Popular Parsi Myths (VIII)

Parsi Times brings you the continuation of yet another interesting series titled, ‘Popular Parsi Myths’, written by our Community luminary, Zoroastrian scholar and visionary, and a writer par excellence – Noshir H. Dadrawala. The object of this series is to shed the light of truth on myths and fables and sift the facts from fiction. Read on…

Myth: The Northern direction is inauspicious from the Zoroastrian point of view

Fact: The Northern direction is not inauspicious simply because doctrinally we are precluded from praying facing the North. In fact, in the char disha no namaskar we pay homage to all four directions, including the North. Is there any rationale for not praying facing the North? Well, if I was the legendary ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ I would have answered this question in one word, ‘tradition!’ But, on a more serious note, the following are the two key reasons why Zoroastrians do not face North while praying:

1. Historical: Since prehistoric times, Zoroastrians were visited by evil forces in various forms, from the North. This included vicious invaders from the North and the bitter cold North Wind. Hence, historically and culturally, Zoroastrians see North as the harbinger of war, illness, suffering and famine.

The Vendidad also avers that druj-e-nashu (the demon or force of putridity) comes to attack the corpse from the Northern direction.

2. Ritual: While praying, we are required to face the south when chanting the words, “Dadar-e-gehan……………..”

Now, “Dadar-e-gehan…” doctrinally refers to the gateway/path/abode of Dadar Ahura Mazda. The opposite of South being North is seen as a direction moving away in the opposite direction from the gateway/path/abode of Dadar Ahura Mazda and therefore, doctrinally, not recommended for facing while praying.

Also, if one prays facing North, it would mean having one’s back/rear to the gateway/path/abode of Dadar Ahura Mazda and that would be disrespectful.

Traditionally, even Indians do not sleep with their head pointing to the north. It is considered best to sleep with the head facing the East.

When we sleep with our head towards North, our body’s magnetic field becomes completely asymmetrical to the Earth’s Magnetic field. This causes problems related to blood pressure and our heart needs to work harder in order to overcome this asymmetry of magnetic fields.

Apart from this, another reason is that our body has significant amount of iron in our blood. When we sleep in this position, iron from the whole body starts to gather in our brain which can cause headaches and other ailments. Of course there would be no ill effects if one sleeps with the head towards the North for a few days. However, the long term implications could prove harmful.

Even as per Vastu Shastra, no direction is bad and no direction is completely auspicious. There are a variety of rules related to every single direction that need to be carefully followed in order to harness the positive energies emanating from the cardinal directions and thwart the negative vibes.

Noshir H. Dadrawala
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