Tehran (Iran): Around 200 fire temples have been discovered all over the world but the temple in Savadkuh county in Iran, is a special one with a sense of rare ancient Iranian “divine” architectural format.
“We have probably discovered the third greatest fire temple that existed in ancient Iran,” archaeologist MeysamLabbaf-Khaniki said, according to ILNA.
“During this archaeological season, we have gathered considerable evidence such as engraved plasterwork and inscriptions that suggest the ruins are related to an important fire temple,” said the archaeologist, as cited by Tehran Times.
Ancient Iran referred to here dates back to the Sassanid era (224-651 CE), which was the longest-lived Persian royal dynasty, ruling for as long as 400 years. This was the last Persian dynasty in the region before the Muslims would invade and established their rule in the entire province. In these 400 years, Zoroastrianism became the state religion.
It was a momentous time for Iran purely because the Sassanid era is also considered the renaissance period when art, architecture and commerce prospered. While the archaeologists are basking in the glory of this ancient temple with exquisite stuccoworks embellished capital columns, engraved plasterwork and mysterious inscriptions, the historians could be in for a treat too.
Although the cult of sacred fire forms the basis of Zoroastrianism, the fire temples are found in other Asian countries as well, namely Iran, India, Turkey and Azerbaijan. The rituals, the literature and the devotion around “fire” of Zoroastrianism have great resemblances to the Hindu practices around “agni”.
In Zoroastrianismfire is considered a purifying force, identified with truth and order and in India “agni” is at the heart of every ceremony including birth, marriage and death. Performing puja for Lord Agni protects a person from evil forces and negative energies, purifies the Aura and provides Peace of mind and the person is blessed by all the Gods and Goddesses since Lord Agni is a messenger between the worshipper and them. The importance of agni can be derived from the fact that no other God garners as many hymns as the god of fire.
The “Yasna” is the Avestan name of Zoroastrianism’s principal act of worship and Avesta texts, which are recited during yasna have striking semblances with the Hindu sacrificial rituals of yajnas. The Yasna says that the “one who sacrifices unto fire with fuel in his hand …, is given happiness” and yajnas are sacrificial rituals for sustaining the celestial beings who bless humanity with balance and happiness.
Inscriptions and their fragments found at the fire temple are written in Pahlavi scripts. Again phonetically resembling “pali”, a dialect of Sanskrit, which became a major language of Buddhist scriptures and literature was a dominant language in a similar period in India.
For Indians, the cultural and historical bond with the Middle East is common knowledge. The great Indian kingdoms of the past have extended far west up to Iran and remained commercially connected even before the Portuguese discovered Bharat. But for those who need hard evidence, this recent discovery of the fire temple and the inscriptions once deciphered, might prove to be an eye-opening moment.