The Zarathushtrian Religion
The Zarathushtrian Religion
by Ali A. Jafarey
Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds
Zoroaster’ s complete name is Zarathushtra Haechataspa Spitama. “Zoroaster” is the most current of various Greek forms of his first name. He was born around 1767 BCE (3771 years ago) in what was once northeastern Iran and is now called Central Asia.
Zarathushtra was an inquisitive boy. He kept on asking questions concerning the world and its creator. Answers by the priests of the ancient polytheistic cult could not satisfy him. Disappointed, he turned to himself and the thought-provoking nature around him. His search and research enlightened him, and led him to God with Whom he communed. He was 30 years old when he proclaimed his Divine Mission and began preaching the new message to humanity. He began with his relatives and compatriots. He had little success in the face of the mounting opposition by the princes and priests of the old cult of magic and superstition. They were thriving on the ignorance of the people and his enlightening Message posed a grave danger to their vested interests. He then went to the court of the powerful and prudent King Vishtaspa in eastern Iran. He won him over after two years of deliberations with the wise men of the court.
With the royal house of King Vishtaspa and faithful intellectuals zealously working for the cause, the new religion spread fast, and by the 6th century BCE, it was the religion of the rulers of the world’s first multinational empire–the Achaemenian empire, spread from India to Libya, and Central Asia to the Indian Ocean. It was an unprecedented unequalled benevolent and tolerant rule for all the races and religions in the vast region. The Achaemenian Empire ended with the Macedonian/Greek supremacy for some 80 years, and was followed by the Zoroastrian Parthians and Sassanians down to the 7th century CE. The Sassanian Empire was ended with the Muslim conquest of the lands. The zealous conquerors forced the population into submission to Islam or face dire consequences. Since then, the Zoroastrians, once the tolerant majority in the civilized world, have dwindled to less than 200,000 souls. There are some 20,000 of them in North America.
However, a new movement has begun to spread the Divine Message once again on universal basis, and it is attracting worldwide attention among intellectuals, especially those on the crossroads of unquestioned faith and modern science. The Zarathushtrian Assembly is the vanguard. The future looks beautifully bright in an enlightening world.
THE ZARATHUSHTRIAN RELIGION
Some salient points of “Good Conscience,” the rational religion founded and propagated by Zarathushtra, more than 3700 years ago and preserved in the Gathas, his thought-provoking sublime songs, to guide humanity to perfection and eternity through the triple Principle of GOOD THOUGHTS, GOOD WORDS, and GOOD DEEDS:
Monotheism: There is only one God, God of Subtle Wisdom, Ahura Mazda, continuous creator, sustainer, and promoter of cosmos.
Primal Principles of Existence: The divine enlightenment (Seraosha) reveals many divine faculties, which lead to the understanding of the principles that form the cosmos, an orderly universe. The most important are Spenta Mainyu, progressive mentality, the divine faculty that creates, maintains, and promotes; Asha, righteousness, the universal law that precisely regulates every move in the cosmos; Vohu Manah, the wisdom behind every righteous move; Vohu Khshathra, good rule and the benevolent power that keeps good order in the universe; Âramaiti, serenity and tranquility acquired under a good rule and required to promote the cosmos; Haurvatât, entirety, wholeness and perfection achieved under tranquil conditions; and Ameretât, immortality and eternity attained through wholeness.
The universe has been created good. It is orderly progressing towards completion as intended by its Creator, Ahura Mazda.
Freedom of Choice: Mankind has been endowed with the freedom of thought, word and deed, and has a bright mind to discern between what is good and what is bad for human society.
Good and Evil: Human being has two mentalities — “spenta mainyu,” progressive mentality, and “angra mainyu,” retarding mentality. The progressive mentality helps him/her to improve him/herself and the world around. The retarding mentality harms him/her and the world. The wise would, therefore, choose and promote the better mentality. Good and Evil or Right and Wrong are human behavior. It begins in mind and ends in words and deeds.
Responsibility: Mankind is its own savior. Each person is responsible for his/her thoughts, words and deeds. There is no outside evil force or spirit to mislead humanity to evil thoughts, words and deeds. Guided by a discerning “good mind” and “good conscience,” he/she should responsibly and selflessly work for the betterment of self and fellow human beings and living the world.
Self-Correction: If a person does not choose correctly, his world continues to be chaotic, and he suffers the consequences until he adopts these divine principles. Sooner or later humanity will correct itself and attain perfection and eternal life.
Winning the Wrongful: The human world on this earth is evidently divided into two camps — the righteous and the wrongful. The objective of the righteous should be to win over the wrongful into the righteous camp and thus establish a good life for all.
Environment: What is good can best be understood by studying nature, advancing knowledge, harmonizing with all that is good and beneficial, and promoting the environment — our human society and the rest of the living world.
Creativity: Mankind may, if it chooses, develop all the above divine faculties and become creative, in fact the renovator, maintainer and promoter of its endowed environment, and become spiritually perfect and eternally godlike.
Universality: The religion of Good Conscience, the Gathic name for the Zarathushtrian religion, is universal and for all. Caste, color, race, and nationality do not play any discriminatory part in the universal message of Zarathushtra.
Equality: Men and women are equal and enjoy the same rights in a free and responsible society. Superiority lies in righteous deeds alone.
Society: The smallest unit of the humanity society is the family and the largest unit the entire human world. All the units–home, town, state, country, and world–should be united and bound together by love and wisdom.
Intellectuality: Every person should acquire and promote wisdom. Human society should be an intellectual society consisting of selfless, devoted members. The prime object of every person should be to make a better world in mind and body. Human society must progress. Every member must persevere to promote it. All superstitious beliefs and irrational ideas and practices should be given up and replaced with wisdom and reason.
Democracy: Free human society should select only fully qualified persons of righteous records and merits for both temporal and spiritual offices in a true democratic environment, and thus establish the cherished and chosen ruling system.
Modernity: The Good Religion is a “SELF-RENOVATING” religion. Its continuous progress with the advancing world makes it ever-fresh and ever-modern. Modernization of thoughts, words and deeds, including traditional practices and rites, should be the order of the day.
Spreading Happiness: Enlightenment and happiness come to the person who gives happiness to others without discrimination whatsoever. An enlightened and happy life is what every person needs to achieve and spread.
Divine Communication: Prayers help a person to communicate with God. They are invigorating, guiding, and satisfying. They help to experience the divine love. They help to understand the universe. They help to comprehend the Salient Points of Progress to Perfection. They help to realize our responsibilities. One may pray whenever, wherever, and in whatever state one feels the urge to communicate with God. One may do it alone or in the company of others. Prayers may be said in silent meditation, in a few words, in long lines, in prose or poetry, recited loud and sweetly. They may be said plainly or with simple rituals that would help the person feel elevated in his/her inspirational experience.
Ali A. Jafarey
The Zarathushtrian Assemby