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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Amesha Spentas

The hierarchy of creative intelligences in Zoroastrianism, sometimes written as Amesha Spendas and known as Amshapands (or Amshapends) in Persian. They are six in number: Vohu Manah or Vohūman (“Good Mind” or “Pure Thought”), Asha Vahishta (“Best Righteousness” or “Highest Order”), Khshathra Vairya or Kshatraver(“Sovereign Power” or “Heavenly Kingdom”), Spenta Ārmaiti or Spendarmad or just Armaiti (“Bountiful Devotion” or “High-mindedness”), Haurvatat (“Wholeness” or “Health”), and Ameretat (“Deathlessness” or “Immortality”). To these six are sometimes added either Ahura Mazda or Sraosha to make seven. The first three of the six are grammatical neuter nouns, but are treated as masculine and are seated on the right hand of Ahura Mazda; the second three are grammatical feminine nouns and are seated on Ahura Mazda’s left hand. From a theosophical point of view, Vohu Manah could be equivalent to the buddhic plane, since vohu manah also means “paradise.”

Asha Vahishta is the guardian of the sacred fire; if one equates “fire” with fohat, this Amesha Spenta could imply ordered creativity or higher manas. Khshathra Vairya, then, would be the lower manas, since he is invoked to help mankind along the path of righteousness and is also the spirit presiding over mental and earthly wealth. Since one goes to the realm of Spenta Armaiti after death, she would be what is often called in theosophical literature the “astral” plane; in fact Annie Besant, in a pamphlet on Zoroastrianism, translates her name “Love.” Since Haurvatāt is associated with health, she would relate to prana or the “etheric” portion of the physical plane in theosophical literature. Ameretat, then, would be the dense physical. That may seem at first glance improbable, since we know our physical bodies are not immortal or deathless, but as Rustom Masani (Zoroastrianism: the religion of the good life, 1968, p. 47) points out, “immortality” here does not mean living bodily forever, but rather “complete happiness of body and soul, begun in this life and continued in an exalted degree in the next.” Then if one includes Ahura Mazda (perhaps representing what is termed atman in theosophical literature) among the Amesha Spentas, one gets a septenary system, a common theosophical idea.

These equivalences are, of course, speculative. But Helena P. BLAVATSKY, in her Theosophical Glossary (p. 19) does identify the Amesha Spentas as identical with the seven Prajapatis of Hinduism and the Sephiroth of the Kabbalah, as well as the Gnostic Cosmocrators. She also calls them the prototypes of the “seven angels of the presence” in Roman Catholicism. They are probably also equivalent to the Elohim of Judaism and the Dhyani Buddhas of theosophy. So there is some indirect support in theosophical literature for that speculation.

R.W.B.

 

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