tisdagen den 24:e augusti 2010

Conversion

Dear Friends

This is absolutely correct. A religion can not be trademarked.
No one can therefore stop for example me from considering me to be whatever religion I prefer.
What people CAN do is to stop me practicing WITH THEM. For example, it is entirely up to Parsees to prevent me and other Western converts to enter certain Parsi buildings etc. This is their prerogative which I of course totally respect. I will probably just return the favor by banning them from entering MY premises. Fair enough.
But whether I call myself a Mazdayasni or a Zoroastrian or a Mazdaist or whatever is entirely up to me.
And however scholars argue, it is a FACT that my conversion to Zoroastrianism (Mazdayasna) was recognized exactly as such by the entire Council of Mobeds in Tehran at the time.
It is not scholars but practicing followers that ultimately decide whether I am allowed to to belong to a certain creed or not. It is a PRACTICAL everyday and not at all a scholarly matter.
What scholars say is actually of no interest whatsoever. Not even the mobeds care about them, to be honest.

Ushta
Alexander

2010/8/24 maneck d

Dear Dr Pallan Ichaporia

Thanks for forwarding the relevant parts from Encyclopaedia Iranica that deal with my query to you on "Acceptance and Conversion".

All that these paras denote is certainly very well known to me and all others who have lived through these years in India and abroad.

But my question was and is to you that after due studies of the Religion and its Scriptures, that you profess to have done, what is your Scholarly Opinion, Personal Inference/Decision in these matters??

And you must have read the four articles that appeared in a magazine (HUMATA) some years ago authored jointly by Professor K D Irani and Vajifdar (UK) written after due research into the matter and with all due refernces to these same Scriptures, and which came to a very different inference.

No one owns A RELIGION, you me and all are just adherents, and so no one can stop anyone from practicing this or any other Religion. Do you agree that far?


With due regards to all

maneck d
NY

----- Original Message -----
From: Soleman2002@aol.com
To: zoroastrians@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Monday, August 23, 2010 4:28 PM
Subject: [zoroastrians] Conversion - an article from Encyclopedia Iraniac


Following is an article from Encycolpedia Iranica
ALL INQUIRIES SHOULD BE SENT TO ENCYCLOPEDIA IRANICA-Dr.Pallan Ichaporia,Mainz Universitat
CONVERSION. To the Zoroastrian faith in the modern period

CONVERSION

To the Zoroastrian faith in the modern period

Modern Zoroastrians disagree on whether it is permissible for outsiders to enter their religion. Now scattered in small minority communities in Persia, India, Europe, and North America and without a reli gious hierarchy, the Zoroastrians are governed by councils and high priests whose authority is only local. Even within a community an individual may choose not to accept the ruling of the council or high priest. Zoroastrian communities and individuals thus have differing views on conversion. They tend to cluster around two general tendencies, reformist and traditionalist, but even within these groups the variation is considerable. Reformist liberals generally urge accep tance of any individual who chooses of his or her own free will to practice Zoroastrianism. They distinguish between “acceptance,” which implies complete free will, and conversion and proselytism, which carry connotations of coercion or pressure. Nevertheless, there are those who believe in the missionary nature of Zoroastrianism and go so far as to encourage active proselytism. On the traditionalist side some moderates permit the acceptance of spouses and the offspring of mixed marriages, but the strict constructionists refuse to accept as coreligionists even Zoroastrians who marry outside the faith and consider children born of such unions illegitimate. This controversy has become exacerbated in this century, as the scattered Zoroas trian communities are shrinking and experiencing in creasing intermarriage. Opponents of conversion ar gue that, precisely because the community is so fragile, the acceptance of converts will dilute the ethnic strength of the religion and lead to its complete anni hilation. The issue is of practical importance, for it affects admission to fire temples (Boyce, 1984, p. 153) and “towers of silence,” as well as the legal privileges attached to membership in the community.

The Gathas (the part of the Avesta attributed to Zoroaster), as well as other Avestan and Pahlavi texts, are cited by both sides to justify their positions (see i, above). The passage quoted most often by those who favor accepting converts is Yasna 31.3 (yā jvantō vīspəˊng vāurayā “by which I might convert all the living”; Insler, p. 182), cited as proof of the universal character of Zoroaster’s message. Several other verses of the Gathas, especially Yasna 46.12, in which a non- Iranian family (the Turanian Fryāna; Taraporewala, p. 251 n.; Pūr-e Dāwūd, p. 104 n.) is named among the followers of Zoroaster, have furnished liberals with a textual basis for their argument against confinement of Zoroastrianism to a specific race or nationality (letter from Kankāš-e Mūbadān-e Tehran, published in Māh -nāma Markaz-e Zartoštīān-e Kālīfornīā [Monthly newsletter of the California Zoroastrian Center], Westminster, 1/5, Ḵordād 1362 Š./June 1983, p. 2). Moreover, liberals hold that the intrinsically nonritualistic doctrine of the Gathas degenerated into an Iranian ideology as a result of language and other barriers (Antia, pp. 7-9) and of such alterations as the incorporation of stringent purity rituals (Boyce, Zoro astrianism I, p. 295) entailed by the establishment of an organized religion.

Traditionalists, on the other hand, accuse proponents of conversion of heretical distortion of scripture and maintain that blood and faith are a linked heritage. They suggest that the term mazdāyasna (Mazda wor shiping) in scriptural sources—especially in the prayer Yasna 12, in which one declares “I am a Mazda worshiper” before declaring “I am a Zoroastrian”— refers to the religion into which Zoroaster and all his early followers were born (Irani, pp. 6-8). The mission of Zoroaster was thus to purify the mazdāyasna reli gion from alien doctrines, and there was no question, even at the beginning, of forcing or convincing people to abandon their ancestral religion or of accepting people not born into the mazdāyasna religion (Mirza et al., n.d., p. 7). Therefore only a child born of Zoroastrian parents is mazdāyasna by birth, and only such a child may be properly admitted into the Zoroastrian fold through receiving the traditional authorization to wear the outward symbols of the faith—the sacred undershirt (ṣodra) and the girdle (koštī)—at the Nowjat (lit., “new birth”) ceremony (Irani, p. 8).

The divergence in interpretation also extends to history. Traditionalists cite the general tolerance of other religious populations by the Achaemenid and Parthian dynasties as evidence that Zoroastrianism was intended to be the religion of a single ethnic group (Irani, pp. 29-31). Those liberals who hold that the individual must accept the religion of his or her own free will maintain that Zoroaster’s message could have provided no impetus to aggressive proselytizing. On the other hand, those favoring active proselytism cite such incidents as Xerxes’ destruction of the daivadānas (XPh, ll. 37-41; Kent, Old Persian, p. 151: “I de stroyed that sanctuary of the demons . . . . Where previously the demons were worshipped, there I worshipped Ahuramazda”) as evidence that Zoroastrian ism had been imposed by force and thus that the early Zoroastrian kings considered conversion of non-Zoro astrians both permissible and desirable (Antia, p. 30). Sasanian history provides ample evidence for use of both force and persuasion to win over non-Zoroastri ans, but traditionalists argue that such instances as the endeavors of the Sasanian high priest Kerdīr recorded in the inscription on Kaʿba-ye Zardošt (“And there were many who had held the religion of the dēvs, and by my act they abandoned the religion of the dēvs and accepted the religion of the yazads”; Boyce, 1984, p. 113; interview with a member of the California Zoroastrian Center, November 1990) and the forced recon version by Yazdegerd II (438-57) of Zoroastrian Ar menians who had converted to Christianity took place primarily for political reasons (Antia, p. 13; Mirza et al., n.d., p. 7).

After the Arab conquest of Persia in the 7th century and the establishment of Islam as the religion of the new rulers, some Zoroastrians emigrated to India (the Parsis). Whereas the Zoroastrians who remained in Persia were not permitted to proselytize under Muslim rule and the conversion of a Muslim could result in persecution of the entire community, liberals point out that the Zoroastrian literature from after the conquest does include discussions of the possibility that a non- Zoroastrian might seek admission to the faith (Rivayat -i Hemit, pp. 184-88). They also cite the response of the Persian priests to a Parsi inquiry about the conversion of Hindu servant boys and girls (Persian Rivayats, tr. Dhabhar, p. 276), arguing that conversion to Zoroastri anism was certainly considered possible, at least in theory, and that the guidelines stipulated in such medi eval sources reflect faithfully the Zoroastrian practice that prevailed in Sasanian times and thus conform to orthodox Zoroastrian beliefs.

Whereas the Persian Zoroastrian communities never explicitly opposed the acceptance of converts, since the 18th century Indian Parsi councils have generally refused to accept as Zoroastrians persons other than children of Parsi parents, though there have been sporadic rulings allowing acceptance of the children of mixed marriages. This rigor may be ascribed to the pressures of the caste structure in India, reinforced by the growing prosperity of the Parsi social-welfare system, a possible incentive for seeking admission to the Zoroastrian fold.

In Persia the majority of Zoroastrians lived in ex treme poverty and suffered intermittent persecution up to the beginning of the 20th century. The question of conversion to Zoroastrianism would scarcely have arisen there. After the intervention of the Parsis on behalf of their Persian coreligionists, as well as changes in attitudes after the Constitutional Revolution (q.v.), the condition of Persian Zoroastrians gradually im proved. Owing partly to the policies of Reżā Shah (1304-20 Š./1925-41), for example, the adoption of Zoroastrian names for months, in the 1930s there was an awakening of interest in pre-Islamic history and religion. The efforts of several Persians to win recognition of the nobility of the Zoroastrian faith through translations of the Avesta contributed to increased respect for the old religion among the educated (Boyce, 1986, pp. 219-20). Nevertheless, only a few Persian Muslims became Zoroastrians: The Muslim dictum against conversion is very strong. In addition, Persian Zoroastrians, though theoretically adhering to the prin ciple of acceptance, deemed it permissible only if it did not result in harm either to the Zoroastrian community or to the religion into which the individual was born (interview with Mrs. Susan Varjavand). Since the Islamic Revolution of 1357 Š./1978 the Persian Zoro astrian community has evidently become even more cautious about accepting converts.

The issue of conversion has been the cause of great disturbance within the new Zoroastrian communities in North America. Only a handful of non-Persians have been officially admitted to the fold. In the two instances in which information is available to the author, the converts were married to Zoroastrians. So far the religious councils in India refuse to acknowledge these initiates as true Zoroastrians (information provided by the California Zoroastrian Center; Mobad N. Hormuzdiar, who performed the controversial ini tiation of an American in New Rochelle, N.Y., on 5 March 1983; and Mrs. Susan Varjavand, a recent convert from Christianity).

Bibliography : K. Antia, The Argument for Acceptance, Chicago, 1985. M. Boyce, Textual Sources for the Study of Zoroastrianism, Manchester, 1984. Idem, Zoroastrians, repr. London, 1986. S. Insler, The Gathas of Zarathustra, Acta Iranica 8, Leiden, 1975. R. A. Irani, “Acceptance”—Never Ever!, Poona, 1985. H. K. Mirza, K. M. JamaspAsa, and F. M. Kotwal, Conversion in Zoroastrianism. A Myth Exploded, Bombay, 1983. Idem, Antia’s “Acceptance.” A Zoroastrian "Ahrmogih" (Heresy), n.p., n.d. [E.] Pūr(-e) Dāwūd, Gatha I, Bombay, 1952. Rivayat-i Hemit-i Ashawahistan—A Study in Zoroastrian Law, tr. N. Safa-Isfehani, ed. R. N. Frye, Harvard Iranian Series 2, Cambridge, Mass., 1980. I. J. S. Taraporewala, The Religion of Zarathushtra, Bombay, 1965.

(Pargol Saati)

onsdagen den 18:e augusti 2010

Mehr Afzoon (was: Philosophical vs Religious Zoroastrianism)

Peace is a concept provided by others. Presumably some kind of God. It is a negative reaction to wish peace rather than an active participation.
Love is an activity that indeed does not occur unless it is a product of something done. It is a concept only possible through one's own action. And only maintained through one's own actions.
The difference speaks volumes about the basic premises of the religions involved.
Mehr Afzoon
Alexander

2010/8/18 Parviz Varjavand

Dear Alex,

I also love Mehr Afzoon. Afzoon is almost a command, it is like cheering you to push harder and increase something rather than deal with it as a static given. Love can not be a static given, it is something that we need to push and push to broaden its dimensions and range. Some persons say "I have never fallen in love" or "how does one fall in love?". My answer is "By trying hard and every day trying harder until you set yourself on fire over it".

The Jews and the Arabs have been saying Sallam and Shallom (meaning Peace) to every one and each other for ages, but has this made them any more peaceful persons? If they would only try to love one another a very little bit at first and then increase the tempo of this very irrational act by a little bit every day, they might be surprised of what it may do for them in the long run. May the quality of your love never regress to a static standstill, may it always increase in quantity and quality, may it be Afzoon.

Mehr Afzoon,
Parviz Varjavand

--- On Tue, 8/17/10, Alexander Bard wrote:

From: Alexander Bard
Subject: [Ushta] Mehr Afzoon (was: Philosophical vs Religious Zoroastrianism)
To: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Date: Tuesday, August 17, 2010, 1:04 AM


Dear Parviz and Khvetu

"Mehr Afzoon" is the most beautiful greeting phrase I know.
Both phonetically and literally.
Like many Zoroastrian phrases it also encapsulates the ethos of Mazdayasna in one simple phrase.
The will to uphold Civilization and the desire to expand it, as a deep emotion, a genuine pathos pushing the ethos, from within.

Mehr Afzoon indeed
Alexander

tisdagen den 17:e augusti 2010

Ideology at work in society

Which is precisely why the good old closet Nietzschean Slavoj Zizek does NOT speak of philosophy (he would agree that philosophy never really dictated anything) but instead speaks of IDEOLOGY. And as any good Nietzschean he describes and exposes ideology, not proposes it. For example by looking for how Ideology glued Salinist Soviet Union together and then glued contemporary Europe or America together. This is how it works, this is why we do the things we do instead of doing what we say we should do. Et cetera. I frankly don't see the opposition between Zizek and Rorty on this matter, but then I also believe that the supposed opposition between Hegel and Nietzsche is nonsensical too. Our latest favorite Eva Illouz is also a social critic describing Ideology at work, especially how Psychologism has taken center stage in contemporary culture and thereby has become an incredibly strong ideological factor.
Mehr Afzoon
Alexander

2010/8/17 Special Kain

Frankly, I don't subscribe to the heavy use of post-this and post-that anyway. ;-)
So how does language "actually function", then? There's a variety of explanations and attempts at grasping the essence of language. Just pick the one that suits you best. It's like wearing a dress (and that's why Peirce was right about the similarity between philosophy and the world of fashion).
I'm not totally against Zizek's suspicions, but I don't share his paranoia. The fact that we don't live in a post-ideological society does not necessarily mean that philosophy was the one single and supreme adhesive gluing absolutely everything together. I don't see philosophy on top of it all. Modern societies are far more complex than that.


Ushta,
Dino

--- Alexander Bard schrieb am Mo, 16.8.2010:

Von: Alexander Bard
Betreff: [Ushta] Mazdayasna vs Zoroastrianism (Comparisons of The Mazdaist, Jafareyite and Parsi views)
An: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Datum: Montag, 16. August, 2010 11:22 Uhr


In that case, I'm a pragmatist who agrees with Zizek on this issue. Just as Nietzsche would. Or call me post-pragmatist if you like.

Or rather: This is where it would be wise for pragmatists to not ignore the wisdom of Hegel.
Otherwise they risk getting too naive about how language actually functions. Too autistic.
Ushta
Alexander

2010/8/16 Special Kain

Dear Alexander
"Livsåskådning" is "Lebenseinstellung" in German: one's attitude towards life that shapes our feelings, thoughts, words and actions.
It is exactly Richard Rorty who rejected the idea that philosophy was at the innermost core of our lives (please also see Martin Heidegger). And it is Slavoj Zizek who strongly rejected Rorty's stance for ignoring the ideology at work in an allegedly post-ideological society. So the two thinkers take a radically different stance.

Ushta,
Dino

--- Alexander Bard schrieb am Mo, 16.8.2010:

Von: Alexander Bard
Betreff: [Ushta] Mazdayasna vs Zoroastrianism (Comparisons of The Mazdaist, Jafareyite and Parsi views)
An: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Datum: Montag, 16. August, 2010 10:15 Uhr


Dear Friends

Swedish has a beautiful word "livsåskådning" (I believe there is a similar word in German, perhaps Dino can help us with that?) which perfectly illustrates what Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is to me. Unfortunately the word can not be translated to English (freely translated the word would mean somehting akin to "having and oracticing a view on the conditions of existence". The problem here is not our concept of what Mazdayasna is or should be but rather the Ebnlish language's lack of vocabulary to describe our ambition.

And I must disagree there can be a society without philosophy: As Slavoj Zizek has explained and proven: There is always an IDEOLOGY at work in any given society, a matrix of ideas that dominate (precisely through vocabulary), and what is an ideology if not a philosophy, but merely STRONGER by operating as subconscious rather than conscious. So we can live in a society without a conscious philosophy but then only even more controlled by subconscious philosophy or rather ideology. Supersitition is the most perfect example of such subconscious philosophy. What we are doing by giving a vocabulary to philosophy (which is what Rorty would mean is the art of philosophy) is actually to DISTANCE ourselves from ideas that control us uncritically.

Ushta
Alexander

2010/8/13 Parviz Varjavand

Dear Jehan and Dino,

Spirituality connotes the existence of a spirit often perceived as separate from the body, something i do not believe in. Religion on the other hand was a bonding between men, but Agustin turned it into a bonding of men and God. I believe in Religion (Relegare) in its original implication, I share a religion between you, Dino, Alex, Arthur, and many others because we have come to like one another and some kind of a "bond" has been created between us. That "bond" I call Religion.

We are very lucky because our Zoroastrian religion does not have a chain of authority that must be obeyed, so I feel very at ease sailing my ship under that flag.

Parviz

måndagen den 16:e augusti 2010

Zizek vs Rorty? The limits of pragmatism?

In that case, I'm a pragmatist who agrees with Zizek on this issue. Just as Nietzsche would. Or call me post-pragmatist if you like.
Or rather: This is where it would be wise for pragmatists to not ignore the wisdom of Hegel.
Otherwise they risk getting too naive about how language actually functions. Too autistic.
Ushta
Alexander

2010/8/16 Special Kain


Dear Alexander
"Livsåskådning" is "Lebenseinstellung" in German: one's attitude towards life that shapes our feelings, thoughts, words and actions.
It is exactly Richard Rorty who rejected the idea that philosophy was at the innermost core of our lives (please also see Martin Heidegger). And it is Slavoj Zizek who strongly rejected Rorty's stance for ignoring the ideology at work in an allegedly post-ideological society. So the two thinkers take a radically different stance.

Ushta,
Dino

--- Alexander Bard schrieb am Mo, 16.8.2010:

Von: Alexander Bard
Betreff: [Ushta] Mazdayasna vs Zoroastrianism (Comparisons of The Mazdaist, Jafareyite and Parsi views)
An: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Datum: Montag, 16. August, 2010 10:15 Uhr


Dear Friends

Swedish has a beautiful word "livsåskådning" (I believe there is a similar word in German, perhaps Dino can help us with that?) which perfectly illustrates what Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is to me. Unfortunately the word can not be translated to English (freely translated the word would mean somehting akin to "having and oracticing a view on the conditions of existence". The problem here is not our concept of what Mazdayasna is or should be but rather the Ebnlish language's lack of vocabulary to describe our ambition.

And I must disagree there can be a society without philosophy: As Slavoj Zizek has explained and proven: There is always an IDEOLOGY at work in any given society, a matrix of ideas that dominate (precisely through vocabulary), and what is an ideology if not a philosophy, but merely STRONGER by operating as subconscious rather than conscious. So we can live in a society without a conscious philosophy but then only even more controlled by subconscious philosophy or rather ideology. Supersitition is the most perfect example of such subconscious philosophy. What we are doing by giving a vocabulary to philosophy (which is what Rorty would mean is the art of philosophy) is actually to DISTANCE ourselves from ideas that control us uncritically.

Ushta
Alexander

Mazdayasna vs Zoroastrianism (Comparisons of The Mazdaist, Jafareyite and Parsi views)

Dear Friends

Swedish has a beautiful word "livsåskådning" (I believe there is a similar word in German, perhaps Dino can help us with that?) which perfectly illustrates what Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is to me. Unfortunately the word can not be translated to English (freely translated the word would mean somehting akin to "having and oracticing a view on the conditions of existence". The problem here is not our concept of what Mazdayasna is or should be but rather the Ebnlish language's lack of vocabulary to describe our ambition.

And I must disagree there can be a society without philosophy: As Slavoj Zizek has explained and proven: There is always an IDEOLOGY at work in any given society, a matrix of ideas that dominate (precisely through vocabulary), and what is an ideology if not a philosophy, but merely STRONGER by operating as subconscious rather than conscious. So we can live in a society without a conscious philosophy but then only even more controlled by subconscious philosophy or rather ideology. Supersitition is the most perfect example of such subconscious philosophy. What we are doing by giving a vocabulary to philosophy (which is what Rorty would mean is the art of philosophy) is actually to DISTANCE ourselves from ideas that control us uncritically.

Ushta
Alexander

2010/8/13 Parviz Varjavand

Dear Jehan and Dino,

Spirituality connotes the existence of a spirit often perceived as separate from the body, something i do not believe in. Religion on the other hand was a bonding between men, but Agustin turned it into a bonding of men and God. I believe in Religion (Relegare) in its original implication, I share a religion between you, Dino, Alex, Arthur, and many others because we have come to like one another and some kind of a "bond" has been created between us. That "bond" I call Religion.

We are very lucky because our Zoroastrian religion does not have a chain of authority that must be obeyed, so I feel very at ease sailing my ship under that flag.

Parviz

--- On Fri, 8/13/10, Special Kain wrote:

From: Special Kain
Subject: Re: AW: [Ushta] Re: Mazdayasna vs Zoroastrianism (Comparions of The Mazdaist, Jafareyite and Parsi views)
To: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Date: Friday, August 13, 2010, 1:35 PM


Dear Jehan

Spiritualism is neither superior nor inferior to any other metaphysical concept, such as materialism, idealism, whatever-ism. It's simply another vocabulary that may or may not serve a specific purpose under certain circumstances.

Ushta,
Dino

--- Jehan Bagli schrieb am Fr, 13.8.2010:

Von: Jehan Bagli
Betreff: Re: AW: [Ushta] Re: Mazdayasna vs Zoroastrianism (Comparions of The Mazdaist, Jafareyite and Parsi views)
An: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Datum: Freitag, 13. August, 2010 20:36 Uhr


Ushta Perviz and Dino:


I know that you are both among those Zoroastrians who translate Mazda-Yasna as Philo-Sophia. I am agreeable to that. However I see the need of Parviz to address Mazda-Yasna as something other than Philosophy. Personally I feel that religions by definition are divisive. They tend to attempt to confine the Infinite Reality -God/Mazda whatever it is - into a finite forms and set out limits to it. I think Spiritualism is a much broader concept that would cover an aspect that may be acceptable to masses as Mazda-Yasna Spiritualism or Zarathushtrian Spirituality.

I think people need a crutch to be spiritual following a way of life. Through worship of Mind or Wisdom people can find a path to spirituality.

My two cents

Jehan




On 13-Aug-10, at 1:36 PM, Parviz Varjavand wrote:


Ushta Dino,

There are no buildings housing Spinoza Philosophy but there are so many fire temples dedicated to Zoroastrianism and dating back to ancient times. This is a very precious thing and I do not feel like I would gain anything by throwing it away. There is such an animal as ZoroastrianISM while there is no such animal as SpinozaISM. A philosophy with some structure to it becomes a religion as far as I am concerned. Even the most structured religions can not control subgroups in their religion which do not go with the flow of the sheepish general congregation. So I feel we have a place within the general religion called Zoroastrianism, but I define myself as being amongst those Zoroastrians that translate Mazda-Yasna as Philo-Sophia, and that is that, end of my story.

Ushta,
Parviz
Parviz

--- On Fri, 8/13/10, Special Kain wrote:

From: Special Kain
Subject: AW: [Ushta] Re: Mazdayasna vs Zoroastrianism (Comparions of The Mazdaist, Jafareyite and Parsi views)
To: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Date: Friday, August 13, 2010, 3:47 AM


Dear friends

I still don't agree with Parviz that Zoroastrianism should be defined as a religion, that is in Christian-Roman terms. For example, I'm far from being religious. There's no reason to go to church other than marvel at the beauty of architecture. I became interested in Zoroastrianism as a philosopher (or, at least, as someone who takes a strong interest in philosophy). To me Zoroastrianism is Mazda-Yasna is Philo-Sophia. You can have Zoroastrian philosophy without buying the whole package.
By the way, the world wouldn't crumble if there was a lack of philosophical convictions tying and gluing all "societal bits" together. Society works perfectly fine without philosophy. Please refer to Martin Heidegger, Jürgen Habermas and Richard Rorty.

Ushta,
Dino

måndagen den 9:e augusti 2010

Mazdaism and Zoroastrianism

Well I disagree here on this particular detail.
To say "What would Zarathushtra the fallible human being think about this?" is not the same as asking "What would Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior of mankind think about this?".
Rather it is a good exercise for people to get away from the actual words of Zarathushtra in The Gathas as literal interpretations and instead think of what it means to be a true Mazdayasni ourselves. To think mind instead of words. Try it!
Ushta
Alexander

2010/8/9 Parviz Varjavand

Dear Alex,

I agree with you, but I do not want to go around asking "if Zarathustra was here, what would he do?". This fixation on a cult icon is like those who go around asking "if Jesus was here, what would he do?". Zarathustra is a friend and companion of me in Mazdayasna and not my infallible Prophet. I know you know all this as you have expressed it yourself many times, but we must repeat it over and over again till all that are part of our Barsam (Religare) get it by hard. This will save us from many stary-eyed Zartoshties who arrive amongst us every other day and want to keep correcting us by saying "but Zartosht says this in Gatha and not that". Freedom from even Zarathustra and his Gatha must be achieved for free bright thoughts to flourish amongst our Barsam of friends. We should not allow ourselves to fall in the same trap that the three sister abrahamic religions are trapped in.

Mehr Afzoon,
Parviz Varjavand

Mazdaism and Zoroastrianism

Well I disagree here on this particular detail.
To say "What would Zarathushtra the fallible human being think about this?" is not the same as asking "What would Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior of mankind think about this?".
Rather it is a good exercise for people to get away from the actual words of Zarathushtra in The Gathas as literal interpretations and instead think of what it means to be a true Mazdayasni ourselves. To think mind instead of words. Try it!
Ushta
Alexander

2010/8/9 Parviz Varjavand

Dear Alex,

I agree with you, but I do not want to go around asking "if Zarathustra was here, what would he do?". This fixation on a cult icon is like those who go around asking "if Jesus was here, what would he do?". Zarathustra is a friend and companion of me in Mazdayasna and not my infallible Prophet. I know you know all this as you have expressed it yourself many times, but we must repeat it over and over again till all that are part of our Barsam (Religare) get it by hard. This will save us from many stary-eyed Zartoshties who arrive amongst us every other day and want to keep correcting us by saying "but Zartosht says this in Gatha and not that". Freedom from even Zarathustra and his Gatha must be achieved for free bright thoughts to flourish amongst our Barsam of friends. We should not allow ourselves to fall in the same trap that the three sister abrahamic religions are trapped in.

Mehr Afzoon,
Parviz Varjavand

fredagen den 6:e augusti 2010

Mazdayasna vs Zoroastrianism (Comparions of The Mazdaist, Jafareyite and Parsi views)

Dear Parviz

Very interesting discussion, as always between you and dear brother Ali Jafarey!
I agree with you but would just like to add that Zarathushtra never claimed to proclaim a new religion. He proclaimed a new teaching, a new philosophy, and in that sense I believe he was as correct as one possibly could be. Which is also why I insist on calling "Mazdayasna" an Iranian philosophy and not an Iranian religion. The religion to me is "Zoroastrianism", the practiced melange of ideas that followed after Zarathushtra and which was a mish-mash of his ideas, ideas older than him, and ideas introduced after his death, such as the Abrahamic idea of "Zoroastrianism" as a "monotheism".
I don't mind religion. I just don't think that was what Zarathushtra set out to create. He was interested in facts far more than faith.

Ushta
Alexander

2010/8/6 Parviz Varjavand

Dear Ostad Jafarey,

I am glad to see that you review your old posts and publish them again. The article you posted below has not changed in any significant way since its first draft of 1996. Let me go over what I feel the core of your message wants to express:

First about the Mazdayasna Myth, it is the repeat of an old attack upon the Parsis trying to show that they are mistaken when they say that Mazdayasna is older than Zarathustra and a repeat of your claim that M.Y. is an invention of Zarathustra. My reaction is that I do not care who invented MY first, the fact that both you and the Parsis equate Mazda-Yasna with "God-Worship" is what I have a problem with. Just your title says it all when put next to one another and talk about Mazdayasna, Daeva-yasna, and Yazata-yasna; this is a repeat formula of God-worship, Devil-worship, and Gods-worship. This whole categorization is Abrahamic and out-dated (and wrong) as far as I am concerned. Yes dear Ostad, I have read your works carefully and I know that you will object that I am misrepresenting your views, but believe me that I am not. Your Mazda-worship boils down to the same basic formula as Yahveh-Worship philosophically.

I feel that Mazda-Yasna translates into Philo-Sophia and not God-Worship. When entrapped in the God-Worship images (God-Gods-Devil), the God of Abraham will come forward and dominate the philosophical imagery's. I wish you would re-examine your outlook on this topic and go for the deeper contrasts that our religion has with others. I wish you good health and much happiness and it is a great pleasure each time I see you on the Iranian televisions.

An admirer of you always,
Parviz Varjavand
P.S. I hope that you do not mind me posting a copy of this Email to Ushta.

--- On Tue, 7/27/10, Jafarey@aol.com wrote:

From: Jafarey@aol.com
Subject: [zoroastrians] MAZDAYASNA MYTH, DAEVA-YASNA AND YAZATA-YASNA
To: zoroastrians@yahoogroups.com, creatingawareness@yahoogroups.com, xsatra@yahoogroups.com, Ahura-Mazda@yahoogroups.com, zoroastrianacceptance2@yahoogroups.com
Date: Tuesday, July 27, 2010, 11:50 AM


MAZDAYASNA MYTH, DAEVA-YASNA AND YAZATA-YASNA

Ali A. Jafarey



Advocates of a traditional school of Zoroastrianism say that the “Mazdayasna” religion existed from the very beginning of the “Aryan” era and that King Jamshid was the first prophet. Some go further and say that Kayomars, the first human being, is the foremost Aryan prophet. These traditionalists maintain that Zarathushtra came only to “reform” the religion of its “deviations” that had crept in during the past several thousands of years. Therefore, the question of “converting” people to a new religion did not arise. Zarathushtra simply guided the “Aryans” back to the straight path. What else a reformer could, would and should do?



The Mazdayasna religion is a “birthright” of every Aryan, now solely represented by approximately 60,000 persons, known as “Parsis” of the Indian sub-continent. One has to be a born-Zoroastrian by both parents. Both conversion and mixed marriages are taboos. Some of these "Traditionalists" add some 40,000 Iranian Zoroastrians and bring up the number to approximately 100,000. Others do not know how to place the official census report by the Iranian Government that Zoroastrians in Iran numbered 91,000 in 1987. Whatever the total, demographic studies of the Parsis of the Indian sub-continent show that the numbers of "born" Zoroastrian are alarmingly declining fast.



The Traditionalist school, however, says that the decrease will continue until the “miraculous” Shah Bahram Varjavand, the much-awaited Savior, will appear, and mankind will be, this time without any race, color, or creed discrimination, “converted” to the Mazdayasna religion, the “mother” of all religions. So far so good!



Scholastic research based on linguistics, history, geography, and Indo-Iranian literature shows that the Indo-Iranians who called themselves “Aryans” had two terms for gods -- AHURA/asura and DAEVA/deva (the first represents the Iranian pronunciation and the second the Indian version). Ahura, meaning “The Being, The Essence,” was applied more to invisible gods—Varuna, Mithra, and Airyaman (gods of truth, tribal contract and family bonds). Daeva, meaning “the shining,” was reserved more for the visible ones—Indra (storm), Sun, Moon, Wind, and others. The two terms, nevertheless, were used for all and any of the gods and goddesses.



The names of many gods and goddesses are known and their functions are, more or less, defined in the early Indo-Iranian literature, the Rig-Veda and the Avestan Yashts. No god or goddess is recorded, remembered, and venerated as MAZDÂ/medhâ, a word in feminine gender. Medhâ is a minor goddess in a much later Sanskrit literature.



MAZDA is a term, every evidence points out, CHOSEN by Zarathushtra ALONE to define the god he had realized as the “Supreme Wisdom.” This is what the abstract word means both in Avesta and Sanskrit. In his concise Gathas of 241 stanzas, Zarathushtra uses this word 164 times, MAZDA AHURA for 50 times, and AHURA MAZDA only for eight times. AHURA is used alone for 131 times. The Gathas do not have a fixed compound term of Ahura Mazda.



While choosing Mazda as the only Ahura, Zarathushtra declares: “Along with these (co-religionists) I am the foremost to clearly recognize You. All others I consider mental hostilities.” (Song 9: 11 = Yasna 44:11) This is confirmed by Fravarti, the Declaration of the Choice of Religion (Yasna 12). It states: “1 renounce the wicked, no-good, unrighteous, evil genius gods. I renounce the very false, very rotten, very wicked false gods and their devotees. I renounce sorcerers and their devotees. I renounce each and every mental malady and physical ailment. I renounce these falsities and malignities in thoughts, words, and deeds, in my very essence. … This is how Zarathushtra renounced the false gods … I, too, a worshipper of the Wise One and a Zoroastrian, renounce the false gods, just as the Righteous Zarathushtra did.”



The term Ahura Mazda used as a regular compound word for the Supreme Being is a post-Gathic usage. All the pre-Gathic parts of the Avesta that use the compound term are but the *revised* form of an ancient order. The post-Gathic authorities who wanted to incorporate the pre-Gathic parts back into the sacred lore, retained Ahura but substituted the name of god, perhaps the chief god Varuna (the Avestan version may be guessed to be "Vaoruna") by Mazda. This substitution is so thorough that there is no trace of the original name. This is the *only* reason one finds the popularized term of “Ahura Mazda” in the pre-Gathic Yashts and certain parts of the Vendidad, all of them revised to suit the time, trade and taste of the people involved, first the priests and then the laity.



This is no phenomenon. Sacred scriptures of other religions show the same practice. Later names of God, Lord, Allah, Bhagwan are used in place of older terms when tales and quotations of ancient times are retold or paraphrased. This article, however, is not the place to go into any detail.



The question one faces now is: How could one have a MAZDAYASNA religion before the word MAZDA was ‘introduced’ and put to use for the Supreme Being? Both “Mazdayasna” and “Daeva-yasna” are absent in the Gathas. They are clearly post-Gathic. They were coined by early Zarathushtrians to distinguish themselves as the “worshippers of Mazda”, the only god originally realized by Zarathushtra, and as separate from those who had other ahuras or daevas as their deities, very likely the pseudo-Zarathushtri ans who had joined in movement and yet wanted to retain their old beliefs and rituals.



There is not a single allusion to the founding of the Mazdayasna religion by any other person than Zarathushtra in any Zoroastrian scripture. Even Kayomars (Avestan “Gaya-maretan”) “who first heard Ahura Mazda’s thoughts and teachings” is simply shown as the person “from whom the kindred and breed of Aryan lands were fashioned” (Farvardin Yasht 87). Far from being the first human being as some of the Sassanian legends say, he is not even the first Aryan in the Avesta. Did he have any message? What were his teachings and what was his “message” like? There is no trace of it. No oral composition, which could have been rendered into writing the way other parts of the Avestan collection have been done. He is not related at all to the Mazdayasna religion in the Avesta.



As far as Jamshid (Avestan “Yima Khshaeta”), the second person claimed to have been a "prophet," is concerned, he, a legendary person, symbolizes a period of approximately 2000 years of history in which the Indo-Iranian people, a pastoral group, survived an ice spell by taking cover in habitable caves and then overpopulation made them migrate in stages towards south to settle on the north-eastern parts of the Iranian Plateau, now mostly in Afghanistan and Central Asian republics. Whoever this legendary man was, he is reported to have become arrogant at the end of his leadership so much so that he boasted to be the “Lord of the World” (Gâush Baga). His pride had him mercilessly thrown and murdered by another legendary personality “Azhi Dahaka” (Zahhak or Zohak).



The Zamyad Yasht speaks of the Kayanian Glory forsaking Jamshid because of his “lie” (Zamyad Yasht 34-38). Note that the Kayanians had yet to be born long long after Jamshid, but chronology is mixed up again by the revisionist authorities in post-Gathic times. The Avesta speaks of Jamshid in a few other instances but does NOT mention him as a “prophet” or even as a “server” of the Mazdayasna or any other religion. He is simply “the handsome [and] of the good flocks”, a good leader of pastoral people. And that is what he represented before going arrogant.



The Vendidad (Fargard 2) and the Hom Yasht (Yasna 9.4) praise him for his good leadership, and do not allude to his arrogance and fall. The Vendidad also says that Jamshid was the “first” person to whom Ahura Mazda spoke and “showed him the Ahurian-Zarathushtr ian (sic!) religion ... and asked him to be my retainer and promoter of the Ahurian-Zarathushtr ian religion.” Jamshid declined the divine offer. He said: “I have not been made and brought up to be your retainer and promoter of the Ahurian-Zarathushtr ian religion.” Whether God was taken aback or not by the unexpected straight answer by Jamshid, He was quick enough to realize His ignorance and make him another offer. “If you do not accept ... [this], then promote my world.” Jamshid obliged and accepted the second offer (Vendidad 2.1-5). Imagine a god who did not know that Jamshid was not made and trained for the task, a god entreating and Jamshid retreating!



How can this person be the founder or leader of a religion and that too with the name of “Zarathushtrian” attached to it? Chronologically the order should be in reverse. One should expect the religion to be called "Kayumarsian" and/or “Jamshidian” and not Zarathushtrian!



Contrary to what the Vendidad says that Ahura Mazda informed Zarathushtra that Yima was the first to be offered to promote the religion, all that Zarathushtra says in his Sublime songs about Jamshid is: “Regarding these offenses, it is said that in order to please our human race, Yima son of Vivanghan also sounded himself the god of the world. For such offenses too, as far as I am concerned, the final judgment lies with You” (Song 5.8 = Yasna 32.8) [While the late Dr. Taraporewala and Prof. Insler have “sin” and “sinner” instead of “offenses,” Prof. Humbach has “crimes”.] Zarathushtra associates Jamshid with false gods in the Gathas. In fact Song 5 (Yasna 32) expressly exposes false gods and their devotees, and Jamshid is one of them. Ferdowsi faithfully echoes the Gathic words in his Shahnameh and says that Jamshid told his people: “You should recognize me as the Creator of the World.” He calls Jamshid “nâ-pâk dîn -- of foul faith.” Outside the Vendidad and a few pre-Zarathushtrian martial yashts, as already seen, Yima/Jamshid is a person punished for his arrogance and offense.



Contrary to the way the founders, prophets and reformers of most of other religions have done, Zarathushtra does NOT acknowledge ANY person as the forerunning “prophet” or “founder” of the religion he proclaimed, propagated, and preached. He does not mention Kayomars (Gaya Maretan) and calls Jamshid (Yima) as an offender. Is this the way a "succeeding reformer" would act -- ignore or deprecate his predecessors, so to say the real founders?!



In fact, Song 2 (Yasna 29) is quite clear on this point. The Song, a play on the choice of Zarathushtra by the Living World as the Lord and Leader who would repel aggression and rehabilitate it “with civilization, nourishment and strength.” Asha, the Universal Law of Precision, could not find the proper person. None was free of malice. And the Living World had its plea. Then Mazda turned to Vohu Manah, Good Mind: It had the answer: “Yes I do. There is only ONE person who has listened to our teachings. He is Zarathushtra Spitama. Wise One, he is prepared to proclaim the message through his Songs for the sake of Righteousness. Grant him sweetness of speech. (Gathas: Song 2-stanza 8). This leaves no doubt that no person whatsoever had listened to the Divine Voice before Zarathushtra. It is this very point, which is confirmed by the Farvardin Yasht.



The Farvardin Yasht shatters the myth that Mazdayasna religion preceded Zarathushtra. It is quite explicit on this point that Zarathushtra is the “first and foremost” in every walk of life, in every phase of the Good Religion. He is, in fact, the “expounder of the religion which is the best of the existing ones ... the Good Religion which will henceforth [after Zarathushtra’s proclamation] prevail all over the seven climes” (Farvardin Yasht 87-94, 152).



“ Daênâ Vanguhi, the Good Religion,” later also called by the name of the “Mazdayasna” religion was founded and promoted by Zarathushtra. He, his companions, and their generating followers spread the religion by preaching, teaching, and helping people of all the known races -- Aryans, Turanians, Dahas, Sainis, Sairimas and others -- to choose the universal Good Religion of “Mazda-worship,” and they knowingly and willingly did so.



Early Zarathushtrians gave those who were before Zarathushtra and believed in multiple ahuras and daevas, the name of “daeva-yasna”. They called themselves “Mazdayasna” only to show that they believed in Mazda alone, the Essence realized and recognized first by Zarathushtra. If it were ahura versus daeva, they would have called themselves “Ahura-yasna”. Had they believed in Ahura Mazda as the head of a pantheon of “ahuras” later called “yazatas,” they would have called themselves as “Yazata-yasna.” They did not because the Gathas and the supplements do not mention and recognize any “yazata,” a deity other than and/or associated with Mazda.



The word "yazata," meaning “venerated, venerable,” is mentioned only once in the Haptanghaiti, a supplement of the Gathas composed by Zarathushtra' s companion/s. It says: "Humâim thwâ izhim, yazatem ashanghâchim dedemaidê -- You we consider superwise, zealous, venerable, [and] an associate of asha." (Song 7:3 = Yasna 41:3) The term "yazata" is one of the four attributes, in fact the third attribute, of Mazda. A simple, adjective. Nothing startling to speculate about "yazata," the common term *formalized* in post-Gathic eras to apply to certain reinstated deities and personalized Gathic Principles to reconstruct a pantheon!



The term“Yazata,” especially applied to a list of deities, reminds one of the Rig Vedic “yajata.” The term is used as an *adjective,* and NOT as a class for Indo-Iranian gods -, Varuna, Mitra, Indra, Agni (Fire god), Sarasvati (river goddess compared to the Avesta river goddess Aredvi Sura), the Maruts (storm gods), the Ashvins (twin gods of health and wealth), and Soma (Avesta Haoma). We see that in the later Avesta a number of pre-Zarathushtrian gods and goddesses are re-introduced as “yazata,” a word no more used as an adjective but meaning a “deity.” Mithra (pastoral contract deity), Aredvi, (river deity), Verethraghna (war deity, in Rig Veda, it is Indra’s epithet), Tishtrya (rain deity), Âtar (fire deity), Apam-napât (“grandchild of waters,” lightening (?), a Vedic deity), the-instant- intoxicant Haoma, and, of course, certain Gathic abstract names of the Primal Principles of Life of which six have, in addition to the term “yazata,” a new term – "amesha spenta – immortal progressives. " The others are simply “yazatas.”



In this new pantheon of clear *henotheism* of "yazatas," the Godhead Ahura Mazda is “the greatest and the best yazata”, Fire "the greatest yazata," Mithra “the mightiest, strongest, most mobile, fastest, [and] most victorious yazata,” Verethraghna (Bahram) the best armed yazata, and Vayu (wind deity) “the best yazata” among the host of yazatas. The Rig-Veda uses “vishva-deva” and the Later Avesta speaks of “vispa-yazata” to venerate “all the deities.” The correspondence between “yajata/yazata" is striking. The Indo-Iranian term provided an easy solution to restore the deities, completely ignored by Zarathushtra, back to high positions in the post-Gathic henotheism as against the unique and so-far unparalleled Gathic monotheism.



One wonders that when the Later Avestan people called the followers of the old pantheon “daeva-yasna,” why they did not apply the term “yazata-yasna” for themselves, particularly with their repeated “yazamaidê” for every and all the yazatas. This name would have suited them the best! Whatever the reason for not calling themselves “yazata-yasna,” they seem to have been content with the earlier “Mazdayasna” plus “Zarathushtri, vi-daeva (anti-daeva) , and Ahura-tkaesha ([of] Ahura-doctrine) .” Perhaps "yazata-yasna" would have exposed their true identity as henotheists. It would still do if the Traditionalist henotheists come out clean to call themselves by the name that would suit them the best.



Whether the pre-Zarathushtrians were all “daeva-yasna,” or the post-Zarathushtrian s should have called themselves “yazata-yasna,” the fact remains that MAZDA, the name given to the “Super-intellect Essence” Creator, Sustainer and Promoter of the Cosmos, was first CHOSEN and used by Zarathushtra Spitama and that only those who recognize MAZDA as the ONLY God are THE TRUE Mazdayasna with no myth attached to it.



Mazdayasnô ahmî, Mazdayasnô Zarathushtrish. I am a Mazda-worshipper, a Mazda-worshipper Zarathushtrian.

onsdagen den 4:e augusti 2010

How words shape our perception of the world

Excellent text!!!
Which brings us to why it is a cultural advantage to speak at least two different languages. OR, as with Zoroastrianism to read several different translations to several different languages.
It makes one more tolerant, more fluid, more understanding of that which is odd and different at first sight.
A second language is a second soul, indeed.
Ushta
Alexander

2010/8/4 Special Kain

This is an interesting article on something that some of us have already known for many, many years. At least, the ones who have studied sociology, queer studies and discourse analysis.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703467304575383131592767868.html?mod=wsj_share_facebook

Ushta,
Dino