When the highest of the high liturgical prayers are conducted in our Fire Temple, there are a series of instruments used. These are referred to as ‘Alat’. They are the means through which our priests transmute and communicate the energies of our manthra into the vast cosmos. They are intrinsic to the performance of the Baaj, Vendidad, Ijashni, Boi or even the Afargan, Farokshi and Jashan. And while some of us may feel that these prayers remain largely beyond the comprehension of us common people, they are the soul and the substance of our faith.
Out of all the vital instruments used, the most important and the most vital is the Dasturji himself! The manthras – that arise from his lungs, emanate from his voice, have resided in his soul for as long as he can remember – become the channel through which Holy energies are transmuted. He has spent years practicing to perfection the exact time he must breathe in and when he must exhale. Buildings have lightning rods installed in them when they are constructed. In case of a storm, the lightning cannot destroy the building for the rod conducts it safely into the earth. Similarly, our Dasturjis stand guard over us, in such storms. They have the wherewithal and the knowledge to not just keep our faith alive but also to guard and protect it from the ravages of time. As children, these Dasturjis are trained in this craft and very few are blessed to pursue it for the rest of their lives.
The number of young boys taking to a life of priesthood is fast dwindling. It is looked upon as a last resort profession, never a first choice. The career prospects of a priest and his position in society is a big question mark, even today. A lot of attempts are being made to make this a more viable and financially stable profession but nothing real has materialised so far. This is the truth of what lies ahead. In our lifetime, we have seen the Boi ceremony being performed and we have the good fortune to have witnessed a Jashan, etc. We still have the protective shield of the invaluable manthra recited by our priests, but I don’t know whether our children will be as fortunate. Today is the time to value what we have before we lose it forever.
This column is in continuation of my ongoing series on the 101 names of Pak Dadar Ahura Mazda, which are really His attributes or qualities. Chanting these names regularly creates a protective aura of their strength around us and keeps us safe. Reciting these names daily, post doing the kusti prayer, can remedy almost all ills and challenges we face. They are not a substitute for effort and hard work; these will augment your dedication and give it an added boost. Please note that each name is a prayer in itself and can be chanted to gain maximum benefit of its particular divine vibration.
- Amsafan: Always clever, shining and smart. Today, people are getting laid off, salaries are slashed and the future remains uncertain. COVID has not finished its dirty business yet and we are already facing a crisis with locusts attacking crops. People who are struggling to find a job are helped by the recitation of this name, which also grants beauty and intelligence, hence it should be recited by pregnant women for gaining these blessings for their unborn children.
- Fashutana: This name holds within it the power of protection over all creation, including birth and death. Very often our loved ones live far away from us, we cannot help them in times of crisis even if we want to. Reciting this name creates a protective vibration around them and most importantly, we can recite this manthra even if we are in another continent! Reciting this name is also beneficial for increase in income and for begetting children.
- Padmani: The One who knows and understands the limits and boundaries of all creation. Sometimes we are stretched by life and circumstances, we feel defeated and often give up as we can go no further. Ahura Mazda understands us and our limitations, therefore this name can grant any wish. The one who is faithful and trustworthy and recites this name gains a rich and deep intuition and a strong shining strength. This name is the giver of income and destroyer of enemies, bringing much relief in various forms to those who recite it regularly.
- Chier: Leader of the strongest and one who is best in helping others. This name is the conduit through which we receive God’s blessings. Reciting it helps us to overcome our enemies, but if the enemy is very powerful, then for 21 days this name should be recited 101 times daily. Never underestimate the power of the manthra. Today, we are faced with a war like situation and even if we cannot physically go to battle, we can bring it upon ourselves to recite this name for the protection and betterment of our country. This name has the power to destroy the one who is wrong, and the reciter can even gain the respect of his enemies.
- Phirozgar: The most victorious among all – giver of unequalled victory. (Pa Name Ahuramazd Yazad, Yazdaan, Phirojgar Ashaum Gargar Yazamaide) – this prayer must be prayed in times of trouble, in seclusion. Dasturji Azar Kaiwan has stated that if this manthra is recited with piety and dedication with a clean mind and body, then it can even help us in attaining great wealth. Very often, history reveals to us the trials and challenges of battles fought in olden days. Battles took their toll in men and money and the earth around the world is soaked with the blood of the valiant who fought to die for king and country. Today, those battle fields have changed and we fight the battle for our very existence. But the war remains the same, every day we fight an unknown, faceless enemy. The weapons that are used now do not draw blood, they simply drain the life out of you. How much more difficult it is to fight this war where even you are your own adversary! So, as we go forth into our own individual battles every day, let us start by making this manthra our war cry so that we may emerge victorious in the eyes of Ahura Mazda.
- Khudavand: The ruler of both the worlds, the provider, the knower of all things, the caretaker, the helper in all difficulties. Our challenges don’t announce themselves when they manifest in our lives. We have to be prepared for any eventuality. Reciting Ashaum Khudavand Yazamaide can help us overcome all difficulties that we face.
- Ahuramazda: The giver of life, merciful, gentle, one who is a giver, one who provides livelihood, the one who accepts both prayer and penitence, one who grants blessings and gives life to all creation. Unfortunately, some sections of society have succeeded in creating a villain out of our beloved Ahura Mazda. They spread the message of fear, if you don’t do this, follow this, pray this, behave like this, then Ahura Mazda will strike you with unimaginable suffering. In reality, we all reap the fruits of our own deeds or karma. We cannot sow the seeds of falsehood and expect a life of truth. But Ahuramazda is the gentle one, the one who accepts your penitence, the one who waits on the sidelines for you to decide your own destiny and the way forward. He does not infringe on your free will, He awaits your love and acceptance without making a loud demand for the same. We must never forget to recite this name, as it brings with it the rich reward of loftiness in both, the physical and the spiritual world.
- Abarin Kuhan Tawan: The knower of all reality, the one who knows the past, the present and the future. In Hindu mythology, the term for this is Trikal Darshi. One who sees and knows all aspects of existence. Many times, we hope and pray that we would be able to see our future but that is beyond human grasp. Astrologers study the path of the planets and give us guidelines on what lies ahead, but no one can truly predict our future. Reciting this name can bring within you a sense of awareness, if you are deeply connected to your inner voice, then you will be able to gauge the early warning signs. However, I strongly support the words of this wonderful hymn:
“I know who holds the future,
And I know who holds my hand;
With God things don’t just happen,
Everything by Him is planned.
So, as I face tomorrow,
With its problems large and small,
I trust the God of miracles,
Give to Him, my all!”
- Abarin No Tawan: The giver of strength to the whole Universe. This name removes the deficiencies and weaknesses of the reciter. Often, we give up; we give up our vision, our dream, our task and sometimes we even give up on people. We lose hope and cannot see the way forward. This name helps find a renewed strength to move on. Those unable to complete their work or for some reason have given up on it, then reciting this name can give you the impetus to complete all your tasks. When we invoke this name we must be open and willingly accept the blessings that it brings.
- Vaspan: The one who cares and hears you out. When you recite, Ashaum Vaspan Yazamaide, you bring upon yourself the divine blessings. This name should be recited before asking for the aid of Ahura Mazda, it will help us communicate our problems effectively and it will reach Ahura. This name helps us get rid of the fear of loneliness and gives us the strength to work for His divine plan.