Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Ancient Persian influence on Hinduism

Ruby Lilaowala | Friday, August 17, 2007 10:28:58 IST

The Aryan settlers who lived in Persia and later, in India, had a lot in common by way of phonetics, language, spirituality and reverence for nature…

Hinduism pertains to Hindus but the word Hindu itself is actually a Persian word coined by Cyrus the great in the 6th century B.C. to describe people who lived beyond the river Indus which was the eastern boundary of the ancient Persian empire. The Persians had a phonetic problem with the letter ‘S’ hence, Sindhu became Hindu just as Rigveda’s Soma came from Zend Avesta’s Hoama. Such fascinating phonetic affinities!

Even the word Shudra in Hinduism’s caste-system came from the Persian word Hatoksha. Originally, there were only three castes but the camp followers collected by Persians on their travels were called Hatokshas. The Romans, who separated from the original Aryanstock at a much earlier date than the Brahmins called fire Athar. In old Sanskrit, lightning is called Atharvan. In ancient Persia Arthvan meant a priest and this word evolved to become Brahmin.

Persian herders of cattle were called Vastrayosh and after they settled down from their nomadic existence to become cultivators and later, traders, the word evolved into Hinduism’s Vaishya caste. In the Vedas, waters are called Apo-Devi and in the Avesta, Apo-Vanghuish. Also, the prominent deities of the Rig Veda like Surya, Varun and Aryaman have come from the Avesta.

In fact, originally, the Rig Veda was written in the Kharoshti script which like Persian is written backwards i.e. from right to left. The Brahmi script came much later and our Devnagri script even later than Brahmi. In Lemuria, Atlantis and Babylon, there was the Akhadian script, found on Babylonian tablets during excavations, from which the Pali script evolved. This is why, since ancient Persia was the melting-pot of civilisations, Sanskrit sounds like old Persian e.g. Veeg the seed became the Sanskritised Beej.

The Aryan settlers who lived in Persia and later, in India, had a lot in common by way of phonetics, language, spirituality and reverence for nature. The five elements of nature called Panchamahabhoot were worshipped, with fire and it’s apex in ancient India. This idea came from Persia and the oldest religion in the world viz. Zorastrianism which as and still is, the most eco-friendly religion in the world. It is a cardinal sin for a Parsi to defile any of nature’s elements which is why, a corpse, a filthy shell after it’s pranic energy has left it, is never to be burnt on fire. That would be a grave sin to the element of agni.

Rather, a Parsi feeds the fire within a fire-temple with sweet-smelling sandalwood and frankincense.

Persian warriors were called ratheshwars, and this word evolved into kshatriyas. Even wars were fought in a noble fashion through there’s nothing noble about a war to my way of thinking. In the ancient world, man lived with nature. He depended on nature for his food, shelter and livelihood. To him, the forces of nature and her five elements appeared to be pulsating with life. The sun, moon, stars, clouds, earth, springs, rivers, oceans, trees, grass, flowers were, he believed, presided over by invisible intelligences which is a cosmic fact. Geofrey Hodsun has proved this through his clairvoyant theosophical books.

In return for nature’s bounties and blessings, man gave homage which took the form of the various hymns and prayers in the Avesta as well as the Rig Veda. Hence, there are so many similarities and spiritual parallels between Ancient Persian theology and that of the pre-vedic and vedic times. The Persian Goddess of water was Ahurani, similar to the vedic Asurani. Feeding the sacred fire was common to the Persians as well as the pre-vedic society. So many similarities, so much in common, because, in the final analysis, it’s the same supreme energy we all worship!