Sunday, February 17, 2008

Priests can bar intermarried Parsi men and his child from entering a Fire temple - Religious law more important than legal law

From: TZML Admins
Date: Feb 17, 2008 8:49 PM
Subject: Priests can bar intermarried Parsi men and his child from
entering a Fire temple - Religious law more important than legal law
To: TZML <>

(An excerpt from a recent article in Jame by Homi Dorabji Bana. Some
of the points in the article did not make sense when Mr Bana writes
that Parsis started wearing sudreh-kusti only after coming to India
and that they did not do so in Iran. But apart from that some other
points are well made and we reproduce them here.

He is correct - the Parsi priests have EVERY RIGHT TO BAR INTERMARRIED
fact, all agiaries should be strict and bar these erring people entry

(excerpts reproduced here)

By: Homi Dorabji Bana

Some time ago a Parsi man who was married to a non Parsi woman came
with his child to the Iranshah Fire Temple in Udwada. At the gate
stood the priest in charge, who refused to allow the man and his child
into the fire temple. The priest reasoned that the child was
considered to be a Parsi only by the court of law but as a priest he
did not recognise this and did not consider the child to be a Parsi,
being of a non Parsi mother. The priest, the spiritual guardian of the
temple, was concerned only about the religious laws and not what was
decided in the court. Here was a case of material law versus
religious/spiritual law and hence the priest, the custodian of the
religious laws and tenets, resisted the material/secular force.

The priest class in the Zoroastrian religion has the duty to guard the
laws pertaining to it as well as to conduct the rites and rituals. My
mother always used to tell me, "Give respect to the White Cap!" by
which she meant of course the priest's cap. The religious
understanding of a community is influenced by its priests and their
judgement is based upon their study of the religious texts and
experience in performing various ceremonies. Our Fire Temples are the
sacred places of worship and their sanctimonious atmosphere must be
preserved. Those who have learnt the Avesta prayers come to the Fire
Temple to worship. In Islam, those who do not belong to the religion
are called Qafir; in our religion, those who are not Zoroastrians are
called Durvan or Juddin and are not permitted to enter our Fire
Temples and encroach upon the religious rights of the followers of our
religion. Therefore one should respect the sentiments of the majority
in our religion. Our holy Avesta scriptures, our holy rites and
rituals of olden times, being entirely of a spiritual nature, cannot
be modernised as science (material). Without adequate knowledge, to
introduce new and adverse ideas is a sin and it is for the priests to
uphold the sanctity of the Good Religion.


There is No 'Conversion' in Zoroastrianism, says Mr. Homi P. Ranina

From: TZML Admins
Date: Feb 17, 2008 8:36 PM
Subject: There is No 'Conversion' in Zoroastrianism, says Mr. Homi P. Ranina
To: TZML <>

There is No 'Conversion' in Zoroastrianism,

says Mr. Homi P. Ranina

May Wisdom Prevail!

(Gist of speech given by Mr. Homi P. Ranina, Trustee of Karani Agiary
at the Salgreh function held on 5th February, 2008)

Zoroastrianism has been universally regarded as one of the first
divinely revealed religions. Prophet Zarthushtra has been inaccurately
portrayed as one who converted people from other divinely revealed
religions. A significant point which has been overlooked by zealous
reformists is that Prophet Zarathushtra spread His divine message
amongst people who lived in a region where there was no other divinely
revealed religion at the time when He lived.

The people of such times were followers of cults and idol worship
which were devoid of ethical content and did not rise to the level of
a divinely revealed religion as we know of today. Therefore, it is
wrong to contend that Prophet Zarathushtra converted people from a
religion, when none existed in the land of Airyana Vaeja. Spreading
the message of Ahura Mazda by Zarathustra cannot be construed as

After Zoroastrianism, other divinely revealed religions like
Christianity, Islam and others found their roots at different points
in time in diverse parts of the world. These religions have spread to
embrace within their fold millions of people. Even when the Persian
Empire spread to a vast area of what is now referred to as West Asia,
other religions were followed by the non-Iranian people.

The Zoroastrian Kings, Cyrus and Darius, encouraged and supported the
Jews who lived in their Kingdom to follow their own religion, Judaism.
In fact, these noble kings gave them financial assistance to rebuild
their religious institutions. Thus, Zoroastrians, through the Ages,
have never accepted the principle of conversion because the birth of a
person in a divinely ordained religion is the Will of God; just as the
time and place of birth of an individual, his family of birth, his
lifespan, etc., can only be attributed to His divine Will.

Viewed in this perspective, accepting a person who has renounced the
religion of his birth and admitting him into another religion is an
affront to what has been divinely ordained. Even if a person
voluntarily gives up his religion of birth, a true believer in God
would never accept such a person in his own faith, just as it would be
ethically wrong to adopt a person who has disowned his own parents.

Zoroastrians are not clannish or inward-looking if they do not allow
others to convert to their religion. A true Zoroastrian believes in
encouraging others to pursue the religious faith in which they are
born because Zoroastrians have respect for all religions and believe
that the Will of God must prevail.

Forsaking one's religion of birth makes a mockery of that person's
religious convictions and faith. All divinely revealed religions lay
down the path which leads to the Kingdom of God, making the issue of
conversion irrelevant.

Every person who is a true believer in God must realize that once His
Creator has made the choice of his religion for him at the time of his
birth, the issue of "freedom of choice" thereafter by the individual
does not arise. Zarathushtra, in the Gathas, exhorted his followers to
make a choice between truth and lie, right and wrong, good and evil,
virtue and vice; not a choice between two divinely revealed religions.

May Wisdom prevail!


Reproduced in a recent issue of Jame Weekly