Zarathustra, a Messenger or a Philosopher?
June 3, 2011
Modern Portrait of Zarathustra Spitmata
In contrast to most major religions of the world, which are based on “faith”, Zarathustra’s doctrine is based on logic. His philosophy was so far ahead of time that a large number of Zoroastrian scholars, in different periods of time since its foundation, have fallen into the trap of the “newer is better” mentality. Whenever a new ideology or philosophy (mostly religious) came into perspective, in order to keep up with “progress”, they injected a few of those ideologies into Zarathushtra’s doctrine. Unfortunately, this practice has changed the foundation of the Zoroastrian doctrine.
It is interesting to know that with the advancement of science in the last few centuries, many of those so-called newer progressive philosophies and hypotheses were proven wrong. This not only discredited the religions that introduced those hypotheses, but it also tarnished the image of Zoroastrianism for being influenced by it.
Traditional Portrait of Zarathustra Spitmata
It is very encouraging to see that efforts are being made to purify Zoroastrianism from these influences by returning strictly to the Gathic doctrine (Zarathushtra’s writing), which coexist with science.
According to the Gathas, all the laws of nature combined together will create a force, or intelligence. Zarathustra calls this intelligence Hasty-e Kherad, or Ahura Mazda in Avestan language, which determines and maintains the world order. He named this world order “Asha”, meaning truth in Avestan.
According to the Gathas, the universe is dynamic; the universe is constantly progressing in accordance with the laws of nature. And Zarathustra urges his followers try to understand Hasty-e Kherad and to keep up with the progress through strive for knowledge.
If the universe is dynamic and in constant progress, then that means if we go back in time, the universe must have been in more concentrated and a more simpler form, and eventually had a simple beginning.
Edwin Hubbell, the American astrophysicist, in the early 20th century mathematically proved that the universe is constantly expanding at a rapid rate. Based on this finding, Hubbell and many other scientists concluded that the universe had a beginning, and theory of Big Bang was born.
In recent years, after more than half a century of research since Hubbell’s finding, scientists were able to calculate the speed of the expansion of the universe and estimated its age at about 13 billion years.
According to Big Bang theory galaxies and stars are constantly interacting and forming new galaxies, stars, and planets (dynamic universe).
Professor Stephen Hawking, Dean of the School of Astrophysics and mathematic at Cambridge University, concluded in his famous book “A Brief History of Time and Space” that our universe was formed at the time of the Big Bang along with all the laws of nature. He further indicates that these laws have remained the same through the present time without any changes or interference. He also stated that if god had created the universe, he had done it at the time of the Big Bang and left it alone since. Meaning if there is a god, it has no effect on the order of our universe.
As we can see, these scientific findings are in complete agreement with Zarathustra’s doctrine of the formation and progressive nature of the universe (dynamic universe). Based on this reasoning, I am in disagreement with those Zoroastrian scholars who refer to Zarathustra as a “messenger” instead of a philosopher. The term “messenger” in our society reflects to the theory of creation by Abraham.
According to Abraham universe is static; supposedly some times after the Big Bang, god had interfered in the order of the universe and created humans and other creatures within six days. Then god had designated “messengers” in order to keep in-touch with humans. A few sects believe that he then went to bed and will wake up on seventh day.
In my opinion, the term “messenger” that does not fit into Zarathustra’s thinking, has been adopted by a few Zoroastrian scholars to keep up with the so-called “progress”-- The progress that has been proven wrong by science over and over again.
I believe Zarathustra is a philosopher who introduced a doctrine, along with finest set of ethics to humanity in accordance and coexistence with science, without resorting to superstition.
He campaigned against Magies (the religious leaders of his time) and said “all gods are lies” and he never referred to Ahura Mazda as a god.
In Avestan language, “Ahura” means universe and “Mazda” means intelligence. In some parts of Gathas he referred to it as Mazda Ahura as well (intelligence of the universe). In other word, it is the intelligence that exists within every matter that makes our world “dynamic” which is constantly producing, (not creating as Ebrahamites came to believe).
This makes him unique among philosophers as well as among religion originators. The term “messenger” not only does not fit with Zarathustra’s thinking but, in my opinion, will harm his position in human history.
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