Zoroastrianism - Zoroastrianism is the religion of the followers of
Zarathustra or Zoroaster, an ancient Persian prophet who lived some time between
3000 BCE and 600 BCE. Zoroastrians worship Ahura Mazda. Zoroastrianism has about 150,000 believers in India, 60,000 in
Iran, where it is actively suppressed, and perhaps 50,000 in the rest of the
The name "Zoroastrianism" is used only in European countries. It is also called
Zarathustrism, Mazdaism and Parsism, the last name being used by Indian
followers of the religion. The religion may have originated in Afghanistan or
Eastern Iran. Earlier hypotheses and legends about the origin of Zoroastrianism
cannot be confirmed.
Zoroaster saw the universe as the result of a cosmic struggle between
asha “truth” or "good" and druj "lie" or "evil" The main
concept of asha is the basis of all other Zoroastrian doctrine,
including Ahura Mazda, who is asha, and creation, existence and existence,
all of which embody or exemplify asha in some form. The purpose of humanity is
to pursue the increase of asha.
The teachings of Zoroaster and his life and followers are recorded in the Avesta.
There is an older Avesta and a Younger Avesta written in an Avestan language.
The Gathas are hymns attributed to Zoroaster that are a part of the older Avesta.
Nobody knows the precise age of Zoroastrianism. The traditional date of 600 BCE
was assigned by priests of Zoroastrianism in The older Avesta is written in a
language similar to the Sanskrit of the Rigveda, which would give it a date of
about 2000 - 3500 BCE, and making Zoroastrianism one of the oldest religions in
the world.the Alexandrian age, But it is untenable based on the language of the
Zoroastrianism has a theological hierarchy and is not purely monotheistic. This
hierarchy and its theological significance seems to have evolved over time.
Ahura Mazda is the father of two twin spirits, Spenta Mainyu and Angra Mainyu.
The former is the good spirit. In opposition to Ahura Mazda, there is Ahriman,
who is the evil offspring of Angra Mainyu, and the Yazatas. Yazata
simply means "worthy of veneration." It is unclear if the Yazatas are a
part of Ahura Mazda, a manifestation of him or separate beings. They include
the sun, the moon, Haoma, Mithra and the Amesha Spentas. These last are perhaps
something like beneficent archangels, or "divine sparks." There were six Amesha
Spentas and they created the the universe together with the help of their
hamkars or assistants. It is probable that the separation of these various
beings from Ahura Mazda may have occurred over time, as they are more clearly
divine beings in the Younger Avesta. In the older Avesta, Ahura Mazda seems to
have been the name of two fused deities and the names can occur separately or in
Zoroastrianism views time as divided into three periods. In the first,
everything was perfect. In the second, present period, perfection is spoiled by
the actions of evil. In the third and final period, perfect goodness will
Temples of fire are a part of Zoroastrianism, but they were not, evidently, a
part of the original faith of Zoroaster. Fire is not worshipped, but fire and
water are considered to be purification agents.
Many see influences of Zoroastrianism on other religions. Manichean
Christianity borrowed openly and consciously from Zoroastrianism, but concepts
such as good and evil, the embodiment of evil in a "devil" character and free
will are present in both Christianity and Judaism. It is possible however, that
these ideas were re-invented independently.
honor Zoroaster as one of their prophets, along with those of all other major
Somewhat similar to Buddhism, human beings can with the help of Ahura Mazda (Ohrmuzd)
reach a nirvana-like stage of total liberation from the worldly existence. When
all humans reach this stage, the influence of evil would be extinguished
and the divine order would totally rule the world.
November 14, 2008