Parsi Theosophy

Doctrines Parsi theosophical doctrines emphasize the importance of preserving Zoroastrianism for its occult significance, particularly the use of the ancient Avestan language in prayers. The combination of scientific terms with traditional theological ideas allows Zoroastrianism to be expressed in modern terms without drastically altering it. Parsi theosophists promote the belief in a personal God. They assert that the entire Avesta should be interpreted metaphorically to regain confidence in the religious texts. Their aim is to rediscover the key to understanding the Avesta. The foremost exponent of the movement, K.S. Dabu, professes belief in reincarnation and a priestly interpretative role in order to reveal the secrets of the occult world.

History As a movement, Parsi theosophy owes its origins to the Theosophical Society, an institution founded in 1875 in New York by Madame Helena Blavatsky and Colonel Henry Steel Olcott. Its aim was to further the cause of world harmony, study world religions and investigate spirituality throughout the world. Olcott himself visited Bombay in 1885. He was profoundly impressed by the Parsi faith and Parsi ritual, and impressed upon the Parsis the need to preserve their rituals in their exact form so as to lose none of their occult meaning. As John Hinnells has commented (1978, p. 31), the Parsis were attracted to theosophy from its inception, and theosophical terms and explanations are still in common usage. The movement was a response to reformist criticism and interpretation, and in the beginning appealed mainly to educated Parsis who were most aware of the reformist debate and the effect it was having on the community. To spread their ideas Parsi theosophists distributed books and pamphlets arguing that theosophy had been taught, esoterically, by Zoroaster himself, whom they claim was a divine being.

Symbols The Parsi theosophical emphasis on ritual has not left it unchanged. Zoroastrian observances have been adapted by creating new symbolic rites to be practised in Parsi homes. These new rites are laden with occult meaning. Pseudo-scientific terms are used. For instance, the rituals of the fire cult are interpreted as being designed to create 'pyro-electricity'.

Adherents There are no specific figures for the number of adherents of this movement.

Main Centre
 Bombay, India.