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Zoroastrianism: Founded by Zarathushtra
|"Zoroastrianism is the oldest of the revealed world-religions, and it has probably had more influence on mankind, directly and indirectly, than any other single faith." Mary Boyce.|
Introduction:The religion was founded by Zarathushtra (Zoroaster in Greek; Zarthosht in India and Persia). Conservative Zoroastrians assign a date of 6000 BCE to the founding of the religion; other followers estimate 600 BCE. Historians and religious scholars generally date his life sometime between 1500 and 1000 BCE on the basis of his style of writing.
He lived in Persia, modern day Iran. Legends say that his birth was predicted and that attempts were made by the forces of evil to kill him as a child. He preached a monotheism in a land which followed an aboriginal polytheistic religion. He was attacked for his teaching, but finally won the support of the king. Zoroastrianism became the state religion of various Persian empires, until the 7th Century CE.
When Muslim Arabs invaded Persia in 650 CE, a small number of Zoroastrians fled to India where most are concentrated today. Those who remained behind have survived centuries of persecution, systematic slaughter, forced conversion, heavy taxes, etc. They now number only about 18,000 and reside chiefly in Yazd, Kernan and Tehran in what is now Iran. The Canadian 1991 census counted 3,190 Zoroastrians in that country. The actual number is believed to be much higher. According to the Fezana Journal survey, published quarterly by the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America, there are about 11,000 Zoroastrians in the United States, 6,000 in Canada, 5,000 in England, 2,700 in Australia and 2,200 in the Persian Gulf nations.
Membership:There are fewer than 200,000 Zoroastrians in the world today. In spite of its relatively few members, its importance to humanity is much greater than its current numbers might suggest, because:
|Their theology has had a great impact on Judaism, Christianity and other later religions, in the beliefs surrounding God and Satan, the soul, heaven and hell, savior, resurrection, final judgment, etc.|
|It is one of the oldest religions still in existence,|
|It may have been the first monotheistic religion.|
According to the New York Times:
"While Zoroastrians once dominated an area stretching from what is now Rome and Greece to India and Russia, their global population has dwindled to 190,000 at most, and perhaps as few as 124,000, according to a survey in 2004 by the Fezana Journal The number is imprecise because of wildly diverging counts in Iran, once known as Persia -- the incubator of the faith."
'' 'Survival has become a community obsession,' said Dina McIntyre, an Indian-American lawyer in Chesapeake, Va., who has written and lectured widely on her religion."
"The Zoroastrians' mobility and adaptability has contributed to their demographic crisis. They assimilate and intermarry, virtually disappearing into their adopted cultures. And since the faith encourages opportunities for women, many Zoroastrian women are working professionals who, like many other professional women, have few children or none." 1
Zoroastrian Sacred Text:The Zorastrian holy book is called the Avesta. This includes the original words of their founder Zarathushtra, preserved in a series of five hymns, called the Gathas. The latter represent the core text of the religion. The Gathas are abstract sacred poetry, directed towards the worship of the One God, understanding of righteousness and cosmic order, promotion of social justice and individual choice between good and evil. The Gathas have a general and even universal vision.
At some later date (most scholars say many centuries later), the remaining parts of the Avestas were written. These deal with laws of ritual and practice, with the traditions of the faith. The Zoroastrian community is sharply divided between those who would follow mostly (or exclusively) the teachings of the original Gathas, and those who believe that the later traditions are important and equally divinely inspired.
Zoroastrian Beliefs:Beliefs include:
|A single god Ahura Mazda who is supreme. Communication between Himself and humans is by a number of Attributes, called Amesha Spentas or Bounteous Immortals. Within the Gathas, the original Zoroastrian sacred text, these Immortals are sometimes described as concepts, and are sometimes personified.|
| One school of thought promotes a cosmic dualism between: |
|Another school of thought perceives the battle between Good and Evil as an ethical dualism, set within the human consciousness.|
|Asha is a form of righteous, all encompassing, natural law.|
| Legends, which are probably not those of Zarathushtra's original teachings are: |
|Their worship includes prayers and symbolic ceremonies.|
|Members are dedicated to a three-fold path, as shown in their motto: "Good thoughts, good words, good deeds."|
|Members can pray at home instead of going to a temple if they wish. 1|
|Zoroastrians do not generally accept converts. One has to be born into the religion. This belief is disputed by some members. Jehan Bagli, a retired chemist in Toronto who is a mobed (priest), and president of the North American Mobed Councilsaid:|
''They feel that the religion is not universal and is ethnic in nature, and that it should be kept within the tribe This is a tendency that to me sometimes appears suicidal. And they are prepared to make that sacrifice.'' 1
|The traditional wing of Zoroastrianism discourages and does not recognize inter-faith marriages. More details.|
|They do not proselytize. 1|
|Zoroastrians use three calendars: Shenshai, Qadimi and Fasli. On 1992-MAR-21, the spring equinox and first day of the Zoroastrian year, all three calendars coincided. This is an event that only occurs only once every 120 years. Many Zoroastrian organizations recommended that the membership switch to the Falsi Calendar on that day. This has been reasonably successful. 2|
New Year's Day and the importance of light in Zoroastrianism:Zoroastrian rituals are conducted before a sacred fire. Some outsiders believe that they actually worship fire. This is not true. They regard fire as a symbol of their God, and they cherish the light that it produces. Light is seen as energy, a natural force that is powerful and necessary for survival.
Hannah M.G. Shapero "...a visual artist deeply devoted to Zoroastrian scholarly studies" writes:
"Noruz is the Iranian New Year, which is celebrated each year at the Spring Equinox, around March 21. It is the most important holiday in the Zoroastrian calendar, and brings with it a wealth of symbolism, history, myth, and joyous festivities. There are many layers of meaning to Noruz: astronomical, mythical, historical, ritual, and spiritual."
"The word Noruz, in Persian, means "New Day," and the primal origin of the festival is in the universal rhythms of Earth and nature. In the "temperate" zones of the Northern Hemisphere, including Iran, the spring equinox signals the beginning of warmer weather and the growing season. In ancient Iran, it was the time to begin plowing fields and sowing seeds for crops. The equinox also marks the moment when, in the twenty-four hour round of the day, daylight begins to be longer than night."
"From its earliest origins Zoroastrianism has honored these natural rhythms and cycles, both with agricultural festivals and with cosmic commemorations of yearly astronomical events. The world, fashioned by the Wise Lord, shows forth the divine in all aspects of nature, and that divine Immanence is honored in festivals like Noruz, in which divine symbolism is joined with a celebration of the renewal of the earth in spring."
"In Zoroastrianism, light is the great symbol of God and Goodness, whether in the light of the sun or in the sacred fire. The Spring Equinox and the lengthening of the days is thus a symbol of the victory of Light over the cold and darkness of winter." 3
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Keyword tags: ahura mazda asha avesta gathas birth of zorthosht calendars god new year nouraz noruz persia prayers worship spenta Zoroastrianism
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|Anonymous||the secret of zoroastrianism||0||Dec 20 2011, 8:36 PM EST by Anonymous|
Thread started: Dec 20 2011, 8:36 PM EST Watch
the movie `zoro`has absolutely nothing to do with the religion
and AHURA MAZDA is not a god,,, he's from another planet , and you'll meet him, when they clone you back after the apocalypse ... dont beleive me? ask raelle
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|Anonymous||Good||2||Jul 23 2008, 2:21 PM EDT by Anonymous|
Thread started: Jul 6 2008, 4:07 PM EDT Watch
Good information. Really very old religion!
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