More correctly, Zarathustra. He was the Legislator and Prophet of the ancient Bactrians, out of whose doctrines the modern religion of the Parsees has been developed. The Parsees say that their Prophet was a contemporary of Hystaspes, the father of Darius, and accordingly place his era at 550 B.C.

The religion of Zoroaster finds its origin in a social, political, and religious schism of the Bactrian Iranians from the primitive Aryans. These latter led a nomadic and pastoral life in their native home, and continued the same habits after their emigration. But a portion of these tribes, whom Haug calls the proper Iranians, becoming weary of these wanderings, after they had reached the highlands of Bactria abandoned the pastoral and wandering life of their ancestors, and directed their attention to agriculture. This political secession was soon followed by wars, principally of a predatory kind, waged, for the purpose of booty, by the nomadic Aryans on the agricultural settlements of the Iranians, whose rich fields were tempting objects to the spoilers. The political estrangement was speedily and naturally followed by a religious one. It was at this time that Zoroaster appeared, and, denouncing the nature-worship of the old Aryian faith, established his spiritual religion, in which, says Bunsen, "the antagonisms of light and darkness, of sunshine and storm, become transformed into antagonisms of good and evil, of powers exerting a beneficent or corrupting influence on the mind." The doctrine of pure Zoroastrianism was monotheistic. The Supreme Being was called Ahuramazda, and Haug says that Zoroaster's conception of him was perfectly identical with the Jewish notion of Jehovah. He is referred to as "the Creator of the earthly and spiritual life, the Lord of the whole universe, at whose hands are all the creatures." He is wisdom and intellect; the light itself, and the source of light; the rewarder of the virtuous and the punisher of the wicked.

Zoroaster taught the idea of a future life and the immortality of the soul. The doctrine of the resurrection is one of the principal dogmas of the Zendavesta. He also clearly inculcated the belief of a heaven and a hell. The former was called the House of Hymns, because the angels were supposed to sing hymns there; and the latter the House of Destruction, and to it were relentlessly consigned the poets and Priests of the old Aryian religion. The doctrine of sacred names, so familiar to the Hebrews, was also taught by Zoroaster. In one of the Yashts, a portion of the Zendavesta, Ahuramazda tells Zarathrustra that the utterance of one of his sacred names, of which he enumerates twenty, is the best protection from evil. Of these names, one is ahmi, meaning I am, and another, ahmi yat amhi, I am who I am. The reader will be reminded here of the Holy Name in Exodus, Ehyeh asher Ehyeh, or I am that I am.

This page is adapted from the Glossary at Phoenixmasonry — Used with permission.

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