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ZOROASTRO’S HERITAGE AS A PERSIAN INFLUENCE DOOR

On Zoroastrianism it can be affirmed that it is a religious base influenced by elements of the Iranian-Hindu past, whose final result is a new religion with its cosmology, cosmogony, eschatology with a particular urgent and immanent character. The idea of ​​salvation contributed to channeling Semitic/Sumerian/ Chaldean and Iranian-Hindu thinking in the forms of Judaism in the banishment of Babylon. This Judaism was doubly influenced by coming into contact with complementary or parallel tales to his own, when not more precise and profound. After all, Israel was still a nation of nomads who began their journey towards sedentary life, and who shared the Semitic and Mesopotamian world of the most powerful and educated folks, with greater tradition and influence (one receives and transmits the influence in the same proportion in which its cultural and mental development allows it, otherwise we are faced with asymmetric elements; or the dominant will live a total acculturation with respect to his superior dominated losing language and good number of customs, or else there will be a mixed miscegenation by the elite in ascending / descending direction). Israel in the exile lived the Chaldean culture, and if Zoroaster existed, everything seems to indicate that there was also a period of Babylonian exile of the Jews, on between the neo-Chaldean Empire and the Achaemenid Persians.

semítico/sumerio
God EL overcoming two lions.

Judaism, as a group of tribes or Israel, has always had clear influences that are witnessed in the Hebrew-Aramaic Bible: Egyptian, Canaanite, Hittite, Chaldean, Semitic influences ... These extraordinary influences were bequeathed by Judaism to Christianity and Islam that Muhammad and those who followed him built.

At the time of the arsacid we could be establishing a progressive promotion of Zoroastrianism towards a state religion. It would be at this time (225 BC - 226 AD) that the Zoroastrian sacred writings had a first compilation of which it is only known that it could exist, and that it would have some form similar to the ancient Gathas Yasts or Yasnas of the time of the Achaemenids

Also sprach Zarathustra

Starting from the fact that it is very difficult to discover the historical reality of certain originators of religions, we will say that this man not only lived, we can also affirm that perhaps certain songs of Avesta, the Gathas , or parts of them are his. We can also put it into the Indo - European white race was divided into two branches: one to Eastern Europe and other Aryan or Arya , which was further divided into two groups; one of them occupied India and the other could place it in Persia or Iran ("The land of the Aryans"). Everything seems to point out that Zarathustra or Zoroaster was born in Eastern Iran, and his life could be placed on horseback from the 7th-6th centuries BC Not in vain, the Zoroastrian tradition confirmed by Arab documents placed Zoroaster about three hundred years before Alexander's death Magno, which would lead us to the contact of the Jews in Babylon with Chaldeans and Persians.

Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazda, representation of good

The main feature of Zoroastrianism is dualism. The conflict between good and evil would start at the beginning, but it rushes towards an end in whose apotheosis good will definitely triumph over evil. In Zoroastrianism it represents the good Ahura Mazda, and the evil Ahriman. But in Zoroastrianism there is only one God, an almighty Spirit, who dominates creation, and is totally unchanging.

The main differences that Zoroaster's reform made with respect to the Iranian religions that preceded it were the absence of naturist elements. Therefore it is not ruled out that the naturist elements that survive in the Avesta have been incorporated later (following Johannes Hertel in Die Zeit Zoroasters ). The hecatombs of animals, which were so important in the previous rites, were also banished by Zoroaster, something that judging by the insistence on the texts greatly worried the Iranian prophet[one]. This concern contrasts with the action of the magicians as far as immolation of animals is concerned in the time of Herodotus (1, 140; 8, 113, 191). Something very similar happened with the rites of the haoma , whose equivalent would be the Vedic soma , which in India led to exaltation scenes because of its effects, and which also displeased Zoroaster ( Yasnas 32, 14 and 48, 10 and Herodotus 1, 133) .

zoroastrismo
Ahura Mazda fights Ahriman

Another interesting aspect is the place where evil and demons live: precisely Ahriman is ruled over the north, over the cold, where he rules over his creatures, and that is where the door to hell is, past the Caspian Sea ... Souls that there are those who have chosen evil in an act of free will: the Bad Thought, the Bad Word and the Bad Work, being thrown into the chasm of the Evil Spirit. This aspect of Zoroastrianism is also linked to the nomads who live near that area where the evil is, and who fall on them on the backs of their horses to steal their cattle and loot.

On the contrary, Paradise or Heaven is for those who have practiced the Good Thought, the Good Word and the Good Work. stay in touch with the mansion of Ahura Mazda. The promised happiness lies in a progressive approach that reduces the distance between the soul and God, in addition to being close to the absolute Good, which is Ahura Mazda. It has a triple partition: the Paradise of Good Thoughts, in the stars; Paradise of Good Words, on the Moon; and, the Paradise of Good Works, in the Sun.

Ahriman
Ahriman

Zoroastrianism establishes that the world rushes towards its end in a great battle, whose victory will be for Ahura Mazda. Ahura will rule over Ahriman and his daevas , a kind of demons. But his victory will be even greater, for he will overcome the sins of men, eventually giving rise to a new world ruled by Ohrmazd in which the resurrection and immortality after the final judgment, in addition to the full glory of creation, will be free. of everything that muddied him.

Zoroastrianism and the Sassanids

In the Zoroastrianism of the Sassanids we have again a phenomenon of affirmation of power of the allied magicians with the temporary power on the rise and in need of continuity, but marking a certain caesura and greater legitimacy than that of the arsacids. With the arrival of the sasánidas (225-652 AD) we would have the creation of a moment of caesura and imperial foundation, expressed in the continuation of the religion of the Zoroastric matrix state (continuity), but that it is necessary to “purify”. Thus, Ardashir Papakán, founder of this new line of descent, undertook a work to "remake" the Avesta, with which he had to count on the help of the "archmage"; the mowbedan mowbed or high priest of the high priests, the equivalent of the shahanshah or king of kings, Tansar. Thus Ardashir created a kind of school of thought around him.

Ardashir Papakán
Ardashir Papakán

Shapur I introduced “cuttings” to strengthen this new creation cultivated in the Persian circles of power, identifying elements of Hellenism and India. This fixed the canon of the Parsis Scriptures next to the hierarchy, this allowed the influence of Zoroastrianism in customs and cults of the Persian variety. At the gates of the Arab invasion, around the 6th century AD, it would count on these elements, and perhaps we would be talking about an attempt to drive believers in a wave of vivification of the faith due to the changes introduced over the centuries. In this regard, and as proof of lack of faith, we could contribute precisely the lack of resistance in accepting the faith of the invader by a large part of the population, with the exception of two groups: the guebre, who remained among the former community and that were persecuted until their number was reduced, and the countries that preferred to emigrate to India rather than renounce their religion, a kind of protectors of the essences and an interpretation of them that is intended to be pure [2] . Although the invasion and the attempts of progressive acculturation by the invaders aroused the national feeling of the Aryans, and led them to boost Shi'ism as a national response against the Arabs.

Investiture of Sassanid emperor Ardashir II (3rd century CE bas-relief at Taq-e Bostan, Iran. On the left stands the yazata Mithra with raised barsom, sanctifying the investiture.[5]
Investiture of the Sassanid Emperor Ardashir II On the left is the Mithra Yazata with a raised baron, sanctifying the endowment

Consolidation during the Sassanids: heresies

The most prominent of all heresies is Zurvanism, the matrix of both Gnosticism and Manichaeism. The Zurvanist doctrine changes the motive and interpretation of the Zoroastrian myth by saying that in the beginning of time there was only Zurvan, the god of time who, wishing to father a child, made sacrifices for a thousand years to get it; doubting whether their sacrifices would be effective or not, he ended up begetting not one, but two children, Ohrmazd and Ahriman (the first fruit of their sacrifices, the second of their doubts). Aware of what happened, he promised to give the sovereignty of the world to which he was born first; Ohrmazd told this to Ahriman, who immediately tore inside his father to be born and present himself before him; Zurvan asked who he was and Ahriman was posing as Ohrmazd; Zurvan, however, could not be deceived, for he knew that his son was luminous and fragrant, while Ahriman was dark and stinking. When Ohrmazd was born and appeared before Zurvan, he recognized him immediately, handing him the barsom , symbol of sovereignty. Ahriman protested claiming that he was supposedly given sovereignty to the firstborn; consequently Zurvan granted him to rule the world for 9,000 years, at the end of which Ohrmazd would definitely take his place. This myth contains the main notions of the Zurichist doctrine, where the god Zurvan becomes the central and generating figure of the creation and dynamism of a world invariably predestined to contemplate the eschatological triumph of good.

Conclusions and analogies. The influence of his thinking

It was thanks to Anquetil Duperron that in Europe at the end of the 18th century that more solid news of the religion of the parsis began to be had, and this was due to the translations he undertook from the texts related to Zoroastrianism and studies on that subject that other orientalists, along with Duperron, did. Thus it was possible to know what Zoroastrianism was, and the influence it had on other religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Eschatology and according to what moral and theological concepts could be traced in Zoroaster and in those who continued they did with their doctrine.

Anquetil Duperron
Zend-Avesta, Ouvrage de Zoroastre, 1771, by Anquetil Duperron

But Zoroastrianism transcends what from Islam is called "the religions of the book." Take Buddhism as an example. When at the beginning of the Christian era this doctrine was renewed producing a substitution of a doctrine of action towards another of pious contemplation it may be possible to trace a potential influence of Zoroastrianism, which would encompass names of a spiritual as well as abstract character, used to designate Certain Buddhas They share the same nature of Paradise that is promised to the elect, the recourse to a Messiah who is to preach the salvation of the World or the Maitreya (who was born of Mithra) are all ideas, following Sylvain Lévi in India and the World he added : "So many ideas, beliefs, names that India does not explain, that are as foreign to ancient Brahmanism as to ancient Buddhism as many ideas, beliefs, names that are familiar to Iran Zoroastrian, from where they have already passed to the west in the Judaism of the prophets, and thence in the doctrine of Christianity. Among the Perfections that the Bodhisattva is to conquer, is in the first rank the "Perfection of the Savior" Prajna-Pâramitâ, who is exalted as the Mother of the Buddhas. How can one not think of this sect of the Gnostics, of Basilides, of Valentin, a religious sect much more than a philosophical school, which arose on the Iranian territory of Christianity, and which proclaims salvation by Gnosis, "gnosis", the Greek equivalent of Sanskrit prajna? which is even partly identical to it? And as if to put beyond doubt the collaboration of the religious genius of Iran with that of India in this tormented and fertile period where the growing Christianity worries the Roman Empire, where the new dynasty of the Sassanids tries in Persia the integral restoration from avestic orthodoxy, towards the middle of the third century, an Iranian, Mani, imagines a dazzling combination of Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and Christianity; to one he borrows the fundamental dualism, the Fight of the Two Principles of Good and Evil, to the other two he borrows their legendary and mythological apparatus, their militant organization, their practice of confession, their literary forms ".[3]

Following Nyberg and deepening the idea of ​​Gnosis, which would be so important in the Eastern Mediterranean and in Greco-Roman space of the first centuries after Christ, it is not difficult to trace in Zoroastrianism a part that reminds precisely of the Gnostics: the transposition of an idea of ​​liberation made possible by a Savior on the strictly spiritual and moral level; the release of ties or prison of matter; the establishment of an antithesis between the senses and the reason, between the Matter and the Spirit, between the plural and the unity. The idea of ​​"salvation" is central to Zoroastrianism, and is present in the Sóter, σωτήρ (sōtēr) of the Greco-Roman world. From there it would pass to Christianity, because Jesus Christ received such title and the same acronym of the fish ΙΧΘΥΣ, corresponding to Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς Θεοῦ Υἱὸς Σωτήρ, that is to say "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior". For Christians, Jesus Christ was also the true Orpheus, for example, as St. Clement I testifies; and returning to the question of "Savior" or Sóter we have Pope Soterius , who was bishop of Rome between 167 and 174 AD

Resultado de imagen de ΙΧΘΥΣ

Conclusion and application

There is the phenomenon, curious but logical, understanding something better how the Persians think after this analysis, of wanting to revitalize Zoroastrianism against Shiism in our day. It is done even by accepting Christianity, which links with the line defended by the former president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who intended to turn his propaganda policy towards the imperial (hence, zoroastric) past of the country. The attempt was framed with its desire for superiority over the Turks. This struggle is a consequence of shared spaces over centuries, and historical trends marked by competing powers or balance in the region. Ahmadinejad does not formally abandon Shiism, but recalls the influence of Zoroastrianism on Jews, Christians and Arabs. Precisely this form of Persian nationalism led him to a confrontation with the Iranian clerical caste, mainly with the supreme leader Ali Khamenei. Similarly, Ahmadinejad was arrested on 03/18/2018 accused of being one of those who moved the street in protests against the situation in Iran; what former President Ahmadinejad intended was to place himself as the representative of the highest authority of temporal power, in the line of the king of kings or shahanshah , to balance and reduce the predominance of spiritual power. This last power is embodied by the supreme leader, updated version and consequence of the Revolution of the mowbedan mowbed or high priest of the high priests.

It has also been possible to verify the presence of Iranian or Persian culture in a space larger than that marked by current Iran, which has been witnessed in works such as the Šâhnâme or "The Book of Kings" (epic poem written by the poet Persian Ferdowsi around 1010 AD). In this book you can follow central characters, such as Rostam or Zabol, by Persian space that covers Central Asia, including Afghanistan or Pakistan. Do not forget that Persian or Fārsī is spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, regions of Russia and Iraq[4] , and this precisely connects them historically with northern India and Pakistan, and through Shiism with southern Iraq, the Persian Gulf coast, Yemen and through the Shia corridor, to Syria. We are therefore facing an imperial-cultural-religious space that allows it to exert an influence in several directions, but also puts Iran in competition with spaces occupied by Russia. On the other hand, it clashes with turistic spaces, in the case of Azerbaijan, a Turkish country but with Shiite culture and religion. But precisely spiritual and cultural synergies also favor the balance between the Turkish and Iranian powers: the figure of Rūmī in Persian or Mevlânâ in Turkish and his decisive influence on Sufism and his contribution as a poet is a sort of door or communicating vessel between both powers .

So, understanding the strong cultural, religious and nationalist component that Iranian culture presents and its own idiosyncrasy, the way to achieve a change of power is based on the fact that we stop feeding the discourse "we-they" or "the enemy" , to feed a development of the country that allows a stability that breaks said dichotomy and thus generates the conditions in which the temporal power balances the spiritual power, giving stability to the entire region.

[1] Yasna 28, 1; 32, 10, 12 and 14; 33, 3-4.

[2] This idea is relevant. Researching current Parsis I saw that keep the idea of racial purity, for Zoroastrianism is a national religion. And although there are mixed marriages, the children of such marriages cannot be considered Zoroastrianists, just like those who renounced their faith .

[3] LÉVI, Sylvain 1928 pp. 46-47

[4] It is scary to follow Pikington and Yemelianova when they claim in "Islam in Post-Soviet Russia": "Among other indigenous peoples of Iranian origin were the Tats, the Talishes and the Kurds." Or, Masti ︠ u ︡ gina and Perepelkin say in "An Ethnic History of Russia: Pre-Revolutionary Times to the Present", "The Iranian Peoples (Ossetians, Tajiks, Tats, Mountain Judaists)". Vitaliĭ Naumkin & Irina Zviagelskaia. 1996. p. 80.

Bibliography

AXWORTHY, M., Iran. Empire of the Mind. A History from Zoroaster to the Present Day, London, 2007.

BERGUA, JB, The Avesta. Mazdeism and Zoroastrianism, Madrid, 2010.

CAMPOS, I., "Reason for state in Achaemenid religious policy: tolerance and religious intolerance", Gerión, 2006, pp. 111-117.

CAMPOS, I., "Kings and magicians in the ancient Iranian religion: ideological control of the Zoroastrian reform", in ALVAR, J. (ed.) Ancient History. Proceedings of the Girea Arys Congress, Madrid, 2004, pp. 87-93.

CANEPA, MP, The Two Eyes of the Earth. Art and Ritual of Kingship between Rome and Sasanian Iran, University of California Press, Berkeley-Los Angeles- London, 2009.

LÉVI, S., L'Inde et le monde, Honoré Champion Editeur, Paris, 1928.

Hertel, J., Die Zeit Zoroasters , H-Haessel, Lepizig, 1924.

Masti ︠ u ︡ gina, T., Perepelkin L., "An Ethnic History of Russia: Pre-Revolutionary Times to the Present". Vitaliĭ Naumkin & Irina Zviagelskaia, 1996.

Pikington, H., Yemelianova, G., "Islam in Post-Soviet Russia", Taylor & Francis, 2004.

WIDENGREN, G., The Gnostic Attitude by Geo Widengren: Edited and Translated from the Swedish by Birger Pearson , University of California, Berkeley, 2014.

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