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Who are the Zoroastrians?
Zoroastrian Studies ^ | 7/29/03 | Zoroastrian Studies

Posted on 07/29/2003 11:17:26 PM PDT by freedom44

Zoroastrians are the followers of the great Iranian prophet, Spitaman Zarathushtra (known to the Greeks as Zoroaster). Zarathushtra lived and preached somewhere around the Aral Sea, about three and a half thousand years ago, circa 1500 B.C.E.

The Background
Iran, at the time of Zarathushtra's birth, was a land where many pagan gods and goddesses were being propitiated through ignorance and fear. The prophet Zarathushtra, in his sublime hymns, the Gathas, revealed to mankind that there was the One, Supreme, All-Knowing, Eternal God of the good creations---Ahura Mazda, the Lord of Wisdom, who was wholly Wise, Good and Just. Ahura Mazda, he taught, was a friend to all and never to be feared by man, who in turn should worship Him. Locked in open conflict he proclaimed, were the two primordial spirits---Spenta Mainyu, the Holy Spirit of Ahura Mazda and His diabolical adversary, Anghra Mainyu, the Hostile Spirit.

The Zoroastrian Doctrine

According to the Zoroastrian texts, Ahura Mazda (Ph. Ohrmazd), through His Omniscience knew of His Own Goodness and His Infinite Self, as well as He was aware of the Hostile Spirit's limited strength and finite existence. In order to destroy His adversary, Ahura Mazda created an immaculate material world of the seven creations to trap the Hostile Spirit. Ahura Mazda knew that Anghra Mainyu, because of his inherently destructive nature and ignorance, would attack the material world bringing within it disorder, falsehood, wickedness, sorrow, cruelty, disease, suffering and death. Man, Ahura Mazda's finest creation, is believed to be the central figure in this cosmic struggle. The prophet declared that it is during this period of conflict that man, through free will, should choose to fight and vanquish the Hostile Spirit using the ethical paradigm of Goodness, the Good Mind, Truth, Power, Devotion, Perfection and Immortality. These seven qualities collectively came to be known as the Amesha Spentas---"Bounteous Immortals". It is the responsibility of man to imbibe the virtues of these divinities in order to know how to generate the right thoughts, words and actions. Zarathushtra recognised that the use of these principles of righteous living, would enable man to bring about the eventual annihilation of evil in this world.

Man

Man's unique spiritual quest, according to Zoroastrianism, is linked to the preservation and promotion of the Wise Lord's seven creations, namely the sky, waters, earth, plants, cattle, man and fire. The last creation, fire, is a potent reality in Zarathushtra's revelation, as the prophet saw fire to be the physical representation of Asha (Order/Truth/ Righteousness), and as a source of light, warmth and life for his people. All the religious rituals (the performance of which is an important Zoroastrian duty), are solemnized in the presence of fire, the life-energy which permeates and makes dynamic the Wise Lord's other six creations.

Living a Zoroastrian Life

Zarathushtra taught that since this world created by Ahura Mazda is essentially good, man should live well and enjoy its bountiful gifts though always in moderation, as the states of excess and deficiency in Zoroastrianism, are deemed to be the workings of the Hostile Spirit. Man, in Zoroastrianism, is encouraged to lead a good and prosperous life and hence monasticism, celibacy, fasting and the mortification of the body are anathema to the faith; such practices are seen to weaken man and thereby lessen his power to fight evil. The prophet saw pessimism and despair as sins, in fact as yielding to evil. In his teachings, man is encouraged to lead an active, industrious, honest and above all, a happy and charitable life.

The After-Life Doctrine

Upon physical death (which is seen as the temporary triumph of evil), the soul will be judged at the Bridge of the Separator, where the soul, it is believed, will receive its reward or punishment, depending upon the life which it has led in this world, based upon the balance of its thoughts, words and deeds. If found righteous, the soul will ascend to the abode of joy and light, whilst if wicked, it will descend into the depths of darkness and gloom. The latter state, however, is a temporary one, as there is no eternal damnation in Zoroastrianism. There is a promise, then, of a series of saviours the Saoshyants, who will appear in the world and complete the triumph of good over evil. Evil will be rendered ineffective and Ahura Mazda, the Infinite One, will finally become truly Omnipotent in Endless Light. There will then take place, a general Last Judgement of all the souls awaiting redemption, followed by the Resurrection of the physical body, which will once again meet its spiritual counterpart, the soul. Time, as we know it, will cease to exist and the seven creations of Ahura Mazda will be gathered together in eternal blessedness in the Kingdom of Mazda, where everything, it is believed, will remain in a perfect state of joy and undyingness.

The History

For over a thousand years, from circa 549 B.C.E. to 652 C.E. the religion taught by Zarathushtra flourished as the state religion of three mighty Iranian empires, that of the Achaemenians (549 - 330 B.C.E.), the Parthians (248 B.C.E. - 224 C.E.) and Sasanians (224 - 652 C.E.), Amongst the many subjects of the Achaemenian empire were the Jews, who adopted some of the prophet's main teachings and transmitted them in due course to Christianity and later, to Islam.

The Parsi Arrival

In the 7th century C.E., the Arabs conquered Iran and many of them settled there and gradually imposed their own religion of Islam. In the early 10th century, a small group of Zoroastrians seeking freedom of worship and economic redress, left Iran and sailed towards the warm shores of Western India. They eventually arrived along the Gujarat coastline in 936 C.E. at a place they named Sanjan, some 180 kms north of Bombay. There they flourished and came to be known as the Parsis (Persians). Over the millenium, a small band of faithful Zoroastrians have continued to live in Iran and have tried to preserve their culture and religious traditions as best as possible.

Currently

Today, the Zoroastrian community consisting of about 1,30,000 individuals, live in India, Iran and in various parts of the English speaking world. Faced with the pressures of a secular unipolar world and the threat of cultural and religious assimilation within the diaspora, some members of the community are meeting the challenge with renewed interest in the study and practice of their religion, aided by the ancient strength of their optimism and guided by the Light of Ahura Mazda.


TOPICS: Philosophy
KEYWORDS: ancienthistory; faithandphilosophy; godsgravesglyphs; iran; prophet; zoroastrianism; zoroastrians

Prophet Zoroaster who believed to be a peaceful, spiritual man. The 3 wisemen were 'magi' a term meaning Priest in the religion of Zoroastrianism. They came from the 'East' which was then Persia. Zoroastrians were forced to either convert or die after the invasion of Barbaric Islamic forces from Arabia into the Persian Empire.

In spite of losing their religon, Persians were able to retain their language and ethnicity.

1 posted on 07/29/2003 11:17:27 PM PDT by freedom44
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To: Doctor Stochastic; SJackson; knighthawk; McGavin999; Stultis; river rat; Live free or die; ...
Iran history ..

on or off iran ping
2 posted on 07/29/2003 11:20:06 PM PDT by freedom44
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To: freedom44
Zoroastrianism sounds rather appealing....
3 posted on 07/29/2003 11:21:12 PM PDT by kms61
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To: freedom44
I like it that when a Zoroastrian dies, they leave the body outside for the vultures to eat. It eliminates all those creepy "buried alive" phobias.
4 posted on 07/29/2003 11:22:20 PM PDT by Timesink
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To: freedom44
He's got some awful lazy eye action going on. Maybe the hallucinations are kicking in.
5 posted on 07/29/2003 11:23:57 PM PDT by WellsFargo94
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To: Timesink
Yeah it's an ancient belief of Zoroastrians not to bury the dead, b/c it is disrespectful to bury someone inside of a mere grave when the entire body can enjoy fruits of heaven.

I find that to be the strangest part of their religion, but i can also respect it on those grounds.



6 posted on 07/29/2003 11:26:23 PM PDT by freedom44
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To: Timesink
Vultures and crows have just as much right to eat as the worms...

[from some line in a Clint Eastwood movie]

7 posted on 07/29/2003 11:32:21 PM PDT by C210N
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To: freedom44
Zoroastrianism and Christianity are eerily similar,a large part of the New Testament is almost a carbon copy of Zoroastrian teachings with Zoroastra playing the part of the Christ......only played out a thousand years earlier.
8 posted on 07/29/2003 11:42:53 PM PDT by armed_in_sydney
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To: armed_in_sydney
Some have said the Jesus's teachings are more Zoroastrian than Jewish.
9 posted on 07/30/2003 12:11:56 AM PDT by USMMA_83
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To: armed_in_sydney
Actually Judaism is also influenced by Zoroastrianism -- the angelic figures and the messianic figures appear only after the Babylonian (subsequently Persian) rule. Plus the Zoroastrians were very tolerant of other faiths, unlike the Babylonians.

It's an offshoot of the Indo-Aryanic religions, most of which deal with two sets, 'families' of Gods -- as witness the Aenir and the Vanir of the Nordic peoples (which is a primitive form of the Aryanic religion).

The more developed forms of the Aryanic religion were to be found in India and Persia -- actually opposing groups with the Indic peoples (Hindus == from the river Indus) elevating the Daevas as gods and the Asuras as demons (of course that seems to have been accelerated by Christian though) while the Irani peoples (Persians, Parthians, Medes etc) elevated the Asuras (or Ahuras In Iranic) to the level of Gods and the daevas to minor deities or demons. Zoroaster came and changed this, making a somewhat monotheistic religion.
10 posted on 07/30/2003 12:29:32 AM PDT by Cronos (Bush 2004)
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To: kms61
I agree. I wonder how long before someone comes along with the usual "They are bad, they are evil, they kick their children, they participated in the great cheese slaughter of the innocent Fardusi worshippers in B.C. 721, they smell funny because of their strange belief in not changing their underwear", etc. etc. etc. etc. until you want to puke rubber biscuts, and you end up becoming a bitter old athiest who snarls at the well meaning people who come to the door with the colorful pamphlets and the vacant smiles.

Sorry. Was that a rant?
11 posted on 07/30/2003 12:38:05 AM PDT by Elliott Jackalope (Formerly Billy_bob_bob)
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To: Elliott Gigantalope
Yes. LOL. Now take your medicine :)
12 posted on 07/30/2003 12:43:54 AM PDT by txzman (Jer 23:29)
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To: freedom44
"Zoroastrians were forced to either convert or die after the invasion of Barbaric Islamic forces from Arabia into the Persian Empire."

Early example of the "religion of peace" from long before the squabbles over Palestine, occupied lands, etc.

Just goes to show they've been at the same game, from the start. (They being muslims)

A friend of mine grew up in Bombay, but returned to Iran under the Shah. The Shah recognized they were ancient people of Iran, and invited them to return.

My friend worked for an American company in Tehran, but escaped with his wife in 1979, when things got nasty for non-muslims.

As an Indian citizen, he could go to Britain or Canada, but managed to get an American greencard for professional skills. Now American citizens, he and his family are an assets to the community.

Their religious beliefs are compatible with Judeo-Christian beliefs, as far as monotheism and morality.

Their numbers are small, compounded by marrying only within their faith. In India and elsewhere, they are well educated, often the professional class.

13 posted on 07/30/2003 12:55:13 AM PDT by truth_seeker
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To: freedom44
When they start with this BCE and CE crap versus BC and AD they lose me.
14 posted on 07/30/2003 1:12:38 AM PDT by Neanderthal
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To: Neanderthal
Ahura Mazda?

My friend had a Mazda RX7 back in the seventies. He thought it was divine. Now I know why!
15 posted on 07/30/2003 2:07:41 AM PDT by Thorondir
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To: Neanderthal
Ahura Mazda?

My friend had a Mazda RX7 back in the seventies. He thought it was divine. Now I know why!
16 posted on 07/30/2003 2:11:21 AM PDT by Thorondir
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To: freedom44
An equally senseable presentation is made by H.R. "Bob" Dobbs...

All Hail Slack!

17 posted on 07/30/2003 4:06:55 AM PDT by 50sDad ("Can't sleep...clowns will eat me!")
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To: C210N
from some line in a Clint Eastwood movie]

The Outlaw Josey Wales.

18 posted on 07/30/2003 4:10:57 AM PDT by Stentor
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To: freedom44
Who are the Zoroastrians?


19 posted on 07/30/2003 4:15:57 AM PDT by dennisw (G_d is at war with Amalek for all generations)
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To: freedom44
All I know is it's gotta be better than Islam which has been a disaster for Iran. A lethal foreign import.

Dump those bloated Mullahs
20 posted on 07/30/2003 4:18:18 AM PDT by dennisw (G_d is at war with Amalek for all generations)
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To: armed_in_sydney
"Zoroastrianism and Christianity"

Google 'Manichaeanism' for a glimpse at a historical reverberation back to Persia!.
21 posted on 07/30/2003 7:09:55 AM PDT by headsonpikes
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To: freedom44
Didn't they shave Dr Evil's scrotum ?
22 posted on 07/30/2003 3:20:31 PM PDT by Centurion2000 (We are crushing our enemies, seeing him driven before us and hearing the lamentations of the liberal)
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To: Elliott Gigantalope
The latter state, however, is a temporary one, as there is no eternal damnation in Zoroastrianism.

That right there will render it a heretical cult to about half of FR.

23 posted on 07/30/2003 3:24:51 PM PDT by Mr. Jeeves
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To: freedom44
Thanks for the ping.
24 posted on 07/30/2003 10:28:57 PM PDT by GOPJ
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To: Thorondir
Ahura Mazda?
My friend had a Mazda RX7 back in the seventies. He thought it was divine. Now I know why!

Long before that (ca.1912) Edison marketed light bulbs under the brand "Mazda." (I used to have one...)

25 posted on 07/31/2003 3:47:12 PM PDT by Eala
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To: armed_in_sydney; USMMA_83; Cronos
Zoroastrianism/Christianity

Since I saw this thread(back when it was fresh), I googled around a bit and kept some bookmarks. After reading a bit more, I continue to be struck by the similarities between Zoroastrianism and Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

One thing in particular that strikes me as an example is found in a the revelations of a prophet of the religion several hundred years after Zoroaster, in which various hells corresponding to various forms of wickedness are described.

Very, very interesting it was to me.

Here is one that made me say "Hm..."

(1) I also saw the soul of a woman (2) who ever dug into a hill with her own breasts; (3) and ever held, on her head, a mill-stone like a cap. (4) And I asked thus: 'What sin was committed by this body, whose soul suffered so severe a punishment?' (5) Srosh the pious, and Adar the angel, said (6) thus: 'This is the soul of that wicked woman who, in the world, destroyed her own infant, and threw away the corpse.'
It occurs to me that if the hole in the center of that millstone were a couple inches bigger around, it might slip on down past her ears, in which case it would then be hung around her neck.
26 posted on 11/04/2003 4:00:29 PM PST by Yeti
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To: Yeti
Don't forget that the Jews were exiled in Babylon before the PErsians freed them. Cyrus the great believed in religious tolerance. The Jews must have been influenced by this highly cultured religion with a sharp delineation between goood and evil with man's duty being to fight on the side of Ahura Mazda against evil. Zoroastrianism also has the concept of a Messiah like figure and the concept of hell. Before this, the Jews had little or no concept of the afterlife.
27 posted on 11/05/2003 3:10:34 AM PST by Cronos (W2004)
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To: dennisw
That's stupid and ignorant. They're not firewalkers, or even fire worshippers.
28 posted on 11/05/2003 3:11:32 AM PST by Cronos (W2004)
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To: Cronos
Ha. I meant it as a joke. I would much rather see the Zoros running Iran, than the crazy Ayatollahs. Iran (Persia) has much potential if they can shuck off their Islamic masters.

Islamics + A-bombs are a dangerous combination.
29 posted on 11/05/2003 3:16:38 AM PST by dennisw (G_d is at war with Amalek for all generations)
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To: Cronos
Before this, the Jews had little or no concept of the afterlife.

And I always thought that the modern Christian notion of hell was derived from Hel, the Viking underworld.

I also like the idea that the Zoroastrian hell is theraputic and redeeming, as opposed to purely punitive and ultimately destructive of the souls cast there.

Also appealing to me is the judgement at the end of life as to whether a person was all-in-all good or bad in life as opposed to the various Christian beliefs, that one need only accept Jesus as ones personal saviour(deathbed epiphanies by men who have led evil lives) or that one is predestined either to go to hell or heaven(no matter what you do on earth).

And I notice among the various hells are punishments for sins that I have kicked around in my own mind as significant and immoral, but have never seen mentioned anywhere. In particular, the witholding of benefits from humanity, which can lead to some difficult moral dilemmas, when considered as a sin.

Are you Zoroastrian, Cronos?

30 posted on 11/05/2003 3:38:13 AM PST by Yeti
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To: dennisw; Yeti
Could agree more with that addition. The problem is, we've already got one slammie state with a nuke (pak) who're busy trading it with the NK and the Sauds. dangerous.....

The Christian idea may have borrowed from the primitive Teutonic beliefs along with the Roman and Greek belief structures, but it's core is Judaic which was influenced by the Zoroastrian.
31 posted on 11/05/2003 5:48:41 AM PST by Cronos (W2004)
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32 posted on 12/24/2008 1:37:28 AM PST by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_______Profile finally updated Saturday, December 6, 2008 !!!)
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To: Cronos

The interesting thing to me is that the Parsi wear yarmulka when they pray and also use something very close to a rosary.


33 posted on 12/24/2008 6:18:09 AM PST by Citizen Tom Paine (Swift as the wind; Calmly majestic as a forest; Steady as the mountains.)
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To: Thorondir

The interesting thing is that the term Ahura is similar to the hindu term Asura and to the name of one of the family of Nordic Gods — the Aesir.


34 posted on 12/24/2008 6:36:20 AM PST by Cronos (Ceterum censeo, Mecca et Medina delenda est)
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To: Yeti

I never replied to your question — no, I’m not Zoroastrian, but my grandmother was.


35 posted on 12/24/2008 6:37:48 AM PST by Cronos (Ceterum censeo, Mecca et Medina delenda est)
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To: FARS

ping


36 posted on 12/24/2008 6:38:12 AM PST by Cronos (Ceterum censeo, Mecca et Medina delenda est)
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To: SunkenCiv; blam
The linkage dates back to proto-Indo-European religion which seems to have revolved around two families of gods -- the Asuras/Ahuras/Aesir and the Devas/Daevas/Vanir (giving them their Indic/Iranic/nordic names).

In India, the Devas got the upper hand and were hailed as the higher Gods from at least 1000 BC (the middle of the VEdic period as the earlier Vedas call the gods Varuna and Agni as Asuras and use the term like "Lord"). Then, later due to influence from Christianity and Islam, the Asuras were relegated to being demonic figures while Vediism itself got influenced by Dravidian religions and becmae more the worship of Shiva and Vishnu rather than Indra (The Indic equivalent of Thor of the Nordics or Tiamat of the Hittites)

In Irani religion, the opposite happened -- teh Ahuras got precedence and the daevas were houosehold gods. Then Zoroaster came along and said, no, Ahura Mazda is the one God

Meanwhile, the more primitive Nordics retained the two sets of nearly equal families fo gods -- the Aesir and the VAnir.

in Greece, the families of gods got influenced by Semitic religions and you have one family (the Titans) being overthrown by another (the Olympians).

In Rome, the religiousity was more primitve and they essentially borrowed Greek Religiousity except that they retained their household gods (the Daevas or genius of the household)
37 posted on 12/24/2008 6:45:36 AM PST by Cronos (Ceterum censeo, Mecca et Medina delenda est)
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To: Cronos

keeping it alive for Christmas :)


38 posted on 12/25/2008 12:24:08 AM PST by Cronos (Ceterum censeo, Mecca et Medina delenda est)
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