Zoroastrian Daily Prayers

Zoroastrian Prayers

Why To Pray

Necessity Of Prayers

In every religion the necessity of prayers is explained. However in our Mazdayasni Daen special emphasis is given to prayers and it is a command that every Mazdayasni Zarthosti should spend as much time in prayers as he can.

It is necessary that a person should have implicit faith in prayers. A prayer without faith would become a sort of a burden which will not bring good results. One cannot cheat Dadaar Ahura Mazada merely by chanting few lines from our Avesta without observing the rules and the disciplines for saying our prayers. It is because Dadaar Ahura Mazada is neither a cheater (A - Farefah) nor can be cheated (Be-Farefah). We will see later on what power there is in our smallest prayer that is "Ashem Vohu" if it is recited with full faith and in a proper way (By observing what is known as Tarikats). Prayers without faith is like dropping water on a duck-back. It will never remain there even for a moment.

According to the Mazdayasni religion there are three elements of prayer.
First is the prayer of the body which means purity of physical body 'Aipi' surrounding it.
The second prayer is of the mind which requires that there should be truth in the thought process of a person and also on his tongue.
And the third prayer is of the soul (Ruvan) which requires chanting of Avesta Manthravani with their 'Mithra' i.e. the good thoughts associated with them.

In all Avesta prayers we praise and remember different 'Yazads' 'Ameshaspands' and other Minoi powers who are working for Dadaar Ahura Mazda in accordance with His plan of creation. The prayers bring us very close to the Yazads or Ameshaspands as the case may be and so repeatedly we recite the word 'Yazamaide' meaning to get attuned to that divine power. For example in Khorshed Neyayesh we get attuned to Khorshed Yazad where as in Meher Neyayesh we get attuned to Meher Yazad.

One of the biggest gifts of God to a man is his tongue. Though this tongue is one of the five senses given by God on which man has very little control, it is said that the tongue has power to take a man to his salvation through Meher - Patet and prayers of Manthravani by remembering Dadaar Ahura Mazda with true respect and divine love.

In all our prayers of Neyayesh and Yasht, a para appears "Man Aano Avayad sudan" which reminds us that one day we all will be going in the court room of Dadaar Ahura Mazda. And for that the only path is through prayers. The prayer for the body, the prayer for the mind and for the soul.

The above referred para is the thought process for the progress of a man's Ruvan. It is said in Farsi that prayer is a kind of fortune to a man who is blessed to do it regularly.

Prayer Time

The day of 24 hours is divided into five parts in our Mazdayasni religion. Each part is called Gah, on which different Yazatic forces are working during that period. Different prayers are provided for each of the Gahs and it is necessary to first complete the mandatory prayers and thereafter to go for any other prayers. The timings of the Gahs are dependent upon sunrise and sunset, the details of which are given below. The timings shown here are as per the Indian Standard Time.

Gah Praying Time
Havan Gah From 36 minutes before sunrise upto 12.39 p.m. (I.S.T.)
Rapithwan Gah From 12.40 p.m. to 3.39 p.m.
Uzirin Gah From 3.40 p.m. till 36 minutes after Sunset
Aivisruthrem Gah From 72 minutes after sunset upto 12.39 a.m.
Ushahen Gah From 12.40 a.m. to 36 minutes before sunrise

The time schedule shown above is based on Indian Standard Time and therefore people praying in different parts of the country should convert the standard time into appropriate local time to ensure that they are following the correct time schedule for prayers in a particular Gah.

Out of the total 72 minutes period after sunset, the first 36 minutes are known as Uzirin's Meher and the next 36 minutes are known as Aivisruthrem's Meher. It is advisable not to recite any prayer during this period, as during this time the power of the dark side of nature is stronger and it cuts off the good effects of our prayer's vibrations.

The first 36 minutes before sunrise is known as Havan's Meher. Please note that our planet earth also known as Geti is hundreds of thousands of miles away from sun (Khorshed) and it takes about nine miniutes for the sun's rays to fall on the earth. It is therefore recommended that unless you have very urgent work the prayer for Rapithwan Gah should start at 12.50 p.m. and for Uzirin Gah at 3.50 p.m.

The best time for prayer according to our religion is the time of Ushahen Gah, and thereafter the time of Havan Gah. However in Ushahen Gah during the period from 12.40 a.m. to 2.40 a.m. no behdin should recite any prayers as it is a forbidden period. Only our mobeds who are performing certain religious ceremonies are allowed to do prayers during this period. In Ushahen Gah from 3.00 a.m. till 36 minutes before sunrise is considered as the best time for prayers.

Mandatory Prayers Of Five Gahs
Gah What to Pray
Havan Gah Sarosh baj, Havan Gah, Khorshed Neyayesh, Meher Neyayesh, Vispa Humata, and Doa Nam Setayeshne.
Rapithwan Gah Sarosh baj, Rapithwan Gah,. Khorshed Neyayesh, Meher Neyayesh, and Doa Nam Setayeshne.
Uzirin Gah Sarosh baj, Uzirin Gah, Khorshed Neyayesh, Meher Neyayesh and Doa Nam Setayeshne.
Aiwisruthrem Gah Sarosh baj, Aiwisruthrem Gah, Sarosh Yasht Vadi, with nirang, Atash Neyayesh and Doa Nam Setayeshne.
Ushahen Gah Sarosh baj, Ushahen Gah, Hormazd Yasht, Sarosh Yasht Hadokht, and Doa Nam Setayeshne.

It is important to note that the Vispa Humata prayer should be recited only in Havan Gah. When Havan Gah is recited during the period from Hormazd roj of Mah Avan till the last Gatha i.e. Vahishtoisht Gatha as mentioned above Vispa Humata prayer is also to be recited between 12.40 p.m. to 3.39 p.m. It is only after completing the above sets of prayers in different Gahs, one should go for additional prayers of Neyayesh and Yasht according to one's desire. The above prayers are the fundamental prayers which is the foundation on which the structure in the form of other prayers like Neyayesh and Yasht rests. If the foundation is weak the structure will not bare the load and the desired result of one's prayer will not come through.

The above list of prayers is known as Nani Farajiyat Prayers meaning a condensed list of prayers for every Gah. If one adds the following additional prayers in the given list it becomes in a way a complete list of prayers for that Gah.

Havan Gah Hormazd Yasht, Ardibehest Yasht, and Sarosh Yasht Hadokht.
Rapithwan Gah Same as above
Uzirin Gah Same as above
Ushahen Gah Ardibehest Yasht

If one cannot pray all the Neyayesh every day it is recommended that atleast on the following days the said Neyayesh should be recited.

Mah Bokhtar Neyayesh On the new moon day (Chandrat), Amavasya day and on full moon day.
Atash Neyayesh On Hormazd roj, Ardibehest roj, Adar roj, Sarosh roj, and Behram roj.
Avan Ardvisura Neyayesh On Asfandarmad roj, Avan roj, Din roj, Ashishvang roj and Marespand roj.
Some Tips On Prayers

Before starting a prayer it is good to start with 2 Yatha and 1 Ashem. Similarly, the prayer should end with 1 Yatha and 2 Ashem.

The same order is recommended before beginning any good work and on completion of the work. Our hamdins who are in service can also follow this rule before they start their work in the office and at the end of the day. This will definitely bring good results.

In our Mazdayasni Daen certain routine work is required to be performed only after taking Baj (A short prayer designed for the particular work). For example one should recite the Baj prescribed before bath (Nahavani Baj). Similarly there is a Baj for cutting nails and hair and Baj before going to toilet (Haajate Jawani Baj) etc.

During the prayer one must be careful to ensure that he recites the prayer correctly without missing any word from it. The same way when one prays a particular Neyayesh or Yasht, one must remember the correct Roj and the Mah of that day and there should not be any mistake in the same. It is said that the prayer goes waste if a wrong Roj or Mah is uttered during the prayers.

In olden days if a Mobed would make such a mistake his Barashnum (The spiritual bath of nine days required to be taken before carrying out certain religious ceremonies) could be rendered useless and he would be required to take the bath once again. Such strict principles were followed in the olden days.

A lot of importance is also given to correct pronunciation of the Avesta prayers. These rules are explained in 'Paiti Prasao' meaning laws of prayers. While doing your prayers where to stop, where not to stop, how long one should stop, where one should pray loudly and clearly and where one should pray very softly is all explained in these laws for prayers.

One more tarikat for our prayers is that when one recites Khorshed Neyayesh and Meher Neyayesh, he/she must do so facing the Sun as far as possible. Some people recite these prayers in front of Atash Padshah either in Agiary or Atashbehram, this is incorrect. It is because Khurshed Yazad's status is the Highest compared to the status of Atash Padshah of Agiary or Atashbehram. It is rather an insult of Khorshed Yazad to recite the Khorshed/Meher Neyayesh prayers in front of Atash Padshah in Agiary or Atashbehram. The same goes for the Mah Bokhtar and Avan Nyaishes.

In a similar way, according to the laws of staot yasna it is not correct to recite Atash Neyayesh and Ava Neyayesh one after the other. If it is desired to do so one must pray five Yatha after Atash Neyayesh and then start Ava Neyayesh so that the divine effects of both the type of staots are maintained in the nature. In the normal situation the effects of these staots (Fire and Water) work in opposite direction and neutralises the good effects. However by praying five Yatha, the good effects of both the staots are maintained and therefore it does not bring any harm on the person for neutralising the good effects of the staots. One must also remember that while doing the prayers, first one should complete all Neyayesh and then only any Yasht prayers can be started. This is valid for the first three Gahs. Havan, Rapithvan and Uzirin.

'Ashem Vohu' Where, When And How To Pray

As mentioned earlier one must refrain from praying selected paras, small prayers, nirangs etc. Instead, if only Yatha, Ashem is recited with complete faith it is more helpful to the person. Let us see the power of our Yatha and Ashem.

During the conversation with Dadaar Ahuramazda, Asho Zarthushtra Paigambar asks Dadaar Ahuramazda, tell me what is that which is full of divine wisdom and Ashoi? Dadar Ahuramazda replies that that is Ashem Vohu. Paigambar Saheb asks the second question. Tell me when is the value of one Ashem equal to ten Ashem? Ahuramazda replies that when one Mazdayasni Zarthosti recites one Ashem with good thought, good words and good work before taking his food the value of one Ashem goes upto ten Ashem. Later on Dadaar Ahuramazda explains our Paigambar Saheb that while drinking the holy Hom water the value of one Ashem at that time goes upto one hundred Ashem. One Ashem recited while taking a turn in the sleep goes upto one thousand Ashem, one Ashem recited the first thing in the morning after touching the feet to the ground goes upto ten thousand Ashem. And finally when a Zarthosti finishes his time on this Geti (Earth) and is ready to leave the Spenta Armaity (Geti) for Heavenly abode, meaning when he is about to pass away and breathing his last the effect of one Ashem recited at that time goes round the entire Geti.

In addition to the above instances, in the following cases also it is recommended to recite one Ashem.

One Ashem when the cock crows early morning. The sound of the cock cuts into the bad influences in nature. Its loud sound goes way up in the sky through the clouds. At that time when one Ashem is recited it goes a long way up in the sky alongwith the powerful sound of the cock. Similarly when you see our Varasyaji (the sacred bull) or any other domestic animal like a cow or a bull chewing the cud quietly and serenely it is a good time to recite one Ashem. It is because at that point of time the thought process of these animals is of a very high order. One Ashem is also very helpful when one gets a bad thought in one's mind or when one comes to know about the demise of a person, particularly a Zarthosti. One Ashem when you go to see your boss in the office or a person, when a lamp gets extinguished or when one sneezes. However if you sneeze during your prayers one should not recite Ashem at that time but simply continue the prayers.

It is possible that due to certain limitations or constraint one may not be able to do one's normal prayers as given earlier. In such events the following numbers of Ahunavar (Yatha Ahu Vairyo) prayers are recommended. However it must be noted that this should happen in exceptional cases and not by way of routine.

Normal prayers No of Yatha in lieu of normal prayers
Five Gahs 65 Yatha for each Gah.
Khorshed Neyayesh 103 Yatha.
Meher Neyayesh 65 Yatha
Mah Bokhtar, Ava, and Atash Neyayesh 65 Yatha for each Neyayesh
Ardibehest Yasht 65 Yatha
Sarosh Yasht Hadokht (small) 75 Yatha
Sarosh Yasht Vadi (big) 103 Yatha

In addition to the above table, the Ahunavar prayer is also prescribed for different situations in life. There are innumerable instances given in Avesta where the Ahunavar prayer is recommended, however following are the few situations through which today's Zarthosti passes when he can recite one Ahunavar.

One Yatha before going to see a stranger.
One Yatha before crossing a river or putting your legs in a lake sea river etc.
Two Yatha before giving blessings to someone.
Five Yatha before starting a new work.
Five Yatha before leaving the house and again while entering the house.
Five Yatha before lighting a lamp.
Five Yatha if one feels lost on the road and does not find proper direction or is in any trouble.
Twenty one Yatha if one comes across a funeral procession on the road.

Our religion also prescribes different sets of prayers for the bad planetary effects on a person. It is suggested that one should include the following prayers alongwith the normal prayers to protect oneself from the bad planetary influence.

Prayers for bad planetary influence

Bad Planetary influence of Prayer
Sun Khorshed and Meher Neyayesh
Moon Mah Bokhtar Neyayesh
Mars Behram Yasht
Mercury Tir Yasht
Jupiter Hormazd Yasht
Venus Khordad Yasht (to recite 3 times)
Saturn Avan Yasht
Rahu/Ketu Moti Haptan Yasht

Prayers For Physical Ailments

Our Avesta also prescribes prayers for physical ailments and sickness The same are as under.

For problems relating to eyes Tir Yasht, Khorshed Yasht or Khorshed Neyayesh
For brain related problems Mah Bokhtar Neyayesh
For all types of problems and difficulties Behram Yasht
For worldly happiness Ashishvangh Yasht
To break and destroy the bad influence of Ahreman (Dark forces) Haptan Yasht