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Yasna 12: the Fravarane (the Zoroastrian creed)

Faravahar, the visual aspect of Ahuramazda. Relief from Persepolis. Photo Marco Prins.
Faravahar, the visual aspect
of Ahuramazda. Relief from
The following text, which has with some justice been likened to the Christian 'creed', probably dates to the earliest days of Zoroastrianism, but seems to have undergone linguistic changes, because it is known in the relatively late Old Avestan language, and not in the old Gathic. Yasna 12 was probably meant to be recited before an assembly of the faithful. The translation was made by J. H. Peterson. The text is also known as Fravarane, which means, like the Latin Credo, 'I declare'.
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I curse the Daevas. [1]

I declare myself a Mazda-worshipper, a supporter of Zarathustra, hostile to the Daevas, fond of Ahura's teaching, a praiser of the Amesha Spentas [2], a worshipper of the Amesha Spentas. I ascribe all good to Ahuramazda, 'and all the best,' Asha-endowed, splendid, xwarena-endowed, whose is the cow, whose is Asha, whose is the light, 'may whose blissful areas be filled with light'.

I choose the good Spenta Armaiti [3] for myself; let her be mine. I renounce the theft and robbery of the cow [4], and the damaging and plundering of the Mazdayasnian settlements. I want freedom of movement and freedom of dwelling for those with homesteads, to those who dwell upon this earth with their cattle. With reverence for Asha [5], and (offerings) offered up, I vow this: I shall nevermore damage or plunder the Mazdayasnian settlements, even if I have to risk life and limb.

I reject the authority of the Daevas, the wicked, no-good, lawless, evil-knowing, the most druj-like [6] of beings, the foulest of beings, the most damaging of beings. I reject the Daevas and their comrades, I reject the yatu [7] and their comrades; I reject any who harm beings. I reject them with my thoughts, words, and deeds. I reject them publicly. Even as I reject the [evil authorities], so too do I reject the hostile followers of the druj.

As Ahuramazda taught Zarathustra at all discussions, at all meetings, at which Mazda and Zarathustra conversed; - even as Zarathustra rejected the authority of the Daevas, so I also reject, as Mazda-worshipper and supporter of Zarathustra, the authority of the Daevas, even as he, the Asha-endowed Zarathustra, has rejected them.

As the belief of the waters, the belief of the plants, the belief of the well-made [Original] Cow; as the belief of Ahuramazda who created the cow and the Asha-endowed Man; as the belief of Zarathustra, the belief of Kavi Vishtaspa [8], the belief of both Frashaostra and Jamaspa; as the belief of each of the Saoshyants [9] -fulfilling destiny and Asha-endowed- so I am a Mazda-worshipper of this belief and teaching.

I profess myself a Mazda-worshipper, a Zoroastrian, having vowed it and professed it. I pledge myself to the well-thought thought, I pledge myself to the well-spoken word, I pledge myself to the well-done action.

I pledge myself to the Mazdayasnian religion, which causes the attack to be put off and weapons put down; Asha-endowed; which of all religions that exist or shall be, is the greatest, the best, and the most beautiful: Ahuric, Zoroastrian. I ascribe all good to Ahuramazda.

This is the creed of the Mazdayasnian religion.

A modern portrait of Zarathustra.
Modern portrait of Zarathustra, inspired by Ahuramazda's dress on a relief of Taq-e Bostan
Note 1:
The demons, the creatures Angra Mainyu, 'the hostile spirit'.

Note 2:
The seven good spirits, created by Ahuramazda.

Note 3:
The Spenta Armaiti is the spirit of Piety and Devotion.

Note 4:
The raiding of cattle, one of the most important causes of conflict in the ancient Iranian society.

Note 5:
Asha is the personification of Justice. In older Persian, the word is Arta, cf. names like Artaxerxes.

Note 6:
The druj is the 'lie': a name for everything that is wrong.

Note 7:
The yatu are demons.

Note 8:
Kavi Vishtaspa is Hystaspes, Zarathustra's protector. The names that follow are heroes of early Zoroastrianism.

Note 9:
Saoshyants means 'saviors'. They are the root of Zoroastrian messianism.

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