Why I Gave Up On Religion And Embraced Spirituality – A Millennial’s Approach

A teenager usually has a myriad chores and obligations that he/she might have to fulfil, be it academic, social or extra-curricular. Religion, spirituality and thought under normal circumstances are of no apparent aid. They appear to be ubiquitously used, yet are paradoxical and loosely defined concepts that seem to be growing seemingly distant from the present youth. Under such circumstances either of the two things manifest – the seeker gives up on the idea of religion by believing that this concept is nothing but a propaganda of illusionary correlation between practice and its intended purpose; or he takes a different approach. I, for instance, cater to the latter.

‘Parsi’ is a term we often use loosely to bind the natural waxing and waning of our almost obsolete religion. While I feel privileged in being called a Parsi, when someone asks me my religion, I do not see any merit in it. Consequently, what I do revere in, is the faith of Zoroastrianism. Religion is indeed a social construct. Anesthetised by indoctrinated words, which are probably lost in translation, we have today numbed believers into submission. In fact, in the name of God, as current affairs will tell you, religion is nothing but a political scapegoat.

Religion V/s Spirituality

While most consider this distinction as an act of intellectual smugness adopted by sanctimonious cynics, I would like to clarify this. In the act of embracing and building a community, many times, major principles of faith have been obscured. An example to elucidate this point – our ethno-religious group doesn’t allow conversion, frowns upon the basic premise on inter-racial marriage and yet we call ourselves ‘liberal’ and ‘open-minded’. On many occasions I have politely questioned the premise, posed this question to priests, my parents and yet the only formal, equivocal and ambivalent ‘politically correct answer’ I receive is that it has been done since the ages and thus has to be followed. No reference to any spiritual scriptures, nor any teaching from Zarathustra have been cited for the same. While I dwelt on this, and started research, I came across the Gathas, where Zarathustra in the Gatha Vahishta Ishti nowhere explicitly says marriage outside the community is prohibited. One must also acknowledge that there were plenty of religions that existed during the time of this era as well.

‘Religion is the opium of the masses’

To circumvent the pitfalls of religion, spirituality appears to provide solace. It is, in fact, compassionate, liberal and flexible. Zoroastrianism is a faith and pursuing a faith will provide you with a philosophy to lead your life. Religion might do just the opposite. Adopting different faiths yields in the formulation of something I like to call a spiritual tool box. It is an arsenal that enables the seeker to cope better with problems and be devoid of them. For instance, “humata, hukta, huvarshta” is a key concept for keeping your conscience clean, and the fundamentals for leading a good life and cultivating the vohu mana (the good mind). However, a rational contemporary way of coping with a problem is best explained by Buddhist philosophy – mindfulness. This, if honed, equips one to be mindful and look at problems objectively and in so doing, we rid ourselves of any angst.

The beauty of honing a spiritual bend is liberty of controlling the intensity of your faith, yet not being limited to one in particular and being so blinded by it, that it cripples and makes you succumb to believe that there is no better faith than the one you are following. It is this eclectic method where one adopts the best practises that enable one to lead a life of a tolerant, rational, compassionate and empathetic human being.

Parsis are a dwindling community and many people question this, complain about it. These are usually the adults with a conservative bend. Unfortunately, only a few have ventured into the exploration of the root cause of this issue. Let’s start by asking distinct questions. Why are children today so far away from Zoroastrianism? How many children even pray, or do a simple kasti ritual? I can say this with conviction: not many. And it’s unfortunate that they do not understand the power that these prayers have – the vibrations that each creates, the calmness it distributes within the seeker. How can an average millennial child comprehend this, when all he/she is told from the tender age of ten that he/she has to perform this ritual, out of ‘religious obligation’? It is inevitably taken as a chore and eventually its meaning is lost.

The kasti then is soon found to be rotting in dust, shoved away into a cupboard, sometimes never to be seen again. Why? Most blame the child, but is it really his or her fault, or is poor parental upbringing, or simply a fault of the ‘religion”, that expects certain standards without ever explaining the reason or the power of the act itself and the positive ramifications thereof on the body? Prayer, again, a misconception is not ‘religious’. One needs to feel the effect to realise that it causes a sense of well-being inside your body. But many cannot resonate with this idea, simply because they have been told they ‘have to do it’.

While performing jashans and being a spectator of many, I have experienced a sense of profound calmness. However once again not many will resonate with this idea, simply because there is so much chatter while the jashan is going on. People take the occasion to discuss food, a new movie release, business and then expect it to have a positive effect. It has been proven on multiple occasions that prayers cause vibrations that are incredibly powerful. But no one has the time or the inclination to attempt to experience this and neither is one keen to know the meaning of what they pray. By deductive reasoning, aren’t most then being irrational?

I am a Navar and Martab, and while slogging for the same, an intellectual frustration in me grew where I was practising prayers for hours, not understanding a word of what I was praying. This frustration nudged me to look at online translations and try and figure out what they mean. I found solace after reading them. It hit me then that if there was a family tree, God and spirituality would be related; but religion would probably be a distant cousin.
When children question the workings of the religion with rationality, they are told to “shut up” because they “do not know any better”. How does one expect a millennial to accept practises and ancient dogmatic beliefs in a contemporary world without his elders answering the questions he/she poses? How does one expect them to adhere to teachings that do not appeal to rationality? And then the older generation complains that today’s generation is growing distant from religion. Isn’t it inevitable?

In a few decades the religion is speculated to wither, but the faith, I’m sure will extend to an infinite continuum. In maintaining traditions of the society, one forgets that often tradition in itself is a bottleneck to progress. Instead of endorsing the core, which is that of personal judgement and free thought, we are straying away from the idea of individual thought and judgement, and hence, progressive thinking.


My young friend, I feel you have a wrong impression of sprituality. A truly spiritual person
seeks to preserve, not to destroy ancient religions. Spiritual God-realized masters such as
Sai Baba of Shirdi (I am sure he was many times more spiritual than anyone) never asked people
to abandon their God-given religions, he in fact once slapped a person who had changed his
religion, saying “So you have changed your father!” This should show us how important a religion
is, spiritual people will never look down on religions as unnecessary for others. You yourself
are an ordained priest, you have mentioned the vibrations in our prayers, but have you understood
the great spiritual power of our rituals such as the NirangDin, a miraculous ceremony that
transmutes Taro into bacterial-free Nirang by the power of Mathravani alone.
The Nirangdin is the core of our religion, and our religion, our Parsis of India,
have preserved this ancient ritual with great spiritual power. And such rituals have
a deep inner meaning, they actually fight the negative forces in this world, everytime
we pray the Mathravani and tie our Kusti on our Sudreh, we increase the power of good
forces in this world. Do you want our future generations to forget these great ancient truths
which are there in our religion that we have preserved? You speak of inter-marriage
and that there is nothing about it in the Gathas, where did you get the idea that
everything is in the Gathas? How about the Holy Avestan Vendidad and the laws of
right and wrong in that Avestan scripture? Please join a traditional group on Facebook
and they will guide you gladly with many references about inter-marriage not being
allowed. And by the way, would we be born Parsis today, you and I, if our parents
had not married into the community? You can ask any anthropologist, and they will
tell you that any small communitity looses its very identity and culture if
it starts to intermarry with the majority around it.

What’s the identity they’re preserving here? Our surnames are certainly not middle-Persian, nor our language, nor our food, not even our religious practices, and even the type of wood we burn in our fire temples was originally apricot wood, not sandalwood! We do not speak Pahlavi, we are even genetically more Indian than Persian, we have literally adopted most things from the Indian society, but it’s just that a thousand years was a long time for us to forget our original identity and take this new identity as our original identity.

Also as strange as this sounds, the Vendidad also warrants the killing of people who engage in anal coitus. The Gathas, on the other hand, are a beautiful, philosophical doctrine. Which outweighs the other?

Don’t forget that Zoroaster was actually of an east-Iranian ethnicity, somewhere in northern Afghanistan/Tajikistan, and wasn’t actually the same ethnicity as the Iranians or Parsis either.

If for a person, changing his religion because of personal belief is a good thing, then why not? Jesus was a Jew, would Sai baba have slapped him and told him to follow his father’s religion?

Varun , I am Shireen Bisol, Ale’s mum.I just read your post. I have the exact same reasoning as you. I suggest you read a book titled “the Laws of the Spirit world. By Khorshed Bhavnagri. My close childhood friend Shiamak Davar knew the authors, whose sons died in a car accdent. I have a copy if you want. U know where I stay!!


Spirituality and Religion ! God places us in a religion which He feels is best for our spiritual advancement . So there is no need to choose nor is there any division between one or the other as both are the two sides of the same coin. Having said that, all religions are equal, the philosophy of all religions is the same and lead us to God . This is what I feel.

My dear friend Deen,
Thank you for replying to the comments you did. It has just shown anyone reading these comments the sort of traditionalistic belief that exists in our already dwindling religion.

I would not have indulged in replying to this post, but I see this as a necessity to point out a few arguments that do not appeal to rationality and logical reasoning. So I am not going to indulge in banter but rather, I will try to provide you substantial logical reasoning.

So let us begin:
1. Your ad-hominem argument targeting the author specifically is rather juvenile and irksome. A simple google can illuminate that spirituality is and I quote: “the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.” The idea of honing the spiritual toolbox allows the author to connect with the individual self and that is exactly what the author has written in the article.
2. Zarathustra, by the way, said something very interesting. I’m sure you are aware of it. He preached that one must find their own path and not necessarily a path prescribed by anyone else. It is the “vohu mana” (good mind) that needs to lead us on the path of righteousness. Thus one must focus on the faith of “Zoroastrianism”. Many seem to have forgotten that, don’t you think?
3. You have misunderstood the premise of the article. To quote you “spiritual people will never look down on religions as unnecessary for others”. I feel you are insinuating that the author is looking down on religion as unnecessary to others. The author, in fact, has not made any of these claims whatsoever. The very fact that you selectively quote Sai Baba speaks volumes of how much you have understood my article. The premise of the author’s article is not to dissuade anyone from religion, it is to try and logically reason out religious dogma. It’s funny you quote Sai Baba- he did not have a religion. Ironic isn’t it?
4. You bring a rather novice point in your arguments related to looking at other sources for explanations. Let us recap. What is the spoken word of Zarathustra? The Gathas. Has Zarathustra written anything else apart from the Gatahs? Nothing that we know of. Who allowed us to understand Ahura Mazda better? Zarathustra. By deductive reasoning, you can see that because Zarathustra’s only spoken word is the Gathas we can only trust the Gatahs. The rest of the other things are written by other human beings who are not Zarathustra. Thus my deductive reasoning the only credible source of listening to how we must lead our “religion” comes from the Gathas.
5. You referenced the Vandidad…are you aware that portions of the Vendidad are referenced to violence- flagellation is a particular recurring term?
6. Join a traditional group on Facebook? My dear friend, in my personal opinion, at least, I have joined several and none can answer the argument coherently. No offense here, but it’s funny you referenced traditional groups on Facebook as if passing the responsibility to them to answer the questions when not even one reference has come from you.
7. “Right and Wrong” is once again a very black and white way of looking at the world my dear friend. If you read further and meditate on these things you will realize that Right and Wrong doesn’t exist. Its just action and consequence.

No offense to you sir. But as you can see your arguments are superfluous and hold very little value. And anthropologist can say whatever he may deem fit. But have you consulted a Statistician? Surprisingly, the Statistician might just tell you that in today’s world the male and female Parsis of “marriageable age” do not equal out? Hence Mathematically if we assume that all the Parsis of marriageable age want to marry, they may not have the equal ratio to do it in the first place. What would you like to say to that?

It’s time we progress. Dogma and archaic ways of thinking will only lead to the definitive fall that is forecasted for the Parsis.

Thank you for taking the time out to read these arguments. It pains me to see such conservatism in such a small religion.

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