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.
THE HIGH PRIESTS OF THE COMMUNITY IN 1917 AS PICTURED IN THE BOOK “THE PARSIS”, A TRANSLATION BY M M MURZBAN OF MLLE. DELPHINE MENANTS “LES PARSIS”.
Mlle. Delphine Menant wrote her work on the Zoroastrian Communities in India in 1897. The first 3 Chapters were first translated from the original French by Miss Ratanbai Ardeshir Framji Vakil, B A. The entire work was later translated by M M Marzban in 1917. “The first part comprises chapters devoted to the civil life of the Parsis, from birth to death, under the customs described by old travellers, and the changes of the present century”.
“The second part is a treatise on the religious duties of the Parsis”.” A succinct account is submitted on the labour of scholars of the ancient Persians”. She takes the reader from the Parsis of ancient Persia to the Parsis in India today.
The date of this book 1917 is important as it was the time of learning, and a time of rediscovering the forgotten connection the Parsis in India had with the Parsis in Persia. It highlights the Head Priests of the communities as scholars having studied under foreign savants and authors on books of Religion.
Shams-ul-Ulama Dastur Darab Dastur Peshotan Sanjana,B.A. Present Dastur (High Priest of the Wadiaji’s Shahanshahi Atesh-Beherum, in Bombay, since 1899. Born 18th Nov 1857 A D
A scholar and linguist; Principal of the Jamsetji Jeejeebhoy”Zarthoshti Madressa” (Seminary) since 1899: Fellow of the University of Bombay. Author of: “The Doctrine of the Soul in the Avesta”: “Next of kin Marriages in Iran”, “Position of Zoroastrian Women in Remote Antiquity”. Translator, in English of “Zarathustra in the Gathas and in the Classics”, from Dr.W.Greiger’s German work. ‘The Age of Avesta and Zoroaster”, from Dr.W.Geiger and Von Spiegels works. Editor of : “The Pahlavi Nirangistan and Minu-i-Khrat” (with notes and commentaries): “The Dinkart”, (Vols X-XVI) (with translations into Gujrati and English):”The Pahlavi Karnamak-I Artakshir-i-Papakan”,(Pahlavi text with English and Gujrati translations): Author of a number of Papers, Lectures, and Sermons, in English and Gujrati.
These are Dastur Darab’s views on acceptance of people born in another religion and converted to Zoroastrianism as recorded in the court case Saklat vs Bella:
Extract from pages 24-25 of Zarathushtra in the Gathas by Darab Dastur Peshotan Sanjana, filed before Commissioner. EXHIBIT 54 Suit No. 91 of 1915 OF CHIEF COURT, LOWER BURMA.
R. S. DADACHANJI, Commissioner
18th March 1916.
First, it is regarded as a sacred obligation to convert the infidels by means of words and doctrine (Yasna XXVIII, 5). The religion of Zarathushtra is a religion of culture, of spiritual and moral progress and proficiency. It penetrates through all conditions of human life, and it considers every action of life, as for instance, the clearing of the soil, the careful tending of herds, and the cultivation of the fields, from the standpoint of religious duty. Such a religion, or such a philosophy, cannot be confined to a narrow circle; the propagation of it and the conversion of all men to it, are ideas which are at the basis of its very essence. We, accordingly, find complete hymns, as Yasna XXX and XLV, which were evidently intended to be delivered before a numerous audience, and in which Zarathushtra, or one of his friends, expounds the essential points of the new doctrine for the approval of the hearers.
Ratan Tata asked for Dastur Darab’s opinion before converting his wife Susaune to Zoroastrianism. This is Dastur Darab’s reply:
Bombay 8 February 1903
Gracious Seth Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata
Respected Sir, we have received your letter dated February 7. 1 would like to thank you for your gracious invitation to participate in this Navjote ceremony that is going to take place today. For this invitation consider that you have kind feelings for me. Because of certain items, I am sorry that I will not be able to attend the gathering
You have said in your letter that you had read the public sermon which we have published, and that you are planning to act accordingly. I am very happy to know this.
If a pious man or woman with firm belief is accepted into the Zoroastrian religion and taken into the community, then the Zoroastrian religion has no closed-door policy. This is our humble opinion that we have expressed in our sermon
Darab Dastur Peshotanji Sanjana
Shams-ul-Ulema, Dr Dastur Peshotanji Beheranji Sanjana, (father of Dastur Darab Peshotan Sanjana), M.A., Ph D., Late Dastur of Wadiaji’s Shahanshahi Atesh-Beheram, in Bombay. (Died on 26th December 1898).
A ‘Fellow’ of the University of Bombay, and a member of the German Oriental Society. Editor of the ‘Dinkart (Vols I to IX),’ with Pahlavi text, transliteration in Avesta characters: and translations into English and Gujrati: of ‘Vijirkard-i-Denik;’ ‘Karnamak of Ardesher Babagan,” in Pahlavi : and author of a voluminous Pahlavi Grammar.
“His works, connected with Pahlavi literature were both numerous and important, all indicating as competent a knowledge of that complicated language as any contemporary scholar possessed….” Dr E W West, Editor of the Sacred books of the East Series.
He wrote ‘Nirang-i-Zawitdinan”, an explanatory treatise, with regard to the kind of ceremonies that should be performed for admission of Jud-dins(aliens) into the Mazdayasna Zoroastrian Religion. As recorded in the court case of Saklat vs Bella
BOOK BY DASTUR PESHOTAN SANJANA ON THE CEREMONIES TO BE PERFORMED TO CONVERT JUDDINS
Dastur Dr. Jamaspji Dastur Minocherji Dastur Edalji Jamaspasana, D C L,(Oxford), M A (Germany). Late Dastur of the Anjuman’s Shahanshahi Atesh Beheram, in Bombay. Died on 26th September 1898, in Bombay.
Author of: “Old Zend and Pahlavi Glossary”. Pahlavi, Gujrati and English Dictionary; the “Pahlavi text of Ayibatkar-i-Zariran”. Translalator of “Sardar=e-Behere Tavil,” from Persian to Gujrati, and author of many Gujrati Sermons and Controversial pamphlets. Translator, into Gujrati of the Pahlavi “Vendidad”, with translations.
Dastur Kaikhusru Dastur Jamaspji Jamaspasana. Late Dastur of the Anjuman’s Atesh-Beheram, in Bombay. (Died on 23rd June 1916 A D).
Editor of the “Arda Viraf Namah”. In the original Pahlavi (with introduction and Notes: Gujrati translation and Persian version of “Zarthost Behram” in verses
Dastur Kaikhusru and Dastur Minocher (next Picture) performed the Navjote of Susaune Braire and her wedding to Ratan Tata by Parsi rites under the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act. Dastur Kaikhusru was also the Head Priest of Calcuttas Banaji Agiari, the Banaji Atash Behram and the Camay Bay Agiari, Soda Water Wala’s Agiari, and the Godiwala Agiari. He was in charge of the Agiaris in Aden,Colombo, Lahore and Lunoul.
The opinions of the Dasturs was sought by the sub-committee which was appointed by a committee chosen by the Zoroastrian Anjuman Council on the question of a non- Zoroastrian being accepted into the Zoroastrian Religion.
This is the reply given by Dastur Kaikhusru Jamaspji
September 14, 1903
You have asked your opinion of whether or not to accept people of other faith into our religion, according to the teachings of our religion. You want to know whether this is acceptable or not. I am taking the permission to reply to you that according to our religion there is absolutely no restriction against accepting a non-Zoroastrian into the Zoroastrian religion. This is what the religion says. In the daily prayers of the Zoroastrian such as “Khurshid and Meher Niayesh”, the person prays that May the Mazdayasna religion be spread on seven continents. (Hafta Keshvar Zamin). In the olden times the Athornan (Priest) class did not only pray this and sit around, but they went into far off countries in order to spread the Mazdayasna religion or the religion of Ashoi. (See Yajashne Ha chapter 41 paragraph 6). In several instances tyrannical people used to create problems when these Athornans went out to spread the religion. (Yajashne Ha 9 paragraph 24) We would like to point out above instances only: from the instructions or the ruling found in the Zoroastrian religion we can say that it is perfectly alright to accept non-Zoroastrians into the Zoroastrian religion.
We agree completely with the second publication of the booklet by Ervad Temurasp Dinshawji Anklasaria with the necessary proof for accepting non-Zoroastrians into the Zoroastrian religion. (Judeen No Ne Mazdayasni Din Ma Dakhel Karwa Rava Chhe Te Vishaynee Shahdato). In this, the learned Ervad points out examples from Avesta, Pahlavi, and Farsi books.
Also, our late respected Dastur Jamaspji has pointed out in the book “Pasokhay Nirangeh Javit Deenan” published in 1252 Y.D. that to accept non-Zoroastrians into the Zoroastrian religion is perfectly alright, and he has given examples. From the examples of the above booklet by Ervad Temurasp Anklesaria, as well as our late Dastur Jamasp, one can say that for any new student there is nothing left to search for. For this reason, we are pointing you to the examples in these booklets and are presenting them to the sub-committee. Signed,
Kaikushru Dastur Jamaspji.
Dastur Minocher Dastur Jamaspi Jamaspasana. Present Dastur of the Anjuman’s Atesh-Beheram, in Bombay. (Born 2nd November-1870 A D)
Editor of an “Epitome in Gujrati prose, (in four volumes), of Firdausi’s Shah Nameh” He together with Dastur Kaikhusu did the navjote of Susaune Brair and her Parsi wedding to Ratan Tata.
THE PARSI WEDDING CERTIFICATE OF RATAN TATA AND SUSAUNE BRAIRE. OFFICIATING PRIESTS KAIKHUSRU JAMASPJEE AND MINOCHER JAMASPJEE
Shams-ul-ulama, Khan Bahadur, Sirdar, Dr Dastur Hoshangji Jamaspji Jamaspasana C I E., Ph.D.
(Died on 23rd April 1908 A D)
Late High Priest of the Shahanshahi Parsis in the Deccan. A scholar and linguist, Professor of Persian, in the Deccan College, in Poona. Author and Editor of several works, of which the principal are: “Pahlavi Pazand Glossary: Shikana-Gumanik Vijar, (co-edited with the scholar Dr E W West.): “The Book of Adar-Viraf Nameh, with an English translation, (co-edited with Dr Martin Haug): “The Vendidad in Avesta text, with Pahlavi translation and commentary and Glossorial Index.”. Editor of : “Zend and Pahlavi Izashne”, and the “KHORDEH AVESTA” : “The Minokherd”, etc. Author of a number of Sermons on the Zoroastrianism and many contributions on Avesta and Pahlavi literature.
Dr E W West and Dr Martin Hauge were 2 of the famous foreign scholars on Zoroastrian Religion. They established Zoroastrianism as a monotheistic Religion with the belief in one God, Ahura-Mazda.
The Dastur Hoshang Memorial Volume, papers on Iranian subjects in honour of the Late Shams-ul-ulama Sardar Dastur Hoshang Jamaspji was published in his honour by the Gatha Society of Bombay. Eminent Iranian scholars of the East and West answered the call of the society and contributed more than 75 articles for the Memorial Volume. Dastur Sheriarji Bharucha’s article on the universality of the Zoroastrian Religion is published here titled “Is Zoroastrianism Preached to All Mankind or to a Particular Race”.
Shams-ul-ulama, Sirdar Dastur Kaekobad Adarbad Dastur Noshirwan Jamaspasana (born 3rd November1861 A D) Present High Priest of the Shahanshshi Parsis in the Deccan, Calcutta and Madras and Malwa and had 23 Panthaks under him. (High Priest of the D B Mehta Zoroastrian Anjuman Atash Adaran Calcutta)
Editor of: “Kar-na-mak-I Ardeshir Babukan”, in the original Pahlavi text, transliteration, (with comparative passages from the Shah-Nameh), with notes and translation in Gujrati: “Dana va Mino-i-Khirad”, with notes and translations in Gujrati.
He represented the Community at the Parliament of World Religions where he spoke about the universality of the Zoroastrian Religion. Of a belief in one God Ahura-Mazda and that the religion was meant for all mankind
Dastur Kekobad Aderbad Dastur Noshirwan went from Calcutta to Rangoon to perform Bellas navjote. Bella was the orphan child of a Parsi mother. He accepted Bella as a Parsi as “she was born of a Parsi mother”. (Saklat vs Bella)
DASTUR KEKOBADS TELEGRAM TO MERWANJI SAYING HE HAS PERFORMED NAVJOTES SIMILAR TO BELLA’S.
‘I AM AN INDEPENDENT DASTUR’
A report was published in the Jame Jamshed when Dastur Kaikobad took office as High Priest:
(Jame Jamshed: 21st July 1908)
In the Parsi community presently there are three Baronets, two Knights and a Sardar and to that there is the addition of one more Sardar. The Honourable position of the Head Priest of the Parsis of Deccan and Malwa has been graced since many years by the descendants of Dastur Jamasp Aashana. Two Dastur Sahebs – the last of this clan – Dastur Nosherwanji Jamaspji and his brother Dastur Hoshangji held the position of the first grade of the Dasturs. Presently their successor, the new Dastur Kekobad Adarbad has also been conferred with the honour of being decorated as the Sardar of the first grade by the Honourable Government and has spread joy and cheers in the community. We have been observing that this Dasturi family of Poona has won the laurels and honours because of their wisdom, ability and determination. The native place of that family is Navsari and as a rule, the Athornan tribe of Navsari has been a success wherever they have been because of the wisdom of their heart. However, the Jamasp Aasha family of Poona have gained their fame due to their knowledge of the religion, their progressive habits in keeping with the current trends, and considering it as their ardent duty to make their fellow tribesmen achieve progress. Dasturs could be found in plenty today, but those that guide their tribe in accordance of the advanced knowledge of their religion to stride on the true path, are not known to us to be found except – those daring Dasturs from Poona”.
= Ervad Sheriarji Dadabhai Bharucha. Born in March 1843. Died 2nd September 1915A D).
More than once he refused to accept the offer of a Dastur’s office.
Late Instructor, of Zend, in Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy Madressa(Seminary), in Bombay, from 1865 to 1870: of Zend, Pahlavi and Persian, in Sir Cowasjee Jehangir Zarthosti Madressa, in Naosari, from 1877 to 1884. Author of “An Outline of Zend Grammar, Compared with Sanskrit”: of a Series of 6 Brochures on Zoroastrian Morals,(in Gujrati): of “Nirange Rististan (A Complete Account of Zoroastrian Customs and Ceremonies of the Dead): A Brief Sketch of Zoroastrian Religion and Customs, ( Specially ritten for the Religious Congress in connection with the World’s Colombian Exhibition , of 1893, at Chicago): of an essay on the Distair, ( especially written in the Oriental Congress in 1895 at Geneva): of “Collected Sanskrit Writings of the Parsis, in seven parts (some being still unpublished): of a “Scheme for the Education of Parsi Children in the tenets of the Zoroastrian Religion”: of “Lessons on Avesta and Pahlavi Pazand”: of Pahlavi-Pazand-English and English-Pahlavi-Pazand Glossary”: Translator of the “Pahlavi of Aderbad Marespand’s Pand-Nameh: Co-edited the Pahlavi “Dadestan-i-Dinik”, with the late Ervad T D Anklesaria. He has published numerous Lectures and Sermons on behalf of the “Rah-numane Mazdayasnan Sabha”. The “Gayan Prasarak Mandli” and the Fasli Sal Mandli”.
Note-To his personal, valuable assistance The Parsis in India are highly indebted.
Ervad Sheriarji Bharucha was one of the members of the Expert Committee on Religion appointed during the case Petit vs Jeejeebhoy to determine if conversion was a tenet of the religion. He gave evidence in favour of Ratan and Susaune. He wrote a” Brief Sketch of the Zoroastrian Religion and Customs” which was presented at the Parliament of World Religions in 1893. Swami Vivekananda made his historical speech at this Parliament of World Religions.
His opinion on acceptance of a person born in another faith and converted to Zoroastrian Religion is expressed in the letter he wrote to the Trustees of the Anjumans Atash Behram.
I have received your letter of this current month dated the 16th, and I am taking the liberty to answer the questions being asked in it
Any person of another faith, man or woman, who with a firm belief, free will, and a desire, wishes to enter our religion to perform his Navjote and accept him into the Zoroastrian Religion
If once an individual either born to people of another faith or born to a Zoroastrian has a Navjote performed, and has made the necessary solemn declaration in the presence of the priest thereby being accepted into the Zoroastrian Religion, from that point that person should be considered for all the rights as a Zoroastrian. This is my humble opinion
Ervad Sheriarji Dadabhai Bharucha.
Dr. Dastur Maneckji Nusserwanji Dhalla, Ph. D.
Present High Priest of North-Western India. (Born on 22nd September 1875 A D).
Author of: “Zoroastrian Theology, from the Earliest times to the Present Day”,(in English) : “Nyaneshis, or Zoroastrian Litanies
Dastur Dhalla says in his Autobiography, The Saga of a Soul, in 1942,
“It is possible that after decades the community may create an enlightened and educated priest-class and a popular understanding that to spread the good faith and to increase our strength is not only commensurate with the precepts of our religion but also in the interest of our social well-being.” Dastur Dhalla.
DASTUR DARABJI DASTUR MAHYARJI MEHERJIRANA HIGH PRIEST OF NAOSARI
The Anjuman’s Atash Behram wrote a letter to experts on Religion whether it was alright to accept people of other Religions into the Zoroastrian faith. Dastur Mahyarji’s reply:
January 3, 1904
Received your letter in which you have written, “Kindly express your opinion at your earliest with examples and arguments on the question of whether according to the teachings of our religion is it alright to accept people of other religions into the Zoroastrian religion”. I am taking the liberty to answer this question. According to the writings of our religious books, any person of another faith with a true belief, and who is anxious to enter our noble religion, has no restrictions shown him. There are certain proofs in favour of acceptance as found in:
Jashne Ha (Chapter) 30 Paragraph 11 Jashne Ha (Chapter) 43 Paragraph 6
Jashne A (Chapter) 46 Paragraph 13
Jashne A (Chapter) 45 Paragraph 1
Yajashne Ha (Chapter) 8 Paragraph 7
The final paragraph of the Vendidad Progress, etc.
Dorabjee Dastur Maheeyarji
These are prayers which any Parsi Zoroastrian in a state of ritual purity can recite at the fire temple or in the house, at any time of the day or night during the 10 days of the Muktād. The Local Time from midnight to 2 am should be avoided for all prayers, except for the Kasti.
Jasa me avanghe Mazda, jasa me avanghe Mazda, jasa me avanghe Mazda ! Amahe hutāshtahe huraodhahe, Verethraghnahe Ahura-dhātahe, Vanaintyāoscha uparatāto, Rāmano khāstrahe, Vayaosh uparo-kairyehe, taradhāto anyāish dāmãn, aetat te Vayo, yat te asti, Spento-mainyaom, thwāshahe khvadhātahe, Zravānahe akaranahe, Zravānahe daregho-khadhātahe. Recite fully 1 Ashem vohu.
Kerfeh mozd, gunāh guzāresh-nerā kunam, ashahi ravãn dushā-ram-rā, ham kerfeh hamā vehāne hafta keshvar zamin, zamin-pahānā, (here, pay homage to mother earth by taking your hand towards the ground, but not touching it) rud-darānā, khorshid-bālā, bundehād beresād, asho bed derji. Atha jamyāt yatha āfrināmi. Recite fully 1 Ashem vohu.
(Introduction: This prayer has to be done only during the first 5 days of the Muktād, that is, from Āshtād roj to Anerān roj of Aspandād māh. It is actually the 20th Hā of the Yasna, which is a commentary on the Ashem Vohu prayer. It one is not able to pray it, then one can pray the 1200 Ashem Vohus as given later on. It can either be done at the Agyari where the Muktād are observed, or it can be recited even at home.)
(Introduction: This prayer has to be done only during the first 5 days of the Muktad, that is from Āshtād roj to Anerān roj of Aspandād māh. It has to be done if one is not praying the Framraot Hā prayer. If one is doing the Framraot Hā prayer, there is no need to do this prayer. It can either be done at the Agyari where the Muktād are observed, or it can be recited even at home.)
Zoroastrians all over the world celebrate the last ten days of their religious calendar year, that is, from roj Ashtad mah Spandarmad to the Vahishtoisht Gatha, as the Muktad.
The word Muktad is also referred to as Muktāt, which is closer to the Sanskrit word ‘atman’ = soul from which it is derived – mukt ātmān. It is the Sanskrit rendering of the Avestan word ashāunām.
Muktad is a joyous occasion for remembering and welcoming the Fravashis. We need to show our love and gratitude to them, as they help us in many ways. We have to thank both the types of Fravashis – those helping Nature and those helping human souls (living as well as departed ones).
In the old books, among the list of duties of a Zoroastrian, the duty of celebrating the Muktad is foremost.
According to Saddar Bundahishn, during these days the souls of the departed come down to the earth. The Fravashis, who are the guardians of the soul, accompany them. All souls are liberated, from wherever they are, even from hell. The souls of the pious make merry as if a traveler has returned home. The souls of the evil do not experience much joy as they are in the dread of returning back.
Zoroastrians erroneously believe that Muktad are the days of remembering just their departed ones. In fact, Muktad are the days for the collective worship of all Fravashis, followed by the individual remembrance of souls and Fravashis of one’s dear departed ones.
During the days of Muktad, the Fravashis come collectively to this world and go to their respective houses. Whenever the Muktad are properly celebrated and the Fravashis are duly propitiated, the affairs of those people are successful, and there is all round prosperity. People are blessed with health, strength, happiness, protection and abundance of waters. The Fravashis even bless the city and nation in which they are remembered.
Preparation for Muktad:
In the past, especially when Muktad was mainly celebrated in the house, preparations were made in the house. The full house or a particular room was cleaned and white-washed. Provisions and fuel were stocked at least to last the days of Muktad and new Year. This was done so that one did not need to go shopping during these days. People, as far as possible do not go out of the house, as souls and Fravashis are at home, and it is not proper to leave them and go out.
Sometimes, a night-long vigil was also kept by people. Members of the house, especially women, were actively involved with preparations, and took a Nahan (ritual bath).
All family members used to contribute their share towards buying house-hold items. This sharing gave rise to the term Behru, a Persian word, which means “share”.
Today, what we understand by the term Behru is the consecrated vase or karasya in which water and flowers are kept during the days of Muktad. The Behru is symbolic of the unity of the family and does not necessarily represent the departed person.
Muktad in the house:
It is advisable to observe the Muktad in the house. If not the prayers, at least some arrangement can be done to welcome the Fravashis home. The main requirements for observing Muktad in the house are fresh water, flowers, a metallic vase or a Karasyo, a metallic or stone table, fire, divo and chanting of prayers. Flowers can be arranged in a vase filled with water and kept in the prayer room or a secluded corner of the house. Water and flowers in the vase have to be changed daily. Flowers and water are the visible emblems and symbolic reminders of the invisible souls and Fravashis.
Water and flowers are representatives of Khordad and Amardad Ameshaspand. They are the carriers of reward for the soul of the deceased . They also uphold life and so do Fravashis. Moreover, all the three are also carriers of divine blessings. Hence water, plant and Fravashis are remembered together at several places (Yasna 26, Farvardin Yasht 23 etc.)
Duration – 10 or 18 days :
Today generally we celebrate 10 days of Muktad, starting from Roj Ashtad of Mah Spandarmad and ending at Vahishtoisht Gatha. Zoroastrian texts have references to 10 Farvardegan days. (dasa pairi khshafnao in Farvardin Yasht XIII, Phl Vd.VIII.22, Sdr Bnd, 52.1-3, Persian Revayats, Dhabhar).
For several centuries in India, Muktad was celebrated for 18 days. It started on Roj Ashishwangh of Mah Spandarmad and ended on the dawn of roj Amardad mah Fravarden. The earliest evidence of 18 days Muktad is through references in a book which relate such celebrations since the 15th century.
The reason Muktad were lengthened to 18 days was that the 7 days after Vahishtoisht Gatha are important since they belong to 7 Amshaspands.
Hormazd Roj is Navroz, Ardibahesht roj is Rapithwin consecration, Khordad roj is Khordad sal. Hence these six days were clubbed together to form 18 Muktad days.
In the early seventies, especially due to the initiative taken by Dasturji Khurshed Dabu and others, Muktad were once again gradually reverted back to 10 days.
Hamaspathmaedhem Gahambar: The later five days of the 10 day Muktad are also the days of. the sixth and the last Gahambar, Hamaspathmaedhem.
According to Zoroastrian religion, each of the 6 creations was created during one of the Gahambars. Mankind was created on the last Gahambar.
Purpose of Muktad :
In most religious traditions, the departed ones are specially invoked once a year. The Hindus refer these days as Shradh and the Christians as Lent (before Good Friday). According to Zoroastrian tradition the Fravashis descend at the end of the year.
During the Muktad, one should avoid routine work, and devote time to the remembrance of Fravashis and do works of charity and social service.
Fravashis come whenever they are invited. However, during the days of Muktad all the Fravashis descend. When they come to the house they should be welcomed and worshipped. If they are happy, they will give blessings of prosperity and happiness. They should not go back dissatisfied. Great rewards can be obtained by the observation of Muktad.
Muktad is a time of REPAYING the debt of gratitude to our ancestors – those whom we know and the countless others whom we don’t know, but who have made a difference to our lives.
These days also help us to renew the MEMORY of our dear departed ones. They also help us realise our RESPONSIBILITY for the future generations. Just as we reap the rewards of the actions done by our past ancestors, we should do something for the future generations.
Special prayers for Muktad, especially for laity:
1. For the first five days, Framraot Hā (commentary of Ashem Vohu)
2. For the five days of Gathas, each Gatha on the respective day has to be recited.
3. Muktad no namaskar.
4. Lākhi nu bhantar 570 Yatha + 210 Ashem + 120 Yenghe (total 900) in the khsnuman of Sarosh – is to be recited daily for 10 days.
Customs for Muktad :
1) Not to cut hair and nails, so as not to create naso and impurity.
2) Not to stitch clothes or other such avoidable chores, so that one could devote time to prayers and remembrance of Fravashis.
Men should not engage in work except doing their duty and performing meritorious deeds, so that the Fravashis may return with delight and pronounce benedictions.
3) To keep fire in the house and offer fragrance to it, praise Fravashis, recite the Fravarden Yasht, perform Afringan and recite Avesta prayers so that the Fravashis experience comfort, joy and delight and confer blessings.
Some customs arose out of ignorance and were later discontinued. For instance, a Jama (long white robe) was hung on sugarcane sticks to remind of the presence of the souls of departed persons. There was also a custom of cleaning the corners of the house with a broom immediately after Muktad to make sure that all the souls and Fravashis depart, lest some may stay back and take back the soul of a living person as company.
Presently there is a practice of going from Agyari to Agyari to pay homage to Muktad. This practice is not in agreement with the spirit of Muktad, wherein we need to stay at home, pray and invite the Fravashis in our houses. Moreover, in the past Muktads were mostly celebrated at home and not in Agyaris.
Important days during Muktad :
1. Roj Marespand – Din Beh Mino Marespand: On this day Asho Zarathosht was accepted as a prophet by King Vishtasp.
2. Hamaspathmaedhem Gahambar days: To consecrate Gahambar preferably on Ahunavad Gatha or any of the five Gathas.
4. Vahishtoisht Gatha is known as Pateti – day of Repentance. On this day, preferably in the Ushahin Gah, Patet has to be recited to seek forgiveness for sins committed knowingly or unknowingly during the year.
The night of Vahishtoisht Gatha is also referred to as Valāvo, that is, send off (for the Fravashis).
Muktad are the days of heightened communication between the material and spiritual worlds– our need of health, happiness, peace and prosperity is fulfilled through the blessings of the souls and the Fravashis, and their need for our remembrance is fulfilled by our sincere prayers and invocations.
Sir Jivanji Jamshedji Modi’s Speech at the Parliament of World Religions.1893 at Chicago
The glory of the Parliament of World Religions was most obvious in the opening ceremony, on Sept. 11, 1893. More than 4000 people had gathered in the Hall of Columbus, when at 10oclock a dozen representatives from different faiths marched into the hall hand in hand. At the same time, the Columbian Liberty bell, in the Court of Honour tolled ten times, honouring the ten great world religions—Confucianism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Taoism, Shintoism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. Among the speakers Swami Vivekananda’s three speeches drew the most attention.
The aim of the conference was to bring together in conference, for the first time in history, the leading representatives of the great historic religions of the world and to set forth, by those most competent to speak, what are deemed the important distinctive truths held and taught by each Religion.
Ervad Sheriarji Dadabhai Bharucha was requested by Dadabhai Navroji to prepare a paper on the Zoroastrian Religion to present at the Parliament. In the published report of the Parliament of Religions 1893 (Vol 1, p. 58) the President writes “Hon. Dadabhoy Navrojee, M.P., of London, Jivanji Jamshedji Modi, Dastur Dr. Jamaspi Minocher Jamasp Asa, M.A. Ph.D., and Ervad Sheriarji Dadabhai Bharucha, took active interest in the Parliament and enlisted the cooperation of the Parsis of India “However, Ervad Sheriarji Bharucha was unable to attend the Parliament.
Sir Jivanji Jamhedji Modi addressed this historic Parliament of World Religions in 1893.
He gives a detailed account of the religion, manners and customs of the Parsis. On the lighter side, he mentions, that the qualifications for a good husband are that he should be young, handsome, strong, brave, healthy, diligent, industrious, truthful, wise and educated. A good wife must be wise, educated, modest, courteous, obedient and chaste”. “According to the sad-dar, a wife who gives herself to her husband three times a day-in the morning, afternoon and evening performs as meritorious an act as that of saying her prayers three times a day”.
He explains, “Zoroastrianism or Parsism, by whatever name the system may be called is a monotheistic form of Religion. It believes in the existence of one God Ahura Mazda”. We might hardly conceive what human belief would be now had Zoroaster never existed.
In the pantheon of Zoroastrian divinities, Bahman Amshaspand ranks next to Ahura Mazda. Bahman is an Amshaspand or Amesha Spenta (variously translated as Bountiful Immortal or Arch Angel) and is doctrinally seen as the guardian of one of Ahura Mazda’s good creations, namely animals – particularly Goshpand like cow, goat, sheep, etc. It is for this reason that devout Zoroastrians abstain from eating meat throughout the entire month of Bahman. Although, on a lighter note, a Zoroastrian foodie recently retorted that by this logic, during the month of Amardad, one should not be eating vegetables because Amardad Amshaspand is the guardian of one of Ahura Mazda’s other good creations – namely vegetation!
Observing The Month Of Bahman:
In the Zoroastrian calendar of three hundred and sixty-five days, there is not a single day for total fasting from food. The only fast that is traditionally observed is the fast from eating meat through the Bahman Mahino. No special prayers or ceremonies are performed during this month. One is simply expected to switch to a simple vegetarian diet, as an act of religious discipline.
There is no Yasht (Hymn) or Niyaesh (Litany) dedicated to Bahman. There probably was an Avestan Vohu Manah or BahmanYasht, but it is now lost to us over the vicissitudes of time. What we have is a Pahlavi commentary called, ‘Zand-e-Vohu Manah Yasna’. However, unlike Avesta and Pazand, Pahlavi is not Manthravani or the traditional language of prayer. Regardless, many do recite it.
Historically, Zoroastrians do not seem to have been a vegetarian community. In fact, one of the strongest arguments supporting the non-vegetarian theory is the observance of Bahman Mahino. It is often argued that if Zoroastrians are mandated by religious tradition to be vegetarian all year round, why does the community kick up all this fuss during the month of Bahman?
Understanding Bahman Or Vohu Manah:
In the Zoroastrian calendar, the second day of every month as well as the eleventh month of every year is dedicated to Bahman Amshaspand. Bahman is the Persian form of the Pahlavi word, ‘Wahman’ and the original Avestan term – Vohu Manah, which most scholars translate as ‘Good Mind’.
In the Gatha, Asho Zarathushtra asserts that the path leading to Ahura Mazda is through Vohu Manah. In other words, propitiating Bahman Amshaspand takes one closer to Divinity. Interpreted at an ethical level, exercising the right moral choices with the help of the good mind alone can take one closer to Ahura Mazda – the Lord or Master of all Wisdom.
In later texts, the Sudreh is referred to as Vohu Manah Vastra or the garment of Bahman; just the way the Kusti is referred to as the girdle of Sarosh Yazata. It is believed that wearing the Sudreh, which is the garment of Bahman Amshaspand, bestows the wearer with wisdom, while tying the Kusti over it, gives the wearer Sarosh Yazata’s divine protection and enhances the devotee’s higher consciousness.
So, Why Abstain From Eating Meat?
While at a moral and ethical level, Bahman represents the ‘good mind’, Zoroastrians abstain from eating meat on every Bahman Roj as also RojMohor, Gosh and Ram, as a mark of respect to the four Guardian Divinities of all Goshpands. Abstaining from eating meat throughout the month of Bahman is considered an act of religious merit to acquire wisdom through internal cleansing and exercising non-violence towards the Good Creation of Ahura Mazda. Even those who do not observe fasting from meat for the whole month try to avoid eating meat on Bahman Roj of Bahman Mah and the days dedicated to Bahman’s Hamkara (co-workers) – Mohor, Gosh and Ram.
Strictly speaking, throughout the month of Bahman, a Zoroastrian is expected to live on a simple diet of grain, fruit and vegetable. However, most Zoroastrians find it challenging to survive on what they call ‘ghaas-phoos’ and therefore most consider eating eggs quite acceptable, while some go further to believe that eating fish or even fowl would be perfectly legitimate. Aquatic creatures with fins and two legged fowls are not Goshpand, it is argued!
Abstain From Mental Violence:
It is said that we are what we eat and a vegetarian diet is generally considered good for spiritual development. However, in our opinion, there is no point in being a vegetarian and observing the month of the ‘good mind’ if it is observed only from the dietary point of view. It is not just a month to abstain from eating meat but a month to abstain from all forms of violence in thought, word or deed.
While observing a vegetarian diet for a month or for four days every month is a good and healthy change, there is no point abstaining from eating meat but making mincemeat of all rational thought, word and deed!
False Sense Of Superiority:
We have observed that vegetarians usually carry a certain sense of ‘false superiority’ and treat non-vegetarians with a sense of contempt, mentally, and sometimes vocally with their ‘holier than thou’ attitude! Some even castigate meat-eaters as ‘murderers’!
What one chooses to eat or not eat is a personal choice and there is absolutely no need for those observing a vegetarian diet to harbour a false sense of superiority or piety. Historically, some of the most notorious serial killers across the world have been vegetarian! By contrast, the gentle and compassionate Dalai Lama is not vegetarian. Jesus Christ, the apostle of love and forgiveness drank wine and mostly ate and served his followers bread and fish, including, at the last supper.
Also, let us not forget that towards the end of his life, Adolf Hitler followed a vegetarian diet. It is not clear when or why he adopted it, since some accounts of his dietary habits prior to the Second World War indicate that he consumed meat as late as 1937. However, by 1938, Hitler’s public image as a vegetarian was already being fostered, and from 1942, he self-identified as a vegetarian. The point is, did Hitler’s change in diet make him a better human being, let alone a non-violent human being? If anything, his vegetarian diet made him aggressive in his thinking, violent in his speeches and culminated in brutal acts of atrocity. The irony is, Adolf Hitler, in his private conversations with dinner guests, used to refer to meat-eaters as murderers!
Focus On Wisdom:
The point we are trying to drive home is please refrain from making a virtue about what you eat or do not eat during this month or throughout the year. Focus on the mind because all thoughts begin in the mind leading later to words and finally, to actions. There is no point being a vegetarian without first exercising temperance of the mind!
In the Gatha, Asho Zarathushtra urges us to acquire happiness through wisdom, which in turn can be acquired by reflective thinking and exercising moral choices within an ethical framework. Much later, the Chinese philosopher, Confucius echoed the same thought, “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First – by reflection, which is noblest; Second – by imitation, which is easiest; and Third – by experience, which is the bitterest.”
May Bahman Amshaspand Bless our community with Wisdom!
The IranShah Initiative provides a Precious Avenue to build a Priceless Life through the medium of Education With Vision 2020.
If understood with right knowledge and practised with innate wisdom, the precepts and practices of our ancient yet ageless and ever so refreshing religion can be a positive force in every Zoroastrian’s life.
However, the first step to leading a positive and purposeful life is to acquire the right knowledge from a reliable source because knowledge either shapes or shakes the destiny of one’s life.
The prime objective of this platform is to be just that. A knowledge and information hub where the youth around the world can raise the right questions and find the right answers.
We are neither dogmatic nor preachy in our approach. We respect every individual and his/her right to ask the right questions and become torch bearers of wisdom.
Our vision is to make every Zoroastrian youth across the Globe aware of his/her heritage with legitimate pride and soulful understanding.
The ultimate goal is to make every youth across the Globe a throbbing and living embodiment of the good religion in thought, word and deed.
Having said that:
We fervently believe that:
Knowledge Is Power.
If you want to add Power to your repertoire of knowledge about our
Priceless IranShah and Precious Religion,
we encourage you to send us your valuable question.
Our Distinguished scholar and community leader Noshir Dadrawala will answer questions about the religion, Iranshah, Udvada and any other related topics in a monthly update here.
Please check out his fabulous contribution to-date.
If you have a question please use the form on this page to send it to Noshir.
For several years, our own Ervad Jehan Bagli and the FEZANA team has worked hard to establish an academic program for advanced studies and research in the Zoroastrian religion, and ancient Iranian languages of our texts in order to perpetuate them and keep from becoming extinct. This will offer students an opportunity to pursue advanced studies in Zoroastrianism, understand and translate the ancient languages, and will increase awareness of Zoroastrianism worldwide.
In 2018 FEZANA set up a scholastic committee to evaluate all proposals and options received for establishing an Institute of Zoroastrian Studies in North America. The committee unanimously recommended the University of Toronto’s (UOT) proposal. After further discussions, FEZANA received in May 2019 a proposal from the UOT to establish a Professorship of Zoroastrian studies. Under this proposal, UOT will create the position in perpetuity with an investment by FEZANA of US $1.5 million, to be matched by UOT funding of CAN $1.5 million.
UOT has a stated objective “to become a leader in Zoroastrian studies in North America”, and seeks to add to the present faculty of Iranian studies to teach courses on Zoroastrianism.
The Zoroastrian Studies program will be maintained in perpetuity and administered by the Department of Near and Middle Eastern studies, Faculty of Arts and Science. It aspires “to permanently offer advanced training in [Avesta and Pahlavi] languages of the Zoroastrian scriptures and sacred texts. The aim is “to prepare a new generation of rigorously trained scholars who are dedicated to original research in primary Zoroastrian texts.”
As a Zoroastrian, I invite you to consider this very exciting proposal and donate before Nowruz 2020. To make your tax deductible contribution, visit https://fezana.org/donate/ and select the category: UNI OF TORONTO FEZANA PROFESSORSHIP.
If you prefer to mail a check, please make it out to “FEZANA” and in the memo indicate “UNI OF TORONTO FEZANA PROFESSORSHIP” and mail to: Rooky Fitter, FEZANA Treasurer, P O BOX 266, Sunset Beach, CA 90742.
CANADIAN DONORS: To Donate online, please click on “Donate” on the website of Zoroastrian Society of Ontario https://www.zso.org
To Donate by cheque, please use the special form provided in the ZSO “News” section of the ZSO website.
Friends, we need to act quickly as UOT’s offer for matching funds will expire on April 30, 2020.
Let’s not miss this opportunity if we are serious about promoting research in our ancient languages, texts, culture, traditions, etc. so that the world community is enlightened and our youth is empowered to continue to work with pride for generations to come.
RITUAL OF ‘BOI-DAADAN’ OR MAACHI OFFERING AT CHANGE OF GEHS IN ATASH-BEHRAMS AND ITS GREAT SIGNIFICANCE
‘In the period of Haavan Geh, Haoma Yazata approached Zarathushtra (who was then) cleansing the fire (stand) from all sides and reciting the Gathas.’ – (Hom Yasht 1, 1)
Note: This chapter is based on our late revered Dasturji Saheb Khurshed S. Dabu’s Gujarati booklet on this subject. Comments within brackets are my own-
(Ahura Mazda is omnipresent and He is mysteriously present in all His Creations, as a Ravaan/Fravashi in each one of us, and as an unseen fire energy instrumental in the creation and renovation of everything. As the ‘Son of Ahura Mazda’ and as his resplendent symbol the enthroned fire is worshipped. It has a soul in addition to its material counterpart and hence it is an independent, conscious entity).