As a religion, and a culture, Zoroastrianism has an almost 3,000 year contiguous history.  It was the religion of prehistoric Persians, then of 3 sequential Persian empires - Among the greatest empires of the world.  

*

The maji of the early Jesus stories may have been Zoroastrians.  (How this fits into development of the legend of a possibly fictional Jesus is complicated to speculate).

*

Freddy Mercury was Zoroastrian (his birth name was Farrokh Bulsara.  He was born in Zanzibar).  

*

Today, there are Zoroastrian communities in Iran and India, separated by a millenium after Zoroastrians emigrated from Islam-conquered Persia, or went to isolated mountain communities in Iran.  There is also a Zoroastrian community in California, with it's own web site.  Zoroastrianism influences Masonic tradition.  I wonder if it influences Mormonism, beyond the underlying theology of monotheism, duality of good and evil, etc, especially given the white garment worn from early life (see the video below)

*

The name "Zarathustra" (Zaraϑuštra) is considered closer to the original name for Zoroaster.  Zoroaster was the prophet of Zoroastrianism, in a sense similar to Mohammed being the prophet for Islam.  The name Zoroaster" appears to be a Greek variation.

*

The great god, supreme being, of Zoroastrianism is Ahura Mazda.  If that seems familiar to Western and Japanese people, there is a reason.  From the Mazda website:  The company’s name, “Mazda,” derives from Ahura Mazda, a god of the earliest civilizations in western Asia. We have interpreted Ahura Mazda, the god of wisdom, intelligence and harmony, as a symbol of the origin of both Eastern and Western civilizations, and also as a symbol of automotive culture. It incorporates a desire to achieve world peace and the development of the automobile manufacturing industry...."  Given the small # of extant Zoroastrians, this is probably a safe choice.  Much better than driving a "Yahweh", for example.

*

As a exploration of Zoroastrianism, this post will identify features of the culture and religion, its evolution, its influence as the parent or grandparent of religious life for 3 billion people today, and other characteristics that will make the readers and contributers to this forum, the life of their family gatherings and social interactions.

*

Contemporary Zoroastrian worship in Iran (embed is disabled).  video.  This community is the direct descendent of millenia of Zoroastrianism.  

*

The Zoroastrian Journey.  This is a bit propagandistic, but seems accurate based on essentially all of the references I have found so far, and is nicely displayed and described.

*

*

A story about a Parsi (Indian Zoroastrian) in India, and why the #s are declining - at least in part due to self-destructive religious rules.  This story humanizes Zoroastrians, making them less mysterious because there really are such people and they have real lives.  

*

 

*

More to follow in comments.  This is intended to be an exploration, and is somewhat free flowing.  The imagery, cosmology, theology, philosophy, ethnicity, will be discussed.

Views: 682

Replies to This Discussion

I'm enjoying reading the post and watching the vids -thanks I'm learning a lot I didn't know before.

Steph, thank you. I am learning a lot on here as well!

The main characters of Zoroastrianism - starting with Zoroaster

*

The first to mention is Zoroaster himself.  Did he exist as far as having been a muscle-and-bones physical person?  No one can know for certain.  The information here is based on the Zoroastrian faith.

(This image from fravahr.org)

Zoroaster would more correctly be called "Zarathustra".  However, most of the literature uses the term Zoroaster.  The more common name derives from what the ancient Greeks called them (Zoroaster is based on the Greek: Ζωροάστρη). Sort of like we call Germany, Germany, but Germans call it Deutschland.

*

Zoroaster's life is so shrouded in mystery, it's not even clear what millenium he lived in.  Ages range from 400 BC to 6000 BCE.   Alexander the Great conquered a Zoroastrian empire, so the religion was flourishing at that time 330 BCE.  It was thought then that Zoroaster lived at least 300 years before that.  However, the linguistics of Zoroaster's writings are in a far more ancient style, possibly as far back as 16th century BCE.

*

Some details about Zoroaster. here

*

Zoroaster lived either in Northern Persia (Iran) or Afganistan.

*

At around 30 years old, Zoroaster "went into seclusion to seek out religious insight, which eventually came to him as divine revelation from Ahura Mazda"  Zoroaster had a divine vision whilst bathing in a river during a pagan purification rite. On the bank of the river he saw a 'Shining Being' made of light who revealed himself as Vohu Manah ('Good Mind')

*

Zoroaster wrestled with daevas and was tempted by Angra Mainyu to renounce his faith.  Daevas are demons, and Angra Mainyu is a satan-like being of great power.

*

Zoroaster wrote the 2 holy books of Zoroastrianism, the Yasna Haptanghaiti and the Gathas, hymns (Psalms?).  Apparently, Alexander the Great's armies destroyed the Zoroastrian library, so existing books are only a fragment of the information that existed before his time.  Sort of like the Spanish invaders destroyed the libraries of the Mayans.

*

Zoroaster's birth story might remind you a bit of someone else's birth story.  Zoroaster's mother, Dughda, dreamed that spirits fought for control of the baby while he was still in her womb. Zoroaster was born laughing.  . "The local king wished to kill the baby because he presented a possible future threat, but the assassin's hand was paralyzed before he could kill the child. The cattle the king sent to trample Zoroaster didn't hurt him. Miracles didn't end with his birth. It is thought that Zoroaster will return one day to be the savior or saoshyant."

*

hmmmm....

*

This is the most common modern depiction of Zoroaster.

Zoroaster

*

As an aside, from wikipedia,  Nietzsche used the idea of Zarathustra to describe for Nietzsche's own ideas against morality. Nietzsche did so because...Zarathustra was a moralist... "in his teachings alone is truthfulness upheld as the highest virtue." Zarathustra "created" morality in being the first to reveal it, "first to see in the struggle between good and evil the essential wheel in the working of things." Nietzsche sought to overcome the morality of Zarathustra by using the Zarathustrian virtue of truthfulness; thus Nietzsche found it piquant to have his Zarathustra character voice the arguments against morality.


from an 18th century manuscript, Zoroaster, Clavis Artis.

*

also

Richard Strauss's Opus 30, inspired by Nietzsche's book, is also called Also sprach Zarathustra. Its opening theme, which corresponds to the book's prologue, was used to score the opening sequence of Stanley Kubrick's movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.  (If you think that black thing is an iphone, you need to watch the movie!)

*

back to Zoroaster, apparently he was murdered at the altar by the Turanians in the storming of Balkh. (I know another story there)

*

The best analogy that I can think of for Zoroaster is Mohammed, although possibly also Buddha.  Zoroaster was human, not a god, but became a prophet of god.  He brought to his culture a vision of a monotheistic god, the concepts of good and evil, the perpetual battles between good and evil, and eventual victory for good.  It is possible that the stories of Zoroaster are accumulated legends that coalesced around one character and his story.  For his followers today, he was real.

RSS

Support Atheist Nexus

Donate Today

Donate

 

Help Nexus When You Buy From Amazon

Amazon

AJY

 

Latest Activity

Susan Stanko replied to Sentient Biped's discussion What will happen if Scotland Succeeds from the UK?
12 minutes ago
Plinius replied to MattyLJ's discussion Are you clean and organized?
56 minutes ago
Plinius commented on Little Name Atheist's group Atheist Ailurophiles
1 hour ago
Plinius commented on Sentient Biped's group Food!
1 hour ago
Neanderthal Man replied to Napoleon Bonaparte's discussion Viking Trance in the group Les Athées Napoléonienne
2 hours ago
Neanderthal Man posted a video

Viking Trance - The Spyda Web from Napoleon Bonaparte on Vimeo.

Viking Trance - The Spyda Web

Music by Viking Trance with video artwork and editing by Napoleon Bonaparte. Smart Dog Video London (UK) 2014. Viking Trance Radio www.vikingtrance.com Viking Trance buy link
2 hours ago
Man boob posted a status
"CHECK OUT THE SONGS I UPLOADED ON MY PROFILE WOOOOOOOOO"
3 hours ago
Man boob posted songs
3 hours ago
Rick posted a blog post
3 hours ago
Rick posted a status
"Pondering....pondering......pondering...."
3 hours ago
Jonathan Tweet replied to Freethinker31's discussion Are Atheists too judgmental??
4 hours ago
Joan Denoo commented on Joan Denoo's blog post I am offended
5 hours ago

© 2014   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service