Fellow Mazdayasni Zarathushtris,
The following is an article from the Deen Parast, a powerful Zarathushtri magazine from India involved in upholding the tenets of the Mazdayasni Zarathushtri Deen (religion). In this article, the revered Dasturji Dr. Hormazdiar Dastur Kayoji Mirza points out with great authority that CONVERSION WAS ALWAYS A NO-NO IN OUR AVESTA AND OUR ANCIENT HISTORY. This clearly shows that all the absurd talk of supposed ancient Zoroastrian "missionaries" being floated on the internet by a non-Zoroastrian radical and other vested interests is clear NONSENSE, and is a blatant attempt at misleading our Zarathushtri people in the West. The truth is in the article that follows, from a leading High Priest (Dastur) of the Mazdayasni Zarathushtri faith:
Inter-Communal Marriages & Conversion of Non-Zoroastrians
- Remedy More Dangerous than the Disease -
CONVERSION UNKNOWN IN AVESTA AND IN ANCIENT IRANIAN HISTORY
- By Dasturji Dr. Hormazdiar Dastur Kayoji Mirza
Dasturji Dr. Hormazdiar Dastur Kayoji Mirza had delivered a lecture entitled ‘Some Religious Problems Facing The Parsi Community’, on April 26, 1978 at the Centre for the Study of World Religions, Harvard University. Later in 1980, Dasturji Mirza published this lecture with ‘additions and alterations’. The second edition was published in 1983. Excerpts therefrom:
"The present circumstances - education, freedom, individualism, working conditions, independent incomes, economic conditions, migrations, and such other factors coupled with ignorance of religion and history, and apathy towards the community - have largerly contributed to such a dangerous state of affairs in which the Parsi Community finds itself. As a remedy to check the downward trend of the population graph, it is proposed that parsis should admit into the Zoroastrian religion the non-Parsi spouses, their children, and also their non-Parsi relations. To propagate and popularize this new proposal a phrase has been specially coined. It is : Conversion by Marriage!
"This new phrase is significant, because it indicates that in this proposal religion is only a HANDMAID to inter-communal marriages. In this proposal the religion plays a secondary role, and the religion has been dragged into this proposal JUST TO SERVE THE PURPOSE OF MIXED MARRIAGES.
"The proposed remedy is even WORSE and more DANGEROUS than the disease. It is dangerous also from the view point of communal harmony and relations with other communities.
"To boost the idea of ‘Conversion by Marriage’ it is argued that the Zoroastrian religion is open to all, and that those who are willing may be admitted to the Zoroastrian religion. To propagate this idea, various other VERBAL DEVICES have also been employed : ‘progressive ideas, humanitarian views, liberal outlook’, as if mixed-marriages are the only pinnacles of all these virtues of life, and as if the forefathers of the Parsis had no progressive ideas, no humanitarian views, and no liberal outlook !
"If ‘conversion’ means to discard one’s own ancestral religion and to adopt an alien religion, then conversion is unknown in Avesta, in the Zoroastrian religion, and in ancient Iranian history.
"During the long and chequred history, the ancient Iranian rulers never adopted a policy of proselytization. On the contary, the Iranian rulers have become famous in history for their liberal religious policy. They granted freedom of religion, belief, and worship to the subject peoples. This is too well known to detain us here particularly in connection with the Archaemenian and Parthian emperors. Some explanation, however, in connection with the Sasanian emperors is necessary.
"The Iranians had come in contact with the Jewish people in very remote periods. During the Achaemenian times the Jews were an influential people in Iran. During that period the Greeks had also come in contact with the Iranians.
"During the Parthian period, the Jews, the Greeks, the Romans, and the Buddhists had settled in Iran. In Sasanian times, the Jews and Christians had their colonies, settlements, and religious institutions in Iran, and they were managing their own civic and religious affairs. Christianity came to Iran and Armenia about the beginning of the fourth century; and since then the Christians were living peacefully in Iran enjoying political and religious freedom. Thus Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics 11, p. 203 records:
‘Christianity spread widely and was well organized in the Persian Empire under the Sasanians, especially in the Nestorian form. At the moment of the Musalman invasion it counted seven metropolitan provinces and 80 bishoprics, streching from Armenia to India. Not infrequently Christians enjoyed high favour at the court, especially during the great reign of the first Chosroes.’
"The Sasanian emperors were not only tolerant, but some of them were influenced by Christianity. Ghirshmann notes that the Sasanian king Yazdgard I was ‘so well disposed’ towards the Christians that they called him ‘the Christian King’. Regarding Yazdgard I, Ghirshmann notes (Iran, p. 298) :
‘He convoked a council, installed a Catholicos at Seleucia and five metropolitans in the provincial towns, and permitted the free movement of clergy through out the country. But the Christians apparently abused their privileges, and were guilty of violent demonstrations against the Zoroastrian sanctuaries and clergy. In view of this attitude, the king was compelled to revise his policy’.
- By Dasturji Dr. Hormazdiar Dastur Kayoji Mirza,
Published in the Deen Parast, Bombay, India
Dear Zarathushtris, the learned Dasturji rightly points out that in the case of the modern liberals, the religion is playing second fiddle to mixed marriages, and the religion has been dragged in just to serve the purpose of mixed marriages. This means a few of the "modern" "liberal" Zoroastrians are trying to "change" and pervert their forefather's religion just for the sake of personal pleasures and personal happiness, whereas our sacred forefathers sacrificed EVERYTHING for the sake of their precious religion.
What a difference indeed.
To subscribe to the Deen Parast, a famous Zarathushtri religious magazine from Bombay, India; , write to:
4th Floor, no 11, Mount road, Mazgaon,
MUMBAI (Bombay) 400 010 India.
Mr. Dadrawala is the editor. There is no charge for subscription, but a donation of Rupees 250-300 would be sufficient to cover the air-mail postage costs for a year.
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