Zoroastrian Saints

Shah Jamsheed

Iran, in an ancient times, was ruled by many saintly kings. One of them was Shah Jamsheed. Jamsheed, who is referred to as "Yima" in the Avesta, was, according to the 'Shah Nameh', the third King of Iran after Hoshang, the founder of the Peshdadian dynasty (Peshdad means "ancient law-giver"). The epithets khshaeta (glorious) and havanthwa (of good flock)are ascribed to him due to his resplendent appearance and qualities of an excellent "pastor". According to the Avesta, he is said to have reigned for 1000 years (according to the 'Bundahishn', he ruled for 716 years and six months) and established a veritable paradise on earth.

Jamsheed's long reign and account of his accomplishments may seen exaggerated from our present frame of reference. However, none other than Firdaosi explains:

Tu een raa doroogh o fasaanah madaan.
Ba yaksaan ravesh dar Zamaanah madaan.

("Do not regard these as fables and fictions. Do not imagine that circumstances and conditions remain the same in different ages.") Jam means "pure" (also "intelligent") while sheed means "light". Hence, Jamsheed means "pure light" or "the light of intelligence".

According to Zarathushtrian texts, Jamsheed was both a king and a priest and full divine glory (khwarrah). He is believed to have laid the foundation of the Mazdayasna (Mazda worship) religion under the guidance and inspiration of Sarosh Yazad. It is believed Ahura Mazda offered him prophethood which he modestly declined, pleading inability. He is, however, credited with introducing the use of the sacred kusti among the Mazdayasnis. All this, of course, was long before the advent of Prophet Zarathushtra.

On receiving a golden seal and a sword as his insignia of royalty from Ahura Mazda, Jamsheed expanded the land by a third, thrice over, to meet the wants of people who were multiplying in large numbers.

Jamsheed is believed to have pioneered the manufacture of iron weapons, the art of weaving and spinning, dividing society into four classes according to their calling, the art of wine-making, preparing remedies of various diseases, navigation and all-round development of art and craft.

During Jamsheed's reign, death, disease and old age were totally brought under control. One could say that this saintly King almost brought about Frashokereti. The forces of evil were totally under control, and there was complete orderliness.

Ahura Mazda also forewarned Jamsheed of the approach of a very severe winter (probably the Ice Age) which would destroy all life on earth. He advised Jamsheed to build a vara (a protected dwelling) and take the best of human beings, animals, birds and vegetation to live there during the severe winter. This story may ring a familiar bell for those who may have read the story of Noah in the 'Bible'. While Jamsheed led the best of Ahura Mazda's creations to the vara during the Ice Age, Noah took them to a specially constructed Ark, during the Great Flood. Prof. Spiegel has rightly observed, "Several subjects treated in the 'Genesis' have been borrowed from the Avesta."

Both Noah and Jamsheed appear to have been forewarned by God of a major world disaster, and both appear to have lived extremely long lives (Jamsheed lived for 1000 years, while Hoah lived for 950 years).

Jamsheed is believed to have established a great spiritual fire-temple in the mountain of Gadmanhomand, while Noah is also believed to have built "an altar unto the Lord" on a mountain, to offer sacrifice.

There is also much in common between Jamsheed, the ancient lawgiver and Manu, the first lawgiver of the Hindu tradition.

Menu is believed to have divided the Aryans into four classes :

  • Brahmin (priest)
  • Kshatriya (warrior)
  • Vaishya (husbandman)
  • Sudra (commonman or servant)

Jamsheed is also believed to have divided the Aryans into four classes:

  • Athravan (priest)
  • Ratheshtar (warrior)
  • Vastryosh (husbandman)
  • Hutokhsh (artisan)

Manu's father was Vivasvat, while Jamsheed's father was Vivanghan.

Brahma, the Creator, is also believed to have forewarned Manu about the approach of a massive flood which would destroy everything on earth. Like Noah, Manu is said to have built a ship to carry the best of Brahma's creations to safety.

Though some modern scholars disagree, Jamsheed is also credited with instituting the Spring festival of Navroz.

Says Firdausi, the immortal bard of Toos:

"At the period when the sovereign of the starts (i.e., the sun) removed this pavilion from the tail of Pisces to the neck of Aries, Jamsheed issued a decree, ordaining the nobles and ministers to assemble at the foot of the royal throne; when he himself with every demonstration of joy and gladness, seated on the Musnud of universal empire, expanded the carpet of delight and laid out the couches of festivity and pleasure: to this day, he gave the name Navroz, and held out to the people, the promise of abundant grace and liberality, with the diffusion of justice."

Shah Faridoon

The kings of ancient Iran, especially during the Peshdadian and Kayanian dynesties, were both spiritual and temporal leaders. In Zarathushtrian tradition, many of them are regarded as prophets who laid the path for the advent of the 'Prophet of prophets', Asho Zarathushtra..

After a long golden period under Shah Jamshed, Iran came under the rule of the evil Zohak. Zohak or Azhi dahaka was a tyrant who unleashed an era of terror and oppression. He had murdered Shah Jamshed and ordered human sacrifices. In the Avesta he is called "Baevare-aspe" (possessing the strength of 10,000 horses). He was the living embodiment of evil and the ten vices that afflict humanity.

Faridoon ("one possessing the wisdom of the 8th sky") was born to Athwiyan and Franak during these troubled times. When the evil Zohak murdered Athwiyan, Faridoon's mother, Franak, took the little boy to a secluded place in the Alburz mountains and entrusted the child in the care of Purmaayaah, the spiritual cow who nursed the child for three years. In the mean time, astrologers began to predict that a young lad named Faridoon would soon slay the evil Zohak.

The first to rise in rebellion against Zohak was a blacksmith named 'Kawa'. He made a war standard out of his leather apron and collected an army under the "Drafshi-i-Kawayani" (the flag of Kawa).

Kawa sought out Faridoon and encouraged him to liberate Iran from the yoke of Zohak's evil rule. Faridoon, with the aid of Sarosh Yazata, was successful in overthrowing Zohak. Under the guidance of Sarosh Yazata, Faridoon did not kill Zohak (since the time had not come in Nature to do that). Instead, he tied the evil one on Mount Daemavand. The day this event took place was Roj Meher of Mah Meher. Thus was laid the foundation of the festival of Meherangan or the day when good triumphed over evil and the pious Faridoon liberated the land of Iran from oppression and tyranny.

According to legend, Zohak, who was the living embodiment of evil, is still chained to that great spiritual mountain, Daemavand. It is said every night when the forces of evil gain strength, the chains weaken. However, at the crack of dawn when the cock crows and the sun comes out, the chains are once again secured and the evil one is rendered powerless. This is an important truth in Nature wrapped in an easy-to-understand legend. This is the reason why we pray in the "Afreen-i-haft Ameshaspandan": "Hamazor Daemavand koh ke dravand Bivarasp andar oye baste ested." ("Be in accord/attuned with Daemavand Koh (mountain) (which has the power and) in which is enchained the demon (with power) of ten thousand horses".

Shah Faridoon is also recognised in zarathushtrian tradition as a Master Healer. He is said to have known all sorts of holy incantations (nirangs) with which he could change his form at will, as also heal various afflictions. Even today, many of the nirangs which we pray are ascribed to Faridoon Padshah.

Faridoon was a saintly monarch who ruled with benevolence and reestablished during his reign of 500 years, an era of virtue, happiness and prosperity.

Shah Faridoon had been blessed by Sarosh Yazata with the power to neutralize all form of evil, whether in the form of disease, human vices or an evil energy at a metaphysical level. In the 'Fravardin Yasht' we invoke his righteous fravashi in order to withstand various diseases: "Thraetaonahe Athuyanoish ashaona fravashim yazamaide".

We also pray in the 'Vanant Yasht': "Baeshaza goafranganbad. Name Ahura Mazda, pa name niv khoreh Faridoon, Faridoon Athavyan." ("May there be health and fame! Through the name of Ahura Mazda and through the name and the power and glory of Faridoon, the son of Athavyan".)

It is considered very efficacious to remember the name of Shah Faridoon and invoke his pious fravashi for spiritual assistance during prolonged illness or whenever one feels afflicted by various forms of evil. His fravashi may also be invoked for spiritual assistance in controlling personal weaknesses such as the demon of wrath, greed, envy, lust, etc.

Shah Lohrasp

Just like the kings of Peshdadian Iran, the kings of the Kayanian dynasty were also spiritually advanced souls. They all possessed "Kavayam Khvareno" or the "Kingly Glory". Kavayam Khvareno is said to have been created by Ahura Mazda to bestow special qualities and strength to righteous kings. One who possessed this "Khvareno" or Khoreh" or "Glory" acquired the strength to conquer various forms of evil, as also be blessed with good health, brilliance, skill and many spiritual powers.

When Shah Hooshang acquired this Glory, he destroyed two-thirds of the demons that were playing havoc in this world. With the aid of this Glory, Tehmurasp subdued all the demons (div) and acquired the title "Tehmurasp-e-Div Band" (i.e., Tehmurasp who could tie up or control the divs or demons). It is said that for 30 years, Tehmurasp rode on Angra Mainyu (the Evil Spirit), that is to say, he had a tight rein on the Evil Spirit. With the aid of this Glory, Shah Jamsheed brought about "near perfection" in this world by destroying death and disease.

When the evil Zohak tried to grab this Glory, he failed. The evil Afrasiab also failed to acquire this Glory. Whenever there was a king unfit for this Glory, it disappeared in the sea of Vourukasha.

The founder of the Kayanian dynasty was Kavata who also held the title, "kavay" or "kavi". Thus, all Kayanian Kings had the prefix "Kae" to their names, e.g., Kae Kobad, Kae Khusrow, Kae Kaus, Kae Lohrasp, etc. The term "Kayan" means 'kingly', 'royal' or 'regal'.

Of all the Kayanian kings, Kae Lohrasp was the most saintly and spiritually advanced. In the Avesta, he is called "Kavi Aurvatasp" (one having swift horse). There is a deep mystical meaning in this name. One of the meanings of this name is, "one having swift divine intelligence". The name "Lohrasp" means "proper".

Kae Lohrasp was the son of Arvand and Tanaz. He was the King of ancient Iran when Prophet Zarathushtra was born. He is said to have ascended his throne in Balkh (Bactria) on Roj Khordad, Mah Fravardin (i.e., Khordad Sal).

When Shah Lohrasp's predecessor, Kae Khusrow, attained immortality and disappeared in the mountains, some people doubted whether Kae Lohrasp who was of an ascetic bent of mind would be a worthy successor. However, before abdicating the throne, Kae Khusrow had declared "Lohrasp is one who breaks the leg of all sorcerors and uproots them. I want him to succeed me as ordered by Ahura Mazda".

Kae Lohrasp is said to have ruled righteoiusly for 120 years and established many fire temples.

In mystic circles, Kae Lohrasp is known as "Saheb-e-Mithra" (Master over thought forces).

Shah Lohrasp's picture adorns many fire temple and Zarathushtrian homes. Classically, he is portrayed praying before a fire with his right hand lifted in prayers and the left hand resting on a bow (indicating spiritual authority). A replica of his bust (i.e., astral double) is seen hovering above himself and the fire, on a white cloud. According to mystics, this is an astral projection of his powerful thought force. When manthra (holy Avesta prayers), combines with manthra (powerful thought forces) it becomes a powerful weapon to destroy all evil.

Kae Lohrasp during his lifetime gave up his kingdom to Kae Vistasp, so that he could engage himself in prayer and work behind the scene while Prophet Zarathushtra would carry out his Divine mission on earth.

All prophets and "avataars" (incarnations of Divinity) come down to earth for a purpose beyond just a fresh message. Jesus did preach his message of love and forgiveness but his main spiritual task was to lift and take upon himself a major part of the spiritual burden being suffered by humanity. In like manner, Sri Krishna did preach his message of Karma Yoga; however, his major spiritual task was to destroy various demons, evil persons and evil forces.

Zarathushtra also preached his message based on the Law of Asha (Truth, Righteousness, Holiness and Divine Order), but his greater spiritual mission was to destroy various forms of evil. In this task he was greatly assisted by Kae Lohrasp who, with the power of his manthras and mithra, could destroy various forms of evil.

If an evil thought of greed, envy, lust, etc., passes through a Zarathushti's mind, it is considered meritorious to recite one Ashem and remember the name of "Saheb-e-Mithra Kae Lohrasp Bin Arvand". It is equally meritorious to invoke his holy fravashi for spiritual development and control over the mind and thoughts. Whenever one is troubled by negative thoughts, the image of Kae Lohrasp dressed in white robes and long flowing beard can be brought to mind for peace, comfort and restoring balance.

Dastur Dinyar or "SALMAN-E-FARS"

Being one of the oldest revealed religions of the world, Zarathushtrianism has influenced Judaism, Christianity and Islam in a major way. Scholars of comparative religions believe that the concept of heaven and hell, resurrection, GOD and Satan, etc., are all Zarathushtrian concepts borrowed subsequently by the Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Three Zarathushtrian priests (the three Majis) are said to have been present at the birth of Jesus Christ. Noted scholar D.B. MacDonald in "Development of Muslim Theology, Jurisprudence and Constitutional Theory" (pg.133) writes, "Its was Dastur Dinyar, afterwards known as Salman (Solomon)-e-Fars, a learned Zoroastrian priest who helped Muhammed in writing the Quran (The Quran XVI-105)". Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, was born at Mecca in 570 A.D. He took pride in the fact that he was born in the reign of Noshirwan the Just - the Emperor of Zarathushtrian Iran. Muhammad began to preach in Mecca in 610 AD It is believed that the Prophet has constituted a council of advisers of which Dastur Dinyar was an important member.

It is said Prophet Muhammad had issued three Ahadnameh or charters to guarantee protection of person, property, freedom of worship and exemption from the poll-tax (the Jaziya) to a) Farrukh-bin-Shakshan (the brother of Dastur Dinyar), b) Bahram-bin-Khiradars and c) the descendants of Aderbad Mahrespand. Though the authenticity of these Firmans is difficult to prove historically, they do bring out the liberal policy of tolerance ordained by the prophet. In fact, it is said that Muhammad and his son-in-law, the Imam Ali, had issued such charters to all the "Ahel-e-kitab" or "People of the Book" (i.e., those who followed the teachings of a revealed religion, a designation given to Zarathushtrians, Jews and Christians).

The three Zarathushtrian Ahadnameh first came to light in 1851, more than twelve centuries after they were granted. Sorabji Jamsetji Jejeebhoy, the son of the first Baronet, Sir Jamsetji Jejeebhoy,had them published with the Arabic text and their translation in Persian and Gujarati. As said earlier, it would be difficult to establish with certainty the genuineness of these charters.

Dastur Dinyar of Salman-e-Fars was one of the most revered among the Ashab (i.e., companions) of Prophet Muhammad. The prophet,in fact, treated him as one belonging to his "inner circle". According to the 'Hadith', "Salman Minna aht al-Bait", i.e., "Salman is one of us." Dastur Dinyar survived the prophet and it appears he staunchly supported Ali and his family during the schism that followed Muhammad's passing away. In mystic circles, it is believed that the "Quran" essentially deals with tarikat (spiritual discipline) and Sheriat(law). Esoteric Islam began to blossom under Hazrat Ali under the influence of Salman-e-Fars.

The Ahadnameh granted to the brother of Salman-e-Fars is believed to have been written by Al lbn Abu Talib, under instructions from prophet Muhammad. The charter granted various rights and freedom, as also protection to the co-religionists of Dastur Dinyar. The prophet is believed to have said, "Whosoever obeys this my command he will gain the pleasure of God, but those who disobey will be accursed to the day of resurrection." The Ahadnameh says, "Those who are generous to them (i.e. Zarathushtrians) is generous to me (i.e., Muhammad), and they will receive naught but good form God. And those who offend them, offends me, and I will be his enemy on the day of Judgement. His punishment is the fire of hell; I withdraw my protection from him."

In the same 'Ahadnameh' the prophet says, "And it was said in the revelation received by me that paradise more impatiently desires the presence of Salman, than Salman wishes to go there. Really he is my intimate friend and adviser as well as to all Muslims. Salman is one of our family."

Unfortunately, there is very little we know about Dastur Dinyar from Zarathushtrian texts except for the fact that he was also known as "Behzad" (the well born) and was the spiritual counseller of Noshirwan-e-Adil. Mystics believe this Zarathushtrian Dastur was destined in Nature to influence the early development of the fifth and final major religion of the world (i.e., Islam).

It is ironic that despite Dastur Dinyar's influence on early Islam and the charters issued by Prophet Muhammad the Arab Muslims ultimately destroyed Zarathushtrian Iran and the co-religionists of the pious Dastur had to flee from their own motherland and seek refuge in India.

Strange are the ways of this world!

The Clairvoyant Jamasp

Jamasp was the High Priest and minister in the Royal Court of Kae Vistasp. He belonged to the family of Hvogva or Hvova.

It is said Prophet Zarathushtra arrived at the court of Kae Vistasp with the Divine Message he had received from Ahura Mazda, the Divine Fire of Adar Burzin and a Divine Cypress tree. Zarathushtra blessed Kae Vistasp and declared the he was a Prophet. For three days, Zarathushtra was engaged in discussion and debate with various wise men at the royal court. When Zarathushtra handed over the fire of Adar Burizin to Kae Vistasp and others at the court, they noticed that its burned without fuel and did not singe the skin or flesh when it was held in their bare hands.

Jamasp is said to have further tested the Prophet by pouring molten bronze four times on Zarathushtra's bare chest. Zarathushtra emerged unscathed from this ordeal.

Kae Vistasp is siad to have asked Zarathushtra for four boons:

  • to see his future destiny in the next world;
  • to live forever;
  • to become invincible from any weapon and;
  • be blessed with foreknowledge of events to occur.

Zarathushtra is said to have told Kae Vistasp that only one of the four boons could be granted to him, since no man could ever be granted all four together.

Thus, according to the Zardusht Namag' and 'Sharestan', Zarathushtra proceeded to consecrate the dron (sacred bread). Besides the dron he placed wine, milk, flowers and a pomegranate. With the power of his Ashoi (righteousness), manthravani (sacred Avestan chants) and Amal (ritual power), he blessed the dron, wine, milk, flowers and pomegranate with special divine qualities.

When Kae Vistasp drank the consecrated wine, his soul traveled to the other world and saw his future place in it during his lifetime.

When Peshotan drank the milk, he is said to have become immortal. According to the "Bundahishn", Peshotan is alive even today and continues to perform certain spiritual tasks in this world from a secret place called Kangdiz.

When Jamasp was given the consecrated flower to smell, all his senses became sharpened and he became blessed with the divine gift of prognostication or the power of foreknowing and foretelling future events.

Aspandyar was offered the consecrated pomegranate and on eating it his body became as hard as bronze (i.e., rooyintan) as invincible from any weapon.

Jamasp one of the immediate disciples of Asho Zarathushtra. His brother Frashaostra, Zarir and Sepdadad (Aspandyar) were also among Zarathushtra's early disciples. Jamasp is also said to have succeeded Zarathushtra as first of the Zarathushtra-temo.

In the Avestan texts he is called "De-Jamasp" (i.e., wise/knowing). According to Yasna 51.18, he was blessed with nur or Divine glory. He was also brave and took an active part in the war against the evil Arjasp.

Zarathushtra is said to have given one of his daughters, Porochist, in marriage to Jamasp. Mystics believe the three wives, three sons and three daughters attributed to Zarathushtra were not physical persons but 'potentialities' or 'energies' which, like an ideal wife, son and daughter, were loyal, dutiful and obedient to Zarathushtra. The bestowing of one such energy on Jamasp is allegorically referred to as "giving his daughter in marriage to Jamasp".

The "Jamasp Namak" (Book of Jamasp) - more popularly known as "Jamaspi"- is attributed to Jamasp. Much of the original is lost today. Today, we have the Pahlavi, Pazand, Persian and Gujarati versions of the "Jamaspi", all at variance with each other. The original "Jamaspi" appears to have been lost in antiquity or, as some mystics believe, remains hidden and safe with certain spiritual Masters. The "Jamaspi" is essentially a book of divination's and prophesies. Much of the writings is cryptic and confusing for the non-initiate.

It is interesting to note that one of the benedictions showered on marrying couples during the Ashirwad ceremony is, "May you be the Helper of the Religion like Jamasp, the clairvoyant".

Dastur Arda Viraf

After the invasion of Alexander and the fall of the mighty Achaemenian empire, the Mazdayasni Zarathushtrian religion received a setback. The Greeks tried very hard to hellenise Iran and impose their beliefs and culture on the Iranian people. To some extent they succeeded. However,some provinces like Pars continued to offer stiff resistance. After some time, there was the rise of the Parthian empire and the religion of Zarathushtra began to gain some strength. However, it was under Ardashir Babagan (226-240 A.D.), the founder of the Sasanian dynasty, that Zarathushtrianism really began to flourish and institutionalize into a powerful and vibrant state religion. A number of atash behrams were consecrated and ancient texts recompiled.

An important and historic spiritual exercise undertaken during the reign of Ardashir Babagan was to astrally transport the soul of pious Dastur named Arda Viraf into the spiritual world.

It is said ardashir assembled 40,000 priests and from them he selected 4,000, shortlisting them further to 400 and then 40. From the 40 priests he selected 7 on the basis of their learning, wisdom and piety. Among the seven, Arda Viraf was found to be the most pious and, therefore, a worthy candidate for the spiritual exercise of khalla-e-Badan (astral projection of the soul into the other world).

It is said the pious Arda Viraf entered an atash behram called Adar Khordad, offered prayers and drank a special consecrated wine. Thereafter, he went into a spiritual trance for seven days with 40,000 priests sitting around him offering prayers and keeping a round-the-clock vigil.

It is said that with the aid of Bahman and Ardibehest Ameshaspand, as also Sarosh Yazad (the guardian of the souls of the living, as also of the dead) the pious soul of Arda Viraf was able to perceive and experience the fate of various souls in the spiritual world.

The pious Dastur's soul returned to his physical body on the eight day after its sojourn in wahisht (heaven), dozakh (hell) and hamistagan (purgatory). His experience of these worlds or "planes of existence" or "states of consciousness", if you please, were recorded in a text by the name of "Ardaz Wiraz Namag". Some scholars believe that this text was actually written in the 9th century, i.e., after the fall of the Sasanian dynasty. It is more likely that the existing 9th century text is a recompilation of the original written during the reign of Ardashir Babagan.

The "Ardaz Airaz Namag" was a very popular text both in Iran and subsequently among Parsis in India, since it helped people desist from sin and distinguish the good from the bad. This ancient text upholds the principle of "Divine Justice" in accordance with the Gathic precept, i.e., 'Good unto the doers of good and evil unto the doers of evil.'

Arda Viraf's description of heaven, hell and purgatory is very graphic. The souls of those who follow the path of Asha (righteousness) rejoice in heaven while those who follow the "Lie" suffer in hell. Arda Viraf, however, claimed that the punishment for the soul in hell is always proportionate to the wicked deeds performed on earth. Those whose good and bad deeds are in proportion spend time in purgatory.

According to the "Ardaz Wiraz Namag", after traversing the spiritual regions, the pious Dastur has a vision of Ahura Mazda Himself. Ahura Mazda is believed to have proclaimed to Zarathushtra, "There is only one path, that of righteousness. All other paths are false."

It is important to note that generally trance utterances are written or caused to be written while the person is in a state of trance or higher consciousness. Arda Viraf, on the other hand described his experiences after returning from his trance. This indicates a high level of spiritual development.

It is believed Arda Viraf's experience inspired Dante to write the "Divine Comedy", describing heaven, hell and purgatory.

Arda Viraf is probably the first human being to have experienced what a human soul undergoes at the time of death, traverse the different spiritual regions and return to the physical body after a long span of seven days. It was a miracle which rekindled the faith among Zarathushtrians in early Sasanian Iran.

Raenidar Aderbad Bin Mahrespand

Aderbad, the son of Mahrespand, was the Mobedan Mobed (Supreme Pontiff) and Prime Minister during the long reign (309-379 A.D.) of shapur Hormazd, also known as Shapur II. Shapur was also called Zull aqtaf (breaker of shoulders) since he used to strike out violently at the Arabs after having a spiritual vision that Iranian sovereignty will, one day, fall into the hands of the Arabs.

During Shapur's reign, Christianity was being propagated all over the then known world with missionary zeal. The Roman Emperor, Constantine, had accepted Christianity and he tried to interfere with the internal affairs of the Iranian empire on the plea of protecting the interests of the Christians living in Iran. From the common man to member of the Royal family, Christianity began to make inroads and shake the ancient Zarathushtrian faith to the extent that it seemed that soon, even shapur and his nobles would convert themselves to the new faith.

It was at this critical stage in Zarathushtrian history that Aderbad Mahrespand, the Magupatan Magupat (the highest amongst the Magavs) performed a miracle to prove (a) the power and spiritual Truth of the Zarathushtrian religion and (b) his own spiritual leadership as the Raenidar of the then 'New Age'. Raenidar is a Pahlavi word meaning "spiritual leader", "promoter (of the religion)", "saviour". It is said the Raenidari of Aderbad Mahrespand is now about to end and the Raenidar for the new Aquarian Age- Shah Behram Varzavand - will lead the Zarathushtrian religion and its followers to a glorious future in the next millennium.

To come back to the miracle, the "Dinkard" says Aderbad Mahrespand went through an ordeal where several men poured molten metal over his bare chest. As a result of his piety and spiritual strength,he was able to pass this ordeal without any harm. It is said the molten metal felt like warm milk on this pious Raenidar's chest, for his heart was pure and truthful.

After this ordeal, Aderbad Mahrespand also has court and public debates with leaders of other faiths and intellectually proved the supremacy of the ancient Zarathushtrian faith.

By dint of his piety, rectitude, wisdom and learning, Aderbad Mahrespand rejuvenated the religion and established faith among the believers of Ahura Mazda.

From his father's side, Aderbad Mahrespand belonged to the family of Zarathushtra and from his mother's to the family of Shah Vistasp.

Having restored the faith among his people, his next task was to consolidate the scattered fragments of the Avesta. In a sense, Aderbad Mahrespand is the Editor of what we today call the "Khordeh Avesta". as the Raenidar of his Age, he had the spiritual authority in Nature to introduce various changes according to the needs of the New Age.

Three centuries before the birth of Christ, Hermippus the Greek had made a reference to two million hymns of Zarathushtra. Much of this was lost when Alexander the Accursed invaded Iran. In Parthian times, King Valakhsh (Vologases) ordered the collection of the scattered portions of the Avesta. In like manner, during Sasanian times, Ardashir Babagan deputed his High Priest and Prime minister, Herbad Tansar with the task of compiling the fragments of the Avesta.

Many of the prayers which we pray from the "Khordeh Avesta" today were composed by the pious Aderbad Mahrespand. Among others, he is said to have composed the Patet (prayer of repentance), Afrin (blessings), the Pazand Setayesh (adorations), as also the Pazand Nirang we recite at the end of various Avestan Yashts.

Aderbad Mahrespand was also a storehouse of worldly wisdom, and some of his sayings are of timeless relevance. Here is a small sample from the "Pand nameh".

"Never speak without due reflection, be polite in speech, do not tell a lie.

"Man's greatest and best helper is wisdom - even when wealth and prosperity disappear, wisdom remains.

"Culture is an adornment in prosperity, a protector in distress, a helper in calamity and a garment in adversity.

"A man who knows a lot and believes not in its practice is a sinner.

"Do not be overjoyed in good times and over distressed in bad times.

"Rise before dawn.

"Show moderation in eating, drinking and speech.

"Spend only according to your means."

May Raenidar Aderbad Mahrespand continue to bless us and guide us from the spiritual world and help us all become better and spiritually stronger Zarathushtrians.

The First Dastur Meherji Rana

The first Dastur Meherji Rana was the undisputed spiritual leader of the Parsi community in India during the 16th century. He was renowned not just among the Parsis, but also other communities on account of his piety, vast knowledge and spiritual powers.

Dastur Meherji was born in a priestly family at Navsari, in 1514 A.D. His father's name was Rana Jesung (thus the name Meherji Rana). India, at that time was under the rule of the Mughals

According to one school of thought, Dastur Meherji was a disciple of the mystic saint, Dastur Azar Kaiwan, whose seat was in Patna. Dastur Azar Kaiwan's disciples were called yaar (i.e., spiritual friend/ spiritual helper). Thus Dastur Meherji is sometimes referred to as Dastur Mahiyaar ('Mahi' being the fish that can see the smallest piece of object even when it is dark).

Dastur Meherji was adopted by his paternal uncle, Vaccha Jesung, as a palak. It is for this reason that in our ceremonies, his name is invoked as "Dastur Meherji, Ervad Vaccha".

It appears the behdins of Navsari presented a piece of land near Piplia Radii in 1573 to Dastur Meherji in recognition of his service to the religion and community.

Dastur Meherji Rana is a renowned name in Parsi history and religions tradition, mainly because of his very positive influence on the Mughal Emperor, Akbar the Great. Akbar was born in 1542 and ascended the throne in 1556 at the age of fourteen. Although a Muslim by birth, he was very secular in his outlook and loved to discuss and understand other religious traditions. Hindu, Brahmins and Christian priests would often be invited to his court for religious discussion. It appears, however, that Dastur Meherji had a deep and lasting influence on Akbar.

It is believed Akbar first met Dastur Meherji in 1573 when the former laid siege on Surat. They appear to have met at a place near Kankrakhadi (present day Rustompura in Surat). Impressed with Dastur Meherji's knowledge and personality, the Emperor invited Dasturji to his court in Delhi. Accordingly, Dastur Meherji appears to have visited the Royal Court of Akbar in Delhi on Roj Hormazd, Mah Khordad 947 Y.Z. (1578 AD). Akbar's Prime Minister, Abu Fazal, and historian, Badaoni, also have written about Parsi priests from Navsari visiting the Royal Court around 1577-78 AD

The Emperor, pleased with Dastur Meherji's erudition and piety, gifted 200 bighas of land near Gelkhari in Gujarat, (free of all taxes) for Meherji Rana and his family's sustenance. It was called Madad-e-Maash.

Akbar was a Sufi at heart and liked to absorb the good traditions and beliefs of all religions. He also attempted to popularize a new faith called Din-e-illahi, drawing from the beliefs and traditions of various faiths, including Zarathushtrianism.

It is said Akbar had a fire burning 24 hours at his court and his Prime Minister, Abu Fazal, was put in charge of maintaining the fire.

Dastur Meherji Rana's prominence and close affinity to the Emperor gave the Parsis, as a community, national visibility and fame.

In 1579, the priests of Navsari signed a document acknowledging Meherji Rana as their leader and declaring that all religious ceremonies would henceforth be performed only after obtaining his permission. This was the origin of the gaadi (seat) of the High Priest of Navsari. The present high Priest, Meherji Kaikobad Meherji Rana, is the sixteenth heir to this famous gaadi.

Legend has it that during Dastur Meherji's stay in Delhi, a Hindu tantrik (magician) claimed that with his occult powers, he would make two suns shine in the sky. He challenged all holy men in Akbar's kingdom to respond to this 'miracle'. It appears that the magician, with the aid of certain spells, had launched a metal plate in the sky and the sun's reflection made it appear as it there were two suns in the sky. Nobody was aware of this trick and attempts by various holy men to break the spell, failed.

Dastur Meherji, it is said, performed the Kusti and recited certain prayers from the Avesta. Probably, it was the Vanant Yasht (known for its effectiveness in breaking evil spells) or, perhaps, a very powerful Nirang. To cut a long story short, the metal plate came crashing to the ground and the magician stood exposed and disgraced.

Inspired by the drama that unfolded, the famous musician Tansen, composed a song (in Raag Sarang) which had the line "Elahoo Parsee Padhe Sho Kabool" (i,e,, O God, the prayers of Parsee are accepted). Tansen refers to Dastur Meherji with the words: "Lambi lambi dahadee Shah Mehreyari (i.e., Mahiyaar or Meherji) tere mukh par barshat noor" (i.e., Shah Mehriyar, your beard is long, your face is radiant with fame). Tansen, in his time, was the Sangeet Samrat (King of Classical Music) and one of the gems (ratna) at the Royal Court.

There was no direct historical reference to this encounter Dastur Meherji had with the magician. However, this has been part of the oral tradition for more than four centuries.

Dastur Meherji passed away at a ripe old age on Roj Daepadar, Mah Asfandarmad 960 Y.D. (1591 AD). Today, even after four centuries since his passing away, the priests in Navsari perform his baaj ceremony every year on Roj Daepadar, Mah Asfandarmad.

At the Atash Behram in Navsari, there is a natural formation in the marble slab on the wall facing the Holy Fire, bearing an amazing resemblance to Dastur Meherji. The turban, long beard and uplifted hands are quite clear. Sceptics may dismiss this natural formation as a flight of imagination. For the mystic, however, this is Nature's imprint of a Zarathushtrian saint who influenced many lives.

It apperas that four years after Dastur Meherji's passing away, Akbar granted an additional 300 bighas of land to Dastur Meherji's son, Kaikobad. This was in addition to the 200 bighas of land gifted earlier as Madad-e-Maash.

May Dastur Meherji's fravashi bless us all with the gift of deeper knowledge, wisdom and spiritual bliss.

Dastur Jamshed Ervad Sohrab Kukadaru

Dasturji Kukadaru's name and fame has spread far and wide both in India and abroad. Even today, his portrait adorns the walls of several Atash Behrams, Agiaries and Zarathushtrian homes. He is said to have performed many miracles during his lifetime. His fravashi continues to bless and bring succour to those who remember him and invoke his name in prayer.

The greatness of this man lies in his simplicity and humility. He was born on 26th May 1831 (Mah Avan, Roj Jamyad) at Surat. He always used to remain engrossed in prayers. His material needs were frugal. A strict vegetarian, he would eat just one meal a day - usually khichdi and a little ghee. It is said he used to cook the rice himself b placing the vessel in the sun and recite certain manthras. He lived the life of a hermit.

He was an intuitive astrologer. He is believed to have accurately predicted the day and time (to the hour) of Dastur Peshotan Sanjana's death. He had also accurately predicted the death of Queen Victoria and Sir Dinshaw Petit.

Once, when a marriage procession was passing through Chira Bazaar in Mumbai, Dasturji sent word that the procession should halt for about an hour. No one paid heed. Within a short time, there was an accident and the bridegroom perished on the spot.

Dasturji had developed qualities of clairvoyance as a result of certain tarikats (spiritual discipline), amal (ritual power), manthravani (prayers) and leading a life of ashoi (righteousness).

Dasturji also had knowledge of Avesta and Pahlavi. He had served as a teacher at the Seth Jijibhai Dadabhai Zend Avesta Madressa at Fort, translated certain volumes of the "Dinkard" and contributed regularly to a journal called 'Yazdan Parast'. He had also brought out various booklets, one of which was 'Khoasa-e-afringan' in which he advocated reciting the 'Tao ahmi nemane' karda.

As a Panthaky of the Seth Shapurji Kappawalla Agiary in Mumbai, he commanded tremendous respect among the behdins. Although the title of Dastur was conferred on him posthumously, the behdins regarded him as a Dastur (High Priest) even during his lifetime. Whenever he attended a wedding or navjote, the whole gathering would stand up as a mark of respect.

One day, a Muslim Pir (Saint) appeared at the gate of the Kappawalla Agiary with a view to test Dasturji's spiritual powers. After some discussion, the Pir challenged Dasturji to bring the water level of the Agiary well to the surface. Dasturji agreed, but warned that if the water overflowed, the sin of wasting water would be on the Pir's head.

After performing the Padyab Kushti, Dasturji began to pray. Towards the end of the prayers, the water level began to rise. When the water surfaced right upto the top, the Pir implored Dasturji to stop. The water receded and the Pir left singing Dasturji's praise.

Dasturji was also a healer. The Zarathushtrian scriptures speak of various types of healers, including those who heal with the power of ashoi (holiness/righteousness) and the power of manthras (prayers). Dasturji, with the power of his ashoi and manthravani, healed a number of ailing and suffering persons. When Mr. Jehangir Karkaria, a teacher at Bharda New High School, was just three year's old, he had a severe attack of jaundice. Doctors had lost all hope and his life was in danger. When all seemed lost, the child's grandmother took the ailing boy to Dasturji at the Agiary. Dasturji made the old lady sit at a certain spot with the ailing child in her lap. Dasturji sat at some distance and began to pray. He also placed a brass bowl full of clean well water between them. As Dasturji prayed, the water in the bowl began to turn yellow and the child began to recover. The child grew up to be a well-regarded teacher and mathematician and died at a ripe old age.

The miracle for which Dasturji is most remembered is the one connected with the establishment of the Anjuman Atash Behram. Dasturji Kaikhushru Jamaspji, while raising funds for the new Atash Behram, approached Kukadaru Saheb for his contribution. Kukadaru Saheb requested Jamaspji to go to the next room and sell the item which he would find there. The item happened to be a gold brick which, in those days, fetched a sum of ten thousand rupees. It is likely that Kukadaru Saheb was also wellversed in the science of Alchemy. We know today, in the light of modern science, that when the number of protons in the nucleus of an atom of any element is changed (i.e., increased or decreased) the element itself can change from one to the other. Perhaps Dasturji with his ashoi and manthravani had the power to alchemise metals.

To conclude, Dasturji Jamshed Sohrab Kukadaru was an able astrologer, a divine healer, a scholar and teacher, and able panthaky, alchemist and, above all, a simple and pious priest who worked ceaselessly to remove pain and suffering. He passed away on 4th October 1900 (Roj Behram, Mah Fravardin) but continues to abide with the community in spirit.

Many continue to be blessed with his vision and healing touch even today.

Ya Noore Dastageer Nirang

"Ya noore dastageer ya dastgeere noor;
Karam kar kareema,
Rahem karo ya parvardegar
Madad karo ya nabi,
Jarthost tari padshahee"


O giver of bright light, guide or (path finder) Sarosh Yazad,
help our soul to do auspicious deeds;
O God, be merciful for repentance of our sins;
help us so that we accept and affirm the rule of prophet Zarathushtra.

Amin !