Thoughts on Zoroastrianism

Andrea Zuvich

05/27/2005

Zoroastrianism, or Parsis, the ancient religion founded by a man called Zoroaster, has many extraordinary elements that have been widely adopted by other religions. The elements of Zoroastrianism are found in many of today’s most popular religions. Several of its effects (or characteristics) can be seen in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. There are no elements of Zoroastrianism in my religion, for the fact is I have none. However, I do agree with one of the concepts of Zoroastrianism, Happiness. I also think that happiness can come into one’s life when one does things to make others happy. Just as an example, I work in a nursing home part-time not because of the money (which is not much, mind you) but because I can speak with the residents and perhaps brighten up their day. When I make one of them smile or laugh, it makes me feel happy. So, yes, I do agree with the Zoroastrian concept of “Make happy, be happy.”  Also, Zoroastrianism does not diminish or violate my beliefs one bit.  Therefore, in order to answer the question I shall base my answers upon the religion I was raised with: Roman Catholicism.

In Western Catholicism, there is a widely held belief that there is a God and a Satan, and there was also this same belief in the religion of Zoroastrianism before the Christians came to be. Other similarities include the following: humans having souls; the idea of there being a heaven and a hell; a Resurrection idea; et cetera (Chamberlain, page 77). Now, we know that in some ancient cultures, for example, in Ancient Egypt, people believed that the soul would go on to the afterlife after death. This may have been a widespread belief throughout parts of the world by the time Zoroastrianism got started.

The commonality that arises between Zoroastrianism and many other religions must be due to location. Zoroastrianism and Christianity were founded in the same general area; therefore, communalities between both should not be unexpected. Those who followed either faith were people who had seen the same things in life, worked as hard and thought that what was around them was basically all. Nonetheless, due to all the ways other religions have imitated Zoroastrianism, I have been convinced that it is much older than Christianity, Judaism and Islam. I think the idea that it was founded around 6,000 B.C.E. is a bit of a stretch. It seems a better idea that it was founded 2 to 3,000 years ago, in my opinion.

I do not think that Zoroastrianism diminishes any religion because it is what it is, and those who thought it correct, adopted it into their own religion.  I find that too many religious people get easily offended when one mentions the fact that their religion adopted some or all the characteristics of another religion. Just the other day, I was speaking with a devout Christian and I stated the fact that Christian holidays were for the most part, set up on days that were holy days for pagans. Now, this Christian lady got extremely offended, “How dare you say that God’s holy days were originally created for those barbarians!” Which goes to show us that people still have no idea where their religions began or what the significance of the dates really meant in those times. I think that no religion can diminish another religion because a religion is just that. It is a belief system that like-minded people use to try to understand things in life.

I, for one, find it fascinating that different religions can be set up and carry some of the same elements of another with such similarity. I must admit that being in a predominantly Christian society, I had previously not known about Zoroastrianism. Even though it has a smaller following than Christianity- that does not make it inferior by any means, for it truly is an interesting religion to learn about.

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