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Zoroastrianism

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Zoroastrianism is the religion and philosophy based on the teachings ascribed by the prophet Zoroaster (Zarathustra, Zartosht). Mazdaism is the religion that acknowledges the divine authority of Ahura Mazda, proclaimed by Zoroaster.

As demonstrated by Zoroastrian creed and articles of faith, the two terms are effectively synonymous. In a declaration of the creed — the Fravarānē — the adherent states: "…I profess myself a devotee of Mazda, a follower of Zarathustra." (Yasna 12.2, 12.8)

While Zoroastrianism was once the dominant religion of much of Iran, the number of adherents has dwindled to not more than 200,000 Zoroastrians worldwide, with concentrations in India and Iran.

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Zurvanism is a now-extinct branch of Zoroastrianism that had the divinity Zurvan as its First Principle (primordial creator deity). Zurvanism is also known as Zurvanite Zoroastrianism.

In Zurvanism, Zurvan is the hypostasis of Time (and Space). The name, as it appears in Middle Persian, derives from Avestan zruvan-, 'time', with the same range of meaning as in the English language. The name "Zurvan", like 'time', also appears in other belief systems, but in those religions are only nominally related to the Zurvan of Zurvanism.

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Kartir Hangirpe (alternatively, Karder or Kirdir) was a highly influential Zoroastrian high-priest of the late 3rd century CE and served as advisor to at least three Sassanid emperors.

Kartir was probably instrumental in promoting the cause of Mazdaism (as opposed to Zurvanism, the other - now extinct - branch of Zoroastrianism), for in his inscription at Naqsh-e Rajab, Kartir makes plain that he has "decided" that "there is a heaven and there is a hell", thus putting himself at odds with the principles of (fatalistic) Zurvanism. Nonetheless, it was during the reign of Shapur I (r. 241-272) - to whom Kartir was first appointed advisor - that Zurvanism appears to have developed as a cult, and this contradiction remains an issue of scholastic dispute.

Simultaneously, Kartir is also considered to have been a significant force in an iconoclastic movement that would result in the loss of favour of the shrine cults, an alien (to Indo-Iranian religious tradition) form of worship inherited from the Babylonians and instituted six centuries earlier by Artaxerxes II as an instrument for tax collection. It was during Kartir's time as high-priest that the shrines were - by law - stripped of their statues, and then either abandoned or converted into fire temples.

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Naqsh i Rustam. Investiture d'Ardashir 1.jpg
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Ahura Mazda (right) giving the ring of kingship to Ardashir I (left)
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...that Indian entrepreneur and Zoroastrian Jamsetji Tata conceptualized Tata Steel, Tata Power and the Indian Institute of Science, but that they were only established after his death in 1904?

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