Zoroaster Ca. 628 B.c.–551 B.c.

The prophet and founder of Zoroastrianism, one of the great religions of the ancient world. He is also <b>called Zarathustra or Zardusht. Little is known of the life of Zoroaster, with much of it derived from stories in the Avesta, the Zoroastrian scripture, as well as other ancient Iranian texts. According to them, the prophet's coming was divinely foretold.

After living an early life as a priest, Zoraster at the age of thirty received the first of his many visions of the Wise Lord of Zoroastrianism, Ahura Mazda. He <b>came to believe that Ahura Mazda had selected him as a prophet, to preach that Ahura Mazda was the creator of all goodness and the only true god. Human beings seeking to live righteously should worship him alone as well as to spread the word of his goodness.

They should also seek to live in harmony with nature, a way of life Zoroaster contrasted with that of the warlike, unstable nomads who threatened the Iran of his day. Zoroaster also taught that human beings had free will; they could choose between devotion to the Wise Lord or to follow, instead, the evil spirit known as Ahriman. This choice would be the basis for a final judgment placed upon human beings after their deaths.

Zoroaster faced a great deal of resistance to his teachings at first. Iranian communities preferred their versions of the Indo-European gods who had also been brought to ancient India, including a version of the Vedic deity Indra. The prophet was disowned by his family and unwel- come wherever he went.

Only after he converted the Iranian king Vishtapa was his faith more broadly accepted, and for over 1000 years, until the arrival of Islam in the seventh century, Zoroastrianism was the major religion of various powerful Iranian empires. According to tradition, Zoroaster was killed at the age of seventy-seven by invaders while worshipping at an altar. Modern understandings of him differ among the major Zoroastrian communities.

Those remaining in India consider him to be a prophet of god while many of the Parsis of India, the largest remaining Zoroastrian community, think of him as a sort of avatar of God. The Parsis continue to commemorate his birth and death with major festivals. SEE ALSO: Avesta; Parsis; Zoroastrianism Zoroaster is a prophet and the founder of Zoroastrianism who was …

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