Ahya Yasa Nemangha: The Gathas


December 12, 2018

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We are happy to provide a downloadble copy of the Ahya Yasa Nemangha.

This book is a study of the Gathas of Prophet Zarathushtra containing the Text with Literal Translation into English, and an accompanying Commentary.

The author Shirin Dara Contractor has provided this book as a free download for all readers, and is exclusively hosted on Parsi Khabar

Below is the foreward of the book

Shirin Dara Contractor writes…

I am a Parsee Zoroastrian by birth and have been brought up in a traditional Parsee family. I was conversant with the general customs of the religion, but all my life I wanted to know in detail about our religion, its tenets and teachings. As I spent most of my life working as a banker I was unable to pursue the same.

Then a relative informed me about the existence of classes for learning the language of our prayers, Avesta. Therefore, upon my retirement, I decided to study this language and joined the Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy  Zarthoshti and Mulla Feroze Madrassas, where such classes were conducted.

imageIn the course of the study of this language and the translation of the prayers, I came to know a lot about our religion. It was then that I realized that our Prophet Zarathushtra’s songs, which are known as the Gathas, chanted by him nearly 3500 years ago, had been handed down to us, primarily, through our oral tradition. Our religion is unique, thanks to the priests having passed down Zarathushtra’s words. We can go right back to the original source of our religion and understand the teachings of Zarathushtra himself.

In the course of my studies, I studied the translation of about 5 chapters of the Gathas of Zarathushtra. It seemed to me miraculous that I could understand the language in which our very own Prophet spoke about 3500 years ago.

After completing my studies, I decided to study the complete Gathas, (total 17 chapters) since I consider the essence of our religion is in the Gathas. Since the Gathas are in poetic form and very terse, it is very difficult, to comprehend their meaning and spirit. Over a period of time, several scholars, Indian, Western and Iranian have attempted to translate and interpret the Gathas, in their own way, and  therefore, one may find several different versions of the Gathas. I, first, collected the translation of each verse given by the following scholars  S. Insler; H. Humbach; I.J.S.Taraporewala; J.M.Chatterji; P. Ichaporia; B.T. Anklesaria; K.E. Kanga;
A.F. Khabardar  (only Ahunavaiti Gatha); Mobed F. Azargoshasb; Hormazdiar Mirza.

As I studied each verse, I would arrive at the translation which I felt gave the closest interpretation. I soon realized that the translation which appealed to me the most was that of I.J. S.Taraporewala (IJST), as he had taken into consideration the grammar and the metre of the verse. Moreover, he had done a comparative study, at every step, with Vedic words, idioms and ideas. Finally, though this is my personal opinion, he  being a  Zoroastrian, could understand the spiritual depth of the poems, which Western scholars were not able to comprehend.

I found that choosing only the translation did not make it easy to understand the inner depth of the verse. So I tried to comprehend the translation and made a sort of commentary in simple English, trying to understand what Zarathushtra must have desired to convey to his followers.

I feel that there must be several persons (like me) who do not know much about our religion, as was the case with me initially, especially about Zarathushtra’s message . With this in view I decided to publish this book, so that Zoroastrians can read about Zarathushtra’s message, which is the very foundation of our religion. I have tried to understand the thought behind each verse, usually referring to the comments of the above scholars, as also of D.J. Irani, Sorabji Naoroji Kanga, K.N.Wadia. In my explanation I have often quoted from their writings in order to comprehend the meaning better.

The more I read and re-read what I have written, the more I find that I have not yet fully grasped the Spirit of the Gathas. However, I hope this book may be useful to others as an introduction to our religion and this may urge others to study further the Gathas of Zarathushtra.

I cannot end without offering my deepest gratitude to my teachers, all of whom, Ervad Dr. Rohinton Peer, Ervad Dr. Ramiyar Karanjia and Ervad Dr. Pervez Bajan, have given their valuable time and insight whilst teaching me Avesta and helping me with this book.

I also thank my friends and colleagues who have helped me in getting this book published, by typing out the manuscrcipt and giving valuable inputs.

Download the Gathas Book: Ahya Yasa Nemangha