Roj Khordad Mah Fravardin, 1379 Yz.
A very happy and prosperous 1379 to all Parsis and a radiant Khordad Sal too!
My apologies for not updating the blog for the last few weeks since I was tied up in the Muktad preparations and prayers in our Daremeher at Jogeshwari. Now that the Muktad are drawing to a close and just one night’s prayers remain, I thought it apt to pen a few words on one of the most auspicious days of the Parsi calendar – Khordad Sal, the birthday of our Prophet Zarathushtra.
Many Parsis are not aware of the exalted spiritual status of the Prophet, and many seem to think of him as a common man, who was somewhat inspired by God to start a new religion. But that view is very far from how the Avesta portrays the Prophet. In our sacred scriptures, Prophet Zarathushtra is given the status of a Yazata – a Divine Being, worthy of worship. His thoughts, words and deeds are described as being of the Highest Inspiration (see Yasna 28.0) and he is venerated by the entire creation as well as the Amesha Spentas.
Every Parsi, at the time of his or her Navjote enters into a Divine Relationship with Zarathushtra. The Fravashi of the Prophet Zarathushtra is present at the time of every child’s Navjote (which is why the Navjote should be done in the early morning in the sacred precincts of an Agiary or Atash Behram and not in a hotel or a open Baug in the presence of non-Parsis), and blesses the child and enters into a lifelong relationship. As the child prays the ‘Jasa me avangahe Mazda’ prayer, he or she gives a solemn vow to the Fravashi of the Prophet Zarathushtra present there. The child undertakes to follow the Mazdayasni Zarathushtrian faith only and promises to uphold and practice the teachings of only our religion. Of course, given the sad state of religious education in our community today, all this is not imparted to the child (although I think it needs to be imparted to the parents first!)
In a sense, therefore, the Navjote is much like a marriage. In a marriage, two individuals come together in holy matrimony, and following the prescribed procedures are joined together in marriage. During the Ashirwad ceremony, both the bride and the groom promise to remain faithful to each other and to not be led astray by any external temptations. That is the reason why adultery is one of the most serious sins in our religion (as is true in most other religions too). In the same manner, every child undergoing the Navjote enters into a exclusive Divine Relationship with Prophet Zarathushtra whereby he/she agrees to follow the practices and traditions of the Zarathushtrian faith only and not to be led astray by any external short term temptations.
It is therefore most surprising to see that nearly 90% of Parsis practice religious adultery and infidelity!
What do I mean by that? Religious adultery means worshipping any God of another faith, keeping any idol or photograph of such God in the house of a Parsi, attending any religious ceremony or partaking of any holy food (prasad) of such ceremony. If we observe these conditions carefully, we can see that nearly 90% of Parsis are guilty of these practices. In my visits to hundreds of Parsi homes to perform Jashans or other ceremonies, my interaction with a large segment of the Parsi populations in Mumbai and other cities in India and abroad, I am most pained to see that a large and overwhelming majority of them practice some or other form of religious adultery.
My simple question to Parsis is: WHY DO YOU DO THIS? Why are we so lacking in our own faith that we have to take recourse to sundry other gods and godmen of dubious origin? Why is it that more Parsis are seen at certain shrines than their own Fire Temples, some of which don’t have a single visitor for days together? Why are Parsis so open hearted when it comes to donating for a Ganpati Mandal or a dargah but shrink away from buying good quality sandalwood for their Padshahs or to even buy a decent Kusti for themselves, preferring to wear worn out and tattered Kustis whose lars have disappeared ages ago?
The standard answer I get, even from well educated and pious Parsis: “ema su thayu?” (what’s wrong with that?) EVERYTHING IS WRONG WITH THAT. Any place of worship, of any religion, is a consecrated and sacred area, filled with certain Divine Vibrations which resonate at a frequency which is most suited to those BORN INTO THAT FAITH. A visitor of a different faith, whose soul vibrates at a very different frequency causes a GRAVE DISTURBANCE in the sacred area by his dissonance. THIS IS THE MAIN REASON WHY NON-PARSIS ARE NOT ALLOWED INTO FIRE TEMPLES. Every group of souls belonging to a particular faith have a specific spiritual bandwidth at which their souls exist. All the practices, beliefs, food habits, religious ceremonies, methods of worship, traditions, are built around the core reasoning of MAINTAINING, ENHANCING AND STRENGHTENING THEIR SPIRITUAL FREQUENCIES. Any person of alien faith, with however good intentions he may have, by entering their place of worship, or practicing their traditions, or by reciting their mantras or sacred chants, IS GUILTY OF CAUSING SPIRITUAL DISORDER.
Maybe some Parsis will not believe in this. For them a more crude example. We may have several friends of the opposite sex. Yet our relationship with our own spouse is unique and totally non-comparable to any other friendship or relationship. Can we replicate the deep relationship we share with our husband/wife on the physical/emotional/spiritual level with another friend and then keep on saying “ema su thayu?” WOULD YOUR OWN SPOUSE TOLERATE THAT? WOULD YOU TOLERATE YOUR SPOUSE DOING THAT? THEN WHY DO WE PRACTICE SPIRITUAL AND RELIGIOUS ADULTERY EVERY DAY AND NIGHT OF OUR LIVES?
I am ashamed to see idols and photographs of other religious figures occupying the pride of place in Parsi homes. Are we not even aware that idol worship (“ozdist parasti” in the Patet Pashemani prayer) is one of the most serious and heinous of crimes in our religion? After non-Zoroastrian idols I now see a disturbing trend of statues/figures of Prophet Zarathushtra adorning Parsi homes and most Parsi car dashboards! THERE CAN BE NO IDOLS OF ZARATHUSTHRA! At the most a pictorial depiction is enough. The correct image for all Parsis to visualize and meditate on is the image of Shah Lohrasp, the white bearded saintly figure holding a bow in his hand, generally shown on the left of the photographs of Prophet Zarathushtra on the right and the Sacred Fire in the centre.
My anger and feeling of shame increased many bounds and I spent a restless night yesterday when a family with whom we have regular contact met my wife and mentioned in passing: “We are going to “pagey paro” at the Ganpati Mandal nearby…” Yet the same family has had no time to visit the Fire Temple on the occasion of Khordad Sal till the time of writing this blog entry! What kind of upbringing are we giving our children? Parsis see nothing wrong in sending kids to the Agiary only on the days of the exam! But hey, how about a thank you visit once the results come in! I mean, how much more opportunistic and downright insulting can we get? Have we reduced our sacred relationship with the Padshah and our beloved Prophet Zarathushtra to just a bargain and sale counter? Have we just totally lost it? If this is the state of affairs, I honestly feel that we as a community have no reason or justification to exist. It is better if we were to go extinct.
My fellow Parsis! We are living in difficult and trying times, which are going to get progressively worse, specially for our community. In these times we need to stick to our faith, cherish the special relationship we have with the Atash Padshah and Prophet Zarathushtra, help each other out, give correct religious instruction to our kids, keep the Manthras on our lips at all times and be more and more aware of our glorious faith, and its most exalted Prophet. Yet everyday brings more pain and heartburn for me when I see one family after the other go down the road to self-destruction, adopting the horrendous practice of religious adultery and infidelity. Our stupid media is adding fuel to the fire, by glorifying stories of so called “secular” Parsi families bringing home Ganpati idols for worship and eventual immersion. And more Parsis are drawn to this circus. Yet I wonder how come Parsis have forgotten to welcome the Fravashis of their own departed members to their houses during the 18 days of the Muktad, which earlier used to be observed in every Parsi household with great fervour and piety.
May this new year 1379 Yz. be one where Parsis give up these alien practices and remember the vow they gave to their Prophet Zarathushtra and come back to their own faith.
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram