Imra (Kamkata-vari: Imro) was the chief creator deity of the Nuristani people before their conversion to Islam.[1] Imra was believed to be the creator of the earth. With his breath, it was believed, he created the three other main deities of the pantheon: Mon, Gish and Bagisht.[2]

EtymologyEdit

The name of the deity is considered a reflex of Indo-Iranian Yama. The name Imro or Yum in Kamkata-vari is thought to derive from a borrowing of Sanskrit Yama-rāja "King Yama" via a Middle Indo-Aryan form *Yam(a)rāy(a) with the characteristic northwestern sound change of j to y.[3][4][5] It is likely a cognate of the Bangani title Jim Raza 'god of the dead'.[6] He is also known as Mara "Killer, Death", a term derived from the Prasun language.[7][8]

Cognates of Kamkata-vari imro are found in other neighboring languages: Waigali yamrai,[9] Kalash (Urtsun) imbro,[10] Ashkun imra and Prasun yumr'a - all referring to a "creator god".[11][12]

Role in religionEdit

This deity also acts as the guardian to the gates of hell (located in a subterranean realm), preventing the return to the world of the living - a motif that echoes the role of Yama as the king of the underworld.[13]

Popular cultureEdit

In John Updike's 1965 short story "God Speaks" (collected in "Museums and Women") Gish Imra is the name of one of the protagonists, the son of the assassinated leader of a Central Asian state called Nuristan.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Klimburg, Max. "The Arts and Culture of Parun, Kafiristan's «Sacred Valley»". In: Arts asiatiques, tome 57, 2002. pp. 51-68. [DOI: https://doi.org/10.3406/arasi.2002.1480]; www.persee.fr/doc/arasi_0004-3958_2002_num_57_1_1480
  2. ^ Lurker, Manfred. The Routledge Dictionary Of Gods Goddesses Devils And Demons. Routledge. 2004. p. 87. ISBN 978-04-15340-18-2
  3. ^ Allen, Nicholas Justin. "Some gods of Pre-Islamic Nuristan". In: Revue de l'histoire des religions, tome 208, n°2, 1991. Histoire des religions et comparatisme: la question indo-européenne. pp. 141-168. [DOI: https://doi.org/10.3406/rhr.1991.1679]; www.persee.fr/doc/rhr_0035-1423_1991_num_208_2_1679
  4. ^ Cacopardo, A.S. (2016). "A World In-between. The Pre-Islamic Cultures of the Hindu Kush". In: Pellò, S.(ed.). Borders. Itineraries on the Edges of Iran. Venezia, Eurasiatica Quaderni di studi su Balcani, Anatolia, Iran, Caucaso e Asia Centrale. Edizioni Ca' Foscari. p. 250. ISBN 978-88-6969-100-3 [DOI: 10.14277/6969-100-3/EUR-5-10]
  5. ^ Halfmann, Jakob. "Nuristani Theonyms in Light of Historical Phonology". In: 6th Indo-European Research Colloquium, 2022. [DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.31805.54244]; www.researchgate.net/publication/359109254_Nuristani_Theonyms_in_Light_of_Historical_Phonology
  6. ^ Zoller, Claus Peter. "Review Article: “Pagan Christmas: Winter feast of the Kalasha of the Hindu Kush” and the true frontiers of ‘Greater Peristan’.". In: Acta Orientalia 2018, n. 79. 2018. pp. 217 and 232 (footnote nr. 174). ISSN 0001-6438
  7. ^ Parpola, Asko. The Roots of Hinduism: The Early Aryans and the Indus Civilization. Oxford University Press. 2015. pp. 143 and 264. ISBN 978-0-19-022690-9
  8. ^ Cacopardo, A.S. (2016). "A World In-between. The Pre-Islamic Cultures of the Hindu Kush". In: Pellò, S.(ed.). Borders. Itineraries on the Edges of Iran. Venezia, Eurasiatica Quaderni di studi su Balcani, Anatolia, Iran, Caucaso e Asia Centrale. Edizioni Ca' Foscari. pp. 251 and 253. ISBN 978-88-6969-100-3 [DOI: 10.14277/6969-100-3/EUR-5-10]
  9. ^ Klimburg, Max. "The Arts and Culture of Parun, Kafiristan's «Sacred Valley»". In: Arts asiatiques, tome 57, 2002. pp. 51-68. [DOI: https://doi.org/10.3406/arasi.2002.1480]; www.persee.fr/doc/arasi_0004-3958_2002_num_57_1_1480
  10. ^ Parkes, Peter. "Temple of Imra, Temple of Mahandeu: A Kafir Sanctuary in Kalasha Cosmology". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. University of London 54, no. 1 (1991): 85. http://www.jstor.org/stable/617315.
  11. ^ Zoller, Claus Peter. "Review Article: “Pagan Christmas: Winter feast of the Kalasha of the Hindu Kush” and the true frontiers of ‘Greater Peristan’.". In: Acta Orientalia 2018, n. 79. 2018. p. 232 (footnote nr. 174). ISSN 0001-6438
  12. ^ Minahan, James B. (10 February 2014). Ethnic Groups of North, East, and Central Asia: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 205. ISBN 9781610690188. Retrieved 7 January 2021. Living in the high mountain valleys, the Nuristani retained their ancient culture and their religion, a form of ancient Hinduism with many customs and rituals developed locally. Certain deities were revered only by one tribe or community, but one deity was universally worshipped by all Nuristani as the Creator, the Hindu god Yama Raja, called imr'o or imra by the Nuristani tribes.
  13. ^ Boyce, Mary. "The Pre-ZoroastrianReligion of the Medes and the Persians". In: A History of Zoroastrianism, Zoroastrianism under the Achaemenians. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1982. pp. 18-19. doi: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004293908_003