In the Iranian desert, in and around Bombay in India, in East Africa, and in many of the major cities in the world are pockets of a small community totalling no more than 120,000 members worldwide. They are the 'Persians' or Parsis, followers of the great Persian prophet Zoroaster. After the eighth century, in the face of Muslim persecution, the majority of them fled from Iran to tolerant India and beyond.

'Zaratustra' or Zoroaster is commonly believed to have lived during the sixth century BC, a period remarkable for its prophetic endeavour and spiritual enlightenment. However, modern scholars tend towards a much earlier date, somewhere in the period 1500-1000 BC.

Zoroaster called for allegiance to Ahura Mazda, the 'Wise Lord', and righteousness. However, he also believed in various good and evil spirits, particularly Angra Mainyu, the 'Evil Spirit, to whom he appeared to give equal status with the Wise Lord. They are both eternal. This is why some consider Parsism dualistic- believing in two opposing, and equally balanced, forces of good and evil in the world. But, because he did not believe that matter was essentially bad, Zoroaster taught that in the end Good would triumph over Evil. So, Parsism claims to be monotheistic- believing in one Almighty God.

Also, man has a part to play in the triumph of Good over Evil: because Ahura Mazda created the world in order to help him overcome Angra Mainyu, man is constantly summoned to combat evil. In this way Parsis are seekers of the 'Good Life'- 'good thoughts, good words and good deeds'.

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