WOrld civ Essay

Submitted By Sshelton33
Words: 3103
Pages: 13

World Civ
Samantha Shelton
Zoroastrianism, also called Zarathustraism, Mazdaism and Magianism, is an ancient monotheistic Iranian religion and a religious philosophy. It was once the state religion of the Achaemenid, Parthian, and Sasanian empires. Estimates of the current number of Zoroastrians worldwide vary between approximately 145,000 circa 2000 and 2.6 million in more recent estimates. The change over the last decade is attributed to a greater level of reporting and open self-identification more so than to an actual increase in population; however, precise numbers remain difficult to obtain in part due to high levels of historic persecution in Middle Eastern regions. Zoroastrianism arose in the eastern region of the ancient Persian Empire, when the religious philosopher Zoroaster simplified the pantheon of early Iranian gods into two opposing forces: Spenta Mainyu and Angra Mainyu under the one God, Ahura Mazda. Zoroaster's ideas led to a formal religion bearing his name by about the 6th century BCE and have influenced other later religions including Judaism, Gnosticism, Christianity and Islam. In Zoroastrianism, the creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil originates from him. Thus, in Zoroastrianism good and evil have distinct sources, with evil trying to destroy the creation of Mazda, and good trying to sustain it. While Ahura Mazda is not immanent in the world, his creation is represented by the Amesha Spentas and the host of other Yazatas, through whom the works of God are evident to humanity, and through whom worship of Mazda is ultimately directed. The most important texts of the religion are those of the Avesta, of which a significant portion has been lost, and mostly only the liturgies of which have survived. The lost portions are known of only through references and brief quotations in the later works, primarily from the 9th to 11th centuries. In some form, it served as the national or state religion of a significant portion of the Iranian people for many centuries. It was gradually marginalized by Islam from the 7th century onwards with the decline of the Sassanid Empire. The political power of the pre-Islamic Iranian dynasties lent Zoroastrianism immense prestige in ancient times, and some of its leading doctrines were adopted by other religious systems. It has no major theological divisions, but it is not uniform. Modern-era influences have a significant impact on individual and local beliefs, practices, values and vocabulary, sometimes merging with tradition and in other cases displacing it. The Oxford English Dictionary records 1743 as the earliest reference to Zoroaster. However, his image is identified in Raphael's "School of Athens" by Giorgio Vasari in 1550, so knowledge of his philosophy had evidently percolated into the Italian Renaissance. Zoroastrians believe that there is one universal, transcendent, supreme god, Ahura Mazda, or the "Wise Lord". . Zoroaster keeps the two attributes separate as two different concepts in most of the Gathas and also consciously uses a masculine word for one concept and a feminine for the other, as if to distract from an anthropomorphism of his divinity. Some Zoroastrians claim Ahura Mazda as the uncreated Creator to whom all worship is ultimately directed, thereby formulating a panentheistic faith with a transcendent divinity, widely believed to have influenced the theology of Isma'ilism. Other scholars assert that since Zoroastrianism's divinity covers both being and mind as immanent entities, it is better described as a belief in an immanent self-creating universe with consciousness as its special attribute, thereby putting Zoroastranism in the pantheistic fold where it can be easily traced to its shared origin with Indian Brahmanism. In any case, Ahura Mazda's creation—evident is widely agreed as asha, truth and order—is the antithesis of chaos, which is evident as druj, falsehood and disorder. The…