The five fires or life forces of the creation

The ancient Iranian cosmogonists regarded fire as forming the life force within the creation, and so animating the world (see Bundahišn, tr., chaps, 3.7-8; 6g. 1; Zātspram, chap. 3.77-83).

In the poetic gathas fire is closely associated with “mind, spirit, passion, will” (See Yasna 46.7 3rd rhymed verse line) and “excellence, virtue, goodness/luminosity of ashá/arthá.”

For ashá/arthá “excellence, virtue, goodness, light” is the very self of godhood in the poetic gathas.

The Avesta in Yasna 17.11 talks of 5 kinds of fire. First is the fire called bərəzi.sava “bright in light/auspiciousness,” (Compare with Old Church Slavonic svetu “light.”)

Bərəzi Sava or “brightly illuminated” fire is identified in the Pahlavi or Middle Iranian commentary as present in Átaš Vahráms or Victorious Fires.

Second fire is vôhü fryán, the wondrous, awe-inspiring fire of LOVE. It is fire of love that is the life force of men and beasts.

The third fire is ûrvázištá “the most joyous” fire. Ûrvázišta comes from a root meaning “to flourish, grow” and is associated with ûrvar “tree” or plants (Compare Avestan ûrvar with Latin arbor.)

The fourth fire is vazištá “the liveliest, the most vigorous” as in the lightning fire.

And lastly is the spéñištá “the most auspicious” fire, which burns in the presence of Öhrmazd. Spéñištá comes from Speñtá; “auspicious, splendid, bright” Lithuanian šventas, Proto-Baltic-Slavic swęntŭs, Old Prussian swentas.

Spéñištá is the most sacred, the most auspicious, and the most shining or brilliant fire.

The identifications of the five fires are the same in Zātspram, pp. 40-41, chap. 3.77-82. ,

But in the Bundahišn, pp. 123-24; tr. pp. 156-59, chap. 18.2-7, bərəzi.sava is held to be the fire which burns before Öhrmazd, and spéñištá that which is present in Victorious Fires.


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