Zarathushtra is universally
regarded as the First Prophet. He was
the first to receive Dadaar
The Persian word for ‘Prophet’ is Paigambar or wakshur
(derived from the Pahlavi word, wakshwar
which means “one who carries the Word of God”).
The Avestan term for Prophet is Manthrano or “One with the tongue of the manthra (Holy Word) or “One who brings the Holy Word from
Zarathushtra is recognised as a Yazata - a Divine Being. Little
wonder there is a Khshnuman (dedicatory formula) in
Zarathushtra belonged to the
family of “Spitama” (spitama = very holy).
His father’s name was Pourushasp, while his
mother’s name was Dogdo. His paternal grandfather was Peterasp, while his maternal grandfather was Framirava. His
lineage goes back to Shah Faridoon - a saintly
King of Peshdadian Iran
and one who brought the evil Zohak under control.
Scholars have interpreted the name “Zarathushtra”
in many ways. The interpretation we like
best is Zaratha = golden and Ushtra
= Light (from Ush = to shine) or “Zarathushtra” - The
Golden Light (or Golden Star).
The period of Asho Zarathushtra’s birth is shrouded in mystery. Greek sources place him as far back as 6,000
to 7,000 B.C., while modern scholars place his birth between
1,500 to 1,800 B.C. Oral
tradition among Parsis places him between
4,000 to 5,000 B.C.
When Asho Zarathushtra
was born, Shah Lohrasp Bin Arvand
(a mighty spiritual King whose image adorns the walls of many Parsi homes and places of worship) was the King of Iran. The Governor of Rae
(the city where Asho
Zarathushtra is believed to
have been born) was the evil Durasrun.
The life and miracles associated with
Asho Zarathushtra’s birth are narrated in a Pahlavi
work known as “Zarathosht Nama”.
Zarathushtra is said to have
laughed, instead of cried at birth. It
was a sign of His Divinity and the fact that at birth, he was neither confused
As many as seven attempts were made on the life
of this Divine child by the evil Durasrun. The evil Durasrun
first tried to stab the Holy Child. But, instead, his arm got twisted backward. When the baby Zarathushtra was thrown to the
flames, the hot coals turned into a bed of roses. When put in the path of a herd of cattle and
horses, respectively, a cow and a mare, respectively, stood over the Holy Child
to protect him from harm. When thrown
into a den of hungry wolves, the animals found their jaws sealed. Attempts to poison him and throw an evil
spell also failed miserably.
engrossed in prayers from the age of 15 to 30 years. He left his father’s home at the age of 30 in
search of the Truth.
According to the ‘Dadestan-i-denig’,
Zarathushtra had the first
Vision of Ahura Mazda on Roj
Mah Ardibehest. His first question to
Dadaar Ahura Mazda was “Who
is the best man among all people in this world?” In
Dadaar Ahura Mazda’s
response to this very first query, one finds a summary of the Zarathushtrian ethics of living”. Dadaar Ahura Mazda is
believed to have said, “The best man among all people in this world is one who
walks the Right Path, He who gives charity, who is just, reveres fire, reveres
the waters and is kind to animals.”.
Zarathushtra is said to have
received the Revelation for ten years and had seven Conferences with
Dadaar Ahura Mazda. All the mysteries and secrets of the universe
were revealed to him.
When the Revelation was complete, the
Amesha Spentas showered
special blessings on the Prophet and each one of them asked
to carry a special message.
urged that his followers should be kind to animals.
urged that fire should be revered.
desired that metals should be used wisely.
desired that the earth should be revered.
wanted the waters to be revered.
wanted the plant kingdom to be cared for.
In the message of the
Amesha Spentas, we have the
entire concept of what we recognise today as striking
the ecological balance and living in harmony with Nature. Think about it - issues so relevant to us
today were addressed by Asho
Zarathushtra thousands of
years ago in pre-historic times.
Asho Zarathushtra’s spiritual strength can be gauged from Yasna 19.15, “O Zarathushtra, you made all evil doers hide
According to the ‘Sharestan’,
Zarathushtra received from Dadaar Ahura Mazda the
1. Twenty-one Nasks (volumes) each
titled according to the twenty-one words of the Ahunavar
(or the Yatha
Vairyo) and loaded
with all the wisdom and secrets of the universe.
2. The spiritual Fire of Adar Burzin
which burned without fuel and did not emit any smoke.
3. A Cypress
By the time Asho
Zarathushtra received the revelation and was ready to begin his spiritual work
among the Mazdayasnis (worshippers of Dadaar Ahura Mazda), Shah Lohrasp had stepped down from the throne to devote his life
to prayer and meditation.
Kae Vistasp had succeeded
Zarathushtra came to the court of Kae Vistasp,
blessed the King and declared that he was a Prophet. Vistasp was
initially hesitant to accept Asho Zarathushtra’s statement.
Zarathushtra held discussions
with the wise men of the court for three days and satisfied all their queries. He then gave the Fire of Adar Burzin to Vistasp to hold in his
bare hands. He also gave him the
tree (each leaf of the Cypress
tree is believed to have said, “Vistasp, accept the
Word of Zarathushtra.”
The grand seer, Jamasp,
is said to have tested Asho
Zarathushtra even further by
pouring molten bronze four times on Zarathushtra’s
passed this ordeal without any harm to himself.
Zarathushtra was hereafter
accepted as a true Prophet and Messenger of Dadaar Ahura Mazda.
One day, Kae Vistasp asked
for four boons:
see and know more about the other world;
become invincible in battle and
to be able to see into the future.
Zarathushtra explained to Vistasp that all four boons cannot be granted to any one
individual. Hence, he proceeded go
perform the dron ceremony, consecrating (1) wine, (2)
milk, (3) flowers and (4) pomegranate.
Zarathushtra gave the
consecrated wine to Vistasp to drink and the latter’s
soul travelled to the ‘other world’ and saw his place
The consecrated milk was given to Peshotan who, on consuming it, became immortal.
When Jamasp was asked
to smell the flowers, he became a clairvoyant and could look into the future. The ‘Jamaspi’ is
said to be the work of this sage.
When Asfandiar ate the
consecrated pomegranate, he became bronze-bodied (Rooyintan)
and thus invincible in battle.
The Mazdayasni King, Vistasp, and his Mazdayasni
courtiers, on accepting Asho
Zarathushtra as a Prophet,
came to be known as “Mazdayasni
(Believers in Dadaar
Mazda who accept Asho
Zarathushtra as a Prophet). It is said Kae Vistasp built 24,000
Atash Behrams all over Iran.
According to the ‘Dasatir’,
wise men from faraway lands also came to meet and test Zarathushtra. It is said when the sages from India,
Changraghach and Vyas, came
to the court, Asho
Zarathushtra answered their
questions even before they could put forth their questions. Tutianus of Greece
concluded, “This man (Zarathushtra) cannot be a speaker of falsehood.”
teachings are essentially embodied in the Five Gatha
which form seventeen of the seventy-two chapters of the Yasna.
The five Gatha are as
Ahunavad (Yasna 28 -
34) (possessing the power of the Ahunavar);
Ushtavad (Yasna 43 -
46) (possessing Divine Happiness);
Spentomad (Yasna 47 -
50) (possessing piety/devotion);
Vohu Khshatra (Yasna 51) (possessing Good Power)
Vahishtoist (Yasna 53)
(possessing Best Spiritual Riches).
So holy are the Gatha
that Yasna 55.2 asserts: “The Gatha
are the Lords of our Soul, protectors and providers of
spiritual food and clothing.”
Zarathushtra essentially saw
life as a struggle between the forces of “good” and “evil”. Man’s duty is that of a spiritual warrior (Rathestrar) always being on the side of good and fighting
evil at the physical, social, ethical and metaphysical
At the physical level, all forms of impurity and
pollution are seen as a manifestation of evil.
A good Zarathushtrian, therefore, always aims
for purity and cleanliness.
At the social level, all forms of poverty, want,
human suffering and ignorance are seen as an affliction of evil.
At an ethical level, every good Zarathushti must guard himself/herself against the demons
of wrath, greed, envy, etc.
Finally, every good Zarathushti
battles the forces of evil at a metaphysical level through the power of Avestan manthras and special
If one were to sum up
Asho Zarathushtra’s teachings in just one word, it would be ASHA
Asha, at its
most simplistic level, stands for Truth (as opposed to falsehood). It also stands for ‘righteous conduct’. At a more universal level, it stands for
Divine Order (and man’s duty to live in “harmony” with that Order). It also stands for purity (in thought, word and deed).
The colophon to the Yasna
asserts, “Aevo pantao yo Ashahe, Vispe
anyaesham apantam” (“There
is but One Path, that of Asha. All other paths are false.”).
In the ‘Hoshbam’ we
pray, “Through the best Asha, through the highest Asha, may we catch sight of Thee (Dadaar Ahura Mazda), may we
approach Thee, may we be in perfect union with Thee.”
Zarathushtra’s message is of happiness. We pray in the
Ushtavaiti Gatha, “Ushta ahmai yahmai ushta
Kahmai chit.” [“Happiness (be) to
him through whom happiness (is caused) to another”].
There is much more to Zarathushtrian
philosophy and thought than the over- simplified and much cliched,
“Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds”.
In conclusion, we, Zarathushtis,
can truly affirm, “Fortunate are we that the Teacher/Priest was born,
Spitama Zarathushtra” (“Ushta-no zato Athrava, yo spitamo