What is the most important virtue in the Zoroastrian religion? (TMY, JJ of 26-5 & 2-6-19)

1. Every religion has three aspects to it – Ethics, Teachings and Practices. While the teachings and practices may differ from religion to religion, based on its world view, the ethics of all religions are more or less the same. However, the emphasis on the ethics differ, and each religion has its own dominant ethic / virtue.

2. Asha “truth” is the most important virtue in the Zoroastrian religion. This word is translated in many different ways, like “truth, righteousness, honesty, holiness, orderliness, piety and purity.” It is easy to understand the underlying similarity amongst all these different meanings, if one looks at the literal meaning of the word Asha, which is “to go on the right path.”

3. There is no one individual word in the English language which can properly translate and reflect the spirit of the word Asha. There are words similar to Asha in other traditions too, like Rita among the Hindus and Tao among the Confucians. Broadly speaking, all these 3 words, Asha, Rita and Tao mean the same “to go on the right path.”

4. Other important virtues like honesty, sincerity and integrity are based on the virtue of truth. All these virtues are not possible without being truthful. Druj, that is lies, is the opposite of Asha. Druj is also the name of the demon who presides over falsehood.

5. The concept of Asha is connected to the larger concept of Asha Vahishta. Whereas Asha is the individual Truth at a personal level, Asha Vahishta is the Universal Truth at the cosmic level. It is also a reminder of the fact that personal truth alone can alone lead one to the Universal Truth. Asha Vahishta also means “the primordial cosmic law”, which includes the “law of cause and effect.”

6. The word Asha is the most often used word in the Avesta language. It is the only word that comes in all the three short prayers of Yathā ahu vairyo, Ashem vohu and Yenghe hātām. The term Asha is applied as an adjective to Ahura Mazda, Zarathushtra and all divine beings. This shows that this word is above the general translations and points to a cosmic and divine understanding. The line “ashavanem ashahe ratum yazamaide” is often repeated in Zoroastrians prayers.

7. The word Ardibahesht is the later form of the Avestan words Asha Vahishta. The co-workers or allies of Asha Vahishta are Airyaman (noble mind), Saoka (illumination), and also Adar, Sarosh and Behram Yazads. At a physical level fire and fiery energies are the embodiments of Asha Vahishta.

8. Asha Vahishta, at another level also means “the best truth.” This does not refer to ordinary worldly truth, but to the “Divine Truth” of Ahura Mazda which is His Divine Plan, which all humans need to know understand and follow. By living out Asha “the truth of our life”, or in other words, “our Life’s Purpose,” we can reach Asha Vahishta “the Divine Truth” of Ahura Mazda and get Ushta that is “inner happiness.”

9. The Ashem Vohu prayer is entirely about Asha and Asha Vahishta. In it, we are told, that Asha “Truth” helps one reach Asha Vahishta “The Best Truth.” It further states that it is realised through vohu that is “a good and evolved Mind.” Finally it says that practising Asha brings about Ushta “inner happiness” in our life. riority47 \lsdl

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