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Ashem Vohu

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By Phiroz Mehta

Of all the animal species in the world, only homo sapiens understands the meaning of Virtue and can live the virtuous life as taught by the Founders of the Religions.

Today, the Zarathushtrian fold is very small, consisting of only about 130,000 souls scattered throughout the world. Nevertheless, Zarathushtrianism, a monotheism firmly based on Virtue, flourishes as one of the major religions.

The short prayer of only twelve words, probably the first to be taught to each Zarathushtrian child, is the Ashem Vohu, which means “Virtue is good”, emphasised superlatively by the next two words, Vahishtem asti, meaning it is the best (holy). The next two words, ushta asti, affirm “it is (perfect) happiness.” The Zarathushtrian conception of Virtue (its essential ethic) is summed up in a very short and simple triad which forms: humata, good thoughts, hukhta, good words, and huvarshta, good actions. It rests with each person to decide what is good for him or her and for society.

The remaining six words, ushta ahmai hyat ashai vahishtai ashem, mean “supreme happiness comes to him who is virtuous for the sake of Virtue (the best or holy).”

The living human body is a psycho-physical organism. “Human” means happily creative. Virtue is the strength and health of the psyche. The well-being of one’s physique depends upon food and drink, air and sunshine, sleep and exercise and all physical activities. When all these factors are in balance, in harmony, oneself as a psycho-physical organism is an integrated person, in the right condition for being human, i.e. happily creative. If parents, educators and companions are wise, perceptive, and capable, homo sapiens will be a true description of the human race.

Goodness and Happiness are twins. Nature brings the body to maturity in a score of years or so. The maturing of the psyche is each one’s personal responsibility. Only a minority fulfil this responsibility. The majority ignorantly pursue sensational excitement and remain the slaves of their pleasure-drive. Hence the problems and sorrows besetting mankind.

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