ZOROASTRIANISM, the religious system of ancient Persia as founded by Zoroasses. whose religious teachings are preserved in the Avesta, one of the world's oldest sacred bodes The character of the Persian religion in pre zoroastrian times has been a frequent subject of inquiry, but while authentic is known. there is every reason to infer ter-.am similarity with the ancient faith of the Hindus Iran and India were not so distant from each other as to make impossible commttnicatice one with the other. If we turn to Henxi..)=.s as informant (Hist. i, 31ff.) the Persians are said to have worshipped from antiquity thr sun, moon and stars, the earth, the waters and the wind, the crassest polytheism. He inti mates also that they borrowed some notions from Assyria and practised ccrta.z rites against which the prophet protested_ His account too of the Magian ceremonies ma. catcs that they were not inconsonant ma Zoroastrianism. Ed Mcjer in the Report./ o: the Prussian Academy (ICOR) shows boa re cently discovered Hittite inscriptions hate a distinct bearing on the old creed of Iran ape which the religion of the prophet was based that Aryan folk-religion, polytheistic in its nature. many of whose divinities, Mom) arse the rest, are not strangers in the In.f.ar pantheon, while diversities as well as simian ties abound in the theologies of bock The first dtaracterisnc acmes of Zoroastrianism is its doctrine of dualism which personifies the opposing principles of good and evil, and recognizes the universal sway of these hostile forces. Briefly to de scribe this vital feature, the powers of good are led by Sharamazda or Ormuzd ('the \Vise Lord°); those of evil by Ahriman ('the Spiritual Foe"). These opposing hosts, as if trained to combat and command by Oriental despots, have in their return an array of war riors, with the skill and persistency of actual armies. On one side are bands of angels and archangels; on the other companies of demons and archfiends. Under the general name of Amesha Spcntas (*Immortal Holy Ones') are grouped the six archangels, who personify fundamental virtues and abstract ideas, and whose Persian names represent *Good Mind,* 'Perfect Righteousness," '.'sVished of a King dom,' 'Earthly Harmony,' 'Salvation,' 'Im mortality.' In addition, are a number of angels
and lesser divinities, called 'Worshipful Ones* who are more eminent than the rest, and in dude divine personifications of the planets, fire, air, water, the spirits of the righteous and some abstract notions like religion, glory, victory, Mithra, a divinity who incarnates light and truth. The opposing army, commanded by Ahriman, is less disciplined. Its chief archfiend is the demon 'Esti= (Datro). A crowd of lesser fiends and de mons ('dacha' ttdruyi) accompany the six archfiends.
The The world's history is nothing but the story of the contest between good and evil, light and darkness, which shall endure for 12,000 years, divided into four periods of 3,000 bears each. The first period is one of spiritual existence. Conscious that Ahri man lives, Ormuzd makes the world a spiritual creation before it assumes the material form. When Ahrunan discos ers his enemy at work, he arouses to life his army of demons and fiends. In the second Epoch Ormuzd creates the material world, which is invaded by Ahri man and his cohoits. The third period marks the contest for mastery between the rivals and the battle for the human soul until Zoruaster is born. A new Epoch is now com menced, as the fourth and last 3,00U years be gins. The prophet and his three sons, to be born in ages to come, the last being the Mes siah, liberally 'he who will lenetit and sale the world,' preside oser the final eon. This dualism is an approach to monotheism, as it teaches the ultimate sway of Ormuzd — its hopeful philosophy tit the world's regeneration is not to be overlooked. Throughout the con flict, man is the ehici factor, fur all depends upon his choice as tree aqent, of the good The final aim of &roaster s system is to as sure world perfection by the individual's adoption of the right path. This will come to pass, with the setting up of the '(.nod king dom.' the ''s\ 1,hctl for Kingdom." or the 'Kingdom of Desire,' as the Avesta expresses it_ As the world enters the stage of regenere tion, Ahriman form. his hosts for a battle. They arc defeated, and good is to fores cr. Accompanying the advent of the tdc•siali Oausliayatil occur the resurrec tion of the dead and the judgment of the world. to be.