Amesha Spenta - the Bountiful Immortals are the product of the Supreme God Ahura Mazda. He created the material and spiritual world and created Amesha Spenta to guide and protect His creations. They are the shining ones and of one accord with the sun. Their abode is in Garonamana in common with Ahura Mazda. [Garonamana is a place beyond the luminaries of haven - Abode of Songs - associated with shining endless light.] In the Gathas, Amesha Spentas are depicted as the spirits of light. They may be construed as divine attributes in these devotional hymns. One attribute follows the other in proper sequence revealing the truth how the organizing of affairs in God's Universe is based on eternal principles.
There are total of seven Ameshaspands [including Ahura Mazda who is self-created], who are assigned respective creations to take care on the physical plane. However, to expedite the triumph of light over darkness these divine spirits are incessantly at work on the physical, moral and spiritual planes. The first one created was the Intellectual Principle - Vohumana (Bahman) or good mind, which embraces within it's fold all such qualities as kindness, mercy, lore etc. Then follows Asha (Ardebehest) or rectitude with which are associated purity of body, mind, and soul, justice, truth, obedience etc. Vohu Khshathra (Sheherevar) symbolizes good control to which may be ascribed controlling one's desires and sense organs from running wild in the objects of sense as well as good authority which ushers in prosperity and the Kingdom of God. Armaiti (Spendarmad) signifies perfect mindedness to which may be attributed balanced states of mind as humility, faith, devotion, piety etc. The last two Haurvatat (Khordad) and Ameretat (Amardad) stand for the rewards of the holy. The former signifies perfection and the later immortality.
The following is a list of the seven Ameshaspands with their Hamkars (co - workers). Refer to my Farzyat Prayer Schedule.
1. HORMAZD, Dae-pa-adar, Daepa-meher, Daepa-din
2. BAHMAN, Mohor, Gosh, Ram
3. ARDEBEHEST, Adar, Sarosh, Behram
4. SHEHEREVAR, Khurshed, Meher, Asman, Aneran
5. ASPENDAMARD, Ava, Din, Ashishvang, Marespand
6. KHORDAD, Tir, Fravadin, Govad
7. AMARDAD, Rashne, Astad, Zamyat.
In this list of divine entities, there are seven Ameshaspands and rest of them are titled as either Yazads (worthy of Adoration) or Menoj (invisible). Each of these spiritual entities has its own Fravashis (Guardian Spirits). Each of these 30 Fravashis is designated as a guardian of a particular day in each month. Thus 30 Fravashis are listed as names of 30 days in our Zoroastrian Calendar. However, according to our scriptures, there are 33 Fravashis - 30 Roz and three additional Fravashis - Burz (Berezo), Hoama, Dahm. Ceremonies dedicated to these three are performed on the day Sheherevar following that of Aneran. In some Stoatic composition (prayers), we refer to those 33 Fravashis as Yazads. Although the terms Yazad and Ameshaspand are interchangeable they both designate differences. Like for instance, the first seven Yazatas stand higher in the rank of the Yazatas and are also called the Ameshaspands. The term Fravashi is applicable to both categories since every creation of Ahura Mazda has its own Fravashi.
The above given list of Ameshaspands and co-workers may be divided into two classes, according to their position in the Spiritual World and the Physical World. They are as follows:
It is because of such division and, as each of these Yazads are assigned for a particular function in the nature, we invoke a particular Fravashi (of Yazad/ Ameshaspand) for a particular day or occasion to celebrate by prayers or offering rituals, in particular, Afringan, and Jashan. The Priest who performs these rituals should know which Fravashi has to be invoked for a particular occasion instead of just repeating the same chapters of Ardafravash (a chapter dedicated to the most pious and highly elevated souls), Dahm Yazad and Sarosh Yazad for every occasion. Unfortunately, we have very few knowledgeable priests in North America, who understands the intrinsic value of our prayers. Each Athravan (priest) is required to know his duties and responsibilities. He has no excuse of ignorance to deviate from the prescribed religious tenets and practices. There are books available to educate him in his profession. There are sources to find books, and people that can guide him. If he doesnt know the authenticity of a particular ritual, ceremony or tradition, he can always refer to the writings of our orthodox Parsees like Ervad Phiroze Masani for example.
Nowadays, Jashan has become a way of social gathering and eating Parsee delicacies. No one is bothered to know the intrinsic value of Tarikats. Each Zarathustri should be made aware of the Tarikats (religious injunctions) that has to be followed while being a part of the audience during Jashan. In Jashan, every Zarthosti has to do Farzyat prayers with Atash Nyaish and Nam Setayasni. The Mathras that is created through a group of people helps the priests to create an atmosphere suitable for invoking Fravashis and Spiritual beings.
A Priest must be thorough and knowledgeable in his duties and responsibilities. It reminds me of NAHN ritual. Unfortunately, none of our high priests objects the way a NAHN ritual is being conducted in Bombay and elsewhere. You must have been through NAHN at least twice in your lifetime (during Navjote and Wedding). Try to recollect that occasion and ask yourself if you were asked to recite PATET PASHEMANI during that ritual? And after you took bath did you recite the last paragraph of Sarosh Baaj ending with Ahmai Rashcha, Hazangarem, Jasa me avanghe mazda, and Kerfeh Mazda before you were asked to put on Kusti? My dear Zarathusti, that is what I am talking about - ignorance of our traditions and religious practices.
There are many references of the Yazads and Ameshaspands in our scriptures in regard to their role and existence in spiritual and material life. Some of these references are as follows:- Ahura Mazda, the Omniscient Lord, has allotted to these Fravashis the work of helping the creation (Fravadin Yast, Yast XIII, I 19). They help in sustaining the sky (Yasna XXIII, 1) in letting the great river Ardvisura flow (Yast XIII, 4) in supporting the earth (Yast XIII, 9, 22, 28; Yasna XXIII, I). They help mothers in maintaining the children in the womb and in the work of delivery (Yast XIII, 11, 22, 28, Yasna XXIII, 1, 5). It is these spiritual essences, these guiding and guardian spirits that help the waters to flow (Yast XIII, 14, 12, 22, 28; Yasna XXIII, 1), the trees to grow, the winds to blow (Yast XIII, 14, 22, 28), the sun, the moon and the stars to be in their orbits (Yast XIII, 1, 12). The purport of all this is, that there is a divine hand of God in everything in this world. Thus, Ahura Mazda maintains control over all His creations through Ameshaspands.
From the 21 Nasks of our Prophet Zarathustra, the Baghan Yast (14th Word - Mazdai) is represented by the Yasts or glorifying prayers in honors of the good spirits and comprises more than the half of the Khordeh Avesta. The Nask contained the worship of Ahura Mazda, of the Ameshaspands and Yazads presiding over visible and invisible creations - from whom the names of the 30 days are derived - their glory, power and marvelous triumph; the worthiness and the dispensation by them of favors rom the worshippers, and the duty of many recitations by Zoroastrians in their honor.
There is a common misunderstanding among the Zarathustris to use terms like Farohar and as a way of expression toward some form of spiritual being or soul. One should know that both these terms mean different and has been referred in our scriptures for two different creations of Ahura Mazda. Let me explain to you the distinction between Farohar and Fravashi in relation to our prayers and rituals. There are some rituals that are grouped together solely with the object of doing good to the living by means of appeals made to angels, archangels and the Fravashis of various objects in the creation. (Here, Yazads and Ameshaspands are angels and archangels and Fravashis of various objects refers to the Guardian Spirits of each and every creation of Ahura Mazda.) There are some rituals like Yazashne, Afringan, Jashan, Faresta when performed by a pious, knowledgeable priest, it invokes a particular Fravashi of angel or archangel (out of 33 Fravashis) for their special blessing, rendering prosperity and happiness all around the earth. In Faresta Ceremony, even though we remember the living or departed souls of our family (Zinde-Ravaan or Anoshe- Ravaan), the ceremony is primarily performed in honor of 33 Fravashis or many occasions like marriage, birthday, Navjote, the occupation of a newly-built house, the fulfillment of a long cherished object. This ceremony is intended either as thanksgiving for desires fulfilled or for invoking blessings of the Almighty and His Higher Intelligence (Seven Ameshaspands and their co-workers) upon particular events of a man's life or undertakings. In this process of invocation, the fravashis act as mediums or channels for conveying the effect of ritual-force to the unseen world and for bringing the response of the force from the angels and archangels down to this earth.
Earlier we saw some references from the Fravadin Yast which clearly indicates that every creation of Ahura Mazda example air, earth, water, sky, moon, animals, human-beings etc. have their own Fravashi assigned to them by Ahura Mazda. Just like every other creation, even before the birth of man, his Fravashi exists in the spiritual world. It is said that Ahura Mazda asked Fravashis of men, which of the two worlds they prefer to live in the spiritual world unaffected by evil influences or to go to the material world and fight evil and win immortality and the Fravashis chose the latter. Those who chose the latter were sent to this world blessed by Ahura Mazda to smite the enemies in the battlefield (means, to fight with evil in various forms). There are ceremonial invocations of the Fravashis of various objects, forces, and spiritual beings styled as Ashaunam Fravashinam in the universe to whom almost the whole of the Fravadin Yast has been dedicated- in the ceremonials meant solely for the benefit of the living, for example, Faresta, Jashan and Yazashne. In Afrin of Hamkar or Haft Ameshaspand, it is mentioned, how these seven Ameshaspands combat with the demons and evil-spirits. Our religious scriptures also refers to the Fravashis of the illustrious departed worthies, who made their names famous in various spheres of activity, are invoked for help in the particular sphere of activity. For example, the Fravashis of Thraetoana is invoked for help against disease, because he was a famous physician of ancient Iran.
Another types of rituals are for the dear departed souls-Farohars. There are some ceremonies performed with the sole motive of doing good to the departed souls. For example: Yazashne, Vendidad, Afringan, Stum, Frarokshi, Baj etc. In this group of rituals, there is the underlying and primary motive of giving help and sending a helping and peace -creating force of ceremonials to the souls in the unseen world, and the good resulting therefrom to the living relations is merely a secondary issue in response to the main function. This response coming automatically and naturally without any desire on the part of the living relations to do good to themselves by means of these rituals. The Fravashis of the holy-departed keep a constant watch over the material world and extend their invisible help to those in danger, whenever they are devoutly invoked. Thus, the primary motive underlying both the different groups of ceremonials are quite distinct - the one for rendering help to the dear departed souls, the other yearning for happiness and prosperity for the living persons.
A LESSON TO LEARN:
The Yazads and Ameshaspands are the protectors of everyday functions of our life. We are incomplete without their existence. We are not here to question their role or authority by our imagination or linguistic capability to interpret our scriptures. Instead we should be thankful to Ahura Mazda for giving us AVESTA MANTHRAS to invoke such divine entities for their blessing.
HE has already planned and programmed our life much before we were born. Know the purpose of your existence, your life as a Zarathustri, and what path you need to follow for the spiritual development of your Urvaan. Your Urvaans mission is not just to let you go on with your material desires and aspirations !! A Mission of our Urvaan (Soul) is to fight against evil through prescribed MANTHRAS and TARIKATS to help our soul attain salvation.
Your birth as Zarathustri is itself a blessing. HE has already designed your destiny. You cannot change it by following some spiritual healer, holy person (BAVA) or other religion. Treasure is within your reach, dont let it go wasted. My dear Zarathustri, explore the hidden secrets in Mathravani and Tarikars of our golden religion. Do not get swayed by the miraculous stories or powers of some spiritual healers and follow non-Zoroastrian practices or beliefs for material gains. If you really want to experience miracles, pick up that book (Khordeh Avesta) and explore the secrets of reciting MATHRAS following Farzyat Prayers without making any exception or compromise in your decision to practice everyday, and see the world in your favor. Yes, you can make a difference. It requires faith and dedication. You got to believe in yourself and religion you are born in. After all, your being a Zarathustri and not a Christian or Muslim has something to do with His Divine Plan. Think about it.
MAZDAYASNO AHMI, MAZDAYASNO ZARATHUSTRISH
Ervad (Dr.) Hoshang J. Bhadha
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