Being a good Parsi, even in hospital – part 5

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 Camil Tulcan via CompfighRoj Dae-pa-Din Mah Tir, 1382 Yz.

On the day of the operation, relatives and friends should be requested to offer a few pieces of sandalwood at the Agiary or Atash Behram closest to their house. If the patient is a regular visitor at a particular Fire Temple, then arrangements should be made to offer sandalwood at that Agiary too. If possible, a Machi with Tandorasti can also be offered just before the start of the procedure. The patient must ensure that he remembers to reimburse those who offered sandalwood and Machi on his behalf at the various Agiaries.

Before the operation, the attendant usually visits to shave and prepare the part of the body to be operated upon. At this time, the Sudreh and Kusti, if still on the body, should be removed after the necessary prayer. If the patient is in a position to take a bath, he should do so since it will quite a few days before he is allowed to take a bath again. After the bath, a fresh Sudreh and Kusti should be worn until the attendants come to wheel the patient into the operation theatre. As per our earlier post, if the operation is not in an area where the Sudreh Kusti interfere and if the doctor’s prior permission has been taken, they should be kept on. If not, then the sacred vestments should be removed after proper prayer. As the patient is shifted to the operation theatre, it is immensely helpful to silently recite the three Azad Manthras of Yatha, Ashem and Yenghe Hatam continuously, even though the Sudreh Kusti may not be on the body. This silent prayer should be continued till the anesthesia takes effect.

The moment when one comes out of the anesthesia induced sleep is a terribly confusing and painful moment. There are two things which hit one instantly. One is the pain in the part of the body where the operation took place and the second is the unbearable noise produced by anyone talking even softly near you or the various instruments being placed back and the attendants moving around. The ears seem to become extra sensitive during this time and the noise and pain both render you very uneasy. If the patient is to be shifted to the Intensive Care Unit, no relative would be allowed. In case the patient is wheeled back to his room, relatives should avoid gathering around and asking questions, or discussing the procedure in the room. Silence is of great solace at this time. A simple, gentle caress on the hand or a very quiet ‘everything is OK’ whisper is enough.

As the patient moves back and forth between consciousness and pain, a relative should perform his Kusti and then sit by the side of the patient and keeping a Paivand with a handkerchief, begin the soft but audible recitation of the Manthra ‘Ya Ashaum A-Bish Yazamaide’. This will greatly help in relieving the pain of the patient. If possible, the Sudreh and Kusti should be wrapped around the arm of the patient as explained earlier. If this is not convenient, the folded Sudreh and Kusti should be placed under the head of the patient, without disturbing him in any way.

The first few hours after surgery are full of pain and confusion and care should be taken to keep the patient at ease at all times. There will be increased activity after the operation as nurses keep coming to check the vital parameters every hour or so. The room should be kept slightly darkened or eye pads should be used. Visitors should be requested to avoid coming immediately after the surgery. Peace and quiet are the greatest help at this time. The last thing one needs is a noisy and nosy visitor.

Over the next few hours, as the ill-effects of anesthesia wear away and the first few drops of water are given, the patient becomes more conscious of his state. As and when convenient, a relative should continue the recitation of the pain  relieving Manthra. In case the patient is still kept in the ICU, a relative can sit outside and recite the Manthras quietly, concentrating his inner eye and focus on the image of the patient lying on the bed in the ICU. Once the patient stabilizes and gains complete control over his consciousness, he can join in the recitation of the prayer, if he feels like it.

As the situation improves over the next few days, the patient should try and get the Sudreh Kusti on his body as soon as possible. The head should be kept covered at all times. Friends can be requested to offer sandalwood to their respective Atash Padshahs as thanksgiving for the successful operation. As the day of discharge draws near, some preparations should be made at home. The bed where the patient will sleep on should be cleaned and new sheets put on. It is helpful to have a Divo burning constantly in the room.

Before the discharge from the hospital, a very important duty that the patient should fulfill is to thank those attendants who have helped him during his stay. Our Master, Ustad Saheb always used to advise that those who pick up our refuse and dead matter – barbers, cleaners, etc., should be handsomely compensated. However, many hospitals have a policy of not encouraging cash gifts to staff. This is a good practice and should be followed. The best alternative to giving cash is to distribute either a cake or some sweets. If there has been one attendant in particular who has served the patient, he can be given a box separately. One cake or box of sweets should be given to the housekeeping supervisor to distribute amongst all the support staff. Similarly another box of sweets or a cake should be given to the nursing supervisor or Matron to distribute amongst the nurses.

Many hospitals ask for feedback through forms. Some persons consider it polite to give average feedback. However, it is necessary to be honest, but polite while giving the feedback, both in written form as well as verbally. If there are areas where you felt that things could be changed for the better, please mention so. If there were areas where you were particularly impressed, please mention that too. Your honest feedback may result in changes in some methods or procedure which may benefit many thousands of patients later on.

Finally as the time comes to dress in your home clothes and gingerly walk away from the room, a silent prayer of thanks – just one Yatha and two Ashem to thank God for providing the opportunity to learn something new, even at the cost of pain and suffering.

The recovery process should continue at home. Daily prayers can be easily said, even though a bath may not be allowed till the wound heals and the stitches are removed. The healing Manthras from the 101 names can be recited. It is also greatly beneficial to stand or be wheeled in front of the rising sun and to recite the Khurshed and Meher Nyaeshes every day. While reciting the specific formula for Havan Gah of the Khorshed Meher Nyaeshes – ‘Vohu ukshya manangha khshathra ashaca ushta tanum’ three times visualize the healing properties of the sun and its rays – specifically the healing benefits of Khurshed Yazad and Meher Yazad pouring through the sun’s rays into the body and energizing every atom of your body. This is an immensely useful exercise which should be done even in normal times. It is the Parsi equivalent of the Hindu Surya Namaskar.

Finally as the time comes when you feel confident to visit the Agiary or Atash Behram, call the family priest and ask him to administer a Nahn. As you chew the pomegranate leaf and sip the consecrated Nirang, visualize the ill effects and spiritual contagion created by the visit to the hospital being removed from the body, being replaced by the cosmic strength of the Nirang and the Manthras of the Nahn. After the Nahn ceremony is over, once again wash the hands, face and feet and perform the Kusti. Then sit down and recite a Patet Pashemani with full devotion and passion. As you go through the various sins of omission and commission mentioned in the Patet, offer sincere and true repentance to the Maker. As you reach the last Karta and recite the line ‘pe neki sepasdar hom, az anai khursand hom’ offer thanks to God for the experience of the last few days which resulted in the hospitalization and subsequent recovery.

Thereafter make a visit to the regular Atash Behram or Agiary and bow down before the Padshah Saheb with feelings of tenderness and thanksgiving. A thanksgiving Machi can be offered or a Jashan can be performed, preferably in the Agiary premises itself. As the daily cycle commences again, remember to reimburse those who paid for the sandalwood offered during the hospitalization.

Readers of Frashogard, this brings us to the end of this series on how to  be a good Parsi, even in hospital. Medical emergencies are a great way to remind ourselves of our mortality and weakness. No one, however great he may consider himself, or however senior a position he may occupy, should be under the false impression that the body is his to control and enjoy. Nobody should think himself as indispensable. All of us should inculcate the feeling of humility and utter insignificance in front of our Creator. In one way or another, at some time or the other, we shall all leave this physical vessel in which our Ruvan is confined today and rise up to continue our journey towards perfection. It behooves us all to remember this and to make adequate arrangements for the same.

I leave you with this very beautiful Bhajan of Meerabai, which I found quite by mistake, sung by India’s nightingale Lata Mangeshkar. The words of this Bhajan will have a profound effect on you, as they did on me. Click on the link below to visit the You Tube site where you can listen to Lata singing the words of Meerabai. She says:

Hari bin, kun gati meri! Hari bin, kun gati meri! Tum mere pratipal kahiye, main dasi prabhu teri! Hari bin, kun gati meri.

O Lord, what am I without you! You are my guardian and saviour, I your humble slave. What am I without you…

Yeh sansar vikaar ka sagar, beech me main gheri! Kun gati meri…

This world is an ocean of suffering, I am surrounded by it from all sides! Who but you will help me…

Baari baari pukari main, prabhu hai arati teri! Hari bin kun gati meri…

Time and time again, I sing your praises and worship you! What am I without you O Lord!

Naav khuti, prabhu paar lagao, dubat dasi teri! Kun gati meri…

The canoe of my life is stuck in the mud of this earth, please put me through, your slave is in danger of drowning! Who but you will save me…

Dasi Mira naam ratat hai, main sharan hu teri! Hari bin kun gati meri…

Your slave Meera is chanting your name, I am under your protection! What am I without you, my Lord!

Truly, where would we be without His Protection and Love? May the Lord Ahura Mazda’s Blessings and the Everlasting Vigil of the Abed Sahebs of Demavand forever be on all readers of Frashogard!

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram