Zoroastrians believes that Ahura Mazda is the one, good, and eternal god. A constant battle rages between a good and an evil force, and the good is to be worshipped. The term Ahura originally referred to 33 ruling gods in ancient, pre-Zoroastrian religions in Persia and India. Between Ahura Mazda and the humans is by a number of Attributes, called Amesha Spentas or Bounteous Immortals. Within the Gathas, which is the original Zoroastrian sacred text, these Immortals are sometimes described as concepts, and are sometimes personified. Zoroastrianism is based on the classic epic of good versus evil. Ahura Mazda or Ormuzd (the good and wise god) and Angra Mainya or Ahriman (the evil god) are always in conflict, but Ahura Mazda is assured eventual victory. The resulting cosmic conflict involves the entire universe, including humanity who is required to choose which to follow. Man was created by Ahura Mazda with free will; therefore, man takes part in the conflict between good and evil. It is necessary for all men to do what is right to not only enter heaven, but to help good triumph in the world. By a true confession of faith, by every good deed, word and thought, by constantly keeping pure his body and his soul, he impairs the power of Ahriman and strengthens the might of goodness, and establishes a claim of reward upon Ahura Mazda. By a false confession, by every evil deed, word and thought, and defilement, he increases the evil and renders service to Ahriman. Ahura Mazda, symbolized by fire and a winged ring, is expected to return and destroy all wicked people in a flood of molten metal. The end of the world will constitute the destruction of Ahriman and the resurrection of the dead into a creation of paradise on earth. Fire, seen as the ultimate symbol of Ahura Mazda, remains to this day a precious and sacred element representing the continuing presence of Ahura Mazda. Hence, in Zoroastrian shrines, the ritual flame must never be allowed to extinguish: the flame carries such import that the physical structure of the temple centers around maintaining its life. Due to the sacredness of the flame, the fire is dependant upon the priests to remain lit, these priests are required to constantly purify themselves in order not to contaminate it. Required is the use of the padan, a covering for the mouth and nose to prevent the priest's exhaled breath or saliva from making the sacred fire impure. So pure is the flame that in India, even the presence of a non-Zoroastrian in a consecrated place (such as the location of the fire or even the temple itself) is regarded as a contamination.
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Available: http://www.encyclopedia.com/articles/14202.html 03 Jan 2001
McGuinness, J Peter. Zoroastrianism. HP. 1999 [Copyright]. Online. Peter J McGuinness.
Available: http://zoroastrianism.homepage.com. 03 Jan 2000