The Zoroastrian god of combat/victory, Vərəθra.ghna, Vahrám or Bahram

Vərəθra ghna is the great warrior god of Zoroastrianism and one of the principal figures in the Zoroastrian pantheon. In traditional Zoroastrianism, vərəθra.ghna is the MOST BELOVED of all the Immortals, for he personifies the “warrior spirit, great victory and virility.” Vərəθra.ghna is the “victorious god-force that shatters every barrier, obstacle, wall.”

In ancient Zoroastrianism, Immortals have each their own ham-kár “co-creators and/or co-workers” among yazatás or adorable god-beings. The co-workers of ašá/arθá “superb artistry, ingenuity to piece together, cosmic order” are: áθar/áthar “heat, fire,” sraôšá “inspiration, hearkening to the counsel of inspiring creativity,” and vərəθra.ghna “victory, shattering of barriers, limitations.”

In Zoroastrianism the worship of God means the adoration of a god-force or power, embodied in the encouragement and cultivation of all the wondrous virtues of Godhood. The religion of the poetic gathas and ancient Zoroastrianism is NOT rooted in any kind of fear, neither in fear of the gods nor in fear of death.

The Zoroastrian faith is rather a coming together, a union, of Immortal Gods and god-men in in virtues/powers common to both namely: the “powers of mind to recall and summon into being” mazdá and “formulating order, excellence and beauty” ašá/arθá.

Through “courage and power of the spirit” manö, mortals are elevated to the realm of the Immortals. The great gifts of the Immortals to mortals are COURAGE to face the world as it is and the good fortune to win/thrive in tight places, in the very midst of the blows of destiny.

It is the great spiritual strength of the poetic gathas and Ancient Zoroastrianism to feel a deep joy in fate, in the battle between the limitation of demons and mortal men verses the brilliant boundlessness of the Immortal Gods.

In Zoroastrianism the true awe and worship of the Immortals is to overcome limitations and become a co-creator of the divine in the “superb artistry of the cosmic order ašá/arθá.”

The “victorious warrior ahûrá” of Zoroastrianism vərəθra.ghna, embodies the “heroic struggle against limitation, stagnation and decline.” In the most beautiful “victory formula” of the poetic gathas, the same ideal of triumph appears as vərəθrem-já, “shatterer of barriers, walls, obstacles.”

Avestan vərəθra “enclosure, barrier, wall” is a cognate with Lithuanian vartai “shut, lock, close, gate,” Vedic vṛtri to “enclose, wall off” and comes from reconstructed proto Indo European*wṛtró, (See Didier Clain.)

The second part of the name, Avestan ghna or jna to “break open, strike, slay” is a cognate with Old Norse gunnr “combat,” Lithuanian genù “hunt” and Russian gon, all coming from the reconstructed proto Indo European *ghwen, (See Didier Clain.)

In the Avestan language we have a neuter noun, vərəθra.ghna– “shattering of obstacles,” and an adjective vərəθra.ghan– “victorious.”

The adjective vərəθra.ghan– is applied to god powers and is also an epithet of fire. The Vərəθra.ghna Fire is the ancestor of the Ātaš Bahrám or the “Victorious Fire” of more modern times, the holiest and most sacred grade of fire in Zoroastrianism.

Victorious is also an epithet of the Zoroastrian saöšiiánts, future leaders who will usher in new ages of brilliant success and triumph. Thraæ.taô.na (the third one) or the foremost physician is also described by the same adjective.

Vərəθra.ghna has a corresponding Vedic term, vṛtrahán, a well-known epithet of Indra, one of whose many feats was the slaying of the dragon Vṛtra “blockage.”

One theory suggests that both vərəθra.ghna and vṛtrahán were originally an Indo-Iranian ahûrá/asura. While Iran conserved the original, ancient ahüric figure, Vedic India is thought to have made an innovation, promoting Indra to the rank of an asura and attributing to him the characteristics and functions of *Vṛtra.ghan, (See H. Lommel, Der arische Kriegsgott.)

The heroic 14th Yašt of the Avesta lists the favors and gifts bestowed by Vərəθra.ghna on prophet Zaraθ.ûštrá and on those who worship the yazatá or adorable god of victory. They are victory in thought, victory in word and victory in action, as well as victory in declamatory speech and in retort, in conformity with a conception dating back to the Indo-Aryan practice of verbal contest (F. B. J. Kuiper, “The Ancient Aryan Verbal Contest,” IIJ 4,1960, pp. 243, 246).

The 14th Yašt’s main theme is the triumphant power of the yazatá in combat and the Victory the God transmits to the Airyás (Noble Ones) to confound all their enemies. The 14th Yašt also deals with the wondrous shapeshifting of vərəθra.γna and the oracles linked to him based on the falling or flying of a falcon’s feather.

The Yašt also describes a group of unknown people called the Vyámbûras who shed innocent animal blood, burn prohibited wood, and make the most sadistic and cruel animal sacrifices. The Avestan hymn abhors and denounces such demonic ritual practices in the cult of the adorable god of victory and counsels the worshippers of Mazdá to stay away from such vile demon worship. (vv. 54-56). It appears that the references to such ritual practices were closely associated with the cult of Indra. (See Benveniste and Renou)

In Zoroastrianism Godhood is again and again regarded as “Inspiring creativity and superb ingenuity and artistry of the natural law/cosmic order.” Godhood is boundlessness of genius and goodness.

Mortals are given a great destiny in which they must prove themselves. In the very midst of the blows of destiny — the adorable Vərəθra.ghna the “victorious god-force that shatters every barrier, obstacle and wall” seem to be the right role model in the battle between the limitation of demons and mortal men verses the brilliant boundlessness of the Immortal Gods.



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2 Responses to The Zoroastrian god of combat/victory, Vərəθra.ghna, Vahrám or Bahram

  1. Anwar says:

    Well, this write up introduces confusion Ardeshir. It implies the belief in multiple Gods and as such is evidence of Polytheist influence and contamination. The Parsi of India can hardly help but have this influence and the schools seem to need the stimulation and constant learning involved in such religious studies so to pass time. But pacification is not the purpose of Zoroastrianism nor is intellectual stimulation, nor baby sitting. The concept and order is clear in the Gathas and the numerous volumes and opinions and attempts to merge with other concepts are only impurities. It is understandable when one finds the purity and truth to want others to share in it. But I think it a mistake to consider people who subscribe to other religions to be “other” people. We are the same and appeals toward Zoroastrianism need no transitional mixture of faiths.

  2. Pingback: Mazda, Odin and the Sacred Fire of Zoroaster – rainwindandwolf

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