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ZOROASTRIAN  

Zoroastrianism

The Ancient Persian Religion

 
 

 

- AVESTA

- 101 NAMES

- ANGELS

- CALENDAR

   

BACKGROUND

The ZOROASTRIAN religion (ZARATHUSHTI in Persian Language) was brought to light by The Great Prophet ZARATHUSHTRA HAECHATASPA SPITAMA. "ZOROASTER" is the most current of various Greek forms of his first name. The exact date of the birth of our religion is still being debated by scholars. However, it is widely believed that our religion started about 5000 years ago, in ancient Persia (Today Iran).


Long before Zarathushtra was born, his arrival was proclaimed in the sky by visions of his FRAVASHI (soul). The heavens made this known in different supernatural ways. At the moment of his birth, his mother's home was engulfed in a brilliant halo of Devine light, while gloom filled the forest and wilderness where demons roamed.

The parents of Zarathushtra were POURUSHASPA and DOGHDOVA. Zarathushtra was born in the North-Eastern of Ancient Persia, on KHORDEHD the 6th day of the month FRAVARDIN, in about 3000 B.C. The babe smiled at his birth and the on looking parents were filled with great love, joy and hope for the future. Knowing the child's destiny, they named him “Zarathushtra” of the Spitama family (He of the golden light).

The evil forces tried to hinder Zarathushtra's path by subjecting him to various dangers. However, Zarathushtra came unscathed from all of these.

 

 
        THE BEGINNING  
       

Zarathushtra, the grandson of Haechadspa of the Spitama family married to Hvovi and they had six children, three sons and three daughters in the following order:

  1. Son: Isat Vastar

  2. Daughter: Freni

  3. Daughter: Thriti

  4. Son: Urvatat-Nara

  5. Son: Hvare chithra

  6. Daughter: Pouruchista

Zarathushtra received his revelations directly from God "AHURA MAZDA", and from his Archangels (Amesha Spentas). The First  people who accepted his philosophy were His cousin Maidhyoimangha, His wife Hvovi and his six children. Then Under orders from Ahura Mazda, Zarathushtra made his way towards the court of King Vistaspa of Bactria. In his inaugural sermon, Zarathushtra tried to induce his countrymen to forsake the worship of multiple gods and bow only before Ahura Mazda. At Vistaspa's court, he had to fight for a foothold and contend with the intrigues and plotting of the so called "wise men" and courtiers around the king. In the end Zarathushtra came out victorious and Vistaspa was the first person to embrace the Zoroastrian religion.

The religion then spread through Persian Empire [which at one time extended from Africa to China, from the Danube in Europe to the plains of Judea in the Middle East, and up to the Punjab and Sindh in India], and became the State religion of the Achaemenian Empire founded by Cyrus the Great in 558 BC It suffered a setback during the reign of Darius II, when Alexander conquered Persia in 330 BC.

At this time the seat of the Empire at Persepolis was destroyed. After a revival during the Parthian (256 BC to 226 AD) and Sassanian (226 AD to 652 AD) periods, it reeled once again with the Muslim invasion of Persia in 652 AD.

After Iran was conquered by the Muslim Arabs in the seventh century, those Zoroastrians who refused to convert to Islam either sought refuge in isolated areas of Iran or fled to India where they are known as the “PARSIS”.

Zarathushtra lived a healthy life to old age. According to later tradition, Zarathushtra passes away at the age of 77, of natural causes.

 

 
        THE RELIGION  
       

The Zoroastrian religion is based on the three fundamental tenets of:

  • HUMATA             (Good Thoughts)

  • HUKTA                 (Good Words)

  • HUVARASHTA    (Good Deeds)


* It can't get any simpler than that.

The principal characteristics of the religion taught by Zarathushtra are:

Its stress on ethics, its positive approach to life, optimism about the future of the world, its emphasis on free choice and its catholicity.

 

The faith flourished through the rise and fall of many civilizations. For thousand years (558 B.C. to 652 A.D.) it was the court religion of three Great Persian Empires, those of the “Achaemenians”, the “Parthians” and the “Sassanians”, and stretched across Asia from Greece in the west to the Hindu Kush (India) in the east, up into Southern Russia, and down into Egypt. Its followers numbered in the millions. People from all walks of life thronged to hear the Holy Zarathushtra speak of his great new religion. His was the religion of ASHOI (righteousness):

Telling the truth and foreswearing the lie is an essential element of our religion. From which follows that one's word is sacred and not to be broken, however difficult the circumstances.


A Zoroastrian's duty was to strive against evil. He may succeed or he may fail. But he must go on trying.


Wearing of the SEDREH and KUSHTI, was the symbol of a Zoroastrian.

 

 
        VIEW OF THE WORLD  
       

Zarathustra presents a view of the world in which Ahura Mazda originally creates an ideal existence in accordance with the Law of ASHA.

As the world progresses, there is Conflict between the opposing forces of GOOD (Spenta Mainyu-Ahura Mazda) and EVIL (Angra Mainyu-Ahriman). In this ethical drama, Ahura Mazda gives man not only the freedom to Choose between Good and Evil, but also the responsibility to actively promote Good, vanquish evil, and move not only himself, but the whole world towards Frashokereti, the final resurrection, When all will be in a state of perfection and everlasting bliss. This commitment to a life of bringing about a happy, harmonious, morally perfect social order is what the Prophet offered as the Zoroastrian faith.

Our mission in life is to so conduct ourselves that this ultimate victory is achieved. He urged his followers to live a full and useful life in this world, to appreciate all things that are good and beautiful in creation, not only to do good and desist from evil but also to fight evil, and to make others happy. He assured his followers that the strength of God would be given to those who fought evil, and stressed that an evil deed could be offset by a good one. As for happiness, the way to seek happiness was by making others happy.

He pointed out that in each of us there is a divine spark. It is up to us to recognize this divine spark or essence within us, to understand its capabilities and to try and so conduct ourselves that we reach the state of perfection in this world. Zarathushtra emphasized free choice. In one his first sermons he preached:

"Ye, who seek knowledge, please listen carefully to what I say, and perceive the truth in the light of reason, because it is possible for each man to have a separate creed."

He also taught that one should be liberal in thinking and to respect all that is good, true and beautiful. Here is a passage that brings home this point:

"We reserve and love all good thoughts, words and deeds that may have been presented here or else-where, now or at any future period. Because we are on the side of goodness."

 

 
        WORSHIP  
       

The Eternal Flame:  Zoroastrian rituals and prayers are solemnized in the presence of an eternal flame, which is scrupulously tended with sandalwood and frankincense and kept burning in a silver urn in the inner sanctum of every Zoroastrian temple.

Fire, as a symbol of "Asha" and the "original light of God", holds a special place of esteem in the religion. Prayer is often done in front of a fire, and consecrated fires are kept perpetually burning in the major temples.

Fire is revered as a visible symbol of the Inner Light, the inner flame that burns within each person. It is a physical representation of the Illumined Mind, Light and Truth, all highly regarded in the Zoroastrian doctrine. Despite its pre-historic origins, Zoroastrianism has vehemently denounced idolatry in any shape or form.

Respect for the Environment: Veneration of the elements of nature (Fire, the Sun, the Earth and the Waters) and promoting a mutually beneficial existence with these elements, is central to Zoroastrian thought, placing this ancient religion well ahead of its time.

Zoroastrians worship all the worldly elements, but more so, fire. As Zarathushtra said:

"The all powerful Ahura Mazda is the creator of all things including fire and other elements, but because He has bestowed on it a special power and usefulness, it is worthy of a special status and while we stand before our Sacred Fires, note well, we address our prayers to God Almighty."

Therefore Zoroastrians should not be regarded as mere fire worshipers. Instead, we are worshipers of the One Pure God, and the fire is a symbol of His purity and strength.

 

 
        THE SACRED BOOK  
       

All the existing scriptures propounded by Zarathushtra as well as the religious writings of his followers are collectively known as the "AVESTA" (Avesta is also the name of the language spoken in Persia at one time).


The "Avesta" consists of six parts, the YASNA, KHORDEH-AVESTA, VISPERAD, VENDIDAD and FRAGMENTS". The most important part of the scriptures is the "GATHAS" or Divine Songs which is part of YASNA. These are dialogues between the prophet and God, and they are ascribed to Zarathushtra himself. The "Avesta" is written in a number of languages. The "Gathas" were written in a language that was Pre-Avestan (Old Persian). Later scriptures were written in the Avesta language and in the Pahlavi and Pazand dialects. What exists today is only a fraction of the original scriptures, many of which were burned when Alexander destroyed Persepolis.


The Zoroastrians still recite their prayers in the language in which the scriptures were written. Some reformers argue that they should be recited in the language of the believer or in English so that the person offering the prayers can understand what he or she is praying. Others, who want to continue the old practice, prefer to "keep with tradition."

 

 
        ZOROASTRIAN CALENDAR  
       

The Zoroastrian calendar consists of 12 months of 30 days each. At the end of these 12 months there are 5 separate days called the GATHAS. It is during the days of the GATHAS, that Ahura Mazda (God) spoke to Zarathushtra about our religion and enlightened Him.

There are three Zoroastrian calendars namely, SHEHENSHAHI, KADMI and FASLI. Zoroastrians emigrated from Iran in groups. Depending on the time of arrival of a certain group from Iran, a certain calendar is followed. The
Kadmi calendar is one month ahead of the Shehenshahi calendar. The days however, are synchronised. The Zoroastrians that still live in Iran, follow the Fasli calendar. No matter which calendar is followed, there is perfect harmony between Zoroastrians. All calendars are given equal importance and there are no restrictions on anybody to follow a certain calendar...  Read More

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