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Volume IV No.5


July-August 2003, Mah Amardad, Fasal Sal 1372    

      KatToi razare? Kat vashi?       What is Thy guiding rule? What Thy desire? 

                 Kat va stuto? Kat va yasnahyaRegarding how we praise and worship Thee? 

            Srudyai, Mazda, fra-vaocha;  Thy guidance clear, O Mazda, give to us;

      Ya vidayat ashis rashnam       So that Thy promised blessings come to us

            Sisha –nao Asha patho,  For keeping Thy Commands, lead us in Paths

            Vanheus –khvaeteng Mananho. Of truth, so that we realize through Love.  

[Ahunavaiti 7.12: Ys. 34.12 – Translation by Irach  J.S. Taraporewala] 

Gems from  Jamshed 

“Let us be loving and peaceful. The world’s peace depends upon home peace, and home peace in its turn depends upon individual patience, tolerance and love. Thus we come back to the same old truth of the necessity of purity of love.. The purity of love will keep perfect balance and peace. The idea of possessing any one or anything which does not belong to us, makes us lose the balance, and in the loss of balance comes destruction.”  [Jamshed Nusserwanjee] 


      02 ZOROASTRIAN  MORALS:  Dr. Irach J.S.Taraporewala 



Dr. Irach J.S. Taraporewala 


rom the very first appearance of man upon earth there has been “religion” in some shape or other.  Man is distinguished from other animals by his possession of the faculty of thought.  So from the very first, man began to think of the relations between him and everything else that surrounded him. It must have been obvious to him that he was extremely helpless and small amidst the stupendous forces of Nature that surrounded him.  So in course of time his human reason led him to postulate some powers outside himself, which were greater and which he could hardly control.  He also perceived clearly the regularity with which these forces of Nature operated, as in the ordered succession of day and night and the seasons.  And thus he soon deduced that everything happened in obedience to some definite “law”.  When this idea of “law” arose the next inevitable step was the notion of a “Law-giver”, a “Ruler” and a “Creator”.  The idea of a Creator and the consideration of the relations, which should subsist between man and his Creator led ultimately to what we term “religion”.  The Creator was, of course, invisible to man’s physical eyes, but He could be grasped somehow by the mind, and obviously He was endowed with qualities and faculties, which were the highest and the noblest, which man could conceive.  

      Besides Nature man was surrounded also by his fellow men.  His relations with them were determined by what we may call the “Moral Code”.  Even among the most primitive people there must have been degrees of goodness and virtue.  There must have been individuals who possessed courage, or affection or the spirit of helpfulness, or that of self-sacrifice in greater measure than the majority of their fellows.  Such would be accepted as Rulers and Teachers.  These would soon perceive that there were also “laws” governing the relations of human beings among themselves.  And they proceeded to formulate these laws and laid down the moral code for the guidance of man’s conduct to his fellowmen.  

      Very early also it was clearly perceived that religion and morality could not exist separately.  “As above, so below”---and so morality should follow the loftiest precepts of religion and should draw its inspiration from religion.  The laws of morality are ultimately a special application of the Laws of God and of Nature. 

      Each nation developed its special set of moral laws.  Still, because the fundamental laws of Nature (or God) are unchanging, the fundamental laws of morality are very similar in all lands and among all nations.  

      The Message of Zarathushtra was given to the people of Iran several thousand years ago.1 This Message has brought solace to millions of human hearts during many centuries, and even today thousands of human beings find comfort in his words.2 Not only that but the Message of Zarathushtra was a message for the whole humanity, because he was a World-Teacher and Zarathuhtra’s religion has been one of the great world-religions.  It has a universal appeal and it contains Truths, which can be accepted by all mankind.   

   Zarathushtra was among the earliest of the great teachers of humanity and he has left his mark very deep upon the religion he taught.  Three special features distinguished his teaching.  (i) His teaching is never opposed to human reason, and therefore it can be accepted universally.  (ii) His teaching about sin and evil appeals primarily to our reason.  And (iii) His teaching about the nature of God, our Creator and Ruler, and about the methods of realizing the Supreme during our life in the world are also such as could be easily understood by ordinary human beings.  The whole is an entirely practical way of life and from the very first we have in Zarathushtra’s teachings a very efficient Moral Code.  In fact we would be fully justified in calling Zoroastrianism “the Religion of the Good Life” 

   This sounds refreshingly modern, leaving each human being free to choose his path for himself.  This in itself constitutes the universal appeal of Zarathushtra’s Teaching.  

   The “Highest Truths” he teaches are the great Laws of Nature---not understood physically as in modern science, but spiritually as all Prophets have done.  They tried to understand Nature and Nature’s forces, and through Nature they reached up to Nature’s God. 

   A short time after the passing of Zarathushtra a detailed declaration of his creed was complied. It is known as Section 12 (Ha) of the Book of Yasna.  There we find this universal Faith described in some detail. 

   “The Faith which is of the waters and of the trees and of the bountiful Mother-Earth, the Faith which is the Lord of Life Himself (who created the Earth and the Holy Ones), the Faith which is of Zarathushtra, and of everyone of the Saviors who act truly and righteously, of that Faith and a follower of that Law am I, a worshipper of the Creator of All.  I am a Mazda-worshipper, a follower of Zarathushtra, a devoted and ardent believer in that Faith.  I solemnly dedicate myself to the true-conceived thought, I solemnly dedicate myself to the true-spoken word, I solemnly dedicate myself to the true-performed action.  I dedicate myself solemnly to the excellent Faith of Mazda-worship, which is quarrel removing, weapon lowering, which teaches self-reliance and holiness.  This faith is, among all that are and among all that shall be, the greatest, the holiest and the best---this Faith of Ahura and revealed by Zarathushtra.  I attribute all Good unto Ahura Mazda.”4 

   The universality and the fundamental morality of the Creed of Zarathushtra are set forth here in very clear words.  The three Commandments of the Zoroastrian Faith are also given here---true conceived Thought (Hu-mata), true-spoken Word (Hu-ukhta), and true-performed Action (Hu-varshta).  These three Commandments embody everything that can be included in any moral code. 

   2. Zarathushtra’s conception of sin and evil is the special feature of his message.  And it is a point, which has been misunderstood by most students of Zoroastrianism.  It is his so-called teaching of Dualism, of the Twin Mainyu.5 

   These two Mainyu are two mental states or attitudes of the human mind according as the person is attracted by things of the Earth or things of the Spirit.  The words of the Prophet Himself are quite clear on this point. 

                        Now unto eager listeners will I speak

                        Of the Two Mainyu Mazda did create; 

                        That ye, grown perfect, may attain His Light.  (1) 

      This teaching of the Holy Immortals may be taken as the basis of the Teaching of Zarathushtra.  Upon this Teaching as foundation has been raised the whole structure of Zoroastrian Ethics and Zoroastrian Moral Code.          

   Two other Divine Powers are also mentioned by Zarathushtra in his Gathas.  These are Atar (Fire) and SraoshaAtar is mentioned by Zarathushtra as belonging to Ahura-Mazda and as worthy of reverence.  But it is not the physical element, Fire, which is meant.  The Atar of Zarathushtra is clearly the Inner Divine Spark dwelling within and enlivening each human being.  Atar is just one Spark from the Universal Flame25.  This original idea of the Fire has never been forgotten even in later theological writings.  Because Fire-Temples were erected everywhere by Zoroastrians and because the Sacred Fire was held in great reverence by them they have been called “Fire-Worshippers” by non-Zoroastrians.  What is actually worshipped in these temples is not the physical Fire, but the Inner Divine Spark.  Nowhere in any of the sacred Texts is the idea of Divine Spark entirely absent.  Fire is always invoked as the “Son of Ahura-Mazda.”  In the beautiful hymn to Atar we find this verse. 

                        Of all passing by

                        The hands doth fire observe;

                        Thus doth He asks:

                        ‘What doth the friend that fareth forth

                        Bring to the Friend that sits within?’      

      The “friend that fareth forth” is the man who goes out and engages in the every-day activities of life and “the Friend that sits within” is the Inner Spark, the Son of Ahura Mazda.  The  idea underlying this is that all outer activities of man should be dedicated to the Inner Spiritual Fire within.  The last verse of this hymn to Atar says: 

                        Thine Inner Fire, Ahura, to see

                        We yearn,---He blazes mightily through Truth,

                        He has Thy strength; our Goal and Hope is He.

                        He lights the Faithful clearly through life;

                        But, Mazda, in the hearts of Infidels

                        He sees the hidden Evil at a glance.’26       

      Sraosha is the most important Divine Power after the Supreme Heptad.  In the list of the thirty-three Divine Powers ( Yazatas or “Adorable Ones”) the name of Sraosha stands exactly in the middle.  The name is derived from the root sru to hear, to listen. The name therefore means listening, and implies the faculty in man of listening to the “still, small voice within”, the voice of Armaiti.  Usually the noise and turmoil of our worldly life renders us deaf to this inner voice.  It is Sraosha who gives us the power to use this inner faculty.  In the Gathas he is termed the greatest servant of Ahura-Mazda.  He is regarded as a Messenger of God because He inspires all true seekers after God.  Sraosha is the guiding star of all meek, holy people.  And the special function of Sraosha is protecting the souls of the departed.  Hence all funeral ceremonies up to the morning of the fourth day after passing are performed in the name of Sraosha. 

      These are the Divine Powers mentioned in the Songs of Zarathushtra.  After his passing many of the older Aryan Divinities were re-instated in popular worship. Of these  Mithra is the most important.  A remarkable fact about Mithra is that from the very beginning he was worshipped more as a great Spiritual Idea than as a physical power,  Mithra represents the Sun.  But the physical Sun that lights the earth and gives to all creatures life and energy is Khurshed who is in one place described as the “most radiant and glorious body of Ahura-Mazda.”27  Mithra, however, is the spiritual counterpart of  this great Light of God.  Mithra represents Truth, Righteousness and Justice.  He is far-seeing and notes every act   of man, and hears every word that is uttered.  He is the embodiment of Truth and as such is the opponent   of Druj (Untruth).  More specifically Mithra demands fidelity to the plighted word and he guards the sanctity of oaths.  In Avesta the word mithra also means “contract” or “pledged word” and being false to one’s pledge (mithro-druj) is looked upon as one of the mortal sins.  Being the Lord of Justice, Mithra judges the souls of the departed with Sraosha and  Rashnu. 

       Rashnu means Justice.  His Justice is strict and mathematically precise.  All the good and evil thoughts, words and deeds are weighed in the balance and the destination of the departed soul is determined from this.  A very slight excess on either side determines the final award.  In some rare cases, when the balance is exact between good and evil, the soul is left hovering between heaven and hell.  This last idea however, was developed in later days. 

      The justice meted out is governed by the universal Law of Action and Reaction, what the Hindus call the Law of Karma.  In the Faiths of India the doctrine of Rebirth is also put forward as a sort of corollary to the Law of Karma.  But in Zoroastrianism although the Law of Karma is clearly laid down, the idea of rebirth is not mentioned explicitly, except in one place (Yasna 49.11) which speaks of souls coming back to “the abode of Untruth”, namely to this world of human life.  There are several other passages where rebirth might be understood by implication.  The belief in rebirth certainly seems logical and eminently reasonable.  But it often happens that those who believe in it become slack in their efforts, because they can always depend on getting another life to make improvements.  Zarathushtra, on the other hand, teaches all human beings to be continually active and alert in opposing evil. 

      As with all faiths, the Message of Zarathushtra in the purest form is found in its earliest presentation, that is, in the Gathas, which are the very words of the Founder.  The pristine purity continues during the days of his immediate disciples.  But in later ages, even though the Messenger was venerated, the purity of the Message was forgotten.  Later followers had other, more selfish and more worldly motives and they clung to the word of the Message as suited their purpose.  There were also influences from outside Iran which molded the popular beliefs and customs.  Thus Zoroastrian Faith in later ages was clearly different from the earlier Faith of the Gathas. 

      Still the lofty and spiritual personality of the Prophet has left his impress quite clearly through all these later transformations.  The ultimate bases of all ethical and moral concepts of Zoroastrianism are found in the fundamental aspects of Zarathushtra’s Message, namely (i) its absolute reasonableness and tolerance of belief, (ii) its conception of sin and evil, and (iii) its presentation of the nature of the God-head.      


1. The  date of the Prophet has been given variously by different people.  Pliny, Xanthus, Plato and Plutarch place him in eras varying from 6000 B.C. to 1000 B.C.  Some of the modern authors give dates varying from 1200 B.C. to 800 B.C. (See Masani, The Religion of Good Life. p31).  It is not the date of the Prophet but his message that is of greater importance.

2.The Zoroastrians of Ancient Iran numbered many millions. Their number today has dwindled down to about 125,000 in the whole world. [ Present Zoroastrian population 175,000 approx.]

3. Yasna 30.2:

4. Yasna 12. 7-9: 

5. The word Mainyu is usually translated as “Spirit”. But this rendering does not bring out fully the underlying idea, because “Spirit” would imply some factor or power outside the human being. Whereas Mainyu (from root man--, to think) definitely implies the mental attitude of the human being himself, and residing within him.

6. Yasna 30.1,3,4,5,6.

7. Yasna 44.5 Cf.. also Isaiah, 45.7

8. The true significance of the negative aspect of evil has been very clearly brought out in Goethe’s Faust, Part I.  There Mephistopheles introduces himself as “part of that power which still produceth good while ever scheming ill.”  Asked to explain this “riddle” Mephistopheles goes to say that he is “the Spirit that evermore denies!  Thus all the elements which ye Destruction, Sin, or briefly Evil name as my particular element I claim.”

9.   Yasna 31.18

10. Yasna 30.8

11. Yasna 46.5

12 Yasna 30.10

13. Rig-Veda, i. 164.46 says quite clearly, “the Reality is one, the wise by many names call it.”

14. Ahura, from ahu , life, means “Lord of Life”. Mazda is derived from maz, great or vast and da—to create.  And so the name means “Creator of the vast (material) universe.

15. Other scholars have taken these names differently. My  special point of view has been explained clearly and in some detail in the Introductory essay on “The Holy Word of the Religion of Zarathushtra and the Holy Immortals” in my book on The Divine Songs of Zarathushtra (Bombay 1951), pp.1-16.

16. Yasht 13-.82-.84

17.All through the history of Zoroastrianism man and woman have been treated socially and spiritually as absolutely equal.

18. Righteousness as Jesus meant it in the New Testament.

19. Yasna 60.12

20. Yasna 72.11

21. Yasna 28.2

22. Cf. Jagad-amba in Hindu theology.

23. Yasna 30.9

24. Yasht 13.92. In this passage the name Hvare (Sun) is used instead of Ahura-Mazda; and in Yasna 36.6, the Sun is mentioned as the radiant body of Ahura-Mazda

25. Cf. Mundaka-Upanishad, 2.i.1.

26. This verse is a quotation from Yasna 34.4.

27. Yasna 36.6.

Note: Dr Irach Jehangir Taraporewala essentially a teacher and research worker was born on July 22, 1884. Throughout his life he had consciously tried to understand and impart the message of the Gathas of Zarathushtra. After obtaining a Tripos in Sanskrit at Cambridge, and a Doctorate at Wurzburg, he studied Avesta under Professor C. Bartholomae, the greatest Iranist of time. After returning to India he held teaching positions as a head of number of educational institutes, notably as Principal of the M. F. Cama Athornan Institute at Andheri (Bombay) from 1930 till May 1940, when he was appointed as the first Director of the Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute, Poona.  He retired from this office in 1942 and devoted all his time to fulfill his life-long ambition of translating the Gathas of Zarathushtra.  Firstly in Gujarati in 1947 and subsequently in English in 1951. It was his ardent wish to visit Iran and he got that opportunity when he was appointed as Professor of Sanskrit and Indology at Tehran University.  He grasped the opportunity and flew to Tehran in October 1955. Unfortunately his health gave way, the day he was to commence his lectures.  He was hospitalized, and was flown back to Bomaby in November 1955.  There have been 27 publications to the credit of Dr. Taraporewala.  The essay “Zoroastrian Morals” is the last of  the series of his inspiring scholarship. The essay was originally contributed by the author to the book “Encyclopedia of Morals” in 1956. In the same year on 15th of January he passed away leaving a legacy of Zoroastrian literature.  

The deeds that I have done in days gone by,

And those that I will do by Love inspired,

May all of them seem worthy in Thy Sight;

They but reflect Thy Glory, as ordained,

As do the Sun and blushing Dawns, O Lord 

[Spenta-Mainyu 4.10 : Yasna 50.10] 


The Adorable Deities

Ali  A.  Jafarey 



magine a very powerful king.  Powerful and yet quite “powerless” to  do all the things by himself.  Therefore, he appoints ministers, advisers, messengers, ambassadors, commanders, soldiers, and other officials to help him in administrating his kingdom to his desire.  The same holds true about the supreme god who has a court full of minor gods and goddesses or archangels, angels, and other helpers.  Each of these helpers has been assigned his/her job.  It is with the help of these entities that the supreme god can maintain his universe and fight his adversaries and rebels. 

      The Aryans, or strictly the Indo-Iranians had their male and female divinities, each taking care of his/her responsibility.  They had their supreme male god.  They had two terms for these divinities: ahura/asura, literally meaning “the being, the essence”, and daeva/deva, meaning ‘the shining” [Please note that the first term is Iranian and second Indian.]  Although a little loose, ahura (masculine) and ahurani (feminine) were generally applied to invisible phenomena.  Visible gods and goddesses were generally called daeva/deva (feminine deva/devi) because they were seen by naked eyes.  

      Varuna was the supreme ahura/asura.  He controlled the sky and the earth.  Mithra/Mitra was his younger twin and comparatively of less importance.  He supervised the nomadic Aryan tribes and kept them together during daytime only because Mitra like a few more, was a day deity.  Verethraghna/Vrtrahana was the god of victory.  Harahvati/Sarasvati was the goddess of river.  Vayu was the Daeva of wind.  With many more, the pantheon was complete.  A patriarchal court, full of male and female deities. 

Zarathushtra Spitama 

      Then rose Zarathushtra.  He searched and researched through his good mind (Vohu Manah) until he realized the real Ahura, “The Being, the Essence” who is Mazda, “Super-Intellect”.  Zarathushtra denounced all the gods and goddesses because he saw “deception” in the term daeva, derived from the root div which, in addition of its one meaning “to shine,” has also a homonym root meaning “to deceive”.  They were all fancied “deceptions”, pure fallacies and nothing more! 

      Mazda, all-watching Supreme Intellect, according to Zarathushtra is the continuous creator, maintainer and promoter of the universe..  The universe is governed by certain Mazda-established “Primal Principles of Existence”.  These principles are Spenta Mainyu (progressive creative mentality), Vohu Manah (good mind), Asha (precision, the proper procedure), Vohu Khshathra (good settling order), Spenta Aramaiti (progressive serenity), Sraosha (divine communication), Daena (conscience), Chisti (perception), and a few more.  These Principles lead to Haurvatat (wholeness, progressive perfection, evolution) and Ameretat (immortality).  All these terms are abstract.  This is what we get from the Gathas, the Divine Songs of Zarathushtra. 

      Zarathushtra called the religion he founded as “Good Conscience, Good Vision” (Daena Vanguhi, Persian Din-e-Behi) because he based it on good mind and sound wisdom.  As the  first universal missionary religion, the Good Religion spread fast among the Iranian people and their neighbors. 

Enter Old Cultists 

      The old cult was losing its followers.  Their leaders saw the danger and decided to join it.  But old deep-rooted beliefs would not die for the fear of leaving behind a large pantheon of gods and goddesses and losing them. Colorful specific rituals in honor of each of them had provided the priests with large steady income round the year.  It had promoted priesthood into a powerful dictating monopoly.  This could not be obtained by simple invocations and plain rituals to a single deity, and the pantheon had to be kept at any cost. 

      So six of the Primal Principles of Existence were personified to become arch helpers of Ahura-Mazda. They were given a new compound term Amesha Spenta, meaning “immortal incremental, immortal progressive,” a name foreign to the Gathas.  Many of the old favorite ahuras, ahuranis,daevas and daevis were brought under the term---grammatically an adjective, but turned into a noun for this sole purpose.  It was YAZATA, meaning “the venerable, the adorable.” It is also foreign to the Gathas. 

      Ahura Mazda Himself became the “Greatest Yazata”, and others became minor ones created by Him to help Him run His universe.  They were insufficient and He had to seek the help of the Fravashis (female gender).  These female helpers of Ahura Mazda are translated as “Guardian Spirits” of the good creatures.  The winged figure of the Egyptian/Assyrian/Babylonian Sun God, seen hovering above Achaemenian kings on bas-reliefs and coins, now symbolized to represent Fravashi/Fravahar/Frohar.  This very masculine bearded Royal Achaemenian personality, standing within a circle in the body of a headless flying eagle, now stands for the feminine Fravashi! 

      Ahura Mazda needed these assistants mostly because He had a powerful adversary---Anghra Mainyu, generally translated as the Evil Spirit. He too had a pantheon comprising of certain rejected Indo-Iranian gods and goddesses plus a number of abstracts personified into daevas and daevis.  In fact, while Ahura Mazda had Anghra Mainyu as His opponent, each of the Yazatas had his/her combatant to face.  This is the clear picture we get from the Avesta and Pahlavi scriptures, which is outside the Gathic doctrine. The unique Monotheism of Zarathushtra, as clearly given in the Gathas and its supplements in the Gathic dialect, was turned into an attractive Pantheon of one creator but many maintainers and supervisors, each with feats that make big stories in the Yashts, pre-Zarthushtrian songs, each in honor of a favorite god or goddess.  New Yashts were composed to venerate certain Gathic abstracts personified to enlarge the Pantheon.  All pre-Zarathushtrian Yashts were revised to suit the newly institutionalized Zoroastrianism.  This, in short is the story of Yaztas (Persian Izadan) came into being.  They are faithfully venerated and worshipped by the traditionalists, the followers of the pre-Zarathushtrian, Zarathushtrian, and post-Zarathushtrian beliefs and traditions.  All well blended into the institutionalized Zoroastrianism; feeling quite happy that other religions viz. Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Baha’ism have their pantheons too.  


Cyrus P. Mehta 


ranian history records that in 226 A.D., one Ardashir Papekan overthrew the Parthian ruler Artabanus IV and established the Sassanian dynasty.  With the founding of this dynasty, the star of Zoroastrianism once again shone brightly in its native land of Iran.  From 256 B.C. to 226 A.D.---known as Greek and Parthian interlude---Zoroastrianism had been neglected and relegated to a position of no importance.  Though the later day Parthian kings took interest in the religion and revived it, but it was Ardashir Papekan who became the true champion of the religion. 

      He assembled all the learned men and the priests of his time to deliberate upon and device the best plan for restoring the purity of the ancient faith.  Morals and monotheism are the two important features of Prophet Zarathushtra’s teachings  Under the pious and learned Arda Viraf a code of morals called the “Revelations of Arda Viraf” was published for the guidance of the people. It professes to be description of what he beheld in a vision where he was transported to the other world and visited the abodes of the deceased who had inherited heaven and hell according to their acts whilst on this earth.  

      Whatever beliefs one may hold about life after death or heaven and hell, the striking feature of the Revelations is the code of ethics set down by Arda Viraf.  From that point of view alone it deserves to be read and followed. 

      As ours is a rational and scientific age, people are reluctant to accept that which cannot be scientifically proved beyond the limits of our gross senses.  Such attitude has its merits to a point.  But events do take place in this world which should not be dismissed as mere myths or stories because our mental and spiritual faculties are not sufficiently developed to comprehend them. 

      The Zoroastrians of the past believed in the authority of the visit of Arda Viraf to the realms of the spiritual world.  Life after death and the reward and punishment in life hereafter are cardinal doctrines of the Zoroastrian Faith.  One does not have to be good out of fear of God or punishment.  Man’s basic goodness arises out of spirit of God working within him and love and remembrance of God will carry him much further on the spiritual path than any amount of intellectual discussion of philosophical subjects or theology.  As such the Revelations of Arda Viraf is not only an inspirational reading but provides practical guidance for daily living: 

      “Listen O Arda Viraf,” said Serosh Izad; without trouble nothing can be attained, the poor day laborer is worthy of his hire, and thus those who perform good actions will have their reward in eternal life according to their several merits.  The life of man is of short duration, and many troubles and anxieties fall to his lot; and a man after fifty years of prosperity and happiness, may be, by some unforeseen accident, reduced to sickness and poverty.   

      “Many are tried by this criterion, and few are found worthy.  To suffer a day of pain, after fifty years of pleasure, is too much for them, and they complain, in bitterness of spirit, to the Creator of all good of His injustice and cruelty, without remembering the good they have so long enjoyed, or calling to mind the eternity of punishment in reserve for the wicked.  Therefore, O Arda Viraf,  walk your self in the path of righteousness, and teach others also to do so.  Recollect that your body will return to dust, but that your soul, if rich in good works, will mount to immortality and partake of the happiness you have already witnessed. 

      “Take care of your body, and more of your soul; the pains and aches of the body are cured, but who can minister to the diseases of the soul?  When you set out on a journey in the lower world you provide yourself and take with you money, clothes, provisions, and are prepared against all the exigencies of the road, but what do you provide yourself with for your last journey of the soul from the lower to the upper world, and whose friendship have you to assist you on the way?  Hear, O Arda Viraf.  and I will describe to you the provisions requisite for the voyage to eternal life. 

      “In the first place, the friend who will assist you is God, but to attain His friendship you must walk in His ways, and place in Him the firmest reliance.  The provision must be faith and hope, and the remembrance of  your good works.   Your body, O Arda Viraf, may be likened unto a horse, and your soul to its rider, and the provisions requisite for the support of both are good actions.  But, as with a feeble rider the horse is ill managed, so with a feeble horse the rider is but ill accommodated, care ought to be taken that both are kept in order; so in a spiritual sense, the soul and the body must be kept in order by a succession of good actions.  Even in the world the multitude would sneer at a man who took more care of his horse than of himself, for this reason a man ought to take more care of his soul than of his body.  God, O Arda Viraf, requires only two things of the souls of men: the first, that they should not sin, the second, that they should be grateful for the many blessings He is continually bestowing on them. 

      “Let the world, O Arda Viraf, be taught not to set their hearts on the pleasures and vanities of life, as nothing could be carried with  them.  You have already seen the rewards given to the good and deserving, how they have been repaid for all their trouble; the poor and the rich, the king and the peasant, here receive honors and distinction according to their good works.  You have also seen the condition of the herdsman and shepherd. 

      “In youth, and in time of manhood, when blessed with health and vigor, men suppose that their strength will never fail, that their riches, their lands, their houses, and their honors will remain for ever; that their gardens will be always green and their vineyards fruitful; but O Arda Viraf, teach them not to think so; teach them the danger of such a way of thinking---all, all will pass away as a dream! 

      “The flowers will fade, and give lessons unto man that he is unwilling to profit by,  Yea the world itself will pass away, and nothing will remain except God. 

      “Therefore, O Arda Viraf. turn your thoughts only towards Him.  Pleasure has its concomitant pain, roses have thorns, and honors fall into disgrace.  It is pleasant to drink wine, but intoxication brings pain, if not disgrace; if you exceed in eating, this also brings punishment, and you must have a doctor; even if you drink the purest water in excess, it engenders dropsy; therefore let the avoidance of excess in everything be most particularly inculcated---in wine or women, in eating and drinking: though they bring their own punishment in the world by the diseases they engender, yet they encourage the most deadly sins, and the soul so indulging will most assuredly be cut off from heaven.  So you see, O Arda Vitraf, that the indulgence of our passions brings no pleasure of long duration, or impress any good sentiment on the heart. 

      “If after praying to God for offspring, and He has granted your request, into what sea of trouble and anxiety are you plunged?  Your son or a daughter may grow up in vicious habits, and embitter your days by their undutiful conduct: the one may become a thief, the other a courtesan, and bring disgrace in your old age.  The bee that produces honey has also a sting. 

      “The world is composed of lust, avarice and passions the most ungovernable; if God gives them one thing, even that for which they most desire, they are not satisfied, but continually craving for more, to a hundred fold. 

      “Avarice and ambition deprive them of sleep, and prevent them from making a laudable exertion to subdue these dreadful passions, which will plunge them into everlasting misery. 

      “A king who has conquered all the surrounding countries sighs because he has no more world to subdue.  Kai Kaus, after having conquered many countries, aspired to be a king in heaven, and was punished for his presumption by a dreadful fall, which made him sensible of his folly. 

      “So you see O Arda Viraf, that content is the happiest condition of man and the most pleasing to the Creator.  And treasure the advice I have given you; and as you return to the lower world, inculcate these precepts, and abide by the laws and walk in the way of truth and holiness, and continue in the worship of the true God.”  

Note: The English translation of the “Arda Viraf Nama” was first published in 1816 by Captain J.A. Pope.  A much better translation prepared from the text of Dastur Hoshangji Jamaspi of Poona was published in 1872 by the late Dr. Haug assisted by the late Dr. E.W. West, an eminent Pahlavi scholar.  The above rendering of the Revelations is taken from the book “The Message of Zoroaster” by A.S.A. Wadia published in 1924. 






[Shahpur D. Shroff] 

*Motto of  Bai Virbaiji Soparivala Parsi High School, Karachi 






astur Darabji has been aptly described as “the Pope of the Parsis” by his contemporaries. After a lapse of three centuries he revived the glorious name of his illustrious forefather Mehrji Rana, when he ascended the spiritual Gadi as his 13th successor at the tender age of 16.  He had a very good and an attractive physique, and his strong and handsome features lent considerable dignity and impressiveness to his general appearance, which was full of luster.  He was brilliant in his conversation and his forceful personality drew towards him a large circle of friends and admirers from all communities---both young and old, rich and poor. 

      The maturity of thought he showed at an early age was remarkable.  He scrupulously observed the best traditions of communal and public life and was always generous in appreciation of his opponents.  But his life was a crown of thorns..  As the head of the Samast Bhagarsath Anjuman, his whole life was spent in troubles and worries and in his staunch fights in maintaining the Anjuman’s and his own prestige, rights and privileges, in spite of his lean resources and poor purse.  Through all these difficulties, he never lost heart, nor set aside the ideals and principles, which he had made his own.  He always expounded and expressed his religious views fearlessly. 

      He was a rare embodiment of simplicity, sincerity, selflessness, self-respect, religious orthodoxy and spiritual luster.  Pride and pomp, pleasure and glitter of gold dared not enter his threshold.  His dignity was enhanced by his hereditary poverty and the cheap, plain white cotton pichhodi which outshone the ostentations of woolen and brocade shawls of other Dasturs.  He sacrificed his all and even incurred debts in fighting the cause of his Anjuman, but at the same time he was very anxious to see that others’ rights were respected and not encroached upon. 

      When the late Seth Nusserwanji R. Tata built the “Tower of Silence” well known as Tata’s Dokhma, at Navasri in 1878, he had invited Sir Richard Temple, the then Governor of Bombay on that religious occasion.  An address was then presented to His excellency which was read by Dastur Darabji,   and he made such a strong impression upon Sir Richard that the latter described him as a “picturesque priest”, and the Governor being much impressed by his magnetic personality. 

      As the head of  the Main Panthak, he was well respected by other Pantahks.  As the leader of all the communities of Navsari he was honored by all---Hindus and Muslims alike. The late Mr. Romesh Chandra Dutt, Diwan of Baroda was pleased to visit him several times during his sojourns at Navsari and was impressed with the simplicity and the piety of the High Priest.  Mahraja Sir Sayajirao Gaekwad of Borada held Dasturji in high esteem and had conferred upon him the great honor of Bbatri-Masal (First Grade). On the felicitous occasion of the coronation of King Edward VII, he was awarded a Certificate of Merit as “Head of the Parsi Community”   

      Dastur Darabji first visited Bombay in 1902 when an unprecedented ovation and honor were given to him by all sections of the Parsi community.  On his return from Bombay unparallel reception was given to him at the Navsari station by the Government and the general public, and he was taken to his residence with all pomp and cavalcade befitting a royal personage.  Never had Navsari seen such a gathering of her citizens and witnessed so many of the distinguished leaders of various communities, all anxious to pay honor and respect to one who was by common consent the greatest of her sons. 

      Dasturji Saheb had predicted his death and died in 1907 at the age of 90, leaving the Anjuman in grief and chaos.  His was a mighty influence on religious, social and civic life of Navsari Parsis.  His funeral was most impressive and attended by men representing every class of the cosmopolitan population of Navsari.

[Source: “Parsi Luster on Indian Soil” by H. D. Darukhanwalla] 

                        And clouds are hung o’er lands and seas of late,

                        Now when Druj1 moves on triumphant fast

                        And needy folk put out the Lamp and wait

                        Upon their swollen lords who vicious walk

                        The earth in pride and spurn our sacred see,

                        Our Atash altars2, pilgrims train, and talk

                        Of soul-less unity, how need we Thee!

                        O for They heavenly chain in closer bond

                        To bind this mammon-hunting world! O flesh

                        Across this smoking earth Thy magic wand

                        Of Light and Right and Virtue’s worth in cash!

                        Do Thou descend thy golden ladder, Lord,

                        And on their heart Pashemanon3 record. 

                        [1. Demon of Falsehood: 2. Fire-temple: 3. I repent.] 

“Religion of Asho Zarthusht and Influence through The Ages”

by Ervad Jehan Bagli 

To order a copy; enclose a check payable to NAMC and mail to Ervad Jehan Bagli, 1569 Wembury Road, Missisauga, Ont. L5J 2L8 Canada. Price in U.S.A. US $ 8.00 + 4.00 for postage. Price in Canada CAN $ 12.00 + 4.00 for postage. [These prices are for N. America only] 

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