Words empty as the wind are best left unsaid.


A picture is worth a thousand words.

~Napoleon Bonaparte

Friday, 16 December 2011

Zurvan, Ahura Mazdā, Zoroaster, lamassu

Ahriman was the god of evil and darkness in Persian mythology and in Zoroastrianism, a religion that attracted a large following in Persia around 600 B . C . Often called Druj ("the Lie"), Ahriman was the force behind anger, greed, envy, and other negative and harmful emotions. He also brought chaos , death, disease, and other ills into the world. In the Islamic religion, he is identified with Iblis, the devil.

Chaos great disorder or confusion Originally, Ahriman was the Persian god Angra Mainyu, a destructive spirit whose twin brother, Spenta Mainyu, was a benevolent spirit. Humans and gods alike had to choose which spirit to serve. As the Zoroastrian religion developed, Angra Mainyu became Ahriman, and Spenta Mainyu turned into Ahura Mazda, the "Wise Lord." The history of the world was seen as a struggle between these two forces. Ahura Mazda had the backing of the yazatas (angels), while Ahriman created a host of demons called daevas to spread his evil influence by appealing to the envy, greed, and desire for power of human beings.

For the Zoroastrians, Zurvan (Zervan) means "Time" and refers to the finite time of history. Beyond that is Zurvan Akarana or "Boundless Time" which represents eternity. According to the Avesta, Zurvan Akarana (Zeroana Akerne) has always existed, his glory is exalted, his light is resplendent; he is beyond human intellect and comprehension. Everything that has ever existed emanated from Zurvan Akarana.
Another translation of Zurvan Akarana is "duration in a circle." The circle symbolizes that which is without beginning or end, and the unknown. Zurvan Akarana is thus equivalent to the Qabalistic Ain Soph Aur.
Legend has it that Zurvan, who was a hermaphroditic being, existed eternally, but wanted a son. To make this happen, he sacrificed for 1000 years with no result, and doubt crept in. Out of that doubt was born the evil god called Angra Mainyu (Ahriman). Zurvan's sacrifices had actually been successful and the good god called Ahuramazda (later Ormuzd) was subsequently born. Zurvan gave dominion of the world to his first-born son, Angra Mainyu. When Zurvan realised his mistake, he then gave dominion to Ahuramazda. The twin gods Ahuramazda and Angra Mainyu are locked in an ongoing struggle, a dualistic struggle of conflicting principles. This struggle will endure throughout finite time, which will last for 12,000 symbolic years. At the end, Ahuramazda is fated to destroy the evil creation of Angra Mainyu.


  Beginning from Darius' reign until Artaxerxes II, Ahura Mazda is invoked alone. Under the reign of Artaxerxes II, royal inscriptions stopped the sole invocation of Ahura Mazda and began invoking a triad of divinities, Ahura Mazda, Mithra, and Anahita.

Mithra is described in the Zoroastrian Avesta scriptures as, "Mithra of wide pastures, of the thousand ears, and of the myriad eyes,"(Yasna 1:3), "the lofty, and the everlasting...the province ruler,"(Yasna 1:11) "the Yazad (divinity) of the spoken name"(Yasna 3:5), and "the holy,"(Yasna 3:13)

The Khorda Avesta (Book of Common Prayer) also refer to Mithra in the Litany to the Sun, "Homage to Mithra of wide cattle pastures,"(Khwarshed Niyayesh 5), "Whose word is true, who is of the assembly,Who has a thousand ears, the well-shaped one,Who has ten thousand eyes, the exalted one,Who has wide knowledge, the helpful one,Who sleeps not, the ever wakeful.We sacrifice to Mithra, The lord of all countries,Whom Ahura Mazda created the most glorious, Of the supernatural yazads. So may there come to us for aid, Both Mithra and Ahura, the two exalted ones,"(Khwarshed Niyayesh 6-7), "I shall sacrifice to his mace, well aimed against the skulls of the Daevas,"(Khwarshed Niyayesh 15). Some recent theories have claimed Mithra represents the sun itself, but the Khorda Avesta refers to the sun as a separate entity as well as the moon with which the sun has "the best of friendships,"(Khwarshed Niyayesh 15)

Mithra British Museum
Mithra Vatican

  From left to right: Mithra, Shapur II, Ahura Mazda. Lying down: dead roman emperor Julian.
 Ahura Mazdā (also known as Ohrmazd, Ahuramazda, Hourmazd, Hormazd, Hurmuz, Aramazd and Azzandara) is the Avestan name for a divinity of the Old Iranian religion who was proclaimed the uncreated God by Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism. Ahura Mazda is described as the highest deity of worship in Zoroastrianism, along with being the first and most frequently invoked deity in the Yasna. The word Ahura means light and Mazda means wisdom. Thus Ahura Mazda is the lord of light and wisdom. Ahura Mazda is the creator and upholder of Arta (truth). Ahura Mazda is an omniscient (though not omnipotent) god, who would eventually destroy evil. Ahura Mazda's counterpart is Angra Mainyu, the "evil spirit" and the creator of evil who will be destroyed before  frashokereti (the destruction of evil).
  A relief at Naqsh-e Rustam with Ardeshir I and Ahura Mazda This Persian rock relief depicts Ardashir I Coronation scene; the first king of the Sassanid Empire of Iran. Ardashir receives the ribboned diadem (cydaris), the symbol of kingship, from the spirit of Darius I of Persia of the Achaemenid dynasty.[92] Under the horse of the King Ardashir lies the last of the Parthian Kings, Artabanus. Under the horse of King Darius lies Gaumata the usurper, a Magian,. The relief of Ardashir is, therefore, the legitimization of the new Sassanian dynasty by the pre-Alexander Achaemenid dynasty. The inscription in Persian, Parthian, and Greek, reads: This is the image of the Hormizd-worshipping Majesty Ardashir, whose origin is of the gods.

Zoroaster , also known as Zarathustra (Avestan: Zaraϑuštra), was a prophet and the founder of Zoroastrianism who was either born in North Western or Eastern Iran. He is credited with the authorship of the Yasna Haptanghaiti as well as the Gathas, hymns which are at the liturgical core of Zoroastrianism. There is no consensus among scholars about the period of life, with the estimated dates of his birth range from 6000 BC to 400 BC. The majority of his life is known through the Avestan texts.
 Zoroaster, Nicholas Roerich
 Depiction of Zoroaster at the age of 30.,1906
 Raffaello Sanzio, Zoroaster, Vatican

Faravahar is one of the best-known symbols of Zoroastrianism, the state religion of ancient Iran. This religious-cultural symbol was adapted by the Pahlavi dynasty to represent the Iranian nation.
The winged disc has a long history in the art and culture of the ancient Near and Middle East. Historically, the symbol is influenced by the "winged sun" hieroglyph appearing on Bronze Age royal seals (Luwian SOL SUUS, symbolizing royal power in particular) In Neo-Assyrian times, a human bust is added to the disk, the "feather-robed archer" interpreted as symbolizing Ashur.
While the symbol is currently thought to represent a Fravashi  (c. a guardian angel) and from which it derives its name (see below), what it represented in the minds of those who adapted it from earlier Mesopotamian and Egyptian reliefs is unclear.
This relationship between the name of the symbol and the class of divine entities it represents, reflects the current belief that the symbol represents a Fravashi. However, there is no physical description of the Fravashis in the Avesta, the sacred texts of Zoroastrianism, and in Avestan the entities are grammatically feminine. 

 A Zoroastrian fire temple in Yazd, Iran.

  Faravahar carved in stone at Persepolis, Iran.

 A Neo-Assyrian "feather robed archer" figure, symbolizing Ashur. The right hand is extended similar to the Faravahar figure, while the left hand holds a bow instead of a ring (9th or 8th c. BC relief).

 Lamassu  is a protective deity, often depicted with a bull or lion's body, eagle's wings, and human's head. In some writings, it is portrayed to represent a female deity. A less frequently used name is shedu  which refers to the male counterpart of a lamassu
In art, lamassu were depicted as hybrids, winged bulls or lions with the head of a human male.

Although "lamassu" had a different iconography and portrayal in Sumerian culture, the terms lamassu, alad, and shedu were used to denote the Assyrian-winged-man-bull symbol and statues during the Neo-Assyrian empire. Female lamassus were called "apsasû". The motif of the Assyrian-winged-man-bull called Aladlammu and Lamassu interchangeably is not the lamassu or alad of Sumerian origin which were depicted with different iconography. These monumental statues were called aladlammû or lamassu which meant "protective spirit".
This is the Assyrian Lamassu at the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago.

 Human-headed winged bull or Lamassu facing. Bas-relief from the m wall, k door, of king Sargon II's palace at Dur Sharrukin in Assyria (now Khorsabad in Iraq).

The lamassu is a celestial being from Mesopotamian mythology. Human above the waist and a bull below the waist, it also has the horns and the ears of a bull. It appears frequently in Mesopotamian art, sometimes with wings. The lamassu and shedu were household protective spirits of the common Babylonian people. Later during the Babylonian period they became the protectors of kings as well always placed at the entrance. Statues of the bull-man were often used as gatekeepers. The Akkadians associated the god Papsukka with lamassu and the god Išum with shedu.

Berlin, Pergamon Museum

 From the gate of Nimrud.
A human-headed winged bull and winged lion (lamassu), Neo-Assyrian from the reign of Ashurnasirpal II; 883–859 B.C. Mesopotamia, Nimrud (ancient Kalhu) Alabaster (gypsum); H. 10 ft. 3 1/2 in. (313.7 cm) Gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1932 (32.143.1–.2) Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

From the 9th to the 7th century B.C., the kings of Assyria ruled over a vast empire centered in northern Iraq. The great Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II (r. 883–859 B.C.) undertook a vast building program at Nimrud, ancient Kalhu. Until it became the capital city under Ashurnasirpal, Nimrud had been no more than a provincial town.
 Maneckji Sett Agiary, the oldest parsi fire temple in Bombay
 Teatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro