01 febrero, 2017

The Amesha Spenta in Zoroastrianims

Literally translated as “sacred/bounteous immortals” (Boyce, 1989: 933), the Amesha Spenta represent six divinities firstly evoked by Agora Mazda who personify his own qualities. The sacred text provide information about this saying they were created “from his own selfhood” (Bd. 1.44), “from his own light” (MK, 8.2), “the lighting of a torch from a torch” (Ayādgār ī Jāmāspīg 3.3-7). It is thus understood that those creatures are united to the Creator in substance but separated in body, being the hypostasis of the own nature of Ahura Mazda and forming a sacred heptad.
Firstly, at the Gathas, they seem to be abstract references of moral concepts or symbolic ideals and not creatures strictly speaking. Fundamentally and linked to previous Iranian cults, the Amesha Spenta deify abstract concepts that were interesting to highlight as optimal for the cultural, social and human organization. But at the Haptanghaiti o or the Seven Chapter Yasna —first prose composition from the Avestan perio and written in the Gathic dialect (Dhalla, 1983: 162)— they are mentioned as independent creatures for the first time (Y. 39.3; 42.6). They dwell in the highest Sky were they hold counsel to descend afterwards to the seven parts of the world and rule upon them (Y. 57.23; Yt. 11.14). It is emphasized their non-perishing ability, their perpetual existence to assist Ahura Mazda and his creation and help to defend the dominion of the Asha.
The Amesha Spenta were created to safeguard the creation and their characteristics are listed all throughout the sacred texts: they are everlasting, wise, good rulers, valiant and mighty (Y. 2.2; 4.4; 6.1; 24.9; 25.4; 35.1; 39.3; 58.5; 70.1). Every single one of the Amesha Spenta is linked to an element of creation and, like the yazatas, they are worshiped in their own right by humans. Followers of Zarathustra, who was the first human to invoke them, have to respect and care for these six elements. The bond between those and their immortal guardians is reaffirmed in every act of worship, as they appear visually represented at the same time they are summoned. The immanence of the cult indicates the real importance these creatures had.

· Vohu Manah, the Good Thought
· Aša Vahištā, the Best Righteousness
· Khšasthra Vairya, the Desirable Dominion
· Spenta Ārmaiti, the Sacred Devotion
· Haurvatāt, the Wholeness, and Amərətāt, the Immortality

Amesha Spenta and Zarathustra
by Hanna M. G. Shapero


BIBLIOGRAPHY
BIKERMAN, E. (1983), «Anonymous Gods», Journal of the Warburg Institute, vol. 1, nº 3. London: The Warburg Institute, 187-196, ISSN: 0959-2024.
BOYCE, M. (1975a), A History of Zoroastrianism, vol. I, Leiden: Brill.
BOYCE, M. (1979), Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, London, Routledge.
BOYCE, M. (1984), Textual Sources for the study of Zoroastrianism, Manchester: Manchester University Press.
BOYCE, M. (1989), «Aməša Spənta», Encyclopædia Iranica, New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, vol. I, fasc. 9, 933-936. ISSN: 2330-4804.
CAMPOS, I. (2007), «Ahuras, Daeuuas y Bagas. Una revisión de la terminología religiosa en el panteón iranio antiguo», Bandue. Revista de la Sociedad Española de Ciencias de las Religiones, vol. 1, 35-46. ISSN: 1888-346X.
DHALLA, M. N. (1983), History of Zoroastrianism. London: Oxford University Press.
HUMBAL, H. (2000), «Gathas i. Texts», Encyclopædia Iranica, New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, vol. X, fasc. 3, 321-327. ISSN: 2330-4804.
KELLENs, J. (1987), «Avesta», Encyclopædia Iranica, New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, vol. III, fasc. 1, 35-44. ISSN: 2330-4804.
KELLENS, J. (1994), Le panthéon de l’Avesta ancien, Wiesbaden: Ludwig Reichert Verlag.
Lommel, H. (1927), Die Yašts des Awesta, Göttingen-Leipzig: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht/JC Hinrichs.
LOMMEL, H. (1930), Die Religion Zarathustras nach dem Awesta dargestellt, Tübingen, . 185-236.
MOULTON, J. H. (1913), Early Zoroastrianism, London: Constable & Company LTD.
muller, F. M. (2013), The Zend-Avesta, London: Routledge.
NIGOSIAN, S. A. (1993), The Zoroastrian Faith: Tradition and Modern Research, London: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
West, E. W. (ed. 1993), Pahlavi texts. Part I, The Bundahis, Bahman Yast, and Shayast La-Shayast. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
West, E. W. (ed. 2004), Pahlavi Texts. Part V, Marvels of Zoroastrism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
West, E. W. (ed. 2005), Pahlavi Texts. Part III, Dina-i Mainog-i Khirad, Sikand-Gümanik Vigar, Sad Dar. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
WILLIAMS, A. V. (ed. 1990), The Pahlavi Rivayat Accompaning the Dadestan I Denig, Copenhagen: The Royal Danish Accademy of Sciences and Letters.


Los Amesha Spenta del Zoroastrismo

Literalmente traducidos como “sagrados/abundantes inmortales” (Boyce, 1989: 933), los Amesha Spenta representan a las seis divinidades evocadas primero por Ahura Mazda y que personifican cualidades del mismo. Los textos sagrados aportan información al respecto, diciendo que fueron creados “de su propia identidad” (Bd. 1.44), “de su propia luz” (MK, 8.2), “como prender una antorcha con otra antorcha” (Ayādgār ī Jāmāspīg 3.3-7). Se entiende entonces que estas criaturas están unidas con el Gran Creador en sustancia pero separadas en cuerpo, siendo la hipóstasis de la propia naturaleza de Ahura Mazda, con quien forman un septeto sagrado.   
Al principio, en los Gathas, parece que se traten de referencias abstractas, de conceptos morales o ideales simbólicos, y no de criaturas propiamente dichas. Fundamentalmente, y esto enlaza con los cultos iranios previos, los Amesha Spenta divinizan conceptos abstractos que interesa destacar como óptimos para la organización social, cultural y humana. Pero ya en el Haptanghaiti o el Yasna de los Siete Capítulos —la primera composición en prosa del periodo avéstico escrita en el dialecto de los Gathas (Dhalla, 1983: 162)— se les menciona por primera vez como seres independientes (Y. 39.3; 42.6). Viven en el más elevado de los Cielos (Vd. 19.32, 36), donde se reúnen en consejo, para luego descender a las siete partes del mundo y gobernarlas (Y. 57.23; Yt. 11.14). Se hace mucho hincapié en su capacidad de no morir, de perpetua existencia para asistir la creación de Ahura Mazda y ayudar a defender y extender su reino del Asha.
Los Amesha Spenta fueron creados para salvaguardar la creación y sus características están enumeradas a los largo de todos los textos sagrados: son imperecederos, sabios, buenos gobernantes, poderosos y valientes (Y. 2.2; 4.4; 6.1; 24.9; 25.4; 35.1; 39.3; 58.5; 70.1). Al mismo tiempo, cada uno de los Amesha Spenta está vinculado a un elemento de la creación y, como los yazatas, son dignos de ser venerados por los seres humanos. Los seguidores de Zarathusthra, que fue el primer ser humano que los invocó, tienen la obligación de respetar y cuidar estos seis elementos. El vínculo entre estos y sus guardianes inmortales se reafirma con cada acto de adoración sacerdotal, ya que aparecen representados visualmente al mismo tiempo que se les convoca. La inmanencia del culto es indicativa de la importancia real que estas seis criaturas tuvieron.

· Vohu Manah, el Buen Pensamiento
· Aša Vahištā, la Mejor Virtud
· Khšathra Vairya, el Reino Deseado
· Spenta Ārmaiti, la Sagrada Devoción
· Haurvatāt, la Totalidad, y Amərətāt, la Inmortalidad

Amesha Spenta y Zarathusthra,
de la ilustradora Hannah M. G. Shapero


BIBLIOGRAFÍA
BIKERMAN, E. (1983), «Anonymous Gods», Journal of the Warburg Institute, vol. 1, nº 3. London: The Warburg Institute, 187-196, ISSN: 0959-2024.
BOYCE, M. (1975a), A History of Zoroastrianism, vol. I, Leiden: Brill.
BOYCE, M. (1979), Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, Londres, Routledge.
BOYCE, M. (1984), Textual Sources for the study of Zoroastrianism, Manchester: Manchester University Press.
BOYCE, M. (1989), «Aməša Spənta», Encyclopædia Iranica, New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, vol. I, fasc. 9, 933-936. ISSN: 2330-4804.
CAMPOS, I. (2007), «Ahuras, Daeuuas y Bagas. Una revisión de la terminología religiosa en el panteón iranio antiguo», Bandue. Revista de la Sociedad Española de Ciencias de las Religiones, vol. 1, 35-46. ISSN: 1888-346X.
DHALLA, M. N. (1983), History of Zoroastrianism. London: Oxford University Press.
HUMBAL, H. (2000), «Gathas i. Texts», Encyclopædia Iranica, New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, vol. X, fasc. 3, 321-327. ISSN: 2330-4804.
KELLENs, J. (1987), «Avesta», Encyclopædia Iranica, New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, vol. III, fasc. 1, 35-44. ISSN: 2330-4804.
KELLENS, J. (1994), Le panthéon de l’Avesta ancien, Wiesbaden: Ludwig Reichert Verlag.
Lommel, H. (1927), Die Yašts des Awesta, Göttingen-Leipzig: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht/JC Hinrichs.
LOMMEL, H. (1930), Die Religion Zarathustras nach dem Awesta dargestellt, Tübingen, . 185-236.
MOULTON, J. H. (1913), Early Zoroastrianism, Londres: Constable & Company LTD.
muller, F. M. (2013), The Zend-Avesta, Londres: Routledge.
NIGOSIAN, S. A. (1993), The Zoroastrian Faith: Tradition and Modern Research, Londres: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
West, E. W. (ed. 1993), Pahlavi texts. Part I, The Bundahis, Bahman Yast, and Shayast La-Shayast. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
West, E. W. (ed. 2004), Pahlavi Texts. Part V, Marvels of Zoroastrism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
West, E. W. (ed. 2005), Pahlavi Texts. Part III, Dina-i Mainog-i Khirad, Sikand-Gümanik Vigar, Sad Dar. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
WILLIAMS, A. V. (ed. 1990), The Pahlavi Rivayat Accompaning the Dadestan I Denig, Copenhagen: The Royal Danish Accademy of Sciences and Letters.



20 diciembre, 2016

Shab-e Yaldā, the darkest night

Shab-e Yaldā is the name of one of the most ancient celebrations of Iranian culture that traces back its origins to the same Achaemenid period and the establishment of Zoroastrian religion as the official religion. This night that normally coincides with December 20th or 21st commemorates the supremacy of light upon darkness and Iranian families gather together to celebrate sharing traditional meals, music and poetry.



The darkest night
Most characteristic of the night of Yaldā is its simultaneous occurrence with the winter solstice, what makes it the longest night of the year. Zoroastrianism told that those were the hours when Ahriman and his daevas became more powerful and traversed the world without boundaries. Hence mankind stayed awake and protected by the fires that were lighten all night long to dispel the daevas. Feasts and prayers were celebrating upon Mithra, the yazata of the Sun and the one who protected sunlight every morning, and also offerings were made to ask for prosperous harvest[1].
It was at the same time believed that after that long night the day would entirely belong to Ahura Mazda, the Great Creator. The rising of the sun after X symbolized the genuine victory of light upon darkness. Persian Poet Sa’di wrote in his Bustan: «True morning will not come until Yaldā night is gone»[2].

Yaldā table.
Picture via:


The čellas
To properly understand the meaning of the night of Yaldā firstly it must be located correctly inside the Persian calendar. According to a Zoroastrian denomination, a čella refers to any period including forty days, and there is three of those each year: one in the summer, two in the winter. The summer čella, called qalb al-asad, starts 1 Tīr /21st June and ends 5 Mordād/26th July and covering 35 days. It is not as important as the other two in comparison, what leads to Mahmoud Omidsalar to think of a latter creation by analogy of the wintry ones[3]. 
There are two relevant čellas in winter that are linked with different festivities or traditions of Persia:
a) čella-ye bozorg or čellabozorga, «the great čella». From 1st Dey/22nd December until 11th Bahman/30th January.
b) čella-ye kūček or čellakūceka, «the small čella». From 10th  Bahman/29th  January until 30th Bahman/20th de February. The latter reaches number 40 joining 20 days and 20 nights.
 The transition period from one čella to the other is known as čāṛčār, «four-four». It includes the last four days of the great čella and the four first days of the small one. Traditionally it includes the coldest days of winter. On that subject an interest legend is told where every čella represents a brother, both daevas related to cold and snow: Ahman and Bahman. Apparently those two siblings argued during čāṛčār period and Bahman scorn his older brother because he didn’t caused enough cold to hurt the people and the flocks. «If I had as much time as you do, I would have made the weather so cold that unborn colts would freeze in their mother’s womb», he said. And Ahman replied: «you can’t do anything because the spring arrives on your heels»[4].

Akhlamad Waterfall in winter, province of Khorasan (Iran)

The traditions of Yaldā
The night of Yaldā is located inside čella-ye bozorg, the longest, and is one of the greatest celebrations of Iranian folklore. Traditionally the family gathers at the eldest member of the family if possible to stay the night and share dinner. For this special night a great variety of fruits and sweetmeat is prepared, some of them nearly exclusively. In some places of Iran it is believed to attract better the fortune up to forty different meals must be arranged at the table (referring to the Yaldā period where the night of Yaldā is).
One of the most popular fruits to be consumed is watermelon to assure health and well-being of those who eat it. It is believed that if summer meals are eaten in winter people will be protected against the cold and they will not suffer illness like flues or fevers. Another quite popular fruit is pomegranate representing fertility and the regeneration cycle of the earth. The outer covering symbolizes the dawn whereas the colour of the grains represents the life glow. Both pomegranate and watermelon are presented as an offering to ask for prosperity and happiness[5].
Yaldā is a magically potent time that primarily is associated with food. Eating carrots, pears, pomegranate or green olives guarantees protection against the bite of harmful insects, especially scorpions, and chewing garlic prevents joints pain.
After the dinner poesy is usually recited and the Dīvān of āfe is the favourite choice. With those verses normally divination games are played, although tradition recommends not trying it more than three times, as it could anger the poet.  
Among other curious traditions of Yaldā exist the one of whispering into the ear of a donkey as is considered the definite cure for any ailment. Mixing camel fat with a mare’s milk and after burning them will generate a smoke that will protect the space from insects[6].

Yaldā table with a book of Ḥāfeẓ.
Picture vía:
 
http://www.adayinthelalz.com/2015_12_01_archive.html



BIBLIOGRAFÍA/BIBLIOGRAPHY
Boyce, Mary: «Festivals I. Zoroastrian», Encyclopædia Iranica, New York, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1999, p. 543-546. Available online: http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/festivals-i
BOYCE, Mary: «Iranian Festivals», Cambridge History of Iran, vol. 3(2). Cambridge University Press, 1983, pp. 792-818. 
MIRRAVAZI, Firouzhe: Celebrating Yalda Night. Compilation available online:  http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Celebrating_Yalda_2.htm
OMIDSALAR, Mahmoud: «Čella», Encyclopædia Iranica, New York, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1990, p. 123-125. Available online:  http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/cella-term-referring-to-any-forty-day-period



[1] MIRRAVAZI, Firouzhe, op. cit.
[2] OMIDSALAR, Mahmoud, op. cit., p. 123.
[3] OMIDSALAR, Mahmoud, op. cit., p. 123.
[4] A. Enjavī, Jašnhā o ādāb o moʿtaqadāt-e zemestān, 2 vols., Tehran, 1352 Š./1973, p. 3. Visto en OMIDSALAR, Mahmoud, op. cit., p. 123.
[5] MIRRAVAZI, Firouzhe, op. cit.
[6] OMIDSALAR, Mahmoud, op. cit., p. 124.