What are the essential aspects of being a Mazdayasni Zarthoshti? (TMY – jame Jamshed of 19-3-17)

  1. A religion is made up of three aspects –knowledge, practices and living. Being a Mazdayasni Zarthoshti is a complete package of all these three aspects. The following seven teachings are most essential to make a person a true Mazdayasni Zarthoshti.
  2. Understanding the Mazdayasni Zarthoshti religion and practicing it, especially the ethical aspects – which include Humata “good thoughts” Hukhta “good words” and Hvarshta “good deeds.”
  3. Having the Navjote performed at the proper age, that is, after completing six years and before completion of nine years and thereafter wearing the Sadra-Kasti throughout life.
  4. Doing Kasti regularly and reciting Farajyat prayers (at least the small one) daily.
  5. Regularly visiting the Agyari or Atash Behram.
  6. Marrying a Mazdayasni Zarthoshti at the appropriate time and having at least 2 children.
  7. Believing in and participating in rituals and having them performed when necessary.

Going for Dokhmenashini after death, wherever a dakhma is available.

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Is it necessary to wear both the Sadra and the Kasti together? (TMY – Jame Jamshed of 12-3-17)

  1. It has been noticed that a few people today, either out of ignorance or convenience wear just one of the two. This is not correct. It is essential to wear both the Sadra and Kasti together. One becomes ineffective without the other.
  2. Just as when we say “a few days” it also means nights, when we say pen, a refill is also included and when we say specs, both the frame and the glasses are implied, in our religious texts, often the mention of one, Sadra or Kasti, was enough to indicate that both are referred to.
  3. Both the Sadra and Kasti are invariable for the performance of Kasti ritual. Both are necessary for affording protection to the person. A child is invested with both together at the time of the Navjote and the two should always be worn together.
  4. In Iran, in the not very distant past, because of severe persecution and the fear of living under alien and hostile rulers, our Iranian Zoroastrian brethren had to wear either one and that too in a concealed manner. Even that was often at the risk of their lives, as it has been reported that people were hanged by their own Kasti. Hence in Iran, for some time in the past there was a practice of not wearing the kasti all the time. But that is not so any more.

What are Khrafastars? (TMY – Jame Jamshed of 26-2 & 5-3-17)

  1. The word khrafastar refers to all creeping, crawling creatures that are noxious and harmful to mankind and other good creations. According to Zoroastrian religion, polarity in the Universe exists at all levels – molecular, physical, spiritual or moral. Zoroastrian philosophy revolves around two mutually opposite forces– Spenta and Angra. Hence all living creatures are divided into two categories – ahuric “beneficent” or daevic “maleficent.” Among animals these two categories are gospand “beneficent animals” and khrafastar “noxious creatures.” The former are useful to human beings and the latter, belonging to Angra Mainyu, are harmful, and hence need to be exterminated. This Zoroastrian world view is different from the world view of many other Indian religions.
  2. Though animals operate by instincts and not by conscious will, they are divided into these two groups. Cattle and most domestic animals belong to the former category, whereas wild animals, reptiles and insects belong to the latter category. Man is advised to protect the Gospands and exterminate the Khrafastars. Though the Khrafastars may be helpful in a limited way, their worth to mankind is less than the danger they pose.
  3. The main khrafastars among animals are the wolf and the entire class of wild carnivorous animals, which were a regular predator of the cattle and a natural enemy of cow-herds. The ant which carries away grain, the lice that cause diseases and eat away clothes, rats, cats, serpents, wasps, bees, worms, frogs and tortoise are also included in the list of khrafastars.
  4. Vanant Yazad helps mankind to be victorious over khrafastars. In the Vanant Yasht, the devotee praises the star Vanant for withstanding khrafastars. King Faridun is also invoked to destroy khrafastars as he was successful in destroying Zohak who may be regarded as a khrafastar among men. In the Gathas, the word khrafastar is used for evil men. On Aspandad roj of Aspand mah a special prayer called Nirang i khrafastar zadan “Prayer for smiting noxious creatures” is done.
  5. Such was the revulsion to khrafastars among ancient Zoroastrians that druj-i-nasu “the demon of putrefaction” was also referred to as a khrafastar, which came in the form of a fly. All through history this Zoroastrian revulsion for khrafastars is amply documented by Persians, Greeks, Westerners and Indian writers and is mentioned by Plutarch, Agathias, Herodotus and Tavernier. An 18th century Dastur of Kerman, in his last will to his son about what had to be done after his death, asked him to have khrafastars killed for the benefit of his soul.
  6. In the battle between good and evil, man was expected to help the good. One way of fighting evil was to drive away or kill the khrafastars, which are harmful to the good creations. Ridding society of khrafastars was considered a meritorious act, as it rid the world of evil. One of the punishments for a sinner in ancient Iran was to drive away khrafastars from the vicinity. A ritual implement of ancient Zoroastrian priests was referred to as khrafastar-ghna “a stick to smite khrafastars.”
  7. Before ending, I would request all animal loving Zoroastrian brethren to understand this Zoroastrian teaching of khrafastar in its proper light and in tandem with the philosophy of the religion. They are requested not to get emotionally carried away by their love for all living things and look down upon this unique Zoroastrian teaching. These are the very teachings that distinguish Zoroastrianism from other religions and gives it a unique and distinctive character.