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Research paper topic: Introduction Some Time In The History Of The Universe, No One Is Quite Sure When, There Was Born A Man This Man Would Eventua - 1392 words
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Introduction Some time in the history of the universe, no one is quite sure when, there was born a man. This man would eventually be the first to found a monotheistic religion. The name of this man is Zoroaster; the name is actually a corruption of Zarathushtra. Zoroaster's birth date, along with whether his religion is actually monotheistic, is a subject of great debate. The opinions concerning his birth, and consequently about the beginning of this great religion, range from as early as 6000 years before Plato to as late as 500 B.C.E.
In any case he was born somewhere in Iran, although whether in the East or West is also arguable. In the early writings the people belonging to this religion are called Zarathustris; the system he taught is called Mazdaism. The present day followers are called Parsees. Zoroaster removed the multiplicity of deities from religion and created a faith in which there were two, or perhaps, one God. All other higher beings were regarded as demons, or evil spirits.
No one knows for sure the different stages of popularity that Zoroastrianism experienced. We do know that at the time of Darius I, 558?-486 B.C.E., it was protected by royalty. Later, however, Zoroastrians were continually chased by the members of the Islamic religion through Kathiawar in India, and Surat, and finally they settled again in Bombay. The universe is the battleground. The opponents are Mazda Ahura, later to be known as Ahura Mazda, and Anra Mainyu, later call ed Ahriman. Ahura Mazda is the good force and the bad is Ahriman.
The battle will last till Ahura Mazda defeats Ahriman in the year 12,000 (we are now presumably around 11,500). This is the world and its future in accordance with Zoroastrian beliefs. Zoroaster Zoroaster had a very non-conforming mind and was forced to flee his parents' house without his parents' consent because of the rebuking he gave to those who sacrificed cattle or drank intoxicating haoma. He fled to the mountains and gave himself to God. Sometime between the ages of thirty and forty an angel appeared to him and brought him to the throne of the highest God, Ahura Mazda. After this occurred, the prophet tried for twelve years to convert people, but to no available.
During this period many visions were revaled to him. A milestone in the progression of the religion occurred when Zoroaster converted Vishtaspa,the king of Persia. He also converted the king's son, brother, counsellor, and grand vizier. Zoroaster married, along with two other women, the counsellor's daughter. Zoroaster was killed at the age of seventy-seven by Ardshataspa, a neighboring prince, who invaded Vishtaspa's capital.
According to the Parsees, Vishtaspa is the father of Darius, who reigned from 521-485 B.C.E. Another view holds that Zoroaster lived 258 years before Alexander the Great; he would have therefore lived between 570 and 500 B.C.E. The Greeks tend to place him six thousand years before Plato. Ahura Mazda, while not necessarily discovered by Zoroaster, was found on an inscription dating around 714 B.C.E. In ancient Persia, before Zoraoster's reforms, religion was polytheistic. Zoroaster objected to these dieties and referred to them as demons.
Many of the rituals and Gods that he removed were later reinstated due to the fact that the people were still emotionally attached to them. We can see this from the fact that on the epigraphs of Artaxerxes II Mnemon (404-358 B.C.E.) the Mithras and Anahita, ancient gods, are mentioned. Temples and images of God were also introduced into the religion at a later date. Zoroastrian Beliefs The Zoroastrian religion is based on the fundamental concept of a constant battle of good against evil. The good is represented by Ahura Mazda while the bad is represented by Ahriman. Ahura Mazda created this world as a trap for Ahriman.
Human beings draw Ahriman into this world; he will jump at any chance to cause others to do evil. He will then be entering Ahura Mazda's world, and when people choose good over evil voluntarily this will weaken Ahriman to the point where he can be destroyed. It is hard to reconcile the two opposing views on the dieties in the Zoroastrian religion. The claim is made that the religion is monotheistic; it is also alleged that the opposing forces in the world, good and evil, are represented by two equal gods. Modern day Parsees resolve the contradiction by explaining that Ahura Mazda has always and will always stand above all. Anra Mainyu, or Ahriman, was only created due to an evil thought that once entered Ahura Mazda's head.
The real opponent of Ahriman is Spenta Mainyu, the good spirit. The world is divided into three sections. The upper world is bathed in light, the earth is divided into seven sections, and the underworld is a dark place. The forces of good and evil will do battle for the twelve thousand years of the world's total existence. In the beginning, as Ahriman attempts to kill Ahura Mazda, he is stopped and pulled away.
Both of the Gods agree to a period of peace that will last 9,000 years. During the first three thousand years Ahura Mazda creates angels, good spirits, and Frava shis. These Fravashis are the original heavenly images of men living in the upper world. During the next three thousand years the Fravashis come down to earth. There they lead a perfect sinless life.
Anra Mainyu is angry because of the advantage he sees the Ahura Mazda has gained over him in preparation for the final battle. He tries to bring evil to the world, but he is rendered powerless by the sacred Ahunavairya formula that Ahura Mazda utters. In the next three thousand years Anra Mainyu invades the world. He kills the early man and animal and disperses demons throughout the world. However a human couple arises from the seed of the early man and a cow from the seed of early animal.
These beings are mixed and must choose between the good and evil that now inhabits the world. The final three thousand year period begins and Ahura Mazda sends Zoroaster down to the world. Zoroaster had been in fravashi, or spiritual, form since the beginning of the second period. After Zoroast er's death, every thousand years till the end of this three thousand year period, a prophet will arise. This prophet will come from a virgin who is fertilized by remnants of Zoroaster's seed, which is preserved in a lake.
The prophet will bring about an improvement in society for a short period of time. The last of these prophets, Saoshyant, or "helper", will bring about a resurrection of the dead. The final fight will then occur and the death of Ahriman will take place. All evil will disappear and the world will be cleansed by a fiery stream of metal which will bring about a complete transformation, or Frashokereti. Ahura Mazda will rule over all forever.
Zoroastrian Literature The main source for the teachings of Zoroaster is the Avesta. These are the only writings which come directly from Zoroaster and are written as if spoken to him by God Himself. Due to the fact that the Iranians couldn't write, all this information was passed down orally; this, in part, led to the eventual loss of this material. Around the fifth century an Avestan alphabet was created for this purpose. These documents date back to 1323. The Gathas are sacred literature which are difficult to translate and are believed to inclu de rituals, prayers, hymns, visions of God, His purposes, and prophecies.
The Gathic portions of the Yasna were preserved by being included in the Yasna writings which involved the worship process of every day. The younger Avestan parts of the Yasna were being written throughout all the centuries eventually having seventy-two sections. These contained many topics and protected the basic Gathic texts. Some of the Extended Avesta was taken from the Yashts which were hymns addressed to the lesser divine beings and were very poetic. These were written in the Avestan dialect.
The Gathas on the other hand, were memorized due to their holiness. The Vendidad were written in the late younger Avestan period. They included laws on purity and on fighting evil. The Visperad is an extension of the Yasna and the Vendidad. They dealt with the sev ...
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