March 28, 2011, Fasli calendar
Happy Birthday Zarathustra!
March 26 is celebrated as the birthday of Zarathustra, or as the Greeks called him, Zoroaster, founder of Zoroastrianism.
We don’t really know which millennium Zarathustra was born in, let alone the exact date.
The precise years of the prophet’s life weren’t a big issue in Persia until Alexander the Great’s invasion, after which years began to be numbered since Alexander’s reign. Lacking the necessary record to determine Zarathustra’s life, Zoroastrians turned to the Babylonians.
In “The Traditional date of Zoroaster explained”, Shapur Shabazi theorizes that when Zoroastrian priests tried to nail down the years of Zarathustra, they mistook the great Persian King Cyrus (d. 529 BC) for the first royal convert to Zoroastrianism, Kavi Vistaspa, also a great king, who is mentioned in the Gathas (Zoroastrian sacred texts). Learning from the Babylonians that Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 BC, the ancient historians figured Zoroaster lived 258 years before Alexander the Great, a date propagated by Western historians into recent times.
Today, many scholars believe that estimate may have been off by as much as 900 years, that Zarathustra lived between 1500 and 1200 BC.
This would make Zarathustra older than the Hebrew Moses, possibly even a contemporary of Abraham, who is considered the first monotheist by the Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions.
Zarathustra is said to have undergone a religious experience when he was 31 years old. He proclaimed that there was one god, Ahura Mazda, who didn’t share the same features and nature as humans, as other religions purported. At that time many worshiped Mithra, the Sun God. Zarathustra said that people had confused the sun for god because the real god that had created the sun could not be seen.
Zarathustra taught that Ahura Mazda gave man three gifts: Good Thoughts, Good Deeds, and Good Words. And that the world was engaged in a battle between Good and Evil.
Today there are only a couple hundred-thousand Zoroastrians. They don’t seek to convert, one must be born into the religion. But the Bahai, who number in the millions, consider Zarathustra one their sacred prophets. And Zarathustra’s influence remains powerful in Islamic Iran, not to mention his influence on Judaism and Christianity.
“Zoroastrianism is the oldest of the revealed world-religions, and it has probably had more influence on mankind, directly and indirectly, than any other single faith.”
– Mary Boyce, Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices