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- For the fictional character in the Marvel Universe series, see Ahura (comics); for the river, see Akhurian River.
Avestan ahura derives from Indo-Iranian *asura, also attested in an Indian context as RigVedic asura. As suggested by the similarity to the Old Norse æsir, Indo-Iranian *asura may have an even earlier Indo-European root.
It is commonly supposed that Indo-Iranian *Asura was the proper name of a specific divinity, with whom other divinities were then identified.
For not altogether obvious reasons, the Oxford English Dictionary lists asura, rather than ahura, as a Zoroastrian term.
In the Gathas
In the Gathas, the oldest hymns of Zoroastrianism and thought to have been composed by Zoroaster himself, the poet exhorts his followers to pay reverence to only the ahuras, and to rebuff the daevas and others who act "at Lie's command". This should not however be construed to reflect a view of a primordial opposition: Although the daevas would in later Zoroastrian tradition appear as malign creatures, in the Gathas the daevas are (collectively) gods that are to be rejected. (see daeva for details)
In the Gathas, the poet does not specify which of the divinities aside from Ahura Mazda he considers to be ahuras.
The Gathas of Zarathushtra are very clear that there is only ONE divinity, namely AHURA MAZDA; the immortal (Ahu), radiant (Raa)divinity ; that Great (Maz) entity who rules the universe and mankind strictly through Wisdom (Daa). Zarathushtra identifies himself as a "Manthran"; one who composes Mantras as opposed to the normal priest who is a Mantra reciter. Derived from the root word 'man' (pronounced as in bun), that unique capability 'to think, to reason' & “thraa” meaning crucible/concentration of; Mantra literally means 'instrument of thought'; that which, when intoned stimulates the mind to reason. Mantras are hymns, which through their intrinsic quality of stimulation of the intellect & reasoning faculties, benefit those who chant them with devotion & understanding. They form the original constituents of the Gathas composed in a language (Avesta), the sister language of Vedic Sanskrit.
According to NASA researcher, Rick Briggs, “Among the accomplishments of the grammarians can be reckoned a method for paraphrasing Vedic Sanskrit in a manner that is identical not only in essence but in form with current work in Artificial Intelligence.”
The word (Mantra ) so heard radiated powerful intellect & intuitive stimulation when properly recited by the devotee, through knowledge, understanding & faith. Little wonder therefore that our creator Ahura Mazda is addressed as Khwatr (later Khurshid), the stimulator of intellect. While outwardly based on the language of the masses (Avesta/Vedic Sanskrit), these “Manthric” compositions used single sound syllables based on root words placed in specific meter (sequence) . Thus we have the Ahuna-vaiti Gatha composed on the basis of 7 + 9 sound syllables. Mantras have a rhythmical meter, invoking the infinite, a sacred hymn, radiating an aura of light (color) & sound, uniquely aligned with the forces of nature, inducing & stimulating the mind to positive actions.
The term Day-va in the Vedas meant a mortal or mortals who had conquered [were victorious (van)] in gaining Light (of Knowledge). As Zarathushtra believed that Devas were deceiving people; he changed the structure of this term from Day-va to Dev-a. Here Dev means a gambler, a cheat who was good at deception. In a similar twist the Vedics changed the structure of Ahu-ra or Asu-ra (the divine immortal) to A-sura meaning the impure. Either way neither the Gathas nor the later Avesta suggest that Ahura Mazda was anything other than a single entity. It is totally incorrect & mischievous to equate a person Zorastrians consider their saviour and composer of their religious philosophy as a mere poet
In the Younger Avesta
In the Fravaraneh, the Zoroastrian credo summarized in Yasna 12.1, the adherent declares: "I profess myself a Mazda worshiper, a follower of the teachings of Zoroaster, rejecting the daevas, ... " This effectively defines ahura by defining what ahura is not.
In the Younger Avesta, three divinities of the Zoroastrian pantheon are repeatedly identified as ahuric. These three are Ahura Mazda, Mithra and Apam Napat, and hence known as the "Ahuric triad". Other divinities with whom the term "Ahuric" is associated include the six Amesha Spentas and (notable among the lesser yazatas) Aredvi Sura of The Waters and Ashi of Reward and Recompense.
- asura, the Vedic equivalent of ahura
- Asura (Buddhism)
- Zoroastrian divinities: Yazatas and Amesha Spentas
- Thieme, Paul (1960), "The 'Aryan' Gods of the Mitanni Treaties", Journal of the American Oriental Society 80 (4): 308; Gershevitch, Ilya (1964), "Zoroaster's Own Contribution", Journal of Near Eastern Studies 23 (1): 23; Kuiper, Bernardus Franciscus Jacobus (1983), "Ahura", Encyclopaedia Iranica, 1, New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul: 682
- Boyce, Mary (1975), History of Zoroastrianism, Vol. I, Leiden: Brill
- Boyce, Mary (1983), "Ahura Mazda", Encyclopaedia Iranica 1, New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul: 684–687
- Gershevitch, Ilya (1964), "Zoroaster's Own Contribution", Journal of Near Eastern Studies 23 (1): 12–38, doi:10.1086/371754
- Kuiper, Bernardus Franciscus Jacobus (1983), "Ahura", Encyclopaedia Iranica 1, New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul: 682–683
- Thieme, Paul (1960), "The 'Aryan' Gods of the Mitanni Treaties", Journal of the American Oriental Society 80 (4): 301–317, doi:10.2307/595878