Zoroastrianism, or Masdeism, became the religion of the Persian state in the 6th century BC . This religion was replaced by Islam only around the 7th century AD after the fall of the Sassanid Empire.
In Iran (formerly Persia), a small part of the population still practices Zoroastrianism, the largest number of adherents of which are Indians.
In short, this ancient religion has as its principle the existence of the good and the evil , that is, God and the devil, so it is a dualistic religion.
Principles of Zoroastrianism
The supreme principles of good and evil are represented by Ahura Mazda , who is the god of good, and Arithman , who is the god of evil.
According to what would have been revealed to Zoroaster, these two gods lived in struggle. The end of time would be marked by Mazda’s victory over Arithman. Therefore, people should choose the path they wanted to follow, knowing that through their actions they could go to hell after their death.
The followers of Zoroastrianism believe in the resurrection of the dead, as well as believe that there is paradise, purgatory and hell, as preached in Christianity. Likewise, this religion believes in the prophecy of the end times.
The emperors were the representatives of the god Mazda on Earth, so that it was possible to guarantee the subjugation of the people to the ruler of the empire.
Discover other aspects of the important civilization of the Persians .
Zoroaster – The Prophet
The name of the religion arises from its founder, the prophet Zoroaster (628 BC and 551 BC), also known as Zaratrusta, which, merging popular beliefs with its teachings, gave rise to Zoroastrianism.
Zoroastro was a priest who was given divine revelations when he was 30 years old. Receiving these revelations, he began to preach them and soon won enemies, such as the karpans who maintained customs that contradicted the teachings of Zoroaster and the kawis, who also opposed him. As a result, he was persecuted and had to flee his homeland.
Thus, a legend arises that Zoroaster healed the horse of a ruler, who would have allowed the prophet to preach freely in the place where he ruled, northeast Persia. In this way, Zoroastro won thousands of followers and spread his belief.
Interestingly, the Zoroastrian priests were called magicians, a word that arises from the Greek magikos . Religion, however, is not based on magical traditions.
Symbols and Sacred Books
Symbols are important characteristics of Zoroastrianism. The Faravahar or Ferohar is the main symbol of this religion, which represents the soul before birth and after death.
The fire is another important element to their believers. The god of good is worshiped through the sacred fire that is maintained by priests in Zoroastrian temples. In order to protect themselves from inhaling the gases produced by this fire, followers of Zoroastrianism wear white masks.
Cremation was not permitted for Zoroastrian believers, as fire was considered sacred. They believed that the corpse-burning technique could contaminate him.
The sacred book of Zoroastrianism is called Avesta . Like the Bible for Christians, it contains prayers, hymns and teachings. One of its most important parts is the book of Gathas , where the 17 songs composed by Zoroaster are written.