AKŌMAN, “Evil Mind,” a term personified as a demon in Zoroastrianism. It is apparently not yet wholly personified in the Gāthās. In two of its four occurrences there the term applies to human attitudes: drəgvå . . . ahyā šyaothanāiš akāṱ ā šyas manaŋhō, “since the deceitful man lives by his actions, stemming from evil mind” (Y. 47.5); and: yə θwat mazdā asruštīm aḳəmčā manō yazāi apā, “I [Zarathuštra] who, through worship, shall turn away disobedience and evil mind from Thee [Ahura Mazdā]” (Y. 33.4). Akəm manō is thus put on a level with disobedience. In the other two passages, the term appears in connection with the daēvas: hyaṱ vərənātā ačištəm manō, “since they chose the worst mind” (Y. 30.6, with the term put in the superlative); aṱ yūš daēvā vīspåŋhō akāṱ manaŋhō stā ciθrəm, “but, ye gods, all of you are the offspring stemming from evil mind” (Y. 32.3). Here obviously the term is well on its way to personification. The process is seen completed in the Younger Avesta. In Yasht 19.46 Akəm Manō is an auxiliary of Angra Mainyu, who throws him (together with Aēšma, Ażi Dahāka, and Spityura) into battle against Vohu Manō (with Aša Vahišta, and Ātar) for the possession of Xᵛarənah.
In Vendidad 19.4 Zarathuštra, in the course of his own battle against Angra Mainyu, is asked ninety-nine cruel, invidious questions by Akəm Manō. (A similar episode, recalling Oedipus and the Sphinux, occurs in Yasht 5.81 between Yoišta Fryananam and the sorcerer Axtya.) Zarathuštra is not overcome. In the final battle (Yt. 19.96), Akəm Manō will be vanquished by Vohu Manō.
In Pahlavi sources Akōman comes from darkness and is among the first (along with Mithōxt, Varan, the Foul Spirit, Indra, etc.) to be created by Ahriman. His special collaborator is Anaštīh “non-peace.” Varan “concupiscence” is his friend. His special function is to give vile thoughts and discord to creatures. He is sent by Ahriman to poison Zarathuštra’s thoughts, but Vohuman prevents this and chases Akōman away, which causes Zarathuštra to smile. Sorrow is the sign of Akōman as joy is that of Vohuman. In the final battle, Akōman will be conquered by Vohuman.
See also Akvān-e Dīv.
S. Insler, The Gāthās of Zarathustra, Acta Iranica 8, Tehran and Leipzig, 1975.
Gray, Foundations, pp. 180f.
Wörterbuch der Mythologie, Stuttgart, 1968, I, p. 254.
Originally Published: December 15, 1984
Last Updated: July 29, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 7, pp. 728-729
J. Duchesne-Guillemin, “AKŌMAN,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/7, pp. 728-729; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/akoman-evil-mind-a-term-personified-as-a-demon-in-zoroastrianism (accessed on 13 May 2014).