MAZDAYASNA or ZOROASTRIANISM
MAZDAYASNA or ZOROASTRIANISM is a religion that not many people know but historically speaking is one of the most important religions to have ever existed. The First Known Religion of Resurrection, Heavens, Hell and Day of Judgment. The religion of Zoroastrianism originates in Iran; in the region known as Persia. Founder Zarathustra also known as Zoroaster in Greek.
Genesis of MAZDAYASNA or ZOROASTRIANISM
it’s basically impossible to pin down an exact date for when he lived but scholars suggest that he might have lived around well between 1400 to 1200 BCE while others also say that it may have lived around 800 BCE so there is no consensus about this.
The religion practiced in Persia prior to Zarathustra’s mission was a kind of Polytheism or Paganism; very closely connected to the Vedic tradition in India from which other religions like Hinduism and Jainism and Buddhism also later developed. This can be seen by the fact that many of the gods cross over between the two traditions but have slightly different names based on the language.
Indian Tone in MAZDAYASNA or ZOROASTRIANISM
This includes gods like Saraswathi and Indra and many others the deities worshipped by the Persians were associated with things like water and fire as well as natural phenomena or abstract concepts like love for wisdom. The cult and worships running these deities included things like offerings and animal sacrifice all performed by a class of priests very similar to the Brahmins of the Indian context.
The prophet and founder Zarathustra most likely belonged to this class of priests. It is said that he would wander around Persia looking for wisdom and truth. During these travels he would see a lot of injustice and a lot of violence. In general, which would of course influence the very ethically based message that he would later convey.
His life according to tradition is said to have changed. Dramatically one day when he was celebrating a spring festival and during this festival he went down to the water to fetch or fetch some water for the festival and while standing in waist high water and returned to shore being ritually purified. He suddenly had an intense vision of light and in this light he experienced the presence of the GOD AHURA MAZDA and six other radiant beings from which he then received his first revelation.
God AHURA MAZDA in MAZDAYASNA or ZOROASTRIANISM
The god Ahura Mazda was nothing new to Zarathustra or the Persians. He was a god who had been worshipped prior to this and whose name literally means Lord Wisdom. he was one of the more exalted gods in the pantheon; belonging to a group of God’s called the era’s the Indian equivalent.
But so unique about the revelation that Zarathustra received and that he would convey was that Ahura Mazda was no longer just some God he was now the one uncreated eternal God who was the creator of the world and of everything. God Ahurah Mazda was the guardian and embodiment of a concept called Asha meaning the order of the universe and in a moral sense also represented things like righteousness and justice.
The opposite of this is a term called Drudge synonymous with things like evil falsehood and violence. These forces were not the creation of Ahura Mazda but by another immortal being called Angra Mainyu or the Hostile Spirit in the teachings of Zarathustra.
Core Concept of MAZDAYASNA or ZOROASTRIANISM
The world of creation is a constant battlefield between the forces of Asha and Drudge; between good and evil; light and darkness. Zarathustra himself left behind a collection of hymns known as the Gothis; which was first orally transmitted and then written down under the Sasanian Empire. The Gatha’s can be considered these sort of most sacred scriptures and are part of a larger collection of sacred texts called the Avesta. The rest of which was written after Zoroaster or Zarathustra and by priests.
Another term used to describe lesser divinities is Holy Immortals. But this term is also used to refer to any lesser deity who emanates from Ahura Mazda and includes most of the old gods of the Pantheon.
A question that quickly arises with this very strongly dualistic outlook is the very nature of Zoroastrianism theology. Some claim that Astron is a monotheistic religion while others say that is a dualistic faith or dualistic theology. Scholars and Zoroastrians alike have never really been able to agree on whether or not is a monotheistic religion. T
hat would be pretty significant because then it would be most likely the oldest monotheistic religion in the world that we know. Scholars like Mary Boyce argues for the dualistic alternative describing Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu as equally uncreated opposing forces while others like Farhan Meir proposes a view where original message was that there was but one God and dualistic forces were part of his creation thus below him.
Perhaps it’s wiser to look at this from a more nuanced perspective and not try to define Zoroastrianism with such arbitrary and anachronistic really terms like monotheism or polytheism. There have been other arguments like that of James Boyd and Donald Crosby who suggest that none of the above explanations are good enough. Instead they propose that it cannot be categorized as either straightforward dualism or straightforward monotheism.
The fact is that the old Iranian or Persian pantheon of gods remain in the system at least according to later interpretations of its theological ideas. When the Prophet had his first vision at the river it is said that he saw along with the hood a master himself a group of six lesser beings these are known as The Spenta Mainyu or six lesser divinities all representing different attributes of the high god like righteousness devotion and health. While remaining hierarchically beneath him and sort of part of his creation there are sometimes considered emanations of Ahura Mazda were the symbolism of a torch lighting other torch used to describe this process of emanation.
Holy Immortals in MAZDAYASNA or ZOROASTRIANISM
Another term used to describe these lesser divinities is Holy Immortals. But this term is also used to refer to any lesser deity who emanates from Ahura Mazda and includes most of the old gods of the Pantheon. Thus worship and veneration of the old gods continued under Zoroastrianism and especially of the highest six divinities because these represented attributes of the high god Mazda and were thus worshiped separately.
The exception to this is another group of deities known as the Davis which also has an Indian equivalent of the same name these; represent things like violence and war and thus they serve the hostile spirit Angra Mainyu rather than a Mazda.