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In Search of Zarathushtra –
The First Prophet and the Ideas that changed the World

Author: Paul Kriwaczek, Published 2003

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In Search of Zarathustra


Paul Kriwaczek















About the Author: 
Paul Kriwaczek was born in Vienna in 1937. At the age of two he fled Vienna and the Nazi threat with his parents, eventually arriving in England. After qualifying as a dental surgeon in 1962 and traveling extensively in Asia and Africa – including a two-year stint as the only European dentist in Kabul – he joined the BBC as a specialist in Central and South Asian affairs, and then BBC Television as a producer. He took up writing full-time in the 1990s. As of 2003 Paul Kriwaczek lived in London, UK.

About the Book: 
Paul Kriwaczek has done a fine job of accumulating considerable amount of varied and interesting information to showcase the influence of Zarathushtra’s thought on  the evolution of human civilizations in the course of ensuing years.  The motivation for Dr. Kriwaczek’s commendable work seems to have been his personal interest in the subject.  As evidenced by the theme of the various chapters of the book (The True Philosopher, The Great Heresy, The Religion of Light, The Mystery of Mithras, The End of Time, By Grace of Ahura Mazda, The First Prophet) this book covers the subject of Zarathushtra’s contributions from different angles.

On the other hand, this well written  book does have a few drawbacks described below.  The readers are advised to keep these points in mind as they read the book. 

  • Given that Mr. Kriwaczek is not a scholar of the Zarathushtrian religion his assertions when it comes to matters of Zarathushtrian theology are drawn from his sources.  As such the accuracy of his assertions are only as good as the sources he has used.  As an example, on page page 61 of his book under the heading “The Great Heresy” Dr. Kriwaczek makes the unfortunate mistake of attributing a cosmic dualistic view of the world to Zarathushtra.  That mistaken notion of Zarathushtrianism is drawn from the Sasanian era understandings of Zarathushtrianism that was heavily influenced by the Zurvanite thought.[1]  With the knowledge of the already ancient Gathic language very scant, the essence of Zarathushtra’s message was not well understood by the Sassanians.

    Fortunately due to the advances made in the past two centuries, we have have the benefit of understanding
    [2] Zarathushtra view, something the Sasaians were not privileged to. The dualism Zarathushtra introduces is ethical dualism where each individual has the freedom to choose between right and wrong with the moral responsibility to make the right choices.[3]

  • Some of the inferences the authors draws  from the patterns of behaviors he has observed in contemporary Iran and the parallels he tries to establish with Pre-Islamic Iran cannot be supported by any historical evidence and are highly speculative.  

Overall reading this book is recommended to get a perspective on Zarathustra’s contributions.  Here are a few interesting comments reproduced from the book to give a better sense of the coverage of the book.

  • The inside cover reads as follows:

    "A fascinating journey through time and across Europe and Central Asia, in search of the prophet Zarathustra (a.k.a. Zoroaster) - perhaps the
    greatest religious lawgiver of the ancient world--and his vast influence.

In Persia more than three thousand years ago, Zarathustra spoke of a single universal god, the battle between good and evil, the devil, heaven and hell and an eventual end to the world--foreshadowing the core beliefs of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Moving from present to past, Paul Kriwaczek examines the effects of the prophet's teachings on the spiritual and daily lives of diverse peoples. Beginning in the year 2000 with New Year's festivities in Iran, he walks us back through Nietzsche's nineteenth-century interpretation of Zarathustra to the Cathars of thirteenth-century France and the ninth-century Bulgars; from ancient Rome to the time of Alexander destruction of the Persian Empire; and, finally, to the time of Zarathustra himself.

Not only an enthralling travel book, "In Search of Zarathustra" is also a revelation of the importance of the prophet, and a brilliantly conceived and lucid explication of the belief systems that helped shape the European Enlightenment, the Middle Ages, the Dark Ages, and the beginning of the Christian era. It is an enthralling study of a little-explored subject."

  • Christopher Hudson of Daily Mirror (UK) comments about the book:

“A delightful, informative quest. The author’s journey takes him from a teaching college in Samarqand  to ancient dolmens outside the shattered city of Sarajevo, from the remains of a Zoroastrian fire-temple in northern Afghanistan to the snow-covered ruins of another temple by Hadrian’s Wall”

  • Peter Stanford writing for The Independent (UK) comments:

“Kriwaczek has hit upon a fascinating and neglected subject, which he is well-equipped to illuminate. [He takes] his readers back to ancient times with imagination and style, moving deftly between the present, the recent past, and the mist of time.” 

“Interestingly on one of the first pages of his book, Paul Kriwaczek reproduces an English rendering of the lyrics of a recent musical production in Farsi by the popular Iranian female singer Googosh.

A generation of Iranians watched as the bubbly Googosh of Azerbaijani parentage grew up on the newly established Iranian TV of the 1960s. Her songs captivated many Farsi speaking people.

With the advent of the Islamic revolution when female vocals were banned from public display, Googosh who had was not heard from.  The only time the Iranian public heard of her, was when a diplomatic delegation from the newly independent Tajikistan visited the Iranian capital and requested to visit with the Diva.

Finally after the passage of over 22 years, Googosh was allowed to leave her homeland and performed in front of record crowds of her expatriates in North America, Europe and the Middle East. The first album she produced after that long period was entitled "Zarathushtra", with one of the tracks on that album entitled the same. Singing with a solemn voice these are the thoughts she

No, I don't sing anymore,
They say it's a sin!
In my ancient beautiful homeland,
hich is older than history itself,
Who decided that singing is a crime
Though Zarathushtra fertilized this land with his songs

[1] Available from www.amazon.com
[2] “Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices”, Mary Boyce, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979, pp. 118
[3] Mobed, Keikhosrow
[4] The Freedom to Choose (www.vohuman.org web site)