He came from a Parsi family that had roots in India and he was a Zoroastrian by faith. Like Freddie Mercury, they worked to integrate into their new surroundings. Yet they also stayed true to the values, beliefs, and practices of their religion, which many scholars say had an influence on Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. He is thought to have composed the Gathas , the hymns that make up a significant portion of the Yasna , which are the liturgical texts of the Zoroastrians. According to the Zoroastrian tradition, Ahura Mazda is the supreme lord and creator; he represents all that is good. The main tenets of the faith center on the opposition between Ahura Mazda and the forces of evil which are embodied by Angra Mainyu, the spirit of destruction, malignancy and chaos.
This evil spirit creates a serpent named Azi Dahaka, a symbol of the underworld, not unlike the Biblical serpents of Judeo-Christian traditions. Truth is represented by light, and Parsis will always turn to a source of light when they pray , with fire, the sun and the moon all symbolizing this spiritual light. In , it was estimated that there were between , and , Zoroastrians living around the world, with 18, residing in the United States.
It describes how the Zoroastrians, fleeing religious persecution from Muslim invasions in their Persian homeland many centuries earlier, head to Gujarat, in western India. However there is never any question about religious faith: They still practice their religion, and Jadi Rana is elated that these newcomers worship as they please. Parsi history has two versions of what took place.
In response, the newcomers stir in a spoonful of sugar and send it back to the king. These are both compelling narratives, though they make slightly different points. One extols the integration of immigrants, while the other highlights the value of different cultures living together but in harmony. Ahura Mazda is described as the highest deity of worship in Zoroastrianism, along with being the first and most frequently invoked deity in the Yasna. Ahura Mazda is the creator and upholder of Asha truth. Ahura Mazda is an omniscient, but not an omnipotent God, however Ahura Mazda would eventually destroy Evil.
In the Achaemenid period, there are no representations of Ahura Mazda other than the custom for every emperor to have an empty chariot drawn by white horses, to invite Ahura Mazda to accompany the Persian army on battles. Images of Ahura Mazda began in the Parthian period, but were stopped and replaced with stone carved figures in the Sassanid period. Zoroaster spoke of duality and ceasing balance at the end of time. He also spoke of a rival to Ahura Mazda, who was similarly uncreated.
This rival was the Evil spirit, Angra Mainyu. Ahura Mazda then set out to establish a spiritual army.
One of his first acts was the creation of the seven Amesha Spentas, who were spirits to monitor and protect each of the seven creations. If both of these entities, or gods, were aliens, the result, as depicted in ancient writings tells the sorry of great battles in the sky by something that resembled space ships and is possibly linked to the creation of the ancient underground city Derinkuyu.
They also describe familial events such as the marriage of his daughter, at which Zoroaster presided.
In the texts of the Younger Avesta composed many centuries after the Gathas , Zoroaster is depicted wrestling with the Daevas and is tempted by Angra Mainyu to renounce his faith Yasht However, this text has been lost over the centuries, and it survives only as a summary in the seventh book of the 9th century Denkard. Other 9th- to 12th-century stories of Zoroaster, as in the Shahnameh , are also assumed to be based on earlier texts, but must be considered as primarily a collection of legends.
The historical Zoroaster, however, eludes categorization as a legendary character.
Zoroaster was born into the priestly family of the Spitamids and his ancestor Spitama is mentioned several times in the Gathas. His wife, children and a cousin named Maidhyoimangha, were his first converts after his illumination from Ahura Mazda at age In these metrical preachings Zoroaster appears as a human and plausible figure, devoid of many of the mythical and legendary details found in later literature. According to the Gathas, Zarathushtra as Zoroaster is called in the Avesta , son of Pourushaspa and from the house of Spitama, is a preacher inspired by and in communion with his Lord, Ahura Mazda.
He is distressed at the spread of wickedness and the neglect of truth. He tries to awaken his people to the importance of righteousness and warns them against following false leaders practicing animal sacrifice, mistreating the cattle, and permitting the drinking of Homa an intoxicating drink in the ritual. His exhortations, however, are not heeded. He puts his trust in his Lord, with whom he holds a number of discourses. He seeks the active help and guidance of Ahura Mazda and eventually succeeds in converting King Vishtaspa, who then accords him protection and support.
In these sources he is presented as a native of Media in western Iran.
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Thus, Zoroastrian ethics , though in itself lofty and rational, has a ritual aspect that is all-pervading. On the whole, Zoroastrianism is optimistic and has remained so even through the hardship and oppression of its believers. The religion of Iran before the time of Zarathustra is not directly accessible, for there are no reliable sources more ancient than those composed by or attributed to the prophet himself. It has to be studied indirectly on the basis of later documents and by a comparative approach. The language of Iran is closely akin to that of northern India, and, hence, the people of the two lands probably had common ancestors who spoke a common Indo-Aryan language.
The religion of those peoples has been reconstructed by means of common elements contained in the sacred books of Iran and India , mainly the Avesta and the Vedas. Both collections exhibit the same kind of polytheism with many of the same gods, notably the Indian Mitra the Iranian Mithra , the cult of fire, sacrifice by means of a sacred liquor soma in India, in Iran haoma , and other parallels. There is, moreover, a list of Indo-Iranian gods in a treaty concluded about bce between the Hittite emperor and the king of Mitanni.
Important changes, then, must have taken place on the Iranian side, not all of which can be attributed to the prophet. In Iran the evolution must have been different: the ahura s were extolled to the exclusion of the daeva s, who were reduced to the rank of demons. Not a single place or person mentioned in them is known from any other source.
General Essay on Zoroastrianism
All that may safely be said is that Zarathustra lived somewhere in eastern Iran, far from the civilized world of western Asia, before Iran became unified under Cyrus II the Great. Religion under the Achaemenids was in the hands of the Magi , whom the Greek historian Herodotus describes as a Median tribe with special customs, such as exposing the dead, fighting evil animals, and interpreting dreams. Again, the historical connection with Zarathustra—whom Herodotus also ignores—is a hazy one. Darius , when he seized power in , had to fight a usurper, Gaumata the Magian , who pretended to be Bardiya , the son of Cyrus the Great and brother of the king Cambyses.
One possible explanation of these events is that Gaumata had adopted Zoroastrianism, a doctrine that relied on the allegiance of the common people, and therefore destroyed temples or altars to deities of the nobility. Darius, who owed his throne to the support of some noblemen, could not help favouring their cult, though he adopted Auramazda as a means of unifying his empire.
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- Ancient religions clash in modern Iran.