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Transliterated Text: Yęnghę hâtâm â-at yesnę paiti vanghô, Mazdĺ Ahurô vaęthâ ashât hacâ yĺnghâm-câ. Tâns-câ tĺs-câ yazamaidę.
Indeed Mazda Ahura, the Wise God, knows better any person among men and women for his or her veneration. We, on our part, venerate all such men and women.
The Good Religion holds men and women as equals in all respects. They may surpass one another in righteousness only. It is their service to God and the creation that counts. Not the sex. The more a person serves the living world in which we all live, the nearer he or she draws to God and the more God knows him or her as a better person. We, on our part, also join in and express our respects to such deserving persons.
In the 'Vohu Khshathra' Gatha, stanza 22, Asho Zarathushtra praises such persons in almost the same words -- a fact that shows that Yenghe Hatam is a later paraphrase in prose of the Gathic idea. There the Divine Teacher says:
"The Wise God knows better any person of mine for his or her veneration done in accordance with righteousness. I shall, on my part, venerate such persons, passed away or living, by their names, and shall lovingly encircle them."
This extraordinary love and respect shown by Zarathushtra initiated the beautiful tradition of commemorating outstanding men and women for their services on the Memorial Day, the Farvardegân or Muktâd, at the end of the year. The Farvardin Yasht, an early post-Gathic text in the Avesta, venerates the names of some 250 men and women for their 'conviction' because they joined Asho Zarathushtra in his divine mission and served the cause of the Good Religion during the initial period of its establishment. It also venerates the 'conviction' in the Good Religion of all men and women of the world.
Yenghe Hatam, often repeated in some daily prayers, is an expression of continuous gratefulness to the people who truly serve God and the living world.
(Yasna Chapter 56)
Note: Hadhaokhta means “With -the-Word.” It refers to “Seraosha,” the Divine Voice within us. The prayer, a repetition of sentences, lays emphasis that the Gathas, the Message of Zarathushtra, should guide us throughout our life. The first stanza says that the Voice is to venerate God Wise throughout one’s life. The second says that the Voice is for the guidance of all righteous people. The third and fourth stanzas add that the Voice guides all good men and women.
1. seraoshô idhâ astű ahurahę mazdĺ ýasnâi sevîshtahę ashaonô ýę- nĺ ishtô hyat paourvîm tat ustememcît, avathât idhâ seraoshô astű ahurahę mazdĺ ýasnâi sevîshtahę ashaonô ýę-nĺ ishtô.
2. seraoshô idhâ astű apăm vanguhînăm ýasnâi ashâunămca fravashibyô ýĺ-nô ishtĺ urvôibyô hyat paourvîm tat ustememcît, avathât idhâ seraoshô astű apăm vanguhînăm ýasnâi ashâunămca fravashibyô ýĺ-nô ishtĺ urvôibyô.
3. seraoshô idhâ astű apăm vanguhînăm ýasnâi vanghush vanguhînăm ameshanămcâ speńtanăm huxshathranăm hudhĺnghăm vohunămcâ vanghuyĺscâ ashôish ýasnâi ýâ-nę âraęcâ erenavataęcâ ashanghâxsh, seraoshascâ idhâ astű apăm vanguhînăm ýasnâi vanghush ashivĺ hyat paourvîm tat ustememcît.
4. avathât idhâ seraoshô astű apăm vanguhînăm ýasnâi vanghush vanguhînăm ameshanămcâ speńtanăm huxshathranăm hudhĺnghăm vohunămcâ vanghuyĺscâ ashôish ýasnâi ýâ-nę âraęcâ erenavataęcâ ashanghâxsh, seraoshascâ idhâ astű apăm vanguhînăm ýasnâi vanghush ashivĺ!
1. May Seraosha, listening to the Divine Voice, be here for the veneration of Wise God, the Most Beneficent because we have wished it for ourselves from the beginning until the end of our lives. May Seraosha, listening to the Divine Voice, be here for the veneration of Wise God, the Most Beneficent because we have wished it for ourselves from the beginning until the end of our lives.
2. May Seraosha, listening to the Divine Voice, be here for the veneration of the firm belief because we have wished it for our souls from the beginning until the end of our lives. May Seraosha, listening to the Divine Voice, be here for the veneration of the firm belief because we have wished it for our souls from the beginning until the end of our lives.
3. May Seraosha, listening to the Divine Voice, be here for the veneration of the immortal progressives who are noble rulers and beneficent persons. May it be here for the veneration of the beneficence of good men and women who are our guides in righteousness. May the Divine Voice be here for the veneration of those who have been rewarded good from the beginning until the end of our lives.
4. Henceforth, may Seraosha, listening to the Divine Voice, be here for the veneration of the immortal progressives who are noble rulers and beneficent persons. May it be here for the veneration of the beneficence of good men and women who are our guides in righteousness. May the Divine Voice be here for the veneration of those who have been rewarded good from the beginning until the end of our lives.
Pondering Point: The Gathas, the Divine Voice, are “the Guide in Life.”
YASNA - Chapter 58.
Note: Fshusho-Mânthra is the prayer of “thought-provoking of prosperity,” the Divine Message contained in the Gathas. The prayerful venerate the first rehabilitator, Zarathushtra, who founded prosperous settlements. Then progressive immortals, the foremost men and women converts, are venerated. And then the settlers base their life on the creative mentality of good thoughts, words and deeds They look at the bright universe with clear eyes, eyes that see every thing as it is. Not with tinted superstitious eyes. They dedicate themselves and their wealth to lead a good prosperous settled life. This they pray while facing Fire and the Sun, symbols of divine light, warmth and energy. Finally they pay their respects to the Gathas and the Haptanghaiti.
1. tat sôidhish tat verethrem dademaidę hyat nemę hucithrem ashish-hâget ârmaitish-hâget ýenghę nemanghô cithrem humatemcâ hűxtemcâ hvarshtemcâ.
2. tat nę nemę nipâtű pairî daęvâatcâ tbaęshanghat mashyâatcâ, ahmâi nemanghę âvaędayamaidę gaęthĺscâ tanvascâ nipâtayaęcâ nishangharetayaęcâ harethrâicâ aiwyâxshtrâicâ.
3. nemahî shyâmâ ahuramazdâ nemahî usęmahî nemanghę vîsâmaidę nemanghę âvaędayamaidę gaęthĺscâ tanvascâ nipâtayaęcâ nishangharetayaęcâ harethrâicâ aiwyâxshtrâicâ nemanghô â ýathâ nemę xshmâvatô.
4. fshűmĺ astî ashavâ verethrajâ vahishtô fshűshę carekeremahî, hę-ptâ gęushcâ ashanghâcâ ashaonascâ ashâvairyĺscâ stôish haithyô vanghudĺ ýenghę vę masânascâ vanghânascâ srayanascâ carekeremahî, hęcâ-nâ fshűmĺ nishangharatű hę aiwyâxshayatű hadâ ashâcâ vâstrâcâ frârâticâ vîdîshayâcâ ainiticâ âthrâcâ ahurahę mazdĺ.
5. ýathâ-nę dâtâ ameshâ speńtâ athâ-nĺ thrâzdűm, thrâzdűm nę vanghavô thrâzdűm nę vanguhîsh thrâzdűm nę ameshâ speńtâ huxshathrâ hudhĺnghô, naęcîm tęm anyęm ýűshmat vaędâ ashâ athâ-nĺ thrâzdűm.
6. pairî manĺ pairî vacĺ pairî shyaothanâ pairî pasűsh pairî vîręńg speńtâi manyavę dademahî, haurvafshavô drvô-gaęthâ drvafshavô drvô-vîrâ drvâ haurvâ ashivańtô dathushô dadushô dadűzhbîsh raocębîsh hăm-vaęnôimaidî ýâish ahurahę mazdĺ.
7. nemase-tôi âtarę ahurahę mazdĺ mazishtâi ýĺnghăm paitî-jamyĺ mazę avah'yâi mazę rafenôh'yâi dâidî haurvâtĺ ameretâtĺ!
8. sraęshtăm at tôi kehrpęm kehrpăm âvaędayamahî mazdâ ahurâ imâ raocĺ barezishtem barezimanăm avat ýât hvarę avâcî.
9. haurvăm hańdâitîm staotanăm ýesnyanăm ýazamaide apanôtemayâ paitî vacastashtâ. staota ýesnya ýazamaide ýâ dâtâ anghęush paouruyehyâ!
1. We offer this gain and victory, the prayer of good foudation and attached to goodness and serenity, because it is based on Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds.
2. This prayer saves us from the harm done by false deities and their men. We pray for the safety, security, protection, and guardianship of our spirit and body.
3. O Wise Lord, we enjoy our prayer and say what we wish in it. We turn to prayer for the safety, security, protection, and guardianship of our spirit and body. [We do this keeping in view the Gathic stanza (Song 8.1)] of “How shall I reverently pay You Your homage?”
4. The righteous rehabilitator [Zarathushtra] is victorious and the best. We venerate him. He is the guardian of the living world, the righteous principles, the righteous people and the righteous seekers. It is through him that we venerate your greatness, goodness, and sublimity of Yours. May the rehabilitator protect and guard us, through the “Fire” of Ahura Mazda, protect us with righteousness, settlement, generosity, wisdom, and kindness.
5. The way you, O immortal progressives, O good men and good women, gave us the Doctrine, give us protection. Protect us, O immortal progressives, good and beneficent people. “We know none other than you. Protect us through righteousness.” [Gathas: Song 7.7]
6. We dedicate our thoughts, words and deeds, and our animals and people to the [divine] progressive mentality. We dedicate all prosperity, healthy animals, and healthy people enjoying health and wholeness (to the progressive mentality). We should look at the creation of the Creator, the Wise Lord, with all its luminaries with clear eyes.
7. Homage to you, O Fire of Ahura Mazda! Come to our unlimited joy on this greatest event of our life. Grant us wholeness and immortality.
8. Wise Lord, of these lights, the highest of the high, Called the Sun, we declare the sublimest of Your splendors.
9. We venerate the collection of the Staota Yesnya (the Gathas and Supplements) with its highest stanzas. We venerate the Staota Yesnya, the Primal Principles of Life.
The Choice Of Religion
(Days 287th to 293rd)
16. fravarâne mazdayasnô zarathushtrish vîdaęvô ahura-tkaęshô, hâvanęe ashaone ashahe rathwe ýasnâica vahmâica xshnaothrâica frasastayaęca, sâvanghęe vîsyâica ashaone ashahe rathwe ýasnâica vahmâica xshnaothrâica frasastayaęca, rathwăm ayaranămca asnyanămca mâhyanămca ýâiryanămca saredhanămca
ýasnâica vahmâica xshnaothrâica frasastayaęca. ýathâ ahű vairyô zaotâ frâ-mę mrűtę, ýathâ ahű vairyô ýô zaotâ frâ-mę mrűtę, athâ ratush ashâtcît haca frâ ashava vîdhvĺ mraotű!
17. frastuyę humatôibyascâ hűxtôibyascâ hvarshtôibyascâ măthwôibyascâ vaxedhwôibyascâ varshtvôibyascâ, aibigairyâ daithę vîspâ humatâcâ hűxtâcâ hvarshtâcâ, paitiricyâ daithę vîspâ dushmatâcâ duzhűxtâcâ duzhvarshtâcâ.
18. ferâ vę râhî ameshâ speńtâ ýasnemcâ vahmemcâ ferâ mananghâ ferâ vacanghâ ferâ shyaothanâ ferâ anghuyâ ferâ tanvascît hvah'yĺ ushtanem.
19. staomî ashem, ashem vohű vahishtem astî ushtâ astî ushtâ ahmâi hyat ashâi vahishtâi ashem.
YASNA OF THE CHOICE OF RELIGION
287th to 293rd Day
The Initiation Ceremony
Aryan Age of Majority
Since the day humans consolidated their primitive bonds into a well-knit society, they have evolved a process to admit the matured young as adult members. The initiation rite is therefore as old as human society, the acceptable age being as low as nine years among certain primitive tribes and as high as 21 years in certain more advanced societies. It has even branched into various modern graduation ceremonies in education, training and achievements, which are generally not restricted by age limits. Other initiations into a social order or a religious fellowship are also not governed by age limits. The initiation may be a simple or an elaborate ceremony, depending on the people and their times.
The ancient Aryans, ancestors of the people of Iranian culture, considered fifteen years as the age of attaining majority and consent for both the sexes. It was the right age when a boy had learned most of the trades of agriculture and animal husbandry from his father, and the girl had acquired most of the skills of homemaking and housekeeping from her mother. The two became fully qualified to take their respective responsibilities in the household and society.
The initiation ceremony was simple. The initiate had to receive a work band from an elder 'to gird the loins' and make a solemn vow that, once girded, one would serve the family and the folk. Prayers by an elder and blessings by the attendees made the ceremony more significant.
The antiquity of the ceremony, later tradition says, goes back to Yima Khshaeta (Middle Persian Jamshed, modern Persian Jamshid), a legendary leader of the southward migrating Aryans of the ice and post-ice ages, from 8,000 to 15,000 years ago. It may be even older. The phrase "to gird" in almost all the Indo-European languages meaning, "to prepare for action," "to undertake a task," and "to invest with authority," proves its origin in a hoary past.
Original Zoroastrian Form
Zarathushtra came to found a monotheistic religion of Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds, and to eradicate ignorance, superstition and both spiritual and social ills. However, he did not interfere with the daily life and the way of living of an industrious people. Rather, he Purified and beautified it. His famous sermon on the "Freedom of Choice" and the "Great Event" (Yasna 30.2), and the eventual turni"9 point in one's life through this prudent choice, is further illustrated by his mentioning of certain major initiations: The day King Vistaspa joined "the Great Zoroastrian Fellowship," and the occasions on which Ferashaoshtra was granted "the best bliss of righteousness,” and sage Jamaspa "united with righteousness." He speaks of his cousin Maidyoimaha and other near relatives joining the Fellowship (Yasna 46.14-15, 49.9, 51 16-19). His last song states that his best wish had been fulfilled because all those who chose the new order were initiated into the Fellowship and even his earlier opponents had learned the words of the Good Religion and acted accordingly. (Yasna 53.1).
How the initiation was actually performed, his ever-guiding sublime songs, the Gathas, do not elaborate. However, Haptanghaiti, the Avestan songs chronologically next to the Gathas, shows the "greatest event of decision" was held in a fire-enclosure, the earliest prototype of today's temples and the ceremony was performed facing the fire-altar (Yasna 36)~ Another text, Fshusho Manthra (Thought-provoking Message of Prosperity--Yasna 58), also in the Gathic dialect, breaks into a prayer for the prosperity of the settled industrious people and their useful animals, and ends with the same stanza of Haptanghaiti by asking for "perfection and eternity”... of initiation in an agricultural settlement.
The term yâh (from the root yah, to strive) is translated as "the event of decision or choice.” It is mentioned in three places in the Gathas (32.2, 46. 14, 49 9). It occurs twice again in post-Gathic Avestan pieces. Sraosha (Listening to the divine voice) is "the true word most victorious in the event of decision, (because) the Mazdayasna Religion is the true law among all the good and righteous principles." (Yasht 11.3). And "Righteous Zarathushtra, leader of the material world and the head of mankind, revered the Choice of Religion in all the events of decision" (Yasht 13.41). It shows the continuations of the ceremony long after the passing of Zarathushtra and his companions.
It is Fravarti, the "Choice of Religion" text (Yasna 11.17 to 12.9), again in the Gathic dialect, which provides a clearer picture of the early form of the ceremony. It is a long piece of eleven stanzas in which the adult initiates renounce their previous beliefs and professions— polytheism, superstitious cults, sorcery, arbitrariness, robbery, and other "mental and physical illnesses," each far oneself, and join the Zoroastrian Fellowship. In doing so, they declare they are following Zarathushtra, who in his communions with the Only God Omniscient (Ahura Mazda), renounced false gods and chose to believe in God and His good creation. They declare that they make their choice, as did Zarathushtra. King Vishtaspa, Ferashaoshtra and Jamaspa, and as every other truth-practicing righteous beneficent person does, to follow the Good Religion which "overthrows yokes, sheaths swords, promotes self-reliance and is righteous."
It must have been an impressive ceremony.
Fravarti Text, An Exposition
This text of eleven stanzas contains the main part of the Fravarti, the Choice of Religion formula and a collection of common and personal declarations made by adults who joined the Fellowship. Here are the two transliterated forms of the text and a free translation of the collection, minus repetitions, given stanza by stanza.
Frastuyę humatôibyascâ hűxtôibyascâ hvarshtôibyascâ măthwôibyascâ vaxedhwôibyascâ varshtvôibyascâ, aibigairyâ daithę vîspâ humatâcâ hűxtâcâ hvarshtâcâ, paitiricyâ daithę vîspâ dushmatâcâ duzhűxtâcâ duzhvarshtâcâ.
ferâ vę râhî ameshâ speńtâ ýasnemcâ vahmemcâ ferâ mananghâ ferâ vacanghâ ferâ shyaothanâ ferâ anghuyâ ferâ tanvascît hvah'yĺ ushtanem.
(Yasna 11.17 & 18)
1. nâismî daęvô, fravarânę mazdayasnô zarathushtrish vîdaęvô ahura-tkaęshô staotâ ameshanăm speńtanăm ýashtâ ameshanăm speńtanăm, ahurâi mazdâi vanghavę vohumaitę vîspâ vohű cinahmî ashâunę raęvaitę hvarenanguhaitę ýâ-zî cîcâ vahishtâ ýenghę gâush ýenghę ashem ýenghę raocĺ ýenghę raocębîsh rôithwen hvâthrâ.
2. speńtăm ârmaitîm vanguhîm verenę, hâ-môi astű, us gęush stuyę tâyâatcâ hazanghatcâ, us mazdayasnanăm vîsăm zyânayaęcâ vîvâpatcâ.
3. ferâ manyaęibyô rĺnghę vasę- ýâitîm vasę-sheitîm ýâish upairî âya-zemâ gaobîsh shyeńtî, nemanghâ ashâi uzdâtĺ paitî avat stuyę, nôit ahmât âzyĺnîm nôit vîvâpem xshtâ mâzdayasnîsh aoi vîsô nôit astô nôit ushtânahę cinmânî.
4. vî daęvâish akhâish avanghűsh anaretâish akô-dâbîsh sarem mruyę hâtăm draojishtâish hâtăm paoshishtâish hâtăm avanghutemâish vî daęvâish vî daęvavatbîsh vî ýâtush vî ýâtumatbîsh vî kahyâcît hâtăm âtarâish vî manębîsh vî vacębîsh vî shyaothanâish vî cithrâish, vî zî anâ sarem mruyę ýathanâ dregvâtâ răxshayańtâ.
5. athâ athâ côit ahurô mazdĺ zarathushtrem adhaxshayaętâ vîspaęshű ferashnaęshű vîspaęshű hańjamanaęshű ýâish aperesaętem mazdĺscâ zarathushtrascâ,
6. athâ athâ côit zarathushtrô daęvâish sarem vyâmrvîtâ vîspaęshű ferashnaęshű vîspaęshű hańjamanaęshű ýâish aperesaętem mazdĺscâ zarathushtrascâ, athâ azęmcît ýô mazdayasnô zarathushtrish daęvâish sarem vîmruyę ýathâ anâish vyâmrvîtâ ýę ashavâ zarathushtrô.
7. ýâ varanâ âpô ýâ varanâ urvarĺ ýâ varanâ gâush hudĺ ýâ varanô ahurô mazdĺ ýę găm adâ ýę narem ashavanem ýâ varanô as zarathushtrô ýâ varanô kavâ vîshtâspô ýâvaranâ ferashaoshtrâ jâmâspâ ýâ varanô kascît saoshyańtăm haithyâvarezăm ashâunăm tâ varenâcâ tkaęshâcâ mazdayasnô ahmî!
8. mazdayasnô zarathushtrish fravarânę âstűtascâ fravaretascâ, âstuyę humatem manô âstuyę hűxtem vacô âstuyę hvarshtem shyaothanem.
9. âstuyę daęnăm mâzdayasnîm fraspâyaoxedhrăm nidhâsnaithishem hvaętvadathăm ashaonîm ýâ hâitinămcâ bűshyeińtinămcâ mazishtâcâ vahishtâcâ sraęshtâcâ ýâ âhűirish zarathushtrish, ahurâi mazdâi vîspâ vohű cinahmî. aęshâ astî daęnayĺ mâzdayasnôish âstűitish!
1. "I glorify good thoughts, good words, and good deeds for my thinking, speaking, and working. I approve all good thoughts, good words, and good deeds. I discard all bad thoughts, bad words, and bad deeds.
2. " Progressive immortals, I dedicate to you my reverence and love with my thoughts, words and life; rather with my very body and soul.
3. "1 do hereby eliminate the false gods. I do hereby choose for myself to be a worshiper of the Wise One, a Zoroastrian, void of false gods and a believer in the Divine Doctrine. I am a praiser of the progressive immortals, an adorer of the progressive immortals. I attribute all that is good to Lord Wise, the Good, endued with Goodness. He is righteous, glorious, and majestic. From Him are the best things; from Him is the living world; from Him righteousness and light, and from Him emanate the lights with bliss.
4. "1 do hereby choose the progressive serenity for myself. May it be mine. I shall cleanse the world from theft and violence. I shall guard the home of the worshipers of the Wise One against harm and destruction.
5. "1 shall give the wise people, who live on this earth with their cattle, full freedom of movement. With a prayer of righteous sincerity, I declare that I shall not rise to harm and destroy the home of the worshipers of the Wise One, and I do not intend to hurt any body or soul.
6. "1 renounce the wicked, no-good, unrighteous, evil genius gods. I renounce the very false, very rotten, very wicked false gods and their devotees. I renounce sorcerers and their devotees. I renounce each and every mental malady and physical ailment. I renounce these falsities and malignities in thoughts, words, and deeds, in my very essence.
7. "This is what Omniscient God wished to show Zarathushtra in all the consultations and communions the two had.
8. "This is how Zarathushtra wished to renounce the false gods in all the consultations and communions the two had. I, too, a worshiper of the Wise One and a Zoroastrian, renounce the false gods, just as the Righteous Zarathushtra did.
9. "With conviction in waters, with conviction in plants, with conviction in the bountiful world; with conviction in God Wise who created the living world and the righteous man--the conviction Zarathushtra had, the conviction King Vishtaspa had, the conviction Ferashaoshtra and Jamaspa had, and the conviction any of the truth-practicing righteous beneficents have, it is with the same conviction and doctrine that am a worshiper of the Wise One.
10. "1, with my appreciations and convictions, choose for myself to be a worshiper of the Wise One and Zoroastrian, appreciate good thoughts, appreciate good words, and appreciate good deeds.
11. "I appreciate the Good Religion of worshiping the Wise One which overthrows yokes yet sheaths swords, teaches self-reliance, and is righteous. Therefore, of the religions that have been and that shall be, this is the greatest, best, and sublimest. It is divine and Zoroastrian. I do attribute all good to God Wise."
(Yasna 12: 1-11)
The last two stanzas (l0 and 11) are considered to be the main formula of the "Choice of Religion." It is this formula that forms the culmination point of one's decision, the turning point in life, the "Great Event."
A NOTE on the Later Avestan Age
The period called the Later Avestan age followed the Gathic period. It is estimated to have begun some three hundred years after Zarathushtra. Although the texts on initiation of this period are also as scanty as those in the Gathic period, we can see the initiation has taken a more institutionalized form.
Vaetha Nask, an Avestan text surviving in fragments says that if a person of alien faith, to whom the Good Religion of Mazda-worship appears agreeable, wants to loin the Fellowship by accepting the principles of Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds, Zoroastrians should admit him when he makes the necessary vow. Such a person then stands equal to any other Zoroastrian. A feast and a final recitation of the Gathas follow the declaration by the initiate.
By this time, the religion had spread to almost all the lands of the Aryans. The number of children born by Zoroastrian parents and who were reaching the majority age of fifteen was also of great significance when compared to the number of those embracing the religion. We see that Tir Yasht, an Avestan poem eulogizing the rain star Tishtrya (Sirius) says that fifteen is the age for a youth, full of vigor and fervor, to be inverted for the first time with a girdle. The Vendidad, a late Avestan book of purification and hygiene, warns that a man or woman of fifteen years walking without the sacred girdle and the shirt would fall an easy prey to demons and would become instrumental in destroying the righteous world. It shows the concern the elders had about their youth assuming their duties to God and to society by having their initiation performed at the appropriate age.
Thus the old texts provide enough information on the open ended age of initiation, as well as acceptance of adults from alien cults and religions and young people born in Zoroastrian families as community members after the initiation had been performed.
Pahlavi and Persian Scriptures on Initiation
The composition of the Pahlavi literature dates from as early as the Parthian period (approximately 3rd century BC). However, the bulk of the literature belongs to the 9th century CE, an era during which there was a temporary renaissance and certain Zoroastrian scholars found an opportunity to reflect on whatever they could salvage from the devastation that followed the Arab conquest of Iran and the conversion of large numbers of Iranians to Islam. Most of the Avesta pieces cited earlier have their Pahlavi translations and commentaries. The commentaries elaborate certain points and sometimes give different opinions of more than one authority on a point, generally concerning a customary practice of a ritual.
Fifteen years remained the age for majority, but with two reservations. Shâyast ne Shâyast, quoting an Avestan source, says that the nine months in a mother's womb are to be counted and, therefore, the initiation ceremony should take place on the day the child is fourteen years and three months old. While translating an Avestan quotation, Vichikard-i Dînîk adds that the initiation could take place at the age of seven.
Although emphasizing that a person of fifteen must not go without a shirt and girdle, the extant Pahlavi writings appear to take the initiation ceremony, whether for a growing youth or an adult desiring to join the fellowship, for granted. Nevertheless, the initiation is a must for both the sexes, because "man and woman are equal in the good work (of initiation), ... there is no good work more ample than ... performing the initiation ceremony." Shayast ne Shayast writes: a man of fifteen years, and a son and brother of Mazdayasnians, who undergoes penitence and purification rites and learns to chant the five Gathas, should have the initiation ceremony performed in order to become a mature youth.
From the "rivâyat" brought from Iran about 500 years ago, by Nariman Hoshang an Indian merchant, we learn that should indentured boys and girls of Indian Zoroastrians "have faith in the Good Religion, then it is proper to have them invested with koshti."
There is no indication anywhere in the Zoroastrian scriptures against acceptance into the Zoroastrian fellowship of mature individuals who sincerely wish to follow the teachings of Zarathushtra. This is a very significant point, because as a general rule, closed societies take serious precautions to save the community by issuing more negative directives of "don't do this" and "don't do that, " and less positive directives of "do this" and "do that". Therefore, were acceptance a taboo in the Zoroastrian religion, one should have seen several empathetic commandments of "Do not accept any person of alien faith into the Good Religion, " and "Never marry a person of alien faith."
PONDERING POINTS: Since the the above text of Choice of Religion provokes some deep thoughts in one mind, I would leave it to the readers to contemplate on it and see how many pondering points they find. I have left it to the reader for one full week and will be pleased to discuss to respond on Z-List any points raised on the subject. Let us stimulate a subject which relates once final decision to choose the Good Religion of Zarathushtra.
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