Friday, August 17, 2007

The Amesha Spentas

Zoroaster, detail, The School of Athens by Raphael

Zoroaster, or Zarathustra, the prophet and poet of ancient Persia, is now almost universally accepted by Iranists to have lived in the 9th/10th century BCE. His message of a single beneficent God called Ahura Mazda, probably influenced Judaism, and echoes the idea of a single, otherless Self, found in the Upanishads of India.
The monotheistic teachers have striven to draw the attention of humanity to the central truth of existence - that there is only one Self. They recognised that it was difficult for people to grasp the concept that the gods they worshipped were aspects of a single Self within. Multiplicity was distracting people from the path of realising this single Self.
However, Zoroaster's One God is not a dull monolith, but has different aspects responsible for the unfolding of different areas of Manifestation. He called them the Amesha Spentas (beneficent immortals) and they are comparable to the archangels of Creation in Judaism. In common with the system of seven Chakras, each with a presiding deity, found in ancient Indian Yoga philosophy, there are seven Amesha Spentas (six emanations plus their origin - Ahura Mazda - making a heptad)
There are similarities between the qualities of the Amesha Spentas and those of the deities of the Chakras. In praise of these aspects of the Divine, Zarathustra wrote a collection of hymns called the Gathas, an old Persian word closely related to the Sanskrit 'gita', meaning 'song'.

The qualities of the Chakras according to Sahaja Yoga are:

1)Mooladhara (Base) Chakra - earth, innocence, wisdom
2)Swadisthana (Pelvic) Chakra - fire, creativity
3)Nabhi (Navel) Chakra - water, sustenance, balance, prosperity
4)Anahata (Heart) Chakra - air, love, security.
5)Visshuddhi (Throat) Chakra, - ether/sky, communication
6)Agnya (Brow) Chakra - light, forgiveness, mind.
7)Sahasrara (Crown) Chakra - integration, union.

The Zoroastrian Amesha Spentas are:
1)Ameretat ("not dying") Rules over Plants. Personification of immortality.

2)Asha vahishta ("excellent order") Fire element. Personification of the 'best truth' and protector of the physical and moral order on earth.

3)Haurvatat ("wholeness"). Water element. Personification of perfection. She brings prosperity and health.

4)Aramaiti ("devotion") Earth element. Personification of holy devotion.

5)Khshathra vairya ("desirable dominion") sky/metal. A warrior.

6)Vohu Manah ("good mind") Personification of wisdom.

7)Ahura Mazda The Supreme Self

"In the context of the Zoroastrian view of creation, the group of the Amesha Spenta is extended to include Ahura Mazda, together with (or represented by) Spenta Mainyu. However, in most scholastic texts, an unqualified referral to the "Amesha Spenta" is usually understood to include only great six. In Yasna 44.7, 31.3, and 51.7, Ahura Mazda's Spenta Mainyu is the instrument or "active principle" of the act of creation. It is also through this 'Bounteous Force', 'Creative Emanation' or 'Holy Spirit' that Ahura Mazda is immanent in humankind (Yasna 33.6), and how the Creator interacts with the world (Yasna 43.6).
The doctrine also has a physical dimension, in that each of the heptad is linked to one of the seven creations, which in ancient philosophy were the foundation of the universe. These physical associations are only alluded to in the Gathas, and then so subtly that they are usually lost in translation.
A systematic association is only present in later middle Persian texts, where each of the seven is listed with its 'special domain':"

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