‘Shekaste Shekaste Shaitan!’

Zoroastrian religion is a monotheistic faith and Zoroastrians believe in one God – Ahura Mazda, the Wise Lord. He is also referred to as Dadar-e-gehan Daman or creator of the Universe. He is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient; the fount of all things good and beautiful, all things wise and wonderful; He is just and good, pure, uncorrupted and incorruptible. He creates in abundance and gives in abundance for his creations to enjoy. He is the opposer and protector against all things bad and evil.

Zarathushtra tells us Dadar Ahura Mazda created the universe and maintains it with cosmic laws.  Ahura Mazda also created the Twin Spirits – Spenta Mainyu and the Angre Mainyu (Ahriman: the middle Persian equivalent of Angra Mainyu). Spenta Mainyu is the embodiment of everything that Ahura Mazda stands for and is the antithesis of everything that Angre Mainyu stands for – everything evil, dark, deceitful, maleficent and malevolent. Spenta Mainyu maintains the infinite realms of Ahura Mazda, the terrestrial shores like water, earth, air, plant life and even the unborn children. Angra Mainyu dwells in darkness, disease, death, is deceitful and destructive.

However, this does not indicate that Zoroaster preached a Dualistic Philosophy. Far from it. Dualism would indicate that the forces of evil are as powerful as Ahura Mazda. No! Ahriman is neither co-equal of Ahura Mazda nor has co-eternal powers. Zarathushtra was very clear about the limitation of all evil. A true Zoroastrian life is spent in the struggle of Asa, (goodness and truth), against the forces of Druj (evil). In Ahunavaiti Gatha, Yasna 30.3 we read, “And now when these two spirits together came, they in the beginning created Life and Not-Life” (translation of Dr. Irach J S Taraporewala). The same line is again interpreted very lucidly by Rohinton F Nariman as “Those who are of greater understanding choose to be upright; not so those who are of lesser understanding.” And this is the very foundation of the mighty edifice of Zoroastrianism! In Yasna XIV, Zarathushtra declares, “I will speak of the Twin Spirits at the very beginning of life, of whom the holier spake thus to the wicked one: Never shall our minds harmonize, nor our doctrines; neither our aspirations, nor yet our beliefs: neither our words nor yet our actions; neither hearts nor yet our souls.”

Zoroastrianism is about the mental conflict between the truth and the forces of evil i.e. Ahriman. Even so, Zoroastrianism is by no means, dualistic. Zarathushtra taught of Twin Spirits but His teachings are non-dualistic. This idea might have crept into Zoroastrian Philosophy at later times. Dig a little deeper and we figure that Ahriman, unknowingly, works for Pak Dadar Ahura Mazda – he is a small part of the grand plan by Ahura Mazda!  Ahriman represents the second phase of His eternal activity. The first being the creation and its maintenance, the second being the destruction, or rather the dissolution. One can see that the universe, as we know today, has gone through tremendous changes; it has progressed from the moment it ‘Big-banged’ from singularity and evolved to its present form which required renovation and renewal… this would not have taken place without the forces of destruction.

It is very clear that Ahura Mazda and Ahriman are not in any way equal, but, they are in everything, opposites. Destruction is also a part of God’s plan. This is logical. The progress of the universe consists in renovation and renewal, which is impossible without the destruction of what has ceased to help in the forward march of creation. It is true that good comes out of even the evil.  Ahura Mazda stands alone – unequalled, unparalleled, supreme.

 Nirang-I Ardibehesht Yasht, beautifully brings out the contrast between Dadar Ahura Mazda and Ahriman. It tells us that Ahura Mazda is the creator and the keeper of the world, He is omnipotent and omniscient, nourisher of all and is the overseer and the doer of the good deeds. Ahriman is nothing whatsoever – the ‘not-life’. Hormazd is the creator, Ahriman the destroyer. The creator is Holy whereas Ahriman is wicked. May Ahriman perish, be vanquished, defeated and overcome.  Hormazd is exalted, powerful and good. In the introductory passage of Khorshed Nyaish too, we read of the awe-inspiring attributes of Ahura Mazda. Presumptuous as Ahriman may be, his kingdom of evil will eventually be destroyed. Asho Zarathushtra declares in Gatha 30.10, “Then indeed the support of the Falsehood shall come down, and broken shall be its power” This tells us that all evil shall ultimately perish, thus indicating that neither is Ahriman a co-equal nor is he co-eternal of Ahura Mazda.

And this is why we pray every morning, upon getting out of the bed and saying our prayers in praise of the Almighty Ahura Mazda – “Shekaste, Shekaste Shaitan!” or Let the evil one be defeated, broken and overcome!


Dara M Khodaiji
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