Zoroastrianism

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Zoroastrianism is a religion. The founder of Zoroastrianism was Zoroaster, who lived in eastern ancient Iran around 1000 BC.[1] Other names for Zoroastrianism are Mazdaism and Parsiism.

Zoroastrianism is a monotheistic religion. The Zoroastrian god is called Ahura Mazda. It was not always a monotheistic religion. Long ago, Zoroastrians believed there were more gods.[source?] The holy book of Zoroastrianism is the Zend Avesta.

Zoroastrianism is also dualist. Zoroastrians believe Ahura Mazda created two spirits, a good one (Spenta Mainyu) and a bad one (Angra Mainyu). Zoroastrians believe people are free to choose between good and bad, but that choosing good will lead to happiness, and that choosing bad will lead to unhappiness. So it is the best to choose good. Therefore, the motto of the religion is "Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds".

Zoroastrianism was the state religion of the Sassanid dynasty of Persia. In the 7th century, Persia was conquered by Islamic Arabs, and most Persians became Muslims too. Nowadays, there are about 250,000 Zoroastrians in the world. Most of them live in Iran, Pakistan or India (in Pakistan and India, they are called Parsis); however, many Zoroastrians also live in the United States.

Basic beliefs[change | edit source]

There is one god, called Ahura Mazda in their beliefs, the one Uncreated Creator. All worship is directed to him.

Ahura Mazda created everything. There is a conflict between order (that he created) and chaos (or disorder). All the universe is part of this conflict, humans are too.

To help fight the chaos, it is necessary to lead an active life, to do good deeds, and have good words and good thoughts for others. This is also needed to get happiness. This active life is the basis of what Zoroastrians call free will. They are against people living on their own to find god, like in monasteries.

The conflict will not last forever. Ahura Mazda will win it in the end. When this happens all the creation will be reunited with Ahura Mazda, even the souls of those who died or who were banished.

All the bad things are represented as Angra Mainyu, the "Destructive Principle". All the good things are represented by Ahura Mazda's Spenta Mainyu, the instrument or "Bounteous Principle" of the act of creation. Through Spenta Maniu, Ahura Mazda is in all humans. Through this principle, the Creator interacts with the world.

When Ahura Mazda created everything, he made seven "sparks", called Amesha Spentas ("Bounteous Immortals"). Each of them represents an aspect of the creation. These seven sparks are helped by many "lesser principles", the Yazatas. Each Yazata is "worthy of worship" and also stands for an aspect of the creation.

Famous Zoroastrians[change | edit source]

Some historians believe that the Three Wise Men or Magi who visited Jesus after he was born were Zoroastrian priests.

References[change | edit source]

  1. [Encyclopædia Iranica, ZOROASTER ii. GENERAL SURVEY. Retrieved on 31 October 2010 http://www.iranica.com/articles/zoroaster-ii-general-survey%7C In the Avesta, the geography of the Vendīdād and of the Yashts make it clear that these texts locate themselves in eastern [ancient] Iran [today's Afghanistan]. Even though there are later traditions which place him in Azerbaijan and Media, it is more reasonable to locate Zoroaster somewhere in eastern [ancient] Iran [today's Afghanistan] along with the rest of the Avesta. Further, the two Avestan dialects belong linguistically to [ancient] eastern Iran [today's Afghanistan].

Bibliography[change | edit source]

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