Roj Sarosh Mah Bahman, 1379 Yz.
The Kusti ritual begins with the ceremony of ‘Padyab’, literally, ‘putting water over’, that is, purifying the exposed parts of the body will pure well water. How is this done in the right manner? Take a copper Karasya filled with well water in the left hand. Praying “Khshnaothra Ahurahe Mazdao, Ashem Vohu 1” first gaze into the Karasya, making sure the eyes make visual contact with the water in the Karasya. Then wash the right hand first, from the elbow joint to the tip of the fingers, followed by the left hand in the same way (while washing the left hand, the Karasya would be held in the right hand). Then, taking some of the water in the cup of the hand and passing it into the mouth, the oral cavity should be cleaned by gargling three times, taking care not to swallow any water. Thereafter, clean the whole face, taking care to wipe the nape of the neck and the back of the ears. Next, wash the exposed feet (right first, followed by left) from the ankle to the toes in a downward motion, taking care to clean both the top as well as the sole of the feet. Finally wash the hand used to wash the feet. [Note: The sequence given above is for a male. For females, the order is always left first, followed by right.]
While praying the formula given above, the following Mithra (thought capsule) should be passed: “May the six Frado (divine cleansing and purifying energies) present in this pure water aid in the spiritual cleansing of my Aipi and help me raise the intensity of my Khoreh.”
What is the significance of this ritual, which is mostly not followed properly? Water is the best cleansing agent known to man. But our Master, Ustad Saheb Behramshah Shroff, revealed that behind the physical cleansing properties of water, there lie great spiritual energies which are called Frado in Avesta. Ustad Saheb explained that there are six different types of Frado energies (the names of these energies are given in the Avan Nyaesh as Adu, Vanthwo, Gaetho, Khshaeto, Zantu and Danghu Frado). Each of these six Frado have a different role to play in various circumstances. It is these Frado which give water the ability to clean things, to dissolve things, to quench our thirst etc. When a devotee performs the Padyab, he begins by reciting “Khshnaothra Ahurahe Mazdao, Ashem Vohu 1.” While reciting this formula, he gazes into the water in the Karasya. As we are aware, nearly 70% of the human body is composed of water or aqueous fluids. The eye is almost completely water based. The aqueous liquid in the eyes throws out a specific Frado energy, called Vanthwo Frado, which has the ability to cleanse and purify. Accompanied by the vibrations produced by the recitation of the Avesta formula, the gaze of the eyes throws into the water, large amounts of Vanthwo Frado. This stimulates and activates the other Frado present in the water itself and supercharges the water with enormous amounts of spiritual cleansing energy, which will be used during the Padyab ceremony.
Parsis who have been lucky to attend and sit through a Nirangdin ceremony will now immediately realize why a very peculiar action is performed by the priests throughout this ceremony, over a hundred times. In the Nirangdin ceremony, two large copper vessels (Kaharna) are filled, one with well water and the other with the urine of the Varasyaji. Both these are covered with copper Kasyas and placed near the Hindola (stone altar) on which the apparatus of the ceremony is arranged. At specific times throughout the ceremony, one priest will first put his right hand above the blazing fire, to fumigate and cleanse it, and then lift the copper Kasya from the Kaharna. Then both priests gaze deep into the Kaharna, whilst reciting specific Avesta Manthras. As soon as they finish reciting the Manthras, the priest immediately covers the Kaharna with the Kasya. This action of the priests is very important and is one of the factors which go into making the normal urine of the Varasyaji into the consecrated Nirang, which is used for drinking during the Nahn before Navjotes and weddings. The priests are in a very heightened state of purity during this ceremony which lasts for 18 days. Their accumulated purity and spiritual power (called ‘Khub’) is poured from their eyes into the Taro, through the Frado energies, accompanied by the recitation of powerful Avesta Manthras. It is this combination of factors which makes Nirang stay unspoilt for so many years.
However, Ustad Saheb cautioned that the Frado energies can only exist and function properly in natural, free flowing water. He explained that when water is pumped over long distances, or piped from large diameter pipes to smaller diameter pipes (as happens in our city water distribution systems), a large amount of friction is produced by the water gushing into progressively narrow pipes. This friction and the attendant dragging force causes the loss and dissipation of the Frado energies. Such water is useless for any religious ceremony. This is the reason why all Agiaries and Atash Behrams have wells attached to them, and all water used for any ceremony MUST be drawn out from the well by hand.
Unfortunately today, because of the overwhelming population and the underground maze of leaking sewage pipes, many of the wells in our sacred institutions have become polluted. Wells are also spoilt by the discriminate throwing of flowers, sugar cubes and even eatables by our own Parsis in these wells due to mistaken beliefs. Some wells are also spoilt when the water is allowed to stagnate and not enough water is drawn out of the well. Moreover, due to the presence of high rise buildings around many Agiaries today (some in Agiary compounds themselves!) the light of the sun does not fall directly into the well for a reasonable length of time during the day. Sunlight also cleans the water of accumulated pollution. [This is also the reason why water is never drawn out of a well after sunset. Moreover, there is a long standing custom to always have a Divo placed in the niche of the well wall so that a thin ray of light always falls into the well at night.] For all these and more reasons, many wells in our religious complexes have become polluted. Trustees and priests attached to these institutions must take all steps to rectify this situation.
Well water for doing the Padyab at home is thus almost impossible today. In colonies such as Behram Baug, Parsis still have the ability to take well water from the Agiary well and keep the same in a copper vessel at home solely for the purpose of doing the Padyab Kusti. For others, there is no option but to use municipal tap water. However the proper Padyab can and should be performed during our visit to the Agiary every day. The act of performing the Padyab not only physically cleanses the exposed parts of the body, but the presence of the Frado energies cleans the accumulated spiritual pollution which gathers on the surface of our skin and ultimately takes the form of a greasy film like substance over it.
There is also another more practical reason for doing the complete Padyab ritual. Ustad Saheb explained that there is some element of Spiritual Power (Kuvvat) in every human being and in the Divine Ones. The Spiritual Potency or Power of Ahura Mazda is called Niru. The Spiritual Power of the Yazatas and the Amesha Spentas is called Aoj. The special spiritual power of the Yazata Sraosha, who looks after this earth and its inhabitants is called Tagi (as we recite in the Sarosh Baj: ‘Sarosh Asho, Tagi tan farman…’). Finally the spiritual power bequeathed to man is called Zor. In normal cases, the Zor power, which resides in the ultra-physical bodies of Keherp, Ushtan and Tevishi is muted and dormant. However, the act of performing the Padyab ritual awakens this dormant Zor. As it awakens, the Zor energy flows from the ultra-physical body to the physical body and the organs, making them perform efficiently and thereby enhancing their life and our life span in a legitimate Zoroastrian way.
As we have seen in earlier posts, the performance of the Kusti is our own personal communication with Ahura Mazda. Before we can begin our dialog with the Creator of the Universe, it is necessary to cleanse ourselves, both physically as well as spiritually. The Padyab is the essential requirement for doing that. Having done the Padyab, the washed parts of the body should be wiped clean with a small towel or handkerchief. Now, the performance of the Kusti ritual can be started.
Dear readers, as I keep saying again and again, all that we need and much more is present in our own religion. There is no need to look elsewhere. What is lacking is the knowledge and the faith to put that knowledge into action. On 7th July 2010, we shall mark the 83rd death anniversary of our Master, Ustad Saheb Behramshah Nowroji Shroff who passed away on that day in 1927. Where would we all be without his knowledge and revelation? Verily he put us on the right path to salvation and revealed to us the beauty and magnificence of our Zarathushtrian faith. Thousands of salaams to his holy Ruvan, tens of thousands more to his Masters – the hidden sages of Demavand and millions more salaams to our Prophet Asho Zarathushtra who gifted us this magnificent religion and the opportunity to be Parsis! Let us use this opportunity to earn our salvation and not fritter away this lifetime in trivial and materialistic pursuits!
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram