The Poison of Pessimism

Whenever calamities strike, some prophets of doom start to rejoice: “This was prophesied centuries ago,” they claim with glee, adding, “This must happen so that there will be a new world order and the great redeemer will redeem this earth.”

I was discussing the recent conflict between Iran and Israel with a few friends and one of them was strangely very excited about the potential prospects (Ahura Mazda forbid) of World War III. He began to quote Nostradamus and other soothsayers with great excitement. I told him that seventy-five million people died in World War II, including about twenty million military personnel and forty million civilians, many of whom died because of deliberate genocide, massacres, mass-bombings, disease, and starvation. I told him that the prospect of World War III can be exciting only to a morbid pessimist or someone who is mentally depraved.

Erroneous Predictions Of The Future

Predicting the future is interesting but seldom accurate. Looking into the future is always a tricky task. Clairvoyants often catch only glimpses of the total reality. The image, therefore, is often hazy. When I was still in college, I had heard elders say that Shah Bahram Varezavand will be in our midst before the turn of the millennium. It is now twenty-four years since the millennium has changed, and those who made the prophesy during the ’70s and ’80s have now pushed the date to beyond the year 2024.

A quarter of a century ago, there was also panic and paranoia over Y2K or what we knew as the ‘millennium bug’, which was to bring automation down to its knees. Today, twenty-four years since Y2K, automation is moving towards AI or artificial intelligence and technology is making rapid advances.

In the meantime, academic sources reject the notion that Nostradamus had any genuine supernatural prophetic abilities and maintain that the associations made between world events and Nostradamus’s quatrains are the result of (sometimes deliberate) misinterpretations or mistranslations. Academics also argue that Nostradamus’s predictions are characteristically vague, meaning they could be applied to virtually anything, and are useless for determining whether their author had any real prophetic powers.

Blaming Science And Technology

Pessimists also blame science and technology for all natural disasters. However, they forget that planet earth has witnessed at least five Ice Ages. These were not because of human beings. In fact, one significant outcome of the last ice age was the development of Homo Sapiens. Humans adapted to the harsh climate by developing such tools as the bone needle to sew warm clothing, and used land bridges to migrate to new regions. In the meantime, mastodons, saber-toothed cats, giant ground sloths and other megafauna that flourished, went extinct.

Meteors have bombarded earth for centuries. Over 1,500 volcanoes across the world are still active. As per the US Geological Survey (USGS), the world’s volcanoes, on land and under the sea, generate about 200 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually. In 2004, tsunamis killed more than 2,30,000 people across 14 countries.

Science and technology, in fact, revolutionized the way we live, work, and interact with the world around us. From smartphones and laptops to airplanes and medical breakthroughs, science and technology have enabled us to achieve feats once considered impossible, including bringing significant improvements in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases. Hence, let’s not blame mankind, science or technology for any and every natural calamity!


Among Parsis, the favourite sources of foretelling the future are Jamaspi and the Zand-e-Vohuman Yasna. Spurious Gujarati and English translations selectively pulled out of context made the rounds all over social media during Covid-19, and have slowly started to re-circulate. Read these with not just a pinch, but a fistful of salt!

Genuine scholars have warned us that the Gujarati Jamaspi, in particular, has been corrupted over centuries by additions inserted by later scribes. In fact, it is on BPP records that over a century and a half ago, a Parsi author published for the first time, a Gujarati Jamaspi. It was so replete with nonsense that the then Trustees thought it would disgrace the name of the community. The author was paid a small sum of money and his book revoked.

The Jamaspi or Jamasp-Nameh derives its name from the author, Jamasp. Scholars argue that the extant Pahlavi Jamaspi says nothing to the effect that the prophecies of Jamasp were put down in writing during his times. However, the Pazend Jamaspi, which appears to have been written later and is not an exact rendering of the Pahlavi Jamaspi, says that the prophecies were put down in writing at the time when King Vishtasp was the ruler of the country.

A close examination of the various texts leads us to believe that Jamasp, who is declared to have learnt the science of making prophecies from Asho Zarathushtra, could have made various prophecies which probably came down to later time, by oral tradition and the first attempt to put them down in writing was in later Pahlavi times, when they were embodied in a book, known as Jamaspi or Jamasp Nameh.

The question in the minds of most Parsis, today, is whether the prophecies as we see them in the Pahlavi Jamaspi extant are the same as those attributed to Jamasp in times nearer to him, than the time in which they were put down in writing. Here, a comparison of the Pahlavi Jamaspi with the Pazend and Persian versions and a comparison of these three with the Gujarati Jamaspi, as presently known, shows that in later versions, copyists have taken all possible liberties with the preceding versions and manuscripts, and have allowed a free hand to their imaginations. In fact, most of the Persian and Gujarati manuscripts, some even having fine calligraphy and attractive binding, contain extensive unauthorized additions and most of the predictions are hazy and evasive.

The Pahlavi ‘Jamaspi’ is relatively more reliable. However, the original Jamaspi or what Jamasp may have prophesized is now lost to us.

The Redeemer

According to Yasna 29, when the forces of evil became very powerful, the spirit of the earth cried out to Ahura Mazda for a saviour and Ahura Mazda sent Asho Zarathushtra to this world as a redeemer. All major religions of the world believe in the future advent of a saviour or redeemer… In the Bhagwad Gita Sri Krishna says, “When goodness grows weak, when evil increases, I make myself a body. In every age I come back to deliver the holy, to destroy the sin of the sinner, to establish righteousness.”

Hindus await the advent of Kalaki, Christians pray for the second coming of Christ the Redeemer; Muslims are expecting the advent of Imam Mehdi and the Jews – the coming of their promised Messiah. Not lagging are Parsis, who expect the advent of Shah Bahram Varezavand – Bahram (Avestan Verethragnat or Victorious) and Varezavand (Avestan Haithyavarez or working for Truth).

References to the next Raenidar (saviour) are found in the Pahlavi works such as Zand-e-Vohuman Yasna and Jamaspi. There are also references in the Pazend Setayeshes such as Chithrem Buyat and the Nam-i-Khaavar. In the Chitrem Buyat, we pray to the effect that may the law-reformer, world renovator, master practitioner of Ashoi come – Hoshedar of Zarthusht, Peshotan of Gushtasp, and valiant Bahram – for the prosperity of this world. May he revive the Good Religion and the noble commandments of Zarathushtra and may he destroy falsehood.

The Zand e Vohuman Yasna refers to the evil age to the following effect: What is the sign of that evil age? All men will turn deceivers and disregard truth and during that age the faithful will not even be able to perform ablution for during that age, filth and pollution shall become so abundant, that one shall tread on nasu (dead matter) with each step that one takes and the moment one takes the Bareshnum (purification ceremony) and steps down from the ritual stone seat, one will be stepping on nasu, thus rendering the Bareshnum invalid.

Whether the Raenidar will come now or after the year 2024, let each one of us be a Varezavand (Avesta Haithyavarez) or one “working for Truth” and become Bahram (Avesta Verethragnat) or victorious, in our own way, to make this world a happier place.

Focus On The Present

Unfortunately, too many people allow their mind to worry about the future and forget to enjoy the present and be appreciative and grateful for life. In the words of the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, “If you are depressed, you are living in the past; if you are anxious, you are living in the future; if you are at peace, you are living in the present.”

The Dalai Lama puts it even more pertinently: “There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do, and mostly live.”

In the Gatha, Zarathushtra advises us to think before we believe. In other words, he wanted us to discern truth from falsehood. Today social media and virtual space is replete with fake news and untruths. Even more reason why we need to be Varezavand or “working for the truth” and if we work for the truth, we shall emerge Verethragnat or victorious!

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