The only True Trustee Rustom Tirandaz's Stand on DakhmaNashini

Fellow Traditional Mazdayasni Zarathushtris,

This is BPP Trustee (the only true one) Rustom Tirandaz's earlier letter to his co - trustees, for your information.

People have always admired Rustom's honesty and courage of conviction. He is the only true Zarathushtri who is fighting a lone battle in defence of our forefather's religion, in the BPP board room.

About this particular incident, posterity will heap disgust and shame on the other BPP trust-betrayers, but it will speak of Tirandaz - the only true Trustee of the BPP - in golden letters.

Our forefathers sacrificed all their land and riches in Iran and came to India just to preserve their sacred religion, and we their descendants will NOT see the religion go down the gutter in this sordid way.

And we know very well that only truth and righteousness will triumph in the end, not devious means and plots based on money power.

780, Karani Mansion,
Jam-E-Jamshed Road,
Mancherjee E. Joshi Colony,
Dadar , Mumbai - 400 014.
TEL: 412 72 09 FAX: 413 72 09
E-Mail :

The Trustees,
Bombay Parsi Punchayet,
Mumbai 400 001.

My Dear Colleagues,

It is with a very heavy heart that I pen the following lines of dissent against what colleague Mr. Dinshaw Tamboli has thought fit to circulate in the matter of the Legal Opinion received by us from Senior Counsel Mr. Rafique Dada on the subject of the Doongerwadi. He is trying to justify the indefensible by roping in obscure "authorities" to prop up his voyage across the waters in a punctured boat.

The opinion itself is a resounding slap in the face of the protagonists of the alternate system of the disposal of the dead, styled as the DDD-AG. It is quite welcomed by the handful of the members of the SDAC who have obtained a copy of the same and who are greatly relieved to realize that now if the DDD-AG are aggrieved and they wish to go to court any Judge of the Bombay High Court is very likely to support the status quo.

Instead of taking the opinion gracefully, the DDD AG has become more strident and is pushing for a kill of sorts, by giving us an ultimatum that leaves me with a bad taste in the mouth.

At the outset, I compliment Mr. Rafique Dada for his emphasis on the religious aspect of the issue and his simultaneous desire not to be drawn into a religious controversy. It is to the credit of Mr. Rafique Dada that he has not allowed his personal views to cloud his opinion, which he has drafted in all fairness with a level of objectivity and balance. He has very deftly left the religious issue to be interpreted by the B.P.P. who in their collective wisdom have always left it to the high priests and naturally so, since it is almost impossible to understand leave alone interpret Zoroastrianism in its pristine form and glory by the uninitiated.

I would like to reiterate some irrefutable facts to refresh our mortal memories.

1. That the religion Zoroastrianism was revealed to The Prophet Zoroaster by Ahuramazda himself more than three thousand years ago and it remained part of the oral tradition for over 1,500 years before the advent of writing in Iran. In fact all the prayers, the history, the rituals, the ceremonies and the tenets of the religion have come down initially by word of mouth and only very much later through the writings of our sages.

2. That therefore there can be no honest claim that this or that religious document or prayer book represents the correct teachings of Zoroaster to the exclusion of the others or all. This is especially so when convenient interpretations are invented to suit the moment.

3. That the Zoroastrians have over the centuries, disposed of their dead only by their exposure to the elements, a universally acknowledged fact known to even the lay non-Zoroastrians of the World regardless the type of Dokhmas that have been constructed right throughout history. In fact the present Trust Deed of the Doongerwadi narrates that the Dokhma Lands had existed for over 200 years before the making of the Trust Deed of 1884. The earlier period was covered again by the oral tradition which have now become religious laws and procedures i.e. Paidast, Uthamna, Sarosh-nu-Patru, Pathli Raat-nu-Uthamnu.

4. That the Doongerwadi in Mumbai was conceived and the Dokhmas consecrated a few hundred years ago at a time when there was only one religiously sanctioned mode of the disposal of the Zoroastrian dead i.e. by the system of Dokhmenishini, even as it stands today. Statistics have more than established that only a miniscule percentage of the Parsi / Irani Zoroastrians opt for Cremation in total defiance of the scriptures.

5. That Zoroastrians are called the Fire Worshippers and they perform all their ceremonies, be it the Navjote, a Wedding, a Jashan, a Funeral or any of the other ceremonies, with a Sandalwood Fire as a Divine Witness and to protect which one thousand years ago less than a thousand of our ancestors left the tyranny of the Muslims in Iran and settled down and thrived on the friendly Indian soil.

6. That the Zoroastrians also worship to a lesser extent but worship nevertheless the other elements of Nature all Creations of Ahuramazda and which they are at great pains to save from defilement. In fact it is commonly believed that Zoroastrianism is the first actively eco-friendly religion known to man.

7. That when the trust deed of the Doongerwadi was first conceived, Cremation of Zoroastrian dead, was the farthest thing from even the most imaginative mind. It was blasphemy to even visualize an alternate system of disposal. Again no Zoroastrian would ever think of having ceremonies such as Navjotes, Weddings or such other in the Doongerwadi, a domain of the dead and this is where I believe Mr. Rafique Dada has erred but that is more out of ignorance of the Faith than any effort at demonstrating clarity. It is a recorded fact that no ceremony other than that associated with the ritual of Dokhmenishini has ever been allowed or been carried out at not only the Malabar Hill Doongarwadi but at all other similar venues of Dokhmenishini.

8. That over the past more than a century and more over a hundred thousand bodies have gone to the Doongerwadi, and after the performance of the Paidast, been consigned to the Dokhmas, and the four day prayers have been performed for all of them, all pertaining to the Dead person and never any prayers of rejoicing or happiness. In any case, historically no dead body has been brought to the Doongerwadi and after the prayers had been taken out for Cremation or Burial, both of which are religiously tabooed by Zoroastrianism. Let that put an end to the bogie of Disjunctive and conjunctive once and for all time.

9. That whereas the Trustees of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet are the keepers of the Community's Physical and Material Resources, The High Priests and there have been many acknowledged as such through the ages, have been the repository of the Community's Conscience and its Faith. Through the ages the two have never clashed and both have looked up to and respected each other in their respective fields. It is pertinent to note that all the eight High Priests of India and the whole lot of the priests of the forty four Fire Temples of Mumbai have decried the method other than Dokmenishini for the disposal of the dead as un Zoroastrian.

10. That like most religions, Zoroastrianism has imposed certain Taboos and injunctions on its followers and yet simultaneously given them the freedom of departure from the faith. While a born and initiated Parsi / Irani Zoroastrian is expected to cover his head in a place of worship, wear a Sudreh and Kushti and live a clean and wholesome life, marry a spouse from the same faith and whereas he may not induct a non-Zoroastrian into the faith, he or she is free to leave the religion for some other that is more precious or acceptable to him.

11. That it is universally acknowledged that Zoroastrians do not convert nor accept converts into their faith, they don't allow members of other religions to enter their Fire Temples, and to that extent they are exclusive to themselves, maintaining non- adulteration of genetic lineage and rituals and customs.

12. That the Zoroastrians over the Centuries have always believed in a life after death with the soul and the spirit continuing to exist after physical mortality. The mortal remains i.e. the dead body are afflicted by the Nasus and are then disposed off as per the age old custom, of Dokmenishini, the origin of which has been lost in antiquity, but which is the only prescribed system and has stood the test of time.

13. That the teachings of Zoroaster have been ageless and timeless in their content and although they have been subjected to and buffeted by the vicissitudes of time, they have come down to us in a language that is not easily understood leave alone uniformly interpreted, yet they have stood by and protected us through history.

14. Every Generation of every Society throws up self styled rebels, who are out to destroy the present order, usually with a change-for-the-sake-of change mentality but more often out of pique, perceived problems where none exist, to satisfy bruised egos or extra territorial agendas or personal grudges, but always to the detriment of the community at large. The DDD-AG is no different. The protestant movement of the Roman Catholic Church led by Martin Luther in the Middle Ages and the present matter of the Bhori Community's conflict before the Hon. Supreme Court of India are two cases in point which easily come to mind. In both cases the miniscule minority may if they so wish go their separate way and they are free to leave the main stream and start their own denomination. But to overwhelm the majority of the quiet, peaceful, religious and hard-working Practicing Parsi / Irani Zoroastrians and cower them into submission can never be accepted.

15. That this threat of dragging the community's keepers to court is nauseating and will be the harbinger of innumerable arm-twisting tactics in days to come. The time to stand firm is now. The DDG-AG has to be firmly informed that the Trustees of the BPP are rescinding their earlier majority decision in the light of the Legal opinion.

16. That we the trustees have on our part at various times toyed with the idea of a Samast Anjuman Meeting and an Originating Summons in the Bombay High Court. Why can't we tell the DDD-AG that the high priests are opposed to all the demands that they have made from the start, so as true Zoroastrians why don't they drop them? Besides that we the seven trustees are not the owners, but only the trustees holding these lands in trust. We may not alienate any portion of them under duress, in any case not without unanimity as this matter pertains to the very "Raison D'Etre" of the B.P.P.

It would be in the fitness of things if we all persuaded our friends in the DDD-AG that their demands are unjustified, unethical, anti-religious and, above all, disruptive. The community can surely do without blood-letting and rancour and without lowering its hard-earned prestige in the eyes of our fellow Indians and the world at large. Let us give up this bickering and set our sights where they are supposed to be - on improving the lot of our unfortunate dear Zoroastrian brethren who need all the help they can get. I sincerely request you all to use your good offices for the sake of the community for which all Zoroastrians will be eternally grateful to us. I pray to Ahura Mazda that we will succeed.

We the trustees of the BPP should do what is ethically right and in the best interests of the religion and not seek to legitimize what we all know to be antithetical to the Zoroastrian faith. Let history judge us, as trustees who fought and defended the rights of the nameless and faceless majority rather than be brow beaten by a powerful vociferous minority, who seek to weaken the system of Dokhmenishini by adopting alternative modes of disposal, which are clearly anti Zoroastrian.

I pray that wiser counsel may prevail and guide the community out of this storm safely and stronger.

With warm regards, I remain,

Very Sincerely Your's

Rustom S. Tirandaz.

Chapters of the Saga

Saga of the Aryans Home Page

Traditional Zoroastrianism Home Page

How to get the Saga in book form