Khordad Sal: The Birth of Prophet Zarathushtra
Zarathushtra was born in the priestly family of Spitama. His mother was Dughdova and his father’s name was Pourushaspa Spitama. He was born in Bactria, in the town of Rae, near the river Vebdait. The day was Khordad, the sixth day of the month of Fravardin (the first month of the Zoroastrian year). Prior to his birth, his mother Dughdova had dreams which foretold the divine mission of her son. When Zarathushtra was born, it is said that his aura spread light all over the town of Rae. A prophet comes in answer to man’s prayer. “Thamaso ma Jyothir gamaya” – Lead me from darkness to light. This occurrence signifies that the one, who will destroy the darkness of ignorance and spread the light of love and wisdom in the hearts of men, has taken birth. The parents named the child Zarathushtra which means Golden Shining Star. The scriptures describe how all nature blossomed and were jubilant at the birth of the Prophet and the heart of men, beasts and birds felt blessed and happy.
A group of demons and wizards, however, greatly feared that the Divine child would be cause of their downfall, and Durasarun, their leader was busy scheming and plotting to have the baby destroyed. The child survived by the grace and protection of Ahura Mazda.
Zarathushtra was growing into an intelligent and devoted young boy. It was then that the last attempt was made by one of Durasarun’s men disguised as a physician to poison him with some drugs. But Zarathushtra easily discovered the trick and refused to take the medicine.
At the age of seven, he was placed under the care of a wise man called Borjin-Khursh from whom he learned all he could. He initiated Zarathushtra into the Mazdayasnin faith and at the age of fifteen, Zarathushtra was invested with the sacred thread or Khusti. At the age of twenty-five, Zarathushtra felt that he should retire to a secluded spot for deep meditation and contemplation on God’s plan and the purpose and meaning of man’s life. So Zarathushtra chose to stay in a place near a shepherd’s hut on the top of a mountain. The shepherd used to help Zarathushtra by bringing him little gifts to milk and bread. In this way, Zarathushtra spent ten years and during this time the Gathas (the holy scriptures of the Zarathushtra) were revealed to him within his own mind. When Zarathushtra was convinced that he had a very clear Revelation from God, he left the mountain spot and made his way to the court of King Vistasp. He began his task of reforming the existing Mazdayasnin faith and when King Vistasp embraced the teachings of Zarathushtra, the “Zarathushtri Mazdayasnin’ faith became the national religion of Iran.
On Khordad Sal, the Zoroastrians pay homage to the memory of Zarathushtra, by remembering and endeavouring to practice the teachings he gave to mankind. As a beginning of our learning about the teachings to Zarathushtra, let us learn about the seven Amesha-Spenta or the Path of Truth, Righteousness, Peace and Love taught by Zarathushtra.
The “Seven Amesha-Spenta” or the “Holy Immortals”
The Amesha-Spenta are different aspects of Ahura Mazda and each is a step along the pathway to Divinity. The first Amesha-Spenta is Ahura Mazda himself. The one who lives in the heart of man – He is the Ahu in each one. The truth of all truths – this unchanging truth must be reflected in our thoughts and words.
The second is Vohu-Mano or the innocent, loving mind. God is love. Real Love gives and forgives. Like Light, Love knows no boundaries or differences and no matter how much it is shared, it never diminishes. If love is not giving and forgiving, it is called Ako Mano or inferior mind.
The third is Asha-Vahishta, which means the Highest Righteousness. This is the bedrock of Zarathushtra’s teachings. It includes all right actions based upon the truth in our hearts.
The fourth Amesha-Spenta is described as Vohu Kshathram Vairam. It means precious, loving, divine strength. It is a blessing that comes as a result of following the path of Asha. Through His grace, the ego too slowly diminishes and the work we do becomes an offering of loving service to the Lord living not only in other fellow beings but also in the birds and animals around us. A person with a truly loving mind will never harm animals. In fact, in the Gathas, Vohu Mano (Loving Mind) is depicted as the Divine protector of the animal kingdom.
The remaining three Amesha-Spenta are described as gifts of Grace that come to one through Asha or Righteousness. Spento Armaiti is described as the daughter of Mazda. She signifies wisdom. From wisdom comes Peace or Shanti. Because through wisdom we come to realize the oneness of creation and so or not affected by the temporary sorrows and pleasure and ups and downs of life. Then, as the sixth, we have Khurdad-Haurvatat which means sweetness of protection, and lastly Ameretat, immortality with God and the final gift of Grace.
Sathya, Dharma, Shanti and Prema are the essence of all religions and when we begin to put into practice one of these, the other three will automatically come to us.