Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Warning - Wrong messages promoted by ARZ

On 2/10/07, TZML Admn wrote:

10 February 2007

Dear fellow Zarathushtis,

cc: Vada Dasturjis, Ervad Sahebs, Bombay Parsee Punchayat (BPP), Zoroastrian Studies, Religious Anjumans, Priestly Madrassas, Traditional Zoroastrian Home page moderators, TMYZ officials, prominent Zarathushtis, etc.

Of late there is been an attempt by a mislead group of Zarathushtis, who have formed a so-called Association for Revival of Zoroastrianism, abbreviated to ARZ.

This group specialises in taking out adverts in the Jame Jamshed weekly.

These mislead Zarathushtis, with good intentions or not, believe that the Zoroastrian religion has an element of "conversion" built into it. To justify that, they frequently quote that the Gathas have spoken about "conversion" and that the Zoroastrian religion should "spread" across the 7 oceans, etc etc.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The only conversion mentioned in the Gathas is "converting" one's evil or bad mentality and vices into good mentality or virtues. That in a nutshell is the message of our dear Prophet Zarathushtra.

It is so illogical to conceive of an idea of conversion since it is Divine Will to have more than one religions and to that effect different Prophets had been sent on this Earth on different times amongst different peoples to spread the message of God in different tongues.

If any religion including Zoroastrianism is universal, as ARZ claims, then we would have amidst us only one religion - Zoroastrianism. But that is not a fact in reality, along with Zoroastrianism, there are other great religions too - like Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc.

All religions are great and best suited for the persons born into that religion, and that way all religions have some common universal truths - Be good, kind, charitable, control your anger, vices, etc. But to claim that one religion, Zoroastrianism or other, is an universal solution and that too by mis-quoting from the Holy scriptures is clearly wrong and also a big sin (gunah). We hope that ARZ and its supporters understand the great wrong they are committing by mis-leading members of our community.

These ARZ group also cause problems in our community and a headache for our dear Vada Dasturjis by raising funds for a "universal or cosmopolitan agiary", as if such an agiary is ever possible under the tenets of the Zarathushti religion. They did so for a place in Colaba, and now they want to do so in a land they acquired in Malad, in Mumbai. They have openly said that this is for spouses of community members married outside the fold.

So there you have it, dear friends, all this seemingly religiously sounding cause is just a back-door entry for inter-marrieds and their spouses into our community. They have been rightly forbidden entry by honest means so now they have got this ruse to try and sneak in intermarried couples and their inter-married children through the back door. We strongly criticise such misleading actions on ARZ and strongly recommend all Zarathushtis to keep their distance from associations like ARZ, which claim to do good on the open but have a hidden agenda.

Our Vada Dasturjis have clearly and openly stated that the Zoroastrian religion does not have conversion built into it, and that intermarriage is not recognised by our religion. Thus inter-marrieds and their spouses, be they male or female; and their children be they male or female, are not recognised as Zarathushtis.

Of late, they have recruited the help of a inter-married lady by the name of Dina McIntyre, who is married to a Christian westerner, to help them in their cause by giving speeches, etc.

Fellow Zarathushtis - be vigilant and aware of such misguided propaganda. If in doubt, please send your queries to your Vada Dasturjis or traditional platforms like TZML, TMYZ,.etc.

You may write to TZML on traditionalzarathushtris-owner@yahoogroups.com, TMYZ on mailto:TMYZ-owner@yahoogroups.com, or to the moderators of the world famous Traditional Zoroastrian home page on traditionals@zoroastrianism.com for clarifications and queries.

The website address for the Traditional Home page is www.zoroastrianism.com

We enclose below a very lucid and easy to understand explanation on the fallacies of ARZ by a well-known Zarathushti writer, Mrs. Pervin J Mistry.

Please circulate this warning and the one of Mrs. Mistry to all Zarathushtis in India and overseas.


TZML Admins.

Please see below for a very lucid explanation by Mrs Pervin J Mistry

Dear Members,

We are all aware of a new group calling itself the ARZ (Association for the Revival of Zoroastrianism). Very wisely, one Dasturji Saheb has replaced the word "Revival" in its title to "Ruination". Most community members agree! The ARZ uses the weekly issues of the Jam-e to distort our sacred Avesta. Together, the ARZ and Jam-e work to subvert our religion and religious beliefs.

The ARZ gives paid advertisements every Sunday by misquoting our Sacred Scriptures. It appears as if the mindless twisting of our Sacred Scriptures is done by little kids who open the Holy Avesta and whenever they find the words "haft keshvar zamin" in the sacred Avesta, they gleefully run to the press at Jam-e and distort the verses by stating that the religion teaches proselytism! Nothing can be further from the truth!

The first question that should be asked of these "children" is, who has authorised them to misquote and pervert the Sacred Scriptures? Have they studied the Sacred Avesta? If yes, what is their academic qualification in matters of Religion and under whom have they studied the Avesta? If they have not studied the Sacred Scriptures then they should at least leave matters of the Religion alone and instead of ruining the Religion and their own soul they should have Faith, first and foremost, in the Teachings of our Paigambar Saheb, Din-Dasturs and forefathers!

TMYZ will post replies to their advertisements. Please, if the members have a printer at home, do print out as many copies as each of you can print and circulate these. Let the Zarthushtis who are not aware of the truth become informed of the great deception these ARZwallas are carrying out in the name of our Religion!

Their advertisements are often repeated when they run out of new so-called "evidence". The first issue TMYZ will deal with is with reference to " haft keshvar zamin". These sublime words appear at the end of every Yasht and Niyayesh. But do these words imply conversion from religion to religion? Please read what is the correct translation and meaning of "haft keshvar zamin".

At the end of every Niyayesh and Yasht, we pray, "Daad din beh Mazdayasnan agahi ravahi goafrangani bad, haft keshvar zamin aedun baad". ARZ asks, does this not advocate conversion? Are we not mandated to convert other followers of other religions from all the seven regions or continents of the Earth to the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Religion?

Answer: It is true that we pray these words included in the smaller khshnooman dedicated to a specific Ameshaspand or Yazad in our Yashts and Niyayeshes; also in the Kerfeh Mozda prayer the words "haft keshvar zamin" appear, but the connotation regarding conversion from religion to religion is incorrect. The sentence in the smaller khshnooman in every Yasht and Niyayesh begins with the key word " daad", meaning the laws of the good Mazdayasni Religion! "Agahi" means wisdom (of the laws of the religion). "Ravahi" means obedience (to the laws of the religion, also to the soul or "ravan"), and "goafrangani" means praise (to sing the praises of the laws of the religion). No fewer words have been more misunderstood and misinterpreted than these words of sublime homage to our Din!

a) In the above sentence, "agahi" indicates wisdom. "Daad" means law and therefore, "agahi" or wisdom refers to the wise, spiritually progressive laws of the good Mazdayasni Religion that should be spread and increased over the seven regions of the Earth. The most sublime and the most exalted wisdom of the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din is to convert Angre Mainyu to Spenta Mainyu, and not followers of other revealed religions. The laws of the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Religion are based on the Laws of Asha that teach the ethical conversion of converting vices to virtues. The Gathas specifically teach us to choose between the two paths of righteousness and unrighteousness. The two paths, one leading to Spenta Mainyu (wisdom, righteousness), and the other leading to Angre Mainyu (spiritual ignorance, unrighteousness) are specifically identified and described. Choice is intricately interwoven with grave responsibility as to which of the two paths we select in every thought, word and deed. This ethical choice results in either reward or punishment, as expressly taught by our Paigambar Saheb. The only choice mentioned in the Gathas and throughout the Avesta is the ethical choice of selection between the two ethical paths alone and not choosing proselytism from one religion to another. The goal of every religion is to lead its followers, through righteousness, to "moksha", "nirvana", "mukti", Resurrection, towards the Divine Goal of attaining Frashogard. It is the knowledge, the wisdom of the fundamental law of converting evil to good, vices to virtues that a Zarthushti is required to spread on "haft keshvar zamin".

b) "Ravahi" denotes obedience. The devotee is asked to obey the Immutable Laws of Asha as prescribed by the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din. The immutable, fundamental and universal Law of Asha is to convert one's own evil mentality into goodness and godliness. Hence, this obedience to the spiritual law of the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din is to be spread universally on all the seven "earths".

Obedience or "ravahi" also implies obedience to the dictates of one's soul ("ravan"), which is spiritual and immortal. Being immortal, the soul is omniscient and chooses wisely before birth the time, parents, place and religion to which it will be born into. Ahura Mazda Himself has organized His creation into orderly groups. Yasna 19 illustrates the Divine WORD, the mystic Manthra of Ahunavar in detail. It explains the Will of Ahura Mazda and the establishment of the five main religions and their "Ratus" or Prophets as "pancha ratus" and "pancha tkaeshas". Since Ahura Mazda Himself has ordained different religions, it is spiritually ignorant to say that people can choose their religion reflectively. Religion, like parents, time and place of birth is pre-ordained. Therefore, "ravahi" indicates obedience to the soul and to His Will! Obedience indicates surrender, submission and not rebellious choices and preferential desires selected by the mind that is still in the process of evolving, spiritually imperfect and prone to err! The mind is trapped within the two opposing mentalities, Angre Mainyu and Spenta Mainyu, and is responsible for the choices made during life on Earth. The choice is the selection between the two mentalities, the two paths, not religions. "Ravahi" does not in the least indicate conversion from religion to religion.

c) "Goafrangani" means praise. We praise the laws of the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din which unravel the intimate workings of Nature, the laws which give us the wisdom to obey and choose wisely between the two paths of good and evil in every thought, word and deed. "Goafrangani" means we praise the laws of the great Mazdayasni Zarthuhsti Din, the Wisdom Religion, which teach us to turn "vauraya" (Yasna 31.3), from evil to good, to have faith in and to obey the teachings of our Holy Prophet Asho Zarathushtra!

d) "Haft keshvar zamin": "Haft" means seven and "zamin" indicates "earth". Some philologists have translated the word "keshvar" as the seven terrestrial continents of the Earth. The word "keshvar" (Avestic "karshvars") indicates "karsh" or "kash" meaning to draw mystic circles or talismanic rings. "Keshvars" are certain rarefied locations in the regions of upper space separated from the terrestrial Earth which is specifically identified as "Khwanirath". The " keshvars" should not be confused with the seven physical continents of this Earth. Our continents are not round circles and they are not talismanic rings. They keep drifting, change size and the numbers are also variable as in the beginning there was only one vast continent that later broke into several pieces creating the seven continents that are incidental. Hence, "haft keshvar zamin" does not indicate the seven terrestrial continents of the planet Earth but to non-physical, spherical regions that are multi-dimensional in space and are spiritually inter-connected to the Earth. Asho Zarathushtra's Divine Mission was not to incarnate on Earth to teach mundane geography and the existence of the seven physical continents into which the Earth is incidentally divided by the action of the continental plates that are perpetually drifting and in motion. Asho Zarathushtra's Divine Mission was to reveal the secret workings of Nature, of Immutable Asha, and to teach us of the spiritual world "mainyava" that has lead to the manifestation of our Earth, "Khvanirath". He has revealed that according to the Laws of Asha, there are only two Paths to choose from and these two Paths are the Paths of Angre Mainyu and Spenta Mainyu and the choice comes with grave responsibility, in this life and in after-life.

Yasna 32.3, (Ahunavaiti), refers to our Earth as "bumiyao haptaithe" or the "seven earths", synonymous with "haft keshvar zamin". The Vendidad, one of the original 21 Nasks, elucidates further on these "earths" and refers to these "haft keshvars" by describing them as Vouru Bareshti (situated in the north-west of "Khvanirath"), Vouru Zareshti (situated in the north-east of "Khvanirath"). Fradadafshu is located in the south-west of "Khvanirath"); Vidadafshu (south-east of "Khvanirath"). Arezahi is in the west and Savahi is located in the east of "Khvanirath". In the centre is "Khvanirath", our physical Earth! Bundahishn and Yasna 11.7 also place "Khvanirath" as centrally located, "mademe thrishva", as being situated in the center of the three pairs of " keshvars", the three pairs being, as illustrated, Vouru Bareshti, Vouru Zareshti, Fradadafshu, Vidadafshu, Arezahi and Savahi. As is evident, these seven "earths" are regions that are situated in pairs! Our physical continents are not in pairs, neither are they round and our Earth, "Khvanirath", cannot be said to be in the centre of the other six continents! Additionally and significantly, the Vendidad, differentiates the Earth or "Khvanirath" as being combined with "imat" or "this", meaning the "terrestrial earth", while all other "keshvars" are combined with "avat" or "that/those (upper) earths", indicating them to be rarefied, luminous orbs different from the terrestrial "Khvanirath". "Khvanirath" alone is declared to be known to, and is accessible to man! Hence, it is abundantly clear that "keshvars" indicate certain regions of upper space and not the seven terrestrial continents of this Earth.

When we pray the words, "may the wisdom, obedience and praise of the laws of the excellent Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din ever increase and spread over the seven regions", we maintain that we enlighten the followers of other "apara-tkaesha" or later religions to convert their own inherent vices to righteousness. Unless and until all souls attain to spiritual wisdom, Frashogard cannot be attained. We can effectively spread the knowledge, obedience and fame of the great Mazdayasni Zarthuhsti Din on all the regions of " haft keshvar zamin" by disseminating the moral conversion preached in the Gathas and other scriptures, of converting Angra Mainyu into Spenta Mainyu. We can spread the fame of the law that grants every man the moral freedom to choose consciously between the two paths of good and evil in every thought, word and deed performed. The immutable law of justice is taught as a consequence of selections made in every thought, word and deed committed during life. Heretics read the word "proselyte" where no such word is even remotely hinted at, in our Niyayeshes and Yashts! To spread "daad", "agahi, ravahi, goafrangani" on "haft keshvar zamin" only means that may we spread the wisdom, obedience and praise of the laws of the excellent Mazdayasni Zarthuhsti Religion; laws that teach to convert one's own inherent vices to virtues! The law is not to convert others from one revealed religion to another but only to practice the moral, inner conversion of choosing righteousness over the evil tendencies of the spiritually imperfect mind.

It should be noted that this sentence, "daad din beh Mazdayasnan agahi ravahi goafrangani baad, haft keshvar zamin aedun baad" ends with the words, "man ano awayad shudan", recited three times. It means 'I aught to go there". Where does the devotee wish to go from this world? Certainly not to roam endlessly on Earth if these words "haft keshvar zamin" indicate the terrestrial continents but the devotee expresses the desire to reach the spiritual world, to His Abode in Light from whence we originally came! It is a travesty against one's own religion to misquote scriptures, to take certain words out of context and use these to justify wrong ends and promote false teachings. Examining the location and meaning of these "haft keshvar zamin" as so stated in our scriptures, they indicate without a doubt that they are a spiritual map of the multi-dimensional locations situated in Space that surrounds our physical orb, the Earth, "Khwanirath". The spiritual talismanic regions are where the emancipated souls go to for their spiritual progress after the inevitable transition from the physical to the spiritual regions. As humans we are not only the outer physical body that we refer to as "tanu". As explained in Yasna 55, we have eight other spiritual and semi-spiritual components (9 in all). The physical body is only of the Earth, earthly. Even whilst living on Earth in the physical components, because we have the semi-spiritual and spiritual components interwoven within us, we have our multi-dimensional existence in other regions of space. The spiritual components of our body are compatible to have their existence in these subliminal regions or "keshvars". Life, as energy, is eternal and therefore an individual's spiritual progress too is eternal with or without the physical body. We do live and progress in the spiritual regions of space, the "haft keshvars". This then is the explanation of "haft keshvar zamin" and the sentence, "Daad din beh Mazdayasnan agahi ravahi goafrangani baad, haft keshvar zamin aedun baad. Man ano awayad shudan, man ano awayad shudan, man ano awayad shudan!

Moral conversion is the only conversion taught by Asho Zarathuhstra! Unless a person converts from within, unless a person leaves evil and turns to righteousness, would it help that person to simply become "good" by changing the name of one religion to another? No! To convert means to become spiritually wiser, to transform, modify, transmute the evil within to virtues and this can be achieved by following the dictates of any revealed religion one is born into. All religions teach an ethical code of conduct and lead the followers to Salvation. If "convert" means to leave one's own religion of birth and adopt a newer, alien one, there is absolutely no equivalent word for "to convert" in the Sacred Avesta.

Please do let other Zarthushtis know the correct translations of what the ARZ dishes out every Sunday. We will give them our weekly replies.

Thank you.


Pervin J Mistry

ARZ got it wrong again

On 3/7/07, TZML Admn wrote:

Dear Zarathushti humdins,

[ To: TZML - Traditional Zarathushtrian Mailing List ][cc: Vada Dasturjis, Ervad Sahebs, Bombay Parsee Punchayat (BPP), Zoroastrian Studies, Religious Anjumans, Priestly Madrassas, Traditional Zoroastrian Home page moderators, TMYZ officials, prominent Zarathushtis, etc ]

The ARZ organisation, which is supposedly for the "revival" of Zoroastrianism, has got it wrong again.

In this week's advertisement in the Jame of 4th March, they now try and justify intermarried by using the gender card. Previously, they used the race card by calling us racists, now they accuse us Parsis of discrimination against women who have married outside. They do not talk about the big gunah these women have committed by marrying outside, but instead obfuscate the issue by presenting these women as victims!!! Holy Zarathushtra, how can we answer such mis-guided people. Perhaps this reminder will make them reconsider.

ARZ must remember that our religion frowns on mixed marriages of any gender. Intermarriage is a big gunah against the religion and the Atashes. Period. No room for arguments. It is wrong irrespective if the perpetrator is male or female. It is wrong to accept children of mixed marriages into our community or places of worship like fire-temples.

In Nature, it is a fact that intermarried women do more harm then men to the religion, then we must consider that fact, and as our dear Vada Dasturji Dr Firoze Kotwal has reminded us time and again that "such acts harm and distress (even) to Ahura Mazda". This however does not mean that men can intermarry and still call themselves and their non-Parsis spouses and children as Zarathushtis. This topic of gender equality especially as far as religious rules go is far complex then the lame "we are all equal be we men or women" mantra which could suffice in one's secular life.

In her penetrating and honest direct style, Mrs. Pervin J Mistry demolishes the ARZ claims. She rightly reminds them that when religion is concerned, the gender equality rules do not follow the politically correct line of thinking advocated by heterodox organisations. She reminds them that other great religions too, like Hinduism, has rules for barring intermarried women, when their women make mistakes.

Mrs. Mistry writes " Isn't it shocking that the ARZ tries to fool the gullible with such pathetic lack of scriptural evidence to prove that Parsis perpetrate injustice to intermarried ladies in the name of 'religion'. In dignity, respect, spirituality, YES, our religion considers both the sexes as equal but we do not consider intermarriage of either a male or a female to be ritually sanctified and religiously accepted. There is no " injustice" perpetrated by the Parsis to intermarried ladies if these women disobey the revealed tenets of the religion and marry out!"

Please refer the enclosed email below for the full article which is full of insights and religious facts.

TZML Admins (refer below)

Reply to ARZ re Justice to Intermarried Women
from Mrs. Pervin J Mistry
Dear Friends,

This refers to the weekly ARZ advertisement which is published in the last issue of Jam-e (4-3-2007), circulated a day in advance, on Saturday instead of the usual Sunday.

The advertisement reads: " Zoroastrianism is the first religion to fully recognize the absolute equality of men and women. Yet we Parsis perpetrate injustice to intermarried ladies in the name of 'religion'. Shocking, isn't it?"

Since the past 3 weeks, the ARZ has replaced the usual misquotes from the Sacred Avesta with other statements. The social, historical, cultural, as well as ethnic issues that ARZ is confused with are addressed in previous replies. Now, the ARZ is shocked that our religion does not allow intermarried Zarthushti women the same rights as the other Zarthushti women who are married within the religious community to Zarthushti men! They see this as "injustice" to the intermarried women! By definition, a person who disobeys the commands of a religion is a "heretic". No religion accepts the heretics. If a soldier disobeys the disciplines of the army, he is discharged. Are we, as a religious community, required to accept any act which is scripturally defined as a sin? No! No religious community accepts, rationalizes or justifies a sin! We do not accept intermarried Zarthushtis as practicing Zarthushtis. The ARZ turns a blind eye to the fact that even the Hindus do not accept intermarriage. The intermarried Hindu women are barred from participating at rituals and entering consecrated temples in India itself! Perhaps the ARZ individuals do not read the TOI and are oblivious of the news regarding entry denied to intermarried Hindu women in the consecrated temples of India.

Hinduism Today, July 19, 1994, in a short article: "Must We Marry within Our Religion?" states: " For marriage to serve its spiritual purpose to the highest, husband and wife should hold the same beliefs and share the same religious practices." Our religion considers marriage to be a sacrament and it is valid only if both the partners are Zarthushtis by birth! Is our religion an exception for not counting the intermarrieds as "Zarthushtis"? If a Zarthushti woman (or a Zarthushti man) marries a Catholic, she/he has to first renounce the Zarthushti religion and be baptized as a Catholic Christian. If a Zarthushti woman/man marries a Muslim, it is required to first renounce the Zarthushti religion, accept Islam and then marry the Muslim spouse. I ask the ARZ if they consider a person to be a practicing "Zarthushti" if the person willingly renounces the religion of birth and converts to another religion. Does the ARZ in their confused thinking accept "Zarthushtis" as Hindu-Zoroastrians, Christian-Zoroastrians, etc.? Why, they may as well proclaim themselves to be the Prophets of a new Cult because the Christian religion does not accept a Hindu-Christian or a Muslim-Christian as a Christian; Muslims will not accept any member into their religious community who is a Christian or a Jew as a Muslim-Christian, or a Muslim-Jew! If a Zarthushti converts to another religion is the person still considered to be a "Zarthuhsti"? If other religions do not consider their apostates as followers but consider them as outcasts, if the Muslims consider any Muslim who has renounced Islam to be "kafur" and outcast such an individual will the ARZ consider this as injustice and try and dictate to the Muslims that they should accept the outcast in their fold as a practicing Muslim? ARZ should try.

The ARZ is right when they maintain that our religion offers equality to both the sexes and we maintain that precisely that is why our scriptures reveal, unequivocally, that due to the equality of both the sexes, a male as well as a female Zarthushti commits a religious sin when he/she marries a juddin! Scriptures such as Vendidad, Husparam Nask, Patet Pashemani, Chithrem Buyat, VahishtaIshti Gatha, the Dinkard, etc. condemn the intermarriage of a Zarthushti male or a Zarthushti female as a spiritual, religious sin!

We are a patrilineal community in the sense that Zarthushti girls at birth take their father's name as their middle name as well as the father's surname till they marry and thereafter take the husband's name and surname replacing the father's. Take the example of an osti girl from a mobed family marrying a behdin and thereby she is considered no more an osti but a behdin and her name is recited together with her husband's in all naam-grahans in the rituals where names are taken. This is not discrimination! It is a "ritual tradition" continued since countless millennia! The sacred names of Zarthushti females are always taken with the name of their Zarthushti husband or father, if unmarried!

Will the ARZ show us just one instance where a juddin's name is mentioned in our naam-grahan ? The ARZ declares time and again that after coming to India some traditions have changed and therefore the ARZ intends to revert to the practices started in Iran by Asho Zarathushtra! With absolutely no offence meant to any religion or a religious community, I ask, can the ARZ give just one instance from the past up to the present where a Santaram, Narayan, George, Henry, Ahmed, Ali, Akbar, or a Hebrew name such as David is mentioned in our rituals as naam cheshti anusheh raven ravani behest bareh "Thomas" aedar yad bad? Please know that it is Asho Zarathushtra's tenets and traditions that we, in our Prayers, are following till today, since countless millennia, from az Gayomard up to the present time and will continue to follow for yet countless more millennia to come, up to anda Soshyos!

Isn't it shocking that the ARZ tries to fool the gullible with such pathetic lack of scriptural evidence to prove that Parsis perpetrate injustice to intermarried ladies in the name of 'religion'. In dignity, respect, spirituality, YES, our religion considers both the sexes as equal but we do not consider intermarriage of either a male or a female to be ritually sanctified and religiously accepted. There is no "injustice" perpetrated by the Parsis to intermarried ladies if these women disobey the revealed tenets of the religion and marry out!

This confusion in the mind of the ARZ founders and supporters is indeed shocking, isn't it? What next?

Pervin J. Mistry

March 6th, 2007.

Misleading advertisement from ARZ

On 2/22/07, TZML Admn wrote:

Dear fellow Zarathushtis,

[ cc: Vada Dasturjis, Ervad Sahebs, Bombay Parsee Punchayat (BPP), Zoroastrian Studies, Religious Anjumans, Priestly Madrassas, Traditional Zoroastrian Home page moderators, TMYZ officials, prominent Zarathushtis, etc ]

the misleading advertisement from ARZ - Association of 'Revival' of Zoroastrianism continue in the Jame.

In their latest advert, ARZ is mixing the race issue with conversion. Why?

Perhaps they are misled, or they wish to mislead the other members of the community by making the devout Zoroastrians feel guilty of not accepting people of other ethnicities and races into the religion.

How can we do so, the devout Zoroastrians will be saying to themselves, when our religion clearly forbids inter-marriage and 'conversion', and any way, shape or form.

Racism means trying to harm another race or ethnic group. This is practised by extreme people like the KKK (Ku Klux Clan) where they openly state that they are against the "Jews, Africans and Catholics". We Zoroastrians have no such ill-feelings for other races and communities. In fact, Zoroastrian charities have bettered other communities, even as far as their religious places of worship go.

So no, if Zoroastrians want to preserve their race by marrying within the community only, are not racists.

In conclusion, we practise "race consciousness" and "race preservation" - and certainly not racism!

It is wrong of ARZ to resort to such scare-mongering and mis-representation of facts.

Dear readers, If you wish to congratulate or thank Mrs Mistry for her wonderful expose, you may do so by writing to us, or to her directly at pervinmistry@yahoo.co.uk


TZML Admins

(encl. the write-up from Mrs. Pervin Mistry below)

Dear Friends,

In last Sunday's issue of Jam-e Jamshed Weekly (18-2-2007), the advertisement given by A"R"Z, under the standard title: Zoroastrianism is for all Mankind, reads: "Our Prophet was NOT a racist".

A"R"Z (read the "R" as "Ruination") states very clearly (reference Mumbai Mirror, 8-2-2007) that the Association is against conversion and admitting converts into their proposed cosmopolitan Agiary near Malad. Strangely, they will, however, permit entry to all juddin spouses! The standard title "Zoroastrianism is for all Mankind" demonstrates that A"R"Z actively supports and promotes conversion! Obviously there is some confusion in the minds of the Wadia brothers who have set up the A"R"Z and dictate its agenda. They are not sure whether they accept conversion or are against it!

This is the second week in a row when the mindless twisting of the sacred scriptures is not publicized by the A"R"Z. For this, the community is appreciative of its religious feelings being spared from weekly heresies aired in the Jam-e. So far the innumerable scriptural misquotations and lessons in history have been dealt with and now it is time to deal with the socio-cultural issue of what is "racism".

1) Racism and racists: We are not just an ethnic group . We are a religious group. As Parsi-Irani-Zarthushtis we have never considered our identity to be "ethnic" alone. In Greek, ethnos means "nation" and "ethnic" means pertaining to a group of people having a common national and cultural bond. The Parsi-Irani-Zarthushtis are a distinct religious group and we care to preserve our distinct religious identity. Our ancestors did not give up their lives and their native homeland of Iran in order to preserve only their "ethnic" or socio-cultural identity. They would have continued to live in Iran and by converting to Islam, they would have been able to preserve their ethnic/national identity, but they would have surely lost their religious identity as well as the remarkable unbroken lineage sustained through the bloodline from Gayomard. Subsequently the group calling itself the Parsi-Irani-Zarthushtis would have ceased to exist.

Our Hindu brethren have common cultural and religious traditions such as the worship of fire and rules of purity as described in the Book of Manu; and they, too, belong to the ethnic Aryans. If the Hindus had converted us or we had not followed the "closed-door" policy in India then too we would have ceased to exist as a religious community in India . What identifies us as a distinct group is that we are the followers of a Revealed Religion and we fear for the loss of our religious identity if we assimilate with other ethnic groups through conversion and intermarriages. It is indisputable that it was to preserve the RELIGION and not the "ethnic identity" that we arrived at the shores of India and established our atash-kadehs and dokhmas; preserved our rituals; practised "boonak-pasbani". Survival is distinct from racism or discrimination. It is called "self-preservation"!

What distinguishes our religion from other religions are the fundamental spiritual disciplines of a) wearing sudreh-kusti; b) practising dokhme-nashini; c) kriya-kaam which includes not just kusti-padyab, jashan, navjote, obsequies, gahambars, etc. but also the higher rituals of Vendidad, Yasna, Nirang-e Din; d) recitation of the unique manthravani based on "staot yasna"; e) observing the rules of purity or ashoi; f) perpetually preserving the worship and sacredness of fire. g) Above all, as a religious group, we practise the most important spiritual discipline which is " boonak pasbani" and it is to practise this religious mandate that we are religiously enjoined to abstain from proselytism and interfaith marriage. The injunction in the Vendidad, Husparam Nask, Dinkard, Gathas, Chithrem Buyat, Patet and other scriptures against proselytism and interfaith marriage is mandatory for a Zarthushti to obey. These scripturally binding disciplines are our sacred covenants with Ahura Mazda and Asho Zarathushtra which we have maintained through countless millennia and for which we left Iran and have survived miraculously in spite of several holocausts and inhumane persecutions, mostly in Iran and to a much lesser degree in India as well. The shifting of our Iranshah for His protection from being defiled through exposure to juddins and Kisseh Variav are examples.

History proves that Zarthushti groups who left Iran to preserve their religious identity perished through intermarriage and proselytism except for the group which came to India and practised "boonak-pasbani". We, too, could have assimilated with the Hindus if it was only the "ethnic identity" we wanted to preserve; or, we could have continued to live in Iran, converted to Islam and still remained ethnically, racially, the same. We left Iran to preserve our religious identity and religion. Let us never forget the cardinal reason for leaving Iran so we may continue to survive as Zarthushtis! To Zarthushtis, what is more important than life itself is religion and religious identity, and please make no mistake about this religious zeal. We have the clarity of vision and complete security in the scriptural, religious beliefs and identity.

From the above reasoning it will be evident that we are not racists who practise racism against other religions and communities but we are preserving our religion as per the mandates given in our revealed scriptures. The Parsi-Irani-Zarthushtis are proud that we are held as the most literate and respected community who practise the virtue of universal charity and universal brotherhood extending it to all humanity as well as to all the kingdoms of Nature! Cyrus the Great has given humanity the First Charter of Human Rights in the 6th century BCE by not converting his subjects. He followed the principle of religious tolerance, brotherhood among nations and did not subjugate the conquered nations by converting them to our religion. He accepted all as equals and accepted the rights of diverse humanity to exist without deviating from their personal beliefs and religions. He did not discriminate against those who followed a different religion or cultural identity. He proved that he was not a racist by liberating the Jews and rebuilding their Temple from his own treasury. Our sacred scriptures reveal that all religions are manifested on Earth according to the Divine Will; each has a role to play in the spiritual development of varied humanity and that religion is the choice of the immortal soul who chooses before birth the time, place, parents and religion into which it will be born. Religion is bestowed at birth and all religions lead to the Final Goal of Salvation. If we, as a micro-minority religious community preserve our "tokham" and follow the mandates of our religion we are not practicing racism but self-preservation!

2) Discrimination: The question of Zarthushtis practising racism and discrimination does not arise. Our religion enjoins us not to convert but respect all religions and live in peace and harmony with the followers of other revealed religions. It is an insult to our Holy Prophet, Asho Zarathushtra, to apply a word such as "racist" when His Holy name is mentioned! Those who proselyte others believe that only their religion is superior and therefore they will accept others as equals only if the others convert to their religion, customs, and traditions; in short, become like them and accept only their way of thinking. These individuals do not respect the rights of other religions and other individuals to exist in harmony and peace without their being identical! This is discrimination indeed! Not the other way around!

Those who do not respect the rights of other religions and individuals to exist in harmony are comparable to the daevas and ashmoghs mentioned in the Gathas who torment the Soul of Mother Earth by causing wars, bloodshed, hatred, destruction of spirituality and world peace. It is an indisputable fact that conversion leads to religious wars and hatred among mankind. By painting a green apple red, the green apple will still retain its own distinct taste and texture! Similarly, converted juddins will always retain their own spiritual genes inherited at birth and they will exhibit the traits and follow the customs, traditions and spirituality of their own religion and environment in which they were brought up. Will the A"R"Z accept the street dwellers of Mumbai and those who follow an alternate life style into their family, home and community? Definitely not! They subscribe to "selective" proselytism. This is indeed an act of discrimination as well as playing God to decide who should follow which religion! Mazdayasni Zarthushtis have inherited their genes, traits and way of life from their forefathers through "boonak pasbaani" since countless millennia and countless generations. We are a distinct religious community and there is no discrimination, racism or dishonor in maintaining what we have cumulatively inherited for countless successive generations.

Will the A"R"Z accuse the Hindu sage, Swami Vivekanand, of being a racist and practicing discrimination? He delivered his famous speech a t the First Parliament of World Religions held at Chicago in 1893 wherein he maintained that "We accept all religions to be true. The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist _ nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. Each must assimilate the Spirit of the other and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law and growth." By stating this, is Swami Vivekanand a racist and discriminating against all religions except Hinduism? No! He is affirming what our forefathers maintained throughout that righteousness is a universal virtue and can be acquired through any religion one is born into and therefore there is no spiritual justification to proselyte. Righteousness stemming from virtues cannot be the hallmark of only one particular religion. Can we not, as a religious community, accept universal goodness and virtues without claiming these to be solely a Zarthushti privilege? Swamiji refers to the preservation of "individuality", identity! To preserve what is one's own is not "discrimination" or "racism" and our Zarthushti identity and individuality certainly merit utmost preservation as we are such an ancient religious community that have contributed so much to world civilization and religious thought!

Did Mahatma Gandhi discriminate others when has said: "All Religions are branches of the same mighty tree. But one must not change from one branch to another for the sake of expediency. By doing so, one cuts the very branch on which he sits." Will the A"R"Z call Mahatma Gandhi a racist? They will not! Religion is a Pathway to God. All Paths lead to the same Destination but if one is lost on the Path where the Omniscient Lord has placed him/her by virtue of birth, how will the person find the way treading another Path that is completely strange and new? The person who simply changes the name of the religion by converting to another will suffer from the same spiritual disorders because it is not the name of the religion that makes an individual spiritually more enlightened but it is in following the religion one is born into with faith and dedication that makes an individual spiritually illumined.

It is time for the Parsi-Irani-Zarthushtis to lead the world religions to live in peace and harmony and follow universal brotherhood by following religious tolerance and the non-proselytism movement. The world is tormented by wars, hatred and bloodshed. We can set an example to all as to how we have survived for over 1300 years without a kingdom or country to call our own. We have lived without physical boundaries but we have maintained our spiritual boundaries and therefore we survived.

Abstention from proselytism does not indicate discrimination to others. It indicates acceptance of brotherhood and tolerance towards all religions to co-exist in mutual peace and harmony. The real conversion is self-conversion and converting to righteousness. May the A"R"Z stop following the path of unrighteousness and follow our religion the way our ancestors followed, with faith and dedication. Our sagacious ancestors were not racists and they not discriminate others because they did not accept converts! They were the true followers of Universal Brotherhood!

Please note that as a religious community, we have never practised discrimination against juddins as is evident from the universal philanthropy extended to all other religious communities in India and throughout the world. It is not discrimination but self-preservation and obedience to the Laws of Asha that we do not proselyte. No Prophet has prescribed conversion from religion to religion. Spiritual illumination is the result of faith and obedience to His Will and to accept the religion which He has ordained for us from birth. Asho Zarathushtra was certainly NOT a racist. He was a Yazad who was in communion with the Divinity and obeyed His Divine Will. There is no word "to convert" meaning "to proselyte" found in the Sacred Avesta which was revealed by Ahura Mazda to Asho Zarathushtra. True conversion is from within; it necessitates converting vices to virtues and not from religion to religion.

Atha jamyat, yatha afrinami!

Pervin J. Mistry

Started the Blog

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