How I Came To Give Up Zoroastrianism
(Or A Short Fable About The Love Of Movies)
– Flash by Dr. Pheroze Wadia, “Chrome Sphynx Exp6” by Djoto Eschei –
My name is Pheroze Wadia and I am Parsee, a small community of about 100,000 ‘original’ Zoroastrians, descendants of refugees who escaped from ancient Persia after it was conquered by the Arabs, settled in India, mainly in Mumbai. I was brought up in an upper middle class family of seven children, all of whom were sent to Christian schools – the girls to Queen Mary High School, an institution run by English women missionaries belonging to the High Church of England; and the boys to St. Xavier’s High School, run by very liberal Spanish Jesuits. One afternoon when I (nicknamed Piloo) was around 12 years old and found myself alone with my father (Papaji), I asked him a question that was greatly worrying me for some time:
“Papaji, may I ask you a question?”
“Of course, Piloo.” he replied.
“Is it true that Christians believe that all non-Christians will go to hell.”
“I think so or at least that’s what I have been told.”
“And the Muslims, do they believe all non-Muslims will go to hell?”
“I really don’t know, Piloo.“
“What about the Buddhists?”
“I doubt it since they don’t even seem to have a proper conception of heaven and hell. I am told they believe all of mankind, after countless rebirths, will eventually find Nirvana.” To which he addef just a bit sarcastically, “Whatever that may be!”
And finally the question which so bothered me: “And, Papaji, do Zoroastrians beleve non-Zoroastrians will all go to hell?”
Horrified, Papaji relied, “No, Piloo, we don’t condemn good people to hell! We believe that all good people who have practiced the virtues of purity in thought, word, and deed, and have been honest and charitable throughout their lives, will go to heaven.”
“And what of the Zoroastrians?”
“Why, we are special, and all good Zoroastrians who in addition to practicing all the virtues, have kept all our rituals, will go to a special place in heaven.”
“What’s so special about that place, Papaji?”
“Well, for one thing, we will get to meet Zarathustra,” and with great emphasis, “A Zoroastrian can wish for no greater boon! And we will be in the company of all great Zoroastrians that have ever lived and died, for ever and ever!”
“And what about the other place, Papaji?”
“You mean the one where all the good non-Zoroastrians go?”
“Well, I believe it’s this way: If there is something or things that a person likes very much on this earth, such a person who has kept all the virtues, will get to have in that other place as much of such things as he wants, any day and every day for ever and ever, without any negative effects.”
“Papaji, I don’t get it.”
“Well, let me explain with an example. You like movies, don’t you Piloo!”
“Oh Papaji, I looooove movies!”
“So let’s suppose some non-Zoroastrian like you gets to go to the other place, he can see any movie he wants, any day he wants, everyday for ever and ever without ever feeling thirsty or hungry and without ever getting bored”
“Oh Papaji, will there be movie palaces there?”
“Of course, Piloo, remember, it’s heaven. Not only will there be movie palaces they will be equipped with all the latest techniques, including those not yet invented on earth.”
“Oh Papaji can I get to go there?”
“No, Piloo, you’re special – you’re a Zoroastrian! You will get to meet Zarathustra! And since I will be long dead before you die, you will get to meet me and you will be in the company of all those great Zoroastrians for ever and ever!”
“Oh!” I said, and there and then decided I would give up Zoroastrianism and meticulously practice all the virtues and be truthful and charitable all my life so I get to go to that other place in heaven where I can get to see any and all movies any day I want, every day for ever and ever!
Dr. Pheroze Wadia is originally from Mumbai, India, and immigrated to the US in 1962, where he pursued a PhD in Philosophy at NYU, where he met his wife, Judy, a multidisciplinary artist who was famed in the tri-state area for her large-scale mosaics. He has published widely in philosophy and religious studies, most notably on David Hume and A. J. Ayer, and his greatest interest outside of that discipline lies in film studies. He is a quintessential New York man-about-town, known far and wide in cinema houses and off-Broadway communities. He retired from teaching in 2004 and resides in Weehawken, NJ.
Elliot Schei aka Djoto Eschei is a musician and artist based in Tokyo, originally from the U.S. He writes electronic music and creates digital artwork and experimental video. His focus is on coding experimental audio & image processing algorithms from scratch, adding controlled chaos at a very low-level in order to produce music and art with unique character. Follow him on twitter @central_ganymede_bass_warriors, or on Soundcloud, Basecamp, or Facebook.