Zoroastrianism in India
Monday 23 November 2009
ZOROASTRIANISM IN INDIA
A small religious community, which exists mostly in Mumbai, is Zoroastrianism. The follower is called Parsi because the religion arrived in India from Persia. This religion was established by Zarathustra in 6th or 7th century BC. The followers of this religion exiled from Iran in the 7th century AD. because of religious persecutions by the Muslims. They arrived in Gujarat region of India.
The Parsis believe in the existence of one invisible God. They believe that there is a continuous war between the good forces (forces of light) and the evil forces (forces of darkness). The good forces will win if people will do good deeds think good and speak well. God is represented in their temples through fire, which symbolizes light. The holiest place for them is the village of Udvada in Gujarat, India. The holy language of the Parsis is an ancient language spoken in Iran, Avesta. The Parsis believe that fire, water, air and earth are pure element to be preserved and therefore they do not cremate or bury their dead ones but leave them on high towers, specially built for this purpose, to be eaten by hawks and crows.
Their Bible is the Zend Avesta
The Parsis are less then 0.02% of India’s population but their contribution to India is much more than their proportion in India’s population. Some Parsis were main figures in establishing the Indian Nationalist movement. They were the pioneers in establishing the modern Indian industry. The rich Parsi families contributed enormously to establish institutions of all kinds in India. Even today some of the bigger finance houses in India belong to followers of this religion.
- Faravahar, symbol of Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is the religion and philosophy based on the teachings ascribed to the prophet Zoroaster, after whom the religion is named. The term ’Zoroastrianism’ is in general usage essentially synonymous with Mazdaism, i.e. the worship of Ahura Mazda, exalted by Zoroaster as the supreme divine authority.
What is Zoroastrianism ?
There is one universal and transcendental God, Ahura Mazda, the one Uncreated Creator to whom all worship is ultimately directed.
Ahura Mazda’s creation — evident as asha, truth and order — is the antithesis of chaos, evident as druj, falsehood and disorder. The resulting conflict involves the entire universe, including humanity, which has an active role to play in the conflict.
Active participation in life through good thoughts, good words and good deeds is necessary to ensure happiness and to keep the chaos at bay. This active participation is a central element in Zoroaster’s concept of free will, and Zoroastrianism rejects all forms of monasticism.
Ahura Mazda will ultimately prevail, at which point the universe will undergo a cosmic renovation and time will end (cf: Zoroastrian eschatology). In the final renovation, all of creation — even the souls of the dead that were initially banished to "darkness" — will be reunited in Ahura Mazda. At the end of time a savior-figure [a Saoshyant] will bring about a final renovation of the world, and in which the dead will be revived.
There will then be a final purgation of evil from the Earth (through a tidal wave of molten metal) and a purgation of evil from the heavens (through a cosmic battle of spiritual forces). In the end good will triumph, and each person will find himself or herself transformed into a spiritualized body and soul. Those who died as adults will be transformed into healthy adults of forty years of age, and those who died young will find themselves permanently youthful, about age fifteen. In these new spiritual bodies, humans will live without food, without hunger or thirst, and without weapons (or possibility of bodily injury). The material substance of the bodies will be so light as to cast no shadow. All humanity will speak a single language and belong to a single nation without borders. All will experience immortality (Ameretat) and will share a single purpose and goal, joining with the divine for a perpetual exaltation of God’s glory.
In Zoroastrian tradition the malevolent is represented by Angra Mainyu, the "Destructive Principle", while the benevolent is represented through Ahura Mazda’s Spenta Mainyu, the instrument or "Bounteous Principle" of the act of creation. It is through Spenta Mainyu that transcendental Ahura Mazda is immanent in humankind, and through which the Creator interacts with the world. According to Zoroastrian cosmology, in articulating the Ahuna Vairya formula Ahura Mazda made His ultimate triumph evident to Angra Mainyu.
As expressions and aspects of Creation, Ahura Mazda emanated seven "sparks", the Amesha Spentas ("Bounteous Immortals"), that are each the hypostasis and representative of one aspect of that Creation. These Amesha Spenta are in turn assisted by a league of lesser principles, the Yazatas, each "Worthy of Worship" and each again a hypostasis of a moral or physical aspect of creation.
Zoroastrianism was once the dominant religion of much of Greater Iran, and was a formative influence on that region’s history and traditions. The religion was marginalized following the Islamic conquests of the mid-7th century, after which the number of adherents dwindled significantly, and there are less than 20,000 Zoroastrians left in that region today. Today, the largest indigenous population of Zoroastrians is in India, where they number about 70,000. Eight of the nine principal religious centers are located on the west coast of that country (the ninth is in central Iran).