The concept of time is very well expounded in Zoroastrian religion. Time has to be understood from Endless Time (Zravāneh akaraneh) to created time (Zravāneh daregho khadhat). The latter is further divided into years, months, Gahambars, days and Gahs. Each period of time is presided by a divine being called RATU. They have co-workers too. The special ritual to extol the divine beings presiding over time is Visparad.
There are special prayers like Gahambars and Gahs, for specific time periods.
Originally in Mazdayasni Zoroastrian religion, the day was divided only in 3 parts (Yasna 44.5). These were:
- Usha (from 3.00 am to 12 noon)
- Arempithwa (from 12:00 non to sunset)
- Khshapa (from sunset to 3:00 a.m.)
Later on, since the later part of the life of Zarathushtra, a Zoroastrian day was divided into 5 parts,called Gehs. The word Gah or Geh means “time/ period of time.” While reciting every prayer, a short two line invocation to the specific Geh is to be recited in the Fravarāne paragraph. Moreover, in the Khordeh Avesta there are 5 special prayers for each of the 5 Gehs.
While doing the Farazyat prayers, after the Kasti, first the Sarosh Baj is recited and then the prayer dedicated to specific Geh is recited, before doing any other prayers.
Each Geh has its own Yazad which have their co-workers and attendant Yazads/divine beings, as follows:
|Geh||Yazads & their co-workers||Associate divine being|
|Havan||Havani and Savanghi||Meher Yazad|
|Rapithwan||Rapithwina and Fradat fshu||Ardbahesht Ameshaspand|
|Uziran||Uzirina and Fradat-vira||Berez Yazad|
|Aiwisruthrem||Aiwisruthrem and Fradat-vispa||Asho Farohars|
|Ushahina||Ushahina and Berezi||Sarosh Yazad|
The prayer of Gah can be divided into 5 parts.
a. Invocations – b. Introductory Extollation (Common ) c. Main matter (particular extollation) d. Concluding extollation (Common ) e. Final blessing
In each Gah the Introductory and concluding extollations are same.
- Invocations : This introductory part is the invocation or khshnuman. In this part the divine being presiding over the particular Gah and his co-workers are remembered.
- Introductory Extollation (Common): This second part is common to all Gahs . It starts from the words Ahurem mazdam and ends at ratufritim yazamaide. These two paragraphs are from Yasna 71.2-3. They are in answer to the question “What is the best prayer for the Ratus, that is, divine beings presiding over time. In these paragraphs the following are invoked: Ahura Mazda, prophet Zarathushtra, prophet Zarathushtra’s Fravashi, Amesha Spentas, all Fravashis of material and spiritual worlds, Ratus (divine beings associated with time) and Yazatas who help mankind in times of need.
- Main matter where the Yazata presiding over the Gah and their co-workers and related issues are remembered, as follows.
Havan – Khordad, Amardad, Ahurian question, Ahurian creed, Yasna Haptanghaiti
Rapithwin – 5 Gathas, Manthra Spenta, Amesha Spenta
Uzirin – 8 Priestly offices, Luminaries
Aiwisruthrem – Fire, Ritual implements, Zarathushtra, Zarathushtro-tema, Youths, Ladies
Ushahin – Dawn, Light, Heroes, 1st five Ameshaspands, Mazdayasni religion.
- Concluding invocation (common):. It starts with the words Thwam atarem and ends with taoscha yazamaide. These paragraphs are from Yasna 71.23-24. In these paragraphs are connected occurrences and divine beings right from the beginning till the end of Time. These divine beings help in the bringing of Frashokereti. They are:
Fire – Original Light
Zaothra – divine channel of energy
Barsom – conduit between two worlds
Apam Napat – Origin of matter
Nairya Sangh and /Dami upamana – Messengers of the divine beings
Iristanam urvano – all the souls who have departed
Ratum berezantem – Ahura Mazda is remembered as a Ratu
Vispa sravao….vareshyamnacha – all words and actions past and future which lead to Frashokereti are remembered.
Gahs and Spirituality:
S.J.Bulsara, R.R.Motafram and others have tried to show the inherent spiritual message in the concept of the 5 Gahs. Each of the part progressively indicates the development of the soul.
1. The stage of trials and tribulations for the soul (Havani – pounding). The soul has to sustain this stage without succumbing to temptations or being defeated by them. He has to think about benefiting (savanghi) the society (visya) despite his hardships.
This is the stage when man has not yet realized divinity.
At this stage man has for his guide Mithra, the divine being who presides over friendship, and contracts, and Ram Khvastra who gives joy out of the everyday struggle for existence.
2. The stage where a balance is set. The person is at the mid point (Rapithwina) well poised to realise the upward progress of his soul through the mind. Man starts realizing that he is a soul and his life is given to him as much for the soul as for other things. At this stage he learns to respect all creations and creatures and works for their progress (fradat fshu).
The divine beings presiding over this stage are Asha Vahishta and Atar. Man has started understating and realising the order inherent in the Universe. Man realizes that it is through following this order that he will be able to reach the Ultimate Truth. Man starts attaining and absorbing the divine energies.
Atar is the being who presides over spiritual fires and the divine energies borne by them.
3. The next stage is the spiritual awakening of the soul. The desire of us moi uzareshva expressed in the Gathas, is to reach this stage. At this stage man has been successful in establishing contact with his Higher Consciousness. He works for the spiritual progress of men (fradat–vira) as he is in complete harmony with fellow human beings.
The exalted soul now yearns to corroborate with Ahura Mazda and His divine currents (apam apascha mazdadhatayao).
4. The fourth stage of evolution for the soul is when it is fully developed and is able to communicate and listen to the voices form the other world (aiwi-sru). At this stage man takes on the responsibility of all good living organisms (fradat vispam hujyaitim).
He becomes a co-worker with the Fravashis who are the guardians of the world. His work is always marked by the courage of conviction (Ama) and crowned with success (verethraghna) of the most supreme kind (vanainiti uparatat).
5. Dawn of new life for the soul (Ushahin). Time of union of individual consciousness with Universal consciousness. It makes man exalted (berezya). The man who has achieved this stage, has for his guides the divine beings Sarosh (signifying obedience to divine laws. Sarosh is also the Messenger of Vohu Manah), Rashnu (signifying truth at an individual level) and Ashtad (signifying truth at a cosmic level).