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Zoroastrianism is the religion and philosophy based on the teachings ascribed by the prophet Zoroaster (Zarathustra, Zartosht). Mazdaism is the religion that acknowledges the divine authority of Ahura Mazda, proclaimed by Zoroaster.

As demonstrated by Zoroastrian creed and articles of faith, the two terms are effectively synonymous. In a declaration of the creed — the Fravarānē — the adherent states: "…I profess myself a devotee of Mazda, a follower of Zarathustra." (Yasna 12.2, 12.8)

While Zoroastrianism was once the dominant religion of much of Iran, the number of adherents has dwindled to not more than 200,000 Zoroastrians worldwide, with concentrations in India and Iran.

Selected article

Avestan is an Eastern Old Iranian language that was used to compose the sacred hymns and canon of the Zoroastrian Avesta. Iranian languages are part of the Indo-Iranian Language group which includes the Indian languages such as Sanskrit. The Indo-Iranian language group is the biggest branch of the Indo-European language family.

Along with Old Persian, Avestan is one of the two oldest Iranian languages of which we have evidence (see also classification, below). The Avestan language should not be confused with the Avestan alphabet, which is a significantly later invention.

Selected biography

Maneckji Nusserwanji Dhalla (September 22, 1875 – May 25, 1956), also abbreviated M. N. Dhalla, was a Zoroastrian priest and religious scholar.

Dhalla is best known for his criticism of the orthodox factions within the Parsi community. In particular, he was stringently opposed to the excessive ritualization of religious practice, including that of the use of the Towers of Silence. In his autobiography, he was also critical of the orthodox refusal to accept converts, noting that "the permanent blockade to an influx from outside, the abandoning of the fold by an increasing number of both men and women, and the ever-falling birth-rate of the community [...] it can be said that [the question of conversion] has become the thread on which hangs the very existence of this microscopic community."

The Encyclopedia Iranica entry for Dhalla – written by the son of a contemporary of Dhalla's with whom the Head Priest was at loggerheads for many years – summarizes Dhallas's position as "embroiled in the problem of proselytizing [...] that plagued the community; even though he held liberal views in the matter, he always sided with the orthodox majority." Dhalla himself merely acknowledged that "in replying to questions concerning ceremonies and conventions I do not give my personal opinion as a thinking individual or as a humble scholar or as a reformist, because I have no authority to do so. I am the Head Priest of a [community] that is 75% conservative and of a performing priest-class that is 99% orthodox. These gentlemen consider the later [traditional treatises] as authentic law-books on customs and conventions, hence my replies are perforce based mainly in conformity with their teachings."

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Remains of Sassanid era fire temple at Takht-i-Suleiman

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