Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Zoroastrianism: Its Stewardship for all Creation, the Animate and the Inanimate.

Below is the text of presentation by Pervin J. Mistry at the Parliament of Worlds Religions, Melbourne, December 5th, 2009. This was circulated by the author via email to a newsgroup. All copyrights are with the author.

 

We are the oldest monotheistic religion.

Asho Zarathushtra is our Holy Prophet.

Our Revealed Book is the Holy “Avesta”.

The Holy Avesta reveals the concept of a Universal Brotherhood known as “Arda-Fravash”. “Fravashi” is the spark of the Divine without which nothing exists in the spiritual or the corporeal worlds. It follows that the Brotherhood of Arda-Fravash includes all the kingdoms of nature which also include those considered to be inanimate or lifeless.

We are taught that the universe is a living organism providing environment for countless hosts of entities even though the types of physical bodies and the level of consciousness may differ. Whatever exists in the universe, from atoms to the stars, has its origin in the One Almighty Creator, Ahura Mazda.

A picture is worth more than a thousand words; so, let us see how the animate and the inanimate creations are inseparably interconnected.

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I) As taught in the litany to the Fravashis (Farvardin Yasht), figure 1 shows that in the very beginning, there was no light, no movement _ all was still and dark, that is, the universe was in a state of “afratat-kushish”. (Farvardin Yasht states: “the waters did not flow; the trees did not grow; the heavens did not revolve”, karda 14. 53, 15. 55, and 16.57). The circle represents boundless time or infinity, “zurvan-e akarne”, (meaning time without beginning and without an end, which cannot be understood by our limited intellect.)

II) The dot in the centre as shown in figure 2 represents Ahura Mazda’s First Thought (Light) which produced the “Bang”, or Sound / Resonance of the Divine Word “Ahunavar”, resulting in the manifestation of the universe.

First comes the thought or the “blue print” of the word and then only the word is uttered. (The Holy Gathas reveal, yasna 31.7, that it was the First Thought (Divine Light) of Ahura Mazda, “yashta manta pouruyo”, conceived in His Vahishtem Mano, which conceptualized the Divine Universe. The physical universe “gaethya” (nisti and geti) is the outcome of the thought-created spiritual universe “mainyava” (hasti). First, the Divine Thought, then the Divine WORD followed by the manifestation of the “mainvaya” and “gaethya” worlds.)

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III) As shown in figure 3, the Avestan Commentary on the Word “Ahunavar” (Yasna 19), reveals that Ahura Mazda’s plan for the creation of the universe discloses 3 integrated stages: the creation of the spiritual (hasti), the meta-physical (nisti) and the physical (geti) worlds.

IV) Additionally, as shown in figure 4, the Divine Plan simultaneously discloses a 3-fold strategy whereby: 1) the souls first separate from Ahura Mazda and descend to the meta-physical world; 2) consequently, the souls begin their long pilgrimage through the various kingdoms of nature from the meta-physical world to the physical world and 3) thirdly, after perfecting their spiritual qualities, the souls re-unite with Ahura Mazda once again in the spiritual world at the Divinely Appointed Hour called “Frashogard”, or Renovation. (Here, we discussed the number 3, the relevant 3 claps in the Vanant Yasht, etc. The 3 claps stand for: 1) We were with Ahura Mazda first; 2) we separated from him and began our long pilgrimage and 3) we will go back to him when we have performed “kimiyu” or transmutation of the druj to “guv” (ashoi) within us. We also discussed, briefly, how the water is collected from a well in 3 stages and poured into a vessel during the Paragna rites before Ijeshne proper and finally, once the ritual is complete, the consecrated water is poured back into the well. The water collected 3 times refers to the creation of the universe in 3 stages and pouring back refers to the time when Farshogard will be achieved and the universe will go back to Ahura Mazda after the druj or angre-mainyu is transformed to spenta-mainyu.)

V) Figure 5 indicates that in order to establish law and order within these 3 worlds, Ahura Mazda creates and appoints 6 other Ameshaspands or Archangels in charge of one of the seven specific creations. These creations are: fire, water, earth, minerals, vegetation, animals and mankind. The names of the Ameshaspands are written in blue, under each specific creation. (Please note the order. E.g. Fire, or Ardibehesht and Minerals or Shehrevar are directly opposite each other; Earth or Aspandad and Animals or Baman are also directly opposite each other; as are Water or Khordad and Vegetation or Amardad. In the middle is Mankind in charge of Ahura Mazda. It is significant that Khordad, i.e. Water and Amardad, i.e. Vegetation make a pair; Fire and Minerals also make a pair because minerals are purified and shaped in the Fire; and the Earth and Animals also form a pair. Animals are gentle, docile and self-sacrificing…. We pray, “Armaity tevishim dasva…”, Spenta Armaity or Amardad, the Earth, is also gentle, obedient, devoted to Ahura Mazda and bears our load, physically and spiritually, etc……)

VI) Figure 6 verifies that Ahura Mazda Himself, at the centre, is the creator and head of all the 7 creations which are inter-connected and unified, proving the Oneness of Life!

(The animate as well as the “inanimate” creations are created by Him and will go back to Him, proving the Oneness of Life. The different creations are interdependent and cannot exist without each other. Vegetation cannot exist without the elements of earth, water, air, sunlight or the energy of Fire within the Sun, minerals in the soil nourish the vegetation; animals and mankind survive because of vegetation and mankind also looks after the vegetation kingdom.)

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As demonstrated, it is the unity of all souls which sustains Life. By destroying a single creation, we damage the Wheel of Life! Nature is holistic and cannot survive or be destroyed in parts. The Holy Avesta refers to nature as “Asha”, meaning nature is sacred and divine. The so-called inanimate creations such as fire, water, air, earth are the very building blocks of the sacred universe whose offspring mankind is! These creations exist within us, sustaining “life”! As a result, if a single one of Nature’s creations is damaged, all other creations are similarly affected and we jeopardize our own existence.

The Holy Avesta teaches that fire, water, air and earth are not lifeless or inanimate creations. Every atom, every mountain, river and tree enshrines within itself, a Living, Conscious Divinity. For example, water is worshipped as Avan Yazad, a Divine Being and not as a lifeless creation. Life cannot sustain without water. (We discussed the emergence of mashyo-mashyai, the first humans who grew as twins in the shape of a plant, from water; the first amphibians and also the foetus which grows in the amniotic fluid.) Our un-conservative life style causes the glaciers and the Polar ice caps to melt _ influencing the salinity of the oceans. This in turn endangers our survival by adversely harming the precise balance of the whole ecosystem.

(We discussed the following at this point: When we discussed the salinity of the oceans we discussed Ustad Saheb Behramshah Shroff’s prophecy that towards the end of this epoch, zarvan-e daregho khadate, the waters of the sea will become “sweet”! The scientists are concerned that the salt water of the seas is actually becoming “sweet”, i.e. loosing its salinity because the glaciers carry fresh water which is dumped into the oceans lowering the salt content. With the result, whales get beached because the ocean currents have shifted, the wind currents have also shifted because birds do not migrate south during winters and the melting of the glaciers and lowering of salinity affects our global warming and weather changes.)

(We also discussed what we mean by “water”. We refer not only to a body of water such as sea, river, lake, etc. but also to the sap in the plants, all liquids in humans, the waters of space, etc.

(We discussed: Avan Yazad, “manaso, jevo-ni sarjaat sachchai-e poogvani che, tevo-ni mani “seed” ne oonch tokham-ni banave”! Meaning, the undefiled waters of Avan Yazad purify the semen, “seed” of men, so that it attains to a high degree of purity and righteousness; Avan Yazad purifies the womb of women, produces milk for the new-born infants etc.

(Why we pray 10 Yatha in the Avan Niyayesh. It is because the number 10 stands for Perfection 1 + 0, creation ends when it reaches the highest number 9 which then goes back to 1 ending in 0.

(“Ardvi” means one who leads [to spiritual perfection] and “Sura” means yielding arms. The arms or weapons that Ardvisura uses are the 5 “frado” or electro-magnetic forces within water. In the Avan Niyayesh, these are identified as “adhu”, “vanthvo”, “gaetho”, “kshayeto”, and “danghu” frado(s). Because druj or Ahriman is an incorporeal force, it cannot be destroyed by any physical means or physical weapons. As an energy it can only be converted to good by spiritual weapons and that is why Avan Yazad equips herself with these spiritually charged electro-magnetic forces to subdue and transform druj. We also talked about how Avan Ardvisura is within us as she is outside of us, when I wrote in the original paper:

The so-called inanimate creations such as fire, water, air, earth are the very building blocks of the sacred universe whose offspring mankind is! These creations exist within us, sustaining “life”!

(It was pointed out that esoterically, the entire Circulatory System which includes the Spinal Cord, the Sympathetic Nervous System flowing through the endocrine glands, refers to Avan Yazad. Just as Avan Yazad has her origin in the spiritual world, the Circulatory System too begins from the brain, considered to be “heaven” or the spiritual part in mankind.

(Avan Yazad starts from Mount Hukairya, situated in the highest heaven [mountain or “chakra” refer to the spiritual centres of energy located in the brain]. It is revealed that from Mount Hukairya, the sacred waters of Avan flow into the Sea of Vourukash. Here, Ardvisura divides into a thousand streams and again sub-divides into still a thousand smaller steamlets. To cross just one streamlet, it takes a swift horseback rider 40 days. [1000×40=40000 days; plus to cross the 1000 main streams, each taking 40 days would mean 40,000 additional days. In all, 80,000 days esoterically indicate one whole “zarvan-e daregho khadate” of 81,000 years!] 40 days also indicate the time it takes for Avan Yazad to purify anything contaminated by “druj”, such as the semen of men and the womb of mothers after childbirth. There is also an injunction that Avan must be worshipped between sun rise and sun set only. Additionally, Avan Yazad flows to all the 7 regions of the Earth, in the same consistency, in summer as well as in winter. The flowing waters are always pure and they purify everything they come in contact with, indicating the spiritual work Ardvisura performs in ushering/hastening farshogard.

(There is a very important cautionary note to the worshippers in the Ha of “Aa Hatamcha”, karda 6, 7 and 8, Avan Niyayesh. The unrighteous, those not learned in religious lore such as the ones who offer her libations after sunset and before sunrise, those who do not recite the manthra properly intoned and with piety, do not speak the truth, mislead other in religious matters, who do not obey the commands of the religion, who torment a priest, who bring diseases, who bury dead bodies are not blessed by the beneficent swift flowing waters of Avan Ardvisura. Those who recite the sacred manthra but do not follow the laws of the Religion are also warned and punished. If the wicked ones mentioned above offer Avan Yazad any libations or worship her, she does not accept their offerings/worship. This admonition is similar to Fargard 3.40 in the Vendidad wherein it is stated that those who sin knowingly, for them, there is no forgiveness. Those who are kiks, karaps i.e. those who choose to remain spiritually blind and deaf; who are ashomogs, i.e. those who distort truth and teach falsehood, are destroyed by Avan Ardvisura! There are 4 kinds of devs mentioned in the Sacred Avesta.

(Certainly, Avan Yazad grants spiritual gifts and blessings only to those who worship her with piety, purity of body, mind and soul, and with proper Manthra accompanied by the performance of Yasna! Avan Yasht, Karda 21.92, .93, .94, .95 state that there are certain rules for worshipping and offering libations to Avan Yazad and only the pious, the righteous, those learned in religious lore, those learned in the recitation of proper manthra may offer her libations! Avan Yazad is pleased with those who consecrate her waters with the manthra of Yatha and Ashem chanted properly and with Staot Yasna, i.e. kriyakam (perform Ijeshne). Avan Yazad grants such devotees many “self-supporting children” who are pious and dedicated to the Religion.

(The fact that Avan Yazad’s waters come down from the spiritual world to the physical world, having origin in the Highest Abode of the Stars and are existing in every sea, river, rivulet and outlet in this world, signifies that Avan Yazad is present in every atom of the Universe because as the Daughter of Ahura Mazda, like Fire, and Vayu (Mino Ram), She is Present in every atom, in every “seed” which is created. Her main work is to purify all the “seeds” so that the Divine Event of Farshogard is attained at the appointed hour. She progresses the physical creations towards spiritual perfection and purity.)

In the Holy Avesta, even the “air” is not inanimate. “Air” is a divinity worshipped as Mino Ram. Without Ram Yazad, the resonance of the Divine Word could not have resulted in the manifestation of the universe! (“Air” also has electro-magnetic forces which carry the “staot” or vibrations of the divine ‘sound’ and spread it throughout the universe. Without air, there would be no sound and consequently no inherent vibes could spread to give form and colour to physical creation!) Ram Yazad is the purifier of all things between the earth and the sky and is victorious over all the evil forces, meaning pollution. Polluted air means polluted lungs.

(1: Air is also within us and outside of us! It destroys pollution, meaning mental, moral, physical and spiritual pollution so that Farshogard is attained at the Appointed, Pre-destined Time.

(2: When we pray to Mino Ram, we reverently address Ram Yazad as “Ram-no khastre”, the electro-magnetic forces working in Nature which destroy druj and help heal body, mind and soul. Mino Ram is the vanquisher of disorder and separation. He restores or makes whatever is disunited or broken into one whole unit, again. This refers to friendships, and quarrels between mankind. Mino Ram smooths relationships by getting rid of the demon of quarrel and through the spiritual weapon of electro-magnetic forces/attraction, restores unity.

(3: Mino Ram purifies the poisonous, polluted, smoky air which exists in the darkest and deepest depths of the earth known as the disease causing, stinking “vayu saritar”. Health-giving and sweet smelling Vayu veh is the opposite of vayu saitar.

(4: Mino Ram is a hamkar, a co-worker of Baman Ameshaspand, together with Mohor and Gosh Yazads.)

Trees and forests are the lungs of the Earth. (Without “dum”/breath, life cannot sustain itself and without Life and living, we cannot attain to Spiritual Perfection and fulfil the Divine Event of Farshogard!) As a result, no prayers end without paying homage to the trees, “urvaire” (Nemo urvaire vanguhi mazdadhate, ashaone Ashem Vohu 1). The plant “Hom” is the Tree of Life and Immortality. “Hom” is also a Yazad, a Divine Being. Destruction of plants / forests also means destruction of the fragile ecosystem on which our survival depends. If a single spoke in the Wheel of Life is damaged, one by one, other unified creations also get equally destroyed.

(Sacred Hom’s origin is also spiritual. It grows on mountain tops from where it spreads. In the Hom Yasht, mountains, earth and the Gathas are remembered. Hom is worshipped and consecrated by chanting the Gathas i.e. through the performance of Ijeshne. The devotee offers his own body to Hom Yazad and recites in karda 14 that may he always practice righteous thoughts, words and deeds; keep good company and obey the religious commands! Hom being a sacred plant is identified as healing the body, mind and soul. It is only through plants that Amardad Ameshaspand gives immortality, “amardad-ni amargi”! That plants are healing is also taught in the Ardibehesht Yasht when we pray, “urvaro-baeshazo”. We also discussed that the Hom stick is knotty and gangliated just like our spinal column. Plants also mean the Tree of Life as well as the Tree of Knowledge which are within us. Some occultists maintain that the Pulmonary system is the Tree of Life which begins in the heart and the Sympathetic nervous system with its roots in the brain is the Tree of Knowledge.)

To us, minerals are also sacred and in the charge of Shehrevar Ameshaspand. By depleting the natural resources, we deplete our own good health because just as we need a balance of iron, sulphur and other minerals in our blood, the earth also needs its minerals to sustain a healthy ecology!

(We discussed South Africa and mining; how there is over-mining everywhere and the many plateaux piled of gold tailings. Coal and other minerals are also mined in great excesses everywhere. We are robbing Mother Earth of her essential minerals required for a healthy ecology. We discussed that Ahura Mazda has hidden all the spiritual weapons in the Sky which is in charge of Shehrevar Ameshaspand who looks after all the minerals. Just as Ahura Mazda has divided the spiritual world into 9 realms and wears the Star-decked Sky “stehr-paesanghem” (Farvardin Yasht, karda 1), woven by the Yazads, as His spiritual vesture, we also wear our sudreh of 9 seams. The spiritual weapons that are stored in the Sky are also found in the stars and reflected in our sudreh, which is our spiritual fortress. The kusti, “aiwyaonghanem” is also a spiritual belt, a weapon, worn by the Yazads; especially by Hom Yazad who is the destroyer of evil knowledge/thoughts. Minerals are also within us, such as iron, calcium, sulphur, etc. By depleting Mother Earth of her minerals, we are harming our health as well because the richness in soil is missing and subsequently even the mineral content in water is missing.)

The Sky is believed to be a storehouse of spiritual energy and protection. It too, is held as sacred because it includes the Sun, Moon and the Stars which are identified as “Yazads” or Spiritual Beings. The Sun, to us, is a Living Divinity whose form is Khorshed Yazad and its radiance is Meher Yazad or Mithra. Similarly, the Moon is Mah Yazad. The Milky Way is Dravasp Yazad (Gosh Yasht). The Holy Avesta reveals that the seeds of water, earth and plants are contained in the Stars (Siroza Yasht, k. 13). The origin of all the so-called inanimate creations is spiritual!

(It is stated in the Meher Yasht, karda 24.95/96 that Meher Yazad turns up everywhere, on all the 7 “regions”, after the setting of the Sun! This proves that even after dark, the various solar energies/radiations of Meher Yazad, such as X-rays, Gamma rays, Radio waves, Micro waves, Ultra-Violet and Infra Red rays still work in the dark to subdue the druj! This pertains to our dakhmas that even at night, the druj-e nashush is under control and it is subdued, confined and decontaminated. Meher Yazad is called “Tanu Manthrem”. The powerful energy of Light, i.e. the radiant spectrum of Meher Yazad and the energy of Sound, “Manthra Incarnate” are combined in Meher Yazad who uses these as his weapons to transform “druj”.)

We worship fire as Ahura Mazda’s Son, a Divine Being. The litany to the sacred fire (Atash Niyayesh) reveals that fire grants intelligence and fluency of tongue! Lifeless or inanimate objects cannot bestow blessings! Only life, in whatever form, has intelligence. Esoterically, fire symbolizes the “light of the mind”, or intelligence, and “fluency of tongue” refers to speech, or “sound”, an inevitable consequence of “thought” or “intelligence”! To us, fire, as Ahura Mazda’s Son, represents His Divine Light, Radiance and Energy, possessing Intelligence. Therefore, we revere and worship fire as a divinity and not as an inanimate creation.

The sacred fires we worship are elaborately consecrated 1,128 times and then enthroned on fire-alters. These are kept perpetually burning for thousands of years.

We regard Mother Earth as a sacred living entity with a soul, worthy of worship. We venerate the Earth as the Archangel Aspandad.

(Mother Earth is Spenta Armaity. “Spenta” is spiritual progress; the Earth is where the souls descend for their spiritual progress, for their salvation, learn the lessons of Life, pass through all the 7 “regions” and go back to Ahura Mazda after being spiritually perfected. In the Atash Niyayesh, we pray, “armaity tevishim dasva….”, meaning to reach the goal of Farshogard we need to cultivate virtues such as humility, obedience and self-sacrifice. Just as the earth bears our burden, we too must become self-sacrificing and bear everything in our stride without complaints.)

Just as we have bones, liquids, heat, organs, etc. Mother Earth also has fires, water, air, minerals and mountains. Mountains are the Earth’s spiritual centres of energy. They contain Divine Light. Wisdom dwells on mountain tops where all the prophets and sages have gone to acquire communion with the Divine. Several sacred mountains (2,244 in all) are mentioned in the Zamyad Yasht. According to the Holy Avesta, all creation is animate _ Nature being a Living, Holistic Entity!

(We discussed that “Ushidaran” is the most important mountain. Mountains have direct connection to the Highest Heaven, to the Divine Light. It is said that humans will attain to immortality through mountains because these attract the good spiritual forces/energies and spread these throughout the world. Because mountains are “spiritual”, prophets and sages have received their communion with the Divine on mountain tops, in solitude. Divine wisdom is not acquired in universities but through solitude and away from the turmoils of this earth. That wisdom resides on “mountain tops” is a spiritual fact because just as we have centres of energy within us, mountains are also the Earth’s centres of energies which the sages have been able to tap into.)

Ahura Mazda has placed mankind in charge of all the other creations because we are given the intelligence to think, speak and act according to the free will! We are free to choose our thoughts, words and actions in life. Inevitably, our moral choices and actions reflect immutable consequences upon ourselves, as reward or punishment.

(There is no conversion/proselytism through “free will” mentioned anywhere in the Gathas. Only the moral conversion, of converting vices, i.e. Akoman, to virtues or “Vohuman”, is mentioned! And, the “choice” is heavily laden with responsibilities, either reward for good and punishment for the wicked.)

As a result, our religion pays great emphasis to the “mind”. The dual mentalities, i.e. good and evil, exist in the mind. Significantly, “evil” being incorporeal, cannot be destroyed by any physical means such as weapons. Only a spiritually illumined mind is able to resist evil thoughts, words and deeds which lead to greed and self-destruction. Through thoughtless destruction of the animate and the inanimate creations, we have caused severe climatic changes. Weather is ringing warning bells but sadly, we are not concerned. If mankind will look upon Mother Nature as a nourisher of Life, as a sacred entity, its destruction through pollution and greed will be replaced by reverence and preservation.

(First we must get rid of the mental pollution, i.e. greed, selfishness, etc. because only then we will be able to rid of the environmental pollution.)

(I had to completely leave out the animal kingdom due to lack of time. But it needs to be mentioned that the Holy Avesta mentions several mystic, super-natural animals especially in the Tir, Behram, Avan and Hadokht Yashts _ such as a beautiful crimson horse with yellow ears and golden mane; a bull with golden horns and yellow ears; a golden camel with extremely sharp eyes; a boar; a dog; a bird who flies a swiftly as an arrow, a ram with horns bent downwards; a beautiful buck; the birds “saena” and “pesho-paren” whose magical feathers heal the righteous devotees [the Shahnameh also mentions the bird Simurg whose feathers heal]; and some evil creatures are also mentioned especially in the Ardibehesht and Vanant Yashts, such as mice, rats, snakes and wolves. The Yazads take the form of these magical animals to appear before the devotee indicating certain spiritual gifts bestowed upon the righteous such as the power of thought, spiritual vision and spiritual hearing, these animals also symbolize the quality of the soul of the devotee as well as the quality of the atoms and cells of physical forms. Animals are also given as gifts to the Yazads. There is no animal sacrifice mentioned in the Sacred Avesta.)

Even at death, Zarathushtis are enjoined not to pollute the sacred elements of nature (Vendidad). We do not pollute the earth through burial; we do not pollute the fire or air through cremation and we also do not pollute water. Our system of solar exposure, using the intense rays of the Sun to decontaminate and dispose a corpse, is expeditious and eco-friendly.

Conclusion

Some of you may not be familiar with our Religion. It originated in ancient Persia (today’s Iran), many millennia ago. Zarathushtis have always lived in harmony with Nature. They invented “Green” technology countless centuries ago which still works effectively. They built “budgirs” or tall wind chimneys to circulate air and keep their homes cool. With “budgirs”, and thick mud walls as insulation against heat as well as cold, no air conditioners or heaters are needed! They draw cold water from the underground streams so that even in the desert, water is always cool and pure. And, no refrigerators are needed. The world can progress spiritually by going backwards in time in order to learn from the ancients how they used natural resources, such as wind and solar power, to live in harmony with nature.

(Some people from the audience at the PWR, Melbourne asked interesting questions re the dakhmas and the “budgirs”.)

In conclusion, I say that our religious mandate is to attain the fundamental unity of all souls which forms the Universal Brotherhood of Arda-Fravash.

Every atom that exists is considered sacred and holy as existing in the Divine. Please, we do not need soldiers to kill other humans in the name of religion or greed for power; we do not need ammunition to destroy our environment! During the stone ages, we fought with stones, bows and arrows; today we fight with chemical and nuclear weapons! We have not progressed spiritually. We are destroying what we have not created! We need peace, protection and preservation for all the creations willed by Ahura Mazda!

Our stewardship for the animate as well as the so-called “inanimate” creations is religiously mandatory.

Thank you!