The Zend Avesta, Part III (SBE31), L.H. Mills, tr. , at sacred-texts.com
This Gâtha, named from its first words, consists of chapter LIII of the Yasna. While its matter is homogeneous with that of the other Gâthas, it bears some evidence of having been composed in the latter portion of Zarathustra's life. It is, as usual, separated from the other Gâthas by its metre, which shows four lines with two half lines. The first two have eleven or twelve syllables; the third seems to have fourteen plus a half line with five, so also the last. Irregularities seem frequent. The composition has for its substance a marriage song, but one of a politically religious character.
The piece â-airyemâ-ishyô, Y. LIV, 1, has been considered by some is susceptible of a similar metrical arrangement, and it certainly looks as if it originally belonged to Y. LIII. It is, however,
otherwise divided by Bartholomae (see Arische Forschungen, 2ter heft, s. 23). From the past form of srâvî, some have thought that Zarathustra was no longer living when this hymn was composed, but the word may only mean '(his prayer) has been, or is heard.' If we must, however, render 'was heard,' this does not determine the certainty of Zarathustra's death. The expression Zarathustris Spitâmô also gives the impression that some heir to Zarathustra's office and prestige existed, but even this is not decisive, for a future successor may be for a time a contemporary, while, on the contrary, the nuptials of Zarathustra's daughter, with the mention of his name, and the reference to her 'father' as the one from whom her bridegroom obtained her, indicate that Zarathustra may well have been still living. The later forms Zarathustrahê and fedhrô remain as the indications of a later origin than the actual period of Zarathustra's lifetime; but these circumstances may he owing to accidental causes.
The style has freshness and vigour throughout, and would indicate Zarathustrian influence, if not authorship. That Zarathustra does not speak in the first person, has no importance whatever in the question. The piece is not of course a whole; but it may well be a whole out of which parts have fallen. That the subject passes on to the old polemical vehemence in the last verses, is far from unnatural. The marriage festival of Zarathustra's child must have been, if without intention, a semi-political occasion, and the bard would express himself, as naturally, with regard to the struggle which was still going on. This latter fact also shows an early date; the passages referring to the struggle are strongly kindred with some in Y. XLVI, and elsewhere.
Verses 1 and 2 form an admirable introduction; the transition to the marriage occasion was, however, contained in lost verses. Verses 3, 4, and 5 hang well together; and 6 and 7 are not at all remote from them; the warlike close, although far from surprising us, must have been introduced by one or more now missing stanzas.
1. As the object of the 'great cause,' next to the preservation of its adherents, was the extension of its influence, first over hesitating parties (Y. XLIV, 12), and then over all the living (Y. XXXI, 3), it is not surprising that the central prayer of Zarathustra should have culminated in a desire for the conversion of opponents. Even Turanians had been known to come over to the holy creed, and help prosper the settlements which their kith had so often plundered (Y. XLVI, 12); he had therefore prayed that those who
had heretofore injured the holy Daêna might become its disciples by a genuine conversion. 2. Having observed the fidelity of converts and original disciples, the king and his chief nobles would celebrate their devotion by hymns, ceremonies, and sacrifices, as the symbols of every moral virtue, laying down for the people the moral law of the Saviour. 3. As it would be pushing rather far to suppose the Saoshyant to be referred to in temkâ, and as moreover, according to Geldner's admirable suggestion, that title may here well refer to Zarathustra, it is better to accept a loss of verses, and to suppose a person alluded to as the bridegroom, who, if not one so eminent as to merit the imposing name of Saoshyant, was still at least one of his more prominent satellites, for the ancient poet goes on to address a daughter of Zarathustra as a bride. She is the youngest, and her name is as pious as that of a maid of ancient Israel, for she is called 'full of the religious knowledge.' Her husband is to be a support in holiness, and she is to take counsel with piety 4. Her response is appropriate; she will vie with her husband in every sacred affection, as well as in every domestic virtue. 5. The priestly thaliarch then addresses the bridesmaids and the pair with suitable admonitions to piety and affection. 6. Turning now to the assembly, possibly after the recital of some stanzas long since vanished, he proceeds with warnings and encouragements. He will exorcise the Demon who was especially the slave of the Daêvas; but he warns all men and women against the evil Vayu, the spirit of the air. 7. Charitably concluding that they would come forth as conquerors from the trials which still awaited them, he next warns them against all solicitations to vice. 8. Having named profane Demons, his polemical zeal becomes fully inflamed. Anticipating with fierce delight the sufferings of the wicked, he calls vehemently for the champion, who may, in alliance with neighbouring potentates, deliver up the murderous false-leader, giving peace to the masses; and he entreats that all haste may be used. 9. To arouse the great chiefs to their duty, he recalls (as in Y. XXXII) the successes of the foe; and he calls for the prince who may overthrow and expel him, but, as if well aware that the human arm could not alone bring salvation, he attributes to Ahura the Sovereign Power, which alone can guard helpless innocence against lawless plunder and oppression.
1. That best prayer has been answered 1, the prayer of Zarathustra Spitâma, that Ahura Mazda might 2 grant him those boons, (the most wished-for) which flow from the good Order, even a life that is prospered 3 for eternal duration, and also those who deceived 4 him (may He likewise thus grant him) as the good Faith's disciples in word and in deed 5.
2. And may Kavi Vîstâspa, and the Zarathustrian Spitâma 6, and Frashaostra too with them, offer propitiation to Mazda in thought, word, and deed, and
[paragraph continues] Yasna confessions 1 as they render Him praise, making straight paths 2 (for our going), even that Faith of the Saoshyant which Ahura will found 3.
(The master of the feast.)
3 4. And him will they give Thee, O Pourukista, Haêkat-aspid and Spitâmi! young 5 (as thou art) of the daughters of Zarathustra, him will they 6 give thee as a help in the Good Mind's true service, of Asha's and Mazda's, as a chief and a guardian 7. Counsel well then (together 8), with the mind of Ârmaiti, most bounteous and pious; and act with just action.
4. I will love 9 and vie with him, since from (my) father 10 he gained (me). For the master and toilers, and for the lord-kinsman (be) the Good Mind's bright
blessing 1, the pure for the pure ones, and to me (be 2) the insight (which I gain from his counsel 3). Mazda grant it, Ahura for good conscience for ever.
(The priestly master of the feast.)
5. Monitions for the marrying I speak to (you) maidens, to you, I who know them; and heed ye my (sayings): By these 4 laws of the Faith which I utter obtain ye the life of the Good Mind (on earth and in heaven). (And to you, bride and bridegroom 5), let each one the other in Righteousness cherish; thus alone unto each shall the home-life be happy.
6. [Thus real are these things, ye men and ye women 6!] from the Lie-demon protecting, I guard o’er my (faithful), and so (I) grant progress (in weal and in goodness). And the hate of the Lie (with the hate of her) bondsmen (?) I pray from the body, (and so would expel it 7). For to those who bear Vayu 8, (and bring him to power), his shame 9 mars the glory. To these evil truth-harmers by these means he reaches. Ye thus slay the life mental (if ye follow his courses 10).
7. But yours be the recompense, (O ye righteous women!) of this great cause. For while lustful desire heart-inflamed from the body 1 there beyond goeth down where the spirit of evil reaches (to ruin, still) ye bring forth the champion 2 to help on the cause, (and thus conquer temptation). So your last word is 'Vayu'; (ye cry it in triumph 3).
8. And thus let the sinners by these means be foiled 4; and consumed 5 be they likewise. Let them shriek in their anger. With good kings let (our champion 6) deliver 7 the smiter 8 (as a captive in
battle), giving peace to our dwellings, and peace to our hamlets. Let him charge 1 those deceivers, chaining death as the strongest 2; and swift be (the issue).
9. Through false believers the tormentor makes Thy helpers 3 refusers 4; (those who once helped our heroes shall no longer give succour). The estranged thus desires, and the reprobate 5 wills it, with the will that he harbours to conquer our honour 6. Where is then the Lord righteous who will smite them from life 7, and (beguile) them of license? Mazda! Thine is that power, (which will banish and conquer). And Thine is the Kingdom 8; and by it Thou bestowest the highest (of blessings) on the right-living poor 9!
190:1 Some lay stress upon the literal form 'was heard,' and regard the expression as indicating the fact that Zarathustra was no longer living (see the remarks in the summary).
190:3 I follow the Pahlavi with all; it has hû-âhûînâd.
190:4 I follow the frîftâr of the Pahlavi, as the conversion of those formerly hostile is suggested by vaurayâ and Fryâna, not to speak of the primary rendering of duserethrîs kikhshnushâ. The Pahlavi also has, 'even he who is the deceiver is to be instructed in the word and deed of the good religion.' The MSS. should not hastily be abandoned.
190:5 That more than a ritualistic sanctity is meant is certain (see Y. XXX, 3); but that no sanctity could be recognised apart from worship is equally undeniable.
190:6 Who was the Zarathustrian Spitâma? Some change the text after the Pahlavi translator, reading Zarathustra Spitâma; but I would not follow this evil example in a first translation of a translatable text. Why should a Spitâma, who was not Zarathustra, be called Zarathustrian? Were some of the Spitâmas not in sympathy with their great kinsman, Spitâmas who were Mazdayasnians, but not 'of Zarathustra's order?' One would however suppose that some one of Zarathustra's family was meant who occupied the position of his especial representative and natural successor.
191:2 Recall the 'path made for the Kine,' and 'the way' which 'Thou declarest to be that of the Good Mind.'
191:3 That is, will permanently found, establish.
191:4 Verses have here fallen out, as some allusion must have been made to the bridegroom.
191:5 So more according to the hint of the Pahlavi and the statement of the Bundahis; West, XXXII, 5. So Geldner, K.Z. 28, 195.
191:6 Or, 'will he, the Saoshyant, the bride's father.'
191:7 A chieftain, a protecting head.
191:8 It is, perhaps, safer to refer this 'questioning' to the pair; but forms of ham with pares are also used of consultations with the Deity (see Y. XXXIII, 6). Y. XLIV, 13 nearly necessitates the wider and less concrete view here.
191:9 Varânî looks somewhat like a gloss, but the metre seems to demand it.
191:10 Her father's sanction was a reason for devotion to the man to whom he had given her.
192:1 The Pahlavi translator has sîrîh here.
192:2 Bet = bád lies certainly nearer than beet=bavat.
192:3 See the previous verse.
192:4 Or, 'being zealous.'
192:5 These words do not seem adapted to the bridesmaids.
192:6 Gaini is elsewhere used in an evil sense.
192:7 I can only render thus literally: From the Drûg as a generous guide (I) who (compare ye in Y. XXVIII) (for) mine, (mê) a watching guardian (I guide as a râthema; nom. sing. with verbal force) increasing prosperity, i.e. progress, of the Drûg I pray (forth*; I exorcise) of the bond (?) (of the Drûg) the malicious injuries* from the body or person. *yêsê-parâ. *to 3rd pî.
192:8 'If ye bear, or promote, the interests of Vayu.'
192:9 Or, 'evil food.'
192:10 Some line here is gloss; the first thought would be to eliminate p. 193 the difficult second line; but the third line might be an effort (by the poet himself, or an associate, see the metrical form) to explain, or relieve, the awkward second line. Reading yemâ and râthemâ, and taking genayô as in an evil sense, with spasuthâ as a second plural, we might render as a question: 'Do ye, O ye twain, ye helpers of the Drûg; do ye regard promotion (as thus to be gained)?' But in that case verses 6 and 7 should be regarded as separated by many lost verses from the fifth verse. But is not the first line the gloss? It is merely an address.
193:2 Lit. 'the greatness.'
193:3 The difficulty here lies in the first line which seems to declare a reward in a good sense. Mîzdem is hardly used of retribution. It must therefore be taken in a good sense. The following evil results must be supposed to have been avoided; and 'Vayu' to be uttered in triumph. Vayu is used in an evil sense in verse 6.
If mîzdem could be supposed to express retribution, then evil men and women would be threatened, and Vayu would be a cry uttered in woe. As to Vayu with his two natures, see part ii as per index.
193:4 The foiling of the evil here recalls âdebaomâ.
193:5 The Pahlavi translator seems to me too free in rendering zahvyâkâ (zahyâkâ), zanisn-hômand. It also makes a curious imitation of letters in gêh va mar for genarãm. It is of course far from certain that he had our present text.
193:6 See verse 9; also Y. XLVI, 4.
193:7 Recall the delivering of the evil into the two hands of Asha (Y. XXX, 8, and Y. XLIV, 14).
193:8 Khrûnerãmkâ must be a gloss.
194:1 'Let him "rout" or "stir" them.'
194:2 Comp. mazista = the strongest in Y. XLIX, 1, 'the prevailer.' Lit. 'with the chaining of death the greatest.'
194:3 For narpîs I can only suggest the suspiciously simple nar = hero (comp. the frequent nâ) and pî = nourish, support. The Pahlavi translator seems likewise to have had some such rendering in mind, for he translates dastôbar.
194:4 As to rigîs, the Pahlavi translation, which is here more than usually difficult, hints in the direction above followed, by a word which I would restore as rêgînênd.
194:5 The Pahlavi translator erroneously sees 'bridge' in peshô, or is free with his tanâpûharkânŏ hômand. See Geldner, Stud. 3.
194:6 See Geldner, Stud. 54.
194:7 See Y. XLVI, 4.
194:8 Comp. the Ahuna-vairya which takes its last line from this place, and Y. XXXIV, 5. Vahyô is a variation for vangheus vahyô.
194:9 Here I have endeavoured to imitate the swing of the rhythm by breaking up the sentences, especially in the second line. Literally it would be, 'with the desire, with the virtue-conquering (desire) of the reprobate.' Such freedom as the above is often a critical necessity in the attempts to reproduce the warmth of the original.