Fellow Mazdayasni Zarathushtris,
Here is a superb article by Pashmina M. Contractor, a Zoroastrian lady in India, titled "NO SAFETY IN NUMBERS", published recently in the famous Jam-E-Jamshed Zarathushtri newspaper of Mumbai, India. Kudos to this young woman for writing with such fervour and faith on our ancient religion. While there are such women as these in our tiny community, women who consider it their religious duty to marry only to a fellow Zoroastrian and no other, our precious community will never die out. Religious women such as these are the backbone of our people and our religion.
Very often, I have heard many a so-called reformist Zoroastrian (amongst others), declare dejectedly of the waning numbers of the world's Zoroastrian population. These same persons complain about the Zoroastrian community being miniscule In size. They complain that if some changes and reforms are not straightaway introduced, then the community will, sooner or later, have to face the bitter reality of extinction.
Not so I say, and history, too, reads otherwise.
How many Zoroastrians are aware that had it not been for our great and wonderful religion by Ahura Mazda's Grace, the latter great religions of the world would have never come into existence or survived! (And I am not just referring to the fact that the whole concept of the struggle between good and evil in nature, and many tenants found in all religions, came to be borrowed from Zoroastrianism).
The Jews had been enslaved and taken into captivity by the Assyrians, and their sacred temple destroyed. During this time, it was the Persian Emperor, Cyrus the Great, who defeated the Assyrians, and released the Jews from enslavement captivity and granted them the permission and resources to re-build their sacred tempIe.
Cyrus could just as well have continued with the existing system of Jewish slaves, but instead of doing what any petty individual would have, he showed the magnanimity of his religion by his actions and, in doing so, laid the foundation stone for these great forthcoming religions of the world, namely Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It was by the Grace of Almighty Ahura Mazda and by His divine command that this happened. So is it not by His divine command and protection, that even after thousands of years and a thousand trials and tribulations, that Zoroastrianism has survived? It surely must rank as one of the greatest survival stories of all times!
As far as numbers go, who wants to be one of teeming millions, living in abject poverty, misery and illiteracy, like millions of unfortunate people live around the world. In fact, an explosion in population gives birth to a million ills like poverty, malnutrition, disease, illiteracy, etc., etc. So is it not safer and time-tested, that we grow slow and steady, like we are doing in the present time?
Zoroastrianism does not need 'numbers" to survive, nor does it need reforms like mixed-marriages and what not, to help us survive. In fact, in this world where we are surrounded by so many powerful cultural and religious forces, reforms, if anything, would lead to our annihilation.
It is our exclusivity that has helped us survive. It is not the 'size' that matters when it comes to survival, it is the 'strength' and 'power' of one's beliefs and ideas that go into making up a community, that is aware of its place and role in society.
Every religion has a time and purpose. So does Zoroastrianism. Like the cream that floats atop the milk, we are less, we are small, but we ARE! And that's all that matters. We may be few, but still we shine in all walks of life. Our people do not live their lives in "chawls" or "slums". However poor, a Zoroastrian home is always clean. Our people do not suffer from acute malnutrition and starvation like countless others do all, over the world everyday. This is Ahura Mazda's promise to us; to always protects us for carrying forth 'His' good religion In this world. 99% of our community is educated which is more than can be said for any other. Every time I look around me, I thank God that I am born a Zoroastrian. It is life's biggest gift and privilege to me, and I always can find a hundred reasons to thank God for it.
Coming back to the topic at hand, we do not need any population-boom, mixed marriages etc., etc. to help us survive. We have survived as a result of Mazda's Grace, the divine vision of Zarathustra and the struggles of our forefathers.
As long as "He" wills it, nothing or no one can put an end to this great legacy of Holy Zarathushtra.
We Zoroastrians sometimes have this habit of criticising our own religion like no others do. You will never find a Hindu or Muslim report on the so-called ills of his or her religion. Why us? Instead of wasting time on changes/reforms, we should target our energies towards preservation of our rare, old customs and traditions, which are beautifully sublime. This should be our premise to our forth-coming generations so they too can be a part of and enjoy this blessed and beautiful religion of Ahura Mazda!!
Amin!! Amin!! Amin!!
by Ms. Pashmina M. Contractor,
Article published in the Jam-e-Jamshed newspaper.
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