South Asian Zoroastrianism at UofT


Over the past decades, several world-renown scholars from the University of Toronto have done research on different aspects the history of Zoroastrianism. Since 2007, the University of Toronto has a position in History of Zoroastrianism: it is the only academic institution in North America, and one of the very few in the world, with this position. Several courses on the history of the Zoroastrian religion are offered at the University every year, which cover its historical evolution from the origins (when it evolved from the Indo-Iranian religion) to the modern times (as a religion predominantly practiced in India). Over the last years, the University of Toronto has also hosted several lectures on Zoroastrianism by prestigious international scholars. More lectures are in program for the future.




The undergraduate course RLG208 “Introduction to Zoroastrianism” covers the history of the Zoroastrian religion from the origin to the present days. During the first classes, the Indo-Iranian origin of some Zoroastrian concepts and ritual practices are underlined. The last part of the course explores the history of the Parsi community, from its origin in the aftermath of the Arab invasion of Iran, to it reaching a very prestigious status in the contemporary days. The undergraduate course RLG348 “Zoroastrian Customs and Ceremonies”, offered every two years, analyzes the principal Zoroastrian rituals (from the major priestly liturgies to the daily ceremonies). The course studies principally the modern Indian practice. The elements in common between the contemporary Parsi rituals, and modern Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain rituals are pointed out throughout the course.




Prof. Enrico G. Raffaelli, Associate Professor of History of Zoroastrianism, has worked on several pre-Islamic Zoroastrian texts in Avestan and in Middle Persian. These are mostly preserved in manuscripts copied in India, or conserved in Indian libraries. His book The Sīh-rōzag in Zoroastrianism (Routledge, 2013), in particular, is based on the direct analysis of several manuscripts conserved at the library of the Cama Oriental Institute in Bombay, and of manuscripts of Indian origin preserved at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.