Zoroastrianism,the religion of the Parsees,is a national religion,which was the world religion in the ancient times.The Zoroastrian population in the world is about 2.6 millions.The right name for the religion established by Zoroaster is 'Mazdayasnism',meaning the worship of 'Ahura Mazda' or the Lord.Mazdayasnism,was first revealed to King Jamshid by Homa,then to King Fiedoon,Thirta and finally to Zoroaster.
Zoroastrianism teaches that Ahura Mazda created man and gave him his body and mind.Individual will and individual intellect are connected with the cosmic will and cosmic-intellect.Zoroastrianism is a religion of absolute faith and devotion to Ahura Mazda.
A zoroastrian devotee bows, prays, and sacrifices.He makes offerings unto the Lord.He prays to remove his sins by repentance and Ahura Mazda grants all his wishes.The word Asha comes in almost every chapter of the Zend Avesta,which includes all the principles of morality.
Zoroastrianism teaches that the holiness or purity is the soul of Zoroastrianism.Zoroaster was not a philosopher or a metaphysician,but was a Prophet with a divine revealation.Zoroastrianism is not a system of philosophy,but it is a revealed religion of faith and devotion.
Similarity is observed between the Vedic and Zend languages.Even the Zend Avesta is closely related to the Vedas.There is identity of divine names in the Zend Avesta and the Vedas.Zoroaster had derived the principal truths from the Vedas.Zoroastrianism is based on the Vedic religion. The doctrines and rituals of the Zoroastrians have a mostly remarkable similarity to those of the Vedas.
Jamaspa,the son in-law of Zoroaster,became his successor,fter his death.Jamaspa recorded the teachings of Zoroaster which are known as 'Zend Avesta', the scriptures of the Zoroastrians. Zoroastrianism became the state religion of Persia.Later, the Zoroastrianism was amended by the priests,called Magi.
They reviewed the ritualism and the worship of the old nature-deities in a new style by making them the high rank angels of Ahura Mazda.Persia is now a Mohammedan country,with only a few Zoroastrians,who were then driven out of Persia and took refuge in India.They are now called the Parsees,who became a self-contained community in India.
The Parsees have been looking forward to the birth of Saoshyant who will establish righteousness and happiness in this world.It is similar to the Jews hoping in Messiah and the Hindus on the coming Kalki Avatara.There is no Tapas or austerity in Zoroastrianism in order that the body may not be weakened and rendered unfit for work.
Reincarnation is not found in the scriptures as accepted by orthodox Parsees, but it is taught in the fragments preserved by the Greeks and in the Desatir.Parsees perform prayers for the dead at stated fixed periods.They perform ancestor-worship and do anniversaries for the dead in an elaborate manner.
The Yasna and the Visparad are the Vedas of Zoroastrianism.The first part of Yasna consists of Gathas or hymns which came from the mouth of the prophet.However,the second part of Yasna contains prayers addressed to the Supreme Lord and other deities.The Gathas are five in number,which are written in metres,corresponding to the metres of the Sama Veda.
Visparad is a set of invocations,which are chanted before other prayers and scriptures.The twenty-one Nasks deal with all kinds of Sciences, viz., medicine, astronomy, agriculture, botany, etc. They correspond to the Vedangas of Hinduism.Then there is the Khordah Avesta or little Avesta which contains Yashts(invocations) and prayers for the use of lay persons.The modern Parsees recite these prayers daily.
Zoroastrian scriptures are called Zend Avesta. They contain three parts. The first is Vendidad. This contains religious laws and ancient mythical tales. The second is Visparad. The third is Yasna. The Avesta contains direct conversations between Zoroaster and Ahura Mazda, the Supreme Lord.
Fire, The Symbol Of God
Fire is a sacred symbol of the Zoroastrians and Avesta,which is a divine and supreme symbol of the God.Fire is considered as the son of Ahura Mazda.The prophet of Iran taught the worship of the one Supreme Lord of the universe,Ahura Mazda.Fire is the symbol of divine in all sacrifices.Fire has been the symbol of the Supreme Lord in every religion.Zoroaster himself held Fire in great sanctity as a great gift from God.He summoned Fire from the sky and pointed it to heaven,which then burst into a fire.Some of the flames pierced downwards and fired the altar at his side.
Hence,the sacred fire in the altar of a temple is the symbol which reminds all the Parsees of the glory of Ahura Mazda.It is called 'Atar' in the Avesta.In every religion fire has a divine significance.Hindus worship the fire God 'Agni' and the Jews worship their God as a pillar of fire,while the Christians declare that their God is a consuming fire.Fire symbolised the brilliance of the Lord.Fire,which is the purifying, stands for brightness and illumination.The worship of Agni ie Fire,comes from the Vedas.
The Bible says,the 'God is light'.Upanishads mention the 'Brahman is Jyotirmaya' ie full of lightFire is declared to be the most helpful of all the spiritual intelligences,which is acquainted with all heavenly secrets.Ahura Mazda is the Supreme Universal Lord,who corresponds to the Hiranyagarbha of the Hindus.He is the Holiest among the heavenly who created the world.The prophet of Iran explains that,the creation of Ahura Mazda all is a blessing to mankind.
Commands of Ahura Mazda by prophet Zoroaster
*to pray five times a day
*To know the God as one, to know the Prophet Zoroaster as His true prophet
*to obey the commands of Zoroastrianism
*to shun all evil actions
*to do virtuous actions
*to exert for attaining heaven and to fear hell
*to face some bright object like sun while worshipping God
*to have perfect faith in the justice on the fourth morning after death
*to have perfect faith in the religion and the Zend Avesta
*to think always that God has done what He willed and shall do what He wills.
Ethics of Zoroaster
*to be pure in thought, word, and deed
*to do charity
*to be kind,
*to have a clean heart
*to wish others' good
*to speak the truth
*To do good actions
*to be patient
*to be friendly towards all
*to be humble
*to attain knowledge
*to respect parents, the teachers, and the old and the young
*to utter sweet and pleasant words
*to control anger
*to be pious
*to be contented
*to feel shame for doing forbidden actions.
Zoroastrianism has various rituals and rituals are the integral part of the religious life.The rituals are categorised asper the funtion and its nature. The thanksgiving Ritual is called 'Jashan' ,consecration Ritual is cxalled 'Visperad', 'Videvdad' etc.while the Rites of Passage known as 'Navjote', 'Navar' and 'Maratab' (initiations) and the wedding and death are the other rituals.
Is derived from two words Nav (new) and Zot (flame).The Navjote ceremony is performed for every Parsi child, both boy and girl,between their age of 7 and 9.The ritual includes purification, presentation and benedictions.The child is given the 'Sadra', the sacred shirt and the 'Kasti', the sacred girdle,which is made up of 72 strands of sheep's wool intricately woven with ritual observances.It is believed to absorb evil effects.
Zoroastrian weddings are generally celebrated after the sunset. It is as per the promise given by the ancestors of Zoroastrians,to the Hindu King Jadav Rana about 1200 years ago. Marriage ceremony can also be performed in the fire temples in the morning.The marriage ritual is called 'the Ashirwad'(blessings),during which the priest beginsthe 'Ashirvad', and rice grains, coconut shreds, pomegranate seeds and rose petals are showered on the couple.These items signifies helpfulness, prosperity,fertility,and fragrance of happiness.
The Zoroastrian way of the dead body disposal is organised to ensure the theological correctness, ecological safeguards and spiritual fortification.Dokhmenashini is the only valid Zoroastrian custom of disposal of the mortal remains.The Dokhma (Tower of Silence) is a consecrated circular structure built of stone.