10 February 2007
Dear fellow Zarathushtis,
cc: Vada Dasturjis, Ervad Sahebs, Bombay Parsee Punchayat (BPP), Zoroastrian Studies, Religious Anjumans, Priestly Madrassas, Traditional Zoroastrian Home page moderators, TMYZ officials, prominent Zarathushtis, etc.
Of late there is been an attempt by a mislead group of Zarathushtis, who have formed a so-called Association for Revival of Zoroastrianism, abbreviated to ARZ.
This group specialises in taking out adverts in the Jame Jamshed weekly.
These mislead Zarathushtis, with good intentions or not, believe that the Zoroastrian religion has an element of "conversion" built into it. To justify that, they frequently quote that the Gathas have spoken about "conversion" and that the Zoroastrian religion should "spread" across the 7 oceans, etc etc.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The only conversion mentioned in the Gathas is "converting" one's evil or bad mentality and vices into good mentality or virtues. That in a nutshell is the message of our dear Prophet Zarathushtra.
It is so illogical to conceive of an idea of conversion since it is Divine Will to have more than one religions and to that effect different Prophets had been sent on this Earth on different times amongst different peoples to spread the message of God in different tongues.
If any religion including Zoroastrianism is universal, as ARZ claims, then we would have amidst us only one religion - Zoroastrianism. But that is not a fact in reality, along with Zoroastrianism, there are other great religions too - like Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc.
All religions are great and best suited for the persons born into that religion, and that way all religions have some common universal truths - Be good, kind, charitable, control your anger, vices, etc. But to claim that one religion, Zoroastrianism or other, is an universal solution and that too by mis-quoting from the Holy scriptures is clearly wrong and also a big sin (gunah). We hope that ARZ and its supporters understand the great wrong they are committing by mis-leading members of our community.
These ARZ group also cause problems in our community and a headache for our dear Vada Dasturjis by raising funds for a "universal or cosmopolitan agiary", as if such an agiary is ever possible under the tenets of the Zarathushti religion. They did so for a place in Colaba, and now they want to do so in a land they acquired in Malad, in Mumbai. They have openly said that this is for spouses of community members married outside the fold.
So there you have it, dear friends, all this seemingly religiously sounding cause is just a back-door entry for inter-marrieds and their spouses into our community. They have been rightly forbidden entry by honest means so now they have got this ruse to try and sneak in intermarried couples and their inter-married children through the back door. We strongly criticise such misleading actions on ARZ and strongly recommend all Zarathushtis to keep their distance from associations like ARZ, which claim to do good on the open but have a hidden agenda.
Our Vada Dasturjis have clearly and openly stated that the Zoroastrian religion does not have conversion built into it, and that intermarriage is not recognised by our religion. Thus inter-marrieds and their spouses, be they male or female; and their children be they male or female, are not recognised as Zarathushtis.
Of late, they have recruited the help of a inter-married lady by the name of Dina McIntyre, who is married to a Christian westerner, to help them in their cause by giving speeches, etc.
Fellow Zarathushtis - be vigilant and aware of such misguided propaganda. If in doubt, please send your queries to your Vada Dasturjis or traditional platforms like TZML, TMYZ,.etc.
You may write to TZML on firstname.lastname@example.org, TMYZ on TMYZemail@example.com , or to the moderators of the world famous Traditional Zoroastrian home page on traditionals@ParsiZoroastrianism.com for clarifications and queries.
The website address for the Traditional Home page is www.ParsiZoroastrianism.com
We enclose below a very lucid and easy to understand explanation on the fallacies of ARZ by a well-known Zarathushti writer, Mrs. Pervin J Mistry.
Please circulate this warning and the one of Mrs. Mistry to all Zarathushtis in India and overseas.
Please see below for a very lucid explanation by Mrs Pervin J Mistry
We are all aware of a new group calling itself the ARZ (Association for the Revival of Zoroastrianism). Very wisely, one Dasturji Saheb has replaced the word "Revival" in its title to "Ruination". Most community members agree! The ARZ uses the weekly issues of the Jam-e to distort our sacred Avesta. Together, the ARZ and Jam-e work to subvert our religion and religious beliefs.
The ARZ gives paid advertisements every Sunday by misquoting our Sacred Scriptures. It appears as if the mindless twisting of our Sacred Scriptures is done by little kids who open the Holy Avesta and whenever they find the words "haft keshvar zamin" in the sacred Avesta, they gleefully run to the press at Jam-e and distort the verses by stating that the religion teaches proselytism! Nothing can be further from the truth!
The first question that should be asked of these "children" is, who has authorised them to misquote and pervert the Sacred Scriptures? Have they studied the Sacred Avesta? If yes, what is their academic qualification in matters of Religion and under whom have they studied the Avesta? If they have not studied the Sacred Scriptures then they should at least leave matters of the Religion alone and instead of ruining the Religion and their own soul they should have Faith, first and foremost, in the Teachings of our Paigambar Saheb, Din-Dasturs and forefathers!
TMYZ will post replies to their advertisements. Please, if the members have a printer at home, do print out as many copies as each of you can print and circulate these. Let the Zarthushtis who are not aware of the truth become informed of the great deception these ARZwallas are carrying out in the name of our Religion!
Their advertisements are often repeated when they run out of new so-called "evidence". The first issue TMYZ will deal with is with reference to " haft keshvar zamin". These sublime words appear at the end of every Yasht and Niyayesh. But do these words imply conversion from religion to religion? Please read what is the correct translation and meaning of "haft keshvar zamin".
At the end of every Niyayesh and Yasht, we pray, "Daad din beh Mazdayasnan agahi ravahi goafrangani bad, haft keshvar zamin aedun baad". ARZ asks, does this not advocate conversion? Are we not mandated to convert other followers of other religions from all the seven regions or continents of the Earth to the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Religion?
Answer: It is true that we pray these words included in the smaller khshnooman dedicated to a specific Ameshaspand or Yazad in our Yashts and Niyayeshes; also in the Kerfeh Mozda prayer the words "haft keshvar zamin" appear, but the connotation regarding conversion from religion to religion is incorrect. The sentence in the smaller khshnooman in every Yasht and Niyayesh begins with the key word " daad", meaning the laws of the good Mazdayasni Religion! "Agahi" means wisdom (of the laws of the religion). "Ravahi" means obedience (to the laws of the religion, also to the soul or "ravan"), and "goafrangani" means praise (to sing the praises of the laws of the religion). No fewer words have been more misunderstood and misinterpreted than these words of sublime homage to our Din!
a) In the above sentence, "agahi" indicates wisdom. "Daad" means law and therefore, "agahi" or wisdom refers to the wise, spiritually progressive laws of the good Mazdayasni Religion that should be spread and increased over the seven regions of the Earth. The most sublime and the most exalted wisdom of the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din is to convert Angre Mainyu to Spenta Mainyu, and not followers of other revealed religions. The laws of the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Religion are based on the Laws of Asha that teach the ethical conversion of converting vices to virtues. The Gathas specifically teach us to choose between the two paths of righteousness and unrighteousness. The two paths, one leading to Spenta Mainyu (wisdom, righteousness), and the other leading to Angre Mainyu (spiritual ignorance, unrighteousness) are specifically identified and described. Choice is intricately interwoven with grave responsibility as to which of the two paths we select in every thought, word and deed. This ethical choice results in either reward or punishment, as expressly taught by our Paigambar Saheb. The only choice mentioned in the Gathas and throughout the Avesta is the ethical choice of selection between the two ethical paths alone and not choosing proselytism from one religion to another. The goal of every religion is to lead its followers, through righteousness, to "moksha", "nirvana", "mukti", Resurrection, towards the Divine Goal of attaining Frashogard. It is the knowledge, the wisdom of the fundamental law of converting evil to good, vices to virtues that a Zarthushti is required to spread on "haft keshvar zamin".
b) "Ravahi" denotes obedience. The devotee is asked to obey the Immutable Laws of Asha as prescribed by the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din. The immutable, fundamental and universal Law of Asha is to convert one's own evil mentality into goodness and godliness. Hence, this obedience to the spiritual law of the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din is to be spread universally on all the seven "earths".
Obedience or "ravahi" also implies obedience to the dictates of one's soul ("ravan"), which is spiritual and immortal. Being immortal, the soul is omniscient and chooses wisely before birth the time, parents, place and religion to which it will be born into. Ahura Mazda Himself has organized His creation into orderly groups. Yasna 19 illustrates the Divine WORD, the mystic Manthra of Ahunavar in detail. It explains the Will of Ahura Mazda and the establishment of the five main religions and their "Ratus" or Prophets as "pancha ratus" and "pancha tkaeshas". Since Ahura Mazda Himself has ordained different religions, it is spiritually ignorant to say that people can choose their religion reflectively. Religion, like parents, time and place of birth is pre-ordained. Therefore, "ravahi" indicates obedience to the soul and to His Will! Obedience indicates surrender, submission and not rebellious choices and preferential desires selected by the mind that is still in the process of evolving, spiritually imperfect and prone to err! The mind is trapped within the two opposing mentalities, Angre Mainyu and Spenta Mainyu, and is responsible for the choices made during life on Earth. The choice is the selection between the two mentalities, the two paths, not religions. "Ravahi" does not in the least indicate conversion from religion to religion.
c) "Goafrangani" means praise. We praise the laws of the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din which unravel the intimate workings of Nature, the laws which give us the wisdom to obey and choose wisely between the two paths of good and evil in every thought, word and deed. "Goafrangani" means we praise the laws of the great Mazdayasni Zarthuhsti Din, the Wisdom Religion, which teach us to turn "vauraya" (Yasna 31.3), from evil to good, to have faith in and to obey the teachings of our Holy Prophet Asho Zarathushtra!
d) "Haft keshvar zamin": "Haft" means seven and "zamin" indicates "earth". Some philologists have translated the word "keshvar" as the seven terrestrial continents of the Earth. The word "keshvar" (Avestic "karshvars") indicates "karsh" or "kash" meaning to draw mystic circles or talismanic rings. "Keshvars" are certain rarefied locations in the regions of upper space separated from the terrestrial Earth which is specifically identified as "Khwanirath". The " keshvars" should not be confused with the seven physical continents of this Earth. Our continents are not round circles and they are not talismanic rings. They keep drifting, change size and the numbers are also variable as in the beginning there was only one vast continent that later broke into several pieces creating the seven continents that are incidental. Hence, "haft keshvar zamin" does not indicate the seven terrestrial continents of the planet Earth but to non-physical, spherical regions that are multi-dimensional in space and are spiritually inter-connected to the Earth. Asho Zarathushtra's Divine Mission was not to incarnate on Earth to teach mundane geography and the existence of the seven physical continents into which the Earth is incidentally divided by the action of the continental plates that are perpetually drifting and in motion. Asho Zarathushtra's Divine Mission was to reveal the secret workings of Nature, of Immutable Asha, and to teach us of the spiritual world "mainyava" that has lead to the manifestation of our Earth, "Khvanirath". He has revealed that according to the Laws of Asha, there are only two Paths to choose from and these two Paths are the Paths of Angre Mainyu and Spenta Mainyu and the choice comes with grave responsibility, in this life and in after-life.
Yasna 32.3, (Ahunavaiti), refers to our Earth as "bumiyao haptaithe" or the "seven earths", synonymous with "haft keshvar zamin". The Vendidad, one of the original 21 Nasks, elucidates further on these "earths" and refers to these "haft keshvars" by describing them as Vouru Bareshti (situated in the north-west of "Khvanirath"), Vouru Zareshti (situated in the north-east of "Khvanirath"). Fradadafshu is located in the south-west of "Khvanirath"); Vidadafshu (south-east of "Khvanirath"). Arezahi is in the west and Savahi is located in the east of "Khvanirath". In the centre is "Khvanirath", our physical Earth! Bundahishn and Yasna 11.7 also place "Khvanirath" as centrally located, "mademe thrishva", as being situated in the center of the three pairs of " keshvars", the three pairs being, as illustrated, Vouru Bareshti, Vouru Zareshti, Fradadafshu, Vidadafshu, Arezahi and Savahi. As is evident, these seven "earths" are regions that are situated in pairs! Our physical continents are not in pairs, neither are they round and our Earth, "Khvanirath", cannot be said to be in the centre of the other six continents! Additionally and significantly, the Vendidad, differentiates the Earth or "Khvanirath" as being combined with "imat" or "this", meaning the "terrestrial earth", while all other "keshvars" are combined with "avat" or "that/those (upper) earths", indicating them to be rarefied, luminous orbs different from the terrestrial "Khvanirath". "Khvanirath" alone is declared to be known to, and is accessible to man! Hence, it is abundantly clear that "keshvars" indicate certain regions of upper space and not the seven terrestrial continents of this Earth.
When we pray the words, "may the wisdom, obedience and praise of the laws of the excellent Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din ever increase and spread over the seven regions", we maintain that we enlighten the followers of other "apara-tkaesha" or later religions to convert their own inherent vices to righteousness. Unless and until all souls attain to spiritual wisdom, Frashogard cannot be attained. We can effectively spread the knowledge, obedience and fame of the great Mazdayasni Zarthuhsti Din on all the regions of " haft keshvar zamin" by disseminating the moral conversion preached in the Gathas and other scriptures, of converting Angra Mainyu into Spenta Mainyu. We can spread the fame of the law that grants every man the moral freedom to choose consciously between the two paths of good and evil in every thought, word and deed performed. The immutable law of justice is taught as a consequence of selections made in every thought, word and deed committed during life. Heretics read the word "proselyte" where no such word is even remotely hinted at, in our Niyayeshes and Yashts! To spread "daad", "agahi, ravahi, goafrangani" on "haft keshvar zamin" only means that may we spread the wisdom, obedience and praise of the laws of the excellent Mazdayasni Zarthuhsti Religion; laws that teach to convert one's own inherent vices to virtues! The law is not to convert others from one revealed religion to another but only to practice the moral, inner conversion of choosing righteousness over the evil tendencies of the spiritually imperfect mind.
It should be noted that this sentence, "daad din beh Mazdayasnan agahi ravahi goafrangani baad, haft keshvar zamin aedun baad" ends with the words, "man ano awayad shudan", recited three times. It means 'I aught to go there". Where does the devotee wish to go from this world? Certainly not to roam endlessly on Earth if these words "haft keshvar zamin" indicate the terrestrial continents but the devotee expresses the desire to reach the spiritual world, to His Abode in Light from whence we originally came! It is a travesty against one's own religion to misquote scriptures, to take certain words out of context and use these to justify wrong ends and promote false teachings. Examining the location and meaning of these "haft keshvar zamin" as so stated in our scriptures, they indicate without a doubt that they are a spiritual map of the multi-dimensional locations situated in Space that surrounds our physical orb, the Earth, "Khwanirath". The spiritual talismanic regions are where the emancipated souls go to for their spiritual progress after the inevitable transition from the physical to the spiritual regions. As humans we are not only the outer physical body that we refer to as "tanu". As explained in Yasna 55, we have eight other spiritual and semi-spiritual components (9 in all). The physical body is only of the Earth, earthly. Even whilst living on Earth in the physical components, because we have the semi-spiritual and spiritual components interwoven within us, we have our multi-dimensional existence in other regions of space. The spiritual components of our body are compatible to have their existence in these subliminal regions or "keshvars". Life, as energy, is eternal and therefore an individual's spiritual progress too is eternal with or without the physical body. We do live and progress in the spiritual regions of space, the "haft keshvars". This then is the explanation of "haft keshvar zamin" and the sentence, "Daad din beh Mazdayasnan agahi ravahi goafrangani baad, haft keshvar zamin aedun baad. Man ano awayad shudan, man ano awayad shudan, man ano awayad shudan!
Moral conversion is the only conversion taught by Asho Zarathuhstra! Unless a person converts from within, unless a person leaves evil and turns to righteousness, would it help that person to simply become "good" by changing the name of one religion to another? No! To convert means to become spiritually wiser, to transform, modify, transmute the evil within to virtues and this can be achieved by following the dictates of any revealed religion one is born into. All religions teach an ethical code of conduct and lead the followers to Salvation. If "convert" means to leave one's own religion of birth and adopt a newer, alien one, there is absolutely no equivalent word for "to convert" in the Sacred Avesta.
Please do let other Zarthushtis know the correct translations of what the ARZ dishes out every Sunday. We will give them our weekly replies.
Pervin J Mistry
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