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Zoroastrianism is the religious and philosophical teaching attributed to the prophet Zoroaster. A supreme divine authority in this teaching is an uncreated creator Ahura Mazda, giving another name to this teaching – Mazdaism.
Zoroastrianism's primary scriptures are the Avesta or the Zend Avesta (in Pahlavi avesta means law and zend – commentary). The remained texts of Avesta are quite fragmented and corrupted, they were written in old Iranian, which was similar to Vedic Sanskrit. The Avesta has four major sections – a liturgical work the Yasna consisting of the Gathas ("songs"), which is considered to be the oldest part of the Avesta written by Zoroaster himself at least partially; the Vispered, a supplemental texts to the Yasna; the Yashts, consisting of praise hymns; and the Videvdat, a detailed guidance on ritual purification. Also Zoroastrianism is based on secondary sources such as Achaemenid inscriptions, works of Hellenic authors such as of Herodotus, Strabo, and Plutarch, and the Avesta commentaries written in 6th cent. a.d., which complement lost portion of Avesta.
Zoroastrianism appears to originate a religious teaching of the sedentary peaceful communities of Northern Iran, as opposed to the religion of their enemies, nomadic tribes, which followed animistic polytheism. Throughout his writings Zoroaster contrasts these two peoples as asha (“the people of virtue”) and druj (“the people of the lie”). As the followers of Zoroastrianism were sedentary, this religion was concerned with harvest and domestic animals protection and increase, a condition of this people survival.
Prophet Zoroaster incorporated into his religion his religion the old Persian pantheon of gods. However this pantheon was much revised, and was divided into those deities who were truthful and, therefore, beneficent and those who were repugnant due to their falseness and malice. This was not a like in a preceding Persian religion, which tolerated worshiping all of these deities. Little is known about Zoroaster himself, this knowledge primarily derives from the Gathas incorporated into Avesta, which are attributed to Zoroaster himself. Also some information is available from the legends in the traditional Zoroastrian texts written between ninth to twelfth centuries.
The Gathas contain allusions to personal events, such as Zoroaster’s triumph over obstacls imposed by competing priests and the ruling class. They also indicate he had difficulty spreading his teachings, and was even treated with ill-will in his mother’s hometown. They also describe familial events such as the marriage of his daughter, at which Zoroaster presided.
Leading among the righteous deities (Ahuras), according to Zoroaster, was the sovereign knowledge, Ahura Mazda, which, in primitive Zoroastrianism, was the only god. Ahura Mazda is surrounded by six the Amesha Spentas (the "Bounteous Immortals"), attendant deities: are the Righteous Thought (Vohu Mana), the Highest Righteousness (Asha Vahista), the Divine Kingdom (Khshathra Vairya), the Pious Devotion (Spenta Armaiti), the Salvation (Haurvatat) the immortality (Ameretat). These six Amesha Spentas, developed into abstract representations since formerly they were personal aspects of Ahura Mazdah himself. Later the six Amesha Spentas became less abstract and more “archangelic” in nature.
The daevas or divs were the evil spirits, opposing the ahuras (righteous deities), were led by Ahriman, the "Destructive Principle". The fully developed Zoroastrianism’s eschatology and cosmogony was based on the confrontation between the righteous supernatural hosts (ahuras and daevas).
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After death each person crosses the bridge over the hell, called Chinvato Peretav. If the person is not descent, the bridge will narrow is reprobate, the bridge narrows making the person to fall into perdition, while if the person was devotional he will make his way to heaven.
The followers of Zoroastrianism believe that the entire history of the universe, including past and future, consists of four 3,000 year periods. In the first period no matter existed in the
The entire history of the universe, past, present, and future, the religion teaches, is divided into four periods, each of 3,000 years. In the first no matter existed, the second period preceded the Zoroaster’s coming and in the third Zoroaster’s teaching is spread. During the 9,000 years of the first three periods, a righteous and evil struggle with each other, and whether huumans adhere virtue or evil helps Ahura Mazda or Ahriman. In the last, the fourth, period of the universe, according to the Zoroaster, a Savior, Saoshyant, will appear and will bring a final renovation of the world, the dead will rise for their final reward or punishment. The final battle between good and evil on earth and heavens will occur and the good will triumph and reign eternally.
Zoroastrianism is considered to appear approximately in the 6th century BCE and entered the recorded history in the middle of the 5th century BCE in Herodotus' “The Histories”, whose description of "Greater Iranian society had distinctive feature of Zoroastrianism. According to Herodotus i.101, the tribe named magi, were a priestly caste early Zoroastrianism and wielded considerable influence at the government in the first period of Zoroastrianism.
Darius I and later Achaemenid emperors (550–330 BC) acknowledging their devotion to Ahura Mazda and therefore it could be considered the state religion of that first Persian Empire. A number of the Zoroastrian sacral texts, later incorporated in the Avesta were written in that period. Also during the later Achaemenid era Zoroastrianism incorporated many of the divine concepts of proto-Indo-Iranian religions.
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Achaemenid era finished when Alexander the Great conquered Persia and destroyed the privileged status of Zoroastrianism in Persia. There is little information regarding the existence of Zoroastrianism for the next five centuries. Zoroastrianism reappeared in 226 AD under the ruling of Ardashir I, founder of the Sassanid dynasty, the last pre-Islamic Iranian empire, who in many instances fostered a revival of once ruined Achaemenid culture. Zoroastrianism remained state religion in Sassanids for four centuries. It was until middle of the 7th century, when Persia fell to Islam and Zoroastrianism virtually extinguished.
Nowadays, the Parsis people of India, inhabiting Mumbai, is the largest group of remaining Zoroastrians, and is estimated to amount to 124,000 and 190,000 person.
Many researchers believe that Zoroastrianism’s key concepts of demonology and eschatology had significant influence on the Abrahamic religions, i.e. Judaism, Christianity and Islam (Duchesne-Guillemin: 813–815).
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