Acceptance of Zoroastrianism

The following extracts from our religious scriptures throw light on the subject of acceptance into Zoroastrianism.

The first two are from Zoroastrian Theology by Dr. Maneckji N. Dhalla, the late High Priest of the Parsis of the North Western India and a very eminent scholar of our religious scriptures. Both extracts pertain to Avesta Period i.e. around 800 BC. (pg 74, 75)

1. “These Zoroastrian missionaries travelled to distant lands for the purpose of promulgating the religion, and their homeward return from their sacred mission is celebrated by the faithful (Yasna 42.6)”

2. “The Fravardin Yasht commemorates the Fravashi of Saena, an illustrious convert to Zoroastrianism. We learn from the Pahlavi works that this apostle of faith left behind him 100 disciples who preached Mazdayasnian faith in the land of Siestan. Armenia came under the Zoroastrian influence at a very early date and a corrupt form of Zoroastrianism prevailed in the country for several centuries. Cappadocia, Lydia and Lucia was the scene of active Zoroastrian propaganda………..The proselytizing work on the part of Zoroastrian ministers of the faith was carried on with a considerable amount of success.”

Let us see the extracts from the Pahlavi scriptures (pg198).

3. “Zarathushtra first preached his new religion to the people of Iran where he was born; but Ormazd has commanded that the excellent religion should be spread among all the races of mankind throughout the world (Dinkard Vol 10, bk.5.14, pg 12)

4. “It is said that the act of highest merit that a non-believer can perform in his life is to renounce his religion and embrace the Mazdayasnian faith (Sacred Books of the east, Vol.18, appendix, pg 415)”

4. “The great Sassanian monarch Shapoor II zealously worked for the restoration and promulgation of the faith among the un-believers with the aid of his illustrious Dastur Adarbad (Dinkard, Vol.9, pg 579).”

5. “The Dinkard sanctions even the use of force for the conversion of the aliens. (Sacred Books of the East, Vol.37, bk.8.26 pg 88, 89)”

6. “A Pahlavi Treatise devoted mostly to the Zoroastrian rituals attests the practice of admitting outsiders into the Zoroastrian fold (Nirangistan ed.Sanjana folio 16a, 17a)”

7. “Another Pahlavi tractate treating of the social and legal practices of the Sassanians lays down that if a Christian slave embraces the faith of his Zoroastrian master, he should be given freedom”

8. According to Fargard IV, 40(137) and 41(142) of Vendidad, the grave sins committed by a non-believer are pardoned if he accepts the religion of Mazda and resolves not to commit such deeds again.

Coming closer, we have the Rivayats or the codes of usages and rituals compiled between 1478 to 1766 AD. These are in Persian and in question and answer form. These provide a wealth of information on liturgical and social matters. Let us see what they have to say on this subject.

9. “ 237. On peaceful and forcible conversion:

Kaus Mahiar:

Q: Can a grave-digger, a corpse-burner and a darvand (one of foreign faith) become Behdin (i.e. be converted to Mazdayasnian religion) ?

A: “If they observe the rules of the religion steadfastly and (keep) connection with the religion, and if no harm comes on the Behdins (thereby), it is proper and allowable.”

Nariman Hoshang:

“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, and when they become intelligent, attentive to religion and steadfast, they should give them Barashnom and it is also proper and allowable to eat anything out of their hands.

All the above extracts show that there is simply no bar against acceptance / conversion in our religious scriptures.

It is a matter of interest that these extracts were published in Parsiana and in Jam-E-Jamshed some time ago but failed to invoke any response from any of our high priests! What does one infer from their silence?

Kersee Kabraji
Pune