The Myth of the overnight islamization of the ancient Zoroastrian Iran


Modern revisionist Moslem historians, and scholars such as the late Ayatollah Motahari, have attributed the fall of the mighty Sassanid Empire, the last native, Zoroastrian Empire of ancient Iran to the “simplicity, clarity and class equality of the monotheistic Islam.”

According to contemporary Moslem revisionists, “the great unpopularity of the Zoroastrian Priesthood of the late Sassanid period combined with the arrogance selfishness, and cruelty of an elitist, Sassanid nobility, gifted victory to the invading Moslem Arabs.” The myth states that the invading Moslem armies were met with little or virtually NO resistance from a disgruntled population who almost immediately embraced the superior ideology of Islam!!!

Unfortunately for the modern Moslem revisionists, their fairly recent account of islamization of ancient Persia DOES NOT AT ALL AGREE with EVEN ONE SINGLE early Islamic historian or chroniclers, such as Balāḏorī’s Fotūḥ (Conquests,) chronicles of Al Ṭabarī, and histories of Masʿūdī, Morūǰ.

(Balāḏorī, Fotūḥ (Conquests) is the main authentic moslem source for the islamic take over of the Iranian plateau. The narration of arab moslem conquests is divided topically by each geographical region of the Iranian Plateau, See pp. 68-94, 105-13, 241-89, 301-431.

See also the chronicles of Al Ṭabarī, I, p. 1528 to III, p. 2. Yaʿqūbī, II, pp. 54-410, and Masʿūdī, Morūǰ (ed. Pellat) III, p. 29 to IV, p. 83.)

All the early Islamic sources attribute the fall of the Sassanid Empire to Moslem resolve to establish the POLITICAL and MILILTARY DOMINATION of Islam, greater mobility/flexibility of Bedouin armies, Sassanid dynastic instability after Ḵosrow II Parviz, great discord among the Sassanid nobles thereafter, and complicity of the Persian local nobles and rulers with the invading Moslem armies for their short-term Political and Economic expediency.

According to ALL the early Moslem early sources, the main concern of the invading Moslem armies was to establish the Political and Military Domination of the Islamic religion, and impose Islamic taxation or jazziya on the conquered non- Moslem populations. For example after the battle of Qādesīya, a decisive victory for the Moslems which opened the Mesopotamian rich territories of the Sassanid Empire to the Arabs, the Arab commander Saʿd approached al-Madāʾen (“apex of all cities” Arab term for the Sassanid seat of Power Ctesiphon,) slaughtered the Sassanid garrison near Ctesiphon, captured most of the royal treasure, accepted the surrender of the people in the White Palace and at Rūmīya in return for tribute/treasures, and quartered the Muslim army there.

The Moslem arrangement was tributes in return for nominal security of the local populations. Also, Jazziya or Tribute paid by Non Moslems was substantially raised after each rebellion.

We read in Qur’an 9:29—“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizzyah (heavy tribute/poll tax) with submission, and feel themselves subdued and humiliated.

Moslem invaders drew upon hadith “sayings” attributed to the Prophet of Islam, and the first Shi‘ite Imām “religious leader ” ‘Ali b. Abi Tālib (598-661) for incorporating Zoroastrians into the ahl al-ḏhimma “communities enjoying blood protection guarantee.”

The Zoroastrians were not given full status like Christians and Jews but the dhimmi status provided nominal safety for the conquered Zoroastrian masses. The dhimmi or the “blood protection guarantee” for Zoroastrians was halfheartedly recognized by Omar the second Caliph, and the Umayyad (661-750) and the ‘Abbasid (750-1258) Caliphates.

Zoroastrianism clearly represented the Dominant faith numerically, though NO LONGER politically in the Mountainous Iranian Plateau, Caucasus, and Central Asia for FEW CENTURIES after the Islamic conquest.

The conversion to Islam by the native Iranian populace has been narrated by the early Islamic sources, as very slow, gradual, and at times very violent. The overnight adoption of Islam by the oppressed masses is a false myth that is entirely ABSENT from all the early Moslem accounts.

Places such as Hamadān and ancient City of Ray, were taken and retaken several times. Ḥoḏayfa b. al-Yamān accepted the surrender of the town and district of Nehāvand from its lord, called Dīnār; he arranged to pay tribute in return for protection for the walls, property, and houses of the people there.

Hamadān was taken over on similar terms. The territory of Ray was taken from the marzbān with the help of a local noble called Faroḵān, on terms similar to Nehāvand. A tribute of 500,000 dirhams was imposed on Ray and Qūmes; in return the fire temples were not to be destroyed nor the people killed or enslaved.

Ḥoḏayfa b. al-Yamān marched west to Azerbaijan, where he defeated the marzbān, took the capital of Ardabīl, and imposed a tribute of 100,000 dirhams. According to the terms made by Ḥoḏayfa, the people were not to be killed or taken captive; and their fire temples would not be destroyed.

The people of Šīz were allowed to keep their fire temple and to perform their dances at religious festivals.   

After the death of the second Caliph ʿOmar in 23/644, all the places in Azerbaijan, the Highlands, and the Heartland of Pārs withheld tribute and had to be retaken.

While the Muslims were preoccupied with their own first civil war (35-41/656-61), most of ancient Zoroastrian Iran slipped out of their control, and there were numerous popular revolts all over the conquered territories.

The Hephthalites of Bāḏḡīs, Herat, and Pūšang withheld tribute, as did Nīšāpūr; the people of Zarang overthrew their Muslim garrison, when the third Caliph ʿAlī was busy with Kharijite revolts in Iraq, widespread tax revolt broke out in the Highlands, Highland of Pārs, and Kermān in 39/659; the tax collectors were driven out, and Zīād b. Abīhi was sent to bloodily suppress/crush rebels at Eṣṭaḵr Pārs and Kermān. The third Calipf ʿAlī also managed to send a military force that retook Nīšāpūr in the northeast. Eastern Iran had to be re-conquered under Moʿāwīa.

The outbreak of the second Muslim civil war at Moʿāwīa’s death in 61/680 ended expansion in the east for twenty-five years, and after the death of Moʿāwīa’s son, Yazīd in 64/683, Moslem rule collapsed in Khorasan and Sīstān.

The lush mountains of Northern Iran, and the breadbasket of Zābolestān in the East, were never permanently controlled by the Moslem, except through their elite proxies. It took the Moslem armies over 100 years to fully control/conquer all the Mountainous Iranian plateau, and the Sassanid territories east of Mesopotamia.

To ensure the conquered population paid their jazziya or Islamic taxation, Arab garrisons were established at key former Sassanid urban administrative centers, and in frontier regions of the ancient Persian Empire. The countryside was controlled indirectly through local nobles and landlords dihqans who were willing to collaborate with the Moslem Arab invaders.

An agricultural reform during Ḵosrow I Anôshirvan allowed local landlords and nobles to switch production to cash crops, such as cotton or sugar cane. This led to a substantial increase in local economies and wealth. However Ḵosrow II Parviz used this new economic boom to fund his wars of expansion with Byzantium. The local nobles and landlords wanted to keep their own land and increased wealth for themselves, and saw collaboration with Arabs much more lucrative than staying loyal to the Sassanid Empire, and financing the Empire’s war machine with Byzantium.

The collection of tributes/Jazziya by the local nobles in their own districts or little, autonomous kingdoms had the effect of establishing protectorates by the Arab Moslems. The new Moslem overlords by using collaborative local rulers and installing Arab garrisons, secured most of ancient Iran under their rule. However, after numerous popular rebellions, tribute arrangements had to be constantly re-imposed.

ACCESS TO POWER meant adopting Arabism and Islam. The ELITE adopted the new Islamic ideology, and gained positions of authority by doing so, from the eighth through tenth centuries, two or three centuries AFTER the Islamic conquest. Arabic became the language of religion, literature, and science thereafter. No scientific work could be published and no scientist could be recognized unless they adopted Islam as religion and Arabic as the sacred and scientific language.

A good many among the Zoroastrian priests became early interpreters of the canonical beliefs of the Islamic religion. The conversion of the Persian elite to Islam around this time period has contributed if not wholly but substantially to the rise of the Islamic Golden Age, for over 90% percent of Moslem scientists and scholars of this golden age era are Persian.

We read in the Preface to Greater Bundahishn (the Zoroastrian account of Creation, finally put down in writing around 10th or 11th century,) Owing to the coming of the Arabs to the realm of the Aryans, and their promulgation of heterodoxy and ill-will, orthodoxy has vanished and fled from the magnates, and respectability from the upholders of religion; deep wonderful utterances, and the proper reasoning of things, meditation for action, and word of true reason, have faded from the memory and knowledge of the populace.

On account of evil times, even he of the family of nobles, and the magnates upholding the religion, have joined the faith and path of those heretics; and for the sake of prestige, they have defiled, with blemishes, the word, dress, worship and usages of the faithful.

He too, who had the desire to learn this science and secret, could not possibly appropriate them, from place to place, even with pain, trouble and difficulty. 

Islam spread among native Zoroastrian rural folk from the tenth through thirteenth centuries. According to tradition, the dastūrān dastūr, the “ Zoroastrian supreme high priest” moved to the desolate and rugged central Iranian village of Torkābad, north of Yazd in the late twelfth century, after Zoroastrianism was no longer the majority religion.

After the late 12th century the Zoroastrians steadily moved to the out-of-the-way locales into rugged, and desolate Mountains of Central Iran.

The Safavid period (1501-1736), and the institutionalization of Shi‘ism, marked a horrific time for the followers of the ancient faith in Iran. Up to the Safavid period, Zoroastrians constituted a substantial minority similar to the Copts in Egypt that make up about 20% of the population.

Forcible conversion of Zoroastrians to Shi‘ism, execution of Zoroastrians who refused to comply, coupled with destruction of their fire temples and other places of learning and worship was decreed by Solṭān Ḥosayn (r. 1694-1722; Lockhart, pp. 72-73; for the Shiʿite religious context, see also MAJLESI, MOḤAMMAD-BĀQER.)

During the reign of Shah ʿAbbās I (1587-1629), Zoroastrians had been forcibly relocated to the capital city Isfahan as skilled, slave labor (Pietro della Valle [1586-1652], tr., II, p. 104; Garcia de Silva y Figueroa [1550-1624], tr., p. 179.)

Shah ʿAbbās even had a high priest or dastur dasturān executed together with other Zoroastrian notables for failing to deliver to the royal court a magical manuscript that the Zoroastrians were thought to have possessed (John Chardin [1643-1713], II, p. 179.).

In the mid-1650s, among the harsh measures undertaken during the reign of ʿAbbās II (r. 1642-66), mass expulsion of Zoroastrians from Isfahan’s city center took place—on account of their presence being deemed UNCLEAN, detrimental to the orthodox Moslem beliefs, ritual purity, and day-to-day safety of Moslems. See chronicler Aṙakʿel of Tabriz (tr. in Bournoutian, pp. 347-61.)

The Ritual Uncleanliness of Zoroastrian was justified based on the following Verse, Qur’an 9:28—O ye who believe! Truly the Pagans are unclean.

Similarly, after Zoroastrians sided with the more religiously tolerant Zand dynasty (1750-94), which made overtures to ancient Iranian tradition, Zoroastrians were designated as traitors and were most cruelly punished by Āḡā Moḥammad Khan Qājār.

The Miraculous Socioeconomic Success of the Parsi Zoroastrians under the British Raj, and their coming to the aid of their Iranian brethren was the only thing that saved Zoroastrians in Iran during the Qajar rule.

I shall conclude this article by addressing the last false myth regarding the collapse of the Sassanid Dynasty, namely the overreaching and corrupt power of the Zoroastrian Priesthood at the end of the Sassanid dynasty.

Khosrow II Parviz and some of the Late Sassanid kings after him, EXCEPT the noble Yazdgerd III were all known for making public overtures to the Mesopotamian Christian communities of their Empire. Khosrow II Parviz (r.591-628), the quintessential last-Sassanid king of kings, married an Armenian Christian wife, and had a Christian chief minister. Likewise, in the course of gathering support for his campaigns against Byzantium, Khosrow Parviz supported the Nestorian Christian community in present day Syria.

The same Khosrow Parviz, upon conquering, and entering Jerusalem, moved the True Christian Cross from Jerusalem to Khuzistan in the South-West of Iran in order to provide prestige for the Christians of his empire. Christians, in fact, were the dominant population in Mesopotamian territories of the Sassanid. In all reality, the Sassanid dynasty ended with Khosrow II in 628.

There is NO EVIDENCE of a state sponsored, all-powerful Zoroastrian Priesthood at the end of the Sassanid era. Rather all the evidence suggests that during the reign of, and after Khosrow II Parviz, Orthodox Zoroastrianism was increasingly disassociated from the late Sassanid State.

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Ancient Zoroastrianism, Dialectical or Dualistic Monism


Dialectical monism, also known as dualistic monism, holds that all reality consists ultimately of one substance, and that this one substance expresses itself in terms of dialectical or opposing forces.

The sacred poetry/songs of Zarathustra teach that the magic substance of all reality is “mind-energy,” and that “mind, imagination, visions and ideas” are the prime force.

Accordingly, “mind energy, imagination, consciousness, spirit,” creates and determines all manifestation or reality. In other words, universe is ultimately dependent, and composed of the energy of “mind or spirit.”

The most pertinent Old Avestan/Gathic passages that assert “imagination, mind-power and ideas” to be the origin of all reality are Yasna 30, Yasna 31.7, Yasna 31.11 and Yasna 45.

Godhood in Zoroastrianism is the “odyssey of consciousness, the endless adventures, and the progressive journey of healthy, vibrant and energetic mind or spirit.” The Supreme God of Zoroastrianism Mazdá is the very definition of this eternal journey of the “vibrant energy of healthy mind/spirit to establish, and create ever better, and more splendidly.”

Mazdá is the “Boundless Will to learn, discover, innovate and create,” and is the essence of Godhood. What the Rig Veda calls ásurasya māyáyā (See RV 5.63.7 “magic of the ásuras,) is the closest description to the supreme god of Zoroastrianism Ahûrá Mazdá.

For Mazdá “powers of mind to summon into being” is the magic stuff of the ahûrás, æsir, the Titans, and the very essence of Godhood according to the poetic Gathas/Songs of Zarathustra.

Ancient commentators of the most sacred verse in Zoroastrianism ahünvar “will to become godlike,” use a magic word play on the meaning of the name of the supreme god Mazdá.

According to Yasna 19.13 daz.dá man.aη “establishing, creating through mind energy,” in the second rhymed verse line of the holiest formula, is a play on the name of Mazdá who is pristine “mind, spirit,” para îm iδa man.aηhæ činasti.

While Godhood in Zoroastrianism is the endless adventures of the “vibrant mind power, passion of the spirit to overcome limitations, and brilliantly create; the diabolic/evil is the diseased, stagnated, broken spirit.

The heaven or abode of Immortals is in the “Vibrant, Energetic Spirit/Disposition, or the “Good Mind,” that gives mortal men a connection to the realm of “creativity and brilliant imagination.” In Zoroastrianism, this adventurous, healthy “Good Mind/Spirit” is the pathway to the Gods.

The Gathas/Songs of Zarathustra teach about a “progressive dialectical or plural monism.” Accordingly, the flow of change, consciousness tends toward a “spiral-shaped progression” rather than a perpetual non-progressive (repetitive) circling of history. The wheel of time moves in circles but always forward with an adventurous spirit, toward endless betterment, (See Yasna 44.17.)

In Zoroastrianism, “mind energy, consciousness, Godhood, and the universe” are marked by an increasing progress. What stagnates and begins to rot though is the anti-God, the diabolic.

This “dialectical or plural monism” taught by the Zoroastrian sacred lore recognizes the existence of a multiplicity of God entities/beings, which in the Avestan text are called “the ten thousand Immortals.”

The number of the Immortals of Mazdá has been cited as 7 (eternity, infinity) 33 (infinite wisdom,) 50, 100, 1000, 10,000, and “beyond reckoning” in the Avetsa, (See Vispered 8.1 for example.)

The Old Avestan gathic formula mazdávs.čá ahûráηhö “Mazdá and his ahûrás,” is a reference to the 10,000 Immortals or Immortals beyond reckoning in the Avestan sacred lore. Darius worship of Auramazdā together with all the other gods (baga) is a reflection of the same concept.

The gathic formula of mazdávs.čá ahûráηhö “Mazdá and his ahûrás,” reminds one of the Old Norse Skáldskaparmál 41: Óðni ok öllum ásum “to Odin and all the æsir,” Skáldskaparmál 23: Óðins ok ása “of Odin and the aesir,” Hávamál 143: Óðinn með ásum “Odin with the Æsir,” also Baldr” Gylfaginning 49: Baldrs ok asana, (See Didier Calin, Dictionary of Indo European Poetic and Religious Themes page 139.)

Scottish Evangelist, John Wilson attacked the Zoroastrian reverence of the Brilliant Immortals Amertá/Amešá Spenta and the Hallowed God Beings Yazatas as a clear form of polytheism claiming that Zoroastrians are worshipers of ahûras and elements of nature, such as of fire, waters, sun, the moon and the heavenly lights.

Zoroastrian Litanies to fire, water, the moon, sun, and Mithra “friendship with the Immortals” compromise the daily Zoroastrian worship. The conservative (or traditional) view of the gathas, and ancient Zoroastrianism is indeed a dualistic worldview. All reality is mind energy and mind independent.

The origins of Monotheism must be traced back to Pharaoh Akhenaten and his cult of Aton, and not to ancient Zoroastrianism, for nothing in the gathas, the Zoroastrian sacred lore or age old tradition can substantiate anything other than a dialectical or dualistic monism.

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Ancient Iranian Agriculturists, Hittite DNA remains, and the earliest Indo European languages


An extensive research by David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard University, strongly suggests that there was a migration of AGRICULTURALISTS into northwestern India from what is now Western Iran/Zagros Mountains, around 4000BCE.

This migration was followed two millennia later around 2000BCE, just before the Vedic Age—by a large influx from the area between the Black and Caspian Seas, North of Caucasus Mountains. These newcomers appear to have shared the same ancestry with the populations of the European peninsula/continent.

But who were these earlier, ancient Iranian Agriculturists??? For one, the Neolithic, Iranian Agriculturists shared same ancestry with Old Hittite DNA remains, (the earliest speakers of Indo European Languages,) and with some Assyrian/North Mesopotamian Lineages (See Genetic studies of Damgaard et al. 2018.)

They lived in the Zagros Mountains, where some of the earliest evidence of wine making/production has been discovered. Zagros mountain range begins in northwestern Iran, South of Caucasus, and creates a geographic barrier between the Mesopotamian flat deserts, and the towering Iranian Plateau/Mountains. It has a total length of 1,600 km (990 miles.) The highest point is Mount Dena at an elevation of 4,409 meters (14,465 feet.)

Remnants of the originally widespread oak-dominated woodland can still be found in Zagros Mountains. The ancestors of many familiar foods, including wheat, barley, lentil, almond, walnut, pistachio, apricot, plum, pomegranate and grape can be found growing wild throughout Zagros.

Ancient DNA tests have revealed that the majority of Early Neolithic farmers who colonized Europe belonged to Y-haplogroup G2a. However, the Iranian Agriculturists had a higher frequency of T1a Y-DNA lineages than G haplogroup. Interestingly, during the Copper and Bronze Ages, haplogroup T appears to have been an important paternal lineage among the ruling elites of ancient peoples such as Sumerians, and the Assyrians.

Within Europe the frequency of Y-DNA T lineages is most common in the mountainous parts of the southern Balkans, the central and southern Apennine Mountains in Italy, Auvergne Mountains in France, and mountain pasturelands of southwestern Iberia.

All the aforementioned mountainous regions share many features with Iranian Zagros Mountain Range in Northwestern Iran, South of Caucasus.

The Paternal T lineage is also believed to have been closely associated with maternal HV haplogroup.

HV is the most successful maternal lineage in Europe today. Over half of the female European population descends from a single female, HV lineage progenitor who lived at least 25,000 years ago. Most Europeans belonging to the HV lineage descend from a branch that was renamed haplogroup H.

The modern distribution of mtDNA HV is particularly reminiscent of hotspots for Y-DNA haplogroup T. This strongly suggests that maternal HV and paternal T lineages spread together from a spot in modern day Northwestern Iran, South Caucasus, and Iraqi Kurdistan, to the Fertile Crescent, notably Northern Mesopotamia, as well as to Central and Eastern Europe.

The distribution of HV maternal haplogroup today is as follows:

HV2: found among Zoroastrians, Kurds, and in Slovakia
HV5: found around Lithuania, Belarus and Poland
HV6 : found in Iran, Russia, Slovakia and Britain
HV7 : found in Russia, Ukraine and Sicily
HV8 : found in southern Russia and Slovakia
HV9 : found in Italy, the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Scandinavia and Britain
HV10 : found around the Alps
HV11 : found in Italy
HV12 : found in Iran
HV13 : found in Iran

Today, about 20% of Iranian Zoroastrian priests belong to Y-DNA haplgroup T1a, a lineage that goes back to Neolithic Iranian Agriculturists. Also after mtDNA U4, mtDNA HV2 is the most common Zoroastrian maternal lineage.

However, 80% of Iranian Zoroastrian priests belong to Y-DNA lineages I* and I2*. Both I* (I M170) and I2* (I P215) are associated with Cro Magnon/Early European Robust humans, and are exceedingly rare among modern populations.

I* (M170) is the Paleolithic lineage from which all subclades of Y-DNA I derive. I* (I M170) is My Personal Y-DNA marker.

About 86% of the Parsi Zoroastrian Priests belong to R1a1a1 Y-DNA marker, a proto Indo European marker that goes back to ancient Yamnaya culture, and hails from the regions surrounding Dnieper river in modern day Ukraine, and what is now Southern Russia.

Another 14% of Parsi Zoroastrian Priests belong to haplgroup L. According to Dr. Spencer Wells, Haplogroup L-M20 originated in the rugged and mountainous Pamir Knot region in Tajikistan of Central Asia. This haplogroup was found in remains attributed to an elite member of the Hun tribes in Hungary.

In conclusion, I shall add that Pre-historic people in northern Caucasus, Southern Caucasus and Zagros Mountains would have adopted farming and exchanged goods and languages for thousands of years. These Neolithic Iranian Agriculturists of Zagros Mountains soon merged with proto Indo Europeans, and became one people with them.

There is also the great likelihood that the first speakers of an Indo-European language could have hailed from south of the Caucasus Mountains, perhaps in present-day Iran or Armenia.

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Vərəthra.ghna, The “Victorious Lord” of Zoroastrianism, and the 4th incarnation of the god of victory in the form of an aurochs/camel, celebrating “untamable strength and virility.”


In the living, folk traditions of the Zoroastrians, the worship of the great Yazatá of “Victory” Vərəθra.ghna/Vərəθra.γna plays a most prominent role. The Avestan name of the “Victorious Lord” has evolved into Vahrám in middle Iranian, Bahrám in modern Persian, and Behrám among Parsi Zoroastrians.

There is a tradition of praying to the god-force of “Victory,” by reciting his Avestan hymn continuously for 40 days to overcome all sort difficulties, and achieve great success/victory in every material as well as spiritual sphere.

Among Iranian Zoroastrians, sacred shrines are dedicated to the Yazatá of “Victory.” One such very popular shrine known as Shaw Varhrám Izad is located in southern Tehran, the capital of Iran.

More Importantly, the most sacred grade of fire in Zoroastrianism, átash vahrám/bahrám “Victorious fire,” is dedicated to the yazatá of victory, the one who shatters all obstacles.

Vərəθra.ghna/Vərəθraγna is the personification of a “victorious god being” that shatters and overcomes any difficulty or obstacle, and is an unstoppable force established, and set in motion by the ahûrás, Titans (ahûra.δátö.)

Among the Brilliant, Auspicious Immortals, the “Victorious Lord” is a co-worker” ham-kár “of Ašá/Arthá, “power to excel, create a new order/reality.

Vərəθra.ghna also joins forces with Vanaintî Uparatát “Winning, Upper Force” (Yt. 14.0, 64,) and Ama “Mighty Attacking Power.”

The “Victorious Lord” is venerated as yazata.nąm zayö.tə̄mö “the most armed of the gods” (Yt. 14.1,) ama.vas.təmö “the most mighty,” (Yt. 14.3), and xarən.aŋu.has.təmö “the most endowed with xarəna, fiery glory or magical charm” (Yt. 14.3.)

In the Avestan hymn, Yašt 14.28-33, the god, is closely linked to magical elements, and the “magic of the feather,” i.e., oracles based on the falling or flying of a falcon’s feather (vv. 34-46.)

According to the Avestan hymn, Yašt, the “Victorious Lord” transmits his “untamable strength and virile powers” to the Airya “the noble ones,” and confounds all their enemies.

The gift of Vərəθraγna “Victorious Lord” on the seer/prophet Zaraθuštrá was “Victory in thought, Victory in word, and Victory in deed,” as well as “impassioned speech,” in conformity with the Indo-Iranian practice of verbal contest/retort (See Kuiper, “The Ancient Aryan Verbal Contest,” pp. 243, 246.)

In the poetic gathas/sacred songs of Zaraθuštrá, the god-being/force of victory that shatters and overcomes any difficulty or obstacle is invoked in the most venerated Ké Vərəθrəm-já sacred formula.

Likewise, the 14th Avestan hymn dedicated to the Yazatá of “Victory” belongs to the most ancient sections of the Younger Avesta, and is one of the better preserved Avestan Yašts “odes of praise.” The hymn contains a wealth of archaic elements, which point to a more ancient Indo-Iranian era (P. Thieme, “The “Aryan” Gods of the Mitanni Treaties,” pp. 312-14.)

The hymn starts by enumerating the ten physical incarnations of the “Victorious Lord,” and gives a very vivid and virile picture of the unstoppable, warrior god.

Vərəθra.ghna/Vərəθraγna takes the physical form of a relentless, powerful wind (Yt.14.2-5); a bull with horns of gold (v. 7); a white horse with ears and muzzle of gold (v. 9); an aurochs/camel in sexual excitement/heat (vv. 11-13); a boar (v. 15); a youth at the ideal age of fifteen (v. 17); a falcon várəγna– (vv. 19-21); a ram (v. 23); a wild goat (v. 25); and an armed warrior (v. 27.)

The material incarnations of the Yazatá of Victory show some very interesting resemblance to the Chinese Zodiac symbolism.

We read of his fourth physical form/manifestation as an aurochs/camel in verse 11 of the hymn: ahmái. tüiryö. ájasat̰ vazəmnö vərəϑraγnö ahûraδátö uštrahæ kəhrpa vaδaryaôš dadán.saôš aiwi.tačinahæ urvatö fras.paranahæ gaæϑáuš mašyö vaŋhahæ.

The word for any large cattle from “aurochs, to buffalo, and/or camel” in the original Avestan is uštrahæ. The Avestan term for “large, powerful cattle” appears also in the second part of the name of Zaraθuštrá. Rune uruz is a very likely cognate.

Avestan kəhrpa is the word for “bodily form,” (German körper.) The word vaδaryaôš denotes “sexual excitement, feverish energy, passionate life-force.”

The word dadán.saôš or dadąsaôš (also appearing as vakąsaôš) refers to “devouring, tearing into small pieces, biting.”

The first part of the compound word dadán/dadą means“denture/teeth.” The second part kánsaôš or kąsaôš “biting off” appears also in the beautiful Zám-yaad Yašt the “hymn to the good earth.” The word appears in the 3rd verse of the 19th Yašt, in relation to the “biting frost of the snowy peak where the legendary falcon Simôrgh (Avestan saæna,) nests, upáiri saæna kánsö tafəδra varafa.

The Avestan poetic imagery clearly shows that Zoroastrianism highly celebrates sexuality, untamable strength and great virility.

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An only textual perspective in studying the ancient Zoroastrian lore, and the Old Avestan terms ušuruyæ, ušǝurü  


Mary Boyce, a great scholar of Zoroastrian studies once asked, who were likely to have a deeper understanding of the ancient Zoroastrian religion and terms, western academics or the devout priests who have upheld the ancient beliefs and practices for thousands of years?

She developed her theory of the continuity of Zoroastrian belief and practice from the time of the seer/prophet of the ancient Aryans Zarathustra, right down to modern times. Boyce summed this up in a little-known article “The Continuity of the Zoroastrian Quest.”

Boyce rejected the biblical/evangelical approach and understanding of Zoroastrian concepts, and saw Zarathustra as a visionary, seer/prophet, and an inspired, Indo-Iranian poet-priest. For Mary Boyce, the background and training of Zarathustra as a poet-priest of the ancient Indo European tradition was fundamental in understanding his Gāthās or Sacred Songs/Poetry.

She took issue with translations of Humbach, Insler and Kellens for approaching the Gāthās /Sacred Songs of Zarathustra only from a textual perspective, and not taking account of the beliefs, and ancient commentaries of the Zoroastrian tradition.

I personally believe that the ancient commentaries, and traditions of Zoroastrianism shed great light on the correct meaning of the gathas/songs of the ancient seer/prophet. While the ancient commentaries might contain some elements of folk etymology, nevertheless, they always give right clues as to the correct meanings of the sacred passages. Furthermore, an accurate and objective study of Zoroastrianism and the Gāthās /Sacred Songs of Zarathustra is IMPOSSIBLE without comparative Indo European Poetics.

The following example from the poetry of the gathas demonstrates the validity of Mary Boyce’s position. In the gathas, Yasna 32.16, first rhymed verse line, we encounter the word ušuruyæ. The word appears a second time in the gathas, in the form of ǝurü (See Yasna 34.7, 2nd rhymed verse line.)

The ancient Avestan commentaries translate the term as faráḵ hûshi “dawning, wide intelligence, understanding without limitation.”

Humbach derives the term from the root to “shine, radiate” but translates it as “pleasant, pleasant way.” The great scholar Martin L. West, following Humbach, translates the term as “safe haven” in Yasna 32.16 and as “innocuous, soft” in Yasna 34.7.

The Avestan original of the passages are as follows:

hamém tat vahištá.čît//ýé ušuruyæ syas.čît dahma.ahyá

Same as the very best// are the intelligent sayings of the wise.

hamém tat vahištá.čît “Same as the very best,” at the Old Avestan passage here is comparable to the Vedic term samó deváih “equal to the gods.”

In other words, if we follow the “tradition inspired” understanding of the above passage the meaning is “the intelligent or bright teachings of the wise are the best/divine.”

Martin L. West’s translates the passage as: “There is nothing finer than if one just draws back to the safe haven of the enlightened one.” Humbach translates the above passage: Equal to what is very best, is the pleasant way of the very promoter of the wise.

It is important to remember that both the aforementioned scholars derive the terms ušuruyæ, ǝurü from the root to “shine, dawn, to shed light, radiate.”

In the second Old Avestan passage where the term ǝurü appears we read:

séñg.hüš raæa.náv aspen.čît sádrá.čît//carayö ǝurü

Teachings and traditions will turn around misfortune and hardship// by their light and brightness

In other words, “teachings and traditions by their luminous quality/intelligence will turn around what is inauspicious and hard, hateful into advantage.”

The Avestan word séñg.hüš translated as “teaching” is in fact a cognate of Latin censeo, and means to “announce, declare, recommend, estimate or evaluate.”

The word for “tradition” raæḵna comes from the root *rik. Vedic reknas is a cognate. The reconstructed Proto Indo European root is *leik.

Avestan raæḵna recalls the Germanic noun lehan in the sense of “loan,” that is “sacred legacy,” customs and beliefs that go back to the beginning, and are LEFT to us by our ancestors.

The word a-spen translated as misfortune, literally means “inauspicious,” and the word for “hardship, what is hateful” sádrá is a cognate of the Old Norse hatr.

ardeshir

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Mithrá, the Avestan god of “treaty, mutual promise, agreement,” and one who is liar/deceiver to Miθrá


In Zoroastrianism, the relationship between Immortal Gods and men is viewed as “bonds of friendship, reciprocity and mutual promise.” The lofty ahûrá that represents our “soul’s contract with the gods, genuine promise, and treaty/agreement” is Miθrá.

Miθrá is the first god to approach the mountain range of the SUN hará ahead of the sunrise; from there he surveys the whole land of the Āryans (10.13).

Avestan Mithrá/Miθrá, comes from reconstructed Indo European root *meit– and is a cognate of Vedic Mitrá, Latin mūtō, Gothic maidjan, Latvian mietot.

Miθrá appears in the poetic gathas/somgs of the prophet Zarathustra, Yasna 46.5, 2nd rhymed verse line in the form of the noun miθrö.ibyö in the sense of “reciprocal friendship/mutual understanding, agreement, treaty.”

The Brilliant and Auspicious Immortals aməša spəntas called Miθrá the godly lord (ahü) and wise master of the riddles (ratü) of all the living worlds (10.92).

To break a contract/treaty in Avestan is called miθrəm druj “a liar/deceiver to Miθrá” (Yt. 10.45.) The Avestan term corresponds to a phrase in the Rig Veda 10.89.12 namely “drógha.mitra” “whose contract, promise is a lie, deception.”

The Avestan hymn to Miθrá starts with the statement of the supreme god Ahûrá Mazdá that he created Miθrá and made him as worthy of worship and prayer as he himself (10.1).

Then it states that a dishonest man who deceives a treaty destroys the whole country, killing the truthful as much as a hundred sorcerers would. This is immediately followed by the injunction not to break a contract/treaty, whether concluded with a deceitful person or a truthful follower of the Beautiful Religion (Zoroastrianism,) for the contract/treaty is valid for both (10.2.)

Miθrá, when deceived by the lord of the house, or the clan, or the tribe, or the country, smashes their respective domains (10.18; cf. 83-87).

The treaty between countries is dominant in the hymn. Miθrá aids those who are true to the treaty and punishes those who break it. He robs the treaty-breakers of the vigor of their arms, the strength of their feet, the light of their eyes, the hearing of their ears (10.23; cf. 49). The arrows, spears, sling-stones, knives, and maces of those who enrage Miθrá become ineffectual (10.39-40)..

To those who are faithful to the treaty Miθrá brings rain and makes plants grow (10.61); this refers to the ruler, since the welfare of a country depends on his moral behavior (cf. Thieme, 1975, p. 32).

Miθrá is the beneficent protector and guardian of all creatures (10.54; cf. 103). He is the lord of the country (10.78, 99) and the lord of the country of all countries (10.145,)

Miθrá strike down the evil sons of those who offer bloody sacrifices like the diabolic viiāmburas (Yt. 14.57). Miθra’s most frequent epithet having “ wide cattle-pastures” (vourú.gaô.yô.iti) reflects his concern with peaceful cattle and their ability to graze, and roam freely across vast, happy living spaces.

The Ṛgveda has only one hymn to Mitrá,. The Vedic hymn to Mitrá is considered pale and insignificant in compare to the splendid Avestan one to the god. However, P. Thieme (1957, pp. 38 ff.) has shown that the Vedic hymn clearly reflects the main characteristics of the god. Mitrá makes peoples take a firm position in their relationship to each other, and stick to their agreements/treaties (5.65.6.)

The main difference between the Vedic Mitrá and the Avestan Miθrá is that the Vedic Mitrá lacks the superb heroic and martial qualities of the Avestan Miθrá almost completely.

In the Avesta, Miθrá is accompanied in battle against falsehood, by the god of Victory Verəθraγna, by Inspiration Sraôšá “hearing the Immortals” and by Rašnü “righteousness, integrity, honesty.” They participate in Miθra’s battles against the evildoers and treaty breakers along with Nairiiö.saŋha, the valiant messenger of the gods (10.52.)

ardeshir

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The ancient Zoroastrian Mid-Spring festival, Celtic Beltane and the German Witches’ Night Hexennacht,


April 30th marks the beginning of the maiδyö.zarem  “mid-spring” festival in the Avestan calendar. The mid-spring festival lasts for 5 days till May4th, and is in essence a spring rite, thought to fire up/stir “virility, youthfulness, growth, and nectars of the spring.” Maiδyö.zarem is an “in between festival” maiδyö, “mid/in between” the spring and summer solstices.

Mid-Spring is a sacred time to honor the plants, their sap/milk, and a time to bless the herds, their young, and their milk by walking them between sacred bonfires. Sacred rituals are performed to protect the cattle, crops and encourage their sap/milk, and their growth.

 In the Avestan book of vispa ratü “all the rites/right formulas,” maiδyö.zarem is described as the festival of payan “milk, syrup, nectar of flowers and sap of trees, life-force.”

Avestan payan “milk” is a cognate of with Lithuanian pienas, Latvian piêns, Vedic páyas “milk,” Vedic pipyúši “rich in milk” and is derived from reconstructed Proto Indo European *pieh “be fat, prosperous, swollen,” and *pipih usih “rich, overflowing in milk.”

Offerings of milk mixed with holy water, are made to holy wells. Cattle are decorated with flowers. Milk is also poured at the doorsteps. Mid-Spring is an especially auspicious time to bless the dairy products, and the sap of trees.

Maiδyö.zarem celebrates the triumph of spring/sun energy over winter and frost. The saps of spring are honored in connection with the waxing power of the sun wheel. Household fires are re-lit from the sacred bonfires, and village fire temples. Cattle and everywhere is decorated with flowers.

 Zarem, the second part of maiδyö.zarem comes from Avestan zairi “fresh green, lush or golden” and can be compared with Old Church Slavonic zelenū, Lithuanian geltasželvas “yellow/golden,” Latvian zęlts “golden,” Russian zelënyj “green.” In post Indo European times, the word for golden/yellow were often the sources for new words for green. This root is recorded from Celtic to Vedic, and is assured in Proto- Indo European. This also argues that the Proto Indo Europeans saw yellow/golden as a primary color.

The primary color yellow evokes fire, and golden is the color of the sun, symbolizing, “passion, pure energy, charming magnetism, powers of fertility, virility and the life-force.

The ancient Avestan maiδyö.zarem “mid-spring” festival shares many common rites with, and the same roots as the Celtic Beltane, and the German Hexennacht “Witches’ Night.” Hexennacht is the night from 30 April to 1 May, when witches are reputed to hold a large celebration on the Brocken (the highest of the Harz Mountains of north central Germany,) to mark the triumph of spring/the sun over winter. The holiday was later replaced by the feast day for a Catholic Saint as Walpurgisnacht.

In Zoroastrianism, the spiritual life and sacred worship are entwined with hearth-fire, kinship and Clan, home, happiness, pets and farm, fertility of the land, and magical rites/seasons of the year (Avestan yaar ratö.); all related in a sacred world order wherein mortal man lives as a member of his genos, and is governed by the laws of renewal, waxing power of the sun wheel, youthfulness, virility, beauty, nobility, much happiness, and reverence for nature.

ardeshir

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