Tag Archives: History of Zoroastrianism

Dadabhai Naoroji and Orientalist scholarship on Zoroastrianism

Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917)
NPG x128698, Dadabhai Naoroji

Patel, Dinyar. 2017. Our own religion in ancient Persia: Dadabhai Naoroji and Orientalist scholarship on Zoroastrianism. Global Intellectual History. 1–18.

Dadabhai Naoroji (1825–1917) is today best known as an economic thinker and an early leader in the Indian nationalist movement. Between the 1860s and 1890s, however, he was also recognized as a scholar of Zoroastrianism, sharing his ideas on Parsi religious reform and ‘authentic’ Zoroastrian belief and practice. Aside from corresponding with some of the leading European Orientalists of his day, Naoroji authored papers on Parsi religious belief and religious reform that were widely distributed and cited in Europe and North America. Over time, he began to function as an interlocutor between European Orientalists and the Parsis in India, disseminating European scholarship amongst his co-religionists while also facilitating scholars’ patronage of the wealthy Parsi community. Naoroji’s correspondence with the Oxford philologist Lawrence H. Mills, in particular, demonstrates this dynamic at work. These activities point to the oftentimes complex and collaborative relationships that existed between non-Europeans and European Orientalists, illustrating the degree to which European scholars could be dependent on the intellectual, financial, and logistical assistance of their objects of study.
Dinyar Patel is a scholar of Modern Indian history and the Indian nationalist movement at the Department of History, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA.

Apostasy and Repentance in Early Medieval Zoroastrianism

8th cent. Tang dynasty Chinese clay figurine of a Sogdian © Museum of Oriental Art (Turin)

Kiel, Yishai & Prods Oktor Skjærvø. 2017. Apostasy and Repentance in Early Medieval Zoroastrianism. Journal of the American Oriental Society 137(2). 221–243.

The Middle Persian (Pahlavi) literature from the early Islamic centuries frequently deals with practical theological issues faced by the Zoroastrian communities under foreign domination. Here, we present a number of questions regarding a Zoroas- trian’s conversion to Islam and his subsequent repentance and desire to return to Zoroastrianism and answers given by ninth- and tenth-century Zoroastrian priestly authorities. It is shown how the priests cite ancient traditions found in the Pahlavi versions of Avestan texts to justify their answers, and then apply them to the contemporary social reality.

A Compendium of Zoroastrian Life & Culture

Cama, Shernaz (ed.). 2016. Threads of continuity: Zoroastrian life & culture. New Delhi: Parzor Foundation.
Threads of Continuity Focuses on the philosophy and cultur of the ancient Zoroastrian faith from its origins i Central Asia, tracing a geographical and chronological continum till the present. This philosophy became a part of the lived heritage of the Zoroastrian community — both in India and Iran.
Of dpecial interest are the cross-cultural influences of the comunity in India. To highlight these, Gujarat and the Deccan will be examined in detail for the first time.
A part of this compendium also studies the contribution of the community to the making of modern India. The programme envisaged, attempts to explain the Zoroastrian philodophy of a sacred thread linking all creation.
 Table of Contents:

Continue reading A Compendium of Zoroastrian Life & Culture

Ritual and Ritual Tradition in Zoroastrianism

“Homo Ritualis: Ritual and Ritual Tradition in Zoroastrianism”

A talk by Shervin Farridnejad (Berlin/Vienna).

Monday, 23 January 2016, 06:30 PM, Österreichische Orient-Gesellschaft Hammer-Purgstall Dominikanerbastei 6/6, 1010 Wien.

This talk is the third and last of a talk series “Kulturwissenschaftliche Iranforschung“,  organized as joint events by the Institute of Iranian studies (IFI) at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) and the Österreichischen Orient-Gesellschaft Hammer-Purgstall, Vienna. The talk will be in German.

Abstract

Rituals play a prominent role in Zoroastrianism, one of the oldest continuous religions of humanity. The importance and practice of the Zoroastrian rituals extend over a wide range of social and local environments, from houses to fire temples as well as from antiquity to modernity. While the sources for exploring Zoroastrian rituals in pre-modern times are predominantly confined to traditional and priestly texts, we have a broader set of sources for modern and contemporary times, including the living ritual tradition of priests and laities. The lecture deals with the presence and importance of the rituals as well as the ritualistic traditions in Zoroastrianism.

You can download the whole program of this talk series here.

Shervin Farridnejad is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Lecturer at the Institute of Iranian Studies (IFI) at the Academy of Science (ÖAW) in Vienna and at the Institute of Iranian Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin.

Achaemenian Palaces and the Zoroastrian Ritual Surfaces

Cylinder seal impression from Daskyleion with royal audience scene, inscribed “Artaxerxes.” Drawing by B. Mussche of Daskyleion inv. no. Erg. 55. After AMI 22, 1989, p. 147, fig. 1 © Encyclopædia Iranica Online

The Old Iranian Absolute Frame of Reference.
To the Orientation of Achaemenian Palaces and the Zoroastrian Ritual Surfaces“.

A talk by Kianoosh Rezania (Bochum).

Monday, 9 January 2016, 06:30 PM, Österreichische Orient-Gesellschaft Hammer-Purgstall Dominikanerbastei 6/6, 1010 Wien.

This talk is the first of a talk series “Kulturwissenschaftliche Iranforschung“,  organized as joint events by the Institute of Iranian studies (IFI) at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) and the Österreichischen Orient-Gesellschaft Hammer-Purgstall, Vienna.

Abstract

For the orientation in space and the linguistic expression of spatial relations of objects, different coordination systems can be used. One of these systems utilizes fixed cardinal directions. The four compass points north, south, east and west constitute the cardinal directions of our absolute frame of reference. Did the Old Iranians employ the same frame of reference likewise with these compass points?
After the representation of different coordination systems, absolute, intrinsic and relative, the paper addresses the Old Iranian absolute frame of reference. By means of the orientation of Achaemenian palaces, the order of countries in the Old Persian list of nations as well as Avestan linguistic evidence, it will be demonstrated that the Old Iranian people did not used our todays compass points for their orientation in space, but employed a different absolute frame of reference. The paper will present the cardinal directions of this system.

You can download the whole program of this talk series here.

Kianoosh Rezania is a professor of Western Asian Religious Studies at the Center for Religious Studies (CERES) of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum.

Zoroastrianism: Religious texts, theology, history and culture

moazoroasMoazami, Mahnaz (ed.). 2016. Zoroastrianism: A collection of articles from the Encyclopaedia Iranica  (Encyclopaedia Iranica Extracts – EIE), 2 vols. New York: Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation.
 Zoroastrian theology, cosmology and cosmogony, history of the faith, its rituals and ceremonies, Avestan and Middle Persian texts, festivals such as Nowruz, Mehregan and Sada, and a host of other topics, hitherto dispersed amidst other entries in their alphabetical sequence in the Encyclopædia Iranica, are gathered together here under one cover. The volume enables the readers to chart their way through complex traditions and debates throughout history, and brings into focus the interdependence of these pioneering contributions. As a thought-provoking and authoritative work of reference, it is a testimony to the fine scholarship and remarkable erudition of its contributors, scholars who have been foremost in ensuring that the Encyclopædia Iranica maintains its high reputation for authoritative comprehensiveness and pioneering research.
List of Contents:

Volume 1

  • Religious Concepts and Philosophy
  • Zoroaster and Zoroastrianism
  • The Elements in Zoroastrianism
  • The Divine Beings (Yazatas)
  • Demons, Fiends, and Witches
  • Zoroastrian Literature
  • Sacrifices and Offerings

Volume 2

  • Ablutions and Purification Ceremonies
  • Prayers, Hymns, and Incantations
  • Priestly Titles and Prominent Zoroastrian Priests
  • Legal Aspects of Zoroastrianism
  • Death and the Afterlife
  • Festivals
  • Places of Worship
  • Zoroastrian Heroes and Adversaries
  • Mythical and Historical Locations
  • Parsi Communities

About the Editor:

Mahnaz Moazami is a Visiting Professor at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies of Yeshiva University. Her research focuses on religion in pre-Islamic Iran, and she has published several articles on different aspects of Zoroastrianism.

Christian-Zoroastrian Dialogue in the Sasanian Period

g13070-9Rezania, Kianoosh. 2015. Einige Anmerkungen zur sasanidisch-zoroastrischen Religionspraxis im Spiegel der interreligiösen Dialoge der Christen und Zoroastrier. In Claudia Rammelt, Cornelia Schlarb & Egbert Schlarb (eds.), Begegnungen in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart: Beiträge dialogischer Existenz ; eine freundschaftliche Festgabe zum 60. Geburtstag von Martin Tamcke, 172–80. Berlin; Münster: LIT Verlag.

The primary sources for Zoroastrianism in the Sasanian Period (3rd-7th. CE) are limited to a few inscriptions, coins and a few Zoroastrian Middle Persian works,  which can be dated with some certainty to this time. The majority of the Zoroastrian Middle Persian texts were written or compiled in the early Islamic period and need to be placed in the religious context of the 9th and 10th centuries. In addition to the primary Zoroastrian sources, however, there are couple of Christian works, which comprise valuable information relatied to the Middle Iranian languages, the Sasanian administration and not least the Zoroastrian theology and religious practice. Most of the literatures, datable to the Sasanian Zoroastrianism are intelectual productions of an inter-religious context. They contain reports of dialogues between Christians and Zoroastrians or represent imaginary dialogues between those religious groups. This paper aims to explore some little known Zoroastrian practices as depicted in such interfaith dialogues.

About the Author:
Kianoosh Rezania is a scholar of Zoroastrianism, Ancient Iranian Studies and the history of religions. He is a visiting research fellow of the Center for Religious Studies (CERES) of Ruhr-Universität Bochum.

Sasanian legal terminology in religious context

Capital and Yield: Sasanian Legal Terminology in Religious Context

A lecture by Arash Zeini on the occasion of a meeting of Corpus Avesticum (CoAv), a European network of scholars aiming to create new and accessible editions of the Zoroastrian sacred texts.

Location: Institute of Iranian Studies, Freie Universität Berlin

Time: 16.06.2016, 18:00 – 20:00

Arash Zeini (PhD 2014, SOAS), is a scholar of Ancient Iranian and Zoroastrian philology, history and culture. His main research interests include the study of ancient Iran, Zoroastrianism, particularly the late antique exegesis of the Avesta, and aspects of digital humanities.

Sources of the Indo-Iranian Liturgies

To the sources of the Indo-Iranian Liturgies

June 9th and 10th 2016, University of Liege

International conference to be held at the department of “Langues et religions du monde indo-iranien ancien” at the University of Liege. This conference is organized by Philippe Swennen, Céline Redard and Hamid Moein and will take place on June 9th and 10th.

Programme:

  • J. Kellens: “Ahu, mainiiu, ratu
  • A. Cantera: “The threefold structure of the Long Liturgy and its daily times of celebration”
  • J. Jurewicz: “Fire and the immortal self. The meaning of Vedic sacrifice”
  • N. Nishimura: “On the first mantra section of the Yajurveda-Saṁhitā”
  • Ph. Swennen: “Lecture de l’ājyaśastra
  • K. Amano: “What is ‘knowledge’ justifying a ritual action? Uses of yá evám véda / yá ev vidván in the Maitrāyaṇī Samhitā”
  • C. Redard: “Les  āfrīnagāns”
  • A. Panaino: “Mysteries and dangers of the Mazdean Nocturnal Liturgy”
  • A. Hintze: “Rejected Ritual Practices”
  • M. Hale: “Interpreting the Indo-Iranian Tradition of the Gathas: the evidence of the Pahlavi and Sanskrit translations”
  • E. Doyama: “Reflections on YH 40,1 from the Perspective of Indo-Iranian Culture”
  • H. Moein: “Ritual Instructions in the Rivayats”
  • M.Á. Andrés-Toledo: “The Vedic and the Avestan Investitures with the Sacred Girdle”
  • G. König: “daēnā, xratu and the mystical view. Some considerations to Alberto Cantera’s essay ‘Talking with god'”
  • J. Ferrer: “La récitation de l’alphabet avestique dans les rituels : innovation ou archaïsme?”
  • J. Houben: “The Indo-Iranian tradition and ancient Indian ritual and conceptual innovations”
  • T. Goto: “Bergung des gesunkenen Sonnenlichts im Rigveda und Avesta”
  • É. Pirart: “L’idée d’hospitalité dans le sacrifice indo-iranien”

Zoroastrianism: History, Themes and Current Trends

Panaino 2016Panaino, Antonio. 2016. Zoroastrismo: storia, temi, attualità. Brescia: Morcelliana.
Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest living religions, which can be traced back at least to the sixth century BC. In its thousand-year history, Zoroastrianism has experienced profound and sometimes radical changes, however its ethical characteristic nature has less changed. The contribution of Zoroastrianism to the religious history of humanity is fundamental: from the ethical dualism to the conception of the history of salvation, and the eschatology,  the resurrection of the body and the individual judgment etc. Based on a deep understanding of the sources of today’s scholarship on Zoroastrainism, of which the author is one of the most important and well-known characters, the book traces the history of Zoroastrisnism from the begining up to modern time. Furthermore the book presents a comprehensive account of Zoroastrian thought and rituals as well an uptodate discussion on the condition of contemporary Zoroastrianism, in particular among the Pārsis.
Table of Contents (see the ToC here as PDF):
  • Lo Zoroastrismo nel suo sviluppo storico
  • Il pensiero zoroastriano e Ia sua espressione rituale
  • Lo Zoroastrismo dalIa caduta dell’Impero Sasanide alla sua condizione contemporanea
  • Bibliografia critica e Sitografia
  • Apparato iconogrfico
  • Luoghi da visitare
  • Breve raccolta antologica di fonti
Antonio Panaino is professor of ancient Iranian philology and hitory of religion at the University of Bologna.