A box of tissues for Mr. Jehangir Patel please!

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Roj Govad Mah Dae, 1385 Yz.

The ubiquity of Whats-app means that even on days when prayer and reflection is necessary, the peace is broken by the incessant beep announcing one more message. When such beeps resound early in the morning, their shrillness seems even more pronounced and urgent…is it some good news, or a harbinger of doom, some calamitous occurrence or a friend on another continent sending a message oblivious of the time difference?

This morning’s non-stop messages from a stream of friends and colleagues was none of the above. As I sat down to read the hastily scanned photos of some newspaper article, my curiosity levels went up and then down, replaced by a sense of bewilderment… the author’s thinking process seemed disoriented; he jumped from one seemingly unconnected topic to another, interspersed with deep pangs of regret, sorrow, frustration, even anger! By the time I finished, my heart was suffused with deep compassion and an overwhelming need to reach for the nearest box of tissues – to pass on to Mr. Jehangir Patel, Editor of Parsiana, who seemed to have jumped from the boundaries of his irrelevant magazine to the national media…ah! some recognition at last!

But what was this? Not some jubilant celebration of another ‘Navjote’ of the child of religiously indeterminate parents, neither the raucous call to attention -‘we are dying out, let’s intermarry and die out quicker!’, nor some fake seminar or government sponsored exhibition showing Parsi dodos on the way to extinction…, nor some un-scholarly paper spouting views a million miles removed from true Zoroastrianism…

This article was none of the above…It was a cry of frustration, a wail of helplessness, a moan of resignation, a howl of indignation…all interspersed with an audacious attempt to attract the attention of trouble makers… ‘have you finished with other communities? please please, now it’s the turn of the Parsis! Won’t you come and further wreck our already troubled institutions? Won’t you come and save us from the traditionals?’ Really Jehangir, you have outdone yourself this time! Wah Saheb! Wah!

What was the real crux of Jehangir’s article? What is the take-home message? What do we infer, apart from the obviously unhinged state of the author’s nerve-wracked mind?

It is this: that despite the best attempts of the last one hundred years; in spite of the obscene amounts of money used to coerce, buy, threaten and bribe ‘priests’; regardless of the very top echelons of the Parsi community showing their disdain for traditional Zoroastrianism; notwithstanding all the scholarly and not-so-scholarly articles published in so-called community magazines like the one headed by Mr. Patel;  even with the intense publicity and brazen displays of photos ‘commemorating’ and ‘honouring’ fake, illegal, illicit and totally spurious ‘Navjotes’ and ‘weddings’; in the face of long sentimental articles on new ‘prayer halls’ and ‘cremations’ and ‘burials’; despite the alarming calls to attention highlighting fake statistics and spurious tallies of births and deaths; and after spending millions of rupees of the community’s precious resources in needless litigation, despite all this and so much more, Mr. Patel and others of his ilk just can’t understand – why is the community still so resolutely orthodox? Why are the traditionals still flourishing? Why did only 15 hands out of 180 in a hall of 16-year-olds go up when asked whether they would marry outside the community? Why are female Parsis allowing themselves to be ‘discriminated’ against? Why no uproar in our community, when others are going berserk, demanding entry into places of worship which have been traditionally restricted by age or sex?

Much like the honourable Brutus on the streets of tempestuous Rome,  Mr. Patel tries to arouse, instigate and rabble-rouse the mindless crowd of curious onlookers in the national media, after having failed to achieve much within the community. ‘Come, come, fight for us! Save us! Free us from the yoke of the traditionals!’  It is not that Mr. Patel does not love us traditionals. It’s just that he loves the community more! He is a learned man, who cites legal cases and definitions, drawing conclusions that would make even a first year law college student shake his head in disbelief! But of course, Mr. Patel is an honourable man!

I am so glad that a firm reformist like Mr. Jehangir Patel has finally belled the cat and called the sugar and milk story what it really is – a bogus fabrication! Perhaps that will stop some of our superbly intelligent but religiously ignorant Parsi hoi-polloi repeating the same ad nauseum, specially in front of political leaders at so-called Utsavs. It was our revered Master, Ustad Saheb Behramshah N. Shroff, who first clarified that the story was wrong – no sugar was used, it was the gold ring on the finger of Dastur Nairyosangh Dhaval which was dipped into the bowl of milk – signifying our intention to settle at the very bottom of Indian society, maintaining our unique religious and racial identity, and yet proving as precious as the ring. If it were sugar, we would all have disappeared long ago! Now wouldn’t that have been nice, Mr. Patel!

Mr. Patel, Parsis were only 2000 men, women and children when they landed on the shores of Sanjan. They did not start a community magazine at that time, they did not debate whether a mere 2000 would survive in the millions around them, they did not indulge in inter-community marriages to increase their number, they never held World Zoroastrian Congresses to ponder over their future, nor did they waste their precious resources in needless fights and litigation.

No Sir, the first thing they did after landing was to meet the generous King and ask for a very secluded place – a place so secluded that no non-Parsi could even hear what was going on – leave alone see, or participate. There they got together, and under the leadership of the Master Dastur Nairyosangh Dhaval and His team of Spiritual Adepts, Alchemists, skilled workers and others who had nothing to offer but pure labour of love for the religion – those 2000 Parsis – men, women and children set up a most powerful spiritual institution – The Pav Mahel built around the Iranshah.

It is this Spiritual Institution that is our Lord and Master – it is this Pav Mahel that has sustained us for 1200 years in this country. It is the power in this unique Foundation that has made us flourish and show our mettle and nobility, such that a mere 1 lakh can shine in 1 billion.

And it is this hidden power which resides within the Sanctum of the Iranshah that is holding this community together, despite the best efforts of Mr. Patel and many others like him. And it is this same power which will continue to flummox them and overturn their nefarious activities. They may have all the money, all the sophistication, all the influence, they may even win over those who are supposed to be the very Custodians of this Great Institution, but in the end they will never achieve success. They will keep failing.

Nearly a century ago, our revered Master Ustad Saheb Behramshah said: “Mor naachi naachine potana pag taraf joene chevate rade tem kom na sudharavalao thodi dini andhadhundhi ane khanakharabi ubhi kari sakshe pan chevate teo potej naashne pathe pugshe. Je kharabio peda padvani che tene koi purepuri roki shakvanu nathi, pan parsi kom ane Zarthosti dharamni 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.”

I encourage readers of Frashogard to each send a box of tissues to Mr. Patel in sympathy of his great grief.

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram

p.s.: Mr. Patel’s article can be found here: http://www.mumbaimirror.com/mumbai/others/A-Parsi-Trupti-please/articleshow/52581106.cms



  1. RUMI PATEL  June 4, 2016

    Dear Ervad Marzban J. Hathiramji,

    All these years we Parsis have been living in the false notion with regards to the sugar & the milk incident after we arrived in India, but after reading your mail, I am enlightened by the actual story of the ring & the milk incident.

    If I would not have read your mail, I would have been really ignorant.

    Thanks for writing such mails which help the entire community understand the roots of our Parsi community.

    With regards,

    Rumi Patel

  2. Hanoz Mistry  June 4, 2016

    Brilliant retort…as usual.

  3. Jamshir  June 5, 2016

    I am amazed at ur narrow minded and brainwashed thinking…Ur article almost made me laugh if I was not so shocked at ur stupidity and ignorance. It is “Orthodox traditionalist” that keeps us from change…I feel sorry that u are afraid of change. It is people like u that allows hate, discrimination, pettiness all in the name of “religion”…I hope u get what u deserve….

  4. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  June 5, 2016

    Hi! I could say exactly the same for you but then there would be no difference between you and me! We all get only what we deserve, nothing more, nothing less. ‘Akem akai, vanguhim ashim vanghaove’ i.e., evil to the evil-doer, good blessings to the good…as revealed in the Gathas.
    Thanks for stopping by…

  5. Jamshir  June 5, 2016

    Just answer one question…
    How is it ok for the husband of a non Paris wife and his kids to entre the agyari but not the wife of a non Paris husband?
    I would like to hear ur logic.

  6. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  June 5, 2016

    Thank you for an intelligent question. There is no discrimination between the sexes. As per the Zoroastrian religion, it does not matter which spouse is non-Parsi. Neither offspring of male intermarrieds or female intermarrieds can be passed through a ‘Navjote’, neither spouse can enter any place of worship. The rule is same for males and females. However, due to a presumed patriarchal society, exceptions were made to this rule at the beginning of the 20th century, the repercussions of which are being felt to this day.

    I understand your anger and angst. I am with you on this. Some persons who claim to be traditional still espouse this patriarchal setup. A true traditional will never allow it. The view of the Frashogard blog and Khshnoom is very clear. Inter marriage for either sex is an automatic disqualification.

  7. Delnavaz  June 5, 2016

    thanks for the article and your response to Jamshir. Protecting our religious traditions does not make us racist. on the contrary our forefathers who were extremely orthodox, did more for other communities than folks like Jamshir can imagine.

  8. K Viccaji  June 5, 2016

    Now that it has been made clear that there is no ‘discrimination only against women’, I wonder what @Jamshir and his ilk will come up with next to support their so-called “agenda for change”.

    And it’s not even that they are unaware that male intermarriage is wrong.

    For them, it is simply a case of one wrong (male intermarriage supposedly being accepted),
    justifying the calls for another wrong (female intermarriage too should be accepted)!

  9. Mahrukh Dadabhoy  June 6, 2016

    Dear respected Ervad Saheb Marzban Hathiram
    As always, an excellent post.
    Thank God for people like you who guide the community and awaken religious fervour in all who read your posts.
    May God bless you and keep you safe and happy always.
    Respectful regards
    Mahrukh Dadabhoy

  10. Aspi Colah  June 6, 2016

    Excellent article as always Ervad Saheb Hathiram…also your response to that ignoramus @Jamshir. You are way too kind and compassionate in your response to him. We have many many like these here in the United States…the ignorant and the arrogant, an absolute apathy in the community here perpetuated knowingly and willingly by our community leaders.

    I console myself to the age old wisdom of my grandmother and to what she always said ” Dikra…every new generation the garbage surfaces and creates a big uproar and a stink…only to be washed away with the waves of times. Only the core group survives…those that continue in the time honored traditions, values and rituals of our sublime faith”

  11. Vispi  June 6, 2016

    Sir, Every time I read one of your articles, I learn something new. People like you are our Ratheshtars protecting our religion against mindless change, which any person in his/her right senses know that any such change; particularly, the licence to inter-marry will not only sound death knell for our great community, but will surely wipe out the dedicated practitioners of our noble religion. The progeny of inter-marriages will totally be ignorant of our religious tenets; and at best go on repeating ‘Good Thoughts, Good words, good Deeds’, as if that is all that is to our religion. Our religion can only be truly practised by those who have a sense of belonging to it. The difference is similar to that between foreign mercenaries(fighting for gains) and soldiers, who are citizens of a country, who are willing to lay down their lives for their country,without any expectations. Ustad Saheb’s message really brings hope and gives assurance that our community and religion will be looked after and is safe.


    Marzban Ignore Jamshir . quite some time back you asked me to do the same if you remember .Ushta te .

  13. Hutoxi  June 7, 2016

    Fabulous retort to Jehangir Patel and Jamshir, Er. Marazbanji.

  14. Nazneen Karbhari  June 7, 2016

    Hello Ervad Saheb,
    Nice to read one more of your insightful article
    Hope you’re doing well.
    Our best wishes to you

  15. Firdosh  June 15, 2016

    Remarkable reply to Mr Jehangir Patel, Er Saheb. I hope you will continue to keep up your good work and write many more such articles. Thank you. Firdosh Sabawalla.

  16. Farzaan  June 16, 2016

    The jiram of a child is passed on from the fathers side, this is a fact of nature, whether people like it or not. There are certain kriyas to be performed in case of a child born of a parsi father and a non-parsi mother, which only an amaldar dastur can perform and as we don’t have any amidst us in the present times, it’s better not to accept children of such parentage. As far as ‘gender equality ‘ is concerned, it’s an evil concept which has been brought about by Angra Mainyu in this small kayamat we are facing, it doesn’t exist in nature.

  17. Jamshir  June 17, 2016

    Sorry for not replying earlier. I was travelling. I would like to understand one thing from you or rather i would like to understand your ‘view point’, cause some of the people i’ve asked share the same view point regarding conversion but have totally different rational for it. I would like to understand your rational.

    So my question is – Why is it that no one can convert to our faith? If we believe ours the one true faith/religion, why is it that we are denying others from also practising and following gods path, what he wants from us or has revealed to us?

  18. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  June 17, 2016

    Welcome back!
    Nice question. Here’s my reply:
    1. We believe that just as in case of our parents, we don’t decide or choose who they are, in the same way, religion is also predetermined by God and by birth. If a person of one faith ‘converts’ then he assumes a number of things:
    a. He has the capacity to understand all the facets of his faith and finds something lacking in it
    b. He has the capacity to understand all the facets of another faith and finds some attractive in it
    c. He has the capacity to compare 2 faiths, or rather their Prophets and teachings and decide which or who is better
    d. He assumes that religion of his birth is only a matter of accident and therefore allowed to change

    2. Our understanding is that all religions are a way to reach God. We believe all religions will lead to God. We do not claim exclusivity (like some other religions) that only those who follow Zoroastrianism will achieve God or reach ‘Heaven’ (a most nebulous concept).

    3. The Zoroastrian religion believes the Mazdayasna Faith to be the mother of all religions. From this mother, many faiths have branched out, including Z. Which is why we recite in the Jasa me avanghe Mazda prayer “Mazdayasno ahmi, Mazdayasno Zarathushtrish” (I am a Mazdayasna, a Zoroastrian Mazadyasna).

    4. We believe that based on the Soul (Ruvan’s) level of spiritual progress, it is placed in a particular religion, where is it most likely to flourish and progress. As it’s progress hastens and its Spiritual Quotient increases, the Soul moves from different faiths ultimately achieving its Frashogard or Salvation.

    5. Thus for each Soul, the religion it was born into is the best. (Which is also why all religions claim to be the best – and all are right, for the Soul at that time of its Spiritual Progress)

    Hope this helps!
    Er. Marzban J. Hathiram

  19. Jamshir  June 17, 2016

    So what your saying is all religions are true and that you are only supposed to follow the religion in which you have been born in because that is Gods plan.

    Somehow this logically doesn’t make sense. Please help me understand.

    It’s a nice concept and much better than thinking that I am right and all others are wrong but where it doesn’t make sense is that different religions aren’t just subtly different, or stylistically different, or different in trivial matters, or orthogonally different and concerning themselves with different arenas of existence. Their differences are, in many cases, central to the very foundation of the beliefs. Especially when you look at the number of religions that have, as a central defining tenet, the idea that their religion is the one true religion, and that believers in all other religions are damned to perdition.

    How can all religions point to God, because all major religious belief systems have major fundamental differences between them. For example, both Islam and Christianity can’t both be true, because Christianity teaches that Jesus as God the Son died on the cross for the sins of the world, while Islam teaches that Jesus was merely a great prophet (not divine) and didn’t really die on the cross. This notion that people can hold religious beliefs that are not only different but totally contradictory — Jesus both is and is not the son of God, dead people both go to Heaven and are reincarnated, homosexuality is both loved and despised by God, there are many gods and there is only one God and God is a sort of three-for-one deal, Catholicism is the one true faith and Mormonism is the one true faith and Islam is the one true faith and no one faith is the one true faith — and that, somehow, all of these contradictory beliefs can be true? It’s not just laughably absurd. It’s not just logically impossible.

    To believe that all religions are true and equally point to God would be as foolish as saying there is no difference between a coke bottle and a ballpoint pen! If you really believe this, then logic would also dictate that you don’t believe there is right and wrong. Thus someone can come up to you and slap you in the face without any objection, because there really are no absolutes!

    If God doesn’t want anyone to convert and stay in the faith they are born into then other religions are wrong cause most religions basics have to do with spreading the message and getting people to convert. That means most religions have got it wrong, which contradicts your statement that all religions are right. Do you see the paradox in your statement?

    Plus I hope you understand that there are 4,200 religions in this world (and growing). You are saying all of these are true? What if I am born into an atheist family? Does this mean that God wants me to NOT believe in him?

    Another point I would like to understand from you is that you say that all religions are equally true and then you take a 360 degree u-turn and include the BUT… You said – “We believe all religions will lead to God. We do not claim exclusivity (like some other religions) that only those who follow Zoroastrianism will achieve God or reach ‘Heaven’”. And then in your next sentence you say but “Zoroastrian is the mother of all religions.” Its like saying we are all equal, but I am a little better…im sorry but does this not sound hypocritical?

    Will appreciate some clarifications, because it honestly sounds illogical. And I don’t mean to offend, its an open discussion where both of us may learn something new from each other.

  20. Phiroze  June 20, 2016

    Jamshir, where you come from (pakistan), the change that you talk about ie (conversion and acceptance) in your first post, was very actively enforced and encouraged. Could you share the outcome with facts and figures of this trial change with us ie Parsis of India, so that we can take a informed decision in this matter

  21. Jamshir  June 20, 2016

    Hi Phiroze,

    So you completely ignore my previous post about the reason/logic for non-conversion i.e. we believe that all religions are correct and it has been pre-determined by God that we follow the religion/beliefs of our parents. Would appreciate a reply to this instead of trying to beat around the bush.

    Now your comment…its a bit hard to understand what your actually trying to say.

    YOU SAID: Jamshir, where you come from (pakistan), the change that you talk about ie (conversion and acceptance) in your first post, was very actively enforced and encouraged.

    Could you share the outcome with facts and figures of this trial change with us ie Parsis of India, so that we can take a informed decision in this matter

    I’m sorry i had to use all caps to distinguish my response to your comment, hope you don’t mind. I hope i got what you were trying to say, but if i didn’t would appreciate if you could clarify exactly what point you were trying to get across. And ofcourse a reply to my previous posts question would be nice.

  22. Jamshir  July 12, 2016

    Its surprising how many people jumped and commented towards me the minute i opposed the majority parsi view on conversion i.e. Phiroze, Farzaan, Hutoxi, Kersi kapadia. I was even called “ignoramus” by a very holy Mr. Aspi Colah 🙂 (well Aspi, true ignoramus are those who do not question and blindly follow, so lets not go there)…but when i did start questioning and going deeper into their / your beliefs and its logic, i seem to have got no response at all.

    Im surprised i haven’t received a response from Marzban as well, but ill give him the benefit of doubt…maybe he was busy. So will wait a little longer and hope to get a response soon…in fact a response from anyone will be nice.

    There is nothing wrong with debating different viewpoints with an open mind and logic and reason…only then will truth prevail

    Correct me if im wrong

  23. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  July 12, 2016

    I was enjoying our exchange when you decided to use all caps and shout out. I just lost interest in answering then. There are replies for all your queries, but for every question there is a need to build a background on which understanding only the answer can be understood. I currently do not have the time resources to do that. So this is my final response on this topic. Please excuse.

    1. Logic and logical understanding both have a limit. That limit is defined by the perception of our physical senses. When we try to understand the whole cosmos, which is based and manifested in countless dimensions, using our very limited, three-dimensional mind, there are bound to be areas which we can’t comprehend. Now we can behave like the tortoise in the well, who looks up and sees the small patch of blue sky and believes that to be his entire universe, or we can take the help of someone, step out of the well and realize the true extent of the universe. Mysticism of all religions is the step ladder which enables us to climb out of the shallow well of our physical minds and explore the reality.

    2. There are five main religions: Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. All others are offshoots of one of these. All these 5 are God given and divinely revealed through Prophets. Each religion has many things in common with the others, but the central focus on each is different. In Z, the focus is on Asha. In Hinduism it is the trinity of gnana, karma and bhakti, in Islam it is submission, in Christianity it is compassion and love. Just becuase the focus is different doesn’t mean one is right and the other wrong. All our right. All are different maladies for an existential ailment – the ignorance of the Ruvan which has to be cleansed. This ignorance is of different types and intensities. As the Ruvan passes through different religions, it cleanses and purifies itself further and further until it is ready to be merged with the One.

    3. There is no concept of conversion. The only true conversion is not from religion to religion but from evil to good. The fact that the two major religions today are involved in a dirty race of numbers shows how far the leaders of these faiths have strayed from the original teachings.

    4. You have misunderstood me. The Mazdyasni faith is the mother of all faiths. The Zoroastrian faith is the branch of that, as are the other 4 faiths outlined above. All religions of God are Mazdayasni.

    Like I said above, we can go on talking about this but I need to stop now. The Muktad draw close and I have arrangements to make. Please excuse me.

  24. Avan  December 23, 2016

    How about having a religion called FOR LOVE OF GOD inclusive for everyone irrespective of race, religion,class, caste, age, sex, status, time, or any such division, only requirements being a pure heart and goodwill towards all.

  25. Jamshir  December 24, 2016

    Yes Avan, I completely agree with you. However there is just one flaw in your statement. You cannot have a ‘religion’ which is inclusive irrespective of ‘religion’. It would have to be outside of religion for that particular stance to make sense. But yes, there is such a thing already existing, its called HUMANISM.

    There is no initiation or rituals or rites or criteria for Humanists to undergo. If you feel this path is right for you, all you need do is put it into action.

    What is Humanism? Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and affirms their ability to improve their lives through the use of reason and ingenuity as opposed to submitting blindly to tradition and authority or sinking into cruelty and brutality.

    Human cultures across time have wondered how to find the divine, how to know the divine, and how to please divine. Humanists reject this focus. Placing human beings firmly in the center of their worldview, Humanists ask: “How, in this one life we have, might we make the most of our time here for ourselves and for others. We follow the principle of universal flourishing least harm: Where there are no conflicting interests, one has a moral obligation to choose the action that will do as little harm as possible. For Humanists, human concerns come first; they trump tradition, dogma, or creed. Humanists seek to discover what best promotes not just human but universal flourishing (which includes all living things be it dog, cat, tiger, whale, trees, plants etc…) while leaving behind those beliefs and practices that would prevent humanity from achieving its full potential.

    This drive to improve human life can be expressed in three core values: reason, compassion, and hope. Humanists value reason, or the use of the intellect and practices like the sciences and philosophy, as the best way to generate accurate knowledge about the world we inhabit. They reject supernatural explanations for phenomena. They are driven by compassion, or the idea that all people—regardless of nationality, ethnicity, race, creed, sexual identity or other characteristic – are fundamentally of equal moral worth. Humanists also look to the future in hope, believing that human beings, if working together, can build a better world.

    Like any ethical tradition, the full range of values and ideals central to Humanism is difficult to capture in a short statement. The task is made even more challenging in the case of Humanism because Humanism is non-dogmatic by design; there are no required “creeds” in which Humanists must believe, no holy book of Humanism that lays out what Humanists should or should not do. This is appropriate for a tradition which has no single founder, admits no ultimate authority, and believes that ethics is an ever-changing field of human practice which must alter to fit the context and the times.

    While Humanists aren’t anti-religion, Humanists seek to eliminate aspects of religious practice found to be inhumane and dehumanizing, while reconstituting those that affirm and promote human flourishing. There are lots of examples i can give you from our Zoroastrian religion itself about ostracising non-parsis and looking at them as unclean or impure, or take the menstruating women who is also looked as as some form of evil person who anything they touch becomes impure. There are lots of examples like this (in all religions) which reflect the Stone-Bronze age thinking, which we need to change.

    Just to summarize, wherever human beings reach out to better understand the universe and our role within it, wherever human concerns are placed above the will of a God or the needs of a tradition, wherever people believe that a better world is possible in this life, Humanism lives.

  26. Avan  December 24, 2016

    Thank you, Jamshir. I agree that ” HUMANISM ” is correct .