söndag 7 mars 2010

The Problem with the Parsi Mythology

Dear Mickey

I know Parsi history better than the vast majority of Parsees themselves. It's not like it's a secret (it was actually German scholars who wrote Parsi history in the first place).
I have no problem at all agreeing with the mindset of German Nazis. Or any other bigoted mindset.
I just don't agree with them. And I don't accept or even tolerate their bigotry.
I can't see in what way I should defend Indian racism or caste mentality any more than I would tolerate German Nazism.
And I don't believe in the myth that the Indian caste system saved Zoroastrianism.
There are many other minority religions and philosophies that have survived in South Asia without accepting the caste system. One of them is called Islam and has 350 million followers on the subcontinent. Christianity has 20 million followers in India and has existed there for almost 2,000 years without ever accepting the caste system. Neither have Jainism which has existed in India for 2,500 years - without accepting any castes whatsoever.
Just because a myth has circulated for hundreds of years does not mean that it is true.
And there is a lot of garbage that needs to be thrown out of the Parsi self-mythology. Excuses for holding on to racism, bigotry, intolerance, isolationism and oppression against Parsees themselves.
If it hadnät been for British merchants bringing poor Parsees from Gujarat to Mumbai in the 19th century to trade with, God knows what would have happened to them. That was far more important then living as a pseudo-caste.


2010/3/7 mickey patel


Just one point here which will differ to your agreed viewpoint and to all others in the group

As you pointed out -

banal Indian caste-mentality racists - as you have used these words on a regular basis just jotting some points which come to my mind

If you look into the history of Parsis and Zoroastrianism in all these 1000 years
you will realise that Zoroastrianism survived in India to a great extent thanks to
a rigid Caste system

Practise of Isolation, marrying within the fold etc helped Parsis to survive their faith
in a foreign land despite occassional persecution and migrations from one part to another.

Had there not been such a cast mindset - Parsis would have got merged into
the Indian mainstream with no trace of their identity similar to China and other
places where once Zoroastrianism flourished

Also another important point which you might recollect is thanks to the contribution of
some Parsis - Iranian Zoroastrianism to an extent survived from extinction in late 19th century.

As you are coming from the Western world and western viewpoint can agree with your thinking of democracy, free for all tolerant mindset etc

But you also have to understand the mindset of the racists Parsis - in your terms from
where they are coming from.

Although I dont agree with all their actions - using violence etc - attempt to differentiate
the Zoroastrian community into Orthodox, Liberal, Racist, Non-racist Parsis etc
is not going to led to any firm conclusion nor going to benefit anybody.

Instead I think western like minded scholars like you should engage in conversations
with so call ed Racists parsis in your view point - and be aligned.

Its a very small community and you cant achieve much splitting into different groups
even if a particular section is Ultra-conservative


--- On Sun, 7/3/10, Alexander Bard wrote:

From: Alexander Bard
Subject: Re: [Ushta] Parsees storm Zoroastrian College to stop conversion of a Russian
To: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Date: Sunday, 7 March, 2010, 6:39 PM

Dear Dino

I agree 100%!!!
As far as I'm concerned, I treat Parsees with the same respect that I treat all human beings. And therefore I also expect them to behave as decently as all human beings should. They are after all grown-ups and not children and they are capable of deciding for themselves whether they want to be true tolerant Mazdayasni or just banal Indian caste-mentality racists.
Let's support our many Parsi Mazdayasni friends and hope their community strengthens and can grow as they struggle against bigotry and isolationism. Russia needs its mobeds too!


2010/3/7 Special Kain

Dear Alexander

No unfriendly tone intended!
Perhaps we should write a manual and distribute it at Parsi community centers in India? Yes, that's meant to be a joke, but we obviously have to remind them that Mazdayasna is all for democracy, pluralism, tolerance and the equality of all people. And it was Zarathushtra who wanted to free the people from ingrained ideas and hierarchies based on heritage and bloodlines. This is what we as Mazdayasni should pursue and continue.

My two cents,

--- Alexander Bard schrieb am So, 7.3.2010:

Von: Alexander Bard
Betreff: [Ushta] Parsees storm Zoroastrian College to stop conversion of a Russian
An: "Ushta"
CC: "mehrdad farahmand" , "Eduljee"
Datum: Sonntag, 7. März, 2010 11:34 Uhr

Dear Ardeshir and Dino

The two of you seem to agree with each other perfectly on this issue.
So why the unfriendly tone? It seems totally misplaced for the rest of us.
Let's be constructive: We all agree that this incident has greatly damaged the Parsi Community's credibility. But it also creates an opportunity for us to finally deal with the racism at the heart of the isolationism among Parsees. It is dated and totally unacceptable in a modern society.


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