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The Faravahar, Farohar or Fravashi is a symbolic
image in the
Zoroastrian religion, representing the human
to the Zoroastrian faith the soul exists before birth and will continue to
exist after death.
The purpose of the image is to remind one of the purpose of life on this
Earth, which is to live in such a way that the
and attains union with
Mazda (the Wise Lord); this state is called
Frasho-kereti in the
Faravahar is the
word for a powerful supernatural being whose concept at an early stage in
Zoroastrianism became blended with that of the urvan. The urvan
is the human soul, which in pre-Zoroastrian times was believed after death
to pass a shadowy existence in the underworld, from where it returned once a
year to its former home at the feast of H amaspaθmaędaya. It then received
prayers and offerings from its descendants, whom it rewarded with blessings.
Close parallels with the Indian pitaras establish that belief and cult go
back to proto-Indo-Iranian times. The concept of the fravašis appears in
contrast unique to the Iranians. The principal source for knowledge of them
is Yašt 13. In this they appear as beings who inhabit the upper air and are
powerful to aid and protect those who worship them. Yet they too are
associated with the cult of the dead and are sometimes directly identified
as urvans. References to the fravašis occur in the text of the Yasna and in
the Pahlavi books.
Biruni describes their annual worship , and there are abundant materials
for their veneration in living Zoroastrianism.
The Faravahar were conceived as a vast host of "many hundreds,
many thousands, many tens of thousands" . They are presented in their
yasht as aiding
Mazda in the beginning to order the world, and as powerful now in
maintaining it, in particular in nurturing waters and plants, and protecting
sons in the womb . Every year when rain comes, they strive among themselves
to obtain water for their own "family, settlement, tribe, and country"; but
though many verses celebrate their prowess and power to help in battle, in
two sections of the Yasht they are fully identified with the relatively
helpless urvan, although the term fravashi is used throughout.