What is Zoroastrianism?

What is the Zoroastrian Ethical Creed?

What are Zoroastrian Beliefs and Philosophy?

Creation, Existence & Coexistence



Understanding & Wisdom

Free Will, Reason & Choice

Age of Reason

Conscience & Intuitive Wisdom - Sarosh

Spiritual Components in Nature & Human Beings

The Spirit - Mainyu

Spenta & Angra Mainyu

Spirit & Attitude - Fundamental Choice



The Soul, Urvan - Fate of the Soul



United Fravashi

Farohar or Fravahar

Spiritual Quest

Based on the hymns of Zarathushtra - the Gathas including Chapters 30 and 48:

Goal in Life - Ushta

The Nature of God, Ahura Mazda

Amesha Spentas - Eternal Beneficent Brilliance

The Amesha Spentas (amesha meaning eternal & spenta meaning brilliance and beneficence) as attributes of God are:

Zoroastrian Way of Life & Ethos

Amesha Spentas - Eternal Enlightenment, Ageless Wisdom

The Amesha Spentas (amesha meaning eternal or ageless & spenta meaning brilliance, enlightenment and beneficence) are also ideals to which humans can aspire . Possessing Amesha Spenta qualities does not make humans god-like. Possessing these qualities means being in harmony with God's work.

Incorporating the Amesha Spentas into one's way of life, leads to a shared sets of traits by which Zoroastrians have been recognized throughout history.

Zoroastrian Ethos

In the Vaetha Nask, a Zoroastrian text, a question is asked about how a person can be recognized as a Zoroastrian. The answer given is through that person's good mind, intellect without deceitfulness, good speech and good actions. Middle Persian texts and travellers' observations about the shared characteristics of the Zoroastrians they encountered, provide us with additional information. The following are some traits and qualities that contributed to the reputation of Zoroastrians:

The Zoroastrian ethos was developed into a list of guiding principles that is read out during a Zoroastrian marriage ceremony.

Amongst travellers' records are the observations of Johan Albrecht de Mandelslo, a German adventurer from 1638 CE, and those of an Anglican chaplain John Ovington in 1689 CE.

In the chronicles of his travels through Persia and India, Mandelslo writes that he saw the Zoroastrians of India, the Parsees, as 'diligent', 'conscientious' and 'skilful' in their work ethic.

John Ovington, a chaplain in the Royal Navy, reported in his work, Voyage to Surat published in 1696 CE, that in the Indian Gujerati city of Surat, Zoroastrians "assist the poor and are ready to provide for the sustenance and comfort of such as want it. Their universal kindness, either employing such as are ready and able to work, or bestowing a seasonable bounteous charity to such as are infirm and miserable, leave no man destitute of relief, nor suffer a beggar in all their tribe."

More recently, after a visit to Yazd Iran, Karl Vick wrote in a June 18, 2006 article in the Washington Post: "Zoroastrians appear to enjoy the most respect (by the majority Muslims from amongst the other religious minorities) inside Iran... Zoroastrians enjoy a vivid reputation for honesty. Prices in a shop owned by a Zoroastrian are regarded as the benchmark that competing shops are compared against. Children are told that when arriving in a strange town near dark, seek out a Zoroastrian home to spend the night in. 'I'm sorry to say it and it might sound offensive, but these Zoroastrians are better Muslims than we are,' said Mohammad Pardehbaff, a Yazd driver."

The Relationship of Human Beings to Nature and the Environment

Lush Gardens - Paradise

Bagh - Pairidaeza

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Zoroastrian Religious Texts - the Avesta and Zand

Books of the Avesta

The original Avesta has been destroyed and some portions survive. The surviving reconstituted Avesta can be organized in various ways. One way is to organize them as five books:

Size and Extent of the Original Avesta

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How Zarathushtra's Teachings Were Preserved and Destroyed

Composition, Transmission & Preservation

Zarathushtra (also spelt Zarathustra) memorized and conveyed his ideas and teaching through hymns called the Gathas. It is probable that writing was not known during Zarathushtra's time. The verses of the Gathas were memorized and sung by his followers, thereby in turn conveying the ideas to others and subsequent generations. When priests, the Magi, were introduced to the religion, their task was to memorize the hymns. The method proved very effective in preserving the teachings - so effective that the hymns continued to be faithfully memorized, shared and transmitted even when the language of the people reciting the verses changed and the meaning of the verses was lost.

Destruction of the Avesta

Successive invasions of Persia (Iran) resulted in the destruction of the bulk of the Zoroastrian scriptures, the Avesta. The first was Alexander of Macedonia's invasion in 330 BCE accompanied by senseless devastation and the mass killing of priests who carried the verbal tradition. Between 640-650 CE came the Arab invasion bent on mass conversions and the burning of the Avesta. What fragments were left or secreted away were further destroyed by the extremely violent Mongol and Turkic invasions with the extermination of entire communities.

Today, out of the twenty one books of the Sassanian era Avesta, only one complete book and fragments of others survive. The surviving texts are nevertheless one and a half times the size of the Koran, and are and arranged as five books plus fragments.

For further details, see Compilation & Destruction of the Avesta.

Mathra / Manthra

A verse of the Avesta, and more specifically a verse of the Gathas, was called a mathra or manthra - insightful thoughts (thoughts for reflection, contemplation and meditation). Reciting a manthra today, even when the ancient words are poorly understood, has a calming, soothing effect that allows the mind to refocus itself.

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Traditional Name of the Religion

Daena Vanguhi Mazdayasni / Behdin Mazdayasna

Zoroastrianism is a name given to the religion by the west. The traditional names of the religion are Behdin meaning Good Religion and Mazdayasna / Mazdayasni meaning worship of God - used separately or together.

A more complete Avestan name is found in the Fravarane, the pledge of faith, namely, Daenam Vanghuhim Mazdayasnim or, Daena Vanguhi Mazdayasni (further modernized as Behdin Mazdayasna), meaning the highest discerning belief in worship of God.

In ancient inscriptions there is scant use of Zarathushtra's name. Since other religions are commonly ascribed to a person, non-Zoroastrians are puzzled by the lack of use of Zoroaster's name. The covenants made by Zoroastrians in prayer are to a belief and to a way of life - not to a person. Zoroastrians hold that a religion focused on a person is a cult rather than a religion based on spiritual, personal and societal development. Zoroastrianism is a way of being and is not focused on the personage of Zarathushtra (also spelt Zarathustra).

We will use the name 'Zoroastrianism' in these pages since it is the common English language name for the religion.

Labels Placed on Zoroastrianism

The name Zoroastrianism and labels such as monotheism, monism, dualism, pantheism and panentheism have been imposed on the Daenam Vanghuhim Mazdayasnim by those seeing or seeking to understand the religion through western frames of reference. However, these labels have become value laden, and can cause misunderstandings and confusion about the religion. In addition, the labels produce a confirmation bias on the part of those who wish to prove their understanding of 'Zoroastrianism' must necessarily fit one of the models. This invariably leads to divisiveness and a change in focus from what Zoroastrianism means in every thought, word and deed, towards the need to prove someone's point of view embedded in a label.

The Daenam Vanghuhim Mazdayasnim has its own philosophical and belief system which is unique and for which western labels do not apply.

Zoroastrians have always been known and recognized not by the labels imposed on them or their religion, but by their upright character, generous community spirit, and their reverence for all of creation. The efficacy of their beliefs is not found in thoughts relegated to a life of philosophical enlightenment in seclusion, or words consumed by futile and divisive debates, but rather by beneficent and constructive deeds.

We suggest that the reader suspend assumptions and prejudgments while seeking to understand Zoroastrianism for what it is - a religion understood by its adherents not by what is found in books or philosophical arguments, but by the way of life and principles passed down through the generations as a heritage. The Zoroastrianism that has lived from its inception, and, which lives in the heart of its adherents is a way of being and living. It is quite different, indeed alien, from the supposed 'Zoroastrianism' that is labelled and debated in western literature. The former is authentic. The latter is manufactured.

The Eternal Flame

Zoroastrians turn towards a flame or a source of light when they worship. At the heart of a Zoroastrian place of worship burns a fire - and where possible the fire burns continuously as an ever-burning flame symbolizing an eternal spiritual flame.

The temporal fire represents the spiritual flame within us, the divine fire of creation, and the undying ethical values of Asha: honesty, order, beneficence, fairness and justice. The symbolism of the eternal flame in Zoroastrianism can be compared to the symbolism of the Olympic flame - it symbolizes core ethical values and principles. The ritual in lighting the Olympic flame and in its installation, the reverence with which the flame is treated, and the awe the flame inspires, are all very Zoroastrian-like. While it is the values behind the flame that are at the core of its symbolism, the flame in this context acquires an aura of sacredness, for to harm or sully the flame means harm to the values represented (in a fashion similar to the manner in which a nation's flag acquires an aura of sacredness. Desecrating such a flag can cause great offense for it is not the cloth of the flag being desecrated but everything the flag represents).

In Zoroastrianism, light represents wisdom while darkness represents ignorance. Ignorance and darkness are the absence of wisdom and light. Indeed, a contemplation of the fire reveals all the values and principles at the heart of Zoroastrianism.

The passing of Zoroastrian ideas and values from one person to the next is symbolized by a new flame being lit from an existing one. When these ideas and values are passed from one generation to another without interruption, we have the notion of an ever-burning 'eternal' flame, one that will endure the passage of time and our mortal lives.

The concept of an eternal flame is now widely used throughout the world - as are other Zoroastrian concepts and ideas.