(A handbook of religion
was published by the Foundation for Pluralism in August 2004.
All the groups were given the same set of questions, and some
are really silly like denominations in Atheism. Here is the
production of such writings from Atheism to Zoroastrianism and
every one in between; it is in two parts, essence of the faith
and general information about it. We invite you to send your
firstname.lastname@example.org for updates and new
information.- Please send us the preferred websites to be linked
at the bottom - THE INFORMATION IS IN TWO PARTS)
PROFILE & ESSENCE
Compiled by: Poras T Balsara and Nina Kalianivala
Ancient Iran around Central Asia, approx. 3500 to 3700 years ago
(around 1700 to 1500 BCE)
Asho Zarathushtra (known as Zoroaster to the
worshiped? One, Supreme, All-Knowing, Eternal God of all good
creations - Ahura Mazda, the Lord of Wisdom. He is a
friend to all and never to be feared by man.
shaped the religion: Asho Zarathushtra and his first disciples,
Maidyoimaongha, Frashaoshtra, Jamaspa and Kavi Vishtaspa.
Rejuvenation of the religion and compilation of all the
scattered religious literature was done in the early Sassanian
era (224-379 CE) by Mobedan Mobeds Tansar, Kirder and Adurbad
wrote the books: In the early days, the religion was
transmitted orally. The scriptures were subsequently written by
the priests from the three Persian empires. Pazand prayers and
Pahlavi commentaries to the Avestan texts were composed by
Mobedan Mobed Adurbad Marespand during 309-379 CE (early
(Original Language) The Avesta, which also includes
the divine hymns, the Gathas, which are the very
utterances of the Asho Zarathushtra himself. The daily prayer
book, called the Khordeh Avesta is a short extract from
the entire Avesta.
Holy Places of
Worship: Iranshah Atash Behram in Udvada (India), Yazd Atash
Behram (Iran) and other Fire Temples (Atash Behram, Agiary,
Atash Kadeh, Dar-e-Mehr).
Humata (Good Thoughts), Hukhta (Good Words) and
Huvareshta (Good Deeds).
Men and women are equal and through free will, they should
choose to promote good and vanquish evil by emulating the
Amesha Spentas: Ahura Mazda (Spenta Mainyu) gives us
the benefit of Good Mind (Vohu Manah) to those who work
selflessly. This Good Mind guides us to choose the path of
Righteousness (Asha Vahishta) in all our thoughts, words
and deeds. We gain Strength and Courage (Kshathra Vairya)
through wisdom and righteousness, to vanquish evil. If we
follow this path with Devotion (Spenta Armaiti) we will
finally reach Perfection (Haurvatat) and be attuned with
the Divine Laws of Nature. True Happiness and Immortality (of
soul) (Ameretat) is assured through the achievement of
Fravahar (winged figure which represents the essence of
divinity within man). Fire (a physical symbol of the
invisible God). Most Zoroastrians wear Sudreh, a white
undershirt (a symbolic armor against evil influences), over
which is tied the Kushti, a woolen cord (reminds one to
generate good thoughts, good words and good deeds at all times).
Rituals: Prayer is a link with the divinity. Prayers may be
performed at any time and any place, individually or in a
group. Minimally, a Zoroastrian recites the Kushti
prayers daily, while performing the ritual of tying the Kushti
around the waist over the Sudreh. Jashan, a thanksgiving
ritual for all occasions.
Leadership: High priests are called upon from time to time to
make recommendations related to scriptures and rituals.
However, salvation for the individual depends on the sum of his
thoughts, words and deeds. There can be no intervention by any
divine being to alter this. Each man bears the responsibility
for the fate of his own soul, as well as sharing in the
responsibility of the fate of the world.
Makers: Anjumans (elected) and Federation of Anjumans in
different regions represent the community, e.g., the FEZANA in
may be myths in early parts of Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh related to
the Peshdadian dynasty.
Festivals: Gahambars (six seasonal festivals) celebrating the
creations, Fravardegan (remembrance of all departed souls),
Nouruz (New Year), Khordad Sal (Asho Zarathushtra’s birthday),
Tirgan, Mehergan, Yalda (longest night of the year),
Zarathosht-no-diso (death anniversary of Asho Zarathushtra),
Sensitivities: Zoroastrians are not fire
worshippers. Fire is a physical symbol of the invisible God.
Asho Zarathushtra saw fire to be the physical representation of
Asha (Truth, Righteousness, and Order) and as a source of
light, warmth and life for his people.
What is not
polite? It is not polite to defile fire
birth to death: Navjote or Sudreh-Pushi (initiation),
Navar ceremony (for ordaining priests), Wedding ceremony,
funeral rites and subsequent ceremonies for protection of the
departed soul and for providing solace and support to the
for Pluralism: Message from one of the three cardinal prayers,
the Ashem Vohu is: “Happiness to Him Who Gives
Happiness to Others.”
Population: around 300,000 worldwide (based on year 2000 data).
Population: about 18,000
Population: around 350
Poras T. Balsara & Nina Kalianvali
Zoroastrianism is the oldest of the revealed, monotheistic world
religions. Adopted as the faith of the Persian kings, it became
the official religion of the Achaemenian, Parthian and Sassanian
empires, which flourished almost continually from the sixth
century BCE to the seventh century CE.
Zoroastrianism is so named because its prophet, Asho
Zarathushtra was known to the ancient Greeks as Zoroaster. He
lived in Ancient Iran somewhere around Central Asia between
about 1700 and 1500 BCE, when the Stone Age was giving way to
the Bronze Age. Asho Zarathushtra of the Spitama family is known
to us through seventeen great hymns which he composed and are
still extant, known as the Gathas.
These divine songs show great depth of vision and his
intellectual and spiritual quest to understand the workings of
the world. According to tradition, he spent many years wandering
in search of the truth. His hymns suggest that he must have seen
many acts of violence, pillaging and slaughter and carrying off
of cattle. He became filled with a deep longing for justice and
for the law of Ahura Mazda (Lord of Wisdom) to be established
for strong and weak alike so that all may be able to pursue the
good life in peace.
Asho Zarathushtra was thirty when revelation finally came to
him. The core of Asho Zarathushtra’s teachings center around a
perfect world created by the One, Supreme, Eternal, All knowing
God of the good creations, Ahura Mazda, the Lord of Wisdom, who
is mighty and the strongest though never to be feared, for God
is an ally and a friend of man.
The Zoroastrian system may be best defined as monotheism
modified by a physical and moral dualism, with an ethical system
based on the triad of Good Thoughts (Humata), Good Words (Hukhta)
and Good Deeds (Huvareshta), and on a divinely revealed moral
code and human free will. The doctrine of divine heptad formed
by Ahura Mazda and His Amesha Spentas is fundamental to Asho
Zarathushtra’s teachings, as they form the crux of the ethical
structure of the religion. The first of these is Good Mind (Vohu
Manah), which is God's greatest gift, to man. Asho Zarathushtra
declared that we must think for ourselves before we can believe.
It is from the Good Mind that we learn to recognize the Best
Truth (Asha Vahishta). Asha embodies truth, righteousness,
order, wisdom and progress. Through Asha we gain Strength and
Courage (Kshathra Vairya) to fight evil and accomplish noble
objectives. If we dedicate our life to this path with Devotion (Spenta
Armaiti) we will reach Perfection (Ameretat) and be attuned with
the divine laws of nature. True Happiness and Immortality (of
the soul) (Ameretat) is assured through the achievement of
Asho Zarathushtra presents a view of the world in which Ahura
Mazda originally creates an ideal existence in accordance with
the Law of Asha. As the world progresses, there is conflict
between the opposing forces of Good (Spenta Mainyu) and Evil (Angra
Mainyu). In this struggle, Ahura Mazda gives man not only the
freedom to choose between good and evil, but also the
responsibility to actively promote good, vanquish evil, and move
not only himself, but the whole world towards Frashokereti, the
final resurrection, when all will be in a state of perfection
and everlasting bliss.
A Zoroastrian is encouraged to live life to the fullest, in
order to champion the cause of ecology against those responsible
for polluting all that is natural and good. Monasticism,
fasting, celibacy and mortification of the body are abhorrent to
a Zoroastrian as it is believed that such practices weaken man
and lessen his ability to fight evil. The role of man in the
struggle between good and evil is to assist God in bringing
about the final annihilation of evil and the eventual triumph of
the forces of good through the cumulative power of good
thoughts, good words and good deeds.
The most essential ritual for all Zoroastrians is the Navjote
(or Sudreh-Pushi in Farsi), which is the initiation of a child
into the religion. A qualified priest endows the initiate with
the Sudreh, a white muslin undershirt, over which is tied the
Kushti, a woven, woolen, hollow cord. The Sudreh is viewed as
armor against temptations and evil influences and the Kushti
symbolically reminds one to generate good thoughts, good words
and good deeds at all times.
Asho Zarathushtra taught us of individual judgment, Heaven and
Hell, the future resurrection of the body, the Final Judgment
and everlasting life for the reunited soul and body. Salvation
for the individual depends on the sum of his thoughts, words and
deeds. There can be no intervention by any divine being to alter
this. Each man bears the responsibility for the fate of his own
soul, as well as sharing in the responsibility of the fate of
the world. Asho Zarathushtra's gospel is thus a noble and
strenuous one, requiring courage and moral fortitude to actively