Shah Behram passes away

Posted by:

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



  1. Nazneen P.G. / H.K.  June 22, 2010

    We too pray for the Ruvan of late Varasyaji Shah Behram to progress fast in Nature and reach its ultimate destination.

    Amazed by the depth & knowledge in our religion, Please if possible Ervad saheb could you also right about what is the elaborate ceremonies of consecrating a Varasyaji to become the spiritual heir.

    Thanking you,
    Best regards
    Nazneen P.G. / H.K.

  2. sawas  June 22, 2010

    I dearly feel bad for the varasyaji..but tell me one thing in todays times which priest performs his duties faithfully without taking short cuts in prayers performed by them. Probably if you allow behdins as well to perform ceremonies a few good souls amongst them might pray better than to standardised priest. I am not specifically condoning parsee priests but priests from lmost all religions, if the door to hell has to ever be open…priests of all communities will get a free entry.


  3. aRMAITY DARUWALA  June 23, 2010

    I feel very sad when i just read of the sad demise of dear Varasyaji shah behram.. I had personally alongwith my grandson from n.z. visited him fed him n explained to my grandson the little facts that i know of i wanted to explain to him the taro that he had is the urine of this wonderful spiritual bull.

    I pray May Varyasyaji ShahBehram rest in Eternal Peace.

  4. anahita  June 23, 2010

    i read this article and was very sad about it, always wondering what exactly does it stand for. it is good toknow so much details which i always wanted to know.. secondly more interesting was that my husbands name is also shah behram… whenever we went to udavada we asked my husband where is shahbehram

  5. Cyrus S. Saiwalla  June 24, 2010

    Ervad Sahib Marazban,

    Your article on Varsyaji Sahib is excellent, spiritual and knowledgable to those who seek devine happiness. I want to bring to light that Varsyaji represents 1000 Aspandi of Abed Sahib and he is the embodiment of Abed Sahib.


  6. zinobia vazifdar  June 25, 2010

    your information about the varasyaji & its details were worth reading. Pl. do enlighten us in more subjects AS & WHEN REQUIRED.

  7. Kaizad Kumana  June 26, 2010

    Dasturji, It is with pleasure that I read your article on varasyaji. I have been waiting every day since May 22 for you to write something and am glad you finally did!! But would humbly request you to write a little more frequently so we can benefit from the wonders of your knowledge thereby continuing to benefit from the hidden treasures of our wondrous religion.

  8. Hoshedar  June 28, 2010

    I agree to Mr Kaizad Kumana and would like to join him in his humble request to you Dasturji to pen down something a bit more frequently.

  9. Delnavaz  June 28, 2010

    Hi, I too agree with Kaizad, we need more information on our religion. Would request you to be more regular in your posts. There is so much to learn.


  10. meher  June 29, 2010

    Dear Ervad Marzban,
    Just a couple of days back i went to meet the varasyaji in Udwada, at the farvandyan there. It is to be noted that he is a very sensitive and grateful animal who acknowledges people who come to see him. One can see the gratitude in his eyes and gestures. In fact, when we turned away to leave, he stopped eating and kept staring at us, as though he wanted us to be present till he finished. Please encourage more people to visit varasyaji and give him natural foods and fruits (carrots, apples, bhaji, dodhi, brinjal, natural roses without thorns).

  11. Mehernosh  July 11, 2010

    Dear Dasturji Saheb,

    Thank You for the in-depth explanation.


  12. kerman  August 24, 2010

    thank you for the elaborate information

  13. Neville  July 20, 2011

    This is so amazing! Please please please, we need more of such articles!

    Thank you Sir!

  14. rohinton  July 20, 2012

    Dear Marazban, would like to know how would a parsi dispose of a pet viz. dog ? does it also need to be buried ?

  15. rohinton  July 23, 2012

    Dear marazban yet awaiting for your reply for my above question ? how would one dispose a dog or any other per if dead? what would be the right method ?

  16. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  July 24, 2012


    Dogs and other pets cannot be buried. Their bodies should be left in an open secluded place for birds of prey and sunlight to work on them.

  17. Rohinton  May 16, 2015

    Dear Marazban,
    You above article and your knowledge you possess is as deep as a ocean. Wonderful article.Got to know so much. Have a question. Since you said in the start that the Body of Varasiyaji was taken to Dungerwadi and buried . Kindly Guide me is a Geh sarnu also done for a Varasiyaji? what was ustad sahebs views abt this and also if Geh sarnu is done what names would one pray in that for a Varasiyaji.
    As per my knowledge in Kadmi Geh sarnu mobeds recite name of deceased in baj is this true ?As i read in one of the old KADMI khordeh avesta books. dont know if names are recited in shenshahi Khordeh avesta. pls kindly enlighten me on this as above .

    When i asked this question to scholars some answered yes some no .,
    1. Is Geh Sarnu done for a varasiyaji ?

    2 . ARE deceased names prayed In geh Sarnu prayers ? viz behdin jaloo behind hoshang.

    3. what names would one pray for varasiyaji?

    4, how does one dispose off the hair on the varas ni vetti after the varasiyaji passes away?

    Thank you.

  18. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  May 16, 2015

    1. It should be done
    2. No. Deceased’s name is not taken in the Geh Sarna when done as per Shahenshahi tradition
    3. Not applicable
    4. It is placed in the ashes of the Dadgah Saheb on which the Pav Mahel kriyas are done and the heat does the rest.