Zooroastrism in the states of Ancient Iran - History of religion

Zooroastrism in the states of Ancient Iran

Some time after its appearance, Zoroastrianism began to spread to Media, Persia and other countries of the Iranian world. There is a suggestion that in the first major Iranian state of antiquity - the Median state - during the reign of her last tsar, Zoroastrianism had already become an official religion.

With the arrival in the middle of the VI. BC. to the Iranian power of the Persian clan of the Achaemenids and the creation by them of a vast world empire, the evolution of the religious beliefs of the Iranians continued. The religion of the early class society that finally developed in the period of the Achaemenids (VI-IV centuries BC) can be conditionally called Mazdeism: Ahura-Mazda, demiurge, incarnation and bearer of good. He acted, however, surrounded by other deities, quite undifferentiated by function and place in the amorphous hierarchy. The dualism sharply intensified in Mazdeism-both plot, and role, and ethical: the evil was opposed to the good (deity, deed), to darkness - fire (the temples of fire became the main place of worship), evil (social and natural disorder) - good (water, city, justice). Hereditary priest-magicians (Magu-Median tribe, who in fact monopolized the cult of the Achaemenids) diligently fixed the class nature of the doctrine of Mazdeism.

Under the Achaemenids, Zoroastrianism co-existed with the religious traditions of the Persian and other Iranian peoples, the religion of the priestly caste of magicians, as well as the religions and cults of numerous peoples conquered by the Persian kings, from the Egyptians and Greeks in the west to the Indians in the east. Persians of the Achaemenid era continued to worship the ancient Indo-Iranian deities of nature - Mithra (god of the sun and light), Anahita (the goddess of water and fertility), etc. thus, which at one time Zoratushtra rejected. Probably, the Persians never accepted Zoroastrianism until the end of the reign of the Achaemenids.

As for the magicians who formed the influential priestly corporation, then, according to many ancient authors, they were disciples and followers of Zarathushtra. Some modern scholars believe, however, that the mages were forced by the Lhathemenides to accept Zoroastrianism, but later distorted it by introducing the deva cult forbidden by Zarathushtra. Other historians believe that the spread of the cults of Anahita and Mithras in the late Achaemenids was the result of the influence of religious beliefs of the Persian and other Iranian peoples who continued to worship their ancient deities. In this case, the prevailing position of Ahura-Mazda in the royal pantheon persisted.

In the IV century. BC. The doctrinal treatment of the Zoroastrian doctrine of the struggle between good and evil began. At the same time, the doctrine of Garvanism emerged according to which the good spirit of Ahura-Mazda and the evil spirit of Ankhra-Mainyu are the twin sons of the Infinite Time, the god of time of Zrvana. Each of these spirits has equal power and reigns the world for three thousand years, after which the next three thousand years between them there will be a struggle.

Zoroastrian priests have developed an eschatological doctrine, according to which the world history lasts 12 thousand years. The first three thousand years were the "golden age" when there was no cold, no heat, no illness, no death, no old age. The land was plentiful and fertile, fat herds walked along it. This was the period of Ahura-Mazda's rule. With the end of the golden age Anhra-Mainyu brought hunger, disease, and death to the ground. But the world will be a savior from the genus of Zarathushtra, and ultimately good will triumph over the evil, an eternal kingdom of justice will arise, and Ahura-Mazda will become the master of the universe.

According to some researchers, the doctrine of Zoroastrian priests about the end of the world and the resurrection of the dead, about the coming savior and the last court became one of the sources of similar ideas in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and other religions. Some provisions of the Zoroastrian doctrine could be accepted by the ancient Greek philosophers. In any case, this teaching was in general familiar to them. About him wrote Aristotle, Plutarch, Diogenes Laertius (end of II - beginning of III century).

If early Zoroastrianism was alien to idolatry (in the ghats of Ahura-Mazda appears as an abstract being, incorporeal), then under the Achaemenids an element of anthropomorphism appeared in it. M.A. Dandamaev explains this innovation of the Persian kings: "They should show their god to dozens and hundreds of peoples under their control. The symbol of the supreme god Ahura-Mazda was chosen symbol of the supreme god of the Assyrians - Ashur. It did not even require serious iconographic changes: in the late-Assyrian cylinders, Ashur was depicted as a figure of the king between two wide wings, in a solar disk, and on Elaman cylinders, almost as in the Achaemenids later, in a crenellated crown. & lt; ... & gt; The portals of the palaces of Persepolis, the main scenes on the stairs, were crowned with the image of a solar disk with wings - a symbol widespread in Egypt, but probably interpreted as a symbol of Ahura Mazda. & lt; ... & gt; In Persepolis, many seals have been unearthed, depicting the winged Ahura-Mazda in the solar disk .

The defeat of the Achaemenids and the seizure of their empire by Alexander the Great, followed his death in 323 BC. internecine wars of his successors-diadochs and the emergence of the Hellenistic Seleucid power in Asia contributed to the close interpenetration of Greek and local cultures and beliefs there. The pantheon of the gods, who were worshiped in different parts of Hellenized Asia, increased noticeably. Zoroastrianism has lost the position of state religion, although its tradition has survived.

In the middle of the III century. BC. the power in Iran passed to the local Arshakid dynasty, which originated from Parthia. The Parthian kingdom of the Arshakids existed until the first half of the 3rd century. AD and for a long time was the largest power rivaling Rome for hegemony in Western Asia.

In the Parthian era, Hellenistic traditions and cults of the Greek gods continued to exist in different parts of the empire, Judaism, early Christianity and other religions also existed. Ancient Iranian deities are often identified with Greek and Roman: Zeus was perceived as Ahura-Mazda, Mitra as Apollo, etc. In Parthia itself, Ahura-Mazda was included in the circle of other Iranian gods, such as Mithra and Anahita. Some evidence indicates that the Zoroastrian cult was preserved, there were fire temples and the Zoroastrian calendar.

Under Arshakids, the council of Iranian priests-magicians acted, attempts were made to codify the Avesta and edit some of its sections, although the oral tradition remained the main one.

The most complete development of Zoroastrianism reached in the era of the Sassanids, the Iranian dynasty that succeeded the Arshakids and ruled from 224 until the conquest of Iran by the Arabs in the 7th century. The Sassanids, like their distant predecessors of Achaemenid, from Pars, considered themselves legitimate heirs of the ancient Persian couple and patronized the revival of Iranian traditions. With them, Zoroastrianism became the state religion, and the corporation of Zoroastrian priests acquired exceptional influence. He headed the priestly caste magupat (head of the magicians). Later, the title magupatan-magupat appeared (in a later sound - mobedan-mobed), i.e. magician magician - by analogy with the ancient royal title "king of kings". The High Priest began to be considered the second person in the state after the king. Zoroastrian priests developed dogma, ritual, various rituals. As the state religion strengthened, intolerance toward the Gentiles increased.

In the conditions of aggravation of social contradictions and deepening crisis of the ancient consciousness in the Sassanid Empire, as in some neighboring countries, numerous new doctrines, often eclectic, appeared. The most influential of them was Manichaeism, incorporating elements of Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Gnosticism, Buddhism.

At the end of the 5th c. in the Sassanid Iran, a massive social and religious movement of the Mazdakites developed, based on the ideology of which was the teaching of the sect Zarudustakan (arose in the middle of the 2nd century), claiming the knowledge of the true original meaning of Zoroastrianism , later allegedly distorted by the priests. The Mazdakite movement has become so powerful that King Kavad himself joined the supporters of Mazdak and took him under his protection. This was one of the reasons for the conspiracy against the king, organized by the priests and nobles. Kawad was imprisoned in the castle, but soon fled from there and managed to regain power, although he was forced to give up direct support to Mazdak, remaining his like-minded. Later, the king, suspecting Mazdak and his closest associates in the conspiracy, executed them.

With the son and successor of Kavad Khosrov, the rout of the Mazdakit was completed, and the position of official Zoroastrianism was strengthened. It continued to compile and edit the canonical text of the Avesta, accompanied by the withdrawal of certain parts and the addition of works in the Middle Persian language. An anonymous author of the Zoroastrian work Denkart, written in the IX century, reported that under the Sasanids, Avesta consisted of 21 parts. The surviving Avesta consists of three main books: Jasna, Yashta and Videvdat. In addition, a collection of extracts from the Avesta was compiled in the Sasanian period, mainly prayers, called Malaya Avesta (Khurd Avesta). Of the 21 books that existed under the Sasanids, only one was completely preserved: Videvdat. This is primarily a set of laws on ritual purity, permissible and forbidden, etc.

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