Gatha Ahunavad – Yasna 31.1
Tā vē urvātā marentō agushtā vachāo senghāmahi;
aeibyo yoi urvātāish drujo, ashahyā gaethāo vimerenchaite;
atchit aeibyo vahishtā, yoi zarazdāo anghen mazdāi.
“Mindful (marento) of these Your teachings (urvātā), do we proclaim the words (which are) unpleasant (agushtā) to hear for those who, through teachings (urvātāish) of the evil, destroy the worlds of Truth; but (the words are) best for those who are devoted (zarazdāo) unto Mazda.”
FARVARDIN YASHT (dedicated to the Fravashis)
Fravashi (Av), Fravahar (Phlv), Farohar (Guj.): Fravashi is an Avestan word. It does not occur in the Gathas. The Fravashis are the essence of Ahura Mazda in every creation, including humans. They were created before the material and spiritual creations. Every creation, including Yazads, and even Ahura Mazda has a Fravashi. Each human being has a personal Fravashi, which acts like the Guardian spirit for the soul during life and even after death.
The Fravashi is one of the nine components of a human being. Unlike the soul, it is incorruptible, as it just guides the soul. When the soul does not heed its guidance, the voice of the Fravashi is subdued and hidden.
There are Fravashis of the living, the departed and those who are not yet born. The Fravashis of living are more powerful than the Fravashis of the departed ones because the latter can only help through their thoughts, while the former can influence the thoughts, words as well as deeds of the humans.
The Yasht: The Farvardin Yasht is the 13th Yasht. It is rich in information about Fravashis, and is the main source of information about them. It has 31 Kardeh (chapters). Almost one-third of them (Para 96-132) constitute names of about 250 departed people who are remembered along with the names of their fathers. These are names of historical personages. We have information about only thirty of them. The words nām āghairyāt (K. 13) is the origin of the system of nām gharan, that is, individually taking names of departed ones in prayers.
The first 3 Kardas are about how the Fravashis help Ahura Mazda in creating and upholding creations. They help waters flow in underground currents, plants to grow from seeds, clouds to go where they are needed, sun, moon and planets to go in their orbits. They also uphold the sky and the earth.
From 4th to 22nd Karda the different works and acts of the Fravashis are enumerated.
The 23rd Kardeh is about the Ameshaspands and the 24th Kardeh is about their co-worker Yazads, Gayomard and prophet Zarathushtra and his first disciples.
Kardas 25th to 30th remember the Fravashis of the departed ones and call them to aid.
In the 31st (last ) Karda the Fravashis of all regions are remembered.
They help in the times of need. They act as messengers of Ahura Mazda, Srōsh Yazad (inspiration of Ahura Mazda) and Manthra Spenta. They help children sustain and survive in the mother’s womb. They help people lost on the road, people on dangerous paths and when they are afraid. They fight evil in men and gives strength to fight against enemies.
Fravashis are protectors and helpers of men and kings in war. They come to help in the form of winged bird with human face, whenever they are summoned by righteous kings and warriors whenever they are in difficulty. They uphold and repair nature. They protect the sea Vourukasha, the soul of hero Kersasp and future saviours. They also look after animals.
Gifts of Fravashis: Those who invoke Fravashis with prayers, rituals and offerings, are bestowed with gifts. They prefer being invoked with offerings in rituals. They give gift of Khoreh to those who perform rituals. When invoked, they set off from the spiritual world with other Yazads like Meher, Rashne, Behram and Govad. They give boons of health, happiness, progeny, protection, longevity, prosperity, power and leadership to those who ask for it.
The symbolic depiction of Fravashi is a constant reminder of man’s divine origin and purpose and his ongoing connection with the divine world. It also reminds him of his relationship with other creations.
Farvardin Yasht – Karda I (1 to 8)
Beginning: the Farvardin Yasht starts with the invocation of Ardafravash, which means righteous Fravahsis. The word ARDAFRAVASH collectively refers to all Fravashis.
- Ahura Mazda said to Spitama Zarathushtra: O righteous Spitama! This (aeva) I proclaim (framrava) to you about the strong, powerful, energetic, helpful and joy giving Fravashis of the righteous ones who are vigorous and forceful, how they came to help me and how they brought me assistance.
- O Zarathushtra! On account of their intelligence and energy I uphold this sky/space which is high (uscha), shining and good looking, which goes around this earth, which is just like a palace, erected by the spirits, sturdy (handrakhto), having far reaching corners, made of shining metal, reaching one-third (above the earth).
Note: Here one third means the uppermost layer of the earth.
- (The sky) which Ahura Mazda, Meher Yazad, Rashne Yazad and Aspandad Ameshaspand together (hachimna) covered with spiritually made clothing (vaste) and studded with stars. It is (so vast that) its two ends cannot be seen by the eyes of any man.
Note: The vaste covering of the sky is often considered to be a reference to the Sadra and it is symbolic of a Sadra covering the world.
- Ardvi is brave, pure, widely-flowing, health giving, opposed to evil, following the teachings of Ahura, worthy of Yasna and adoration in the material world. (It is) life increasing and holy, flock increasing and holy, world prospering and holy, dwelling increasing and holy, town increasing and holy, country prospering and holy.
- She purifies the seeds of all males, she purifies the wombs of all females for birth, she gives easy child-birth to all females, she brings lawful and timely milk to all females.
- (Ardvisur is) great, famed afar. She is as great as all these waters, which flow on the earth. She the courageous one flows from mount Hukairya to the Sea Vourukasha.
Note: Hukairya was one of the highest mountains in the Alburz range. Homa Frashmi worshipped Meher Yazad on it. It is the source of river Ardvisur.
Vourukasha: The word Vouru-kash means “having wide shores.” It is situated on the southern part of Alburz. The river Ardvisur empties into it. It is also known as Frakhvakart. It is identified as the biggest sea in the Avesta. This is possible considering the Geography of those times, as it is the biggest inland water body in that region. It is identified with the modern Black Sea or Caspian Sea. However, Caspian Sea is also identified with the Chaechist.
A lot of mystic allusions are associated with the sea Vourukasha. The White Hōm also called the Gaokaran tree grows in its deepest part. A fabulous fish called Kara lives there whose task is to repel the frog created by Ahriman to destroy the White Hōm. Another tree called “the tree of many seeds” also grows in this sea. Besides, a fabulous animal called “the three footed ass” stands in its middle. This ocean is protected by the fravashis (59).
It is also the place of some ancient and religious happenings. The battle between Teshtar Tir, the Yazad of rain, and Apaosha, the demon of drought, took place in it. It was also the hiding place of khvarena (divine energy) when it fled king Jamshed. The evil king Afrasiyab struggled to obtain it in vain.
There is another mystical allegory in the microcosm connecting Hukairya, Aredvi and Vourukasha. Hukairya is the Head (first chakhra), Aredvi is the higher energy which descends there, which ultimately goes to the sea Vourukasha which is at the base of the seventh chakhra, where dormant energy is to be aroused.
- All shores in the Sea Vourukasha are stirred, the entire middle-portion is stirred, when Ardvi, the brave, pure, runs to it, when she flows to it. (The sea) has a thousand lakes, a thousand rivulets and any one of these lakes and any one of these rivulets is (as long as) forty days riding by a man riding on a good horse.
Note: Forty days riding is idiomatic of a very long distance. It is also from here that the idea of forty days prayers originated.
- This, my (Ahura Mazda’s) one rivulet of water flows to all regions which are seven. This, my one (rivulet) of water brings water equally in summer and winter. She purifies my waters, she (purifies) the seeds of the males and she (purifies) wombs of the females, she (purifies) milk of the females.
Note: This highlights the help of Aredvi in reproductory functions and her work along with the Fravashis. Para 4 to 8 also occur in Avan Nyash and Avan Yasht.
THE KAYANIAN DYNASTY
King Kae Khushru: He was the third king of this dynasty, the son of Siyavakhsh and Ferangez and grandson of Kae Kaus and Afrasiyab. Some time after his death, Siyavakhs appeared in Piran’s dream and told him that very soon his son, who will be the future King Kae Khushru, will be born. That night, Ferangez gave birth to a baby boy. Piran remembered the dream and realised that the child was to be the future king of Iran so he did not inform Afrasiyab.
Piran kept the infant with peasants and asked them to take care of the child. When the child was seven, he was bold enough to hunt deer. By the age of ten he started hunting boars and foxes. However, when he started hunting lions and leopards, the peasants started worrying, and informed Piran about his reckless bravery.
Child Kae Khushru and Afrasiyab: Piran brought Kae Khushru back to his palace. When Afrasiyab came to know that Piran had a grown up child, he asked him to bring the child to his palace. Piran informed the king that the child was the son of Siyavakhsh, and he was mentally retarded. He agreed to bring the child, but only after extracting a promise from the king that he would not harm him.
Piran then told the child that for his own safety he would have to act mentally challenged before the king, and trained him accordingly. The child played his part to the hilt before the king. He gave incongruous answers and the king was convinced that his grandchild was mentally challenged and would not pose any threat to him, as per the prediction. He ordered that the child and his mother be sent back to Siyavakhsh-gard. Relieved, Piran sent back Ferangez and Kae Khushru.
Avenging Siyavakhsh’s death: In Iran, Rustam pledged not to rest till he avenged Siyavakhsh’s death and marched towards Turan. Afrasiyab prepared for the war. In the battle that ensued, Afrasiyab’s son Surkheh and brother Pilsam were killed. The next day Rustam just missed capturing Afrasiyab.
Afrasiyab fled to China after ordering Piran to kill Kae Khushru, as there was a prophecy that his grandson would kill him. Piran managed to convince the king to leave him in the forests. Afrasiyab agreed to the idea, and so Piran sent Kae Khushru to the other side of the sea of China.
Rustam occupies Turan: After Afrasiyab fled to China, Rustam occupied Turan’s throne. He was there for six years. Then he realised that his old king would need him, and soon left Turan. Immediately Afrasiyab came back to Turan and prepared to attack Iran.
Gudarz dreams of Kae Khushru : One night Sarosh Yazad came in the dream of Gudarz and told him that Kae Khushru was in Turan and his son Giv has to go and fetch him. Soon Giv was asked to leave for Turan in disguise. He searched for 7 years before he located Kae Khushru. The young man recognized him. Both of them set off for Siyavakhsh-gard and met Ferangez. Soon the three left Turan. Before leaving, they searched for and found the trusted black horse Behzad, whom Siyavakhsh had specially kept for his son.
Kae Khushru comes to Iran: After fending off Turanian soldiers who had come in their pursuit, the trio reached, the boundary between Turan and Iran. When the greedy boatman did not help, Kae Khushru rode on the waters and Ferangez and Giv followed suit and safely reached Iran.
King Kae Kaus welcomed them and preparations were undertaken to announce Kae Khushru as the next king of Iran. Gudarz wanted Kae Khushru, but Toos preferred Fariburz, the elder son of Kae Kaus as the king. The king suggested that he would give his throne to the one who was successful in winning the fort of ‘Bahman Dez’ near Azarbaizan.