Roj Sherevar Mah Bahman, 1382 Yz.
As a general practice, Frashogard avoids commenting on any events in the community. When I started this blog nearly five years ago, I consciously decided that the primary focus of Frashogard would be education. I just did not want to get bogged down in community politics and the non-stop slander and yellow journalism that the community press indulges in. But in the last week, two totally senseless, farcical and idiotic events have happened in our community which need to be brought to light.
The first is the ‘report’ in the Jame Jamshed paper, which is not a report but a verbatim copy-paste of a mail being forwarded around by thousands of Parsis to each other. It seems a ‘Navjote’ was performed in Toronto, by two priests, along with a female ‘Mobedyar’, 20 year old Mahshad Khosraviani. When I first received this mail, along with numerous pictures of the event, I just could not control my laughing.
As a priest with nearly 25 years of practice I have never, in my entire life, seen someone performing a Navjote with a book in their hand! As my sharp readers of Frashogard may know, the Navjote ceremony has no complicated prayers – merely the Din-no-Kalmo, the Hormuzd Khodae and Jasa me avangahe Mazda prayer, along with the very small beginning part of the Hormuzd Yasht. The ceremony ends with a Tandorasti. Now what can one say about the calibre of the “priests” and the lady in the so-called ceremony, when they have to use books to say these basic prayers? Can such persons really be entrusted with the serious and most spiritual ceremony of investing a child with the sacred Sudreh and Kusti?
We live in an age of make-believe. Artificiality, superficiality and fakeness pervades our entire society. We think one thing, we feel another and we say something totally at variance with our thoughts and feelings. In this age of lies and untruth, is it any wonder that these kind of fake ‘ceremonies’ take place? Do they have any authenticity in nature? Do they have any effect? Are they spiritually valid? NO! NO! NO! Just as small children act out events in plays, just as an actor plays his part in a movie and goes to the next, these make believe scenes have no real significance, except to feed the ego of those concerned, that they have embarked on a ‘path-breaking’ exercise. Yes it is path-breaking – in the sense that it breaks the Path of Asha which is the foundation of our religion.
I really admire young Mahshad’s spiritual quest and her desire to know more about our religion and its prayers. I wish her every success in her endeavours. I am proud that a young Zoroastrian feels so intensely for her faith. But does that give one the right to not only take part but actually officiate in a fundamental ceremony of the faith? As someone who is interested in the medical sciences, I can attend lots of medical conferences, chat with doctors, maybe even sit silently when they are examining patients. But would that give me the right to perform a bypass surgery? Should I talk about equality and say that it is my fundamental right to perform the surgery on some hapless victim? Has anyone in this whole ruckus thought about the spiritual repercussions on the children whose Navjote was allegedly done?
Years ago, when I was studying for my degree, we had a course in Business Law. There we studied the Law of Contracts. It was here that our professor educated us on the concept of void and void-ab-initio. Very briefly, when someone enters into a contract with another party, it is assumed that the other party is legally capable of entering into the contract. If the party is not legally capable of entering into a contract (such as a minor) then any acts done by that contract are said to be void-ab-initio – that is, it is as if the act never took place. The famous case law of Mohori Bibi vs. Dharmodas Ghose proved this axiom. (For some strange reason it also happens to be the only case law I remember after all these years!)
In the same manner, a lady, with a smattering of knowledge about the prayers and traditions of our religion is NOT competent to enter into a spiritual sacrament and confirm a child as a Zoroastrian. Thus even if she were to go through the sham of a ceremony, it would be void-ab-initio, simply because she has no right, authority and permission to do so. In effect, this sham performance that has taken place is much like a girl giving her doll a bath, dressing her up in nice new white clothes, and then tying a string around its waist. The girl child may believe that she has performed the Navjote of her doll, but we all know that neither the doll is a Zoroastrian, nor the child competent to make anyone a Zoroastrian. The only unfortunate thing in this case is that we are not dealing with an inanimate doll but a real child who has lost the opportunity to have her Navjote performed by a competent and fully qualified priest.
A lot of people have been talking about gender equality as the basis of this event. Is it really so? Are the genders really equal? If both were equal why would God have created a male and a female? Could not He have made us asexual – like bacteria which can multiply on their own? But no, He did not. God made male and female – both as equals, but both with well demarcated roles to perform. In the name of gender quality, can I demand tomorrow that males too should be given the right to get pregnant and have children? Can I demand that my flat chest should transform to milk-bearing breasts when a child is born in the family so that I too can breast feed the child? Is it not unfair that only the mother can have that unique prerogative which so binds a child and its mother together? Is it fair for us fathers? When will we realize the distinction between equality as in the rights and prerogatives in the legal sense, in terms of property and assets, and distinguish between spiritual differences which are unique and cannot be surmounted?
Is it necessary for a lady to be a priest to realize the majesty of her religion? Does she serve the Lord less, by being a member of the laity? Is she unequal in the eyes of the Lord than the priest who toils in the Agiary? No! She is on the same, if not higher position than the priests based on her quantum of good thoughts, words and deeds, which is the sole measure of a person’s greatness. Each profession and vocation is unique. Each has its own set of rules and traditions. I am not even going into the purity angle simply because people who talk about this gender equality do not believe in such issues. Our religion gives great importance to our ladies. We never put them down, we never segregate them, we never leave them out of important decisions. But that is not a license to do as one pleases.
I am also extremely disappointed that the community’s newspaper Jame Jamshed has chosen to splash this news and give it undue and unnecessary publicity. In doing so, it has once again lost its moorings and forgotten its unique place in the community. Not content with doing so in its print version, the paper has also posted the same pictures and news on its Facebook page, perhaps with a view to encouraging more Parsis to visit its page and increase its readership numbers.
I am also surprised by the silence of all our High Priests, so called scholar-priests, practicing Panthakies, Principals of our Athornan Madressas and the other worthies of the community. Where are you? Where are your letters of condemnation, your scholarly arguments, your high faluting language and your scriptural references? I have yet to see even one email from any one of these. Is it not their responsibility as leaders of our beloved community to get up and take a stand. Where are you?
Readers of Frashogard, you are aware of the name of Manchersha Master, the erudite Principal of the Surat Mission School and the man who first heard Ustad Saheb speak in public and who persuaded the Master to come out in the open. Manchersha used to often say: “All fraud carries within the germs of its own destruction”. There is no sanctity, no approval, no authenticity about this act. Just like those sham marriages and ‘Navjotes’ being performed by rogue ‘priests’ in Parsi baugs of parents of indeterminate genealogy have no spiritual validity. My traditional readers, there is no need to get very upset or agitated about these events. They arise, they foam and they subside. Because they have no validity, because of their fraudulent nature, they are disease-bearing, they are infected. They will destroy themselves, sooner rather than later. Their own poison will act against them. They are doomed to failure.
My dear readers, remember the words of our revered Ustad Saheb, who often used to say: “Mor naachi naachine potana pag taraf joene chevate rade” tem komma sudharavalao thodi dini andhadhundhi ane khanakharabi ubhi kari sakshe pan chevate teo potej naashne panthe pugshe.Je kharabio peda padvani che tene koi purepuri roki shakvanu nathi,pan parsi kom ane zarthosti dharmane gebi pasbani thaine ubhi rehvani che.
“Just as peacock will dance in all its finery, but look at its ugly legs and have no option but to cry, so also the Reformists will be able to create some disturbance and disorder, but in the end they will be destroyed. The various offences and misdemeanours which are to take place in our community cannot be completely stopped by anyone. But the Hidden Masters will ensure the Eternal Protection and Preservation of our dear Faith.”
Remember these memorable words of our Master, uttered nearly a hundred years ago and breathe deeply. In your prayers, dear readers of Frashogard, send up a silent but deep request to God that the Hidden Masters of our religion will never falter in their great vigilance and that they deal a crushing blow to the fake, illegal and shameless activities of these misguided souls. May they see the Real Light and may our religion remain pristine and perfect for ever. They may win this skirmish, but the ultimate victory will always be ours. And it will always be so.
I will talk about the other farcical event tomorrow.
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram