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Zoroastrianism

Zoroastrianism, or Mazdayasna, is one of the world's oldest religions that remains active. It is a monotheistic faith (i.e. a single creator god), centered in a dualistic cosmology of good and evil and an eschatology predicting the ultimate destruction of evil. Ascribed to the teachings of the Iranian-speaking prophet Zoroaster (also known as Zarathustra), it exalts a deity of wisdom, Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord), as its Supreme Being. Major features of Zoroastrianism, such as messianism, judgment after death, heaven and hell, and free will have influenced other religious systems, including Second Temple Judaism, Gnosticism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. Following the Iranian Revolution and the arrival of the Islamic theocracy in Iran, Zoroastrianism is having a strong revival amongst many Iranians who want to express discontent towards the dictatorial theocratic regime.

With possible roots dating back to the second millennium BCE, Zoroastrianism enters recorded history in the 5th-century BCE. Along with a Mithraic Median prototype and a Zurvanist Sassanid successor, it served as the state religion of the pre-Islamic Iranian empires for more than a millennium, from around 600 BCE to 650 CE. Zoroastrianism was suppressed from the 7th century onwards following the Muslim conquest of Persia of 633–654. Recent estimates place the current number of Zoroastrians at around 190,000, with most living in India and in Iran; their number is declining.[circular reference] In 2015, there were reports of up to 100,000 converts in Iraqi Kurdistan. Besides the Zoroastrian diaspora, the older Mithraic faith Yazdânism is still practised amongst Kurds.

The most important texts of the religion are those of the Avesta, which includes the writings of Zoroaster known as the Gathas, enigmatic poems that define the religion's precepts, and the Yasna, the scripture. The full name by which Zoroaster addressed the deity is: Ahura, The Lord Creator, and Mazda, Supremely Wise. The religious philosophy of Zoroaster divided the early Iranian gods of Proto-Indo-Iranian tradition, but focused on responsibility, and did not create a devil per-se. Zoroaster proclaimed that there is only one God, the singularly creative and sustaining force of the Universe, and that human beings are given a right of choice. Because of cause and effect, they are responsible for the consequences of their choices. The contesting force to Ahura Mazda was called Angra Mainyu, or angry spirit. Post-Zoroastrian scripture introduced the concept of Ahriman, the Devil, which was effectively a personification of Angra Mainyu.

Zoroastrianism's creator Ahura Mazda, through the Spenta Mainyu (Good Spirit, "Bounteous Immortals") is an all-good "father" of Asha (Truth, "order, justice"), in opposition to Druj ("falsehood, deceit") and no evil originates from "him". "He" and his works are evident to humanity through the six primary Amesha Spentas and the host of other Yazatas, through whom worship of Mazda is ultimately directed. Spenta Mainyu adjoined unto "truth", oppose the Spirit's opposite, Angra Mainyu and its forces born of Akəm Manah ("evil thinking").

Zoroastrianism has no major theological divisions, though it is not uniform; modern-era influences having a significant impact on individual and local beliefs, practices, values and vocabulary, sometimes merging with tradition and in other cases displacing it. In Zoroastrianism, the purpose in life is to "be among those who renew the world...to make the world progress towards perfection". Its basic maxims include:

  • Humata, Hukhta, Huvarshta, which mean: Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds.
  • There is only one path and that is the path of Truth.
  • Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, and then all beneficial rewards will come to you also.

Selected article

Persecution of Zoroastrians is the religious persecution inflicted upon the followers of the Zoroastrian faith. The persecution of Zoroastrians occurred throughout the religion's history. The discrimination and harassment began in the form of sparse violence and forced conversions. Muslims are recorded to have destroyed fire temples. Zoroastrians living under Muslim rule were required to pay a tax called Jizya.

Zoroastrian places of worship were desecrated, shrines were destroyed and mosques were built in their place. Many libraries were burned and much of their cultural heritage was lost. Gradually an increasing number of laws were passed which regulated Zoroastrian behavior and limited their ability to participate in society. Over time, the persecution of Zoroastrians became more common and widespread, and the number of believers decreased by force significantly.

Most were forced to convert due to the systematic abuse and discrimination inflicted upon them by followers of Islam. Once a Zoroastrian family was forced to convert to Islam, the children were sent to an Islamic school to learn Arabic and study the teachings of Islam, as a result some of these people lost their Zoroastrian faith. However, under the Samanids, who were Zoroastrian converts to Islam, the Persian language flourished. On occasion, the Zoroastrian clergy assisted Muslims in attacks against those who they deemed Zoroastrian heretics. Read more...

Selected biography

Statue of Tiridates
Tiridates I (Armenian: Տրդատ Ա, EA: Trdat I, WA: Drtad I) was king of Armenia beginning in 53 AD and the founder of the Arshakuni Dynasty, the Armenian line of the Arsacid Dynasty. His early reign was marked by a brief interruption towards the end of the year 54 and a much longer one from 58 to 63. In an agreement to resolve the Roman-Parthian conflict in and over Armenia, Tiridates (who was the brother of Vologases I of Parthia) was crowned king of Armenia by the Roman emperor Nero in 66 AD; in the future, the king of Armenia was to be a Parthian prince, but his appointment required approval from the Romans. Even though this made Armenia a client kingdom, various contemporary Roman sources thought that Nero had de facto ceded Armenia to Parthia.

In addition to being a king, Tiridates was also a Zoroastrian priest and was accompanied by other magi with him on his journey to Rome in 66 AD. This is about the same time that the Gospel of Matthew recorded a journey of wise men from the east to the infant Jesus in Bethlehem. This may lay behind the later Christian legend of the Three Magi. In the early 20th century, Franz Cumont speculated that Tiridates was instrumental in the development of Mithraism, which—in Cumont's view—was simply Romanized Zoroastrianism. This "continuity" theory has since been collectively refuted.

The dates of his birth and death are unknown.

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...that Karan Bilimoria invented Cobra Beer and was the first Parsi in the House of Lords?

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