The description of zoroastrianism and its prevalence in the ancient pre islamic religion of iran

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The description of zoroastrianism and its prevalence in the ancient pre islamic religion of iran


Introduction A number of religions were practiced in the different geographical parts of ancient Iran through the various periods of history, all of which underwent many changes in the course of time, owing to the various social and political developments and upheavals faced by the country.

It is mainly due to this reason that details concerning the original forms of these religions and their relationship with each other are shrouded in haziness and ambiguity. While the main principles and the basic belief structure of the ancient Iranian religions like Zoroastrianism - the followers of which still live in Iran - are somewhat better known because of the availability of certain evidences and sources, not much information can be found regarding the other ancient Iranian religions, and particularly the ones that existed before Zoroastrianism, owing to a lack of reliable evidences.

These religions had also, to a great extent, influenced the ancient Iranian art and literature as well as its other cultural heritages. In general, the sources that are available for providing us with information regarding the pre- Zoroastrian religions of ancient Iran are as follows: It is worth mentioning that both Zoroaster as well as the early Zoroastrians had for a long time struggled to prevent the beliefs of the pre-Zoroastrian faiths from penetrating into the Zoroastrian thought and belief structure.

Nevertheless, some elements of these ancient religions did eventually find their way into the Mazda-worshipping Zoroastrian religion and became merged with it. Thus, the Avesta - and particularly the sections of the Yashts, which comprise hymns in praise of God - is one of the most important sources available concerning the religions that existed in ancient Iran.

These ancient Indian religious texts constitute another important source for research on the religious beliefs and traditions of the ancient Iranians. This is mainly due to the fact that the two branches of the Aryan race that had apparently separated from the other Indo-European tribes in the second millennium BC had a lot in common in the areas of language, legends, epics, and religious beliefs.

Based on this discussion, it could be said that even though it is not possible to have an exact picture of the pre-Zoroastrian religions of the ancient Iranians, it is, at the same time possible to reconstruct certain important characteristics and principles of these faiths with the help of the above mentioned sources and references.

The description of zoroastrianism and its prevalence in the ancient pre islamic religion of iran

Thus, based on The description of zoroastrianism and its prevalence in the ancient pre islamic religion of iran evidences it can be inferred that the ancient Iranians worshipped various gods and goddesses associated with the sky, the earth, the sun, the moon, water, fire, and even wind and went to the extent of offering sacrifices to them in order to gain their satisfaction and blessings.

Offering sacrifices to the gods and the deities was one of the most important religious ritual and the most prevalent form of worship and devotion among the ancient Iranians that was done in a special ceremony on the mountain tops and in the presence and with the mediation of their magi.

During the ceremony, one of the magi would hold a bundle of plants in his hand and after reciting specific religious hymns would kill the sacrificial animal by hitting it on the head with a mace rather than by killing it with the help of a knife.

They would then divide the offering into pieces, cook it, and spread it over a bed of soft plants, especially clover. Subsequently, the magi who supervised over the sacrificial ceremony would gather over the spread and would recite religious hymns to bless the sacrificial meat. While giving a detailed account of the offering ceremony, Herodotus emphasizes that he has noted these details on the basis of the precise information that he had gained about the sacrificial ceremonies of the ancient Iranians.

The study of the offering ceremony as part of the religious practices of the ancient Iranians finds its importance in the fact that Zoroaster had strived hard to keep this practice, as well as other similar customs, out of the Avestan religion.

However, as mentioned earlier, some of these beliefs and practices that had existed in Iran since the ancient times could not be completely removed from the minds of the masses and they gradually came to be added into the Avesta in the later times.

As per the Yashts, the horses were sacrificed in hundreds, the cows in thousands, and the sheep in hundreds of thousands. For example, in Yasht 10, paragraph we read about the sacrifices made for the appeasement of Izad Mehr, while in Yasht 8, paragraph 58 one finds that offerings were made Izad Tishtar.

The gods worshipped in the ancient Iranian religions were of varying natures and performed varying functions. Some research scholars on religions have been of the opinion that the characteristics of the three Indo-Iranian social classes can also be found in the qualities and functions of their gods and that, depending on their duties and responsibilities, each god belonged to a particular social class.

The first of these social classes was that of the rulers and judges whose gods were Mithra and Varuna. The responsibility of these gods corresponded and conformed to the duties of the priests in the human society.

The second social class was that of the warriors who constituted the defense forces of the society. The most important of the gods of this class was Indra.

Zoroastrianism: James Darmesteter. The Origin of the Avesta Religion

Some ancient Indo-Iranian gods and deities, including Indra, Surya, and Nanghaithya were considered to be from among the demons.

With the inclusion of certain new aspects to it, this Indo-Iranian religious principle gradually came to be adopted as one of the main principles of the Zoroastrian religion.

As per the Vedic texts, the sun is the material manifestation of Rita and knowing Rita and believing in it is closely related to the internal illumination of man.

Farr has been praised in the concluding parts of the Avesta, and particularly in the Yasht 19 in which it is hence described: The drink supposedly brought mental illumination and exhilaration to the priests as well as power and valor to the warriors and, thus, it was customary among the people to offer it to their deities too.

The Zoroastrian religion was, seemingly, a local movement in certain parts of east Iran, which encountered severe resistance by the existing religions towards the end of the second millennium or the early part of the first millennium BC.

It may be worthwhile to stress that the Zoroastrian religion is the only surviving ancient Iranian religion and its followers can be found in Iran and some other parts of the world and since it was the official religion of Iran during the reign of the Sassanian Dynasty a considerable amount of Zoroastrian texts that were written in the Pahlavi language are available to us today.

The most important feature of the ancient Iranian religions was a belief in dualism; i. According to this belief, the movements of the cosmos and the activities of the universe are the result of the interactions and battles between these two opposing forces.

The description of zoroastrianism and its prevalence in the ancient pre islamic religion of iran

Moreover, these two spirits who do not resemble each other in any way — neither in their qualities nor in their thoughts, words, or deeds — clashed with each other at the beginning of creation Yasna 30, paragraph 3; Yasna 45, paragraph 2; and Yasna 47 paragraph 2 and it was their clash that resulted in the creation of being and non-being while their continued clashes and animosity resulted in the other various phases of creation; and this clash and animosity shall continue until the time of the final and decisive battle.

To begin with, these two spirits - viz. Thus, man has a responsibility towards the universe and the collective destiny of the people of the world.Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet.

Zoroastrianism a monotheistic pre-Islamic religion of ancient Persia founded by Zoroaster in the 6th century bc.


According to the teachings of Zoroaster the supreme god, Ahura Mazda, created twin spirits, one of which chose truth and light, the other untruth and darkness. Though ancient limestones and dolomites are composed of calcite and dolomite, respectively, other calcite group minerals such as magnesite (MgCO 3), rhodochrosite (MnCO 3), and siderite (FeCO 3) occur in limited amounts in restricted environments.

The history of Iran, leading to the eventual decline of Zoroastrianism in Iran as well as many of its dependencies. This voluminous work, reflects Iran's ancient history, its unique cultural values, its pre-Islamic Zoroastrian religion, and its sense of nationhood.

According to Bernard Lewis. Zoroastrianism is defined by the Merriam Webster [1] online dictionary as a Persian religion founded in the sixth century B.C.E. by the prophet Zoroaster, promulgated in the Avesta, and characterized by worship of a supreme god, Ahura Mazda, who requires good deeds for help in his cosmic struggle against the evil spirit Ahriman.

This is a. Zoroastrianism, the ancient pre-Islamic religion of Iran that survives there in isolated areas and, more prosperously, in India, where the descendants of Zoroastrian Iranian (Persian) immigrants are known as Parsis, or Parsees.. The Iranian prophet and religious reformer Zarathustra (flourished before the 6th century bce)—more widely known outside Iran as Zoroaster, the Greek form of his.

History of Iran - Wikipedia