An introduction to Zoroastrian Yoga – part 1

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Roj Tir Mah Adar, 1379 Yz.

The earlier post on Parsis, yogic exercises, and pranayam introduced readers to the Zoroastrian concept of Dum, or spiritual breath and the divine truth that the number of a person’s breathes are predetermined in nature. It was shown that any attempt to elongate, prolong or extend the individual breath cycle causes spiritual regression for the Zoroastrian soul. This was one of the main reasons for the prohibition of pranayama or breath control or elongation which forms an intrinsic part of Hath yoga. The earlier article also introduced to readers the very important concept of Ushtan, or life breath. Every person draws in, along with the oxygen vital to his or her existence, a part of the breath of the Prophet of their respective religion. This Ushtan is what causes the ultra-physical and divine parts of his body to live and perform their necessary functions. The ceremony to connect the breath of a Zoroastrian to the breath of his Prophet Zarathushtra is the Navjote. The practice of pranayam or the chanting of mantras of religions other than his own causes lack of faith in a Zoroastrian and results in severe spiritual regression of the soul. It was clarified that the practice of doing yogic asanas for health or therapeutic purposes was allowed as long as it was not accompanied by the chanting of any alien mantra or words.

Does the Zoroastrian religion have a valid and legal method whereby the expending of the limited number of breaths we have can be lessened in any manner? Why should a Parsi Zoroastrian not make use of a valid technique to extend his lifetime? Our Master, Ustad Saheb Behramshah N. Shroff revealed the secrets of this in a very simple and easy to understand manner. Ustad Saheb said that the expending of the limited Dums of a Parsi Zoroastrian was not dependent on any exercise or on breath control. He disclosed that the burning up of Dum (or what he also called ‘shwas-o-shwas’) was not a mechanical process but a spiritual process. When a Parsi thinks, speaks or performs a deed which is in line with the rules and tenets of the religion, a significantly less amount of Dum gets expended than when a Parsi thinks, speaks or performs a deed which goes against the basic rules of the religion. However, the skewed ratio of this process was revealed to me when listening to a recording of an old lecture given by Jehangir Chiniwalla. In that lecture, Jehangirji mentions that when a Parsi speaks the truth, 5 Dum get expended. But when the same individual lies (regarding any matter, not just religious), 50 Dum get expended! This is an extraordinarily high ratio and an eye opener for many of us (including myself). It is through this ratio that the secret of man’s longevity is revealed! Of course this cannot be the only contributor to a man’s longevity but it can still significantly alter the course of his life.

Ustad Saheb further revealed that the expending of Dum was closely linked to the state of the Aipi of a person. As we have seen earlier, a person’s body is composed of nine parts – three physical, three ultra-physical and three spiritual. The three ultra-physical parts of the body – called Keherp, Ushtan and Tevishi extend outside the physical core body by a few inches. These are also collectively called the Aipi – the subtle atmosphere around an individual. The area of the Aipi extends from the physical body to the circular expanse covered when a person stands with his arms on his hips. This Aipi, although invisible to us, can be very easily seen and read by advanced souls, including some Tibetan lamas who can effortlessly tell you how you have spent the last 24 hours. How is this possible? Khshnoom explains that each and every one of our innermost thoughts, words and deeds are captured and remain as a record of our past deeds at three places in nature. The first record and imprint is created on the ground on which that thought, word or deed was manifested. The second imprint is captured in our Aipi. The third record is maintained in one of two places: if it was a good thought, word or deed, it is stored in the celestial South – known as Dadar-e-Gehan. If it was a bad thought, word or deed, it is stored in the celestial North – known as Apakhtar. Over the years, this cloud of good and bad imprints gathers a form. It is this form which the Ruvan of a deceased persons sees on the fourth day after death, when it arrives on the doorstep of Chinvat. Depending on our lifestyle, the form can be a beautiful maiden, or a ugly hag.

Meanwhile the imprint in our Aipi also gathers. Depending on our lifestyle, the Aipi can be heavily polluted with the imprints of our evil thoughts, words and deeds; or can be radiant with our good thoughts, words and deeds. This is the reason why the photographs of holy men and women always have a halo around their heads – it is the extension of their superbly pure Aipi – which though invisible in normal individuals, is so powerful in the holy ones that it extends out of the body and is visible to normal persons too. Parsis who carefully observe such small things will realize that it is only in the portrait of our Prophet Zarathushtra, that the halo extends even from beyond His feet! My dear Parsis, when will we realize the great spiritual stature of our dear Prophet – who was a Yazata in human form and not some philosopher and poet!

Thus the fundamental principle and motive of Zoroastrian Yoga is to purify the Aipi. When an Aipi is clear, unpolluted and radiant, the Chakhras – the 16 Spiritual-energy receiving, processing and distribution centres present in our Keherp body, can function wonderfully well. Throughout the day and night, the Divine Government of Ahura Mazda works towards the salvation of creation. This Divine Functioning causes the raining of spiritual blessings – called Asere Roshni – to descend on this earth. When a person’s Chakhras are clear and unburdened, this Asere Roshni is easily attracted by the Chakhras, which assimilate this energy in our ultra-physical bodies, process it further and then distribute it to our physical body. It is this spiritual energy which lessens the expending of our Dums, and thereby enables us to elongate our time on earth. In short, a clean and radiant Aipi is the key to a long, healthy and satisfying life.

How do we keep the Aipi clean? The fundamental method of cleansing the Aipi of its accumulated debris is the performance of the correct and complete Kusti ritual. And this is where the problem starts. Performing a Kusti is a deeply spiritual, intensely meditational and supremely important ritual. It is that moment when we have to cut off our mind from the normal day-to-day humdrum thought processes, and instead focus on Ahura Mazda, His Prophet Zarathushtra and our own special Khuda – or personal god. One correct, perfect and intense Kusti can lead even the worst sinner to salvation! But today how many of us can put our hand on our heart and confess that we do the Kusti in this manner? I see hundreds of Parsis coming to my Agiary and performing the Kusti before entering the Hall of the Padshah Saheb. I can say without exaggeration that 99% of these performances are mechanical, devoid of devotion, and some are downright wrong! We go through the motions of untying and tying the Kusti but the mind is somewhere else. I can write pages on how we do the Kusti wrong. But I will rather save my time (and yours) by telling you how to do the right Kusti.

Dear readers, the Kusti is the fundamental building block of our spiritual progress. A soul takes thousands of births before it attains the Divine Right to put on a Sudreh! We are that exclusive few! Yet we are wasting this great Divine Gift given by our Prophet and the Creator. People talk of meditation and Art-of-Living classes. For a Parsi the Art-of-tying-the -Kusti is the supreme and easiest way to indulge in a one-to-one conversation with his Maker and his Prophet! It is the deepest of meditations and can take our mind right to the feet of our Creator! But we must learn to do it properly and completely. Our beloved Ustad Saheb has shown us the method and we shall analyse it in our next post.

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram



  1. Percy Patel  April 29, 2010

    Marazban Hi,
    I had earlier posted a note to which I didn’t get a response on the subject matter. May I get your guidance that if a human body is ailing physically, would it be right to use ‘Hatha Yoga’to get relief OR cure the ailment OR that it would be preferable to die at the feet of AHura Mazda N resign yourself t0 HIS WILL ?
    Many Thanks in advance for your response. Percy

  2. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  April 30, 2010

    Hi Percy,

    I think both the earlier article and the current article are very clear that you can use Yogic asanas to cure physical ailments, as long as there is no chanting of any Hindu manthras or pranayam exercises.

    There is no question of resigning to Ahura Mazda’s will. We must make our own efforts and leave the result up to God. The efforts however need to be legal and in tune with our religious commandments.

    Best regards,
    Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram

  3. Delnaz T  May 16, 2010

    Respected Ervad Hathiramji,

    Thank you very much for explaining us the importance of performing the Kusti in the correct manner. There are so many lessons to be learnt and remembered from this post. We should always speak the truth, without caring about the consequences. I am now aware of the fact that each and every one of our innermost thoughts, words and deeds are captured and remain as a record of our past deeds at three places in nature. We, as Parsis, need to keep our Aipi clean for achieving a long, healthy and a satisfying life. I completely agree with Ervadji that 99% of our Kusti performances are mechanical, devoid of devotion, and some are downright wrong!
    Dear Ervadji, am eagerly waiting for the next post wherein we shall learn the correct and proper method of performing a Kusti ritual. Better late than never.
    Sarosh Yazad Panabaad!!