Zoroastrianism

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Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is one of the world's oldest continuously practiced religions. Zoroastrianism_sentence_0

It is a multi-faceted faith centered on a dualistic cosmology of good and evil and an eschatology predicting the ultimate conquest of evil with theological elements of henotheism, monotheism/monism, and polytheism. Zoroastrianism_sentence_1

Ascribed to the teachings of the Iranian-speaking spiritual leader Zoroaster (also known as Zarathustra), it exalts an uncreated and benevolent deity of wisdom, Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord), as its supreme being. Zoroastrianism_sentence_2

Historical features of Zoroastrianism, such as messianism, judgment after death, heaven and hell, and free will may have influenced other religious and philosophical systems, including Second Temple Judaism, Gnosticism, Greek philosophy, Christianity, Islam, the Baháʼí Faith, and Buddhism. Zoroastrianism_sentence_3

With possible roots dating back to the second millennium BCE, Zoroastrianism enters recorded history in the 5th century BCE. Zoroastrianism_sentence_4

It served as the state religion of the ancient Iranian empires for more than a millennium, from around 600 BCE to 650 CE, but declined from the 7th century onwards following the Muslim conquest of Persia of 633–654. Zoroastrianism_sentence_5

Recent estimates place the current number of Zoroastrians at around 110,000–120,000 at most with the majority living in India, Iran, and North America; their number has been thought to be declining. Zoroastrianism_sentence_6

The most important texts of the religion are those of the Avesta, which includes as central the writings of Zoroaster known as the Gathas, enigmatic ritual poems that define the religion's precepts, which is within Yasna, the main worship service of modern Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrianism_sentence_7

The religious philosophy of Zoroaster divided the early Iranian gods of the Proto-Indo-Iranian tradition into ahuras and daevas, the latter of which were not considered worthy of worship. Zoroastrianism_sentence_8

Zoroaster proclaimed that Ahura Mazda was the supreme creator, the creative and sustaining force of the universe through Asha, and that human beings are given a right of choice between supporting Ahura Mazda or not, making them responsible for their choices. Zoroastrianism_sentence_9

Though Ahura Mazda has no equal contesting force, Angra Mainyu (destructive spirit/mentality), whose forces are born from Aka Manah (evil thought), is considered the main adversarial force of the religion, standing against Spenta Mainyu (creative spirit/mentality). Zoroastrianism_sentence_10

Middle Persian literature developed Angra Mainyu further into Ahriman and advancing him to be the direct adversary to Ahura Mazda. Zoroastrianism_sentence_11

In Zoroastrianism, Asha (truth, cosmic order), the life force that originates from Ahura Mazda, stands in opposition to Druj (falsehood, deceit) and Ahura Mazda is considered to be all-good with no evil emanating from the deity. Zoroastrianism_sentence_12

Ahura Mazda works in gētīg (the visible material realm) and mēnōg (the invisible spiritual and mental realm) through the seven (six when excluding Spenta Mainyu) Amesha Spentas (the direct emanations of Ahura Mazda) and the host of other Yazatas (literally meaning "worthy of worship"), who all worship Ahura Mazda in the Avesta and other texts and who Ahura Mazda requests worship towards in the same texts. Zoroastrianism_sentence_13

Zoroastrianism is not uniform in theological and philosophical thought, especially with historical and modern influences having a significant impact on individual and local beliefs, practices, values and vocabulary, sometimes merging with tradition and in other cases displacing it. Zoroastrianism_sentence_14

Modern Zoroastrianism, however, tends to divide itself into either Reformist or Traditionalist camps with various smaller movements arising. Zoroastrianism_sentence_15

In Zoroastrianism, the purpose in life is to become an Ashavan (a master of Asha) and to bring happiness into the world, which contributes to the cosmic battle against evil. Zoroastrianism_sentence_16

Zoroastrianism's core teachings include: Zoroastrianism_sentence_17

Zoroastrianism_unordered_list_0

  • Follow the Threefold Path of Asha: Humata, Huxta, Huvarshta (Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds).Zoroastrianism_item_0_0
  • Charity is a way of maintaining one's soul aligned to Asha and to spread happiness.Zoroastrianism_item_0_1
  • The spiritual equality and duty of the genders.Zoroastrianism_item_0_2
  • Being good for the sake of goodness and without the hope of reward (see Ashem Vohu).Zoroastrianism_item_0_3

Terminology Zoroastrianism_section_0

The name Zoroaster (Ζωροάστηρ) is a Greek rendering of the Avestan name Zarathustra. Zoroastrianism_sentence_18

He is known as Zartosht and Zardosht in Persian and Zaratosht in Gujarati. Zoroastrianism_sentence_19

The Zoroastrian name of the religion is Mazdayasna, which combines Mazda- with the Avestan word yasna, meaning "worship, devotion". Zoroastrianism_sentence_20

In English, an adherent of the faith is commonly called a Zoroastrian or a Zarathustrian. Zoroastrianism_sentence_21

An older expression still used today is Behdin, meaning "The best religion | beh < Middle Persian weh ‘good’ + din < Middle Persian dēn < Avestan daēnā". Zoroastrianism_sentence_22

In Zoroastrian liturgy the term is used as a title for an individual who has been formally inducted into the religion in a Navjote ceremony. Zoroastrianism_sentence_23

The first surviving reference to Zoroaster in English scholarship is attributed to Thomas Browne (1605–1682), who briefly refers to Zoroaster in his 1643 Religio Medici. Zoroastrianism_sentence_24

The term Mazdaism (/ˈmæzdə.ɪzəm/) is an alternative form in English used as well for the faith, taking Mazda- from the name Ahura Mazda and adding the suffix -ism to suggest a belief system. Zoroastrianism_sentence_25

Overview Zoroastrianism_section_1

Theology Zoroastrianism_section_2

Zoroastrians believe that there is one universal, transcendent, all-good, and uncreated supreme creator deity, Ahura Mazda, or the "Wise Lord". Zoroastrianism_sentence_26

(Ahura meaning "Lord" and Mazda meaning "Wisdom" in Avestan). Zoroastrianism_sentence_27

Zoroaster keeps the two attributes separate as two different concepts in most of the Gathas yet sometimes combines them into one form. Zoroastrianism_sentence_28

Zoroaster also claims that Ahura Mazda is omniscient but not omnipotent. Zoroastrianism_sentence_29

In the Gathas, Ahura Mazda is noted as working through emanations known as the Amesha Spenta and with the help of "other ahuras", of which Sraosha is the only one explicitly named of the latter category. Zoroastrianism_sentence_30

Scholars and theologians have long debated on the nature of Zoroastrianism, with dualism, monotheism, and polytheism being the main terms applied to the religion. Zoroastrianism_sentence_31

Some scholars assert that Zoroastrianism's concept of divinity covers both being and mind as immanent entities, describing Zoroastrianism as having a belief in an immanent self-creating universe with consciousness as its special attribute, thereby putting Zoroastrianism in the pantheistic fold sharing its origin with Indian Brahmanism. Zoroastrianism_sentence_32

In any case, Asha, the main spiritual force which comes from Ahura Mazda, is the cosmic order which is the antithesis of chaos, which is evident as druj, falsehood and disorder. Zoroastrianism_sentence_33

The resulting cosmic conflict involves all of creation, mental/spiritual and material, including humanity at its core, which has an active role to play in the conflict. Zoroastrianism_sentence_34

In the Zoroastrian tradition, druj comes from Angra Mainyu (also referred to in later texts as "Ahriman"), the destructive spirit/mentality, while the main representative of Asha in this conflict is Spenta Mainyu, the creative spirit/mentality. Zoroastrianism_sentence_35

Ahura Mazda is immanent in humankind and interacts with creation through emanations known as the Amesha Spenta, the bounteous/holy immortals, which are representative and guardians of different aspects of creation and the ideal personality. Zoroastrianism_sentence_36

Ahura Mazda, through these Amesha Spenta, is assisted by a league of countless divinities called Yazatas, meaning "worthy of worship", and each is generally a hypostasis of a moral or physical aspect of creation. Zoroastrianism_sentence_37

According to Zoroastrian cosmology, in articulating the Ahuna Vairya formula, Ahura Mazda made the ultimate triumph of good against Angra Mainyu evident. Zoroastrianism_sentence_38

Ahura Mazda will ultimately prevail over the evil Angra Mainyu, at which point reality will undergo a cosmic renovation called Frashokereti and limited time will end. Zoroastrianism_sentence_39

In the final renovation, all of creation—even the souls of the dead that were initially banished to or chose to descend into "darkness"—will be reunited with Ahura Mazda in the Kshatra Vairya (meaning "best dominion"), being resurrected to immortality. Zoroastrianism_sentence_40

In Middle Persian literature, the prominent belief was that at the end of time a savior-figure known as the Saoshyant would bring about the Frashokereti, while in the Gathic texts the term Saoshyant (meaning "one who brings benefit") referred to all believers of Mazdayasna but changed into a messianic concept in later writings. Zoroastrianism_sentence_41

Zoroastrian theology includes foremost the importance of following the Threefold Path of Asha revolving around Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds. Zoroastrianism_sentence_42

There is also a heavy emphasis on spreading happiness, mostly through charity, and respecting the spiritual equality and duty of the genders. Zoroastrianism_sentence_43

Zoroastrianism's emphasis on the protection and veneration of nature and its elements has led some to proclaim it as the "world's first proponent of ecology." Zoroastrianism_sentence_44

The Avesta and other texts call for the protection of water, earth, fire and air making it, in effect, an ecological religion: "It is not surprising that Mazdaism…is called the first ecological religion. Zoroastrianism_sentence_45

The reverence for Yazatas (divine spirits) emphasizes the preservation of nature (Avesta: Yasnas 1.19, 3.4, 16.9; Yashts 6.3–4, 10.13)." Zoroastrianism_sentence_46

However, this particular assertion is undermined by the fact that early Zoroastrians had a duty to exterminate "evil" species, a dictate no longer followed in modern Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrianism_sentence_47

Practices Zoroastrianism_section_3

The religion states that active and ethical participation in life through good deeds formed from good thoughts and good words is necessary to ensure happiness and to keep chaos at bay. Zoroastrianism_sentence_48

This active participation is a central element in Zoroaster's concept of free will and Zoroastrianism as such rejects extreme forms of asceticism and monasticism but historically has allowed for moderate expressions of these concepts. Zoroastrianism_sentence_49

In Zoroastrian tradition, life is a temporary state in which a mortal is expected to actively participate in the continuing battle between Asha and Druj. Zoroastrianism_sentence_50

Prior to being born, the urvan (soul) of an individual is still united with its fravashi (personal/higher spirit), which has existed since Ahura Mazda created the universe. Zoroastrianism_sentence_51

The fravashi before the urvan's split act as aids in the maintenance of creation with Ahura Mazda. Zoroastrianism_sentence_52

During life, the fravashi act as aspirational concepts, spiritual protectors, and the fravashi of bloodline, cultural, and spiritual ancestors and heroes are venerated and can be called upon for aid. Zoroastrianism_sentence_53

On the fourth day after death, the urvan is reunited with its fravashi, in which the experiences of life in the material world are collected for the continuing battle in the spiritual world. Zoroastrianism_sentence_54

For the most part, Zoroastrianism does not have a notion of reincarnation, at least not until the Frashokereti. Zoroastrianism_sentence_55

Followers of Ilm-e-Kshnoom in India believe in reincarnation and practice vegetarianism, among other currently non-traditional opinions, although there have been various theological statements supporting vegetarianism in Zoroastrianism's history and claims that Zoroaster was vegetarian. Zoroastrianism_sentence_56

In Zoroastrianism, water (aban) and fire (atar) are agents of ritual purity, and the associated purification ceremonies are considered the basis of ritual life. Zoroastrianism_sentence_57

In Zoroastrian cosmogony, water and fire are respectively the second and last primordial elements to have been created, and scripture considers fire to have its origin in the waters. Zoroastrianism_sentence_58

Both water and fire are considered life-sustaining, and both water and fire are represented within the precinct of a fire temple. Zoroastrianism_sentence_59

Zoroastrians usually pray in the presence of some form of fire (which can be considered evident in any source of light), and the culminating rite of the principal act of worship constitutes a "strengthening of the waters". Zoroastrianism_sentence_60

Fire is considered a medium through which spiritual insight and wisdom are gained, and water is considered the source of that wisdom. Zoroastrianism_sentence_61

Both fire and water are also hypostasized as the Yazatas Atar and Anahita, which worship hymns and litanies dedicated to them. Zoroastrianism_sentence_62

A corpse is considered a host for decay, i.e., of druj. Zoroastrianism_sentence_63

Consequently, scripture enjoins the safe disposal of the dead in a manner such that a corpse does not pollute the good creation. Zoroastrianism_sentence_64

These injunctions are the doctrinal basis of the fast-fading traditional practice of ritual exposure, most commonly identified with the so-called Towers of Silence for which there is no standard technical term in either scripture or tradition. Zoroastrianism_sentence_65

Ritual exposure is currently mainly practiced by Zoroastrian communities of the Indian subcontinent, in locations where it is not illegal and diclofenac poisoning has not led to the virtual extinction of scavenger birds. Zoroastrianism_sentence_66

Other Zoroastrian communities either cremate their dead, or bury them in graves that are cased with lime mortar, though Zoroastrians are keen to dispose of their dead in the most environmental way possible. Zoroastrianism_sentence_67

While the Parsees in India have traditionally since the 19th century been opposed to proselytizing, and even considered it a crime for which the culprit may face expulsion, Iranian Zoroastrians have never been opposed to conversion, and the practice has been endorsed by the Council of Mobeds of Tehran. Zoroastrianism_sentence_68

While the Iranian authorities do not permit proselytizing within Iran, Iranian Zoroastrians in exile have actively encouraged missionary activities, with the Zarathushtrian Assembly in Los Angeles and the International Zoroastrian Centre in Paris as two prominent organizations and the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America being in favor of conversion and welcoming to converts. Zoroastrianism_sentence_69

Converts from both traditionally Persian and non-Persian ethnicities have even been welcomed at international events, even attending and speaking at events such as the World Zoroastrian Congress and the World Zoroastrian Youth Congress. Zoroastrianism_sentence_70

Zoroastrians are encouraged to marry others of the same faith, but this is not a requirement outside of traditionalist communities where it is strictly enforced in regards to women marrying outside of the faith but not men. Zoroastrianism_sentence_71

History Zoroastrianism_section_4

Classical antiquity Zoroastrianism_section_5

See also: Western Perceptions of Zoroastrianism Zoroastrianism_sentence_72

The roots of Zoroastrianism are thought to have emerged from a common prehistoric Indo-Iranian religious system dating back to the early 2nd millennium BCE. Zoroastrianism_sentence_73

The prophet Zoroaster himself, though traditionally dated to the 6th century BCE, is thought by many modern historians to have been a reformer of the polytheistic Iranian religion who lived in the 10th century BCE. Zoroastrianism_sentence_74

Zoroastrianism as a religion was not firmly established until several centuries later. Zoroastrianism_sentence_75

Zoroastrianism enters recorded history in the mid-5th century BCE. Zoroastrianism_sentence_76

Herodotus' The Histories (completed c. 440 BCE) includes a description of Greater Iranian society with what may be recognizably Zoroastrian features, including exposure of the dead. Zoroastrianism_sentence_77

The Histories is a primary source of information on the early period of the Achaemenid era (648–330 BCE), in particular with respect to the role of the Magi. Zoroastrianism_sentence_78

According to Herodotus, the Magi were the sixth tribe of the Medes (until the unification of the Persian empire under Cyrus the Great, all Iranians were referred to as "Mede" or "Mada" by the peoples of the Ancient World) and wielded considerable influence at the courts of the Median emperors. Zoroastrianism_sentence_79

Following the unification of the Median and Persian empires in 550 BCE, Cyrus the Great and later his son Cambyses II curtailed the powers of the Magi after they had attempted to sow dissent following their loss of influence. Zoroastrianism_sentence_80

In 522 BCE, the Magi revolted and set up a rival claimant to the throne. Zoroastrianism_sentence_81

The usurper, pretending to be Cyrus' younger son Smerdis, took power shortly thereafter. Zoroastrianism_sentence_82

Owing to the despotic rule of Cambyses and his long absence in Egypt, "the whole people, Persians, Medes and all the other nations" acknowledged the usurper, especially as he granted a remission of taxes for three years. Zoroastrianism_sentence_83

Darius I and later Achaemenid emperors acknowledged their devotion to Ahura Mazda in inscriptions, as attested to several times in the Behistun inscription, and appear to have continued the model of coexistence with other religions. Zoroastrianism_sentence_84

Whether Darius was a follower of the teachings of Zoroaster has not been conclusively established as there is no indication of note that worship of Ahura Mazda was exclusively a Zoroastrian practice. Zoroastrianism_sentence_85

According to later Zoroastrian legend (Denkard and the Book of Arda Viraf), many sacred texts were lost when Alexander the Great's troops invaded Persepolis and subsequently destroyed the royal library there. Zoroastrianism_sentence_86

Diodorus Siculus's Bibliotheca historica, which was completed circa 60 BCE, appears to substantiate this Zoroastrian legend. Zoroastrianism_sentence_87

According to one archaeological examination, the ruins of the palace of Xerxes bear traces of having been burned. Zoroastrianism_sentence_88

Whether a vast collection of (semi-)religious texts "written on parchment in gold ink", as suggested by the Denkard, actually existed remains a matter of speculation, but it is unlikely. Zoroastrianism_sentence_89

Alexander's conquests largely displaced Zoroastrianism with Hellenistic beliefs, though the religion continued to be practiced many centuries following the demise of the Achaemenids in mainland Persia and the core regions of the former Achaemenid Empire, most notably Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and the Caucasus. Zoroastrianism_sentence_90

In the Cappadocian kingdom, whose territory was formerly an Achaemenid possession, Persian colonists, cut off from their co-religionists in Iran proper, continued to practice the faith [Zoroastrianism] of their forefathers; and there Strabo, observing in the first century B.C., records (XV.3.15) that these "fire kindlers" possessed many "holy places of the Persian Gods", as well as fire temples. Zoroastrianism_sentence_91

Strabo further states that these were "noteworthy enclosures; and in their midst there is an altar, on which there is a large quantity of ashes and where the magi keep the fire ever burning." Zoroastrianism_sentence_92

It was not until the end of the Parthian period (247 b.c.–a.d. Zoroastrianism_sentence_93

224) that Zoroastrianism would receive renewed interest. Zoroastrianism_sentence_94

Late antiquity Zoroastrianism_section_6

As late as the Parthian period, a form of Zoroastrianism was without a doubt the dominant religion in the Armenian lands. Zoroastrianism_sentence_95

The Sassanids aggressively promoted the Zurvanite form of Zoroastrianism, often building fire temples in captured territories to promote the religion. Zoroastrianism_sentence_96

During the period of their centuries long suzerainty over the Caucasus, the Sassanids made attempts to promote Zoroastrianism there with considerable successes, and it was prominent in the pre-Christian Caucasus (especially modern-day Azerbaijan). Zoroastrianism_sentence_97

Due to its ties to the Christian Roman Empire, Persia's arch-rival since Parthian times, the Sassanids were suspicious of Roman Christianity, and after the reign of Constantine the Great, sometimes persecuted it. Zoroastrianism_sentence_98

The Sassanid authority clashed with their Armenian subjects in the Battle of Avarayr (a.d. 451), making them officially break with the Roman Church. Zoroastrianism_sentence_99

But the Sassanids tolerated or even sometimes favored the Christianity of the Church of the East. Zoroastrianism_sentence_100

The acceptance of Christianity in Georgia (Caucasian Iberia) saw the Zoroastrian religion there slowly but surely decline, but as late the 5th century a.d. it was still widely practised as something like a second established religion. Zoroastrianism_sentence_101

Decline in the Middle Ages Zoroastrianism_section_7

See also: Persecution of Zoroastrians Zoroastrianism_sentence_102

Most of the Sassanid Empire was overthrown by the Arabs over the course of 16 years in the 7th century. Zoroastrianism_sentence_103

Although the administration of the state was rapidly Islamicized and subsumed under the Umayyad Caliphate, in the beginning "there was little serious pressure" exerted on newly subjected people to adopt Islam. Zoroastrianism_sentence_104

Because of their sheer numbers, the conquered Zoroastrians had to be treated as dhimmis (despite doubts of the validity of this identification that persisted down the centuries), which made them eligible for protection. Zoroastrianism_sentence_105

Islamic jurists took the stance that only Muslims could be perfectly moral, but "unbelievers might as well be left to their iniquities, so long as these did not vex their overlords." Zoroastrianism_sentence_106

In the main, once the conquest was over and "local terms were agreed on", the Arab governors protected the local populations in exchange for tribute. Zoroastrianism_sentence_107

The Arabs adopted the Sassanid tax-system, both the land-tax levied on land owners and the poll-tax levied on individuals, called jizya, a tax levied on non-Muslims (i.e., the dhimmis). Zoroastrianism_sentence_108

In time, this poll-tax came to be used as a means to humble the non-Muslims, and a number of laws and restrictions evolved to emphasize their inferior status. Zoroastrianism_sentence_109

Under the early orthodox caliphs, as long as the non-Muslims paid their taxes and adhered to the dhimmi laws, administrators were enjoined to leave non-Muslims "in their religion and their land." Zoroastrianism_sentence_110

(Caliph Abu Bakr, qtd. Zoroastrianism_sentence_111

in , p. 146). Zoroastrianism_sentence_112

Under Abbasid rule, Muslim Iranians (who by then were in the majority) in many instances showed severe disregard for and mistreated local Zoroastrians. Zoroastrianism_sentence_113

For example, in the 9th century, a deeply venerated cypress tree in Khorasan (which Parthian-era legend supposed had been planted by Zoroaster himself) was felled for the construction of a palace in Baghdad, 2,000 miles (3,200 km) away. Zoroastrianism_sentence_114

In the 10th century, on the day that a Tower of Silence had been completed at much trouble and expense, a Muslim official contrived to get up onto it, and to call the adhan (the Muslim call to prayer) from its walls. Zoroastrianism_sentence_115

This was turned into a pretext to annex the building. Zoroastrianism_sentence_116

Ultimately, Muslim scholars like Al-Biruni found little records left of the belief of for instance the Khawarizmians because figures like Qutayba ibn Muslim "extinguished and ruined in every possible way all those who knew how to write and read the Khawarizmi writing, who knew the history of the country and who studied their sciences." Zoroastrianism_sentence_117

As a result, "these things are involved in so much obscurity that it is impossible to obtain an accurate knowledge of the history of the country since the time of Islam…" Zoroastrianism_sentence_118

Conversion Zoroastrianism_section_8

Though subject to a new leadership and harassment, the Zoroastrians were able to continue their former ways. Zoroastrianism_sentence_119

But there was a slow but steady social and economic pressure to convert. Zoroastrianism_sentence_120

The nobility and city-dwellers were the first to convert, with Islam more slowly being accepted among the peasantry and landed gentry. Zoroastrianism_sentence_121

"Power and worldly-advantage" now lay with followers of Islam, and although the "official policy was one of aloof contempt, there were individual Muslims eager to proselytize and ready to use all sorts of means to do so." Zoroastrianism_sentence_122

In time, a tradition evolved by which Islam was made to appear as a partly Iranian religion. Zoroastrianism_sentence_123

One example of this was a legend that Husayn, son of the fourth caliph Ali and grandson of Islam's prophet Muhammad, had married a captive Sassanid princess named Shahrbanu. Zoroastrianism_sentence_124

This "wholly fictitious figure" was said to have borne Husayn a son, the historical fourth Shi'a imam, who claimed that the caliphate rightly belonged to him and his descendants, and that the Umayyads had wrongfully wrested it from him. Zoroastrianism_sentence_125

The alleged descent from the Sassanid house counterbalanced the Arab nationalism of the Umayyads, and the Iranian national association with a Zoroastrian past was disarmed. Zoroastrianism_sentence_126

Thus, according to scholar Mary Boyce, "it was no longer the Zoroastrians alone who stood for patriotism and loyalty to the past." Zoroastrianism_sentence_127

The "damning indictment" that becoming Muslim was Un-Iranian only remained an idiom in Zoroastrian texts. Zoroastrianism_sentence_128

With Iranian support, the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads in 750, and in the subsequent caliphate government—that nominally lasted until 1258—Muslim Iranians received marked favor in the new government, both in Iran and at the capital in Baghdad. Zoroastrianism_sentence_129

This mitigated the antagonism between Arabs and Iranians, but sharpened the distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims. Zoroastrianism_sentence_130

The Abbasids zealously persecuted heretics, and although this was directed mainly at Muslim sectarians, it also created a harsher climate for non-Muslims. Zoroastrianism_sentence_131

Although the Abbasids were deadly foes of Zoroastrianism, the brand of Islam they propagated throughout Iran became ever more "Zoroastrianized", making it easier for Iranians to embrace Islam. Zoroastrianism_sentence_132

Survival Zoroastrianism_section_9

Despite economic and social incentives to convert, Zoroastrianism remained strong in some regions, particularly in those furthest away from the Caliphate capital at Baghdad. Zoroastrianism_sentence_133

In Bukhara (in present-day Uzbekistan), resistance to Islam required the 9th-century Arab commander Qutaiba to convert his province four times. Zoroastrianism_sentence_134

The first three times the citizens reverted to their old religion. Zoroastrianism_sentence_135

Finally, the governor made their religion "difficult for them in every way", turned the local fire temple into a mosque, and encouraged the local population to attend Friday prayers by paying each attendee two dirhams. Zoroastrianism_sentence_136

The cities where Arab governors resided were particularly vulnerable to such pressures, and in these cases the Zoroastrians were left with no choice but to either conform or migrate to regions that had a more amicable administration. Zoroastrianism_sentence_137

The 9th century came to define the great number of Zoroastrian texts that were composed or re-written during the 8th to 10th centuries (excluding copying and lesser amendments, which continued for some time thereafter). Zoroastrianism_sentence_138

All of these works are in the Middle Persian dialect of that period (free of Arabic words), and written in the difficult Pahlavi script (hence the adoption of the term "Pahlavi" as the name of the variant of the language, and of the genre, of those Zoroastrian books). Zoroastrianism_sentence_139

If read aloud, these books would still have been intelligible to the laity. Zoroastrianism_sentence_140

Many of these texts are responses to the tribulations of the time, and all of them include exhortations to stand fast in their religious beliefs. Zoroastrianism_sentence_141

Some, such as the "Denkard", are doctrinal defenses of the religion, while others are explanations of theological aspects (such as the Bundahishn's) or practical aspects (e.g., explanation of rituals) of it. Zoroastrianism_sentence_142

In Khorasan in northeastern Iran, a 10th-century Iranian nobleman brought together four Zoroastrian priests to transcribe a Sassanid-era Middle Persian work titled Book of the Lord (Khwaday Namag) from Pahlavi script into Arabic script. Zoroastrianism_sentence_143

This transcription, which remained in Middle Persian prose (an Arabic version, by al-Muqaffa, also exists), was completed in 957 and subsequently became the basis for Firdausi's Book of Kings. Zoroastrianism_sentence_144

It became enormously popular among both Zoroastrians and Muslims, and also served to propagate the Sassanid justification for overthrowing the Arsacids (i.e., that the Sassanids had restored the faith to its "orthodox" form after the Hellenistic Arsacids had allowed Zoroastrianism to become corrupt). Zoroastrianism_sentence_145

Among migrations were those to cities in (or on the margins of) the great salt deserts, in particular to Yazd and Kerman, which remain centers of Iranian Zoroastrianism to this day. Zoroastrianism_sentence_146

Yazd became the seat of the Iranian high priests during Mongol Il-Khanate rule, when the "best hope for survival [for a non-Muslim] was to be inconspicuous." Zoroastrianism_sentence_147

Crucial to the present-day survival of Zoroastrianism was a migration from the northeastern Iranian town of "Sanjan in south-western Khorasan", to Gujarat, in western India. Zoroastrianism_sentence_148

The descendants of that group are today known as the Parsis—"as the Gujaratis, from long tradition, called anyone from Iran"—who today represent the larger of the two groups of Zoroastrians. Zoroastrianism_sentence_149

The struggle between Zoroastrianism and Islam declined in the 10th and 11th centuries. Zoroastrianism_sentence_150

Local Iranian dynasties, "all vigorously Muslim," had emerged as largely independent vassals of the Caliphs. Zoroastrianism_sentence_151

In the 16th century, in one of the early letters between Iranian Zoroastrians and their co-religionists in India, the priests of Yazd lamented that "no period [in human history], not even that of Alexander, had been more grievous or troublesome for the faithful than 'this millennium of the demon of Wrath'." Zoroastrianism_sentence_152

Modern Zoroastrianism_section_10

Further information: Parsi, Irani (India), and Zoroastrians in Iran Zoroastrianism_sentence_153

Zoroastrianism has survived into the modern period, particularly in India, where it has been present since about the 9th century. Zoroastrianism_sentence_154

Today Zoroastrianism can be divided in two main schools of thought: reformists and traditionalists. Zoroastrianism_sentence_155

Traditionalists are mostly Parsis and accept, beside the Gathas and Avesta, also the Middle Persian literature and like the reformists mostly developed in their modern form from 19th century developments. Zoroastrianism_sentence_156

They generally do not allow conversion to the faith and, as such, for someone to be a Zoroastrian they must be born of Zoroastrian parents. Zoroastrianism_sentence_157

Some traditionalists recognize the children of mixed marriages as Zoroastrians, though usually only if the father is a born Zoroastrian. Zoroastrianism_sentence_158

Reformists tend to advocate a "return" to the Gathas, the universal nature of the faith, a decrease in ritualization, and an emphasis on the faith as philosophy rather than religion. Zoroastrianism_sentence_159

Not all Zoroastrians identify with either school and notable examples are getting traction including Neo-Zoroastrians/Para-Zoroastrians, which are usually radical reinterpretations of Zoroastrianism appealing towards Western concerns, and Revivalists, who center the idea of Zoroastrianism as a living religion and advocate the revival and maintenance of old rituals and prayers while supporting ethical and social progressive reforms. Zoroastrianism_sentence_160

Both of these latter schools tend to center the Gathas without outright rejecting other texts except the Vendidad. Zoroastrianism_sentence_161

Ilm-e-Khshnoom and the Pundol Group are Zoroastrian mystical schools of thought popular among a small minority of the Parsi community inspired mostly by 19th-century theosophy and typified by a spiritual ethnocentric mentality. Zoroastrianism_sentence_162

From the 19th century onward, the Parsis gained a reputation for their education and widespread influence in all aspects of society. Zoroastrianism_sentence_163

They played an instrumental role in the economic development of the region over many decades; several of the best-known business conglomerates of India are run by Parsi-Zoroastrians, including the Tata, Godrej, Wadia families, and others. Zoroastrianism_sentence_164

Though the Armenians share a rich history affiliated with Zoroastrianism (that eventually declined with the advent of Christianity), reports indicate that there were Zoroastrian Armenians in Armenia until the 1920s. Zoroastrianism_sentence_165

A comparatively minor population persisted in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Persia, and a growing large expatriate community has formed in the United States mostly from India and Iran, and to a lesser extent in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. Zoroastrianism_sentence_166

At the request of the government of Tajikistan, UNESCO declared 2003 a year to celebrate the "3000th anniversary of Zoroastrian culture", with special events throughout the world. Zoroastrianism_sentence_167

In 2011 the Tehran Mobeds Anjuman announced that for the first time in the history of modern Iran and of the modern Zoroastrian communities worldwide, women had been ordained in Iran and North America as mobedyars, meaning women assistant mobeds (Zoroastrian clergy). Zoroastrianism_sentence_168

The women hold official certificates and can perform the lower-rung religious functions and can initiate people into the religion. Zoroastrianism_sentence_169

Relation to other religions and cultures Zoroastrianism_section_11

Some scholars believe that key concepts of Zoroastrian eschatology and demonology influenced the Abrahamic religions. Zoroastrianism_sentence_170

On the other hand, Zoroastrianism itself inherited ideas from other belief systems and, like other "practiced" religions, accommodates some degree of syncretism, with Zoroastrianism in Sogdia, the Kushan Empire, Armenia, China, and other places incorporating local and foreign practices and deities. Zoroastrianism_sentence_171

Zoroastrian influences on Hungarian, Slavic, Ossetian, Turkic and Mongol mythologies have also been noted, all of which bearing extensive light-dark dualisms and possible sun god theonyms related to Hvare-khshaeta. Zoroastrianism_sentence_172

Indo-Iranian origins Zoroastrianism_section_12

See also: Indo-Iranians and Proto-Indo-Iranian religion Zoroastrianism_sentence_173

The religion of Zoroastrianism is closest to Vedic religion to varying degrees. Zoroastrianism_sentence_174

Some historians believe that Zoroastrianism, along with similar philosophical revolutions in South Asia were interconnected strings of reformation against a common Indo-Aryan thread. Zoroastrianism_sentence_175

Many traits of Zoroastrianism can be traced back to the culture and beliefs of the prehistorical Indo-Iranian period, that is, to the time before the migrations that led to the Indo-Aryans and Iranics becoming distinct peoples. Zoroastrianism_sentence_176

Zoroastrianism consequently shares elements with the historical Vedic religion that also has its origins in that era. Zoroastrianism_sentence_177

Some examples include cognates between the Avestan word Ahura ("Ahura Mazda") and the Vedic Sanskrit word Asura ("demon; evil demigod"); as well as Daeva ("demon") and Deva ("god") and they both descend from a common Proto-Indo-Iranian religion. Zoroastrianism_sentence_178

Manichaeism Zoroastrianism_section_13

Zoroastrianism is often compared with Manichaeism. Zoroastrianism_sentence_179

Nominally an Iranian religion, it has its origins in Middle-Eastern Gnosticism. Zoroastrianism_sentence_180

Superficially such a comparison seems apt, as both are dualistic and Manichaeism adopted many of the Yazatas for its own pantheon. Zoroastrianism_sentence_181

Gherardo Gnoli, in The Encyclopaedia of Religion, says that "we can assert that Manichaeism has its roots in the Iranian religious tradition and that its relationship to Mazdaism, or Zoroastrianism, is more or less like that of Christianity to Judaism". Zoroastrianism_sentence_182

But they are quite different. Zoroastrianism_sentence_183

Manichaeism equated evil with matter and good with spirit, and was therefore particularly suitable as a doctrinal basis for every form of asceticism and many forms of mysticism. Zoroastrianism_sentence_184

Zoroastrianism, on the other hand, rejects every form of asceticism, has no dualism of matter and spirit (only of good and evil), and sees the spiritual world as not very different from the natural one (the word "paradise", or pairi.daeza, applies equally to both.) Zoroastrianism_sentence_185

Manichaeism's basic doctrine was that the world and all corporeal bodies were constructed from the substance of Satan, an idea that is fundamentally at odds with the Zoroastrian notion of a world that was created by God and that is all good, and any corruption of it is an effect of the bad. Zoroastrianism_sentence_186

Present-day Iran Zoroastrianism_section_14

Many aspects of Zoroastrianism are present in the culture and mythologies of the peoples of Greater Iran, not least because Zoroastrianism was a dominant influence on the people of the cultural continent for a thousand years. Zoroastrianism_sentence_187

Even after the rise of Islam and the loss of direct influence, Zoroastrianism remained part of the cultural heritage of the Iranian language-speaking world, in part as festivals and customs, but also because Ferdowsi incorporated a number of the figures and stories from the Avesta in his epic Shāhnāme, which is pivotal to Iranian identity. Zoroastrianism_sentence_188

One notable example is the incorporation of the Yazata Sraosha as an angel venerated within Shia Islam in Iran. Zoroastrianism_sentence_189

Religious text Zoroastrianism_section_15

Avesta Zoroastrianism_section_16

Main articles: Avesta and Avestan language Zoroastrianism_sentence_190

The Avesta is a collection of the central religious texts of Zoroastrianism written in the old Iranian dialect of Avestan. Zoroastrianism_sentence_191

The history of the Avesta is speculated upon in many Pahlavi texts with varying degrees of authority, with the current version of the Avesta dating at oldest from the times of the Sasanian Empire. Zoroastrianism_sentence_192

According to Middle Persian tradition, Ahura Mazda created the twenty-one Nasks of the original Avesta which Zoroaster brought to Vishtaspa. Zoroastrianism_sentence_193

Here, two copies were created, one which was put in the house of archives and the other put in the Imperial treasury. Zoroastrianism_sentence_194

During Alexander's conquest of Persia, the Avesta was burned, and the scientific sections that the Greeks could use were dispersed among themselves. Zoroastrianism_sentence_195

However, there is no strong evidence historically towards these claims and they remain contested academically and within the faith. Zoroastrianism_sentence_196

As tradition continues, under the reign of King Valax of the Arsacis Dynasty, an attempt was made to restore what was considered the Avesta. Zoroastrianism_sentence_197

During the Sassanid Empire, Ardeshir ordered Tansar, his high priest, to finish the work that King Valax had started. Zoroastrianism_sentence_198

Shapur I sent priests to locate the scientific text portions of the Avesta that were in the possession of the Greeks. Zoroastrianism_sentence_199

Under Shapur II, Arderbad Mahrespandand revised the canon to ensure its orthodox character, while under Khosrow I, the Avesta was translated into Pahlavi. Zoroastrianism_sentence_200

The compilation of the Avesta can be authoritatively traced, however, to the Sasanian Empire, of which only fraction survive today if the Middle Persian literature is correct. Zoroastrianism_sentence_201

The later manuscripts all date from after the fall of the Sasanian Empire, the latest being from 1288, 590 years after the fall of the Sasanian Empire. Zoroastrianism_sentence_202

The texts that remain today are the Gathas, Yasna, Visperad and the Vendidad, of which the latter's inclusion is disputed within the faith. Zoroastrianism_sentence_203

Along with these texts is the individual, communal, and ceremonial prayer book called the Khordeh Avesta, which contains the Yashts and other important hymns, prayers, and rituals. Zoroastrianism_sentence_204

The rest of the materials from the Avesta are called "Avestan fragments" in that they are written in Avestan, incomplete, and generally of unknown provenance. Zoroastrianism_sentence_205

Middle Persian (Pahlavi) Zoroastrianism_section_17

Middle Persian and Pahlavi works created in the 9th and 10th century contain many religious Zoroastrian books, as most of the writers and copyists were part of the Zoroastrian clergy. Zoroastrianism_sentence_206

The most significant and important books of this era include the Denkard, Bundahishn, Menog-i Khrad, Selections of Zadspram, Jamasp Namag, Epistles of Manucher, Rivayats, Dadestan-i-Denig, and Arda Viraf Namag. Zoroastrianism_sentence_207

All Middle Persian texts written on Zoroastrianism during this time period are considered secondary works on the religion, and not scripture. Zoroastrianism_sentence_208

Nonetheless, these texts have had a strong influence on the religion. Zoroastrianism_sentence_209

Zoroaster Zoroastrianism_section_18

Main article: Zoroaster Zoroastrianism_sentence_210

Zoroastrianism was founded by Zoroaster (or Zarathushtra) in ancient Iran. Zoroastrianism_sentence_211

The precise date of the founding of Zoroastrianism is uncertain and dates differ wildly from 2000 BCE to "200 years before Alexander". Zoroastrianism_sentence_212

Zoroaster was born in either Northeast Iran or Southwest Afghanistan. Zoroastrianism_sentence_213

He was born into a culture with a polytheistic religion, which included excessive animal sacrifice and the excessive ritual use of intoxicants, and his life was defined heavily by the settling of his people and the constant threats of raids and conflict. Zoroastrianism_sentence_214

Zoroaster's birth and early life are little documented but speculated heavily upon in later texts. Zoroastrianism_sentence_215

What is known is recorded in the Gathas—the core of the Avesta, which contains hymns thought to be composed by Zoroaster himself. Zoroastrianism_sentence_216

Born into the Spitama clan, he refers to himself as a poet-priest and spiritual master. Zoroastrianism_sentence_217

He had a wife, three sons, and three daughters, the numbers of which are gathered from various texts. Zoroastrianism_sentence_218

Zoroaster rejected many of the gods of the Bronze Age Iranians and their oppressive class structure, in which the Karvis and Karapans (princes and priests) controlled the ordinary people. Zoroastrianism_sentence_219

He also opposed cruel animal sacrifices and the excessive use of the hallucinogenic Haoma plant (possibly a species of ephedra), but did not outright condemn completely either practice in moderate forms. Zoroastrianism_sentence_220

Zoroaster in legend Zoroastrianism_section_19

According to later Zoroastrian tradition, when Zoroaster was 30 years old, he went into the Daiti river to draw water for a Haoma ceremony; when he emerged, he received a vision of Vohu Manah. Zoroastrianism_sentence_221

After this, Vohu Manah took him to the other six Amesha Spentas, where he received the completion of his vision. Zoroastrianism_sentence_222

This vision radically transformed his view of the world, and he tried to teach this view to others. Zoroastrianism_sentence_223

Zoroaster believed in one supreme creator deity and acknowledged this creator's emanations (Amesha Spenta) and other divinities which he called Ahuras (Yazata). Zoroastrianism_sentence_224

Some of the deities of the old religion, the Daevas (Devas in Sanskrit), appeared to delight in war and strife and were condemned as evil workers of Angra Mainyu by Zoroaster. Zoroastrianism_sentence_225

Zoroaster's ideas were not taken up quickly; he originally only had one convert: his cousin Maidhyoimanha. Zoroastrianism_sentence_226

The local religious authorities opposed his ideas, considering that their faith, power, and particularly their rituals were threatened by Zoroaster's teaching against the bad and overly-complicated ritualization of religious ceremonies. Zoroastrianism_sentence_227

Many did not like Zoroaster's downgrading of the Daevas to evil ones not worthy of worship. Zoroastrianism_sentence_228

After twelve years of little success, Zoroaster left his home. Zoroastrianism_sentence_229

In the country of King Vishtaspa, the king and queen heard Zoroaster debating with the religious leaders of the land and decided to accept Zoroaster's ideas as the official religion of their kingdom after having Zoroaster prove himself by healing the king's favorite horse. Zoroastrianism_sentence_230

Zoroaster is believed to have died in his late 70s, either by murder by a Turanian or old age. Zoroastrianism_sentence_231

Very little is known of the time between Zoroaster and the Achaemenian period, except that Zoroastrianism spread to Western Iran and other regions. Zoroastrianism_sentence_232

By the time of the founding of the Achaemenid Empire, Zoroastrianism is believed to have been already a well-established religion. Zoroastrianism_sentence_233

Cypress of Kashmar Zoroastrianism_section_20

Main article: Cypress of Kashmar Zoroastrianism_sentence_234

The Cypress of Kashmar is a mythical cypress tree of legendary beauty and gargantuan dimensions. Zoroastrianism_sentence_235

It is said to have sprung from a branch brought by Zoroaster from Paradise and to have stood in today's Kashmar in northeastern Iran and to have been planted by Zoroaster in honor of the conversion of King Vishtaspa to Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrianism_sentence_236

According to the Iranian physicist and historian Zakariya al-Qazwini King Vishtaspa had been a patron of Zoroaster who planted the tree himself. Zoroastrianism_sentence_237

In his ʿAjā'ib al-makhlūqāt wa gharā'ib al-mawjūdāt, he further describes how the Al-Mutawakkil in 247 AH (861 AD) caused the mighty cypress to be felled, and then transported it across Iran, to be used for beams in his new palace at Samarra. Zoroastrianism_sentence_238

Before, he wanted the tree to be reconstructed before his eyes. Zoroastrianism_sentence_239

This was done in spite of protests by the Iranians, who offered a very great sum of money to save the tree. Zoroastrianism_sentence_240

Al-Mutawakkil never saw the cypress, because he was murdered by a Turkish soldier (possibly in the employ of his son) on the night when it arrived on the banks of the Tigris. Zoroastrianism_sentence_241

Principal beliefs Zoroastrianism_section_21

Humata, Huxta, Huvarshta (Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds), the Threefold Path of Asha, is considered the core maxim of Zoroastrianism especially by modern practitioners. Zoroastrianism_sentence_242

In Zoroastrianism, good transpires for those who do righteous deeds for its own sake, not for the search of reward. Zoroastrianism_sentence_243

Those who do evil are said to be attacked and confused by the druj and are responsible for aligning themselves back to Asha by following this path. Zoroastrianism_sentence_244

In Zoroastrianism, Ahura Mazda is the beginning and the end, the creator of everything that can and cannot be seen, the eternal and uncreated, the all-good and source of Asha. Zoroastrianism_sentence_245

In the Gathas, the most sacred texts of Zoroastrianism thought to have been composed by Zoroaster himself, Zoroaster acknowledged the highest devotion to Ahura Mazda, with worship and adoration also given to Ahura Mazda's manifestations (Amesha Spenta) and the other ahuras (Yazata) that support Ahura Mazda. Zoroastrianism_sentence_246

Daena (din in modern Persian and meaning "that which is seen") is representative of the sum of one's spiritual conscience and attributes, which through one's choice Asha is either strengthened or weakened in the Daena. Zoroastrianism_sentence_247

Traditionally, the manthras, spiritual prayer formulas, are believed to be of immense power and the vehicles of Asha and creation used to maintain good and fight evil. Zoroastrianism_sentence_248

Daena should not be confused with the fundamental principle of Asha, believed to be the cosmic order which governs and permeates all existence, and the concept of which governed the life of the ancient Indo-Iranians. Zoroastrianism_sentence_249

For these, asha was the course of everything observable—the motion of the planets and astral bodies; the progression of the seasons; and the pattern of daily nomadic herdsman life, governed by regular metronomic events such as sunrise and sunset, and was strengthened through truth-telling and following the Threefold Path. Zoroastrianism_sentence_250

All physical creation (getig) was thus determined to run according to a master plan—inherent to Ahura Mazda—and violations of the order (druj) were violations against creation, and thus violations against Ahura Mazda. Zoroastrianism_sentence_251

This concept of asha versus the druj should not be confused with Western and especially Abrahamic notions of good versus evil, for although both forms of opposition express moral conflict, the asha versus druj concept is more systemic and less personal, representing, for instance, chaos (that opposes order); or "uncreation", evident as natural decay (that opposes creation); or more simply "the lie" (that opposes truth and goodness). Zoroastrianism_sentence_252

Moreover, in the role as the one uncreated creator of all, Ahura Mazda is not the creator of druj, which is "nothing", anti-creation, and thus (likewise) uncreated and developed as the antithesis of existence through choice. Zoroastrianism_sentence_253

In this schema of asha versus druj, mortal beings (both humans and animals) play a critical role, for they too are created. Zoroastrianism_sentence_254

Here, in their lives, they are active participants in the conflict, and it is their spiritual duty to defend Asha, which is under constant assault and would decay in strength without counteraction. Zoroastrianism_sentence_255

Throughout the Gathas, Zoroaster emphasizes deeds and actions within society and accordingly extreme asceticism is frowned upon in Zoroastrianism but moderate forms are allowed within. Zoroastrianism_sentence_256

This was explained as fleeing from the experiences and joys of life, which was the very purpose that the urvan (most commonly translated as the "soul") was sent into the mortal world to collect. Zoroastrianism_sentence_257

The avoidance of any aspect of life which does not bring harm to another and engage in activities that support the druj, which includes the avoidance of the pleasures of life, is a shirking of the responsibility and duty to oneself, one's urvan, and one's family and social obligations. Zoroastrianism_sentence_258

Central to Zoroastrianism is the emphasis on moral choice, to choose the responsibility and duty for which one is in the mortal world, or to give up this duty and so facilitate the work of druj. Zoroastrianism_sentence_259

Similarly, predestination is rejected in Zoroastrian teaching and the absolute free will of all conscious beings is core, with even divine beings having the ability to choose. Zoroastrianism_sentence_260

Humans bear responsibility for all situations they are in, and in the way they act toward one another. Zoroastrianism_sentence_261

Reward, punishment, happiness, and grief all depend on how individuals live their lives. Zoroastrianism_sentence_262

In the 19th century, through contact with Western academics and missionaries, Zoroastrianism experienced a massive theological change that still affects it today. Zoroastrianism_sentence_263

The Rev. Zoroastrianism_sentence_264 John Wilson led various missionary campaigns in India against the Parsi community, disparaging the Parsis for their "dualism" and "polytheism" and as having unnecessary rituals while declaring the Avesta to not be "divinely inspired". Zoroastrianism_sentence_265

This caused mass dismay in the relatively uneducated Parsi community, which blamed its priests and led to some conversions towards Christianity. Zoroastrianism_sentence_266

The arrival of the German orientalist and philologist Martin Haug led to a rallied defense of the faith through Haug's reinterpretation of the Avesta through Christianized and European orientalist lens. Zoroastrianism_sentence_267

Haug postulated that Zoroastrianism was solely monotheistic with all other divinities reduced to the status of angels while Ahura Mazda became both omnipotent and the source of evil as well as good. Zoroastrianism_sentence_268

Haug's thinking was subsequently disseminated as a Parsi interpretation, thus corroborating Haug's theory, and the idea became so popular that it is now almost universally accepted as doctrine though being reevaluated in modern Zoroastrianism and academia. Zoroastrianism_sentence_269

Throughout Zoroastrian history, shrines and temples have been the focus of worship and pilgrimage for adherents of the religion. Zoroastrianism_sentence_270

Early Zoroastrians were recorded as worshiping in the 5th century BCE on mounds and hills where fires were lit below the open skies. Zoroastrianism_sentence_271

In the wake of Achaemenid expansion, shrines were constructed throughout the empire and particularly influenced the role of Mithra, Aredvi Sura Anahita, Verethragna and Tishtrya, alongside other traditional Yazata who all have hymns within the Avesta and also local deities and culture-heroes. Zoroastrianism_sentence_272

Today, enclosed and covered fire temples tend to be the focus of community worship where fires of varying grades are maintained by the clergy assigned to the temples. Zoroastrianism_sentence_273

Cosmology: Creation of the universe Zoroastrianism_section_22

According to the Zoroastrian creation myth, Ahura Mazda existed in light and goodness above, while Angra Mainyu existed in darkness and ignorance below. Zoroastrianism_sentence_274

They have existed independently of each other for all time, and manifest contrary substances. Zoroastrianism_sentence_275

Ahura Mazda first manifested seven divine beings called Amesha Spentas, who support him and represent beneficent aspects of personality and creation, along with numerous Yazatas, divinities worthy of worship. Zoroastrianism_sentence_276

Ahura Mazda then created the material and visible world itself in order to ensnare evil. Zoroastrianism_sentence_277

Ahura Mazda created the floating, egg-shaped universe in two parts: first the spiritual (menog) and 3,000 years later, the physical (getig). Zoroastrianism_sentence_278

Ahura Mazda then created Gayomard, the archetypical perfect man, and Gavaevodata, the primordial bovine. Zoroastrianism_sentence_279

While Ahura Mazda created the universe and humankind, Angra Mainyu, whose very nature is to destroy, miscreated demons, evil daevas, and noxious creatures (khrafstar) such as snakes, ants, and flies. Zoroastrianism_sentence_280

Angra Mainyu created an opposite, evil being for each good being, except for humans, which he found he could not match. Zoroastrianism_sentence_281

Angra Mainyu invaded the universe through the base of the sky, inflicting Gayomard and the bull with suffering and death. Zoroastrianism_sentence_282

However, the evil forces were trapped in the universe and could not retreat. Zoroastrianism_sentence_283

The dying primordial man and bovine emitted seeds, which were protect by Mah, the Moon. Zoroastrianism_sentence_284

From the bull's seed grew all beneficial plants and animals of the world and from the man's seed grew a plant whose leaves became the first human couple. Zoroastrianism_sentence_285

Humans thus struggle in a two-fold universe of the material and spiritual trapped and in long combat with evil. Zoroastrianism_sentence_286

The evils of this physical world are not products of an inherent weakness, but are the fault of Angra Mainyu's assault on creation. Zoroastrianism_sentence_287

This assault turned the perfectly flat, peaceful, and ever day-lit world into a mountainous, violent place that is half night. Zoroastrianism_sentence_288

Eschatology: Renovation and judgment Zoroastrianism_section_23

Main article: Frashokereti Zoroastrianism_sentence_289

Zoroastrianism also includes beliefs about the renovation of the world (Frashokereti) and individual judgment (cf. Zoroastrianism_sentence_290

general and particular judgment), including the resurrection of the dead, which are alluded to in the Gathas but developed in later Avestan and Middle Persian writings. Zoroastrianism_sentence_291

Individual judgment at death is at the Chinvat Bridge ("bridge of judgement" or "bridge of choice"), which each human must cross, facing a spiritual judgment, though modern belief is split as to whether it is representative of a mental decision during life to choose between good and evil or an afterworld location. Zoroastrianism_sentence_292

Humans' actions under their free will through choice determine the outcome. Zoroastrianism_sentence_293

According to tradition, the soul is judged by the Yazatas Mithra, Sraosha, and Rashnu, where depending on the verdict one is either greeted at the bridge by a beautiful, sweet-smelling maiden or by an ugly, foul-smelling old hag representing their Daena affected by their actions in life. Zoroastrianism_sentence_294

The maiden leads the dead safely across the bridge, which widens and becomes pleasant for the righteous, towards the House of Song. Zoroastrianism_sentence_295

The hag leads the dead down a bridge that narrows to a razor's edge and is full of stench until the departed falls off into the abyss towards the House of Lies. Zoroastrianism_sentence_296

Those with a balance of good and evil go to Hamistagan, a neutral place of waiting where according to the Dadestan-i Denig, a Middle Persian work from the 9th century, the souls of the departed can relive their lives and conduct good deeds to raise themselves towards the House of Song or await the final judgement and the mercy of Ahura Mazda. Zoroastrianism_sentence_297

The House of Lies is considered temporary and reformative; punishments fit the crimes, and souls do not rest in eternal damnation. Zoroastrianism_sentence_298

Hell contains foul smells and evil food, a smothering darkness, and souls are packed tightly together although they believe they are in total isolation. Zoroastrianism_sentence_299

In ancient Zoroastrian eschatology, a 3,000-year struggle between good and evil will be fought, punctuated by evil's final assault. Zoroastrianism_sentence_300

During the final assault, the sun and moon will darken and humankind will lose its reverence for religion, family, and elders. Zoroastrianism_sentence_301

The world will fall into winter, and Angra Mainyu's most fearsome miscreant, Azi Dahaka, will break free and terrorize the world. Zoroastrianism_sentence_302

According to legend, the final savior of the world, known as the Saoshyant, will be born to a virgin impregnated by the seed of Zoroaster while bathing in a lake. Zoroastrianism_sentence_303

The Saoshyant will raise the dead—including those in all afterworlds—for final judgment, returning the wicked to hell to be purged of bodily sin. Zoroastrianism_sentence_304

Next, all will wade through a river of molten metal in which the righteous will not burn but through which the impure will be completely purified. Zoroastrianism_sentence_305

The forces of good will ultimately triumph over evil, rendering it forever impotent but not destroyed. Zoroastrianism_sentence_306

The Saoshyant and Ahura Mazda will offer a bull as a final sacrifice for all time and all humans will become immortal. Zoroastrianism_sentence_307

Mountains will again flatten and valleys will rise; the House of Song will descend to the moon, and the earth will rise to meet them both. Zoroastrianism_sentence_308

Humanity will require two judgments because there are as many aspects to our being: spiritual (menog) and physical (getig). Zoroastrianism_sentence_309

Thus, Zoroastrianism can be said to be a universalist religion with respect to salvation in that all souls are redeemed at the final judgement. Zoroastrianism_sentence_310

Ritual and prayer Zoroastrianism_section_24

The central ritual of Zoroastrianism is the Yasna, which is a recitation of the eponymous book of the Avesta and sacrificial ritual ceremony involving Haoma. Zoroastrianism_sentence_311

Extensions to the Yasna ritual are possible through use of the Visperad and Vendidad, but such an extended ritual is rare in modern Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrianism_sentence_312

The Yasna itself descended from Indo-Iranian sacrificial ceremonies and animal sacrifice of varying degrees are mentioned in the Avesta and are still practiced in Zoroastrianism albeit through reduced forms such as the sacrifice of fat before meals. Zoroastrianism_sentence_313

High rituals such as the Yasna are considered to be the purview of the Mobeds with a corpus of individual and communal rituals and prayers included in the Khordeh Avesta. Zoroastrianism_sentence_314

A Zoroastrian is welcomed into the faith through the Navjote/Sedreh Pushi ceremony, which is traditionally conducted during the later childhood or pre-teen years of the aspirant, though there is no defined age limit for the ritual. Zoroastrianism_sentence_315

After the ceremony, Zoroastrians are encouraged to wear their sedreh (ritual shirt) and kusti (ritual girdle) daily as a spiritual reminder and for mystical protection, though modern Zoroastrians tend to only wear them during festivals, ceremonies, and prayers. Zoroastrianism_sentence_316

The incorporation of cultural and local rituals is quite common and traditions have been passed down in historically Zoroastrian communities such as herbal healing practices, wedding ceremonies, and the like. Zoroastrianism_sentence_317

Traditionally, Zoroastrian rituals have also included shamanic elements involving mystical methods such as spirit travel to the invisible realm and involving the consumption of fortified wine, Haoma, mang, and other ritual aids. Zoroastrianism_sentence_318

Historically, Zoroastrians are encouraged to pray the five daily Gāhs and to maintain and celebrate the various holy festivals of the Zoroastrian calendar, which can differ from community to community. Zoroastrianism_sentence_319

Zoroastrian prayers, called manthras, are conducted usually with hands outstretched in imitation of Zoroaster's prayer style described in the Gathas and are of a reflectionary and supplicant nature believed to be endowed with the ability to banish evil. Zoroastrianism_sentence_320

Devout Zoroastrians are known to cover their heads during prayer, either with traditional topi, scarves, other headwear, or even just their hands. Zoroastrianism_sentence_321

However, full coverage and veiling which is traditional in Islamic practice is not a part of Zoroastrianism and Zoroastrian women in Iran wear their head coverings displaying hair and their faces to defy mandates by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Zoroastrianism_sentence_322

Demographics Zoroastrianism_section_25

Further information: List of countries by Zoroastrian population and List of Zoroastrians Zoroastrianism_sentence_323

Zoroastrian communities internationally tend to comprise mostly two main groups of people: Indian Parsis and Iranian Zoroastrians. Zoroastrianism_sentence_324

According to a study in 2012 by the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America, the number of Zoroastrians worldwide was estimated to be between 111,691 and 121,962. Zoroastrianism_sentence_325

The number is imprecise because of diverging counts in Iran. Zoroastrianism_sentence_326

Small Zoroastrian communities may be found all over the world, with a continuing concentration in Western India, Central Iran, and Southern Pakistan. Zoroastrianism_sentence_327

Zoroastrians of the diaspora are primarily located in the United States, Great Britain and the former British colonies, particularly Canada and Australia, and usually anywhere where there is a strong Iranian and Gujarati presence. Zoroastrianism_sentence_328

In South Asia Zoroastrianism_section_26

India Zoroastrianism_section_27

Main articles: Parsi and Irani (India) Zoroastrianism_sentence_329

India is considered to be home to the single largest Zoroastrian population in the world. Zoroastrianism_sentence_330

When the Islamic armies, under the first caliphs, invaded Persia, those locals who were unwilling to convert to Islam sought refuge, first in the mountains of Northern Iran, then the regions of Yazd and its surrounding villages. Zoroastrianism_sentence_331

Later, in the ninth century CE, a group sought refuge in the western coastal region of India, and also scattered to other regions of the world. Zoroastrianism_sentence_332

Following the fall of the Sassanid Empire in 651 CE, many Zoroastrians migrated. Zoroastrianism_sentence_333

Among them were several groups who ventured to Gujarat on the western shores of the Indian subcontinent, where they finally settled. Zoroastrianism_sentence_334

The descendants of those refugees are today known as the Parsis. Zoroastrianism_sentence_335

The year of arrival on the subcontinent cannot be precisely established, and Parsi legend and tradition assigns various dates to the event. Zoroastrianism_sentence_336

In the Indian census of 2001, the Parsis numbered 69,601, representing about 0.006% of the total population of India, with a concentration in and around the city of Mumbai. Zoroastrianism_sentence_337

Due to a low birth rate and high rate of emigration, demographic trends project that by 2020 the Parsis will number only about 23,000 or 0.002% of the total population of India. Zoroastrianism_sentence_338

By 2008, the birth-to-death ratio was 1:5; 200 births per year to 1,000 deaths. Zoroastrianism_sentence_339

India's 2011 Census recorded 57,264 Parsi Zoroastrians. Zoroastrianism_sentence_340

Pakistan Zoroastrianism_section_28

In Pakistan, the Zoroastrian population was estimated to number 1,675 people in 2012, mostly living in Sindh (especially Karachi) followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Zoroastrianism_sentence_341

The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) of Pakistan claimed that there were 3,650 Parsi voters during the elections in Pakistan in 2013 and 4,235 in 2018. Zoroastrianism_sentence_342

Iran, Iraq and Central Asia Zoroastrianism_section_29

Main article: Zoroastrians in Iran Zoroastrianism_sentence_343

Iran's figures of Zoroastrians have ranged widely; the last census (1974) before the revolution of 1979 revealed 21,400 Zoroastrians. Zoroastrianism_sentence_344

Some 10,000 adherents remain in the Central Asian regions that were once considered the traditional stronghold of Zoroastrianism, i.e., Bactria (see also Balkh), which is in Northern Afghanistan; Sogdiana; Margiana; and other areas close to Zoroaster's homeland. Zoroastrianism_sentence_345

In Iran, emigration, out-marriage and low birth rates are likewise leading to a decline in the Zoroastrian population. Zoroastrianism_sentence_346

Zoroastrian groups in Iran say their number is approximately 60,000. Zoroastrianism_sentence_347

According to the Iranian census data from 2011 the number of Zoroastrians in Iran was 25,271. Zoroastrianism_sentence_348

Communities exist in Tehran, as well as in Yazd, Kerman and Kermanshah, where many still speak an Iranian language distinct from the usual Persian. Zoroastrianism_sentence_349

They call their language Dari (not to be confused with the Dari of Afghanistan). Zoroastrianism_sentence_350

Their language is also called Gavri or Behdini, literally "of the Good Religion". Zoroastrianism_sentence_351

Sometimes their language is named for the cities in which it is spoken, such as Yazdi or Kermani. Zoroastrianism_sentence_352

Iranian Zoroastrians were historically called Gabrs, originally without a pejorative connotation but in the present-day derogatorily applied to all non-Muslims. Zoroastrianism_sentence_353

The number of Kurdish Zoroastrians, along with those of non-ethnic converts, has been estimated differently. Zoroastrianism_sentence_354

The Zoroastrian Representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has claimed that as many as 100,000 people in Iraqi Kurdistan have converted to Zoroastrianism recently, with community leaders repeating this claim and speculating that even more Zoroastrians in the region are practicing their faith secretly. Zoroastrianism_sentence_355

However, this has not been confirmed by independent sources. Zoroastrianism_sentence_356

The surge in Kurdish Muslims converting to Zoroastrianism, the faith of their ancestors is largely attributed to disillusionment with Islam after the years of violence and barbarism perpetrated by the ISIS jihadi group. Zoroastrianism_sentence_357

Western world Zoroastrianism_section_30

North America is thought to be home to 18,000–25,000 Zoroastrians of both South Asian and Iranian background. Zoroastrianism_sentence_358

A further 3,500 live in Australia (mainly in Sydney). Zoroastrianism_sentence_359

As of 2012, the population of Zoroastrians in USA was 15,000, making it the third-largest Zoroastrian population in the world after those of India and Iran. Zoroastrianism_sentence_360

It has been claimed that 3,000 Kurds have converted to Zoroastrianism in Sweden. Zoroastrianism_sentence_361

In 2020, Historic England published A Survey of Zoroastrianism Buildings in England with the aim of providing information about buildings that Zoroastrians use in England so that HE can work with communities to enhance and protect those buildings now and in the future. Zoroastrianism_sentence_362

The scoping survey identified four buildings in England. Zoroastrianism_sentence_363

See also Zoroastrianism_section_31

Zoroastrianism_unordered_list_1


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoroastrianism.