Mher – The Son of Aramazd – Armenian mythology

Mher - The Son of AramazdIn the Armenian mythology, Mihr – Mher – Mitra is the god of the heavenly light and sun, the son of Aramazd. In Ancient Armenia, there were several temples dedicated to Mher: a temple in Bagharij (now in Turkey), the altar “Mheri dur” (Armenian: “the door of Mher“) in the mountains near the city of Van, and, apparently, the temple of Garni.

The traces of veneration of Mher were found in the ancient Armenian calendar. In particular, the names of the eighth day of each month, Mihr, and of the seventh month, Mehekan (corresponds with February), derived from his name. More than 150 Armenian toponyms also derived from his name.

The modified character of Mher was included into the Armenian national epic “Sasna Tsrer” (“Daredevils of Sasun”) where there are two Mhers – Mher Senior (grandfather) and Mher Junior (grandson).

Mher Junior, the son of David and Handut-Hatun, spends his life in wanderings in the constant struggle against injustice and evil forces. He defeated the devil Kup, an old woman-ogre, along with foreign invaders who threatened Sasun. Mher also saved the city of Jezira from flooding, throwing a rock into the river to block it and divide it into two streams.

Mher once met David who was returning to Sasun. Not knowing that David was his father, Mher clashed with him and took over. In one of the epic’s retellings, archangel Gabriel put a stop to the fight between the father and the son.

Mher was unable to wipe out the injustice from the face of the earth. The lying land rendered him and his horse Kurkik Jalali unable to fight further. Mher thereby decided to visit the graves of his parents for advice.

There, he heard their voices suggesting him to hide in a rock and wait for the world to become better. He was guided to the rock by a raven. For this reason, the rock is called the “Crow’s Rock” (“Agrava Kar”).

From the impact of Mher’s sword, the rock opened and accepted him along with his horse. According to the Armenian tradition, Mher comes out of the rock twice a year to check whether the world has changed or not. Making sure that it has not, Mher returns into the rock.

It is believed that one shepherd once met Mher during one of his exits. Mher told him that he would leave the rock when the old world is destroyed and a new fair world is created, when the wheat grain is larger than the nut, and the barley is larger than the dogrose.

According to other retellings of the legend, an eternal candle burns and a wheel of fate rotates endlessly in Mher’s rock. When the wheel stops, Mher will come out of the rock and destroy the unfair world.

Mher’s image was also described by the Armenian writer Avetik Isahakian in the poem “Mher from Sasun” (1919).

“Crow’s Rock” (“Agrava Kar”).

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