Skip to content

Yazatas is the collective name for all divine beings, according to Zoroastrianism, they are direct or indirect emanations of Ahura Mazda, and are considered "Beings worthy of worship." Although the title Amesha Spentass may be applied to any of these divinities, Yazatas is usually reserved for the lesser ones. A.G.H. Sources: Boyce, Mary, Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, New ...continue reading "Yazatas"


Yazatas is the collective name for all divine beings, according to Zoroastrianism, they are direct or indirect emanations of Ahura Mazda, and are considered "Beings worthy of worship." Although the title Amesha Spentass may be applied to any of these divinities, Yazatas is usually reserved for the lesser ones. A.G.H.


Sources:

Boyce, Mary, Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, New York, Routledge, 2002, pp. 21, 22


Vohu Manah, in Pahlavi: Vohuman, or Good Spirit, ensures the presence of God in the soul of the just, and leads them to Paradise. His equivalent is the bovine (the bull or cow which provides the urine or milk to be mixed with the homa of the sacrifice). He is lord of fifth creation, the cow or animal.

According to Zoroaster Vohu Manah was the shining Being whom, in his vision, he saw on the river bank that led him to Ahura MazdaA.G.H.


Sources:

Boyce, Mary, Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, New York, Routledge, 2002, p. 19
Grimal, Pierre, Larousse World Mythology, Secaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1965, p. 190

 


The specific concept of time in both Iran and India is described as being composed of three successive or connecting phases: the succession of events (infinite time); the wearing away or erosion of beings, their transformation and death; and their greater or lesser renewal according to the prevailing concept of time as cyclic or linear (finite time). Such a concept, although philosophic, harmoniously connects two types of myth: first is the myth of the creation of the world in three phrases, the universal creation of good and evil; the intermingling of the two forces; and the separation and the final triumph of good. The second type of myth, proceeding Zoroastrianism, is divided into epochs, where each epoch is corrupted but is turned back by one of the three sons of Zoroaster born of a virgin who bathed in a lake where the father's seed was preserved. The first myth stems more from a moral concept; whereas the second from the physical concepts of erosion and degeneration, and the fusion of the two is natural. In India, the second dominated, while in Iran, it was the first minus much explanation for the existence of evil since it existed before the creation of the world (Grimal 195).

Perhaps the myth of Zurvan (Time) can help to explain Zoroaster's basic concept of his religion, Zoroastrianism. The concept is of good constantly in combat with evil; Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainya in a continual struggle. In the myth, Zurvan , through the supreme god, has been offering sacrifices for a thousand years in order to obtain a son. In the end, when he doubts the efficacy of his actions Angr Mainya is conceived as a result of the father's doubt while Ahira Mazda comes from the merits of the sacrifices. While still in Time's androgynous womb Angra Mainya realizes the first to be born enjoys the privileges of kingship, so he hastens to enter the world first before his twin brother. Zurvan, with his plans thwarted, can only wait with the assurance that in the end good would prevail (Grimal).

The myth of Zurvan appears to answer previously purposed questions: in the initial paragraph it was stated that Iran held to the first myth accounting for the creation of the world without much explanation of the existence of evil that existed before the world's creation. This raises the first question, why did Iran, particularly Zoroaster, hold so steadfastly to this myth. The second question which the Zurvan myth seems to answer is how or why Zoroaster was so certain the twins would be constant combatants; Zoroaster confirms his certainty of this in his teaching that Ahura Mazda, through his wisdom, knew if he became Creator and fashioned the world, then the Hostile Spirit would attack it because it was good, and it would become a battleground for the two forces, but in the end he, God, would win the great struggle there and be able to destroy evil, and establish a universe which would be wholly good forever (Boyce 21).

The answers to both questions seem to rest upon the Zurvan myth itself and both answers seem to merge into one: Zoroaster, knowing the myth, believed evil did exist before the creation of the world since he gives no description of the origin of the two forces; for him, they always seemed to exist, and this was the way he explained evil in the world. This can be observed both from the myth and his teaching. In the myth the Hostile Spirit, Angra Mainya, conceived from doubt was hostile by nature before birth. Zoroaster's teaching only emphasizes this "Ahura Mazda, through his wisdom, knew if he became Creator and fashioned the world, then the Hostile Spirit would attack it because it was good, and it would become a battleground for the two forces…" Ahura Mazda knew, from this statement, that if he became Creator and fashioned the world, meaning this was prior to the creation of the world, that the Hostile Spite, evil by nature, would attack it, the world, because it was good, and it would become the battleground for the two forces. Simply, Zoroaster believed and taught that the two combatant forces of good and evil which existed before the creation of the world would continue their battle within the world, which also aided his explanation of the evil that existed in the world. His further teaching was that good would finally conquer evil. A.G.H.


Sources:

Boyce, Mary, Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, New York, Routledge, 2002
Grimal, Pierre, Larousse World Mythology, Secaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1965

 


Thraetona conquered Dahaka, whom he chained to Mount Demavand who Kersasp was to kill at the end of the world, is important in the role as the universal king. When he divides the world between his three sons, Salm, Toz, and Erji, he grants them wishes. The first asks for wealth, the second for valiance, and the third for law and religion, for the khwarenah of the kavi, religious leader, lay upon him. So Erji receives the better part of the world, Iran and India, while Salm obtains the lands of the West, and Toz those of the East. This preferential treatment accorded to the youngest don caused jealousy within his brothers, and his death.

The importance of this myth is that it combines the Indo-European theme that the three brothers, with their wishes, chose closely bound social orders and the division of the world. A.G.H.


Source:

Grimal, Pierre, Larousse World Mythology, Secaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1965, p. 201

 

 


Sroash is a lesser divinity who personifies Obedience and also is the guardian of prayer. He along with others were invoked by Zoroaster a number of times as the 'other Ahuras' in the Gathas. Sraosh accompanying Mithra and Rashnu held the scales of justice which judge the soul according to previous thoughts, words, and acts to determine whether it was worthy to enter Paradise.

This divinity also was the genius of hearing and mediator between God and man. Sroash is the divine messenger most often mentioned in the Shah Nana. He presided over getig (physical world) just as Ohrrmazd rules over menog (spiritual world). Sroash acts as a psycho-pomp to the dying, and an observance of three days after the death is dedicated to him. A.G.H.


Sources:

Boyce, Mary, Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, New York, Routledge, 2002, pp.

 


Spenta Mainyu is the Holy Spirit of Ahura Mazda. In Zoroaster's initial vision the first act which he conceived Ahura Mazda performing was the evocation of the six lesser divinities through his Holy Spirit, Spenta Mainyu.

It has been theorized by some scholars, particularly Maneckji Dhalla, that Ahura Mazda was hypothetically the father of the twin Spirits (Y 30.3), Spenta Mainyu and Angra Mainya. However, when assuming that this is true one abandons the absolute doctrine of the separation of good and evil. A.G.H.


Source:

Boyce, Mary, Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, New York, Routledge, 2002, pp. 21, 213

 


Rashnu accompanying Mithra and Sraosh held the scales of justice which judge the soul according to previous thoughts, words, and acts to determine whether it was worthy to enter Paradise. A.G.H.


Sources:

Boyce, Mary, Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, New York, Routledge, 2002, p. 27

 


Ohrmazd (Ahura Mazda) precedes the Amesha Spentas as spiritual beings in the Persian pantheon. He is acknowledged as the Lord of Wisdom and the oldest of the Ahuras. In the Greek pantheon Ahuramazda (another spelling) was depicted as ZeusA.G.H.


Sources:

Boyce, Mary, Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, New York, Routledge, 2002, pp. 9, 82
Grimal, Pierre, Larousse World Mythology, Secaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1965, p. 191

 


Khsathra Vairya, Desirable Dominion, or Ksathra (Power), is third in the hierarchy, and would appear to be concerned with war since he protects metals, but according to the Bundahishn his role is the defender of the poor. This is partially due because of the radical change which the role mythology of war underwent in Zoroastrian Persia (see Zoroastrianism); the role of warrior was reduced to protector of the unfortunate. If Khsathra military engaged it was to defend royalty, defend peace and promote religion.

Khshathra likewise is said to represent both the power which each person should rightfully exert for righteousness in the present life, and also the power of the kingdom of God. He is the lord of the hard sky of stone, which arches protectively over the earth. His was the first festival, Maydhyoizaremaya, held in his honor and the creation of the sky.

Khshathra presented a problem to the scholar-priests because of his guardianship of both the sky of stone and men as warriors. The problem really resided in his designation as protector of metals; with the emergence of the use of bronze, this no longer meant just stone but iron as well. The priests' ingenious solution evolved when they identified the stone of the sky as rock-crystal; a substance which they felt could be called a metal since it came out of the vein of rock. Thus, to their satisfaction, Khshathra could still be venerated as lord of the crystal sky and protector of metals. A.G.H.


Sources:

Boyce, Mary, Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, New York, Routledge, 2002, pp. 22, 33, 41
Grimal, Pierre, Larousse World Mythology, Secaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1965, p. 190

 


Haurvata, Health or Wholeness is lord of the second creation, water. A.G.H.


Sources:

Boyce, Mary, Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, New York, Routledge, 2002, p. 23
Grimal, Pierre, Larousse World Mythology, Secaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1965, p. 190