Part 2 – MAZDAYASNA OR ZOROASTRIANISM
MAZDAYASNA OR ZOROASTRIANISM belief in Good Thoughts, Good Words And Good Deeds. Zarathustra very strongly rejected any worship of Devas. These deities in Zoroastrian cosmology creation is seen as cyclical and often divided into three phases. The first of which is called simply creation of first phase; when the Mazda God creates the world in a perfect state, free from all evil and all darkness.
But as soon as this creation comes about; the evil spirit Angra Mainyu attacks it and infiltrates it with darkness and an evilness and this starts the second phase known as mixture when both good and evil light in darkness exists alongside each other in the world and are battling. Human beings are also important players in this cosmic battle.
The good deities have a responsibility to promote righteousness and goodness and expel evil and darkness from the world this is done in a number of ways but primarily through the basic moral principle that was laid down by Zarathustra; Which Is Good Thoughts Good Words And Good Deeds.
Thus humans and creation have a clear purpose and so Astron is to gradually expel the forces of Angra Mainyu of evil until the third and final phase is reached; called creation in a perfect paradisal state. Sir Arthur stressed message was so ethically based that he introduced certain ideas that were revolutionary for his time.
For example in his thought people would be judged after death and this judgment would lead either to reward or punishment and most importantly departed souls were judged based on their actions in this life and not on things like riches or status which was the case in the earlier pagan religion. Thus reward was open to anyone and so was punishments. It didn’t matter if you were rich, what status you had.
If you’ve been a bad person you would end up being punished after death. If you had been deemed good and then you’ll be able to Cross a Bridge into a paradise of delights. But if you had been bad then that bridge would contract to the size of a blades edge and you would most likely fall down into hell a place of great torment and torture.
Furthermore at the end of time when the Battle of good and evil is over all the bodies of the Dead will be resurrected and subjected to a Last Judgement after which you will either live in hell or remain in the paradise. Like land of the perfected creation which is now free from all evil and darkness in terms of practice.
Mazdayasna gone through a number of developments throughout history. Though Astron been rather negatively referred to as fire worshippers by the Muslim conquerors. This is a rather misleading term. It is true that fire plays an important role in the practice and symbolism of the faith serving as the symbol for purity and God’s wisdom and light fire as well as water appeared to have been an important part of ritual.
MAZDAYASNA or ZOROASTRIANISM, since the very inception like fire temples or heightened platforms with fire altars appear to have been a much later development probably sometime in the Achaemenid Empire but nonetheless fires and temples did become and still remain very important aspects of the faith and their practice connected to this fire and it’s representation of purity is the idea of ritual purity which is one of the most important.
It is the duty of every person to keep clean because you know dirtiness or uncleanliness is an aspect or manifestation of evil and darkness. This led to certain laws regarding ritual purity which; for example, limited women and their movements during their menstrual periods. Because they were seen as unclean for its duration.
One can also see similar ideas expressed in the rather famous funerary rites of the Zoroastrians as the body was considered unclean and once the soul has departed from it. The body was taken out to an open space where it would be eaten by animals and then the bones would later be collected to await the day of resurrection.
We should keep in mind that this is all connected to the cosmic battle and thus seen as a necessary and logical measure to fulfill purpose in creation. Moreover another important ritual practice of Zoroastrianism is the celebration of seven yearly festivals. All connected to these six Amisha spent; thus the higher divinities and one also connected to fire which could be seen as the sort of lifeblood of all of them and the festival of fire is known as no rules or also known today as Persian New Year on the day of the spring. This meant originally to signify as the summer is coming to signify the partial and temporary victory of light over darkness.
MAZDAYASNA or ZOROASTRIANISM in Old Testaments
The priests of Zoroastrianism is called Magi; a term that was used by the Greeks to refer to the entire religion. According to the New Testaments there was three Magi that visited Jesus in Bethlehem women carrying gifts also known as sometimes as the three wise men. In fact this connection to other religions is partly what makes MAZDAYASNA or ZOROASTRIANISM so special.
The most important aspect introduced by the Zoroastrians like Heaven and Hell; the Day of Resurrection and the Last Judgment as well as the dualistic cosmology with an evil adversary through God and his servants. The idea of a coming; Abrahamic terms, Messiah.
It is highly probable that these ideas made it into Judaism in the post exile period and thus very much influenced its development. Going forward these ideas were then later picked up by Christianity and serves as some of the most fundamental aspects of these religions.
So it isn’t entirely wrong to say that many of the fundamental principles of the three Abrahamic world religions as well as the Baha’i faith have their direct origins in Zoroastrianism and the teachings of Zarathustra after its initial spreads. MAZDAYASNA or ZOROASTRIANISM only became a significant force on the world scene with the appearance of the Achaemenid Empire also known as the Persian Empire. Which adopted the Mazdayasna as a kind of state religion. Now this is the Empire of course with Cyrus the Great and all these people.
Its doctrines further developed over time and as it continued to serve as the state religion for the other empires to Sasanian and strong right up into the time of the Arab invasion. At the advent of Islam after which it kind of started to decline. It is true that the conquering Muslims often gave a hard time.
For much of history, since then they have been an oppressed minority but one should also remember that in many periods and by many people those westerns but also considered among the Al-Kitab; The People Of The Book and thus they were considered protected people by the Muslims. But this doesn’t change the fact that oppression still happened. At some times temples were destroyed and so on; but one should be careful not to use a reading of history that is too black or whites in any of the two extreme directions.
As a result of these historical circumstances many of those are Mazdayasna new India and over time they’re developed two rather distinct groups often referred to as on the one hand the Iranian Zoroastrians and Indian Parsy’s. Distinction of these two groups will have to be saved for another time but this grouping still remains today but nonetheless the persecution and oppression that the Zoroastrians have faced.
Current Status of MAZDAYASNA or ZOROASTRIANISM
It’s this unfortunate history, a contributing factor to the religions decline. In numbers, the actual number of Zoroastrians in the world today is difficult to know. For sure, a study conducted in 2012 by the Federation of Zoroastrian associations of North America shows that the numbers might be slightly above 100,000 people which of course isn’t a lot and most of these live in India or Central Iran with also diaspora communities in places like North America and Great Britain. Indeed Zoroastrianism is sometimes called a dying religion due to its decreasing numbers and partly due to its reluctance to accept any converts in MAZDAYASNA or ZOROASTRIANISM.