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

 

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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

 

Tirgan


Tirgan

In the starry Heavens, Ahura Mazda has positioned 4 Guardians, i.e. the 4 Fixed Stars in the 4 Sacred Directions to protect His Good Creations from the armies of Angre-Mainyu.

 

The 4 Guardians of the 4 Directions are:

1)    Teshtar Tir (Sirius) in the Eastern Sky, affiliated to Planet Mercury,

2)    Satvas (Vega) in the West, affiliated to Planet Venus,

3)    Vanant (Antares) in the South, affiliated to Planet Jupiter,

4)    Haptrang (Pleiades) in the North, affiliated to Planet Mars.

 

(These 4 Stars are mentioned in the Pahlavi Minog-i-Kherad, chapter 49, Bundahishn, chapter 2, (SBE), and Doctor Saheb F. S. Chiniwala’s translation of Tir Yasht, as well as in Kangaji’s Khordeh-Avesta-Ba-Mayeni. There are some minor discrepancies in the English names of stars, especially with Vanant. Some scholars take it to be Fomalfaut but Prof. Haug, Behramgor Anklesaria and Dr. Faramroze Chiniwala maintain it is “Antares”. I have taken the above mentioned English names of stars from Tir Yasht by Dr. F. Chiniwala, p. 60).

 

The exaltation and homage to Teshtar Tir Yazad is revealed in the Tir Yasht. It reveals that Ahura Mazda created Teshtar Tir (Sirius) as the Chieftain over all the Stars. He created Tir as brilliant, as worthy of worship, adoration and glorification as Himself! He authorized and empowered Tir Yazad as the lord and overseer over all the Stars. Tir is called “rayomand, khorehmand”, which is how Ahura Mazda Himself is addressed! The Brilliance, the Divine Light of Tir Yazad defeats the darkness and ignorance spread by Angre-Mainyu and helps Ahura Mazda to achieve the divine predetermined event of Frashogard at the appointed time.

Click to continue reading

Courtesy : Pervin Mistry

 

THE FEAST OF TIRANGAN (MAH TIR, ROJ TIR)


The Feast of Tirangan (Mah Tir, Roj Tir) Celebrates Reign of Peace and Rain of Prosperity!

Tir, or Testar (Avestan Tishtrya), is the divinity presiding over the Star Sirius (Greek Seirios which means glowing or scorching) or the Dog Star which is the brightest star visible from all parts of the earth in the night sky. Sirius is colloquially called the ‘Dog Star’, on account of its prominence in the constellation of Canis Major or Big Dog. Most ancient civilizations viewed Sirius as the earth’s second or spiritual sun.

In the Zoroastrian religious texts, Testar-Tir is venerated as radiant, glorious and invoked in order to bring rain, enhance harvest and keep the demon of draught at bay. Little wonder that it was originally meant to be a rain or monsoon festival and still celebrated according to the Fasal or seasonal calendar in the month of July. Likewise, ancient Egyptians observed that in the month of July, with the heliacal rising of the Star Sirius (Heliacal rising means the first night that a star is seen in the eastern horizon, just before dawn) the Nile generally started to flood and bring fertility to the land. Thus, the flood and the rising of Sirius also marked the ancient Egyptian New Year. The ancient Greeks also observed that the appearance of Sirius or the dog star heralded the hot and humid summer season causing plants to wilt and men to tire. The season following the star’s appearance came to be known as the ‘Dog Days of summer’, an expression still in use.

The festival of Tiragan is one of the three most widely celebrated seasonal festivals of ancient Iran, and is even mentioned in the Jewish Talmud. While Navruz (Mah Fravardin, Roj Hormuzd) celebrates renewed life and the warmth of spring after the cold winter season and Meherangan (Mah Meher, Roj Meher) commemorates harvest during autumn, Tirangan (Mah Tir, Roj Tir) welcomes the heat of summer and life-giving rain. Tiragan is mainly associated with the legend of the arrow (tir), which is briefly alluded to in the Tir Yasht: “We honor the bright, khwarrah (glory) endowed star Tishtrya who flies as swiftly to the Vouru-kasha sea as the supernatural arrow which the archer Erexsha, the best archer of the Iranians, shot from Mount Airyo-xshutha to Mount Xwanwant. For Ahura Mazda gave him assistance; so, did the waters …”

The legend of Erexsha (modern Eruchsha) or Pahlavi Arish Shivatir i.e Arish of the swift arrow, is also referred to in other texts like Firdausi’s Shahnameh (Book of Kings) and Mirkond, History of the Early Kings of Persia, translated by David Shea. According to these later texts, Erekhsha or ‘Arish of the swift arrow’, was the best archer in the Iranian army. When Shah Minochihr and Afrasyab of pre-historic Iran decided to make peace, and fix the boundary between Iran and Turan, it was agreed that Arish would ascend Mount Damavand in Northern Iran, and from the peak fire an arrow towards the east and the place in which the arrow would land would form the boundary between the two kingdoms.

Arish thereupon ascended the mountain, and discharged an arrow, the flight of which continued from the dawn of day until noon, when it fell on the banks of the Jihun (the Oxus or Amu Darya in Central Asia, in modern times the border around Tajikistan and Afghanistan). The day was Tir Roj of Tir Mah. Thus, the festival of Tirangan also celebrates the spirit of peace and freedom.

The Persian Rivayat (essentially correspondence between the Zoroastrian Priests of Navsari in India and the Zoroastrian priests of Yazd in Iran) speak of a great draught in Iran as a result of the conflict between Iranians and Turanians. Shah Faridoon had segregated Iran and Turan under a covenant. However, the Turanians under Afrasiab breached the covenant. The arrow was released on Roj Tir of Mah Tir and when Afrasiab and the Turanians left Iran it took them ten days to reach Turan. The tenth day was Roj Govad (dedicated to the good wind) and it rained heavily on that day and ended eight years of draught and ushered peace and prosperity for both Iran and Turan.

Late Professor Dr. Mary Boyce in her book ‘Persian Stronghold of Zoroastrianism’ refers to the custom among Zoroastrians of Yazd in Iran, tying rainbow-colored bands on their wrists on Tirangan, wearing them for ten days and then throw them in a stream. These colourful bands were worn as good-luck charms and during this period children in particular found great joy in swimming or splashing around in the local village streams.

The Rivayat however records that priests used to write a Nirang (short prayer) which members of the community wore on their wrist or arm on Roj Tir of Mah Tir and removed it after ten days on Roj Govad and cast it into running brooks and streams, symbolically casting all calamities (particularly draught and hunger) to the flowing waters to carry away.

In the Tir Yasht we invoke Tishtrya as “Provider of rain, helpful and health giving”. In fact, Tishtrya yazata affirms in the same litany, “If men would worship me with the yasna in which my own name is invoked, then I would render the world prosperous and fertile by showering rain”. The Tir Yasht also records the victory of Tishtrya over Apaosha, the demon of drought and ensuring happiness not just for people but all vegetation and animals.

Noshir H. Dadrawala 

Kash of Paak Atash Behram Padshah Saheb


On the joyous occasion of the salgireh of Paak Banaji Atash Behram Saheb, am pleased to share the below article.

The sanctified land, divine edifice and sacred Kash of Paak Atash Behram Padshah Saheb

Disclaimers: 1. The article is a feeble attempt to encapsulate the essence of the key messages as explained in the Purso Pasokh series by the late doyen of Ilm-e-Khshnoom Seth Jehangirji Sohrabji Chiniwala. The Gujarati articles of Seth Jehangirji appeared in Parsi Avaz weekly of 27th February and 6th March 1955 (Vol. 8, Issue 35 & 36). Readers are strongly encouraged to read these beautiful Gujarati articles from the Parsi Avaz weekly in order to gain a fuller and richer understanding of the aforesaid subject.

  1. This article provides glimpses about the mystical knowledge pertaining to Atash Behram Padshah Saheb purely from a Khshnoom point of view and it is hoped that no misunderstanding gets created on account of the same. Certain technical terms in Gujarati have been translated into the most approximate equivalent term in English and readers are requested to bear in mind such limitations of the English vocabulary as also those of the translator.
  2. This article is recommended for reading by true seekers of truths of our religion who have an open, objective and unbiased bent of mind. This article is not for those who are allergic to the divine knowledge of Khshnoom and also not for those who do not have implicit faith in the time-tested tenets and traditions of our pristine religion.

Click to continue reading… Kash of Paak Atash Behram Padshah Saheb

Courtesy : K F Keravala

Farokh Fravardin – A month of Good Fortune and Happiness dedicated to the Holy Spirit


Parsi Times brings you our monthly ‘Religion Special: PT Parab Series’, by our religious scholar and cultural expert, the erudite Noshir Dadrawala. Every Month, we share with you a deeper understanding of the auspicious day of the month- The Parab- when the Mah (month) and the Roj (day) coincide. Here’s celebrating this month’s Parab – ‘Farokh Fravardin’ which falls on Monday 4th September, 2017.

Fravardin is the first month of the Zoroastrian calendar and very appropriately so because the month is dedicated to the Fravashi or Farohar, which is the prototype of all creation. In the Zoroastrian tradition while invoking Fravardin, we use the epitaph Farokh which means fortunate and happy. In our prayers we recite, “Mah Farokh Fravardin” meaning the happy and fortunate month of Fravardin. Indeed, what a wonderfully appropriate epitaph for the very first month of the year. A month of good fortune, happiness and dedicated to Holy Fravashis, often described as the guardian spirit.

Fravashi is somewhat similar to the Pitri of the Hindus or the Manes of the Romans and Greeks – the Beneficent Spirit. Zoroastrians view Fravashi or Farohar as a Divine Essence, which is wholly pure and good. It is not to be confused with the Ruwan or soul. The Avestan word Fravashi comes from the word “Fra” (to take forward) and “vaksh” (to grow). In other words, Fravashi is that spiritual essence or power that takes every good creation of Ahura Mazda forward and helps it to grow.

Fravashi is also a prototype, which is believed to have existed before the material creation. Even Ahura Mazda and His Divine Energies, the Amesha Spentas and the Yazatas, are said to have their own fravashi. Plants, animals, mountains and rivers also have their own fravashi. They are guardian spirits of the souls of the dead and protect and guide the souls of the living, as well.

The Parab of Fravardin

Roj Fravardin of Mah Fravardin marks the day when devout Zoroastrians head for the Dokhma or Aramgah in their city, town or village to offer prayers to the Fravashi of their dear departed. One could say it is observed as the Zoroastrian “All Souls’ Day” or more appropriately the day dedicated to the collective ‘Holy Spirit’ of all creation.

Prayers Offered: Usually a Jashan is performed where members of the community participate, often in very large numbers. This is usually followed by a Hum Bandagi or a mass congregational prayer to propitiate the Holy Fravashis. Individually, devotees usually pray the Stum no Kardooffering fruits and food items to the Fravashi of their dear departed. Many also pray the Fravardin Yasht or hymn to the Holy and Righteous Fravashis.

In the very first week of the month of Fravardin there are several significant days:

  • Mah Fravardin Roj Hormuzd (New Year)
  • Mah Fravardin Roj Ardibehesht (Day to consecrate Rapithwan)
  • Mah Fravardin Roj Khordad (Khordadsaal and traditionally Asho Zarathushtra’s Birthday)
  • Mah Fravardin Roj Amardad (Amardadsaal to celebrate eternity of the Fravashis)

Consecrating Rapithwan

In the Zoroastrian religious tradition, the day of twenty-four hours is divided into five watches called Gah. The first watch of the day from sunrise to noon for example is the Havan Gah. The second watch of the day from noon to early evening is Rapithwan Gah and so on. Rapithwan is the second watch of the day. However, it is observed only from the first day of the New Year (Roj Hormuzd of Mah Fravardin) to the last day of the seventh month (i.e. up to Roj Aneran of Mah Meher). From Roj Horuzd of the eighth month of Avan to the day of the last Gatha we observe the second Havaninstead of Rapithwan. In other words, we observe the Rapithwan Gah for only seven out of the twelve months of the Zoroastrian calendar.

It is an old tradition from the time when we lived way up north and the days were shorter and hence we prayed the ‘Second Havan’ or Havan extended right through Rapithwan. Currently with our calendars gone haywire and our living in various Zones, North to South, all this would seem out of context. However, traditionally, starting from the month of Fravardin we can pray Rapithvin Gah till the month of Avan which earlier in history was autumn and Rapithwi (The energy of warmth) symbolically went underground to protect roots and life through the cold winter.

Also, although we observe the Rapithwan Gah from New Year’s Day, the consecration (Eejavanu)ceremony of this Gah is generally performed on the third day of the New Year, (or Roj Ardibehest of Mah Fravardin). The ceremony involves the regular Ijashne (or ‘Yasna’ of 72 chapters) with emphasis on the Lord/Divinity of Rapithwan and omission of certain phrases invoking the Lords/Divinities of the other Gahs.

One of the reasons why this ceremony is performed on Roj Ardibehest is because the Khshnuman (dedicatory formula) of Rapithwan is quite similar to the Khshnuman of the day of Ardibehesht.However, the Boiwala Priests of Atash Behram consecrate the Rapithwan on Roj Hormuzd itself to acquire amal (ritual power) for performing Boi during the full seven months in the Rapithwan Gah. Consecrating the ‘Rapithwan’ is considered an important religious duty.

Fravardin Yasht

Among Zoroastrian Yashts (hymns) Fravardin is the longest with 158 verses. It mainly propitiates the Righteous Fravashis. Throughout the Yasht we pray: “Ashaaunaam vanguhish suraao spentaao fravashayao yazamaidé” which means: “We remember with reverence the holy, good, brave, prosperity giving Fravashis of the Holy”

In the Fravardin YashtFravashi is described as a purifier and a powerful helper of Ahura Mazda in protecting all good creations. In the Fravardin Yasht we also pray: “We worship the good, strong, beneficent Fravashis of the faithful; whose friendship is good, and who know how to benefit; whose friendship lasts long; who like to stay in the abode where they are not harmed by its dwellers; who are good, beautiful, afar, health-giving, of high renown, conquering in battle, and who never do harm.”

Cosmically, Fravashis are divided into three groups — the living, the dead, and the yet unborn. They are the force upon which Ahura Mazdā depends to maintain the cosmos against demonic forces. They protect all sacred fires and symbolically keep darkness imprisoned in the world.

We would conclude with a verse from the Fravardin Yasht which affirms: “May (they) who (are) the Fravashis of the righteous keep love over us here (i.e. in this world) quickly and verily! (And) may they come to our help! (Also) may those (Fravashis) save us, the living ones with (their) powerful help at the time of calamity! (Besides, may those Fravashis be) (our) helpers through Ahura Mazda, through the brave righteous Sraosha Yazata, and through the learned Mānthra Spenta! Which (Mānthra Spenta) is opposed to the doctrines of daevas and the messenger of Ahura Mazda, whom (the Prophet) Zarathushtra saw with the sincerest vision in the corporeal world.”

 

by Noshir Dadrawalla

http://parsi-times.com/2017/09/farokh-fravardin-month-good-fortune-happiness-dedicated-holy-spirit/

To Donate Or Not To Donate!


The concept of Organ Donation in our Community is as controversial as it is noble, and the past few weeks has seen a resurgence of debates and discussions about this topic. Noshir Dadrawala helps clear the air and do away with related confusions.

With respect to everyone’s beliefs, and with the main aim of shedding light on this topic, I share my knowledge and my beliefs on the concept of Organ Donation in order to provide clarity by doing away with any misinformation that may lead our Zarthostis to form opinions based on well-intentioned myths or worse, baseless fears.

So let’s start with the facts – the truth is that Zoroastrian scriptures are silent on the subject of organ donation, because surgery was not as advanced in those days. When scriptures are silent, tradition is often invoked. But, higher than tradition is the truth. And, the Truth is, our religion is based on Ushta or happiness and happiness comes to one who makes others happy. Let us never stray away from this fundamental precept. Our religion is also based on Asha or Truth and Righteousness. So first seek the truth before you fall prey to myths. Ask yourself this question, is it righteous to allow human suffering to persist or perish?

Who’s Body? Who’s Soul? The human body is all that we, in our physical form, really own in this material world – it is the cover we acquire in our mortal existence through this temporary journey called life. Our soul is eternal and theologically the soul returns to the spiritual world when we pass on and leave the mortal physical body behind. If that could be of use to reducing the physical misery of another soul, sent forth by the same Creator that sent us, would that make it right or wrong?

Of Karmic Debts… According to esoteric theories, the physically impaired are challenged due to some ‘karmic’ debt. In like manner, some are poor, hungry and roofless, also due to ‘karmic’ debt. By this logic, Jeejeeboy, Petit, Tata, Godrej and the Wadia families should all have kept their wealth to themselves and let the poor and roofless endure their ‘karmic’ fate! No? Who are we to lessen the burden of those who suffer due to their past or present karma? Is being charitable putting a spoke in the karmic wheel of Divine Retribution? Is this how we will justify our lack of empathy or charity when we meet our Maker?

The real essence of charity is wilfully ‘giving away something even though we may need it’. But just as we give our wealth when alive and our estates after we depart in our will, we could contribute blood or plasma while alive to save lives, and organs when we are no more! Charity can be done as much during life as after death.

Debunking Dokhma Myths: Some believe that amputed or severed body parts should be consigned to the Dokhma, after performing the GehSarna ritual. I’m certain, like me, a number of you may have had your tonsils removed as children, or maybe an appendix or a cyst? I’m sure, like me, you wouldn’t know what your doctors did with that! An uncle had his gall bladder and appendix removed. There is high incidence of breast and ovarian cancer among Parsi women and prostrate and testicular cancers among Parsi men. I really can’t think of priests performing ceremonies over these body parts and consigning them to the Dokhma!

In fact, if one goes strictly by the scriptures, the Dokhma should be situated far away from habitation. But we don’t cater to that – and have in fact, built a Parsi colony where there was once a jungle! According to esoteric Zoroastrianism, the body should be fully disposed by the fourth day and the ‘anasaar’ (spiritual components) handed over to Daham Yazata. But, it is a fact that today, bodies take months to decompose. Would you rather have a crow or a kite peck out your loved one’s eyes or a surgeon skilfully save the cornea to light up someone else’s darkness?

Ponder This: I have a dear Parsi friend (now 83 years young) who lost vision in one eye 40, years ago. From a super active and creative Bank executive, he suddenly became a helpless, dependent individual. 17 years later, he lost vision in the other eye. Thanks to a donor, he got back his vision and his life returned to normalcy, and he’s now immersed himself in social work, thanks to which, over a thousand Parsis have visited Iran over the last two decades! Think about it – should he have accepted blindness as karmic retribution or undergone surgery and made a difference in this world with the gift of sight? Thanks to this experience, several members of his family (including his mother and wife) have already donated their eyes after death!

In Conclusion: Please let’s not make an issue of this noble and ultimate gesture of humanity – If you feel like donating blood to save a life, go ahead and donate. If you wish to donate your cornea, kidney, liver or heart after death, go ahead! You could also donate your skin and bring relief to a person who is badly burnt and in agony. But, if you do not wish to do so, that also would be alright. After all, whose body is it anyway?

This article has been written neither with the intent to fan the flame of this controversy nor to offend any orthodox/traditional sentiments. To each their own … for those who wish to donate their organs after death, no coaxing will be needed, and those who do not wish to, no argument will be convincing. From dust I came, and to dust I shall return… or from life I came and to life I shall give back and live on in someone else’s eyes or heart. That choice is entirely yours!

Noshir Dadrawalla

Parsi Times

http://parsi-times.com/2017/08/donate-not-donate/

Significance of Flowers in Zoroastrian Religion


 

Soroush is the first creation of Ahuramazda who learnt Gathas by heart, offering its worship to Ahuramazda with a branch of Barsam. It is one of Bahaman’s companions. Listening to Soroush is to hear and obey Ahuramazda’s orders.

Barsam represents all trees, vegetations and plants. It is a bundle of small twigs of a tree, usually cut from Pomegranate tree or Myrtle by a special knife called Barsamchin while reciting some prayers during the procedure. The whole process is a ritual and after the barsams are cut and washed they are tied together with a strand of palm leaf.

In the Book of creation called Bon-dahesh, each Amshaspand is symbolized by a flower-plant: Below is the list of Amshaspands and the flower attributed to them:

Ahuramazda is represented by Myrtle, Bahman with white Jasmin, Ordibehesht with Marjoram, Sharivar with Basil, Sepandarmaz with Melissa, Khorda’d with Iris, Morda’d with Lily.

As we will see, flowers and plants seen in the stone-carvings of Persepolis are symbols of the above Amshaspands and other determining principles of Zoroaster’s faith. This is a very important point overlooked by all Iranologists who identified them wrongly as enumerated below:

The Barsam held in the hand of the King Darius is identified as Lotus.

Flowers surrounding Frahvashi (Fravahar) are identified as palm tree.

The decorations around the neck of the cow as lotus bud calling it 12 petal flower.

Lotus actually found a place in Iranian art and architecture as the flower symbolizing the Iranian goddess of water, Anahita enjoying a very important place in Iranian Mythology. Later we will show that considering the climatic environment of Persepolis (a dry mountainous place), the flower identified as Lotus (famous as flower of marshes) in its stone-reliefs, could not possibly be this flower.

Flowers held by the king and the crown prince are thought to be Egyptian due to the presence of a bud between two blossoms and the arrangement of the stem.

In the images of Persepolis, while the first four passages are pictorially represented by the victory of goodness (in the image of the king or a royal hero) over devils, the last two passages through Khorda’d (perfection) and Morda’d (eternal life) representing the highest aspirations, spring of life and creativity, fertility, growth and final unification with Ahuramazda are illustrated masterfully and in a poetical way, in the form of their symbol, the flower Iris (notice the joined stems of images 10 & 11), particularly in those images conveying the concept of holiness.

Image 10- Stems of Iris: (a) Right Persepolis Stone-carvings. (b) Left, Iris Aphylla

Image 11-(a) The underground rhizomes of iris and their connection with each other (b) Iris growing in a line (c) The stone-carvings with underground rhizomes, (d) A general view of Persepolis stone-carving, notice the similarities b/w the real flower of Iris and the stone carvings in (a) and (b).

It is not in vain that the presence of frahvashi (fravahar), symbolizing the whole path of this spiritual journey (passages through the 6 Amshaspands) and attainment of holiness and eternal life (reaching the light of lights (khavarafkhashia) which is the most important part of the Zoroastrian transcendental philosophy is depicted next to Iris (see image 12).


Image 12- Presence of fravashi (fravahar) as the symbol of spiritual evolution (passage through six Amshaspand) and attainment of holiness and eternal life next to Iris.

On the other hand, the flower symbolizing one of the assistants of Amshaspand Morda’d, the divinity Rashn is Eglantine; a flower with a pleasant calming scent seen repeated in the frames of the stone-reliefs between cypresses like a scaffold, protecting the line of guests like a canopy (Image number 13). The continued presence of Eglantine as a symbol of protection and preservation of life (both humans and gardens) can be found in “Ershad-ol-zera’-eh” (a guidebook of gardening) written in 16th century, containing the history of garden-making in ancient Iran.

Image 13 – Repetition of flowers in the frames of Cyrus Hall like scaffolds of eglantine sheltering the guests as an allusion to the divinity Rashn – (Images of stone-reliefs of Iran, British Museum, 1932).

Now comes the question of lotus and its connection with barsam. As it was mentioned before, a number of researchers have wrongly identified barsam (the symbol of all trees and vegetations) in Darius’ hand as Lotus, and speculated it to be the same flower seen around the neck of animals, overlooking the fact that this flower can hardly grow in dry climatic weather of Pars ( Fars ). In addition to requiring special conditions for its growth, lotus is very sensitive to light and humidity. It is a flower growing in marshes closing its petals when the light fades. Lotus with the sharp end of its blossoms and the inner curving of its petals as well as its sensitivity and impermanence could not be the flower used during long rituals (from the beginning of preparation of barsam to the end of ceremonies) which instead required a longer lasting flower (Image number 14).

Image No. 14- Lotus and its natural bio-ecological environment (aquatic).

Image number 15 shows the similarity of the flower in Darius’ hand, with pomegranate flower. From the bio-ecological point of view, apart from its sacredness and beauty, pomegranate flower is more in harmony with the climatic conditions of the region and physiologically it is more resistant than aquatic flowers, therefore it is a more appropriate flower to be used in long ceremonies.

Image No.15 -Similarity of barsam in Darius’ hand (right) with pomegranate flower (left).

In Avesta we read: “It is said, the divinity Soroush spreads barsam, three times, five times, seven times and nine times and offers the worship to Ahuramazda.”

In Yasna (chapter 43, paragraph 12) it is said: “When you ordered me ‘Appeal to asha and know her’ you told me unheard words: Try to let Soroush penetrate you to recognize divine graciousness granting reward and punishment to both groups.”

Soroush is one of the divinities playing an important role in the struggle against devils. It is said in Bondahesh: “Soroush received the task of guardianship from Ahuramazda. In the same way that Ahuramazda is the Lord of the heaven and the universe, Soroush is the Lord of the world and it is said, Ahuramazda is a spirit protecting the soul, while Soroush is a spirit protecting the world. For Soroush has not slept well since the creation of living beings in order to guard them. According to Abu Reyhan, Soroush is a divinity guarding the night and some say he is Gabriel. The soul of the dead reaches the Chinvad Bridge protected by Soroush. I praise, the brave pious dutiful Soroush. He is brave because when he turns his club toward Khorasan (East), fear is subsided until he points it to the west. He is dutiful because he obeys the God. And he is astonishing because devils are dispersed by his stroke. He is divine because he rules arzeh (the country of the East) and saveh (the country of the West) (zand akasieh 220, Rahim Afifi, Iranian Mythology and Culture in Pahlavi texts).

That is why holding barsam – whether it is the king or an ordinary Zoroastrian – represents continuous remembrance of the presence of Soroush (Gabriel).

Conclusion:

From all that is said above, Zoroastrian religious and ritual beliefs were so blended with everyday life of ancient Iranians that one can trace them in all aspects of life including their architecture. Illustration of the opposition of good and evil, the spiritual presence of Amshaspands in the figure of the king in stone-reliefs and entrapment of devils by using their sculptures as column capital all point to the above integration. Considering that Persepolis was the place where Achaemenids held their religious rites, ceremonies and mysteries, surely the images found there should be an allusion to the ruling ideas and ideals of their era manifested in the form of mythological symbols of their divinities. The subtle intelligent practice of Achaemenids in illustrating their basic religious beliefs for various peoples with different religious faiths living in the vast Persian Empire attending various ceremonies in the Palace is an example of the respect the kings of this dynasty had for the freedom in faith and ethics of their subjects. In all the stone-carvings with an allusion to spiritual beliefs, the Amshaspands Khorda’d and Morda’d have a prominent presence in the figure of Iris flower. Attribution of a flower to each Amshaspand represents the close relationship of Achaemenid religious beliefs with their natural environment and regional climatic conditions in which lotus can not have a logical reasonable place.

The above analysis is an effort made to show the Iranian origin of what is seen in stone-reliefs of Persepolis, their relation with religious beliefs of that era and refutation of non-Iranian root of the images found there. This is a new approach demanding extensive studies for further decoding of the remaining reliefs.

 

extracted from :

A New Approach to Stone Reliefs of Persepolis

By Khoobchehr Keshavarzi (translated By Roya Monajem, Tehran)

Based on ritual, religious beliefs and the impact of the environment

http://www.payvand.com/news/12/sep/1247.html

MUKTAD FAQs – Ervad Dr. Ramiyar Karanjia


Why we should celebrate Muktad?
The world comprises of seen and unseen elements. There are several unseen aspects of life, which only religion can explain, and which we need to know through the religion.One such important aspect of Zoroastrian religion is the immortality of the soul in the spiritual world after death and the existence of Fravashis “guardian spirits” to help the souls in this world and the next.Muktad is the special time to celebrate the contribution of the souls and Fravashis of the previous generations and fondly remember them by offering prayers along with special gifts of fragrant flowers and prayers.The souls look forward to being remembered in a loving manner, especially during the Muktad. If happy with our love and remembrance, they bless us with health, wealth and happiness.The number of days of celebrating the Muktad may be ten or eighteen depending on what tradition one follows. However, this is not as important as the fact that we remember and celebrate the memory of the dear departed ones.
For how many years should Muktad and/or the Annual Baj prayers be done for the dear ones?There is no specific injunction in our religious texts as to the number of years the Muktad or Annual Baj prayers should be done.Certain texts mention it as the duty of every Zoroastrian to remember the Fravashis, especially the Fravashis of their own dear departed parents and near ones during the Farvardegan (Muktad) days. Taking this injunction along with the injunction of the desire of the souls and the Fravashis to be remembered, it was the religious tradition in the past that the Muktad and Annual Baj should performed for one generation. Thus, over a period of time depending on several factors people were advised to have the Muktad performed for about 20 years in the past.As of now, depending on one’s financial condition and other circumstances and factors one has to decide for oneself how long one wants to have the Muktad or annual Baj prayers be done. By and large, in the present times and circumstances prayers may ideally be done for around five years.It is necessary that we remember the dear departed ones at home by doing a divo, and if possible praying the Satum no Kardo on their Baj day and during the Muktad, irrespective of whether the prayers are done at the agyari, and more so if they are not done.

 

Can one have Muktad performed at two different locations?Muktad are days to collectively remember all Asho Farohars. This includes Asho Farohars of our dear departed ones along with the souls.The soul of a dear departed one can be remembered in as many places as possible. All the priests remember holy souls of people like Dasturji Kukadaru and Homaji all over the world. Hence simultaneous prayers and remembrance of dear departed ones can be held at multiple locations.More than one behra can be consecrated for a departed person. However, it must be stated that individual and separate behras are not essential to pray for a dear departed one during Muktad.
Why are flowers connected with the Muktad? Why are they kept in the Behra and used to remember the dear departed ones?Muktad are the days when the Fravashis of all creations, Asho Farohars of humans and all souls descend on earth.At this time they are to be made to feel welcome amongst us and offered what they like the most – prayers, light and natural fragrance.The best creations with natural fragrance are fresh flowers and hence they are kept in vases at the place where Asho Farohars are remembered.Flowers belong to the plant kingdom and hence are representatives of Amardad ameshaspand, who also looks after immortality of the soul and its just rewards. Flowers in a way remind the living and the departed souls of their immortality and of the rewards of their life’s actions.A few simple fragrant flowers like rose and lily are all that is required for this purpose. We need not go overboard and offer too many exotic and expensive flowers.

 

Why are there 3 Muktads, 3 Navroz, 3 Khordad Sals etc, as per the 3 Zoroastrian calendars, which are the real day?Presently in the Zoroastrian tradition there are 3 sects-– the Shahenshahi, Kadimi and Fasali. People following these sects observe the religious festivals on the basis of their own calendars. Hence each festival is celebrated thrice.Festivals are days of coming together, enjoyment and thanksgiving. The purpose for which they are celebrated may vary, seasons may differ – but the end result of festivals is bringing about unity, harmony, hope and joy and that should remain intact.In the early Christian era, Christmas was celebrated on different days, as people were not sure about the exact day of birth of their prophet. Still for the sake of unity all days were brought together and the birth of Christ is today celebrated on 25th of December.Thus, all three Zoroastrian celebrations are valid. Nature absorbs the prayer and utilizes it at due time. As for the Muktad, the Fravshis and souls come to this world whenever they are remembered. Today we remember them on a few days in the year. In the past they were remembered through rituals either daily and especially on all festivals. If they are remembered any time during the year, even without a particular purpose, they come. There may be hundreds of Fravashis and souls for whom rituals may not be performed even during the Muktad. That does not mean they never come to the earth. There is total understanding and magnanimity in the divine world and they should not be compared to us humans.

 

What prayers can the laymen (Behdin) recite during Muktad days? (JJ 2-8-2015)Muktad are the days when we have to remember, thank and make happy the Asho Farohars and Ravans (souls) of our near and dear ones in particular and the whole universe in general. One of the best ways to do these is by prayers and rituals. Most rituals are generally the domain of prests. However laymen also can perform a few rituals and offer prayers to Asho farohars and Ravans. Below are a few such prayer:The Satum no kardo is the best prayer to be recited during the days of the Muktad. During the 5 Gatha days, this prayer is recited with some modification. If it is recited with the offering of some food cooked by a Zarthoshti, it becomes the Satum ritual. It should be recited after the Kasti and daily Farazyat prayers.Muktad no namaskar is a very short prayer that can be recited anytime during the days of the Muktad. The prayer is as follows: Az hamā gunāh patet pashemānom. ashaunām vanghuhish surāo spentāo fravashayo yazamaide. (thrice) Ahmai raeshcha – Hazanghrem-Jasa me avanghe Mazda-Kerfeh Mozd.Over and above the prayers mentioned, one can recite the Framraot Hā (Yasna Hā 20) or 1200 Ashem Vohu with the khshnuman of Ardafravash, for the first five days.For the five days of Gathas, each collection of Gathas can be recited on the respective day or 1200 Yatha on each day, with the khshnuman of Gatha.There is another prayer called Lākhi nu bhantar, in which a combination of 570 Yatha ahu vairyo, 210 Ashem vohu and 120 Yenghe hātām (total 900) are recited with the khshnuman of Sarosh Yazad daily for all the days of the Muktad.

 

YENGHE   HĀTĀM

The Yenghe hātām is the prayer of Divine Love, Unity and Harmony. Though it can be recited independently, generally it is not found separately in prayer books. However, it is part of most larger prayers. In Yasna Ha 61 it is said that this prayer takes one’s veneration forward in a better way. Yasna Ha 21 is a commentary on this prayer.

 

Text of the prayer:    Yenghe hātām āat yesne paiti vangho

Mazdāo ahuro vaethā ashāt hachā yāonghāmchā

Tāschā tāoschā yazamaide.

Meaning: Among the living ones, we venerate those men and women whom Ahura Mazda has known to be better in their worship on account of their Righteousness.

Free translation: Practice of righteousness makes humans better. Such men and women who have reached a higher state of awareness of life through their righteous conduct spread peace and harmony in the world. They are beloved of God.