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Volume IV No.7


September-October 2003: Mah Meher, Fasal Sal 1372  


May Ahura Mazda bless us,    May He sweeten our lives,

May we bless each other,    May we sweeten each other’s lives,

May we bless the world in which we live.  May we sweeten the lives of all whom we touch.


May He be generous with us,    May He instruct through good thinking

May we be generous with each other,   The course of direction,

May each of you be an ornament of the Zarathushti Din.

To which you now belong. Welcome! 

[Dina McIntyre]




  1. ETERNAL WAYS: Shahriar Shahriari
  1.     SIMILARITY OF WORSHIP: Virasp Mehta


by Jehangir C. Tavadia 


he word Parsi means belonging to Pars, a province of Iran or Persia.  The classical name of this province is Persis and the modern is Fars, the Arabic form of Pars, because this language has no p-sound.  In Old Persian Parsa meant both the land and its inhabitant and was also used adjectively, ---Persian.  It is this province and this people that produced the most powerful dynasty of Persia, viz. the Achaemenian which counts among its members men like Cyrus (Kurush) and Darius (Darayavahush), who hold not a negligible place in the history of the world. 

      In his great inscription of Naqsh-i Rustam Darius proudly proclaims that he is “a Persian, the son of a Persian” and that “the spear of a Persian man hath gone forth afar” and that “a Persian man fought his foe far from Persia.”  The other great dynasty, viz. the Sassanian, also came from this province, but its members do not declare any pride about their worldly connection; they are rather busy in establishing their divine origin from God Himself.  Because of these great dynasties the terms Persia and Persian went further from their limited signification and began to designate the whole country and its entire population.  Hence it cannot be said that we come from Pars, only because we are called Parsis, our forefathers might have as well belonged to some other province.  As for their arrival in India we have a tradition and only a tradition. 

      It amounts to this: after the unfortunate or one may say disgraceful downfall of the Sassanians the Persians had to choose either the Quran or the death; most of them made their choice but a few managed to flee in order to preserve both their life and religion.  History militates against this tradition.  Firstly the choice for the conquered Persians did not lie between the Quran and the death but between the former and the jizya or poll tax on the non-Muslims, and the latter was not unjust inasmuch as the payment thereof exempted the concerned from that of the alms obligatory on the Muslims.  And Baladhuri tells us in his history of the Mohammedan conquests that the Jews and the Magians (i.e. Zoroastrians) were averse to Islam and preferred to pay the poll tax. 

      It is equally incorrect to say that the fanatical Arabs ruthlessly destroyed the literature of ancient Persia.  Those who have busied themselves with the post-Sassanian literature of Persia, written chiefly in Arabic know that the contrary is true.  Instead of being destroyed, the literary monuments were studied and admired, translated and adopted.  Any work dealing with the history of Persian or Arabic literature will show this.  Prof. Inostransev has written a special monograph to show Iranian Influence on Muslim Literature under which title Mr. G.K. Nariman has translated from original Russian.  Even before and after that Mr. Nariman has drawn the attention to this fact, vide for instance his article on “Hamza Isphani”, in the Journal of the Bombay Branch of Royal Asiatic Society.  He, however, is wrong, when he says “much that of priceless value in matters religious from ancient Iran was already annihilated by Alexander.”  No doubt, the Pahlavi writings say the same thing but then later Parsis also complain about the Arabs.  In both cases the results of one’s own fault and weakness have been attributed to the wickedness and enmity of others.  I do not deny that Alexander and Arabs are the ultimate causes for the evils, but in that case anybody can be proved to be the ultimate cause of any crime. 

      The events that followed the Arab supremacy show that the Zoroastrians were still powerful.  They along with other Persians joined Abu Muslim, whom they considered as a savior, in the Abbasid cause.  Prof. Browne says about the successful issue that, “Kadissiya and Nahawand were avenged on the banks of the Zab”. op.cit 247.  It is true that the Shias were bitterly disappointed and even Abu Muslim was put to death, but I cannot see how Inostransev could connect the Parsi emigration with this.  His arguments are not at all convincing; they are made just to support one of the traditional dates of the event, vide The Journal of the K.R. Cama Oriental Institute 1.33ff.   On the contrary we see that the Zoroastrians contributed their share in the repeated attempts made during the next century---from the middle of the 8th to that of the 9th century, to overthrow the Arab supremacy.  One of these rebellions was headed by one of their own fold, Sinbadh (Sampadh), the Magian.  It may be noted that Rehatsek suggested the failure of this rebellion as the cause of the Parsi emigration, vide Journal of Bombay Branch of Royal Asiatic Society 9.218; but this is a mere conjecture exactly like that of Inostransev.  In the trial of Afshin Mazyar, the Ispahbandh of Tabaristan, is reported to have said: “his (Mazyar’s) brother Khash wrote to my brother Ruhyar, saying, ‘none can cause this Most Luminous Religion to prevail save I, and thou, and Babak’,” Browne, op. cit. 334.  This trial has been handed down to us through not less than three men of letters and the reader may well read it in Browne op. cit. 330 ff. as well as in Nariman, Iranian Influence etc. 135 ff.  The Mobadh who was one of the principal witnesses in this trial cannot be an ordinary priest, otherwise his former relation to Afshin has no significance, nor the remark: “the Mobadh was a Magian who afterwards embraced Islam in the reign of al-Mutawakkil, one of whose intimates he became.”  In Nariman op, cit. 137 we read “and repented for his previous belief” instead of the last clause.  No doubt, a pious Muslim changed the text.  It should be noted that the word mobadh was used in the sense of the religious leader, i.e. in its literal and primary sense. 

      With the reign of al-Mutawakkil (847-861) appeared the change in policy. The Turkish party came in power.  Vexatious enactments against the Jews and Christians were put into operation, cf. Browne 343.  But we are not told that the Zoroastrians too had to obey them, although those enactments were of the same type forced upon them later on till recently.  We also know that in this reign the Iranian calendar was reintroduced.  Lastly it should be mentioned that in the days of Masudi, i.e. in the 10th century, there were fire temples almost in every province of Persia.  All this means life and vigor. 

      The writings of the Zoroastrians themselves do not give us anything but the same idea.  A majority of the Pahlavi books that have come down to us are composed or complied after the downfall of the Sassanians.  Atur-farnbagh, son of Farrokhvzat, one of the compilers of Denkart and the author of some works no longer extant flourished in the days of al-Mamun (813-833).  As that small tract Matikan i vijastak Abalish shows, he used to take part in religious discussions held at the latter’s court.  Manoshchihr, the author of Datistan i denik flourished in the latter part of the 9th century.  He was the Rat or spiritual pontiff of the provinces Pars and Karman as we learn from the peroration of that work.  His seat was in Shiraz, the capital of the province (Datistan 1.17; Epistles 1,3.13).  We further learn from the latter work that Sarakhs and Sirakan, Neshahpur and Ragh were Zoroastrian centers in those days. The Datistan 88.7 refers to Artakhshahr-khvarrah i.e. Firuzabad as such.  The questions in this work are not restricted to dogmas and ceremonies, religious and other customs, but a number of them deal with the practical economy of life.  They refer not only to the internal affairs of the community but also to its dealings with the foreigners and non-Zoroastrians.  All this points to some sort of self-government and power.  The Epistles shows that there were other leaders like the author in his days, viz. for the provinces other than Pars and Karman; and that they had their own troops.  I believe that Aturpat was one of such leaders and a rival of Manoshchihr.  The latter was very naturally afraid of his power being diminished because of the conduct of one of his subordinates, Zatsparm, who too was an erudite scholar like his elder brother, as his extant treatises including a life of Zoroaster show. 

      The compiler of the Great Bundahishn considers him, and Aturpat, son of Hemit, Asha Vahisht son of Farnbagh Srosh and other religious leaders as his contemporaries vide the facsimile ed. pp 237 f. This Aturpat took over the compilation of the latter part of the Denkart after the death or murder of Zaratusht, son of Atur-farnbagh, vide Madan’s ed. p.466 II, 17 ff.  It is to him that we are indebted for the summary of all the Nasks except two, one of which was not at all accessible to him and of the other he could not secure a Middle Persian or Pahlavi version.  This is enough to convince anybody how utterly false is the charge that the conquerors have destroyed the non-extant Nasks; but there are some scholars who would not change even the idols of the market place.  The chief protagonist of the tradition, Dr. Modi, defended his position in the following words:  “The answer is, that they gave such a detailed account from what they heard from the lips of learned men who in their turn had heard of them from their parents.  Oral traditions had preserved the knowledge of the contents of the books.  It is very true that the first inroad of the Arabs did not do all mischief at once.  It was a slow and gradual work, and by the end of the second century after the conquest, the work of destruction was complete.  Hence the necessity for Dastur Adar Farobag and other writers to collect in the Denkard, at least the details of the contents of lost books, fresh in the memory of many persons of the time.  If the twenty-one Nasks were all extant at the time when Adar Farobag wrote, whence the necessity for writing the contents?  If zeal for preserving this literature prompted them to do the work, why did they do it half-heartedly by merely preserving the contents, and not by making copies and distributing them?”  Sir J. J. Madressa Jubilee Volume Intr. pp. 58 f.  The last question is not for me to reply; and the last but one should not have been put at all.  The contents are given for the sake of easy reference.  Is Dr. Modi unaware of the well-known Fihrist?  I need not point out petty mistakes in his statements and arguments.  It is enough to say that the Doctor ignores what the author himself says on different occasions in the course of his work; and we have every reason to believe him.  This Aturpat may be the same person of whom Manoshchir was afraid.  As for Asha Vahisht we know nothing further; perhaps we can identify him as the father of Hemat, the author of a legal work known under the title of Rivayat-i-Hemit-i Asha Vahishtan.  

      When I was writing this I found in Nariman op.cit. 183 the following, a translation of a chapter from Masudi’s Kitab at-tanbih: “The mobed of the Persians at the moment of writing this history, that is in the year 364, for the country of Jabal in Iraq and for the countries of Ajam, is Ammad son of Ashvahisht.  Before him these countries had their Mobed Isfandiyar son of Adarbad, son of Anmid, who was killed by Radi at Baghdad in 325.”  These notices are very important inasmuch as they fill up the gaps so satisfactorily and help in rejecting West’s remarks about the successive leaders of the Zoroastrians, vide Grundriss der iranischen Philologic 2.p. 105. West did not care to see that Aturfarnbagh’s activity was in Western Persia and that Manoshchihr’s (and before him his father’s) authority was only in the provinces of Pars and Karman.  I see in this Ammad, which is as will been seen below a misprint for Anmad, no body else than Hemit, son of Asha Vahisht.  Similarly, Anmid is Hemit, the father of Aturpat.  With a view to examine the names and other details, I search the passage in the original Arabic and I found it in de Goeje, Bibliotheca Geographorum Arabicorum 8. 104. There, Hemit or Emidh is once written Anmadh, and another time Anmidh.  In both cases n occurs instead of e, which mistake is quite comprehensible in Arabic where the letters nun and ya in the middle of a word differ only in the number and position of points.  Instead of Asha Vahisht we find Astavahisht, which the editor wrongly changes into Ashrahisht, if it is not a misprint for Ashvahisht.  Here I find that I am not the first to notice the connection between the names, the note “t” shows that Darmesteter has already seen it but curiously enough his reconstruction of the names is incorrect. 

      These facts, which can be supplemented, at least from non-Zoroastrian writings will give some idea, true though different from one in vogue, about the Zoroastrians in the first centuries of Islam.  I am not sure whether it is possible to depict their further history in the same way.  In any case we have stopped at a point from which another epoch begins; it was in the thirties of the tenth century that the ancestors of some of the present day Parsis landed at Sanjan.  That this is the date, more trustworthy than any other, of the Parsi emigration shown, by Prof. S. H. Hodivala.  

[Source: “Rahnuma” Quarterly: 1927: Note: The author was a lecturer at Hamburg University] 



halwar and Kameez though commonly worn in Pakistan originated in Parthian Iran [248 BCE-224 AD]. The words Shalwar and Kameez are both from the Pahalvi language, a Middle Iranian language developed from Old Persian, the language of the Zoroastrians of Iran.  The use of the Shalwar and Kameez as a national Iranian costume can be seen from Parthian times and the best examples are the bronze statue from Shami in South Western Iran dated late 1st century BC, and the statue of the worshipper from Hatra in Iraq, depicting a Shalwar and a belted Kameez. 

      Similarly the statue from Bard-i-Nishandeh in South Western Iran, 3rd century AD, depicts a Parthian personage wearing Shalwar and Kameez.  In fact this early Zoroastrian Iranian dress became popular that it was later widely adopted by non-Arab countries from Central Asia to the sub-continent. 

      If any thing the Shalwar Kameez is a Zoroastrian Iranian national costume, and despite the Arab invasion in the 7th century, the Parthian Shalwar Kameez prevailed as a dress code in most of these countries.  This can also be seen by its continuous usage for over 2000 years in the villages of Kurdistan, and of Yazd and Luristan in Iran.  

[Source: “Business Recorder”, Karachi] 


Hamisheh Hudin-o-Huhim Baash: Ever preserve firm faith as well as cheerful disposition. 

Ahuramazda Khudai Senashaad: Recognize the Omniscient Creator as your only Sovereign-Lord. 

Zarathushtra Rad Setayaad: Adore Zarathushtra as your spiritual Chief and Sovereign-Lord and Leader  

Ahreman Deo Avshinaad: Abhor Ahreman as a cheat and deceiver.  

[Source: “Handbook of Information on Zoroastrianism”:  Dastur Khurshed S. Dabu] 



eeping the two principles [of good and evil] of Yours [God] in mind, we shall teach the hitherto unheard words to those who destroy the righteous world by their wrongful doctrines.  No doubt, the two principles will prove the best for those who are devoted to the Wise One. 

      “Since it is not easy for the soul to find the better course, I, whom the Wise Lord knows, come to you all as the leader of the two parties [the righteous and the wrongful] so that we may live in accordance with righteousness. 

      “The happiness You [God] grant has been promised to the two parties through Your mental fire and righteousness.  It is a matter of principles for the discerning. O Wise One, for our knowledge, speak with the very words of Your mouth.  It will help me guide all the living to choose [the right religion]” 

[Gathas: Song 4, stanzas 1-3: Yasna 31.1-3] 

Religion of Right Choice: 

   Song 4, consisting of 22 stanzas, is the song of guidance to enlightenment.  The three stanzas quoted above highlight six points: 

  1. Zarathushtra’s teachings, first of all are addressed to the persons whose wrong doctrines are harmful to the human society.
  2. The teachings are clearly very good for the devoted.
  3. Ahura Mazda knows Zarathushtra for his listening to the Divine Teachings, and being prepared to proclaim the Message through his songs, the Gathas. (Song2.8: Ys.29.8)
  4. Zarathushtra comes as a leader to make it easier for both the wrongful and rightful to take the better course in life.
  5. The better course is taken by means of fire, symbolizing a bright mind and by following the proper means of accomplishing a job.
  6. Inspired by the divine words, Zarathushtra wants to guide all living beings to choose the right religion.

   The universality of his message lies at the very core of the above six points.  A play in the Gathas (Song 2: Ys. 29) portrays the world, which suffered from aggression and oppression, and wanted a redeemer and leader.  The living world wanted a strong and aggressive person, but instead was introduced to a weak looking person who believed that only good wisdom; best righteousness and peaceful actions can bring the desired change.  Convinced of the new doctrine and enjoying the full freedom of choice, the world chose Zarathushtra.  The play is still fresh.  Much of the living world is still suffering from aggression and oppression.  It must choose Zarathushtra to truly enjoy divine serenity and progressive peace. 

   A perusal of the Gathas will show that the Zarathushtrian religion is in fact, the Religion of Choice, and choice alone.  Zarathushtra chooses for himself “the very mentality of God, which is the most progressive.” (Song 3.6: Ys. 30.6).  While some religious leaders advocate force, he says: “We shall with the greatest thought provoking words, convince the barbarians to choose the right. (Song1.5: Ys. 28.5) 

   Many religions have their initiations with baptism, confession, profession or conversion.  The Good Religion has its initiate state: “I, with my appreciations and convictions, choose for myself – (fravarane) to be a worshipper of the Wise One and a Zarathushtrian.  I appreciate good thoughts, I appreciate good words, and I appreciate good deeds.  I appreciate the Good Religion of worshipping the Wise One, which overthrows yokes yet sheaths swords, teaches self-reliance, and is righteous.  Therefore, of the religions, those have been and shall be, this is the greatest, best, and most sublime.  It is divine and Zarathushtrian.  I do attribute all good to the Wise God.” (Ys. 12.8-9) 

   This choice of the Good Religion is in accordance with Zarathushtra’s advice.  It says: “Hear the best with your ears and ponder with a bright mind.  Then each man and woman, for his or her self selects either of the two (the “better” and the “bad” mentalities).  Awaken to this Doctrine of ours before the Great Event of Choice ushers in” (Song 3.2: Ys. 30.2) 

Zarathushtra’s Mission: 

      “Wise One, I am who venerates away inconsideration and evil mind from you; perverse-mind from the family; related wrong from the community; revile from the fellowship; and extreme evil counseling from the world-settlements.“ (Song 6.4 Ys. 33.4)  Zarathushtra’s foremost task is to purify every unit in the world.  From family, to the smallest, to the inhabited world, the largest; from the ills that plagues society.  Song 6 speaks about his universal mission.  He wants to guide humanity on the righteous path of the highest wisdom.  Having formed the nucleus of his Great Fellowship of his companions, he wants to go beyond this circle, to the settled people on the earth.  He prays for more strength and more enlightenment for his expanding mission.  To achieve his objectives he dedicates to his God, his life, mind, words, deeds, communion and the very power and endurance he was asking God to serve the divine cause. 

      Zarathushtra several times mentions four units of human society, viz. family, community, fellowship, and the world; but he never speaks of any particular race, tribe, class, category, profession, nationality, country or land.  He is not concerned with the artificial, political, economical, and social divisions that divide the world.  His mission is to fuse the units into a wise bond of universality. 

      His followers hail his coming, because “henceforth the Good Religion of worshipping the Wise One shall spread on the seven regions of the earth” (Farvardin Yasht 94).  Thousands of years later, we still hear Zarathushtrians pray:  “May we be co-merited with all the good people of the seven regions of the earth, and ultimately reach as wide as the earth is, as long as the rivers are, as high as the sun stands.” [Persian Paiman –e-Din and Parsi Gujarati Din-no-Kalmo] 

      This, of course means that the Good Religion was the first and foremost missionary religion.  However, the texts in Avesta show that, compared to many later missionary movements, it is a moderate one.  Zarathushtra addresses the wise only and it is his thought-provoking message that stimulates one to understand his words.  No blind following.  No dictating prescriptions. No aging traditions. 

      In order to make the people wise, it is Zarathushtra who started the first “literacy” movement to teach people to become wise first and then seek the truth with a bright, discerning mind.  His followers advise that one should first acquire wisdom, practice its virtues, and then teach others what they have learned so that they too practice and preach. (Haptanghaiti Song 1.6: Ys.35.6).  It was through this zeal that the Good Religion spread far and wide, and became the leading religion until the fall of the Sassanian Empire in the 7th century CE 

      Let us join the fellowship, Learn to discern and choose.  Practice and spread goodness.  Teach others to do the same.  All through wisdom, good thinking, righteousness and dedication to the divine cause.  

[Source: “Spenta” – The Zarathushtrian Assembly] 

ETERNAL WAYS: by Shahriar Shahriari 

A few years ago, I read a book called In Tune With the Infinite by Ralph Waldo Trine.  In it there was a poem that began like this:

                              I stay my haste I make delays

                                    For what avails this eager pace.

                              I stand amidst eternal ways

                                    And what is mine shall know my face. 

      For some reason over the last few days, these verses have been coming back to me.  As I was reflecting upon them, the words “eternal ways” acquired a special attraction.  At first glance, one may consider this to refer to destiny – a pre-determined fate that is eternally written on a star.  Yet deeper meditation reveals a different dimension of this destiny.  Eternal ways are not necessarily immutable dictates of fate.  The word “eternal” could also refer to a timeless quality – a quality that transcends time.  An eternal way is a way that is independent of time or circumstances.  It is a way that one could be, whether one is four years old or forty; a way that can be available in any country or clime; a way to be, with any individual or group.  An eternal way is what Abraham Maslow called a “B-Value” or “Being-Value”.  It is a way of being which automatically inspires us into action – a kind of action that is not eternal.  An action that is very much dependent of time and circumstances.  And is relevant and appropriate to both. 

      Back to the poem, I realized what Ralph Waldo Trine was saying was that perhaps what is written upon stars are our core values, our natural and divine ways of being.  And should we choose to – yes we have the choice regarding our fate – should we choose to stand amidst “eternal ways”, without haste and without forcing action, then what is ours – the actions that are naturally inspired by these eternal ways of being shall come to us and through us.  Perhaps this is the way of bringing the divine to the earth – by constantly standing amidst our eternal values, and unfolding our destiny, with unshakable faith in our fate.  



Zoroastrian scholar several years ago indicted that my view was of “late” Zoroastrianism, while it was based on the “developed” stage of Zoroastrian theology (200 BCE).  It was also based on a view that the Jews, during their Babylonian captivity preserved some of the lost knowledge (nasks).  After coming in contact with Zoroastrian priests --such knowledge was preserved in the system called Cabala.  

      Similar to the Bundahishin, Ahura Mazda (or Yahwe) “created” a cosmos of several levels, including the material world, out of its own substance.  These levels are called sephiroth (sphores)  -- various books, and websites can explain this knowledge in greater details for those interested. 

      What is important to understand is that Ahura Mazda’s subordinates do have a life/reality.  According to David Conway, in The Complete Magic Primer, it is best to treat all thought forms as if they are real in themselves.  Indeed, as many of them have been created by the pictorial imagination of whole racial and religious groups.  They can be said to have acquired a reality of their own. 

      The forces created by Ahura Mazda are given forms by the Zoroastrians of the past, such as Mithras who is clearly described in the Mihr Yasht. Those who read such description maintain the forms.  And through proper invocations and rituals (such as the Cabalistic mester rituals in Conway’s book), including Yashts and Niyashesh.  These beings can indeed aid us and Ahura Mazda’s just cause, leading towards a better world in the future. 

      It should be noted that the very alien levels of Ahriman also exist; such inhabitants are very hateful of human and other life.  Unfortunately certain deluded people think it is ok to have contacts with such “not-life”.  This delusion is definitely a part of the Druj!  It is very important to maintain a spiritually healthy household to keep such “negative entities” from infiltrating it, which they can do if “invited” via such things as music with “satanic” lyrics. 

      Though texts like the Bundahishin have poor science, for example the size of the stars, but it is useful in understanding the cosmology of our ancient spiritual ancestors based on their unaided observations, and perhaps in an imperfect way.  The situation as it exists in the spiritual battle, I do not agree that any animal or plant is a creation of Ahriman – this is dualism carried to an extreme, and can lead to killing of useful predators who hunt at night. 

      Hopefully, Zoroastrians will come to understand the spiritual battle against Ahriman’s human acolytes in greater detail so as to obviate any unfortunate eschatological consequences.  Zoroastrians are already enlisted in Ahura Mazda’s “Army of Light” fighting the spiritual “Dark”, and hopefully they will be as active as Ahura Mazda requires!  

One-line philosopher: 

“People who think they know every thing are a great annoyance to those of us who do.”

[George Wood] 

SIMILIARTY of WORSHIP: by Virasp Mehta 

About one hundred fifty years ago a pamphlet Zoroaster and Christ” by a Roman Catholic bishop of Bombay, in few succinct sentences mentioned similarities of the Zarathustrian and Christian religions: 

      Zoroaster restored not only the unity of God, but also the most ancient and characteristic Aryan form of divine service, THE WORSHIP OF FIRE, as the most suitable representative of God, corresponding to their high idea of God as Eternal Light….  A pure and undefiled flame is certainly the most sublime natural representation of Him who is in Himself Eternal Light.  

      A glance at the ritual of the Church shows, then, that the very same position which our Aryan ancestors, following the light of reason, assigned to fire and light in their divine worship in order to represent God’s divine majesty and His presence among His worshippers, is likewise and largely, given to the same convenient and delightful creature as symbol of God’s sublime splendor and living presence among His beloved children. 

      On this landing let us rest a while.  We have before us the sanctuary of the Parsi Fire-temple and the sanctuary of the Christian Church.  In both we see A PERPETUAL FLAME INDICATING THE PRESENCE OF GOD: there the omnipresence of God the Creator: here the omnipresence of the Redeemer. 

      I am unable to express in words the deep and vehement feelings which move my heart when I kneel in the sanctuary of my chapel and think of the Parsi Fire-temple a few yards off in which fire is burning like the flame in our sanctuary lamp.  Here is one of the similarities justly said to exist between the Parsi and Christian religions. [Source: The Message of Zoroaster Pages 81,82: Professor A.S.Wadia] 

      So fellow Zarathushtrians, let’s be like the good bishop who saw in the rising sacred flames the sublime truth---the living presence of the Creator.  And also every time we happen to gaze the sacred Fire, remember the words of great Tolstoy: “I SEE GOD ONLY THROUGH THE LIGHT IN THE FIRE”  


                        Fast from criticism, and feast on praise;

                        Fast from self-pity, and feast on joy;

                        Fast from ill temper, and feast on peace;

                        Fast from resentment, and feast on contentment,

                        Fast from jealousy, and feast on love;

                        Fast from pride, and feast on humility;

                        Fast from selfishness, and feast on service;

                        Fast from fear, and feast on faith.



[Rendered in English Verse] 


very child attending a school in Iran reads Golestan or “The Rose-Garden” of Sheikh Sa’di and every non-Iranian who has even an elementary knowledge of Farsi must have read some of the stories from this classic work on ethics.  It is in prose, but interspersed with fragmentary verses.  Here under are two verses rendered in English with a slight deviation from their strict literal meaning, but giving more forcefully their general sense. 

He Jests at Scars that Never Felt a Wound 

The healthy ones do not with fellow feelings turn to those in illness.

And hence, in all my pains, I weep for hearts that burn for me in stillness. 

To speak of snakes and how the human heels they sting is useless talking,

To those whose footfalls never suffered such a thing in all their walking. 

O friend, do not discourse upon my burning blain, with foe or stranger,

His sordid hand is full of gall and salty grain, my mortal danger. 

Let Bygones Be Bygones 

My days of joy have passed away, 

My mind in sorrow reels,

My life then felt its warmth in May,

Now chill November feels. 

As lion’s claws, were strong my grips,

But weaker gets their hold,

So like a lynx I smack my lips,

And lick the butter cold. 

A hag had dyed her filament

As black as pith and tar,

I cried in wild astonishment,

To catch her ears from far. 

“You brightly dyed your hair so black,

To capture youths devout,

But know you not your crooked back,

Your age has given out? 

[Source: “The Iran League Quarterly”: April 1959]  

MEHER JAMSHED PATEL AWARD – 2003 [Report]: by Thrity Spencer 


his award created by Informal Religious Meetings in 1989 perpetuates memory of the late Meher Jamshed Patel, one of its oldest coworkers, a trustee of its fund and a guiding light.  It’s an annual award to encourage children to develop their aptitude in various arts.  For this year it was a talent competition for school going children.  Actively supported by the Child Welfare Committee of the Karachi Zarthosti Banu Mandal, the competition was held at the Mandal’s hall on 16th August 2003.  

      Participants were divided into three categories: 1] Children up-to 8 years, 2] Children from 9 to 12 years, and 3] 13 years and above.  The mandatory provisions were that each participant must perform solo, in any talent, which should not exceed three minutes.  The over all-best performer would be the winner of the award.  Vying for the award were twenty-six enthusiastic children almost evenly divided in three groups.  Poetry recitation seemed to be the most popular talent performed by fifteen children.  There were seven dances mostly western style copies of popular tunes from TV.  One tiny tot dressed in a typical desi village girl charmed the audience with a dance reminiscent of a scene from an Indian movie. Two children from the first group sang songs and a girl entertained the audience with a magic show. 

      But the girl who stole the show was a ten-year-old Charlene Irani who entranced all with her mimicry, playing simultaneously the role of a boy and a girl, carrying out an amusing conversation.  She did this by making her left side look like a girl complete with dress, hairdo, makeup and all; and making her right side look like a boy, down to the smallest detail of a moustache and short hair.  Every time she spoke as a girl, her left side faced the audience, and each time the boy answered she subtly turned and displayed her right side.  Both the roles were amazingly performed with clarity and confidence, for a girl of such a young age.  And for that she was declared the Award Winner for the year 2003. 

 Prize Winners: 1] Up-to 8 years: 1st Prize Ruksheen Kaikhosrowzadah for Indian dance: 2nd Prize Nadir Bharucha for poetry recitation; and 3rd Prize Tie a) Anahita Katila & b) Charmene Irani Both for poetry recitation.

2] 9 to 11years: 1st Prize Delara Katila for prose recitation: 2nd Prize: Almitra Mavalwala For Western dance; and 3rd Prize Tie a) Deenish Bhesania for jokes, b) Farah Noshirwani for singing.

3] 12 years & over: 1st Prize Tushnamaiti Mistry for Indian dance; 2nd Prize Cyrus Irani for poetry recitation, and 3rd Prize Adil Bhesania for poetry recitation. Those who couldn’t make it but made the event a success were given participatory prizes. 

      My fellow judges Mahrukh Bhiladwala, Rubina Patel and I had a tough time deciding the winner.  But it was a delightfully entertaining morning that ended with everyone agreeing that it was a great way of building confidence and ‘stage grace’ among our talented children.  Fortunately we had Rubina Patel, Meher’s daughter, who gave away the prizes and said that her mother would have been ecstatic to see so many children putting in their talent and it was like her dream ‘come true’

Published for Informal Religious Meetings Trust Fund, Karachi by Virasp Mehta, 4235 Saint James Place, Wichita KS 67226:  E-Mail: