On this 4000 anniversary of Zoroastrianism
I Dedicate this article to Professor Khaikhsrow D. Irani
Who in our generation has done more than anybody else
to unravel and explain the truth of Zoroastrianism
Farhang Mehr, Boston, MA, Oct. 2003
Each year the UNESCO declares certain
historical events and personages for commemoration under the title of
anniversaries of the year. The event or personage is nominated by a Member
State of UNESCO, considered by its Board and approved by its General
Body. The event or personage must be one that has had great impact on
humanity and influenced the progress and advancement of the world.
This year “3000 year of Zoroastrianiasm”,
proposed by Tajikistan, appeared on top of the list of 47 events. The
Tajikis are proud that Zarathushtra was born in Khwarazm, the city now
located in their country, and rightly consider it a part of their
The greatness of Zarathushtra, as a prophet,
thinker and noble man is in what he preached and propagated, perhaps 4000
years ago. All that are reflected in the Gathas, the holy Scripture of
The major part of the Gathas is about the best
way of life. It illustrates the life style that leads to individual’s
happiness and community’s progress. The mode of life that guarantees the
uplift of humanity and creation.
In his first sermon Zarathushtra preached the
importance of liberality and freedom of choice even in the matter of
“Hearken with your ears to these best
Reflect upon them with illumined judgment
Let each one choose his/her creed with hat freedom of choice
Each must have at great events,
O ye, be awake to this my announcements”
(Gathas, Yasna 30-2)[ii]
Freedom of choice is the greatest bliss
granted to human being by Ahura Mazda. Zoroastrianism fully advocates
Freedom of choice must be exercised through
reflection, consultation with mind and conscience (Manah and Daena).
Zoroastrianism is a reflective religion. Nothing should be accepted
blindly as a dogma.
Besides rationality, Zoroastrianism is
universal. Zarathushtra in his first sermon and subsequent pronouncement
unambiguously refers to universality of the religion. In his first sermon
he addresses his audience :
‘ O ye, coming to seek wisdom, now shall I
to you the message of the Wise Creator”
And in another sermon he starts his preach by
the following words:
“ Hearken unto me, O ye who come from near and
Listen to me, as I speak forth now,
Ponder over these teachings with care and clear thought,
Never shall the False Teacher destroy existence a second time
For his tongue stands mute , his creed stands exposed.”
(Gathas , Yasna 45-1
In his first sermon and subsequent messages
Zarathoshtra refers to the “Wise Creator”, Ahura Mazda, to the Good Mind
(Vohu Mana) and the enduring Sacred Truth (Asha). He is the first who
spoke of One Creator who is transcendent , immanent and a-personal. He
defined God as the Essence and Giver of Life thus laid down the principle
of ‘Oneness of
Being’. All beings are created by Ahura Mazda
through the ‘Good Spirit (Spenta Mainyu)’. Spenta Mainyu also represents
Ahura Mazda in material world.
Zarathyshtra defined Ahura Mazda as the
Essence of ,and Sublime ,Wisdom, Truth, Peace and Love, and Constructive
Power and thus Ahura Mazda is the Essence of Perfection and immortality.
He was the champion of ‘true and rational Monotheism.’ A God that is
Omniscient and Just.
As creator of Asha, Ahura Mazda has
prescribed the eternal law of Asha to govern the whole creation. It is
the law of cause and effect. Thoughts, words and deeds of human beings
which reflect a person’s choice of good and evil are measured by this law
and the reward (Mijdeh) accrues. One reaps what one sows. Nobody can
change the effects of one’s acts. No penitence and no mediation works.
There is no preordained fate. Fate is the product of ones thoughts, words,
and deeds. These are the basis of God’s true justice.
Equality of human beings irrespective of race,
gender, color of the skin in every respect exists. These were translated
in the treatment of Cyrus of Achaeminean dynesty in freeing jews and
followers of other faiths from captivity in Babylon and assisting them to
rebuild their places of worship. Zarathushtra criticizes the princes and
clergies who exploit people. He propagates the governance of the people
for the people –what is called democracy.
The law of Asha does not only indicate the dry
and mechanical truth. It signifies ideal truth and seeking the truth.
Truth of the creation and of natural, physical, mental and social
phenomena. To eliminate or reduce the misery, human beings are expected to
try and understand the truth of whatever happen around from hurricane and
earthquake, to cancer, Alzheimer, and social maladies such as inflation
and unemployment, pollution and greenhouse warming. All phenomena should
be investigated, the reasons for their occurrence researched and the
remedy be discovered. Zoroastrianism does not enter the area of science.
It does not address details about creation of man or the universes, the
kind of food or drinks or attire one has to consume or use. These are the
matters for scientist and experts to discover and the results may modify,
be amplified or even change. Hence Zoroastrianism is supportive of
scientific advancements. Gathas does not deal with minor problems of
everyday life it deals with micro issues.
Protection of environment is a serious concern
of Zoroastrianism. Prevention of pollution of soil, water, air and fire is
strongly recommended. Human beings are the guardians of all the creation
of Ahura Mazda and must care for them.
In Zarathushtra’ messages, inspired by Ahura
Mazda, human beings are called friends and co-workers of God. As such they
are duty bound to work with God for the advancement of the creation. For
that purpose God deposited in human being at birth a glimpse of his own
qualities. Human being has the option to strengthen these potentialities
by treading the path of Truth (Asha). In his Justice Ahura Mazda has
warned human beings of the existence of two ways of living and their
This is embedded in the doctrine of dualism
Doctrine of ‘Moral Dualism’ is at one end related to the ‘principle of
freedom of choice’ and at the other end to the law of consequences. It is
a system of thought in which good and bad are in action. It is a
behavioral attitude that manifests itself in the individual’s mind and
conditions-the individual’s action. Zaratrushtra in his second sermon
In the beginning there were two spirits, Twins
These were the Good and the Evil, in thought,
and in word, and in mind,
Between these two, let the wise choose aright;
Be Good not base.
(Gathas. Yasna 30-3)
Thus Evil is created by human’s choice and not
by Ahura Mazda. Ahriman or Satan is not Ahura Mazda’s creation.
Zoroastrianism offers the most logical solution for theodicy and existence
of Ahriman without undermining the omnipotence and justice of God
Zoroastrianism is the first religion that
spoke about two worlds or two kind of existence: celestial or mental (Manahya)
and terrestrial or material (Gaethya). The idea of life after death, or
an individual entering the second existence has had a profound impact on
other religions. The notion of final triumph of good over evil is also
authored by Zarathushtra. This gives a purpose to creation and instills
hope in human being.
Zoroastrianism is a universal, a reflective,
and a practical religion. Every body can by practice of Good thought, Good
word and Good deed (Humat, Hukht, Huvarsht) be a Zarathushti and join the
Ashavan or Good People. Zarathushtra recommends that all good people must
unite and become HAMAZOOR and work for the happiness of everybody else by
consulting Vohu Mana (Good Mind), treading the path of Asha (Truth), use
the Xshatra (Constructive and Right-minded power), and work for Armaity
(Peace) to achieve
Haurvatat (Perfection) and reach Ameratat
Happiness be the lot of him/her who works for
the happiness of others,
May the Lord grant him health and endurance.
For the effort to uphold Truth, I beseech these
Very gifts from Thee!
Mayest Thou, through Armaity, the Spirit of
Bless me with the perfection of a life guided by
The Good Mind.
This article first appeared in HAMZOR issue 3, 2003 (Special edition
of the UNESCO declared 3000 anniversary of Zoroastrian culture)
Translation of Gathas reproduced from “The Gathas: The Hymn of
Zarathushtra” by Dinshah J Irani edited by K.D.Irani