FRAŠŌ.KƎRƎTI - (Sk.tr. vráddhi-kráti-, akṣaya-, Mid. Pers. frašegird, Man. Mid. Pers. prš(y)gyrd; probably: making wonderful or excellent), Avestan compound consisting of the adjective fraša- and the ti-abstract of kar (to make). It is an eschatological term referring to the final renovation and transfiguration of Ahura Mazdā’s creation after evil has been utterly defeated and driven away. The etymological connections of OAv. fəraša-, YAv. fraša-, OP fraša- are not entirely clear, neither is the basic meaning of the adjective. The Iranian forms may correspond to Vedic pṛkṣá- “strong,” which, however, must then be etymologically distinct from the Sanskrit verb pṛc- (to fill, satiate, mix; Bailey, pp. 21 ff.; Mayrhofer, Wörterbuch II p. 159; idem, Dictionary II, p. 328). The strongest argument in favor of this equivalence is the use of Vedic pṛkṣá- as an epithet of horses (árvan-) or bulls (vṛˊṣan-; cf. Av. fraša- as an epithet of camels in the name of Zarathushtra’s father-in-law (?), OAv. Fərašaoštra-, YAv. Frašaoštra- “whose camels are excellent”; AirWb., col. 1007; Narten, p. 202 n. 38).
The use of fraša- as part of a proper name in an obviously non-religious sense has a counterpart in Old Persian, where the adjective describes the most beautiful palace which Darius ordered to be built in Susa (DSf 56-57; DSa 5; DSj 6). Moreover, the syntagm frašam akunavam, which expresses Darius’ satisfaction with his building work (DSo 3-4), corresponds to the Gathic formula (ahūm) fərašə̄m kar (Y. 30.9) / YAv. (ahum) frašəm kar (Yt. 19.11., 89) “to make (life) excellent.” In Avestan, however, it occurs only in an eschatological context and provides the basis for the formation of the compound frašō.kərəti-, attested only in the Younger Avesta (Narten, p. 202). The Old Avestan equivalent seems to be the hapax legomenon fərašti- found in the Yasna Haptaŋhāiti (Y 38.2). However, as this noun occurs only in a liturgical enumeration of religious terms (Narten, p. 197), it does not provide any insight into the concept associated with it. In a religious sense, fraša- also refers to Ahura Mazdā’s perfect initial creation in Old Persian (DNb 1.2) and Younger Avestan (Yt. 19.10; Vd. 1.20), and as a root noun in the compound fraž-dā, to the bounteous formulation (Y. 12.1).
Allusions in the Gāθās. In two out of its four Gathic attestations, the adjective fəraša- functions as an attribute to ahu- “life”: aṱcā tōi vaēm x́iiāmā yōi īm fərašə̄m kərənaon ahūm “and so may we be those for you who will make this life excellent” ( Y. 30.9) and xšmākā xšaθrā ahurā fərašə̄m vasnā haiθiiə̄m då ahūm “by your rule, o Lord, you made it real that life is excellent according to (your) wish” (Y. 34.15; the sense of vasnā is disputed, see Hintze, 1994, p. 115, n.130; Humbach, p. 115). In addition, the superlative fərašō.təma- is syntactically parallel to parāhu- “higher existence” (Y. 46.19). The superlative occurs twice, but only in the formula hiiaṱ vasnā fərašō.təməm “what is most excellent according to wish.” This is governed by the verbal expression haiθiia varəš “to make real” (Y. 46.19) or the action noun haiθiiā-uuarəštā- “making real” (Y. 50.11). Each of the three passages where fəraša- or its superlative is governed by the verb or action noun constitute the concluding stanza of a Gāθā.
That fəraša- can refer to Ahura Mazdā’s initial creation in the Gāθās may emerge from Yasna 34.15, where Mazdā is the agent, as well as from Yasna 50.11, where he is addressed as the “creator of life” (dātā aŋhəuš) who “will promote through good thinking the realization of what is most excellent according to (his) wish” (arədaṱ vohū manaŋhā / haiθiiāuuarəštąm hiiaṱ vasnā fərašō.təməm). This passage seems to allude to the idea that Ahura Mazdā (q.v.), who initially created life in a perfect way (fəraša- dā; Y. 34.15), takes care that it will be made perfect again (fəraša- kar; Y. 30.9).
Even if the term frašō.kərəti- itself is not attested, Yasna 30.9 indicates quite clearly that there is in the Gāθās a concept of “making life fraša-.” This is achieved by “giving falsehood into the hands of truth” (Y. 30.8), an idea which forms the central semantic component of frašō.kərəti- in the later tradition. Indeed, Yasna 48.2 aŋhə̄uš vaŋᵛhī ākərətiš could be a Gathic periphrastic expression for YAv. frašō.kərəti- (Nyberg, p. 228). The context supports this interpretation, because the preceding line mentions the defeat of the deceitful by the truthful ones. In the Gāθās, Zarathushtra and his followers ( “we”; Y. 30.9) bring about the renovation. Being Saošiiants, they fight and defeat Evil (Y. 48.12; Hintze, 1995, pp. 88 f.). It is their present life (īm ahūm) which they wish to make fraša- (Y. 30.9). This could indicate that they expected the transformation of life and defeat of Evil to take place within their own lifetime (cf. Lommel, 1922, p. 31; idem, 1930, p. 225). Yet the near-deictic demonstrative pronoun īm probably refers to the corporal life in contrast to the spiritual one, as it does, e.g., in Yasna 43.3 (Narten, pp. 290-95; Shaked, 1971).
Allusions in the Younger Avesta. The only more explicit description of the events believed to take place in frašō.kərəti is found in the Zamyād Yašt (Yt. 19) at the end of the initial three sections as well as at the end of the final one. The agents who will make life fraša- are the “creatures of Ahura Mazdā” (Yt. 19.10), the Aməša Spəntas (q.v.; Yt. 19.15), the spiritual and corporal yazatas, the excellent makers (frašō.carətar-), and saviors (saošiiaṇt-; Yt. 19.22), and above all a single savior, the “victorious one among the Saošyants” (Yt. 19.89), i.e., Astuuaṱ.ərəta (Yt. 19.92), and his companions (Yt. 19.95). It is clearly indicated what making life fraša- implies: it will become “ageless, without decay, not rotting, not putrefying, living forever, thriving forever, ruling at will” (Yt. 19.11.89). The dead will rise, revived by the one who does not decay, and life will be created anew in an excellent and perfect way. Falsehood will be driven out of the good creation, back to that place whence it had come for its destructive purpose (Yt. 19.12.90). Astuuaṱ.ərəta will emerge from Lake Hāmūn (Av. kąsaoiia-) wielding the victorious weapon, which other heroes bore before him, and drive Falsehood out of the World of Truth (Yt. 19.92-93; Hintze, 1995). With his gaze of insight and strength he will render the whole corporal world indestructible (Yt. 19.94). His companions will advance, and Rage (aēšma-) will flee before them (Yt. 19.95). Good Thought (vohu- manah-) overcomes Evil Thought (aka- manah-), the rightly spoken Word (ərəžuxδa- vac-) overcomes the falsely spoken Word (miθaoxta- vac-), Wholeness (hauruuatāt-) and Immortality (amərətatāt-) overcome both Hunger (šud-) and Thirst (taršna-), and finally Aŋra Mainiiu (see AHRIMAN) will retreat powerless (Yt. 19.96).
In Yašt 19 as well as in other Young Avesta passages, frašō.kərəti- denotes a more distant future event. It is conceived of as a turning point (uruuaēsa-; Yt. 13.58). The attribute sūra- “strong” (Y. 62.3; Vd. 18.51) may refer to the notion that evil is overcome at that time. Those who help to bring about frašō.kərəti- are called frašō.carətar- (Y. 24.5; Yt. 13.17, 19.22; Aogəmadaēčā 69; Hintze, 1994, pp. 154-55).
Accounts in the Pahlavi Books. In Pahlavi accounts (Indian Bundahišn 30; Iranian Bundahišn 34, cf. Messina, pp. 269-79; Dādistān ī dēnīg 36; Pahlavi Rivayat 48; Zādspram 34-35; Dēnkard 7.11, ed. Madan, 674.22-676.14; cf. Molé, 1967, 102-5) a continuous evolution towards rehabilitation (paywandišn ī ō frašegird; Zaehner, p. 308; Boyce, Zoroastrianism I, p. 233) takes place, initiated by the revelation of the Good Religion to Zarathushtra and its subsequent dissemination. In three stages, each characterized by the appearance of a Sōšāns, the entire creation draws nearer to frašegird. Completion of the latter will finally be achieved by the victorious Sōšāns (sōšāns ī pērōzgar; Zādspram 35.20), helped by his companions. That the Pahlavi texts are the works of diverse theologians and commentators working on Zarathushtra’s vision and teachings emerges from the fact that there is diversity in details. For example, the number of Sōšān’s collaborators varies: six (Zādspram 35.14. 20; Dādistān ī dēnīg 35), 15 of both righteous men and maidens (Iranian Bundahišn 34.16), or 1000 companions (Dēnkard 7.11.8). He raises the dead in fifty-seven years (Iranian Bundahišn 34.9; Dādistān ī dēnīg 35; Pahlavi Rivayat 48.3; Dēnkard 7.11.4; Zādspram 34.46; Boyce, Zoroastrianism I, p. 291). All raised human beings are judged in the Assembly of Isadvāstar, and receive three days and nights reward or punishment in Paradise (garōdmān) or Hell (dušox) according to their deeds (Iranian Bundahišn 34.10-15; in Pahlavi Rivayat 48.97 the assembly of Isadvāstar takes place after the ordeal of molten metal). As to the ultimate fate of the deceitful ones, Pahlavi texts exhibit divergent views whose interpretation has recently been debated between Shaul Shaked (1994, p. 39) and Mary Boyce (1996, pp. 23-24). According to Pahlavi Rivayat (36.4), the wicked ones are damned for eternity, and the souls of those who yielded to Ahriman and demons are annihilated (Pahlavi Rivayat 32.5; Williams, II, pp. 186 f.). In contrast, other sources relate that the decitful ones are, with much pain, cleansed of their sins and purified in the stream of molten metal, which all human beings have to cross. After having been purified, they, too, become able to praise Ohrmazd and the Amahrspands (Iranian Bundahišn 34.19-20; Pahlavi Rivayat 48.70-72). However, there seems to be a sense of grievance about the righteous and decietful ones being treated alike. Hence, presumably, the increasing of end-of-time affliction on sinners (Pahlavi Rivayat 48.68). Sōšāns and his helpers slay the ox Haδayanš and perform a sacrifice. From the oxen’s fat and the white hōm they prepare the immortal food, which they give to the resurrected mortals to eat and thus render them immortal (Iranian Bundahišn 34.22-23). At the creator’s command, Sōšāns apportions reward and retribution, and the righteous ones are taken into garōdmān (q.v.) to be with Ohrmazd (Iranian Bundahišn 34.25).
In a final battle, the good creatures slay and defeat their dark opponents (Iranian Bundahišn 34.27; Zādspram 35.37-38; in Pahlavi Rivayat 48.73 the battle takes place before the resurrection). The dēws (q.v.) flee powerless across that bridge of the sky by which Ahriman had rushed in (Iranian Bundahišn 34.30). The hollow through which Ahriman had entered is closed with molten metal and the dragon Gōčihr burnt up in it. Moreover, the purified hell also forms part of the universe which is renovated in its entirety (Iranian Bundahišn 34.32). The earth becomes plain and levelled (Iranian Bundahišn 34.33; Pahlavi Rivayat 31.c.7; cf. Lincoln, pp. 136-53), heaven and earth are united and the entire creation will dwell together with Ohrmazd and the Amahraspands in eternal bliss (Pahlavi Rivayat 48.98-102; Sad dar Bundahišn, ed. Dhabhar, epilogue secs. 30-45, pp. 176 f., tr. Gignoux, 1968, pp. 241 f.).
Frašegird is a return to the beginning (Boyce, Zoroastrianism I, p. 292) insofar as Ohrmazd’s perfect creation in mēnōg and gētīg is reinstated as it was before Ahriman’s assault. But there is a difference: after frašegird, time no longer exists and Ahriman is unable to attack ever again, because he has been defeated once and for all. Therefore, frašegird means the utter defeat of and final victory over all evil (Zādspram 1.24; Dādistān ī dēnīg 36.101; Pahlavi Rivayat 31.c7). Like the roof of a house, it is the completion of Ohrmazd’s all-embracing plan (Zādspram 34.21-22), so that the god can rest from his work (Iranian Bundahišn 34.21; cf. Shaked, 1970, p. 227).
H. W. Bailey, “Indo-Iranian Studies I,” TPS 42,1953, pp. 21-42.
Bailey, Zoroastrian Problems, pp. vii-xvi. M. Boyce, “On the Orthodoxy of Sasanian Zoroastrianism,”BSO(A)S 59, 1996, pp. 11-28.
B. N. Dhabhar, ed., Saddar Naṣr and Saddar Bundehesh, Bombay, 1909.
Ph. Gignoux, “L’enfer et le paradis d’après les sources pehlevies,” JA 256, 1968, pp. 219-45.
Ph. Gignoux and A. Taffazzoli, ed. and tr. with comm., Anthologie de Zādspram, Paris, 1993.
A. Hintze, ed. and tr. with comm., Der Zamyād-Yašt, Wiesbaden, 1994.
Idem, “The Rise of the Saviour in the Avesta,” in Ch. Reck and P. Zieme, eds., Iran und Turfan: Werner Sundermann zum 60. Geburtstag gewidmet, Wiesbaden, 1995, pp. 77-97.
H. Humbach, ed. and tr., The Gathas of Zarathshtra and Other Old Avestan Texts, collab. by J. Elfenbein and P. O. Skjærvø, Heidelberg, 2 vols., 1991.
H. F. J. Junker, “Mittelpersisch frašēmurv ‘Pfau’,” Wörter und Sachen 12, 1929, pp. 132-58.
B. Lincoln, “‘The Earth Becomes Flat:’ A Study of Apocalyptic Imagery,” in, Comparative Studies in Society and History 25, 1983, pp. 136-53.
H. Lommel, “Awestische Einzelstudien,” ZII 1, 1922, pp. 16-32.
Idem, Die Religion Zarathustrasnach dem Awesta dargestellt, Tübingen, 1930; repr., Hildesheim and New York, 1971.
G. Messina, “Mito, leggenda e storia nella tradizione iranica,” Orientalia 4, 1935, pp. 257-90.
M. Molé, “Un ascétisme moral dans les livres pehlevis?” RHR 155, 1959, pp. 134-90.
Idem, La légende de Zoroastre selon les textes pehlevis, Paris, 1967.
J. Narten, Der Yasna Haptaŋhāiti, Wiesbaden, 1986.
H. S. Nyberg, Die Religionen des alten Iran, Leipzig, 1938.
Sh. Shaked, “Eschatology and the Goal of the Religious Life in Sasanian Zoroastrianism,” in R. J. Z. Werblowsky and C. J. Bleeker, eds., Types of Redemption, Leiden, 1970, pp. 223-30.
Idem, “The Notion mēnōg and gētīg in the Pahlavi Texts and Their Relation to Eschatology,” Acta Orientalia 33, 1971, pp. 59-107.
Idem, Dualism in Transformation: Varieties of Religion in Sasanian Iran, Lonson, 1994 (Jordan lectures, 1991).
A. V. Williams, ed. and tr. with comm., The Pahlavi Rivāyat Accompanying the Dādestān ī Dēnīg, 2 parts, Copenhagen, 1990.
R. C. Zaehner, The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism, London, 1961.
Originally Published: December 15, 2000
Last Updated: January 31, 2012
This article is available in print.
Vol. X, Fasc. 2, pp. 190-192