Dokhmenashini In The Light Of Modern Science
A Talk by Ervad Dr. Minocher Dadabhoy Karkhanawala (BA, MSc, MS, PhD)
[Ervad Dr Karkhanavala was born in Mumbai. He passed his B Sc with chemistry and physics, completed his BA and then MSc from Wilson and Elphinstone Colleges. He did his MS in glass technology from New York State College of Ceramics and PhD in organic chemistry from Philadelphia University, USA. He was ordained as a Navar and Martab at Navsari. Ever since he was initiated as a priest at a young age, he wore the white priestly robes with white pugree daily throughout his life in India as well as abroad, at college/university and at his job at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). He represented India at the Geneva Conference on “Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy” and was Group Director, Health Physics Division and Chemical Group at BARC, Trombay when he passed away due to an untimely and tragic accident on 17th November, 1979. Dr Karkhanavala was a devoted scientist, a gifted teacher, an organiser, an administrator, a humanitarian thinker and a staunch follower of the Zoroastrian religion. He practiced what he preached. He believed that, like an escalator, science takes us there, that far but no further. It stops at the material world and that it is partial whereas religion is complete; it sees man as a whole mental, physical as well as spiritual. Religion takes over where science stops.]
My subject for discussion is the Zoroastrian method of disposal of the dead in the light of modern science. The theme prayer is from the Vendidad 5 and 6 wherein it is stated:
Datare gaethanam astvaitinam ashaum, kva naram iristanam tanum barama Ahura Mazda? Kva nidaathama? Aat mraot Ahuro Mazdao, barezishtvaecha paiti gatushva Spitama Zarathustra, yadhoit dim baidhishtem avazanam suno va kerefsh-kharo vayo va kerefsh-kharo. Aetadha he aete mazdayasna aetem kehrpem hvare-daresya kerenaot.
Therein we ask, “O Creator of this physical world, to where shall we remove and where shall we put the bodies of the dead?
Then spake Ahura Mazda, “O Holiest of Holy Zarathustra, to the highest place Thou shall carry and there you shall put, where indeed the corpse-eating animals and the birds can see. There shall you carry your Mazdayasnans and shall cause to make that body see the sun or expose to the sun.
In the last sentence is the basic principle of the so-called Khurshed Nagirashni (beholding by the sun), which forms the basis of our method of disposal.
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Courtesy : Pervin Mistry