RELIGIOUS MEETINGS PUBLICATION
Us moi Uzareshva Ahura
Spenishta mainyu Mazda,
Asha hazo, emavat,
Uplift me, oh Ahura and enlighten me,
steadfast Devotion unto me
Oh Most Supreme Being, Mazda,
do Thou reward my good
With Righteousness, Endurance, Courage
and the Leadership of Good
We are all born for love
It is the principle of existence, and its only end.
THE COMMON FEATURES OF ANCIENT IRANIAN
AND INDIAN CIVILIZATION
(This essay of Dr. Madan
was adjudged to be the best essay for the Essay Prize Competition held by Iran
Cultural House, on the occasion of the 2500th Anniversary of the
Founding of the Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great, celebrated in October 1971,
when Dr. Madan was declared as the winner of the said competition)
Similarity of some
religious features of Zoroastrianism and Hinduism.
wo of the learned ancient Hindu philosophers, viz. Changranhoaoh and Bias came to the court of Shah Kai Vishtasp to debate with Zarathushtra about his religion, but ‘those who came to scoff remained to pray’ and both had to accept the excellence of the Zoroastrian faith and on their return to India, it is said that 80,000 people were convinced that they adopted the principles of the Righteous Faith and the Fire Cult (Agni Puja) became popular. In his “Ethical Conceptions of the Gathas” Mr. Chatterji’s statements are briefly as follows:-
Pancha Ratirya School,
i.e. prayers five times a day must be offered; this was the oldest system
and became the source of Bhakti Cult who believed in Sweta guna, or
Spenta-Mainyu, or the Good Spirit and so there are were no blood sacrifices, no
ascetic renunciation, but a very high order of purity, Bhakti, and “as you sow,
so shall you reap, i.e. Karma principle. Also the rites and creeds of this
Pancha Ratriya sect and the Zoroastrian cult are almost the same. The founder of
the school was Narayana or Narosh Nara as first stated in the Satha Patha
Zarathushtra is spoken of as
Rishi Kapila; his theory of Cosmic Evolution under the gunas
(forces) was known as Sankhya, i.e. knowledge that fully satisfies, and
an eminent leader of this, system was Pancha Sikha, also known as Second Kapila
and a worthy of Ahura.
Swetaswatara Upanishad, praises Rishi Kapila (Zarthushtra) as, “God inspired
Kapila with knowledge and saw him flourishing” In the Bandhayana Sutra an
earlier work than the Upanishad, the same remark is repeated and also that
Kapila was a Worshipper of Ahura Mazda. Also the Mahabharata states that
Kapila was an Asuri or worshipper of Ahura.
Kapila means camel-colored, and Zarthushtra means yellow or golden camel. Before the Brahamanas were written, Atharva Veda was written in two distinct parts. The Bharghava section was written in Zend and became later obsolete in India. The Bhargava Veda was considered to be the Vedas of the Magians, because it represents the cult of Asura worship, i.e. the reverence and preservation of Fire as first taught by Zarthushtra. Every chapter of the Mahabharata, begins by doing homage to Nara and Narayana (Zarathushtra), because the philosophy belongs to Zarthushtra of Iran. Narayana represents Zarthushtra, just as Christ for Jesus and Budha means Gautama. “Indeed the whole outlook of the Mahabharata, the non-ascetic, positive, militant philosophy may be said to be only an amplification of the principles of the Gathas.” Thus Chatterjee has ably proved the impact of Zoroastrianism over early Hindusim and has also shown the points of similarity. Before the Mahabharata, the Aryans were united, but afterwards there was a division, because the Asura and Deva cults fought, and the Asura cult was driven out of India. “Among all the nations and races who have come in contact with India, none of them has so ever lasting influence on our culture and civilization as that of the Iranians”, says Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in his “Discovery of India”, P. 137
are some important facts extracted from “Ancient Indian CultCivilization:” by
Prof. K.C.Chakravati , Prof. of History, M.T.B. College,
the Aryans were in Central Asia. One group went to Persia, then to Afghanistan,
N.W. Frontier Province and the Punjab, the land of the seven rivers---Sapta
Sindhu. The others went to Europe. Aryaverta was the land of upper India
where they spread their culture, forms of worship, social institutions, ideas
and beliefs and generally superceded those of the local inhabitants. Comparative
philology shows the names of the gods and goddesses, forms of worship, etc.,
were basically the same. Varuna was the God of both the Indian Aryans and the
Alexander’s death in 323 B.C., the Chandragupta Maurya was king of the
Maghada empire including Punjab and Gandhar. Pataliputra was the capital and was
a cosmopolitan city. Chandragupta having come from Persia, administered the
country in the Iranian style, as successfully done by the famous
Achaemenian great monarchs. When Asoka---the philosopher king of India
ruled he greatly followed the Achaemenian pattern of social reforms, political
methods and administration, architecture etc. Prof. Chakravati states, “The
innumerable stupas, pillars, with capitals, particularly the Persian bell-shaped
capital, the figures of the lions, the Yaksha and the Yakshini figures
bear resemblance with Persian models. As practically no work of art,
sculpture and painting previous to the Maurya period are available, and as the
works of art of this period now extant are so superior in workmanship and
conception, so the real artistic period begins with the Mauryas and that was due
to the Persian influence. The Maurya king and first emperor of India was
Chandragupta and had come from Iran so he naturally enforced all the Iranian
methods in India.
Hunter in Asiatic Researches, Vol. I, Page 8 in 1769 states, “The Rajah
of Oudeipor is the head of the Rajputs…in consequence of a curious tradition
relating to his genealogy, is said to be descended in the female line from
celebrated Anushirwan who was king of Persia”.
influence is seen in the early Mauryan coins, because these coins show the Sun,
the Bull, the Branch. Solar worship of the Persian Magi, abounds in Buddhisim,
and Dr. Spooner, therefore infers that Gautama who was a member of the domiciled
Iranian or Magian community, through the medium of an Indianised
Zoroastrianism, united the Hindus and Iranians. The Maha-Yana School of
Buddhism has Zoroastrian Philosophy and so the dogma of Ahimsa which
belonged to the original Hana-yana school, was given a wider outlook by the
Maha-Yana school and changed into the creed of Ashish or
benevolence. Lokmanya Tilak also traces the origin of the Maha-yana
School to the impact of Buddhisim with the Panch Ratriya Sect which originated
from Rishi Narayana of Mahabharata who is no other than Ratu Zarthushtra of
Iran. Buddha owed his inspiration of an ethical religion to Rishi Kapila whom he
called the great Rishi.
veneration for the cow in both Hinduism and Zoroastrianism. Both have
purificatory ceremonies with the Gomez (cow’s urine) which is a known
antiseptic and disinfectant.
Ahimsa or non-violence, kindness to animals is strongly advised in both the religions. Yasna, Ha 12 which is declaration of faith, the Zoroastrian promises to uphold righteousness in thoughts, words, and deeds, to always remain peaceful and not to use any weapons---nithasnitheishem
following is an example of a part of a hymn which is exactly the same in Avesta
(Ushtavaiti Gatha, Yasna XLIV,3) and in the Veda.
In Avesta: “Kem-na Mazda, mavaite payum dada,t
Hayat ma dregvao deedarshta aenanghe?
Anyem thwwamat athrascha mananghascha.
Yayao shyothnaish ashem tharosta Ahura
Tam moi danstvam daenayai
In Sanskrit: “Kon-na mahadya mavate payum
Yat ma dreghavannadidhrishata enase
tam me doumsatam deenaai
man O Mazda! Hast thou bestowed upon persons like myself, as protector, in case
the infidel ventures on attacking me for injuring? Who else than Thy Fire and
Thy mind, by whose activities the Divine order in creation is preserved? O Ahura
! reveal unto me that enlightenment for the sake of
implies peaceful actions done through the good mind and the inner Spiritual Fire
within us, increase Asha, or righteousness and implicit Faith in
Gathas and the Vedic hymns have the same nature of meters. Dr. Haug states.
“Among the meters used in Yajurveda, we find several which are marked by the
epithet Asuri, e.g. Gayatri Asuri, Ushni Asuri, and Pankti Asuri. These Asur
meters are actually to be found in the Gatha literature of the Zend Avesta.”
Common Features of The
Achaemenian Inscriptions and Asoka’s Rock Edits.
innumerable inscriptions on rocks and pillars spread all over his vast empire in
India, show great similarity with the Achaemenian rock inscriptions in Iran.
This is noticeable from the voluminous work, “Inscriptions of Asoka” by E.
Hultzsch, Ph.D. 1925.
used by Darius: “I Darayuhs, powerful king of kings, etc.,
used by Asoka: “Deva nanampriya Priyadarsin Raja etc.,
evidently a reminiscence and modification of the Achaemenian formula” , says E.
Hultzach and concludes that when the provinces of Sindhu and Gandhara
belonged to the Persian Empire, they were mentioned as Hindu and Gandhara in the
inscriptions of Darius at Persepolis and also at Naqsh-i-Rustam and Herodotus
names the tribes living there in India as composing the army of
Tushaspha, the name of the Yavana king, who was Asoka’s governor of Girnar, is a
Persian word like Vishtaspa, Kersaspa, etc. and suggest that Asoka enlisted
Iranian in his services.
precepts on Asoka’s edicts are indeed admirable, e.g. kindness to animals,
non-violence (Ahimsa), helping others, courtesy to all, even to subordinates,
right performance of duties, morality in all we do, etc.; but all these have
been quite well-known Iranian injunctions since thousand of years B.C., when the
holy prophet Zarathushtra
first propounded to the world, the philosophy of Righteousness (Ashoi) in
thoughts, words and deeds.
ancient Iranian monarchs of the Pishdadian and Kianian dynasties which was the
golden period of Iranian history enforced all these moral precepts. Thereafter,
the illustrious emperors of the Achaemenian period, viz., Cyrus the Great and
Darius the Great and the others followed their footsteps and became ideal
rulers, as they practiced the Zoroastrian teaching, “Happiness unto him who
makes others happy”.
Maurya and his descendents including Asoka the Great had come from Iran and so
knew the Iranian history, their doctrines, etc., and introduced all the good
things that appealed to them. Virtuous ideas inscribed on Asoka’s rock and
pillar edicts were zealously followed by the kings and people of ancient Iran,
and so, it would be “carrying coals to Newcastle” if any one tries to lecture
the moral precepts of Asoka’s edicts to the Iranians.
I of Dabistan or School of Manners, translated by Shea and Troyer, P.52-3, it is
claimed by the Persians that they had Fire-temples at Dwarka, Gaya and Mathura.
Gaya was an early seat of Magian worship. Gautama, as a religious student
“went thither as to the holy place of his own people---the Zoroastrians.” Gaya
was sacred to the Magian Brahmns, and they did not accept Gautama’s reforms.
Some scholars believe that Gautama of Fravardin Yasht was Gautama Budha. Darius
annexed Taksasila (Taxilla) to the Persian empire and a Persian satrap (Viceroy)
ruled there for two centuries and every institution was based on the Achaemenian
style. And a big Fire-temple without images was discovered at
Multan, there is a Sun-temple which owes its origin to Persia” says K.N.
Sitaram. Behram-Gor (Sassanian King 420-438 A.D.) had come to Kathiwar and
married an Indian princess. There are Pahlavi inscriptions at St.Thomas Mount
near Madras. The Pallavas ,the rulers of Kanchi are none other than
Persians who like the Magas and other tribes got absorbed in Hindu society. The
Iranians were known much before the exodus of Parsis to Sanjan as artists and
merchants, etc. “they have been amply repaying the debt they owed to India.”
History of India” by V.A. Smith states that there were Indo-Parthian rulers in
India, and Parsika means Persian, as Parsik is the Pahlavi word
for an inhabitant of Pars, i.e. the ancient Persis or modern Fars. The Magas
used the Avestan word “Paitidana” or Padan, i.e. a mask over the
mouth whilst praying and they worshiped Sraosha, the Iranian
Prof. Max Muller states, “ even by geographical evidence it can now be proved
that Zoroastrians settled in India before they migrated into Persia.” Dr. J. J.
Mody and Prof. Darmesteter maintain that the tradition about the fort of Jamrud
in the Khyber Pass is that it was connected with the name of King Jamshid of the
The Encyclopaedia Britannica, ed XI; Vol. 21, P.18 mentions that on
Kanishka’s coins, Iranian divinities predominate, viz. “Muro” (Meher,
i.e. sun), “ Mao” (Mah i.e. Moon), “Athsho” (Atash i.e. Fire), “Haoreoro”
(Shehrevar), Orthagno (Verethraghan), Havrro (Havarena – kingly glory), Nana
(Anahita) etc. All this is a syncretism of Buddhism and
P. P. Bulsara has stated that the various Brahmans of India, viz. the Magas, and the Gandharas of the North and the Kashmiri Brahmans and also those who in South India who were the Pahlavas near Kanchipuram or Kanjivarem, near Madras, were Iranian Athravans ,but due to the close social and religious contacts with the natives of India, lost their individuality and got merged with them in course of time.
There are many similarities regarding Fire Worship in the prayers of
Zoroastrian religion and in the Vedic hymns. The invocation praise,
glorification and asking boons and blessings from Athra or Agni is
almost the same.
Avesta, Yasna 33, para 12, 13, which are parts of the Ahunuvad Gatha and also in
the Atash Niayesh are the blessings which the devotee craves for, viz. purity,
strength, greatness and leadership, health and happiness. In the Vedic Hymns,
Mandala V, hymn 26, purification by Agni is requested. The word “puthra” or
purifier is found in the Avesta also, “atash puther Ahuromazdao”
means the divine purifier, and also the son of Ahura Mazda. Fire in the Avesta
is exalted as “Mazishta Yazed”, i.e. the greatest angel, so in Mandala I hy,
146, he is “Mahah” or the great worthy One. The Atash Niayesh prayer
begins as “gorzeh khoreh avazayad…” i.e. may the “khore” (aura or brilliance) of
the fire be magnified. In the very first verse of the Rig-Veda, it is
stated “I magnify Agni.” Fire is the symbol of Divinity in the Avesta and
Nairosangh is the messenger who carries our prayers and supplications
quickly to God and also brings down the blessings to the worthy and righteous
devotee. Atash Nariosangh is stated with the same functions in the Vedas.
Athravan the name of the priest, is the same. The Hota in the Rig Veda is
identical with Zota in Avesta means the reciter of the hymns The word
Yasna corresponds to the Sanskrit word Yajna or sacrifice. The
Soma and the Homa are the same plants of which the juice is
Originally pure Vedism and pure Zoroastrianism were one. Later on
interpretations of words caused deviations.
Mills, Prof. Of Zend Philology, Oxford, states the “rita” of Veda is the “asha”
of the Avesta. “Kshatra” is “Khashathra”. “Aramati” is “Aramaiti”.
“Sarasvati” is “Haurvatat”. “Vasumanas”, which is “Vohumano” is the name of the
Vedic seer. Dr. Mills states , “the Avesta and the Veda are ancient sisters,
as no one now pretends to doubt .”
he story of Katayun,
Kitabun, or Nahid, in the Shahnama has a peculiar interest,
because this daughter of the King of Rum1 married Gushtasp, or Kava
Vishtaspa of the Avesta, who later became famous as the patron of the
Zoroaster’s religion. The fair Princess Katayun2 was the eldest of
the three daughters of the sovereign of the west, the Kirsa of Rum, as told in
the introductory lines of Firdausi’s account of Luhrasp, father of Gushtasp, who
succeeded Kai Khusrau to the throne of Iran. The Kisra of Rum, we are told was a
descendant of Salm. Son of Faridun and Shahrinaz. A union through a royal
marriage, that would bring Iran and Rum into closer connection, is a happy
theme, and Firdausi develops the romantic story, describing how this beauty from
the west became the wife of Gushtasp, son of Lohrasp.
was very fond of the grandsons of Kia Kaus, in consequence of which the heroic
young Gushtasp suspected that his father might give the throne to one of them.
He was, therefore, greatly troubled. One day, when the King was feasting the
nobles, Gushtasp joined the party, and all made merry and drank freely. In the
midst of the rejoicing, the youth turned suddenly to his father and asked him to
bestow the throne upon him. The King replied that he was too young, whereupon
Gushtasp became filled with anger and quitted the court, leaving Iran for
the custom in Rum, when a Princess reached marriageable age, to assemble all the
Princes and Noblemen that she might choose a husband from among their
number3. At a given time the Princess would enter, but surrounded so
completely by her handmaidens that her suitors could obtain no possible glimpse
of her. The night before such an assembly was to be held for Katayun, she
dreamed that among the noble gathering was seated a handsome young man of kingly
bearing, whom she forthwith selected as her husband, in token whereof she gave
him a bouquet of sweet-scented flowers. The following morning she awoke, greatly
excited. Procuring a bunch of fresh narcissi, she entered the grand assembly of
Princes, but she saw not one amongst them whom she liked. Filled with
disappointment that her dream had not come true, she withdrew to her apartments
and wept bitterly.
day the King summoned another gathering, this time not of Princes, but of
wealthy Nobles, hoping that one of them might prove sufficiently attractive to
win the love of Katayun. To this second assembly came Gushtasp at the advice of
the kindly village chieftain, who had befriended him since he left his father’s
palace. “Come!” said the good man, “the sight of so much beauty and splendor may
perhaps cheer thy sad, young heart.” He further advised him to assume the name
of Farukhzad, deeming it more prudent.
appointed hour Katayun again entered with her bouquet of narcissi. Glancing
round, she suddenly caught sight of Gushtasp. Her heart gladdened as she
recognized in him the hero of her dream. She approached him joyously and “set
the rich and splendid coronal upon his glorious brow”, receiving from him a
token of love in return. Neither Katayun nor her father, however, was aware that
the suitor who had won her hand was of royal blood. The King was, in fact,
extremely angry at his daughter’s choice of the stranger, and said he would
behead both of them. The minister, Katayun’s tutor, however, intervened,
remonstrating with him severely: “Thou didst but say to thy daughter: ‘Choose a
husband’. She hath obeyed, and chosen one to her liking. Submit thyself to the
will of God.” The King accordingly withdrew the sentence of death, but, his
anger still unabated, he banished the young couple from the palace, without
money, jewels or possessions of any kind. Fortunately, Katayun had on her person
a few rare gems and trinkets, and from proceeds of these contrived to live in a
meager way. They made their home in the village, and Gushtasp passed his
days in hunting.
time later Katayun’s sisters were sought in marriage by two noble youths. When
one of them, Mirin, a Ruman chief, asked the King for the hand of his daughter
Dilanjam, he promised to give his consent if he could perform a deed of great
prowess: namely to kill the monster-wolf that roamed the forest of Faskun to the
terror of everybody. Mirin departed, sorely perplexed, and studied his
horoscope, where he saw, knitted together with his own fortunes, a bold young
warrior from Iran, who would become the son-in-law of the Kisra. Mirin, having
heard the story of Gushtasp and his marriage with Katayun, went to seek him in
the village, where he had already become famous for his remarkable daring and
personality. When he learned the object of Mirin’s visit to him, Gushtasp
immediately repaired to the forest and succeeded in slaying the wolf. In his
intense gratitude, Mirin proceeded to shower gifts upon him ,but Gushtasp
refused to accept anything. Returning to the palace, the young man went straight
to the King and claimed that he had slain the wolf. The Kisra, beholding the
dead monster, and struck by such bravery, at once bestowed his daughter upon
Ahran, another Ruman chief, wished to marry his youngest daughter, the King made
a condition still more hazardous. He suggested that the youth should kill
the hideous dragon that infested Mount Sakila. Ahran sought the advice of Mirin,
who told him the truth concerning the slaying of the wolf. He also asked
Gushtasp’s help, and that dauntless warrior, ever eager for the most perilous
enterprise, promptly consented. After days of toil Gushtasp succeeded in
tracking down the dragon and killing it. Having on an impulse extracted the
monster’s teeth, he delivered the carcass over to Ahran, who bore it in triumph
to the King. He was instantly rewarded by receiving the hand of the fair
Princess, and the monarch was filled with pride at having secured two such
time later, the Kisra arranged for a display of polo and archery to be held in
the riding-field attached to the palace, in which the bravest of the youths were
to take part. Katayun, the keen-witted, persuaded her husband to go and see the
exhibition. Gushtasp watched the polo. After a while he asked for a stick and
ball and joined the players. His marvelous strokes, delivered one after another,
so startled the players that they dared not renew the game. Next appeared
the gallant knights for archery, and Gushtasp again came forward. Wielding his
bow and arrow, he displayed such wonderful prowess, that the King’s curiosity
was aroused. Turning to his followers, he asked:
Whence is this cavalier?
Call him that I may ask him who he is---
An angel, or a mortal seeking
Gushtasp was, therefore,
summoned to the Kisra’s presence and, upon questioning him, the monarch was
astounded to learn that he was none other than the young man he had expelled
from his palace. Gushtasp reproached him bitterly for his harshness toward his
daughter. He further revealed that it was he who had slain the wolf and the
dragon, and proved his claim by producing the teeth of the latter. Feeling much
indignation against Miran and Ahran, and repenting of his own conduct, the King
immediately sought his daughter and begged her forgiveness. Convinced that there
was some mystery in connection with “Farukhzad”, he proceeded to interrogate
her, but Katayun could tell him nothing His true identity was, however, soon to
be established for, a short time later King Luhrasp sent from the east his other
son, Zarir, or Zairivairi of the Aveseta, to ask Gushtasp to return to
Iran and to take possession of the throne. Thus, for the first time did
Katayun and her father, the sovereign of the west, know that the valiant youth
was none other than Gushtasp, heir to the throne of Iran.
Zarir succeeded in persuading his brother to return, the Kisra having obtained forgiveness of the royal Prince for the past unpleasant events and bestowed upon Katayun a dowry of great riches. Gushtasp and Katayun, accompanied by Zarir, departed in great pomp for the land of Iran. Upon their arrival the aged King Luhrasp placed the crown of sovereignty upon the head of Gushtasp, and passed the remaining days of his life in pious meditation and worship. Katayun became the queen of Iran, and ruled long over the destinies of the great land.
outstanding event in the history of Iran, and the most glorious occurrence in
the long and prosperous reign of Gushtasp, was the coming of Zarduhsht, or
Zoroaster, the prophet of ancient Iran. Space will not allow us to narrate fully
the events which led up to the conversion of Gushtasp to new religion. The
entire family, the Nobles of the realm and the people Iran followed the example
of their ruler, and the new faith soon began to spread beyond the borders of
Iran, especially under the leadership of Asfandiyar and Bishutan, the two noble
sons of Gushtasp. Turan, the traditional foe of Iran, was once more on the
war-path, this time in the name of the “old gods”. Gushtasp accepted the
challenge, and defeated Arjasp, or Arejataspa of the Avesta, the King of
Turan, after severe fighting and considerable loss of life. Among the Iranian
worthies slain was Zarir, the valiant brother of
References: 1. That is Asia Minor, the territory which later came to be known as the Eastern Roman Empire.
2. According to the Avesta, however, the name of Vishtaspa’s wife was Hutaosa, who belonged to the noble house of Naotaras; compare Yasht 15.35. It may be noted here that the romantic episode of Vishtapa’s youth, told by Firdausi and repeated by Mirkhond in his “History”, is not found either in the Avesta or the later Pahlavi writings.
3. This method of contracting marriage was known in ancient India as swyamvara, “self-choice” or “maiden’s choice”.
“Dear Lord, I thank You
for calling me to share with others Your most precious gift of laughter. May I
never forget that it is Your gift and my privilege.”
Henry Ford, the car manufacturer paid a visit to Dublin in order to open a
new orphanage. He gave $1,000 towards the cost, but the local paper reported
that he had given $10,000!
The paper apologized and asked if he’d like a correction to appear in the next edition. Not wishing to appear mean, Ford decided to give the extra $ 9,000 to the orphanage with a proviso that this text should be engraved in the stone of the building:
I was a stranger and you
took me in.