Asho Zarathushtra, The Happy Prophet

Zoroastrianism is a religion built on simplicity, purity and nature. PT Writer and Religious Scholar, Dara Khodaiji explores the essence of Zoroastrianism by providing insights into a few guidelines that were passed down to us by our Prophet Zarathustra.

Spitman Zarathushtra came into this world smiling. He grew up to be a poet and a prophet, and he wrote the poetic epic – the Gathas. His message to the world was ‘Pure Morality’. The Gathas have survived the tyranny of time and history, and even today, they show us the path to good living and stand as a beacon to guide us and inspire us to do the right and shun the wrong. He who follows His path can never go astray. He wants that His teachings should enlighten man and enable him to stand upon his own legs. His teachings are so universal, so all encompassing, that neither sword nor the onslaught of forceful evangelism could destroy it or prove it wrong.

According to Zarathushtra the very raison d’etre (reason of existence) of humanity is to sustain asa/asha, or the purity. The purity he teaches is not limited to cleanliness and ablutions, it is a holistic purity – that of the body, mind and soul, pertaining to this world and pertaining to the world beyond too, ‘tani ravani, geti minoani’. Cleanliness, according to Zarathushtra’s teachings, goes beyond the commonly understood concept – ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’. Cleanliness in Zoroastrianism is in itself a form of Godliness. The purity He teaches cannot be attained by withdrawal into a solitary life of monastic seclusion, away from the temptations of the world, renouncing all the earthly ties and duties towards the family, society and state. That amounts to escapism.

Zoroastrianism is not a religion of angry gods and penances. We are not expected to be God-fearing; we are a God loving people.

Swamy Vivekananda sums up the Zoroastrian philosophy in a nut-shell – he observes in ‘Karma Yoga’ that ‘it is useless to say that the man who lives out of the world is a better man than the man who lives in the world’. It requires greater strength of character to live in the world and worship God and follow His teachings. Any form of extremism is anathema to Zoroastrianism. It neither favours nor fosters any faddism. Hair shirts, sackcloth, ashes, fasting, self-flagellation, and all such extreme forms of mea culpaism have no function in Zoroastrian’s ashoi. Instead, enjoyment of the healthy, worldly pleasures is not frowned upon, nor are they considered an impediment to our progress to the next world. Enjoy them, but in moderation and offer thanks unto Him. One is expected to be moderate and temperate in all habits. It is written in the Persian Saddar, “there are people who strive to pass a day without eating and there are those who abstain from meat; we strive to abstain from any sin in thoughts words or deeds.”

Zoroastrianism is not a religion of angry gods and penances. We are not expected to be God-fearing; we are a God loving people. Zoroastrianism is a family centric religion. It encourages matrimony because a married man is able to withstand the vicissitude of life, and its physical and mental afflictions. He is more apt to lead a clean and fruitful life than an unmarried man. There is a monition to the marrying couples in Yasna LIII, 5, to lead a life of Good Mind and Righteousness and with upright hearts of love, cherish each other.

Sir John Malcolm assigns great respect in which the female gender was held as the cause of the progress made in civilization.

Zarathushtra was born smiling and he preached a happy philosophy. As Zarthostis, we are enjoined to lead a sin-free life, a happy life, full of love, joy and peace, and hence free of fretful stress. Possibly, this is the secret of longevity amongst Zoroastrians.

Dara M Khodaiji
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