ARZ's Reply to Two High Priests  

Respected Vada Dasturji Saheb Dr. K. M. JamaspAsa,

Respected Vada Dasturji Saheb Dr. Firoze Kotwal,

 We at the Association for Revival of Zoroastrianism (ARZ) were at great pain to read your letter published in the WAPIZ Page of the Free Press Journal of 22 nd Feb. 2008 and in the Jame Jamshed of 24 th Feb. 2008 with regard to your views and comments on the issue of “Acceptance / Conversion in Zoroastrianism”, in which certain unfounded and baseless allegations have been made on us.

We are therefore compelled to address this letter to you both, to clear our stand. As students of the Zoroastrian religion we seek answers and clarifications from learned Vada Dasturjis like your good selves for which, we are sure, you will not disappoint us.

We at ARZ have studied and are studying our various holy scriptures like Avesta, Yashts, Gathas, Vendidad, etc. Whatever level of religious knowledge we have gathered or will gather in future, we shall always remain students of religion because learning, we are sure you will agree, is a continuous process that can never stop. We firmly believe that the day a person declares himself a ‘scholar’, his learning stops. We can assure you we shall never make such a mistake. We are students of the Zoroastrian religion and will forever remain students of this wonderful religion.

In your letter we have been accused of being “…religiously ignorant, …misguided individuals with no proper scholastic training, …exhibiting complete ignorance of Imperial Zoroastrian history, …misrepresentation of scriptures, …re-moulding the religion, etc.”.

We therefore as students of religion are compelled to seek your guidance and answers to the following concerning our Zoroastrian religion:

In 1903 the very learned and respected, late Vada Dasturji Kaikhushroo Jamaspji JamaspAsa of the Anjuman Atash Behram Mumbai, had performed the Navjote of a French Lady and had also solemnized her marriage with Mr. Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata (parents of Mr. JRD Tata) according to the Zoroastrian rites. This great Vada Dasturji was Dasturji K. M. Jamaspasa’s own grand father !!

The late Vada Dasturji Kaikhushroo Jamaspji JamaspAsa was a highly learned, religious and pious High Priest of the Anjuman Atash Behram. He was certainly not “religiously ignorant”, he was not “a misguided individual with no proper scholastic training”, he also did not “exhibit complete ignorance of Imperial Zoroastrian history”, he was not indulging in “misrepresentation of scriptures” and last but not the least, he certainly did not try to “re-mould the religion”. Would you both, very learned gentlemen, agree with us at least on this count?

The late Vada Dasturji Kaikhushroo Jamaspji JamaspAsa had also made his views very clear with regard to “Acceptance / Conversion in Zoroastrian Faith”, vide his letter of 1903 addressed to the Bombay Parsi Panchayat (BPP).

The learned and respected Vada Dasturji Kaikushroo Jamaspji JamaspAsa very clearly states in his letter that “there is no bar in our religion, to accept non-Zoroastrian converts”. In his letter the late Vada Dasturji also mentions about Ervad Tehmurasp Anklesaria’s book titled “Treatise on the Conversion of Juddins into Mazdayasni Religion”.

In this book, the Ervad Saheb has quoted examples from Avesta, Pahlavi, & Persian Texts, and has also mentioned about the book by Vada Dasturji Jamspji (Great Grandfather of the current Vada Dasturji K. M. JamaspAsa) published in 1883 titled “Passoxi Nirangi Javit Dinan” in which further examples / quotations have been given concerning the acceptance / conversion of juddins into the Zoroastrian faith.

Were these learned and respected Dasturji Jamaspji, Dasturji Kaikushroo Jamsapji JamaspAsa and Ervad Tehmurasp Anklesaria ‘religiously ignorant’, or were they “misguided individuals with no proper scholastic training” or were they “exhibiting complete ignorance of Imperial Zoroastrian history” or were they “misrepresenting scriptures” or were they trying to “re-mould the religion”?

Dasturji Dr. K. M. Jamaspasa, your forefathers have always stood for the cause that we stand for today. If the allegations made on us by you are correct, the same allegations could be levied on your very own grandfather and great grandfather. Are you willing to make the same allegations on them?

Dasturji Dr. Firoz Kotwal, are you too willing to make similar allegations on Dasturji Dr. K.M. Jamaspasa’s forefathers ?

ARZ would like to inform both of you worthy high priests that we at ARZ have been working strictly according to what has been opined and written by the fore fathers of Vada Dasturji Dr. K. M. Jamaspasa. In our opinion these highly learned and noble Dasturjis were doing and saying the right thing, as is mentioned in our holy scriptures. We would like to have your learned and valued opinion on the above referred religious dignitaries.

We are attaching herewith, for your ready reference and perusal, a copy of the letter written in 1903 by learned and respected Vada Dasturji Kaikhushroo Jamaspji JamaspAsa addressed to the BPP.

2 The famous Navjotes of respected Mr. Neville and Mr. Nusli Wadia were performed, blessed and approved by prominent Priests / High Priests of our community, including you both worthy high priests.

 As we all know, the members of the great industrialist Wadia family were Christians for three generations, and over the generations were inter-married to European Christians and Indian / Pakistani Muslims.

We at ARZ are indeed very happy and grateful that at that time a correct decision was taken by all those concerned and no heed was paid to the tantrums thrown by the so called orthodox.

But do you think that at that time the prominent priests, including both of you, who performed and/or blessed and approved the navjotes were “…religiously ignorant”, or were “misguided dastoors with no proper scholastic training”, or were “exhibiting complete ignorance of Imperial Zoroastrian history”, or were “misrepresenting the scriptures”, or were “re-moulding the religion”?

In our opinion all the concerned priests, including both of you highly learned religious scholars, did the right thing by performing/blessing/approving/not opposing the navjotes of respected Mr. Neville and Mr. Nusli Wadia. ARZ salutes you all for the same.

We may further inform you both learned gentlemen that we at ARZ are strictly following your own footsteps, by accepting intermarried parsees and their families into the Zoroastrian fold, if and when they so desire, even if a few generations have already passed, like in the case of the Wadia family.

Respected Vada Dasturji Sahebs, you will agree that our noble religion does not have two sets of rules for entry into the Zoroastrian religion – one for the super-rich and another for the common inter-married Parsi. Do you have any religious justification for this selfish discrimination?

3. Most of the Agiaries/Atash Behrams/Dokhmas have employed helpers who are of mixed parentage, and /or are themselves intermarried. Our so-called orthodox groups and priests do not object to this because no other so-called “Pure Parsi” would be ready to work in the dokhmas and / or clean and mop the floors in the Agiaries /Atash Behrams.  

Please note we are not against them, we are for them. It is because of these Parsis that our Atash Behrams, Agiaries and Dokhmas are being served, as no other so-called “Pure Parsi” would be ready to work there as a chasniwala or as a nasesallar. The Parsi community should be grateful to these people for the wonderful job they have been carrying out.

But at the same time, other inter-married Parsi couples and their children are barred and stopped from following the Zoroastrian religion.

Respected Vada Dasturji Sahebs, which religious scripture of ours justifies this double standard of “take them in when required and throw them out when not”?

Do you have any religious justification for this selfish discrimination?


Kerssie N. Wadia
Vispy N. Wadia