MAH ABAN, FASAL SAL, 1370,
OCTOBER – NOVEMBER
Daidi moi ye gam tasho,
O Thou Creator of Mother-Earth,
Creator, Thou, of Waters and of Plants,
Grant me Perfection an
Through Thy Most Holy Spirit Mazda Lord;
Strength to my Soul grant Thou, and Life renewed,
The gifts of Vohu Man as
taught by Thee.
(Gatha Vohukshthra 7 : Ys. 51.7)
(Blank Verse Translation by
“While all religions of
the primitive type tried to keep them bound with regulations of external
observances. Zoroaster showed the path to freedom to man, the freedom of moral
choice, the freedom from blind obedience to meaningless injunctions, the freedom
from multiplicity of shrines” (Rabindranath
We apologize for the delay
in dispatching a printed edition of Informal Religious Meetings’ “USHAO”
from Karachi, due to unavoidable circumstances. However, to ensure your
continued reading pleasure, we are pleased to send an e-mail edition of
“USHAO” in MS Word format. If you enjoy reading it, then feel free
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LET US NOT LOSE OUR VISION – THE MESSAGE OF
Dr. Jimmy Nadirshaw
subject of today’s discussion is at once challenging and perplexing. It is in
two interconnected and interwoven parts:
1. Let us not lose our
vision. 2. The Message of the Gathas.
regards the first part, the challenge and the perplexing are in the vision. What
is our vision, or to put it in another way, Quo Vadis,
Zoroastrian probably has his own answer, his own vision for the future of
Zoroastrains. Mine is to see a well-knit, cohesive band of people, who,
(to incorporate the second part), not only strive to spread, but also to live
the message of the Gathas.
lies the challenge of the second part. What is the message of the Gathas? To my
mind, the message of the Gathas is myriad. Each time I try to assimilate the
message and meaning of a part of the Gathas, it is as if a veil is lifted and a
new message emerges.
messages are those of love, truth, the sanctity of promise or covenant, and
other familiar messages. But what is the message that is most appropriate, nay
the most vital, for the future of Zoroastrians? It is the one that is not as
obvious or evident as the ones mentioned before, but is subtly conveyd in many
portions of Zarathushtra’s beautiful
hymns – The Message of Tolerance.
Zoroastrians, as a people are basically tolerant of others around them.
Miniscule as we are in numbers, we would long since have perished had we been
belligerent or obnoxious to the non-Zoroiastrians, who would soon have snuffed
us out by their sheer overwhelming numbers. That is not to say that we have been
tolerant or submissive just for survival. Tolerance towards others has been
inborn and in-built within us and has always been part of way of our
operative words in the last statement are “towards others”. Our tolerance and
peaceful coexistence are bywords as regards our relationship with people outside
our religion and communities in India and abroad. What about our behavior
and feelings for each other within our religion and our own community? Are we
tolerant of one another’s views about our own wonderful religion as we are of
the religious views of the people of other religions?
If we are
honest to ourselves, we most certainly are not. As emphasized by our chairman
Prof. Kaikhosrov Irani, in one of his talks in Bombay some time ago, we have two
zealous and vociferous groups of Zoroastrians carrying the two banners of
‘orthodoxy’ and ‘liberalism’ forming two poles of thought, and being
figuratively (and vocally) at each other’s throats.
leaves a large volume of individuals caught in the verbal and written crossfire
between the two extreme groups, getting progressively more confused and dismayed
not only by the number of topics on which these groups differ but especially by
the viciousness of the attacks of one group on the other. The decencies of
debate are totally discarded leaving only hollow invective and vituperation that
are being increasingly indulged in by the warring factions
is no respect for the feelings of persons with different views, and instead of
consciously and rationally trying to reconcile these differing streams of
thought, there is thoughtless mudslinging and deliberate widening of the
intellectual gulf by the use of language and sometimes even actions more suited
to a savage, ignorant and intolerant society than to the enlightened and
educated people that the vast majority of Zoroastrians are.
The Zoroastrian community is being torn asunder by the fissiparous ideas and sentiments of the two warring factions, and more so by the war of words and the language indulged in by them. It would be no exaggeration to describe the plight of the community today in the words of Mother-Earth pleading to Ahura Mazda in the Gathas:
“Torn apart am I by anger and aggression” (Line 3 Ys.29.1)
These words in microcosm
reflect the state of our community at present. One can understand that there are
bound to be difference of opinion between two groups, and wide differences at
that. But why should these differences be further widened by hurtful and abusive
language at each other?
the bane of the Zoroastrian community today – the tendency to hurt each other
not only by exaggerating the differences between them but by using
language that is derogatory and demeaning. This is not what Asho Zarathushtra meant when he
“Unto him shall accrue
the Best, who being wise, shall spread my Truth to the rest” (Yasna
He did not advocate the propagation of his religion by acrimony and hurting
peoples’ feelings, but rather by appealing to their good sense and trying to
make them see the light with temperate language, and un-hurtful benign advocacy.
This is borne out by Zarathushtra’s invocation to
Ahura Mazda in Gatha Ahunavaiti, Ha 28.5:
mazishtem,vauroimaidi khrafstra hizva.”
“Through Thy word, by the
sweetness of our tongues may we turn back the ignorant astray” (from the
Path of Asha).
my mind, is one of the most important messages of the Gathas – one that is most
valuable in today’s fissiparous times that we discuss and try to settle our
differences not by the acrimonious wrangling but by trying to convince our
adversaries by “the sweetness of our tongues”. It is simple yet a profound
message of immense value and import in the context of self-destroying dissension
and the “anger and aggression” which is tearing apart our small community
importance of this message and its total relevance to the warring tendencies
prevalent in our society is recognized, numerous passages in the Gathas can be
found extolling the virtues of tolerance and advocating the control of
“Control anger and root out
hatred and violence (all ye) who would hold fast to Vohu Mano” (Yasna
On the contrary, Zarathushtra advises us to
use the “deep wisdom of Vohu Mano – the loving mind in serving our
“Mazda Ahura through His
Kshathra, has decreed that we serve our human flock for the sake of their
advancement in Truth through the wisdom of the Loving Mind” (Yasna
Zarathustra, in the broadness of his vision and the breadth of his love, sees
good even in his enemies of the Turanian clan and declares that when
righteousness and humility arise in his followers, Fryana of Turanian clan will
unite them and through Vohu Mano they will realize the Laws of Ahura Mazda that
will lead them to Bliss.
“When Righteousness arises
in the members of the dynasty of the powerful Turanian, Fryana the
Then shall emerge in them wisdom and piety,
Leading to advancement of
Life through Armaity.
Then Frayana through Vohu Mano shall forge their unity,
And Ahura Mazda shows them the Path to Divinity
If Zarathushtra can see so much
good in his traditional foes and sing of the power of the Loving Mind – Vohu
Mano – to show them the Light, who are we to run down, ridicule and antagonize
our so-called enemies and engage in name-calling, wrangling and indulge in petty
squabbles with them?
context, it would not be out of place to quote relevant excerpts from the works
of Samuel Laing, a non-Zoroastrian who was always an ardent admirer not only of
the Zoroastrian religion but also of its followers:
prejudiced and hot-headed this might smack of appeasement or sitting on the
fence, but another quote from Samuel Laing describes the real position in
strength stands firm in the middle between the two opposite poles, while
weakness is drawn by one or other of the conflicting attractions into the
falsehood of extremes”.
therefore try to mend our fences and reconcile our differences rather than
widening the gulf that threatens to destroy us, and do this right now, as time
is running out, and our differences may soon be irreconcilable. In conclusion Zarathushtra exhorts us, as
quoted in Ys.48.7, 28.5 and 45.9 to eschew anger and aggression, and instead use
our ‘Loving Mind’ and the sweetness of our tongues to outline the Path of Truth
to our fellow men.
This to my mind is the message of the Gathas, which is the most relevant to our community in its present state of evolution. Let us not therefore, lose our vision, that of an enlightened community living in harmony and realize the teachings of our great Prophet by living the religion he has revealed to us in his Gathas.
19th August 2001)
-HEROINES OF ANCIENT
The Marchioness of
Rudaba a maiden of
surpassing loveliness, was the daughter of Mirab, King of Kabul, who was a
descendant of Zahhak, and Zal was the son of Sam, the ruler of Zabulistan, who
had abandoned him as a babe, because his hair had been white from birth. As the
legend runs, a fabulous bird called Simurg, discovering the infant wailing on
Mount Alburz, had taken pity upon him and brought him up. We are told how, in
the years that followed, his father repented and suffered the bitterest remorse
for his cruelty, so that when news reached him that the child had survived he
was transported with joy. He forthwith named him as his successor and promised,
in his supreme gratitude, to deny him no wish of his heart. Zal grew to be a
tall and extraordinary attractive youth, and being of an ambitious turn of mind,
resolved on reaching manhood to make a tour of the empire, including the
frontiers of Hindustan
Arriving near Kabul, King Mihrab came out to welcome him in royal array. Their meeting was celebrated with much pomp and the King was greatly impressed by Zal’s personality. During the young man’s stay at the palace, he learned of the princess Rudaba, through one of the courtiers, who described her thus:
A damsel beautiful, screened from the view of the man,
Her face is radiant than the bright sun,
From head to foot all ivory she,
Tall like the teak-tree, cheeks like Paradise!
Over her silvery neck hang musky locks,
The tips of which like banded anklets curve.
Her mouth a pomegranate bud, cherries her lips.
Two grains of nard swell on her silvery breasts.
Her eyes shine as narcissus in the girth.
Her lashes stole their hues from the raven’s wing.
Her arch -like brows, the famed bows of Taraz,
Fragrant of musk, dark as bark of Tuz.
Wouldst ask the moon? That is her beauteous face.
Wouldst seek the scent of musk? It is her hair.
She’s Paradise adorned in each detail;
Perfect in grace, in joy and every charm!
This description aroused
such tumult in the heart of Zal that he became restless with longing for a sight
of the maiden.
on her part, had become more than a little interested in Zal, having been
present when her parents when discussing him. She had heard her father describe
him as the greatest hero and the strongest warrior on earth, dwelling on his
singularly attractive personality, which his snow-white hair but enhanced. She
found herself unable to sleep for thinking of him, and, in her yearning for
sympathy, confided the secret to her waiting-maids, who were shocked at the
idea, and assured her that her father would never give his consent to a marriage
with a white-haired man. She thereupon became angry, declaring passionately that
Zal meant more to her than did the mighty King of the West or any power on
earth. The maids, touched by her earnestness and her grief, sought means by
which to aid her.
as they sauntered down towards the river to gather roses, they happened to
descry Zal’s royal tent on the opposite bank and he catching sight of the girls,
enquired whence they came. On learning that they were the Princess Rudab’s
maids, his heart beat wildly and, summoning his attendant, he ordered him to
bring his bow. He strung the bow, wounded a water-foul on the farther side
of the stream, and then dispatched an attendant in a boat to fetch it. When the
boy landed on the other bank he was questioned by the maids, well aware of the
stratagem, as to the archer who had made so skilful a shot. When he told them,
they proceeded to speak of their Princess and her wondrous beauty, expressing a
wish that Zal should meet her; thereupon the lad returned swiftly with the
information. Zal, overjoyed, sent precious gems to the damsels as gifts for
Rudaba, and they sent back word that they would contrive a secret meeting
between him and the Princess, whose heart was already sat on him. Upon receipt
of the message, Zal seized a boat and speedily joined the maidens, who made him
obeisance and spoke to him of their mistress in such
A nonpareil the fair Rudaba is,
A silvery cypress, both in hue and scent.
A rose, a jasmine, fair from top to toe.
Tall to surmount Canopus viewed from Yaman.
Luscious the wine her face distils, thou would say,
And every lock of hair hath amber scent.
From dome of silver her locks droop to earth
Like ambush-snares over her rose-like cheeks.
Such hair, plaited with musk and ambergris!
While decked her form with rubies fine and gems
And over all, like coat of woven mail,
Tresses and musky locks fall link to link.
Homage to her the moon and pleiads
came to pass that, on a certain night, the meeting between the lovers took
place. Zal made for a secluded spot beneath the wall of Rudaba’s bower, high in
the towering castle, and presently Rudaba appeared above, like some enchanting
sprite, and breathed his name softly. But the lofty parapet where she stood
prevented Zal from seeing her face. He begged to be allowed one glimpse of the
fairest face on earth, so she loosened her long, black hair and bade him use her
tresses as a rope for ascending. Disdaining to commit such a sacrilege, he but
bestowed kisses upon her beautiful locks, and procuring from his servant a lasso
cord, he flung it aloft and climbed to haste to the bower of bliss, where the
lovers sat and gazed upon each other rapturously. But their hearts grew sore
when they realized the obstacles that blocked their pathway to happiness, Zal
knowing full well that King Minuchihr of Iran and his own father, Sam, would
never consent to their marriage. Despite such opposition, however, he swore he
would wed none but Rudaba, and she, in turn, vowed that she would bestow her
hand on none but Zal. Thus they sat, side by side, till dawn broke, when with
many embraces and protestations of eternal affection the lovers
went on his way sadly, he recalled the promise his father had made many years
ago when he discovered him on Mont Alburz, and forthwith decided to write and
impart to him his precious secret. When Sam received the letter he was
torn with misgivings, and sought the advice of his priests and astrologers.
After some days had elapsed, these wise men presented themselves at the castle
with joyful countenances, and assured him that a union between his son and the
Princess was destined to bring nothing but good in train. Sam therefore,
returned a kind and hopeful message to Zal, who hastened to apprise Rudaba of
the glad tidings, on receipt of which she promptly dispatched a handmaiden with
a robe and a ring as gifts to her beloved. As the messenger was making her way
out of the palace, she was caught by Queen Sindukht. The handmaiden tried to
shield Rudaba; but the Queen forced her to disclose the secret. She had a high
opinion of Zal, and was greatly distressed, fearing her husband’s anger when he
would learn the truth. With trembling voice, she broke to him the news, and the
King, almost beside himself with rage, threatened to kill his daughter.
Sindukht, however, succeeded in reducing him to a calmer frame of
Meanwhile, Zal’s father had approached King Minuchihr to ask his consent to the
marriage, whereupon that monarch became highly incensed, and ordered Sam to get
together the army immediately and destroy Kabul and every descendant of Zahhak.
Sam heard him coolly, deeming it the better policy, and, with his troops, set
forth for Kabul. When this came to the ears of Zal, he went to meet his father,
and implored him to make one last effort by writing to the King of Iran in favor
of the marriage. Sam took his son’s sons advice, suggesting that the youth
himself be the bearer of the missive. So Zal proceeded to Iran, where he was
received with all honor. His valor and charming personality instantly won the
heart of Minuchihr, and touched by Sam’s petition on his son’s behalf he gave
his consent to the union. The threatened hostilities were, therefore, suspended.
Zal returned to Kabul, where the royal wedding was celebrated with festivities
that lasted the entire week, and Sam rose to the occasion nobly and generously
by bestowing the throne and crown of Zabulistan upon Zal.
Rudaba became the mother of Rustam, the greatest hero in the history of the Persian Kings. Her title to fame thus rests secure in the annals of ancient Iran.
(*Translation by Professor A.V. William Jackson.)
THE OBSTACLE IN OUR
ancient times, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and
watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the kingdom’s
wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it, but none
did anything about getting the big stone out of the way. Then came a peasant,
carrying a load of vegetables. On approaching the boulder, he laid down his
burden and after much pushing and straining he succeeded to move the stone to
the side of the road, and noticed a purse lying in the road where the bolder had
been. The purse contained gold coins and a note from the king indicating that
that the gold was for the person who removed the bolder from the roadway. The
peasant learned what many others never understand:
“Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve one’s condition”
The thing always happens that you believe in.
And the belief in a thing makes it happen.
(Excerpted from ‘The Ethical
System of Zoroaster by Baker Hudson)
If we would train a baby to be an
intellect we do not start with metaphysics, but by means of toys and games, of
simple songs and pictured forms we seek to draw the intellect out from its
hiding place by gradual and easy stages. So, Zoroaster has milk for the babes
and stronger meat for those whose growth demands it. Every man, woman, and child
is taught to be pure, clean and wholesome within and without; and every act of
purity is God’s good work, however small it be.
earth the man walks on, the home he inhabits, the clothes that cover him, the
food he eats, the water he drinks or washes in, all are to be kept
pure, and many are laws laid down for the preservation of this sacred purity.
Vowed to the God and Pure, he must in every act hold purity before him, thus
being a helper of Ahura in the manifestation of His Goodness. That the
primitive instructions of the Master have been overlaid with much seems to us
childish and superstitious, may be the case, but it has had a definite and,
physically speaking, a good effect upon the race is
Laing states that the Parsis who, are the modern representatives of the ancient
Zoroastrians, have shown incontestably their greater vitality and care for human
life. And when it is added that the Parsis are renowned the world over for their
probity, high morality and intellectuality and benevolence, it does seem as
though the body of teaching contained in the Avesta was indeed a priceless
disciple of Zoroaster was thus taught to seek only after good, the true and
beautiful, All his life was to be attuned to these; the senses were to be kept
operating on things of purity, and when the man communed with his soul it was
through these three qualities that he learned to know his
triad of Sroash, Rashnu aand Mitra, the three- brother Yazatas enjoy special
prominence. They see to it that justice is done and that every individual
receives the proper consequences of his or her actions,
represents God’s all-hearing ears, Mitra represents God’s all-seeing eyes, and
Rashnu acts as the presiding judge, representing God’s judgment. With such
construction of court no facts can be hidden or undisclosed. Consequently,
perfect justice is assured.
metaphor is beautiful and
“No one should put down
any religion. We are all going to the same place only by different