From: John Prince
Date: 02 Jul 2000
I am interested in Zoroastrianism and its history. My first question is about the authenticity of some of the resources posted on the net or available in other places. I understand that the Gathas are the only remaining writings of Zarathustra, (by the way, why are they called Yasnas, once you click on the link on your webpage labelled Gathas?)
How important are the other writings to Zoroastrians?
There is a webpage at http://www.avesta.org/avesta.html, in which there are a number of very interesting documents, but it seems to me that they are collections of writings of many persons, of whom the importance is at least to me completely unclear. Maybe that is just my lack of information. In particular there is a link on the above page labelled the Zoroastrian Catechism. Apparently date and author of this document is unknown, but it says it sums up succinctly the whole of Zoroastrian doctrine: it is what every boy and girl of fifteen must know before he or she is invested with the sacred girdle [[kusti]]."
Are there persons of authority in Zosoastrianism, like the pope, or how are these texts selected?
What actually is the Avesta. Is it just the collection of Gathas or is there more to it? How was it decided what else is part of it, if there is anything apart from the Gathas in it?
Are there still Magi today? Where the Magi a priestly cast which originally served other gods and religions?
What about the ancient Persian kings? From Darius onwards it seems clear, that they were Zoroastrians, but I came across the claim that Cyrus and Cambyses were Zoroastrians also? On his famous cylinder inscription Cyrus only thanked the Babylonian god Marduk. He even says that the god walked with him like a friend. He seemed to persue a policy of religious freedom in his realm. A Jew actually told me that he was the Messiah, because he allowed the Jews to rebuild their temple.
What historical evidence is there that links king Cyrus with Ahura Mazda? Is there any for Cambyses? What is known about Gaumata, the Magi, who pretended to be Cambyses brother and ruled Persia for a short period after Cambyses’ death? Was Gaumata a Zoroastrian or was he a priest of another religion? Maybe it is the case that the word Magi in ancient Persian just denotes any kind of priest?
I’d be thankful for any hints on these matters.