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Zoroastrianism

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Zoroastrianism is the religion and philosophy based on the teachings ascribed to the prophet Zoroaster (Zarathushtra, Zartosht). ... Faravahar, The depiction of the Human soul before birth and after death. ...

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Ahura Mazda
Zarathustra (Zoroaster) Zoroastrianism is the religion and philosophy based on the teachings ascribed to the prophet Zoroaster (Zarathushtra, Zartosht). ... Ahura Mazda is the Avestan language name for an exalted divinity of ancient proto-Iranian religion that was subsequently declared by Zarathustra (Zoroaster) to be the one uncreated creator of all (God). ... Zoroaster, in a popular Parsi Zoroastrian depiction. ...

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Angra Mainyu Zoroastrian angelology is branch of Zoroastrian doctrine that deals with the hierarchical system of divinities introduced by the reforms of Zarathustra (Zoroaster). ... In Zoroastrianism, Amesha Spentas are the Holy Immortals, the equivalent of Archangels in Christian theology. ... In Zoroastrianism, the yazatas are supernatural beings created by Ahura Mazda to help him fight the evil forces of Ahriman and keep the world in order. ... Ahura is the Avestan language designation for a class of divinity, adopted by Zarathustra (Zoroaster) from prehistoric proto-Indo-Iranian religion. ... A div is an evil spirit in Persian mythology that loves to cause harm and destruction. ... Angra Mainyu (Avestan) or Ahriman (Middle Persian اهريمن) is the Evil equivalent of the deity Ahura Mazda in Zoroastrianism. ...

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Avesta · Gathas
The Ahuna Vairya Invocation
Fire Temples
See Avesta Municipality for the Swedish town Yasna 28. ... The Gathas are the most sacred of the texts of the Zoroastrian faith, and are traditionally believed to have been composed by Zarathushtra (Zoroaster) himself. ... Ahuna Vairya is the Avestan language name of the most sacred of the Gathic hymns of the Avesta, the revered texts of Zoroastrianism. ... The Yazd Atash Behram A Fire Temple (also Dar-e Mihr in Persian در مهر, or Atash Kadeh آتشکده in Iran, Agiary in India, and various names in North America) is a place of worship for Zoroastrians. ...

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Dēnkard
Book of Arda Viraf
Qissa-i Sanjan
The Denkard is the largest encyclopedia of Zoroastrianism written in 9th century. ... The Book of Arda Viraf is a Zoroastrian religious text which describes the dream-journey of a devout Zoroastrian through the next world. ... The Qissa-i Sanjan (or Kisse-i Sanjan, the Story of Sanjan) is an account of the early years of Zoroastrian settlers on the Indian subcontinent. ...

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Zurvanism
Medes · Achaemenids
Sassanids
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Zurvan is the Persian god of infinite time, space and fate. ... The Medes(ancient Kurdistan) were an Iranian people, who lived in the north, western, and northwestern portions of present-day Iran, and roughly the areas of present day Tehran, Hamedan, Azarbaijan, north of Esfahan, Zanjan, and Kurdistan. ... Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Dynasty was a dynasty in the ancient Persian Empire, including Cyrus II the Great, Darius I and Xerxes I. At the height of their power, the Achaemenid rulers of Persia ruled over territories roughly emcompassing some parts of todays Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon... Head of king Shapur II (Sasanian dynasty A.D. 4th century). ... The Zoroastrian calendar is a religious calendar used by members of the Zoroastrian faith, and it is an approximation of the (tropical) solar calendar. ... Zoroastrianism eschatology is the oldest eschatology in recorded history. ...

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Parsis · Iranis
Zoroastrians in Iran This article is about (members of) the Parsi Zoroastrian community in and from India. ... Irani is a term used to denote Indian Zoroastrians whose ancestors emigrated from Iran within the last two centuries, as opposed to the longer residing Parsis. ... Zoroastrian Fire Temple in Yazd Zoroastrians in Iran have had a long history, being the oldest religious community of that nation to survive to the present-day. ...

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Vahrām or Bahrām (modern Persian, var: Behrām; middle Persian: Warahran) is the Zoroastrian concept of "victory over resistance" and, as the hypostasis of victory, is one of the principal figures in the Zoroastrian pantheon of yazatas. Zoroastrianism is the religion and philosophy based on the teachings ascribed to the prophet Zoroaster (Zarathushtra, Zartosht). ... A hypostatic object, also known in certain senses as an abstract object or a formal object, is an object of discussion or thought that results as the normal product of a process of hypostatic abstraction. ... In Zoroastrianism, the yazatas are supernatural beings created by Ahura Mazda to help him fight the evil forces of Ahriman and keep the world in order. ...


Bahram's alter ego in the Avesta is Dāmōiš Upamana, and in the Bahram Yasht is addressed as Verethragna (Vɘrɘθraγna), meaning 'smiting of resistance', related to Avestan verethra, 'obstacle' and verethragnan, 'victorious'. (Gnoli, 2002:510/512) See Avesta Municipality for the Swedish town Yasna 28. ...


Although exact correspondences are lacking, parallels have been drawn between the highly complex figure of Bahram/Verethragna and (variously) Armenian Vahagn and Vram, Vedic Indra, Puranic Vishnu, Sogdian Wshn, Parthian Wryhrm, Manichean Adamas, Chaldean/Babylonian Nergal, Kushan Orlagno, Egyptian Horus, Hellenic Ares and the Greek hero Heracles. This article needs to be wikified. ... Indra is also the name of a song by the Thievery Corporation. ... Vishnu (IAST , Devanagari , with honorific Shri Vishnu; , ), is a form of god or idol, in Hinduism and its mythology. ... The name Nergal (or Nirgal, Nirgali) refers to a deity in Babylonia with the main seat of his cult at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim. ... Horus is an ancient god of Egyptian mythology, whose cult survived so long that he evolved dramatically over time and gained many names. ... In Greek mythology, Ares (battle strife; in Greek, Άρης)[1] is the son of Zeus (king of the gods) and Hera. ... Hercules, a Roman bronze (Louvre Museum) For other uses, see Heracles (disambiguation). ...

Contents


In the Avesta

In the Bahram Yasht

In the texts of the Avesta, in particular in the Bahram Yasht, which is one of the older sections of the Younger Avesta, Bahram has the attributes of a mighty force that overcomes all resistance. There, Bahram is addressed as Verethragna, "one who smote Verethra" or "the most highly armed" (Yasht 14.1), the "best equipped with might" (14.13), with "effervescent glory" (14.3), has "conquering superiority" (14.64), and is in constant battle with men and daemons (14.4, 14.62). See Avesta Municipality for the Swedish town Yasna 28. ...


However, also evident in the Bahram Yasht, Bahram/Verethragna was not exclusively associated with military might and victory. So, for instance, he connected with sexual potency and "confers virility" (Yasht 14.29), has the "ability to heal" (14.3) and "renders wonderful". The Yasht begins with an enumeration of the ten forms in which the divinity appears: As an impetuous wind (14.2-5); as an armed warrior (14.27) and as an adolescent of fifteen (14.17); and in the remaining seven forms as animals: a bull with horns of gold (14.7); a white horse with ears and a muzzle of gold (14.9); a camel in heat (14.11-13); a boar (14.15); a bird of prey (veregna, 14.19-21); a ram (14.23); and a wild goat (14.25). Many of these incarnations are also shared with other divinities, for instance, the youth, the bull and the horse are also attributed to Tishtrya. Likewise, the bird, the camel and the wind to Vayu/Vata, another member of the Zoroastrian pantheon associated with martial victory.


In other texts

Together with Čistā, Verethragna is a principal companion of Mithra (Mihr Yasht 10.70). Several sections of the Bahram Yasht also appear in hymns dedicated to other divinities, but it is rarely possible to determine in which direction those sections were copied. This article is about the Zoroastrian yazata Mithra (Miθra). ...


In culture and tradition

In the Zoroastrian hierarchy

In the Zoroastrian hierarchy of angels, Bahram is a helper of Asha Vahishta (Avestan, middle Persian: Ardvahisht), the Amesha Spenta responsible for the luminaries. In the Zoroastrian calendar instituted during the late Achaemenid era (648–330 BCE), the twentieth day of the month is dedicated to Bahram (Siroza 1.20). In Zoroastrianism, Amesha Spentas are the Holy Immortals, the equivalent of Archangels in Christian theology. ... The Zoroastrian calendar is a religious calendar used by members of the Zoroastrian faith, and it is an approximation of the (tropical) solar calendar. ... The Persepolis Ruins The Achaemenid dynasty (Old Persian:Hakamanishiya, Persian: هخامنشیان) - was a dynasty in the ancient Persian Empire. ...


In the later middle Persian texts Bahram is especially venerated as the seventh of the Amesha Spentas, effectively giving him the rank of an archangel for his success in driving back Angra Mainyu from hell (de Menasce, 1948:5-18; loc. Cit. Gnoli, 2002:513). In Zoroastrianism, Amesha Spentas are the Holy Immortals, the equivalent of Archangels in Christian theology. ... Angra Mainyu (Avestan) or Ahriman (Middle Persian اهريمن) is the Evil equivalent of the deity Ahura Mazda in Zoroastrianism. ...


As the name of a planet

In the astronomical and calendrical reforms of the Sassanids (205-651 CE), the planet Mars was named Bahram. Zaehner attributes this to the syncretic influences of the Chaldean astral-theological system, where Babylonian Nergal is both the god of war and the name of the red planet. (Zaehner, 1955:147ff.; see also: "Fatalistic" Zurvanism). The Sassanid Empire or Sassanian Empire (Persian: Sasanian) is the name used for the fourth Iranian dynasty, and the second Persian Empire (226 - 651). ... Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the solar system, named after the Roman god of war (the counterpart of the Greek Ares), on account of its blood red color as viewed in the night sky. ... Chaldean can refer to an ancient people of lower Mesopotamia and their culture, or a contemporary Christian people living mostly in Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Iran, as well as a relativley widespread diaspora concentrated in the western world. ... The name Nergal (or Nirgal, Nirgali) refers to a deity in Babylonia with the main seat of his cult at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim. ... Zurvan is the Persian god of infinite time, space and fate. ...


In the name of a class of fire

According to Boyce, the present-day expression Atash-Behram as the name of the most sacred class of fires is a confusion of the adjectival "Victorious Fire" with "Fire of Bahram" (Boyce, 1997:222ff). The former is the way it appears in Middle Persian inscriptions such as the Kartir inscription at Kabah-i Zardusht, while the latter is what is now understood by the term Atash-Behram. See also Atar, Mauritania. ...


In art and iconography

The only evidence of a cult appears in Strabo's Geographika, who reports, probably on authority of Nearchus, that the Karmanians worshipped a divinity of victory (Geographika, 15.2.14). Whether this god was Bahram/Verethragna is unlikely if, as per Strabo, he was their only god. However, the account does reveal that divinities of war were not unknown to the people who were not of the Iranian plateau, evidence for which also comes from Herodotus (4.59.62). the Greek georgapher Strabo, in a 16th‑century engraving. ... Nearchus (or Nearchos) was one of the officers in the army of Alexander the Great. ... Bust of Herodotus at Naples Herodotus of Halicarnassus (Greek: , Herodotos) was a historian who lived in the 5th century BC (484 BC-ca. ...


Under the Seleucids (330–150 BCE) and Aracids (250 BCE–226 CE), that is, in the Empires influenced by Hellenic culture, Verethragna was both identified as Ares and associated with Heracles, and given the Greek name Artagnes (Duchesne-Guillemin, 1984). This syncretism is well attested in statuary and iconography, most notably in that of the inscription of Antiochus I Theos of Commagene, in which all three names occur together. The Seleucid Empire was a Hellenistic successor state of Alexander the Greats dominion. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... In Greek mythology, Ares (battle strife; in Greek, Άρης)[1] is the son of Zeus (king of the gods) and Hera. ... Hercules, a Roman bronze (Louvre Museum) For other uses, see Heracles (disambiguation). ... Antiochus I Theos Dikaios Epiphanes Philorhomaios Philhellen (69–40 BC), was the most important king of the small Armenian kingdom of Commagene, which was situated in a region that is now in south-eastern Turkey and currently inhabited largely by ethnic Kurds. ...


That Bahram was considered the patron divinity of travelers is perhaps reflected by the life-size rock sculpture of the divinity on the main highway at Behistun. There Bahram reclines with a goblet in his hand, a club at his feet and a lion-skin beneath him.


In the early Sassanid period Bahram is still represented as the Greek Heracles. In the relief of Ardeshir I at Naqs-e Rajab III, Bahram appears as one of the two smaller figures between Ahura Mazda and the king. There, he is has a lion's skin in his left hand and brandishes a club in his right. The other small figure - who appears to be paying homage to Bahram - is the future king Bahram I. Ahura Mazda is the Avestan language name for an exalted divinity of ancient proto-Iranian religion that was subsequently declared by Zarathustra (Zoroaster) to be the one uncreated creator of all (God). ... Bahram I, was king of Persia (AD 274-277). ...


Bahram also appears as wings, or as a bird of prey, in the crowns of the Sassanid kings. This iconography first appears in the crown of Bahram II which also bears the name of the divinity. A similar image is adopted by Piroz (whose name also means 'victorious') as well as by Khosrau Parwez (again, Parwez meaning 'ever victorious'). Similarly, boar and eagle heads on caps crown the heads of princes. Boar figures are widespread in Sassanid art, appearing in everything from textiles to stucco and in silver ornaments, coins, and seals. Other animal motifs have been found that recall the aspects of Bahram (see the ten forms of Bahram in the Avesta, above). The bird motif on Sassanid-era fire altars are also believed to represent Bahram. Bahram II, king of Persia (277-294), son of Bahram I. During his reign the emperor Carus attacked the Persians and conquered Ctesiphon (283), but died by the plague. ... Khosrau II, the Victorious (Parvez), king of Persia, son of Hormizd IV, grandson of Khosrau I, 590 - 628. ...


As the name of kings

Bahrām was the name of six Sassanid kings: The Sassanid Empire or Sassanian Empire (Persian: Sasanian) is the name used for the fourth Iranian dynasty, and the second Persian Empire (226 - 651). ...

In addition, Ardashir II (r.' 379–383), half-brother of Shapur II, is distinguished (from the founder of the Empire) by the name 'Ardashir Vahram'. Bahram I, was king of Persia (AD 274-277). ... Bahram II, king of Persia (277-294), son of Bahram I. During his reign the emperor Carus attacked the Persians and conquered Ctesiphon (283), but died by the plague. ... Bahram III, king of Persia, son of Bahram II, under whose rule he had been governing Sistan (therefore called Saganshah, Agathias iv. ... Bahram IV, King of Persia (388–399), son and successor of Shapur III of Persia (383–388), under whom he had been governor of Kirman; therefore he was called Kirmanshah (Agathias iv. ... Bahram V, king of Persia (420-439), also called Bahram Gur,son of Yazdegerd I, after whose sudden death (or assassination) he gained the crown against the opposition of the grandees by the help of al-Mondhir, the Arabic dynast of Hira. ... Bahram Chobin (in Persian بهرام چوبین) was a famous Eran spahbod (military commander) during Khosrau IIs rule in Sassanid Iran. ... Ardashir II was king of Persia from 379-383. ...


In Avestan scholarship

The interpretation of the divinity is one of the more widely debated fields in Zoroastrian scholarship since the theories of origin reflect a radical revolution in ethical, moral and religious values. (For a summary of the various theories, their implications and their detractors, see Boyce, 1996:62-64).


Primarily because the Avestan adjective verethragnan (victorious) has a corresponding Vedic term vrtrahan where it appears "preponderantly [as] a qualification of Indra", one theory (Benveniste/Renou, 1934; loc. Cit. Boyce, 1996:62-64) proposes that in Indo-Iranian times there existed a dragon-slaying warrior god *Indra and that Avestan Verethragna derives from that divine figure.


The arguments against this theory are manifold: For one, there is no hint of Verethragna (or any other Zoroastrian divinity) having dragon-slaying functions. In the Avesta, it is the hero warrior-priest Thraetaona who battles the serpent Aži Dahāka (which, for the virtue of 'Azi' being cognate with Sanskrit 'Ahi', snake, is – by proponents of the theory - associated with Vedic Vritra). Moreover, in the Vedas, the epithet 'hero' (sura) is itself almost exclusively reserved for Indra, while in the Avesta it is applied to Thraetaona and other non-divine figures. The term "victorious" too is not restricted to Verethragna, but is also a property of a number of other figures, both divine and mortal, including Thraetaona. Then, while in the Vedas it is Indra who discovers Soma, in the Avesta it is humans who first press Haoma and Thraetaona is attributed with being the "inventor of medicine". In the Vedas, Indra strikes with vajra, but in the Avesta vazra is Mithra's weapon. Finally, and from a point of basic doctrine far more important than any of the other arguments, Indra is a deva, precisely that class of divinity that Zoroaster exhorts his followers to reject. Indeed, Indra is explicitely named as one of the six evil demons in Vendidad 10.9 – directly opposing the Amesha Spenta Asha Vahishta, with whom Verethragna is associated. Fereydun is an Iranian mythical king and hero who is an emblem of victory, justice and generosity in the Persian literature. ... Zahak, Zahhak, Zahak-e Tāzi or (Arab Zahak) also knwon as Bivar-Asp, which means [he who has] 10,000 horses in the Pahlavi (middle Persian) language, and Avestan Āži-Dahāk) is a mythical figure of ancient Persia (Iran). ... In Hinduism, Vritra (Sanskrit वृत्र Vṛtra, the enveloper) was a serpent or dragon, the personification of drought and enemy of Indra. ... Soma (Sanskrit), or Haoma (Avestan) (from Proto-Indo-Iranian *sauma-) was a ritual drink of importance among the early Indo-Iranians, and the later Vedic and greater Persian cultures. ... Haoma is the Avestan language name of a plant and its divinity, both of which play a role in Zoroastrian doctrine and in later Persian culture and mythology. ... This article is about the Zoroastrian yazata Mithra (Miθra). ... Deva can refer to: Deva (Hinduism), a Hindu deity. ... Zoroaster, in a popular Parsi Zoroastrian depiction. ... In Zoroastrianism, Amesha Spentas are the Holy Immortals, the equivalent of Archangels in Christian theology. ...


Attempts to resolve these objections led to the development of another theory, in which, in addition to the pre-historical divinity of victory, there was also a dragon-slaying hero *Indra. Then, while the Iranians retained the figures independently of one another, the Indians conflated the two (leaving an echo in the character of Trita Aptya).


This theory too has its problems, in particular the fact that Indra was already evidently a divine figure, and not a man, in the Mittani treaties, where he appears in the company of Mitra and Varuna. That again raises more questions since the treaties echo the Rig Veda's invocation of all three as protectors of contract, again, not a property associated with Verethragna. The Mitanni (also, more correctly, Mittani) was the name of the Hurrian population in West Asia in the second millennium BC, around the Khabur River in upper Mesopotamia, and, most notably, to a ruling dynasty of maybe Indo-Aryan origin who dominated that population during the 15th and 14th centuries... This article is about the Vedic deity Mitra. ... This article is about the god. ... The Rig Veda ऋग्वेद (Sanskrit ṛc praise + veda knowledge) is the earliest of the four Hindu religious scriptures known as the Vedas. ...


However, as Benveniste and Renou demonstrated, many of the objections to the first theory can be negated if the evidence is reviewed in light of the fact that the principal feature of Verethragna is not to slay noxious creatures but to overcome obstacles (verethra), in particular to unblock the flow of Aban, the waters, the holiest of the elements. (Benveniste & Renou, 1934:182; loc. Cit. Boyce, 1996) In Persian mythology, Aban is the name of an angel who presides over iron. ...


Paul Thieme agrees with this principal feature, but clarifies that while the wealth of archaic elements in the Bahram Yasht clearly point to the pre-Zoroastrian era, the interpretation of proper names is "highly conjectural", and "in no case do we get a decisive argument against their Indo-Aryan or old Indic character" (Thieme, 1960:302). Adopting "the exact linguistic and exegetic analysis" of Benveniste and Renou, Thieme concludes "Proto-Aryan *Indra has assumed the functions of a Proto-Aryan god *Vrtraghna." Noting that Vrtrahan is the name of Indra only in the later Sanskrit texts (but not in the Rig Veda), Thieme adds "there is no valid justification for supposing that the Proto-Aryan adjective *vrtraghan was specifically connected with *Indra or any other particular god." (Thieme 1960:312-313)


Drawing attention to the fact that Indra is specifically named as a demon in both the Avesta (Vendidad 10.9) and also in later middle Persian texts (e.g. Bundahishn 21.6), Boyce adds that it is preferable to see individual developments rather than elements inherited from a different past (Boyce, 1996:283).


See also

In Zoroastrianism, the yazatas are supernatural beings created by Ahura Mazda to help him fight the evil forces of Ahriman and keep the world in order. ... In Zoroastrianism, Amesha Spentas are the Holy Immortals, the equivalent of Archangels in Christian theology. ... Zoroastrian angelology is branch of Zoroastrian doctrine that deals with the hierarchical system of divinities introduced by the reforms of Zarathustra (Zoroaster). ... The Zoroastrian calendar is a religious calendar used by members of the Zoroastrian faith, and it is an approximation of the (tropical) solar calendar. ...

Bibliography

  • Benveniste, Emile & Renou, Louis (1934). Vrtra et Vrθragna. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale.
  • Boyce, Mary (1996). History of Zoroastrianism, Vol. I, The early period. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 90-04-10474-7.
  • Boyce, Mary (1997). History of Zoroastrianism, Vol. II, Under the Achamenians. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 90-04-06506-7.
  • Duchesne-Guillemin, Jacques (1973). Religion of ancient Iran. Bombay: Tata Press.
  • Dumezil, Georges (1970). The destiny of the warrior. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-16970-7.
  • Gnoli, Gherardo. (2002). "Bahram in old and middle Iranian texts". Encyclopaedia Iranica: 510-513. New York: Mazda Pub.
  • Thieme, Paul (1960). "The 'Aryan' Gods of the Mitanni Treaties". Journal of the American Oriental Society 80.4: 301-317.
  • West, Edward William (1880). Marvels of Zoroastrianism: The Bahman Yasht. In Müller, Friedrich Max (ed.). SBE, Vol. 5. Oxford: OUP.
  • Zaehner, Richard Charles (1955). Zurvan, a Zoroastrian dilemma. Oxford: Clarendon. ISBN 0-8196-0280-9 (1972 Biblo-Moser ed).

 
 

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