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Was Zarthushtra's original religion diverted?














It is an open fact that Zarathushtra’s religion was distorted and reinterpreted in many respects by the Magis after they took over the reigns of the religion from the Athravans before (around 7th century BCE) and during the sovereignty of Achaemenians. The distortion of the concept of dualism, the consecrated fire, the coming of the Saoshyant, the timeline of the creation, and reincorporation of pre-Zarathushtrian divinity into the teachings of Zarathushtra can all be attributed to the Magian leadership. It was also the Magi who manipulated the date and time of Zarathushtra to be around 6th century BCE, and fabricated the birthplace of Zarathushtra as Ragah or Rai earlier and later after the time of Alexander the emphasis was shifted to Azerbaijan in western Iran. Magian leadership historically had as their ultimate agenda, to hold on to the priestly power and authority using all means available at their disposal.

It was the Zarathushtrian Achaemenian rulers Darius II and Artaxerxes II, who powerfully promoted the cult of Anahita and the icon worship in the temples of Anahita. It was in the same era that days of the month were dedicated to the worship of Yazatas and for whom the Yashts were composed also in the Magian era.

Having said all that, it must be realized that it was the power and authority that these Magian leaders wielded in those days, that has kept the religion of Zarathushtra alive and allowed its spread; albeit in that Syncretic form; across the vast Iranian empire of the time and further. It must stressed that, if the tradition had not spread in its Syncretic form as we have today, we perhaps would not have the religion of Zarathushtra to speak of at all, in this 21st century.

It was based on almost a thousand years of this Syncretic Tradition that evolved since the Achaemenian, Parthian and Seleucid era that all the later literature, prayers, the different grades of Consecrated Fires, and the ceremonies were developed in Sasanian era.

It is no surprise, that those migrants from Khorasan, to India, well over a thousand years ago, while integrating successfully, closely protected their ethnic identity by maintaining rigid ground rules with sectarian attitude of exclusivity, to preserve their Zarathushti religion. These inflexible rules of selectivity, were man made decree, resulting purely from their historic experiences. They were set out to protect their religious heritage, but they were not invoked by any doctrinal dictum of the Religion and Teachings of Zarathushtra. Adherence to this rigid order, was perhaps essential under the prevailing circumstances than, and they deserve full credit, for their wisdom. However, in doing so the universal message of salvation of mankind, preached by Asho Zarathushtra, was degraded to a racial heritage, treasured by a tribe of people.

Zarathushtis now have a tradition, distorted as it is, that is rooted in some 2700 years, that has come to be accepted as Zarathushti religion. It may not be the Religion of Zarathushtra but it is the Zarathushti religion that they have come to believe and are sentimentally associated with. It is impossible for community to let go of that with any degree of ease. Any transformation to happen will have to be gradual and selective with time. From my personal experience with research on Zarathushtrian calendar, and speaking to the community half way around the world, citing of scholarly work to the community that is sentimentally immersed in some distorted concepts over millennia has absolutely no influence at all. In fact often times those who do not wish to change the wrongs, are so fearful that they will go a long way to distort reason to ridicule, and compromise to barriers. They would even go beyond the borders of Honesty and truth to maintain status quo. TRUE ZARATHUSHTIS NEED NOT STOOP TO THE SAME LEVEL.

In the final analysis it is indeed important to bring certain facts regarding the Religion of Zarathushtra to the attention of the community. However at the same time one must restrain their sentiments in the expectation of results. Such changes in deep seated beliefs take generations to change. Particularly in a community that is so thinly spread across the globe to get a consensus to change their religious sentiments, with conservative thinking at the helm, it could take several generations before success is on the horizon. I urge those sincere Zarathushtis to exercise extreme patience, and tolerance in the face of non-compromising attitude by many in the community.