Adherents of Zoroastrianism use three distinct versions of traditional calendars for liturgical purposes, all derived from medieval Iranian calendars based on the Babylonian calendar as used in the Achaemenid empire. "Qadimi" is a traditional reckoning introduced in 1006. "Shahanshahi" is a calendar. "Fasli" is a term for a 1906 adaptation of the 11th-century Jalali calendar, following a proposal by Kharshedji Rustomji Cama made in the 1860s. A number of Calendar eras are in use: A tradition of counting years from the birth of Zoroaster was reported from India in the 19th century. There was a dispute between factions variously preferring an era of 389 BCE, 538 BCE or 637 BCE; the "Yazdegerdi era" counts from the accession of the last Sassanid ruler, Yazdegerd III. This convention was proposed by Cama in the 1860s but has since been used in conjunctions with "Qadimi" or "Shahanshahi" reckoning. An alternative "Magian era" was set at the date of Yazdegerd's death, in 652. "Z. E. R." or "Zarathushtrian Religious Era" is a convention introduced in 1990 by the "Zarathushtrian Assembly of California", set at vernal equinox of 1737 BCE.
The Babylonian calendar was used in the Achaemenid Empire by the 4th century BCE for civil purposes. The earliest Zoroastrian calendar follows the Babylonian in relating the seventh and other days of the month to Ahura Mazda. Like all ancient calendar, the Babylonian calendar was lunisolar, it used an intercalary month once every six years. In the civil calendar, intercalations did not always follow a regular pattern, but during the reign of Artaxerxes II astronomers utilised a 19 year cycle which required the addition of a month called Addaru II in years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14 and 19, the month Ululu II in year 17 of the cycle; the first known intercalation is recorded for 309 BCE. The first month of the year was called Frawardin, the first day of Frawardin was the'New Year's Day' or Nawruz, from which all other religious observances were reckoned – this day being, in theory, the day of the northern vernal equinox. A 365 day calendar, with months identical to the Egyptian calendar, was introduced shortly after the conquest of Egypt by the Achaemenid ruler Cambyses.
Scholars are divided on whether this 365 day calendar was in fact preceded by a 360 day calendar of Zoroastrian observances. Following Alexander's conquest of Persia in 330 BCE, the Seleucids instituted the Hellenic practice of counting years from the start of a fixed era, as opposed using regnal years; the regnal era of Alexander is now referred to as the Seleucid era. The Parthians, who succeeded the Seleucids, continued the Seleucid/Hellenic tradition. In 224 CE, when the Babylonian calendar was replaced by the Zoroastrian, 1 Frawardin and the New Year celebration of Nawruz had drifted to 1 October; the older custom of counting regnal years from the monarch's coronation was reinstated. At this point the calendar was realigned with the seasons by delaying the epagemonai by eight months and adjusting the dates of the gahanbar accordingly; this caused confusion, since the new year now fell five days earlier than before, some people continued to observe the old date. After 46 years, with 1 Frawardin now on 19 September, another calendar reform was implemented by Ardashir's grandson Hormazd I.
During the first years after implementation of the new Gatha days, the population had not universally adopted the new dates for religious festivals, resulting in "official" celebrations takings place five days earlier than popular celebrations. In years the population had observed the Gatha days, but the original five day discrepancy persisted. Hormazd's reform was to link the popular and official observance dates to form continual six-day feasts. Nawruz was an exception: the first and the sixth days of the month were celebrated as different occasions. Lesser Nawruz was observed on 1 Frawardin. 6 Frawardin became a day of special festivity. Around the 10th century CE, the Greater Nawruz was associated with the return of the legendary king, Jamsed. Mary Boyce has argued that sometime between 399 CE and 518 CE the six-day festivals were compressed to five days; the major feasts, or gahambars, of contemporary Zoroastrian practice, are still kept as five-day observances today. The Bundahishn, a pseudo-Avestan treatise written in the early Islamic period replaces the "Age of Alexander" with an "Ageo of Zoroaster", placed "258 years before Alexander".
By the reign of Yazdegird III, the religious celebrations were again somewhat adrift with respect to their proper seasons. The calendar had continued to slip against the Julian calendar since the previous reform at the rate of one day every four years. Therefore, in 632, the new year was celebrated on 16 June. By the 9th century, the Zoroastrian theologian Zadspram had noted that the state of affairs was less than optimal, estimated that at the time of Final Judgement the two systems would be out of sync by four years; the current mainstream Zoroastrian reckoning of years’ start date is on 16 June 632 CE. Yazdegird III was the last monarch of the Sasanian dynasty, since the custom at that time was to count regnal years since the monarch ascended the throne, the reckoning of years was continued, in the absence of a Zoroastrian monarch, under Islamic rule. Zo
Zoroastrians in Iran
Zoroastrians are the oldest religious community of Iran. Prior to the Muslim conquest of Persia, Zoroastrianism was the primary religion of the nation, it originated from the pre-Zoroastrian Religion of Iranic paganism. According to the country's official census, there were 25,271 Zoroastrians within the country as of 2011. There are no written records from Zarathushtra's time; the earliest surviving written references to Zarathushtra are those of Greek writers from 1000 BC. Prophet Zoroaster and his first followers were Iranians that lived between the Bronze Age and Iron Age; the term "Prophet" is of Western origin and is an inexact description of Zarathushtra, more appropriately designated "Khordad," a term for that unique mortal who achieved spiritual perfection within his lifetime. The name "Za-rath-ush-tra" translates to a Divine Chariot that brought heavenly Light-Knowledge; the time of the Iranian peoples' migration to Iran can be estimated through Assyrian records. Herodotus recalled one of the Mede tribes to be called "Magoi", better known as "Magis", a tribe known to have included many priests, who served both Medes and Persians.
By the time of the Median empire, Zoroastrianism is known to have been well established in both the Pars region as well as in the Eastern regions. Persians led by Cyrus the Great soon established the second Iranian dynasty, the first Persian empire by defeating the Medes dynasty in 549 BC; as Persians expanded their empire, Zoroastrianism was introduced to Greek historians such as Hermodorus, Xanthos and Aristotle. However, it is clear that by the time of Darius the Great, the empire was in favour of Zoroastrianism. Darius declares in one of his inscriptions that: "A great God is Ahuramazda, who created this earth, who created yonder sky, who created man, who created happiness for man, who made Darius king, one king over many, one lord over many" Persepolis was one of the four capitals of the Achaemenid empire, built by Darius the Great and his son Xerxes, it was the trading capital of the Near East. One of the main functions of Persepolis was to serve as the host of the ancient Zoroastrian festival, Norouz.
Therefore, every year representatives from each country under the rule of Persia would bring gifts to Persepolis to show their loyalty to the king and the empire. The Sassanid dynasty was the first Persian empire which declared Zoroastrianism as the state religion and promoted the religion more than ever, it is believed that Avesta was first put together at this time. During the period of their centuries long suzerainty over the Caucasus, the Sassanids made attempts to promote Zoroastrianism there with considerable successes, it was prominent in the pre-Christian Caucasus. Due to its ties to the Christian Roman Empire, Persia's arch-rival since Parthian times, the Sassanids were suspicious of Roman Christianity, after the reign Constantine the Great sometimes persecuted it; the Sassanid authority clashed with their Armenian subjects in the Battle of Avarayr, making them break with the Roman Church. But the Sassanids tolerated or sometimes favored the Christianity of the Nestorian Church of Persia.
The acceptance of Christianity in Georgia saw the Zoroastrian religion there but decline, but as late the 5th century AD it was still practised as something like a second established religion. Manichaeism The prophet Mani was an Iranian of noble Parthian roots who established Manichaeism which contained many elements of Zoroastrianism as well as Gnosticism, however it saw the experience of life on earth by humans as miserable, a contrast to the Zoroastrian view, to celebrate life through happiness. Mani was received kindly by king Shapur I and spent many years at his court where he was protected during all of Shabuhr's reign; however Mani wrote in a semitic language, all his work had to be translated into Middle Persian by his followers, who rendered the name of Mani's supreme god as Zurvan and called him the father of Ohrmazd. Although the origins of Zurvanite Zoroastrianism are unclear, it was during the Sassanid period that it gained widespread acceptance, many of the Sassanid emperors were at least to some extent Zurvanites.
Zurvanism enjoyed royal sanction during the Sassanid era but no traces of it remain beyond the 10th century. Unlike Mazdean Zoroastrianism, Zurvanism considered Ahura Mazda not the transcendental Creator, but one of two equal-but-opposite divinities under the supremacy of Zurvan; the central Zurvanite belief made Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu twin brothers that had co-existed for all time. Non-Zoroastrian accounts of Zurvanite beliefs were the first traces of Zoroastrianism to reach the west, which misled European scholars to conclude that Zoroastrianism was a dualist faith; the Zoroastrian cult of Zurvan should not be confused with the Manichaeism's use of the name Zurvan in Middle Pe
The Khurramites were an Iranian religious and political movement with its roots in the movement founded by Mazdak. An alternative name for the movement is a reference to their symbolic red dress; the sect was founded in the 8th century CE by the Persian cleric Sunpadh and was a revitalization of an earlier sect that had mixed Shī‘a Islam and Zoroastrianism. The sect grew out of a response to the execution of Abu Muslim by the Abbasids, denied that he had died, rather claiming that he would return as the messiah; this message was further confirmed by the appearance of a prophet named al-Muqanna‘ "The Veiled", who claimed that the spirit of God had existed in Muhammad, ‘Alī and Abu Muslim. Under the leadership of Bābak, the Khurammites proclaimed the breakup and redistribution of all the great estates and the end to despotic foreign rule. Taking advantage of the turmoil created by the Abbasid civil war, in 816 they began making attacks on Muslim forces in Iran and Iraq; the Abbasid suppression of the rebellion led to the flight of many thousand Khurramites to Byzantium, where they were welcomed by emperor Theophilos and enrolled in the Byzantine army under their Iranian leader, Theophobos.
Al-Maqdisi mentions several facts. He observes that "the basis of their doctrine is belief in light and darkness", they "avoid the shedding of blood, except when they raise the banner of revolt". They are "extremely concerned with cleanliness and purification, with approaching people with kindness and beneficence"; some of them "believed in free sex, provided that the women agreed to it, in the freedom of enjoying all pleasures and of satisfying one's inclinations so long as this does not entail any harm to others".. Regarding the variety of faiths, they believe that "the prophets, despite the difference of their laws and their religions, do not constitute but a single spirit". Naubakhti states that they believe in reincarnation as the only existing kind of afterlife and retribution and in the cancellation of all religious prescriptions and obligations, they revere Abu Muslim and their imams. In their rituals, which are rather simple, they "seek the greatest sacramental effect from wine and drinks".
As a whole, they were estimated by Al-Maqdisi as "Mazdaeans... who cover themselves under the guise of Islam". According to Turkish scholar Abdülbaki Gölpinarli, the Qizilbash of the 16th century – a religious and political movement in Azerbaijan that helped to establish the Safavid dynasty – were "spiritual descendants of the Khurramites". Islamic conquest of Persia Kaysanites Shia List of extinct Shia sects Bahram Chobin Venetis, Evangelos. "ḴORRAMIS IN BYZANTIUM". Encyclopaedia Iranica Online. Retrieved January 6, 2013. Encyclopaedia Iranica, ḴORRAMIS Encyclopaedia Iranica, BĀBAK ḴORRAMI
Angra Mainyu is the Avestan-language name of Zoroastrianism's hypostasis of the "destructive spirit". The Middle Persian equivalent is Ahriman. Angra Mainyu is Ahura Mazda’s adversary. Avestan angra mainyu "seems to have been an original conception of Zoroaster's." In the Gathas, which are the oldest texts of Zoroastrianism and are attributed to the prophet himself, angra mainyu is not yet a proper name. In the one instance in these hymns where the two words appear together, the concept spoken of is that of a mainyu, angra. In this single instance—in Yasna 45.2—the "more bounteous of the spirits twain" declares angra mainyu to be its "absolute antithesis". A similar statement occurs in Yasna 30.3, where the antithesis is however aka mainyu, aka being the Avestan language word for "evil". Hence, aka mainyu is the "evil spirit" or "evil mind" or "evil thought," as contrasted with spenta mainyu, the "bounteous spirit" with which Ahura Mazda conceived of creation, which "was"; the aka mainyu epithet recurs in Yasna 32.5, when the principle is identified with the daevas that deceive humankind and themselves.
While in Zoroastrianism, the daevas are demons, this is not yet evident in the Gathas: Zoroaster stated that the daevas are "wrong gods" or "false gods" that are to be rejected, but they are not yet demons. Some have proposed a connection between Angra Mainyu and the sage Angiras of the Rigveda. If this is true, it could be understood as evidence of a religious schism between the deva-worshiping Vedic Indo-Aryans and early Zoroastrians. In Yasna 32.3, these daevas are identified as the offspring, not of Angra Mainyu, but of akem manah, "evil thinking". A few verses earlier it is however the daebaaman, "deceiver"—not otherwise identified but "probably Angra Mainyu"—who induces the daevas to choose achistem manah—"worst thinking." In Yasna 32.13, the abode of the wicked is not the abode of Angra Mainyu, but the abode of the same "worst thinking". "One would have expected to reign in hell, since he had created'death and how, at the end, the worst existence shall be for the deceitful'." Yasna 19.15 recalls that Ahura Mazda's recital of the Ahuna Vairya invocation puts Angra Mainyu in a stupor.
In Yasna 9.8, Angra Mainyu creates Aži Dahaka, but the serpent recoils at the sight of Mithra's mace. In Yasht 13, the Fravashis defuse Angra Mainyu's plans to dry up the earth, in Yasht 8.44 Angra Mainyu battles but cannot defeat Tishtrya and so prevent the rains. In Vendidad 19, Angra Mainyu urges Zoroaster to turn from the good religion by promising him sovereignty of the world. On being rejected, Angra Mainyu assails the prophet with legions of demons, but Zoroaster deflects them all. In Yasht 19.96, a verse that reflects a Gathic injunction, Angra Mainyu will be vanquished and Ahura Mazda will prevail. In Yasht 19.46ff, Angra Mainyu and Spenta Mainyu battle for possession of khvaraenah, "divine glory" or "fortune". In some verses of the Yasna, the two principles are said to have created the world, which contradicts the Gathic principle that declares Ahura Mazda to be the sole creator and, reiterated in the cosmogony of Vendidad 1. In that first chapter, the basis for the 9th–12th-century Bundahishn, the creation of sixteen lands by Ahura Mazda is countered by the Angra Mainyu's creation of sixteen scourges such as winter and vice.
"This shift in the position of Ahura Mazda, his total assimilation to this Bounteous Spirit, must have taken place in the 4th century BC at the latest. So Vendidad 19.47, but other passages in the same chapter have him dwelling in the region of the daevas, which the Vendidad asserts is in the north. There, Angra Mainyu is chief of the daevas; the superlative daevo.taema is however assigned to the demon Paitisha. In an enumeration of the daevas in Vendidad 1.43, Angra Mainyu appears first and Paitisha appears last. "Nowhere is Angra Mainyu said to be the creator of the daevas or their father." Zurvanism—a historical branch of Zoroastrianism that sought to theologically resolve a dilemma found in a mention of antithetical "twin spirits" in Yasna 30.3 -- developed a notion that Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu were twin brothers, with the former being the epitome of good and the latter being the epitome of evil. This mythology of twin brotherhood is only explicitly attested in the post-Sassanid Syriac and Armenian polemic such as that of Eznik of Kolb.
According to these sources the genesis saw Zurvan as an androgynous deity, existing alone but desiring offspring who would create "heaven and hell and everything in between." Zurvan sacrificed for a thousand years. Towards the end of this period, Zurvan began to doubt the efficacy of sacrifice and in the moment of this doubt Ohrmuzd and Ahriman were conceived: Ohrmuzd for the sacrifice and Ahriman for the doubt. Upon realizing that twins were to be born, Zurvan resolved to grant the first-born sovereignty over creation. Ohrmuzd perceived Zurvan's decision, which he communicated to his brother. Ahriman preempted Ohrmuzd by ripping open the womb to emerge first. Reminded of the resolution to grant Ahriman sovereignty, Zurvan conceded, but limited kingship to a period of 9000 years, after which Ohrmuzd would ru
Atar (/ˈətər/ is the Zoroastrian concept of holy fire, sometimes described in abstract terms as "burning and unburning fire" or "visible and invisible fire". It is considered to be the visible presence of his aša; the rituals for purifying a fire are performed 1,128 times a year. In the Avestan language, ātar is an attribute of sources of heat and light, of which the nominative singular form is ātarš, source of Persian ātaš, it is etymologically related to the Avestan āθrauuan / a type of priest. It was copied by the Latin ater and a cognate of the Slavic vatra. In Zoroastrianism, ātar is iconographically conflated with fire itself, which in Middle Persian is ātaxsh, one of the primary objects of Zoroastrian symbolism. Atar is evident in the Gathas, the oldest texts of the compendium of the Avesta and believed to have been composed by Zoroaster himself. At this juncture, as in the Yasna Haptanghaiti, atar is still—with only one exception—an abstract concept an instrument, a medium, of the Creator and is not yet the divinity of heat and light that atar was to become in the texts.
In the most ancient texts, atar is a medium, a faculty, through which judgement is passed and reflects the pre-Zoroastrian institution of ordeal by heat. So, for example, justice is administered through atar, the blazing atar, through the heat of atar, through the blazing, molten metal. An individual who has passed the fiery test, has attained physical and spiritual strength, wisdom and love with serenity. However, among all the references to atar in the oldest texts, it is only once addressed independently of Ahura Mazda. In this exception, atar is spoken of in the third person masculine singular: "He detects sinners by hand-grasping". Altogether, "there are said to have been some 30 kinds of fiery tests in all." In the early texts, tangential to its role in establishing guilt, atar is the light of revelation through which Zoroaster is selected for prophet-hood, the Zarathushtra Mainyu Athra, radiated by Wisdom/Mazda, bearing the conviction of "Good Purpose", enlightening one’s inner-self. Within this framework of the concept of divine illumination, atar radiates the "other lights", the essence from which insight and wisdom permeate the universe.
So Zoroaster's injunction to always pray in the presence of atar—either towards the sun, or towards their own hearths—so as to better concentrate their devotions on asha and the virtue that should be striven for. The Gathic role of atar as the medium for detecting guilt is not directly evident in the texts of the Avesta, but reappears in modified form as an allegory of burning and annihilating the Angra Mainyu through righteousness, "where Asha Vahishta is identified at times with the household fire on the hearth." There, "identification in the realms of matter and of spirit serves only to bring more into prominence the main tenets of Zoroaster's teachings in regard to Asha". A vestige of the ancient institution of ordeal by heat is nonetheless present in Vendidad 4.54–55, where speaking against the truth and violating the sanctity of promise is punishable by flogging and is detected by the consumption of "water, blazing, of golden color, having the power to detect guilt." The Zend translation/commentary on this passage translates "blazing" as having brimstone and sulphur, notes that innocence or guilt was established by the consumption of this "guilt-detecting liquid".
In the Denkard, Adharbad Maraspand—the Sassanid era high-priest to whom the collation of the Avesta texts is attributed—is purported to have nine measures of "unburning molten zinc" applied to his chest as proof of accuracy of the sacred texts. Seen chronologically, the transition from atar as a vehicle of judgement to Atar Yazata the divinity presiding over blazing fire is abrupt. While the older Gathic Avestan texts have heat associated with harsh judgement, the Younger Avestan texts have the divinity Atar representing and being represented by fire itself. Asha Vahishta's association with atar is however carried forward, they are mentioned together. So in their roles as protectors, for "when the Evil Spirit assailed the creation of Good Truth, Good Thought and Fire intervened" It is in the texts that Atar is personified as "the son" of Ahura Mazda and is addressed as "full of glory and full of healing remedies". In Yasna 17.11, Atar is "master of the house", recalling the role of the hearth fire in the Gathas.
The same passage enumerates the "five kinds of fire": atar berezi-savah, "the beneficent atar", qualified in Zend texts as "the fire that eats food but drinks no water", the kind of fire that burns in an Atash-Behram, the highest grade of fire temple. Atar vohu-fryana, "the atar of good affection" qualified as "the fire diffusing goodness", "the fire that consumes both water and food". Atar urvazishta, "the atar of greatest bliss" qualified as "the fire of ha
Parsis or Parsees are a Zoroastrian community who migrated to the Indian subcontinent from Persia during the Arab conquest of Persia of 636–651 AD. According to the Qissa-i Sanjan, Parsis migrated from Greater Iran to Gujarat, where they were given refuge, between the 8th and 10th century AD to avoid persecution following the Muslim conquest of Persia. At the time of the Muslim conquest of Persia, the dominant religion of the region was Zoroastrianism. Iranians such as Babak Khorramdin rebelled against Muslim conquerors for 200 years. During this time many Iranians chose to preserve their religious identity by fleeing from Persia to India; the word پارسیان, pronounced "Parsian", i.e. "Parsi" in the Persian language means Persian. Note that Farsi is an arabization of the word Parsi, used as an endonym of Persian, Persian language is spoken in Iran, Afghanistan and some other former regions of the Persian Empire; the long presence of the Parsis in India distinguishes them from the smaller Zoroastrian Indian community of Iranis, who are much more recent arrivals descended from Zoroastrians fleeing the repression of the Qajar dynasty and the general social and political tumult of late 19th- and early 20th-century Iran.
After having spent centuries in South Gujarat Udvada and Navsari, the majority of the Parsi diaspora speak Gujarati. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica,Parsi spelled Parsee, member of a group of followers in India of the Persian prophet Zoroaster; the Parsis, whose name means "Persians", are descended from Persian Zoroastrians who emigrated to India to avoid religious persecution by the Muslims. They live chiefly in Mumbai and in a few towns and villages to the south of Mumbai, but a few minorities near by in Karachi and Bangalore. There is a sizeable Parsee population in Pune as well in Hyderabad. A few Parsee families reside in Kolkata and Chennai. Although they are not speaking, a caste, since they are not Hindus, they form a well-defined community; the exact date of the Parsi migration is unknown. According to tradition, the Parsis settled at Hormuz on the Persian Gulf, but finding themselves still persecuted they set sail for India, arriving in the 8th century; the migration may in fact have taken place as late in both.
They settled first at Diu in Kathiawar but soon moved to south Gujarāt, where they remained for about 800 years as a small agricultural community. The term Pārsi, which in the Persian language is a demonym meaning "inhabitant of Pārs" and hence "ethnic Persian", is not attested in Indian Zoroastrian texts until the 17th century; until that time, such texts use the Persian-origin terms Zartoshti "Zoroastrian" or Vehdin " the good religion". The 12th-century Sixteen Shlokas, a Sanskrit text in praise of the Parsis, is the earliest attested use of the term as an identifier for Indian Zoroastrians; the first reference to the Parsis in a European language is from 1322, when a French monk, Jordanus refers to their presence in Thane and Bharuch. Subsequently, the term appears in the journals of many European travelers, first French and Portuguese English, all of whom used a Europeanized version of an local language term. For example, Portuguese physician Garcia de Orta observed in 1563 that "there are merchants... in the kingdom of Cambaia... known as Esparcis.
We Portuguese call them Jews. They are Gentios." In an early 20th-century legal ruling, Justices Davar and Beaman asserted that "Parsi" was a term used in Iran to refer to Zoroastrians. Notes that in much the same way as the word "Hindu" was used by Iranians to refer to anyone from the Indian subcontinent, "Parsi" was used by the Indians to refer to anyone from Greater Iran, irrespective of whether they were ethnic Persian people. In any case, the term "Parsi" itself is "not an indication of their Iranian or'Persian' origin, but rather as indicator – manifest as several properties – of ethnic identity". Moreover, if heredity were the only factor in a determination of ethnicity, the Parsis would count as Parthians according to the Qissa-i Sanjan; the term "Parseeism" or "Parsiism" is attributed to Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron, who in the 1750s, when the word "Zoroastrianism" had yet to be coined, made the first detailed report of the Parsis and of Zoroastrianism, therein mistakenly assuming that the Parsis were the only remaining followers of the religion.
In addition to above, the Parsi identity was well an identity before they moved to India: The earliest reference to the Parsis is found in the Assyrian inscription of Shalmaneser III. Darius the Great establishes this fact when he records his Parsi ancestry for posterity, “parsa parsahya puthra ariya ariyachitra”, meaning, “a Parsi, the son of a Parsi, an Aryan, of Aryan family. In Outlines of Parsi History, Dasturji Hormazdyar Dastur Kayoji Mirza, Bombay 1987, pp. 3-4 writes, “According to the Pahlavi text of Karnamak i Artakhshir i Papakan, the Indian astrologer refers to Artakhshir as khvatay parsikan ‘the king of the Parsis’. Herodotus and Xenophon, the two great historians who lived in the third and fourth centuries BC referred to Iranians as Parsis. In ancient Persia, Zoroaster taught that good and evil were opposite forces and the battle between them is more or less evenly matched. A person should always be vigilant to
Ahura Mazda is the creator and sole God of Zoroastrianism. Ahura Mazda is the highest spirit of worship in Zoroastrianism, along with being the first and most invoked spirit in the Yasna; the literal meaning of the word Ahura is "lord", that of Mazda is "wisdom". Ahura Mazda first appeared in the Achaemenid period under Darius I's Behistun Inscription; until Artaxerxes II of Persia, Ahura Mazda was invoked alone. With Artaxerxes II, Ahura Mazda was invoked with Mithra and Anahita. In the Achaemenid period, there are no representations of Ahura Mazda other than the custom for every emperor to have an empty chariot drawn by white horses, to invite Ahura Mazda to accompany the Persian army on battles. Images of Ahura Mazda began in the Parthian period, but were stopped and replaced with stone carved figures in the Sassanid period. "Mazda", or rather the Avestan stem-form Mazdā-, nominative Mazdå, reflects Proto-Iranian *mazdáH. It is taken to be the proper name of the spirit, like its Vedic cognate medhā́, means "intelligence" or "wisdom".
Both the Avestan and Sanskrit words reflect Proto-Indo-Iranian *mazdʰáH, from Proto-Indo-European *mn̥sdʰh₁éh₂ meaning "placing one's mind", hence "wise". The name was rendered as Ahuramazda during the Achaemenid era, Hormazd during the Parthian era, Ohrmazd was used during the Sassanian era; the name may be attested on cuneiform tablets of Assyrian Assurbanipal, in the form Assara Mazaš, though this interpretation is controversial. Though Ahura Mazda was a spirit in the Old Iranian religion, he had not yet been given the title of "uncreated spirit"; this title was given by Zoroaster, who proclaimed Ahura Mazda as the uncreated spirit, wholly wise and good, as well as the creator and upholder of Asha. At the age of 30, Zoroaster received a revelation: while fetching water at dawn for a sacred ritual, he saw the shining figure of the yazata, Vohu Manah, who led Zoroaster to the presence of Ahura Mazda, where he was taught the cardinal principles of the "Good Religion" known as Zoroastrianism.
As a result of this vision, Zoroaster preach the religion. He stated, he further stated that Ahura Mazda created spirits known as yazatas to aid him, who merited devotion. Zoroaster deserved no worship; these "bad" spirits were created by the hostile and evil spirit. The existence of Angra Mainyu was the source of all misery in the universe. Zoroaster claimed that Ahura Mazda was not an omnipotent God, but used the aid of humans in the cosmic struggle against Angra Mainyu. Nonetheless, Ahura Mazda is Angra Mainyu's superior, not his equal. Angra Mainyu and his daevas, which attempt to attract humans away from the path of truth and righteousness, would be destroyed. Whether the Achaemenids were Zoroastrians is a matter of much debate. However, it is known; the representation and invocation of Ahura Mazda can be seen on royal inscriptions written by Achaemenid kings. The most notable of all the inscriptions is the Behistun Inscription written by Darius I which contains many references to Ahura Mazda.
An inscription written in Greek was found in a late Achaemenid temple at Persepolis which invoked Ahura Mazda and two other spirits, most Mithra and Anahita. On the Elamite Persepolis Fortification Tablet 377, Ahura Mazda is invoked along with Mithra and Voruna. Artaxerxes III makes this invocation to the three spirits again in his reign; the early Achaemenid period contained no representation of Ahura Mazda. The winged symbol with a male figure, regarded by European scholars as Ahura Mazda has been shown to represent the royal xvarənah, the personification of royal power and glory. However, it was customary for every emperor from Cyrus until Darius III to have an empty chariot drawn by white horses as a place for Ahura Mazda to accompany the Persian army on battles; the use of images of Ahura Mazda began in the western satraps of the Achaemenid Empire in the late 5th century BCE. Under Artaxerxes II, the first literary reference as well as a statue of Ahura Mazda was built by a Persian governor of Lydia in 365 BCE.
It is known that the reverence for Ahura Mazda, as well as Anahita and Mithra continued with the same traditions during this period. The worship of Ahura Mazda with symbolic images is noticed, but it stopped with the beginning of the Sassanid period. Zoroastrian iconoclasm, which can be traced to the end of the Parthian period and the beginning of the Sassanid put an end to the use of all images of Ahura Mazda in worship. However, Ahura Mazda remained symbolized by a dignified male figure, standing or on horseback, found in Sassanian investiture. During the Sassanid Empire, a heretical form of Zoroastrianism, termed Zurvanism, emerged, it gained adherents throughout the Sassanid Empire, most notably the royal lineage of Sassanian emperors. Under the reign of Shapur I, Zurvanism became a widespread cult. Zurvanism revokes Zoroaster's original message of Ahura Mazda as the uncreated spirit, the "uncreated creator" of all, reduces him to a created spirit, one of two twin sons of Zurvan, their father and the primary spirit.
Zurvanism makes Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu of equal strength and only contrasting spirits. Other than Zurvanism, the Sassanian kings demonstrated their devotion to Ahura Mazda i