SOAS University of London

SOAS Shapoorji Pallonji Institute of Zoroastrian Studies (SSPIZS)

Related Programmes

Short Summer Courses

Related Modules

Zoroastrianism: Foundation

This course is designed for students with little or no knowledge of Zoroastrianism. It provides an overview of the ancient world where the religion took root and the Zoroastrian religious texts, which were in oral transmission for centuries before being committed to writing. The entry of Zoroastrianism into recorded history and the notion of ‘religion and kingship’ are explored within the context of Imperial Iran. The centuries after the Arab conquest of Iran, during which time Zoroastrianism was in retreat before Islam, are studied with reference to literature that includes the Middle Persian (Pahlavi) books as well as literature in New Persian such as the epic Shahnameh. The exodus of Zoroastrians to India, where they became known as the Parsis, and their growth under British colonial rule is viewed within the framework of a religious minority adapting to the majority religion whether Hindu, Muslim or Christian. The process of secularisation and modernisation is looked at with reference to the modern Zoroastrian diaspora in Britain, America and Australasia.
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Zoroastrianism in the Ancient and Modern Worlds

The purpose of the course is to introduce students to Zoroastrianism - its doctrines, rituals and observances within a historical framework. The teachings of the religion will be discussed on the basis of the Zoroastrian sacred text, the Avesta, in the context of the Indo-Iranian religious system to which it belonged. The history of Zoroastrianism will be traced from its prehistoric roots in Indo-Iranian times through its development under the rule of three great Iranian empires, Achaemenian, Parthian and Sasanian, its gradual development into a minority religion after the Muslim conquest of Iran, the subsequent migration and re-settlement of a diaspora community in India, and from there up to the present day. Theological developments and issues of the contemporary communities will be treated within this historical context with particular reference to Zoroastrian literature. The modern history and adaptation of the religion in different cultural environments will be looked at mainly with reference to the Parsis in India, and the global Diaspora in such places as Britain, Canada and the USA.
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Avestan I

This course is an introduction to Avestan, the language of the earliest sacred texts of the Zoroastrians. No prior knowledge of the subject is required. The course is based on lessons covering basic grammar.
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Pahlavi Language

This course focuses on Middle Persian: it is a Western Middle Iranian language and represents the middle phase in the development of the Persian language from Old and to New Persian. It was the language of the Sasanian state and of the Zoroastrian and Manichaean traditions during the Sasanian period and far into Islamic times.
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Zoroastrianism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

This course focuses on Zoroastrianism as a religion deeply rooted in the prehistoric Indo-Iranian and, ultimately, Indo-European tradition sharing a common heritage with the Vedic religion and Hinduism. In its long history it has infl uenced many other religions, notably Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and, especially, Christianity. For over a thousand years it was the offi cial religion of three great Iranian empires under the Achaemenid, Parthian and Sasanian rulers, extending at times from the Indus river to the coastline and islands of Asia Minor. 
Find out moreZoroastrianism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives