Space And Time In Zoroastrianism

Space and Time in Zoroastrianism

by Jayaram V

According to Zoroastrian texts space is both visible (getig) and invisible (menog) and time is both infinite and finite. The invisible world is beyond the senses, but reachable through the inner spirit and the inner eye. It is represented and inhabited by the six archetypes or the Amesha Spentas and the archangels. The visible world is represented by material things made of the four elements, namely fire, earth, water and air. It is inhabited by the seven creations: humans, animals, earth, water, plants, metals, fire.

According to some Zoroastrian texts the visible and invisible worlds together constitute the body of Ahura Mazda. When God manifested the visible world, Angira Mainyu, the evil spirit, did not want order to prevail. So he managed to penetrate the material things and metals and tried to create chaos. As a result the earth, air and water became susceptible to pollution, plants, animals and humans became subject to death, decay and destruction. However fire being of the nature of light cannot be penetrated or polluted by evil. So it remains sacred for ever.

Infinite time (zruvan akarana) is indivisible, unchangeable, indestructible and eternal. Being absolute, it has no duration, no beginning and no end. In contrast, finite time is subject to change and destruction. It is both linear and cyclical. The linear time is divided into past and future. The cyclical time is divided into the four great periods of 3000 years each.

In the infinite time, God made sure that the evil remained confined to its region and remain finite. When He created the finite time in the visible world, He snared the evil being to enter them both so that he could be eventually trapped and destroyed. Thus in Zoroastrianism, time and space are viewed as the traps or snares created by God which tries to attract and hold the evil forces within limits and destroy them comprehensively.

Zoroastrian scriptues ascribe the power of movements in space to God as is evident from the following passage.

Be it known that the power of the invisible spirit is for inducing motion in those that move about. Without the spirit or soul none can move about and work in this world. The continuance of the power of motion in the living body that moves about and works (in this world) is due to the presence in the material body of the life-and-movement-inducing spiritual substance. (Denkard.Bk.3-Chp.417)

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