Parsis say no to conversion

A gang of Mexican drug smugglers, a sect of Brazilian nudists, a group of paedophiles__they have all professed to be Zoroastrians. Shocked and to stop such "infiltrations", about 35 Parsi-Irani Anjumans, representing different cities, towns and villages in India, passed a resolution against conversion into the community after the UK-based World Zoroastrian Organisation (WZO) recently changed its rules to allow any person professing Zoroastrianism to become its member.

By Nauzer K Bharucha / TNN

From a gang of Mexican drug smugglers, to a sect of Brazilian nudists and a group of pedophiles, they have all professed to be Zoroastrians, has shocked members of this tiny community in India.

Over the weekend, about 35 Parsi-Irani Anjumans, representing different cities, towns and villages in India, passed a resolution against conversion into the community after the UK-based World Zoroastrian Organisation (WZO) recently changed its rules to allow any person professing Zoroastrianism to become its member. The case of a Russian citizen, who came to India early this year on a tourist visa to be ordained as a Zoroastrian priest near the Maharashtra-Gujarat border, was also opposed by the delegates attending the two-day meet of the Federation of Parsi Zoroastrian Anjumans of India. The Russian has moved the Bombay high court after he was prevented by some community members from going ahead with the ceremony.

Recenlty, WZO’s India wing severed ties with WZO (UK) and its members unanimously voted against allowing conversion. throwing the membership doors open to all and sundry. `"History shows that the cruellest wars were fought over religious conversions. Our community is loved and respected because we have never attempted to convert others. Any such attempt will disturb the peaceful coexistence that we have enjoyed with people from other faiths,” Nozer Meherji, vice-president of the WZO (India), told the delegates attending the annual meeting of the Federation of the Parsi Zoroastrian Anjumans of India. "Just a couple of years ago, a cartel of Mexican drug smugglers, when caught with possession of marijuana, claimed to be Zoroastrians and falsely said the drug was meant to be used in an ancient religious ritual.” He also expressed his fear said Meherji, adding that fundamentalist groups could carry out terror acts by pretending to be Zoroastrians.

Bombay Parsi Punchayat (BPP) trustee Khojeste Mistree said for some foreigners, Zoroastrianism had become a "designer religion”. "It’s easier for citizens of Central Asian countries to migrate to the US and Europe if they claim to be Zoroastrians. This is one of the major reasons why some people want to convert. It’s their passport to the west,” Mistree said. "We also have proof of nudists and paedophiles from Latin America professing to be Zoroastrians. The community cannot exist without its minus its ethnicity.”

BPP chairman Dinshaw Mehta said the Russian, Mikhail Chistyakov, who has moved the HC, has stated in his petition that he had been preparing himself to become a full-fledged Zoroastrian priest since 2005. "There is a deliberate attempt to now show that he had come to India only to study Zoroastrianism and that he has had been prevented from doing so. He was barred because he was getting himself initiated into priesthood. Even a Parsi Zoroastrian, who is not of the priestly class, is not allowed to become a priest,” he said.

Solicitor Burjor Antia said conversion was not a solution to the community’s dwindling numbers. "We will lose our identity, which is far more vital than horizontal expansion. Conversion will submerge our closely-knit community and make it extinct,” he said.

Antia observed that the "guerilla warfare” between the orthodox and radicals is "indicative of a sick community”.

  • xquisit

    Almost All religions dont encourage conversion. Why cant our scholars give us a concrete well thought of plan to revamp our community and not encourage infighting within the community btwn so called orthodox/libera labels. Nothing would be achieved except washing our dirty linen in public. Can those that have so vociferously commented in the Anjuman Meetings N who hold responsible positions not give us a plan Vs mere lip service of comments? May Ahura Mazda Guide us.

  • Dorab.

    XQUSIT,
    Sorry to say but you are incorrect when you say that ALL religions do not encourage conversions.
    If our forfathers were not forced to embrace Islam, would we have been in this Country.The aim of all extremists is to ensure that the world becomes Islamic.
    Ditto for Christianity who actively promote proslytizing.
    Not for a moment am I suggesting that our community should indulge in such conversions but to deny a genuine person born out of ONE Zoro parent entry into our faith is characteristically UNZOROASTRIAN.
    My last question which for which no one seems to have an answer. Why such controversies did not exists prior to 2007? Can you throw light?

  • Ervad Hoshang J. Bhadha Ph.D.

    Hello Mr. Xquisit,
    There is NO PLAN that can be devised for unanimous voting on Conversion and mix-marriages. The reasons on the subject-matter was given out loud & clear since decades in public speeches, articles and books. It’s not that people don’t understand our religious explanations ….. they simply do not want to believe our sacred scriptures and messages of divine beings. Religion is a divine Path destined for a particular soul to which a “custodian” follows to ensure its desired objective. We can educate but most certainly cannot impose religious taboos on anyone, at-least not in our religion. Yes, people are abusing and taking advantage of our tenets to suit their preference. Legal action is the only respectful way of resolution however there too we face adversities in the presence of non-Zoroastrian Judge or a religiously-uneducated attorney representing Plaintiff &/or Defendent. If we educate our family first and then every other strayed Zoroastrian we can surely save majority of our community from this black hole.

  • Zarathushtra Zarthosti

    Dear All,
    We all know that Mr. Nauzer Bharucha who works for Times of India, always indulges in biased reporting favoring his masters in Wapiz and BPP. His articles have always been one sided, blatantly biased and will never carry the view point or clarifications of the other side. He is misusing his power as a journ…alist and such misdeeds of his should be brought to the notice of the management of The Times of India.
    There are more than 2.5 million Zoroastrians across the globe and to label them all with deragotary statements like “drug smugglers, nudists & paedophilies” is certainly not decent journalism. The least Mr. Nauzer Bharucha could have done is checked with people like Ms. Meher Master Moos and others who are doing a wonderful job worldwide.
    Please register your protest by sending emails to: mytimesmyvoice@timesgroup.com with Editor, Mumbai in the subject line. Kindly also forward this mail to as many Zoroastrians as possible.

    KHSHNAOTHRE AHURAHE MAZDAO

  • Voice of Reason

    Mr.Xquisit, appears to be living in a an utopian word. Dear Sir, all those who talk big cannot act big. Reason: They have skeletons in their own cupboards in that in most cases close family members/ progeny of High Priests (Self designated, of course) are married outside the fold and to add to this, our holy men in their ‘divine’ dispensation make exceptions by inducting ‘parjat’ into our Religion and perform Navjotes, of grown up ADULTS, even though ordinarily Navjote induction is to be performed before the concerned person before he/she attains puberty. All this has been done for mundane considerations. Days are gone for the high priests to believe that they can SHAMELESSLY AND BLATANTLY DISCRIMINATE and none should question their capricious actions. And in no small measure the cyber world is creating greater awareness of the acts of omission and commission of the arrogant priestly class who still believe that their word ought to be final and that they can do no wrong and even their palpably wrong actions should be viewed as religiously correct and overlooked. And for that they have senile professional Solicitor who use such terms as ‘exceptions made under the burden/debt of gratitude’ and such other blabber.

  • phiroze

    Parsis have two choices:
    1. Continue to do what we have been doing for the last more 250 years and hope that our community survives and thrives for another 250 years

    OR

    2. Accept intercaste marriages / conversions and forever loose our identity.

  • Dorab.

    Phiroze,
    You have said: “Continue to do what we have been doing for the last more 250 years and hope that our community survives and thrives for another 250 years ”
    So what was in vogue prior to 250 years i.e. before 1759?
    Do enlighten us.

  • phiroze

    Dorab,
    The same thing.

    Refering to your first post “why such controversies did not exist before 2007? The answer is they existed even in the last century. But now it is time to choose one of the two options I mentioned earlier.

  • Dorab.

    Phiroze,
    In your message dated the 13th instant, your favoured option apparently is “Continue to do what we have been doing for the last more 250 years and hope that our community survives and thrives for another 250 years ”
    And now you say in your post dated the 14th that even in the LAST CENTURY TOO identical controversies existed. So you concede that despite such controversies the faith and the community survived for over a century. Then where is the need NOW ‘ to choose one of the two options’ except to gain cheap publicity?

  • piloo_2

    “A gang of Mexican drug smugglers, a sect of Brazilian nudists, a group of paedophiles- they have all professed to be Zoroastrians”

    Is the author of this dispatch trying to ‘convince’ that all those who want to enter Zoroasrtrian faith in India and abroad are drug smugglers, nudists and pedophiles?
    Mr. Bharucha stop publishing ‘sensational’ bunkum in a National daily of standing.
    In India, those wanting to enter our faith are kids less than 9 years old mostly born out of Parsi mother and non- Parsia father.To call them as such is nothing but indicative of a sick mind who uttered these nonsense.
    There is a principle to talk in reference to context which is beyond the comprehension of Dhobhi Talao wallas.
    Average Parsi is not so gullible to be taken for a ride by such rhetoric and hyperbole of your friends.
    So please refrain from reporting such sick jokes because it will harm the credibility of the publication of which you are an employee.
    BTW there such despicable characters like nudists, smugglers and drug addicts in different religious groups. Will WAPIZ members stop visiting Crawford Market because many smuggled items are sold.
    COME OF IT MR. BHARUCHA and at least make an attempt to be objective and judicious in your reporting even if it is not in your nature to be judicious.

  • Ariobarzan

    Iranian Zoroastrians accept conversions so why Parsis do not? For instance, Mobed Kamran Jamshidi travels to different countries just for new Zoroastrians. Are not we supposed to follow Iranian Zoroastrians?

  • Zarathushtra Zarthosti

    Dear All,
    Mr. Vineet Jain is the MD of Times of India. You can also address your protest email to him at vineet.jain@timesgroup.com

    KHSHNAOTHRE AHURAHE MAZDAO

  • phiroze

    Come on Dorab I expected better from you. The last century did not have this blog. Just as u use this for publicity of your view point so do the others. Cheap or otherwise is ones personal opinion. You need to come up with better answers than this.

  • Right Now we are living in a world, where religion does not matter.
    we have to move ahead with the changing times, we Parsees & Iranis are more Modern in outlook, but when it comes to religion we are far lagging behind others.
    Just see from the reality point of view that our community is fast dwindling & its time to allow others into the parsee fold.
    I know that those who are against it would swoop down on me, but i would like to ask them that if we are to survive in Today’s world, what is the harm in accepting those who are willing to convert themselves into Parsees.
    The Parsee community doesnt allow inter caste marriages, then how are we to survive.
    A Time would come when the world would get to know about the Parsees only through the Museums.
    Once a Great Aryan Race is on the brink of getting finish off by its own great folly.
    My best advice to all the learned Parsee Gentlemen & Women, Please do accept the fact of realities, before it would be too late to save the great Aryan Race.
    Our Forefathers would be happy to see the increase in the Great Aryan Race.
    Please do accept the others into our Aryan Fold & try to increase our Population & also try to accept the inter caste marriages.
    The best way i would like to suggest is “If we allow the children of Parsee Females who are married outside into our fold by performing their Navjote & accepting them into our Aryan Parsee Race would increase our Population Three Fold.
    Rest is upto the learned men & women of our great Aryan Rce.
    Remember the histroy is not going to forgive us for the dwindling of our Parsee Aryan Race.
    Hope the most learned persons of our community sees the writing on the wall before its too late to save the great Aryan Race of Proud Iran.
    With Malice towars none.
    Ronnie Patel. (Rohinton Jal Patel).

  • Dorab.

    Phiroze,
    Beg your parson,
    I am not confused nor contradicting. Be a sport and concede that your are two different posts have inherent contradictions.
    It is not for me to give answers. The ball is in your court. Just because there was no internet or this blog in the last century does not imply that there were no controversies.There were News papers particularly vernacular ones. You have yourself admitted about such controversies in the earlier centuries. Read your own post of 14th October 2010.
    The community is too tiny and such trivial controversies created by some individuals to whip up mass hysteria have failed to achieve their objective BUT HAVE CERTAINLY MADE THE FULL COMMUNITY OBJECT OF RIDICULE IN THE NATIONAL PRESS.

  • Asha Rustomji Sawant

    (I am a Hindu born of a Parsi father and a Hindu mother).
    I am now convinced that the Parsis want to die as a community.
    I do not think they are interested in the survival of their religion.
    If a person is committed to committing suicide, no power on earth can stop him. It pains me because I still have some love for the religion of Asho Nabi Zarthustra….. but it doesnt pain the Parsis. SAD.
    Asha Rustomji Sawant

  • R.Kayani.

    Dorabji,
    You would have noticed a discernible resemblance in the language of the blogger (with whom you are discussing in a dignified way) with that of one blogger who was earlier banished for foul language against many lady bloggers. I am not going to mention names.
    It seems that ethics has reached such a nadir that some persons do not even hesitate to create ‘identities’ to post messages in the name of their own deceased parent.
    WHAT A ‘COMMITMENT’ for the cause of ensuring decimation of the Religion???

  • Khoremand

    Ervad Hoshang J. Bhadha said-“Religion is a divine Path destined for a particular soul to which a “custodian” follows to ensure its desired objective.”

    I would like to know the source of his interpretation.

    hmm, one day, somewhere around ~3,200 years ago by current estimates, a priest and philosopher named Zarathushtra did something that very few people had done before, and very few have done after: He applied logic to religion, and decided that in the cases where religion did not follow logic, it was religion that was at fault.

    Isn’t the most true religion that which is best for all humanity? If a religion demands you go to war simply to appease the gods or to provide sacrifices, it must therefore be false. If a religion is intended only for a selective group whose followers are under the control of a small group of MISGUIDING priests, it is again FALSE.

    After his epiphany and during his conversations with Ahura Mazda, Zarathushtra began creating the Gathas. During this time he kept to his form of applying logic to everything. He condensed all actions down into two forms – those that are good in that they make the world a better place, and those that are evil in that they make the world worse. Well thought out and considered charity makes life better for others, who can then provide charity to others as well – a good thing. Telling LIES, causes discord, and can stop people from doing good acts – a bad thing.

    However, due to Zarathushtra’s extensive application of logic, he was aware of situations where there could be a conflict of interest. For instance, Zarathushtra states several times that if one lies to save the life of a very good person, you have done no sin. While a lie is a sin, knowingly allowing a very good person to be killed is a much greater sin, thus the balance is in your favor.

    This is an aspect that has been missing from the practices of many modern PARSI REDNECKS . What is the benefit of denying someone entrance to a fire temple because they do not seem to be Parsi? What is the logic behind denying non-Zoroastrians the right to learn the teachings of Zoroastrianism? Is there any logic in discrimination of nonZoroastrian spouses in the family simply because they are nonZoroastrians, when Zarathushtra himself stood for unity of humanity in contrast to caste ridden barbaric society of Indo-Aryans?

    Ervad Hoshang J. Bhadha, your illogical racism akin to Nazism has nothing to do with actual logical Zoroastrian precepts. Zoroastrianism is logical philosophy of life that is open to all those who want to live a happy co-existence with nature. And all those illogical Neo-Nazi pure blood Bawas who think like you, are rightly going to meet their dead end soon.

  • phiroze

    Dorab,
    Where is the contradiction. The controversy was there and now is the time to make a choice / take a decision. The second flows from the first. Stop imagining contradictions where there are none.

  • Asha, You are absolutely right when you wrote that the Parsee community is hard bend on commiting sucide all on its own.
    I also feel sorry for the Great Community which had many Great Warriors & Great Kings who were spiritualy advanced.
    Take the Example of Kings like Jamshed Phasta & Ferredoun, who were highly advanced souls, they were bestowed with Highly spirituality Power by Ahura Mazda himself.It is Kings like them who were preparing the ground for the advent of our Prophet of Prophet Zarthrustra, who brought the Religion of The Angles to we Iranian Parsees.
    Now when the community is facing decline in its numbers, we should now allow the other community members who are willing to accept the Parsee fold.
    Remeber, even the Great kings during the Golden Age of Iran were having Non Zorastrians as their legitimate wives & the childer born out of such wedlock were accepted into the Parsee fold, when they can be allowto become Parsees, then why not the others.
    Remember the time is not too far when the Great Aryan Race would be wipped out of this world, thats worring me the most.
    Hope those highly Learned Trustees of The Parsee Panchayat sees the Writing on the walls & try to make ammendments in Parsee personel law & allow the childern of other faiths into our Parsee fold, if we are to survive as the Great Aryan Race of ancient Beautiful Inran.
    Hope the Trustees do some soul searching & allow the conversions to take place.
    Rohinton Jal Patel.

  • Dorab.

    Thanks, Mr/Ms R Kayani for drawing my attention.After reading your message, I did go through the archives of earlier topics and derogatory posts of one whom you have referred to.
    May be you are correct. I too feel commonality in style and expressions.
    Thanks any way.Let each person act according to his conscience.

  • Siloo Kapadia

    So, THEY say no to conversion, do THEY? Stupid people. jera
    bee ukkle nathee. teklokho bee jat-jat-na avago kerse, but they will have no real plan to stop the demise of the religion/community.

    Thank Ahura Mazda that THEY do not represent all of the community. As many of the comments above show, our community has many members that are not such suicidal racists behlah manaso.

    I plead with all civilized members, please be willing to accept any and all converts that truly wish to learn and be constructive members of the faith. Religion was never meant for any one race or people, but for all mankind.

  • Arash-Abadi

    This is an amazing subject. We are currently less then 150.000 worldwide if we add up the Parsis and Zartoshtis and some of you still dare to even have such a discussion.

    The Musslims, chrisitians, sientologists, Bahai and so many other religions and sects are fighting to get more followers. On the other hand there are at least one million people who are desperate and volunteering to be zartoshti and you dont want to allow them to enter. I know there are many Iranian and Arab spies who want to enter just to make sure the last 150.000 of us disappear as fast as possible, but the number of these spies and smugglers and nudists is nothing compared to the number of decent and aducated people who want to join us.

    Now it is up to us will we allow every one of them or will we try to stop them all….. here is the two scenarios:

    1- we will NOT allow anyone, as a result only the real stubborns will find a way to join us or at least they will start calling themselves zartoshties, and i can guarantee you that in that case from the 100 new zartoshties that enter our community at leat 90% will be the leaches mentioned at the beginning of this article.

    2- we will start allowing the mass of interested people, but we regulate this by creating guide lines, procedures and an organisation to overlook this. Then from the 10.000 new comers per year we will have the same 90 leaches plus 9910 decent and honest new comers. now you realise the percentage of the leaches is much less and they will vanish when they realize they are swimming against the flow.

  • Zarathushtra Zarthosti

    Conversion

    The issue of conversion and active proselytization is perhaps the most controversial and contested issue within the Zoroastrian community. Instead of debating and interpreting in ways that agree with our own personal beliefs and inclinations, let us refer directly to the words of Zarathushtra:

    First we come to the legendary Yasna 30:2 which says:

    Listen with your ears the highest truth, consider them with illumined minds carefully and decide each man and woman personally between the two paths, good and evil. Before ushering in of the great day, or the day of judgment, arise all of you and try to spread Ahura’s words (Zarathushtra’s message).

    Mobed Firouz Azargoshasb

    Hear with your ears the Highest Truths I preach, And with illumined minds weigh them with care, Before you choose which of two Paths to tread, Deciding man by man, each one for each; Before the great New Age is ushered in Wake up, alert to spread Ahura’s Word.

    Irach J.S. Taraporewala

    Hearken with your ears to these best counsels, Reflect upon them with illumined judgement. Let each one choose his creed with that freedom of choice each must have at great events. O ye, be awake to these, my announcements.

    D. J. Irani

    Hear with your ears that which is the sovereign good; With a clear mind look upon the two sides Between which each man must choose for himself, Watchful beforehand that the great test may be accomplished in our favour.

    Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin (translated from French by Mrs. M. Henning)

    Hear the best (truth) with your ears and decide by your pure mind. Let everybody judge for his ownself and find out what he ought to do. Before the great trial let all wake up to this my counsel.

    T. R. Sethna

    Hear the best with your ears and ponder with a bright mind. Then each man and woman, for his or her self, select either of the two. Awaken to this Doctrine of ours before the Great Event of Choice ushers in.

    Ali A. Jafarey

    Listen with ears to the best (then) reflect with your unbiased mind – man by man – before deciding between the two choices, before ushering of the great event, (so) with knowledge (let) each one announce.

    Pallan R. Ichaporia

    Next is Yasna 31:11-:

    Since, O Mazda, from the beginning, Thou didst create soul and body; mental power and knowledge and since Thou didst place life within the corporeal body and didst bestow to mankind the power to act, speak and guide, you wished that everyone should choose his or her own faith and path freely.

    Mobed Firouz Azargoshasb

    Since for us, Mazda, Thou didst make from first Bodies with Souls within that can perceive, Out of Thy Thought didst give us Power to think; Since Life within the Flesh Thou didst encage, Yet Strength to act and Words to guide didst grant, So that we freely choose the Path we tread;-

    Irach J.S. Taraporewala

    By Thy perfect Intelligence, O Mazda Thou didst first create us having bodies and spiritual consciences, And by Thy thought gave our selves the power of thought, word, and deed. Thus leaving us free to choose our faith at our own will.

    D. J. Irani

    Since thou, O Wise One, at the first didst create for us by thy mind Beings and consciences and wills, Since thou didst give a body to the soul of life, Since thou didst create deeds and words, that man may decide freely,-

    Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin (translated from French by Mrs. M. Henning)

    Since O Mazda from the beginning you fashioned for us physical bodies, discerning souls and directive intelligence through your own mind. Since you infused life breath into mortal bones, since you granted us capacities to act and true doctrines to guide so that one could choose beliefs at will.

    T. R. Sethna

    O Wise One, at the beginning, You, through Your mind, fashioned for us the living world, conceptions and intellects, put life in the physical frame, and gave deeds and doctrine, so that one makes his choice through free will.

    Ali A. Jafarey

    At the beginning, O Mazda (Wise One), Thou has fashioned for us bodies and religious views, and through Thy mental intellect put life into the flesh and blood, and power to act, and words for guidance so one is free to choose what he prefers.

    Pallan R. Ichaporia

    Likewise in Yasna 31:9 and 49:3 Zarathushtra clearly spells out the choice between following the good leader or the false one, as well as the consequences of making good or evil choice. He puts the responsibility squarely on one’s own shoulders, since each one of us has the freedom to choose.

    He continues in Yasna 49:6 by saying:

    Earnestly do I urge Ye, O Mazda, to declare to me your Holy Plan, so that I may know the truth and reveal to the world that religion which has been inspired to me, O Ahura, by Thee..

    Mobed Firouz Azargoshasb

    To Mazda and to Asha I do pray, That Ye reveal to me Your Holy Plan, That in Your Wisdom Ye have made for us; That we may choose and go forth to proclaim What Faith, O Lord, should be Thy Devotees’.

    Irach J.S. Taraporewala

    I beseech Thee, O Mazda, reveal Thy Holy Plan, Let Truth declare Thy Divine Wisdom, So that we may ever choose and act aright And make the truths of Thy Faith widely known.

    D. J. Irani

    I entreat you, O Wise One, together with Righteousness, To make known the purpose of your will, That we may decide rightly And teach it to all consciences devoted to such as you, O Lord!

    Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin (translated from French by Mrs. M. Henning)

    Mazda I beseech you, tell me about righteousness which in duty to you is to be done with the mind. Let me know correctly that religion which is yours, O Ahura, so that I may be able to preach it.

    T. R. Sethna

    I urge You, Wise One, and Righteousness to tell us what You have in Your wisdom of mind so that we rightly choose how to proclaim, Lord, the religion which belongs to a godlike person..

    Ali A. Jafarey

    Pallan R. Ichaporia has not translated the Spenta Mainyu Gatha

    Zarathushtra takes this even further in Yasna 53, saying that his wish is not only to reach the good people, but to also have the followers of evil , and even his enemies understand and choose the right path:

    Every wish of the prophet Zarathushtra Spitama have been fulfilled in the best possible manner and Ahura Mazda, the Lord of Life and Wisdom, has granted him the best blessings, i.e. a happy, prosperous and holy life through all Eternity. Even those who have opposed him have learnt to pay him reverence and follow the good religion in every word and action.

    Mobed Firouz Azargoshasb

    Fulfilled has been the Prophet’s every wish, O Spitama Zarathushtra, for on Him Is Mazda Ahura’s best Gift bestowed- A Holy Life through all Eternity;- Those who opposed Him, even they have learnt To reverence the Teachings of His Faith, And follow this Good Creed in every act.

    Irach J.S. Taraporewala

    The highest aspirations of Zarathushtra Spitama attain fruition, O Mazda, When thou dost grant him for his righteousness Blissful existence enduring for all times; When all, at last, turn to him To accept and practice the principles of the Good Religion!

    D. J. Irani

    The best possession of Zarathushtra Spitama has been revealed: It is that the Wise Lord has granted, through the Right, eternal bliss To him and to all those who have observed and practised The words and deeds of his good religion.

    Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin (translated from French by Mrs. M. Henning)

    The highest wish of Spitama Zarathushtra has been fulfilled. For Ahura Mazda on account of his righteousness has granted him blessings of holy life for all eternity. All those who had opposed him, even they have learnt the good religion in theory and in practice..

    T. R. Sethna

    The best wish of mine, Zarathushtra Spitama, has been fulfilled, because the Wise God has, on account of my righteousness, granted me blessings, both mental and material, and a good life for ever. Those who hurt me have also learned the words and deeds of the Good Conscience.

    Ali A. Jafarey

    The best wish of Zarathushtra Spitama has been achieved, as Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord) has granted him the request of good existence in harmony with Truth, and (also the same) to those who accepted the words, and actions of his good religion.

    Pallan R. Ichaporia

    As for his own role, responding to the various challenges that we face in the world, and how we are tempted to choose the way of expedience and destruction, in Yasna 31:2 Zarathushtra identifies himself as a Teacher and Guide to both the righteous and the misguided, to all the people of the world, in choosing the righteous path, where he says:

    Since deluded by these lures, you are unable to realize the right path clearly and choose the same, therefore, Mazda Ahura appointed me as your teacher, so that both parties of good and evil may live in accord with Asha.

    Mobed Firouz Azargoshasb

    Deluded by these lures ye see not clear The Higher Path, that should become your choice, So to ye all, sent by Ahura, I Am come as Teacher; Mazda hath ordained That I should teach both parties how to live Their lives in best accord with Asha’s Law.

    Irach J.S. Taraporewala

    As you realize not the eternal truths, and recognize not the better life, I come to you all to guide you in the right selection between the two sides. That we may thence live in accordance with Truth and right.

    D. J. Irani

    Because the better way to choose of the two is not therefore in sight, To you all I come the judge of the two sides, -Such as the Wise Lord knoweth me- That we may live according to Righteousness.

    Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin (translated from French by Mrs. M. Henning)

    Since the better path is not clearly seen by the soul for her choice, because of evil attractions, I have come to you all as the prophet ordained by Ahura Mazda to guide the people between these two mentalities, so that they, one and all, live in harmony and righteousness.

    T. R. Sethna

    Since it is not easy for the soul to find the better course, I, whom the Wise Lord knows, come to you all as the leader of the two parties, so that we may live in accordance with righteousness.

    Ali A. Jafarey

    As the better way is not clear in sight for the soul, I come as the Teacher to you all, appointed by Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord), mindful of the two parties (i.e. truthful and deceitful) so that we may live in harmony with Truth.

    Pallan R. Ichaporia

    In conclusion, while it may be an issue of contention to debate whether “path” or “faith” refers to choices of religion or simply ways of living, it would be safe to assume that if we asked Zarathushtra himself, his response would be something along these lines:

    “I am not interested in what labels you wish to give yourselves or others. Nor am I interested in the social pigeonholes or sociological categories you wish to create. What I care for is to increase the Good in the world and ultimately eliminate Evil altogether. My most sincere wish and desire is to see even the very last misguided and lost individual converted from ignorance to wisdom, from hatred to love, from fear to faith, and from evil to Goodness.”

    ?

    Shahriar Shahriari Vancouver Canada December 25, 1998

    KHSHNAOTHRE AHURAHE MAZDAO

  • phiroze

    Arash,
    Could you please propose the guide lines, procedures and organisation for regulating the inflow.

    I would like to dare have a discussion on this amazing subject becausing only by talking and discussing can we find solution to problems.

  • phiroze

    Yo! ZZ,
    we all are a bit bored of hearing the same old translations since the last so many years. Its time to put your scholars words into action, so as Arash Abadi suggests formulate guidlines procedures to control who how where and by whom can and cannot be converted. Also about providing infrastructure like agiaries and dohkmas for the new converts to pray and attend higher liturgical ceremonies and their after death prayers. Without these the converts would be mere statistic / number. If I were to convert I should be provided these facilities. I would not be interested in being just a number.

  • piloo_2

    I assume that translations done by Er Bhadha, PhD will be more NEW and authentic at least thats what the blogger Phiroze expects us to believe. Such translations will not be ‘bit boring’ but entertaining.!

  • Zarathushtra Zarthosti

    Please read all the eight parts of this article.

    Conversion in Zoroastrianism: The Truth behind the Trumpery by Kaikhosrov D. Irani and Farrokh J. Vajifdar

    [Introduction]
    The evidence of the Gathic texts
    The Fravardin Yasht
    The Pahlavi Zartusht-namagh [Denkard VII] and other Pahlavi texts
    The Persian Rivayats
    An overdue rectification: from pseudo-History to Historicity
    A Pazand prayer: the Kalmi-i din / Din-no kalmo
    Difficulties within the Bombay Zoroastrian communities and those of the Diaspora lands

    ** ** ** ** **

  • Zarathushtra Zarthosti

    Zarathushtra preached a religion which demanded of individuals responsibility for reflective moral living, and transformed human existence from tribal abrasion to social harmony. He wished us to become thereby HEALERS OF EXISTENCE. Many who consider themselves Zoroastrians, mainly among the Parsi Jarthosti community, seem to claim that this message was addressed by Zarathushtra to a specific tribe. Hence, if someone of non-Zoroastrian parentage, upon hearing the message of Zarathushtra, and being convinced by it, declares himself or herself to be a Zoroastrian, such a claim would, and should, be rejected by the religious community of Zoroastrians. This view, though widely accepted, is intellectually absurd and morally degrading, inhuman and bigoted, beside being wholly incompatible with the teachings of the Prophet on acceptance and conversion.

    That this view is incorrect, both conceptually and textually, is what we wish to present here. We examine briefly the theological perspective on the matter, and collect the various texts where the issue is adverted to. Our contribution is not wholly original: the position we hold, viz. the universality of Zarathushtra’s teachings, had been affirmed in a pamphlet prepared in the first decade of the 20th century by scholarly Zoroastrian priests; it was also supported by eminent Western scholars of Zoroastrianism. Several percipient dasturs over the last century had expressed remarkably similar views. In recent years a pamphlet addressing this issue was published by the Zoroastrian priest Dr Kersey Antia.

    The fallacious and bigoted view nevertheless continues to be promulgated. We were, however, disconcerted by recent articles from well-respected High-priests of Bombay, and express our disquietude at their arbitrary joint statement that a principle exists by which ZOROASTRIANISM DOES NOT ACCEPT CONVERTS, and further, that CONVERSION IS BOTH ILLEGAL AND INVALID (see Parsiana, November 1995, pp.29–34; Bombay Samachar, 24th December 1995). Apart from the fact that NO SUCH PRINCIPLE HAS EVER ARISEN WITHIN OUR RELIGION’S UNIVERSALIST SYSTEM, it is exceedingly difficult to understand just what they collectively mean by “illegal and invalid” – which LEGAL criteria have been applied, and why, and on what basis one can discredit an individual’s informed and deeply held SPIRITUAL belief, and its practice, as LACKING VALIDITY! Why are quasi-legal constraints sought to legislate against clearly formulated and agreed RELIGIOUS precepts? Conversion is not some idle hypothetical problem dismissible through misconstruing and disinformation. It cannot be made to vanish through arbitrary denials and empty nuances.

    Conversion is a practice apparently unacceptable among the Parsis today, and has been so for some 100 years. It is a social practice of the community for the establishment of which plausible reasons were perceived in the socio-political environment of the times. It must be clearly recognized that it is a matter of social practice affected by communal conditions, and not one of theological doctrine.

    A theology like Zarathushtra’s, based upon the grasp of the eternal and universal Truth by the divinely endowed Good Mind enabling us to implement the Righteous Order in existence, is so clearly a universal message that it would be altogether irrational to limit its acceptance and practice to a community identified by biological ancestry. Identifying religious commitment by birth is an extremely primitive form of tribalism, entirely incompatible with Gathic teaching. We are aware of the bizarre thesis that God places each soul into the womb of a mother belonging to a tribe and expects the individual so born to straightaway be imbued with the religious doctrines of that tribe! Apart from the intrinsic absurdity of this view, the slightest exposure to the words of Zarathushtra, with his emphasis on free-will, individual judgement, accountability and responsibility, enables us to recognize the anti-Zoroastrian character of this retrogressive view.

    We have long been acquainted with the suspect methodology by which attempts to assert the reverse of our religion’s injunctions regarding conversion have been made. They are in the nature of specious claims achieved by deliberate contrivance and simply do not correspond to the religion’s prayers and precepts.

    We encounter rather weak efforts at glossing our texts at the same time as claiming to “correctly” interpret them. Being unfocussed and groundless, they do not stand up to scrutiny, and yet it appears that the fictionalizing process is energetically, and deliberately, pursued. Among the minor but blatant fictions is the entirely false invocation of the Qisse-ye-Sanjan’s “five conditions” as proof that Jaydev Rana granted asylum to our forefathers provided that no conversion of his Hindu subjects was attempted. There is NO SUCH CONDITION among the five to which we supposedly agreed. Had there at all been any such irrational bargaining, how would it be compulsorily binding on future generations?

    Our eminently rational religion primarily urges a world-view based on clear-mindedness whereby the Good Mind aspect of Ahura Mazda may be attained in quest of Truth. Its texts – from the Gathas of Zarathushtra to the Persian Rivayats – extend over some two thousand eight hundred years, in the long course of which they responded to religious evolution, the compelling but conflicting ideologies of newer religions, and the unpredictable forces of a rapidly changing multi-levelled history. But understanding Zarathushtra’s logical theology enables one to recognize immediately its universally applicable teachings.

    That these texts may be distorted to suppress or yield meanings entirely alien or out of context is a wilful exercise against which we must take issue. Our priests surely should apply religious laws, for they too are subject to them, and not obscure socio-economic regulations which vaguely find their origins in dubious traditions. And the vociferous followers of such traditions would do well to also learn from our texts, being the root and branch of our universalist religion.

    WE MUST EMPHASIZE THAT NONE OF OUR LATER TEXTS CONTRADICT EARLIER RATIONALIZING PROCESSES, EVEN LESS THEIR UNIVERSALIST PURPOSE. BASED ON LOGIC, REASON, AND RATIONALITY, OUR PRAYERS AND SOCIO-RELIGIOUS PRECEPTS ARE CONSISTENT THROUGHOUT ON MATTERS OF ACCEPTANCE AND CONVERSION, IRRESPECTIVE OF MARRIAGE STATUS, AND IMPORTANTLY, WITHOUT ANY GENDER DISTINCTION WHATSOEVER BOTH FOR PRIESTLY AND LAY PERSONS.

    cont…

  • Zarathushtra Zarthosti

    THE EVIDENCE OF THE GATHIC TEXTS

    Many are agreed that these very ancient texts are the product of Revelation for the metrical Gatha-s themselves, and the work of Zarathushtra’s earliest inspired disciples for the prose part. The Gathic message comes as an intensely logical and voluntarily acceptable series of precepts carefully worked into their main purport – THE TRANSFIGURATION OF MAN FROM BRUTISHNESS TOWARDS SAINTLINESS. For whom is this message intended? The second of our Gathic kushti verses [Ys.44.16] clearly entreats Ahura Mazda, as Healer of Existence, to let his message, through Hearkening – Sraosha, come to WHOMSOEVER He wills it: we actually pray this each time we prepare to fasten on the kushti.

    The first stanza of the Ushtavaiti Gatha [Ys.43.1] is Zarathushtra’s benediction in the same vein: “May Ahura Mazda, who exercises sovereignty at will, grant blessings to WHOMSOEVER desires them”. In neither passage do we encounter the slightest hint that Ahura Mazda’s Revelation was meant only for a chosen few, still less a narrow ethnicity: it would be deceitful and disrespectful to suggest otherwise, since these stanzas are recited during the Yasna ceremony!

    The Gathic message reflects the single-minded purpose of the Revelation: just as Ahura Mazda is acknowledged as the Divine Healer of an existence corrupted by spiritual perversity, so too is Man destined through his own FREE-WILL to wage an earthly combat to regenerate the world, towards which end the good powers of Mazda are invoked [Ys.30.9]. “May we be those who shall renew THIS existence”, urges Zarathushtra, and we dutifully echo this sentiment in a stray line of our kushti prayer [Ys.50.11 and cp. 46.19]. Elsewhere it is the sovereignty of Ahura which is invoked for the Healing in accord with OUR wish [Ys.34.15].

    Zarathushtra was a realist who fervently hoped to bring to fruition Ahura Mazda’s Revelation that it was ALL mankind – lifted from barbaric tribalism to civilization – who would renew this world. Armed with this inspired precept, the Prophet of the Righteous Order – the New Order – would convert ALL the living [Ys.28.5]; again asking for the formula from “the very tongue of Ahura Mazda’s mouth” whereby ALL the living would be converted [Ys.31.3]; thereafter, that Spenta Mainyu, the Bountiful Spirit of Ahura Mazda, Right-mindedness and Truth shall come together to convert THE MANY WHO ARE SEEKING [Ys.47.6] !

    Indeed, the many came from near and far to seek Zarathushtra’s wisdom [Ys.45.1], emerging also in Yss.30.1 and 47.6. It must be noted here that Zarathushtra had uncompromisingly rejected all contemporary non-Mazdaean worship as hostile to the Revelation received from Ahura Mazda [Ys.44.11]. His Gathas are replete with the idea of CONVERSION from dregvant to ashavan. We shall presently deal with its historical devolution. After our Prophet’s demise, we continue to encounter the missionary activity of our fire-priests, athravans, who ranged afar to spread his religion [Ys.42.7]. The Vandidad lists the several lands where these early Zoroastrian missions had penetrated (Vd. Ch.1).

    We again emphasize that ALL the living are required for the work of Renovation, known to us as Frashokereti, the establishment of a universal Righteous Order. The Prophet did not, moreover, distinguish between the sexes when he assured both men and women: “O Ahura Mazda! WHOEVER, man or woman, I shall impel to Your invocation, with ALL these shall I cross the Chinvat Bridge” [Ys.46.10]. [See the Pahlavi paraphrase at end of article]

    Clearly, the religion of Zarathushtra is open to ALL persons of moral goodness and goodwill who would accept the Gathic Revelation. Reason tells us it would indeed be pointless if only a chosen few were enlisted for the great task, for despite all their pious endeavour, their good work would surely be rendered ineffective or even undone by the many not converted to the Mazdaean New Order – unaware of their bounden duty to society and to the world at large.

    Prophet Zarathushtra and the community of believers in Iran, ancient and mediaeval, and even today, took this to be A UNIVERSAL AND NOT A TRIBAL RELIGION, and on many historical occasions acted on that belief. There remains the act of worship inculcated, in the Haptanhaiti [Ys.39.2], towards the souls of righteous men and women, past, present, and future, WHEREVER THEY WERE BORN, which statement only the most obstinately inclined would see as a mere lip-service concession to people of other religions! Such reverence was accorded, rather, to all ashavans everywhere, in a wholly Gathic spirit, for their godly activity towards the Regeneration of the entire world.

    cont…

  • Zarathushtra Zarthosti

    The Fravardin Yasht

    The world-embracing Fravardin Yasht, a text as ancient as any in the post-dated syncretist Zoroastrianism, is a celebration of the fravashi, or pre-existent spiritual power of right-living men and women, those past, living, or to be born [Yt.13.21]. Included are the named religious heroes of early Zoroastrianism, as also its mythical and quasi-historical figures from the First Man to the future Saviours of Mankind. (Zarathushtra had counted ALL Truth-enhancing, right-living persons as Saviours, or saoshyants, who had cultivated the Good Mind!)

    Here it is that we find the categorical statement that ALL Truth-owning men and women whose religious views contribute to the fulfilment of the Renovation are worthy of reverence [Yt.13.154]. With every emphasis, this Yasht urges the veneration of the fravashis of ALL righteous men and women from ALL lands, including the infamous Turanians, the traditional enemies of Iran whose injurious activities against Zoroastrianism form the substance of many an ancient legend! But even more pertinent is the remarkable passage celebrating the birth of Zarathushtra [Yt.13.94]: “THEN WILL THE GOOD MAZDAYASNIAN RELIGION BE PROPAGATED AMONG THE SEVEN CLIMES OF THIS EARTH”!

    Our most sacred prayer of the Yatha ahu vairyo [Ys.27.13], which an early commentator tells us pre=existed Creation (so numinous did he consider it!), has to be correctly taught to the ENTIRE physical world, whereupon ALL of the living shall transcend mortality [Ys.19.6–7, 10–11]. The totality and universality of veneration of right-living men and women past and present, and those to be born, is indicated also by our Yasnas 23.3 and 26.6, the latter from our Satum-no-kardo!

    It is futile to still pretend that a universalism directed towards the Frashokereti does not involve conversion! Our priesthood solemnly intones such passages in the course of the Yasna ceremony – pious declarations which, as Zarathushtrian Mazdayasnian spiritual guides, they vow to religiously uphold. They should suit their beliefs to these sacred words, and not deny the true significance of our universally proselytizing prayers the moment they cease chanting them!

    The Vandidad, frequently misused to conform to closed-mindedness and religion-overriding personal dislikes, also strongly comes down on the side of conversion. Its Chapter 19.26, both in Avestan and its Pahlavi zand, shows Ahura Mazda responding to Zarathushtra’s query as to whether he should guide both the righteous and the wicked daeva-yasni-s, men and women, towards the Good Religion: “You should, O righteous Zarathushtra!” It is unequivocally explicit.

    cont…

  • Zarathushtra Zarthosti

    The Pahlavi Zartusht-namagh [Denkard VII] and other Pahlavi texts

    Prophet Zarathushtra’s (here Zartusht) piously compiled biography was given its final revision in the ninth century of the Common Era, well after the murder of the last Zoroastrian king. Islam was then secure in its ascendancy, and despite the obvious danger to our ancient religion, our Prophet’s biographers gave forthright views on Zartusht’s legendary life. The seventh book of the Denkard, our Mazdaean encyclopaedia, is fully devoted to this biography. Its first chapter does not baulk at declaring that ALL mankind are made knowledgeable in the Religion – hardly an idle academic exercise! – and Zartusht the Spitamid’s fravashi is to be venerated. Ohrmazd / Ahura Mazda previews the Prophet’s birth with his Amshaspands / Amesha Spentas: having a mouth and tongue, he will proclaim the Faith to the world incarnate – the entire physical world, for its spiritual welfare (Dk.VII.2).

    After he is born, Vohuman / Vohu Mana escorts Zartusht before the spiritual assembly so that his Good Religion may spread among the seven regions of the earth. The Prophet’s spiritual lordship is over the entire world (Ch.3). A Turanian – no less! – invites the kiks / kavis and karaps / karapans, both hitherto enemies of the New Faith, to accept the Prophet’s Mazdaic Religion. It will be remembered that his converted patron Vishtasp was a kavi, and Zartusht initiates him to his Religion by chanting aloud the Gathas. As token of the veracity and power of the New Religion, Ohrmazd sends Vohuman, Ashavahisht and his spiritual Fire to Vishtasp for its propagation in the world (Ch.4).

    The righteous Adurbad-i Mahraspand diffuses knowledge of the Religion in the world, and through his “ordeal” – misconstrued later as the picturesque Molten Brass affair! – convinced the wicked ones, the marvel of the Avesta being that it alone is a compendium of the most supreme expressions of Wisdom (Ch.5).

    In the Denkard’s Book IV we obtain the meaningful picture of Adurbad’s feat and resultant victory: “The King of kings Shahpur, son of Hormizd caused, through disputation, all the inhabitants of the country to be without fault, and brought all theological discussions to deliberation and examination. After ADURBAD WON THE CASE BY SEEMLY DISCOURSE against all those sectarians, students of the nasks, and heretics, he (the king) said: ‘Now that we have seen the Religion in existence, we shall not let anyone approach evil religion. We shall exercise greater zeal over this’. He indeed acted in this manner” [Shaul Shaked’s translation]. [Hormizd II, r.302–309; Shahpuhr II, r.309–379] What would have been the point of Adurbad’s public disputation and demonstration of the potency of the Avesta before a fourth-century multi-faith assembly if his purpose had not been one of conversion through the universal validity of the Religion?

    In the Sasanian period, despite strenuous and pointless denials, the Zoroastrian religion did address itself to all mankind. The contents of Denkard V, based on the sayings of Adurfarnbag-i Farrokhzadan, leader of the behdins, reflect an actively prevailing proselytizing effort urged by sound Sasanian doctrines. “The Creator Ohrmazd sends this Religion not only to the Kingdom of Iran but to the whole world and to every variety (of human beings) … which He has made widespread in the m?n?g [spiritual world] through the nature of a wise man, who thinks Truth and speaks Truth, and in the g?t?g [physical world] through actions of Truth. … But in order that all purity should be current in this world of mixture [of Good and Evil], all this Religion will become increased and its adversary diminished, until the Religion will attain to complete propagation and the world will come by that to purity.” [Based on Shaul Shaked’s transcription and translation in his ‘Esoteric Trends in Zoroastrianism’, PIASH, 1969, pp.178/9].

    Ancient mythico-geography divided up the world into seven keshvars or climes, of which Khwaniras / Khvaniratha was the central, Zoroastrian, region. Fifty-seven years after Zartusht received the Revelation from Ohrmazd, its acceptance was proclaimed throughout these seven regions from whose South-East and South-West continents came their High-priests to enquire from Vishtasp and Frashostar / Frashaoshtra – they came in search of Zartusht’s wisdom [Denkard VII, Ch.6]. We close this Seventh Book with Ohrmazd’s declaration: “Thereupon I, Ohrmazd, shall renovate the world and render everything vivified and ever full of advantage, desiring good rulership”, being Gathic reflexions [Yss.48.5 and 46.10] in Pahlavi garb.

    Not to be outdone, the ninth-century priest Zadspram provided a variant perspective on the Prophet: this time it is a karap, summoned by Zartusht’s own father to examine the supernatural infant – “When I looked all about”, said this mumbler-priest, “I saw again that the words of this one shall spread throughout the world, becoming the Law of the Seven Regions.“ [Wizidagiha, “Anthology”, 10.19]. Zartusht dreamt that the men of this world came towards the north, and at their head strode Medyomah / Maidyoimaonha (traditionally, his cousin-german) ….. who was the guide of all of mankind attracted towards Zartusht; it became evident that firstly Medyomah, and thereafter all of the physical beings are converted [Zsp. Ch.20]. The story is here told of a crestfallen Zartusht – he had until then converted only Medyomah – being reassured by Ohrmazd: “There will be days when fewer persons shall be converted by you”! [Ch.24].

    May it be noted here that the Pahlavi verb hakhtan covers the notion “to guide, to persuade, to convert”. The Gathic root hach– refers “to be associated with; to be applied to” (as in the well-known expression ashat.chit hacha, “associated with Truth itself”). Similarly intended is the Gathic root var– (Latin vertere, “to turn”; also its Sanskrit cognate) in the Prophet’s own times [Yss.28.5, 31.3, and 47.6]. The proselytizing trend had faithfully continued well over two millennia!

    The philosophical Book III of the Denkard commences its Chapter 172 thus: “All profession of the Good Religion bears upon the will and commandment of the Creator. WHEN ALL OF MANKIND WHICH IS IN THE MATERIAL WORLD COMES OVER TO THE PROFESSION OF THE GOOD RELIGION, THEN THE ASSAULT (OF EVIL) SHALL BE DESTROYED; all of Creation will attain to a purity without opposition and to perfect bliss: that is the Revelation of the Good Religion”! Stirring sentiments uttered during very difficult times when conversion in Iran to anything other than Islam was expressly banned – on pain of death!

    In the Shkand-gumanig vizar or “Doubt-dispelling Explanation” we note the proselytizing activities of the converted Kavi Vishtasp’s brother Zarir, and his son Isfandyar: “And Kay Spand-dad and Zarer, and other governors and nobles, warriors and militants, adopted the [Zoroastrian] din such that they journeyed as far as Rum [= Asia Minor] and into India, beyond the confines of Iran in propagating the din”. [SGV, Ch.10.67-68].

    Even later, we find conversion by the age of fifteen to the Weh-den – our Good Zoroastrian Religion – being enjoined in the case of a child born from an illicit union between a weh-din / behdin and a woman of different faith, on failing which duty the Zoroastrian father is deemed to have committed the gravest of sins – he becomes margarzan, “worthy of death”! [Pahlavi Rivayat-i Emed-i Ashavahishtan, Question 42 with its response in 42.4]. The open welcome accorded children born out of wedlock is realistically and responsibly dealt in Chapter XV of the Videvdat / Vandidad, with expanded treatment in its Pahlavi zand. Present throughout is the concern that the child is brought up in the Mazdayasnian faith by its father.

    cont…

  • Zarathushtra Zarthosti

    The Persian Rivayats (1448–1773)

    It was popularly believed that contact between the Indian Jarthostis and the Iranian Zardushtis had been severed for several centuries, apart from the occasional brave refugee fleeing Islamic persecution, economic hardship, and impoverishment in the Fatherland. In India, where conditions were far less harsh, the Parsis of Gujarat had lapsed into adoption of several local Hindu customs and beliefs. Certainly, Hindu names proliferated among provincial Parsis, and ritual had succumbed to much adulteration. Matters having doubtless come to a head, the concerned davar Changa Asa of Navsari and some co-religionists determined upon obtaining authoritative answers to several questions of doctrine, ritual, and practices. The first Parsi emissary, Nariman Hoshang, was sent at great personal risk, along dangerous routes to the priests in Iran in 1478 and again in 1487.

    Among the answers brought back in response to questions from the Parsis, one addressed the problem of conversion: “If slave-boys and girls have faith in the Good Religion, then it is proper that kushti should be (given to them to be) tied [that is, they should be converted to Zoroastrianism], and when they become intelligent, attentive to religion and steadfast, they should give them barashnum, and it is also proper and allowable to eat anything out of their hands”!

    For some who irresponsibly wish to exclude children from the religion of their Zoroastrian fathers – legitimately born from exogamous unions or born out of wedlock by Parsi fathers from non-Parsi mothers – then we must present an even stronger guideline from the 1599 [= the same year as the Qisse-ye Sanjan] Kaus Mahyar Rivayat whose response includes categories from even lower-deemed persons: “Can a grave-digger, a corpse-burner and a darvand become behdins (i.e., be converted to the Mazdayasnian religion)?” Its answer: “If they observe the rules of Religion steadfastly and (keep) connection with the Religion, and if no harm comes on the behdins (thereby), it is proper and allowable”! Burial and cremation are the customary methods of corpse disposal among Christians and Muslims for the former, and among Hindus for the latter. These practitioners are regarded with abhorrence in Zoroastrianism; yet they are allowed after conversion into the Mazdayasnian faith. “Darvands” refer to these and all others!

    We cannot help wondering how often such proof of steadfastness and religious knowledge is demanded from “racially pure” Parsis to test their suitability for continuing in the faith of Zarathushtra. We do not thereby imply indiscriminate or mass conversion of those who express a superficial or selfish interest in our Religion. In the West serious enquirers have exhibited an affinity and sure grasp of its knowledge far exceeding the average Parsi’s whose xenophobia thinly masks his own woeful religious deficiency. The no-nonsense translations (1932) from the Rivayats given above are by an orthodox scholar-priest, Ervad Bomanji N. Dhabhar. It is worth pointing out that attempts were clumsily made to have these disconcerting passages declared unauthentic!

    The Itthoter Rivayat of 1773 was the last in the series of exchanges between India and Iran which had endured for nearly three hundred years. The replies to the 78 questions from the Parsi Zoroastrian dasturs of Broach and Surat, taken to Iran by Mulla Kaus Jalal, were signed by nine Iranian dasturs and nine religiously well-versed behdins.

    Here is Question 13 with its replies dealing both with conversion and exposure within dakhmas: “In this quarter the behdins of Hindustan acquire large numbers of young Indian boys and girls as servants, and then use them for household chores. Once they have taught them the Avesta and have got them to wear the kushti and sudreh according to the rites of the Zoroastrian religion, they consecrate the daron-i gahanbar and other things which they have them prepare. Water and food also are taken from them by the mobeds and behdins of Hindustan. Yet when they die, those mobeds and behdins do not allow their bodies to be placed in the dakhma, claiming that they are sons of darvands, and that it would be unseemly to mix the bones of the behdins with theirs. Thus, while these people are alive they make use of them for all the religious preparations, and after their death they do not allow them to be laid in the dakhma. The question is, therefore, whether it is proper or not to lay their bodies in the dakhma. Let them write to clarify this matter”.

    The very forthright answer came: “Concerning the acquisition of young men and women who are juddins as servants, the mobeds and behdins must first of all show care for their own religion, for their own rituals, for their personal property, and for their own soul so as not to face losses. TEACHING THE AVESTA TO THE SONS OF THE JUDDINS WHO HAVE BEEN ACQUIRED AND CONVERTING THEM TO THE DIN-I BEH-I MAZDAYASNAN EARNS ONE GREAT MERIT! What is instead exceedingly blameworthy and non-conformant with the opinion of the members of the din-i behi is the fact that the mobeds and behdins of Hindustan should eat food prepared by those youngsters while they live, and then once they die and stand to face God’s mercy, they should make such base comments about their poor bodies, arguing inappropriately that they are sons of juddins and that their mortal remains should not be united with those of the behdins in the dakhma. IT IS NOT RIGHT! Such iniquitous arguments do not profit the Religion of Zaratusht and the Righteous Path, and whoever behaves in this way and does not allow their bodies to be laid in the dakhma is, according to the Religion MARGARZAN and guilty before Mehr and Srosh. Indeed it is necessary for the mobeds and behdins to show greater mercy for these youngsters and to allow the bodies of the deceased ones to be laid in the dakhma according to the rules of the din-i behi, and this will be A SOURCE OF GLADNESS FOR ORMAZD AND THE AMESHASFANDS.

    “Here we have heard from the magniloquent speeches of the dasturzade Dastur Kaus, worthy successor of the deceased Dastur Rostam, that several dasturs, mobeds and behdins across most of the country [Hindustan] stand in the way and are an impediment and have agreed not to teach these youngsters the Avesta and not to convert them to the din-i beh-i mazdayasnan. THIS IS UNREASONABLE AND ALIEN TO THE TRADITION. May the Beloved Ones prosper! In the second fargard of the Jud-div-dad [Vandidad] the Creator of the righteous material world has ordered the honourable Zaratusht Esfantaman anushe-ravan TO LEAD ALL MEN TO THE DIN-I BEHI, to the Main Path, to edify His joy, His glory and His honour.

    “Secondly, at the time of Hoshidar-mah, Hoshidar-bami and Siavashans [= the three Millennial Saviours of Zoroastrianism] ALL THE JUDDINS WILL BE CONVERTED TO THE DIN-I BEHI. It follows that according to the din-i behi it is appropriate and necessary to convert these youngsters. IT IS A VERY GREAT MERIT AND A RIGHTEOUS GOOD DEED. Therefore, those who hinder this and are against it can be considered as BELONGING TO THE RELIGION OF THE JUDDINS, and they are not even aware of the Origin and of the other world. THEY PROCEED ALONG THE PATH OF ABERRATION AND VANITY AND ACCORDING TO THE RELIGION IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO DEFINE THEM AS BEHDINS, SINCE IF THEY WERE BEHDINS THEY WOULD INCREASE THE DIN-I BEHI.” [From Mario Vitalone’s Itthoter translation].

    Our learned priest, Ervad Sheriarji Bharucha, an excellent philologian thoroughly versed both in Zoroastrian religious traditions and Parsi social mores, had used the authentic Persian text and a Gujarati translation of this Itthoter Rivayat for his pro-conversion argument in the early 20th century. A little later his English translation was published posthumously as part of a wide-ranging article, “Is Zoroastrianism preached to all mankind or to one particular race?” One can only wonder at the sharp contrast between the socio-religious attitudes of the learned priesthood of former times in India and those of today who surely cannot be ignorant of the religious precepts followed by their progenitors which so clearly and unambiguously set out the case for conversion.

    From the same 1773 Rivayat comes the question and answer (Q&A 4) concerning subjection to priestly authority when the dastur deliberately misleads the beh-dins. The brunt of this anxious question is: “If there is a dastur who wilfully or not, due to his eloquence, were to deliberately lead the beh-dins onto the wrong path, towards aberration and falsehood, and was to speak in a way which is contrary to the religious books, in that case should the beh-dins be subject to the authority of such a dastur or not?”

    The answer is very firm: “With regard to the dastur who behaves and speaks in an erroneous manner, in the case of it being obvious that the dastur in question, wilfully or not, due to his own eloquence, is consciously moving towards the path of falsity and the desert of aberration, and showing others the path of fault and vanity and speaks in a way which is contrary to the books and religious customs, such a dastur is margarzan [= a sin deserving of death!], since the din-e veh of Zaratosht Esfantaman is as luminous as the sun, and the one who draws away from the path of light and consciously goes towards the path of his own darkness is not unlike the devil. The beh-din who obeys such a dastur and recognizes his authority, he too is margarzan and resembles a malevolent spirit”. [From Mario Vitalone’s “The Persian Revayat ‘Ithoter’”, pp.150, 151.]

    The reference to the dasturs who misguide “towards the path of falsity and desert of aberration” is to those who teach “contrary to the books and religious customs”. In the Vandidad’s Chapter 18, §§1–5, these false priests are to be disowned; in §§8–10, an extreme penalty is to be inflicted upon such deviants!

    Could it be that today they care not to attend to these authentic contents of our sacred books? How are these authoritative texts explained by them to priestly and lay novitiates? How are Irani Zardushti perspectives reconciled by them, if ever? Are the several problems arising at all seriously discussed in Zoroastrian seminaries, or are they simply brushed aside as irksome, irrelevant, perhaps to be superseded by the ritualistic primacy of later textual confections? It would be constructive to have straight answers to questions of such direct importance to the well-being and progress of our minuscule communities scattered world-wide from India since the 1950’s, and 1980’s from Iran.

    cont…

  • Zarathushtra Zarthosti

    An overdue rectification: from Pseudo-history to Historicity

    Cyrus II and the first Achaemenids. The treatment of historical records by our priests is capricious to a degree, either ignoring or deliberately confusing the evidence of royal inscriptions in Iran. Thus we see a wilful misuse of a foreign source – Deutero-Isaiah – to fit in with their non-conversion stance, brought in as proof of Cyrus II’s tolerance, and therefore exclusion! of alien faiths and leniency towards the subject peoples. In itself the great Iranian emperor’s exaltation is praiseworthy: he is “the anointed of Yahweh”, the Abrahamic deity. On his famous “cylinder” he acknowledges only Marduk, and neither Mazda nor Mithra!.

    The 6th century BCE Jews of the Babylonian Captivity indeed had cause to so elevate their Persian liberator. But the cosy assumption thenceforth that all his Achaemenid successors were equally tolerant is to stretch credibility too far, especially when we read in Darius I’s political testament at Behistun of his strict religiosity. In a quite Gathic tone, he declares to his successors: “Proclaims Darius, the king: You, whosoever shall be king hereafter – the man who shall be a FOLLOWER OF FALSEHOOD [martiya haya draujana], or (the man) who shall be an EVIL-DOER [zurakara], to those may you not be friendly, (but) punish them severely” [DB.IV.67–69 (Rudiger Schmitt trl.)]. Draujana is a daeva-yasnian.

    At Persepolis his son and successor Xerxes I went one better: “Among these countries there was (a place) where previously FALSE GODS [daiva / daeva] were worshipped. Afterwords, by favour of Auramazda, I destroyed that sanctuary of the demons [daivadana], and I made proclamation, ‘The demons shall not be worshipped!’ Where previously the demons were worshipped, there I worshipped Auramazda and Arta [Asha] reverently” [XPh.35–41 (Kent trl.)]. Xerxes’ religious tolerance was very thin, and obviously selective; it has been substituted for expediency and political astuteness. Historical hard facts do not lie; their fictionalizing can and frequently does. When misused, as by the unfocussed present-day priesthood, they become dangerous tools which misinform the unwary and distort proper perspectives.

    In the face of continued misleading assertions that no conversions to Zoroastrianism were attested for Sasanian times, we feel it right to place the true historical facts before our readers. The major religious figure under the earliest five rulers of the Sasanian dynasty was Kirdir / Kartir. The name was not his title; that most boastful prelate himself tells us of his rapid rise through the priestly hierarchy from simple herbadh / ervad to mobadh / mobed of Ohrmazd; Judge over the (whole) empire; Soul-saver of Bahram II (the king’s “chaplain”); Director and Authority of the Anahid-Ardashir and the Lady Anahid Fire-temples at Stakhra; Ayenbed or custodian of religious ceremonial procedures. This is what he claims to have inflicted upon non-Zoroastrians: he ensured that “great blows and torment befell Ahriman and the demons, and the heresy of Ahriman and the demons departed and was routed from the Empire. And Jews and Buddhists and Hindus and Nazarenes and Christians and Baptists and Manichaeans were smitten in the Empire, and idols were destroyed and the abodes of the demons were disrupted and made into thrones and seats of the gods ….. And the heretics and the destructive men, who in the Magian land did not adhere to the doctrine regarding the Mazdayasnian religion and the rites of the gods – them I punished, and I tormented them until I made them better ….. And MANY MEN WHO WERE UNBELIEVERS BECAME BELIEVERS, AND MANY WERE THOSE WHO HELD THE DOCTRINE OF THE DEMONS, AND ON ACCOUNT OF ME THEY LEFT THAT DOCTRINE OF THE DEMONS ….. “ [MacKenzie trl., paralleled by others]

    Our readers will agree that nothing less than FORCIBLE CONVERSIONS were being described. Kirdir’s name and fame may have been marginalized in priestly memories and forgotten in our extant Pahlavi and Pazand texts; the great man has, however, left records incised on stone which may be read to this day in Fars province in Iran. He was powerful enough in his own right to have his relief portraits carved alongside those of royalty – a unique privilege not accorded any other prelate in Sasanian times. His history may have been suppressed, for whatever reason, but the man and his labours in the cause of third century Zoroastrian orthodoxy have emerged in the clear light of 20th century research.

    The new Zoroastrian orthodoxy was unsuccessfully forced upon the Armenian Christians by Mihr-narseh, Prime Minister under the three notable fifth century Sasanian kings, Yazdgard I, Bahram V, and Yazdgard II. The first-named monarch was detested by the priesthood for his tolerance of the other faiths co-existing in Iran; the second for his religious disinterest; but the last was called “The Clement” (!) by the Mazdaean priests because he enforced the conversion order against the Armenians. That edict was refuted by eighteen unimpressed Christian bishops, and ultimately proved unenforceable despite the still-remembered bloodshed at Avarayr, in the name of Mazda, of 451 CE.

    Mihr-narseh’s conversion activity, like the above-mentioned precedents, has been passed over in silence, and even outrightly denied, by our embarrassed priesthood, and it not being our purpose to press further upon them historical issues dealing with well-attested forcible conversions, we let these rest for now.

    Very much nearer in time, however, and again from Iran, came the consensus statement under the seal of the Tehran Council of Mobadhs, signed by Mobadh Ardeshir Azargoshasp, published in the Bombay Samachar columns dated 3rd February 1991. It bore the heading, taken from its concluding paragraph: “WE MUST PERSEVERE TO PROPAGATE OUR RELIGION AND ACCEPT PERSONS WHO WANT TO EMBRACE IT” – a carefully considered and wholly responsible document of intent. Is Iranian Zoroastrianism, then, so very different doctrinally from Indian Parsiism that it can unreservedly, yet prudently, express such a divergent – indeed contrary – view on the subject of acceptance / conversion?

    cont…

  • Zarathushtra Zarthosti

    A Pazand prayer: “Kalma-i din” / “Din-no kalmo”

    The navjote, or formal initiation into the Zoroastrian fold, is normally performed for a child fo seven to eleven years of age. Among the prayers declaimed by the officiating priest and dutifully repeated by the young candidate is the Pazand Affirmation of the Faith, popularly known as the Kalma-i din or the Din-no kalmo. Its Avestan prologue translates as “(This is) the truest, most insightful Mazda-given righteous Good Religion of the Mazda worshippers”. The Pazand follows: “The good, true and perfect Religion, which GOD HAS SENT FOR THE PEOPLES OF THIS WORLD, is that which Zarathushtra has brought. That Religion is the Religion of Zarathushtra, the Religion of Ahura Mazda revealed to the righteous Zarathushtra”.

    The importance of this Affirmation prayer or kalma and the circumstances of its exchange between priest and novitiate cannot be sufficiently emphasized. It is recited by a qualified priest over a sacred flame, spiritually symbolic of Truth and Purity, particular to this crucial admission ritual (the navjote). It represents the child’s solemn investiture with the physical symbols of sudreh and kushti (or sadro-kasti). Its veracity is ratified immediately after by the declaration, again recited and repeated, of the Ashem vohu or Laudation of Truth formula. Not least, it is performed before invited guests, friends and relatives, who are witness to the solemn ceremony with its sacrosanct significance. The initiate is henceforth deemed to have entered the age of responsibility and self-accountability, and life-long solemn commitment to the true tenets of his/her newly embraced faith.

    This is the faith which the priests formally confer for all lifetime upon the initiate in the sacred names of Ahura Mazda and his Prophet Zarathushtra. Ervad Kavasji Kanga (respected to this day as “Kangaji”) had, around the turn of the 20th century, translated this universalist Kalma passage into Gujarati thus: “ ….. Din, je dadar hormazde ai dunyana lokone mate mokli …..” He then glosses this extract, “je asho jarthostne (ai dunyama felavane-mate dadar hormazde) api hati” – “which He, the Creator Hormazd / Ahura Mazda, gave to the righteous Zarathushtra for propagation in this world”.

    Ervads Sheriarji Bharucha and Jivanji Modi, both experts in the languages of our Religion’s teachings and commentaries, closely agreed with Kangaji in their respective English renditions of our Kalma-i din. The former had added, “In the face of this recital and acknowledgement would it not be absolutely wrong to deny the right of every man of the world to embrace the Religion of Zarathushtra; and when a person applies to a Zoroastrian priest to admit him into his Religion, how can he refuse? Surely, if he does, IT WOULD BE A DERELICTION OF DUTY ON HIS PART”!

    It is indeed assumed that there is a clear understanding of the Kalma prayer’s contents amongst us who, since childhood initiation, devoutly offered it to Ahura Mazda in the name of Mazdayasna zarathushtrish. If so, then surely our practical acknowledgement must reflect our piously held spiritual affirmation. The Kalma as we have it today harks back at least to 14th century Iran where deeply learned Zoroastrian priests committed it to their Sad Dar [= “Hundred Subjects”] ritual compilation. Its Chapter I, §§1, 2 contains: “The first subject is this, that it is necessary that they become steadfast in the Religion, and do not introduce any hesitation and doubt into the heart.” || “And that they make a statement with confidence, that the Good Religion, the true and perfect, which the Lord sent into the world is that which Zaratusht has brought; which is this I hold”.

    The Sad Dar injunctions were collated by knowledgeable teaching-priests who studied, cared deeply for, and preserved the Mazdayasnian faith in Islamic Iran. They wrote in Persian with an admixture of some mere 4% of Arabic, ever cautious to not overtly clash with Musulman authorities whose ire would fall, as a matter of course, upon the lay practitioners of our ancient religion. Those pious ones, solicitous for the wrlfare of Mazdayasna and its practitioners in its native land, utilized whatever was available of the ancient texts and their enshrined teachings with circumspection, experience, and adaptability to change.

    It is increasingly forgotten that it was the beleaguered Iranian Zoroastrian priesthood, and not the Parsis, who piously preserved and painstakingly copied such ancient manuscripts as were to hand. And it is to these stalwarts that we owe all our extant scriptures and commentarial literature which, in the greatly troubled times of the 18th and 19th centuries, were transported to western India for safe-keeping and further study. Excellent editions are available to us today.

    cont…

  • Zarathushtra Zarthosti

    Difficulties within the Bombay Zoroastrian communities and those
    of the Diaspora lands

    Despite exposure of the feeble canard on non-conversion falsely implicating Jaydev Rana, we notice that this untruth is still being peddled by unscrupulous anti-conversion lobbyists for whom our authentic sacred teachings are anathema.
    Bombay indeed does have its particular difficulties with regard to acceptance of outsiders into the Zoroastrian faith (not into the Parsi fold!), but pleads especial social and economic reasons for religious non-compliance, Emphasis is placed on the Parsi socio-religious funds set up with the provisos that they benefit only the Parsis and that non-existent class of much touted “born Zoroastrians” (!).

    The priests have, apparently, permitted a loop-hole to conveniently allow the return of some religious back-sliders on the curious pretext that their conversion out was both “illegal and invalid”. This is untenable, for were it really so then we should not have had any obstacles denying exogamous Zoroastrian women their inalienable birthright of fire-temple visits, participation in gahanbars, and dakhma exposure. On such eventualities we were assured that by out-marrying they had voluntarily and knowingly (!) renounced their Zarathushtrian Mazdayasnian faith! It is distressingly evident that religious adherence is being determined quite arbitrarily, inconsistently, and unjustifiably from ad hoc misogynistic premisses.

    No less unpleasant is the wilful tendency of our Bombay prelates – to whom we once entrusted our religious and spiritual guidance – to manipulate texts to suit their predilections for a tribal religion despite the clearest injunctions to the contrary. One such piece of misinformation was noticed in a false statement that just one lone Parsi scholar had translated the verbal root var-, thrice located in exact contexts, as “to convert”. That this was palpably untrue was quickly brought to light with references to the sound scholarship of Kavasji Kanga, Khodabux Punegar, and Irach Taraporewala – all respected Parsi translators.

    Much is being made of the fact that our Parsi translators had also utilized “to choose”, “ward off / turn from (evil)”, “to convince”, “to cause to believe”. Permutations formed about the root var– can only convey expressions unambiguously suggestive of the drive for proselytism. A selective adherence to peripheral meanings, with the deliberate exclusion of the obviously embarrassing “to convert”, is exactly like insisting that “to stride; to pace; to stroll; to saunter; to promenade; to cause one foot to move ahead of the other” none of these should imply “to walk”! What, we ask, would be the point of Zarathushtra’s energetically repeated “convincing”, “causing to believe”, “turning away from (evil)” of seekers after Ahura Mazda’s wisdom, if his purpose and intent was not their conversion? We shall not labour the point further, having done so at length precisely for reasons of countering such manipulation of our religious texts and undermining the real importance of the conversion issue. We ourselves having no personal or vested interest, or even some secret agenda, we seek only a restitution of the Truth of our scriptures and commentarial literature.

    Around the turn of the 20th century several learned articles and factual religious statements were prepared by the practising Parsi Zoroastrians Darab Sanjana, Jivanji Modi, Sheriarji Bharucha, Tahmurasp Dinshahji Anklesaria, Kharshedji Rustamji Cama, and Maneckji Dhalla – all of whom had opined that if a person seriously wishes to embrace Zoroastrianism, then THERE IS NO BAR IN OUR RELIGION. Their conclusions were not based on vague beliefs but on THE STUDY AND AUTHORITY OF ZOROASTRIAN SCRIPTURES. Few in Bombay now care to recall these judicious pronouncements of our enlightened ancestors.

    Enlightenment is not some new fad brought about since the Parsi and Irani emigrations world-wide: it has always illumined the Zoroastrian psyche. Western scholars too, pioneer and modern-day, applying common sense to their disciplined scientific training, have arrived at the same conclusion: that ZOROASTRIANISM ENJOINS CONVERSION. No sensible Zoroastrian would advocate indiscriminate or mass conversion. He does, however, maintain firstly that in cases of intermarriage, non-Zoroastrian spouses, and the children from increasing exogamous unions be encouraged to embrace Zoroastrianism and integrate within the communities. Family harmony would thrive, apostasy disappear, and community stability benefit naturally from religiously inculcated social moves towards acceptance. The integrity and reputation of the noble and ancient institution of the Zoroastrian priesthood would be rightfully restored.

    Had the Bombay and Gujarat priests come straight out with the Religion’s Truth about conversion, thereafter explaining that owing to personal distaste or disinclination, or perhaps economic and socio-political pressures, now augmented by alien fundamentalist busybodies and wily opportunists, it was not possible to put our religiously inculcated precepts into practice. They could then have called a moratorium on this vexing issue. The self-respect of the Bombay and Gujarat communities, and its religious and populist leaders, would thereby have remained unassailed throughout the decades of needless obfuscation.

    However, what is seemingly appropriate for Indian Jarthostis cannot be rigidly imposed as religious dogma upon the rest of the Zoroastrian world where, evidentially, circumstances and needs are very different. Solutions similarly remain to be boldly tackled over the thorny questions of Calendars, Initiation, Intermarriage, Funerary procedures (especially regarding burial, cremation, secondary burials, non-Zoroastrian pall-bearers, post-mortem prayers) and all other matters of concern which our misled communities continue to irresponsibly and unwarrantedly shelve as “controversial”. Such matters of real concern to every right-thinking Zoroastrian will not resolve themselves through exclusion, procrastination, false teachings, disinformation, and obfuscation.

    Adding to the difficulties confronting our priesthood and the laity is the infiltration by those Parsis who have rejected Zoroastrianism for a moribund Theosophy: an insidious mix of doctrines incorporating ideas wholly alien to Zarathushtra’s theology are passed on to a gullible public as a modern extension of the Prophet’s teachings. There are also among the Parsis groups of followers of the latter-day receivers of secretly communicated pseudo-religious teachings, the less comprehensible the more revered they become!

    Such unZoroastrian views are being espoused by small vocal minorities. And though they certainly, under the principle of “freedom of conscience”, have full right to believe and declare these wholly alien notions, they must be seen for what they really are – PERVERSIONS OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE PROPHET ZARATHUSHTRA. Whilst publishing and preaching in India, they appear as itinerant preachers to promote their peculiar theosophies in parts of the world where Zoroastrians have recently settled, attempting to gain support amidst the uninformed by insinuating a tribal religion solely based upon blood-lines. Their insidious unZoroastrian propaganda – brazenly antithetic to Mazdayasna – slips through deceptive covers under variously styled “Orthodox”, “Traditionalist”, and “Conservative” labels whose speciosity is unbecoming of the Religion of Truth.

    The illuminating message of the Prophet is craftily avoided, displaced, and even marginalized. The life of moral striving and the goal of establishing the Rule of Righteousness is utterly ignored. For whatever unpleasant reasons, our authentically Zoroastrian priesthood seems paralyzed to denounce or counteract such unprincipled infiltrations, preferring to divert attention to imagined threats from phantasms. These difficulties indeed lie with the Indian priesthoods.

    We do not wish to engage in pointless disputation. Ours is a plea for Enlightenment, which is already embedded in the words of the Prophet. We urge our enlightened dasturs, as true religious guides, to articulate this Wisdom and not fail the Sage whose teachings they profess. We jointly feel that a cultured, enlightened, educated and teaching priesthood represents our best hope for the propagation of the Faith and the continuance of its glory – the khwarrah-i din – well into the next millennium, the Fourth of our Prophet Zarathushtra who was sent to us to perfect this world through our own perfection.

    Kaikhosrov D. Irani and Farrokh J. Vajifdar
    New York – London, 1996

    ** ** ** ** **

  • Zarathushtra Zarthosti

    Additional Notes

    [Notes from Marijan Molé, Culte, Mythe, et Cosmologie dans l’Iran ancien.
    Re: Ys.46.10 (p.249): “The man or woman who shall have given him ‘the best things of existence’ will follow the Prophet over the ?invat Bridge”.
    (p.342, Phl. trl. (archaic transcr.; cf. Dhabhar, PYV, p.203) of Ys.46.10d, e:
    [d} ‘ke-? h??am ’o ‘h?n i šm?h ny?yišn (’o d?n i šm?h)
    [e] fr?? ‘oyš?n harvisp ’pat ?ih vitarak fran?mend (ku ‘oyš?n Zartuxšt h?višt
    ’hend ham?k garotm?n?k ‘hend).
    [d] “Those whom I shall convert to your worship (to your religion),
    [e] shall all these cross over the ?invat bridge (that is to say, the disciples of
    Zoroaster shall all go into Gar?tman)”
    According to this interpretation [Note 5: See also Bak 15 (Dk.IX.61.7–10)], the passage over the ?invat bridge depends, in the first place, on the acceptance of the religion of Zoroaster. Moreover, this wholly conforms to the tradition; similarly according to Vid?vd?t XIX, as well as the Varštm?nsr Nask and the Višt?sp Yašt, the soul’s salvation depends on acceptance of the religion [Note 6: See above, p.291, and below, p.355f.]. || fran?ftan = “to profess, propagate faith”.
    ______________________________________________________________________

    [Zand ? Wahman Yasn, IV.67]: “?d?n weh guft ?hrmazd ? spit?m?n zardušt ku be xw?n ud warm be kun, pad zand ud p?zand wiz?rišn be ??š, ? ?rbad?n ud h?wišt?n g?w, ud pad g?h?n fr?z g?w?nd” – “Thus spoke well Ohrmazd to Zoroaster son of Spitama: ‘Read and memorize, teach the interpretation by zand and p?zand, say it to the ?rbads and h?wišts, and they shall speak it forth in the world.” [Shaked, Esoteric Trends in Zoroastrianism, p.192 n.46]
    _____________________________________________________________________

    H?wišt, generally taken to mean “pupil”, “disciple”, or even “apprentice”, is also a term for a rank of priest who is not so fully qualified as the ?rbad was expected to be, but who functioned as priest and who could vie with the ?rbad over priestly functions. Both acted as preceptors, and were mostly engaged in teaching. In the ZWY, for example, it is said that one of the signs of the tenth century (of its compilation?), near the end of the world, will be the following: “aw?š?n ke pad ?rbad?h ud h?wišt?h n?m bar?nd ?wag ? did r?y wad xw?h?nd ud ?h?g g?w?nd ud ?h?g abar niger?nd” [ZWY, IV.39] – “Those who are known to be in the position of ?rbad and h?wišt will wish evil to each other and will talk of [each other’s] faults and see faults [in each other]”. [Cf. Denkard III.338 on the separation of the Original Doctrine and Heresy].
    _____________________________________________________________________

    ?? “The spirit of Zoroaster’s teachings is such that wide dissemination of the faith seems essential to it.” (Shaul Shaked, “Dualism in Transformation” (SOAS, London, 1994, p.75).

    KHSHNAOTHRE AHURAHE MAZDAO

  • Rémi

    Hello all!

    Besides the well-known Gatha verses, Din-no Kalmo and Persian Rivayets, here are a few lines from the Book 4 of Denkard which are seldom taken into account (Data from

    Para 20, 1st translation :
    “Shahpuhr king of kings, son of Ohrmazd [Hormizd] [Shahpuhr II] warred with the kings of all countries and made them believers in Ohrmazd. And he created a taste (for religion) among all people by means of speeches. And he made them investigators of religion. And at last Adarbad [Mahraspandan] by his admonitions [trial by ordeal] made the people religious and secured their salvation from hell. And this supreme high priest placed before all the non-Zoroastrians an explanation of all the different Nasks of the Avesta. Upon which some who accepted the faith confessed to this effect — ‘we have seen with our eyes every point of the faith and hence every one of us is sure to abandon his evil religion, and we shall keep up our efforts for the faith.’7 And they did accordingly.”

    Para 20, 2nd translation :
    “The King of Kings, Shapuhr, son of Ohrmazd (Shapur II), summoned men from all lands to an unprejudiced (?) disputation to examine and investigate all creeds. After Adurbad had been vindicated by the consistency of his argument, he issued a declaration before all those representatives of the different sects, doctrines, and schools in this wise: ‘Now that we have seen the Religion upon earth, we shall not tolerate false religion and we shall be exceedingly zealous.’ And thus did he do.”

    End of Para 23:
    “Hence intellectual strangers continue coming to this place (i.e. Iran) for (studying) the Ohrmazd-worshipping divine religion. Explanation of the Mazda-worshipping faith is afforded to people from the outside who continue coming to obtain connection with and zeal for the new religion. And the Dasturs after many (religious) researches with still greater zeal travel and instruct those who cannot come there (i.e. to Iran) for the work of obtaining the benefit of the faith.”

    I don’t imply from these quotes that proselytizing is right, but according to them changing one’s religion to Zoroastrianism occured under Sassanian rule.

  • phiroze

    Piloo,
    What I want you, ZZ and others to believe and understand is that the Parsi anjumans of India are not going to agree to any of the above. They would like you to practice what you preach and leave them alone. They ahve already made it very clear in the last meeting in September 2010.
    You and the rest have to now start thinking of ways and means to provide the infrastructure for the new converts all over the seven regions of the world. So instead of wasting time giving lengthy discourses, start acting on them.

  • Religious but Rational

    ‘PHIROZE”,
    So in times tro come, all our Trust properties will become Museums for a tribe which became extinct due to ‘far sightedness’ of a few loudmouths.

  • phiroze

    RBR,
    So, if we go by your rational that time will come a lot soooooner. GUARANTEED
    Any skeletons in the closet????

  • Byram Sidhwa

    R bur R. Any idea of the models that will be on display in the museum you refer to. I assume they will be all archaelogical ‘marvels’ -scatterbrains.
    And someone will have to offer inducements to visit such a museum.like free snacks. Else such places will be taken over by encroachers, mark my words.