August – September
2002 : Mah Shehrevar, Fasal Sal 1371
mannaroish naro visente:
muthrem ahya madahya:
When, oh Mazda,
shall men of capable Intelligence come?
When shall they dispel
this Miasma of Infatuation?
Which with vehemence
the Karpano* do perpetuate:
And which the Intellect
of the evil Rulers of the Land also does.
(Spentamainyu 2-10 : Yasna 48-10)
*Priests who offer libations
at a religious ceremony.
WHAT RELIGION SHOULD NOT MEAN
Dastur Khurshed S. Dabu……………………………………………………………2
JUST SIT QUIETLY………………………………………………………………… 2
PHILANTHROPIST PAYS MILLIONS TO FIND GOD IN THE UNIVERSE
Flay Flam……………………………………………………………………………… .3
MY LORD GOD
ADAPTABLE PARSIS !
Dorab J. Patel………………………………………………………………………… 5
THE MOUNTAIN VOICE – THE BEHISTUN
Maaneck B. Pithawalla……………………………………………………………… 6
HEROINES OF ANCIENT IRAN: Story of Rushanak
The Marchioness of Winchester…………………………………………………… .7
IN GOD WE TRUST
ZARATHUSHTRA IN THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
rue religion cannot be
divorced from life. It is not a robe or garb to be put on and then
discarded at one’s convenience. It has to be woven into our daily
behavior, and is not to be separated or shelved. It cannot exist in a
water-tight compartment apart from all daily walks of life-even commerce,
politics and industries. “True behavior is the essence of
Religion is not religiosity, whereby some people
ostentatiously display their piety and superior sanctity. The outer garb may
deceive others. Truly religious people are humble, unassuming and shun popular
Religion is not a drug acting as an opiate to
bring self-satisfaction or to quell the pangs of remorse. It should rather
stimulate one’s efforts to awaken the inner voice and judge things
dispassionately. The self-complacency induced by some religious practices
Religion is not concerned with social conventions
that may change from time to time as we please, provided we do not transgress
into the realms of immortality.
(Abridged from the author’s
book – Message of Zarathushtra – A Manual of
Zoroastrianism – The Religion of the Parsis.)
ometimes I sits and thinks
and sometimes I just sits,” says a wise saying. The inner mind is surely
marvelous. While we quietly sit back, it is ticking away. Consider for a moment
some of the achievements which have resulted from people being quiet and
Seeking peace for his troubled soul, Galileo sat
quietly all those centuries ago, and the gentle rhythmic movement of a swinging
lamp nearby gave him the idea of a pendulum swinging to and fro as a means of
measuring the passage of time. Isaac Newton was quietly resting when he
saw an apple fall and thus began his law of gravity. James Watt was
relaxing in his kitchen when he saw steam lifting the top of the kettle and thus
the idea of power to drive a steam engine was born.
So don’t feel guilty next time you want to “just
sit quietly”. Many problems are solved, new ideas come to mind, and
vitality is often revived by doing exactly that!
(Source – “The Friendship
Book of Francis Gay – 2002)
“Faith is not believing that God can. It is knowing that He will”
an science divine the hand
of God in the universe? Investment tycoon Sir John Templeton wants to know, and
he is paying $ 1 million to fifteen scientists to look for a purpose in the
cosmos. The scientists, many with international reputation, have spent
their careers studying the Big Bang, the origin of the stars and galaxies, the
fundamental physical constants, and the origin of life.
Now they have set out to explore the question that
intrigues Templeton, as it has philosophers and astronomers for centuries:
Is the universe the product of design or accident?
Templeton, 88, faxed his request for the meaning
of it all from his home in the Bahamas to Randor, Pa., home of his Templeton
Foundation. Templeton, a devout Christian, sold his mutual fund empire in
1992 for $ 913 million and now devotes himself to philanthropy and his quest for
common ground between science and religion.
The foundation executive director, Charles Harper,
who is trained in physics and theology, crafted the grant program based on the
question, “Is there a fundamental purpose in the cosmos? What does
“purpose” mean? Harper said his faith – Christianity – holds that God
created the universe for a purpose, which is connected to the notion of
In the two years that the program has been
running, science has not found any evidence for such a purpose. Some of
the scientists involved confided that they don’t think science can ever answer
the question. Still, those who received as a piece of the money say it is
freeing them up to explore ideas that wouldn’t be supported by government
funding because they touch on philosophy and religion. And while a million
dollars is small money for science, it can support a number of theorists
developing unconventional ideas.
“The Templeton Foundation” felt that with a little
money they could have a huge impact on what kinds of research are done,” said
Max Tegmark, a physicist at the University of Pennsylvania who co-chaired the
grant program and helped choose the recipients.
One of the major issues that the scientists are
exploring is called “fine-tuning”. Fine-tuning has to do with certain
numbers that are “wired into nature,” Tegmark said, such as 1831-1, which
is the ratio of basic properties that govern the power of electrical and
magnetic forces. If the latter were changed by 1 percent, “the sun would
immediately explode,” Tegmark said.
Changing these fundamental constants would render
the universe uninhabitable --- either because matter would fall apart or stars
wouldn’t shine, or the universe would collapse. “It’s as if the universe
has a bunch of knobs,” and you can’t twiddle them without disaster striking,”
Fine-tuning is often involved as evidence that an
intelligent God designed the universe. But fine-tuning in the world of
plants and animals was also once used as evidence of God’s handiwork until
Darwin came along with a scientific explanation of
Scientists also have several non-religious
explanations for the cosmic fine-tuning. One idea more and more widely
discussed is that there are many universes born in many big bangs, the vast
majority of them uninhabitable. “ Just as we shouldn’t be surprised to find we
live on the one habitable planet in the solar system,” said Tegmark, “we
shouldn’t find it surprising that our universe is one of the few livable
At a Templeton-sponsored conference in Princeton
called “Science and Ultimate Reality”, Tegmark spoke about three different
theories, some more speculative than the others, that lead to what he called
universes. “Even if there is one universe, observations made in the last
decade seem to show that it’s infinite in all directions.” said
Harper said that while he doesn’t expect these
scientists to prove God does or does not exist, or figure out why God created
the world, he believes their work on the fine-tuning problem and the possibility
of the other universes will enrich the discussion.
The Templeton Foundation is not without its critics in science. Noble-winning physicist Steven Weinberg of the University of Texas has denounced attempts to make science and religion compatible. “One of the greatest achievements of science has been, if not to make it impossible for intelligent people to be religious, then at least to make it possible for them not to be religious,” Weinberg told the audience at a foundation-sponsored meeting.
MY LORD GOD
y Lord God, I have no idea
where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for
certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that
I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing
so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please
you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from
your desire. And I know that If I do this, you will lead me by the right
road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always,
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you
will never leave me to face my perils alone.
“Be sure to learn from
yesterday, live for today and hope for tomorrow”
e Parsis do not have a
homeland of our own, but we are very adaptable. Thus, it is natural that
beliefs and practices of alien cultures, with whom we are living, will have
influence on our own culture. Dastur Dr. Dhalla wrote a booklet in
Gujarati, titled “THE CHANGES IN OUR RELIGIOUS LIVES, IN THE LAST 100 YEARS, DUE
TO TIME AND CIRCUMSTANCES.” This booklet is pertinent to my subject. So, I
have attempted to translate some of the passages, and I give them below:
“English education started in our community in the
19th century. This new education spread it’s light all over the
place, because of our long stay in this country. Hindu and later on Muslim
superstitious ideas and customs entered our community.
“In 1819, the Bombay Parsi Panchyat resolved that
hence-forth: (1) No Parsi woman will go to Hindu temples to make vows or worship
goddesses on the 6th day after delivery. (2) Not to get amulets
or charms made by Brahmans and tie them on children. (3) Not to go to Jain
ascetics, or astrologers’ houses. (4) Not to believe in the evil eye,
sorcery and witch craft. Nasasalars will be deployed to patrol during the
night to apprehend such superstitious women, and such women will be confined
into nasakhana for the night.
“Hence forth nobody will make holias, and
have Fatiha recited, or revere tazias. Those found
practicing such superstitious customs of other communities will be
punished. Such was declared by the Panchayat.
“It was a common practice to make offerings of
small effigies of goats and poultry made of gold and silver in Agyarees
and Atash Behrams. In case of a death, professional lamenters
were called and crying and weeping was carried on for ten days to a
“Such ideas which had entered our community from
others slowly faded out. The superstition like Najar Lagvoo or casting of
the evil eye were seen till the last century. Soot was applied to small
children’s eyes and spots of soot were applied outside the eyes and on the
cheeks. All this was done to ward off the evil eye so the child may not
succumb to any kind of sickness or ill health. Such superstitious
practices are still visible in some form or the other. One amongst them
which draws attention is the practice of Ovarvoo to perform gestures to
ward off sickness, pain and trouble. This practice of Ovarvoo with
eggs and coconuts, over the head on all small and big occasions is carried on in
the houses even now. This practice, embarrassing to the community is
performed on every Navjote and wedding, where non-Parsi ladies and
gentlemen are present…..Such an exhibition of this ridiculous practice, every
day, in our educated community is certainly very grievous.
“As love and affection bring humans closer in
relationships. In the same way devotion makes a man thirsty of Dadar Ahura
Mazda’s love and brings him together. By offering flowers, fruits, grains
etc., in ceremonies and remembering God with concentration man lights
Parvardegar’s flame of love in his heart. Offerings in ceremonies
remind man to sacrifice his body, mind and heart to his spiritual
“As time went by a different thought entered into
mankind. He believed that ceremonies have such powers that by performing
them desires can be fulfilled, and wishes can be granted. This way
ceremonies became means. They became providers of every thing on earth and
became the means of achieving eternal bliss in the next
“Prophet Zarathushtra, in his Gathas, teaches us: “As you sow so shall you reap”. Such basic, root teaching is being forgotten. Man does not care whether ceremonies have any effect on his mind and heart, whether it enhances his devotion or not or whether it builds and forms his character or not. Man forgets that only his deeds are his only means of deliverance after death. Ceremonies have now taken place for deeds. Such an irreligious idea has taken birth that ceremonies can get man rewards, received otherwise, by good deeds; reduce his sins no matter how bad a life he has led on earth. The ceremonies that are being performed for him will remove his soul from hell and take it step by step to heaven….unfortunately because of their obstinate ignorance, people cannot think about a matter of simple common sense, that if the rich can get deliverance from hell and buy heaven by having ceremonies done, and the poor because of their helplessness can not, then where is the justice of God”.
Thus wrote Dastur
In this short resume, I have ventured to show how
much change has been brought about in the original philosophy of Zarathushtra. From
time to time old and new customs, observances and rituals have entwined with the
teaching of Zarathushtra. The
introduction of such changes result in different interpretations of the
scriptures. And these groups believe that their interpretations are the
only correct ones.
The question remains, “What is
Zoroastrianism?” Think over it and try to find out for yourselves.
While you are at it, I suggest you keep this in mind that Zarathushtra’s message was
universal – for all mankind ---so whatever you find that divides mankind is
surely not Zoroastrian. (Abridged from “What is Zoroastrianism?”
contributed by the author for ‘Meher Jamshed Patel Memorial Volume’ published by
I.R.M. in 1990)
THE MOUNTAIN VOICE
Nestled midst tropic trees in burning plains
Of Ind, how oft my weary soul has run
On Northern hills or snowy Persian chains
Harboring the Titan height of Behistun.
Where Dara’s record-rock, a towering church,
Still lifts its hoary head o’er darvish towns;
How like a summer bird I’ve longed to perch
Upon its cloud-of old has cast but two Zoroastrian rays:
Full faith in Mazd and love for truthful ways.
HEROINES OF ANCIENT IRAN
The Marchioness of Winchester
hen Dara, or Darius III, King of Iran, lay dying after his third defeat by the Rumans, the news was brought to Sikander by two of the Shah’s own ministers, who had stabbed him in the breast, thinking to gain favor with the Kisra. Sikander, overcome with rage and grief, ordered the treacherous pair to lead him to the spot where the King was lying, which they accordingly did. At the sight of Dara’s death-like countenance and the blood upon his breast, Sikander wept with anguish and despair. Then, having set a guard over the two assassinators, he dismounted, and, taking the wounded monarch’s head on his lap, chafed it tenderly, removing the heavy crown and unclasping the mail from his breast. He endeavored to speak words of comfort and hope, but Dara knew his end was approaching, and prepared to meet it calmly, commending his soul to God. He besought Sikander to weep for him no more, but attend to his last request and fulfill the dearest wish of his heart. Sikander thereupon replied that he had but to command him. Dara then asked him to take his daughter in marriage.
“Thou mayst,” he said, “see born to her a youthful prince,
Who will revive the name of Asfandiyar,
Relume the altar of Zardusht, take up
The Zandavesta, heed the presages,
The Feast of Sada and the Fanes of Fire,
With glorious Nauruz, Urmuzd and Mihr,
And lave his soul and face in wisdom’s stream,
Restore the customs of Luhrasp and follow
The doctrines of Gushtasp, maintain both high
And low in their degree, illume the Faith
And see good days.
faithfully to carry out the Shah’s wish. Dara extended his hand to grasp
that of the other, then fell back dead.
The throne therefore passed to Sikander.
Mindful of his pledge to Dara, he lost no time in bringing about its
fulfillment. He summoned a scribe, and instructed him to indite a
preliminary letter to Dilarai, the mother of Rushanak, also one to the Princess
herself. Dilarai, on receiving her letter, mourned bitterly the death of
her husband, and returned a grateful reply to Sikander; Rushanak also wrote,
accepting his offer. Sikander then requested his mother Nahid, to go to
Dilarai’s palace and see the Princess Rushanak, taking with her loads of gold
brocade and tapestry, numberless gems, three hundred Ruman damsels and many more
gifts. Nahid departed to do her son’s biding, and Dilarai came forward in
royal array to meet her, amidst much pomp and rejoicing. Gorgeous wedding
gear had been prepared for Rushanak, and, when she rode forth to meet the Shah,
none had ever looked on such splendor.
They raised triumphal arches in the cities:
All lips were smiling, all hearts
And Sikander, beholding the
Princess, her beauty, her sweet and modest mien, fell in love with her at sight,
and forthwith made her his queen.
The arrangement made between King Dara and
Alexander that the latter should marry Roxana, or Rushanak, appears in the
Pseudo-Callisthenes, in all it versions, but is not historical. We have
seen that, according to Firdausi, she was the daughter of Dara, or Darius III,
but according to the earlier accounts, she was the daughter of Oxyartes, a
Bactrian chief, whose stronghold Alexander escaladed. We are told, in
these writings, that Alexander was enamored of her at sight, and married her in
the year 328 B.C.
“IN GOD WE TRUST”
few days ago, as I was
driving, I heard the radio announcer talk about a poll in which 52% of Americans
thought they would see the end of the world, or more accurately Armageddon,
within their life times. As I was pondering this, I realized that the
bigger news was not so much the fact that those who were polled thought this
way. The more important news was the fact that somebody thought of
asking this question in the first place, and then the responsible people in the
media thought it would be appropriate to conduct the survey and announce it over
If I were a conspiracy theorist, I could have
blamed it on the self-serving media who were bought by the defense industrial
complex, trying to instill fear in people. But more sincerely, I think the
media bosses believe that this sort of fear mongering actually sells, and is
profitable. Thus, fired by greed, they are willing to sell fear.
Also in the wake of the recent exposure of financial corruption in some of the
American conglomerates, we are witnessing how numerous people are losing their
jobs and/or life’s savings. Again, this is only fueled by the greed of the
few who have manipulated the loopholes of the Free Enterprise legal system.
It is not surprising that the short-sellers are
making more money on the stock markets than the investors. Whenever we see
unchecked growth that dishonors other souls, we can be certain that the
parasitic forces of destruction and decay are deployed to restore balance and
honor to the system. Since I believe that the outer reflects the inner,
and vice-versa, I have been given the wake up call to look at my habits
carefully – yet once again.
These events, in an exaggerated way, embody the
worship of the God of Greed and sacrifice of others at the alter of the God of
Fear. So the question is where am I succumbing to greed, and where do I
sacrifice others out of my own fear. Could it be that when I receive more
change at the grocery store than I should, I think about pocketing it? Is
it that I am willing to play politics at work and stab my colleagues in the back
because of the fear of losing my job? Am I expediently finding shortcuts
in delivering my promises?
It is interesting to note that in a country that
epitomizes Free Enterprise, the words “In God We Trust”: are inscribed on every
bank note and every denomination of the dollar. Yet we find ample examples
– among others as well as ourselves – where we are tempted to sacrifice other
souls at the alter of Fear and in the worship of the God of Greed. The
Iron Curtain collapsed from within because of dishonoring the individual souls
that comprised those nations. Perhaps the unraveling of the Free
Enterprise system is also imminent, unless we are willing to put aside our greed
and overcome our fears, and truly live by the words “In God We Trust”
In the Past, Present and Future
Zarathushtra’s philosophy is
ideal for modern civilization, with its social unrest, economic crises and
religions upheaval. Zarathushtra has been the
hope for our society in the past, as he is now, and will be in the
arathushtra’s birth date
reaffirmed. Around 150 years ago, the discovery of over 4,000 tablets
and writings in the western part of China known as Turfan, helped to reaffirm
the accurate birth date of Zarathushtra. The discovery
of the Turfan findings clarified many facts which were previously unknown.
Zarathushtra was born
2715 years after “the great storm”. The great storm occurred 6482 years
ago. Thus, using these dates, Zarathushtra was born 3767
years ago. (6482-2715 = 3767) or in 1767 BCE. Moses was born in 1500
BCE (267 years after Zarathushtra) and Plato’s
birth date is 1400 years after Zarathushtra.
Approximately 200 years ago, in response to
inquiries from the Parsis in India, 72 Iranian mobeds and mobed-e-mobedans of
Yazd, along with Zarathushti scholars validated this birth date of Zarathushtra as they have
done for over three millennia.
At the age of 30, Zarathushtra proclaimed his
enlightenment. At the age of 42, he founded the first and the oldest
observatory, in the city of Nimrooz (presently in the province of Seistan, in
changed the old system of the lunar calendar to a new, totally accurate solar
calendar. Sadly, his calendar and dates have been tampered with many
times, once during the 3rd or 4th centuries CE, and then
many subsequent times. Al Biruni, an astronomer, historian and
philosopher, mentioned Zarathushtra’s calendar and
its accuracy repeatedly in his book Asaar-Al
Zarathushtra’s holy book
is called Manthra or “thought-provoking “ by Zarathushtra and
Gathas by his immediate followers. Zarathushtra called himself
Manthran or “composer of the Manthra or Gathas,” and his religion
daena vanghu (i.e. the best ethical religion). Manthra and Gathas
are two Gathic words which are used in English and possess the same
message. Since Zarathushtra first gave the
message of Mazda to the people of Iran, exactly 3739 years have elapsed.
Millions of human souls have lived a happy life and died a peaceful death under
the shadow of the protective wings of Zarathushtra’s pristine,
simple and ethical faith. His immortal triad of good thoughts, good words
and good deeds has kindled the religious zeal, intensified the desire and
enlightened the thoughts and minds of his followers.
Bright and dark days. Throughout
history, the religion of Zarathushtra has seen its
bright and dark days. During these ages, great and mighty kings have ruled
over Iran. However, Zarathushtra’s spiritual
teachings were stronger than the king’s power over people. Thus, Zarathushtra ruled over
people’s hearts and minds while the kings affected physical rule over the
people. Zarathushtra’s ever
optimistic teachings and the ever cheerful spirit of his sublime doctrines have
saved his followers from falling into the depths of despair and gloom after the
Arab invasion of Iran 1400 years ago.
Although the number of practicing Zarathushtis has diminished from 30 million during the Sassanian period to just over two hundred thousand at the present, they have proven themselves to be the true bearers of the great name and fame of their illustrious forefathers. The history of noble deeds of the forefathers still thrills their dutiful descendants who have faithfully reflected their past national glory in their small community. Unfortunately during this long period of time, the deceivers have bribed, lied, proselytized, distorted the facts and preyed on people with little religious knowledge, as Zarathushtra had predicted:
“Listen to these clear truths which I teach.
Remember well and bear in mind lest the
evil teacher destroys the people’s life once
again and the followers of untruth lead
them astray with wrong teachings. (Ys.
Defending the religion. The only way
to defend our religion against the followers of untruth is to increase our
religious knowledge by studying the Manthra of Zarathushtra and utilize it
at the time of need. Modern civilization is fraught with discontent and
restlessness and renders people exceedingly sensitive to suffering. Zarathushtra’s philosophy is
ideal for those times.
will continue to be applicable during future social unrest, economic crises and
religious upheavals. Zarathushtra has been the
hope of our society in the past, as he is now, and as he will be in the
(This is the English
translation of the original article in Farsi. Courtesy Fezana Journal: Summer
“I think we would be able to live in this world
more peaceably if our spirituality
were to come from looking not just
into infinity but very closely at the
world around us---and appreciating
in depth and divinity.”
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