Category Archives: Religion

A Marathon 8 hour Workshop on Zoroastrianism


At ZTFE UK, A Life Well Lived – A Marathon 8 hour Workshop on Zoroastrianism

A life well lived

                                                                     By Bapsy Dastur

Khojeste P. Mistree’s association with Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe (ZTFE) is a long standing one. A life member since the early 1980s, Khojeste has given talks at ZTFE, beginning soon after completing his studies at Oxford University, where he read for a degree in Oriental Studies and since then he has been a frquent visitor.

His recent eight hour marathon workshop on Zoroastrianism, on Sunday, 2 June, 2019,  attended by over a 100 participants, was a runaway success and was probably the largest workshop ever held at ZTFE.

Known for his articulation and a clear interpretation of the classical theology of the faith, this time Khojeste surpassed himself. In a world torn by threats of war, the agony of dispaced refugees and the flexing of muscles by powerful nations, the title itself had  special relevance, “ A Life well Lived – Zoroastrian Values in Todays Word”; And his talk exhibited the need to draw strength from one’s own value system and to believe that hope and optimism isnt a bad thing, and can if promoted, enhance productively, life as lived on earth. Khojeste conveyed this with  remarkable alacrity, citing hope, optimism, harmony and the discernment and appropriation of the Good, as the basis of bringing about progress in the world, giving even non- Zoroastrians and scholars, present at the workshop, a valid justification to uphold the Zoroastrian rational for doing Good. He was reassuring, promising that a world directed and dominated by Zoroastrian values can make the world a better place to live in. His emphasis was on the “microcosm of the self”the need for the inner being of a person to adopt Zoroastrian values and emerge as ‘ a Warrior of Truth and Promoter of Peace’ .

Mistree’s narration of the Bundahishn, the creation of the world by Ahura Mazda, and the antagonism of the Evil Spirit, transported those who attended, on a cosmic journey, almost like an epic episode from Star Wars.

Like a master story teller, he posited an advocacy of Zoroaroastrianism, taking the participants from the birth of Zarathushtra and its many attendant legends, through the time line of the Creation Story, the cosmic battle field in which the forces of Good triumph over those of evil, the splendid moment of harmony, when the 7 creations are created by Ahura Mazda and the ethicality of Zarathushtra’s revealation in a period when right was defined by the unrestrained exercise of brute power.

One was left with the feeling that enforcing the world of a rational wise and omniscient divine being, Ahura Mazda, on earth, and helping to perpetuate a Good world, as defined by the cosmology of the faith, is foundational to the understanding of Zoroastrianism and one that can be easily adapted by anyone. As one of the participants said you don’t have to be a Zorostrian to bring about these values and perpetuate this understanding of the world, as it should be,  making it relevant today.

The audience at the talk

He stressed that in Zoroastrian thought, Knowledege and Wisdom eclipses power and its surrogate use of force and every Zoroastrian has a role to play in extending wisdom and enhancing knowledge to bring harmony into the world. The idea that, the microcosmic adaptation of the Good brings about the perpetuation of Good in the larger world, was an engulfing idea which reasonated with many participants.

Khojeste advocated the Zoroastrian idea of charity by quoting the Denkard “ That a generous person is most praiseworthy who seeks to become wealthy…and who gives it to worthy people.”

The topics discussed, ranged from the esoteric understanding of the Ashem and Yatha prayers, to the sacred fire as a living being, fuelled by the breadth of Ahura Mazda, to the complex ritual practices of the faith, reflecting the depth and understanding of Khojeste’s command over the faith.

As they always say, where there are Parsis there is always food, and in the Zoroastrian month of Dae, day of Bahram, 1388 Y (3 June 2019), it was appropriate that the workshop held as it was, in the memory of Sheroo Framroze Darukhanawalla, especially the lunch, with offerings of  fragrant biryani, cashew chicken and rice firni for desert, nourished the soul of Sheroo Darukhanawalla, a devout Zoroastrian, as much as it did the participants of the workshop.

Teachings of Zarathushtra and current practice of the religion


The religion founded by Iranian Prophet Zarathushtra (Zoroaster as called by Greek philosophers like Plato) over five thousand years ago, as described in his five Gathas (songs), give us the basic guidelines that are mostly timeless.

His followers added rituals, prayers and traditions that serve as tools which can help to structure our lives according to the guidelines. Just as we constantly improve tools that we use with the latest technologies, these tools which help us to apply the general guidelines may be modified if and as needed to be relevant for the time and society in which we live. 

Understanding the connection of all creations of God, Zarathushtra proclaims that true happiness comes to them who create happiness for others (Y.43).When we are not content with our honestly obtained wealth, position, status, etc., we are tempted to resort to unethical means to gain more than we have. With this realization, Zarathushtra tells us that Contentment is the greatest virtue. 

Practice of Zarathushtra’s Teachings in the Present Times Ultra-Conservative PracticesLike in other religions, some individuals follow the teaching of the founder more closely than others, and there are groups like orthodox, reformists, and mainstream who follow their preferred practices in a group setting.As the focus of Zarathushtra’s teachings is on ethical living in this world that would promote peace and happiness for all creations on earth, we should examine if we are following and prioritizing his ethical guidelines in our practice of religion. 

Among the Zarathushtis from India and Pakistan, we have a small but vocal population of ultra-conservative and a much smaller group of ultra-reformist individuals. The majority of Zarathushtis are not rigid in their religious beliefs and observances.

Most ultra-conservatives, especially from India/Pakistan, emphasize racial and ritual purity and do not think it important or necessary to learn the meanings of the prayers.

They believe that prayers in Avesta and Pahalavi were composed in a special way and have intrinsic beneficial effects from the vibrations emanating during their recital, and that there are many different translations of the prayers resulting in difficulty to know which one if any, is the correct translation. Their focus is on performing the rituals according to traditional rule as suggested by their Guru, a nineteenth century Zarathushti who claimed to have been given the knowledge by spiritual masters who live in the mountains in Iran. 

Comparing this belief to Zarathushtra’s teachings, we can observe that it does not appear to be in agreement with his teaching that each person should use his/her good mind and freedom of choice gifted by Ahuramazda, to think and freely choose what is right. The ultra-conservative belief that Zarathushtra’s religion is restricted to the Persian race is also contrary to his Gatha verses in which he mentions the soul of the world asking God for a Savior and Ahuramazda choosing him for that role.

Most ultra-conservatives believe that women during their menstrual period should be isolated at home and should not enter prayer areas. They believe that even a male person who is bleeding cannot enter prayer areas. This belief is not supported by Gatha teachings leading us to think whether under the availability of current hygiene practice and products this rule is still necessary.

The ultra-conservative belief in a rigid class system (similar to the Hindu caste system) separating priest class (Athravans) from non-priest class (Behdins), and not allowing Behdins to serve as priests (called Mobedyars), is also against Zarathushtra’s teachings of equality of all human beings. While the Iranian community is not against Mobedyars, the Parsi priests resisted training of Mobedyars until some open-minded priests were convinced of the need to break the roadblock for Behdins, considering the growing shortage of practicing priests. 

Not accepting people who voluntarily choose to learn and adopt the teachings of Zarathushtra, without evaluating each case, is another practice of ultra-conservatives, that is against Zarathushtra’s teachings of equality.  

Ultra-Reformist Practices

Most ultra-reformists claim to restrict their prayers and beliefs to the Gathas only, but even some of them interpret what is written in the Gathas without questioning, thinking independently, and understanding in the proper context.Some ultra-reformists justify their choice without thinking about the rightness of their choice, claiming that there is no specific restriction related to their choice in the Gathas.

For example, choosing not to cover the head and remove shoes in the prayer room of a community center in violation of posted rules would be wrong in the spirit of the Gathas, if done without questioning and understanding that the rule helps retain cleanliness by preventing loose hair falling and dirt from shoes worn outside. 

Mainstream Practices

The largest populations of Zarathushtis are generally flexible and more open-minded about racial and ritual purity. However, not having adequate knowledge about Zarathusthtra’s teachings in the Gathas, historical practices of the religion in Iran, they often tend to go along in public, with the opinions of the vocal ultra-conservatives or ultra-reformists in order to avoid controversy and ostracism.

Even those from priestly families who were trained in ritual performances as children (due to the wishes of the parents), and decide to practice priesthood, usually tend to go along with the preferences of whoever is in power socially or of giving compensation for their services. Due to poor compensation and lack of benefits for most priests, only those who lack adequate education and opportunity to pursue lucrative careers become practicing priests and that too part-time with a second job outside. Last year, two new Daremehers were inaugurated, and Mobedyars were not invited to sit with the Ervads (from priest families) to perform Groundbreaking Jashan and Inauguration Jashan rituals, and the mainstream community kept quiet about it.

This is against the teachings of Zarathushtra about speaking up against injustice and blind faith. Training of priests in India/Pakistan has been limited to some basic religious education and memorization and recital of ritual prayers without understanding the meanings of the prayers. Most recently there has been some additional information being offered to priests called EmpoweringMobeds in the form of seminars. There are only a handful of priests who have learned Avesta and Pahlavi languages and appointed as High Priests of Atashbehrams in India/Pakistan. Not knowing the meaning of what one is reciting in prayers goes against Zarathushtra’s teachings of gaining a thorough understanding of his teachings. 

Zarathushtis have generally retained basic ethics of honesty and charity that have earned them high respect and trust from the people in India, Pakistan and Iran. There is a general belief in good thoughts, good words, and good deeds that is carried forward to the children, and a continued observance of festival days like Nowruz, Ghahambars, etc. that brings the community together on those occasions. Involvement in interfaith organizations and events is helping educate other communities about our faith. 

In order to motivate our youth to continue the practice of the Zarathushti religion, we need to teach our history, so that they know that we are not some small cult but inheritors of one of the world’s oldest monotheistic faiths that once was the majority religion of Iran. We also need to welcome Mobedyars (Behdin Pasbans as known in India) and encourage anyone (man or woman) who wishes to serve the community as priests. We need to develop scholars who study Avesta, Pahlavi, and share their knowledge with the community via periodic lectures. We need to develop pastoral service by priests who can provide religion based counseling to individuals experiencing high stress situations.

And, we need to accept non-Zarathushtis who come to us and wish to learn about our religion and wish to practice our religion, after some screening. 

 Maneck Bhujwala was born in Bombay, India, to Navroji and Meherbai. He got his Bachelor in Engineering from India, and M.S. and M.B.A. in USA. He co-founded the Zoroastrian Association of California in Los Angeles in 1974, and Zarthushti Anjuman of Northern California in 1980. He currently works as a licensed real estate consultant, serves the community as a priest, and is President of the Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council.Maneck has contributed articles in FEZANA Journal and WZO’s Hamazor magazine, and coordinated religion classes for adults. He also transliterates and translates the Shahnameh to English poetry form and distributes a page a month on the internet with Persian, Gujerati and English versions. Maneck lives in Huntington Beach. 

Posted 8th December 2018 by California Zoroastrian Center

Published in Chehrehnama 188

Study Zoroastrianism in Rome


The University of Bergen and SOAS in London offer this autumn a short course in Zoroastrianism. In Rome!

Zoroastrianism is a living religious tradition with historical roots in ancient Iran and Central Asia. Once the dominant religion in pre-Islamic Iran, the main contemporary Zoroastrian communities can be found in India, Iran, and a range of other countries such as Britain, Canada, the US and Sweden.

Courses on Zoroastrianism are few and far between. The University of Bergen (Norway) and the Shapoorji Pallonji Institute of Zoroastrian Studies at SOAS, University of London have joined forces to offer international students a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the study of this religion with its rich history.

The course is co-taught by well-known scholars in the field.
This year, Sarah Stewart (SOAS, author of Voices of Zoroastrian Iran) and Michael Stausberg (Bergen, co-editor of The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism) will be joined by Jenny Rose (Claremont, author of Zoroastrianism: a guide for the perplexed).

This year’s topic is “Zoroastrianism in modern and contemporary Iran”, where Zoroastrianism exists as a recognized religious minority. The course will address matters such as lived religious praxis, gender and community organizations, social, religious and ritual change, memory and visions of history, nationalist ideologies and minority rights.

We are offering an intensive learning experience. The course requires prior reading and class presentations. The course is held in English, so a good working knowledge of English is required. The course will be held in the beautiful surroundings of the Norwegian Institute in Rome.

The summer school is free of charge. A limited number of bursaries to cover travel and living costs will be awarded on merit. Applicants will get further information. 

https://www.uib.no/ahkr/127128/study-zoroastrianism-rome

Zoroastrian Studies..A Symposium, 06 Apr 2019


You are invited to the following event:

When: 06 Apr 2019 1:00 PM, EDT
Where: INNIS TOWN HALL, 2 SUSSEX AVENUE, TORONTO, ON, M5S 1J5

EVENT DETAILS:

Zoroastrian Studies

A Symposium

DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF PROFESSOR EHSAN YARSHATER (1920-2018)

Date:    April 6, 2019

Venue:  INNIS TOWN HALL, 2 SUSSEX AVENUE, TORONTO, ON, M5S 1J5

Time:    1pm


INTRODUCTION

1:00–1:30 REGISTRATION

1:30–1:50 INTRODUCTION
Dr. Jehan Bagli, Timothy Harrison & Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi

1:50–2:25 ZOROASTRIANISM IN THE ACHAEMENID PERIOD
Maria Brosius, University of Toronto

2:25–3:00 PURE BODY: THE BARŠNŪM CEREMONY THROUGHOUT HISTORY
Miguel Angel Andres Toledo, University of Salamanca

3:00–3:35 THE EPIC OF SAMAK-E `AYYAR: A LITERARY COMPANION TO MITHRAIC MYTHOLOGY, ETHICS, AND SOCIAL PRAXIS
Parvaneh Pourshariati, New York City College of Technology


3:30–4:10 BREAK

4:10–4:45 DANTE AND WIRAZ: TWO OTHERWORLDLY TRAVELLERS
Enrico Raffaelli, University of Toronto

4:45–5:20 PARSI TRADERS AND TRAVELLERS: GLOBAL ZOROASTRIANS IN THE AGE OF EMPIRE
Jesse Palsetia, University of Guelph

5:20–6:00 ZOROASTRIANISM AND THE PROBLEM OF UNIVERSAL RELIGION IN THE EARLY MODERN ISLAMIC WORLD
Dan Sheffield, Princeton University


UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO
DEPARTMENT OF NEAR AND MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES
TORONTO INITIATIVE FOR IRANIAN STUDIES

THE FEDERATION OF ZOROASTRIAN ASSOCIATIONS OF NORTH AMERICA,
ONTARIO ZOROASTRIAN COMMUNITY FOUNDATION,
AND ZOROASTRIAN SOCIETY OF ONTARIO

Click HERE for the Flyer

Hamaysht Ceremony


Hamaysht ceremony in Surat Atash Behram Saheb

 

Attached here is a brief explanation of the Hamayasht ceremony being performed in Surat. This ceremony has not been performed for several years and those who can go across to Surat or are the local residents there can consider themselves fortunate to witness such a one-off kriya.

 

The Hamayasht ceremony is a long-winded ceremony in the Zoroastrian religion similar to the “Mahayagna” of the Hindus. There are 2 types of Hamayasht ceremonies, the “Motti” Hamayasht and “Nani” Hamayasht. On enquiries with High priests and scholars it has been observed that this ceremony has not been performed in India since the past several years. This ceremony comprises of the Yazashne, Vendidad, Baaj and Afringan in reverence of the following Yazatas.

 

Dadar Ahuramazda.

Teshtar Tir Yazad.

Khorshed Yazad.

Meher Yazad.

Avan Ardivisur Banu.

Adar Yazad.

Khordad Ameshaspand.

Amardad Ameshaspand.

Asfandamard Ameshaspand.

Govad Yazad.

Sarosh Yazad.

Farokh Farvardin.(Arda Fravash).

 

The Surat D. N. Modi Atashbehram is a prominent fire temple for most Pav Mahal ceremonies. Just as the Iranshah Atashbehram at Udwada is popular as the King of fires, and Navsari is termed as “Dharam ni tekri” or Mantle of religion, so also Surat is the preferred place for all Pav Mahal ceremonies. With due permission of the High priest of Surat, Dastur Noshirwan Manchershah the “Motti” Hamayasht ceremony has already commenced on Shenshahi Roj Adar, Mah Dey, i.e. 26th May 2003.

 

As per the information collected from senior mobed sahebs of the Atashbehram, the “Nani” Hamayasht ceremony had been performed 40 years ago in the memory of Daulatbanoo Jehangirji Gheewala. The “Motti” Hamayasht which is now being performed will comprise of 144 Yazashne, 144 Vendidad, 144 Afringan and 144 Baaj with the kshnuman of each of the 12 fareshtas (Yazatas) listed above. The expenditure for this will run into lakhs of Rupees. This ceremony is being conducted by a chust Bombay based Zarathushtri by the name of Hoshang Bengali in memory of his dear departed wife Homai. This ceremony will last for 70 days ! The Hamayasht requires 5 pairs of Yaozdathregar mobeds with proper Bareshnum Nahn.

 

The Mobeds selected for this gigantic task are Ervad Farokh B. Turel, Ervad Noshir B. Turel, Ervad Nairyosang J. Turel, Ervad Faredun J. Turel, Ervad Harvespa A. Sanjana, Ervad Adil A. Sanjana, Ervad Dara J. Bharda, Ervad Zubin P. Rabadi, Ervad Burjor F. Aibara, Ervad Kobad J. Bharda, and Ervad Porus S. Zarolia. These mobeds will perform for 70 days continuously with all tarikats of purity.

 

We hope and are confident that with the performance of this gigantic religious ceremony our Parsi Zarathushtri brothers and sisters will once again live in happiness, peace, unity and unflinching faith towards our deen and wish that the blessings of all the fareshtas descend on us in plenty to eradicate ahrimanic influences now prevalent with the help of the strong manthravani that emanate from this ceremony.

 

The trustees of the Modi Atashbehram, Vada Dasturji Saheb of Surat, Naib Dasturji Saheb and the 10 yaozdathregar mobed sahibs performing the ceremony cordially invite one and all humdin of Surat and outside towns, cities, countries to witness this kriya and be fortunate enough to receive the blessings of all the fareshtas and Pak Dadar Ahuramazda.

Meaning of Sadra


What is the meaning of the word ‘Sadra’ and why is it so called? Er. Dr. Ramiyar Karanjia explains:

• The word sadra or sudreh is derived from two Persian words sud “beneficial” and reh/rah “path”. Thus, sudreh means “a beneficial path”.

• The sadra is the road map that leads a Zoroastrian towards his duties and obligations of life. These duties and obligations are:
i. To be good
ii. To be responsible
iii. To be mindful of the two forces – good and evil – and work towards increasing the former and decreasing the latter.
iv. To be mindful of the two worlds – the physical and spiritual.
v. To look after the three main creations – plants, animals and minerals.

• These duties are symbolically enshrined in the nine seams (called saandhas in Gujarati) which make up the sadra – 1 gireban, 1 girdo, 2 sleeves, 2 sides and 3 tiris.

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Popular Parsi Myths


As an ethnic community, Parsis have lived in India for over a millennium and myriad myths have been cherished and closeted which require to be brought out and given an occasional dusting. We realised the need for doing this in the course of a recent interaction with some elders of the community. It dawned on us that some of our elders are unintentionally ignorant of so many truths…. hence, what can we expect from our youth?

Last year from the Shehenshahi month of Meher we started a monthly series on Parsi Parab or the day when the Roj coincides with the Mah. Our readers found the series both insightful and inspiring. In keeping with our motto to inspire and inform, we are pleased to kick off, with this issue of Parsi Times, yet another interesting series titled ‘Popular Parsi Myths’, by our Community luminary, a Zoroastrian scholar and visionary and a writer par excellence, Noshir H. Dadrawala. The object of this series is not to debunk closely but wrongly held beliefs, but to shed the light of truth on myths and fables and sift the facts from fiction. Read on…

Myth # 1: The Holy Fire – Iranshah was brought by our ancestors over a thousand years ago from Iran to India.

Fact: Iranshah was consecrated in Sanjan, India and according to tradition, on the ninth day of the ninth month of Samvat 777. However, the Aalaat or the sacred ritual requisites including the holy ash of the AtashBahram in Khorasan, was brought from Iran, reportedly on horse-back and on foot via Afghanistan and what is modern-day Pakistan. Hence, the first Atash Bahram consecrated by the Parsis in India is named Iranshah as it has a spiritual and ritual link with Iran.

Myth # 2: The leader of the group of Parsis who left Iran and came to Sanjan had promised the local king Jadi Rana that they (the Parsis) will not convert any Hindu to the Zoroastrian religion.

Fact: Very little is known or documented about the advent of the early Parsis to India. The earliest record is the Qissa-e-Sanjan written in 1599 A.C. In other words the earliest so called history of the Parsis was documented several centuries after their arrival in India. And, if one were to go by the Qissa-e-Sanjan there was no such promise made to Jadi Rana who was probably a local chieftain and not the King of India as popularly believed.

The Qissa-e-Sanjan refers to five conditions laid down by Jadi Rana before the Parsis – (1) Adopt the local language (Gujarati); (2) Disarm yourselves of all weapons; (3) Let Parsi women wear the saree and bangles; (4) Tie the thread in the marriage ceremony; and (5) Explain the Zoroastrian religion.

However, having said this, Justice Dinshaw Davar of the Bombay High Court in the celebrated Parsi Punchayet case (Petit V/s Jeejeebhoy 1908) was consistent in holding the view that no evidence existed to warrant any claim that in the history of the Parsis in India had the conversion of an individual born in another religion been known to the Zoroastrians of India.

Myth # 3: A very powerful demon by the name Zohak is tied by chains in a cave at Mount Demavand and one day he will set himself free and he will unleash untold havoc in this world.

Fact: We pray in the “Afreen-i-haft Ameshaspandan”: “Hamazor Daemavand koh ke dravand Bivarasp andar oye basta ested.” (Be in accord/attuned with Daemavand Koh (mountain) (which has the power and) in which is enchained the demon – Bivarasp, the demon (with power) of ten thousand horses”. The demon Bivarap is also known as Zohak or Azi Dahak (i.e. one who possesses or is the epitome of all the ten evils known to man like anger, arrogance, greed, ingratitude, jealousy, lust etc.).

According to legend, Zohak is the living embodiment of evil and is still chained to that great spiritual mountain, Demavand. It is said every night when the forces of evil gain strength the chains weaken. However, at the crack of dawn when the cock crows and the sun comes out, the chains are again secured and the evil one is rendered powerless. This is an important truth in nature wrapped in an easy-to-understand legend.

Only light exists. Darkness is simply the absence of light. In like manner, evil is the absence of Good. Zohak is the personification of evil in the form of a legend. Darkness gains strength in the absence of light, but vanishes in the presence of light. In like manner evil cannot be encountered with evil. Only good can dispel evil just the way light dispels darkness.

In our oncoming parts to this Series, we will share…

1) Should we stand or should be remain seated during the Boi ceremony?

2) Are Zoroastrian’s fire worshippers?

3) Is the winged human-head really a Zoroastrian symbol and does it represent the Fravashi or the Holy Spirit?

 

Noshir Dadrawala

http://parsi-times.com/2018/03/popular-parsi-myths/

Muktad – Hum Bandagi


Dear friends,

Here is the Humbandagi prayers for our Zarathushti friends who follow the Fasli calendar.

The prayer may be recited during the 10 Fasli Muktad days which start from March 11th Asman Roj to the last Gatha day which is on Tuesday March 20th.  The 5  Fasli Gatha days are from March 16th to March 20th.

I have also attached a pdf file for your convenience.

May Ahura Mazda bless us all.

Sincerely,

Rohinton K. Tarapore,

Chair, Zarathushti Association of New Orleans.

=======================================================

HUM BANDAGI – Prayer in memory of the departed souls

Introduction:

When the universe was first started by Ahu, His wish which is Ahunavar (Yatha Ahu Vairyo) was sent. Then came Fravashi. This Fravashi can be imagined as the mother of entire creation. A small portion with varied level of Ashoi does exist in everything in Universe from the Human being to the smallest of small particle. This provides a Spiritual Guiding force. The following prayer is to remember the Fravashi during the days of Farvadegan, when all Fravashis come to this Gaiti (Earth).

Translation:

For all my mistakes, I repent and promise to retreat from them. I praise and worship the Fravashi that are Asho (Righteous), good, brave, and those that help in our advancement.

  1. I get attuned, remember, pray and sing in praise of the excellent, heroic and bounteous Fravashis of all Righteous beings who bring happiness and prosperity to us. We praise the Fravashis of the High Priests belonging to our homes, cities, states and countries.
  1. Among all these Fravashis of the ancient epoch we worship here, the first and foremost is that of Dadar Ahura Mazda, which is the most exalted, the most excellent, and the best, the firmest and the wisest, the most gracious and the highest in righteousness.
  1. We remember the bounteous Holy Fravashis of the Amesha Spentas, who are the rulers, energetic eyed, the exalted and the mighty, who render help and assistance, act in accord with the Law of Ahura Mazda and who are the eternal Holy-ones.
  1. Here do we extol the life-force, the conscience, the intellect, the souls and the Fravashis of the righteous men and the righteous women of the ancient Mazdayasni faith before Zarathustra, and of the righteous men and the righteous women who were the first listeners to the religious     scriptures of Zarathushtra and who embraced his religion called Mazdayasni Zarathustrish. All these people strove hard for righteousness. We adore the soul of the bounteous Mother-Earth.
  1. Amongst those who strove hard for righteousness, we respectfully remember the Fravarshi of the righteous Gaya Maretan or Gayomard; we revere here both the Holiness and the Fravashi of Holy Spitama Zarathushtra; we venerate the Fravashi of the Kyanian King Gustasp, the Righteous; we venerate the Fravashi of the righteous Isat-vaastrahe, the eldest son of Zarathushtra.
  1. Here do we praise the Life-force, the conscience, the intellect, the souls and the Fravashis of the righteous men and the righteous women among the Nabanazdishtans (i.e. people born in Zarathusti religion, descendents of those who embraced Zarathusti religion) who strove hard for righteousness. Along with all these holy Fravarshis, do we revere those of the righteous departed souls, those of the righteous who are living, those of the heroes to be born and the heralds-of-renovation, the Saoshyants yet to come – to fight the evil and re-establish the Law of Asha (righteousness) in the world.
  1. Here do we praise the souls of the departed ones who fought for Ashoi and whose Fravashis are holy. Of all the departed souls of Nabanzdishtans, the Ervads, the disciples and men and women who have gone beyond from this fold, we here invoke the Fravarshis of these righteous men and of these righteous women.
  1. Of all the Ervards (or Gurus), we revere the Fravashis of the righteous Ervards. Of all the disciples, we revere the Fravashis of the holy disciples. Of all men, we revere the Fravarshis of the righteous men. Of all women, we revere the Fravashis of the righteous women.
  1. We praise the Fravashis of all holy innocent children of tender age; we praise the Fravashis of the holy inhabitants of this country; we praise the Fravashis of the holy inhabitants of other countries.
  1. Of men, we praise the Fravashis of the righteous men; of women, we praise the Fravashis of the righteous women. All the excellent, heroic and bounteous Fravashis of the Righteous do we revere, those right from Gaya Maretan, the first man upto Saoshyant, our last victorios savior to come.
  1. We remember and praise the Fravashis of all the righteous souls; We remember and praise the excellent heroic and bounteous Fravashis of the Holy-ones. All of them bring happiness and prosperity to us. We also remember and praise all the Yazads.

================================================================================================

HUM BANDAGI

Kshnaothra Ahura Mazdaao. Ashem Vohu(1).

**Az hama gunah patet pashemanum,

Ashaaonaanm vanghuhish suraao

spentaao fravashayo yazamaide. Ashaone

Ashem Vohu(1).** – Recite 3 times.

Ahmai Raeshcha; Hazangrem; Jasa me avanghahe; Kerfeh mozd.

1 Ashaaonaanm vanghuhish suraao

spentaao fravashayo staomi, zbayemi,

ufyemi; yazamaide nmaanyaao vîsyaao

zañtumaao dâkhyumaao zarathushtrôtemaao.

2 Vîspanaanmcha aaonghaanm paoiryanaanm

fravashinaanm idha yazamaide, fravashîm

avaam yaam Ahurahe Mazdaao, mazishtaanmcha

vahishtaanmcha sraêshtaanmcha, khraozdishtaanmcha

khrathvishtaanmcha hukereptemaanmcha,

ashaat apanôtemaanmcha.

3 Ashaaonaanm vanguhîsh suraao

spentaao fravashayo yazamaide; yaao

ameshanaanm speñtanaanm, khshaêtanaanm,

verezi-dôithranaanm, berezataanm, aiwyaamanaanm,

takhmanaanm, aahûiryanaanm, yôi aithyejanghô ashavanô.

4 Paoiryanaanm tkêshanaanm,

paoiryanaanm saasnô-gûshaanm idha

ashaonaanm, ashaoninaanmcha ahûmcha,

daênaanmcha, baodhascha, urvaaanemcha,

fravashîmcha yazamaide, Yôi ashaai

vaonare, gêush hudhaaonghô urvaanem yazamaide.

5 Yôi ashâi vaonare, gayehe marethnô

ashaonô fravashîm yazamaide.

Zarathushtrahe Spitaamahe idha ashaonô ashîmcha

fravashîmcha yazamaide. Kavôish Vîshtaaspahe

ashaonô fravashîm yazamaide. Isat-vaastrahe

Zarathushtrôish ashaonô fravashîm yazamaide.

6 Nabaanazdishtanaanm idha ashaonaanãm

ashaoninaanmcha ahûmcha daênaanmcha baodhascha

urvaanemcha fravashîmcha yazamaide, yôi ashaai

vaonare, mat vîspaabyô ashaonibyô fravashibyô,

yaao irîrithushaanm ashaonaanm, yaaoscha jvañtaanm

ashaonaanm, yaaoscha naraanm azaatanaanm,

frashô-charethraanm saoshyañtaanm.

7 Idha iristanaanm urvaanô yazamaide.

Yaao ashaaonaanm fravashayô, vîspanaanm ahmya

nmaane nabaanazdishtanaanm para-iristanaanm,

aêthrapaitinaanm aêthryanaanm, naraanm naairinaanm

idha ashaonaanm ashaoninaanm fravashayô yazamaide.

8 Vîspanaanm aêthrapaitinaanm ashaonaanm fravashayô

yazamaide. Vîspanaanm aêthryanaanm ashaonaanm fravashayô

yazamaide. Vîspanaanm naraanm ashaonaanm fravashayô

yazamaide. Vîspanaanm naairinaanm ashaoninaanm

fravashayô yazamaide.

9 Vîspanaanm aperenaayûkanaanm dahmôkeretanaanm

ashaonaanm fravashayô yazamaide, aadakhyunaanmcha

ashaonaanm fravashayô yazamaide, uzdakhyunaanmcha

ashaonaanm fravashayô yazamaide.

10 Naraanmcha ashaonaanm fravashayô yazamaide,

naairinaanmcha ashaoninaanm fravashayô yazamaide.

Vîspaao ashaaunaanm vanguhîsh sûraao speñtaao

fravashayô yazamaide, yaao hacha gayaat marethnat

aa-saoshyañtaat verethraghnat.

11 Vispaao Fravashyo ashaaonaanm yazamaide,

ashaaonaanm vanghuish suraao spentaao fravashayo

yazamaide. Vispe ashavano yazata yazamaide.

Ashem Vohu(1).

 

 

https://sites.google.com/site/zarathushtiprayers/Muktad%20Humbandagi.pdf

Muktad Humbandagi

What is Ardibahesht Yasht?


What is Ardibahesht Yasht? (Ervad Dr. Ramiyar Parvez Karanjia)

 

Ardibahesht Yasht is the shortest among the ‘shorter Yashts’. It is also one of the most favourite among Zoroastrians, perhaps because of its length and efficacy.

 

Ardibahesht Ameshaspand: He is the divine being who presides over fire. In Zoroastrian understanding fire does not only mean physical fire but also all energies. So Ardibahesht Ameshaspand, on a physical plane presides also over different types of Energies – Physical, and spiritual (Khoreh). Ardibahesht Ameshaspand also presides over health, as the real source of health and healing is divine energy

 

The word Ardibahesht comes form the Pahlavi words Ard Vahisht (Av. Asha Vahishta “the Best Truth”). The word Asha is understood in several ways: divine law, order, beauty, truth, righteousness, holiness, piety, purity, etc. Each of these meanings are inter-connected.

 

The words Asha Vahishta also imply the “Divine Plan” of Ahura Mazda which all of us need to understand and follow. Ardibahesht is the 3rd roj of the month and the 2nd mah of the Zoroastrian calendar.

 

From an ethical viewpoint, Ardibahesht represents the truth and from a metaphysical viewpoint he represents The (Ultimate) Truth which is manifested when one can understand Asha, that is one’s “Life’s Purpose” and subsequently reach Asha Vahishta – the “Divine Plan” of Ahura Mazda. this is the only way to get Ushta “inner happines. This is also the message of the Ashem Vohu prayer.

 

Ardibahesht Ameshaspand on the Cosmic plane is the Cosmic Plan that God put into motion with all its attendant laws, especially the law of cause and effect.

 

Ardibahesht Ameshaspand is the chief divinity of the Rapithwin Gah. Winter is considered evil (druj-e-zimistan) in Zoroastrian tradition. Ardibahesht Ameshaspand fights winter. That is why in Iran during winter Rapithwin Gah was not recited as it was believed that Ardibahesht Ameshaspand had gone underground to give warmth to the earth. He would surface after winter, hence Rapithwan Geh could be recited once again from Farvardin mah.

 

Co-workers:

 

The Hamkars “co-workers” of Ardibahesht Ameshaspand are Adar Yazad who presides over fire and Khvarena “divine energy”, Sarosh Yazad who brings intuitions and divine guidance, and Behram Yazad who presides over victory and success. The two grades of fire – Atash Adaran and Atash Behram are associated with Ardibahesht who as an Ameshaspand looks after fire.

 

The Associates of Ardibahesht Ameshaspand are the Yazads Airyaman and Saoka. Airyaman is for harmony as also for repelling diseases, physical and mental illnesses, negativities and death. Through Saoka Yazad comes all happiness that is destined for the world. He keeps back the demons inflicting more than necessary punishment on the souls.

 

Druj

 

“lie, deceit” is the adversary of Ardibahesht. It is responsible for evils resulting from chaos, disharmony and lies. On a physical plane, it brings severe winters.

 

Asha Vahishta is one of the most basic concepts in Avesta. The three short Avestan chants– Ashem Vohu, Yatha Ahu Vairyo and Yenghe Hatam – revolve around Asha Vahishta. Ahura Mazda, Zarathushtra, Amesha Spentas and all other divine beings are referred to as ashavan, that is “in accord with Asha – The Truth.”

 

Ardibahesht Yasht:

 

In the beginning of the Yaht, Ahura Mazda tells Zarathushtra that among the Ameshaspands, Ardibahesht is the foremost for adoration and veneration. Zarathushtra agrees to venerate Ardibahesht as the foremost Ameshaspand (1-2). We are told that it is possible to reach Garothman “the Highest Heaven”, the abode of Ahura Mazda, through the help of Ardibahesht Ameshaspand (3-4).

 

Thereafter the prayer of Airyaman Yazad is mentioned as the most powerful against all evils including Angra Mainyu (5).

 

Five types of healing are mentioned: 1. Asho baeshazo“Healing with Asha/Truth” (this may also mean healing as per the divine Plan), 2. Dāto baeshazo “Healing with Law / justice”, 3. Kereto baeshazo “healing with surgery”, 4. Urvaro baeshazo “Healing with herbs”, 5.Mānthro baeshazo “Healing with prayers.” Among these, healing by prayers is considered best as it heals from within. (6)

 

Thereafter powerful autosuggestions are given against evils. A desire is expressed that may evils like sickness, demons, opponents, snakes, inimical persons, evil women and harmful north-winds perish (apa-dvarata) (7-9). The devotee then urges Ardibahesht Ameshaspand to smite (jainti) the above mentioned and similar other evils for him. The devotee has the confidence that Ardibahesht Ameshaspand will smite (janat) thousands of demons, the worst of the demons including the arch demon Angra Mainyu. and drive them away towards the north (10-16).

 

In the end a desire is expressed that may the evil perish and flee towards the North, so that the rest of the world may not be harmed (17). This thought is expressed even at the end of the Kem nā Mazdā prayer. The Yasht ends with Avesta and Pazand passages similar to other Yashts.

 

After the Yasht, the Nirang is recited, which is held to be very efficacious. It is recited even as a prayer by itself and is often prayed over people who are not well. In the Nirang, Ahura Mazda is extolled and Ahriman is referred as ignorant and wicked, who should be defeated and destroyed. Zoroastrian religion and Ahura Mazda are praised at the end.

 

It is advisable to recite the short Airyaman prayer immediately after reciting the Ardibahesht Yasht and its Nirang.

 

There are two traditions firmly associated with Ardibahesht Yasht in our Community. Both these traditions underlie two of Ardibahesht. Ameshaspand’s basic characteristics, the first is its association with health and the second is with truth.

 

The first tradition is Ardibahesht ni picchi, in which, a devotee prays for a dear one or for self in case of ill health. Whilst praying the Ardibahesht Yasht, passes are made either by hand or by a handkerchief over the person’s body from head to toe and then the negative energy is shaken off.

 

The other tradition is Ardibahesht ni chavi which means moving a key with the help of Ardibahesht ameshaspand. It has to be done by a pious, adept person to identify a culprit in case of loss or theft. For this purpose, an iron key is kept in a Khordeh Avesta over which a Kasti is tied. Then fire is lit in a small Afarganyu and a person prays the Farajyat prayers followed by the Ardibahesht Yasht. Then the key is supported on the fingertips and the list of suspects is read out. On the name of the culprit the key is supposed to turn round and the Khordeh Avesta falls down. If this happens on the same name for 4 to 5 times, it is believed that the particular suspect is the culprit. Performing the Ardibahesht ni chhavi presupposes a certain level of spiritual statue, regular practice of the religious tariqats and a certain level of abstinence in the person who performs it. Without these, one may not get the correct results. Hence in present times there is a risk in doing this practice or else an innocent person may be unnecessarily be blamed.

Image may contain: fire

 

The Missing Jamaspe


Truth, they say, is stranger than fiction.

 

This is a  story narrated to Roshnimai Godiwala by a pious lady.  It is the story of a simple husband who was unfortunate to have a wife whose lavish spending  habits left him greatly distressed.  For a long time, he tried his best to cater  to her incessant monetary demands till one day, out of sheer despair,  he decided to end his life. Even as he stood, poised for a leap unto death,  on a precipice overlooking the Wai Ghat near Panchgani, a Sadhu suddenly appeared by his side.

 

When questioned by the ascetic, this Parsi gentleman explained his predicament , saying he was going to meet his Maker. The ascetic laughed aloud and told the Parsi that if this was truly a way to be liberated from life’s worries and meeting God, then many mortals would have succeeded by now. He requested this troubled soul to visit his Ashram and assured him that he would help him to meet God. Since the desperate Parsi had nothing to lose anyway, he accompanied the Sadhu to his Ashram.

 

The ascetic gave this despairing soul a fruit to eat.  No sooner was the fruit consumed, the Parsi went into a samadhi like state, liberated from all flesh and blood needs-no thirst, no hunger, no sleep, no defecation for forty days!  When he returned from this trance like state, he had partaken of many secrets and mysteries lying locked in Nature’s vault. The ascetic handed a Jamaspe to this enlightened soul, instructing him how to use the book to prescribe Nirangs , prayers to other long suffering Parsi souls that they may enjoy some relief and happiness. He also told this Parsi that, henceforth, every morning when he awoke, he would find a ten rupee note under his pillow. It is worth noting that this sequence of events occurred in the forties when a rupee held great value.

 

On returning home, the man went about using the copy of Jamaspe and recently acquired divine knowledge for the work assigned to him.  As for his extravagant wife, there was always the ten rupee note every morning to satisfy her foolish demands. After some time, the man realised his natural end was drawing near. He called a pious lady neighbour whom he trusted, and told her to take away the Jamaspe and carry on the good work after his death.  The lady disciple told him that she would collect the sacred book from the prayer shelf with the burning oil lamp only after he had passed away.  She assured him that she would then put it to good use as instructed by him.  However, after his demise, when she tried  to collect the book from the secret place shown to her, the book was missing!

 

Roshnimai asked late Jehangirji Sohrabji Chiniwalla Saheb (disciple of Ustad Saheb Behramshah Navroji Shroff) to explain why the book had vanished from the secret place shown to the survivor.  He explained that , in the Aravali mountains, even today, there are places cut off from the outside material world by talismatic kash.  Here lie some Astral Libraries where Holy Books of all the Divinely Revealed Religions are kept. Jehangirji Sohrabji Chiniwala Saheb opined that, since the survivor lady was not found eligible to use the secrets of Jamaspe, it must have, so to say, ehtherialised and got restored to one such astral library! He also explained that there are many such advanced souls dwelling in these places cut off from the outside materialistic world. Though the Sadhu was not a Parsi, he could draw the relevant book from such an astral library by virtue of his spiritual stature so that the Parsi could do the good work he was destined to do for other suffering Parsis.

 

The cynic and the doubting Thomas, will dismiss this story as an unbelievable yarn. We wish him good luck!

 

Strange are the ways of Nature and stranger, the multidimensional truths and events lying beyond the grasp of our puny human intellect that always presumes to understand the multidimensional truths of Nature. But then,as Hamlet told his friend,

 

“There are more things in Heaven and earth, Horatio than are dreamt of in your philosophy!.”

 

Courtesy : K F Keravala

 

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