‘Priestly’ battle continues to rage

The dispute in the Parsi-Zoroastrian community over the bar on two priests accused of ‘irreligious’ activities has moved to the Supreme Court, which will hear an appeal later this month against the Bombay high court order that criticised the bar.

By Manoj Nair | DNA

While a senior advocate from Mumbai will represent those who challenged the ban, a leading Delhi lawyer who is also a senior member in a political party has been reportedly engaged by those who support the bar.

The priests were barred from the Towers of Silence cemetery and two fire temples because they had conducted after-death prayers for community members who opted for non-traditional funerals and initiated children from mixed marriages, where the husband was not a Zoroastrian, into the religion.

The prominent Parsi-Zoroastrians who approached the high court against the ban argued that the community trust that barred the priests could not decide on religious issues — a contention supported by the court. But the trust said they were acting on instructions from the community’s high priests who favoured the ban. The six high priests — the highest ranking authorities in their religious hierarchy — have now made their views on the issue public.

In a statement written and signed by them recently, five of them — two from Mumbai and the others from Navsari, Surat and Udvada — have said that while they have the highest respect for the court, they had the historical and ecclesiastical right to guide the community in matters of religion. They said that their right to admonish, debar and expel priests, whose actions have caused a breakdown of the ancient religious practices, is at stake in the dispute.

They said that the writ of the community’s priests has never been challenged like this in the community’s millennium-long stay in the country. They said that the community and their premier trust were left ‘religiously vulnerable’ and helpless in protecting their religious institutions. This, they added, will have devastating consequences on the community.

“We can no more be secure in our belief that our way of life and our religious traditions and practices can be safeguarded,” they said. “We could be failing in our duty as high priests, if we turned a blind eye to such irreligious actions.”

The only high priest who has not signed the statement is known for his more liberal views on the subject.Even as the apex court has scheduled the hearings to the fourth week of April, debate continues in cyberspace. An online petition asking the BPP not to go to the Supreme Court has now attracted over 900 signatures, including the endorsement from a member of a leading industrial family. The petition has raced to the 13th position among those listed in the website.

  • Icchaporia.

    It is wrong to say that only high priest who has not signed the statement is known for his more liberal views on the subject.We have a Dasturji in U.S.A. Dastur Kersi. H. Antia who too is a High Priest.
    Manoj Nair should correct himself.

  • Piloo.

    Let them first ‘admonish, debar’ themselves to set a good example though penance is not prescribed in Zoroastrianism.
    AS IS SAID CAESAR’S WIFE SHOULD BE ABOVE SUSPICION THOUGH THE ISSUE HERE IS NOT SUSPICION BUT CONFIRMED IDENTICAL ACTS.

  • Rathestar.

    Piloo,
    Real you have spoken your mind. We require more like devoted you, who are not mealy mouthed do not hesitate to call spade a spade.
    Regards,

  • Rathestar.

    WhWhat about the documentary evidences of opinions of Dastur. Sanjana, and Dastur Jamaspi JamasPasa. These are documented at a time when the Society was more conservative then now. So is it incorrect to say that some coteries wants us to revert to dark ages.

  • Rathestar.

    These so called High Priests talk of ‘irreligious actions’ what about their own actions of Navjote of an eighty year old industrialist?
    As for their claim that they have ‘historical and ecclesiastical right to guide the community in matters of religion, let them show where it is documented since we hear repeatedly about adherence to clauses of Trust Deeds. More importantly, what are the qualifications to be called High Priests – is it heredity? research? Who decides as to who is qualified to be crowned as HIGH.

  • Rathestar.

    These so called High Priests talk of ‘irreligious actions’ what about their own actions of Navjote of an eighty year old industrialist?
    As for their claim that they have ‘historical and ecclesiastical right to guide the community in matters of religion, let them show where it is documented since we hear repeatedly about adherence to clauses of Trust Deeds. More importantly, what are the qualifications to be called High Priests – is it heredity? research? Who decides as to who is qualified to be crowned as HIGH.

  • Behroze.

    HOW WILL THESE HIGH PRIESTS “SAFEGUARD” THEIR OWN IMAGE HAVING PERFORMED WADIA NAVJOTES, JRD’S UTHAMNA AND NOW JUSTIFYING B.P.P.”S ACTION OF FATWA AGAINST MIRZA & MADON WHO ARE “GUILTY” OF IDENTICAL ACTIONS?

  • Behroze.

    HOW WILL THESE HIGH PRIESTS “SAFEGUARD” THEIR OWN IMAGE HAVING PERFORMED WADIA NAVJOTES, JRD’S UTHAMNA AND NOW JUSTIFYING B.P.P.”S ACTION OF FATWA AGAINST MIRZA & MADON WHO ARE “GUILTY” OF IDENTICAL ACTIONS?

  • Behroze.

    Were performance of Wadia Navjotes and JRD’S Uthamna NOT IRRELIGIOUS ACTIONS AND DID THEY NOT FAIL THEN IN THEIR DUTIES AS “H I G H ” Priests. If they perform same ceremonies then it is to be deemed religious and in conformity with ‘religious traditions and practices’ and if others do the same it becomes ‘ irreligious actions’. DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS.

  • Behroze.

    Were performance of Wadia Navjotes and JRD’S Uthamna NOT IRRELIGIOUS ACTIONS AND DID THEY NOT FAIL THEN IN THEIR DUTIES AS “H I G H ” Priests. If they perform same ceremonies then it is to be deemed religious and in conformity with ‘religious traditions and practices’ and if others do the same it becomes ‘ irreligious actions’. DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS.

  • Farsak Ashli.

    Though there are no prizes for guesses, one thing that is conspicuous is the absence on this topic of otherwise omnipresent Phiroze on Parsi Khabar so fond of reading his name. Clearly he has no answers for double dealing HIGH Priests.

  • Farsak Ashli.

    Though there are no prizes for guesses, one thing that is conspicuous is the absence on this topic of otherwise omnipresent Phiroze on Parsi Khabar so fond of reading his name. Clearly he has no answers for double dealing HIGH Priests.

  • Farsak Ashli.

    Surprising that not even one dhongee is able to counter the many adverse comments against some priests. These dhongees know fully well that if they attempt to cover up, more disgraceful facts will be exposed.

  • Farsak Ashli.

    Surprising that not even one dhongee is able to counter the many adverse comments against some priests. These dhongees know fully well that if they attempt to cover up, more disgraceful facts will be exposed.

  • Farsak Ashli.

    Surprising that not even one dhongee is able to counter the many adverse comments against some priests. These dhongees know fully well that if they attempt to cover up, more disgraceful facts will be exposed.

  • Rathestar.

    Reproduced herebelow is a few paragraphs from a true Orthodox Priest which I came accross while reading FRASHOGARD and for benefit of readers here I quote the same herebelow:
    Unfortunately, we have committed spiritual suicide by systematically destroying some of these elements ourselves. The way the Sachkar is done today by the Nasseh-salaars leaves much to be desired. The Geh Sarna does get done reasonably well even today. But what about the Talesam of the Dakhma? We have ruined it! People other than Nasseh-salaars enter the Dakhma as if it were a tourist spot! Rascals have entered to photograph the insides of the Dakhma and cause immense pain and anguish to our community. Even the Nasseh-salaars themselves do not follow the rules of purity which they are supposed to. When was the last time any one of them took the Nahn which they should after every Paidust?
    We have destroyed the spiritual work of Khurshed and Meher Yazatas by putting mirrors on the Dakhma! Those wise ones who installed this totally un-Zoroastrian system do not realise that the mirrors focus the parallel rays of sunlight into one concentrated beam which hits the body at one spot and results in the body getting charred or burnt! Are these Dakhmas or solar crematoriums? How can the Anasers be separated and handed over to Daham Yazad when we invert the work of the parallel rays of the sun! If this were not enough other foolish experiments like passing ozone gas and spraying some chemical/herbal powder to get rid of the stench of accumulated bodies have been tried out. Where is the sanctity of the Dakhma and its Talesam in all this? The Dakhma is a sanctified and consecrated place! That is why we have the prayer called Namaz-e-Dakhma!
    For the last nearly three years, we have been asking the Trustees of the BPP to open the huge Banaji Dakhma, which is on the right hand side as soon as we begin ascending the climb which leads us to the Sagdi. This Dakhma has been lying unused for many years since a new skyscraper came up which provided its residents with a partial view of the inside. A plan was submitted to the Trustees to construct an iron screen such that the Dakhma insides could not be seen. An alternative was proposed to raise a bund of earth and plant fast-growing trees which would block the view, without blocking the sunlight from falling in. After his election as Trustee, Mr. Khojeste Mistree took a few of us traditional people for a stroll on the grounds of Dungerwadi and showed us the various works in progress. At that time, Mr. Mistree had indicated that the Dakhma would be opened “soon”. It is now nearly three years and we are still waiting for a clean Dakhma on the Doongerwadi premises for use without any gadgets or gimmicks.

  • Rathestar.

    Reproduced herebelow is a few paragraphs from a true Orthodox Priest which I came accross while reading FRASHOGARD and for benefit of readers here I quote the same herebelow:
    Unfortunately, we have committed spiritual suicide by systematically destroying some of these elements ourselves. The way the Sachkar is done today by the Nasseh-salaars leaves much to be desired. The Geh Sarna does get done reasonably well even today. But what about the Talesam of the Dakhma? We have ruined it! People other than Nasseh-salaars enter the Dakhma as if it were a tourist spot! Rascals have entered to photograph the insides of the Dakhma and cause immense pain and anguish to our community. Even the Nasseh-salaars themselves do not follow the rules of purity which they are supposed to. When was the last time any one of them took the Nahn which they should after every Paidust?
    We have destroyed the spiritual work of Khurshed and Meher Yazatas by putting mirrors on the Dakhma! Those wise ones who installed this totally un-Zoroastrian system do not realise that the mirrors focus the parallel rays of sunlight into one concentrated beam which hits the body at one spot and results in the body getting charred or burnt! Are these Dakhmas or solar crematoriums? How can the Anasers be separated and handed over to Daham Yazad when we invert the work of the parallel rays of the sun! If this were not enough other foolish experiments like passing ozone gas and spraying some chemical/herbal powder to get rid of the stench of accumulated bodies have been tried out. Where is the sanctity of the Dakhma and its Talesam in all this? The Dakhma is a sanctified and consecrated place! That is why we have the prayer called Namaz-e-Dakhma!
    For the last nearly three years, we have been asking the Trustees of the BPP to open the huge Banaji Dakhma, which is on the right hand side as soon as we begin ascending the climb which leads us to the Sagdi. This Dakhma has been lying unused for many years since a new skyscraper came up which provided its residents with a partial view of the inside. A plan was submitted to the Trustees to construct an iron screen such that the Dakhma insides could not be seen. An alternative was proposed to raise a bund of earth and plant fast-growing trees which would block the view, without blocking the sunlight from falling in. After his election as Trustee, Mr. Khojeste Mistree took a few of us traditional people for a stroll on the grounds of Dungerwadi and showed us the various works in progress. At that time, Mr. Mistree had indicated that the Dakhma would be opened “soon”. It is now nearly three years and we are still waiting for a clean Dakhma on the Doongerwadi premises for use without any gadgets or gimmicks.

  • Rathestar.

    Reproduced herebelow is a few paragraphs from a true Orthodox Priest which I came accross while reading FRASHOGARD and for benefit of readers here I quote the same herebelow:
    Unfortunately, we have committed spiritual suicide by systematically destroying some of these elements ourselves. The way the Sachkar is done today by the Nasseh-salaars leaves much to be desired. The Geh Sarna does get done reasonably well even today. But what about the Talesam of the Dakhma? We have ruined it! People other than Nasseh-salaars enter the Dakhma as if it were a tourist spot! Rascals have entered to photograph the insides of the Dakhma and cause immense pain and anguish to our community. Even the Nasseh-salaars themselves do not follow the rules of purity which they are supposed to. When was the last time any one of them took the Nahn which they should after every Paidust?
    We have destroyed the spiritual work of Khurshed and Meher Yazatas by putting mirrors on the Dakhma! Those wise ones who installed this totally un-Zoroastrian system do not realise that the mirrors focus the parallel rays of sunlight into one concentrated beam which hits the body at one spot and results in the body getting charred or burnt! Are these Dakhmas or solar crematoriums? How can the Anasers be separated and handed over to Daham Yazad when we invert the work of the parallel rays of the sun! If this were not enough other foolish experiments like passing ozone gas and spraying some chemical/herbal powder to get rid of the stench of accumulated bodies have been tried out. Where is the sanctity of the Dakhma and its Talesam in all this? The Dakhma is a sanctified and consecrated place! That is why we have the prayer called Namaz-e-Dakhma!
    For the last nearly three years, we have been asking the Trustees of the BPP to open the huge Banaji Dakhma, which is on the right hand side as soon as we begin ascending the climb which leads us to the Sagdi. This Dakhma has been lying unused for many years since a new skyscraper came up which provided its residents with a partial view of the inside. A plan was submitted to the Trustees to construct an iron screen such that the Dakhma insides could not be seen. An alternative was proposed to raise a bund of earth and plant fast-growing trees which would block the view, without blocking the sunlight from falling in. After his election as Trustee, Mr. Khojeste Mistree took a few of us traditional people for a stroll on the grounds of Dungerwadi and showed us the various works in progress. At that time, Mr. Mistree had indicated that the Dakhma would be opened “soon”. It is now nearly three years and we are still waiting for a clean Dakhma on the Doongerwadi premises for use without any gadgets or gimmicks.

  • Contradhongi

    From what has been stated in Frashogard issue as above it is evident that the  author a  priest himself describes the irreeligious conditions in the dakhmas, the partial burning of corpses,the use of Ozone gas and so calledc herbal powder a euphimism for Acid.  The authot has condidly stated that not only the conditions in the pits not consistent with religious requirements but the conditions therein are UNCLEAN.
    Yet ironically, there is no consistency in statements of  self titled High Priests, who still want the naive to believe that the current conditions are normal and in consonance with religious tenets. WHO IS LYING ?

  • Contradhongi

    From what has been stated in Frashogard issue as above it is evident that the  author a  priest himself describes the irreeligious conditions in the dakhmas, the partial burning of corpses,the use of Ozone gas and so calledc herbal powder a euphimism for Acid.  The authot has condidly stated that not only the conditions in the pits not consistent with religious requirements but the conditions therein are UNCLEAN.
    Yet ironically, there is no consistency in statements of  self titled High Priests, who still want the naive to believe that the current conditions are normal and in consonance with religious tenets. WHO IS LYING ?

  • Rashna.

    Can any one foresee the questions in Cross Examination being put to these High Priests if they file their say in the Matter. Their own past acts of omission and commission will haunt them and added to this is the issue that has come up of a part of the corpse (palm) scattered in compound of Godrej Baug Fire Temple. One priest by name Ramiyar Karanjia says that dakhma system is time tested. Yes Sir, even grandfather clocks were time tested and so were bullock carts, horse carriages. All of such things have been replaced by more efficient equipments. What was proven time tested decades back is no longer effective and merely prefixing one’s qualification of PhD – Doctorate does not lend credibility to what is perceived to be an ineffective ‘system’. To attach a custom with religious doctrine is nothing short of hoodwinking the gullible and assuming all Parsees to be gullible.
    These magnificent seven have been in saddle for over three years and have not attempted to sort this ‘burning’ problem. What have these High Priests done? Nothing. Why ? Because they only know how to place their long signature on dotted lines.

  • Rashna.

    Can any one foresee the questions in Cross Examination being put to these High Priests if they file their say in the Matter. Their own past acts of omission and commission will haunt them and added to this is the issue that has come up of a part of the corpse (palm) scattered in compound of Godrej Baug Fire Temple. One priest by name Ramiyar Karanjia says that dakhma system is time tested. Yes Sir, even grandfather clocks were time tested and so were bullock carts, horse carriages. All of such things have been replaced by more efficient equipments. What was proven time tested decades back is no longer effective and merely prefixing one’s qualification of PhD – Doctorate does not lend credibility to what is perceived to be an ineffective ‘system’. To attach a custom with religious doctrine is nothing short of hoodwinking the gullible and assuming all Parsees to be gullible.
    These magnificent seven have been in saddle for over three years and have not attempted to sort this ‘burning’ problem. What have these High Priests done? Nothing. Why ? Because they only know how to place their long signature on dotted lines.

  • Byram

    Often it is lamented that Parsees are chronic litigants.The answer to this lies in the indifference of those who claim to be the elders and leaders in the communuty and their tendency to shun taking and tackling the issues by the horns.Though litigation is slow and costly, the experience of Mediation as a way out has been disastorous.This  leads us to the conclusion that litigation is the only remedy against the die hard obstinate. Such problems can not melt by themselves and one must have corage and honesty of purose, a trait of a true Zoroastrian to admit that the erstwhile time tested system can no longer be relied upon. But the million dollar question is: can men of straw have the honesty to confess this in faced of mounting evidence. Their own inaction has earned them reputation of being  called men of straw.

  • Byram

    Often it is lamented that Parsees are chronic litigants.The answer to this lies in the indifference of those who claim to be the elders and leaders in the communuty and their tendency to shun taking and tackling the issues by the horns.Though litigation is slow and costly, the experience of Mediation as a way out has been disastorous.This  leads us to the conclusion that litigation is the only remedy against the die hard obstinate. Such problems can not melt by themselves and one must have corage and honesty of purose, a trait of a true Zoroastrian to admit that the erstwhile time tested system can no longer be relied upon. But the million dollar question is: can men of straw have the honesty to confess this in faced of mounting evidence. Their own inaction has earned them reputation of being  called men of straw.

  • Contradhongee

    Dhongees maintain that dakhma system is time tested. These two words are much maligned. Dhongees know how to economise on truth. One upon a time bullock cart  was time tested.Why do these dhongees not move in bullock carts? Why do they require latest Cars to move about?
    Is the system of Dakhma time tested or testing the time in order for mortal remains to perish?

  • Contradhongee

    Dhongees maintain that dakhma system is time tested. These two words are much maligned. Dhongees know how to economise on truth. One upon a time bullock cart  was time tested.Why do these dhongees not move in bullock carts? Why do they require latest Cars to move about?
    Is the system of Dakhma time tested or testing the time in order for mortal remains to perish?