Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Himanshu Bhatt

Contents

Inception of both the Religions

Coins issued by Hindu Kushan Dynasty's kings of ancient Afghanistan. These coins display Mazdaen-worshiped deities, because the Hindu kings were tolerant of social diversity and wanted to promote harmony between them. Even in Dunhang city of the ancient Tarim Basin one can see Zoroastrian and Hindu figures.[1]

Both Zoroastrianism and Hinduism have similar origins and venerate the same spiritual seers, venerate the same gods and even have the same verses throughout the early scriptures. Mazdaen scholars Zubin Mehta and Gulshan Majeed[2] had noted a similarity of Kashmiri customs with Zoroastrian ones. In the modern era, some Mazdaen clerics had visited Kashmir, who include Azar Kaiwan[3] and his dozen disciples[4] and Mobad Zulfiqar Ardastani or Sasani[5] who compiled the Dabistan-e Mazahib.

Zarathustra was definitely a Kashmiri Brahman as he was an Atharvan[6], who called himself a zaotar[7], manthran[8] and datta.[9] He was referred to as an erishi[10] and ratu[11].[12] He also wore the sacred thread, compiled Gāthās containing Vedic verses, worshiped Varuṇa and venerated other holy Vedic asuras. He lived as an ascetic in a cave[13] for some time and also had other traits similar to that of an Indian Brahman, not to mention other customs similar to those of Kashmiri Hindus. The geographical description of his birthplace in the Mazdaen scriptures match Kashmir's Diti (Daitya) and Indus (Veh) rivers, Urni Jabbar (Jabr) Mountain, and the 'Hara' mountain. In addition, the descriptions of neighbouring regions adjacent to Airyaneh Vaeja, such as Ataro-Patakan, Kohistan, Kangdez and Panjistan match those of places surrounding Kashmir.

Similarities

Zoroastrianism originated in India

Zarathustra's name

"Zarathustra became a generic name for 'great prophet' so several Zarathustras arose in the period 6000 to 600 BC the Avesta Y.XIX.18 named a hierarchy of five leaders, the supreme being called Zarathustrotema." - Duncan K. Malloch[14]

Just as the pseudonyms Gautama Buddha, Vardhman Mahavira, and Guru Nanak are reflective of the sages' names and titles, so too is the case of Zarathustra Spitama.

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
There are the master of the house, the lord of the borough, the lord of the town, the lord of the province, and the Zarathustra (the high-priest) as the fifth.
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—Avesta Yasna 19.18.50 [15]

There was "the Armenian Zoroaster, grandson of Zostrianus" ("Zostriani nepos"), who was the Pamphylian friend of Cyrus the Great. There was also a "Zoroaster" of Babylon whom Pythagoras had written of meeting.

Zarathustra's surname Spitama comes from his ancestor Spiti. This name traces its roots to the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh, just south to Kashmir. This is also supported by the fact that Zarathustra had taken solitude at age 15 to Mt. Ushidaran which the Greater Bundahishn identifies as Mt. Kaf.[16] Today is a village in the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh named Kaf.

Spitama itself has the Vedic Sanskrit attribute of containing 'tama', like the gotra patronyms of Gautama and Girghtama(s), as well as the titles of hiranya-vasi-mat-tama, rathi-tama, ratna-dha-tama, and sasvat-tama.

Athravans were Atharvans from India

Although some western depictions falsely show him as with brown hair, the Bahram Yasht declares Athravans are black-haired[17].
A mural of Zarathustra in a Tehran temple. Unlike his western depictions, here his skin is depicted dark brown like many Indians.

Zarathustra was of the Athravan (Atharvan) priestly caste. The Avesta declares that Zarathustra was an Athravan.

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

Hail to us! for he is born, the Athravan Spitama Zarathustra. Zarathustra will offer us sacrifices with libations and bundles of baresma with libations and bundles of baresma and there will be the good Law of the worshipers of Mazda come and spread through all the seven Karshvares of the earth.

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—Avesta 24.94[18]

The Atharvans are as ancient as the Rig Veda. It mentions that Brahma taught the knowledge of Brahman to his eldest son Atharvan.[19] Further, the Atharvans are associated with fire symbolizing it to be as sacred to them as it was to the later Athravans. Bharadvaja says to Agni that Atharvan has churned Agni out from the lotus, from the head of everything.[20] Vitahavya also says that the Atharvans have brought Agni from the "dark-ones" (i.e., nights.)[21]

Further, Zarathustra in his Gathas alludes to "old revelations"[22], and praises the Saoshyants[23] (fire-priests), and even exhorts his party of attendees to praise the Angras[24]. Hindu scriptures know the Angiras as the composers of the Atharva Veda, or as the "Atharvangirasa" and the Veda is also known as the Angirasa Veda. (Angras are in no way connected to Angra Mainyu, the opposser of Ahura Mazda.) Hence, those Angras mentioned by Zarathustra are also Vedic rishis. He is referred to by some rishis in the Rig Veda as their "father".[25] Angira is a son of Varuna, as are Bhargava and Vasiśṭha. Angirasas are sacerdotal families with ceremonial practices in the Atharva Veda.[26] His connection to the sacred fire is such that the Rig Veda also names Agni as Angiras[27], and that the sons of Angiras were born of Agni[28].

Zarathustra was of Vasiśṭha Gotra

The Denkard scripture specifically mentions that Zarathustra was a descendant of the law-giving immortals (Amesha Spentas, to which the Vahiśtas belong), as well as of "King Jam"[29] Mazdaen scriptures mention Vahiśta (Sanskrit: Vasiśṭha) within the Avesta, wherein he is an Amesha Spenta[30] mentioned as Asha Vahiśta. In Mazdayasna, Asha Vahiśta is a divine lawgiver[31] and guardian of the Asha.[32] Vasiśṭha is a law-giver sage in many instances within the scriptures and is even quoted by other rishis, such as Bhṛgu and Manu, when they prescribe societal laws.[33] Asha Vahiśta is also closely associated with the sacred fire in several Avestan passages[34][35], just as Vasiśṭha is.

The Atharvans are descended from Vasiśṭha Rishi.[36] Vasiśṭha's dedication to Atharvan is demonstrated in the Rig Veda wherein after being filled with anger, he calms himself by reading the Atharva Mantra.[37] Vedic scholar Mallinatha writes in his commentary of the Kiratarjunya that the Śāstras declare that the mantras of Atharva Rishi are preserved by Vaśiśṭha.[38] Just as there are several Vaśiśṭhas[39] within the community, the Avesta acknowledges that there are several Vahiśtas,[40] and refers to them as the "Lords of Asha." Even in the Vahistoistri Gāthā,[41] Francois De Blois notices that it consists of verses with a variable number of unstressed syllables.[42]

Avestan as a dialect of Sanskrit

"Slowly and gradually, it dawned upon them that the language of the Gatha and Zendavesta has very great kinship with the Sanskrta language; when the grammar of Panini, Katyayana, and Patanjali was applied then the Gatha and Zendavesta came to be understood by the westerners. The lesson from this amazing fact is clear that once the Iranians of the Gatha and Zendavesta and the Indo-Aryans of the Vedas formed one single race, speaking language akin to Samskrta." - Yaqub Masih[43]

It is known that both Vedic Sanskrit and the Zhand Avestan languages were very close. In fact, some scholars have even stated that "the Parsi was derived from the language of the Brahmans"[44] like various Indian dialects. This view point was supported by "Zend language was at least a dialect of the Sanskrit."[45] Max Muller, William Jones[46] and Nathaniel Brassey Halhed[47] put forward this viewpoint.

Erskine Perry also was in the view that Avestan was a dialect of Sanskrit and was imported to ancient Persia from India but was never spoken there and his reasoning for this is that of the seven languages of ancient Persia mentioned in the Farhang-i-Jehangiri, none of them is referring Avestan language. Another scholar perpetuating the viewpoint of Avestan being a Sanskritic dialect was John Leyden.[48]

List of some Sanskrit and Avestan words
Zarathustra portrayed on a pillar of the Shakta-Vaishnava Birla Mandir, Jaipur. Hinduism's pluralistic tradition recognizes the pious sage as a saint in the list of the world's spiritual gurus.
Zarathustra portrayed on a mural of the Shree Saibaba Satsang Mandal, Chauta Bazaar, Surat, Gujarat. He is shown next to Jalaram (left) and Vivekananda.
Word Sanskrit Avestan
gold hiranya zaranya
army séna haena
spear rsti arsti
sovereignty ksatra khshathra
lord ásura ahura
sacrifice yajñá yasna
sacrificing priest hótar zaotar
worship stotra zaothra
sacrificing drink sóma haoma
member of

religious community

aryamán airyaman
god devá daeva
demon rákshas rakhshas[49]
cosmic order rta arstat/arta
List of some Sanskrit and Avestan names for gods
Sanskrit Avestan Status within Mazdayasna Function
Apām Napāt Apam Napat Yazata Son of water, a god
Aramati Armaiti Amesha Spenta Archangel of immortality
Baga Bagha Yazata A sun god
Ila Iza Yazata Goddess of sacrifice
Manu Manu Ancestor Son of Vivanhvant
Marut Marut Yazata Cloud god
Mitra Mithra Yazata A sun god
Nābhānedista Nabanazdishta Ancestor Name of Manu
Narasansa Nairyosangha Yazata A fire god
Surya Hvara Yazata A sun god
Trita Thrita Yazata God of healing
Twastra Thworesta Yazata Artificer of the gods
Usha Ushah Yazata The Goddess Dawn
Varuna Varuna Ahura Mazda (one of his 101 names[50]) The Wise Lord, creator of all
Vayu Vayu Yazata A wind god
Vivasvant Vivanhvant Yazata A sun god
Vritrahan Verethragna Yazata Slayer of Verethra
Vasiśṭha Vahiśta Amesha Spenta Archangel and lawgiver to humanity
Yama Yima King A pious king of Airyana Vaejo

Apart from the gods that are common to both Zoroastrianism and Hinduism, names of some other Hindu gods are carried by even modern day Persian speakers. For example, the names 'Śiva' (Charming) and variations of 'Rāma' (Black)[51] are used by Iranic speakers, such as Persians and Pushtu. Rāma is also added in names such as 'Shahram' (King Rām) and 'Vahram'/Bahram' (Virtuous Rām), which was the other name of Verethragna mentioned in the Bahram Yasht of the Avesta. The Sassanian kings took the Vahram title, such "Vahram I" (ab. AD 273-276.)[52] Place names as well include 'Ram'/'Rama' in their syntax, such as Ramsar in Iran.

Many Avestan verses are from Vedas

The Rig Veda is believed to have been the oldest scripture in the world. In it are verses that are identical to ones within the Zhand Avesta, except the dialect of the Avesta is in Avestan. Ahura Mazda, whom the Mazdaens worship as the Supreme Lord is the Avestan equivalent to Vedic Sanskrit's Asura Medhira or Asura Mada. These terms mean "Wise Lord" and in the Rig Veda this phrase appears in a few places, in one verse being "kṣayannasmabhyamasura".

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
With bending down, oblations, sacrifices, O Varuna, we deprecate thine anger:

Wise Asura, thou King of wide dominion, loosen the bonds of sins by us committed.[53]

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—Rig Veda 24.14

There are several passages in the Vedas (especially the Atharva Veda) and Avesta that are identical, with the only difference that they are in the different dialects of Avestan and Vedic Sanskrit.

There are two sets of Mazdaen scriptures; the Zhand Avesta[54] and the Khorda-Avesta.[55] The Zhand contains 3 further sets of writings, known as the Gāthās[56] compiled by Zarathustra, and the Vendidad, and Vispered. (Not surprisingly, Hindu scriptures also have collections known as Gathas, such as the Vasant Gatha and Theragatha.) The Khorda contains short prayers known as Yashts. They are written in a metre much like the Vedas. Normally they contain 15 syllables known in Sanskrit as Gayatri asuri) like hymns of the Rig Veda, or Ushnih asuri such as in the Gāthā Vohu Khshathrem[57] or of 11 syllables in the Pankti asuri form, such as in the Ustavaiti Gatha.

Some scholars also note that there is a connection between Bhargava Rishi and Zoroastrianism, as the Atharva Veda portion composed by him is known as Bhargava Upastha and the latter word is the Sanskrit version of the term 'Avesta'.[58]

"The Avesta is nearer the Veda than the Veda to its own epic Sanskrit." - Dr. L. H. Mills

Some identical verses from Vedas and the Avesta
Scripture Sanskrit Avestan English
Rig Veda (10:87:21) /
Zhand Avesta (Gāthā 17:4 Yashna 53:4)
mahaantaa mitraa varunaa samraajaa devaav asuraaha sakhe

sakhaayaam ajaro jarimne agne martyaan amartyas tvam nah

mahaantaa mitraa varunaa devaav ahuraaha sakhe ya fedroi vidaat

patyaye caa vaastrevyo at caa khatratave ashaauno ashavavyo

O Ahura Mazda, you appear as the father, the ruler, the friend, the worker and as knowledge.

It is your immense mercy that has given a mortal the fortune to stay at your feet.

Atharva Veda 7:66 /
Zhand Avesta (Prishni, Chapter 8, Gatha 12)
yadi antareekshe yadi vaate aasa yadi vriksheshu yadi bolapashu

yad ashravan pashava ud-yamaanam tad braahmanam punar asmaan upaitu

yadi antareekshe yadi vaate aasa yadi vriksheshu yadi bolapashu

yad ashravan pashava ud-yamaanam tad braahmanam punar asmaan upaitu

O Lord! Whether you be in the sky or in the wind, in the forest or in the waves.

No matter where you are, come to us once. All living beings restlessly await the sound of your footsteps.

Rig Veda /
Zhand Avesta (Gatha 17:4, Yasna 29)
majadaah sakritva smarishthah madaatta sakhaare marharinto Only that supreme being is worthy of worship.
Atharva Veda / Zhand Avesta (Yasna XXXI.8) vishva duraksho jinavati vispa drakshu janaiti All (every) evil spirit is slain.
Atharva Veda / Zhand Avesta vishva duraksho nashyati vispa drakshu naashaiti All (every) evil spirit goes away.
Atharva Veda / Zhand Avesta yadaa shrinoti etaam vaacaam yathaa hanoti aisham vaacam When he hears these words.

Why Zarathustra's teachings are called Zhand

The Avesta is also known as the Zhand Avesta. Zhand is the Avestan equivalent of Chhand.

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
O Kshatriya, the verses that were recited by Atharvan to a conclave of great sages, in days of old, are known by the name of Chhandas. They are not be regarded as acquainted with the Chhandas who have only read through the Vedas, without having attained to the knowledge of Him who is known through the Vedas. The Chhandas, O best of men, become the means of obtaining Brahm (Moksha) independently and without the necessity of anything foreign.
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—Mahabharata Udyoga Parva Chapter 43:4[59]

Zarathustra was born in Kashmir

Zarathustra is always shown wearing a dhoti, (Indian-fashioned garment), unlike the Balkhans to whom he preaches.

The birthplace of Zarathustra has been a subject of dispute ever since the Greek, Latin and later the Muslim writers came to know of him and his teachings. Cephalion, Eusebius, and Justin believed it was either in Balkh (Greek: Bactria) or the eastern Iranian Plateau, while Pliny and Origen thought Media or the western Iranian Plateau, and Muslim authors like Shahrastani and al-Tuabari believed it was western Iran. [60] While Zarathustra's place of birth has been postulated in various places even in modern times, including within areas not historically included by authors, such as in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, a few scholars have believed that he was born in Kashmir. Shrikant G. Talageri[61] was a proponent of this Kashmiri Airyana Vaejo viewpoint. Mazdaen scriptures[62] mention repeatedly that Zarathustra was born in Airyana Vaejo, also known as Airyanam Dakhyunam. However, Zarathustra moved from there to Balkh, where he was given sanctuary by its king and he had become a royal sage and the Mazdaen scriptures also say that many others people of Airyana Vaejo had moved out with the dramatic climate change whereby snow and cold weather became much more frequent. Zarathustra was regarded as a pious Godman for the Balkhan administrators of his time and India was recognized as a center of spiritual and scientific wisdom. King Vishtaspa (Greek: Hystaspes) was the father of King Darius I of the Balkh Kingdom and he had studied astronomy amongst the Brahmans of India.[63]

There are similarities noticed by scholars such as Subhash Kak and Zubin Mehta which are described by them between Mazdaen practices of Kashmiri Hindus. These include the sacred thread for women (called aetapan in Kashmiri) and the sacred shirt (sadr.) The festival of Nuvruz[64] in commemoration of King Yima is known as Navreh in Kashmir which is celebrated by Kashmiri Hindus. Furthermore, the folklore of Kashmir too has many tales where devas[65] are antagonists to both devas and asuras. As the title Zarathustra has many variations, such as 'Zartust' and 'Zardost', the Sanskrit equivalent of his title is 'Jaradustra Svitma'. The 'p' in 'Spitama' corresponds to a 'v' in Sanskrit just as Avestan 'Pourusarpa' is 'Purusarva' is Sanskrit. Whereas the consonant 's' of many Sanskrit words becomes 'h' in Avestan, 'Svitama' maintains its letter because it is followed by a 'v', just as how the 's' in Sanskrit 'asva' (horse) becomes 'aspa' (i.e., 'Dhruwaspa' means She who possesses strong horses.) As 'Spitama' means white, the Sanskrit word for the color-based name is 'Svitama'. Svita is a metaphorical characteristic associated with purity and normally associated with Brahmans in the Vedas. For example, the Rig Veda[66] describes the Vasiśṭha ṛṣis as 'svityam' (white), 'svityanco' (dressed in white)[67] and white-robed. Zarathustra dresses in white as well Mazdaen priests also dress up in white. The connection between Vasiśṭha ṛṣi with Atharvan Rishi is a very close one.

Identification of Avestan sacred places in Kashmir
Gurjistan is but one of the ethnic regions of Kashmir, and is mentioned Mazdaen scriptures as possessing the Daitya River. Here, Gurji is the predominant language.
Arapath (Diti) rises in Hairbal Ki Galli and flows southward until it merges with Bring, which in turn merges with Jhelum near Danter village.[68]
See also: King Yama's kingdom was in Kashmir
See also: Rig Vedic rivers
Daitya River is the Jhelum

Scriptures mention the original homeland of the religion and of Zarathustra, but due to place name changes, the exact location has been hard to pinpoint. Daityas are also mentioned (as are Danavas) in ancient Mazdaen texts as good beings. It is believed that the homeland of the Aryans is located by the Daitya River[69] as said in this Avesta quote, "Airyanem Vaijo vanghuydo daityayo", which Darmesteter translates as "the Airyana Vaejo, by the good (vanghuhi) river Daitya."[70] In later scriptures, the river is known as 'Veh Daiti' wherein the Veh refers to the Daiti being its tributary. Veh in the Bundahishn is mentioned as the Indus River. Bundahishn mentions that Veh is also called Mehra by Indians, and surely enough Mehra is a town along the Indus. Veyhind (Udabhānḍapur, modern Hund) is also a town reflecting Indus' Veh-name. Kashmir has a river named Diti which is said to have been an incarnation of Diti, mother of the Daityas.[71] Daityas have been mentioned in Hindu Epics as staunch Asuras. This river is also popularly called as Chandravati, Arapath or Harshapatha.[72] The Arapath Valley begins where the Arapath (Diti) stream stems out of Jhelum.[73] Because the Diti becomes the Jhelum at their stem, the Mazdaen scriptures just call the entire Jhelum as Daitya River. They also refer to it as the Veh Daiti because the Jhelum itself merges into the Indus, which the Bundahishn calls 'Veh'. (The entire Jhelum is certainly known by many names in India.[74].) Just as the Bundahishn calls the Daitya "the chief of all streams"[75], scholars note the Jhelum has more streams than any other Indus tributary.

Zarathustra used to bathe in the Dareja affluent of the Daitya. In the same way, Hindus are encouraged to bathe in it among rivers of Kashmir.

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
After that on the 14th of the dark-half of the month, one should take bath, before sun-rise, in the cool water of the Vitasta or the Visoka or the Candravati or the Harsapatha or the Trikoti or the Sindhu or the holy Kanakavahini or any other holy river or the water-reservoirs and the lakes.
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

Nilamata Purana, verses 501-503

King Vishtaspa used to perform sacrifices along the Dareja. In the same way, Hindus are encouraged to perform execute the Rajasuya ceremony along the Diti. {{Cquote|By bathing in Harsapatha, one is honoured in the world of Sakra and by bathing in Candravati one gets the merit of (giving) ten cows.

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
Holy is the river Harsapatha and so also is Candravati. The wise say that there accrues (the merit of the performance of) Rajasuya at the confluence of these two.
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

Nilamata Purana, verse 1349-1350

Bundahishn's Kohistan is Kohistan of Karakoram Range
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
The Daitik river (Datya) rises in Airan-vej and flows through Kohistan.
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—Bundahishn 20.13

Kohistan is also referred in the Pazand transcription of the Bundahishn as Gurjistan.[76] The Gurjistan that is referred to is the Gurez Valley in Kashmir. Gurez is acknowledged by V. R. Raghavan as to have come from 'Gurj' and 'Gurjur'.[77]

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
The land of Gopat has a common border with Eran Vez on the banks of the river Datya.
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—Bundahishn 11.A.7[78]

Gopat, also known as Gopistan is another name for Kohistan.

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
The river Datya comes from Eran Vez and goes to Subdastan.
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—Bundahishn

Dareja is an affluent of Daitya River

The Dareja is the lower Jhelum from which stretches from Hairbal Ki Galli to Muzaffarabad to join the other part of the Jhelum that stretches Mangla Reservoir to Muzaffarabad.

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
For the occurrence of the seventh questioning, which is Amurdad's, the spirits of plants have come out with Zaratust to a conference on the river Dareja's high ground on the bank of the waters of the Daiti.
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—Zadsparam 22.5.12[79]

Bundahishn's Panjistan is Panjistan of Punjab
Haro River has 2 streams. Zend is its northern branch.

Panjistan is mentioned as possessing the Zend River. The name in present-day is used to refer to a region of northeastern Punjab region. Even the language spoken there is called Panjistani.

The Pahlavi word 'Zend' is the translation of local 'Jand' within the Punjab. There are cities and towns throughout the region named Jand. Hence, the river is called Jand (Zend.)

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
The Zend River passes through the mountains of Panjistan, and flows away to the Haro River.
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—Bundahishn 20.15

Jabr Mountain is Urni Jabbar Mountain

Zarathustra was said to have been born in the village of Raji[80] by the Dareja[81] River near the Jabr Mountain[82]. In Vendidad 1.16 where the city of Ragha is referred to the Pahlavi commentators add that it is in Ātaro-pātakān. In Kashmir, there is a village of similar name, Renji in Sopore district[83]. There are other villages and towns bearing 'Rai' in their names. These are Raipura, Raika Gura, Raika Labanah, Raika Mahuva, Rainawari, and Rai'than. Kashmir bears the villages Raj Pora Thandakasi[84] Darega is also mentioned to be where Zarathustra's father lived[85], hence, Zarathustra lived there too. Today in Kashmir there are the 2 rivers Darga Burzil and Darga Rattu that merge to form the larger Astore River.[86]

Khvaniratha is Jambudwipa
See also: History of ancient geography

The fact that Airyaneh Vaeja is stated to be in the continent of Khvaniratha also confirms that Airyaneh Vaeja is in India.

Jambudwipa is another name for Bharata or the Indian Subcontinent. Just as Jambudwipa is mentioned as the centre of 7 continents, so too is Khvaniratha.

Just as the boundaries of India are declared to be the Sindhu River and Brahmaputra (Rasa), so too are the boundaries of Khvaniratha the Veh Daiti and the Ranha.

More identifiers of Kashmir

The Bundahishn divides Kashmir into 2; Inner and Outer. Inner it calls Kashmir-e andaron. Other scholars, such as Dimashql, have noted this distinction as well when writing of the region. Geographer Al-Mas'udi wrote that Inner Kashmir was founded by Kai Kaus. Historically in India Kashmir has been written of as two; Kamraz (Kramarajya) and Maraz (Madvarajya.)

"If India were the original home of Indo-Europeans, it must also be the birth place of Zarathushtra. If the Zoroastrians had migrated out of India, they would have carried memories of the geography they left behind. Avestan literature is not familiar with the Indus. In fact, it believes Indus and Oxus to be the same. In contrast, Avesta itself refers to the features in Afghanistan." - Rajesh Kochhar[87]

Rajesh Kochhar's statement that Zarathustra would have had to have been born in India for it to have been the Indo-European homeland holds true, because the Avesta indeed mentions place names of features in northern India, mainly from Kashmir. The reason why most places in the Avesta are of Afghanistan is because Zarathustra, who was not from the Balkh Kingdom and had migrated there as most scholars agree, had only composed the Gāthās of the Avesta, whereas the rest of it was composed by his converts in Balkh. It is believed that the time gap between the Gāthās and the rest of the Avesta are centuries.[88] Scholars believe that this can be seen from "the poor grammatical condition of the language" of the Vendidad portion of the Avesta.[89] Kochhar also says Mazdaens who migrated would have to carry the memories of India with them, because the first Mazdaens were Zarathustra's family including his cousin Maidhyomaongha, also known as Maidhyoimah or Medhyomah, brother-in-laws Frashaoshtra and Jamaspa,[90] wife Hvovi, his daughters named Freni, Thriti and Pourushista, and his three sons which migrated with him, Zarathustra was the only compiler of the Avesta out of them. Apart from Zarathustra and his family, the first community of adherents was founded by King Vishtaspa[91] Interestingly enough, the king converts[92] after recognizing Zarathustra's holyness, when the prophet healed his paralyzed horse[93] just like the Sant Kabir and Sant Namdev [94] brought back a cow to life to earn the faith of kings. So because Kochhar asserts that India must be the Indo-European homeland by meeting his criteria, then India is Airyana Vaejo.

In the Avesta, Us-Hindava Mountain[95] is also spoken of as Usindam and Usinda Mountain and it receives water from a "golden channel" from Hukariya (Of good deeds[96].) Hukariya is the name for a series of mountains as well as villages[97] that have "Hara" as their names. Today Hara Parvat is revered by Hindus as a sacred mountain. Also within Kashmir is Haramukh Mountain[98] and nearby in Gilgitstan is the Haramosh Mountain. The most sacred mountain of the Avesta is the Hara-Berezaiti which is Meru, the K2. Further, the Harakvaiti River that the Avesta writes about, is the Saraswati River of the Rig Veda is said to flow from Hara into the Vourukasha Sea[99] (Indian Ocean.) Sarasvati flowed from Hardikun glacier (West Harhwal Bandarpanch Masif) and took its coarse into the Indian Ocean. To further, that Avestan Harakvaiti was in Kashmir is that it mentions god Sraoesa (Avestan name of Bṛhaspati) living in the Hukariya mountains. There is a praśasti dedicated to Sarasvati inscribed in Madhya Pradesh, which states that Sarasvati lived in heaven together with Bṛhaspati.[100] Also, the Avesta speaks of the Arvand River, which flows around the Hara and the Amaravati River that flows around the Hara Parvat.

India in general is overlooked by modern scholars who study the Mazdaen scriptures. Of importance is Mithra, who is associated with the Indian Subcontinent. His dominion is geographically described in the Mihir-Yasht as extending from eastern India and the Hapta Hindava to western India and from the Steppes of the north to the Indian Ocean. The Avesta mentions Four Waters, which are four rivers of paradise. Kashmiri poets have written of "four rivers of paradise" in their works. The Four Waters of paradise according to the Avesta are:[101]

  1. The Azi
  2. The Agenayo
  3. The Dregudaya
  4. The Mataras


The water of these has a trait that they contain honey or honey-sweet water: "Two crossing canals that joined in a pond and which symbolized the four rivers of Paradise where milk, honey, wine and water flow."[102] This same bed of four rivers is the one referred to in the Rig Veda. The Veda mentions waters filled with honey-sweet water as the greatest work of nature: "The noblest, the most wonderful work of this magnificent one (Indra) is that of having filled the bed of the four rivers with water as sweet as honey."[103] The river of Kashmir which has four streams is the Vitasta and its four branches are Arapath (the Diti River), Vishau, Rimiyara and Lidar.[104] As Airyana Vaejo is said to have been the birthplace of the first set of humans, the Kashmiris too state the human origin story about Kashmir.

"Aryana Vaeja has been placed in Media by inhabitants of Persia and Media. But this is only a transfer...which has nothing primitive and has only originated in consequence of the real site being forgotten."[105]

Zoroastrianism's scholars have written about the origins of the Mazdaens from India. Max Muller had said that, "The Zoroastrians were a colony from northern India."[106] M. Michel Break wrote, "The Zoroastrians were a colony from Northern India."[107]

Also identified in the Mazdaen scriptures are people such as Yima (Yama) and Manushchihr (Manu),[108] who have traditionally been strongly associated with Kashmir. Manushchihr in the Avestan Yasht[109] is mentioned as "the holy Manushchihr, the son of Airyu."

Zarathustra learning from and preaching to other Vedic scholars

Ancient Greek scholars, such as Clement of Alexandria and Ammianus Marcellinus[110], had written that Zoroaster had studied with the Brahmans of India. Ammianus had written that the Magi derived some of their most secret doctrines from the "Indian Brachmans" (i.e., Brahmans.)[111] Arabian writers have given a lot of information concerning the learning which Zoroaster acquired from the Indian Brahmans.[112] Ammianus also states in his 23rd Book of History that Prince Gushtasp (King Vishtasta's brother) went deep into the secluded areas of northern India and having reached a forest for retreat of the most exalted Brahmans, he learned spiritual knowledge from the Brahmans there and then returned back to his domain to preach this newly acquired wisdom to the Magi.[113] Par Thomas Maurice believed and wrote that Zarathustra had studied with Brahmans in India.[114] Kashmiri Brahmans are known synonymously as Kashmiri Pandits or simply as 'Pandits' (Scholars) and Anquetil du Perron believes that the Mazdaen scripture the Dhup Nihang mentions Mazdaen Pandits. The 8th century CE scripture refers to three Dustoors called 'Pandits' whose names were Bio Pandit, Djsul Pandit and Schobul Pandit.[115] Their names appear in the prayers of that scripture.[116] Interestingly enough, the word 'Dustoor' is used in Kashmiri to mean custom.[117]

According to the Canda's Persian text, the Changragach Nameh, an Indian Brahman was called to King Gushtasp's palace to discuss with Zarathustra the Mazdaen religion. The Brahman after his discussion had became a preacher of the religion and went back to India where he established followers and temples.[118] Changragacha's name bares similarity to a place name, 'Chandrabhāga'. According to the Bhaviṣya Purāṇa, the Magi had first settled on the Chandrabhāga.[119] This account also coincides with Timur's finding "fire-worshipers" in Punjab. Further, Aristoboulos, when visiting Taxila,[120] had stated that the dead were "thrown out to be devoured by vultures."[121] This practice is still observed in parts of western Tibet.[122] Further, within Taxila had existed a great Jandial fire temple mentioned by Philostratus.[123] In the 1079 CE century, Sultan Ibrahim the Ghaznavid had attacked a community of Mazdaens at Dehra (probably Dehra Dun.) Then from Timur's invasion of India, among his captives of both Mazdaens and Hindus from Tughlikpur, some were Mazdaens who offered fierce resistance. In 1504 CE, Bedauni mentioned that Sultan Sikander destroyed fire-altars.[124]

Relationship between the Magi and Indian Hindu Priests

The Magi being Athravans were accepted as Brahmans and they settled in Punjab first when they were brought by Samba (son of Kṛṣṇa) and they spread from there to other parts of the Indian Subcontinent including Karnataka and Nepal which are also known as the Magacharya or Maga Brahman today.

Where nations speak Avestan-like languages today

As Zarathustra had spoken Avestan, the language likely would have been spoken in a place where it was popular. Today, Kashmiri (Koshuri) is closest language to Sanskrit and hence to Avestan that is spoken by a linguistic group very similar to Rig Vedic Sanskrit. In addition, languages very close to Sanskrit which are also spoken in regions adjacent to Kashmir, showing only that the Sanskritic-Avestan homeland would at least include Kashmir. The neighboring nations which speak Sanskrit-like languages are the Kalashi, Shina, Gawar Bati, Dameli, Pashayi, Kohistani, Palula and Nuristani. Just as in Avestan, 'zarat' means golden and 'ustra' refers not only to camel[125] but also to wild animals such as cows and sheep in general.[126] 'Ustra' is used a few times in the Atharva Veda), displaying the point that camels were very familiar and common amongst where the Veda's compilers and where Zarathustra lived.

Why Zarathustra left for Balkh
Map from Aelianus' De natura animalium.

"That this Magian language was Zend is surely no forced hypothesis, since from those Brahmins seated in Bactria, we long after find Zoroaster bringing the same religious system and employing their Zend terms for it: a fact which no one can deny." - John George Cochrane[127]

Map of the ancient Silk Route, which connected major cities and peoples of the ancient world.

In ancient time, Indian Brahmans had a great amount of influence over the kingdoms adjacent to India or ones that extended from India to other places like Gandhara, Kakeya and Kamboja. Balkh was known to have a Brahmans within the court of its king as well. Historically in India, Brahmans and other spiritual teachers have sought royal patronage to institutionally aid their religions such as in preaching beliefs to society and building temples. Zarathustra had become the chief spiritual advisor of the Balkhan court and his family members who were the first Mazdaens and also had similar positions within the court. Ancient Greek historian Aelianus in De natura animalium,[128] also mention that there were "Indian Arianians" and there is some suggestion that control of Ariana fluctuated between Indian and Arian Arianians. This infers that Indians in Ariana had political influences.

It was normal for a monarch of ancient Balkh and other regions of Afghanistan to have Brahman teachers or ministers. For example, Nagasena had become the preceptor of the Balkhan King Menander, while Aśvaghosha of Balkhan King Kaniṣka[129] who after his conversation held the Fourth Buddhist Council in Kashmir. Buddhayasas was a Kashmiri and had become the preceptor of Dharmagupta the king of Kashgar in 4th century CE. Even the Hindu Shahi Dynasty was established in the 9th century CE by the Turki Shahi Dynasty's Brahman minister Kallar. Kashmir was influential to both Indian and adjacent regions.[130] In ancient history, Kashmir has been part of various kingdoms that had included regions of Afghanistan. Even in the Buddha's time, Gandhara was a Mahajanapada[131] and in many periods of history, Kashmir was a part of the Gandharan Kingdom.

The presence of Indian Brahmans in various places, including neighboring ones, such as Gandhara and Balkh, was recorded in ancient times; Edict 13 of the 14 'Rock Edicts of King Asoka' reads, "There is no country, except among the Greeks, where these two groups, Brahmans and ascetics are not found and there is no country where people are not devoted to one or another religion..." Along the ancient Silk Route the Kashmiri gateway is at Kunjerab Pass and the Balkhan gateways on the pathway are Balkh and Shahrisabz.

Identification of other places in India

Ātaro-pātakān of the Avesta is not the Azerbaijan of Caucasus

Ātaro-pātakān is in Dardistan and Swat. It is known for having the Asnavand Mountain and the city of Rak from where Zarathustra's mother was from. In modern Gilgitstan exists the Rakaposh Range where bears the title Rak. The Avestan Vendidad[132], it is Rak, whereas in Pahlavi scriptures it's Rag or Arak.

Arrian [133], Strabo[134], Pliny[135], and Justin had stated that Atropatene in Media was named after its Satrap Atropatos declared independence after Alexander's death. He ruled the region under Alexander of Macedon from 328-327 BCE.

Because the Avesta predates Satrap Atropatos, the region of Atropatene is not the Avestan Ātaro-pātakān (Protector of the Fire.) The Avestan Ātaro-pātakān is in Persian known by 'Adar-bigan'. Hence, when the kingdom of lower Media took on the name Atropatene, it's Persian-equivalent name also began being used, and in the predominant Turkic language there it became known as Azerbaijan.

That Ātaro-pātakān borders Airyaneh Vaeja is seen in multiple sources, including the Bundahishn.[136]

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
Zarathustra's father was of the region Adarbaijan; his mother whose name was Dughdo came from the city of Rai.
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—Shaharastani

Aredvisur (Sataves) River is Sutlej
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
And Sataves itself is a gulf (var) and side arm of the wide-formed ocean, for it drives back the impurity and turbidness which come from the salt sea, when they are continually going into the wide-formed ocean, with a might high wind, while that which is clear through purity goes into the Aredvisur sources of the wide-formed ocean.
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—Zadsparam 6.16[137]

Sataves' fluvial properties are also elaborated when Bundahishn and Vendidad Fargard[138] state that Sataves controls the tides of Vouru-Kasha.

Just as how the Daiti being a tributary of the Indus is called Veh-Daiti, so too is the Aredvisur called the Veh-Aredvisur as the Sutlej is also an Indus tributary.

Kangdez is Gangdise (beside Kashmir)
Detailed map of Tibet showing the mountainous Gangdise region and Mt. Lionbo Kangri A.K.A. Kangdez.

From the geography of Mazdaen scriptures it is easy to determine the location of Airyaneh Vaeja in Kashmir because the regions around Airyaneh Vaeja are mentioned too. The part of Tibetan Plateau west of the Indus River and Brahmaputra is even today called Gangdise. Mazdaen scriptures and the Shahnameh mention Kangdez.

In the Dadestan-i-Menog-i-Khrad[139], the location of Kangdez is described as "Kangdez is entrusted with the eastern quarter, near to Satavayes on the frontier of Airan-vego." Since Kangdiz is the Gangdise region, this excerpt also supports Kashmir being Airyana Vaeja.

Turkish historian Al-Biruni writes that he cannot locate Kangdez and that both Yamakoti and Tara are cities there. Yamakoti is also mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam.

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
It is said that Bhadrasvavarsha extends from the city of Yamakoti up to the Malyavat Mountain.
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—Srimad Bhagavatam

The prominent mountain associated with this continent is Malyavat Mountain. It is the modern-day Muztag (6,638m) because the Mahabharata identifies Meru as being between the Malyavat and Gandhamadana.[140]

Apart from the Mt. Meru (Mazdaen Hara), Mt. Kailash is also revered in Mazdayasna as "Kangri". It is the abode of Peshotan (Chitro-maino), son of King Vishtaspa, and Khwarsheed-chihr (Khursheed-chehr), son of Zarathushtra, who will gather their righteous army there before the final battle against Ahriman and his creatures, according to the Bundahishn[141], Denkard[142], Zand-i-Wahman Yasn[143].

Kangdez means "Fortress of Kang." In Ferdowsi's epic Shahnameh, Kangdez is named as Gangdez.

Kangdez's name is related to Kangha mentioned in the Avestan Yasht 5.54, the Aban (Ardvisur) Yasht. Antar Kanga is part of a list of mountains in Yasht 19.4. Antar Kanga is the chief mountain on which Kangdez bases its name, and is the largest mountain in the Gangdise, Mt. Kailash.

Kangdez is Rasatala

Just as Vasuki is mentioned as the ruler of Rasatala, the children of Vaesaka are mentioned in the Shahnameh as rulers of Kangdez. Just as Vasuki is of a serpent tribe, Vaesakas are written of as worshiping serpents.

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
To her did Yoista, one of the Fryanas, offer up a sacrifice with a hundred horses, a thousand oxen, ten thousand lambs on the Pedvaepa of the Rangha.
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—Aban Yasht XX.81

Pedvaepa river, an affluent[144] of the Ranha is the Pedak-miyan of the Bundahishn.

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
The Pedak-miyan, which is the river Katru-miyan, is that which is in Kangdez.
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—Bundahishn XX.31

Ranhā is Rasā
See also: Areas of Asura control

The Avesta mentions Ranha (Sanskrit: 'Rasa', another name for Rasatala), which is the "sixteenth of the best lands created by Ahura Mazda." This land is based around the sources of the Ranha River which is the Rig Vedic Rasa River. This river is identified with the modern-day Brahmaputra River because the scriptural traits of the Rasa mentioned align with those of the Brahmaputra. Rasatala, being populated by many Daityas (i.e., Ahuras) would be of significance to Mazdaens and it always appears on the lists of 7 main abodes of the Asuras. Here a major battle between Asura and Deva took place, the battle of Hiranyakṣa and Varāhā.

Two Avestan Fragards mention that Ranha is the largest river that they know. This is true because Ranha (Brahmaputa) is 3,848km while Veh (Indus) is 3,610km.

Three affluents of the Ranha are named in the Yashts; Aodhas[145], Sanaka[146], and Gaudha[147]. The Brahmaputra passes through Gauda (Bengal) region and hence, a Ranha tributary would be named Gaudha. This is likely the Jamuna River.

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
We sacrifice unto Mithra, the lord of wide pastures, ....sleepless, and ever awake;

Whose long arms, strong with Mithra-strength, encompass what he seizes in the easternmost river and what he beats with the westernmost river ("Hindu"), what is by the Sanaka of the Rangha and what Is by the boundary of the earth.

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—Khorda Avesta 27.104[148]

Frazdanava is Lake Rakshasa Tal

The Frazdanava contains the word Danava, implying its connection with the "Danavo" whom are mentioned as villainous. It is also where King Vishtaspa performs spiritual ceremonies. Danavas in many cases of Indian history were Rakshasas.

This area was sacred for ceremonies not just for King Vishtaspa, but also Indians since it is in the Indian Subcontinent and because rishis lived here.

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
Vaisampayana said,--"Then Maya Danava addressed Arjuna, that foremost of successful warriors, saying,--'I now go with thy leave, but shall come back soon. On the north of the Kailasa peak near the mountains of Mainaka, while the Danavas were engaged in a sacrifice on the banks of Vindu lake, I gathered a huge quantity of delightful and variegated vanda (a kind of rough materials) composed of jewels and gems.
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

Mahabharata Section 3

Avestan Mainakha is Vedic Mainaka

As the names are almost identical they are the same mountain. The Mahabharata claims it was north of Mt. Kailash.[149] It is known as Mt. Kangrinboqe Feng (6,656m) in Tibet, north of Mt. Kailash (7,694m.)

Vouru-Kasha is Indian Ocean

Its other names in Mazdaen scriptures are the Frakhvkard and Varkash.

Just as the Indian Ocean in Hindu scriptures is referred to as the "Sea of Salt" so to the Khorda Avesta[150] calls the Vourukasha, the "deep sea of salt waters."

Practice of similar customs

Sathya Sai Baba with a Mazdaen priest during a child's Navjot ceremony (left), and a Mazdaen priest with a child performing the Navjot ceremony (right.)

There are customs that are typically unique to the Mazdaens, but were practiced in India. Some of the customs within the Mazdaen community are similar to those of the Hindu Brahmans. For example, the Navjot and vegetarianism.

Spiritual initiation

Navjot which means New birth is the initiation of a Mazdaen and they are given a sacred thread to wear similar to that of the Yajnopavita ceremony for many Hindus.

Vegetarianism

A medieval painting of Gayomard and living beings, displaying that humans and animals lived in harmony according.

A large section of Parsis[151] are vegetarian and during weddings/navjyots, there is always a "Parsi vegetarian" menu. There are four days in a month where all Mazdaens, even the non-vegetarians are expected not to eat meat in a practice called parhezi which means abstinence. They are Bahman, Mohar, Ghosh, and Ram roj. Meat is also not eaten for three days after a relative passes away.

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
Be plant-eaters ('urwar khwarishn', i.e., vegetarian), O you people, so that you may live long. And stay away from the body of useful animals. As well, deeply reckon that Ohrmazd the Lord, has for the sake of benefiting useful animals created many plants.
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—High Priest Atrupat-e Emetan (Adarbad, son of Emedan) who officiated after the Arab invasion states in the 11th century CE, Book 6, Denkard

Third century CE Greek biographer, noted in the prologue to his Biography[152] that the Magi priests of Persia "dress in white, make their bed on the ground and have vegetables, cheese and coarse bread..."

Usage of plants in worship

Both Mazdaens and Hindus use plants in their worship. During group and individual praying, Mazdaens hold a plant. Also, in the Haoma ceremony of Mazdaens, they use the ephedra in the ritual.[153]

Venerating the same persons

In Mazdayasna, Ahura Mazda is the Supreme Lord and the other supreme beings are yazatas.[154] As there are several with a similar name in both Mazdayasna and Hinduism, there are also others whose names are different but are the same persons, such as Sraoesa, who is Bṛhasa of Hinduism.

An Ahura of Mazdayasna is known as an Asura in Hinduism. It is then no surprise that we also find Śukra Acharya or Kavi Uṣana, the Guru of the Asuras, being venerated as one of the most holy beings. In the Avesta he is known as Us and later in the Bahram Yasht as Kavi Uṣa.[155]

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
This one is known to me here, who alone heard our precepts: Zarathustra, the Holy, he asks from Us, Mazda, and Asha, assistance for announcing, I will make him skilful of speech.
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—Yasna 29, Avesta

Varuna

"Ahura Mazda has created asha, purity, or rather the cosmic order; he has crested the moral and the material world constitution; he has made the universe; he has made the law; he is, in a word, creator (datar), sovereign (ahura), omniscient (mazdao), the god of order (ashavan). He corresponds exactly to Varuna, the highest god of Vedism."[156] - Arthur Lenormant

In the Rig Veda, though Varuna remains a god, his influence lessened as many gods took the side of Indra as their king and many humans took him as their chief god.

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
Many a year I have lived with them; I shall now accept Indra and abjure the Father Varuna, along with his fire and his soma (haoma) has retreated. The old regime has changed. I shall accept the new order.
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—Rig Veda 10.12.4

Varuna Ahura Mazda
"I made to flow the moisture-shedding waters."
"Rain down upon the earth to bring food to the faithful and fodder to the beneficial cow."
Rig Veda Vendidad
Kavi Uṣana

Kavi Uṣa is also called Kava Uṣan and Ashvarechao, which means full of radiance just like how his Hindu name Śukra means radiant and how scriptures like the Yoga Vasiśṭha[157] describes him as "radiant young Śukra", or Ramayana[158] describes "Śukra, radiant as the sun, departed."

The Avesta doesn't refer to him as Śukra because that name is reserved as an epithet for Ahura Mazda, who is invoked as, "athra sukhra Mazda"[159] (Kavi Uṣana has many titles.)

Uṣana is also given importance because he descends from Angira. Mahabharata reads that Kavyas descendants from Kavi.[160] Manu Smriti establishes a Kavi as a descendant of Angiras.[161] Like how Uṣana is a regent constellation in Hindu astrology, he is a star included among the Great Bear constellation, in the Hapto-iringas of the Avesta.[162]

King Ram
See also: Rama

Mazdaen scriptures mention a righteous monarch named Ram, whom it addressed Ram Khshatra. Though it doesn't dive into details about the yazata, it usually mentions him together with Mithra. In Hinduism, he is known a Raja Ram, a noble king, "Arya that cared for the equality of all", descendant of Mitra.

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
Rama, descendant of the sun ("Mitra"), became friends ("mitra") with Sugriva, son of the sun ("Mitra.")
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—Ramayana, 15.26

There is even one passage in the Avesta that mentions Ram together with Vahiśta, which is symbolic of the relationship in the Ramayana that Ram has with his guru Vasiśṭha[163]. It also shows the relationship between Mithra and yazata Ram.

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
We sacrifice unto Mithra, the lord of wide pastures; we sacrifice unto Rama Hvastra.

We sacrifice unto Asha-Vahiśta and unto Atar, the son of Ahura Mazda.

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—Khorda Avesta 2.7[164]

Sacredness of the sun

The sun is like fire, a holy symbol of Ahura Mazda. The Avesta declares:

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
This Mithra, the lord of the wide pastures, I have created as worthy of sacrifice, as I, Ahura Mazda, am myself.
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—Avesta

[165]

Mitra is a god often paired with Varuṇa in Vedic hymns. There are many Hindus today who worship God Almighty in the form of the sun and they are known as Sauras. The Māga Brahmaṇas are very closely associated with the sun-worship in Hinduism.

Just as the Rig Veda declares that the sun is the "Eye of Varuṇa"[166], the Avesta[167] it also declares that Mitra is the eye of Ahura Mazda.[168]

Praying ceremony for departed ancestors

Both Mazdaens and Hindus offer prayers for their ancestors, and the procession meant solely for their well-being is known as the 'Dhup Nirang' (Gujarati for ritual of offering of frankincense) or 'Nirang-e Rawan-e Guzashtagan' (Persian for Ceremony for the souls of departed ones) amongst Mazdaens[169] and as 'Śrāddha' amongst Hindus.

Corresponding festivals of Mazdaens and Kashmiri Hindus

Just as Mazdaens celebrate Ahura Mazda (Varuṇa) and King Jamshed, so too do Kashmiri Hindus. The Mazdaen calender new year, celebration Nuvruz, is the same festival as that of the Kashmiri Hindus, Navreh.[170]

During the festivity of Tararatrih, on the 14th of the dark half of Magha, King Yama is worshiped.[171] On Varuṇa Panchami, Varuṇa is worshiped.[172] Varuna is worshiped again on the 5th day of the festivity of Yatrotsava, whereby Hindus are encouraged to visit his 'abodes' or temples.[173]

Celebrating god Mitra has historically also been a part of Kashmiri culture. Till the 11th century CE, the Kashmiri Pandits celebrated Mitra (Mithra) Punim, on the fourteenth or full moon night of the bright fortnight (Śukla Pakṣa) of the Hindu autumn month of Ashvin or Ashwayuja. Similarly, the Mazdaens celebrate Yalda as the birth of Mithra.[174]

Usage of fire in ceremonies

Ateshgah of Baku fire temple in Baku, Azerbaijan which was utilized by Hindu priests from India.

Fire is used in processions of both Mazdaens and Hindus. Their temples use fire altars for performing the rituals. Fire altars have been discovered in the Indus Valley city of Kalibangan in northern Rajasthan state, showing that even the ancient society then revered fire as sacred.

Ceremonies

"Although sacrifices are reduced to a few rites in the Parsi religion now-a-days, we may discover, on comparing them with the sacrificial customs of the Brahmans, a great similarity in the rites of the two religions." - Martin Haug[175]

In addition to the ceremonies of Navjot and praying for ancestors, there are other similar ones for the Mazdaens and Hindus.

Mazdaen Hindu Entails
Afrigan Apri The ceremony is meant to invite persons; during Afrigan a deceased person or an angel, and during the Apri a god.
Darun Darsha Purnama During the Darun, sacred bread is offered, whereas on the Darsha Purnama the sacrificial cakes are offered.
Gahanbar Chaturmasya Ishti Gahanbar involves offering sacrifices 6 times a year, whereas the Chaturmasya entails sacrifices given 4 times.
Yajishn (Ijashne) Jyotishthoma The both, the twigs of sacrificial plant ('Homa'/'Soma') itself are brought to the sacred spot where the procession occurs and the juice is extracted during the recital of prayers. The Yajishn (Ijashne) implements a plant that grows in Iran whereas the Jyotishthoma implements the Putika.

Mouth covering of priests

Mazdaen priests wear the padam over their mouth just as many Jain monks wear the mohapatti. The purpose of the Mazdaen clad is to prevent pollution through the products of the mouth when handling the sacred fire.

Sky burials

In one period of history, even feeding corpses to vultures as opposed to either cremating them or burying them was the norm in parts of the Punjab region. Aristoboulos, when visited Taxila,[176] had stated that the dead were "thrown out to be devoured by vultures."[177] This practice is still observed in parts of western Tibet which is modern-day Avestan Raṇa or Vedic Rasatala.

Raghunath Rai discusses that leaving corpses for birds and beasts was historically one way that Indians since ancient times had disposed of the dead.[178] He also leads to the conclusion that this was practiced by Indus Valley Civilization residents of Mohenjo Daro because skeletons have been found in public places and within a room.

Zarathustra as a cave mendicant

Ancient Greek writers Eubulus, Porphry and Dio Chrysostom had written of Zarathustra's time living in a mountainous cave wherein he is said to have lived for ten years. The way in which he lived is of a similar description to that of Brahmans of that time. This was "Mount Kaf [which is the] mountain Usihdatar,..."[179]

The Vessantara Jātaka gives this description of Brahman ascetics: "looking like a Brahman with his matted hair and garment of animal skin with his hook and sacrificial ladle, sleeping on the ground and reverencing the sacred fire".

Why Zarathustra wore knotted-hair and a turban

Kashmiri Pandits in traditional white phiran (top), shall, and turban wear sporting a beard. This strikingly resembles Zarathustra's fashion.

The turban is mentioned in the Atharva Veda as an ushnisha.[180]

Vasiśṭha is associated with the turban more than other Vedic sages. In the village of Vashisht in Himachal Pradesh during the birthday of Vasiśṭha his statue in the main temple of the village is adorned with a white dhoti and turban.[181]

In the Rig Veda and Kathaka Grhya Sutra, Vasiśṭha wears a kapardin or knotted-hair.

Depicting figures as animal-headed

Lion-headed Zurvan from Mithraic Mazdaen temple.

Like many Hindu icons, in Mazdaen ones too, gods are depicted as animal-headed sometimes.

Symbolisms

Four ages of humanity

There are 4 ages according to Zoroastrianism[182], much like Hinduism's 4 yugas, with the first being the most righteous of times in both religions and then as the ages succeed, they become worse than the preceding age. Finally in the last age, a godly figure arises and vanquishes the most evil people of the world. In Zoroastrianism, the messianic figure is Shaosyant,[183] while in Hinduism it is Kālki.

Ahura as Buddha

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
Ahum cha daenam cha Baodhas cha.
   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—Khordeh Avesta[184]

The translation is that Ahura Mazda declares that he is religion (Mazdayasna) and Buddha.

Ahura Mazda has also been called Buddha Mazda, specifically in Afghanistan where Buddhism was a major religion.

Symbolic representation by figures

Apart from the persons, such as gods and sages, what they represent in Zoroastrianism is similar in Hinduism. Just as in Hindu scriptures there are 33 gods (Traytrimsha Devas) that uphold the universe, so too are there is a group of 33 gods in Zoroastrianism.

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

And I announce and complete (my Yasna) to all those who are the thirty and three lords of the ritual order, which, coming the nearest, are around about Hâvani, and which (as in their festivals) were inculcated by Ahura Mazda, and were promulgated by Zarathustra, as the lords of Asha Vahiśta, who is Righteousness the Best.[185]

   
Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

—Yasna 1.10, Avesta

Dharmachakra

4-armed Anahita sitting on lion while holding the sun in the form of a chakra in her right hand. (A 4th century Sassanian Dynasty silver bowl.)
See also: Dharmachakra

The wheel is a sacred symbol in Zoroastrianism as in Hinduism. The Avesta speaks of "turning of the wheel", which Max Muller himself thinks "smacks of Buddhism" as he writes.[186]

Religion referred to 'Law'

Both Mazdaens and Hindus refer to religion as 'Law'; 'Daena' for Mazdaens and 'Dharma' for Hindus.

Fire trial

Taking the "test of fire" is an allegory in both Mazdayasna and Hinduism for proving one's innocence through penances.[187] According to the Valmiki Rāmāyaṇa, Sita had taken an Agni Parikṣā[188] to prove her fidelity to Rama. In the Shahnameh Siyavash had passed through fire to prove he was truthful.[189][190]

"It is added, that he passed twenty years in the desert and the love of wisdom and justice obliged him to retire from the world to a mountain where he lived in solitude; but when he came down from thence there fell a celestial fire upon it, which perpetually burned; the king of Persia accompanied with the greatest lords of his court, approached it for the purpose of putting up prayers to God; that Zoroaster came out from these flames unhurt;..."[191]

Piousness of fire

Fire is used in both Mazdaen and Hindu ceremonies as it is believed to be holy by both the communities. It is invoked and prayers exist wherein fire itself it adorated even when fit is not physically not being venerated. Ceremonies that involve fire are of initiation[192] and sacrifices.[193]

Sacredness of cows

See also: Animal rights

The Avesta declares that Gomez[194] (Vedic 'Gomedha') is an important sacrifice, which involves cow urine. The cow is very sacred. In the 9th chapter of the of the Vendidad of the Avesta, the purification power of cow urine is dilated upon.[195] It is declared to be a panacea for all bodily and moral evils. It is drunk as well as applied externally just like the Hindus also.[196] Urine of the bull, called "nirang" is brought to the house of an orthodox Parsi every morning and is applied to the face, hands and feet like the cow's milk.[197]

Sacredness of the environment

Detailed map of Tibet showing the mountainous Gangdise region and Mt. Lionbo Kangri A.K.A. Kangdez.

Both Mazdaens and Hindus regard the environment as an important resource like animals which cannot be abused. Yasna Haptanghaiti[198] declares, "apo at yazamaide" or "We worship the waters." Mazdaens often offer libations to the rivers just as they do to the sacred fire, similar to how Hindus do by placing oil lamps or flowers into a river sometimes during their worship.

Apart from the Mt. Meru (Mazdaen Hara), Mt. Kailash is also revered in Mazdayasna as "Kangri". There are also many other mountains that are considered sacred, and they are mentioned in the Avesta.

Humans born from sacrifice of a super being

According to Mazdaen stories, Gayomard was a great being, upon whose self-sacrifice were born the first pair of humans and vegetation.[199] This story is similar to the Rig Vedic lore of self-sacrifice of the cosmic Puruṣa from whose sacrificed body came all the parcels of the universe.

Immortality of souls and souls of animals

Mazdayasna believes that animals have souls and the phrases used for describing an animal's soul are 'pasu urvan'[200] and 'geush urvan'.[201] Geush urvan is another phrase for the souls of animals, because the cow here is used as a metaphor for animals in general just as in Hindu societies a 'goshālā'[202] refers to animal shelters.

Days of the week relating to gods and planets

The gods and planets which represent the days of the week are the same for the Mazdaens and Hindus.

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Planet Sun Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn
Hindu deity Ravi Soma Mangala Buddha Guru Shukra Shani
Mazdaen deity[203][204] Mithra Vrarayna Tiriya Ahura Mazda Ardvi Anahita Sura Kayvanu

Scriptural verses and styles

As Zarathustra was a Brahman, he was familiar with the Vedas and wrote Vedic verses to be revered. This portion of the Avesta is known as the Gathas meaning Songs, just as Hindus scriptures are often either Gāthās or Gitās. The Brahmana scriptures refer to gāthās and abhiyajnagāthās as the verses of the Vedas.[205]

Incarnations

An incarnation is known as an avatār. The Avesta[206] reads that there were ten forms of Verethraghna, whose equivalent Sanskrit name is 'Vritrahana', which appeared to Zarathustra, similar to the ten major forms:[207]

Mazdaen Hindu
Wind Vāyu
Bull Ṛṣabha (the ascetic whose name means Bull)
Horse Hayagriva (whose name means Horse-headed)
Camel
Boar Varāhā (whose name means Boar)
Youth Vāmana (the child avatār)
Raven Garuda
Ram
Buck
Man Rama, Kṛṣṇa, Parshurama, etc.

Division of Earth into seven continents

See also: History of ancient geography

According to the Avesta the world consists of seven continents wherein the one in which Zarathustra lived is Khvaniratha with Mount Hara at the center just as Hindu scriptures mention Jambudvipa as the Indian Plateau and some adjacent regions with Mount Meru at its center.

See also

External resources

References

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  5. P. 64 Indo-iranica, Volume 28 Iran Society
  6. Atharvan is a descendant of Vasiśṭha
  7. Yasht 33.6; Zaotar means fire-priest and its Vedic Sanskrit equivalent is hótar
  8. Manthran means the mantra-maker-and-reciter.
  9. Datta means given.
  10. Yasht 31.5.10; Sanskrit 'Rishi' meaning seer
  11. Sanskrit 'Ratu' meaning guide
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  13. Mount Ushidaran, where he lived on a diet of plants
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  40. Yasna 3.11, Avesta, THE YASNA ADVANCES TO THE NAMING OF THE OBJECTS OF PROPITIATION
  41. Vahistoistri Gāthā, Yasna 53
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  55. It is the Small Avesta.
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  57. Shasta Yasna 51
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  62. Avesta Yasna 9.13-14 and 17
  63. P. 586 Antiquity Unveiled: Ancient Voices from the Spirit Realms By Jonathan M. Roberts
  64. It means New Year.
  65. It is the term for devils in Zoroastrianism.
  66. Rig Veda VII.33.1; 83.8
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  81. Bundahishn 20.32 and 24.15; It was later called as 'Darji'.
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  119. It falls on Chenab River.
  120. It was around ca. 326–325 BCE.
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  139. Dadestan-i-Menog-i-Khrad 62.1
  140. Mahabharata Shantiparva Section VI: "Beyond Malyavat northwards is the mountain called Gandhamadana. 4 Between these two (viz., Malyavat and Gandhamadana) is a globular mountain called Meru made of gold."
  141. Bundahishn 29.6, 33.28
  142. Denkard 7.5, 12
  143. Zand-i-Wahman Yasn 7.19-20
  144. Yasht xiii.19.19; xv.27
  145. XII.18
  146. XII.19
  147. XV.27
  148. Khorda Avesta 27.104
  149. Mahabharata Section 6: "Immediately to the north of Kailasa and near the mountains of Mainaka there is a huge and beautiful mountain called Manimaya endued with golden summits. Beside this mountain is a large, beautiful, crystal and delightful lake called Vindusaras with golden sands (on its beach)."
  150. Khorda Avesta 5:8
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  161. Manu Smriti 2.151
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  163. Ramayana 2.110.1; 2.111.1
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    SIROZA 2.
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  187. Penances means tapasya.
  188. It means Fire Test.
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  190. THE EPIC OF SHAHNAMEH FERDOWSI: CHAPTER 9-SAIAWOSH (SIAVASH)
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  192. It is done by Yoganavita of Hindus and Navjot of Mazdaens.
  193. Sacrifices means Homa, Havan.
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  198. Yasna Haptanghaiti 38.3
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  200. It means animal soul.
  201. It means cow soul.
  202. It means cow shelter.
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  206. 14.2.7 Bahram Yasht
  207. "Daṣāvatāra" of Viṣṇu.