EssaysForStudent.com - Free Essays, Term Papers & Book Notes
Search

Zoroastrianism

By:   •  Research Paper  •  814 Words  •  February 9, 2010  •  788 Views

Page 1 of 4

Join now to read essay 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.

horizontal rule

Introduction:

Zoroastrianism is a small religion with about 140,000 members. Yet its importance to humanity is much greater than its current numbers might suggest, because:

bullet Their theology has had a great impact on Judaism, Christianity and other later religions, in the beliefs surrounding God and Satan, the soul, heaven and hell, savior, resurrection, final judgment, etc.

bullet It is one of the oldest religions still in existence,

bullet It may have been the first monotheistic religion.

The religion was founded by Zarathushtra (Zoroaster in Greek; Zarthosht in India and Persia). Conservative Zoroastrians assign a date of 6000 BCE to the founding of the religion; other followers estimate 600 BCE. Historians and religious scholars generally date his life sometime between 1500 and 1000 BCE on the basis of his style of writing.

He lived in Persia, modern day Iran. Legends say that his birth was predicted and that attempts were made by the forces of evil to kill him as a child. He preached a monotheism in a land which followed an aboriginal polytheistic religion. He was attacked for his teaching, but finally won the support of the king. Zoroastrianism became the state religion of various Persian empires, until the 7th Century CE.

When Muslim Arabs invaded Persia in 650 CE, a small number of Zoroastrians fled to India where most are concentrated today. Those who remained behind have survived centuries of persecution, systematic slaughter, forced conversion, heavy taxes, etc. They now number only about 18,000 and reside chiefly in Yazd, Kernan and Tehran in what is now Iran. The 1991 census counted 3,190 Zoroastrians in Canada. The actual number is believed to be much higher.

The Zorastrian holy book is called the Avesta. This includes the original words of their founder Zarathushtra, preserved in a series of five hymns, called the Gathas. The latter represent the core text of the religion. The Gathas are abstract sacred poetry, directed towards the worship of the One God, understanding of righteousness and cosmic order, promotion of social justice and individual choice between good and evil. The Gathas have a general and even universal vision.

At some later date (most scholars say many centuries later), the remaining parts of the Avestas were written. These deal with laws of ritual and practice, with the traditions of the faith. The Zoroastrian community is sharply divided between those who would follow mostly (or exclusively) the teachings of the original Gathas, and those who believe that the later traditions are important and equally divinely inspired.

horizontal rule

Zoroastrian Beliefs:

Beliefs include:

bullet A single god Ahura Mazda who is supreme. Communication between Himself and humans is by a number of Attributes, called Amesha Spentas or Bounteous Immortals. Within the Gathas, the original Zoroastrian sacred text, these Immortals are sometimes described as concepts, and are sometimes personified.

bullet One school of thought promotes a cosmic dualism between:

bullet An all powerful God Ahura Mazda who is the only deity worthy of being worshipped, and

bullet An evil spirit of violence and death, Angra Mainyu, who opposes Ahura

Continue for 3 more pages »  •  Join now to read essay Zoroastrianism and other term papers or research documents
Download as (for upgraded members)
txt
pdf