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Zoroastrianism

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Nikole Lim

on 17 July 2013

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Transcript of Zoroastrianism

ZOROASTRIANISM
WHAT IS IT?
- smallest of today's world religions but one of the oldest.
- it came from ancient Persia (Iran)
- also called
Mazdaism
or
Magiadism
THE HISTORY OF ZOROASTRIANISM

- was founded by the prophet
Zarathustra (Zoroaster)
- one of first monotheists in human history.
- rejected many of the beliefs and practices of the existing religion. In a time of many gods he preached about one great and supreme God,
Ahura Mazda.
- Persian prophet who at the age of 30 believed he had seen visions of God, whom he called Ahura Mazda
BASIC PRINCIPLES
1.
ONE GOD
- Zarathustra preached the existence of one supreme God, whose name,
Ahura Mazda
, means "Wise Lord". Ahura Mazda is the creator of the universe and all things in it, including humankind.



2.
FREE WILL
- Men and women must think and reason for themselves. They have the choice between good and evil.



THE AVESTA
THE GATHAS
- the most important part of the Avesta
- consists of hymns believed to have been composed by Zarathustra.
- most sacred texts of the Zoroastrian faith
THE YASNA
TEXTS
ZOROASTRIAN BELIEFS
- A single god Ahura Mazda who is supreme. Communication between Himself and humans is by a number of Attributes, called
Amesha Spentas
or Bounteous Immortals. Within the Gathas, the original Zoroastrian sacred text, these Immortals are sometimes described as concepts, and are sometimes personified.

- One school of thought promotes a cosmic dualism between:
1. An all powerful God Ahura Mazda who is the only deity worthy of being worshipped, and
2. An evil spirit of violence and death,
Angra Mainyu
, who opposes Ahura Mazda.
The resulting cosmic conflict involves the entire universe, including humanity who is required to choose which to follow. Evil, and the Spirit of Evil, will be completely destroyed at the end of time. Dualism will come to an end and Goodness will be all in all.

-
Asha
is a form of righteous, an all encompassing, natural law.
- Legends, which are probably not those of Zarathustra's original teachings.
1. After death, a person's
urvan
(soul) is allowed three days to meditate on his/her past life. The soul is then judged by a troika consisting of
Mirtha, Sraosha and Rashnu.
If the good thoughts, words and deeds outweighed the bad, then the soul is taken into Heaven. Otherwise, the soul is led to hell.
2. The universe will go through a total of three eras:
a.) Creation
b.) The present world where good and evil are mixed. People's good works are seen as gradually transforming the world towards its heavenly ideal:
c.) The final state after this renovation when good and evil will be separated.
Eventually, everything will be purified. Even the occupants of hell will be released.
3. A
Saoshyant
(savior) will be born a virgin, but of the lineage of the Prophet Zoroaster who will raise the dead and judge everyone in a final judgement. This is a theme that is seen in many world religions.

PRACTICES
-
Today's Zoroastrians
(Parsis)
practice an important coming of age ritual, in which all young Parsis must be initiated when they reach the age of 7 (in India) or 10 (in Persia). They recieve the shirt
(sadre)
and the girdle
(kusti)
, which they are to wear their whole life.


- The
sacred fire
must be kept burning continually and has to be fed at least five times a day. Prayers also recited five times a day. The founding of a new fire involves a new elaborate ceremony. There are also rites for purification and for regeneration of a fire.

-The interior of the
Tower of Silence
is built in three concentric circles, one each for men, women, and children. The corpses are exposed there naked. The vultures do not take long—an hour or two at the most—to strip the flesh off the bones, and these, dried by the sun, are later swept into the central well. Formerly the bones were kept in an ossuary, the
astodan
, to preserve them from rain and animals. The morning of the fourth day is marked by the most solemn observance in the death ritual, for it is then that the departed soul reaches the next world and appears before the deities who are to pass judgment over it.
-
Festivals
, in which worship is an essential part, are characteristic aspects of Zoroastrianism, a faith that enjoins on man the pleasant duty of being happy. The principal festivals in the Parsi year are the six seasonal festivals,
Gahanbars
, and the days in memory of the dead at year's end. Also, each day of the month and each of the 12 months of the year is dedicated to a deity. The day named after the month is the great feast day of that particular deity.

-
The New Year festival
,
Noruz
, is the most joyous and beautiful of Zoroastrian feasts, a spring festival in honour of
Rapithwin
, the personification of noonday and summer. The festival to
Mithra
, or
Mehragan
, was traditionally an autumn one, as honoured as the spring feast of Noruz.
THE FARAVAHAR
- the
Faravahar
or farohar is the symbol of Zoroastrianism. It reminds people of the purpose of their lives on earth, which is spiritual progress. The symbol is very ancient; the fravashi symbol decorated the walls of Persepolis more than 2,500 years ago. It represents the link between the spiritual and physical worlds.
1. The figures head reminds people that they have free will, a mind and an intellect with which to choose good.
2. The human form in the center is encircled by a ring that represents the eternal soul.
3. The right hand points upward to lead people toward Asha, the path of Truth.
4. In the left hand is a ring symbolizing the just power of Khshathra Vairya
5. The figure has wings to help the soul fly upward and progress.
6. It has a tail that serves as a rudder to help the soul balance bwteen the opposing forces of good and evil. These forces are represented by the curved hooks on either side of the tail. The three sections of the tail, which appear as layers of feathers, remind people of good thoughts, good words, and good deeds.
- estimated 200,000 followers
- the Zoroastrians or Zarathushtis are scattered around the world but most of them can be found in India with an estimated 70,000 followers.
Zoroastrianism flourished during the three great Persian Empires:
1.
Archaemenian Empire
- Cyrus The Great
- Established an empire that extended from Asia Minor in the west to India in the east and from Armenia in the north to Egypt in the south.
- Allowed people to follow their own religious beliefs
- When he invaded Babylon, He set the Jewish captives free to return to their country, Judea and provide the resources to rebuild the Temple of Solomon.
- Cyrus is mentioned in the Old Testament as “The Anointed One”
- Conflict with the Greeks in the west of their empire.
- Darius, dispatched 600 ships and a large force to capture Athens.
- Greek heard the of Persian Plan, They send Phillippe to Athens to warn the citizens there.
- Marathon to Athens ( 26 miles )
- This run has been immortalized in the Marathon races held all over the world.
- The Achaemenian Empire came to a close with the rise of Alexander who conquered Persia, plundered the treasury, and burned the libraries in Persepolis.
- Many of the priest were killed
- Those priests were considered to be the living libraries of the religion.
- Alexander is thought of as “The Great” by Greek, Egyptians but “The Accursed” by the Persians


3.
THE TWIN SPIRITS: TRUTH AND THE LIE
- According to Zoroastrian belief Ahura Mazda first created consciousness and knowledge of perfect good. But according to Zoroastrian cosmogony good and evil spirits have been in existence since the very beginning of time. He called these spirits

a:) Truth
(Spenta Mainyu)
- good spirit
b.) The Lie
(Angra Mainyu or Ahriman)
- evil spirit
2.
Parthian Empire
- Overthrew the Greeks
- We’re also Zoroastrians and we’re also tolerant of the religious beliefs of conquered lands.
- 500 years of the Parthian empire, there were continuous battles with the Romans.
- Roman empire extended to Scotland in the west but in the east, they were stopped by the Parthians.
- Romans never took Zoroastrianism but instead practiced Mithraism
- In which the God of Mithra and Anahita were worshipped.

3.
Sasanian Empire
- rose up against the Parthians and overthrew them.
- They wanted to unify Zoroastrianism and establish rules about what Zoroastrianism was and what it was not.
- This missionary activity shows that Zoroastrianism was really a universal religion and not an ethnic religion
SACRED TEXTS
THE AVESTA

- Many prayers in the Avesta are in "Avestan Language". During Zarathustra's time, Avestan was only a spoken language because it did not have a script.

- The Avesta is the analogue of the Bible for Zoroastrians. It is a collection of many texts from many eras, in different languages. The texts come from times that may be as early as 1700 BC and as late as 400 A.D. Until recently, the Avesta was known in the West as the "Zend-Avesta".

- The 21 Avesta volumes contained writings not only on religious matters but on mythology, law, science, medicine, and history.
The Gathas

- the central core of the Avesta
- The Gathas, composed by Zarathushtra in Avestan language and memorized by his followers, were passed down orally from generation to generation.
- The 17 hymns of the Gathas consist of 238 verses, of about 1300 lines or 6000 words in total.
Parts of the Avesta which have been organized in to parts:
1. The Yasna

- Avestan for obligation or worship
- primary liturgical collection of texts of the Avesta as well as the name of the principal Zoroastrian act of worship at which those verses are recited.
- the name of the ceremony in which the entire book is recited and appropriate liturgical actions perform.
2. The Vendidad
- The Vendidad is an ancient collection of Zoroastrian myths, prayers, and religious observances, intended to defend against sources of infection and evil.
3. The Visperad
4. The Khorda Avesta

- called THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER
-frequently used short prayers
- example: Ashem Vohu ( invocation of Asha)

Avestan
- ashem vohû vahishtem astî ushtâ astî ushtâ ahmâi hyat ashâi vahishtâi ashem.

English
- Holiness (Asha) is the best of all good: it is also happiness. Happy the man who is holy with perfect holiness!



- There are 3 types of purification, in order of increasing importance:
1. padyab (ablution)
2. nahn (bath)
3. bareshnum (a complicated ritual performed at special places with the participation of a dog whose left ear is touched by the candidate and whose gaze puts the evil spirits to fight, lasting for several days.)

- The Zoroastrian system of penance entails reciting the patet, the firm resolve not to sin again, and the confession of sins to a dastur or to an ordinary priest if a dastur is not obtainable.


- The chief ceremony, the Yasna, essentially a sacrifice of haoma (the sacred liquor), is celebrated before the sacred fire with recitation of large parts of the Avesta. There also are offerings of bread and milk and, formerly, of meat or animal fat.

- Zoroastrian
burial rites
center on exposure of the dead. After death, a dog is brought before the corpse (preferably a "four-eyed" dog, i.e., with a spot above each eye, believed to increase the efficacy of its gaze). The rite is repeated five times a day. After the first one, fire is brought into the room where it is kept burning until three days after the removal of the corpse to the Tower of Silence. The removal must be done during the daytime.
FIRE TEMPLES
Fire temples house the sacred fires of Zoroastrianism. There are three grades of fire temple: atash behram, atash adaran, and atash dadgah. An atash behram is the highest grade of temple. Sometimes referred to as a “fire cathedral,” it houses the holiest of con-
A priest, or mobed, attending a consecrated fire in a temple in Isfahan, Iran.
secrated fires. The highest and most sacred of all Zoroastrian rituals are held there, con- ducted by the high priests of Zoroastrianism. There are only 10 atash behrams in the world: eight in India and two in Iran.

Protocol for Visitors:
• Shoes removed when in the prayer hall of the temple.
• Head covered (men and women) in the prayer hall or at specific times during a liturgy.
• Shoes may be worn and heads uncovered in the rest of the building.
• Non-Zoroastrians are welcome in standard temples.
• Fire Temples in Iran and India containing higher grades of a consecrated fire are open to Zoroastrians only
QUESTIONS
1. WHO IS THE FOUNDER OF ZOROASTRIANISM AND WHO DOES HE BELIEVE IN?

FOLLOW UP: BASED ON THE LECTURE, WHAT OTHER RELIGION CAN YOU COMPARE ZOROASTRIANISM WITH BASED ON SIMILARITIES? WHY?

2. GIVE ONE BASIC PRINCIPLE AND EXPLAIN.
3. RECALL ONE ZOROASTRIAN BELIEF. DO YOU AGREE/DISAGREE IN THAT BELIEF? WHY OR WHY NOT?
THANK YOU FOR LISTENING!

PRISCILLA IRIS ANG
CARMELA ISBERTO
NIKOLE DELENE LIM
BEA SELINA SECOSANA
MARC VALENCIA
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