Sacred Texts Journals Zoroastrian Articles
A MONTHLY MAGAZINE
BY LAWRENCE HEYWORTH MILLS.
BUT the Opposer intervenes;—for, as against the supreme Life-Spirit-Lord, with His six characteristics, and in the pervading antithesis of the system the great Antagonistic Being, Angra Mainyu,2 the Evil Spirit, appears, and stands in great prominence as perhaps the most defined concept of the kind ever advanced in all well-known theology. He is the Creator of all that is averse to the Good.
His attributes are not as yet at all so closely summarized in the Gathas as those of Ahura are, nor are they indeed formally collected even in the later but still genuine Avesta. They are however yet both implicitly and explicitly present in the Gatha as in the later Avesta, and with incisive force throughout.
Asha, the holy rhythm of fidelity in God and nature, first3 of the sacred and august six Attributes just above discussed,4 is met at every turn by its contradictory opposite, manifested, as might be expected, in the sinister shifts of subterfuge.
Jealousy, that first recognized of all the loathsome instincts in Bible, Veda, Iliad, and our Avesta, sheds its green gleam over the form of truthful innocence with the natural results at once apparent, the young, like Abel, in their first truthfulness are everywhere betrayed.
Suspicion, alas too often justified, is sown throughout. Treachery, as we even see it now, more and more pervaded intercourse, till Ferocity abode its time.
Murder was the mere outspoken expression of it all, led off, as might be expected, by the offspring of the first human pair (see Genesis); or later on in a finer garb as wreathed in the glare of a madman's joy it appeared in the hour of long planned infamy, the assassin gloating over his victim. Every uncanny desire was more than satisfied. Surely this is a very sinister side of existence—of the privilege of consciousness itself, and the first thought which brought on these delineations, is the Lie of the sneaking sycophant, the Druj, She-Devil, first daughter of the king Dushahu.
Then comes, less sickening, but still revolting, the Akem Manah. It or "he," stands out as against Vohumanah; as the Druj stands out against Asha; and we may well term it Hate, the concentration of woe's passions, as the Druj was their inception—the continued forth-action of the doomed nature. As the mother in the love of Vohu Manah yearns after her little second self, her transmitted soul, so the Akem Manah, blind Fury of Aeshma, stands ready to destroy it. Fair youths, each moved with noblest instincts, still meet in murderous conflict, and fathers mourn their life's lost hopes;—for what? Wars hated by mothers still wrap whole continents in flames, as blight wipes away wide provinces of ripening food. Famine falls upon the world's most simple living inhabitants.
Pestilence strikes terror where it does not more mercifully, swiftly kill—while frightful nightmares of futurity cloud the early days of the thoughtful child, diverting at times even the strong man's life to worthless channels later on, and the dying sometimes await with benumbed conviction the frights of certain Hell, merciful Nature deadening the otherwise tortured faculties. It is the Akem Manah, "the Evil plan" as we might almost term it, preferring also perhaps the other form of the adjective, the superlative achishtem;—not the "evil" only but the "Worst" Mind;—and this, always according to the analogies worked out through implication, is what murderously conflicted with our Vohu Manah everywhere—poisoning the thoughts of that blessed instinct of "Good-Will." And as against God's Authority Khshathra, benignant and merciful, restraining only to compact, ameliorate and save, we have the overwhelming despots of Dush Khshathra. Government, meant to be the arm of truth and God's right hand, and raised aloft for good to repress the outbursting impulses of the young, to protect the wronged,—and punish the agents of the Akem Manah, is met by p. 166 the Evil Power. At times, even affected with uncontrolled cerebral mania,—the half mad imbeciles of despotism, that is of "inverted power," wreak vengeance on the innocent for their existence and their excellence, taking from their children's lips the bread of sustenance. Those who save their country by great deeds must be prepared for simple murder. Hard earned results stored carefully for an evil day are snatched off in a moment;—slaves must see their labor's wage paid to their masters, with gross indulgence for their recompense. Justice must be laughed at and the silliest of untruths laboriously propagated.
Or, again, wild chaos must sweep everything in the poor hopeless efforts at reform,—too much force being less fatal than too little. Tyranny in the form of Anarchy leaves misery redoubled. The helpless blinded lead on the poorer blind. Indiscipline, false liberty, leaves all things lost.—Such was the Dush-Khshathra, essence of the impulses which lived in the tyrants of the Yasna.
And then for Aramaiti, God's self-moved inspiration in the good, there was Taramaiti,—the Insolence Irrepressible, bold genius of effrontery. It was by implication and from the analogies active like the Aramaiti, and it gloried in its shame. It was what makes a mock of piety shouting its wild chorus in ribald chants to infamy; it was the wantonness of the Lie, the Hate, the Tyranny, while blatant.
We know such things too plainly—they are the shrieks from our madhouse windows, the travestied hymns of midnight streets, the crime of those who "draw iniquity with a cord of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope." And there is then its fell result—the very Completeness, Haurvatat, of the Holy God has, on this doctrine its awful negative. The Supreme (?) Deity faces a territory which He Himself has never trod, while His adversary has his emissaries everywhere within His own dominions—with the result that all is approximately marred. Disease, to state the first cursed evil now suggested here, stands ready in a thousand forms to terrify as well as ruin. That one firm work of God, the blest balance of the bodily and mental powers which we call Health, sole condition of effective normal action, is jeoparded.
Demoniac laughter greets foul evils worse than leprosy; poisons which revolt the touch and nostril are lightly passed along; the dying agonies of helpless hearts are made the call for roars of approbation, while to the good, a sorrow well-nigh intensified to mania at times settles over everything; the wine cup with its lighter ruin has given place to the scorching flame of the spirit poison put to the p. 167 lips of the helpless poor, while the cyclone of financial panic sweeps over the face of populations white with terror, like the face of Ocean swept white with hurricanes, wrecking homes forever;—the treason of some thieving fiend fills up the cup, turning the household to the streets, capped by the remorse of the silly victim, trusting the man hyena with his all.
Haurvatat, the blessed Real of the Ideal, is indeed met by an Incompleteness which has made us almost doubt whether the Evil One of the Two Colossi has not indeed sometimes had the upper hand; and whether life itself be not the curse of all of us.
And as against the Immortal Being of our God the Life Spirit Lord, and that of His saints in Earth and Heaven there was, and is, the ever dread alternative;—as seen above.5
Even where we are awake to see in Her, nature's soft second nurse, the sweet ending of a life well spent, a fight well fought,—yet, how we recoil—poor self-blinded human nature that we are—aye, how we recoil even from that calm non-entity from which we came. Then what Death is not to the dying, it is alas that redoubled to the bereaved: to miss the beloved form; to see the dear face fade away—here agonies are real indeed; and the end though it be not indeed the King of terrors, yet it is verily the Queen of sorrows,—indomitæque morti!
Such are the Six Attributes of the Antagonistic Being—extracted by ourselves from the course of Gathic thought.—The deeper Searcher, let me say it here in passing,—who is more anxiously scrutinizing the interior psychic forces here present, will be gratified to see our one main point here strengthened. These Attributes—let us note it well in passing—are still only one of them at all with certainty personified; and, as said above, they are nowhere gathered like the Holy Seven; and this points that most incisive of phenomena, the strange deep abstract nature of the Six, for if five of the six corresponding qualities of Angra Mainyu gathered by ourselves from the antitheses of the Gatha are thus so obviously abstact, this strong fact goes to make out the abstractness of our collected six beatifications all the more distinctly; and it is on this that momentous issues of the past once hung. Yet the two chief ones of each of the Seven, I mean Ahura and Angra Mainyu—are here personified beyond all manner of a doubt, God as Ahura Mazda, with His fell opponent. It might be considered strange indeed that I should for one moment mention such a thing so obvious; but here I must be thorough and exhaustive in a certain light of it. Some p. 168 of my readers will doubtless understand why I dwell on such an apparently all-obvious item. They are indeed great conscious beings personified, and beyond all doubt of it the first ever so presented in all history; and we should pause here to recall and gather up all that this great fact has in it.
Journals Zoroastrian Articles
1 This is a continuation of Professor Mills's article "God and His Immortals," which appeared in the January Number of The Open Court.
2 Literally the "Torturing Spirit" from the idea of "tortion," but the literal ideas of etymology are seldom to be followed closely in defining the particular meanings of a word. Simply "evil" is the sense.
3 So in the original documents,—the Gathas; Asha leads us to its interior force and meaning. Not so later; Vohu Manah gained the prior place, doubtless, from its pleasing significance.
4 See the January number.
5 See the January number.