NUMBERS & ZOROASTRIAN RELIGION
Why and how is the number ‘One’ important in the Zoroastrian religion? (10-5-15)
1. Numbers have deep meaning and significances. Many a times they have a story to tell and unique messages to convey.
2. In the Zoroastrian religion, number one stands for the one supreme uncreated God – Ahura Mazda who is without an equal or opponent. In the photos of our prophet Zarathushtra, the index finger of his right hand points upwards, signifying this profound truth.
3. Number one also stands for the one unique path – the path of Asha (Truth) which is the only proper path for all Mazdayasni Zarthoshtis.
4. One Yatha ahu vairyo is to be recited while seeking protection and defense from negative forces.
5. One Ashem vohu is to be recited at the end of prayers and after asking for boons or expressing a wish or desire. It puts a stamp or a seal to thoughts, and brings them to fruition.
Why and how is the number ‘Two’ important in the Zoroastrian religion? (17-5-15)
1. The concept of duality is an important part of Zoroastrian philosophy, hence number two is an important number in Zoroastrian religion. Number two in Zoroastrian religion primarily stands for the 2 spirits – Spenta Mainyu the creative spirit and Angra Mainyu the destructive spirit, which regulate the cycle of creation, nurturance and destruction.
2. Zoroastrian religion was the first to postulate the idea of ethical dualism, that is, the existence of the good and evil forces in the world. Man in his life has to make a choice between the two forces – good and evil, and then bear the consequences.
2. Number two also stands for the two worlds – material and spiritual. Men have to always be aware of the existence of both these worlds. The words Ahu and Ratu, generally signifying Ahura Mazda and prophet Zarathushtra respectively, signify the ideals of these two worlds.
3. Number two also reminds man of his own two-fold constitution – material (constituting the physical body) and spiritual (soul, Fravashi etc.)
4. Certain prayers, especially in the Gathas and Haptan Yasht, have to be repeated twice times for emphasis. Such passages are very powerful and eff
5. Two Yatha ahu vairyos are to be recited while conferring blessings. It is significant that we recite two Yatha ahu vairyos before the Tandarosti prayer, and priests recite two Yatha ahu vairyos before the ‘Marriage Benedictions’ (Lagan nā Āshirwād), both of which are prayers for blessings.
6. Two Ashem vohus are never recited together in Zoroastrian prayers.
Why and how are the numbers ‘Three’ and ‘Nine’ important in the Zoroastrian religion? (21-6-15)
1. Number three is philosophically and mystically a very important number in Zoroastrian religion as it is the sum of numbers one and two. Whereas number one symbolizes the absolute uncreated God and the spiritual world, number two indicates the material world, which is full of duality. Number three is the combination of one and two and symbolizes the two worlds that we human beings have to straddle between.
2. Number three also tells us the story of our soul, which comes from the spiritual world, lives in the material world and prepares to go back to the spiritual world. Thus, the most important thing in life sum up to number three.
3. The Yatha ahu vairyo, Ashem vohu and Yenghe hatam prayers have three poetic lines each. The Yatha ahu vairyo has 21 words and the ashem vohu has 12 words, both numbers adding up to number three. The Yenghe hatam has 15 words, which adds up to 6, and two times three is six.
4. There are 30 days (roj) of the month and 12 months (mah) of the year, again both adding up to number three, thus in a way each day reminding us of the story of our soul.
5. Zoroastrian religion has 33 Fareshtas (divine beings) connected with the Zoroastrian calendar which include Berez, Hom and Daham Yazads along with the Ameshāspands and Yazads connected with the 30 roj.
6. The three basis of an ethical life are humata, hukhta and hvarshta “good thoughts, good words and good deeds” and the three things to avoid are dushmata, duzukhta and duzvarshta “bad thoughts, bad words and bad deeds.” These are also the name of the three stages of heaven and three stages of hell.
7. Surprisingly, three Yatha ahu vairyos are never recited at any point in our prayers.
8. Three Ashem vohus are to be recited before giving any commitment, promise or making a declaration. In our prayers, 3 Ashem vohus are always recited before the Fravarāne paragraph, which is a declaration of our Mazdayasni Zoroastrian faith.
9. The three or nine bells (three times three) struck in fire temples are generally rung on the three words dushmata, duzukhta and duzvarshta indicating that the sacred fire fights and drives away all negativities and instructs us to do so too.
10. As nine is three times three, it is also an important number. A human being comprises of nine constituents of which three are physical, three semi-spiritual and three spiritual.
11. Nine is a significant number even in our rituals – the ‘darun with name’ has nine marks on it, a special metallic plate in the Yasna ritual (G. surākhdā tashto) has nine holes in it, the Yasna has 72 (7+2=9) chapters, the Kasti has 72 strands and the Sadra has 9 seams.
How is the number ‘Four’ important in the Zoroastrian religion? (6-9-15)
1. The Avestan word for four is chathru. Four sides are recognized in the Avesta: ushastara (east), daoshatara (west), rapithwintara (south) and apākhtara (north)
2. Four daruns are offered in most Baj-dharna ritual. This is to express gratitude for the earth, corn, air and water to the divine beings.
3. Zoroastrians were divided into four professional groups right since the times of Peshdadian king Jamshed. They are Athornan (priests), Ratheshtar (administrators and soldiers), Vastryosh (farmers) and Hutaos (artisan and craftsmen). These four professions are attested to in all our texts.
4. Four days in the Zoroastrian religious calendar month are dedicated to Ahura Mazda. They are Hormazd, Dae-pa-Adar, Dae-pa-Meher and Dae-pa-Din. They effectively divide the calendar into four parts of 7 or 8 days, each dedicated to a particular group of divine beings.
5. Chahrum, that is, dawn of the fourth day after death, is the most important time for the soul of a deceased, as its judgement takes place on that day and its starts its journey to the other world severing all connections with this world.
6. For consecrating the second grade fire of an Adaran, fire is collected from four different sources – from the house of a priest, warrior, farmer and artisan.
7. A four eyed dog (chathru chasma) is preferred for the Sagdid ritual. The term indicates a dog having two spots above its eyes thus giving an indication of having four eyes.
8. Four Yatha ahu vairyos are connected to seasons and are used for invoking the Gahambars. Four Ahem vohus are recited when we end certain ‘bāj’. This is to indicate the successful completion of a particular task.
How is the number ‘Five’ important in the Zoroastrian religion? (13-9-15)
1. The word for number five in Avesta is pancha. This number has great significance in Zoroastrian religion, especially and most importantly because it is the number connected with Sarosh Yazad.
2. Sarosh Yazad presides over obedience and hence he looks after the 5 senses and their perceptions, on account of which, man either becomes virtuous or sinner.
3. Number five is also connected with the 5 gehs which are the five divisions of the day in Zoroastrianism. They are Havan, Rapithwin, Uziran, Aiwisruthrem and Ushahin.
4. Five are also the division into which the society is divided. In an ascending order, the are: Nmāna “house”, visa “village”, zantu “town”, dakhyu “country” and zarthushtrotem “world authority”
5. Five is also the number of the Gathas – the divine songs of Zarathushtra. They are – Ahunavad, Ushtavad, Spentomad, Vohu-khshathra and Vahishtoisht.
6. The ten days of the Mktad are divided into two periods of five days each. The first five days from roj ashtad to aneran are referred to as panj-i-keh “the lesser five days” and the later 5 days, which are named after the 5 gathas are referred to as paj-i-meh.
7. Five is also the number of ‘tāe’, that is, thin metallic wires in the ritual implement of barsom when it is used to perform most baj-dharna rituals. Even in the ancient times a barsom with 5 twigs was used.
8. The five main virtues according to the Yasna are good thoughts, good words good deeds, obedience and righteousness. The five main vices are bad thoughts, bad words, bad deeds, disobedience and wickedness.
9. Five are also the geographical divisions which the priests distributed themselves in the 12th century for professional reasons. They are: Sanjānā (from the river Dantorā to the river Pār), Bhagariā (from the river Pār to the river Tāpi), Godāvrā (from the river Tāpi to the river Narmadā), Bharuchā (from the river Narmadā to the river Māhi) and Khambātā (from the river Māhi to the river Sābarmati).
10. As to Yatha ahu vairyos and ashem vohus there is a tradition of saying 5 Yatha ahu vairyos in our prayers and rituals whenever Sarosh Yazad is to be invoked. We never recite 5 Ashem vohus.
How and why is the number ‘Seven’ important in the Zoroastrian religion? (28-8 and 4-9-16)
1. Seven is a very important number from the point of view of the Zoroastrian religion. There are 7 Ameshāspands, the highest divine beings in Zoroastrian religion, who look after the 7 creations. Creator Ahura Mazda, who is the father of the other six Ameshāspands, is also considered an Ameshāspand. Their names are: Dadar Hormazd, Bahman Ameshāspand, Ardibahesht Ameshāspand, Shahrevar Ameshāspand, Aspandad Ameshāspand, Khordad Ameshāspand and Amardad Ameshāspand. Collectively they are referred to as the “haft Ameshāspand”, that is, seven Ameshāspands, and the Haptan Yasht is dedicated to them.
2. 7 Yatha ahu vairyos are recited to individually invoke the Ameshāspands and Yazads.
3. There are 7 creations who are looked after by the 7 Ameshāspands. These creations, in order of the Ameshāspands are: Mankind, animals, fire, metals, earth, water and plants.
4. There are seven main virtues, each associated with one of the 7 Ameshāspands. These virtues, in order of the Ameshāspands are: Wisdom, Peace, Truth, Courage, Love, Perseverance (for Perfection) and Awareness (of immortality). All other virtues are derived from these basic virtues.
5. There are 7 stages for the souls of the departed in the spiritual world. Three stages are of Hell, which referred to as Dushmata, Duzukhta, Duzvarshta, three stages are of Heaven, which are referred to as Humata, Hukhta, Hvarshta. The middle stage is called Hamestakān (Purgatory) where souls whose good deeds and bad deeds are equal are taken.
6. According to the Pahlavi book Denkard, there were 7 Nurses present at the time of prophet Zarathushtra’s birth. Ilm-e-Khshnoom interprets that these seven nurses are an allegorical representation of the presence of seven main heavenly bodies – the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn in favourable positions at the time of prophet Zarathushtra’s birth.
7. Our texts prayers mention “hafta keshvar zamin”, that is, seven regions of the earth – they are further mentioned as Arezah, savah, Fradadafsh, Vidadafsh, Vouru Baresht, Vouru Zaresht and Khvaniras.
8. There is an Iranian tradition of settng the Haft-shin table just before the Jamshedi Navroz. On this table 7 (haft) articles starting from the letter shin (or even sin) are set on the table. The seven items may include any of the following: Shir “milk”, sharab “wine”, shakar “sugar”, shamā “candle”, somagh “sumac” shikeh “coin”, sib “apple”, sabzi “vegetables”, sonbol “hyacinth”, shisheh “glass”, sarkeh “vinegar” etc.
9. When a Parsi couple marries, 7 rounds of sutar (cotton) thread from a cotton ball (sutar no daro) are taken around the chairs of the couple, as they sit opposite each other, with the cloth of arantar between them.