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The Religion of Mazdakism

Mazdakism – (Mazdak) was the chief representative of a religious and philosophical teaching called Mazdakism, which he viewed as a reformed and purified version of Zoroastrianism, although his teaching has been argued to display influences from Manichaeism as well.

Zoroastrianism was the dominant religion of Sassanid Persia, and Mazdak himself was a Zoroastrian priest, or mobed, but most of the Zoroastrian clergy regarded his teaching as heresy. Information about it is scarce and details are sketchy, but some further details may be inferred from the later doctrine of Khurramism, which has been seen as a continuation of Mazdakism.

Some sources claim that the original founders of this sect lived earlier than Mazdak. These were another mobed named Zardusht (Zaradust-e Khuragen) (with a similar name, but not the same person as, the founder of Zoroastrianism) and/or a Zoroastrian philosopher known as Mazdak the Elder, who taught a combination of altruism and hedonism: “he directed his followers to enjoy the pleasures of life and satisfy their appetite in the highest degree with regard to eating and drinking in the spirit of equality, to aim at good deeds; to abstain from shedding blood and inflicting harm on others; and to practice hospitality without reservation”. This doctrine was further developed by the best known Mazdak, Mazdak the Younger, son of Bāmdād.

At later stages the conservative Zoroastrian opposition accused Mazdak’s followers of heresy and with abhorrent practices such as the sharing of women, for which scholars have found no evidence. Mazdak’s followers are considered to be the first real socialists in human history by their emphasis on community property and community work with benefits accruing to all.

Tags : Religion
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