Zoroastrianism is an ancient Persian religion from the pre-Islamic region of modern day Iran. Although it still exists in isolated areas of Iran, it is more popular in India where the descendants of Zoroastrian Persians known as Parsis, (or Parsees) immigrated in the seventh century. In India the religion is called Parsiism. There are an estimated 140,000 adherents of Zoroastrianism worldwide, with about half that number living in India. Founded by the Iranian prophet and reformer Zoroaster (or Zarathushtra) in the 6th century BC, the religion contains both monotheistic and dualistic features. Many people believe that its teachings impacted the other monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
According to the Zoroastrian holy book called the Gathas, two great spirits called Vahyo (good) and Akem (bad) are opposed in thought, word, and deed. This moral dualism is the basis for the teachings of Zoroastrianism. Zoroaster envisioned two worlds; Manhaya (the spiritual) and Astavat (the material).
Zoroastrianism has seven main precepts:
- Moral/cosmic dualism
- Eternal law of truth
- Bounteous good spirit
- The law of consequences
- Immortality of the soul
- Ultimate triumph of good over evil
Zoroaster referred to the creator as Ahura Mazda (lord of life and wisdom). Ahura Mazda has six main attributes:
- Sublime wisdom
- Truth, justice, and righteousness
- Boundless constructive power
- Universal love, tranquility, and peace
- Wholeness and perfection
Although these views differ considerably from the Judeo-Christian view of God, Zoroastrianism bears far more resemblance to Western theology than other religions of the far East.