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Iranian Zoroastrianism[i]


















Why has our voice been neglected? Some observations on the culture of the Motherland. I would like to dedicate this paper to the memory of my beloved parents both of whom passed away last year and who were respected as pious, knowledgeable and traditional Zartoshties. All their values were passed on to me by their upbringing and example, within the framework of a traditional Zoroastrian household heavily steeped in authentic Iranian Yazdi custom. Those values and practises in the house were the ones my parents had learnt during their own childhood from their parents, in the case of my mother in a priestly household, of learning and erudition. They stressed the importance of education, and enlightened, rational thinking which was derived from the teaching of Asho Zartosht in the Gathas. They always offered rational explanations for practices and ideas that seemed irrational to me at the time, or were honest enough to admit and explain that some were nonsense and merely the result of historical conditions, accrued over centuries and millennia. My father longed for the day when Iranians would return to their original faith, and as encouraged in the Gathas, he preached at every opportunity to every non Zoroastrian guest about the merits of our rational religion, in the hope of converting them! He correctly referred to several parts of the Gathas to demonstrate that the duty of a Zoroastrian was indeed to spread the message. The relevant passages are: yasna 31, 3, 6, 22; 34,7; and there are others.

Everything I learnt from them was supported and reinforced by the reading and study which I was privileged later to undertake during my post graduate research degree at Oxford University, resulting in the degree of M.Litt from the Dept of Social Anthropology. There the focus of my attention was Iranian Zoroastrian identity in the 20th century – Continuity and Change.

Few Parsees would deny that Zoroastrianism has its roots in Iran and recognise that the word Parsee is derived from Persia as the original homeland.. Indeed many Parsees are extremely proud of this connection with Iran, looking to renew this association and reacquaint themselves with the motherland. Reflecting this interest, I have noted that correspondents on the internet network nowadays seems to be publicising the Parsee Iranis as a group to be looked up to and cherished whereas not long they were looked upon as Jangalis and village simpletons as my own relatives in Bombay have told me. It should be recognised that poverty and desperation drove these Iranians to migrate to India between the mid 19th and early 20th centuries and since so doing, they have lost most of their ties with Iran, successfully integrating into mainstream Parsee culture and adopting standard Parsee customs including language, dress, food and religious practice and outlook. The adoption of the Irani group and the increased interest in them by certain vocal groups of late may conceal an underlying agenda, but the trend is reflected in the increase in tourism to Iran among Parsees which is a loud witness to this fact. What should be clear to Parsees, including those that may call themselves Iranis is that if they no longer speak Farsi and have no close ties with Iran, having been on the subcontinent for more than one generation, then they are really not Iranis at all and no longer think like Iranian Zoroastrians.

Why then, when there is such an evident sentimental respect for Iran as the fount of all inspiration, is the Iranian tradition so ignored and undiscussed among Parsees and why have they assumed the high ground in terms of religious authority?. Why is it that recently on the exchanges found on Zoroastrian internet networks, and indeed discussing matters with delegates at the world congress, some Parsees speak as if they alone have a monopoly on Zoroastrian identity and that those of us from an Iranian background somehow have no validity with our own Zoroastrian identities and values? Why do they not realise that we Iranians are true Zoroastrians yet at the same time not Parsees? Why is it difficult to understand that a Parsee is just one of the several groups of Zoroastrians which exist today just as the Christian church has many sub-divisions such as Catholics, Methodists, orthodox, Anglican etc.

Why has our authentic Iranian background tradition been rubbished by those very vocal Parsees who flood the internet and by some who partake in such gatherings as this. I knowingly use a strong word in saying rubbished because at a Youth Congress in California which I attended in 1993, a very senior Bombay mobed in attendance as a guest of honour was asked why it was that the Iranian tradition was so divergent in its approach to mixed marriage from his own interpretation, and his only response was to say that the Iranian mobeds were ignorant and lacking in scholarship. He is not alone in holding that view as a speaker at the recent 8th world congress, well known for his conservative views told his audience that the Iranian mobeds lacked education and knowledge. That is why I used the word rubbished. I was outraged back then but at the time did not have a platform to put the record straight. I was also stunned that we have once again heard such a dismissive and belittling statement made by a Parsee in the presence of a contingent of Iranian mobeds at the recent world congress. I hope I shall be able to go some way to doing correcting this misrepresentation with this paper. More recently there has been some disgraceful and vitriolic language used against Iranian individuals by some extreme Parsees who clearly feel threatened and resort to very un-Zoroastrian qualities to express their discomfort.

Naturally I have wondered why there were so few who rose in public to challenge such a view back in Chicago and instead one could only hear outraged muttering voices of indignation among the Iranians there after the session. I have to conclude that the main obstacle to the Iranian tradition gaining credibility and respect has been to do with command of the English language, social history, population figures and lack of confidence in challenging such characters.

It is a fact that during the past hundred years the population figures of Parsees have outnumbered Iranian Zoroastrians numbers significantly until the last few years. If only for this reason the Parsee voice has dominated until now and carried weight because we Iranians have been so few. However, additionally and more importantly Parsees have had the advantage of being raised in an English speaking environment in India/Pakistan while Iranians, until the Islamic revolution compelled whole families to leave Iran, did not have a large number who were fluent and competent to present their point of view in English at international academic circles, at conferences, in international publications or with foreign government or international agencies so their voice was not heard and the doctrinal differences were not appreciated. The final reason is that in the late 19th and early years of the 20th centuries Parsees held a pre-eminent position in Indian society with ramifications of their success felt in London producing 3 Parsee UK parliamentary representatives, while Iranians at that time were at their lowest ebb and most downtrodden. It has taken time to recover from that position but we have, and furthermore achieved the high socio/economic status and the social respect we enjoy now. In this regard it is pertinent to point out that most of the temples in the Diaspora have been endowed by Iranians, a fact which demonstrates the sort of recovery made by our community, and should command respect and help create equality within the two traditions. However, for these main three reasons until now in far too many circles, it has been assumed that the Parsee tradition alone represents the Zoroastrian faith which clearly is not the case. This has cost our countrymen dear since the asylum applications of Iranian Zoroastrians at the UK Home Office is seriously prejudiced by misinformation based solely on a Parsee perspective. If anything we would say that the extreme Parsee belief that all ritual practices must be preserved at all costs to be a dishonest distortion and a misrepresentation of an enlightened way of being, offered by our religion.

Now that the population balance is far more evenly weighted, with the Parsee population declining rapidly while Iranian Zoroastrians are increasing at a steady even pace, and with so many Iranian Zoroastrians living in North America and Europe for so many years, where they have acquired mastery over the English language, the time has indeed come for the Iranian voice to be heard, understood and respected.

It has been suggested more than once that our community was less educated. That view is based on a cultural stereotype of a western model: a belief that university degrees and the ability to engage in academic debate western style is the bench mark for education. In fact many of our priests from the recent past were knowledgeable in terms of the Avesta language and content, astronomy, classical literature, religious literature, and doctrinal and ritual knowledge. This would not classify them as uneducated in most people’s terms even today. And even if we let this pass, can we today dismiss their levels of learning and knowledge when they have had at least half a century of recovery on the western model?. Our lay population is today highly educated and indeed several of the mobeds at the recent congress were equally highly qualified holding doctoral degrees etc. Is it being suggested that they are still not worthy of respect by their Parsee counterparts? One can not help but feel the word ARROGANT would be an appropriate way to describe those who claim this. The Mobed’s council has been and continues to be the body which has given consideration to important issues and makes joint common decisions on the basis of members’ knowledge derived from study and tradition.

It is not my purpose in developing this paper to wish to claim rank or a superior position for our Iranian tradition, but what I hope to do is to raise questions and develop a new point of view in the minds of those listening who may not be familiar with the Iranian perspective, and to give Iranians who are reading, the confidence to assert themselves with conviction. Our Iranian perspective derives its strength from a close but historically longstanding osmosis of values found in the Gathas in which enlightened thinking and rational choice underpin the message of Asho Zartosht. Even among those who consider the later texts containing dogma on ritual practice as important, I have not yet met a Zoroastrian who categorically denies the primacy of the Gathas.  My parents taught me that essentially the main point of our religious teachings is that we leave the planet a better place through our own efforts and help increase the sum of human happiness by our presence in the world.. This means that our existence has not been in vain and answers the age-old question “Why are we here if only to die?”. It has therefore nothing to do with observing certain rites and rituals, whatever those pontificating as experts and specialists may practise or preach, nor to maintaining outward appearances, nor to do with keeping our beliefs secret, hidden and esoteric for just a chosen few as the Khsnoomists and Pundolists do. Rather it is in our interests that as many as possible should share the same principle of bettering mankind through good deeds. My parents taught me that outward form is less important than moral integrity, and that outward professions of faith are not worth anything unless underpinned by disinterested postive behaviour. This view is in stark contrast with the eminent Parsee priest who dismissed the Iranian tradtion so contemptuously, and who in one of his written pieces actually states that he considers outward form to be more important than the content of the message. I cannot begin to understand his stance.

It has not always been the case that the Parsees have had the upper hand in terms of authority. The migration of a small number of Zoroastrians from Iran to India in the face of hardships took place in the 10th century, the story of which is told in the Qissa Sanjan, the migrants becoming known as Parsees or coming from Pars, a synonym for Persia or Iran. Within a few centuries of their departure from Iran, the Parsee community had lost its way and its knowledge about the religion, the love for which had driven their forefathers to migrate.  This loss of knowledge which may have been a little known fact to many of Zoroastrians is nevertheless a fact that cannot be challenged. There is good written evidence of all of this in documents known as the Rivayats which are accessible to all of us translated into English in 19323 by B N Dhabhar. The Parsee communities of Surat and of Navsari therefore sent envoys to Iran to ask for guidance. They first sent out a brave Parsee named Nariman Hoshang over to Iran twice in 1478 and 1487 to seek advice on the correctness or otherwise of a number of issues. Some of these were alluded to in a paper at the congress on the first day. However, significantly no mention was made that questions asked on behalf of the Parsee community also included the right to recognition of Zoroastrians who had converted into the faith. The responses from the Iranian priests on these occasions and all future exchanges right up till the last visit in the late 18th century constantly confirm the views of the Zoroastrian clergy of Iran that it is right, proper and meritorious and fully in the spirit of the message of Zoroaster that our faith should welcome those who have chosen of their own free will to heed the message of our religion. "If slave-boys and girls have faith in the Good Religion, then it is proper that kusti should be (given to them to be) tied [that is, they should be converted to Zoroastrianism], and when they become intelligent, attentive to religion and steadfast, they should give them barashnum andit is also proper and allowable to eat anything out of their hands"! They went further by expressing disapproval of the hypocritical Parsee tendency to treat their servants as if of the faith when it suited them and to deny them appropriate funerary rites. The 1599 Kaus Mahyar Rivayat whose question includes categories from even lower-deemed persons: "Can a grave-digger, a corpse-burner and a darvand become Behdins (i.e. be converted to the Mazdayasnian religion)?" gives as an answer: "If they observe the rules of religion steadfastly and (keep) connection with the religion, and if no harm comes on the Behdins (thereby), it is proper and allowable"!  The final quote I wish to bring to your attention comes from the last rivayat exchange known as the Ittoter Rivayat of 1773 Concerning the acquisition of young men and women who are juddins as servants, the mobeds and behdins must first of all show care for their own religion, for their own rituals, for their personal property, and for their own soul so as not to face losses. TEACHING THE AVESTA TO THE SONS OF THE JUDDINS WHO HAVE BEEN ACQUIRED AND CONVERTING THEM TO THE DIN-I VEH-I MAZDAYASNAN EARNS ONE GREAT MERIT

The fact that the Parsee community continued to send envoys to Iran over 3 centuries to seek guidance is adequate indication that they must have accepted the Iranian tradition as both correct and acceptable.

Knowing about this long background of toleration helps explain how Iranian Zoroastrians have kept this true Gathic spirit alive throughout the centuries. Thus it should come as no surprise to learn that our late High Priest, Mobed Ardeshir Azargoshasb whose erudition and authority as Head of the Iranian Mobed’s council is indisputable despite efforts to undermine our High Priests’ learning and knowledge, published a newspaper statement in 1991 (despite the evident dangers of doing so) "WE MUST PERSEVERE TO PROPAGATE OUR RELIGION AND ACCEPT PERSONS WHO WANT TO EMBRACE IT.”  Naturally he could not say this in Iran, and today because of the prevailing circumstances our mobeds still cannot publicly condone this stance officially. Interestingly this Iranian perspective was shared by Parsee mobeds as recently as in the 20th century when a number of eminent Parsee dasturs (Ervads Bharucha, Modi and Kangaji) who held a similar view, stated publicly and unambiguously that our initiation ceremony contains a declaration of faith including the statement that Zartosht came for the propagation of God’s message. Other eminent Parsee Dasturs who shared the same view were Dasturs Framroze Bode, Anklesaria and Kaikhosro Jamaspji.

 The choice to propagate the religious message of Asho Zartosht has continued even despite the severe hardships which have been the unfortunate experience of Iranian Zoroastrians to undergo in the years following the Islamic revolution. Working with the Home Office and Immigration Appellate here in the UK I have been surprised and impressed by the Zoroastrians who have had to flee Iran because they have chosen to continue the tradition of propagating our religion to those who seek information. They have chosen this path despite the obvious personal danger they put themselves into because they are clear about the several explicit verses in the Gathas which exhort followers to undertake this mission. This Gathic message was echoed in the inscriptions of both Darius and Xerxes with clear indications that they both felt a compulsion to spread the religion, even by force if need be, by eliminating competing religions in the lands they conquered. The same attitude was practised by a number of Sassanian monarchs and well attested. This willingness to spread the religion whenever possible is a consistent approach which has continued unabated within the Iranian Zoroastrian tradition when opportunities have arisen.

In keeping with the Zoroastrian Iranian authorities referred to earlier which in turn have their reference from the Gathas, we have always welcomed into our community a spouse from a different background and naturally the children of such unions.  A similarly welcoming approach applies to children who are adopted of non-zoroastrian birth and who are raised within a Zoroastrian household to go on to marry within the community. Our priests have never had a difficulty with this matter and have only refused to conduct such marriages if it is evident that problems will arise from such a union – a view voiced back in 1599 in the Mahyar Kaus Rivayat. We certainly find it quite inhumane and unnatural that some Parsees are so dogmatic as to prefer to reject their own children and grandchildren by cutting off relations with them rather than using the Zoroastrian qualities of wise thinking to accommodate them into the community.

At our temples, our doors are open for all who wish to come there. Admittedly there may be some who come with evil intent, but even in these recent years where our community have been particularly vulnerable there have been few reasons to regret this policy. The same goes for the attendance at our All Souls memorial services of Farvardigan just after Novruz and also the gahambar period just before Novruz. Our respect for the souls of the dead is not a selfish closed matter. We empathise with all who have lost their loved ones and we welcome all who with their own free choice have embraced the same way of thinking as ourselves. 

In the temples we do not prostrate ourselves and kiss the step leading to the Afrignuni nor do we kiss the railings around it. This is considered as an irrational and alien way to behave, customs adopted from other cultures which surround us.  Similarly placing a dab of ash on the forehead is simply not an Iranian practice, but undoubtely echoes the Tila which has been adopted from Hindu practice. Wearing white or green head covers on religious occasions is expected and the choice of black hats that many Parsee men don we find contrary to our principles of colour symbolism.  Black has always been seen as the colour of Islam and of negative forces so we feel that is is totally inappropriate when men cover their heads with black caps. Similarly it is a matter of some concern in terms of hygiene when we find pious Parsees, undoubtedly full of good intentions, covering their heads with handkerchiefs they fish out of their pockets which are either previously or later seen to be used for their intended nasal functions. No less perplexing is the sight of people covering their heads with their hands, sheets of paper etc.  While we realise that these acts are attempts to communicate their religiosity, we do not believe that Ahura Mazda will think of us as lesser humans if we show our respect for the occasion in other ways, even with open heads if we have forgotten our scarves and hats.

We all know that at our initiation ceremonies we are given the sedreh and koshti to wear as the distinct emblems of belonging to our faith group. The sedreh pushi ceremony known to Parsees as Navjote is an important rite of passage and a significant milestone for a person, whenever it may be undertaken. However Iranian Zoroastrians do not suddenly lose their validity just because their parents may never have arranged the ceremony or because they may choose not to wear these emblems of their faith all the time after they have had their ceremony. It is a fact that the vast majority of Iranian Zoroastrians both in Iran as well as outside, do not wear the sedreh/koshti as faithfully as Parsees. My priestly grandfather did not regard these symbols as issues which would make or break the community’s identity and indeed he was right. Our community numbers have continued to grow and our identity has not weakened just because we do not all wear these symbolic garments. We are not shocked nor do we judge a person’s worth or authenticity by whether or not they are wearing these symbolic garments.  I stress this because I and a number of Iranian Zoroastrian friends were denied access to some temples in India a few years ago merely because we could not persuade the doorkeeper that we were true Zoroastrians. The only thing which would have convinced him was the production of a sedreh and koshti which he demanded to see and which none of us was wearing. It may not have occurred to him that anyone could quite simply put these on and produce them for his inspection, whereas it would have been a lot more difficult for someone to learn the Avesta which we recited fluently without any success in convincing the doorman that we had every entitlement to enter the temple. Nor did our ability to converse in Dari have any effect whereas an Iranian Zoroastrian knows well that Dari is the spoken language of Yazdi and Kermani Zoroastrians.

We all know that our religion is enlightened from many perspectives, one of which is the pride we take in the equal treatment of men and women which is demonstrated in the Gathas wherein the text addresses both genders. This approach establishing women as the partners and equals of men in furthering good deeds and making the earth more bountiful, was practised in domestic and political life so that we had Zoroastrian queens when there were no male heirs and women ran the household when their men folk were absent. In Iran Zoroastrian girls were the first females to attend schools, go to university,  become professionals and maintain a high level of literacy among women in a country where this was far from the norm. In keeping with this tradition it should come as no surprise although I realise that it may shock the more conservative members to learn that women used to and continue to fulfil priestly functions in the absence of adequate men. This is a living tradition and here in London our recently arrived Mobed from Iran is helped by his wife when performing ceremonies. The authenticity of this tradition is confirmed by lines in the Herbedestan text in which a question is asked which makes it clear that it was quite well established that both women and men might attend priestly college. And yet here in London there are Parsees who find the thought of a female undertaking priestly duties revolting – so much for enlightened thinking and traditions supported by historical literary sources.

Our community has been harassed and persecuted for the past 1400 years (with just a short respite during the Pahlavi dynasty). It is therefore surprising that with so many historical talks being given at the recent congress, that no one has chosen to present a talk on this particular subject of persecution over these many years. Suffice it to say that there is a good and varied body of sources for this and these sources would show a fulsome picture of systematic efforts to wipe out the Zoroastrian community of Iran. Notwithstanding, ours has always been an optimistic and joyous community which has celebrated life, the wonders of nature and the goodness of humankind. We have therefore found every opportunity to make music and dance, drink and eat together. Our festivals have always allowed our communities to laugh and have fun together and the most joyous of all festivals is our spring celebration of Novruz. Among peoples of Iranian origin  is understood as meaning a NewDay or New Year. Yet it seems more faithfully celebrated and understood elsewhere outside Iran than among Parsees and this is both surprising and saddening. Why is it that the people of Tajikistan still prepare a Haft sheen/Haftsin table, as do the Azaris and the Kurds but our Parsee co-religionists not only do not prepare a special table in a celebration of Ahura Mazda’s bounty, but fail to celebrate the significance of the arrival of spring. How could it be that that the spring equinox holds no special meaning beyond yet another visit to the temple and maybe sending cards out while they celebrate something akin to Novruz in the middle of summer. Where is the merry making, the genuine joy and the pleasure of seeing God’s good creation renewing itself through the laws of nature, of Asha when the planets are so aligned that the life of plants, birds and animals wakes up again.

Of course I realise that on the Indian sub-continent the climatic and geographic conditions do not allow spring to be so noticeable, and more importantly there is a whole big complication with the loss of control over the calendar, the extra leap year day etc. However, when you realise that something is not right, our enlightened thinking brought about through Vohu Manah should allow us to make changes. It is a nonsense to work with 3 calendars when actually we only need one which is used by Iranian Zoroastrians uniformly. It seems to me that some of us have forgotten that our religion is unique among faiths precisely because it does not encourage nor expect us to be blind in our following of customs and traditions just for the sake of custom. They have to make sense and it is our responsibility to bring our thinking minds to each matter.

Weddings are another example of things done differently. Our wedding celebration does not consist of much reciting of prayers in a language that is pretty much incomprehensible to most Farsi/Dari speaking Zoroastrians. Instead the majority of time is spent by the celebrant of the wedding giving prescribed advice (andarz) to the young couple in an intelligible language so that their lives may be lived according to true Zoroastrian values and principles. It is a truly inspiring liturgy which is lost on those who cannot understand the language and therefore it has now been translated into English and used for ceremonies where the couples (usually living in Britain or North America) no longer speak Farsi as fluently as they do English.  There is nothing reprehensible about updating the liturgy so that it can be really meaningful and communicate an important message as it was intended to do. We do not see it as a cardinal principle to remain entrenched in the past and not change. Our religion is supposed to be based on rational enlightened thinking and we need to take sensible steps to ensure that the dynamic message of the Gathas is not lost through sticking to practices that were developed for different times and different conditions. Another example of difference is minor but some may find it interesting to know that in Iranian weddings we don’t sprinkle rice upon the couple but a green scented herb similar to oregano – obshan - which conveys the concepts of fertility, health sustaining and fragrant happiness.

The defining characteristic of Iranian Zoroastrianism which I hope has been emerging is that it is dynamic and relevant for the times in which it is practised. The beauty and universal wisdom of any teaching must surely be judged in whether it can be applied in different conditions at different times. We have not seen it as a virtue to preserve outward form at the expense of the inner message. This principle can also be seen at work in discussing the use of dakhma and cremation. In Iran the use of dakhma or the Tower of Silence was given up as a result of social change in the late first half of the 20th century. As cremation became available, many Iranians opted for this sort of disposal rather than purification within the earth which was seen as un –Zoroastrian since the earth was provided to give forth life-sustaining crops and flowers etc. There was no question of defilement of fire as nothing can defile something which is inherently self purifying by its very nature.

The change from dakhma to other forms of funerary rite were not resisted by the majority of the population and clearly did not cause major traumas for the community. This is in contrast with the continuing Parsee practise of Dakhma disposal even though the Dakhma in Bombay and other towns is now dangerously close to if not in the midst of urban populations and regularly gives rise to embarrassing incidents of body parts dropping onto nearby residents’ properties. Iranians do not get very excited about whether the fire in their temples is fed by natural gas or sandalwood and recognise that if there is shortage of one material, then a sensible rational solution must be sought through a new channel of thinking. Some Parsees appear to be very passionate about the use of Nirang, or consecrated bulls urine whose use in Iran was referred to in the Rivayats. In fact it was still in use at the time of my grandfather and even my mother’s childhood. So there was no loss of tradition during the downtrodden period of our history. . There was however a re-thinking of its real function and it was agreed that it was not perhaps as essential in keeping the religion alive. Similarly although the segregation of women during menstruation used to take place until my mother’s youth, there were practical hygienic rather than “spritual/symbolic” reasons for this. Nobody seems to have subscribed to the oft heard parsee belief that milk will curdle in the presence of woman who having her menses. This mumbo jumbo is rejected and was not part of the Iranian tradition and now when practical solutions such as the availability of sanitary towels changed the whole outlook, while at the same time modern gadgets reduced the physical fatigue of women, it was no longer necessary to observe the purity/pollution laws which were quickly abandoned by Iranians. We are none the poorer for not applying them. There is no resistance to change for its own sake.

The numbers inside and outside Iran of born Zoroastrians of Iranian origin (as opposed to Parsee) has been increasing at a steady pace from the near extinction figure of 7500 souls in 1879 to the approximately 40,000 ( a conservative figure) for Iran and 15,000 in Diaspora today. This means that because the population curve is going upwards for Iranian Zoroastrian births, and it is sharply declining for Parsees, the Iranian Zoroastrians are likely to in a majority in the not too distant future. Will this reversal of population balance bring about changes whereby the majority voice will have greater influence? Will it bring about any rapprochement between the two cultural heritages?

And so to bring the discussion to a conclusion, I have tried to show some of the differences in practice and approach between our two cultures.  Iranians have been exposed to their priests’ understanding of the religion as one of enlightened thinking, choice, and personal responsibility for outcomes: this has required adapting the universal message to the time and place in which we exist. We still celebrate and maintain the central religious festivals and rites of passage which brings our community together for solidarity and re-affirmation. It is perfectly possible to retain what is sound and to discard what is not. The loss of a few ritual practices, while retaining other traditions that have true meaning and retain the dynamic message does not diminish the distinct notions of identity and values which make us Zoroastrian.  It is intended that this paper should provide some food for thought and that some readers may choose to go and consult the historical sources I have referred to for confirmation of the views drawn to your attention.

[i] This paper was posted on vohuman.org in September 18, 2005, and is based on a lecture presented at the 8th World Zoroastrian Congress held in London, UK in June 2005.