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We are members of the Managing Board of the Traditional Zarathushtris Mailing list (TZML), which is on the internet since 1998 and has more than 550 Zarathushtri members from around the world. We are proud Zarathushtris in this list who believe in our Traditional religion as handed down by our forefathers. This e-mail is being cc'ed to the TZML list.
This has reference to the recent article "Dhansak with the Dabhoiwalas" published in the Sunday Indian Express dated 26 Sept.
It has pained a lot of our Traditional Zarathustris people when your newspaper has printed an article by Murali K Menon openly encouraging inter-marriage, which is disastrous for a small community such as ours.
We request you not to encourage liberal Zoroastrians who have inter-married or have inter-marriages in their families. In fact, inter-marriage and conversion are lethal poisons instead of a cure to survival, and are not supported by our religion at all. Rules against inter-marriage and conversion are religious precepts and no one has the authority to change our religion, which is an ancient divine religion.
The effect of mixed marriages would be totally contrary and the rate of decline would accelerate. In fact, this has already been proven as the decline has started only in the last three decades, whereas during the early part of this century, the Parsi population had reached the highest figure in its history.The decline in recent years is entirely due to mixed marriages, together with migration to foreign lands which, in turn, has increased the incidence of mixed marriages.
Sociologists have always maintained that for any small community like Zoroastrians to survive in a sea of people from different backgrounds, it must practice certain exclusive rules, preferably based on religion. The Parsis have proved this theorem admirably by surviving almost intact in India for 1300 years mainly by adhering to certain tough, exclusive, time tested rules devised by their forefathers.
The cardinal among these were prohibition of mixed-marriages and initiation of offsprings of such marriages into the fold, prohibition of conversion of outsiders, and certain unique and exclusive practices like wearing of the sudreh-kushti, maintaining exclusive fire-temples, holding exclusive gatherings for religious purposes etc. These rules were made for the preservation of our faith, as well as our identity and are uniformly followed in our dealings with all non-Zarathustis. They were not selective or racially discriminatory, and we applied them to all non-Zarathustis equally. History, proves that we have lived harmoniously with all sections of the people in the Indian sub-continent to whom we owe so much and who have showered accolades on us for our contributions to our adopted homelands.
Mixed marriages, in particular have become the bane of our community for over three decades now. Unlike other larger communities, our microscopic community just does not have the mass needed to absorb such marriages. If such mixed marriages are openly accepted, their rate will accelerate and there will soon come a time when outside influences will become so prominent, that not only our Zoroastrian identity , but also our faith will become unrecognisable.
The important lesson for Zarathustris to remember is that after the Arab conquest of Iran, it as ONLY in India and India alone (outside of Iran, where too we have some ancient adherents of our faith) that the migrant Zarathustris flourished and preserved their religion because they clung to their identity by not permitting inter-communal marriages and by observing religious seclusion - although socially and culturally they mixed. They were the only group to survive outside Iran because they staunchly adhered to their rituals and traditions and did not try to increase their numbers by proselytism or inter-communal marriages. The "open door" policy has been and will be an inevitable exercise in the rapid extinction of the Zoroastrian faith.
The article by your newspaper only gave the "liberal" point of view which in actuality is very damaging for the survival of our religion. May we request you to please portray the truth about the world's OLDEST revealed religion - Zoroastrianism.
Please consider an article on your newspaper outlining the Traditional point of view, which is the view of our forefathers for thousands of years. In this program you can interview stalwarts of our community in India such as Mr. Khojeste Mistree, Mr. Hanoz Mistry, Mr. Karl Sahukar, Mr. Nozer Bharucha, and also our High Priests who have strongly indicated that inter-marriage is very damaging to the religion and should be totally avoided in order to preserve our people, culture and religion.
Although the secular press is somewhat to blame for encouraging the "modern" "westernized" idea of inter-marriage in an effort to ape the intermarrying Western world, some of our own people are also to blame. These people with a "liberal" "modern" mind set advocate these dangerous views, and permit this unrequired, damaging publicity for their own selfish interests. It would be your contribution in a sincere way for the survival of this great religion if you air the views which we have expressed in this letter. In a way you will be serving humanity through such an article, since humanity would be the true beneficiary if our ancient religion with its ancient wisdom is preserved.
Enclosed please find a brief write-up on the Zoroastrian faith and the argument against inter-marriage and conversion, which is a collation of the writings of prominent Zoroastrian scholars.
SD: The Managing Board of the TRADITIONAL ZARATHUSTRIS MAILING LIST (TZML)
Ervad Jal Birdy
Mrs. Pervin Mistry
Councillor Filly Maravala
Ms. Zenobia Patel
Neville S. Gandhi
Porus Homi Havewala
Mr. Porus Homi Havewala from the Managing Board may be contacted for correspondence and futher details please.
Zarathushtra and the Mazdayasni Zarathusti Religion
Zoroastrianism is the world's oldest revealed religion. Zarathushtra was the first prophet to preach a monotheistic religion, and was born in Iran about 8000 years BC. He was the first to reveal that there was only One God, One Supreme, All knowing Eternal God of the good creations - Ahura Mazda - The Lord of Wisdom. Zarathushtra was the first Prophet who emphasized on the importance of making moral choices between the two opposing paths of good and evil. Zoroastrianism being the oldest revealed religion,is the most scientific, and has influenced all the major religions of the world.
Zoroastrians keep the holy FIRE in their temples as the symbol of Ahura Mazda, and their priests feed the fire with sandalwood and cedar and intone the ancient sacred Mathras (verses of praise) in the ancient Aryan Avestan language. Mathric incantations have incredible divine potent power, a power used to fight evil. Zoroastrians also revere the elements of God such as water, earth, wind, and the creations of God such as the Sun, moon and stars. They wear the sacred Aryan girdle around their waists, a sign of their ancient Aryan lineage and religion, and the white "Sudreh" as a garment.
Asho Zarathushtra is hailed as the "First Revealer", and the "Foremost" . Zarathushtra's songs, his direct communion with Ahura Mazda are called the "Gathas" which linguistically may be older than the Indian vedic scriptures. The Gathas are written in an ancient Avestan dialect. This is a sister language to Sanskrit in India. The reason is, the common ancestors (common to the ancient Iranians, ancient Indians) were one and the same - Aryan people.
The Vedas were believed to be the world's oldest written scriptures, but philological studies of the Avestan language have proven that although the Sanskrit of the Vedas and the language of the Gathas (Avestan) are sister languages, the Gathic dialect is older ! The Mazdayasnis Zoroastrians are refered to as "pitrayanis" or "forefathers" in the Vedas, as documented by the Vedantin Scholar Mohandas J Chatterjee in his book "Hymns of Atharvan Zarathushtra". Hence, from the Vedas as well as from our own scriptures it can be conclusively proven that there were no other religions in existence except for the Mazdayasni religion when Asho Zarathustra lived and preached.
The fact that Zoroastrians pray "Mazdayasno ahmi, Mazdayasno Zarathushtrish" indicates that Asho Zarathushtra based his religion upon the ONLY existing Mazdayasni religion and restored it to its pure original state, which thereafter came to be called Mazdayasni Zarthusti Religion. Hence, there is no CONVERSION in the Zoroastrian faith, since no other religions existed.
Prophet Zarathushtra and his golden message - in brief
Most importantly, the Zoroastrians are grateful to the noble Hindu king of Gujarat JADI RANA who gave solace to the Zoroastrian ancestors who fled from the Arabs who invaded their homeland, Iran to protect their religion. Jadi Rana originally called Vijyaditya was the grandson of the great king Vikramamitya. The Zoroastrians will be are eternally grateful to the charitable King Jadi Rana for granting them entry into the holy land of India, and allowing them to practice their religion following their exclusive rights. King Jadi Rana too understand the absolute necessity of observing their exclusive rights for the survival of the ancient Mazdayasni Zarthusti religion. And the religion has survived since then for 1300 years.
Argument against Conversion and inter-marriage in Zoroastrianism
The Zarathushti religion commands marriage only between a Zarathustri man and woman to preserve the spiritual strength of the ancient Aryan Mazdayasni religion, and the ethnic identity of the Mazdayasni Zarathustris.
The message of Zarathushtra which continues to be passed on through his Rainidars, who are great saints of the Zoroastrian religion, says all religions are equal and it is a folly to convert. Conversion goes against the Master Law of Ereta (righteousness) itself, because God has given us birth in our respective religions to adore Him in them, and not to mistrust His Judgement and rebel and go over to another faith. For each faith leads ultimately to God. Our soul is destined to nourish and attain salvation ONLY though ONE PATH.
In Zarathustri religion, MARRIAGE is a SACRAMENT with its roots in pre-cosmogenesis and unfoldment of soul in the spiritual world. It is a divine process in which two souls "join" together by a sacrament (Ashirwad ceremony) for their spiritual progression.
The ultimate goal and purpose of all religions is to lead all the individual souls towards union with God Almighty. To attain this ultimate goal, different prophets have revealed different levels of Divine Universal Natural Laws and various particular spiritual practices which are suitable for performance of those souls who have reached their particular level of spiritual development, in accordance with the root connection of those souls with their respective religions. There is no freedom of choice in selecting a religion. A religion is already prescribed for your soul, you are here on earth to follow it.
Mr. Golwala, a prominent Zoroastrian mentions a discussion he had with Prof.Gadgil, one of India's greatest and most practical scholar and teacher, who was described by foreign authors as a "savant of extraordinary profoundity and brilliance, who illuminated whatever he touched". The topic of the discussion held during independence days was national unity. It is mentioned that they spoke of the evil effect of caste and how it tended to divide the country. Golwala later asks Prof. Gadgil "I suppose then, you would say that we Parsis ought in the national interest to give up our separate identity and get merged in the great Hindu whole? After all we are only about a hundred thousand".
The response to this by the Professor is very illuminating and should be carefully read and reflected upon. "No, I wouldn't say that. You are not a caste, a fraction of a whole. You are an independent religion, a whole in itself. To preserve that religion, which gives you your particular identity, your ancestors left their native land and came to us. Here over 1200 years you have preserved it, in full amity and concord with us, and are a living part of our nation. No, I would be loathe to see you disappear".
Prof.Gadgil later continues "The national interest does not demand your disappearance. On the contrary, the country would loose by it. Your total circumstances, religion, ethics, upbringing etc. have nurtured people who have been useful to the country. Such people after independence may well prove even more useful, and the likelihood of that type appearing in other circumstances, I would not rate too high". In his final counsel he says, "No, don't merge, maintain your identity as a part of our nation, and continue to be even more useful to it as a whole than you have been in the past".
One who marries within one's own ethnic group is not a "racist", instead one is just preserving the "community identity". The authors do insist that friendships beyond ethnic, religious and national boundaries are not wrong, it is only inter-marriage that causes the Zoroastrian identity to be lost.
Inter-marriage is wrong and harmful to ANY religion on the face of the earth, particularly to a religion like Zoroastrianism, which has few followers in the world at this point of time - a drop of ancient wisdom in an ocean of billions. The Zoroastrian community would do well to learn from its past history which proves that groups of Zarathushtris who left Iran afer the Arab conquest to settle in Europe and Asia (except India) perished through their "open door" policy of inter-communal marriages. There are no living, practicing Zarathustri descendants of these groups. Only some archeological evidences stand as mute testimony to the annihilation of these Zarathushtri communities who INTER-MARRIED, proselytized and PERISHED !
The "liberal" point of view
Some of the over zealous "liberals" of the Zoroastrian community are not only in favour of mixed marriages, but go to the extent of actively advocating mixed marriages as a solution to the problem of declining numbers. In other words, it is their point of view that Parsis should marry outside the community so that the rate of birth will increase. They suggest that we should "convert" the non-Zoroastrian spouse, similar to what some other "modern" religions do.
The ABSURDITY of this point of view is clear when one considers that an average Hindu, Muslim or Christian is devoted to his religion, which should be the case. In fact, the Muslim and Christians promote conversion and will not marry unless the prospective spouse is prepared to embrace Islam or Christianity before marriage. There are illustrations of several illustrious Parsis who converted to Christianity merely because they wanted to marry a Christian. In these cases, the erring Parsi is to be blamed since he is not loyal to the religion of his forefathers, who with great personal loss, migrated from their homeland Iran with the sole purpose of preserving their religion.
Inter-marriage dilutes the religion slowly leading to its extinction. Respect for all religions is essential, since all religions are divine, but one can follow only one religion, one path, the religion of one's birth.
In this, the "liberals" seem to be influenced by one Ali Jafry, a Muslim from Pakistan, who has set up so-called "conversion" camps in North America and South America, in the name of our religion. The true Zoroastrians such as ourselves do not recognize Ali's "converts" as real Zarathustris, we only consider them to be followers of his cult. Ancient religions such as our religion do not believe in conversion.
The Hindus say INTER-MARRIAGE & CONVERSION is wrong as well
In "Hinduism Today" July 19, 1994, in a short article "Must we Marry Within Our Religion", it is stated "The mutual spiritual unfoldment of man and wife is the central purpose of marriage. When we marry outside our religion, we create disharmony and conflict for ourselves and our children, such a marriage draws us away from religious involvement instead of deeper into its fulfillment. For marriage to serve its spiritual purpose to the highest, husband and wife should hold the same beliefs and share the same religious practices".
In the Bhagwad Gita, inter-marriage is called "Varna-Sankara" ie the mixing of the castes.The term is also applied to the mixed progency which effectively destroy the lineage of their forefathers. The Gita has this to say:
(From http://www.geocities.com/dnivnd/bhagavad_gita_1.html) also refer http://members.nbci.com/hknetowrks/MarraigeCompat-NollicitSex.htm
strishu dushshaasu varshneya
kula-ghnaanaam kulasya ca
patanti pitaro hy eshaam
"When irreligion is prominent in the family, O Krishna, the women of the family become polluted, and from the degradation of womanhood, O descendant of Vrishni, comes unwanted (inter-mixed) progency."
"An increase of unwanted (inter-mixed) population certainly causes hellish
life for both the family and for those who destroy the family tradition.
The ancestors of such corrupt families fall down, because the performances
for offering them food and water after death through ritual (pinda or
shraddha) are entirely stopped."
dosair etaih kula-ghnaanam
kula-dharmaash ca shashvataah
"By the inappropriate deeds of those who destroy the family tradition and thus give rise to unwanted (intermixed) children, all kinds of community projects and family welfare activities are wasted / ruined / devastated."
While the declining numbers is a cause of concern, the one and only solution to this problem is for Parsis to have a change in attitude, and to bring up their children as true Zoroastrians, so that when they grow up, they marry within the community. The need for religious education is, therefore, paramount, both for the children and the present generation of parents.
The key to the survival of the community is entirely in the hands of the present generation of Parsis. If they decide to marry within the community, and if each couple has at least two children, there will be a perceptible increase in their numbers in the coming years.
In any case Zoroastriansim the world's oldest religion, the mother of all religions, the basis of all religions will continue to survive as it has over thousands of years inspite of all the hardships faced by its adherants. In fact, traditional Zoroastrians are awaiting the coming of their religion's Divine Saviour to be sent by Ahura Mazda and as predicted by Prophet Zarathushtra who will revive this divine religion in its fatherland once again in its `purest' form.
Please refer to the Traditional Zoroastrianism Home page at http://ParsiZoroastrianism.com for further details on our religion. This e-mail will also be put on that site. This is a site that has been visited by more than two hundred thousand visitors and is popular among our community and others who like to know about our religion.
The above article has been inserted at the Indian Express feedback and comment sites:
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