Zarathushtra - (Zoroaster)

 

 

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Zarathushtra's Place

 

 

In Zarathushtra’s life, there are two important places: where he was born, and where he converted King Vishtaspa to his philosophy. In the first case, the importance is self-evident, in the second case, it is important because that was the turning point of the propagation of Zarathushtra’s philosophy, where his religion began to increase in leaps and bounds.

Like the time of Zarathushtra, his place is also the subject of many scholarly disputes and disagreements. There are two major groups. One group places his birthplace in Western Iran, mainly based on the traditional evidence that he was one of the magi, coming from a priestly family. The other claims that he was born in North Eastern Iran, mainly on historical and philological evidence. And within each group, there are many different claims to the exact location of his birth.

The following is a table of some of the locations claimed to be his birthplace and some of the claims on King Vishtaspa’s country:

Eastern Iran
Airyana Vaejah Vendidad and Younger Avesta Based on the Pahlavi text of some of the scripture, it is claimed that Zarathushtra was born in Airyana Vaejah, which is somewhere in northeastern Iran.

Some also claim that this area was in the Central Siberian plateau, between the rivers Ob and Lena.
Avestan Ragha Gershevitch based on Yasna 19:18 The Avestan Ragha, according to Gershevitch is somewhere in Eastern Iran, whose location is not known.
Khwarezmia (Chorasmia) Henning based on Herodotus Herodotus identifies Khwarezmia as the land of Vishtaspa
Balkh, Bactria Zarathusht Nama & Shahnameh Zarathusht Nama, written in the 9th century CE, claims that Zarathushtra left his homeland and traveled to Balkh, where the court of King Vishtaspa was located. Shahnameh also outlines the same story in much detail.
Sistan Vendidad and Zamyad Yasht The place from where the Saoshyant (World Savior) is to be born. Gnoli after studying the geographical names of this province claims that Zarathushtra was born there.
Sogdia (Sughda)    
Marv (Margiana)    
Western Iran
Raga (Media) Herzfeld Herzfeld verifies the claims of the ancient Medians that the Ragha mentioned in the Vendidad and Yasna refers to the city of Raga, south of present day Tehran.
Azerbaijan Jackson Bundahishn, which was written in the mentions Airyana Vaejah is somewhere in Azerbaijan.
Nishapur, Parthia Bundahishn Parthians too, lay claim that after king Vishtaspa accepted Zarathushtra’s religion, he built a fire temple on Mount Revant, near Nishapur.
Media (Manda)    
Other
Arachosia Various historical rulers and people as well as scholars have claimed Zarathushtra’s birth place to be in different parts of that region, some of which are not even in the ancient Iran, or any of the known Aryan lands.
Mabug (northern Syria)
Babylon

 

What is evident from the historical accounts is that since there is a distinct lack of reference to the location of Zarathushtra’s birth, or King Vishtaspa’s country in the Gathas, historians have had to refer to post Zarathushtra literature.

Furthermore, it seems that although initially people knew where Airyana Vaejah was, with the passing of time, they lost any sense of recognition of this land. So as the geographical land became a mythic place, only passed along in legendary stories, the priests and rulers of different places began to claim that their land was where Zarathushtra was born, or their country was that of King Vishtaspa.

They began to find locations with similar names as those referred to in the earlier accounts, to prove their points, and consequently created more legendary stories.

From linguistic and historical evidence of the Aryan migration, and assuming that Zarathushtra was born somewhere around or just before the migration, it is safe to assume that his place, as well as that of King Vishtaspa was either somewhere around the Aral sea, or somewhere further to the North East.

Shahriar Shahriari
December 8, 1997
Vancouver, Canada


Information presented in the table above are extracted from:

  1. Dr. Sam Kerr's articles: The domain of Zarathushtra, 1995 and The domain of Zarathushtra Revisited, 1997,
  2. Feroze Cawasji Davar's book, The Vision of Zarathushtra, Bombay, 1997,
  3. Sarosh J.H. Manekshaw’s article, The Homeland of Zarathushtra, 1997,
  4. Dr. Daryoush Jahanian’s article, Zarathushtra’s Time and Homeland, 1997, and
  5. Khorshed Jungalwala's article, The Birthplace of Asho Zarathushtra, 1997.

 


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