Zoroastrianism is among the oldest and highly influential religions in the world. It refers to a system of beliefs founded in Persia by Zoroaster in the 6th Century BC (Rose 9). Zoroaster was an Iranian prophet and introduced his followers to Ahura Mazda as their deity. The religion set forth in the Zend-Avesta bases its teachings on the concept of struggle between good and evil (Hartz 18). The Avesta is the religion’s book of law, which contains an anthology of petrified writings gathered together over several centuries. Once ranked as the most influential religions in the world, Zoroastrianism started fading during the turn of the 7th Century after Muslims managed to conquer Persia, modern-day Iran (Waterhouse 100).
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Currently, the religion has more than 2.6 million followers in the world, although most of them live in Iran and India. In India, the religion is referred to as Parsiism. The religion has two major features about the concept of God. First, there is a monotheism that believes in only one God (Hartz 24). Second, there is a dualism that applies the doctrine where reality consists of two basic opposing elements such as good and evil or mind and body (Hartz 27).
According to the teachings of Zoroastrianism, human beings can make free choices. However, they warn that the choices have a huge impact on their destiny, thus the need to make the right ones (Waterhouse 123). The religion practices initiation rituals for young boys when they attain the age of seven in India. Fire towers are a common element of Zoroastrianism beliefs. They are mainly used during Yasna, which is a major ceremony that involves sacrificing the sacred liquor (Rose 33). The fire has to stay burning throughout the ceremony.
Hinduism refers to a body of religious and philosophical cultural practices based on a caste system characterized by a belief in a supreme being of many forms and natures (Rosen 17). It is common among people in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. The religion’s teachings are founded on the view that opposing theories apply as elements of one eternal truth based on a desire for liberation from earthly evils (Doniger 51).
Information about the real origin and founder of Hinduism is not known because most of its historic sacred texts were never dated. Hinduism is organized in a system where some followers consider Shiva as their God, while others recognize Brahman (Doniger 69). One of the most important documents for followers of this religion is Vedas. They are sacred writings of Hinduism written in early Sanskrit, an ancient official language of India that is now used only for religious purposes (Michaels 92).
Brahmans, which refer to the priestly class often apply as the symbol of authority in Hinduism along with the Vedas. Hinduism believes in promoting a culture of diversity and a sense of unity among its adherents. Some of the notable themes promoted through the teachings of Hinduism include Dharma, Karma, Moksa, and Yoga. Dharma refers to an ancient sage in the Hindu mythology worshiped as a God (Michaels 112). Karma refers to teachings on the effects of one’s actions, which determine their fate in the present life and the next incarnation. Moksa refers to the release from the cycle of rebirth. Yoga involves going through the paths of actions, knowledge, and devotion as a way of promoting the control of body and mind.
Doniger, Wendy. The Hindus: An Alternative History. London: OUP Oxford, 2010. Print.
Hartz, Paula. Zoroastrianism. California: Info Base Publishing, 2009. Print.
Michaels, Axel. Hinduism: Past and Present. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2004. Print.
Rose, Jenny. Zoroastrianism: An Introduction. New York: I.B. Tauris, 2011. Print.
Rosen, Steven. Essential Hinduism. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006. Print.
Waterhouse, John. Zoroastrianism. New York: Book Tree, 2006. Print.