ORTHODOXY V/S REFORMISM
Time Tested Traditions And Customs
Vindicated In The Light Of Modern Science
Fellow Mazdayasni Zarathushtris,
By the Grace of God, we have decided to start a new series of articles on this "Traditional Zoroasatrianism Home Page" at http://www.ParsiZoroastrianism.com on the World Wide Web, a popular Zarathushtri religious site which has receieved thousands of hits (web accesses) to date, and which has been visited by Parsi and Irani Zarathushtris from all around the world, including leading Parsi religious leaders from India, and has been tremendously appreciated by one and all.
This series is titled "The Best of Deen Parast" and features articles from the popular Zoroastrian magazine of India called "Deen Parast" - meaning the Follower of the Zarathushtri faith. Article one in this series is titled "ORTHODOXY V/S REFORMISM" and is written by the famous Zarathushtri religious writer Mr. Noshir Dadrawalla, very famous among the Parsis and Iranis in our beloved motherland India - that India which has always been, and shall remain, the bastion of the Zarathushtri faith - unlike no other country in the world.
Kudos to Noshir Dadrawalla for his fine article, explaining that science is just a baby compared to the traditions and knowledge of the ancient Mazdayasnis, which we Parsis and Iranis faithfully follow in India.
ORTHODOXY V/S REFORMISM
Time Tested Traditions And Customs
Vindicated In The Light Of Modern Science
By Noshir H. Dadrawala
Very recently, a Zoroastrian scholar remarked "With statistics compiled over a few decades, scientists have been able to establish some connection between smoking and cancer. Not every one who smokes may get cancer. But statistics prove that people who smoke are at a greater risk of contacting cancer. Similarly, if statistics could be taken, it will be seen that when more Parsis wore the "Sudreh-Kusti," believed in "Dokhmenashini," respected traditions and customs, they were more in numbers, economically stable and more healthy in every respect."
Some Parsis are against "Dokhmenashini" because according to them, they refuse to be "torn and devoured by vultures." Of course they are fully prepared to be devoured by thousands of maggots and crawling creatures over a period of many years under the soil or traditionally baked over a pyre of woods or grilled/barbecued in an electric crematorium.
They complain of pollution and stench in a Dokhma but have any of these Parsis cared to examine the environment in and around a graveyard or been around to inhale the foul and unbearable stench emitted from a burning corpse? Have they ever witnessed the cracking of bones or the arching of the spinal cord during cremation? If they have and still wish to be baked or gradually putrefied under the soil, only God can help them.
They complain why non-Parsis are not allowed inside a fire temple or permitted at the time of "Sachkar". Can their mere sight really cause various imbalances during "Sachkar" or to a consecrated fire? We do not know! However, according to modern quantum physics, it is quite possible. "The new physics, quantum mechanics, tells us clearly that it is not possible to observe reality without changing it. If we observe a certain particle collision experiment, not only do we have no way of proving that the result would have been the same if we had not been watching it. All that we know indicates that it would not have been the same, because THE RESULT THAT WE GOT WAS AFFECTED BY THE FACT THAT WE WERE LOOKING FOR IT." (The Dancing Wuli Masters - An over view of the new physics by Gary Zukav, published by Bantan Books, U. S. A.)
Orthodox Parsis revere the consecrated fire of an "Atash Behram" as a living, vibrant spiritual king (Padshah). They communicate with it and even seek various boons. To the radical, this is of course nothing short of insanity. However, according to E. H. Walker, an eminent physicist, "Photons" (basic particles waves of light) may be conscious. He says "consciousness may be associated with all quantum mechanical processes. Since everything that occurs is ultimately the result of one or more quantum mechanical events, the universe is "inhabited" by an almost unlimited number of rather discrete conscious entities that are responsible for the detailed working of the universe" (The nature of consciousness - Mathematical Biosciences, 1990.)
The conceptual framework of quantum mechanics, supported by massive volumes of experimental data, forces contemporary physicists to express themselves in a manner that sounds, even to the uninitiated, like the language of mystics.
The unfolding of quantum mechanics was (and still is) a drama of high suspense.
Orthodox Parsis often talk about vibrations (modern vibes) affecting the efficacy of certain rituals. The orthodox Parsi feels the vibrations of a non Parsi affect a ritual due to reasons of different wavelengths. "Jugglery of words," "Hocus Pocus," the radial would say. However Dr. Prince de Broglie says, "Theoretically, in fact, everything has a wave length - baseballs, automobiles and even PEOPLE although their wavelengths are so small that they are not noticeable. (The Dancing Wuli Master).
As Gary Zukav rightly puts it, "Nonsense is that which does not fit into the prearranged patterns which we have superimposed on reality. There is no such thing as nonsense apart from a judgemental intellect which calls it that. True artists and physicists know that nonsense is only that which, viewed from our present point of view is unintelligible. Nonsense is nonsense only when we have not yet found that point of view from which it makes sense."
Further, during sachkar, a dog is allowed to view the dead body, but not a non-Parsi. What could be the rationale of such a strange custom?
The Vendidad explains that "Druj-e-Nasush" (Force of evil) retreats at the sight of a dog (Sagdid).
Vibrations of varying wavelengths from the eyes of humans and dogs would once again be "Hocus Pocus" to our radical friends and deemed a figment of some fanatic's imagination. However, according to Gurvich's theories, Kazakh scientists have found a way to register extraordinary emanations from people's eyes. They used a special film emulsion sensitive to the ultraviolet spectrum along with selective filters, and after suppressing all heat radiations, obtained very strange pictures. According to Dr. Ingush in, "We discovered an emanation from the eyes of animals and humans and the energies coming from human and animal eyes vary with emotions and environmental conditions (International Conference on Bioenergetics in Moscow, 1972.)
The journal of Paraphysics (Vol. 6, No. 5) notes, we obtained from human eyes, under conditions of auto suggestion, after an exposure of only one thousand of a second, very clear images on the emulsion."
With the fact established that human and animal eyes do emanate vibrations of varying wavelengths and frequencies, it is not difficult to see the rationale behind allowing a dog during sachkar and not a non-Parsi. It is not that the vibrations of a non-Parsi are inferior to that of a Parsi. They simply differ and that is all. But the difference makes all the difference in the efficacy or otherwise of any Zoroastrian ritual. This is not only proved by the scriptures and tradition but more recently by modern science itself.
Regarding the onslaught of "Druj-e-Nashus" the scriptures say it rushes in from the North in the form of a "Mukushi" (fly/microbe). Strange as it may seem, but thousands of years ago, our ancestors had recognized the presence of microbes. But the onslaught from the North? Did it make any sense?
Fortunately in 1975, Dr. Richard Blackemore of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, U.S.A., discovered to his amazement that for every experiment carried out by him, the bacteria on his samples of mud always collected and gathered themselves on the Northern side. So fascinated was the Doctor by his amazing discovery that he threw himself body and soul into the study of the strange behaviour of these small microscopic creatures. It was discovered that when a magnet was placed near the bacteria (thus reversing the original magnetic field) the tiny creatures promptly turned their own direction in adjustment to the revised magnetic field.
Further research proved conclusively that the bacteria were not simply being pulled or attracted towards the North under the influence of the magnetic field but rather, they actually followed it on their own.
Now here was a fact of nature discovered by modem science in the year 1975 but known to our ancestors thousands of years ago. Modern Parsis "pooh pooh" the ancient custom of segregating; woman in her menses. However the Vendidad states that a woman in a s tate of menses should keep 15 steps away from pious men and if she even chances to glance at a person in prayer, the latter must undergo fresh preliminaries and renew his prayer all over again.
Scientists, today, with the aid of Kirlian photography have been able to observe the personal atmosphere of women in a state of menses and found to their amazement, denseness and morbidity in it. It is little wonder, therefore, that even Jesus Christ cri ed out, "who touched me ..... my Glory is gone out of me" (Gospel of St. Luke) when a woman suffering from irregular menses touched him.
However there is more to it than just vibes. Studies at the John Hopkins University Laboratory by Prof. Macht and Prof. Lobin have proved the existence of certain toxins (called menotoxins) in various body fluids of menstruating women. Studies have revealed that menotoxins have an inhibitory effect on the growth of roots and stems of living seedlings, yeast and in all cases of freshly cut flowers. Menotoxins also distort the geotropic properties of young seedlings. Is it therefore any wonder that our sagacious and foresighted forefathers recommended segregation?
Scientists, today, are making more and more discoveries which only amuse but do not surprise orthodox Parsis. If an Einstein discovers the theory of an ever, expanding universe, the orthodox Parsi is not surprised, because he already knows about "continuous progress through infinite and measureless space" (vide Fravardin Yasht paras 57 and 58). If an astronomer traces the roots of the moon to our earth, the orthodox Parsi simply smiles, remembering the word, "Gao Chithrem" (seed of the earth) in para 3 of the Mah Bakhtar Nyaish (litany to the moon).
To be orthodox, therefore, is not a matter of shame but pride. The West is already bowing its head before the spirituality and lofty sciences of the East. It is sincerely hoped that radical Parsis, too, will begin to see the changing tide.
Written by Noshir H. Dadrawala
Published in the Deen Parast, Bombay, India
To subscribe to the Deen Parast, a famous Zarathushtri religious magazine from Bombay, India; , write to:
4th Floor, no 11, Mount road, Mazgaon,
MUMBAI (Bombay) 400 010 India.
Mr. Dadrawala is the editor. There is no charge for subscription, but a donation of Rupees 250-300 would be sufficient to cover the air-mail postage costs for a year.
Best of Deen Parast Article II: Youth Page: Relevance of our ancient customs
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