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Isaiah Ward
Isaiah Ward

Temple Of Ascending Flame Pdf [HOT]

A fire temple, Agiary, Atashkadeh (Persian: آتشکده), Atashgah (آتشگاه) or Dar-e Mehr (در مهر) is the place of worship for the followers of Zoroastrianism, the ancient religion of Iran (Persia).[1][2][3] In the Zoroastrian religion, fire (see atar), together with clean water (see aban), are agents of ritual purity. Clean, white "ash for the purification ceremonies [is] regarded as the basis of ritual life", which "are essentially the rites proper to the tending of a domestic fire, for the temple [fire] is that of the hearth fire raised to a new solemnity".[4] For, one "who sacrifices unto fire with fuel in his hand ..., is given happiness".[5]

Temple Of Ascending Flame Pdf

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As of 2021[update], there were 167 fire temples in the world, of which 45 were in Mumbai, 105 in the rest of India, and 17 in other countries.[6][7] Of these only 9 (1 in Iran and 8 in India) are the main temples known as atash behrams and the remaining are the smaller temples known as agiarys.

First evident in the 9th century BCE, the Zoroastrian rituals of fire are contemporary with that of Zoroastrianism itself. It appears at approximately the same time as the shrine cult and is roughly contemporaneous with the introduction of Atar as a divinity. There is no allusion to a temple of fire in the Avesta proper, nor is there any Old Persian language word for one.

That the rituals of fire was a doctrinal modification and absent from early Zoroastrianism is also evident in the later Atash Nyash. In the oldest passages of that liturgy, it is the hearth fire that speaks to "all those for whom it cooks the evening and morning meal", which Boyce observes is not consistent with sanctified fire. The temple is an even later development: from Herodotus it is known that in the mid-5th century BCE the Zoroastrians worshipped to the open sky, ascending mounds to light their fires.[8] Strabo confirms this, noting that in the 6th century, the sanctuary at Zela in Cappadocia was an artificial mound, walled in, but open to the sky, although there is no evidence whatsoever that the Zela-sanctuary was Zoroastrian.[9] Although the "burning of fire" was a key element in Zoroastrian worship, the burning of "eternal" fire, as well as the presence of "light" in worship, was also a key element in many other religions.

The Battle of al-Qādisiyyah (636 CE) and the Battle of Nihavānd (642 CE) were instrumental to the collapse of the Sassanid Empire and state-sponsored Zoroastrianism; destruction or conversion (mosques) of some fire temples in Greater Iran followed. The faith was practiced largely by the aristocracy but large numbers of fire temples did not exist. Some fire temples continued with their original purpose although many Zoroastrians fled. Legend says that some took fire with them and it most probably served as a reminder of their faith in an increasingly persecuted community since fire originating from a temple was not a tenet of the religious practice.[citation needed]

The characteristic feature of the Sassanid fire temple was its domed sanctuary where the fire-altar stood.[15] This sanctuary always had a square ground plan with a pillar in each corner that then supported the dome (the gombad). Archaeological remains and literary evidence from Zend commentaries on the Avesta suggest that the sanctuary was surrounded by a passageway on all four sides. "On a number of sites the gombad, made usually of rubble masonry with courses of stone, is all that survives, and so such ruins are popularly called in Fars čahār-tāq or 'four arches'."[16]

Apart from relatively minor fire temples, three were said to derive directly from Ahura Mazda, thus making them the most important in Zoroastrian tradition. These were the "Great Fires" or "Royal Fires" of Adur Burzen-Mihr, Adur Farnbag, and Adur Gushnasp. The legends of the Great Fires are probably of antiquity (see also Denkard citation, below), for by the 3rd century CE, miracles were said to happen at the sites, and the fires were popularly associated with other legends such as those of the folktale heroes Fereydun, Jamshid and Rustam.

This fire temple was not always at Udvada. According to the Qissa-i Sanjan, 'Story of Sanjan', the only existing account of the early years of Zoroastrian refugees in India and composed at least six centuries after their arrival, the immigrants established a Atash-Warharan, 'victorious fire' (see Warharan for etymology) at Sanjan. Under threat of war (probably in 1465), the fire was moved to the Bahrot Caves 20 km south of Sanjan, where it stayed for 12 years. From there, it was moved to Bansdah, where it stayed for another 14 years before being moved yet again to Navsari, where it would remain until the 18th century. It was then moved to Udvada where it burns today.

Among present-day Iranian Zoroastrians, the term darb-e mehr includes the entire ritual precinct. It is significantly more common than the older atashkada, a Classical Persian language term that together with its middle Persian predecessors (??? ???? ātaxš-kadag, -man and -xanag) literally means 'house of fire'. The older terms have the advantage that they are readily understood even by non-Zoroastrian Iranians. In the early 20th century, the Bombay Fasilis (see Zoroastrian calendar) revived the term as the name of their first fire temple, and later in that century the Zoroastrians of Tehran revived it for the name of their principal fire temple.

The term darb-e mehr is also common in India, albeit with a slightly different meaning. Until the 17th century the fire (now) at Udvada was the only continuously burning one on the Indian subcontinent. Each of the other settlements had a small building in which rituals were performed, and the fire of which the priests would relight whenever necessary from the embers carried from their own hearth fires.[3] The Parsis called such an unconsecrated building either dar-be mehr or agiary. The latter is the Gujarati language word for 'house of fire'[3] and thus a literal translation of atashkada. In recent years, the term dar-be mehr has come to refer to a secondary sacred fire (the dadgah) for daily ritual use that is present at the more prestigious fire temples. Overseas, in particular in North America, Zoroastrians use the term dar-be mehr for both temples that have an eternally burning fire as well as for sites where the fire is only kindled occasionally. This is largely due to the financial support of such places by one Arbab Rustam Guiv, who preferred the dialectal Iranian form.

Functionally, the fire temples are built to serve the fire within them, and the fire temples are classified (and named) according to the grade of fire housed within them. There are three grades of fires, the Atash Dadgah, Atash Adaran, and Atash Behram.

The outer façade of a Zoroastrian fire temple is almost always intentionally nondescript and free of embellishment. This may reflect ancient tradition (supported by the prosaic nature of the technical terms for a fire temple) that the principal purpose of a fire temple is to house a sacred fire, and not to glorify what is otherwise simply a building.

The basic structure of present-day fire temples is always the same. There are no indigenous sources older than the 19th century that describe an Iranian fire temple (the 9th century theologian Manushchir observed that they had a standard floor plan, but what this might have been is unknown), and it is possible that the temples there today have features that are originally of Indian origin.[23] On entry one comes into a large space or hall where congregation (also non-religious) or special ceremonies may take place. Off to the side of this (or sometimes a floor level up or down) the devotee enters an anteroom smaller than the hall he/she has just passed through. Connected to this anteroom, or enclosed within it, but not visible from the hall, is the innermost sanctum (in Zoroastrian terminology, the atashgah, literally 'place of the fire'[2] in which the actual fire-altar stands).

A temple at which a Yasna service (the principal Zoroastrian act of worship that accompanies the recitation of the Yasna liturgy) may be celebrated will always have, attached to it or on the grounds, at least a well or a stream or other source of 'natural' water. This is a critical requirement for the Ab-Zohr, the culminating rite of the Yasna service.

In India and in Indian-Zoroastrian communities overseas, non-Zoroastrians are strictly prohibited from entering any space from which one could see the fire(s). While this is not a doctrinal requirement (that is, it is not an injunction specified in the Avesta or in the so-called Pahlavi texts), it has nonetheless developed as a tradition. It is, however, mentioned in a 16th-century Rivayat epistle (R. 65). In addition, entry into any part of the facility is sometimes reserved for Zoroastrians only. This then precludes the use of temple hall for public (also secular) functions. Zoroastrians insist, though, that these restrictions are not meant to offend non-Zoroastrians, and point to similar practices in other religions. There was a custom in India that Zoroastrian women were not allowed to enter the Fire Temple and the Tower of Silence if they married a non-Zoroastrian person. This custom has been challenged before the Supreme Court of India.[25]

The priesthood is trigradal. The chief priest of each temple has the title of dastur. Consecration to this rank relieves him of the necessity of purification after the various incidents of life that a lesser priest must expiate. Ordinary priests have the title of mobad, and are able to conduct the congregational worship and such occasional functions as marriages. A mobad must be the son, grandson, or great-grandson of a mobad. The lowest rank is that of herbad, or ervad; these assist at the principal ceremonies.[26]


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