Parsi Charity and Philanthropy

Parsi Thy Name Is Charity

By Noshir H. Dadrawala

“Parsi, thy name is charity” is a common expression that probably traces its roots to the time of the British Raj. No less a person than Mahatma Gandhi has acknowledged, “I am proud of my country, India, for having produced the splendid Zoroastrian stock, in numbers beneath contempt, but in charity and philanthropy, perhaps unequalled, certainly unsurpassed.”

 

The driving force behind a Parsi’s charitable instinct is his religious ethos. From a religious point of view, Parsis consider poverty, suffering and want as an affliction of evil. To remove poverty, disease and suffering is not only a religious duty, but an act of spiritual merit, depriving “evil” of sustenance. If Christ asked his followers to love their neighbours, Zarathushtra asked his followers to attain happiness by making others happy. (Yasna 43.1)

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