Most religions see the Devil or Satan as the antithesis of God and all that is good. Although this archfiend features in some form or the other in almost every religion, many scholars aver that the concept of the ‘evil spirit’, as also ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’ was first introduced by Zoroastrianism, especially to the three Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam .
The Devil In Various Religions:
In the Bible the Devil or Satan initially emerges in the book of Genesis as a serpent who tempts Eve who in turn tempts Adam to eat the forbidden fruit from the legendary ‘tree of the knowledge’ in the mythical Garden of Eden. Both Christianity and Islam view Satan as a ‘fallen angel’ or one who was originally good but rebelled against God. In Buddhist folklore the ‘evil one’ is referred to as Mara who also tries to disturb Siddhartha before attaining enlightenment and becoming Buddha (the enlightened one). In Judaism, Satan is viewed as a metaphor for yetzer hara, or ‘evil inclination’. This concept of ‘evil inclination’ is quite similar to the Zoroastrian concept of Angra Mainyu or ‘evil mentality’.
A Deeper Understanding:
If one deeply studies the allegories enshrined in all these religions, what really emerges is the struggle within the human mind in exercising the choice between good and evil. The devil is essentially a state within the human mind. What everyone should exorcise (eliminate) is not any external devil in possession of one’s body or mind, but the metaphorical ‘devil within’, inhabiting us in the form of all negative emotions and evil mentality.
Zoroastrian Form Of Exorcism:
In the Zoroastrian tradition, one is expected, on waking, to recite a short prayer known as ‘Nirang-i-Gomez Mālidan’ three times. It is a prayer to exorcise or drive away Ahriman the Accursed, first thing on waking up to a brand-new day! The Nirang is as follows:
“Shekasteh Shekasteh Sheytān,
Ahriman gajasteh kār o kerdār,
Na rasad gajasteh kār o kerdār;
Si-o-sē Ameshāspand Dādār Hormazd pirozgar pāk;
Ashaone Ashem Vohū”.
“(May) Satan (be) defeated and destroyed!
(May) the works and workers of Ahriman the accursed (be) destroyed!
May not works and workers of (that) accursed (Ahriman) reach (me)!
The thirty-three Holy Immortals (Ameshaspands)
And the Creator Hormazd be victorious and holy.”
The language of this Nirang is Persian and therefore believed to be a prayer composed in later times. In older Avestan texts, the reference is not to Ahriman but to Angra Mainyu.
Angra Mainyu – A State Of The Mind:
‘Mainyu’ is variously translated as ‘Spirit’, an abstract energy or ‘Mind’ (Sanskrit mana or mind). ‘Angra’ is viewed as destructive, chaotic, disorderly and inhibitive. One of the chief manifestations of Angra is destruction, which arises from anger – and anger is a state of the mind. Thus, Angra Mainyu is a destructive, chaotic, disorderly and inhibitive state of the mind which often manifests into anger and destruction of all that is good.
In Yasna 30.3 there is reference to Aka Mainyu. Aka is Avestan for ‘evil’ or ‘deficient’ and is the antithesis of Spenta which is good and bounteous. Thus, while the earlier Avestan texts refer to Angra Mainyu in the abstract, the later Middle Persian texts refer to a more personalized embodiment of evil by the name Ahriman. But, Angra Mainu or Ahriman, both are in eternal conflict with all that is good and bountiful.
Angra Mainyu Is Only A Shadow:
Theologically Angra Mainyu is limited to material space and time and at the end of time, Angra Mainyu will be finally defeated or simply disappear because Angra Mainyu is akin to a shadow. A shadow is simply the absence of reflected light. It is impossible to prove shadow as a standalone object. Scientifically speaking, shadow exists only in relationship to a light source, a disrupting object and an object in the background.
In other words, if Truth is light and the mind is the disorderly obstructive object, what is seen in the background of life is the shadow of the devil. But, let the light of truth shine through a mind attuned to that light (of truth) and there would be no obstruction and no shadow would seen in the background of life. There would be just light! Little wonder that certain Pahlavi texts view Ahriman as ‘nonexistent’!
Arda Viraf Nameh: The Book of Ardā Wīrāz (Middle Persian Ardā Wīrāz Nāmag) is a Zoroastrian religious text of the Sasanian era written in Middle Persian or Pahlavi. It describes the journey of the soul of a devout (Wīrāz) Zoroastrian priest in a state of trance (induced by a form of wine mixed with various herbs) to the other world. According to this book, his soul crosses the Chinvat Bridge and is led by Srosh and Adar Yazad to observe heaven and hell. The souls of those who had diligently fulfilled their duties on earth and led a life of piety were seen rejoicing and those who were wicked and lived a life of deceit suffered in hell. But, what is of greater significance in this book, is the reference of the narrator Ardā Wīrāz to ‘the reality of Ahura Mazda and the Amesha Spenta and the non-reality of Ahriman and his horde of demons’. This concept of ‘non-reality’ is also expressed in other Pahlavi texts, such as the Denkard (written during the ninth century AD.) which assets that Ahriman “has never been and never will be.”
The concept of Shaitan (Satan) or the devil evolved during the Sassanid period. Zarathushtra makes no reference to a personified embodiment of evil or Satan in the Gatha. The original concept was Angra Mainyu which is evil or dark mentality (Mainyu is derived from Sanskrit Mana or Mind). Angra Mainyu can be kept away by following Spenta Mainyu or Good Mentality.
The Morning Prayer – ‘Shekasteh Shekasteh Sheytān – is essentially a Positive Affirmation to stay attuned with one’s good mentality and reject dark mentality. Affirmations are positive statements that can help one to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging, negative thoughts. Affirmations are not ‘wishful thinking’. Daily repetition can reprogram one’s thinking patterns and over time, one actually begins to think and act differently.
Evil has no real existence. Evil is simply the absence of good, just as darkness is absence of light. When we choose light we automatically reject darkness and when we choose goodness we automatically reject evil.
Do not fear The Devil. Fear becoming a Devil! Do not let the Devil wear your weakness!!