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. Until today, only few of our learned Priests and scholars have successfully presented scriptural facts as to WHY MIXMARRIAGES ARE CONSIDERED SIN OR PROSTITUTION OR ADULTERY in our community? Is it really what our scriptures professes to justify such an event?
A word in question is WHY? My dear Zarathustris, it is not appropriate to use negative propaganda to convey such sensitive issues to the community. It is morally and socially incorrect to repeat such offensive terms to teach our "curious minds" who are willing to learn the true reason of not marrying outside. It is certainly not acceptable to ridicule those who are "destined" to "drift" from their progression level by marrying outside our community. We cannot convince everyone on everything written in our religion. Prevention is better than Cure. A challenge that we are facing today is, how can we stop our own kids from getting married outside? Today, young and adults, all would like to know why our High Priests and other orthodox people trying to instill an idea that "marrying outside is a SIN and any intimate contacts with a non-Zarathustri is regarded as PROSTITUTION or ADULTERY as referred in Vendidad? It is a typical Parsee attitude to question our religious authorities asking "Where it is written? As if, they have read all our scriptures, and able to find that reference and interpret it as HIS voice. If we say Vendidad, Yazashne, Dinkard, or any other names of our scriptures in reference, they will stare at us thinking, what animal name is that? Or Hmmm!!! In the midst of such illiterate conditions, people have guts to question our religious authorities, where it is written?. Where is humility, respect and attitude to learn from those who live by HIS PATH? No one is perfect but we should at least follow HIS Path and aim at perfection. Sources of learning are within your reach. It just takes a little bit of time, dedication and faith to explore the secrets of our religion. I am writing this article with a hope of saving as many Zarathustris from getting married outside our fold however, even if I am successful in saving just one, I would consider myself a fortunate servant of His Daena.
The following article will highlight some important issues related to interpretation of the above definitions (in English ) establishing prohibitions of Intermarriages & acceptance of spouse/ offsprings of the mixed couples into our religion.. This topic will also highlight some elaborate spiritual issues that are obviously ignored by the self-made scholars and University students of the western world.
We have very strong scriptural evidences of Avestic expressions in Vendidad (Vedaevo-dat - "Laws against Evil) that very well support our traditional belief of "Tokhmak-paspaan" meaning, preservation of seed, besides other expressions in Pahalvi "Gohar-duresttar", "Chigunih-aviztar" and "mithro-avar." There are many scholars and writers who have emphatically described referring to our scriptures that, marrying outside our fold is a Sin (corresponding to our Soul), which is referred as "Gunahe Ravani". Such an act is categorized under terms like prostitution, adultery and so on. Many scholars quote Vendidad in explanation of "Maanthric" expressions with its translation using the above terms in English and define as "unacceptable" as per our religion. My dear Zarathustris, marriage is more divine and spiritual process that requires one step beyond human perception to interpret the hidden meanings and expressions of Avesta terms and its connotations. Mere linguistic acrobats are not enough to probe into spiritual aspects of a particular religious tradition, custom or practice.
Zarathustri Soul - A Divine Composition
Lets start from the basics of WHY it is not permitted to marry outside? I will try to explain in as simple language as I can. In Avesta Yasna 55.1, a soul is called "Urvaan." A Soul is the reason why, we are in this world. No material fancies, ideas, thoughts or imaginations should take over the task of our Soul that is "spiritually processed" within our body. Our Soul's task is to dissolve Dravao (evil) attached to it with the help of human mind and body by PRACTICING HIS DAENA that is prescribed for the unfoldment of Soul. My dear Zarathustri, it is not some social law, speech or writings that is in question but OUR OWN SOUL is put to the test by some "confused minds" who consider Marriage as CONTRACT or some sort of compromise between two individuals to reside together. Think about it. What they fail to understand is that, it is not the progression of Body or Mind that we are made to struggle each day of our life. It is the SOUL, which is the center of all Avesta teachings that is the core ingredient of saying "one has to marry someone from within his/her religion and have children to accelerate one's our Urvaan progression." Yes, procreation helps not only the couple but, the ones who are born through them. As by marrying and procreating we give opportunity to more and more souls who are waiting for their progression through human life, especially those who are destine to born as Zarathustris. Now if you marry someone from out Path or religion, you are not only endangering your Soul but also one that is born through your relationship with that individual!! That is why our religion discourages single individual and encourages matrimony within our group. We are making earthly decisions mainly for our soul. We represent our soul in whatever we think and do in life. We WORK for accumulating wealth in "Panje Zarvekashe Batem" (divine wealth related to each soul) that will help our soul, which is Anoshe-Ravan (Immortal) in furthering its progress in the divine world of Ahura Mazda.
Why not marry someone from different Religion? The answer lies in the original condition of our Urvaan and its subsequent transformation and processes through which it has to travel to dissolve "Dravao" attached to it. One line answer for the above question would be: Because each one of us are born with different spiritual composition to follow a prescribed Path (religion) for the emancipation of our Urvaan. This answer is incomplete without an in-dept explanation of cosmogenesis as described in our literature. For the readers understanding, this article will briefly highlight some related issues from cosmogenesis to present a meaningful composition of our scriptural-based spiritual designs and processes.
In the pre-cosmogenesis world, there were two types of lights: lights with perfect divine knowledge called Baodangh and lights with deficiency of divine knowledge called Urvaan (Ysn.55.2). An Urvaan (soul) is a principle always widening itself out and thus expanding its consciousness. This means that the imperfect Lights - Urvaans - have to widen their divine knowledge to perfection and see the True light. From this deficiency of divine knowledge arise all types of wickedness called "Aka" or "Dravao". So the first step towards redeeming lights with "Aka" or "Dravao", Ahuraongho led them out of Naba-nazdishta to the planetary world. Due to rotation and revolutions of the different planetary heavens, as well as Dravao (wickedness of Urvaans), being of varied degrees, they were attracted to the respective planetary heavens suitable to their Dravao and accommodated themselves accordingly. After extensively long spiritual process of condensation of "Aka Chitrha" (wicked seed) into pure "Rae" (divine self-knowledge), 1/10 of Dravao was not reclaimed. Thus, with the help of Yazads and Ameshspands, Dadar Ahura Mazda created "Dami" (space, Nisti) (Ysn.57.2) for eliminating wickedness of these Aka Chithras. The souls that were Dravao-free at this stage (in Nisti) returned to His world however, the ones that were left behind were send to from the planetary world (Nisti) to earth (Geti) and label them for a particular Path (Religion) depending on their level of purity.
Classification of Soul into a Specific Jzhirum
In the beginning all souls were classified and had their links fixed with the different Jzhirums. "Jzhirum" is a Persian word means "the source of celestial light", "vibrational energy", "spiritual luminary" - Roshni - Light. The link of each soul with its original Jzhirum classification is maintained throughout the outward bound journey of the soul. It is because of such classification and gradations that there exist on this earth persons having different religions, and different highly developed souls "born" on this earth as the "prophets" of different religion. "Beautiful paths" (Srirao patho) are the illuminated paths of five main religions of the world. Each religion and its respective Law-giver being under the influence of one of the five planets, viz. Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury and Saturn. The remaining two Sun and Moon are the transitional stages after death from one religion to the other. The ultimate goal and purpose of all religions is to lead all the individual souls towards union with God Almighty i.e. Frasho Kereti. 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 by those souls who have reached that particular level of spiritual development, in accordance with the root connection of those souls with their respective particular Jzhirum. There is no FREEDOM OF CHOICE IN SELECTING A PATH. A PATH IS ALREADY PRESCRIBED for your Soul, you are here on earth to follow it.
It is a common site to see a Parsee visiting temples and Churches, and attend all kinds of spiritual activities to gain more and more material wealth, whereas, some argue that they have faith in such non-Zoroastrian practices purely for the spiritual reasons. My dear Zarathustri, by following or believing in some other Faith may give you peace and satisfaction to your Mind & Body, but what about your Soul that is destined to nourish and attain salvation ONLY through ONE PATH? Your Birth in Zarathustri religion is itself an answer for your query as to why you should follow NONE other than Zarathustri religion. If you keep on satisfying your mind and body, a day will come when "material life" will be over to submit your Soul with its "gifts of progression" in the divine world. That time none of your efforts by following non-Zarathustri practices will help its progression, BECAUSE IT WAS NOT "DESIGNED" TO RECEIVE UNMATCHED VIBRATIONS FROM SUCH SOURCES.
The consistency of Ahuviyat (Evil) in different souls is of various degrees. So Farohars are also of different degrees. (Paourva Fravashi is One Whole Light, but Farohars have different grades). There are even three classes of Farohars of holy souls (Ashavans) as explained in Yast 13, which I would prefer not to elaborate in this topic. In relation to the current topic, each soul receives its large or small share of the divine nourishment in varying degrees in just proportion to its Ahuviyat. Similarly, Paths were also assigned to each one of them depending on their progression stage i.e. to say, how far they have dissolved "Dravao" or Ahuviyat.
The spiritual fitness of a soul for professing Zarathustrianism or any other religion of the world can be adjudged only by nature that is omniscient. The law of gradation applies to religion, Prophets and human souls and every creation expounded in HIS Design of this universe. All souls are exiled for their Reformation first to the planetary world (Nisti), and thence to the varied stages of the lower world (the Space) or to the earth (Geti) at its bottom. Every soul on its long long journey to exile is labelled with the divine prescription which lays down nature's processes for transmutation of the soul's Druj into Gao, i.e. Evil into Good for effecting its individual "Frasho-gard", Renovation.
If a person joins (by wedlock) with another of its kind (i.e. of same Path & category) there soul collectively can generate divine strength from each other for accelerating their Urvaans' progression after death. This applies only to those who are joined together by proper wedding ritual preferably in Aderan or Atash Behram and belong to the SAME PATH (Religion). By event of marriage, two Urvaans are considered as one in performance of Deeds & Duty attached with their life and beyond (until Khaethvodat) for their Urvaan's progression. That is why divorce or remarriage is not recommended in our religion.
In one part of Ashirwad Ceremony, the initiating Priests recites "Airyema Ishyo" prayer as blessings for the couple and join them together for their spiritual progression. It's Manthras are 'blessing creating' for a Farzand born through their union who will accelerate their soul's progression even more. Now, if one of the couple belongs to another class, group or Path (religion) of Urvaan's progression cycle, his/ her "design" will be different from the corresponding partner. As a result, after death one has to drag behind another in the spiritual process whereby both are obstructed to proceed faster in their cycle of progression. Even an intimate relationship with a non-Zarathustri hampers the soul's progression, which is known as "Gunahe- Ravani in Patet Pashemani. Because such an act (deed) becomes a conflicting factor that will follow even after death of a person.
When a Zarathustri couple gets married, they have to undergo Nahn ritual prior to Ashirwad ceremony. The reason why we undergo Nahn ritual is that, we clean and immune our Aipi (helping Kehrpa, Ushtan,Teveshi) to receive the Manthric vibrations from Ashirwad prayer to affect their (couple) Urvaan and its advancement cycle. A "spiritual connections" (Seven Circles by reciting seven Yatha Ahu Vairyo) demonstrated by two Priests after Ashirwad and related Tarikats followed thereafter becomes the everlasting tie not just in material world but also in the spiritual world. In Parsee Gujarati we jokingly say, " Aheyan Malyo Upar na Malto" which is not true for a wedded couple. Now, if a Zarathustri marries outside, whether through registered marriage or by his/ her spouses' non-Zoroastrian religious ritual, he/ she may feel acceptable in the material viewpoint but, one cannot witness a disaster happening by that event in his/her spiritual composition. My dear Zarathustri, our senses are limited to ONLY earthly objects and activities. There is no gain but loss in challenging HIS divinities in different forms and different religious practices.
When both Zarathustri male and female answer the Priest by saying "Pasand -Kardid", it does NOT mean that "do you like your mate". This question is asked three times in the forth para of the Ashirwad to confirm that both male and female in that marriage tie has accepted this spiritual tie by his/her Manashni for LIFE. When they acknowledge this question by repeating the above Manthras, they are spiritually bound together observing the principles of Meher (truthful affirmation) by Ashirwad ceremony.
In Ashirwad ceremony, both Zarathustri male & female pledge for many joint material acts and spiritual ties that helps them to be a part of that process called Khaethvodat. In this process, all counterparts of a particular soul (male and female) that are scattered in different creations of Ahura Mazda, will be united and become one. Lets highlight some terms from Pazand Ashirwad that makes a meaningful composition of material and spiritual life. In starting, a word "Paemaan" means, in the name of God, i.e. to say, a pledge for maintaining tie by marriage "Anda Zendahi" means, for lfe. This is what the parents of bride repeat for acceptance of that marriage. In our religion, "Meher" (truth) plays a very significant role and its adherence under all circumstances is a fundamental teachings of Paigambar Saheb Asho Zarathustra Spitama. "Meher" establishes the laws of "Paemaan-e-Kad-Khudai" that relates to marriage and principles of Kaethvodat as mentioned above.
DIVORCE IS A NON-ZOROASTRIAN PRACTICE, which is nothing but a compromise to give up material obligations and responsibilities. People fail to understand that marriage ties does not end with death but continues till the time of "Khaethvodat" of that soul. If both parents were familiar with this "process" and "Kuvate Aekhlaki" (Ethical Training … one of the six training as per Ashirwad Prayer), there is no need to have Matrimonial Courts or Divorce. In Patet Pashemani prayer, "Doode Vehan-vasovashi" is regarded as a sin relates to the ancestral family of the person who engages in such marriage, if the marriage is broken by the original family. Thus, "Bunyad" of male Parsee is deteriorated and the "Bunyad" of female is destroyed. By the way, let me share a very important news related to Divorce that I read in Dini-Awaz Magazine:
Under Sections 4 & 52 of the Parsi Marriage & Divorce Act III of 1936, NO COURT IS COMPETENT TO GRANT A LEGALLY VALID DIVORCE DECREE OR DECREE OF NULLITY TO SUCH A PARSI PERSON. "Parsees who are settled in UK, Canada USA and elsewhere may please note that it is advisable for any Parsee who has had his/her marriage ceremony solemnised and performed in accordance with Zoroastrian religious Ashirwad ceremony rite and custom to COME TO INDIA AND FILE A DIVORCE OR NULLITY SUIT ONLY IN THE PARSEE CHIEF MATRIMONIAL COURT AT BOMBAY IF THEY WANT A LEGALLY VALID DIVORCE." ANY NON-COMPLIANCE TO THIS LAW WOULD BE CONSIDERED A CRIMINAL OFFENCE OF BIGAMY AND UPTO SEVEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT, UNDER PARSI LAW.
Regardless of the laws of the land, Staotic effects of our Ashirwad ceremony when performed in Aderan and Atash-Behram in the presence of sacred fire, is far beyond human ties or material obligations. If Ashirawad is performed in hotel room or Baug as a "social compromise" to consider this "holy binding" for the entertainment purpose, it will lose its effect in such environment. Only time of its performance acceptable is early morning during Hoshbam i.e. 36 minutes before Sunrise. It is very unfortunate that our Priestly class is not active in promoting this practice and educate our community on the bad effects of getting it done during "Gaashak" time (half hour after sunset and between 12 midnight to 1:20am). This time is full of Drujih vapors in the atmosphere, it is the time when we perform Sarosh-nu- Patru for the deceased Soul for three days. Think about it. During Hoshbam time (dawn) the Staot in nature are clean and unpolluted and the currents of Asare-Roshni are more helpful for the spiritual progress of the couple as well as the Mobed Saheb who is performing the ceremony.
Mind and Body
When a sin is committed by Mind-Body, Urvaan is not contributing to their act but has to suffer the consequences, which is an extension of time required to dissolve "Dravao" for Urvaan's progression. This proves that body & soul are two different things. As Zarathustri, your Mind-Body may accept the wedlock with a non-Zarathustri but your Urvaan certainly will not, because it is of different class and progression level. Any act or outcome of sexual relationship with a non-Zarathustri is regarded as an act against our scriptural definition of "Tokhmak-paspaan" , also called Bunak Pasbani (preservation of seed). A Tokhmak "Bunak" is a "human seed" that is divinely designed by Ahura-Mazda to procreate another Soul of its class or progression cycle. A soul has to born only by a particular seed. When it gets mixed with another, or of some different class, it causes disaster in spiritual development of that individual in the material and spiritual world. This is one of the reasons why our scriptures authenticate our practice of initiating only a Athravan son for Priesthood. Spirituality is transmitted through Genes. That is to say, a structure is built by human for a particular class of Urvaan to reside within for its progression.
Remember, our Mind-Body are two Dravao capturing & generating elements that has to be 'regulated' by His assigned Path otherwise, it may work contrary to the objective of its creation - Urvaan's progress. One has to keep himself/ herself attuned with His world by practicing a chain of spiritual processes Mithra-Manthra-Tarikats to control Mind & Body in compliance with His design and individual Baghobakht (destiny). In short, following religious injunction (Tarikats), and prayers (Manthras) will develop a surrounding atmosphere that will improve your Mithra (thought process) and regulate your mind with the strength of Baodhang (spiritual knowledge) to contribute more & more towards "Panje Zarvekashe Batem" (divine wealth related to each soul) for our Urvaan's progression.
My advice to those on Internet and elsewhere who believe that Zoroastrian Marriage is a CONTRACT, institution of marriage in our religion is NOT JUST BASED ON CONTRACTUAL AGREEMENT between two individuals to cohabit and procreate. Neither, laws of the land that are made by humans who are obviously imperfect can rule it. If marriage is just a part of human life regulated by legal bindings then, there was no need for our prophet to give us a PATH, (Religion) to follow for the unfoldment of Soul. There is no need to have an Ashirwad Ceremony, if it is just a question of signature on paper giving consent to marry someone. There is no need to have Nahn ceremony to either prepare oneself to absorb Staotic effects from Ashirwad ceremony for spiritual progression. Like Muslims, we can also make up several different types of marriages to enjoy freedom of choice or go to Las Vegas to have it done in five minutes or make something like Talak,Talak,Talak and break every spiritual ties with one another and enjoy this physical world. My dear Zarathustris, if you are not spiritually inclined and do not care for your divine ingredients attached with your body, there is no need to farce or degrade our religious taboos and Tarikats to proclaim your ignorance. In such circumstances your only option is to initiate learning exercises to understand our religion first before using your commonsense which is obviously insignificant to practice HIS PATH.
It is the fundamental truth in nature to learn religion from those who practice it everyday. If you are atheist or do not believe in God or spiritual aspects of life as per our religion, I have no intention to convince you to learn from this article. It's your Bagobakht (destiny) to make you walk on HIS Path or otherwise, I cannot change it. But, if your Soul is destined to get an insight to flourish through this article, I would consider myself a very fortunate Athravan to serve Him by serving my community.
For the readers' information, because of the lengthy details and explanations of Ashirwad ritual and various blessings related issues with Urvaans' connections and their progress, the author has purposely omitted the details of this topic.
Atha Zamyat Yatha Afrinami
In His Service,
Ervad (Dr.) Hoshang J. Bhadha
Traditional Zoroastrianism Home Page
Chapters of the Saga
Saga of the Aryans Home Page
How to get the Saga in book form