Persian Ideology > Zoroastrianism



Zoroastrianism is one of the world's oldest known monotheistic religions, founded by the prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra) in ancient Iran (Persia) around the 6th century BCE. It has had a profound influence on the religious, cultural, and philosophical development of Iran and neighboring regions. Here's an in-depth look at Zoroastrianism:

Zoroastrianism is centered on the worship of Ahura Mazda, the supreme god who embodies truth, light, and goodness. Ahura Mazda is the creator and sustainer of the universe, and is opposed by Angra Mainyu, the principle of evil. Zoroastrianism posits a dualistic worldview in which the forces of good (Spenta Mainyu) and evil (Angra Mainyu) are engaged in a cosmic struggle. Humans are called upon to choose between these two opposing forces through their thoughts, words, and deeds.

Zoroastrianism emphasizes ethical behavior, particularly the pursuit of righteousness (asha) and the renunciation of falsehood (druj). The ethical code is summarized in the motto: "Good thoughts, good words, good deeds" (Humata, Hukhta, Huvarshta).

Sacred Texts

Gathas: The Gathas are a collection of hymns attributed to Zoroaster himself, forming the core of Zoroastrian scripture. They are written in an ancient Iranian language and are revered as the words of the prophet.

Avesta: The Avesta is the primary scripture of Zoroastrianism, comprising hymns, prayers, rituals, and teachings. It includes the Gathas, as well as later texts such as the Yasna, Vendidad, Visperad, and Khorda Avesta.

Religious Practices

Fire holds special significance in Zoroastrianism, symbolizing purity, light, and the presence of Ahura Mazda. Zoroastrian rituals often involve the veneration of sacred fires, which are tended by priests known as Mobeds. Zoroastrianism places great emphasis on ritual purity, with adherents required to maintain cleanliness and avoid contact with pollutants. Rituals such as the purification bath (pādyāb) are performed to cleanse oneself spiritually. Zoroastrianism observes various feasts and festivals throughout the year, including Nowruz (the Persian New Year), Mehregan (the festival of Mithra), and Sadeh (the festival of fire).

Afterlife and Eschatology

Zoroastrianism teaches that individuals will be judged after death based on their thoughts, words, and deeds. Those who have lived righteous lives will be rewarded with entry into the heavenly realm of Garothman, while the wicked will be consigned to punishment. Zoroastrian eschatology includes the belief in a final savior figure, known as Saoshyant, who will bring about the resurrection of the dead and the renewal of the world.

Zoroastrianism was the state religion of the Achaemenid Empire, and it exerted a profound influence on Persian culture, governance, and identity. With the spread of Islam in the 7th century CE, Zoroastrianism declined in influence, and many Zoroastrians converted to Islam. However, Zoroastrianism continued to be practiced by a minority of Iranians, particularly in remote regions such as Yazd and Kerman.

Zoroastrianism has inspired a rich tradition of literature, poetry, and art throughout history, including iconic works such as the Shahnameh and miniature paintings. Zoroastrianism remains an integral part of Persian cultural identity, shaping narratives of heroism, wisdom, and cosmic struggle that resonate with Iranians and Persophiles worldwide. Zoroastrianism, with its emphasis on ethical behavior, cosmic dualism, and devotion to Ahura Mazda, continues to be a source of inspiration and fascination for scholars and spiritual seekers alike.

Persian Ideology

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