Bactria and Zoroaster

Bactria and its capital Bactra may have been forgotten in the West, but not in Iran, as this message from Nushin Namazi tells: "In addition to this recent discovery of gold, Bactra (Paktra - Iranian name) is a sacred Iranian city. It was from Bactra that came Zoroaster (Zardosht). Bactra was also the spiritual home of the great temple of the ancient Iranian goddess, Anahit (in Pahlavi or Middle-Persian) and Anahita (Ânâhitâ) in the Avesta hymns. Zoroaster was
the Persian philosopher who established Zoroasterianism which was the foundation for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Zoroaster appeared during the reign of Gushtaspa at "Bactra the beautiful, city of the high - streaming banner". Zoroaster's wife's family were very influential in the Royal court, and that helped Zoroaster spread his religion. Hence, Bactria became the heart of the new creed. According to Ferdowsi, the Persian poet, Zarathushtra was killed by an invading Scythian party in front of his fire-altar, in Balkh (Bactra).The good and ethical religion of Zoroaster was adopted by Cyrus the Great, who founded the first world empire, uniting the Iranians, known as the Achaemenian empire. It was based on the Zoroastrian doctrine of freedom, benevolence, tolerance, and progress; a universal religion which knows no sex, race, color, or national barriers. Upon conquering Babylon, Cyrus issued the first International Human Rights Charter 2500 years ago, and this charter hangs in the United Nations today.
Below is a link to the history of Bactra (Paktra)".

RH: This has great importance in the contemporary world. Militant Islam crushed the vibrant Christianity of which North Africa was the center, and of which only the struggling Coptic Church remains. In the East, Islam crushed Zoroastrianism. Many Zoroastrians fled to Bombay. where they survived as the Parsis. Now some Egyptians are denying that they are Arabs, whom they view as destroyers of their ancient civilization. Is there a similar movement among the Iranians? A Zoroastrian regime would be much more humane that that of the mullahs, to whom however, Western-style democracy may be the most likely successor.

Zoroaster is seldom mentioned in religious discussions, but it inspired Nietzsche's best known work, Thus Spake Zarathustra (1883-5) in which he developed his ideas on the death of God, the superman and the will to power. It was his effort to set up an alternative to Christianity. My impression is that he totally misrepresented the ideas of Zoroaster. Do Christopher Jones, Jim Tent and people better informed than I have any comment?

Jonathan Huyck, a comparative religions specialist, comments on the posting about Zoroaster and his faith: "I have met Iranians (secular ones, mostly) who take great pains to distance themselves from the Arab world and even Islam. I have met some who have great affection for Zoroastrianism, although I'm not sure how much they really know about it, since there are so few left in Iran. A secular Iranian recently married a very wealthy American woman here in New York, and the wedding service was pseudo-Zoroastrian. I have wondered if young Iranians fed up with the current regime might turn to Zoroastrianism, but that would be challenging, as the faith does not accept converts, from what I understand. This has made marriage very difficult for Zoroastrians, who have turned to the internet for help in the matter (as, of course, have many other groups). I'm not sure how many Zoroastrians are left in the world, but I suspect less than a million. If Iranians were to turn to a non-Islamic faith, I suspect Baha'i is the more likely candidate, since it is also Persian in origin and, unlike Zoroastrianism, happily accepts converts. RH: Not accepting converts is odd, since Zoroaster converted millions of people. Moreover, the Iranians could say they are simply reverting to their ancient faith, Islam having ben imposed on them.


Ronald Hilton -