The Zoroastrian Occult Knowledge
by Phiroz Nasarvanji Tavaria | 1971 | 160,667 words
An introduction to the mysteries of Khshnoom, an ancient occult movement. Khshnoom stands for 'Divine' or 'Spiritual' knowledge and originated from Zarathushtra. This book contains knowledge not to be found in Zoroastrian religious works. The second part contains documentaion of the life of Prophet Zarathushtra....
In olden times general education among the Parsees in India was very limited. The study of the religion was restricted to the Dasturs (high priests) and others mostly of the priestly class, who were distinguished by their observance of the strict Zoroastrian canons of purity and holiness. They interpreted Avesta through their study of Persian, Pahlavi and Sanskrit languages. Their knowledge of Persian helped them in the deciphering and translation of Pahlavi, which facilitated the study of Avesta. They had very few books. Printing was introduced much later. The people lived in tune with the religious injunctions coming from the Dasturs. Yet sometimes great controversies did arise amongst the latter. These were given the form of questions, and light was sought from the Dasturs of Iran. The expositions given by the latter have became famous as Rivayats.
With respect to these Rivayats, Mr. G. K. Nariman, an Oriental scholar in his book "Persia and Parsis" Part I (pp. 91/2) writes as follows:
"Since the advent of the Parsis from Persia for several centuries the intercourse with the old country ceased to all appearance entirely. The earliest resumption of communication dates from the 25th June, 1478 when letters were brought to Braoch from Sherfabad and Turqubad, villages in the vicinity of Yezd, by Nariman Hoshang who was deputed there by the Zoroastrians of Gujarat. It is probable that earlier missions to Iran were sent from India. But the records relating to them have perished beyond recall.
For we learn from the oldest colophon to a manuscript that Mahyar son of Mah Mihr, a Mobed from Cutch an the Indus, after a sojourn of six years in Sistan was about to return home in 1205 with a copy of the Pahlavi Vandidad and religious information which he had gathered. These communications from Persia, generally in reply to questions from India, are called Rivayats. They are... a mine of information on the religious and social customs of the Parsis of the later Mediaeval period...............Rivayat is an Arabic term, connoting... an ordinary narrative tradition......... Among the Parsis it has come to signify the opinions of any Dastur in the Middle Ages with regard to religious questions.
These opinions are incorporated in the collections called Rivayats."…."Most of these Rivayats are in Persian prose…Some of the Rivayats……..contain elaborations not to be found in the Avesta."
On P. 83 (ibid.) it is stated:
"The Rivayat period covers many centuries and gives us most important information regarding the condition of the Parsis of Persia. In this period were copied or redacted Pahlavi writings…. If all these Pahlavi texts are published and _translated, the Life of the Parsis in Persia, after exodus of a few hundred to India, will be illuminated because for several centuries the Sasanian influence most potently affected the Arab administration. It was never extinguished. It lay dormant for a period."
Vocabularies in Various Languages Prepared by Dasturs of Old
With respect to the study of Avesta although in the earlier times the Dasturs were innocent of the science of "Staota Yasna" (Law of Vibrationary colours, sound, etc.) explained by our revered Master, yet they did not regard the Avesta as a dialect. They believed there was something mysterious about it, some thing beyond comprehension. Those devout Dasturs as well as several Athravans (priests) of old were great scholars of one or more languages like Avesta, Pahlavi, Pazand, Sanskrit, Arabic and Persian. In this connection Mr. G. K. Nariman says:
"In the Rivayats we find to what extent the Dasturs prosecuted the study of Sanskrit. We see among them, as did Haug in the year 1864 at Surat, a fragment of Zend-Sanskrit vocabulary belonging to the library of Dasturji Kursetji."
(ibid. p. 85).
In like manner, the late Dastur Hoshangji Jamaspji Asa, in "An Old Pahlavi-Pazand Glossary" edited by him, and revised and enlarged by Dr. Haug, gives in his Preface (pp. xiv, xv) the names of various MSS. and publications, both small and large, in his possession including a "pahlavi-Persian Dictionary, containing about l,200 words", prepared by his late uncle Dastur Jamshed Edal, but left incomplete in consequence of his death.
"My learned friend, Dastur Peshotan of Bombay, has often mentioned a Pahlavi.Persian dictionary, prepared by his grandfather Dastur Edalji Darabji Sanjana, and has stated that it contains about 30,000 words, but I have had no opportunity for examining it, as it is not permitted to leave the bookshelves of the learned Dastur."
About one more in Arabic characters he says:
"In the library of Dastur Jamaspji Mancherji of Bombay, there is a very old Pahlavi-Persian dictionary, written in , Arabic characters, but unfortunately incomplete at both ends."
Thus those Dasturs and Athravans of early centuries conducted their private study of Avesta and Pahlavi with what extremely scanty books and other materials they possessed. It is true they could not have boasted of the modern University degrees to display their scholastic learning, yet their inspiring faith, their implicit reverence to the entire Avesta, their never flagging devotion to the religion, their close adherence to genuine "orthodoxy", their tenacious observance of the strict Zoroastrian tenets and rites of purity which constitute the very essence of the religion, and their burning zeal for the holy performance of the sacred ceremonies meant for promoting the peace and progress of the departed souls in the other world, they doubtlessly far surpassed many a so-called Dastur of today. And thanks alone to those pious and faithful Dasturs and Athravans of old, that the religion stood unsullied in India for all the twelve centuries past.