Roj Khorshed Mah Meher, 1380 Yz.
Where do we come from? Why are we here? What do we need to do here? Where will we go? These are the essential and existential questions asked by all at some point or other in our life. Great philosophers and thinkers have applied their immense intellect to come up with answers that may satisfy our urge to know the reality behind this earth. A famous musician and singer wrote eloquently:
From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There’s more to be seen than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
Some say eat or be eaten
Some say live and let live
But all are agreed as they join the stampede
You should never take more than you give
In the circle of life
It’s the wheel of fortune
It’s the leap of faith
It’s the band of hope
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle of life.
What does the Zoroastrian religion have to say about these questions? What light has our Master, Ustad Saheb Behramshah Nowroji Shroff shed on the wondrous circle of life?
Ustad Saheb explained that in order to properly answer these questions, it was necessary to understand the rationale of creation. The Zoroastrian Divine Science reveals that Ahura Mazda created this universe to aid in the process of collective salvation (Frashogard). The Ruvans of man play a central role in this process. The Ruvans carry with them a part of the imperfection which exists in nature. This imperfection has to be converted to perfection. Over an extremely long period of time (called Zravane Akarne – Endless Time in the Avesta), the individual Ruvans will convert their individual burden to perfection. When all such individual fragments have been reformed, the collective universe will head towards collective perfection – called Frashogard, or Frashokereiti.
Thus man’s life of 70-80 years is an insignificant part of the overall extremely long life of the Ruvan as it toils to reform the small part of imperfection it carries. The earth is one of the many milestone stops where the Ruvan arrives at, uses the facilities provided by Ahura Mazda and His Creation to reform its burden and then proceeds onwards on its long journey. Our physical body, in which the Ruvan spends the few years of our life, is one such aid in the process of transmutation of evil to good. Therefore to understand the journey of the Ruvan and our own journey, it is necessary to properly study the composition of our body.
The Avesta reveals that the physical body which we see and interact with is not the whole body. The complete human body is composed of nine parts, divided into three groups of three components each. The first group of three bodies, which we may call the Physical Group, consists of
- Tanu – the physical body, skeletal and muscular system;
- Gaetha – the various internal organs and diverse systems within the body; and
- Azda – the nervous and circulatory systems as well as the liquid profiles within the body.
The second group of three bodies, which we may call the Ultra-physical Group, consists of
- Keherp – the astral body which contains within it 16 spinning centres, called Chakhras,
- Ushtan – the life breath of the body, connected to the life breath of the person’s religion and its Prophet; and
- Tevishi – the emotions body which is also the seat of inspiration.
The third group of three bodies, which we may refer to as the Divine Group contains the
- Urvan – soul,
- Baodangh – the Divine Wisdom of Ahura Mazda, a part of which is contained in every creation; and
- Fravashi – the Spirit of Implicit Obedience, the mother who guides all the other bodies.
The Keherp or the subtle body contains within it 16 centres, called Chakhras, which attract, receive, process and distribute Divine Energy which descends from the heavens above. The Chakhras are located at 16 different points of the human body, starting from the top of the head to the soles of the feet. The three Divine Bodies of Ruvan, Baodangh and Fravashi reside within the 10th Chakhra which is located near the heart.
Each of the three groups also has its own reasoning and thinking mind. The mind which we currently use to determine our daily behaviour is the mind of the physical group of bodies. (referred to as the physical mind from here on). The mind connected to the ultra-physical group of bodies is currently dormant, but can be activated by those who are advancing on the spiritual path. The mind connected with the Divine group (which we will refer to as the Ruvan’s mind) is also dormant during our physical life. It can be activated by very advanced persons who have freed themselves from the limitations of physical life. During our lifetime of 70-80 years, the physical mind is active and this is the intelligence we use to make the decisions which will shape our lifestyle and interaction with others.
Another important point to bear in mind is the fact that every thought, word and deed which is produced by our physical mind is recorded at three places in nature. The first imprint is placed in our Aipi, or the immediate surrounding area of our physical body which is unseen through normal eyes. The second imprint is recorded on the ground where such thought, word or deed was germinated. The third imprint is created in an area far above the earth, which we shall examine later on. Depending on whether the thought, word or deed was good (good refers to universal good, not personal or convenient good) or evil, the imprint is recorded in either the south or north side of the area above the earth. These imprints play an invaluable part in our onward journey, as we shall see later on.
On the day of death, which is always pre-determined, many processes are started within the 9 bodies. As dawn breaks, the Azda, which is like a bag of viscous liquid permeating the entire physical body and about 3 inches beyond that, slowly begins to develop a crack, near the right toe (for a male) and the left toe (for females). The life force begins to seep out of this crack slowly. At the same time, the physical mind, which was active all through life, begins shutting down. Depending on whether the death is destined to be sudden or violent or whether it is gradual or peaceful, the physical mind sees a recap of the events of the entire life, in a few seconds or over a slightly longer period. Slowly, the physical faculties of the body begin shutting down, one after the other and the mind begins wandering or slipping in and out of consciousness. At the moment of death, the Azda breaks down totally and the two heat forces which were keeping the physical body alive, cool down and stop.
At the point of death, the Divine Bodies of Baodangh and Fravashi, which have been alerted and activated, now arouse the Ruvan and its mind. The three bodies, which were residing in the tenth Chakhra near the heart, must now move out of this place, and take up residence in the first Chakhra, located at the top of the head. This is a dangerous journey (although it seems to be hardly a distance between the heart and the head). The danger arises from the arrival of two evil forces – Aeshma Druj and Nasu Druj. Aeshma Druj is the evil force which is created from the imprints of our own evil thoughts, words and deeds, which had been collected in the Aipi through the life time. Nasu Druj is the evil force which arises once the physical body loses its heat and starts decaying. It is the primary reason why the body begins to give off bad odour and starts decomposing. Both these Druj forces put roadblocks in the journey of the Divine Bodies from the 10th Chakhra to the 1st Chakhra.
At this point, it is essential that the Sachkar ceremony is performed immediately, and definitely in the same Gah in which death took place. It is very unfortunate today that the Sachkar ceremony is purposely delayed so that a relative of the deceased can come and touch the body. While emotions must be respected, the Ruvan of the deceased suffers tremendously because of the delay in performing the Sachkar. Unless the Sachkar is performed, the road is not cleared for the Ruvan to complete its journey from the 10th Chakhra to the 1st Chakhra. The relative of the deceased does not gain anything by touching a dead body, the life from which has moved out long ago. But this delay causes grievous hurt to the Ruvan of the deceased. Those who willingly delay the performance of this vital ceremony put such a grave load on the onward journey of the soul that its ill effects cannot be imagined.
Once the Sachkar ceremony is performed properly, the spiritual circuits drawn by the iron nail moving around the body stop the attack of Aeshma Druj and Nasu Druj on the Ruvan. The Divine Bodies now move out of the tenth Chakhra and take up their residence in the 1st Chakhra, where they will reside for the first three days after death.
We shall continue the journey further in the next post.
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram