Being a good Parsi, even in hospital – part 4

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Roj Mohor, Mah Tir 1382 Yz.

Having understood the importance of maintaining a  Saabet Kusti, we now turn our attention to the prayers to be done. One may think that in the pain and distress, tension and stress of the hospital surroundings, the last thing on a patient’s mind would be prayer. But that is not true. For those of us, for whom prayer is a daily routine at multiple points of the day, the inability to pray or to perform the Farajyat is a terrible burden to bear. Even for those who may not be regular Avesta chanters, the impending sense of danger and the realization of the fragility and impermanence of our lives gives a strong impetus to pray, or at least remember Ahura Mazda in these times of distress.

For those who know the Farajyat prayers by heart and can either stand or sit up in bed and recite them, should enthusiastically do so whenever possible. Some people may question whether the Avesta can be recited in a ritually impure environment like a hospital. The answer is that the benefits of chanting the Avesta, even in an impure place like a hospital, far outweigh the slight disturbance which is caused by the creation of spiritually high frequency Avesta vibrations, called Staot. The disturbance caused is set right by certain agencies which exist in nature whose sole function is to rectify the imperfections caused by irregular Avesta recital. For example, in a Madressa, where young boys study to become priests, a lot of mistakes are made while memorizing the prayers. Does this mean that they should not chant the Avesta? No. The disturbance caused by their practice and sometimes imperfect recitation is set right by the specific agencies appointed by nature to oversee this function.

Similarly, it needs to be remembered that most Parsis make horrendous mistakes while reciting Avesta from the a-shuddha Avesta books. Even these imperfect recitals cause disturbance in nature. Hence the objection which one may raise against the recital of Avesta Manthras in the hospital is not totally valid.

But what about those who do not know the prayers by heart and pray from a book? An important point to remember is that in no circumstances should prayer books be brought from home or the Agiary to the hospital and then taken back. If a person feels the need to pray from a book, he should keep that book aside and not use it again at home and definitely not take it to the Agiary. Guidelines to dispose such used religious materials is given in the essay How to dispose religious objects, which should be followed. In the unfortunate case where a person has to visit the hospital on a regular basis, an old Khordeh Avesta can be set aside separately for this purpose. If a computer savvy member is present in the house, the required prayers can be downloaded from the Net and printed on sheets of paper which can then be disposed in the manner given in the essay mentioned earlier.

But there is a much simpler way to recite Avesta, without using a book and going through all this trouble. Late Jehangirji Chiniwalla had revealed to a trusted disciple that the body needs a minimum dosage of Avesta Manthras on a daily basis. For those who cannot pray anything else, the daily dosage can be easily obtained by reciting 100 Yatha Ahu Vairyo, 100 Ashem Vohu and 100 Yenghe Hatam prayers, one after the other (that is recite 100 Yatha first, then 100 Ashem and then 100 Yenghe Hatam). This lady disciple, who unfortunately had to visit the hospital regularly, had even made a separate Rosary (set of prayer beads) to use in the hospital to keep track of the 100 recitals. This practice can be very easily adopted by those of us who cannot recite prayers by heart.

Another important and extremely vital prayer that can be chanted is certain names from the 101 Names of God. It is very beneficial to recite the 101 Names sequentially (that is one after the other), prefixing each name with the appellation ‘Ya’, for example, Ya Yazad, Ya Harvesp Tavaan, Ya Harvesp Aga and so on till Ya Frashogar. The chanting should be started with 2 Yatha and 1 Ashem and ended with 1 Yatha and 2 Ashem. Most Parsis would (I hope!) know the 101 Names and should not have a problem doing this.

But there are a few names which are very beneficial for chanting in medical emergencies and moments of distress. The method of reciting a particular name should be carefully followed. After performing the Kusti and Sarosh Baj prayers, begin with reciting 2 Yatha and 1 Ashem. Then the specific name should be recited. For medical emergencies and to stop great pain, recite ‘Ya Ashaum A-Bish Yazamaide’ 101 times. For removing the feeling of fear and dread that comes with being in a hospital recite ‘Ya Ashaum A-Tarsh Yazamaide’ 101 times. To help in general healing and quick recovery recite ‘Ya Bishtarnaa Ashaum Tarobish (not Taronish) Yazamaide’ 101 times. After chanting the name 101st time, recite one Ashem Vohu. Follow with a Tandorasti prayer, reciting only the name of the patient. Finish the prayer by reciting 1 Yatha and 2 Ashem.

An important point to remember is that the recitation of Avesta should be done in a soft, but audible manner. Avesta can never be recited ‘in the mind’. The chanting must be done in a manner such that the voice is audible only to us and no one else. Under no circumstances should a show be put on that one is praying. Such displays of religiosity would immediately render the Avesta worthless. In case a nurse or doctor or anyone else comes to visit at the time the prayers are being recited, the patient should simply stop and then  resume once the person moves away. No unnecessary show should be made or a person asked to go away simply because one is praying.

Even when one is being taken away for an operation or is placed on the operation table and before the administration of anesthesia, it is extremely beneficial to continuously chant the names A-Tarsh and A-Bish or simply recite the Yatha, Ashem and Yenghe Hatam prayers. They will give you much needed help and stabilize a mind which begins to panic on seeing the bright lights and equipment laid out in the OT.

We will understand some procedures to be followed after surgery and discharge from hospital in the next post.

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram