Zoroastrian Hindus

Thanks to Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace for this fascinating online article on Zoroastrian Hindus in modern-day Azerbaijian from a travelogue dating from the 1920s, translated and posted by Soli Dastur.

About hundred to two hundred years ago, our Hindustan used to have a very good trade with the Central Asian cities like Samarkand, Bokhara, etc. Also, many Hindu traders from Hindustan used to visit Baku for trade. North Indian Hindu traders from Sindh and Multan (now in Pakistan) used to take part in this trade and used to visit Baku. This temple was erected to satisfy their religious needs.

Our Hindu brethren also consider Fire (“Agni”Â?) as a God. The natural gases emit from earth at this place, which will ignite into a continuous fire ball by any sparks. Hence here at the mouth of fire naturally originating from earth, they established a Hindu Temple for fire worship. After a few years, the original trade routes and customs changed and the visits of the Hindu traders diminished. And from the original group of the Brahmins, some passed away and a few that were left went back to their original home land. At this place, they showed me a long room and informed me that some 40 years ago, the Russian Czar, Alexander III, visited this place with a desire to witness the Hindu Brahmin Fire ritual. So the local officials gathered a few Brahmins still living here and they performed the fire ritual in this room in front of the Czar.

Qala-e Duxtar, tower temple of fire.

The purpose of the book, which brought the author across the ancient world, was to search for clues about Zoroastrian civilization. The religion and ceremonies of the religion spread across kingdoms from Europe to India to China, but ended with the Sassanian Dynasty’s glorious empire destruction by the Islamic Arab invasions of the 7th century.

About Curzon

Lord George Nathaniel Curzon (1859 - 1925) entered the British House of Commons as a Conservative MP in 1886, where he served as undersecretary of India and Foreign Affairs. He was appointed Viceroy of India at the turn of the 20th century where he delineated the North West Frontier Province, ordered a military expedition to Tibet, and unsuccessfully tried to partition the province of Bengal during his six-year tenure. Curzon served as Leader of the House of Lords in Prime Minister Lloyd George's War Cabinet and became Foreign Secretary in January 1919, where his most famous act was the drawing of the Curzon Line between a new Polish state and Russia. His publications include Russia in Central Asia (1889) and Persia and the Persian Question (1892). In real life, "Curzon" is a US citizen from the East Coast who has been a financial analyst, freelance translator, and university professor; he is currently on assignment in Tokyo.
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6 Responses to Zoroastrian Hindus

  1. Chirol says:

    Almost went there when I was in Baku but was dissuaded by others. Pictures on their cameras were of a dirty and broken up site where a steel pipe with gas in it can be turned on and off for visitors. It would seem not much is left of its former glorly =(

  2. Pingback: In Search of an Ancient Hindu Temple in Azerbaijan : Hindu Sutra

  3. A.E. says:

    Interesting article. Thanks for posting.

    Great new layout too.

  4. Chief Wiggam says:

    There’s a Ralph Peters article at the “RealClearPolitics”:http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/02/sunni_vs_shia_its_not_all_isla.html website with some words about the Zoroastrian influence in Iran:

    “…While Shi’ism only prevailed in Persia within the last millennium (nudging out Sunni Islam at last), “Aryan” Islam had long been shaped by Zoroastrianism and other ineradicable pre-Islamic legacies.

    Persians made the new faith their own, incorporating cherished traditions–just as northern Europeans made Christianity their own through Protestantism. It’s illuminating to hear Iran’s president rumor the return of the Twelfth Imam, since the coming of that messiah figure is pure Zoroastrianism, with no connection to the Koran or the Hadiths.

    Even the rhetoric of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, condemning the U.S. as the “Great Satan” divided the world into forces of light and darkness–Zoroaster again, as well as Mani, the dualist whose followers we know as “Manicheans.” Iranians excitedly deny such pre-Islamic influences–then worship at the ancient shrines of re-invented saints, celebrate the Zoroastrian New Year, and incorporate fire rites into social events .”

  5. Nick says:

    Related to this post, I can higly recommend an excellent travelogue about Zorastrianism by Paul Kriwazcek, called In Search of Zarathustra: Across Iran and Central Asia to Find the World’s First Prophet. The title is slightly misleading, in that the author also visits the UK and the Balkans in search of the legacy and influence of Zoroastrianism and related offshoots and cults. It is a wonderfully written book.

  6. jim chandra says:

    where can find books to read about zorostian