Legend places his birth on March 26 somewhere between 1300 BC and 540 BC
Founder of Zoroastrianismby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
“From the content of Gathas it is abundantly clear that Zarathushtra was a natural man. He was an exceptionally wise and righteous person. He was Ashu – one who has reached the apex of self realization, perfection, and thenceforth immortality.”
- Dr. Farhang Mehr
An ancient Persian prophet whose life story has been told and retold among generations of followers of Zoroastrianism is a simple way to introduce a man who is definitely not so simple to describe in much detail. There are few concrete things known today about Zoroaster. He is known in ancient Persian as, Zarathushtar which means golden light or golden star. He is the founder of one of the most ancient religions in the world that is still practiced by a few people today. Since there are few facts surrounding Zoroaster’s life one must look at what information there is about him carefully. Some of the things that are supposedly known about him could very well only be legend or they could be true. It is not surprising that so much legend surrounds Zoroaster since he comes from a country where history and legend run together forming some of the most unique stories of all time.
The place of Zoroaster’s birth has been one of discussion for many years. Some people believe that he was born in Western Iran while others say that it was Eastern Iran. He was probably born somewhere around the Aral Sea, which would make his birthplace in North Eastern Iran. Zoroaster is believed descend from the ancient Magi, which come from Western ancient Iran and are a priestly line.
Throughout his childhood Zoroaster spent a lot of time outdoors and was always interested about what was going on around him. He was very intelligent and energetic. He was known for always asking questions of the priests and teachers. The phrase “curiosity killed the cat” did not seem to have fazed him. There is a story that is told about his childhood of how he was invited to sit and talk with the head priest of his town. While he was there he asked the priest many questions and actually came up with some things that stumped the priest. Supposedly after Zoroaster left the priest had a heart attack and died.
At the age of twenty Zoroaster decided to leave home and go in search of the “truth”1. It is believed that during his search for truth he was “illuminated”. That was when he supposedly met with the angel Vohu Mana and came to believe in Ahura Mazda as the one true god.2 Another thing that happened during his search was that he married a woman named Hvovi. Zoroaster was also a father of six children, all of whom converted to his religion. The first converts to what is today known as Zoroastrianism were Zoroaster’s entire family.
Zoroaster discovered what would be his religious beliefs and he rejected the ancient Persian gods. After his family converted Zoroaster needed to bring more people to believe in Ahura Mazda. However, this task proved not to be easy and Zoroaster faced many challenges. He met with many people that were set in their ways and would not listen to what he had to say. Eventually, Zoroaster met with the major accomplishment of his life which was the conversion of King Vishtapa. Legend tells of how Zoroaster met with Vishtapa and because of his eloquent speech he was able to convince the king to accept Zoroastrianism. Of course in a good story nothing could be so easy and before everything worked out smoothly Zoroaster had to overcome some obstacles that were placed in front of him by his enemies.
After Zoroaster’s encounter with King Vishtapa he went around freely sharing his belief in one god, Ahura Mazda. Sadly, Zoroaster latched on to a god that was not actually the one true living God3. In his quest for truth, Zoroaster found only what a human mind could create. Even though the story goes that Zoroaster lived a long happy life and died peacefully at the age of seventy-seven, he had never really known true peace. As for almost every other event in his life there are several accounts told of how Zoroaster died. One tells that while Zoroaster was praying in the fire temple the Turanian army came and killed eighty priests. Zoroaster was martyred along with them. It is not surprising that martyrdom is how his followers remember him dying since it elevates their worship of him.
The religion founded by Zoroaster, Zoroastrianism was the dominant religion of western Asia from the time of Cyrus to the conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great. After that Zoroastrianism was influenced by other religions that filtered in. However, even to this day there are still people that follower Zoroaster in his religion. They remember him as a natural man and as a man who reached the pinnacle of self-realization, perfection, and immortality. The truth of the matter is that it is impossible for Zoroaster to have been perfect.4 It is unfortunate that not more is known about Zoroaster so that the actual imperfections of him could be known. Zoroaster may very well have been a good person and wise man but unfortunately his wisdom was ill spent on a religion that will save no one.
www.zarathushtra.com © Shahriar Shahriari
“Zoroaster” Microsoft® Encarta® 98 Encyclopedia. © 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
Bulfinch Mythology Chapter 30
1 the truth, John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (NIV) See also, John 14:6 "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me".
2 Today some of Zoroaster's followers try to credit him with the idea of monotheism but there is far greater evidence to support the idea that Abraham (2000 BC) and Moses (1400 BC) were the ones God revealed His truth to by saying, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God [is] one LORD" (Duet. 6:4 KJV). This Truth is what revealed the possibility of redemption from the polytheistic corruption that mankind had slowly de-evolved into after the Tower of Babel. See: "Monotheism of the Ancient Hebrews" http://www.jfjonline.org/pub/issues/05-05/monotheism.htm
3 one God, John 17:3 – “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (NIV)
4Romans 3:23 - “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (NIV)