Parsis debate priest’s organ donation appeal

While most support it, a small section of orthodox Parsis are in opposition claiming the body belongs to god.

By Jyoti Shelar | Mumbai Mirror

A Parsi high priest’s appeal to donate organs has the community debating yet again – while a majority are in favour, a small section questions the right to donate parts citing the orthodox belief that the body belongs to god, and must be offered back to him in its entirity.

03-01High Priest Khurshed Dastur, who is with the Udvada fire temple in Gujarat, cited the case of 21-yearold Hvovi Minocherhomji, a Parsi girl who made headlines in June when traffic police cleared busy roads to ferry a donor’s heart she was waiting for.

“The girl is recuperating now and she has got an all-new life. Isn’t that something to consider? When the community is open in accepting organs, then they should be open in donating organs too,” Dastur told Mumbai Mirror on Wednesday.

“I simply made an appeal on humanitarian grounds. No religion talks about organ donation but it is aneed today,” said Dastur who first spoke openly about organ donation two years ago when he performed the Navjote ceremony of a blind Parsi boy.

His most recent appeal was made last month in Sanjan, Gujarat while he was addressing the community on Sanjan Day, which marks the Parsis’ arrival in Sanjan after fleeing from Iran.

Dastur’s plea found support from Bombay Parsi Punchayet chairman Dinshaw Mehta. “I completely support Dastur in this. If we can take organs then we can give them too. This is the best form of charity,” said Mehta.

According to Dastur, only a small section of Parsis is against donating organs. Orthodox Parsis believe that the body belongs to god and must be given back to him unblemished. Another belief holds that if a Parsi donates his eyes, he will not be able to walk the bridge to heaven and may fall to hell due to his blindness.

After Dastur’s appeal, a priest from Mumbai, Ervad Marzban Hathiram, wrote in his blog that charity is possible only with that which is ours, not that which belongs to someone else.

“If my neighbour is a very rich man I cannot appropriate his wealth, distribute it among the poor and call it charity. That would be akin to robbing Peter to pay Paul. The moot question is this – is the human body ours, or does it belong to God? Real charity does not lie in giving away something when we no longer need it – real charity means giving away something even though we may need it,” he said.

  • Sohrab Kamdin

    Your body is something that you own & it’s not negotiable either.. Only the owner of the body can decide what he wants to do with his/her body before or after death. Neither a priest or a layman can tell you what to do with your body. In legal cases ofcourse the judges may “PUNISH” the body which also affects the mind. This is why many are against capital punishment because the body does not belong to the Judges !.

  • Sohrab Kamdin

    Even if you were Brain Dead would you like to donate your Heart or Kidneys within the stipulated time to save somebody”s life, rather than let vultures eat it. If it’s charity that parsees wish to do why not donate an organ. The recipient will bless you for a long time.