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Additional resources for The age of the sages : the Axial Age in Asia and the Near East
Next, in the third stage, solid earth came into being, floating on the surface of the water like a flat plate beneath the inverted bowl. Life was added to the physical world during the fourth, fifth, and sixth stages, with the successive emergence of one plant, then one animal (a bull), and finally, a man, named Yima. The seventh stage brought fire, an element that came to pervade the entire world, residing in seen and unseen places. In the final act of creation, the gods assembled to perform the first ritual, a sacrifice.
These gods were invoked to ensure that covenants among individuals and communities were fulfilled.  As the Iranian tradition evolved, Ahura Mazda became the most important god of all, and perhaps for some, the only god; unlike the other ahuras, Mazda played no role at all in the development of the Indian traditions. Finally, there were numerous lesser divinities known as daevas in Avestan and devas in Sanskrit. ” These Avestan and Sanskrit words have obvious cognates in other Indo-European languages.
These Avestan and Sanskrit words have obvious cognates in other Indo-European languages. Deus in Latin, divine in English, and diva in Italian are just three examples. The shiny ones initially represented such qualities as courage, friendship, justice, obedience, and “glory,” a charismatic characteristic that dwelled in gods and heroes. In the later Indo-Aryan tradition, deva and its feminine form devi became terms for the most important class of divinities, although, as we shall see, that was not the case in Irano-Aryan religion.