Sunrise Magazine Online

An Iranian Myth Retold

The Will of Ahura Mazda

By Hazel Minot

Ahura Mazda stood within his dwelling of eternal light and thought of many things. Beyond the borders of Space was the dark abode of Angra Mainyu, whose heart was black, and whose every thought was to tear down whatever Ahura Mazda with loving care built up. There was always a battle between these two, and Ahura Mazda, knowing the craftiness of his antagonist, thought now of how he should outwit him. He, the shining god, would produce creatures, and one day they would be beautiful and strong; but until that day there would be toil and struggle, and many a bitter battle between the hosts of light and those of darkness. Yet in the end Ahura Mazda would win — and he knew this, and how it would be accomplished.

So, the god busied himself with making his creatures, and for three thousand years he left them as they were: in a spiritual state, but without the power of thought or movement, and with bodies that were as nothing. Angra Mainyu, the Evil One, saw what was happening as he left his dark abode and approached the realm of light. At once he rushed forward to destroy, but to no purpose. Alone, he was powerless. With fury he returned to the abyss and formed creatures of his own, demons who would fight for him against Ahura Mazda.

When the god saw these creatures he was aware of all the evil that was in them, and knew how utterly loathsome they were. He saw also what the end must be, however long it took; and he went forth to meet Angra Mainyu, saying: "Let there be peace between us. You know as well as I that one day all these creatures must seek the light. Come, then, work with me, not against me. Help my creatures; give praise: thereby you and yours shall receive immortality."

Angra Mainyu laughed till Space re-echoed with the tumult. "What is this you offer, Ahura Mazda? Think you, I and my creatures will serve yours? We will never sing your praise. Our ways are eternally different, and we care nothing for your promised immortality!"

Then said Ahura Mazda: "Be not hasty! Set a time for the mingling of our efforts. Let the conflict endure for nine thousand years."

Angra Mainyu agreed to this, and each of the antagonists smiled contentedly to himself. The Evil One thought how easy it would be to overcome the god in that length of time: he would create more and more demons to serve him. He did not stop to reason beyond that point. Ahura Mazda, however, knew that the outcome would be far otherwise, for the nine thousand years were divided so that his will would be done for the first three thousand; during the second period their wills would intermingle; but during the third period, because the creatures already knew the will of Ahura Mazda, they would turn again to him, and with all the added experience of their many battles lost and won. Though there might be fierce struggles before the end, and countless failures too, when final victory came it would be for the hosts of Light.

Standing resplendent, Ahura Mazda recited a powerful prayer which made known his ultimate supremacy over the Evil One. This so completely confused Angra Mainyu that he fell back into the depths of his dark abode and remained there three thousand years. During all this time there was peace for the creatures of Ahura Mazda: their existence was like a wakeful dreaming, and not until the middle period and the intermingling of wills did creation really begin. Then all things flowed forth in regular order: first the sky, and then the waters and the earth; then plants and animals — and men.

It was a mighty contest all the way: for everything fair and beautiful that Ahura Mazda fashioned, Angra Mainyu shaped its evil counterpart. There were wars in heaven as well as on earth; and the tide of battle was now on the side of Light, now on that of Darkness, and again on that of Light. Thus ages passed, and even when races of men peopled the earth there was no cessation — only a fresh intensity to the struggle: since, gifted with mind, men must choose whether they would serve Ahura Mazda or be subservient to the Evil One.

The day is not yet when Ahura Mazda shall triumph. The nine thousand years were not of mortal computation, and the intermingling of wills still persists. But the great god knows the outcome: the day of Light will dawn.

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