra is depicted as holding a Divine Communion with Ahura Mazda in the presence of Vohu Mano. Fire, as Asha Vahishta, stands for Truth, the Immutable Law or Justice, Moral Order and Beauty in Nature. Truth and Justice prevail in the Universe through Asha. Fiery Justice is also mentioned in the Gathas indicating the test of “molten metal” to be passed through. Fire represents Illumination because Fire is Light, the Light of Mind whereby Ahura Mazda is realized.
Historically, we can name some sages who have undergone the fiery test successfully, without being consumed or scorched. Kai Shiavux walked through fire to prove his piety to his father, Kai Kaus during the legendary Kiyani Dynasty. According to the Shah Namah, Shiavux established his innocence of the false charges brought against him through this fiery test.
The evil sorcerer Durasarun tried to kill the Holy Infant Asho Zarathushtra by putting him on a bed of burning wood. Asho Zarathushtra successfully prevailed the ordeal of fire, unhurt and unaffected, till his mother Dogdo found him and picked him up from the burning fire. Asho Zarathushtra brought the Divine Fire from the Spiritual World called Atash Burzin Meher which was held in His hand without burning him. It is believed that this Fire that burned in His hand without smoke was an extension of Asho Zarathushtra’s own radiant Khoreh which manifested as the Fire of Vohu Mano (Fire of a Divinely Illumined/Yazatic Mind).
Dasturan-e Dastur Adarbad Maraspend lived during the reign of the Sassanian King Shapur the Great in the early 4th century A.D. He too is known to have undergone the “fiery test” by pouring molten metal over his chest to prove his lofty spirituality and divine right as an appointed saviour. He has given us the Pazend Setayeshes. The authors of the Dinkard, Aturfarnbag Farrokhzad and Aturpat Hemet write, referring to Adarbad Maraspend: “He collected and preserved the 21 Nasks after the destruction by Alexander.” He is called “saintly” due to the ordeal of fire he underwent. He is further described as “organizer of righteousness”. Referring to the disciples of Asho Zarathushtra, Dinkard, Book VII, chapter V.5 (Sacred Books of the East, vol. 47, Delhi,1987), establishes: “and the custom of one of them is that of pouring melted metal on the breast, as in the achievement of the saintly (hu-fravardo) Aturpad son of Maraspend, through whose preservation a knowledge about the religion was diffused in the world”, and it is added that the heretics were also convinced when they beheld the rite of this ordeal!
In the Sacred Books of the East, vol. 5, chapter XV.14-17, we read: “Whoever wishes to propitiate Shatvairo in the world…..and whoever he be, it is necessary, so that Shatvairo may be with him at every place and time, that he should propitiate melted metal…..And the propitiation of melted metal is this, that he shall practise habits of the heart so unsullied and pure that, when they shall drop melted metal upon it, it does not burn. And Aturpad son of Maraspend even acted in this priestly fashion (dastobarih), so that the melted metal, when they drop it upon the region of his pure heart, became as pleasant to him as though they were milking milk upon it. When they drop it upon the region of the heart of the wicked, and simmers, it burns, and they die.” (“Shatvairo” is Shehrevar Amashaspand presiding over Divine Kshathra or Justice as well as over minerals/metals.)
Changes in the physical state affected during certain conditions such as trance are recorded. There is nothing fictional or unscientific about the ordeal of the molten metal. Life (energy) is eternal. It survives on different planes of consciousness; hence, it is probable that if consciousness (life, energy), exists in the ultra-physical and spiritual counterparts of the physical body, then the spiritually enlightened Adarpad Maraspend elevated the consciousness of the atoms of his physical body to a more heightened state of spirituality which withstood the trial of the molten metal without his body being hurt by fire. Saints do and can perform “miracles”; charlatans cannot!
We are taught that Asho Zarathushtra seeks for a vision and communion with Ahura Mazda, through Fire, worshipped as the “Spirit-Holiest” which grants courage and clear guidance in life to the earnest believers, and brings destruction to the deceivers of truth. One of the ways in which a “sinner” is purified, is by passing through “fire” or “molten metal”. As a purifier, Fire purifies everything in its Divine, Radiant Energy, making the event of Frashogard a reality. Asho Zarathushtra refers to Fire as Ahura Mazda’s Son. The “Son” or the “seed” is a reproduction of its parent; therefore, as Ahura Mazda’s Son, His Regent or Fire is necessarily present in all our rituals. It is through Fire, the Son, that we receive Ahura Mazda’s blessings and justice. Asho Zarathushtra teaches that Sacred Fire is the judge of actions performed during life and it is the dispenser of reward or punishment in after life. This is due to the fact that as an indestructible energy of Light, fire resides in the immortal soul and creates the ‘kerdar’, a spiritual form which is either beautiful or ugly according to the deeds performed during life. It is this Fire within the soul which gives Justice on the fourth day.
The Divinely Revealed Sacred Avesta affirms Asho Zarathsuhtra’s stature as a Yazad, a Divine Being “of Renown Name” (as mentioned in Ijeshne ha 3 and 7, also supported by other references in the Avesta). He is of One Accord with Ahura Mazda in Thoughts, Words and Deeds that are of Yazatic stature. As mentioned at the beginning of the Gathic stanzas (ha 29.6), Asho Zarathushtra was picked from the Divine Assembly by Ahura Mazda Himself as being the Only One who had “heard” all the Teachings (Sacred Manthra) of Ahura Mazda! Asho Zarathushtra “saw” Ahura Mazda (ha 31.8) and held direct communion with Him (ha 45.5).
As a Yazad, Asho Zarathushtra’s vision of the Universe is different from that of an ordinary human being. He “sees” the Universe as Ahura Mazda’s Energy (Light, full of radiant spectrum), and “hears” the spiritual inaudible Sound of Manthra which emanate from Ahura Mazda through Asha! The spiritual sound of Ahunavar manifested the Universe and its “staot” (resonance), like Ahura Mazda’s Radiant Energy of Light (Fire), is present in every atom of the Universe. Like light, sound is also a form of Energy. Subsequently, Asho Zarathushtra taught that Life is Energy that is indestructible. Most importantly, He describes the two aspects of the same Energy, the negative and the positive aspects, as “Twins” (Mainyus), who are helped in their creative or destructive functions by each individual who morally chooses which of the two mainyus to select from, in each thought, word and deed during one’s lifetime. Knowing of the outcome of the energy we produce by our thoughts Asho Zarathushtra has paid the highest importance to the moral selection between the two mainyus and the consequential reward and punishment that are immutable in both the worlds.
Asho Zarathsuhtra specifies that druj is an incorporeal force created by thought impulses! “Mainyu” indicates the faculty of mind; therefore, the emphasis in the Holy Gathas is on the faculty of the mind which alone will ultimately lead us to spiritual perfection and immortality. The “mind” is the bridge between the physical (body) and the spiritual (soul). Fire is repeatedly mentioned in the Sacred Avesta as the Judge of our Deeds. As established, almost every ha of the Gathas cautions us about the reward and punishment according to one’s own thoughts, words and deeds performed during life on Earth.
Asho Zarathushtra teaches us the mysteries of Life and Nature, and of the Spiritual World beyond the physical. He repeatedly declares throughout the Holy Gathas that according to the choice between the two aspects of energy which He calls “mainyus” (the dual or “twin” aspects of the “mind”, the righteous is Spenta Mainyu and the negative is Angre Mainyu), we get reciprocal reward or punishment. We have learnt that thought is an impulse, an electromagnetic energy or in other words, manifestation of the Inner Fire/energy in a different spiritual form. When we generate a thought impulse, being a form of energy, thought, like electricity, runs in a circuit. 1) The energy of thought is first registered in our aura, “aipee”, because the blood in our body contains iron which is magnetic, also the fire called Neriosang blazes in our conscience recognizing and recording our good as well as evil deeds; 2) then the energy of thought is registered on the spot of the earth where we produce the specific thought because the Earth is also magnetic (the core of the Earth is molten metal), Atash Spenisht or the Fire that resides in the earth also records our thoughts, words and deeds performed on the spot; 3) and thirdly, the thought is registered in the Spiritual World where this thought generated energy finds its reciprocal energy field which is our “kerdar”, the aggregate energy form generated by our own mainyu having either an ugly or a beautiful shape depending upon which of the two “mainyus” or energies, the negative or the positive, we choose! The thought circuit is completed and we get our just reward or punishment depending on the selection made by us between the two “mainyus” in every thought, word and deed. Asho Zarathsuhtra emphasizes the responsibility of our actions that subject us to happiness or misery according to the Laws of Nature that are immutable! We are neither punished nor rewarded by any outward source, not even by Ahura Mazda, but by our own selection of which energy, the negative or the positive, we choose and create. This energy is the Spiritual Fire; it is the Fire of Mind, “mainyu athra”.
Irrefutably, Fire, in the Sacred Avesta, is referred to as the Judge of our actions, as the Dispenser of Justice because we are morally responsible to choose our own actions and immutably reap reward or punishment through the agency of Fire.
(4th May, 2004.)