The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
ANCIENT IRANIAN RELIGIOUS CELEBRATIONS
An introduction to Khshathra Vairya
& Jashn-e Sharivargan
(Iranian Father's Day)
CAIS - 2009
or the festival of Sharivargān is celebrated on the fourth day of the sixth
Iranian calendar month of Sharivar (21st of August). The date of the celebration and its’
cosmic philosophy began with the Prophet Zoroaster around 1800 BCE.
word of Shahrivar is a derivative of the Middle-Persian Šahrewar (the
which in turn came down from Old-Persian Xšača (dominion, reign, royal
and ultimately is a derivative of Avestan Xšathra, meaning
'power, authority, dominance and kingdom'.
Zoroastrian holy book, the Avesta, ‘Khshathra’ accompanied with the
word ‘Vairya’, meaning the ‘desirable, choice and divine –
therefore together create meaning of the ‘Divine kingdom or dominion’.
later centuries the doctrine of Khshathra Vairya influenced many
benevolent sovereigns of ancient Iran in spreading justice and kindness, such as
Cyrus the Great, Khosrow I, and Empress Pourandokht.
also has shaped the cosmic-philosophy of three Semitic religions of Judaism,
Christianity and Islam – and formed Western democracy and shaped the thoughts
of many Greek philosophers, such as Plato who is known as the father of Western
Vairya and its concept
In Zoroastrian religion, Khshathra Vairya is third of the seven Ameshaspentas (MP. Amahraspand), lit. 'Beneficent Immortals', the highest spiritual beings created by Ahura Mazda.
Khshathra Vairya, is the personification of the
Power Divine that leads to purity and freedom from evil, which in turn confers
divine power and God's kingdom. In other words, is a prefect society that
only exists in ‘Heaven’.
material world Khshathra Vairya represents
the power that each person needs to exert righteousness in life and mostly
consists of people to care for their fellow humans, spurning evil and being
spiritually perfect. The ‘sky’ and the colour of ‘red’ are
and his emblem is molten brass, thus presiding over the metals and minerals.
Zoroastrian cosmology, Khshathra Vairya was derived from the divine principal of Vohum Mana (Good Thoughts) and its role is the thought-beings,
protected by Asha Vahishta and guided by Spenta Armaiti, which would live
harmoniously and would enjoy perpetual bliss.
Vohu Manah, from its inception in the ‘void’ to its
materialisation as Khshathra Vairya and its final struggle for perfection
and immortality, is a thought world. In short, Khshathra Vairya is a cosmic
prototype for the ‘real’ and immortal world to come, the world of Ahura
Mazda, i.e. heaven that would be ruled by divinely ordained mythical monarchs
based on goodness and love, until the appearance of God’s ‘only’ and the
true prophet, Zarathushtra ( Zoroaster).
influence of Khshathra Vairya on Semitic Faiths
religion has influenced the Semitic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam
in many ways, in particular the foundational concept known as the ‘Kingdom of
Heaven’ or later the ‘Kingdom of God’.
The term was adopted by Judaism when Israelites were freed from Babylonian captivity and slavery by Cyrus the Great, who incorporated Babylon into his Achaemenid dynastic empire in 539 BCE.
The Israelites and
Greeks together for the first time came across the term the ‘King of Kings’
(Greek Basileus Basileon),
when they came into contact with Achaemenid dynasty of Iran. Therefore, it is clear that the words malkuth (Hebrew) and malkutha
(Aramaic) Greek word “basileia” (Βασιλεία) meaning kingdom
are a direct translation of the Avestan and Old-Persian Khshatra.
In Greek language the
Khshathra Vairya is translated as Basileia tōn Ouranōn" (Βασιλεία
τῶν Ουρανῶν), meaning the
‘Kingdom of Heaven, and sometimes as "Basileia tou Theou",
the kingdom of God.
It is claimed that
the Jewish practice to avoid using God's name as an act of piety, and therefore
the Kingdom of Heaven, rather than Kingdom of God. However, it is clear that
Jews have adopted the idea directly from Iranians. The Khshathra Vairya
means both the Kingdom of Heaven as well as the Divine i.e. God’s Kingdom. The
Hebrew word for Khshathra Vairya is מלכות השמים (Malkuth haShamayim).
basis for these terms being equivalent is found in the apocalyptic literature of
Daniel 2:44, where "the 'God of heaven' will set up a 'kingdom' which will
never be destroyed", as in Avesta.
Vairya and the idea of democracy
The word ‘Democracy’ is defined by the Webster’s Dictionary as:
democratie, fr. LL democratia, fr. Gk dêmokratia, fr. dêmos
(people) + -kratia –cracy (rule)] (1576) a: government by the
people; esp: rule of the majority b: a government in which the supreme
power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly
through a system of representation usu. involving periodically held free
of democracy, as presented by Western scholars, only goes back to the Greek
cities of the pre-Christian era. The full fact is that regional elected councils
are well documented in the Indo-European, particularly the Indo-Iranian,
societies and among other peoples of the world of a greater antiquity – and
therefore the notion of democracy was borrowed from Indo-Iranians.
Gathas, Song 16 which is Ha 51 of the Yasna,
containing 22 verses known as the Vohû Khshathra (Good Kingdom)
is dedicated to "Khshathra Vairya," literally "Good
Domain Worthy-of-Choice", and the notion of democracy. 
nê nûčît varəšânê.
good dominion is to be chosen.
is the best dividend.
fact, it is devotion for the dedicated,
Wise One, moves best
righteousness by his deeds.
is for this dominion that I am working for all of us now.
elaborates that a good government must be an elected one. It is then the best
gain one can have. To serve a chosen government means to serve it best with
devotion based on righteous deeds. It is for such a dominion, a world order that
Zoroaster rose to work for us, mankind. He founded the foremost democracy --
mental and physical, spiritual and material.
of Khshathra Vairya, Plato and Western philosophy
is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as
existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. It is distinguished
from other ways of addressing fundamental questions (such as mysticism, myth, or
the arts) by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on
wisdom became the basis of the Daenâ
Vanuhi (the Good Religion) which is also known as the Zoroastrian
religion, and generally influenced
the development of the Iranian branch of Indo-Iranian philosophy. He espoused an ethical philosophy based on the primacy of good
thoughts (Av. Humana), good words (Huxata), and good deeds (Hvarashta).
Zoroaster was also the first who treated the problem of evil in philosophical terms.
Zoroaster was also the first who treated the problem of evil in philosophical terms.
works of Zoroaster and the Zoroastrian religion had a significant influence on
Greek philosophy and Roman philosophy. Several ancient Greek writers such as
Eudoxus of Cnidus and Latin writers such as Pliny the Elder praised Zoroastrian
philosophy as "the most famous and most useful". Pliny in his
Naturalis Historiae, describes one Hermippus of Smyrna having "interpreted
two million verses of Zoroaster" in the 3rd century BCE.
to Pliny, Ostanes's introduction of the "monstrous craft" to the
Greeks gave those people not only a "lust" (aviditatem) for
magic, but a downright "madness" (rabiem) for it. By the end of
the first century BCE, "Ostanes" is cited as an authority on alchemy,
necromancy, divination, and on the mystical properties of plants and stones.
the ferocious invasion of Iran by Macedonian warlord Alexander II in 330 BCE
many Greek philosophers were students of Iranian Mazda Yasna school of
philosophy and travelled to Iran to learn the wisdom.
These Greek philosophers such as Pythagoras, Empedocles,
and Plato returned to teach it(xxx.2.8-10).,
For instance, Democritus was a student of early 5th century Persian
philosopher and a Zoroastrian priest Osthanes.
who is considered to be the father of Western philosophy learnt of Zoroastrian
philosophy through Eudoxus and incorporated much of it into his own Platonic
He was particularly influenced by the concept of Khshathra Vairya.
according to the historical accounts Plato was more than influenced by the
Old-Iranian philosophy. In the 3rd century BCE, Colotes exposed Plato
plagiarising ‘The Republic’, in copying parts of Zoroaster's On Nature, such
as the Myth of Er.,
addition, after the invasion in 330 BCE and before burning the Dež-Nepešt
(the Achaemenid Imperial Library) in the city of Estakhr to the ground,
many of the Iranian texts written on hide and parchment among them philosophical
were taken away and translated into Greek and it is believed upon the
translation the original texts were destroyed and were claimed to be written by
word English "philosophy" which comes from the Greek
φιλοσοφία (philosophia), meaning "love of wisdom",
seems to have been originated and it is a loose translation of the Old-Iranian Ahura
Mazda, meaning the ‘Lord and Worshipping the Wisdom’. Ahura is
the symbol of pure Love in Old-Iranian traditions.
and its historical importance
is all about helping other people, to share good thoughts with them, doing acts
of kindness for someone else and spreading wisdom and love.
this day Iranians lit fires in their homes as the sign of eternal fire within
and love of the creator of all good, while reciting passages from Avesta,
especially Yasna 51 which is dedicated to Khshathra Vairya.
main ritual for the celebration is to help fellow humans, especially the needy
ones by any means, financially, mentally or physically. In short helping others,
is helping themselves in order to exalt themselves to be a better person and
moving towards the perfect society of Khshathra Vairya, the Divine
to the Zoroastrain traditions this day was the birth of Cyrus the Great, the
Father of the Iranian Nation, who in Zoroastrian texts is referred to as Darab (dārāb - داراب)'.
Apart from the
Zoroastrian texts, Khalf
Tabrizi the author of Borhan-e Qat’a, also writes King Darab was born on this
day In addition, it is believed that the merciful character of King Darab in Ferdowsi’s
Shahnameh (the Book of Kings) and his deeds correspond with the historical
figure of Cyrus the
it is possible the benevolent ancient king who is considered by the Iranian
nation as the ‘Father’ was born in this good- ominous
day. If that is the case, no wonder this meaningful day had impact on him and
shaped the mind and the future of the great king, which resulted in his humane
approach to his own and conquered subjects, freeing Jews from Babylonians’
slavery and captivity, spreading love and equality and respect for each others
beliefs, which ultimately led to the creation and order of world’s first
Charter of Human Rights, known as the Cyrus Cylinder. It is not also an
exaggeration to claim that modern Jews owe their existence to the Great Iranian
According to the Manichean texts, this day was the day of celebration of the Avestan king Yima (Jamshid) and also marks the death of Persian philosopher and visionary Mani in 276 CE.
In the recent decade, the Association of Mobeds has chosen this day as Father's Day for the Zoroastrain community.
of Shrivargan in modern times
Festival of Shrivargan despite of being one the greatest and oldest celebrations in pre-Islamic Iran, has been forgotten and today only a handful of Iranian Zoroastrians in Kerman and Sistan are still celebrating.
in the recent decade the numbers of Iranians, majority of which are Muslims have
shown interests to revive their ancient festivals and rituals, in particular
Zoroastrian ones including Sharivargan have substantially increased. This is
mainly due to the nation defying the dogmatic rule of the Islamic Republic and
their anti-Iranian stance in favour of an Arab-Islamic one.
1979 and the rise of the theocratic-totalitarian regime to power, the clerics
have tried to turn Iranian society from a lax-Muslim to a puritan-Muhammadan
society. As a result the regime have targeted and attacked Iran’s pre-Islamic
past as well as the Persian language,
the two main obstacles for executing their plan.
force-belief-invasion by the regime has resulted in Iranians turning their backs
on Islam and devoting themselves to revive their Zoroastrian and pre-Islamic
heritage; realising by glorifying pre-Islamic Iranian heritage and civilisation,
they cause the regime anger, creating a form of protest and an act of defiance
to the clerics’ rule.
Many Iranians despite the threat and danger of execution have even converted to their forefathers’ religion in clandestine for the first time since their force-conversion to Islam as the result of an Arab invasion of Iran in the 7th century.
Whitley, C.F. (Sep. 1957). "The Date and Teaching of Zarathustra".
Numen 4 (3): pp 219–223.
D. N. MacKenzie, “A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary”, Oxford University Press
 Martijn Theodoor Houtsma, “”, E.J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936, p. 262
Jalal-e-din Ashtiyani. Zarathushtra, Mazdayasna and Governance.
Whitley, C.F. "The Date and Teaching of Zarathustra". Numen
4 (3), (Sep. 1957). p. 219–223.
A. D. Nock "Studien zum antiken Synkretismus aus Iran und
Griechenland by R. Reitzenstein, H. H. Schaeder, Fr. Saxl", The
Journal of Hellenic Studies 49 (1), (1929), p. 111.
David N. Livingstone, The Dying God: The Hidden History of Western
Civilization, iUniverse (2002), p. 144-145.
The Journal of Hellenic Studies 49 (1), (1929), p. 111-116.
David Livingstone, The Dying God: The Hidden History of Western
Civilization, iUniverse (2002), p. 218.
Beck, "Thus Spake Not Zarathushtra: Zoroastrian Pseudepigrapha of the
Greco-Roman World", in Boyce, Mary; Grenet, Frantz, A History of
Zoroastrianism, Handbuch der Orientalistik, Abteilung I, Band VIII,
Abschnitt 1, 3, Leiden: Brill (1991) pp. 491–565.
Clark, “Zoroastrianism: An Introduction to an Ancient Faith”, Brighton
Christian Rask, “Über das Alter und die Echtheit der Zendsprache und des
Zend-Avesta, und Herstellung des Zend-alphabets”
Before the Western-orchestrated 1979 Iranian revolution only 15% of Persian
language contained foreign loanwords, mainly Arabic, but since then the
Arabic loanwords has increased staggering further 15%, shrinking Persian
language to 70% today (Shapour Suren-Phlav (2007), Persian NOT Farsi;
Iranian Identity Under Fire: An Argument Against the Use of the Word
‘Farsi’ for the Persian Language, CAIS [LINK]).
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