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Volume IV No.5: Mah Amardad, Fasal Sal 1373. July-August 2004



Ustâ ahmâi yahmâi ustâ kahmâi-chiţ ,         “Salvation’s hail be his, his whosoe’er he may be! 

Vasé-khshayās Mazdâo dâyât Ahurô;          May the All-ruling send it, He supreme o’er strife!

Utayûiti tevishim gaţ tôi vasemi,          Long lasting strength be ours; of Thee we ask it;

Ashem deredyâi taţ môi dâo Âramaitê,         For the upholding Right, This holy zeal vouchsafe us:

Râyô Ashis Vańhêus gaêm Manańhô.          Rich power, blest rewards, the good Mind’s life.

Aţ hvô vańhêus vahyô nâ aibi-jamyât,         Yes, the Greatest Good may he gain surer,

Yê nâo erezûs savańhô pathô sishôiţ -         Who hath for us straight paths of grace explored,

Ahyâ ańhêus astvatô manańhas –cha,         Of this life bodily the use, of that the mental,

Haithyėńg â –stis yêng â-shaéti Ahurô,         In the eternal realm where Ahura dwells

Aredrô Thwâvās huzéntushe spentô, Mazdâ!         Like Thee, noble and august, O Mazda Lord!” 

[Gatha Ushtavaiti 1.1,3: Yasna 43.1, 3: Translation by L.H. Mills] 

In this Issue:

      2 PATÊT OR THE CONFESSION OF SINS By Jamshed M. Unvala, M.A. PH.D. 


      7 PARSIS OF KURRACHEE [Chapter 5:THE PORT DEVELOPS] By Dorab J. Patel 

      9 EXPLANTION OF SRĀOSH BĀJ By Framroz Rustomjee 

         10 THE REAL STORY OF FREDDIE MERCURY By Marium Ahundova 



“There is nothing such as problem-free life.  Don’t expect one” [Benjamin Carson] 


By Jamshed M. Unvala, M.A., Ph. D. 


HE Vendidad, the religious law-code of the ancient Zoroastrians, treats of, besides many other subjects, the description of sins and their atonement.  The sins mentioned in the Vendidad are mental, moral and physical, i.e. the sins against the morals taught by the Vendidad and against the rules of hygiene prescribed in it.  Some of these sins are said to be inexpiable, somewhat like sins deserving of capital punishment, while others are expiable, if the sinner undergoes the punishment prescribed by the religious law, which is in some cases flogging, whereas in others hard labor, which consists in killing a certain number of noxious creatures, the Ahremanic broods.  That a simple recitation of a confession of sins gave the sinner absolution from sins was certainly not believed in the time of the Avesta.    

      If there is at all something approaching a confession of sins in the Avesta, it is the Frastûyê prayer (Yasna 12, 1-6 according to the edition of Spiegel).  A Zoroastrian gives his promise in this prayer to abstain henceforth from all evil thoughts, evil words and evil deeds and stick to all good thoughts, good words and good deeds.  It is a sort of a negative confession of sins.  It is therefore that this Frastûyê prayer is called in the editions of the Khordeh Avesta the Patê-i-Avestâ, and is incorporated in the Patêt-i-Pashêmâni at its end, although its Pazand version with short commentaries forms its opening section. 

      If we take into consideration the spirit of the Vendidad, it seems that there existed in those old times a confession before priestly judges for every sin committed by a Zoroastrian.  Whether this confession was voluntary or forced we cannot ascertain.  We have unfortunately no data to follow the history of the confession of sins from the time of Vendidad to that of the Patēt, i.e. to the time of Adarbâd Mârespand, who flourished in the time of Shahpur II (309-379 A.D.).  Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity flourished in the Persian Empire of the Sassanians, although the Christians had to undergo sporadic outbursts of religious fanaticism of some Zoroastrian monarchs.  It is well known that Buddhism has got a negative confession of sins, whereas the Christians have got a positive one. 

      It is also well known that these three religions influenced the mind of the Zoroastrans of the Sassanian times so much that some of them embraced these religions.  We learn this from the Sogdian texts pertaining to Buddhism, from the Pahlavi Dênkart and Shikand Gumânik Vijâr and from the Syriac acts of Persian martyrs for Christianity.  But some of these new converts, it seems recanted their beliefs in these religions and wanted to embrace the Zoroastrian faith once more. 

      It is for them that most probably Âdarbâd Mârespand composed the Patêt as most of the sins enumerated in it can only be committed by a non-Zoroastrian.  It is most probable that the idea underlying the Patêt is Christian, the idea of John the Baptist, which was adopted by Christ later on, viz. be penitent for your sins and receive the holy baptism, which will purify you from all your former sins.  Corresponding to the baptism the Zoroastrians have the Barashnum, the religious purification, at the commencement of which a Patêt is always recited. 

      Again the Christian church authorizes duly appointed priests to hear the individual confession of sins to give absolution from them, a custom still followed by the Catholics.  That during the Sassanian times this individual confession was also in vogue may be gathered from the Patêt. The sinner says therein that he confesses his sins before the Dastûr, i.e. the high priest or before his representative in the invisible presence of Ahura Mazda and the Yazatas, especially Mihr, Sarosh and Rashna, and in the visible presence of the Holy Fire, Hôm and Barsom  

      The Rivâyt of Dârâb Hormazdyâr, edited by Ervad Maneckji Rustamji Unvala, Bombay 1922, Vol. I, pp. 34-35, enjoined an individual confession of sins before the Dastûr or his representative.  It says that the 21st day Râm of the 7th month Mihr is very appropriate and efficacious for the Patêt (p.38).  Some of the devout Parsis recite a Patêt daily after their obligatory prayers.  But the custom of reciting it in the presence of a Dastûr personally or by a proxy (cf. the Patêt para 11 and Rivâyat pp. 36-37) on special occasions must have been wholly discontinued very early, as except in the Rivâyats of the latter half of the 16th and the first one of the 17th century we never find it mentioned anywhere else.  If a proxy recites the Patêt, the Rivâyat enjoins every Zoroastrian to recite daily at least these words: “I regret and repent for every sinful thought that I have entertained, for every sinful word that I have spoken and for every sinful deed that I have done.” (p 36) 

      This custom of the confession of sins by proxy has most probably created the custom of reciting the Patêt for the dead in the belief that it should give him absolution from any sins he had not confessed before his death and should secure for his soul a joyful place in the other world (cf. Rivâyat, pp. 36-37).  It is a custom among the Parsis of India to recite the Patêt or at least an Ashem Vohû in the ear of the dead, immediately the life has passed away from his body (cf. Rivâyat, pp.34-35).  Still I have heard instances in which the dying person recited slowly the whole Patêt in a moribund and unearthly voice, after which he collapsed entirely and gave up his soul to the Almighty.  But as very often his nearest relatives pester him with the questions about his last will especially about the name of the person he wishes to adopt if he is without a male issue, that could he gather up even his failing strength to recite the Patê he is not given time to do it.  Then, after the dead is washed and laid on the ground specially prepared in a room in the house, a priest recites the obligatory prayers for the day (Gâh) and recites a Patêt, in which at the end of the 12th section he mentions the name of the deceased thrice.  Thereupon if he has time enough he recites other prayers.  Thus, till the body is removed to the tower of silence, the priest recites Patêt in each Gâh.        

      The relatives and friends of the deceased may also recite the Patêt for him if they like.  After the body is removed from the house, till the periods of nine days during the first seven months and of forty days during the remaining five months of the Zoroastrian calendar are over, priests, friends and relatives of the deceased recite a Patêt for him five times every day.  Then every time the Afrîngân ceremony is performed for him, but especially on the 4th, 10th, 30th and 365th day after his death, the officiating priest recites a Patêt in which his name is mentioned.  But some Parsis of advanced views do not see the necessity of doing so after the dead has crossed the Bridge of Selection (Chinvad Puhl) on the dawn of the fourth day after death, because he reaches the place allotted to him by the spiritual judges Mihr, Sarosh and Rashna, according to the deeds performed by him in this world. 

      As regards the formulary of the confession of sins, the Parsis have three Patêts, whereas the Zoroastrians of Persia have two.  Some Parsis also use these latter Patêts.  These five Patêts are called in the prayer books Patêt-i-Avestâ, Patêt-i-Pashêmâni (the Patêt composed by Adarbâd Mârespand), Patêt-i-Ravâní, Patêt-i-Irâní, and Patêt-i-Ravâní-i-Irâni.  As stated above, Spiegel’s Yasna XII 1.6 is the Patêt-i-Avestâ; the Patêt-i-Ravâni is the same as the Patêt-Pashêmâni, but it is interspersed with endless repetitions of the statement that it is recited by another who intercedes before God for all the sins committed by the deceased, whose name is mentioned therein; the Patêt-i-Irâni is a modern Persian version of the Pazend Patêt-i-Pashêmâni with elaborate commentaries. Lastly the Patêt-i-Irâni-i-Ravâni is the same as Patêt-i-Irâni interspersed with the repetitions of the statement as above.   

      As these last two Patêts are very long, some Parsis have them recited for the dead in the belief that they are the most efficacious because of their length.  They are in use mostly among the Persian Zoroastrians and among the Kadimi section of the Parsis. ■ 

[Source: “RĀHNUMA” Karachi 1926-27] 




Ali A. Jafarey



HE Gathic term ratu is derived from eret, meaning “to do right, to act properly.”  It means the righteous leader who guides people with his constructive plans and programs, to peace, prosperity, happiness, and bliss.  The term has been used for six times in the Gathas.  These instances describe the position and the function of a ratu “The leader of the living world…offers civilization, nourishment, and strength,” and “acts with righteousness”. (Song: 2.2,2,6).  “According to the Primal Principles of Life, the leader with his actions, does full justice to the wrongful and to the righteous, as well as to the person whose falsity is combined with his probity.” (6.1). A leader is a life-healer who inspires one “through good mind” and protects [him or her] with[in] the divine dominion.” (9.16).  A “true leader of the lawful is a humble intellectual” and as a settler, strengthens the world with righteousness by his proper actions (16.5).  He is chosen by a world groaning under “fury, rapine, outrage, and aggression” to render it rehabilitated and led to “true civilization.” (Song 2)  

      To sum up the Gathic concept of a leader (ratu), he or she is a humble, yet an inspiring intellectual who justly leads the righteous and the unrighteous as well as the intermediates to promote the living world to peace and prosperity, and ultimately to wholeness and immortality. 

      Zarathushtra, is the first person who comes to mankind “as the leader of the [righteous and unrighteous] parties so that all live in accordance with righteousness.” (4.5).  And as already said in “Yatha Ahu Vairyo”, “he is the chosen lord (ahu) and leader (ratu) and one who rehabilitates (vastar) of the living world –all three in one person, a unique personality. 

      In a eulogy in honor of Zarathushtra in the Farvardin Yasht, (Yt.13, 92) it is poetically said that the very Primal Principals of Life he expounded in his songs wished him to be the lord and leader (Yt. 13.92).  Other parts of the Avesta acknowledge Zarathushtra as the “first and foremost lord and leader of the material world, particularly human beings, because it was he who conveyed, “the entire thought-provoking message, the righteous teaching” to humanity (Yt.13.41; 90-92, 152; Ys.70.1; Vsp. 2.4: 11.21; 16.3).  In fact, “Zarathushtra is the lord and leader” of all the people whom “Ahura Mazda knows better for their veneration done in accordance with righteousness” (Vsp. 16.3).     

      The later Avesta forgets that the leader is to be “chosen” by the people and considers his leadership as an appointment by God (Yt. 5.89; 8.44).  It is a slight deviation from the Gathic concept of free will and choice.  Zarathushtra’s son Urvatad-nara is casually mentioned as leader. (Vd.2.43). 

      After Zarathushtra, Avestan and Pahlavi records do no state that any person was chosen as the Lord (ahu).  Perhaps, with the world well on its path of righteousness and the causes of evil and disorder expounded, there was no need to have one.  As a chosen Ahu, for Zarathushtra had shown the way to eliminate the evil. 

      However, the Avesta shows that the Gathic tradition of choosing the leader was kept alive for some time and that, for practical reasons, the office was given five grades:  The ratu of the house, ratu of the settlement, ratu of the district, ratu of the country, and the ratu of the world.  Thus, it covered all the basic units of the Zarathushtrian assembly.  The ratu was the most competent and learned of the respective unit.  The poet warranted a love for learning, practicing and teaching religious knowledge at all levels of the society. (Ys. 19)   

      Still later, we find that Athravan, the title of the priests of pre-Zarathushtrian cult superseded the title ratu. This was the second deviation.  It gave the now thriving community its professional priests.  They introduced their own categories of eight officiants. Now ratu was generalized to mean a priest (Nr. 82-83). 

      The Pahlavi rendering simply uses rad, the Middle Persian form of the term, and the contexts in which it has been used, shows it means “leader, chief”.  In its description, it goes further than the Avesta in assigning “leadership” of man, woman, animals, plants and certain geological subjects.  However, some Pahlavi writings sometimes use the term of dastur and herbad to explain the position in the Zoroastrian religious circle. The two are conveniently translated as “master” and “judge” 

      The subtle meaning and the Gathic concept of the “chosen” ratu are lost.  It is not strange that we find that the Āthravan composer of the Meher Yasht completely ignores Zarathushtra and makes Ahura Mazda appoint Mithra, the old god of pastoral contract, as the “lord and the leader of the material world, particularly men!” (Yt.10.92).  Perhaps this explains the later recession of ratu into a priestly officer who applies penalties to “contract-breakers” (Mithra-druj, false-unto-Mithra) and wrongdoers and leads the corpse-bearers to the funerary destination. (Vd.5.25, 7.71, 8.11).  It is because of this role as a penalizing officer that some scholars feel more convinced that it stands for a “judge” in the Avesta.  Whatever the semantics, the changes in the meaning of the word and the functions of the position, one finds less and less of ratu, and more and more of the well-installed priests as Āthrvan, magopat, mobed, dastavar, all of which lie outside the Gathic period and therefore, outside this essay.  

      The Zarathushtrian Assembly has in its Gathic restoration move, restored the term and the post, and its elected qualified officiants whether men or women are known as ratu in precisely the Gathic term. ■    

Ushta-nō zātō Āthrava, yō Spitāmō Zarathushtrō. 

Fortunate are we that the Teacher was born, 

Spitama Zarathushtra. 

[Yasht xiii. 94] 



NAPIER’S first step was to carry out survey of the port and make plans for its development. However, the East India Company did not appear to have such intentions and interest.  In 1847 differences developed between Napier and the Company to the extent that Napier had to resign and on recommendation of the Governor General Lord Harding, Sind was merged into Bombay Presidency.  The post of the Governor was abolished and the highest office in Sind was the post of commissioner.  As a result of which Sind in general and Karachi in particular was shamefully neglected and very little support was given for development.  Karachi was not only the nearest port in India to the mother country; it was also the most important one on the western coast.  Construction of the mole bearing the name of Napier was the only step taken towards advancement of the harbor so far.  Before it was made, landing or leaving was neither a pleasant nor a dignified undertaking.  All had to undergo the operation of being carried pickaback by the natives across the mud flats to and from the boats. 

      Robert Pringle as the first commissioner, until 1850, succeeded Charles Napier.  It was fortunate for Karachi that Pringle was succeeded by a man of foresight, will and energy, one who despite handicaps created at Bombay, fought and strived for progress and development of Karachi.  This was none other than thirty-five year old Sir Bartle Frere.  He was commissioner from 1851 to 1859.  For one year 1856-1857 John Jacob officiated.  The energy displayed by Frere was unquestionable, but he did not possess the power of diverging from the beaten track that was marked out by the Public Works Department of Bombay, and his efforts were frequently hampered. The whole history of Karachi and its harbor is one of indecisions and fickleness of purpose.  All high officials in Bombay were constantly at loggerheads and upsetting one other’s plans.  

      Frere’s first major step was to form a Municipal Commission with a managing committee comprising of Capt. Preedy, the magistrate, Mr. John McLeod, Naomal Hotchand, Capt. Marston, the police chief and some leading citizens of Karachi.  The Board of Conservancy formed by Napier was merged into the commission. The population of Karachi, at that time was estimated at 16,700. 

      From Frere’s letter of 1851 to the Government in Bombay it appears that there were practically no roads in Sind and he asked for funds to build some.  On receiving no response he had 126 miles of roads built at a cost of Rs.8,000/- from local resources.  Next year he had another 207 miles of roads built at a cost of Rs.28,000/-. The roads were made of crushed stones and pressed with steamrollers running over sand and gravel, but were not carpeted with coal tar.  

Frere also started postal system in Sind.  He appointed a Post Master and issued the first postage stamp of India in 1851.  The stamp had Sinde District Dawk written in three colors. It was withdraw from circulation in 1854. The post department was soon declared a central issue and the administration of Sind Post Office was handed over to the Post Master General in Bombay.  Frere also started the practice of holding trade fairs in 1851. 

Dosabhai Ghadyali who came to Karachi in1850 was the first to introduce silk trade in Karachi.  Hormasji Pestonji Shroff who migrated in 1852 started dubash business in Karachi.  In the same year arrived Edulji Bejonji Kandawala, the ancestor of Kandawalla automobile traders.  He was nine years old when he came with his uncle. 

      Frere was very enthusiastic about development of the harbor, but was always discouraged by the Government of Bombay   In 1853 an 800 ton vessel “Duke of Argyll” from England safely entered the harbor.  The voyage of this vessel was very important and the captain of Argyll reported that the port was safe and there was space for twenty more vessels of 800 tons to anchor.  On the strength of this report Frere requested for pilots from Bombay.  The first Pilot Lt. Leeds guided a 626-ton vessel “Rubicon” into the harbor on 14th August 1853.  

      One must remember that all the developments in Karachi had direct beneficial results for the Parsi community.  Development would mean more contracts for supplies, more jobs and more opportunities for prosperity.  On 7th August 1853 Karachi had an extraordinary heavy rains of nearly 11” in one day.  On its establishment the Municipality was given jurisdiction over 72 sq. miles of land and the entire camp area was under the Cantonment Board.  As old town had become too congested the Municipality proceeded to develop the surrounding areas.  On the west side fishermen and port workers were allowed to build their huts, where ditches were filled.  This way ‘Machi Mianee’ and ‘Khadda’ areas came into being  

      Next three years saw the arrival of many notable Parsis.  Byramji Pirojshah Minwalla was seven years old when he came with his brother Dinshah (mentioned earlier).  Byramji later prospered well and developed great influence and respect.  He was a very famous arbitrator and was much sought after.  It is said that he could capture any live snake with bare hands and shake it to death and knew the art of curing snake snakebites. Unfortunately he did not teach that art to any body.  Besides other businesses he owned a number of fishing vessels.  Jamshedji Rustamji Ghadyali came as the first Parsi watchmaker.  Afterwards he changed his vocation and opened up a liquor shop; probably a case of more drinkers and less watch owners!  In the late eighties he donated Rs.2,300/- to have a water line procured for the Dokhma garden. 

            Byramji Edulji began his career as a purchase officer in the police force and then became Police Collector.  He too changed his vocation and started contracting for commissariat.  Ultimately he established a bar and a wine and general store, which ran successfully for many generations.  Since he had been a collector he adopted the surname ‘Collector’ which is still carried on by his family. ■

[To be continued] 


By Framroz Rustomjee 


HIS prayer is taught to every child, by heart, before investing the child with a Sudrēh and Kusti.  This is a prayer in which God’s Intuition and Inspiration to man is invoked with reverence and praise.  It is difficult to understand this valuable prayer to Srāosh (Divine Intuition) without an elementary knowledge of the working of the Divine Essence, Fravashi, which a man possesses.   

      Man’s soul has the freedom of choice to be good or to be base, but the Divine Essence –Fravashi working in man is wholly good and pure.  When the soul of man invokes the assistance and caries out the behests of his indwelling Fravashi, then every act of his tends towards goodness.  When the soul does not elect to invoke the Fravashi, then the individual often deviates from the path of virtue, Asha, and man comes to grief and pain and distress.  

      Srāosh is the Voice of God, which man hears in the silence of the mind.  Man hears that Voice not through his outward ears, but only intuitively.  To understand the nature of Srāosh various words are used to express its power, purpose and glory.   

      Srāosh being Divine, in essence is wholly pure and righteous, most powerful, embodied with Divine Commandments and steeped in religious lore.  Srāosh is referred to as being helpful to ward off all evils and dangers besetting man.  Srāosh is described as the ‘leader of and guide to all the creations of God’. 

      The devotee has to be prepared to invoke Srāosh.  As the worshipper of Mazda and follower of Zarathushtra, he solemnly declares that he would in thoughts, words and deeds, avoid all sins and would repent for all sins done.  He elects to fight against evil, through the teachings of Ahurā.   

      As Srāosh is ever present to help the creations of God, his aid is invoked at all times of the day in all the five Gāhs from sunrise to midnight. 

      The prayer is full of powerful ideas, on the substantial aid which Srāosh, Divine Intuition does render to mankind, when invoked by any one conscientiously.  The four prayers, which follow, are usually prayed after the prayer to Srāosh, and also after every other long Nyāēsh or Yasht in the Avestā.   

      In these prayers, a devotee implores Ahurā Mazdā to grant him Divine splendor, glory, physical health, strength and well-being, contentment, wise progeny, long life for the spread of righteousness, victory over evil, and ultimate reward for all good deeds done  

      These prayers, which are well chosen extracts from the Avestā and Pāzend writings, help a devotee to understand the limit of good things and blessings, he could beseech Ahurā Mazdā to grant him. ■ 



Mariam Ahundova 


HE great rock-musician Freddie Mercury (born Faroukh Bulsara) is considered to be Zoroastrian only by birth.  Having been brought in the Zoroastrian family, Freddie is supposed to have broken with his ancestors’ religion in his further life and to have become an atheist. 

      This disillusion, as well as all other ridiculous myths about Freddie Mercury is actively spreading with the help of the British media and the Queen Official Fan Club.  Unfortunately many Zartoshti have believed it too.  Freddie’s creative work is not still accepted as a part of Zoroastrian cultural heritage, and he is considered to be the apostate from Parsis’ faith and tradition. 

      The book entitled The Real Story of Freddie Mercury written by Mariam Ahundova, an author from Russia destroys many artificial stereotypes and prejudices, created around this great person and the rock-group Queen as well as the opinion about the entertaining nature of his works.  The sixth chapter of this book is totally dedicated to the analysis of religious motives in Queen’s songs.  The second chapter deals with falsification and direct concealment of the facts, connected with the great musician’s childhood.  According to the author’s opinion, the aim of this lie is to conceal the influence of the Zoroastrian environment upon the formation of Freddie’s personality, to describe his child hood as an “unimportant” episode of his life, that didn’t seriously, influenced his further development. The first chapter deals with the influence of the Zoroastrian environment upon Freddie Mercury.  

      According to the author’s opinion, Freddie Mercury’s private and public life answers the description of a righteous Zoroastrian.  He was a kind, generous, responsive, merciful, and a vivid person.  Being a serene inspired personality, he brought the light of his religion and his soul into the music.  Freddie Mercury’s creative work is still not understood because of ignorance of Zoroastrian researchers.  But still the song ‘My Fairy King’ from the Queen’s first album narrates of Achrimum’s description of the world.  The ritual bracelet, that Freddie used to wear on stage, symbolized the defeater of Daevas and the Defender of the Zoroastrian religion.  His concert clothing also symbolized the Zoroastrian religion.  White color, his favorite one, is the Zoroastrian ritual color.  The red clothes with an emblem of panther are the ancient symbol of the Persian warrior, who fights against the evil and defends people.  We can see Freddie’s Zoroastrian ritual gestures while performing on stage or in videos, but the real meaning of such gestures is not clear to uninitiated observers.  

      The symbol of Daena is used in ‘Breakthue’ video, the symbol of Faravahr –in ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’ video, the symbol of the Holy Fire – in ‘Made in Heaven’ video.  One of the episodes in ‘Radio Ga Ga’ video reminds of the Zoroastrian cathedral.  Even Queen’s crest has the picture of Symurg.  You can find this and much more, if you read the unabridged version of the book. ■     

    “People are often unreasonable illogical and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.”

[Mother Teresa]



Cyrus P. Mehta



N 1967, the Parsi Zoroastrian Association of Calcutta produced the voluminous work THE HYMNS OF ATHARVAN ZARATHUSHTRA by the outstanding Bengali scholar Jatindra Mohan Chatterji, M.A.  The book contained the following generous message from Dr. Servapali Radhakrishna, the then President of India. 

      “I am happy to learn that the Parsi Zoroastrian Association of Calcutta is shortly publishing a treatise “Hymns of Atharvan Zarathushtra”, comprising 35 years of research work on the Avesta by Shri Jatindra Mohan Chatterji.  I am sure the publication will prove a valuable contribution towards the study of Avesta in the light of Vedic literature and I send my best wishes for its success.” 

      A thousand copies of the book were printed but soon they ran out of stock; it was not possible to produce a second edition of the book.  However, it was felt that there was a popular demand for such books so the introduction of the book was produced as a separate volume under the title ATHARVAN ZARATHUSHTRA – THE FOREMOST PROPHET 

      Good books on Zoroastrianism are few and are produced in a limited number.  When first published they received good publicity but after a few years one hardly hears about them.  The purpose of this article is: 

      (Note: - I have added suitable headings, two stories and my own observations.  Everything else quoted from the author’s book is given in parentheses, unless stated otherwise.) 

      Simplicity and Rejection of Unnecessary Ceremonials 

      [“Zarathushtra asked people to pay more attention to the end than the means.  This is the meaning of his condemnation of ceremonials (Yasna 30.6) and acclamation of love (Yasna 32.1)”] 


      [Of them two, the Deva-worshippers do not see aright as they proceed to worship by way of deification (attribution of divinity to insignificant things). Because they choose the narrowest mentality, they glide to infatuation (foolish passions), which is calculated to deflect the life of the mortals.”] 

      YASNA 30.6 - COMMENTS 

      [“Bhagwan Zarathushtra here lays down the fundamental principle of his religion, explaining as to why he differs from Deva-Yasna.  The Deva Yasnis pay more attention to non-essentials matters, making a fetish of every minor rite.  They idolize the medium and pay to rituals the devotion that is due to God.  Those who pay more attention to little things miss the greatest things in life.  The protest of Bhagwan Zarathushtra is echoed in the  ‘Mahabharata’ –‘Real religion is killed by too many rites’ (Santi Parva 268.21).  Here we have the larger problem of Dogmatism vs. Rationalism, the necessity of distinguishing between the Essential and the Non-essential, between the chaff and the corn. Further we are asked not to consider any ceremonial as indispensable for the worship of Mazda, i.e. not to make an idol of any ceremonial.  Mazda alone and nothing else is our concern. In words of Jalal, ‘How long will you go on dallying with the shape of the jug?  Leave the jug alone, seek water’ (Masnavi 2.1021).  It is not that Deva-Yasni had got no value at all.  But ‘the good is the enemy of the best’ and, if we choose the good in preference to the better we can never reach the highest goal.  This is at least stagnation, if not the beginning of a downward march.  So Jalal advises us not to be satisfied with good but to adopt the better procedure. (Masnavi 2.2792)”] 

      STORY NO. 1  

      An Italian couple was getting married.  They made an arrangement with the parish priest to have a small reception on the parish courtyard outside the church.  But on the day of the marriage it rained heavily and it was impossible to hold the reception outside.  So they asked the priest, “Would it be alright if we had the celebration in the church?”  The priest naturally seemed reluctant to give his permission to such a request.  But the couple said, “Father, we will eat a little cake, sing a little song, drink a little wine and then go home.”  So the Father was persuaded and agreed.  But being good, life-loving Italians they drank a little wine, sang a little song, then drank a little more wine and sang some songs.  Within half an hour there was a great celebration going on in the church and everybody was having a good time, full of fun and frolic.  The Father was upset about all the noise the wedding party was making.  In came the assistant pastor, who looked at the agitated face of the Father and said, “I see you are quite tense and upset.”  The Father blurted out, “Of course, I am tense and upset.  Listen to all the noise they are making and that too in the House of God.”  The assistant pastor said, “Well, Father they had no place to go for their celebration, “ to which the Father replied, “I know that! But do they have to make all that racket?’  

      “Well, we must not forget Father, that Jesus himself was once present at a wedding!” In answer the Father replied, “I know Christ was present at a wedding banquet!  But they didn’t have the Blessed Sacrament there!!!”  Sacrament is defined as a religious rite variously regarded as a channel or as a sign of grace amongst Roman Catholics e.g. at Baptism and the Lord ‘s Supper especially the bread and wine etc. (This story has been taken from the book AWARENESS by Anthony de Mello, a Member of Jesuit Province of Bombay).  Commenting on the story, the author writes: - “You know there are times like that when the Blessed Sacrament becomes more important than Jesus Christ, when worship becomes more important than love, when the church becomes more important than life, when God becomes more important than the neighbor.  And so it goes on.  That’s the danger” 

*  *  *  * 

      So we could all benefit from the guidance given in Yasna 30.6 viz. Pay more attention to important things and differentiate between the essential and non-essential 


      Turning our attention to Love for Mazda as taught by Zarathushtra, Chatterji translates Yasna 31.1 and comments it as follows: 

      [“Him the Khaetu (Vaishya) worships, and Him the Varejna (Kshatriya) along with the Aryamna (Brahmin) worship.  In my mind there is the love of Mazda (and not mere formal compliance).  I have come as your messenger.  I would chastise them that would deny you”] 

      [“The cult of love is not the good fortune of every religion.  It is preeminently the way of the Zoroastrians. Poet Hafiz wrote, ‘This is the wine of the Maghas and can be sipped only in the company of Maghas.’  Yasna 32.1 lays down the root principle of Bhakti Yoga and declares, for the first time in the world, the distinction between formal worship and worship by love, which the Vaishnavas in India and Sufis in Iran subsequently developed so exclusively.  Sufism enjoins the intoxicating love of God, teaches the devotee to forget himself entirely, and live only for and in Mazda.’] 


      [“Zarathushtra clearly declared that no one was to be excluded from the worship of Mazda.  It means little whether a man is an Aryamna, a Varejena or a Khaetu, even non –Aryans were not to be excluded from taking part in the worship of Mazda.”] 


      [“He who is most beneficent to the pious, be he Khaetu (Vaishya), or an Aryama (Brahmin), O Ahura, or a servant of the world –verily he belongs to Rectitude and serves to uphold conscience.”] 

      [“Zarathushtra lays down here another fundamental principle of his religion, viz: that caste distinctions counts for nothing and that the only thing that really counts is whether the man is promoter of Rectitude.  Mahabharata catches the idea and says, “All of us are equally subject to desire, anger, fear, greed, grief, anxiety, hunger and fatigue.  What is the good of division into different castes?”]  

      YASNA 46.12 - TRANSLATION  

      [“As soon as Rectitude grows in the rite-less sons and grandsons of Frayana, the Turanian, the sooner do their realms develop by the power of Faith and forthwith Conscience accosts them and Ahura Mazda (Himself) teaches them to ‘delight’.”]  

      [“Mazda is not God of any particular tribe.  The doors of Mazda-Yasna are not closed to the foreigners forever.  As soon as one of them becomes fit he is (like Frayana) to be included in the fold.  Non-proselytism is the denial of the brotherhood of man. He who discourages the idea sets too much importance on the supposed superiority of his race. There is no doubt that Atharvan Zarathushtra desired his gospel to be spread throughout the whole world. Non-proselytism means rejection of his precept. The Persians, out of their race-arrogance, rejected the salutary maxim of the universal Prophet Zarathushtra. As a consequence they dwindled in number and lost the battle of life.  The Arabs acted on the advice of Zarathushtra and Islam has spread in every country.  It is time for the Parsis to consider whether they should not revise their ways (as had been recommended by Dr. Dhalla)”]  

      Chatterji, in his comments on Yasna 46.12, further informs us that: 

      Based on the above comments of Chatterji, it could be said that the followers of Sufism and Kabir are as much Zoroastrians as Parsis. The fact that they do not wear Sudreh-Kusti is of little consequence. 


      When we went to school, to learn the 3R’s was of great importance.  In life, learning of the 3A’s is of utmost importance.  The latter are acceptance, adjustment and achievement.  Over a period of more than 100 years, the Parsi community has been given the true knowledge of what Zoroastrian religion is.  A section within the community still does not want to acquire this knowledge and refuses to make or allow some adjustment in the communal structure.  As such the whole community has failed to achieve a common platform of unity in religious and communal matters.  Many years ago, the Late Dastur Khurshed S. Dabu in his book, MESSAGE OF ZARATHUSHTRA wrote: “…an average Parsi would rather remain illogical rather than break with the tradition.” 

      All over the world Parsis are still discussing the questions of inter-marriages, conversion of non-Zoroastrian spouses and their children without coming to any sensible conclusions, mainly because of the illogical thinking of the so called average Parsi.  So let us heed to the following wise words of the Late Dastur Dr. M.N. Dhalla: “All men and all women are drops of water from the one and the same sea of life.  Let us strengthen this bond of unity between people and people.  Let us love all as we love ourselves” (From: ‘Homage Unto Ahura Mazda’) 

      STORY NO. 2 

      There is a story about King Akbar of the Mogul Dynasty (who ascended the throne of Delhi in 1556 A.D.) and his Minister, Birbal, a very wise and witty man. One day the King asked him, “Who is greater, me or God?”  Birbal, without hesitation replied, “You are, Your Majesty.”  Though the King was flattered by his reply, he asked, “How can that be?’ Birbal replied, “O, Your Majesty, if you do not wish to accept someone, you can banish him from your kingdom very easily.  But how can God banish anyone from his kingdom? Where can he send him?” 

      The moral of the story is that, if a religion excludes anyone from joining it, then it is not the religion of God who is All Pervasive.  So whom can God reject?  Neither did Prophet Zarathushtra as confirmed in the last sentence of Din-no-Kalmo prayer: 

Din dinē Zarthost dinē Ahura Mazdā dādēh Zarthost Ashāonē 

A religion, which is the religion of Zarathushtra (and), which is the religion of Ahura Mazda given to Holy and Righteous Zarathushtra (for spreading it among mankind).

[Translation by Framroz Rustomjee] 

      It would therefore not be unreasonable to appeal to the community that the time has now come to do away with some of its bigoted and exclusive, narrow-minded thinking and behavior.  Let it not blindly believe and cling to the dogmas of the past. The community now lives all over the world in contact with different nationalities and cultures. Each generation has to evaluate its outward mode of life without fearing loss of its so-called identity.  The only identity that Zoroastrian religion enjoins us is that of being a righteous person, and so long as we practice and promote it, we are true followers of Prophet Zarathushtra.  That is what the early day followers of the prophet did; they went to foreign countries to promote righteousness.  Let us practice “Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds.”  That is all any Zoroastrian or human being is required to do.  That way lays the progressive betterment of an individual or a community or a nation leading to the building of a Perfect World. ■  

“Zoroastrianism has vast scope for individual thinking. 

It is not rigid but flexible.  There is nothing that must be adhered to. 

The changing pattern of life demands that religion be reexamined now and then 

for the religion is the way life is to be lived” 



By Bob Layne 


URING these days of hatred, terror, war and death, there must be many prayers being offered to God.  Most religious people must be begging God to prosper their cause, ensure their victory and protect their warriors.  Whether Christian, Muslims or Jews, God is surely hearing many prayers from His faithful. 

      I have been wondering, however, even the midst of all the prayers whether God might be asking us: 

      “Why do you repeatedly ask me to do for you what you steadfastly refuse to do for yourself?  Why do you call on me to protect your young men and women when it is you who send them into death’s door?  Why do you want me to bring peace, when it is you who invade without warrant, who attack without warning, who escalate murder in vengeance, who pursue justice through terror and security through conquest?” 

      “You can have the peace you seek when you stop the war I abhor, when you ensure justice for all, when you spend your resources and energy for life rather than for death.  You can do these things.  Why do you assault me with weeping and wailing to do the things you can do yourselves? 

      “You cry, “Thy will be done!”  But it is your will you do.  Your hypocrisy is an affront!  Your reverence is a sham!  Your holiness is a show!” 

      Yet we must continue to pray.  But we must listen, and not constantly plead.  We should pray that God speaks to the President, that the President listens carefully, and that the President obeys.  That would ensure the pathway to peace in the Middle East.  It would be the pathway to peace throughout the world. Prayer is our hope.  Prayer works.  Prayer is good. ■ 

[Note: The author is a retired Episcopal priest. Source: THE WICHITA EAGLE – May 27, 2004] 

Published for Informal Religious Meetings Trust Fund, Karachi 

By Virasp Mehta 

4235 Saint James Place, Wichita KS 67226, U.S.A. 


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