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Fire temples UPSC NOTE


  • The 19th century saw more Parsis coming to India, particularly to Mumbai. 

  • A century later, Persia had been renamed Iran by Reza Shah, a Nazi sympathiser, who wanted to remind the world that the word ‘Arya’ was first inscribed by the Achaemenid emperor Darius the Great over 2,500 years ago, at Behistun, a large rock relief in the mountains of western Iran

  • The new wave of immigrants to India were called Iranis, and became famous for their cafe culture. 

  • Though they follow the same monotheistic faith and come from the same homeland, Iranis are seen as a separate community by the Parsis

  • The Parsi community forms the transition zone between the monotheistic mythologies of West Asia and the polytheistic mythologies of South Asia

  • Genetic, linguistic and archaeological evidence now informs us that the eastern arm of the Indo-European speaking people, who domesticated the horse and invented the chariot around 2000 BC, settled in the Oxus basin around 1700 BC, where they were exposed to a thermogenic herb

  • They split into two groups — one went west towards Iran, and referred to the herb as ‘homa’, while the other crossed the Hindu Kush, and came east to India and called the herb ‘soma’.

  • The former mingled with the Mesopotamians and became monotheists under influence of a prophet called Zarathustra

  • He referred to the Devil as Angra Manyu, and to demons as ‘div’

  • The latter referred to their gods as ‘deva’. For the west-moving Ariya people, Yima was the first human; for the east-moving Aryas, Yama was the first human who died.

Fire temples

  • The fire temples of the Zoroastrians, frequented by those who call themselves Parsis or the people of Persia, are distinguished by their unique artwork that evokes memories of ancient Mesopotamia: giant winged bulls with human heads, and birds with human torso and head.

  • These creatures can be traced to 8th century BC Assyrian architecture in the lands we now call Iraq. 

  • They eventually made their way to Persia, by the 5 BC. 

  • The fantastic beasts combined the strength of bulls and eagles, and were seen as servants of the ‘one true God’

  • Gods were represented by images back then, and housed in temples. 

  • But the Persians chose fire, preferably that which came from the sky as lightning, to represent the formless Ahura Mazda — the benevolent power, one who is not a jealous god, one who does not demand obedience. 

  • Persian monotheism influenced the Jewish community, which was exiled in Babylon at the time. 



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Fire temples UPSC NOTE
Fire temples UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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