USHAOe-mail edition 




Daidi  moi  ye  gam tasho,

apascha, urvaraoscha: 

Ameretata  haurvata

spenishta  mainyu  Mazda: 

Tevishi  utayuti,

Mananghaha  vohu  senghahe. 

O Thou Creator of Mother-Earth,

Creator, Thou, of Waters and of Plants,

Grant me Perfection an Immortal Life. 

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 Irach J.S.Taraporewala) 

“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 Tagore) 

Dear Reader, 

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 to forward it to a friend. 




Dr. Jimmy Nadirshaw Sidhva 

    The 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. 

    As 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, Zoroastrians? 

    Each 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. 

    Therein 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. 

   The obvious 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 life. 

    But the 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. 

    This 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 

    -There 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?    

    This is 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 declared: 

Unto him shall accrue the Best, who being wise, shall spread my Truth to the rest” (Yasna 31.6) 

    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:  

“Ana manthra 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). 

    This to 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 today. 

    Once the 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 anger. 

“Control anger and root out hatred and violence (all ye) who would hold fast to Vohu Mano” (Yasna 48,7) 

On the contrary, Zarathushtra advises us to use the “deep wisdom of  Vohu Mano – the loving mind in serving our brethren: 

“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 45.9) 

    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 Mighty, 

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

(Yasna 46.12) 

    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? 

    In this 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: 

  1. “Every man’s little individual efforts (should be) exerted towards making the world a little better than a little worse than he found it, rather than wrangling with his fellow mortals about creeds and attempts to name the un-nameable and define the un-definable, seems to me to be the religion of the future”.  
  2. “Learn, before indulging in vehement assertions and proceeding to violent extremities, to look at the other side of the shield”.

    To the 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 nutshell: 

    “True 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”. 

    Let us 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.

(Courtesy: “Jam-e-Jmamshed” 19th August 2001) 



The Marchioness of Winchester 

Story  of  Rudaba 

  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:

This description aroused such tumult in the heart of Zal that he became restless with longing for a sight of the maiden. 

    Rudaba, 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. 

    One day 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 panegyrics: 

    So it 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 parted. 

    As Zal 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 mind. 

    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.)



    In 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”

(Brian Cavanaugh) 

The thing always happens that you believe in.

And the belief in a thing makes it happen.

(Frank Lloyd Wright) 



(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. 

    The 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 unquestionable.     

    Samuel 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 treasure. 

    A 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 God. 


    The 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, 

    Sarosh 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. 

    Undoubtedly the metaphor is beautiful and impressive 

“No one should put down any religion. We are all going to the same place only by different paths”