History Repeats Itself
My impetus to write this post is to address the recent posting by Bhujwala. He has very cleverly crafted his piece by including items such as inequality, environment, violence, which nobody could disagree with, and then sandwiching in between misinformation on our religion thus making his post palatable by the “gullibles”. Here is my viewpoint:
Many would agree that the phrase “history repeats itself” is true in most situations. As it pertains to our religion, history is most definitely seen to repeat itself. Zoroastrianism was a full-fledged state religion during the Sassanian Dynasty and according to various literature, our beautiful religion was practiced by most in the way that it was supposed to. However, evil’s head was raised during this era in the form of Mazdakism and Manichaeism, but they were all thwarted back by the passionate Zoroastrian kings of the time.
Fast forwarding to the period when we settled on the shores of Gujarat, our religion under the leadership of Dastur Nairyosang Dhaval was still completely intact with its rules, customs, traditions, and rituals. But history repeated itself when schism erupted between the Zoroastrian priests of the time, as to who should take care of the Fire and who should cater to Behdins’ various liturgical ceremonies. This further resulted into the divisions of Bhagarias and Sanjanas. The religion still seemed stable enough to have its rules and rituals in place.
Now, in the 15th century, the concept of Rivayats came into being when a Parsi from Navsari by the name of Changa Asa sent a person named Hoshang Nariman to go to Iran to consult with Iranian priests on religious matters. From this point one can easily identify the inception of the weakening of our religious leadership in India, where they thought that the Mobeds of Iran are better qualified in religious matters than themselves. Hoshang Nariman came up with the news that there was a difference of one month in the calendar between Iranians and Zarathushtis in India. This was a key point that started our religion to crumble apart as it saw a violent fight within the Parsis in India, some vying for the Iranian calendar and others for the one that they already had. People were even killed in this fight for the calendar!
This also started the advent of even more Persian Rivayats which were nothing more than the answers by Iranian priests to a list of questions brought to them from Parsis in India. Thus, Persian Rivayats gained popularity in the minds of both the priests and laities in India without much evidence that the answers brought forward were the truth. In fact, the concept of “mobedyar” got emanated from one of the Rivayats. This farfetched concept allowed history to repeat itself, where evil’s head was raised once again to harm the purity of our religion. The ugliness through this concept, unfortunately, is being propagated by an unknown reformist, Bhujwala, and others in the same camp.
- Little do they realize that the tenets of our religion cannot be changed simply due to their own inconveniences, but somehow their claim is now being presented very shrewdly under the guise of “adapting to the modern world”.
- Little do they realize that the disciples of Zarathushtra, and the sages during the Sassanian times, were way more spiritual and wiser than any of us, including the ones who are enthroned with the high status of “Dasturs” in our society today.
- Little do they realize that those wise followers of Zarathushtra were fully qualified to lay down the rules and rituals of our religion, but the pathetic pretenders of today simply cannot change those rules and rituals, as they are neither spiritual nor qualified in any way, shape or form.
- Little do they realize that religions are created with specific rules, traditions, and rituals. If the rules, traditions, and rituals are changed, then we simply do not have the specific religion that was created. Yes, one can completely change all the rules and rituals of Zoroastrianism, but then they simply cannot term their religion as Zoroastrianism.
Perhaps from the time that Persian Rivayats were considered the be-all and end-all on everything from proselytism to rituals, the “Dasturs” (the high priests) in India have been quite silent and have appeared to go along with the Rivayats, or perhaps they themselves are convincingly having the same opinion as the Rivayats. This behavior of the Dasturs is quite evident today when you see our religious leaders such as Dastur Kotwal of Mumbai and Dastur Ravji of Navsari not entering the arena to put these reformists in their places. This again is history repeated for our community where we saw people such as Dastur Dhalla in the early 1900s displaying the same type of behavior. He had no issues with proselytism and was openly demonstrating a very liberal viewpoint.
So, what’s the problem with the Persian Rivayats?
You will find below the arguments on this topic that I had posted a couple of years ago. No wonder, history repeats itself, I have to do it one more time.
There are differences in practices and beliefs between Parsee Zarathushtis and the ones from Iran, but one cannot categorically imply all the justifications given by the Rivayats as the gospel truth.
Also, clinging on to the Rivayats as some sort of strong evidence for a specific viewpoint is debatable at best. It is deplorable to believe the Rivayats on its face value, simply because they surfaced a cool 900 to almost 1000 years after the fall of our religion in Iran. During this time period, one can only imagine, the generations of Zarathushtis that went through the persecution and severe oppression by Islam. It is highly likely that somewhere in the lineage, those Zarathushtis were greatly influenced by the Islamic beliefs, thereby adapting many of the Islamic traditions as well, and unknowingly considering and incorporating them as Zarathushti practices. The bottom line is that it becomes totally ludicrous to think that the group we left behind in Iran, and who after undergoing tremendous amount of religious persecution are still able to articulate the original Zarathushti practices even after some one thousand years. This thinking forms the basis of the Rivayats. There may be an ounce of truth in its contents, but to consider Rivayats as the whole truth is utterly naive and foolish.
Caving in to the Rivayats as a mean to justify the authenticity of different rituals and practices, or for that matter a lack of them, simply undermines whatever was taught by our ancestors since they landed on the shores of Sanjan, 1387 years ago. The reality is that the Parsees escaped from the influence of Islam, whereas our Zarathushti brothers and sisters of Iran were not fortunate to do so.
However, this should not deter the Parsees to welcome the Zarathushtis from Iran, but their incorporations into the Parsee Zarathushti community ought to be done on the basis of the religious rituals and beliefs, as taught by our forefathers, starting with Dasturji Nairyosang Dhaval, and not by what is considered as Zarathushti rituals and beliefs as currently practiced in Iran.
No matter, how a reformist spins it – through Rivayats, or, through the concept of equality, or, through the need to change with the times, or through the need to be inclusive, or for that matter, through blatantly implying that our forefathers were wrong in their teachings – nothing works!
The fact remains that:
- If you are in the liberal/progressive camp, you will hopefully learn from this response.
- If you are in the orthodox/traditional camp, then this may come as no surprise to you!
The message sent by reformists such as this guy Bhujwala works on the “gullibles” and guilt redeemers. The former because they tend to accept things on their face value and are easily trapped by the conniving ways these people promote their message. One can’t be fooled into accepting proselytism on the basis of equality or mentioning that Zarathushtra accepted any and all into our religion. While this may be so, this reformist doesn’t tell the whole story – in those days, the people were mainly Mazdayasnis or had no religion. Therefore, in no way, shape, or form this ought to be considered as proselytism. The other one, the guilt redeemers, simply because they are feeling guilty and fooling themselves into thinking that they are still Zoroastrians despite having a non-Zoroastrian spouse.
I would like to conclude by capturing the central theme of our Prophet in Gatha Spenta-Mainyu, verse 49.3. It is in this verse we find that Zarathushtra asks Ahura Mazda to keep Him away completely from associating with people of untruth.
If Zarathushtra has asked for Ahura Mazda’s help to ensure that He does not associate with people who are untruthful to their religion and their souls, shouldn’t you?
Kudos to Jal Dastur for his astute response to an obviously misleading and rather rambling tirade against Zoroastrianism and its practises today! The article in question veers away from the title itself and rather than enlightening the reader with facts descends into the realm of pseudo-scholarship – even as it reflects a certain amount of self interest. It doesn’t take a Rhodes scholar to realise that this entire article is not about the religion but rather a personal peeve about not being accepted as a priest by those who have been ordained under Zoroastrian practises and customs for millennia! Deforming the religion to suit the wants of any will not save it from destruction!
How does one get in touch with Jal Dastur to personally commend him on his stand?
Thanks for your kind words. I am a retired executive who was with Merck for some 32 years – I am also a Navar Murtab and have been raised in a religious family observing all our rituals. I have done the same with my family. In fact, my grandson became Navar when we visited Mumbai in 2018. My email is email@example.com. It is indeed refreshing to see someone like you with admirable thoughts and faith in our religion. Take care and stay safe. Regards, Jal
MY DEAR JALBHAI & JIMMY MISTRY(JIMMY ARE YOU THE FAMOUS JIMMY MISTRY OF DADAR OR THE JIMMY MISTRY WHO MIGRATED FROM AFRICA SOMETIME IN2009/10 BECAUSE THEIR WERE NO DOKHMAS IN AFRICA)
WHOEVER I MAY HAVE MET YOU BOTH AT THE ZORASTRIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE MEET AT THE DADAR MADRESA & ENJOYED A DINNER MEET HOSTED BY JIMMY MISTRYS IN 2009OR 2010.ONE THINGS STAND OUT THAT FOR THE RELIGION TO SURVIVE & FOR OUR YOUTH TO FEEL COMFORTABLE, THEIR NEEDS TO BE A CHANGE IN THE WHAT SWAMI VIVEK ANANDA CALLED RELIGIOUS TARIKATS AS “OUTWARD FORMS OF FAITH” (Religion of man)& THIS CHANGE MUST COME AS EVOLUTIONARY & NOT REVOLUTIONARY I AM WHAT YOU BOTH MY BROTHERS WOULD CALL A REFORMIST & LIVE IN AHMEDNAGAR WHICH IS125KM FROM PUNE.UPTO THE 70S IN MATTERS OF DEATH OUR PRIEST REFUSED PRAYERS FOR BURIAL & CREMATION, WE HAD AMOUNG US 2 LARGE FLYS WHO CREATED THEIR OWN CEMETRIES ONE IS STILL IN EXISTANCE THE OTHER WAS DESTROYED BY POLITICIANS AFTER THE LANDE AROUND WAS SOLD BY THE FAMILY,& SURVIVORS MIGRATED OUT.SO WE CREATED A DADGHA IN THE 80S & OUR PRIEST WAS AMIABLE TO PRAYERS FOR BURIAL,FOR THE ANJUMAN TO SUSTAIN ITSELF SOME LAND WAS SOLD, & ALSO NEIGHBOURING, LANDS BECOME DEVELOPED & COMPLAINTS WERE MADE OF SMELL FOR 3/4 WEEKS FROM THE DOKHMA, & THOUGH THE DOKHMA IS STILL IN EXISTANCE WITH PALLBEARERS AS VOLINTURES AMOUNG OURSELVES, AS A RESULT I HAVE SEEN THE BODIES OF MY GRANDFATHER, MY FUI, MY MOTHER, & MY WIFE, ON SUBSIQUENT OCCASSIONS THAT I ENTERED, AS ON TODAY MOST OF US WOULD OPT FOR CREMATION, & OUR CURENT PRIEST IS AGREABLE FOR ALL CERIMONIES,. IN MUMBAI THE WZO HAS ALSO CREATED A FACILITY WHICH HAS WITH THE GRACE OF AHURA MAZDA PUT A STOP TO ALL THE FIGHTING WITHIN THE COMUNITY ON THE ISSUE OF WHAT IS RIGHT OR WRONG IN CASE OF DISPOSAL & THE EVOLUTION IS TAKING PLACE IN THE MINDS OF OUR BRETHREN,
THEIR ARE SO MANY TARIKATS,WHICH ARE NOT FOLLOWED LIKE DRESS CODES,LIKE SADRAS MATHABANU,WHICH ARE NOT GENERALY FOLLOWED,I DO WERE MY CAP AT ALL TIMES BUT NOT FOR ANY RELIGIOUS REASONS I, WEAR IT TO DENOTE WHO I AM LIKE THE JEWS & IN OUR COUNTRY THE AGRESSIVE MUSLIMS, IN SHORT EVOLUTION OF PRACTISES IS DEFINATELY DESIRABLE & THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE WHICH IS THE ENTRY OF CHILDREN OF ZORASTRIAN, INTERMARRIED GIRLS WHICH I BELIEVE A VERY DESIRED CHANGE WHICH WILL BENIFIT OUR CENSUS SPECIALY SINCE NOW WE HAVE PRIESTS WILLING TO PERFORM NAVJOTE CEREMONIES, OF SUCH CHILDREN & AN AGYARI HAS BEEN CREATED WHICH IS OPEAN TO ALL IN PUNE.
IT SHOULD ALSO BE REMEMBERED THAT IT IS REPORTED THAT NOW THERE ARE 8MILLION ZORASTRIANS IN IRAN & THE OPEANLY WEARING THE ASHOFAROVAR IN PUBLIC IS RAMPANT EVAN WITH NON ZORASTRIAN, IT IS ALSO A FACT THAT THERE ARE A VERY HIGH NO OF ZORASTRIANS IN TAJAKISTAN & KHAJAKISTAN & IN TIME IT IS DESIREBLE FOR THE WHOLE ZORASTRIAN COMUNITY SHOULD FORM ONE UNIT. iT IS ALSO PERTINANT TO NOTE THAT 10/12 YEARS AGO THE DEPOSED PRESIDENT OF THAJAKISTAN WAS A ZORASTRIAN
IN THIS CONTEXT THE ACTION OF THE BPP SOME YEARS AGO TO DISRUPT THE NAVAR CEREMONY OF A RUSSIAN PRIEST
IN SANJAN ORGANISED BY MEHER MASTER MOOSE WAS DEPLORABLE.
SO MY DEAR FRIENDS I DO NOT CUNCUR WITH YOUR VIEWS
BEHRAM SAROSH NAGARWALLA
Quite frankly, I didn’t expect everyone to concur with my write-up, particularly when I know that people who have the traditional view of our religion like myself and Jimmy are in minority.
As Mother Teresa once said: “In the final analysis, it is between you and God, it was never between you and them anyway.” So it doesn’t matter who agrees and who doesn’t. In the end, we all have to answer to our Maker.
May Ahura Mazda make you take the righteous path.
Ervad Jal Dastur
Very well articulated, Mr. Jal Dastur