Iran rediscovers value of Persian roots


April 1, 2010



Over the weekend, Iran hosted the presidents of Iraq, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan to celebrate Nowruz, the ancient Persian new year marking the first day of spring that is celebrated by some 300 million people around the world who together form an important cultural bloc.

By Kaveh L Afrasiabi / Asia Times

Both Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmud Ahmadinejad used the occasion to emphasize the importance of Nowruz in fostering a global climate of peace and cooperation. In light of a recent United Nations General Assembly resolution marking March 21 as International Nowruz Day, Iran has now set its eyes on spreading the cause of celebrating Nowruz on an expansive basis.

"It is a cause of joy that through collective cooperation Nowruz

became global," Ahmadinejad stated, adding that "observing Nowruz will not only promote cultural values, but it will also help nations establish relations based on friendship, peace, justice and respect." Iran has issued a new postage stamp to commemorate the UN’s Nowruz Day, this as part of a concerted effort to maximize the benefits garnered by Iran’s pre-Islamic heritage.

By all indications, this represents a cultural evolution in contemporary post-revolutionary Iran dominated by the Islamist discourse. Over the past 31 years, in the complex interplay of Iran’s dualistic, part Islamic, part pre-Islamic culture, the government has prioritized the Islamic and, yet, increasingly has discovered the trans-Iran potential of the pre-Islamic, particularly since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rediscovery of cultural roots connected to Persian culture and language in certain parts of Central Asia and the Caucasus, above all Tajikstan.

To some extent, the origin of this new "cultural offensive" by Iran should be traced to a former president, Mohammad Khatami, and his promotion of a "dialogue among civilizations", which inevitably implicated the Islamist political system in a discrete re-embrace of pre-Islamic civilization, although without ever losing the priority given to Islam.

In contrast, although Ahmadinejad, Khatami’s successor, has not continued his civilizational discourse, signs are emerging that as a result of both the national unifying cause as well as external dividends, Iran is devoting greater energy to "Persianist" cultural values, including by promoting tourism of numerous ancient sites, holding international conferences and seminars to celebrate the poet Hakim Abu’l-Qasim Ferdowsi (935-1020) and promoting the Farsi language.

Given the foreign priority of maximizing the sources of pro-Iran solidarity through whatever venues available at a critical time when Western pressure on Iran over the nuclear crisis is intensifying, Tehran’s decision to tap into cultural values makes sense – and is bound to add to its domestic popularity as well. The trick is to make sure the unwanted (restorationist) consequences of glorifying the past monarchical systems are avoided. Such side-effects seem less important today than the tangible benefits of promoting "cultural blocs" among nations on the basis of language and culture.

On a broader level, the growing importance attached to Nowruz by Tehran is in synergy with the globalist self-promotion of the Islamic Republic that, in the words of Ahmadinejad, has a stake in "global management". This is tantamount to opening a new front in the conscious pursuit of an alternative global cultural and political "public sphere" that would not be either Western-centric or based on Western political hegemony. Nowruz provides Iran with an important cultural tool to refine and upgrade a cultural toolkit that for the most part has had a rather one-dimensional focus on the global politics of Islam. Does this mean that a restructuring of the regime’s cosmopolitan identity is underway?

According to a Tehran University political scientist, the regime’s identity is "in a state of flux" and a "hybrid" that due to the recent, more energetic embrace and application of the purely Persianist cultural values ("within set limits of course") has become more dynamic. A more organic self-connectedness to pre-Islamic values on the part of the Islamic Republic may be forthcoming, depending on "several factors, one being Iran-Arab relations" that are today marked by some tensions, above all between Iran and Saudi Arabia, says the Tehran professor.

As a result, instead of the Organization of Islamic Conference, which is dominated by Saudi Arabia, Iran may find that other transnational organizations and movements, such as the Non-Aligned Movement, which is slated to be led by Iran two years from now, may be more receptive to its globalist cultural intentions.

An important vehicle for Iran’s global promotion is the English-language PressTV, the CNN-like news network launched by Tehran, which provides in-depth coverage of international issues, particularly pertaining to the Occupied Territories and the Middle East. The newly-launched network is in many ways a work in progress that could serve the need of developing nations for non-Western sources of news and commentaries.

Equally important for its future is to avoid the impression of being a tool of government propaganda. This is a tall order, and PressTV has still to pass the litmus test of a true "international network".

Together, Tehran’s more spirited promotion of its basket of dual cultural values and the network are elements of novelty in the evolutionary process of post-revolutionary Iran.

Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran’s Foreign Policy (Westview Press) . For his Wikipedia entry, click here. His latest book, Reading In Iran Foreign Policy After September 11 (BookSurge Publishing , October 23, 2008) is now available.

(Copyright 2010 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights


  1. Farzana

    “Ahmadinejad stated, adding that “observing Nowruz will not only promote cultural values, but it will also help nations establish relations based on friendship, peace, justice and respect.”

    For once i agree with him, but what i failed to understand is, why was his message to his countrymen on eve of Nouroz in ARABIC if he is really so proud of his Persianist cultural values?

    Ahmadinejad’s Bull Shit Norooz Message-

  2. Farzana

    Arzan, I think generally, the new converts tend to be more religious radicals than existing ones- may be mainly to justify their membership in the new club…

    Thanx for that interesting info. :)

    Just want to add, Iranian Muslim kings and mullahs that were oppressive and ruthless in converting and killing Zoroastrians in Iran were once Zoroastrians themselves.

  3. Siloo Kapadia

    Why not just scrap the name “Iran” and go back to “Persia”?

  4. arzan sam wadia

    Siloo that’s easier said than done. And personally I dont think the name change is necessary. Persia or the Persian Empire was the name of a much bigger region than just modern day Iran as this map shows.

    And over the years the arabic states have insisted on renaming the Persian Gulf as the Arabian Gulf. To be fair, Iran took none of that crap and forced the issue into law. This article says it all.

  5. Farzana

    st adding to the discussion on name -Iran, i’ve come across this hymn from RigVeda-

    O Agni, may these three presiding deities, viz., that of Bharati(India), Ila (Iran)and the Sarasvati (Indus Valley)take their seats here on the grass, along with the Sages thereof
    Rig Veda 7.2.8

    On contrary to popular thinking that ‘Iran’ is more an Islamic name of Persia…its rather derives from a Vedic name given to the area northern east of present day Iran where Indo-European Aryan Tribes had once settled; and predates ‘Persia’.

    One of the Indo-European Aryan tribes from Central Asia was Pasu or Parsu as attested by Rig Vedas, These tribes are said to have moved south west ward after the ‘Battle of ten kings’… and eventually founded Parsa (Persian) Empire in the Southwest of Iran under King Kurus/Cyrus.

    The first city built by Cyrus was named Parsumash… Later enlarging his kingdom further to include Pars or Persis.

    Persia is the Greek name for Persis… just as Cyrus is the greek name for Kurus

    Of cause as Achaemenians spread their hold on other territories, Empire of Persia encompassed whole of Iran, much of Asia minor, Central Asia , West asia, western regions of South Asia together with northern regions of African continent.

    The Indian name given to Persian Empire was Parshava.
    as per records in Panini -5.3.117

    Btw, its believed that province of Khorasan most probably derives its name from vedic king Kuru Shravan.
    And name Caspian Sea probably comes from Rishi Kashyapa who lived near by.

    Ps. Im least interested in the name controversy of Iran… This info thats shared by me is for the sake of sharing. I’m sorry if i bored you with History…but just felt enthusiastic about the subject.


  6. farzana

    Our place in history
    The world is discovering the contributions of the Iranians to humanity, and high time you did too

    Shahriar Mostarshed
    December 7, 2006

    I just discovered your article “Not that special: Persia and Persians before and after Islam” and I was struck at how contrary to the established facts, it was, especially with regards to Pre Islamic Iran.

    First a misconception, that has confused many, and judging from your article, you too. Iranians have always referred to their land as Iran, the land of Aryans, but Westerners have always referred to it as Persia, since their Greek and Roman sources referred to Iran as persis or the land of the parsian. Reza Shah, did not like the fact that the British referred to Iran as Persia and wanted to change the international name for Persia to Iran. This would be equivalent to the English insisting that we call their country England and not Engelestan. Needless to say, his attempt failed and has caused confusion, the world over.

    In Western literature the Persians are the Achamanid and the Sassanid and are distinct from the Parthians. The country of Iran after Islam is called Persia with no attachment to the pre-Islamic meaning. To complicate matters more, we call our language Farsi (Arabized for Parsi) but in English it is Persian and there is no substitute for it, although the seemingly enlightened want to call it Farsi (Bill Gates being one).

    The Aryans or the Indo Europeans were large groupings of people who migrated from the Euro-Asian steppe to the various countries (India, Iran, Armenia, Greece, Italy, the area know as Eastern Europe and as far North as England and Ireland). The Iranians were the largest of these groupings which included the Persians, the Medes, the Scythians, the Sarmatians, the Massagetae, the Saka, and the the Parthians who belonged to the Scythian stock. They were warriors who introduced the horse into the Middle East and introduced the concept of savaran or the cavalry as an organized force for combat. Till late into the Sassanid dynasty, the position of the Savaran was esteemed highly and only the nobility, of Aryan descent, were allowed to join in.

    The reason the Parthians have never been known as Persians or mentioned in the context of the Persian Empire is because they were not Persian in the tribal sense. They were Iranians, who defended the integrity of the Iranian plateau and of Mesopotamia or the land between waters, known as Arak to Persians (meaning low lands in Persian; Araqh in Arabic) for 500 years against the Roman Empire. The very first empire, on the plateau, started about 100 years before Cyrus the Persian created his, and belonged to the Medes. The Greeks referred to it as the Median Empire and, out of disrespect for the Persians, referred to the Persian Empire as the Median Empire for quite some time after Cyrus had established his empire.

    Your assessment of the influence of the Iranians on the rest of civilization is also in error. Zoroastrianism, the first monotheistic religion which may have originated amongst the Parni (the Parthians) as early as 1500 B.C., influenced the Greek, redefined Judaism in the 3rd century B.C., influenced Christianity and Islam. Mithraism, which was the official religion of the Roman Empire before 350 AD, was an Iranian influence, through the Parthians. The military practices of the Iranians, the Achamenids , the Sassanids, and of the Parthians set the military standards for the known world at the time, and also for the medieval European nations, over a thousand years later.

    What little is known of the Sassanids and the Achamenids, indicates that both courts had a lot of interest in the fine arts and embraced the high culture of the time (it is hard to say what they contributed since very little evidence of it, survives). What evidence does survive indicates that the art known as Christian art or the medieval art originated from the art of the Sassanid era. Hymn singing and candle light vigils made it over to Christianity from Zoroastrianism.

    The Iranians were known as the inventors of civil engineering, and invented many of the techniques for building structures which survive to this day. The dome which made it into the Arab masjid and the arched support, which the Romans had not discovered, was also Iranian in origin. Evidence for other material advancements such as production of perfumes, jewelry and artifacts exist.

    Evidence also exists for highly sophisticated orchestral arrangements and theater from the late Sassanid period. No books or direct evidence, from pre Islamic Iran exists, because the Arabs did not think anything outside of the word of the Koran needed to be said and destroyed all books, which were concentrated in a few literary centers (proliferation of books was not common place as the loss in the library of Alexandria proved; all the books perished without the possibility of replacements).

    The height of philosophical achievement in pre Islamic Iran can be found in the teachings of Mazdak (the first socialist uprising) and Mani. Building highways and bridges and a mail courier system were Iranian, which the Romans utilized efficiently. Car and van are both derived from the Persian word caravan, which facilitated bulk movement of merchandise over an entire continent, with regular stops known as caravan sara.

    The History Channel presented a documentary, recently, on this topic which I hope you watched, because it seems to me it would benefit you immensely. Here is the introduction to the program:

    “The Persian Empire was one of the most mysterious civilizations in the ancient world. Persia became an empire under the Cyrus the Great, who created a policy of religious and cultural tolerance that became the hallmark of Persian rule. Engineering feats include an innovative system of water management; a cross-continent paved roadway stretching 1500 miles; a canal linking the Nile to the Red Sea; and the creation of one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Mausoleum of Maussollos. The rivalry between Persia and Athens led to a 30-year war known as the Persian Wars, the outcome of which helped create the world we live in today. Peter Weller hosts.”

    So you can stop flogging yourself. What little evidence there is, suggests an Iran full of culture and humanities with world wide contribution and influence. The world is discovering the contributions of the Iranians to humanity, and high time you did too.

    In passing, and for historical correctness I have put the existence of culture on the Iranian plateau and Mesopotamia, into perspective. The non semite Sumerian culture of 6000 years ago, probably the most advanced ever, predates the Greeks, the Egypcians and the Chinese. After moving North West from their original settlements at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, they came into contact with the semite people of Akkad . The constant wars between Sumer, Akad and non semite Elamites (Ilam; on the Iranian plateau), resulted in the destruction of the Sumerian civilization, but gave birth to the Babylonian culture.

    The Indo European Hittites, from present day Turkey, took over Babylon but then it fell into the hands of the Cassites form the Iranian plateau from 1800 to about 1200 B.C. The Assyrians who had been overshadowed by Sumer and Akkad, subdued the kingdom of Babylon from about 900 B.C. The Assyrians then gave way to the Medes, the new masters of the middle East. Babylonians were not a race but a mix of peoples which included Sumerians, Akkadians, Elamites, Cassites, and Hittites.

    All of that predates the Persian Empire and the Greek Civilization which you compare with Egyptian, Chinese and Babylonian civilizations. Each has its own place in history and has its share of contributions to humanity. One could not have achieved as much without exchange with the other. The value of the contribution for each civilization is the legacy it leaves behind and the world is now becoming aware of the Iranian share of it.

    Your brief account of the history of Iran after Islam, is also flawed. During the Arab invasion, it was Arab racism, especially directed towards Iranians, that was rampant. Arabs considered it beneath themselves to work and all the specialized technical work of the Arab empire was assigned to Iranians. The so called Arab numerals are Persian in origin and the concept of Zero, which is now contributed to Arabs, was also a Persian invention. The Arabian, the world renowned horse, was of Iranian origin known as the Nissian horse and was bred originally by the Medes in the city of Nisa.

    After Abu Muslim toppled the last of the Bani Ummayeh Khalifs and fascilitated the Bani Abbas Khalifet, Iranian influence initiated the relocation of the capital city of the Arab Empire from Damascus to an area in Iraq close to Tisphoon (the Parthian and Sassanid capital city). A city was built called Baghdad or Bagheh Dad which in Persian means The Garden of Justice. It was in this garden that most of what became known as Muslim science, philosophy and literature was developed, by Iranians.

    After all the killing and the slave taking was over (Iranian men and women were being sold in the slave markets of Mecca and Damascus), whole tribes of Arabs were relocated to Iran to force the Arab culture and language on Iranians. One of the large population centers for Arabs was ironically, Qom. Within one generation, the Arabs became the new Iranians and were absorbed by the Iranian culture. So the only point you are right about is that after Islam a monolithic Iranian race did not exist anymore, but what you are wrong about, is that a multifaceted Iranian culture did survive which, btransformed the Mongols and the Turks who followed Arabs, into the new Iranians, and which is the back bone of the identity of every Iranian national, today.

    This was not a new culture, invented by Reza Shah or borrowed from the West. It was purely Iranian in origin that had become de-emphasized after the enforcement of the Shiite doctrine in Iran, since the 15th century. So you can, ignorantly say that Iran became westernized in the twentieth century, or that the West became Iranized, a long time ago, and that Iran found its own identity for a brief period in the 20th century.

    By the way, the word trouser, which is Scottish, refers to another Persian invention the pajameh (literally leg dress), which is the origin of the word pajama.

  7. mazdak bamdadan

    unfortunately i have to write a persian muslim.thanks for shearing this usufull information .we celebrate many holy days like mehrgan;tirgan and specially the birth day of izad e mehr(shab e chele).unfortunately we r more seriously to porotect our culture(persian culture)than parsis .and its all because of persian language.plzzzzzzzzzzz learn this language to saveing parsis community in india.
    khashtarim cha ahurayiyam

  8. Vafa Khalighi

    Hi. My name is Vafa Khalighi and I am a Persian-Iranian currently living in Australia. I am very pleased to find this website. I know that Parsis moved out of Iran about 1000 years ago and Iranis moved in Qajar time to India because there was religious persecution. Me and my family have gone through the same thing. My both grandfathers were zoroastrian who later became Bahais and Islamic Republic of Iran for just that reason killed them. Later my father and mother were in prison for years just because we have been Bahai’s. Finally we had to come to Australia as refugees and it is now 20 years that we have been in Australia.

    If we look at history of Iran, we see that we have had our own religion and we believed in God. Islam was forced on us and it caused us to be separated. Parsis and Iranis are in India and We do not speak the same language anymore. I hope that there will be one day when Parsis, Iranis and Persian-Iranians unite again and we will have a full Persian country. The actual question is, if one day Iran becomes free, are Parsis and Iranis willing to go back home and live with their Persian brothers and sisters?

    Persian gulf has been “Persian gulf” and it will continue to be forever. We, Persian-Iranians will not let our culture, heritage and identity get lost.

    Let’s hope for a free Iran where we all can come together again.

  9. Mahesh S

    Hi Vafa, was nice to read this interesting article (and others on this site). I’m indian myself (hindu if I may add) and am reminded of a trip that I took from geneva (europe) to india overland 8 years ago where I spent a week in Iran.

    It was a memorable trip and one of the places I wanted to visit ( also told by some of my Parsi friends) was the shrine of Chak-chak a holy zoroastrian place near Yazd which am sure you know. It was indeed an incredible experience-the landscape and the spiritual atmosphere there. One of the things that did surprise me was that zoroastrians seemed to be able to practise their religions and rituals freely-granted they did indeed keep a very low profile in public life. Another suprising fact was how many moslems I met openly praised the culture of pre-Islamic Iran and regarded it as a ‘glorious’ age. Indeed even my moslem taxi driver came and stood reverently at the entrance of the shrine-although he did seem afraid of actually going in as if scared someone might see him.

    I had long conversations with some of the iranian zoroastrians I met there and they told me that they regarded indian zoroastrians as much Indians as any others (hindu, moslems, christians and bahais). They emhasized that while they would always welcome them back they would be surprised if after more than a thousand years they could (despite much in common religiously) adjust to life and culture back in Iran even if conditions became conducive for their return back.

    That really got me thinking and perhaps is not dissimilar to what would happen if even second or third generation hindus settled in surinam or elsewhere wanted to come back and resettle in India. It also raised a question of ‘can we be loyal citzens of two countries’ at once-maybe it is possible.

    So while I don’t want to support or oppose a decision of zoroastrians (or any other religion) to go back to their country of origin ( it’s a matter of individual choice), I feel it’s perfectly possible to have a loyalty and sense of attachment to an ancestral cultural ‘homebase’ while also being a loyal citizen of the country where you were born and grew up. Their heritage and identity can be preserved without implying a necessity or compulsion to go back and live with one’s co-religionists.

  10. Farzana

    Mahesh, its the culture and language that binds people together not religion. In that sense, today Parsis in India are closer to their Indian brethren than they are to their co-religionist in Iran. Besides, number of rituals that are today practiced by bawas in India are borrowed from Hindus and are quite alien to Zoroastrians in Iran. Take for example – rituals involving intake of cow piss or aachoo michoo.

    Not surprisingly there are more emotional appeals and petitions floated on net by Bawas to save Bahrot Caves in India than petitions to save Kaaba of Zarathust in Iran.

  11. Vafa Khalighi

    I can understand what you wrote and I agree with some parts of what you said. First of all, being Persian does not meant you should be Zoroastrian. Islam has had a lot of good influence on us and we have had heaps of advancement in science, as an example you can name Khawarazmi (a Persian Scientist) who is the father of algebra and the word algorithm is the latinization of his name. In addition we have had a lot of Persian poets after Islam who contributed to our culture and heritage. So I do not ignore the role of Islam on our advancements. And I actually have heard that Muhammad himself was against attacking Iran and it was arabs who decided to attack Iran. The bad behaviour of Yazdgerd (Sasanian King) with Muslims also could be seen as a reason of arabs attack. To me, Parsis and Iranis look more Indians rather than being Persians and they are actually more used to Indian culture and it should be hard for them now to live in a Persian-based community. They even can not speak modern Persian.

    I do not hate arabs or any other nation because Persians do not know hatred, Persians have been famous just because of their kind heart and humanity.

  12. Delnavaz

    Hi Mahesh,

    Thanks for sharing your experience in Iran. It seems such an incredible place, perhaps next year I’ll be able to visit Iran. Would you be able to guide me as to some names of travel agents etc. who I can contact since I would basically want to visit places of Iran’s pre Islamic past?
    Hi Vafa,
    I too hope that Parsis, Iranis and Persian-Iranians unite again and we will have a full Persian country. I think that most Parsis look forward to that day, however,we do consider ourselves Indians & love our Country. It would be great if we could visit Iran often & freely, make better contacts with the Iranians, but many of us would prefer to remain in India.

  13. Vafa Khalighi

    Hi Delnavaz. As I stated before, I agree with what you said. There is just something I do not understand. If as you said a lot of Parsis wish to remain in India, then why they know themselves Persian and they do not marry other Indians? (no offence). I mean, if Parsis are not thinking of going back to Iran, why then they do not mix with Indians? I thought one of the reasons that Parsis do not mix with Indians is because they hope that they could go back to Iran one day. Your ancestors have been Persian but as I said today Parsis look more indians rather than being Persians.

  14. farzana

    Vafa, Parsis marry other Indian communities…but they don’t convert the spouses to Z’ism… nor do they accept the children from parsi women married to a non parsi, as Zoroastrians. They have this twisted theory of Parsism where all Parsis are Zoroastrians and all Zoroastrians are Parsis… Another imported idea from Hindus.
    So as per their understanding, even YOU are not welcome into their private club… Try entering their precious fire-temples!! :P
    Again, knowing Gujarati is an additional pillar of their religion… All Parsis know Gujarati and those who don’t know are not Parsis!! Knowing Persian is irrelevant … although they pray in Persian and needless to say they don’t know what they pray. Most importantly the Niyas ends with a prayer that says- May the religion of Mazdayasna thrive in heart of every individual and spread to all seven lands of this world. Yet Parsis have audacity to say, Zoroastrianism does not preach conversion.

  15. farzana

    { dear moderator, plz delete my earlier comment posted at 5:44 pm . Thank you]

    Also Vafa, …Khawarazmi is referred by al-Tabari as “al-Majusi,” it would seem to indicate that he was an adherent of the old Zoroastrian religion in his youth and latter converted to Islam. Anyway his Knowledge had little to do with Islamic influence… Whether he followed Z’ism or Islam he would have been a founder of Algebra anyway. And same goes for all the other poets and men of knowledge. They would have contributed to Persian culture no matter what religion they followed. Im sure there were many capable men of letters in pre-Islamic Persia too…only if Arabs would have not destroyed the records and libraries.

    Regarding Mohammad’s decision to attack Iran, well Persia was too large for him to bite into…But he did give permission to muslims to invade Syria even from his dead bed. Whatever makes Muslims vouch he was a man of peace, is beyond me!!
    Well, as per the hadiths it was Ali who nudged Omar to invade Persia when he saw it was at its weakest with internal revolts and economical bankruptcy. Anyway, i don’t blame him for fishing in troubled waters…when trouble waters was the result of misrule of Sassanids. But what surprises me is, the way Iranians today worship Ali, as a divine protector of Iran, when historical he was the very man who was involved in massacres and slave trade of Persians including sex slavery.

    Any this is good fun…Read the comments too

    Imam Ali: An Expose

  16. Vafa Khalighi

    Hi Farzana. I somewhat agree with you that the choice of religion might be irrelevant to our advancements in science and enriching our culture but When Islam came, all Persian and Arab scholars had gathered in “the house of wisdom” in Iraq and they communicated with each other so this was a good chance for Persians to advance their knowledge and education. To be honest, I am not sure about what you said about Alkhawarazmi. But all his works are written in Arabic and even algebra is an arabic word taken from his textbook “al-jabr” which means taking together each separated part. This page of wikipedia talks about his life:

    It also has a link to “the house of wisdom”. What I have heard about Muhammad was just something I heard and I am not sure about its truth because I have not seen any historical evidence. I also have heard that Ali was also against attacking Iran. As I said, I do not hate arabs or any other nation and if we look at the history of Iran, we see that a lot of nations attacked Iran and we have attacked a lot of other nations. So just because Arabs attacked us, we can not start to hate them. We should clean our hearts and be kind to human beings. Islam is a sacred religion and it comes from God, how could God order his prophet to kill other human beings just because He wants to advertise his religon?

    I am a bahai and I am not sure how much you know about my religion but all bahais in Iran have been persecuted but with this, we even do not hate Islam and Arabs because our prophet Bahaullah ordered us to be kind with our enemies. As Zoroaster said, good thoughts, good words and good deeds. All we should try to do is loving human kind and helping each other; hatred is not one of the characteristics of a Persian. I as a Persian-Persian Iranian respect Islam and its prophet and I believe the issues of Persians is not because of Islam and Arabs, it is because we have been weak so I hope that we can convert this hatred to kindness and loving mankind and fix the issues that we have had.

  17. Vafa Khalighi

    Thanks Farzana for telling me about Parsis. With all the respect, I do not understand Parsis. This looks like some kind of racism and is something that Zoroaster is strongly against of it. No nations is better than the other and we are all equal. When Cyrus (I prefer to spell it as Koroush Kabir) the great became king, he said that people of Persia could live together whatever religion they had.

    I think it is good that Parsis start to learn Persian because if they learn Persian, then they understand the prayer and enjoy it more. I would love to learn Gujarati.

    As I said before, being Persian does not specifically means you should be Zoroastrian and Zoroastrian does not mean Persian. All sacred religions are good and it does not matter what religion you have, the most important aspect is that you are a good human being. Persians are not known because they are Zoroastrian; they are known because of their good qualities.

  18. farzana

    Vafa, in the very link you have given about Al Khawarazmi says that he could have been a Zoroastrian – Majus in his young days before he converted to Islam or his ancestors were Zoroastrians. This is based on the epithet given to him by al-?abari.

    The other day i read an article that said a small minority of Muslims already existed in southern Persia before the Arab invasion…There are archeological evidences to show existence of a thriving Buddhist and Hindu minorities that existed in pre-Islamic Persia. Persia has always been a very ethnically diverse country with strong ties to history, culture, and language which together sums up their national identity, not religion.
    It was a power house of academic knowledge in ancient times, with flourishing exchanges of astronomy, medicine, Science of warfare, mathematics and philosophy with other like minded cultures. For Persians, heritage it has always been a collective secular efforts. Knowledge knows no religion. Cyrus the Great introduced human rights in a political setting of the longest existing empire in world’s history and he also made Assyrrian language used by Elamites, who were not Indo-Europeans, as an official court language. Assyrrian designs and concepts were absorbed in the Persian architecture. And as the empire expanded so did the cultural exchange with new people. So one set of people never had never defined Persia, nor was the concept of Dimmi or second class citizen ever practiced in the empire.

    May be the reason for which Iranians dislike Arabs, is because Arab Islamic army conquered them in a very brutal way, making them second class citizens in their own country, tried to destroy their culture.and thus forced them over time to change their religion. It never fully succeeded. Today i see them returning to their former multicultural values. They adhere much more to their Persian culture than to Islamic way of life that often clashes with it.

    Iranians of course, invented Shi’ism mostly out of hatred for Omar ibn al-Khattab, than love of Ali or the ahl ul bayt of Mohammad.
    The Abbasid Caliphate was heavily Persian when it came to infrastracture, in fact it was Persians who shaped its bureaucracy and Persians GAVE it infrastructure.
    The Persian mathematicians, scientists, astronomers, poets and mystics were Muslims yes, and part of the Islamic Caliphate, but they were PERSIANS. Ibn Sina was Persian, Abu Reyhan Biruni was Persian, Zakariya Razi was Persian , Abu Moslem Khorasani and Ibn Muqaffa, Firdosi and the list goes on.

    I agree with you, Parsis in India should enlarge their horizon to include larger picture of their ethnicity , history and culture with others who share their roots, rather than close themselves in a cocoon and whine about being on a verge of extinction. I think it was in the 15th or 16th century that they lost all contact with Iranian Zoroastrian Mobeds who guided them in matters of religion, due to religious persecutions in iran…and the confused Parsi community in India looked towards its sister community-Hindus for guidance. Well, the cultural exchange brought them closer to each other and eventually we Parsis developed an unique identity for ourselves that was not all Persian nor all local, but best of both…
    Today with internet, we can build new bridges, know our origins, know about our history, art, culture,language..there is so much that Parsis can explore to overcome the insecurity of being a dying race.

    And well, to be honest, im not well versed with Bahai’ism. You have inspired me to read about it…so i will:)…In India we have a beautiful lotus shaped Bahai temple in Delhi… Have you been there?


  19. Mahesh

    Hi Delnavaz

    Actually I planned the trip myself from europe, it was more of a backpacking expedition so didnt’t go through any travel agents..but there are quite a few there who organise tours if you wish to contact them.

    Below are links to a couple mostly based in Iran (I don’t know if there are any based in India who arrange these trips). Some of them arrange visas as well.The Iran Air offices in mumbai or delhi may be able to help as well. You might find many more with a web-search:

    Farzana I take your point about culture and language rather than religion being a bonding force. (One of my white dutch friends is baha’i for instance). In India too we have all major world religions represented.

    Vafa, I agree -but only to some extent with your remark on parsis resembling Indians -more than iranians. : ) Like Iran India is a big country, with many historical migrations and with perhaps even more diversity in ethnicities, appearances and skin shades. It was amusing- in most parts of Iran I travelled, unless I opened my mouth to speak, I was often not taken by the locals to be a foreigner! Some indian ethnicities (such as kashmiris) might more easily pass off as iranians and may even have some historical connections with the region. Even in iran I noticed the turkmen populations near the caspian sea and communities on the persian gulf (near bandar abbas) looked somewhat different from other iranians.

    I hope our world political leaders take note of your message of peace and that Iran can take its deservedly glorious position on the world stage once again!

  20. Mahesh

    Hi Delnavaz

    Actually I planned the trip myself from europe, it was more of a backpacking expedition so didnt’t go through any travel agents..but there are quite a few there who organise tours if you wish to contact them.

    Below are links to a couple mostly based in Iran (I don’t know if there are any based in India who arrange these trips). Some of them arrange visas as well.The Iran Air offices in mumbai or delhi may be able to help as well. You might find many more with a web-search:

    Farzana I take your point about culture and language rather than religion being a bonding force. (One of my white dutch friends is baha’i for instance). In India too we have all major world religions represented.

    Vafa, I agree -but only to some extent with your remark on parsis resembling Indians -more than iranians. : ) Like Iran India is a big country, with many historical migrations and with perhaps even greater diversity in ethnicities, appearances and skin shades. In most parts of Iran I travelled, unless I opened my mouth to speak, I could blend in fairly easily! Some indian ethnicities (such as kashmiris) might also more easily pass off as iranians and vice versa as there may even have historical connections with the region. Even in iran I noticed the turkmen populations near the caspian sea and communities on the persian gulf (near bandar abbas) looked somewhat different from other iranians.

    Anyways, I hope our world political and religious leaders follow your message of peace and also hope Iran can take its deservedly glorious position on the world stage once again!

  21. Vafa Khalighi

    Farzana (this would be a Persian name if I just spell it as Farzane), I am also against Arabs attack to Iran to make Iranian’s Muslim. If they simply would come to Iran and advertise their religion with peace, I am sure thing would have been much nicer.

    You should read (if you have not read already) about Babak Khoramdin. He was an Iranian hero from Azarbaijan who started a local freedom movement fighting the Abbasid Caliphate.

    I have never been in India but I would love to come to India and visit our Bahai temple and I like to know more about Parsis and Iranis there. After all, we are all Persian:P

    Do you know how I got to know about Parsis and Iranis? I have had some Indian friends at school and university and when I would say to them that I am Persian, then they would introduce me to others as a Parsi. This got me interested. My sister also has been addicted to Indian movies and there have been several actors and actresses with surname Irani like (excuse me if I name them wrongly since I am not much familiar with Indian Cinema) Boman Irani or Ebrahim Irani and my sister thought that they may have Iranian father because Irani could be a surname in Iran (meaning from Iran), other examples Tehrani (from Tehran), Yazdi (from yazd) and so on. Then I read about Parsis and Iranis on the Internet and I got interested to know more about them. As a Persian, I am shameful that I did not know about Parsis and Iranis.

  22. Vafa Khalighi

    Mahesh, thanks for your hope for the future of Iran. we all hope that but we should try very hard to achieve that and that should be done without killing others.

    Bahai faith says: “the independent search after truth, unfettered by superstition or tradition; the oneness of the entire human race, the pivotal principle and fundamental doctrine of the Faith; the basic unity of all religions; the condemnation of all forms of prejudice, whether religious, racial, class or national; the harmony which must exist between religion and science; the equality of men and women, the two wings on which the bird of humankind is able to soar; the introduction of compulsory education; the adoption of a universal auxiliary language; the abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty; the institution of a world tribunal for the adjudication of disputes between nations; the exaltation of work, performed in the spirit of service, to the rank of worship; the glorification of justice as the ruling principle in human society, and of religion as a bulwark for the protection of all peoples and nations; and the establishment of a permanent and universal peace as the supreme goal of all mankind—these stand out as the essential elements [which Bahá’u’lláh proclaimed]”

    Like Zoroastrianism, Bahai faith was a religion started in Iran and has got Iranian prophet.

  23. Vafa Khalighi

    Farzana, you already know the meaning of your name, in Persian it means Wise, scientist, philosopher. In pahlavi language, it is seen as “Farzanak”. Farzana is being used by almost all Persian poets in their poems.

    One example from Molavi:
    ????? ?????? ? ?????? ???
    ?? ?? ??? ????? ? ?????? ???.

    Translation: A youth was artist and Farzane,
    he was mercurial and manful in sermon

    I do not have a Persian name. Vafa is an arabic name which means faithful. but my name has been used by Persian poets heaps. Actually Vafa is nowadays considered a very Persian name and Wafa is arabic but well still Vafa is taken from Arabic.

    One example from Manouchehri:
    ??? ?? ??? ??????? ? ???? ????
    ?? ?????? ?????? ???? ?? ??????.

    Translation: Do not turn your back on me because of alienation,
    because Vafa dar (faithful) friends are better than self

    Mehrenaz is a Persian name which means beautiful like sun, king characteristic. It was the name of Keykavous (Kiani’s King) sister’s name. It was also the name of Rostam (the hero of Shahname)’s wife.

    Delnavaz is also a Persian name which means pleasant, Sympathetic, kind, Tender. It again used by Persian poets in their poems.

    one example from Nezami:
    ????? ?? ???? ?????? ???
    ?????? ? ?????? ???? ??? .

    Translation: It is true that your appearance is Delnavaz,
    but the thought of savages is long.

    Shirin is a Persian name, which was the name of Farhad’s lover. Shrin and Farhad is one of the famous Persian love stories. Shrin is also used by Persian poets in their poems.

    One example from Nezami:
    ???? ????? ????? ???? ????
    ?? ?? ????? ?? ???? ?????? ???? .

    Translation: The story of Khosro and Shirin is not secret,
    Actually there is no Shrin tar (more sweet) story than that.

    Arzan is a Persian name. In modern Persian, it means cheap. So if you say something is arzan, you mean it is cheap (not expensive). It also means valuable. It is also the name of a desert between jozjirkan and Kazeroon Fars. Arzan is used by Persian poets in their poems.

    One example from ?Naser Khosroo:
    ????? ??? ? ?? ?? ??? ? ????
    ???? ?????? ??? ?? ???? ????? .

    Translation: I do not say ugly and bad as being good and pleasant,
    I do not sell something expensive if it is cheap

  24. farzana

    (Dear Moderator, plz accept this edited comment and delete the comment posted at 9:21 pm. thank you)

    Oh!! the original is Farzane!!…i see… Nice!! thanks for the info!!:) Interestingly, ‘Vafadar’ is faithful in Hindi too!! Ask your sista, if she watches bollywood movies, she couldn’t have missed it!! Hindi is very close to Persian…I think the present day Hindi is more mughalised with Persian words… but even in its pristine form, Hindi belongs to the same family of language as Persian…Proto-Indo-European family, while Arabic is closer to Dravidian family of languages , which are widely spoken in southern parts of India.
    Another similarity is the population living in the southern parts of Iran like Bandar Abbas are darker skinned and share their back ground with Semitic Arabs…just like in India, the south indian population is said to have migrated or shared their roots with Elamites of Mesopotamia civilization who were Semitic. There may be a valid connection between the original Iran called Elam and Tamil’s obsession for Tamil Elaam…Both the countries had NonAryan civilization before the Aryan migration took place.
    Also Indo-European tribes of Parsas [Persians] features in Rig Veda, where they are called Parsu. Parsu translates to close relative or a neighbor… Proto Indian culture is closely related to Persian in number of ways… same Gods, similar language…similar thoughts, similar social structure. One theory says, that Persians/Parsu were north Indian[uttarapada] tribes that migrated to Iran after the battle of Ten kings…So in the nutshell Iran to India is one big family…

    One Parsi Name- Minocher, i remember reading somewhere , is Persian version of Mansarowar, which lies in northern India.
    While the name Himalaya translates to the mountain with snow…The persian translation of the same is Damavand…The avestan “vant” as in in “emavant” mighty comes from the same root. In farsi vant has become vand or mand and means one who carries something e.g khoda-vand: Godship; farahmand: one who carries glory; varja.vand one who carries dignity and so on.
    My Sonny’s name is Danish- Wisdom, its Indianized version is Gyani, Danishmand or Daneshmand translates to Gyaneshwar. I may be wrong but the name Ganesh [God of Wisdom] comes from the same root.

    Thanx for the lovely translations of Parsi names… And links on Great freedom lovers like Babak and his wife…I remember one iranian telling me that Iranians are still passionate about their hero Babak and they visit his castle every year to commemorate his contribution towards fighting Arabs. I think the present Ahmadnejad government had tried to restrict the Iranians from visiting the place… but failed to squash the passion.

    Regarding Parsi actors in Bollywood… well, presently Boman Irani and from yesterday years – Aruna Irani and Sorab Modi,..and quite a few if you count actors having a Parsi Mother like – John Abraham, Farah Khan, Farhan Aktar, Akshay Khanna, Rahul Khanna…:)

    And Yes… India is incredible place… just like Iran…You gotta visit it to feel connected !!:)))


  25. farzana

    And Vafa, not to forget, former Prime Minister of India- Rajiv Gandhi, had a Parsi father. :)

  26. Vafa Khalighi

    I am very sure that Manouchehr is a Persian name not Indian. It is used in Avesta as “Manoush Chithar”. It is also seen in the ancient Persian culture as “Manoush Chithar”. Other form of it know as “Manochitar”. In Sasanid kingdom time, it is seen as “Manoo Chihar”.

    The story is:
    “Because Salm and Toor killed Iraj, they also tried to kill his relatives and indeed killed all his relatives. One his daughters was a pregnant woman (the child was Manouchehr) ran away and was hided in a mountain called “Manoshan” and when the child was born, he was named “Manoshan Chehr”. “Manoshan” was the name of the mountain and “Chehr” is a Persian word meaning “face”. And after years “Manoshan Chehr” converted into “Manochehr”. Some even say the mother of Manochehr did not choose any name for him until he became older and because he had a very beautiful face, they named him “Manouchehr” which in Persian means “Heavenly Face”. In the old times, whatever wast beautiful, good and pleasant, they would relate it to heaven.

    Manouchehr is the name of the son of Iraj’s daughter’s son. Iraj was Fereydoon’s Son.

    Even there are a lot of things about Manouchehr and this story in the poems of Persian poets.

    Two examples:

    Khaghani says:
    ??? ?????? ???? ?? ??? ???
    ??? ?? ??? ??? ?????? ?????.

    Translation: Because Manouchehr is asleep in the land,
    Remove all bad fateful thoughts from this land

    Ferdosi says:
    ???? ??? ??????? ??????? ???? (? ) ???.
    ????? ?????? ?????? ? ?????
    ????? ??? ???? ?? ?? ?? ??? ?????? .

    Translation: The prophet of Jews was in Manouchehr’s promise
    One day, Manouchehr asked the chief
    what is the whole world for?

  27. Vafa Khalighi

    In Persian, we have “Danesh” not “Danish”(I mean Danish when comes out of your mouth sounds a bit funny if your audience is a fluent Persian speaker but it makes sense) with the meaning you pointed out. “Danesh” is taken from “Danestan” which means “having wisdom of something”. Danesh has been a popular Persian name of all time which happens to be my older brother’s name too. Danesh is used a lot in Persian poems.

    One example from Ferdosi:
    ??? ???? ???? ??? ???? ???
    ?? ??? ???? ??? ???? ???.

    Translation: Whatever word I say, people already have said that
    All people have gone to the garden of Danesh(wisdom)

  28. Vafa Khalighi

    My favorite Persian hero is Ya’qub-i Laith Saffari.

    He was the one that after 200 years of arabs attack to Iran , announced Persian as the official language and then nobody could speak any other language except Persian. If He was not there, I would not be able today to speak the language that Koroush Kabir (Cyrus the great) spoke.

  29. Vafa Khalighi

    In response to “Iran” or “Persia”:

    The term Iran in modern Persian derives from the Proto-Iranian term Ary?n?, first attested in Zoroastrianism’s Avesta tradition. Ariya- and Airiia- are also attested as an ethnic designator in Achaemenid inscriptions. The term ?r?n, from Middle Persian ?r?n (written as ?yr?n) is found on the inscription that accompanies the investiture relief of Ardashir I at Naqsh-e Rustam. In this inscription, the king’s appellation in Middle Persian contains the term ?r?n (Pahlavi ?ry?n), while in the Parthian language inscription that accompanies it, the term ary?n describes Iran. In Ardeshir’s time, ?r?n retained this meaning, denoting the people rather than the state.

    Notwithstanding this inscriptional use of ?r?n to refer to the Iranian peoples, the use of ?r?n to refer to the geographical empire is also attested in the early Sassanid period. An inscription relating to Shapur I, Ardashir’s son and immediate successor, includes regions which were not inhabited primarily by Iranians in ?r?n regions, such as Armenia and the Caucasus.” In Kartir’s inscriptions the high priest includes the same regions in his list of provinces of the antonymic An?r?n. Both ?r?n and ary?n come from the Proto-Iranian term Ary?n?m, (Land) of the (Iranian) Aryas. The word and concept of Airyanem Vaejah is present in the name of the country Iran (Lit. Land of the Aryans) inasmuch as Iran (?r?n) is the modern Persian form of the word Ary?n?.

    Since the Sassanian era the country has been known to its own people as Iran; however, to the western world, the official name of Iran from the 6th century BCE until 1935 was Persia or similar foreign language translations (La Perse, Persien, Perzie, etc.). In that year, Reza Shah asked the international community to call the country by the name “Iran”. A few years later, some Persian scholars protested to the government that changing the name had separated the country from its past, so in 1949 Mohammad Reza Shah announced that both terms could officially be used interchangeably. Now both terms are common, but “Iran” is used mostly in the modern political context and “Persia” in a cultural and historical context. Since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the official name of the country has been the “Islamic Republic of Iran.”

    I personally prefer “Iran” instead “Persia” because of three reasons:

    1- Persia was a name given by Europeans not by Iranians themselves.

    2- Even the ancient Iranians, called their country “Iran”

    3- As I said, Iran means “the lands of Aryans”.

  30. farzana

    Sorry Vafa, i was held up with some work…so lost my link here.

    Well, there are few arab names popular with parsis too, like Adil and Zenobia. Zenobia was an Arab warrior queen of pre-islamic arabia and she was known to have lead armies of tribal Arab women and men against Persian and Roman dominations. Although she fought Persians, it was her bravery that Parsis still pay tribute to by naming their children after her.
    Also this trashes the widely held notion that Islam liberated women in Arabia. Left alone, Pre Islamic Pagan Arabia like Persia would have been a vivacious cultural pot pourrie. Mohammad’s Islam made Arabs realize their potential to rule over others ruthlessly but at the same time it destroyed Arabian culture of tolerance and secularism.

    Anyway here is a nice link on Lion and Sun motif of Iran,

    Hope you like it:)

  31. Vafa Khalighi

    Hi Farzane,

    Thanks for the info. I absolutely hate something about our today Persian generation. We think that we are the best nation but this is not true at all and it shows how we are too much selfish. This is exactly why Iran is too behind from other countries and cultures. We should pick the good things from each culture and country even if we hate them, learn them and try to advance that. This is exactly what Koroush Kabir (Cyrus the great) did, he picked good aspects of each culture and developed it. If instead being selfish and saying to ourselves that we are the best nation ever, we try to be modest and try to fix our weaknesses, things would be awesome.

    For the flag of Iran, my personal idea is that we could have the current flag with three colors, green, white, red but I would like to have the Forouhar sign ( at the middle on the white color. Forouhar was the sign of Achaemenid Empire.

  32. Mahesh


    Fascinating posts and would certainly like to join a discussion group on these topics if there is one. Interestingly in your previous post I was intrigued by the widespread prevalence of Mitra worship as Mitra is also an ancient deity referred to in the Rig Veda and still invoked in vedic hymns. In fact I came across an interesting piece on mithraism in the iranian online magazine which is worth a read:

  33. farzana

    Thanx Mahesh… Ive an interest in evolutionary psychology and south Asian archaeology …And its been a wonderful experience for me tracing my roots in the maze of history… Ive come across such amazing treasure of hidden knowledge… Like its fascinating to know that the first migration of Human society started 60,000 years ago from the central Africa…and ever since we has been dividing ourselves into such diverse groups of races, nations, castes, cultures, languages, religions…Its like a journey of one seed growing into a large tree with branches branching out in every direction endlessly … Yet, we all belong to the same tree- the Human race …and with the same roots- Humanity, :)

    Yes, its the same Mithra of Rig Veda, the son of Indra, and brother of Varun, the God of Water. The religion that pre dated Zoroastrianism in Iran was Mithraism …Worship of Mithra / Meher / Mihir… God of Light

    Interestingly, one of the 101 names of Ahura Mazda is VARUN, in Rig Veda Ahura Mazda is Asura Varun.

    Goddess Saraswati of Rig Veda is Goddess Herahwati or Varuni in old Avesta..and somewhere in later Avesta texts she gets transformed into Aredvi Sura Anahita

    Well, some time back, I had come across this-
    Rodney Lingham in his article `THE TRUE ORIGIN OF ZOROASTRIANISM’ writes about the kambojas: “The Kambojas, western Pakistan, or Rajauri Kashmir. The King `Vistashpa’ may be the Iranian rendering of King “Vishwamitra”, the Asuric-like Sage-King of ancient India.
    He was the King of the ancient Vedic-Land of `Kanyakubja’, descending from the Lunar-Dynasty of Illa and Pauravas. They were a people who lived in the upper reaches of the Indus valley in the present eastern Afghanistanhis relates to the Kambojas, the people of Western India, Kashmir or Afghanistan”.

    Kamboj/Kubja is Vedic reference to the region of present day Kabul.

    Illa- Is vedic reference to Elam or present day Iran

    Pauravas- Aryan tribe that had settled in present day north west frontier regions of Pakistan.

    Mithra- Sun/light

    Sin -Moon

    Amongst Aryans there could have been two distinct dynasties …One that believed they were descendants of Moon, and other that believed they were descendants of Sun-Suryavanshis [Kurus and Pandus]…

    Another familiar fig who belonged to Lunar Dynasty was King Rim Sin the son of King Tushrath, who ruled over region stretching from Mittani in Syria, Iran to Indus. If you translate these names Tushrath is Vedic king Dasharath and His son Rim Sin translates to Ram Chandra [Sin is moon] ..He had a half brother -Warrad, vedic-Bharat.

    Therefore not surprisingly, Ram was revered in Ancient Iran too …When Zoroastranism spread to Iran, Ram/Raman was elevated as an angel of Peace and Joy with a month dedicated to him in Zoroastrian calendar…Interestingly the very next month is dedicated to Gowad- Avesthan -Wata [Angel of Wind and atmosphere]…Sounds familar to Ram-Hanuman pairing .
    chk this for more -

    Than there were many Sassanian cities in Persia with Ram as a prefix like Ram Hormizd and Ram Ardashir, the city built by the first Sassanian king-Ardashir.

    This will give you a better idea-

    Two rivers that spring from a common source –

    Rajesh Kochhar

    The gist is, no cultures developed in a tight compartment… We share so much in common and yet we are so distinct…
    indeed like two rivers that spring from a common source :)

  34. farzana

    I liked that Vafa…Forouhar is nicer… its a symbol of Persian diversity and tolerance… When Cyrus annexed Babylon, Forouhar was an important Assyrrian God unknown to Persians, … until Cyrus adopted it in his empire as a symbol of integration of native Assyrrians with Persians…
    Thats uber-tolerance … uber-peace

    Comparatively the image of Zolfikar on the flag is quite the opposite. Ali used it to fight those who opposed imposition of Islam on them… Imposition of any one religion or culture on the other by force is an act of intolerance… of violence….

  35. Vafa Khalighi

    Thanks but that was just my personal idea. After all, whoever is in power, decides about the flag as they decided to change “Parsi” to “Farsi”. “Farsi” is the Arabic version of “Parsi” as they do not have “p” in their language. Your version of Fourohar does not match mine. This is what I have been taught:

    Forouhar, in Avesta “Farvashi”, in the ancient Persian language “Farorati”, in Pahvali language “Farvahar”, in modern Persian “Forouhar” is one of the inner forces and Zoroastrians belive that it existed before the creation of creatures and after their death and destruction, it went to Supernal World and stays permanent. This Spiritual force can be called “Essence of life” and it has no Annihilation and decay.

    All creatures (physical and non-physical) of Ahura Mazda, even Ahura Mazda Himself, got Forouhar. In Vendidad (the law of anti-demon), Ahura Mazda tells Zoroaster that

    “Forouhar man ra ke besyar boland payeh, nikoo, ziba, sabet ghadam va dar parsaii tamam ast setayesh kon”

    Translation: “Pray to my Forouhar which is Very senior, Pleasant, Beautiful, Consistent and perfect in Pietism”

    Bundahishn ( says that before Forouhars change from non-physical state to physical state, Ahura Mazda Consulted with them and He allow Forouhars be free and decide themselves that they want to be Eternal in the non-physical world or they want to change to physical state and fight against the army of Ahriman (evil). Forouhars accepted to fight against evil, in the physical world because they knew that they would Defeat demons. and Filth will be destroyed in this world.

    The celebration of Forouhars celebrated in sixth Gahenbar (those six days in which God created this world) and the duration of it, was for ten days and they call it “Forourdegan celebration” or “Forourdiyan”. In Avesta, Ahura Mazda has taked about these five inner forces (respectively):

    1- Life
    2- Conscience
    3- Sixth sense (Comprehension)
    4- Psyche
    5- Forouhar

  36. Mahesh


    Just getting back to this post again after being away travelling on work. Farzana, great to hear you have an interest in South Asian arcahelology. .I have always believed if I hadn’t become an economist I would have become an archaeologist or historian as I was hooked as a school student :). My foray into trade economics developed because of my fascination with ancient trade routes and related historical sites, so well, at least history at least played a role in what I’m doing for a living today…

    ..evolutionay psychology sounds intriguing! Am certainly compelled to know more. :)

    Two papers I came across which I couldn’t upload but would recommend that you, Vafa and other interested contributors to this post google and read deals with a lesser known aspect of persian christianity and esp its history under zoroastrian rule. These are:

    1. The Universality of the Church of the East: How Persian was Persian Christianity? by Christopher Buck

    2. History of early Christianity in India-by M.M. Ninan

    Buck’s paper reveals that intolerant rulers can flourish irrespective of religion and inspire wider intolerance . Interestingly Shapur’s persecution of christians also apparently propelled a migration of some of them to the west coast to kerala long before the Parsis landed. Even now as one of the papers say these churches in kerala have Pahlavi inscriptions-though the settlers themselves may have merged quickly into the larger kerala syrian christian society-religion overriding ethnicity here.

    Some of Nina’s views on christianity’s history appear to be more his personal beliefs and interpretation but his section on the makes interesting reading-esp on p.25 on the persan christian immigration to india as well. I haven’t seen these churches myself though I’m from those parts, but would certainly like to visit them at the next available opportunity.

    Enjoy reading!

  37. farzana

    Mahesh, I ve no idea about the migration of Christians from Persia to India…But 400 years of Sassanian rule was totalitarian Zoroastrian theocracy that wiped out 2,000 years of pluralism from Persian society, so i wont be surprised if such an event did take place.
    Sassanians are remembered for a fair share of negative and positive reasons. on the negative, Zoroastrian monarchs as Ardeshir Babagan, Yazdegerd II and Bahram V have gained an infamous reputation by encouraging the Zoroastrian priesthood and indulging in zealous persecution of communities professing non-Zoroastrian creeds…Not just Christians, but also other sects of Zoroastrianism like Mazdakis (Communist ) and Manicheans, who were rivals Zoroastrian ideologies of the sect that the Sassanians patronized. Naturally, when the Arabs invaded Iran during the reign of Yazdegerd III, those who suffered persecution under Sassanians welcomed them with open arms.

    On the fair side, during the Sassanian reign there was a revival of art and architecture which was at ebb during Parthians . The reign of Khusro Anushirvan experienced a literary renaissance. The Sassanians ruled over a vast Empire stretching from Iran,Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, the Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Dagestan), southwestern Central Asia, part of Turkey, certain coastal parts of theArabian Peninsula, the Persian Gulf area, and areas of southwestern Pakistan touching the borders of Gujarat; and had a well-organized army. At its zenith, it was the only military power capable of challenging the Romans and expansion of Christianity. Sassanids also shared good relations with Indian kingdoms on the west coast with whom they shared trade and military assistance.

  38. farzana

    I just want to add, just as naxalites don’t drop from skies, but the corruption of system creats them, Mazdakis were persian naxals created by economic imbalance in the Persian society that was intensified by corruption, misrule, social injustice, oppression of the masses and dominance of privileged few. Mazdakis claimed to represent ideals of Zoroaster in pristine form that calls for equilibrium social order. Mazdakis were disliked by those in power with vested interest and the clergy lobby for the obvious reasons… During the Sassanid regime, Mazdakis faced the worst persecution… One of the prominent Mazdaki was Ruzbeh, a literate mobed (priest)who had turned rebel…He fled to Syria to escape mistreatment under Sassanids, were he was captured and sold as a slave in Arabian market. He was bought by Mohammad who recognized his real worth and decided to free him. For his part, Ruzbeh changed his name to Salman Farsi/Parsi and accepted Islam. (One of the first ones to accept Islam).
    He is known to have introduce ideology of Mazdakism to Mohammad, who latter introduced it as a core of Islam. Many scholars and historians today consider Salman Farsi as the real brain behind Koran and also the real influence behind the invasion of Arabs. Shia Persians revere to him as holy while Zoroastrians see him as a traitor.