According to Zoroastrian teachings the material world is the battlefield. and life a battle between the forces of good and evil. Man has to make his head-way in everyday life through these contending forces, and for that the Zoroastrian religion has laid down some guidelines whereby he can fight the forces of Darkness and Wrong.
The moment a Zoroastrian steps down from his bed in the morning, he should recite an Ashem Vohu and praise righteousness. In the morning the mind is fresh while rising from bed and susceptible to noble thoughts. It is, therefore, the opportune time to impress upon it the thought of righteousness which he should try to associate with all his daily activities. It is a sort of autosuggestion which plays an important part in improving one's conduct.
Thereafter, he should wash his hands and putting on clothes, enkindle the household fire, which, as stated in the Vendidad, is depicted as saying "O master of the house, rise up, put on clothes, wash thy hands, seek the fuel, bring it before me, and enkindle me". By having a look at the burning fire in the morning one is animated to pass the whole day in some useful activities, and earn one's food through honest means.
A Zoroastrian should begin his day by prayer which gives him moral courage in his everyday struggle of life, and protects his mind from falling a prey to false temptations in day-to-day affairs. It strengthens his soul, and it is the soulforce which helps him surmount difficulties and problems which arise, now and then, in the course of life.
Every Zoroastrian must give due place in his everyday life to honest work and industry. Zoroastrian religion has always extolled industrious life, nay, labour is even equated with righteousness, for it is said in the Vendidad, "who causes corn to be sown, causes righteousness to be practised". Agriculture requires very hard work, and it is always praised in the Zoroastrian religion. Again, in the Gathas it is said that there are two paths laid down - one for the worker and the other for him who does not work and Armaiti, the guardian angel of the earth, chose the industrious workman, and not the workless one.
Zoroastrian religion lays stress on the purity of mind which, among other things, can be effected by being engaged in some activity or the other. When busy with some work, evil thoughts are not likely to get hold of one's mind. But an idle mind, on the other hand is "Satan's workshop", which gives rise to thoughts that sometimes work wide-spread havoc. Idlers, more often, turn into anti-social elements harassing other members of society.
Industry also leads to progress which is extrolled by the religion of Zarathushtra. Lethargy leads to retrogression.
An industrious person can improve his lot as well as that of his family. He stands on his feet and is not dependent on others for their favour.
Once a very generous man named Hatim Tai had arranged a feast for the people of a particular village. He was going to that village on the day of the feast when he saw a woodcutter cutting wood from a tree. Hatim Tai asked him whether he knew that there was a feast for all the people of the village, so why he should take the trouble of cutting wood and selling it to earn his living for that day. To him the woodcutter replied, "He, who earns his bread through industry, need not go under the obligation of Hatim Tai".
A Zoroastrian is enjoined to rise up early from bed and get himself engaged in some useful activity. It is said in the Vendidad that he who rises up from bed first in the early morning goes to the best existence. The purpose of saying this is that one who rises up early in the morning and busies himself with some useful activity or the other, becomes happy in life. It does not behove a Zoroastrian to rise up late in the morning. This particular practice, enjoined by the Zoroastrian religion, testifies to the truth of that well-known saying "Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise".
Being industrious is not enough. A true Zoroastrian must be honest in his dealings with others in day-to-day life. It is expressly stated in the Gathas that there is no harm in leading an honest life. Even a little obtained through honest industry, gives one real peace of mind, whereas huge wealth amassed through dishonest means makes one's life miserable, insofar as one is always worried, day and night, to devise ways and means to preserve the ill-gotten wealth. It is said that when Dadabhai Naoroji went to England for business, he, first sustained heavy losses because of his honesty, yet he never in his life became dishonest. An English writer has rightly observed "No man is bound to be rich or great, - no, nor to be wise; but every man is bound to be honest."
Besides being industrious and honest a Zoroastrian is enjoined not to lose an opportunity in his every day life for doing meritorious deeds which will ultimately help him redeem his soul. A true Zoroastrian lives not only for himself and his family but also for others. So, he must always be in search of some work which helps alleviate the sufferings of the poor.
Ervad Ratanshah R. Motafram
Deen Parast magazine.