February 6th, 2010 20:08 EST
Mainstream Religion of Zoroastrianism and Its Influence on Later Religions
Mainstream Religion a Unifying Thread: Part VI Zoroastrianism
Thank you for recognizing the mainstream religion of Zoroastrianism and its influence on later religions, such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam. One correction I would like to offer is that the religion was founded by Prophet Zarathushtra NOT in the first century B.C. as you have mentioned, but according to various western scholars somewhere around 1700 B.C. or even as early as 2500 B.C. based on the descriptions in the Gathas (Poetic songs containing the first person teachings of the Prophet himself).
The ancient Greek philosophers who used to study Prophet Zarathushtra`s teachings pronounced his name like Zoroaster, hence the anglicized name of Zoroaster and Zoroastrianism. It is said that when Alexander conquered Persia, a copy of the religious texts kept in the royal library of Persepolis (capital of the Achaemenian empire founded by Cyrus the Great whose clay cylinder with the oldest human rights declaration is in the British Museum and a copy of it in the United Nations building) were taken to Greece. The name Zarathushtra means "Golden Light" symbolizing the spiritual illumination he received from Ahuramazda (Wise Creator) and revealed to the world.
When the Zarathushti (Zoroastrian) emporer Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon, he liberated the Jews from slavery and pledged money for their return to their homeland and for rebuilding of their destroyed temple there. The Old Testament Bible recognizes Cyrus (Kurush) the Great as a Saviour ("Anointed One of the Lord") of the Jews. Many Jews remained in the Persian empire as free men, and their religious beliefs are said to have been influenced by the teachings of Zarathushtra. Their holy book Talmud is said to have been written by the Jewish Rabbi while he was living in Persia.
In our tradition it is written that the close advisor and friend of Prophet Mohammed was a Zarathushti (Zoroastrian) priest named Dastur Dinyar, who is known by Muslims as Salman-e-Farsi (Salman the Persian). Just as Prophet Mohammed learned about Judaism and Christianity from meetings with people, he also learned about the teachings of Prophet Zarathushtra from this friend and advisor, before he revealed his own religion that was adapted for the culture of the tribes of Arabia Many concepts taught in Zarathushtra`s religion including washing of exposed parts of the body before prayer to God and five times a day prayer to God were adopted in Islam.
The religion of Prophet Zarathushtra was the majority religion of several Persian empires for over a thousand years until the Arab invasion and forced conversions to Islam. A group of Zarathushtis (Zoroastrians) sailed to the west coast of India and settled there in a Hindu kingdom where they were allowed to freely practice their ancient montheistic religion
Sincerely, Maneck Bhujwala Co-founder, Zoroastrian Association of California (Southern California) Co-founder, Zarathoshti Anjuman of N.California (Zoroastrian Association of Northern California)