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Zoroastrianism One of the World’s Oldest Monotheistic Religions.

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Presentation on theme: "Zoroastrianism One of the World’s Oldest Monotheistic Religions."— Presentation transcript:

1 Zoroastrianism One of the World’s Oldest Monotheistic Religions

2 Founder - Zarathustra  Zarathustra –Persian Prophet  Unclear dating on his birth – Some Zoroastrians claim 6000 BCE! Others think 600 BCE; modern historians date it to between BCE  Belief that his birth was predicted and evil forces tried to kill him as a child  His message eventually won over the Persian king and it became the official religion of the Persian Empire until the 7 th century CE (Islam replaced it)

3 Zarathustra - Zoroaster  In the west, he is known as Zoroaster  In the east – Zarathustra or Zaroshte

4 Ptolemy & Zoroaster Ptolemy and Zoroaster in Raphael’s School of Athens – A collection of the greatest minds of all times painted for a Christian pope’s library

5 Persian Empire at its peak

6  Modern-day Iran was once called Persia

7 Faravahar – Zoroastrian Symbol  Ahura Mazda?  God is supposed to not have form; transcendent  Fravashi – The good part of the human soul given by Ahura Mazda at birth.

8 Faravahar – Zoroastrian Symbol  One hand upwards – striving for constant spiritual improvement  Ring in hand – loyalty and faithfulness  Circle – immortality of the soul; repercussions of our actions  Three rows of wing feathers – good thoughts, words, and deeds  Three sections tail feathers – the opposite  Two streamers – Spenta Mainyu and Angra Mainyu – spirits of good and evil – Figure faces one and turns from the other

9 Holy Scriptures  Avesta – Holy Book; includes the original words of their founder Zarathushtra, preserved in a series of five hymns, called the Gathas.  The Gathas are the basic source of the religion.  The Gathas are abstract sacred poetry, directed towards: 1.worship of the One God, 2.understanding of righteousness and cosmic order, 3.promotion of social justice 4.and individual choice between good and evil.

10 Ahura Mazda – The Only God  A single god Ahura Mazda who is supreme.  Communication between Himself and humans is by a number of Attributes, called Amesha Spentas or Bounteous Immortals.  Within the Gathas, the original Zoroastrian sacred text, these Immortals are sometimes described as concepts, and are sometimes personified.

11 Cosmic Dualism  All powerful God Ahura Mazda who is the only deity worthy of being worshipped, and  An evil spirit of violence and death, Angra Mainyu, who opposes Ahura Mazda.  The resulting cosmic conflict involves the entire universe, including humanity who is required to choose which to follow.  Evil, and the Spirit of Evil, will be completely destroyed at the end of time. Dualism will come to an end and Goodness will be all in all. Another school of thought perceives the battle between Good and Evil as an ethical dualism, set within the human consciousness.

12 Zoroastrian Creed  I curse the Daevas.  I declare myself a Mazda-worshipper, a supporter of Zarathushtra, hostile to the Daevas, fond of Ahura's teaching, a praiser of the Amesha Spentas, a worshipper of the Amesha Spentas. I ascribe all good to Ahura Mazda, 'and all the best,' the Asha-owning one, splendid, xwarena-owning, whose is the cow, whose is Asha, whose is the light, 'may whose blissful areas be filled with light'.

13 Zoroastrian Creed  I choose the good Spenta Armaiti (Holy Spirit) for myself; let her be mine. I renounce the theft and robbery of the cow, and the damaging and plundering of the Mazdayasnian settlements.

14 Zoroastrian Prayer Continued  I reject the authority of the Daevas, the wicked, no-good, lawless, evil-knowing, the most druj-like of beings, the foulest of beings, the most damaging of beings. I reject the Daevas and their comrades, I reject the demons (yatu) and their comrades; I reject any who harm beings. I reject them with my thoughts, words, and deeds. I reject them publicly. Even as I reject the head (authorities), so too do I reject the hostile followers of the druj.

15  After death, a person's urvan (soul) is allowed three days to meditate on his/her past life.  The soul is then judged by a troika Mithra, Sraosha and Rashnu. If the good thoughts, words and deeds outweigh the bad, then the soul is taken into Heaven. Otherwise, the soul is led to Hell. The universe will go through a total of three eras: 1. Creation; 2. The present world where good and evil are mixed. People's good works are seen as gradually transforming the world towards its heavenly ideal; 3. A final state after this renovation when good and evil will be separated.  Eventually, everything will be purified. Even the occupants of hell will be released.

16 Zoroastrian Savior  A Saoshyant (savior) will be born of a virgin, but of the lineage of the Prophet Zoroaster who will raise the dead and judge everyone in a final judgment.  Sound familiar?

17 Laurie Goodstein in NYT Article  "While Zoroastrians once dominated an area stretching from what is now Rome and Greece to India and Russia, their global population has dwindled to 190,000 at most, and perhaps as few as 124,000, according to a survey in 2004 by the Fezana Journal The number is imprecise because of wildly diverging counts in Iran, once known as Persia -- the incubator of the faith."

18 Modern Zoroastrianism  Less than 200,000  Do not attempt to evangelize/convert others but do try to keep their religion alive  Parsis in India – Zoroastrians whose ancestors fled Persia (Iran) when Islam became official religion  Modern Zoroastrians believe that all religions converge on the same god and as long as they are good and loyal to their god, they will go to heaven

19  "The Zoroastrians' mobility and adaptability has contributed to their demographic crisis. They assimilate and intermarry, virtually disappearing into their adopted cultures. And since the faith encourages opportunities for women, many Zoroastrian women are working professionals who, like many other professional women, have few children or none." 1

20  '' 'Survival has become a community obsession,' said Dina McIntyre, an Indian- American lawyer in Chesapeake, Va., who has written and lectured widely on her religion."

21 Connections with Other Monotheistic Religions  Judaism  Christianity  Islam  All with one god, good vs. evil, light vs. dark, messiah of virgin birth, final judgment in which good triumphs

22  Zoroastrianism began with an ancient prophet called Zarathustra. Hey, his name is Zoroaster in Greek, get?! Zoroastrianism! He was an Iranian prophet who lived about 1500 B.C. The Jews have been around a long time, more than three thousand years in fact. "The argument that Judaism borrowed from Zoroastrianism is, as yet, unproven. In fact, if any borrowing was done, it was quite possibly the other way around. In the first place, the evidence actually indicates that Zoroaster wasn't even born until about the time of the Babylonian Captivity. Kenneth Boa states that his dates are sometimes given as between 628 to 551 B.C. If these dates are even relatively accurate then it is quite possible that Judaism did not borrow from Zoroastrianism. Rather, it may actually have been Zoroaster who borrowed from the religion of the Jewish captives in Babylon. It is certainly true that Zoroaster spoke of such things as the coming of a savior and the resurrection of the body and so on. But he may have borrowed these ideas from the Jewish captives in Babylon. Indeed, it appears that all of these ideas can be found in the Jewish Scriptures prior to the Babylonian Captivity."


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