Explanation of Muktad Rituals and Prayers

Technical aspects of the rituals, etymology of certain words, appropriate and inappropriate methods not to be taken as a fatwa, calender variations Talk given By: The living Zoroastrian encyclopedia, Dasturji Dr Firoze Kotwal On : 22 nd July 2018 At: The Empowering Mobeds program



by   Maneck Bhujwala

“Today I am going to talk to you about Muktad, and whatever subject I am talking, do not understand it as some kind of Fatwa, but according to religious books what things should be done, some understanding about it, I want to give you.

The word Muktad that we use, that word was first used in the 12th century by the famous scholar of Pahlavi and Sanskrit, Nairyosangh Dhawal. For the Asho Farohar in Sanskrit he used that word in Muktad. That means liberated souls from the Ashoi world. What all rituals that we do are for the Asho Farohars and Asho souls (ruvaans), and through the Farohars those rituals that we do are to benefit the souls and through the rituals we wish rest and happiness for the souls. And we say that this is the main goal of the rituals. And when the souls become happy, they bless those who sponsor the rituals.

When we read chapter 55 of the Ijashne, then in the first line it tells us that a person’s structure is made of nine parts. The first line says “Vispao gaethaoscha, tatvascha, azdibishcha, ushtaanascha, keherpascha, tevishi, baodhascha, urvaanimcha, farvashimcha. The first three parts are material parts, which means they are destined to be destroyed, like our skeleton, our bones, and our flesh. These three things, when a person dies, should be disposed right away as soon as possible, because there is Druje Naso in them, meaning evilness of corruption, putrefaction that enters, increases, so they should be disposed as soon as possible. Keeping this material part stored by saying that some relatives are coming, so keep these for two days, is a very sinful action, that should not be done, according to our religion. The other three parts are half material and half spiritual. When a person is born, after a while these three parts disappear. Our vitality, vigor, astral body or keherpascha are half material and half spiritual. And the third part – baodascha, urvaanimcha, and fravashimcha. Baodhascha means consciousness, Urvaanimcha means Soul (Ravaan), and Fravashimcha means Fravashi (Guardian Spirit). Baodhascha, Urvaanimcha, Fravashimcha, these three parts when a person is living become useful to the person. When something is bad, the Fravashimcha gives a message to the Urvaanimcha, through the Baodhascha. The soul (ravaan) is the ruler of the body which may or may not obey the advice of the Fravashi (guardian spirit). If it follows the advice of the Fravashi, it obtains the highest happiness. If it does not follow the advice then the result is bad in the spiritual world, so the message of the Fravashi is brought by Baodhan (Consciousness). So the Fravashi does the work of an advisor, the Soul does the work of the (decider?) and the Baodhan does the work of a messenger. Our religion gives us an understanding of our structure.

According to our religion, when a Zarathushti is living, there are six duties to be performed by the person. The first duty is to perform Gahambars, to participate in them. The second duty is Farvardegan or the praise of the Fravashis in the Muktad. The third duty is to do Rapithwan always, this is very important, that should be remembered. The fourth duty is to do Zinde Ravaan, the ritual which is four days long because in the old times when a Zarathushti went somewhere, whether the person will return home was a big question, so if the Sarosh Zinde Ravaan is done before going, then no matter under what calamity, may God forbid something happens to the person, so if that Sarosh is kept in reserve then that would be beneficial after death to that person. Our religion has decreed that the Zinde Ravaan ritual should be done by Zarathushtis. The fifth duty is to do the Khorshed and Meher Nyayesh. Every day the Khorshed and Meher Nyayesh should be done three times. This is an obligatory prayer. The sixth duty is to do Mahbakhtar Nyayesh which is to be done at night in the Aiwisruthrem and Ushahin gehs, and that duty is such that in a month you do it three times on full moon, new moon, and Dark night (Amaavasya). What we say Mahbokhtar, the real word is not Mahbokhtar but it is Mahbakhtar. Bakhtar means giver of luck. You know that the moon size grows for fifteen days and reduces for fifteen days, so what have the priests of Iran said about this is that Mahbakhtaar is the giver of luck, and when it grows for fifteen days then it gets the merit from the Yazatas and Amesha Spentas, and when its size decreases for fifteen days, it distributes that merit to those Zarathushtis who do good deeds in this world. That is why the Zarathushtis in Iran do not call it Bokhtaar, but even if you read in their Persian language books, they call it Bakhtaar. That is why, in our place the recital of Mahbakhtaar, what we call Chandrama (Mah) whose function is to distribute merit, we use the proper word Bakhtaar which is also used that way in the Pahlavi scriptures, that I should inform you.

Now, in these six duties, the one which is also included for Farvardegan, which is about remembering the Asho Fravahars. The word “Muktad” that we use, is called Farvardegan by Iranian Zarathushtis, so that word Farvardegan is more appropriate, because this is about the importance of the Fravahars. Farvardegan in which we perform the Jashan for the Fravahars or Parabh, that is of the great function of the Fravahars. Now these days of Farvardegan come in the month of Spendarmad. The first five days, from Ashtaad through Aneraan, are called Panche geh in our religion, meaning five days, and then the Gathaa days which come in Farvardegan, the Gathas do not have any connection with any month, they are included. We do not recite the month in the Roz nek naam, so in Pahlavi, Gatha is called Vihezakeek. Meaning that in any month the Gathas can be placed after the end of the month. If you look at the calendar, after the end of the Spendarmad month, five Gathas which we recited, in the old calendar they were recited after the month of Abaan (Ava). After that when this calendar was adopted, then they were placed after the month of Spendarmad.  In those times we used to do an intercalation (kabiso) of one month that was done so that Navroz would come as much as possible in the Spring, that was one of our practices. In those times when it was our kingdom we used to do one more month as intercalation. The last time this intercalation was done then five Gathas were placed after the month of Ava. After that when the intercalation was done again, then they were placed after Spendarmad month, because between the months of Ava and Spendarmad, many intercalations had passed that were not done in Iran. So, in the twelfth century when the month of Spendarmad came in Spring, then the Gathas were placed at the end of Spendarmad, so that the month of Farvardin could start in Spring. So, you have to remember that Gathas were placed after different months, and that today we are not doing that intercalation (kabiso). We had done that intercalation in Hindustan in the twelfth century, when our whole group was in Sanjan. In the twelfth century the Sanskrit scholar Naryosangh Dhawal was living, and we can make a guess that at that time when our whole group was in Sanjan, we must have done that intercalation (kabiso). And, in order to do that intercalation there was a difference of one month between our calendar and the Iranian calendar which we call “Kadimi” which continues today.  Another thing I would say about the word Kadimi, do not think that because we did the intercalation in Hindustan that we call the Iranian calendar Kadimi.

In the year 1079 in Iran when Jalaluddin Malekshah was Sultan, and Omar Khayyam was his vizier who in order to make revenue collection convenient, started making March 21 as the New Year (Navroz) and even today that event is celebrated with great pomp and happiness. However this calendar change was not at all liked by the Iranian Zarathushtis, because March 21 is such that every four years if you add one day, then it would mess up our ritual ceremonies, because the last five days are for the Gathas and when you add one day then where will you bring the sixth Gatha?  Hamspadmaidyem Ghahambar has five days for Gathas, so how will you make six out of five. If a person dies on the sixth (leap year) day then should we do his anniversary prayers every fourth year when that additional day comes again? We who are knowledgeable are opposed to that calendar change even today, and the Iranians did not accept that calendar change and called their calendar Kadim. In Surat when Nusserwanji Koyaji started the new Fasli calendar there was a lot of trouble. It is OK to celebrate Navroz according to the Fasli calendar but you should keep in mind that if you change our calendar then our ritual ceremonies will be messed up. You should know that the establishment of Iranshah temple was done according to the Kadimi calendar. It is important to know these facts, so that we can claim that we are doing things based on research. We don’t want to say that what we say is the only truth, and others should follow that. You can make your own decisions based on your thinking.

We call Farvardin roz as Farvardegan, and according to our scriptures three Farvardin rozes are of great importance – one in month of Adar, one in Aspandard and one in month of Farvardin. Our Zarathushtis have a belief about the Farvardin roz in the month of Aspandard, that the righteous (Asho) souls (ravaans) and Asho Farohars come here to this earth on that day, and after the Farvardegan, the souls and Farohars depart from this earth on Farvardin roz and Farvardin month. So the first Farvardin roz is to welcome them and the second Farvardin roz is to bid them farewell. Now the Farvardin roz of the month of Adar is remembered because at the time of the last intercalation that was the first Farvardin roz, and we want to keep that memory alive.

Another thing, that Khordad roz of Aspandard month which is the Pateti of the Iranians, that day we recognize as Avardaad saal gah, there is a Jashan on that day that many people don’t know about, was started by the Shehenshahi people in India to remember the day when we separated from the Kadimi calendar, because we had done the intercalation in India on that day (not the Iranians). Avardad is the Persian Fardad meaning abandoned (stopped observing it), and Gah means Gatha because in the Khsnuman of the Jashan, besides the Khordad roz there are also the names of the five Gathas. This fact is not generally known, but it is found in our Pav Mahal prayer books.

Now you may know that there were arguments about the number of days of Farvardegan. In the old days about ninety percent of our Zarathushti used to observe eighteen days. According to our religious books, ten days were mentioned for Farvardegan. So, how did we start observing eighteen days in Hindustan ?  Because we could not observe all the six annual duties (mentioned earlier) in Hindustan, these were included in our ritual ceremonies. For example after death we do certain Nyayishes including Mahbakhtar, and Rapithwan was connected with Muktad. Khordad Sal was an important day when great events had happened in Iran, and there is a whole Pahlavi text by the name Roz Khordad and Mah Fravardin. Rapithwan has such importance. You must have heard the name of the Pahlavi book Bundahishn which means Beginning of Creation, so how creation started in the spiritual world. Dadar Hormuzd wears Paymojokisped meaning White Garment. In Pahlavi it is mentioned as PragiAshroni, or the garment of priests. So it is not good for priests to wear multicolored garments. Dadar Hormuzd wears the white garment and with the six Ameshaspands performes Ijashne in Rapithwan geh in the spiritual world, and then created the material world. So we Mobeds forgot this celestial garment and due to British influence started wearing multicolored   shirt and pants. You should remain proud of your garment.  When the Atashbehram was established in Navsari, then in the Rapithwan Jashan it was resolved that in order to have the ash it was necessary to establish an Atashbehram in Navsari, and the knowledgeable priests created a scheme on how to establish an Atashbehram (because the Sanjana priests did not have it due to the passage of 800 years, and this scheme was later followed for establishment of three other Atashbehrams in India. (37.04 minutes stop in recording)During the Jashan in Navsari, a Tandarosti prayer was recited in the name of Khurshedji Bapa who was living at that time and who had sent letters to Surat, Bharuch and other institutions from whom very encouraging replies were obtained, and the Atashbehram was established with the help of the anjuman (public) as Khurshedji Bapa has written “Atashbehram Prathhaa anjumannaa Navsari maa”. So, the Atashbehram was established with help of the public, and in which the largest share was from Bhagaria Seth family. This Maneckji Seth Agiary is from that family. Maneckji Seth had two daughters, he did not have a son, and his daughters also married in the Seth family, so he adopted his son-in-laws as his sons. And, in that time, the Seth family had given much help, giving land (jagir) to the Atashbehram, so the Bhagarias should never forget the name of the Seth family. So I told you about the eighteen day Muktad.

Now, even though we write and talk about it, you Mobeds are not doing, is that when someone dies during the five days of the Gathas, what Roz should be taken, because Gathas don’t come every month, but only once a year. In our Pahlavi books, in Rivayats, our prominent Dasturs, like Kaikhushru Kutar as I remember last, have written that for such people who die during Gatha days, we should take the Roz as Farvardin because these are days of Farvardegan. And, then Sirozo will come on Rashne roz in month of Shehrevar, Chhamsi will come on Farvardin roz.  If death happened on Ushtavad Gatha then do Sirozo on Ahunavad Gatha, do Varsi (yearly ritual) on Ushtavad Gatha. This is the way our religion instructs us.

It is not that Ahunavad Gatha is taken as Hormuzd roz and Ushtavad Gatha is taken as Bahman roz. Although this is how it is being done, that is not how our religion instructs us.

Now our Zarathostis, and Mobed class is included in that, what should they do during Muktad ?  For all the five days from Ashtad to Aneran, we are instructed to recite Framrot naa Ha and twelve hundred Ashem Vohu prayers, which you will find in the complete Khordeh Avesta book, and during the five days of the Gathas, in every Gatha day we have to recite the Gatha and twelve hundred Yatha Ahu Vairyo prayers. Those who are not Mobeds and Osta can do the prayers in this way. Reciting Gatha prayers may be difficult for some people, but if they practice by reciting one Gatha every day, then slowly they will be able to pick up speed, and be able to recite them. Where there is a will there is a way.

Now what I am saying is especially for the Mobeds. We have seen that rituals are done without proper order, even in the small towns. In Bombay, there are all five groups of Mobeds, and the High Priests of Atashbehrams have control over the other Mobeds, and sometimes the Dasturs give Fatwas, instructions according their personal beliefs, that we should only pray this way, which may not be according to the religion. I am telling you all this according to religion. I don’t have any connection with any Panth (group) nor with any Agiary (temple). So, let us put that story on the side, what they all pray. But, Mobed Sahebs think according to our religion that there are eight Kardas in the Afringan. Let me count them – Yao Visadh’s first kardo which is the thirteenth karda which comes from Farvardin Yasht, Yao Visadh’s second kardo which is only recited in Ardafarvash Afringan, and which is joined with the thirteenth karda “Ashaonam Farvashinam” (the whole kardo is recited in our daily Afringans “Ashaonam Vanghuinam …”), the third kardo is in Dahman Afringan, that is “Tao Ahmi namaane…”. Do not say “Dahm”, say “Dahman”. Dahm Yazad is only one and that is when we do Dahm Yazad prayer with seven Yatha Ahu Vairyos in Chahrum prayer or in Fareshta prayers. Today what you pray Dahm Yazad with two Yatha Ahu Vairyo prayers is not there in any Pav Mahal rituals. There is no kardo with Khshnuman “Dahm Yazad berasad” but it has been created in Mumbai.  Dahman means celebration of the Fareshtas of thirteen days, Dahman means about the Fareshtas. For example if today is Ava roz, then in the Khshnuman we recite “Aspandarmad, Ava, Din, Ard, Marespand Vispesa Ardafarvash beresaad” in the Pazend khshnuman, and together with that is the “Tao ahmi namaane…”. Now can someone tell me about the Yao Visadh kardo , that in the Khshnuman we did for all these Fareshtas, but you are not praying the Vadi khshnuman for these Fareshtas in Avesta, but in Dahman Afringan there is one main kardo of Tao ahmi namaane, and there is such a principle that nobody knows about or only a few may know, that after “vidhvao marotu” if the vadi Khshnuman of Dadar Hormuzd is recited, then we have to recite the thirteenth kardo of Yao Visadh. So, if we pray in that way in the Afringan of Dahman, then we cannot recite Tao ahmi namaane, because with the Ahuremazdao khshnuman we would have to recite the Khshnuman of all the Fareshtas. That is why the elders and in our books Dahman Dahmayao vanghuyao meaning the good Fareshtas, so the remembering of the Fareshtas is done in brief, and after “Vidhvao mrute” we recite “Tao ahmi namane”. That is the rule of our rituals. So, I told you that two kardas of Yao Visadh, Tao ahmi namane, two kardas of Sarosh, then karda of Ghambar “Datache…” which is taken from one of our old Nask, then karda of Rapithwan “Atha jimro” which is taken from Nirangistan, you can see how these kardas have been taken from the big Nasks, and the eighth karda which is of the Navar Afringan “Ahuremazdam Huthonghe” that is the sixteenth Ha. In this way the whole arrangement of our outer ceremonies is done with the eight kardas. So, if we pray in that way, it is better. According to all those rules if we pray, it is so good. If you pray the vadi khshnuman of Dadar Hormuzd then you should pray Yao Visadh kardo. So if you think like that and pray, nobody can complain. Other things are done for show. I only tell you what is according to religion. Some people may do what they want and say that Dasturji is giving us Fatwa, but I do not give Fatwas. Then it is upto each person to believe me or not.

Now what I have to say is that the second Afrin that we recite “Iranshahr…name of thecity” then some people will say “what is he praying”. Phiroze Masani had published several books on Afrins which is good, but in that this line is put in by doing a wrong translation after Baname Dadar Hormuzd. The true translation which is also given in the old books, is . Baname Dadar Hormuzd afreen thi aay sharoo karu chhu. Choon Pishgaah …….meaning that the manner in which the leaders in Iran had prayed (dua guzareli) in that manner we are doing the Afrin prayer in this city.  The other thing is that “Dinyaavar gooyaa.  Tehmuras Anklesaria was a scholar of Pahlavi. First of all he was a disciple of K.R. Cama. He put the word “gooyaa” in brackets because he did not understand it. This word is put in Pazend wrongly, but even so all Mobeds are using it. In Pahalavi books it is not “gooyaa” but “goondaar” which means “soothsayer”  teller of future, which is related to remembering Jamasp who was a soothsayer to whom Zarthost saheb had made him smell a flower with which he gave him the gift of knowing the future.

The last thing I have to tell you is that (in the Afrin-e-Haft Ameshaspand) the paragraph “Dahman ke pa in myazd fraj-rasid hend …” Dahman refers to the people attending the Jashan and says that you are welcome and if you take one step to protect the religion then twelve hundred steps will come to greet you. And after that what we recite “ravaan garosmani baad” that is for the living that after your death may your soul be deserving of heaven. Many people believe that we are praying this for the departed souls, and they may be shocked to know the true meaning. That is the end of my lecture, and you may adopt whatever you think is right. “


3 thoughts on “Explanation of Muktad Rituals and Prayers”

  1. With utmost respect preaching the Divine Message on one hand & practicing Segregation Racism Discrimination & Bigotry on the other hand
    Get your priorities Dr Ervad Kotwal

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