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On the Avestic terms Mazda, Ahura-Mazda, Ahura

by Dastur Jāmāspjī Mīnicheherjī Jāmāsp-Āsana






Head Priest of the Parais at Bombay.

Tiré du vol. II des Travaux de la 6e session du Congrès international
des Orientalistes à Leide.




I venture to embrace this opportumty of laying before this noble gathering of my learned friends and scholars a paper on the long discussed and yet unsettled question of the Avestic terms „Mazda," „Ahura-mazda" and „Ahura" by which the Lord of the Universe is distinguished, and trust that the question may be fully discussed at the assembly and an unanimous settlement be arrived at. Various opinions founded on Avesta writings have been given by different Oriental Scholars on this subject. A large portion of them hold that „Mazda" and „Ahura" are one and the same name by which the Lord of the Creation is known, some assign the term .„Mazda" to Him, while some say that „Ahura- mazda" is the sole Lord or Creator of the Universe.

Now, my learned friends, before I enter into details and give my humble opinion on this important subject full of mysterions and secret intelligence, I must own that my humble and poor abilities and talents will not admit of doing proper justice to the difficult question and consequently trust that any misgivings or defects traceable in the paper will meet with your usual kind forbearance.

It must be remembered that the Lord of the Creation is known by his own works-such as the movement of different planets and stars in their various directions, appointed by Him, His Omnipotence, His divine supremacy and all-presence among all His providence, His marvelous almighty sacred and superhuman inspirations in all his angelic and worldly beings, and his all-merciful and virtuous divinity and infinite power and authority over the whole Universe, &c. &c. We will now proceed to examine in which of the above mentioned three names are all such characteristic qualities to be traced — in Mazda, Ahura-mazda, or Ahura — by a minute examination I have come to the conclusion that a great portion of his qualities are to be traced in the term Ahura according to Avesta writings.

We will in the beginning consider the first of the three terms," „Mazda" given at the head of this paper. On a review of the Avesta books I find that „Mazda" is not a denomination by which the Creator is recognised, but it is a mere titie attached to „Ahura" the primeval and first created Spirit of that „Ahura" who is the sole Lord of the Creation. On looking over the meaning of the term „Mazda," we can clearly see that it is not meant to be the name of any being but a mere adjective or title applied to „Ahura" as I have said before — it is made up of two words Maz + da. Mas (Sanscrit ffl^, Pahlavi -of, Persian *) means „great;"

and da (from da, Sans. Щ and Pers. jSSjb) means „wisdom;" and the whole term „Mazda" means „of high wisdom or intellect or providence." It is then clear enough that the term „Mazda" is not a name or denomination but a mere title given only to „Ahura," the primeval spirit, created by the sole Lord „Ahura." This spirit „Ahura" is universally known by the same name as his Creator from the beginning of the ages or creation. Now, because the name of the created spirit is the same by which his creator or the sole Lord is known, the title of „Mazda" has been added to the name of the created spirit, to „Ahura" as a mark of distinction to avoid confusion. In like manner the adjective „vohu = good" is prefixed to the original term „Mano = thought," and the whole word „Vohumano" = good thought is the name of the angel Beheman; as also the affix „vahishta = best, or most exalted" is attached to the original term „Asha = truth, piety, virtue, &c;" and the whole word „Ashavahishta „which means „the greatest or the best truth" is the name of the angel „Ardi- behesht;" and so on.

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