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Zoroastrianism

Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is one of the world's oldest continuously practiced religions, based on the teachings of the Iranian-speaking prophet Zoroaster (also known as Zaraθuštra in Avestan or Zartosht in Modern Persian). Zoroastrianism has a dualistic cosmology of good and evil and an eschatology which predicts the ultimate conquest of evil by good. Zoroastrianism exalts an uncreated and benevolent deity of wisdom, Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord), as its supreme being. The unique historical features of Zoroastrianism, such as its monotheism, messianism, judgment after death, heaven and hell, and free will may have influenced other religious and philosophical systems, including Second Temple Judaism, Gnosticism, Greek philosophy, Christianity, Islam, and the Baháʼí Faith.

With possible roots dating back to the Second Millennium BCE, Zoroastrianism enters written history in the 5th century BCE. It served as the state religion of the ancient Iranian empires for more than a millennium, from around 600 BCE to 650 CE, but declined from the 7th century CE onwards following the Muslim conquest of Persia of 633–654 and subsequent persecution of the Zoroastrian people. Recent estimates place the current number of Zoroastrians at around 110,000–120,000 at most, with the majority living in India, Iran, and North America; their number has been thought to be declining.

The most important texts of the religion are those contained within the Avesta, which includes as central the writings of Zoroaster known as the Gathas, poems within the Yasna that define the teachings of the Zoroaster, the main worship service of Zoroastrianism. The religious philosophy of Zoroaster divided the early Iranian gods of the Proto-Indo-Iranian tradition into ahuras and daevas, the latter of which were not considered worthy of worship. Zoroaster proclaimed that Ahura Mazda was the supreme creator, the creative and sustaining force of the universe through Asha, and that human beings are given a choice between supporting Ahura Mazda or not, making them responsible for their choices. Though Ahura Mazda has no equal contesting force, Angra Mainyu (destructive spirit/mentality), whose forces are born from Aka Manah (evil thought), is considered the main adversarial force of the religion, standing against Spenta Mainyu (creative spirit/mentality). Middle Persian literature developed Angra Mainyu further into Ahriman and advancing him to be the direct adversary to Ahura Mazda.

In Zoroastrianism, Asha (truth, cosmic order), the life force that originates from Ahura Mazda, stands in opposition to Druj (falsehood, deceit) and Ahura Mazda is considered to be all-good with no evil emanating from the deity. Ahura Mazda works in gētīg (the visible material realm) and mēnōg (the invisible spiritual and mental realm) through the seven (six when excluding Spenta Mainyu) Amesha Spentas (the direct emanations of Ahura Mazda).

Zoroastrianism is not entirely uniform in theological and philosophical thought, especially with historical and modern influences having a significant impact on individual and local beliefs, practices, values and vocabulary, sometimes merging with tradition and in other cases displacing it. In Zoroastrianism, the purpose in life is to become an ashavan (a master of Asha) and to bring happiness into the world, which contributes to the cosmic battle against evil. Zoroastrianism's core teachings include:

  • Follow the Threefold Path of Asha: Humata, Huxta, Huvarshta (Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds).
  • Charity is a way of keeping one's soul aligned with Asha and thus of spreading happiness.
  • The spiritual equality and duty of men and women alike.
  • Being good for the sake of goodness and without the hope of reward (see Ashem Vohu).

Contents

The name Zoroaster (Ζωροάστηρ) is a Greek rendering of the Avestan name Zarathustra. He is known as Zartosht and Zardosht in Persian and Zaratosht in Gujarati. The Zoroastrian name of the religion is Mazdayasna, which combines Mazda- with the Avestan word yasna, meaning "worship, devotion". In English, an adherent of the faith is commonly called a Zoroastrian or a Zarathustrian. An older expression still used today is Behdin, meaning "The best religion|beh < Middle Persian weh ‘good’ + din < Middle Persian dēn < Avestan daēnā". In the Zoroastrian liturgy, this term is used as a title for a lay individual who has been formally inducted into the religion in a Navjote ceremony, in contrast to the priestly titles of osta, osti, ervad (hirbod), mobed and dastur.

The first surviving reference to Zoroaster in English scholarship is attributed to Thomas Browne (1605–1682), who briefly refers to Zoroaster in his 1643 Religio Medici. The term Mazdaism () is an alternative form in English used as well for the faith, taking Mazda- from the name Ahura Mazda and adding the suffix -ism to suggest a belief system.

Theology

Zoroastrians believe that there is one universal, transcendent, all-good, and uncreated supreme creator deity, Ahura Mazda, or the "Wise Lord" (Ahura meaning "Lord" and Mazda meaning "Wisdom" in Avestan). Zoroaster keeps the two attributes separate as two different concepts in most of the Gathas yet sometimes combines them into one form. Zoroaster also claims that Ahura Mazda is omniscient but not omnipotent. In the Gathas, Ahura Mazda is noted as working through emanations known as the Amesha Spenta and with the help of "other ahuras", of which Sraosha is the only one explicitly named of the latter category.[citation needed]

Scholars and theologians have long debated on the nature of Zoroastrianism, with dualism, monotheism, and polytheism being the main terms applied to the religion. Some scholars assert that Zoroastrianism's concept of divinity covers both being and mind as immanent entities, describing Zoroastrianism as having a belief in an immanent self-creating universe with consciousness as its special attribute, thereby putting Zoroastrianism in the pantheistic fold sharing its origin with Indian Hinduism. In any case, Asha, the main spiritual force which comes from Ahura Mazda, is the cosmic order which is the antithesis of chaos, which is evident as druj, falsehood and disorder. The resulting cosmic conflict involves all of creation, mental/spiritual and material, including humanity at its core, which has an active role to play in the conflict.

In the Zoroastrian tradition, druj comes from Angra Mainyu (also referred to in later texts as "Ahriman"), the destructive spirit/mentality, while the main representative of Asha in this conflict is Spenta Mainyu, the creative spirit/mentality. Ahura Mazda is immanent in humankind and interacts with creation through emanations known as the Amesha Spenta, the bounteous/holy immortals, which are representative and guardians of different aspects of creation and the ideal personality. Ahura Mazda, through these Amesha Spenta, is assisted by a league of countless divinities called Yazatas, meaning "worthy of worship", and each is generally a hypostasis of a moral or physical aspect of creation. According to Zoroastrian cosmology, in articulating the Ahuna Vairya formula, Ahura Mazda made the ultimate triumph of good against Angra Mainyu evident. Ahura Mazda will ultimately prevail over the evil Angra Mainyu, at which point reality will undergo a cosmic renovation called Frashokereti and limited time will end. In the final renovation, all of creation—even the souls of the dead that were initially banished to or chose to descend into "darkness"—will be reunited with Ahura Mazda in the Kshatra Vairya (meaning "best dominion"), being resurrected to immortality. In Middle Persian literature, the prominent belief was that at the end of time a savior-figure known as the Saoshyant would bring about the Frashokereti, while in the Gathic texts the term Saoshyant (meaning "one who brings benefit") referred to all believers of Mazdayasna but changed into a messianic concept in later writings.[citation needed]

Zoroastrian theology includes foremost the importance of following the Threefold Path of Asha revolving around Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds. There is also a heavy emphasis on spreading happiness, mostly through charity, and respecting the spiritual equality and duty of both men and women. Zoroastrianism's emphasis on the protection and veneration of nature and its elements has led some to proclaim it as the "world's first proponent of ecology." The Avesta and other texts call for the protection of water, earth, fire and air making it, in effect, an ecological religion: "It is not surprising that Mazdaism…is called the first ecological religion. The reverence for Yazatas (divine spirits) emphasizes the preservation of nature (Avesta: Yasnas 1.19, 3.4, 16.9; Yashts 6.3–4, 10.13)." However, this particular assertion is undermined by the fact that early Zoroastrians had a duty to exterminate "evil" species, a dictate no longer followed in modern Zoroastrianism.

Practices

An 8th century Tang dynasty Chinese clay figurine of a Sogdian man wearing a distinctive cap and face veil, possibly a camel rider or even a Zoroastrian priest engaging in a ritual at a fire temple, since face veils were used to avoid contaminating the holy fire with breath or saliva; Museum of Oriental Art (Turin), Italy.

The religion states that active and ethical participation in life through good deeds formed from good thoughts and good words is necessary to ensure happiness and to keep chaos at bay. This active participation is a central element in Zoroaster's concept of free will and Zoroastrianism as such rejects extreme forms of asceticism and monasticism but historically has allowed for moderate expressions of these concepts.

In Zoroastrian tradition, life is a temporary state in which a mortal is expected actively to participate in the continuing battle between Asha and Druj. Prior to its incarnation at the birth of the child, the urvan (soul) of an individual is still united with its fravashi (personal/higher spirit), which has existed since Ahura Mazda created the universe. Prior to the splitting off of the urvan the fravashi participates in the maintenance of creation led by Ahura Mazda. During the life of a given individual, the fravashi acts as a source of inspiration to perform good actions and as a spiritual protector. The fravashis of ancestors cultural, spiritual, and heroic, associated with illustrious bloodlines, are venerated and can be called upon to aid the living. On the fourth day after death, the urvan is reunited with its fravashi, whereupon the experiences of life in the material world are collected for use in the continuing battle for good in the spiritual world. For the most part, Zoroastrianism does not have a notion of reincarnation, at least not until the Frashokereti. Followers of Ilm-e-Kshnoom in India believe in reincarnation and practice vegetarianism, among other currently non-traditional opinions, although there have been various theological statements supporting vegetarianism in Zoroastrianism's history and claims that Zoroaster was vegetarian.

In Zoroastrianism, water (aban) and fire (atar) are agents of ritual purity, and the associated purification ceremonies are considered the basis of ritual life. In Zoroastrian cosmogony, water and fire are respectively the second and last primordial elements to have been created, and scripture considers fire to have its origin in the waters (re. which conception see Apam Napat). Both water and fire are considered life-sustaining, and both water and fire are represented within the precinct of a fire temple. Zoroastrians usually pray in the presence of some form of fire (which can be considered evident in any source of light), and the culminating rite of the principal act of worship constitutes a "strengthening of the waters". Fire is considered a medium through which spiritual insight and wisdom are gained, and water is considered the source of that wisdom. Both fire and water are also hypostasized as the Yazatas Atar and Anahita, which worship hymns and litanies dedicated to them.[citation needed]

A corpse is considered a host for decay, i.e., of druj. Consequently, scripture enjoins the safe disposal of the dead in a manner such that a corpse does not pollute the good creation. These injunctions are the doctrinal basis of the fast-fading traditional practice of ritual exposure, most commonly identified with the so-called Towers of Silence for which there is no standard technical term in either scripture or tradition. Ritual exposure is currently mainly practiced by Zoroastrian communities of the Indian subcontinent, in locations where it is not illegal and diclofenac poisoning has not led to the virtual extinction of scavenger birds. Other Zoroastrian communities either cremate their dead, or bury them in graves that are cased with lime mortar, though Zoroastrians are keen to dispose of their dead in the most environmentally harmless way possible.[citation needed]

For a variety of social and political factors the Zoroastrians of the Indian subcontinent, namely the Parsis and Iranis have not engaged in conversion since at least the 18th Century. Zoroastrian high priests have historically opined there is no reason to not allow conversion which is also supported by the Revayats and other scripture though later priests have condemned these judgements. Within Iran, many of the beleaguered Zoroastrians have been also historically opposed or not practically concerned with the matter of conversion. Currently though, The Council of Tehran Mobeds (the highest ecclesiastical authority within Iran) endorses conversion but conversion from Islam to Zoroastrianism is illegal under the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Painted clay and alabaster head of a Zoroastrian priest wearing a distinctive Bactrian-style headdress, Takhti-Sangin, Tajikistan, Greco-Bactrian kingdom, 3rd–2nd century BCE

Classical antiquity

The roots of Zoroastrianism are thought to lie in a common prehistoric Indo-Iranian religious system dating back to the early 2nd millennium BCE. The prophet Zoroaster himself, though traditionally dated to the 6th century BCE, is thought by many modern historians to have been a reformer of the polytheistic Iranian religion who lived in the 10th century BCE. Zoroastrianism as a religion was not firmly established until several centuries later. Zoroastrianism enters recorded history in the mid-5th century BCE. Herodotus' The Histories (completed c. 440 BCE) includes a description of Greater Iranian society with what may be recognizably Zoroastrian features, including exposure of the dead.

The Histories is a primary source of information on the early period of the Achaemenid era (648–330 BCE), in particular with respect to the role of the Magi. According to Herodotus, the Magi were the sixth tribe of the Medes (until the unification of the Persian empire under Cyrus the Great, all Iranians were referred to as "Mede" or "Mada" by the peoples of the Ancient World) and wielded considerable influence at the courts of the Median emperors.

Following the unification of the Median and Persian empires in 550 BCE, Cyrus the Great and later his son Cambyses II curtailed the powers of the Magi after they had attempted to sow dissent following their loss of influence. In 522 BCE, the Magi revolted and set up a rival claimant to the throne. The usurper, pretending to be Cyrus' younger son Smerdis, took power shortly thereafter. Owing to the despotic rule of Cambyses and his long absence in Egypt, "the whole people, Persians, Medes and all the other nations" acknowledged the usurper, especially as he granted a remission of taxes for three years.

Darius I and later Achaemenid emperors acknowledged their devotion to Ahura Mazda in inscriptions, as attested to several times in the Behistun inscription, and appear to have continued the model of coexistence with other religions. Whether Darius was a follower of the teachings of Zoroaster has not been conclusively established as there is no indication of note that worship of Ahura Mazda was exclusively a Zoroastrian practice.

According to later Zoroastrian legend (Denkard and the Book of Arda Viraf), many sacred texts were lost when Alexander the Great's troops invaded Persepolis and subsequently destroyed the royal library there. Diodorus Siculus's Bibliotheca historica, which was completed circa 60 BCE, appears to substantiate this Zoroastrian legend. According to one archaeological examination, the ruins of the palace of Xerxes bear traces of having been burned. Whether a vast collection of (semi-)religious texts "written on parchment in gold ink", as suggested by the Denkard, actually existed remains a matter of speculation, but it is unlikely.

Alexander's conquests largely displaced Zoroastrianism with Hellenistic beliefs, though the religion continued to be practiced many centuries following the demise of the Achaemenids in mainland Persia and the core regions of the former Achaemenid Empire, most notably Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and the Caucasus. In the Cappadocian kingdom, whose territory was formerly an Achaemenid possession, Persian colonists, cut off from their co-religionists in Iran proper, continued to practice the faith [Zoroastrianism] of their forefathers; and there Strabo, observing in the first century B.C., records (XV.3.15) that these "fire kindlers" possessed many "holy places of the Persian Gods", as well as fire temples. Strabo further states that these were "noteworthy enclosures; and in their midst there is an altar, on which there is a large quantity of ashes and where the magi keep the fire ever burning." It was not until the end of the Parthian period (247b.c.a.d. 224) that Zoroastrianism would receive renewed interest.

Late antiquity

As late as the Parthian period, a form of Zoroastrianism was without a doubt the dominant religion in the Armenian lands. The Sassanids aggressively promoted the Zurvanite form of Zoroastrianism, often building fire temples in captured territories to promote the religion. During the period of their centuries-long suzerainty over the Caucasus, the Sassanids made attempts to promote Zoroastrianism there with considerable successes, and it was prominent in the pre-Christian Caucasus (especially modern-day Azerbaijan).[citation needed]

Due to its ties to the Christian Roman Empire, Persia's arch-rival since Parthian times, the Sassanids were suspicious of Roman Christianity, and after the reign of Constantine the Great, sometimes persecuted it. The Sassanid authority clashed with their Armenian subjects in the Battle of Avarayr (a.d. 451), making them officially break with the Roman Church. But the Sassanids tolerated or even sometimes favored the Christianity of the Church of the East. The acceptance of Christianity in Georgia (Caucasian Iberia) saw the Zoroastrian religion there slowly but surely decline, but as late the 5th century a.d. it was still widely practised as something like a second established religion.

Decline in the Middle Ages

A scene from the Hamzanama where Hamza ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib Burns Zarthust's Chest and Shatters the Urn with his Ashes

Most of the Sassanid Empire was overthrown by the Arabs over the course of 16 years in the 7th century. Although the administration of the state was rapidly Islamicized and subsumed under the Umayyad Caliphate, in the beginning "there was little serious pressure" exerted on newly subjected people to adopt Islam. Because of their sheer numbers, the conquered Zoroastrians had to be treated as dhimmis (despite doubts of the validity of this identification that persisted down the centuries), which made them eligible for protection. Islamic jurists took the stance that only Muslims could be perfectly moral, but "unbelievers might as well be left to their iniquities, so long as these did not vex their overlords." In the main, once the conquest was over and "local terms were agreed on", the Arab governors protected the local populations in exchange for tribute.

The Arabs adopted the Sassanid tax-system, both the land-tax levied on land owners and the poll-tax levied on individuals, called jizya, a tax levied on non-Muslims (i.e., the dhimmis). In time, this poll-tax came to be used as a means to humble the non-Muslims, and a number of laws and restrictions evolved to emphasize their inferior status. Under the early orthodox caliphs, as long as the non-Muslims paid their taxes and adhered to the dhimmi laws, administrators were enjoined to leave non-Muslims "in their religion and their land." (Caliph Abu Bakr, qtd. in Boyce 1979, p. 146).

Under Abbasid rule, Muslim Iranians (who by then were in the majority) in many instances showed severe disregard for and mistreated local Zoroastrians. For example, in the 9th century, a deeply venerated cypress tree in Khorasan (which Parthian-era legend supposed had been planted by Zoroaster himself) was felled for the construction of a palace in Baghdad, 2,000 miles (3,200 km) away. In the 10th century, on the day that a Tower of Silence had been completed at much trouble and expense, a Muslim official contrived to get up onto it, and to call the adhan (the Muslim call to prayer) from its walls. This was turned into a pretext to annex the building.

Ultimately, Muslim scholars like Al-Biruni found few records left of the belief of for instance the Khawarizmians because figures like Qutayba ibn Muslim "extinguished and ruined in every possible way all those who knew how to write and read the Khawarizmi writing, who knew the history of the country and who studied their sciences." As a result, "these things are involved in so much obscurity that it is impossible to obtain an accurate knowledge of the history of the country since the time of Islam…"

Conversion

Though subject to a new leadership and harassment, the Zoroastrians were able to continue their former ways, although there was a slow but steady social and economic pressure to convert, with the nobility and city-dwellers being the first to do so, while Islam was accepted more slowly among the peasantry and landed gentry. "Power and worldly-advantage" now lay with followers of Islam, and although the "official policy was one of aloof contempt, there were individual Muslims eager to proselytize and ready to use all sorts of means to do so."

In time, a tradition evolved by which Islam was made to appear as a partly Iranian religion. One example of this was a legend that Husayn, son of the fourth caliph Ali and grandson of Islam's prophet Muhammad, had married a captive Sassanid princess named Shahrbanu. This "wholly fictitious figure" was said to have borne Husayn a son, the historical fourth Shi'a imam, who claimed that the caliphate rightly belonged to him and his descendants, and that the Umayyads had wrongfully wrested it from him. The alleged descent from the Sassanid house counterbalanced the Arab nationalism of the Umayyads, and the Iranian national association with a Zoroastrian past was disarmed. Thus, according to scholar Mary Boyce, "it was no longer the Zoroastrians alone who stood for patriotism and loyalty to the past." The "damning indictment" that becoming Muslim was Un-Iranian only remained an idiom in Zoroastrian texts.

With Iranian support, the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads in 750, and in the subsequent caliphate government—that nominally lasted until 1258—Muslim Iranians received marked favor in the new government, both in Iran and at the capital in Baghdad. This mitigated the antagonism between Arabs and Iranians, but sharpened the distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims. The Abbasids zealously persecuted heretics, and although this was directed mainly at Muslim sectarians, it also created a harsher climate for non-Muslims.

Survival

The fire temple of Baku, c. 1860

Despite economic and social incentives to convert, Zoroastrianism remained strong in some regions, particularly in those furthest away from the Caliphate capital at Baghdad. In Bukhara (in present-day Uzbekistan), resistance to Islam required the 9th-century Arab commander Qutaiba to convert his province four times. The first three times the citizens reverted to their old religion. Finally, the governor made their religion "difficult for them in every way", turned the local fire temple into a mosque, and encouraged the local population to attend Friday prayers by paying each attendee two dirhams. The cities where Arab governors resided were particularly vulnerable to such pressures, and in these cases the Zoroastrians were left with no choice but to either conform or migrate to regions that had a more amicable administration.

The 9th century came to define the great number of Zoroastrian texts that were composed or re-written during the 8th to 10th centuries (excluding copying and lesser amendments, which continued for some time thereafter). All of these works are in the Middle Persian dialect of that period (free of Arabic words), and written in the difficult Pahlavi script (hence the adoption of the term "Pahlavi" as the name of the variant of the language, and of the genre, of those Zoroastrian books). If read aloud, these books would still have been intelligible to the laity. Many of these texts are responses to the tribulations of the time, and all of them include exhortations to stand fast in their religious beliefs. Some, such as the "Denkard", are doctrinal defenses of the religion, while others are explanations of theological aspects (such as the Bundahishn's) or practical aspects (e.g., explanation of rituals) of it.[citation needed]

Fire temple in Yazd
Museum of Zoroastrians in Kerman

In Khorasan in northeastern Iran, a 10th-century Iranian nobleman brought together four Zoroastrian priests to transcribe a Sassanid-era Middle Persian work titled Book of the Lord (Khwaday Namag) from Pahlavi script into Arabic script. This transcription, which remained in Middle Persian prose (an Arabic version, by al-Muqaffa, also exists), was completed in 957 and subsequently became the basis for Firdausi's Book of Kings. It became enormously popular among both Zoroastrians and Muslims, and also served to propagate the Sassanid justification for overthrowing the Arsacids (i.e., that the Sassanids had restored the faith to its "orthodox" form after the Hellenistic Arsacids had allowed Zoroastrianism to become corrupt).[citation needed]

Among migrations were those to cities in (or on the margins of) the great salt deserts, in particular to Yazd and Kerman, which remain centers of Iranian Zoroastrianism to this day. Yazd became the seat of the Iranian high priests during Mongol Il-Khanate rule, when the "best hope for survival [for a non-Muslim] was to be inconspicuous." Crucial to the present-day survival of Zoroastrianism was a migration from the northeastern Iranian town of "Sanjan in south-western Khorasan", to Gujarat, in western India. The descendants of that group are today known as the Parsis—"as the Gujaratis, from long tradition, called anyone from Iran"—who today represent the larger of the two groups of Zoroastrians in India.

The struggle between Zoroastrianism and Islam declined in the 10th and 11th centuries. Local Iranian dynasties, "all vigorously Muslim," had emerged as largely independent vassals of the Caliphs. In the 16th century, in one of the early letters between Iranian Zoroastrians and their co-religionists in India, the priests of Yazd lamented that "no period [in human history], not even that of Alexander, had been more grievous or troublesome for the faithful than 'this millennium of the demon of Wrath'."

Modern

Further information: Parsis, Irani (India), and Zoroastrians in Iran
A modern Zoroastrian fire temple in Western India
Sadeh in Tehran, 2011

Zoroastrianism has survived into the modern period, particularly in India, where the Parsis are thought to have been present since about the 9th century.[citation needed]

Today Zoroastrianism can be divided in two main schools of thought: reformists and traditionalists. Traditionalists are mostly Parsis and accept, beside the Gathas and Avesta, also the Middle Persian literature and like the reformists mostly developed in their modern form from 19th century developments. They generally do not allow conversion to the faith and, as such, for someone to be a Zoroastrian they must be born of Zoroastrian parents. Some traditionalists recognize the children of mixed marriages as Zoroastrians, though usually only if the father is a born Zoroastrian. Reformists tend to advocate a "return" to the Gathas, the universal nature of the faith, a decrease in ritualization, and an emphasis on the faith as philosophy rather than religion.[citation needed] Not all Zoroastrians identify with either school and notable examples are getting traction including Neo-Zoroastrians/Revivalists, which are usually reinterpretations of Zoroastrianism appealing towards Western concerns, and centering the idea of Zoroastrianism as a living religion and advocate the revival and maintenance of old rituals and prayers while supporting ethical and social progressive reforms. Both of these latter schools tend to center the Gathas without outright rejecting other texts except the Vendidad. The Ilm-e-Khshnoom and the Pundol Group are Zoroastrian mystical schools of thought popular among a small minority of the Parsi community inspired mostly by 19th-century theosophy and typified by a spiritual ethnocentric mentality.[citation needed]

From the 19th century onward, the Parsis gained a reputation for their education and widespread influence in all aspects of society. They played an instrumental role in the economic development of the region over many decades; several of the best-known business conglomerates of India are run by Parsi-Zoroastrians, including the Tata, Godrej, Wadia families, and others.[citation needed]

Though the Armenians share a rich history affiliated with Zoroastrianism (that eventually declined with the advent of Christianity), reports indicate that there were Zoroastrian Armenians in Armenia until the 1920s. A comparatively minor population persisted in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Persia, and a growing large expatriate community has formed in the United States mostly from India and Iran, and to a lesser extent in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.[citation needed]

At the request of the government of Tajikistan, UNESCO declared 2003 a year to celebrate the "3000th anniversary of Zoroastrian culture", with special events throughout the world. In 2011 the Tehran Mobeds Anjuman announced that for the first time in the history of modern Iran and of the modern Zoroastrian communities worldwide, women had been ordained in Iran and North America as mobedyars, meaning women assistant mobeds (Zoroastrian clergy). The women hold official certificates and can perform the lower-rung religious functions and can initiate people into the religion.

The Achaemenid Empire in the 5th century BCE was the largest empire in history by percentage of world population.

Some scholars believe that key concepts of Zoroastrian eschatology and demonology influenced the Abrahamic religions. On the other hand, Zoroastrianism itself inherited ideas from other belief systems and, like other "practiced" religions, accommodates some degree of syncretism, with Zoroastrianism in Sogdia, the Kushan Empire, Armenia, China, and other places incorporating local and foreign practices and deities. Zoroastrian influences on Hungarian, Slavic, Ossetian, Turkic and Mongol mythologies have also been noted, all of which bearing extensive light-dark dualisms and possible sun god theonyms related to Hvare-khshaeta.

Indo-Iranian origins

The religion of Zoroastrianism is closest to Vedic religion to varying degrees. Some historians believe that Zoroastrianism, along with similar philosophical revolutions in South Asia were interconnected strings of reformation against a common Indo-Aryan thread. Many traits of Zoroastrianism can be traced back to the culture and beliefs of the prehistorical Indo-Iranian period, that is, to the time before the migrations that led to the Indo-Aryans and Iranics becoming distinct peoples. Zoroastrianism consequently shares elements with the historical Vedic religion that also has its origins in that era. Some examples include cognates between the Avestan word Ahura ("Ahura Mazda") and the Vedic Sanskrit word Asura ("demon; evil demigod"); as well as Daeva ("demon") and Deva ("god") and they both descend from a common Proto-Indo-Iranian religion.[citation needed]

Manichaeism

Zoroastrianism is often compared with Manichaeism. Nominally an Iranian religion, it has its origins in Middle-Eastern Gnosticism. Superficially such a comparison seems apt, as both are dualistic and Manichaeism adopted many of the Yazatas for its own pantheon. Gherardo Gnoli, in The Encyclopaedia of Religion, says that "we can assert that Manichaeism has its roots in the Iranian religious tradition and that its relationship to Mazdaism, or Zoroastrianism, is more or less like that of Christianity to Judaism".

But they are quite different. Manichaeism equated evil with matter and good with spirit, and was therefore particularly suitable as a doctrinal basis for every form of asceticism and many forms of mysticism. Zoroastrianism, on the other hand, rejects every form of asceticism, has no dualism of matter and spirit (only of good and evil), and sees the spiritual world as not very different from the natural one (the word "paradise", or pairi.daeza, applies equally to both.)[citation needed]

Manichaeism's basic doctrine was that the world and all corporeal bodies were constructed from the substance of Satan, an idea that is fundamentally at odds with the Zoroastrian notion of a world that was created by God and that is all good, and any corruption of it is an effect of the bad.[citation needed]

Present-day Iran

Many aspects of Zoroastrianism are present in the culture and mythologies of the peoples of Greater Iran, not least because Zoroastrianism was a dominant influence on the people of the cultural continent for a thousand years. Even after the rise of Islam and the loss of direct influence, Zoroastrianism remained part of the cultural heritage of the Iranian language-speaking world, in part as festivals and customs, but also because Ferdowsi incorporated a number of the figures and stories from the Avesta in his epic Shāhnāme, which is pivotal to Iranian identity. One notable example is the incorporation of the Yazata Sraosha as an angel venerated within Shia Islam in Iran.

Avesta

Main articles: Avesta and Avestan

The Avesta is a collection of the central religious texts of Zoroastrianism written in the old Iranian dialect of Avestan. The history of the Avesta is speculated upon in many Pahlavi texts with varying degrees of authority, with the current version of the Avesta dating at oldest from the times of the Sasanian Empire. According to Middle Persian tradition, Ahura Mazda created the twenty-one Nasks of the original Avesta which Zoroaster brought to Vishtaspa. Here, two copies were created, one which was put in the house of archives and the other put in the Imperial treasury. During Alexander's conquest of Persia, the Avesta (written on 1200 ox-hides) was burned, and the scientific sections that the Greeks could use were dispersed among themselves. However, there is no strong evidence historically towards these claims and they remain contested despite affirmations from the Zoroastrian tradition, whether it be the Denkart, Tansar-nāma, Ardāy Wirāz Nāmag, Bundahsin, Zand i Wahman Yasn or the transmitted oral tradition.

As tradition continues, under the reign of King Valax (identified with a Vologases of the Arsacid Dynasty), an attempt was made to restore what was considered the Avesta. During the Sassanid Empire, Ardeshir ordered Tansar, his high priest, to finish the work that King Valax had started. Shapur I sent priests to locate the scientific text portions of the Avesta that were in the possession of the Greeks. Under Shapur II, Arderbad Mahrespandand revised the canon to ensure its orthodox character, while under Khosrow I, the Avesta was translated into Pahlavi.

The compilation of the Avesta can be authoritatively traced, however, to the Sasanian Empire, of which only fraction survive today if the Middle Persian literature is correct. The later manuscripts all date from after the fall of the Sasanian Empire, the latest being from 1288, 590 years after the fall of the Sasanian Empire. The texts that remain today are the Gathas, Yasna, Visperad and the Vendidad, of which the latter's inclusion is disputed within the faith. Along with these texts is the individual, communal, and ceremonial prayer book called the Khordeh Avesta, which contains the Yashts and other important hymns, prayers, and rituals. The rest of the materials from the Avesta are called "Avestan fragments" in that they are written in Avestan, incomplete, and generally of unknown provenance.

Middle Persian (Pahlavi)

Middle Persian and Pahlavi works created in the 9th and 10th century contain many religious Zoroastrian books, as most of the writers and copyists were part of the Zoroastrian clergy. The most significant and important books of this era include the Denkard, Bundahishn, Menog-i Khrad, Selections of Zadspram, Jamasp Namag, Epistles of Manucher, Rivayats, Dadestan-i-Denig, and Arda Viraf Namag. All Middle Persian texts written on Zoroastrianism during this time period are considered secondary works on the religion, and not scripture. Nonetheless, these texts have had a strong influence on the religion.[citation needed]

Main article: Zoroaster

Zoroastrianism was founded by Zoroaster (or Zarathushtra) in ancient Iran. The precise date of the founding of the religion is uncertain and estimates vary wildly from 2000 BCE to "200 years before Alexander". Zoroaster was born - in either Northeast Iran or Southwest Afghanistan - into a culture with a polytheistic religion, which featured excessive animal sacrifice and the excessive ritual use of intoxicants, and his life was influenced profoundly by the attempts of his people to find peace and stability in the face of constant threats of raiding and conflict. Zoroaster's birth and early life are little documented but speculated upon heavily in later texts. What is known is recorded in the Gathas, forming the core of the Avesta, which contain hymns thought to have been composed by Zoroaster himself. Born into the Spitama clan, he refers to himself as a poet-priest and prophet. He had a wife, three sons, and three daughters, the numbers of which are gathered from various texts.

Zoroaster rejected many of the gods of the Bronze Age Iranians and their oppressive class structure, in which the Kavis and Karapans (princes and priests) controlled the ordinary people. He also opposed cruel animal sacrifices and the excessive use of the possibly hallucinogenic Haoma plant (conjectured to have been a species of ephedra and/or Peganum harmala), but did not condemn either practice outright, providing moderation was observed.

Zoroaster in legend

According to later Zoroastrian tradition, when Zoroaster was 30 years old, he went into the Daiti river to draw water for a Haoma ceremony; when he emerged, he received a vision of Vohu Manah. After this, Vohu Manah took him to the other six Amesha Spentas, where he received the completion of his vision. This vision radically transformed his view of the world, and he tried to teach this view to others. Zoroaster believed in one supreme creator deity and acknowledged this creator's emanations (Amesha Spenta) and other divinities which he called Ahuras (Yazata). Some of the deities of the old religion, the Daevas (Devas in Sanskrit), appeared to delight in war and strife and were condemned as evil workers of Angra Mainyu by Zoroaster.[citation needed]

Zoroaster's ideas were not taken up quickly; he originally only had one convert: his cousin Maidhyoimanha. The local religious authorities opposed his ideas, considering that their faith, power, and particularly their rituals were threatened by Zoroaster's teaching against the bad and overly-complicated ritualization of religious ceremonies. Many did not like Zoroaster's downgrading of the Daevas to evil ones not worthy of worship. After twelve years of little success, Zoroaster left his home.[citation needed]

In the country of King Vishtaspa, the king and queen heard Zoroaster debating with the religious leaders of the land and decided to accept Zoroaster's ideas as the official religion of their kingdom after having Zoroaster prove himself by healing the king's favorite horse. Zoroaster is believed to have died in his late 70s, either by murder by a Turanian or old age. Very little is known of the time between Zoroaster and the Achaemenian period, except that Zoroastrianism spread to Western Iran and other regions. By the time of the founding of the Achaemenid Empire, Zoroastrianism is believed to have been already a well-established religion.[citation needed]

Cypress of Kashmar

Main article: Cypress of Kashmar

The Cypress of Kashmar is a mythical cypress tree of legendary beauty and gargantuan dimensions. It is said to have sprung from a branch brought by Zoroaster from Paradise and to have stood in today's Kashmar in northeastern Iran and to have been planted by Zoroaster in honor of the conversion of King Vishtaspa to Zoroastrianism. According to the Iranian physicist and historian Zakariya al-Qazwini King Vishtaspa had been a patron of Zoroaster who planted the tree himself. In his ʿAjā'ib al-makhlūqāt wa gharā'ib al-mawjūdāt, he further describes how the Al-Mutawakkil in 247 AH (861 AD) caused the mighty cypress to be felled, and then transported it across Iran, to be used for beams in his new palace at Samarra. Before, he wanted the tree to be reconstructed before his eyes. This was done in spite of protests by the Iranians, who offered a very great sum of money to save the tree. Al-Mutawakkil never saw the cypress, because he was murdered by a Turkish soldier (possibly in the employ of his son) on the night when it arrived on the banks of the Tigris.

Reconstruction of the Sassanid model of Fire Temple of Kashmar is located near the historical complex of Atashgah Castle

Fire Temple of Kashmar

Kashmar Fire Temple was the first Zoroastrian fire temple built by Vishtaspa at the request of Zoroaster in Kashmar. In a part of Ferdowsi's Shahnameh, the story of finding Zarathustra and accepting Vishtaspa's religion is regulated that after accepting Zoroastrian religion, Vishtaspa sends priests all over the universe And Azar enters the fire temples (domes) and the first of them is Adur Burzen-Mihr who founded in Kashmar and planted a cypress tree in front of the fire temple and made it a symbol of accepting the Bahi religion And he sent priests all over the world, and commanded all the famous men and women to come to that place of worship.

According to the Paikuli inscription, during the Sasanian Empire, Kashmar was part of Greater Khorasan, and the Sasanians worked hard to revive the ancient religion. It still remains a few kilometers above the ancient city of Kashmar in the castle complex of Atashgah.

Humata, Huxta, Huvarshta (Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds), the Threefold Path of Asha, is considered the core maxim of Zoroastrianism especially by modern practitioners. In Zoroastrianism, good transpires for those who do righteous deeds for its own sake, not for the search of reward. Those who do evil are said to be attacked and confused by the druj and are responsible for aligning themselves back to Asha by following this path.

Faravahar (or Ferohar), one of the primary symbols of Zoroastrianism, believed to be the depiction of a Fravashi or the Khvarenah.

In Zoroastrianism, Ahura Mazda is the beginning and the end, the creator of everything that can and cannot be seen, the eternal and uncreated, the all-good and source of Asha. In the Gathas, the most sacred texts of Zoroastrianism thought to have been composed by Zoroaster himself, Zoroaster acknowledged the highest devotion to Ahura Mazda, with worship and adoration also given to Ahura Mazda's manifestations (Amesha Spenta) and the other ahuras (Yazata) that support Ahura Mazda.

Daena (din in modern Persian and meaning "that which is seen") is representative of the sum of one's spiritual conscience and attributes, which through one's choice Asha is either strengthened or weakened in the Daena. Traditionally, the manthras, spiritual prayer formulas, are believed to be of immense power and the vehicles of Asha and creation used to maintain good and fight evil. Daena should not be confused with the fundamental principle of Asha, believed to be the cosmic order which governs and permeates all existence, and the concept of which governed the life of the ancient Indo-Iranians. For these, asha was the course of everything observable—the motion of the planets and astral bodies; the progression of the seasons; and the pattern of daily nomadic herdsman life, governed by regular metronomic events such as sunrise and sunset, and was strengthened through truth-telling and following the Threefold Path.

All physical creation (getig) was thus determined to run according to a master plan—inherent to Ahura Mazda—and violations of the order (druj) were violations against creation, and thus violations against Ahura Mazda. This concept of asha versus the druj should not be confused with Western and especially Abrahamic notions of good versus evil, for although both forms of opposition express moral conflict, the asha versus druj concept is more systemic and less personal, representing, for instance, chaos (that opposes order); or "uncreation", evident as natural decay (that opposes creation); or more simply "the lie" (that opposes truth and goodness). Moreover, in the role as the one uncreated creator of all, Ahura Mazda is not the creator of druj, which is "nothing", anti-creation, and thus (likewise) uncreated and developed as the antithesis of existence through choice.

A Parsi Wedding, 1905

In this schema of asha versus druj, mortal beings (both humans and animals) play a critical role, for they too are created. Here, in their lives, they are active participants in the conflict, and it is their spiritual duty to defend Asha, which is under constant assault and would decay in strength without counteraction. Throughout the Gathas, Zoroaster emphasizes deeds and actions within society and accordingly extreme asceticism is frowned upon in Zoroastrianism but moderate forms are allowed within. This was explained as fleeing from the experiences and joys of life, which was the very purpose that the urvan (most commonly translated as the "soul") was sent into the mortal world to collect. The avoidance of any aspect of life which does not bring harm to another and engage in activities that support the druj, which includes the avoidance of the pleasures of life, is a shirking of the responsibility and duty to oneself, one's urvan, and one's family and social obligations.

Central to Zoroastrianism is the emphasis on moral choice, to choose the responsibility and duty for which one is in the mortal world, or to give up this duty and so facilitate the work of druj. Similarly, predestination is rejected in Zoroastrian teaching and the absolute free will of all conscious beings is core, with even divine beings having the ability to choose. Humans bear responsibility for all situations they are in, and in the way they act toward one another. Reward, punishment, happiness, and grief all depend on how individuals live their lives.

In the 19th century, through contact with Western academics and missionaries, Zoroastrianism experienced a massive theological change that still affects it today. The Rev. John Wilson led various missionary campaigns in India against the Parsi community, disparaging the Parsis for their "dualism" and "polytheism" and as having unnecessary rituals while declaring the Avesta to not be "divinely inspired". This caused mass dismay in the relatively uneducated Parsi community, which blamed its priests and led to some conversions towards Christianity.

The arrival of the German orientalist and philologist Martin Haug led to a rallied defense of the faith through Haug's reinterpretation of the Avesta through Christianized and European orientalist lens. Haug postulated that Zoroastrianism was solely monotheistic with all other divinities reduced to the status of angels while Ahura Mazda became both omnipotent and the source of evil as well as good. Haug's thinking was subsequently disseminated as a Parsi interpretation, thus corroborating Haug's theory, and the idea became so popular that it is now almost universally accepted as doctrine (though being reevaluated in modern Zoroastrianism and academia). It has been argued by Dr Almut Hintze that this designation of monotheism is not wholly perfect and that Zoroastrianism instead has it "own form of monotheism" which combines elements of dualism and polytheism. It has otherwise been opined that Zoroastrianism is totally monotheistic with only dualistic elements.

Throughout Zoroastrian history, shrines and temples have been the focus of worship and pilgrimage for adherents of the religion. Early Zoroastrians were recorded as worshiping in the 5th century BCE on mounds and hills where fires were lit below the open skies. In the wake of Achaemenid expansion, shrines were constructed throughout the empire and particularly influenced the role of Mithra, Aredvi Sura Anahita, Verethragna and Tishtrya, alongside other traditional Yazata who all have hymns within the Avesta and also local deities and culture-heroes. Today, enclosed and covered fire temples tend to be the focus of community worship where fires of varying grades are maintained by the clergy assigned to the temples.

Cosmology: Creation of the universe

According to the Zoroastrian creation myth, Ahura Mazda existed in light and goodness above, while Angra Mainyu existed in darkness and ignorance below. They have existed independently of each other for all time, and manifest contrary substances. Ahura Mazda first manifested seven divine beings called Amesha Spentas, who support him and represent beneficent aspects of personality and creation, along with numerous Yazatas, divinities worthy of worship. Ahura Mazda then created the material and visible world itself in order to ensnare evil. Ahura Mazda created the floating, egg-shaped universe in two parts: first the spiritual (menog) and 3,000 years later, the physical (getig). Ahura Mazda then created Gayomard, the archetypical perfect man, and Gavaevodata, the primordial bovine.

While Ahura Mazda created the universe and humankind, Angra Mainyu, whose very nature is to destroy, miscreated demons, evil daevas, and noxious creatures (khrafstar) such as snakes, ants, and flies. Angra Mainyu created an opposite, evil being for each good being, except for humans, which he found he could not match. Angra Mainyu invaded the universe through the base of the sky, inflicting Gayomard and the bull with suffering and death. However, the evil forces were trapped in the universe and could not retreat. The dying primordial man and bovine emitted seeds, which were protect by Mah, the Moon. From the bull's seed grew all beneficial plants and animals of the world and from the man's seed grew a plant whose leaves became the first human couple. Humans thus struggle in a two-fold universe of the material and spiritual trapped and in long combat with evil. The evils of this physical world are not products of an inherent weakness, but are the fault of Angra Mainyu's assault on creation. This assault turned the perfectly flat, peaceful, and ever day-lit world into a mountainous, violent place that is half night.

Eschatology: Renovation and judgment

Main article: Frashokereti

Zoroastrianism also includes beliefs about the renovation of the world (Frashokereti) and individual judgment (cf. general and particular judgment), including the resurrection of the dead, which are alluded to in the Gathas but developed in later Avestan and Middle Persian writings.[citation needed]

Individual judgment at death is at the Chinvat Bridge ("bridge of judgement" or "bridge of choice"), which each human must cross, facing a spiritual judgment, though modern belief is split as to whether it is representative of a mental decision during life to choose between good and evil or an afterworld location. Humans' actions under their free will through choice determine the outcome. According to tradition, the soul is judged by the Yazatas Mithra, Sraosha, and Rashnu, where depending on the verdict one is either greeted at the bridge by a beautiful, sweet-smelling maiden or by an ugly, foul-smelling old hag representing their Daena affected by their actions in life. The maiden leads the dead safely across the bridge, which widens and becomes pleasant for the righteous, towards the House of Song. The hag leads the dead down a bridge that narrows to a razor's edge and is full of stench until the departed falls off into the abyss towards the House of Lies. Those with a balance of good and evil go to Hamistagan, a neutral place of waiting where according to the Dadestan-i Denig, a Middle Persian work from the 9th century, the souls of the departed can relive their lives and conduct good deeds to raise themselves towards the House of Song or await the final judgement and the mercy of Ahura Mazda.

The House of Lies is considered temporary and reformative; punishments fit the crimes, and souls do not rest in eternal damnation. Hell contains foul smells and evil food, a smothering darkness, and souls are packed tightly together although they believe they are in total isolation.

In ancient Zoroastrian eschatology, a 3,000-year struggle between good and evil will be fought, punctuated by evil's final assault. During the final assault, the sun and moon will darken and humankind will lose its reverence for religion, family, and elders. The world will fall into winter, and Angra Mainyu's most fearsome miscreant, Azi Dahaka, will break free and terrorize the world.

According to legend, the final savior of the world, known as the Saoshyant, will be born to a virgin impregnated by the seed of Zoroaster while bathing in a lake. The Saoshyant will raise the dead—including those in all afterworlds—for final judgment, returning the wicked to hell to be purged of bodily sin. Next, all will wade through a river of molten metal in which the righteous will not burn but through which the impure will be completely purified. The forces of good will ultimately triumph over evil, rendering it forever impotent but not destroyed. The Saoshyant and Ahura Mazda will offer a bull as a final sacrifice for all time and all humans will become immortal. Mountains will again flatten and valleys will rise; the House of Song will descend to the moon, and the earth will rise to meet them both. Humanity will require two judgments because there are as many aspects to our being: spiritual (menog) and physical (getig). Thus, Zoroastrianism can be said to be a universalist religion with respect to salvation in that all souls are redeemed at the final judgement.[citation needed]

Ritual and prayer

The central ritual of Zoroastrianism is the Yasna, which is a recitation of the eponymous book of the Avesta and sacrificial ritual ceremony involving Haoma. Extensions to the Yasna ritual are possible through use of the Visperad and Vendidad, but such an extended ritual is rare in modern Zoroastrianism. The Yasna itself descended from Indo-Iranian sacrificial ceremonies and animal sacrifice of varying degrees are mentioned in the Avesta and are still practiced in Zoroastrianism albeit through reduced forms such as the sacrifice of fat before meals. High rituals such as the Yasna are considered to be the purview of the Mobeds with a corpus of individual and communal rituals and prayers included in the Khordeh Avesta. A Zoroastrian is welcomed into the faith through the Navjote/Sedreh Pushi ceremony, which is traditionally conducted during the later childhood or pre-teen years of the aspirant, though there is no defined age limit for the ritual. After the ceremony, Zoroastrians are encouraged to wear their sedreh (ritual shirt) and kusti (ritual girdle) daily as a spiritual reminder and for mystical protection, though reformist Zoroastrians tend to only wear them during festivals, ceremonies, and prayers.

The incorporation of cultural and local rituals is quite common and traditions have been passed down in historically Zoroastrian communities such as herbal healing practices, wedding ceremonies, and the like. Traditionally, Zoroastrian rituals have also included shamanic elements involving mystical methods such as spirit travel to the invisible realm and involving the consumption of fortified wine, Haoma, mang, and other ritual aids. Historically, Zoroastrians are encouraged to pray the five daily Gāhs and to maintain and celebrate the various holy festivals of the Zoroastrian calendar, which can differ from community to community. Zoroastrian prayers, called manthras, are conducted usually with hands outstretched in imitation of Zoroaster's prayer style described in the Gathas and are of a reflectionary and supplicant nature believed to be endowed with the ability to banish evil. Devout Zoroastrians are known to cover their heads during prayer, either with traditional topi, scarves, other headwear, or even just their hands. However, full coverage and veiling which is traditional in Islamic practice is not a part of Zoroastrianism and Zoroastrian women in Iran wear their head coverings displaying hair and their faces to defy mandates by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The sacred Zoroastrian pilgrimage shrine of Chak Chak in Yazd, Iran.

Zoroastrian communities internationally tend to comprise mostly two main groups of people: Indian Parsis and Iranian Zoroastrians. According to a study in 2012 by the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America, the number of Zoroastrians worldwide was estimated to be between 111,691 and 121,962. The number is imprecise because of diverging counts in Iran.

Small Zoroastrian communities may be found all over the world, with a continuing concentration in Western India, Central Iran, and Southern Pakistan. Zoroastrians of the diaspora are primarily located in the United States, Great Britain and the former British colonies, particularly Canada and Australia, and usually anywhere where there is a strong Iranian and Gujarati presence.[citation needed]

As of 2020, he Estimated population is about 150,477 for Zoroastrians. More than a 12,000 increase from 2014's record.

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1941 114,000
1971 91,266−0.74%
1981 71,630−2.39%
2004 124,000+2.41%
2012 121,962−0.21%
2014 138,000+6.37%
2020 150,477+1.45%
Source:

In South Asia

India

Main articles: Parsis and Irani (India)
Parsi Navjote ceremony (rites of admission into the Zoroastrian faith)

India is considered to be home to the single largest Zoroastrian population in the world. When the Islamic armies, under the first caliphs, invaded Persia, those locals who were unwilling to convert to Islam sought refuge, first in the mountains of Northern Iran, then the regions of Yazd and its surrounding villages. Later, in the ninth century CE, a group sought refuge in the western coastal region of India, and also scattered to other regions of the world.[citation needed] Following the fall of the Sassanid Empire in 651 CE, many Zoroastrians migrated. Among them were several groups who ventured to Gujarat on the western shores of the Indian subcontinent, where they finally settled. The descendants of those refugees are today known as the Parsis. The year of arrival on the subcontinent cannot be precisely established, and Parsi legend and tradition assigns various dates to the event.[citation needed]

In the Indian census of 2001, the Parsis numbered 69,601, representing about 0.006% of the total population of India, with a concentration in and around the city of Mumbai. Due to a low birth rate and high rate of emigration, demographic trends project that by 2020 the Parsis will number only about 23,000 or 0.002% of the total population of India. By 2008, the birth-to-death ratio was 1:5; 200 births per year to 1,000 deaths. India's 2011 Census recorded 57,264 Parsi Zoroastrians.

Pakistan

In Pakistan, the Zoroastrian population was estimated to number 1,675 people in 2012, mostly living in Sindh (especially Karachi) followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) of Pakistan claimed that there were 3,650 Parsi voters during the elections in Pakistan in 2013 and 4,235 in 2018.

Iran, Iraq and Central Asia

Main article: Zoroastrians in Iran

Iran's figures of Zoroastrians have ranged widely; the last census (1974) before the revolution of 1979 revealed 21,400 Zoroastrians. Some 10,000 adherents remain in the Central Asian regions that were once considered the traditional stronghold of Zoroastrianism, i.e., Bactria (see also Balkh), which is in Northern Afghanistan; Sogdiana; Margiana; and other areas close to Zoroaster's homeland. In Iran, emigration, out-marriage and low birth rates are likewise leading to a decline in the Zoroastrian population. Zoroastrian groups in Iran say their number is approximately 60,000. According to the Iranian census data from 2011 the number of Zoroastrians in Iran was 25,271.

Communities exist in Tehran, as well as in Yazd, Kerman and Kermanshah, where many still speak an Iranian language distinct from the usual Persian. They call their language Dari (not to be confused with the Dari of Afghanistan). Their language is also called Gavri or Behdini, literally "of the Good Religion". Sometimes their language is named for the cities in which it is spoken, such as Yazdi or Kermani. Iranian Zoroastrians were historically called Gabrs, originally without a pejorative connotation but in the present-day derogatorily applied to all non-Muslims.

The number of Kurdish Zoroastrians, along with those of non-ethnic converts, has been estimated differently. The Zoroastrian Representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has claimed that as many as 100,000 people in Iraqi Kurdistan have converted to Zoroastrianism recently, with community leaders repeating this claim and speculating that even more Zoroastrians in the region are practicing their faith secretly. However, this has not been confirmed by independent sources.

The surge in Kurdish Muslims converting to Zoroastrianism is largely attributed to disillusionment with Islam after experiencing violence and oppression perpetrated by ISIS in the area.

Western world

North America is thought to be home to 18,000–25,000 Zoroastrians of both South Asian and Iranian background. A further 3,500 live in Australia (mainly in Sydney). As of 2012, the population of Zoroastrians in USA was 15,000, making it the third-largest Zoroastrian population in the world after those of India and Iran. It has been claimed that 3,000 Kurds have converted to Zoroastrianism in Sweden. In 2020, Historic England published A Survey of Zoroastrianism Buildings in England with the aim of providing information about buildings that Zoroastrians use in England so that HE can work with communities to enhance and protect those buildings now and in the future. The scoping survey identified four buildings in England.

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Zoroastrianismat Wikipedia's sister projects


Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism Language Watch Edit 160 160 Redirected from Zoroastrians Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is one of the world s oldest continuously practiced religions based on the teachings of the Iranian speaking prophet Zoroaster also known as Zara8ustra in Avestan or Zartosht in Modern Persian 1 2 Zoroastrianism has a dualistic cosmology of good and evil and an eschatology which predicts the ultimate conquest of evil by good 3 Zoroastrianism exalts an uncreated and benevolent deity of wisdom Ahura Mazda Wise Lord as its supreme being 4 The unique historical features of Zoroastrianism such as its monotheism 5 6 7 8 9 messianism judgment after death heaven and hell and free will may have influenced other religious and philosophical systems including Second Temple Judaism Gnosticism Greek philosophy 10 Christianity Islam 11 and the Bahaʼi Faith With possible roots dating back to the Second Millennium BCE Zoroastrianism enters written history in the 5th century BCE 12 It served as the state religion of the ancient Iranian empires for more than a millennium from around 600 BCE to 650 CE but declined from the 7th century CE onwards following the Muslim conquest of Persia of 633 654 and subsequent persecution of the Zoroastrian people 13 Recent estimates place the current number of Zoroastrians at around 110 000 120 000 14 at most with the majority living in India Iran and North America their number has been thought to be declining 15 16 The most important texts of the religion are those contained within the Avesta which includes as central the writings of Zoroaster known as the Gathas poems within the Yasna that define the teachings of the Zoroaster the main worship service of Zoroastrianism The religious philosophy of Zoroaster divided the early Iranian gods of the Proto Indo Iranian tradition into ahuras 17 and daevas 18 the latter of which were not considered worthy of worship Zoroaster proclaimed that Ahura Mazda was the supreme creator the creative and sustaining force of the universe through Asha 4 and that human beings are given a choice between supporting Ahura Mazda or not making them responsible for their choices Though Ahura Mazda has no equal contesting force Angra Mainyu destructive spirit mentality whose forces are born from Aka Manah evil thought is considered the main adversarial force of the religion standing against Spenta Mainyu creative spirit mentality 19 Middle Persian literature developed Angra Mainyu further into Ahriman and advancing him to be the direct adversary to Ahura Mazda 20 In Zoroastrianism Asha truth cosmic order the life force that originates from Ahura Mazda 4 21 stands in opposition to Druj falsehood deceit 22 23 and Ahura Mazda is considered to be all good with no evil emanating from the deity 4 Ahura Mazda works in getig the visible material realm and menōg the invisible spiritual and mental realm 24 through the seven six when excluding Spenta Mainyu Amesha Spentas 25 the direct emanations of Ahura Mazda Zoroastrianism is not entirely uniform in theological and philosophical thought especially with historical and modern influences having a significant impact on individual and local beliefs practices values and vocabulary sometimes merging with tradition and in other cases displacing it 26 In Zoroastrianism the purpose in life is to become an ashavan a master of Asha and to bring happiness into the world which contributes to the cosmic battle against evil Zoroastrianism s core teachings include Follow the Threefold Path of Asha Humata Huxta Huvarshta Good Thoughts Good Words Good Deeds 27 Charity is a way of keeping one s soul aligned with Asha and thus of spreading happiness 28 The spiritual equality and duty of men and women alike 29 Being good for the sake of goodness and without the hope of reward see Ashem Vohu Contents 1 Terminology 2 Overview 2 1 Theology 2 2 Practices 3 History 3 1 Classical antiquity 3 2 Late antiquity 3 3 Decline in the Middle Ages 3 3 1 Conversion 3 3 2 Survival 3 4 Modern 4 Relation to other religions and cultures 4 1 Indo Iranian origins 4 2 Manichaeism 4 3 Present day Iran 5 Religious text 5 1 Avesta 5 2 Middle Persian Pahlavi 6 Zoroaster 6 1 Zoroaster in legend 6 1 1 Cypress of Kashmar 6 1 2 Fire Temple of Kashmar 7 Principal beliefs 7 1 Cosmology Creation of the universe 7 2 Eschatology Renovation and judgment 7 3 Ritual and prayer 8 Demographics 8 1 In South Asia 8 1 1 India 8 1 2 Pakistan 8 2 Iran Iraq and Central Asia 8 3 Western world 9 See also 10 References 11 External linksTerminologyThe name Zoroaster Zwroasthr is a Greek rendering of the Avestan name Zarathustra He is known as Zartosht and Zardosht in Persian and Zaratosht in Gujarati 30 The Zoroastrian name of the religion is Mazdayasna which combines Mazda with the Avestan word yasna meaning worship devotion 4 In English an adherent of the faith is commonly called a Zoroastrian or a Zarathustrian An older expression still used today is Behdin meaning The best religion beh lt Middle Persian weh good din lt Middle Persian den lt Avestan daena In the Zoroastrian liturgy this term is used as a title for a lay individual who has been formally inducted into the religion in a Navjote ceremony in contrast to the priestly titles of osta osti ervad hirbod mobed and dastur 31 32 33 The first surviving reference to Zoroaster in English scholarship is attributed to Thomas Browne 1605 1682 who briefly refers to Zoroaster in his 1643 Religio Medici 34 The term Mazdaism ˈ m ae z d e ɪ z em is an alternative form in English used as well for the faith taking Mazda from the name Ahura Mazda and adding the suffix ism to suggest a belief system 35 OverviewTheology Zoroastrians believe that there is one universal transcendent all good and uncreated supreme creator deity Ahura Mazda or the Wise Lord Ahura meaning Lord and Mazda meaning Wisdom in Avestan 36 Zoroaster keeps the two attributes separate as two different concepts in most of the Gathas yet sometimes combines them into one form Zoroaster also claims that Ahura Mazda is omniscient but not omnipotent 4 In the Gathas Ahura Mazda is noted as working through emanations known as the Amesha Spenta 25 and with the help of other ahuras 37 of which Sraosha is the only one explicitly named of the latter category citation needed Scholars and theologians have long debated on the nature of Zoroastrianism with dualism monotheism and polytheism being the main terms applied to the religion 38 37 39 Some scholars assert that Zoroastrianism s concept of divinity covers both being and mind as immanent entities describing Zoroastrianism as having a belief in an immanent self creating universe with consciousness as its special attribute thereby putting Zoroastrianism in the pantheistic fold sharing its origin with Indian Hinduism 40 41 In any case Asha the main spiritual force which comes from Ahura Mazda 21 is the cosmic order which is the antithesis of chaos which is evident as druj falsehood and disorder 22 The resulting cosmic conflict involves all of creation mental spiritual and material including humanity at its core which has an active role to play in the conflict 42 In the Zoroastrian tradition druj comes from Angra Mainyu also referred to in later texts as Ahriman the destructive spirit mentality while the main representative of Asha in this conflict is Spenta Mainyu the creative spirit mentality 19 Ahura Mazda is immanent in humankind and interacts with creation through emanations known as the Amesha Spenta the bounteous holy immortals which are representative and guardians of different aspects of creation and the ideal personality 25 Ahura Mazda through these Amesha Spenta is assisted by a league of countless divinities called Yazatas meaning worthy of worship and each is generally a hypostasis of a moral or physical aspect of creation According to Zoroastrian cosmology in articulating the Ahuna Vairya formula Ahura Mazda made the ultimate triumph of good against Angra Mainyu evident 43 Ahura Mazda will ultimately prevail over the evil Angra Mainyu at which point reality will undergo a cosmic renovation called Frashokereti 44 and limited time will end In the final renovation all of creation even the souls of the dead that were initially banished to or chose to descend into darkness will be reunited with Ahura Mazda in the Kshatra Vairya meaning best dominion 45 being resurrected to immortality In Middle Persian literature the prominent belief was that at the end of time a savior figure known as the Saoshyant would bring about the Frashokereti while in the Gathic texts the term Saoshyant meaning one who brings benefit referred to all believers of Mazdayasna but changed into a messianic concept in later writings citation needed Zoroastrian theology includes foremost the importance of following the Threefold Path of Asha revolving around Good Thoughts Good Words and Good Deeds 27 There is also a heavy emphasis on spreading happiness mostly through charity 28 and respecting the spiritual equality and duty of both men and women 29 Zoroastrianism s emphasis on the protection and veneration of nature and its elements has led some to proclaim it as the world s first proponent of ecology 46 The Avesta and other texts call for the protection of water earth fire and air making it in effect an ecological religion It is not surprising that Mazdaism is called the first ecological religion The reverence for Yazatas divine spirits emphasizes the preservation of nature Avesta Yasnas 1 19 3 4 16 9 Yashts 6 3 4 10 13 47 However this particular assertion is undermined by the fact that early Zoroastrians had a duty to exterminate evil species a dictate no longer followed in modern Zoroastrianism 48 Practices An 8th century Tang dynasty Chinese clay figurine of a Sogdian man wearing a distinctive cap and face veil possibly a camel rider or even a Zoroastrian priest engaging in a ritual at a fire temple since face veils were used to avoid contaminating the holy fire with breath or saliva Museum of Oriental Art Turin Italy 49 The religion states that active and ethical participation in life through good deeds formed from good thoughts and good words is necessary to ensure happiness and to keep chaos at bay This active participation is a central element in Zoroaster s concept of free will and Zoroastrianism as such rejects extreme forms of asceticism and monasticism but historically has allowed for moderate expressions of these concepts 50 In Zoroastrian tradition life is a temporary state in which a mortal is expected actively to participate in the continuing battle between Asha and Druj Prior to its incarnation at the birth of the child the urvan soul of an individual is still united with its fravashi personal higher spirit which has existed since Ahura Mazda created the universe Prior to the splitting off of the urvan the fravashi participates in the maintenance of creation led by Ahura Mazda During the life of a given individual the fravashi acts as a source of inspiration to perform good actions and as a spiritual protector The fravashis of ancestors cultural spiritual and heroic associated with illustrious bloodlines are venerated and can be called upon to aid the living 51 On the fourth day after death the urvan is reunited with its fravashi whereupon the experiences of life in the material world are collected for use in the continuing battle for good in the spiritual world For the most part Zoroastrianism does not have a notion of reincarnation at least not until the Frashokereti Followers of Ilm e Kshnoom in India believe in reincarnation and practice vegetarianism among other currently non traditional opinions 52 although there have been various theological statements supporting vegetarianism in Zoroastrianism s history and claims that Zoroaster was vegetarian 53 In Zoroastrianism water aban and fire atar are agents of ritual purity and the associated purification ceremonies are considered the basis of ritual life In Zoroastrian cosmogony water and fire are respectively the second and last primordial elements to have been created and scripture considers fire to have its origin in the waters re which conception see Apam Napat Both water and fire are considered life sustaining and both water and fire are represented within the precinct of a fire temple Zoroastrians usually pray in the presence of some form of fire which can be considered evident in any source of light and the culminating rite of the principal act of worship constitutes a strengthening of the waters Fire is considered a medium through which spiritual insight and wisdom are gained and water is considered the source of that wisdom Both fire and water are also hypostasized as the Yazatas Atar and Anahita which worship hymns and litanies dedicated to them citation needed A corpse is considered a host for decay i e of druj Consequently scripture enjoins the safe disposal of the dead in a manner such that a corpse does not pollute the good creation These injunctions are the doctrinal basis of the fast fading traditional practice of ritual exposure most commonly identified with the so called Towers of Silence for which there is no standard technical term in either scripture or tradition Ritual exposure is currently mainly practiced by Zoroastrian communities of the Indian subcontinent in locations where it is not illegal and diclofenac poisoning has not led to the virtual extinction of scavenger birds Other Zoroastrian communities either cremate their dead or bury them in graves that are cased with lime mortar though Zoroastrians are keen to dispose of their dead in the most environmentally harmless way possible citation needed For a variety of social and political factors the Zoroastrians of the Indian subcontinent namely the Parsis and Iranis have not engaged in conversion since at least the 18th Century Zoroastrian high priests have historically opined there is no reason to not allow conversion which is also supported by the Revayats and other scripture though later priests have condemned these judgements 54 37 Within Iran many of the beleaguered Zoroastrians have been also historically opposed or not practically concerned with the matter of conversion Currently though The Council of Tehran Mobeds the highest ecclesiastical authority within Iran endorses conversion but conversion from Islam to Zoroastrianism is illegal under the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran 55 37 History Painted clay and alabaster head of a Zoroastrian priest wearing a distinctive Bactrian style headdress Takhti Sangin Tajikistan Greco Bactrian kingdom 3rd 2nd century BCE Classical antiquity See also Western Perceptions of Zoroastrianism The Tomb of Cyrus the Great at Pasargadae Iran The roots of Zoroastrianism are thought to lie in a common prehistoric Indo Iranian religious system dating back to the early 2nd millennium BCE 56 The prophet Zoroaster himself though traditionally dated to the 6th century BCE is thought by many modern historians to have been a reformer of the polytheistic Iranian religion who lived in the 10th century BCE 57 Zoroastrianism as a religion was not firmly established until several centuries later Zoroastrianism enters recorded history in the mid 5th century BCE Herodotus The Histories completed c 440 BCE includes a description of Greater Iranian society with what may be recognizably Zoroastrian features including exposure of the dead 58 The Histories is a primary source of information on the early period of the Achaemenid era 648 330 BCE in particular with respect to the role of the Magi According to Herodotus the Magi were the sixth tribe of the Medes until the unification of the Persian empire under Cyrus the Great all Iranians were referred to as Mede or Mada by the peoples of the Ancient World and wielded considerable influence at the courts of the Median emperors 59 Following the unification of the Median and Persian empires in 550 BCE Cyrus the Great and later his son Cambyses II curtailed the powers of the Magi after they had attempted to sow dissent following their loss of influence In 522 BCE the Magi revolted and set up a rival claimant to the throne The usurper pretending to be Cyrus younger son Smerdis took power shortly thereafter 60 Owing to the despotic rule of Cambyses and his long absence in Egypt the whole people Persians Medes and all the other nations acknowledged the usurper especially as he granted a remission of taxes for three years 59 Darius I and later Achaemenid emperors acknowledged their devotion to Ahura Mazda in inscriptions as attested to several times in the Behistun inscription and appear to have continued the model of coexistence with other religions Whether Darius was a follower of the teachings of Zoroaster has not been conclusively established as there is no indication of note that worship of Ahura Mazda was exclusively a Zoroastrian practice 61 According to later Zoroastrian legend Denkard and the Book of Arda Viraf many sacred texts were lost when Alexander the Great s troops invaded Persepolis and subsequently destroyed the royal library there Diodorus Siculus s Bibliotheca historica which was completed circa 60 BCE appears to substantiate this Zoroastrian legend 62 According to one archaeological examination the ruins of the palace of Xerxes bear traces of having been burned 63 Whether a vast collection of semi religious texts written on parchment in gold ink as suggested by the Denkard actually existed remains a matter of speculation but it is unlikely 64 Alexander s conquests largely displaced Zoroastrianism with Hellenistic beliefs 57 though the religion continued to be practiced many centuries following the demise of the Achaemenids in mainland Persia and the core regions of the former Achaemenid Empire most notably Anatolia Mesopotamia and the Caucasus In the Cappadocian kingdom whose territory was formerly an Achaemenid possession Persian colonists cut off from their co religionists in Iran proper continued to practice the faith Zoroastrianism of their forefathers and there Strabo observing in the first century B C records XV 3 15 that these fire kindlers possessed many holy places of the Persian Gods as well as fire temples 65 Strabo further states that these were noteworthy enclosures and in their midst there is an altar on which there is a large quantity of ashes and where the magi keep the fire ever burning 65 It was not until the end of the Parthian period 247 b c a d 224 that Zoroastrianism would receive renewed interest 57 Late antiquity As late as the Parthian period a form of Zoroastrianism was without a doubt the dominant religion in the Armenian lands 66 The Sassanids aggressively promoted the Zurvanite form of Zoroastrianism often building fire temples in captured territories to promote the religion During the period of their centuries long suzerainty over the Caucasus the Sassanids made attempts to promote Zoroastrianism there with considerable successes and it was prominent in the pre Christian Caucasus especially modern day Azerbaijan citation needed Due to its ties to the Christian Roman Empire Persia s arch rival since Parthian times the Sassanids were suspicious of Roman Christianity and after the reign of Constantine the Great sometimes persecuted it 67 The Sassanid authority clashed with their Armenian subjects in the Battle of Avarayr a d 451 making them officially break with the Roman Church But the Sassanids tolerated or even sometimes favored the Christianity of the Church of the East The acceptance of Christianity in Georgia Caucasian Iberia saw the Zoroastrian religion there slowly but surely decline 68 but as late the 5th century a d it was still widely practised as something like a second established religion 69 70 Decline in the Middle Ages See also Persecution of Zoroastrians A scene from the Hamzanama where Hamza ibn Abd al Muttalib Burns Zarthust s Chest and Shatters the Urn with his Ashes Most of the Sassanid Empire was overthrown by the Arabs over the course of 16 years in the 7th century Although the administration of the state was rapidly Islamicized and subsumed under the Umayyad Caliphate in the beginning there was little serious pressure exerted on newly subjected people to adopt Islam 71 Because of their sheer numbers the conquered Zoroastrians had to be treated as dhimmis despite doubts of the validity of this identification that persisted down the centuries 72 which made them eligible for protection Islamic jurists took the stance that only Muslims could be perfectly moral but unbelievers might as well be left to their iniquities so long as these did not vex their overlords 72 In the main once the conquest was over and local terms were agreed on the Arab governors protected the local populations in exchange for tribute 72 The Arabs adopted the Sassanid tax system both the land tax levied on land owners and the poll tax levied on individuals 72 called jizya a tax levied on non Muslims i e the dhimmis In time this poll tax came to be used as a means to humble the non Muslims and a number of laws and restrictions evolved to emphasize their inferior status Under the early orthodox caliphs as long as the non Muslims paid their taxes and adhered to the dhimmi laws administrators were enjoined to leave non Muslims in their religion and their land Caliph Abu Bakr qtd in Boyce 1979 p 146 Under Abbasid rule Muslim Iranians who by then were in the majority in many instances showed severe disregard for and mistreated local Zoroastrians For example in the 9th century a deeply venerated cypress tree in Khorasan which Parthian era legend supposed had been planted by Zoroaster himself was felled for the construction of a palace in Baghdad 2 000 miles 3 200 km away In the 10th century on the day that a Tower of Silence had been completed at much trouble and expense a Muslim official contrived to get up onto it and to call the adhan the Muslim call to prayer from its walls This was turned into a pretext to annex the building 73 Ultimately Muslim scholars like Al Biruni found few records left of the belief of for instance the Khawarizmians because figures like Qutayba ibn Muslim extinguished and ruined in every possible way all those who knew how to write and read the Khawarizmi writing who knew the history of the country and who studied their sciences As a result these things are involved in so much obscurity that it is impossible to obtain an accurate knowledge of the history of the country since the time of Islam 74 Conversion Though subject to a new leadership and harassment the Zoroastrians were able to continue their former ways although there was a slow but steady social and economic pressure to convert 75 76 with the nobility and city dwellers being the first to do so while Islam was accepted more slowly among the peasantry and landed gentry 77 Power and worldly advantage now lay with followers of Islam and although the official policy was one of aloof contempt there were individual Muslims eager to proselytize and ready to use all sorts of means to do so 76 In time a tradition evolved by which Islam was made to appear as a partly Iranian religion One example of this was a legend that Husayn son of the fourth caliph Ali and grandson of Islam s prophet Muhammad had married a captive Sassanid princess named Shahrbanu This wholly fictitious figure 78 was said to have borne Husayn a son the historical fourth Shi a imam who claimed that the caliphate rightly belonged to him and his descendants and that the Umayyads had wrongfully wrested it from him The alleged descent from the Sassanid house counterbalanced the Arab nationalism of the Umayyads and the Iranian national association with a Zoroastrian past was disarmed Thus according to scholar Mary Boyce it was no longer the Zoroastrians alone who stood for patriotism and loyalty to the past 78 The damning indictment that becoming Muslim was Un Iranian only remained an idiom in Zoroastrian texts 78 With Iranian support the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads in 750 and in the subsequent caliphate government that nominally lasted until 1258 Muslim Iranians received marked favor in the new government both in Iran and at the capital in Baghdad This mitigated the antagonism between Arabs and Iranians but sharpened the distinction between Muslims and non Muslims The Abbasids zealously persecuted heretics and although this was directed mainly at Muslim sectarians it also created a harsher climate for non Muslims 79 Survival The fire temple of Baku c 1860 Despite economic and social incentives to convert Zoroastrianism remained strong in some regions particularly in those furthest away from the Caliphate capital at Baghdad In Bukhara in present day Uzbekistan resistance to Islam required the 9th century Arab commander Qutaiba to convert his province four times The first three times the citizens reverted to their old religion Finally the governor made their religion difficult for them in every way turned the local fire temple into a mosque and encouraged the local population to attend Friday prayers by paying each attendee two dirhams 76 The cities where Arab governors resided were particularly vulnerable to such pressures and in these cases the Zoroastrians were left with no choice but to either conform or migrate to regions that had a more amicable administration 76 The 9th century came to define the great number of Zoroastrian texts that were composed or re written during the 8th to 10th centuries excluding copying and lesser amendments which continued for some time thereafter All of these works are in the Middle Persian dialect of that period free of Arabic words and written in the difficult Pahlavi script hence the adoption of the term Pahlavi as the name of the variant of the language and of the genre of those Zoroastrian books If read aloud these books would still have been intelligible to the laity Many of these texts are responses to the tribulations of the time and all of them include exhortations to stand fast in their religious beliefs Some such as the Denkard are doctrinal defenses of the religion while others are explanations of theological aspects such as the Bundahishn s or practical aspects e g explanation of rituals of it citation needed Fire temple in Yazd Museum of Zoroastrians in Kerman In Khorasan in northeastern Iran a 10th century Iranian nobleman brought together four Zoroastrian priests to transcribe a Sassanid era Middle Persian work titled Book of the Lord Khwaday Namag from Pahlavi script into Arabic script This transcription which remained in Middle Persian prose an Arabic version by al Muqaffa also exists was completed in 957 and subsequently became the basis for Firdausi s Book of Kings It became enormously popular among both Zoroastrians and Muslims and also served to propagate the Sassanid justification for overthrowing the Arsacids i e that the Sassanids had restored the faith to its orthodox form after the Hellenistic Arsacids had allowed Zoroastrianism to become corrupt citation needed Among migrations were those to cities in or on the margins of the great salt deserts in particular to Yazd and Kerman which remain centers of Iranian Zoroastrianism to this day Yazd became the seat of the Iranian high priests during Mongol Il Khanate rule when the best hope for survival for a non Muslim was to be inconspicuous 80 Crucial to the present day survival of Zoroastrianism was a migration from the northeastern Iranian town of Sanjan in south western Khorasan 81 to Gujarat in western India The descendants of that group are today known as the Parsis as the Gujaratis from long tradition called anyone from Iran 81 who today represent the larger of the two groups of Zoroastrians in India 82 The struggle between Zoroastrianism and Islam declined in the 10th and 11th centuries Local Iranian dynasties all vigorously Muslim 81 had emerged as largely independent vassals of the Caliphs In the 16th century in one of the early letters between Iranian Zoroastrians and their co religionists in India the priests of Yazd lamented that no period in human history not even that of Alexander had been more grievous or troublesome for the faithful than this millennium of the demon of Wrath 83 Modern Further information Parsis Irani India and Zoroastrians in Iran A modern Zoroastrian fire temple in Western India Sadeh in Tehran 2011 Zoroastrianism has survived into the modern period particularly in India where the Parsis are thought to have been present since about the 9th century citation needed Today Zoroastrianism can be divided in two main schools of thought reformists and traditionalists Traditionalists are mostly Parsis and accept beside the Gathas and Avesta also the Middle Persian literature and like the reformists mostly developed in their modern form from 19th century developments They generally do not allow conversion to the faith and as such for someone to be a Zoroastrian they must be born of Zoroastrian parents Some traditionalists recognize the children of mixed marriages as Zoroastrians though usually only if the father is a born Zoroastrian 84 Reformists tend to advocate a return to the Gathas the universal nature of the faith a decrease in ritualization and an emphasis on the faith as philosophy rather than religion citation needed Not all Zoroastrians identify with either school and notable examples are getting traction including Neo Zoroastrians Revivalists which are usually reinterpretations of Zoroastrianism appealing towards Western concerns 85 and centering the idea of Zoroastrianism as a living religion and advocate the revival and maintenance of old rituals and prayers while supporting ethical and social progressive reforms Both of these latter schools tend to center the Gathas without outright rejecting other texts except the Vendidad The Ilm e Khshnoom and the Pundol Group are Zoroastrian mystical schools of thought popular among a small minority of the Parsi community inspired mostly by 19th century theosophy and typified by a spiritual ethnocentric mentality citation needed From the 19th century onward the Parsis gained a reputation for their education and widespread influence in all aspects of society They played an instrumental role in the economic development of the region over many decades several of the best known business conglomerates of India are run by Parsi Zoroastrians including the Tata Godrej Wadia families and others citation needed Though the Armenians share a rich history affiliated with Zoroastrianism that eventually declined with the advent of Christianity reports indicate that there were Zoroastrian Armenians in Armenia until the 1920s 86 A comparatively minor population persisted in Central Asia the Caucasus and Persia and a growing large expatriate community has formed in the United States mostly from India and Iran and to a lesser extent in the United Kingdom Canada and Australia citation needed At the request of the government of Tajikistan UNESCO declared 2003 a year to celebrate the 3000th anniversary of Zoroastrian culture with special events throughout the world In 2011 the Tehran Mobeds Anjuman announced that for the first time in the history of modern Iran and of the modern Zoroastrian communities worldwide women had been ordained in Iran and North America as mobedyars meaning women assistant mobeds Zoroastrian clergy 87 88 89 The women hold official certificates and can perform the lower rung religious functions and can initiate people into the religion 90 Relation to other religions and cultures The Achaemenid Empire in the 5th century BCE was the largest empire in history by percentage of world population 91 Some scholars believe 92 that key concepts of Zoroastrian eschatology and demonology influenced the Abrahamic religions 93 94 On the other hand Zoroastrianism itself inherited ideas from other belief systems and like other practiced religions accommodates some degree of syncretism 95 with Zoroastrianism in Sogdia the Kushan Empire Armenia China and other places incorporating local and foreign practices and deities 96 Zoroastrian influences on Hungarian Slavic Ossetian Turkic and Mongol mythologies have also been noted all of which bearing extensive light dark dualisms and possible sun god theonyms related to Hvare khshaeta 97 98 99 Indo Iranian origins See also Indo Iranians and Proto Indo Iranian religion The religion of Zoroastrianism is closest to Vedic religion to varying degrees Some historians believe that Zoroastrianism along with similar philosophical revolutions in South Asia were interconnected strings of reformation against a common Indo Aryan thread Many traits of Zoroastrianism can be traced back to the culture and beliefs of the prehistorical Indo Iranian period that is to the time before the migrations that led to the Indo Aryans and Iranics becoming distinct peoples Zoroastrianism consequently shares elements with the historical Vedic religion that also has its origins in that era Some examples include cognates between the Avestan word Ahura Ahura Mazda and the Vedic Sanskrit word Asura demon evil demigod as well as Daeva demon and Deva god and they both descend from a common Proto Indo Iranian religion citation needed Manichaeism Zoroastrianism is often compared with Manichaeism Nominally an Iranian religion it has its origins in Middle Eastern Gnosticism Superficially such a comparison seems apt as both are dualistic and Manichaeism adopted many of the Yazatas for its own pantheon Gherardo Gnoli in The Encyclopaedia of Religion 100 says that we can assert that Manichaeism has its roots in the Iranian religious tradition and that its relationship to Mazdaism or Zoroastrianism is more or less like that of Christianity to Judaism 101 But they are quite different 102 Manichaeism equated evil with matter and good with spirit and was therefore particularly suitable as a doctrinal basis for every form of asceticism and many forms of mysticism Zoroastrianism on the other hand rejects every form of asceticism has no dualism of matter and spirit only of good and evil and sees the spiritual world as not very different from the natural one the word paradise or pairi daeza applies equally to both citation needed Manichaeism s basic doctrine was that the world and all corporeal bodies were constructed from the substance of Satan an idea that is fundamentally at odds with the Zoroastrian notion of a world that was created by God and that is all good and any corruption of it is an effect of the bad citation needed Present day Iran Many aspects of Zoroastrianism are present in the culture and mythologies of the peoples of Greater Iran not least because Zoroastrianism was a dominant influence on the people of the cultural continent for a thousand years Even after the rise of Islam and the loss of direct influence Zoroastrianism remained part of the cultural heritage of the Iranian language speaking world in part as festivals and customs but also because Ferdowsi incorporated a number of the figures and stories from the Avesta in his epic Shahname which is pivotal to Iranian identity One notable example is the incorporation of the Yazata Sraosha as an angel venerated within Shia Islam in Iran 103 Religious textAvesta Main articles Avesta and Avestan The Avesta is a collection of the central religious texts of Zoroastrianism written in the old Iranian dialect of Avestan The history of the Avesta is speculated upon in many Pahlavi texts with varying degrees of authority with the current version of the Avesta dating at oldest from the times of the Sasanian Empire 104 According to Middle Persian tradition Ahura Mazda created the twenty one Nasks of the original Avesta which Zoroaster brought to Vishtaspa Here two copies were created one which was put in the house of archives and the other put in the Imperial treasury During Alexander s conquest of Persia the Avesta written on 1200 ox hides was burned and the scientific sections that the Greeks could use were dispersed among themselves However there is no strong evidence historically towards these claims and they remain contested despite affirmations from the Zoroastrian tradition whether it be the Denkart Tansar nama Arday Wiraz Namag Bundahsin Zand i Wahman Yasnor the transmitted oral tradition 104 105 As tradition continues under the reign of King Valax identified with a Vologases of the Arsacid Dynasty 106 an attempt was made to restore what was considered the Avesta During the Sassanid Empire Ardeshir ordered Tansar his high priest to finish the work that King Valax had started Shapur I sent priests to locate the scientific text portions of the Avesta that were in the possession of the Greeks Under Shapur II Arderbad Mahrespandand revised the canon to ensure its orthodox character while under Khosrow I the Avesta was translated into Pahlavi The compilation of the Avesta can be authoritatively traced however to the Sasanian Empire of which only fraction survive today if the Middle Persian literature is correct 104 The later manuscripts all date from after the fall of the Sasanian Empire the latest being from 1288 590 years after the fall of the Sasanian Empire The texts that remain today are the Gathas Yasna Visperad and the Vendidad of which the latter s inclusion is disputed within the faith 107 Along with these texts is the individual communal and ceremonial prayer book called the Khordeh Avesta which contains the Yashts and other important hymns prayers and rituals The rest of the materials from the Avesta are called Avestan fragments in that they are written in Avestan incomplete and generally of unknown provenance 108 Middle Persian Pahlavi Middle Persian and Pahlavi works created in the 9th and 10th century contain many religious Zoroastrian books as most of the writers and copyists were part of the Zoroastrian clergy The most significant and important books of this era include the Denkard Bundahishn Menog i Khrad Selections of Zadspram Jamasp Namag Epistles of Manucher Rivayats Dadestan i Denig and Arda Viraf Namag All Middle Persian texts written on Zoroastrianism during this time period are considered secondary works on the religion and not scripture Nonetheless these texts have had a strong influence on the religion citation needed ZoroasterMain article Zoroaster Zoroastrianism was founded by Zoroaster or Zarathushtra in ancient Iran The precise date of the founding of the religion is uncertain and estimates vary wildly from 2000 BCE to 200 years before Alexander Zoroaster was born in either Northeast Iran or Southwest Afghanistan into a culture with a polytheistic religion which featured excessive animal sacrifice 109 and the excessive ritual use of intoxicants and his life was influenced profoundly by the attempts of his people to find peace and stability in the face of constant threats of raiding and conflict Zoroaster s birth and early life are little documented but speculated upon heavily in later texts What is known is recorded in the Gathas forming the core of the Avesta which contain hymns thought to have been composed by Zoroaster himself Born into the Spitama clan he refers to himself as a poet priest and prophet He had a wife three sons and three daughters the numbers of which are gathered from various texts 110 Zoroaster rejected many of the gods of the Bronze Age Iranians and their oppressive class structure in which the Kavis and Karapans princes and priests controlled the ordinary people He also opposed cruel animal sacrifices and the excessive use of the possibly hallucinogenic Haoma plant conjectured to have been a species of ephedra and or Peganum harmala but did not condemn either practice outright providing moderation was observed 111 112 Zoroaster in legend According to later Zoroastrian tradition when Zoroaster was 30 years old he went into the Daiti river to draw water for a Haoma ceremony when he emerged he received a vision of Vohu Manah After this Vohu Manah took him to the other six Amesha Spentas where he received the completion of his vision 113 This vision radically transformed his view of the world and he tried to teach this view to others Zoroaster believed in one supreme creator deity and acknowledged this creator s emanations Amesha Spenta and other divinities which he called Ahuras Yazata Some of the deities of the old religion the Daevas Devas in Sanskrit appeared to delight in war and strife and were condemned as evil workers of Angra Mainyu by Zoroaster citation needed Zoroaster s ideas were not taken up quickly he originally only had one convert his cousin Maidhyoimanha 114 The local religious authorities opposed his ideas considering that their faith power and particularly their rituals were threatened by Zoroaster s teaching against the bad and overly complicated ritualization of religious ceremonies Many did not like Zoroaster s downgrading of the Daevas to evil ones not worthy of worship After twelve years of little success Zoroaster left his home citation needed In the country of King Vishtaspa the king and queen heard Zoroaster debating with the religious leaders of the land and decided to accept Zoroaster s ideas as the official religion of their kingdom after having Zoroaster prove himself by healing the king s favorite horse Zoroaster is believed to have died in his late 70s either by murder by a Turanian or old age Very little is known of the time between Zoroaster and the Achaemenian period except that Zoroastrianism spread to Western Iran and other regions By the time of the founding of the Achaemenid Empire Zoroastrianism is believed to have been already a well established religion citation needed Cypress of Kashmar Main article Cypress of Kashmar The Cypress of Kashmar is a mythical cypress tree of legendary beauty and gargantuan dimensions It is said to have sprung from a branch brought by Zoroaster from Paradise and to have stood in today s Kashmar in northeastern Iran and to have been planted by Zoroaster in honor of the conversion of King Vishtaspa to Zoroastrianism According to the Iranian physicist and historian Zakariya al Qazwini King Vishtaspa had been a patron of Zoroaster who planted the tree himself In his ʿAja ib al makhluqat wa ghara ib al mawjudat he further describes how the Al Mutawakkil in 247 AH 861 AD caused the mighty cypress to be felled and then transported it across Iran to be used for beams in his new palace at Samarra Before he wanted the tree to be reconstructed before his eyes This was done in spite of protests by the Iranians who offered a very great sum of money to save the tree Al Mutawakkil never saw the cypress because he was murdered by a Turkish soldier possibly in the employ of his son on the night when it arrived on the banks of the Tigris 115 116 Reconstruction of the Sassanid model of Fire Temple of Kashmar is located near the historical complex of Atashgah Castle Fire Temple of Kashmar Kashmar Fire Temple was the first Zoroastrian fire temple built by Vishtaspa at the request of Zoroaster in Kashmar In a part of Ferdowsi s Shahnameh the story of finding Zarathustra and accepting Vishtaspa s religion is regulated that after accepting Zoroastrian religion Vishtaspa sends priests all over the universe And Azar enters the fire temples domes and the first of them is Adur Burzen Mihr who founded in Kashmar and planted a cypress tree in front of the fire temple and made it a symbol of accepting the Bahi religion And he sent priests all over the world and commanded all the famous men and women to come to that place of worship 117 According to the Paikuli inscription during the Sasanian Empire Kashmar was part of Greater Khorasan and the Sasanians worked hard to revive the ancient religion It still remains a few kilometers above the ancient city of Kashmar in the castle complex of Atashgah 118 Principal beliefsHumata Huxta Huvarshta Good Thoughts Good Words Good Deeds the Threefold Path of Asha is considered the core maxim of Zoroastrianism especially by modern practitioners In Zoroastrianism good transpires for those who do righteous deeds for its own sake not for the search of reward Those who do evil are said to be attacked and confused by the druj and are responsible for aligning themselves back to Asha by following this path 27 Faravahar or Ferohar one of the primary symbols of Zoroastrianism believed to be the depiction of a Fravashi or the Khvarenah In Zoroastrianism Ahura Mazda is the beginning and the end the creator of everything that can and cannot be seen the eternal and uncreated the all good and source of Asha 4 In the Gathas the most sacred texts of Zoroastrianism thought to have been composed by Zoroaster himself Zoroaster acknowledged the highest devotion to Ahura Mazda with worship and adoration also given to Ahura Mazda s manifestations Amesha Spenta and the other ahuras Yazata that support Ahura Mazda 119 Daena din in modern Persian and meaning that which is seen is representative of the sum of one s spiritual conscience and attributes which through one s choice Asha is either strengthened or weakened in the Daena 120 Traditionally the manthras spiritual prayer formulas are believed to be of immense power and the vehicles of Asha and creation used to maintain good and fight evil 121 Daena should not be confused with the fundamental principle of Asha believed to be the cosmic order which governs and permeates all existence and the concept of which governed the life of the ancient Indo Iranians For these asha was the course of everything observable the motion of the planets and astral bodies the progression of the seasons and the pattern of daily nomadic herdsman life governed by regular metronomic events such as sunrise and sunset and was strengthened through truth telling and following the Threefold Path 21 All physical creation getig was thus determined to run according to a master plan inherent to Ahura Mazda and violations of the order druj were violations against creation and thus violations against Ahura Mazda 24 This concept of asha versus the druj should not be confused with Western and especially Abrahamic notions of good versus evil for although both forms of opposition express moral conflict the asha versus druj concept is more systemic and less personal representing for instance chaos that opposes order or uncreation evident as natural decay that opposes creation or more simply the lie that opposes truth and goodness 21 Moreover in the role as the one uncreated creator of all Ahura Mazda is not the creator of druj which is nothing anti creation and thus likewise uncreated and developed as the antithesis of existence through choice 22 A Parsi Wedding 1905 In this schema of asha versus druj mortal beings both humans and animals play a critical role for they too are created Here in their lives they are active participants in the conflict and it is their spiritual duty to defend Asha which is under constant assault and would decay in strength without counteraction 21 Throughout the Gathas Zoroaster emphasizes deeds and actions within society and accordingly extreme asceticism is frowned upon in Zoroastrianism but moderate forms are allowed within 50 This was explained as fleeing from the experiences and joys of life which was the very purpose that the urvan most commonly translated as the soul was sent into the mortal world to collect The avoidance of any aspect of life which does not bring harm to another and engage in activities that support the druj which includes the avoidance of the pleasures of life is a shirking of the responsibility and duty to oneself one s urvan and one s family and social obligations 22 Central to Zoroastrianism is the emphasis on moral choice to choose the responsibility and duty for which one is in the mortal world or to give up this duty and so facilitate the work of druj Similarly predestination is rejected in Zoroastrian teaching and the absolute free will of all conscious beings is core with even divine beings having the ability to choose Humans bear responsibility for all situations they are in and in the way they act toward one another Reward punishment happiness and grief all depend on how individuals live their lives 122 In the 19th century through contact with Western academics and missionaries Zoroastrianism experienced a massive theological change that still affects it today The Rev John Wilson led various missionary campaigns in India against the Parsi community disparaging the Parsis for their dualism and polytheism and as having unnecessary rituals while declaring the Avesta to not be divinely inspired This caused mass dismay in the relatively uneducated Parsi community which blamed its priests and led to some conversions towards Christianity The arrival of the German orientalist and philologist Martin Haug led to a rallied defense of the faith through Haug s reinterpretation of the Avesta through Christianized and European orientalist lens Haug postulated that Zoroastrianism was solely monotheistic with all other divinities reduced to the status of angels while Ahura Mazda became both omnipotent and the source of evil as well as good Haug s thinking was subsequently disseminated as a Parsi interpretation thus corroborating Haug s theory and the idea became so popular that it is now almost universally accepted as doctrine though being reevaluated in modern Zoroastrianism and academia 37 It has been argued by Dr Almut Hintze that this designation of monotheism is not wholly perfect and that Zoroastrianism instead has it own form of monotheism which combines elements of dualism and polytheism 123 It has otherwise been opined that Zoroastrianism is totally monotheistic with only dualistic elements 6 Throughout Zoroastrian history shrines and temples have been the focus of worship and pilgrimage for adherents of the religion Early Zoroastrians were recorded as worshiping in the 5th century BCE on mounds and hills where fires were lit below the open skies 124 In the wake of Achaemenid expansion shrines were constructed throughout the empire and particularly influenced the role of Mithra Aredvi Sura Anahita Verethragna and Tishtrya alongside other traditional Yazata who all have hymns within the Avesta and also local deities and culture heroes Today enclosed and covered fire temples tend to be the focus of community worship where fires of varying grades are maintained by the clergy assigned to the temples 125 Cosmology Creation of the universe According to the Zoroastrian creation myth Ahura Mazda existed in light and goodness above while Angra Mainyu existed in darkness and ignorance below They have existed independently of each other for all time and manifest contrary substances Ahura Mazda first manifested seven divine beings called Amesha Spentas who support him and represent beneficent aspects of personality and creation along with numerous Yazatas divinities worthy of worship Ahura Mazda then created the material and visible world itself in order to ensnare evil Ahura Mazda created the floating egg shaped universe in two parts first the spiritual menog and 3 000 years later the physical getig Ahura Mazda then created Gayomard the archetypical perfect man and Gavaevodata the primordial bovine 122 While Ahura Mazda created the universe and humankind Angra Mainyu whose very nature is to destroy miscreated demons evil daevas and noxious creatures khrafstar such as snakes ants and flies Angra Mainyu created an opposite evil being for each good being except for humans which he found he could not match Angra Mainyu invaded the universe through the base of the sky inflicting Gayomard and the bull with suffering and death However the evil forces were trapped in the universe and could not retreat The dying primordial man and bovine emitted seeds which were protect by Mah the Moon From the bull s seed grew all beneficial plants and animals of the world and from the man s seed grew a plant whose leaves became the first human couple Humans thus struggle in a two fold universe of the material and spiritual trapped and in long combat with evil The evils of this physical world are not products of an inherent weakness but are the fault of Angra Mainyu s assault on creation This assault turned the perfectly flat peaceful and ever day lit world into a mountainous violent place that is half night 122 Eschatology Renovation and judgment Main article Frashokereti Zoroastrianism also includes beliefs about the renovation of the world Frashokereti and individual judgment cf general and particular judgment including the resurrection of the dead which are alluded to in the Gathas but developed in later Avestan and Middle Persian writings citation needed Individual judgment at death is at the Chinvat Bridge bridge of judgement or bridge of choice which each human must cross facing a spiritual judgment though modern belief is split as to whether it is representative of a mental decision during life to choose between good and evil or an afterworld location Humans actions under their free will through choice determine the outcome According to tradition the soul is judged by the Yazatas Mithra Sraosha and Rashnu where depending on the verdict one is either greeted at the bridge by a beautiful sweet smelling maiden or by an ugly foul smelling old hag representing their Daena affected by their actions in life The maiden leads the dead safely across the bridge which widens and becomes pleasant for the righteous towards the House of Song The hag leads the dead down a bridge that narrows to a razor s edge and is full of stench until the departed falls off into the abyss towards the House of Lies 122 126 Those with a balance of good and evil go to Hamistagan a neutral place of waiting where according to the Dadestan i Denig a Middle Persian work from the 9th century the souls of the departed can relive their lives and conduct good deeds to raise themselves towards the House of Song or await the final judgement and the mercy of Ahura Mazda 127 The House of Lies is considered temporary and reformative punishments fit the crimes and souls do not rest in eternal damnation Hell contains foul smells and evil food a smothering darkness and souls are packed tightly together although they believe they are in total isolation 122 In ancient Zoroastrian eschatology a 3 000 year struggle between good and evil will be fought punctuated by evil s final assault During the final assault the sun and moon will darken and humankind will lose its reverence for religion family and elders The world will fall into winter and Angra Mainyu s most fearsome miscreant Azi Dahaka will break free and terrorize the world 122 According to legend the final savior of the world known as the Saoshyant will be born to a virgin impregnated by the seed of Zoroaster while bathing in a lake The Saoshyant will raise the dead including those in all afterworlds for final judgment returning the wicked to hell to be purged of bodily sin Next all will wade through a river of molten metal in which the righteous will not burn but through which the impure will be completely purified The forces of good will ultimately triumph over evil rendering it forever impotent but not destroyed The Saoshyant and Ahura Mazda will offer a bull as a final sacrifice for all time and all humans will become immortal Mountains will again flatten and valleys will rise the House of Song will descend to the moon and the earth will rise to meet them both 122 Humanity will require two judgments because there are as many aspects to our being spiritual menog and physical getig 122 Thus Zoroastrianism can be said to be a universalist religion with respect to salvation in that all souls are redeemed at the final judgement citation needed Ritual and prayer The central ritual of Zoroastrianism is the Yasna which is a recitation of the eponymous book of the Avesta and sacrificial ritual ceremony involving Haoma 128 Extensions to the Yasna ritual are possible through use of the Visperad and Vendidad but such an extended ritual is rare in modern Zoroastrianism 129 130 The Yasna itself descended from Indo Iranian sacrificial ceremonies and animal sacrifice of varying degrees are mentioned in the Avesta and are still practiced in Zoroastrianism albeit through reduced forms such as the sacrifice of fat before meals 111 High rituals such as the Yasna are considered to be the purview of the Mobeds with a corpus of individual and communal rituals and prayers included in the Khordeh Avesta 128 131 A Zoroastrian is welcomed into the faith through the Navjote Sedreh Pushi ceremony which is traditionally conducted during the later childhood or pre teen years of the aspirant though there is no defined age limit for the ritual 121 132 After the ceremony Zoroastrians are encouraged to wear their sedreh ritual shirt and kusti ritual girdle daily as a spiritual reminder and for mystical protection though reformist Zoroastrians tend to only wear them during festivals ceremonies and prayers 133 121 132 The incorporation of cultural and local rituals is quite common and traditions have been passed down in historically Zoroastrian communities such as herbal healing practices wedding ceremonies and the like 134 135 121 Traditionally Zoroastrian rituals have also included shamanic elements involving mystical methods such as spirit travel to the invisible realm and involving the consumption of fortified wine Haoma mang and other ritual aids 136 24 137 138 139 Historically Zoroastrians are encouraged to pray the five daily Gahs and to maintain and celebrate the various holy festivals of the Zoroastrian calendar which can differ from community to community 140 141 Zoroastrian prayers called manthras are conducted usually with hands outstretched in imitation of Zoroaster s prayer style described in the Gathas and are of a reflectionary and supplicant nature believed to be endowed with the ability to banish evil 142 143 43 Devout Zoroastrians are known to cover their heads during prayer either with traditional topi scarves other headwear or even just their hands However full coverage and veiling which is traditional in Islamic practice is not a part of Zoroastrianism and Zoroastrian women in Iran wear their head coverings displaying hair and their faces to defy mandates by the Islamic Republic of Iran 144 Demographics The sacred Zoroastrian pilgrimage shrine of Chak Chak in Yazd Iran Further information List of countries by Zoroastrian population and List of Zoroastrians Zoroastrian communities internationally tend to comprise mostly two main groups of people Indian Parsis and Iranian Zoroastrians According to a study in 2012 by the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America the number of Zoroastrians worldwide was estimated to be between 111 691 and 121 962 The number is imprecise because of diverging counts in Iran 14 Small Zoroastrian communities may be found all over the world with a continuing concentration in Western India Central Iran and Southern Pakistan Zoroastrians of the diaspora are primarily located in the United States Great Britain and the former British colonies particularly Canada and Australia and usually anywhere where there is a strong Iranian and Gujarati presence citation needed As of 2020 he Estimated population is about 150 477 for Zoroastrians More than a 12 000 increase from 2014 s record Historical populationYearPop p a 1941114 000 197191 266 0 74 198171 630 2 39 2004124 000 2 41 2012121 962 0 21 2014138 000 6 37 2020150 477 1 45 Source 145 146 147 In South Asia India Main articles Parsis and Irani India Parsi Navjote ceremony rites of admission into the Zoroastrian faith India is considered to be home to the single largest Zoroastrian population in the world When the Islamic armies under the first caliphs invaded Persia those locals who were unwilling to convert to Islam sought refuge first in the mountains of Northern Iran then the regions of Yazd and its surrounding villages Later in the ninth century CE a group sought refuge in the western coastal region of India and also scattered to other regions of the world citation needed Following the fall of the Sassanid Empire in 651 CE many Zoroastrians migrated Among them were several groups who ventured to Gujarat on the western shores of the Indian subcontinent where they finally settled The descendants of those refugees are today known as the Parsis The year of arrival on the subcontinent cannot be precisely established and Parsi legend and tradition assigns various dates to the event citation needed In the Indian census of 2001 the Parsis numbered 69 601 representing about 0 006 of the total population of India with a concentration in and around the city of Mumbai Due to a low birth rate and high rate of emigration demographic trends project that by 2020 the Parsis will number only about 23 000 or 0 002 of the total population of India By 2008 the birth to death ratio was 1 5 200 births per year to 1 000 deaths 148 India s 2011 Census recorded 57 264 Parsi Zoroastrians 149 Pakistan In Pakistan the Zoroastrian population was estimated to number 1 675 people in 2012 14 mostly living in Sindh especially Karachi followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 150 151 The National Database and Registration Authority NADRA of Pakistan claimed that there were 3 650 Parsi voters during the elections in Pakistan in 2013 and 4 235 in 2018 152 Iran Iraq and Central Asia Main article Zoroastrians in Iran Iran s figures of Zoroastrians have ranged widely the last census 1974 before the revolution of 1979 revealed 21 400 Zoroastrians 153 Some 10 000 adherents remain in the Central Asian regions that were once considered the traditional stronghold of Zoroastrianism i e Bactria see also Balkh which is in Northern Afghanistan Sogdiana Margiana and other areas close to Zoroaster s homeland In Iran emigration out marriage and low birth rates are likewise leading to a decline in the Zoroastrian population Zoroastrian groups in Iran say their number is approximately 60 000 154 According to the Iranian census data from 2011 the number of Zoroastrians in Iran was 25 271 155 Communities exist in Tehran as well as in Yazd Kerman and Kermanshah where many still speak an Iranian language distinct from the usual Persian They call their language Dari not to be confused with the Dari of Afghanistan Their language is also called Gavri or Behdini literally of the Good Religion Sometimes their language is named for the cities in which it is spoken such as Yazdi or Kermani Iranian Zoroastrians were historically called Gabrs originally without a pejorative connotation but in the present day derogatorily applied to all non Muslims The number of Kurdish Zoroastrians along with those of non ethnic converts has been estimated differently 156 The Zoroastrian Representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has claimed that as many as 100 000 people in Iraqi Kurdistan have converted to Zoroastrianism recently with community leaders repeating this claim and speculating that even more Zoroastrians in the region are practicing their faith secretly 157 158 159 However this has not been confirmed by independent sources 160 The surge in Kurdish Muslims converting to Zoroastrianism is largely attributed to disillusionment with Islam after experiencing violence and oppression perpetrated by ISIS in the area 161 Western world North America is thought to be home to 18 000 25 000 Zoroastrians of both South Asian and Iranian background A further 3 500 live in Australia mainly in Sydney As of 2012 the population of Zoroastrians in USA was 15 000 making it the third largest Zoroastrian population in the world after those of India and Iran 162 It has been claimed that 3 000 Kurds have converted to Zoroastrianism in Sweden 163 In 2020 Historic England published A Survey of Zoroastrianism Buildings in England with the aim of providing information about buildings that Zoroastrians use in England so that HE can work with communities to enhance and protect those buildings now and in the future The scoping survey identified four buildings in England 164 See also Religion portal Asia portal Iran portal Dualism in cosmology Iranian religions Muslim conquest of Persia Persecution of Zoroastrians Proto Indo European mythology Zoroastrian calendarReferencesNotes Zarathustra Iranian prophet Retrieved 9 June 2017 Welcome to Encyclopaedia Iranica www iranicaonline org Retrieved 2021 03 29 Skjaervo Prods Oktor 2005 Introduction to Zoroastrianism PDF Iranian Studies at Harvard University a b c d e f g AHURA MAZDA Encyclopaedia Iranica Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 Dastur Francoise 1996 Death An Essay on Finitude A amp C Black p 11 ISBN 978 0 485 11487 4 a b Mehr Farhang 2003 The Zoroastrian Tradition An 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Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 08 01 BEHDiN Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 08 01 Giara Marzban Jamshedji 2002 Global Directory of Zoroastrian Fire Temples Marzban J Giara Karanjia Ramiyar P 2016 08 14 Understanding Our Religious Titles Parsi Times Retrieved 2021 01 30 Browne T 1643 Religio Medici Mazdaism Oxford Reference Retrieved 2019 08 01 Duchesne Guillemin Jacques Zoroastrianism Encyclopedia Britannica a b c d e Hinnells John Williams Alan 2007 Parsis in India and the Diaspora Routledge p 165 ISBN 978 1 134 06752 7 Boyd James W et al 1979 Is Zoroastrianism Dualistic or Monotheistic Journal of the American Academy of Religion Vol XLVII 4 557 88 doi 10 1093 jaarel XLVII 4 557 volume has extra text help Hintze Almut 2013 Monotheism the Zoroastrian Way Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 24 2 225 49 doi 10 1017 S1356186313000333 S2CID 145095789 via ResearchGate Francois Lenormant and E Chevallier The Student s Manual of Oriental History Medes and Persians Phœnicians and 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Iranica Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 08 03 a b Mary Boyce Zoroastrians Their Religious Beliefs and Practices Psychology Press 2001 ISBN 978 0415239028 p 85 Mary Boyce Zoroastrians Their Religious Beliefs and Practices Psychology Press 2001 ISBN 0415239028 p 84 Wigram W A 2004 An Introduction to the History of the Assyrian Church or The Church of the Sassanid Persian Empire 100 640 A D Gorgias Press p 34 ISBN 978 1593331030 Dr Stephen H Rapp Jr The Sasanian World through Georgian Eyes Caucasia and the Iranian Commonwealth in Late Antique Georgian Literature Ashgate Publishing Ltd 28 September 2014 ISBN 1472425529 p 160 Ronald Grigor Suny The Making of the Georgian Nation Indiana University Press 1994 ISBN 0253209153 p 22 Roger Rosen Jeffrey Jay Foxx The Georgian Republic Volume 1992 Passport Books 1992 p 34 Boyce 1979 p 150 a b c d Boyce 1979 p 146 Boyce 1979 p 158 Kamar Oniah Kamaruzzaman Al Biruni Father of Comparative Religion Lib iium edu my Archived from the original on 13 July 2015 Retrieved 9 June 2017 Buillet 1978 pp 37 138harvnb error no target CITEREFBuillet1978 help a b c d Boyce 1979 pp 147 Buillet 1978 p 59harvnb error no target CITEREFBuillet1978 help a b c Boyce 1979 p 151 Boyce 1979 p 152 Boyce 1979 p 163 a b c Boyce 1979 p 157 Shastri Padmaja What sets Zoroastrian Iranis apart 21 March 2004 Times of India Retrieved 12 October 2021 Boyce 1979 p 175 CONVERSION vii Zoroastrian faith in mod per Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2017 06 14 Stausberg Michael 2007 Para Zoroastrianisms Memetic transmissions and appropriations In Hinnels John Williams John eds Parsis in India and their Diasporas London Routledge pp 236 54 Anne Sofie Roald Anh Nga Longva Religious Minorities in the Middle East Domination Self Empowerment Accommodation Brill 2011 ISBN 9004216847 p 313 The Jury Is Still Out On Women as Parsi Priests Parsi Khabar 2011 03 09 Retrieved 2013 10 12 A group of 8 Zartoshti women received their Mobedyar Certificate from Anjoman Mobedan in Iran Amordad6485 blogfa com Retrieved 2017 06 14 Sedreh Pooshi by Female Mobedyar in Toronto Canada Parsinews net 2013 06 19 Retrieved 2017 06 14 گزارش تصویری موبدیاران بانوی زرتشتی به جرگه موبدیاران پیوستند بخش نخست Archived from the original on September 27 2013 Retrieved August 10 2013 CS1 maint unfit URL link While estimates for the Achaemenid Empire range from 10 80 million most prefer 50 million Prevas 2009 p 14 estimates 10 million 1 Langer 2001 p 40 estimates around 16 million 2 McEvedy and Jones 2001 p 50 estimates 17 million 3 Archived 2013 10 13 at the Wayback Machine Strauss 2004 p 37 estimates about 20 million 1 Ward 2009 p 16 estimates at 20 million 5 Aperghis 2007 p 311 estimates 32 million 6 Scheidel 2009 p 99 estimates 35 million 2 Zeinert 1996 p 32 estimates 40 million 8 Rawlinson and Schauffler 1898 p 270 estimates possibly 50 million 9 Astor 1899 p 56 estimates almost 50 million 10 Lissner 1961 p 111 estimates probably 50 million 11 Milns 1968 p 51 estimates some 50 million 12 Hershlag 1980 p 140 estimates nearly 50 million 13 Yarshater 1996 p 47 estimates by 50 million 14 Daniel 2001 p 41 estimates at 50 million 15 Meyer and Andreades 2004 p 58 estimates to 50 million 3 Pollack 2004 p 7 estimates about 50 million 17 Jones 2004 p 8 estimates over 50 million 18 Safire 2007 p 627 estimates in 50 million 19 Dougherty 2009 p 6 estimates about 70 million 20 Richard 2008 p 34 estimates nearly 70 million 21 Mitchell 2004 p 16 estimates over 70 million 4 Hanson 2001 p 32 estimates almost 75 million 23 West 1913 p 85 estimates about 75 million 24 Zenos 1889 p 2 estimates exactly 75 million 25 Cowley 1999 and 2001 p 17 estimates possibly 80 million 26 Cook 1904 p 277 estimates exactly 80 million 27 Zoroastrianism jewishencyclopedia com 2012 Retrieved 23 February 2012 Black amp Rowley 1987 p 607bharvnb error no target CITEREFBlackRowley1987 help Duchesne Guillemin 1988 p 815 e g Boyce 1982 p 202 The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism John Wiley amp Sons 2015 pp 83 191 ISBN 9781444331356 S Kulisic P Z Petrovic N Pantelic Beli bog Srpski mitoloshki rechnik in Serbian Belgrade Nolit pp 21 22 Juha Pentikainen Walter de Gruyter Shamanism and Northern Ecology 11 07 2011 Dioszegi Vilmos 1998 1958 A samanhit emlekei a magyar nepi muveltsegben in Hungarian 1 reprint kiadas ed Budapest Akademiai Kiado ISBN 963 05 7542 6 The title means Remnants of shamanistic beliefs in Hungarian folklore Gherardo Gnoli Manichaeism An Overview in Encyclopedia of Religion ed Mircea Eliade NY MacMillan Library Reference USA 1987 9 165 Contrast with Henning s observations Henning W B The Book of Giants BSOAS Vol XI Part 1 1943 pp 52 74 It is noteworthy that Mani who was brought up and spent most of his life in a province of the Persian empire and whose mother belonged to a famous Parthian family did not make any use of the Iranian mythological tradition There can no longer be any doubt that the Iranian names of Sam Nariman etc that appear in the Persian and Sogdian versions of the Book of the Giants did not figure in the original edition written by Mani in the Syriac language Zaehner 1956 pp 53 54harvnb error no target CITEREFZaehner1956 help SRAOSA Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 a b c AVESTA i Survey of the history and contents o Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 ALEXANDER THE GREAT ii In Zoroastrianism Encyclopaedia Iranica iranicaonline org Retrieved 2021 01 30 Curtis Vesta Sarkhosh 2016 Ancient Iranian Motifs and Zoroastrian Iconography In Alan Williams Sarah Stewart Almut Hintze eds The ZoroastrianFlame Exploring Religion History and Tradition I B Tauris Is The Vandidad a Zarathushtrian Scripture English Zoroastrian Retrieved 2019 07 13 Bromiley 1995 p 124 sfn error no target CITEREFBromiley1995 help Boyce 1979 p 26 ZOROASTER Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 a b SACRIFICE i IN ZOROASTRIANISM Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 HAOMA Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 Boyce 1979 p 19 Boyce 1979 pp 30 31 The Destruction of Sacred Trees www goldenassay com Retrieved 6 February 2020 The Cypress of Kashmar and Zoroaster www zoroastrian org uk Retrieved 6 February 2020 تاریخچه و نقشه جامع شهر کاشمر در ویکی آنا ana press Retrieved 27 October 2020 ترشیز دروازه ورود اسلام به خراسان khorasan iqna ir Retrieved 11 October 2020 GATHAS Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 DEN Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 a b c d ZOROASTRIAN RITUALS Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 a b c d e f g h Cavendish Richard Ling Trevor Oswald 1980 Mythology an Illustrated Encyclopedia Rizzoli pp 40 5 ISBN 978 0847802869 HINTZE ALMUT 2014 Monotheism the Zoroastrian Way Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 24 2 225 49 ISSN 1356 1863 JSTOR 43307294 Herodotus The Histories Book 1 chapter 131 Perseus Digital Library Retrieved 2019 07 13 ATASKADA Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 CINWAD PUHL Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 Dadestan i Denig Religious Decisions Chapters 1 41 Avesta Retrieved 2019 07 13 a b YASNA Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 VISPERAD Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 VENDiDAD Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 KHORDEH AVESTA Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 a b Zoroastrian rituals Navjote Sudre Pooshi initiation ceremony Avesta Retrieved 2019 07 13 KUSTiG Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 Ajiri Denise Hassanzade correspondent Tehran Bureau 2016 04 11 Herbal life traditional medicine gets a modern twist in Iran The Guardian ISSN 0261 3077 Retrieved 2019 07 13 Zoroastrian Rituals Wedding Avesta Retrieved 2019 07 13 ARDA WiRAZ Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 KARTIR Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 BANG Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 MAGIC i MAGICAL ELEMENTS IN THE AVESTA AND NERANG LITERATURE Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 GAH Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 FESTIVALS i ZOROASTRIAN Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 YEŊ HE HATAM Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 ASƎM VOHu Ashem vohu Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 CADOR 2 Encyclopaedia Iranica Retrieved 2019 07 13 https zoroastrians net 2014 12 24 list of countries with zoroastrian population https www thehindu com news national other states Parsi population dips by 22 per cent between 2001 2011 study article14508859 ece https www theguardian com world 2020 aug 06 last of the zoroastrians parsis mumbai india ancient religion Doomed by faith The Independent 2008 06 28 retrieved 2008 06 28 Parsi population dips by 22 per cent between 2001 2011 study The Hindu PTI 2016 07 26 retrieved 2016 07 26 The Parsi Community in Karachi Pakistan Public Radio International Khan Iftikhar A May 28 2018 Number of non Muslim voters in Pakistan shows rise of over 30pc Dawn Retrieved September 12 2019 Over 35 000 Buddhists Bahaʼis call Pakistan home The Express Tribune September 2 2012 Retrieved September 12 2019 K E Eduljee 2008 06 28 Zoroastrian Demographics amp Group Names Heritageinstitute com Retrieved 2017 06 14 U S State Department 2009 10 26 Iran International Religious Freedom Report 2009 The Office of Electronic Information Bureau of Public Affair Archived from the original on 2009 10 29 Retrieved 2009 12 01 Census Iran young urbanised and educated Egypt Independent 2012 07 29 Retrieved 2017 06 14 Fatah Lara 2015 11 26 The curious rebirth of Zoroastrianism in Iraqi Kurdistan Projects21 org Retrieved 27 February 2018 Hamazor Issue 2 2017 Kurdistan reclaims its ancient Zoroastrian Faith PDF Hamazor Zoroastrian faith returns to Kurdistan in response to ISIS violence Rudaw 2015 06 02 Retrieved 2016 05 17 Kurdistan the only government in Middle East that recognizes religious diversity Kurdistan24 Retrieved 2019 07 13 Zoroastrian faith returns to Kurdistan in response to ISIL viole Rudaw Retrieved 18 September 2015 Iraqi Kurds turn to Zoroastrianism as faith identity entwine France24 23 October 2019 NIAC inSight Washington insights for the Iranian American community from the National Iranian American Council An Old Faith in the New World Zoroastrianism in the United States NIAC inSight Stewart Sarah Hintze Almut Williams Alan 2016 The Zoroastrian Flame Exploring Religion History and Tradition London I B Tauris ISBN 9781784536336 Tomalin Emma 2020 A Survey of Zoroastrianism Buildings in England Historic England Research Report 203 2020 research historicengland org uk Retrieved 2020 06 16 Bibliography Black Matthew Rowley H H eds 1982 Peake s Commentary on the Bible New York Nelson ISBN 978 0 415 05147 7 Boyce Mary 1984 Textual sources for the study of Zoroastrianism Manchester Manchester UP ISBN 978 0 226 06930 2 Boyce Mary 1987 Zoroastrianism A Shadowy but Powerful Presence in the Judaeo Christian World London William s Trust Boyce Mary 1979 Zoroastrians Their Religious Beliefs and Practices London Routledge ISBN 978 0 415 23903 5 note to catalogue searchers the spine of this edition misprints the title Zoroastrians as Zoroastians and this may lead to catalogue errors there is a second edition published in 2001 with the same ISBN Boyce Mary 1975 The History of Zoroastrianism 1 Leiden Brill ISBN 978 90 04 10474 7 repr 1996 Boyce Mary 1982 The History of Zoroastrianism 2 Leiden Brill ISBN 978 90 04 06506 2 repr 1997 Boyce Mary 1991 The History of Zoroastrianism 3 Leiden Brill ISBN 978 90 04 09271 6 repr 1997 Boyce Mary 2007 Zoroastrians Their Religious Beliefs and Practices London Routledge ISBN 978 0 415 23903 5 Boyce Mary 1983 Ahura Mazda Encyclopaedia Iranica 1 New York Routledge amp Kegan Paul pp 684 687 Bulliet Richard W 1979 Conversion to Islam in the Medieval Period An Essay in Quantitative History Cambridge Harvard UP ISBN 978 0 674 17035 3 Carroll Warren H 1985 Founding Of Christendom History Of Christendom 1 Urbana Illinois UP ISBN 978 0 931888 21 2 repr 2004 Clark Peter 1998 Zoroastrianism An Introduction to an Ancient Faith Brighton Sussex Academic Press ISBN 978 1 898723 78 3 Dhalla Maneckji Nusservanji 1938 History of Zoroastrianism New York OUP Duchesne Guillemin Jacques 1988 Zoroastrianism Encyclopedia Americana 29 Danbury Grolier pp 813 815 Duchesne Guillemin Jacques 2006 Zoroastrianism Relation to other religions Encyclopaedia Britannica Online ed archived from the original on 2007 12 14 retrieved 2006 05 31 Eliade Mircea Couliano Ioan P 1991 The Eliade Guide to World Religions New York Harper Collins Foltz Richard 2013 Religions of Iran From Prehistory to the Present London Oneworld publications ISBN 978 1 78074 308 0 Hourani Albert 1947 Minorities in the Arab World New York AMS Press Kellens Jean Avesta Encyclopaedia Iranica 3 New York Routledge and Kegan Paul pp 35 44 Khan Roni K 1996 The Tenets of Zoroastrianism King Charles William 1998 1887 Gnostics and their Remains Ancient and Mediaeval London Bell amp Daldy ISBN 978 0 7661 0381 8 Melton J Gordon 1996 Encyclopedia of American Religions Detroit Gale Research Malandra William W 1983 An Introduction to Ancient Iranian Religion Readings from the Avesta and Achaemenid Inscriptions Minneapolis U Minnesota Press ISBN 978 0 8166 1114 0 Malandra William W 2005 Zoroastrianism Historical Review Encyclopaedia Iranica New York iranicaonline org Moulton James Hope 1917 The Treasure of the Magi A Study of Modern Zoroastrianism London OUP 1 564 59612 5 repr 1997 Robinson B A 2008 Zoroastrianism Holy text beliefs and practices retrieved 2010 03 01 Russell James R 1987 Zoroastrianism in Armenia Harvard Iranian Series Oxford Harvard University Press ISBN 978 0 674 96850 9 Simpson John A Weiner Edmund S eds 1989 Zoroastrianism Oxford English Dictionary 2nd ed London Oxford UP ISBN 978 0 19 861186 8 Stolze Franz 1882 Die Achaemenidischen und Sasanidischen Denkmaler und Inschriften von Persepolis Istakhr Pasargadae Shapur Berlin A Asher Verlag Chronik 2008 The Chronicle of World History United States Konecky and Konecky Zaehner Robert Charles 1961 The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism London Phoenix Press ISBN 978 1 84212 165 8External linksZoroastrianismat Wikipedia s sister projects Definitions from Wiktionary Media from Wikimedia Commons Quotations from Wikiquote Texts from Wikisource Data from Wikidata Encyclopedia Iranica Zoroastrianism Zoroastrianism at Curlie FEZANA Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America Zoroastrianism BBC Radio 4 discussion with Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis Farrokh Vajifdar amp Alan Williams In Our Time Nov 11 2004 Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Zoroastrianism amp oldid 1053966210, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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