Iranian religions

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For religion in the country of Iran, see Religion in Iran.
Aryana: Homeland of the Ancient Aryan Religion according to scripture
Aryana according to Eratosthnese
The Holy Aryan Empire - Acheamenid Persia
Monotheism's East to West Development

The word "Aryan" designates Indian and Iranian culture and "most justly" the latter where the term still lives on and is interchangeable with the linguistic, national, and religious identifier Iranian.[1] The Aryans are recalled as the Airya in the ancient Iranian scriptures known as the Avesta, the oldest portions of which were composed by the ancient Aryan[2] “poet-praiser”[3] historians identify as ‘’Zarathushtra’’ (Gk. Zoroaster Ger. Zarathustra),[4][4] and who were closely tied to speakers and clans or nations of Indo-Europe’s ancestral past including the Scythians, Sarmatians, and Cimmerians also included within the category of “Aryan.”[5] Similarly the Aryans are recalled as the Arya in the ancient Indic scriptures known as the Vedas.[6] The Avestan and Vedic Sanskrit languages of these respective Aryan speakers are almost identical and henceforth must trace back to a period shortly after the linguistic divergence of their hypothetical common ancestor known as Proto-Indo-Iranian.[5] Scholars have dated these languages to a period ranging from 6000 BCE to no later than 1000 BCE.[7][8] The homeland of the Aryans is recalled in the Avesta as Airyana Vaejah[9] and roughly corresponds to the modern day territories of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, and Pakistan.[10] Alternatively there is no record of an Aryan homeland in the Vedas although the place-name Arya-Varta which identifies the "abode of the Aryans" does appear in post-Vedic texts such as the Manusmirti, and indicates "the tract between the Himalaya and the Vindhya ranges, from the Eastern Sea to the Western Sea."[11] The Aryan religion of the Avesta, also known as the "Magical or Ethical Religion,"[12][13] demonstrates elements of monotheism sometimes referred to as "monotheistic dualism" which contributed to the core of the Abrahamic belief system.[14][15] Similarly there are traces of monotheism in the Vedas, but evidence of polytheism appears already in the most ancient of the Vedic compositions, the Rig Veda.[16][16] The religion of the Vedic Aryans, also known as ancient Hinduism, in its refined form, developed into Buddhist philosophy.[17] In addition to having made contributions to the Abrahamic faiths, the religion of the Avestic Aryans also made significant contributions to several other movements throughout the course of history including Greek philosophy [18] the Mithraic Mysteries of the pre-Christian Roman Empire [19] both Shiaism[20] and Sufism,[21] the Renaissance [9][22] Europe's Volk movement, and Freemasonry (eg. the Sarastro Lodge named after Zarathushtra himself).[23] In specific the Aryan religion of the Avestan people has also had a significant influence on a handful of individuals in modern day times including Friedrich Nietzsche (eg. Thus Spoke Zarathustra), Richard Strauss (eg. Also Spoke Zarathustra), Mozart (eg. The Magic Flute),[24] Thomas Edison (inventor of the Mazda Bulb),[25] President Truman (quoted for his reference to the Persian Emperor of Aryan lineage: “I am Cyrus”),[26] Stanley Kubrick (having incorporated Strauss’s Also Spoke Zarathustra into the beginning score of his 2001: A Space Odyssey). In their orthodox forms the religion of the Avestic and Vedic Aryans live on, respectively, with the Zartushtis or Parsis of Irano-Afghanistan and India, and the Hindus of South Asia, many of whom have also taken up residence in Europe and the United States.


  • Proto-Indo-Iranian religion or Proto-Iranic religion:[27] The various beliefs and practices from which the later indigenous religion of the Iranian peoples evolved. This religion also influenced the development of the Indian religions.
  • Zoroastrianism: The present-day umbrella term for the indigenous native beliefs and practices of the Iranian peoples. While present-day Zoroastrianism is monolithitic, a continuation of the elite form of Sassanid times, in antiquity it had several variants or denominations, differing slightly by location, ethnic affiliation and historical period. It once had large population and high diversity.
  • Zurvanism: By late Achaemenid times, Zoroastrianism was also evident as Zurvanism (Zurvanite Zoroastrianism), a monist dualism that had a following as late as the Sassanid era.
  • Mandaeism: A gnostic monotheism of (at the latest) the 1st century CE observed Mandā d-Heyyi - "Knowledge of Life". Mandaean theology is based more on a common heritage than on any set of religious creeds and doctrines.
  • Manichaeism: 3rd century ditheistic gnosticism that may have been influenced by Mandaeism. Manichaens believed in a "Father of Greatness" (Aramaic: Abbā dəRabbūṯā, Persian: pīd ī wuzurgīh) and observed Him to be the highest deity (of light).
  • Mazdakism: A late 5th/early 6th century proto-socialist gnosticism that sought to do away with private property.

Medieval period[edit]

Some religionists made syncretic teachings of Islam and local Zoroastrianism.[28]

  • The early Islamic period saw the development of Persian mysticism, a traditional interpretation of existence, life and love with Perso-Islamic Sufi monotheism as its practical aspect. This development believed in a direct perception of spiritual truth (God), through mystic practices based on divine love.
  • Khurramites, a 9th-century religious and political movement based on the 8th century teachings of Sunpadh, who preached a syncretism of Shia Islam and Zoroastrianism. Under Babak Khorramdin, the movement sought the redistribution of private wealth and the abolition of Islam.
  • Behafaridians, an 8th-century cult movement around the prophet Behafarid. Although the movement is considered to have its roots in Zoroastrianism, Behafarid and his followers were executed on charges (made by Zoroastrians) of harm to both Zoroastrianism and Islam.
  • Yarsan, a religious order of Yazdanism, which is believed to have been founded in the 16th century. Yazdanism promulgated the belief in a God manifest as one primary and five secondary avatars to form with God the Holy Seven.


  • Roshanniya Movement, a set of monotheistic teachings of Pir Roshan which his people followed.
  • Bábísm, a mid-19th century monotheistic religion founded by the Báb that was a predecessor of the Bahá'í Faith.
  • Bahá'í Faith, an emerging monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh, a 19th-century Persian exile.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ J.P. Mallory | 1989 | p=125-126 "As an ethnic designation, the word is most properly limited to the Indo-Iranians, and most justly to the latter where it still gives its name to the country Iran (from the Avestan genitive plural airyanam through later Iranian eran to iran)."
  2. ^ Albert De Jong |1997 |p= 320 “The only reliable tradition that can be found is the passage, possibly from Hecataeus of Abdera, in Diodorus Siculus 1.94.2, which connects Zathraustes with the Ariani. This mirrors the Avestan (and later Zoroastrian) idea of Zarathustra living in Airyana Vaejah and proclaiming his message to “the Aryans.”
  3. ^ M.L. West | 2007 | p=29 "The hymns of the Rigveda were the work of priest-poets called Rishis: Zarathushtra uses the corresponding Avestan word ereshi- of himself (Y.31.5).”
  4. ^ a b Benjamin W. Fortson | 2010 | p= 264 "12.59. The Homeric poems in their present form represent the accumulated labor of many generations of bards from different parts of eastern Greece. The result was a mixture of forms from different parts of eastern Greece. The result was a mixture of forms from different dialects and from different chronological stages. Each poet drew on a repertory of inherited and memorized formulaic poetic language, but in composing the epics in performance would inject newer material of his own devising. Bards constantly adapted the poetic language, and to make the verses scan they would sometimes create forms that from a historical point of view are wrong.” Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Indo-European_Language_and_Culture" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  5. ^ a b J.P. Mallory | 1989 | p=48 “Reading from west to east we an include as Iranian speakers the major Iron Age nomads of the Pontic-Caspian steppe such as the Kimmerians(?), Scythians, Sarmatians and Alans. The incredible mobility of these horse-mounted nomads becomes all the more impressive when we recall their westward expansions thorugh Europe.” Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "In_Search_of_the_Indo-Europeans_2" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  6. ^ R. Schmitt) | 1987 | "The name “Aryan” (OInd. āˊrya-, Ir. *arya- [with short a-], in Old Pers. ariya-, Av. airiia-, etc.) is the self designation of the peoples of Ancient India and Ancient Iran who spoke Aryan languages [...]"
  7. ^ Mary Settegast | 2005 |>
  8. ^ J.P. Mallory | 1989 | p=52 "[...]from the archaeological perspective we can at least credit the earliest part of the Avesta to the Late Bronze Age-Early Iron Age, about 1000 BC"
  9. ^ a b Jenny Rose|2011 "Videvadad refers to Airyana Vaejah as an original homeland of the Iranians." Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Zoroastrianism:_an_Introduction" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  10. ^ Michael Witzel | 1998 | “In short, what we get in the Vīdẽvdåδ list, is a view of the inhabitable world seen from (the center of) Greater Afghanistan […]”
  11. ^ p=2 "the tract between the Himalaya and the Vindhya ranges, from the Eastern Sea to the Western Sea."
  12. ^ Dhunjeebhoy Jamsetjee Medhora | 1886 | p=66 "Agathius says that he [Zarathushtra] changed their old form of rites, and introduced many new opinions and was the author and introducer of Magical religion among the Persians
  13. ^ Miles Menander Dawson | 1931 | p=6 "[...] his [Zarathushtra's] mission was primarily and essentially ethical, to cause men to elect, with intelligence and good motive, to do the right thing."
  14. ^ James W. Boyd and Donald A. Crosby|"
  15. ^ Bryan Rennie | 2007|
  16. ^ a b Wash Edward Hale | 1999| p=40 “’You, O Varuna, are king of all, both who are gods and who are mortals, O asura.’” Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Asura" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  17. ^ David Llewelyn Snellgrove |” | 2015 “Northeastern India, which was less influenced by the Aryans who had developed the main tenets and practices of the Vedic Hindu faith, became the breeding ground of many new sects [including Buddhism].”
  18. ^ Jenny Rose | 2011 | "Classical texts, such as Pliny’s ‘’Natural History’’, Porphyry’s ‘’Life of Pythagoras’’, Clement of Alexandria’s ‘’Stromata’’ and Apuleius’ ‘’Florida’’, which speak of Zoroaster as the instructor of the Greeks in philosophy, astrology, alchemy, theurgy and magic […]”
  19. ^ Franz Cumont |1903 |p=30 “The basal layer of this religion [Mithraism], its lower and primordial stratum, is the faith of ancient Iran, from which it took its origin”
  20. ^ Janey Levy | 2010 | p=9 “Experts believe these [Zoroastrian] teachings later influenced Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.”
  21. ^ A.H. Zarrinkoob | 1970 |p=139 "Thus, while in the late Sasanian period period were able to retain some of their former ethical tenets in the Sufi philosophy.”
  22. ^ Steven E. Aschheim | 1994 | p=152 ”Here both Nietzschean ideas and Nietzsche as a heroic personality served to fuse the mythos with the aspirations of the Volk"
  23. ^
  24. ^ Paul Kriwaczek | 2007| p=38 "in The Magic Flute, Mozart disguised Zoroaster as the benevolent Sorastro[...]"
  25. ^ Douglas Roper Krotz | 2011 | p=217 "[...] the most successful research and development company that the world had known up through 1910 was named the Mazda Development and Service Company by founder and major stockholder, Thomas Edison! This company assisted in, and shared, Edison's patent rights on not only electric lights, but, more importantly, the first viable system for centrally generating and distributing electricity, light, heat and power [...]"
  26. ^ Manuvera | 2010 | "What do you mean, ‘helped to create’? I am Cyrus. I am Cyrus"
  27. ^ Relating Religion: Essays in the Study of Religion by Jonathan Z. Smith
  28. ^ The Nativist Prophets of Early Islamic Iran
  • Alessandro Bausani, Religion in Iran: From Zoroaster to Bahaullah, Bibliotheca Persica, 2000
  • Richard Foltz, Religions of Iran: From Prehistory to the Present, London: Oneworld, 2013.