Anyone familiar with the Zoroastrian religion is aware that the issue of conversion or the C word as we call it, is the most contentious issue in our community. It is a sensitive subject and emotions run real high when the subject comes up. In one camp, we have an extremely well-funded group of Parsi Priests in bombay/india; their position is that Zoroastrianism and/or Mazdyasna is a hereditary faith reserved for people of Zoroastrian parentage only. Their position is that all religions are equally true, and God assigns one’s religion based on the level of one’s spiritual advancement. Accordingly the issue of faith is decided by God before birth, and is folly to convert or being converted. Based on this view the choice has been made by God and/or Providence already.
The other view is that of the Iranian Priesthood; their position is that Zoroastrianism/Mazdyasna is open to all seekers of higher wisdom and knowledge. Yet it it is NOT a proselytising religion, and is first reserved for people of Zoroastrian ancestry/heritage.
And of course, there is a third view; The third group consists of newly iranian converts who sincerely believe that Zoroastrianism is the “First Missionary” religion. The third group’s approach to the subject at least theoretically, is very similar to the evangelical christian approach to the issue.
The aim of this article is to examine the position of the “Poetic Gathas” and the most ancient parts of Avesta on the subject. The formula for faith is contained in Yasna 12.9, and clearly states that Mazdyasni Faith throws the yoke of slavery and bondage away, and puts down the weapons of hatred and war. Accordingly, Mazdyasna is NOT about slavery and bondage. Mazdyasna is about the Divine Truth and the Divine Truth according to the most holy manthra or Yasna 27.13 is about freedom of the Spirit and inner freedom of Choice/Vairyö. There is a beautiful word play in the Poetic Gathas between “free will” and “true value.” Things have no true inner-value unless they are freely chosen. Things have an inner value and become REAL, only when we acquire them by the exercise of our free choice/will power, and NOT when they have been imposed on us.
If we want to be sure of anything we must CHOOSE it FREELY. If u want to be sure of ur religion u must CHOOSE it, if u want to be sure of ur country, u must CHOOSE it, if u want to be sure of ur friends and/or the true meaning of family ties, yes u must CHOOSE it. If u accept without reflection, without questioning which is truly divine/ áhüirîm frashnem, you can never be sure whether it is the true thing for ur life.
That is precisely why we in the Zoroastrian Faith have the nav-jot or sedre-pushi initiation ceremony. And it is called nav-jot precisely because it is a truly CHOSEN new-life. Mazdyasna or the Worship of Wisdom/Vision wants us to step back from all that has been forced upon us by blind mechanical processes; and look serenely and wisely at things. Evaluate them and CHOOSE FREELY. Then we can say with a heart-felt truth: THIS IS MY FAITH, THIS IS MY RELIGION. All our relations must be NEWLY BUILT upon an inner FREEDOM OF WILL.
True faith can not be imposed or supported by suggestion of fear or other menace. There can be no such imposition in our relation with AHURA MAZDA or GOD OF VISION and LIGHT. It MUST BE FREE, of our own mind’s and heart’s will, per Yasna 31.12, second line. What union/worship could that be in which one trembles and/or is forced???
The truth of Ahurmazd is self-evident and needs NOT to be imposed on the world. It is self-existent (khv-da,) it does not live by what people say of it or on their adherence or lack thereof. That is precisely why ZOROASTRIANISM has NEVER BEEN A PROSELYTISING CREED. We have never judged the greatness of our faith by the number of our followers because Truth would be still Truth if it had not even a single follower.
Those who make great pretensions need to proclaim loudly and to advertise; for otherwise they would not attract great number of followers. But Truth requires no advertisement; it does not hide itself but it does not SELL itself either. It is content to proclaim and manifest itself, regardless of results, regardless of approval or disapproval of the masses or psuedo-scientists.
Our concern is to be born anew, free of every bondage, not enslaved by impositions and restrictions, but looking into the realm of the SPIRIT or MINOO.