Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Areez Khambata Attacks Iranshah High Priests

Respected High Priests,

“Finally the cat is out of the bag” as to why Khurshedji Dastur as well as his Udvada Samast Anjuman did not have the guts to reply to Valsad Anjuman’s letters in connection with the Neha (Gulrukh) Gupta case and why Khurshedji Dastur did not sign the affidavit given by all of you, High Priests, supporting Valsad Anjuman’s stand in not permitting Neha Gupta’s entry into their Agiary and Tower of Silence. It is also obvious now why Khurshedji did not speak with one voice and sign along with all of you, supporting the BPP in the renegade priests matter in the High Court.

You all will be shocked to go through the answers Khurshed Dastur has provided to Teenaz Javat, published in the FEZANA Journal. It was really shocking to read the head-line of that article “No more an option to stay quiet says Dastur Khurshed Kaikobad Dastoor, High Priest of Iranshah.” and worse still, Khurshed Dastur’s replies, that followed. It is a painful fact that this High Priest who should have been the real custodian of our religion is instrumental in destroying the true spirit of our Glorious Religion and misleading the community. Orthodoxy is a crown, which all High Priests wear with pride and follow scrupulously. As they have spiritual inheritance and are trained to perform noble acts for which they are revered by the community. In return they guide the community in religious matters as their mission is service to their fellowmen. Khurshedji Dastur must impose on himself some sort of spiritual discipline as Khurshedji is not a Scholar priest and must follow the advice of our most learned Scholar High Priests Dasturji Saheb Jamasp Asa and Dasturji Saheb Kotwal so that our Glorious Religion and its Tenets and Customs are followed fearlessly.

It is shocking and rather unfortunate that instead of sitting at the feet of, and learning from the present High Priests, who are world renowned scholars in the Zoroastrian religion, Khurshedji has chosen to quote and follow in the footsteps of the late Dasturji Dabu, who was a known theosophist , believed in Reincarnation and other non- Zoroastrian ideas and his opinions on the religion were severely criticised and challenged in the Parsi Avaz and other press, by none other than the scholar priest, the Late Udwada Vada Dasturji Saheb, Hormazdyar Dastur Kayoji Mirza, and other learned High Priests. Therefore the late Dastur Dabu’s opinion even in those days was in the minority.

Khurshedji Dastur has stated in his interview “If a Parsi/Irani girl or boy chooses to marry outside of our faith and does so by way of a civil ceremony he/she has, according to me, every right to continue to attend the Agiary or Atashbehram of their choosing.” Even if Khurshedji believes in this wrong premise, I would like to know how will Khurshedji Dastur in any way be able to ensure, that the girl is married as per the civil law and not as per an alien religious tradition in order to allow her to enter a Fire Temple? From this it has become very clear that he created a scene on the stage on Sanjan Day Celebration only to wriggle out of the situation, when I drew his attention to the fact that intermarried Parsi / Irani ladies have filed sworn affidavits in the Gujarat High Court stating that they freely enter pak Iranshah. At that time Khurshedji should have had the courage to express his views on intermarried ladies openly, like he did in the Fezana journal, instead of slyly twisting my statement and going on repeating that “no convert has entered Iranshah, unless he was brought in by a Parsi”.. In my speech I made it a point to talk only about girls married out entering Fire Temples and not Converts, so Khurshedji has maliciously twisted my statements and as a High Priest this does not suit the exalted Gaddi of his position as a High Priest.

Khurshed Dastur may be annoyed but the Safeguarding of the Pak Iranshah is most important. What I had asked earlier was, how does Khurshed Dastur expect to protect the Holy Iranshah in future, from such “Religious Trespasses”. I had also pointed out the true state of the functioning of Iranshah, highlighting the irregularities on the Religious side and to some extent on the Administrative side. By doing so, my sole object was to enable Khurshed Dastur to take corrective / remedial measures which are presently being neglected by him, which we notice when we go to Udvada to bow before Pak Iranshah Atashbehram Saheb.

Khurshedji says in the interview, that our religion is based on gender equality. If that is true, then can he answer the following?

1) Why is it that in all our Zoroastrian prayers, a humdin’s name is prayed along with either his/her father’s name, and after marriage, with the husband’s name? Why is it not EVER prayed along with the mother’s/wife’s name?

2) Also, why can ONLY A MALE athornan become a priest and serve the holy Fire and NOT A FEMALE, born in that same athornan family?

3) Also why is a FEMALE from the Athornan family demoted to Behdin status if she marries a behdin but the same does not happen to an ATHORNAN MALE who marries a behdin.

4) Why has there never been a FEMALE High Priest if there is complete GENDER EQUALITY in our religion.

Where do the above 4 examples in any way show Gender equality? If there was gender equality in the religion, then shouldn’t a woman also be allowed to become a high priest or a priest, give boi to the holy Fire in an Agiary / Atashbehram and perform Zoroastrian rituals if there is so much equality in our religion.

This of course, does not mean that we do not respect women. It simply means that in our religious structure, men have roles, which women can never have, as the above four examples indicate. Perhaps Khurshedji can explain to us why, in these four examples, one of which is an integral part of our prayer and ritual structure, and the others which are an equally important part of our religious tradition as practised for over 3000 years, do not give equal status to women? Let me make it clear that by pointing out the above, I am in no way endorsing or allowing for intermarriage of a Parsi boy to a non-Parsi girl. I am pointing these facts out only because Khurshedji is bringing the modern western theory of “gender equality” into the Zoroastrian religion, to try and justify his unacceptable untraditional views. As they say little knowledge is dangerous and more so in a High Priest, who is supposed to guide the community.

Our ancestors left Iran to save our Glorious Religion under the guidelines of Dasturji Naryosang Dhaval and so let us keep that alive and pray to PAK DADAR AHURAMAZDA to please help those amongst us who are straying away from the path of our Good Religion.

On the other hand, if Khurshedji Dastur is correctly quoted, then it is quite contrary to his own earlier statements including the one at Sanjan Day Function as well as the learned opinion given by you Scholarly High Priests including even our High Priest of Iranshah Atashbehram, Udvada Dastur Dr. Peshotan Dastur Hormazdyar Mirza. As per a letter written by Dasturji Mirza, a resolution by the Udwada Anjuman states that “priestly families belonging to the Udvada Athornan Anjuman are governed by the Anjuman’s constitution and resolutions made and passed by the Anjuman…… Any member of the Anjuman, who commits the breach of the above mentioned pledge ( Dasturi ) and violates the constitutional rules and regulation of the said Anjuman, is dismissed from the membership of the Anjuman.” I am informed that the renegade priest Faramroze Mirza, a member of the Nav Kutumbi family of Udwada, was dismissed from the Udwada Anjuman and is not allowed to perform any ceremonies in Udwada Atashbehram, because of his irreligious activities which indicates that Mirza is not worthy of giving Boi or doing any rituals in the Udwada Atash Behram nor can he do rituals for members of the the Nav Kutumbi families. Yet Khurshedji states that a priest cannot be defrocked so according to his argument a priest cannot serve the Nav Kutumbi and is dismissed from it because of his sacrilegious acts, but such a sacrilegious priest can continue to serve others in the Community .This is sheer hypocrisy!

More over, you Scholarly High Priests have also made it clear that “Marriages contracted between persons of different faiths may be considered legal by secular state, but recognition of such marriages cannot be forced upon the Parsi/Irani Zoroastrian community. All laws of civil marriage apply only to the civil or legal aspects and not to the religious aspects. In all religious matters the members of a religious community are governed by their religious laws.” Further, “The Special Marriage Act 1954, neither gives any special rights nor privileges to a Zoroastrain entering in to a civil marriage with a non Zoroastrian. It does not and cannot force upon Zoroastrian Religion to accept them as Parsi/Irani Zorastrians after such a marriage. There is no provision in the act that the woman marrying under the act shall continue to enjoy the same religious rights and benefits after such marriage. The Special Marriage Act 1954, confers no special rights to anyone in the matter of religion.” And yet Khurshedji wants to go beyond the law and wishes to give such women these rights which no High Priest with learning will support !

In view of the above I urge you all Vada Dasturji Sahebs to ask Khurshed Dastur to withdraw his irreligious statements given by him in the FEZANA journal in America. Also as High Priests you should advice and guide Khurshedji, who is not a scholar, to move away from his reformist friends who are only using him to attack the Orthodox, while promoting their policy of divide and rule. He should also stop being influenced by his convertist friends of the AFP Tamboli Combine, who are all out to destroy our Glorious Religion and its Tariquats, for which our forefathers left Iran and came as refugees to Hindustan to save our beautiful religion.

Thanking You,

Yours Respectfully,

AREEZ KHAMBATTA

CHAIRMAN – WAPIZ

Published in the Bombay Samachar