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Zoroastrian refugees, called Parsis, escaped Muslim persecution in Iran by emigrating to India. Zoroastrianism now has an estimated , to , worshipers worldwide, and is practiced today as a minority religion in parts of Iran and India. The prophet Zoroaster Zarathrustra in ancient Persian is regarded as the founder of Zoroastrianism. Most of what is known about Zoroaster comes from the Avesta—a collection of Zoroastrian religious scriptures.

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Some scholars believe he was a contemporary of Cyrus the Great, a Persian king of the sixth century B. Zoroaster is thought to have been born in what is now northeastern Iran or southwestern Afghanistan. He may have lived in a tribe that followed an ancient religion with many gods polytheism.

This religion was likely similar to early forms of Hinduism. According to Zoroastrian tradition, Zoroaster had a divine vision of a supreme being while partaking in a pagan purification rite at age Zoroaster began teaching followers to worship a single god called Ahura Mazda. In the s, Russian archaeologists at Gonur Tepe, a Bronze Age site in Turkmenistan, discovered the remains of what they believed to be an early Zoroastrian fire temple.

The temple dates to the second millennium B. It was the state religion of three major Persian dynasties. By most accounts, Cyrus the Great was a tolerant ruler who allowed his non-Iranian subjects to practice their own religions. Some scholars say that tenets of Zoroastrianism helped to shape the major Abrahamic religions—including Judaism , Christianity and Islam—through the influence of the Persian Empire.

Zoroastrian concepts, including the idea of a single god, heaven, hell and a day of judgment, may have been first introduced to the Jewish community of Babylonia , where people from the Kingdom of Judea had been living in captivity for decades. When Cyrus conquered Babylon in B.

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Many returned home to Jerusalem , where their descendants helped to create the Hebrew Bible. Over the next millennia, Zoroastrianism would dominate two subsequent Persian dynasties—the Parthian and Sassanian Empires—until the Muslim conquest of Persia in the seventh century A. The Muslim conquest of Persia between and A.

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The Arab invaders charged Zoroastrians living in the Persia extra taxes for retaining their religious practices and implemented laws to make life difficult for them. Over time, most Iranian Zoroastrians converted to Islam. Parsi are followers of Zoroastrianism in India. According to Parsi tradition, a group of Iranian Zoroastrians emigrated from Persia to escape religious persecution by the Muslim majority after the Arab conquest. Experts speculate that the group sailed across the Arabian Sea and landed in Gujarat, a state in western India, sometime between and A.

The Parsi are an ethnic minority in India and Pakistan. For the journal of that name, see History of Religions journal. For the academic study of religion in general, see Religious studies. For the history of religions school, see History of religions school. This article includes a list of references , but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations.

What Is Paganism?

Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. March Learn how and when to remove this template message. See also: Evolutionary origin of religions and Timeline of religion. See also: Axial Age. See also: Polytheism , Pantheon gods , and Paganism.

Introduction to Religion

Main article: Monism. Main article: New religious movements. Retrieved Yale University Press. Although the Greeks, Romans, Mesopotamians, and many other peoples have long histories, the stories of their respective religions are of recent pedigree. The formation of ancient religions as objects of study coincided with the formation of religion itself as a concept of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. That there exist in the world such entities as 'the religions' is an uncontroversial claim However, it was not always so.

Cultural Anthropology/Ritual and Religion

The concepts 'religion' and 'the religions', as we presently understand them, emerged quite late in Western thought, during the Enlightenment. Between them, these two notions provided a new framework for classifying particular aspects of human life. Many languages do not even have a word equivalent to our word 'religion'; nor is such a word found in either the Bible or the Qur'an.

The Western Construction of Religion. William Sayers trans. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, Discourse on Civility and Barbarity. Oxford University Press, Encyclopedia Universal Ilustrada Europeo-Americana , 70 vols. Archaeology magazine. Nov—Dec The Archaeology of Malta.

Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 25 November An Introduction to Ancient Egyptian Literature. The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts. The Science of Good and Evil. Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide.

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Time Asia. Dundas, Paul [], The Jains Second ed. History of religions. Timeline of religion List of religions and spiritual traditions. Baha'i Christianity Islam Judaism Rastafarianism. By the 19th Century a new outlook was evident as people searched for the fundamental principles of religion by looking at the faiths of different places and times. Mme Helena Blavatsky founded the Theosophical Society in Pagan philosophies, which venerated Nature and were polytheistic, began to be seen as sophisticated contributions to contemporary spirituality.

Across Europe people were rediscovering their indigenous cultures. In northern Europe there was a growing interest in Saxon and Norse traditions. In Germany Schlegel and Schelling in particular were attracted to the nature religion which they saw behind traditional folk customs, and at the beginning of the 20th century Guido von Liszt pioneered the study of the runes. In north-east Europe, particularly Lithuania, nationalist movements spread and indigenous languages were reclaimed, traditional tales recorded and the old festivals celebrated.

Folk music was part of this reassertion of local identity, preserving traditions which otherwise would have been forgotten. An interest in witchcraft developed in the 19th century. By one historian proposed that the supposed witches of the 16thth centuries were in fact underground practitioners of Pagan religion. And in an American journalist, Charles Godfrey Leland, claimed he had discovered modern day witches in Italy. It was not until that the first practitioners of modern day witchcraft became known.

It was at this time that the United Kingdom followed the rest of Europe in repealing the last of its anti-witchcraft laws. No laws were thought necessary in this rationalistic age. But amazingly, a retired tea planter and amateur archaeologist, Gerald Brousseau Gardner, appeared in print claiming he spoke for one of several covens of English witches who practised a Pagan religion dating from the Stone Age. Gardner claimed that his witches were practitioners of a fertility religion called Wicca. The s and s were times of radical social change.

Hinduism and Taoism helped shape contemporary Paganism as the hippy trail led people to become interested in Eastern religions and philosophies.

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Other traditions were also revived and incorporated into Pagan practices. Paganism found an ally in the ecological and feminist movements of the s. Pagan philosophies appealed to many eco-activists, who also saw Nature as sacred and recognised the Great Goddess as Mother Nature.