Myth: Mount Damavand in Iran is a mountain in Northern Iran where a demon is enchained. Therefore, it would be improper to call it holy or to revere it! It is a beautiful mountain. It is the tallest mountain in Iran, but, there is nothing holy about it!
Fact: Mount Damavand is indeed the highest peak in the Albourz mountain range. However, to devout Zoroastrians, Mount Damavand is as sacred as Mount Kailash is to devout Hindus and Mount Fuji is to the Japanese.
Since very ancient times, mountains have held a place of special reverence in Zoroastrian lore. There is nothing pagan about this belief, because all devout Zoroastrians have been enjoined with a sacred duty to look after, respect and revere all the good creations of Ahura Mazda.
In the prayer pertaining to homage unto mountains, we pray:
“Az hama gunah patet pashemanum; Vispao garayo asha-khvathrao pouru-khvathrao mazdadhata ashavana ashahe ratavo yazamaide.”
Meaning: “Of all sins, I repent with patet. We praise all holy mountains created by Hormazd (which are) fully comfortable (spacious and with goodness and fulness) full of welfare (spiritual and material) (and) useful things of righteousness (grow there).”
In other words, mountains are powerful spiritual strongholds emanating abundance of positive energy. In mystic circles, mountains signify, among other things, “cosmic or spiritual consciousness”. It is little wonder why Asho Zarathushtra is believed to have lived for ten years on Mount Ushidarena contemplating the Truth of this universe.
In Karda VIII of “Sarosh Yasht Vadi”, we pray: “Sraoshem ashim huraodhem verethrajanem,
fradat-gaethem ashavanem ashahe ratum yazamaide. Yim yazata Haomo Frashmish baeshazyo,
sriro, khshathrayo, zairi-doithro, barezishte paiti barezahi Haraithyo paiti Berezayao.”
Meaning: “We worship the righteous and Holy Sarosh (yazata), beautiful, victorious, bringing-prosperity to the world, (and) the Lord of righteousness; whom Haomo, prosperity-bringer, healing, beautiful, kingly (and) golden-eyed worshipped upon the highest peak of the Mount Albourz.”
From the aforesaid, we gather that the celestial home of Sraosha Yazata, the vice-regent of Hormazd, is situated “upon the highest peak of the Mount Albourz” (i.e., the highest point or plane of cosmic/spiritual consciousness).
The Enchained Demon
According to legend, King Faridoon of the Peshdadian dynasty, with his spiritual powers, had bound and imprisoned Azhi Dahaka or Zohak (the personification of evil) to this sacred mountain. They say by night (when the forces of darkness and evil gain more strength) Azhi Dahaka’s allegorical chains begin to weaken and melt but, at the crack of dawn, when the rooster crows ushering the forces of light and purity, the chains, once again, binds the demon securely. This is simply a Truth in Nature, brilliantly expressed in allegorical form.
Only light exists. Darkness is simply the absence of light. In like manner, evil is the absence of Good. Zohak is the personification of evil in the form of a legend. Darkness gains strength in the absence of light, but vanishes in the presence of light. In like manner evil cannot be encountered with evil. Only good can dispel evil just the way light dispels darkness.
In conclusion, may we invoke the eighth verse of the Pazand prayer, ‘Afreen-i-haft Ameshaspandan’:
“Hama-zor Daemavand koh ke dravand bivarasp andar oye basta ested.”
Meaning: “Be in accord (or attuned) with Daemavand Koh (mountain) in which is enchained the demon Bivarasp, the demon (with power) of ten thousand horses.”
Translated liberally, this means be attuned, and like mount Damavand, which is powerful enough (the strength of ten thousand horses), to keep personal weaknesses enchained and under control.