Around 3700 years ago, in the plains of Central Asia, a man
arose by the name of
Zarathushtra Spitaman. His father was Pourushaspa, which means "full
of horses", indicating that he was a horse breeder or rancher, while his
mother's name was Dughdhova, which means "milk maid", so likely
Zarathushtra was from a cattle and horse breeding family, which places him in
the upper middle class of his time. Not much is known about his youth, except
that he was very curious and wanted to find out about things. He spend long
times outdoors, contemplating about nature and the questions of life, by which
he got visions that made him aware of the existence of a Supreme Being, an all
Wise and Good (genderless) God, who urges Mankind to preserve His/Hers Creation
and to bring it into perfection. Zarathushtra encountered many difficulties and
challenges imposed on him through the opposition of the established priests and
local ruling princes. Eventually he and his followers had to leave their homeland
for other lands. Finally, at the age of 42, Zarathushtra reached the court of
King Vishtaspa and managed to get an audience with the king. During this encounter,
many of the leading priests and wise men were present, to quiz Zarathushtra and
test his new philosophy. Zarathushtra could answer all questions to the satisfaction
of the King, who after a few days of pondering the situation, embraced this new
religion and urged his subjects to do the same. This was the major breakthrough
propagation of his message to mankind, which is so simple, that it is contained
in a small book of 17 songs called "The Gathas of Zarathushtra". In
the Gathas, Zarathushtra did not claim to have received inspiration from God,
but to have both 'realized' and 'seen' God and His/Her Qualities in observing
Nature and the world around, rather than having it 'revealed' to him like to
a prophet - he was a seer, a thought-provoking messenger. Zarathushtra lived
a healthy life to old age. According to later tradition, Zarathushtra passed
away of natural causes, at the age of 77.
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Around 3700 years ago, in the plains of Central Asia, God called upon a man to
proclaim His "Manthra" (thought-provoking message) to humanity. This man was Zarathushtra
Spitaman. He was The "Manthran" -
the harbinger of God's thought-provoking message.
The world will forever be indebted to this unique thinker,
for his message to Mankind and the spiritual faith that he founded (rather than a
religion), has influenced all later religions. This man and the teachings
he gave Humanity, is a FIRST in many ways.
LIFE AND TIMES
The life of Zarathushtra has been shrouded under a cloud
in History. To this date there are controversies regarding his name, his date
of birth, his birthplace and his life. Tradition tells us that Zarathushtra was
born into the Spitama clan. His father was Pourushaspa.
The literal translation of that name means "full of horses" which
leads us to believe that he was a horse breeder or rancher. His mother's name
was Dughdhova, which translates as a "milk maid". This is another important clue
that adds to the evidence Zarathushtra was from a cattle and horse breeding family,
which in that economy would have made them upper middle class. Many myths and
legends have been handed down about his birth and life, but cannot be vouched
for with any degree of authenticity or certainty. However, the fact that Aryan priesthood was hereditary, and also the fact that in the culture described in the Gathas, such things as nobility and Kings, were unknown (Kavi, although cognate to king, was in meaning the nature of chief).
Read more about Zarathushstra's
life and livings in the e-book.
Zarathushtra is believed to have lived at a time when the
world was emerging from the prehistoric Stone Age. However, varied views have
been presented regarding the birth date of Zarathushtra. Starting with 100 AD,
they date all the way back to 6800 BC! The priests of the Sassanian dynasty placed
him to have been born a mere 100 or so years before Cyrus, the king of the Achaemenian
dynasty. However Greek historians have placed him in a much older era. Early
western scholars of the Avesta (the scripture of the Zoroastrians) placed
him much closer to the present.
James Darmesteter even theorized that Zarathushtra lived
after Christ and that he has plagiarized the Bible, because much of the Iranian
doctrine was like the Christian one! Scholars like Anquetil du Perron, Herzfeld,
Henning and West placed Zarathushtra in 600 BC, or 700 BC. Others like Bartholomaw
and Widengren went back to 900 BC, while Rudolph and Jackson placed him at 1000
BC. Mills at first dated him to 900 BC and later to 1500 BC. Pour Davoud, Hummel
and Haug have given a date around 1100 BC. The Bundahishn, a Pahlavi book, dates
Zarathushtra as 258 years before Alexander's conquest of Persia, or 588 BC.
This date has been identified as the "traditional" date.
Persian historians Birouni and But and many other authors, have rejected this
date and we have Azarghoshasb placing Zarathushtra at 3500 BC, Kavasji and Bharucha
at 4000-6000 BC and Katrak at 6600 BC. More scholars have presented Zarathushtra
as follows from archeological evidences, but for a more complete number of references
the reader is invited to acquire "Zoroastrian Doctrine and Biblical Connections" by
1. In 1984, Asgarov in the Ozbakistan's (In the old
USSR) excavations, uncovered ruins of a Zoroastrian temple estimated to belong
to around 2000 BC.
2. Lommel and Meyer note that in one of the inscriptions
of Sargon, the Assyrian King, dated 714 BC, allusion has been made to Mazdaku,
a Median ruler. This name could be translated as "belonging to Mazda", which
according to them could only mean that the Mede upper classes were Zarathushtrian,
probably centuries before that. But these are only some of the historical and
archeological indications of a very ancient date for Zarathushtra.
The great scholar James H. Moulton presented a theory, based
on archeological data that pointed to the split of the Aryans into two migratory
groups around 2000 BC. One of these went into modern day Iran and the other into
India and Afghanistan. Since there was a reversal in the role of divinities between
Iran and India, where daevas became gods and asuras (Iranian ahuras) became demons,
while in Iran the opposite happened, Moulton theorized that the division came
about as a result of Zarathushtra´s teaching against the daevas. But the
main testimony, for a very ancient date for the Iranian Manthran is linguistical.
The RigVedas and the Gathas are contemporary and their language
is extremely close. There are certain persons (which were seen as being alive at the time of both the Rig and the Gathas) that appear in both. Since the
earliest RigVedas have been dated to before 1500 BC, we are now certain that
Zarathushtra lived at least at that time and probably centuries before, because
the RigVedas were sung many years before they were put into writing. The importance
of Zarathushtra's date will become evident when we study the influences this
ancient Persian religion had on both Eastern and Western religions.
THE MESSAGE OF ZARATHUSTRA
Historically, Zarathushtra was the founder of the first religion
on record, although it now seems that a Semi-Monotheism might have existed
in China, as long ago as, 4 to 5000 BC.E. He was the first to preach Monotheism.
He was the first to proclaim a message for ALL mortals - a universal message.
He was the first to preach equality of all regardless of race, gender, class
or nationality. At a time when mankind was barely out of the Stone Age, when
might was right, he proclaimed that a leader must be "chosen" thereby for the
very first time in History, sowing the seeds of democracy!
Zarathushtra was also the first of the historical Universal
Saviors/Benefactors, the First who 'saw' or predicted 'coming Saviors' from 'the
lands', i.e not Iranians. In fact he is the historical era founder (although
we can assume there were prior pre-historical Saviors/Benefactors) of the Divine
Teaching, Daena, which he called, Daenam Saoshyantem, or the Teaching of the
Saviors/Benefactors, also him referring to as the Path of Loving
Good Thinking (Vohumana) and the Loving Good Teaching. (Daena Vanguhi)
Zarathushtra does not, in the Gathas, claim to have
received inspiration from God. Rather in Song 2, which is an allegorical play
that was probably performed around the
supposed date of Zarathushtra's birthday (much like the Christian 'pasion plays'),
he is pictured as having 'understood' the Divine Message. In other Songs,
he himself claims to have both 'realized' and 'seen' God and His/Her Qualities
or Graces, from which, and from other comments, we can conclude that Zarathushtra
'discovered' God and Her/His message, rather than having it 'revealed' to him.
He did this by studying nature and then receiving an "insight'
on the nature of the Creator and His/Her plan or message,
a God he called Mazda Ahura, the Wise God.
Zarathushtra's sublime message to mankind
is so simple that it is contained in a small book of 17 songs called "The
Gathas of Zarathushtra". The word "Gatha" means songs or hymns. In them
he is called Thought Provoker, Seer, Guide, True Invoker and even Savior, but
never is he deified in any way. Yet this
small book contains many profound and unique truths and to comprehend which it,
is important to understand certain Gathic concepts.
- Spenta Mainyu: Zarathushtra sees the world as creation of a Divinity, whom
he calls Mazda Ahura (dealt with in detail later), that He created with his
Spenishta Mainyu = Most Creative and Prospering Mind.To understand this concept
of "Spenta", one needs to understand Creative
and Prospering. 'Progressive', in the sense of incremental, augmenting, evolving,
growing, uplifting and edifying. The word "Mainyu" has
been translated by Western scholars as "Spirit". However, linguistically it has
no association with the spirit in the western sense. The opposite of this Creative
and Prospering Mind, is Aka Mainyu, the Deluded Mind.
- Asha: In Zarathushtra's theology, Asha is the Ordering Principle of Creation.
In the physical world Asha is what can be defined as an amalgam of laws that
uphold the Cosmos. In other words, it is The True and Right Order (of things).
- Vohu Manah: According to Zarathushtra, human beings are endowed with Vohu
Manah (Loving Good Mind.), which enables them to comprehend Asha, and make the
right choices that make the living world progress towards Asha.
- Spenta Aramaiti: This concept has been translated differently by various
scholars. Some translate it as 'Creative Serenity', some as 'Right-mindedness',
some as 'Piet', some as 'Devotion' and some as'Benevolence'. Perhaps there is
no one English word that can describe it. But it is generally agreed, that it
is that inherent quality in human beings, that spurs them to translate good thinking
into actions that are in accord with Asha.
- Vohu Kshahthra Vairyo: This is The Kingdom of Loving Good Choice.
In our world it may be translated as the ideal social order, which Man must strive
for, by making Asha like choices. In terms of human spirituality, it is allowing
the Reign of God's Qualities over our minds, spirits and will. It's a free choice,
done in realization of God's Absolute Total Goodness and Her/His Omniscience.
In Other words. S/He is not only All Good, but S/He KNOWS, while we have to
learn things and lack knowledge.
- Haurvatat: It is that state of perfection, on this Corporeal Plane,
and in the Spiritual one, that God wishes Mankind to achieve.
- Ameretat: A state of immortality; non-deathness is referred to in
the Gathas as Ameretat. (These concepts, as well as some others, will be dealt
with in detail later).
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