the Priest : by Sarosh Manekshaw
In this brief report I will present the following :
That the priesthood, as an occupation and function, existed during and
before Zarathushtra's time, in Iran.
2. That priests were named and catagorized according to the various
functions they performed.
3. That, while there were functioning priests, there is some controversy
whether the priesthood, in Zarathushtra's time, existed as a social
4. That it is also uncertain whether the priesthood was hereditary.
5. That ZARATHUSHTRA WAS A PRIEST.
6. That the term 'zaotar' has been interpreted as either 'sacrificing
priest' or 'invoker'. But regardless of the etymology of the word, both
interpretations refer to functions performed by a 'priest'.
7. That, only one scholar, the Rev. James Moulton, has opined that Zarathushtra
did not belong to a priestly class, but he has not present any credible
evidence to support his statement.
It is well known that very little information exists about Zarathushtra.
In fact, we are not even sure about his date or place of birth; and
various conflicting theories exist, with the most probable being that
he was born between 1400 and 1100 BC, somewhere in Eastern Iran. The
little information that we currently do possess on Zarathushtra comes
to us mainly from the Avestan and Pahlavi literature, as well as from
early Greek and Roman reports (see Jackson: 1928, for a detailed list
of sources). Because the Avestan and Pahlavi literature were only put
down in writing many centuries after Zarathushtra, some scholars tend
to give little credence to the accuracy of these later reports. However,
these same skeptics fail to recognize that Zoroastrianism has had remarkable
success with its extraordinary ability to accurately transmit its religious
texts orally over the millennia. Thus, an equally high degree of credibility
must be given to the fact that the Younger Avestan and Pahlavi texts
represent the earliest Zarathushtrian doctrines and traditions. Further,
very few records exist about the society, the religion, the culture
and the politics of Zarathushtra's period. As a result, much of the
modern literature is replete with speculations and suppositions. Thus,
because of this shortage of information and because of the conflicting
speculative opinions, it is difficult to separate the facts from the
only facts that we do possess from Zarathushtra's time come from the
Gathas, the hymns that Zarathushtra himself composed. Since what we
have left of them is so small, approximately 6,000 words comprising
17 chapters, and since they deal mainly with his doctrines, it is difficult
to extrapolate from them to develop a complete personal profile of the
prophet, much less to determine the social, cultural and religious environment
that existed during his time. One egregious error, made especially by
those who have not lived or understood the Zarthushti tradition, is
to assume that if something is not mentioned in the Gathas it could
not have existed or happened in Gathic times; and they, thus, doubt
the credibility of the contents of the Younger Avesta and Pahlavi texts.
This grave error has been perpetuated especially by non-Zarathushtrians,
who have wittingly or unwittingly imported their Islamic, Christian
or Hindu biases and prejudices into Zoroastrianism. This is especially
reprehensible when these prejudices are then used to subvert the Zarathushtrian
religion and its traditions.
Gathas were never intended to be a chronicle of the social, cultural,
political or even religious events of the time. They are the fervent
hymns of an enlightened soul, seeking to point out the way for individuals,
and mankind as a whole, to reject, overcome and destroy the evil that
exists in this world. It is then amazing how these same hymns have been
misconstrued by some to justify their own perverted theories of Zoroastrianism.
One tactic that is used by such people is to deny the existence of any
thing that is not specifically mentioned in the Gathas, and to condemn
all the later Avestan material as a fraud perpetrated by the Magian
priesthood bent on resurrecting their pre-Zarathushtrian religious traditions
look at the Gathas in isolation from the rest of the history and tradition,
is to take ONE LEAF from a forest and use it exclusively to make a definitive
determination of all the rich and varied vegetation that exists in the
entire forest --an impossible task under any circumstance. Unfortunately,
these gross errors still continue to be perpetuated today; and yet even
more unfortunate, many well intentioned Zarathushtis are being attracted
by this flawed methodology, with such catchy phrases as: "pristine
purity", and "return to the Gathas".
we are fortunate that we do have access to some additional sources of
information, which while they are not from Iranian sources of Zarathushtra's
period, are from a kindred people of that time, who shared much in common
with the Iranians. By using this additional information as a guide,
we can start to develop a clearer idea of what all constitutes the "forest".
These kindred people are the Indo-Aryans, who migrated from the steppes
of Central Asia to the plains of India, and who followed the Vedic religion.
Fortunately, their literature was better preserved because it was not
subject to the cycles of destruction that the Iranian literature suffered.
3000 BC, the Indo-Iranians, a branch of the Indo-European family of
peoples, started migrating southwards from the steppes of Central Asia.
By 2000 BC, the Indo-Iranians themselves had separated into two branches,
the Indo-Aryans who migrated South-eastwards and settled in the Northwest
of India; and the Iranians who migrated South-westwards and settled
on the Iranian plateau (Boyce: 1987, p. 513). Before their separation
the two groups of people shared a common culture, language and religion.
After their separation, and based on the circumstances in their new
homelands, the cultural and religious ideas of each group developed
separately. Yet, some aspects of commonality continued to exist for
centuries after their separation.
migrations and separation of peoples did not take place suddenly. Rather
they continued in waves, over decades and centuries. Even after the
separation into the two societies, the Iranians and the Indo-Aryans,
in many parts of Central Asia the two peoples lived together speaking
slightly different languages and following different religious practices.
In order to clarify the distinctions between the various groups, the
following definitions will be used:
The joint family of people before they separated into Iranians and Indo-Aryans.
Indo-Aryans: The sub-group of Indo-Iranians who split from the Iranians
and migrated South-eastwards to eventually settle in the plains of Northern
India. These people are called Indo-Aryans, rather than Indians, to
distinguish them from the native peoples who were already settled in
that part of India, and who were then pushed further South due to this
migration of Indo-Aryans from the North.
Proto-Indoaryans: These were the people of Indo-Aryan stock, who had
already separated from the Iranians but, who either settled and remained
behind in Iran and Central Asia, or who had followed in later migratory
groups which did not make it all the way to India (see Burrows: 1973).
Note that Burrows (ibid.: p. 125) also classifies the "Aryans"
who migrated Westward and who were found in the Near Eastern kingdom
of Mittani, as proto-Indoaryans.
Iranians: The sub-group of Indo-Iranians who split from the Indo-Aryans
and migrated South-westward and settled in Eastern and North-central
The Priesthood in Zarathushtra's time :
Let us start by looking at the Indo-Iranian period. In 1930, Dumezil
proposed that the Indo-European society was divided into three classes,
and further that since this tripartite division was a characteristic
of the Indo-Europeans, the daughter families, and very specifically
the Indo-Iranians, were also subject to the same tripartite division:
(1) priests (Av. zaotar, Skt. hotar), (2) warriors (Av. rathaeshtar,
Skt. kshatriya), and (3) herdsmen (Av. vaastryo.fsuyant, Skt. vaisya).
(See Frye: 1993, p. 21 for an elaboration of Dumezil's theory; see also
Lincoln: 1981, p. 134; Duchesne-Guillemin: 1973, p. 122). However, this
theory has been fairly controversial, with ardent supporters on both
sides of the issue. Geiger, (1886, p. 64), in fact had, nearly half
a century earlier, stated that the Gathic society of Zarathushtra's
time was divided between (1) priests and (2) herdsmen, with the herdsmen
ready at all times to pick up arms and fight to defend their possessions.
Boyce (1987: p. 523; 1989b) too, endorses this bipartite division of
Gathic society. Regardless of whether there existed a bipartite or tripartite
division, from a historical point of view, it is fairly incontrovertible
that a priesthood existed among the Indo-Iranians, as well as within
its daughter groups, the Iranians and the Indo-Aryans. By the time of
the Younger Avestan period however, there is no doubt that a clear tripartite
division of society had been established in Iran.
is apparent that the establishment of each class (or specialization)
would be dependent on the speed with which the society developed. Thus,
the most primitive societies would have been classless, with different
classes gradually emerging depending on the growth and social and economic
development within that society. However, even in most primitive societies
there was a general awareness of supernatural powers and spirituality,
and a group of people would have come to the fore to minister to the
needs of the population. This would have led to the priests becoming
the first functional subdivision.
are well aware that the Indo-Iranians were a deeply religious people.
They were very conscious of a spirituality that existed all around them,
and they accordingly prayed and sacrificed to various gods. That many
of the gods were common to the Indo-Aryans and the Iranians is an indication
that they had a common origin from Indo-Iranian times. Thus, it is reasonable
to assume that priests, as a functional group, must have existed to
tend to the religious needs of these peoples. Specifically the sacrificial
ceremony (Av. 'yasna', Skt. 'yajna') would by necessity have to have
been officiated over by trained priests, who were skilled in the correct
formulations to be recited and in the correct procedures for executing
the rituals. This fact is corroborated by Herodotus (i, 132) when he
states that: "It is not lawful to offer sacrifice unless there
is a Magus present." Even though Herodotus is reporting on a much
latter period of Iranian history, there is no doubt that this practice
was in place in Gathic and pre-Gathic times, because it corresponds
very closely to the practices of the Indo-Aryans, and hence, must have
had a common Indo-Iranian origin. (For an in-depth comparison of the
Indo-Aryan and Iranian religious practices see Hodiwala, 1924).
is additional information that definitely confirms the existence of
a priesthood. This information comes from the Gathas themselves. The
Gathas give us four terms: (1) zaotar, (2) ma(n)thran, (3) usig, and
(4) karapan. Each of these is a term used for a priest, although of
differing race and function.
was the chief or officiating priest, and was used by Zarathushtra to
describe himself (the term itself has been translated as 'invoker' or
as 'sacrificial priest', but we will deal with this later when we discuss
Zarathushtra), and exactly corresponds to the Skt. 'hotar', who was
also the chief or officiating priest in Vedic times.
has been defined as "formulated meditation, the utterance which
was the 'instrument of thought'" (Boyce: 1989a, p. 8). Boyce goes
on to state: "The mathra accompanied rituals; and of old an INSPIRED
PRIEST would compose such utterances. ... Zoroaster repeatedly uses
an Iranian equivalent, 'mathran', of himself. In general, it seems,
PRIESTLY utterances were regarded as inspired in the strictest sense,
being revealed or revealing themselves, for such inspiration was held
to come either from a deity or from a faculty within the priest himself"
(ibid.) (Emphasis added.)
Avestan term 'usig' has an exact correspondence to Skt. 'usij'. While
'usig' appears once in the Gathas (Y. 44.20), 'usij' appears approximately
30 time in the RigVeda. The 'usij-s' are the priests who aid the warriors
in their bid to raid cattle (Lincoln: 1981, p. 61). And it was for this
reason that they are condemned by Zarathushtra in the Gathas -- "...the
karapan and the usig take hold of the cow for wrathful treatment..."
(Humbach and Ichaporia: 1994: Y. 44.20). Burrows (1973: p. 131) finds
'usij' to be a proto-Indoaryan term for a certain class of priest. Burrows
further argues that the proto-Indoaryan warriors (mairya-s) were the
cattle rustlers who preyed on the peaceful, pastoralist Iranians and
wrought so much destruction and evil; and it was the 'mairya-s' (the
proto-Indoaryan warriors) along with their priests, the 'usij-s' and
the 'karapan-s', who were the 'daeva' worshippers. The three principal
'daeva-s': Indra, Nanghaithya, and Saurva; were Indo-Aryan or proto-Indoaryan
gods (Burrows: 1973, p. 128), and it was these 'daeva-s' (along with
the proto-Indoaryan priests and warriors) who Zarathushtra condemned.
term 'karapan' can be derived from the Skt. 'kalpa-' (rite), or from
the Avestan 'karp-' (to mumble), (Burrows: 1973, p. 132). In the former
sense it would be associated with a proto-Indoaryan priestly function.
In the latter, it was used derogatorily to describe these same priests,
who in Zarathushtra's opinion, were to be condemned, since they too
were 'daeva' worshippers.
it is clear that Zarathushtra's wrath was exclusively aimed at the proto-Indoaryans,
the cattle-raiders, and THEIR PRIESTS (the 'usig-s' and 'karapan-s'),
whom he labeled the 'daeva' (false gods) worshippers. THERE IS NOT EVEN
THE SLIGHTEST HINT IN THE GATHAS, THE YOUNGER AVESTAN OR PAHLAVI LITERATURE
THAT ZARATHUSHTRA EVER CONDEMNED THE IRANIAN PRIESTHOOD. This distinction
is extremely important.
Indo-Iranians had a tradition of religious practices. Along with the
rituals which the priests learned, they also had to memorize many sacred
words or prayers, both of which they faithfully taught to the next generation.
Boyce (1989a: p. 8) has identified three types of religious utterances:
(1) the 'manthra' (see above), represented in Iran by the 'Ashem Vohu'
and 'Yatha Ahu Vairyo'; (2) the 'songs of praise', which were intended
to please the gods in order to show the worshippers favors. In Iran,
such hymns are represented by the 'Yashts'; and (3) 'religious poetry',
represented by in Iran by the 'Gathas', and composed by 'zaotar-s' who
had undergone intensive training in order to master the complex intricacies
of composing this type of verse.
that we have established that there is a preponderance of evidence that
a priesthood did exist in Gathic times, let us examine how the priesthood
was organized. Despite Dumezil's theory of a tripartite classification
of Iranian society, there is some reason to believe that a formal class
structure did not exist in Gathic times. That is, although priests who
performed all the various religious functions existed, alongside the
warriors and herdsmen, the three groups were not yet organized into
formal class structures. Since the formal organization into the classes
took place gradually over time, it becomes imperative to know exactly
when Zarathushtra lived in order to make the determination of whether
the priesthood, as a formal class, existed in his time. But, this may
have to remain unresolved until the uncertainty of Zarathushtra's date
of birth itself can be resolved.
is also a question as to whether, in Gathic times, the priesthood was
hereditary. It is probable that a hereditary priesthood would have developed
at the same time as the formalization of the class structure. However,
we must keep in mind that even in pre-Gathic times, most sons would
have tended to follow their father's profession. Thus, although the
priesthood might not have been hereditary, most of the priests would
have made every effort to teach the necessary prayers and rituals to
their sons, in order to pass their knowledge on to the next generation,
and preserve the continuity of their religious beliefs.
the Younger Avesta, 8 different priestly functions are outlined: (Nirangastan:
Book II, Chpt. XXVII) :
Zaotar -- the leading priest
2. Haavanaan -- the priest who prepares the haoma
3. Aatarvakhsh -- the priest who kindles the sacred flame
4. Frabortaar -- the priest who presents things at the offering
5. Aasntaar -- the priest who washes the haoma
6. Rathwishkar -- the priest who mixes the haoma with the fresh milk
7. Aaberet -- the priest who bears the water
8. Sraoshaavarz -- the priest who has to superintend.
It is quite clear that, certainly in later Avestan times, the priesthood
was divided functionally according to the various tasks each priest
performed. It is also interesting to note that the terms used are functional
descriptions and indicate that there was a degree of specialization
amongst the priesthood. In Gathic times, while there may not have been
the same number of functions, there is every reason to believe that
this same functionality also existed. In fact, Gnoli (1980: p.156) differentiates
between the term 'zaotar' being used to define an entire class, as opposed
to one that merely defines a function.
stated above, there were ritual priests, as well as priests who composed
religious utterances. Certainly the skill to compose hymns and prayers
would depend on the intellectual skill of the individual, and thus all
initiates for the priesthood would not undergo the same degree and detail
of religious training. Whether a priest was trained in all areas or
even more than one area is not certain.
can conclude this section by stating that there is strong evidence to
show that the priesthood existed in Gathic times. Further, whether the
priesthood existed as a separate "class", and whether it was
hereditary, is open to debate. But, what is certain is that priests,
as differing "functional" groups, did exist, with different
names being assigned to each of the different functions.
-- The Priest :
We may now examine the next issue: Was Zarathushtra himself a priest?
information that we do possess shows, with a high degree of certainty,
that he was. However, there is a contra position, and we will examine
that as well.
In his own words, Zarathushtra calls himself a 'zaotar' (Yasna 33.6).
us examine the term 'zaotar'. This term has been variously interpreted
by the translators of the Gathas as either '(sacrificial) priest' or
(1959: p. 272) states: "The word for 'priest', 'zaotar-', Batholomae
stated in Wb.1653, goes back to Indo-Iranian times (cf. Ved. 'hotr'),
when two meanings coalesced in *zhautar-: (1) 'he who performs libation'
(Ved. 'juhoti' to pour), and (2) 'he who calls the gods' (Ved. 'havate'
further explanation of the term 'zaota' can be obtained from Geldner
(1925: p. 278) :
Justi and Darmesteter derive the word 'Zaota' from the root 'Zu' (to
call), Modi (1922: p. 78) supports the derivation from 'zu' = Skt. 'hu,
juhoti'; and herein he is, of course, right. But Modi says on p. 202,
that 'Zaota' literally means "the performer of ceremonies or the
offerer of offerings," only the second meaning is etymologically
correct. 'Zaota' is FROM THE VERY BEGINNING THE SACRIFICING PRIEST,
in whose activity comes everything, that had developed in course of
time around the proper sacrificial offering." (Emphasis added.)
goes on to add: "The custom of offering the sacrifice in the sacrificial
fire may have been prevalent also in Iran before Zarathushtra."
in Vedic times, Geldner states (ibid. p. 277), "The 'Hota' was
the chief priest, who had to care for the recitation during the sacrifice
and for the hymn ...". Note that Skt. 'Hota' is equivalent to Av.
(1989a: p. 5) defines "'zaotar' (priest), (as) either 'he who makes
offerings' or 'he who invokes'."
the above we may conclude that there are two possible meanings for 'zaotar':
(1) invoker, one who calls, or (2) the sacrificial priest; and that
at some time during the Indo-Iranian period these two meanings coalesced
(Boyce, 1989a: p. 6, n.15).
is patently clear, however, is that regardless of whether, etymologically,
the term 'zaotar' is ascribed to the function of 'invoking' or to the
function of 'sacrificing', it refers to the individual who conducts
one or more functions during religious ceremonies; and the common definition
for such an individual is 'PRIEST'.
while philologists may wish to argue the derivation and exact meaning
of the term, for most lay persons, it surfices to understand the term
'zaotar' simply as 'PRIEST'.
should also be emphasized that in all the translations of the Gathas
where the term 'zaotar' has been translated as 'invoker', none of these
authors has specifically stated that the term does not mean 'priest'.
Rather, they too have differentiated between a priest who is an 'invoker'
as opposed to a priest who 'sacrifices' (Taraporewalla, 1991, p. 323).
Thus, it is presumptuous and erroneous on the part of those who deny
Zarathushtra's priesthood, to use this line of argument.
In order to have been able to develop the skills to compose the Gathic
poetry, it would have been necessary for Zarathushtra to have been schooled
in the art of such composition. These skills would have been limited
not only to those who were being trained for the priesthood, but in
addition, to only the brightest of those priestly students who showed
a exceptional gift of knowledge. It is doubtful that a humble herdsman,
uneducated and untrained in the art of poetic composition, would have
been able to compose such a profound work.
this issue Boyce (1989a: p.9) writes :
is the poetry represented in Iran solely by the Gathas composed by the
'zaotar', Zoroaster, and in India by the "wisdom" poetry of
the 'hotar', with characteristic eleven-syllable verses. This 'zaotar/hotar'
poetry, with its predominantly instructive content, is extremely elaborate,
the product evidently of a long and learned tradition; and it was intended
plainly for the ears of those familiar with that tradition, who would
be capable of understanding its highly artificial constructions and
elucidating its meanings, despite a "marked inclination to enigmatical
obscurity". Those priests who composed this kind of verse must
have devoted years of concentrated study to mastering its techniques
and modes of expression; and it seems probable, to judge from the intellectual
content of this type of literature, that the 'zaotar/hotar' schools
of poetry were maintained by the thinkers among the priests."
(1980: p. 228) adds that, "Zarathushtra was a 'zaotar', a priest
who was versed in the traditional training, as can be seen from the
language and structure of the Gathas". And further, (ibid. p. 189),
"Moreover we must not forget that Zarathushtra was a 'zaotar-',
a qualification that was not gained without going through a complex,
again, we may safely conclude that the author of the Gathas must have,
in his early childhood, received a strict education, and that on his
showing an exceptional talent, he received even further training in
the art of composing "wisdom" poetry. Such education and training
would clearly have been reserved only for priestly initiates.
Zarathushtra, not only receive formal training as a priest, but his
very admission in his Gathas, that he was a 'zaotar', indicates that
he was a practicing priest as well.
the evidence above, there has been one scholar who has taken a contrary
position and stated that Zarathushtra was not a priest. The Rev. James
Hope Moulton, (1913, p. 117) states: "Now we can hardly understand
the Gathas on the assumption that Zarathushtra himself belonged to a
separate and high priestly caste. His enthusiasm for husbandry would
make us put him with the lowest of the three (priest, noble, herdsman),
if we were free to choose." (Parenthetical statement added).
earlier (ibid. p. 116) Moulton, himself states that, "There is
one passage in the Gathas where the preacher does call himself by the
old Aryan name 'zaotar' (Skt. 'hotar'), "priest"."
while Moulton, on the one hand, admits that Zarathushtra was a 'priest',
he later contradicts this. His explanation that Zarathushtra's "enthusiasm
for husbandry" would be the basis for placing him in the third
category (herdsman), is based on a weak foundation. Zarathushtra, as
a practicing priest would have primarily ministered to a congregation
of herdsmen, and if their main concern was the welfare of their herds
then, clearly, this issue would have become most crucial to Zarathushtra
also used the example of cruelty to animals as a metaphor for developing
his doctrine of good and evil. And, it was by explaining his doctrine
in these pastoral terms that he was able to communicate his message
to the vast numbers of his followers, who were primarily herdsmen. Thus,
Zarathushtra's "enthusiasm for husbandry" has little to do
with which "class" he belonged to, but rather, was a tool
for communicating his new doctrines to his congregation of pastoral
important, Moulton clearly fails to give any explanation for why Zarathushtra
would describe himself as a 'zaotar', or 'priest', if he had in fact
belonged to the "herdsman" class. Without such an explanation,
we must conclude that Moulton's inference was mere fanciful speculation.
(ibid.) also uses the arguement that since the term 'aathravan' (Fire-priest)
is not used in the Gathas, that Zarathushtra could not have belonged
to the sacerdotal class. This, too, is an extreme statement. We know
that the extant Gathas are but a mere fragment of all of Zarathushtra's
teachings, and the absence of a word from them does not prove a thing.
To use an analogy, if all the information and literature in the United
States were destroyed except for the U.S. Constitution; a millennia
from now, would it be correct for people to say that no priests existed
in the United States, at the time of independence, because the word
"PRIEST" does not appear in the Constitution?
certainly know that Av. 'aathravan' is equivalent to Skt. 'atharvan'.
Thus the term had a common Indo-Iranian origin, and must have existed
even in pre-Gathic times. There is, thus, no reason to deny that 'aathravan-s'
existed in Zarathushtra's time. And further, not much weight should
be given to its absence from the texts.
It is very clear that the priests, as a functioning group of people,
existed in Gathic times It is also very clear, by a preponderance of
the evidence, that Zarathushtra was a priest, a 'zaotar'. Regardless
of whether the etymology of the word is "sacrificial priest"
or "invoker", both terms refer to functions carried out by
Moulton, before he denies it, first admits that Zarathushtra's own words
indicate that he was a priest. He, however, presents no credible evidence
for his denial of Zarathushtra's priesthood.
responses which deny Zarathushtra's priesthood must be treated with
skepticism and questioned for their malintent.
are many more references and articles on this topic. In an attempt to
keep this review short, they have not been used or quoted. Interested
readers are requested to email me at email@example.com , if
they have specific questions, or need additional information.
Boyce, (1987): Priests, Cattle and Men, Bulletin of the School
of Oriental and African Studies, Vol. 50, No. 3, pp.508-526
Boyce, (1989a): A History of Zoroastrianism, Vol. 1, Leiden
Boyce, (1989b): Avestan People, in Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol.
III, ed. Eshan Yarshater
Burrow, (1973): The Proto-Indoaryans, Journal of the Royal Asiatic
Society, pp. 123-140
Geiger, (1886): Civilization of the Eastern Iranians, tr. D.
P. Sanjana, London
F. Geldner, (1925): ZAOTA, in Indo-Iranian Studies in Honour
of Dastur Darab Peshotan Sanjana, London
Gnoli, (1980): Zoroaster's Time and Homeland, Naples
Duchesne-Guillemin, (1973): Religion of Ancient Iran, Bombay
The Histories, tr. George Rawlinson, London
K. Hodiwala, (1924): Indo-Iranian Religion, Journal of the K.
R. Cama Oriental Institute, Vol. 10
Humbach and P. Ichaporia, (1994): The Heritage of Zarathushtra,
V. W. Jackson, (1928): Zoroaster: The Prophet of Ancient Iran,
Columbia University Press, New York
Lincoln, (1981): Priest, Warriors and Cattle, Berkeley
J. Modi, (1922): The Religious Ceremonies and Customs of the Parsees,
H. Moulton, (1913): Early Zoroastrianism, New York, reprint of
Aerpatastan and Nirangastan, tr. S. J. Bulsara, New York
J. S. Taraporewala, (1991): The Divine songs of Zarathustra, Bombay
are the names of Zoroaster's friends and family mentioned in the Gathas
King Vishtaspa :
powerful king who helped Zoroaster spread his sacred Message.
minister in the court of King Vishtaspa. Tradition says he married Zoroaster's
youngest daughter, Pourchista.
brother, a sage, who helped Righteous Zoroaster in spreading his Message.
cousin who was the first person to accept his Message
youngest daughter. The tradition says Pourchista married Jamaspa. She
is mentioned in the Gathas.
at the above names again. Can you find the names that end with "aspa"
or "ushtra"? "Aspa" means horse and "ushtra"
means camel. For example, Vishtaspa means "having ready horses."
Horses, cows, and camels were very important for the ancient Iranians
because they were farmers, so people use them in their names. But after
they became Zoroastrians, they started using words like truth, righteous
or good mind in their names.
Righteous Zarathushtra (Zoroaster) had many enemies. He names
some of them in his sacred hymns, the Gathas. Here are the list of those
who opposed Zoroaster and his Divine Message.
were the priests of the old religion who fought with Zoroaster. In the
Gathas, the Prophet rejects these priests, their beliefs and rituals.
were powerful princes who aided the Karapans. The Kavis were wealthy
and corrupt so Asho Zarathushtra (Zoroaster) rose up against them.
A priestly family who opposed Righteous Zoroaster and his religion.
was a rishi (a sage of the old religion) and an enemy of Zoroaster.
son of Vivanhan :
was a legendary Iranian hero who later became arrogant and claimed to
be a god. Zoroaster rejects Yima's pride in the Gathas. Today, Yima
is celebrated as King Jamshid.
was one of the enemies of Zoroaster and an ally of the Karapans.