Recently in the Jame, a centrepage article was published entitled "THE CONTROVERSY IN THE COMMUNITY FROM A GATHIC PERSPECTIVE". As the Gatha alone cult has always done, this article sought to demean the dakhma-nashini method our forefathers have used for thousands of years. The religious stalwart Rustom C. Chothia immediately penned a suberb reply to the Gatha alone cult article, and this reply is reproduced below for the benefit of Zarathushtris worldwide.
ARE THE GATHAS ALL THAT ASHO ZARATHUSHTRA TAUGHT?
by Rustom C. Chothia
It is a sad day today when everybody and anybody without any knowledge or authority starts writing and preaching in public about the lofty Religion that Asho Zarathushtra gave us. It all started in North America where a Muslim who has deserted his God given Religion suddenly started 'preaching' Zoroastrianism. Of course, there are several foreign scholars who have made an indepth study of Asho Zarathushtra's teachings like Bartholemew, Pourre Daud, Rev. Mills, Darmesteter, Hinnells and Boyce to name a few. These are genuine scholars who limited themselves to the study of the Religion. They have translated most of our scriptures philologically but have not interfered or tried to alter or misrepresent anything. Though they could not grasp the esoterical meanings hidden in the lore, they have not performed any disservice to our Religion. In fact they have contibuted very positively to the study and understanding of our Religion. Most important none have tried to "become" Zoroastrians, as they all knew that Zoroastrianism accepts no converts, and deserting their own God given Religion is a sin. But suddenly there comes this Muslim heretic who claims to be a Ph.D. from some University in Pakistan, (a fact which is catagorically denied by all the Universities over there). Without any authority from anywhere he claims to have embraced Zoroastrianism. He has started converting other Muslims to his brand of Zoroastrianism, and also regularly performs "Navjots" of any and sundry. Which Religious Authority has ordained him to do all this? Can a person who is not a Zoroastrian, leave aside a Navar or Martab perform a Navjot? Worst of all he has denounced all our Holy Scriptures (except the Gathas) as unZoroastrian and is promoting a cult saying that Prophet Asho Zarathushtra taught ONLY the Gathas. Not only has he misguided people, including born Zoroastrians, (he has a great following of intermarried Zoroastrians) but these misinformed, misguided people are now starting to teach these things to the ignorant gullible laity. Suddenly one Maharukh Shroff has taken it upon herself to teach us that Dokhmenashini is not mentioned in the Gathas. She is like a blind lady in a dark room looking for a black cat which is not there. When she says that there are no rituals mentioned in the Gathas she is looking for geometry in a poetry book. (The Holy Gathas are the poems or songs of Asho Zarathushtra). People of her ignorance had better keep quiet than misguide the community. It is not only harmful but is actually a sin to teach wrong things of any religion.
By what stretch of imagination can one believe that in Asho Zarathushtra's 40 odd years of preaching he wrote only 17 chapters comprising of only some 6000 odd words? In the Sharestan (which is a historical record) it is mentioned that When Prophet Asho Zarathushtra came to the court of King Vishtasp he brought 3 things. First was the Twenty one Nasks of the Avesta, secondly was the Fire Known as Adar Burzin, which burned without fuel and emanated no smoke and did not burn the hand of the person who held it.. (We remember this fire with reverence in our Atash Nyaish) And thirdly He brought a branch of a cypress tree which when planted in the garden of Vishtasp grew leaves on each of which were inscribed the words: "Vishtasp accept the good Religion". It is pertinent to note that the 21 Nasks or volumes are named after the 21 words of the Yatha Ahu Vairyo Prayer.
It is true that our Holy Scriptures have been destroyed twice, once during the invasion of Alexander the accursed and a second time by the Arabs. However, Prophet Sahib had instructed the priests to memorise all that he taught and it is due to this faithful act of the devoted clergy that we have today so many extant manuscripts. It is from these manuscripts that later were collected and collated that we have whatever knowledge we possess today. Does this mean that Prophet Asho Zarathushtra did not teach us all this? It is definitely not a figment of the imagination of the priests. Maharukh compares ALL priests to the kavis and the karapans. What an insult to our most holy and revered priests, who generation after generation by word of mouth handed to us the teachings and prayers of Asho Zarathushtra. What a disgaraceful comparison. Would any devoted Zoroastrian think of priests of the stature of Aderbaad Marespand and Naryosangh Dhawal, as Karapaans? Karapaans are the sacrificial priests of the earlier faith (before Asho Zarathushtra) who had corrupted the religion by their sacrificial rituals.
And who says Prophet Asho Zarathushtra was against rituals or ceremonies? Maharukh emphasises that: "Zarathushtra does NOT prescribe any rituals". In the Sharestan and the Zardust Namag it is documented that Prophet Sahib Asho Zarathushtra Himself performed the Yasna Ceremony and consecrated "Darun". [Yes the same Darun that today's priests consecrate in the Yasna (Ijashne) and Baaj ceremonies.] He also consecrated wine, milk, pomegranate and flowers. After performing the ceremony He gave the wine to Vishtasp to drink , who then fell asleep and his soul travelled to the other world, and he saw his place in it. He gave the milk to Peshotan to drink, who thereby became immortal. He gave the pomegranate to Aspandyar to eat, and his body became as hard as bronze. He gave the flowers to Jamasp to smell, after which he could foretell future events. (He is the author of the Jamaspi).
The Gatha alone cult denies that Asho Zarathushtra was a Priest. However, in the Farvardin Yasht we pray: " USHTA NO ZATO ATHRAVA YO SPITAMA ZARATHUSHTRA". Meaning: Happiness for us that the Athravan (Priest) Spitama Zarathushtra is born. Not only that, but the heretic has also mistranslated the Farvardin Yasht and changed the word ATHRAVA to MANTHRANO at one place and ATHRAVA to RATUSH at another place. Who has the authority to tamper with our Holy Scriptures thus?? Could he dare do it to his own Koran - he will be immediately beheaded. It is a pathetic that not a single of our High Priests has taken any cognisance of this, or voiced any protest, or educated the community, but all have preferred to sit in their ivory towers as our Religion is burned down.
Ignorant Maharukh further goes to state that according to Asho Zarathushtra "Religion is not about reading words from a prayer book . . . " . In the very first verse of the holy Gathas Asho Zarathushtra prays: "With deep humility and uplifted hands do I PRAY for the wisdom of Vohu Mano so that I can bring bliss to this world." Again in the Holy Gathas Prophet Sahib Asho Zarathushtra says: " Devout Prayers for righteous ends never go unanswered" (Ys. 28-10) Also He says: " Silent meditation (prayer) is best for the soul" (Ys.43-15). In Ys. 34-6 Asho Zarathushtra prays for guidance from Ahura Mazda. Time and again in the Holy Gathas does Prophet Asho Zarathushtra tell us to Praise Ahura Mazda. In Ys 43-8 Asho Zarathushtra talks of "weaving hymns of praise to Thee (Ahura Mazda)". In Ys 45-8 He says: "Him will I seek to turn, with hymns of adoration . .". In the next Stanza He says: "Him will I seek to propitiate . .". Again in the next Stanza He says: "Him through devotion to Armaiti will I seek to exalt . . .". Then in Ys. 49-12 Prophet Sahib Asho Zarathushtra says: "I verily with hymns of praise would please you". In Ys.50-4 Prophet Sahib Asho Zarathushtra says: " And singing praises I would worship you O Mazda Ahura". In Ys. 50-8 Prophet Sahib declares thus: "Ever with chants that well up from my innermost heart, may I reach near to Thee". In Ys. 50-9 He says: " Praising with these hymns may I come back to Thee O Mazda". In Ys.50-11 Sahib says: "And I would consider myself to be, and will be your praiser O Mazda". These are some of the instances in the Holy Gathas where Prophet Sahib talks of praising Ahura Mazda. Now how do we praise Ahura Mazda? The Nyaishes which are our farajyat prayers are the prayers of Praise to Ahura Mazda. Take as an example the very first para of the Khorshed Nyaish. It goes thus: " Glory be to Ahura Mazda. (One Ashem Vohu). In the name of the Creator I praise and invoke Ahura Mazda, who is the Keeper of Treasures, Glorious, Omniscient, the Perfector of all deeds, the Lord of Lords, King of Kings, the Protector, the Creator, the Giver of daily bread, the Natural and the Powerful, without beginning or end, the Bestower of good things, the Forgiver of sins, the Loving, the Omnipotent, the Wise and the Nourisher. May the Majesty and Glory of the Lord Ahura Mazda, who is the Creator of the whole world, be on the increase". Ignorant Maharukh further states: ". . .Reading words from a prayer book which you don't even understand" There is no question of not understanding our prayers. Translations are available in Sanskrit, Gujerati, English, Hindi French and German . but one cannot pray in these languages. The beauty is to pray in the original language. Don't Hindus pray in Sanskrit, though it is not a language of daily use and people do not understand it? Don t Christians pray in Latin? Don't Muslims pray in their own language which they write backwards? So why should we shy away to pray in Avesta? In fact we should be proud to pray in the very language our beloved Prophet Sahib used.
Another thing not understood by the ignorant Maharukh is that our prayers, which are called "Manthravani", are Holy Spells. The are loaded with power and energy of Ahura Mazda. They are not just meaningless babbles. They loose their efficacy if translated or tampered with. Prayer is a solemn communication with God and has to treated with the seriousness it deserves.
If Maharukh talks of our prayers being "Words from a prayer book which you don't even understand" then how come she can "understand" the Gathas? Are they also not in the same Avestan Language? Can she understand the Gathas but not the rest of the Avesta? She would do well to heed the advice Asho Zarathushtra gives in Ys. 44 of the Gathas, namely: "He who inqiures into the Religion with, good words and thoughts, recieves all knowledge in the world owing to his piety".
Maharukh says: "Religion is not about visiting Agiaries and Atash Behrams". Poor ignorant girl, she does not know that our holy Scriptures clearly tell us that Fire is the Son of God. "ATHRE AHURO MAZDAO PUTHRE". However these Gatha cult people do not consider fire sacred and the heretic has tampered even with the Atash Nyaish and removed the word 'Puthre'. This is because in Islam Allah has no son. This heretic is Islamising our Religion. Poor ignorant Maharukh says: "A thousand priests praying for the soul of a person whose remains have been consigned to the Dokhma, according to 'proper' Zoroastrian traditions will not help a debauched and vile person see the light of lights". The 4 day ceremonies and prayers offered when a person dies are NOT meant for trying to send sinners to heaven. The Sachkar ceremony forms a Kash around the corpse to contain the druj e naso. The Sagdid (seeing by dog) keeps evil spirits away, (dogs can see what we can't see), also a dog can determine if there is any life in the corpse, and the Geh Sarna is actually a prayer to protect the living from druj e naso. The invocation of Sarosh Yazad for the first three nights is to protect the soul (good or bad) from invisible evil which otherwise attacks the soul. The afternoon Uthamna Ceremony is more a social prayer event where relatives and friends pay their respects, and finally the will of the deceased is read. Whether a person goes to the House of Song (or lights) or goes to the dark abyss below is determined only on the dawn of the fourth day at the Bridge of the Separator, (the Peretu Chinvat), where Meher Yazad, Rashne Yazad and Asho Zarathushtra proclaim judgement.
Maharukhs pen is a two edged sword. On the one hand she condemns the Holy Vendidad saying it is not of Prophet Asho Zarathushtra, but a much later composition. On the other hand she quotes Fargaad 7 of the very same Vendidad as 'exhorting men to pull down the Dakhmas every 50 years and asks whether the community has done this since they were built.' Fact is that in the olden days open land was a plenty and land was mainly used for agricultural purposes. Now the land upon which a Dakhma stands is impure and unfit for agriculture for a period of 50 years. It was in this context that this stipulation was put. But in the case of our hallowed Doongerwadi lands this question will never arise as the land is never going to be reused for any other purpose except resting dead bodies for the purpose of Khurshed Nagirishni. It is for this reason also that the Dakhmas have been built so solid and strong. In the olden days Dakhmas were only for preventing wolves and dogs from carrying the bones away and defiling other lands.
Let us all look at history. Why, oh why did our ancestors led by Holy Nairyosangh Dhaval leave Iran and come to an unknown land? They were very happy in Iran. Only they had to give up the Good Religion. BUT our brave ancestors left their lands, properties, fortunes, finances, their houses and all their worldly possessions for what?? FOR THE RELIGION. - FOR PROTECTING, PRACTICING AND PRESERVING THE GOOD MAZDAYASNI RELIGION, given to us by Prophet Asho Zarathushtra. Today we exist as Zarathusties because of the supreme sacrifice our forefathers made, because of their suffering untold hardships in a strange land, because of their unfaltering FAITH. Let us all have that type of faith. Let us BELIEVE what our Beloved Prophet Sahib Asho Zarathushtra taught us, the knowledge which has come down from generations immemorial. For him who believes no proof is necessary - for him who doesn't, no proof is possible.
It is not in vain that we pray daily in the Doa Tandarosti "Besyaar saal arzaanidaar, Yazashne va Nyaishne, va radi va zor barashne". (For many years may the prayers of the Yasna and the Nyaishes be recited and may acts of charity be performed). I humbly urge sister Maharukh and people like her to devote a few years to the study of our lofty Religion before writing in public and misguiding the laity, or to follow in faith the footsteps of her ancestors who preserved and protected the Good Religion whose benefits we are enjoying today.
RUSTOM C. CHOTHIA.
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