Zoroastrianism is also dualist. Zoroastrians believe Ahura Mazda created two spirits: a good one (Spenta Mainyu), and a bad one (Angra Mainyu). Zoroastrians believe people are free to choose between good and bad. Choosing good will lead to happiness, and choosing bad will lead to unhappiness. So it is the best to choose good. Therefore, the motto of the religion is "Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds".
Nowadays, there are about 2.6 million Zoroastrians in the world. Most of them live in Iran, Pakistan or India. In Pakistan and India, they are called Parsis. Many Zoroastrians now live in the United States.
These are the basic beliefs of Zoroastrianism:
Ahura Mazda created everything. There is a conflict between order (which he created) and chaos (or disorder). Everything in the universe is part of this conflict, including humans.
To help fight the chaos, people need to:
- Lead an active life;
- Do good deeds; and
- Have good words and good thoughts for others.
People also need to do these things in order to be happy. This active life is the basis of what Zoroastrians call free will. They do not believe people should live on their own to find God (for example, in monasteries).
The conflict will not last forever. Ahura Mazda will win it in the end. When this happens, everything that Ahura Mazda created will be together with him again - even the souls of people who died or who were banished.
All bad things in the world are represented as Angra Mainyu, the "Destructive Principle". All good things are represented by Spenta Mainyu, the good spirit which Ahura Mazda created. Through Spenta Maniu, Ahura Mazda is in all humans. In this way, the Creator interacts with the world.
When Ahura Mazda created everything, he made seven "sparks", called Amesha Spentas ("Bounteous Immortals"). Each of them represents a part of Ahura Mazda's creation. These seven sparks are helped by many "lesser principles", the Yazatas. Each Yazata is "worthy of worship" and also stands for a part of the creation.
An 8th-century Tang dynasty Chinese clay figurine of a Sogdian man (an Eastern Iranian person) wearing a distinctive cap and face veil, possibly a camel rider or even a Zoroastrian priest engaging in a ritual at a fire temple, since face veils were used to avoid contaminating the holy fire with breath or saliva; Museum of Oriental Art (Turin), Italy.
Farvahar. Persepolis, Iran.
The Zoroastrian Achaemenid Empire at its greatest extent was the largest ancient empire in recorded history at 8.0 million km2 (480 BCE).
The fire temple of Baku, c. 1860
Sadeh in Tehran, 2011
The Achaemenid Empire in the 5th century BCE consisted of the largest empire in history by percentage of world population.
The Zoroastrian Atash Behram of Yazd, Iran.
Zoroastrianism for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.