Haft Keshvar Zamin
At the end of every Niyayesh and Yasht, we pray, “Daad din beh Mazdayasnan agahi ravahi goafrangani bad, haft keshvar zamin aedun baad”. Some Zarathushtis ask, “Do these words not advocate conversion? Are we not mandated to convert other followers of other religions from all the seven ‘continents’ of the Earth to the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Religion”?
Answer: It is true that we pray these words at the end of every Yasht and Niyayesh; also in the Kerfeh Mozda prayer the words “haft keshvar zamin” appear, but the connotation regarding conversion from religion to religion is incorrect. The sentence begins with the key word “daad”, meaning the laws of the good Mazdayasni Religion! “Agahi” means wisdom (of the laws of the religion). “Ravahi” means obedience (to the laws of the religion, also to the soul or “ravan”), and “goafrangani” means praise (to sing the praises of the laws of the Religion). No fewer words have been more misunderstood and misinterpreted than these words of sublime homage to our Din!
- a) In the above sentence, “agahi” means wisdom. “Daad” means law and therefore, “agahi” or wisdom refers to the wise, spiritually progressive laws of the good Mazdayasni Religion that should be spread and increased over the seven regions of the Earth.
The most sublime and the most exalted wisdom of the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din is to convert Angre Mainyu to Spenta Mainyu (yasna 32.3), and not followers of other revealed religions. The laws of the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Religion are based on the Laws of Asha that teach the ethical conversion of converting vices to virtues and not the followers of other revealed religions. The Gathas specifically teach us to choose between the two paths of righteousness and unrighteousness. The two paths, one leading to Spenta Mainyu (wisdom, righteousness), and the other leading to Angre Mainyu (spiritual ignorance, unrighteousness) are specifically identified and defined.
Choice is intricately interwoven with grave responsibility as to which of the two paths we select in every thought, word and deed. This ethical choice results in either reward or punishment, as expressly taught by our Paigambar Saheb (yasna 43.5). The only choice mentioned in the Gathas and throughout the Avesta is the ethical choice of selection between the two ethical paths alone and not choosing proselytism from one religion to another. The goal of every religion is to lead its followers, through righteousness, to “moksha”, “nirvana”, “mukti”, Resurrection, towards the Divine Goal of attaining Frashogard. It is the knowledge, the wisdom of the fundamental law of converting evil to good, vices to virtues that a Zarthushti is required to spread on “haft keshvar zamin”.
- b) “Ravahi” denotes obedience. The devotee is asked to obey the Immutable Laws of Asha as prescribed by the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din. The immutable, fundamental and universal Law of Asha is to convert one’s own evil mentality into goodness and godliness. Hence, this obedience to the spiritual law of the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din is to be spread universally on all the seven “earths”.
Obedience or “ravahi” also implies obedience to the dictates of one’s soul (‘ravan’) or to one’s inner conscience where the Voice of Sarosh Yazad is heard. Absolute obedience is given to His Divine Will, revealed through the Divine Plan of the Lord Almighty. It is Ahura Mazda Himself who has organized His creation into orderly groups. Yasna 19 illustrates the Divine WORD, the mystic Manthra of Ahunavar in detail. It explains the Will of Ahura Mazda and the establishment of the five main religions as “pancha tkaeshas” and their Appointed Prophets, “pancha ratus”. Since Ahura Mazda Himself has ordained different religions, it is spiritually ignorant to say that people can choose their religion reflectively.
Religion, like parents, time and place of birth is pre-ordained. Therefore, “ravahi” indicates obedience to His Will! Obedience indicates surrender, submission and not rebellious choices and preferential desires selected by the mind that is still in the process of evolving, spiritually imperfect and prone to err! The mind is trapped within the two opposing mentalities – Angre Mainyu and Spenta Mainyu, and is responsible for the choices made during life on Earth. The choice is the selection between the two mentalities, the two paths, not religions. “Ravahi” does not in the least indicate conversion from religion to religion.
- c) “Goafrangani” means praise. We praise the laws of the Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din which unravel the intimate workings of the immutable laws of Nature. These laws teach us the wisdom to obey and choose wisely between the two paths of good and evil in every thought, word and deed. “Goafrangani” means we praise the laws of the great Mazdayasni Zarthuhsti Din, the Wisdom Religion, which teach us to turn “vauraya” (yasna 31.3), from evil to good, to turn away from Angre Mainyu and choose Spenta Mainyu, to have faith in and to obey the teachings of our Holy Prophet Asho Zarathushtra! There is no conversion from religion to religion mentioned in these words of praise.
- d) “Haft keshvar zamin”: “Haft” means seven and “zamin” indicates “earth”. Some philologists have translated the word “keshvar” as the seven terrestrial continents of the Earth. The word “keshvar” (Avestic “karshvars”) indicates ‘karsh’ or ‘kash’ meaning to draw mystic circles or talismanic rings. “Keshvars” are certain rarefied locations in the regions of upper space separated from the terrestrial Earth which is specifically identified as “Khwanirath”. The “keshvars” should not be confused with the seven physical continents of this Earth. Our continents are not round circles and they are not talismanic rings. They keep drifting, change size and the numbers are also variable as in the beginning there was only one vast continent that later broke into several pieces creating the seven continents that are incidental. Hence, “haft keshvar zamin” does not indicate the seven terrestrial continents of the planet Earth but to non-physical, spherical regions that are multi-dimensional in space and are spiritually inter-connected to the Earth.
Today, scientists maintain that there are many more dimensions to just the three previously thought to exist. Just as mankind does not survive in just the outer physical body of flesh but has many more spiritual, semi-spiritual and physical components (Yasna ha 55 elaborates nine such components), the Earth too has many more spiritual components or dimensions! (The Hindus name these ethereal “globes” and their rarefied location as “lokas” and “talas” similar to our “keshvars” and “dakhyus”; the Bible also mentions of “many mansions in my Father’s house”!)
Asho Zarathushtra’s Divine Mission was not to incarnate on Earth to teach mundane geography and the existence of the seven physical continents into which the Earth is incidentally divided by the action of the continental plates that are perpetually drifting and in motion. In the beginning, there was only one continent which later became 7 and in future due to the geological actions and the drifting of the continental plates, the physical continents may become less or more in numbers. Asho Zarathushtra’s Divine Mission was to reveal the secret workings of Nature, of Immutable Asha, and to teach us of the spiritual world “mainyava” that has led to the manifestation of the physical world “gaethya”, the Earth being referred to as “Khvanirath” in Pahlavi. Asho Zarathushtra has revealed that according to the Laws of Asha, there are only two Paths to choose from and these two Paths are the Paths of Angre Mainyu and Spenta Mainyu and the choice comes with inevitable grave responsibility, in this life and in after-life.
Yasna 32.3, (Ahunavaiti Gatha), refers to our Earth as “bumiyao haptaithe” or the “seven earths”, synonymous with “haft keshvar zamin”, mentioned in Pahlavi. It further specifies that the army of Akoman (bad thoughts or vices), whose leader is Angre Mainyu, has spread all over “bumiyao haptaithe” or the 7 regions and it is this army of Angre Mainyu or Akoman that is to be defeated, to be converted to righteousness!
The Vendidad, one of the original 21 Nasks, elucidates further on these “earths” and refers to these “haft keshvar” by describing them as Vouru Bareshti (situated in the north-west of “Khvanirath”), Vouru Zareshti (situated in the north-east of “Khvanirath”). Fradadafshu is located in the south-west of “Khvanirath”); Vidadafshu (south-east of “Khvanirath”). Arezahi is in the west and Savahi is located in the east of “Khvanirath”. In the centre is “Khvanirath”, our physical Earth!
Bundahishn and Yasna 11.7 also place “Khvanirath” as centrally located, “mademe thrishva”, as being situated in the center of the three pairs of “keshvars”, the three pairs being, as illustrated, Vouru Bareshti and Vouru Zareshti, Fradadafshu and Vidadafshu, Arezahi and Savahi. As is evident, these “earths” are regions that are situated in pairs! Our physical continents are not in pairs, neither are they round!
Additionally and significantly, the Vendidad, differentiates the Earth or “Khvanirath” as being combined with “imat” or “this”, meaning the “terrestrial earth”, while all other “keshvars” are combined with “avat” or “that/those (upper) earths”, indicating them to be rarefied, luminous, non-physical orbs different from the terrestrial “Khvanirath”. “Khvanirath” alone is declared to be known to, and is accessible to man! Hence, it is abundantly clear that “keshvar” indicate certain regions of upper space that are connected to the physical Earth and not to the seven terrestrial continents of this Earth.
When we pray the words, “may the wisdom, obedience and praise of the laws of the excellent Mazdayasni Zarthushti Din ever increase and spread over the seven regions”, we maintain that we enlighten the followers of other “apara-tkaesha” or other “revealed religions” to convert their own inherent vices to righteousness. Unless and until all souls attain to spiritual wisdom, collective Frashogard cannot be attained. We can effectively spread the knowledge, obedience and fame of the great Mazdayasni Zarthuhsti Din on all the regions of “haft keshvar zamin” by disseminating the moral conversion preached in the Gathas and other scriptures, of converting Angra Mainyu into Spenta Mainyu.
We can spread the fame of the law that grants every man the moral freedom to choose consciously between the two paths of good and evil in every thought, word and deed performed. The immutable law of justice is taught as a consequence of selections made in every thought, word and deed committed during life.
The word “proselyte” is not even remotely hinted at, in our Niyayeshes and Yashts or in the Gathas! To spread “daad”, “agahi”, “ravahi”, “goafrangani” on “haft keshvar zamin” only means that may we spread the wisdom, obedience and praise of the laws of the excellent Mazdayasni Zarthuhsti Religion; laws that teach to convert one’s own inherent vices to virtues! The law is not to convert others from one revealed religion to another but only to practice the moral, inner conversion of choosing righteousness over the evil tendencies of the spiritually imperfect mind.
It is not the name of the religion one follows that makes the person spiritually enlightened; rather, it is in following, obeying the teachings of the religion one is born into that makes the person spiritually progressive! Every religion teaches good thoughts, words and deeds and spirituality is attained through all religions.
It should be noted that this sentence, “daad din beh Mazdayasnan agahi ravahi goafrangani baad, haft keshvar zamin aedun baad” ends with the words, “man ano awayad shudan”, recited three times.
It means ‘I ought to go there”! Where does the devotee wish to go from this world? Certainly not to roam endlessly on Earth, from one physical ‘continent’ to another, if these words “haft keshvar zamin” indicate the terrestrial continents but the devotee expresses the desire to reach the spiritual world, to the spiritual ‘regions’, to His Abode in Light from whence we originally came! It is a travesty against one’s own religion to misquote scriptures, to take certain words out of context and use these to justify wrong ends and promote false teachings.
Examining the location and meaning of these “haft keshvar zamin” as so stated in our scriptures, they indicate without a doubt that they are a spiritual map of the multi-dimensional locations situated in Space that surrounds our physical orb, the Earth, “Khwanirath”. The spiritual talismanic regions are where the emancipated souls go to for their spiritual progress after the inevitable transition from the physical to the spiritual regions.
As humans we are not only the outer physical body that we refer to as “tanu”. As explained in Yasna 55, we have eight other spiritual and semi-spiritual components (9 in all). The physical body is only of the Earth, earthly. Even whilst living on Earth in the physical components, because we have the semi-spiritual and spiritual components interwoven within us, we have our multi-dimensional existence in other regions of space. The spiritual components of our body are compatible to have their existence in these subliminal regions or “keshvars”. Life, as energy, is eternal and therefore an individual’s spiritual progress too is eternal with or without the physical body. We do live and progress in the spiritual regions of space, the “haft keshvar”. This then is the explanation of “haft keshvar zamin” and the sentence, “Daad din beh Mazdayasnan agahi ravahi goafrangani baad, haft keshvar zamin aedun baad. Man ano awayad shudan, man ano awayad shudan, man ano awayad shudan”!
The ultimate truth regarding “haft keshvar zamin” or “bumiyao haptaithe” is proven from ha 32.3 (Ahunavad Gatha) where these words appear.
Asho Zarathushtra cautions his disciples about the daevas, the army of Akoman (leader of wicked thoughts) who have spread over the seven regions of the Earth, “bumiyao haptaithe”! It is further stated in ha 32.3 that mankind chose untruth due to the perversion of mind by these daevas, the evil thoughts, which we must convert to truth and righteousness. Asho Zarathushtra teaches only the moral conversion. There is absolutely no mention of converting juddins to Mazdayasni Zarathushtis even hinted at, in this stanza or anywhere in the sacred Avesta! Moral conversion alone is mentioned which brings peace and prosperity to mankind and to Mother Nature.
Asho Zarathushtra’s Divine Mission was to halt the progress of Akoman (unrighteous thoughts) on all the “seven regions” of the Earth so that mankind and Geush Urva will experience Renovation and attain to Frashogard! It is the destructive energy of Akoman that Asho Zarathushtra admonishes us to convert, to transform into the positive thought energy of Vohu-Mano, through righteousness! We are asked to convert Akoman to Vohu-Mano; Angre Mainyu to Spenta Mainyu! This is the conversion, the transformation we are taught in the sacred Avesta because it is only this transformation from evil to good that will bring about Frashogard!
Please remember, moral conversion is the only conversion taught by Asho Zarathushtra! Unless a person converts from within, unless a person leaves evil and turns to righteousness, would it help that person to simply become “good” by changing the name of one religion to another? No! ‘To convert’ means to ‘become spiritually wiser’, to transform, modify, transmute the evil within to virtues and this can be achieved by following the dictates of any revealed religion one is born into. All religions teach an ethical code of conduct and lead the followers to Salvation. If ‘convert’ means to leave one’s own religion of birth and adopt a newer, alien one, there is absolutely no equivalent word for “to convert” in the Sacred Avesta!
Pervin J. Mistry