The History of Zoroastrianism
Print The History of Zoroastrianism Reading Comprehension
||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 9 to 12
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||Jadi, stringent, brilliance, following, scribes, philanthropy, reenact, revolutionary, conversion, present-day, forbade, spite, practically, fiery, temples, enlightenment
||Prince Spitama, Ahura Mazda, King Vishtaspa, Prime Minister, Three Wise Men, Jadi Rana, Some Parsis, Zubin Mehta, Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi
The History of Zoroastrianism
By Colleen Messina
1 Zoroastrianism is the one of the oldest religions in the world. It began between 1,400 and 1,000 B.C. in Persia when Prince Spitama left his royal duties and searched for enlightenment. It is said that after fifteen long years, he had a dazzling vision. A divine being called Ahura Mazda gave him the name Zarathustra. Ahura Mazda also gave him a revolutionary teaching about one god that would change the ancient world. Fire became the symbol for Ahura Mazda because of its brilliance and energy.
2 Zarathustra began preaching his new religion, but things didn't go smoothly at first because life was hard for the people of Persia. They lived in a rocky, rugged place. Their tribes had to wander over the dry Iranian plain to herd their animals. It was practically impossible to grow their crops. The one thing they enjoyed was worshipping their many gods and offering animal sacrifices. Sometimes, they used plants to become intoxicated while they offered their sacrifices. Zarathustra challenged them to turn their attention to Ahura Mazda, the one god. He preached against animal sacrifice and the use of drugs. The struggling people told him to get lost. They didn't like his fiery message!
3 The fiery prophet's big break came when he converted King Vishtaspa, ruler of present-day Iran. The king accepted Zarathustra's ideas about one god, which were revolutionary for that time. No one knows exactly what made King Vishtaspa like Zarathustra's ideas, but one story says that Zarathustra healed the king's favorite horse! In any case, the king and his court were converted. According to legends, three angels came to the court to celebrate.
4 After Vishtaspa's conversion, Zarathustra traveled around Persia to spread his message. In between preaching and traveling, the prophet married (several times) and had many children. His youngest daughter married Vishtaspa's Prime Minister, Jamaspa. After the prophet's death at the hand of a priest of the old religion, Jamaspa took Zarathustra's place.
5 Zoroastrianism spread over the dry, rugged Iranian plain for the next one thousand years. The Persians had no real alphabet yet, so no one wrote anything down about Zarathustra while he was alive. Everything was passed down by word of mouth through the priests of the fire temples. Most of what we know today about the Persians and Zarathustra comes from the writings of the Greeks centuries later. In spite of this lack of written records, Zoroastrianism did well until Alexander the Great arrived in Persia.
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