Defence of the Vendidad

by Mrs. Pervin Mistry

Dear Friends,

Thanks for your interest. Some of you have written to me and asked questions about the Vendidad. It is one of the original 21 Nasks, based on the 21 staot (resonant frequency) of the Ahunavar Manthra. (Yatha Ahu Vairyo has 21 words, 7 words in 3 lines each.) This is the 19th Nask and the only one to survive in its entirity. Most other Nasks are lost; wholly or partly. The Gathas are also from the last (21st) Nask known as Staot Yasn Nask. Our Yashts are from the Bagan Nask (14th in number). Hence, as you will see, all our prayers and scriptures are holistic.

Some years ago, in 1998, Ali Jafarey had attacked the Vendidad and many traditional Zarthushtis had replied in defence of the Vendidad and also in defence of our saintly Dasturan-e Dastur Adarbad Maraspend. Attached please find what was written then about the Vendidad. Just as we have body, mind and soul, the universe has hasti, nisti and geti (spiritual, proto-physical and physical worlds). Similarly, every religion too has its laws, its prayers, and its spiritual aspect or the occult (mystic) side of it. Our religion too has the essential 3 divisions, Datic (laws), Hadha-Manthric (prayers) and the Gathic (spiritual aspect). These are inseparable as will be proven from the attachment below.

Defence of the Vendidad

August 12, 1998

Recently, on the Internet (Z. Mailing List), Mr. Ali Jafarey has referred to the Mazdayasni Religion as a "cult" in need of reforms! His latest claim is that he, together with a mobedan-e mobed of Iran, declare the Holy Vendidad unZarthushtrian! This, in order to strike off the sacred rituals of "barshnum", "hom", "nirangdin", etc. with just one stroke of the pen! Mr. Jafarey has also indulged in name-calling the saintly Dasturan-e Dastur Adarbad Maraspend whose name is included in our prayers together with Asho Zarathushtra's. This is the reply I have given on the Internet and hope many others will join me in protest to these heresies.

The ritual of "nirangdin" is the core of our religion because "nirang" is consumed prior to all other fundamental rituals such as navjote, ashirvad, barshnum, navar, maretab. The reason for scrapping the Vendidad is because the consecrated "nirang", a pure substance, held to be so for many millennia, is now considered impure by Mr. Jafarey and other Irani Muslims who are proselytized to our religion by him. If "nirang" is to be eliminated, the Vendidad stands in the way!

The fact is, "nirang" is consecrated and alchemized to the purest liquid only through the ritual of "nirangdin" wherein two priests recite the holy manthra of the Vendidad through the night. This miracle of creating "ab-e zar" (spiritual drink or "nirang") is performed only after both priests undergo vigorous "barshnum" (sacred ablution) for 9 days, and perform the Yasna (Ijeshne) for 7 consecutive days. The ritual of Ijeshne includes pounding the "hom" and reciting the 72 "ha" of the Yasna. (Some "ha" are also included in Atash niyayesh, Avan niyayesh, Kem-na Mazda, Hom and Haptan Yashts, Afrin of Dahman, Gah prayers, etc.) Therefore, in order to do away completely with our rituals and manthravani, Mr. Jafarey, together with a mobed of Iran, conspires to declare the Holy Vendidad unZarthushtrian! The Vendidad is not unZarthushtrian; it is very much a part of Asho Zarathushtra's Own Divine Revelation - a part of the 21 Nasks based on the Ahunavar Manthra.

It is of paramount importance to all Zarthushtis to KNOW what the Deen Dasturs of Iran have revealed about the Vendidad in the Dinkard (written in 9th century A.D.). Dinkard, Book III, chapter VII, and Book VIII, chapter I (Sacred Books of the East, vol. 37, Delhi, 1988), reveal that the entire Avesta (including Yasna, Yashts, Vendidad, Gathas), was contained in the 21 Nasks (volumes) revealed by Ahura Mazda to Asho Zarathushtra. Each of these 21 Nasks was based on the 21 varied "manthric" sounds embodied in our Yatha Ahu Vairya. Asho Zarathushtra subsequently divided the 21 Nasks into 3 categories: Datic, Gathic, and Hadha-manthric. Most of these 21 Nasks are entirely or partly lost, except the Vendidad which has survived in its entirety.

Dinkard, Book VIII, chapter I, (Sacred Books of the East, vol. 37, Delhi, 1988) states: "And the reason of the triple division of the reckoning of revelation is the exposition of all knowledge and duty, and the kinds of knowledge and action in the same revelation are these three that have been written." (The words "these three" refer to Datic, Gathic, Hadha-manthric divisions.) Ibid, "Also in the Ahunavair, which is the basis of the reckoning of revelation, are three metrical lines (gas); the first chiefly indicates the Gathic lore, the second the Hadha-manthric lore, and the third the Law." (The "Law" is identified with the Datic teachings, specifically with the Vendidad.) This proves that even the Ahunavar Manthra itself contains in its three lines all three divisions of Datic, Gathic, Hadha-manthric portions, indicating the three divisions to be inseparable. Further, it is also stated in the same chapter: "In all three divisions all three are found; in the Gathic are the Hadha-manthric and Legal, in the Hadha-manthric are the Gathic and Legal, and in the Legal are the Gathic and Hadha-manthric." (Emphasis mine.) This proves, beyond a doubt, the fallacy of those who maintain that only the Gathas are the words of Asho Zarathushtra and all else is written later, or that the Vendidad is unZarthushtrian!

The reason for not segregating any of the three divisions is because the worldly and spiritual existences are essentially inter-connected; therefore, the Gathas and the Vendidad are also inter-related. The Gathas cannot exist without the Vendidad as each is complementary to the other! Just as body, mind and soul are inter-connected, the physical, ultra-physical and spiritual worlds are also inter-connected. Similarly, the Gathic, Datic and Hadha-manthric portions are essentially integrated in every aspect of "manthra" to reflect the coexistence of the three. Therefore, it is a sacrilege to declare the Vendidad "unZarthushtrian"! The Gathas, although the most pre-eminent, are only a fragment of the Avesta, and are inseparable from the Datic and Hadha-manthric portions.

Dinkard, Book III, chapter CLXI (Sacred Books of the East, vol. 37, Delhi, 1988), confirms: "Also to the statement in the Law - which is superior knowledge about the worldly existence - is allotted the worldliness of the Hadha-manthric and also of the Gathic; to those in the Gathas - which are superior knowledge about the spiritual existence - is allotted the spirituality of the Hadha-manthric and even that of the Law; and to those in the Hadha-manthric - which is superior knowledge about things intermediate between the spiritual and worldly existences - is allotted the intermediate matter of the Gathic and also of the Legal."

From the above statement in the Dinkard, it can be asserted that the Avesta is holistic; it contains knowledge about the spiritual, metaphysical and worldly existences; it is heresy to separate the Vendidad, Gathas, Yashts, Yasna, from each other. To enumerate, Gathas reveal the immutable spiritual laws ("dat") of Nature ("Asha"), creation and aspects of life and non-life, and how the good creation will attain to immortality ("frashogard"). Till the spiritual and material universes coexist, till all the physical creation regains spiritual purity by obeying the anti-pollution laws which refer to spiritual, mental and physical pollution, "frashogard" cannot be attained. These different pollution or "druj" are expounded in the Vendidad. Hence, the key to understanding the Gathas is through the teachings of the Vendidad! "Druj", as "angre-mainyu", is a "mino" or unseen, etheric force; therefore, defilement is unseen as well as seen, and it originates from thought or mind ("mainyu"). There can be no spiritual purity in the midst of mental and physical impurities; consequently, Asho Zarathushtra has given us the "Law" (Vendidad) to defeat the "druj" through fire, manthra, nirang, dakhma and other purificatory formulae. Without the Vendidad (VI=anti+DAEV=druj+DAT=law), there can be no "Yasna" (Divine Union); "frashogard" will not be attained. It should be noted that the Holy Vendidad is not just a book, a text; it contains "manthra" and is a sacred ritual performed specifically at night to establish spiritual communion with the Divine in order to minimize the adverse effects created by "daevas" (druj) of darkness/ignorance. When purity is established through the Vendidad, Yasna is realized. Gathas being part of Yasna ritual, are therefore connected to Vendidad and the rest of the Avesta unextricably.

The language within the Avesta differs because the Gathas are written in a distinct poetic metre while the other scriptures are written in a simpler prose form. Both prose and poetry are interwoven throughout the Avesta because the style and exposition differ according to the nature of the subject. For example, while math is taught in numeric formulae, other subjects are explained in words with the exception of poetry which is written in a distinct meter. Similarly, the Avesta deals with "Datic", "Gathic" and "Hadha-manthric" issues and consequently, the text varies.

By declaring the Vendidad unZarthushtrian, Mr. Jafarey can then justify his attacks on all rituals, "hom", "nirang" and everything else that the religion prescribes! Undoubtedly, he is establishing a "cult", far removed from the teachings of Asho Zarathushtra as expounded in the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Religion. Our mobeds and forefathers of yore were not ignorant or mentally defective that they performed the Vendidad, Ijeshne, Nirangdin and other rituals with utmost dedication and piety. Our ancestors gave their lives to preserve the religion. Religion was their soul! Is it ours? To a Zarthushti, "religion" is not just a word, a way of life or a spiritual discipline. It means all that and more. Religion is "Deen" and "Deen" is a Yazata; a Cosmic, Divine energy which no human can destroy or alter. It has its own protective force-field and its own function in Nature. Therefore, FAITH and DEVOTION are essential for "religiosity"! As a ray of Divine Energy (Yazata), "Deen" is beyond human "senses"! How can we change that which we do not yet fully comprehend? "Deen" or "Daena" resides in the spiritual soul and as a ray of Divinity, impels the soul to seek communion with the Divine. No harm will come to our "Deen" because Truth and spiritual Laws of Nature are immutable; the misguided will expel themselves out of the "field" of Deen Yazata, and prolong their own "frashogard".

During the worst days, when all Zarthushti lives in Iran were threatened by Sultan Mahmoud of Ghazni (11th century A.D.), the learned mobeds then proved to the Sultan the greatness of our religion by reciting the Yasna. Sultan Mahmoud was so impressed, he spared the Zarthushtis (Spiegel Memorial Volume, 1908, edited by Dr. J.J. Mody, "The Kisseh of Sultan Mahmoud as given in the Rivayets" by Ervad Eduljee Kersaspjee Antia). After many millennia, today, in Iran, the ritual of Ijeshne has ceased in spite of Asho Zarathushtra proclaiming many times, in the Gathas, to perform this essential ritual to commune with the Divine! There is historic evidence that Hom was pounded and Yasna performed during Achaemenian times. "Havani" and "lala" have been excavated from Persepolis and Suza. Recent excavation sites near Sari date back to 10,500 B.C.E.! It is hoped that the sound of "Havani" and "lala" will again resound through the land of our Prophet Asho Zarathushtra.

This is not the first time heresy has attacked our religion. It has withstood past attacks through the efforts of great spiritual leaders like Jamasp (spiritual heir to Asho Zarathushtra), who protected the religion from the Turanis; by the saintly Adarbad Maraspend who preserved the religion and scriptures from the plunder and destruction by Alexander; and by the pious efforts of Dasturs Aturfarnbag Farrokhzad, Aturpat Hemet, Manushchihr, son of Yudan-Yim, and others who composed the Pahlavi Texts (9th century A.D.), and preserved the religion from complete destruction wrought by the Arabs. After just two centuries of Islam in Iran, the Zarthushtis began comparing religions and doubted their own rituals and traditions. Zad-sparam, a priest, was one such heretic who doubted the efficacy of Vendidad and sudreh-kushti among other things. Fortunately, Zad-sparam's elder brother Manushchihr, High Priest of Iran, subsequently composed the Dadistan-i Dinik and the Epistles to rebuke the heretics. At the same time, the two other High Priests: Aturfarnbag Farrokhzad and Aturpat Hemet wrote the Dinkard and saved the religion from harm/heresy. Is our religion not worth preserving from latter-day heretics?

Last but not the least, who was Adarbad Maraspend whom Mr. Jafarey maligned? Adarbad Maraspend lived during the reign of the Sassanian King Shapur the Great in the early 4th century A.D. He is the composer of the Pazend "Setayeshes", including the oft prayed "Doa-naam Setayesh". The authors of the Dinkard, Aturfarnbag Farrokhzad and Aturpat Hemet write, referring to Adarbad Maraspend: "He collected and preserved the 21 Nasks after the destruction by Alexander." He is called "saintly". (Emphasis mine). He is further described as "organizer of righteousness". Referring to the disciples of Asho Zarathushtra, Dinkard, Book VII, chapter V.5 (Sacred Books of the East, vol. 47, Delhi,1987), establishes: "and the custom of one of them is that of pouring melted metal on the breast, as in the achievement of the saintly (hu-fravardo) Aturpad son of Maraspend, through whose preservation a knowledge about the religion was diffused in the world", and it is added that the heretics were also convinced when they beheld the rite of this ordeal! In the Sacred Books of the East, vol. 5, chapter XV.14-17, we read: "Whoever wishes to propitiate Shatvairo in the world.....and whoever he be, it is necessary, so that Shatvairo may be with him at every place and time, that he should propitiate melted metal.....And the propitiation of melted metal is this, that he shall practise habits of the heart so unsullied and pure that, when they shall drop melted metal upon it, it does not burn. And Aturpad son of Maraspend even acted in this priestly fashion (dastobarih), so that the melted metal, when they drop it upon the region of his pure heart, became as pleasant to him as though they were milking milk upon it. When they drop it upon the region of the heart of the wicked, and simmers, it burns, and they die." ("Shatvairo" is Shehrevar Amashaspand presiding over minerals.)

Will Mr. Jafarey or any other claimant to "reform" submit to such test? Of course, not. But, does it behove to deny such an event when it is recorded in the Texts? Is it to evade embarrassment if such a challenge was ever cast, that Mr. Jafarey has proclaimed the ordeal of the metal to be a fiction fabricated by the authors of the Pahlavi Texts to fool the gullible? Changes in the physical state affected during certain conditions such as trance are recorded. There is nothing fictional or unscientific about the ordeal of the molten metal. Kai-Shiavux had also undergone the test of fire without any harm. As an infant, Asho Zarathushtra successfully prevailed the ordeal of fire, unhurt and uneffected. Life (energy) is eternal. It survives on different planes of consciousness; hence, it is probable that if consciousness (life, energy), exists in the ultra-physical and spiritual counterparts of the physical body, then the spiritually enlightened Adarpad Maraspend elevated the consciousness of the atoms of his physical body to a more heightened state of spirituality which withstood the trial of the molten metal without his body being hurt. Saints do and can perform "miracles"; imposters cannot; therefore, they disbelieve in "miracles".

O Zarthushtis! Ignorance of the scriptures is no reason to let heresy and heretics have their way. Religion is a matter of faith. Religion is not theory conceptualised by the imperfectly evolved mind of a philosopher, theologist, heretic reformer or a student of languages. Least of all, religion can never be understood by one who renounces his own creed to find "God", as Mr. Jafarey has renounced Islam. Religion is revealed. It is the proclamation of the result of direct communion of a perfected soul with the Divinity. All religions are manifested on Earth according to the Divine Will, as per Yasna 19, and all teach spirituality.

Can you imagine anyone daring to proclaim that the Koran and Islamic practices are flawed? Only the Zarthushtis, with their well known restraint, have allowed Mr. Jafarey and his supporters to condemn our scriptures and religious practices for so long! Till Anquetil Duperron came to India in the 18th century, Zarthushti religion was studied and taught by Zarthushtis. Today, Zarthushti priests travel to U.K., U.S. and Europe to be taught by non-Zarthushtis! How many Rabbi are taught Judaism by non-Jewish gentiles; how many Popes and clergy are taught Christianity by non-Christians; how many Zarthushti scholars have educated Mollahs about Islam or taught Hinduism to a "yogi"? It is time to take our religion seriously and in our own hands. Will Mr. Jafarey succeed in his attempts at demolishing our religion and replacing it with his personal likes and dislikes? Well! Just as the heterodox and the gullible followed Mani, Mazdak, and proselytized to other religions, some Zarthushtis who lack faith and allegiance to their Prophet and religion will find themselves blindly following this new cult. However, the Religion and its adherents will remain staunch, always. No false prophet or mobed will ever be able to change or destroy the Religion as long as there are Zarthushti souls enlightened enough and faithful enough to see through the deceits of the misguided. "Deen" is immortal! It will survive.

With best wishes to all,


Mrs. Pervin Mistry.

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