Gayomart, literally ‘dying life,’ in Persian mythology, is the primeval man, the creator of Ahura Mazda. Gayomart was a spirit form for 3000 years before taking the corporeal form of a handsome youth. After living thirty years he was poisoned by Ahriman at the instigation of Jeh, ‘the whore.’
It was from his seed that grew the plant-like the father and mother of humankind. Mashye and Mashyand, who forsook Ahura Mazda for Ahriman, were damned in hell until the last days.
The myth of Gayomart
The myth of Gayomart is the myth of the Primal Man. According to Zoroastrian tradition Gayomart was created immediately after the Primal Bull that was to supply him with food and help him.
These two primal beings stood on the banks of the river which flowed from the center of the world, the good Daiti. Here they are attacked by Ahriman for they have withstood his attempys to spread world-wide destruction. Ohrrmazd foreseeing the Bull’s death administers an soporific to ease the pain.
First the Bull is killed, then Gayomart, who foretells as he dies, that despite of his death the human race will be born.
Immediately Ahrimad delights at his apparent triumph over Ohrmazd, but the latter has subtler plan’s for Ahriman’s ultimate demise.
The death of both the Bull and Gayomart ensured the fertility of life on earth. Eventually from the Bull’s blood springs forth all vegetation; from its seed (carried to the Moon) come all animals.
And, where Gayomart was slain, on the spot, his seed fertilized the earth, and forty years later a plant shot up, splitting into gave forth two persons, a male and a female.
It may be mentioned the myth has the mark of antiquity as it contains the role a deceitful demon as do many myths surrounding the origin of humankind. Similarly, it involves the theme of the two sexes. A factor peculiarly Iranian, but completely opposed to Zoroastrian doctrine, which postulates good cannot come from evil, is that the demon is called Ahriman.
Equally interesting in the myth is the description of the fertilization of the seed of Gayomart that signifies a consanguineous marriage, which antiquity regarded as an Iranian custom.
Those civilizations recognizing the possibility of the fertilization of the earth by man, or the first incestuous act between brother and sister to give birth to humankind, looked no further than this myth.
The plant, resulting from Gayomart’s fertilization of the earth, and its splitting to give forth the male and female possibly indicates the origin of the theory that the human race came from an androgynous being.
Also, it should be noted the crescent shape of the moon is referred to in the myth. This is accomplished through the preservation of the Bull’s seed in the moon; and the moon’s crescent is resembled in the horns of the ox.
This concept is inspired in Iranian text as it is in several Indian texts. A.G.H.
Grimal, Pierre, Larousse World Mythology, Secaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1965, pp. 200-201