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Zoroastrian Fire Symbol

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The Gathic role of atar as the medium for detecting guilt is not directly evident in the later texts of the Avesta, but reappears in modified form as an allegory of burning and annihilating the Angra Mainyu through righteousness, "where Asha Vahishta is identified at times with the household fire on the hearth. " There, "identification in the realms of matter and of spirit serves only to bring more into prominence the main tenets of Zoroaster's teachings in regard to Asha" (Dhalla, 1938:170). A vestige of the ancient institution of ordeal by heat is nonetheless present in Vendidad 4. 54–55, where speaking against the truth and violating the sanctity of promise is punishable by flogging and is detected by the consumption of "water, blazing, of golden color, having the power to detect guilt. " The Zend translation/commentary on this passage translates "blazing" as having brimstone and sulphur, and notes that innocence or guilt was established by the consumption of this "guilt-detecting liquid". Similarly, in the Denkard, Adharbad Maraspand—the Sassanid era high-priest to whom the collation of the Avesta texts is attributed—is purported to have nine measures of "unburning molten zinc" applied to his chest as proof of accuracy of the sacred texts.



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