In Search of the Zoroastrians

Fire Temples














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Out of Asia came the Big Four faiths, the four great monotheistic religions of the world--Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam--and a fifth, Zoroastrianism. This last is very old: its prophet, Zarathustra or Zoroaster having lived (probably) at about the same time as the Buddha, circa six hundred B.C.--but no one knows exactly when or where Zoroaster lived or died; there are only traditions. Equally, the names of Zoroaster's contemporaries are unknown to history.

Fire was holy to Zoroastrians. It was ranked according to its uses: that is, from the lesser fires of potters and goldsmiths, through cooking-fires and hearth-fires up to the three great eternal fires of Sasanian Persia. These fires were the Farnbag, the Gushnasp and the Burzen-Mihr flames, sacred respectively to the three classes of priests, warriors, and farmers. The Farnbag fire was at first located in Khwarism, but (according to tradition) removed to Kabulistan by Zoroaster's patron, King Vishpaspa; and relocated again, circa 500 A.D., by King Khosrow to the sanctuary of Kariyan in the Persian province of Fars. The Gushnasp fire was located in the city of Shiz. The Burzen-Mihr fire appears to be of dubious location.

Ann


Fire-temple of Baku

At the city of Baku, on the shore of the Caspian Sea, there was for a long time a very old fire-temple; this particular fire-temple was probably older than recorded history. (Other fire-shrines dotted the whole area of Baku, which in the present day is a major petroleum source.)

According to Haxthausen (who wrote about Baku in a book published in 1863) this Atish-gah or Atish-jah--that is, the Place of Fire; in Persian, 'fire-temple' is atash kuda--had been recently rebuilt: the holy flame issued from a central opening and also from four hollow pillars in the temple, which was a building of triangular form, about one hundred and ninety paces to the side, constructed by a Hindu merchant in the eighteen hundreds. He described the flame as about four feet high, bright, and a wondrous sight as it waved heavily to and fro against a dark sky - ie, the temple was unroofed.

In 1876, the English traveler James Bryce also visited the fire-temple, and remarks that its maintenance and the upkeep of the one attendant priest was paid for by the Parsee community of Bombay, whose members also visited Baku on pilgrimage.

And in 1784, by the account of George Forster of the Bengal Civil Service, the Atish-gah was a square structure about 30 yards across, surrounded by a low wall and containing many apartments, in each of which was a small jet of sulphurous fire issuing from a funnel "constructed in the shape of a Hindu altar." The fire was used for worship, cookery and warmth. On closing the funnel the fire was extinguished, at which time a hollow sound was heard accompanied by a strong and cold current of air. Exclusive of these, there was a large jet from a natural cleft, and many small jets outside the wall, one of which was used by the Hindus (of which there was a large trading community at Baku just then) for burning their dead.
















 Fire Temples outside India
 

Aden

**

Transferred to Lonavala

Cawasji Dinshaw Adenwalla

Africa (Zanzibar East Africa)

** 

Dorabji Dinshaw Adenwalla (Dadgah)

Australia (Sydney) **  Dadgah (Details not known)

Ceylon

 

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Hong Kong

**

Details not Known

Iran (Kerman)

Iran (Shiraz)

Iran (Tehran)

Iran (Tehran)

Iran (Yazd)

 

*****

 

 

Banoo Rustom Farokh

Adran (Details not Known)

Anjuman Dar-e-Meher

Agiari (Details not Known)

Petit Atashbehram (Details not Known)

London ** Zoroastrian House (Dadgah)

Pakistan (Karachi)

 

 

 

Pakistan (Lahore)

 

Pakistan (Queta)

 

**

**

**

 

 

 

 

1. Dosabhai Meherwanji Wadia

2. Hirjibhai Jamshedji Deherana

3. Pestonji, Hirjibhai, Pirosha, Hormuzji     Pastakia

4. Avabai Ardeshir Cooper & Ardeshir B. Liboowalla - Dadgah)

5. Anjuman Dar-e-Meher

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