BPP Chief Dinshaw Mehta in an Interview

Dinshaw Mehta, chairman, Bombay Parsi Punchayet, was a member of the group that stopped the ceremony held at the Zoroastrian College near Sanjan, Gujarat, on February 19 to make Mikhail Chistyakov, a 48-year old Russian, a Zoroastrian priest. Mehta said he opposes conversions because during its 1,300-year history in India, Parsi-Zoroastrians have never allowed the practice.

Interviewed by Manoj Nair / DNA

Why did you oppose the initiation ceremony of Chistyakov?

He (Chistyakov) came to India on a tourist visa and joined an institution. He had not just converted to Zoroastrianism, but was being trained as a priest. Conversions are not permitted in our religion.

A petition has been filed in the Bombay high court by Chistyakov and Master-Moos saying they should have the freedom to spread the Zoroastrian religion. What are your comments?

We are aware of the petition. She (Master-Moos) is saying that freedom of religion allows her to propagate and spread Zoroastrianism. Let us see what the court rules.

Some groups among the Parsis are saying that Parsi and Zoroastrian are different terms. Please comment.

Parsi and Zoroastrian is the same thing as far as India is concerned. For nearly 1,300 years that they have been in India, Parsis have never allowed conversions.

Are there not Zoroastrian groups in other countries who are not Parsis?

Iran is the only place where there are Zoroastrians. Parsis are the descendents of those Zoroastrians who left Iran for India. Parsi and Zoroastrian are synonyms. One cannot be a Zoroastrian in India unless he or she is a Parsi.

  • Siloo Kapadia

    Now we know what MMC (Mellah Moojah Clique) member Dinshaw Meta thinks. But what about what Mikhail Chistyakov thinks? That should have also been included in this article. Or else, a separate interview with him would be nice.

    There are two sides to every story, and this short article only gives us one version.

  • falijimmy@hotmail.com

    When Zarthushtra started his religion in Iran,at that time all these countries like Russia,Tajikistan,Uzbekistan,Kazakastan were in Iran.Then because of Communist rule in these countries for about 80 years,they were not allowed to follow any religion,but some were secretly following their original Zarthusti religion.Now few years back they got independence and wish to again revive their original Zarthusti religion,hence we are helping them.SO THIS IS NOT CONVERSION BUT RE-INITIATING THEM IN THEIR OWN ORIGINAL ZARTHUSTI RELIGION(by performing navjotes) WHICH THEY WERE ALREADY FOLLOWING BEFORE COMMUNIST RULE ABOUT 100 YEARS BACK.For more information on this kindly contact me on my e mail or phones 9820170794 or 23698207.Thanks, ERVAD KHUSHROO MADON.

  • farzana

    “Iran is the only place where there are Zoroastrians.”

    How dumb!!

  • Rémi

    Caution: post battle ahead!

    More seriously, I don’t feel very confortable with the style of this interview (maybe due to the translation if the interview was carried out in Gujarati, or my inadequate performance in English). But it’s interesting indeed.

    Mr Mehta gives a few elements that are in contradiction with the alleged fact that “Parsi and Zoroastrian are synonyms”.
    First of all, he states “Parsi and Zoroastrian is the same thing as far as India is concerned” and “One cannot be a Zoroastrian in India unless he or she is a Parsi”. His opinion for India is clear, but he leaves the door open for the rest of the world.

    Then, “Parsis are the descendents of those Zoroastrians who left Iran for India”. Such a definition is the perfect example of the foot-in-mouth syndrom. If Parsi = Zoroastrian, Mr Mehta could have stated “Iran is the only place where there are PARSIS. Some of them left Iran for India”. But he didn’t. He chose to say “there are ZOROASTRIANS in Iran”. And he reinforced this distinction between Parsi/Zoroastrian with his next sentence, which can be rendered as “within the larger Zoroastrian community, the label Parsi can only be put on they who are descended from Zoroastrians who left Iran for India”. If you assume that Parsi = Zoroastrian, you could turn the definition to “Parsis are the descendents of those Parsis who left Iran for India” or “Zoroastrians are the descendents of those Parsis who left Iran for India”, what makes no sense.

    From this point, I am convinced (and I think I will not be the only one) that Mr Mehta himself distinguishes Parsi from Zoroastrian. The theory of “Parsi = Zoroastrian” is a purely ideological standpoint, that even Mr Mehta’s mouth is unable to stick to.

    I find it important to clarify this ethnical / sociological distinction. But this should not be understood as an attempt to justify proselytizing, which always ends up in havoc (and as a Catholic, I know what I’m talking about).

  • nairika

    What makes Dinshaw Mehta an authority on Zoroastrianism? Why is Mumbai propping up these self-proclaimed messiahs/saviors? We are all hungry to save our cultural identity but this thug-like mentality is not one we should turn to for guidance. He is an embarassment to our community.

  • falijimmy@hotmail.com

    Utter rubbish!!! Dinshaw Mehta says that there are only Zoroastrians left in Iran?? He has not been to Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, etc. where there are hundreds of Zoroastrians who are the original descendents of ancient Zoroastrian stock. They have excavated and found Dokhmas, Fire Temples, instruments for Zoroastrian religious ceremonies like Afarganyu, aalats, etc.
    Dr. Meher Master Moos has evidence to prove all these with CD’s, photos, clippings, cuttings from papers, magazines, (her e-mail I.D. is: mmastermoos@yahoo.com and her tel. no. is 23644737).
    Even those who wish to go to places like Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, etc. can see for themselves with their own eyes and can meet hundreds of Zoroastrians there, personally.
    From: Fali.

  • Icchaporia.

    If Iran is the only place where there are Zoroastrians, the main question is why some person should go to Study Zoroasrian Religion to England and that too under a Professor who would not have been allowed entry in to Fire Temples or dakhma. Did not Parsses consider Navsari to be the Vatican of Zoroastrianism?
    Before I am showered with a volley of abuses, let me make it abundantly clear, I am opposed to entry of a non Zoroastran in places of worship and would not like to stand near our Holy Fires along with member of another Religious group I an equally offended when Parsee famales pull out Kashty from their purses and tioe them up behind Partitions of Fire Temples
    .It is another issue why there is discrimination in admotting off springs of Parsee father and non Parsee mother and the opposite is forbidden. That is for our Clergy to resolve.
    And BTW I wonder if remedy of Writ jurisdiction is available to a non Indian Citizen, i.e. to a Russian.

  • farzana

    This is a free education for Dhanshak Dinshaw Mehta and his kind of sample parsis who think Zoroastrianism was restricted to geographical location of present day Iran.

    (for all those who don’t know, Sahih Hadiths are historical notes made on minutes collected from authentic sources during the time of Prophet Mohammad in Arabia.

    Here is one such Shah Hadith in which Mohammad gives permission to Umar to collect Jazia Tax[Poll Tax] from Magis [ Zoroastrian Priests] from Hajar, in Arabia… A clear indication that Zoroastrianism was not just followed in Persian empire, and Iran which was just a part of it … But also in parts of Arabia which were under the autonomous administration of Mohammad of Islam)

    http://www.sunnipath.com/library/Hadith/H0002P0063.aspx

    2987. It is related that ‘Umar was heard to say, “I was sitting with Jabir ibn Zayd and ‘Amr ibn Aws, and Bajala had related to them at the steps of Zamzam in 70 A.H., the year in which Mus’ab ibn az-Zubayr went on hajj with the people of Basra. He said, ‘I was the scribe of Jaz’ ibn Mu’awiya, the uncle of al-Ahnaf. A letter reached us from ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab a year before he died: “Separate every marriage between forbidden degrees of the Magians.” ‘Umar did not take jizya from the Magians until ‘Abdu’r-Rahman ibn ‘Awf testified that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, had taken it from the Magians of Hajar.'”
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