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(Information provided by Janine Donnellan)
The ancient Aryan Religion has been known in Iran as the Mazdayasna faith, i.e., the faith which enjoins the worship of Mazda, the Great Lord of all. The various 'Powers of Nature', too, were taken as aspects of the One Great Being and were worshipped as such. The Great Lord was, above all the Lord of Righteousness-Ritasya Patih or Ashahe Ratush-and in His worship the ethical aspect of His Power and Greatness was duly emphasised. In both the branches of the Aryan peoples we find the Asha (Rita)-aspect of God brought into great prominence even in the earliest hymns. Both Ahura and Asura Varuna embody the highest ideal of Truth and Righteousness. The other Beings worshipped were regarded as so many varied aspects of the activities of the Godhead. But in course of time we find these subordinate Aryan Deities becoming more and more of importance and even usurping the position once occupied by the Highest alone. Of course this applies only to what may be styled 'popular religion', for the Sages always recognised the fundamental unity, as the Vedic Sage has sung:
The Truth is one, the Wise in many ways do call It.
Vohu Mano is the "Good Mind, Intelligence and Good Thinking", It stands for the discerning wisdom and thorough thinking required for leading a useful life. It is the generator of Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds. He is given the freedom to choose between good and evil, and the responsibility to reap the consequences. He is the Intellectual Principle and was the first Amesha Spenta created by Ahura Mazda, at whose right hand he sits.
It is Vohu-Mano who leads mankind up to Asha. A man who chooses not to tread the Path of Asha gets no help from Good Mind. 'The gifts of Good Mind are for those who work for the Lord'. In all this we see the pure ethical conception of this Holy Immortal. He, in short, represents the highest mental purity that a human being is capable of achieving. He is the Love 'aspect' of the Supreme.
Good Mind naturally implies loving kindness and goodwill towards all beings. This goodwill and love embraces not merely mankind but also our younger brethren of the animal creation. Kindness to animals, especially to those who are of use to man and help him forward in his progress and civilisation, is a cardinal virtue enjoined in Zoroastrianism. All animal creation is under the special protection of Good Mind, and cruelty to animals is a sin against Him. Quite logically therefore many Parsis have held that early Zoroastrianism must have abstained from meat-eating. It is certain that 'blood-sacrifices' and the offering of any animal products to the Deities, except perhaps milk, is inconsistent with calling this Archangel 'the Guardian of the animal creation'. Offerings of animal flesh were, indeed, made in later times, and are even now made, in many ceremonies, but the present day Parsis, who have devoted any serious thought to this matter, have begun to see the inconsistency of such procedure, and slowly but surely flesh offerings are disappearing from modern Zoroastrian ceremonies.
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