Wisdom Of The Gatha

The Holy Fravardegan days have commenced from today (Roj Astad, Mah Aspandarmad). The five Gatha days which are the holiest among the ten holy days will commence next week on 11th August and conclude on 15th August, 2022. Our New Year will be celebrated on 16th August 2022, being Roj Hormuzd of Mah Fravardin of the Shahenshahi Zoroastrian calendar.

Divine Hymns: The Gatha consist of seventeen hymns composed by the poet-prophet, Asho Zarathushtra. Gatha literally means song and these verses in ancient Avesta language are said to have been divinely inspired and composed by Asho Zarathushtra. The Gatha are arranged into five groups based on their meter:

  1. Ahunavaiti Gatha (Yasna 28 to Yasna 34)
  2. Ushtavaiti Gatha (Yasna 43 to Yasna 46)
  3. Spentamainyush Gatha (Yasna 47 to Yasna 50)
  4. Vohukhshathra Gatha (Yasna 51)
  5. Vahishtoishti Gatha (Yasna 53).

During the Fravardegan festival, devout Zoroastrians observe the five Gatha days with extra piety and devotion. Chanting the relevant Gatha during the holy Gatha days is said to be spiritually rewarding and connects the devotee to Asho Zarathushtra’s divine vision of this world.

What was this divine vision? What is the wisdom that Zarathushtra shared with us thousands of years ago? Let us attempt to catch a glimpse of the wisdom enshrined within each of the five Divine songs…

AHUNAVAITI GATHA:

Here, Zarathushtra speaks of twin mentalities and choices we all must make, using our ‘sucha managha’ or ‘clear and illuminated mind’. Zarathushtra says, “I will speak of the Spirits Twain at the first beginning of life, of whom the Holier Spake thus to the wicked one: Never shall our minds harmonize, nor our doctrines; Neither our aspirations, nor yet our beliefs; Neither our words nor yet our actions.” This elaborates the ethical duality we observe in this world and in our lives.

The Gatha refer to both – cosmic and individual mainyu (mind) mentalities. While at the macro level there is a cosmic battle between the forces of good and evil, at the micro level too, we have our own daily battles at the individual mental level, to choose between good and evil or between truth and falsehood or right and wrong.

The Ahunavaiti Gatha advises: “Hear with your ears the highest Truths, consider them with clear thought, before deciding between the two paths, Man by man, each one for himself”. Zarathushtra speaks here about the moral and ethical choices each one of us must exercise with clear thought or an illuminated mind. And, once we make a decision, we have to be responsible for its consequences. No savior can come to our rescue except our own truthful, righteous and good thoughts, words and deeds. Hence, the Prophet in reference to these two paths states: “And of these two the wise do choose what’s right; the unwise choose not thus.”

USHTAVAITI GATHA:

This Gatha, which embodies happiness, celebrates the Zoroastrian precept of friendship with Ahura Mazda. In Ushtavaiti Gatha, Yasna 46.2 Zarathustra says: “Rafedhrem chagvaao hyat fryo fryaai daidit, Aakhso vangheush ashaa ishtim manangho.” Meaning (as translated by Prof. Stanley Insler): “Take notice of it, Lord, offering the support which a friend should grant to a friend. Let me see the power of good thinking allied with truth!”

Here Zarathushtra does not see Ahura Mazda as the Master or the Lord or as Father or someone to fear, but he sees the Divine as a beloved friend to talk to in times of distress and to love and seek support, to perfect a perfecting world with friendship, based on good thinking allied with Truth.

SPENTAMAINYUSH GATHA:

This Gatha, corresponding to Yasna 47 to 50, embodies the qualities of purity, piety, simplicity, tolerance and humility. In this Gatha, Zarathushtra questions: “On whom can I count for help? On whom can I depend to protect my possessions?” And, answers in the same verse: “On whom but on Thy Truth, and on Thyself, O Mazda Ahura, when invoked with the Enlightened Mind!” Note here, the emphasis on invoking Divinity with an enlightened or Illumined mind, instead of mechanical babble without focus or understanding.

The Prophet further asks: “Tell me, O Mazda, how should they act and work? Who care for this joy-giving world with its pastures?” And, he answers thus: “Living upright lives under the recurring splendor of the sun, apart from the repudiators, living ordered lives in harmony with the law of Truth, these shall reap the Blessed Reward!”

In other words, the Prophet tells us that excellence and fulfillment can be achieved by leading an upright life, in sync with the law of Asha (variously translated as Truth, Righteousness and Universal Harmony), and away from the perpetrators of evil; and in doing so, Spenta, the very spirit of the earth, rejoices!

VOHUKHASHATRA GATHA:

The Vohu (Good) Khashatra (Power or Strength) Gatha elucidates the power of doing good deeds. It says: “That man, who performs all his actions as an act of worship through Asha’s Law, is deemed as the best by Mazda Ahura. Those who have been in the past and who are such at present, I shall, with reverence, recall them by name, and shall try to reach their high position by righteous deeds.”

This Gatha relates to Yasna 51, where Zarathustra elucidates that excellence comes through righteous actions performed as acts of worship. Thus, righteous action is the best form of worship, and such actions reap strength and empowerment.

VAHISHTO-ISHTI GATHA:

In the fifth and last Gatha, which corresponds to Yasna 53, the Prophet gives his daughter, Pouruchista’s hand, in marriage and counsels: “These words do I address to you maidens who are being married, these counsels do I give to you, bridegrooms, Heed them in your minds and lay them to heart. Let each cherish the other with Righteousness. Then surely the reward of a happy life shall be yours.” Here Zarathustra does not see marriage as a contract to cohabit. Instead, he sees it as a path to happiness, a bond of friendship to cherish and togetherness to celebrate with joy.

While concluding, He emphasizes the benefits of praying. Beginning the day with a prayer puts us in a positive and peaceful frame of mind, He says. It fortifies our self-confidence and generates new energy, and in the process, equips us mentally and emotionally to face the daily ordeals of life. Prayer is a great source of psychic energy. When we pray, we link ourselves with the inexhaustible motive power that spins the entire universe.

This year, when we pray the Gatha, let us pray each Gatha with greater understanding and awareness. While praying, may we attune ourselves with the Divine Vision of Asho Zarathushtra. May we be blessed by the wisdom of the Gatha and lead our lives with a higher sense of duty and responsibility. May we be worthy of friendship with the fravashi (Divine spirit or essence) of Zarathushtra and the Holy Gatha and usher Ushta or happiness in our lives and that of all others.

Leave a Reply

*