The Iranian Mithra and Zarathustra

As the Aryan tribes swept south, they split into two major branches, the Indian in the east and the Iranis in the west. Both Worshipped the god of the contract in similar ways. Like the Indians, the Iranis sacrificed cattleto Mithra. They invoked him to preserve the sanctity of the contract. They associated him with fire. And like both Indian and Roman worshippers, the Iranis concluded contracts before fires so that they might be made in the presence of Mithra. Like Mitra, Mithra saw all things. The Avestan Yast (hymn) dedicatedto him describes him as having a thousand ears, ten thousand eyes, and as never sleeping. And like Mitra,Mithra has a partner, Apam Nepat, whose name means Grandson of Waters.

The Iranis had a deep reverence for Mithra, as is proved by their reception of the prophet, Zarathustra. Zarathustra is the most important person in the recorded history of religion, bar none. The first man to promulgate a divinely revealed religion. He influenced the religions of Judaism, Christianity, Mithrasism, Islam, Northern (Mahayana) Buddhism, Manicheism, and the pagan Norse myths. Over half the world has accepted a significant portion of his precepts under the guise of one or another of these faiths

Mithra was a moral god, upholding the sanctity of the contract even when the contract was made with one who was sure to break it. His primary responsibility was to the rightness of the action. In this he stood above the various national gods of the time, who had little function other than to look after the welfare of the state and its wealthiest members. In fact, Mithra was the first such moral deity and stands above the notions of many worshippers of many gods today...

Since pastoral life begins at dawn, later Mithra became associated with light - an association that consequently made him synonymous with the sun. In Middle Persian and modern Persian, Mehr (for this is the contracted form now) stands for both friendship and the sun. And since a contract breaker (mithra-druj) was punished by the society in the name of Mithra, he evolved into a judge also. When a tribe broke a contract, it was a punitive war that could correct the tribe. This evolved Mithra into a warlord. Love, light, lordship, judgment, and war combined to raise him as the most popular god, a god much revered and much feared. He was, the Avesta shows, very kind and generous to those who kept the contract but very harsh and ruthless to those who broke it. He was all- kindness to friends and no-mercy to enemies.

Gods, Goddesses, and Twins



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