Roj Gosh Mah Amardad, 1382 Yz.
It is a day of great shame for India and all Indians. How many millions of us feel the pangs of pain and humiliation, that a country which is so vocal about its great culture, which never tires of sermonizing others, which is quick to find faults with neighbours and distant countries, which goes on and on about being the fountainhead of everything good that exists in this world, could not protect the innocence and honour of its own girl-child.
After battling for over two weeks, the brave and innocent girl who had been so brutally assaulted in New Delhi, finally gave up her struggle and joined her Heavenly Father today. No more pain and suffering for her; finally she is at peace. Our dear sister was vandalized by her own brothers and left to die a painful and shameful death. There are not enough words in my vocabulary to describe the pain and anguish which I feel. We have failed – as a nation, as a people, as humans. We are not fit to be called any of these. We are below even animals.
The very brutal and widely discussed case of this innocent girl only brings in public focus a greater and even more shameful national statistic – Indians are killing their girls, without fear or compunction. In October 2012, on the occasion of the Day of the Girl Child, government released figures which show that India is losing 3 million girls in female infanticide, every year. To put that in perspective, it means that a girl child is killed in India roughly every 10 seconds. The Child Sex Ratio is showing not only an alarming decline, but also a real acceleration in the rate of decline. To my great surprise, states which were known to be at the forefront of protecting their women’s honour – Rajasthan and Punjab – show some of the highest levels of female infanticide. This skewed ratio has reached such proportions in some districts that brides are ‘bought’ from areas of South India which have a larger female population.
How did things come to this? Is this not the same India which gave the world the Vedas and the Upanishads – where the role and status of women is so highly and beautifully enshrined? Are we not descendants of those who valiantly fought for the honour and purity of their wives and sisters? Did not our ancestors prefer to die, rather than be subject to such ignominy? Then how did we fall from the heights of such supreme behaviour to this uncivilized morass of objectification and sustained violence towards half of our own population?
India needs to have a crtitical look at the model of progress it has adopted, its headlong dive into materialism and consumerism, its legacy of ‘chalta hai’ and ‘jaane do’, its deep-seated corruption, and the lack of gender-sensitive education. India also needs to critically analyze the way women are portrayed in that great curse of entertainment which is called Bollywood, whose denizens are today issuing hypocritical statements when they are themselves responsible for vulgar lyrics, graphics, crude innuendos and item numbers which demean the very idea of womanhood enshrined in our culture and tradition.
I am no social scientist. I am a priest and will therefore speak about how our own religion lays great stress on the importance of women. The Yenghe Hatam prayer, which occurs at the end of most other major prayers, remembers both the male as well as female souls (tanscha, taoscha) of those who have reached the level of perfection and unity with the Lord. In the Fravardin Yasht, an entire chapter (Karta 30) is devoted to remembering the Fravashis of the brave, righteous and noble ladies of ancient times.
Our Master, Ustad Saheb Behramshah Nowroji Shroff explained the rationale for this high status of women. He revealed that at the time of the creation of the Cosmos, the original Urvan (Soul), which contained some deficiency within it, was taken through a process of fragmentation, which would enable the Urvan to easily cleanse itself of the evil tendency. After dividing the souls into five groups, which would ultimately arise as the five major religions of the earth, the process of fragmentation commenced by splitting each Urvan into two parts. These were the male and female parts. Thereafter, each of these two parts went through a series of fragmentation based on the decimal system until one part of the Urvan came to reside in us. The Urvan in each one of us, has, therefore a counterpart in the other sex. Similarly, one-tenth part of our soul is fragmented in the animal kingdom, one-hundredth in the vegetable kingdom and one-thousandth in the mineral kingdom. All souls are linked to each other through a spiritual cord which is unseen and latent.
Ustad Saheb further explained that as Zoroastrians follow their Tarikats and Code of Living as enshrined in the religion, their souls start broadcasting a beacon at a special frequency. This beacon signal is caught by the fragments existing in the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms. Through a highly complex and long process, these fragments are slowly but surely assimilated into our own bodies and merge with the resident Urvan. In a similar manner, the fragments of the male or female counterpart of our Urvan also get assimilated in the body containing the counterpart.
Finally, after many thousands of years of hard work and progression, the male and female counterparts of the Urvan reach a stage of perfection. They are then ready to merge with each other. This beautiful and highly spiritual event, which takes place in the higher regions of the Cosmos, is called Khaetwodath. This is the reason why our Jasa me avangahe Mazda prayer has the words ‘Khaetwadatham Ashaonim’ – it is our faith which helps the Urvan attain the Ultimate Union. This is why the Zoroastrian religion is called mazistacha, vahishtacha, sraeshtacha – the greatest, the best and the most excellent – not as some cheap one-upmanship over another faith, but as a spiritual and fundamental truth – the Union of Souls can take place only after the soul has progressed through the Mazdayasni Zarathushtri faith.
Prophet Zarathushtra devised the spiritual institution of marriage on this earth as a reflection and reminder to us of the Ultimate Union of Souls. Our physical partners may or may not be the actual Urvan counterpart. But Prophet Zarathushtra advised us to lead a life of faithfulness and truthfulness with the other, so that each may help the other in achieving that ultimate goal of Perfection and Salvation. This is the reason why marriage should always be between a man and a woman. This is also why marriage should be between a man and woman of the same faith, since the souls should have the same spiritual frequency. Those members of our community who choose to marry outside, but yet go through the sham of an Ashirwad ceremony by hiring and bribing rogue priests do not understand the grave error they are committing.
Readers of Frashogard may now understand the total spiritual chaos that is happening by the terrible practice of female infanticide. How many millions of souls must be losing the opportunity to come down on the earth and fulfill their obligations with other souls? How many millions of male souls must be wasting an entire life, waiting for their female counterpart to come – when the poor thing is being drowned in a bowl of milk somewhere else? What terrible spiritual repercussions must our country face for this murderous deed of most unthinkable proportions? Is it any wonder that we are being torn asunder, that our country is becoming the laughing stock of the whole world, when our grand culture and moral high ground is being reduced to rubble?
Even in these times of terrible shame, readers of Frashogard must not lose hope. We must hope that this tragedy of unspeakable proportions will mark a turning point in our country’s attitude towards half of its population. Ustad Saheb has warned of the most horrible times that our country will have to go through before the New Dawn breaks. The events of these last few days seem to suggest that maybe, just maybe, we may be on the cusp of some grand change. Let us pray that it will be change for the better.
Readers of Frashogard will join me in reciting one Ashem in memory of the brave girl, a drop of whose blood is on the hands of every Indian, with the fervent prayer that her soul reach its ultimate destination and be taken under the care and protection of her spiritual forefathers. May it be so as we wish for!
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram