Who are the Zoroastrians?
Who are the Zoroastrians?
By : Porus Homi Havewala
My ancestors, the Zoroastrians of Iran (pre-Islamic) were members of the Indo-European family known as the Aryans. They called themselves Zoroastrians because they believed in the teachings of the first Aryan prophet, Zarathushtra.
Zarathushtra was the first prophet to preach a monotheistic religion, and He was born in Iran about 8000 years BC. He revealed that there was only one God, Ahura Mazda and that life in the physical world was a battle between good and evil. As per man’s actions, he would either cross the “Chinvato Peretu” or the sword bridge after death, and reach Heaven, or fall from it and go to the abode of the evil one. In the final days there would be a battle between good and evil, evil would be vanquished and the world would be purified by a bath of molten metal. Mazda would then judge the world, resurrecting the dead and His Kingdom would be established on earth.
Zarathushtra’s songs are called the “Gathas” which linguistically may be older than the Indian Vedic scriptures. The Gathas are written in an ancient Avestan dialect. This is a sister language to Sanskrit of India, and Greek and Latin of the West. The reason is, the common ancestors (common to the ancient Iranians, Ancient Indians, Greeks, and Europeans) were one and the same – the Indo-European or Aryan peoples.
Surprisingly, many so-called Christian concepts actually were derived from Zoroastrian Aryan ideas which thrived in Iran for thousands of years until the Arab invasion of Iran around 1300 years ago. Concepts such as heaven and hell, God and the evil adversary ahriman, the coming of the Saviour or Saoshyant born of a virgin, the end-time purge of the world by Fire followed by the resurrection of the dead (Ristakhiz), the making fresh of the world (Frashogard) and the final battle between good and evil leading to the final defeat of evil. These beliefs filtered down to Judaism during the reign of King Khushru (Cyrus) of Iran.
Although proud to be Aryans, Zoroastrians also believe that all races in the world are created by God and are equal – a true sign of the real ancient Aryan’s nobility and tolerance. Cyrus, King of Iran who was an Aryan rebuilt the temple of the Jews after freeing the Jews from Babylon – for this, he is still remembered by the Jews and called the “Anointed of the Lord” in the Bible. The Jews still celebrate that act of the true Aryans in a festival. Many Jews then stayed in Iran under Cyrus and his successors such as Darayus, as equal subjects under the King. Books of the Bible written after this stay have taken all these Zoroastrian concepts, from there they came to Christianity and other religions. There are scholars who consider Zoroastrianism as such to be the mother religion of the present day world’s faiths.
In fact the edict of Cyrus proclaiming equality for all his subjects is enshrined in the United Nations today. The original Aryans were realy multicultural and tolerant of all races! So, it is probable that the Jews were influenced by the Zoroastrian faith of Iran in those days – and took on the concepts of heaven/hell, God’s evil adversary, the resurrection and the final purification of the world – the virgin birth, the Saviour etc., all these concepts being Zoroastrian. There are other similarities too – certain purificatory observances such as the impurity of menstruation etc. are found in both faiths. Indeed, the very idea of the Messiah, and the very concept of Jesus could be Zoroastrian in origin.
Zarathushtra’s religion was the prominent one in Iran until the conquest by the Arabs, around 1300 years ago, who converted Iran to Islam. To preserve the Zoroastrian faith, this most ancient of faiths, indeed the “mother” faith of all mankind, a band of the Zarathushtrians sailed by boat to India about 1300 years ago, and settled in India where they were called the Parsees (from “Pars” ie. Iran). I am a descendant of these migrants. Rare as diamonds are, we number 100,000 or so in the world today.
We keep the holy FIRE in our temple as the symbol of Ahura Mazda, and our priests feed the fire with sandalwood and cedar and intone the ancient sacred Mathras (verses of praise) in the ancient Aryan Avestan language. The Mathric incantations have incredible divine potent power, a power used to fight evil. We also revere the elements of God such as water, earth, wind, and the creations of God such as the Sun, moon and stars. We wear the sacred Aryan girdle or the “Aiwiyaonghanem” around our waists, a sign of our ancient Aryan lineage and religion, and the white “Sudreh” as a garment.
My real name is “Pourashpa”, an Avestan Indo-European name meaning “Owner of Grey Horses”, horses signifying spiritual wisdom. As per the ancient custom, it should be always mentioned with my father’s name ie. Pourashpa Puthra (son of) Hormuzd (my father’s name). The ancient Avestan Pourashpa does have a mystical meaning because we believe the entire language itself, and its pronunciation (our ancient prayers the Gathas are in Avestan, these are the songs of Zarathushtra) itself has a powerful mystical effect in the fight against evil.
The Link between Zoroastrian & Germanic mythology:
Recently I read a book on “Runes” by D. Jason Cooper. In this book, Cooper suggests a close link between Pre-christian Germanic mythology and Zoroastrian mythology. He says that the Germanic peoples had travelled from Iran and India, and had kept some myths they had known before travelling, aspects of Indo-European thought seen in the Rig-Veda and the Gathas. As examples: German mythology says the doom of the world will come after 3 winters with no summer in between, then the fires of “Muspell” would sweep the world. In Zoroastrian mythology the final battle between good and evil will take place after 3 years of winter with no summer in between. Then a river of molten metal would sweep the earth, purifying the righteous as a bath of warm milk and scalding the evil, purifying them too.
Also, in both mythologies, two necessarily antagonistic forces (good and evil) and their contention has brought the material universe into being, in both cases a sacred cow is involved, in both cases the death of a sexless giant is involved (the first man, GayoMaretan in Zoroastianism). In both cases, the forces of good and evil will contend till the final days. Evil or chaotic forces are contained underground in both cases. Nails are considered a help to evil forces in both. (Loki and his ship of nails of dead men). Cooper also says that Germanic mythology as we now have it is a late corruption of the original, Ragnarok was originally a purification after which the world was restored to its pristine state. Only later it became the destruction of all Gods but a few. Not so in the Zoroastrian case.
I was once surprised to read a book by a German author, written in the early 1900s, on German shepherd dogs which at the very outset quoted the “Vendidad”, particularly passages in this ancient book which described the creation of the faithful Dog by Ahura Mazda (God) Himself. That showed the popularity of the Vendidad in Germany to me at that time. I also like to mention here that Edgar Cayce the “sleeping” prophet of the USA, the famous clairvoyant once mentioned that Iran was the ancient site of the “Garden of Eden”. A most interesting thing to say, perhaps indicating the very ancient culture of old Iran. Please write to me if you have any questions on this ancient religion of the Aryans, called Zoroastrianism.
Porus Homi Havewala.
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