Yesterday we published an editorial by Jehangir Patel titled “A Parsi Trupti Please”.
Below is a rebuttal to the same by Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram, Editor of Frashogard
The ubiquity of Whats-app means that even on days when prayer and reflection is necessary, the peace is broken by the incessant beep announcing one more message. When such beeps resound early in the morning, their shrillness seems even more pronounced and urgent…is it some good news, or a harbinger of doom, some calamitous occurrence or a friend on another continent sending a message oblivious of the time difference?
This morning’s non-stop messages from a stream of friends and colleagues was none of the above. As I sat down to read the hastily scanned photos of some newspaper article, my curiosity levels went up and then down, replaced by a sense of bewilderment… the author’s thinking process seemed disoriented; he jumped from one seemingly unconnected topic to another, interspersed with deep pangs of regret, sorrow, frustration, even anger! By the time I finished, my heart was suffused with deep compassion and an overwhelming need to reach for the nearest box of tissues – to pass on to Mr. Jehangir Patel, Editor of Parsiana, who seemed to have jumped from the boundaries of his irrelevant magazine to the national media…ah! some recognition at last!
But what was this? Not some jubilant celebration of another ‘Navjote’ of the child of religiously indeterminate parents, neither the raucous call to attention -‘we are dying out, let’s intermarry and die out quicker!’, nor some fake seminar or government sponsored exhibition showing Parsi dodos on the way to extinction…, nor some un-scholarly paper spouting views a million miles removed from true Zoroastrianism…
This article was none of the above…It was a cry of frustration, a wail of helplessness, a moan of resignation, a howl of indignation…all interspersed with an audacious attempt to attract the attention of trouble makers… ‘have you finished with other communities? please please, now it’s the turn of the Parsis! Won’t you come and further wreck our already troubled institutions? Won’t you come and save us from the traditionals?’ Really Jehangir, you have outdone yourself this time! Wah Saheb! Wah!
What was the real crux of Jehangir’s article? What is the take-home message? What do we infer, apart from the obviously unhinged state of the author’s nerve-wracked mind?
It is this: that despite the best attempts of the last one hundred years; in spite of the obscene amounts of money used to coerce, buy, threaten and bribe ‘priests’; regardless of the very top echelons of the Parsi community showing their disdain for traditional Zoroastrianism; notwithstanding all the scholarly and not-so-scholarly articles published in so-called community magazines like the one headed by Mr. Patel; even with the intense publicity and brazen displays of photos ‘commemorating’ and ‘honouring’ fake, illegal, illicit and totally spurious ‘Navjotes’ and ‘weddings’; in the face of long sentimental articles on new ‘prayer halls’ and ‘cremations’ and ‘burials’; despite the alarming calls to attention highlighting fake statistics and spurious tallies of births and deaths; and after spending millions of rupees of the community’s precious resources in needless litigation, despite all this and so much more, Mr. Patel and others of his ilk just can’t understand – why is the community still so resolutely orthodox? Why are the traditionals still flourishing? Why did only 15 hands out of 180 in a hall of 16-year-olds go up when asked whether they would marry outside the community? Why are female Parsis allowing themselves to be ‘discriminated’ against? Why no uproar in our community, when others are going berserk, demanding entry into places of worship which have been traditionally restricted by age or sex?
Much like the honourable Brutus on the streets of tempestuous Rome, Mr. Patel tries to arouse, instigate and rabble-rouse the mindless crowd of curious onlookers in the national media, after having failed to achieve much within the community. ‘Come, come, fight for us! Save us! Free us from the yoke of the traditionals!’ It is not that Mr. Patel does not love us traditionals. It’s just that he loves the community more! He is a learned man, who cites legal cases and definitions, drawing conclusions that would make even a first year law college student shake his head in disbelief! But of course, Mr. Patel is an honourable man!
I am so glad that a firm reformist like Mr. Jehangir Patel has finally belled the cat and called the sugar and milk story what it really is – a bogus fabrication! Perhaps that will stop some of our superbly intelligent but religiously ignorant Parsi hoi-polloi repeating the same ad nauseum, specially in front of political leaders at so-called Utsavs. It was our revered Master, Ustad Saheb Behramshah N. Shroff, who first clarified that the story was wrong – no sugar was used, it was the gold ring on the finger of Dastur Nairyosangh Dhaval which was dipped into the bowl of milk – signifying our intention to settle at the very bottom of Indian society, maintaining our unique religious and racial identity, and yet proving as precious as the ring. If it were sugar, we would all have disappeared long ago! Now wouldn’t that have been nice, Mr. Patel!
Mr. Patel, Parsis were only 2000 men, women and children when they landed on the shores of Sanjan. They did not start a community magazine at that time, they did not debate whether a mere 2000 would survive in the millions around them, they did not indulge in inter-community marriages to increase their number, they never held World Zoroastrian Congresses to ponder over their future, nor did they waste their precious resources in needless fights and litigation.
No Sir, the first thing they did after landing was to meet the generous King and ask for a very secluded place – a place so secluded that no non-Parsi could even hear what was going on – leave alone see, or participate. There they got together, and under the leadership of the Master Dastur Nairyosangh Dhaval and His team of Spiritual Adepts, Alchemists, skilled workers and others who had nothing to offer but pure labour of love for the religion – those 2000 Parsis – men, women and children set up a most powerful spiritual institution – The Pav Mahel built around the Iranshah.
It is this Spiritual Institution that is our Lord and Master – it is this Pav Mahel that has sustained us for 1200 years in this country. It is the power in this unique Foundation that has made us flourish and show our mettle and nobility, such that a mere 1 lakh can shine in 1 billion.
And it is this hidden power which resides within the Sanctum of the Iranshah that is holding this community together, despite the best efforts of Mr. Patel and many others like him. And it is this same power which will continue to flummox them and overturn their nefarious activities. They may have all the money, all the sophistication, all the influence, they may even win over those who are supposed to be the very Custodians of this Great Institution, but in the end they will never achieve success. They will keep failing.
Nearly a century ago, our revered Master Ustad Saheb Behramshah said: “Mor naachi naachine potana pag taraf joene chevate rade tem kom na sudharavalao thodi dini andhadhundhi ane khanakharabi ubhi kari sakshe pan chevate teo potej naashne pathe pugshe. Je kharabio peda padvani che tene koi purepuri roki shakvanu nathi, pan parsi kom ane Zarthosti dharamni gebi pasbani thaine ubhi rehvani che.”
“Just as peacock will dance in all its finery, but look at its ugly legs and have no option but to cry, so also the Reformists will be able to create some disturbance and disorder, but in the end they will be destroyed. The various offences and misdemeanours which are to take place in our community cannot be completely stopped by anyone. But the Hidden Masters will ensure the Eternal Protection and Preservation of our dear Faith.”
I encourage readers of Frashogard to each send a box of tissues to Mr. Patel in sympathy of his great grief.
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram