Key Indo-Iranian terms as roots for Proto-Slavic religion

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Key terms of Indo-Iranian religions

Executive resume: in Indo-Iranian faiths, the likely origin of the Proto-Slavic cosmic order, it was the Holy Mind (Ahura Mazda) that is to be sought and followed in the active, right (Ṛta) way, with the passive evil (Dreg) being simply the absence of wisdom. The Rodnovery movement should better return to these ancient mystic roots.


Polish Jutro and goddess Jutrzenka, Latvian aušra, Latin aurora , Sanskrit Ushas all come from Proto-Indo-European *h₂ews- ‎(dawn) or *h₂wes- ‎(to dawn) ultimately from *h₂ewsreh₂. They may be related to English Easter and east. The cognate Indic Ushas goddess is portrayed as welcoming birds and warding off evil spirits, and as a beautifully adorned young woman riding in a golden chariot on her path across the sky. 

Note: an equivalent Slavic goddess is Zorza, from a different root Proto-Baltic *žer-, *žar-, from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰer- ‎(to beam, to shine, to glitter).


The Proto-Indo-European name fore sky and heavens, hence Latin Deus, English deity.

The Proto-Slavic derivatives of *dyew are:
-> *deywós -> *divь -> Polish dziw ("wonder"), dziwożona (female demon), dziwak ("weirdo"),  
-> *deynos -> *dьnь ‎-> Polish dzień ("day")

Note: dziewa, dziwka ("girl") are not related, coming from  Proto-Slavic *děva, with another PIE root *dʰeh₁(y)- ‎(to suckle). 


The English free and German Freund ‎(friend) are cognate with Polish przyjaciel ("friend") and sprzyjać ("be friendly"), Silesian przać ("love"), Proto-Slavic prija̋ti ‎(to favor, please). All come from Proto-Indo-European *preyH- ‎(to be fond of), with other Indo-European cognates being Sanskrit goddess and name Priya ‎(dear, beloved). 

Slavic pravy ("right") and pravo ("law") and pravda ("truth") come from Proto-Slavic *pravъ and from Proto-Indo-European *prōw- ‎(right judge, master). They are cognate with Latin prōvincia ‎(territory, dominion, office, duty, province), German Frau, a feminine form of *frawjô ‎(lord) and the Germanic goddess Freya


The Slavic autonym *Slověninъ is usually considered (e.g. by Roman Jakobson) a derivation from slovo "word", originally denoting "people who speak (the same language)," i.e. people who understand each other, in contrast to Slavic němci, meaning "mumbling, murmuring people" (from Slavic *němъ – "mumbling, mute").

The word slovo ("word") and the related slava ("fame") and slukh ("hearing") originate from the Proto-Indo-European root *ḱlew- ("be spoken of, fame"), cognate with Ancient Greek κλῆς (klês - "famous"), whence the name Pericles, and Latin clueo ("be called"), and English loud.  The cognate Slavic chwała ("fame, praise") is also related to Avestan xᵛarənah ("glory"), an attribute of deities and rulers following Ṛta.



Slavic modlić (się) comes from Proto-Balto-Slavic *mold-, with the ld -> dl metathesis, from Proto-Indo-European *moldʰ- ‎(to ask, pray, speak). Compare Old Saxon meldōn ‎(to report, tell), Hittite māldi to recite, make a vow


wed : active, elemental, living waterhence English water, compare *wador, ounde,  
aban: passive body of water, with the Avestan Ab-Zohr service, from Proto-Indo-European *h₂ep, hence Slavic  вапа ("standing water"), Latin vapor, English avon, Sanskrit apas.
h₂ekʷeh₂: flowing water, hence Latin aqua, French eau, English is+land and Germanic Scandin+avia


*hésh₂r̥ : active, living (inside the body) blood, hence Latin sanguis, English iron, Proto-Slavic *swe+sor -> Polish siostra ("sister")
*krewh₂-: outside, dangerous, dead blood of the wound and dying: *krewh₂- (hence krwawy, crude, cruel).


There are at least three Proto-Indo-Europan words for holy fire: 
1. *h₁n̥gʷnis , hégni- is animate fire, compare Latin ignis, Polish ogień and Vedic Agnihotra (sacrifice to fire)
2. pehur (Polish cognates perz, perzyna) are the passive, inanimate effects of the fire.  
3. Atar in Zoroastrian is godly, pure energy (compare Latin Aether), see also Ṛta below

1. Agnis

Every fourth of the 1,028 hymns of the Rigveda are dedicated to god Agnis, with its very first mantra reading:
I aspire intensely for Agni, the adorable, the leader who carries out the yajna; who does and gets done the yajna in due season, who is the summoning priest capable of bringing the gods to the yajna performed here, and the one who establishes excellent felicities in the aspirants.
Agni fire derives from Tvaṣṭṛ (cognate Polish: tworzy+ciel), which is the first-born creator of the universe, the supreme mind which creates all things. 

The Aryaman (see below) surrenders the lower egoistic human nature, and prays to Agni to guide and lead him to That (Brahman), the establishment, origin, and refuge of all that is (Isha Upanishad 18).

2. Pehur

White ashes (pehur) resulting from ignis are sometimes used for ritual cleansing.  

3. Atar

The atar energy is related to Vedic ṛtá (see below), a force that "penetrates all ethical life, as fire penetrates all physical being"

The atar fire is also used as a test (compare the medieval ordeal by fire) and purification:  
"the man who thinks of aša, [...] who uses his tongue in order to speak correctly, [does so] with the aid of brilliant fire (yasna)" (Yasna 31.19)
In Yasht 17.20, the foe of lie Angra Mainyu is fought with (tested) with the fire of arta/asha:

When the Evil Spirit assailed the creation of Good Truth, Good Thought and Fire intervened

There are varieties of atar energy that are worshiped separately: 

  1. atar berezi-savah, "the highly beneficent atar" (similar to "oxygen"), qualified in Zend texts as "the fire that eats food but drinks no water", and the kind of fire that burns in an Atash-Behram, the highest grade of fire temple.
  2. atar vohu-fryana, "the atar of good affection" (similar to regular "fire", cognate with Slavic Bóg and Sanskrit bhaga and friend), later qualified as "the fire diffusing goodness", and "the fire that consumes both water and food".
  3. atar urvazishta, "the atar of greatest bliss" (similar to "warmth"), later qualified as "the fire of happy life", and "the fire that drinks water but eats no food".
  4. atar vazishta, "the atar most swift" (similar to "electric sparks"), later qualified as the fire in clouds, i.e. lightning, and as "the fire that neither drinks water nor eats food".
  5. atar spenishta, "the atar most holy", (similar to "Aether", cognate with Balto-Slavic šventas "holy") described in "Zend" texts as "the fire of prosperity" and as the spiritual fire burning before Ohrmuzd. (source)


The related Sanskrit Ṛta, that is the "right way", together with Avestan arta, aša “truth” derive from Proto-Indo-Iranian *artá- ‎(“truth”), from a Proto-Indo-European *hr-to- stem, from *hreǵ- ‎(“to straighten, direct”), from *her- ‎(“to join properly”) (see source). All are cognate with Aryan ("right, honest man"), Latin ars, and arma, Polish jarzmo, rad, ród, English right, order (pacem Emmanuel Laroche (1957), Hermann Güntert (1924), Émil Benveniste (1969)). Younger Avesta discusses Arta Vahišta (Polish cognate: naj+ważniejsza), which is closely associated with fire.

An Aryan person, that is Sanskrit Aryaman ("friend", from ŗtá+man ), cognate with Avestan airyaman, may be related to Vedic  atharvan (*athar+van) priest, which is cognate with Avestan  ashavan ("one possessing aša"), although this relationship is sometimes disputed. 
In Atharva Veda an Atharvan sacrifices to immortal gods, the elements (A+mesha Speta deriving from Indo-European a-me(r)sha sventa, Polish nie-śmiertelna święta, for the mer root compare cognate Slavic Mara, morzyć) what one desires, so the gods protect him in turn.  
The utmost spiritual goal however is giving freely (see free and danina below), as per the ITINATAN principle, so as to reach the real, eternal soul (Atman) directly. 
The most mystical part of AtharvaVeda are the Prashna_Upanishad precepts (see there) in the form of FAQ about the beginning and aim of life.


The opposite of being rta and asha is the world of the druj ("lie"), with Avestan drəgvant foe, coming from dʰrewgʰ (deceit), cognate with English dream (originally: "ghost") and maybe Polish drżeć ("shake"). The dreg comes from not knowing, lacking the Ṛta energy, and is thus being a passive, derivative enemy of truth. 


The Sanskrit word  yajna is related to the Avestan term yasna of Zoroastrianism.
It may be cognate to Slavic Jędza, Jęga, Yaga, which may come  from the same root *yeh₂ǵ- and thus be related to Greek hagia ("holy"). 
The function of the yasna ceremony is, very roughly described, to strengthen the orderly spiritual and material creations of Ahura Mazda against the assault of the destructive forces of Angra Mainyu. Zoroastrian Yasna santifies water rather than fire, which in turn is the essence of Vedic Yajna. The culminating act of the yasna ceremony is the Ab-Zohr (ape zaothra), the "strengthening of the waters" (see etymology of Aban above).
When the ritual fire – the divine Agni, the god of fire and the messenger of gods – was deployed in the Vedic Yajna, mantras were chanted. The hymns and songs sung and oblations offered into the fire were a form of hospitality for the Vedic gods. The offerings were carried by Agni to the gods, the gods in return were expected to grant boons and benedictions, and thus the ritual served as a means of spiritual exchange between gods and human beings.

Nasadiya Sukta, also known as the Hymn of Creation, is the 129th hymn of the 10th Mandala of the Rigveda.  It discusses origin of the world of nothingness:
Then even nothingness was not, nor existence,
There was no air then, nor the heavens beyond it
The hymn that immediately follows (10.130) deals with the origin of sacrifice, contemplates that the first sacrifice was performed by humans who by that act were elevated to rishis  (more or less: Aryaman, see above).


Part of yajna/yasna, the Sansrit dāna, cognate with Polish dać, danina, all coming from the da root, in Rigveda hymns refers to the act of giving to those in distress:
Let the rich satisfy the poor implorer, and bend his eye upon a longer pathway,
Riches come now to one, now to another, and like the wheels of cars are ever rolling,
The foolish man wins food with fruitless labour: that food – I speak the truth – shall be his ruin,
He feeds no trusty friend, no man to love him. All guilt is he who eats with no partaker. (Rigveda, X.117)


Polish żerca, żyrzec, żyrzko is related to żertwa ("sacrifice"), from Proto-Slavic *žьrti ‎(“sacrifice”) +‎ *-ьcь, from Proto-Indo-European  *gʷerH- ("praise"), *glr- („song of praise”). Cognate with Lithuanian girti ("praise"), Old Russian girtwei "praise" and Latin  gratis. It thus also invokes giving something for free, without reciprocation (see the free and danina terms above).

Note it is not related to Polish żreć ("devour"), gardło ‎(throat) and źródło ‎, all coming from Proto-Slavic *žerti (to devour, eat (of animals)) +‎ *-dlo.


Sanskrit satya "truth"comes from sat, and is thus cognate with Slavic ("to be"), that is "what really is", compare again Ṛta.


Compare these Indo-Iranian myths with Semitic Old Testament, which is based on fealty to Yahveh, a cruel Demiurg. The New Testament Christ was a (lost) man, seeking the real (hidden) God’s sparks (Atar, see above) inside himself. As per marcionism, instead of Jewish Yahveh, Indo-European (Gentile) Christians should thus follow Didache precepts and Gospel of Thomas etc. instead. 

Compare also Christ's story with Zoroaster:
Angra Mainyu's (= cognate "angry mind") plans to dry up the Earth, and in Yasht 8.44 Angra Mainyu battles but cannot defeat Tishtrya and so prevent the rains. In Vendidad 19, Angra Mainyu urges Zoroaster (=proto-Christ) to turn from the good religion (Ṛta) by promising him sovereignty of the world (compare Temptation of Christ). On being rejected, Angra Mainyu assails Zoroaster with legions of demons, but Zoroaster deflects them all. In Yasht 19.96, a verse that reflects a Gathic injunction, Angra Mainyu will be vanquished and Ahura Mazda (=right Ṛta mind) will ultimately prevail.  In Yasht 19.46ff, Angra Mainyu and Spenta Mainyu ("holy mind", with Polish cognate: święty mózg) battle for possession of khvaraenah (Polish cognate: chwała) that is "divine glory" or "fortune" (Wikipedia)

Copyright Richard (blog's author) and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (Wikipedia) as appropriate

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