The real meaning of the 5 Nyaeshes

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Roj Aneran Mah Fravardin, 1380 Yz.

The Prayers of the Khordeh Avesta can be categorized into two main groups – Nyaeshes and Yashts. Those who may have noticed the curious incidence of having Khorshed Nyaesh as well as Khorshed Yasht may have wondered at this. Why have a Nyaesh as well as a Yasht for the same Yazata? Our scholars and religious teachers have not been able to give a plausible and reasonable explanation for this anomaly. However, when this query was posed to our Master, Ustad Saheb Behramshah N. Shroff, he revealed the meaning behind this difference, which has has been explained very beautifully by Dr. Saheb Framroze S. Chinivala in his Khordeh Avesta ba Khshnoom.

The word ‘Nyaesh’ ordinarily means ‘praise, salutation, homage.’ However, there is also an inherent meaning of ‘wishing to get the blessings of the person to whom the homage is addressed’, and also an ‘entreaty to allow us to be in his service.’ The word also implies that by asking for such a boon, we are needy, or deficient, or lacking in something. Thus the word Nyaesh denotes the following four facets:

  1. a salutation to a specific Divine Entity
  2. offering Him/Her our respect and homage, and
  3. expecting Him to allow us to enter into His service, and
  4. thereby to give us what is lacking in us

 

To further aid us in understanding the differences between Nyaeshes and Yashts, let us delve a little into creation. As we are aware, there are two main universes – Hasti and Nisti. These both are very different from each other and need some explanation.

Hasti is the Perfect Universe, where there is no duality, no incompleteness, and no division of time and space. But Nisti is different, always changing, and imperfect. Therefore, there is duality in Nisti, space and time are separate here, and hence there are two aspects – positive and negative of every thing. There is incompleteness, or imperfection – which manifests itself in terms of separation, growth, maturity and death. This duality has to be ultimately removed. In short, Nisti has to become like Hasti for the ultivate salvation – Frashogard to take place.

This process of converting Nisti to Hasti is carried out by the Divine Government of Ahura Mazda, who are named as Amesha Spentas, Yazatas, Dae, Mino, Farrokh and Gatha. These Divine Entities function in the dual capacity, known as Payu (Protectors) and Thworeshtar (Sculptors). Man is confined to one very small part of Nisti, which we call Geti (Earth). Man has been given the responsibility of converting his part of Nisti (Geti) to Hasti. In order to do that however, he must first convert his own self from imperfection to perfection, from evil to good. The evil which is entwined in our spiritual DNA needs to be brought out, treated and converted.

To help us do this, Ahura Mazda has appointed a catalyst that makes the evil DNA erupt from our body. This catalyst is called Angra Mino who is often very wrongly portrayed as Satan or the Devil. (If he were the Devil, how could he be a Mino – a Divine Being?) Thus, Angra Mino causes the evil to erupt from us. This evil is then turned to good by the reaction of our own thoughts, words and deeds. This reaction is calibrated and sent down by the Yazatas as part of their Thworeshtar function. The converted good is then taken over for safe keeping by the Yazatas, as part of their Payu function.

This process, which goes on continually, without rest or stop, is called the Ahuna Vairya, the Will of Ahura Mazda. When man, stops the daily battle for acquisition of material goods and apparent happiness, and realizes his real role in nature, he begins to help in the work of the Yazatas, with a single minded and determined focus. This devotion and action towards Ahura Mazda and His Divine Plan, without even thinking of stopping or resting gives rise to a Divine Consciousness within him, which is called ‘Seraoshem’.

Thus, we see that Nisti is in a state of perpetual motion, of conversion, of slowly folding into its parent – Hasti. The Yazatas have appointed various agents who further their work in Nisti. The main agents whose physical manifestations we are able to see are

  1. the sun
  2. the sun’s rays
  3. the moon
  4. water, and
  5. fire

These agents continually work towards taking Nisti to Hasti. Man, if he observes the tarikats of Druj-Parhez (abstinence from evil), and attunes his mind with the Divine Consciousness – Bahman, can play a vital part in this process.

Therefore, when a Parsi

  1. consciously attunes himself to this process
  2. pays homage to the agencies which are continuously involved in this conversion; and
  3. wills himself to be a part of helping the Yazatas convert Nisti to Hasti

he is said to be doing a Nyaesh.

Thus if we may imagine Nisti as a lamp, then the Yazatas are the oil that keep the lamp burning. The oxygen, which allows the lamp to burn, is MAN, who can be a quiet beneficent wind or a tempestuous and unruly gale, attempting to blow out the flame. The five main agencies – the sun, the sun’s rays, the moon, water and fire aid the flame of this lamp to spread far and wide, removing the darkness of ignorance and evil and replacing it with the light and radiance of Ahura Mazda.

Thus when we pray the five Nyaeshes, we aid these agencies in their work, praise them, pay homage to them, and wish their work all the best. We Parsis often greet each other ‘Saheb ji’. What does that mean? It really means:

  1. may you live, (a true Zoroastrian life), and
  2. may you be one (that is, may your soul fragments gather into you)attain Khaetwodath).

 

In the same way, when a Parsi recites the Nyaeshes, he addresses the Five Creations, saying: ‘O you Five Glorious Ones, you who are forever in the work of Frashogard for the whole of Nisti, without rest or stoppage, homage unto Thee, may you also make us SALEM, that is, whole, perfect and of endless light!

Thus the Nyaeshes are not mere paeans of praise for a particular Yazata but are talismatic compositions which, when prayed, give rise to certain vibrations which make a small scale model (Keherp) of the work of the particular Yazata in Nisti around the body of the devotee. By praying the special formulae contained in the Nyaesh (known as Khshnuman), we attune ourselves and become one with the Joti and Rathwi, that is, the Spiritual University (Gaas) of Zarathushtra and its lawful Masters. The Gaas of Zarathushtra then activates the Keherp of our prayers and the energized Keherp moves forward to that particular Yazata – as our contribution towards his work and the Yazata in return showers down his blessings on us, which will, in the long term, remove our deficiencies and imperfections and make us whole and complete.

This is the real power of praying the Nyaeshes, and that is precisely why they are considered Farajyat, that is, obligatory every day. Just as it is necessary for us to drink water, eat food and exercise our body each day, so also the recitation of the 5 Nyaeshes is the fundamental spiritual exercise which each Parsi needs to perform, in order to reach closer to Ahura Mazda and earn his ultimate salvation. May that day come close for all of us!

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram

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Comments

  1. Mehlli Bhagalia  September 19, 2010

    The second last paragraph was most inspiring

  2. Nazneen P.G. / H.K.  September 22, 2010

    Thank you so much Ervad Saheb for this Intriguing post.
    It feels wonderful that even if we don’t know the word by word meaning of Nyaeshes but at least now with this article we know the overall meaning and importance. Knowing this will definitely give me more satisfaction and happiness when i pray them next.

    I have a query Ervad Saheb, i know it may sound silly to ask such a question which would be basic for many. But i want to clear my doubt once and for all. In the last part of Nyaeshes there are few lines which need to be read facing the south. I get confused as to which lines are they exactly as there seems to be a dot after every line. Can you please tell me what part exactly from start to end has to be read facing the south?

  3. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  September 23, 2010

    @Nazneen
    The entire part from the point where you are directed to turn south, till the end of the prayer, should be recited facing south.
    Best regards,
    Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram

  4. Nazneen P.G. / H.K.  September 23, 2010

    Thank you very much Ervad Saheb for your prompt response.

  5. rita  November 3, 2010

    Ervad Saheb,

    With reference to the last para on the Farajyat prayers, please advise if the Ava Nyaesh can be prayed at home or it has to be prayed only near the well at the fire temple.

    Thank you.

  6. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  November 3, 2010

    Dear Rita,

    The Ava Nyaesh can also be prayed at home since the body is composed of nearly 70% water.

    Best regards,
    Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram

  7. rita  November 10, 2010

    Thank you Ervad Saheb.
    Rgds

  8. Kaizad  March 29, 2011

    Sir i’ve read the article and really found it helpful.
    My question is that we normally pray Khorshed and Meher Niyaesh in day time. Then is it that even Khorshed and Meher Yasht are to be prayed during the day.

  9. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  March 29, 2011

    @Kaizad
    That is correct. The same rule applies to Khorshed, Meher and Ava Yashts.
    However, Mah Yasht and Nyaesh can be prayed in all the 5 Gahs.
    Best regards,
    Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram

  10. rohinton  May 26, 2011

    Does khorshed and meher yasht also have to be prayed after one another like the nyaish?

  11. rohinton  May 26, 2011

    or can we pray only khorshed yasht and not meher yasht on khorshed roj and like versa or is it mandatory to pray both yasht one after another? Thanks …

  12. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  May 27, 2011

    The Khorshed and Meher Yashts can be prayed separately and it is not necessary to pray them one after the other like the Nyaeshes.

  13. Merzush Mistry  June 29, 2011

    Dear Ervad Saheb,

    Thank you for your guidance. It was only by chance that I got a hit on this site during my search for correct knowledge on our religion. It is one of the best sites that I have come across. It is one thing to recite a prayer without knowing what we are actually praying and a completly different experience when one has an idea of what he/she is reciting. This I can say from my own experience.
    Please advise if all 5 Nyaeshes are compulsory to be prayed everyday or some can be skipped. Although I do try to pray all 5, however at times it becomes very difficult to recite all 5 and then to recite a Yasht due to various reasons.

  14. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  June 29, 2011

    Hi Merzush,
    Only the Khorshed and Meher are Farajyat in the first three Gahs. The other three are optional.

  15. xyz  January 5, 2012

    I read this article to-day for the first time and I fully agree with you one hundred percent. To-day’s generation of parsees 14 to 30 year olds have become so rebellious that they do not obey their parents. They do not wear sudreh-kusti. They follow all religions and they do not practice zoroastriansism at-all. Most of them are becoming atheists day by day. Due to bad company of friends, they disobey everyone. Only God will show them the right path. I suggest, all our scholar priests and vada dasturs should find a solution to start teaching zoroastrian religion to these young zoroastrians who have lost their way in life. Please find a solution at the earliest and bring all of them into our zoroastrian faith by guiding them properly. May Lord Ahuramazda show them the right path at the earliest.

  16. Piloo Manijeh  May 3, 2012

    Respected Sirs,

    Importance of Zamyad Yasht in Zoroastrian prayers and when it is to be prayed ie. on which days (Roj) and can be it be prayed in all 5 Gehs.

    Regards.

  17. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  May 3, 2012

    @Piloo Manijeh
    The Zamyad Yasht can be prayed in all the 5 Gahs. To be prayed specially on Zamyad Roj and its Hamkars – Amardad, Rashne, Ashtad. The Yasht has many mysterious details specially regarding the Kyanian Khoreh.

  18. Siroosh Yazdani  May 5, 2012

    Dear Mubed,
    Why do Bhagarsath priest pray the geh as the last part of Farajiyat, and also why do they turn back to the direction they were facing (from south) to recite the Avestan and Pahalavi names of the yazata. I was reading from Kangaji book and was confused as to why the gehs were after niayeshes. When I consulted my family priest he said that this was the true way to pray, because it followed the Bhagarsath tradition and added that this was the correct fashion of prayer in Dusturjis Kotwal, Jamaspasa, and MeherjiRana XVI’s opinion. Please clarify.

  19. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  May 5, 2012

    @Yazdani
    There are many minor differences in prayer and ritual among different Panths. They are not relevant and important. Ustad Saheb explained that there are several ways to arrive at a common number. 5+4=9, 6+3=9, 3+3+3=9. What is important is the end goal. Thus it is not necessary to go on and on about differences in methods, rituals, prayer sequences etc. They have arisen out of hundreds of years of practice and isolation. No one is completely wrong. And no one is completely right either. All are right and proper with respect to the time and place we reside in today. That the prayers are still being done is most important, unlike in Iran where much of everything has disappeared.

  20. Ruby Percy Sanjana  May 11, 2012

    Sahebji Ervadji,
    Can you throw some light on when and how to pray Doa Nam Setayesh?
    I pray it after completing all 5 niyaeshs and again after yashts.
    Since it is in Pazend language, is it to be recited in baj after the niyaeshs and
    also, is it to be recited after each and every niyaesh?
    Pl adv.
    Tandarosti,
    Ruby

  21. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  May 12, 2012

    @Ruby
    Nam Setayash should be prayed only once after reciting the Nyaeshes, Yahsts and other prayers like self-Patet, Din no Kalmo, Chithrem Buyat etc. There is no need to recite it more than once in any Gah. Please download the book by Dr. Cawas Gotlaseth “Rojinda Vyavahar ma Ilm-e-Khshnoom nu margdarshan” available on the SkyDrive to read many prayer related queries answered by Dr. Framroze Chiniwalla.

  22. Ruby Percy Sanjana  May 15, 2012

    Ervadji Sahebji,
    Read the whole booklet. Thank you. LOTS OF MY Q’S WERE ANSWERED.
    Tandarosti,
    Ruby

  23. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  May 16, 2012

    @Ruby
    You will find many hidden gems in all of Dr. Gotlaseth’s books available for download on the SkyDrive. They are ideal reading material for a beginner. I would strongly recommend you to download them all.

  24. Piloo  June 5, 2012

    I have noticed that Parsis and Irani Zoroastrians use the words Uhta-te which means forever happy but if one sees logically both the above communities they are very very suppressed by the other communities and very very submissive. They do not have any political power nor any country which they can wholly call their own. For a bachelor male even to get married it is very difficult. As far as jobs are concerned, they have to settle for minor and less paying jobs considered to their merits and qualifications. Other communities lobby for their community members. The most famous eg. is the lobby for the present head of the army by Sikh MPs, influential members of their community and other army officers belonging to the Sikh community. The past head of army was similarly lobbied for the post by Rajputs. There is nothing wrong in the above. All communities help their brethern. Unfortunately only the Parsi Zoroastrians go against this trend and have cause undue suffering to other Parsis. Most of the conservatives who want to quietly follow their religion (zoroastrians) are hounded by the neo-secularist, convertionist and rabid femnists. I do not see any happiness in this community but total unhappiness. However, a person can be happy in this religion if he has no principles and forgoes all his religious upbringing, traditions, etc. In this case he /she is rewarded by our religion with pots of money and overall happiness in life in each and every aspect.

  25. rohinton  June 10, 2012

    Dear Marazban would like to know if i want to pray a specefic yasht after completing my Nyaishes can i do so?for example want to pray siroja or tir yasht can i pray it directly after the nyaish or is it mandatory to pray the hormazd , ardibehest and sarosh yasht hadokt first and than start with any yasht of my choice ? because my grand mother used to always say that hormazd yasht with remaining 2 is compulsory and only than after one can pray any yasht .also in the khordeh avesta khsnoom i feel its wriiten that way.Please need ur opinion.

  26. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  June 11, 2012

    @Rohinton. The correct method is indeed to pray the three Yashts first and then start any other.

  27. Percy  June 12, 2012

    Today I have learnt that I must pray Hormazd Yash+ Ardibesht Yasht+ Sarosh Yasht and after these ONLY I can pray Behram Yasht, but how to end this prayer?

    after Behram Yasht do I have to pray Atash Nyesh+Satayshneh Dadar Hormazd+4 Namaskar+101 Names… please guide. And thanks both of you Rohinton and Marzban…

  28. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  June 12, 2012

    @Percy: The general rule to remember is to first do the Nyaeshes and then the Yashts. After all of these are over, you can pray the optional prayers like Chithrem Buyat, Patet, Din no Kalmo, Roj-Mah Setayashes etc. After these are over, then one Nam Setayashne should be prayed. Then the Tandorasti and finally end with 101 Names of God.

  29. Percy  June 13, 2012

    Thanks again Marzban, so as I have understood-If I were inclined to pray “Behram Yasht” then the Procedure would be – 5 Ashem-5 Yatha- Kemna Mazda-Hormazd Khodai-Jasme Avanghe-(Kusti)-Sarosh Baz-Geh-Khorshed & Meher Nyesh-Vispa Humata-Hormaz Yasht-Ardibehst Yasht- Sarosh Yasht (vadi)-BEHRAM YASHT-Nam Satayeshnay-Atash Nyesh-4 Disa Namaskar-Tan Dorasti-101 Names… Right?

  30. Burzin  June 20, 2012

    Dear Percy,

    Note that Sarosh Yasht Vadi needs to be recited only in the Aiwisruthrem Geh and it is an exception when a Yasht needs to be prayed immediately after the Geh but prior to the Nyaeshes (i.e. pray Aiwisruthrem Gah then Sarosh Yasht Vadi and followed by Mah Bokhtar + Atash Nyaesh during Aiwisruthrem).

    in my opinion, the order you have mentioned cannot be applicable to all Gehs:
    1. Vispa Humata only during Havan Geh (or second Havan).
    2. During day time – it would be Sarosh Yasht Hadokht that you would pray after Hormazd and Ardibesht Yashts.
    3. Doa Nam Satayashne to be prayed after Atash Nyaesh (not the other way) then followed by 4 Disa no Namaskar, etc.
    4. Again 4 Disa no Namaskar only during day time (not during Aiwisruthrem and Ushain)

    Refer: http://www.zoroastriansnet.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/prayer-sequence_zn.doc

  31. FArida  August 7, 2012

    Dear Ervadji kindly guide us with seqence prayers to be recited in each geh.And i would like to know Char Disa nu Namskar .Where to face first in any geh East-west-north south or some specific direction to be faced in evevry geh.And do we have to pray in All direction Ahmai rascha,hujengam,jas me avanghe.Kerfeh mozda Or only to recite in Last direction facing in that geh.Kindly reply Thanks

  32. FArida  August 7, 2012

    Dear Ervadjis Kindly Guide why it is Prohibited for ladies to Pray during Period time.As MAny have belief Ke they can pray Kusti Prayer even in Manstrual Cycle.
    Kindly explain what is the right method for a women to take care of during those time.And why it is compulsary to Wear slippers and CAps-scarf during Prayer Time
    DIVINE THANKS
    FARIDA

  33. Piroja  February 4, 2016

    Dear Sir,
    Thank you for such an informative article.
    I understand that
    Mah Bakhtar Nyash is in praise of the moon, Ardvi Sur Nyash is in praise of the waters, and Atash Nyash is in praise of the fire.
    Could you please tell me Khorshed Nyash and Maher Nyash are in praise of what?
    Thank you.
    Piroja

  34. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  February 5, 2016

    @Piroja
    THe Khorshed Nyaesh is with reference to the Sun while the Meher Nyaesh is for the Suns rays.

  35. Gulla  April 13, 2016

    Dear Marazban, I have a couple of queries:

    1. I would like to know the correct prayer sequence for aiwisuthrem & Ushain Gehs .

    2. How many counts of atash nyaishes are recited in Udvada when Boi is performed in different gahs?

  36. Farrokh Peshotan Taraporewalla  November 17, 2016

    Thank you very much Marzban for imparting the knowledge.

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