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Religion and ways of ancient Iran
نوشته شده توسط مسعود رضا مدرسی چهاردهی   
چهارشنبه ، 22 مرداد 1393 ، 22:17

Article 30

Published on: religious thought (spring quarterly)

First year 2011

Issue no.1

Al-mustafa International university Iran(new delhi)

Contents of this Article are:

Ancient Religion of IRAN; Worship of God in ancient Iran; Philosophy of Praise of four elements; Philosophy of Praise of Stars; Self realization as the base of ancient faith; Ancient Religion for elite and general people, Innovation and reform of Zoroaster in ancient Religious thought, Zoroastrian faith is not the ancient religion of Iran, Justice in ancient Iran, Human Rights, Happiness and one hundred annual celebrations in Iran, Truthfulness of Iranians, Iran the land of creation; Iranian teachings to other Nations and Religions, ways of ancient Iran, Centralization of Ancient Iran, Traces and imprints of ancient Iran in India.

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Religion and ways of ancient Iran

Ancient Iranians believed in the light and harbingers of new light.  They believed in purity of water, the shinning moon and the Sun, regarded these things sacred and respected them. Our great thinker, Abbas Kevan Qazvini writes, “In ancient Iranian religion, prior to Zoroastrian, Iranians worshipped the origin of matter as God without naming it God and without considering it the origin of existence.  They appreciated it liker a father and a teacher.  General people were silent in regard to the question whether there was anything higher than the origin of matter (Madat-ul-Muwad) and were not allowed to talk about it or give their opinion about it.  Elite according to their understanding and wisdom were free to suggest and express their views.  They could do so on their own and not under demand and pressure of the people.  The people in general were not supposed to cross the limit and had to lie within their limits of people made any move, the elite, despite their internal differences, would unite against them and stop them from interfering.  They would reply to their queries in the light of Philosophy.  They would tell them to look after their jobs and warn them of the consequences of interfering in the cultural and Philosophical matters. They would convince them that there was no utility of higher philosophy in life and the elite did not expect the people in general to possess this knowledge.  They were expected to follow their profession and lead a quiet life.  They expected glamour of life from them and not from the elite as elite were much less in number.  Elite were supposed to work in the field of higher knowledge.[1]

According to Scientists of the Chemistry, they origin of matter (Madat-ul-Muwad) is what remains after the final analysis of a body and can’t be analysed any further and the same remains as a result of chemical analysis of all bodies.  So it is guessed that this is what existed in the beginning and gradually other elements and molecules were added to it, when and how these additions took place, is not known.  So one should expect attributes of God coming from it.  It should be expected to be God and creatures should Regulate their behaviour in relation to it.  Since it exists in everything, everything should

Be regarded great.  They should know that what exists at the end of the analysis is lighter than Ether and is also more powerful, but is void of sense and authority and is rather subordinate to the analysis and analyst.  So it is said that nature is void of sense and its moves are all accidental.  But the thinkers do not stop here and further think about it, whether they win or lose is immaterial to them. They are restless and keep on pondering over it.[2]

Since in the past instruments of Chemistry were not available or at least advanced instruments were not there, perfect analysis could not be done.  The ancient Iranian Scientists used to determine the Madat-ul-Muvad by guess work and hence used to have four views which Arabs call four elements.  So they suggest that Iranians worshipped fire and attended less to water and air and least to the soil.  So Iranians mostly came to be known as fire worshippers.[3]

Wisdom teaches to attribute sense to this final remain of analysis which is beyond our perception.  The scholar of nature says that there is no harm in accepting it as God [4] or the Supreme soul as held by Philosophers and theologians.[5]

Ancient Iranians used to pray to stars also and considered shining star (shinning Hoor)[6] as a higher power and energy.  (God, in the holy Qoran has sworn in the name of abode of Stars).

The energy which creates Day and Night, four stages of human life and four seasons, is the rotation and movement of stars.  Stars are the sacred souls on skies and have opted stars as their body and are moving in the direction of single unit energy in the environment.  (Vast Skies).  The sun moves in its orbit, Sun whose rays are the air, the most important of all nourishments of human life.

Whatever exists on earth or will exist on earth is due to sunshine[7].

Ancient Iranians argue that whatever influences life like this and arranges day and night and its calendar, has a high status and deserves respect and appreciation.  Khayyam has a treatise about the change of seasons and climate under the impact of movement of stars.  I have re-edited and produced it.[8]

According to the ancient Iranian belief the human soul after completing degrees of perfection assumes the form of star.  What till now has been in the limitation of body and was influenced by the matter, has now reached the state of human perfection and shines in the space and itself influences the matter of existence.[9]

The ancient religious thought was based on recognition of the self which leads to the recognition of God.[10]  This theory removes pride and self-conceit.  One has to face all problems till one gets to the reality.  After the death of this self, the obvious dies, the soul in the grip of hell, does not move away from itself.[11] (7)

In ancient Iran, there were two forms of religion, one for the requirement of masses, so that others do not divert or misguide them.  It was superfluous and brief, both in belief and prayers and in habits, customs, traditions and prayers was to be performed before the sunrise.  Similar instructions were there for women and their prayers during the monthly period.

The other form of religion was for the elite, nobles and Kings.  Expectation from them was much more than from people in general.  They had high claims and were proud of their knowledge and practices. With priests and religious leaders, who had the charge of religious affairs and all looked towards them and their philosophical knowledge?  They maintained relations. Priests had a right to guide and also to find fault in actions of the people and were authorized to give their opinion. They wrote religious texts and interrupted opinion.  They wrote religious texts and interpreted philosophy with their knowledge.  They relied on their intellectual power.  Their intellect was as strong as the arrow of Rustam which could pierce a thick tree. They would bring hundreds of arguments to prove the existence of God of 18000 existences.  They would say that wisdom is unique.  The Greek Philosophers who had supremacy in knowledge used to worship several gods.

They did not have the courage to speak of the unity, at the most, they expected the elite to put up Philosophical argument, but valid and convincing.  It should be a guiding principle and not of following.

The Zoroastrianism was born during the days of Geshtasp and was confirmed under his seal. At later stage it became official religion of Iran.  It was supported by the King power.  A group including Keyvan believed that it was due to instigation of Geshtasp himself, Zoroaster was tortured, till he believed.[12]  Strange, it sounds.

So, it is clear that Zoroastrianism was not the ancient faith of Iran.  Zoroaster himself was trained in the school of ancient cult of Iran i.e. Cult of Hoshang.  He made some modifications in the cult of Hoshang and created a new religion.

In the Hoshang Cult the special soul was related to the elite.  Even the King was required to observe control on self, piety and to keep away from evils and undesirable habits.  Then only with the guidance of God, he should resort to his kingly and higher duties for uplift of the noble society. Others should work according to the “Ketab-e-Farhang”[13] and King should continue to serve the people of God with Justice and benevolence as representative of God and try for progress of the society.

In this way, the Kings in ancient Iran were considered to have been sent by God for looking after the society in a Just manner.  It is in view of this that in some ancient texts, Kings like Cyrus have been referred to as Prophets.

Zoroaster was worshipper of one God and a Monotheist.  He has talked about one God and has, with pride, described the victory of Yazdan over Ahriman.  Ahriman in the skies does not have the power to spread negative ideas and negative energy.  He does not have the scope of growth.  It is only the earth where Ahriman has the scope of activity and can have freedom in this material world.  Ahriman is controlled by the authority of Ahura Mazda.  Gods hand has the upper most position.

At times, the followers of the cult of Hoshang have criticized Zoroaster and have not considered him as truthful and have not considered him having right to alter and modify ancient religion. They don’t feel that Zoroaster had the right to introduce a new religion.

So ancient Iranian religion is not limited to Zoroaster and even before him, ancient Iranians followed a monotheistic faith.  In worldly affairs also, they were devoted to improving social and health services and did welfare work for the people.

We find ancient documents proving that labour class in Persipolis, could get loan also part from their labour remunerations.

The oldest document of Human Rights discovered till now is the Decree of Cyrus the Great which introduces Iranians as the pioneers of Human Rights.

The monotheist Nation of Iran propagated Justice, Kindness and Human Rights and championed the cause of humanity.  They occupied very high position in the realm of knowledge and wisdom.

Joy and happiness had a very prominent place in the land of worshippers of God.  The central point of this society is Justice.  In view of the importance of joy, more than one hundred festivals were celebrated annually which means that every fourth day there was a happy occasion and celebration in the country.  Some historians consider “JASHN-E-SEDDEH” as an argument and proof of it.  Truthfulness, good conduct and character, undented culture are the main theme of this ancient religion.  Falsehood was considered source of all evils and was totally condemned in ancient Iranian society.  Falsehood, in the eyes of Iranians was a major sin.

Dabestane Mazahib, describes the story of two night guards who were guilty of a sin and were given death sentence following their confession.  Some people, out of sympathy asked them as to why did they accept the death sentence and confessed their guilt.  The two were surprised and replied “Should we or could we tell lies”?

Those days even if they saw dreams that they committed sin, after they woke up in the morning, they made confession and called for punishment.  This was the type of society in ancient Iran.

Iranians always tried to populate the earth and make it develop as this was one way of attaining perfection.  They were far away from prejudices and always welcomed knowledge and new ideas.  They always tried to discover truth and unfold mysteries in the interest of people and the country.

The belief in Monotheism, purity and eternity of soul was twined with the spirit of Iran in ancient days.  They always tried to produce knowledge and made valuable contribution in this field and were pioneers in belief of Soujorn of spirit and soul. I.e. spiritual journey (Meraj).  They believed that spiritual journey was the height of perfection of soul and only one gets these in thousands i.e. only a rare person makes this journey.[14]

According to ancient faith, Iran was the place of creation of Adam and was the ancient land.

Maybe future research proves that Iran is more ancient than known to use at present.  Iranians have always tried and explored truth and in a way, were the pioneers of religion and philosophy.  Have no fear and boldly say they were the major and main teachers.

You know the figure seven (7) which is considered a superior figure is a gift of Iran and this gradually crept into the faith of Mitraism. Christianity is a much later religion and has taken lot of ideas from Mitraism.  For example “Saleeb” (cross) in Christianity is a form of “Chaleepa” of Mitraism.  In Christianity 7, 77, 777 are all considered superior and are signs of victory over 6, 66, and 666.  This again is borrowed from Mitraism.[15]

The spiritual achievement of ancient Iran is of a very high degree.  The explorer in passing through various stages gets to the essence of various phenomenon of existence and absorbs its excellence.  Whatever has come into existence, devoid of face of the friend, has the print on its internal face and the explorer mystic is aware of it.  [There are not two energies that one becomes soul and the other body (Matter), on the other hand, this is the height of the culture of soul which appears in shape of body and matter and this is the height of Tauheed i.e. Monotheism].[16]

My respected teacher, Nooruddin Chahardehi writes “concentration in Moon and Sun was customary in ancient IRAN.”[17]

Similarly one can refer to the flowing water of river as a smile for the soul.[18]

Practice of control of breath and observance of silence in fasting (fast of silence) are all traceable in ancient Iran.  There are instances reported in history where certain spirituals controlled breath for one to thirty years and were still active and used to work.  These were source of pride even for other Nations.[19]

These are secrets in heavenly language, ancient stories and narrations and terms like “Farr-o-Shan”, “Pa Bar Hava Dashtan” “Besar Eistadan” known as “Kapal Aasan” [20] in Hindi and “Habse Nafs Dar Zer-e-Aab”[21] are all indicative of such practices and can be added to the list.

“Hoshiar, the priest, and author of book `Saroude Mastan’ was born in Surat was one of the devoted students of Azar Keivan.  From early evening till sunrise he used to sleep sitting on knees.

It is a sort of yogic exercise where bending on knees and creating a particular posture between knees, head and eyebrows, you practice control of breath. Subhain, the Dervish says that this is the method of sleep of Prophets.  When it is said that Prophets used to sleep in heavens, it is a simile to this”.[22]  The priest, Hoshiar is the translator of “Jashne Seddeh”.

The author of Dabestane Mazaheb writes that he came from the family of Hakeem-Jamasp and the author saw him in Kashmir and saw that he used to stand on fingers of the hand and body would not touch the ground and he used to maintain this posture from midnight till dawn.

In short, the ancient Iranian cult traversed through times, through thick and thin, but Iranians always preached bright points of religion and good moral code of conduct and gave a lead to world nations.  Now in the most sacred town of Hindus (Varanasi or Benaras) one observes very beautiful sights of prayers at the bank of sacred river Ganges.  It is accompanied with music and fire which is lit there.  It is a beautiful combination of light and music.  Hindus believe that the water of river Ganges is a cure of several diseases and also washes off the sins.  Hindus cremate dead bodies at the bank of Ganges and throw ashes in its water in line with this belief.

There are several small cubical along the river bank which indicates that priests and Bhakts used to come and wash themselves to become pions and clean.  They removed darkness through light there.  They sued to sit in these cubical and watch sun, moon and stars with devotion.

This is ancient Iranian method.

Another point to be pointed out here is that in each temple there is a black stone installed in erect position.  It is considered sacred.

In ancient Iran, temples constructed in shape of star were respected and these were introduced in other countries also including India.  The author of Dabestane Mazahib has given a list of many such temples.

According to the ancient belief each day of the week was associated with star, like kevan which relates to Saturday.  Each one of these had its effect and special prayers were meant for each of these.  For example, the Mongol Conqueror, Changes, used to erect yellow color camps for his army, used to fast and pray for Mercury as the belief was that all this would bring victory.[23]

This indicates influence of ancient Iranian thought in later religions.  Followers of MANI also made use of these ideas.

It is important that the ancient Iranian religions thought are brought to light and its wisdom is spread as light.

“Where did ancestors reach, so that we start from that point and lay foundation for tomorrow and the future generation?”

Which of the ancient trees bear fruits, so that we find out and get the benefit of that fruit and sow its seed again and pave way for future?  We pick up the ink of the pen of our ancient thinkers and multiply it and develop on their ideas.  We wash off our ignorance from their wisdom and spread their knowledge, so that we may be able to consider ourselves a link with our ancient ancestors.[24]

By Masoud Reza Modaressi – Chahar Dehi


[1] . Word 724, from the book, ` One thousand And One word by Abbas Keyvan Ghazvini

[2] . Word 725, Book “One thousand And One word “Abbas Keyvan Ghazvini

[3]  . Word 726, Book “one thousand And One word “Abbas Keyvan Ghazvini.

[4]  . By Scholar of Nature we mean opposite of Scholar of Divinity.

[5]  . First Part of Word 727, “ One thousand And One word” Abbas Keyvan Ghazvini

[6]  . Hoor is used for star and sun and also for a star which appears once in thousand years.

[7]  . The god in holy Qoran sworn in the names of sun and moon.

[8]  . Khayyam’s treatise is available website – www.iranayin.com

[9]  . In the book, there is a Chapter on influence of the high on the low and vice versa.  Work of Abbas Keyvan Ghazvini.

[10]  . _________________ one who recognized himself recognized God.

[11]  . Sharhe Rubaiyate Khayyam by Abbas Keyvan Ghazvini, edited by me, refers to Chapter on “Deen-e-Qadeeme Iran”.

[12] .Keyvan Nameh –Volume III - Abbas Keyvan Ghazvini

[13]  . Keikhusro Esfandyar Azar Kevan includes a part of  Ketab –e – Farhang  in Dabestan – e -  Mazaheb.

[14]  . Salman Farsi while talking about the Meraj of the Prophet refers to Iran and says that Iranian Prophets did Meraj but Meraj of the Prophet is closer to the heart.  See “Merajieh” by Abbas Keyvan Ghazvini.

[15]  . Holy Qoran says that God has created 7 skies in you.

[16]  . Holy Qoran says, “Wherever you turn you see face of God.

[17]  . Consult Selselehaye Sufieh Iran – Nooruddin Chahardehi, Chapter on “Shattarieh”.

[18]  . In Behgood Gita, concentration on flowing water of river Ganges is considered a source of salvation.

[19]  . Erfan Nameh by Abbas Keyvan Ghazvini introduction Rasheed Yasmi and Nooruddin Chahardehi, edited by me, Chapter on “Riazate Khasseh”.

[20]  . Dabestane Mazaheb – Keikhusrau Esfandyar Azar Keyvan

[21]  . I belived that imam Ali knows this conduct and they said that he take his head down means this. (M.Reza)

[22]  .Dabestan-e-Mazaheb

[23]  . Consult the book, “Gulbang-e-Maghz Az Farasoye Qanoon Jazebeh” by Nooruddin Chahar Delhi, Tehran Publication.

[24]  . Word 435 from the book “One thousand And One word” by Abbas Keyvan Ghazvini.