The Indo-European Imperial power and influence entered the stage of world history with Cyrus, the Great Persian Emperor of the Achaemenid dynasty. Cyrus ruled from 559 to 529 B.C.E, and founded the ancient Persian Empire. His dominion extended from Northern India to the Nile river in Egypt. The Hellenic historian Xenophon, called Cyrus the ideal ruler, and the Persian Achaemenids “brothers and sisters of the same blood” with Hellenes (Aeschylus: The Persians,Verse 185.)
Xenophon’s Cyropaedia offers a glimpse into the character of Cyrus as “the Ideal Ruler and the best form of Government.” Cyropaedia derives from Greek Kúrou paideía (Κύρου παιδεία), and means “The Education of Cyrus.” The book became a model for medieval European writers of the genre known as “mirrors for princes.”
According to the great German philosopher Hegel: the history of Zoroastrian Achaemenid Persia “constitutes strictly the beginning of world history” (p. 174).
The significance of Achaemenid Persians as the “first Historical People” (The Philosophy of History, p. 173) is expressed in the Zoroastrian religious system according to Hegel.
Hegel interprets “Zoroaster’s Light” or the Mazdean light as enabling the individual human being, together with other beings, to achieve freedom to act in as many ways as their natural propensities allow. Hegel traces a replication of the Zoroastrian antithesis between light and darkness in the political organization of the ancient Persian empire: “We find . . . [the Persian empire] consisting of a number of states, which are indeed dependent, but which have retained their own individuality, their manners, and laws . . . As Light illuminates everything—imparting to each object its peculiar vitality—so the Persian Empire extends over a multitude of nations, and leaves to each one its particular character” (p. 187).
The ancient Zoroastrian Persians, as the foremost Indo-Europeans, never forced Ahûrá Mazdá and the Brilliant Immortals on the alien people or nations. The Achaemenids per the strict admonitions of the Avesta avoided mixing up the world, robbing it of its variety/diversity, and creating chaos, (See Avestan Zamyad Yasht and many other ancient Avestan Passages.)
Zoroastrianism in essence, is about thinking in terms of unlimited horizons, and being true to our own soul, innate feelings, passions, rhythms and instincts. Zoroastrianism is and has always been a very private faith, focused on honor, valor, nobility of blood and spirit, and great dedication towards one’s own kin, and kindred-related communities and nations, called xᵛaæt.dáθa and/or xᵛaæt.vadaθa in the Avestan.
Xᵛaæt.daθa or “dedication to one’s own” is a fundamental principle of Zoroastrianism, and appears in the official Zoroastrian creed formula of Yasna 12. The doctrine goes back directly to the poetic gathas of the ancient Aryan prophet, (See Yasna 53.4, 2nd and 3rd rhymed verse lines and Yasna 34.12, 3rd rhymed verse line.)
Avestan xᵛaæt is derived from Proto Indo European *swedh-o, Vedic svadhá, Lithuanian savē, “one’s own, self.” The second part daθa implies “dedication, giving,” xᵛaæt.daθa thus means “dedication to one’s own.”
The alternative reading xᵛaæt.vadaθa “to give in marriage to one’s own kin or kindred groups” has an additional element vad “to wed, marry.” The Greek word éthos “inner essence, spirit, ethics” comes from the same root as Avestan xᵛaæt.
Religion in Zoroastrianism is about the “inner essence, spirit and the core of one’s own being.” It is clear that a religiosity arising from such an attitude towards religion as the “true self” or the “real identity” can never be forced upon others or advertised as being for everyone.
The true legacy of ancient Persians was their understanding and respect for the very truth that alien people have their own indigenous religions, fitting their own distinctive temperamental rhythms and cognition. Turning them into Zoroastrians was NEVER even an option for the ancient Persians. However, for closely related peoples, ancient Persians felt that it was entirely up to them to decide whether the luminous essence of the Zoroastrian religiosity was a right fit for them or not.
One realizes to be a Zoroastrian when the “inner self” discovers that the call of his/her soul, flesh and blood, is of the same harmonious vibration as the Zoroastrian or Mazdean light.
The same rule of “individual distinctiveness” applies to Zoroastrian mode/manner of prayer. In the Zoroastrian faith, prayer is offered up in solitude and calm seclusion of the individual worshipper, and is NOT a communal rite.
Ancient Zoroastrian Iranians were very conscious and proud of their own heritage and unique distinction. This confidence in one’s own self and religious instincts, translated into a liberal attitude of “live and let live” in their interactions with other races and nations.
I like to conclude by citing Webster definition of Zeitgeist as “the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era.” In this day and age Zeitgeist is marked by “secular humanism.”
Unfortunately, ancient history is rewritten based on the dictates of secular humanism and NOT based on facts and truth. Every autumn, the annual celebrations of Cyrus the Great is held at grass roots level by hundreds of thousands, if not millions of present day Iranians. Present day Iranians fondly honor the noble legacy of the Achaemenids, and the pre-isalmic, Aryan identity of ancient Iran during these non-governmental ceremonies.
However, the former crown prince, Mr. Reza Pahlavi, in his 2016 address to celebrants declared that the Achaemenids were the first to mix all nations (????!!!!,) and warned Iranians about the perils of racial fascism verses the ruling religious fascism!!! It is apparent that the former crown prince champions the cause of “western secular humanism,” and NOT the cause of ancient Iranian and Zoroastrian values and virtues.
Truth is that Zoroastrian kingship ended with the noble Sassanid, and all other rulers or contenders to the throne/power in the past thousand years or so, were/are NO real heirs to the great Zoroastrian civilization of the ancient, mountainous land of Iran.
It is noteworthy, that Zoroastrian chronicles are absolutely silent over Cyrus, despite all his greatness and valor. Instead, Darius is honored greatly in our memory. It is so, because Cyrus offered worship to marduk, a devil-god of the alien Babylonians. Cyrus’s reasons were pragmatic and political, but No Zoroastrian may offer worship or homage to any alien devil gods. For religion in Zoroastrianism means our “true self,” and we may never betray our “true self” to alien ideals or gods for any political or pragmatic reasons.