Iran is the ancient name of Persia, and it is derived from the root "Arya" or Aryan, the Indo-European branch of peoples who settled in that land. The Aryans of ancient Iran were Mazdayasni Zarathushtris, ie. Worshippers of Ahura Mazda (the name of God in Avestan) as revealed by the ancient prophet Zarathushtra, thousands of years before Christ.
However, all the ancient Zoroastrian scriptures speak of an earlier homeland from where our people came, the lost "Airyane Vaejahi" or seedland of the Aryans. From this homeland, the Indo- Europeans or Aryans moved to upper India, Iran, Russia and the nations of Europe such as Greece, Italy, Germany, France, Scandinavia, England, Scotland and Ireland.
Sanskrit, Latin, Avestan are all sister languages, and the present day upper Indian, Persian and European languages are related eg. Baradar in persian = Brata in sanskrit = Brother in english. "Persia" is actually a late European term for the land of "Farsi" language ie. Iran. The Arabic phase in Iran only began 1300 years ago, and we had to escape to India to preserve our Zoroastrian religion.
The "Vendidad" is one of the ancient scriptures of the Zoroastrians, actually called the "Vi-daevo-dat" or the law to fight against evil. In the first "Fargad" or chapter, the Golden Age of the ancient Aryans is outlined with their greatest king, "Yima Kshaeta" (Yam Raj in the Indian Vedas) who banished old age and death. Then, the ice age broke on the ancient home and the Aryans were forced to migrate southwards, to the southeast and the southwest.
Mr. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, a great Brahmin (Indian Aryan) scholar of India in the last century studied the Vedas and the Vendidad to find an ancient homeland of the Aryans. The Vedas are scriptures written by the Indo-Europeans or Aryans after they migrated to India. From the descriptions of the weather patterns mentioned in the Vedas, Tilak concluded that the ancient home must be in the Artic regions ie. above present Russia.
The Aryans migrated from the ancient home to Iran and from there to India and Greece and Europe. Tilak also said that the most ancient historical scripture was the Iranian Vendidad, which actually describes the ancient homeland of the Aryans, the Aryan King Yima Kshaeta who ruled over it (Yama Raja, lord of the underworld in latter day Indian Hinduism) and the onrush of winter, sent by ahriman (the devil) which caused the great migration. This is the famous first "Fargad" of the Vendidad which fascinated a lot of European scholars in the last century.
The ancient Aryans believed that the world as created by Ahura Mazda was perfect, with no evil. The first man Gayo Maretan had no disease, no illness, no hunger and thirst. Only the good creation of God existed eg., the Dog, Cow and Bull, Horse, Cock, Birds etc. Then ahriman the evil one attacked the world and caused evil to appear, disease and illness and old age, and the animals and the first man started to die. Night began to fall (before the sun was at the noon position - fixed, so there was no time). The evil brood of animals appeared eg. snakes, insects, and the cat breed. So evil in the ancient faith is an external introduction, which one day will be purged when the world will be bathed with the purification of fire - the latter also found in old German mythology. Paradise itself will be established on the earth, in the form of the Kingdom of Ahura Mazda. The English word "paradise" itself stems from the Avestan "PairiDaize", meaning the same. Also, the word "garden" probably stems from the Avestan "Garod-man" meaning the House of songs - the ancient name of heaven for the Aryans.
The Kings of ancient Iran were very proud to call themselves Aryans, their rock edicts indeed say so. "I am an Aryan, the son (Puthra) of an Aryan." This was righteous pride, because the word Aryan occurs time and again in the ancient scriptures of the Aryans - such as the Yashts (prayers to the divine elements) and the Vendidad (the law against evil).
About a time frame - today, many scholars tend to place Zarathushtra very late in time (around 1500 BC). The Greek historians at the time of Cyrus placed the first prophet at around 8000 years bc, that seems a more possible time to the former. However, the ancient Aryans were much sooner than that. Note that as per the Vendidad, Yima Kshaeta (King Yima) is the ancient king of the Aryans in the ancient homeland Airyanam Vaejahi (the seedland of the Aryans), and his memory is retained by even the Indian Vedas as Yama Raja (Yama King) because the Indian Aryans still remembered their ancient king after their split up in the migration, but they made him "Lord of the netherworld" later on.
Unlike the Indians, the Iranian Aryans still retained a perfect memory of days gone by -the perfect time in the ancient homeland, when Yiam banished disease, death and hunger from the homeland. This was indeed the true "Golden age" of humankind.
So, what about the time? The migration actually started before the ice age struck. When the ice and winter set in (sent by the evil one), the ancient homeland was destroyed. If the home was in the North Pole, look for a time when the North Pole was not covered by ice - that would be thousands and thousands of years before. I have estimated that time when the ice age struck as 20,000 years ago in my book, but the time could be much earlier. There were kings before Yima too, ruling over the Aryans.
Note too that the civilizations of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa in old India were actually Aryan, and they were starting to decay around 4000 bc. which means they had been in existance for thosands of years before (scholars admit this). They would have been built by the Indo-Aryans much after their initial separation from the Aryans of Iran.
An American friend said:
"Observation: There's an incredible thread here between something I've seen mentioned about a "Golden Age" of humankind..when humans were so close to their Creator they didn't need writing or speech or tools to sustain themselves..and the Zoroastrian story."
Thats right. Zarathushtra was sent by Ahura Mazda to reaffirm the ancient faith (that was taught to Yima Kshaeta and before him, the first man Gayo-Maretan). He was also given the "AGUSTO-VACHO" ie revelations unheard before. He was thus the first prophet, to be followed by three Saviours. When the final Saviour comes, the world will be purged by fire and evil destroyed in a final great battle. Then Ahura Mazda will rule. The mightiest words in the religion are in the Ahunavar, a great prayer. The ending words of this prayer in Avestan are, Kshrethamchai (Kingdom) Ahurai (God) Ayim (will come).
"Does the Vendidad have one set of general principles in one place, like the Old Testament Bible, or is it necessary to read the whole..."
The Vendidad is itself the ancient Law against evil. Throughout the book, there are Fargads (chapters) which explain the various evils in the eyes of Ahura Mazda. For instance, prostitution and homosexuality are abhorred, so is ill-treatment to dogs. Ahura Mazda praises the Dog as His Glorious Creation, who He created as the guardian of the Aryan household and farm. One Fargad details the ancient history of Yima Kshaeta, and the ancient homeland.
- Migration of the Aryans from the Ancient homeland -
As translated from the Vi-Daevo-Dat, ancient Avestan scripture
of the Aryans of Iran (Avestan is a sister to Vedic Sanskrit)
According to Lokmanya Tilak, one of the great fathers of Indian Independance and a Vedic scholar who had also made a detailed study of other Aryan cultures, the Vi-Daevo-Dat contained the most ancient history of mankind, since it properly explained the origins and the migrations of the Aryans.
In a translation from "The Saga of the Aryans", the history of the migration is explained in the form of a talk between the ancient Aryan prophet Zarathushtra, and Ahura Mazda (Avestan name of God in the Vi-Daevo-Dat.) :
Zarathushtra asked Ahura Mazda:
"O Ahura Mazda, righteous Creator of the corporeal world, who was the first person to whom You taught these teachings?
Then spoke Ahura Mazda:
"YIMA the splendid who watched over his subjects, O righteous Zarathushtra. I first did teach the Aryan religion to him, prior to you.
"Yima spoke to me, and said he would like to spread the religion among mankind by teaching others. It was then that I replied:
"O Yima you are not created for this task by Me. You are not learned enough to increase the religion among mankind - you are not the Messenger of the religion.
"Yima the righteous told me then:
"O Ahura, if I am not created for the task of increasing the good religion, then I would like to advance the world, to increase it and be a righteous king and protector. I ask You this, that in my kingdom there be neither cold wind nor hot wind (neither extreme winter or summer), there be no sickness nor death. That my subjects be undying and unwanting, and gloriously happy under my reign.
"I Who am Ahura Mazda, was pleased with this. I brought Yima a weapon - a Golden plough which was dagger shaped with golden forks, to signify that his authority was divine, sanctioned by Me. He became the mightiest King (KSHAETA) the Aryans had ever known, the most righteous and most splendid Aryan man.
"When Yima's rule extended to 300 years, then the Aryan land had prospered so much that the land became full of cattle, men, dogs, birds and red flaming fire (the fires kept burning in the house of every Aryan). Place could no longer be found for cattle or men.
"I made this known to Yima, and he proceeded towards the south, towards the path of the high sun (west), increasing the land with his golden plough (conquering and cultivating the lands). The boundaries of the Aryan kingdom were thus extended in breadth, one third greater than before. The king stood as an Aryan on the mother earth, praising the country with words fit for prayer.
"When Yima's rule extended to 600 years, the state of abundance reoccurred. This led to Yima proceeding again towards the south and the west, extending the boundaries of the Aryan kingdom two thirds greater than before. Thus happened the second great migration of the Aryans.
"When Yima's rule extended to 900 years, abundance again led to Yima increasing the land with his golden plough, towards the south and west. This third great migration made the Aryan kingdom three times larger than before.
"In the first 1000 years of his rule, Yima the splendid enjoined righteous order on his Aryan subjects. He controlled invisible time itself, making it so much large in size so as to praise and spread the righteous law.
"That glorious age of the Aryans did not last for ever, O Zarathushtra! It was time for the evil one's attack. I Who am Ahura Mazda spoke then to Yima Kshaeta:
"O splendid Yima, towards the sacred Aryan land will rush evil as a severe fatal winter; evil will rush as thick snow flakes falling in increased depth. From the three directions will wild and ferocious animals attack, arriving from the most dreadful sites.
"Before this winter, any snow that fell would melt and convey the water away. Now the snow will not melt (but will form the Polar ice cap). In this place, O Yima the corporeal world will be DAMAGED. Before in this seedland the grass was so soft the footprint of even a small animal could be observed. Now, there will be no footprints discernible at all on the packed sheets of hard ice that will form.
"So, Yima; make a mighty VARA, an enclosure as long as a riding ground, with equal four sides. Here bring the families of Aryan men and women, cattle, dogs, birds and the red flaming fire.
"Inside the Vara, make water flow in a canal, one Hathra long. Keep earth inside the Vara, to grow green vegetables as food. Make cattle pens, to house the cattle of the Aryan people.
"Let love blossom unfailing in the enclosure, among the young couples therein - make for them a residence, with rooms, pillars, long extended walls and an enclosing wall."