Zoroastrianism Essays

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Zoroastrianism is the ancient pre-Islamic religion of Iran that survives there in isolated areas and, more prosperously, in India, where the descendants of Zoroastrian Iranian (Persian) immigrants are known as Parses, or Pareses. In India the religion is call Parsiism. Founded by the Iranian prophet and reformer Zoroaster in the 6th century BC, the religion contains both monotheistic and dualistic features. It influenced the other major Western religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

     The ancient Greeks saw in Zoroastrianism the archetype of the dualistic view of the world and of man's destiny. Zoroaster was supposed to have instructed Pythagoras in Babylon and to have inspired
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It has to be studied indirectly on the basis of later documents and by a comparative approach. The language of Iran is closely akin to that of northern India, and hence the people of the two lands probably had common ancestors – the Indo-Iranians, or Aryans. The religion of the latter has been reconstructed by means of common elements contained in the sacred books of Iran and India: mainly the Acesta and the Vedas. Both collections exhibit the4 same kind of polytheism, with many of the same gods, notably the Indian Mitra, the cult of fire, sacrifice by means of a sacred liquor and other parallels. There is, moreover, a list of Aryan gods in a treaty concluded about 1380 BC between the Hittite emperor and the king of Mitanni. The list includes Mitra and Cruna, Indra, and the two Nasatyas. All of these gods also are found in the Vedas, but only the first one in the Avesta, except that Indra and Nahaithya apperar in the Avesta as demons; Varuna may have survived under another name. Important changes, then, must have taken place on the Iranian side, not all of which can be attributed to the prophet. The Indo-Iranians appear to have distinguished, from among their gods, the daiva, meaning 'heavenly,'; and the asura, a special class with occult powers. This situation was reflected in Vedic India; later on, asura came to signify, in Sanskrit, a kind of demon, because of the baleful aspect of the asura's invisible power. In Iran the evolution must have been different:

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