Avesta -- Zoroastrian Archives Contents Prev history4 Next Glossary

M.N. Dhalla: History of Zoroastrianism (1938), part 4.




The divine double in man. The belief in a double of the living and dead, animate or inanimate things, which influences the objects or persons has prevailed among different peoples from primitive times.

The Egyptians believed in man's higher double whom they named Ka. The Ka, in the early period of history, was supposed to belong only to the kings, but later all human beings were believed to possess it. At the individual's death he went to his Ka who interceded for him with God, provided him with food and looked after his welfare and protection.

In the Vedas the disembodied spirits are called the pitrs or the Fathers. Two hymns are dedicated to them. They live in the third heaven. Their abode, which is situated in the south, is called pitrloka. They have extended to heaven and earth with Soma,1 and inhabit earth, air, and heaven. They feast with the gods,2 and ride on the celestial car with Indra and other gods.3 They adorn the sky with stars and give light and darkness.4 They are divided into lower, higher, and middle grades and are classed as earlier or later. They are invoked collectively,5 or individually.6 They are invited to come with Yama, Vivasvat, and Agni to partake of the offerings. They come in thousands to the sacrificial repast.7 They are fond of Soma.8 They are asked to give riches, offering, and long life to their sons.9 They are implored to help, intercede, and protect their worshippers and not to harm their descendants.10 1 RV. 8.48.13.

2 RV. 7.76.4.

3 RV.10.15.10.

4 RV. 10.68.11.

5 RV. 7.33.1; 10.15.8.

6 RV. 1.36.18.

7 RV. 10.15.10, 11.

8 RV. 10.15.1, 5, 6.

9 RV. 10.15.7-11; AthV. 18.3.14; 4.62

10 RV. 10.15.2, 5, 6.
[233] Plato taught that the sensual objects that constitute the world were but the imperfect copies or reproductions of the quasi-personified Ideas that constituted true reality. These transcendental Ideas the contents of the creative mind of God. This supreme Deity creates the World-Soul, whom we have equated with Spenta Mainyu in previous pages. The Avestan text says the Fravashis stood ready for help, when Spenta Mainyu created the world with Angra Mainyu.11 It is expressly said in a passage that the souls of the dead that have become the Fravashis of the righteous owe their origin to Spenta Mainyu and to Best Mind.12 Plato likewise says that the World-Soul who bears the images of the Ideas, fashioned the World-Body or the creatures after the pattern of the Ideas. 11 Yt13.28, 29, 76.

12 Yt22.39, 40; see also Kanga, A New Interpretation of the Spenta Mainyu of the Gathas .... the Progenitor of Fravashis in the Avesta .... Bombay, 1933.
Aristotle postulated a second independent principle in addition to the soul which moved the body and carried on rational activity. This is the spirit which constitutes the real essence of the individual. Man is thus divided into body, soul, and spirit.
Philo distinguishes between the soul and the pneuma. This pneuma which the Platonists, Aristotelians, and Stoics of his time call Nous, is the image of the deity and constitutes the true nature of man. The transcendent God reveals himself through the divine Ideas which are his thoughts and will, in the form of creative forces. As the Fravashis are not classed among the Yazatas, so these divine Ideas, says Philo, are not angels, but are personified abstract ideas. They manifest the energy of God. The Fravashis, as we shall see anon, help Ahura Mazda in the maintenance of the world, so these Ideas administer the work of God. They impart reality to the creation. Order in the creation is preserved through them. The Fravashis are not all of equal grade,13 so these Ideas also are not of equal rank. The Fravashi represents Ahura Mazda in man, so does the rational part of the soul stand for the type of the Logos. Plutarch speaks of two principles in man, the spirit and the soul. The spirit, he says, is immortal, whereas the soul is not. In the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom, an emanation of God, selects from the divine Ideas those that are fit for actualization and creates them. 13 Yt13.17.
[234] The dead, according to the early Roman belief, were gathered to a group of spirits called Di Manes. The idea of the Genius or the divine double accompanying every individual during his lifetime arose in the period of the Republic. The Genius lived with the individual as long as he lived. At death he lost his individuality and was gathered to the Di Manes. Under Greek influence the idea of individuality developed. The idea arose that the Genius lived after death. Di Manes became individualized protecting spirits instead of an individualized group. During the lifetime of man his Genius was divine, after his death the Genius continued to live as one of the Manes. During lifetime the Genius received divine honours, after death his Manes received offerings as a God. The Manes came down to earth and influenced the living members of the families among whom they had lived. They required propitiation.
Numenius of Apamea, writing in the second century, speaks of two souls in man. The one is rational and the other is irrational. The great Alexandrian theologian Origen (A.D. 185-254) speaks of the twofold psychic division of man. He says with others that man is endowed with a soul and a spirit. He then explains the relation between the soul and the spirit, which exactly resembles that between a man's soul and his Fravashi in the Avestan texts. The Fravashi of a man serves as an ideal, which the soul has to endeavour to realize. The soul has to strive after, imitate and emulate its Fravashi and ultimately become one with it after death. The texts speak of the souls of the dead that are the Fravashis of the righteous.14 Origen's teachings help us to understand the final identity of the soul and the Fravashi. The spirit, he says, is like unto a master or director of the soul during lifetime. It applauds or accuses the soul for its good or bad deed, and reminds it of its duty. If the soul behaves according to the dictates of the spirit, it ultimately becomes the spirit, but if it revolts from the spirit, it remains divided from the spirit, when the bodily life of the individual ends. The soul, he says, is the spirit in the process of redemption. It has therefore to put off its nature as soul and become spiritual.

14 Y16.7; 26.7, 11; 71.23; Yt22.39.
What are the Fravashis. A class of higher intelligences playing a most prominent part in the Mazdayasnian pantheon, and receiving sacrifices and adoration from the world of humanity, [235] is that of the Fravashis, or guardian spirits and prototypes of mankind in its purest creation. The Gathas do not mention these beings, but the word fravashi, or fravarti, has a corresponding form in the Persian name of the Median King Phraortes (647 B.C.), and also of the Median rebel mentioned in the Behistan inscription of Darius.15 The Yasna Haptanghaiti mentions them for the first time.16 One of the longest of the Yashts is dedicated to the Fravashis. The last ten days of the year, including the five intercalary days, are specially set apart for their cult. Besides, the nineteenth day of every month is consecrated to their memory,17 and the first month of the Iranian calendar receives its name after them. 15 Bh. 2.24, 31, 32, 35; 4.52.

16 Y37.3.

17 Y16.5.
The Fravashis, we have seen, resemble the Vedic Pitrs, the Roman Manes, or the Platonic Ideas. True though it is that they share some common traits with these and have striking resemblances to them, yet, after all, they are not wholly the same as these. The manifold nature of their cult offers a complicated and stubborn problem to students of Iranian theology.
Primarily, the Fravashis constitute a world of homonyms of the earthly creations, and they have lived as conscious beings in the empyrean with Ahura Mazda from all eternity. The multifarious objects of this world are so many terrestrial duplicates of these celestial originals. The Fravashis constitute the internal essence of things, as opposed to the contingent and accidental. Earthly creations are so many imperfect copies of these types. They are the manifestations of the energy of Ahura Mazda. When nothing existed and Ahura Mazda lived in his sublime singleness, he had the ideas, concepts of the material and spiritual creation which he contemplated creating in time. We have recognized the projection and manifestation of his will and thought and the emanation of his creative mind as Spenta Mainyu. Origen, the Alexandrian philosopher, is right when he says that the Logos represents the sum total of the world-thoughts of God. Spenta Mainyu is the embodiment of Ahura Mazda’s prototypal ideas which are called Fravashis in the Avestan texts. Creation is the materialization of these idealized contents of his mind and through him of Ahura Mazda's mind. [236] These idealized contents of the divine mind are the Fravashis and the creatures are their feeble replicas. The Fravashis are not mere abstractions of thought, but have objective existence and work as spiritual entities in heaven, like the angels and the archangels, until they come down to this earth voluntarily, as we may infer through later statements in the Pahlavi texts. They migrate to this world, and are immanent in the particular bodies that come into being after their divine images.

Everything that bears the hall-mark of belonging to the good creation has its Fravashi. Every object which has a name, common or proper, is endowed with a Fravashi. Ahura Mazda, the father of all existence, has his Fravashi, and so have the Amesha Spentas and the Yazatas.18 Ahura Mazda's Fravashi is the greatest, the best, the most beautiful, the most courageous, the most wise, the most efficacious, the most righteous.19 Even the sky, waters, earth, plants, animals, and all objects of the kingdom of goodness, are not without their special Fravashis.20 Thus beginning from the supreme godhead down to the tiniest shrub growing in the wilderness, every object has this divine element implanted in it. It is only Angra Mainyu and the demons, who are evil by nature, that are without it. 18 Y23.2; Yt13.80, 82, 85.

19 Y26.2.

20 Yt13.74, 86.
As Spenta Mainyu is not a personal being, he has no Fravashi. On the other hand he seems to us to be the Fravashi of Ahura Mazda.21 The ideal of Fravashi implies imperfection in the person to whom it belongs. Man becomes perfect when his soul realizes and reaches its Fravashi. It is the same with the heavenly beings. Vohu Manah realizes his Fravashi, when he smites Aka Manah that stands for his imperfection. Vahishta will reach perfection when he will ultimately rout Druj. Ahura Mazda has contemplated, devised a perfect world of which the symbol is Spenta Mainyu. The world is yet evolving towards the perfect state which Ahura Mazda has thought out. Ahura Mazda, therefore, will realize his Fravashi or Spenta Mainyu, when Angra Mainyu, the father of imperfection, will perish and the world will be a new world, a better world, a perfect world, an ideal world.

21 See my article Ahura Mazda's Fravashi in The Indo-Iranian Studies in honor of Darab Sanjana, p. 115, 116.
[237] During the lifetime of the individual, his Fravashi accompanies him to this earth. When a child is born its Fravashi that has existed from all eternity now comes down to this earth as the higher double of the child's soul. The soul is the ego proper, the real I-ness. Every individual soul is accompanied by its Fravashi.22 22 Y26.4; 55.1.
This Fravashi acts as a guardian spirit, a true friend, and an unerring guide of the soul. Here is the divine voice of an infallible monitor who now advises and now admonishes the soul, now applauds its action, and now raises a voice of warning at a threatening spiritual danger. This divine agent in man, we may infer, sits enthroned by the side of the soul as an ideal ever attracting the soul towards herself. This ideal goal is the one towards which the soul should strive. Though living in the tabernacle of clay on earth with the soul, and in the midst of the storms of passion and vice, the Fravashi remains unaffected and untouched, ever pure and ever sinless. From the time the soul embarks on its unknown voyage to this world, as we can judge from Zoroastrian teachings, its Fravashi leads it, day and night, to the path of safety, and warns it of the rocks and shoals, storms and cyclones. If it is off the track, the Fravashi hoists the danger signal. The bark moves smoothly so long as the soul follows the wise counsels of its guide. But as soon as it revolts from the heavenly pilot, it exposes the bark to danger at every turn. The vessel now drifts along on the unmapped ocean without any one at the helm to direct it to the right course, is tossed on the roaring waves, is left to the mercy of the changing wind, and is in danger of being wrecked.
The soul alone is responsible for the good or evil deeds done in this world, and it receives reward or retribution in the next world according to its desert. At the death of the individual when the soul thus advances to meet its fate, its guardian Fravashi returns to the celestial realm, but lives now an individualized life as the Fravashi of a certain person who has lived his short span of life on earth.

Qualities of the Fravashis. The Fravashis are usually designated as the good, valiant, and holy. They are the liberal, the most valiant, the most holy, the most powerful, the most mighty, the most effective.23 They are the swiftly moving when [238] invoked, the bestowers of victory, health, and glory.24 Their friendship is good and lasting, and they are beautiful, health-giving, of high renown, and vanquishing in battle.25 They are efficacious, the most beneficent, and the smiters of the arms of the tyrant foes.26 They are girt with the blessings of piety as wide as the earth. as long as a river, and as high as the sun.27 They are the strongest in moving onwards, the least failing wielders of weapons, the invulnerable, the shield-bearing, clad with iron helmets and weapons.28 Their power and efficiency are simply inconceivable and beyond description.29

23 Yt13.75.

24 Yt13.23, 24.

25 Yt13.30.

26 Yt13.31.

27 Yt13.32.

28 Yt13.26, 45.

29 Yt13.64.
Their work. Like the higher celestial beings, the Fravashis are allotted their respective tasks in the creation of Ahura Mazda. They are the ones who stood ready for help to the godhead when the two spirits first met to create the universe.30 It is through them that Ahura Mazda maintains the sky and the earth.31 Ahura Mazda expressly is stated as saying that, had they not rendered him help, animals and men could not have continued to exist, because the wicked Druj would have smitten them to death, except for the guardianship of the Fravashis.32 The waters flow, and the plants spring forth, and the winds blow through their glory.33 Through their radiance and glory females conceive offspring, and have easy childbirth.34 Through them it is that Ahura Mazda forms and develops the organs of child in the womb of its mother, and protects it from death;35 moreover, patriotic sons destined to win distinction are born unto women on their account.36 They first gave movement to the waters that stood for a long time without flowing.37 The trees that stood without growing began to grow, and the stars and the moon and the sun that had stood motionless, owing to the opposition of demons, received their movement through them38 and have ever since gone along their paths of progress owing to the influence of the Fravashis.39 They protect the river Ardvi Sura Anahita40 and watch over the sea Vourukasha and the stars [239] Haptoiringa.41 They uphold the sky and the waters, and the earth and the cattle, and preserve the lives of the children.42

30 Yt13.76.

31 Yt13.1, 2, 9, 22, 28, 29.

32 Yt13.12, 13.

33 Yt13.14.

34 Yt13.15.

35 Yt13.11, 22.

36 Yt13.16.

37 Yt13.53, 54.

38 Yt13.55-58.

39 Yt13.16.

40 Yt13.4.

41 Yt13.59, 60.

42 Y23.1.
Fravashis help the living. These spiritual forces wield great power in both the worlds, rendering great help to those who invoke them, and keeping watch and ward about the abodes in which they once had lived. In the field of battle, moreover, they help the fighting armies to victory. Awful and vanquishing in battle, they smite and rout the foes, and bring triumph unto those who invoke them.43 The heroes invoke them to succour them in the battle.44 When the ruling chief who finds himself in danger on the battlefield invokes them with offerings, they come flying unto him like winged birds and fight gallantly in his behalf against his foes. They become to him a weapon and a shield; they guard him on every side, protecting him with the strength that a thousand men would use in guarding one man, so that neither sword, nor club, nor arrow, nor spear, nor any stone may injure him.45 They rush down in great numbers in the thick of the battle to crush the foes.46 They cause havoc in the battlefield, and smite the malice of the demons and wicked men.47 The nations against whom the Fravashis march are smitten by their fifties, and hundreds, and thousands, and tens of thousands, and myriads.48 Both the vanquisher who pursues his foe and the vanquished who flees from the field invoke them to grant them swiftness in running.49 The Fravashis turn to help that side which has first invoked them with uplifted hands and heart-felt devotion.50 They hasten for help to the righteous, but for harm to the wicked.51 They are ever anxious to aid their kindred and countrymen, and they give course to the waters so that they may flow to the land they inhabited during their lifetime.52 The householders pray that the august Fravashis may come to their houses with blessings of righteousness as wide as the earth, as long as the rivers, and as high as the sun.53 43 Yt13.40.

44 Yt13.23, 27.

45 Yt13.63, 69-72.

46 Yt13.40.

47 Yt13.33.

48 Yt13. 48.

49 Yt13.35.

50 Yt13.47.

51 Yt13.39.

52 Yt13. 65-68.

53 Y60.4.
Ahura Mazda advises Zarathushtra to invoke them for help whenever he finds himself in danger.54 When the supplicant needs help of some specific nature, he invokes the Fravashi of [240] one whom he knows to be specially endowed with the correspond­ing virtue during his lifetime. For instance, Yima's Fravashi is invoked to enable one to withstand drought and death,55 be­cause that illustrious king is reported to have driven away these calamities from his kingdom. The Fravashi of king Thraetaona who is generally confounded by the later writers with Thrita, the reputed inventor of medicine, is invoked for help against itches, fevers, and other diseases.56 Similarly the Fravashis of other great men are invoked for help in the respective sphere in which they are believed to have been conspicuous during their lives.57

54 Yt13.19, 20.

55 Yt13.130.

56 Yt13. 31; WFr.2. 2.

57 Yt13.104, 105, 132-138.
Fravashis of the dead long for sacrifices. These are eager to communicate with the living among whom they have lived on this earth. They desire that their descendants and kindred shall not forget them. They seek their praise and prayer, sacrifice and invocation.58 They come down flying from their heavenly abode to the earth on the last ten days of the Zoroastrian calen­dar, which are especially consecrated to them, and interest them­selves in the welfare of the living.

58 Yt13.49, 50.

Fravashis bless if satisfied, but curse when offended. The Fravashis are entreated by the living to be propitious to them. They are besought to come down from the heavenly regions to the sacrifices held in their honour. If they are pro­pitiated with offerings, they bless their supplicants with riches and flocks, horses and chariots, and with offspring who will serve God and their country.59 Those who piously solicit their benediction receive these in abundance, for the Fravashis bring down unto them from the spiritual world the very best of bless­ings. But those who neglect or offend them are cursed; and their curse is terrible indeed. It brings untold harm to the fam­ily. Loving as the Fravashis are when propitiated, they become dreadful when offended.60 Yet they never harm until they are vexed.61 The wise, therefore, propitiate them to gain their good­will, and placate them to allay their wrath. The householder prays that they may walk satisfied in his house, that they may not depart offended from his abode, but may leave the house in joy, carrying the sacrifice and prayer to Ahura Mazda and the [241] Amesha Spentas.62 They are implored to accept the offerings and be propitiated thereby.63 They are asked to come with riches as widespread as the earth, as vast as the rivers, as high as the sun, in order to help the righteous and harm the wicked.64 Those who honour them attain to power and greatness.65

59 Yt13.51, 52.

60 Yt13.31.

61 Yt13.30

62 Yt13.156, 157.

63 Yt13.145,147.

64 Y60.4.

65 Yt13.18.
Fravashis of the righteous ones of one's family, clan, town, or country invoked individually. The survivors of the dead commemorate the pious memory of their departed ancestors. The members of a family sacrifice unto their elders, the citizens laud their patriots and heroes, and the devout revere the sacred memory of their sainted dead. The latter part of the Yasht that is consecrated to the Fravashis treats of the great personalities of Iran that have illumined the pages of her his­tory in various ways. The Fravashis of the righteous men as well as women of all times and places who have worked for the furtherance of righteousness, and who have contributed to the welfare of mankind are constantly commemorated.

Fravashis of the righteous ones of all ages and all places invoked collectively. These celestial beings are invoked in a body by the faithful. The supplicant generally winds up his prayers by announcing that he sacrifices unto the Fravashis of the righteous from the time of the first man, Gaya Maretan, up to the time of the advent of Saoshyant at the end of the world.66 Not only are the Fravashis of the departed ones commemorated, but those of living persons, as well as those of persons that are-still to be born in future ages, are also equally honoured with praise and invocation.67 66 Yt13.145.

67 Y24.5; 26.6; Vsp. 11.7; Yt13.21.
In addition to this, the righteous ones of all the Aryan coun­tries, nay what is still more, even those who are righteous among the Turanians, the national foes of the Iranians, receive their share in this homage to the saintly ones.68 The commemoration list ends with explicitly mentioning the righteous ones of all countries of the world.69 The individual is thus taught to recog­nize the fellowship with the human beings of all ages and all [242] places. Herodotus attests that a Persian does not pray for him­self, but for the whole nation and his king.70 68 Yt13.143.

69 Yt13.144.

70 Herod. 1. 132.
The faithful may infer from the spirit that runs through the Zoroastrian scriptures that there are no breaks in the life story of humanity. Each individual is a unit in the long line of count­less generations between the first and the last man. He realizes his individuality in his own age and place. Each generation is the product of the past and parent of the future. It finds itself placed in the midst of religious, social, economical, and political institutions of the past and inherits the accumulated heritage of the wisdom and civilization of the collective humanity that has lived before it. The past has made the present in body, mind, and spirit; and the present has to make the future physically, mentally, and spiritually. No generation can live exclusively by itself and for itself. To the past it owes a deep debt of grati­tude, to the future it is bound by parental duty. A wise parent instinctively works for the good of his children, and no age can be regardless of the material and spiritual welfare of those that are to follow it in time. Each age has its righteous persons by the million, who further the human progress. The Fravashis of such only are commemorated. Those that have willfully chosen to tread the path of wickedness and hamper the onward march of humanity towards perfection do not share this honour, the highest that collective humanity confers upon its dutiful children of all ages and places. The Pneuma, likewise, in the New Testa­ment is not associated with unrighteous persons.

Dual nature of the Zoroastrian ancestor-worship. The commemoration of the Fravashis of the dead represents but one phase of ancestor-worship. As we have already seen, the spirit­ual prototype of man is something apart from and above his soul. It is the soul that constitutes the individuality of his person, and it is natural for the survivors to feel that they should look to the soul of the dead for the continuity of communication with them. The sacrifices and prayers offered to the Fravashis are primarily for soliciting their help and favour. Those offered to the soul of the dead on the anniversaries soon take a vicarious form and rest on the central idea that the performance of rites by the descendants enables the soul of the dead to progress from a lower to a higher place in the next world. Thus man's [243] Fravashi and soul both are thought to claim respectively their commemoration from the relatives of the departed one. These two distinct forms of ancestor-worship-the one of invoking the Fravashis of the dead for the good of the living, and the other of sacrificing unto the souls with the desire of contributing to their betterment in the next world-often overlap each other. The intermingling of the two becomes so complete that the souls and not the Fravashis are supposed to come down to the rituals even on the days originally consecrated to the Fravashis.




The infinity of time and the immensity of space personi­fied. Time and Space seem to have been the alternative answers to the early gropings of the primitive Iranian thinkers to find some solution for the problem of the origin of things in the uni­verse; and these two elements, Time and Space, are incorporated in the Zoroastrian theology of Later Avesta after being shorn of the power assigned to them in the pre-Zoroastrian period. In the extant Avestan texts they hardly have any individuality. They are barren concepts sharing invocation along with the celes­tial beings and sanctified objects. The later works, however, speak of sects flourishing as late as the Sasanian period and even much later, who held these concepts as the highest categories in religious thought and drew the names of their sects from them.

Zrvan Akarana. This genius of Boundless Time, like several abstract ideas which are in course of time personified and yet are not classified among the Yazatas, is not listed as an angel. He is often invoked by name in company with Space and Vayu, the genius of wind.1 He has made the path which the righteous or the wicked soul has to traverse,2 and the plants grow in the manner he has ordained according to the will of Ahura Mazda and the archangels.3 1 Y72.10; Vd19.13; Ny1.8.

2 Vd19.29.

3 Y13.56.
The Avesta distinguishes sharply between the two different kinds of time, infinite and finite. The term zrvan akarana, 'boundless time,' is also used in its ordinary meaning of the un­limited time or eternity. It is said that Ahura Mazda created the sacred spell Ahuna Vairya in the Boundless Time.4

4 Vd19.9.

Zrvan Daregho-khvadhata. 'Time of Long Duration,' on the other hand, is a limited period portioned out from the Bound­less Time. This finite time is also personified and is invoked [245] by name along with Boundless Time.5 The Younger Avestan texts do not furnish us with any data to enable us to form any idea of this concept, but we learn from the later scriptures that it refers to the world's cycle of twelve thousand years.

5 Y72.10; Ny1.8.
Thwasha. Space, or the infinite expanse, is faintly personi­fied under the name Thwasha Khvadhata, or Sovereign Space. It is generally invoked along with the genius of time.6 In one place it is depicted as going alongside of Mithra.7 It is referred to by Eudemus, as quoted by Damascius, under its Greek pro­nunciation Topos, who says that the Magi name the cosmos by this name and from it are disjoined light and darkness. Like Time, it is not ranked among the angels.

6 Y72.10; Vd19.13; Ny1.8.

7 Yt10.66.



The divinities. One of the names for divinity in general is Bagha, literally meaning 'dispenser.' We have seen that its history goes far back to the Indo-European period. In the Rig Veda, Bhaga is one of the Adityas, and one hymn is dedicated to him. Unlike the term Yazata, which retains its place as a divine appellation throughout the history of Zoroastrianism, Bagha soon loses its significance in the Avestan texts. The in­scriptions of the Achaemenian kings do not speak of the heavenly beings as Yazatas, but they speak of them under the designation Bagha, as noted below. The Avestan texts, on the contrary, use the term bagha hardly six times throughout the extant literature, and by the time that we reach the Pahlavi period Bagha is used to represent the idea of divinity in general,1 and also as a title of the Sasanian monarchs who zealously uphold the divine right of kings.2 1 Sg. 4.8, 29; 10.69; Dk. SBE., vol. 37, bk. 8.15.1, p. 34.

2 Sg. 10.70; cf. Mordtmann, Zur Pehlevi-Münzkunde in ZDMG. 34.1-162.
Ahura Mazda himself is a Bagha.3 Baga, the cognate of the Avestan Bagha, is most freely applied to Auramazda in the Old Persian Inscriptions. He is the greatest of all Bagas.4 Besides ithe supreme godhead, Mithra is expressly mentioned as a Baga.5 This does not exhaust the list of the Baghas, for, though not mentioned by name, the texts refer to others besides these two.6 In the Later Avesta, compound forms of Bagha are also found, which also signify 'allotted by God.'7 Bagabigna and Bagabukhsha, the names of persons; and Bagayadi, the name of a month, [247] are the instances of the Baga compounds that are found in the Inscriptions.8 3 Y10.10; 70.1.

4 Dar. Pers. d.1; Xer. Elv. 1; Xer. Van. 1.

5 Yt10.141; Artaxerxes Ochus, Pers. a (b). 4.

6 Yt10.141; Bh. 4.61, 62; Dar. Pers. d.3; Xer. Pers. b.3; Xer. Van. 3.

7 Vsp. 7.3; Yt8.35; Vd19.23; 21.5, 9, 13.

8 Bh. 4.18; 1.13.
Bagha plays an insignificant part as Fate personified in the Younger Avesta, although this personification becomes more pronounced as the personification of Fate in the later Pahlavi period. There is, however, a solitary passage in the Vendidad, and it may be late, which tells us that a man who is drowned in water or burnt by fire is not killed by water or fire, but by Fate.9 Cambyses said that it was not in the power of man to counteract Fate.10 9 Vd5.8, 9. 10 Herodotus, 3.65.
The term Bagha, moreover, is also frequently used in its ordinary meaning, 'portion,' 'allotment.’




The nature of the Younger Avestan prayers. The Younger Avestan propounds a ritualistic religion.1 The texts do not contain short or long continuous compositions that may be classed as prayers which can help man to give expression to the various feelings, moods, desires, and aspirations that agitate the deepest depth of his heart and the innermost recesses of his mind, beget emotional exaltation and devotional fervour in him, and inspire him to strive after an ideal life. only some scattered sentences and short passages, occurring at rare intervals, can be collected from the mass of the liturgical texts to serve such a purpose. Ahura Mazda, Amesha Spentas, Yazatas, Fravashis, souls of the righteous men and women of all times, celestial and terrestrial beings, sun, moon, stars, sky, fire, wind, earth, water, rain, time, space, trees, mountains, rivers, places, fields, the season festivals, years, months, days, periods of the day, religion, customs, spells, texts, chapters, verses, metres, virtues, qualities, thoughts, words, deeds, intellect, self, priests, warriors, agriculturists, artisans, laymen, teachers, pupils, ritual implements and various other objects are enumerated by name with or without their attributes and functions, and receive praise and homage. They are all alike commemorated with the common word yazamaide, 'we worship,' in innumerable passages that pass as insipid, laudatory prayers. 1. For rituals see Modi, The Religious Ceremonies and Customs of the Parsis; Pavri. 'Ancient Ceremonies' in Iranian Studies, p. 194-229, Bombay. 1927; Haug, Essays on the Parsis, (3rd. ed.) p. 393-409.
Yasna Haptanghaiti or the Yasna of Seven Chapters, the earliest of prose compositions, made in the Gathic dialect, in the Younger Avestan period, contains more passages that can be termed proper prayers than any other text in the Avestan literature. It is significant to note that the supplicants who pray for several boons ask them from Haoma, Ardvi Sura and her waters, Fire, Mithra, and Sraosha rather than from Ahura Mazda himself.
[249] We have collected references to such passages as can be termed prayers and classified them under the headings: Supplicatory, Confessional, Devotional, Benedictory, Imprecatory, and Exorcising prayers. We shall now turn to these.

Supplicatory prayers. The faithful pray unto the Amesha Spentas and ask them to extend their protection, as they say they do not see others than the archangels who can take them under their protection.2 The Yazatas are asked to grant something greater and better and nobler than what their supplicant asks.3 Haoma is asked to keep his votaries far from harm,4 and give them foreknowledge of thieves and murderers and wolves for their safety.5 It is prayed that Sraosha and Ashi may dwell in the house in which Haoma is the honoured guest and that Ashi may give joy there.6 Haoma is implored to bestow upon his praisers the healing remedies and victory over their enemies.7 He is further asked to give bodily health and long life,8 courage and victory9 that the righteous may be the courageous smiters of falsehood and malice.10 In the end, the divinity of the sacrificial plant is asked to give the shining, all happy abode of the righteous.11 Mithra is besought to give swiftness to the teams of his worshippers, strength to their own bodies so that they may watch successfully their enemies and smite them,12 and also the demons and sorcerers and fairies and those that are seeingly blind and hearingly deaf.13 Those that have not lied unto the angel of truth ask him to free them from distress and to give them riches and strength, victory and happiness, name and fame14 and joy.15 Sraosha is asked by his invokers to grant strength to their horses and soundness of body and strength to themselves, so that they may be able to defeat the jealous and inimical.16 He is asked to protect them in both the worlds from the onslaughts of the demons of wrath and death.17 The fire is asked to give abundant well-being, abundant sustenance, and abundant life, together with knowledge, holiness, a ready tongue, spiritual understanding, and comprehensive, great, and imperishable [250] wisdom.18 Moreover, he is asked to give manly valour, which is ever afoot, sleeplessness, watchfulness, offspring that gives support, ruling over the region, belonging to the assembly, thoroughly developed, of good intellect, that may further his house, village, town, and country, and the renown of the country.19 Weal and immortality are the other boons that are asked from the fire.20 Good reward and good renown and fulfilment of one's wishes now and forever and the shining, all-happy abode of the righteous are asked from the fire of Ahura Mazda.21 Ardvi Sura is invoked to grant heroic sons of innate wisdom that may further one's house, village, town, country, and the religion of the country.22 The waters of Ardvi Sura are asked to give riches and virtuous offspring that may not wish ill of anyone;23 and they are asked to give radiance and glory, soundness and vigour of body, wise offspring, happiness, and life longer than long.24 The Zaotar or the sacrificer asks the waters on behalf of those that have participated in the sacrifice to imbue friends and pupils, teachers and learned men and women, youths and maidens and workmen and all Mazdayasnians with the wisdom to follow the path of truth.25 The shining, all happy abode of the righteous is the last coveted boon that the waters are asked to grant.26

2. Y58.5.

3. Y62.14.

4. Y9.28.

5. Y9.21.

6. Y10.1.

7. Y10.9.

8. Y9.19.

9. Y9.27.

10. Y9.20.

11. Y9.19; 11.10.

12. Yt10.94, 114.

13. Yt10.34, 59.

14. Yt10.23, 33, 58.

15. Yt10.34, 59.

16. Y57.26.

17. Y57.25.

18. Y62.4; Ny5.10.

19. Y62.5; Ny5.11.

20. Y58.7.

21. Y62.6; Ny5.12.

22. Y68.4, 5.

23. Y62.11.

24. Y68.11.

25. Y68.12, 13.

26. Y68.11-13.
Confessional prayers. In the Confession of Faith the believer proclaims himself a Mazdayasnian Zoroastrian, an invoker of the Amesha Spentas; he ascribes everything good in this world to Ahura Mazda and he confesses that he is against the daevas.27 He declares that the religion to which he belongs is the greatest and the best and fairest among all the existing religions.28 He puts his faith in Ahura Mazda.29 As a true Mazdayasnian, he bases his conduct of life upon good thoughts, good words, and good deeds, and renounces evil thoughts, evil words, and evil deeds.30 He further emphasizes that he belongs to good thoughts and not to evil thoughts, to good words and not to evil words, to good deeds and not to evil deeds, to religious obedience and not to heresy, to righteousness and not to wickedness, [251] and so shall he be as long as the struggle between the rival spirits of good and evil lasts.31 He praises righteousness.32 The ideal of his life will be that he will endeavour to be like Ahura Mazda and Zarathushtra and Frashaoshtra and Jamaspa and all those that have proved themselves to be the righteous and true benefactors of mankind and even like the good waters and trees and cattle.33 He undertakes to protect the Mazdayasnian settlements from harm and drought,34 and neither for the love of his body nor his life will he ever be a source of harm to them.35 By his thoughts, words, and deeds, does he abjure and hate the chieftainship of the daevas, sorcerers, and those addicted to sorcery.36 Thus will he denounce the guidance of the daevas even as Zarathushtra did at the command of Ahura Mazda when they communed together.37

27. Y12.1, 9.

28. Y12.9.

29. Vr5.3.

30. Y11.17; 12.8.

31. Y10.16.

32. Y11.18.

33. Y12.7.

34. Y12.2.

35. Y12.3.

36. Y12.4.

37. Y12.5, 6.

Devotional prayers. The devout pray that through good mind and through rectitude and through the deeds and words of wisdom they may go near Ahura Mazda.38 They pay homage and acknowledge themselves his debtors.39 As Ahura Mazda has thought and spoken and decreed and done what is good, so do they give unto him, praise him, and worship him.40 They long to approach him through righteousness and devotion,41 or through fire.42 Through the best and fairest righteousness they yearn to see him and attain to his perfect friendship.43 They worship with their bodies and their lives.44 They dedicate themselves unto him and beseech him to be even their lives and bodies.45 They love him and lean upon him for strength, and ask him to make them cheerful and happy and give them life-long joy in him.46 Ahura Mazda is the king of both the worlds and the faithful aspire to attain unto his Kingdom for ever;47 and for all time do they seek fellowship with him and Asha, in this world and the next.48 With the sacrifice and invocation and propitiation and glorification they long to approach the Amesha Spentas,49 and they proffer unto them sacrifice and prayer with [252] thoughts and words and deeds and with all good things of life and with their beings and with the lives of their bodies.50 The worshipper strives to make Armaiti's devotion his own.51 The votaries of Haoma lay before him the Gathas and the songs of praise and the savoury viands and are eager to dedicate their bodies to him in order to obtain from him wisdom and happiness and purity.52 Mithra is implored by those who sacrifice unto him to come to them for help and freedom, joy and mercy, healing and victory, well-being and sanctification.53 The pious dedicate their thoughts, words, and deeds, and their property, cattle, and men unto Spenta Mainyu;54 and unto Staota Yasna their property and bodies for protection.55

38. Y36.4, 5; 39.4.

39. Y13.5; 36.4, 5; 39.4.

40. Y13.5.

41. Y13.6; 39.5.

42. Y36.1, 3.

43. Y60.12

44. Y37.3.

45. Y41.3.

46. Y41.4.

47. Y41.2.

48. Y40.1.

49. Y14.1; Vr5.1.

50. Y11.18; 13.4; 14.2; Vr5.2.

51. Y12.2.

52. Y10.18; 11.10.

53. Yt10.5; Ny2.14.

54. Y58.6.

55. Y58.2, 3.

Benedictory prayers. The priest who helps the Zaotar or the officiating priest at the sacrifice, invokes blessings upon him that, what is of onefold help to himself, may be of twofold and threefold and tenfold unto his senior,56 and that better than the good may come unto him.57 The Zaotar reciprocates that the better than the good may come to his junior partner and worse than the bad may not overtake him.58 The sacrificer blesses every Mazdayasnian family with a good home and a joyful home and a happy home.59 It is prayed that greatness may come unto him who feeds the fire with ceremonial offerings.60 The fire blesses the householder that a flock of cattle and a multitude of men attend upon him and he may have an active mind and an active spirit be his and that he may live with a joyous life the nights that he may live.61 The family priest invokes joy and blessings of the righteous, good nature, truth, prosperity, power, and glory for the house in which he offers prayers.62 He prays that the religion of Zarathushtra be firmly established in the house,63 and the august Fravashis of the righteous may come to the house with blessings of righteousness as wide as the earth, as long as the river, and as high as the sun for the fulfilment of the wishes of the good and for the withstanding of the wicked.64 His further blessings for the family are that obedience may [253] smite disobedience in his house, peace may dispel strife, charity may rout niggardliness, devotion may smite heresy, and the truth may rout falsehood,65 and he concludes by praying that happiness may come to the house and that the offspring and the friendship of Ashi, the genius of fortune, may never leave it.66 The Fravashis of the righteous shower their blessings upon the inmates of a house in which they are propitiated that a flock of animals and a solid chariot may be in their houses.67

56. Y11.9.

57. Y59.30.

58. Y59.31.

59. Y68.14.

60. Y62.1.

61. Y62.9, 10; Ny5.15, 16.

62. Y60.2.

63. Y60.3.

64. Y60.4.

65. Y60.5.

66. Y60.7.

67. Yt13.52.

Imprecatory prayers. The pious pray that the wicked person may be deprived of his power and driven out from the creation of the Holy Spirit.68 Haoma is asked to take away from the malicious that may be in the house, village, town and country, the strength of their hands and feet, and their eyesight, to cover up their intelligence, and confound their minds.69 He is further asked to smite the robbers, tyrants, heretics, courtezans, and slanderers.70 It is prayed that the waters of Ardvi Sura may not be for men of evil thoughts, evil words, and evil deeds, and evil religion, and for the tormentors of friends, neighbours, kinsmen, and priests, and for those who rob the good of their property and bring harm to them.71 Calamities and destruction are invoked upon the thieves and robbers, murderers and oppressors of the righteous, sorcerers and corpse-buriers, vicious and misers, heretics and tyrants.72

68. Y60.9.

69. Y9.28, 29.

70. Y9.30-32; 10.12.

71. Y62.6, 7.

72. Y62.8.

Exorcising prayers. Spells are recited to deliver men and women and children from the supposed influence of the malignant spirits. The formuia recites the names of diseases of the demons and condemns them to flee to the north or perish. In the name of Airyaman, the priest says avaunt to sickness and death, demons and foes, heretics and oppressors,73 the two-legged brood of snakes and wolves, arrogant and proud, slanderous and inimical, and evil-eyed,74 worst liars and witches, courtezans and the wind from the north.75 The priest recites the spell to purify the way over which a dead body is carried or to give cleanliness to a man who has touched a corpse or to one who seeks purification by ceremonial ablutions, and commands the demoness of defilement [254] and her evil brood to flee and perish in the region of the north and never more appear to defile the creation of righteousness.76

73. Yt3.7.

74. Yt3.8.

75. Yt3.9.

76. Vd8.21, 72; 9.27; cf. Vd10.13, 14; 11.9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19; 20.7, 9; 21.18, 19; 22.21.

Priestly functionaries who conducted the sacrificial ceremonies. The priestly hierarchy that was firmly established during this period was headed by the high priest, who was called Zarathushtrotema. He is invoked by this name.77 The Rig Veda speaks of about sixteen priests that performed ceremonies and we have in the Avestan texts eight different functionaries who were employed in the performance of the Yasna ceremoNy These are zaotar, 'sacrificer,' hâvanân, 'the pounder of Haoma,' âtravakhsh, 'tender of the fire,' fraberetar, 'carrier of things,' âberetar, 'bringer of things,' âsnâtar, 'cleanser,' raethwishkara, 'auxiliary priest,' and sraoshâvarez, 'master of rituals.'78

77. Y2.6; 3.8; 4.11; 6.5; 7.8.

78. Vr3.1; Yt24.15; Vd5.57, 58; 7.17, 18; G3.5.

Revival of the Indo-Iranian rituals. With the return of the Indo-Iranian divinities come also the ceremonies that their early votaries had celebrated before their separation. The Yasna Haptanghaiti already refers to the Haoma ceremony,79 the invocation of the souls of the dead,80 and their Fravashis.81 The chief ceremony is the Yasna corresponding to the Vedic Yajnya, the more important part among both being the preparation of the Haoma-Soma juice. The Haoma ceremony is shorn of its early gross element, yet the resemblance between it and the Soma cult is so great that they are spoken of in identical words. We shall quote a few of the more important passages to show the close parallelism between the Haoma-Soma cult. The celestial plant, it is said, was brought upon earth by birds. It is girishta or girijâta and parvatâ vrddhah, say the Vedic texts, and the Avesta says it is bareshnush paiti gairinâm and paurvatâhva vîraodha, that is, growing on mountains. It is Av. zairi, and Skt. hari, meaning green or golden. It is passed through a sieve of the hairs of the tail of the sacred bull among the Iranians and from that made of sheep wool among the Indians. The extracting process is called Av. havana and Skt. savana. It is Av. haomahe madho, and Skt. somyam madhu, 'sweet juice of Haoma-Soma.' [255] is Av. baeshaza, and Skt. bheshaja, 'healing.' The plant is deified among both and then it is called Av. hvaresh, and Skt. svarshâ 'celestial,' it is Av. hukhratu, and Skt. sukratu, 'possessed of good intelligence.' It is Av. verethrajâ, and Skt. vrtrahâ 'victorious'.82 Herodotus says that the Magi placed the consecrated flesh upon the tenderest grass,83 and Strabo refers to the bundle of rods held by the Magi when he stood praying before the fire.84 These are the baresman twigs employed in varying numbers in different ceremonies by the Zoroastrian priests. They correspond to the Vedic barhis, the carpet of straw upon which the heavenly lords sat when they attended the sacrifices.85 Some of the minor ceremonies among both peoples resemble one another and same corresponding terms are employed for many ceremonial utensils, implements, and articles of offerings.86

79. Y42.5.

80. Y39.2.

81. Y37.3.

82. See Hodivala, Indo-Iranian Religion in The Journal of the K. R. Cama Oriental Institute, 4. 7-10, Bombay, 1924.

83. I. 132.

84. P. 733.

85. See article on Barsom by Mills and Gray in ERE. 2. 424, 425.

86. See Hodivala, ib., 12-20.

Animal sacrifices. Meat was a principal article of diet among the Iranians and it was, likewise, used in sacred feasts and festivals, or in funeral repasts. We learn from the Denkard that the Pazag Nask dealt with the way in which an animal was to be slaughtered according to the religious rites.87 The Nirangisan, has several pages devoted to the kind, quality, and size of the animal that was fit for a sacrificial offering about the way in which it was to be slaughtered, the sacred formulas to be recited while immolating the victim, about the manner in which different parts of the slaughtered animal were to be consecrated and dedicated to the various heavenly beings, and the way in which the consecrated viands were to be eaten at the close of the sacrifice. Like the flesh of an animal, fish was also used for sacrificial repasts.88 The animals generally used in sacrifice were horses, camels, oxen, asses, stags, sheep, and birds.89 We have already seen that kings and heroes sacrificed male horses, oxen, and small cattle to Ardvi Sura and Drvaspa. Small and large cattle, and winged birds are sacrificed unto Mithra.90 [256] Verethraghna, we have noticed, received cooked repasts of cattle and Haoma received his share of the sacrificed animal. Xerxes sacrificed a thousand oxen at Hellespont to the Athene of Ilium, while the Magi offered libations to the sun, and to the Manes of the heroes.91 When the great king came to the river Strymon, the Magi offered a sacrifice of white horses.92 We have already seen that other classical writers speak of the horses sacrificed to the sun by the Persian kings. The most important form of the sacrifice among the Vedic Indians was, likewise, the ashvamedha in which horses were sacrificed. Cyrus, says Xenophon, sacrificed bulls to God, horses to the sun, and other animals to the earth.93 Strabo tells us that the animal was garlanded and sacrificed at a clean place after reciting the dedicatory prayer. The victim was then divided limb from limb by the presiding priest and portions were distributed among the sacrificers. The divinity, it was believed, required the spirit of the victim. A little piece of caul was, however, put upon the fire.94

87. Dk., vol. 15, bk. 8.6. 1, 2, p. 12, 13.

88. Nr., bk. 2.13.44; 20.15.16.

89. Athenaeus, 4, p. 145.

90. Yt10.119.

91. Herod. 7.43, 53, 54.

92. Ib., 7.113; cf. Ovid, Fasti, 1. 385.

93. Cyropaedia, 8. 24.

94. P. 732; cf. Herod. 1. 132; see Edwards, Sacrifice (Iranian) in ERE. 11.18-21.



Dualism in evolution. The original Gathic conception of the reality of evil is more emphasized by the theologians of the Later Avestan period, and the personality of the Prince of Evil becomes at the same time more pronounced. The hardest crux that confronts the Zoroastrian divines, as it does every theologian, is how Ahura Mazda, the father of goodness, can be made responsible for the existence of evil in this world. The prophet has already taught the existence of an independent power as the originator of evil. The idea inherent in this teaching is now elaborately worked out until every object that is branded by man as evil is ascribed to the agency of the Evil Spirit. A ban is put upon everything in the universe that is opposed to Asha's realm of righteousness, even to the detail of noxious creatures and poisonous plants. They belong to the evil creation. Herodotus and Plutarch inform us that the Magi held it a virtue to kill noxious creatures.1 From the standpoint of evil, therefore, it is easy to understand that such a usurper king as Azhi Dahaka, who took a fiendish delight in feasting his eyes upon the most atrocious crimes perpetrated under his rule, was sent to this world by the arch-fiend as the apostle of destruction and death.2 Hail and hurricane, cyclone and thunderstorm, plague and pestilence, famine and drought, in fact everything that harms man and decimates population, belong to the realm of evil. Angra Mainyu has cast an evil eye upon the good creation of Ahura Mazda, and by his glance of malice introduced corruption and disease into the universe.3 The opposition between the Good and Evil Spirits is so pronounced that distinctive linguistic expressions are now used for both. There are separate words used for the organs, movements, and speech of the Good Spirit and his creation, and for those of the Evil Spirit and his world; [258] and this rule applies to wicked men in general as well as to the noxious creatures. The man of the kingdom of goodness 'speaks,' but the wicked one 'howls' or 'roars'; the former 'eats,' but the latter 'devours'; the good one 'walks,' but the wicked 'rushes'; the one has a 'head,' but the other has a 'skull'; the one dwells in a 'house,' the other in a 'burrow.'4 Thus the antithesis between good and evil becomes even more and more prominent. It is indelible. Evil remains as real a factor as good, as independent, and as active. There is a pronounced antithesis and an active warfare between the two rival spirits, and reconciliation or peace between them is impossible. Every prayer in the Younger Avesta begins with the exhortation to propitiate the Good Spirit and abjure the Evil One. Man is warned to guard himself from the wiles of Angra Mainyu.

1. Herod. 1. 140; Plutarch, Is. et Os. 46.

2. Y9.8; Yt17.34.

3. Vd22.2, 9, 15.

4. See Frachtenberg, Etymological Studies in Ormazdian and Ahrimanian words in the Avesta in Spiegel Memorial Volume, p. 269-289; Moulton, Early Zoroastrianism, p. 218, 219.

The earliest non-Zoroastrian writers speak of Zoroastrianism as the religion of dualism. Early Greek writers, who, we can safely assert, were contemporary at least with the Later Avestan period, speak of the religion of lran as based on the belief in two rival spirits. Hippolytus relates, on the authority of Aristoxenus (about 320 B.C.), that the Persians believed in two primeval causes of existence, the first being Light, or the father, and the second, Darkness, the mother.5 On the authority of Diogenes Laertius we have the assurance that Eudoxus and Aristotle wrote of these two powers as Zeus, or Oromazdes, and Hades, or Areimanios.6 Plutarch (A.D. 46-120) narrates, in the same tone, that Oromazdes came from light, and Areimanios from darkness. The Good Spirit created six archangels and other divine beings, and the Evil One created as a counterpoise to them six arch-fiends, and other infernal creatures, and the devil's activity of counter-creation extended also to the physical world, for in opposition to the creation of good animals and plants by Oromazdes, he brought forth noxious creatures and poisonous plants. His opposition permeates the entire creation and will last up to the end of time, when he will be defeated and be made to disappear.7 Plutarch himself further mentions, [259] on the authority of Theopompus (400 B.C.), the loss of whose excursus dealing with Zoroastrianism in antiquity is still to be deplored, that the good God ruled for three thousand years, and the Evil One for another three thousand years. At the expiration of six thousand years, they entered into a conflict which goes on, and which will end in the final annihilation of the fiend.8 Diogenes confirms this statement.9 All this has its historic bearing upon the whole realm of Zoroastrianism in its relation to the great religions of the world, for each and all of them have had to deal with the problem of evil in its application to the life of man.

5. Refutatio Haeresium, 1.2.

6. Prooem 8.

7. Is. et Os. 46, 47.

8. Is. et Os. 47.

9. Prooem. 9.


The titles of the Evil Spirit. The Gathic epithet angra is turned into a proper name. Angra Mainyu is the Demon of Demons,10 who has crept into the creation of the Good Spirit.11 His standing epithet is 'full of death.'12 He is all death.13 He is deadly.14 He is of evil glory.15 He is the worst liar.16 He is a tyrant,17 of evil creation,18 of evil religion,19 and of evil knowledge,20 and of malignity,21 as well as inveterately wicked.22 He is the doer of evil deeds.23 The north is the seat of Angra Mainyu,24 where he lives with his evil brood in the bowels of the earth to make onslaughts on the world of righteousness.25

10. Vd19.1, 43.

11. Yt13.77.

12. Y61.2; Yt3.13; 10.97; 13.71; 15.56; 17.19; 18.2; 24.43; Vd1.3; 19.1, 43, 44; 22.2; Aog. 4.28.

13. Yt13.71.

14. Yt22.2.

15. Yt24.43.

16. Yt3.13.

17. Vd19.3.

18. Y61.2; Vd19.6.

19. WFr. 4.2.

20. Aog. 4.

21. Yt17.19; Vd11.10; 19.1, 5, 9, 12, 44.

22. Y27.1; Yt10.118; 13.71, 78.

23. Yt19.97.

24. Vd19.1.

25. Yt19.44.

The counter-creations of Angra Mainyu. The Avestan texts persistently speak of the creations of the two spirits, Spenta Mainyu and Angra Mainyu;26 moreover the first chapter of the Vendidad contains a list of the good places created by Ahura Mazda, over against which the Evil One counter-created various physical and moral evils to thwart the peace and happiness of the good creation. It is the Evil Spirit who has infected [260] the bodies of mortals with disease and decay;27 it is from him that come deformities of body;28 and he is ever perpetrating wrong against the world of goodness. Angra Mainyu corrupts the moral nature of man. He it was who called into existence the tyrant Azhi Dahaka for the destruction of the creatures of righteousness.29 The rival spirits have divided their sphere of possession and activity of the wind of Vayu, a part of which belongs to the Good Spirit, whereas the other part is included in the kingdom of the Evil Spirit.30

26. Y57.17; Yt11.12; 13.76; 15.3, 43, 44; Vd3.20; 13, 1, 2, 5, 6, 16.

27. Vd20.3; 22.2.

28. Vd2.29, 37.

29. Y9.8.

30. Y22.24; 25.5; Yt15.5, 42, 57; Sr1.21; 2.21.

Angra Mainyu grovels before Zarathushtra. In his malicious thoughts and teachings, his intellect and faith, his words and deeds, and in conscience and soul, the Evil Spirit is exactly and diametrically the opposite of Ahura Mazda.31 Angra Mainyu practises deceitful wiles, and incites man to rebel against the divine authority. As the arch-betrayer he allures man to abjure the Good Spirit. On the advent of Zarathushtra, as the true prophet, this soul of righteousness stupefies him, because he sees in the earthly embodiment of Ahura Mazda's will his eternal foe, who will by holy teaching and preaching threaten the overthrow of his infernal empire of wickedness.32 The Prince of Darkness, in tempting Zarathushtra, promises him the sovereignty of the world, if he will only reject the faith of Mazda; but the prophet replies that he will not renounce the excellent religion, either for body or life.33 Angra Mainyu determines to overthrow such faith on the part of the prophet to whom he is so opposed, and resolves to wreak vengeance upon him. He clamours for the death of the sage, and lets loose legions of demons to assail him, but the chosen of Ahura Mazda is found to be an impregnable rock, not to be moved. The blessed one scatters his assailants in flight. They rush howling and weeping to the regions of darkness, or hell.34 Defeated and dismayed, the Evil Spirit bewails that Zarathushtra alone has accomplished what all the Yazatas together were unable to do; in other words, he is the only one who has baffled the devil and his infernal [261] crew.35 At the beginning of creation the recital of Ahuna Vairya [ahunwar] by Mazda put Angra Mainyu to flight,36 and as a consequence the Spirit of Evil crouches in abject servility to Mazda's prophet, who has hurled him backward into the darkest abyss.

31. Y19.15.

32. Yt17.19.

33. Vd19.6, 7.

34. Vd19.46, 47.

35. Yt17.19, 20.

36. Y19.15.

The demon-binder Takhma Urupi turned Angra Mainyu into a horse and rode him all around the earth during his reign of thirty years.37 The Fravashis force him to give way to the blows of Spenta Mainyu.38 He bewails that Asha Vahishta frustrates his efforts to spread sickness.39

37. Yt15.12; 19.29.

38. Yt13.12, 13, 71.

39. Yt3.14-17.

Angra Mainyu's final defeat. Since the time when the Evil Spirit broke into the world of Righteousness,40 a constant war is being waged against the hosts of Wickedness by the powers of Righteousness, as shall be to the last when Righteousness shall triumph over Wickedness. The faithful, accordingly, pray that Wickedness may be routed and Righteousness may rule for all in all. Every child of man has had his share in this universal strife and struggle. Those that through ignorance have not been steadfast in the path of goodness, and have been led to revolt from their creator, are those that have been victims to the clutch of Angra Mainyu. As the world progresses towards the true knowledge of the excellent Faith, mankind will embrace Righteousness and thus weaken the power of Wickedness. The perfection of mankind will thus come to pass; and finally the Father of Evil and all imperfection, having been deserted by his misguided followers, will be impotent. This will be the final crisis at which the Sovereign of Evil, bereft of power, will bow to his final fate and flee,41 and will hide himself forever in the bowels of the earth.

40. Yt13.77.

41. Yt19.96.


The Demons. The daevas, or demons, are of both sexes, as are their heavenly counterparts. Over against the vispe Yazata, or 'all angels,' stand in sharp contradistinction the vispe Daeva, 'all demons.'42 The greatest of all the demons is Angra Mainyu,43 who has created these fiends in opposition to the [262] Yazatas. The archangelic host of the Amesha Spentas, and some of the angel band of Yazatas have each a Daeva as a special adversary engaged in thwarting the divine will. Plutarch states that when Oromazdes created the six archangels, Areimanios counter-created an equal number of fiends.44 The arrangement, however, is perfunctory, if we examine the Younger Avestan text. The personality of the majority of these demons is not sharply defined, and the account of their activities, as found in the Later Avestan texts, is very vague and meagre. Some are mentioned simply by name, without any account of their function being added; it is only through the help of the Pahlavi literature that we can get a more definite idea of their place in the infernal group. Not only are the wicked spirits spoken of as the Daevas, but also the nomadic hordes of Gilan and Mazanderan, realms designated as Mazainya in the Avesta, that constantly burst with their infidel hordes of invaders into the settlements of the faithful, menacing their properties, devastating their fields, and carrying away their flocks, are branded as Daevas.45 The wicked sodomite is equally a daeva, and a worshipper of daevas, as well as a paramour of daevas; he is a daeva during life, and remains a daeva after death.46 All moral wrongs and physical obstacles are personified and catalogued in this scheme of demonology. To every disease is assigned its own demon as having been the cause of the malady. The germs of disease and death, of plague and pestilence, are spoken of metaphorically as Daevas. The Fire of Ahura Mazda serves to kill such Daevas by thousands wherever the scent of the holy flame may spread.47 It is said that if the sun were not to rise, and the light of day should not curb their power to do harm under the cover of darkness, the Daevas would kill all living beings.48 In connection with such ideas of the power of evil, it may be understood that the Avestan texts teach that the ground wherein are interred the corpses of the dead is infested with myriads of the demons, who feed and revel on the spot as a consequence, for such a place is their favourite haunt.49 Even the dropping of nails and hair on the ground is an act of [263] uncleanness that is equivalent to offering a sacrifice to the demons, as spirits of pollution. Such a careless act of uncleanness results in the production of demoniacal foes to health and purity such as lice and moths, which are equally called the daevas.50 The northern regions are peopled with the demons.51 They are evil, bereft of good, ill-behaved, evil-doing, worst liars, most loathsome, and most wicked.52

42. Y27.1; 57.18; Yt9.4; 19.81; Vd10.16.

43. Vd19.1, 43.

44. Is. et Os. 47.

45. Y27.1; 57.17; Yt5.22; 9.4; 10.97; 13.137; Vd10.14, 16; 17.9, 10.

46. Vd8.31, 32.

47. Vd8.80.

48. Yt6.3; Ny1.13.

49. Vd7.55-58.

50. Vd17.2, 3.

51. Vd7.2; 19.1.

52. Y12.4.

The number of the demons is said to be legion, even though the Avestan texts mention only about forty-five more explicitly by name. As in other cases of the fiendish crew of hell, many of these evil powers have no story in particular to tell, but we shall deal with the more important ones in the sections that immediately follow.

The work of the demons. The demons have all been allotted their special provinces of work in both the worlds. Active work and strenuous exertion on the part of man deal them blows; for example, when the farmer tills his fields and sows his corn, the demons are dismayed. When the corn grows the demons start in dismay and faint, they grumble and rush to their hovels.53 They spread uncleanness on the earth,54 that the creatures may thereby suffer, and attack and overpower him who moves about without the sacred girdle.55 They sought for the death of Zarathushtra.56 They prevented the stars, the moon, and the sun from moving, until the Fravashis showed them their path.57

53. Vd3.32.

54. Yt10.50.

55. Vd18.54, 55.

56. Vd19.3.

57. Yt13.57.

Means to confound them. The faithful recite the holy spells to dispel the demons. Zarathushtra himself, at the outset, baffled them by uttering the holy word.58 As stated elsewhere, these evil spirits are put to flight at the recital of the Ahuna Vairya, Ashem Vohu, Gathic stanzas, and the other spells,59 and the drinking of the consecrated Haoma, moreover, brings destruction to them.60

58. Yt13.90.

59. Yt3.7, 10; 4.2; 11.6; Vd10.13-16; 18.16.

60. Y10.6.

Those who strike terror into the hearts of the demons. Ahura Mazda is invoked to smite the demons,61 and Haurvatat, Ardvi Sura, Drvaspa, and the Fravashis are invoked by the [264] kings and heroes to the same end.62 Asha Vahishta smites the worst of the demons by thousands,63 while they tremble before Sraosha, who wields a club in his hands to strike upon their skulls.64 Three times each day and each night Sraosha comes down upon this earth with his terrible mace to fight against the demons.65 Mithra likewise levels his club at their skulls and smites them down.66 The kings Haoshyangha, Takhma Urupi, and Vishtaspa triumphed and ruled over the demons.67 Of course the demons are terrified at the birth of Zarathushtra.68 They conspired to kill him,69 but he routed them at the outset.70 Not one of them, nor all together, could compass the hallowed sage's death;71 they vanished overcome at his sight.72 In fact all those demons that roamed about on the earth in human form sank beneath the earth at the appearance of the prophet.73 For all these reasons it may be understood that in the realm of the hereafter the demons quail at the sight of a righteous soul advancing towards heaven, in the same manner as a sheep trembles in the presence of a wolf.74

61. Y27.1.

62. Yt4.2; 5.22, 26, 68, 77; 9.4; 13.45, 137.

63. Yt2.11, 12; 3.10, 14.

64. Vd19.15.

65. Y57.31, 32.

66. Yt6.5; 10.26, 97, 128-133.

67. Yt19.26, 28, 29, 84

68. Vd19.46.

69. Vd19.3.

70. Yt13.89.

71. Yt8.44.

72. Yt19.80.

73. Y9.15; FrW. 4.3.

74. Vd19.33; Aog. 19.

The Daeva-worshippers. In opposition to the faithful who are called Mazdayasnians, or the worshippers of Mazda, all unbelievers and wicked persons are styled the Daevayasnians, that is, as being worshippers of the demons. The two worlds of the righteous and the wicked are rent asunder. The barrier between them cannot be broken. Mazda extends his helping hand to the righteous, but leaves the wicked to themselves. Nay he hates them.

As the dregvant, or the wicked one, stands in antithesis to the ashavan, the righteous one, in the sphere of morals, so the Daevayasnian, or worshipper of demons, stands in contradistinction to the faithful Mazdayasnian in the matter of belief. Both words, dregvant and daevayasna, are Zoroastrian synonyms also of heretic. The life of a Daevayasnian is not of equal value with that of a Mazdayasnian; this is shown in the Avesta by the fact that the new surgeon who intends practising among the Mazda-worshippers must first prove his skill on three of the [265] Daeva-worshippers; and if his operations are successful he may then be given permission to practise among the faithful, but if his tests prove fatal he is to be disqualified forever.75 In regard to acts of worship, moreover, those misguided sacrificers who bring libations unto Ardvi Sura after sunset are classed among the worshippers of the Daevas, for the libations brought after the sun has set reach the demons.76

75. Vd7.36-40.

76. Yt5.94, 95; Nr.68.

Zoroastrianism is anti-daeva, or against the demons. In the hymn of the Confession of Faith that the faithful recites from the time when he as a child is invested with the sacred cord [kusti], and which he thereafter repeats throughout his life at the opening of each daily prayer, he proclaims himself a worshipper of Mazda and a foe to the demons.77 In this antagonistic attitude to all that is evil, he abjures everything relating to the demons and all that may accrue from them, exactly as the prophet Zarathushtra did.78 One of the Nasks, or books of the Avesta, moreover, derives its name from this very expression and is called, accordingly, the Vendidad, more correctly 'Vidaeva-dâta,' or 'law against the demons.'

77. Y12.1.

78. Y12.4-6.


The demon of Evil Mind. Angra Mainyu has created Aka Manah, or Evil Mind, as a counterpoise to the Good Mind of Vohu Manah. The fiend occupies, after his father, Angra Mainyu, the second place among the whole host of demons. In spite of this, he figures very rarely in the Younger Avesta and we do not hear so much of his activity as in the Pahlavi works. Aka Manah, in the scene of the temptation of the prophet, joins in the stratagem of the demon Buiti to assail Zarathushtra, and as an impersonation of the baser side of the human mind he practises his wiles by guileful words of seduction for the sainted leader to abandon the course of righteousness, but the holy prophet baffles the fiend in his attempt.79 This evil being, moreover, takes part unsuccessfully in the contest between the powers of the Good Spirit and the Evil Spirit to seize the Divine Glory.80 The ethics of Zoroastrianism naturally demands that Aka Manah's power shall be ultimately destroyed, and accordingly he [266] will be vanquished by Vohu Manah at the end of the present cycle.81

79. Vd19.4.

80. Yt19.46.

81. Yt19.96.


The embodiment of wickedness. In his inscriptions, Darius concentrates all evil in Drauga or Lie, as the Gathas did in Druj. Druj is feminine in gender and, like other demons, is a spirit.82 This evil genius of Wickedness of the Gathic period preserves her original traits in the Yasna and Yasht literature, but it seems, if we judge rightly, that she gradually undergoes a transformation in the Vendidad. The Gathic prayer of the faithful to enable the true believer to smite Druj, and thereby to weaken the Kingdom of Wickedness, is still echoed in the first part of the Avestan period.83 The house-lord, for example, invokes Asha to drive away Druj from his house, and the faithful asks for strength to enable him to smite Druj, while he likewise implores the good Vayu to remove the fiendish Druj.84 King Vishtaspa, as a champion warring against all that is evil, drove away Druj from the world of Righteousness;85 and even Ahura Mazda himself acknowledges that had not the Fravashis helped him, Druj would have overpowered the entire world.86 In the same manner we can conceive why Mithra should be invoked by cattle that have been led astray to the den of Druj by the wicked.87 Druj is designated as of evil descent and darkness,88 and devilish by nature.89 Her abode is in the north.90

82. Yt1.19; 11.3; 13.71.

83. Y61.5; Yt1.28.

84. Y60.5; Yt24.25; Vd20.8.

85. Yt19.93.

86. Yt13.12, 13.

87. Yt10.86.

88. Yt19.95.

89. Y9.8; 57.15; Yt5.34; Vd8.21; 18.31 f.

90. Yt3.17; Vd8.21.

In her burrows gathered the demons.91 It is through the help of the religion of Mazda that the Druj can be driven away from the world; this is expressly the saying of Ahura Mazda to his prophet.92 At the final renovation Saoshyant, the saviour, will overcome the Druj among mankind;93 she will then perish utterly and forever with her hundred-fold brood.94

91. Vd3.7.

92. Vd19.12, 13.

93. Yt13.129.

94. Yt19.12, 95.

Other Drujes. The Gathas knew but one Druj, the one that works in opposItion to Asha. In the Later Avestan texts Druj [267] becomes a class designation of minor female demons. These fiends are styled the Drujes, and Yt2.11 speaks of vispe druj, 'all drujes,' in the same strain as vispe Yazata, 'all Yazatas,' and vispe daeva, 'all demons.' From the sacred texts we learn that there are drujes who come openly, and there are those that come in secret, and again there are those that defile by mere contact.95-96 The term druj itself is loosely applied likewise to other demons and wicked persons. Angra Mainyu himself is called a druj.97 The demon Buiti, for instance, is designated as a druj,98 and the demoniacal Azhi Dahaka, who was sent to this world by the arch-fiend as a scourge to the world of Righteousness, is called a druj. The daevas, moreover, when baffled in their foul attempt to kill Zarathushtra, howl out that he is a veritable druj to every druj.99 The conviction of the pious that Druj will perish at the hands of Asha Vahishta is for all time firm, because Sraosha appears on the field as the best smiter of Druj.100 Manthra Spenta routs the Druj.101 In a lengthy disputation, moreover, Sraosha extorts from the fiendish impersonation, Druj, the secret of how mankind by their various misdeeds impregnate her and her brood of fiends; that is, in simpler language, he learns from her by what particular works man increases the Druj's domain of wickedness.102

95-96. Yt4.6.

97. Vd19.12.

98. Vd19.1-3.

99. Vd19.46.

100. Y57.15; Yt3.17; 11.3.

101. Yt11.3.

102. Vd18.30-59.

Druj as the personification of bodily impurity under the name Nasu. Purity of body, mind, and spirit go together to constitute a righteous man. The Gathas pre-eminently speak of the ethical virtues and purity of soul. Asha presides over Righteousness, and Druj acts as the evil genius of Wickedness. The greater portion of the Vendidad, however, contains priestly legislation for purity of body, as well as of the soul, and gives elaborate rules for the cleansing of those defiled by dead matter. The uncleanness embodied in the very term druj is now personified as Druj Nasu; her abode is in the burrow at the neck of the mountain Arezura in the northern region, but at the same time her presence is everywhere manifest on this earth.103 Her chief function is to spread defilement and decay in the world. Immediately after the death of an individual, when the soul leaves the body and decomposition sets in, the Druj Nasu comes [268] flying from the north in the shape of a despicable fly, and takes possession of the corpse.104 She is expelled, however, when a dog or the corpse-eating birds have gazed at the dead body,105 and when certain pious formulas have been recited. In reply to the inquiry how one may best drive away the Druj Nasu that rushes from the dead and defiles the living, Ahura Mazda bids the faithful to recite the holy spells.106 When the purifactory rites have been performed and the sacred formulas uttered upon the one defiled by the dead, the Druj Nasu becomes weaker weaker and weaker and flees from one part of the body to the other, until finally she vanishes towards the northern regions.107 Whoso offers for consecration water that has in any way been defiled by the dead, or proffers libations after the sun has set, even though with good intent, feeds the Druj and thereby hinders the work of righteousness.108 The religion of Mazda, as a faith paramount, dispels best this Druj of defilement.109

103. Vd3.7.

104. Vd7.1, 2.

105. Vd7.3.

106. Yt4.5; Vd10.1.

107. Vd9.12-26.

108. Vd7.78, 79.

109. Vd19.12, 13.

The barrier between the ashavans and dregvants is still impassable. Though the concept Druj as the genius of wickedness has undergone a change in the Later Avesta, the adjectival form, dregvant, meaning wicked, as opposed to ashavan, righteous, remains unaltered. This designation is applied equally to bad men and to demons, in the same manner as it used to be in the Gathas. Angra Mainyu himself is dregvant.110 The term is applied to Dahaka,111 Arejataspa,111a to all Daevayasnians, and to all of evil thoughts, evil words, and evil deeds. The world of righteousness is opposed by the world of wickedness.112 The faithful pray that the righteous may have the power to act according to their will, but that the wicked may be bereft of it and be driven out from the world of the Holy Spirit.113 Every true believer confesses that he belongs to the righteous and not to the wicked.114 That the righteous may rout the wicked is the fervent praytt of the faithful.115 Along with the employment of this term, the application of the derogatory title ashemaogha, literally meaning 'one who destroys Asha, Righteousness,' has come into vogue and is equally applied to the wicked. Perhaps [269] there is this difference in usage; that dregvant is an ethical appellation of unrighteous men, whereas ashemaogha seems to be a theological and ritual designation of one who deviates from the prescribed teachings of the established church and who preaches heresy both as regards the doctrines of the faith and the rules of ceremonial. The ashemaogha is generally to be understood as equivalent to the unrighteous. Anyone who undertakes to cleanse a person defiled by the dead, without being well-versed in the Zoroastrian rules of cleanness, is also an ashemaogha. Such a man retards the progress of the world by his false deed.116 If a priest of this character were to give a benediction, his words of blessing would go no further than his lips.117 Whoso gives the consecrated food to a sinner of that type brings calamity to his own country.118 He himself is a heretic, for he does not acknowledge any temporal or spiritual master.119 Ahura Mazda accordingly advises Zarathushtra to recite the divine names when he wishes to rout the malice of any such apostate;120 Vayu likwise enjoins upon him to utter his sacred names when in danger of being so harassed.121

110. Y27.1; 61.5.

111. Y9.8.

111a. Yt5.109.

112. Y8.8; Vd18.76.

113. Y8.5, 6.

114. Y10.16.

115. Yt1.28.

116. Vd9.51, 52.

117. Vd18.11.

118. Vd18.12.

119. Yt13.105.

120. Yt1.10, 11.

121. Yt15.51.


A god in the Vedas, a demon in the Avesta. This demon furnishes us with an instance of degrading one of the great Indian divinities to the rank of a demon in the Iranian theology. He is mentioned in the Boghaz-keui tablets, recently discovered in Asia Minor, that are supposed to date from about 1400 B.C. His name occurs but twice in the extant Avestan text: he is mentioned as one of the ribald crew routed by Zarathushtra;122 and in another passage a spell mentioning him by name is recited to drive away the demons.123 These two Avestan passages, however, do not give us an inkling of the function of this fiend. In the Pahlavi period he assumes the part of Asha Vahishta's adversary.

122. Vd19.43.

123. Vd10.9.


Foe to the archangel Khshathra Vairya. The Indian counterpart of the demon Sauvra is Sharva. The Avestan texts, [270] which make two mentions of the name of this demon, do not give us his life-story.124 In the diabolical host he is the adversary of the archangel Khshathra Vairya, through whom shall be lished the Kingdom of Ahura Mazda.

124. Vd10.9; 19.43.


She thwarts devotion. This feminine demoniacal impersonation of heresy and counterpart of Spenta Armaiti is to be smitten by the recital of the sacred formulas; she will flee away as soon as the Airyaman Ishya prayer is uttered.125 The faithful, in consequence, pray that the genius of devotion may dispel this demoness from their houses.126

125. Yt3.8, 11, 15.

126. Y60.5.


A demon of incipient personality. Naonghaithya corresponds to the Vedic Nasatya, the epithet of the heavenly Ashvins, and is likewise mentioned in the Boghas-keui tablets, but is classed in the Zoroastrian works among the evil powers. The demon is twice mentioned in the Avestan texts,127 but the passages in question shed no real light on the sphere of his activity. During the Pahlavi period, however (and the same may reasonably be presumed for the Avesta), Naonghaithya, or Naunghas, as he is then called, is seen working in antagonism to Spenta Armaiti.

127. Vd10.9; 19.43.


The adversaries of Haurvatat and Ameretat. The names of the dual demons Taurvi and Zairicha personify, in later texts at least, fever and thirst. They occur together and are mentioned in two places in the Younger Avesta,128 yet without any special description of their work. They are in the Pahlavi texts depicted as the adversaries of the dual divinities Haurvatat and Ameretat, whose active mission in the world has been described above.

128. Vd10.9; 19.43.


The fiend of death. As indicated etymologically by the root of the Avestan words maretan and mashya, man is mortal. This mortality applies to his material frame only. At death he dies in the flesh, but he lives forever in the spirit. Astovidhotu, literally 'the bone-divider,' who impersonates death, awaits all. When a man is burnt by fire or drowned in water, it is Astovidhotu who binds his breath and hastens him to an unnatural death.129 Man trembles at Astovidhotu's sight.130 The demon prowls with padded feet and silently creeps to capture his victim, pouncing upon him so suddenly that the unfortunate one remains unaware of his doom. He cannot be won over by favour or by bribe. He respects not rank or position, but he mercilessly captures all.131 Every one eagerly wishes to put off the moment of this catastrophe. No one prays for death before its time, and no one likes to hasten to the jaws of this all-devouring demon. The philosopher may speak of death with sublime resignation, the theologian may console himself by depicting death as the birth into a higher life, the mystic may long for the dissolution of the body as a heaven-sent liberation of the spirit, but the majority of humanity thirst for life and thirst for a long life. The death-toll which Astovidhotu exacts from the world is appalling. On that account Mithra and Sraosha are invoked by the faithful to protect them from the assaults of Astovidhotu,132 and Ahura Mazda's divine aid protects the child in its mother's womb from the onslaughts of this demon.133 The man who marries and rears a family, is hard-working, and nourishes his body with meat, is able the better to withstand Astovidhotu than a celibate.134

129. Vd5.8, 9.

130. Aog. 57.

131. Aog. 70-73.

132. Y57.25; Yt10.93.

133. Yt13.11, 28.

134. Vd4.47-49.


This demon's work. The demon Vizaresha, 'the dragger away,' lies in wait for the wicked souls at the gate of hell, when justice is administered to the souls on the third night after the bodily deaths of men. No sooner do the heavenly judges pass [272] their verdict of being guilty on a soul than Vizaresha pounces upon his victim and mercilessly drags the wretched soul into the bottomless hell.135

135. Vd19.29.


A demon at the gate of hell. Sraosha is invoked to smite this demon. The fire of Ahura Mazda routs him.136 He is drunken without drinking, and hurls the souls of the wicked into hell.137 There are spells to rout the fiend and his evil progeNy The name occurs in its feminine form as Kundi.138

136. Yt24.26.

137. Vd19.41.


Sloth personified. Idleness and inactivity tend to strengthen the Kingdom of Evil. The demoness Bushyansta, or sloth personified, literally 'procrastination,' is commissioned by Angra Mainyu to inculcate the habit of sleep and procrastination among mankind. She, the long-handed, as she is called,139 lulls the whole living world to inordinate slumber. Timely sleep as such is of Ahura Mazda's making and it receives even adoratiuon;140 but Bushyansta, the inordinate, tempts the idle to be unduly long in bed,141 and thus prevents the practice of good thoughts, good words, and good deeds.142 At dawn the cock Parodarsh, whose name literally means 'one who sees ahead,' flapping his wings and crowing aloud, warns slumbering humanity of the stratagem of Bushyansta, and informs the faithful that it is time to wake up and proceed to work.143 When Mithra comes in his chariot, he puts the fiend to flight;144 the Aryan Glory and the holy spells join hands as well to render powerless this demoness of laziness.145

138. Vd11.9, 12.

139. Vd11.9; 18.16, 24.

140. VSp. 7.3.

141. Yt22. 42.

142. Vd18.17, 25.

143. Vd18.16, 24. For general information about the cock among ancient Iranians, see Jackson, Proceedings, JAOS. 13. lix-lxi; cf. also Peters, The Cock, in JAOS. 33. 377-380.

144. Yt10.97, 13.4.

145. Yt18.2; Vd11.9, 12.


The demon of wrath. This evil genius of wrath and fury, who comes down from the Gathic period, works in opposition to Sraosha. He is full of sin,146 and is the wielder of a bloody mace.147 Ahura Mazda created Sraosha to counteract his fiendish mischief.148 The faithful invoke Sraosha to protect them from his assaults.149 Sraosha hurls his mace at this demon's skull, and the fiend takes to flight before Mithra.150 Intoxicating drinks incite men to embrace Aeshma, but the recital of the holy spells helps to dispel him.151

146. Yt10.97.

147. Y10.8; Yt11.15.

148. Yt11.15.

149. Y57.25.

150. Y57.10; Yt10.97.

151. Y10.8; Yt17.5; Vd11.9.


The tempter of Zarathoshtra. The nineteenth chapter of the Vendidad contains an account of the temptation of Zarathushtra by the Evil Spirit. Angra Mainyu decreed in his infernal council amid the bickerings of the demons with one another that Buiti, who is death unseen, should go to the world and lure Zarathushtra from his constancy, The righteous one chants the sacred Ahuna Vairya [Ahunwar] formula and dispels the demon, who rushes away to report his inability to overpower the holy prophet.152 Buidhi is the name of a demon found in Vd11.9, 12, which may be a variant reading of Buiti.

152. Vd19.1-3.


The demon of drought. The Yasht dedicated to Tishtrya gives a picturesque account of the battle waged between the angel of rain and the demon of drought. Tishtrya assumes three different forms for ten nights each. For the first ten nights he takes the form of a youth of fifteen years of age, for the second ten nights he moves along in the shape of a golden-horned bull, and the last ten nights in the shape of a beautiful white horse, with golden ears and a golden caparison, seeking libations and offerings, so that he may bestow upon his supplicants oxen, children, and horses.153-154 When he proceeds to his work of pouring [274] down water on the earth, he is confronted by demon Apaosha, who has assumed the form of a dark horse.155 A severe struggle ensues, lasting for three days and three nights. Apaosha comes off first as the victor in the combat and puts the genius of rain to flight.156 Tishtrya bemoans his lot and complains before Ahura Mazda that mankind had neglected to sacrifice unto him. If only he were strengthened by their offerings, he would carry with himself on the battlefield the vigour of ten horses, ten camels, ten bulls, ten mountains, and ten rivers.157 Ahura Mazda, thereupon, offers a sacrifice to the unfortunate angel and gives him the desired strength.158 Girt with this added power, Tishtrya now boldly marches against his rival, and engages in combat with him, until, to the joy of the waters, and plants, and lands, and fields, Tishtrya comes out triumphant and Apaosha is defeated.159

153-154. Yt8.13-19.

155. Yt8.21.

156. Yt8.22.

157. Yt8.23, 24.

158. Yt8.25.

159. Yt8.26-29.


Apaosha's associate. The name of this demon occurs but once in the Avesta, in Vd19.40, where Vazishta, the fire of lightning, is spoken of as smiting Spenjaghri. We learn from the Pahlavi works that this fiend works in concert with Apaosha to hinder Tishtrya from pouring the rain upon the earth.


Demon of avarice. On the physical side this demon strives to extinguish the household fire, but he is repelled by Sraosha three times during the night.160 On the moral side he is the evil genius of avarice.161 Sacrifices are offered to the waters and trees to enable the faithful to withstand him.162

160. Vd18.19, 21, 22.

161. Yt18.1.

162. Y16.8.


A collaborator of Astovidhotu. We have already seen the good part of Vayu personified as a Yazata. The other part belongs to the realm of wickedness and is impersonated by a demon of the same name. He accompanies the demon Astovidhotu [275] in his work of bringing death unto creation. He is most pitiless and his path is most dreadful. A man may be able to traverse a path that is barred by a flowing river, or by a huge serpent, or by a terrible bear, or by an army, but no man can ever cross the path of Vayu and come out safe.163 It is Vayu who hastens his victim to speedy death by smothering him when he is drowned or thrown in a burning fire.164 As the good Vayu and the good wind, Vata, are identical, so are also the evil Vayu and the devil Vata personifying the storm-wind.165

163. Aog. 77-81.

164. Vd5.8, 9.

165. Vd10.14.


Some of the other demons who are merely mentioned by name, and about whose characteristics we do not know anything, are Vyambura, Hashi, Ghashi, Saeni, Buji, Driwi, Daiwi, Kasvi, Akatasha, Aghashi, Paitisha, Zaurva, Ithyejah, Spazga, and other shadowy evil intelligences.166

166. See Gray, op. cit., p. 224-226.


The fairies. A class of bewitching fairies has been created by Angra Mainyu to seduce men from the right path and injure the living world. Nimble as birds they go along flying in the shape of shooting stars between the earth and the heavens.167 They come upon fire, trees, and other creations from which they are to be driven away by the recital of spells.168 They try to kill Zarathushtra, but in vain.169
167. Yt8.8.

168. Vd11.9, 12.

169. Yt8.44.

Three of the more prominent fairies are mentioned by name. They are Khnanthaiti that clave unto King Keresaspa, who was bewitched by her looks;170 Duzhyairya,171 corresponding to Dushiyar, or the fairy of drought according to the Old Persian Inscriptions,172 and to Dushyari of the Turfan manuscript of Mani;173 and Mush.174 Zarathushtra tells Angra Mainyu he will smite Khnanthaiti.175 Ahura created Tishtrya to rout [276] Duzhyairya.176 He keeps her in bonds as a thousand men would keep one man, and if Tishtrya were not to keep her in check she would extinguish the life of the entire material world.177 Mithra withstands the Pairikas.178

170. Vd1.10.

171. Yt8.51, 53, 54.

172. Darius, Pers. d. 3.

173. Friedrich W. K. Müller, "Handschriften-Reste in Estrangelo-Schrift aus Turfan, Chinesisch-Turkistan", Teil II, p. 15, in Abhandlungen der Königlich-Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (APAW), Anhang, Berlin, 1904.

174. Y16.8.

175. Vd19.5.

176. Yt8.36, 51, 53-55.

177. Yt8.54, 55.

178. Yt10.26.

The recital of the Ahuna Vairya and Airyaman Ishya prayers routs the fairies.179 Zarathushtra asks Ahura Mazda to declare that divine name of his by the utterance of which he may smite the demons and fairies.180 Ahura Mazda thereupon declares that the recital of his holy names is most efficacious for routing the evil ones.181 Haurvatat, Haoma, Ardvi Sura, Tishtrya, Mithra, Vayu, the Fravashis, sun, waters, and trees are invoked to give power to withstand the seductive attacks of the Pairikas.182 Haoshyangha and Takhma Urupi overpowered and ruled over them.183

179. Yt3.5; 11.6; Vd20.12.

180. Yt1.6.

181. Yt1.10, 11.

182. Y9.18; 16.8; 68.8; Yt4.4; 5.26; 6.4; 10.34; 13.104, 135; 15.12; Sr. 2.13.

183. Yt19.26, 28, 29.

The Yatus, or sorcerers, usually associate with this class of evil beings.184 The faithful declare in the Confession of the Faith that they abjure the sorcerers and those addicted to the sorcerers.185 Ahura Mazda's names, and the most efficacious prayers Ahuna Vairya, Ashem Vohu, Yenghe Hatam, and Airyaman Ishya rout the sorcerers.186 The recital of the hymn to Sraosha frightens and forces them to flee.187 The prayers and sacrifices unto the fire,188 the sun,189 Vayu,190 Tishtrya,191 Haoma,192 enable the faithful to disable the sorcerers. The Fravashi of King Haosrava is invoked to rout them.193 King Takhma Urupi subdued them.194 They failed in their attempts to compass the death of Zarathushtra.195 The West has derived the term magic from Magi, the priestly class of the ancient [277] Persians. The Zoroastrian works of all periods, however, detest sorcery as an evil creation of Angra Mainyu.196 The verdict of the Greek writers regarding this is unanimous. Dino states in his Persica that the Magi abhorred divination by magic, and Sotion on the authority of Aristotle and Dino says that sorcery was unknown among the Magi.197

184. See Frachtenberg, Allusions to Witchcraft and other primitive beliefs in Dastur Hoshang Memorial Volume, p. 398-453; Franklin, Allusions to the Persian Magic in Classical Latin Writers, ib., p. 520-534.

185. Y12.4.

186. Y61.3; Yt1.6; 3.5, 9, 12, 16.

187. Yt11.6.

188. Vd8.80.

189. Yt6.4.

190. Yt15.56.

191. Sr. 2.13.

192. Y9.18.

193. Yt13.135.

194. Yt19.29.

195. Yt8.44.

196. Vd1.14, 15.

197. Frag. 5. FHG. 2. 90; Diogenes Laertius, Prooem. 8; cf. also Windischmann in Sanjana's Zarathushtra in the Gathas and in the Greek and Roman Classics, p. 88, 105.



The theory of rebirth and the binding nature of Karma become axiomatic truths in India. According to the Indo-Iranians and their Aryan descendants of the early Vedic period man came but once to this world. This one life of man received its completion after death in the next world. The earthly life was one of probation. The harvest of the seeds of the good or evil deeds that man sowed in this world was to be reaped in the other world. This view of the future life of man was already undergoing a change in India during the later part of the Vedic period. The belief grew that the ideal of life cannot realized within the limits of a single life upon earth. A long series of lives were required before the soul can purify itself of its impurities and win emancipation. By the sixth century B.C. the theory of the cycle of rebirths had become the universally acknowledged theory in India. Man may reap reward and retribution according to his desert for a temporary period in the next world, but he had to return to this world to enjoy or expiate the consequences of his good or evil deeds that he committed in his past life. Life is living out actions or Karma in a round of rebirth. To the philosophers of this period, this world is no longer what it used to be for the early Vedic seers, the abode of joy and hope. Not only is this world, in their view, transitory, its happiness illusive, its hopes hollow, but it is positively woeful. In such a world of sorrow and suffering man is condemned to sojourn. Periodical life in heaven for a pious man between his death and rebirth is no recompense owing to his impending life upon earth. Higher than heaven and greater than virtue's reward is beyond heaven. The goal of life is the final deliverance from the round of rebirth, the liberation of the soul from the bondage of the ever recurring life so that it may rest in the transcendent peace in Brahma. The one task of religion and philosophy, therefore, is to teach the way of emancipation to [279] the weary wayfarer from the inexorable necessity of treading the rough and rugged path of the world of woe tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of times.

Life is bondage. The bonds that bind the soul to the world and prolong and postpone the period of its liberation are actions. The actions are fetters that bind the soul to the wheel of rebirths. The individual who goes to heaven or hell after death experiences reward or retribution according to his desert. But after a life of many a summer in the world beyond the grave, when merit or demerit of his good or bad actions is exhausted, he will have to descend upon the earth to work out his destiry according to the residue of the actions of his past earthly life. Thus will he be compelled to descend upon the earth time and time again until, freed from all attachments of actions, he wins emancipation.

As the source of man's actions is desire, it is desire that keeps the soul rooted to this world. Deliverance of the soul depends then upon the cessation of desire. But desire is inseparable from life. It is the very seed of all existence. It is said that when there was no existence and no death and Brahma alone breathed calmly, desire arose in him and the creation came into being as its consequence.

Yajnavalkya says that man is altogether desire. Karma results from desire and determines the time of the deliverance of the soul. Desire, moreover, generates desire. Like fire, says Manu, that grows stronger when fed with clarified butter, does the enjoyment of what man desires, creates in him cravings for still more. Man desires health and offspring, riches and glory, and a hundred good things of this life and in addition prays for heavenly bliss when he goes to his final reckoning. Between the dawn and dusk man performs many actions, good or bad. But even when they are all good, they are prompted by desire for profit and power, name and fame, health and happiness or for the acquisition of some earthly good. This attachment, craving, hope, and love for the prize of actions forge fetters round the human ego and indefinitely postpone the period of its liberation.

According to the Upanishads, the individual ego takes up one body and drops it at death and thus the ego that goes the round of births is ideatical. With Buddha it is not the same ego for the ego as such does not exist. There is no eternal soul or spirit of [280] the individual. Karma alone survives the death of man. Rebirth is the corollary of Karma. Man is the child of Karma, for Karma transmigrates and makes man in its own image. From life to life Karma returns to the earth in the midst of the environment it has merited, now reaping the harvest and now sowing new crops, now treading its steps upward the spiral ascent and now sliding backward, now unburdening itself to its accummulated consequences and now encumbering itself with fresh attachments. Karma, thus, makes and moulds itself ever anew in every life from day to day and year to year, until the time that it has no harvest to reap and becomes devoid of desire and deeds, so that it wins liberation in Nirvana of peaceful repose. Life is a little link in the long chain of limitless lives. Salvation lies not in the escape from hell but from the whirlings of the wheel of life. What is feared is the new birth, for it brings its accompanying sorrows and sufferings. Life is a wayside inn where the wayfarer halts for some time while upon his protracted pilgrimage to Nirvana or the end of his earthly existence.

Jainism likewise teaches that Karma or actions elongate the chain of rebirths. The ideal of life, therefore, is to divest oneself of Karma. Actions should be performed without passion or attachment. Karma, thus born, lives but a momentary life and dies. The sooner is the Karma extinguished, the quicker follows the liberation from the trammels of existence. It is the life of renunciation accompanied by bodily mortification that enables man to free himself speedily from Karma. The soul that wins liberation lives its individual life of peace and rest in heaven for ever.

In common with the various schools of philosophy current at the time, the Gita propounds the theories of rebirth and Karma. Krishna undertakes to teach how one bas to perform actions and yet to save oneself from falling into their imprisoning fetters.

Thus India creates altogether a new eschatological philosophy. Zoroastrianism, as we shall see, continues to believe in only one life upon earth and Judaism, Christianity, and Mohammedanism hold the same view.

According to Judaism, Yahweh searches the hearts of men and women and reads their thoughts.. He weighs their actions, rewards the good and punishes the evil. Reward and retribution are, however, meted out in this world. It is at the later period [281] that the exiles In Babylonia brought with them under the Persian influence the belief in the compensatory justice in the life after death.

The mightiest of men cower before death. Every creature that is born in this earth dies when the demon of death comes to it.1 The soul is immortal, and survives the death of the body which is perishable.2 The ignorant man, intoxicated with the pride of youth, encircled in the heat of passion, and enchained by the bonds of fleeting desires, forgets the transitoriness and death of the body.3 One who lives for the body alone comes to sorrow, at the end of life, and finds his soul thrown into the terrible den of Angra Mainyu.4 Man should act in such a way that his soul may attain to heaven after death.5 The individual who blindly seeks the passing good of the body, thus sacrificing the lasting good of the soul, is merciless to himself and if he has no mercy on himself, he cannot expect it from others.6 This ignorance brings his spiritual ruin.7 He should not live in forgetfulness o f the everlasting life, and lose it by yielding to his passions. Man sees his fellow-being snatched away from this earth, but he grows so indifferent that he forgets that his own turn may come to sever his conneetion with this world.8 The man may be faring sumptuously in the forenoon, but his fall may come in the afternoon.9 The demon of death overpowers everyone. Ever since the world began, and man graced this earth with his presence, no mortal has ever escaped his clutches, nor shall one ever escape until the resurrection.10 The priests and the princes, the righteous and the wicked, have all to tread the dreary path of death.11 Neither the first man, Gaya Maretan, who kept the world free from disease and death, nor Haoshyangha, who killed two-thirds of the demons, nor Takhma Urupi, who bridled and rode on the Evil Spirit, nor Yima, who dispelled old age and death from his kingdom, nor Dahaka, who was a scourge to humanity, nor Thraetaona, who bound Dahaka, Kavi Usa, who flew in the sky, nor Franrasyan, who hid himself under the earth, could struggle successfully against death. All these great and mighty men delivered up their bodies, when Astovidhotu grasped them by their hands.12

1. Aog. 40.

2. Aog. 5-7, 25-28.

3. Ib., 31-37.

4. Ib., 28, 38.

5. Ib., 20.

6. Ib., 49.

7. Ib., 56.

8. Ib., 39.

9. Ib., 53-55.

10. Ib., 57, 58, 69.

11. Ib., 59.

12 Ib., 60-68, 85-102.

[282] The recital of the sacred formulas on the deathbed of man helps his soul when it leaves the tenement of the body. Life ends in death and dust. It sleeps on earth to wake in heaven. Bodily death liberates the soul for a higher life. This period of the separation of the body and soul is momentous; it is full of fear and distress.13 In its utter bewilderment the soul seeks help. The recital of a single Ashern Vohu, pronounced by a man at the last moments of his life, we are told, is worth the entire zone inhabited by man,14 and does him incalculable good.

13. Yt22.17.

14. Yt21.14, 15.

From this world to that which is beyond. The twofold Gathic division of the universe into the astvant, 'corporeal,' and manahya, 'spiritual,' is maintained throughout all the Younger Avestan texts. One frequently meets with the expressions, 'both the worlds,' 'this and the next world,' 'this world which is corporeal, and the next which is spiritual,' 'the perishable and imperishable,' and the like. Man stands on the borderland between the material and spiritual worlds. In the world of the living he lives a short span of life Here he either works for the realization of the great ideals that Ahura Mazda has set up for him, and triumphs; or he falls away from them, and fails. In the world of the dead, Ahura Mazda rewards men for having kept his commands, but visits with retribution all those that have disregarded his bidding.

Heaven and hell are in the Younger Avesta no longer conditions of man's being, as they were in the Gathas, but are actual places located in space. The process reaches its consummation in the Pahlavi works, but the beginning is already made.

All souls dwell three nights on earth after death. At the dissolution of the body, the soul is freed from its bodily prison. The journey towards the next world does not, however, begin immediately after death, for the separation of the soul from the body takes place by slow degrees. It requires full three days and nights before the last vestige of the earthly bondage perishes. The Jews likewise believed that the soul fluttered in the neighbourhood of the body for three days.15 The past flashes upon the soul and it recounts the acts done during its life. It takes its seat near the spot where the head of the deceased rested before the corpse was removed to the Tower of Silence. If the soul [283] has walked in the Path of Righteousness during life, it spends its time in chanting the sacred hymns, and experiences as much joy as the whole of the living world can experience collectively.16 It is anxiously longing for the rewards which are to take place at the end of the third night after death.17

15. See Farrar, The Life of Christ, p.457, n.2, London, 1893.

16. Yt22.1-6; 24.54.

17. Vd19.27-29.

Precisely the reverse is the case if the dead happens to be wicked. The soul of such a one sits near the skull and clamours in bewilderment and confusion about the terrible lot that awaits it, and experiences as much suffering as the whole of the living world can experience collectively.18

18. Yt22.19-24.

Daena accompanies the soul to the next world. Of the various spiritual faculties of man, the daena is the only one besides the soul of which we hear at great length after the dissolution of the body. It is in the power of everyone to keep his daena pure by good thoughts, good words, and good deeds and every one is enjoined to do so.19 If one does not live according to this salutary advice and indulges in evil thoughts, evil words, and evil deeds, his own daena delivers him to the world of darkness.20 On the dawn of the fourth day after death, the romantic journey of the soul begins and its voyage into the hereafter is described in allegorical and picturesque words. The soul of the righteous one makes its triumphal ascent to heaven, wending its way among fragrant perfumes, and amid a wind that blows from the regions of the south, a sweet-scented wind, sweeter-scented by far than any which the soul ever inhaled on earth.21 There appears then to the soul its own daena, or religious conscience, in the shape of a damsel of unsurpassed beauty, the fairest of the fair in the world.22 Dazzled by her matchless beauty and grandeur, the soul halts and inquires who this image may be, the like of which it had neither seen nor heard tell of in the material world. The apparition replies that she is the impersonation of the soul's own good thoughts, good words, and good deeds in life. She is nothing more than the true reflex of its own character. For, when his friends and neighbours in the corporeal world indulged in wickedness, the spirit abiding in the true believer always embraced good thoughts, good words, [284] and good deeds. It was this righteousness of the soul that had made the daena so lovely and so fair.23

19. Vd10.19.

20. Vd5.62.

21. Yt22.7, 8; 24.55.

22. Yt22.9; 24.56.

23. Yt22.10-14; 24.57-60.

This is a piece of an allegorical soliloquy on the part of the soul, in which the consciousness of its having led a virtuous life on earth brings it inner joy in the future, and that sweet voice of conscience comforts. In its flight to heaven which proves to be an eternal comfort, such a soul, redeemed by its piety on earth, is helped by Sraosha, Rashnu, the good Vayu, Arshtat, Mithra, and the Fravashis of the righteous in its advance to the realms of final beatitude.24

24. Aog. 8.

On the other hand, the soul of the wicked person is harassed by the thought of its wicked life, and marches at the end of the third night on the dreary and dreadful path that lies amid the most foul-scented wind blowing from the northern regions.25 The full Avestan text is missing here, but we gather from the similar account of the wicked soul's journey preserved in the Pahlavi scriptures that the soul of the sinner is confronted by the personification of its own conscience in the shape of an ugly old woman who mercilessly taunts it for the wicked life it has led.

25. Yt22.25.

All souls have to make their way across the Chinwad bridge into heaven or hell. The righteous as well as the wicked souls must needs go to this Bridge of Judgment, made by Mazda, before they can be admitted to the realm of the hereafter.26 Dogs are stationed at the bridge to guard its transit.27 These hounds of the spiritual realm help the pious souls to cross the bridge, but the wicked ones long in vain for their aid. The dogs accompany the daena of a good soul.28 Whoso in the fulness of faith recites the sacred Ahuna Vairya [Ahunwar] is enabled by Ahura Mazda to cross the Chinwad Bridge and to reach paradise in a threefold manner, namely, unto the best existence, the best righteousness, and the best lights.29 Ahura Mazda proclaims to Zarathushtra certain rules of righteousness by the practice of which he could pass over the bridge to paradise.30 Speaking about the qualifications of a priest, the Heavenly Father informs the prophet that he shall be called a priest who by his wise precepts teaches a man [285] to be of easy conscience at the bridge.31 In this same connection it may be added that the man who has ill-treated the Vanghapara class of dogs in this world finds not his way across this crucial bridge.32 Besides the bare announcement that the righteous souls can cross the bridge successfully and that the wicked ones fail so to do,33 we are not furnished with a detailed description of the judgment at the bridge, although we have this information explicitly recorded in the Pahlavi accounts of the fate of the soul after death.

26. Vd19.29, 36; Sr. 1.30; 2.30.

27. Vd13.9; cf. Kuka, The Dog in the Vendidad in Zartoshti, vol. 1, p. 271-280, Bombay, 1903; Bloomfield, Cerberus, the Dog of Hades, p. 27-30, Chicago, 1905.

28. Vd19.30.

29. Y19.6.

30. Y71.16.

31. Vd18.6.

32. Vd13.3.

33. Vd13.3; 19.30.


Four heavens. In contrast to the single heaven referred to in the Gathas, we meet with a fourfold division of heaven in the Avestan period. Garonmana [Garothman], or the Abode of Praise, remains the highest heaven, the realm of bliss that is reached by traversing the three lower heavens, calted Humata, or Good Thought, Hukhta, or Good Word, and Hvarshta, or Good Deed, as beatific abodes for the soul. Garonmana, the fourth and the highest heaven, is frequently designated in the Younger Avesta as the place of anaghra raochah, or endless light.34 The generic name, however, for all the four heavens is Vahishta ahu, or Best Existence. This heavenly region is the shining and all-happy abode of the righteous,35 and in Garonmana dwell Ahura Mazda and his heavenly retinue, together with those human souls that have reached perfection through righteousness.36 Ahura Mazda offered sacrifice unto Mithra from Garonmana.37 The faithful beseech Mithra to lay their sacrifices in Garonmana.38 It is beautiful and all-adorned.39

34. Yt22.15; 24.61.

35. Y9.19; 11.10; 62.6; 68.5, 11, 13; Vsp. 7.1; 23.1; Yt12.36; 24.5; S1.27; 2.27; Vd19.36.

36. Vd19.32, 36.

37. Yt10.123.

38. Yt10.32.

39. Yt24.28, 33.

A cordial welcome awaits the pious souls in paradise. Vohu Manah, the premier archangel of Mazda, hails the pious souls on their arrival in paradise in congratulatory terms,40 and a leader of the heavenly host, introduces them to Ahura Mazda and the other heavenly beings.41 In a different passage Ahura Mazda himself is depicted as welcoming the righteous [286] souls with the same words that Vohu Manah uses.42 The souls of the righteous persons that have departed from this world in earlier times join furthermore in welcoming the newcomers in their midst.43

40. Vd19.31.

41. Aog. 10-13.

42. Vd7.52.

43. Yt22.16.

The pious enjoy eternally what but few mortals enjoy, and then only for a short period in this world. The bountiful host of paradise commands his heavenly caterer to bring to the souls of the righteous the ambrosia;44 a later work adds that this celestial food is served to the righteous souls by the Fravashis, while robes embroidered with gold and golden thrones are supplied to them by Vohu Manah.45 The blessed souls enjoy eternal felicity and incomparable happiness in this abode of endless light.46 Theirs is the lot to receive the everlasting rest which Mazda has prepared for them, and it is theirs to experience as much joy as one at the zenith of his greatness enjoys in this world.47

44. Yt22.18.

45. Aog. 15-17.

46. TdFr. 82. 83.

47. Aog. 14.


The intermediary place between heaven and hell. We have already referred to the probability of the idea of the intermediary place between heaven and hell as embodied in the Gathas. The Younger Avestan texts four times mention a place called misvâna gâtu, 'the place of mixing.'48 It is invoked by name along with Garonmana [Garothman], the highest paradise, and the Chinwad Bridge. The text in question, however, do not give us any account of this place. The Later Pahlavi texts render misvâna gâtu by hameshak sut gâs, or 'the place of eternal weal,' which is generally taken to be identical with the well-known hamistakân of the Pahlavi period.

48. Yt1.1; S1.30; 2.30; Vd19.36.


Four hells. Simultaneously with the increase in the number of heavens, there is a corresponding increase in the list of hells. The Gathas knew but one hell. The later Avestan texts speak [287] of four abodes of the damned. They are those of Dushmata, or Evil Thought, Dushukhta, or Evil Word, and Dushvarshta, or Evil Deed, together with the fourth and lowest hell, which has no specific name of its own in the Avesta, but stands in opposition to the highest Garonmana, and receives the epithet anaghra temah, or Endless Darkness.49 The wicked soul reaches this darkest abode with the fourth stride. The realm known as duzh ahu, or Evil Existence,50 or again as achishta anghu, or Worst Existence are designations of hell in general.51 The regions of hell, if we look to incidental allusions in the Avesta, are stinking,52 dreadful, and dark.52a

49. Yt22.33.

50. Vd19.47; Vd19.47.

51. Y71.15; Vd3.35; 5.62; 7.22; WFr. 3.2.

52. Vd19.47; TdFr. 93

52a. Aog. 28.

The wicked souls reap in incessant tears the crop they have sown in the finite world. The gulf of gloom now yawns for them. The demon Vizaresha carries off in bonds the wicked souls to their doom.53 Angra Mainyu orders them to be fed with the foulest and the most poisonous food in hell.54 It is their own evil doings that bring them to woe.55 They enter hell terror-stricken, like unto the sheep that trembles before a wolf.56 A life of sorrow and suffering now awaits them.57 The Evil Spirit exposes the wretched souls to the mockery of the infernal rabble.

53. Vd19.29.

54. Yt22.35, 36.

55. Vd5.62; 7.22.

56. Vd13.8.

57. TdFr. 84.



The greatest of the renovators. Zoroaster in his religion postulated a renovation of the universe, a new dispensation in which the world will become perfect at the last day. We learn from Diogenes, on the authority of Theopompus and Eudemus, that the classical authors were familiar with the Magian doctrine of the millennium and the final restoration of the world as early as in the fourth century B.C.1 Plutarch draws his mate­rials on this millennial doctrine from Theopompus.2 In the Later Avestan texts we sometimes miss a clear definition of the collec­tive judgment of the souls and final regeneration. But they furnish us with some stray passages which cursorily deal with the work of the Renovation at the millennium and of the saviour renovators who will bring this to pass.

1. Prooem. 9.

2. Is. et Os.47.

The world progresses towards perfection. Inequity and wrong are to be ultimately supplanted by equity and right. The world is to be restored to a veritable heaven on earth. The goodness of Ahura Mazda makes it imperative that the entire creation shall finally be saved. The faithful are confident of this final event, and they know that this accomplishment will be the end of the world, when right shall triumph supreme. In his daily prayers the true believer prays that the fire that burns in his house may remain shining till the day of the good Renovation.3 Spenta Armaiti, the genius of earth, is likewise implored to receive and to rear the seed that men emit in their dreams, and ultimately to deliver this back as holy men at the time of Renovation.4

3.Y62, 3; Ny5. 9.

4. Vd18.51.

According to the teachings of Zarathushtra, every man or woman is his or her own saviour. Salvation depends entirely upon the righteous life of the individual. Besides the individual salvation there is to be the universal salvation in which the renovators [289] will finish the work of bringing salvation to all human beings. The texts speak of certain great souls, three in num­ber, including the saviour paramount, that will usher in this period. These are called Saoshyants in the Zoroastrian terminol­ogy. The Fravardin Yasht5 mentions Ukhshyatereta, Ukhshyat-nemah, and Astvatereta as the chief renovators. Zarathushtra's own kith and kin, a superman of miraculous powers, born in supernatural manner, will finally descend upon earth to renovate the world. Astvatereta, or the Saoshyant proper, will be immacu­lately conceived through a virgin called Vispataurvi, or 'the all-triumphant.'6 He is called Saoshyant because he will salvage the bodily world, and Astvatereta because he will save the bodily creatures from destruction at the hands of the two-footed wicked ones.7 Astvatereta is reflected in the Gathic expression astvat ashem, ashem being cognate with areta.8 This Saoshyant par excellence is the most eminent restorer, he is called the friend of Ahura Mazda, the meritorious one, who will bring the mighty work to completion.9 This particular Yasht,10 as just stated, incidentally mentions Zarathushtra's seed as watched over by ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine Fravashis. Passages such as these in the Avesta contain in embryo the doc­trine of the immaculate birth which is later elaborated by the Pahlavists.


6. Yt13. 142; 19.92; Vd19. 5.

7.Yt13. 129.

8. See Bartholomae, Air. Wb, p. 215.

9. See Casartelli, Salvation (Iranian), in ERE. 11. 137, 138; Pertold, The Origin of the Idea of a Universal Saviour in Modi Memorial Volume, p. 464-474.

10. Yt13.62.

This final Saoshyant will be helped in his great undertaking by pious comrades or attendants, who will be, as the description says, fiend-smiting, of good thoughts, good words, and good deeds, and who are such as have never known falsehood.11 The Kingly Glory will cleave unto them,12 and the great Saoshyant will profit the whole bodily world and withstand the Druj.13

11. Yt19.95.

12. Yt19.89.

13. Yt13.129.

The final reconciliation of the entire creation to its creator. The world will henceforth neither grow old nor die, decay nor rot, but will be ever fresh and ever living; death will be no more, [290] life and immortality will come to pass forever and the dead will rise up again.14 Plutarch records that it is the Magian belief that at the time of the Renovation mankind will speak one lan­guage and have one commonwealth; men will live without food and they will not cast shadows.15 Vohu Manah at the time of this final dispensation will smite Aka Manah; truth will rout falsehood; Haurvatat and Ameretat will smite once and for all the fiends of hunger and thirst, at which moment the deadly Aeshma will bow and flee helpless forever.16 The demons are believed to have existed as long as physical and moral imperfec­tions lasted; with the cessation of all such evils, the fiends will be no more. The Saoshyants will join in reciting the Airyaman Ishya prayer, and the divine Kingdom of Ahura Mazda will come to pass, as the sovereignty of Angra Mainyu will then end. Impotent, the Prince of Evil will acknowledge his defeat in the warfare that has gone on for ages between the powers of Right and Wrong. Bowing before Ahura Mazda, Angra Mainyu will hide himself with the demons in the earth.17 The wicked Druj and her hundredfold brood will forthwith vanish,18 and with it will disappear all evil propensities in man. With the disappearance of evil from the universe, good will prevail everywhere and for all time; and the accursed name of Angra Mainyu will be forgotten. Ahura Mazda will be forever, even as he has been from all eternity.

14. Yt19, 11, 19,20,23,24,89; WFr. 4.3.

15. Is. et Os. 47.

16. Yt19.95, 96.

17. Yt19.96; WFr. 4.2,3.

18. Yt19.12, 90.




[292 is blank]




Alexander consigns the Zoroastrian scriptures to the flames. Cyrus had made Persia the queen of Asia, and it was in Persia that East and West first met. The history of the Achaemenians was a long struggle of wars with nations, and a considerable part of this warfare was a conflict with the West. Alexander crushed the Iranian armies at Arbela, and wrested the sceptre from the hands of Darius III, in 330 B.C., and the structure of the Iranian empire was shattered to pieces. Great as was this national catastrophe, still greater was the spiritual loss involved in the destruction of the holy scriptures of Zoroastrianism, which perished in the conflagration of Persepolis when the great conqueror, in a fit of drunkenness, delivered the palaces of the Achaemenians to the flames.1 Fire, the most sacred emblem of Iran, was wantonly utilized in consuming the Word of Ormazd. The ill-fated Darius had ordered the two archetype copies to be preserved in the Dizh-i-Nipisht and Ganj-i Shapigan.2 The first, deposited in the archives of Persepolis, perished in the conflagration. The second copy of the sacred writings, in the Ganj-i Shapigan, we are informed, was done into Greek,3 though more probably it met with a similar fate. Ahriman had sent Zohak and Afrasiab as the scourges to Iran, but their ravages paled before the irrevocable harm done by this fact of Alex­ander's wanton vandalism. Literary Iran has known him as her arch-enemy, and the Pahlavi writers have branded him 'ac­cursed,' 'evil-destined,' and an envoy of Ahriman. After a long period of darkness, following his ill-destined invasion of Persia, Iran once more recovered her political autonomy, but she never regained, in their pristine fulness, the holy works of her great prophet.

1. Diodorus, 17, 72; Curtius, 5. 7; Dk., Vol. 9, p. 569.

2. Dk., vol. 9, p. 577.

3. Dk., vol.9, p. 569.

[294] Zoroastrianism thrives better under the Parthians than under the Seleucids. The premature death of the great con­queror brought the end of his ambition of hellenizing Persia. The philhellenic princes that ruled over the destinies of Persia for the long period of five and a half centuries that intervened between the overthrow of the Achaemenians and the rise of the Sasanians failed to accomplish anything in that imperialistic di­rection. Disintegration followed almost immediately after Alexander's death, under the Seleucid satrapies, and Jess than a cen­tury had elapsed before Arsaces succeeded in founding a strong empire in Parthia about 250 b.c. We have no means to ascertain the undercurrents of the religious thought among the Zoroastrians during this period. From what little information we get we find that in the Parthians Zoroastranism found better masters than in the Seleucids. Mithradates, Tiridates, Rhodaspes, and Artabanus are some of the names of the Parthian kings that savour of a partiality for Zoroastrianism. The Magi exercised a considerable influence at the Parthian court. They had their place in the council of the state.4 Pliny informs us that Tiridates, the brother of Vologeses I, was initiated in the mysteries of the Magi.5 We have on the authority of Tacitus that he was a priest.6

4. Strabo. p. 515.

5. Nat. Hist. 30. 6.

6. Annales, 15. 24.

Zoroastrian practices embraced by the Parthians. In the early days of their empire, at least, the Parthians were strongly influenced by Zoroastrianism in their religious beliefs.7 They venerated the sacred elements, especially the fire, worshipped the sun under the name of Mithra, and in accordance with the tenets of Zoroastrianism, exposed bodies to the light of the sun and the birds of prey.8 The fire altar, emblematic of Iranian influence, is a common feature on the reverse side of the coins of the Parthian rulers. Tiridates betrays an exaggerated notion of the Zoroastrian injunctions for the purity of the elements, when, invited by Nero to receive the crown of Armenia, he avoided the sea route and went to Rome by land. Prompted by the same scruples against defiling water, his royal brother declined [295] to go to Rome, and invited his Roman contemporary to Persia.9 One of the five kings of this royal house that bore the name Vologeses, ordered a collection to be made of the scat­tered fragments of the manuscript material that might have survived the period that for nearly five centuries threatened the-utter destruction of the sacred scriptures of Zoroaster's faith and menaced even that which was preserved in oral tradition.10 Nevertheless, Denkard informs us that all that could be recovered of the lost Zoroastrian canon at this time was only as much as could be retained by any one Dastur in his memory.11

7. See Unvala, Observations on the religion of the Parthians, Bombay, 1925; Pettazoni, La Riligione di Zarathustra, p. 171. 8. Cf. Rawlinson, The Sixth Great Oriental Monarchy, p. 399, 400, London, 1873.

9. Dio. Cassius, 63. 1-7.

10. Dk. SBE., vol. 37, bk. 4. 24, p. 413.

11. SBE., vol. 37, bk. 8. 1:21, p. 9, 10.

Classical references to Zoroastrianism during this period. Our knowledge about the state of Zoroastrianism during this period is very scanty, and the occasional references made by the classical writers of this time to the religious practices of the Zoroastrians help us in gaining some more information of the religious history of the faith. We have often referred in earlier pages to the works of Strabo and Diogenes Laertius. who draw their material from the early Greek writers as well as base their statements on their personal investigation. We gather some more particulars on the subject from the incidental references of other writers. Porphyry (a.d. 233-306) mentions on the authority of Eubulus that the Magi are divided into three classes, the first and the most learned of which neither kill nor eat anything living.12 Diogenes Laertius states that vegetables, cheese, and bread form their food, and they content themselves with the plain ground for their bed.13 Clement of Alexandria (a.d. third cen­tury) mentions a sect of the Magi that observed the life of celibacy.14 Speaking about the designation by which the Zoro­astrian priests were known in Cappadocia in his days, Strabo relates that in addition to their usual name of the Magi, the priests were called puraithoi, the equivalent of the Avestan desig­nation athravan, or fire-priest.15

12. De Abstinentia, 4. 16.

13. Prooem. 7.

14. Stromata. 3, p. 191.

15. Strabo, p. 733.

Zoroastrianism spreads its influence abroad. The Magi had established themselves during the Parthian period in large num­bers in eastern Asia Minor, Galatia, Phrygia, Lydia, and even in [296] Egypt. These colonies of the Zoroastrian priests became an active source of the diffusion of the Zoroastrian beliefs.16 The rulers of the dynasties established in Pont us, Cappadocia, Ar­menia, and Commagene took pride in tracing their dynasties to the kings of the fallen empire. They encouraged Iranian tra­dition and religion in opposition to the Greek kings of Pergamon and Antioch. They paid homage to Oromazes, Omanos, Artagnes. (Verethraghna), Anaitis, and Mithra. Mazdaism flourished in Armenia in a very corrupt form. It was assimilated to local beliefs and Semitic ideas that had penetrated there from Syria. Aramazd (Ahura Mazda) was recognized as the chief divinity. Spandaramet (Spenta Armaiti), Haurotmaurot (Haurvatat, Ameretat), Anahit, Tir, Mithra, Vahram (Verethraghna) among the good heavenly beings, and Arhmn (Ahriman), Azmad (Aeshma daeva), Druzh (Druj) among the evil are included in the theology.17 Strabo informs us that the Zoroastrian divinities were worshipped in Armenia, Cappadocia, and throughout North eastern Asia Minor.18 He mentions having seen in Cappadocia the image of Omanus, that is Vohu Manah carried in a proces­sion.19 The people of Pontus remained partially attached to Zoroastrianism up to the first century, when they exchanged the faith of Zoroaster with that of Jesus. Pausanias (second cen­tury A.D.), refers to the Magian rites practised in Lydia in the second century.20

16. Cumont, The Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism, p. 139, Chicago, 1911.

17. Ananikian. Armenia (Zoroastrian), in ERE. 1. 794-802.

18. P. 512, 732, 733.

19. P. 732.

20. 5.27.5.

The appearance of the Zoroastrian angels Atar, Maongha, Tishtrya, Mithra, Verethraghna, Vata, and others on the coins of the Indo-Scythian kings from the time of Kanishka, in the second century, proves the strong Zoroastrian influence outside Iran.21

21. Cf. Stein, Zoroastrian Deities on Indo-Scythian Coins in Indian Antiquary, vol. 17, p. 89-98.

Zoroastrianism at the close of the Parthian empire. The fact that some of the Parthian kings were favourably inclined to Zoroastrianism did not succeed in saving the Zoroastrian Church from falling into decay. Heresies and scepticism were [297] rampant, it seems, and the priesthood was steeped in ignorance.22 The language of the Avesta had long ceased to be a living tongue, and the knowledge of the holy books written in that language was on its decline. The new language born at this period is Pahlavi, cognate with Parthava or Parthian, meaning heroic. It is an admixture of Aryan and Semitic. The Aryan element belongs to the Avesta, whereas the Semitic element is Aramaic, closely resembling Syriac. The Magi and the Athravans, the priests of Western and Eastern Iran, who were now united under­took the translations of the Avestan works and their explana­tions in Pahlavi. The explanations or commentaries are called âzainti in Avesta, and Zand in the later tongue.

22. AV. 1. 13-15.

Mithraism and Judaism were flourishing in Western Iran and Buddhism in Eastern Iran. A new religion of great poten­tiality entered Iran at this period. It was Christianity, whose propaganda spread in Iran during the Parthian period. We shall deal in brief in separate chapters with the spread of Mithraism outside Iran, and with Christianity, which was destined to grow into a great spiritual force that confronted Zoroas­trianism from the middle of the second century to the middle of the seventh century, or the downfall of the last Zoroastrian em­pire. Five centuries of literary chaos thus elapsed before the dawn of the real Zoroastrian reformation dispelled the darkness and once more illumined the Mazdayasnian world with new light.




The teachings of Jesus. Great trading routes had con­verged upon Jerusalem and the Jews had long carried on an extensive commerce with distant countries. Wealth poured from all quarters and the rich accumulated vast fortunes. Side by side with all this opulence, there was growing in large towns a propertyless, proletarian, discontented class. The Romans were drawing vast numbers under their yoke of slavery. Discontent with life upon earth was increasing among the helpless popula­tion. God had destined man to reap happiness upon earth, but through the life of inequity and sin, man had lost his fellowship with God the Father. Out of compassion for his erring children, God became man in Jesus. He alone among all, it was given out, could secure forgiveness of man's sins from God as the mediator and restore him to divine fellowship. Jesus lived and suffered, and by his supreme sacrifice of dying as ransom for humanity, he undertook to save and redeem mankind.

The world was in great peril and there was no hope that man could save it. Superhuman help alone could revive its dying hope. God loved the world and therefore sent Jesus so that it might be saved through him. The Saviour of the world speaks authoritatively not only as a. messenger or a prophet of God, but in the person of God so that despairing humanity may find supremest consolation. Jesus knows God, and is from him. Furthermore he asserts that he and his Father are one, the Father being in him and he in the Father. It is the Father who dwells in him that does the works that Jesus seems to be doing. He owns those as his kith and kin who do the will of his Father. They alone will enter the Kingdom of Heaven after death. Jesus promises eternal life to those who sacrifice their all to follow in his steps. God is a spirit. He does not relish burnt offerings and sacrifices. He demands that man shall worship him in spirit. He is merciful, forgiving, and just. He makes [299] the sun rise on the good and the evil, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. The inhumanity of man has extinguished all hope in the heart of man that erring humanity can ever be redeemed. Jesus consoles man that all hope is not lost. God can help man in his woe, if only man has faith in God. For, says he, faith can accomplish what verges on the border of impossibility. It can move the mountain and cast it into the sea. Let man love God with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his mind, and with all his strength, and let him love his neighbour as himself and all will be well with the world. Love for God and love for God's children are the two fundamental commandments, says Jesus. Love is the fulfil­ment of the law. Humanity's salvation lies in its faithful practice of universal love. The Kingdom of Heaven, says Jesus, is at hand and he exhorts his disciples to preach this gospel of hope throughout the earth.

Men and women, says Jesus, are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in them. The world would be a paradise if they remained true to their noble inheritance and lived godly lives. But given freedom of action, they have gone astray from the path of equity and made life upon earth full of suf­fering and sorrow. Avarice and envy, jealousy and hatred have split the world of human beings who began life upon earth on terms of equality as children of the common Father, into two antagonizing factions of the strong and the weak, the rich and the poor. The strong and rich own and rule the world, the weak and poor toil and suffer, and the number of the weak and poor is legion. Jesus comes as the friend and saviour of the weak and poor. He consecrates weakness and poverty in his own person and lives his life as the weakest and the poorest of mankind. He extols the virtues wedded to weakness and poverty and preaches a philosophy of life for the rescue and uplift of the weak and poor, the sorrowing and suffering.

The philosophy of life that Jesus teaches us has love for its basic principle. To love one's neighbour as one loves one's self, is the chief commandment. Love is the binding force, the bond of unification between man and God, and man and man. This sphere of love knows no limits. It is neither tribal, nor com­munal, nor national. It is universal. Wherever man meets man, there love should be. If a man loves God, but hates his fellow-men, [300] his love for God is false. The world would change its sombre hue if men were kindly affectioned with brotherly love. As a sentient being, man wishes well to himself. Let him only recognize that his neighbour, his fellowman has equal right to his own well-being. The golden rule of life for man, therefore, is, as Zarathushtra and Confucius had said, to do unto others what he would men should do unto him.

The world groans under misery, because men wish evil unto their fellowmen. Evil recompensed by evil furthers evil. It is incumbent, therefore, upon all to overcome evil done to them by good. If a wicked person smites another on one cheek, the injured person should on no account retaliate but meekly turn to the aggressor his other cheek. Hate from the enemy is to be returned with love, his curse with a blessing, and persecution by him with prayer for him. If the enemy hungers, he has to be fed and if he thirsts he is to be given water. In his infinite mercy, God forgives trespasses of the sinners, even so has man to forgive him who wrongs him. Forbearance is a virtue and the strong should bear with the weak. If one lends something to his neighbour, let him do it with indifference whether the borrower returns it or not, because God, in his goodness, will recompense him. If some one takes away his goods, let him not pursue the usurper with the object of regaining them.

Man cannot serve both God and Mammon. The root of all human ills is the love of money. The riches of the earth can be corrupted by moth and rust and stolen by thieves. Let man give up his pursuit after them and let him by his virtue store up for himself his treasure in heaven, where it shall be imperishable. Jesus lived and died a poor man. Let man take his example, and use his wealth, if he has any, for helping the poor and the needy. And this act of relieving poverty and distress with his money is to be done so unostentatiously and with no ulterior motive but only with the object of discharging his duty towards his fellow-beings, that his left hand may not know what his right hand does. Treasure acts as a snare; it is a source of temptation. Hence it is that a rich man finds his entrance into the portals of heaven more difficult than a poor man. Faith and hope elevate life, but charity is the greatest virtue. It is the bond of perfection. A man of great possessions approached Jesus, saying he had faithfully observed all the commandments [301] and was anxious to be assured of eternal life. The prophet of God answered that though he had practised all virtues, he had left out one and that was charity. He should therefore return home and sell whatsoever he had and give to the poor, so that God would reward him with treasure in heaven. It is practising true religion to visit the orphans and widows and alleviate their sufferings. Man does not bring anything into this world with him when he is born, neither can he take anything from his amassed fortune when the call of death conies to him. Content­ment with what little he has, even if it is not beyond his daily food and raiment, is godly virtue leading to happiness.

Jesus gives a sublime manifestation of humility throughout his life. He glories in speaking of himself as a servant of humanity whose pious mission in life is to minister to the poor and the weak. He who ostentatiously exalts himself, says he, bsfore his fellowmen shall be abased by the hand of God, but whoso humbles himself before all shall win exaltation. Let him, therefore, who is hailed as the great among men, minister to the needs of the many that are far from greatness; and let him who is saluted as the chief among his compatriots act as a willing servant of the populace. Jesus gave his life a ransom for mankind and he exhorts his hearers to practise such supreme sacrifice. Man instinctively loves life, but he gains more life and nobler life by losing it as a sacrifice for the good of others, than by saving it for the love of self. The best expression of love for others is the laying down of one's life as a loving sacrifice for the good of others. So did the Son of Man offer the very life of his body for the sake of mankind. Let the children of men hold their lives ready for sacrifice for one an­other in their mutual need Love is the active rule of life; sacrifice is the passive, concludes Jesus.

The religion of Jesus, as we shall see in subsequent pages, was destined soon to enter Iran as a rival to Zoroastrianism.




Mithraism is Zoroastrianism contaminated with Semitic accretions. Of all the Indo-Iranian divinities, Mithra attained to the greatest prominence during this period. The Avestan texts constantly speak of Mithra as the lord of wide pastures, and Mithra gathered the largest number of flocks under his protection in the field of spirit. Iranian in its basic principles, Mithra's cult was soon surcharged with Semitic accretions and spread far and wide under this new syncretic form. The Achaemenian kings lived during winter in Babylonia. Here the Chaldaean astrolatry or the Semitic star worship was assimilated with the cult. Planets and constellations whose course was believed to determine all events of life received homage. Chaldrean theology assimilated Mithra to Shamash, the god of the Sun. Thus Mithra, though distinct from the Sun in Zoroastrian theology, was united with the Sun and called Sol Invictus or the Invincible Sun, in the Roman mysteries.1 In Asia Minor, Mithra was identified with local gods, and with the Greek gods at a later period. A blend of heterogeneous elements from Babylonia, Asia Minor, and Hellenic ideas u1timately gave him such a new form that his original traits were considerably concealed from sight.

1. Cumont, Les Religions Orientales dans le Paganisme Romain, p.217.

Plutarch says that the Cilician pirates taken captive in 67 B.C. brought the cult of Mithra to Rome.2 We have already seen from the activities of Mithra as described in the Avestan works that besides being the divinity of light and truth, he was also the tutelary divinity of the fighting armies. This warlike trait of Mithra appealed strongly to the martial instincts of the Roman legions that poured forth into the Parthian regions. The Romans recruited their auxiliary soldiers from Pontus, Cappadocia, Commagene, and Lesser Armenia, where the cult was popular, and these soldiers widely diffused it in Rome. The [303] slaves in the Roman families were also instrumental in spreading Mithra worship. Mithra rapidly conquered vast dominions for his cult in Europe, and brought a large multitude of votaries from distant lands to his feet. His fame reached the borders of the Aegean Sea. He came to be worshipped between India and Pontus Euxinus. He was the only Iranian divinity who won popularity for himself in Greece. In the Near East his cult spread in the different parts of Asia Minor and reached India in the third century A.D. where it had its root in the North-Western provinces and Gujarat.3

2. Pomp. 24.

3. Bhandarkar, Vaisnavism, S'aivism, and Minor Religious systems in Grundriss der Indo-Arischen Philologie, 3. 6, p. 153-157, Strassburg, 1913.

Mithraism patronized by die State. Mithraism prospered everywhere under the patronage of the emperors. Antiochus I, king of Commagene on the Euphrates, in his epitaph (about 35 B.C.) pays homage to Ahura Mazda, Mithra, and Verethraghna and orders that the priests shall put on Persian dress at the festivals, shall clothe the images in Persian costume and shall cover them with golden diadems.4 Antiochus is shown in relief clasping the right hand of Mithra, who appears in Persian costume with radiate nimbus. Mithra appears on horseback in Persian costume on coins. Nero5 desired the Magi who accompanied Tiridates, King of Armenia, to initiate him in the mysteries of Mithra. Diocletian, Galerius, and Licinius dedicated a temple to Mithra, and Diocletian officially recognized Mithra as the protector of his empire in 307 A.D. During the middle of the third century, Mithraism was at the height of its triumph, and it seemed as if all Europe would turn Mithraic.

4. Dittenberger, Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae, vol. 1. p. 598, Leipzig, 1903-1905.

5. 54-68 A.D.

Mithraism was thus honoured by the emperors because it encouraged and supported their autocratic pretensions. The emperor was theoretically the first magistrate of Rome and derived his authority from the people. Mithraism brought the idea of hvarena [khwarrah] or Kingly Glory with it from Iran. This Kingly Majesty was a shining halo that descended upon the king. It encircled his head and made his person sacred. It was believed to be inherent in the person of the king, who proclaimed himself the descendant of divinity or divinity in the flesh.6 It came to [304] be known by the name of Destiny and every country and every city in the Orient worshipped its Destiny. The Semites called it gadâ. It was rendered among the Greeks as Tyche. Alexander's successors adoptcd it to strengthen their royal position that they had usurped, and established the worship of the Glory or Tyche of the king. People swore by the Tyche of King Seleukos. The kings of Cappadocia, Pontus, and Bactriana honoured the Glory. The Seleucids proclaimed themselves the favourites of the Glory or Forture and thus ordained to rule by the grace of God. The Yasht dedicated to Mithra speaks of him as the giver of Glory.7 It was this function of Mithra of dispensing the Kingly Glory that made him the favourite of the Roman emperors who likewise declared themselves possessed of this divine Glory. They ruled with absolute power in the name of God, and ordered this goddess of their own person to be worshipped. A number of theophorous or god-bearing names compounded with the name of Mithra were used enthusiastically.

6. Hj. Inscr. 1-4.

7. Yt10.16, 128, 141.

The creed. The supreme godhead is Kronos, Time, known in the Avestan texts as Zrvan Akarana or Boundless Time. He is devoid of name, sex, and passions. He is the First Cause. The Sun is his physical manifestation. In sculptures he represented as a lion-headed human monster. A serpent encircles his body. He holds the sceptre and the bolts of sovereignty and holds in each hand a key to the gates of heaven. He is the creator and destroyer. He created Heaven and Earth. The Earth begot the Ocean. The Heaven is Ormazd, or Jupiter; the Earth is Spenta Armaiti or Juno, the Ocean is Apam Napat or Neptune. Atar or Vulcan is the angel of fire. Sharewar or Mars is the genius of metals. Haoma or Bacchus personifies plants. Drvaspa or Silvanus is the genius of agriculture. Anaitis or Venus and Cybele is the goddess of water. Vanainti or Nike is the angel of victory. Asha or Arete presides over virtue. These Iranian Yazatas that have accompanied Mithra were worshipped under Greek and Latin names. With other divinities they dwell on the sunlit summits of Mt. Olympus. Fire, wind, water, and earth are the four steeds that drive the chariot of the Supreme God. The Sun goes his daily round in his chariot. The moon drives in a cart drawn by white bulls. Verethraghna is likened to a bellicose and destructive boar, one of the forms [305] in which he manifests himself in the Avestan texts. The exploits and achievements of other Yazatas are ascribed to Mithra. As God is unknowable and unapproachable, Mithra acts as the Mediator between God and mankind. Plutarch says that Oromazes dwells in eternal light as far above the sun as the sun is above the earth and Ahriman lives down below in darkness. Mithra, he says, occupies an intermediary place between them.8 Ahriman or Pluto, according to Mithraism, is born like Ormazd of Boundless Time, and lives deep down in hell. He assaulted the heavens with his infernal crew, but was repulsed and driven back to hell.

7. Yt10.16, 128, 141.

8. Is. et Os. 46, 47.

The creation of the material world begins when Mithra combats the primeval Bull. His painful struggle with the Bull symbolizes the sufferings of mankind upon earth. He triumphs over the Bull and puts him in a cave where at the command of the Sun he ultimately kills him reluctantly, that he may thereby create and save mankind. The moon gathers and purifies the seed and the different kinds of animals are born. The soul of the Bull is taken under the protection of the dog, the faithful companion of Mithra, to heaven, where he becomes the guarding genius of cattle. The first human couple is now created and Mithra is set to guard it. Ahriman strives to kill it, as he had previously struggled to kill the Bull. He causes pestilential scourges and protracted drought but is baftled in his aim. He then causes a universal deluge, from which one man, forewarned by God, makes a boat for himself and his cattle and is saved. Then follows a huge conflagration which brings great destruction. The creation of Ormazd thenceforth lives and thrives. Mithra's work of creation being finished, he retires to heaven and guards the world from above.

Mithraic ethics. In Rome, Mithraism is the religion of the emperors and soldiers and Mithra exalts active, rigorous, military virtues. He is himself ever wakeful and demands wakefulness, agility in his votaries. He is the divinity of truth and justice and he guards them, fights against falsehood and injustice and requires that his worshippers will practise these cardinal virtues. Man's chief function in life is to combat evil actively on behalf of God. The fighting armies look to him for help and he never fails them. He helps the good in this life in their struggle for [306] existence and assures them of salvation in the next. There is the esoteric side of Mithraism in which the aspirants to the Mithraic mysteries had to practise strict self-control. The neophytes had to undergo repeated lustrations and ablutions to cleanse their souls of sin. They had to live austere lives and perform elaborate occult ceremonies most scrupulously. There were seven degrees of initiation in which the mystic successively assumed the names of Raven, Occult, Soldier, Lion, Persian, Runner of the Sun, and Father and put on sacred marks appropriate to the names. He was made to undergo these seven degrees of initiation to enable him to acquire wisdom and holiness. Only those that passed through all the seven degrees became participants in the mysteries.

The Mithraic sanctuaries were in caves and grottoes. Fire burnt perpetually on the altar in the deep recesses of the subterranean crypts. The heavens were believed to be a solid vault and became symbolic of Mithra born from the rock. Greek art was enlisted in the service of Mithraism. Mithraic monuments represent in stone Mithra in the act of immolating the Bull, Mithraic legends, cosmogony, and mysteries.

Mithraic eschatology. The soul is immortal. It receives the reward or retribution according to the life it led upon earth. Mithra presides over the tribunal that judges the souls. As the heavenly Mediator, he helps the good to ascend to heaven and welcomes them as children returning from a distant journey. Woe unto the souls of the wicked, for they are dragged to hell by Ahriman and submitted to untold tortures.

There are seven heavens one above the other. These spheres are conjoined to the seven planets. A ladder takes the pious souls from one story to another. When the souls have traversed the seven zones, they enter the last paradisaic abode of eternal light and beatitude. At the end of time, Ahriman will destroy the world. Mithra will then come down upon the earth and will bring about the I resurrection of the dea:d. The dead that have come to life again will recognize one another. Mithra will separate the righteous from the wicked. A bull, akin to the primeval Bull, will appear on earth. Mithra will immolate it and give its fat with wine to the righteous that will make them immortal. Ormazd will let his fire fall upon the wicked and end their lives. Ahriman and the demons will perish in the conflagration. The [307] will be renovated and the good will enjoy happiness time without bound.

Christianity triumphs over Mithraism. The Jews had settled in large numbers in the Roman cities. Paul, a disciple of Jesus, travelled far and wide to preach his master's faith. The religions of the East had for long time exercised great influence in Rome. Besides the Mithraic mysteries, the worship of Isis and Osiris from Egypt and the mysteries of various other systems were popular among the masses. Cultured men had ceased to believe in the ancient gods of Rome. They drew their inspiration from Greek philosophy, reproduced in the works of Cicero and Seneca. This Hellenistic-Roman philosophy was gradually losing its hold on those who thought man could not, unaided, gain divine knowledge and happiness. Man's salvation, they thought, could not be found in the world of sense. The religions from the East had long inspired all to turn their gaze from the earthly to the heavenly world, a supersensuous world, presiding over by a divinity who prescribed principles of moral conduct with divine authority and promised to give to the multitude peace and happiness in heaven, which they strove in vain to find upon earth. Pagan philosophers were vague over the belief in the future life. Christianity made it its fundamental doctrine, and entered Rome with words of comfort to all who laboured and were heavy laden in their lives of suffering upon earth. It gave them assurance of future recompense. The teachings of the new religion were eagerly listened to by the common people. New converts refused to pay divine homage to the emperor as was the prevailing custom in Rome. They were persecuted, yet the number of followers steadily grew. Periodical persecutions of the new sect drove many to martyrdom and after bitter struggle it gained a firm footing. The Roman empire was now on the decline. Christianity rose in influence after the death of Marcus Aurelius. It won a legal recognition during the early part of the fourth century. A century after Constantine, the Church became all-powerful. The disciples of Jesus won the Roman world with the gospel of love. By taking over the Hellenistic-Roman philosophy, they worked out a rational dogmatic theology that could satisfy both the spirit and the intellect.

The conversion of Constantine to Christianity was a turning [308] point in the destinies of Mithraism. The cult ceased to be recognized and was tolerated to exist. Hostility against it began under his successors and persecution followed. A reaction followed under Julian the Apostate (A.D. 361-363), who was initiated in the mysteries of Mithra in his youth and who considered himself under the protection of Mithra. He openly passed elaborate purificatory ablutions to wipe out the stains he had contracted when he had received the baptism and the communion of Christianity. As soon as he ascended the throne, he introduced Mithraic worship at Constantinople and celebrated the first taurobolia at Athens. He was the last pagan to occupy the throne of the Caesars, the last who was an ardent worshipper of Mithra. His premature death put an end to the reactionary movement. The victory of Theodosius in 394 A.D. extinguished all hopes of its revival by the aristocracy that was still faithful to the cult. Mithraism, which had originated among the enemies of Rome, remained her religion for two hundred years. It fell when it lost the protection of the State. Christianity now triumphed over its great rival. Mithraism lingered in the Alps and Vosges and in the out of the way places for considerable time. It perished, but not without leaving its mark behind, and many of its beliefs and ritualistic practices and its art influenced Christianity. The votaries of Mithra used to celebrate the birth of the Sun on December 25, because at the winter solstice light triumphed over darkness and the lengthening of the day began. The Christians chose this day as the feast of the Nativity of Christ, which is celebrated to this day.




Miracles as credentials of a prophet's mission as God's messenger. Credulity creates miracles. They are due to man's hunger for the marvellous, his disposition to believe in the impossible, and his readiness to give credence to the incredible. They flourish where childlike innocence, ignorance is ready to be duped and deluded. The faith of the masses rests on the foundation of signs and prodigies, portents and miracles. Perternatural interference with the course of nature has been a commonplace everywhere. The omnipotent God, it has always been agreed, could change anything and everything at his own free will, and so he could set aside the physical laws that govern the universe. Miracles transcend natural laws. The prophets are believed to have been endowed with the power of producing supernatural events. The multitude always look upon them to work wonders that would establish their supernatural mission. The miracles strengthen the faith of the masses in the messengers of God. The movements of the prophets are devoutly magnified into miracles and credulous persons are always found to attest, as witnesses, the working of miracles. Buddha condemned miracles in most emphatic words, yet tradition has invested him with many more miracles than have been ascribed to any other prophet. Mohammed is asked to work miracles to prove the divinity of his mission as Noah and Abraham, Moses and Jesus had done. He is asked to cause the dumb to speak, the deaf to hear, the blind to see, the dead to rise, and to change the course of nature. Mohammed replies that the Koran itself is the greatest miracle and he cannot work other miracles. Yet pious credulity, during the second generation, credits him with several miracles.

Legend grows about the prophet of Iran that obscures his personality. The Pahlavi works that give us the account of the happenings in the life of Zaratusht have been written in about [310] the ninth century, or about two thousand years after the passing away of the prophet. The holy figure has grown very distant and dim. The real events of his life have been obscured by the long centuries, particularly the five centuries of chaos that followed Alexander's conquest of Persia. The piety of the adherents of his faith has burnt so much incense in his sacred memory that his face has got almost beyond recognition. We know everything of the life of Mohammed; we know something of the lives of Buddha and Jesus; we know practically nothing of the life of Zoroaster. The materials that we have in the Pahlavi works relating to him are not historical and authentic; they are legendary and mythical. Portents herald his birth and archangels attend his nativity. Legendary accounts of the miraculous conception and birth and childhood of Zaratusht supersede the matter-of-fact information that the Gathas give. The Pahlavi writers have before them the examples of the legendary stories of the miraculous incidents connected with the lives of Moses, Buddha, and Jesus, circulated in Iran by the followers of these prophets. It is probable that their writings have been influenced by these foreign sources.

The Pahlavi works. The Spend Nask, which is lost, is said to have contained the account of the birth and childhood of Zaratusht. The materials that have been preserved in the Denkard, the Selections of Zadspram, and some scattered passages in other Pahlavi works make up the literature on the life of the prophet that came into existence during the Pahlavi period.

The classical writers of the period on Zoroaster. From the time of Porphyry, who visited Persia and wrote in the latter part of the third century, to the time of the late Latin writers, all who speak about Zoroaster reproduce in the main all that is written by the early Greek and Roman writers. Some of them have been influenced by what they heard from the Zoroastrian sectarians during their days. Porphyry, for example, quotes Eubulus and says that Zoroaster dedicated a cave to the worship of Mithra and adds that it is from the practice introduced by him that peoples conduct their holy rites in caves and grottoes.1 Photius, who wrote in the latter part of the ninth century, ascribes the Zarvanite doctrines to Zoroaster and [311] says that he represented Zaruan as the author of Hormisdas and Satan.2 The fiction that magic originated with Zoroaster persists and is repeated from the classical and patristic works by very late writers. In the Faust-legend, Zoroaster figures as the prince of magicians whose book Faust studies so diligently that he is called a second Zoroastris. This book passes into the hands of Faust's pupil Wagner, who also studies it with as much diligence as his master did.3

1. Fox and Pemberton, p. 86.

2. Ib., p. 125.

3. Remy, The Influence of India and Persia on the Poetry of Germany, p. 13, New York, 1901.

The date and place of Zaratusht. The Avestan works, we have seen, are silent over the question of the period when Zarathushtra flourished. Of the two main sources of information on this problem, namely the classical and the traditional, the latter is based on a few passages occurring in Bundahishn,4 Arda Viraf,5 and Zadspram.6 The barest information we gather from these solitary passages is that Zaratusht opened his prophetic ministry in the thirtieth year of the fabulous reign of one hundred and twenty of King Vishtaspa. The religion remained in undisturbed condition for three hundred years and in the three hundredth year of its foundation, Alexander invaded Persia. The Arabic and Persian writers reproduce this statement in their works. The repetition of this legend by a host of the later writers seems to have given it a semblance of historic data. Tradition which is oblivious of the existence of the most renowned Persian kings Cyrus and Darius and Xerxes, which confounds the later Achaemenian kings with the Kianian, which complacently accords a reign of one hundred and twenty years to Vishtaspa, which disposes of the rule of four hundred years of the Parthians in forty pages, which does not provide us with fifty pages of materials on the religious and social life of Zoroastrians during the five hundred years that intervened between Alexander and Ardashir, the founder of the Sasanian dynasty — is not a safe guide to follow. Both the classical date 6000 B.C. and the traditional date 600 B.C. are not acceptable; for its extravagance, the other for its unreliability. The date, as also the place of the birth and death of Zoroaster, will, probably never be established with any certainty, for no data [312] exist to enable us to determine them with any accuracy. These questions will, probably, ever remain questions. The safest course for a writer upon these problems is to imitate the Pahlavist and endorse the frequently repeated phrase he employs whenever confronted with any insoluble question; am lâ roshan, 'I do not know.'

4. 34. 1-9.

5. 1. 2-5.

6. 23.12.

The birth of Zaratusht. Long before the advent of Zaratusht, King Yima forewarns the demons that he will come to fight them.7 A marvellous ox, in the reign of Kaus, likewise, foretells the coming of revelation through Zaratusht.8 Preparations are made in heaven for bringing about the birth of the prophet. The Kingly Glory descends upon earth and enters the house in which lives the woman who is destined to give birth to the prophet-child. It mingles with her when she is born. Owing to the Glory that has descended upon her, she is surrounded by a luminous light. The demons mislead her father into the belief that she is bewitched. The father thereupon sends her away to the clan of the Spitamas. When she came of age she married Pourushasp.9 The demons struggle at every step to bring harm upon them, but are baffled in their vile attempts by the intervention of the heavenly beings. Vohuman, Ardwahisht, Khurdad, and Amurdad miraculously bring about the mingling of the Glory, spirit, and body of the child in the womb of the mother.10 For three nights did a hundred and fifty demons rush to the house where Dughdo lived and they struggled to destroy the child in her womb. but owing to the fire burning in her abode they failed in their foul purpose.11 For three nights before the birth of the child, the village of Pourushasp became all luminous and people marvelled at it.12 The struggle between the powers of light and darkness continues, marvels and wonders take place one after another, a divine light flashes forth from the house and in the midst of universal joy, the child is born, laughing outright at birth.13

7. Dk. SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7.2. 59-61, p. 31.

8. Zsp. 12.12, 15, 16; Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7.2. 62, 64, 67, p. 31-33.

9. Zsp. 13.4; Dk., SBE., vol. 37, bk. 8.14. 1, p. 31; vol. 47, bk. 7.2. 2-10, p. 17-19; Jackson, Zoroaster, p.24.

10. Dk. SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7. 2. 22-55, p. 23-30; Jackson, ib., p. 24, 25.

11. SLS. 10. 4.

12. Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7.2. 56-58, p. 30, 31.

13. Zsp. 14. 12. 16; Dk., SBE., vol. 37, bk. 8. 14. 2; 9. 24. 1-10, p. 31, 226-229; vol. 47, bk. 5. 2. 2, 5. p. 122, 123; bk. 7. 3. 2, 3. 25. p. 35, 41; Jackson, ib., p. 27.

[313] Zaratusht's childhood. Pourushasp is afraid and consults the wizard Durasrob about the extraordinary child. Durasrob conspires with his wicked companion Bratrakresh to kill the child. He stretches out his hand to strangle the child but finds to his dismay that his hand is miraculously withered.14 Durasrob works upon the superstitious fear of Pourushasp and frightens him with evil consequences to himself and his family if the child should grow to age. The credulous father becomes of one mind with him. A great fire is kindled and the child is thrown into it. A great wonder is manifested to the people for the fire does not burn the child.15 Durasrob devises other means of destruction and throws the child one day at the feet of oxen another day at the feet of horses, but when he is baffled in his evil intent and the oxen and horses do not kill the child, he approaches the lair of a wolf and when the mother has gone out he kills the cubs and puts the child near them. The wizard is confident that when the wolf will find on her return her cubs killed, she will mangle the child in revenge. Srosh and Vohuman guard the child and the wolf stands amazed at a distance with her mouth closed and fails to hurt the child.16 Durasrob persists in his evil work of causing injury to the child, by practising witchcraft upon it.17 At his tender age, Zaratusht enters into controversy with Durasrob and condemns him and his associates for their evil practices.18 Durasrob is ultimately baffled, acknowledges his defeat and retreats, and when he has gone a little distance, he falls from his horse and expires.19

14. Zsp. 16. 2. 3; Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7. 3. 4-6. p. 35, 36; Jackson ib., p. 28.

15. Zsp. 16. 7; Dk., SBE., vol. 47. bk. 7. 3. 8-10, p. 36, 37; Jackson, ib., p. 29.

16. Zsp. 16.5. 6, 8-11; Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7. 3. 11-19, p. 37-40; bk. 5. 2. 4, p. 122, 123; Jackson, ib., p. 29.

17. Dk., SBE., vol. 47. bk. 7.3. 33, p. 43; Jackson, ib., p. 31.

18. Zsp. 17. 1-6; Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7. 3. 34-43, p. 43-45; Jackson, ib., p. 31.

19. Zsp. 19. 7. 8; Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7. 3. 44, 45, p. 45, 46; Jackson, ib., p. 32.

Zaratusht's youth. The Avestan and Pahlavi works declare the age of fifteen as the proper time of puberty for both boys and girls.20 When Zaratusht was fifteen years of age he passed through the ceremony of the investiture with the sacred girdle.21 In all ages when everybody lives for himself there is somebody [314] who lives for all. That somebody in the settlements of Pourushasp was Zaratusht, who chose to live for all. From chidhood, kindliness, sympathy, mercy, and generosity had written their marks on his face. He radiated benevolence around him. He shed joy and happiness on all who came near him, and com­municated his goodness to them. He had boundless sympathy and love for all the poor and could not bear to see them suffer. He had keen ears for the suppressed sighs and silent sorrows of suffering humanity. He practised liberality and generosity, he nourished the poor, and gave fodder to cattle, he saved the lives of those in peril of losing it.22 According to the custom of the times, his father Pourushasp selected a bride for him, but he requested that he should himself see her face to face and converse with her.23 He leaves the house of his parents in search of knowledge and righteousness.24 The Pahlavi texts do not give us any details of the years that he spent in acquiring wisdom and practising righteousness. He thought and inquired and studied and began to live the heavenly life upon earth and piously strove to become the ideal expression of Ormazd in bodily life.

20. Y9.5; Yt14.17; Vd14.15; Dk., vol. 15, bk. 8.19.95, p. 79.

21. Zsp. 20.1.2.

22. Zsp. 20.4,6, 10,11, 14-16; Jackson, Cf., p. 32, 33.

23. Zsp. 20. 12, 13.

24. Zsp. 20.7.

Zaratusht meets Vohuman. In the thirtieth year of his life Zaratusht was one day going to attend the celebration of the season festival. Weary of walking he rested awhile on a solitary plain, when he saw in a vision a concourse of people headed by his cousin Medyomah come victoriously to greet him.25 One morning he happened to cross four channels of the river Daiti in order to fetch water for the performance of the Hom cere­mony. As he came out from the water and was putting on his clothes, his sight fell upon a handsome man in resplendent raiment bearing in his hands a spiritual staff, emblematic of re­ligion. He was Vohuman, the heavenly premier of Ormazd. He accosted Zaratusht and asked him who he was and what was his desire. Zaratusht thereupon gave him his acquaintance and said that he was in search of righteousness and added that he was not only in quest of righteousness but also of the very source from which righteousness originates. Vohuman readily ac­quiesced and said that he would take him to the most beneficent lord who was the heavenly father of both of them. Then they [315] marched onward, Vohuman walked first and Zaratusht followed. As they walked together, Zaratusht saw that Vohuman was as tall as three men's spears and that he had to take ninety steps to cover the space that Vohuman did in nine steps. As they came within twenty-four feet of the Amshaspands, Zaratusht could not see his own shadow on the ground, for so great was their brilliance.26

25. Zsp. 21. 1-3; Jackson, ib., p. 40.

26. Zsp. 21. 4-13; Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7. 3. 51-61; 4. 29; Jackson, ib., p. 36, 40, 41.

Zaratusht confers with Ormazd. When Zaratusht ap­proached the august assembly, he paid homage to Ormazd and the Amshaspands and took his seat among the inquirers. In the conversation that follows, Zaratusht puts questions and Ormazd gives his replies. Ormazd explains to him the excellence of the triad of good thoughts, good words, and good deeds and the mode of best conduct. Ormazd further acquaints him with the existence and nature of the two primeval spirits. Zaratusht gets the beatific vision of the omniscient wisdom of Ormazd three times during the day and the remaining six Amshaspands exhibit to him the three ordeals by fire, molten metal, and knife. He is made to walk three steps on fire reciting the words, 'good thoughts, good words, and good deeds,' and he is not burnt. Hot metal is, likewise, poured on his chest and he is not hurt. In the third ordeal, the vital parts of his body are cut with a knife so as to let the blood flow from the wound, which is healed by passing hands over it. These ordeals, Zaratusht is told, are to be undergone by the leaders of religion to prove the steadfastness of their faith when occasions demand it of them.27

27. Zsp. 21. 14-27; 22. 2; Jackson, ib., p. 42.

Zaratusht's seven conferences with the Amshaspands. When Zaratusht returns from his conference with the Amsha­spands, he opens his ministry and begins to unfold his divine mes­sage to mankind. The Kiks and Karaps opposed him and he rebuked and repudiated them in strong terms. The disbelievers clamour for his death, but the Turanian Aurvaitadang saves him.28 Ahriman and the demons assail Zaratusht and contem­plate his death. Zaratusht routs them and buries them in the earth by the recital of the Ahunwar.29

28. Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7. 4. 1-20; Jackson, ib., p. 42, 43.

29. Dk., SBE., vol. 47. bk. 7. 4. 36-45.

During the first decade of his ministry, Zaratusht had altogether [316] seven conferences individually with each of the Amshaspands at different places. In these conferences, each Amshaspand exhorts Zaratusht to teach mankind to preserve and pro­tect the particular material creation that is under his protection. Vohuman thus pleads for the proper maintenance of animals, Ardwahisht for fire, Shahrewar for metals, Spandarmad for earth, Khurdad for water, and Amurdad for plants.30

30. Zsp. 22. 1, 3-12; Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7. 4. 1, p. 50; vol. 37, bk. 8. 14. 3, p. 31, 32; Jackson, ib., p. 46-49.

Zaratusht at the court of king Vishtasp. Zaratusht at the court of king Vishtasp. At the tenth year of his ministry and at the close of his conferences with the Amshaspands, Zaratusht wins his first convert.31 Greater triumph, however, is now in store for the prophet of Ormazd. He is led by Ormazd himself to the court of king Vishtasp, where he suc­ceeds in winning over the king and his courtiers by means of his persuasive preaching, the presentation of the testimony of the Amshaspands for the truth of his doctrines and by the working of many miracles.32 The Kiks and Karaps at the court of Vish­tasp were alarmed at the prophet's success. They challenged him to prove the truth of his utterances and propounded thirty-three questions to him. Zaratusht answered them to the satisfaction of all present and to the utter embarrassment of the disputants. The unscrupulous priests of the old faith thereupon tried to ruin Zaratusht's influence at the royal court by intrigues. They arraigned him before the king and succeeded in getting him im­prisoned. Zaratusht worked a wonder upon the favourite horse of Vishtasp and obtained his release.33

31.Zsp. 23. 1,2,8.

32. Sg. 10. 64-66; Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7. 4. 64-66, 71, p. 64-66; bk. 5. 2. 8, p. 75. 76; Jackson, ib., p. 57-59, 62.

33. Zsp. 23. 5; Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7. 4. 67, 69, 71, 73, p. 65-67; 5. 6, p. 75.

Ormazd then sent Vohuman, Artavahisht and the Fire Burzin Mitra to the court of Vishtasp to plead on behalf of the prophet and his religion. Confusion and terror overtook the king and courtiers and they began to tremble at the sight of the august personages. But the Fire of Ormazd assured them that they were not the emissaries of Iran's enemy, Arjasp and the Khyons, come to demand tribute from them, nor had they come to rob the king of his possessions, but they were deputed by Ormazd himself. The heavenly envoys advised the king to ex­tend his royal patronage to the new religion. They promised [317] him a long reign and a long life of one hundred and fifty years and an immortal son. They warned him at the same time of the evil that would fall upon him if he did not embrace the faith. In pious obedience to the divine behest, Vishtasp adopts the religion of Zaratusht. Ormazd thereupon commands Neryosang to hasten to the court of Vishtasp with the elixir of life and asks Artavahisht to hand it to the king. The archangel puts the elixir in a beautiful saucer and asks the king to quaff it. On drinking the lifegiving potion, the king falls in a trance and sees marvellous things of the celestial world. He now asks his royal consort to accept the faith, which she readily does. The triumph of the new religion is achieved.34 Faithful to his undertaking, Vishtasp lives and works and fights for the religion. His brother and sons go to India and other distant places to propagate the new faith.35

34. Bd. 17. 8; Zsp. 23. 7; Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7. 74-86, p. 67-71 p. 77; 6. 13, p. 81; vol. 37, bk. 8. 11.2, 3, p. 24; Jackson, ib. p. 65-67.

35. Sg. 10.67,68.

The passing away of the prophet. Zaratusht lives for forty-seven years after he receives the revelation. He spreads right­eousness, puts down witchcraft, and fights wickedness.36 The texts say he possessed the knowledge of medicine, law, and all kinds of earthly and heavenly wisdom.37 He visualizes the future of his religion in a trance.38 He had children by holy wedlock. Of these three will be miraculously born in the future as millen­nial prophets.39 Bratraresh, the Turanian foe of Zaratusht and his religion, killed him when he was seventy-seven years of age.40

36. Dk., SBE , vol. 47, bk. 7. 4. 72, p. 66.

37. Dk., SBE., vol. 47, bk. 7. 5. 8, 9, p. 75. 76.

38. BYt. 2. 6-9.

39. Jackson, ib., p. 20, 21. 40. Zsp. 23. 9; Dd. 72. 8; Sd. 9. 5: BYt. 2. 3-5; Dk., SBE., vol. 5. 3. 2; 7. 5.1; 7. 6. 1, p. 73, 74, 77, 126. 165; Jackson, ib., p. 127-129.

Avesta -- Zoroastrian Archives Contents Prev history4 Next Glossary