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What’s the Meaning of This Strange Tattoo?

The Faravahar, the symbol of the Zoroastrian religion

I was recently asked about a strange tattoo that consisted of the words “KORU, GATHA, AVESTA, and ZOROASTER.” Is this tattoo something to be concerned about?

In a word – yes!

These words are derived from an ancient Iranian religion known as Zoroastrianism. It predates Judaism and takes its name from the prophet Zoroaster who is said to have received a revelation at the age of 30 while fetching water for a sacred ritual. In the revelation, he was led into the presence of Ahura Mazda, a supreme being whose name means “Wise Lord.” There he was taught the cardinal principles of the “Good Religion” which was later known as Zoroastrianism.

Zoroaster believed he was entrusted with the mission of spreading this message.

Although Zoroastrianism was one of the first known monotheistic religions. Monotheistic religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, believe in one God who created the universe and who intervenes in the lives of mankind.

However, Ahura Mazda, the god of the Zoroastrians is not the God of the Bible. He was not an omnipotent God like ours but one who relied on humans in the struggle against an evil entity known as Angra Mainyu whose daevas (destroyers) tried to tempt people away from the path of righteousness.

As for the words in the tattoo, GATHA refers to 17 hymns believed to have been composed by Zoroaster. These hymns form the core of the Zoroastrian liturgy (known as the Yasna). Some of these verses are directly addressed to Ahura Mazda.

AVESTA refers to the central scripture of Zoroastrianism, which contains the gathas.

The word Zoroaster requires no further elaboration.

As for the word KORU, the only information I could find about this word was found on a website that referred to a “Koru Bridge and the oneness of all spiritual paths” where all faiths, including Zoroastrianism, come together.

It is safe to assume that whoever was sporting this tattoo was either a follower or at least an admirer of Zoroastrianism.

As Jan Wakelin of Catholic Answers explains, Zoroastrianism is not compatible with Christianity.

“This is a dualist philosophy, a form of gnosticism, believing in two contrary forces in the universe, an evil god and a good god. This corresponds to material vs. spiritual warfare. This is an heretical belief system.”

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