This is Part II of the famous article "Universalism and All that" by the Zoroastrian scholar RONI KHAN of India, published in the Jam-e-Jamshed paper in Bombay, India in 1995. The article is reproduced with kind permission, and great encouragement, from the Author as well as the newspaper.
UNIVERSALISM AND ALL THAT
Closing the Coffin of Conversion
by Roni K. Khan
WHY MANY RELIGIONS?
If the infinite variety that exists in Nature were to remain uncontrolled, it would get out of hand and turn into disorder, violating the paramount law of Asha. Therefore, recognizing that some things are relatively less different than others, Nature invariably injects order into diversity by arranging all manner of things into ORDERLY GROUPS in which the individual constituents are approximately alike. This is a law of creation, evident even in the grouping of the planets around the Sun.
The same applies to souls. Though differences exist and no two souls are ever identical, there are degrees of difference. Some are more alike in their spiritual make-up than others. Thus, those souls falling within a certain range of resemblance lend themselves to being clubbed together as a distinct group. Likewise, other souls which are approximately alike within their own range fall into another group. Nature continues this process of "sorting" till all souls are categorized in an orderly fashion into several homogeneous soul-groups based on relative resemblance.
Now bear in mind that just as the body requires food for its physical needs, the soul also requires nourishment for its spiritual needs. Without such sustenance, a soul cannot build up the motive energy required for it to forge ahead on the path of Asha and overcome its "dravaao." While a common spiritual diet is quite suitable for all souls belonging to the same soul-group where needs are more or less shared incommon, the same diet obviously cannot suit all soul-groups indiscriminately. Each soul-group requires its own spiritual diet.
In mundane terms, think of it as a matter of digestion. It is not hard to guess what would happen to Mr. Tanaka in Tokyo if he switched over to a diet of red-hot Goa sausages and pork saportel, or to Mr. Gomes in Goa if he decided to go in for seaweed and sushi (raw fish). Indigestion! It is not that the Japanese or the Indian digestion is superior or inferior: both are different, that's all. And of course, it should not be forgotten that while physical indigestion due to the consumption of inappropriate food makes itself felt very quickly, the metaphysical ill-effects on the soul of an inappropriate spiritual diet become fully apparent only at the time of judgment on the Chinvat Bridge -- by when it is too late. Spiritual progress requires that a soul's nutritional support has to be "just right."
Religions provide food for souls, but the menu differs. There are many religions, because different soul-groups need to be provided with different spiritual diets. Each religion is a different bundle of spiritual precepts and practices, because soul-groups differ from each other in their spiritual character and needs. A particular religion provides the particular spiritual diet that is required for, appropriate to, and digestible by a particular soul-group. There has therefore never been, and there can never be, one "universal religion" capable of catering to the spiritual needs of all mankind.
BIRTH OR CHOICE?
An unbreakable spiritual chain interlinks a soul, a soul-group, and a religion. A soul belonging to a particular soul-group has a particular spiritual requirement which only a particular religion is designed to satisfy. Therefore, the religion to which a soul needs to belong is a settled matter even before it actually incarnates.
This preordained tie between a soul and its matching religion cannot be established on earth through any criterion other than the benchmark of birth. Birth and religion are inseparably intertwined, and any later conversion is invalid in Nature.
Conversion is a spiritual impossibility. An incarnating soul's distinctive spiritual characteristics are carried by what may be termed "spiritual genes" that are not subject to change. And since the particular religion attached to a soul at birth is matched to that soul's particular spiritual constitution as determined and transmitted by these "genes," the question of changing that religion for another also cannot arise.
The validity of this truism will be easily seen with the help of a more mundane analogy. It is exactly the same thing with the physical genes inherited at birth from our parents. These genes are unalterable throughout life, no matter what one may do. I can legally change my surname from Khan to Boomlachor, and to the world I will be Mr.Boomlachor. But that does absolutely nothing to change my genetic Khan lineage. I may perhaps even be legally adopted by a Mr. Clinton, and to the world I will be Mr. Clinton Jr. But again, that does absolutely nothing to change the fixed fact of my Khan genealogy. The heavens may fall, but I was born a Khan, I am a Khan, and a Khan I will remain, whether I like it or not. There is nothing I can do to change my physical genes which are irrevocably linked to my Khan parentage of birth.
It is the same with my "spiritual genes" which are irrevocably linked to my Zarathushtrian religion of birth. I may get myself baptized and "convert" to Christianity. But in spiritual terms, this is really no conversion at all. My "spiritual genes," which are as unalterable as my physical genes, throughout the duration of my lifetime, inexorably bind me to the Zarathushtrian faith which is operative from the moment of my birth, and was determined even before my birth. I cannot change either my parentage or my religion. These are facts of my life which are beyond my power to alter. ORDAINED matters are out of human hands.
The proponents of conversion, however, utterly fail to grasp the enormous spiritual significance of birth when they trumpet their notorious theory of "freedom of religious choice," which implies that the religion of birth is a "random event" or "accident of Nature" that is open to "rectification" through a "free religious choice" for conversion, allegedly given to mankind by Asho Zarathushtra himself!
This is another convenient concoction of the heterodox mind, which never seems to be able to understand the difference between freedom and licence, whether in theory or in practice. It is also a sacrilegious affront to our Prophet. Absolutely nowhere in the Zarathushtrian scriptures, including the holy Gathas, is there the slightest reference, direct or indirect, to this fictitious "freedom of choice between religions." And for very good reason too, because among other things, it would straightaway violate the law of Asha. The law of Asha has a dual connotation: in the ethical sphere, it is the law of Righteousness, and in the cosmic scheme, it is the law of righteous Order. The heterodox hoax of "religious choice" violates the law of Asha on both counts.
On the first count, religious floor-crossing is a betrayal of the consecrated allegiance owed to one's own religion. Is Asha consistent with Breach of Faith? On the second count, skipping from one religion to another just as one pleases is not a freedom but a licence that disrupts Nature's orderly processes for the organized spiritual evolution of souls towards Frasho-kereiti. Is Asha consistent with Disorder?
The only bona fide "freedom of choice" that runs like a golden thread throughout the Zarathushtrian scriptures is the moral choice between Spanyaa and Angra, between good and evil, between light and darkness, between truth and falsehood, between righteousness and unrighteousness. This is one of the dazzling glories of the revelation of Zarathushtra. To pervert this pristine conception into a nonexistent choice between religions is an act of sheer vandalism.
Birth is a precise and preplanned spiritual phenomenon in the soul's quest for perfection, and it is the only authentic determinant of one's true and unalterable religion. To imagine that conversion through human "choice" can be the deciding factor in an ORDAINED event displays a very poor understanding of spiritual matters in general, and of the law of Asha in particular.
UNFOLDMENT OF RELIGIONS
In practical terms, the classification of souls into various groups means that the human family on earth is organized into several spiritual branches, with each religion catering to the specific needs of each branch.
"The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small." Nature takes Her time, but does a perfect job. As and when enough individual souls are found to exhibit a sufficient degree of mutual affinity, Nature arranges them into a distinctive soul-group. As the constituents of this soul-group start incarnating on earth, they begin to form the nucleus of a spiritually-related group of human beings sharing common spiritual needs. And when this nucleus develops quantitatively and qualitatively to reach critical mass, it becomes a viable unit that can then be catered to in an effective manner on an aggregate footing.
This is when the time is ripe for a saviour (Ratu), along with other advanced souls who assist him as his immediate disciples, to descend on earth with the mission of prescribing a spiritual diet exactly suited to the requirements of that particular group. A new religion is born.
The history of the world demonstrates that from time to time one true religion after another has inexorably come into being. All these religions have unfolded within the span of a few thousand years. This is but a drop in the ocean of Time, as may be gauged from the Zarathushtrian mode of reckoning where one Zravana Daregho Khvadhata, the period occupied by a single human cycle, is said to encompass 81,000 years, with seven such Zravana Daregho Khvadhatas comprising one Zravana Akarana, and seven Zravana Akaranas making up one Yavaecha Yavaetat.
The present human cycle is reckoned to have commenced in the early Peshdadian period about 12,000 years ago, from the time of the Great Global Catastrophe of draconian floods and glaciation, a world-shattering event that is remembered to this day in the lore of many ancient peoples (for example, in Vendidad 1 & 2, Genesis 6 to 8, etc.). It should be noted, with gratitude to Ahura Mazda, that all the world's religions have been established within the space of the very first Zodiacal phase (Hazara period of 12,000 years) of the current cycle of 81,000 years, in order to enable all the spiritual branches of the human family to start receiving the salutary guidance of their respective religions from a sufficiently early juncture in this Zravana Daregho Khvadhata.
Always, each saviour has directed his mission towards only two groups of people:- towards others who had no true religion of their own to follow but were now ready to receive a genuine spiritual teaching, or towards his own community which already followed a valid faith that was, however, in need of reconstruction, rejuvenation or redirection. And always, it is only these original directions set by the master that were faithfully furthered by his immediate disciples.
For example, Lord Zarathushtra redirected the old faith (Paoiryo Tkaesha) of his own people to transcendental heights by revealing the hitherto unheard-of divine messages ("agushtaa vachaao"; Gatha Yasna 31-1) of the epochal Din-e Zarathushtra. Another example: Lord Jesus' divine message remained largely unheeded among the followers of Judaism in whose midst he was born and preached for reform, like Zarathushtra; but it unerringly found its ordained target-group among the pagan western peoples who had no true religion at all, through his apostles like St. Peter, who carried the message right up to imperial Rome, then the centre of the pagan western world. The "question" of conversion has been a non-question for the founders of religion.
No saviour has ever debased his mission by pitting his new faith in competition against other true faiths. No master has ever stooped to swell his own ranks at the expense of other righteous religions by poaching on the legitimate preserves of his fellow masters. No prophet has ever considered his own creed "universal" enough to replace other valid creeds. No Ratu has ever sought to violate Asha and defraud Nature by confusing the real conversion from unrighteousness to righteousness with the false conversion from one rightful religion to another. No saviour has ever dreamed of disrupting the ordained work of other saviours by dangling before their followers the poisoned carrot of "free religious choice." All these spiritual atrocities have been inflicted on mankind only by later generations of over-zealous bigots who placed the master's name on their lips but misunderstood his mission. Would that our ownheterodox zealots may pause on their reckless road to ruin and try to inject a little spirituality into their "rational thinking" in order to fathom these immortal words of Lord Jesus: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil" (Matt. 5-17).
End of Part II
Written by Roni Khan
Published in the JAM-E-JAMSHED Weekly, Bombay, India
Part III of Roni K. Khan's "Universalism and all that"
Part I of Roni K. Khan's "Universalism and all that"
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