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Biography: Zoroaster

Zoroaster (or Zarathustra) was born into the Spitama clan, evidently in northwestern Iran though he ministered in northeastern Iran. According to Arabic sources he lived from 628 to 551 B.C., which would accord with the tradition that he converted Hystaspes, the father of Darius who ruled the Persian Empire from 522-486 B.C. (Greek sources were greatly mistaken in placing Zoroaster 6000 years before Plato!) Zoroaster was married three times and had several sons and daughters.

Zoroaster served as a priest of the polytheistic Iranian religion before he was converted at age thirty to the sole worship of Ahura Mazda. He succeeded in converting some of his kinsmen and also Hystaspes, a king in northeastern Iran. When his new teaching met strong opposition, he responded by pronouncing curses upon his opponents. Zoroaster also denounced the intoxicating cult of the haoma plant and exhibited great concern for the care of cattle. In Zoroaster's view material prosperity and godliness went hand in hand, a trait perhaps reflected today in the remarkable prosperity of the Parsees (modern Zoroastrians) in Bombay, India.

According to Al-Biruni (A.D. 973-1048) Zoroaster was killed by invading Turanians. The Shah Namah (c. A.D. 1000) describes the event:

And all before the Fire the Turkmans
And swept that cult away. The Fire, that
Zardusht [Zoroaster] had litten, of their
blood did die;
Who slew that priest himself I know not.



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