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Removing the Sheen from Zoroastrianism
From Bharat-rakshak forums -

The Avesta speaks of the struggle between the worshipers of Ahura Mazdā and the daevas. This opposition in the Zoroastrian texts is expressed as one between the Mazdayasnas and the Daēvayasnas. It is a conflict in which Zoroaster wished to defeat and convert the worshipers of the daēva religion. The Yašts speak of legendary heroes and kings who participated in this struggle. The wars against the Daēvayasnas by Vištāspa (Yt. 5.109, 113; 9.30-31), Jāmāspa (Yt. 5.68-70), and Vistaru of the Naotara family (Yt. 5.76-77) represent this ongoing conflict in the historical period.

In the Vendidad, the Zoroastrians are encouraged to take possession of the lands, waters, and harvests of the daēva worshipers (Vd. 19.26). Elsewhere (Vd. 7.36-40), it is recommended that the art of medicine should be first tried on the daēva-worshipers and if they survive then it should be attempted on the Mazdayasnians.

Although the Zoroastrian heresy triumphed in Iran and the great Persian kings of the middle of 1st millennium BC followed the religion of Ahura Mazdā, the daēva worshipers survived, especially in the West, in the Mesopotamian religion.

Whether Zarathuštra belonged to the second millennium BC or later, it is clear that the Vedic gods survived for a pretty long time in corners of Iran. The evidence of the survival of the Vedic gods from the daiva- inscription of Xerxes (ruled 486-465 BC). The revolt by the daēva worshipers in West Iran is directly referred to:

Proclaims Xerxes the King: When I became king, there is among these countries one which was in rebellion. Afterwards Ahura-mazda bore me aid. By the favor of Ahuramazda I smote that country and put it down in its place.

And among these countries there was a place where previously daiva were worshiped. Afterwards, by the favor of Ahuramazda I destroyed that sanctuary of daiva, and I made proclamation:

'The daiva shall not be worshiped!' Where previously the daiva were worshiped, there I worshiped Ahuramazda at the proper time and in the proper manner. And there was other business that had been done ill. That I made good. That which I did, all I did by the favor of Ahuramazda. Ahuramazda bore me aid until I completed the work.

The analysis of early Persian history has shown that the Māzandarān, the region south of the Caspian sea and the Alburz mountain range, remained for long a centre of daēva worship. It has been suggested that the Xerxes inscription refers to the suppression of these people.

Burrow takes the daēva worshiping people to be proto-Indoaryans and sees them as the remnants of a population that stretched from West Asia to India. The Iranians coming down from the northeast drove a wedge between this belt, leading to the eventual assimilation of the western daēva worshipers in the course of centuries.

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Removing the Sheen from Zoroastrianism - by G.Subramaniam - 05-05-2012, 06:51 AM

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