Ahura Mazda (Ohrmazd) and Ahriman

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The good God and the Evil Spirit in Zoroastrianism. In zoroaster's Gāthās, Ahura Mazda, "The Wise Lord" (the ancient name of Ohrmazd, and used by Darius and his successors), was the father of the twin spirits the Holy One (Spenta Mainyu) and the Destructive One (Anra Mainyu, hence Ahriman), who at the origin of the world made a choice, respectively, in favor of good and evil. Later, in more recent parts of the Avesta, Ahura Mazda became identified with the Holy One, thus becoming the direct opposite of Anra Mainyu, and on a level with him. The origin of evil is no longer explained as the consequence of a choice, but is either left unaccounted for, Ohrmazd and Ahriman being coeval, or reinterpreted in the light of zervanism, a Persian speculative doctrine on time. Zervan, "Time," is said to have offered sacrifice for 1,000 years before the world existed, in order to have an offspring. At the end of this period, Ohrmazd was born to him, but also Ahrimanthe latter as the result of a doubt that came to Zervan about the efficacy of his sacrifice.

Bibliography: r. c. zaehner, The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism (New York 1961). j. duchesne-guillemin, La Religion de l'Iran ancien (Paris 1962).

[j. duchesne-guillemin]