Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.

Zoroastrianism - Magi

« Back to Projects Dashboard

view all

Profiles

Zoroastrianism also called Magi مُغ‎ , founded in the eastern part of ancient Greater Iran, is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster (Zarathustra) and was formerly among the world's largest religions.

The political power of the pre-Islamic Iranian dynasties lent Zoroastrianism immense prestige in ancient times, and some of its leading doctrines were adopted by other religious systems.

Zoroaster was born in either Northeast Iran or Southwest Afghanistan. He was born into a Bronze Age culture with a polytheistic religion, which included animal sacrifice and the ritual use of intoxicants. This religion was quite similar to the early forms of Hinduism in India.

Born into the Spitama clan, he worked as a priest. He had a wife, three sons, and three daughters. Zoroaster rejected the religion of the Bronze Age Iranians, with their many gods and oppressive class structure, in which the Karvis and Karapans (princes and priests) controlled the ordinary people. He also opposed animal sacrifices and the use of the hallucinogenic Haoma plant (possibly a species of ephedra) in rituals.

Zoroastrianism also includes beliefs about the renovation of the world and individual judgment, including the resurrection of the dead. Individual judgment at death is by the Bridge of Judgment, which each human must cross, facing a spiritual judgment. Humans' actions under their free will determine the outcome. In Zoroastrian eschatology, a 3,000-year struggle between good and evil will be fought, punctuated by evil's final assault.

The Book of Abramelin

The Book of Abramelin tells the story of an Egyptian mage named Abramelin, or Abra-Melin, who taught a system of magic to Abraham of Worms, a German Jew presumed to have lived from c.1362–c.1458. Read Full Wikipedia Article

Magi

The ancient Magi were a hereditary priesthood of the Medes credited with profound and extraordinary religious knowledge. After some Magi, who had been attached to the Median court, proved to be expert in the interpretation of dreams, Darius the Great established them over the state religion of Persia.

It was in this dual capacity whereby civil and political counsel was invested with religious authority, that the Magi became the supreme priestly caste of the Persian Empire, and continued to be prominent during the subsequent Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian periods.

Daniel

One of the titles given to Daniel was Rab-mag, the Chief of the Magi. His unusual career included being a principal administrator in two world empires: the Babylonian and the subsequent Persian Empire. When Darius appointed him, a Jew, over the previously hereditary Median priesthood, the resulting repercussions resulted in the plots leading to the lion’s den. Daniel apparently entrusted a Messianic vision (to be announced in due time by a “star”) to a secret sect of the Magi for its eventual fulfillment.

Since the days of Daniel, the fortunes of both the Persian and the Jewish nations had been closely intertwined. Both nations had, in their turn, fallen under Seleucid domination in the wake of Alexander’s conquests. Subsequently both had regained their independence: the Jews under Maccabean leadership, and the Persians as the dominating ruling group within the Parthian Empire.

The Magi Entourage to Jerusalem

  • 1. Melchior (also Melichior), a Persian scholar
  • 2. Caspar (also Gaspar, Jaspar, Jaspas, Gathaspa, and other variations), an Indian scholar
  • 3. Balthazar (also Balthasar, Balthassar, and Bithisarea), an Arabian scholar.

In Jerusalem, the sudden appearance of the Magi, probably traveling in force with every imaginable oriental pomp and accompanied by adequate cavalry escort to insure their safe penetration of Roman territory, certainly alarmed Herod and the populace of Jerusalem. Their request of Herod regarding the one “who has been born King of the Jews” was a calculated insult to him, a non-Jew who had contrived and bribed his way into that office.

Consulting his scribes, Herod discovered from the prophecies in the Tanach (the Old Testament) that the Promised One, the Messiah, would be born in Bethlehem. Hiding his concern and expressing sincere interest, Herod requested them to keep him informed.

After finding the babe and presenting their prophetic gifts, the Magi “being warned in a dream” (a form of communication most acceptable to them) departed to their own country, ignoring Herod’s request.

Notable Zoroastrians

There are between 124,000 and 190,000 Zoroastrians worldwide.

Famous Zoroastrians

--------------------------------------

Zoroastrian Directory

  1. World Zoroastrian Organization
  2. India Portal
  3. Shiraz Iran
  4. Farevahar
  5. Ancient Iran
  6. Traditional Zoroastrian Website
  7. Oshihan Org
  8. Zoroastrian Org
  9. Bahai/Zoroastrian
  10. Zoroastrians Info
  11. Zoroastrians Net
  12. Books
  13. Persian Zoroastrian Organization
  14. USA - North America
  15. USA - California
  16. USA - Washington
  17. USA - NY
  18. Canada - Ontario
  19. Australia
  20. United Kingdom

--------------------------------------

List of Zoroastrians

Greater Iran

  • ▪ Farhang Mehr, (1923- ): former Deputy Prime Minister of Iran
  • ▪ Jamshid Bahman Jamshidian, (1851–1933): pioneer of modern banking in Iran
  • ▪ Keikhosrow Shahrokh, (1864–1929): proponent of the Iranian civil calendar and designer of the Ferdowsi mausoleum

Indian subcontinent

Science and Industry

  • ▪ Cowasji Shavaksha Dinshaw (Adenwalla) (1827–1900): entrepreneur; founder of the modern port of Aden
  • ▪ Byram Dinshawji Avari (1942- ): Pakistani hotelier, founder and chairman of the Avari Group of companies.
  • Homi Jehangir Bhabha (1909–1966): nuclear scientist; first chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission.
  • ▪ Adi Bulsara (1952-): Physicist
  • ▪ Ardaseer Cursetjee of the Wadia shipbuilding family, first Indian elected Fellow of the Royal Society.
  • ▪ Keki Dadiseth (1946- ): Home and Personal Care Director, Unilever plc
  • ▪ Nadirshaw Edulji Dinshaw (18??-1924?): industrialist and philanthropist; NED Engineering College.
  • ▪ Ardeshir Godrej (1868–1936): inventor; co-founder (with his brother Piroj) of the Godrej industrial empire
  • ▪ Pirojsha Godrej (1882–1972): entrepreneur; co-founder (with his brother Ardeshir) of the Godrej industrial empire
  • ▪ Avabai Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy Lady, continued her husband Sir Jamsetji Jeejeebhoy philanthropic work, builder of Mahim Causeway, connects two islands of Bombay and Salsette (north Bombay.)
  • ▪ Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Sir: philanthropist and founder of B.J. Medical College, Pune.
  • ▪ Jamsetji Jeejeebhoy, Sir (1783–1859): opened sea trade with China; philanthropist, J J Hospital,
  • ▪ Cowasjee Jehangir, Sir (1879–1962): civil engineer; master constructor of Bombay
  • ▪ Fardunjee Marzban (1787–1847): publisher, founded the first vernacular newspaper on the Indian subcontinent Bombay Samachar
  • Pallonji Mistry (1929- ): construction tycoon
  • ▪ Hormusjee Naorojee Mody, Sir (1838–1911): financier and industrialist in Hong Kong
  • ▪ Dinshaw Maneckji Petit, Sir (1823–1901): founded the first textile factories in India
  • ▪ Cyrus Poonawalla (1945- ): industrialist, pharmacologist; co-founder of the Serum Institute of India
  • ▪ Cowasji Jehangir Readymoney Sir, (1812-1878), 1st Baronet, philanthropist, including various academic buildings of the Bombay University.
  • ▪ Jehangir Hormusjee Ruttonjee (1880–1960): industrialist; founded Hong Kong's first brewery; established the first anti-tuberculosis sanatorium in the far-east
  • ▪ Nowroji Saklatwala Chairman of Tata group of companies from 1932 till his untimely death in 1938.
  • ▪ Homi Nusserwanji Sethna (1924-2010): Padma Vibhushan awardee, chemical engineer; guided the development of India's first nuclear explosive device.
  • ▪ Ardeshir Darabshaw Shroff (1899–1965): economist; delegate at the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference; co-author of the Bombay Plan; founder-director of the Investment Corporation of India; first Indian chairman of the Bank of India
  • ▪ Dorabji Tata, Sir (1859–1932): industrialist and philanthropist, Sir Dorab Tata Trust.
  • ▪ Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata (1839–1904): industrialist; founder of the Tata group of companies, titled a "One-Man Planning Commission" by Nehru
  • ▪ Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy (J. R. D.) Tata (1904–1993): industrialist; founder of India's first commercial airline: Air India
  • ▪ Ratan Jamshetji Tata, Sir, younger son of Jamshetji Tata, industrialist and philanthropist, Sir Ratan Tata Trust
  • ▪ Ratan Naval Tata (1937- ): Chairman of the Tata Group of companies; member of the central board of the Reserve Bank of India
  • ▪ Lovji Nusserwanjee Wadia (1702–1774): shipwright and naval architect; builder of the first dry-dock in Asia
  • ▪ Ness Wadia (1970-): joint-Managing Director of Bombay Dyeing.
  • ▪ Spenta R. Wadia theoretical physicist.
  • Nusli Wadia
  • Neville Wadia

Academia

  • ▪ Mahzarin Banaji: Professor of Psychology, Harvard University
  • ▪ Jamshed Bharucha (1956- ): President, Cooper Union. Formerly, Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences at Dartmouth College (first Indian American to serve as the dean of a school at an Ivy League institution).
  • ▪ Homi K. Bhabha (1949- ): cultural-studies theorist; Professor, Harvard University.
  • ▪ Rusi Taleyarkhan: Professor of Nuclear Engineering at Purdue University.

Military

  • ▪ Ardeshir Tarapore: Lieutenant Colonel, Indian Army, winner of the Param Vir Chakra, India's highest award for gallantry
  • ▪ Aspy Engineer (1912-2002): Former Chief of the Air Staff, Indian Air Force.
  • ▪ Fali Homi Major (1947-): Former Chief of the Air Staff of the Indian Air Force.
  • ▪ Sam Manekshaw (1914–2008): Former Indian Army chief and the Second Indian Field Marshal
  • ▪ Jal Cursetji (1919-): Former Chief of the Naval Staff, Indian Navy
  • ▪ Adi M. Sethna: Former Vice Chief of the Army Staff, Indian Army
  • ▪ FN Billimoria: Lieutenant General, father of Karan Bilimoria, Lord Bilimoria
  • ▪ Minoo Merwan Engineer -Air Marshall

Entertainment, Religion, Art & Sports

  • ▪ Aruna Irani : Bollywood actress.
  • ▪ Boman Irani (1959- ): Bollywood actor
  • ▪ Anaita Shroff Adajania (1972- ) : Film Stylist & Fashion Director Vogue India
  • ▪ Shiamak Davar : Bollywood choreographer
  • ▪ Homi Adajania (1972- ): Film Director, Writer and Scuba Diving Instructor
  • ▪ Erick Avari (1952- ): Hollywood actor.
  • ▪ Ardeshir Irani - Filmmaker
  • ▪ Cyrus Broacha (1971- ): MTV India VJ and stand-up comedian.
  • ▪ Behram "Busybee" Contractor (1930–2001): journalist and columnist.
  • ▪ Nariman "Nari" Contractor (1934- ): cricketer; coach at the CCI Academy.
  • ▪ Ardeshir Cowasjee (1926- ): investigative journalist and newspaper columnist.
  • ▪ Nauheed Cyrusi (1982- ): model, film actress, television presenter
  • ▪ Bejan Daruwalla (1931- ): astrologer.
  • ▪ Keki Daruwalla (1937- ), poet and writer
  • ▪ Sam Dastor (1941- ): television actor and director.
  • ▪ Maneckji Nusserwanji Dhalla (1875–1956): high priest and religious scholar.
  • ▪ Farrukh Dhondy (1944- ): novelist, short story writer, screenwriter, journalist.
  • ▪ Diana Eduljee (1956 - ): first captain of the Indian women’s Cricket team – from 1978 till 1993
  • ▪ Farokh Engineer (1938- ): cricketer.
  • ▪ Karishmeh Felfeli: musician, radio personality, founder-director of the Glenn Gould Project.
  • ▪ Zerbanoo Gifford (1950- ): human rights campaigner
  • ▪ Kaizad Gustad (1968- ): film director.
  • ▪ Boman Irani (1962-) : Indian film and theatre actor, host of the 2007 IIFA

Awards

  • ▪ Aban Marker Kabraji (1953-) : Pakistani ecologist, Asian regional director of IUCN
  • ▪ Firdaus Kanga (1960- ): author, actor and screenwriter.
  • ▪ Rustom Khurshedji Karanjia (1912–2008): Journalist & editor, founder of India's first tabloid, Blitz.
  • ▪ Persis Khambatta (1950–1998): actress and model. Miss India in 1965.
  • ▪ Firdaus Kharas (1955–): animation, television and film producer and director.
  • ▪ Mehr Jesia Indian model
  • ▪ Shapur Kharegat (1932–2000): Journalist, editor and director of The Economist (Asia).
  • ▪ Behramji Malabari (1853–1912): poet, publicist, author, and social reformer.
  • ▪ Meher Baba (Merwan Sheriar Irani, 1894-1969)Indian Mystic
  • ▪ Eruch Jessawala, Meher Baba's interpreter
  • ▪ Mehli Mehta (1908–2002): musician; founder of the Bombay Philharmonic and Bombay String Orchestras.
  • ▪ Zarin Mehta (1938- ): musician; executive director of the New York Philharmonic since 2000
  • ▪ Zubin Mehta (1936- ): musician; Musical Director for Life of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, former director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic and Bavarian State Opera and presently (--2011)the Israel Philharmonic.
  • ▪ Freddie Mercury (Farrokh Bulsara, 1946–1991): rock icon and lead singer for Queen.
  • ▪ Deena M. Mistri (19??- ): author and educationalist; recipient of Pakistan's "Pride of Performance" medal.
  • ▪ Rohinton Mistry (1952- ): novelist, short story author, screenplay writer.
  • ▪ Jivanji Jamshedji Modi Sir, Zoroastrian scholar, Ph.D from Heidelberg, Germany, recognition and awards, for scholarship, from Sweden, France, and Hungary.
  • ▪ Sohrab Modi (1897–1984): stage and film actor, director and producer.
  • ▪ Ray Panthaki (1979- ): actor and film producer
  • ▪ Cyrus Poncha (1976- ): Asian Squash Federation Junior Coach of the Year 2003-4.
  • ▪ Bapsi Sidhwa (1938- ): author and screenwriter; vocal proponent of women's rights
  • ▪ Godrej Sidhwa (1925- ): theologian, historian and high priest.
  • ▪ Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (1892–1988): composer, music critic, pianist, and writer.
  • ▪ Sooni Taraporevala (1957- ): screenwriter, author and photographer.
  • ▪ Pahlan Ratanji "Polly" Umrigar (1926–2006): cricketer.
  • ▪ Zubin Varla (19??- ): stage actor.
  • ▪ Nina Wadia (1968- ): British-Indian comedienne and television actress, currently and most notably from EastEnders.
  • ▪ Perizaad Zorabian (1973- ): model, film actress
  • ▪ Jehangir Sabavala (1922–2011), painter

Politicians, Activists etc.

  • ▪ Minocher Bhandara (1937?-2008): Pakistani parliamentarian and owner of Muree Brewery.
  • ▪ Mancherjee Bhownagree (1851–1933): politician, second Asian to be elected to the House of Commons (Conservative).
  • ▪ Jamsheed Marker (1922- ): Pakistani diplomat, ambassador to more countries than any other person; recipient of Hilal-i Imtiaz.
  • ▪ Minoo Masani (1905–1998): author, parliamentarian and a member of the Constituent Assembly.
  • ▪ Frene Ginwala (1932- ): Is a member of the ANC and aided Nelson Mandela in abolishing apartheid in South Africa. Later served for 7 years as Speaker Of the House of Parliament in South Africa
  • ▪ Jamshed Nusserwanjee Mehta (1886–1952): former Mayor of Karachi for 12 consecutive years.
  • ▪ Justice Dorab Patel (1924–1997): Former Chief Justice of Sindh High Court, former Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan and human rights campaigner.
  • ▪ Cowasji Jehangir (Readymoney) (1812–1878): J.P.; introduced income tax in India; first baronet of Bombay.
  • ▪ Rustam S. Sidhwa (1927-1997): judge on the Supreme Court of Pakistan as well as one of the original eleven judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
  • ▪ Shapurji Saklatvala (1874–1936): socialist, workers' welfare activist, third Asian to be elected to the House of Commons (Communist, Labour).
  • ▪ B. P. Wadia (1881-1958), Indian theosophist and labour activist. Pioneered the creation of workers unions in India.

Indian Independence Movement

  • ▪ Bhikaiji Cama (1861–1936): political activist, co-creator of the Indian nationalist flag.
  • ▪ Feroze Gandhi (1912–1960): journalist and politician; Indian MP under Jawaharlal Nehru; father of Rajiv Gandhi and grandfather of Rahul Gandhi.
  • ▪ Pherozeshah Mehta, Sir (1845–1915): political activist, co-founder and first President of the Indian National Congress, founder of the Bombay Municipal Corporation.
  • ▪ Dadabhai Naoroji (1825–1917): economist, political activist, first Asian to be elected to the House of Commons (Liberal), first to publicly demand independence from Great Britain.
  • ▪ Khurshed Framji Nariman (18??-19??): social activist, Mayor of Bombay. Member of the Indian National Congress.

Law

  • ▪ Sam Piroj Bharucha (1937- ): Chief Justice of India.
  • ▪ S. H. Kapadia- Current Chief Justice of India.
  • ▪ Fali Sam Nariman (1929-): jurist, recipient of the Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan.
  • ▪ Nanabhoy ("Nani") Palkhivala (1920–2002): prominent jurist and economist.
  • ▪ Soli Jehangir Sorabjee (1930- ): former Attorney-General of India.

Others

  • ▪ Rattanbai Petit (1900-1929): second wife of Muhammad Ali Jinnah
  • ▪ Dossabhoy Muncherji Raja (1873–1947): first Indian to be appointed appraiser of precious stones to British Indian customs. Awarded the title of Khan Sahib.
  • ▪ Bukhtyar Rustomji (1899–1936), Mumbai-born Lancaster doctor executed for murdering his wife and a maid

Zoroaster

Zoroaster was known as a sage, magician, and miracle-worker in post-Classical Western culture. Although almost nothing was known of his ideas until the late 18th century, his name was already associated with lost ancient wisdom.

Though he is known to most likely be Parsee/Persian, his birthplace is uncertain, but it is now generally thought that he was born in the eastern part of ancient Greater Iran. Zoroaster was born into the priestly family of the Spitamids and his ancestor Spitāma is mentioned several times in the Gathas.

He is credited with the authorship of the Yasna Haptanghaiti as well as the Gathas, hymns which are at the liturgical core of Zoroastrianism. Most of his life is known through the Zoroastrian texts. Zoroaster was a vegetarian and strongly "forbade any animal sacrifice" on ethical grounds.

His father's name was Pourušaspa, or "Poroschasp," a noble Persian, and his mother's was Dughdova (Duγδōuuā). With his wife, Huvovi (Hvōvi), Zoroaster had three sons, Isat Vastar, Uruvat-Nara and Hvare Ciϑra; three daughters, Freni, Pourucista and Triti. His wife, children and a cousin named Maidhyoimangha, were his first converts after his illumination from Ahura Mazda at age 30.

Zoroaster's death is not mentioned in the Avesta. In Shahnameh 5.92, he is said to have been murdered at the altar by the Turanians in the storming of Balkh in 583 BC. Jamaspa, his son-in-law, then became Zoroaster's successor.

Philosophy

In the Gathas, Zoroaster sees the human condition as the mental struggle between aša (truth) and druj (lie). The cardinal concept of aša—which is highly nuanced and only vaguely translatable—is at the foundation of all Zoroastrian doctrine, including that of Ahura Mazda (who is aša), creation (that is aša), existence (that is aša) and as the condition for Free Will.

The purpose of humankind, like that of all other creation, is to sustain aša. For humankind, this occurs through active participation in life and the exercise of constructive thoughts, words and deeds.

Elements of Zoroastrian philosophy entered the West through their influence on Judaism and Middle Platonism and have been identified as one of the key early events in the development of philosophy. Among the classic Greek philosophers, Heraclitus is often referred to as inspired by Zoroaster's thinking.

Pseudepigraphic Texts

Almost all Zoroastrian pseudepigrapha is now lost, and of the attested texts—with only one exception—only fragments have survived. Pliny's 2nd or 3rd century attribution of "two million lines" to Zoroaster suggest that a formidable pseudepigraphic corpus once existed at the Library of Alexandria.

This corpus can safely be assumed to be pseudepigrapha because no one before Pliny refers to literature by "Zoroaster," and on the authority of the 2nd century Galen of Pergamon and from a 6th century commentator on Aristotle it is known that the acquisition policies of well-endowed royal libraries created a market for fabricating manuscripts of famous and ancient authors.

The exception to the fragmentary evidence (i.e. reiteration of passages in works of other authors) is a complete Coptic tractate titled Zostrianos (after the first-person narrator) discovered in the Nag Hammadi library in 1945. A three-line cryptogram in the colophones following the 131-page treatise identify the work as "words of truth of Zostrianos. God of Truth [logos]. Words of Zoroaster." Invoking a "God of Truth" might seem Zoroastrian, but there is otherwise "nothing noticeably Zoroastrian" about the text and "in content, style, ethos and intention, its affinities are entirely with the congeners among the Gnostic tractates."

Among the named works attributed to "Zoroaster" is a treatise On Nature (Peri physeos), which appears to have originally constituted four volumes (i.e. papyrus rolls). The framework is a retelling of Plato's Myth of Er, with Zoroaster taking the place of the original hero.

While Porphyry imagined Pythagoras listening to Zoroaster's discourse, On Nature has the sun in middle position, which was how it was understood in the 3rd century. In contrast, Plato's 4th century BCE version had the sun in second place above the moon.

Ironically, Colotes accused Plato of plagiarizing Zoroaster, and Heraclides Ponticus wrote a text titled Zoroaster based on (what the author considered) "Zoroastrian" philosophy in order to express his disagreement with Plato on natural philosophy.

These pseudepigraphic texts aside, some authors did draw on a few genuinely Zoroastrian ideas. The Oracles of Hystaspes, by "Hystaspes", another prominent magian pseudo-author, is a set of prophecies distinguished from other Zoroastrian pseudepigrapha in that it draws on real Zoroastrian sources.

Some allusions are more difficult to assess: in the same text that attributes the invention of magic to Zoroaster, Pliny states that Zoroaster laughed on the day of his birth, although in an earlier place (VII, I), Pliny had sworn in the name of Hercules that no child had ever done so before the 40th day from his birth.

This notion of Zoroaster's laughter (like that of "two million verses") also appears in the 9th-11th century texts of genuine Zoroastrian tradition, and for a time it was assumed that the origin of those myths lay with indigenous sources.

Zoroaster was known as a sage, magician, and miracle-worker in post-Classical Western culture. Although almost nothing was known of his ideas until the late 18th century, his name was already associated with lost ancient wisdom. However as early as 1643 statements by Sir Thomas Browne are the earliest recorded references to Zoroaster in the English language.

Zoroaster appears as "Sarastro" in Mozart's opera Die Zauberflöte, which has been noted for its Masonic elements. He is also the subject of the 1749 opera Zoroastre, by Jean-Philippe Rameau.

Enlightenment writers such as Voltaire promoted research into Zoroastrianism in the belief that it was a form of rational Deism, preferable to Christianity. With the translation of the Avesta by Abraham Anquetil-Duperron, Western scholarship of Zoroastrianism began.

In his seminal work Also sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra) (1885) the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche uses the native Iranian name Zarathustra which has a significant meaning[s] as he had used the familiar Greek-Latin name in his earlier works. It is believed that Nietzsche invents a characterization of Zarathustra as the mouthpiece for Nietzsche's own ideas against morality.

Richard Strauss's Opus 30, inspired by Nietzsche's book, is also called Also sprach Zarathustra.

Zoroaster was mentioned by the Irish poet William Butler Yeats. His wife and he were said to have claimed to have contacted Zoroaster through "automatic writing".

The protagonist and narrator of Gore Vidal's 1981 novel Creation is described to be the grandson of Zoroaster.

Zarathustra, the mythic hero in Giannina Braschi's 2011 dramatic novel "United States of Banana", joins forces with Shakespeare's Hamlet to liberate Calderon de la Barca's Segismundo from the dungeon of liberty.

Islam

When the companions of the Prophet, on invading Persia, came in contact with the Zoroastrian people and learned these teachings, they at once came to the conclusion that Zoroaster was really a Divinely inspired prophet. Thus they accorded the same treatment to the Zoroastrian people which they did to other "People of the Book."

Though the name of Zoroaster is not mentioned in the Qur'an, still he was regarded as one of those prophets whose names have not been mentioned in the Qur'an, for there is a verse in the Qur'an: "And We did send apostles before thee: there are some of them that We have mentioned to thee and there are others whom We have not mentioned to Thee." (40 : 78).

Accordingly the Muslims treated the founder of Zoroastrianism as a true prophet and believed in his religion as they did in other inspired creeds, and thus according to the prophecy, protected the Zoroastrian religion.

Ahmadi Muslims view Zoroaster as a Prophet of God and describe the expressions of Ahura Mazda, the God of goodness and Ahraman, the God of evil as merely referring to the coexistence of forces of good and evil enabling humans to exercise free will.

Mirza Tahir Ahmad, the fourth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, in his book Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge & Truth views Zoroaster as Prophet of God and describes such the expressions to be a concept which is similar to the concepts in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Manichaeism

Manichaeism considered Zoroaster to be a figure (along with Jesus and the Buddha) in a line of prophets of which Mani (216–276) was the culmination. Zoroaster's ethical dualism is—to an extent—incorporated in Mani's doctrine, which viewed the world as being locked in an epic battle between opposing forces of good and evil.

Bahá'í

Zoroaster appears in the Bahá'í Faith as a "Manifestation of God", one of a line of prophets who have progressively revealed the Word of God to a gradually maturing humanity. Zoroaster thus shares an exalted station with Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, the Báb, and the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, Bahá'u'lláh.

Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, saw Bahá'u'lláh as the fulfillment of a post-Sassanid Zoroastrian prophecy that saw a return of Sassanid emperor Bahram: Shoghi Effendi also stated that Zoroaster lived roughly 1000 years before Jesus.

Magi مُغ‎

Magi ( /ˈmeɪdʒaɪ/; Latin plural of magus; Ancient Greek: μάγος magos; Old Persian: maguš, Persian: مُغ‎ mogh; is a term, used since at least the 4th century BC, to denote followers of Zoroaster, or rather, followers of what the Hellenistic world associated Zoroaster with, which was – in the main – the ability to read the stars, and manipulate the fate that the stars foretold.

Pervasive throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Asia until late antiquity and beyond, Greek mágos, "Magian" or "magician," was influenced by (and eventually displaced) Greek goēs(γόης), the older word for a practitioner of magic, to include astrology, alchemy and other forms of esoteric knowledge. This association was in turn the product of the Hellenistic fascination for (Pseudo-)Zoroaster, who was perceived by the Greeks to be the "Chaldean" "founder" of the Magi and "inventor" of both astrology and magic.

In English, the term "magi" is most commonly used in reference to the Gospel of Matthew's "wise men from the East", or "three wise men", though that number does not actually appear in Matthew's account. The plural "magi" entered the English language around 1200, in reference to the Biblical magi of Matthew 2:1. The singular appears considerably later, in the late 14th century, when it was borrowed from Old French in the meaning magician together with magic.

Greek sources

The perhaps oldest surviving reference to the magi – from Greek μάγος (mágos, plural: magoi) – is from 6th century BC Heraclitus (apud Clemens Protrepticus 12), who curses the magi for their "impious" rites and rituals. A description of the rituals that Heraclitus refers to has not survived, and there is nothing to suggest that Heraclitus was referring to foreigners.

Better preserved are the descriptions of the mid-5th century BC Herodotus, who in his portrayal of the Iranian expatriates living in Asia minor uses the term "magi" in two different senses. In the first sense (Histories 1.101), Herodotus speaks of the magi as one of the tribes/peoples (ethnous) of the Medes. In another sense (1.132), Herodotus uses the term "magi" to generically refer to a "sacerdotal caste", but "whose ethnic origin is never again so much as mentioned." According to Robert Charles Zaehner, in other accounts, "we hear of Magi not only in Persia, Parthia, Bactria, Chorasmia, Aria, Media, and among the Sakas, but also in non-Iranian lands like Samaria, Ethiopia, and Egypt. Their influence was also widespread throughout Asia Minor. It is, therefore, quite likely that the sacerdotal caste of the Magi was distinct from the Median tribe of the same name."

Other Greek sources from before the Hellenistic period include the gentleman-soldier Xenophon, who had first-hand experience at the Persian Achaemenid court. In his early 4th century BC Cyropaedia, the Athenian depicts the magians as authorities for all religious matters (8.3.11), and imagines the magians to be responsible for the education of the emperor-to-be.

In Persian sources

Avestan 'magâunô', i.e. the religious caste of the Medes which Zoroaster was born into, (see Yasna 33.7:' ýâ sruyê parê magâunô ' = ' so I can be heard beyond Magi '), seems to be the origin of the term.

The term only appears twice in Iranian texts from before the 4th century BC, and only one of these can be dated with precision. This one instance occurs in the trilingual Behistun inscription of Darius I, and which can be dated to about 520 BC. In this trilingual text, certain rebels have 'magian' as an attribute; in the Old Persian portion as maγu- (generally assumed to be a loan word from Median). The meaning of the term in this context is uncertain.

The other instance appears in the texts of the Avesta, i.e. in the sacred literature of Zoroastrianism. In this instance, which is in the Younger Avestan portion, the term appears in the hapax moghu.tbiš, meaning "hostile to the moghu", where moghu does not (as was previously thought) mean "magus", but rather "a member of the tribe"[2] or referred to a particular social class in the proto-Iranian language and then continued to do so in Avestan.

An unrelated term, but previously assumed to be related, appears in the older Gathic Avestan language texts. This word, adjectival magavan meaning "possessing maga-", was once the premise that Avestan maga- and Median (i.e. Old Persian) magu- were co-eval (and also that both these were cognates of Vedic Sanskrit magha-).

While "in the Gathas the word seems to mean both the teaching of Zoroaster and the community that accepted that teaching," and it seems that Avestan maga- is related to Sanskrit magha-, "there is no reason to suppose that the western Iranian form magu (Magus) has exactly the same meaning" as well.

But it "may be, however," that Avestan moghu (which is not the same as Avestan maga-) "and Medean magu were the same word in origin, a common Iranian term for 'member of the tribe' having developed among the Medes the special sense of 'member of the (priestly) tribe', hence a priest."

In Graeco-Roman sources

Byzantine depiction of the Three Magi in a 7th-century mosaic at Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo.

As early as the 5th century BC, Greek magos had spawned mageia and magike to describe the activity of a magus, that is, it was his or her art and practice. But almost from the outset the noun for the action and the noun for the actor parted company. Thereafter, mageia was used not for what actual magi did, but for something related to the word 'magic' in the modern sense, i.e. using supernatural means to achieve an effect in the natural world, or the appearance of achieving these effects through trickery or sleight of hand.

The early Greek texts typically have the pejorative meaning, which in turn influenced the meaning of magos to denote a conjurer and a charlatan. Already in the mid-5th century BC, Herodotus identifies the magi as interpreters of omens and dreams (Histories 7.19, 7.37, 1.107, 1.108, 1.120, 1.128).

The first century Pliny the elder names "Zoroaster" as the inventor of magic (Natural History xxx.2.3), but a "principle of the division of labor appears to have spared Zoroaster most of the responsibility for introducing the dark arts to the Greek and Roman worlds. That dubious honor went to another fabulous magus, Ostanes, to whom most of the pseudepigraphic magical literature was attributed."

For Pliny, this magic was a "monstrous craft" that gave the Greeks not only a "lust" (aviditatem) for magic, but a downright "madness" (rabiem) for it, and Pliny supposed that Greek philosophers—among them Pythagoras, Empedocles, Democritus, and Plato—traveled abroad to study it, and then returned to teach it (xxx.2.8-10).

"Zoroaster" – or rather what the Greeks supposed him to be – was for the Hellenists the figurehead of the 'magi', and the founder of that order (or what the Greeks considered to be an order). He was further projected as the author of a vast compendium of "Zoroastrian" pseudepigrapha, composed in the main to discredit the texts of rivals.

"The Greeks considered the best wisdom to be exotic wisdom" and "what better and more convenient authority than the distant — temporally and geographically — Zoroaster?" The subject of these texts, the authenticity of which was rarely challenged, ranged from treatises on nature to ones on necromancy. But the bulk of these texts dealt with astronomical speculations and magical lore.

One factor for the association with astrology was Zoroaster's name, or rather, what the Greeks made of it. Within the scheme of Greek thinking (which was always on the lookout for hidden significances and "real" meanings of words) his name was identified at first with star-worshiping (astrothytes "star sacrificer") and, with the Zo-, even as the living star. Later, an even more elaborate mytho-etymology evolved: Zoroaster died by the living (zo-) flux (-ro-) of fire from the star (-astr-) which he himself had invoked, and even, that the stars killed him in revenge for having been restrained by him.

The second, and "more serious" factor for the association with astrology was the notion that Zoroaster was a Chaldean.

The alternate Greek name for Zoroaster was Zaratas/Zaradas/Zaratos (cf. Agathias 2.23-5, Clement Stromata I.15), which—so Bidez and Cumont—derived from a Semitic form of his name.

The Pythagorean tradition considered the "founder" of their order to have studied with Zoroaster in Chaldea (Porphyry Life of Pythagoras 12, Alexander Polyhistor apud Clement's Stromata I.15, Diodorus of Eritrea, Aristoxenus apud Hippolitus VI32.2). Lydus (On the Months II.4) attributes the creation of the seven-day week to "the Chaldeans in the circle of Zoroaster and Hystaspes," and who did so because there were seven planets. The Suda's chapter on astronomia notes that the Babylonians learned their astrology from Zoroaster. Lucian of Samosata (Mennipus 6) decides to journey to Babylon "to ask one of the magi, Zoroaster's disciples and successors," for their opinion.

In Chinese sources

Victor H. Mair provides archaeological and linguistic evidence suggesting that Chinese wū (巫 "shaman; witch, wizard; magician", Old Chinese *myag) was a loanword from Old Persian *maguš "magician; magi".

He describes: The recent discovery at an early Chou site of two figurines with unmistakably Caucasoid or Europoid feature is startling prima facie evidence of East-West interaction during the first half of the first millennium Before the Current Era. It is especially interesting that one of the figurines bears on the top of his head the clearly incised graph ☩ which identifies him as a wu (< *myag).

These figurines, which are dated circa 8th century BC, were discovered during a 1980 excavation of a Zhou Dynasty palace in Fufeng County (Shaanxi Province).

Mair connects the ancient Bronzeware script for wu 巫 "shaman" (a cross with potents) with a Western heraldic symbol of magicians, the cross potent ☩, which "can hardly be attributable to sheer coincidence or chance independent origination."

Compared with the linguistic reconstructions of many Indo-European languages, the current reconstruction of Old (or "Archaic") Chinese is more provisional. This velar final -g in Mair's *myag (巫) is evident in several Old Chinese reconstructions (Dong Tonghe's *mywag, Zhou Fagao's *mjwaγ, and Li Fanggui's *mjag), but not all (Bernhard Karlgren's *mywo and Axel Schuessler's *ma).

In Christian tradition

Conventional post-12th century depiction of the Biblical magi (Adoração dos Magos by Vicente Gil).

  • Balthasar, the youngest magiian, bears frankincense and represents Africa. To the left stands
  • Caspar, middle-aged, bearing gold and representing Asia. On his knees is
  • Melchior, oldest, bearing myrrh and representing Europe.

Biblical magi

The word mágos (Greek) and its variants appears in both the Old and New Testaments. Ordinarily this word is translated "magician" in the sense of illusionist or fortune-teller, and this is how it is translated in all of its occurrences except for the Gospel of Matthew, where it is rendered "wise man". However, early church fathers, such as St. Justin, Origen, St. Augustine and St. Jerome, did not make an exception for the Gospel, and translated the word in its ordinary sense, i.e. as "magician".

The Gospel of Matthew states that magi visited the infant Jesus shortly after his birth (2:1-2:12). The gospel describes how magi from the east were notified of the birth of a king in Judaea by the appearance of his star.

Upon their arrival in Jerusalem, they visited King Herod to determine the location of where the king of the Jews had been born. Herod, disturbed, told them that he had not heard of the child, but informed them of a prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. He then asked the magians to inform him when they find the infant so that Herod may also worship him.

Guided by the Star of Bethlehem, the wise men found the baby Jesus in a house (The Gospels do not say if the Magi found him in Bethlehem. It only says that they saw the star and found the child in a house), worshiped him, and presented him with "gifts of gold and of frankincense and of myrrh." (2.11) In a dream they are warned not to return to Herod, and therefore return to their homes by taking another route.

Since its composition in the late 1st century, numerous apocryphal stories have embellished the gospel's account. Of course Matthew 2:16 explicitly states that Herod learned from the wise men that roughly two years had passed since the birth, this is why all male children two years or younger are slaughtered.

In addition to the more famous story of Simon Magus found in chapter 8, the Book of Acts (13:6-11) also describes another magus who acted as an advisor of Sergius Paulus, the Roman proconsul at Paphos on the island of Cyprus. He was a Jew named Bar-Jesus (son of Jesus), or alternatively Elymas. (Another Cypriot magus named Atomos is referenced by Josephus, working at the court of Felix at Caesarea.)

In The Quran (Islamic Tradition)

Although some Islamic scholar have inferred an implicit reference, the Qur'an mentions the 'Majus' or 'Magus' or Magians (المجوس) explicitly only once: <<Surely those who believe [in the message brought to mankind through Muhammad], and those who are Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians, and the Magians, and those who associate [others with Allāh (the God)]- surely will Allah {the God) decide between them on the Day of Resurrection. Lo! Allah (the God) is a witness over all things.>> The Qu'ran 22:17

Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn used the title of "Magus" to refer to the second-highest level of attainment in their degree system. This system, with associated titles, would later be adopted by Aleister Crowley for his occult order A∴A∴, wherein the title "Magus" also designated the second-highest attainable grade of magic (Moses, Buddha, and Lao Tzu being some examples of those who attained this grade). To be a Magi means to journey to give gifts.

References

  • ^ a b c Zaehner, Robert Charles (1961), The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism, New York: MacMillan, p. 163.
  • ^ a b Boyce, Mary (1975), A History of Zoroastrianism, Vol. I, Leiden: Brill, pp. 10–11
  • ^ a b Gershevitch, Ilya (1964), "Zoroaster's Own Contribution", Journal of Near Eastern Studies 23 (1): 12, doi:10.1086/371754, p. 36.
  • ^ a b c Beck, Roger (2003), "Zoroaster, as perceived by the Greeks", Encyclopaedia Iranica, New York: iranica.com.
  • ^ Beck, Roger (1991), "Thus Spake Not Zarathushtra: Zoroastrian Pseudepigrapha of the Graeco-Roman World", in Boyce, Mary; Grenet, Frantz, A History of Zoroastrianism, Handbuch der Orientalistik, Abteilung I, Band VIII, Abschnitt 1, 3, Leiden: Brill, pp. 491–565, p. 516.
  • ^ a b Mair, Victor H. (1990), "Old Sinitic *Myag, Old Persian Maguš and English Magician", Early China 15: 27–47.
  • ^ Al-Marashi, Ibrahim (2000). The Mindset of Iraq's Security Apparatus. Cambridge University: Centre of International Studies. p. 5.
  • ^ Gospel of Matthew2:1 - 12:9; Acts of the Apostles 8:9; 13:6,8; and the Septuagint of Daniel 1:20; 2:2, 2:10, 2:27; 4:4; 5:7, 5:11, 5:15).
  • ^ Drum, W. (1910), "Magi", The Catholic Encyclopedia, New York: Robert Appleton Company