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The Teachings of Zoroaster
The Philosophy of the Parsi Religion
Wisdom of the East
The Teachings of Zoroaster and the Philosophy of the Parsi Religion
By S. A. Kapadia
Zoroastrianism is an ancient semi-dualistic monotheist religion of Greater Iran. Much like the Roman religion for Rome, it was adopted in differing forms as the generally inclusive overarching state religion of the Achaemenid Empire and subsequent Parthian and Sasanian (or Sassanid) empires, lending it immense prestige in ancient times. As a result, many aspects of Zoroastrianism, including leading characteristics like messianism, either influenced or were inherited by contemporary and later religious systems, including Second Temple Judaism, Gnosticism, Christianity, and Islam. Zoroastrianism was gradually marginalized or otherwise absorbed by Islam from the 7th century onwards with the decline of the Sasanian Empire. Recent estimates place the current number of Zoroastrians at around 2.6 million, most live in India and Iran.
The religious philosophy of Zoroaster divided the early Iranian gods. The most important texts of the religion are those of the Avesta. In Zoroastrianism, the multifacted 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 Akem Manah ("evil thinking"). Zoroastrianism 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.