Amshaspands or Bountiful Immortals, but he was their chief and the father of at least most of them. He created or begat all the other good spirits, the izads. He was the creator of heaven and earth, of light, and of everything else good in them, but not of anything evil or hurtful. All things evil were regarded as creatures of the evil principle, Ahriman. Ahriman is said to have come into existence in the world of darkness, as Hormazd did in the world of light. Full of envy, hatred and ignorance, he at once began a contest with Hormazd and everything good. He created demons, diseases and other evils, in order to destroy the good creation of Hormazd. The struggle which then began will last for 9,000 years, but will finally result in the complete overthrow of Ahriman and his followers; yet this will occur because, and only because, Ahriman is not possessed of foreknowledge and Hormazd is.

Zoroaster taught that evil spirits should not be worshipped, because of their hostility to Hormazd. But worship was due, he taught, not only to Hormazd himself, but also to all good spirits and other good creatures of Hormazd, and all honour paid to them was thought to be transferred to him. Thus polytheism was sanctioned, and the worship of the sun, the moon, fire, water, the earth, many of the stars, many other objects in nature, and all good spirits, was allowed to be continued under the name of the religion of Mazda or Hormazd.


No idols, however, were at first allowed, nor are they now worshipped by the Parsis. A large part of the Avesta consists of hymns addressed to various deities, such as Mithra, Bahman, Serosh and Aredvi Sura. The rest of it is taken up, for the most part, with ceremonial laws for obtaining purification from outward defilement of the body, such as was supposed to be produced by touching a corpse.

Pious Zoroastrians in ancient times used to live in continual fear of the assaults of demons, and they were careful to conceal the parings of their nails, lest the evil spirits should find these and use them as darts to their injury.

In order to obtain salvation the Zoroastrian is obliged to obey Hormazd's law as given in the Avesta. He should continually perform good thoughts, good words and good deeds, and observe five times of prayer daily. He should destroy Ahriman's creatures, that is to say all harmful and poisonous animals. Special merit is attached to agriculture. It is a great sin to defile the four elements, fire, air, earth and water, and to touch a dead body brings defilement. Murder is not so heinous a crime as for one man alone to carry a corpse to the dakhmah. Some sins are pronounced incapable of ever being forgiven. No expiation is taught to atone for sin, but there are certain rites and ceremonies which are supposed to remove it. One of these is that of washing the whole