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CAIS ARCHAEOLOGICAL & CULTURAL NEWS©

 

Commemoration of Prophet Zarathushtrâ to be Held in Tehran & Worldwide

 

News Category: Cultural

 26 December 2005

 

 

An imagery depiction of Asho Zarathushtrâ

An Oil-Painting by Shapour Suren-Pahlav

 

LONDON, (CAIS) - Zoroastrian Association in Tehran will hold a ceremony in commemoration of Prophet Zarathushtrâ (Zoroaster) in Tehran on 26th of December which is the anniversary of his death.

Prophet Zarathushtrâ is the ancient Iranian prophet and founder of Daenâ Vanuhi (the Good Religion) or Parsism, as it is known in India. He was born in 1773 BCE, somewhere in North-East of Iranian world, possibly in the east of Caspian sea or Bactria (please see the article by Farrokh Jal Vajidar,  "The Avestan Geography"). His hymns which is known as the Gāthās, is this small collection, divulges the barest view of the world known to him and his venerable tradition.

Prophet Zarathushtrâ is generally accepted as a historical figure, but the definite date of his appearance is not known exactly. According to some scholars’ estimates, Prophet Zarathushtrâ came around 1,000 BCE. Others, including linguists however, date him back to around 1,800, making him as the founder of the earliest religion based on revealed scripture. During the Sasanian dynastic era because of political reasons and constant clash with Rome, Sasanians have claimed that he was born around 6th century BCE and born in Athropâtekân (modern Azarbaijan province), which would make him contemporary to the rise of the Achaemenid dynasty.

 

Prophet Zarathushtrâ has attracted much attention in the history of the religions of the world for two main reasons. On the one hand, he was a legendary figure believed to be connected with the occult knowledge and magical practices in the Near Eastern and Mediterranean world during the Hellenistic Age (300 BC - 300 AD). On the other hand, his monotheistic concept of God has attracted the attention of modern historians of religion, who have speculated on the impact of his teachings on Semitic religions of  Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
 
“Prophet Zarathushtrâ was thus the first to teach the doctrines of an individual judgment, Messiah, Heaven and Hell, the future resurrection of the body, the general Last Judgment, and life everlasting for the reunited soul and body. These doctrines were to become familiar articles of faith to much of mankind, through borrowings by Judaism, Christianity and Islam; yet it is in Zoroastrianism itself that they have their fullest logical coherence....” (Mary Boyce, Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices; London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1979, p.1)

The cardinal precepts of Prophet Zarathushtrâ’s teachings are Humata, Hukhta, and Huvarshta which mean Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds.

Prophet Zarathushtrâ’s reforms may not be appreciated without knowledge of the tradition into which he was born and raised. At that time society tended to be divided into three classes: chiefs and priests, warriors, and husbandmen and cattle breeders. This class structure is reflected in the religion, with particular gods or divinities associated with each of the three classes. The Ahuras (lords), which included Mithra and Varuna, seem to have been connected only with the first class.

Prophet Zarathushtrâ was known as a sage, magician and miracle worker in post-classical western culture. However, almost nothing was known of his ideas until the late eighteenth century. By this time, his name was associated with the lost ancient wisdom and was appropriated by Freemasons and other groups who claimed access to such knowledge. He appears in Mozart’s opera Die Zauberflöte under the variant name “Sarastro”, who represents moral order in opposition to the Queen of the Night.

English writers such as Voltaire promoted research into Zoroastrianism believing that it was a form of rational Deism, preferable to Christianity. With the translation of the Holy Avesta, by Abraham Anquetil-Duperron, western scholarship of Zoroastrianism began.

The effects of Zoroastrian in different nations and different religions may well be seen today.

President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmanov, successfully encouraged UNESCO to declare 2002-2003 the third millennium since Prophet Zarathushtrâ’s birth, and in his book, The Tajik in the Mirror of History, he claimed that Aoroaster (the Tajik name for Prophet Zarathushtrâ) was a Tajik (Ancient Sodgdian) from Bactria.

“Many principles of the Zarathushtrian (Zoroastrian) religion have left a deep imprint on the Tajik people. The habits of prohibiting the killing of animals when they are pregnant and the cutting of trees in blossom have been preserved to date. Water, earth, and fire have to be protected from any impurity. The fumes of some fragrant herbs are still used to keep away sickness and the force of evil. These and many other examples give evidence that in every Tajik house we may find trace of Zarathushtrâ’s teachings. Let us hope in the new millennium, the Tajik people will continue to live under the spiritual guidance of Zarathushtrâ, the prophet of truth and light”, Rahmanov states in his book.

The ancient pre-Islamic religion of Iran more or less survived after Islam became the prevailing religion in the country. Following the Arabs invasion of Iran (637-651 AD), which led to the devastation of Iran and decline of Zoroastrian religion. Many Iranians had no choice but to accept the Arabs' belief as the result of the Jaziya (Poll Tax), while the rest massacred or forced to immigrate to neighbouring lands. It is recorded that Yazid ibn Mohlab is reputed to have ordered the decapitation of so many Iranians that their blood flowed in the water powering a millstone for one full day. There are many other massacres recorded.

 

Although most of Iranians forced to accept Islam, but the achievements of their ancestors were not forgotten. Their heritage and way of life were absorbed by the new system to a great extent.

Today, the world observes a growing interest in Zoroastrianism, and while some Iranians are converting back to their ancient faith, many countries including Tajikistan and the former Soviet Central Asian countries which were formerly Iranian areas, acknowledge “Zoroastrian Culture” as part of their spiritual heritage.

The approval of Rahmanov’s proposal by UNESCO gave rise to an extraordinary show of support by Zoroastrian organizations worldwide, resulting in hundreds of large and small commemorative events to celebrate the declared anniversary, from Dushanbeh (the capital of Tajikistan) to Tehran, to Mumbai, to New York City, and to Vancouver. Secretary General of UNESCO delivered several speeches and texts cementing UNESCO’s support for this worldwide collaboration.

Today on 26th of December, world Zoroastrians will gather in commemoration of Prophet Zarathushtrâ and praise his divine and immortal soul together.

 

 

 

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