The Zoroastrian Creation Story
Retold by Rebecca Cann
Illustrations by Hannah M.G. Shapero
Illustrations by Hannah M.G. Shapero
This story is taken from the Book of Creation, the Bundahishn, which dates from the 6th century AD.
In the beginning, there was nothing in the world except Ahura Mazda, the Wise Lord, who lived in the Endless Light. And the Evil Spirit, Ahriman, who lived in the Absolute Darkness. Between them lay only emptiness.
One day, Ahura Mazda decided to make different creations. First He shaped the sky made of metal, shinning and bright. Second, He made the pure water. Third, the Wise Lord created the Earth, flat and round with no mountains and valleys. Fourth, He made the plants, moist and sweet with no bark or thorn.
Fifth, he created the animals, big and small. Then he created the First Man, Gayomard, bright, tall, and handsome. And lastly, he created Fire and distributed it within the whole creation. The Wise Lord ordered Fire to serve the mankind in preparing food and overcoming cold.
The Evil Spirit peeked out of his dark world to see the Wise Lord’s beautiful creations. The Wise Lord called him and said, "Evil Spirit! Aid my creatures and give them praise so that you will be immortal."
The Evil Spirit snarled, "Why should I aid your creatures? Why should I praise them? I am more powerful! I will destroy you and your creatures for ever and ever." Then he crawled back to his dark side to shape demons, witches, and monsters to attack the Endless Light.
The Wise Lord was All-knowing. He knew the Evil Spirit was making demons to destroy His good creations, and He also knew there would be a great battle with the Dark. So the Wise Lord fashioned six Spirits-the Holy Immortals- to guard His creations against the Endless Dark. The Wise Lord shaped the Holy Immortals from His own soul, each having His own nature.
The first Holy Spirit was Khashathra, the Righteous Power, who became the guardian of the sky. Then the Wise Lord created Haurvatat, the Peace and Perfection. She became the protector of waters. Next was Spenta Armaiti, the Holy Devotion. She guarded the Earth.
The other Holy Spirit, Ameretat, the Immortality, became the protector of plants. Vohu Manah, the Good Mind, was the fifth Holy Spirit. He chose to protect the animals. And Asha Vahishta, the Justice, became the guardian of Fire. Lastly, the Wise Lord made His own Holy Spirit the protector of the mankind.
Ahriman saw the Wise Lord’s Holy Immortals and was enraged. He cried, "Ahura Mazda! I will destroy you and all your creations. You will never be victorious!
So, he and his demons attacked the God’s creations one by one. They tried to destroy the water but they could only bring bitterness to it. They tried to destroy the Earth but they could only put mountains and valleys. They tried to wither the plants but the plants only grew horns.
The Evil Spirit and his demons brought sadness against happiness, pain against pleasure, pollution against purification and death against life. They attacked Gayomard, the First man, and gave him sickness and death.
Ahriman thought he had destroyed the mankind and became victorious against the Light! But he was ignorant and foolish. When Gayomard, the First Man, died from his bones grew a rhubarb plant. After forty years, a man and a woman, Mashya and Mashyana, grew out of the rhubarb plant.
Mashya and Mashyana promised the Wise Lord that their children would help Him in His battle with Ahriman. Mashyana then gave birth to fifteen twins and every pair scattered around the world and became a race.
Then each person followed the good thoughts, good deeds, and good words. Each became the follower of the Wise Lord in His battle with the Evil Spirit.