Most Zoroastrians are pantheists and not panentheists. Let's not add more Abrahamism then there has to be to our faith. Ahura Mazda does not have any "lord" in it. It means supreme intellect-being in Avesta.
Since the Gathic text speaks of a land between two rivers, modern Uzbekistan is the most likely location of Vishtaspa's land. Central Asia is a safe bet.
And whether Zarathushtra was literate or illterate is beside the point. Whoever wrote down The Gathas - Zarathushtra himself or some disciple - was clearly literate.
2010/1/4 Special Kain
THUMBS UP!!! :-)
I have three major (or minor) points, though:
(1) Wasn't Zarathushtra an illiterate?
(2) Anyone who translates Ahura Mazda to «Lord of Wisdom» or «The Wise Lord» doesn't understand what Ahura means. It must be something along the lines of «supreme being» or «that which is», «that which exists».
(3) According to panentheists like Jafarey, Zoroastrian theology is deistic, meaning that a spooky father figure once created this world, but left shortly afterwards and doesn't intervene in anything going on in his creation anymore. But anyone who aspires to understand the world and its own nature will see that spooky father figure for what he is, namely: the almighty creator of all existence. Even if we live in accordance with Asha, he won't come down from wherever he's been taking a nap and shake our hands.
But It would be more precise to mention the many pantheists: fellow Zoroastrians who don't believe in the tale of the spooky father figure, but rather see the universe and all the stars within as divine - especially our capacity to think (Mazda). So anyone who has learned to cope with existence more creatively and intelligently and to contribute constructively to civilization lives in accordance with Asha - whether they're panentheists or pantheists. There are two sides to the very same coin and it's important to mention both of them.
Keep up the good work!
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Betreff: [Ushta] Who is Zarathushtra?
Datum: Montag, 4. Januar 2010, 10:52
The Following is a article which I just finished writing, which I plan to publish to my website Zarathushtra. org after I get some suggestions and feedback from the group. Most of it I wrote myself (I would say about 3/4), the other 1/4 was copied and edited into my own wordings. Most of it is based on some books I've been reading as well as research I have been doing on the web.
If anyone can spot anything which might be wrong, or that you would like the contribute or fix, I am more than willing to make changes to the article before publishing it to my site.
Who is Zarathushtra?
Zarathushtra, also known as Zoroaster in Greek, and Zartosht in Farsi, lived about 3700-3800 years ago, in the beautiful and fertile land of the Aryana Vaeja (Or the VejAryana as it was known by its Sanskrit contemporaries to the South). This man was a Teacher, Philosopher/ Poetical Prophet, Astronomer, and Mathematician, but most of all he was the Mâñthran - "the giver of the Manthra". This is how he refers to himself in the Gathas, which are the only remaining 100% unchanged and untampered product of his life which have survived the turmoil, and sometimes darker side of history to this very day.
The Gathas are composed in Gathic Avestan, which is the oldest reconstructed language of Indo-European origin (e.g. Latin, Hellenic, Sanskrit, Italic, Germanic, Persian, etc.), a remarkebly close cousin to the contemporary Sanskrit of 3700 years ago. The Gathas are universally acknowledged and accepted to be the actual words and thoughts of Zarathushtra himself. No other Western religion has preserved the words of the founder himself. The Jewish Torah, though called the Books of Moses, is edited from ancient traditions and contains no actual writing of Moses. Jesus' words are preserved in the Gospels, but he never wrote anything himself, and many of the gospels were recorded years after his life, by many different authors. And most recently, according to Mohammed in the Quran, its verses were dictated to him from a heavenly being (or as others legends recount, a heretical-Zoroastri an companion of his), which he remembered and recounted to his scribes later on.
Even when the language of the Gathas became virtually extinct around 1000-800 BC, the Gathas were recited by priests in an oral tradition, and then written down and preserved textually in the latter Avestan script. The rhythmatic meter, the rhetoric, and the ritual language kept the poems amazingly well-preserved, and they were sung and celebrated yearly throughout their 3700 year-long lifespan, even though the priests and the laity no longer understood the language of the Gathas, until the modern era when Gathic Avestan was finally reconstructed and the Gathas were translated and resurrected back into multiple languages, thanks to the zealous work of dedicated scholars and professors within the past 100 years. The very words, thoughts, and teachings of Zarathushtra have found new life in this world, and are here to guide and progress the whole of this living planet towards a better future, so that the creation can continue to evolve (Physically and Spiritually) towards completeness.
Besides what is in the Gathas, very little else is known about Zarathushtra for sure. There are many legends and myths which were created by priests, as well as latter Iranian Poets of the Safavid era such as Firdousi. Let us disregard these myths and preserve them merely for cultural sake.
What we do know about Zarathushtra is that he grew up in a priestly family (we know this because of he was an Athravan, which refers to the priestly-class he grew up in) of practicing Proto-Hindu polytheists, refered to by Zarathushtra as Daevayasni's, worshippers of false gods. Zarathushtra taught for the first time that there is only one God, Ahura Mazda (this was a new term which Zarathushtra himself coined, it has been translated as Lord of Wisdom, hence he named his new-founded religion Mazdayasna, the worship of the Great Wisdom).
From early on in his life, Zarathushtra began to question things. He had a deep desire to understand the true nature of reality. Zarathushtra became aware of the corruption which existed in the ritualistic activities of the Daevayasni priests, who through the ignorance and fear present in the population of the uneducated laity, these corrupt priests were able to scare and manipulate the masses for their own worldly benefits. Zarathushtra was very upset and distressed by this, so he began to speak against it. Not even his parents would listen to him, and soon they grew tired of their son, who would not comply with the ritualistic orthodoxy of Daevayasna. It is said that around age 20, Zarathushtra left his home, his land, and his family, and he ventured towards the mountains, where he sought out the truth through meditation and observation of nature. This is where Zarathushtra' s life took a profound leap towards an unprecedented understanding of nature, reality, and the creator.
Years later, Zarathushtra returned to the land of his home and his family with his newly formed philosophy, ready to share with his community the many revelations that he had while in the mountains. He had hoped that the community would except his teachings, but his hopes were not met. The people were unwilling to give up their Daevayasni way of life. As true as Zarathushtra' s teachings are, it is hard for someone who has been deluded all their life to understand and except a new doctrine. So Zarathushtra needed to simplify his teachings for everyone, while at the same time still reserving the truth of reality and helping people to comprehend the nature of this existance and to make the best of it.
This time, however, Zarathushtra was met with resistance from the leaders, priests and laity of his homeland, and he and a few of his only followers were expelled from the community. Zarathushtra recorded this event in Song 11 of the Gathas, as follows:
"To what land should I turn? Where should I turn to go? They hold me back from my folks and friends. Neither the community I follow pleases me, nor do the wrongful rulers of the land. How can I please You, Wise God?"
Zarathushtra does not know what to do, so he prays to God for help through good mind:
"I know, Wise One, that I am powerless. I have a few cattle and also a few men. I appeal to You. Please, Lord, see to it. Lend me the help a friend gives a friend. Grant, through righteousness, the riches of good mind."
According to Zarathushtra, Good Mind is the only gift which God can grant through prayer:
"Whoever is united with me, I promise him the best through good mind, my only riches. But I oppose him who places himself in opposition to us. Wise One, I want to please You, because this is the discernment of my intellect and mind."
It is believed that around age 40, Zarathushtra and his followers found their way to the court of King Vishtasp in Bactria, believed to be modern-day Afghanistan. There, Zarathushtra is given the chance to explain the truth of his philosophy to the king. King Vishtasp is so impressed with Zarathushtra' s explanation of the Creation, in which Ahura Mazda zealously and lovingly manifests himself through the progressive and beneficent process of Evolution, namely the 7 chronological creations: (1) Sky and Luminaries (including Fire); (2) Water (3) Earth coming out of the waters; (4) the Mineral Kingdom; (5) the Vegetable Kingdom; (6) the Animal Creation; and finally; (7) Mankind.
According to Zarathushtra, the orderliness which regulates all natural phenomena in the universe would lead man to the only rational conclusion that there is a most-wise Intelligence (Ahura Mazda), which through its mind fashioned for us this physical reality, and put forth the fundamental laws of nature into place at the beginning so that the cosmos could continue down a miraculous path of progressive growth and development. Zarathushtra refers to this fundamental law of nature as a part of Asha. According to Ali A. Jafary's translation of the Gathas, Asha stands for "truth, order, righteousness. " It is the universal law of righteous precision. It may best be explained by stating that it means "to do the right thing, at the right time, in the right place, and with the right means in order to obtain the right result." It would be something which is of constructive and loving benefit not only for oneself but also for one's fellow creatures and for God. It is constructive, beneficial and unselfish precision par excellence. It has been translated as righteousness and precision. Asha is one of main "Primal Principles of Life".
With the public conversion of King Vishtasp to Zarathushtra' s philosophy, followed by the Queen and then the courtiers, a turning-point for Mazdayasna took place in which it would result in the rapid expansion of Mazdayasna throughout the Iranian plateau. From here on out, it was smooth sailing for the great teacher Zarathushtra, who lived a long and happy life with his family and followers until the age of 77.