The Wondrous Circle of Life 10: Zoroastrian rituals explained

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Roj Rashne Mah Fravardin, 1383 Yz.

NOTE: This is a long, difficult but very important post. Readers are advised to go through carefully and repeatedly to understand its import. 

‘You see, Dinshaw, to properly recognize the rationale of Zoroastrian rituals, we have to understand why we are here, on earth.’

‘Arre, why are we here? Khaavo , piyo, mazaa karo! What else, we are Parsis after all!’ replied my friend. ‘Hmm, that’s one way of looking at it Dinshaw,’ I interjected, but above that superficial aim, surely there has to be a deeper objective. Who are we, where do we come from, why are we here, what role do we have to play here, where will we go… these are the questions which a thinking Parsi should ask, once in a while.’

Our Master, Ustad Saheb explained that the entire cosmos is working towards one goal – Frashogard – salvation. Frashogard is of two types – personal and universal. Personal salvation refers to the journey of an individual Ruvan, as it progresses through the various Jiram ranges, gradually cleansing itself of its original sin. As it does so, it gathers its fragments from the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms, then moving on to the higher planes and finding its male/female counterpart and finally uniting with it through the ceremony of Khaetwodath. Thereafter, the soul progresses through further till it is finally given a choice – to take the final step and attain salvation, merging with The One, or to postpone the final step for some time and help nature in making other souls attain their perfection. Depending on its decision, the soul either achieves Frashogard and merges with The One, or continues working for others. This is called personal salvation (Juzvavi Frashogard).

Universal salvation (Kulyati Frashogard) refers to that day, very far off in the future, when each and every Ruvan will achieve the stage of perfection, just before merging with The One. Once each and every soul has attained its personal salvation, there will be no reason for the existence of the world as we know it. Hence the physical universe (Nisti) will also attain its salvation and merge into Hasti – the Immortal Universe. Thereafter, Hasti itself will merge into The One and the original Unified State of Existence will come about.

Ustad Saheb explained that for the process of attaining Frashogard, the entire universe is run by a Divine Government, headed by Ahura Mazda, assisted by His Amesha Spentas and the Yazatas and many more Spiritual Beings, located at various places in the vast regions of Hasti (the Immortal Universe), Nisti (the Mundane or Mortal Universe) and Geti (our own Earth).

Hasti Nisti Geti

Image credit: Thus Spake the Magavs by Silloo Mehta

Each of these spiritual entities work as per a Divine Plan, called the Ahunavar – the Will of Ahu. They work in complete unity, yet separately. For some functions they may unite and work, whilst for others they may attain individual roles. On certain days, a particular entity may be more active, or appropriate higher responsibility, on other days it may be someone else. This magnificent symphony of united, divine working is what runs the cosmos and takes us all one step closer to Frashogard every day.

Thus the Divine Government is constantly working for the Frashogard of the entire cosmos. But at the same time, every individual Ruvan also needs its own personal attention, its own personal boosts of spiritual progress, its own private lessons and blessings. Our earth, or Geti, has a huge number of Ruvans who are at different points of progress in their quest for personal salvation. Thus the Divine Government has to pay special attention to the needs and progress of these individual Ruvans. How can the spiritual entities, who are constantly engrossed in their universal role, spare the time to pay personal attention for each Ruvan’s individual progress? Could they somehow delegate some part of their Spiritual Responsibility to another, and put them in charge of a Ruvan’s personal progress? Could they somehow, miniaturize their own working and make a small scale, but fully functional model and entrust it to another who would then work this model for the spiritual progress of an individual Ruvan? How could this be made possible? Ahura Mazda and His Divine Machinery have devised a special plan to address this issue.

atoms   machinery

How does this special Plan of Ahura Mazda work? The Prime Mover of this phase of the Plan of Ahu is Prophet Zarathushtra. Even before taking birth on our physical earth, the Fravashi of Prophet Zarathushtra was already engaged in the execution of this plan. Firstly, Zarathushtra created a Divine Power station at a specific point in the Nisti Cosmos, above the earth. This power station, called the Gaas of Zarathushtra or Gatumcha Ahurai in the Gathas, has the ability to draw all the beneficent blessings descending from the Hasti Cosmos and the upper ranges of the Nisti Cosmos into it.

In the next phase, after descending on the earth and taking a supra-physical form, Prophet Zarathushtra isolated certain places on our Geti in such a manner that they could be in constant contact with the higher regions of Nisti and Hasti, through a connection with the Gaas. Since the nature of our earth is material, and everything on earth starts decaying the minute it is born, special areas had to be segregated where this process of decay could not enter. In short, a spiritual boundary had to be drawn such that certain parts of the physical earth were cut off from the earth’s gravity and its debilitating effects and instead put into contact with the Permanence and Salvation-filled regions of Hasti. Now these Hasti-connected regions of the earth were infused with the divine blessings of Ahura Mazda as well as the Fasal, or spiritual output of the work of the Amesha Spentas and the Yazatas as they performed their divine functions, through the Gaas of Zarathushtra.

In the third phase of the Plan, Prophet Zarathushtra delivered the Message of His Plan and the secrets of its working to the people of earth. After establishing the Mazdayasni Zoroastrian faith, He revealed the true working of the Divine Plan to His Chosen Associates. Prophet Zarathushtra along with His closest disciples, now began to create an infrastructure on this earth which could, at will, connect to those parts of the earth which were in constant contact with the Gaas and Hasti. This infrastructure was like a giant receiving station, which could, at will, connect to the elevated regions of the earth (Airyana Vaeja) and through it, the Gaas of Zarathushtra and thereon to Hasti. Because of the very delicate nature of this link from the physical word to the Immortal Universe, strict rules were devised regarding who could operate the infrastructure and the nature and class of people who could enter.

Thereafter, in the fourth phase, Prophet Zarathushtra and His disciples created a series of kinetics or dynamic actions, which replicated or were small scale working versions of the different functions of the Divine Government. For example, Sarosh Yazad has a specific function on a certain Dakhyu (region) of Nisti. This function would be most useful to all Ruvans who are currently at that part of the cosmos. At the same time, this function would also be useful for all souls on earth, who ultimately have to reach that part of Nisti one day.

Using His Exceptional Powers and His Unique Stature, Prophet Zarathushtra, who was in constant communion with the Divine Government, understood in detail this particular function of Sarosh Yazad and then, made a small scale but fully functional and efficient working model of the same. This model, which could be operated even by specially trained humans, could replicate, at a very small scale and level, the same effect which Sarosh Yazad would create while working at that region in Nisti, on this earth itself! In the same manner, Prophet Zarathushtra, as part of His Divine Mission on this earth, created several such small scale yet working models which could replicate the working of any of the Yazatas and Amesha Spentas at many different parts of the universe.

To summarize, Prophet Zarathushtra first created the Gaas in an area much above the earth. He then created a segregated area of the earth itself (Airyana Vaeja) which was in constant contact with the Gaas. Thirdly , Prophet Zarathushtra setup an infrastructure to connect the physical parts of our earth, at will, to the segregated part of the earth which is in direct and constant communion with Hasti. This infrastructure can be compared to the electricity connection in our homes. Just as the mere act of flicking a switch causes the electric current, which is manufactured hundreds of miles away, to come gushing into our home, in much the same manner, the infrastructure created by Prophet Zarathushtra could, by the mere invocation or recitation of a particular phrase or Manthra, get connected to the Divine Cosmos of Hasti and be able to drawn the Divine Blessings (Asere Roshni) and beneficent currents from there.

collage power plant

Image credit: Thus Spake the Magavs by Silloo Mehta

Fourthly, just as we flick a switch to draw the current into our house and then decide which appliance to run, in the same manner, once the Divine Connection between the physical infrastructure and the Hasti regions was established, the chosen disciples of Zarathushtra could, at their will, begin running any of the small scale models which replicate the work of the different Amesha Spentas and Yazatas as explained above.

Finally, just as we learn to operate the different appliances, and become proficient in their use, the chosen disciples of Prophet Zarathushtra created a company of carefully selected persons, who were trained and drilled in the art of operating the different working models of the Divine Machinery as created by Prophet Zarathushtra. These trained personnel were then deputed at the various branches where the special infrastructure was set up, so that they could operate these models for the use of personal Ruvans.

Readers of Frashogard, the special infrastructure created by Prophet Zarathushtra to connect us with the Divine Regions of Hasti and to draw the beneficent currents from there is called the Pav Mahel. The physical location of the Pav Mahel is our Agiaries and Atash Behrams.

Gaas and Atash Behram

Image credit: Thus Spake the Magavs by Silloo Mehta

Readers of Frashogard, the small scale working models, created by Prophet Zarathushtra, which replicate the working of the different Yazatas and Amesha Spentas at different points of the cosmos are known as Yasna. In today’s physical terms they are the many different ceremonies of our religion, such as Baj, Afringan, Farokshi Stum, Yazashne, Vandidad and many more.

Jashan ceremony

Readers of Frashogard, the special cadre of persons who were selected and chosen to be trained by the disciple of Prophet Zarathushtra to run these small scale models were called the Athravans. In today’s physical terms, they are our priestly class – the Mobeds and Ervad Sahebs, who perform the many ceremonies in our Agiaries and Atash Behrams.

old priests

Readers of Frashogard, this is the real, intricate beautiful, mind-blowing explanation for Zoroastrian ritual, called Ilm-e-Khshnoom, which was first disclosed by our Master, Ustad Saheb Behramshah N. Shroff.

Thus every time a ceremony, howsoever small, is performed in the Agiary or Atash Behram, the priest is assuming the role of a particular Yazad or Amesha Spenta and performing a small scale version of the function of that divine entity.

Every time the name of a deceased (or living) person is taken in any ceremony, the beneficent effects of the Asere Roshni drawn from Hasti, descending to Nisti, to the Gaas of Zarathushtra, form there on to the Pav Mahel in Airyana Vaeja, to the Pav Mahel in that Agiary or Atash Behram is drawn into the fruits and food present in the ceremony which become infused with these Divine currents.

By the time I had finished explaining this, my friend’s tea had long gone cold, the Stum sweets were as they were. On his face was a small beacon of light, his mouth was slightly open and his brain was in a daze. For a long time, he did not speak. His mind calculated, re-circulated and cogitated on all that I had said. Then there was a slight misting in his eyes, and from his heart arose a great burden of guilt as he understood what I had said. He shook his head, got up and hugged me. ‘I have been under a terribly wrong impression for many years, Marzban. You have removed the cobwebs from my mind. How can I ever thank you enough,’ he asked. ‘Thanks are not due to me, Dinshaw, they are due to our beloved Master, Ustad Saheb. Where would we have all been had we not got this knowledge? Offer thanks to him, and maybe a small prayer of Patet.’

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram

[to be continued…]



  1. Hutoxi  September 5, 2013

    Ervad Marazbanji,
    I do not know what to say after reading this, just WOW, completely and utterly mind-blowing.
    I am just so thankful and indebted to you and your beloved Master, Ustad Sahebji for teaching/sharing such knowledge with mere beings like me. I salute you for this incredible post and making it so effortless to understand with real life concrete examples. Can’t wait for the next continuation…
    Thank you again for the painstaking article, thank you very much.

  2. Vispi  September 7, 2013

    Ervad Saheb,
    You have explained a very complex subject in a very simple manner; such that even a layman can easily understand. I wish our younger generation reads this article. I suggest, please get it published in Jame Jamshed.
    Thanks and may Ahura Mazda Bless you