söndag 4 oktober 2009

Zoroastrianism and Sectarianism

Except that we do not really have sects within Zoroastrianism.
The only major contemporary controversy regards conversions where a small minority of Indian Parsees - for reasons that have much more to do with Indian culture than with Zoroastrianism - still oppose conversions by outsiders. Most Parsees now do not.
But this does not make Zoroastrian culture divided. We still talk to each other: Sassanidians, Mazdayasni, Gathaists, Iranian-born, Indian-born, foreign-born, converts etc in a way you will not find within Christianity. Temples for all are vuilt, communion is shared and not split etc. You will actually not find any two Zoroastrian temples competing with each other in any city anywhere.
I guess the point is that there does not seem to be a need here to only let a specific set of people enter a heaven (as in Islam and Christianity). This is wwy sectarianism never really took hold within Zoroastrianism. It is a rather unified religion and philosophy historically speaking, tolerating and even cherishing difference of thought.

2009/10/4 Judy Weismonger


Just as there are 100s of Christian sects, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc....so there are Zoroastrians....Hmmm, should we not use a hyphenated word added to Zism for the rest of us to understand which aspect of Zism is being referred to?

Hugs, Judy

--- On Sun, 10/4/09, Parviz Varjavand wrote:

From: Parviz Varjavand

Subject: RE: [Ushta] The meaning of Ahura Mazda, Holder or Giver of High Wisdom
To: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Date: Sunday, October 4, 2009, 2:21 AM

Dear Robert,

As I get older, I am amazed how the Z religion changes on a daily basses. With one speech that one scholar may give at a Zoroastrian gathering, you will notice that changes in the religious behavior of the group has occurred the next day. This may be due to the fact that Zoroastrians are by large not obedient to any central figure and will follow their hearts and minds more readily than the followers of any other religions.

I use the word "Sassanian Zoroastrianism" in order to distinguish it from the "Back to Gatha" movement spearheaded by Mr. Jafarey and his associates. other wise you are very correct to mention that so much of the documents are post Sassanian. Our mutual friend Dr. Ali Hassouri has a book called "Akharin Shah" or "The Last King" in which he shows why Yazdgerd was not the last Sassanian king. In describing a collection of coins he calls Arab-Sassani; he shows how we have Sassanian coins that we have Arabic script on one side and the Fire Alter of the Sassanian local ruler on the other side.

Mary Boyce did a great thing to capture a cross section of the behaviors of the villagers of Sharifabad when she did so because already under the pressure from the Tehran Council of Moobeds, they are changing many of their customs. You did a monumentally great work when you recorded the realities of the shrines (Pirs) around Yazd. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and please find all your friends that you made there eager to receive you once again. The community owes you so much and please do come to see what you so carefully document ed once again, but do not get tribally disappoi nted if you see many changes. Pir e Mard is changed, Pir e koushk is changed, Pir e Bah Joli is changed, and many more.

Mehr Afzoon,
Parviz Varjavand

--- On Sat, 10/3/09, robert.langer@ ori.uni-heidelbe rg.de wrote:

From: robert.langer@ ori.uni-heidelbe rg.de

Subject: RE: [Ushta] The meaning of Ahura Mazda, Holder or Giver of High Wisdom
To: Ushta@yahoogroups. com
Date: Saturday, October 3, 2009, 1:16 PM

Dear Alexander,

as Zaneta wrote, Mary Boyce got 'socialised' , in the traditional way
an anthropologist should, by living for a year in the village of
Sharifabad, an opportunity I unfortunately never had. Her account in
"A Persian Stronghold Zoroastrianism" and moreover in her numerous
journal and book articles are a treasure for pre-industrial,
pre-modern Zoroastrianism in Iran until the 1960s, a knowledge we
would never have had without her work.

My problem with her work is rather that she unfortunately was not a
trained anthropologist, but a philologist; that is why she binds all
her findings to the Zoroastrian learned literature Parviz calls
"Sasanian" (in fact, most of the works are 'late-Sasanian' , i. e.
written already under Muslim rule up to the 9th or even 10th century),
by that essentialising in a double bind both the Sasanian as well as
the 'traditional' Zoroastrianism.

However, this adds another quality to her work, which is philological
correctness (if not over-correctness) ; a point one misses often in
anthropological and sociological works, even if done by
born-Zoroastrians themselves. (And, yes, she had a 'feminin' approach,
as she was very emphatic with the people she researched; another of
her qualities I also appreciate a lot.)

How much criticism I could think of (e. g. Euro- or Christo-centrism,
essentialism) , she was a remarkable (old-school) scholar. As for
"Mazdayasna" : She does not deal with that as it simply did not exist
at her time as a recognisable social phenomenon (to my knowledge).
There was no "Ushta-List" at her time, was there? (And this is why
students of social and cultural history, as myself, prefer to use the
"Neo-", how continuous a history of philosophy might seem and in fact
be sometimes.)

Best wishes,


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