Saoshyant - Zoroastrian Prophecy

Saoshyant is a figure of Zoroastrian eschatology who brings about the final renovation of the world.

The Avestan language name literally means "One Who Brings Benefit," and is also used as common noun.

In Scripture

In the Gathas, the most sacred hymns of Zoroastrianism and believed to have been composed by Zoroaster himself, the term is used to refer to the prophet's own mission and to his community of followers, who "bring benefit" to humanity. 'Saoshyant' may have been a term originally applied to Zoroaster himself (e.g. Yasna 46.3)

'Saoshyant' appears as a proper name in the Younger Avesta, explicitly so in Yasht 13.129 where it is used in the singular and where 'Astvat-ereta' is also invoked as an alternate name of 'Saoshyant'. The singular also appears in Yasna 59.1 where Verethragna is said to be Saoshyant's weapon in overcoming resistance. A plural form appears for instance in Yasht 17.1 where Ashi -- the divinity of "recompense" -- is described to give the Saoshyants the power of "making wonderful".

In Tradition

Already alluded to in scripture (e.g. Yasht 19.92), but only properly developed in the 9th-12th century texts of Zoroastrian tradition is the role of the Saoshyant during the final renovation. In these Middle Persian texts, the name is rendered as Soshans.

Zoroastrian tradition envisions three future saviours, one for the end of each 1,000-year period that comprise the last 3,000 years of the world. All three will be born of maidens, conceived while their mothers bathed in a lake that miraculously preserved the seed of the prophet Zoroaster himself. The first will be named Hushedar, the second Hushedarmah, and the third will be Saoshyant, who will lead humanity in the final battle against falsehood.

The story of the Saoshyant's conception and early life are described in Denkard 7.10.15ff as follows: Thirty years before the decisive final battle, a maiden named Eredat-fedhri ("Victorious Helper") and whose nickname is "Body-maker" will enter a lake (in Yasht 19.92, this is "Lake Kansava"). Sitting in the water, the girl, who has "not associated with men" will receive "victorious knowledge." Her son, when born, will not know nourishment from his mother, his body will be sun-like, and the "royal glory" of Khwarenah will be with him. Then, for the next 57 years he will subsist on only vegetables (17 years), then only water (30 years) and for then for the final 10 years only on "spiritual food."

The events of the final renovation are described in the Bundahishn (30.1ff): In the final battle with evil, the yazatas Airyaman and Atar will "melt the metal in the hills and mountains, and it will be upon the earth like a river" (Bundahishn 34.18), but the righteous (ashavan) will not be harmed.

Eventually, Ahura Mazda will triumph, and his agent Saoshyant will resurrect the dead, whose bodies will be restored to eternal perfection, and whose souls will be cleansed and reunited with God. Time will then end, and truth/righteousness (asha) and immortality will thereafter be everlasting.

In common usage

Saoshyant refers to a future savior or Messiah-figure, who will spread divine truth and lead humanity in the final battle against the forces of evil. In Zoroaster's own writings, the Gathas, the term is used to refer to his own prophetic mission and to the community of his followers, who 'bring benefit' to humanity. In later Zoroastrian doctrine it is envisaged that there will be three future Saoshyants, who will restore order when the world has fallen into chaos. These will be born of virgins from the miraculously preserved seed of the prophet Zoroaster himself.

The last Saoshyant will bring about the final judgement of humanity and will secure the harmony of the world. Since He is (the One) to be chosen by the world therefore the judgment emanating from truth itself (to be passed) on the deeds of good thought of the world, as well as the power, is committed to Mazda Ahura whom (people) assign as a shepherd to the poor." --Yasna 27:13, the Ahuna Vairya prayer

It is speculated that Zoroastrian belief in a Saoshyant influenced the Jewish belief in a Messiah.


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