3. QA about RELIGION

When did the Mazdayasni Zarthoshti religion begin?

1. In the earliest times when civilisation had not yet developed, people lived a nomadic life. They were mostly hunters and food gatherers moving from place to place. They lived amidst worries and anxieties about food and safety of their life.

2. A wise man named Gayomard brought together several nomadic groups and became their leader. He taught them to live a settled life and grow their own food. He was hailed as a leader among leaders. In a way he may regarded as the first ever king.

3. With settled life started the possibility for relaxation and contemplation. In one such moment of contemplation, Gayomard received a divine message from Mazda through Sarosh Yazad. He was the first mortal to receive such a message.

4. Gayomard was asked to instruct mankind, that there is only one supreme god – Mazda, and that people should direct their devotion to him. This was the beginning of the Mazdayasni belief system which lasted for centuries and in which new elements were added by successive Saoshyants (benefactors) like Kings Hoshang, Jamshed and Faridun.

5. After centuries, prophet Zarathushtra was born in the Mazdayani belief system. He gave the final form to the system, which then came to be known as the Mazdayasni Zarthoshti religion.

Who is a Mazdayasni? (13-11-16)

1. A Mazdayasni is a person who believes in Mazda as God and practices the teachings of the Mazdayasni belief system.

2. In earliest times, even before prophet Zarathushtra, the Peshdadian king Gayomard was the first to receive communication from Mazda and thus was the first Mazda-yasni that is “worshipper of Mazda.” He then led other people to understand, follow and practice this good path of life.

3. Thereafter all kings of Peshdadain and Kayanian dynasties followed the Mazdayasni belief system. Some of them were Saoshyants who added new beneficial practices.

4. Prophet Zarathushtra was born a Mazdayasni. He later consolidated the Mazdayasni belief system into the Mazdayasni Zarthoshti religion.

5. In the beginning of the Jasa me Avanghe Mazda prayer at the end of the Kasti prayers, the line “Mazdayasno ahmi, Mazdayasno Zarathushtrish” is recited, which means “I am a Mazdayasni, a Mazdayasni Zarthosti.”  While reciting this line, a person professes to be Mazdayasnis and Mazdayasni Zarthoshtis.

6. In the Fravarāne prayer, the person who prays introduces himself as a Mazdayasno Zarathushtrish “a Mazdayasni Zarthoshti” who is vidaevo “works against the daevas (negativities)” and ahura-tkaesho “who follows the teachings of Ahura.

What are the essential aspects of being a Mazdayasni Zarthoshti? (19-3-17)

1. A religion constitutes three main aspects – knowledge, practices and good living. Being a Mazdayasni Zarthoshti is a complete package of all these three aspects. The following seven teachings are most essential to make a person a true Mazdayasni Zarthoshti.

  1. Understanding the Mazdayasni Zarthoshti religion and practicing it, especially the ethical aspects – which include Humata “good thoughts” Hukhta “good words” and Hvarshta “good deeds.”
  2. Having the Navjote performed at the proper age, that is, after completing six years and before completion of nine years and thereafter wearing the Sadra-Kasti throughout life.
  3. Doing Kasti regularly and reciting Farajyat prayers (at least the small one) daily.
  4. Regularly visiting the Agyari or Atash Behram.
  5. Marrying a Mazdayasni Zarthoshti at the appropriate time and having at least 2 children.
  6. Believing in and participating in rituals and having them performed when necessary.
  7. Going for Dokhmenashini after death, wherever a dakhma is available.

Who are the Saoshyants?

1. Before Prophet Zarathushtra, there were 9 divinely appointed spiritual persons who guided the Mazdayasnis and directed them towards a good life. They are referred to as Saoshyants, meaning “benefactors.” They were Mazdayasnis and their teachings were incorporated in the Mazdayasni belief system.

2. Prophet Zarathushtra incorporated their teachings in the Mazdayasni Zarthoshti religion. Of the 9 Saoshyants, the first eight were Peshdadian and Kayanian kings and the last one was a pious and heroic lay person. We will briefly see their contribution to the Mazdayasni Zarthoshti religion:

i. Gayomard: He was the first to receive a divine message from Ahura Mazda through Sarosh Yazad. On the basis of this message, he told his people to worship one God – Mazda. The Mazdayasni (Mazda worshippers) belief system started with him.

ii. Hoshang: He taught men to consider and respect fire as the radiance of Ahura Mazda. He started the celebration of Jashan-e-Sadeh

iii. Tehmurasp: He recognized the power of evil and evolved possibilities to transmute negative forces into positive forces for the benefit of mankind. The concepts of being grateful to God and sharing one’s wealth by giving charity, were introduced by him.

iv. Jamshed: He saved the world from the Great deluge, for which Jamshedi Navroz is celebrated in his honour. He divided his subjects into four professional groups – the Athornans (priests), Ratheshtars (warriors), Vastriyosh (farmers) and Hutaokhsh (artisans). He introduced the practice of tying the Kasti and enthroning sacred fires.

v. Faridun: He taught people to fight evil in all forms. He brought an end to the wicked rule of Zohak and celebrated this and his coronation by the performance of Jashan-e-Mehrangan. He was guided to compose several small prayers called Afsun. He made a special mace in the shape of the head of the cow, called Gurz to defeat Zohak. Even today, boys initiated into priesthood carry a Gurz in their Navar procession.

vi. Minocheher: He introduced the importance of the virtues of peace and harmony amongst all. He started the celebration of Jashan-e-Tirangān to celebrate the peaceful resolution of a territory dispute.

vii. Kae Kaus: He taught the use of Khvarena, divine energy, to overpower black magic, sorcery and evil men.

viii. Kae Khushru: He taught people the concept and benefits of silent contemplation and spiritual retreat.

ix. Hom: He introduced the idea of developing physical powers through spiritual practices, and the benefits of wearing the Kasti and performing prayers.

3. These eight Sasoshyants lived before prophet Zarathushtra. Zoroastrian religion talks about the arrival of three Saoshyants even after prophet Zarathushtra. They are Hoshedar, Hoshedar-mah and Saoshyos. The other name of Saoshyos is Shah Behram Varzavand.

Why should I love and follow my religion?

1. For me, my religion has to be the greatest, best and most excellent, as God in His Wisdom chose to give me birth in this religion.

2. Zoroastrian religion is the first revealed religion in the world. The fact the Zoroastrian religion has survived for several millennia shows that its message is powerful, meaningful and beneficial.

3. As the oldest religion, it has influenced almost every other major religion of the world.

4. Inspite of being the oldest religion, it is regarded as a very spiritual, ethical, philosophical, ecological, rational, scientific and practical religion.

5. It has been appreciated by all those who have come in contact with it – right from the ancient Indians and Greeks to the present day philosophers and thinkers like Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore.

6. The religion has the power and ability to give us roots to make us secure and confident, and wings so to help us soar higher in spirituality.

7. If understood and practiced properly, religion gives us a healthy and radiant body, a joyful mind, material prosperity and a soul worthy of heaven, which are the most important ingredients for a balanced and happy life.

How can I help my religion and community?

1. Religion and community are integral parts of one’s life and should be prominent in the priority list of one’s life.

2. Every Mazdayasni Zarthosti has the responsibility of being aware of and looking after the long term survival of his/her religion and community.

3. One way of doing this is, to avoid taking any step or decision that may endanger the survival of the religion and the community.

4. Another way is to offer services or monetarily contribute towards the upkeep and maintenance of institutions like fire temples and dakhmas and also the people who look after them.

Are the Iranis, Parsi Zoroastrians too?

1. Iranis are Parsi Zoroastrians. Legally too, the term Parsi covers the Iranis.

2. The term Parsi has been used in Iran since ancient times and refers to the ethnic origin of great Iranian kings like Cyrus, Darius and Ardeshir. It also refers to their religion.

3. When Zoroastrians came from Iran to India after the Arab conquest, they preferred to call themselves Parsis which was an ethnic term covering the religious identity.

4. Several Iranian brethren stayed back in Iran and faithfully followed the Zoroastrian religion, facing great difficulty, amidst persecution and often at the risk of their lives.

5. Some of these Iranian Zoroastrians had to come to India in the last about 100 years. In India they were referred to as Iranis because their language, food, dress and certain customs, were closer to the people of Iran than to the Parsis who had come to India more than a thousand years back. The Iranis follow the same religion and say almost the same prayers as Parsis.

Why has religion got a bad name?

1. Religion was originally meant to help people look into their own selves to discover their inner strengths, potentialities and powers and at the same time perceive the unseen spiritual world beyond the self. To fulfil these two purposes he had to have a calm and relaxed mind and hence religion gave some ethics and practices. This in short, is the essence of all religions.

2. As times went by, the original purposes were often forgotten as humans have a tendency to stick to form and matter rather than the spirit behind it.

3. Some people were so rigid about obeying and making others obey the practices that they forgot the end purpose and just stuck to the means, and considered the means as the end. Some people wanted to fulfil their own selfis ends in the name of religion. They often misused the religion or twisted and turned it to suit their purpose. Thus often, unessential and inconsequential things got undue importance, the original purposes was lost, and religions get a bad name.

3. Each individual has to make an effort to move on his or her own path of self discovery, aided by his own religion of birth. As he advances, he will himself learn, through his innate intelligence that he has to go beyond the letter into the heart of the message. Religion is a wonderful means to make life a beautiful experience by helping one to be happy and enabling one to evolve as a human being.

Is there anything in the religion for the younger generation?

1. Religion is meant to give happiness, courage, strength, confidence, health, success and peace. These qualities are necessary for everyone, the young and the old

2. One of the main tasks of various religious practices like prayers, rituals and daily observances is to activate the powers of the mind and make it work at its optimum level. Its other task is to give the person inner vitality and energy.

3. A systematic study of religion makes one knowledgeable about oneself and the world, thus making the person an aware, responsible and humane human being.

4. The above benefits are required for all ages, more so during the formative younger years. Hence religion is all the more necessary for the younger generation.

5. The reason why youngsters are sometimes not attracted towards religion is because it is not always presented well and youngsters often fail to see the beautiful side of the religion. They mostly get to see its sordid aspects. Religion is often presented as a set of compulsory rules which do not appeal to the spirit of freedom cherished by youngsters.

6.  Religion offers something to everybody. It just needs to be looked at from a fresh and positive perspective.

Does Zoroastrian religion believe in Miracles?

1. Before answering this question, first let us understand the word ‘miracle.’ The word miracle means “an extraordinary event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency.” This means that when the existing natural laws that we know are unable to understand and explain a certain happening, it is regarded as a miracle. Thus what is not understandable by natural laws becomes supernatural, that is, miraculous.

2. Mankind is far away from knowing, understanding and deciphering all the laws of nature. We do not even properly understand our own body and its working. Miracles are happenings related either to the physical laws which are not yet discovered, or to laws which work beyond the dimension and scope of our understanding.

3. Zoroastrian religious tradition chronicles many happenings that can be termed miraculous. This includes several happenings related to the life of prophet Zarathushtra. Several miracles are recorded before Zarathushtra was even born, and also when he was an infant, a child, a youth and in later years. Part of the Seventh book of the Pahlavi Denkard is about the miracles of prophet Zarathushtra. The Pahlavi word for miracle is awd or abd.

4. Recent Zoroastrian religious tradition has recorded many highly evolved people like Dasturji Kukadaru, Dasturji Meherjirana and Homaji who have done things which can be called a miracle.

5. Religious aspects like prayers and rituals work at a level which is beyond the physical and hence cannot be quantifiable by known empirical laws. Their working and effects may be termed as miracles.

6. However, one should not blindly accept every inexplicable happening as a miracle. Some people take recourse to sleight of hand, illusion and other forms of deception to show that they are working miracles. Such acts amount to fooling people and cheating the faith of people. They cannot be regarded as a miracle.

Is there a difference between – ‘humata,hukhta, hvarshta’ and ‘manashni, gavashni, kunashni’?

1. Yes. There is a big difference. The first three words humata, hukhta, hvarshta are from the Avesta language and the next three words manashni, gavashni, kunashni are from the Pazand language.

2. They don’t even mean the same. The first three words humata, hukhta, hvarshta mean “good thoughts, good words and good deeds”. The next three words manashni gavashni, kunashni just mean “thoughts, words and deeds.” They could be good or bad.

3. The opposite of humata, hukhta, hvarshta “good thoughts, good words and good deeds” is dushmata, duzhukhta, duzhvarshta “bad thoughts, bad words and bad deeds.” These latter three words occur in the Pazand Ahura Mazda Khodai prayer which is recited while doing the Kasti. While reciting these words, fingers are clicked to ward off evil.

4. The wordsmanashni gavashni, kunashni also come in our Kasti in the Ahura Mazda Khodaiprayer. The phrase az ān gunāh manashni gavashni kunashni…pa patet hom, means “for all the sinsof thoughts, words and actions…I am sorry.”

5.The words humata, hukhta, hvarshta are considered part of the basic tenets ofthe Zoroastrian religion. However, they are not as simplistic as they sound.They have a much deeper meaning and understanding, as explained in Yasna 19.Humata is the first thought of Ahura Mazda, the thought for a universe which isdevoid of evil. All thoughts leading to this goal can be regarded as Humata.The word Hukhta is used to describe words of Mathra Spenta, that is the Avesta-Pazandprayers. Hence all utterances of prayers can be referred to as good words.Hvarshta is to be understood as all actions leading towards bringing thecreations to their original pristine purity.