Farahvashis the Zoroastrian Guardian Spirits

  July 31, 2021   Read time 2 min
Farahvashis the Zoroastrian Guardian Spirits
Zoroastrianism is sometimes described as being based on dualism. This is the belief that good and evil are two equal and opposing forces that balance the universe. Zarathustra himself introduced the notion of opposing forces, Truth and the Lie, in the Gathas.

In referring to these forces, he used the word mainyu, which can mean both “spirit” and “mentality.” He called them “twins” (Ys. 30) and said that they “never agree.” Zoroastrians have often debated just what Zarathustra meant when he described these forces. Were they both the creations of Ahura Mazda? Did they already exist in the universe before creation? Or do they exist only within the human heart and mind? The Gathas do not really say. Did Zarathustra mean spirits of the sort to which the human mind can give shape and character? Or was he creating a metaphor about human mentalities, the spirit within? Zoroastrians and historians cannot agree on the interpretation.

The idea of dualism is the way Zarathustra answered the question that has plagued believers of many religions throughout history. How can the existence of evil in the world be explained? Why doesn’t a good and all-powerful God simply do away with evil, ignorance, and injustice? According to Zoroastrian belief Ahura Mazda created the world in two stages. The first was the spiritual, or Menog, stage. Ahura Mazda created the fravashis (guardian spirits) of all living things. All thing including human life, had no physical form. Everything was pure and without evil. Ahura Mazda asked the fravashis if he should give them physical form. He warned that if he did so they would no longer be perfect. Evil would enter the creation. If it did so they would have to fi ght a long and hard battle to defeat it. The fravashis, however, wanted physical bodies. With physical form they would be free to act rather than remain forever in a state of inaction. In return for physical being they would fi ght Evil.

Ahura Mazda brought the physical, or Getig, world into being. As he had warned, with it came evil in the form of Angra Mainyu, or Ahriman, who would bring imperfection, sin, evil, and death into the world. Ahura Mazda then set the holy spirit, Spenta Mainyu, the Truth, to guide the fravashis and to lead the battle against Angra Mainyu, the Lie. With the twin spirits, Truth and the Lie, the world entered a stage called Gumezishn, the Mixture. This is the stage in which people live today. Good and Bad, Truth and The Lie, both exist in the universe. These two can never agree and so they must fight each other for the souls of humankind. Humans must fight evil in their hearts and minds. This they do with the help of Spenta Mainyu, the holy spirit of Ahura Mazda, and the Beneficent Immortals. By living ethical lives and following the path of Asha people participate in the battle against Ahriman. Their good actions help to bring about the destruction of evil. Toward the end of this Gumezishn stage, three saviors will be born one thousand years apart. They will lead the righteous in the final battle against evil.

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