Transoxiana, Journal Libre de Estudios Orientales

Transoxiana 12
Agosto 2007
ISSN 1666-7050


Immortals In Ancient Iranian Myths

Gholnar Ghal’e Khani (PhD), Parvin Ghasemi (PhD), Shahram Razmjooee

Academic Affiliation: Dr. Gholnar Ghal’e Khani and Dr. Parvin Ghasemi are Assistant Professors at the Dept. of Foreign Languages and Linguistics, College of Literature and Humanities, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran. pghasemi 2000[@]

Key Words: Immortality, Myth, Epic, Hero, Zoroastrians, Avesta, Iranian traditions, Resurrection, Savior


Undoubtedly, understanding every nation’s culture and beliefs is impossible without investigating their myths and epics. Thus, this study focuses on the concepts of myth and epic, their significance, interactions, and the concept of immortality, immortal mythological characters and their origin based on Avesta and Pahlavi texts and Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh.

Kaykhosrow, Aghrirath, Toos, Pashutan and other Iranian mythological immortals are heroes of an ancient era who have immortally slept a long lasting sleep, to wake up on Resurrection day and assist Hushidaran (Saviors) to save the world from cruelty and injustice.


The Significance of Myths:

According to John Hinnels, myths are the mirrors which reflect man's visions beyond time; where history and archeology are silent, myths speak and bring people's culture to our time and give us access to the depth and extent of thoughts and logic of some unknown but wise people (quoted in Amozegar 7). As Joseph Campbell has maintained, myths are clues to our deepest moral potentials and can lead us to happiness, ecstasy and even inspiration (13).

Indeed, myths cannot be dismissed as lies and hallucination; undoubtedly deep penetration into their nature is all but useless and futile. An investigative look into myths can lead to a better understanding of their significance from an academic aspect and offer a justifiable rationale for their existence. This trend of research on myths may, therefore, result in appealing and exciting interpretation. Since the voice of a nation's ideology and expectations can be heard through its myths throughout centuries. Among universal myths, Iranian myths have a special place due to their antiquity and the ancient history of this country.

Iranian myths have been investigated from various angles; different people have looked at them from their specific viewpoints however, they still harbor inner secrets which have been left uncovered. Among them, immortality in ancient Iranian myths is a significant issue which will be dealt with in this study.

Review of Some Sources on Ancient Iranian Myths:

Religious foundations and national and folk beliefs are the fundamental basis of Iranian's attitude and outlook towards the universe. Ancient Iranian myths were originally oral and were later made into written form. The most important sources for the study of ancient Iranian myths are Avesta and theological Pahlavi books. There are few other Persian and Arabic sources as well, the best of which includes Ferdowsi's Shahnameh./p>

I. Avesta Sources

Zend-Avesta is the Zoroastrian's religious text, teaching the worship of Ahura Mazda in the context of a universal struggle between the forces of light and darkness. In Zend-Avesta, Iranian national and epic stories are narrated. It is written in one of the ancient Persian languages, and except for Avesta and the attached manuscripts, no other text is written in this language. Its written symbols and alphabets are based on a version of Pahlavi writing invented in the reign of Sasasnian dynasty (3rd to 17th A.D.).

The existing Avesta is only one-fourth of the text of the Sasanian period. Sasanian Avesta has twenty-one books. The existing Avesta has five major sections which are divided to an old text and a new text. According to Vesta S. Curtis, in Avesta, heroes and legendary characters are brought in sections called “Yašts”. In Yašts, there are myths which have origins prior to Zoroastrians and reflect a pagan ideology (8).

II. Pahlavi Theological Books

Jaleh Amozegar in Persian Mythological History indicates that even though writing and editing of the majority of Pahlavi texts were completed by 9th century A.D., their tradition belongs to Sasanian period and these texts narrate some material even older than this period.

The texts which are written in Pahlavi are often Zoroastrian theological material. Pahlavi texts are very diverse and are considered invaluable sources for not only the study of the Zoroastrian religion during Sasanian dynasty, but also for an in depth study of ancient Iranian mythology and the knowledge of ancient Iranians' views about the universe.

III. Arabic and Farsi Sources

These sources are based on oral or written religious texts and offer valuable material concerning narratives and tales about ancient traditions, especially during Sasanian period (Amozegar 9). Ferdowsi' Šahnamé, among other sources, is the main source for mythological and epic narratives through which the record of ancient Iranain history is narrated in a distinct artistic style. In addition, the books of some non-Iranian historians such as Herodotus (5th century B.C.) and Polotark, can be considered useful texts for the study of Iranian myths.

Among epic texts, Shahnameh by Ferdowsi is considered as one of the greatest and most fascinating texts which narrate the national myth of ancient Iran. Ferdowsi whose devotion to everything Iranian and his dislike of anything non-Iranian in Shahnameh is notable, sounds very credible in his creative aspiration. A significant virtue of this great text is its reliability and originality. Ferdowsi's narrations of the stories and myths correspond to their original versions. Except for the poetic composition and versification of descriptive scenes and the characterization of heroes and connecting some scattered stories, Ferdowsi has tried not to alter the original material at all. Review of Literature on Iranian Mythology

Even though research on mythology as a literary and academic field has a history of more than two centuries, the history of research on Iranian mythology is not more than a few decades old. The first serious attempt was achieved by Ebrahim Pour Davood who translated Avesta and offered some notes concerning myths. However, the first independent work on Iranian myths was published by Mehrdard Bahar entitled Persian Myths in 1969. These two works opened a new avenue for the researchers of Persian classical languages. The translations of ancient texts into modern Persian enabled Iranian researchers to probe into the content of Avesta and relate to this material easily and independent of foreign auxiliary sources. It also gave them access to the investigation of social circumstances, customs, morals, sermons, ideology, life style and religious beliefs and philosophy as well as historical narrations and mythological stories of their ancient ancestors.

Mehrdad Bahar revised this work and, with some additions, published a book entitled A Research on Iranian Mythology in 1981. The domain of this work extents to anthropology and mythology of ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and India. He also attempted a comparative study of the mythology of the above mentioned nations and Iranian mythology to investigate the origin of Indo-European myths and the mutual impact of these myths on each other.

Other valuable sources include Mirceas Eliade's the Myth of Eternal Return, Jaleh Amozegar's conscientious translation of John Hinnels' book Recognition of Persian Myths (1985) and Ahmad Tafazoli's The Myth of Zoraster's Life (1987). In the recent decade, there has been a meticulous attempt at studying mythology in Iran and recen researches indicate an indepth investigation into all aspects of ancient Iranian myths.

The present study aims at investigating the origin and the content of several myths concerning immortals in ancient Persian culture. By studying the primary sources (basically Avesta and Pahlavi theological texts) the names, titles and number of immortal heroes will be extracted and subsequently traced in the post-Islamic texts and especially in Shahnameh. These names are classified according to the dates they are mentioned in the above texts. In addition, the status and life-story of each of these mythological characters are presented according to their historical and cultural significance. Moreover, in case of diversity in different narrations, variations, by a reference to the sources, will also be offered.


Myth and Immortality

The definition of myth has created a host of various interpretations among the world's intellectuals. Anthropology has made a significant contribution to this subject. The word “myth” originates from its Greek root “muthos” which means “speech” and “fable”. Every nation's myths concern the story of creation, divinity, man and his destiny, and existence. This implies the significance and function of myth in man's knowledge of the creator, himself, and the universe. Immorality In Ancient Iranian Myths

Man, in his confrontation with death, envisions and idealizes immortality. In all ancient and mythical thinking, there is a fundamental belief in resurrection and the immortalization of important personages and valuable notions and qualities. “Immortals are ancient heroes who are in deep sleep until in doomsday, they wake up to assist the appointed messiah to save the world of cruelty and injustice; these immortals are mainly monarchs, heroes, and the saints” (Vahed Doost 389).

Accordant to Christensen, “the major idea in this issue is about an ancient belief in especially Indo-European people who believed in heroes who are eternally in deep sleep and will rise on the day of the world's misery and unhappiness to lead their people to victory” (quoted in Tafazdi 69). In Farškard, Saošyant (the Zoroastrian World Saviour) sets foot on the earth. When thirty, he is appointed as the prophet Mazdesina and his presence destroys Ahriman (the evil spirit). The immortal figures such as Kayxosrow, Giv, Pašutan, Garšasb and Toos assist Saošyant in the renovation of the world. In the book of Bandhaš (part of Avesta) it is thus explained: “In the making of Farškard, those pious people--who as mentioned are fifteen men and fifteen maids--will come to Saošyant's assistance” (Bahar 148).

The duty and effort to save the world--resurrection-- have been attributed to different people in the history of Zorastrians and Persian ancient history. Some researchers, due to the sacred ness of number seven, have considered the saviors to be seven male figures. However, all Pahlavi texts do not agree with the number and identity of all of the immortals. In Aban Yašt, it is indicated that, “All seven [immortals] think unanimously, talk unanimously, act unanimously since in unanimous thinking, unanimous talking, and unanimous acting, they have one father and master; He is Ahura Mazda” (Aban Yašt, Pour Davood, 77). In ancient Iranian texts, there is no mention of women immortals who come to Saošyant's assistance. There are also a number of heroes who lose the privilege of immortality due to the commitment of sin, such as Kaykavos and Afrasiyab.

In Shotegrensk Denkard, Book IX, ch. 16, section 12 and also Book IX, ch. 15, the seven immortals are mentioned as:

The Local Circumstances of Immortals

The locality of the immortals is of symbolic significance. These localities do not necessarily correspond to real geographic locations but imply symbolic localities (Vahed Doost 369). Time and place in myths, contrary to history, are ambiguous and secret. In Iranian mythical geography, one may suggest the following ancient examples: Wariĵankard in Avesta, xvanirθa in Band Haš, Siyavaš Gard in Shahnameh which all indicate localities which “symbolically, exist in abstraction and man's access to their centers is like man's access to his own center which is the nourishing center of myth” (Vahed Doost 370).

Mythological localities can be traced in the Zorastrian religious texts, national folktales and myths; one may, however, follow their tracks in the natural geographic settings since such localities are presented as approximate entitles in aforementioned sources. In brief, some of these mythological localities include:


This name is written as “xvaniraθa” in Avesta and “xwanirah” in Pahlavi and in new Persian as “xireh”, “xirath”, “xiras”, and “xoiniris”. In Hadkhat Nask, this releam is also mentioned. It is the name of the central region of the seven mythological regions which are mentioned as the mythological regions of Iran in the seventh millienum. In Ban Haš, the creation of seven regions and its central region, i.e., Xvaniras has been mentioned. Xvaniras is as big as the other six regions and more beautiful than others. It is the central locality of Zorastrian religion and where Saošyant will rise from (Bahar 137).

Kang Castle

This castle is named as “Kaηha” in Avesta and as “kaηdiz” in Pahlavi and as “Kang Castle” in new Persian, “Kang Deš” and Siyavaš Gard. In Aban Pašt and Zamyad Yašt there are references to this place.

It is a famous castle which is built by Siyavaš and is called “Siyvaš Gard,” and Kayxosrow conquers it eventually. It is described as having seven walls of gold, silver, steel, brass, iron, glass, and precious stones. Immortal Pašutan is established there (Tafasali 111). The inhabitants of kang castle live in happiness, prosperity, nobility, religiosity, and purity and do not return to Iranshahr (city of Iran) until Pašutan summons them and renovates the world's religion with the assistance of Hušidaran (Christensen 125). According to Pahlavi texts, this castle is beyond Vavrookesh sea, and based on Band Haš, resurrection begins from this castle. The most complete narrative about “Kang Castle” is mentioned in Pahlavi texts (Vahed Doost 389). “Kang castle is situated in the East [Between Farrokh kard Lake and Podik Lake, at the boardline of Iranvij [the original land of Iranians]” (Tafazeli 69). In Band Heš, it is mentioned, “Kang castle is situated in Khorasan, under the sea of Farakh Kard” (Bahar 148). In Ferdowsi's Shahnameh, Kang Castle is talked of and Siyavaš is mentioned as its builder. Darmasteter, according to some evidences, has considered the locality of Kang Castle in Bokhara (in Afganestan of today) or Kharazm (Safa 498).

It is a place which was built by king Jamshid with the guidance of Ahura Mazda to keep all creatures safe from the severe and cold winter and to choose the best of creatures to put in there, so that the generation of creatures would not perish in the storm which occurs in the Hooshider mellinum. The description of the building of this castle has been mentioned in the second Far Gard, Vandidad. In Band Haš it is mentioned: “'Warijam Kard' is a castle which is built By Jam in Pars, called 'Jamkard'” (Bahar 137) and in Minu-ye-xerad, is it said, “Warijam Kard is built in Iranvij under the earth . . . .” There, the narration of Band Heš in this respect is repeated. Thus, one can conclude that the story of Warīĵam Kard has an apparent influence on the story of Kang Castle and these two places are similar to each other in many respects and, therefore, the legend of Kang Castle is taken from the story of “var” (Safa 497).


It is written in Avesta as Airyan∂,m vaējō and in Pahlavi as “érān-vēj”. After Aryaians (Indo-European) scattered in different Iranian regions, a group of them settled in a place called Airinom, i.e. the land and origian of Aryaians. Researchers have called it Kharazm and Khivah Haliyeh. According Band Heš, “Iran-vīj” is located in Azarbayejan” (Bahar 128).


Band Heš maintains that, “the plains of Pišinah is located in Kavolestan [Kabolestan]. It is said that Kavolestan it is the strangest country; it is very warm there and in the highest place it is not so warm” (Pour Davood 200).


According to Bandheš: “the territory of sukavestan, from Turkestan to Chinestan, is located in the east” (Bahar 128). It might be surmised that it is the state of Sistan of today as it is mentioned in Bandheš to be on the route of Turkestan to China.

Significant Immortals in Iranian myths (An analysis)

Kayxosrow (Kaykhosrow)

In Avesta, Kayxosrow is written as “kavi haosravah,” in middle Persian as “xusraw”. Kayxosrow's father is Siyavaš the son of Kaykavos, and his mother is Vasipan Fariyeh (Farangis) the daughter of Afrasiyab (Vahed Doost 190). Kayxosrow is the eight kay (king) of his dynastry.

Kayxosrow's character in Avesta, Pahlavi, and Epic texts:

Kayxosrow's name has been mentioned in Avesta in several places. He is considered as one of the great heroes and Kings. It is said in Yašt five of Avesta that Kayxosrow scarificed one hundred horses, one thousand cows and ten thousand lambs by Chichest River and asked the Goddess Anahita to grant him the blessing to become the greatest king of all countries to rule over men, devils, magicians, genies and overcome the tyrants and make him such that he won't be trapped by the malevolent enemy (Doostkhah 306). Christensen expresses the same request by Kayxosrow to enable him to kill Afrasiyab Toorani by Chichest River as an act of revenge for the murder of his own father Siyavaš and revenge for the killing of the brave ayriraθ (Pour Davood 385).

This power is granted to him. According to Avesta texts, Kayxosrow is immune from sickness and death and monarchy becomes his legitimate right. He becomes strong and invincible and overcomes his enemies bravely and gains the knowledge of Edenic bliss; he is in the possession of a prospered kingdom, long life and all prosperities (Safa 500).

In Pahlavi literature, Kayxosrow is the eighth King of his dynasty; among his activities two things are very important: one is the destruction of the house of idols by Chichest River (Bahman Castle in Shahnameh) and the second is the killing of Afrasiyab and Garsivaz (Safa 501). Christensen, narrating from Band Heš, gives a detailed account of Kayxosrow's defeating the enemy magicians and conquering and destroying the house of idols and making the ritualistic fire by Oromeyah River (133-134). The period of Kayxosrow's kingdom was sixty years and after him Lorasb became King. It is said in Band Heš that, “in the same millineum that Kayxosrow killed Afrasyiab, he returned to Gang Castle and offered his kingdom to Lohrasb” (Bahar 140).

The mythical personality of Kayxosrow is defined as moral, efficient, and superior. He is concerned about justice and construction. It is narrated in the History of Ghar-Ralsir from Kayxosrow that: “the way of the ancestors has been such that people considered our ancient Kings their Gods because if the basis of their deeds was on justice and improvement of people's affairs, it is analogous to God's deeds--his name is respected--the God who is the creatures' guard” (Sálebi 154).

Kayxosrow in Shahnameh

The fable of Kayxosrow is depicted in full details in Shaahnameh. Siyavaš chooses the name of Kayxosrow for his yet unborn son: Siyavaš has a terrifying nightmare and is forewarned that he would be killed by Afrasiyab, so he tells his wife that their son would become the king of the world, and a wiseman from Iran would come to Tooran and take them to Iran and make his son a king.

Siyavaš also askes his horse, Shadorang Behzad, to be an efficient horse for Kayxosrow. After Siyavaš is killed, Kayxosrow is born and is rescued from death by Afrsiyab through Piran's endurance and is given to shepherds to be reared.

Christensen asserts that, ". . . in Iranian fables the dream which predicts the overthrow of a dynasty and the coming into power of another dynasty and the command to kill a newly born baby -- which is not carried on -- and the baby's being reared by Shepherds and his unusual intelligence are all common context of ancient folk tales shared by many Iranian sects” (87, 88). Kayxosrow, due to Piran's recommendation to protect himself from Afrasiyab's revenge, disguises madness. Afrasiyab orderes Kayxosrow's mother to take him to “Siyavaš Gard”. Kayxosrow lives animously for a while until Godars sees him in his dream and sends his own son Giv to Iran to find Kayxosrow.

Giv brings Kayxosrow to Iran; Kavoos intents to make him his successor but Toos who favors Fariboorz (Kavoos' son) disagrees with Giv's decision. Godars believes the better man should be appointed to Kingdom. Kavoos orders Fariboorz and Kayxosrow to go to conquer Bahman Castle and the one who succeeds becomes his successor. Fariboorz goes to Bahman Castle with the help of Toos, but returns unsuccessfully. Kayxosrow, however, goes there with the help of Godars and Giv and returns successfully and Kavoos inaugurates him as a king (Daghighi 596).

Kayxosrow shows kindness to the heads of the army and heroes; then, he gathers a great army to send to Tooran. and the war between Iran and Tooran starts once again (Rastegar Fasaie 816). In the first stage of the war, Iranians are defeated and Kayxosrow expels Toos from the leadership of the army. Moreover, Toos is disfavored because he kills Kayxosrow's brother on his way to war. However, Rostam (the great hero in Shahnameh) mediates and Toos is forgiven and is sent again on his mission to fight Afrasiyab. Toos asks Rostam to help him, and Rostam goes to Tooran on Kayxosrow's command. After Rostam defeats Afrasiyab and drives him to China and beyond, he returns to Iran. Kayxosrow welcomes him and shows him great kindness (Rastegar Fasaie 816).

Kayxosrow displays other acts of chivalry including waging another war on Afrasiyab to avenge the murder of Piran by Godarz. Kayxosrow, along with all his heroes and armies, goes to Tooran. In this war, Shideh, Afrasiyab's son is defeated by Kayxosrow. This war results in Iranians' victory and this time Afrasiyab sends his son “Jahan” to ask for a peace treaty but Kayxosrow declines.

Kayxosrow stays in Gang Castle for a while, until he finds out that Afrasiyab has united with Faghfor of China to wedge another war on him. Another massive confrontation starts which leads to Afrasiyab's defeat and escape to hide in a cave. Hoom, a pious and courageous man, finds him and delivers him to Kayxosrow and Kayxosrow, to avenge Noozar, ayriaθ and Siyavaš, kills him.

Afterwards, Kayxosrow offers worship and gratitude to God and advises the heroes and heads of the army and summons Lorasb to his presence to inaugurate him as the King and advises him and recommends him to justice and then sets off on his eternal journey. The heroes follow him but they are unable to find him; thus, Kayxosrow joins the mythical immortals.

Kayxosrow in Islamic Texts:

The reign of Kayxosrow is full of wars which were waged against Afrasiyab to avenge the murder of Siyavaš; the Islamic history books which refer to these events include Tabari, Salabi, Balie History, and Fars Nameh by Ebne Balkhi; their narrations do not differ with the narration of Shahnameh in this respect since their major source has been khodiname which is the main source of Shahnameh. Some other events concerning the marriage of Siyavaš (Kayxosrow's father) and Jarireh, Piran's daughter, the story of Rostam and Zorab, Kayxosrow's feigned madness in youth to deceive Afrasiyab and also the story of the conquest of Bahman Castle originate from religious texts. Concerning the killing of Afrasiyab by Kayxosrow, the narration in Tabri is taken from Pahlavi texts.

Kayxosrow's death in Islamic texts is narrated very close to the narration of Shahnameh; however, it is in Avesta and Pahlavi texts which we have clear references to Kayxosrow's immortality.

Kayxosrow: Myth or Historical Truth?

Various researchers have investigated the historical origins of Iranian myths concerning kings and heroes in Shahnameh. Hertle believes that Hakhamanishian are the last of the ancient monarchs of Iran. It is also believed that the first ancient kings were all the kings of Maod dynasty and Kayxosrow is the same as Korush (Mokhtari 124).

Some researchers have traced some similarities between the fictional events in Kayxosrow's time and the historical events during the Partian era, especially at the time of Ardavan 3rd and Godarz. Badar-el-zaman Garib (a researcher on Iranian myth) believes that there is correspondance between Aškanian history and parts of Shahnameh ; he refers to the relation of names such as Godars and Giv in Shahnameh which he believes is influenced, in the section about monarchs, by Aškanian history and some other sections by Avesta.

Kayxosrow's Immortality:

Zabi-allah Safa, narrating from chapter 35 of Denkard, maintains that when the day of resurrection approaches, Kayxosrow will see "Why" (whyo) the angel leading the dead and will ask him the reason he has done away with so many ancient men of power and honor? Why gives reasons for doing so; then Kayxosrow transforms him to a camel and mounts it. Why leads Kayxosrow and his Iranian companions to the place where Heyoeišt is resting; then they get to the place where Toos, the warrior, is sleeping and afterwards where Kayepivah is sleeping and after passing him, they see Saošyant and he asks: “who is that who is mounting Why?” Kayxosrow identifies himself and Saošyant greets him and praises him for the destruction of the temple of idols by Chichest river and the killing of Afrasiyab. Then Garshasb comes with a fighting club, Toos wakes up and invites Garshasb to the religion of Mazda and the war of Resurrection begins then” (Safa 502).

According to the Yašt “praise prophet Zoraster,” the prophet Zoraster praises Kaygoštasb in the following words: “you shall be immune to sickness and death like Kayxosrow” (Pour Davood 260). Likewise, in Pahlavi texts, Kayxosrow is one of the immortals and resides in Gang Castle and sits on his throne, invisible to all eyes; and when Resurrection approaches, he and Saošyant would meet each other; Kayxosrow will be among the heroes who assist Saošyant in the war in the time of Resurrection.

In Pahlavi texts, Kayxosrow's immorality has been repeatedly mentioned. In the ninth book of Dinkard, chapter 15, item II, Kayxosrow is named as one of seven immortals (Pour Davood , Yašts v.2, 261). In the story of Dening, chapter 36, seven immortals are mentioned and Kayxosrow is one of them (Christensen 221). In the Pahlavi text of Minu-ye-xerad the story of the immortality of Kayxosrow is also narrated.

In Shahnameh, the story of the immortality of Kayxosrow is narrated as the following:

Kayxosrow, after avenging Siyavaš's death and liberating Iran of the harm of Afrasiyab from Tooran, intends to leave this world and according to the command of God sets off for the releam of the other world, taking no heed of the requests of the heroes to stay longer. At last, accompanied by Toos, Giv, Bijan and Fariboorz, he climbs a mountain, reaches a desert and at night, washes himself in a pond there. In the morning, nobody finds any traces of him. (Safa 505)

The story of Kayxosrow's passage to the other world in Shahnameh is undoubtedly a revised version of the story of Kayxosrow's immortality in Avesta and Pahlavi texts.

Mehrdad Bahar, maintains that the mythical era in Iran terminates by Kayxosrow's ascend to the skies and precisely because he is the last of ancient kings, according to myths, he will return to the world in Ressurection day and will rule the world eternally (195). He also adds that another reason for Kayxosrow's immortality is that based on the folklore and also Shahnameh, people, contrary to Zoroastrian clergymen, were not content with Goshtasb; therefore, they preserved the fable of Kayxosrow's eternal kingdom which suggested the notion of justice and equality (Bahar 195). Kayxosrow offers a new portrayal of death; the liberator of the world from evil and the final savior who cannot be overcome by death. His disappearance implies his immortality and ever-lasting life (Mokhtari 323).

Pašutan/ Pašutan

Pašutan is the elder son of Kaygoštasb the ancient Iranian king. His name, with slight variations, is mentioned in Avesta, Pahlavi texts, and New Persian texts. In Shahnameh, Pašutan is described as a wiseman, well-doer, free, and respected. According to Shahnameh and Daghighi, Goštasb's wife is the daughter of the Roman Emperor and was called Nahid whom the king called Katayon and Pašutan is their offspring (Bahar 151).

There is a discrepancy concerning the identity of Pašutan's mother among the narrations of Shahnameh, Avesta, and Pahlavi texts. Goštasb's wife in Avesta is Hutaosa, and in Pahlavi texts Hutoos. Goštasb's wife in Shahnameh is from a non-Iranian descent; however, according to the ancient Persian texts, Hutoos comes from the Iranian family of Noozari and from the same family linage as Goštasb (Safa 515).

The Personality of Pašutan in Avesta, Pahlavi and Epic texts:

Pašutan is called Pišyaothna in Avesta. His wisdom and well-wishing character is mentioned in Avesta. According to Pahlavi texts, Pašutan resides in Gang Castle and will appear before the millennium, accompanied by one hundred fifty religious men to destroy the temple of idols (Afifi 270). In Minu-ye-xerad and several other Pahlavi texts, similar qualities of Pašutan are mentioned.

Pashtan's personality in epic texts and especially in Shahnameh is described as a wise and conscientious man, but his immortality is not mentioned. In Shahnameh, he warns his brother Esfandiyar against fighting with Rostam; he also recommends Bahman, Esfandiyar's son, to follow goodness and forgiveness.

The focal point of Pašutan's personality in Avesta and Pahlavi texts is his immortality; however, in epic texts and Shahnameh, Pašutan's personality is praised for intellectuality and conscientiousness; there is also an emphasis on his wisdom and virtue; there is no reference to his immortality as it is the case with Kayxosrow.

Pašutan in Shahnameh

According to the narration in Shahnameh, Pašutan is the son of Goštasb and Katayon and Esfandiyar's brother. In Haft Khan (seven stages) Esfandiyar goes to Tooran with his brother and Esfandiyar gives the leadership of his army to Pašutan.

As the leader of the army, Pašutan achieves many victories. When Esfandiyar goes to Zabolestan, Pašutan accompanies him and advises him to show calmness in dealing with Rostam. He is scared of the confrontation of these two heroes. Pašutan is Esfandiyar's confidante and consultant. When Rostam shoots Esfandiyar in the eye, Pašutan cries for him and Esfandiyar selects him as the leader of his army to take the army back to Iran after his death. Pašutan does so, and after mourning gravely for his brother's death, goes to Goštasb and blames him and warns him of the deterioration of his lineage and considers Rostam innocent regarding Esfandiyar's death.

Immortality of Pašutan:

Ghoštasb, after converting to Zoroastrianism, wants to know of his place in Eden. Three angles appear at his court. Their glory and greatness overcome the court, so much so that the king and the courtiers tremble with fear. However, the angles assure them that God is their protector and would ensure their victory over the enemy. The King's request for knowing of his place in the Eden is granted; the angels also award immortality to his son, Pašutan (Amozegar 78).

According to Bahman Yašt in Avesta, Pašutan, Goštasb's son lives in Gang Castle. His appearance on the Resurrection Day to save the world is also mentioned there (Pour Davood 221). Mahrdad Bahar believes that apparently the myths concerning Pašutan are not very ancient, and since Pašutan appears after the rising of Bahram Var Javand, it can be surmised that only Bahram Var Javand was refered to in myths; however, Zorastrians later added the name of this son of Goštasb to the list of immortals, due to the affection they had for Goštasb, and attributed to Pašutan the same myths concerning Bahram Var Javand.


The name of this hero is mentined as 'Tusa' in Avesta. There is no mention of his family linage; only in national narratives (such as in Ferdowsi and Tabari), his father is mentioned as Noozar (Naotara).

There is also a geographical area in Iran called 'Toos' and Safa asserts that the city of Toos was built by Toos, the mythical hero (71). Toos is from the family of Noozarian (Naotara) and his father Noozar is the son of Manoocher and Manoocher's linage goes back to Toor, the son of Feraydoon (Pirnia 38). From this family, Manoocher and his son Noozar and Zoo, son of Noozar and Toos' brother were kings; after Zoo, the kingship terminated in this family; the name of this mythical personality is repeatedly mentioned in pahlavi texts. In Shahnameh, he is mentioned initially in his encounter with Afrasiyab (Pour Davood 255).

The Personality of Toos in Avesta and Phlavi and Epic texts

Toos, son of Noozar, is one of Iranian heroes and has a claim to the throne of the king. He prays at the temple of Goddess Nahid to defeat sons of Viceh and give him victory in the passageway of “Khosterosook” over Gang Castle (Pour Davood 257). In the passageway of “Khosterosook,” Iranians and Toorians confront each other, and Toos is victorious. Toos is said to have the greatness of kings and heroes and is believed to survive until he assists the savior on the Resurrection Day.

In Avesta, Toos is considered as a hero and a pious and worshipping man. He is called “Toos the warrior,” and his worship at the temple of Nahid is indicative of his religiousity. During Kayxosrow's kingship, Toos approaches Goštasb and invites him to faith; Goštasb, fearing Toos, throws his club to the ground and accepts the faith (Safa 571).

In Shahnameh, Toos is greatly respected among the heroes; however, there is a reference to his quick temper and lack of patience, evident in his treatment (and eventual slaying of) Forood, Kayxosrow's brother. Thus, Toos' character is presented as controversial. He is also portrayed as arrogant and temperamental. However, overall, his personality is acceptable as an ancient Iranian hero who returns to Kayxosrow's services even after he is severly reproached by Kayxosrow.

Toos' story is quiet extensive in Shahnameh. He starts as a companion to king Kavoos and assists him in many wars. He is also Kayxosrow's army leader. In this position, he repeatedly defeats the army of Tooranian. For his efficient services, Kayxosrow awards him a cattle of excellent horses and eventually the government of Khorasan. At last, Toos accompanies Kayxosrow in his final trip and is never seen again.

The Immortality of Toos

In ancient Iranian tradition, immortals are the ever-lasting individuals who continue their life after its normal earthly period in a state of perpetual sleep or hiding; they are to appear on Resurrection Day to assist the saviour to save all people. In Band Heš, it is mentioned that fifteen pious men and fifteen pious women on Resurrection Day will assist the saviour, including Toos, Kayxosrow, Give, Pašutan, etc (Rastegar Fasaie 666). Toos is among those who, along with Fariboorz and Giv, accompany Kayxosrow in his final disappearance; this indicates Zorastrian's belief in Toos' immortality, as Toos is considered one of the immortals in Pahlavi religious texts as well (Amozegar 54).

Ayriraθ (Aghrirath)

The name of Ayriraθ, linguistically, is a compound noun: “Ayra” meaning “front and going ahead,” and “raθa” meaning “carriage,” impling one whose carriage goes ahead. In Avesta his name means “one who is privileged and does excellent deeds” (Razi 223).

Ayriraθ is son of Pašutan Toorani and Afrasiyab's brother, but there is no mention of this connection in Avesta. However, Ferdowsi in Šahnamé, Aborayhan Birooni, and Tabri all agree in this issue that Aghrirath and Afrasiyab are brothers.

The Personality of Ayriraθ in Avesta and Pahlavi and Epic texts:

Ayriraθ is one of the immortals whose story and also his murder by Afrasiyab are mentioned repeatedly in Avesta. In Pahlavi narratives, Ayriraθ is also called Gopat-Shah, so Gopat-Shah who is repeatedly mentioned as one of the immortals is probably the same of Ayriraθ.

It is narrated in the above texts that when Afrasiyab arrested Manoocher and Iranian heroes, Ayriraθ, contrary to Afrasiyab's wishes, released them and was granted a son due to this good deed. However, he made Afrasiyab angry to punish him severly (Bahar 150). Ayriraθ, not only in Shahnameh, but also in Pahlavi and Zorastrian texts is considered as one of the immortals who would assist Kayxosrow on Resurrection Day.

Aghrirath in Shahnameh

In Shahnameh, Ayriraθ is named as Afrasiyab's brother and one of the Tooranians who is considered wise and well-doer. Ayriraθ is Afrasiyab's benevolent brother and is referred to in Shahnameh as a wise youth, intelligent and well-wishing.

As a part of Tooranian army, Ayriraθ is involved in a war with Iranians; however, when a number of great Iranian heroes such as Noozar and Manoocher are arrested by Afrasiyab, Ayriraθ releases the captives. This leads to Afrasiyab's anger and he confronts Ayriraθ and punishes him by cutting his body into halves by his sword.

Ayriraθ Immortality

According to Band Heš, Ayriraθ is one of the immortals of Zorastrians (Mehrdad 290). He is to assist Kayxosrow on the day of Resurrection to save the world. However, in other ancient texts, such as Pahlavi and Avesta, there is no mention of his immortality. In Shahnameh, his immortality is not mentioned.

Kay Apīveh

In Avesta, this character is mentioned as aipiVaŋhav; he is Kay Ghobad's son and comes from the monarch family (Barthlemé 85). He is thus mentioned in Band Heš: “Kay Apīveh comes from Ghobad. From Kay Apīveh come Kay Araš and Kay Biard and Kay pasin and Kay Kavoos. From Kay Kavoos, comes Siavakhš and from Siavakhš, Kayxosrow was born” (Bahar 150-151). Christensen, based on Band Heš, portrays a family tree in which after Kay Ghobad, Kay Apīveh and his children are mentioned, the most important of whom are Kay Kavoos and his son Siavaš and his grandson Kayxosrow (107). In Sotegrnsk, a Pahlavi text, he is considered as one of the holy immortals who will rise in Doomsday. This text narrates the tale of the Doomsday when Kayxosrow, mounted on Why, the angel guardian of deads who has been transformed to a camel, goes to the place of asleeping immortals and meets with Toos and kay Apīveh and later Saošyant (Safa, 502).

There is no mention of Kay Apīveh in Šahnamé; however, in Islamic historical texts this name is mentioned in various sections.


In Avesta, he is mentioned as gaevanay, in Pahlavi Wēv and Gēv and in New Persian Giv. He is mentioned in Tabari History as Bi (taken from Wēv); in Bistoon inscriptions, he is called as Giv and in Dinik, as vēvān (Christensen 90). According to Pahlavi theological texts, Giv is an immortal and one of the five heroes who disappear with Kayxosrow in snow and fog and does not return.

Giv in Shahnameh

Giv has been referred to in Šahnamé for the first time in the beginning of Kavoos's kingdom. He is Rostam's son-in-law and with some other heroes, he is captured by the white Giant and is rescued by Rostam. During Zohrab's attack to Iran, Giv takes Kavoos's message to Rostam and he himself is a witness in Rostam and Zohrab's confrontation. His most prominent heroic act in this Iranian epic is his bringing Kayxosrow from Tooran to Iran which he achieves after seven years of search. After finding Kayxosrow, they set off for Iran; on the way, they are attacked repeatedly by Tooranians whom they defeat and eventually reach Iran and are received warmly by Rostam and Zal.

Giv participates in various wars and shows a great deal of courage and valor. He also acts as the representative of heroes in the court of Kayxosrow. When Kayxosrow decides to leave the earthly world for an eternal sleep, Giv accompanies him and disappears in snow. Giv is mentioned by a number of other Iranian poets such as Khaghani and Ghani as well.


It is written as (vistauru) in Avesta and as (vistahm or vistaxm) in Pahlavi. He is Noozar's son and Toos's brother, and comes form Neoteryaneh Dynasty. He is referred to twice in Avesta. His name is mentioned in the story of Dining and Zand as an immortal (Bartholomé 970).

In Shahnameh, Gostahm is also considered Noozar's son. He serves at Kayxosrow's court as a hero from the first day of Kayxosrow's kingdom; he participates in various wars with Tooranians, including in the great war between Kayxosrow and Afrasiyab, in which he fights with Jahan, Afrasiyab's son, and kills a number of Tooranian generals. He is mentioned in Shahnameh as one of the five heroes who accompany Kayxosrow in his eternal journey and is never seen again.

Fradaxšt I xumbigan

This name is mentioned in Avesta as (Fraδāxštay), but it is not mentioned in Pahlavi texts or new Persian. Christensen writes of him as he is mentioned in Band 138 of Yašt 13 (87). In Band Heš, he is mentioned as an immortal hero (Bahar 127). In Farvardin Yašt in Avesta he is praised for his goodness and benevolence; he is to rise against evil and wrath (PourDavood, Yaš 105). Except for Farvardin Yašt, this Zorastrian saint is not mentioned in any other place in Avesta.

In Pahlavi theological texts, the names and number of immortals have been mentioned repeatedly (though with some discrepancy); and in Sout Gar Nesk Dinkart, in Dinning story and Band Heš, Fradaxšt I xumbigān has been mentioned (Christensen 217-224). This cahracter's life-story is narrated briefly in Avesta and Pahlavi; the only clear indication of his personality is that he is a pious and religious Zorasterian and is one of the immortals. This hero is not mentioned in Shahnameh.

Yašt Faryan

He is called -ašəm.yahmai.ušta- in Avesta and -ašem. Yahmāi-uāš-in Pahlavi texts; he is a Zorastorian saint. He is mentioned in yašts in Avesta (Aban Yašt and Farvardin Yašt).

Accordiang to Avesta, Yašt Faryan is a Zorastrian priest and saint and according to Pahlavi texts he is one of the immortals who will assist Saošyant on Resurrection Day; Axt is an anti-Zorastrian theologian and magician who confronts Yašt Faryan. Magician Axt arrives to the city with a huge army and threatens to kill the residents them and destroy the city unless they solve his riddles. He kills nine hundered religious Zorastrian men and nine girls of Zoraster's who are unable to answer his questions. At last, a man by the name of Mehr Sepand tells him that Yašt Faryan is able to solve the riddles. Yašt Faryan can answer the riddles and in return he asks Axt some questions to which Axt is unable to answer. As a result, Yašt Faryan slays him and saves the people from his tyranny. In Avesta, ninety-nine questions are mentioned; however, in Matikan Yašt Faryan, a book on this issue, thirty-three riddles are referred to.

The Immortality of Yašt Faryan

In Pahlavi texts, Yašt Faryan is mentioned as an Immortal. In Band Heš, Zand, and Homan Yasen, Zoraster asks Ahura Mazda to give him immortality and requests of Ahura Mazda to grant him immortality like wan ī juyd-beš, Goyad Shah, Pašutan, Yašt Faryan Anoosheh (Hedayat 33). Pour Davood considers this personality as a close friend of Zoraster (Yašts 296). There is no reference to this character in Islamic or Iranian epic texts, including Shahnameh.


In Avesta, he is mentioned as -byaršan- meaning the initiator of war (Bartholomae 970). In Band Heš, he is mentioned as one of the immortals. In various places in Avesta Barzad is referred to as a hero, pious man, and brave. In Balame History (an Islamic text) he is called byaraš. This character is not referred to in other Islamic or epic texts.

Wan I Jud-beš

This name is not mentioned in Avesta. It is, however, mentioned in several places in Pahlavi texts, including in Band Heš where he is considered as an immortal: “Wan ī jud-beš is in Iranvij” (Bahar 127).

In Zand and Human Yašt, Wan ī jud-beš is referred to as an immortal. This name is not mentioned in any of Islamic or epic texts and any account about this character is limited to references to him in several Pahlavi texts.


In Avesta, it is written as -ašāvaŋhav- meaning one whose virtue is righteousness. In Farvardin Yašt Band 112, he is praised as a pious man. In Aban Yašt, also, he is admired for his bravery and purity.

In Avesta, in these two above mentioned Yašts, he is mentioned and in Pahlavi texts in Band Heš, Dinkart, and Dinning he is mentioned as an immortal (Christensen 91).

Urwatal nar

This name is mentioned as-unwatal nara. It is the name of Zoraster's son, the prophet. In Band Heš, he is said to reside in Var Jam Kard (Bahar 127). With the exception of two Bands in Avesta and Band Heš in Pahlavi, he is not mentioned in other Pahlavi texts or Islamic and epic texts.


Mythology is impressed by social upheavals and evolutions in different ages. Through a meticulous investigation of a nation's myth, one may attain an insight into the fundamental basis of intellectual and material constructions of an ancient society. Consequently, the study of Iranian myths can enable us to know the history of the civilization and culture of the ancient Iran more profoundly.

The desire for immortality may be considered as man's nostalgic longing for eternal life, resulting from fear of death and uncertainty concerning life after death. Thus, mythical immortal heroes are created to confront man's suffering, oppression, and mortality. They inspire, in men of all ages, a feeling of hope for the triumph of good over evil, justice over tyranny, and everlasting life over destruction and death.


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