Roj Amardad Mah Bahman, 1379 Yz.
It is my sad duty to inform readers of Frashogard that the holy Varasyaji ‘Shah Behram’, attached to the Bhagarsath Panth in Mumbai and stationed at the Cama Baug Agiary passed away this morning. The Pak Varasyaji had suffered a fall a few days ago and that led to paralysis. Although the best medical care was given to him at the hospital, Shah Behram could not be revived. Shah Behram lived to the very ripe age of 18 years and was older than the Varasyaji of Udvada who passed away last year. Later this morning, the body of Shah Behram was taken to the Dungerwadi grounds where it was buried, after placing a Sudreh and Kusti over its horns. The Varasyaji is one of the very few holy members of the animal kingdom which is allowed to be buried in the ground. The Anasers (spiritual building blocks which form the basis for DNA and the physical body) of the Varasyaji are so sublime that no pollution is caused in the earth by the burial of its body. Rather the earth eagerly welcomes receiving his body in her. Over many hundreds of years, the sublime Anasers of the Varasyaji will transmute into some precious ore. All other bodies (including humans) need to be exposed to the sunlight for their proper disposal.
The Bhagarsath Anjuman, being mindful of the advancing age of Shah Behram, had procured a suitable spare white bull, who was also housed at the Cama Baug Agiary. Last year, the Pak Varasyaji attached to the Panthaky Panth of Saronda, housed in the Banaji Agiary at Fort suddenly passed away, while a Nirangdin was in progress. At that time, the standby Varasyaji procured by the Bhagarsath Panth was given to the Panthaky Panth to tide over the death of the elder Varasyaji, since a number of Nirangdins were scheduled in that period at the Banaji Agiary. A condition was however attached by the Bhagarsath Panth that the Panthaky Panth would look for a replacement on an urgent basis and give a suitable bull as and when found. Shortly thereafter, a suitable bull was procured from the region on Dahanu and given to the Bhagarsath Panth. Now after the demise of Shah Behram, this young bull, aptly named Varzavand, will pass through the elaborate ceremonies of consecrating a Varasyaji spread over several days and become the spiritual heir to Shah Behram.
Our Master, Ustad Saheb Behramshah Nowroji Shroff has given a fascinating explanation of the Varasyaji and his extreme importance in our religion. Ustad Saheb revealed that the entire basis of the Zoroastrian religious ritual rests on three foundations: the Atash Behram Saheb; the Varasyaji and the Dokhma. The religion cannot survive without these three instruments. Ustad Saheb further revealed that the birth of a Varasyaji bull takes place only in the rarest of rare cases. A normal cow becomes pregnant and gives birth to a female calf as its first offspring at a time when the planet Jupiter is in a specific planetary position. This female calf grows up and gives birth to a female calf as its first offspring also when Jupiter is in an exalted position. This female calf in turn gives birth to a female first offspring when Jupiter is exalted. Only when these conditions are met over three generations, the last cow gives birth to a completely white bull as its first offspring – which is then taken and preserved and once the calf grows till it is about three years old, is then consecrated to become a Varasyaji.
What is special about a Varasyaji? Apart from the physical uniqueness of not having a single black hair (including the eyelashes, nose on the hair and the tail), whitish hoofs (both above and underneath) and a completely blemish free body (no piercings, defects, broken horn, etc.), the Varasyaji has great spiritual characteristics. Ustad Saheb revealed that the Varasyaji is born as the Pesh Ruvan (spiritual leader) of the animal kingdom. Because of the exaltedness of Jupiter (or rather the divine power of Burjis seen through our eyes as planet Jupiter) at the time of the birth of the Varasyaji and its previous mother ancestors, its Ushtan (life force, breath) is able to catch the lustrous vibrations of Burjis through its every breath. This exalted Ushtan is of a very high Aspandi or spiritual potency, almost reaching the level of Farreh Yazadi, the Lustre of the Yazatas. The Mithra (thought forces) of the Varasyaji always work on the good side of Nature, performing the function of ‘haataam jijishaam’, i.e. to live its life solely for the spiritual progress of others. This Mithra, present throughout the family of cattle (which is why the cow and bull are revered and hence can never be eaten), is supremely manifested in the Varasyaji. This Ushtan and Mithra permeate every atom of the Varasyaji’s body, giving rise to the spiritual Fire energy of Adar Froba within it.
The Varasyaji’s body has the same 16 Chakhras (receiving, processing and transmitting centres for spiritual power) as we do, but the 12th Chakhra, located on the sexual organs, is extremely exalted and under the control of Burjis. Thus the urine, passing through this energy centre becomes highly energised and potent with the spiritual energy of Burjis. Due to the super effluence of Burjis energy, the urine has the property of cleansing any spiritual pollution, replacing it with spiritual goodness, thereby giving rise to Asha – righteous and Divine Order. It is for this reason that the urine of the Varasyaji is mandated for our daily use. The tradition of applying ‘Ab-e-Zar’ (golden water, or the Varasyaji’s urine) over the exposed parts of the body after praying the specific Nirang (‘shekasteh shekasteh shaitan…’) has disappeared from our community and even amongst priests today. Our modern thinking community members averred that this tradition was good in days when soap and disinfectant was not available, but now with a multitude of choices available, why use bull’s urine? Our community forgot the cardinal rule which Ustad Saheb taught – the use of Taro is not as a general disinfectant (which function it can also perform) but rather as the spiritual cleanser to clear our body of the spiritual pollution which we accumulate thorough the previous day and night. When this urine is collected in a specific manner and passed through the Nirangdin ceremony, its power becomes so great that the normal decomposition associated with waste matter stops and the resultant Nirang stays fresh and without foul odour for many years. The Nirang forms the basis for all other ceremonies and is the foundation of Zoroastrian ritual.
The hair taken from the tail of the Varasyaji also forms an important apparatus in all higher Zoroastrian rituals, when it is wound around the Varas ni Viti – a ring made from an amalgamation of 8 metals and formed into a spiritual battery. This Viti is charged by dipping in the Kundi (vessel) of well water and reciting the 101 names of God at the beginning of the Yazashne ceremony. How can a hair – which is considered dead matter and Nasu be used in our ceremonies? When this question was put to Ustad Saheb, he explained that in a normal person, hair is considered as dead matter. However, the exalted stature of the Varasyaji is such that when this hair is harvested and cleansed in a particular manner, by heating it over the Dadgah fire in a small fulia, mixed with the Bhasam (sacred ash taken from the Atash Behram Saheb in a secret ceremony after the Ushahin Gah Bui), the hair loses its Nasu property and the sacred Fire Energy of Atash Vohu Friyan is exalted within it. Hence the Burjis potency of the Varasyaji is concentrated and stored in the Varas (as the hair of the Varasyaji is technically called). As and when the ring is used in ceremonies, the hair of the Varasyaji behaves in the same manner and has the same effect as the Varasyaji’s own presence would have had! It is for this reason that when a Varasyaji passes away, the Varas is also untied from the ring and disposed in a very specific manner, and all higher liturgical ceremonies have to stop, till the new Varasyaji is consecrated.
It is observed at times that the Varasyaji becomes agitated and sometimes even violent. Some believed that this is because the Varasyaji is not allowed to mix with other cattle or to mate with a cow. Ustad Saheb was asked to explain this anomaly. Ustad Saheb revealed that the high exaltedness of the Varasyaji has to be maintained by not allowing him to mix with other cattle. Ustad Saheb further revealed that the semen of the Varasyaji has a very low sperm count and is unable to produce any offspring. Compared to the semen of other bulls, the semen of the Varasyaji is more watery. Even though the Varasyaji may sometimes go into heat, Nature has devised natural ways for its semen to be discharged through its urine. This is the reason, Ustad Saheb explained, why the urine of the Varasyaji is never collected in the Rapithwin Gah.
But the greatest wonder was when Ustad Saheb revealed the reason for some Varasyajis having a violent temper and disposition. Ustad Saheb said that the Varasyaji is the King of the animal kingdom and Nature has to work very hard to produce one Varasyaji. Its use in Zoroastrian ritual benefits the entire creation, not just the few Parsis who remain today. But when priests do not perform rituals properly, or take short cuts, or do not observe the strict rules of purity which are expected of them, the great effort taken by Nature to produce a Varasyaji goes to waste. This puts a great burden on the soul of such rogue priests. But more than that, it causes spiritual pain to the Varasyaji who realizes that it is not being utilised in the best manner, thereby failing in its role of helping creation attain Frashogard. This spiritual pain and anguish is manifest in the violent temper and behaviour of the Varasyaji!
Dear readers, what intricacy there lies in our religion and how wonderfully it has been explained by our Master! Those who laugh at our traditions and scoff at our beliefs have no idea of the wealth and depth of information and scientific explanations which are available! When will our priestly class arise from their ignorance and come to love and respect this majestic animal? When will Parsis stop enjoying their steak and chips and realize the harm being done by the global slaughter of cattle? If Parsis could eat cattle, why would we have a Gospand no Namaskar in our Khordeh Avesta, to pray when we lay our eyes on cattle first thing in the morning?
I would be failing in my duty if I did not point out the great and silent work being done by a few Parsi volunteers who, despite being busy professionals in their own field, take time out and gather the best of food and fodder for the four Varasyajis stationed in Mumbai (Nowrozji at Banaji Atash Behram; Khurshedji at Dadiseth Atash Behram; the late Shah Behram at Cama Baug and the about to be consecrated new Varasyaji Varzavand, also at Cama Baug), go and feed them daily and clean their stables and wash and take every little care of these holy creations. These unsung heroes are really doing great Zoroastrian work and will surely receive the choicest blessings of the Varasyaji and their Maker. May the Ruvan of late Shah Behram progress fast in Nature and reach its ultimate destination.
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram