Zurvan: the concept of time in Zoroastrianism and its impact on religion and philosophy

Katerina Gololobova


The concept of time is an integral part of any religious and philosophical system. It creates a universal cognitive strategy: seeing the world in its change and development, finding temporary relationships and order in everything. In Iranian mythology, where the cult of time was highly developed, time was personified by the higher deity Zurvan, who initially was imagined as an endless time, eternity (Zurvan Akaran), existing at the beginning of the universe, and then, in the latter part of the "Avesta" takes an image of the final, natural, world time (Zurvan Darhahvadata), who forecasts not only its beginning, but the end, death.

Zurvan Akarana in Zoroastrianism - is unlimited Time or Eternity; one of the two primary forces that are mentioned in "Avesta" and "Yasna". Zurvan - is the Сreator who did not make a creation. He is only the foundation, the idea that gives impulse, like an explosion. It is similar to the concept of "dharma" in the Indian tradition, the "Logos" of Heraclites, the law by which the universe exists.

Helps to the time, the main essence of space is the duration, the matter has the opportunity to come into effect. Late Avesta makes a distinction between endless time and time, which has a long duration, but finite. Later theologians interpreted endless time as eternity of being, and a long time was regarded as the duration of the world, which was created and will have an end.

These ideas can be correlated with ideas that later we can find in Christianity, that person has a freedom of choice, and even later - in Islam, that person's fate is determined in advance. But Zoroastrianism is talking about the same thing, the fate of this material world in which evil is present is determined in advance, but in the world of Ahura Mazda person has the right to choose and there will get whatever deserves.

The unconditional departure from mythological beliefs is also the idea of the linearity of time that we meet in Zoroastrianism and which later gets its continuation in Christianity. But in Zoroastrianism time is endless, and therefore is reversible and linear, and therefore simultaneously is irreversible.


Zoroastrianism; Zurvan; Zurvan Akarana; Time; ontology; Linear Time; Cyclic Time


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