The Zend Avesta, Part III (SBE31), L.H. Mills, tr. , at sacred-texts.com
This chapter, the second in the manuscripts of the Gâtha Ahunavaiti, is placed here as in a more natural order. It may be regarded as containing the terminus a quo of the divine revelation. The Soul of the Kine, as representing the herds of the holy Iranian people, their only means of honourable livelihood, raises its voice, and expressing the profoundest needs of an afflicted people, addresses Ahura and His Divine Order, Asha, in bitterness.
1. Recalling another and a later 'groan of the creation,' she demands wherefore and for whom she was made, since afflictions encompass her; and as her comfort, if not her existence, was threatened as much by the unsettled habits induced by constant alarms as by the actual incursions of her predatory neighbours, she beseeches the Bountiful Immortals to instruct her as to the benefits of civilised agriculture, and confirm her protectors in its practice, as her only remedy against the evils of which she complains.
2. Ahura answers by a question to Asha, the personified Righteous Order, as to what guardian he had appointed in order to smite back the fury which assails her, intimating that some chief ought to have been set over her originally who would have averted her miseries, training her people in steady tillage and bucolic skill, and repelling the destructive raids.
3. Asha answers that her sufferings were inevitable, that no chief could be appointed who could prevent them since none was himself without his share of injustice and of passionate resentment. He could not answer why this was the case. The question, involving the insolvable problem of the origin of evil, lay at the foundation of those influences which move the stars of destiny; that the religious revelation afforded by the Ratu (as in
chapter XXX) was intended to meet these problems so far as they could be answered 1, and that therefore all who were entering upon active enterprises were in the act of approaching, not him Asha, the subordinate archangel, but Mazda himself, who was the greatest of beings, and alone able to answer their prayers and questions.
4. Zarathustra 2, poetically conceived to be present, here intervenes to reaffirm the homage just paid by Asha. He declares Ahura Mazda to be himself the most mindful of all the previously revealed assertions and directions uttered by himself, and fulfilled in the actions of both the Demon-gods of their enemies, and of good or evil men. He is also said to be fully cognisant of what they will do in the future, and to discriminate between what is good and evil as an infallible judge, allotting to us all our destiny in future sufferings or rewards. 5. Addressing Ahura and Asha, and uniting with the Kine's Soul in her supplication, he questions Mazda in his doubt, not in peaceful confidence, as later in the impressive hymn, each verse of which begins with the words, 'This ask I Thee, aright, Ahura! tell me!' but deprecating from himself, and constructively from the Kine, the impending destruction which he sees will justly fall upon the wicked as visited by the discriminating vengeance acknowledged to be Ahura's attribute (see verse 4). 6. At last Ahura, showing the intention of His questions, answers them himself; no regulating lord in full sympathy with the Righteous Order had as yet been discovered or discoverable, but He himself will make a selection. He therefore declares himself as solemnly appointing Zarathustra to that office.
And Zarathustra, inspired by His Good Mind, and guided by His righteousness, will accomplish more than has as yet been done to rally the thrifty community, and settle their virtuous polity upon its desired basis of training and defence. 7. As Zarathustra is a listener in the colloquy between the Deity, the Kine's Soul, and Asha, the Righteous Order, so the other Immortals beside Asha 3, here join in, as if the appointment just made had not been heard, or was incredible (see below). Mazda is indeed declared to have revealed the sacred Word-of-reason in harmony with the consenting Righteousness, and to have provided food for the Kine and
the needy consumers, but who was there adequately endowed with the Good Mind, who could promulgate that Mãthra with its revealed directions as to sustenance of both body and mind?
8. Ahura repeats his announcement of Zarathustra, as if to silence the objections.
As Zarathustra alone had heard the doctrines from the voice of inspiration, so he desired to declare them, and had authority to do so, together with a settled position of such a character as to make his statements felt.
9. But an unexpected difficulty arises. The Kine's Soul is by no means impressed by the personality of the individual selected as her guardian. So far from being the demi-god of the other parts of the Avesta, Zarathustra's declarations are characterised by her as 'the voice of a pusillanimous man,' while she, on the contrary, expected one truly kingly in his rank and characteristics, and able to bring his desires to effect, while the Bountiful Immortals (or the attending chieftains), as if they had meant their question in verse 7 to be a question uttered in mere perplexity or contempt, join in with chorus, asking when indeed an effective helper will be provided.
10. Zarathustra, undismayed by the coldness of his reception, enters at once upon his office as priest and prophet, praying Ahura for the people; and recognising the names of the 'Immortals,' Khshathra, Asha, and Vohu Manah, in their original sense, asks Ahura to grant to the people in their straits, a Sovereign Authority established in the Divine Order, and bestowing the needed quiet and happiness for which the suffering provinces, as represented by the Kine's Soul in her wail, had expressed their desire.
And as he prays, he avows his own steadfast confidence in Ahura rather than in the Daêvas, as the prime possessor and bestower of blessings.
11. Then, as if eager to receive full equipment upon the spot, he not only beseeches for the Righteous Order, the Kingly Power of God, and His Good Mind for the masses as represented by the Kine, but asks when they are coming to him, and hastening; and he entreats Ahura to bestow His help at once for the great cause, and to a very abundant degree, upon himself and his associates. (It is singular that the name of Âramaiti does not occur in this section.)
(Homage to you, O Sacred Gâthas!)
1. Unto you (O Ahura and Asha!) the Soul of the Kine (our sacred herds and folk) cried aloud: For whom did ye create me, and by 1 whom did ye fashion me? On me comes the assault of wrath, and of violent power, the blow 2 of desolation, audacious insolence, and (thievish) 3 might. None other pasture-giver 4 have I than you, therefore do ye teach me good (tillage) for the fields (my only hope of welfare 5)!
2. Upon this the Creator 6 of the Kine (the holy
herds) asked of Righteousness 1: How (was) thy guardian for the Kine (appointed) by thee when, as having power (over all her fate), ye made her? (In what manner did ye secure) for her, together with pasture, a cattle-chief who was both skilled and likewise energetic? Whom did ye select 2 as her (life's) master who might hurl back the fury of the wicked 3?
3. To Him the (Divine Righteousness) answered with 4 his sanctity. (Great was our perplexity); a chieftain who war capable of smiting 5 back (their fury), and who was himself without hate (was not to be obtained by us); among such things as these, those things are not to be known (by beings such as we) which are the influences which approach 6 (and move) the lofty fires 7 (revealing the favour and the will of God 8).
Of beings He is the mightiest to whom those 9
who have performed their actions approach with invocations. (He has no need to ask!)
Zarathustra intervenes 1.
4. The Great Creator 2 (is himself) most mindful of the uttered indications which have been fulfilled beforehand hitherto in the deeds of 3 demon-gods 4 and (good or evil) men, and of those which shall be fulfilled by them 5 hereafter. He Ahura is the discerning arbiter; so shall it be to us 6 as He shall will 7!
5. Therefore it is that we both, my soul 8 and (the soul) of the mother 9 Kine, (are) making our supplications
for the two worlds to Ahura, and with hands stretched out in entreaty, when (we pray to the Great Creator 1 with questions in our doubt 2; (and He will answer).
Not for the righteous liver, not for the thrifty (tiller of the earth), shall there be destruction 3 together with the wicked!
6. Upon this the Lord, the Great Creator, He who understands the mysterious grace 4 by His insight 5, spake thus. Not in this manner 6 is a spiritual master found for us, nor a chieftain moved by Righteousness and appointed (in its spirit); therefore Thee 7 have I named 8 (as such a head) to the diligent tiller of the ground 9!
The Ameshôspends 1.
7. Mazda has created the inspired Word-of-reason which is a Mãthra of fatness (for the offering), the (Divine) Righteousness consenting with Him in his deed. Food he has prepared for the Kine and for the eaters 2, He the one bountiful with his (saving) doctrine; but whom hast Thou, endowed with the Good Mind, who may give forth those (doctrines) by word of mouth to mortals 3?
8. This man is found for me here who alone 4 has
hearkened to our enunciations, Zarathustra Spitama! Our mighty and completed acts of grace he desires to enounce for us, for (Me), the Great Creator and for Righteousness; wherefore I will give him the good abode 1 (and authoritative place) of such an one as speaks 2!
The Geus Urvan.
9. Upon this the Soul of the Kine lamented (: Woe is unto me) since (I have obtained for myself) in my wounding a lord who is powerless to effect (his) wish, the (mere) voice of a feeble and pusillanimous man, whereas I desire one who is lord over his will (and able as one of royal state to bring what he desires to effect 3).
The Ameshôspends 4.
((Aye,) when shall he ever appear who may bring to her 4 help strong-handed 5?)
10. Do ye, O Ahura and thou, O Righteousness! grant gladness unto these (our disciples), and the sovereign Kingdom (of the Deity) such as (is established) in (His) Good Mind by which one bestows upon them the peaceful amenities of home and quiet happiness (as against the fearful ravages which they suffer 2), for of these, O Great Creator! I ever thought Thee first possessor 3!
11. And when shall the (Divine) Righteousness, the Good Mind (of the Lord, and His) Sovereign Power (come) hastening 4 to me (to give me strength for my task and mission), O Great Creator, the Living Lord! (For without his I cannot advance
or undertake my toil.) Do ye now therefore assign unto us your aid and in abundance 1 for our great cause. May we be (partakers) of the bountiful grace of these your equals 2 (your counsellors and servants) 3!
4:1 Something like this is implied.
4:2 If verses 4, 5, 6, were originally connected.
4:3 Or possibly a company of the religious chiefs poetically conceived to be present.
6:1 Ke ma tashat can only mean this here. The Pahlavi translator probably read kahmâi. He has val mûn li tukhshîd (?) hômanam.
6:2 One might think of 'inertia' as a rendering for remô, (if read), but the afflictions complained of seem rather to imply active violence.
6:3 Or read tâyuskâ (robbery?) with the Pahlavi translation; 'yu' and 'vi' would be written much alike in a manuscript.
6:4 Vastâ has been found, as I understand, in some manuscripts. The Persian manuscript of Haug has a curious vâstîrîdâr (vâsta-rîdâr?) in the Pahlavi text, which seems to confirm vastâ in the sense given.
6:5 As there are very many non-specialists to whom it is important to weigh this present subject as closely as it may be possible, and as everything here is a matter of the keenest questioning among experts, I add occasionally a word-for-word rendering, although necessarily very uncouth: To you the Kine's soul cried-complaining: For whom me did ye fashion? Who me made? Against me assaulting-rapine, violence-and, desolations-[blow], daring-insolence-and, (thievish) might-and (possibly change the text). Not for me a pasture-giver than-you other; therefore to-me teach-ye good (things) for-the-pasture (adj. acc. pl. neut.).
6:6 I fear that I cannot follow Haug in his later view, where he follows tradition in rather an extreme manner, rendering 'the cutter (wounder) of the Ox.' Neither Spiegel nor Justi would confide to a later myth to this degree (see Y. XXXI, 9 and XLVI, 9). This is p. 7 mentioned, however, not as complaining of an error, but solely to guard the reader against the mistake of an eminent authority. (See also Roth, Z.D.M.G., Bd. 25, s. 9.)
7:1 Observe the personification of righteousness.
7:2 Or, 'what salvation-lord,' governed by dâtâ from the preceding line; so also the Pahlavi translator mûn avo pavan nadûkîh khûdâî. Ustâ occurs only here as a verbal form. Supply anghat in b.
7:3 The Pahlavi aêshmo anâêr zanisno.
7:4 Or read ashem. The Pahlavi has ashavahisto pasukhvo gûft. I am not at all inclined to accept vocatives for nominatives in the Gâthas.
7:5 Sar-gan, compare Verethragan. The Pahlavi indicates this by tanû sardârîh.
7:6 Possibly, 'by which he approaches.'
7:7 The Pahlavi rôshano î râsto.
7:8 Cp. Y. XXX, 1: yâ raokebîs daresatâ urvâzâ.
7:9 The Pahlavi indicates a third person; and keredushâ is far the most simply explained as a nom. pl. Recall mâ mashâ and man (?) mathâ. Otherwise, 'to whom I will come with activity and invoking.'
8:1 A verse or verses may here have fallen out.
8:2 I cannot persuade myself to accept the nearly universally accepted comparison of Mazdau and medhâ. See note on p. 104.
8:3 Or, 'He has done by Daêvas?' If thus, absolute and not qualified sovereignty would be indicated. See the last line
8:4 Observe that while 'by Daêva-worshippers' would be an admirable rendering for Daêvâis, because more commonplace and therefore safer, it is here impossible on account of mashyâiskâ. We are closely confined to the acceptance of a large idea. Ahura was mindful of what transpired in the deeds of Daêva-gods and not in those of Daêva-worshippers alone. The inst. must be modified.
8:5 As varshaitê is elsewhere used in an active sense, it is possible, but not probable, that a special predestination may be indicated. 'He shall do by means of Daêvas and men.'
8:6 'To us men,' not to us Ameshôspends, of course!
8:7 Verbatim. Mazda the-words most-mindful which for have-been-fulfilled before by-means-of- (the actions of) Daêvas-and men-and what-and (shall)-be-done after, He the discriminating lord; so to-us shall-it-be as He shall-choose.
8:8 This seems to prove positively that a human being speaks here and in the previous verse; 'the soul of Righteousness' is of course impossible.
8:9 Some have referred the word to the root zan obscurely present in it; otherwise a drivable cow; one mature and fit for use. The term used in the Vendîdâd in a common meaning as merely p. 9 designating a cow at a certain age, may be the familiar use of an adjective here applied in the ancient Gâtha in a sacred sense.
9:1 This passage is one of the strongest for the comparison of Mazdau and medhâ. The sense 'asking wisdom in our doubt,' is admirable. I cannot however accept the comparison.
9:2 Pavan gômânîkîh hampûrsânî; root dî.
9:3 The Pahlavi awasînisnîh*, but in other connections fragyâitis might well mean 'continued life;' 'life long endured with the wicked.'
9:4 The Pahlavi has vishûpisnŏ, which here affords a better meaning; see however Y. XLVIII, 9. We might read as alternative here, 'knowing the calamity to be averted.'
9:5 Uncertain. The Pahlavi however indicates 'discernment.'
9:6 One is strongly tempted to read aêvô, 'not a single chief,' but the ancient writing read by the Pahlavi translator had aêvâ ahû.
9:7 This indicates that Zarathustra had been the speaker in the previous verses.
9:9 Verbatim. Thereupon spake Ahura Mazda knowing the-wonderful (thing) through-insight (?) not thus a master found, nor a ruler righteous-order-from-even from, therefore for thee to-the-thrifty-and to-the-husbandman-and (I) as-a-creator I-have-made.
10:1 Or a company of the saints conceived to be present.
10:2 So some writers, accepting an irregular reading hvarushaêibyô after the indication of the Pahlavi translation. Otherwise compare 'rush' (?), uru = ru, and render 'to the estranged.' We have often to stretch the meaning more than this. Converting instructions are elsewhere suggested for 'all mankind.'
10:3 The translation of Neryosangh is added here not merely because it is of interest, but because it is, together with the Pahlavi translation, of the last importance in forming correct conclusions. It may be rendered as follows; and the reader may regard it as a specimen, but by no means a particularly favourable one. At the words âzûtôîs and maretaêibyô different texts were before him and the Pahlavi translator as well. Those words are elsewhere rendered by the latter karpîh and ansûtâân: This greatest magnitude (sic) of the Mãthra, the Lord produced together with righteousness as his fellow-worker [ ]. The Great Wise One discloses the herds to the eaters; and he discloses also the great matter to the well-taught scholars. Who is thine, who endowed with the best mind, gives the two things, with the mouth to those who are prosecuting studies (sic)? To expect an ancient rendering to be closer would be unreasonable. The errors (as to root) are not errors, but the certain signs of differing MSS. This constantly occurs; and it is hardly necessary to add that sometimes from such supposed mistakes we get the only possible means of recovering the original text.
10:4 Repeating the announcement in verse 6. The aêvâ in 6 would incline one to read aêvâ (ye ne aêvâ), but the manuscript before the Pahlavi translator read aêvô = khadûk. It is quite out of the question to suppose his aêtûno and khadûk to be accidental. A sharp distinction is made.
11:1 So the Pahlavi translator, giving the only critical etymology in his hûdemûnîh, the gloss aside.
11:2 The Pahlavi text corrected by the Persian MS. may be rendered as follows: This gift I obtained [ ]. For this one is he who was listening to that which is our teaching, Zartûsht, the Spitâmân. For us, Aûharmazd, and for Aharâyîh is his desire, [that is, that perfectly performed duty, and good works are desired by him]. He recites also a remedy-making (free or erroneous), [that is, he declares a remedy-making against the Drûg who is in the world]; on account of which saying for his word of piety which he utters, they give him a good abode [ ]. (The glosses are often from a later hand and erroneous. Sometimes, however, they contain the truth while the text is futile. I drop them in the present citations when they are of no importance.)
11:3 Observe that Zarathustra, like other prophets, met at times little honour from his fellow-countrymen who are here well represented by the voice of the Kine's Soul. (See Y. XLVI, 1.)
11:4 Or could not hôi be taken in a reflective sense, and referred to the first person like the possessive sve; see the connection.
11:5 Verbatim. Thereupon-and the Kine's Soul wept: (I) who p. 12 (lament) one-not-able-to-effect-his-wish in-wounding as-a-master (or, I established?) [ ], whom as-against I-wish one wish-controlling-and-effecting-as-a-sovereign. When ever he may-(shall)-be who to her (possibly to-me-myself?) shall-give effected-by-the-hand help.
12:1 Zarathustra, having accepted his call to be the Ratu or his substitute, at once interposes with a prayer for his suffering charge.
12:2 See verse 1, to which reference is continually made as the chief expression of the sufferings to be remedied.
12:3 The Pahlavi without glosses may be rendered as follows: Give ye assistance to these, O Aûharmazd, Ashavahist and Khshatraver! So also Vohûman, who gives him a pleasing habitation, and also joy. I also think that the first gain and obtaining of this is from thee. (With the gloss slightly different; but valman should be rendered according to ahyâ.)
The text literally is as follows: (Do) ye to these, O Ahura! happiness (? possibly strength; see the Pahlavi) grant, O Asha! Khshathra-and (=the Kingdom) such (kingdom as) by Vohu Manah by-which amenities peaceful-joy-and (one) may give-or-establish; I-even of this, O Mazda! Thee I thought foremost possessor.
12:4 So the Pahlavi translation indicates; compare gimâ and frâ man (?) mathâ; otherwise mâmashâ = I hasten (to fulfil my mission).
13:1 The Pahlavi has kabed. For the fundamental idea compare priksh + suffix.
13:2 The Ameshôspends just mentioned, together with whom Ahura governs and blesses His people. Ahmâ (so conjecturing with Barth.), is also quite sufficiently indicated by the lanman of the Pahlavi. Whether an instrumental ehmâ can be accepted is doubtful. The form should be altered.
If ehmâ stands, istem must be understood, or the instrumental taken in a possessive sense.
Ahmâ has no authority from MSS., but is better than anghâmâ, as being nearer the MSS.
13:3 As an impartial specimen I render Ner. thus: Whence will that gift come to me, (the gift which is) Asavahista, Gvahmana, and Saharevara, [that is, sanctity, the highest (best) mind, and the sovereignty, where is the place of the reward which will thus come to me?]. (Here the translation falls into confusion from an error which is most interesting and instructive, because it is corrected by Ner. in an alternative rendering in the gloss. As has been seldom noticed his original was the Pahlavi word pâdadahisnînêd, rather than the Gâthic paitî-zânatâ. This Pahlavi form he could not at first believe to be a second plural. Indeed the Pahlavi glossist may have taken it as a third sg. Neryosangh therefore abortively renders word-for-word as follows: You, O Great Wise One! it offers or presents more excellently through the 'greatest exaltation' (the holy cause). But he recovers himself in the gloss by reading the Pahlavi pâdâdahisnŏ vâdûnyên as an imperative: [Provide a reward through that spotless exaltation (the irreproachable cause)] continuing: Here, O Lord! is the gift (which is) ours, and (which comes) to us from Thee.)