Category Archives: Avesta and Studies

 Ērmān ī uzvān ī pārsīg (The Society of Friends of the Pārsīg Language)

Dear Parsi Zarthosthi readers, My fellow Humdins, Sahebji to all,
I am Esfandyar Patrawalla, and I am here to speak to our community as a young, concerned Zarthosthi and an enabler of action to reverse the crisis we are facing.
As no culture or people survive without a spiritual hinge, we too must always be conscious of the fact that the Mazdayasni Zarthosthi tradition is the foundation of our entire culture and cultural consciousness. Should it disappear, so do we.
We must also recognise that our culture and spirituality are in grave danger of being lost to the sands of time.
As was noted by different eminent Parsi scholars and personalities, like Shehnaz Cama in her recently published piece in The Times of India titled “Time is running out for Parsi culture. Race to save it from extinction is on”, the time is running out and most Parsis are entirely unaware of what constitutes their spiritual system and the cultural and linguistic elements that bind them all together, in essence, like the Pārsīg language (also called Middle Persian or Pahlavi) in which many of the most important of our texts and our intellectual heritage are preserved, as well as our prayers, many of which we utter every day while doing our sudro-kusti prayers, but are unaware of the language as well as their meaning.
As Shehnaz Cama noted in the article:
“It is a crisis of memory as well as memory-keepers. The loss is at once urgent and historical. They fear that the tangible and intangible threads of their history, culture, philanthropy, and memory would vanish as well. It was the history of an entire community simply vanishing.”
The grammatical tense structure of the sentence is present-continous. As in, we are living through this decay, and this must make us tensed.
To reverse this decay and revitalise one of the pillars of the Ēr (= Mazdayasni, Iranic) spirituality, we have the great pleasure to announce the launch of “Ērmān ī uzvān ī pārsīg”, an independent project in Iranian Studies that emphasises public education and authentic practice of the Pārsīg language by using a Natural and Immersive Method.
The project, which owes its foundations to renown behdēn scholar Raham Asha, is currently coordinated and directed by Ario Sedaghat, a fellow young Iranian humdēn and a researcher in philosophy based in Milan, Italy.
For an introduction to the current work on the project, see:
The website, set to expand over the coming year, not only features materials from the Pārsīg classical corpus transcribed to the highest orthographic standards, but also presents new texts freshly written, translated, and retro-translated into Pārsīg, each serving a distinct purpose, made by our colleagues.
As for education, we have a comprehensive teaching plan involving both self-study and online lessons.
For online courses, see:
For an initial (and not final) edition of online self-study, see:
For other schedules that students can opt for based on their preferences, contact
The core purpose of Ērmān is the meticulous rehabilitation of this highly misunderstood and wrongly dismissed language as the main key to the entire spirit of Ērīh and the enormous heritage associated with it. As a group of young Iranian scholars and students, Ērmān seeks to build an online school for the Iranian public and intellectual frahang, i.e., education, that has the Daēnā Mazdayasni and its teachings as its core. This project has been in the testing phase for two years, and it is part of a larger effort in Iranian Studies (Perso-Aryan Studies) to transcend the conventional orientalistic naiveté that pervades academia and ignores many contexts and the richness of our intellectual and spiritual heritage.
There is a serious danger that the Zoroastrian community, and the Parsi community in particular, might forget everything that our ancestors and ourselves have stood for over the course of thousands of years. There will be nothing left of “Parsipannu” once the spiritual aspect of it is lost to time. We simply then devolve to the very Karapan vapid ritualists that mumbled prayers without understanding their meanings & against whom our very dear Asho Zarthost stood so defiantly to keep intact the spiritual essence of Asha and Mazdayasni Daēnā.
Thus, it is my kind request to all my fellow Parsi readers here to kindly get involved with the project and, if you find it useful, make contributions to it, either as patrons or as students enrolling to learn the language, so as to understand the contextuals of our holy Daēnā and culture.
I thank everyone for reading and supporting.
Yazdān panāh bād ud ahlāyīh bē abzāyād!
For contacting Mr. Ario Sedaghat, director and coordinator of Ērmān, email at:
The website address
For questions email
For joining in on online lessons see:
Esfandyar Patrawalla
I am also attaching images below that help navigate through the website more readily & help understand the structure:

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Learning the Pārsīg Language:
Here you will find information about our periodic online classes, the “Pārsīg in 30 Lessons” self-study program, A Concise Grammar, Dictionary and exercises for learning Pārsīg.
Mādayān | Texts:
Here you will find a selection of Pārsīg texts, from classical literature to new works written, translated or retrotranslated to Pārsīg.
Among the present works we have: The Book of the Deeds of Ardašēr, the Memorial of Vazurgmihr, the Jāmāspīg; stories from Aesop, ʿAwfī’s Collections of Stories,…
Māhrōz | History:
Here you will find historical works such as Pārsīg inscriptions and texts relating to the traditional history of Iran, and research about the historical narrative in relation to the religious & royal institutions, and Iranians’ bipartite ideology to these two institutions.
Dānišn | Sciences:
Here you will find works about the sciences in Ērānšahr, ranging from encyclopedia-writing, logic and philosophy to cosmology, astronomy and medicine.
 āfrīn ud jašn | Benedictions and Feasts:
Here you can find texts and researches related to benedictory formulas and rituals of Iranian festivities, banquets and such.
A selection of extant Pārsīg poems; a set of translations into Pārsīg from modern Iranian languages like Farsi, Luri, Ādari etc., and more.

The Avesta and Zoroastrianism: The Creation, Disappearance and Resurgence of an Ancient Text

Zoroastrian Fire temple at Baku, Azerbaijan adapted practiced according to the Avesta and other Zoroastrian scriptures.	Source: Konstantin / Adobe Stock

Of all the religious texts, the Avesta is perhaps the least familiar. This is unsurprising, since the Avesta was written in a now-dead language, before being lost for almost one thousand years. However, thousands of people still follow the teachings of this ancient text that is thought to have its origins between 1500 and 1000 BC. The Avesta is key not only to understanding Zoroastrianism, but also the origins of younger and more widely followed religions.

The Farvahar, the most common symbol of Zoroastrianism. (Alexeiy / Adobe Stock)

The Farvahar, the most common symbol of Zoroastrianism. ( Alexeiy / Adobe Stock)

What is the Avesta?

The Avesta is the religious text of Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrianism was founded by the prophet Zoroaster at some point between 1500 and 1000 BC. The religion developed from an oral tradition, and its original prayers and hymns were composed in a language which was called Avestan, now long dead.

Thankfully, the  Sassanian Empire  (224-651 AD) went to great lengths to write the Avesta down. The text is usually divided into 6 sections: Yasna-Gathas, Visperad, Yashts, Vendidad, Minor Texts, and Fragments.

According to Zoroastrian tradition, the original 21 books, called  Nasts were revealed by the Zoroastrian god himself, Ahura Mazda. Ahura Mazda is said to have revealed the texts to the prophet Zoroaster, who recited them to King Vishtaspa. The king then had the Nasts inscribed on golden sheets. This work was then memorized, recited at  yasna (services), and passed down through word of mouth for generations, until the Sassanians took it upon themselves to record it all.

The original Avesta has expanded over time. Besides Zoroaster’s original teachings, it now includes ecclesiastical laws, commentaries, and customs. New beliefs which came long after Zoroaster have also been added.

A Sassanian Frieze in Iran showing Persian King Ardashir I crowned by Ahura Mazda (right). The figure standing behind the king is probably his son and successor Shapur I (Artaban V Vers 230 / CC BY SA 3.0)

A Sassanian Frieze in Iran showing Persian King Ardashir I crowned by Ahura Mazda (right). The figure standing behind the king is probably his son and successor Shapur I (Artaban V Vers 230 /  CC BY SA 3.0 )

Early Development

Zoroastrianism began as a polytheistic religion (a religion with more than one god).  Ahura Mazda  was seen as the king of the gods, and he was supported by lesser gods and spirits that represented the forces of good. Opposing Ahura Mazda and his retinue was the spirit Angra Mainyu and his forces of darkness. We know that in the early days of Zoroastrianism there was a priesthood that worshipped the gods, but very little other information exists about this early period.

Sometime between 1500 and 1000 BC, one of these priests rose up with new teachings. This priest,  Zoroaster, claimed to have received a vision from Ahura Mazda. A being of pure light, Vohu Manah, had visited Zoroaster on the god’s behalf to inform him that Ahura Mazda was the one true god. It was Zoroaster’s responsibility to spread the word.

Unsurprisingly, things did not go well for Zoroaster when he first dropped this bombshell revelation. The priesthood turned against him, and his life was threatened, causing him to flee his home. Zoroaster soon arrived at the court of King Vishtaspa, who had him imprisoned for his heresy. Luckily, Zoroaster managed to win over the king by healing his favorite horse. Impressed by this miracle, King Vishtaspa promptly converted to Zoroaster’s version of Zoroastrianism and commanded his kingdom to follow suit. Zoroaster was no longer seen as a heretic, and his new religion began to spread rapidly.

An image of Zoroaster from the 1849 Bombay Shahnama (Public Domain)

An image of Zoroaster from the 1849 Bombay Shahnama ( Public Domain )

The new religion revolved solely around Ahura Mazda, the all-good, all-forgiving, all-loving god. All Ahura Mazda wanted was for humans to acknowledge his love through good thoughts, deeds, and words.

According to Zoroaster, his followers had to lead a virtuous life. This was done by honoring  Asha (truth) and resisting  Druj (lies). It was said that by leading lives of honor, people helped to combat the forces of darkness which were still led by Angra Mainyu. It is during this time that Zoroaster is believed to have composed the  Gathas, the earliest section of the Avesta which takes the form of hymns addressed directly to Ahura Mazda. As stated above, legend states that King Vishtaspa had these hymns recorded on golden sheets, but no evidence of these sheets remains.

Click Here to continue to this interesting article at

North America Zoroastrian Studies launched

Attached, for your information and circulation, is a Press Release announcing the establishment of the North American Institute of Zoroastrian Studies, as an educational arm of the North American Mobeds Council (NAMC).

A debt of gratitude goes to Rohinton Rivetna for his initiative in drafting the initial charter, and to NAMC (President Er. Arda-e-viraf Minocherhomjee) for their resolution to carry the proposal forward.  NAMC Vice-President Er. Tehemton Mirza has been tasked by NAMC to set up this organization, create a curriculum and manage its operations.

This is an important milestone for Zoroastrians in North America, marking our coming of age and taking our rightful place as an established religion, among others, in North America.

Roshan Rivetna


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Having recently been awarded her PhD, Dr. Nazneen Engineer is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at the SOAS Shapoorji Pallonji Institute of Zoroastrian Studies.
Her interest in Zoroastrian Studies emerged after she attended the December 2007 World Zoroastrian Youth Congress in Australia.
For her doctorate, which was awarded to her on July 24, 2019, at SOAS in London, she produced an annotated translation of a Parsi Gujarati text written in 1883 by a prominent high-priest of the Parsi community. Her post-doctoral journey continues…

The Gathas – in the words of Zarathushtra

In the words of Asho Zarathushtra…

The Gathas are the Heavenly songs of our Dear Prophet Zarathushtra.  These divine hymns in essence, represent Zarathushtra’s communication with Ahura Mazda, in which the Prophet enquires about various aspects of the corporeal and spiritual worlds that embody the Almighty’s Holy Plan. It is through these Gathas that we learn that Ahura Mazda ordained Zarathushtra to propagate our great religion and lead mankind.

The five Gathas address a wide variety of information, which include, the creation of Nature, the concepts of Asha, Vohu Manah and the Twin Spirits, the choices that mankind has to make between Good and Evil, the expected outcome for the demons of the time, the punishment for the followers of falsehood, and a slew of other material. The devotional ‘Manthras’ that Zarathushtra prayed at the time to invoke the sacred Blessings from Ahura Mazda, is sprinkled in different verses of each Gatha.  These specific verses could very well be a great source of divine prayers for us to recite as well.

To allow a true Zarathushti to pray these selected sacred verses that are relevant to our daily lives, I have extracted these verses from each Gatha and have compiled them in a PDF format.  I have also provided the English translation for each stanza, to help with the understanding of the meaning of each verse for the reader.  This translation is based on “Gatha ba Maani” by Ervad Cowasji Eduljee Kanga, and “Divine Songs of Zarathushtra” by Iruch Taraporewala.

I am well aware of the unfortunate degradation of our community members throughout the world, to shy away from following the tenets of our religion, let alone reciting our daily prayers.  However, even if a handful of true Zarathushtis do get a chance to recite these verses, I will consider myself blessed by Ahura Mazda.

The Missing Jamaspe

Truth, they say, is stranger than fiction.


This is a  story narrated to Roshnimai Godiwala by a pious lady.  It is the story of a simple husband who was unfortunate to have a wife whose lavish spending  habits left him greatly distressed.  For a long time, he tried his best to cater  to her incessant monetary demands till one day, out of sheer despair,  he decided to end his life. Even as he stood, poised for a leap unto death,  on a precipice overlooking the Wai Ghat near Panchgani, a Sadhu suddenly appeared by his side.


When questioned by the ascetic, this Parsi gentleman explained his predicament , saying he was going to meet his Maker. The ascetic laughed aloud and told the Parsi that if this was truly a way to be liberated from life’s worries and meeting God, then many mortals would have succeeded by now. He requested this troubled soul to visit his Ashram and assured him that he would help him to meet God. Since the desperate Parsi had nothing to lose anyway, he accompanied the Sadhu to his Ashram.


The ascetic gave this despairing soul a fruit to eat.  No sooner was the fruit consumed, the Parsi went into a samadhi like state, liberated from all flesh and blood needs-no thirst, no hunger, no sleep, no defecation for forty days!  When he returned from this trance like state, he had partaken of many secrets and mysteries lying locked in Nature’s vault. The ascetic handed a Jamaspe to this enlightened soul, instructing him how to use the book to prescribe Nirangs , prayers to other long suffering Parsi souls that they may enjoy some relief and happiness. He also told this Parsi that, henceforth, every morning when he awoke, he would find a ten rupee note under his pillow. It is worth noting that this sequence of events occurred in the forties when a rupee held great value.


On returning home, the man went about using the copy of Jamaspe and recently acquired divine knowledge for the work assigned to him.  As for his extravagant wife, there was always the ten rupee note every morning to satisfy her foolish demands. After some time, the man realised his natural end was drawing near. He called a pious lady neighbour whom he trusted, and told her to take away the Jamaspe and carry on the good work after his death.  The lady disciple told him that she would collect the sacred book from the prayer shelf with the burning oil lamp only after he had passed away.  She assured him that she would then put it to good use as instructed by him.  However, after his demise, when she tried  to collect the book from the secret place shown to her, the book was missing!


Roshnimai asked late Jehangirji Sohrabji Chiniwalla Saheb (disciple of Ustad Saheb Behramshah Navroji Shroff) to explain why the book had vanished from the secret place shown to the survivor.  He explained that , in the Aravali mountains, even today, there are places cut off from the outside material world by talismatic kash.  Here lie some Astral Libraries where Holy Books of all the Divinely Revealed Religions are kept. Jehangirji Sohrabji Chiniwala Saheb opined that, since the survivor lady was not found eligible to use the secrets of Jamaspe, it must have, so to say, ehtherialised and got restored to one such astral library! He also explained that there are many such advanced souls dwelling in these places cut off from the outside materialistic world. Though the Sadhu was not a Parsi, he could draw the relevant book from such an astral library by virtue of his spiritual stature so that the Parsi could do the good work he was destined to do for other suffering Parsis.


The cynic and the doubting Thomas, will dismiss this story as an unbelievable yarn. We wish him good luck!


Strange are the ways of Nature and stranger, the multidimensional truths and events lying beyond the grasp of our puny human intellect that always presumes to understand the multidimensional truths of Nature. But then,as Hamlet told his friend,


“There are more things in Heaven and earth, Horatio than are dreamt of in your philosophy!.”


Courtesy : K F Keravala


The Gathas – A Compilation

The Holy Gathas Of Zarathustra – Jimmy Wadia

Presented as a recitable prayer in English compiled from the following publications which give different versions of the Holy Gathas as per links below, (a compilation by Jimmy Wadia (

The Holy Gathas of Zarathustra by Behramgore T. Anklesaria M.A.

The Life of Zoroaster in the words of his own Hymns – The Gathas, by Kenneth Sylvan Launfal Guthrie – published by the Comparative Literature Press, Brooklyn, New York, USA in 1914

The Gathas of Zarathustra- by Stanley Insler-1975, Acta Iranica IV, Leiden: Brill

The Heritage of Zarathushtra – A New Translation of his Gathas by Helmut Humbach and Pallan Ichaporia, published in 1994

The Gathas – The Hymns of Zarathushtra by DJ Irani

Translation of the Gathas – The Holy Songs of Zarathushtra by Mobed Firouz Azargoshasb

Thank you Jimmy for sharing.

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