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Zoroaster


Zoroaster is regarded as the founder of one of the great ethical religions of the ancient world. Many historians believe that he had direct or indirect influences on the development of three other great religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

He is believed to have been born in the land of Aryana Vaejah (later called Bactra and then Khorasan; now Afghanistan ) at the northern side of Hindo Kush mountains in what is now the city of Balkh. His date of birth and death is not very clear and subject to speculations. The Zoroastrian tradition states that he " lived 258 years before Alexander" the Great. The statement had been interpreted as 258 years before the Alexander's conquests of Afghanistan which occurred in 330 B. C. This date of 588 B. C. also is not considered to be his birth date but the date of one the three important events that occurred in his life. He might have received his revelation at the age of thirty at this time, started preaching his vision at the age of forty or a time when King Vishtaspa converted to his religion which took his name and became known as Zoroastrianism. King Vishtaspa was the king of the land of Chorasmia (the northern Afghanistan which is widely known as Transoxania). According to another tradition he was 40 years old when this event occurred, putting his birth date at 628 B. C.

Zoroaster is known as a major personality of the religions of the world and has been the subject of intense attention mostly for two different reasons. He had become a legendary figure known to be connected with the cult of knowledge in the new eastern and Mediterranean regions and secondly for his monotheistic concept of God. This notion of monotheistic God has attracted modern religious historians who ponder about the connection between his teachings and that of Judaism and Christianity.

According to many sources, Zoroaster was a priests who received his vision from Ahura Mazda, the Wise Lord who appointed him to preach the truth. Zoroaster's attempts to preach was opposed by both civil and religious authorities of those areas where he preached but nonetheless he made some converts among his relatives. After the conversion of the King Vishtaspa, he managed to draw more followers. He never tried to overthrow belief in older religions.

Zoroaster's teaching was based on Ahura Mazda who is the only one alone worthy of worship. Ahura Mazda according to Gathas is the creator of heaven and earth and all things in between: materials and spiritual. He is the source of light and darkness, the sovereign lawgiver and the very center of nature and judge of the entire world.

He received the revelation from Ahura Mazda in the form of Avesta. The Gathas, a part of the Avesta, talks about a Desirable Kingdom that would eventually come. It mentions that since the dawn of creation the world is divided into two opposite group of Good and Evil and the struggle between the two is continues. Man has free will to choose and follow either the Wise Lord or the evil world of Ahriman. All people are accountable for their actions and the righteous people earn the everlasting reward of integrity and immortality. Those who choose and follow the path of Ahriman will eventually will be condemned by their conscience and by the judgment of the Wise Lord and will be leading toward the most miserable form of existence. There are a lot of references in Gathas to the fate of people in the afterlife. Each act, speech and thought is connected with the after death and there will be reward for them in the life after death. It mentions that after a man dies, he must pass over the Bridge of the Requiter and face the judgement by Ahura Mazda. After the judgement, the follower of Good will be rewarded and will enter the kingdom of everlasting joy and light and the followers of evil will be banished to the regions of horror and darkness. The Gathas also mentions that toward the end, the struggle between the Good and Evil would end and the Ahriman will be destroyed. The world then will be a place of peace, harmony and joy.

Zoroaster remained at the court of Vishtaspa. He had a daughter and two sons. The daughter is believed to have married Jamasp, a minister of the king Vishtaspa. Zoroaster eventually died in within the walls of the his native fortified city of Bactra.




Bibliography

Duchesne-Guillemin, Jacques. The Western Response to Zoroaster. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1958.
Durant, Will. Our Oriental Heritage: New Your: Simon and Schuster, 1954.

Masani, Rustom. The Religion of the Good Life. London: Allen and Unwin, 1938, 2d ed. 1968.

Parrinder, Geoffrey, ed. World, Religions from Ancient History to the Present, New Your: Facts on File Publications, 1938.

Zoroaster, The Hymns of Zarathustra. Translated with an introduction by Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin, London: J. Murray, 1952, reprint 1963.

"Zoroaster." Encyclopaedia Britannica. 1997.

"Zoroaster." Encarta Encyclopedia. 1996.

Maryam Zebardast

Library:

Maryam Zebardast

Author:

Massoda Rahimi


    Sources:

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