What is the position of camel in Zoroastrian texts? (TMY JJ of 14-10-18)

  1. Ancient Iran, being largely a desert region, camel was the main mode of transport and hence was considered a very valuable animal. Special shelters were built for housing camels. The camel was described as “having a high hump, abundant thinking power, swift runner and carrier of heavy loads.”
  2. The word for camel in Avesta is ushtra. It is most probably derived from Öus- “to tame.” Two other words are used in the Avest to describe a camel, both of which refer to a camel’s hump. They are stvi-kaofa, literally meaning “having a large mountain” and saeni-kaofa, literally meaning “having the peak of a mountain.”
  3. A camel was regarded as the most valuable domestic animal, more valuable than a horse, a cow, an ox and an ass. When compared with special metals gold and silver, a horse was compared to silver whereas a camel was compared to gold.
  4. In the Avestan times, wealth of a person was often ascertained by the number of camels they possessed. Those who owned camels were considered wealthy and had great respect in society. Camels were desired as gifts and granted as a boon by Yazads.
  5. Some proper names in the Avesta had the word ushtra in them. For example, Zarathushtra “possessing mature camels”, Frashaoshtra “possessing excellent camels”, Ratushtra “possessing the leader among camel” and Ranghushtra “possessing healthy camels.” Ushtra by itself was also used as a name.
  6. The word ushtra is also used metaphorically in the Avesta to denote higher consciousness, since another derivation of the word ushtra is from Öush– “to burn, to shine.” In that context the meaning of the name of prophet Zarathushtra is “one having a brilliant and high consciousness.”
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