MAH DAI, FASAL SAL 1370
Mazda at moi vahista
Ta tu mananghah
Xamaka xathra Ahura,
haithyem dao ahum.
Then, oh Mazda, unto me the best
precepts and deeds do Thou
These, indeed, the Good Mind,
and Righteousness do I
yearningly pray for.
May your Sovereignty, oh Ahura,
make my life truly renewed
as You will.
(Ahunavaity 7.15 : Yasna
We are pleased to send you
the third e-mail edition of “USHAO” in MS Word format. Feel free to
forward it to a friend.
SIGNIFICANCE and EXPLANATION
Ervad Jehan Bagli and Ervad Adi Unwalla
erformance of any
Zarathushtrian ritual is a spiritual experience that invariably involves a
communion with the supreme divinity, Ahura Mazda. This uncreated entity is the
primary principle of Nature, and is the source and focus of all enlightenment.
Mazda is the ultimate creative essence that is absolute in its purity,
creativity, strength, righteousness, kindness, and benevolence. This force of
All Goodness is best conceived as an embodiment of a Mind that is
infinitely supreme and beyond the comprehension of humanity. This is an aspect
that Asho Zarathusht addresses in the Gathas as Spenta Mainyu – the Holy Spirit
or Mentality and relates to his God saying, “I am able to perceive Thee as the
Creator of all through your Holy Spirit
Zarathushtrian theology teaches us of the spiritual state of Mainyava
that constitute a conceptually perfect Spiritual world (Ph. Menog) that
is the total harmony with the concept of Asha. Mainyava is the abode of
the Holy Spirit and its attributes, a vision, ultimate in its purity and
absolute in Righteousness. In contrast, the physical world (Ph. Getgi)
we live in, is infected with pollution and contaminated with evil. The
imperfections of the Getig world have a profound influence on the fragile
human mentality. Theology dictates Zarathushtrian priests and laity alike to be
conscious of the flaws and defects of the world of actuality. Performance of
daily ritual through Avestan Manthras, actualizes the divine experience, that
links the physical with the spiritual. This assimilation of faith and devotion
through prayers assists the renovation of purity of mind and body, which is
afflicted with physical flaws. This in turn, translates into the specific
behavioral pattern of benevolent thoughts, words and acts.
is incumbent upon Zarathushtrian priests to do their utmost to preserve the
piety and sanctity of body and mind, in preparation of any spiritual experience
such as Jashan, Navzote or Weddings. Affirmation of the devotion to Mazda Ahura
is an essential ingredient, to transcend to an environment amenable for that
Holy Communion. The conduct and manners of the participating priests must
radiate the ritualistic purity to the congregation participating in that
spiritual experience, A number of purificatory practices have evolved in
Zarathushtrian tradition to enable the participants to realize the state of
ritualistic purity. These are designed to bridge the gap between the physical
and the spiritual reality and to make the communion an existential
The simplest of all the purificatory practices is the Padyab ritual. The term is derived from Avestan Paiti-apa and is recognized as “rinsing the exposed parts of the body with water”. In its earlier understanding2 the term meant “against water” referring to the intervention of an ablution with gaomez (unconsecrated bull’s urine), before the use of water”. The practice of using gamoez has essentially dissipated over time.3 Padyab ritual constitutes the purificatory enactment for the Kusti ceremony. The participating priests must therefore perform a Padyab-Kusti ritual in preparation for the performance of any Zarathushtrian ceremony.
Jashan ceremony, generally is performed by two priests. There are however, exceptions, where due to scarcity of priests, even one priest can perform it. There is no specific limitation to the number of priests who can participate in this ritual. Of these, there are two leading priests who conduct the course of this ritual. The senior priest is called Zaotar (Guj. Zoti) and the junior priest is called Raspi (Guj Rathvi). Nirangistan text4 elaborates the designation of the eight priests historically believed to partake in the Yasna ceremony. In there, Zaotar is described as the principal officiating invoker. The Avestan term Zaotar is related to Sanskrit term Hotra of Hindu priesthood. In the Gathas5 Zarathushtra calls himself an invoker or the priest saying “I am a righteous invoker who perceives Thee through best thinking”. Zoator is thus the one who calls upon Mazda to attune with Him, and assumes that Divine role during the actualization of the ritual. Nirangistan also describes two other priests. Atravakhsh – one who supervises the Fire, and Raethwishkara – one who is a mixer, later recognized as a priest who arranges things in order, for the ritual. In Jashan ceremony today, the Raspi performs the combined services of Atravakhsh and Raethwishkara. He helps in arranging all the requisites for Jashan and also looks after the sacred fire, during the ceremony. Besides tending the fire by feeding it with Sukhad (fragrant sandalwood), the Raspi also performs Atravakhshi (Guj. Atrokshi). This is an enactment when the Raspi establishes connection with the Chamach (ladle), to the Afarganyu (fire vase) and all the priests join in by holding hands. The action symbolizes the attunement of all the performing priests, through Fire, with the Divine spirit of Mazda.
The Jashan ceremony is initiated with the recital of Atash Niyaesh. Fire
is the physical perception of the Wise Lord – Mazda Ahura. Zarathushtra saw in this
element absolute Truth, absolute Righteousness, absolute Justice, and the
Immutable Order of Nature. The prophet realized in the divine Fire that
paramount concept of ASHA, a concept that personifies the will of God.
Therefore, Fire in this ceremony represents the embodiment of the Spirit of
Mazda. There are three occasions in this Niyaesh when the Atravakshi
(connection with the fire) is performed:
1st Atravakshi is performed at the very beginning
with the recital of Khshnaothro Ahurahe Mazdao … Atash Dadgah Adarfra
and ending with words pa patet hom. Reverence is paid to one of the
three types of fires in this section. i) Atash Behram, ii) Atash Adaran, and
iii) Atash Dadgah. Traditionally fires of three grades of purity have evolved
over time. The highest grade is that of the Fire of Victory, Atash Behram,
which is generated through highly elaborate rituals of purification. The next
grade is called Atash Adran, which is for communal worship in Agiaries.
The last grade is called Atash Dadgah, the hearth fire of the Zarathushti
household. The fire revered in most of the Jashan performances is the Atash
2nd Atravakshi is performed starting with the
recital of three Ashem vohu followed by At toi atrem…prayer and
ends with….Ashem vohu. This prayer is taken from the
Gathas6. The Prophet pays homage to the Fire of Mazda and explains
its potential strength through the purity of its Righteousness. He further
elaborates, “Thy fire is swift and powerful help to the supporters but brings
visible harm to the deceitful”.
3rd Atravakshi is performed at the end while
reciting “Khshnaothra Ahurahe Mazdao Nemasete…and ends
It is important to note that both the Gathic concept (2nd Atravkhshi) and the later evolved Younger Avestan concept (1st Atravkhsi) of fire is revered in this liturgy. This is the only Niyaesh (with the exception of Ardevi Sur Niiyaesh) of the five liturgies of this group, where a significant part of its text is composed of the Gathas and Yasna prayers. The initial khshnuman of the liturgy includes three verses taken from Gatha Ahunavaiti.7 These are the crucial prayers where Asho Zarthusht realizes the attunement with his Master. In the first verse, the sage pleads with Ahura Mazda to “Rise within him and grant him Devotion”. In the next verse he prays for the realization of the power of Divine Sovereignty, through Good Mind. Finally he dedicates his self both physical and spiritual, as well as his benevolent thoughts and actions with obedience to the Divine ruler. The main body of the text consists of the verses of Yasna8 dedicated to Fire. The liturgy terminates with the ending of khshnuman which, includes the Gathic6 verse that prays homage to the Enlightenment (Fire) of Ahura Mazda.
The dibache of the afringan is recited by the Zoti alone,
and is like a preface to a book. The Dibache of the first afringan
is the only one that is recited aloud. In contrast, the Dibache of
the later afringans is recited in Baj (low tone). The language of
Dibache is Pazand, suggesting its introduction in Sassanian times
(3rd century C.E.). It is traditionally believed that if the
intermittent Pazand prayers are recited aloud within the Avestan prayers, it
could adversely affect the vibrational enlightenment that the Avestan prayers
are expected to liberate. For this reason, all the Pazand prayers, between
Avestan verses are recited in low tone. Dibache liturgy essentially
starts with the introduction of what is to follow. The function of this recital,
is to announce the congregation, the name of the place where the offering is
being made. These declarations are made with the words, in khsnumaine
(name of the offering)…be-rasad, and… hast shaherastan under
(name of the place) shaherastan respectively. The name of the
afringan is recited on four occasions in this portion of the
REMBRANCE OF SOULS
We now arrive at the remembrance portion of the dibache.
Afringan prayers are designed to remember the souls of good humans, alive as
well as departed. The living souls are remembered with words Namchesti zindeh
ravan while the departed souls are remembered with the words Namchesti
anosheh ravan. The name of the person requesting the prayer is recited with
the words Farmayashne (name) mazdayasni be-resaad. Traditionally
the names of the ordained priests are preceded by the word Ervad. The
names of the members of a priestly family are preceded by the terms Osta
and Osti for males and females respectively. In contrast, the names
of all the members of a non-priestly family are preceded by the term
Behdin. The name of an infant who has not undergone Navzote ceremony is
preceded by the term Khurd.
This prayer also invokes the spirit of prophet Zarathushtra, his family, kings, queens, warriors, deserving priests and dignitaries of the historical era. This is followed by seven verses that encapsulate the remembrance of the humanity in its entirety, everywhere, dead or alive. Interestingly, all these verses end with the words az Gayomard anda Soshyos aedar yad baad meaning ‘from the first mortal being to the last savior are remembered”. The Dibache section ends with the words Kera gah roz shaheryari khesh pirojgar baad --- “on behalf of whom and under the sovereignty of its own watch and day may the ceremony be successful”. With these words, the Zoti signals the other mobeds. The mobeds respond loudly with the words khesh pirojgar baad and begin reciting the afrigan prayer.
This liturgy can be conveniently divided into four sections. a)
starting khshnuman, b) karda, c) the “invariable” section, and d)
Afringan Source Section Verse
Ardafravash Farvardin Yasht 13 49-52
Gathas, Yazatas Farvardin Yasht 13 49-52
Srosh Srosh Yasht Vadi 1-3 -
Srosh Afringan (recited on
the evenings of first three days after death): The karda is section 7 of Srosh
Yasht Vadi, which is identical with section 2 of Srosh Yasht
Gahmbar Afringan: The karda
is taken from Hadokht Nask.
Rapithwan Afringan: The
karda is a special recitation composed in ancient Iran in connection with a
Baj ceremony. The karda always ends with three Asem
The picking up of the flowers in the descending and ascending order
symbolizes the sojourn of the good souls between the spiritual and
physical worlds. During the Humatanm prayer the circuit formed by the
Zoti and the Raspi through the paiwand with the
fruit tray and the fire is the most climatic moment of the prayer. The moment
epitomizes the completion of the circuit between the physical and the spiritual.
This is the fulfillment of the communion, the successful realization of the
beauty of the physical experience to the Spiritual Reality. These actions that
attune the physical with the spiritual, radiates the Righteousness, a key
attribute of the principal of ASHA. Fire, the Gathic symbol of Truth and
Righteousness thus unites with Zoti, representing the attribute, in the
material existence. The intonations of the Avestan verses, in resonance with
this enactment, emanate the Divine brilliance to the participating congregation
--- an existential experience.
At the invocation of the manthras of Yatha ahu vairyo and Ashem vohu that follow the recital of the pazand passage in baj, the entire creation is remembered. While reciting these words, the Zoti, through his actions, extols all that is good, in all the four corners of this world. After the ending khshnuman, and the Hama Zor, the afringan is terminated with the Humataran prayer9 confirming the faith in good thoughts, words and deeds.
A jashan ceremony is performed to celebrate happy occasions as well as for
the memory of the departed souls. The afringans performed for these jashans vary
with the type of the ceremony. Jashans may be performed for a festivity
occasion, for a house warming, for a new business venture, for Gahmbars, for
Gathas, and for the memory of departed souls. All Jashans include three
afringans that vary depending upon the type of jashan. The following table shows
the afringans recited for specific jashans. The afringan of Dahaman is included
in all jashans except that of Gatha. However, if one wishes to recite the
afringan of Dahman in the Gatha jashan, one may do so by reciting it between the
afringan of Gatha and Srosh.
Festive occasion Dadar Hormazd, Dahman, Srosh
Housing warming Spendarmad, Dahman, Srosh
New Business venture Behram, Dahman, Srosh
Gahambar Gahambar, Dahman, Srosh
In Memory of departed Arda-Fravash, Dahman, Srosh
Gatha Arda-Fravash, Gatha, Srosh
Spendarmad (Avesta: Spenta Aramaiti) is the Ameshaspenta
(Bounteous Immortal) representing peace and tranquility that is essential to
life on earth10. In later tradition, this Ameshaspenta is associated
with earth, as its guardian, It is the duty of the humans as stewards of the
sacred creation, to look after and maintain the purity and sanctity of the
earth. The recital of the afringan of Spandarmard during house warming jashan,
expresses the devotion and dedication of the people to nurture the land and the
structures on it, in a righteous and just manner.
Behram (Avesta Verethraghna, Pahlavi Vahram) is a Persian term for
the pre-Zarathushtrian Indo-Iranian divinity Verethraghna that symbolizes
victory. The recital of Afringan of Behram expresses the manifestation of the
spirit of victory and success in any venture in life. These sentiments signify
the recitation of this liturgy during the jashan blessings, for the initiation
of a new enterprise.
Dahman and Dahm: It is important to understand that afringan of Dahman,
which is recited in almost all the jashans propitiates the pantheon of
divinities that are recognized in the later Zarathushtrian tradition as Yazatas.
These Yazatas together with six Ameshaspentas and Ahura Mazda constitute the 30
days of the Zarathushtrian calendar. The Avestan khshnuman dahmayo vanghuyao
afritoish ughrai damoish upamanai is recited for the liturgy, invoking the
Blessings of these Divinities. The afringan of Dahman is distinctly different
from the afringan of Dahm yazata, which is prayed during the dawn of the fourth
day after the death of a person. In this afringan Daham yazata is invoked, with
the words Daham yazad vispesha ardafravash be-resad.
Jashan-e-Gahambar is performed during the high festival of Gahambars,
which are celebrated during the days and months of the Zarathushtrian Calendar
as shown in the table below. These seasonal festivals are significantly
displaced by the Shenshai and Kadmi calendars. Their true
seasonal harmony is preserved by the Fasli
No. Gahambar Month
1. Maidyozarem Ardibahesht Khorshed to Daepamaher
2. Maidyoshahem Tir Khorshed to Daepamaher
3. Paitishahem Shaherever Astad to Aneran
4. Ayathrem Meher Astad to Aneran
5. Maidyarem Dae Meher to Behram
Hamaspathmaedem -- Five Gatha
Traditionally jashan of Gahambar is performed during the Havan, Uziran and Ushain gahs (daytime watches), as can be seen from the text of afringan of Gahambar. This afringan is not recited during Rapithwin (midday) and Aiwisruthrem (early night) gahs.
These are the Pazand prayers that are recited by the Zoti alone, after the three
afringans are concluded. The word Afrin means Benediction. These are the
liturgies of blessings from the divinities. During all jashans, except for that
of Gahmbar, afrins of Ardafravash, Buzorgan and Haft Ameshapand are recited. For
the jashan of Gahmbar the afrin of Gahmbar is recited..
Afrin of Ardafravash: Most verses of this afrin start with the words
Hama Zor Bad meaning “May we be united”. Here, union is sought with
all the goodness in the world, starting with the religion of Zarathushtra, and the
knowledge of Mazda worship. Homage is paid unto all the gahs, the gahambars, the
Gathas, and the faithful of the seven regions of the world. The righteous
fravashis of all those who have existed, those who are existing and those who
will exist are revered, from the time of the first mortal Gayomaretan to
the last savior Saoshyant.
Afrin of Buzorgan: By definition this afrin eulogizes the strong and
powerful attributes of the monarchs of the Peshdadians and Kyanian dynasties.
Blessings of bounteous character are showered on to the master of the house
together with wishes of enlightened progeny who will protect the community and
earn greatness and fame
Afrin of Haft Ameshaspand: This afrin is also known as afrin of Dahman or
Hamkara. This liturgy pays tribute and seeks oneness with Mazda, the attributes
of Ameshapentas and the later evolved Yazatas, also known as Hamkars
(associates) of Ameshapentas. The prayer also seeks spiritual communion with the
good creations of Mazda, with the ancient mountains and the rivers that bear the
brilliance of the Lord of Wisdom. In the later part of this liturgy the
fravashis of those who gave their lives in the perpetuation of the religion of
Afrin of Gahambar: This afrin is recited in the Gahambar Jashan. The
afrin begins with the wishes of communion with the righteous, virtuous,
brilliant and majestic Ahura Mazda and Ameshapentas. Righteous Fravashis and
Mazda worship are venerated and the hope to attune with all that is good is
expressed. Verses five to ten describe the names of the High Festivals of
Gahambar, and clearly define the duration of the days and the month of the
Zarathushtrian religious calendar, when they should be observed. The connection
between the creation of the heavens, water, earth, plant, animal and man with
these six High Festivals that evolved in the later tradition, are also
described. The liturgy ends with reverence for the souls from the spiritual
domain and hope that their presence will enrich the Good in this
mentioned at the beginning, jashan is a ritual where the divinities and
fravashis are invoked to establish a communion. This aspect is reaffirmed at the
end of the afrin with the words dahaman ke pa myzad frajrasid hend – “May
the merit increase due to the arrival of the pious ones” and evil be defeated.
At these words both priests recite to pay homage to Righteous souls in their
return to their Divine abode in the House of Songs. The service ends with the
praise to good thoughts, good words and deeds for the last
you recall we commenced this ceremony with the purificatory ritual of
Padyab-kuhsti to prepare for the Holy Sacrament of the communion in this
spiritual environment. Traditionally in Zarthushtrian theology, the
practice of realizing a “ state of ritual purity” is recognized as “taking a
Baj”. In order to leave that “state of ritual purity” (leaving the
Baj) both priests recite Yatho ahu vairyo 21 times and Ashem
vohu 12 times. It is interesting to note that the prayers of Yatha
ahu variyo and Ashem vohu have 21 and 12 words respectively. It
therefore appears that the number of times they are recited is once for each
word contained in these prayers. This is followed by the full recital of the
four fold prayers of Ahmai Raescha to Kerfeh
The Jashan ceremony is then brought to a close with the recital of Tandorasti prayer. This liturgy simply showers the blessings of health, wealth and prosperity on the family and friends of the person who has requested the services to be performed.
On Zarathushtra’s Path to Ahura
Through righteousness the Best,
Through righteousness the Highest
May we see Thee,
May we be with one with Thee.
Thou art, O God! the life and light
Of all this wondrous world we see:
Its glow by day, its smile by night
Are but reflections caught from Thee.
Where’er we turn, Thy glories shine
And all things fair and bright are Thine
When day, with farewell beam delays.
Among the opening clouds of even;
And we can almost think we gaze
Through golden vistas into heaven;
These hues, that make the sun’s decline
So soft, so radiant, Lord, are Thine.
When night, with wings of starry gloom
O’ershadows all the earth and skies,
Like some dark, beauteous bird, whose plume
Is sparkling with unnumbered eyes;
That sacred gloom, those fires divine,
So grand, so countless, Lord! are Thine.
When youthful spring around us breathes,
Thy spirit warms her fragrant sigh;
And every flower the summer wreathes,
Is born beneath that kindling eye.
Where’er we turn Thy glories shine.