Zoroastrianism is the world’s oldest revealed religion.
1 It is a pragmatic
teaching concerned with the improvement in the quality of life on earth.
Zoroastrian religion has preached ecology and care of the environment and all
natural creation right from its very inception, which makes it also the first
proponent of ecology.
Zoroastrians believe that the genesis of ecology is the belated realization that
in its progress humankind has disregarded the effects of its activities on the
rest of the nature. Since the power of science that was given to man has not
been used wisely, the success of humanity has taken a great toll on the other
species. 3 Ecology is an attempt to remedy that. The re-interpreted original
message of how to establish a just dominion, in which all species can thrive, is
a part of current Zoroastrian religious practices that teach great respect and
even reverence for nature. Note that four thousand years before the
first ‘Greens’ the priest-prophet Zoroaster preached that humankind, as the
seventh creation, must protect the other six (sky, water, earth, plant, animal,
and fire) – human beings have been seen as the natural motivators or overseers
of the Seven Creation. 1
In the Gathas, the key concept of all well ordered existence and of the
establishment of justice is referred to as Asha. It is similar to the Tao within
Taoism, 4 and is translated as cosmic order or structure, eternal law, the mainspring
of all manifestations, etc. Understanding Asha is
science when applied to the physical world, and is religion in its truest sense
when applied to the moral world.
Among the points of Zoroastrian religion, which are of interest with respect to
|The material world has been created as a means
to help humans progress. At the end of time, humanity must give it to Ahura Mazda in its
original perfect form. 1|
|All the creations on the earth are
interconnected to each other, and need each other for survival.
5 The faith
demands that Zoroastrians love God as
well as their fellow creatures. 6|
|Zoroaster taught his followers to be constantly active in furthering
creation, with each human being sharing responsiblity for the its progress and prosperity.
|Humans have been given the responsibility to fight anything that is harmful to
the very purpose of creation.|
|A Zoroastrian has a religious duty to care for both the material and spiritual
aspects of his existence. Their life needs to exhibit simplicity, selflessness, purity, and
charity. Selflessness is one of the cornerstones of the religion. Zoroastrianism
inculcates the highest moral standards.|
|Neglect of the environment is considered a capitulation
to the forces of darkness and evil. 2|
In practical matters, Zoroastrianism:
|Encourages the traits of risk-taking, fighting for one’s rights, fighting
against injustice, and helping the poor and down-trodden.|
|Insists that the disparity between the rich and the poor has to be resolved.
The creator provided enough for each and every creation. It is the greed of
human beings that leads to the unequal distribution of income and wealth among
|Treats men and women on equal footing.|
|Views science with a healthy respect.
|As to procreation, Zoroastrianism puts great emphasis on personal
In everyday life:
|Zoroastrian purity laws are comprehensive but are now largely neglected by
|Prayers are said at sources of pure water, and noble trees are venerated.
|It is a tradition that Zoroastrians never enter a river to wash in it or
pollute it in any way. 1|
|The wedding liturgy specifically reminds newly
weds that the carry a duty to maintain the purity of running water,
|It is held a sin to cut a sapling or kill a young animal (since neither has
yet fulfilled its part in the scheme of things). |
|Zoroastrians plant a tree to celebrate the birth of a new family member.
|Animals are treated well, especially dogs. By custom, still locally observed,
bread is given regularly to a dog before the family eats. |
|A member of the Zoroastrian religion in India
is called a Parsi (a.k.a. Parsee). Hindus drive cows into Parsi quarters; the Parsis acquire merit by feeding
A search of the Amazon.com data base shows the following books on
Zoroastrian responses to the environment:
At least, it should. Sometimes Amazon returns the strangest selections.
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The following information sources were used to
prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still
- "What does Zoroastrianism Teach About Ecology?" at:
- Shahin Bekhradnia, "Zoroastrianism and the Environment," at:
- Lovji D Cama, "Zoroastrianism and Science," at:
- Edward Goldsmith, "The Way," Themis Books, (1996).
- "End Factory Farming," at:
- Mary Evelyn Tucker & John A. Grim, "Introduction: The Emerging Alliance
of World Religions and Ecology," at:
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Copyright © 2006
by Vladimir Tomek
Original publishing date: 2006-AUG-27
Latest update on: 2006-AUG-27
Author. Vladimir Tomek