Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen":
GATHA OF THE CHOICE

ZARATHUSTRA REVEALS THE EXEMPLARY CHOICE WHICH TOOK PLACE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD


('Gatha:Yasna' 30)


Yasna 30 is one of the clearest and most frequently quoted Gathas. Zarathustra manifests his powerful originality by reducing the history of the origins to that of a choice. . . . Better still, in Zoroaster's poem this tale of the original choice is balanced by an announcement of the final things, choice and rewards being closely interdependent. The whole human drama, reduced to its essential structure, is contained in a few stanzas.

1. Now will I speak to those who will hear
Of the things which the initiate should remember,
The praises and prayer of the Good Mind to the Lord
And the joy which he shall see in the light who has remembered
them -well.

2. Hear with your cars that which is the sovereign good;
With a clear mind look upon the two sides
Between which each man must choose for himself,
Watchful beforehand that the great test may be accomplished in
our favour,

3. Now at the beginning the twin spirits have declared their nature, The better and the evil,
In thought and word and deed. And between the two
The wise ones choose well, not so the foolish.

4. And when these two spirits came together,
In the beginning they established life and non-life,
And that at the last the worst experience should be for the wicked,
But for the righteous one the Best Mind.

5- Of these two spirits, the evil one chose to do the worst things, But the most Holy Spirit, clothed in the most steadfast heavens, joined himself unto Righteousness;
And thus did all those who delight to please the Wise Lord by
honest deeds.

6. Between the two, the false gods also did "not choose rightly,
For while they pondered they were beset by error,
So that they chose the Worst Mind.
Then did they hasten to join themselves unto Fury,
That they might by it deprave the existence of man.

7. And to him came Devotion, together with Doininion, Good Mind
and Righteousness;
She gave perpetuity of body and the breath of life,
That he may be thine apart from them,
As the first by the retributions through the metal.

8. And when their punishment shall come to these sinners,
Then, 0 Wise One, shall thy Dominion, with the Good Mind, Be granted to those who have delivered Evil into the hands of
Righteousness, 0 Lord!

9. And may we be those that re-new this existence!
-0 Wise One, and you other Lords, and Righteousness, bring
your alliance,
That thoughts may gather where wisdom is faint.

10. Then shall Evil cease to flourish,
While those who have acquired good fame
Shall reap the promised reward
In the blessed dwelling of the Good Mind, of the Wise One, and of
Righteousness.

11. If you, 0 men, understand the commandments which the Wise
One has given,
Well-being and suffering-long torment for the wicked and
salvation for the righteous-
All shall hereafter be for the best.




Translation and introductory note by Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin, in his The Hymns of Zarathustra (London 1952), pp. 102-7

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