For Zoroastrians the twin litanies, 'Khorshed Niyaesh' and 'Meher Niyaesh' are obligatory (farajiyat) prayers. One is obliged to recite them in the three sunlight watches (Gahs) of the day namely, Havan (dawn to noon), Rapithwin (noon to mid-noon) and Uzerin (mid-noon to sunset).
These two prayers are dedicated to the Sun. The Sun is the most important body, in fact, the parent body of this solar system. The system works by the virtue and power of Sun, which is a gigantic fireball and has its own solar power and of course its powerful magnetic pull.
From the perspective of our solar system, the fire of the Sun is the most exalted form of fire. The Sun is looked upon as a manifestation of Khorshed Yazad.
Ahura Mazda is the Lord Supreme because He is the Sole Creator of all there is and also its Preserver and Protector. All His Holy Yazads are aids in His Creative and Preservative scheme of things.
As we go further we also realize that all that comes into existence including all human, animal and organic life survives only because of the heat energy and light energy with all its known and yet to be known virtues. As it is given in the Khorshed Niyaesh itself, without the power of the Sun all that exists in this physical world would perish under the onslaught of dark forces of evil (Ahriman) and then no celestial Yazad would be able to rescue this physical world.
Thus we see that the Sun in itself, is a Holy, Adorable and a Living Manifestation of Ahura Mazda, Who is also to be visualized in the mind's eye as an Embodiment of Total, Infinite, Uncorrupted, All-Pure, Divine Light.
In the Khorshed Niayesh and also in Meher Niyaesh we pray and call the light of the Sunlight at Rapithwin as the Most Beautiful Golden Garment for Ahura Mazda. Thus, we try to see our Great Good Lord, the Wise Benevolent and the Bestower of all goodness on us in the form of Divine Light. Sun also transmits that divine light on us.
We must remember that just as sunlight has physical properties, it has spiritual power - power of that Divine World, the world of the Amesha Spentas the Yazatas and of course, the Supreme Divine Sculptor of all that is Pure and Beautiful. This power elevates its worshipper, it puts him or her on a higher ground.
Fighting evil is the one and prime object of the Holy Zarthoshty Deen and all its good tarikats (ritual practices). We visualize evil as the dark force. In fact, we speak of evil emanating from abysmal darkness (Anaghra Temha). (By the way abysmal darkness also means hell or the hellish region where the wicked, unrighteous souls find themselves at the end of this mortal life). And that is also what Ahriman wants to spread in our world of life light, knowledge, and Joy. He wants us to plunge into darkness, for, in darkness, there is desolation, despair, and death. However, the Holy Yazads of Ahura Mazda would not let that happen.
Khorshed Yazad and Meher Yazad smite evil over. and over again and ensure that Mazda's creations profit from His Grace, demons of darkness notwithstanding. This is the Divine Scheme of things.
Now what is a good Zoroastrian's contribution to all this? The Yazads transmit their Grace and that of Ahura Mazda in an invisible fashion. But we can catch those Holy Vibes through our God sent Avestan prayers of which Khorshed Niyaesh and Meher Niyaesh are the most fundamental prayers to start one's day with.
How should we recite them? Of course, slowly with each word pronounced right and with as much concentration as we possibly can. Ideally, one should not interrupt the prayer in favour of talking to someone or answering the doorbell or the telephone ring. One should also avoid the practice of omitting verses that are either hard to recite or those we think are too time consuming. The last point, although it sounds funny, must be taken very seriously.
In chanting prayers quality is better than quantity. And chanting Khorshed Niyaesh and Meher Niyaesh when one is familiar with them, should not take more than twenty minutes.
One can recite these twin litanies at home, although it is always better to recite prayers in an Agyari or an Atash Behram, because the whole aura and not just ambience of the holy institution would be much different than that in a household situation where if one member is reciting prayers, another would be playing the radio, TV or the stereo.
So an Agyari or Atash Behram is an ideal place. But where in the Agyari or the Atash Behram should one recite them?
For this we will see what is the main purpose of reciting the prayer. It is to pay homage to an entity. In the Khorshed and Meher Niayeshes one desires to pay homage to Khorshed and Meher Yazad respectively. In what do we see them? In the brilliant glowing sun. So won't we want to say it while standing facing the Sun? That is the main point. That is why one is advised to go to a window or a place where one can actually stand facing the Sun.
Now to clear the doubt as to what is wrong if we recite it in front of the fire. A simple example would bear that out. Let's say, one wants to talk to somebody whose phone number is (hypothetically speaking) 1234567 and one choose to dial 1234568 stating that 8 is too close to 7 and so you feel that you are close to your target. This is fallacious. If you want to talk to one person "directly" you have to talk to him or her alone. Even phoning that person's immediate neighbour and leaving a message would not be the real thing.
Talking to anyone else or in between would take away from the pleasure and efficacy of the direct communion, no matter how close you might be to the target object. In the prayer itself you recite words to the effect, "I wish to come close to thee, Khorshed Yazad" (Yazamaide) and then you say this facing a totally different entity does not make much sense.
There is infinite and incalculable energy in the Sun. It is this energy which gives the Sun its magnetic pull which keeps the nine known planets in their respective orbits and maintains Order in the Universe. Even if we can make a little of this power our own, how much good would we be doing to ourselves.
Adil F. Rangoonwala
Deen Parast magazine.
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