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In Search of
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,
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.
With the knowledge of the already ancient Gathic language very scant,
the essence of Zarathushtra’s message was not well understood by the
Fortunately due to the advances made in the past two centuries, we have
have the benefit of understanding
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.
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.
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."
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
“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
They say it's a sin!
In my ancient beautiful
is older than history itself,
Who decided that singing
is a crime
fertilized this land with his songs
Available from www.amazon.com
“Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices”, Mary Boyce,
Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979, pp. 118
The Freedom to Choose (www.vohuman.org