Dastur, Herbud (Ervard) & Mobed: by Dr. Pallan R. Ichaporia

Dear Friends: Following is for your reading pleasure.

Several people have asked me what is the difference between a 'Dastur', and a 'Mobed'. Are all our priests we have in America to be called Dasturs or they be called Mobeds? It is tedious to answer individually so I am giving a brief explanation for all who are interested.

Dastur is the title of the High Priest. The Pahlavi word is 'DASTOBAR'. The word 'Dastur' does not occur in Avesta. The word 'dastur' means 'one who yields power'. In the Sasanian time the word Dastur was also used to signify a minister of state. More ancient form of dastur is DASTOBARA. In Avesta the dignity of dastur could be traced to Yasna 19,18 where among the chiefs (five in number) of the house, the community, the land ,the province, the fifth is called the priest (Av. athravan ), particularly the athravan-priest should be as truthful as Zarathushtra to yield the power. Such priests were often called 'Zarathushtremao'. This is the highest classification of the priest in Avesta as a spiritual head and guide. Such High Priest should be a learned priest with mastery of Avesta, Pahlavi and Zand (according to the Pahlavi Texts). Only a Dastur be called upon to officiate as the Judge, although in Sasanian times others were also appointed to the office of supreme justice with the title of RAD (Avesta: ratu). Such Judges were also called as Datobar (Pahlv.) - Dawar (ModPers) Originally DATOBARA = Upholder of Justice.

Herbed (Pahlavi) , Herbud (Modern Persian), Ervard (ParsiGuj), Aethrapaiti (Avesta) are students of Zoroastrian theology, and of priestly order, who have finished their studies and successfully read their first Izeshne. Pahl. Yazishn, Middle Persian: Yasn. Those Herbads who chiefly engage in the performance of ceremonies and rituals become Mobeds, Pahl. Magopat which indicates a form Mago-paiti often called as 'upholder of religion' and they become the students of the Avesta (according to Dadestane Dinik). The Herbeds and Mobeds (as well as the students in the Herbedestan, the Zoroastrian priestly school/Madressa) are subordinate to Dastur. Between the Dastur and Mobeds there is a marked distinction according to the Pahlavi books as noted above.

We need to apply the above criteria in calling our priests as Dastur or Ervard or Mobed.

With kind regards,

Dr. Pallan R. Ichaporia.

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