måndag 21 juli 2008

Interpretation and Progress - as positive and creative concepts in Zoroastrianism

Dear Ali

Thank you so much for your wise and thoughtful replies!!!
I have no doubt whatsoever that your intention is to merely translate and not interpret Zarathushtra's texts for the good of the Zoroastrian community.
My point is merely that in modern textual analysis (such as Jacques Derrida's famous method of deconstruction) ALL rewriting (and a translation is after all a re-writing in a different tongue than the original text) is also a form of interpretation. Actually, interpretation is a NECESSARY activity that we begin to conduct the very same second we read a text. As we put a text into our private universe of past experience throughout our lives, we also interpret the effects of that specific text on our own worldview. Without interpretation, there can therefore not be any learning to begin with.
This kind of interpretation is CREATIVE and good and constructive in all the ways we are supposed to be as good Zoroastrians. This interpretation is what makes us human beings rather than robots. So it is not a problem. It is rather a condition for studying a text and APPLYING its message onto our own lives. I would even go so far as to say that to Zarathushtra interpretation (understood in this modern way) is a SACRED activity. A joyous activity, as part of the minds we as Mazdayasni celebrate.
We should just be honest enough to all admit that we are ALL taking part in this process of interpretation: as readers, as writers, as interpreters, as debaters, and as consumers and re-producers of other people's interpretations, and so on and so forth. Having said this, I have always recommended your translations, Ali, as the best available in contemporary English. Simply for being so intentionally true to the original meanings.
As for Progress, I have always used this term for The Community as a whole. This progress is the process we can refer to as "building on other people's experiences", or in other words: Building, maintaining and re-building a civilisation. This is why I have always refered to Zoroastrianism as the one and only CIVILISATIONIST (or PROGRESSIVE) religion. This includes Zoroastrianism being the only pro-Darwinian religion. So I'm glad to say we agree on this issue.
I'm just a bit careful to apply Progress as concept on a single human being's life. After all, as we get old, we also begin to forget things. ;-) But by that time, our best ideas have probably been picked up and maintained and even developed (after having been interpreted) by younger members of our own community. So Progress in itself dwells in the realm of The Sacred Community of the Mazdayasni.

Alexander Bard

2008/7/21 <Jafarey@aol.com>:

Comment: Thank you. I state it again that I only TRANSLATE the Gathas and if a stanza does not provide the entire picture, I only EXPLAIN it with the help of other 240 stanzas. My explanation is fully within the Gathic boundary. I do not INTERPRET because I do not conceive in the light of an individual belief, judgment, or circumstance. Please, prove your point by quoting a few instances of my "interpretations." It will help me in correcting myself if I have made a wrong statement about the Divine Doctrine of Zarathushtra.

I do not translate the Gathas only based on my knowledge of Avesta. As those who know for some 70 years, I am a scholar, learning and teaching my Good Conscience religion and my mother tongue Persian, Urdu/Hindi (my second), English (now my national and the world's widest language), Arabic (my fourth language), plus I have a good standing in Baluchi, Gujarati, Kutchi, Punjabi, Rudbari (Southern Kerman), Seraiki, and Sindhi. I am acquainted with the different dialects of these languages. I know Avesta, Old Persian and Pahlavi and have a fair knowledge of Sanskrit that helps me to solve philological problems. I am a writer, editor, translator, researcher, philologist, anthropologist, lecturer, teacher and student. I have composed poetry in Persian, Urdu and English. Yet as a precaution, I refer to the translations by as many top translators of the Gathas as are available. This is to make sure that if I have missed what they have understood better than I do, I correct myself. All these, I state only, to show that with them in mind, I can easily comprehend the message and need not indulge in interpretation. All this and yet I am proposing since 1964 that a qualified team of Avesta, Sanskrit, Pahlavi and Persian scholars, Indo-Iranian anthropologists, poets and more experts come together and give us the best of translations. Even that will be subject to improvement with the advance of liguistics.

And Zarathushtra, I repeat what I have repeatedly said, has his MESSAGE for the entire humanity to understand and not to indulge in interpretation and imagination. The few allegories he uses, were fully understood by the people, who heard him. And today, the Indo-Iranian literature, particularly poetry, has retained those and more for us to comprehend his mânthras, thought-provoking words and poetry.

Question: <<>>

Answer: The terms spenta and mainyu have been rendered by most of the translators as "holy" and "spirit." It is me who have stated that they mean progressive and mentality. I have given my philological reasons for it.

Our progress, especially keeping our way of life as fresh as possible, is directed towards "haurvatât, entirety and ameretât, the eternity." Zarathushtra discovered "evolution" 3500+ years before Charles Darwin did.(see my essay "Spenta" posted on 24 April 2001)

Let us look at our own creation. We discover or invent a thing and with the passage of time, we watch it, maintain it, and improve it. This is what progress does. According to the Gathas, Mazda Ahura is doing the same—creating, maintaining and promoting it towards entirety and eternity. And let us not forget that compared to the Cosmos, our earth is just a tiny particle and we are, compared to this tiny particle, far, far tinier particles, and yet what creations we have done, "godlike" deeds with our mini minds!

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