Roj Dae-pa-Din Mah Bahman, 1379Yz.
Today, July 7, 2010 marks the 83rd death anniversary of our beloved Master, Ustad Saheb Behramshah Nowroji Shroff. Ceremonies to mark this occasion are taking place not only in the Ustad Saheb Behramshah Nowroji Shroff Daremeher at Jogeshwari, but also in various Agiaries and Atash Behrams throughout India. That a person is remembered so many years after his death with such reverence and awe is in itself a miracle. We have seen glimpses of his rich and chequered life in our series through the last year. I intend to bring out this series on his life in a book form so that more of our community may know the real facts behind this most amazing person.
Several Parsis, especially those who claim to be “well read, modern, independent thinkers” become very uncomfortable whenever the name of Ustad Saheb is taken. Even if an explanation for a difficult point in the religion is given to them, the fact that the source of this explanation comes from the revelations of Ustad Saheb makes them immediately reject the same, without applying their famous “rational mind” to the explanation.
They also seem somewhat amused by the facts of the life of Ustad Saheb and the manner in which he was blessed to visit the Abed Sahebs of Demavand. One such “rational man”, writing in the Parsiana magazine some time ago made a vigorous demand that we should rise above such “troglodyte residents”. (Troglodyte means people who live in caves.) He felt very ashamed to even accept that the Zoroastrian religion could be preserved by some “primitive cave dwellers” speaking in a fancy language.
Yet the same rational Parsis have no compunction in bowing their heads before various god men of dubious repute of other religions, who indulge in hocus-pocus and glib talking, and who invariably get caught in immorality or financial capers later on. Rational Parsis flock to the shrines of some important holy men of India, yet refuse to believe that one of their own could have been fortunate to have received the blessings and teachings of our own hidden sages! I have met Parsi men and women who are at the very top of their respective vocations – top shot lawyers, doctors, scientists, judges, artists and many more who adore and worship some or other non-Parsi god man or are deep into the Rosicrucian Order, Freemasonry or Yoga. When they hear the details about the life and miracles of Ustad Saheb they exclaim: “aapra maa bhi evu kai hoy?” Some have changed their entire life after hearing about Ustad Saheb and after exploring his teachings with an open mind. Others would love to change, but are caught in a social trap of their own making – “loko su kehse?”, whereas others become very enthusiastic in the beginning but when the chapter on Tarikats and truth is explained, miraculously become most un-energetic! “Arre baap re, aay badhu kon paaley ne muke!”
Some time ago, a vicious campaign was started on one of the Parsi Zoroastrian mailing lists on the internet by an American Parsi. He claimed that all those who believed in Ustad Saheb were traitors and deviants, since (in his words) “they gave more importance to Ustad Saheb than to Prophet Zarathushtra!” He even went to the extent of counting how many times I had mentioned the words “Ustad Saheb” in my writings compared to how many times I had written “Prophet Zarathushtra!” Based on this very methodological and original research, he came to the conclusion that I (and others who write about Ustad Saheb ) loved Ustad Saheb more than our Prophet.
I had only one reply to this scholar. Ustad Saheb was the first person to reveal the Yazatic status of Prophet Zarathushtra. Ustad Saheb revealed that Zarathushtra was not some mortal poet, roaming from country to country till he finally managed to convince King Vistaspa and established the religion after doing some hocus-pocus and curing the King’s favourite horse! For the first time ever, Ustad Saheb explained each and every miracle listed in the Dinkard and other Avesta scriptures and gave a rational, fascinating and most satisfying explanation for all these incidents. And what have our scholars done? They are not even able to agree as to whether Zarathushtra existed! (Yes, that is right. Some scholars claim that he was a “mythical figure”, who never actually existed!) They are not able to agree on a date or even the century in which he was born, the place where he was born, and substantial details of his life and miracles and claim that throughout his life of 77 years, Zarathushtra merely composed 17 chapters of poetry (the Gathas), which by the way, they are unable to translate with any reasonable certainty! While one scholar translated a particular Avesta word in the Gathas as meaning ‘salvation’, another translates the same word as ‘homosexuality’! What great research! What great uplifting and devotional fervour! God save us from these scholars! So who loves Zarathushtra more, those who talk about Ustad Saheb or these modern day scholars, for whom religion and controversy is their bread and butter!
In every religion and in every mystic tradition, the Guru or Ustad or Master is always immortalised. Are the followers of Ramakrishna less devoted to Lord Rama? Do the worshippers of Khwaja Chisti hold him more important than Allah? Do the lovers of Mother Teresa or Saint Xavier disregard Lord Christ? Are the followers of Kabir more loyal to him or to their respective gods? There is a beautiful couplet of Saint Kabir, where he explains the “problem” of “choosing” between Guru and God. Saint Kabir writes:
Guru, Govind dono khade
kaake laagoon Paaye?
balihari Guru aapne
Govind diyo bataaye
When both Guru and the Lord Govind stand before me
Whose feet should I fall at?
Of course I choose the Guru – through whose mercy and intercession
I realised and had the Darshan of Lord Govind!
Dear readers! This is the beauty of mysticism! There is no choosing or who is higher or lower! Without the revelations of our beloved Ustad Saheb, how could we have realized the brilliance and majesty of our religion and its most holy Prophet of Prophets! If we do love and take the name of our Ustad Saheb it is because he has truly revealed what or Zoroastrian religion really means, and has turned around my own life, and the lives of many other like me who were disillusioned and demoralized by the bumbling ‘research’ of our scholars and so called community leaders.
On this 83rd death anniversary of Ustad Saheb, we renew our pledge to him and our Prophet Zarathushtra. We revitalize ourselves to write more and more about him and to demonstrate and show to our community in these troubled times, that truly our religion is mazishtahecha, vahishtahecha, sraeshtahecha – the most majestic, the best and the most beautiful!
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram