Conversion Not Prescribed In The Zarthushti Religion

By Mrs. Pervin J. Mistry

The Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din and the community have survived for innumerable millennia by observing the revealed teachings of Prophet Asho Zarathushtra. One of the fundamental teachings is "boonak-pasbaani", meaning preservation of the "seed" or gene. Recently, there is a movement afoot, instigated by the heterodox section of the community, as well as by the followers of the Gatha Alone Cultists to proselytise others to become "Zarthushtis". So far, we, as Zarthushtis, have survived peacefully with other nationals and religions. We have survived the destruction and plunder wrought by Alexander and by the Arabs. Our survival is threatened now because of the disunity within our microscopic community itself and also because we are moving away from the established traditions and scriptural injunctions. What Alexander and the Arabs could not do, we may do to ourselves and that is to threaten the very survival of our Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din and community.

Religion is a way of life. We can survive as a religious community only if we adhere to our religious mandates, rituals and traditions. Please, let us all remember and appreciate the fact that our ancestors did not give up their lives and some, their native homeland of Iran in order to preserve just the "ethnic" or "racial" identity. Our ancestors sealed their fate in blood and gave up their beloved Iran-Vej to seek sanctity for their religion and to ensure the survival of their religious community.

Zarthushtis are distinct from other religious communities by their established spiritual disciplines and religious injunctions of practicing: 1) Kriyakaam: this involves kusti-padyaab, baaj, jashan, afringans, yasna, vendidad, nirang-e-din, navjote, ashirvad, obsequies, etc. which, as rituals, differ from the rituals of other religions. 2) Dokhmenashini: the most important aspect being to expose the dead body to solar radiation, or "khurshed-nagiroshni" which prevents the elements of Nature such as fire, air, water and earth from getting polluted by "nasu" or decomposing matter. 3) Sudreh-Kusti: mandated from navjote to death till the body is consigned within the dakhma. 4) Manthravaani: recitation and preservation of "staot yasna", or sacred litany composed according to the laws of resonant frequencies that exist in Nature. 5) Prescribed maintenance of sacred fires. 6) Preservation of purity rules as prescribed in "Vi-Daevo-Dat or anti-druj-law, which is Vendidad". 7) Last, but not the least, as a religious group we continue to practice the most important spiritual discipline which is "boonak-pasbaani" or preservation of the seed essential: "tokham". It is to practice this religious mandate that we are enjoined to abstain from proselytism and inter-religious marriages.

It was for the preservation of "boonak-pasbaani" that we came to the shores of India in order to ensure our survival as a religious community. The Hindus had a rigid caste system and they too did not proselytise. In the Bhagvad Gita, Lord Krishna admonishes his followers of the dangers of forsaking one's own religion of birth in order to follow an alien faith ("para dharma maha bhai"). It is only because we practised the "close-door" policy that we survived in India as practising Zarthushtis till today! Our ancestors came to India to live and die as true Zarthushtis.

Since the topic of our survival and to proselytise juddins from other religions is of great concern, I would like to deal with those questions that are most frequently asked regarding "boonak-pasbaani".

Question 1: When Asho Zarathushtra started his Din, he must have converted people from other religions to the Zarthushti Din (religion). Otherwise, how did the Zarthushti Religion and Community start?

Answer: At the time when Asho Zarathushtra revealed His Din, only the Mazdayasni Religion was in existence. There were no other revealed religions in existence then! Hence, the statement that Asho Zarathushtra converted people from other religions is unfounded.

Asho Zarathushtra is as hailed "paurvatatem", the First Revealer (Ha 33.14), and "ururost asto", the Foremost (ha 51.12). The language in which he taught, the Avestan, specifically the Gathic language, is older than the language of the Vedic Sanskrit! The Vedas were believed to be the world's oldest written scriptures, but philological studies of the Avestan language have proven that although the Sanskrit of the Vedas and the language of the Gathas (Avestan) are sister languages, the Gathic dialect is older! The Mazdayasnis are referred to as "pitriyanis", or "forefathers" in the Vedas, as documented by the Vedantin Scholar Mohandas J. Chatterjee in his book, "Hymns of Atharvan Zarathushtra". Hence, from the Vedas as well as from our own scriptures it can be conclusively proven that there were no other religions in existence except for the Mazdayasni religion when Asho Zarathushtra lived and preached. The fact that we pray, "Mazdayasno ahmi, Mazdayasno Zarthushtrish", indicates that Asho Zarathuhstra based his religion upon the existing Mazdayasni Religion which thereafter came to be called Mazdayasni Zarthushti Religion.

The only evidence the Gathas, other scriptures and even the Shah Nameh provide is that there were only two Nations and two groups of people when Asho Zarathushtra lived. They were the Iranis and the Turanis, or, in other words, the Mazdayasnis and the Devayasnis. These two groups or nations were in opposition to each other. "Yan" means "wisdom". The Tur-yanis (Turanis) were the evil sorcerers and evil doers. "Tur" indicates evil as employed in the words "Tur-Bar-Atur" and "Tur-e Frangras". Ar-yani or Irani means those who followed "ar" or spiritual wisdom. They were already the Mazdayasnis or Mazda worshippers who believed in One Supreme Creator, Ahura Mazda. It follows that the so-called conversions were only converting people from evil to good, from renouncing "tur" and complying to Asha, and not from one revealed religion to another. Moral conversion is the only conversion taught by Asho Zarathuhstra! Unless a person converts from within, unless a person leaves evil and turns to righteousness, would it help that person to simply become "good" by changing the name of one religion to another? No! No Prophet has endorsed to proselytise others unless to convert means to become morally better and this can be achieved by following the dictates of any revealed religion one is born into. If "convert" means to leave one's own religion of birth and adopt a newer, alien one, there is absolutely no equivalent word for "to convert" in the sacred Avesta.

Some notable Turani families embraced the Mazdayasni Zarthuhsti Din. One such family was the Friyana Family. Many of its members "converted" to the Path of Asha as revealed by Asho Zarathushtra. King Vishtasp was a Mazdayasni by birth and accepted the divine revelations of Asho Zarathushtra who preached at his court. Vishtasp did not "convert" from another alien religion to the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Religion! There was no other revealed religion to convert from! Additionally, Vishtasp did not forsake the old Mazdayasni Religion since Asho Zarathuhstra's revelations are based upon the foundations of the Mazdayasni Religion itself! Holy Zarathushtra's mission was to put on the right track all the Mazdayasni "paoiryotkaesh" souls who had deviated from the right path and were influenced by the Devayasnis.

It is claimed by some that the "Hindu" sage Changragach converted to the Zarthushti Religion. As proven earlier, there was no other revealed, organised religion in existence at the time Asho Zarathuhstra lived and preached. The Prophet of the Hindus, Rama, was not born yet, as so stated by various scholars including Tagore and Mohandas J. Chatterjee. The late K.R.Cama has also asserted in "Zarathoshtnama" that before the advent of Asho Zarathushtra, there were no other religions in existence except for the Mazdayasni Din! Therefore, historically, Changragach could not have converted from one revealed, established religion (Hinduism), to another! The only conversion that took place was from Devayasni to Mazdayasni Zarthushtism. The Mazdayasnis accepted Asho Zarathushtra and his divine revelations as the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din. To spread righteousness and spiritual ecstasy, not only to other humans, but to all the Kingdoms of Nature as well, is the mandate of our Religion. Purity, brotherhood and the conversion of evil into good is the only doctrine of true "conversion" taught by our Holy Paigambar Saheb. Hence to maintain that Asho Zarathushtra proselytised the followers of other revealed religions is false.

Question 2: At the end of every Niyayesh and Yasht, we pray, "Daad din beh Mazdayasnan agahi, ravahi, goafrangani bad, haft keshvar zamin aedun baad". Does this not advocate conversion? Are we not mandated to convert others from all the seven regions or continents to the Mazdayasni Religion?

Answer: It is true that we pray these words daily but the connotation is incorrect. The sentence begins with the key word "daad", meaning the laws of the good Mazdayasni Religion! "Agahi" means wisdom (of the laws). "Ravahi" means obedience (to the laws, also to the soul or "ravan"), and "goafrangani" means praise (sing the praises of the laws). No fewer words have been more misunderstood and misinterpreted than these words of sublime homage to our Din!

a) In the above sentence, "agahi" indicates the wisdom of the "daad", the first word that begins the sentence! "Daad" means law and therefore, "agahi" or wisdom refers to the wise, progressive laws of the good Mazdayasni Religion that should be spread and increased over the seven regions of the Earth. The most sublime and the most exalted divine wisdom of the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din is to convert Angre Mainyu to Spenta Mainyu, and not followers of other revealed religions. It is the knowledge, the wisdom of this fundamental law of converting evil to good that a Zarthushti is required to spread on "haft keshvar zamin".

b) "Ravahi" denotes obedience. Obedience to the laws of Asha as prescribed by the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din. The immutable, fundamental and universal law of Asha is to convert one's own evil mentality into goodness and godliness. Hence, this obedience to the spiritual law of the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din is to be spread universally on all the seven "earths".

Obedience or "ravahi" also implies obedience to the dictates of one's soul which is divine and immortal. Being immortal, the soul is also omniscient and therefore, it chooses wisely before birth the time, parents, place and religion to which it will be born into. Ahura Mazda Himself has organised His creation into orderly groups. Yasna 19 illustrates the Divine Word, the mystic manthra of Ahunavar in detail. It explains the Will of Ahura Mazda and the establishment of the five main religions and their "ratus" or prophets as "pancha ratus" and "pancha tkaeshas". Since Ahura Mazda Himself has ordained different religions, it is spiritually ignorant to say that people can choose their religion reflectively. Religion, like parents, time and place of birth is pre-ordained. Every occurrence is through His Plan and Will. Therefore, "ravahi" indicates obedience to the soul and to His Will! Obedience indicates surrender, submission and not rebellious choices and preferential desires selected by the mind that is still in the process of evolving and prone to err!

c) "Goafrangani" means praise. We praise the laws of the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din which give knowledge of the intimate workings of Nature, the laws which give us the wisdom to obey and choose wisely between the two paths of good and evil in every thought, word and deed. "Goafrangani" means we praise the laws of the great Mazdayasni Zarthuhsti Din, the Wisdom Religion, which teach us to turn "vauraya" (Yasna 31.3), from evil to good, to have faith in and to obey the teachings of our Holy Prophet Asho Zarathushtra!

d) "Haft keshvar zamin": "haft" means seven and "zamin" indicates earth. Some philologists have translated the word "keshvar" as the seven terrestrial continents of the Earth. The word "keshvar" indicates "karsh" or "kash" meaning to draw circles or talismanic rings. "Keshvars" are certain rarefied locations in the regions of upper space separated from the terrestrial Earth and they should not be confused with the seven continents of this Earth. Our continents are not round circles and they are not talismanic rings. They keep drifting, change size and the numbers are also variable as in the beginning there was only one vast continent that later broke into several pieces creating the seven continents that are incidental.

Yasna 32.3, (Ahunavaiti), refers to our Earth or "geti" as "bumiyao haptaithe" or the "seven earths", synonymous with "haft keshvar zamin". The Vendidad, one of the original 21 Nasks, elucidates further on these "earths" and refers to these "haft keshvars" by describing them as Vouru Bareshti (situated in the north-west of "geti"), Vouru Zareshti (situated in the north-east). Fradadafshu (south-west) and Vidadafshu (south-east). Arezahi is in the west and Savahi is located in the east of "geti". In the centre is "Khvanirath"! Bundahishn and Yasna 11.7 also place "Khvanirath" as centrally located. As is evident, these seven "earths" are regions that are situated in pairs! Our physical continents are not in pairs, neither are they round and our Earth cannot be said to be in the centre of the other six continents! Additionally and significantly, the Vendidad, differentiates the Earth or "Khvanirath" as being combined with "imat" or "this", meaning the "terrestrial earth", while all other "keshvars" are combined with "avat" or "that/those (upper) earths", indicating them to be rarefied, luminous orbs different from the terrestrial "Khvanirath". "Khvanirath" alone is declared to be known to, and is accessible to man! Hence, it is abundantly clear that "keshvars" indicate certain regions of upper space and not the seven terrestrial continents of this Earth.

When we pray the words, "may the wisdom, obedience and praise of the laws of the excellent Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din ever increase and spread over the seven regions", we maintain that we "convert" the followers of other "apara-tkaesha" or later religions to convert their own evil to righteousness. Unless and until all souls attain to spiritual wisdom, Frashogard cannot be attained. We can effectively spread the knowledge, obedience and fame of the great Mazdayasni Zarthuhsti Din on all the regions of "haft keshvar zamin" by disseminating the moral conversion preached in the Gathas and other scriptures, of converting Angra Mainyu into Spenta Mainyu. We can spread the fame of the law that grants every man the freedom to choose consciously between the two paths of good and evil in every thought, word and deed performed. The immutable law of justice is taught as a consequence of selections made in every thought, word and deed committed during life. Heretics read the word "proselytise" where no such word is even remotely hinted at!

Question 3: It is also maintained by some that all Zarthushtis are advised to become "missionaries" and convert others to the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Religion! Do the Gathas impart such a teaching?

Answer: Definitely not! The Gathas are the most sublime teachings of our Paigambar Asho Zarathushtra! He is called "ramzgo" or one who spoke in a mystic tongue! Every Prophet has revealed the spiritual teachings in parables and hidden the loftiest mysteries under a mystic veil. The Gathas are no exception. Yasna 48.3 calls the teachings "guzra-senghaongo" meaning secret or hidden; Yasna 50.6 refers to the Gathic stanzas and the revelations contained therein as "razeng", meaning occult or mystic! When Asho Zarathushtra addresses the disciples as "messengers", ("thwoi dutaongho", Yasna 32.1), and advises them to go to far off lands to spread the universal truth with regard to "converting" their own and others, the advice given is indeed mystic and refers only to the inner, true conversion! Haptan Yasht (karda 8), also a part of Yasna 41.6, reveals the same teaching, that is, to become "doorat asho-isho" (holy ashavans), in order to "convert". Emphatically, the words "convert" and "missionary" do not mean conversion in the so-called missionary style that the Gatha Alone Cultists are currently carrying on! Esoterically, these words referred to the saints and sages, the holy ashavans, who have already travelled far on the Path of Righteousness (ashoi) to convert their own evil into good. The righteous ones never convert people from religion to religion but themselves and others from unrighteousness to righteousness! To spread "ashoi" or righteousness does not mean proselytise! "Ashoi" or righteousness is universal as is the teaching regarding righteousness given by every revealed religion through their respective prophets! To act righteously and to ask any individual to forsake the religion of birth is antithetical. There are righteous and unrighteous individuals within every community! It matters not what religion a person is born into as long as that individual obeys the tenets of the religion of birth and leads a righteous life. Good thoughts, words and deeds are not a Zarthushti monopoly. No religion teaches bad conduct. These three universal precepts of good thoughts, good words and good deeds are universally taught by all the prophets and many non-Zarthushtis do religiously practice these three fundamental virtues.

To understand the true conversion that takes place within, of vices into virtues, the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Religion teaches through Yasna 55 that the primordial "ruvan" is divided into 9 components, namely fravashi, baodang, urvan (immortal parts), keherp, tevishi, ushtan (meta-physical), and azda, gaetha, tanu (physical parts). After its long peregrination through all the "keshvars", when the soul or "urvan" becomes spiritually perfected, it is able to re-unite all its meta-physical and physical components that were so far experiencing consciousness on their own individual planes of existence. The soul then combines these components with baodang and fravashi in life everlasting. The united soul thus becomes a complete entity after drawing unto itself the different components that were scattered throughout the varied Kingdoms of Nature. Hence, these words regarding the missionaries refer to the ashavans who travel far on the Path and have been able to convert their "own", meaning the components of their own soul by uniting them into one complete whole through spiritual perfection. This teaching is similar to the Egyptian tale of Osiris and Isis. The mystic teaching regarding "converting" one's own and others may also mean that the Divine Missionaries, the Perfected Souls, as Guides, direct other seekers, of other religions, on the Right Path to become spiritually perfected. There is no mention of converting others from religion to religion! Even the Prophet of Islam has admonished his disciples not to proselytise others of the "Book", meaning those who are born into another revealed religion.

In fact, if our religion propagated conversion and sent missionaries, Cyrus the Great would have surely converted all the Jews! He did not, in keeping with the true teachings of the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din! Darius the Great could have also converted people from 28 Nations who were under his rule but Zarthushti Kings always respected other religions and their followers in keeping with the teachings of our Prophet. They did not convert individuals because conversion, meaning to proselytise from one religion to another, is totally alien to our faith; it is unZarthushti. Such actions are a heresy! In fact, Darius the Great, in keeping with the teaching and practice of boonak-pasbaani, has inscribed his lineage at Naqsh-e Rustom as, "parsa parsahya puthra arya aryachithra", meaning, (I am) Parsi, the son of a Parsi, an Aryan, of Aryan lineage! Unfortunately, some Sassanian nobility deviated from the true teachings and committed the spiritual sin of intermarriage. Princes born of juddin mothers were instigated to commit treason, patricide and heresy against the religion and this started the beginning of the end of the Empire. To proselytise from religion to religion does not help any individual to become "better". Our Prophet has not advocated proselytism but only the true, inner conversion and to become "missionaries" of righteousness!

Question 4: What about the Freedom of Choice! Don't the Gathas grant the freedom of choice to individuals to select their religion, using the Good Mind?

Answer: The choice or the freedom to choose offered in Yasna 30.2 (Ahunavaiti), is a moral choice. The choice offered is only between the two Paths of good and evil. Yasna 30.2 speaks of "avarenao" or "two beliefs", "two paths", and "veechithayhaa", referring to the two "choices". Irrefutably, these words refer to the two paths of good and evil, and to the two choices offered in the selection between the two "mainyus" or mentalities and not between religions! There is no mention of the word religion in this stanza. Obviously, these two "choices" may refer only to the moral choice between the two opposing paths of good and evil, and not between "two" religions!

All three Vada Dasturjis, Dasturji Hormazdyar Mirza, Dasturji Kaikhusroo JamaspAsa and Dasturji Firoz Kotwal have proven beyond a doubt in their joint reply, "Conversion in Zoroastrianism _ A Myth Exploded" (reprinted from Jam-e issues of 9th and 10th June 1983), that conversion is alien to the Zarthushti Din! They emphasize unanimously that the freedom to choose applies only to the moral choice, and not between selecting a religion! The literal translation of Yasna 30.2, as given unanimously by the three Vada Dasturjis is, "Do you hear by ears with best mind, do you see by eye-sight: decision of two choices, man by man, for one's person before the great consummation, to be accompanied for us, O thinking ones!" Further, in the very next stanza, Yasna 30.3, the two choices are defined and prescribed in no uncertain words and they are the selection between good and evil in every thought, word and deed performed during life. Dasturjis write, pp. 3 and 4, "Man is free to choose any one, either good or bad, but warning has been given in Yasna 30.4 and other stanzas that the result of good will be good and the result of bad will be bad (e.g. Yasna 43.5). There is no idea of freedom of choice or conversion in the said Gathic stanza. In support of this interpretation, we quote another Gathic Stanza, Yasna 45.3: 'Then do I declare the foremost of this life, which the wise Ahura Mazda revealed unto me: Those of you who shall not practise here this holy word (manthra), as I think and speak, unto them shall be woe at the end of life'." Hence, it is conclusively proven that Yasna 30.2 or any other Gathic stanza does not speak of conversion of any individual from one religion to another. Asho Zarathushtra refers only to the moral choice and the responsibility that goes with that choice! Incidentally, the important point to bear in mind is that here, Asho Zarathushtra emphasizes the fact that he has prescribed certain disciplines and those who do not follow, or obey his revelation, for them the end will be full of woe! Where is the slightest hint of " freedom to do as you please", or "choice"?

There are various other references in the Gathas to indicate that the individual is responsible for the moral choice. The word "renoibya" (Yasna 31.3, 43.12), also indicates only two fighters, or two parties that are waging an ongoing battle between good and evil. The battle continues as long as man functions within the bounds of the two opposing mentalities. The battle, the "Kurukshetra" is waged in the mind. It is the battle between the two "mainyus" (mentalities) alone and not between religions! Our scriptures have never defined any other religion as "evil" or "akoman"! According to Yasna 19 all religions and occurrences are pre-ordained by Ahura Mazda. All religions are established at the appointed time according to the Divine Will to fulfil the varied spiritual needs of diverse humanity. Piety can be achieved through any religion one is born into provided one is wise enough to obey the dictates of the voice of conscience and follow the mandates given by the particular prophet. These so-called navjotes and "conversions" currently carried on by some heretics under the leadership of Ali Akbar Jafarey are an insult and a mockery perpetrated against the Zarthushti, Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Jewish religions. The "conversion" prescribed is from evil to good; however, if all religions are manifested according to the Divine Will, where is the need to convert? No prophet has advised the disciples to renounce their religion of birth. No religion and no divinely appointed "ratu" have preached "akoman" or unrighteousness of discarding one's own religion of birth to embrace a newer faith!

It is important to emphasize that no prophet has ever said, "do as you please", yet assuring the disciples of the best existence! Every prophet has laid out a certain prescriptive path of moral conduct for the followers to combat the inherent evil tendencies resulting from the co-existence of the dual mentalities. After having revealed the moral path of Spenta Mainyu, Asho Zarathushtra emphasizes several times, more specifically in Yasna 43.5, "akem akai" meaning evil to evil, and again in Yasna 51.8, punishment for the wicked. To be taught, to be admonished to obey is far from granting the so-called "reflective thinking" and the "freedom of choice" to do as one pleases! No religion is based on the so-called "reflective thinking" proposition that promotes unlimited freedom and lawlessness. In fact, the very first precept the Gathas teach is obedience! Only through obedience to the Will of Ahunavar (Ahunavaiti Gatha), only by obeying Asha, one attains to Ushta, Spenta and Vohu Kshthra! It is only obedience that makes the highest attainment in spiritual wisdom (Vahishta-Ishti) possible. Please do consider that it is contradictory to maintain that obedience is synonymous with the freedom to choose! The only freedom of choice is between the two paths (of good and evil), and not between religions. Every man is free to choose his actions but ample warning is given with regard to consequential reward and punishment.

The Gathas begin by the complaints of Geush Urva. If people could have chosen wisely and reflectively, why did Geush Urva cry out to the Creator to appoint a saviour? The answer is evident that it is because mankind cannot always choose correctly, there was the need to appoint Asho Zarathushtra, "aevo", the only one who completely understood Ahura's commands, to take birth on this Earth and teach mankind the Path to Asha whereby Geush Urva would be contented. Even the mind of a genius is not yet totally developed. Would then, a Prophet of the calibre of Asho Zarathushtra, appointed by the Divine Assembly, by Ahura Mazda Himself, give his followers the freedom to choose what they think is correct in spiritual matters although they are not spiritually perfected? That would tantamount to leading the gullible to make wrong decisions in life. Freedom to choose our actions comes with grave moral responsibility especially in spiritual matters since we have not yet developed our spiritual senses of "seeing", "hearing", etc. that some describe as clairvoyance and clairaudience. Therefore, all prophets have insisted upon faith and obedience from their followers to their respective revelations. Each has stressed the consequences that befall the renegades who choose unwisely between the paths of good and evil. Prophets were spiritually perfected souls who held sacred communion with the Divine before revealing their teachings and leading their disciples to universal truths. Are ordinary humans capable of holding such divine and spiritual communions to know Nature's Truth? No! Our mind is still imperfect and our evolution is still spiritually incomplete. Therefore, prophets are appointed to prescribe the Path and it is up to the followers of that particular Path to obey and follow in the footsteps of the respective prophet. A follower follows; heretics disobey and justify their wrongdoing as "reforms" or "change", and even quote the scriptures to suit their wrong interpretations.

The universal Truth is the same in all the religions but the prescriptive tenets and rituals differ. It is false to say that the Gathas offer the freedom of choice to denounce one's religion of birth and embrace an alien one. There is no such freedom even hinted at in the sublime Gathas. The act of choosing is dual. The mind chooses after birth what thoughts, words and deeds to select and consequentially bear the retribution; but the soul, being omniscient, chooses before birth the religion one is born into to best progress spiritually through those prescribed disciplines. If our mind was all "good", we would all be spiritually perfected souls and we would have arrived at the stage of "tan-pasin" wherein we would experience no physical suffering. But that is not the case! Our mind has yet to conquer many vices and acquire many spiritual qualities and senses. If we all possessed "Vohu Mano", even a tiny ray of this exalted Archangel, we would be immortal and beyond this discussion! The "good mind" referred in the Gathas is only the faculty of the mind that enables it to choose wisely and morally our thoughts, words and actions. Vohu Mano, the Ameshaspand, is united to Ahura Mazda as His Divine Ray! Vohu Mano is indeed Ahura Mazda's Own Divine Mind! Our mind is still evolving; it is not spiritually perfected. The Gathas specify that it was only Asho Zarathushtra, "aevo", who had attained to Vohu Mano and therefore, he too is called an Ameshaspand in the Khordad Yasht. He is referred to as a "Yazata" in Yasna 3 and 7. Can anyone of us claim to be so spiritually perfected? Hope this will convince the gullible that there is no unlimited freedom offered in the Gathas, and no conversion from religion to religion is even hinted at in any of our scriptures.

The Pahlavi Text, Dadistan-i Dinik, in chapter 41, declares that a Zarthushti is worthy of death if he/she abandons the Good Religion (Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din), and after death, the soul of such a person finds itself in worst existence! If no "outside" conversion was accepted, how can proselytism into our own from another religion be justified?

Question 5: If conversion is not permitted, why do we pray to the fravashis of all the souls?

Answer: Based on the sublime concept that the Universe is naught but Ahura Mazda's Own Physical Manifestation, our religion lays great emphasis on the Universal Brotherhood of Nature, called "Ardafravash". In the Fravardin Yasht, we pay homage to and venerate all the fravashis of all the righteous people. Fravashi is the highest principle in man. It is immortal. It is a Ray of the Divine Himself. The fravashi is therefore incorruptible. Because the fravashi is pure and righteousness, it is remembered in our prayers. Fravashi, being the Ray of the Divine, is also beyond religion, beyond making moral decisions between the two paths. It is the soul, "urvan", that is connected to the spiritual disciplines of a particular religion and it is the soul that learns and gathers its components to unite with the fravashi in life ever lasting. It is the deeds of the righteous we honour and not the "mind" or their mortal body! To honour righteousness does not mean to proselytise. It is ridiculous to see "conversion" propounded everywhere in our sacred scriptures and this is an insult to our intelligence, to our "good mind".

Question 6: It is said that Hoshidar-Mah, Hoshidar-Bami and Saoshyants will convert one and all to the Mazdayasni Zarthuhsti Religion. Then why not convert now?

Answer: First of all, we are not Saoshyants and these Holy Saviours will appear at the end of our time/racial cycle. It is written in the Pahlavi Text Dadistan-I Dinik, p. 77 that at such time, when renovation is near, "bodily existences desist from eating, and live without food", as they possess "blood exhausted" bodies. This is a reference to "tan-pasin" whereby at the end of this time cycle, humans will not possess physical bodies such as ours but the final body acquired will be ethereal. Certainly, we are not living in such a spiritual state currently and there is no question of converting others from other religions as also because none of us can claim to be a saoshyant! The Mazdayasni Din is the root of all religions. At the appointed time, at Frashogard, all souls and all religions will once again be absorbed into the Mazdayasni Din! But, currently, we are trapped within the physical body functioning in the parameters of the two opposing mentalities. We have not yet acquired "blood exhausted" bodies and we do need food for our "bodily existences"! Misleading statements are circulated to fool the gullible!

Question 7: The Itthoter Rivayat of 1773 that are the last exchanges between India and Iran, the question is asked if servants can be converted and their remains consigned to dakhma. The reply given states that converting servants earns great merit! Then why not convert others if servants were converted?

Answer: Really! To what extent these heretics go to, to justify their wrong deeds! Gullible behdins should use caution when confronted by such statements. a) There were several Rivayats written between India and Iran. These Rivayats are not scriptures. They were written as exchanges and indicate the social and customary trends of the time, "rit-rivaj". The Pahlavi Texts are written more closer to the time after the downfall of the Sassanians (between the ninth and eleventh centuries AD), when Irani mobeds possessed religious knowledge which they wished to pass down to future generations. b) The Irani mobeds and scribes were not used to the custom of having servants in Iran, and subsequently, they were not aware of the social conditions prevalent in India around 1773 when this Rivayat was written. Hence their opinion on the subject regarding "servants" can hardly be authentic! c) There are many unreliable letters and documents produced by the heterodox to suit their heresies. One such document went under the name of "Vaetha Nask" to justify and promote proselytism and intermarriage. Credit goes to several Parsi and Western scholars who conclusively proved this "Vaetha Nask" to be a forgery written by a scribe who was bribed to commit such writing in favour of conversion and intermarriage. Hence, everything one reads and hears is not always correct. And, more importantly, the Rivayats are not scriptures!

In fact, the three Vada Dasturjis have jointly and conclusively replied to the allegations regarding conversion made from these Rivayats. In "Conversion in Zoroastrianism _ A Myth Exploded", they write that in the Persian Rivayats, "a grave-digger, a corpse-burner and a darvand are mentioned (but nothing is mentioned about their religion), and a question is posed whether they can become Zoroastrians. There is no reason to believe that they belonged to an alien religion. About 300 to 400 years ago, some Parsis, particularly those settled in places away from the centres of Zoroastrianism, had adopted non-Zoroastrian customs, habits and practices. This is indicated from the same source (Persian Rivayats, 108, 160 and 162), and also from some suggestive Parsi surnames used even at present. In this context, the term darvand does not mean a non-Zoroastrian who has discarded Zoroastrian practices." Further, the Dasturjis state that "in some cases the Zorastrians in far off places were forced to adopt certain professions and to do certain work". This shows the pathetic condition of some Parsis in far off remote places in India when these Rivayats were written. Therefore, one cannot rely upon the statement in this particular "Itthoter" Rivayat that sons of servants were converted to our religion. Indeed, wealthy Zarthushtis often used to employ impoverished Zarthushtis as "servants" and "cooks". All "servants" in Zarthushti homes were not always juddins. Another point to note is that the Vada Dasturjis denounced the identical case of the so-called Vansda "navjotes". Hence, this reference to the Itthoter Rivayat holds no ground as an excuse to proselytise.

The practice of keeping servants and producing progeny through such relationship is an immoral act. The Vansda episode was just that! Married Zarthushtis in remote places took to keeping servants who were juddins and the progeny of such adulterous unions were navjoted by Ervad Bode. How can such immoral deeds ever be justified and that too through religion and its sublime teachings? It is disgraceful to even discuss and legitimise such deeds. The statement regarding the Itthoter Rivayat and conversion of servants does not merit further discussion and, two wrongs do not make a right! This simply proves that within our own community there are unrighteous Zarthushtis! It is definitely not the name of the religion that makes an individual good or bad. If that were the case, all Zarthushtis would be spiritually and morally perfect! Where is the need to convert from any other religion to ours when we ourselves, as Zarthushtis, have to face grave imperfections, adulterous and immoral acts committed by our own co-religionists as is evident from the Vansda case as well as from this Rivayat?

Question 8: Those who oppose conversion practice discrimination against other juddins as being inferior. This is morally wrong.

Answer: On the contrary! Those who propagate conversion believe that only their religion is superior and therefore everyone must follow their religion! They are the ones who do not respect other religions and will accept others as equal only if they convert to their belief, their way of thinking. This is discrimination indeed! Not the other way around! By painting a Doberman white with black spots, the Doberman does not become a Dalmatian! Similarly, a juddin cannot become a Zarthushti even if a renegade mobed performs the so-called "navjote". Some heterodox also subscribe to "selective" proselytism. This is indeed an act of discrimination as well as playing God to decide who should follow which religion! Mazdayasni Zarthushtis have inherited their genes, traits and way of life from their forefathers through "boonak pasbaani" since countless millennia and countless generations.

Proselytism breeds hatred. It is only because we did not proselytise that we, as a community, are respected in India and Iran. The recent atrocities in the Balkan, Africa, India and in other parts of the world are due to conversion from religion to religion. As a micro community, we cannot afford a blood bath that has gripped the other communities such as the Christians and Muslims, especially in India in recent times.

Our community would also do well to learn from its past history that proves that the groups of Zarthushtis who left Iran after the Arab conquest to settle in Europe and Asia perished, through their "open-door" policy of inter-communal marriage and proselytism. These Zarthushti communities perished because they were absorbed into the ethnic and racial identity of the larger host communities. In time, they lost touch with their religious traditions, rituals and customs and by adopting a newer way of life of the host communities, they lost their religious identity as well. There are no living, practising Zarthushti descendants of these groups in existence today. Only some archaeological evidences stand as mute testimony to the annihilation of the Zarthushti communities who intermarried, proselytised and perished outside of Iran and India!

Please note that it was only in India and India alone, that the migrant Irani community of Zarthushtis, the Parsis, flourished. Our sagacious ancestors were able to preserve their religion and religious identity because they adhered to their traditions and rituals, and practised "boonak-pasbaani" or the "closed door" policy. They are the only group outside of Iran to survive for over thirteen centuries - even through persecutions and massacres! Please, let us not destroy what our forefathers died for, what they suffered for! They gave up their lives so we may inherit the great Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din unchanged, as they inherited it from the previous generations.

Heretics even quote the Din-no Kalmo from Khordeh-Avesta-Ba-Mayeni of Ervad Kavasji Edulji Kanga, First Edition in English, 1993 A.C., to mislead the gullible into believing that our religion actively propagates conversion from other religions. There are two Din-no Kalmo in our Avesta. One is in Avestan, taken from Yasna 12! The other Din-no Kalmo, referred to by the heretics to suit their purpose is the one wherein the first part is taken from the "Kshnooman" (propitiation) of Din Yasht: "Razishtayao Chistayao Mazdadhatayao Ashaonyao, Daenyao Vanghuyao Mazdayasnoish." There is no mention of conversion here, only an offering of praise to the great Mazdayasni Din! The second part is, as Kangaji acknowledges, in Persian! "Din beh rast va dorost, ke khodae bar khalk ferastadeh in hast ke Zartosht avordeh hast; din dine Zartosht, dine Ahura mazda dadeh Zartosht ashaone Ashem Vohu (1)." (Emphasis is mine.) Kangaji has translated "bar khalk ferastadeh" as "sent for the people of this world". Here, it is the great Mazdayasni Din that is referred to, which Asho Zarathushtra accepted, propagated and established on the right path after weeding out some Devayasni practices that had crept in! It is also important to note that Iran was the "world" when Asho Zarathushtra lived and preached! The "world" was then divided into Iran and Turan, and Asho Zarathushtra lived and preached in "Iran"! Kangaji translates, "(That) Religion is the Religion of Zarathushtra (and) the Religion of Hormazd, which (the Creator Hormazd) gave to Holy Zarathushtra (for propagating in this world)." (Emphasis mine.) "For propagating in this world" is an addition that Kangaji has put into brackets; it is not included in the original words of Din-no Kalmo recited in Persian!!! The original words only affirm that the Mazdayasni Din is the Religion of Ahura Mazda which HE revealed to Asho Zarathushtra. Where does it say in the "Kalmo" that Asho Zarathushtra propagated conversion? In fact, the Din-no Kalmo, Yasna 12, only sings the praises of the Great Mazdayasni Din, Din Yazad and Chista, the Yazad who is the co-worker of Din Yazad. It is evident that just as the wisdom of the laws of the Great Mazdayasni Din are obeyed and praised throughout the world as so stated in every Niyayesh and Yasht, the Din-no Kalmo too, praises the Mazdayasni Din which Ahura Mazda revealed to Holy Asho Zarathushtra. The word "to proselyte" is absolutely non-existent in Din-no Kalmo or in any of our scriptures; it is non-existent in the entire Avesta!

It is absolutely a false conception to believe that our religion teaches conversion from one revealed, established religion to another! All the other great religions are referred to in the Gathas and in other prayers as "daenyao vanghuyao", meaning the good religions based on the principle of Vohu Mano! Changing the mere name of one's religion is in no way spiritually beneficial to any individual. The true conversion must come from within, of converting vices to virtues and every religion teaches its followers to attune to the Good Mind and to progress spiritually! All religions subscribe to Renovation, Resurrection, Divine Justice and the other universal beliefs regarding virtues, life after death, etc. All religions are established according to the Divine Will and have a purpose to exist. Human interference of conversion from religion to religion works against the soul's spiritual progress. This is the prime reason why we do not proselytise. True conversion is from within and not from religion to religion. Hope every Zarthushti will, with knowledge and obedience, spread the fame of the laws of our religion to all others to likewise convert their own Angra Mainyu to reflect Spenta! The great Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din will survive forever, till Frashogard!

Atha jamyat, yatha afrinami!

- Mrs. Pervin J. Mistry

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