Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Thus demystified Zarathustra

A recurrent feeling of agitation has been in place for about a month and a half. Its origin lies in Gulmarg, Kashmir, over a ski visit, in the month of March. The fact of agitation, however, isn't related to Kashmir, or Skiing.
It has to do with comparative religion. It was a fact mentioned by a Bengali friend, which sounded like haughtiness on his part, which translated to seeking and interpretation on my part (once i got back to a more connected world). He had just narrated the story of the genesis as per his religion (of Islam). As a strawman tactics, perhaps, he also segued into the history of another religion, framing it such that its founding seemed to have a weak and un-divine/mortal connect.
So his history of this another religion starts with the explanation of the massive oil deposits found in Central Asia, and how one of such sites came to be venerated, all because of a fire that had started there. This fire started a religion, he explained. One day the reserves ran out, and the followers didn't know what to do. Then they migrated out and spread across the world.
This was contrasted against his religion, of course, to assert substantiality, in his narrative that had preceded.

Thanks to his haughtiness, I got to spend a day learning about Zoroastrianism, and connecting several dots in general. He might've felt tall at his claim, but his claim is what's loose in the first place. Some interesting dots:

* The kingdoms of Pre-Vedic and Vedic times
* The religions preceding today's mass religions
* The concept of Soma/Haoma present in Vedic religions
* The migration history of Zoroastrians (or Parsis, as they have come to be called in India, which is home a majority of their population since the past coupla millenia)
* Atash Bahrams or the fire temples of the Parsis
* The Kafiristan region of Afghanistan/Pakistan - and its forceful conversions
* The Kalash people of Pakistan, followers of ancient Hinduism
* The Z of Niezsche's "Also Sprach Zarathustra" ("Thus Spoke Zarathustra")
* God, Apes and Fossil Men (a book for the wishlist), on the Paleontological history of S. Asia
* The presence of Sanskrit words in Zoroastrian texts, and Proto-Indo-European languages in general
* Neopythagoreanism
* The Arched-hill/Triratna/Nandipada
* Ashoka, the great - how he murdered 99 of his brothers to ascend to the throne and built an epic torture chamber

Personally, misinterpreting natural phenomenon as a sign of the divine is nothing new, and a symbol like fire is a pretty cool endorsement.

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