Zarathustra (Zoroaster in Greek) was the founder of the religion Zoroastrianism. Historians and religious scholars generally date his life sometime between 1500 and 1000 BCE on the basis of his style of writing. He lived in Persia in what is now Iran. Legends say that his birth was predicted and that attempts were made by the forces of evil to kill him as a child. He preached monotheism in a land which followed an earlier polytheistic religion. He was attacked for his teaching, but finally won the support of the king. Zoroastrianism became the state religion of various Persian empires, until the 7th Century CE. Its theology has influenced the development of Greek, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim thought.

It may have been the world's first monotheistic faith. Most religious historians believe the Jewish, Christian and Muslim beliefs concerning God and Satan, the soul, heaven and hell, the virgin birth of the savior, slaughter of the innocents, resurrection, the final judgment, etc. were all derived from Zoroastrianism. He proclaimed that there is only one God (Ahura Mazda), who is the singular creative and sustaining force of the Universe.

The Zoroastrian holy book is called the Avesta. This includes the original words of Zarathustra, preserved in a series of five hymns, called the Gathas. The Gathas are abstract sacred poetry, directed towards the worship of the One God, understanding of righteousness and cosmic order, promotion of social justice and individual choice between good and evil.  The followers of Zoroastrianism believe:

Human beings are given the right to choose. However, because of the law of cause and effect, they are also responsible for their choices, and must face the consequences.

Even though there is only one God, the universe works on the basis of moral dualism. There is Spenta Mainyu (progressive mentality) and Angra Mainyu (evil or regressive mentality). Zarathustra advised followers to choose the progressive choices to bring about beneficial consequences.

God (Ahura Mazda) has given people the ability to choose and leaves them alone to make their choices. If they choose good, they will bring about good, and if they choose evil, evil will ensue. This is how the moral universe operates.

Zoroastrianism Today

Today, the largest populations of Zoroastrians live in India and are called Parsees .Those who remained behind in what is now Iran have survived centuries of persecution, systematic slaughter, forced conversion, etc. They now number only about 18,000 and reside chiefly in Yazd, Kernan and Tehran.

Zoraoastrians generally do not accept converts nor do they proselytize. While Zoroastrians once dominated an area stretching from what is now Rome and Greece to India and Russia, their global population has dwindled to 190,000. The Zoroastrians' mobility and adaptability has contributed to their declining numbers. They assimilate and intermarry, virtually disappearing into their adopted cultures. And since the faith encourages opportunities for women, many Zoroastrian women are working professionals who, like many other professional women, have few children or none."


monotheism - The belief in a single god, deity, spirit, etc.; especially within an organized religion, faith, or creed.

polytheistic - worshipping or believing in more than one god, together with associated mythology and rituals.

dualism - the doctrine that reality consists of two opposing elements; mind and matter or good and evil
proselytize - To encourage or induce people to join a religious movement, to convert to one’s own faith.