It is probably the oldest revealed religion in the world. It was the most important faith for at least a thousand years - five hundred years before and five hundred years after Christ - and the most prevalent religion during the time of Christ.
It was once the state religion of the world’s most powerful empire, in fact, the first transnational empire in recorded history which spanned from Africa to Europe and from Central Asia to India. It was the first religion to clearly teach the doctrines of individual judgment, Heaven and Hell, the concept of Satan, the future resurrection of the body, the functioning of Angels and Evil spirits, the general Last Judgment and life everlasting for the reunited soul, which have now become familiar articles of faith to much of mankind through Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It first gave to mankind a well-defined code of conduct - practical do’s and don’ts - bereft of rituals and austerities, towards attainment of his glorious mission on earth and eternal illuminated life thereafter. Yet it is also a religion that was driven from its native land, lost all political influence, survived through debilitating circumstances in different regions under diverse rulers, and is professed now by only a handful of earnest and fervent followers (who may be numerically small but possess considerable economic and cultural influence) and may be on the verge of extinction. All this and more is what makes Zoroastrianism so fascinating.
This unique religion, established by the great Prophet, poet and philosopher Zarathushtra, even after three millennia, is still illuminating hearts and mesmerizing minds because of, firstly, its profound philosophy solidly based on the eternal truths of Righteousness, Morality and Love; secondly, the missionary zeal with which its dynamic founder propagated the timeless treasure of precious wisdom revealed to him directly by Ahura Mazda, the Supreme Creator; and thirdly, the unhesitating fervor with which the small but significant community of its practitioners (who have the highest literacy rate in India and are present worldwide) profess and practice their faith. When you read the cover story of this issue, we are sure you will gain a new insight into this dynamic religion.
You will learn of the striking commonality between this ancient Aryan religion and the Sanathana Dharma (of Vedic times) that Swami often talks about. Be it belief in one Supreme Creator, revering elements of nature, the law of Karma, the importance of Namasmarana (chanting the Lord’s name), the emphasis on righteousness or the remarkable similarity of the Avestan language (in which most original Zoroastrian scriptures exist) to Sanskrit, and social customs and practices which synchronize with ancient Indian traditions – there are innumerable such fascinating facets which make Zoroastrianism so special and of interest to all seekers of the truth.
The philosophy of a good life in this religion is based on three essential pillars, “Homaato, Hokhto, Hovarasht,” or, “Good thoughts, good words and good deeds,” just as Swami has been tirelessly teaching us for decades. Zarathushtra [literally, "He of the Golden Light”] ignited the flame of righteousness and inspired his followers to lead a life of purity, like their symbol, fire, which is always pure and bright. He encouraged humankind to take life as a sacred challenge and with the strength of their inner fire fight Angra Mainyu (the Evil spirit, representing immoral tendencies) just as Swami says: “Face the Devil, Fight Till the End, and Finish the Game.” Zarathustra Himself was an indomitable spiritual warrior and God’s chosen messenger. And if Zoroastrianism survives till this day in spite of adverse and challenging circumstances, it is because he remains a colossus of strength and inspiration for millions. It is to pay tribute to this Golden Messenger of God during this month of his advent and to celebrate this enigmatic religion that we have chosen Zoroastrian for our cover story in this issue.
If one studies the whole of Zend-Avesta (the Zoroastrian Bible), two concepts which pop up again and again with vigor and emphasis are Purity and Perseverance. “Purity is all the strength that man needs,” Swami says. When you read in this issue how Sai devotees from Singapore risked their lives and safety to venture into inaccessible regions of Laos to provide for the wellbeing of poor and neglected villagers, or how the zeal and dedication of the Sai Youth of Hyderabad has transformed the lives of innumerable high school dropouts through their innovative approach to service, and how Sai Human Values has enlightened young minds throughout the Islamic nation of Oman, you will see how purity and perseverance can uplift our world.
This purity of feeling can also be seen in the hundreds of Japanese Youth, the large contingent of young Indonesian Sai soldiers, the engaging children from the Sathya Sai School of Canada and the solemn assembly of Buddhist monks – all of whom presented lovely programmes during the recently concluded Guru Poornima celebrations. You will find extensive reports of all this with lots of pictures in our Prashanti Diary.
While the month of July was exciting in Prashanti Nilayam, the coming month will be nothing less than awesome. A very powerful and potent Yagnam (sacrifice) called the “Ati Rudra Maha Yagam” will be presided over by Swami Himself for 11 days, from August 9th through the 20th. What is so significant about it and why is Swami conducting it? How is it going to affect the world? For answers to these profound questions, stay tuned for the next issue’s cover story.
Where there is purity, happiness follows like a shadow. To live in that undisturbed state of contentment and bliss, let’s sacrifice all our impurities in the inner fire of our hearts and emerge as great, grand and godly. Then our life will truly become the blissful journey of pure love exactly the way Swami wishes it to be for all of us.
In Sai Service,