This article studies the heritage of the traditional hadvaid in the Parsi-Zoroastrian community and shows how this tradition pre-dates what the world today knows as chiropractic. The article concludes with some interesting, first-hand anecdotes and a background on two of the famed and perhaps the greatest exponents of the Parsi-Zoroastrian hadvaid tradition.
Dr. Kayomarz Patel
NAMAH | Volume 21 | Issue 3 | 15th October 2013
“In numbers, Parsis are beneath contempt, but in contribution, beyond compare … (1)”
The traditional Parsi-Zoroastrian hadvaid is a shining example of this immortal quote with reference to the minuscule Parsi Zoroastrian community, made by none other than Mahatma Gandhi in one of his speeches, way back in 1924.
Very similar to a chiropractor, the traditional Parsi-Zoroastrian hadvaidis a chiropractic healer who is gifted or skilled in the art and science of manipulative therapy to treat disorders pertaining to the bones and nerves in the human body. It would be safe to say that a traditional Parsi-Zoroastrian hadvaid is a non-DC (Doctor of Chiropractic)-designated chiropractor.
Tracing the hadvaid tradition right from the pre-Gāthic1 times of the Prophet, Spitaman Asho Zarathushtra who propounded Zoroastrianism in ancient Persia or what’s today’s Iran and parts of Russia, the article explains how this tradition evolved since the early/late 19th century in India in the minuscule Parsi-Zoroastrian community.
In trying to provide a historical perspective on the same, the author also tries to trace the origin of the term hadvaid and bring out many of the similarities between the traditional hadvaid and the professionally qualified DC of today.
Perhaps the earliest known record of the traditional Parsi-Zoroastrianhadvaid may well have been the founder of Zoroastrianism, the Prophet, Asho Zarathushtra. Legend has it that it was only Asho Zarathushtra who, through the power of manthravani or prayer and touch, was able to miraculously cure the favourite horse of King Vishtaspa of some mysterious illness that had caused it to simply collapse.
Literally translated from Gujarati, the mother-tongue of the Parsi-Zoroastrians in India, it means a “bone-doctor” (Had = bone and vaid = ‘doctor’). Another anglicised name by which the traditional Parsi-Zoroastrian hadvaid is also known is ‘bonesetter’.
A hadvaid is primarily a ‘gifted’ chiropractic healer, skilled in the ‘art’ of bone-setting, who through his highly evolved sense of touch, is able to diagnose and cure disorders pertaining to the bones and the nerves of a human body without surgery, very much how a classical chiropractor does. Like a chiropractor, a hadvaid too sets, adjusts or manipulates the joints or the vertebrae in the spine to set right a disorder, using his hands or his foot (for spinal manipulations).
The traditional Parsi-Zoroastrian hadvaid relies on a highly developed sense of touch. Relying on the evidence of his ‘touch’ and ‘feel’, thehadvaid palpates the muscles and ligaments of the patient to understand the problem and uses manipulation to set bones into position or heal fractures. In the case of some hadvaids, this may be followed by massage therapy where indicated or even anti-inflammatory applications of poultices or laeps as is the case with some hadvaidss even today.
Earlier, hadvaidss did not depend too much on oral medicines. But as they evolved, some began to supplement their treatment with time-tested oils, balms and homeopathic or AAyurvedic medicines.
Depending on individual circumstances, a traditional Parsi-Zoroastrianhadvaid may treat patients afflicted with spinal disorders such as back pain, lumbago, sciatica, spondolysis, slipped disc, etc. or conditions like rheumatism, arthritis or maybe even some types of dislocations / fractures and in rare cases, even paralysis or polio. The hadvaid’s’s success rate — as many of the beneficiaries of a traditional Parsi-Zoroastrian hadvaid’s’s services would testify — is rather high.
So, to put the work of the traditional Parsi-Zoroastrian hadvaid in proper perspective in the 21st century, he is essentially what the world today knows as a chiropractor.
What is chiropractic?
In 2005, The World Health Organisation (WHO), in its Guidelines on Chiropractic,(2) defined it as:
“A health care profession concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of the neuro-musculo-skeletal system and the effects of these disorders on general health. There is an emphasis on manual techniques, including joint-adjustment and/or manipulation with a particular focus on subluxations.”
Before the WHO came up with this definition for chiropractic, the dictionary definition of chiropractic, approved by the assembly of theWorld Federation of Chiropractic (3), the Chiropractic profession’s global governing body convened at Auckland, New Zealand on May 19, 1999 defined chiropractic as follows:
“A health profession concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, and the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health. There is an emphasis on manual treatments including spinal manipulation or adjustment.”
Thus it will be seen from the above definitions of modern-day chiropractic, that ‘manual adjustment’ or manipulation of the joints or the spine form the crux of chiropractic which is essentially what a traditional Parsi-Zoroastrian hadvaid does.
Therefore, it would not be incorrect to state that the practice of a traditional Parsi-Zoroastrian hadvaid, in many ways closely resembles that of a chiropractor in that both use similar techniques of manual adjustment/manipulation to treat specific disorders of the bones/nerves of the human body.
History of chiropractic
Modern-day chiropractic originated in 1895 in the USA. The term ‘chiropractic’ was coined by D.D. Palmer, who was born in Canada and who later migrated to the US. He is widely regarded as the founder of modern chiropractic. The adjustments which he called ‘hand treatments’ led him to derive the term ‘chiropractic’- from the Greek words, cheiros= ‘hand‘ and practic = ‘the practice or operation of‘.
Today’s chiropractors, especially in developed countries such as the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and parts of Europe, are designated as DC or Doctor of Chiropractic after ‘studying’ to become a chiropractor at accredited chiropractic college.
However, it is interesting and important to note that the founder of chiropractic was himself not a DC.
So in that sense, while a traditional Parsi-Zoroastrian hadvaid is, like Palmer, a chiropractor, he need not necessarily be a DC. Similarly, a duly trained, traditional Parsi-Zoroastrian hadvaid is also skilled at performing manual adjustments or manipulations of the joints, just like a DC.
“The practice of chiropractic includes a moral obligation and a religious duty”,
wrote Palmer (4) in his book, The Chiropractor. This shows the nobility of the profession as envisaged by its founder, traces of which are still evident in the practice of the traditional Parsi-Zoroastrian hadvaid.
But since its inception in 1895, over the last century and more, chiropractic, as envisaged by Palmer and as it exists today with all its advancements and regulations, has undergone a sea-change with commercial consideration and regulation of the profession becoming the cornerstones of a chiropractic practice whereas the practice of the traditional Parsi Zoroastrian hadvaid by virtue of its simplicity, its charitable outlook, its competence and safety may be described as being more aligned to Palmer’s philosophy of chiropractic.
Following the period of apprenticeship that a hadvaid goes through (which in most cases would be the equivalent of or perhaps even more than the chiropractic degree courses in many chiropractic colleges) means that he would, in most cases, be as skilled as – if not more – than a qualified DC. To clarify, this is not to suggest that a traditional Parsi-Zoroastrian hadvaid might, in any way, be superior to a DC or vice-versa. Both have an important and unique role to play. Both do wonderful work in relieving patients of pain without surgery. Like the traditional Parsi-Zoroastrian hadvaid, there are several instances of DCs too giving of their time and effort to serve society at large.
It is about time the recently formed Indian Association of Chiropractic Doctors, which does not have a single indigenous chiropractor as its member (their current membership comprises mainly foreigners or foreign-educated Indian DCs), recognised the traditional Parsi-Zoroastrian hadvaidss as the first chiropractors in India and admited them as members. Thus, at least in an Indian context, the traditional Parsi-Zoroastrian hadvaid and the chiropractor would be treated at par and be able to work in a unified manner.
An Introductory audio-visual course for all ages above 21 years.
by Er. Dr. Ramiyar P. Karanjia
Covering the topics Ahura Mazda — Zarathushtra — Religion — Philosophy — Practices -Man – Prayers & Kasti
Nine sessions, every Wednesday from 29th Oct. to 24th Dec. 2014 (7:15 to 8:30 pm.)
At Dadar Athornan Institute (Madressa) Annexe (2nd Flr).
Course Fees: Rs. 1,000/-
For Registration SMS: TZWL with your name on 9819914133 / 9833177692.
Direct entry on day of course, seats permitting
(Fees to be paid on the day of the course).
Courtesy : Firdosh Tolat
In the 19th century, young Parsi women were dying to give birth…literally. Back then, hospitals were unheard of and new mothers would be consigned to squalid ground floor rooms that were badly ventilated and unsanitary. Infant and maternal mortality rates were high. In 1895 though, that was to change. A committee of Parsi luminaries including Sorabji Shapurji Bengali, Sorabji Framji Patel, Nusserwanji Jehangir Wadia, Jamsetjee Nusserwanji Tata and Dr. Tehmulji Nariman came together to construct one of one of Mumbai’s first maternity hospitals—a sure sign of the community’s tentative progressiveness.
The architect commissioned for the project was Muncherji Marzban, star of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. The building was styled in the Gothic Revival manner with its buff stone walls glowering over manicured lawns. Everyone agreed that it was a handsome building, as hip in its time as today’s glass-fronted cement blocks. It was designed to be sanitary and modern and quickly turned into a success. The rooms were soon filled with googly-eyed babies squalling in the arms of their nurses, with weary mothers resting in crisp hospital beds for more than a month.
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Why Juddins Are Not Permitted to Enter Our Consecrated Fire Temples:
by: Pervin J. Mistry
It is often asked, if Christians allow non-Christians to enter their churches and Muslims allow non-Muslims to enter their mosques, why cannot Parsi-Irani Zarathushtis permit juddins to enter our consecrated Fire Temples such as Agiaries and Atash-Behrams?
First of all, this assertion itself is wrong! For example, the Muslims do not allow any non-Muslims to enter Mecca or their sacred mosques where they conduct their communal prayers/rituals. Even the different sects, such as the Sunnis do not allow the Shi’is to enter their mosques and vice-versa! The Christians as well do not permit the tourists to go beyond a certain demarcation cordoned off from the rest of the St. Peter’s at Vatican and at the other orthodox Churches! The Jews also do not permit any Gentiles (non-Jews) or any Reformist Jews to enter their synagogues. The Hindus do not permit any intermarried Hindus or any non-Hindus to enter their consecrated Temples, the prime example being the Jagannath Temple at Puri! Therefore, we are not the only religious community who has rules of admission for entry into our consecrated Fire Temples!
Even a Parsi-Irani Zarathushti is barred from entry into our own Fire Temples due to certain requisite rules of purity, for both men as well as women! So why do some community members not understand that every religion has certain revealed set of rules which are meant for the followers to follow and obey, and if any detractor does not wish to subscribe to these mandated rules, why cannot such a rebel convert to any other religion of his/her own choice or set up a new cult instead of dragging the community down the path of disobedience? Let us try and sort out the reasons why certain spiritual laws are required to safeguard the continuity of spiritual disciplines which are indispensable for the survival of a specific religious community.
In our religion we talk about “pavi”, “kash”, “pavikat”, etc. In English, we refer to these as “spiritual force-field”. A “spiritual force-field” is an energy field around an object. “Pav” means to “make pure” and therefore, a “pavi” is an unseen spiritual perimeter wherein nothing impure can enter due to the constant upkeep of certain rituals performed within. If the “pavi” is not maintained the strength weakens. “Kash” means the same. It indicates a circle or a boundary. Specifically, in connection to the issue being discussed, it means to draw a talismanic circle while performing certain rituals wherein the electro-magnetic forces do their work within the marked area!
How is this talismanic circle generated? It is so formed through an elaborate process of “consecration” by making the marked area sacred or “holy”! The Mobed Sahebs undergo a strict ritual of “barshnoom” (ritual ablution) of nine days. Then they start reciting the sacred Yasna and Vendidad rituals after drawing a boundary around the ritual area. Every Agiary and Atash-Behrams has furrows cut into the stone floors. These were consecrated when an Agiary or an Atash-Behram makaan was constructed. Additionally, more special consecration processes/rituals were performed separately for the Atash Padshah Saheb who is enthroned usually within the 9 marked “kash” or “pavi” beginning from the stone hindora on which the Padshah is enthroned!
If, when the Mobed Sahebs recite the rituals after observing all the mandated rules of purity, in reality, a strong spiritual force-field is created within the area. Can we see this force-field? No, not with our physical eyes because we can see only the visible portion of the light spectrum! Our eyes are not able to see the entire spectrum which includes the ultra-violet and infra-red light. But today, when people talk of “atoms’ and the “God Particle”, do they really see an atom or the “God Particle”? No – they only look for evidence that these exist! These are also beyond the scope of physical science and yet, following physicists’ theories, scientists believe in “parallel” Universes which are unseen and which is the origin of everything physical! Scientists believe that behind every atom, there is something spiritual that propels it and sustains it, which some call Super Intelligence! Whose Super Intelligence it is or from where this Intelligence comes, has yet to be discovered by science! Still, some of our community members will believe in and talk of the atoms and the God Particle as if they know these exist in reality but when the same principle applies to our rituals and religion, they wish to have physical proof!
It is preposterous not to have faith in the teachings of our Paigambar Saheb who is a Yazad, a Divine Being, an Immortal Spiritual Being, who is acquainted with both the seen as well as the unseen Universes! HE has given us the Great Mazdayasni Zarathushti Din which is super-scientific; it is the Science of all Sciences! Besides the many spiritual disciplines to attain to Frashogard, HE has also taught us the laws of “consecration”! To create an electro-magnetic circuit – within our Agiaries and Atash-behrams and to keep these spiritual “force-fields” recharged at all times, HE has taught us to use the natural energies working all around us and within us through Nature! Our Laws are all based on the Immutable Laws of Asha, meaning “Nature”!
Nature is full of different energies. Just as Light, as an energy, is a part of the electro-magnetic spectrum, the energy of Sound working in Nature also has its decibels. Energy, being Spirit or non-physical, can never be destroyed but it can be transformed into other different energies. An Oscilloscope represents sound as light patterns because these are both energies.
In our rituals we use both these energies of Light (Fire) and Sound (Manthravani/staot). Plus we also use water which is a good conductor of electro-magnetic energy; human magnetism of the ritually purified priests, ceremonial metallic implements which are also good conductors of electricity, and the earth itself on which the ritual is performed plus the stone hindora on which the afarganiyu is placed, are conductors of the electro-magnetic forces as well. As a result, a constant force-field is activated within our Agiaries and Atash-Behrams.
Being created with the use of our unique manthravani, atash which too is derived from previous different Zarathushti establishments, we maintain our consecrated area according to the magnetism created specifically to suit the spiritual needs of a Soul who is born of both Zarathushti parents who are from the same Parsi-Irani lineage preserved over thousands of years! The genes, the specific traits, are ingrained within our DNA. We respond to the specific manthavani, to the wavelength of the specific Light (Fire) and to all the rituals which our previous generations have followed and we follow the continuity! Juddins have their own different ways of worship, their own prayers, and their own spiritual strengths. Nature itself is diverse and so is humanity! If a juddin enters our consecrated places, there is disturbance of the energy which we cannot see but then it does not mean such spiritual reaction does not take place. Because Religion is spiritual, it has to be taken on faith and obeyed with complete dedication. If we do not see the spiritual side of nature, it does not mean such spiritual influences do not exist. It would not be very “scientific” or “educated” to deny the unseen forces of the Divine Universe we live in!
Please, please, out of ignorance do NOT destroy our “kash” by letting juddins infiltrate the sacred area where they should not. Intermarried couples must also realize that once they are married and cohabit with a juddin, they lose their original Parsi-Irani Zarathushti “khoreh” and their entry also harms the sacred “kash” inside our consecrated places of worship! This is not nonsense, in fact in today’s nuclear age, such things as “force-fields”, even the kids know of! But our Parsi brethren who wish to alter spiritual disciplines according to “likes” and “what they want” show a pathetic absence of wisdom and knowledge of the rules of Nature!