Aeshma

Aeshma

Overview
Aeshma is the Younger Avestan
Avestan language
Avestan is an East Iranian language known only from its use as the language of Zoroastrian scripture, i.e. the Avesta, from which it derives its name...

 name of Zoroastrianism's
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

 demon of "wrath." As a hypostatic entity, Aeshma is variously interpreted as "wrath," "rage," and "fury." His standard epithet is "of the bloody mace."

Tri-syllabic aeshma is already attested in Gathic Avestan as aeshema (aēšəma), though not yet - at that early stage - as an entity. The word has an Indo-Iranian root. In the Zoroastrian texts of the 9th-12th centuries, aeshma appears as Middle Persian
Middle Persian
Middle Persian , indigenously known as "Pârsig" sometimes referred to as Pahlavi or Pehlevi, is the Middle Iranian language/ethnolect of Southwestern Iran that during Sassanid times became a prestige dialect and so came to be spoken in other regions as well. Middle Persian is classified as a...

 eshm or kheshm, continuing in Pazend and New Persian as kashm.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Aeshma'
Start a new discussion about 'Aeshma'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Aeshma is the Younger Avestan
Avestan language
Avestan is an East Iranian language known only from its use as the language of Zoroastrian scripture, i.e. the Avesta, from which it derives its name...

 name of Zoroastrianism's
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

 demon of "wrath." As a hypostatic entity, Aeshma is variously interpreted as "wrath," "rage," and "fury." His standard epithet is "of the bloody mace."

Tri-syllabic aeshma is already attested in Gathic Avestan as aeshema (aēšəma), though not yet - at that early stage - as an entity. The word has an Indo-Iranian root. In the Zoroastrian texts of the 9th-12th centuries, aeshma appears as Middle Persian
Middle Persian
Middle Persian , indigenously known as "Pârsig" sometimes referred to as Pahlavi or Pehlevi, is the Middle Iranian language/ethnolect of Southwestern Iran that during Sassanid times became a prestige dialect and so came to be spoken in other regions as well. Middle Persian is classified as a...

 eshm or kheshm, continuing in Pazend and New Persian as kashm. Judaism's Asmodai
Asmodai
Asmodeus or Asmodai is a king of demons mostly known from the deuterocanonical Book of Tobit, in which he is the primary antagonist. The demon is also mentioned in some Talmudic legends, for instance, in the story of the construction of the Temple of Solomon. He was supposed by some Renaissance...

 (Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

ic ʼšmdʼy, Book of Tobit
Book of Tobit
The Book of Tobit is a book of scripture that is part of the Catholic and Orthodox biblical canon, pronounced canonical by the Council of Carthage of 397 and confirmed for Roman Catholics by the Council of Trent...

 asmodios) derives from Avestan aeshma.daeva
Daeva
Daeva in Avestan language meaning "a being of shining light", is a term for a particular sort of supernatural entity with disagreeable characteristics. Equivalents in Iranian languages include Pashto dêw , Baluchi dêw , Persian dīv , Kurdish dêw...

.

In scripture


In the hierarchy of Zoroastrian demons (daevas) that mirrors a similar hierarchy of divinities, Aeshma is opposed to Asha Vahishta
Asha
Asha is the Avestan language term for a concept of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. In the moral sphere, aša/arta represents what has been called "the decisive confessional concept of Zoroastrianism." ...

, the Amesha Spenta
Amesha Spenta
' is an Avestan language term for a class of divine entities in Zoroastrianism, and literally means "Bounteous Immortal" The noun is amesha "immortal", and spenta "furthering, strengthening, bounteous, holy" is an adjective of it...

 that is the hypostasis of "Truth." This opposition also reflects Aeshma's position as messenger of Angra Mainyu
Angra Mainyu
Angra Mainyu is the Avestan-language name of Zoroastrianism's hypostasis of the "destructive spirit". The Middle Persian equivalent is Ahriman.-In Zoroaster's revelation:...

 (Yasht
Yasht
The s are a collection of twenty-one hymns in Younger Avestan. Each of these hymns invokes a specific Zoroastrian divinity or concept. Yasht chapter and verse pointers are traditionally abbreviated as Yt....

 19.46), for in the hierarchy of divinities, Asha is the messenger of Spenta Mainyu, the instrument through which Ahura Mazda's realized ("created by His thought") creation.

The demon's chief adversary however is Sraosha
Sraosha
Sraosha is the Avestan language name of the Zoroastrian divinity of "Obedience" or "Observance", which is also the literal meaning of her name....

 "Obedience", the principle of religious devotion and discipline. The opposition between religious obedience and distraction from it is also expressed in the Yasna 10.8's portrayal of Aeshma as the metaphysical endangerment of the Good Religion. Aeshma distracts from proper worship, distorting "the intention and meaning of sacrifice through brutality against cattle and violence in war and drunkenness." (Yasna 10.8, Yasht 17.5)

According to Yasht 11.15, Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazdā is the Avestan name for a divinity of the Old Iranian religion who was proclaimed the uncreated God by Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism...

 created Sraosha to counter the demon's mischief, and in Yasna 57.25, Sraosha protects the faithful from the fiend's assault. At the renovation of the world, Sraosha overthrow Aeshma, who will flee before the saoshyant
Saoshyant
Saoshyant is a figure of Zoroastrian eschatology who brings about the final renovation of the world, the Frashokereti. The Avestan language name literally means "one who brings benefit," and is also used as common noun.-In scripture:...

 (Yasht 19.95), but in the present the fiend flees before Mithra
Mithra
Mithra is the Zoroastrian divinity of covenant and oath. In addition to being the divinity of contracts, Mithra is also a judicial figure, an all-seeing protector of Truth, and the guardian of cattle, the harvest and of The Waters....

 (Yasna 57.10; Yasht 10.97).

The demon's opposition to Sraosha is also reflected in their respective standard epithets. While Aeshma's is xrvi.dru- "of the bloody mace" (e.g. Yasna 10.8, Yasht 11.15), Sraosha's is darshi.dru- "of the strong (Ahuric
Ahura
Ahura is an Avestan language designation for a particular class of Zoroastrian divinities.-Etymology:Avestan ahura derives from Indo-Iranian *asura, also attested in an Indian context as RigVedic asura...

) mace." Aeshma's other epithet's include "ill-fated" (Yasht 10.95) "malignant" (Yasna
Yasna
Yasna is the name of the primary liturgical collection of texts of the Avesta as well as the name of the principal Zoroastrian act of worship at which those verses are recited. The Yasna, or Izeshne, is primarily the name of the ceremony in which the entire book is recited and appropriate...

 57.25, Yasht 10.97), "possessing falsehood" (drvant-, Yasht 10.93). In Yasht 19.97, the demon has the epithet "having his body forfeited," but what is meant by this is uncertain.

Aeshma can be driven away by the recitation of a prayer (Vendidad
Vendidad
The Vendidad or Videvdat is a collection of texts within the greater compendium of the Avesta. However, unlike the other texts of the Avesta, the Vendidad is an ecclesiastical code, not a liturgical manual.-Name:...

 11.9).

In tradition and folklore


In the Zoroastrian texts of the 9th-12th centuries, the function of battling Aeshma is also ascribed to Mithra (Zand i Wahman Yasn 7.34), and Denkard 3.116 places him in opposition to Vohu Manah
Vohu Manah
Vohu Manah is the Avestan language term for a Zoroastrian concept, generally translated as "Good Purpose" or "Good Mind", referring to the good moral state of mind that enables an individual to accomplish his duties...

. The demon is made commander by Angra Mainyu (Zatspram 34.32) and although he is closely related to Az, the demon of "avarice", Az will eventually swallow him up. The opposition to Sraosha is continued into the later tradition.

In the even later Rivayats (epistles), a Yasna ceremony that is not properly executed is said to have been done as if the ceremony were for Aeshma.

In the Testament of Solomon
Testament of Solomon
The Testament of Solomon is an Old Testament pseudepigraphical work, the authorship of which is ascribed to King Solomon. It describes how Solomon was enabled to build the Temple by commanding demons by means of a magical ring entrusted to him by the Archangel Michael.- History :Despite the text's...

, Asmodeus says to represent in the sky the constellation of the Big Bear.

Aeshma is the source of the Georgian
Georgian language
Georgian is the native language of the Georgians and the official language of Georgia, a country in the Caucasus.Georgian is the primary language of about 4 million people in Georgia itself, and of another 500,000 abroad...

 name of devil
Devil
The Devil is believed in many religions and cultures to be a powerful, supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of God and humankind. The nature of the role varies greatly...

— eshmaki (ეშმაკი).