Humata Hukhta Hvarashta strikes a century

The only serial based on Zoroastrian religion and culture, completed 100 episodes recently

Funded only by donations, Humata Hukhta Hvarashta — the only serial on air based on Zoroastrian religion — completed 100 episodes last Sunday.

“Through this serial we wish to promote awareness of the significance of our rituals and a deeper understanding of the meaning of our basic prayers,” said Cyrus Dastoor, a theatre artist who has conceived, designed and directed the serial. Telecasting Zoroastrianism’s religious and cultural events all over the world, Dastoor said, “Humata Hukhata Hvarashta means good thoughts, good words, good deeds, and these three philosophies are the basic principles of our religion.”

That’s not all. It has also featured almost all Zoroastrian organisations in the world. “The Bombay Parsi Panchayat, the World Zoroastrian Organisation, Zochild and WAPIZ, you name the organisation and we have featured them in our episodes,” said Dastoor.

Humata Hukhta Hvarashta also has Zoroastrian priests who have spoken on various aspects of the faith. “The priests have tackled questions on Zoroastrianism’s various rituals. Our effort to make this serial is to lay emphasis on the necessity of propagating religious education to our future generations,” said Dastoor. Telecast on Zee Gujarati at 11.00 am, every Sunday, the centenary episode of the serial was titled ‘Fravarane’ (I choose) and had two boys discussing the Zoroastrian religion. Skits are a regular feature of the serial through which they convey religious education. Besides, the serial has also had personalities like Boman Irani and Dinyar Contractor anchoring some of the episodes.

The Frohar Foundation, under the banner of Frohar films launched this serial in August 1999. “There are many serials on air on various religions of India. In 1999, however there was no serial based on Zoroastrianism, the world’s oldest revealed religion. It has survived since pre-historic times with its core beliefs still intact, despite all the trials and tribulations that its followers have been through. Considering that this community maintains a low profile and very little is known or recorded about it, especially in the audio-visual format I felt the need to broadcast the various aspects of the religion on air which is why the serial was started,” said Dastoor.

  • Bhalchandrarao C. Patwardhan

    I had written to the Indian Express years ago about the three words, among other matters. Here’s the letter:

    September 17, 1999

    The Editor
    Indian Express
    Pune Newsline
    Pune – 1

    Sir

    I refer to the excellent article, “The Fires of Faith” by Triveni (Pune Newsline – September 11 1999), and wish to compliment her for enlightening your readers on the common heritage shared by the Zoroastrians and the Hindus. I also wish to present a few thoughts for complementing the several parallels that Zoroastrianism has been shown therein to have with the Vedas.

    The Avesta refers to ‘Airayana Vajjo’, i.e. Aryavarta as the homeland of the Zoroastrians. The ancient Persian sources also know the famous Dasharathi Rama of Ayodhya and his teacher Vasishttha, who is mentioned in the Avesta as Vahishta! There is even a gatha to him – the Vahishta-Ishti-Gatha. There is a reference in the Vedas about a decisive conflict, known as the Battle of Ten Kings, in which King Sudas is reported to have inflicted a crushing defeat on the Prthus (Parthians) and the Parsus (Persians), an event that may have caused a geographical and cultural rift between the Indians and the Persians. Zoroaster himself is known to have lamented in the Avesta, “To what land shall I flee? Where bend my steps? I am thrust out from family and tribe; I have no favour from the village to which I belong……”. (See p.51 in J.P.Mallory’s, ‘In Search of the Indo-Europeans : Language, Archaeology and Myth’, London: Thames and Hudson). Is it possible, then, that the Zoroastrians were originally from India to which they returned after the Islamic conquest of Persia? Refugees in their own land, so like the Pandits of Kashmir!

    The three basic tenets of Zoroastrianism are “Humata” or Good Thoughts, “Hukhta” or Good Words and “Hwarsht” or Good Deeds. I have been able to link the first two words with their Sanskrit originals, but have failed with the third. “S” in Sanskrit, through a variation in aspiration peculiar to Persian, becomes “H”. Hence “Humata” is actually “Sumati”. ‘Su’ is ‘good’ and ‘Mati’ is ‘Budhhi’ or thought! Similarly, “Hukhta” is actually “Su-ukta”. Again ‘Su’ is ‘good’ and ‘ukta’ is speech! “Hwarsht” has so far not yielded to me a clue to its origin. Perhaps some scholar from the Vaidika Samshodhan Mandala could elaborate upon this. [Author’s Note: I have since realised that the word derives from “Suvratastha” or ‘committed to good conduct’ – April 20, 2003]

    There are innumerable other words appearing in the Avestan that have an unquestionable Sanskrit origin. To cite but a few : Manthras (incantations, or simply ‘mantras’), Ushahin Gah (dawn – Sanskrit “Usha”), Navjote (Sanskrit- Nava Jaat, or rebirth), and many others.

    There is thus sufficient evidence that there has been a common point in our hoary history when the two persuasions were one. Research being undertaken at Institutions like the Vaidika Samshodhan Mandal is certain to yield the truth.

    Yours sincerely
    Bhalchandrarao C Patwardhan

  • Sambaran Datta gupta

    I’m a hindu.But I want to know aboutZoroastrians and zoroastrian relegion.Please send me total historical information about Zoroastrian relegion via mail.

  • upendra

    excellent, great for other community. Past episodes of 108 serial will be useful.
    Where to get Gujarati print of main religious book?
    I born at 180 Dadyseth Agiyari Lane, Bombay-2. Have watched many ceremonies outside Agiayri curiously since child hood. Have met sometimes in there homes. Nicely cleaned outside and painted with white and wearing loose white kurta and pyjamas. Also listen every wed night on radio ‘Comedy Programme’ of Shri Adi Marzban eagarlly.
    I have some parsi friends in college too.

  • upendra

    excellent, great for other community. Past episodes of 108 serial will be useful.
    Where to get Gujarati print of Parsi religious book?
    I born at 180 Dadyseth Agiyari Lane, Bombay-2 in 1950. Have watched many ceremonies outside Agiayri curiously since child hood. Have met sometimes in there homes. Nicely cleaned outside and painted with white and wearing loose white kurta and pyjamas. Also listen every wed night on radio ‘Comedy Programme’ of Shri Adi Marzban eagerly.
    I have some parsi friends in college too.