“ When in Iran” the mere title of the series was so mystical and enigmatic as to entice my attention right away. Being a student of a completely different educational background and having only a minimal knowledge of the cultural and religious history of the middle eastern countries I was uncertain of how much I would understand from this lecture series. Needless to say, Sadegh Sir was able to captivate and hold my attention for most part of it.
The three major aspects being explored through the series were mythology, religions and Sufism. Even though Iran is identified as an individual country, while studying its culture we are to observe it from a wider viewpoint, roughly ranging from Northwest India to the whole of the Middle east; this is something I realised during the lectures.
He explained the commonalities as well as the differences between Iran and Indian mythologies. The close connection the two share is astonishing. It’s the precise portrayal of the phrase “ two sides of a coin”; they are the two counter parts of the same origin. For example. Zurvan’s (the god of time) two sons – were Ahura ( considered as a great god) and Div or Arhiman ( seen as a demon figure). Now interestingly, Ahura is similar to Asur who is seen as a demon figure in the Indian mythology while Div sounds similar to Dev, meaning god. Simply astounding.
Preceding to the lecture my knowledge of Iranian history was quite narrow. I knew that Iran, currently an Islamic country, dates back to being the birthplace of zoroastrianism. Although, I am now exposed to so much more. Elamites in 2700 BC, Mithraism, Zoroastrianism, Manavi, Mazdaki. I was completely oblivious to this long religious history and evolution.
Ultimately similarities can be observed between the mythologies of all religions; suggesting the presence of some exchange of ideas through the migration of people.
Enthusiastic, patient and resourceful – these are the three words I would use to describe Mr.. Sadegh Baghfalaki, our lecturer. There were a few times when confusion arose and I felt lost. Regardless, I left the lecture with an increased intrest in the topic.