Yajur Veda in Zoroastrian Zend Avesta-1 (Post No.10,631)

WRITTEN BY LONDON SWAMINATHAN

Post No. 10,631

Date uploaded in London – –    5 FEBRUARY   2022         

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Martin Haug  (1827- 1876) German Indologist, has done some good research in the Zoroastrian and Hindu scriptures . He was well versed in many languages including Hebrew, Latin, Sanskrit and Avesta. He translated the Aitareya Brahmana of Rigveda.

He says Zend Avesta, the Parsi scripture is like the Hindu Vedas. But becaus of some schism both were developed in a different way. He also pointed out the word Asura had positive connotation in the early part of the Rrigveda . He gives an interesting story  ofrom the Aitareya Brahmana.

I am giving below his argument and added My Comments at the end.

“Let us look at the close connection between the Vedas and Zend Avesta. The most striking feature is the use of the names Asura and Deva. Asura is Ahura in the Zend.

Deva stands for the divine beings in the Hindu scriptures. In the Zend Avesta and modern Persian literature Deva is the general name of an evil spirit, a fiend or demon.

In the confession of faith, as recited by the Parsis to this day , the Zoroastrian religion is said to be Vi- daevo,,”against the Deavas”.

(See Yasna 12-1) and one of their most sacred books is called

“Vi daevo datta” , now corrupted into Vendiddad,i.e.”what is, given against , or for the removal of the Devas”.

The Devas are the originators of all that is bad, of every impurity, of death; and are constantly thinking of causing the destruction of the fields and trees, and of the houses of the religious men. The spots most liked by them, according to Zoroastrian notions, are those most filled with dirt and filth, especially cemeteries, which places are, therefore, objects of the greatest abomination to a true Hormazd worshipper.

Asura is, in the form of Ahura, the first part of Ahura Mazda (Hormazd), the name of God among the Parsis ; and the Zoroastrian religion is distinctly called the Ahura religion( see Yasna 12-9) in strict opposition to the Deva religion.

But among the Hindus, Asura has assumed a bad meaning, and is applied into the bitterest enemies of their Devas, with whom the Asuras constantly waging war, and not always without success, as even Hindu legends acknowledge. This is the case throughout the whole Puranic literature, and as far back as the later parts of the Vedas; but in the older parts of the Rigveda Samhita we find the word Asura used in as good and elevated a sense as in the Zend Avesta.

GOOD ASURAS IN RIG VEDA

The chief gods such as

Indra RV 1-54-3

Varuna  RV1-24-14

Agni RV 4-2-5; 7-2-3

Savitri RV 1-35-7

RudraRV 5-42-11

Aae honoured with the epithet Asura, which means living, spiritual, signifying the divine, in its opposition to human nature. In the plural, it is even used, now and then, as a name for all the gods as for instance in RV 1-108-6 :

“This Soma is to be distributed as an offering among the Asuras” by which word the Rishi means his own gods whom he was worshiping.

We often find one Asura particularly mentioned , who is called Asura of heaven RV 5-41-3; heaven itself is called by this name, RV 1-131-1

“Our father who pours down the waters 5-83-6;

Agni, the fire god, is born out of his womb 3-29-14; his sons support heaven”.

In a bad sense we find Asura only twice in the older parts of the Rigveda

2-32-4; 7-99-5 in which passages the defeat of the sons or men of the Asura is ordered, or spoken of; but we find the word more frequently in this sense in the last book of the Rigveda ( which is only an appendix to the whole, made in later times) , and in the Atharva Veda , where the Rishis are said to have frustrated the tricks of the Asuras 4-23-5 and to have the power of putting them down 6-7-2

In the Brahmanas, or sacrificial books, belonging to the each of the Vedas, we find the Devas always fighting with the Asuras. The latter are the constant enemies of Hindu gods, and always make attacks upon the sacrifices offered by devotees. To defeat them all the craft and cunning of the Devas were required; and the means of checking them was generally found in a new sacrificial rite. Thus the Asuras have given rise to a good many sacrificial customs, and in this way largely contributed towards making the Brahmanical sacrifices so complicated and full of particular rites and ceremonies.

To give the reader an idea of the way in which the battles between the Devas and the Asuras are said to have been fought, a translation of a passage, taken from the Aitareya Brahmana 1-23 of the Rigveda is here given:-

To be continued………….

Tags- Yajur Veda, Zend Avesta, Ahura, Deva-Asura clash

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