Amesha spentas

The Amesha Spentas, often translated as «Holy Immortals,» are indeed central figures in ancient Iranian theology and Zoroastrianism, the religion based on the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra). These entities represent a unique and complex aspect of Iranian religious cosmology and mythology. Here are some key aspects of the Amesha Spentas:

  • Nature of Amesha Spentas: They occupy a unique position in the Zoroastrian pantheon. While they are divine and possess god-like qualities, they are not gods in the traditional sense. Instead, they are seen as divine emanations or aspects of Ahura Mazda, the supreme deity in Zoroastrianism. This reflects a monotheistic tendency in Zoroastrianism, where all divine aspects emanate from a single supreme being.
  • Role in Creation: The Amesha Spentas were created by Ahura Mazda and play a crucial role in the creation and maintenance of the physical and moral aspects of the universe. Each Amesha Spenta is associated with a particular aspect of creation and a moral or spiritual virtue.
  • Association with Natural Elements: While they preside over significant natural features and elements, such as fire, water, earth, and air, they are not identified with these elements in a pantheistic sense. Instead, they are seen as guardians or patrons of these elements, reflecting Zoroastrianism’s deep respect for the natural world.
  • Moral and Ethical Dimensions: Each Amesha Spenta is also associated with specific moral and ethical principles. For instance, they are often linked to aspects like truth, righteousness, and benevolence. This association reflects the dualistic nature of Zoroastrianism, where the forces of good and evil are in constant conflict, and moral virtues play a key role in this cosmic struggle.
  • Cultural and Religious Significance: The Amesha Spentas are central to Zoroastrian worship and theology. They are invoked in prayers and rituals and are seen as intermediaries between Ahura Mazda and humanity, helping to guide and protect individuals and the community as a whole.

 

In Zoroastrianism the doctrine of the seven Amesha Spentas and the seven creations was to inspire in man a deep sense of responsibility for the world around him.

Each Spenta is chief of his creation, but is bound to the other six by a shared sense of purpose, which, for all Spentas, is striving for a common goal, man consciously and the rest naturally, for which they were brought into existence for to utterly defeat evil.

These entities are called the Yazatas, venerables, and are six in number. It must be noted here, in order not to cause confusion, that Ahura Mazda is believed not first in rank and outside of the group of six, but at the same time is considered the first of seven.

It is proven by the fact that his «worldly» equivalent is the «just» man, over whom this god presides as his own particular domain, while the equivalent for Vohu Manah is the bovine (the bull or cow which provides the urine or milk to be mixed with the homa of the sacrifice).

The six entities are Vohu ManahAsha VahishtaKhsathra Vairya, Haurvatat, Armati, and Ameretat. A.G.H.


Sources:

Boyce, Mary, Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, New York, Routledge, 2002, p. 24
Grimal, Pierre, Larousse World Mythology, Secaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1965, p. 190
Settegast, Mary, Plato Prehistorian, Cambridge, MA, The Rotenberg Press, 1986, p. 221