ABSTRACT

The Zoroastrian "Doctrine of Good and Evil." is not only the first clearly ethical religious doctrine in history, but it also is the most satisfactory answer to what is known as the "problem of evil". The Zoroastrian doctrine clearly enunciates, that Evil is placed inside mortal minds. It is produced by wrong, retrograde, evil choices. On the other hand Good is also a product of righteous choices. Evil and Good are clearly ethical edicts, which have no real existence outside Man's minds. As a logical conclusion of this teaching, we believe that there is no Evil in nature. Hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes and sicknesses, are in Zoroastrianism ethically neutral. They are either the products of chance, the existence of which is necessary to allow freedom of choice, or they are a function of Asha, necessary to uphold creation. Evil is the product of Man's wrongful choices and it is to be eliminated by good choices. Zarathushtra expresses this beautifully as "delivering wrong into the hands of the True and Right Order of Things".

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Universal Teachings Zarathushtra God in the Gathas Asha Vohu Manah Kshathra Mazda Ahura

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Good and Evil in the Teaching of the Saviors

Perhaps no other doctrine in Zoroastrianism is as famous as its "Doctrine of Good and Evil." It is also the most misunderstood and the most misperceived one ... to the knowing. This is perhaps fitting, for not only is it the first clearly ethical religious doctrine in history, but it was and perhaps is the most satisfactory answer to what is known as the "problem of evil."

The Teaching as given in Gathas - Song 3
In Song 3 of the Gathas, Zarathushtra gives us the basics of Zoroastrian thinking on Good and Evil. The very introduction in Verse 3:1 of this Song, he introduces what he calls "Principles" to "those who wish to hear" and tells us that these principles are "important to the wise."

A Brief study of Study of Sng 3.2
At this time it is vitally necessary that we do a briedf study of Sng 3.2 and its immediate context, as well as where it fits in the over all Gathic context.


Reasonings
he's the devil in the sky ..Let us first start by reminding the readers that every single syllable in a Gathic word is a unit of meter and every single line is a unit of thought . Let's not forget also that every line has 2 sections called in Gathic pada, meaning feet. In other words Zarathushtra is telling you right away how to translate his work.

1. You have to account for each syllable first, and then get the meaning of the word from its meter that is from its syllables, because this a poetic rhythmic composition, meant to be sung or chanted and the meter makes the word understood and it preserves them, so the text cannot be manipulated without breaking the meter and thus the meaning of the word.

2. Every single line of a verse or Stanza, stands on its own two feet, that is the padas or line sections, which mean feet in Gathic, are the basis that keeps the line doing its work, which is to carry a coherent unit of thought by itself. This meaning is amplified and amplifies the meaning of the next line and so forth and so on. This is no mere speculation but sound theory and scholarship, developed and tested by Irach S Taraporewalla from his study of the Aryan Gaetri meter, which has the same characteristics.

This is I believe an invaluable tool in translation, that is almost forgotten today. It is an unappreciated and unaccepted discovery by Taraporewalla, which ought to be brought up front and center in the field of Gatha translation. To acknowledge this working theory and its clear results, is truly a crying and vital need in the field of Gathic translations. Taraporewalla's systems simplifies the tasks at hand, makes translations more coherent, there are less doubts about meaning and construction, in short, its a superior system in my opinion. Plus it once and for all lays to rest all the silly arguments like Zarathushtra wanted to be obtuse and confusing on purpose, that have been espoused by some Western scholars.

Indeed this silliness, together with all the literal interpretations of cows, pastures, husbandmen, etc; not only does violence to the rich poetic an allegorical traditions of the Aryans, which are preserved, even to this day, in Iran, Pakistan, Northern India and Afghanistan. But it also does violence to the very image of the translators for their inconsistency. For these very same scholars, when they look at the Bible, they don't see literal shepherds, sheeps, vines, mustard seeds, etc. No siree, they recognize all of these as the allegories that they obviously are, but do not give the same benefit to Zarathushtra, whom they insist to paint as an agrarian reformer/shaman, drinking hallucinogenic beverages, smoking Cannabis and dreaming up uncreated Devils. Now that we have laid the basis of translation and remembering that the highest spiritua leaning should be attached to this Hymns, we will look over he original in its phonetic adaptation (not on its own alphabet because we lack the funds to acquire those, at present)
.
sraotâ gêushâish vahishtâ
avaênatâ sûcâ mananghâ
âvarenå vîcithahyâ
narêm narem xvaxyâi tanuyê
parâ mazê ýånghô (There is an error here, the meter demands Yaaonghoo)
ahmâi nê sazdyâi baodañtô paitî

Jafarey translates:

Hear the best with your ears
and ponder with a bright mind.
Then each man and woman, for his or
her self,
select either of the [following] two.
Awaken to this Doctrine of oursbefore the Great Event of Choice ushers in.

Now, as the custom is today, Jafarey divides the lines in padas, which is perfectly alright, as long as we keep to the idea of one line, one unit of thought. Jafarey is, in my opinion, practically a genius at translation. However, I believe that by not following, strictly the system developed by Taraporewalla, he misses some things. Of course no one is pefect. Tarap was neither, as he often defined a word one way in his notes and translated it in another way and certainly Jafarey's version is to me superior, because Taraporewalla had too much of an indentication with the Parsi establishment and too much of a non-critical eye towards Hinduism

However, this does not change he fact that Taraporewalla's system is superior. So what if his politics, his time and his tradition, led them astray some times. The point is that his system, used impartially and without bias, will produce a better, simpler, more accurate translation, as far as clarity of meaning goes.

Looking at the Avestan text and at Jafarey's translation, Jafarey clearly stays within the bounds of Taraporewalla's system, except for the syllble's meanings. So, outside of that, we are looking at a difference in terminology, more than anything else: Lets look then at each syllable in each pada and see what we come up with, remembering we are looking for the clearest and highest spiritual meaning, while a literal translation does not make sense in a modern Western language. So let's test out Taraporewalla's methodology and see what we can come up with.

Sraotaa: two syllables Srao = listen and taa is an emphatic form of the suffix ta. Ta implies the state of being something, beingness Is truly untranslatable, in an acceptable grammatical or logical way in a modern language with just one word. In Sraotaa it's being listening with great care, since the extra a is emphatic. So it's best to translate it "Listen attentively".

Geeushaaish: two syllables geeush aaish is being translated as ears but aaish by itself is that Geeush is a form of geo or gao, that means worldly. So its best to translate this with two words again: worldly ears.

Vahishtaa The very best or the very highest

avaeenataa a vaee na taa not seeing self/inner state of+ selflessly

Suuchaa suu light caa augmentative suffix Illumined Enlightened

Mananghaa man think anghas plural and emphatic form of to be

So we have the two padas forming a line. Literal translation would be:


Listen attentively (with) your earthly ears (In other words, this is not a spiritual 'hearing', but a physical one) (to) the highest (or very best)) Selflessly, (and) (with a) thinking full (of) light

Which we can then render:

Listen attentively to the highest (of) worldly (things). Selflessly and with illumined thinking.

Consequences
In Song 3:4 these two are pictured as creating "LIFE" and "NOT LIVING", thereby implying that when we choose the Spenta way, we choose the right way of living and conversely when we choose the Aka way, it is indeed the wrong way of living……..which is synonymous with not living at all. The verse further warns of "…..until the end of existence ('angheush' - which can also be defined as 'world') the worst mind (or Reasonings or Spirit ) is for the wrongful, and the best mind, shall be for the Righteous"

Further in Song 3.11 we are explicitly told: "If you understand the two principles of prosperity and adversity (Mainyus as explained in Song 3:1), established by the Most Wise and Great Creator, which are a long suffering for the the lovers of illusion and deceit and a lasting good for the lovers of the True and Right Order of Things, then you shall enjoy radiant happiness."

Conclusion
Thus the Zoroastrian doctrine clearly enunciates, that Evil in the Teaching of the Saviors is placed inside mortal minds. It is produced by wrong, retrograde, evil choices. On the other hand Good is also a product of righteous, Spenta choices. Evil and Good are clearly ethical edicts, which have no real existence outside Man's minds, Reasonings or Spirit and choices.

As a logical conclusion of this teaching, we, in the Teaching of the Saviors, believe that there is no Evil in nature. Hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes and sicknesses, which humans believe to be Nature's wrath or a manifestation of Evil, or punishment for Man's misdeeds, are in Zoroastrianism ethically neutral. That is they are neither good, nor bad in themselves. They are either the products of chance, the existence of which is necessary to allow freedom of choice, or they are a function of Asha, necessary to uphold creation.

For example, while earth quakes and volcanoes do cause consequences that are destructive and disastrous to human existence, in reality they are necessary to relieve the inner pressure of the Earth's crust. Without this relief of pressure, the Earth would explode.

In the Teaching of the Saviors, God is totally good, thus all His creation is good and is functioning as it was designed. Evil is the product of man's wrongful choices and it is to be eliminated by good choices. Zarathushtra expresses this beautifully as "delivering wrong into the hands of the True and Right Order of Things." When mortals eliminate evil choices, they become progressively more Whole (complete), eventually leading to immortality in the better existence (the House of Good Mind) and in the very presence of our Creator.

 Questions and/or opinions? You're welcome on the discussion pages!                     (continue)

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