Zoroastrianism Facts That You Might Not Have Heard Of Before | Kidadl


Zoroastrianism Facts That You Might Not Have Heard Of Before

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Zoroastrianism is believed to be one of the oldest monotheistic religions in the world.

Zoroastrianism was founded by Prophet Zoroaster, also known as Zarathustra. The ancient religion of Zoroastrianism gained popularity in ancient Iran circa 3,500 years ago.

The religion is considered to be similar to other larger religions like Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, which, unlike Zoroastrianism, are still followed by massive populations around the globe. It is even argued that these three Abrahamic religions were influenced by Zoroastrianism. The religion is named after its founder, Zoroaster, who was given the status of proper in the religion. After its rise to prominence, Zoroastrianism was followed by several Persian dynasties and would be used as the recognized religion of the empire. Zoroastrianism's dominance came to an end when Persia was taken over by the Islamic conquest in the 7th century as Islam became the dominant religion and spread throughout the Arab regions and beyond the Arabian peninsula.

If you like this article about Zoroastrianism facts, be sure to check out articles about Guatemala's major religions and Viking religion facts too!

Zoroastrianism in Western Culture

In ancient Persian society, Zoroastrianism was seen as an important religion as it taught people to live a simple life that required no blood sacrifices to please the Ahura Mazda and based on recordings and historical occurrences, it is believed that Zoroastrianism was used as the basis of other growing religions like Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

Western culture took inspiration from the teachings and added them to their own religious texts to create a culmination of religions around the world.

Pre-Zoroastrian Iranian religion

Not much is known about the Iranian religion prior to the rise of Zoroastrianism.

The ancient Iranian people emerged from the Indo-Iranians in the 2nd-Millenium B.C. These natives dominated the Iranian Plateau and the Eurasian Steppe and their religion is thought to have been derived from the Proto-Indo-Iranian religion, which made it similar to the Vedic religion. Because of a lack of material or written evidence of the religious practices, the religion was reconstructed from Babylonian, Greek, and Iranian tales.

After the invasion of the Arabs, Zoroastrianism became a minority religion and religious persecution led to followers converting to Islam.

The Reformation Of Zarathustra

Zoroaster, the Persian Prophet, was born to Pourusaspa and Dughdova, who were Persian nobles. Pourusaspa is believed to belong to the priestly class as Zoroaster would grow up to become a priest just like his father. Zoroaster's education began at an early age, allowing him to practice the priesthood duties instead of working in other occupations.

By the age of 15, Zoroaster became a priest and possibly served as an assistant to an experienced priest. He is believed to have left home when he was 20 years old. He found animal sacrifice distasteful and would later preach about rejecting sacrifices of animals when he taught the world about Zoroastrianism.

By the age of 30, Zoroaster is believed to have experienced a life-changing vision when he attended the festival of Nowruz, which is celebrated to pay tribute to the spring season. A celestial being appeared in front of him at the riverbank and declared himself a messenger that was sent by Ahura Mazda, and the message that he brought was the existence of one true God, Ahura Mazda, and that he did not require any sort of blood sacrifices, and would only judge people based on their ethical conduct. Zoroaster was the chosen one and he was to preach the revelation.

Zoroaster's revelations were rejected by priests and he was forced to flee from his home after his life was threatened by the local populace. He would stop preaching the new truth but would continue to pray to receive Ahura Mazda's guidance. Zoroaster would later record these revelations in written form that would come to be known as the Avesta.

Based on stories from the Avesta's about the life of Zoroaster, it is believed that he engaged in a debate with the priests of King Vishtaspa for amusement. Zoroaster won all the arguments which led him to be imprisoned by Vishtaspa. Zoroaster would, later on, heal Vishtaspa's favorite horse that was left paralyzed. Vishtaspa found out about this and released Zoroaster and listened intently to his messages. According to Zoroastrian traditions, Vishtaspa was the first convert and his position as the King saw the common populace converting to Zoroastrianism.

It is unknown how the religion spread after Vishtaspa as neither Zoroaster nor his disciples recorded the teachings in written form. It is believed that his words were repeated in rituals and memorized, with most of the teaching being passed down orally for several generations until a written form was found. The Achaemenid Empire who ruled Persia between 550-330 B.C. were Zoroastrians. Zoroaster continued preaching his love for Zoroastrianism until he died at the age of 77, as it is believed. The Sassanian Period works pointed out the fact that he was Zoroaster was actually assassinated by a priest belonging to the old religion who despised the Zoroastrian tradition.

Zoroaster's teaching encourages followers to live a simple life and believe in the existence of the Supreme god Ahura Mazda, who is all good, and his unyielding rival, Angra Mainyu, who is all-evil. He also taught his followers that good deeds, good words, and good thoughts were crucial to the goodness of an individual.

Facts about the Zoroastrian religion are amusing!

Nature And Significance

The early Persian faith developed prior to their arrival in Iran in the 3rd millennium B.C. and took inspiration from the Susiana people and Elamites whose belief system revolved around the presence of many gods, who were ruled by Ahura Mazda, and it was Ahura Mazda who protected and guided humanity from the Angra Mainyu led evil forces.

According to these beliefs, humans were born into the world to follow Ahura Mazda and reject the evil temptations of Angra Mainyu. Ahura Mazda created the first couple in the form of Mashya and Mashynag who procreated to give rise to the human race. However, they were later expelled from paradise for listening to Angra Mainyu and doubting the teachings of Ahura Mazda. Their descendants, however, were allowed to live peaceful and meaningful lives if they were loyal to Ahura Mazda.

With no written scripture, it is unknown how the faith was observed or how rituals were conducted. Certain aspects of the faith, however, were preserved in later Zoroastrian works, and it is known there was a priestly class (later known as the magi) and the gods were worshipped at outdoor shrines known as Fire Temples.

Priests received sacrifices in the form of grains, food, or valuable possessions for their service to the community which made priesthood one of the wealthiest occupations of ancient Iran.

Iranian Zoroastrians speak their own dialect alongside some Farsi, which has been classified as a Dari dialect of Afghan Zoroastrians. The city of Yazd, formerly known as Yezd, had houses with large halls and had rooms that were used for religious practices.

Relation To Other Religions And Cultures

Zoroastrianism served as the state religion of Persian Empires and was a religion that focused more on the free spirit of the human mind.

Zoroastrianism is often considered to be the first global religion and, unlike other tribal faiths like Egyptian and Judaism religion, aimed to create followers from all tribes and backgrounds. The faith welcomed foreigners and preached the ideas of salvation that would come with them embracing religions. Zoroastrianism was also receptive to other ideas and religions in the world and based its judgment based on the person's deeds and not their faith.

Religious freedom during the Sassanian Period epitomizes the blasphemous belief that Zorvan (Time) was the Supreme being and Ahura Mazda, was an entity created by Zorvan. The belief also pitted Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu against each other in the form of twin brothers who battled for equal powers. However, everything would go as Zorvan (Time) would allow.

The first confrontations came when Christians in the 4th century CE extinguished the sacred fires of the Zoroastrian temples and spread negative teachings about Zoroastrianism, calling it a false faith. Christians did not have the political power or numbers to put pressure on Zoroastrians. This was not the case with Muslim Arabs, as they destroyed Zoroastrian fire temples, libraries, and shrines when they took control of Persia.

Zoroastrianism managed to survive among the refugees who fled the Arabic invasion; these people took shelter in India in the form of Parsis and among the small Iranian population practice Zoroastrianism to this day. This religion is credited with influencing Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Zoroastrianism is seen as the first monotheistic faith and helped create the concepts of good versus bad, salvation, heaven and hell, judgment after death, an end-time (apocalypse), and the existence of a messiah. It is believed that these teachings were established centuries before the birth of Zoroaster and were not limited to any certain sect of society.

Did You Know...

Zoroastrianism is known as the first ecological religion as it taught its followers to care for God's creation, which is why Zoroastrians are more sympathetic towards nature and do not destroy trees and rivers.

Avestan, the language used to compose the holy scriptures, is related to Sanskrit and was developed in the 5th AD for the sole purpose of recording religious text as other existing languages were deemed unworthy of recording the sacred words inscribed in the religious texts.

A Zoroastrian priest wears a traditional white robe and white cap. Some even wear long beards. Priests are scarce in the modern-day as the ritual of becoming a priest is difficult and time-consuming.

After being adopted as the recognized religion of the Achaemenid Persian Empire, from 550-330 B.C., Zoroastrianism fully flourished under the Sassanian Empire that ruled between 224-651 B.C. Zoroastrianism was made the state religion, and Zorvanism branched from the religion. Zorvanism was seen as a blasphemous practice. Even though the faith was suppressed after Arab Muslims came to power, Zoroastrianism still stayed relevant in the Persian Empire.

Agiary or Fire Temple is used as a communal worshipping establishment by Zoroastrians. Temple worshipping is not promoted, instead, followers are encouraged to pray at home.

After its inception, Zoroastrianism would go on to thrive for more than a thousand years. It was adopted as the official religion of various Persian dynasties that descended from the Achaemenid Empire, which included the Sassanian and Parthian Empires. However, after the invasion of Arab Muslims of Persia between 633 and 651 CE and the end of the Sassanian Empire, the spread of the religion came to a halt as Zoroastrians were imposed with a heavy tax in exchange for practicing the religion by the Islamic rulers. Most Iranian Zoroastrians went on to convert to Islam to evade a stressful lifestyle.

Zoroastrians are currently divided into two groups, Parsis and Iranians.

Zoroastrianism teaches its followers the core value of befriending enemies, teaching the ignorant, and bringing the wicked to the righteous path by following the wise lord.

As of today, there are around 100,000 - 200,000 followers of Zoroastrianism worldwide who believe in the existence of the wise lord. The biggest Zoroastrian community can be found in Iran and India. Around 70,000 followers reside in India, while around 25,000 followers reside in Iran. Other communities can also be found in Pakistan, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, and other smaller countries.

Zoroastrians believe that there is a never-ending battle between good and evil. Ahura Mazda administrates creation and Angra Mainyu administrator destruction of everything Ahura Mazda creates. Zoroastrians believe that good and bad in life control everything. Humans, too, are a mixture of good and bad and their free will allows them to either choose good or bad depending on their beliefs.

Followers of Zoroastrianism believe in treating every living organism with care. The fundamentals of Zoroastrianism teach people to care for the earth, livestock, pets, and animals, because of which followers of modern Zoroastrianism choose to follow veganism.

Archaeologists believe that Zoroastrianism is based on the ideas of ancient Iran and its polytheistic religions. Zoroastrianism is thought to date back to six B.C., but the religion did not appear completely until 10 B.C.

Based on the preachings of Prophet Zoroaster and the holy scriptures, it is believed that Zoroastrianism is the oldest religion and the Zoroastrian faith is still in practice today in parts of western India in the Parsi community and in small parts across the globe.

A Tower of Silence, also known as a Dakhma, is a circular, elevated building where dead human bodies are exposed to nature to prevent contaminating the soil with corpses. The bodies are placed on a metal platform that creates a distance between the body and the ground before the bodies are laid down in a cement grave. Dakhmas were banned in Iran in the '70s.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Zoroastrianism facts then why not take a look at ancient India religion facts, or Afghanistan religion facts?

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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