As already pointed out, the most ancient and principal national deity of the Armenian people was the deity of the sun and fire. As time progressed, however, this great deity was divided in two, just as it had occurred in the case of his consort, the goddess Inanna-Anahit. His nature of fire and his nature of the sun began to be represented separately and by different names. Thus, in Urartian times, his character of fire was represented by the name Haldi, and that of the sun by the name Siwini.
In Armenia, after the fall of the Urartian dynasty, the name Mihr was given to this one great deity that embodied the powers of fire and the sun. Says Academician B. Arakelian: “The cult of Mihr spread out west from the Iranian circles and encompassed the borders of the Roman Empire. In Armenia he was considered…the god of fire and the Sun.”
While utilizing the name Mihr for this great god, the Armenians have, nonetheless, pictured him, as in Urartian times, with a duality of nature, distinguishing between his characteristics of fire and the sun. This is why, in the epic of David of Sasun, the god of fire is called Great Mher, whereas the sun-god is Mher Junior. This shows that among Armenians the fire-god was considered ancestral or had seniority and preeminence over the sun-god, just as Hyek, the fire-god, was ancestral to and greater than Ara, the sun-god. Similarly, in Urartian times, the fire-god Haldi was considered greater and more important than the sun-god Siwini.
We think that much before the Achaemenians, in the times of Mitani, the name Mihr was already known to the people, particularly to those living in the regions of Mitani or Armani-Subari (and later Arme-Subria) where Sasun is located, in the form of Mitra (or perhaps even as Mher). Otherwise, it would not have been so readily accepted by the people during the Achaemenian period or later.
That Great Mher represented Haldi is evidenced by the fact that he was called ‘the lion-like Mher’, reminding us of Haldi’s representations in Urartian wall paintings where he is pictured on a lion. Furthermore, Mher’s wife was called Armahan, a name which appears to be a distortion of Aruban(i), the name of Haldi’s wife.
It is known that the crow was a symbol of the sun and fire; “its feathers were black because they were charred by it”. Mher Junior had inherited Great Mher’s position; consequently, he had held, in his turn, the position of the great Urartian gods or preserved in him their memory. “According to a tradition, Mher, disillusioned with all the injustice in the world, had cloistered himself in a cave called Agravak’ar (Crow’s Stone) in Van.”
We already know that on a cliff called Mheri Dur (Mher’s Gate’) in Van, there is a large inscription written by Ishpuini and Menua, which lists the names of all the Urartian gods. All these show that at a time when it was even forgotten that these inscriptions represented actual writings, the Armenian tradition has preserved in Mher (particularly in the term Agriavak’ar) the memory of the great Urartian gods.
According to a legend, every year, at the feast of Ascention and the night of Vartavar (a water festival), when heaven and earth kiss each other, Mher comes out (from his cave) with a horse of fire, circles the heaven and the earth, and seeing that ‘the earth cannot yet support his weight’ returns to his seclusion. One day in the future, Mher shall come out from his hiding place to deliver ‘Armenian world’ from wicked forces and to establish a happy kingdom.
In the epic of David of Sasun, after the death of the king of Mser, his young and beautiful widow Ismil Khatun sends word to Great Mher in Sasun, bidding him to come and marry her and posses the land of Mser, even though Mher already has his own wife Armaghan.
This legend reminds us of a similar episode in the epic of Ara and Shamiram, where Shamiram, likewise, after the death of her husband Ninos, sends a herald to Ara in Armenia, inviting him to become her husband and to rule over Ninevah and the entire kingdom, even though Ara, too, has his own wife Nuard.
Thus, we see striking similarities not only between the two stories where Ismil Khatun and Shamiram, each in her turn, feel a passion for and make propositions to Mher and Ara, respectively, but also between the very names Ismil and Shamir(am) and also between the mane of Mher’s wife Armaghan and that of Haldi’s wife Aruban(i). In the section on Astuas, w had arrived at the Ara=Ardi=Aldi (Haldi) equation; now we can add another one to it: the Mher=Haldi mythological connection.
Source:"Armenia,Summer and Subartu" by Prof.,Dr.Martiros Kavukjian
Edited by Ashot, 28 February 2008 - 11:54 PM.