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Thoughts on Zoroastrianism

Rival

Si m'ait Dieus
Staff member
Premium Member
If you go back to the Gathas, there was no dualism. Zarathustra taught that God created two spirits, one of whom rebelled. Later believers confused the Good Spirit who remained faithful with God and ended up with the idea of two equal spirits.

He also acknowledged the existence of subordinate divinities: " We worship Ahura Mazda and his Spirits; we worship the entire creation of God, bother the spiritual and the physical." (Yasna 35) So, not the same sort of monotheism as Islam, or even Christianity.

One passage that Aupmanyav might find interesting is Yasna 37.1 where we are told that God created "the cow and the righteous man" -- note the order of precedence.

Reading the Gathas is terribly difficult, because there's no literature of the same period to clarify the meanings of words. We can compare Avestan to Vedic Sanskrit, but for Cyrus, it would have been like a modern trying to read Old English without a grammar or dictionary: God ana wat hwa þære wæstowe wealdan mote! (i.e. God alone knows how things will turn out.)

How can you talk about Gathic Zoroastrianism then reference Yasna 37? There are only 17 hymns. Also, I'd like the Gathic quote for this:

"...Zarathustra taught that God created two spirits, one of whom rebelled..."

Thanks.
 

Aupmanyav

Be your own guru
Wikipedia tells me that Gathas are supposed to have been composed by Zarathrustra himself. In that case, I will look for the older material in Yasna. Your view Rival?

Yes, @ DavidMcCann, there is mention of kine just like in the way it is mentioned in the Vedas (Chatushpada and Dwipada - the four-legged and the two-legged). They whole Yasna 37 rings close to RigVeda. IMHO, it is an older text. If I were to search RigVeda, I can find an exact replica.
 
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Rival

Si m'ait Dieus
Staff member
Premium Member
Wikipedia tells me that Gathas are supposed to have been composed by Zarathrustra himself. In that case, I will look for the older material in Yasna. Your view Rival?

The Yasna contains the Gathas, but is not synonymous with them.

Here's how Wiki looks at it, for a basic rundown:

Yasna 1-27.12
Yasna 27.13-27.15: three of the four of the most sacred Zoroastrian prayers
Yasna 28-34: Gatha 1
Yasna 35-41: the "seven-chapter Yasna"
Yasna 43-51,53: Gathas 2-5 (chapters 43-46, 47-50, 51 and 53)
Yasna 54.1: fourth of four of the most sacred Zoroastrian prayers
Yasna 54.2-72

I believe that Zarathustra wrote the Gathas and as a Reform Zoro, pretty much just read those.
 

GoodbyeDave

Well-Known Member
Also, I'd like the Gathic quote for this:

"...Zarathushtra taught that God created two spirits, one of whom rebelled..."
I confess I'm relying on my memory of a study made many years ago, and I can't rush off to the library to find a quotation. It is an interpretation, of course, and it seems more likely (at least to me) to be consistent with the tone of the Gathas than the dualism resulting from equating Ahura Mazda and Spənta Mainyu. But I'm prepared to defer to you: you're the Zoroastrian, after all.
 
Heya folks! =) I have to admit that prior to finding this forum, I never even knew that Zoroastrianism ever existed. It seems to me, after looking into it some, that Gathic Zoroastrianism reflects many of my own personal beliefs/ideas about God. I do have some questions, though...

From what I understand, Zoroastrians have a strong reverence for truth. Truth comes from Ahura Mazda, and lies come from Ahriman (or do I have that wrong?). What about white lies, or lies told for the greater good/with good intention? Even if they result in making a bad situation better, or are meant to protect people from undue harm that the brutal truth would inflict, are they still an evil thing?

Also, from what I read, there are 3 staple principles of Zoroastrianism. Good thoughts, good words, and good deeds. I love this... =) From what I also read, there are a lot of rituals associated with this religion... I guess I'm wondering if there are many Dogmas or rules that must be kept with this religion, or is it really just as simple as those 3 ideas?

It seems, according to some Christian sources that I've read, that they think that the wise men who brought gifts to Jesus at his birth were Zoroastrian Magi. I know that's kind of an odd thing to bring up, but I'm wondering how you folks (as Zoroastrians) feel about this. Not sure I believe any of that, but it seems interesting to me that Zoroastrians would be mentioned in the Bible in such a reverent way (especially when they would be considered pagans by Christians).

Lastly, I understand that people of certain backgrounds aren't accepted as converts by Parsis. What about Iranian Zoroastrians? Also, what about Parsi communities in America? Is acceptance into the community something that only "fringe" Gathic Zoroastrians practice?

Thanks! =)


Hello Corthos,
I don't get the whole concept of this religion. How did it started? and is the maker of this religion is a prophet? I understand that it have three priniciples and you worship one God. Who is the one God of Zoroastrianism? Do you have book to read? Do you practice any specific observance?

You have a creature like an angel and a creature like a devil , what the end of devil? or bad people?
Is there an afterdeath?
I told you that i have few questions but i didn't know that i have a lot. (^^).
 

Corthos

Great Old One
Hello Corthos,
I don't get the whole concept of this religion. How did it started? and is the maker of this religion is a prophet? I understand that it have three priniciples and you worship one God. Who is the one God of Zoroastrianism? Do you have book to read? Do you practice any specific observance?

You have a creature like an angel and a creature like a devil , what the end of devil? or bad people?
Is there an afterdeath?
I told you that i have few questions but i didn't know that i have a lot. (^^).

Those are a lot of questions with very long answers. XD I will try to keep my answers as short as I can! Before I can answer your questions, however, there are some things you need to know first.

Though similar to Abrahamic religions, Zoroastrianism actually shares roots with Hinduism. Keep in mind, this is an Eastern religion at it's heart. =)

There are several denominations of this religion. There are Gathic (sometimes called reformist) Zoroastrians, Parsis, and Traditionalists (sometimes called Orthodox).

Also keep in mind that my answers are my own, and others (especially Parsis) might give you a different answer. With that in mind, let's answer your questions! =)

How did it started?

There is a lot of mystery surrounding this... With someone who lived 3000-3500 years ago, there are plenty of myths and legends surrounding Asho Zarathushtra and his message; there are some things we know for sure due to the Gathas, though.

Firstly, he lived during a time where people worshiped many gods (Daevas and Ahuras). After years of thoughtful inquisition and contemplation of life, he came to a realization that there is one source of divinity - one god. The title he thought most fitting for this god was Ahura (masculine - meaning Lord) Mazda (feminine - meaning Wisdom). In essence, this is the first known instance of a Monotheistic god, as far as we know. According to Zarathushtra, this god embodies many attributes such as Asha (the true and right order of everything - righteousness), Spenta Mainyu (progressive/creative thought), Vohu Manah (good purpose/Intent), etc etc. Notice these concepts aren't out of reach for people as well... They are good things to strive for. =)

Needless to say, the priests and corrupt leaders of the time weren't too happy with his message, so he faced of a lot of persecution from them... He eventually was granted audience with King Vishtaspa, however, and the king was so impressed with Asho Zarathushtra's message that he converted to The Good Religion (the original name of Zoroastrianism). From there it spread. =)

and is the maker of this religion is a prophet?

Yes - but depending on who you talk to, the definition varies.

To many Gathic Zoroastrian like me, he was a philosopher, a teacher, and a guide. It's much more of an eastern concept, similar to a Guru, or the Buddha. =)

To many Traditionalists and Parsis, he was a miracle worker similar to prophets of the Torah/Bible/Quran.

I understand that it have three priniciples and you worship one God. Who is the one God of Zoroastrianism?

Ahura Mazda. =) He/she demonstrates both masculine and feminine qualities, but Ahura Mazda is formless. There are some similarities that Ahura Mazda has with Yahweh/God/Allah, but there are many differences as well... One difference being that Ahura Mazda doesn't require service to him/her; what matters ultimately are our thoughts, words, and deeds. A thoughtful and compassionate atheist is of more value to Ahura Mazda than a thoughtless and selfish Zoroastrian. He/she wouldn't judge that atheist for his lack of faith, or even his contempt (if he was an antitheist).

There's a lot more to Ahura Mazda than that, but that's a lot of info for one post, so I will leave it at that. XD If you want more specific info, though, please feel free to ask!

Do you have book to read?

Yup! Quite a few, in fact. We have the Zend Avesta (which contains the Yasna, Yasts, Vendidad, etc etc) and the Pahlavi texts. Inside the Yasna section of the Avesta are the Gathas - the original songs written by Asho Zarathushtra himself. The Yasna section was written some 600-900 years later, and though I do find value in it, it isn't nearly as important or accurate as the Gathas. Some of the other texts are controversial (such as the Vendidad), so none except the most conservative Traditionalists/Parsis take those too seriously.

There are many other texts that were lost as well due to the invasions of Alexander the great and Muslims during the early days of Islam.

Do you practice any specific observance?

Yes we do! We have holidays such as Nowruz. Many of us (Especially Traditionalists) pray 5 times a day, but instead of facing Mecca, we face an open flame (a sacred symbol that represents many things including light, warmth, and the good workings and energy of Ahura Mazda). We have ancient mantras that have been recited for many thousands of years as well... Both in English and the old Avestan language (but I do prefer the old Avestan mantras). There are many rituals practiced by the Traditionalists and the Parsis, but Gathic Zoroastrians don't tend to practice those very much at all.

You have a creature like an angel and a creature like a devil , what the end of devil?

Actually, those are misconceptions. XD Traditionalists and Parsis have creatures like angels (the Amesha Spentas) and devils (the Daevas). Instead of Shaitan, they have Ahriman.

For Gathic Zoroastrians, we have Spenta Mainyu (Progressive/creative thought) and Angrah Mainyu (regressive/restrictive thought). There is no devil character for me... Just me battling my inner demons. =) I know it's not as exciting, but this is one reason why Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds are so important. Instead of fighting a supernatural battle of light and darkness, it's facing situations and choosing wisely with every choice I am presented with in life.

or bad people?
Is there an afterdeath?

We believe there's an afterlife, but again, there are differences.

Traditionalists/Parsis believe in a physical paradise/hell, while Gathic Zoroastrians believe in a state of mind.

I believe we will be our own judges. What I mean by that is that if we are in an unhealthy state of mind in life, we will continue to dwell in our unhealthiness in death.... If we are happy and healthy in life, we will exist in this state upon death. All Zoroastrians believe that eventually "hell" will end, though. All souls will eventually be healed and purified, and they will join their brothers and sisters in the end.

I hope that helps! I'd like to remind you again that I'm just speaking for myself; I'm not a Zoroastrian expert, just a Zoroastrian newb. ;)
 
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Ahura (masculine - meaning Lord) Mazda (feminine - meaning Wisdom). In essence, this is the first known instance of a Monotheistic god, as far as we know. According to Zarathushtra, this god embodies many attributes such as Asha (the true and right order of everything - righteousness), Spenta Mainyu (progressive/creative thought), Vohu Manah (good purpose/Intent), etc etc.


In my religion we have 99 names of Allah that people known of, and the unknown is uncounted

Some of them are the wise, the creative, the utterly just or the judge, and the all aware, and etc.

Do you also think that Islam is taking its belief from Zoroastrianism?
 

The Emperor of Mankind

Currently the galaxy's spookiest paraplegic
Do you also think that Islam is taking its belief from Zoroastrianism?

There will no doubt be such influences in there somewhere. After all, Arabia was a place where four religious systems: Arabian Paganism, Christianity, Judaism & Zoroastrianism (albeit in its Zurvanite form, thanks to the Sassanids) all met & mixed with one another.
 

Corthos

Great Old One
In my religion we have 99 names of Allah that people known of, and the unknown is uncounted

Some of them are the wise, the creative, the utterly just or the judge, and the all aware, and etc.

Do you also think that Islam is taking its belief from Zoroastrianism?

Ahura Mazda is a title more than a name, IMO. It simply, but aptly, means Wise Lord. I've referred to Ahura Mazda as "God" and "Lord" through prayer at times (mostly due to my Christian understandings/roots), and I'd be comfortable referring to him/her in any other ways I'd find that was respectful, as well. I'm sure you feel the same about Allah. =)

As for Islam taking it's beliefs from Zoroastrianism, I think that some things have been adopted. For example, the Jizya tax is very similar to a tax imposed by the Zoroastrians of the Sassanian era (this era was in effect during the time of Muhammad). At the same time, however, I feel Zoroastrians borrowed heavily from other religions of the area as time went on. Zoroastrianism practiced during the later time of the Sassanian empire was MUCH different (with the Jizya style tax) than Zoroastrianism practiced during the earlier Achaemenid empire (which was much more inviting of other religious groups, and even helped them - such as when they helped the Jews rebuild their great temple after releasing them from Babylonian oppression and slavery).

I'm not sure how many things Islam borrowed from Zoroastrianism exactly... I should check and see what other similarities there are. After all, as @A Greased Scotsman says, the people of the four major religions of the time met and mixed with one another. I'm sure the similarities aren't accidents. =)
 
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