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Fravašis and Fravardégân [i]

Later Zoroastrian Literature


Bode, Framroze

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FRAVARDIN Yasht, which up to today is recited by the Zoroastrians, for the invocation of the Fravašis during the ten Fravardēgān days (Yt.13.49-52) 1 gives us the idea of the Fravašis as being active cosmic forces in Nature. They desire to be recognized and remembered, so that they can pour forth their power of benediction upon the earth.

The Fravašis, then, are ever-present spiritual essences, which work in the whole universe and within men.  When men invoke them, the Fravašis within and without them are ready to guide and inspire them.  They come down from heavenly regions from this ethereal space, like winged birds, and give victory, strength and blessings to the good, virtuous and holy.  In poetic language we are told that the Fravašis come and move about on the earth.  In actuality the Fravašis always are, they neither come nor go. What it means to convey is that these cosmic forces become active in Nature ten days before the vernal equinox, when the Universal Divine Impulses become strong for the reparation, purification and equilibrium of created things.  In Nature, seasons are important for the distribution of forces and cosmic currents. Spring is the time of birth, rejuvenation and spiritual awareness. So man must spiritually prepare himself and invoke his own Fravaši, becoming conscious of the Divine Presence within himself and ready to receive blessings of these cosmic forces working in the universe. It is clear that the only medium of contacting the Fravašis of the dead is through the Fravaši within the living man himself.

According to Zoroastrianism when a man contacts his own Fravaši, he shares in the universal divine consciousness and thus comes into contact with all the divine essences. It is a spiritual process in which the subliminal consciousness in the Fravaši imparts to the dormant consciousness of man, powers independent of the limitations of bodily conditions, time and space; and hence that underlying consciousness operates in the spiritual spheres and mingles with those Fravašis with which it has specially been associated. Thus, the pious remembrance of the Fravašis is of benefit to the living and secures efficient help in times of troubles, inner conflict and warfare, but only in a good and holy cause.

The ancient Iranians thus recognized the importance of a correct calendar and observed their New Year according to the Solar Tropical Year, so as to be in tune with Nature and derive benefits from the cosmic processes through seasonal religious festivals, which are known as the Gāhāmbārs.

The Fravardin Yasht then tells us something about how the cosmic forces and heavenly bodies began to move by the impact of the Fravašis and how they began to march on towards their evolutionary goal.  Here (Yt.14.53-58) 2 we are taken to a point in Time and Space, when and where there was no motion.  Through the impact of the Fravašis, the motion in the cosmic waves and forces, and in the stars, moon, sun and the celestial region beyond, originated. No sooner had the motion generated by the Fravašis entered than these forces began to move perpetually. These Celestial Waters move toward the appointed Watery Way (āfentām, the Zraya Vouru-kaša mentioned in the Vendidad (21.4) 3 This Vouru-kaša is the ocean or the Field of Magnetism in the ethereal space which draws together all the cosmic forces into a reservoir, as it were, and again distributes them in the universe.  The Tree or Plant mentioned symbolically represents life, growth, evolution and immortality and is called in the Avesta Gaokerena or Hom-i-spet, “the Tree of Life” which promotes the ever freshening condition of the Life of the Spirit (Frašogard) and which possesses the elixir of immortality through which the living becomes ever-living.  The gist of these statements is that there was inertia, dormancy, immobility, but when, according to the Immutable Divine Law of Ahura Mazda, the creative spiritual impulse of the Fravšis began flowing, Motion set in to continue in Eternal Motion.

The author of the Yasht says that 99,999 Fravašis are girding around and watching the luminous ocean Vouru-kaša, the constellation Haptōiringa (Saptarašyah), the ethereal or astral body of Keresāspa and the seed (Xšudra) of Zarathushta (Yt.15.59-62) 4. The gist of this statement is that a calculable number of Fravašis are encircling round that vast ocean of Divine Magnetism in the Ethereal Space, which is drawing together all cosmic forces as into a reservoir, and again scattering them in space.  Keresāspa here is an embodiment of Goodness.  The Fravašis always guide and protect man and do not allow the evil ever to succeed, because since the beginning they are engaged in the task of regenerating the life of the spirit. 

Notes: [These are translation of relevant passages from Frarvardin Yasht and Vendidad by T.R. Sethna]

  1. Yt.13 [49]: We revere the righteous, good, powerful, beneficent Fravašis, who come to the families at the time of Hamaspathmaedaem* there they pass their life for 10 nights all round desiring to know this much support. [50] Who will praise us, who will revere (us), who will sing the glory, who will offer prayer, who will welcome (us), with pure hands and respect through the prayer, which takes one to righteousness.  Who will invoke us here by name, who (from) you will widely invoke, who will bestow gifts to us that will assist us to shine unfailingly, for ever, and ever.  [51] Then to him who assuredly invokes with pure hands and respect through the prayer which takes one to righteousness, these powerful righteous Fravašis bless (when) satisfied not oppressed, and not offended.  [52] May in this house there be more increase in cattle and men, may there be active horses and strong vehicles, may he assuredly be powerful chief in assembly who certainly invokes us with pure hands and respect, through the prayer which takes one to righteousness.  * Towards Vernal Equinox

  2. Yt 13 [53]: We revere the righteous, good, powerful, beneficent Fravašis.  Those beautiful paths of waters created by Mazda come in vision, which before this stood fixed, not flowing from the stream at the same place for a long time.  [54] Then you now make (waters) flow towards the path created by Mazda, towards the abode bestowed by God, fixed towards the watery way, at the wish of Ahura Mazda at the desire of the eternal holy (laws). Yt 13. [55] We revere the righteous good, powerful, beneficent Fravašis.  These trees with self-bearing (fruits) beautiful growing come in vision, which before this stood fixed without growing at the same place for a long time.  [56] Then you now (help them) growing, towards the path created by Mazda, towards the abode bestowed by God, towards the appointed time at the wish of Ahura Mazda at the desire of the eternal holy (laws). Yt. 13 [57]. We revere the righteous, good, powerful, beneficent Fravašis.  The paths of these stars, moon, sun, the boundless light come to righteous vision, which before this stood at one place for a long time not progressing owing to hatred of the evil doers, owing to the assault of the evil doers.  [58] Then they now take their course in infinite space having the desire to reach the final change, which is the good renovation.

  3. Vd. 21 [4]: As the earth, surrounding ocean is the gathering place for water, to raise (water) wholly towards this aerial space (from) land, (from) land towards the aerial space, to raise and to flow round about and to fight for the birth and growth of that which Ahura Mazda created.

  4. Yt. 13 [59]: We revere the righteous, good, powerful, beneficent Fravašis. They as many as 99,999 watch over namely the shining ocean surrounding earth (i.e. sky).  [60] We revere the righteous, good powerful, beneficent Fravašis, those, which are 99,999 (plenty) that watch over the light spreader Hapto-iring (rising 7 times in a week).  [61] We revere the righteous, good, powerful, beneficent Fravašis those 99,999 (plenty) that watch over the astral body of him, who was Kersasp s/o Sam with plaited hair --a club bearer.  [62] We revere the righteous, good, powerful, beneficent Fravašis, those 99,999 (plenty) that watch over the seed of his, the righteous Spitaman Zarathushtra’s (religion).

[i] Reproduced from ‘USHAO’- Email journal of  informal religious meetings: Volume IV no. 12, February 2004, produced by Mr. Virasp Mehta of Wichita, Kansas. Originally taken from the book “MAN SOUL IMMORTALITY IN ZOROASTRIANISM “ by Faramroze A. Bode.