Sunday, July 01, 2007

سوشیانت در «دایرة المعارف دین» اثر میرچا الیاده - 1

Saoshyant: The avestan term Saoshyant ("future benefactor"; MPers., söshyans) designates the savior of the world, who will arrive at a future time to redeem humankind. The concept of the future savior is one of the fundamental notions of Zoroastrianism, together with that of dualism; it appears as early as in the Gäthas. Zarathushtra (Zoroaster), as prophet of the religion, is himself a Saoshyant, on who performs his works for the Frashökereti, the end of the present state of the world, when existence will be "rehabilitated" and "made splendid."

Later Zoroastrian tradition developed this notion into a true eschatological myth and expanded the number of Saoshyants from one to three. All the saviors are born from the seed of Zarathushtra, wich is preserved through the ages in Lake Kansaoya (identifies with present-day Lake Helmand in Seistan, Iran), protected by 99,999 fravashis, or guardian spirits. The greatest of the awaited Saoshyants, the victorious Astvatereta ("he who embodies truth"), the son of the Vispataurvairï ("she who conquers all"), is the third, who will make existence splendid; he appears in Yashts 19. Upon his arrival humankind will no longer be subject to old age, death, or corruption, and will be granted unlimited power. At that time the dead will be resurrected, and the living will be immortal and indestructible. Brandishing the weapon with which he kills the powerful enemies of the world of truth (that is, the world of the spirit, and of Asha), Astvatereta will look upon the whole of corporeal existence and render it imperishable. He and his comrades will engage in a great battle with the forces of evil, which will be destroyed.

The name Astvatereta is clearly the result of theological speculation (Kellens, 1974), as are those of his two brothers, Ukhshyatereta, "he who makes truth grow," and Ukhshyatnemah, "he who makes reverence grow"; the names of the three virgins (Yasht 13) who are impregnated with the seed of Zarathushtra when they bathe in Lake Kansaoya and give birth to the Saoshyants are equally speculative. Each of these Saoshyants will arrive at the beginning of a millennium, initiating a new age and a new cycle of existence; Astvatereta will appear in the third and final millennium to save mankind.

The doctrine of the future savior had already taken shape in the Achaemenid period (sixth to fourth centuries BCE). It was not, perhaps, the principal element in the formation of the messianic idea, but it was certainly a determining factor, on that enjoyed great success in the Hellenistic period beyond the confines of the Iranian world. A similar concept, that of the future Buddha, Maitreya, was most likely in debted to it, and Christian messianism can trace its roots to the same source.

The Encyclopedia of Religion/ed. In Chief: Mircea Elliade.
Iranian Religions/Saoshyant.

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