What do the words Padshah-Pahelvans mean in Parsi tradition? (TMY – Jame Jamshed of 29-10-17)

  1. The words Padshah-Pahelvans are often collectively used in Parsi Gujarati language, particularly in connection with Iranian history of the Peshdadian and Kayanian dynasty.
  2. The word Padshah means Emperor. In ancient Iran the Emperor was referred to as Padshah, for instance jamshed Padshah or Kae-khushru Padshah.
  3. The word Pahelvan means kings or knights, who worked under the Padshah, were rulers of smaller principalities, and who were assigned kingship by the Emperor. They often advised, counseled and assisted the king and formed a part of his cabinet. They were confidantes of the king.
  4. There were two main families of Pahelwans, one descending from Kersasp and the other descending from Kaveh. The main descendants of Kersasp’s family were Zal, Sam, Rustom and Sohrab Pahelvans, and the main descendants of Kaveh’s family were Gudarz, Giv, Gurgin and Bizan.
  5. Kersasp’s family and descendants were rulers of Zabulistan (Eastern Iran). Kaveh and his descendants were rulers of Khavar (Western Iran).
  6. The names of Padshah-Pahelvans are often remembered by priests in Nam-gharan whenever they perform rituals like Afringan, Farokshsi and Jashan.
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Is there an hierarchy of divine beings in the Avesta? (TMY – Jame Jamshed of 22-10-17)

  1. The Avesta mentions divine beings of different types and status. The highest among them is Ahura Mazda who alone has the title dadar “creator” prefixed before his name.
  2. After Him comes the Ameshaspands who individually look after each of the seven creations. Under the seven Ameshaspands work the Yazads.
  3. There are innumerable Yazads working in the universe, but only a few from these are mentioned by name. The names of the Roj and Mah are dedicated to some of these Yazads mentioned by name.
  4. Of the 30 days (roj) of the month, the first seven are named after the Ameshaspand and the rest 23 are dedicated mainly to the Yazads. Three to four Yazads are appropriated to one each of the seven Ameshaspands and work under them. These are called the Hamkars of the Ameshaspand.
  5. Among these 23 Yazads there are a few who are called ‘Mino’ who work predominantly for spiritual qualities and purposes. The rest work predominantly at the material level and for worldly tasks and purposes.
  6. Another type of Yazads are called Ratus. They predominantly work with nature and are connected with seasons.
  7.  Fravashis and Asho Ravans (realised souls who have already reached Garothman-the Highest Heaven) are also divine beings in their own right. They too work under and with the Ameshaspands and Yazads.

What is the ‘Biji havan’ geh? (TMY – Jame Jamshed of 15-10-17)

  1. During the first seven months of the Zoroastrian calendar year, that is from mah Farvardin to mah Meher, all the five Gehs are recited according to their appropriate timings. However, during the last five months of the year, that is from mah Avan to mah Asfandad and the five Gatha days, Rapithwin geh is not recited and instead of that Hāvan Geh is recited again. This Hāvan geh, recited instead of Rapithwin geh is called the ‘Biji Havan’ or “the second Havan” geh.
  2. This practice had commenced in Iran thousands of years ago when a religious calendar, which started around March, was followed along with the state calendar. In this religious calendar, the last five months of the year were winter months when the days were too short.
  3. On account of short days and late sunrise, it was difficult to perform rituals like the Ijashni, which are specific to Havan geh. Hence the Rapithwin geh was added on to the Havan geh to facilitate the performance of rituals.
  4. There was another reason too for not praying Rapithwin geh during this period. It was believed that Rapithwin Yazad, who is the Yazad of mid-day and hence also of warmth, had to go into the core of the earth to give her warmth during the winter months and hence should not be regularly invoked during these months.

Can hair and nail be cut at any time of the day or night? (TMY – Jame Jamshed of 8-10-17)

  1. According to Zoroastrian tradition naso should not to be created in the absence of the sun, as at that time the force of evil is very strong, and the light of the sun is not present to disinfect the physical ill effects of the naso.
  2. Cutting of hair and nail creates fresh naso and hence this should be done in the presence of the sun during daylight hours. Hence Zoroastrian tradition prohibits cutting of hair and nail after sunset.
  3. Even a dead body is consigned in the Dakhma only during the day, on account of the necessity of the presence of the sun since the dead body is a naso.

 

  1. Is there an hierarchy of divine beings in the Avesta? (TMY – JJ of 22-10-17)
  2. The Avesta mentions divine beings of different types and status. The highest among them is Ahura Mazda who alone has the title dadar “creator” prefixed before his name.
  3. After Him comes the Ameshaspands who individually look after each of the seven creations. Under the seven Ameshaspands work the Yazads.
  4. There are innumerable Yazads working in the universe, but only a few from these are mentioned by name. The names of the Roj and Mah are dedicated to some of these Yazads mentioned by name.
  5. Of the 30 days (roj) of the month, the first seven are named after the Ameshaspand and the rest 23 are dedicated mainly to the Yazads. Three to four Yazads are appropriated to one each of the seven Ameshaspands and work under them. These are called the Hamkars of the Ameshaspand.
  6. Among these 23 Yazads there are a few who are called ‘Mino’ who work predominantly for spiritual qualities and purposes. The rest work predominantly at the material level and for worldly tasks and purposes.
  7. Another type of Yazads are called Ratus. They predominantly work with nature and are connected with seasons.
  8. Fravashis and Asho Ravans (realised souls who have already reached Garothman-the Highest Heaven) are also divine beings in their own right. They too work under and with the Ameshaspands and Yazads.

Should there be any particular order in our daily prayers? (TMY – Jame Jamshed of 24-9 and 1-10-17)

  1. A certain particular order is very necessary while reciting daily Zoroastrian prayers. The selection of prayers differs according to the different gehs.
  2. Prayers always start with the Kasti ritual followed by the Saorsh Baj. Thereafter any of the five larger gehs are prayed according to the time of prayer.
  3. The prayers that follow the larger gehs are different in the different gehs:
  4. In the first three gehs it is mandatory to recite Khorshed Nyash, Meher Nyash, Doa Vispa Humata, Doa Nam Setayashne and Char dishno namaskar (homage to the 4 directions) in this particular order.
  5. In the fourth geh (Aiwisruthrem) the Sarosh Yasht Vadi and its Nirang is to be recited followed by the Doa Nam Setayashne.
  6. In the fifth geh (Ushahin) the Sarosh Yasht Hadokht and its Nirang is to be recited followed by the Doa Nam Setayashne.
  7. The above prayers are considered the Farajyat (obligatory prayers) for that particular Geh. After that any Naysh or Yasht can be recited in any order, after the end of which a Doa Nam Setayashne needs to be recited.
  8. If Patet Pashemani, Patet Ravan-ni or Satum no kardo has to be recited, it has to be done here. If one is doing ‘Sarosh Patet” for a deceased in the Aiwisruthrem geh, Patet Ravan-ni is to be prayed immediately after Sarosh Yasht Vadi, its Nirang and Doa Nam Setayashne.
  9. If one recites Patet Pashemani or Satum no Kardo, as the penultimate prayer, the Doa Nam Setayasne should be recited before that and not after that.
  10. The daily prayers end with the recitation of Tandarosti. Certain short prayer like the Din no Kalmo, 101 names and Cherag no namaskar (in Aiwisruthrem geh only) can be recited immediately after the Kasti or in end just before the Tandarosti.
  11. In case one wants to recite the Hoshbam prayer at dawn, one has to do the Kasti, Sarosh Baj and Ushahin geh if it is to be recited about an hour prior to sunrise. Kasti, Sarosh Baj and Havan geh has to be recited if the Hoshbam prayer has to be done within about an hour after sunrise.
  12. The time of dawn (Bāmdād/ Hoshbam ) is regarded as the best time for prayer as it is conducive to a meditative, contemplative and reflective state of mind. It the calmest part of the day, when there is very little external disturbance and the benevolent, positive forces of nature are strongest and the currents of spiritual energy are undisturbed.

Who was Ardeshir Bābekān? (TMY – Jame Jamshed of 17-9-17)

  1. Ardeshir Bābekān also known as Ardeshir Pāpekān, was the founder of the Sasanian dynasty, the last of the Zoroastrian empire, by defeating the Parthian emperor Artabanus/Ardavan V. His life history is recorded in the Pahlavi book Karnamak-i-Artakhshir-i-Pāpakān “Book of Deeds of Artakhshir-i-Pāpakān.” His father Sasan, was in the service of Pāpak/ Bābak, the king of Pars, whose daughter he later married.
  2. Ardeshir became an accomplished prince. When the Parthian Emperor Ardavan heard of him, he invited him to his court at Ray, assuring him royal treatment. During his stay at Ray, Ardeshir excelled in arts, sports and military skills.
  3. Emperor Ardavan felt insecure at prince Ardeshir’s bravery and self-confidence. Making him guilty of a crime he did not commit, he placed him under house arrest. Ardeshir managed to escape, raise an army, attack and defeat Ardavan.
  4. Ardeshir became the emperor in 226 AC. He was a staunch Zoroastrian. Dastur Tansar was his principle Advisor, with whose help he rejuvenated the Zoroastrian religion and started the process of gathering the scattered Avesta texts and translating them to Pahlavi. He also ordered several Ātash Bahrāms to be established at various places. During his reign, another pious priest Mobed Arda Viraf, journeyed to heaven and hell and returned back to relate his experiences. These are related in the book “Arda Wiraz Namag”.
  5.  Ardeshir was a benevolent and wise king, a valiant warrior, a skillful organizer, and an efficient administrator. He was involved in long drawn wars with the Romans, especially the Roman Emperor Alexander Severus. Later Ardeshir conquered Mesopotamia, Kurdistan and Kerman. He passed away in 241 AC leaving his empire to his son Shapur I.

Who was King Darius the Great? (TMY – Jame Jamshed of 3 & 10-9-17)

  1. The Achaemenian dynasty had three kings by the name Darius. The most well known among them is Darius I or Darius the Great, who ruled from 521 to 486 B.C. After the accidental death of king Cambyses, there was no direct descendant of Cyrus. Rebellions spread throughout the Empire. An imposter seized power. At such a time, Darius, son of Hystaspes, a member of the royal family, quelled the rebellions and became the emperor.
  2. Darius was a brave warrior, a benevolent monarch, and a wise and skilful administrator. He had capitals at Persepolis, Susa, Ecbatana and Babylon. He continuously fought against the Greeks. He won many battles but was badly defeated at Marathon in about 499 B.C. The modern Marathon race is named after this battle.
  3. His Empire was divided into 30 administrative districts called Satrapies, each of which had three independent heads – the Satrap (Administrator), the Military Commandant, and the Treasurer. The Emperor maintained secret services called “the King’s Eyes and Ears.” Special tribunals paid surprise visits to the provinces. They had powers to investigate and prescribe remedy or punishments for any irregularities found.
  4. He built roads and bridges and dug canals to connect his vast Empire. The famous Royal Road, about 2550 kilometres (1,500 miles) long, was built as the highway connecting Susa with Sardis, with rest houses on the way.
  5. Darius was the first to introduce postal system in the world. Along important roads, postal stages were fixed at an interval of about 24 kilometres (14 miles). The post was carried by mounted couriers. New couriers were ready with fresh horses at every stage. A dispatch from Susa  reached Sardis in five or six days, covering a distance of about 2500 kilometres (1,500 miles). Describing this postal system, Herodotus had said: “Nothing mortal travels as fast as these Persian messengers.”
  6. Darius commissioned the construction of a canal connecting the Red Sea with the Nile. Remains of the same along with inscriptions in four languages were discovered while excavating for the Suez Canal.
  7. Darius the Great passed away at the age of 65 years in 486 B.C. His last remains are at Naksh-i-Rustam close to his palace at Persepolis. He left a number of inscriptions which shed light on ancient Persian history. The main one is at Behistun/Bisutun in Hamadan, which is the largest surviving historical document by any ancient Zoroastrian king. In one of the inscriptions the emperor proudly proclaims “I am Darius, the great king, the king of kings….. a Parsi, the son of a Parsi, an Aryan, of Aryan lineage.”
  8. Darius introduced the use of a gold coin called Daric. It was a thick coin with a standard weight of 8.4 grams bearing the image of the king as a warrior with a bow and arrow in the hand. It continued to be used till the end of the Achaemenian dynasty in 330 BC. After that, most of these coins were melted and reconstructed as Greek coins.
  9. The other two kings by the name Darius in the Achaemenian dynasty were Darius II (424-405 BC) and Darius III (336-331 BC). The latter was the last king of the Achaemenian empire. He was defeated at Gaugamela in the famous battle of Arabela by Alexander the Macedonian in 331 B.C. A year later Darius was killed by Bessus, the Satrap of Bactria, on the battlefield. Thereafter Alexander proclaimed himself the Emperor of Persia. The Greeks, under General Seleucus Nicator, ruled over Persia for the next 80 years.