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The Destructive Spirit and the Daevas in the early Gathic Avestan Worldview

Copyright: @2014 John Easter.

The Destructive Spirit and the Daevas in the early Gathic Avestan Worldview

John Easter

Ahriman is the Middle Persian equivalent for Angra Mainyu. Angra Mainyu is from the older Gathic Avestan language of the Gathas where it means destructive/hostile spirit/mentality. Other names include Akem Mainyu(evil spirit/mentality), Debaoma(arch-deluder or deceiver), Dush-Sastish(false teacher), Aka Manah(evil mind and the opposite of Vohu Manah/loving mind), and Druj which means injurious falsehood, the opposite of Asha(truth/goodness/art), and the essence of evil in the wickedest, deepest, and un-holiest sense. Druj is cognate to Vedic Sanskrit Druh, which means injuring, injurer, hurtful, hostile, fiend, and afflicting demon. Druh is the opposite of Rta which is the Vedic Sanskrit cognate of Asha.

“The stagnated spirit of evil, consumed by “destructive lust” for and “envy” (areshk) of “the unlimited mind power” of Ahúrá Ma(n)zdá in accomplishing and realizing his luminous thoughts/visions; insinuated his malice, cruelty and frustration into the material manifestation of the Gd of Genius; inflicting it with his misery, wreck and ruin.”
-Herbad Ardeshir Farahmand, Why do bad things happen to the innocent and the good?

The evil spirit is regarded in the Poetic Gathas as the distorter and destroyer of perception, spiritual vision, creativity, artfulness, and inspired music and sounds, the perverter and marrer of the life force in beings and nature that brings disharmony, disparity, malformation, decay, and death, and the teacher and master of falsehood, aggressiveness, deceptive mind formulas and mantras, delusions, illusions, and Acishtahya Manah(House of Worst Mind/Hell). Ahriman is also called Daevanam Daeva(daeva of daevas), which means evil god of evil gods or demon of demons. The original basis behind Satan in ancient Judaism and Christianity and Iblis in Islam. Corresponds to Kali(not to be confused with the goddess; from a root kad “suffer, grieve, hurt; confound, confuse”) of Kali Yuga in Hinduism, Kroni in Ayyavazhi Hinduism, and Devaputra(son of a deva) Mara in Buddhism.

“Zoroaster’s teachings are often called dualist, explaining the universe as the result of “the outcome of two eternally opposed and coexisting principles”. However, Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu, or Ahriman, are not co-equal; the latter is an emanation or spirit of the former whose exercise of free will led him to embrace evil. This could be the source of the Christian conception of Satan as a fallen angel. Angra Mainyu is twin to Spenta Mainyu, the spirit of good that strengthens creation and aids humanity in their fight against evil.”
-Zoroaster article on New World Encyclopedia

“The root of evil as the ancient Aryan(Indo-Iranian) prophet calls it is nöit eresh vishyátá; “a desire/wish not in rhythm, a wish that violates the melody, flow of meaning, force, energy.”” “(See Yasna 30.3, 3rd rhymed verse line and Yasna 30.6, 1st rhymed verse line.)”
-Herbad Ardeshir Farahmand, Why do the bad seek out the luminous and good to corrupt?

Evil, ruin, and decay in the Poetic Gathas by Zarathushtra Spitama are associated with falsehood, cruelty, and the distortion, disharmony, and perversion of inspiration and the energy flow of the life force:

“In Yasna 31.1, 2nd rhymed verse line, death is associated with disorder, destruction of artfulness and excellence, and the rule of lies, deceptive formulas.

In Yasna 31.18, 3rd rhymed verse line, death (marakaæ) is associated with the deceiver (dregvatö,) the deceptive mind formulas (manthras) and illusive teachings of the trickster.

In Yasna 32.9, 1st rhymed verse line, death/destruction is associated with the false teacher (dúsh-sastish,) an epithet of the evil spirit, the distortion of the inspired music/melody and a corruption of the power of the spirit to manifest itself in life( jyátéush khratüm.)

In Yasna 32.10, 1st rhymed verse line, death is associated again with distortion of the inspired melody/music/sound (sraváv möreñdat) and denying the embodied life and the sun (hvare, Greek helios.)

In Yasna 32.11, 1st rhymed verse line, mar/spoiling/destruction of life (möreñden jyötüm) is associated with having high regard for the deceiver/liar, falsehood (dregvatö mazibísh ci-köiteresh.)

In Yasna 32.12, 2nd rhymed verse line, ruin/death is associated with ravaging/laying waste upon the inspired melody, song, music; and that the curse of the Wise lord will be upon those who kill/slaughter animals with cries of joy.

In Yasna 32.13, 2nd rhymed verse line, death/destruction (marekhtárö “to destroy, put to death”) is associated the abode/dominion of the most broken/beaten spirit mind, limitation and greed.

In Yasna 45.1, 4th rhymed verse line, death is associated with the false teacher (dush-sastish,) an epithet of the evil spirit.

In Yasna 46.11, 2nd rhymed verse line, destruction/death is associated with ritual priests and their deafness and blindness to the skills of the adorable God.

In Yasna 51.10, 1st rhymed verse line, death is associated with the lair of lies, brood/creation of deceit, falsehood and mal-formation, faulty, evil knowledge (dúž-dáv.)

In Yasna 51.13, 1st rhymed verse line, death is associated with the distortion/destruction of the higher vision by the deceiver.

In Yasna 53.6, 5th rhymed verse line, corruption/perversion/death of the existence (ahüm merengedúyæ) is associated with onslaught of the evil deceiver, against the excellent/good and diminish in power.”

(Yasna list was taken from Herbad Ardeshir Farahmand’s “The ancient Indo-Europeans and the View of the poetic gathas and Zoroastrianism on Mortality”.)


Daeva is a Gathic Avesatan word that originally meant a being of shining light. Its Vedic Sanskrit cognate is Deva, which also means a shining celestial or deity in the Rig-Veda. Among several other related words, Dievas, through Indo-European roots, is the Lithuanian cognate of Daeva & Deva and refers to God in Lithuanian folklore. Similarly Asura is the Vedic Sanskrit cognate of Ahura(lord/god) and refers to a type of deity in the Rig-Veda, while Aesir, through Indo-European roots, is the Old Norse cognate of Ahura and refers to the highest ranking gods and goddesses in the Norse Poetic Edda and Prose Edda. Gathic Avestan Ahura & Daeva, Vedic Sanskrit Asura & Deva, Old Norse Aesir, and Lithuanian Dievas, all originally referred to gods/spirits, or a type of god/spirit, in general.

The Daevas are evil in the Gathas because they are the gods/spirits that, through their extreme hubris, arrogance, and pride, chose to side with Debaoma(Arch-Deluder) in making the physical existence(Avestan Astavat/Sanskrit Sat/Pahlavi Getig) marred, diseased, and sickly in Yasna 30.6 and became the seeds of the Akat Manah(Evil Mind) in Yasna 32.3. Debaoma and Akat Manah are aspects and epitaphs of Ahriman(Destructive Spirit). Yasna 30.6 and Yasna 32.3-5 state that the daevas afflict the world with hateful, enfeebling, and malformative acts as well as inspire aggressive, cruel, and self destructive views within the minds of men and women.

The Gathas, which are understood as being the actual words of Zarathushtra Spitama himself by most scholars, expresses a worldview where the Daevas do not represent metaphor, allegory, and abstraction, nor delusions, illusions, and hallucinations of the human mind in discord but instead are understood and regarded as real and existent spiritual beings in their own right that originate from the spiritual/mental existence(Manahya in Avestan/Menog in Phalavi) independent of the human mind.

Spirits, people, animals, and all beings are regarded as expressions of the all pervading Minoo/Minoan/Minu(consciousness/mind energy) of the Universe emanated from Ahura Mazda(God) and can choose between good and beneficent acts or evil and destructive acts which has impact on the Astavat/Sat(physical existence). Spiritual beings such as the ahuras(angels/gods) and daevas(demons) simply reflect this on a higher level as does even the Destructive Spirit. We are all expressions of Minoo(mind energy) either luminous and good or shadowy and noxious through the many types of corruption and distortion of the luminous and good brought upon both by ourselves individually and externally from others on all sorts of levels.

“Nothing was evil from the beginning. Even the Evil Spirit was not so.”
-Herbad Ardeshir Farahmand, Spirit Realms and conflict among the spirits/mind-energies in the pre-mortal existence

In the Gathas and the very early Yasna Haptanghaiti of the Avesta everything is Minoo/Minu(spiritual/mind energy) and is not human centric. People, animals, even nature such as the forests, mountains, and lakes. The physical is really just a manifestation of the spiritual and in fact has its basis in the Manahya/Menog(spiritual/mental existence). There are many examples of sentience being described which do not refer to mankind. Animals being one. The others being Ahura Mazda(God), the Ahuras(angels/gods), and the Daevas(shadowy gods/demons) who split from the Ahuras through their destructive choices.

These are clearly sentient and they clearly aren’t human as they are described as existing even before the Astavat/Sat/Getig(physical existence) emanated out of the Manahya/Menog(spiritual/mental existence). They, the Ahuras, which includes the Amesha Spentas, Yazatas, and Fravashis(guardian angels/divine essence within human souls), and the Daevas, are as much a part of the emanation as the people and the animals are and not any less. Also the world or the physical existence is not an illusion or false existence but instead is very much a real and existent manifestation of the Manahya/Menog(spiritual/mental existence) to be protected and the lines between the physical and spiritual are very thin.

The Daevas are the original basis behind the fallen angels and demons described in ancient Judaism, Christianity, and their apocryphal texts such as the three Books of Enoch and the Book of Giants. Aeshma “of the bloody mace” the daeva of wrath, rage, fury, mental distortion, and the inspiration of brutality against mankind and animals alike in the Gathas is the original name of Asmodeus the demon king described in the Book of Tobit, the Talmud, and the Testament of Solomon.

Rather than being demons encouraging people to commit transgressions against arbitrary laws, rules, and taboos to displease God and receive punishment forever in Hell, as expressed in some explanations of Christianity and Islam, the Daevas, in the Gathas and the early Yasna and Yashts sections of the Avesta, are considered the inspiration of mental misery and suffering, the masterful distorters of truth on all levels imaginable, and the bringers of physical harm of all kind who are associated with the breaking down of the sense, spirit, and minds of beings, in order to bend them into sharing their degenerate and maleficent visions against life.

(From the Gathas composed by Zarathushtra Spitama translated by Herbad Ardeshir Farahmand.)

“Yasna 45.2, 1st and 2nd and 5th rhymed verse lines concerning the primeval world of the spirits/mind-energies;
I shall speak forth of the primeval world of the spirits/mind-energies
When the splendid/auspicious recounted to the afflicted, gloomy one;
Not our visions, not even our souls/passions are akin”

Yasna 30.5, 1st and 2nd rhymed verse lines
“These spirits/mind energies willed//the deceitful (chose) the most afflicted becoming/destiny
Excellence(Asha); the most splendid, auspicious mind-energy”

Yasna 30.4, 1st and 2nd rhymed verse lines, the choice of the spirits establishes vibrant life and miserable existence;
“These spirits/mind-energies together//came in the primeval beginning and established
Life and miserable existence”

In Yasna 44.15, 3rd rhymed verse line;
“The opposing armies came together clashing””

(From the very early Gathic Avestan Yasna Haptanghaiti in the Yasna section of the Avesta translated by L. H. Mills.)

Yasna 39.2 “And we worship the souls of those beasts which are tame and broken in, and of wild herds, and the souls of the saints wherever they were born, both of men and of women, whose good consciences are conquering in the strife against the Daevas, or will conquer, or have conquered.”

(Shows that the souls of animals are important like the souls of people and describes the mental struggle that men and women have with the distortions of the shadowy and noxious mind energies.)

Yasna 39. “And now we worship the Bountiful Immortals (all) the good, and both those male, and those female (by their names). The males among them do we worship, ever living, and ever helpful, who dwell beside the pious, and the females thus the same.”

(Shows the reverence for the progressive and beneficial mind energies of Mazda)

(From the very early Gathic Avestan Fravarane in the Yasna section of the Avesta translated by Joseph H. Peterson.)

Yasna 12.4: “I reject the authority of the Daevas, the wicked, no-good, lawless, evil-knowing, the most druj-like of beings, the foulest of beings, the most damaging of beings. I reject the Daevas and their comrades, I reject the demons (yatu) and their comrades; I reject any who harm beings. I reject them with my thoughts, words, and deeds. I reject them publicly. Even as I reject the head (authorities), so too do I reject the hostile followers of the druj.”

Yasna 12.8: “I profess myself a Mazda-worshipper, a Zoroastrian, having vowed it and professed it. I pledge myself to the well-thought thought, I pledge myself to the well-spoken word, I pledge myself to the well-done action.”

Yasna 12.9: “I pledge myself to the Mazdayasnian religion, which causes the attack to be put off and weapons put down; [which upholds khvaetvadatha], Asha-endowed; which of all religions that exist or shall be, is the greatest, the best, and the most beautiful: Ahuric, Zoroastrian. I ascribe all good to Ahura Mazda. This is the creed of the Mazdayasnian religion.”

From Herbad Ardeshir Farahmand’s article “Angels and Demons in the poetic gathas”.
““Existence,” “Life-force” “Manifesting Power of Mind” is the domain of Ahúrá Mazdá. Demons have NO life-force and are living dead, Stagnated Mind Energies. Theirs is a parasitic, temporary phenomenon until the outcome of the existence, See Yasna 30.4, 2nd rhymed verse line.”

“In Zoroastrianism evil is not a creative force and is secondary in the cosmic order, affirming the priority and superiority of the force of genius and good. Therefore it is not described as a force to be feared. The protection of the adorable powers/aspects of the mind of GD is far greater than the ravage/distortion of the demons, See Holy Denkart, 5.24.21a.

It is not possible for a demon to invade unless there are doors open for it to enter. The door may be a consent or affinity or a physical defect in the being. The demons cannot corrupt unless there is some defect in oneself, some impurity, weakness or, at the very least, ignorance. One should then seek out this weakness in oneself and correct it.

What makes it impossible for demons to prevail in any attack is the “brilliant flow of thoughts,” “perfect contemplation;” “auspicious, serene thinking power,” See Yasna 32.2, 3rd rhymed verse line. Mortal man as a species stands between the angels/aspects of GD’s superb and wondrous mind and the demons or stagnated mind energies, the daævás may be kept in check by the “auspicious, serene thinking power” and an active participation in life through whatever is eternal and undying in thoughts, words and deeds.”

“Their relative parasitic existence is only a phenomenon thrown up by the cosmic Force in its drive towards eternal progress. Limitation, demons, falsehood, evil are all cosmic realities, but relative in their nature, not absolute, since they depend for existence on the perversion or contradiction and are not like excellence, genius and good, self-existent absolutes, inherent aspects of the Self-existent GD of Genius.”

-Herbad Ardeshir Farahmand, Angels and Demons in the poetic gathas

The Gathas also state that over the ages leading up to the Frasho-Kereti(renewal) of the worlds even the Daevas will convert to goodness at the end in Yasna 32.1 and Yasna 48.1.