The Perils of Organ Donation
Dasturji Khurshed’s appeal on Sanjan Day to Parsis to join other Indians in Organ Donation is most noble and noteworthy. Dasturji’s enthusiasm for this movement arose from his being moved to tears while performing the Navjote of a visually impaired Zoroastrian child. As such, Dasturji’s motives for his pronouncement are worthy of appreciation.
But the important point to consider is this: Is Dasturji Khurshed voicing his personal opinion or is he pronouncing a religious opinion, given his position as a High Priest of the Udvada 9 families Anjuman? If Dasturji clarifies that this is his personal opinion then he is entitled to have it. But if he is making a religious pronouncement then the same has to be examined with what is written in the scriptures and the spirit of the Avesta, along with an examination of the long standing traditions and precepts (revered in the Avesta as Dareghayao Upayanayao) of our community.
Before we examine the doctrinal position, let us consider the issue in a rational manner, which is much in vogue today. The central focus of organ donation is the concept of charity, of giving away what is ours to another, less fortunate member of society. The important point to make here is that charity can be done only with that which is ours, not that which belongs to someone else. If my neighbour is a very rich man I cannot appropriate his wealth and distribute it to the poor and call it charity. That would be akin to robbing Peter to pay Paul. The moot question is this – is the human body ours, or does it belong to God?
Secondly real charity does not lie in giving away something when we no longer need it – real charity means giving away something even though we may need it. Those public personas and film stars who proudly proclaim their signing organ donation forms, if they were really charitable, would give away their organs whilst living! Why do you need two kidneys when the body can do with one? Why not give away one eye and live with the other? If even 20% of the global population did so, the waiting list for organ transplants would disappear!
The concept of organ donation in a Zoroastrian context is far from charity and more like robbing Pesi to pay Rusi. The human body we have is not our own. It is given to us by Ahura Mazda, in a sacred covenant. The body and its faculties are to be used for one purpose – to advance the soul in its spiritual progress and to take creation one step closer to salvation – Frashogard. Once the destined time span of an individual is over, the body – along with all its parts, is to be returned to Ahura Mazda in the way directed in the scriptures – by exposing the body to sunlight and vultures, in a specially constructed and ritually consecrated religious institution called the Dakhma, along with certain specific ceremonies and rituals.
Click Here to read more details from Marzban J Hathiram’s page on Frashogard