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Mithra
Mithra
(Avestan: 𐬀𐬭𐬚𐬌𐬨 Miθra, Old Persian: 𐎷𐎰𐎼 Miça) is the Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
angelic Divinity
Divinity
(yazata) of Covenant, Light, and Oath. In addition to being the Divinity
Divinity
of Contracts, Mithra
Mithra
is also a judicial figure, an all-seeing Protector of Truth, and the Guardian of Cattle, the Harvest, and of The Waters. The Romans attributed their Mithraic mysteries
Mithraic mysteries
(the mystery religion known as Mithraism) to "Persian" (i.e. Zoroastrian) sources relating to Mithra. Since the early 1970s, the dominant scholarship has noted dissimilarities between the Persian and Roman traditions, making it, at most, the result of Roman perceptions of (Pseudo-)Zoroastrian ideas.[1]

Contents

1 Etymology 2 In scripture 3 In inscriptions 4 In tradition 5 In Manichaeism 6 See also 7 References 8 Bibliography

Etymology[edit] The Avestan
Avestan
common noun miθra along with the Vedic common noun mitra derive from Proto-Iranian *miθra, from the root mi- "to bind", with the "tool suffix" -θra- "causing to." Thus, etymologically miθra/mitra means "that which causes binding", preserved in the Avestan
Avestan
word for "Covenant, Contract, Oath".[citation needed] In Middle Iranian
Middle Iranian
languages (Middle Persian, Parthian etc.), miθra became mihr, from which New Persian
New Persian
مهر mihr, Kurdish mehr and mir, Wanetsi and Wazirwola (Pashto) mērə/myer, and Armenian mihr/mher ultimately derive. In scripture[edit] Mithra
Mithra
is mentioned by name once in the Gathas in Yasna
Yasna
46:5, the Gathas is the oldest texts of Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
and traditionally attributed to Zoroaster
Zoroaster
himself, however, Mithra
Mithra
is not mentioned by name in the Yasna
Yasna
Haptanghaiti, a seven-verse section of the Yasna liturgy that is linguistically as old as the Gathas. As a member of the Iranian Ahuric Triad, a feature that only Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazda
and Ahura Berezaiti (Apam Napat) also have, Mithra
Mithra
is an exalted figure. Together with Rashnu "Justice" and Sraosha "Obedience", Mithra
Mithra
is one of the three judges at the Chinvat Bridge, the "Bridge of Separation" that all Souls must cross. Unlike Sraosha, Mithra
Mithra
is not, however, a Psychopomp, a guide of souls to the place of the dead. Should the Good Thoughts, Words and Deeds outweigh the Bad, Sraosha alone conveys the Soul across the Bridge. As the Divinity
Divinity
of Contract, Mithra
Mithra
is undeceivable, infallible, eternally watchful, and never-resting. Mithra
Mithra
is additionally the protector of cattle, and his stock epithet is "of Wide Pastures." He is Guardian of the waters and ensures that those pastures receive enough of it. The lack of Mithra's presence in the texts was once a cause of some consternation amongst Iranians. An often repeated speculation of the first half of the 20th century was that the lack of any mention (i.e., Zoroaster's silence) of Mithra
Mithra
in these texts implied that Zoroaster had rejected Mithra. This ex silentio speculation is no longer followed. Building on that speculation was another series of speculations, which postulated that the reason why Zoroaster
Zoroaster
did not mention Mithra
Mithra
was that the latter was the supreme god of a bloodthirsty group of daeva-worshipers that Zoroaster
Zoroaster
condemned. However, "no satisfactory evidence has yet been adduced to show that, before Zoroaster, the concept of a supreme god existed among the Iranians, or that among them Mithra – or any other divinity – ever enjoyed a separate cult of his or her own outside either their ancient or their Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
pantheons."[2] The Avestan
Avestan
Hymn to Mithra
Mithra
(Yacht 10) is the longest, and one of the best preserved, of the Yashts. Mithra
Mithra
is described in the Zoroastrian Avesta
Avesta
scriptures as " Mithra
Mithra
of Wide Pastures, of the Thousand Ears, and of the Myriad Eyes," (Yandasna 1:3),[3] "the Lofty, and the Everlasting... the Province Ruler,"( Yasna
Yasna
1:11),[3] "the Yazad (Divinity) of the Spoken Name" ( Yasna
Yasna
3:5),[3] and "the Holy," (Yasna 3:13).[3] The Khorda Avesta
Avesta
(Book of Common Prayer) also refer to Mithra
Mithra
in the Litany to the Sun, "Homage to Mithra
Mithra
of Wide Cattle Pastures," (Khwarshed Niyayesh 5),[4] "Whose Word is True, who is of the Assembly, Who has a Thousand Ears, the Well-Shaped One, Who has Ten Thousand Eyes, the Exalted One, Who has Wide Knowledge, the Helpful One, Who Sleeps Not, the Ever Wakeful. We sacrifice to Mithra, The Lord of all countries, Whom Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazda
created the most glorious, Of the Supernatural Yazads. So may there come to us for Aid, Both Mithra
Mithra
and Ahura, the Two Exalted Ones,"(Khwarshed Niyayesh 6-7),[4] "I shall sacrifice to his mace, well aimed against the Skulls of the Daevas," (Khwarshed Niyayesh 15).[4] Some recent theories have claimed Mithra
Mithra
represents the Sun itself, but the Khorda Avesta
Avesta
refers to the Sun as a separate entity – as it does with the Moon, with which the Sun has "the Best of Friendships," (Khwarshed Niyayesh 15).[4] In inscriptions[edit] Although there is no known Mithraic iconography in the Achaemenid period,[5] the deity is invoked in several royal Achaemenid inscriptions: In Artaxerxes II's (r. 404 - 358 B.C.) trilingual (Old Persian, Elamite and Babylonian) inscription at Susa (A2Sa) and Hamadan (A2Hc), which have the same text, the emperor appeals to "Ahuramazda, Anahita, and Mithra
Mithra
protect me against all evil", and in which he beseeches them to protect what he has built. Although the Behistun inscription
Behistun inscription
of Darius I
Darius I
(r. 522 - 486 B.C.) invokes Ahuramazda and "the Other Gods who are", this inscription of Artaxerxes II
Artaxerxes II
is remarkable as no Achaemenid
Achaemenid
king before him had invoked any but Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazda
alone by name. Boyce suggests that the reason for this was that Artaxerxes had chosen Anahita
Anahita
and Mithra
Mithra
as his patron/protector Divinities. Mithra
Mithra
has invoked again in the single known inscription of Artaxerxes III, A3Pa, found at Persepolis. In that inscription, that emperor to appeals to "Ahuramazda and the God Mithra
Mithra
preserve me, my country, and what has been built by me." In tradition[edit]

Coin of Artabanus II of Parthia
Artabanus II of Parthia
(ca. 128-124 BC). The Hellenistic depiction on the reverse shows the king kneeling before an Apollo-like god, which is thought to be Mithra.[5]

Investiture of Sassanid
Sassanid
emperor Ardashir II
Ardashir II
(3rd century CE bas-relief at Taq-e Bostan, Iran. On the left stands the yazata Mithra
Mithra
with raised barsom, sanctifying the investiture.[5]

In the Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
calendar, the sixteenth day of the month and the seventh month of the year are dedicated to and are under the protection of Mithra. The Iranian civil calendar of 1925 adopted Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
month-names, and as such also has the seventh month of the year named "Mihr". The position of the sixteenth day and seventh month reflects Mithra's rank in the hierarchy of the Divinities; the sixteenth day and seventh month are respectively the first day of the second half of the month and the first month of the second half of the year. The day on which the day-name and month-name dedications intersect is (like all other such intersections) dedicated to the divinity of that day/month, and is celebrated with a Jashan (from Avestan
Avestan
Yasna, "Worship") in honor of that Divinity. In the case of Mithra, this was Jashan-e Mihragan, or just Mihragan
Mihragan
for short. In Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
scripture, Mithra
Mithra
is distinct from the divinity of the Sun, Hvare.khshaeta (literally "Radiant Sun", whence also Middle Persian Khorshed for the Sun). However, in Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
tradition, Mithra
Mithra
evolved from being an all-seeing figure (hence vaguely associated with the Sun) into a divinity co-identified with the Sun itself, effectively taking over Hvare.khshaeta's role. How or when or why this occurred is uncertain, but it is commonly attributed to conflation with Babylonian Shamash
Shamash
and/or Greek Apollo, with whom Mithra
Mithra
shares other characteristics (e.g. a judicial function). This characteristic is part of Mithra's Indo inheritance since the Indic Rigveda have solar divinities that are not distinct from Mithra/Mitra, and in the Atharvaveda, Mitra
Mitra
is associated with sunrise, Sun Salutation is a daily yogic activity worldwide even in current times and is preceded by chanting 'OM Mitraya Namaha' as 'Mitraya'[6] is the dative of the name 'Mitra,' one of the 108 Names for Lord Surya/Sun God. Royal names incorporating Mithra's (e.g., "Mithradates") appear in the dynasties of Parthia, Armenia, and in Anatolia, in Pontus and Cappadocia. The youthful Apollonian-type Mithra
Mithra
is found in images from other countries of Iranian culture in the Parthian period, such as Commagene in the Roman-Parthian border and the Kushan Empire
Kushan Empire
on the Indo-Iranian border.[5] In Manichaeism[edit] Persian and Parthian-speaking Manichaeans used the name of Mithra current in their time (Mihryazd, q.e. Mithra-yazata) for two different Manichaean angels.

The first, called Mihryazd by the Persians, was the "Living Spirit" (Aramaic rūḥā ḥayyā), a savior-figure who rescues the "First Man" from the demonic Darkness into which he had plunged. The second, known as Mihr or Mihr Yazd among the Parthians, is the "Messenger" (Aramaic īzgaddā), likewise a savior figure, but one concerned with setting up the structures to liberate the Light
Light
lost when the First Man had been defeated.

The second figure mentioned above, the Third Messenger, was the helper and redeemer of mankind, and identified with another Zoroastrian divinity, Narisaf (derived from Pahlavi Narsēh from Avestan Nairyō.saȵhō, meaning 'Potent Utterance', the name of a Yazata).[7] Citing Boyce,[8] Sundermann remarks, "It was among the Parthian Manicheans that Mithra
Mithra
as a Sun God surpassed the importance of Narisaf as the common Iranian image of the Third Messenger; among the Parthians the dominance of Mithra
Mithra
was such that his identification with the Third Messenger led to cultic emphasis on the Mithraic traits in the Manichaean God."[9] Unrelated to these Mihrs are Parthian and Sogdian Mytr or Mytrg. Although sharing linguistic roots with the name Mithra, Werner Sundermann established that those names denote Manicheanisms equivalent of Maitreya. See also[edit]

Mithraism Mithras Mitra Mitra
Mitra
(Vedic) Maitreya Mihr (other)

References[edit]

^ Beck, Roger (2002-07-20). "Mithraism". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition. Retrieved 2012-09-07. ^ Boyce 2001, p. 243, n.18. ^ a b c d "AVESTA: YASNA (English): Chapters 0-8". avesta.org.  ^ a b c d "AVESTA: KHORDA AVESTA: Niyayeshes (Litanies)". avesta.org.  ^ a b c d Franz Grenet, “MITHRA ii. ICONOGRAPHY IN IRAN AND CENTRAL ASIA,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2016, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/mithra-2-iconography-in-iran-and-central-asia (accessed on 19 May 2016). ^ http://www.harekrsna.de/surya/surya-names.htm ^ Sundermann, Werner (1979), "The Five Sons of the Manichaean God Mithra", in Ugo Bianchi, Mysteria Mithrae: Proceedings of the International Seminar on the Religio-Historical Character of Roman Mithraism, Leiden: Brill  ^ Boyce, Mary. (1962) On Mithra
Mithra
in the Manichaean Pantheon. In Henning, Walter B. and Yarshater, Ehsan (eds.), A Locust's Leg: Studies in Honour of S. H. Taqizadeh, London CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link) ^ Sundermann, Werner (2002), " Mithra
Mithra
in Manicheism", Encyclopaedia Iranica, Costa Mesa: Mazda Pub 

Bibliography[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mithra.

Boyce, Mary (2001), " Mithra
Mithra
the King and Varuna the Master", Festschrift für Helmut Humbach zum 80., Trier: WWT, pp. 239–257  Malandra, William (1983), An Introduction to Ancient Iranian Religion, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ISBN 0-8166-1115-7  Schmidt, Hans-Peter (2006), " Mithra
Mithra
i: Mithra
Mithra
in Old Indian and Mithra in Old Iranian", Encyclopaedia Iranica, OT 10, New York: iranica.com . Jacobs, Bruno (2006), "Mithra", Iconography of Deities and Demons in the Ancient Near East (PDF), (Electronic Pre-Publication), Leiden: U Zürich/Brill, archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-06-21 . Dumezil, Georges (2008), Mitra-Varuna: An Essay on Two Indo-European Representations of Sovereignty. New York: Zone Books.

v t e

Iranian- Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
calendar

Days

Hormazd Bahman Ardibehest Shehrevar Aspandarmad Khordad Amardad Dae-Pa-Adar Adar Avan Khorshed Mohor Tir Gosh Dae-Pa-Meher Meher Srosh Rashne Fravardin Behram Ram Govad Dae-Pa-Din Din Ashishvangh Ashtad Asman Zamyad Mahraspand Aneran

Months

Fravardin Ardibehest Khordad Tir Amardad Shehrevar Meher Avan Adar Dae Bahman Aspandarmad

Festivals

Gambhars Khordad Sal Fravardigan Tiragan Meheragan Avan Roj Nu Parab Adar Roj Nu Parab Jashn-e-Sadeh Zartosht No-Diso Papeti Nowruz

.