Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": ZOROASTRIAN DUALIST COSMOGONY:

OHRMAZD AND AHRIMAN


('Greater Bundahishn,' 1, 18-26)

The story of the two primal Spirits and the creation of the world is recounted in greatest detail in the first chapter of a ninth-century Pahlavi book known as the 'Bundahishn' or '(Book of) the Primal Creation.' The limitation of Time is Ohrmazd's first creative act, for he saw that if Ahriman were to be destroyed, be would have to be lured out of eternity, actualized in finite time, and forced into the open.


18. Ohrmazd, before the act of creation, was not Lord; after the act of creation he became Lord, eager for increase, wise, free from adversity, manifest, ever ordering aright, bounteous, all-perceiving.

19. [First he created the essence of the gods, fair (orderly) movement, that genius by which he made his own body better] for he had conceived of the act of creation; from this act of creation was his lordship.

20. And by his dear vision Ohrmazd saw that the Destructive Spirit would never cease from aggression and that his aggression could only be made fruitless by the act of creation, and that creation could not move on except through Time and that when Time was fashioned, the creation of Ahriman too would begin to Move.

21. And that he might reduce the Aggressor to a state of powerlessness, having no alternative he fashioned forth Time. And the reason was this, that the Destructive Spirit could not be made powerless unless he were brought to battle. . . .

22. Then from Infinite Time he fashioned and made Time of the long Dominion: some call it finite Time. From Time of the long Dominion he brought forth permanence that the works of Ohrmazd might not pass away. From permanence discomfort was made manifest that comfort might not touch the demons. From discomfort the course of fate, the idea of changelessness, was made manifest, that those things which Ohrmazd created at the original creation might not change. From the idea of changelessness a perfect will (to create) material creation was made manifest, the concord of the righteous Creation.

23. In his unrighteous creation Ahriman was without knowledge, without method. And the reason and interpretation thereof is this, that when Ahriman joined battle with Ohrmazd the majestic wisdom, renown, perfection, and permanence of Ohrmazd and the powerlessness, self-will, imperfection and slowness in knowledge of the Destructive Spirit were made manifest when creation was created.

24. For Time of the long Dominion was the first creature that he fashioned forth; for it was infinite before the contamination of the totality of Ohrmazd. From the infinite it was fashioned finite; for from the original creation when creation was created until the consummation when the Destructive Spirit is made powerless there is a term of twelve thousand years which is finite. Then it mingles with and returns to the Infinite so that the creation of Ohrmazd shall for ever be with Ohrmazd in purity.

25. As it is said in the Religion, 'Time is mightier than both creations-the creation of Ohrmazd and that of the Destructive Spirit. Time understands all action and order (the law). Time understands more than those who understand. Time is better informed than the well-informed; for through Time must the decision be made. By Time are houses overturned-doom is through Time-and things graven shattered. From it no single mortal man escapes, not though he fly above, not though he dig a pit below and settle therein, not though he hide beneath a well of cold waters.'

26. From his own essence which is material light Ohrmazd fashioned forth the form of his creatures-a form of fire-bright, white, round and manifest afar. From the material (form) of that Spirit which dispels aggression in the two worlds-be it Power or he it Time-he fashioned forth the form of Vay, the Good, for Vay was needed: some call it Vay of the long Dominion. With the aid of Vay of the long Dominion he fashioned forth creation; for when he created creation, Vay was the instrument he needed for the deed.


Translation and introductory comment by R. C Zaehner, in his Zurvan: A Zoroastrian Dilemma (Oxford, 1955), PP- 314-16

Bibliography for this page:

More on Zoroastrian:

More on Cosmogony:

Myths of Creation and Origin | Main Menu | Keyword Search