An Introduction to Zoroastrianism

One of my friends asked me a while back, “what the heck is Zoroastrianism”?  Well, let me tell you a smidge about this religion.  Since this particular religion has a long history this will be a short overview.  So, without further ado, on with the post!

Zoroastrianism is the world’s oldest monotheistic religion in the world!  Yes, it was around before Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  In fact, it was this Iranian religion that influenced that had probably the biggest influence on the Jewish religion when it first emerged.  Being monotheistic, it has one supreme being.  That being is called Ahura Mazda.  Ahura Mazda is in a battle against his evil counterpart, Angra Mainyu.  Sound familiar?  Abrahamic religions have basically the same set up in their religion.  They also have a similar eschatological belief system.  Evil will be destroyed in one final great battle and all that is good will be in the blissful presence of Ahura Mazda. 

There are several religious texts for Zoroastrianism.  The largest of these sacred texts is the Avesta.  The Avesta is written in the Avestan language.  This particular language is no longer considered to be a living language in the same way that the related Vedic Sanskrit is.  However, it is listed as a sacred language and is still being studied since the Avesta is still read and written in the language.  The most sacred of the texts are the Gathas.  The reason for them being so important is that they were written by Zoroaster.

Who was this Zoroaster anyway?  You might also know him as Zarathustra, which is closer to his Avestan name.  He was the founder of the Zoroastrian religion and lived around 660 BC.  Yep, that is old.  He apparently was killed during a war between the Persian Empire and Turan about 583BC.  He endured many trials of faith that are extremely similar to the temptation of Christ in the Christian New Testament.  Hmm…curiouser and curiouser…

To wrap this up, let us take a look at one of the most recognized emblems of Zoroastrianism. 

Yeah, this creature is called a Lamassu.  It is a protective chimera like being that is depicted as being part human and either part bull or lion.  It also has eagle wings.  Wait!  I have seen something like this before in Jewish and Christian religions.  Where have I seen that before?

Oh yeah.  In the other Abrahamic faiths those exact creatures are called Cherubim.  Those things around Christ in this picture are the different aspects of a Cherubim.  They also represent the Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John.  They are also those thing that guard the Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant.  Protective spirits that have features of a human, a bull, a lion, and an eagle. 

Well, there you have it.  A little bit about Zoroastrianism.  Since it is such an old religion, it is really hard to go into any more detail without the post becoming ridiculously long.  It also has so many ties to so many other religions in the world that you end up getting wrapped up in explaining how it is connected to pretty much every other world religion that is still practiced today.  If you have any other questions about it, or you just want me to elaborate more on certain parts let me know.

 

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