Roj Hormazd Mah Ardibehesht, 1384 Yz.
Readers may question as to why Abed Sahebs and other advanced souls can take the help of the Ulvi Arvahi but not normal Parsis. The answer is that the advanced souls have methods by which they can repay the favour owed to the Arvahi by enhancing their (the Arvahi’s) spiritual development whereas the normal Parsi has no way or method of repaying the obligation to the Arvahi and hence gets trapped on the journey towards Chinvat, which we will explain later on.
Some of these Ulvi Arvahi take up residence in wells or natural springs. They are also intensely drawn to any place where Avesta Manthras are recited in a sweet or melodious voice. As such, wells in many Agiaries may have a resident Ulvi Sprite. There have been several reported incidents, including at the Bhikha Behram well in Mumbai where a white spirit like form is seeing emerging from or entering the well at early dawn
The Zoroastrian religion accords a place of respect and adulation for natural, free flowing waters and also wells drawing water from natural underground sources. In ancient Iran, in addition to the construction of Daremehers – or Houses of Light (Fire Temples), there also existed numerous Dar-e-Aban, or houses of worship where Ava Ardvisur Banu – the Yazata presiding over waters was worshipped. These Dar-e-Aban were built over flowing rivers, or springs or wells or near the coast of lakes and seas, where Zoroastrians of that time could come, sit and pray and ask for boons from Ava Ardvisur. This tradition was also continued after we came to India. In most towns with a Parsi population, one can still see numerous wells and canals dug out by Zoroastrians many years ago for the use of the general population. In Surat, the Mulla Khadki Ibadatgah, on the banks of the Tapti river was a prominent place of worship for Parsis till about 50 years ago. In Ava Mah, Parsis would flock to this place and offer their prayers and gifts to Ava Yazad. Seth Jehangirji Chiniwalla was also a regular visitor to this prayer house and had many spiritual experiences there, some of which he has described in the old issues of Parsi Avaz. In Mumbai, the Bhikha Behram well, built in 1725, still draws hundreds of Parsis everyday.
Amongst our religious practices, two customs are still prevalent – the first is to put a castor oil Divo in the niche of the well such that the rays of the Divo fall on the waters below. Most wells, including those in the houses of Parsis in towns like Udvada, Navsari and Surat had hollowed out niches in the inside wall of the well, where the Divo was put everyday just before sunset. The reason for this tradition is not well known. Our Master, Ustad Saheb Behramshah Shroff explained that in the absence of sunlight, water begins to stagnate. This stagnation is not only physical, but also spiritual. Moreover, the first 72 minutes of the Aiwisruthrem Gah are considered a period of Gashak – a spiritually heavy period where prayers by normal persons are prohibited. At this crucial time, there is a danger of the water in the well becoming spiritually polluted as well as physically unfit for human use. It is for this reason that the purifying rays of a castor oil Divo are enjoined to fall upon the waters, which act as a stabilizing force against the Gashak and limit the spiritual pollution.
The second custom, also well known, is the prohibition of drawing water from the well after sunset. The reasons for this prohibition are the same as explained above. In the olden days, before the advent of tap water, large vessels were filled up prior to sunset for any use during the night time. In the most exceptional circumstances, in case of dire emergency, if water had to be drawn, it could be done only after 2:20 am, once the period of the Ushahin Gashak had got over. Even at this time, a specific ritual had to be performed (Kuva no chak) where the individual had to stand in each of the four directions and putting his hands deep inside the well, clap loudly, after reciting certain prayer formulae.
Thus the worship of Ava Ardvisur Banu and flowing waters is a separate and valid part of our religion. But to worship or consort with the Arvahi which may or may not be in a well is not correct, is spiritually harmful and going against the tenets of the Zoroastrian religion.
These were the intimate details about the Ulvi Arvahi. At the other end of the spectrum are the Sefli Arvahi – the mischievous, malignant and evil Sprites whose residence is in the sub-planes of the Pairi Dakhyu. These Arvahi, also called Kharaji Arvahi (the Roaming Ones) do not have a fixed place of residence but commute between the various parts of their universe and this earth. These Arvahi are marked by their propensity to always play a damaging and destructive role in anything they do. The Sefli Arvahi have immense power which stems from their knowledge of a highly negative science which involves the manipulation of the four elements. Through their mastery of this dismal science, the Arvahi are able to change states of matter, appear at many places at the same time, and generally confound man whose brain and intellect is limited by the three dimensions and his self-discovered (but erroneous) laws of physics. They take immense pleasure in fooling gullible humans and other souls with displays of super-natural power, which are actually merely tricks or sleights of the hand.
But the Sefli Arvahi have another very dangerous past-time. They excel in mimicking and taking on the role of another person. Through their knowledge of the dismal science, the Sefli Arvahi are able to access the Akashic Records of any individual. What are the Akashic Records? The Zoroastrian religion explains that every thought, word and deed is recorded at three places in nature. The first record is made within our personal space or Aipi. The second record is preserved on the ground on which the thought, word or deed arose. The third record of the person’s thoughts, words or actions are recorded in the subtle atmosphere much above the earth and nearing the dome of the Pairi Dakhyu. The records here are divided into the good and the bad, the good accumulating on the south side (towards Dadar-e-Gehan) and the bad collecting towards the north (towards Apakhtar). Through the misuse of their dismal science, the Sefli Arvahi break the seals which exist on these databases and access the most intimate and personal details of any person.
A major fascination, amongst Parsis as well as persons of other faiths, is the ability (so-called) of being able to communicate with the dead. Stories of encounters with Ouija boards, planchet, séances and other such dreary practices are very well known in our community. Sometimes, due to the untimely (although there is nothing untimely in nature, only humans in their short-sightedness call it untimely) death of a young member of the family, or a much loved spouse, or friend, the grieving relative often gravitates towards persons who promise to put them in contact with the departed soul. Through the means of the tools mentioned above, the grieving relative tries to contact the departed soul. The medium calls the ‘spirit’ and then asks personal questions to verify that the spirit is indeed that of the deceased person.
But what is really happening? The Sefli Arvahi, who roam the perimeter of the earth and its atmosphere, pick up the medium’s calls for help. Accessing the Akashic Records of the deceased person, taking on even his own voice and manners, the Sefli Arvahi begins the act of mimicking the departed Ruvan. As the grief-stricken parent or spouse or friend listens in disbelief to the very personal details being recounted by the Sprite, they have no doubt that it is indeed their own parent or spouse or child speaking. This gullibility, in the time of deep emotional distress, is wickedly exploited by the Sefli Arvahi. But what do they get in return? Remember the saying: there is no free lunch.
Every time the Sefli Arvahi accesses the Akashic Records or provides some comfort to the grieving relatives, a payment entry is marked to its credit. The debit goes in the Akashic Record of the person who used the services of the Sefli Arvahi. Now there is no way the human can repay the services while on earth. So the payment entry remains unpaid, and gathers interest, much like our fancy credit cards and EMIs. When the person dies and his Ruvan departs from earth on the dawn of the fourth day towards Chinvat, it has to cross the Pairi Dakhyu regions where the Arvahi Alam of the Sefli Arvahi exist. At this time, the Sefli Arvahi put up roadblocks on the journey of the Zoroastrian Ruvan and demand the payment of their old debt, along with accumulated interest. The Zoroastrian Ruvan is trapped there and has to enter the service and bondage of the Sefli Arvahi for a very long period of time until the debt is finally repaid and it can restart its journey towards Chinvat. It is for this reason that the Zaena and Pairika of the Avesta are called Tayu – thieves, as they steal the intimate details of a person’s life and cheat and harass the living.
[to be continued…]
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram