RELIGIOUS MEETINGS PUBLICATION
for the years Your strength
has kept us guided.
urged and inspired us on our way,
saved and provided us with means,
cheered and helped us in our aims,
Ahura Mazda for the years
that have passed
we bring our thanks today.
CONVENTIONAL RELIGION LOSES
ITS PRISTINE PURITY
By Dastur Dr. Maneckji N.
eligion is the way of life that the soul has to live upon earth. It is the ascending effort of man towards perfection. In its pristine purity it is the most effective, cohesive force for mankind. It aims at building a world-fellowship of men and women on the spiritual foundation.
Religion in its origin, embraces all alike and
works for unity. Institutional religion founded upon rituals and sacrifices
raises barriers of socio-religious exclusiveness between man and man and
becomes exclusive and divisive. Dogmas and doctrines founded on primitive usages
and customs, animistic practices and observances become religion, where truth
alone should be religion.
Orthodoxy is wedded to fixity. Earnest piety
of the orthodox has done incalculable harm in the name of religion all
throughout history. Infatuation for formalism is mistaken for genuine religion.
It is easier to follow outward observances and ceremonial practices that have
acquired pseudo-religious importance and to the revel in ritualistic
performances, than to act according to the inward promptings of conscience. When
emotions are uncontrolled by intellect, sentiments smothers judgment. Dogmatists
think not with brains. They assert with vehemence what their hearts aver and
lose the substance in their eager pursuit of the shadow
Sectarian bigotry believes there is no truth
outside its own belief. We quarrel with bitter acrimony over socio-religious
practices, rituals and customs. Emotions are roused to fever heat. We fly into
great tempers. Bitter polemics stir the community to its depths. Endless
dissensions and acrimonious disputations daily eat into the life of our dear
The soul feasts with joyous ecstasy upon the sweet
memories on the pious life that it has lived upon the earth and not upon the
rich repasts consecrated by the living on its behalf. In the world of the dead,
merit alone counts; worth alone wins. Rich rituals and burnt offerings
brighten not the path to paradise.
Give us wisdom, Ahura Mazda, to see that the world of our fathers lived in is not the same world that we live in today. It has moved onward and progressed and changed. Its problems have changed, and its mode of life has changed beyond recognition. The world of infant humanity has blossomed into blooming youth. Lead us, O Lord, to see that true religion is based upon human heart and Asha’s righteousness alone is that true religion.
(Source: “Homage Unto Ahura Mazda”)
FIRE IN ALL FAITHS
TAR means fire, light, and
the flame of fire. Symbolically it represents the eternal light of Ahura Mazda.
The Indo-Iranian reverence of fire was retained by Zarathushtra, and stressed
by the Magis. Fire is venerated in all faiths. In Christianity God is
characterized as “the consuming of fire”. In Islam Allah is “the Light of
sky and earth”, and in Judaism Yahweh “descended in fire upon Mount Sinai”. In
Zoroastrianism “good mentality and truth are symbolized by light, and falsehood
by darkness. God is described as the Sublime Light, and heaven interchangeably
is referred to as the Abode of Light, and the Abode of Best
As the flame of fire soars upwards, human beings
are implored to improve in order to progress in life.
(Contributed by Virasp P.
uch has been written about
our small community which is supposed to face the threat of extinction due to
diminishing numbers. Is everything lost? Are we doomed to disappear as an entity
and as one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religion?
The answer in my opinion is a distinct NO!
Our community in the past has faced many dangers and has survived in our
homelands of Iran and India. Not only did we survive but we flourished. Now a
substantial part of our community has settled in the Western World and in the
second year of the third millennium we are facing exiting opportunities as well
as challenges. I am speaking from my own experience in Australia after having
lived for over 33 years in my new land. I have seen my community of Zarathushtis
grow from a mere handful of 25 individuals to over 1,500 individuals in Sydney
alone. A very large majority of us have settled in well and have flourished. The
examples of people who could not make it in the new environment are miniscule in
number. Australia is a secular democracy where one is allowed to practice one’s
faith at will. Although till recently the majority of Australians were
Christians, other faiths including Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Baha’is and our
faith has established strong roots. A second generation of Australian
Zoroastrians have now grown up and are having children of their own. I believe
what has happened in Australia also applies to U.S.A., Canada, New Zealand and
Yet there are problems to be faced and resolved.
The first one is of identity. In the late 1970’s the Zarathushtis were either
from India or Iran. They followed the same religion of Zarathushtra but had
differences in customs, rituals, language and food. Thirty years later the
second generation is not facing that problem so acutely. First let us look at
the issue of language. The Parsees mainly spoke Gujarati at home and amongst
themselves but were fluent in English for work purposes. The Iranis spoke Farsi,
and English was a problem for some. Today the children do not have that problem
as they all speak English and other two languages have become secondary. Food
was the next separating issue. The Parsees ate spicy Indian food which our
Iranian brothers and sisters found difficulty in acquiring taste for and the
Parsees were certainly ignorant of the delicious Iranian dishes like Chelo
Kabab and the various Pilafs. Yet our children have been homogenized
by McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken as well as a distinct Australian cuisine
which has developed by the influence of 140 nationalities which have made
Australia their home.
I believe that the biggest threat faced by the
next generation is OUR FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE the essence of our great
Ask any lay Zarathushti what is the core message
of our religion and they would instantly say Manashni, Gavashni, Kunashni
(Good thoughts, words and deeds), and then may flounder when asked to
expound on that concept. We all sing praises of the Gathas which are the very
words of Asho Zarathushtra, yet no two
scholars seem to agree on the translations of his verses.
We do not need a standardized translation of the
Gathas. Even if a team of experts and scholars was formed, they would get bogged
down in semantics of what some obscure Avestan word means. What we need is a
simple explanation of what Asho Zarathushtra is trying to
say in a book prepared by well read and informed lay people who could
communicate Zarathushtra’s message in
today’s terms. His message which is pristine pure can and should be adopted to
suit the technological and material millennium in which we live in. Gone are the
days when Zarathushtis will blindly accept the tenets of Zarathushtra’s message and
religion. Our parents and grandparents believed in explicit blind faith and took
what they were told, as gospel without challenge. Our children will find it
difficult to blindly accept rituals, customs and legends, nor will they recite
the prayers in an ancient language by rote.
What we need to do as a matter of priority is to
use the modern technology—audio, visual, internet CD ROMS etc to communicate Zarathushtra’s message in a
format that the youth will relate to. Our ancient legends of Shah Nameh
need to be modernized to suit today’s media. Use videos to highlight the
exploits of our past by all means but use today’s context because that is the
only thing that our youth would relate to. By all means teach our children to
recite our prayers in Avesta and Pazand but make sure they have summary of the
prayers in English and more importantly how that message could be interpreted
for today’s world.
Our norms and customs which served us well in the
past may need to be modified to suit the present. Our community has never
been inward looking. Ancestors of Parsees made a major change in language,
customs, dress, and some rituals when they came and settled in India. We did not
lose our faith by adopting Hindu dress, customs and food. Rather we enriched
it! So there is no difficulty in adjusting to modern 21st
century customs, norms, music, dance and dress. Our children have already
adopted them with gusto. Let our generation not lag behind in that cosmetic
It is not difficult to use the modern marketing
methods, public relations techniques to repackage the ancient sublime message of
Asho Zarathushtra to suit
the needs of the 21st century. Let our children see for themselves
that there is nothing in Zarathushtra’s message which
would not stand up to the needs of our times.
Our community has always changed by Evolution and
never by Revolution. Over the years we have changed several ancient customs.
Women no longer separate themselves in menses, we do not use Gomez to
purify ourselves externally and internally.
Ancient time consuming prayer rituals like
Vendidad and Nirangdin or for that matter any religious ceremony,
which requires a consecrated fire temple are not performed outside the Indian
sub-continent, and even there with the shortage of priests it has become
difficult. While rituals are an important aid to practice a religion, they may
not be made rigid and unchanging. We have in the past forgotten the Sublime and
Divine Message of Zarathushtra and emphasized
rituals, which in turn made us dogmatic and unchanging.
Our children have been exposed to members of the
opposite sex (in some instances of the same sex) and have started living
together and marrying them. The days when Parsees and Iranis lived in
hermetically sealed communities with no inter marriages permissible are gone. I
personally prefer all young Zarathushtis to marry within the fold and increase
our community. But if that is not possible we should not and must not ostracize
our children, especially females who choose to marry
In Sydney we have tried hard to bring young
Zarathushtis together by bringing them to Sunday Schools, community functions,
social, events and sports and some of the youngsters have now married within the
fold. When the parents become dogmatic and forbid any action, our modern
children rebel and do exactly the opposite. We have to learn to use their
terminology, idiom, conventions to get our message across. At times I feel we
are speaking to them in a different language, which our children do not
understand and relate to. Is it any wonder we lost that generation of
Another issue which all Zarathushtis, whether
liberal or traditional insists that the religion of Asho Zarathushtra is an universal
one. Yet, we have done nothing to promote the religion. Other religions have web
sites which gives information about their religion in a simple attractive
fashion. Although we have a myriad of Zarathushti web sites there is no
consistency. The three Z-nets have more disagreements, often personal than
sharing of knowledge. Again an attempt to present the findings of our religion
in a non-controversial manner on a well designed and advertised web-site is a
matter of priority.
A small community like ours still can not agree to
form a unified World Body to represent them. Possibly because of egos and
historical differences a formal world body is not on the cards in the
immediate future. Yet we could all work together on an informal basis sharing
our findings and problems in this modern world of ours. It is a goal which is
In summary, we are not short of knowledge and
resources. But do we have the will to take immediate and decisive action?
That my fellow Zarathushtis is the Challenge of The Third
(The author is a lecturer
in Marketing & Management by profession and has developed his interest in
the Zarthushti religion since 1977. He is a widely read scholar and has prepared
a computerized Avesta-English dictionary. He submitted his 1st Ph.D.
Thesis on Hoama Yasht in 1992. In 1996 he received his 2nd Doctorate
(D.Sc) in compilation of all Avestan scriptures with various translations,
commentary and esoteric explanations. He presented a paper at the World
Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1993. He has been an active member
of the Australian Zoroastrian Association of NSW since its inception. He has
served the association as its president for six terms and a committee member for
the other six terms. He has been actively involved as a Sunday School Teacher of
AZA and has conducted Adult Discussion Group Classes for over 15 years. He
is married and has two adult daughters. He is also on the Board of WZO London
for the past several years.)
The Zarathushtrian Benediction
airyema ishya prayer is the
concluding benediction of the World Zarathushtrian Fellowship. The aim and
object, and the main goal of the good religion of Asho Zarathushtra Spitama is to
establish a World Fellowship of good men and good women to provide peace and
prosperity to all human beings.
Zarathshtrian religion is a fellowship in which
the devotees of Ahura Mazda are taught to look within their conscience and to
know what is right and straight and then live in accord with the will of the
Wise Lord by obeying His immortal principles as revealed to Asho Zarathushtra Spitama and
embodied in the Gathas.
Therefore “a airyema ishya” prayer is the
fulfillment of Asho Zarathushtra Spitama’s
mission at perfecting the world towards righteousness in mind and matter and in
spirit and in body. And it is the progress towards union with Ahura Mazda to be
in one thought with the sublime Wise Lord.
Asho Zarathushtra Spitama worked
for this fellowship for a long period of 47 years and succeeded in his mission,
and “a airyema ishya” is not only a prayer of blessings for all Zarathushtrians,
but a prayer for world unity through good religion.
This beautiful benediction concludes Asho Zarathushtra’s inspiring
Songs—the Glorious Gathas. May we continue to follow the divine
Zarathushtrian principles by studying and practicing the thought provoking
Gathas of Asho Zarathushtra Spitama , and
endeavor to be worthy members of the Zarathushtrian fellowship, by pondering on
the translation of the original text:
“May the much desired grace of loving fellowship,
Be established here amongst men and women.
The faithful adherents of Asho Zarathushtra Spitama.
For the grace of upholding good thinking and good mind,
So that the desired reward of Daena Vanguhi,
The rational religion of good conscience
May be established here among righteous men and women.
To earn the blessings of righteous society,
That desire held in high esteem,
By supreme, sublime and loving Ahura
(Recourse has been made to
“The Gathas Our Guide” by Ali A.Jafarey)
By The Marchioness of Winchester
he story of Princess Nahid,
or Olympias, of real history though brief, should prove of vital interest, since
she became the mother of no less a historic personage than
Darab, or Darius II, as he is generally known
(425-405 B.C.), was, according to Firdausi’s account, a mighty monarch. He
invaded, we are told, the territory of Rum in the west, and defeated the Roman
army, which was led by the Kisra, whose name was Failakus, the Persian form of
Philip. He was undoubtedly Philip of Macedon.
Failakus, weary of endless warfare with Iran, sent
an envoy to Darab to discuss the question of his paying tribute. The Shah
thereupon summoned his chiefs, and held consultation with them. Among other
things, they told him of Princess Nahid, the Kisra’s only daughter, and
described her wondrous beauty. Darab’s mind was, therefore, made up. Replying to
the envoy, he stipulated that Failakus should send his daughter Nahid, together
with the tribute, if he wished to save his honor and be left in peace. When the
King of Rum received this message, he was exceedingly gratified at the idea of
claiming the Shah of Iran as his own son-in-law, and hastened to make grand
preparation for the event. Princess Nahid marched forth with a retinue of sixty
damsels, each with a golden goblet in her hand filled with royal gems, and each
wearing a golden crown and ear-rings. Thus King Failakus bestowed his daughter
upon King Darab, and the beautiful Nahid became Queen of
Her happiness, however, proved short-lived. The
Shah’s love for her began to cool, and he gradually conceived a dislike for her
till, finally, he sent her back to her father. Shortly afterwards, a son was
born to her, named Sikandar or Alexander, and brought up by Failakus as his own
son and heir. At the death of Failakus, Alexander succeeded to the throne of
So legend meets history; the proud Persians would
not own that they had been vanquished by a foreigner, and they made the
son of Philip of Macedon into the son of one of their own Kings. Darab had a son
by name Dara. He is Darius III, or Darius Codomannus (337-330 B.C.).
Firdausi narrates at length how Dara demanded the tribute from Alexander as
promised by Philip, and how the people of Rum seized it as a pretext to invade
Iran. Here the purely Iranian legend ends; the rest belongs to the legend of
Alexander, which was composed at Alexandria in Egypt into the romance known as
that of Pseudo-Callishthenes.
INTERVIEW WITH GOD
I dreamed I had an interview with God.
“So you would like to interview me?” God asked.
“If you have the time” I said.
“My time is eternity. What questions do you have in mind for me?”
surprises you most about humankind?”
God answered: “That they get bored with the
childhood. They rush to grow up and then long to be children again. That they
lose their health to make money and then lose their money to restore health.
That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that
they live neither in the present nor the future. That they live as if they will
never die, and die as if they had never lived.”
God’s hand took mine and we were silent for a
while. And then I asked: “As a parent what are some of life’s lessons you want
your children to learn?”
God replied with a smile: “To learn they cannot make any one love them. What they can do is to let themselves be loved. To learn that it is not good to compare themselves to others. To learn that a rich person is not one who has the most, but is one who needs the least. To learn that it only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds in persons we love, and it takes many years to heal them. To learn to forgive by practicing forgiveness. To learn that there are persons who love them dearly, but simply do not know how to express or show them their feelings. To learn that two people can look at the same thing and see it differently. To learn that it is not always enough that they be forgiven by others. But that they must forgive themselves. And to learn that :
I AM HERE
ALWAYS (Author unknown)
“There are thousands to prophesy failures;
There are thousands to point out the risks.
But just buckle in with a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing,
That cannot be done and you’ll do it.
(Edgar A. Guest)
Something better is coming,
the sun will shine.
Enormous and stunning,
yours and mine.
Minds will be clear,
hearts will be bright.
Wise and sincere,
like sparks of Light.
For those wonderful days,
we all must strive.
Strengthening Asha ways,
which are yours and mine.
Just transform your mind,
transfigure your soul.
And we’ll see the Light –
our final goal.
Ushta for ever,
love and perfection.
Good thoughts everywhere,
in every action.
And the “frasho” days
will come indeed.
Just live like sunrays,
and believe in
(Dina Vitchinkina has done
her Masters in Humanities from the Russian State University, Moscow. She
contributes to the Russian Zoroastrian Web site: www.avesta.org.ru by translating and writing on Zoroastrian
“Speak kind words and you
will hear kind echoes”.