Roj Jamyad Mah Sherevar, 1378 Yz.
In our earlier two posts we have covered the aspects of attending a Paidust up to the stage where the two priests begin the recitation of the Ahunavaiti Gatha which is known as the Geh Sarna ritual.
The person attending the Paidust has already ‘taken’ his Baj of Sarosh and is therefore in the ‘no-talk’ phase. This is a good time to closely listen to the priests and manner in which they recite this particular prayer. There is a steady speed in their praying, where the breath is taken at the beginning of each stanza of the Ahunavaiti Gatha and the breath is not broken till the end of the stanza. The recitation is peculiar because there is a cutting motion to the prayer with each word being recited with some sharpness. Even the recitation of the Yatha Ahu Vairyo prayers which occur at the end of each Chapter of the Gatha (there being 7 Chapters in the Ahunavaiti Gatha) is done in a peculiar cutting motion.
There is a very important spiritual aspect to this practice. The Manthras of the Ahunavaiti Gatha are very powerful and their main characteristic is the ability to CUT. The recitation of this prayer is done to CUT the connection which exists between the Ruvan of the person, now sitting near the head of its old and decaying body, and the physical body itself. There is a subtle spiritual cord, much like the umbilical cord which binds together the mother and child at birth. This ability of the Ahunavaiti Gatha Manthras to cut connections is the main reason why pregnant women are advised NOT to attend the Paidust, as the powerful Manthras might inadvertently cause a problem in the link between the mother and the developing child in her womb.
At a certain point during the Geh Sarna ceremony, the priests stop praying and turn away from the body. The Nasseh-salaars sitting next to the body lift it from the stone slabs on which it was placed before the Sachkar, and gently place the body into the iron bier or Gehaan located next to the stone slabs. At this point the spiritual Karshas or boundaries drawn at the time of the Sachkar ceremony to contain the Druj Nasu are broken and the Nasu comes charging out. Immediately another assistant brings in the dog and the Sagdid ritual is done. The spiritual power coming out of the dog’s eyes limits the spread of the Nasu pollution. At this time, the persons sitting in the room where the body is placed should turn their gaze or eyesight away from the body so that no connection is established between the eyes and the Nasu. Once the Sagdid ritual is over, the assistant gives an audible signal to the priests who will then once again resume the Geh Sarna prayer from the point they had stopped. The persons sitting in the room should wait for this signal to bring back their eyes upon the body.
As the Mobeds recite and come to the end of the Geh Sarna prayer the constant thought should be run: “May the powerful prayers of the Ahunavaiti Gatha succeed in cutting the connection and attraction between the Ruvan and its body.”
After the Geh Sarna prayers are over, and if the Baj has been maintained, one should go up in front and perform the Sezda, always standing at least 10 feet away from the body. Even if the Nasseh-salaars insist, you should not go any near to the body than 10 feet at all times. If the Baj has been broken by speaking to someone, then the Kusti should be re-done and the Baj of Sarosh taken once again. Then the Sezda should be performed and silence maintained to hold the Baj. While bowing down in front of the body while doing the Sezda, a silent 1 Ashem Vohu can be recited and the thought passed in the mind: “May the Ruvan of Behdin XX (name of the person) close its connection with this physical body which is now going to the Dokhma, and may it attain the protection and custody of Sarosh Yazad.”
After doing the Sezda, one should walk out of the Bungli and use a cotton handkerchief to make a Paiwand (connection) with another person. The handkerchief should be held by the two in such a way that it forms a U shape. Thereafter one should walk behind the body being carried after the priests and keeping an adequate distance. While walking the following thought should be focussed in the mind: “Because the body has been lifted from the pavi in which it was placed at the time of the Sachkar, the attack of Druj Nasu is now in play. With this handkerchief and the power of my Kusti and Sarosh Baj, I am reducing the attack on the Urvan. May the Earth (Spenta Armaiti) take the attack of the Nasu from the Urvan and onto herself through this handkerchief.” Those who know the ‘Yatu zi Zarathushtra …’ prayer forming part of the Haftan Yasht should pray the same while walking behind the priests. Otherwise, the simple Ashem prayer would suffice. Absolute silence is a must as the Baj is still ‘On’.
Rather than looking around at the scenic beauty of the Dungerwadi premises or the other persons who are attending the Paidust, it is best to keep the eyes towards the ground and to focus the mind on the thoughts mentioned in the previous paragraph.
After the body has been placed on the platform before the Dokhma for the final Sagdid, the last Sezda should be done from around 10 feet. While bowing down for the last time before the deceased’s body, focus the thoughts on your association with that person, and praying one Ashem Vohu pass the thought: “May the Ruvan of Behdin XX (name of the person) close its connection with this physical body which is now going to the Dokhma, and may it attain the protection and custody of Sarosh Yazad.”
After the body is carried into the Dokhma the attendees should walk to the place where the prayer books are handed out. After some time, one of the Nasseh-salaars who has accompanied the body inside the Dokhma will come out and give a signal to the assistant handing out the books. The assistant then loudly says: “Bawaji Baj mukjo” (Parsis, please ‘leave’ the Baj). This is the given signal when the Baj of Sarosh which had been taken at the Bungli should be finished by reciting ‘Nemascha ya Armaitish…’ and then the rest of the Sarosh Baj. Then the Namaskar of the Dokhma and the Namaskar of the Mountain given in the book should be recited.
It is only now that readers will realise the mystery of the man shouting “Bawaji Baj mukjo” which everyone listens to but hardly anyone understands today! There is a reason behind EVERY step of our rituals, it just needs to be understood.
We shall continue the further steps in our next post.
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram