Why should the Sadra be made of nine parts? (TMY – Jame Jamshed of 4, 11 & 18-3-2018)

  1. The Sadra, is an essential religious garment, along with the Kasti, which a Zoroastrian wears right after the Navjote. The word Sadra comes from the Avesta and Pahlavi word vastra which means “a spiritual garment”. The Persian word for Sadra is sud rāh which means “the beneficial path.”
  2. Technically, the Sadra is a ritual implement necessary to offer prayers and do the Kasti ritual. As a ritual implement, the Sadra needs to have certain specifications regarding the colour, size and number of seams (Sāndhās in gujarati). The Sadra is made up of nine seams out of which the two sleeves constitute two seams.
  3. Symbolically, the Sadra is a road map that leads a Zoroastrian towards his duties and obligations. The nine parts/seams are to remind him of different teachings. These are:
  4. i) Gireban: It is a small pocket like pouch with a perforation in the inner side situated at the font of the Sadra. It is also referred to as kisseh-kerfeh, which means “the pocket of good deeds”. It is symbolic of the goodness and meritorious deeds that a person has to do in life.
  5. ii) Girdo: It is the seam on the nape of the neck in the shape of a crescent moon. It looks like a yoke and reminds man of his responsibilities to God, prophet, nation, society, family and his own self. There is a wron idea that only men’s Sadras should have Girdo. All Sadras, either for men or women, should have a Girdo.

iii & iv) Two sleeves, one on each side: Sleeves are made of pieces of cloth stitched on the sides of the Sadra. The Sadras of ladies and gents, both have sleeves, but for purposes of convenience, the sleeves of a ladies sadra are smaller and thinner. The sleeves are symbolic of the Zoroastrian religious injunction of being industrious and hardworking.

v & vi) The two sides: The large piece of cloth at the front and the back, stitched at the sides, form the 5th and 6th parts of the Sadra. The two sides remind us of the two worlds – the spiritual world from where we have come and the material world where we are living presently.

vii & viii) Two slanting seams (tiris) on the either side at the bottom of the Sadra, on the right side in gents and on the left side in ladies. They teach us to live in harmony with and to care for and use but not misuse or abuse vegetables and animals. The opposite positions of these Tiris indicate that ladies and gents should complement each other in life, as each have different strengths and capabilities which are required by the other.

ix) One straight seam (Tiri): This seam is parallel to the left side bottom stitch, on the left side in the Sadra of gents and on the right side in ladies. It teaches us to care for the mineral kingdom.

How did Firdausi Toosi, the great poet of Shahnameh, get his name? (TMY – Jame Jamshed of 18 & 25-2-18)

1. The poet known to the world as Firdausi Toosi was born Abul Qasim Hasan Mansur in about 935 AC in the village Shadab in the ancient city of Toos in the province of Khorasan. His father was Fakhruddin Ahmed bin Farrokh. Though Firdausi was a Muslim by birth, he had in-depth knowledge of Farsi and Pahlavi languages, Iranian history and Avestan texts through their translations.

2. He composed the Shahnameh, “Book of Kings” comprising 60,000 Persian couplets containing the history of the Peshdad, Kayan and Sasan dynasties. Though the beginning of the Shahnameh was done much earlier, it was predominantly composed and finished in the court of Sultan Mahmud of Gazni, over a period of about 35 years.

3. When Sultan came to know about the young poet’s poetic prowess and historical knowledge, he invited him to Gazni. Firdausi presented before the Sultan his previously written compositions of Faridun and Zohak. On hearing the beautiful couplets, the Sultan exclaimed that he had transformed his court into Firdaus (the Arabic word for paradise). It is from this incident, that the great poet got his pen name Firdausi. Some scholars also believe that the poet’s grandfather was a keeper of Gardens (in Arabic even a garden is referred to as Firdaus) and hence his pen name Firdausi.

4. In those times, people were generally known from the place they hailed. Since Firdausi came from the city of Toos, he was known as Toosi. However, when the Sultan asked why his city was called Toos, Firdausi had an answer to that, owing to his deep knowledge of Iranian history. He said that the city was named after Toos, a great Iranian warrior, who unknowingly disobeyed King Kaekhushru, and then afraid to face the king, hid in a place for several months. This place later came to be known as Toos.

5. Firdausi’s later life story is heart rending. He passed away in 1020 AC, a  totally  heart-broken, shattered and bitter old man. In 1934, the late Reza Shah Pahlavi, had a splendid memorial erected near his tomb to mark the spot  where  the mortal  remains of the great poet were buried nearly a thousand years ago.

Is there a difference between the 3 words’ phrase– humata, hukhta, hvarshta and manashni, gavashni, kunashni? (TMY – Jame Jamshed of 4 & 11-2-18)

  1. Yes. There is a big difference. The first three words humata, hukhta, hvarshta are from the Avesta language and the next three words manashni, gavashni, kunashni are from the Pazand language.
  2. They don’t even mean the same. The first three words humata, hukhta, hvarshta mean “good thoughts, good words and good deeds”. The next three words manashni gavashni, kunashni just mean “thoughts, words and deeds.” They could be good or bad.
  3. The opposite of humata, hukhta, hvarshta “good thoughts, good words and good deeds” is dushmata, duzhukhta, duzhvarshta “bad thoughts, bad words and bad deeds.” These latter three words occur in the Pazand Ahura Mazda Khodai prayer which is recited while doing the Kasti. While reciting these words, fingers are clicked to ward off evil.
  4. The words manashni gavashni, kunashni also come in our Kasti in the Ahura Mazda Khodai prayer. The phrase az ān gunāh manashni gavashni kunashni…pa patet hom means “for all the sins of thoughts, words and actions…I am sorry.”
  5. The words humata, hukhta, hvarshta are considered part of the basic tenets of the Zoroastrian religion. However, they are not as simplistic as they sound. They have a much deeper meaning and understanding, as explained in Yasna 19. Humata is the first thought of Ahura Mazda, the thought for an evil free universe. All thoughts leading to this goal can be regarded as Humata. The word Hukhta is used to describe words of Mathra Spenta, that is Avesta-Pazand prayers. Hence all utterances of prayers can be referred to as good words. Hvarshta is to be understood as all actions leading towards bringing the creations to their original pristine purity.

What is the importance of Tir Yazad in Zoroastrian religion? (TMY-Jame Jamshed of 28-1-18)

1. Tir Yazad, known as Tishtrya in Avesta, and Teshtar in later Iranian languages, is one of the more important Zoroastrian Yazads. In the Parsi calendar, the 13th roj (day) and the 4th māh (month) are dedicated to him. Tirangan festival is celebrated on Tir Yazad on Tir roj of Tir mah in honour of Tir Yazad.

2. The Tirangan festival celebrates a historical event of the Peshdadian times. The Iranian king Minocheher and the Turanian king Afrasuyab were on the verge of a war, a truce was worked out under the condition, that an archer would shoot an arrow (Tir) from Mount Khshutha, and the spot where it landed would be the new boundary between the two countries. Archer Erekhsha was selected, who by his inner strength shot the arrow, which traversed from dawn to dusk, resulting in Iran getting a big territory.

3. Tir Yazad presides over rain. In the Tir Yasht, Tir Yazad in the form of a white horse battles Apaosha the demon of drought, in the form of a black horse. Finally Tir Yazad overcomes Apaosha with the help of the prayers of the people of the world.

4. Tir Yazad also looks after the eyes and hence he is connected with healthy eyesight. In the Khorshed and Meher Nyaishnas we pray tishtrim dravo chashmanem yazamaide that is “We venerate Tishtrya (Tir Yazad), who is the giver of healthy eyesight (chashman).”

5. Tir Yazad is identified with the planet Mercury, which, among other things, presides over communication, Hence Tir Yazad is the giver of good, fluent speech, and the power of effective communication, both essential tools for building self- confidence.