Importance of Science in the Study of Zend Avesta

K R Cama Memorial lecture

by Ervad Dr. Minocher Dadabhoy Karkhanawala (BA, MSc, MS, PhD)

[Late Ervad Dr Karkhanavala was born in Mumbai. He passed his B Sc with chemistry and physics, completed his BA and then MSc from Wilson and Elphinstone Colleges. He did his MS in glass technology from New York State College of Ceramics and PhD in organic chemistry from Philadelphia University, USA. He was ordained as a Navar and Martab at Navsari. Ever since he was initiated as a priest at a young age, he wore the white priestly robes with white pugree daily throughout his life in India as well as abroad, at college/university and at his job as a scientist at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). He represented India at the Geneva Conference on "Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy" and was Group Director, Health Physics Division and Chemical Group at BARC, Trombay, when he passed away due to an untimely and tragic accident on 17th November, 1979. Dr Karkhanavala was a devoted scientist, a gifted teacher, an organiser, an administrator, a humanitarian thinker and a staunch follower of the Zoroastrian religion. He practised what he preached. He believed that, like an escalator, science takes us there, that far but no further. It stops at the material world and that it is partial whereas religion is complete; it sees man as a whole mental, physical as well as spiritual. Religion takes over where science stops.]

Mr Chairman, Learned Dasturji Sahebs, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I stand before this distinguished audience to deliver the K R Cama Memorial Lecture, my feelings are much the same as of the great savant himself when, on the occasion of his 70th birthday, he was given a token of love and affection, the K R Cama Memorial Volume. He began the talk by quoting the beginning sentence of Vendidad 4 wherein it is stated Yo naire nemanghente noit nemo paiti baraiti tayush nemo barahe, meaning if one has an obligation he fails to discharge, he does not give away the indebtedness, he is a thief.

So, while thanking the trustees and the governing body of the K R Cama Oriental Institute for the honour they have done me in inviting me to deliver the K R Cama Memorial lecture, I would be failing in my duty in not expressing publicly my indebtedness to several people who have made it possible for me to be here this evening. Of course in this thanksgiving my first and foremost thanks are to Ahura Mazda for all His blessings I have so richly enjoyed.

My next thanks are to our venerable Prophet, the first Athravan, the Poiryo Athravan, to whom all athravans are forever indebted.

Next, to my parents for making me what I am. And then to my great teachers of Avesta and Pahlavi, particularly among whom I will cite the Late Homi F Chacha and the Late Dr Jamshedji Unwala and, through them, my indebtedness to that great teacher, the great savant who introduced to all of us the school of philology, the scientific study of the religion, the Late Kharshedji Rustomji Cama. My obeisance to them all.

I have chosen a rather provocative title, and many have asked me what is the need of science in the study of religion? Isn t philology and the study of grammar enough? Isn t there a conflict between science and religion, the two being poles apart? How can one help the other and how can science help us understand the Zoroastrian religion and the study of Zend Avesta?

I wish to show you how it is done, in several ways.

Before I do that, let me state very unambiguously that a good translation, a good knowledge of philology is of course essential. We have had two Madressas for the study of Avesta and Pahlavi grammar for nearly a century. We have had, not one, but two athornan institutes with the aim of giving our community learned priests. We have had this great institution which bears the name of the savant himself. Despite this, why have people been complaining that our youngsters are not paying attention to religion and are just not interested in matters religious? Why is there such apathy, especially among the younger generation?

The answer to that is not far to find. While translations are necessary and grammar and philology are essential, they are not by themselves everything. What we need is to live as true Zoroastrians. The lay Parsi is not interested between atmanepad and parasmaipad. He is not interested in the ablative and the dative. Oftentimes, he is not even interested in a grammatically correct translation. What he wants is something that will revitalize his faith, resuscitate his love and adoration for the Prophet, burn him with a zeal for the greatness and glory of our religion. Have we been satisfying that need, and to what extent?

The first need is to resuscitate his faith. Without faith, humanity loses its moorings on the bedrock of religion. Today we see the results throughout the length and breath of our country. With the increasing emphasis on secularism and getting away from religion as a guiding principle of daily life and of man s conduct, we have turned away from those virtues and principles which religion alone can imbibe and sustain principles which have given man s life a purpose, a decency and decorum. We have been failing in our loyalty, in our fidelity to God, to our Prophet, to our parents and family, to our country and to our fellowmen.

Let us realise that in all man s activity, faith is an essential ingredient, and that it is valid as much as the physical sciences. Today we need faith to believe mathematical equations, faith to believe abstract ideas. We need faith in everything and in every aspect of human endeavour. Our greatest need therefore, today, is resuscitation of our faith.

In resuscitating this faith, where have we failed in spite of all our efforts? I turn to the advice of Late Kharshedji Rustomji Cama himself, in that same memorable talk that he gave on the 13th of February, 1906. Camaji realised that philology and languages, by themselves, are not enough and that we must have a better understanding and an all round study. He said, and I quote: "Sahebo, Jarthosti sahitya né agal vadharva maté huju karvanu ghanu baaki rahélu chhé. Haju to apré bi vavyu, teno chodvo ugyo ané tena patra awwa mandiya chhé. Ful ni kaliyo futé ané té khilé ané té uppar ful-fal bazé ané té mithha falo utari né chakhwa né bané, té jamano haju ghano dur chhé. Pan koshish jari rahéshé to rafté, rafté té nazdik avto thashé. Jarthosti dharam ni batén philsuphi man koié paglu bharyu nathi, ke téma hanjun koié sodh khol kari nathi. Haju to apn-né matlab samaj padti nathi. Té khulli kari nakhi, ughadi padwani motti jarur chhé."

This remark of Kharshedji Cama, to my mind, aptly summarizes our need for today.

In the last ten years that I have been giving lectures on the Zoroastrian religion, I have tried, in my own humble way, to shed new light upon it because I find that our great scholars have just shut their eyes to the esoteric philosophy of the Zoroastrian religion. We cannot by mere grammar explain the philosophy contained in a religion. This is more so when dealing with texts like the Gathas, of which Rev. Mills, a learned scholar of Gathaic literature has said that every syllable of the Gathas is loaded with thought.

In all this, I have tried to only build up faith in our own religion. It is an imperative need of the present time to explain not only the teachings of our great Prophet, but the purity-based rituals and practices as well as the doctrines of our great and exalted religion which dates back to more than 8000 years ago. I will explain a little later why I say more than 8000 years.

First let me mention a point that I have often observed and noted. To many present day Parsis, the great antiquity of our religion, which should be a matter of pride, a rare prerogative and privilege, has become a matter of apology, if not outright rejection of its tenets and doctrines on the false grounds that its inheritance is from barbarism.

I say firmly to all Parsis that our heritage is not the heritage of barbarism but that of a dispeller of barbarism. Ours is the heritage of a mind so perfect, so profound, so complete that the world has never known its equal. Ours is a heritage of such an excellent and exquisite body of teachings that all the ravages of time have not been able to change them. Ours is the heritage of a complete and comprehensive, yet so compact a body of knowledge: spiritual, mental and physical. I emphasise "and physical", that all the so-called advances in human knowledge have not been able to antidate or antiquate any of it.

On the contrary, the great Dr. Samuel Laing has said, "the best modern thought is fast approximating it". This, to me, is something for which a Parsi can be legitimately proud of for which he can justifiably show that he is a Parsi by dress, by mannerisms, by his every act of faith, in stead of hiding the fact that he is a Parsi.

To inculcate this genuine love, pride, dedication and devotion, it is necessary to foster a true understanding of the glories, the greatness and the excellence of our Zoroastrian religion. I feel it is necessary to create, in our Madressas, that vibrant atmosphere wherein every individual will feel that he has this great heritage, that he is a crusader of the great Prophet and has to live according to his tenets.

Unfortunately today, these young neophytes see a vast disparity between the teachings of the religion and its practice. One example is better than a thousand precepts. We must, therefore, create in our Madressas that atmosphere, that environment.

In my opinion, this great Institute should be an institute of advanced studies and learning of the Zoroastrian religion in all its comprehensive aspects. Because I, for one, am definitely convinced and will show you how we have to have supplementary ideas from other sciences and from other branches of learning to interpret the translations we might have made.

I would, therefore, like to bring to your attention a new angle which I have been giving in the last few years. I have tape recorded many of my talks from 1959 onwards. But today what I want to show you is something in short and in brief.

First of all let me say this because to many science is something very great. Today we talk of all sciences: social sciences, psychological sciences and even economics as a science. Of course, eventually, the original word "science" is nothing else but "sciencia" to know. It is knowledge and, even when we look upon even the physical side, I would emphasise that it has its own limitations.

A great difficulty I find in our present day Parsis is that in all matters, other than religion, they will say, "Oh, we cannot understand it. It is not our field of study." But it is only in the field of religion that everybody becomes an expert and, without the slightest knowledge or study, begins to opine! As a result, we have produced Doubting Thomases. The time has come to produce Trusting Titans.

In the title of my talk I have used the words, "Modern Science". Unfortunately, these people have studied neither modern science nor have they studied the religion to which I refer.

Modern science, as we know it, is very different from last century s science which, unfortunately, is still being taught in our country. We have not changed the outlook of our people to that of modern science.

Let me also state that there are vast uncharted areas, particularly in the sciences of the mind. Science may have known what a brain is, but it has not known what is the mind. This distinction is essential. The brain is that Grey matter, but mind is what we have to know.

There are areas which today s science cannot touch. We call them extra-sensory perceptions. I, as a Parsi Zoroastrian, feel proud that limited as the sciences are, Dr Samuel Laing has said that modern science "is fast approaching" the Zoroastrian science.

I would try to bring before you two areas where science, and what it has developed, certainly helps us. The first helps in understanding problems of religion and problematic translations. Secondly, and more importantly, to foster and inculcate within modern Parsis faith, genuine love and pride for our glorious religion. Because, when we find things mentioned in our religion more than 8000 years ago, science as we know is coming up with them only within the last few years. Every Parsi should be proud to proclaim that his religion is Mazishtacha, Vahistacha, Sraestacha. We should not be afraid to say it, nor would I call them Parsis if they were to delete it. We, therefore, will deal today with these two aspects.

The first point is the age of the Prophet. The great Kharshedji Cama, in his monumental work, The Zarathostnama, has collected and collated one of the best documented ideas about the age of the Prophet. But I will not go into this, nor the philological reasons nor the Babylonian research of the Late Meherjibhai Kuka. The problem oftentimes arises from today s western savants, and some are not true savants because they don t have the honesty and integrity of the earlier savants. They stick to the view that Zarathustra lived only in 600 BC, an improbable date. The evidence we have from the Greek writer who lived in about 400 BC was that Zarathustra lived about 6000 years before the Trojan War, which would make it about 6400 BC.

So how do we fix Zarathustra s date? There have been various attempts. The Late Dr Haug has said Zarathustra cannot be placed anything later than 2000 BC and has made comparisons of the Gathaic language. My late teacher, Behramgor Anklesaria, also said it was about 4000 BC. How do we resolve this difficulty?

In 1959 I wrote a paper about it based upon the work of Dr Morris Yewing and Don Yewing of the Lemont Geological Observatory in Columbia by using what we, in atomic science, today call the method of Carbon 14 dating. I will not go into its details because we do not have the time but you can trust me that it is a scientific method.

By this method Morris and Don Yewing have shown us that the last Ice Age was about 11000 years from now, approximately, give or take about 500 years. Many are under the wrong impression, picked up from Christian friends, that the entire Creation was only 4000 years before Christ. Today we know that man, as homo sapien and toolmaker has been on earth for more than 1.7 to 2 million years. Within that time of 1.7 to 2 million years, 11000 years is about the same time that an hour is in an average human life span of 70 years! So 11000 years in old humanity s life span is what to us is one hour in our life span. But this is where the last flood was.

Morris and Don Yewing have revealed that before this Ice Age they found evidence of civilization and of human habitation. They also found evidence that the world, as a whole, enjoyed a temperate climate.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak, in his monumental work, The Orion or The Arctic Home of the Aryans, has shown that the Aryan Group lived in Airyana Vaejah which is the Arctic Zone.

We have, in the first paragard of the Vendidad (which is not, as some people think, a later off-shoot, an appendage of the Zoroastrian religion, but is a very important text of the religion itself), unmistakable saying that in the fair land of the Aryans, everything was fine, till it was blighted and they had ten months of winter and two months of summer.

In the Vendidad paragard 2 it is said that, in the reign of King Jamshed, the ice will come on the fair land of Airyana Vaejah from the bottom of the ocean to the height of the highest mountain. I am quoting an accurate translation but the translation does not tell us anything. People said that this was poetic license, an exaggeration. But today we know that what is stated in the Vendidad is a fact. Science today tells us and we have the evidence that snow did come which was more than two miles thick.

Why should the writers of religious text perpetuate something that is false? They have told us what they knew. In the Hom Yasht paras 4 and 5 it is said that in the reign of King Jamshed, there was neither heat nor cold, father and son lived like 15 year olds and plants were undying.

Today we know from modern science that these were not poetic licenses, which our philologists and translators have tended to deprecate. These people have just said things which existed. They are not exaggerations but facts, and today we know from science that the world had engendered the temperate climate.

But let me revert to the era of King Jamshed and our Prophet. We can fix the era of King Jamshed as 11000 years from now. We also have got, from the traditional texts, that Prophet Zarathustra was born about 2700 years after the reign of Jamshed. If the Ice Age came in the rein of Jamshed, and as I told you earlier, we have to give or take about 500 years on either side, the reign of King Jamshed , as we know was for 700 years, after which the ice came. If we take all this into account: it was 11000 years from now, subtract 2700 years and you come down to 8300 years. Today we are living in the 20th century so, take away 2000 years and you come to 6300 BC. That is the lowest date to which we can put the birth date of Zarathustra, but it is possibly earlier.

There is another evidence which has come to my hands very recently. One of the fundamental teachings in the Zoroastrian religion has been the importance given to agriculture. Yo yaom karayeiti, ho ashém karayeiti was the instruction given in the Vendidad.

When did agriculture come into human life? Today we have various evidences from Carbon 14 dating. Prof Louis Dupré of the University of Pennsylvania, from which I am a graduate, has reported in the August 1964 issue of The American Scientist that from all the evidence available, they find that agriculture (by which they mean corn which was sowed, purposefully cultivated and cut with implements) took place from Afghanistan to Greece and Macedonia in a period between 7000 BC to 6000 BC. They write that the Neolithic revolution, when man took to agriculture, was within a span of about 1000 years.

What is very significant and important is that they found the earliest digging in North Afghanistan, evidence that agriculture has spread from East to West.

This again gives us a great clue, as our Prophet has emphasized throughout his teachings, the importance of agriculture. Northern Afghanistan, Eastern Persia, Balkh, Bactria this is where we come to the region of our Prophet and, from this dating, also the earliest seat of agriculture.

This, in my mind, definitely fixes the age of our Prophet anywhere from 7300 BC to 6300 BC from the scientific evidence we have at hand. It fits in very well with the traditional Greek evidence, which has been known also from the Khshanoom. Of course, after such a long time interval, it is not possible to fix the date very precisely but we know that it is between 6300 BC and about 7000 BC.

Let us turn to several other religious problems like problematic translations which science can help us tackle. One of the very persistent things that has plagued philologists from the time Avesta study was taken up is the word ramno khastrahe. It has been merely translated by all writers as ramno khastrahe = the facility to enjoy good food. Even when correct translations cannot satisfy our need for philosophy and our thirst for religious knowledge, how can this satisfy the layman? I consider the word ramno khastrahe with another word vayoish uparokairyehe as quite important. To my mind ramno khastrahe is a link word, adjoining its link with Mithra. In every Khshnuman of Mithra, mithrahe vouru gaoyotoish, either we have ramno khastrahe or ramanascha khastrahe. Why this difference? We do not know and grammar does not help us. So, on one side, we have the link of ramno khastrahe with Mithra, on the other, if we take Ram Yazad, it becomes a problem of philology and translation.

In the Ram Yasht there is no mention of Ram Yazad; it is all about vayo (wind).

This is why it is important to inspect the khshnuman, as a literal translation sometimes misses its deeper meaning. The khshnuman of Ram Yazad is Vayoish uperokairyehe taradhato anyayish daman.

The khshnuman of wind, that is Govad, is vatahe hudhaongho adharahe uparahe fratarahe paschaitheye nairyam ham-varetoish: The good created wind, which moves hither and thither and thither and hither. It does not make sense.

If we go deeper into it however, we find a significant difference between vayo and vayoish uperokairyehe. Our forefathers, our Prophet were great souls with a great understanding and they have clearly differentiated and delineated between vayo and vayoish uperokairyehe.

In the Tir Yasht, for example, there is a beautiful, scientifically accurate and correct word picture of the process of rain-making. What drives the cloud is vayo, never vayoish uperokairyehe. Only vayo, which has been merely translated as the upper-acting winds have a vayo link with ramno khastrahe, and in turn, ramno khastrahe has a link with Meher - Mithra.

There is another important link we have not realised. Let us inspect the first khshnuman recited on the day a navar is ordained: Ahurahe Mazdao raevato kharenanghato ameshanam spentanam. Then we proceed, mithrahe vouru gaoyotoish ramanascha khastrahe. We have got the mithrahe and ramno khastrahe havare kshaetahe aurvatapahe then vayoish uperokairyehe taradhato anyayish daman. Coming back to this point of the vayoish uperokairyehe and its link with Mithra. Rajishtyao chistyao and to manthra spenta there, in the khshnuman, there is a clear distinction. Ahura Mazda and the Ahmeshashpand Mithra, hvarekshaite and the vayoish uperokairyehe. These three form another group. Then the rajishtyao chistyao and the Manthra Spenta they form another one. And then we go on to the ashaonam fravashinam .but this, we are digressing. Coming back to this point of the vayoish uperokairyehe and its link with Mithra. What is this? Can we establish this link?

But I rejoice to say that with the spectacular launches of satellites, it is now possible for me to explain what is vayoish uperokairyehe from the scientific viewpoint. We now know that there are solar winds, and that the sun does not give just light, as has often been expressed. Mithra : we have sometimes loosely translated as roshni (light). It is not the roshni which we can see, because today we know that what is coming out from the sun is immense.

Today science tells us that the reality which we can perceive with our five senses is extremely limited. The perspicaciousness of our senses is so limited that what we can perceive is an infinitesimally small part of the entire reality.

Let us, therefore, always be humble. The true reality exists, whether we can or cannot feel it with our senses and it is much vaster and greater than what we can perceive. Because what we can see with our eyes is an infinitesimally small part of the entire section of radiation.

The other aspects of the radiation is we get particulate matter which travels at the speed of the solar winds. We think a 60 kmph or even a 100 kmph is a huge devastating storm. Have you any idea what is the velocity of the solar wind? It goes past the earth at an incomprehensible 400 km per second!

This, to my mind, is vayoish uperokairyehe because the other description of Mithra is the rain-driving vayo we have talked about, going hither and thither. This is the atmospheric wind, confined to the atmosphere, the stratosphere, the troposphere and the ionosphere. The upper acting winds are beyond.

There is another paragraph in the Meher Yasht: Mithrem aivi dakhyum yazamaide, mithrem antare dakhyum yazamaide, mithrem a dakhyum yazamaide, mithrem upairi dakhyum yazamaide, mithrem adhairi dakhyum yazamaide for which there is no explanation either from philology or translations.

Translated it reads - andar no desh, uppar no desh, baju no desh, side no desh, vanko desh, tiko desh, badha desh ni vat chhe.

Dhallaji has translated it "Who is around this country, who is within this country, who is in this country, who is above this country, who is under this country, who is before this country, who is behind this country?" I do not think anybody can understand the meaning of it.

But now, when we correlate it with vayoish uperokairyehe we get at least some picture. I do not say that this is the correct explanation or that I have the final answer but it is probable that vayoish uperokairyehe is acting in these inter-planetary regions.

This brings me to the second part of my discourse wherein we can see the glory, the greatness and the excellence of our religion. We have said that vayoish uperokairyehe is the life-giving essence, essential for life on earth. What is it? Today we know about these proton beams.

In the Khorshed Niayesh para 11, Aat yat hvare-raokhshni tapayeiti, aat yat hvare-raocho tapayeiti, hishtenti mainyavaongho, yazata ongho, satemcha, hazangharemcha. Then comes a very important point. Tat khareno hambaryeinti, what comes out of the sun is being gathered, niparyeinti it is being mixed, bhakhshenti it is being brought down - for the benefit or for the furtherance of the good creation of the earth. This is the philologically correct translation.

What is it that is being brought down, collected and who is it that is collecting it? Again, philology and translations do not have the answers. People thought about it as poetic license, exaggerations or utter tripe. But we have gained the satisfaction of knowing, and I can say humbly that if three years ago I was to have stood here trying to explain this, I would have failed. I first gave this explanation in 1961 and later on in my other tapes on Zoroastrian Science.

The first thing the Russians and the Americans discovered after the launch of their space programs was that the earth is in a magnetic field. The shape of that magnetic field is the same as the mahruyi (two metallic stands with moon shaped or crescent shaped tops) used in the Yazashne ceremony. You might compare it with the horns of a bull, with the earth spinning and rotating within and these protons which is a hydrogen beam coming out from the sun being gathered by this magnetic field. How are these proton beams which come, gathered? By following the law of physics that we call the Flemming rules and the right-hand rules. These electrons are made to go round and round in a spiral motion, and brought down. Some of its manifestations are the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights. Through these proton beams the hydrogen shower from the sun is taken out. What is important about hydrogen is that it comes down through rain and forms ammonia in the clouds. Because of the discharge, whenever there is lightning within Atash Vajist, the proton and the nitrogen combine to give us ammonia. Ammonia is the fertilizer. It is the essential, life-giving element in the nitrogen cycle. In nature, what is consumed must be replenished.

Friends, what I have to tell you is this: That these are matters which are not the heritage of a barbaric tribe, not the outpourings of an uncouth mind, but this is the heritage of a most profound mind. Should we not, as Parsis, be proud of it?

I wish to make another point. I mentioned that in the Khorshed Niyayesh, when the sun rises, millions and millions of what we call Mino Yazads stand. We never had an understanding of what it was that was standing when the sun comes out, when it begins to shine and when it warms up. The American astronaut, John Glenn, in 1962 when he first orbited the earth, orbited three times in a day which means, he had , within that day, three mornings, three dawns. He reported that every time he came out from the shadow of the earth into light (dawn) he observed millions of luminous objects. I am quoting his words, "luminous objects" which nobody has been able to explain. In science we simply call it the Glenn Effect.

The Russians, who had orbited first, belatedly also came out with a similar observation. Because sometimes scientists feel that they better keep quiet about what they cannot explain. But when the Americans, with their usual habit of spilling everything out, reported it, the Russians admitted that they too had observed it.

What is it, we do not know. But what I am trying to bring out is the similarity and the parallel. Surely it is not somebody s figment of imagination. This is something of which our ancestors had known. And I will emphasise this point once again in another way to show you that ours is a heritage of culture.

Today many of us are crazy about the west. And accept everything coming from the west in toto, without questioning or subjecting it to rational analysis, even though we call ourselves rational beings. This is so particularly in the fields of science and technology, the Zoroastrian religion and the Hindu scriptures. We have been so obsessed by our western masters, the white skin, that we have not cared to realise that what was not comprehensible to them, the western thinkers believed was not worth comprehending. We, therefore, gave up our great heritage and understanding of our religion. But I say we have things better than Christianity. It was only 300 years ago that poor Galileo went to the gallows for contradicting the Bible, by saying that the earth was round and revolved around the sun. The so-called western science was ignorant about it till 300 years ago. Yet in the Gathas, which date back to some 8000 years, not at one place but at several places, the Prophet has said: ane keh je gol farti duniya chhe. We read the translation but never think about it. We should be thrilled that our forefathers had that knowledge and wisdom.

Today, when I say that in science we use the word, "research", we say right for we are searching again. In the Gathas, Yasna 44, the Prophet has asked, Tat thwa peresa eresh moi vaocha: This I ask, and answer me truly: who but Thee put these luminaries in the skies in their pre-determined paths? This is a literal, philologically correct translation. Mukarar kidhela maarg o ni andar ene kone mukiya? Yet we readily applaud Newton who "discovered" only 300 years ago that the planets were in six orbits, in pre-determined paths.

What prevents us is our ego, our reluctance to accept that our forefathers, in real knowledge, were far greater and far wiser than us.

Rituals are an important part of every religion. Our rituals are based upon one principle purity. Yaozdao mashyai aipi zathem vahishta. This is what we have been doing for thousands of years in the most important of our rituals, the Nirang-Din ceremony (ceremony for consecrating bull s urine). People have false impressions that bull s urine (gaomez) is dirty.

The fact that its origin comes from bull s urine, in no way makes it dirty. I say emphatically, if someone wants similar proof, we have various ones in science. Refer to the TIME magazine of 3rd October, 1964. It said that women were going crazy about a new fertility drug. It was reported that infertile women had been having triplets and quadruplets with one injection! The injections, they said, were rare and costly because it required three gallons of human urine to make one injection. So there is nothing that is dirty at the source. What is important is what we do with it afterwards. I am not going to touch the religious aspect, the manthras, the spiritual influences. I will talk about only the physical aspect. In the Vendidad pargarad 19 we have the sangrecha ceremony (throwing of stones so that all the uric acid is precipitated out). The reason why we use only bull's urine is because today we scientifically know that bull s urine has a maximum content of hipporic acid, which is an amino benzoic acid. If we get an odour of urine, it is because amino acid always stinks. But the hipporic acid undergoes a hydrolysis, and we have the amino acid and the benzoic acid which is a disinfectant.

There are many more things to it. Today we don t have the time. But I will go on to another point.

While modern science woke up to contagious diseases only within the last century, the Vendidad mentioned viruses and bacteria more than 8000 years ago. Our ancestors knew and had disinfections, sanitations and sterilizations. The Nirang Din ceremony provides the proof. The priests do not open the lid of the pot or pick it up with a dirty hand. They do not just wash their hands and wipe them on anything. My friends who have been to the US, say with a certain amount of pride, "In the US we do not wipe our hands after washing. There are hot air blasts with which to dry our hands." But this has been done and practiced in our religion for thousands of years. After the priest has washed his hands, he dries them in the fire (khoosk karvu).

There is something important about the fire also. It is not just mere combustion of carbon and oxygen. Today modern science tells us that there is something special about wood fire which is different from coal fire, gas fire or electric fire. Only in wood fire do we have microwave radiation, which has a certain beneficial action upon light. Recently it has been found that through this microwave radiation we can dry things quicker.

Hence, the most uncharitable view that we can take is that our ancestors did not know why but they certainly knew the cause and effect. I, for one, am willing to grant that they knew the why also.

Let me turn, in the last few minutes on religion and its link with psychology and modern psychiatry. Ours is the first and only religion which has emphasised the thought process. Today we talk of powers of positive thinking and psychosomatic medicine. But the Gathas have said long ago that through the good mind, the blissful mind, one attains bodily vigour. It is not for nothing that we are asked to recite certain prayers thrice. Why should we pray the Kemna Mazda every time after visiting the toilet? It is not an exercise in futility as many people think but an exercise in the profound powers of positive thinking. Today we talk of auto-suggestion. I will leave this thought with you. Think of some prayer like the Ashem Vohu as a matter of auto-suggestion. Psychologically, if a person knows he has to be inherently righteous, he can never be bad. Somebody who, every time he does the kushti, prays, "When evil comes to me, who but Thee, the omnipotent, the omnipresent, the omniscient God is my Protector?" can go on the path of the future with great ease.

Friends, if I have taken much of your time, it has been my aim to show that, in the present age of science and technology, modern science becomes an additional and very useful tool to study the Zoroastrian religion and the Avesta literature as it enables us to unravel some of the problems.

I am confident that, as science advances, it will prove to the hilt the correctness, the deep insight and the knowledge contained in every one of our religious tenets, doctrines and rituals. In this I share the faith of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great American, who after a lifetime of study said, "All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen".

While this is my Faith, I hope that I have been able to prove to you how modern science enables us to show in no small measure the deep and comprehensive knowledge contained in the Avesta. To show that our religion is truly the greatest, Mazishtacha, the best, Vahistacha, and the noblest, Shareshtaacha and to satisfy the most doubting amongst us that ours is not the heritage of a barbaric tribe, not the heritage of barbarism, but that ours is a priceless heritage of the most profound men of learning, a heritage of truth and righteousness, of moral and spiritual progress and proficiency, and of the best in human knowledge.

It is my earnest desire that what little I have been able to show you today will help you to develop a firm faith in the glories, the greatness and the excellence of our noble and sublime religion and help you to live as a true and staunch Mazdayasni Zarthosti.

Atha Jamiyat yatha afrinami

May it be so as I pray


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