A. Concept of GOD
God is the SUPREME DIVINE POWER, the Uncreated force who created the Universe, who is present everywhere (omni-present) and who looks after everything.
Every religion believes in and understands this Supreme Power – God – in its own way, and gives it different names. Though the power behind all these names is the same, the understanding differs. Hindus call Him ISHWAR (Lord of Will) or BHAGWAN (Fortune/prosperity giver), Muslims call Him ALLAH (the sole God), Jews call Him JEHOVAH (Lord / God ), Sikhs call Him WĀHE GURU (Wonderful teacher), Christians call Him GOD (fit to be invoked). Zoroastrians refer to their God as Ahura Mazda. Ahura “Lord” and Mazda “Wisdom.” Hence Ahura Mazda means “The omniscient Lord.”
Different religions relate to their God in different ways, some religions may consider that destruction is also a power of God, some consider that being strict, chastising and punishing is part of God’s work, some religions may consider God as all good. Moreover God may be perceived as personal or impersonal, anthropomorphic or non-anthropomorphic, immanent or transcendent.
To have belief and faith in Ahura Mazda we have to know Him. The best way to know Him through His qualities and attributes, which are referred to as His names. From prayers like the 101 names of God, Doa Nām Setāyashne and Hormazd Yasht we get to know His names and attributes.
C. Knowing Ahura Mazda (Nature and Powers of Ahura Mazda)
King Gayomard, the first king of the Peshdadian dynasty was the first man to communicate with Ahura Mazda. He taught people to believe in one God – Mazda. Mazdayasni belief system. The title Ahura “lord” was later added. The people who accepted Gayomard’s teaching came to be known as Mazdayasni, “those who venerate Mazda,” which later became the Mazdayasni belief system. The title Ahura “lord” was later added. The name Ahura Mazda was later condensed to Hormazd or Ohrmazd.
Ahura Mazda is also referred to as Dādār/Dādārji (creator), Yazad (worthy of veneration), Yazdān (foremost in veneration), Khudā/ Khudāiji (self-created), and Parvardegār (nourisher).
Ahura Mazda is invisible. He is without shape and form. Whenever He is to be visualized, we think of a very bright, white and powerful light. He is full of radiance (Khorehmand) and His abode is Endless Light (Aneran). All bright and radiant things like the fire and the sun remind us of Ahura Mazda.
He is without a beginning or an end. He was, He is and He will be forever. For this reason, alone it is impossible to fully understand him, as our limited mind can only comprehend things which are limited, which have a beginning and an end.
Ahura Mazda is all powerful. He neither has an equal nor an opponent. There is a grave misconception that the Zoroastrian religion believes in Dualism – in other words, it believes in two Gods. This idea came about as it was believed that Ahriman was equal to Ahura Mazda. This supposition is totally erroneous. Ahura Mazda is the sole creator and the supreme being, without an equal or opposite. He created Spenta Mainyu as the creative spirit, and as per the low of polarity Angra Mainyu (Ahriman) came into existence as an opponent of Sepnta Mainyu.
Inspite of being All powerful, he is always good, kind, helpful, merciful and forgiving. That is why he is referred to as bakhshāyandeh, bakhshāyazgar and meherbān, “giver of all good things, forgiver of mistakes and compassionate.” No evil ever comes from Him.
We need to have total BELIEF and FAITH in Ahura Mazda. We should never doubt His existence just because we cannot see Him. One of the ways in which we can ‘know’ and ‘see’ Ahura Mazda is through His creations and the order inherent in them – like the rising and setting of the sun, the growing of a seed into a plant, the ebb and tide in the ocean and the growing of a baby into a man.
Ahura Mazda is the creator of every good thing. He has created the whole world with wonderful creations so that man can live a happy life while making use of these creations. He created man superior to other creations, gave him intelligence and sovereignty. Along with that, He also gave him the responsibility to look after other creations like air, water, earth, minerals, plants and animals which are for man’s use. Man should use them with wisdom and temperance, and never misuse, overuse or abuse them. Ahura Mazda has created this world with a purpose.
When Ahura Mazda created this Universe, He first created the spiritual world. In it He created the Ameshaspands (Amesha Spenta), Yazads (Yazatas) and Farohars (Fravashis). When the material world was created, Ahura Mazda appointed these spiritual BEINGS as helpers for the creations of the material world. His six main helpers are the Amshaspands who can be compared to Arch-angels. They were assigned the task of looking after the creations. The Ameshaspands also embody important aspects of Ahura Mazda.
BAHMAN AMESHASPAND looks after beneficent animals. He represents the first thought of Ahura Mazda which still permeates the Universe. He reminds man to keep his mind good, pure and calm so that peaceful and harmonious thoughts may come, leading him to divine wisdom.
ARDIBAHESHT AMESHASPAND looks after the fires and fire energies of the world. He was assigned the task to establish order in the Universe. He inspires man to be truthful and righteous and understand his purpose in life, especially with respect to the divine Plan of Creation.
SHAHREVAR AMESHASPAND looks after metals and minerals. He encourages man to be firm for the cause of goodness, a necessary quality for kings and all benevolent leaders.
SPANDARMAD AMESHASPAND looks after the earth and teaches man to think right and beneficial thoughts, so that he may become loving, devoted and tolerant.
KHORDAD AMESHASPAND looks after water. He also looks after seasons and time. He inspires man to strive for perfection leading to spiritual liberation.
AMARDAD AMESHASPAND looks after trees, plants and vegetation. He reminds man of the immortality of soul and the need to be mindful of it.
Human beings are looked after by Ahura Mazda Himself. In this role, He is considered as an Ameshaspand. Thus, with Ahura Mazda, there are Seven Ameshaspands, who are assisted by Yazads and Farohars.
Ahura Mazda is a friend, father, brother and guide to everybody and hence we need not fear Him. We have to first ask for His friendship and take the first step towards Him by being good and following the religion. If we take the first step, He will take several steps towards us and be our lifelong friend. Then we have to take care to see that we do not do anything that hurts Ahura Mazda.
Ahura Mazda remains our friend and wants to help us, irrespective of our conduct. He never punishes us. However, by our wrong choices and bad actions we close ourselves to His help. Whenever we are unhappy, it is not Ahura Mazda punishing us. We are unhappy because of our actions. The law “Evil unto evil, good blessings unto the good” (law of action and reaction) works automatically in the world. Whoever sincerely and faithfully works for Ahura Mazda, gets His help and support.
We should have the firm belief that Ahura Mazda is with us at all times. In order to put this belief into practice we should constantly keep Him in mind. Whenever we commence anything, be it work, leisure or journey, we should remember Him. Just as we begin our prayers with the words Khshnaothra ahurahe mazdāo “for the pleasure of Ahura Mazda” or Ba nāme yazad “in the name of Yazad (Ahura Mazda), we should begin all our work with His name.”
In the past, when Zarthushtis used to meet, they would greet each other with the words Yazdān Panāh Bād! “May God protect you.” The reply to this greeting was Der Zi O Shād Bād! “May you be blessed with a long and happy life.” This salutation keeps us mindful of Ahura Mazda at all times.
G. Making Ahura Mazda happy and not being upset with Him
All creations have been created by Ahura Mazda. If we harm any creation, including human beings, He becomes unhappy. However, if a man becomes evil and hurts others, we have the duty to stop him and try to reform him.
When we are happy we should remember Ahura Mazda and thank Him for His blessings. When we are in troubles and difficulties, we should have faith in Ahura Mazda’s justice and seek His help. We should have patience and always remember that “This too shall pass.” With our own efforts and Ahura Mazda’s help, it is possible to overcome all difficulties.
Whenever we feel that justice has not been done or that we are wronged, we have to remember that the justice of Ahura Mazda may take a long time, but it will definitely be done. It is necessary to be patient. God works in His own mysterious ways, which we may not immediately understand. “The Mills of God grind slow, but they grind exceedingly well.”
After our best efforts if our desires are not fulfilled, we have to understand that they may not be good for us, and so God in His wisdom is not fulfilling them. At such times we have to firmly believe in the adage “God’s Will be done.”
The best ways to communicate to Ahura is to pray to Him through our Mānthravāni prayers. Whenever we perform the Kasti, our innermost thoughts can reach Ahura Mazda.
However, since Ahura Mazda is also our friend, brother and guide, we can communicate with Him whenever we feel an urge to talk to somebody, but do not know where to go. There are three essential things we need to communicate to Ahura Mazda. Our gratitude, apologies and needs.
While communicating with Ahura Mazda, we must first THANK Him for giving us a wonderful life, parents, relatives and friends.
Next, we should seek FORGIVENESS from Ahura Mazda for any mistakes done by us knowingly or unknowingly. Lastly, we can ask for HELP from Ahura Mazda for anything that we need. However, the things that we ask for should not create difficulty, trouble or harm to other people. After asking our heart’s desire, we should leave it to Ahura Mazda’s wisdom, whether to grant it or not.