Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Who was Zoroaster?

A: Zoroaster is historically the first person who founded a universal religion, above race, tribe, class and nation  3737 years ago. Zoroaster is, through Greek, the Anglicized form of his name Zarathushtra.

Q:  What is his religion called?

A:  He called it Daęnâ Vańuhi, meaning “Good Religion.” It is known as Daęnâ Mâzdayasni, meaning “The Religion of Venerating the Wise Being – God.” It is also called Zarathushtri, meaning “Zoroastrian.” The term “Zoroastrianism” has been used in English since 1854. The easiest name is the Zoroastrian Religion.

Q: What are your holy scriptures?

A: Zarathushtra has left us his entire Message in seventeen songs, called the Gâthâs,” a pocket book of guidelines. They are Mâńthra, “thought-provokers.” They make one contemplate, comprehend, comply and complete his/her life as an active member of the human society.  They are simultaneously sincere prayers to God and fundamental guide for mankind to lead a positive, progressive and modern life. Zarathushtra’s companions and successors composed more prayers and guidelines in the Gathic spirit. This small collection is in the Gathic dialect of Avesta.

Later, the authorities in charge added pre-Zarathushtrian materials and their own compositions on myth, legend, history, geography, society, occupation, profession, health, hygiene, medicine, eschatology, and other day-today prescriptions and proscriptions of their times and climes to constitute a voluminous literature. This literature is in the Later Avestan dialect.

Still later, more material were added as translation, explanation, interpretation and commentary in Middle Persian and modern Persian languages.

All of them are collectively called as the Zoroastrian Scriptures. The fact, however, remains that Zarathushtra has left us his Divine Message only in the Gathas. They constitute an ever-new lead.

Q: Is it true that Zoroastrians believe in two gods – one God of Good and the other God of Evil?

A: No. Zarathushtra is the first person who realized and firmly believed in Monotheism. His Monotheism is unique. There is one God, the continuous Creator, Maintainer, and Promoter of the Universe. Zarathushtra named his God “Mazdâ,” meaning “Super Intellect, Supreme Wisdom.” Since God is “Essence, Being,” he retained “Ahura” for the Supreme Being. Later the two components were combined as “Ahura Mazda,” freely translated as Wise God or Wise Lord.

Q:  What about the Dualism ascribed to Zoroastrianism?

A: It has two phases: The Gathic and the Later Avestan.

The Gathic dualism of good and evil emanates from human mind and is translated into words and deeds. Human mind thinks good, speaks good, and does good to the human society and environment, or on the contrary, thinks evil and the consequence of its words and deeds are harmful. All that benefits the living world of ours is good and all that harms it is evil. Good has good as its reward and evil has evil as its consequence. The Gathas guide to replace all social evils by ever improving goodness. Outside the human society the entire universe is a good, orderly creation of Mazda. It is progressing. It has no evil to stop or retard it.

The Later Avestan dualism is cosmic. It speaks of the Ahura Mazda who created a good, orderly universe and the Adversary, Anghra Mainyu, who disturbs the stability, hurts the progress and destroys the creation. All death and destruction are the work of the Evil. The two are engaged in a continuous war until Ahura Mazda emerges victorious and the Evil and its brood are destroyed.

Q: Does Zoroastrianism have a pantheon?

A: The Good Religion does not have a pantheon. Its monotheism is unique. There is one God – Mazda, the Creator, Maintainer and Promoter. No assisting gods and goddesses. No serving angels and spirits.

The later “institutionalized” Zoroastrianism has an elaborate pantheon. It is in fact a henotheist order. Ahura Mazda is the supreme god – the greatest deity, mazishta yazata, meaning “the greatest adorable [deity].” He has many deities, male and female yazatas, assisting Him in maintaining His creation. Mithra, the male yazata of Covenant; Verethraghna, the male yazata of victory; Anâhitâ, the female yazata of waters and fertility; Vayu, the male yazata of wind; and Tishtrya, the male yazata of rain are among the pre-Zarathushtrian Aryan deities reinstated in the institutionalized order. A number of Gathic abstract “Principles of Life” have also been personified as yazatas to join the large pantheon. There are myriads of Fravashis, translated as “Guardian Spirits” who also help God in maintaining His creation.

Q: What are the “Primal Principles of Life?”

A: Mazda has made a number of “Primal Principles of Life” in order to creating, maintaining and promoting the universe. They are Asha, the law of precision; Vohu Manah, good thinking; Vohu Khshathra, good dominion, good order; Spenta Âramaiti, progressive serenity; Seraosha, divine communion; and a few more. All these lead to Haurvatât, wholeness, supreme excellence, and Ameretât, immortality.

Q: Does Zoroastrianism have sects and denominations?

A: Zoroastrianism had its sects, denominations and different schools of thought, especially during the tolerant periods of the Median, Achaemenian and Parthian empires (708 BCE to 224 CE) but they suffered a setback during the secular rule of the Sassanians (224-652 CE). The ruling school prevailed. It is this school that has survived with its beliefs, traditions and customs after the downfall of the Sassanian Empire to this day. There are three major denominations, the Shahenshahis of India known as Parsis, the Qadimis of Iran, and the Faslis. The main difference is the calendar issue. The Shahenshahis and the Qadimis use a “non-intercalating” calendar of 360 days. However, their New Years are one full month of 30 days apart. The Faslis have a perfect calendar of 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45.5 seconds. The year begins on the first day of spring, on about 21 March. The Parsis have three sub-divisions of “Traditionalists.” They are the common faithful, the Ilm-e Khshnumists, and the Pandole Group. The last two are occult schools. The Iranian Zoroastrians, all following the Fasli calendar, have no sub-divisions.

The reform movement begun in the 19th century by Parsi scholars has led Zoroastrians to turn to the basic teachings of Zarathushtra as given in the Gathas. Iranian Zoroastrians have almost all become reformists. The reform movement among Parsis, although begun by them, has been slow. Zoroastrian settlers in Western countries are turning more and more to reformation.

The Zarathushtrian Assembly was formed in Los Angeles in 1990 to restore the religion to its “pristine purity” and to meet the increasing demand of those who want to choose the Good Religion, the first “universal” religion. The Assembly follows the pristine pure Gathic Guidance. While treasuring old traditions and customs, it does not follow those, which have become outdated and/or do not conform to the Gathic Teachings.

Q: What about the talk that Zoroastrians do not accept converts?

A: It is only the “Traditionalist” Parsis who do not believe in conversion and acceptance. For them, only a person born of Zoroastrian parents is “Zoroastrian” because they believe that religion is pre-destined by God. Some of them now accept a child born of Zoroastrian father and non-Zoroastrian mother. Some reformists accept a child born of Zoroastrian mother and non-Zoroastrian father. Others accept converts from any religion or belief. However, none of the reformist schools are active missionaries.

The Zarathushtrian Assembly follows the Good Religion of Zarathushtra, the first and foremost missionary religion on historical record. The Good Religion spread only through convincing words of mouth and not through force, allurement, solicitation, and/or seduction over 2,000 years to become the major religion of its time. It has dwindled to a minute minority because of the lack of its inherent missionary zeal.

The Good Religion is the only religion which advocates a fair knowledge of comparative studies and advocates Free Will to choose the religion one considers the best. The Good Religion is for all mankind and the Zarathushtrian Assembly faithfully follows this principle in peacefully practicing, preaching and teaching the ever-fresh, ever-modern Message of Zarathushtra to all mankind.

For more details click the following links:

The Gathas - A Glance 
Salient Points  
The Religion
(Life Story)

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