Avestan Druj “distortion, devastation, lie,” Old Persian Drauga, and Old Norse Draugr


In Zoroastrianism, the ahûrás are regarded as “eternal quest for excellence,” embodied in the superb artistry of the cosmic order. The connecting link between Immortal Gods and men is ašá/arthá “excellence, discovery, creative order, truth.”

Ašá/Arthá is the very nature of the “ahûrás or the God-Powers of mazdá,” and the source of all wonders/good ašem vôhü.

Mortal men join with Immortals in the struggle against drûj “lie, deceit, delusion, distortion and devastation.”

Just as ašá/arthá is the reference point for ratü “solver of riddles” and mánθrá “thought provoking formulas” of ahûrá mazdá the “supreme god of inspiring creativity, imagination, mind-power;” drûj is the reference point for the “devious scheming” of the daævás the “trickster deities.”

Drûj represents “distortion, devastation and torment.” It is the adversary of the cosmic order, and the foundation of Mazdean dualism, in the dual confrontation between “cosmic order/truth” ašá/arthá and “distortion, lie” drûj.

Drûj is attested 18 times in the poetic gathas. It comes once in the form of drûḵš and 18 times as drûj. The adjective term dreg.váv and/or dreg.vant in the gathas, is a derivation and means “follower/partisan of drûj, a deceiver, distorter, trickster!”

Avestan drûj is a cognate of Vedic druh “devastation, afflicting demon,” Proto Germanic draugaz “distortion, lie,” Icelandic drɑuɣr̩ “ghost, vampire,” Old Norse draugr “shadow, phantom,” German Trug “fraud, deception,” and Persian dorūġ “lie.”

In Norse mythology, draugr are undead figures that wreak havoc on living beings. Draugr carry the unmistakable stench of decay, have the appearance of a dead body, are swollen, blackened and hideous to look at. The Old Norse account of draugr is very much reminiscent of the Avestan nasü drûj “decay/lie within a necro/nasü or dead matter, corpse,” mentioned so often in the Avestan purity texts!

Drûj “distortion, lie,” motivates the choice and action of the daævás the “trickster deities.” In the poetic gathas, daævás because of their “scheming,” love of “bloody sacrifices,” and their “hostility to greater becoming/betterment” of mortal men, considered NOT to be divine, but are diabolic.”

In Zoroastrianism, slavish relation/submission to an “arrogant, cruel, tyrannical and tormenting deity” denotes demon worship, and NOT god-worship. True God-Worship is rooted in the will power to ENHANCE Life and MAGNIFY GODHOOD ahûrö masatá mazdáv.

In Mazd-yasna, mortal man’s destiny is to embody the brilliant virtues of the Immortals, greatness of the spirit, and to become Godlike. Man stands with his great soul beside Immortal Gods, as their ally and friend, and not their sacrificing slave.

An ally and friend of the Immortals, is described as a-drujiiantö “free from torment, devastation, distortion and lie,” in the poetic gathas.

While the slaves of the trickster deities are called tanû.drûj- “lie-incarnate or tangible falsehood,” and miθrö.druj- “insincere, untruthful in friendship with the Immortal Gods.”

I like to conclude first by this beautiful passage from the gathas and then by an Old Persian Inscription of Darius the Great:

kat ašavá mazdá véñg.hat dreg.vañ.tem

When shall the follower of excellence/cosmic order win over the treacherous liar, O Mazda (God of Inspiring Creativity/Mind Power?)

The battle between the “follower of excellence/truth” and the “follower of devastation and lie” refers to the preceding verse in the gathas namely: the “triumph of Immortals over diabolic deities and mortals,” for the age of Immortals and god-men will come at last.

ameretá.itî daævá.iš.čá mašiiá.iš.čá

A great god is ahûrá mazdá, the greatest of the gods of good fortune 

auramazdå vazraka hya mathišta bag 

May ahûrá mazdá protect this country from invaders, from bad year/famine, and from draugarotten lie.”

biš utâ imâm dahyâum auramazda pâtuv hacâ hainâyâ hacâ dušiyârâ hacâ draugâ


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