Each class had its own God(s). The
religious class which combined spirituality, law and administration,
was symbolized by the Mithra/Varuna couple. While Varuna represented the magic, forceful,
terrible, somewhat demonic, aspects of the function, Mithra, the God of contracts, presented a gentler, more reassuring
the God of the warriors, summarized the necessary brutal
Force required to fight demons and save the world. In order
to accomplish its deeds, it ingested the intoxicating Soma (or Hoama). Nastaya,
the God of the farmers, was considerably less colorful
than the others. It mainly represented fecundity, wealth,
peace, and charity.
According to this vedic 
pre-Zoroastrian polytheist religion, for each of these "positive" Gods,
there existed a contrary, "negative", God. The existence of
these contrary powers translated the belief in a radical dualism
based on the co-eternity of the Principles of Light and Darkness.
Since the emergence of the tri-functional
ideology predates the migration and separation of the Aryan
tribes into the various Indo-European peoples, its traces have
been recorded in the history and literature of Iranians, Indians,
Romans, and Celts .
Take for instance the famous inscription
in Perspolis, wherein the Great
King Darius prays Ahura-Mazda to
preserve his empire from the army of the enemy (second
function), bad harvest (third function), and lies (Draugha, a major religious sin for Iranians). Remarkably close
is this extract of the Celtic Senchus Mor (Ancient Laws of Ireland, 1873, IV, p.12): "On three
occasions, the world perishes: When men die of famine, when
the production of wars increases, when verbal contracts dissolve."
the realm of epic poetry, the tale of Fereydoon is
relevant: He had three sons named Salm, Tor,
and Iraj. To Salm, he gave great wealth.
To Tor, he gave courage. To Iraj, who had the Farr (For
a discussion of Farr,
cf. my previous article: "The Earth is an Angel"), he gave
law and religion. Ferdowsiís Shahnameh also refers to Fereydoonís sons,
albeit in a different settings: When exposed to the same
peril (a dragon) each brother reveals, by his attitude,
his nature. Salm runs
away. Tor attacks blindly. Iraj manages
to deflect the peril without fighting, using his intelligence.
The Zoroastrian Reform
Zoroaster appeared in the North-Eastern
corner of the Iranian world between 1000 and 600 years before
J.C. While recognizing the universal struggle between the Principles
of Light and Darkness, Zoroastrianism is clearly a monotheistic
religion. Ahura-Mazda, the unique and transcendent God, appears,
at times, almost as majestic as the Yahweh of Israel. However, he is not the lone
ruler of the universe; he is helped by Six "Archangels" (For
a detailed discussion of the Zoroastrian religion, cf. my previous
article: "The Earth is an Angel").
According to Dumezil ,
the Zoroastrian "reform" of the ancient vedic polytheist religion of Iran
resulted in a predominance of the religious/administrative
function (the priest class): Mithra retained
its status to some extent while Varuna and
the gods of war and orgy/fecundity were demonized and put
in the same category as the original "negative" entities
(called Daeva). At the same time, the deeply rooted tri-functional
ideology was preserved, albeit in a different setting.
Dumezil suggests that the Six Archangels implement the three fundamental functions: Bahman,
the First Archangel, ruler of the animal kingdom and symbol
of Good Thought, and Urdibihisht,
ruler of fire and symbol of Order and Law, represent the sovereign/administrative/religious
function. Shahrivar, ruler
of metals and symbol of Power, represents the martial function.
Murdad, ruler of
the plant kingdom and symbol of Immortality, Khurdad, ruler of the aquatic world
and symbol of Health and Integrity, and Isfandarmuz, the Angel of the Earth
and symbol of Pious Thought, together represent the fecundity/wealth
function. In the new setting, the Bahman/Urdibihist couple
(replacing Mithra/Varuna) is predominant while the fecundity
function represented by the triplet Murdad/Khurdad/Isfandarmuz has
clearly been revaluated in comparison to the martial function
represented by Shahrivar.
The Emergence of the King-Priest
Thus, the Indo-Europeans had, in a
very early stage of their development, intellectually distinguished,
analyzed, and meditated the three fundamental functions. Another
remarkable Indo-European particularity was that the cohesion
of the tri-functional society rested upon the shoulders of
It can be assumed that, originally,
the King materialized a sort of alliance between the three
classes. Later pre-Zoroastrian texts, however,
reveal a gradual prevalence of the first function (Mithra/Varuna) within the Iranian people; probably under the influence of
the neighboring Mesopotamian civilization where the concept
of God-sent ruler had been firmly in place for millennia.
This tendency was naturally further
accentuated by the advent of
Zoroastrianism: The power of governance was conferred
to a King-Priest selected by Ahura-Mazda (holder
of the Royal Farr).
To the point that, under the Sassanid rule,
the prevailing politico-religious regime was almost
completely in conformity with the commonly held notion
of "Eastern Despotism". The complex
interactions of the Zoroastrian concept of King-Priest with
the Islamic faith and the related
notion of Velayat will
be analyzed in a future article.
I Part II Part
 While in India, this later evolved into a rigid system
of casts, in Iran,
the tri-functional concept was more regarded as a model, an
ideal (except, perhaps, during the Sassanid rule
when it was institutionalized).
 The adjective"vedic" refers to
the most ancient Indo-European religious text. For instance,
cf. Mehrdad Bahar (1996): "A
Research in Iranian Mythology" [in Persian].
 Georges Dumezil (1968): "Mythe
et epopee, l'ideologie des
trois fonctions dans les epopees des
peuples indo-europeens" [in French].