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Volume IV No.6


August-September 2003, Mah Shehrevar, Fasal Sal 1372  


“No Scripture in the world can be understood merely by analyzing its words and its grammar: it has to be practiced.  And when we live the life according to the rules laid down in a scripture we are following some Divine Messenger and we are trying to work for the Lord.” [Irach J.S. Taraporewala] 




s the ‘new religion’ here, now?  Has its birth been so subtle that it has almost gone unnoticed?  Something has, as Yeats puts it, slouched towards Bethlehem to be born, and it certainly is a rough beast. I refer to the religion of materialism and its doctrine of consumerism in which ‘things’ exist only to be used and disposed off.   

      It’s back to the subject of our young people again, I’m afraid!  That’s because the new religion derives its greatest strength from the cult of ‘youthism’.  One section of society has been overvalued at the expense of and to the detriment of all who fall outside of its confines.  A sub-group which only really exists due to the willful manipulation of big business operating through the media, and out to exploit the relative affluence of modern teenagers and young adults.  This is a culture in which the second rate in language, music, literature and entertainment is mindlessly accepted as being normal.  

      Artists are no longer those who have something worthwhile and of value to say.  They are those who, for a quick dollar, are willing to allow the corporate world to package and mould them as a ‘product’, money spinning commodities, which are eagerly snapped up by the ton due to consumers being kept in the dark about there being anything better and of real quality to offer.  A culture of amateurism where people cannot be bothered any more to develop ‘real’ skills and talents where there is need to work at anything.  Work has become a four-letter word-- instant results and instant satisfaction are expected and demanded. 

      It is tragic that our young people are actively encouraged to look up to and worship increasingly unworthy heroes who, through such agencies as the movies, promote as normal a religion of needless violence meted out to people who are perceived as being nothing more than objects.  Things only have value if they can be used.  If not, blow them away, and dispose off them. .  It’s our old friend the doctrine of consumerism again, this time disturbingly applied to human life.  Bearing in mind the doctrine of reincarnation, we are the people who are ultimately going to be returning to, and inheriting this mess, the very same mess that ‘we’ ourselves originally left behind!  

      After all that has been said above, and without being terribly defeatist, I think there is very little that any organization can do, short of being ever ready to hold out a firm guiding hand to any one who happened to inadvertently stumble onto the Path.  The fact of the matter is that the vast majority do not want to change in any way, do not even see the need for change in themselves.  The mass of humanity seems to want to go on enjoying and indulging in the trivial fruits of their labors, playing with trinkets and toys consumer society endlessly churns out, allowing them to escape for a few moments until boredom once again sets in and the risk of ‘waking up’ and having to face oneself becomes so real that more novelties and cheap thrills are urgently needed to prevent the dreadful occurrence from actually taking place. 

      The lengths which people go and the methods they have developed to escape reality are simply astounding.  Staying asleep and avoiding waking up to the real world has become paramount. Escape is through drink and drugs; television, movies and video; and the fanatical following of sport.  One observes the irritating constant hiss of personal stereos on buses and trains as a whole generation of youngsters try to switch off from their surroundings.  And now our scientists have blessed us with probably the most dangerous potential escape route yet invented by man, the concept of cyberspace and Virtual Reality.  Remember, ‘virtual’ means “in effect but not in fact”, so what we have here is a reality existing in essence but not in fact.  Sounds awfully similar to the place the so-called insane are reputed to inhabit. 

      The fact of the matter is that putting on the brakes, stopping, sitting quietly doing nothing, being mindful and facing oneself is seen as just too horrific to even bear considering.  This avoiding of the self is like a person continually trying to run away from his own shadow.  You can’t keep on running for ever, you are going to pull up and rest sometime and when you do, that from which you have been running is going to catch up with you. ◘ 

[Source: INSIGHT – The Journal of The Theosophical Society in England] 



t has been said by a Christian clergyman that “the Cross of the Christ is of greater worth than all His miracles”.  It is so with all Great Teachers of humanity.  Every one of them has been invested in later ages with a halo of mystic tradition, and has had miracles attached to His life upon earth.  All this merely indicates that Their followers have regarded them as far above the average of mortal man, and that they thought Their lives to be specially precious to humanity; but unfortunately these very legends, many of them inventions of later superstitious ages, have tended in a great measure to obscure the real worth of Their teaching.   

      There is also certain “family-likeness” between these mystic traditions, which have grown up around the lives of these great Saviors.  But it is certainly not the miracles They performed which constitute Their chief claim to greatness and to the gratitude of humanity.  It is the Message, which, They proclaimed, the Eternal Truth, which They sought to re-establish in the hearts of men and women; it is the Peace, which They brought to countless suffering hearts that constitutes Their title to be called Saviors, Masters and Lords of the World.  They in the fullness of Their Wisdom and Their Compassion have brought the most valued Divine Gifts, the Message inspired by God Himself, and hence it is that Their names are remembered and worshipped by millions of men through countless generations. 

      So also with the Savior of Iran, it is not the miracles, which Zarathushtra wrought that have caused His memory to be the most sacred heritage of His followers, but His Great Message of Asha, and of Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds.◘      

[Source: “The Religion of Zarathushtra” I.J.S. Taraporewala] 


A teacher was asked if he taught his pupils religion.  “I teach it all day long,” he replied. “I teach in arithmetic by accuracy, in history by humanity, and in astronomy by reverence.  And I teach it by kindness to animals, good manners to others, and by truthfulness in all things.” [Author unknown] 

ASHEM VOHU: By Dr. Maneck B. Pithawalla



here is not a prayer in the Khordeh Avesta that does not give this short but sublime Ashem Vohu in it.  It is the Om or the Logos of the Zoroastrian Religion.  It is the true essence of the Faith that has nourished the Persian race for more than forty centuries.  Ashem or Righteousness is be all and end-all of Zoroastrianism.  It is the first and last utterance of Ahura Mazda who has made the whole Universe even thereby.  Zarathushtra said, “Let there be existence of Asha established,” and there was a whole epoch of Ashoi. in Iran.  In the hoary antiquities of the human race when the Prophet of Iran saw the world sunk into shame and in sin and sorrow, then it was that he delivered the message of Asha Vahista to the whole world.  “Choose ye between the two, the good and the evil,” in these tremendous Gathic words he threw the whole philosophy of Zend Avesta.  And ever since the days of the Great Zarathushtra, the Dasturan Dasturs of Persia have sung the sacred song many millions of times. Today it is the rare charm the Parsees possess, handed down as it is to them by generations of Persia and India.  It is the first prayer, which a child on his or her Naojot day must utter; it is even the last that is breathed into the ears of a dying Zoroastrian.  There is no greater treasure that the Zoroastrians could possess today. 

      Ashem Vohu vahishtem asti.  So great is the importance of this single prayer of Ashem Vohu that a special Ha or Chapter viz. the 20th has been devoted to it in the sacred Yasna.  It opens with, “A blessing is Righteousness called the best; there is weal, there is weal to this man when the right helps the righteousness best, (i.e. when the pious man serves it in truth).”  Says this Avestan commentary, “Of what character is the man whom Mazda announced this proclamation.” The reply is, “To the holy and the best, the one who rules with no capricious tyranny.”  That is why the Avestan words have a small meaning to those who rule with tyranny in this world.  That is why the Parsees still suffer from poverty in spite of the annual charity of millions of rupees.  This the one reason why the multi-millionaires cannot find peace in spite of their millions. 

      Ushta asti ushta ahmai hyat ashai vahishtai ashem.  Happiness is unto him alone who is holy in best holiness.  Zarathushtra advised mankind to adopt the garb of holiness ever since their birth and even the recitation of this short prayer of Ashem Vohu has its good effect on the mind of the reciter.  He who, before leaving his bed in the early morning, leaves off wicked thoughts and recites one Ashem Vohu with understanding, he is considered to have recited a thousand Ashem Vohus at other times. This is the statement in the very first Fargard of the Hadokht Nask.  Similarly he, who repeats one Ashem Vohu at the last moment before his death, its value will be that of the whole land of Khanirath mentioned in the same Nask.  The number 3 has a mystery of its own in the Avesta and when Ashem Vohu is repeated three times, there is such charm as cannot be given by anything else.   What better words can we utter in the early morning of a New Year’s Day than these same Manthraic words?   

      “Show me a single prayer in your religious books which has even half the charm that the hymn Thy Will Be Done has in the Christian Scriptures.” This was the bold question put to the present writer many years ago in Bombay by a Parsee almost converted to Christianity out of sheer ignorance of the Avesta.  After a few moments the following lines were shown to him in English garb, which the skeptical Parsee preferred.


      Hormuzd Khodae of high abode,   ‘All bliss to him, to ev’ry one

      Whene’er I bear Thy light or load,   Who far excels in deeds well done’:

      I say in pure Avestan code:    In silken threads the Seer hath spun

      What tho’ the Persians lost their crown,  Ashoi ennobles earthly life,

      What tho’ they left their Aryan gown,  Ashoi breaks down the chains of strife;

      Now alien chants can never drown:   It is the note from Heaven’s fife,

Make pure my thought make pure my word,

O Mazd, leave not my voice unheard;

Our action song still sings the Bird:


[Source: RAHNUMA] 


By Shahpur F. Captain 


ver the past decade, the members of the community have been concerned at the demographic trends and restrictive religious practices within the community. Zoroastrians world over have been concerned at the two major problems facing the community throughout the world, namely: 1.The dwindling Zoroastrian population and 2. Inter-faith marriages. 

      There is now, within the community, sufficient awareness of the gravity of the above topic, not only in the West but also in the East.  Let it be remembered that in 1993 and 1994, two non-Zoroastrians were converted to the Zoroastrian faith – and openly so in India.  In Iran too thorough out the Pahlavi period non-Zoroastrians were joining our faith.  By these acts, our religious elders have shown to us that the time has come for the community to accept the simple and clear fact that the religion of Zarathushtra is UNIVERSAL, and like all universal religions not only does itpermit conversion but also enjoins it.” 

      To help maintain a perspective on the matter, what better source to quote from than that of Zarathushtra’s own words from the Gathas translated by Dastur  Firooz Azargoshosp 

      Following translation of letter dated 14th September 1903 written by Kaikhushru Dastur Jmaspji addressed to Ervad Jivanji Jamshedji Modi, Secretary of the Bombay Parsi Panchayat clearly shows that the religion of Zarathushtra is universal and confirms preceding quotations.    


Roj Gatha 5th, 1272 Y.Z.

14th September 1903

Sethji Saheb  Shamshul Ulema Ervad Jivanji Jamshedji Modi

Secretary of Religious Funds and Trust Properties of Bombay Parsi Panchayt 


      You have requested me to give our opinion on whether or not to allow non-Zoroastrians to convert to Zoroastrianism.  In reply, I take your leave to state that there is no bar in our religion to accept any juddin (non-Zoroastrian) into Zarthosti religion.  Every Zoroastrian reciting his obligatory prayers, such as Khorshed and Meher yashts, prays that our Mazdayasni religion may spread to all Haftakeshwar Zamin [i.e the seven regions of the earth]. The athornans of days gone by did not just sit around wishing this [spread of religion] to come true, but traveled to distant lands to spread the Zoroastrian religion [Refer to Yasna 41.6].  These athornans while doing the work of spreading Mazdasyani religion, at times met difficulties created by tyrants. [See, Yasna 9.24].  We have referred to only two passages from the innumerable Zoroastrian scriptures confirming that the conversion of juddins to Zoroastrianism is permitted. 

      In the second edition of Ervad Tehmurasp Dinshahji Ankleseria’s “Treaties On the Conversion of Juddins Into Mazdaysani Religion” that has just been published, this able Ervad Saheb has cited evidence from Avesta, Pahlavi and Persian texts, and we are entirely of the same opinion with the examples quoted. . 

      In the second part of the book “Pashoke Nirange Javit Dinan” published in 1252 Y.Z by our dear departed Dastur Jamaspji has given examples that it is proper to convert juddins into Zoraostrain religion.  From the examples cited by Ervad Tehmurasp [Ankleseria] and by our dear departed Jamaspji in the above magazine, it can be said that there is hardly any material left for further research by any scholar.  Therefore rather prolonging the matter by citing examples, we place the matter of this book for your sub-committee. 


(Kaikhushru Dastur Jamaspji)”

1Dwindling Population

non-Zoroastrians.  This is a fact of life and we cannot just wish it away.  In days gone by, inter-faith marriages were few.  Presently, a third to a half of our youth, outside India, marry outside the fold. In next ten to twenty years this proportion is bound to increase.  Such inter-faith marriages affect families and the community in two ways.  They entail consequences that are social and religious.  Both the social and religious aspects of inter-faith marriages are so important that they are a source of continuing debate and discussion at conferences, seminars and private gatherings. 

   It is only natural for a Zoroastrian to want his/her non-Zoroastrian spouse and children to be made welcome into the community.  If the non-Zoroastrian spouse is ill treated or badly received, the family will feel rejected and may turn its back on the community and religion.  Due to the increase of inter-faith marriages, there are now more Zoroastrians (individuals and communities) who accept and welcome non-Zoroastrian spouses and children to our social and religious functions.  There are, however, some Zoroastrians who oppose any attempt at integration and who, by their actions, make it impossible or difficult for non-Zoroastrians spouses to come and feel welcome at our communal and religious gatherings. 

  1. To impart the true principles and history of our religion to children through out their formative years in order to instill pride in our Zoroastrian way of life.
  1. Non-Zoroastrian spouses and their children be invited to and made welcome at all our social functions and religious ceremonies without any reservations.
  1. The Navjote ceremony of the children of inter-faith marriages should be performed and these children integrated into our community.
  1. Non-Zoroastrian spouses should be encouraged to learn about the Zoroastrian religion and bring up their children in the Zoroastrian way of life.  If, as a result of such a study, the non-Zoroastrian spouse wishes to embrace Zoroastrianism, the community should facilitate this.  This will help inter-married families bind themselves strongly and further into the community. 
  1. Our Zoroastrian marriage ceremony should be performed if requested for inter-faith marrying couples.



he lofty Zoroastrian precept that man’s deeds and not the ceremonies are his salvation began to weaken after Zarathushtra’s passing away by the mingling of ancient Indo-Iranian religious beliefs with his unadulterated faith.  The false notion that by performing many ceremonies and by burning much of sandalwood all desires are fulfilled and heaven is attained shows sign of the community’s degradation.  Their wild attempts to attain desires through saints and priests are a painful proof of their feeble mentality, their faint morality and failing Zoroastrianism.  

      The history of religion reveals that as Hindu and Zoroastrian priesthood is hereditary, the Brahmins and the Dastoors and Mobeds have made these two religions more ritualistic than any other religion in the world.  In the Hindu religion, from the time a child is in the mother’s womb, and continuing through his birth, christening, janoi and marriage all aspects throughout his course of life are entwined with ceremonies. 

      A Zoroastrian’s life is not so much interwoven with rituals during his lifetime.  But where ceremonies of the dead are concerned Zoroastrians have out-done their Hindu brethren both in number of ceremonies and in length of time that they are continued.  The belief that rituals alter the destiny, that the soul has forged itself is completely contradictory to Zarathushtra’s religion and is the offspring of false precepts of the later Avestan and Pahlavi periods. 

      The vast wealth that is expended on ceremonies at least gives the satisfaction that it provides for the livelihood of the priests.  But the unlimited and reckless expense to feed fire is to say the least, a sheer waste of money.  Asho Zarthosht has certainly not recommended this.  

      If we were to express an unbiased opinion about the Vandidad, which is considered the most important book on ceremonies, it can be stated that there is nothing like prayer or ceremonies in it.◘ 

[Source: “Dastur Dhalla Autobiography”] 



                  New dawn reddens again the sky in Eastern lands.

                  O East arise, and teach anew the West,

                  What mean Humanity and Righteousness?

                  Let’s hope and pray, when East is wide-awake,

                  And strong again, her new-found strength she’ll use

                  To bring our sore-tried Earth the gift of Peace,

                  Of Goodwill and Brotherhood of Man.

                  Henceforth no people should in bondage be;

                  All nations are from God: His workers must be free!  [Ishqi] 

At ve khshmaibya a-suna vaeda

kharaithya vaintya sravao 

For I believe no prayer devout for Truth.

Can ever remain unanswered from Your side.

[Last two lines of Ahunavaiti 1.10 Ys. 28.10: Blank verse translation by I.J.S. Taraporewla] 

A to Zee for Zarthosti: By Jalu Sethna 

Arrogant be not, never at all,     Make money honestly in your dealings,

Because you know pride has its fall.    Never by foul means and stealing. 

Cruel be not specially to mankind,    Observance of prayers, always a good thing,

Do good deeds instead, for peace of mind.   Problem solved of distressed a greater thing  

Envy not others, as you have no right,   Quote not to others weaknesses if any.

For you are not better than an invalid without sight.  Remember, yours may be too many. 

Greedy be not, be contented with what you have,  Speak truth always and never tell a lie.

Hundreds of thousands haven’t half of what you have To cover one you will lie and lie. 

Insult not others and hurt their feelings,   Undo the wrongs and make them aright

Just remember that they are human beings.   Vision of His light will come to your sight. 

Keep cool, keep calm, for there lies the charm,  Way to keep close to relatives and friends

Let go your temper, for that inflicts harm.   X’mas and New Year greeting always send.  

From our readers: I enjoy reading USHAO. My humble comment is about our authors referring to Humata, Hukhta and Huverashta as Commandments.  These are not commandments. These are guiding principles or a suggested ethical path for achieving eternal bliss. I do not believe that Zarathushtra ascribes any commandments in any of his songs. (Jimmy Dholoo, Maryland, U.S.A.)  

[Thank you for your comments regarding Humata, Hukhta and Huvershta. I concur that these words can’t be accepted as commandments as is the case of the Ten Commandments in the Bible. However, USHAO can’t take liberty and alter the author’s original text. It is likely that as the essay on “Zoroastrian Morals” by the late Dr. Irach J.S. Taraporewala was originally contributed for “Encyclopedia of Morals”, probably a Christian publication, the author might have thought it better to construe this triad as commandments for Christian readership.]   

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