ANSWERS: 4
  • From http://www.avesta.org/zfaq.html A brief overview Zoroastrianism is a religion founded in ancient times by the prophet Zarathushtra, known to the Greeks as Zoroaster. Zoroastrianism was the dominant world religion during the Persian empires (559 BC to 651 AC), and was thus the most powerful world religion at the time of Jesus. It had a major influence on other religions. It is still practiced world-wide, especially in Iran and India. To quote Mary Boyce, "The prophet Zarathushtra, son of Pourushaspa, of the Spitaman family, is known to us primarily from the Gathas, seventeen great hymns which he composed and which have been faithfully preserved by his community. These are not works of instruction, but inspired, passionate utterances, many of them addressed directly to God; and their poetic form is a very ancient one, which has been traced back (through Norse parallels) to Indo-European times. It seems to have been linked with a mantic tradition, that is, to have been cultivated by priestly seers who sought to express in lofty words their personal apprehension of the divine; and it is marked by subtleties of allusion, and great richness and complexity of style. Such poetry can only have been fully understood by the learned; and since Zoroaster believed that he had been entrusted by God with a message for all mankind, he must also have preached again and again in plain words to ordinary people. His teachings were handed down orally in his community from generation to generation, and were at last committed to writing under the Sasanians, rulers of the third Iranian empire. The language then spoken was Middle Persian, also called Pahlavi; and the Pahlavi books provide invaluable keys for interpreting the magnificent obscurities of the Gathas themselves." - Zoroastrians, Their religious beliefs and practices, London, 1979, pg 17. Some of the major tenets of Zoroastrianism include: God: Ahura Mazda The supreme being is called Ahura Mazda (Phl. Ohrmazd), meaning "Wise Lord." Ahura Mazda is all good, and created the world and all good things, including people. He is opposed by Anghra Mainyu (Phl. Ahriman), meaning "Destructive Spirit," the embodiment of evil and creator of all evil things. The cosmic battle between good and evil will ultimately lead to the destruction of all evil. Prophet: Zarathushtra The religion was founded by Zarathushtra. His date is uncertain, but is probably somewhere around 1200 BC. He lived and preached in the Inner Asian steppes. Zarathushtra received his revelations directly from Ahura Mazda, and from his Archangels (Amesha Spentas). Scripture: Avesta The central scripture is the Avesta. The most sacred sections of the Avesta are the Gathas or Hymns of Zarathushtra; they are also the most enigmatic. Later sacred literature includes the Pahlavi Texts, which contain extensive quotations and paraphrases from lost Avesta texts. Creed The creed is summarized in Yasna 12. It is likely to have been composed by Zarathushtra himself, and to have been used as an avowal of faith by early converts (Cf. Boyce, Zoroastrianism, It's Antiquity and Constant Vigour, p. 102-4). Observances Two sacred garments, the sudreh (shirt) and kusti (cord) are the emblems of the religion. Zoroastrians perform a short cleansing ritual (Padyab), and retie the kusti several times a day with another short ritual (Nirang-i Kusti) as a sign of their faith. Other prayers are recited daily from the Khorda Avesta. Prayer is largely done in the Avestan language. The faithful should also participate in seasonal communal festivals ("Gahambars") during the year. Fire and "Asha" 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.
  • The religion of ancient Iran (Persia) founded by Zoroaster in the sixth century B.C.E. Zoroastrianism teaches a “dualism” in which the supreme God, Ahura-mazda, has a foe, Ahriman, whom Ahura-mazda is to vanquish at the end of time. The indications are that the kings of the Medo-Persian Empire were Zoroastrians. While it cannot be proved or disproved that Cyrus the Great adhered to the teachings of Zoroaster, from the time of Darius I the inscriptions of the monarchs repeatedly refer to Ahura Mazda, the principal deity of Zoroastrianism. Darius I referred to Ahura Mazda as the creator of heaven, earth, and man, and he looked to this god as the one who had bestowed upon him wisdom, physical skillfulness, and the kingdom. “A characteristic feature of Zoroastrianism is dualism, that is, the belief in two independent divine beings, one good and the other evil. Ahura Mazda was viewed as the creator of all good things, whereas Angra Mainyu was regarded as the creator of all that is evil. It was thought that the latter could bring about earthquakes, storms, disease, and death as well as stir up unrest and war. Lesser spirits were believed to assist these two gods in carrying out their functions”. Source, “Insight on the Scriptures” WT Bible and Tract Society, 1988
  • The belief & religion of Zocaster... (I hope I spelled that right...)
  • What is Zoroastrianism? Simply put, Zoroastrianism is the name given to the religion and beliefs based on the teachings which are attributed to the Persian religious leader Zararthushtra ( in Greek Zoroaster, in later Persian Zartosht). Mazdayasna (worship of Ahura Mazda) is the name of the religion that recognizes the divine authority of Ahura Mazda, the creator who Zarathushtra discovered by studying nature and who was proclaimed by Zoroaster to be the one uncreated Creator of all (God). "Mazdaism" is a transliteration of Mazdayasna, which means " Worshipper of Mazda." Most followers of Ahura Mazda call themselves Zoroastrians or Behdini (followers of the Good Religion.) Who was Zoroaster? Zoroaster is generally accepted as an historical figure, but dating just when Zoroaster lived is fraught with difficulty. The most widely accepted calculations place him near to 1200 BCE thus making him a candidate for the 'founder of the earliest religion based on revealed scripture' while there are other estimates that date his life anywhere between the 18th and the 6th centuries BCE. The Gathas and the chapter known as Yasna Haptanghaiti are all written in Old Avestan and the language used in these passages is much older than the language used in other parts of the Zoroastrian writings which are called the Avesta and which are written in what is called Young Avestan. Old Avestan and Vedic Sanskrit are both descendants of the Proto-Indo-Iranian language and the Gathic Old Avestan is still quite close in structure to the Sanskrit of the Rig-Veda in language usage. However the Sanskrit of the Rig-Veda is somewhat more conservative in outlook and structure than the Avestan of the Gathas and so, based on the changes in the languages, scholars date the Gathas to around 1000 BCE, give or take a couple of centuries. ** But note also that the issue lies with how old is the Rig Veda, which no one seems to know with anything approximating certainty. There are also those who think the Gathas are older than the Rig Veda, Dastur Dhalla, and some other linguists see the Gaathic language as more complex and archaic. Most of what we know about Zoroaster comes to us from a variety of sources, the Avesta, the Gathas, Greek historical works, archaeological evidence and oral history. Zoroaster was born on the cusp as societies shifted from being mainly nomadic to a more settled agrarian lifestyle. He lived in an area of the Middle East then known as Chorasmia ( An area roughly occupying present day Northern Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan) He was married, he had three daughters and three sons and it was at 30 that he received enlightenment. He preached for many years before his wife and children converted with the first convert being a cousin. These statements are all based on legends that have been woven in traditions. They probably contain some truths and facts, but there is no way of ascertaining them and thus cannot be taken as historical. The later Avestan writings make Zoroaster a kind of 'superman', wrestling with demons and being tempted by Ahriman. The Gathas, however, show him an ordinary mortal, perplexed by his call, utterly certain of Ahura Mazda and bewildered by his lack of success. Eventually he converted King Vistaspa who reigned in eastern Iran and with the king's conversion, Zoroastrianism became a force in the region and there, as well in India among the Parsees, it still survives. Who is Ahura Mazda? For Zoroastrians, God (called Ahura Mazda) , is the beginning and the end,the creator of everything visible and invisible. Although it is recognized that the concept of "God", like many others, is slightly different in Zarathushtrian thought. Zarathushtra might best be considered, if we are to use modern terms to describe his doctrines, a Panentheist, that is he perceives a Supreme Being Thus this Creator is immanent in Creation but also transcends it . In fact as has been said one can see Mazda Ahura as containing creation in a way. Moreover, the very concept of Lordship and Sovereignty are different, Ahura which is often translated as lord was the name of a set of old arya Gods which were totally abstract lacking any form, they can best considered as energy since they have no body, yet they are personal. In addition Mazda does not into impose Her/His will but rather teachs, persuades etc. Thus Mazda's relationship with mortals is one of a partner, an ally, a friend and even a soul mate ) This being who is source of all that exists. The name Ahura Mazda contains both masculine and feminine elements. (Ahura, the Lord, is masculine while Mazda, Most or Super Wise or Knowledgeable, and Most or Super Giving or Generous One, is feminine.) Ahura Mazda, according to Zoroastrian belief, is the Eternal, the Pure and the only Truth. In the Gathas, which are the oldest texts in Zoroastrianism and which are considered to have been written by Zoroaster himself, the teacher gives devotion to no other divinity besides Ahura Mazda. What are the Gathas? The Gathas are scripture written in an ancient Indo-Iranian verse form. Gatha means 'Song.' There are 17 Gathic hymns, they exist both on their own and as part of the much larger Avesta. They are the earliest of the Zoroastrian writings. What about Dualism? Perhaps the most well-known of later Zoroastrian doctrines is the doctrine of Dualism or Ditheism. This posits that Ahura Mazda has two 'emanations' called Spenta Mainyu (Good Mind) and Angra Mainyu (Bad or Evil Mind.) These became in later Zoroastrian belief Ormazd and Ahriman. This doctrine, however, is purely a product of later thought. In Zoroaster's revelation,there is only Ahura Mazda who will ultimately triumph over the 'lie'(Yasna 48.1.) But not here and not now. For now human beings must choose which of the two 'forces' they will serve, Truth or the Lie, this choosing is a life-long affair but righteousness begins by making the first choice for Ahura Mazda and for the Truth. Quote:"…Listen to the best things with your ears, reflect upon them with an unbiased mind. Then let each man and women for him or her self choose between the two ways of thinking. Awaken to my doctrine, before this great event of choice comes upon you…" [Avesta: The Gathas: Song 3:2 (FreeTranslation)] What about Converts? There are two main groups who can be considered 'cultural' Zoroastrians, they are the Zoroastrian community in Iran and the Parsee community in India. The Parsees (refugees in India from the invasion of Iran by the Muslims) do not allow conversion at all. The Iranian community does but quietly and carefully for conversion from Islam is considered a crime in Iran. But as well as these groups there are groups of 'Gathas-only' Zoroastrian converts by choice springing up throughout the world with the major centres for such groups being the US and South America. So it is indeed possible to convert to Zoroastrianism. See also the article at: <url>http://tinyurl.com/svs5k </url> What does Zoroastrianism teach? This part of the article I have struggled with, the teachings of Zoroastrianism are deep and wide but I think the following quote from: <url>http://www.zoroastrianism.cc/universal_religion.html</url> is perhaps the best definition I have read. Quote:"… Zarathushtra's is a message about a spirituality that progresses towards self-realization, fulfillment and completeness, as a good creation of a totally good God. It is a message of freedom - freedom to choose, freedom from fear, freedom from guilt, freedom from sin, freedom from stultifying rituals, superstitious practices, fake spirituality and ceremonials. The God of Zarathustra, is not a God of "Thou shalt" and "Thou shall not". God in Zoroastrianism does not care what you wear, what and when you eat or where and when you worship. God instead cares how righteous, progressive and good you are. 1. God is not about fear guilt and Condemnation. 2. God is Wisdom Love and Logic. 3. God does not have favorites and does not discriminate on the basis of nationality, sex, race or class. 4. God treats humans with dignity and respect. 5. God is not a slave master, or despot, among his serfs. 6. God is man's Soul Mate and Partner. 7. God is not Jealous, Wrathful or Vengeful. 8. Man is not sinful, fallen or depraved. 9. God has no opponent and heaven and hell are states of mind and being. 10. Man was created to progress to God-likeness and eliminate wrong from the Cosmos in partnership with God. The Zoroastrian Religion pictures humanity as the growing and evolving creation of a God that respects it, and wants it to collaborate in the task of preserving, nourishing, fostering and refreshing this Living World and all it offers. A Zoroastrian is supposed to progress towards God (Ahura Mazda) by their own choices. Choosing to do good, and to avoid choosing to do wrong or evil. Zoroastrianism is thus the first truly ethical religion of human-kind and teaches that mortals achieve their goal of god-likeness and spiritual completeness by fighting evil through good thoughts, words and deeds. …"

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