Thank you for your contributions to this wonderful thread!
I would like to add that I believe Jehan is better positioned to understand some of the concerned concepts than western scholars have been. A case in point is the concept of "spenta" where the Avestan-Sanskrit concept of "expansion" is far more spot on than "westernized" guesses like "holiness" and even "benevolence". Because the concept of expansion was seen as positive in the environment which Zarathushtra came from, and has been percieved as such among Zoroastrians ever since. The expansion both of the material world and the mental understanding of it, has been seen as truly positive, as "creative expressions of existence". So it is "progressiveness" rather than "progress" that we need to get at to understand the Zoroastrian pathos. And "holiness" is not really what Zarathushtra would have had in mind. That's my ten cents on the issue. Think classic South Asian, not medieval European or contemporary Middle Eastern!
2009/10/20 Jehan Bagli
You have some very thought provoking questions let me attempt to handle them one at a time.
Here I am taking your first and last question together.
what is the key message of Farshokereti and is it in conflict with the Gathas?
The key message of the concept in my view is consistent with the core of the Gathas, since the objective of the Gathic teachings is to refresh, renovate and render righteous the corporeal existence. Farshokereti just exemplify in a legendary fashion how it will happen at the end of Time.
Were the Gathas so far ahead of their time that men were incapable and probably still are incapable of fully understanding the deeper meanings. That they were conceived 3700 years ago beggars belief!
One thing we must remember at the outset that here we are dealing with a language -Avesta - that is extinct centuries if not millennia ago. It has no grammar of its own and was orally transmitted for some 2000 years. The reason we are able decipher anything of the Gathas at all, is because the language was very closely cognate with Sanskrit. It is the Sanskrit grammar that has helped us understand Gathas as much as we do today. As if that was not enough of a hurdle, these hymns are full of allegories and metaphors, and with layers of meanings. This is why we have so much difficulties in understanding these poems. To answer your query 'Were the Gathas so far ahead of their time" I would absolutely YES. The fact that prophet himself expresses his frustrations in Ys 46.1 when he asks/prays to the Lord Wise
" To what land shall i flee? where should i turn to? They exclude me from my family and my clan
....How then shall i satisfy thee Wise Lord".
This to me clear expression that what he had to say was far from the comprehension of the society of his time. He did not have meny followers until he moved eastward to Bactria where his teachings found roots in the court of King Vistaspa.
If it was developed after the Gathas, then was it a step forward, building on the wisdom of the Gathas, or a step in the wrong direction for whatever reason?
Individual Salvation is mentioned in the Gathas (Ys 46.10,11). However based on the Gathic teaching (Ys 43.5) of rewards for good and retribution for the evil, not all individuals attain their Oneness with Mazda at the end of terrestrial life. The later evolved concept of Farshokereti is believed to purify all individuals (souls) irrespective of their actions in cororeal existence to render the entire human race to immortality/Godliness or One with Mazda.
I think it is very important that such doctrines be understood clearly before anyone hastily dismisses them...
I believe one must be prudent to evaluate any concept of a tradition, as old Zorastrianism is, before reaching conclusions to be eclectic with any aspect of tradition.
is the universe in the process of gaining completelness in some way?
In his hymns Zarathushtra repeatedly uses the spenta, spentem and their derivatives. I am no philologist but based on my reading the word is derived from Avestan/Sanskrit root spi/shvi meaning "to expand ,swell or increase". However another reputed sanskrit/ Avestan scholar Stanley Insler interprets it as 'Virtuous or Benevolent'. There are other reputable scholars who interpret it as 'Holy'.In fact in Ys 43.5,7,9,11,13 and 15 the Prophet addresses Ahura Mazda as Spentem. In the Gathas the word qualifies various Divine abstractions. I have concluded that the term represents a quality of "Progressively Benevolent" way of thinking, speaking and acting - Being. For me the entire creation, the whole Universe is in the state of flux of being 'Progressively Benevolent' - continuously evolving to perfection, through the knowledge of science and culture.
Is our own micro A-meretat reflected in or a reflection of a macro A-meretat happening in all existence?
I think that is very true. In oder to bring about the A-meretat state of being in the corporeal existence, it is incumbent that each one of us attain our microcosmic Oneness of the physical and the spiritual-wholeness, completeness -Haurvatat. For only through that we can relate to the same in others, to attain the state in Marocosm. That is absolutely essential to before we step to that last stage of Eternal Bliss A-meretat.
I hope all of the above is of some help.
With Peace and Light fro Mazda
On 19-Oct-09, at 9:55 AM, Rory wrote:
> Dear Jehan,
> Thank you. This helps greatly. The key questions for me are, if Freshokereti came about after the Gathas then, mythological embellishments aside, what is the key message of Farshokereti and is it in conflict with the Gathas? I am a firm believer in "if it ain't broke don't fix it". If it works for the common man as a myth and we can interpret it into modern scientific and philosphical terms then we should do so. If it was developed after the Gathas, then was it a step forward, building on the wisdom of the Gathas, or a step in the wrong direction for whatever reason? From what I can understand the essential message was clearly a positive development and rather than being in conflict with was in keeping with Gathic doctrine. With the trend in certain areas to re-invent Zoroastrianism I think it is very important that such doctrines be understood clearly before anyone hastily dismisses them...
> What you say about the legend of final purification evolving as an explanation of how universal existence will attain the state of A-meretat I find very interesting, is the universe in the process of gaining completelness in some way? Is our own micro A-meretat reflected in or a reflection of a macro A-meretat happening in all existence?
> I am more and more facinated with how Gathic principles in many ways seem to have devolved into mythology and even into the scriptures of other belief systems. Yet we must be grateful or a lot of this wisdom might never have reached us if this had not happened. Without Tradition the Gathas would never have reached us. It is a source of wonder to me that so many non-Zoroastrian "scholars" can have seen Zoroastiranism as "the roots of the tree" with regards their own faiths and even primintive forms of their own ideas rather than the other way round. How much profound wisdom is veiled behind superstitious stories? Were the Gathas so far ahead of their time that men were incapable and probably still are incapable of fully understanding the deeper meanings. That they were conceived 3700 years ago beggars belief!
> I can see how the myth could have brought about the doctrine of the resurrection in Christianity specifically as well as messianic thought generally in Judaism, Islam and Christianity. So many times Zoroastrians over millenia must have fully understood the old saying "where ignorance is bliss t'is folly to be wise"!
> So if A-meretat is our desire then Freshokereti is one of the ways we go about achieving it?
> --- In Ushta@yahoogroups.com, Jehan Bagli
> > Rory:
> > Farshokereti (ph Farshogard) is a Myth that evolved in the
> > Zoroastrian religion centuries, if not a millennium after the time
> > Zarathushtra. Whereas the concept of individual salvation of soul
> > pervades through the Gatha, these hymns say nothing about he Universal
> > salvation or Final purification of all souls that Farshokereti
> > represents. In the Gathas, which are uniannimously conidered by the
> > academicians as the words of prophet Zarathushtra, the word
> > Farshokereti does not even appear in these hymns.
> > The legend goes that three Saoshyants will appear after the prophet
> > and renovate he existence. Their names are:1) Ukhshyat-ereta (Ph.
> > Ushider) -he who makes Righteousness grow, 2) Ukhshyat-nemah (Ph.
> > Ushider Mah) - he who makes Reverence grow and 3) Astvat-ereta (Ph.
> > Soshyosh) - he who embodies righteousness. The first two are believed
> > to be born, each sequentially, a millennium after Zarathushtra while
> > the last one is to arrive 57 years before the end of time (12000
> > years). It is the last Saoshyant who is believed to preside over the
> > process of renovation to purify the universe through final
> > dispensation of the evil to render mankind immortal. They are all
> > linked will Zarathushtra in that they will be born of virgin maids who
> > will be impregnated while bathing in a lake Ksaoya, where the seeds of
> > Zarathushtra are mystically preserved in the waters of a lake.
> > It is difficult to determine when the Zurvanite scheme of a linear
> > time line of 12000 years infiltrated "main-stream" religion of
> > Zarathushtra. However, all this will start to happen in the tenth
> > millennium and end at the end of 12th millennium. That will be the end
> > of time, that is when all evil will be vanquished and the era of
> > "Making Wonderful" begins. When the existence will be renovated to its
> > state of being ever prosperous. When there will be no aging , no
> > sickness and no death. The time will have stopped and the entire
> > existence will have reached the state of A-meretat -a state of non-
> > death-ness. That is the concept of Farshokereti.
> > Let me hasten to point out that the Saoshyants mentioned in the
> > Gathas has no relevance to the saoshyants of this legend. According to
> > Zarathushtra all man and women who live their life through truth,love,
> > kindness and bringing happiness to others are Saoshyants. They are the
> > benefactors and the true saviors. To the prophet they are the
> > renovators of existence. However i believe the legend of final
> > purification evolved as an explanation how universal existence will
> > attain the state of A-meretat.
> > In the Ninth century texts of the Pahlavi era such as Bundahisn,
> > Dinkard, and Dadestan-e-Denik the doctrine of Universal Salvation is
> > so vividly elaborated that it may well have caused the insemination of
> > Messianic thought in Judaism, Christianity, and Mahayana Buddhism.
> > Personally i look at it as a legend. However, we must realize that
> > the mission of Zarathushtra was to eradicate evil from the physical
> > existence, not through punishment but by changing the thinking of the
> > individual -by changing their mind. The notion is to bring the
> > physical world - Getig in close proximity to the Divine- Monog world.
> > Basically most zoroastrian rituals depict an expression of this
> > purification. Farshokereti is an expression of that final attainment.
> > I hope this helps
> > Jehan Bagli