The falcon, and the fiery good fortune of the wise-seer rulers in the Avesta


In Avesta, the sacred lore of the Zoroastrians, the “Victorious Lord” Verethraγna/Verethraghna, the great yazatá or “hallowed god of victory” takes the bodily shape of a “fiery bird” called várǝγna/váreghna in his seventh incarnation. The Old Avestan dictionaries translate várǝγna/váreghna into the German word for bird or “Vogel,” or the name of a bird. The name simply means “the bird,” and refers to mythical “falcon or hawk.”

We read in the verse 19 of the hymn to Victory: ahmái haptathö ájasat vazemnö//verethraghnö ahûra-dhátö//mereghahæ kehrpa váreghnahæ

To him for the seventh time he came flying//the Victorious Lord, set into motion by the ahuras//in the bodily form of a fiery falcon//

The name of the “fiery bird” váreghna is closely associated with the “mythical falcon/hawk” Simorgh. The mythical falcon/hawk represents the union between heaven and earth in ancient Iranian mythology, serving as mediator bird and messenger of the Immortals. The name Simorgh appears in the Avesta as mərəγö saænö ‘the falcon/hawk bird.”

The “swift flying hawk or falcon” in the ancient Greek poetry of Hesiod corresponds to the fiery falcon/bird of the Avesta váreghna. In Hervarar saga (10 ad fin.) of the Norse mythology, Odin under the identity of a stranger takes the form of a falcon. Also Loki, in order to go flying, has to borrow a special “falcon form” valhamr from Freyja or Frigg.

In the Norse myth, the Giant Thiazi, taking the form of an eagle/falcon, carries off Idunn “The Rejuvenating One.” Idunn is the owner and dispenser of apples that impart immortality. After the capture of Idunn, the Immortals are begin to grow old and grey, until the Lady Of Youth Idunn is recaptured by Loki, flying in the form of a falcon.

In the beautiful Zaam-yád Yašt “Hymn to the good earth,” the fiery glory” leaves Yimá, the great ruler of the golden age, (a cognate of Norse Ymir) in the form of váreghna “hawk or falcon.”

In the Avestan hymn to the sacred mountains and the earth Zaam-yád, the imagery of “luminous glory or godly charm” xarənah is intertwined with váreghna “hawk or falcon.” Xarənah comes from Scytho-Sarmatian and Alan farnah, and is a “magic force or power of luminous and fiery nature”.

The Persian name farrox/farrokh “fortunate, blessed, lucky” comes from the same ancient Avestan root.

In traditional Zoroastrian interpretations “glory,” “splendor,” “luminosity” and “shining fortune,” connected with sun and fire, are considered the primary meanings of the term farr(ah)xarənahxarənah.

Avestan xarənah– “shinning fortune, godly charisma, glory” is traditionally reconstructed from the verb hvar “to shine.” Kellens however, derives it from the root xar “to eat,” and argues that xarəna refers to “the magical power obtained after eating sacred fruits.”

In Yašt 10.127, the kávi-“wise ruler/ seer priest” is identified with a “blazing fire” (átarš yöupa.sûxtö,) that precedes Mithrá in his chariot. Mithrá is associated with the “sun, heavenly lights,” and represents friendship/favor with the Immortal Gods.

In the Avesta, the “fiery glory and shining fortune” of xarəna belongs to the “Supreme God of Mind Powers” Ahûrá Mazdá (Yt. 19.10); the “Brilliant, Auspicious Immortals” aməša spəṇtás (Yt. 19.15); and the “hallowed gods” yazatás (Yt. 19.22), including Mithrá who is the “the most endowed with glory” xarən.aŋu.hastəma, (Yt.19.35; Vd. 19.15.)

As a “fiery, living, creative force” xarəna/farna is also associated with the waters of the wide shored ocean Vouru.kaša (Yt. 19.51, 19.56-57) holy waters, and the sacred lakes.

The sacred lore of the Zoroastrians, Avesta, talks of the “luminous, fiery glory of the ancient wise rulers/seer priests” (kavaæm xarənö,) the “luminous, fiery glory of the Aryans, (airya.nąm xarənö,) and of the “magical, fiery glory” of the Mazdá worshipping religion/vision, and the future “victorious giants of the ages,” the saôšiiánts.

The Avestan hymn to the “sacred mountains and earth” provides a summary of sacred history, the heart of which is about the “luminous, godly glory” xarənah– of the “ancient philosopher kings/ seer priests” kávi– in the land of Scythians (Sîstán,) and how this “fiery, noble glory” will pass from ancient Kávis such as Haô-srava (73-77,) Vīšt.áspá (83-87,) and Prophet Zarathustra (78-82,) to the Giant of the future age, the victorious saôšiiáṇt who embodies “excellence incarnate (in bone, flesh) astvat-areta.

In passages 53-54 of the same hymn, the supreme God Ahûrá Mazdá informs prophet/seer Zarathustra that “every mortal” kas.čiṱ mašiia.nąm must seek the fiery and luminous xarənah-, in order to obtain good fortune and success.

The concept/idea of the “godly, fiery glory” of the Kávî, the ancient “wise, seers and rulers” of the ancient Indo Europeans was later mingled with that of “divine fortune and charismatic kingship,” in the Achaemenid inscriptions in phrases such as “by the wish/favor of Ahûrá Mazdá” (vašná Aûramazdáha.)

The solar, fiery aspects of xarənafarna in the form of a “flying sun-disc” became the sign of the dynastic charisma of the Achaemenid sovereigns later.

This motif of the “divine good luck,” of the “wise rulers and airyás” in the form of a “fiery bird or solar falcon” was also depicted in the banner of the kávis or derafš kávián of the ancient Iranian royal dynasties.

Several scholars have argued that it is depicted in a damaged portion of the Alexander mosaic from Pompeii, at the battle of Issus. Xenophon (Anabasis 1.10.12) mentions that the standard of the Achaemenid king was a golden eagle/falcon on a shield carried on a spear. Arthur Christensen states that same motif of “divine falcon representing godly glory” was the royal standard of the Sassanid dynasty in the imagery of the Derafše Kávî-án.

The concept was carried over, and became widespread in the Hellenistic and Roman period, in the idea tychē basileōsfortuna regia; the fortune of the rulers/sovereigns.

ardeshir

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