Ardibehesht is the second month of the Zoroastrian calendar. It is a month that celebrates, truth, righteousness, divine order and healing. Ardibehesht is an Amshaspand (Archangel) or Amesha Spenta (Bounteous Immortal) who presides over the energy of fire. Adar Yazad is a Hamkara or helper of Ardibehesht. It is for this reason a number of fire temples were consecrated during this month, the most notable being the Anjuman Atash Behram which was consecrated on Roj Ardibehesht of Mah Ardibehesht in the year 1897 and the Atash Behram in Navsari which was consecrated on Roj Sarosh of Mah Ardibehesht in the year 1765.
In the Avesta, Ardibehesht is referred to as Asha Vahishta. Asha is variously translated as Truth, Righteousness and Divine Order. Vahishta mean the Best. In other words, Ardibehesht embodies Ahura Mazda’s Truth, Righteousness and the Divine Order, with which Ahura Mazda created and sustains this Universe.
In ancient times, whenever a Zoroastrian built or acquired a new home, he would arrange for a prayer room or a prayer corner to be prepared and before occupying the house, he would arrange for fire or Ardibehesht to be brought home, just the way a Hindu would bring home Ganesha or Ganpati. The entire family would pray before this fire day and night. Bringing Ardibehesht home symbolically meant bringing home truth, righteousness and divine order.
Even today, when we light a diva (oil lamp) at home we should visualize ushering the energies of truth and righteousness in our lives and divine order in our homes. Above all else, Ardibehesht is a healing and life-giving force. Hence, keeping a fire at home, even if just an oil lamp means keeping the energy of life and good health flowing at home.
Truth – A Fundamental Zoroastrian Precept
Ardibehesht is the embodiment of God’s Truth, and in the Zoroastrian religion, truth is considered as the highest virtue. In fact, Rasti (truth) and Radhi (charity) go hand in hand. Greek historians have recorded, as far back as the first century before Christ that the basic education of every Persian child entailed speaking the truth, riding a horse and learning archery.
It is only through truth and righteousness that Ahura Mazda’s friendship can be attained. In the Hoshbam prayer, which is usually recited at dawn, we chant, “Asha vahishta, asha sraeshta, daresāma thwā, pairi thwā jamyāma, hamem thwā hakhma,” which means, “Through the best righteousness, excellent righteousness, O Ahura Mazda, may we catch sight of Thee and may we come near Thee and attain Thy eternal friendship.”
Ardibehesht Yasht – A Healing Prayer
The Ardibehesht Yasht is one of the best prayers for healing all kinds of physical ailments. There is also an old healing tradition of Ardibehesht ni Picchi, where a priest or even a lay person, after a bath and performing the farazyat (obligatory) prayers, recites the Ardibehesht Yasht, running a clean white handkerchief or a clean muslin cloth from head to toe of the ailing person. It is a tried and tested Zoroastrian form of healing with a high degree of success.
In the Ardibehesht Yasht we pray, “Ādim framraomi Ashem Vahishtem; yezī framraomi Ashem Vahishtem, āat anyaēsham Ameshanām Spentanām hvāyaonem; yim pāiti Mazdāo humatāish, yim pāiti Mazdāo hūkhtāish, yim pāiti Mazdāo hvarshtāish. Garō-nmānem Ahurahe hvāyaonem. Garō-nmānem nereyō asti ashāvaoyō. Naēchish dravatām ayene paitish garō-nmanem, ravohu ashāyonem chithrem Ahurem Mazdām.”
Translated, it means, “I like him (i.e. Ardibehesht); when I like Ardibehesht, then (he) of (all) other Ameshāspands (becomes) a helper, whom (the Creator) Ahura Mazda nourishes with good thoughts, and good words, and good actions. The Garothmān (Paradise) is Ahura Mazda’s own abode. The Garothmān (Paradise) is for righteous persons.” The essence of this verse is that only a righteous person can be in the abode or presence of Ahura Mazda.
Five Types Of Healers
The Ardibehesht Yasht also refers to five types of healers: “Ashō-baēshazō, dātō-baeshazō, karetō-baēshazō, urvarōbaēshazō, mānthrō-baēshazō; baēshazanām baēshazyōtemō yat mānthrem-spentem-baēshazyō; yō narsh ashaonō hacha uruthwān baēshzyāt, aeshō zī asti baēshazanām baēshazyōtemō” or “One who heals by means of purification rites or through his own Ashoi or piety (Ashō-baēshazō), one who cures (social ills) by law and justice (dātō-baeshazō), one who heals with the knife like a surgeon (karetō-baēshazō), one who restores health by means of herbs and vegetation (urvarōbaēshazō), and one who heals by means of reciting the mānthra or prayers (mānthrō-baēshazō)”. The Yasht affirms that the “best among healers is the one who heals reciting the mānthra”.
(I) The Nirang Of Ardibehesht
The Nirang of Ardibehesht is a very powerful capsule prayer which should be recited three times after the recitation of Ardibehesht Yasht. “Dādāre jehādār tavānā O dānā, O parvartār O āfarīdegār, O kerfehgar, O avakhshīdār. Ahereman hīch, nādān, O natavānad ba hīch chīz nashahed. Ahura Mazda dādārī, ahereman marochīnīdārī. Dādār pāk, ahereman nāpāk; ahereman khāk shavad, ahereman dūr shavad, ahereman dafe shavad, ahereman shekasteh shavad, ahereman halāk shavad. Avval dīn Zarathushtī pāk; Ahura Mazda buland kavī, beh, awazūnī.” Which means, “The Creator, the keeper of the world, (is) omnipotent and omniscient, and the Nourisher of all, and the producer, and the Doer of meritorious deeds and overseer. Ahriman is nothing whatsoever (and is) ignorant, and cannot do anything. Hormazd (is) the Creator (and) Ahriman the destroyer. The Creator (is) Holy and Ahriman (is) wicked. May Ahriman perish, may Ahriman be far away, may Ahriman be vanished, may Ahriman be defeated and may Ahriman be overcome. The foremost Religion (is the) pure Zoroastrian (Religion); Hormazd (is) Exalted, Powerful, Good (and) the Increaser.”
(II) Airyaman Isho
The Ardibehesht Yasht also refers to the prayer of Airyaman Isho, which is actually Yasna 54. It is very efficacious and powerful should be prayed just before the chanting of Ardibehest Yasht. Airyaman Yazad is a co-worker of Ardibehesht Ameshaspand and therefore, it is considered very meritorious and beneficial to recite this manthra before the Ardibehesht Yasht. Yasna 54.1 is recited 4 times. It has the power to drive away diseases, physical, mental as well as spiritual. Part of it is composed in the Gathic dialect and it is affirmed that this specific Yasna 54 will be recited at the time of the future restoration of the world.
(III) Importance Of Prayers And Rituals
Prayers and rituals is what differentiate religion from mere philosophy. In a manner of speaking, prayers and rituals help provide the spiritual experience of the celebration of religion. The purpose of prayers and rituals is to generate a conscious awareness which, in turn, provides the devout an insight into and an understanding of the nature of Divinity. Prayers and rituals also provide a medium through which a person is able to relate and bridge himself to the unseen spiritual world.
Faith, of course, is very essential. A Master had once observed, “In spiritual life, faith comes first, then knowledge and then experience. Faith begins where reason falters; faith falters where there is attention without intention. Faith is necessary for gaining wisdom. Faith should not be confused with blind belief. It is rather the aspiration of the soul to gain wisdom. If faith is constant, it takes the devotee to the realization of wisdom. Indeed, the way to wisdom is through faith.
May this Holy month of Ardibehesht increase faith and righteousness within our community! May there be increased harmony through the healing powers of Ardibehesht and may there be peace, progress and prosperity through Asha, the Divine Order!