Zoroastrian / Mazdayasnian Angelology & Theology: the Ameshaçpentas

The first seven creations, according to Mazdayasnian doctrine, were the Ameshaçpentas, a concept unique to Mazdaism.[1] The word Ameshaçpenta has been translated  as “bounteous immortal,” and they have also been called ‘Essences of God’, ‘Divine Sparks’, ‘Divine Attributes’, and Archangels. The name of each Ameshaçpenta simultaneously designates an Attribute of Ahura Mazda, an Archangelic “Crystalization” of an Attribute, and a quality of ordinary created beings like humans which is to be enjoyed and cultivated. They are ultimately genderless, but the Mazdayasnians nevertheless divide them into male and female. This is done according to their linguistic gender. Vohu Mana, Asha, and Kshathra are linguistically neuter (and therefore male), while Armaiti, Haurvetat, and Ameretat are linguistically feminine (and therefore female). The name Ahura Mazda is both masculine and feminine.

Some of the Ameshaçpentas are described as Ahura Mazda’s offspring. Most commonly, Vohu Mana is said to be His son and Armaiti is said to be His daughter.

Vohu Mana, being the first creation, can be identified with the Muhammadan Light or Insan al-Kamil of Islam. Vohu Mana is simultaneously a human faculty, a goal which is to be reached by means of this faculty, and the space within which the faculty exists. Vohu means good, and Mana has been translated variously as thought, mind, mindedness, thinking, intention, and disposition. One translator has Vohu Mana as Conscience, and others have equated it with Reason. It is the intellect, the eye of the heart, and the metaphysical intuition.

Asha is utterly untranslatable, but people often translate it anyways, usually as Truth, Right, or Righteousness. Other translations include Law, Reality, Good Order, Beauty, Purity, Holiness, Freedom, Superb Brilliance and Excellence, and Artistic Ingenuity. Asha is, as the Ashem Vohu (the second most important Mazdayasian prayer) says, the greatest good, and a supreme source of happiness for all who seek it. Asha is that which is done and realized through Vohu Mana. Asha is symbolized by Fire, and even equated with it.

Kshathra is comparatively easy to translate. It means Dominion, Power, Control, and Sovereignty. Sometimes the word is used to refer to the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’, sometimes to speak of benevolent political rulership, and sometimes to speak of a person’s benevolent sovereignty over their own self. It is a means of attaining Vohu Mana, Asha, and Armaiti, as well as a result of their attainment.

Armaiti is also utterly untranslatable, yet people often translate it anyways. These translations include Faith, Piety, Devotion, Love, Service, Peace, Serenity, Tranquility, Divine Wisdom, and Contemplation.

Haurvetat means perfection, integrity, completeness and wholeness. It is almost always paired with Ameretat, which means immortality. These are fully attained in the hereafter.

The order I have presented the Ameshaçpentas in is the order they are said to have been created in. Each of the Ameshaçpentas symbolically corresponds to an element or class of living beings, among other things. The correspondence normally given is:

Vohu Mana corresponds to Animal Life

Asha corresponds to Ether and Fire

Kshasthra corresponds to Minerals and Metal

Armaiti corresponds to Earth

Haurvetat corresponds to Water, and the Ambrosia of Paradise

Ameretat corresponds to Plants, and the Nectar of Paradise

Ahura Mazda corresponds to Man

It is worth noting that the order of the production of the elements is different from the order of the spiritual creation of the Ameshaçpentas. The elements and the associated Ameshaçpentas are celebrated during the six Gahambar festivals throughout the year, which are timed according to the seasons and represent the development of matter and its final return to the Spirit. I have found conflicting information on what the correct order is. One version is: First is Ether (Asha), then Water (Haurvetat), then Earth (Armaiti), then Plant (Ameretat), then Animal (Vohu Mana), then Man (Ahura Mazda). Perhaps the last one, Minerals and in particular Metal (Kshathra) is reserved for Judgment Day, when the Kingdom (Kshathra) of God will be brought to its final perfection. Another order is given by the great Protestant Iranologist, Henry Corbin : “six solemn great festivals (Gahambar) correspond to the six great periods or creations distributed among the six supreme archangels (Ohrmazd is added to them as a seventh, just as the year encloses the totality of these festivals and with them forms a heptad).” Corbin provides various sources in a footnote, whereas my information was derived from various websites. The same elements and Ameshaçpentas are also celebrated on the six Jashan days every month, which are done in the order of the spiritual creation of the Ameshaçpentas.

The term Ameshaçpenta is sometimes used to refer to only the six Ameshaçpentas other than Ahura Mazda, sometimes to refer to all seven, and sometimes it is used as a broad term for all of the Archangels.

[1]   The concept of the Ameshaçpentas seems, however, comparable in some respects to the Seven Buddhas of Buddhism, or the Trinity of Christianity, or the Names of Allah in Islam, or the Divine Powers (Sefirot) in Kaballah.

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