What World Religions Teach

By E. G. Parrinder | Go to book overview

Chapter 13
ZOROASTER AND THE GOOD LIFE

From the religions of India and the Far East, we turn to the Middle or Near East and the West. Persia forms a link between the Indian and Semitic streams of religious thought, and since some of its developed ideas influenced the Bible and the Quran it is usefully grouped with them. All the religions now to be considered are monotheistic--that is, believing in one God.


ANCIENT PERSIAN RELIGION

Persia (Iran) is a fascinating country in which many currents of religious belief have flowed: Aryan, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, and the mysticism of the Sufis. The most characteristic of these, founded by the prophet Zoroaster, was for long the State religion. But after the coming of Islam the remnant of the Zoroastrians migrated to India, where they are still found and are called Parsis (sometimes written Parsecs, and meaning Persians).

The ancient religion of Persia was similar to that of the Aryan Indians. They come from the same stock, and the Persians call their country Iran or Aryan. In speaking of Hinduism it was seen that the Rig Veda called the gods deva, and in Persia these were daeva, though they degenerated to the rank of demons. The Indian gods Mitra, Vayu, and Yama are the counterparts of the Persian Mithra, Vata, and Yima. In Persian worship the fire sacrifice was prominent (like the Indian Agni), and Parsi temples are still called 'fire-temples,' because of the sacred flame that ever burns there. A sacred drink (haoma, like Indian soma) was offered and consumed by the priests.

Among many gods Ahura Mazda, ' Lord Wisdom,' 'the

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