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ZOROASTRIANISM. Zoroastrianism is the oldest of the revealed world-religions, and it has probably had more influence on mankind, directly and indirectly, than any other single faith ." Mary Boyce . ZARATHUSHTRA. Born somewhere between 2000 B.C. to 600 B.C. During Bronze Age.
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Zoroastrianism is the oldest of the revealed world-religions, and it has probably had more influence on mankind, directly and indirectly, than any other single faith." Mary Boyce.
ZARATHUSHTRA • Born somewhere between 2000 B.C. to 600 B.C. During Bronze Age. • Born in North-East Ancient Iran (today Kazakhstan or Tajikistan) • Family of Priests. He too was a priest • Married with 6 children • When 30 yrs. old received vision • Was 42 when came before the court of King Vishtaspa of Bactria accepted the religion and it spread far and wide • Died in his late 70’s
SPREAD OF ZOROASTRIANISM Faith flourished through the rise and fall of many civilizations. It was the dominant religion for 1000 years (558 B.C. – 652 A.D.) in Persia during the Achaemenian, Parthian & Sassanian Empires.Suffered set-back with Alexander of Macedonia invasion – 330 B.CFurther marginalized by the advent of Islam and Arab invasion in 652 A.D.Some practiced faith in seclusion in Islamic Persia, others fled to India.
ZOROASTRIANISM AT ITS PEAK The Zoroastrian Achaemenian Empire at its greatest extent was the largest empire in recorded history at 3.0 million sq. miles (480 BC). Under Cyrus' rule it extended approximately from Macedonia (now Greece) in the West to the Indus River (India) in the East, from the Caucuses Mountains (Russia) in the North to Egypt in the South.
PRINCIPAL DOCTRINES • Earliest Monotheistic religion of One Supreme God – Ahura Mazda(Wise Lord) • Conflict between SpentaMainyu(Good) & AngraMainyu(Evil) involves entire universe including humanity who play an active role in promoting Good and vanquishing Evil • Not a prescriptive ethic- but ethic of personal responsibility • Quintessence of his teachings are: • HUMATA – Good Thoughts • HUKHTA – Good Words • HUVERESHTA – Good Deeds
Man should emulate the Amesha Spentas or attributes of Ahura Mazda: • VOHU MANAH – The Good Mind • ASHA – Divine Law • KSHATHRA – Ahura Mazda’s Divine majesty and power • ARMAITY –Benevolent Spirit • HAURVATAT – (Perfection) & AMERATAT (Immortality) are twin rewards of a righteous life. • SACRED TEXT • THE AVESTA written in the Avestan language • The Divine Hymns, The GATHAS contained within are the words of Prophet Zarathushtra himself.
ZOROASTRIAN VIEW OF THE WORLD • Conflict between forces of Good (SpentaMainyu) & Evil (AngraMainyu) • Man given freedom to choose between these two • Man given responsibility to actively promote Good, vanquish Evil and thus move not only himself but the world towards Frashokereti (the final resurrection) when all will be in a state of perfection & everlasting bliss • Zarathushtra preached respect for nature and the environment. Zoroastrians venerate the elements – water, earth, fire and the sun and believe in living in harmony with the environment. • Charity as a way of life is central to the Zoroastrian ethos. Generation of wealth is to be used for improving the world, in order to strive for greater harmony in both the physical & spiritual worlds.
SYMBOL OF ZOROASTRIANISMFAROHARRepresents “Fravashi” or presence of Ahura Mazda in every beingSoul’s freedom of choiceFravashi does not interfere with our soul’s choiceSoul has to seek Fravashi’s adviceSoul should choose to follow It's advice.The soul may seek its advice but can choose not to follow it. Sin is a result of the Soul neglecting to seek/follow Fravashi’s advice
CEREMONIES WEDDING Performed by priest/s who recite passages from the Avesta and bless the couple, showering them with rice. Navjote Initiation ceremony for every child Invested with sacred Sudreh and Kusti
FUNERAL CEREMONY • Soul of the dead more important than physical remains • Once the soul has left the body – body considered impure and cannot pollute God’s “good” creation (fire or earth) • Body placed in “Tower of Silence” open to the sky and given free access to birds of prey. • On 4th day after death soul is reunited with its Fravashi, the good that the soul has done here on earth is weighed against the bad and judgement passed on whether the soul moves to Heaven or to hell.
RELIGIOUS CELEBRATIONS RELIGIOUS CELEBRATIONS • Religious festivals play an important role in the life of a Zoroastrian. • Navroz (NoRoz): New Day. The most important day of the year. Celebrated at the Spring equinox. Primal origin of the festival is in the universal rhythms of Earth and nature. Spring equinox signals the beginning of warmer weather and the start of the growing season. It also marks the moment when, in the 24 hour round of the day, daylight begins to be longer than night. This lengthening of the days is thus a symbolic victory of the forces of Light over darkness. Zoroastrians celebrate with cleaning their homes, setting symbolic items on a Navroz table, wearing new clothes, offering prayers and celebrating with family. • The 6 seasonal Gahambarsare celebrated in honor of the Skies, Waters, Earth, Plants, Livestock, Man. Festivities include much food and merriment accompanied by prayers and rituals. • Muktad– Festival of All Souls: Believed that during this 10 day period the Fravishis of the departed visit their near and dear ones. Priests perform special prayers during this period.
INTERACTIONS WITH JUDAISM & CHRISTIANITY Zoroastrian ideas have played a vital role in the development of western religious thought. Some theological concepts shared by Zoroastrianism with Judaism & Christianity: • Belief in one supreme God • Concept of Heaven & Hell and individual Judgment • Ultimate triumph of good over evil. • Strict moral and ethical code • Concepts of resurrection, final judgment and life everlasting • The words “Satan”, “paradise”, and “amen” are of Zoroastrian origin • The 3 Wise Men (Magi) that heralded the infant Christ were Zoroastrians.
DIASPORA • Today the total number of Zoroastrians in the world is under 200,000 • Of these approximately 80,000 live in India • Approximately 25,000 are in Iran • 12,000 now live in the U.S.A and 7,000 in Canada • The remaining live in Europe, Pakistan, Africa, Asia and Australia.
AshemVohu, Vahistem Asti Ushta Asti, UshtaAhmai HyatAshai VahistaiAshem. To think a good thought, to speak a good word, to do a good deed, is the best. Everlasting happiness to those who follow the Path of Asha
ZOROASTRIANISM Compiled and Created by Aban Grant Art work by Shanaya Grant Resources • The Zarathushti Religion: A Basic Text - Adapted and Collated by Mobed Farlborz S Shahzadi • Zoroastrians –Followers of an Ancient Faith in a Modern World – Rohinton M. Rivetna • The Legacy of Zarathushtra - Roshan Rivetna, FEZANA, 2002 • www. wikipedia.org/Zoroastrianism • www.Religioustolerance.org • www.avesta.org