International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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15th World Vegetarian Congress 1957
Delhi/Bombay/Madras/Calcutta, India


ZOROASTRIANISM
DASTUR KHURSHED. D. DABU, M.A .
(F.T.S. High Priest Wadiaj AtashBeheram Bombay)

(1) According to the tenets of Zoroastrianism, a corpse is untouchable. It defiles men and materials. It is a sin to bring it near fire - much worse to cook any corrupt flesh.

(2) Zoroaster enjoined care of animals for various reasons :

  1. Compassion to dumb animals,
  2. Their great value in agriculture,
  3. Their contribution to human comfort and diet (milk products, etc.)
  4. Their great service as watch-dogs or horses required by soldiers and travellers.

(3) The Sacred Hymna (Gathas) declare it a sin to annoy or persecute animals even for games.

(4) It is pointed out that the Archangel Beheman (Bahman), who presides over the entire animal kingdom is highly displeased when men ill-treat animals. He is the Lord of Heaven, and naturally those who are cruel to dumb animals would be debarred from entry into that realm.

(5) It is pointed out that God created vegetables and water for men's consumption.

(6) There is a narrative of a sacred ritual meant to propitiate angels but through some oversight defiling animals flesh had become mixed with it. The holy Saint saw demons attracted to the scene as result of such neglect.

(7) All offerings to God have to be absolutely clean and pure. Animal sacrifices are prohibited by Zoroaster.

(8) Zoroaster passed ten years in a mountain cave in Iran, during His retreat for deep contemplation, and it is pointed out that He lived on bread and milk supplied by a shepherd.

(9) While the Prophet was a child He was spirited away by His enemies. He was placed where He should have been trampled under the hooves of cows and horses ; but the child was saved by one of the cows standing as a protecting guardian. On another occasion, while the child was placed near a wolves' lair, some she-goats stood nearby to feed the child until his mother arrived. Zoroaster was thus under mighty obligation to such dumb friends that had protected Him.

(10) Slaughter-houses are considered as centres of evil magnetism and no holy man can approach within three steps from the defiling place and its unclean aura Special baths and other purificatory measures are prescribed for people who carry corpses.

(11) Those Parsis who habitually take meat abstain from such diet, for four days in a month, and for an entire month in a year. This abstinence is supposed to bring merit. It is further pointed out that the Magi abstained from meat to preserve their purity.

(12) Vegetables have life but no mind or feelings. Besides taking a small part of a tree does not kill it. Fruits when ripe are automatically separated from a branch, and offered to men and animals as food. A tree can offer hundreds of fruits without dying.

(13) Vegetable diet is more substantial and health-preserving (Meat has over 70 per cent of water and waste products). Meat stimulates gross passions in men and vitiates the blood-stream, rendering the brain unfit for serious spiritual effort.

(14) It is the essence of humanity to show compassion all around and to live an innocent life Without slaughtering those who are evolving. "Kill not for pity's sake, lest ye slay the meanest thing upon its upward way." (Edwin Arnold)

(15) A Zoroastrian Book, "Desatir" depicts a tale of animals accusing men of s cruelty saying," We beasts are more innocent, but-we learned cruelty from men's hard-hearted behaviour. We do not hurt Saints who live in our midst in jungles. We have been chased and persecuted till me have learned to be men's enemies." An English poet echoes the same idea "A bird at a river-side remains calm and unperturbed even when a charging bull is rushing towards it, but takes fright on the approach of a human being."

(16) The man whose hand is stained with the blood of an innocent animal has no right to hold it up in prayer to God asking for mercy. The heart that cannot be moved to deep pity at the sight of an animal being slaughtered must have been hardened as stone. All humanitarians must preach the doctrine of innocent living,
so that no other life has to be sacrificed to make us live.

(18) Men have no right to take life which they cannot create. The Law of the Jungle (the Struggle for Life) does not apply to human beings. If man has superior intelligence, he should act as a protector and guide of those beings that are like his younger brethren. It is such atrocious conduct of men towards animals that ultimately leads to wars by hardening human hearts.'

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The great Persian poet. Firdsusi, sings in Shah Namah : "Do not crush even an ant under your unconscious foot. Verily, the ant has life, it carries its humble food to its hole. and life to it is dear."