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Essence Of Zoroastrianism :

Zoroastrianism holds a dualistic view of the world and man's destiny. Good and evil fight in an unequal battle in which the former is assured of triumph.

 The religion believes man to be mortal. But he does not die altogether. There are five immortal parts in him: Ahu (life), Daena (religion), Baodah (knowledge), Urvan (soul) and Fravashi (pre-existent souls).

The soul has to undergo a judgment, it appears between Mithra (God) and his two companions Sraoshen and Rashnu. It ascends through successive stages representing his good thoughts (the stars), good words (the moon), good deeds (the sun), to the Paradise (of infinite lights). In paradise Vohu Manah, the good mind leads the soul, to the Golden throne of Ormazd (Ahur Mazda). Zoroaster was expected to return by believers at least in the form of three sons who would be born at the interval of a thousand years. The last of these saviors, Astvat-ereta, or justice was called Saoshyans.

The holy book is Zend-Avesta, which holds the teachings of Zarathustra.

Zorastrianism (Parsis)

Founded in Persia by the prophet Zarathustra in the 6th or 7th Century BC, Zorastrianism is one of the oldest religions in the world. He was born in Mazar-i-Sharif, which is now in Afghanistan. The followers of Zorastrianism are known as Pharsis since they originally fled to India to escape persecution in Persia.

Zorastrianism was one of the first religions to advocate the omnipotent and invisible God. Zend-Avesta, their holy book describes the continual conflict of the good and the evil. Their God Ahura Mazda is the god of light and is symbolized by fire. Man ensures the victory over evil by following the principles of 'humata' or good thoughts, 'hukta' or good words, and 'huvarshta' or good deeds.

Parsis worship in fire temples and wear sarda or sacred shirt and a kasti or sacred thread. A ceremony known as 'Navjyote' is performed when the children first wear the sacred thread. Since Parsis believe in purity of the elements of the earth, they do not cremate or burn the dead. Instead the bodies are left in 'towers of silence' where they are cleaned by the vultures. Unfortunately, there are not many Pharsi communities left in India, and their number is gradually declining.


Zorastrianism
 

Zoroastrianism had its genesis in Iran.  As they hail from a Pars in south-west Iran, the people who practise this religion are known as the Parsis.  In 642, when the last Iranian empire was conquered by the Arabs, most Zoroastrians were forcibly converted to Islam.  Others fled the country. Today, of the 1,30,000 Zoarstrians in the world, about 1,00,000 live in India.  Although their number has never been very large, and is in fact dwindling, the Zoroastrians or Parsis have retained their identity very strictly.

Despite being a small community, they have contributed enormously to India. Dadabhai Naoroji, author of the path-breaking book Poverty and Un-British Rule In India, Jamshedji Tata, the father of Indian steel industry, JRD Tata, prominent industrialist of the Tata House and the father of Indian aviation, are a few examples.  Zoroastrianism was founded by the prophet Spitama Zarathustra.  It affirms that there is one god, Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord), other gods being manifestations of his qualities.  He is the Creator or Ohrmazd. Here the equivalents of angels are the seven Amesha Spentas (beneficient Immortals).  Associates of the Amesha Spentas are Yazatas presiding over sun, moon, earth, fire etc. Corresponding to the Indian concept of pitri or forefathers, there is the Avesta Fravashi (Faith and Inspiration). It is supposed that there are two spirits working in this world and one of them is Spenta Mainyu, the spirit of growth and prayers. The word for `soul' in the Avesta is Urva (Chosen).

The holy text of the Zoroastrians is the Avesta, composed in a language belonging to the early Iranaian group of languages and resembling the language of the Vedas. The daily prayer-book the Parsis use everyday is Khordeh Avesta (the smaller Avesta). The Videvat are religious law books laying down codes of conduct and procedures for penance.  The Yasna is the handbook of ceremonies, retreats etc, including the 17 cantos of the five Gathas – Abunavaiti, Ushtavaiti, Spenta Mainyu, Voha Khshathra and Vahishtoishti. Visparat is a supplement of the Yasna, glorifying Ahura Mazda.  The Yashts is a reservoir of epic and historical happenings involving warriors and kings.

All followers of Zoroastrianism have to wear the Sadra and Kusti, a narrow band round the waist, similar to the upavita of the brahmanas.  Aiwayaonhana (which also means stormy sky) is the term used to refer to it in the Avesta. The band is woven out of 72 strands of sheep wool (symbolic of the 72 chapters of the Yasna) and is wound thrice round the waist symbolising the three cardinal tenets of the faith: good thoughts, deeds and words.

Zoroastrianism flourished during the Acharminian dynasty of Cyrus, Darius, Xerexes and others.

Good & Evil in Zoroastrianism:

According to Zoroastrianism the world is a combination both good and evil. Creation cannot exist without the presence of both. In the beginning of creation, Ahura Mazda, the Supreme God, created two Mainyus or twin spirits called Spenta Mainyu, the good spirit and Angra Mainyu (Ahirman), the evil spirit. Creation is possible only when they both come together. .
Spenta Mainyu is responsible for all the good works in the creation of God. He exists in all of us and helps us see the light within ourselves. Ahirman is an illusion. He exists in order to make us understand what true existence means. By opposing good, he makes us realize the importance and necessity of good in our lives.
In this eternal conflict, Ahirman ultimately loses out to Spenta Mainyu. It is to be noted that neither Ahirman nor Spenta Mainyu are absolute powers. They are the creation of God and work according to His Divine Plan, or Asha.

  Faravahar

According to tradition, “Faravahar,” is the symbol of Zoroastrianism.
Briefly, it can be said that “Fravahar,” is the spirit of human being that had been existed before his/her birth and will continue to exist after his/her death.  It is important to know that “Fravahar,” should not be confused or replaced by creator or Ahura Mazda.

Explanation of the Fravahar Symbol :
 

The Fravahar’s face resembles the face of human being and therefore, indicates its connection to mankind.


There are two wings in two sides of the picture, which have three main feathers.  These main feathers indicate three symbols of “good reflection,” “good words,” and “good deed,” which are at the same time the motive of flight and advancement.


The lower part of the Fravahar consists of three parts, representing “bad reflection,” “bad words,” and “bad deed” which causes misery and misfortune for human beings.


 There are two loops at the two sides of the Fravahar, which represent “Sepanta Minu,” and “Angra Minu.”  The former is directed toward the face and the latter is located at the back.  This also indicates that we have to proceed toward the good and turn away from bad.


 There is a circle in the middle of the Fravahar’s trunk.  This symbol indicates that our spirit is immortal, having neither a beginning nor an end.


One hand of the Fravahar points upwards, showing that we have to struggle to thrive.


 The other hand holds a ring.  Some interpreters consider that as the ring of covenant, representing loyalty and faithfulness which is the basis of Zarathustra’s philosophy.

 

In zoroastrianism, the Fravahar or human spirit, embodies two opposing indicators of good and bad.  This will clearly show   Zarathustra’s philosophy that everybody should try to promote his/her Sepanta Minu (positive force) and suppress his/her Angra Minu (negative force).  As a result of  such a spiritual struggle toward goodness and avoiding evil, everybody will be able to thrive in all the walks of his/her life.  Since, the ring of covenant which located in the center of the Fravahar’s trunk is the symbol of the immortality of the spirit, it can be inferred that more human beings try to promote their own Fravahar, more their spirit will be elevated in the other world after they pass away. 

    For that reason ancient Iranians would never mourn at the death of their beloved ones, because they would believe that their spirit will be elevated to a higher level in the other world.  Naturally, when we believe that at the time of death, the spirit of the dead bodies would be elevated to a higher level, we have to joy at their departure to another world, rather than being heartbroken, though their loss may be intolerable for us.  In this way, in Zoroastrianism, on the basis of one’s Fravahar, everybody is responsible for his/her own deed.

 

 

 

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