Roj Khorshed Mah Amardad, 1381 Yz.
In order to understand the longest night of the Ruvan, we need to revise the Zoroastrian concept of goodness and sin. We have explained earlier that every thought, word and deed that a person originates, leaves an imprint at three different places: the first imprint in is the Aipi or personal aura of the individual; the second imprint is left on the ground where the thought, word or deed originated; the third imprint gathers far above the earth, in the lower expanses of the Pairi Dakhyu. If it was a good thought, word or deed, the imprint gathers in the southern side of the Pairi Dakhyu. If the thought, word or deed was of a sinful nature, the imprint gathers in the northern side of the Pairi Dakhyu.
Over the years that the individual passes on the earth, the imprints of his thoughts, words and deeds gather these forms on all these three places – the Aipi, the earth, and either the northern or southern side of the Pairi Dakhyu. The imprints left on the Aipi are regularly cleansed by the performance of the Kusti ritual. The imprints on the earth are borne by mother earth to a certain extent and then a reaction is given off by the earth in what we call ‘natural calamities’, which are not at all natural, but the earth lightening her load of the accumulated sins over the years. But the imprints in the Pairi Dakhyu – both good and bad – what happens to them?
As soon as the physical death of the person occurs, the Divine Administration swings into action. The forms of the imprints of the individual’s thoughts, words and deeds become activated and alert. They now become aware that soon the Ruvan of the person will be passing through their area, as it flies towards Chinvat. They therefore get ready for their role in nature. They have to catch the Ruvan as it flies past them towards Chinvat, attach themselves on to its Keherp vessel and accompany it on the flight to Chinvat. Once the Ruvan descends safely on to the lower planes of the Gangdez region of Chinvat, it is the duty of the accumulated imprints of the individual’s thoughts, words and deeds to present before the Ruvan a summary report of the manner in which the physical body has spent the last 70-80 years of its life on earth.
The description of this event is given in graphic detail in the Arda Viraf Nameh. We shall confine ourselves to the description of the event for a person whose bad thoughts, words and deeds overweigh their good. As the Keherp vessel lands on the lower planes of the Gangdez region, the Ruvan gets off and begins to wonder where it has arrived. The Fravashi and Baodangh accompany it, they know what is destined to happen, but they do not say anything. Now the Divine Administration puts up a most fearful show.
As the Ruvan roams around the area, it picks up a slight but distinctly noxious smell. A most disagreeable odour begins to permeate the area, and the wind seems to be coming from the north. In its mind, the Ruvan thinks: ‘this most disagreeable stench seems to be coming from the north, the area of the evil ones. Never in my life have I experienced such a bad odour.’ Soon it sees a form approaching it from the north. As it comes near the Ruvan realises that it is the most frightening visage it has ever seen. It is a very old hag, whose skin is full of eruptions from which flow most vile liquids; its hair is totally dis-shelved and of a haggard nature; her face is one which strikes the most loathsome fear and disgust in anyone unfortunate enough to see her. It is her disagreeable body odour which was causing the horrible stench. As she comes closer she lets out most frightening screeches and she seems intent on running down the poor Ruvan.
Shrinking away in terror, the Ruvan cries out: ‘who are you, what business you have here? Never in my entire existence have I seen someone so ugly, noxious, a total creation of the wicked Ahriman! Get away from me, you vixen, harridan!’
The old shrew laughs out loudly, spewing her venomous saliva all around. She replies: ‘Hag? Vixen? Harridan? Ha, ha, ha! You fool, I am the culmination of the thoughts, words and deeds which were originated by your physical master on the earth, when you were fast asleep!’ As the Ruvan moves back in terror, the wrench approaches him, recounting each and every sin the person committed on the earth. ‘Lies, adultery, homosexuality, sins relating to menstruation, harming righteous persons, eating food without taking Baj, moving about without the Sudreh-Kusti, moving about barefooted, bare-headed, cheating others using false weights or measures, instigating others, bad mouthing righteous ones, hoarding money, not giving charity, not disposing off cut hair and nails properly, not taking care of the house fire, causing cruelty to animals for your own vicarious pleasure… (here the hag recounts each of the many sins committed by the individual in his lifetime) these are all the sins your physical form committed on earth!
‘Each of these sins, by itself is hideous. But your physical master, by committing each of these sins, made their hideous nature even more shocking and dreadful. Even though these sins have been existing since eons, your physical master, by committing more of them, have enlarged their forms even more. As each of these sins were committed, my body has become more and more ugly, my visage has got uglier and more obnoxious. Each of these sins, my dear Ruvan, had their own ugly and shocking form for thousands of years. Yet each of these sins knew, in the deepest recesses of their wicked hearts, that one day, in some distant future, we will all be destroyed and our wicked nature will ultimately convert to good. But due to the thoughts, words and deeds of your physical master, the evils grew manifold, and now, each of these sins has got more worried, that their destruction will be even worse and longer, since your master has increased their intensity. Because of their individual worries, even I am worried sick, when will my destruction come? When will my redemption happen?’
The hag goes on: ‘before you came here, I was living in the northern extremities of the universe. But due to the thoughts, words and deeds of your master, I have had to now move to the northern most extremity of the north, right next to the residence of the accursed Ahriman. In order to survive in that most nefarious place, I have to daily worship Ahriman, thereby getting even more ugly and wicked day by day. See what you have done to me! How can I go away from you? I have been waiting for this day when I can meet you, talk to you and now cling on to you, so that my destruction and redemption can take place! Behold – this is your Kerdar!’
Saying these words, the hag form slowly steps forward and hugs the Ruvan and in a second, dissolves itself in such a manner, that it totally creeps into every pore of the Ruvan’s etheric body. The accumulated forms of the evil thoughts, words and deeds of the individual are now incorporated into the Ruvan’s Aipi. It is as though an unbearable weight has been placed on the head of a loader, and he is now forced to move around with the load on his lead. He can neither put it down, nor can he shift the load, nor will anyone help him. He is doomed to carry it for a long, long time.
Readers of Frashogard, this is the most frightening event in the life of the Ruvan, and its most painful day. The cries of terror and its wails of pain are so horrible that the entire cosmos shakes in their wake. The lamentation of the soul is of a nature we cannot imagine. Just writing about this is making my hair stand up. We cannot even begin to imagine the pain and terror of the Ruvan, as it realises how we have spent our life on earth. But nature is not so heartless. Remember, God is just, God is merciful. Soon a wondrous event happens.
We had seen earlier that as soon as the physical death of the person occurs, the Divine Administration swings into action. On the one hand, the Divine Administration alerted and activated the imprints of the individual in the lower planes of the Pairi Dakhyu. But on the other hand, as the first four days ceremonies of the individual are performed, the Ruvans of all the deceased relatives of that individual who has passed away are also alerted by the Divine Administration. Seven generations of our relatives: parents, grandparents, great grandparents and hundreds more who we had never seen in our physical life – the Ruvans of all these relatives, wherever they may be in the Chinvat region or beyond – get a Divine Message – ‘the Ruvan of the Zoroastrian Mr. X is getting ready to leave the earth and arrive on Chinvat, where it will soon meet its Kerdar.’
At the appointed time, as the Ruvan is having its most dreadful meeting with the hag, the Ruvans of all its deceased relatives gather around (unseen by the Ruvan, which is far more occupied by the terrifying events unfolding in front of it) the ground where the Ruvan has landed. Yes, even the Ruvans of those we had fought with on earth, or those who we had cheated, or those who had cheated us. Because the fights of the earth remain on earth. On Chinvat, there are no fights, there is only endless love, true brotherhood and co-operation! After the Kerdar has crept into the Aipi of the Ruvan, and the load seems unbearable to it, the Ruvans of the relatives of the deceased manifest themselves and huddle around the weeping Ruvan. They console it, offer a shoulder to cry on (but not to lift the load, that is solely the Ruvan’s job) and give gentle lessons and pointers on how to spend the long time ahead. In this moment of grief and terror, the Divine Administration gives such succour and help to the Ruvan. Slowly but surely, it understands its function and resolves to lighten the load placed on it.
The relatives of the Ruvan explain that the lower plains of the Gangdez region have millions of cities. Each of these cities have great spiritual universities. Here gather the Ruvans of all those Zoroastrian souls who have passed away. Depending on their load and their conduct in life, a specific city and a distinct university is designated for the Ruvan, where it will learn the lessons of Spiritual Truth, and as it passes the different and difficult classes in each university, the load on its shoulders will lessen. As it lessens the load caused by a particular sin (for which a specific city and university is designated) it will move on to another city and another university. Through each such successive educational streams, the Ruvan will gather its strength and lessen it load.
In this manner, the Ruvan is consoled by the Ruvans of its deceased relatives and together, they accompany the Ruvan to its designated city and university. Just as parents accompany the child on the first day at school and leave him there – sometimes the parents cry, and most times the children cry, much in the same manner, the relatives leave the Ruvan at its designated class and then depart from there – to their own individual universities where their own education and redemption is continuing. The Ruvan now attends its classes and begins the slow but steady journey and experience towards redemption.
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram